Happy International Cat Day!

posted in: Nonfiction, Our Work, Woof Trekking, Writing | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Happy International Cat Day! We have two cats that we absolutely adore and celebrate every day, not just on International Cat Day. Mac is the furry mom to Billy, a 9 year old male tabby. You can read more about him here. Billy is the definition of a mellow cat. He loves to sleep and once a day harass Izzy, our crazy Wheaten Terrier.
cat, feline, domestic shorthair
Al is the furry mom to Tyra, a 13 year old female white cat. You can read more about her here. Tyra is not a fan of other animals but loves to cuddle with Al.

We have taken both of them on road trips with us at different times in the past. Check out our book, Woof Trekking: How To Road Trip with Your Pets, where we give advice on how to travel with your favorite cat.

We recently read about a pretty cool cat. The newly elected Prime Minister of New Zealand is Jacinda Ardern and she has an awesome cat named Paddles. Paddles is unique because she has a set of crazy thumbs! She also has her own twitter account which is pretty hilarious.


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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Planner Stickers & FREE PRINTABLE!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Planner Stickers & FREE PRINTABLE!

posted in: Armadillo Amore, Indie Publishing, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

November is almost upon us, which means that it is nearly National Novel Writing Month. If you have never heard of this event, the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. This equates to 1667 words a day from 12:00AM November 1st until 11:59PM November 30th.

This event was started in 1999 amongst a group of friends in San Francisco. It originally took place in July, however it was moved to November “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.” We have never participated in this event however, we might try this year.


We have created a FREE printable sheet to help you keep track of your daily and running word counts during National Novel Writing Month in a colorful way! Click the image below for the free PDF printable: NaNoWriMo Tracker!

Free NaNoWriMo Tracker Printable

As some of you may know, as well as being indie authors of three books, we are also sticker makers. We have an Etsy sticker boutique called Armadillo Amore, where we specialize in original, handcrafted fancy planner stickers. We have designed a collection of stickers to help you keep track of and reach your NaNoWriMo goals.

NaNoWriMo Full Boxes & Motivational Stickers
Book Stack Icon Reminder Stickers
NaNoWriMo Half Boxes & Motivational Stickers
Book Icon Reminder Stickers
Book Icon Reminder Stickers
Typewriter Half Boxes
Typewriter Half Boxes
Open Book Icon Reminder Stickers
Open Book Icon Reminder Stickers

This weekend we are having a 25% off sale using the code: GRATEFUL! We also have cute Thanksgiving and Christmas Stickers up for sale!

Armadillo Amore Planner Sticker Shop 25 Percent Off Sale

Happy Saturday everyone!

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Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

posted in: Book Reviews, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

A couple of years ago, we attended the Tucson Festival of Books and we attended a panel where Adam Rex was a speaker. The panel was called “i-Illustrate: Art, Technology and Picture Books” in which panelists discussed utilizing Photoshop and other technologies, like SketchUp, to assist in the creation of illustrations.

Panelists included Adam Rex, Chris Gall, and David Diaz.
The panelists gathered around a painting David Diaz created on the spot. Adam Rex is on the far right.

Adam Rex is a writer and illustrator of children’s books. He also is a University of Arizona alum and according to Wikipedia, a resident of Tucson. He has a long list of books to his name, 51 according to Goodreads. While perusing the shelves at the local library, I stumbled upon his first book.


The True Meaning of Smekday is about a girl named Gratuity “Tip” Tucci who lives in an urban city similar to New York City. The earth is being invaded by aliens called Boov, who are forcing all residents of the United States to move to Florida and then to Arizona. On her way there, she meets a Boov named J.Lo and discovers that he is quite friendly.

We follow along with Tip and J.Lo and their adventures cross country to find Tip’s mother. Along the way, we find out that J.Lo accidently tipped off another species of aliens, the Gorg, and now they too want to take over Earth. The unlikely pair work to save the world from both the Boov and the Gorg. This book was particularly enjoyable for me to read because it featured our home state of Arizona.

In 2015, The True Meaning of Smekday was adapted into an animated movie, Home. Rihanna provided the voice for Tip and Jim Parsons as “Oh”, the movie version of J.Lo.

If you enjoy quirky, off-the-wall funny books, you will definitely enjoy The True Meaning of Smekday!

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How to Find the Time to Write ANYWHERE & End Procrastination For Good!

How to Find the Time to Write ANYWHERE & End Procrastination For Good!

posted in: Indie Publishing, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

J.K. Rowling famously wrote a great deal of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the Edinburgh coffee shop: The Elephant House. (Edinburgh is pictured above, fyi.) But you don’t need to be in a coffee shop to write.

You Can Write Anywhere!

We have been writing for a few years now and have found that inspiration can strike anywhere and any time. Here are some of the places we have found the time to write, even if that means just jotting down an idea:

  • Mall Food Court
  • Produce Department of the Grocery Store
  • Panera Café
  • The Car
  • McDonald’s
  • Doctor’s Office Lobby
  • Bruegger’s Bagels
  • The Library
  • Barnes and Noble Café
  • Home (Virtually every room in the house)

 
It doesn’t matter where you are. It just matters that you are there and you have is some paper (or a napkin) and pen. What’s more, smart phones make it easier than ever to be a writer.

You can record a voice memo. Or dictate a few lines of witty dialogue into your notes app. Mac particularly likes recording/dictating on her phone because she is a bit dyslexic and a bit hyperactive. So… availability of supplies is no longer an issue. What can be an issue is… YOU!

Mind Games

Once you decide that you can write anywhere, then you still have one major excuse: Procrastination. We’ve all been there. A couple years ago, we discovered it’s a common problem and one author has a solution.

In March 2014, we attended a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books called: “Workshop: Finish That Book” featuring Sophie Littlefield and Laura Fitzgerald. Ms. Fitzgerald handed out a particularly helpful worksheet set, all about “Passion and Productivity for Writers.” We found the third page most useful (pictured below).

You can get the full PDF of the worksheet set here.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself

We have all said, “It’s too hard,” or “I don’t have time,” or “I’m waiting for inspiration.”

Ms. Fitzgerald offers the deeper meaning of these seemingly harmless statements, and then most importantly, she offers alternative self-talk to help end procrastination for good. We highlighted these and offered a final takeaway, courtesy of Fifth Harmony, “Baby, I’m Worth it!”.

If you don’t take your writing seriously, you cannot expect other people to.

People say this all the time, and there’s a reason: IT’S TRUE! Now start writing anywhere and everywhere with a newfound confidence!

“Seize the day. Carpe diem. Make your lives extraordinary!” -John Keating, Dead Poets Society (RIP Robin Williams).

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The Secret Life of Pets

The Secret Life of Pets

posted in: Entertainment, Fiction, Movies, Our Work, Scout and Malcolm | 2 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

The Secret Life of Pets opens across theaters today and we are pretty excited about it. We love all five of our pets and are pretty much obsessed with anything that includes talking animals.

What’s more, the Secret Life of Pets features an all-star vocal cast including Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, and Ellie Kemper. The trailer looks hilarious! (scroll down to watch)

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We are also excited about it because of our book, Scout and Malcolm. Last month, we released a middle grade mystery/adventure about two dog detectives who have to maintain a home life, appearing to be normal dogs who lounge around the house all day, and a work life, which takes them across their beach town searching for missing creatures. Secret Life, anyone?

 
If you love the Secret Life of Pets, we think you will absolutely love Scout and Malcolm: High Order of Undercover Dog Detectives Book 1!

We have previously discussed Scout and Malcolm here and you can see the description of the book here. Once you have enjoyed the Secret Life of Pets in your local movie theater, mosey on over and check out our awesome book.


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Limited Time SALE! Plus Free Excerpt of SCOUT AND MALCOLM

Limited Time SALE! Plus Free Excerpt of SCOUT AND MALCOLM

posted in: Fiction, Our Work, Scout and Malcolm, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Yesterday, we were stoked to announce the publication of our first middle grade book: Scout and Malcolm.

Today, we want to present you with Chapter 1 as a FREE excerpt. Before we get to that, we have a special announcement.

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We are excited to offer Scout and Malcolm at a special reduced price of 99¢ through Friday! The book is 138 pages, perfect for middle grade readers, and full of action, adventure, and slobbery good times. Click the image below to access this superb sale!

scout and malcolm sale

And now we present, Chapter 1 of Scout and Malcolm.

pawprint border 600 w

Chapter 1

The odor is wild and musky. A bit like coyote but not quite. I stand on the porch and take in several quick breaths, scanning the air to no avail. I must investigate this threat, even if it means that I will be late for work. I head straight for the loose fence board, third from the end, hidden behind the oak tree. I push it forward with my head and slip out into the back alley.

The stench is stronger out here. I take quick sniffs of the ground, moving back and forth. It grows more and more intense as I track, sending an involuntary chill down my back.

“SQUUAAAAAK, SQUUAAAAAK!”

The piercing shrieks of a chicken… Rita Mae! I take off toward the house of my favorite feathered friend. As I arrive, I peer through her fence and see a cloud of white feathers swirling in the air. Rita Mae is charging across her yard, pursued closely by a sleek, musky-smelling red fox with its jaws wide open.

“Help! Help, Scout! MAKE IT STOP!” yells Rita Mae, wings flapping, feet dancing, kicking up a haze of dust.

My eyes dart along the fence. How did the fox get in there? A mound of loose dirt is sitting at the far end of Rita Mae’s fence. I charge toward it and dive into the fox’s tunnel headfirst. My front legs and head pass through easily but when I get to my belly, I’m stuck. I shimmy and wiggle but make little progress.

“Uugh, nooo, come on. Suck in your gut,” I command, willing myself onward.

I stop to catch my breath for a moment and notice Rita Mae’s squawks have stopped. The yard is completely silent. Where did she go? Where’s the fox? Did he eat her?

“What the cluck, Scout? Cluck. Cluck,” Rita Mae demands from the top of her coop.

“Bhahaha, what a chunky dog you are!” comes the taunting voice of the fox.

He has fallen to the ground laughing, too distracted by me to focus on Rita Mae. “Am I supposed to be afraid of you? Fat chance. Oh, good one, Fitzy. So punny.”

Oh, Husky no! He did not just refer to himself in third fox. He’s going down. But first, I need to get through this darn hole. I wiggle with a new intensity, glaring at my furry foe as he laughs in my face. Every snicker adds more fuel to my fire. Then in one quick movement, I squirt free of the tunnel and charge toward the pompous fox.

“Oh, shoot. Fat dog got free,” says Fitzy, scrambling to get his footing.

“Who’s laughing now?” I snarl. In one lunge, my mouth is nearly around his skinny neck. He scrambles out of my reach, but I don’t give up easily. “You think you can just come in here and eat Rita Mae? Uh-uh, Fitzy. Not on my watch,” I growl.

“Yeah, Scout! Get him!” screeches Rita Mae, hopping up and down on top of her coop.

I grab a mouthful of Fitzy’s tail and clamp down with the full force of my jaws. He yowls, leaps into the air and charges forward. I lose my grip, and I am only left with tufts of fur in my mouth. The foul fox bolts through his narrow tunnel and scampers down the alley.

“Don’t ever come back!” I bark at him before falling to the ground, panting. I spit out the disgusting red fur balls. I almost had him. One more step and it would have been lights out for Fitzy. What a shame.

“You did it, Scout. You saved me! Cluck. Cluck. And it’s a good thing too. You know I’m an only chicken. My mom would lose it if something ever happened to me.”

“All in a day’s work… I’m glad I was… passing by,” I manage, breathless.

Rita Mae flutters off her coop to join me on the ground. As she walks toward me, she pecks at the dirt, looking for any morsel of food she can find.

“Polish Chickens love to eat, love to eat, love to eat,” Rita Mae sings to the tune of “London Bridge” as she throws back bits of grain.

I watch the feathers on her head flop up and down as she pecks in a circle around me. Rita Mae is not your average chicken. She is a Polish Chicken, as she often reminds me. All of her plumage is marshmallow white and the feathers on her head are elongated, so it looks like she is wearing a fluffy headdress. The only spot of color on her is the small red wattle that sticks out under her beak.

I peel myself off the ground and survey the alley. No sign of Fitzy to the left or to the right. A quick inspection of the yard reveals no additional fox-sized entry points.

“I’m late for work, Rita Mae. I don’t think the fox will bother you again, but I’ll keep a look out.” I shimmy my way out of Fitzy’s tunnel and kick the pile of dirt back into the hole. “Make sure to show this spot to your mom so she can fill it in better.”

“Yes, ma’am, Scout. Thanks again. Cluck. Cluck. And hey… not bad for a chunky dog.”

“Always knew you were a bad egg, Rita Mae.” I chuckle at my own retort. “Stay out of trouble and have a good day.”

scout and malcolm sale

I continue my regular route to work. Back alleys are the safest byways for dog detectives to travel. Don’t want any meddlesome humans interfering in my business. I am not a lost dog.

Usually I am extremely punctual, but today, saving Rita Mae’s chicken butt has put me way behind schedule. The Captain won’t be happy. I change alleys twice before arriving at work. The sign above the door says, “PAWS Dog Boarding and Obedience School,” in blinding neon pink letters. I lurk in the alley next to PAWS and wait for a human to open the front door.

Three months after I was adopted, my family brought me to puppy classes here. I didn’t really need to go to school because I was the perfect puppy, but somehow obedience school is the “in” thing to do.

During my time in class, I noticed unaccompanied dogs walking toward the back boarding kennels. Who were they? Where were their humans? At the final puppy session, I snuck away to investigate and discovered the Captain sitting at the entrance to the kennels.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” he said. I almost wet myself but didn’t − because I am a dignified dog. He offered me a position in the High Order of Undercover Dog Detectives, HOUNDD for short, and I started training at the Academy the next week. That was three years ago. Now, I lead the Missing Creatures Unit of HOUNDD.

Presently, an old man wearing a purple velvet tracksuit and smelling of macaroni and cheese with a hint of tuna approaches the door. A Whoodle puppy is trailing behind him. She keeps getting tangled up in her own leash. At least I think she’s a Whoodle. These designer crossbreeds are all the rage. I try to keep track, but it’s confusing. Wheaten Terrier plus Poodle makes Whoodle. Or is it Pooten? Either way, I fall into step with them and walk through the doorway. They don’t even notice me.

PAWS is covered from floor to ceiling in pink: from the vivid fuchsia wallpaper to the magenta floor tiles to the plump rose-colored chairs. Amid the sea of pink is a full-size, life-like statue of a wrinkled English Bulldog perched on the reception desk. He is white with splashes of brindle, and if you look closely, you can see his toenails are painted hot pink. This is the PAWS mascot, also known as the Captain.

I make my way toward the boarding kennels. My journey takes me past the piles of dog food for sale, the double doors that lead to the training arena and storage cubbies full of training equipment, including clickers, hurdles and cones.

There aren’t many dogs being kenneled today. I walk by a pint-sized Yorkshire terrier yipping at her own shadow. Then I tiptoe past a dreaming St. Bernard, legs twitching as he chases an imaginary rabbit. At the end of the row is Kennel K9. It looks like all of the other kennels. Only HOUNDD detectives know that it’s different.

I am positive that I have not been followed, but I check behind me once more. No humans. No cats. The coast is clear. Rule Number Five of HOUNDD: Always check for tails, especially cats.

I enter through Kennel K9’s open gate and walk to the back. I put my front left paw into the empty water bowl and press down. A small touchscreen rises from a crack in the floor and stops at my eye level.

I hold my nose in front of it. A green band of light flashes across the screen, scanning my nose. The nose print of every dog is distinct, like human fingerprints. The screen displays my official HOUNDD photo and reads:

Name: Scout Louanne Peck
Rank: Detective Sergeant
Department: Missing Creatures Unit
Coat Color: Tan
Breed: Mixed
Weight: 35 pounds
Years of Service: Three

I chuckle every time I see “35 pounds.” Last time I went to the vet, I weighed 43, but that is my little secret. The grubby white wall in front of me slides upward, and I step inside HOUNDD Headquarters.

scout and malcolm sale

We hope you enjoyed this excerpt. If you did, please buy the book!

Thank you very much for your support!

 

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Introducing… Scout and Malcolm, HOUNDD Detectives Extraordinaire!

Introducing… Scout and Malcolm, HOUNDD Detectives Extraordinaire!

posted in: Fiction, Our Work, Scout and Malcolm, Writing | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Two years ago, we came to a crossroads in our lives. We had both graduated college with degrees in Animal Science but we didn’t really want to get jobs in the field. We are both natural storytellers and Mac always knew she wanted to be a writer. Al needed a little more coaxing to admit that being a writer was what she truly wanted to do.

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One day, we were sitting around, Mac trying to persuade Al that writing was the best thing in the whole world. Al, ever the skeptic, said to Mac “Tell me some of your ideas,” thinking none of Mac’s ideas would be very good. Mac replied with “Well, I had this idea about dog detectives who cruise around a California beach town rescuing lost pets…”

“That actually sounds pretty good,” Al interrupted, stunned at the idea. That was the beginning of the High Order of Undercover Dog Detectives (HOUNDD) and our collaboration as Z.Y. Doyle.

middle grade fiction, children's fiction, ebooks, ebook, cover, books, dog, dog detectives

When developing our main characters, Scout and Malcolm, we had to look no further than our two hounds, Nana and Izzy (who we introduced earlier this month in the post Nana the Brave!).

nana and scout
Scout and Nana

Nana is very focused while Izzy can’t pay attention for more than ten seconds. The same is true for Scout and Malcolm. Now that we had a premise and our characters, we just needed to give each of them a badge and dream up a fun escapade for them, preferably involving an evil cat.

izzy and malcolm
Izzy and Malcolm

Today, we are pleased to announce the official publication of our middle grade mystery-adventure. So without further ado, check our newest ebook: Scout and Malcolm: High Order of Undercover Dog Detectives Book 1.

Get ready to meet the furriest heroes on the block!

THE DETECTIVE

Scout Peck, 100% mutt.

THE CASE

Rescue Trixie, a missing Airedale puppy.

JUST ONE PROBLEM

Scout has a new partner. Malcolm is a rookie Irish Wolfhound with a secret: he’s a mutant. His genetic disorder causes him to faint when frightened and drool enough to fill a swimming pool.

CAN THEY DO IT?

Scout and Malcolm must face paw-to-paw combat with a delinquent dog, battle a sinister feline foe, and outwit dastardly dognappers too, if they want to save Trixie in time.

We hope you take some time to check out the book and tell your friends about it!

The Secret Life of Pets

While we were finishing this book, we were surprised to discover that Illumination Entertainment was releasing a movie in 2016 called The Secret Life of Pets. Our book is also about dogs who lead double lives. In case you haven’t heard of the movie, here is the trailer.

We are very excited to see the movie. It will be released in the UK on June 24 and in the US on July 8.

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