Cue the Alfred Hitchcock music. Jynx has officially gone psycho. Due to more medical problems (namely a cracked tooth that had to be extracted), Jynx no longer tolerates solid food at all and will not eat pâté that much either. We now have him on a strictly gravy and meat chunk diet. This means that he will not eat his pill pocket with amitriptyline hidden inside. So, now he is bouncing off the walls.
It really pisses off Zailey. Jynx runs past her kennel while she is locked up and she must grumble her displeasure each and every time.
Also, my wife is pissed because Jynx is a night owl again. He’ll walk on her head and knock her phone off the nightstand to wake her up. He wants a snack and she is more likely to give him one than I am. Either that or I sleep deeper and can’t be wakened by his antics. Either way, I am spared his midnight shenanigans until I hear my wife yell at him.
I’ve gone a bit psycho myself, lately. Part of it is that I am not getting enough sleep. Between allergies, my back giving me fits, and a ton of weird nightmares, I just don’t sleep well. What’s worse is that the more that I don’t rest, the more my back and allergies affect me, feeding more into the cycle. My nightmares are due to my anxiety, so I just need to deal with that the best that I can. The thing is that I am currently traveling and that always increases my anxiety. No rest for the wicked.
So, back to my psycho-ness. I’ve actually gotten something good out of it. I wrote a killer short story about a psycho monster for an anthology. At least I hope it makes it into the anthology. I retain the rights to the story if it is published there, so I will be putting it into an upcoming collection of my own (Infinite Horizons is due out in 2021, but I’m not sure when the rights will revert to me).
Jynx and I are psychos. Watch out world, here we come!
As a precursor to this blog, I have to say that I love lizards. Until now, I haven’t lived in a place with a lot of lizards (I remember finding a salamander as a boy at the farm one summer). Usually, I’ve lived in places with snakes. I’ve lived in Junction City for 7 years now and have seen one horned lizard (commonly referred to as a horny toad), countless prairie skinks (black bodied with bluish tails and usually 3 to 9 inches in length), and countless great plains skinks (grey and usually 6 to 18 inches in length). The great plains skinks are kind of ugly and there are a ton burrowing under my driveway to the point where I am getting tired of them. I love seeing the prairie skinks as they are pretty and would like to see more of the horned lizards.
One evening, I am walking up the driveway to the garage. I spotted two prairie skinks about 6 inches long sitting on the driveway in between some vegetation and the front tire of my wife’s car. They spotted me and one dove for cover. The other was warily watching me as I stopped. I had hopes of getting my cell phone out to get a picture of it. A great plains skink that was about 12 inches long had other plans. It jumped out of the vegetation and attacked the prairie skink that remained. It got in a bite to the head before it noticed me. The great plains skink let go and the prairie skink ran for cover. Then the great plains skink slunk back to cover as well.
The other day, I saw an advertisement an author had put out. He was looking for donors for his kick starter campaign. That gave me pause. I mean, why would someone not advertise their work? I’ve read one of this guy’s books and enjoyed it enough that I’ve bought another one. It seems to me that this guy is looking for money to write his next book instead of selling what he has already written. To me, that seems backwards.
Now if anyone reading this would like to donate money, I won’t turn you down. To this author’s credit, he was offering a bunch of perks to funding him. You’d get swag as well as a pre-release copy of the book in question. So really, this was an extremely fancy preorder deal. As fast as he turns out a new book, you wouldn’t have too long to wait before getting the book. I’m just wondering if the pre-release version will be as edited and polished as the final release. By the way, the pre-release was only two weeks before the regular release, so I’m sure it would be nearly done with the polishing.
I guess this author thinks he is going to get more attention through this and rake in some extra dough. Me, I unsubscribed from the medium that sent the advertisement. I still plan to read the book that I’ve purchased, but it’ll have to be really good for me to want to purchase any more of his books.
I understand that in a lizard eat lizard world, sometimes you need to do things to survive. I just don’t think what this author will work and may even hurt his reputation/brand a little. I am going to do what I think is best for me and my brand. What do you all think?
One of Zailey’s nicknames is “b”. It stands for baby, brat, or bitch depending on what else is happening. She doesn’t respond to it; though she doesn’t really respond to her own name. I think if I use my dad voice (the gruff, short, and loud voice that belays that I’m upset), she knows when I say her name. I can’t really do my dad voice when I call her an initial.
My wife hates when I call Zailey a bitch. If I call her a “b” and she asks which meaning I meant, the answer better be, “brat” or I’m in trouble. I usually say, “baby” in full when I call her that. The only problem is that I am lying when I answer that she is a brat.
For various reasons, my stress level went through the roof this month. It has been a “b” and a half. I won’t complain about the issues I faced, but I will say that it has affected my writing. I’ve had to really work hard to get my life in order so that I could destress enough to write something competent. Usually writing has been a stress relief, but this month it hasn’t.
Several causes of the stress has become manageable or at least under control. Hopefully, this means that writing will also resume being the stress relieving activity it once was. Then again, I have a busy September coming up, so I really need my stress to stay low in order to keep up where I want to be with my writing.
So, here’s to the future and the hope that Zailey and my stress aren’t “b”s!
A few weeks ago, I was working in the garage. I had the door open so my sawdust went outside rather than keeping it in. I looked up at one point to find a basset hound walking up, inspecting what I was doing. This dog was ugly, like most bassets. It also had a few too many pounds of fat. When it walked, loose skin and fat jiggled.
Up the street, I heard a commotion. It sounded like there was a search party mounting. I asked if they were looking for a basset hound. They were, so I pointed to the dog that was now walking to my yard to water the grass, if you know what I mean. The dog owners were grateful to get their dog back and I was amused by this rotund ball of fur.
From time to time, I get an idea so good I must work on it right away. Sometimes it is in the middle of the night, but other times it is during the day. Often, it is during the night. This means that I get up, boot my computer, and start writing. Sometimes it is just notes for some other time when it is better. Most of the time, I write the full chapter or short story. This adds up to me losing sleep.
When I was preparing Twisted for publication, I decided that I wanted to next focus on Whispers Within since I have been working on it for years and still don’t have it done. This meant that I was going to *not* write any short stories. My mind had other plans. I came home one day with an idea that was too good not to write. A little over 2K words spewed forth onto the page in about an hour. Usually, I am good for about 1K or 1.5K an hour with the later being extremely rare occasions for me. I must really be booking it to get 1.5K let alone the 2K I got for this story.
Being hounded isn’t always good, but I generally find them to be positive. I don’t plan to publish that short story for years, yet. We’ll see how it is received after that.
The kids are all shedding, bad. Our house is a massive hairball at the moment, in part because I am behind on vacuuming (more on that in a minute), but mainly due to these animals losing a ton of hair.
Sure, we brush them from occasion. Actually, it is more my wife doing the brushing, but I do it as well from time to time. What irks me is that Zailey’s brushing yields a mess of black hair. That means she is showing (keeping) more of her white. I think she is prettier when she is darker rather than lighter. She’ll be darker again this winter, but for now, I have to put up with her being a light blue.
Back to the vacuum, or lack thereof. I have had summer allergies for the first time ever. Even worse is that I ended up getting bronchitis. It has slowed me down to where I can’t vacuum up the hair. That then makes the allergies worse. It is a cycle that has no end! I’ll hopefully be able to break the cycle soon.
My writing production has been down as I recover. I have gotten a few things done in a few spurts on the weekend, but not near as much as usual. While I’m not behind (because I was so far ahead before this stuff hit me), I’m not as far ahead as I would like to be. I’ll get there, though.
How I get there is going to take some patience and perseverance. That’s also how I’ll get my pretty dog back as well. I just have to get through the current cycle.
Jynx has been one sick cat. First, he was drinking a ton which made him piss a ton. He was even going outside of the litter box. The vet diagnosed him with diabetes and gave him an antibiotic since he had crystals in his urine. Jynx wasn’t getting much better, so they sent home some more antibiotics to give him. Then Jynx suddenly went to eating very little due to these antibiotics upsetting his tummy. For about a week, we had to try a bunch of different things in order to get him to eat the bare minimum. We had to quit giving the antibiotics.
Now he is back to eating his normal amount. Actually, he is a little more ravenous than usual. A couple of weeks ago, he even convinced my wife that I didn’t feed him, so he got some extra food.
Have you ever noticed that people in books rarely eat? It’s like that is such a mundane function that it is skipped over by the author. When I don’t eat, I get hangry. Shouldn’t characters in a book do the same?
In Flaming Curse, I have many of the meals mentioned, though some aren’t talked about. For one thing, I think it is interesting what food was available in the old west, which was fun to research. Besides seeing that, I do have one of my main characters miss breakfast and the ill effects he experiences because of that. It is yet another tiny detail that creates conflict to drive the story forward. In other words, I used not eating effectively.
Jynx continues to get better, especially with the insulin. My book is better with details like this. Check it out! Coming in just over a week and available for preorder now!
Zailey will run full out when we throw a toy. In the dining area, we have faux wood floors. She slips on those floors every time. Most of the time, this means she slides into the patio doors, headfirst. I think it is hilarious. My wife hates that I do it on purpose, but she laughs too.
Lately, we’ve found that the patio doors aren’t shutting properly. It would seem that Zailey has bonked her head one too many times and warped the door to the point where it isn’t fitting into the frame properly. Not sure what repairs are going to cost me, but this isn’t funny anymore.
Okay, not as funny, but still funny.
Not everyone gets my sense of humor. I understand that. One of the critiques of Dark Matter mentions my comedy story, “The Silent Perfect War”. While I thought the critique was overly critical (they should have realized that it wasn’t their cup of tea and said that), I know other people laugh their asses off reading it. (By the way, you can read that story for free on Goodreads.)
Zailey and I both love to be funny despite it not being pleasing to everyone we encounter. Let’s hope that the majority of people have the same sense of humor as us, though!
About a month ago, we were getting wave after wave of storms. One night I was on the phone with my dad shooting the shit. Zailey was suddenly going nuts like someone was in her backyard. The yard is locked, so knew that wasn’t true. I thought maybe there was a bird or something, so I let her outside even though it was starting to sprinkle. There were some gnarly clouds passing us to the south and that was the only thing I could think was bothering her. Milo just stayed back and looked at Zailey like she was dumb.
After the call, I checked the weather. On the south side of those gnarly clouds Zailey was so worried about was a tornado. It was heading away from me and was a good 15 miles away. There was also another tornado about 15 miles north. It made me start singing to the dogs, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you”!
I’ve had some close calls with tornados. I’ve had a tornado that wasn’t on the ground go over my house (I think that was 2002). A bunch of things from the yard was thrown into a neighboring pasture. One of my mom’s stock tanks (I lived next door to her) was even picked up and thrown a few hundred yards into the pasture. I wasn’t home at the time, so that was good. I didn’t see that one, but I did see one when I was plowing a field one summer afternoon (I think it was 1997). I was questioning it the entire time I was watching it since they weren’t talking about one on the radio. When it got close enough that I could tell that it was definitely a tornado on the ground and not some low hanging cloud, the Emergency Broadcast System finally broke into the radio broadcast to warn of it.
When I was putting together this last collection of stories, I knew that I had to call it Twisted so that I could put a tornado on the cover. It was this kind of thinking that partly inspired Slave in the Cloud and its inclusion in this collection. A boy in purgatory is commanded by God to create a tornado. The boy questions Him and the explanation is quite, “For the greater good.” I love that story as it is comforting to me to think that there are good things that could come from even the worst events. Check it out, if you haven’t.
So now I know that Zailey can sense twisters and I can write about them in a good light. How cool is that?
Milo hates thunder. It's almost as bad as fireworks popping. He’ll run to either my wife or I and curl up during a storm. Then he starts to shake and looks at me with those big, sad eyes. We had a huge stretch of storms from the middle of May to the beginning of June and they put him in constant fear.
I do my best to comfort him and let him know it is alright. I’m not sure he believes me or not since he keeps running back to me. Worse is that he is now growing afraid of going outside. He used to always beat Zailey outside and Zailey would have to get coaxed. Now it is the other way around. Its driving me up the wall.
The other day, I’m dinking around and thinking. I’m searching different stock photo sites for images of skulls to use for covers in my upcoming books in the series started in Flaming Curse. Even though it is just now available for preorder and the sequel, Death Curse, is barely started, I have some time before I have to worry about another book in the series. I think I am afraid that I’ll get stalled if I don’t have some plan for the future beyond the first two books.
As I’m looking through images, it hits me that I could take the image I am using for Death Curse, which looks very similar to the one on the cover of Flaming Curse, and flip it. Then I moved the skull and shrunk it a bit to give me more room for a lightning bolt. Then I put a cowboy hat on the skull. I’m thinking of calling this one Thunderbolt Curse.
I didn’t stop there, though. I mean, what good is a cover if I don’t have a story for it? I’ve got the basic idea of the plot in my head, though I’m not sure how this is going to end. I had some other ideas for the book like it opening at the wedding of the two main characters, Marta and Sheriff Bourne, but that might have to wait with this new idea coming into play. I’m going to work more on Death Curse before I stop and storyboard the plot for Thunderbolt Curse (if I do end up calling it that).
Thunderbolts are scary. Milo is tough and gets over his in a matter of minutes or maybe a couple of hours. My thunderbolts tend to take up years of my life before I get over them. Mine are also a lot more fun! (Yes, I think it is fun to be scared.)
I’m going to start this blog in the reverse of what I normally do and talking about my writing. Actually, I want to talk about my writing pen pal. We trade chapters and stories for each other to critique. We also discuss the trials and tribulations of writing and publishing in this day and age. I’d like to think that we are figuring this thing out together. You can check her stuff out here.
Jehree and I met at a writing group meeting years ago. I was reading her first novel and she was reading one of mine before she moved to Texas. We do chat sometimes about life in general, but most of the time it is just about business. She still hasn’t read the ending to that novel that I’m still working on and she has finished two. Brenda is my favorite if you want my opinion, though I may be a little biased.
The dogs and cat are also social via the interweb. My wife follows different dog and cat sites on Facebook. She’ll see a dog that she thinks is Zailey’s twin and show them to me. Or she finds Milo’s or Jynx’s twin to show. These pictures are never as cute as Zailey, as handsome as Milo, or as regal Jynx.
My wife also posts pictures of the dogs and cat to these channels. She’ll get a ton of likes from complete strangers enjoying our animals. She’ll also get excited to see a dog that could by Zailey’s boyfriend or find an animal that could by Milo’s or Jynx’s girlfriend. It’s fun to see this interaction.
Fun is the key word here. Getting something worked out with my pen pal or seeing Zailey, Milo, and Jynx be temporary internet celebrities is fun!
Jynx hates having his toes trimmed. Even though he has never had a toe overly cut back, he kicks and screams at some point during it. Usually, I end up with scratches and sometimes even blood is drawn. He is not a happy kitty.
The other day, I grabbed him to start trimming his nails. I laid him upside down and started going at it. My wife was drawn by the noise; not the noise of the cat who was purring, but the noise of the trimmer going snip. She was amazed that he wasn’t throwing a fit and she asked what was different. To answer, let me back up a bit.
For the last several years, to help him calm down and be happy with me again after a trimming, I would give Jynx a treat. It got to the point, that I would get out the bag of treats when I got out the clippers. He knows he is going to get treats soon and all he has to do is let me do this one thing. I’ve also been giving him more treats the better he does.
Now back to the other day. I hadn’t given his medicine to him, yet. So, I did that before starting the trimming. He gets the pill in a pill pocket, so he thinks this is another treat. From his point of view, he just got one treat and I have a whole bag of treats for him for when he is done with the trimming. He was on his best behavior those few minutes, I worked. He didn’t even kick out of my grasp and he most certainly didn’t scratch or scream. He got a ton of treats after that.
A little over five years ago, I hit my 100th rejection from agents on Alien Fear. I was also just starting to get my first rejections for Gun Smuggler’s Tale. This probably would have driven other people absolutely mad. I had a plan, though.
I had created several short stories over the years. One stood out to me and I rewrote it over and over until it was just right. I entered my short stories in contests and submitted them for inclusion in anthologies and magazines. I didn’t get any traction, but I wasn’t trying nearly as hard as I was for getting an agent for Alien Fear. That was my number one goal. I was trying to get my short stories to draw attention to my novels. After reading an article about authors who would self-publish something and then that would interest agents, I decided to take the stories I currently had, add more to get a dozen, and self-publish them all in my own anthology. It didn’t hurt that I had a good cover, but the idea took off. Plus, I had fun putting together the collection, so I decided to do another one. So, this was my plan.
Then the market turned on me. Agents quit asking me for additional materials when I queried them. Hell, they were rejecting me at an even higher rate. No matter how much I told them about my success with my first short story collection, agents weren’t interested. And still, I remained calm.
My plans evolved. They continued to evolve. If I ran into a roadblock, I just evolved the plan some more. Both Alien Fear and Gun Smuggler’s Tale are now published.
Jynx gets a reward for being good. Seeing my books published is a reward all in itself! All we’ve got to do is remain calm.
A few weeks ago, I was at my mother’s taking care of her horses while she rested up from having surgery (she’s fine, now). One of her horses is a Clydesdale named Iris. She weighs in at about 2100 pounds. One of the times we came home, the horse was eager to see us. She jumped and pranced around as we pulled into the drive. She looked like a big, overgrown puppy wanting to play with their best friend on coming home. Except that this puppy could squash you if you got under its huge feet.
My week at mom’s meant that I didn’t get much done with my writing. A lot of time was devoted to feeding horses, playing chauffer for my mom, and trying to get some sleep during the seemingly constant Arkansas thunderstorms. Oh, and my back didn’t like that bed I was sleeping on. My lack of nightly sleep meant some naps were in order. Plus, I had to do some of my own horsing around. My mom was pretty upset that I beat her at almost every single game that we played (sorry, not sorry)! She won one round of Phase 10. On top of all of that, this was a work week that I was away, so I did as much work as I could from the road. As you can see, there were some fairly important things going on that week away.
Now that I am done helping my mom out, it is time to quit horsing around. I’ll leave that for Iris to do! I’ve got a few books that need my attention.
It is impossible for Zailey to sit still. If something is going on around her, she needs to be right there in it. Hell, she practically sleeps with one eye open so she doesn’t miss anything. This makes it harder to get loving from her. You have to practically hold her hostage or make sure everything in the house is one hundred percent calm (like when Milo and Jynx are both asleep).
This bugs my wife to no end. She wakes up often to Zailey stirring in her kennel. Other times Zailey could be in the middle of licking my wife’s foot and suddenly be off after Milo because he went to get a drink. Not to mention the barking when someone passes our house. I get pretty peeved at that one, too.
When I am sitting still, my mind wanders. I may not be physically active like Zailey, but my mind is going a million miles an hour. The only problem is capturing my thoughts properly. For example, I will have a thought on changing something to one of my stories. Ten seconds later, I’ve forgotten the specifics of what I was wanting to change. Sometimes it comes back to me, but other times it doesn’t. Even though I keep saying I’ll take notes, I rarely do. Usually it is because I am driving or am otherwise engaged. Plus, it usually takes more than ten seconds to get somewhere to take a note and, I’ve already forgotten it by then.
Like Zailey’s hyperactivity, my wandering mind bugs my wife. She’ll ask me a question and I don’t answer because I am thinking. She then talks some more to fill the void. I have to stop thinking to listen or stop listening to keep thinking. Both options annoy her to no end. Sorry, honey!
Sitting still means very different things to Zailey and I, but we are both active while doing it. I think it helps my writing to think like I do and Zailey’s activity makes for good fodder. So, here’s to sitting still for the both of us!
The other day, Zailey was so excited when I got out her leash. She wouldn’t even sit still for me to put it on. She couldn’t help it even though she didn’t know where she was going.
When we got outside, she kept looking to me for a clue. She didn’t know if she was going for a walk or a car ride. I thought she wanted to go potty, so I was waiting for her. She never went potty, so I loaded her in the car with Milo.
They were all over the place as I drove. They still didn’t know their ultimate destination, but they were eager to find out.
In the parking lot of the vet clinic, Zailey was still excited. There were so many smells in the parking lot and around it. She pottied then.
It was time to take her and Milo inside. We got to that front door and then her excitement was gone. She did not want to go inside. She did not want to sit next to me as I talked to the desk clerk. She did not want to go with the technician. She just looked at me with her sad eyes that made me wish I wasn’t dropping her off for the weekend.
I get pretty excited about a lot of my writing adventures. Each book marks a new chapter in my life that I find fun. The problem is that after the book comes out, I run into this brick wall in the shape of the millions of other books out there already competing for attention. My excitement drops in the face of that.
Right now, I’m excited about Flaming Curse. It has the potential to fight through that competition and be a force out there. I think it is unique enough to be interesting to all sorts of people while at the same time having a tidbits of familiarity (the Flint Hills of Kansas, Wild Bill Hickok, battle of good versus evil, and so much more). This story is my favorite to tell and I hope it becomes the favorite of my fans.
Zailey was excited when I picked her up from the vet just like my fans will be when they pick up this book. Get ready as it is coming soon!
The other day, Zailey jumped on the side of the chair and put her front paws on the armrest. With her being a little out of reach, I started rubbing her chest. She liked it so much, she started putting more of her weight into the pet to make it more of a massage. I obliged and kept up the chest rub. Without meaning to, I was lifting her in the air. I looked down and found that neither of her front paws were on the armrest anymore. She was just balancing on her hind legs and my hand. I kept up the massage until she wanted let down.
One of the new additions to the Olson household is a massage chair. We needed a new chair as some of our other furniture was worn out. My wife picked this thing and the price was reasonable. I have enjoyed an almost daily massage for a while now. While I don’t think it has been helping my back issues, it has been pretty relaxing. A relaxed Matthew is a less stressed Matthew. Matthew can write better when he is less stressed. I realized the other day that I was typing a mile a minute. This chapter just seemed effortless and captured everything I needed it to. Well, almost everything. I still had to edit it the following day to iron out a few things. Still, a very fine first draft if I don’t say so myself.
Zailey and I love our massages. We are so much happier to get them!
My wife and I rearranged our living room a few weeks ago. During this, we had to decide where to put the dogs’ downstairs kennels where they get their meals and, in general, have a safe space from one another. They tend to fight over food. Also, when one of them is tired while the other wants to play, they get snippy with each other. So, those are times they go to their kennels. To save on space, we put one kennel on top of the other in the form of bunks. Milo has to be helped up to his (since his kennel is smaller, it is on top), but he jumps down with ease. I might have to build him a ramp one of these days, but for now he can get assistance.
In the short story version of Flaming Curse, I had my witches placed in a holding cell in the basement of a church with bunk beds.For the novel version of Flaming Curse, I had to think about where I wanted that church to be. I hate fictional settings, so I researched my butt off for this one. I used to drive by Bala Cemetery in Riley County on a daily basis when they were doing work on the main road from Junction City to Manhattan. So, this back-road cemetery stuck out in my mind. In researching Bala, I just couldn’t see my novel taking place there. For one thing, I never found any information on a church. Then I found St. Joseph’s church in Geary County and it was just perfect for what I wanted. Things started happening from there. The original church was built in 1870. I found a map from 1870 with a town named Kent not far from the church. So, now I had a year for my novel to take place and even a town. I couldn’t find much information about Kent, but the church was what I really needed (well that and the cemetery right next to it). I did find loads of information about 1870 Davis County (renamed Geary County later), Junction City, nearby Ashland (there was a ferry there that I use in the book), and Manhattan. I also researched Wild Bill Hickok and he makes an appearance. So, much fun stuff.
The church was rebuilt in 1910, but has been closed in 1989. In fact, the stain glass windows were sold at auction. There is currently a project to get the church windows replaced and the church restored to be a community building. I follow the Geary County Historical Society on Facebook and on April 10th they showed some of windows being installed and would be open soon. It would be neat if I could somehow coordinate with the Historical Society to have a book signing there or some other author event during some other event they host. To find out more about the church, go here.
You never know what makes a good connection until you try. For Zailey and Milo, their kennels make good bunks. Going from bunks in a church to having a full and rich setting for a novel makes it fun for me. It is coming soon, and when it does, I hope you have fun reading it too!
For his birthday this year, Jynx got a new bed. When he is downstairs, his favorite places to sleep are on the couch, on a blanket wherever it lay, or on the dogs’ bed. These are all places that the dogs can bother him. Besides, we removed one of the couches from our living room to give him even less room just for him. Hence the need for another spot of his own.
We still haven’t figured out a good spot for it. We don’t want it where the dogs can get him nor use it instead of him. At first, we have it parked in the middle of the dining room table. I think he liked being there in part because he can see everything going on in the living room and was just a hop away from his food on the bar counter (we just have pretties, a beta fish, and his food there). We ended up putting it down at the end of the loveseat and have it blocked by a coffee table. The dogs can’t get to it and he is using it there.
I mentioned that this is for when he is downstairs. He does like hanging out downstairs when we are down there. If we are upstairs or if he is wanting to get away from the dogs, he is sleeping on the bed or in his suitcase. That’s right, I said suitcase. He loves getting in suitcases and even laundry baskets or boxes. We have a small suitcase that almost never gets used, so he commandeered it after the last time we used it. We’ve since added a blanket to help him be comfortable. Oh, and we put it on top of the dresser so he can watch us sleep. Of course, he still comes cuddling up to me when he wants attention. He’ll step on my wife’s head on the way by, but he’ll find his way to me. If I’m not around (like after I’ve gone to work) and he wants attention, he’ll cuddle with my wife. I’m the preferred cuddler, though.
I haven’t been getting very good quality sleep lately. In part, I blame the time change, but really this has been going on even before that. Plus, it’s been almost a month since the time change, so I should be acclimated to it by now. Part of it is nightmares, but also other factors like Zailey or Milo waking me to let them out in the middle of the night. Nightmares I don’t mind too much as I can sometimes get a good short story or novel out of them. I’ve done some research into nightmares and I know it is anxiety in my waking life that is playing into the nightmares. The thing is, I tend to oversleep or am half asleep during the day and that adds to my anxiety. I’m in a cycle that won’t quit.
Being tired has made it tough for me to be motivated to sit down and write. I’m doing a lot of novel work at the moment where the idea for whatever I am working on was done previously, so I’m not doing a lot of hard thinking here. Just putting my outline or storyboard into fruition. I’ve got to flesh out the details and that isn’t too hard for me. I’m almost on autopilot doing this. The biggest issue is that I am usually lacking emotion and depth to my characters writing on autopilot. Those I can add later, but it is nice to have on the first pass rather than down the line.
Jynx’s anxiety has gone way down having his new bed. I wonder what will make mine go down? I’m thinking a vacation, but that costs money that I don’t have. So, I guess I just need money. And to get money, I just need to sell more books! Problem solved!
I was sick a few weeks ago and I needed a nap. Apparently, Zailey couldn’t make it through the whole nap time. She woke my wife and was put out with Milo. Then the baby gate was not put up at the bottom of the stairs, so the dogs had free reign of the entire house.
When I first felt a dog climbing on me, I thought it was Milo. In my sleep addled mind, I was coming to terms with the animal on me as he only weighed about ten pounds. I could go back to sleep with him on me. As the dog crawled to my chest, I was laboring to breath more than I expected. I pushed the dog down only to realize that the dog was bigger than I thought. It was Zailey on me.
I got her pushed down and got her to get of the bed. I rolled over to try to get back to sleep. Milo was on the bed, but in my wife’s spot that she just vacated and Jynx was sleeping in the far corner away from me. Zailey decided that if she couldn’t be on the bed, the cat shouldn’t either. Zailey tried to get in Jynx’s face a couple of times, but was rebuffed each time with a swift pop. The shrill Zailey barks alerted me to this. I had to yell to get her to quit. She then laid on the floor to nap there.
Jynx was now awake from his nap, so he needed some loving. I was the closest parent (and his preferable one anyway), so he climbed up on me. Milo got jealous and grumbled at the cat. The cat gave a warning back (something like an “ack-ack-ack") and walked right over me to my nightstand to look out the window. Having succeeded in keeping the cat away, Milo went back to sleep.
Getting sick always sucks. My housework time and writing time suffers from this. Since this was a weekend, I didn’t have to call in sick to work, so at least that didn’t suffer. Falling behind schedule is the most disappointing thing about something like this. I also found it hard to find time to get back on schedule this time around. I’ve been sucked back into doing a little more with coins the week I was sick. While the payoff sounds promising this time around, it still takes a lot of time from me, particularly in getting it off the ground.
With all of the commotion on my bed, I found that I had to get up despite being groggy. Time waits for no one, though. Zailey, Milo, Jynx, and I march on.
We were getting snow storm after snow storm last month. Usually, we get a warming period in between snow storms to where one snow melts before the next one comes down. Jynx hasn’t been happy about this. He used to go out from time to time to bask in the sunshine or to munch on grass (when it wasn’t dormant). Heck, he would go outside just to run around for a minute and watch birds. With snow on the ground, he does not want to be out there.
You can tell he misses the outdoors. He’ll run up to the sliding door like he wants to go out. He’ll longingly gaze through that glass at his yard. The moment I open that door, though, he’ll jump back.
I got him good a couple of times. Instead of opening the door to let him out on his own, I would first put my hand behind him so he couldn’t back away. Then I would open the door and push him out. I would have to close the door right away after that or he would probably run back in. If he did get cold, there was a heated dog house for him to hide in. But he usually just moseyed around the patio until I let him in. Either that, or he would sit at the door waiting for me.
The snow has played hell with my work schedule. I had days where I worked from home, had an early release, and had late starts. This meant that I’ve had more time to write. I’m zipping right through projects at home. The problem is getting home. My normal thirty-five minute commute has been as much as two hours. That eats into some of that time that I was gaining. Though the net has been in my favor and why so much stuff has gotten done.
Speaking of commutes, I feel bad about some thoughts I had on one. I was going about forty on ice and was really having issues going that fast. People were passing me going sixty or seventy. It got to the point where I started wishing they would learn to slow down. Sliding into the ditch would be one way. One such pickup made it another two miles past me before they spun out. The only thing saving them from hitting a guard rail was all of the snow the plows had deposited against it. The thing was, the joker got their vehicle going straight again and still kept going their dangerous pace, so they didn’t learn.
Anyway, despite my extra time of writing, I want this snow to go away. Spring is nearly upon us (it hit 60 this last weekend), so this hell is almost over for Jynx and I.
The other morning, I roused the dogs out of bed to put them outside. They had gotten up in the middle of the night, so it had been about five hours since they’d been out. Milo was being his usual self and didn’t even want to get out of his kennel. The floor of the kennel slides out, so I gave him a bit of a ride to get him to the edge. I then coaxed him to where I could pick him up. Zailey was a completely different story.
She did walk out of her kennel on her own. Maybe a little slow, but not unusual. For the first time ever, though, she just laid down in the hallway outside of the bedroom. She was telling me that she did not want to walk down the stairs. I was behind her at the time, so I had to stop to not step on her. I was stunned a moment before getting a little miffed. I kept calm and asked her nicely to get going. She didn’t and I couldn’t keep cool any longer. I nudged her hiney with my toe. That got her to move, but not the way that I wanted. True to Blue Healer form, she nipped at my ankle. Luckily, she only caught air, but I was pissed now. Also, lucky for her, she realized she was in trouble and she ran down those stairs.
I’m not the best salesperson. Heck, I’m not even the best marketer. Part of the reason why I think my books aren’t selling as much as I would like is that I hate it when someone tries to talk me into their products, so I don’t like to talk others into mine. Even though I know that there are a lot of people that I encounter that will enjoy my stuff, I can’t seem to talk them into it. I have a laid-back approach, most of the time.
With the release of Twisted last month, my normal approach has been transformed into more guerilla tactics. I’m not laying down here and am instead doing several ads, talking to my social groups, and, in general, talking to people under the flimsiest of pretenses about my books. I’m not just talking about Twisted, I’m talking about all six (and even a little about the ones coming down the pipe). I’m not really that interested in selling just one book. I want people following me on this journey that I am on.
So, in short, I’m running down those stairs unlike Zailey. If you are reading this, I hope that means you are following me down those stairs too!
One evening I was getting ready to feed the dogs. I had already fed Jynx, so the dogs knew I was coming around with food for them. Since the dogs have a history of fighting over food, I feed them in their kennels. As soon as I opened Milo’s kennel, he was in it. I was still working on getting food for him when Zailey also rushed into Milo’s kennel. The fight was on, then.
Milo’s kennel is pretty small since Milo is a small dog. With him in there, Zailey could only get in about half way. Since I was right there, I pulled on her hind section. Of course, with the fighting, I couldn’t get a good grip the first several times. I finally got her out. Milo tried to be all macho and standoff with her still, so I slammed the kennel door in his face. This meant, I lost the grip on Zailey. Of course, I was yelling at her during all of this, so she knew she was in deep shit. She ran away from me. I opened her kennel door and she ran in there to get away from me. Milo had no injuries and I didn’t bother checking Zailey. I fed them both and kept them kenneled up for a long while to cool off.
I enjoy a good fight sequence in books. Writing them can be fun as well. The fight at the end of Flaming Curse was thought out well before I began to write the novel. It was exciting to read when I finished it. I wish I could tell you all about it, but it would give away too many spoilers. I guess you’ll have to read it when it comes out! (Note: I hope to have it out this fall.)
The dogs fighting was scary to me just like I’m sure people reading my fight sequence will also be scared or at least at the edge of their seat. Now if only I could get these damn dogs to quit fighting. Sorry, but I won’t stop writing fun fight sequences. (Oh, and the one that I have planned for the sequel, Death Curse, is going to be bigger, deadlier, and even scarier. Fun!)
Jynx had been sick a while before we finally took him to the vet a few weeks ago. He hates leaving the house and tends to slice people up while out. He’ll even slice me. So, they left him in his pet carrier when he wasn’t sedated. Oh, and he was left in his carrier about two hours. And, the sedation makes his bladder control weak.
When I picked him up, I could tell right away that there was a problem. I didn’t know how big of one, so I took him directly to the sink when I got home. I’m glad that I did. His tail was drenched and there wasn’t much of him not a little wet. I took him out of the carrier and gave him his first bath in years. He hates baths, so was not happy. Lucky for me, he was more interested in trying to escape than slicing me. Either that or he realized that I was trying to clean him up. Once he was washed, I attempted to dry him, but that didn’t work so well. He finally escaped my grasp and I let him air dry from there.
Now that the rough draft of Flaming Curse is finished, I am beginning the process of cleaning it up. I was trying to set up a twist at the end that just didn’t work. My bad guy just wasn’t evil enough throughout much of the book, so I have to fix that. I’ll have to rewrite a few dozen things to accomplish this and even combine a few chapters. I’ve set up a lot of time to work solely on this project (and just when I was making some progress on Whispers Within again).
Once I am done with the rewrite, I’ll do another pass of just editing the book. Then, I’ll get an editor for this as well. I’ll look over the edits and do any other touch-ups before a final proofing session by the editor. So much cleaning ahead!
At least with Flaming Curse, I’m in no danger of being sliced up while cleaning it. But it is going to take a lot longer time than Jynx did!
The other day, I was putting the dogs to bed like normal. Zailey hesitated before going in her kennel. At the time, I didn’t think much of it other than it was a bit odd. Then my wife was wondering where the cat was. We hollered for Jynx to no avail. For some reason, Zailey’s hesitation came to mind, so I checked in her kennel. Sure enough, there was one dog and one cat in there. They just stood there looking at each other like, “What do we do now?” I let the cat out and didn’t pay much mind to it from there.
Then about a week later, the cat was missing. He wouldn’t come to our calls (though that isn’t too surprising). What was the weirdest was that the cat hadn’t come down for supper so his food was sitting there untouched. For whatever reason, I needed to go upstairs. I looked at all of his usual haunts - his bed, our bed, his litter box, and even where his grass and breakfast/lunch is kept. He couldn’t be found. I then looked in Zailey’s kennel out of desperation. Sure enough, he was there napping away. I told him he had supper to eat and that got him moving, though he should have been able to hear my wife and I tell him that from hollering for him.
One day I was getting the car worked on, so I walked to a nearby McDonald’s and got a bite to eat. I then worked on the outline to Flaming Curse. This was the day after I had written the rough draft to the outline, so I had a bunch of holes to plug and general improvements to make. Heck, I’d forgotten to complete one of the plot lines, so I closed that out. The story was fortified into something even better than what I had.
After thinking about it that evening, I got another idea for the story. It was a minor tweak, so I just thought I would go in and make it. Just so you know, any time I write these days, my work is backed up on the cloud in addition to being saved on my laptop. I’ve also got my work computer set to get another backup of my work. At that time, I also had a home desktop that would have gotten the backup as well. So, I should have had four copies of the changes that I made in McDonald’s and there were quite a few changes. Guess how many copies actually survived. If you said zero, then you would be correct. Looking at the logs of the document changes on the cloud, no changes were recorded that morning. I had to redo it all in addition to my tweak. I was a bit miffed.
I think the reason that no changes were saved was because the McDonald’s WIFI wasn’t as reliable as I thought. My laptop is set to download the file from the cloud, which then overwrote the copy that was on there. Since the document never made it to the cloud, the redundant copies on the other computers never got updated. So, what I now do is that every time I don’t have a connection or I think I’m on an unreliable connection, I make my phone into a hotspot and sync my laptop to the cloud before shutting it down.
When something goes missing whether cat or file, it can be aggravating to track down. But at the end of the day, the cat was found and files can be recreated. Everything was fine.
The other day, Milo climbed up on my lap to get attention. Zailey also wanted attention, so she laid down next to me. I had a drink in my right hand, so I only had one free hand to comply with the two dogs’ needs. I petted Milo a second and then petted Zailey. Milo was pissed that I didn’t keep petting him, so he turned to nip at his competition. Instead of nipping Zailey, he missed and bit me instead. Since it was just a nip, it didn’t break the skin or even really was that hard. I was pissed though.
Milo knew he did something wrong right away. He jumped down and cowered a few feet away. Zailey perked her ears up wondering what happened. I yelled at the little asshole, threatened to give him away to his grandpa, and put him in time out in his kennel. I then made sure to love Zailey well within eyesight of him to really let it sink in that he did something wrong while Zailey acted right.
One of my friends is retired and uses some of his free time writing. Another friend of mine is contemplating retiring soon so that he can focus on writing. It is my dream that I could become financially fit enough to retire early to focus on writing. I even have gone as far as to figure out what my schedule would be.
The first thing I would do every morning is edit the previous day’s work. Enough time will have passed between writing the stuff to where I can have a clear head to edit with. After editing is done, I would then dive into new projects. Writing chapters/short stories, blogging, researching, outlining, and marketing would be worked on a highest priority rate. The goals would be to still get a blog out every ten days, do something else marketing related the other nine days, and release a new book every forty-five to sixty days. And yes, I think I can sustain that rate.
Jealousy is a powerful emotion. Unlike Milo, I’ve kept my jealousy down, but it doesn’t mean I can’t still dream. My day is coming!
Jynx was hanging out on the back of the couch, minding his own business. The dogs wanted to play and of course Jynx was the target. Milo tried a few assaults from the front by jumping on the seat and then jumping Jynx from there. He would then jump back down to get out of range of claws and to entice a chase that didn’t happen. Since my wife and I were both on the couch, it was a bit hard for him to keep this up beyond a couple of tries. Zailey had a different approach.
As tall as she is, she could easily jump up on her hind legs and get at the cat in attempted love bites. Jynx was beyond prepared for this. Every time Zailey’s head came up, Jynx popped her on the head or nose. He didn’t have claws extended, thank goodness, but these weren’t little taps either. Zailey had no choice but to abandon her attack and try a different attack. What ensued was the best game of whack-a-mole (or is it whack-a-dog?) I’ve ever seen. No matter what angle Zailey took, Jynx was able to pop her. Jynx easily won as Zailey eventually gave up after a few minutes of this.
I have some plot issues with Flaming Curse at the moment. I’m so close to being done with the first draft that I can’t quit now for fear of losing momentum. I feel like that I’ve had these issues for a while now and I keep trying to whack them as they come up, but it has turned ugly. I’m losing the ending that I’ve been striving for. I’m going to have to fight through the ending for now before turning around and doing some major rewriting in the edit. It is going to take some hard work, but I think I can salvage much of the current draft and turn it into something really good. I mean, it is good now, just losing a bit near the end.
I am confident that the moles will all get whacked in the rewrite and I’ll emerge victorious like Jynx!
The other day I was home instead of at my writing workshop. The kids (Jynx, Zailey, and Milo) enjoyed having me home. We played some and got some extra loving (or maybe I got some extra loving) with the additional time. I think they were glad I was there.
The Junction City Writing Workshop had been in danger of me stopping it for a while. I was real close to shutting it down when I had a bunch of attendees come to a session. It was a great session, so decided to keep things going. The high attendance was apparently an isolated incident rather than the new norm. I also worked hard to market the group to get it to grow. I also put quite a bit of effort into doing new things and researching helpful topics for attendees. I guess part of the reason that I wanted to close shop was that it was taking too much of my time that I could have spent writing.
Quitting something like this was hard to do. I started this with every intention of doing it long term. I couldn’t foresee an end, especially after how good of a start it was and how appreciative people were for my advice. People even seemed to have a good time when they came. I think it is hard for people to get out and mingle in the ever-changing digital landscape. I was disappointed to close shop to say the least.
I may have been disappointed, but the kids weren’t. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to do a different version of this online someday. The dogs and cat can even keep me at home for that!
Zailey’s first Christmas was spent in Arkansas (actually, all of her Christmases have been in Arkansas) visiting my mother. That year was a bad one weather wise. There was a tornado nearby and so much rain that it flooded out a golf course. With the heavy rain, I wanted to start home later to hopefully hit the end of the storms. Also, there was snow forecasted the farther north we went, so that ruled out going home on a more northerly route through Kansas City (I usually go the south route anyway as it is much shorter). We did well for about half of the trip. In between Independence and El Dorado, Kansas, the fit hit the shan (or something like that).
At this point in the journey, the rain was lightly coming down. The road was wet, but not much standing water, so I didn’t fear hydroplaning. The temperature was getting just below forty degrees, but the wind was blowing. I didn’t account for the wind and that was my first mistake.
We came upon some slower traffic. I passed one vehicle and waited patiently to pass the rest. An SUV behind me wasn’t as patient. They decided to pass as we came up to a bridge. Oh, and they didn’t just pass me, but decided to pass the whole line of vehicles. Me not being worried about this was my second mistake.
Halfway over the bridge, the SUV hit ice. The windchill meant that the rain was freezing on the ground and this bridge was one of the first places to ice over. The SUV slid sideways, and the driver panicked. They hit the brakes which sent them into the left guardrail head on. They were going so fast that they bounced off it and across the two lanes of traffic.
I saw them slide and did not panic. I slowed (not slammed on the brakes) and edged over right, away from the crash. As I saw the SUV cross the highway, I turned left and hit the gas (to prevent fishtailing or spinning). I drove around the SUV as it hit the right guardrail and it spun back straight against it. Everyone in the SUV was okay. My wife, Zailey, and myself were all scared near death, but alive. The car was also unscathed.
After that, I slowed way down and tested the ice conditions every so often. About thirty minutes later, we crossed a valley with trucks stopped on both sides of the road since they couldn’t make it up the hills. I was also having troubles getting up the hill and was only going twenty at this point. At the top of the hill was a rest stop, so we stopped there. The ice was so thick and the wind was so bad, Zailey and I couldn’t go very far before we did our business (yes, I peed in a bush instead of going to the actual toilet). We then spent the night in the car. It sucked, but we got through it.
When traveling, my laptop usually makes the trip. Often, I don’t get a chance to get it out and work on things. Other times, I find lots of time to write (like in Arizona this last October). It all depends on what else is going on.
Unfortunately, I usually have to drive when we travel. When I fly or have someone else driving me, I get out my laptop and work on some things. Usually, it is a bit cramped to work for a long period, but I try to do a little something in these instances. Heck, anytime I can find a spare couple of hours to write, I’m going to grab it and do all that I can with it.
Traveling can sometimes suck, as Zailey can attest to. Most of the time she enjoys the ride and I also try to be that way!
It never fails that when there is something shiny, Milo goes nuts trying to get it. It doesn’t even matter that it is impossibly out of reach, he’ll still try to get it. It could be the most imperceptive thing in the world, like sunlight reflecting off my watch onto the bright patio pavement, and he’ll see it.
The other day, he was sitting there staring at the ceiling. We were sitting there wondering what he was looking at. Then when we found the tiny square of light, we had to figure out where it was coming from. We finally traced it to a cell phone sitting nearby and had to move it to see if it was indeed the source. Every time the light moved, he danced around hoping it would fall so that he could attack it.
What is worse is that sometimes he is so erratic that Zailey has to get in on it. She barks and dances around him. She wants to play with him even though he wants nothing to do with her and everything to do with that light. I hate Zailey’s barks, so the light source needs found and shut down asap.
When something shiny comes along, I can’t go nuts. Instead, I sit there and analyze it from every single possible angle making sure it is something good. This can be a story idea, a blog idea, or even just something I randomly encounter. Once I deem something good, then I’ll go nuts with it.
I was talking with a potential customer the other day. They asked what I liked to read and I started to respond with what I used to read. I haven’t done much reading lately, so that is what I replied with. I’ve been tied up with writing so much that I don’t have time to read. I least that is what I told her.
I’ve since realized that me saying that I don’t have enough time to read isn’t quite true. I spend a lot of time playing games on my phone. Time that I could spend reading (and even doing more writing). Since that realization, I’ve made a commitment to reading at least an hour a week. What will I read? I’ve been into a dark mystery series written by Linda Ladd. I’ve also been taking a look at some successful indies in just about any genre (Glass by Kate Kort is what I just finished and it almost lived up to the hype). I’ve had some recommendations from friends, mainly mysteries. I’ve been told some bad things about Andy Weir’s new novel, so I haven’t pulled the trigger on buying it, yet. Though I do plan to reread The Martian, which I now consider my favorite book of all time beating out Larry Niven’s A World Out of Time. I’m also going to read some classics that are considered the best all time. I feel like if anything else, surrounding myself with the greats may make me better. Many of these, I am looking forward to reading, but some I know are going to be a slogfest (like when I read Sir Arthur Cannon Doyle’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes).
My shiny object is reading and I hope to go as nuts over it as Milo does over his shiny lights. Hopefully, it’ll be good for me. At the very least it’ll give me a better response to a customer the next time they ask me this question.
It was a good plan to start with. Both Zailey and Milo’s kennels were bare while pillows and blankets were cleaned. Their dog dishes were sitting just outside of their kennels, so that is where I fed them. Milo quickly ate his, so I thought he was still hungry. I fed him a little more since he hadn’t eaten much the previous day and a half or so. That was a mistake.
My wife thinks it was a mistake that I fed them out of their kennels in the first place. It wasn’t like this was the first time it had happened. I didn’t think it was a big deal and it shouldn’t have been.
Milo was done eating and didn’t want the extra food I put in his dish. Zailey for some odd reason abandoned her food and was slowly heading for Milo’s bowl. I didn’t think much of it since I thought Milo wasn’t going to eat it, Zailey might as well have it. At that point, I didn’t know she had her own food left.
Jynx loves dog food. For some reason, he thought that Milo’s abandoned bowl made for a good meal. I think this was the main catalyst for what happened next.
Milo’s territoriality kicked in. He decided to tell the other two to leave his food alone. Zailey said, “I’m bigger than you and I can have it if I want.” The two started their wrestling. Snarls and barks went up before the yips of pain. My wife and I were yelling at them, but the two were in their own world. It was looking to be a fight to the death.
Somehow, my wife got hold of a spray bottle that we keep filled with water as their deterrent and was spraying Zailey, who was kicking ass in the fight. I kept trying to get in and separate the two. Finally, I got Zailey’s collar and drug her ass outside. She went out on two feet since I had the collar held up high enough that her front feet never touched the ground until she was outdoors.
Milo was cowering in a corner and shaking like a leaf. He held his right front paw up and out. The way he held the paw made me think his leg was broken. I gingerly felt the leg, but found nothing wrong. I picked him up and looked him over from nose to tail. I also felt his leg as he wouldn’t put pressure on it. The only time he seemed to be in pain was when I felt at his elbow, but only if I was trying to feel under it. He was using his leg to shield a small cut on his side. It was slowly oozing and looked to be his only injury.
I kenneled Milo and then got Zailey. I did the same injury inspection for her. The only thing that she shied away from was when I tried to touch her lip on the left side. I think Milo got her lip, but I couldn’t see an injury. If there was one, it was on the inside of the lip where it would heal well naturally anyway.
A couple of nights later, I woke up in the middle of the night with some stomach issues. Trying to get back to sleep, I was thinking about wind rustling through the prairie. I was trying to bring peace and tranquility to my mind so that I could sleep.
Thinking this over and over, I started to develop an inner monolog. It was pretty good with talk of peace and the imagery of the grasses. Then I thought about writing this down and the next thing that came to mind was that this was a good way to start my Flaming Curse novel (three witches and a living skeleton on the Kansas prairie). There is so much fighting and strife in the novel that starting off talking about peace and the wonderful landscape would bring a stark contrast to the novel. Especially after the reader looks at the image of a burning skeleton on the cover, I’m really making their head spin. By the end of the first chapter, peace is out the window.
I wrestled with this for a little while. All I really wanted to do was sleep, not rewrite the first paragraph of the novel. I figured this could wait until morning. But sleep was still elusive, so I brought up the document on my phone (my license of Word allows me to write documents via mobile). I really just wanted to see the current first line to see how good it was. It was a good line. I couldn’t throw it away. I thought about shutting down my thoughts on rewriting the beginning. Then I thought, well, let me write it and see how it is. I can always delete it if it is bad. The fight was on.
After writing the new beginning, I love it. The old first line is the first line of the second paragraph since it holds a little nugget of intrigue.
Did either dog win the fight? Did either beginning to my novel win? The food is still in the bowl and both beginnings still exist. Milo was a bit bloodied, but may learn from this (at least I hope so). My beginning is even stronger. We’ll see what happens from here.
On a hot August day a few years ago, my wife and I picked up a cute little blue heeler that we had named Zailey Rochelle Olson. She was nervous to be away from her mother and siblings for the first time. Also, there were two humans she didn’t know carrying her about and taking her away from the only thing she had known as home. It was a long drive home from northwest Kansas back to Junction City.
After that came the tedious process of potty training with more than a few messes to clean up along the way. We did some organized training at a nearby Pet Smart. There was this being that demanded a lot more attention than our previous dog or even the kitty that we currently had. My world was rocked.
That same year, I got an interesting idea for a short story. A witch living in the old west was captured and put with two other witches. Their powers were blocked so that they could be burned at the stake. The story was about their struggle to get free of the block. It was a metaphor for intolerance. I called it “Flaming Curse” and it came out that December in Dark Matter.
In 2016, the next year, I was thinking about what to do for my next novel as I was nearly finished with Tech Fear. At that point, Whispers Within was being worked on slowly, but steadily, but I was trying to do two projects at the same time in my quest to increase my productivity. I remember driving home and thinking about all the short stories I had worked on. I thought on “Flaming Curse” and how it would make a good television series. I started thinking about what that series would look like. The next day, I went to work on an outline with some slight changes to the story. It took a few hours, but I had over forty chapters set. The next few days, I reworked the outline, mainly because I forgot to close one of the plot lines. By the end of that period, I had fifty chapters. I’ve since made enough changes to the outline that I’ve had to extend it to fifty-one chapters.
This story continues to build momentum. After finishing the outline, I had a vague notion of doing a sequel. Some of the changes to the first book put a kibosh on the idea I had. Now that I am nearly finished with the novel, I realized that the ending I have in mind will lend itself to a different story with more witches, more bad guys, and more action, even though there is a lot of action in the first novel.
The world of “Flaming Curse”/Flaming Curse has consumed so much of my time that Whispers Within has been put on the back burner. That and I wanted to work on Twisted. So, my writing world has been rocked much like Zailey rocked my world.
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.