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Excerpt from Travels with Elly (MacDonald)

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SASKATCHEWAN  “Between the blush at dawn and dusk the long kiss of land and sky, bare against each other.”  From “The Prairie” in This Land by Ken Odland  The sun shown brightly as we crossed the border into the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan. Temperatures approached 30° Celsius, about 10 degrees above normal for September. Immediate impressions, as seen from the highway, were checkerboard fields of amber, ochre, and green. Fall is harvest time in the prairies and many farmers were taking advantage of the fine weather to collect their crops. On distant horizons, columns of dust rose behind tractors pulling reaping machines. Grain elevators, always beside railroad tracks, were prominent landmarks in most small towns.  British Columbia’s landscape is mostly mountainous; Alberta has mountains to the west and prairie to the east; Saskatchewan, at least the southern section, is endless flat prairie. Two tongue-in-cheek sayings that capture the essence of this fla

A Publisher's Conversation with Authors: The Unique Life Cycle of a Book

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  It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side. Today's topic  is a look at the life cycle of books -- how they differ, how do you define "success" and "failure," and what authors can expect over a lifetime. Here at MSI Press, we have seen a variety of paths taken by successful books (and ones that have not fared as well). For lack of better nomenclature, I would say that we have hares, tortoises, dogs, cats, and mountain goats.  Hares As in the fable, the hares start out fast. These books have strong launches, sell hundreds of books in the first few weeks (from a larger press, these might show up as thousands of sales) and then, quite suddenly s

A Question for Caturday: Can you, will you, help the cats (and dogs) left homeless in Ukraine?

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  War and natural disasters create atrocious living circumstances not only for the people caught in the vortex but also for their pets, who are not used to foraging for themselves, have not built up the skills for survival, and are met with austere conditions too frequently too overwhelming to support their efforts to stay alive. Ukrainians are devoted to their pets; having to leave them behind may look like desertion but in a blitzkrieg style war can be the only option to helping ensure a fleeing family itself survives -- and is likely gut-wrenching. Many families are scooping up their pets. Some cannot, and their pets are now on the streets. Network for Animals is stepping in and doing the best it can to take care of animals left behind. It needs help. Help = money. Any amount; US dollars stretch farther there than here. Network for Animals is registered in a number of countries, including Brazil, the USA, and UK, as a reputable charity, and contributions are considered tax deductibl

Excerpt from How My Cat Made Me a Better Man: Why Cats Make Better Mentors Than Dogs

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Why Cats Make Better Mentors Than Dogs  1) Pet’s goal in life: Dog: Please his master. Cat: Please herself. Point: Cat 2) How pet gets what it wants: Dog: Begging for it. Cat: Taking it. Point: Cat 3)  How pet endears itself to humans: Dog: Demeaning tricks. Cat: Being herself. Point: Cat 4) Pet’s favorite activity: Dog: Long, repetitive walks. Cat: Sleeping. Point: Cat 5) Likelihood pet will eat its own vomit: Dog: Extremely high. Cat: Pretty unlikely. Point: Cat Read more excerpts HERE , along with information about the author and book. Check out the book page for How My Cat Made Me a Better Man at the MSI Press website.

Some Fun Reading for Caturday: Excerpt from My Cat Made Me a Better Man (Feig): I Am Not Wearing That Leash

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  I Am Not Wearing That Leash  Cat Tale : Shelly was an indoor cat so I thought she might benefit from going outside. She could breathe the fresh air and smell exciting new things. But since my apartment was on a busy street, I didn’t have the nerve to let her go out untethered. I was afraid she might run away or get eaten by a pack of coyotes. So, I decided I’d walk her on a leash. The idea made sense at the time. After all, why would a pet store sell cat leashes if it weren’t at least theoretically possible to put one on a cat?  The leash was really more of a harness, where you slip each of the cat’s front paws through a loop, then tighten the cord so the whole thing fits snugly. I’ve seen them on dogs before, mostly bulldog types with portly bodies and stumpy little legs.  I brought the leash home and put it on the floor, letting Shelly check it out. She was suspicious but also curious. As she started to sniff it, I made my move. I took her paw and slipped it through one

Excerpt from How My Cat Made Me a Better Man: Why Cats Make Better Mentors than Dogs

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Why Cats Make Better Mentors Than Dogs  1) Pet’s goal in life: Dog: Please his master. Cat: Please herself. Point: Cat 2) How pet gets what it wants: Dog: Begging for it. Cat: Taking it. Point: Cat 3)  How pet endears itself to humans: Dog: Demeaning tricks. Cat: Being herself. Point: Cat 4) Pet’s favorite activity: Dog: Long, repetitive walks. Cat: Sleeping. Point: Cat 5) Likelihood pet will eat its own vomit: Dog: Extremely high. Cat: Pretty unlikely. Point: Cat Excerpt from How My Cat Made Me a Better Man (Code FF25 for 25% discount at MSI Press webstore) Also available on Kindle Jeremy Feig is originally from a small town in slightly upstate New York. After graduating from New Paltz College, he moved to Los Angeles for TV and film production work before stumbling into a career in digital marketing. Jeremy spends much of his time working on creative projects, usually involving comedy. He’s written numerous screenplays and TV scripts, created ori

Excerpt from how My Cat Made Me a Better Man: Introduction

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I moved to Los Angeles a year after graduating college. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot going for me. I worked intermittently at a series of terrible jobs. My studio apartment was the size of a large shoebox. Money was so tight that ramen noodles were a luxury. And I was completely alone. Who knew that being broke, underemployed, and living in a glorified closet wouldn’t appeal to the ladies? I felt pretty down. I was alone in the world and didn’t see a way to lift myself up into a better situation. So, I thought carefully about all my options. Should I empower myself with a self-help book? No, those are for chicks (or so I told myself). Could I talk things over with my friends? Doubtful. Sharing my feelings with a group of guys didn’t appeal to me because, well, I’m a guy. I briefly toyed with the idea of seeing a life coach. But that wouldn’t work because who in their right mind sees a life coach? I couldn’t come up with any other options. So, where could I go to get my life

Excerpt from How My Cat Made Me a Better Man (Feig): Confidence

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  Confidence Dogs will perform silly little tricks to earn affection from their masters. Cats will never stoop to that level. So, while my childhood cocker spaniel would happily present his paw for me, Shelly would roll her eyes at what an idiot I was for even asking for it. We're not all born with an innate sense of confidence and self-worth. So, think like a cat, and don't do things that are beneath you. You're better than that. Just because someone tells you to dance doesn't mean you should bust out the Macarena.   There's no reason to kiss up to your boss, praising his genius for every pointless idea he suggests. Unless you're a ninja at brown-nosing, it'll be obvious what you're doing. It won't make you look good, either. You'll just seem like someone who lacks the confidence to say what he really believes. Think in the same terms for your relationships. If your girlfriend blames you for something that went wrong, that doesn't me

Adopt a Furry Valentine, Suggests NYACC

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  The New York City Animal Care Centers suggest adopting a shelter pet for Valentine's Day. There is now an adopted shelter pet in the White House. How many households would it take, following suit, to empty the shelters? Often, shelter pets come from people who are too ill to continue to care for them or who have died. They are housebroken, domesticated, socialized, and usually loving. What a good companion that might be! Personally, I (MSI Press managing editor -- I am generally the one who writes our blog posts) "adopt" my pets from the street. Five of my current 6 cats were feral rescues, just picked up and brought in. As far as I know, none were abandoned but had been born "in the wild" and had scrapped for food. They did not know a kind touch, and vets wrote FERAL in big red letters across their charts. That is mainly because the cats hissed at them and either scratched or bit them or both. It takes some effort and TIME (not days and weeks, but months and

Update on Cats and Dogs in Ukraine

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With the current freezing conditions and the increased bombing, the situation in Ukraine is becoming more dire, but the  Network for Animals  continues to feed abandoned animals, support shelters, and help the injured. It must be heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to have to leave a pet behind; knowing that care is being given by NFA has to be just a little reassuring. But NFA cannot take care of all those wonderful critters without help, especially monetary assistance. At its website, click on the video icon to listen to the director's appeal and get an auditory and visual update on what is happening, what help is being given, and what help is needed. There continues to be grave concern that at some point the supply chain will be cut off, so a major effort is being made to gather in as many supplies as possible now. Even just a few dollars can help. All too often, when humanitarian aid is gathered for people, the animals are forgotten. Both people and animals need help. Please consid

A Suggestion for Some Direction of Black Friday Money Flow

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  Many people spend money on Black Friday -- savings and all, you. Some people spend a lot. We are suggesting that this Black Friday you spend a little to help a lot with the little creatures of life. Cats and dogs in shelters need support for payment of dire medical needs, as well as fostering and adopting. Consider helping out a local shelter this Black Friday. And/or help out an organization that feeds stray cats and provides them a home. Here are two that we follow:   Ernesto's Sanctuary for Syrian Cats  in Aleppo   Chachi's Haven in Israel

Cancer Diary: High Heat/Charred Meat, a Surreptitious Potential (Likely?) Cause of Some Kinds of Cancer

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We love grilling. Carl had quite a reputation for grilling hamburgers, hot dogs, salmon, and more, a tradition carried on by his children (son Shawn in the picture) and grandchildren (granddaughter Neela in the picture). Friends, family, and neighbors always loved coming by for Carl's BBQs.  Then, Carl fell and was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer of Unknown Primary , which is an aggressive cancer, leaving little time to cope with rapid changes , let alone grilling or any kind of final fun. His oncologist thought that the primary probably was in the GI tract. Carl had skipped his colonoscopy (no one should ever do that). He was treated with a generic mix of chemicals as well as a mixture for colorectal cancer. It was too late! What we never realized during all those years of grilling was the potential connection between grilling and cancer. Had we known that, maybe Carl would have grilled less or differently. Perhaps he would have been more diligent about getting his colonoscopy. By

A Special Request on Caturday for Cats (and Dogs) in Ukraine

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  Network for Animal s in Ukraine are begging for donations while there is still time. They need to stockpile food while they still can, as well as medical supplies. Well, here is one of their notes: We are finding ways to channel food to countless abandoned animals who face  death by bomb blasts, airstrikes and enemy fire . Two days ago, we managed to get roughly 1.3 tons (1,300 kilograms) of food to hungry tummies, as well as provide medical supplies. Yesterday, we delivered another two tons (2,000 kilograms) of food, and today we hope to do even better. The Russians are closing in and supply lines are closing. The animals need your help NOW! We don’t know how much longer we can maintain our supply routes as the Russians close in. This makes what I am about to say even more URGENT:  Please, donate right now  to Network for Animals, while there is still a chance to rush emergency aid and food to desperate animals.  We are their only hope. They are feeding about 2 tons of food a day. A

Book Excerpt from How to Argue with an Atheist (Brink): Accept the Limits of Science

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  STEP #3. ACCEPT THE LIMITS OF SCIENCE STUDENT: Dr. Brink? BRINK: Yes, oh come on in for our weekly conversation. STUDENT: I don't think I'll come in. I just stopped by to say thank you for all the time you have given me, but I don't think I'll be coming bac k. BRINK: I have enjoyed our conversations. But I thought that we would have a few more before I was done giving you my complete answer. STUDENT: I am sure that you have more to say, but I think that I got enough. I don't really disagree with anything you have said so far. I really thought about what we said last time about the limits of reason, and I do agree with that, and that it all comes down to making a decision, a commitment, and I have made my decision. I am going to stay with science, not just for my major and career, but my view of the world, evolution and all. BRINK: Well do come in and grant me a conversation about science. STUDENT: OK, I guess that I do have the time. BRINK: Tell me w