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: Booklocker.com Inc.
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.
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: http://www.debrastang.net
Author Blog: http://debrastangfreelancewriter.typepad.com
--------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 estate...you 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 email@example.com
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!