Friday, July 24, 2015

The July Round Robin: Pets in Books

It's a rare person or family who either does not have or has never had a pet. Pets become part of our families and lives. Study after study has shown that pets are valuable to us as companions. Scads of money has been thrown at these findings only to ascertain what pet owners already know.

That said, I've used pets sparingly in my books. I hadn't realized how sparingly until Robin suggested this topic. As a lifelong cat owner, I've only put them in one of my books, the romantic suspense Once Upon a McLeod. In it, the two black and white cats, Tuxedo and Penguin, are both comfort to the heroine and harbinger of the bad acts perpetrated upon her. If something's up with the cats, bad doings are afoot!

I've used large dogs, golden retrievers (personally, our first "children" were Cocker Spaniels, alas a breed which wouldn't have worked in these books), in After the Thunder Rolls Away and T's Trial. In the former, a household of men, the outgoing, rambunctious retriever was just the right companion. In T's Trial, an older, more staid retriever guards the door of the convenience store and checks out all who enter. At night, they sleep with "their" boys.

Pets add humanity to a story just as they add it to our personal stories. My house is empty without a cat. From now on, when I pen a novel, I shall have to think about whether my book is empty without them also.

Interested in how other authors view pets in novels? Check out my fellow Round Robin-ers:

Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham
Connie Vines
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosinski
Judith Copek
Marci Baun
Diane Bator
Anne Stenhouse
Skye Taylor
Rhobin Courtright

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A hard letter to write

The harshest, most demanding thing a writer faces is a blank page, whether it be paper or computer screen. The advice to "just put something down" helps a bit for novel writing, but how about a letter to be read 17 years from now?

Our grandson Grayson will be one year old this weekend. His parents want to make a time capsule for him to be opened on his 18th birthday. They've requested letters, thoughts, from his grandparents and family. I extended the invitation one more generation to his great-grands and a great-aunt. Grayson will have a pack of reading to do.

I think it's a clever idea. I'm happy to try to impart some grandparental wisdom that, over the course of the next 17 years, he may have heard before. But it's one thing in theory and it's another in practice.

I stared at a blank sheet of paper. Pen in hand, I started with "To Grayson on his 18th birthday from his grandmother." That's as far as I got for a while.

All sorts of thoughts crowded in. In 2032, when Grayson is 18, I'll be 81. If I'm still alive--and I'm planning on it, let me assure you--will I even know him? Will he have had opportunities to know me? Will we share secrets, well kept from our "common enemy," his parents? Will his future truly be as bright as I want it to be? Will his troubles just circle around girls and cars and whatever social media has yet to be invented? Will he be college-ready? Will he strive to fulfill the potential to be all that we want him to be?

Does anybody?

I wrote the letter, signed it. Reread it a day later and sealed the envelope. I think the most important thing I wrote was that I loved him. And in the end, now or in 17 years, that's what counts the most.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Watching the cat watch me

Tuxedo, our surviving house cat, came to us 14 years ago straight from his birth house. He's never known the outdoors or an unkind hand. He was petted and loved on from the moment momma cat would let him be. So why is he so suspicious?

Basically, he watches my every move. Where am I now and what am I doing? Am I moving toward the kitchen? Hasn't it been an hour since he last had his Sheba? It doesn't matter that dry food, Iams Lively Senior, is always available. Why have I gone upstairs? Am I coming down soon? Is he going to have to go watch me up there as well?

Side note: It wouldn't hurt him to haul his twenty-plus pound carcass up the stairs a few times a day. That said, if he's up and I'm going down, but will be right back up, I tell him to stay. Half the time he follows me to the top of the stairs and cast a gimlet eye. I tell you, the cat has trust issues.

His favorite perch in the mornings is the end of the couch by the front door. From this position, he has a view of the downstairs and the opportunity to know when I'm up or down. He'll stay there until lunch time (his perception thereof) and if I've not made sufficient movement toward the Sheba can, he'll climb the stairs and fetch me. Plaintive crying doesn't get him anywhere, but he has a doesn't-hurt-to-ask attitude about this.

During lunch (mine), he begs his way onto the table to help me read the Wall Street Journal. He's not interested in people food. Just the news. If I leave him on the dining table (I know, I know, he shouldn't be there in the first place), he'll cry to be helped down when he wakes from his post-news nap. If I don't get him, he'll plop first into a chair and then thump onto the floor.

The afternoons find us as companions either up or down. If I'm writing, he's sleeping in the chair. If I'm reading, he's at my side. If I'm gone, he's upset.

Dinner is at five or sooner if I make an untoward movement to the kitchen. Afterwards, he fixes himself on the couch in the den and awaits me to join him for our TV watching. He'll cuddle to my side and only move if I insist on combing him.

But nighttime he relishes on his own. Rarely does he come upstairs until four or five in the morning, patiently waiting for the alarm to go off and then to cry until he is allowed to escort me downstairs to his food bowl and the day begins again.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

One Year Past Perfect is out!

My next single-title contemporary romance, One Year Past Perfect, is now available in the Kindle store and will be available on the Nook within a few days. Think of it as a modern riff on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The back cover blurb:

"Dr. Katti Thompson arrives in Honolulu to not only settle her great-aunt's estate but also to find the older woman's scandalous diary. If there are family secrets hidden within, Katti wants to read them while sitting on the deck of the beach house she's inherited. But when she arrives, she finds the house occupied by three handsome Latin men--and they are reading the diary. The solution is obvious: Katti moves in as the new housekeeper.

Widower Cesar Osorio has risen from valet's son on a Costa Rican coffee plantation to international fame as a singer and performer. His albums have sold millions but he wants this hotel gig to be his last. Now he just has to find the nerve to tell his brother-in-law and manager. It would help if his attention wasn't diverted by the new housekeeper who acts like she owns the place.

One may be too old, one may be too young, but the one with the sad smileā€¦ he might be just right, even if, at thirty-six, Katti is one year past perfect"

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Friday, June 26, 2015

A sale to Woman's World Magazine!

Yippee! Yeah! Hooray!

I received a contract for a short piece of romance fiction from Woman's World Magazine. It'll be in issue 34, out mid-August. The piece is entitled "Tricks up our Sleeves."

This is the third time one of my pieces will be in Woman's World. I'm thrilled!

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Friday, June 19, 2015

The squirrel, the feeder, the window ledge, and me

For the time being, we'll switch our attention on the animal world from the back yard where I have been soundly outfoxed in the twine wars, having neither a photo of the rascal taking my twine or another missing piece. The current focus shall be on the breakfast room window ledge and fence.

Furthermore, if I didn't have a witness, I'd probably not tell this true tale because it does seem a bit calculating on the part of the squirrel. But I do have a witness, so here goes.

We've had so much blowing rain that I haven't restocked the bird feeder which hangs on the fence or the window ledge where I dispense bird food. Keep in mind, we only provide sunflower seed. None of this millet nonsense for my picky birds. And squirrels. But the rain seems gone and as the cardinals get on the fence and chirp bad things about me, I relented this morning and poured seed onto the ledge.

I would have stocked the feeder also, but the cap which keeps water out has gone missing. The squirrels have a very bad habit of knocking it and the funnel off onto the ground. Usually, I find them, dry them out and fill the feeder only to watch the squirrels sit on the fence, take the top off and put their little paws in. I think the cap may have disappeared in the rain, washed away into the street and beyond. That said, after the performance witnessed this morning, I think I'll just get rid of the feeder.

Sunflower seed dispensed, a friend comes over and we remark on flowers, the neighborhood, the squirrel who seems intent on eating the seed. I'll knock on the window, he scurries off, returns about 10 seconds later and we repeat this show. My friend thinks this is quite funny (it's about to get hilarious) and advises that I cannot win. I know this, but I can't give in so easily either.

And then the final straw. I knock on the window, he (it could be she) twitches the tail, slides over on the fence top to the bird feeder and pees in it! Hit the hole! We watch this offering slide down the inside of the feeder. Really? Has it come to this that squirrels make social commentary? He then scampers off the fence, across the street and into the neighbor's yard.

My friend cannot contain her laughter and I must admit it has its moments of ha-ha. And I might still be laughing, but he was back 30 minutes later.


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Monday, June 08, 2015

To snare the miscreant

Per my last post, I'd decided to defeat the miscreant who was snitching my twine by using the green elastic tape on my patio umbrella and to train the mandevilla to the arbor post. I set the game camera to record so I could know what was happening.

Precisely this: nothing. Not a nibble, not a bite. Either said miscreant, be it crow or raccoon, has left the vicinity, no longer needs my twine, or is waiting me out until I turn the camera off. So today, I tied twine about the umbrella. I did not remove the elastic tape, but I must admit to baiting the trap.

So far, it's animal world 2, Kay 0. I'm still hoping for a tie. Or at least not to be skunked.

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