Perfect Pet Pictures: My dogs Hazel and Katrina

It’s easy to see that my dogs mean everything to me. I have two dogs: Hazel is a rescue that is an Italian Greyhound/Beagle Mix that will five years old on June 26, and Katrina, a purebred Dachshund, that was also a rescue because her caretaker went into assisted living and could no longer care for her. She just turned nine on March 15. We mostly call her Nugget because of her small size.

This video will begin our journey down memory lane with three different ways my dogs make me smile:

  1. Hazel “twerks” preferably on wet towels
  2. Katrina is one of those Netflix and chill dogs. She enjoys romantic shows with a strong female lead like Jane The Virgin. In this clip, I caught her watching.
  3. Hazel loves Justin Bieber. We have that in common. Ever since the day she came to us, she knew who he was and fell asleep listening to his music. She’s my little Belieber.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Katrina. It was taken during a funny photo shoot we did with the dogs of them wearing Mickey ears.  It shows Katrina’s faith in a higher power and her sassy attitude. This picture to me screams, Are you there, God? It’s me, Katrina. 

 

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Above, you can see some of my favorites from the funny photo shoot.

 

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I snapped this of my dogs lined up looking out the window. The second Katrina posed for the camera. She’s the least camera shy of the two of them.

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I caught this photo after Katrina got a bath, and her smile just totally went with the whole Friday meme thing. And it made my day!

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Nutrish by Rachel Ray was having a contest and Hazel not only snapped this picture but she smiled. All I said to her was “Hazel, you want to be famous?”

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This was taken while Katrina was watching the Price is Right. She loves that show and hopes to one day see me on there shouting her out and winning big!

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I snapped this of Hazel because I loved that she was just sitting like this on the couch and smiling. Even after all she’s been through, she finds a reason to smile every day and it motivates me that I can too.

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Here’s Katrina on her recent birthday. I got her a sling so I can carry her around in it because she loves to cuddle and there is nothing like a Nugg Hug.

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Katrina loves to be in my Youtube videos to show the world that she’s my #1 fan and always right by side.

 

Lastly, this is my favorite memory of Katrina and Hazel wearing some Bieber related shirts in support of Justin on his birthday. The picture on the left is cute because you can see Katrina posing with her tale wagging. She thought I was taking a video. And then they both posed to show the back of the shirts.

Preserve your favorite memories of your pets with a digital picture frame from Aura with their new pet collections.

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#AuthorInterview: Debut Author of Alice, J.M. Sullivan

Joining me to chat about the publishing process, her debut novel (Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles is out today from Pen Name Publishing.), and other re-tellings she has in the works, J.M. Sullivan is my second author I’ve gotten to interview:

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The Smart Cookie asks: How do you bring your characters to life?

J.M Sullivan:

 I know a lot of authors that have these incredibly sophisticated methods of character planning and development, but I am not one of them! One trick I do have that I would recommend to any author (which is totally fun too) is completing a personality test (or two) as each character. Answering the questions the way the character would can give some incredible insight to details that you might not otherwise consider. I also find it helps me get into their mindset a lot easier. From there, when I’m writing, I just defer to the character! I let them do the talking, and I just put down the words. 😉

The Smart Cookie asks: Very cool. I’ll take that into consideration as another way to develop my own novel. Did you always want to be a writer?

J.M. Sullivan:

 I’ve always known I loved writing and thought that it would be a dream job, but I never thought it would actually happened. For me, being an author seemed the equivalent of wanting to be an international pop-star; a super cool thought, but not likely. Sometimes it still seems so surreal that my book is coming out and people are excited to read it. It’s a dream come true!

The Smart Cookie asks: Your book is a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Why did you choose Alice or did Alice choose you?

J.M Sullivan:

Alice definitely chose me. I got the idea for the Wanderland Chronicles kind of out of the blue. My husband and I had been on a zombie movie kick and somehow Alice in Wonderland popped up in the chaos of my brainspace (it’s scary in there!) and I thought of the Red Queen’s iconic line: ‘Off with their heads!’ and I realized that it fit perfectly with zombie lore and that it had fantastic potential. I started writing that night.

The Smart Cookie asks: Haha I definitely saw the zombie influence while reading it. You are also working on a re-telling of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I’m super excited about this by the way because Peter Pan is my favorite story. Anything you can tease us with about the retelling? 

Sure! THE NEVERLAND TRANSMISSIONS (working title) is a SciFi retell of Peter set in outer space, told in a dual POV with Peter & Wendy. It’s with my betas right now, and I have to say, I’m pretty excited with the feedback I’m getting. But no good teaser would be complete without some lines, so I’ll just leave this here…

Wendy cleared her throat, schooling her voice into the formal tone she reserved for her superiors.
“Is there more to the transmission that I need to be aware of, Admiral?”
Toussant nodded. Though her lips pressed together, she seemed pleased with Wendy’s response. Another click of a button and the transmission continued.

“So far, the strangest phenomena of the planet is how it has affected our aging process. The days run longer here; as do the nights. I don’t have an exact calculation, but I would estimate we have been here for ten earth years, yet I look the same as I did the day we left. So does the twelve year old cabin boy. It’s as if not a single day has gone by. It is this phenomena that has inspired the name our crew has assigned the planet. We call it NEVERLAND.”

The Smart Cookie : I’m so excited. Peter Pan is my favorite fairytale.

Also, speaking of Peter Pan, did you ever watch the 2003 version from Universal Pictures starring Jeremy Sumpter?

J.M Sullivan: I have! My love for fairy tales and books definitely doesn’t just stay in the realm of books. And my family is all about movies, so we watch a lot of them! I have to say my favorite Peter Pan movie of all time is (and probably will always be) Hook with Robin Williams, but the 2003 Peter Pan was pretty great!

The Smart Cookie: I’ve never seen the Robin Williams version so I will have to check that out.

. Alice and Dinah’s relationship is very endearing throughout the book. Do you have brothers or sisters and is that what you used to give authenticity to that part of the story?

J.M. Sullivan: I do! I have two younger brothers who I absolutely adore. Growing up, we were super close and we always spent a lot of time together. My mom used to always say my brother Zach and I were twins born three years apart. Though we’ve grown up and we’re all in different places now, I still think of them every day and I just want them both to know how proud I am of them. I would fight a pack of ravenous momerath for them any day, just like Alice does for Dinah.

The Smart Cookie: At what point in your writing career did you think publishing a book was realistic, as opposed to just a dream?

J.M. Sullivan: 

I didn’t think that my work could be published until after I finished writing and sent it to my friend (and writing buddy) to read. Honestly, I was just so pleased that I had finished writing a manuscript that I couldn’t wait to see what she thought. I figured she’d send it back and say it was alright, but when we met for coffee she looked at me with wide eyes and said ‘This is really good. You know, you could get this published.’ Although I thought she was still just being a good writing partner, it was the first time I ever really considered pursuing publication.

The Smart Cookie: After a manuscript is complete, what is the critical first step in the publishing process?

J.M. Sullivan: 

Research! There are SO many different publishing options nowadays, that there are literally thousands of paths to getting published. And, what’s right for you may not be right for someone else. Take the time to sit down and study your options before you decide what you really want. Once you’ve figured that out, go for it! 😀

The Smart Cookie: How much education about publishing does a debut novelist need to get started? What are the basics?

Sullivan: 

Well, I went into it knowing literally NOTHING. And while my path to publishing was definitely not the smoothest route, I am absolutely proof that even the biggest ‘noob’ can find a good fit if they are willing to put in the work. Again, the options are practically endless these days, but if you’ve got a computer and Google, you can accomplish some great things!
As a side note, if you’re looking into publication and you haven’t already, I would HIGHLY recommend you get a Twitter account! It was an absolutely INTEGRAL part to finding my publisher and one of the BEST.THINGS. I have ever done for my writing career.

Did you have any criteria in mind for agents, editors and publishing houses?

J.M. Sullivan: 

When I decided to find someone to represent Alice, I knew I wanted someone who believed in her as much as I did (and maybe even more on my low-self confidence days). To me, it wasn’t enough to find someone who would just slap a story on some paper and call it good, I wanted to find a team who would work with me to bring Alice to life and who really had a vision to make her great.

The Smart Cookie: This is your debut novel. How did your first publishing experience stack up to your vision of what it would be like?

J.M. Sullivan: 

My publishing experience has surpassed anything I could have ever dreamed. I ended up choosing a small press called Pen Name Publishing and the team there is just amazing. My editor in chief works so hard for everyone and I completely trust that she has my best interests at heart. It isn’t one of the ‘Big 5,’ but for where I am right now, it’s the perfect fit for me.

The Smart Cookie: What has been your greatest publishing lesson? Anything you would do over or skip?

J.M. Sullivan: 

My ‘do-over’ would include two different aspects. First, I would put more confidence in my own work. I think part of my convoluted road happened because I wasn’t sure enough in my work to stand on it’s own and I didn’t know ANYTHING about publishing so I started out backwards. If I had to do it all over, I would go in with more faith in myself, and then spend more time researching and setting my goals BEFORE jumping in.

What were your greatest resources for learning about publishing when you first set out to publish Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles?

Sullivan:

This is going to sound crazy, but my number one go to response for this question or any type of writing resource question is Twitter. I can already see some people giving me the side eye as they read this, so let me explain. The writing community on Twitter is simply phenomenal. There are so many other writers out there willing to encourage and help you that it absolutely blew me away. Add in the incredible pitching parties and writing games and events, Twitter is literally a haven for writers. So go, go, go! Login and start networking (and find me @_JM_Sullivan)! You won’t regret it!

Which writers have influenced you?

I think all of my favorite authors have influenced me in some way. Their worlds and words shaped who I am and helped teach me what I know and love about literature. So while it would be really hard for me to pinpoint just one author and one particular way it affected me, I can confidently say all the books I’ve read and the authors who wrote them have impacted me in some way.

Lastly, you host #AuthorConfession on Twitter. Share something with your readers in relation to Alice.

Hmm. Well, I love Easter Eggs in movies so with Alice, I threw in a few of my own! There are several references to some of my favorite tv shows, movies, and books hidden in the pages as well as a secret message. If you look really carefully you can even find a hint towards my next book project! It was so fun working them all in, that it’s a tradition I plan to keep up with all of my future books.

Keep up with all J.M. Sullivan’s works new and forthcoming by bookmarking/following her blog

For a review of Alice please go here.

 

 

 

#NationalPetDay: How My Dogs Benefit My Health

Before I get to the ways my dogs benefit my health, I would like to introduce and wish my dogs Happy National Pet day.

My dogs are both rescue dogs. Hazel is a four year old beagle/Italian Greyhound mix who came to us during the summer of 2012 after roaming around my neighborhood for weeks during a tropical storm. Katrina came to us in 2013 after her previous owner had to go into assisted living and could no longer take care of her. 20151205_145303-1

As far as I can tell you, my dogs do nothing but make me feel good and especially within my mind. They make me laugh which helps reduce any feelings of anxiety, pain, and depression. Hazel does this by wearing pillows as hats and twerking. Katrina does this by wearing a goofy grin especially if I’m holding a cup of coffee and doing a wiggle I like to call the “tootsie roll.”

They make me feel less isolated and alone especially while home alone working on novels or reading someone else’s for an upcoming review. Anytime I want to watch tv or read, they love to join me just to be a part of what I’m doing. Both dogs love to watch Jane The Virgin with me, and Katrina likes The Price is Right.

They boost my self-esteem. I know they love me just by the way they look at me. And because of their love for me, it gives me confidence to try new things like finally get behind the wheel and drive, lose that weight, or even say hi to a stranger. (Writers tend to be introverts, fyi).

I am so grateful for them as both my dogs and my friends because as long as they are by my side, I know that I cannot fail. And if I do, they will lick my face and tell me to try again. And because I want to be good to them, I do. Yet, I’ve never once regretted letting them into my heart and my home once they wiggled their way in.

Looking for a dog but don’t know where to start? Visit Puppyspot to see the current puppies they have for sale.

 

#AuthorInterview: The Door Keeper’s Keeper, @SteenJones

Today I welcome Steen Jones, author of The Door Keeper Trilogy to be my debut author interview.

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The Smart Cookie asks: How Did the idea of The Door Keeper come to fruition?

Steen: That’s actually an interesting story! About 7 or 8 years ago, I noticed a door on the edge of a field close to where I lived at the time. It was a freestanding door that lead seemingly nowhere, but of course with my imagination, I immediately decided it went to Narnia. Every time I drove by it, I’d add a little something to the story in my mind, then would forget about it again. Finally, I jotted some notes in my phone and over the next few years, the story developed into a different version than what it is today. Finally, almost exactly 2 years ago, bored one day, I wrote an outline. After that, I simply couldn’t stop. FYI, the door is no longer where it originally was, because it now is in my backyard! (Great story for another time.)

The Smart Cookie asks: Wow. So there was really a door in a field? That’s awesome. How long have you been writing despite this being your debut novel?

Steen: This is an interesting question because I’ve been writing in a different way my whole life, but this is the first time I’ve attempted writing a story. Over the past ten years, I have blogged and journaled off and on as a form of therapy. Both of my kids were diagnosed with special needs while still young, and I learned early on that journaling and writing my prayers helped me manage my emotions and the issues I faced. For whatever reason, it was only a couple of years ago that I thought about actually putting my writing to a different use and writing fiction.

The Smart Cookie asks: Yes, I enjoy prayer journaling as well. Very therapeutic. Is fantasy your favorite genre to write?

Steen:  Absolutely. I love fantasy because of the grand, epic story lines. I adore all things magic and the escape that fantasy provides. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting lost in another world and my imagination being stimulated. There are no rules in fantasy, unless you want there to be. My entire life, I’ve daydreamed, and this gave me an opportunity to actually call it work.

The Smart Cookie asks: The Door Keeper definitely provided me with an escape. I read it in one day. When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Steen:  In the winter, you’ll find me cuddled on the couch with the dogs and my husband drinking wine and binge watching shows on Netflix. That’s about it for winter, I tend to go into hibernation. But in the summer, I’ll be outside at the pool soaking up the sun and relaxing by our pool. I love to garden, growing vegetables and colorful flowers. I’ve recently taken to cooking and baking, sometimes getting lost in the kitchen for hours.

The Smart Cookie asks: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Steen: I love C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. (I’m obsessed that these two were friends.) I also like Rick Riordan, he is so gifted with intertwining mythology and the modern world. I am currently reading the Harry Potter series for the first time, so J.K. Rowling is blowing my mind.

The Smart Cookie asks: Wow, I didn’t know J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were friends. Very fascinating! What other genres do you enjoy reading?

Steen: I love contemporary fiction, romance, and certain Christian books that challenge me.

The Smart Cookie: Good to know we have similar tastes in books. Any advice for aspiring authors or creatives?

Steen: It’s difficult, because my road to being an author is so different than the usual path traveled. But, having experience in life, mothering special needs kids, and running a small business, I definitely have advice in general.

Patience in pursuing your dreams is invaluable. If you are not patient, you will never see your dream come to fruition. It’s the hardest thing to learn, and the most important. Once you do, the world is yours.

Missed my review of The Door Keeper? Check it out here.

#BlogAffiliates: From The Desk of The Smart Cookie, News about my affiliates

Recently,

I got an email from Amazon affiliates stating that they found my site to be not a unique enough business opportunity so any posts you find amazon links in no longer work to contribute fiscally to The Smart Cookie Philes.

I forgive Amazon for their decision as I have recently become a brand ambassador for Alice’s Table.

More on that soon, yet if you would like to become an event host or a brand ambassador please send me an email at wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com

For now, scan0002

If you happen to purchase via Amazon, use smile.amazon.com and enter KCM in the support box.

A portion of your purchase will be donated to a ministry that is now celebrating it’s 50th year.

You can find all my other affiliates here.

If interested in advertising on The Smart Cookie Philes site and social platform, email me at wittywriterpoet26@gmail.com

Espresso Yourself,

The Smart Cookie

 

 

 

 

#TVReview: Where Have All The Good Shows Gone? #BeyondReview

I don’t know about you but I hate when I get into a show only to get the report that it wasn’t renewed. You ask yourself, Why not? and wonder why some shows make the cut despite  low-intelligence content (Mistresses got renewed, ugh).

Thankfully, Netflix has stepped up as the saving grace for deceased television network projects.

Before I get to my review of Beyond, let’s all take a moment of silent reminiscing shows that I’ve fallen head over heels for, and had to watch them be wheeled off set in a white sheet.

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i was stoked for this show because it had a lot of potential. Starring Dean Cain (Superman), Kirsten Storms (Zenon Disney Channel Movies, GH), and Jeremy Sumpter (Peter Pan), it only aired about two episodes before ending shortly and abruptly and could never hope to be saved by Netflix because it aired in 2004 (pre-Netflix streaming days).

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Starring Rachel Bilson (The O.C.), this project from tv great Josh Schwartz (O.C., Gossip Girl) had a four year run following the story of Zoe Hart and how she went from big time emergency room doctor in the Big Apple, and how she finds out her biological father lives in Alabama. When she finds out he has passed away and reads his will, her Big Apple life gets a bit of a taste of Southern hospitality. I loved how wholesome it was, the romantic story lines, the relateable characters (even Lemon turns out to make you tear up as you continue to watch). Thankfully! I caught up with the show on Netflix in order to watch the fourth and final season when it aired live on  the CW. Rumor has it, the show ended because Bilson got pregnant and they could find no one to hold a candle to her portrayal of the role of Zoe Hart. Either way, I was sad to see it go. I could have lived vicariously through Zoe, George, Lemon, and Wade until the end of time.

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When this show first aired, I didn’t really know if it was going to make it. Yet, I watched the episode titled, “Nugget of Wisdom,” and laughed my butt off. It was genuinely funny!

Plot-wise, the show follows  the life of Eliza Dooley, a woman obsessed with the idea of achieving fame through the use of social media platforms, including Instagram, where she regularly posts selfies. She begins to worry that “friending” people online is not a substitute for real friendship, and she seeks help from Henry Higgs, a marketing image guru.

Thankfully, the whole series is now available for streaming via Hulu.

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No!!! Not the spin-off to Boy Meets World! Dang. Both my mother and I sobbed like babies when the last episode aired on January 20, 2017. I very much appreciate how they ended it but I don’t appreciate that Disney Channel has stopped making shows that last for at least four years. Boy Meets World lasted for seven seasons, people. I blame the higher percentage of young kids with mobile devices. It’s causing for an epidemic of short attention-itis.

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This show, focused around a NYPD detective named Laura Diamond, lasted two seasons before it was canceled. Debra Messing was amazing in this, and I couldn’t wait to watch the next episode. Thankfully, you can now stream the entire series via Netflix.

Beyond Review

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FreeForm did something different with this show. They released all ten episodes of the first season to encourage binge watching. Well, thank you, FREEFORM! It worked. From the first scene until the last scene of the tenth episode, I was hooked. Right away, I happened upon the trailer, I could tell it had a spiritual theme and sensed that it was about a near-death experience. Yet, this show was even more than I anticipated. It had romance, steamy hook-ups, science fiction elements, and the infamous “realm.”

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After 12 years, Post-Coma Holden (played by Burkely Duffield) sure woke up looking like a damn dreamboat.

The Smart Cookie hopes that this show Beyond never dies a short, abrupt cancellation death.

Good news among the fandom is that it was already renewed for Season 2. tumblr_lxz93dxv5x1r3lt5ho1_250

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#HolidayFundraiser: Espresso Yourself This Holiday Season

I’m sure you are like, ugh not another fundraiser.

I know, I know. It seems like everyone now a days has a cause.

Everyone seems like they are begging you to pay attention and donate to their cause.

So here I am. Just a 25 year old book and music blogger, asking if you would consider purchasing a shirt to benefit this site. I really hate begging people for money but I think these shirts make great Christmas gifts.

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Plus, ever since I published my first novel, I have loved giving to charity at the end of the year. At the end of every year, I donated a percentage of my royalties to a different charity or split them up between multiple charities. This year, this fundraiser goes to benefit the Progeria Research Foundation

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Book and music reviews are free services but the fact of the matter is, the giveaways used to promote them, aren’t.

And I include everyone in most of my giveaways since most of my readers are international, which I love, because it shows how universal the concepts of literature and music really are. And how under this umbrella, all people from any and all walks of life, can come and feel part of something bigger than themselves. They are free to express themselves and their love of books and music.

The Smart Cookie Philes was founded upon this inclusive nature. And upon the equally important belief that anything is possible if you have the faith to believe in your dreams no matter how big, how small, no matter what anyone believes you can and cannot do.

As a writer myself, I know what’s it like to feel like you don’t belong, that you feel you must remain silent, that you feel like you aren’t good enough as you are.

If you have ever felt this way, then I want you to feel like The Smart Cookie Philes is your place to feel safe, loved, and accepted.

So please share this post with any and all who will listen. And if you can, buy a shirt and wear it with pride knowing that it only looks as good as the person wearing it because the person wearing it is good enough.

 

Happy Holidays and God Bless,

The Smart Cookie