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Author Archives: bettyvine

The Hunt for Elsewhere – Now Available for Purchase!

At long last, my book is finally finished and on sale! The Hunt for Elsewhere by Beatrice Vine is available in both paperback and eBook formats. You can purchase a copy at the following links:

In Paperback OR for the Kindle
In Paperback OR for the NOOK
For your computer or other portable device
For the iPad: You can search for the book in the iTunes store!

It’s certainly been an interesting journey. Now, onto the next story!

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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Hunt for Elsewhere – Sorry for the wait!

I’ve been absent for a long time, and I’m so sorry, but the time I was absent was dedicated to re-writing my book, re-writing my book again, sending it off to an editor, and re-writing it yet again. It is now in the stages of polish, and I will send it out for book reviews this weekend. I thought I would have been done by late last summer, than by the beginning of December, but I was wrong. Rookie mistake.

Anyhow, I would much rather push the publication date and get my book in fit shape than send it out so-so. As it is, I’m not completely happy with the story, but I am satisfied with it.

The timeline now, assuming everything goes well, is as follows:

1.) Send manuscript out for book reviews this weekend.

2.) Reviews will be received 2-3 weeks after submission.

3.) Final retouches to book cover.

4.) Submit to Amazon for print and eBook. Book should be available approximately 7 days after submission.

5.) Submit to Barnes & Noble for availability on the nook. Submit to Smashwords for availability on other electronic platforms (may take up to 2 months).

Dear god, I hope this goes according to plan. This whole thing has been emotionally exhausting!

 

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Long Time, No Post: Big News – My Novel is Complete

I have been away from blogging for an extended period of time to work on my novel. I am pleased to announce that the novel is complete. My goal is to release my novel, “The Hunt for Elsewhere” by Beatrice Vine, by the end of this year and before Christmas. In the mean time, please enjoy a few quotes, excerpts and the book cover.

“Listen to me carefully, my friend: there are many cruel creatures and there are many good ones, but rare are those that are truly evil or righteous. If you give someone a chance, regardless of their temperament or their appearance, more often than not, you will bring out the good in them.” – Quill (page 39)

“You’re not invincible, you know. You might be smarter than a snake bite, but you’re impulsive too. If something happens to you and there’s nothing I can do about it, I have to live with that. But if something happens to me, will you worry at all?” – Dante (page 185)

“This world we live in,” Tootsie explained, “it’s a rough one for sure. Every day the air gets a little worse than yesterday, and every day everyone gets a little more desperate to survive.” She stopped a few yards away from a particularly lavish house with a carefully manicured lawn and garden. “Look at that window over there. See that cat? All white and clean with his stupid little nose sunken halfway in his face? Well, he’s one of the lucky ones whose got things made. Two square meals a day, a master to groom his fluffy hair, and a hoard of squeaky toys I bet he doesn’t even know what to do with. If you don’t have luck like his, then you gotta make your own luck, and you do that by watching out for you and your own.” – Tootsie (page 199)

“I’m afraid you’ve asked the wrong question, Mr. Wolf. It is not a matter of ‘what,’ but ‘who.’ I am Saxton. I have a name, just like the rest of you, and I will choose to define that name as I see fit.” – Saxton (page 253)

“So what? Anyone can grow strong with effort and time. Learning compassion, though, that only comes when you’ve been in the position of being weak.”- Juniper (page 264)

“While misfits are born, monsters are made. I am the master of my monster.” Jezebel (page 285)

 

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Quality Cat Food: Wet & Dry

As some of you might know, my S.O. and I adopted a 7 month-old kitty on Christmas Eve. Being a new kitty mommy, I didn’t realize that a lot of care goes into selecting the type of food you feed your cat (there truly is a lot of horrible products out there). Thanks to the wonders of the internet, however, I was able to find very useful resources pointing me in the proper direction. I will site these resources at the end of my post for your convenience. Before then, I will describe what to look for and what to avoid when purchasing cat food. I hope this post will be useful for prospective kitty mommies and daddies.

WET vs DRY:

Ideally, we should be feeding our cats wet food as cats acquire most of their water from the food they eat. In addition, having descended from desert wild cats, domestic cats also have a very low thirst drive. The combination of a low thirst drive and a diet of purely dry food results in a cat that may develop problems including, but not limited to: dehydration, urinary tract infection, kidney stones, cystitsis, and struvite crystals.[1]

However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and dry food is quite convenient for our busy everyday lives. The best thing you can do for your cat in this scenario is to compromise: provide a mixed diet of both wet and dry.

After convincing my S.O. to regularly provide our cat with wet food, we decided to feed our cat 1/2 a can of 5.5oz wet cat food in the evening and 2/3 a cup of dry food during the day. We did this based on the serving directions indicated on the dry cat food bag. Your serving quantities might vary based on your cat’s age and weight.

HOW TO READ THE INGREDIENT LIST:

When looking at the ingredient list on the back of a can or bag of cat food, pay particular attention to the first 5 ingredients in the list. These ingredients comprise the majority of what the food is made of as the order of the ingredient list is based on weight.

INGREDIENTS TO AVOID:

In both dry and wet food, there are certain ingredients to watch out for and avoid like the plague. The reason these ingredients are even used is because they are cheap and increase a pet food company’s profit margin. Ingredients to avoid include:

CORN – Cats are obligate carnivores and can’t process carbohydrates the way we do. Grains, in particular, corn, are terrible for their health. Corn and other grains are the leading cause of overweight, obese, and diabetic cats (corn is naturally high in sugar). In addition, since corn is not a sufficient source of protein, your cat will eat even more of the food because it feels malnourished. This can lead to unwanted eating habits such as gorging and vomiting. If corn or anything corn based (i.e. corn gluten meal) is listed as one of the first 5 ingredients of the cat food, that cat food is garbage for your cat’s health. Consumers are catching onto this, and pet food companies have responded by listing corn as “maize.” [1]

ANY TYPE OF GRAIN – This may include brown rice, cracked barley, and oatmeal, which are higher quality grains than corn, but still not great since cats shouldn’t be eating grain at all.

BREWERS RICE/ BREWERS YEAST – Another useless additive. As the name implies, these ingredients are used to process beer which are later dried and sold to pet food companies as a cheap source of carbohydrates.

MEAT BY- PRODUCTS / MEAT BY-PRODUCT MEAL – Parts of slaughtered animals not including meat. This includes organs such as kidneys, intestines, brains, bones, etc. Under this definition, meat by-products are not necessarily bad for your cat, but the problem is you don’t know what the source of the meat by-product is. It is in fact legal for meat by-products to contain, quote: “4D animals (dead, dying, diseased, down), road kill, euthanized cats and dogs, including their collars. These source products are rendered, the fat is siphoned off to be used as “animal fat,” and the remaining material is extruded to form “meat by-product meal.” [2]

If the meat by-product is described as a meal, this means that the by-products were ground and rendered (cooked under high heat and reconstituted).

POULTRY BY-PRODUCTS / POULTRY BY-PRODUCT MEAL – Same definition as meat by-products, except using poultry. It may include the use of feathers, beaks, and feet.

ANIMAL DIGEST – Similar to meat by-products, except that it may include refuse from restaurants and supermarkets.[2] It’s a poor source of protein.

GOOD INGREDIENTS TO LOOK FOR:

CHICKEN or CHICKEN DEBONED- Chicken meat from muscle meat.

TURKEY or TURKEY DEBONED – Turkey meat from muscle meat.

DUCK or DUCK DEBONED – Duck meat from muscle meat.

RABBIT or RABBIT DEBONED – Rabbit meat from muscle meat.

CHICKEN MEAL – Ground and rendered chicken meat; not as nutritious as chicken deboned, but still quite good.

TURKEY MEAL – Ground and rendered turkey meat.

SALMON OIL and/or FLAXSEED OIL – Good for your cats fur (shiny and soft coat) and eyes (bright and clear).

CRANBERRIES, ACAI BERRIES, or BLUEBERRIES – Good source of antioxidants; good for maintaining your cat’s urinary tract system. Should be listed after the top 5 ingredients.

TAURINE – May be listed as a supplement. This is critical to your cats overall health. If the ingredient list is full of good proteins, it may not be listed as the taurine comes from the protein.

PERCENTAGES:

According to veterinarian and cat foster mother, Dr. Lisa A. Pierson, DVM, a cat’s diet should be composed of:

  • Protein calories = 50 – 70%
  • Fat calories = 10 – 30%
  • Carbohydrate calories = <5%

To calculate these figures after looking at the Guaranteed Analysis of your cat food, please refer to Dr. Pierson’s formulas located here: http://www.catinfo.org/?link=cannedfoods#Calculating__Percentage_of_Carbohydrates:

CAT FOOD BRANDS TO AVOID:

Unfortunately, a lot of the most popular pet food brands on the market are also the brands with the worst ingredients lists. My list is by no means thorough, but I am cherry-picking the ones that claim to be a superior food and/or what most consumers go for.

A particular brand I am actually disgusted with is…

HILL’S SCIENCE DIET [3]

What I hate about Science Diet is that it touts itself as being a “scientific diet recommended by veterinarians” when the ingredient list says otherwise. Here are the first five ingredients of Hill’s Science Diet Mature Adult Indoor cat food:

Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Brewers Rice, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Animal Fat (preserved mixed tocopherols and citric acid).

By-product meal. Okay… at least it’s not animal digest. Wait… Corn gluten meal is the SECOND ingredient? Ground whole grain corn is the THIRD? Brewer’s rice?! Awful, awful food! It’s one thing if this is a grocery brand food, but Hill’s Science Diet isn’t cheap and is frequently recommended by actual vets. Why? Well, it turns out Hill’s Science Diet (which was purchased by Colgate in the 1970s) has given bucket-loads of money to veterinary schools and hospitals in exchange for having their brand featured in textbooks and presentations, and recommended by licensed vets. Sometimes they even have vet offices give away bags for free as a promotion. The company has certainly done a lot to effectively market their brand, and we the consumer have been none the wiser that we’ve been had. I hate this brand. Well-meaning people think they’re paying for the best, when in fact they might as well be buying Meow Mix. At least Meow Mix doesn’t pretend to be a superior food.

To further illustrate why this brand angers me, please take a look at the consumer complaints written about Science Diet here:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/science_diet.html

And here:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/hills.html

EUKANUBA (IAMS) / PURINA ONE / ROYAL CANIN [3]

Like Science Diet, these claim to be a superior food. Sadly, these brands actually are “superior” to Science Diet because they actually list chicken as the first ingredient. Chicken by-product meal is also listed, but at least it isn’t listed first.

Consumer complains about the above brands are located here:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/ralston.html
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/iams.html
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/royal_canin.html

FRISKIES / MEOW MIX / PURINA KIT N’ KABOODLE / WHISKAS [3]

First ingredient is corn. Second ingredient is corn meal. Nothing to see here.

DRY & WET FOOD BRANDS I RECOMMEND:

WELLNESS CORE

I currently feed this to my cat as part of her dry diet. The first 5 ingredients include:

Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whitefish Meal, Potatoes

Interestingly, Wellness CORE offers more protein by percentage than Wellness canned cat food [1] (more on this later). Note that further along the ingredient list, there are phosphorous and magnesium. In high quantities, these can cause struvite crystals [4], so it’s important to make sure your cat gets plenty of water and a portion of wet food. It’s not cheap, so I buy the smaller bag for $10.00 and mix it with…

MERRICK BEFORE GRAIN (chicken)

The first 5 ingredients include:

Chicken deboned, Chicken Meal, Potato Dehydrated, Turkey Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols – a source of Natural Vitamin E)

Unlike Wellness CORE, this doesn’t have phosphorous, which is good since I’m blending the two brands. There is a carb listed as a main ingredient (potato), but at least it’s not a grain. Being a dry food, having some kind of carbohydrate is inevitable.

ORIJEN

A very good food from Canada. It’s actually pricier than Wellness CORE and is imported from Canada. The first 5 ingredients include:

Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, russet potato, lake whitefish

INNOVA EVO

Good, but rather pricey. The first 5 ingredients include:

Turkey, chicken meal, chicken, herring meal, chicken fat

NATURE’S VARIETY: INSTINCT [5]

What I like about this brand is that it offers cat food in three forms: raw, dry, and canned. I also like that they offer rabbit as a main protein, which is nice for variety and something a cat could feasibly hunt in the wild. The first 5 ingredients include:

Rabbit Meal, Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Herring Meal, Tapioca

ON WET FOOD:

Here’s the problem with grain free, by-product free wet food: inevitably, the company needs to cut a corner to make money. Since grain and by-products are out of the picture, the pet food company will instead load their wet food with fat. Wellness, a reputable brand, is guilty of this.[6] For a thorough breakdown of protein to fat to carb percentages based on brand name and formula, please visit: http://binkyspage.tripod.com/CanFoodNew.html

Fortunately, cats metabolize fat better than they do carbohydrates. My concern, however, is that over time my cat may develop heart problems. Since she’s still technically a kitten, the high fat content is actually good for her for now. As a precaution, I mix Wellness canned chicken or turkey with Merrick Before Grain canned chicken, chicken and quail, or turkey, OR Merrick “Grammy’s Pot Pie” or “Cowboy Cookout.” The Before Grain canned food is more bland (Cici always eats the Wellness portion first), and the gourmet Merrick canned food is comparatively lower in fat and carbs. In fact, “Grammy’s Pot Pie” and “Cowboy Cookout” are two formulas that closely match a cat’s ideal protein to fat to carb ratio. I hope mixing the brands will cut the fat in Wellness by a little bit. It’s probably a lost cause, but it’s a small comfort to know I’m trying.

As for wet food with no grains, but with meat by-products, it’s honestly a toss up. When we first adopted Cici, she was initially on a diet of Before Grain Chicken Dry and Fancy Feast wet food (which uses by-products). While she loved the taste of Fancy Feast, she would suffer diarrhea and/or very foul stool that would stink-up the whole apartment. Once I weaned her off Fancy Feast and got her on Wellness, the diarrhea stopped and her stool (though still stinky) didn’t stuff up the whole apartment. If your cat reacts well to Fancy Feast, I think it’s a reasonable compromise as it’s low in price, low in fat, and zero in grain (check the ingredient list) though high in by-products.

ON FISH AND BEEF

Cats actually have a tendency to develop food allergies to fish and beef (or any animal with hooves). I try to avoid formulas that use fish or beef as their main ingredients (supplemental ingredients should be fine). Otherwise, I mix these formulas (i.e. “Cowboy Cookout”) with one that is predominately made of fowl.

SUPPLEMENTS & TREATS:

Currently, I use one vitamin supplement and one digestive aid for hairballs. The vitamin supplement I use is Pet Naturals of Vermont: Daily Best Chews (not the tablet). Since Cici is not yet 1 year old, I only feed her one chew a day. The nice thing is that Cici thinks this vitamin supplement is a treat. Every morning, she follows me to the kitchen and gently paws at my legs when she sees me holding the Daily Best bag. The formula does contain brewers yeast, but since this is a supplement and not a food, it’s not that bad.

The digestive aid I use for hairballs is Petromalt Hairball Chews. I give Cici four chews once a week, which will increase to twice a week once she becomes one. Since I’ve only had Cici for a month and a half, it’s too soon to tell if this formula is working. However, I’m pleased to note that before I bought this digestive aid, Cici would hack a lot. Once I got her on this, the hacking decreased significantly, and I was happy to find wads of fur in her stool instead of in a hairball surrounded by vomit. Fingers crossed it stays that way. This formula also contains brewer’s yeast, but again, since it’s not a food, I’ll forgive it. Lastly, the chews are a bit hard. I have to crush the chews with my fingers so Cici has an easier time gobbling them up.

I tried Greenies Dental Care Treats for a while. Unfortunately, it gave my cat the runs and turned her stool green. Once I took her off it, her stool returned to normal consistency and color. I won’t be buying this again.

CONCLUSION:

I hope this blog entry has been helpful for kitty mommies and daddies out there. I owe many thanks to the resources I found online, particularly catinfo.org. While I don’t have the time and resources to provide my cat with a homemade raw food or a purely canned food diet, the information on catinfo.org was very enlightening.

Thank you for reading!

SOURCES:

[1] http://www.catinfo.org

[2]  http://cats.about.com/od/catfoodglossary/Cat_Food_Glossary_AAFCO_Definitions_of_Cat_Food_Ingredients.htm

[3] http://www.petfoodratings.net/cats.html

[4] http://catfoodreviews.com/wellness-cat-food/

[5] http://www.naturesvariety.com/Instinct/cat/kibble/rabbit

[6] http://binkyspage.tripod.com/CanFoodNew.html

FOR CONSUMER REVIEWS:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/
http://catfoodreviews.com/
http://www.petfoodratings.net/cats.html

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Cat Care, cat food, Cats

 

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The Hunt for Elsewhere by Beatrice Vine: Teaser

The following is a teaser from Chapter Three of my novel, The Hunt for Elsewhere (c) Beatrice Vine. This is a raw cut from the draft as I have not yet begun the editing and rewriting process yet. Please let me know what you think of the cut and if there’s anything I can do to improve upon this scene. I’m sure there are plenty of grammar errors and overly “flowery” writing to be dealt with.

One thing: I am debating on whether or not I should switch from past tense to present tense for the prose. I’ve recently started writing in present for another project and I’m liking it. I’m not sure, however, if present tense will work for a long story. Beyond that, ugh… I’d have to run a comb through every sentence in the rewrite if I make such a change.

“We should settle for the night. We’ve already made it across the state border. New Town should be about two to three days away if we keep moving at this pace.”

“Really?”

The crow nodded.

“That’s great!” Saxton happily skipped about in a circle. “I’ll be home soon!”

Though he would never admit it out loud, Quill was relieved that he was very close to completing his task and being free of the burden he had willfully placed upon himself. When they sought haven beneath a cottonwood for the night, Saxton fell asleep almost instantly and Quill watched him from his perch. What would he do, he thought, if the kit’s family was nowhere to be found and he would be hampered with this fox forever?

A hoot and flutter of thick wings descended from above him. Quill looked up. It was his friend Echo, the owl. He greeted her with a small bow of his head. She returned the gesture in kind.

“May I speak with you?” Echo whispered, “Away from sensitive ears?”

He glanced at the dozing fox. “Yes, but not too far away.”

They flew three trees over, just close enough that Quill could watch for any danger approaching Saxton, and just far enough that Saxton would not be able to hear their conversation should he rouse from slumber.

“His fur is turning red,” said Echo, a frown forming between her large, orange eyes. “Before long, he’ll be a fully grown. If he decides to eat you, what will you do then?”

“He will not eat me.” He said this defiantly, but without true confidence. He said it more to himself than the owl.  

“That’s quite a leap of faith,” warned Echo. “Must I tell you the cautionary tale of the man who owned a giant python?”

“Watching the news through the windows again?” Quill said dryly. “These days it’s a load of rubbish.”

Echo rolled her eyes. “Be that as it may, a dead man is dead man. Partially digested, no less. Imagine the mess the landlord had to clean-up when the tenants noticed the horrible stench seeping through the floors!” She huffed. “At least in the wood, you can die with dignity.”

“You make it sound as if my premature demise is a forgone conclusion,” Quill said stiffly.

“Keep in mind a fox’s nature.”

“A fox’s nature is cunning, self-reliant, and opportunistic.” Quill paused and exhaled reluctantly. “I had been hoping that perhaps my influence might sway his view of things… I seem to have taken on a task greater than I thought it would be.”

“Yes, well, that always seems to be your problem.” Echo shook her head. Having known Quill since he first arrived in Montana, she wasn’t at all surprised by his current situation. “You should end this here, now, before it’s too late.”

“Too late? Please, I have time to waste.” Quill snorted, but then he grew visibly exhausted. “I just didn’t imagine this is how I’d be whittling it away.” 

“You’re getting old, Quill,” said the owl. “You ought to fly home now. This year might be your last chance to see what’s left of your family.”

“Perhaps.”

Unbeknownst to the owl and the crow, Saxton had awakened upon sensing that he was alone. Suddenly alert, Saxton softly called out Quill’s name to find out where he had gone. When no reply came, he raised his nose to the air and quickly found Quill’s distinct scent. He followed that scent until it grew stronger, and discovered the tree at which the two birds roosted and conversed secretively.

But his large ears were powerful, and his chest tightened upon hearing both the owl and the crow’s words.  Worse, Saxton recognized that the owl was right: he was growing larger and hungrier, and every so often felt enticed by the notion of attacking and devouring his one and only friend.

Saxton’s eyes narrowed at the word, ‘friend.’

Quill had mentioned that he might one day make one. Though the word was very alien to him, out of the blue Saxton knew what that word meant. He couldn’t, at least not yet, define that word verbally, but he could define it by the complicated feelings it left him.

When he thought of Quill, he thought of his father, a protective and practical figure familiar with the ways of the world. Yet Saxton admitted to himself that Quill was far better than his father. He was kind, patient, and displayed an enlightened sense of knowledge that far surpassed that of Saxton’s family. With Quill, Saxton enjoyed the luxury of asking him questions without fear of being reprimanded. He felt safe and happy with the crow. He would do anything to return the generosity the crow had given him, even lay down his life

That was when Saxton realized he couldn’t- wouldn’t – remain.

Treading lightly on the soil and dry leaves beneath his feet, Saxton scurried away before the birds could notice that he was even there.

When Quill returned to the tree Saxton and he had rested at, his heart leapt to his throat. At the bottom of the cottonwoods, Saxton was nowhere to be found. Feeling that his eyes might be deceiving him, Quill circled the tree two times before acknowledging that the young fox had indeed left.

Instead of feeling grateful that the fox’s welfare was no longer his problem, Quill felt a wave of dread. He took to the air.

“Saxton!” The crow hollered. “Saxton, where are you? Saxton!”

Hearing Quill’s cries, Saxton began running. Quill had taught him the directions of north, east, south, and west, and with this information perhaps he would be able to locate his mother, father, brother and sister on his own. He hastened his pace, sprinting, hoping beyond hope that the crow would never find him.

 

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Facebook Page for Betty Vine

Quick post:

I have a facebook page for Betty Vine, which will be featuring occasional updates on “The Hunt for Elsewhere.” I realize it’s a bit confusing because “The Hunt for Elsewhere” is being written under the pen name, Beatrice Vine. The reason for the distinction is due to the different genres that I plan to write under each pen name. Betty Vine will be the dominant name I will use on the internet.

Here is the page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Beatrice-Betty-Vine/115188301892415

If you’re interested, please take a moment to “Like” the page. It’s small and relatively empty at the moment, but it should start filling up with more interesting things as time goes on. I’ve just recently added an album on the page featuring a partial cast of my characters.

Thank you!

 

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Reasons to Read The Hunt for Elsewhere

Thanks to my good friend’s (Jayden Woods) advice I decided to create a list of reasons to read my story. Hopefully, a reader will agree that my book fulfills these reasons.

1.) It’s ultimately a story about becoming an adult: the importance of the decisions we make, the knowledge we choose to use or ignore, and the values we choose to uphold.

2.) The story paints a world that is not black or white. There is no good or evil in the story so much as there are characters with strengths and weaknesses that define their choices, which may or may not affect those around them.

3.) It adds to the lore behind animals that repeatedly appear in fables and fairy tales. For instance, though the main character, a fox, is still as cunning as he was in Aesop’s “The Fox and The Crow,” he is also capable of empathy because he chooses to try to understand others rather than care for only himself. An added benefit: understanding the motivations of others inherently strengthens one’s cunning!

4.) The characters are sympathetic and diverse. They range anywhere from bitter yet devoted, to wise yet naive, to brave yet insecure. I am sure that different individuals will be able to connect with at least one character on a personal level, even if that character makes only a brief appearance.

5.) There are multiple adventures the main characters encounter, each of which are parallel to issues that exist in human society today. Even if a child might not completely understand the sociopolitical parallel, adult readers might and therefore may appreciate the book on a different level.

6.) The story stresses the importance of compassion, courage, and loyalty, and that everything else is trivial in the grand scheme of things. These are themes that most people enjoy and love to read and reread countless times.

7.) I am excited to write the ending, which probably means getting to that ending, as a reader, will be worthwhile.

 

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