Somewhere in the universe, the cat gods must be laughing at me. Or I have a sign only cats can read pointing to my house that says “sucker for strays.”
In any case, a few weeks ago, I discovered this little guy in my recycle bin, licking a soup can. So, I fed him. Then, the next day he came back. And never left. He was friendly, wanted love, affection, and a warm house to stay in. We started calling him Pip (as in pip squeak or Pippin).
A magical force must have been at work because hubby, who initially balked when I wanted to adopt Ariel (and he totally loves her now) didn’t say a word when we carted another cat into the house.
As can be seen, he wasted no time making himself at home.
How could I say no to this guy? He is super sweet and loves to be handled. We’ll never know his real name or origin but it doesn’t matter. He decided we’re his. Maybe the cat gods know what they’re doing.
Happy Friday. Casey here. Not a long post today since I am almost at the end of Mystic Hero’s first draft.
We’ve expanded our furry family again. This is our newest kitty, Ariel. Isn’t she a sweetie pie?
We adopted her fromMary’s Kitty Korner(a wonderful organization dedicated to saving cats). She is still getting used to living with us. She spends her days with older son, in his spacious room receiving chin rubs and playing catch the laser dot. She’s also been exploring the house and getting to know our other two kitties.
Next time you want a new pet, please consider adopting an adult cat or dog from a rescue group.
How about you? Have you ever rescued a pet from a shelter? If not, what’s holding you back?
Thea Devine today, shaking my head over the never-ending battle between John and Joey, my two resident type A’s. This time, it was over the tufted rocker in the living room. Joey just loves to grab that space away from John — like he has some kind of radar that alerts him when John is about to sit down.
John is majorly tired of Joey’s demands and the way he takes swipes at him. Nor was he as crazed as I was that time when Joey stayed out all night. Plus Joey invariably has a lot to say that John has made abundantly clear he doesn’t want to hear. And Joey eats enough for two people — how do you control that?
They both want what they want — and they’re always at a stand-off. Joey invariably wins — emotions don’t get in his way. But I’ll tell you — when Joey decides to be nice, he’s really really nice. Even to John. When they fight, neither gives an inch.
It’s a beautiful thing to watch — man vs. orange tabby cat, each one determined to stand their ground.
The thing is Joey (for Joe diMaggio) isn’t our cat — he’s my younger son’s, adopted from a friend who took him from a situation where he was being abused. So he has issues. That kind of excuses everything as far as I’m concerned. If Joey swipes at one of us, well — he has issues. Or he’s trying to get our attention (I really believe).
Also, I like to think he’s trying to fill the space left by the death of our beloved doxie. Maybe he remembers that Midgie was always next to me on the couch. Maybe he knows somehow that I occasionally look over as if I expect to see her there. I note that he comes on the couch more often than not now. He cuddles up when he naps, either against me or John on the opposite end. And with all that, he’s become the sweet cat that my eldest son believes him to be.
Still, the type A growling goes on. Maybe the thing is that John and Joey both need to exert control over their territory. And maybe that’s just something that goes with the territory and it’s not for me to parse it all out.
Maybe my job, as always, is to observe and write it all down. But I bet if he could speak, Joey would probably tell me to mind my own business
Do you have any type-A animals in your house (human included)?
How do you cope? Or do you cope? Maybe we should just leave them all alone.
Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the author of twenty-seven erotic historical and contemporary romances, and a dozen novellas. She will be speaking at NJRWA’s Put Your Heart in a Book conference in October.
It’s snowing off and on as I write this, and I’m thinking of my two favorite other snow days when my husband didn’t have to go to work, and we had the days to ourselves. One of those days, while the snow piled high outside, inside, we listened to music and read and talked, warmed by the fire. The second time, we braved the elements to have lunch by firelight at a local rustic inn.
Those are romantic moments to me. I’ve often said we romance authors are all married to engineers even if they aren’t engineers. My husband is an educator, teacher of English and former high school administrator. But really, he’s an engineer. He’s linear, he’s a one-thing-at-a-time guy, he doesn’t sugar coat anything. He solves problems. Don’t all heroes?
Another favorite memory happened on a summer day when he wanted me to listen to an album of poetry — Billy Collins — so we drove to Litchfield listening to the CD, had lunch, and continued listening on the way home. After which I immediately wanted to start writing poetry because listening to Billy Collins just inspires you that way.
One of the poems, “The Revenant,” really resonated with me. It was from the viewpoint of a dog in the afterlife, finally confessing his true feelings about his long-time owners, words to the effect of — I never liked you. I hated the food you made me eat. I despised this. I never liked that.
You get the idea. A litany of dislikes and resentments. It made me look at my mini-doxie in a whole new light. Did she hate me? Despise the “naming of the parts” game I played with her? Hate all the silly nicknames I gave her? Did she resent my re-naming her “Munch”?
She was my mother-in-law’s dog, as I may have mentioned previously, a gift after the sudden death of mom’s then canine companion, Casey. The problem was, mom was ninety at the time, had macular degeneration, and was pretty unsteady on her legs.
So my Munchkin started out in pretty shaky circumstances: taken from her mother at 6 weeks, flown up to NY, put in the hands of strangers who then gave her to an elderly nearly blind lady who couldn’t properly care for her.
Something had to give; a year or so later, something did: mom fell, went to the hospital, and we took Midgie. At the time we had our beloved galumphing lab mix, Maggie who was about four times Midgie’s size. We honestly didn’t know what to expect. Mom always thought Midgie would be eaten alive by Maggie. But that didn’t happen.
They got along just fine. Midgie — or Munch — would chase Maggie around the kitchen-dining-living room and then hide under her legs so Maggie couldn’t find her. Or she’d climb up on the couch pillows dive bomb onto Maggie’s back. When they slept, Munch’s body language imitated Maggie’s. I really think Maggie taught Munch how to behave.
She was, as was Maggie, the Best Dog Ever. We were privileged to love her for ten years, and our beloved Maggie for twelve. We lost Maggie to cancer two years before Munch passed away a dozen days into 2011.
Munch’s was the hardest passing to bear, maybe because we’re that much older. And so, the first time in 45 years, we don’t have a dog in the house.
In truth, I’m a little scared. What will he think? What if he hates us? How will we know? And, after all, we still have memories and pictures – and a cat.
I really don’t want to wonder if Munch was happy — I think she was — I loved her to pieces, walked her, fed her, spoiled her rotten, made up songs about her, played with her — but a year after that lovely lunch in Litchfield, that Billy Collins poem continues to haunt me. I never liked you …
And still I wonder …
Did she hate me?
Do you have a pet? Would you? Wonder, I mean …]
How powerful words are.
How about you? Any pet stories to tell? Any poems that resonated on that level? Meantime, I’d seriously advise you to occasionally look deep into your pet’s eyes and try to divine what she or he is really thinking.
(You can read The Revenant on-line.)
Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the USAToday best-selling author of 25 historical and contemporary romances and a dozen novellas. She’s currently working on an erotic contemporary romance. She misses her Munchkin terribly.
Hey, all! Suze here. Today I’m thrilled to have mystery author Lucy Burdette visting us. Her new series is the Key West Food Critic Mysteries, and Book 2, Death in Four Courses, just released. I’ve read it, and I love it! Take it away, Lucy.
You write wonderful cozy mysteries, Lucy. How would you define a cozy, and why do you think people love them so much?
Thanks so much for those kind words. Cozies are traditional mysteries that avoid graphic description of violence and sex. They often take place in a small town and introduce the reader into the protagonist’s world, including a group of friends and family.
The real world is such a scary place these days! I think readers like the idea of the good guys winning and the bad guys getting what they deserve, as always happens with a cozy mystery. And they like strong women who use their smarts to solve puzzles and problems. And food–food and cooking are very big right now and I’m delighted to be part of that trend!
Your latest book is DEATH IN FOUR COURSES, book 2 in the Key West Food Critic Mysteries. Tell us a bit about it.
Food critic Hayley Snow has the biggest assignment of her short career–covering the food writers who are attending the Key West Loves Literature conference. Unfortunately her assignment gets complicated when she finds the keynote speaker floating in a dipping pool at the opening night reception. And to top that off, she’s made the mistake of inviting her mother down for the weekend, which adds another layer of pressure. This is the second book in the Key West food critic series, after AN APPETITE FOR MURDER.
How do you go about developing a new series? What kind of research is involved? (Sign me up for some of that Key West on-location research, will you?) Does the sleuth or the setting come first?
Usually character comes first. When thinking about Hayley, I wanted to develop a protagonist who was a little lost, a newcomer to Key West, yearning to make a mark as a foodie writer. Some reviewers find her a little naive and dizzy–I think that gives her plenty of room to grow over the course of the series… With DEATH IN FOUR COURSES, I was delighted to learn that the REAL Key West Literary Seminar was focusing on food writing just as I was planning the book. So research involved attending the sessions, eating great meals, and tooling around Key West to come up with plot tangents and setting. I must admit that I’m astonishingly lucky to be able to combine my passions for food, writing, and Key West!
Do you have any pets?
Always! Right now my faithful writing companions are Yoda the cat, and Tonka the Australian shepherd. They stick with me through every word and adventure.
When you set out to write a mystery, do you know whodunnit and why at the outset? Or does that only become clear to you once your cast of characters is complete?
I like to try to start knowing whodunnit, but also who else might have done it. It helps me write the book to give several characters important secrets that they might kill to keep from revealing. Often about halfway through the book, I’ll stop and write the ending. This gives me something to point to during the development of that murky middle.
Who are your literary inspirations, and why?
I read all kinds of books as a kid, including Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, Cherry Ames, and the Bobbsey twins mysteries. I still love to read mysteries such as Diane Mott Davidson’s culinary series, Julia Spencer-Fleming’s wonderful series featuring an Episcopalian priest and a small town police chief. I’m also reading lots of food memoirs like Frank Bruni’s BORN ROUND and Kim Severson’s SPOON FED. And women’s fiction too, especially if there’s food in it:)
Suze here, with some big news for Scribe fans. Guess what? There’s a new Scribe in town, and we could not be more thrilled to have her join us. (Never fear! Viv will be rejoining us from time to time). Our newest Scribe is . . . drumroll, please! . . . Thea Devine! Please give Thea a big welcome.
Greetings, everyone, happy new year, and welcome to my first blog at the 7 Scribes. I’m so happy to be here, and I’m so appreciative of your kind comments and responses to my interview. (Click here if you missed it.) I do beg your pardon for not commenting that day — we had a death in the family, our beautiful, communicative, joyful and much adored mini-doxie passed away that Thursday. She was twelve and a half years old, originally my mother-in-law’s dog whom we took in when she was a two year old yappy, snappy, untrained puppy. She grew to be the The Best Dog ever over the ten years we were privileged to love her.
She is by no means the first pet we’ve lost. Five years ago, our elegant calico, Emily Bronte Cat passed away (yes, there was a Charlotte, an orange tabby fraternal twin). As we said good bye to her, I promised to memorialize her by putting her in a book. Which I did. Emily was a major character in “Satisfaction,” (Kensington Brava, 2004) and “Satisfaction” was the book about which a friend called me and said, “Your writing is different. Was it deliberate?”
I had no idea what I had done to make my writing “different.” I’d gone back and now again and looked at writing from my high school and college days, and I could see there were vestiges of how I write now, in the rhythm and juxtaposition of the words especially.
And it became clear to me (this is in response to Casey’s comment) that the more you write, the more you figure things out — like you don’t need twenty descriptive sentences to go from here to there when two will do, or there is one word that could take the place of four or five. Or there’s a more direct way to get to the crux of a scene.
Back when I started, we were writing 125,000 word manuscripts. There was lots of room for description, different points of view and subplots. It was also a daunting amount of white paper (this was pre-computer) –and eventually blank screen to fill. Books were denser then, rife with details, spilling over with emotion and multiple plots.
But now we’re writing for a speed read generation. Time is of the essence, even in romance, and we need to get from here to there in the most direct way. (Then again, the response to “Downton Abbey” kind of disproves that.)
My writing is different in some ways. I used to love to luxuriate in the imperfect tense — a lot of “was”s and “were”s — and I adored conjunctions — “and”s, and” but”s — until I realized that the line editor was cutting them right and left because it made the story sound more immediate. And more direct.
Lesson learned. So I’m trying to be more economical with my words while still maintaining my voice and the essence of the way I write. I ask myself if there’s a better way to phrase things, another way to get at what I want to say. My goal is to make sure the line editor has no work to do when s/he gets my manuscript (hardly ever happens).
It does make things more challenging.
My advice always is to keep writing and don’t let external things deflect you. It’s a solitary business and you have to learn to love your work, to trust yourself, and to retain your power over your fictional worlds and words.
By the way, everyone loved “Satisfaction” and Emily the cat. I’ve reread it because I still don’t know what I did in it that was so different. But (oh those “but”s) I keep trying to figure it out.
What do you think? Has your writing changed? Have you found that by writing more you learn more? Have you used a beloved pet in a story?
Thea Devine is the author whose books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the author of a dozen novellas and twenty-five historical and contemporary romances, the latest of which is The Darkest Heart (Gallery, June 2011). She’s currently working on a sequel.