About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lessons Learned from a Cat Named SpecialT

As I've said before, one of the best things about hosting a blog is the other authors who share their stories with me. I'm often moved, inspired, and awestruck. Today I'm welcoming author, S. Jenny Boyer who is discussing the inspiration behind her book, Special T Nine Lives. 


Inspiration for the book SpecialT  Nine Lives─Nine Names by S. Jenny Boyer
My stories are all based on what I observed or shared with my little animal friends over the years. My inspiration for SpecialT, the lead character, was my wise and wonderful pet cat. As I learned piece by piece about the 10 years he lived before he was divinely sent to me, I knew I had to tell his story one day. Many people love animals, and can recognize their pets in T's struggles, and his escape from his valleys to his mountaintops, and identify with the lessons he taught me.
Excerpt from book: from Chapter 4,    Cat Fight, Lesson Learned
The night it happened was quiet and quite dark. Here in the country we have no street lights. It was the time of a new moon, so shadows were deep and night creatures were hard to see. Cats roamed the neighborhood freely then, and there were few complaints from neighbors about their night adventures while the rest of us were sleeping.
All at once a screech of gigantic proportions woke me from a sound sleep. I sat straight up in bed, then rushed to the window to see what was happening. There in the dark shadows of the driveway I could just make out T face-to-face with Wildcat, the next door neighbor's cat who was so jealous of T that the neighbor had returned T to live with us. The howls went back and forth on different tone levels, each escalating in sound. I grabbed my robe and slippers and literally leaped down the steps to put a stop this fracas, all the while whispering a prayer.
God, please protect T and Wildcat from each other. T is so gentle, I do not think he knows how to hold his own in a fight with Wildcat.
I ran out of the house through the garage just as the physical battle took place. Legs were flying in all directions, gray and orange intertwined like a pinwheel out of control, all accompanied by howls of distress and anger. I turned on the driveway lights and grabbed an old aluminum pot and a small hand rake and began beating them together with all the force I could muster as I ran towards the fur ball action At the harsh banging sounds, the entangled cats split apart, with Wildcat running home, and T lying still on the blacktop.
Oh God, let T be okay.
I picked up T and he looked at me with his calm golden eyes, his body limp, but breathing. I could imagine him asking me, "What just happened, Mom? Wasn't that a cat, isn't he supposed to be my friend?" I searched T's body for a puncture wound, which I knew from past experience with other cats could easily become infected, but with his long hair it was difficult to see down to T's skin. The one thing I did find was a V-shaped split in one of his ears, slightly tinged with blood.
Back we went to the vet when they opened the next morning. No real damage had been done, no puncture wounds to the body, but the cartilage in the ear would never heal together, and could not be stitched together, so T would always sport a natural “V” to remind us and him of his close call with danger. We called it his "victory" notch.
Summary The book is about the life of a wonderful tabby cat whose zest for living helped him meet and overcome the challenges he faced. T appeared I am sure by divine guidance, in my yard somewhere in the second half of his 20+ years. As I wrote of our time together, I was amazed at all the life lessons he reinforced for me and others. These lessons alone became one of the reasons that I felt compelled to finish and then publish his story. Daily T reminded me that the most important of life's lesson are very simple. It is we who complicate things, and miss out on obvious blessings. Things like baking in the sun, sipping water from a leaf cup, or a stroll through the woods can enrich a day that might otherwise be taken for granted.

The following are some of the lessons T reinforced in my life:
     SPECIALT'S  SHARED LESSONS

       LOVING IS USUALLY NOT PLANNED –
       IT JUST HAPPENS.

      BELIEVE GOD IS IN CHARGE –
      LET HIM WORK.  

     AVOIDANCE CAN SOMETIMES BE
     AS SWEET AS VICTORY. 

     IT IS UNLIKELY THAT A PERSON OR AN ANIMAL
    CAN BE LOVED BY TOO MANY PEOPLE. 

    PETS, LIKE PEOPLE, SHOULD NOT BE
    TAKEN FOR GRANTED. 

    COMPANIONSHIP IS PART OF
    LIFE'S SUSTENANCE.  

Places available for sale: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Halo Publishing, and Signed copies from the author.


About the Author:  Ms. Boyer is a retired nurse, an Infection Control Practitioner, whose world changed dramatically when she let the words swirling inside her escape to paper. Her story of her beloved cat, how he came to live with her later in his life and the lessons she learned from him, changed her life for the better. She lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband Jim. She has three daughters and one step-daughter, and four grandchildren. Several of these family members are in her book. She continues to write about how other creatures impact her life, and the lives of others.


You can find out more about Jenny Boyer, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/myydudk

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com   




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Authors Hosting Authors: the Do's and Don'ts of Guest Blogging #asmsg #writing #oct

I'm an advocate of hosting fellow authors and have been fortunate enough to be a guest on many blogs.  I've learned a lot about various subjects, have had my horizons broadened by authors in different genres, and have also been introduced to new readers. In my years of doing this, I've had both positive and negative experiences, which have inspired me to break this down into a simple list for both blog hosts and guest authors.

The Do's of the Host:

  • Be clear as to what you need from your guest author. Do you want a guest post? If so, give an idea as to the subject matter so the writer has an indication of what you want. If you want an interview, make sure you know the guest author's genre before sending the questions, give an adequate lead time for them to be completed, and a clear deadline as to when you need them. Need jpegs? State it.
  • Follow through with the scheduled posting date. If you are dividing the feature, be clear in communicating that to the author. Guest posts are utilized as promotion for the author and often sync with new releases. An understanding of dates and division of material is needed and appreciated.
  • Know your blog audience! It's okay to say no to an author, even if you know them personally. Don't invite an erotica author onto a PG rated blog and then be upset by the content. It will be a disaster for both you and the author, often creating bad feelings. On the flip side, if your audience likes edgier material and you host an picture book writer...you see where I'm going with this? It's okay to turn down an author because they won't fit with your audience. 
  • Take the time to format the post so it's easy to find and pretty to the eye. The author has poured their heart into their work, wants to use the post as promotional material, and wants to be proud of the way it looks. Taking the time to highlight your guest to the best of your ability builds your reputation as a blogger and strengthens your relationship with the guest author. It's a small world, people talk, build your reputation as a professional. 
  • Follow up. If you're hosting an author in two days and haven't received the material, send a courtesy reminder that they have a scheduled post. A nice note sent as reminder is often appreciated in today's hectic world. If you hear nothing from that author in response, then have a firm policy of how to handle any follow-up requests for a posting. Personally, if you ditch me once without acknowledging it, then I'm most likely booked for the foreseeable future. 
  • Have clear guidelines in place about giveaways. Who is handling it? You or the author? Are you using Rafflecopter or another service? Be clear and stick to it so that there isn't a misunderstanding later. You also owe it to your blog followers and readers to have the answer to this question before stating that you're running a giveaway. If the winner never receives their prize, guess who gets the blame? Yep, you as the host. 
Do's as the Guest Author:
  • Know the demographic of the blog before asking for or accepting a guest spot. Don't just send requests out to every blogger you know. That's not only a waste of time, but unprofessional. You need your guest spot to be a win-win situation. What's the point of displaying your work to people who won't even consider purchasing it?
  • As with all writing, meet the deadline. If the host has requested that they receive all material 48 hours in advance so they have time to format it correctly, adhere to those standards and deliver. 
  • Deliver what is asked for--nothing less. If a host asks for a guest post or an interview, and you only send an excerpt and blurb, don't be surprised if it's not published. Most bloggers don't like to schedule simple promos because it's rarely interesting to their audience. Be a professional and do what is asked of you. 
  • Put your best foot forward in both interviews and guest posts. This is your time to shine! Pretend there are cameras and Matt Lauer is giving you your 15 minutes of fame. Always do your best and remember that you're being introduced to a new audience. 
  • If you're doing a giveaway, know in advance what you want to put up as a prize. I never give out my new releases as prizes because it limits spur of the moment purchases, but I do give away my back list or gift cards. This is your responsibility so think about it before blurting out that you want to do a giveaway. Also, tell the host this when you're scheduling the post so she/he doesn't need to do any last minute scrambling.
  • Comment on your post. Stop by and say thank you to the host, respond to reader comments, and interact as much as possible. This shows that you're accessible and creates good feelings all around. 
  • Prepare a media kit. A media kit has your blurb, publishing information, several excerpts to choose from, author bio, author contact information, and all buy links. Not only does this save you time, it's easy for the host to pull what they need from this. This is a must-have. 
Don'ts for all of the above:
  • Don't be an ass. I don't care if you're the host or the author, remember to be professional at all times. Manners still go a long way, even in cyberspace. 
  • Don't ever treat another's work as if it is unimportant and an "option" for you. These are relationships that you're building. Maybe you don't think blogging is relevant or maybe you think authors have it easy...get over yourselves! Each has its own set of obstacles, challenges, and headaches. Respect goes a long way.
  • Don't flake. Whether you're a host who promises a said date and then fails to deliver--or if you're a writer who forgot to send your work as promised--it's all bad. Bloggers expect content; authors expect their time in the spotlight. When one or the other flakes, it all falls apart. 
  • Don't expect more than you stated up front.
  • Don't deliver less than you promised! 
Above all...be professional and respectful in all things. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Has 'compassion' become a dirty word? #inspiration


I thought that publishing Free Fall would be a completion of a journey; instead it's been the beginning of another. With the sharing of my story, I've inspired others to share their sorrow with me. I've received messages from as far away as South Africa of people telling me their personal experiences of losing a loved one to suicide.

I'm not a counselor, nor do I pretend to be. I respond to these messages with the gentle understanding of one who has walked the same path. I couldn't have done this a few years ago when I was too raw from my own experience to absorb the pain of another. Now I listen (or read as the case may be) with a sense of honor that strangers choose to open their hearts to me. 

There's too little compassion in the world today. It pains me to see the judgment cast onto others for being solitary or sad. Others tell me how isolated they've felt in their grieving process...how confused they've been. I wrote the book so that others would know that they weren't alone on their journey; and, although this was my intention, I had no expectation of the response it would receive. 

To me, this is a symptom of the world we're living in today where people believe rumors, react rather than think, and condemn without hesitation. It's too easy to be divided where we label each other and end relationships based on rash decisions rather than deepening them with thoughtful discussions. Where is the love for our fellow humans? Is compassion seen as weakness rather than strength? 

I hope this tumultuous world begins to simplify soon. Relationships matter more than material things. Humanity matters more than status. We as a collective society need to stop allowing fear of being hurt to interfere with our core need for connection. 

I admit that I've become solitary, but not out of fear. I find comfort in nature, peace, and writing. I'm eliminating all who perpetuate conflict. My need for connection is met by the handful of solid, true friends who have been with me through the darkest times of my life--and by the strangers who reach out to me because of Free Fall or my other books. 

Even a solitary person can be connected--it's being choosy with the connections that makes the difference. I only allow compassionate souls with peaceful intentions in my life now.

Have you ever asked yourself how compassionate you truly are? Do you judge the neighbor who drives an older car or the single mother who dresses in bargain clothes so that her kids have all they need for school? Do you use the words 'liberal' or 'conservative' to pigeon hole another in a debate and perpetuate hate? Do you look at someone grieving and think they are wallowing? Do you see someone struggling with addiction and think they are weak or that you are somehow better than they are? Do you see an overweight person and condemn them as lazy without even knowing their name let alone their story? How compassionate are you? 

I've done these things in the past, I admit, but my journey has softened my edges. Now I take a breath, step back, and listen. We're all doing the best we can with the resources we have. We're all experiencing our own challenges and celebrating successes. It's not a competition of who has it worse or who has it better. Learning to accept another human being as they are in this moment is the greatest gift we can give to them...and to ourselves.

As for the success of Free Fall, I'm humbled and grateful. My intention from the beginning was to share my story so that no one would ever need to feel as alone as I did. I wrote it from a place of compassion and love--and the fact that it's been embraced touches me more deeply than I ever imagined.

Peace to you who read this today. I am hopeful that by understanding another's suffering, we can indeed breed a culture of compassion.