I was given my first BB gun when I was around ten. I loved that gun. It was accurate and well built. It didn’t have a scope, but that didn’t bother me. I could hit a can at twenty-five yards well enough.
Besides shooting cans, I would shoot birds with it (mainly barn swallows and other nuisances). It got to be that when I went hunting, a trail of farm cats followed me as they knew they were about to get an easy meal.
I remember one particular day where I was going after a larger bird of some kind. I think I hit the thing square in the chest at least three times. The bird just sat there like, “is that the best you can do?” I wasn’t deterred in the slightest. I decided to aim a little higher my next shot, though. I nailed it in the eye and down it came. The cats all swarmed the bird and I had to shoo them away so that I could get a look at my kill (that was how I found out I got it in the eye). Once done, I let the cats have at it and continued my hunt. A fight ensued behind me.
Hunting has made it into my writing. In Gun Smuggler’s Tale, I describe a true pheasant hunt of my own that I pawn off as my main character’s. In Dark Matter, I have a short story centered around a pheasant hunter and his dog. Flaming Curse has more than a few shot rabbits and such. There aren’t any pheasants because the book takes place in 1870 and pheasants weren’t introduced to Kansas until 1906. In talking with another member of my hunting and fishing club, I’ve now been roped into doing a presentation on writing. This will give me a chance to talk about my passions: hunting and writing.
I’ve always heard that you should write what you know. I know a lot about hunting pheasants and am learning about turkeys and geese. I’m sure more and more will show up in my writing as I get more stories to tell. Maybe even the cats following me on the farm will show up somewhere someday.
About two weeks ago was Milo’s birthday. At the insistence of my wife, I bought the birthday boy a gift. She said to get something that he could destroy, but to also get something small for Zailey so she didn’t feel left out. I found a dragon toy that looked like it would get torn apart fairly easily despite the packaging saying it was tough to break. I then headed to the treat aisle where I got a pair of pig snouts which neither dog had ever had before. I didn’t want to get a treat for Zailey without also getting one for Milo. At $2.60 each, I thought it worth the shot at trying them.
When I got home, my wife removed the packaging from the new toy commenting on what it said. She then gave the toy to Milo. Zailey was playing with one of her favorite toys, so she didn’t mind.
Later, the two were tired of playing (or maybe they had just come in from outside), so I gave them the pig snouts. They both made fairly quick work of the treats. I think they liked them. I may have to remember this the next time I’m looking for a treat that is still reasonably priced but also good enough quality.
After their treats, I didn’t pay too much attention to the dogs. They were tired, so they weren’t making a scene to draw my attention. I’m not sure why I looked at Zailey, but I did. She had the new dragon toy and was chewing it. Maybe, the crinkle noise the toy makes drew my attention. In any case, Zailey had stolen the toy and Milo was too tired to care. So much for Milo’s birthday present being just for Milo.
A few days after Milo’s birthday, I flew out on vacation and for a programmer’s conference. On the plane ride, I was thinking about some of the scenes in Gun Smuggler’s Tale involving my main character, Clark, becoming a pilot. When he’s being tested, he’s asked to do a hammerhead turn. Clark doesn’t know what that is, so he thinks he’s about to fail. The tester tells him that it is also called a stall turn, and Clark knows this and is able to perform it. I took this directly from someone telling me about this happening to them. I liked the story so included it in my novel. While I did steal this, I did get permission for it. Many of the other things that happened in that novel were like this. I stole it from somewhere; usually from my own life.
Zailey and I are good thieves. Nobody noticed the thefts. We probably won’t get away with it forever, but isn’t that part of the fun?
The other morning, Milo didn’t want to come in. After letting the dogs out to do their business, I got their breakfasts ready. Once that was ready, I went to let the dogs in. Zailey was waiting for me and eagerly came in out of the wet and cold morning. Milo was nowhere to be found. I figured he needed an extra minute to do a number two, so I left the door open and waited for him. In the meantime, Jynx wanted out, so I had to ward him off with my foot. A minute of this and Milo finally made an appearance, but he sat down right in the middle of the patio.
I hollered for him to come in while still warding the cat off with my foot. I’m not sure if that my kicks near the doorway were thwarting him or what. He was cold, wet, and soon was shaking. I kept calling him and reassuring him that he could come in.
Finally, Jynx quit trying to escape. He must have figured that I was determined to stop him. Either that or he spotted the dog who may tackle him if he did go out. Either way, I wasn’t doing kicks right inside the door.
I was thinking about going out and grabbing Milo, so I opened the patio door wider. Milo either saw this as being more inviting or he knew I was about to come grab him. He stood up and slowly lumbered toward the door. He then stopped a moment at the step up to the house, but then jumped over the door frame and in. He then did a frenzied run around the living room before kenneling up for his breakfast.
A couple of days before this happened (about a week and a half ago), I was working on a chapter. It was a gun fight that wrapped up a secondary plot line. Both the good guy and the bad guy get shot and is told from the good guy’s point of view. The chapter ends with the good guy’s world fading to black. As I wrote that, I was excited to the point of shaking. The scene worked so well and we are getting close to resolving the main plot, so this is pretty well timed (I’d rather this chapter occurred at the same time as the main plot, but I can’t do that). This also serves as another complication for the ending of the book. To say that I was pleased with the outcome is an overstatement.
Shaking isn’t always a good thing as in Milo’s case, but there are good shakes. I hope my readers shake when they read this chapter!
At first I was going to call this blog "wet cat", but that was a little close to something a little sinister (think of a different name for cat). Not that I'm afraid to go there, but sometimes I like to refrain from being overly vulgar. But, damn, is it hard to keep my mind out of the gutter.
Let's get back to what I want to talk about. We have been getting a ton of rain lately. By reliable sources, we've gotten 4 inches in the last week and most of it has been a drizzle or a light rain. This has led to a general melancholy around my house. Jynx has been pissed that he hasn't been let out very much and the dogs are holding their piss as long as they can so they don't have to go out. (I said I wouldn't be overly vulgar not that I would completely avoid it!)
Last night, I went to let the dogs out and Jynx ended up sneaking by me. He had snuck out on Sunday and he didn't last long. So, I warned him that he'd want back in soon.
About five minutes later (probably less), I went to get the dogs. They came right in, but the cat was nowhere to be seen. I called for him over and over. My wife even called for him from the couch. That didn't help. I walked into the yard and looked around. I first looked in the dog house thinking he would use that as shelter. He was there or anywhere else that I could see. I finally spotted movement by the fence. I threatened to leave him out if he didn't come in. I went back in to make good on my threat.
I wanted to go to bed. This wasn't getting me any closer to bed as I didn't want the cat out in the rain all night. He needed to come in and he needed in now. I called for him some more. After a few minutes, he finally made a slow walk across the yard. Then he took his time crossing the patio. He sometimes is afraid to come in if it looks like he would get tackled by the dogs, so I made sure they were well back. Still, the cat just stood there. After what felt like an eternity, the cat came in. I closed the door, shut off the light, and took the dogs to bed. My wife hollered that I needed to towel off the cat. I thought it a fitting punishment that the cat just remain wet for not coming in when I called for him. I think my wife dried the cat.
Part of my story is that I released Shorts as a way to get my feet wet in the publication world. Alien Fear had been long done before this release. I liked writing Shorts so much that I wrote Dark Matter. I was hoping that by selling my short stories, this would entice agents to pick up and read my novels (Gun Smuggler's Tale was also complete by this point). This was at a time where agents were absolutely afraid to read new author's stuff. Before this, I had gotten a few agents to read the full novel of Alien Fear, but they ended up too scared to run it up to publishers. In frustration with these agents, I decided to quit getting my feet wet and to get all wet. It didn't hurt that Shorts was selling well.
Unlike agents, Jynx and I aren't afraid to get wet. Twisted and Flaming Curse are both looking to drop in 2019 with Twisted coming very early in the year. I call that a wet year!
The other morning, I slept in. The dogs were whining and scratching to be let out. I don't blame them for that as I was glad that they had held it as long as they did.
I almost always carry Milo as he tends to jump around and run ragged. This usually wakes up my wife, but also makes Zailey hyper as well. By carrying Milo, Zailey quickly runs downstairs, looks around a minute, and then heads for the back door. This morning was different.
Milo needed to go so bad, he ran through my arms. I let Zailey out and prepared for the two of them to jump on the bed. Neither did and they headed straight for the stairs. I followed. The three of us were met on the main floor by Jynx. He also wanted out, so he ran under the table next to the back door. The dogs also didn't go too far astray on the way to the door. I think Milo stopped to drink some water, but was otherwise a good dog. With everyone being so good, I decided I would let Jynx go out with the dogs (I try to restrict Jynx's outdoor time).
I slid open the door wide enough for the two dogs to go out since I was expecting Jynx to run out after the other two. I was surprised to see two dogs and a cat all trying to go out at the same time. Zailey was in the middle, so Milo and Jynx both got pushed against the door and doorframe, respectively. Despite Zailey having a longer frame, she made it out first with the other two being pinned. Milo was basically clawing at the ground, but not moving forward. Jynx just waited a second until he had room to go again. None, were any worse the wear and they all made it out. If only I had opened the door a little wider! Then again, I wouldn't have this humorous start to the day if I had opened the door wider.
Before my mind became Swiss cheese due to seasonal allergies, I had all these plans to get all of these writing projects done. Many were geared toward releasing Twisted and also getting ready to finish Flaming Curse. There was also a question of when I would return to writing Whispers Within which has been stalled for months now (it looks like I'll get back to it early next year). Some of my plans were contingent on other things happening, so I've already had to shuffle things around a bit. In this way, they were jockeying for position. Plus, if I start getting ahead again during my retreat next month, there will be some more jockeying.
My plans may not be fighting like the kids did the other day, but there is still fighting going on. It'll all resolve itself, but I'd like for my plans and the animals to become orderly. Is that too much to ask?
First, let me start with a disclaimer. This post is not based on any scientific study, just my own observations. So, let's talk about it. Can cats and dogs talk to each other?
I believe the answer is yes. The other night, Zailey was pitching a fit in her kennel at 1:50AM. I wasn't happy to have been woken up so early. I got up to let her and Milo out. Usually, I have to carry Milo as he is too groggy to walk on his own after being woken up in this manner. This night was different. He ran out so fast, I couldn't catch him. I let Zailey follow and she also ran. I knew something was up since Zailey usually jogs out when she needs to pee, not run. I loped behind to see what had them so wound up. On the second landing (we have a landing and then a step up to a second landing in the middle of the stairs), the two dogs were fighting over what they consider a treat. I consider it shit, cat shit to be exact, but they consider it a treat. They woofed down a majority of it before I could get to them and force them outside. I then cleaned up the rest of the shit.
Now, I know that you are thinking how do I consider this proof of dogs and cats communicating. There are several factors involved here, so let's start with motive. Jynx loves dog food. He is always trying to reach a paw in to any dog leftovers left in their kennels at the end of a meal. So, he wants dog food. The way to get it is to pay the dogs back with food. He doesn't want to give up his own food, so the only other thing he has is his poop, which the dogs love. It is a win, win.
The next thing to consider is how did the dogs know that Jynx had delivered his end of the bargain, in the middle of the night, with the dogs in their kennel in the master bedroom, with no visible access of the stairs? The answer is that Jynx told them that it was there ready for them. The next thing they did after being told it was ready for them was to wake me up by pretending they needed to go out and go potty. By the way, they can usually go seven hours or so before needing out. That night it was less than three. So, unless Zailey forgot to potty before bed, she was faking.
Also, this isn't the first time that something of this nature has taken place. Usually it is in the day time and the dogs want out of their kennels after Jynx has pooped on the floor. Oh, and the reason the dogs are in their kennels is because they are eating their supper, so you know Jynx really wants at that food right then and there.
I thought of a good solution to all of this. For a while, I removed any excess food from their bowls after breakfast. Then I found that Milo would hide his food and Jynx was finding it. So, that didn't work.
Lately, the critique about my dialog has been that it is too stilted and unnatural. This is really odd to me as I usually excel at writing dialog. What I do is imagine two characters or a group of characters and they talk in my head. Then I just write what they say as they say it. Easy, right? Apparently, my imaginary friends are failing me of late. I'm sure I'm just in a slump and will come out of it soon and it is better to find the problem now than when I'm getting ready to publish!
I'm at my wits end with all this chatter, whither the lack of it in my mind or between the dogs and cat!
Milo loves playing with a basketball. Zailey would sometimes play with it, but Milo does a lot of head kicks with it around the yard. Since there is a significant hill in their yard, he gets to use it to help the ball along as he chases it. Whenever Milo is playing with the basketball, Zailey also wants to play. She chases him around as he chases the ball around. Not to mention her insistent barking all the while.
Milo isn't silent during this. He is on a mission and he has a growl as he plays with the ball. It isn't a guttural growl, but more excited than anything else.
Since the two fought over the ball, my wife bought a second basketball. Milo still prefers to play with the old ball, but he sometimes plays with the new one especially when the old one is stuck. Zailey prefers to play with whatever ball Milo is playing with. So instead of ending the barking and chasing, it still continues. Well most of the time.
The other night, a miracle occurred (though my wife contends it has happened before). Milo played with one ball and Zailey was playing with the other. No barks or chasing each other. Milo was still doing his growl and Zailey was doing her best to headbutt her ball farther and faster than Milo. The balls were finally doing their job!
Lately, I've been getting into watching vloggers (video bloggers). These people have entertaining things to say and do it with such energy and enthusiasm that I can't help it. It has made me wonder if I should ditch my blog and take up vlogging.
I seriously considered this and what it would take to do this. The equipment these people use costs some dough (maybe not a lot, but I'd rather be spending my money elsewhere). Also, the amount of time these people put into editing and post production work must be enormous. One has a lot of picture in picture stuff and charts to help illustrate what they are talking about and that takes a time as well as a little skill. Then there is the consistent high quality of speaking that these people do. I'm always saying "uh" as I think of what I'm going to say next. These people don't have any of that (though they might be doing multiple takes or something which means even more time editing).
Then there is the content. I'm always talking about animals in my blog. Do I film my animals 24/7 waiting for them to do something interesting enough to vlog about? Ugh, I don't have the time for that!
So, doubling down on basketballs, good. Doubling down on blogging/vlogging, bad. Though, I do have a crazy notion to get a gopro and put it on my head when I go hunting. That might be interesting, but not for marketing my writing assuming I share the content. More of a fun for me to do type of thing.
Milo hasn't been wanting to go outside the last few days. It started right after Independence Day. When it was time to go outside, he would run the other direction. Usually, he would find a place and just sit there with one paw up in the air. He didn't want to go.
I have a couple of theories as to why he doesn't want to go outside. He was left outside with Zailey the evenings of the third and the fourth. I'm sure a few neighbors were lighting off more than a few fireworks. Milo hates the pops, bangs, and whistles. I think he is still afraid that he will be subjugated to more fireworks if he goes out.
The other theory I have is that it has been hot and humid lately. While he does have plenty of water, shade, and even a wading pool to climb in (which he does use unlike Zailey), he does not like to be out with it so hot. Even in the evenings, he is hiding because it is still warm out. Even the usual treat doesn't entice him.
Having the last nine days off from work has been great. I've been able to get a lot done with my writing. I'm hoping that I can keep the momentum rolling even after I return to work. Well, maybe not the same rapid pace that I had this last week, but at least getting something done every day. That should be doable.
I'm reluctant to go back to work as I'm afraid I'll fall back into my habit of putting off my writing. Milo has me to pick him up and set him outside. Who can keep me accountable?
Twice this week, I've had to clean up cat diarrhea and once a hairball. Worse is that both times it was all over the place and not just one spot. Zailey and Milo helped clean it up... by eating some of it. The stench was so bad, it made me gag to clean it up.
Last night, I was reading something I had written a few weeks ago. There were sentences that went nowhere and some awful grammar (like using peace instead of piece). For the most part, the piece worked, but it needed some clean up in the stinky parts. Worse is that I was reading this to my writing group to get feedback. They not only provided feedback on this chapter, but it led to a discussion on how "well" this chapter fit with the rest of the book. I felt sick by the end of the discussion as I am left with some huge decisions to make. Not what I want to do when I've written over 2/3rds of the novel (much better to have all the decisions made in the planning stage). At least these points are being made now instead of after the book is published.
Whither it is the cat or my writing, all I can do is clean the shit and move on.
Whenever we go out of town and have to board the dogs, we tell them that they are staying in a hotel. Really, they are going to their vet. This raises some anxiety from time to time. Milo had a bad experience at the vet getting some teeth extracted, so now he tries to hide in a ball when we go. This trip wasn't too bad for him though as I think he has forgotten that experience. Zailey had a tough time being dropped off, though.
When we arrived, Milo was bouncing around so much that I decided to pick him up and carry him in. Zailey walked in on her own accord. The first obstacle was the door. I think she could smell what was coming and was starting to clam up. She barely put her head in the door and was looking around. So I had to pull her a bit to get her to go in.
Once in, a big lab (about 150 lbs) went nuts at seeing Milo being carried. The dog was behind the counter and couldn't see Zailey. The tech working the desk said it was her personal dog and had to work to get the dog to settle down. Zailey was hiding behind me. Even with the counter already separating them, she needed my added protection.
With the dog settled, the tech was able to call another tech to get Milo and Zailey. This tech also carried Milo and took Zailey's leash. Zailey wouldn't have any of it, so she tried to head for the door. She didn't cry or bark. Instead, she used all of her energy to try to walk the tech out the door. The tech and I managed to assuage her fears and got her to go. Either that, or she realized that she wasn't going to make it out those doors and had to follow the technician. Either way, she was taken back to be boarded.
This wasn't the first time I've had to leave my babies this month. Last week I was in Atlanta working. I had some down time in the evenings. I was able to escape my customers long enough to put down a chapter. It was great sitting at my hotel room desk and having no distractions. I wish I had more down time during that week or I really could have gotten a lot done. There have been talks about me potentially going to Pendleton, SC and Orlando in the coming months. Plans are also underway for a trip to Tuscon/Phoenix in October. Plus, I have a stay-cation the week of Independence Day where I plan to ditch my distractions by heading to the library to work on stuff. I still will manage to get some stuff done during times where I am interrupted, but I hate those times. All-in-all, some great things are coming.
Hotels can be great as long as there isn't a big ass lab barking its head off at you as you come in. Even if there is one, you've got to soldier on and get past it to the great stuff. In Zailey's case, the great stuff is probably going to be when I go to pick her up tomorrow morning and then she'll shower me with kisses because she missed me so much!
The dogs and cat (and by extension, my wife and I) have lost someone. My wife's cousin and friend that I have known longer than my wife, Rob, has been living with us since February. He passed away unexpectedly in our home a couple of weeks ago. My wife, Zailey, Milo, Jynx and I miss him terribly. We've had a hard time dealing with the loss.
Every morning, Zailey sniffs at Rob's door. It used to be that she would knock on that door if he were there. Now she turns away and runs downstairs looking for him.
Milo has lost a couch pal. He has been looking out the window in hopes of seeing him again. Thus, he sees more strangers walking by and starts growling at them which causes Zailey to bark her high pitched shrill that I just love (not).
Jynx has had freedom these last few months to go outside without a leash under Rob's eye. He now has to rely on my wife and I to allow him out. We are home less and unable to comply as often as Rob would. Last week, Jynx was outside late at night and became scared for some reason. The dogs came out and a huge fight was started. Zailey got a scratch on her nose and Jynx was bleeding from his hind feet and tail. Now we don't let Jynx out after dark.
The other night, Zailey was messing around with the hallway desk. I thought she was playing with the string from a laundry bag laying on the desk. Instead, she managed to get a pair of Rob's glasses and brought them to the middle of the living room. My wife stopped her and took the glasses away before she made them into a chew toy. Zailey went back and grabbed something else off the desk.
I haven't felt like doing a lot lately. I was already behind on posting in my blog, but I still found more excuses to not write. And it hasn't just been my blog. I've been dragging my feet to write a new chapter or short story. Heck, I've even been putting off doing some of the rewrites that I need to do. My nightmares and dark places in my mind are my usual inspiration. It seems that the darkness of my loss has enveloped my creative sources. I've thought about fictionalizing my account of finding Rob and the ensuing things that happened. I doubt such a piece would make it into my next collection of short stories, but it might help me get over Rob's passing. Or it might just make me dwell on this unpleasant part of my life and push me further down the rabbit hole. That, I'll have to think about some more.
Eventually, things will get back to some semblance of normal. I'm not sure what that will look like, but Zailey, Milo, Jynx, my wife, and I will heal.
Rob's obit is posted here if you care to look.
These dogs have been running all over me. They aren't minding and are driving me up the walls. Milo will run around chasing shadows and Zailey will bark at him. I can't get them to settle down at times.
To reign these terrors in, we've had to implement some more laws. Not that they mind since they get more treats. We've pulled out Zailey's old training manuals and we've been going through the tricks with the reward for the trick being a treat. Especially the tricks to get their attention. They are now the masters of sit and wait. They have known how to do this for quite a while, but we've been a little lax on asking them to do this.
This hasn't worked out 100 percent, but we are just getting started with this. We are also getting after them the moment they do their bad behaviors. Sometimes, we even anticipate the bad behaviors. Hopefully we are on track to get these guys settled down.
The other day, I was in the groove and writing a big courtroom drama scene. Not knowing what else to do, I ended up having the lawyer defending the bad guy giving platitudes to the good guy. I got a grip on the scene again and got back into the flow of writing. As I was writing, I had some thoughts that I would just force my way through and go back to fix the part where I struggled. Then the best thing happened.
As I was finishing the chapter, I came up with a twist so awesome, I couldn't sit still with my enthusiasm. Not only did my chapter carry the reader to where I wanted them to go, but I ended up incorporating the platitudes to get there. Suddenly, I didn't have to go back and fix anything because it was perfect the way it was. The reader may be like, "What the heck is this?" when they read it. Then they get to the ending, light bulbs will fire up and heads will spin. This chapter is that perfect.
Writing about crimes (even now) or the dogs committing crimes will result in punishment. The dogs will get theirs and my bad guy will get his. Though, this twist that I wrote will lead to a lesser punishment and some more fun down the road.
Jynx had to go the vet for his annual exam and blood workup. The ride to the vet was full of whiny mews and general displeasure. I felt guilty for taking him in, but it needed done.
I left him there for the day. After work, I went to pick him up, but found the devil instead. I have never seen a domesticated cat hiss and yowl so much before in my life. The vet and techs refused to get him out of the kennel and moved into the carrier. That is why they brought me in. Jynx even hissed at me!
I had the tech close the door to the kennel room so that if Jynx escaped me, he couldn't go very far. I tried to sooth him with my voice and even tried to pet him through the cage. He didn't want any of that and tried to slice my fingers off. Somehow, I managed to convince him that I was there to take him away from that hell. I slowly opened the kennel door and pushed the carrier into the cage. Jynx jumped in without complaint. He didn't even issue his normal whiny mews until we were almost home and I had even stopped for gas on the way.
It took a couple of days for him to really trust me again. I think it helped that I rescued him. It also helps that I feed him and give him treats.
My writing is screaming for attention much like Jynx in that cage. I give it my word that I'll free the beast, soon. I don't think it is soon enough, though. Eventually, that beast will be unleashed on the world!
Hellcats are hard to tame. Sometimes you just have to give them what they want and they get over their grudges.
Jynx turned 7 years old somewhere around March 14th. When we got him, he was 9 months old and didn't know his exact birthday, so we got to choose one for him. Since it was December, March was the logical choice. From there, we had a few ideas. Two thoughts came to me and/or my wife. One was that Pi Day was pretty cool (albeit, pretty nerdy) of a choice for his birthday. Then there was the sentimental reason of it being my Grandmother Joyce's birthday. I thought it was a cool tribute to her memory.
So, we celebrate Jynx's birthday on the 14th. To celebrate, he got two cans of his special food instead of just one. It also meant that he got a present. I was supposed to get the present and bring it home for him, but I was in the middle of hellacious week and it slipped my mind. Thus, my wife got him a brand new scratching post yesterday. Good thing that I forgot once again to get it or he might have had two new scratching posts.
Heck, I've been so busy and stressed out, I haven't blogged in over 5 weeks. Are you starting to see a little pattern here? I've forgotten some of the more important things in life. I'm sorry, Jynxy! I'm sorry, hon! I'm sorry, Flaming Curse and Twisted! I'll do better in the future.
Speaking of the future, I had some great ideas on what to do for the sequel to Flaming Curse. Usually, when I think about the sequel, I'm thinking in terms of having it be a true sequel with a number or roman numeral two behind it. Yesterday's ideas have made me rethink this title and am leaning toward Death Curse. My cast of characters are also a bit in flux as I've made some changes to the ending to Flaming Curse, which has yet to be written. I am just really excited to see this development.
I can't believe Jynx is 7. He has changed so much since we have gotten him much like my writing has. Here's to many more birthdays and changes!
Milo hates me! He had to spend the weekend at the vet and he has hated me ever since I picked him up on Monday. He's spent a bunch of weekends at the vet, so I'm not sure why this time was so different.
After getting him home, I had to retreat to my computer room as I was working from home. I heard some sniffing outside my room and opened the door to find him there even though the baby gate was up at the bottom of the stairs (he snuck under it, I guess). I picked him up only to have him squirm away. I regathered him and tried to hug and comfort him only to have him bite my face (lightly and didn't draw any blood). I thought I had touched a sore on him the way he acted, so I got hold of him again and tried to see if he had an injury. He wasn't physically injured.
After that, he stayed away from me. The only time he would come to me is if I had a treat. At one point when I was watching TV, he even acted like he wanted to lay on me. Instead, he just watched me and danced away if I tried to pet him.
He is slowly letting go of his grudge. He let me pet him for a minute last night before he remembered that he hated me. Hopefully tonight he'll be back to normal.
Since this is Valentine's Day, it is fitting to talk about my wife and her grudge of my writing. Writing takes time. She sees it as taking her time even though I mostly do it when she is asleep, at work, or busy doing something else. She also sees it as time I could be spending on chores, walks with the dogs, or exercising (because she worries about my health).
What she doesn't see (or maybe she has forgotten) are all the passages that are inspired by her or something she has said. I know she has forgotten about me sharing a dream and her response was that I should write it into a novel (it only made it as a short story so far, but it was published in Dark Matter). I love her, in part, because of her encouragement and the inspiration she has been. Heck, I love her despite her grudge on my writing time.
Milo will soon prove that grudges fade over time. To everyone, but most especially my wife, Happy Valentine's Day!
Last night I was accosted by a neighbor dog that was running loose in the neighborhood. I was finishing up shoveling the two inches of snow off my driveway and was putting out some salt when the dog came up to me. It was a red heeler and was barking its head off. It even charged at me every time I turned my back on him.
I wasn't scared of the little shit. It weighed forty pounds and I outweighed it by... well, let's just say by a lot. I was super annoyed, though. I was minding my own business and this dog was trying to get in mine. I waited at the end of my driveway for the owner to come out of their house across the street.
This wasn't the first time the dog was just set loose in the neighborhood. I've seen the dog going behind my backyard fence and the owner soon following. I don't like people going behind the fence because it drives Zailey and Milo nuts. It is bad enough if they walk the sidewalk going down the short side of the fence as the dogs usually just run to see what is going on and by the time they figure out someone is there, it is too late for them to bark. People and dogs going behind the fence are another matter. There is even an incline, so they don't walk as fast back there. It gives the dogs plenty of time to figure out what is going on and give their warning calls.
So, there has been a history of this dog being let loose. It is aggressive and noisy. As I said, I waited for the owner to come get the dog. She peeked her head out the door and called for the dog. I yelled across the street to her that she needed to keep the dog on a leash. All she said was, "Thank you." Judging from that response, I doubt this will be the end of the story. I may give one more bark and then I'm going to bite. Unfortunately, my bark is bigger than my bite.
I'm a big proponent of leaving people alone if they leave me alone. Once they do wrong by me, then watch out. The one political stance that I've taken to Facebook to fight for is related to bigotry and hate. Otherwise, I try to keep my opinions off social media. In part this is because I am trying to market myself and if I take a political stance, I am probably going to piss off over half of my marketable audience.
Last night, I was watching Grace and Frankie as Martin Sheen's character used his award speech to speak out against bigotry and hate (in this case, for the LGBT community). The award was for best newcomer in a local play or something like that. He was using his small bit of limelite for good. At first, I applauded him for doing so. And then I realized it was a fantasy world. In the real world, it wouldn't have worked. No matter how good intentioned, you are pissing off people that don't believe in your point of view. Humans are just too passionate.
The thing is, I'm human. I'm going to be passionate about certain things. I won't be able to shut up about everything. I can only try to be as marketable as I can be. Bark!
I came down with a cold a few days ago. With my lack of energy and coughing, I took a sick day Thursday. I then parked on the couch and binge watched Stranger Things. Zailey and Milo were glad that I stayed home as we had near blizzard conditions outside. They showed their appreciation by sleeping on me. I enjoyed the comfort and extra warmth they provided. I even got a little nap in.
Unfortunately, their efforts didn't fully heal me. I was well enough to go to work yesterday, but just barely. I'm still hacking things up and weak. My wife is on me to get things done, but I just want to go back to sleep. I did take a three hour nap, but it didn't help much.
My fatigue has spilled into my writing. Knowing that I would have a monumental editing task afterward, I haven't written any new stuff. Not that I need to as I am a chapter ahead of where I want to be. So, that leaves the backlog of editing notes that I need to get to. I haven't done much this week on that as I can't seem to focus on what needs done. My goal of getting caught up by the end of the month is now in jeopardy. Maybe I can drink an energy drink tomorrow and soldier through.
Speaking of soldier, Milo is now completely recovered from his surgery. Last night, he ripped one of his new toys and got stuffing all over the place. Today he ripped open another new toy to get the plastic squeaker out. So, he is back to his destructive self. He is even back to fighting with Zailey over bones, toys, and even ice. In other words, he is living up to his Little Shit nickname.
I'm glad Milo is back to 100% and I hope to be back soon. Who knows, maybe I'll get caught up by the end of the month, yet.
Milo had surgery last week. He had some foul breath, some swelling next to his nose, and would not let us clean his snaggletooth (he had a crooked canine tooth since we've had him that would trap gunk behind it and we would floss it from time to time). When I took him to the vet, they found that he had an infection going on with that tooth and gave me some antibiotic to fight that. The next day he was scheduled for surgery.
He ended up having three teeth pulled, the canine and two molars. They also cleaned his other teeth while he was out for the count. I spent the day doing as many tasks that took took my mind off of Milo being asleep and the remote possibility he may never wake up. They had said they would call me when he woke up at around two. After three p.m. and still no word, I really became scared. They finally called at four claiming to have been slammed and it was the first chance they had to call me.
I went and picked up my little buddy who was still a bit groggy. He seemed to be in a little pain, but was more excited to see me than anything else. I tried to get him to pee before taking him into the house, but he had only the goal of getting inside. He did leave a few drops of blood in the snow in his wake. He hasn't bled since.
That night, he was really out of it. He had a hard time staying asleep and an even harder time going to the bathroom (though, the below freezing temperatures might have had something to do with that). Zailey was nuts since her playmate was kept kenneled away from her.
The next day saw some improvement, especially after he got his pain pill. Each evening, though, he has returned to a state of being in pain and moping about as the pill wore off. Each evening, that is, except for last evening. Last night he seemed much, much better. I also checked his gums and they seemed nice and pink instead of the angry, inflamed red they have been. I think he's turned a corner and will be up to no good again by the end of the week.
I took the week off last week (good thing since Milo ended up getting surgery) in part to work on my novel. I got three chapters done and even did some editing (surgery). I had hopes to get a lot more editing done as I have notes for changes going back nearly a year now. While I have a busy week this week, I hope to get more done in the weeks ahead. I want to catch up on my notes by the end of the month. I am also hoping to write some short stories in the months ahead to get another collection of short stories out by the end of the year.
Goals are good to have, especially this time of year (resolutions). I hope Milo's goal is to keep his damn teeth clean. We certainly give him enough dental chews and bones for that purpose!
Last night, I was laying on the couch watching some TV. Zailey came up and half climbed on the couch next to me. By this, I mean that she had her front legs up on the couch and her hind legs still on the floor. She was sort of blocking my view, but I continued to watch TV around her. Since I was engrossed in the show, I mindlessly reached to pet her head. She was in a playful mood, so she mouthed my hand. I jerked my hand away, which made her want to play more, and I showed my palm to show that I was not playing. I was still engrossed in the show when I tried to pet her again. This time I got a BIT more than a mouthing.
At first, I couldn't believe it. I jerked my hand away and I think I pushed her down (I am too stunned to recall exactly). I know my wife saw the bite since she was asking what I did to get bit. I think I just wasn't paying attention enough to Zailey's signals and that got me more teeth than usual.
It wasn't like it was a hard bite. It certainly didn't draw blood or really injure me. It stung my pinky a little and I still felt it a half hour later.
Lately, I've been listening to my narrator act out Tech Fear. I've been more than impressed with what he has done with my words. The only problem is that I realized that I had made a mistake in the book. I don't know how many times I've read the book and two editors that were looking for content also didn't spot the mistake.
The mistake is this: in one scene, I have a thumbpad on my ship and in two other scenes, I have a keypad. I didn't mean for the ship to have both! The keypad is what I meant for the ship to have.
I had to ask myself, does this really matter? The book has been out for less than a month and I can change the ebook with a quick upload. I've also printed a bunch of copies and have even sold some of them. Then there is the audiobook. Do I really want the narrator going back and rerecording this scene?
I recently bought an autographed copy of my favorite book, Larry Niven's A World Out of Time. There is a note from Niven in the book about Ringworld and that fans should hang on to any first editions because the world spins the wrong way. Here he was acknowledging the mistake which I thought was big of him. I just wonder how many people noticed the mistake. Was it noticeable?
In my case, while not meaning to have both a thumbpad and a key pad, it certainly isn't a bad thing. The times that the characters access the keypad, they are wearing environmental suits and gloves. When they access the thumbpad, they don't have any gloves. The thumbpad is quicker, but not always feasible. Therefore, having both isn't that inconceivable, but I'm sure someone will notice and ask why there is both. If someone is paying that close of attention, then I'll be happy because it will mean someone is hanging on every single word I write. To me, that means I've succeeded.
If you are afraid that I would bite your head off for bringing something like this to my attention, you are sorely mistaken. I will laugh it off and be proud that you noticed. It's not like I'm Zailey or something where the only way I can communicate is by biting!
Jynx was laying in my suitcase before bed. While I did need to put the suitcase away from my trip this last weekend, I thought the cat was cute to use it as a bed. I decided to carry him with me to my own bed. As I was getting settled, I got a request from my wife to scratch her back. I had placed the cat between us in the crook of my arm to give him attention, so I relayed that to my wife. She didn't think that was a good excuse and took the cat from me so that I could focus on her back. A few minutes later, I was nearly done with scratching my wife's back and Jynx was beyond done with the attention my wife was giving him. With no warning, he yowled, hissed, and scratched my wife's forehead.
My wife was pissed. The cat ran away and she was asking me if Jynx had drawn blood. There was barely any blood, but I think my wife was more pissed at my laughter. Hey, just because it wasn't funny to her didn't mean that it wasn't funny to the rest of the world!
It wasn't the first time that I had drawn my wife's ire that day. The print proof copy of Tech Fear had arrived with a few mistakes. Instead of heading home (I get important items like my books sent to my workplace), I had stayed to make the corrections. They took a bit longer than I anticipated and ended up home after my wife. Since I had told her that I would be home on time, she was justified in her ire. Well at that time, at least.
Now back to those mistakes in my book. One was completely my fault. The page numbers were not the same font as the rest of the text. I had recently reinstalled Word on my laptop, so I had forgotten to put my default back in it.
The other mistake was with the cover. I had worked pretty hard to make sure it was the exact right dimensions, but apparently they were off a touch. Someone at Amazon decided to rework my cover rather than tell me what was wrong. The result was that the front was way off center and the "n" at the end of my last name was chopped. It was bad. I went back, reread the sizing information, and tried again. This time I hope to have it perfectly aligned. The thing is that I had used my cover for Gun Smuggler's Tale to work the cover for this one and the dimensions are nearly identical. I think that Amazon must have stretched that cover to be the right size, but didn't do that to this one. I'm not sure why, though.
At least this was for a proof and not for the real thing. I just scratched the current template, and put in place a corrected one. I just wonder what wrong was being corrected when Jynx scratched my wife. Someone was being an asshole in that bed and it wasn't me for once! (Okay, maybe I was a little bit of an asshole after the scratching occurred.)
Tonight Zailey was just staring across the room while laying on my lap. I watched her stare off into space for quite a while and wondered what she was thinking. Was she watching Jynx by his water bowl on the counter? Was she looking into the dining room light? What had her attention?
I watched her unmoving, unblinking eyes and tried to figure out what she was seeing. It couldn't have been the cat since the cat moved and her eyes didn't. She was looking too low to be staring into the light. She was really just looking at nothing.
Seeing her stare off into space made me think about my writing. Just today, I was composing an email and was interrupted by a coworker. They asked what I was doing and I said, "Thinking and typing." I was staring off into space to think about how I was going to say what I wanted to say in the email. I was carefully considering what implications would happen depending on what was said in this email.
This is where my imagination helped me. I was imagining the different consequences to how I worded my email. This is what I do when I stare off into space; carefully consider what to write next. It sometimes doesn't make me the fastest typist, but it sure does help me from not as many edits and rewrites. With email, it means that I am doing my job to the best of my abilities. I'm still not perfect, but I am my best self.
I wonder what Zailey imagines. Surely not three legged, four armed aliens hellbent on revenge (read Alien Fear if you don't know what I am talking about). I guess we both can't just stare off into space.
I left for the airport shortly before 3 AM last Friday. Jynx didn't want left behind, so as I was setting my luggage outside the front door, he took off like a shot. Luckily, he got about three feet into the grass before becoming uncomfortable with his decision to escape the safety of home. He froze in place making it easy for me to pick him up and take him back inside.
Now I am in Arizona and made the trek out to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, yesterday. The place has a wide range of plants, animals, rocks, and other things found in the Sonora Desert. I was mainly interested in the birds and cats (though the snakes were also fun). The cats and other animals weren't happy with the 96 degree weather, so they mainly hid from view. Somehow, the ocelot was up and walking around when I arrived at its window. It didn't stay long and my aunt who was trailing not far behind me missed seeing the beautiful cat. I only got two pictures of the creature.
Other cats could only be found by their paws sticking out from their hiding places. The bobcats were in such a dark place, that my pictures didn't turn out. I was understanding of the cats seeking shelter from the heat, but was also disappointed. Didn't they know that they needed to pose for photographs? There were plenty of other animals that did pose, so it wasn't a completely wasted trip.
Cats weren't the only thing missing lately. I have been pretty frustrated with the editor I hired for Tech Fear. She has been pretty far off base with a lot of her comments. Comments like, "this doesn't work for me," isn't a good enough rationale. Why doesn't it work for her?
When I come across a comment like this, I have to stop and think about what could possibly be wrong. I have noticed that she has problems with certain plot points early on and then just harps on it throughout the rest of the book. Many times, I've come to the conclusion that it is another harping that she is on. Since I fixed the first issue when it came up, it is no longer an issue downstream and doesn't need harped on!
I don't know if it is her lack of professionalism in her comments (she tends to add unhelpful comments like, "really?" or "seriously?") or that her rationale is missing that gets to me more. Maybe it is the fact that she likes to separate complete sentences with commas. Really? Is she serious? Yuck (another word she likes).
Jynx was recovered, the cats at the museum are doing cat things, and my book is going to get released. The world continues to go on even though things go missing. You just have to make the best of it. (The editor found some problems that are good to fix, so it wasn't a complete bust hiring her. I certainly won't hire her again, though.)
I don't remember when this was, but it was probably a month or two ago. Jynx was making the face he usually made when he was ill. He even started making some coughing sounds like he was going to be ill. My wife got up from her chair to see if she couldn't help him out. This actually scared him and he ran up the stairs. He made it to the landing before he threw up.
When he got to the landing, he had gone to the corner and faced outward. It was like he was trying to get into a defensible position. As he threw up, he sidestepped into a quarter circle. He left an arc of puke in his wake.
My wife wasn't feeling well at the time and knew that she would puke if she cleaned it up. I wasn't feeling the greatest as I cleaned it up and almost added to the mess myself. I was not happy.
Jynx, though, was much better after this. He had exorcised his demons.
Speaking of demons, I find demon mythology fascinating. From time to time, I get a writing idea that involves one. I've come acrossed a couple of interesting demons for stories that appeared in Shorts. In one of the stories, I was finding it hard to figure out the ending. I was getting tired and pushing my mind to fight for some good idea. The story just came together so suddenly that I was taken aback by the result. This is the one and only time that my writing has scared me because it is almost like something supernatural whispered the ending to me. Not that I'm complaining. I thought the ending to Soul Harvest was great.
No matter how you exorcise your demons (especially for Friday the 13th), you feel better afterwards. Jynx and I can attest to that.
About two weeks ago, I came home a little early. My wife was away to a conference and so I had the house to myself. The cat is usually fed at about 6:00 which is the time I normally come home. Jynx equated me coming home as supper time and whined around begging for his food. I told him to wait while I did a couple of chores like changing his litter boxes. At about 5:30 I came downstairs to feed the cat and found a present in the form of a pile of crap right next to the clean litter box.
I was not happy with the cat. Instead of feeding him, I made sure that he waited until 6:00 while I cleaned his crap up. The whole time he didn't whine at me that he wanted fed.
A few days later, Jynx must have been missing his mom pretty bad. I came home to an odor as soon as I opened the door. I hit the entry hall light to find that he had pooped not just once, but twice next to his litter box. More fun for me!
Speaking of fun. I spent some time today trying to figure out how to add a blog to my website. I didn't finish over my lunch hour to get it all in place. I am currently waiting to hear back on an inquiry before I can finish a project at work. Hence why I have a minute to finish this up. Hopefully, this will be worth it in the end.
When crap happens, all you can do is clean it up and move on. Jynxy hasn't missed the litter box since my wife has been home, so he must have been traumatized by her leaving. I leave at the end of the month for a while, so I hope that he is good for her. Then again, payback wouldn't be bad either.
Prior to October of 2017, I wrote my blog on my Goodreads page. You can find it here.