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Monday, November 21, 2011

Debra Stang, author of Hospice Tails, launches her blog tour

& book giveaway contest!

With Thanksgiving just days away many of us will be moved to contemplate what we are thankful for this year. The lists will be as varied and unique as fingerprints. I remember seeing an unusual list in a Kindergarten classroom that included "playing basketball" and "M&Ms." Family, whether it be blood relatives, friends who become family, or even the four-legged version, often top lists of "Things to Be Thankful For."

At WOW! we found it fitting that we are starting Thanksgiving week with the tales of patients, families, and medical professionals telling how thankful they were for a pet during a time of hospice care. Like any family member, these furry (and feathery) family members brought comfort, joy, happy memories and even laughter with them.

Hospice Tails is made up of fourteen stories about pets and the role they played in a hospice patient's care. Meet King, an abused pit bull fiercely loyal to his rescuer, Jasper and Jackie, Amazon parrots who sang their person to his final sleep, Washington, a golden retriever who became the only connection to the world for an Alzheimer's patient, and ten other animals who accompanied their beloved people on the hospice journey.

Paperback: 108 pages (and e-book)
Publisher: Inc.
ISBN-10: 161434261X
ISBN-13: 978-1614342618
Twitter Hashtag: #HospiceTails

Hospice Tails: The Animal Companions Who Journey with Hospice Patients and their Families is available for purchase in both print and e-book format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Book Giveaway Contest: If you would like to win a copy of Hospice Tails, please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in the random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, November 24 at 11:59 PM PST. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #HospiceTails, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post on the following day Friday, November 25. Good luck!

About the Author

In addition to her parents and two sister, Debra's family includes four cats. The current crew includes a grouchy nine-year-old named Achilles; and orange tabby and alpha male named, appropriately enough, Alexander; and a black and white long-haired cat with attitude named Leroux. Then there's the foster cat named Pumpkin. Of course, it all started with a three-month-old brown-and-gray tabby named Calypso who had strong feelings about most people. And not warm fuzzy feelings. Calypso even had the dubious honor of being banned by not one, but two vets.

When not caring for cats or writing, Debra spent many years as a social worker. She worked with AIDS patients, emergency room patients, and those with Alzheimer's. Her final years as a social worker were spent with hospice patients. Although some would view that as a depressing job, Debra chose to view herself as a catalyst helping people make their final hopes and dreams come true. Sometimes it was making up with a family member after a decades long feud or leaving behind the stress of the office to reconnect with another aspect of their personality.

Debra took a clue from her patients and recently decided her writing--for years a part-time career--couldn't wait any longer. Worried she would become one of those people who would one day say, "I wish I had..." she handed in her resignation and is now living her dream as a full time writer.

Author Website:

Author Blog:

--------Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: For most of your adult life you were a social worker who wrote "on the side." What made you put writing "on the front burner"?

Debra: Several years ago, a friend of mine came down with pneumonia and died very unexpectedly. She had always said she was going to quit her day job and work on paintings full time “someday.” This year, I realized that I am now one year older than my friend was when she died. I decided to stop putting off my writing until “someday” and get busy now!

WOW: Did you have a plan when you went from social worker to writer? Did you save up a nest egg, get a certain amount of writing clients/income first, leave the door open to go back to your original career?

Debra: I had been running a freelance writing business on the side for more than ten years, so I had several faithful clients I knew I could count on for income. Also, there wasn’t any conflict with my employer, so there was no question of me burning any bridges. I know I can go back to my social work career full or part time if it becomes necessary. I didn’t have a nest egg, and that’s one thing I wish I had done differently.

WOW: What was the scariest thing about saying goodbye to your career? The best thing? Do you miss anything about having a 9 to 5 career?

Debra: The scariest thing was saying goodbye to my steady paycheck. I’m actually making a little more as a writer than I was as a social worker, but it comes in spurts...nothing for a week, and then two or three clients pay up all at once. It makes managing money much harder.

The best thing is that I can set my own schedule. This afternoon, for instance, I didn’t feel well so I took a two-hour nap. When I woke up, I was feeling great again, and I’ll make up the time by working later. That’s something you can’t do when you’re working for someone else.

WOW: I think many of us have supportive friends and family but they might not be fully supportive if we decided to quit a regularly paying job for a job with a more...unpredictable, shall we say...payment plan. How did your family and friends feel about the leap? Any advice for getting family and friends to understand this big change?

Debra: My family and friends were concerned about me, of course, but they were all extremely supportive. I think it was easier for me than it might be for some writers, because I’m single and live alone, except for my cats, of course. Nobody but me was counting on my income, so I didn’t have to worry about letting down a partner or child. I think it’s much easier for friends and family to be supportive if they’re not financially “on the hook.” Again, I was in a position where I didn’t need to get anyone’s approval, so I simply started most of my conversations with, “I have decided...”

WOW: What was the first big job you tackled?

Debra: Actually, the first big project I tackled was a novel that I wrote in college. It was absolutely terrible, and it will never see the light of day, but writing it was good experience.

The second major project was my young adult novel, Visiting Grandma, which was published in 2003 and tackled the issue of child abuse.

Hospice Tails was my third major writing project. I love animals, and I loved working with hospice patients. I used to tell my family and friends stories about the “hospice pets” I encountered while I was working. Believe it or not, most of the stories were funny. Anyway, my family and friends kept encouraging me to write those stories down so I didn’t forget them. I finally took their advice, and Hospice Tails was born.

WOW: You're here at WOW! to launch your blog tour for Hospice Tails but as a writer you don't only write books. Could you tell us about some of your other streams of income and why you decided to branch out into so many different types of writing? Does having so many streams make your life easier or more hectic? Any other new types of writing you plan to tackle?

Debra: I’m the type of person who needs a lot of variety to avoid getting bored or complacent (neither state is conducive to good writing). I just finished ghost-writing my second book on home health care. I do a lot of SEO/keyword writing for blogs and websites, I write articles on health, mental health, relationships, time-management, small businesses, personal finance, real name it, I’ve probably written about it at one time or another. I also do a lot of editing for students and for first-time fiction writers. Around the holidays, I make some money by helping people write those yearly family updates we all love to hate. Finally, I’m working on a couple of short e-books to sell on Kindle.

Having so many irons in the fire does make my life challenging at times, but mostly I enjoy it. I’ve always said I’d rather have way too much to do than way too little.

WOW: What are you working on now?

Debra: I’m on Day 21 of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. It doesn’t have to be a good novel, All that matters is that you type of write 50,000 words by November 30. This is my first year trying it. The novel is about the ghost of Anne Boleyn’s brother, George, so I’ve spent October reading everything I could get my hands on about the Boleyn family, ghosts, and the Tower of London. Great fun.

WOW: Well, don't forget to stop by on December 1 and tell us what your final word count was!

----- Blog Tour Dates

Tuesday, November 22 @ Writer Inspired
Debra Stang, author of Hospice Tails, addresses that problem every writer faces with "Only 24 Hours in a Day? Making Time for Writing."

Wednesday, November 23 @ Sugar Peach
Learn the importance of using humor in your writing and enter to win a copy of Hospice Tails, a book where author Debra Stang used humor to balance out the sadness.

Monday, November 28 @ My Reading Room
We all take care of someone. Debra Stang, writer and former social worker, reminds us about who we should be taking care of first. You can also enjoy a review and enter a giveaway for her book Hospice Tails.

Tuesday, November 29 @ Lisa Is a Bookworm
That furball of yours is more than just an alternate alarm clock...find out the health benefits of Owning a pet. You can also enter to win a copy of Hospice Tails.

Wednesday, November 30 @ Kritter's Ramblings
Enjoy family gatherings today and learn about a book that tells the stories of another type of family members: the pets that share our lives. Don't miss this review of Hospice Tails by Debra Stang.

Tuesday, December 6 @ Mom-e-Centric
Meet author Debra Stang up close and personal in her podcast plus enter to win Hospice Tails, her book about animals and their contribution to the lives of their sick owners.

Wednesday, December 7 @ Crazy-for-Books
Have you ever tried to tell the stories closest to your heart? Author Debra Stang shares her experience. Return tomorrow for a review of her touching book Hospice Tails.

Thursday, December 8 @ Crazy-for-Books
Don't miss a review of the book that will have you crying, laughing and sighing all in one chapter. Hospice Tails by Debra Stang.

Tuesday, December 13 @ Selling Books
Learn everything you always wanted to know about author Debra Stang in an interview at Selling Books.

Wednesday, December 14 @ Me and Reading
Stop by for an interview with author Debra Stang and a review of her book Hospice Tails.

Thursday, December 15 @ The Caregiver's Voice
Stop by for a review of Debra Stang's book Hospice Tails and the opportunity to ask her questions about hospice and the value of animals to patients, their families, and medical professionals.

Friday, December 23 @ Reviews by Molly
Take time out from your gift buying frenzy for a gift just for you! LAST CHANCE to win Hospice Tails, a touching story of loving pets by Debra Stang.

To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events calendar here.

Get involved!
If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email Jodi or Robyn at

Book Giveaway Contest

Enter to win a signed print copy of Hospice Tails by Debra Stang! Here's how you enter:

1. For your first entry, just leave a comment on this post! Leave a comment or ask Debra a question to be entered in a random drawing.

2. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #HospiceTails, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet.

The giveaway closes this Thursday, November 24th at 11:59 PM, PST. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day--Friday, November 25th, and if we have the winner's email address from the comments section, we will also notify the winner via email. Good luck!


  1. Hi everyone! We apologize for publishing late! The time stamp says 1:25 am, but it actually didn't publish until 9:33 am PST. We were having technical difficulties, so if you couldn't find this post (and I know a few readers e-mailed us about it) we were hit with the technical bug. =/ Thank you for your patience! We're all good now. :)

  2. I absolutely love this, animals can provide such healing and I would love to read this book. I have been and will continue to be around cats and all animals for the rest of my life because they bring me joy! Having just recently experienced the loss of both Grandmas and my Mother, I can really make the connection. My cat rescue blog is
    Thanks so much for sharing your mission!

  3. Hi Chatkath,

    Thanks for your comment, and I'm sorry to hear about your recent losses. I'm glad you have animal companions to comfort you.

    I don't know where I'd be today if it weren't for my cats. They keep me centered and they can make me laugh when nothing else can. It was no surprise to me that animals had such a profound effect on the lives of hospice patients!


  4. Looks like a good book.

  5. Thanks slb3334. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it!


  6. Thanks for the giveaway!
    lafittelady at gmail dot com

  7. Anonymous8:37 AM

    I know how healing animals can be. My dog and my "grand-cat" (originally my daughter's) provide me with lots of comfort.

    I am glad to see WOW supporting the author of such a relevant book.

    Being a freelance writer for 5 years, I can relate to your decision to do what you have always wanted to do, Debra. I also can relate to writing about animals.
    I wish you much success! Suzy Paluzzi

  8. Hi Lisa - Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

    Hi Suzy - I really appreciate your kind words of encouragement. I had to laugh when I read your post. My mom refers to my cats as her "grandcats" as well! I'll have to let her know she's not the only one.


  9. This sounds like a really fascinating book. I've been interested in stories from Hospice since my days working at a funeral home. I was always amazed at the caring atmosphere of the Hospice centers that I visited, and I'd love to read more about how these animals have contributed to these centers!

    krtrumpet [at] aol [dot] com

  10. Hi Kelly - Of all the jobs that I've held in the healthcare field, hospice was my favorite. We didn't have a center, though. We went into people's homes, and that's how I got to know their pets.


  11. Anonymous6:57 PM

    I do animal rescue and know how amazing animals can be, especially those given a second chance at life. Can't wait to read this.
    jenswps at yahoo . com

  12. I would love to read this. I think animals are special little angels.
    vmkids3 at msn dot com

  13. Hi mom2gabnat - Animals are amazing, aren't they? I don't know what I'd do without my cats for companionship and comfort.

    Hi Valerie Taylor Mabrey - I'm not sure how "angelic" my cats are, but I adore them anyway. :-)


  14. Kerri M6:56 PM

    Thank you for the opportunity. One of my dogs was a therapy dog and we had worked primarily with Alzheimer's patients in the past. It's amazing to witness first-hand the magic an animal has on the human spirit.


  15. Anonymous11:11 AM

    my grandmothers confort during her long battle with emphysema came from her dog randy grandpa built a ramp so randy could lay beside her window since her room had to be kept antiseptic and she touched the glass since she couldnt touch him and they were both content. speck135les@ yahoo

  16. I have a Pug who gos to the hospice every Sunday. She truly makes a difference.

  17. elaine4:44 PM

    Our pets are so important to our lives! Thankyou for this giveaway.

    Elaine R

  18. Anonymous9:29 PM

    I would love to read these heartwarming stories. Thanks for the giveaway.

  19. Happy Friday! Thank you for all your comments!

    We held a random drawing (via random-dot-org) for the winner of Debra Stang's fantastic book, Hospice Tails: The Animal Companions Who Journey with Hospice Patients and their Families, and the winner is... Suzy!

    Congratulations, Suzy! Please e-mail your mailing address to, and we will forward it to Debra for you. I see you left your e-mail addy, so we will also follow up via e-mail.

    For everyone else: thank you for your support and love for such a wonderful book. Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on this tour for more giveaways and inspiration from Debra Stang.

    Happy reading! :)


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