Novelist Jacqueline Diamond Published 100+ Books

I'd be smiling this happily too if I'd published as many books as Jacqueline Diamond has!
I’d be smiling this happily too if I’d published as many books as Jacqueline Diamond has!

(For an audio version of this post, click H-E-R-E.)

Writing my first novel is hard work. Veteran writers have a lot to teach us. Take Jacqueline Diamond, for instance. She’s published — drumroll here — 102 (maybe more by the time you read this) books! It’s no wonder she won a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award and is a two-time Rita Award finalist. Her books range from mystery and non-fiction to romances for all ages (including some about couples over 50) that span the 1800s to present.

This week I’m working especially hard on meeting a couple of novel-related deadlines I’ve set for myself, so I hope you don’t mind if we get right to our guest. (Oh, but first, for the many readers who enjoyed the guest blog post here at Happiness Between Tails by The Wheelchair Teen, check out the heartfelt dialog within the comments of her reblog of it to her site.)

Jacqueline began her life in Texas. Now she and her family reside in Southern California. At her site, learn more about her, her books, sign up for her newsletter, and find more of her writing tips.

Here’s a video of her discussing how to develop interesting characters. And here she describes the storytelling ins and outs of point-of-view.

Read on for her take on how animals and pets can help round out the writing of fiction, as well as make it that much more fun for readers…

A few of Jacqueline's books and office staff members.
A few of Jacqueline’s books and office staff members.

Like Cats and Dogs! by Jacqueline Diamond

Characters in a novel take on a life of their own—and not always what the author expects. Animals are no exception!

There weren’t any furry creatures in sight when I began writing Really? At Your Age?, Book One of my Sisters, Lovers & Second Chances series. My heroine, Dr. Cody Matchett, has no pets. She’s too busy delivering babies, risking romance at the age of 52, and losing her heart to the possibility of finally having children of her own.

Cover of "Really? At Your Age?" by Jacqueline Diamond.

Then her older sister, Mandy, a resolutely single nurse, has to move in with her for a few weeks…bringing her cats. Beanie and Queenie arrive with attitude! For me, they added a lot to the fun.

Next, while searching out cover images for my next book, Don’t Be Silly! At My Age?, I came across a cat who looks just like Beanie, squaring off with a German Shepherd. And since I wanted Mandy and the new man in her life to (more or less) fight like cats and dogs, it was irresistible.

Suddenly, my hero—a mystery novelist—became the owner of an aging rescue dog. Throughout the story, the animals play a key role. 

One of my favorite scenes occurs when the heroine’s ex-boyfriend worms his way into her house by bribing her cats. A furious Mandy tells him, “You are literally something the cat dragged in!”

Cover of "Don't be Silly! At My Age?" by Jacqueline Diamond.

How did I develop personalities for my cats? That was the easy part! I’ve been owned by several of them and, seriously, have you ever met a cat that didn’t have a distinctive personality?

My experience with dogs is spottier…literally. My family once owned a Dalmatian, a rather high-strung fellow. My hero’s German Shepherd, who gazed at me with soulful eyes from the photo, turned out to be mellower.

On reflection, I’m surprised animals haven’t figured into more of my novels. Perhaps that’s because many of the stories are set in hospitals, such as my Safe Harbor Medical series.

But I’ll be looking for more furry possibilities in the future. After all, they’re fun to read about and fun to write!

What’s your fiction right now? I’m in the middle of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Garden of Eden,” published posthumously. The protagonist is a writer much like Hemingway and apart from the main story, it’s interesting to read of his writing routine and philosophy. Also, I just finished “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows,” by Balli Kaur Jaswal, a fun yet thoughtful novel that wins beaucoup points for the title alone!

Self-Publishing Gets Easier by Ashley L. Peterson

Photo of Ashley L. Peterson's guinea pig, Peanut, sitting at a laptop.
Ashley L. Peterson’s guinea pig, Peanut, is a great help when it comes to self-publishing!

Note: here’s an audio version of this post.

From any angle, writing a book is a huge undertaking — and then when it comes to publishing, that’s even huger, whether through the traditional route or by self-publishing. While I struggle to complete my novels while building an author platform, Mental health nurse/blogger/author Ashley L. Peterson of Vancouver, Canada, has put out several books!

She first visited HBT here — and now she’s back with a new book and more self-publishing advice!…

Ashley’s favorite photo of herself with one of her adorable little ones!

“Self-Publishing: It Gets Easier” by Ashley Peterson

I remember how overwhelming it was when I published my first book. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, and I was just flying by the seat of my pants. I had no idea what to expect when the book was released.

My second book was released 7 months later. I felt much more prepared, but then tossed in the new challenge of selling on sites other than Amazon, including my own website. There were also some hiccups; it felt like forever before Amazon accepted the file for my paperback, which turned out to be because there was a special character that it didn’t recognize and therefore didn’t accept. The biggest problem was my paperback cover; it wasn’t showing up on the Amazon listing as the same colour in the cover file I’d uploaded. I spent a whole lot of time trying to get that sorted out,

Now with my third book, I’m a lot more relaxed about the whole process. Sure, formatting and converting file types is still frustrating; I don’t think that would change even if I’d published a whole bookstore. Overall, though, I’m much more at ease. I feel a sense of mastery that I know how to do this – a very different feeling from the first time around.

I’m a huge list person, and my book launch lists are nicely fine-tuned. I’ve got all the steps laid out, so I can just do things without having to think about them.

While the learning curve is steep and self-publishing can be daunting, it gets easier – really. And if you’re thinking about self-publishing, dive right on in; the water’s warm.

Details on my new book Managing the Depression Puzzle can be found here.

What’s your experience with publishing and building a platform?

Ollie, the Moose, and a Deer by beetleypete: Reblog

Ever daydream about swapping your stressful job for countryside ease with your most charmingly wrinkled best friend?

Ollie is blogger beetleypete’s Shar-Pei.

Blogger beetleypete did just that — retired and relocated from London to rural Norfolk, taking with him his wife as well as his seven-year-old Shar-Pei dog, Ollie. Here offers us a snapshot of his new life for us to drool over…

beetleypete

By the time it came to take Ollie for his walk on this Sunday afternoon, it had been raining here for almost 24 hours, non-stop. I was not in the best of moods, having been awakened early by a particularly torrential downpour whilst it was still dark outside.

I also had to wear my new Wellington boots for the first time, as last year’s ones had sprung a leak somewhere, forcing me to invest in a new pair. As we set off, I wasn’t looking forward to a couple of hours walking in heavy rain, trudging through mud and six-inch deep puddles. The new boots were not too uncomfortable, though the left one was rubbing my little toe enough to have me limping after less than an hour.

Ollie was looking around, in the hope of seeing some other dogs for company. But nobody else was risking the lunchtime downpours…

View original post 423 more words

Self-Publishing and Thera-Piggies: Ashley L. Peterson

Ashley L. Peterson blogs and writes about mental health. Here she is with one of her guinea pigs.
Ashley L. Peterson blogs and writes about mental health.

In my experience, sometimes happiness (some HBT posts about it here and here) comes easily, and sometimes it requires a heck of a lot of work. When I’m upset with my writing in particular (about my books here), I take heart from seeing what publishing rock stars like Ashley L. Peterson accomplish!

Want to listen to this blog post, not just read it? Check it out here!

Mental health nurse/author Ashley L. Peterson of MentalHealthAtHome.org blogs out of Vancouver, Canada, and writes from both a personal perspective as well as that of a medical professional. She’s adamant that it’s time we remove the stigma around mental health issues. Among her book titles are, “Psych Meds Made Simple,” “Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis,” “Managing the Depression Puzzle,” and “A Brief History of Stigma.”

When it comes to self-publishing, she finds it’s wise to stay flexible with her listings at Amazon. On a daily basis, she experiments with keywords, especially in terms of how they work with setting bids per clicks on ads at the amounts suggested by Amazon. She has a guest blog post for Happiness Between Tails H-E-R-E.

Some of Ashley L. Peterson's books.
Ashley L. Peterson publishes regularly on mental health issues.

Here’s why she calls herself, “a proud crazy guinea pig lady”…

Ashley’s favorite photo of herself with one of her adorable little ones!

“Thank Goodness For My Thera-Piggies,” by Ashley L. Peterson of MentalHealthAtHome.org

I am a crazy guinea pig lady. Crazy in more ways than one.

The most obvious, perhaps, is that I have 5 guinea pigs (3 girls and 2 boys), and I treat them like my children.

What may be less obvious is that I’m crazy in a mentally ill sense. I have depression that only partially responds to treatment, so I deal with effects of the illness every single day.

I take medication and do various other things to manage my illness, but my guinea pigs are an important part of my overall wellness.

I live alone, and my illness has made it difficult to be around other people, so I’m on my own a lot of the time – at least in terms of human contact. But I’m never actually alone when I’m at home because I have 5 very active, very vocal munchkins to keep me company.

Photo of one of Ashley L. Peterson's guinea pigs, a white furry one.
“Cute” doesn’t begin to describe Ashley’s gorgeous guinea pigs!

Routine helps me manage each day, and the piggies thrive on routine. I have a rather odd sleep schedule, which they’ve adapted to quite happily. They know that when I wake up, they get fed, so as soon as they hear me start rustling around in bed, they start wheeking (an onomatopoeic word for their “feed me” noise). It’s a pretty good motivator to get my butt out of bed.

Ashley’s pets are truly adorable!

I prefer to practice mindfulness focused outwardly rather than inwardly, and my piggies are a perfect target for that. I can just gaze at them in fascination as my mind just shuts off.

More than anything, though, they need me. They’re very good at making their needs known, and they know that I can be counted on to meet them, no matter how lousy I’m feeling. Because of that, I mean the world to them. It’s definitely mutual.

What’s your best stress reliever?

Missing Dear Mooshie Cat

The world is better for having had Mooshie Cat in it.

Dear, dear Mooshie, you are sorely missed. Time with one’s loved ones is never long enough, but how very much I wish I’d had just one more time with you to say goodbye, to thank you for being such an incredible little mate.

You were the spiritual mother of my husband. I know this because you took your self-appointed role quite seriously. That first meeting, you signaled to my soul-mate that he was yours. You reached your arm clear to your armpit, past the shelter cage bars, to swat at him. Repeatedly. Moreover, you sent your angel/employee (who also worked for Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA), to urge us that your days were numbered.

You arrived home cuddled in my honey’s arms. You lay in his lap for hours, your locomotive purring tireless. As soon as you made it clear that you were family, you’d stand on your hind legs to slam a hefty (albeit with claws sheathed) kangaroo one-two punch at your sister, whenever your human son would pet her for even a second.

Now your spirit, whether in heaven or reincarnated, must be playing soccer. You’d command your ‘son” (you considered me a lousy player) to lob crumpled paper balls your way, for you to whack-whack-whack them across the room and back to him.

Eventually, you graduated to batting crickets — then mice — then small birds. I doubt our local tiny critters mourns your loss as we do. Your later choice to retire to my mother’s bed must have cause them to celebrate. Not so for my mother’s gentleman cat who you evicted from his formerly cozy stead.

Until all but the last few weeks of your seventeen-ish years, despite your loss of all but one tooth, your appetite was vigorous. From Cheerios and crackers to olives and cucumbers, you enjoyed everything so long as your beloved people dined on it too.

Your long-departed sister, for whom you had neither patience nor fondness,  allowed anyone to pet her. You, unlike her, saved your affection for just your intimates.

You made us feel truly special, dear Mooshie. You, our lovely girl, were the most special of cats. Rest in peace, beautiful soul.

Mooshie the Wonder Cat.

Dear reader, here and here and here is more about Mooshie, including a video about her.

Do you have a non-human friend you miss a lot?

Video Joy to Soothe You by da-AL with furry and feathered friends

Being a soon-to-be self-published novelist requires learning a) to wear many hats, b) to be absolutely humble, and c) to continually lavish oneself with self-care.

Happiness came this morning to my doggie and me in the form of a walk to the park. The sky bode the kind of sunny day that entices zillions to relocate to Los Angeles. We were greeted with the scent of fresh-cut grass, the caresses of cool breezes on our faces — and the honking of visiting geese!

Thank you’s to this and this and this and this vlogger for teaching me iMovie techniques that added art and several seconds to this micro-video.

How do you derail interior monologues of self-doubt?…

How to Photograph a Dog?

4 headshot photos of da-AL with her labrador pit bull mix dog

I mean where she faces the camera but doesn’t look like you’re choking her (which I sort of am in these because she’d much prefer to chase birds and cats across the street than be a model).

2 full body photos of da-AL with her labrador pit bull mix dog on brick porch steps

A kind reader lamented that she wanted to see more blog posts by me. Though now I feel sort of like a narcissist, that made me think that maybe other readers might feel the same way, so here’re some photos of one of my beloved dogs. I wanted to show her to you on my newly revised site, but the dear girl wasn’t having it.

Have you had luck shooting great eye-ball-to-lens pictures of your pets?…

Guest Blog Post: “Adopting a Pet: Do These Things First,” by Crystal

Love animals? Crystal loves them so much that both of her blogs, WELCOME TO CRYSTAL’S SITE(ORIGINALLY COUNTRY LIVING) and CRYSTAL AND DAISY MAE’S PHOTO-BLOGGING SITE, are dedicated to them.

Here’s Crystal’s advice for soon-to-be pet owners…

Deciding whether to get a pet? Some things to consider first…

  1. Will you adopt, rescue, or buy it from a pet shop?
  2. How will you get your new friend spayed/neutered?
  3. What is the background of the pet you’re looking to get?
  4. If you have children, will the pet get along with them?
  5. Is the pet trained? Or will it need to attend obedience school?
  6. Will your pet live indoors, outdoors, or a combination of both?
  7. If you rent, does your landlord allow pets?
  8. If you’re getting a dog, what size can you reasonably handle?

Once you decide to get a pet, here are a few things you need to do before bringing them home…

  1. Be sure to take it to the vet to make sure everything is alright.
  2. Make a pet emergency kit for each one.
  3. If you’re getting a cat, for every cat there should be two litter boxes. For example, for one cat, there should be two litter boxes. For three cats there should be four litter boxes, and so on.
  4. Set aside extra money for in case of unexpected vet trips.
  5. If you’re getting a dog, make sure it has someplace to exercise, and that your home is big enough.

These are only a few things you need to do when looking for a pet. I suggest that you either adopt or rescue one, rather than buy one from a pet shop!

For more of Crystal’s pet tips, visit her at WELCOME TO CRYSTAL’S SITE(ORIGINALLY Country Living) and Crystal and Daisy Mae’s Photo-Blogging Site.

 

The Benefits of Pets on Our Mental Health by Kalia

Pets have enhanced my life in many, many, many, many, many ways.

Here guest blogger Kalia, from Washington state, writes of the many gifts that come of caring for furry friends…

Blogger Kalia with Ryder.

Hi there! My name is Kalia. I am the founder of frontseatryder.com. Front Seat Ryder is a blog designed to inspire, encourage and empower the modern dog mom to improve her mental health with the help of her doggy companion.

I am super excited to share with Happiness Between Tails —  Thank you so much for having me! Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about the benefits pets have on our mental health.

When adopting a pet into your home, you probably aren’t thinking about your mental health. Are you?! I want to talk to you about some of the great benefits pets have on our mental health. These will give you another reason to love your fur babies – as if you needed one.

A pet can benefit you in a variety of ways including:

  • Mentally
  • Emotionally
  • Physically
  • Socially

While these are all important ways a pet can benefit you, improving mental health is high on the list. My dog Ryder is actually my Emotional Support Animal. He helps me cope with my depression and anxiety.

Pets fill the void of feeling isolated. Feeling of isolation and loneliness can lead to many different mental health issues. Some of which include forms of panic, anxiety attacks, and depression. Those feelings are soothed with the company of a pet.

Having a pet gives you a feeling of true purpose. A feeling that there is someone who needs caring for and tended to. Having a purpose in life gives someone suffering from depression hope. This can make all the difference in someone’s life.

How does your pet make your life better?