Category: Guest Blogger (page 1 of 2)

Cool Gus Book of the Week: Lost and Found by Amy Shojai

Welcome Amy Shojai to the house!


AmyShojai-Magic-Seren-karma-copyHey there, everyone, and thanks to Jen and Bob for the invitation to guest post. Some of y’all know I write both THRILLERS WITH BITE! and pet-centric nonfiction. Since yesterday (September 18) was National Puppy Mill Awareness Day, I wanted to share a few furry tips to help you out with your special dogs and cats.

Most pet lovers know puppy mills (and kitten mills) are simply poorly run breeding facilities that churn out sad and damaged babies with no regard to the well-being of the pet, or the people who buy them. We have our share of ’em here in North Texas where I live, but I don’t need to rub your face in it. I’d rather share what a GOOD pet source looks like!

You see, in my other life, I’m a certified animal behavior consultant. So is the main character in my September Day thriller series, which also are set in North Texas. September is prettier, younger, and gets in more trouble than I do–but we’re BOTH passionate about proper pet care.


My German Shepherd, Magic, was the inspiration for Shadow, the dog viewpoint character (yes, he has his own chapters) trained by September. I’ve shared a picture of him the first day he came home with us…so cute! In fact, both September and I followed these tips that led us to finding our heart-dogs.

Backyard breeders and puppy mill establishments offer “purebred” puppies dirt cheap, but they won’t pass any of these test questions. You’ll get what you pay for, and your puppy may pay for the rest of his life.


In the first book LOST AND FOUND, September has chosen a German Shepherd to train as a service dog for her autistic nephew. This breed instinctively is protective and works as a “moveable fence” able to keep the boy from wandering.

Rescue dogs and shelters have marvelous pets available, but she wanted predictability based on a savvy breeder’s reputation and knowledge. Legit breeders provide both a health history of parents, the puppy, and registration and health records. I looked for a year before finding Magic’s breeder, and then was on a waiting list for two years. Yes, it was THAT important to me!


Health is an issue for cats, too. September has a Maine Coon cat named Macy who seems healthy, but some breeds of cats and dogs are prone to specific problems. For instance, hip dysplasia may not become apparent until the puppy or kitten is a couple of years old. Dog breeds known to have problems with dysplasia should have the parents tested by OFA or Pennhip. That’s not a guarantee but does help predict if certain dogs should be bred or not.

Puppy and kitten mills don’t care about such things. sigh If you have succumbed to one of these needy babies, though, many pet health problems can be treated. In fact, research into pet health helps people–and vice versa.

I love that about pets, when our mutual bond benefits each other, don’t you?


Before being smitten with pet-love, get an up close and personal look at where the baby was born and raised. Visit the facility. Breeders have valid reasons for declining visits—puppies too young, for instance—but should be able to explain to your satisfaction. (I got to see Magic when he was three days old!)

The facilities should be clean. There should be adequate food and water. Look for warm comfortable sleeping areas free of feces or urine. Expect a modest number of dogs, and go elsewhere if the yard or house is filthy and they’ve got dozens of dogs and different breeds with multiple litters.

Puppies can be hard to keep clean, especially with large litters, but you can tell if cleanliness is neglected or is a priority. If the pups and mom-dog are kenneled, ask how much people interaction is provided. That’s vital for proper socialization. You don’t want to adopt, and then discover your pet is TERRIFIED of men, or can only go potty on cement because he’s never seen grass before.


Ask to see the parents, if possible. Stud dogs often are owned by someone else, but the mother dog should be on the premises. Some mothers are quite protective of puppies, so it may be best to meet her away from the litter.

Checking out mom can be a window into your puppy’s future. That lets you see how the puppy may develop once grown. If the mother dog acts fearful, growls, or must be locked away, reconsider your choice. These traits can be inherited.


The best breeders and rescue organizations want puppies to go to a forever home that provides proper care and training. So expect to be quizzed on what you want and can offer to their treasured baby. If there are no questions from the breeder, run the other way.

Ask if the breeder has ever turned down a sale. You want the answer to be YES, rather than learning they’ll let a puppy go to just anyone who asks.

A healthy puppy from a reputable breeder or rescue organization won’t be cheap. Local newspapers may post advertisements for much less, and you may find the pet of your dreams.


While I do have a nonfiction puppy book available with lots more details about such things, I love including pet-people “issues” in my thrillers. That’s why LOST AND FOUND addresses autism and off-label drugs. It was the book I’d always wanted to read–so I finally wrote it. s

In fact, we’ve made LOST AND FOUND permanently free in all Ebook formats, so perhaps now is your chance for some furry fiction. Jen and Bob updated the cover when that happened so it looks a bit different than in the trailer.

I promise, Shadow doesn’t “talk” (except with canine-appropriate body language), and appears to have gained a fan club with him as a favorite character. Maybe you’ll come to love these characters as much as I do.

Oh, and my cats would get hissed off if I don’t mention them, too. Karma-Kat Is three and Seren-Kitty the Siamese wannabe is 20. And Magical-Dawg just celebrated his 10th birthday. Now…go pet your pets for me!










Cool Gus Book of the Week: Note by Note by Janice Maynard

Welcome Janice Maynard to the House!


Thanks to Bob and Jen at Cool Gus for the invitation to “hang out” with all of you today! I’m sitting here in my little corner of East Tennessee waiting for the temps to drop and the leaves to change. Yes, I’m one of those people. J I love sweaters, what can I say??

Note by NoteMy husband and I live in the foothills of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. I had a feeling that sooner or later I would set a book here. Note By Note is the result. If you’re familiar with the area at all, you’ll probably recognize Statlerville as Sevierville, Tennessee. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Ha…

 Statlerville is a fictional community like many small rural communities. The original downtown of the real Sevierville is anchored by a brick courthouse. The surrounding square is home to a number of shops and restaurants. On the lawn of the courthouse, you’ll find a statue of Dolly Parton, Sevierville’s most famous citizen, playing her guitar.

It’s not uncommon for a large bus to pull up and offload a group of tourists who want to take advantage of the photo op. It’s funny and kind of sweet to see men in their eighties giggling like school boys as they pose beside the statue with their hands on one of Dolly’s assets.

As an important aside, Dolly is phenomenally generous. Her foundation has provided all sorts of benefits to schools in the area. Her most famous project is the Imagination Library. Parents of a newborn can sign up their baby and begin receiving a book a month until the child is five. If you do the math, that 60 books! Not a bad way to introduce a little one to the joy of reading.

One other interesting thing about Sevierville is that you’ll find a core of natives who have grown up together. That was the theme I wanted to pursue in Note by Note. The hero and heroine have literally known each other since grade school. Their friendship has ebbed and flowed over the years. The heroine now has a romantic interest in the hero, but how can she tell him? What if he’s appalled? Or embarrassed?

On the one hand, similar backgrounds and shared interests can make for a solid relationship. But only if both parties feel the same spark. This struggle is “real”, because the hero and heroine have seen each other at their best and worst.

Small-town living has its good and bad. People tend to meddle in your business. Keeping a new relationship private is virtually impossible. But in a crisis, those same busybodies will come out of the woodwork to help you when your barn burns down or your house is flooded.

My husband and I don’t actually live in Sevierville. But we know it well. If you’re a resident, you’ll find yourself welcoming the hordes of tourists coming to see the area. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has an annual visitation of over 10 million! That’s more than any other park in the entire country.

As I write this blog, I realize that today (August 25th) is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. For our family, the parks really are a national treasure. Haven’t made it to all of them, but we’re making progress.

I enjoy writing contemporary stories about interesting characters in unique settings. I had a reader tell me once that she would like to be friends with my characters. I took that as a high compliment.

If you have a chance to read Note by Note, I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Ethan and Jane. And if you haven’t visited eastern Tennessee, I predict you’ll be intrigued by these mountains that the native people called the Land of Blue Smoke.

Thanks for stopping by. As we say here in Tennessee, Happy Fall, Y’all…

Janice Maynard

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google

Fashion and Sin… Let the Fun Begin…

Please welcome to the house, NY Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Probst!


I love summer. And fashion. Which is really funny since my daily wardrobe consists of yoga pants, t-shirts, and bare feet. Still, I was always a bit of a girly-girl and enjoyed putting together fab outfits, paired with accessories. I have a terrible crush on Rachel Zoe. Eventually, I decided it would be fun to incorporate some of my love for good style into a book, and what’s more perfect than a short, sexy beach read about three best friends gathering for a wedding in the Hamptons?

The series contains three books but each can be read as a stand-alone.

Sun. Sand. Sex. Fashion.


When I discovered the Poshmark App—a shopping online paradise that features thousands of women’s closets, designer deals, and a way to sell your own stuff, I was hooked. I thought it would be fun to include Posh in the book and mention some of my favorite closets I consistently shop. I began creating A Posh Picks Pinterest page, and regularly share #JensPoshPicks on my social media page. Follow me at @AuthorJPro and say hello, then get hooked! When you register, use this code JAGEU and you’ll get a 5$ credit! And don’t forget to read Summer Sins to check out Storme’s wardrobe.

With August slowly wrapping up, it’s a perfect time to dive into a beach book before Fall is forcing us to think about boots, holidays, and school shopping.

Only 2.99 available at all online outlets! I’ve included the link to the book trailer to tease you.

Enjoy the rest of your summer. Happy reading and happy shopping!

summer sins by Jennifer Probst 72dpi


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