Books by Debi Ennis Binder

Fantasy worlds. Magical inhabitants. Timeless battles between Good and Evil.

About debiszoo

Although I live in beautiful New Mexico, which is an excellent place to live, I find the world at large to be a trying place in which to exist. Therefore, I work hard to remove my readers from this world and transport them to one where good overcomes evil, and evil is punished; good is either inherent or learned, and good is always rewarded; and love—for a human, a cat, or a dragon—always wins. I revel in, angst over and would enjoy living the worlds I build, although I would need to learn to wield a weapon and dress a deer. And finally, I wish only to ensure that my worlds of fantasy keep the worries of life from seeping into them. I cannot; however, say the same for evil mages and misled trolls. I retired from writing for the federal government, where I took federal laws and turned them into plans and procedures understandable by the human brain. I have one wonderful husband, two amazing kids, and five great cats. I also enjoy oil painting and crochet, probably in that order, on those infrequent occasions when I'm not writing.

How Do I Tell Thee?

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Recently, I purchased a book I’d been looking at for a while by an author who’s new to me. It starts out great, full of great world-building, characters, and action, then four pages in—bam. I’m jarred out of a promising new fantasy world by a significant grammatical error. A slap-you-right-out-of-the-book error. I start to get that awful feeling… Has he let me down (yes, I take it personally), or is this just a fluke? Should I go on? Look at how many books he has out. This has to be a one-off. I decide to give him another chance, settle back, and read on. Soon, I begin to notice a few more errors, here and there–a missing comma, oh, there it is. It doesn’t belong there. Then–another biggie! My bubble bursts! I know I’m not going to enjoy this book because I’m genuinely vexed. So, I start doing that terrible thing we obsessed readers can’t help but do—I look for mistakes, rather than enjoy the story. NOTE: Also, it’s because I’m an old-fashioned fusspot. I’m sorry, but I just can’t help it!

After a while (and a couple more small mistakes), I find a lulu—one phrase within a long sentence is repeated at the end. I figuratively toss the book to one side and go to the reviews. All concentrate on the story, quite a few 5 stars, with good supporting comments, leading me to believe they read the book. That surprises me a little bit—no one mentions the errors. Maybe that’s how we do things now… NO! I can’t— I refuse to believe that! However, this piques my curiosity. I ask about it in a few book-related chatrooms. I learn that people seldom chastise writers for errors in reviews, but one reason is mentioned that surprises me—they figure errors shouldn’t be there in the first place, so the writer doesn’t care. That’s harsh!

I’ve chatted with this guy a few times, and he’s a nice, upbeat person. I wonder–Does he have any idea about the errors? Or do people really care more about the story than a few errors here and there in today’s world? This wouldn’t be the first time I pondered over that incredulous possibility. A few years ago, I alpha read a book for someone I scarcely knew and found quite a few mistakes. When I told the writer she needed a better editor (and copy/pasted a few examples), I received that famous quote in reply— “Those don’t really matter,” she scoffed. “People care more about the story.” When stupid me offered to correct her errors for free, she declined, saying, “Most people just skim over them.” Well, I’m no skimmer, and that was the end of that!

I’m not an English major, but I really try hard to make sure I catch the biggies. I’d hate to have this happen to any of my readers! I’ve even started placing a page at the end of my books called, FOUND A TYPO? NOOOO…. It tells you what to do if you find one. I’ve never gotten anything… Gasp! Maybe only skimmers are reading my work. I’m disappointed!

I have a love affair with words. I love writing. I used to write plans and procedures for the government and loved it! Yes, people thought I was crazy. But if you’re going to be a writer, do your best. In fact, whatever your career choice, learn your job and always do it the best you can. If you don’t, then you don’t respect your craft!

Just to show you that I’m not above all this: I recently downloaded my third book, “Dragon’s Revenge” to look at how something looked on the Kindle page. Being idle, I began reading it. A few chapters later—Noooo! I found an error (surely you saw that coming)! Suddenly, I was on the other side of the page. I was the writer with mistakes! But I have only great reviews with content that shows they read the book! Gasp! What a quandary! Was I skimmed, or didn’t the readers care? Wow, talk about having the rug pulled out from under one! Still, no sympathy from this indie author. I pulled the book. I can’t stand it! I’m embarrassed! So now I have to fix them. A writer’s work is never done. Grumble. Guess I should have been a bit quicker at getting the “Found a Typo” link in this book!

OK, the lecture is finished. Glad I got it off my chest. This whole experience has been a revelation for me. Perhaps readers do skim over errors nowadays. Or perhaps, in the case of a good tale, it doesn’t matter very much. I admit I’ll read on if I see a little typo here and there if I’m loving the story. As an indie writer whose budget doesn’t allow for a professional editor, I believe a few minor mistakes should be excused. But I promise you writers out there who think significant errors don’t matter, you will be noticed and there’s an incredibly good chance your book won’t be finished or reviewed. And your book sales might also start to be skimmed. NOTE: That doesn’t look as clever as it sounded in my head. Oh well, you know what I mean.

Enjoy a Free Peek at “Summerbird Rises”

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The publication of Summerbird’s Quest, Book Two of An Act of Entreaty, looms on the horizon. In this epic fantasy, you’ll meet familiar characters, as well as new ones in new surroundings. Summerbird and her friends face terrifying experiences as they join Treaty in defending their world from a formidable evil being–a creature that has finally found the magic it seeks in the land and people of magical Emythor.

I promise you’ll enjoy it more if you read Book One first! Scroll down for a free preview, then purchase the book for only .99, where it will remain until Summerbird’s Quest is published when it returns to its usual price of $2.99.

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“Summerbird Rises” Sale

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Get “Summerbird Rises” for .99— Summerbird must transform her broken magic into the real thing if she’s to save a magical realm from devastation by a formidable creature desperately seeking magic. Her kind of magic.

What some of the reviews are saying!

A magical fantastic tale full of mystery, suspense, intrigue with a touch of Romance twinned in amongst the pages.

…a spritely adventure full of vivid characters and wonderfully imaginatively described settings. 

Coming of age and a destiny unveiled. Magical creatures, visions and foresight come to life in this epic fantasy that is well-crafted with pulling the story elements together.  

Summerbird is a terrible seer; why try to deny it? She has just enough magic to make living in Isterr–a realm where using magic is a death-inciting crime–hell. She has spent her life hiding her broken spellcraft; when a tiny griffin from magical Emythor visits her, she panics! His sad demeanor and intriguing story of needing her help fail to move her—but the mention of leaving Isterr behind for a life in Emythor captures her attention. As he leaves, the griffin’s parting words are an alluring promise to a young woman desperate to find her lost life—Would you like to learn your magic?

“Summerbird Rises” contains scenes of consensual sex and gory swords-and-magic battles. It is meant for audiences over 18.

Mouse in the House and other News

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It’s mouse season again. We have several cats… well, a couple more than several, so one would think the mice could smell or sense them throughout the house, but they don’t seem to learn. Take the night before last…

Our daughter came running through the house in the wee hours of the morning and awakened me (I’m nearest the door), as she ran into our bathroom. I’m too groggy to even wonder why—she has her own bathroom, plus another in between the two. But anyway, she says, “Wally has a mouse!” So she freed the poor beast, chased off her cat, and locked the mouse in our bathroom. Thank you, dear. To make it better, she traps the creature under a bowl in our bathtub. And she goes back to bed, leaving me staring at the ceiling wondering what to do. Because Wally, being a clever young cat, knows his legally gained mouse is in that bathroom. So he starts scratching on the door. And scratching. I wish I had that much stamina.

What happens to most people awakened in the middle of the night? Yes—mother nature calls. Now, how do I get into the bathroom while fighting off the nimble SuperMouser, Wally? It would have been more than fair to shout across the house to daughter, “Come get your cat!” But at that time of the morning, I didn’t think of that. I grab my slipper to fight off Wally, who though not the youngest cat in the house, is the smallest. The little guy is also the most timid, but he worked hard for that mouse! Note: all he’ll do is play with it, we have only one mouse-eater, Cookie. But Wally seemed emboldened. He earned that mouse! He backs off when I approach the door and doesn’t try to get in. I do my business, block the door with my foot, close it, and return to bed. Mouse is still in bathtub under bowl.

The next morning, daughter reports the details of the midnight marauder, Wally, plus how she trapped the poor, terrified, cowering mouse under the bowl. We both look to hubby/father to remove said mouse. As he wanders toward the back, he asks what kind of bowl it’s in. He’s still half-asleep too. “The only bowl in the bathtub,” I call back. “The one with the mouse under it.”

With the mouse let go outside (where it scurried away), life returns to normal—but what’s normal in a house full of cats?

We have two cats who hate each other. Fred is ours; Riker belongs to our daughter. From the first day she moved in with him, these two refused to breathe the same air. There have been scuffles, hissing, growling—all leading up to yesterday, when they had a momentous, and really loud, fight that lasted from one end of the house to the other, then outside to the catio. Riker, normally the timid kitty, handed Fred his fluffy white tail on a platter. Riker came running back in with a mouthful of white fur. It was awful. There was so much white fur in the living room it looked like we’d been shearing sheep in there. We’ll probably have to take both to the vets tomorrow to get them looked over, neither is acting normal (that word again), but I hope this is what it took for them to at least respect each other’s air!

I’m working steadily on “Summerbird’s Quest.” the sequel to “Summerbird Rises.” I’m beginning to realize it might be a bit too long. But isn’t that what Epic Fantasy is all about? Our intrepid travelers (the Quest part of the title) will meet a tragically cursed woman who turns into a savage monster to eat, a plant that also wants to eat them, an evil despot who doesn’t want to eat them, but definitely wants to kill them–wait, back up, I forgot about the troll, ditto—kill and eat. Plus the wolves, the giant birds… Thank goodness for the enchanted Riddle Tree—and Hanne Holten’s magnificent riddle—whereby he tries to trick them, cagey tree. Oh, and as they reach their destination, a river tries to drown them! That’s a lot of epics to describe! And I’m having too much fun to try to cut any scenes. They’re all important! We’ll see what my alpha readers have to say.

After SQ is finished, I’m leaving fantasy for a hand at science fiction/fantasy. And then, I’m going to finally finish and edit a time-travel romance set in now/then Louisiana and do a final edit on a completed mystery romance set in 19th century Virginia. I’m looking forward to branching out. If I can struggle through all that and not give in—I have a sequel started for the “An Act of Entreaty” books (where Summerbird isn’t the main character) and one started for the “Ring-Witches of Nesht” series, with Mayra, Wolfe, their kids, and young dragons who are growing up.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

There is Method to My Madness

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Someone on Quora asked me how I write a book, so I sat down and really thought about it. This is what I came up with. (They got a condensed version)

When an idea pops into my head—from a dream, something I heard or saw on TV, or heard in my (but more likely someone else’s) conversation—I write it down as quickly as possible, usually using a notepad app on my phone. Note: No matter what I’m doing, part of my brain is off in another world doing crazy things there. I just that notepad a lot!

Once I get to the computer, I open a blank Word document and write down everything I can think about regarding the new idea.

The first, most important thing is the story. Is there enough to my idea to find the basic who, what, where, why, and how that every story needs to be a “thing” that lets people envision it when they read. If I add people and a world, will the story take my characters through a specific time in their lives when something(s) happened to them, but they dealt with it, came through it, grew, became better or worse (became or already were the bad guy/good guy) and all the while, entertained people?

The next consideration is characters—not yet people with names and faces, but only what they are, and how and what they’ll contribute. What kind of magical folk, warriors, craftspeople, etc., does my story need (e.g., 1 f. seer, 1 m. griffin, 1 m. Elemental, 1 Magical Entity (no gender), several m. warrior/highborn Fey, 1 f. sprite = “Summerbird Rises”). Or is the story something different, requiring regular people? Or cats? Can I shape these characters into credible people who can take my idea and run with it? The development of characters is important to me, as they write most of my story.

Next is worldbuilding 101—basic stuff about the world and how it helps the idea and characters. Is it this world, alternate, alien, or something else? Medieval, modern, combination? What will the government be, the types of jobs, the currency, the power source, religion—but only if these things matter to the story. I don’t have a list because I’m only thinking about what impacts the concept at this stage. And all stories are different. Worldbuilding is critical to me. It’s also one of my favorite aspects of writing.

If I like my people and their world and think I’ve got something going, it’s time for a strategy meeting with myself. By the time my basic idea has transformed into a Project, I have a feel for it, knowing I can flesh out a 3D world, and populate it with various kinds of people who have an objective and a way to get to where they’re going, plus whatever little necessary subplots they deal with along with way.

Or it hasn’t— At some point, I’ve figured out things just aren’t going to gel. That actually happens; I have several ideas that fizzled in my Plots File. Some are chapters long, but they just didn’t go anywhere for me. Maybe another day. But we’re going on the assumption that this is a workable, decent idea. It deserves a basic plot to be developed, even if I’m a pantster. STOP! What the hell?

A moment to explain: Pantster—A person who writes by ‘the seat of her pants’ as opposed to a plotter, one who plans or outlines her writing. And that’s straight from the Urban Dictionary. And even though, by definition, I should be a plotter, I’m not. I just can’t get into it.

I don’t develop a plot from start to finish and use it. To me, it’s worth taking the time I need to do as I’m describing, and get everything saved in my Plots File. I have about 20 of them now, some with a lot of fleshing out, others with less than a page. It’s a wild and crazy process for me. I’m a slow writer, and my books are long, which is probably why I’m working on only the fourth right now. But thanks to my process, I also have three more that just need good editing and a wee bit of fleshing out. So much fun!

Once the complete first draft is written, I use Word Voice to read it back to me. Hearing mistakes is better for me than trying to read them. I know the document too well; my eyes often skim over typos and other errors. This is also an excellent time to catch things that can be foreshadowed and/or discussed later. I can ask and later answer questions (meaning I set up something to happen and resolve it later), find/add mysterious things that must be explained, remove what doesn’t belong, or put it where it works better. Also cut. Cut, cut, CUT! And I know I still don’t do enough. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch said it best—“Murder your darlings.” I find that very difficult.

I have a few people who alpha read for me, that is, read the book along with me as I edit. They’re great because things they’re patient, and find can affect the story as it goes and the outcome. It’s better to get those changes made as early as possible. Note #2: I can always use more readers, especially beta ones, who read when the manuscript is complete. Hint, hint.

After my alpha readers and I reach the end, I get to start over again. I read and make notes. I mostly jot down things that come up as plot points and make sure they’re dealt with. *Actual item on my list for “Summerbird’s Quest” which I’m working on now: Why did Orkey steal ribbon [from the Mart-hoor’s tent]. What’s a Mart-hoor? Make sure the hypen is removed. Yep, misspelled hyphen. See example (excuse my sloppy handwriting).

The checkmark means I went back and resolved the issue somewhere.

I have a process for creating names. Since I write epic fantasy, it’s not logical for my characters to be named Joe and Sally or live in Boringville. But I’ve tried to make them more easily pronounced due to snide remarks from some alpha readers (not necessarily you, who thinks she means me). I have a Word table where I list every character. It includes everything pertinent to them, from names to tattoos to what they like/hate to eat. I hate having to go back and look that stuff up!

Once I decide on people/place names, I google them. Why? you ask. One of my characters in a Work-in-Progress (WIP) was named Chyme. Such a gorgeous name, looks so nice. And it means—drumroll—the semi-fluid mass of partly digested food that is expelled by a person’s stomach (Wikipedia). That’s disgusting. It’s also the worst almost-error I’ve yet to make. Others haven’t been quite so bad—someone’s name or a place, but I always change them. And I always check. How couldn’t I after…Chyme? I mean, who knew?

I know I’ve probably missed some things in describing my process because they aren’t always the same. In another WIP, I took an event from American history and used that as a major event to build around. In yet another WIP, voodoo plays a part, it’s a time-travel piece, so I had to do a lot of research—stop the press!

I forgot about research! I mean, I can’t make up everything! In the WIP I mentioned with the lovely but disgusting name, I had to do a lot of research and finagling answers from friends and relatives about the engine propulsion unit I’d thought up—is it feasible, how will it work in these different situations—I think I drove them crazy! And in my “Dragon” books, water runs all their structural mechanics, so that took more research—I mean, it is my world, and I can run it as I please, but some part of me demands that it at least sound doable.

So, let’s get back to drawing things to a close. For me, writing a book is a life-consuming event; just ask my family. I like to share the process! I can’t not write; I have too much to share running around in my head. But I never forget I’m writing something to hopefully make someone else happy and enable them to escape reality within my story and characters. And my epic fantasies are long enough to keep them there for as long as they want to be!

And to that anonymous Quora person—thanks for asking!

An Odd Request

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Foster Kitten Update: We have a king size sleigh bed that sits so high off the floor, I need a step stool to get into bed. It’s kind of fun and romantic. Our two foster kittens, Winky and Bob, having been released from confinement in the bathroom, spent the last couple of nights out in the living room with the other kittens, wearing themselves out. Last night, though, Winky and Bob finally figured out where we go at night. After a few minutes of standing at the bottom of the bed and crying, they figured out that they too can use the stool, then scale my poor bedspread. Our bed has become the sight of the kitten grand prix, which starts on time every night at 1 am. It involves racing over feet, and attacking anything that moves. That means hubby and I quickly find the most comfortable position, then lay there like statues until the furballs get bored and go find other kittens to play with. Speaking of furballs…

Our two little fosters are now past two pounds, which means they can now be fixed. (Of course, we’re going to adopt both of them.)  Anyway, I called the shelter to set up the appointment and the tech was looking through their record and mentioned they were already at the correct weight, had setting up their altering appointment been discussed yet? I said no, and she made some pondering sounds, then said, “Oh, I see that on their last visit, one of the male’s testicle wasn’t descended. Then, the odd request. Would I mind checking to see if they were both there now? My daughter and I exchanged one of those glances which clearly said if there was going to be any checking going on, she wasn’t going to do it! She captured poor Bob and presented him to me with his little legs spread to me. I proceeded to gingerly feel around while Bob gave me scandalized looks. The tech comes on the phone and informs me I would be looking for TicTacs. Okaaaay… I think I found them! Bob is released and quickly starts to clean himself of my probing-fingers scent. OK, appointment is set up. I think this is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever done while fostering. So far.

STOP THE PRESSES! UPDATE!

Six kittens have now been fixed. In that time, either a miracle happened, or someone at our shelter needs a cheat sheet for sexing kittens. I should have known there’d be a problem when I was the one who had to give poor Bob his checkup. Yes–tragic as it is… When girl kittens come home, their tummies are shaved and they have a couple of stiches to keep an eye on. Boys have swollen–well, let’s just say, they sit down very carefully for a couple of days. So we brought our daughter’s four kittens back yesterday, three boys and one girl, everything was OK. We took our two in this morning and picked them up this afternoon. Winky enjoyed a meal, then jumped on me and ran by, and what do I see? Gasp! Swelling where there isn’t supposed to be swelling! Grab her up–no shaved tummy, so stitches! Winky is a boy! Her His paperwork says he’s a she. Daughter keeps laughing, while hubby says he doesn’t want a boy named Winky. Oh well, I’ll probably still call him a her. And he’s definitely staying Winky. But seriously, I’m the one who had to give Bob a physical to make sure he was ready to be snipped. You’d think they would have done the same for Winky!

The Co-worker and the Thing with the Leash

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I was going to title this “A Brief Moment About Someone I Used to Work With.” But where’s the fun in that? So I decided I’d be mysterious. This is a mostly true recollection of one of the many odd moments I had while working with a U.S. Federal Agency that I don’t want to name.

My co-worker’s name was Cindy (not her real name). She was a tall, thin, elegant young woman with a huge smile. We worked together for a year or so. Sometimes she worked directly with me, then went back to working with the team. Such was the life of me, a federal employee (a fed), and her, a contractor. She worked so hard, was so serious during work, I never could convince her contractors were the lifeblood of our organization. Or at least of me!

One day, another fed came from HQ to provide the team with some assistance. You know–“we’re from the government, we’re here to help.” Ours was a highly regulated and technical world and one of my jobs was to take all those laws, shake them up, and produce local plans and procedures directing how we’d implement federal and state requirements. Fun!

The guy from HQ was Joe (again, not his real name). He was a short, dumpy man whose clothes always looked slept in. His glasses were thick, smudged, and crooked. Yet, he was unerring polite and painfully kind. He just wanted to help. There was only one thing I found hard to overlook.

When I told Cindy about him and what he’d be doing. I’d worked with him before, so I told her a bit about him–he’s shy, a little awkward to work with at first. But he knows everything about anything related to our work. He was there to give advice and assistance regarding the writing some of us were doing.

I forgot to mention it. I suppose I’d gotten used to it…

This is how it all started– The day Joe arrived, close to the end of the day, he emailed a request for several documents to me. I passed that to Cindy, then sent an email to them both indicating she’d drop them by his office the following morning and meet him at the same time.

What I’d forgotten to mention to Cindy (or warn her, as the case may be) was Joe had one of the worst hairpieces, if not the worst, in existence. It was, and I am not exaggerating for the sake of the story, shaped exactly like a fat, golden brown rabbit, laying on top of his head with its ears, feet, and tail tucked under it–I mean, there was even the suggestion of a head there! No combing down to blend hair anywhere. Just a rodent, sitting there atop his head, with a few strands of his hair trailing down from its butt. This wonderfully intelligent, sweet man, unfortunately, wore a thing that was the target for double-and-triple-takes, long, unbelieving gapes, and not-quiet-enough remarks–and not only from the immature or young.

The rug was impossible to ignore. I saw the most dignified people see it for the first time and gape, their eyes wide, and their lips twitching until they seemed to catch themselves and look away. A lot of people were reduced to doing as I did–talking to his eyebrows. It simply baffled me–how did he not know how awful… how bizarre it looked?

It was late that morning when I looked up from my computer to find Cindy standing in my doorway. No smile, eyes round, she slipped into the chair by my desk and stared at me for a long moment. Just as I was about to ask her if I could help her (as if I didn’t know what this was about)–

“Did you see that thing on his head?” she whispered.

Deadpan delivery, voice worried. I couldn’t decide if she was serious, but experience told me she had to be–she didn’t joke around about anything. I sat there and said nothing, just gave her a bit of a nervous smile. Cindy simply didn’t make jokes at work–at least not to me, one of the feds. She was there to work, take her breaks, work, take her lunch, and go home. If it weren’t for what I’d heard from other people, I wouldn’t have known anything about her (What I did know wasn’t much. She had a small daughter, and she was terrified of cats). Our working relationship was good. Friendly, mutually respectful, even enjoyable. But No Fooling Around.

Just as quietly, she rose and left my office, going right, not left, which would have taken her past the office Joe was using. That worried me. Was she going to be able to work with him? Maybe she was afraid of it–she was afraid of cats. Maybe she should ask him was species the thing was–OK, stop. She’s a pro. She’ll get this worked out.

A couple of hours later, she’s in my office again. She looked pale, which was difficult for a woman of her glorious color. “I swear it made a noise. It whimpered. And I think it smells. Do you think he has a leash for it?”

Oh my stars, what am I supposed to say? A leash? I can feel my lips quivering now. I want to laugh. I mean, that’s really funny! Instead, I focus on her serious face. “Um…do you want to work in your office? I can bring stuff to you.”

She thought about it, then shook her head. I didn’t hear from her for the rest of the day.

She stopped by my office the next day around mid-morning. “He knows so much about (our profession),” Cindy said warmly. “He has a lot of great subjects for me to research. Did you know FEMA has tons of ready-written documents we can grab off their website and repurpose for our needs?”

I was glad to hear this happy news–FEMA and her contact with Joe. I even hoped she’d gotten over whatever she was going through regarding the toupee. I should have known better. We talked business for a while and looked over his research ideas. As she got up, she handed me a few papers and paused.

“I think I know why he walks with a limp,” she said matter-of-factly. “He puts a leash around it, runs the leash down his leg, and ties it there so it can’t get away.”

You know, people actually do snort coffee through their noses. It’s not pleasant, especially when you’re making funny, whiny little noises while you try not to laugh. That just had to be a joke. But I swear, her face is expressionless. Can someone else be feeding her these incredible lines? Cindy was the most tragic figure I’ve ever known–her baby’s daddy was killed. She was so brave! But not funny!

The next day, she comes running in. “I saw him petting it!”

Me (cringing) “Well, he does have a habit of running his hand over it, I guess to make sure it’s in place.”

Cindy: “No. No, he’s petting it”–eyes huge–” and it’s purring!”

I couldn’t help it. I broke down and laughed. Only not loud. Joe was just down the hall, and if I had a rug that looked that bad, every time I heard laughter, I’d know it was about me! She started laughing too. A tinkly laugh that made me so happy to hear it, I laughed more.

That was the last thing Cindy had to say about Joe’s hairpiece, at least to me. Perhaps as she got to know him better, she got accustomed to it. Sort of like me. I had wanted to give her the “look between his eyebrows to talk to him” advice, but I never felt comfortable bringing it up.

Joe spent ten days with us before returning to HQ. That rug was the subject of many whispered stares; I hoped he was none-the-wiser. But I slowly realized that somehow, knowing Joe changed Cindy. She was still an excellent worker, but suddenly, she had a sense of humor. She relaxed a lot. I don’t know, maybe she figured if someone as smart and nice as Joe could go through life with that thing on his head and be utterly clueless, may she should loosen up and not take life so seriously.

She found another job the following year, and I never saw her again. But I’m sure she made her new coworkers’ lives just as enjoyable as she did mine. I do sometimes wish I had asked her if she was trying to make me laugh. Perhaps she thought I was too serious too. She was a wonderful human, a dear person, and I often think of her. I still miss her.

Blogging–It’s Not for the Absent-Minded

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“OMG, how long since you blogged, Mom?” my daughter screeched at me today.

“I dunno,” I grumbled. “A month?”

“November! You haven’t blogged since November of last year.

She tends toward the dramatic. I mean, that was only…November, December, January… Ok, it’s been a while. But I’ve been busy with my Summerbird sequel, taking Covid tests (I’ve had six, thanks to clinics that require them before they’ll see you), avoiding Covid, getting vaccinations… Staying semi-healthy is exhausting. It also takes up a lot of time.

Soo… it snowed yesterday, last night, today…it’s snowing now. There are three coyotes in our backyard getting snowed on while they scrounge for food. We’re watching them on the security camera. Ho-hum. At least they’re having fun.

Since we moved to the mountains nothing much happens–no robberies, house invasions, murders, thefts. Hey, I can live with that! The coyotes are the most excitement we get here.

This! This is why I haven’t put out a new blog yet! Things are soon freaking boring right now. But I do have another story about half-done that I’ll finish as soon as I post this. It’s an old memory of an old friend named Candis who had a very odd outlook on life. I won’t mention in the blog about her that she has since passed on because I want only her sense of humor to stay with you after you read it. See ya!

Colonoscopies… The Older You Get, the More Fun They Are!

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As the year comes to an end, everyone seems to be jumping onto various health bandwagons, perhaps due not so much to health concerns as much as getting what they can before their new insurance deductibles start over. Now that makes sense! And now that my “procedure” is over, I can look back on it with fondness… You know, tell my tale, share my misery, share a chuckle— No, I don’t believe me either.

One lovely morning I get a letter in the mail. I don’t get many letters these days, especially from Gastroenterology. A chill goes down my spine because the time has finally come. It’s time for me to join the many humans across the globe—it’s time for a colonoscopy!

I open my letter and skim through it. Let’s see… I’m doing the “Nulytely/Golytely split dose prep.” I smile. That sounds so charming, like some sort of cotillion at a preparatory school. “Dear Southern Lady, please allow me this opportunity to invite your darling daughter to the Annual Golitely (I prefer that spelling) Split Dose Prep Party. Please, do let me know by the end of the week. Ta ta.”

I dutifully read my instructions. You’ll need to take the rest of the day off from work after your procedure. Okay, I’m retired. I write, so I work from home. No problem. Could I be looking at an excuse not to make dinner? Smile! You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure. Cool, my hubby would do that anyway; he’s such a sweetie.

Skim through the other instructions—three days prior, no food with seeds, no corn, no nuts. Sheesh, what are they going to be looking for up there? The day before, DO NOT EAT ANY SOLID FOODS! Okay, now we’re getting to the point. The day before the *procedure*! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner—clear liquids. No red, orange, or purple anything. Why would that matter–ewww. Never mind. I have to mix that weirdly named stuff and refrigerate it… okay, whatever. I’m off to get my supplies.

I go to the store/pharmacy and, while awaiting what the nurse called in for me, collect what I’ll need for the *procedure*. I purchase anti-gas pills, wondering if they really work. I should put one in some 7-Up and see what happens. Guess I’ll find out. Next, A&D Ointment. What’s that? Baby butt cream? I have a bidet; I shouldn’t need it, but I grab a small tube. You never know!

I muse over my list of liquids I can have. Not many… Funny, it specifically says nothing red, orange, or purple. I don’t recall eating that many foods in those colors. Funny though, how few foods one can find that aren’t red, purple, or orange! I get three cans of chicken broth, a jug of white cherry (??) Gatorade (everything else is in the forbidden colors), and some Jello. Two kinds—pink lemonade and lemon. Everything else—yeah, you know. Apple and grape juice to finish, and by now, my prescription is ready.

Imagine my surprise when I get to the counter, and they hand me a big white jug that looks like a 5-gallon container of antifreeze or something. The other customers are looking at me; I know they’re wondering what the hell that could be? I slink up to the front, trying to hide this massive jug that I’m starting to get a bad feeling about, and make the rest of my purchases.

Once I get to the car, I check out the jug. 4000ml. I whip out my calculator… OMG, they want me to drink 1.0 gallons of this stuff? I open it and sniff. Nothing. I get it home, fill it up, and stick it into the refrigerator. Now I wait.

The day before the *procedure* I can’t eat human food—only clear liquids NOT of a certain color. Everything red, purple, or orange suddenly looks delish. My hubby and daughter sit in their chairs in the living room, holding their food like squirrels, nibbling so I can’t see it. Hey, I can still smell that hamburger! You’re supposed to eat eggplant and tofu tonight! You promised!

I pout and drink my consommé… which is fancy bouillon cubes. And I eat pink Jello. Or yellow Jello. Actually, it’s pretty tasty. I love Jello. I think I ate three boxes in all. And wash it down with grape juice and apple juice. The Gatorade was a no-go.

The day before, at 6 p.m., after a day of not eating real human food, the process begins! I have to drink the liquid, one glass every 15 minutes, until I’ve finished half of it. 2 liters. One-half gallon. 2000ml. I pour out a glassful and take my first, big drink. Holy. Sweet. Crap. All I can see are the words—don’t throw it up! The taste is indescribable! OMG, now I understand why they call it bowel solution. They mean it tastes like— never mind. It’s so thick and salty and just… horrible! It still makes me shudder, just to remember it!

Remember when I was reading about the charmingly named gallon jug of powdered death and was told to fill it with water and refrigerate it. Somewhere in those instructions, some guy with a perverse sense of humor stated it “might taste better” if it was first refrigerated. What a joke!! It might turn into liquid gold if refrigerated. Or it might turn into a fully loaded brand new Jaguar—okay, okay. But really, refrigerating it can’t possibly help with how terrible this stuff tastes. You have to not only drink half a gallon, an 8-ounce glass at a time, every 15 minutes, but you have to keep it down! I tried to drink by holding my nose, not very effective, then hit upon using a straw, which I can hold past my taste buds. That works if I drink fast enough. And I think it being cold keeps me from gagging on it.

At 8 p.m., I take the anti-gas pills, then two more at 10 p.m. I’m tired, but did I actually think I was going to get to sleep? Ha, ha, I laugh at my naiveté. As the evening passes, the waiting game begins. First, my stomach starts gurgling and making a fuss. The same lively awakening then happens a bit lower down. And it was more than a fuss! Thank goodness for my bidet. As the evening… and the night… progress, the ointment and I get to know each other quite well. It’s a nice little ointment, just what an adult sore bottom needs.  

On the day of the *procedure* from hell—” I must cut in at this point for those who’ve done this before. I had no idea the fun was just beginning. Okay, back to the report. I had to drink the rest of the delightful concoction six hours before the event. Oh, and still keep it down. I can keep drinking liquids up to four hours before, but by now, I’ve figured out whatever I put in my mouth goes to my stomach, and it doesn’t stay there very long before putting in an explosive appearance at the other end. Like—just passing through on my way out your newly installed back-end cannon, ma’am. See you shortly!

I’m so tired of sitting on the toilet. Of leaning against the wall, sooo sleepy, but knowing there isn’t any point in going to bed. I’m not taking any chances, believe me. I don’t trust my legs to get me to the bathroom fast enough if I’m half-asleep.

As I write this, I recall reading the following droll statements from the instructions:

  • You will have diarrhea from the bowel preparation medications. Gasp! No! No fair; I was expecting a bit of diarrhea, not Armageddon of the Ass.
  • Because of the diarrhea, you will need access to a toilet. Plan your day with this in mind. Really? So that bit about my neighbor’s flower bed shouldn’t have happened—that was just an accident, you know. No, the instructions should have said, “plan your existence with this in mind,” because you can’t get more than a few feet from a toilet. We have two fairly close together in our house, and I made sure I was always somewhere between the two.
  • Most people have bloating and abdominal discomfort. This is normal, don’t feel alarmed. I’m not alarmed. I’m exhausted, cranky as hell, my butt hurts, and only later do I realize—this was just the beginning!
  • And again, with the, “we know you might throw the bowel solution up. Slow down but drink it!” I didn’t throw up, but I feel deprived, as though I might have been happier and somehow vindicated by doing so.

Later, you also learn that they might reschedule you if you aren’t “cleaned out” completely. OMG, what could possibly still be up– Maybe an octopus? Because it would have to be something with suckers the size of dinner plates to hang on after what my intestines just went through!

We get to the hospital. The whole time, I still feel like I’m going to explode, but I know there couldn’t be anything inside me. I haven’t even had water. I’m also having an endoscopy, which is another camera down the throat to look at the stomach. All I need are a couple of tubes up my nose and in my ears, and I won’t have a free orifice open anywhere. I am really grumpy! A lady in the waiting room keeps whining on her phone about how thirsty she is. She wants the person on the other end to sneak in something for her to drink. Really? I want to yell at her— After all you just went through, you’re going to screw it up? I only threw that in as proof of how crabby I am. Normally I ignore other people in waiting rooms. They don’t want to be there any more than I want to.

Despite my previous comments, there isn’t much to say about the procedures themselves because of that wonderful thing called twilight sleep. Such a beautiful name, so lovely, so calming… I hear harps play every time I hear the words. My anesthesiologist was a saint. Ray, I believe, was his name. We held hands and got to know one another through the power of my grip, which is surprisingly strong. Ask Ray. I can’t be put into twilight sleep (*harps*) because of a breathing problem, so it was a bit uncomfortable at times. For me, too. My friends and hubby who have gotten the complete treatment—all they can say is bring it on!

In closing, everything was fine with me. I have to do this more often than most people do. Getting this important but dreadful (to me) procedure is my legacy, left to me by my father, the first one in the family to have, and ultimately pass from, colon cancer. And I’ll stay on top of it, no matter how brutal I think the prep is.

Thanks to all the Gastroenterology people out there—you’re the best!

When Did my Email Change?

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NOTE: All of these have happened to me. They’re just presented in a whimsical light. But underlying that is the truth–the tone of email has changed, and perhaps not for the better.

Has anyone else had this experience–you’re flipping through your email and you see some weird offering for Cat Insurance or How to Make Wine in the Closet for $4.99 a Bottle–just something that somehow ended up on your email radar. So you scroll to the bottom, past the dire cat-health pictures, or the drunk people living it up in your closet. You’re seeking the Unsubscribe link.

OK, you find the magic Unsubscribe button and hit it. One of several things that happened to me lately have caught my attention.

  1. You get to Unsubscribe. Yay, and you’re off to the next weird email.
  2. An insidious red warning pops up saying if you go to this website your computer will blow up. Or something. Whatever it is, it will be so dreadful my computer makes me sign some kind of waiver just to get into it. So I back out–quickly–and now I’m stuck getting daily messages about how crappy my current car insurance is and how much better Joe Blow’s is. I feel like I’m in some room where if I stick my nose out, my head will get blown off.
  3. Further down, you click on a very annoying email explaining how drinking some magic potion will not only make you lose 3 pounds overnight, but you won’t even be up peeing every 15 minutes, and all that fat will TURN INTO MUSCLE! Wow. Let’s get rid of that one. In order to do so, I have to type my email address into the Unsubscribe box. Wait, I just got an email from your company sent to my email address and you need it again? Something hinky about that one. The old Fast-as-Lightning Net Loans site is the same way. Who knows where my address is going? I have to think about that one.
  4. I deal with several book deals and recipes, then find my cursor hovering over an email that says Hormonal Weight Loss. What does that even mean? Click Unsubscribe and get this one: Never email me again. You will never be able to sign up to receive communications from this sender in the future. You may, however, still receive transactional messages from this sender. Now what does that mean? Isn’t that exactly what I’m trying to get rid of?? Screw it, I go for it.
  5. Another weight loss add. I think someone is trying to tell me something. Do the click–We can’t take you to this site. The connection won’t go through, or something. Why not, you got to my email without any problem, why can’t you return the favor? I try a few more times, just to see what will happen. Finally I get to a huge Dog-and-Pony Show-type ad where I’ll probably not ever find an Unsubscribe link. I know they’re counting on that. So here I go. Five minutes later, and I still can’t find it. Forget it.
  6. This is an oldie–I’ve been getting emails from a certain clothing/household goods company for quite a while. Months. I go to unsubscribe, and they instead invite me to subscribe to their list. Excuse me… I’m not subscribed to you? #*&@%! Then why are you flooding my email with your stupid ads? Do I have to subscribe, then unsuscribe to get you to stop?! I refuse to do it. It’s the principle of the thing. It’s too ridiculous.
  7. And my final for today–yes, there’s the old favorite: Error occurred while updating preferences. Thank you, high-end perfume company.

I’ve included some screenshots, just so you can share my joy. After all, they’re sharing everything with me, whether or not I want it. At least you’re reading this because I’m vaguely entertaining and I don’t want to sell you anything–except my books. I think you’ll love them. The emails? I don’t know what to do about them! Just Unsubscribe when I can, delete all other times.

Yes–Error occurred while updating preferences.
I think I’m being threatened!
Don’t you already have my email? I’m not going to give it to you again!
This one is also scary! I don’t know what to do! I’ve seen it a few times now.
Why? Just why?
Wow. More threats. What would happen if I clicked through? Would Norton blow up my computer? But thanks for guarding me, Norton. This also happens more than I’m comfortable with.

Looking for Mr. Covid-Test

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I want to start the recollection of this fiasco by stating that my hubby, Steven, is an angel. Or a saint. Or something like that. A few weeks ago, I got sick. That illness where you want to stay in bed and cry. But you have to get up and be with your family, otherwise there won’t be anyone to feel sorry for you. So, I’m in the living room in my jammies, with my towel for when I’m sweating and my blanket when I’m shivering, and moans for when I’m doing both. Let me state unequivocally that I don’t do sick very well. I’m not a pretty patient. Steven kept telling me to go to the doctor, which I’m too sick to do, and I probably couldn’t get one anytime soon, anyway. All right, all right, I called. I got an appointment for a televideo call the next day. Those things are the greatest invention ever, especially when you’re sick. I tried to convince my primary care physician’s (PCP’s) assistant (PA) that I had a sinus infection, but he wasn’t buying it. The longer I talked to him, the worse it got, till he put it all together–chills, fever, coughing, too tired and achy to even move–and bless his heart, he decided I had Covid. I’ve had two vaccinations, but he wanted me tested ASAP, and said I could go to any pharmacy and get one. Thus began our adventure.

First of all, you cannot walk into any pharmacy and get a Covid test. At least not one that Steven could find. So, he called the Dept of Health (DOH) and they made me an appointment with a well-known pharmacy downtown, and off we went. When we got there, the guy looked at Steven like he had lobsters coming out of his ears. Appointment? Made by DOH? We don’t do those. And you aren’t on our list for an appointment. Well, we’re here. Can you just do it? More lobsters, a huffy no, and we leave.

It’s now about 1 p.m. We call the hospital organization my PCP works from, which I’ll call Hospital, and ask what to do. Do they do tests? It’ll take too long to get a regular appointment, but you can go to one of our Urgent Care facilities and get one there. We pull up Google Map, find the nearest one, and off we go. My heart sinks when we get there–the parking lot is packed! Steven runs inside to find out how long it might take. Just as he gets to the desk an elderly lady steps in front of him and says she’s been here since 8 a.m. and still hasn’t been seen, has anyone any idea how much longer it will be? That’s not promising. He comes back out to tell me. We just sit in the car in the AC for a few moments and contemplate going home. But I promised the PA I’d get a test.

We know there’s a Testing Center, because this happens to be the third test I’ll be taking. But no one seems to know how to contact them. I had no idea at the time that you could make an appointment online. We decide maybe we should drive over there instead of the other Urgent Care. Steven calls another Hospital number to ask if there are any places other than Urgent Care doing testing. Cue harps– the miracle happens. The number he calls is the appointment maker for the Testing Center! Steven is already driving toward another Urgent Care on the other side of town, just in case I can’t get into the Testing Center.

I sound like a dying frog as I explain to the appointment lady all about my pathetic circumstances, my promise to the PA, and the Urgent Center woes, till finally, probably to get me to shut up, she makes an appointment for me. For today! And for Steven, too, since you know, I’m probably contagious. The appointment is for 4 p.m. That’s two hours away. We live in the mountains. We can’t go home; we’d just have to turn around and come back. I’m still hot, cold, shivering, sweating. I really want to go home and crawl back into my chair with my towel and my blanket so my hubby and my daughter can feel sorry for me. But I’m determined to get this over with.

We decide to head over there early, about 90 minutes early to be exact. But the place has no customers, so they take me immediately. Yay! We drive through all the rigamarole, I get my test from an RN who looks like she’s testing me for Ebola or the Black Plague. I haven’t had one dressed out like this before, I think she’s actually in Anti-C (contamination) gear. Wow. I must have gotten some special, “has symptoms” code or something, and got put into the special line, because the RN doing Steven on the other side of the car is wearing normal, disposable coveralls, gloves, mask, etc. I guess it’s for my RN’s protection, since we are in the same car. Oh, and this time, she shoved that QTip up my nose so far it made my eyes tear. She’s the same RN I had last time I got a test, but she wiggled it around too, like she was hunting for something. Steven just got the regular “up the nose a little bit” test, while I was worried mine was going to lose that swab up there. Finally, I get to go home! Then I waited. It only took a day and a half to learn I didn’t have Covid. I was still feeling crappy, but it started to diminish. I did finally convince the PA I also had a sinus infection, so he gave me some low-dose antibiotics, which means that as I write this, the infection is gradually returning. I have awful sinuses!

I’m happy I didn’t have Covid and feel truly terrible for people who do. As, a couple of days ago, when I ended my annual physical with getting my flu and pneumonia vaccines, I regaled my PCP with this tale, and we could laugh. Cause that’s what you have to do when faced with scary things. I look at her fondly, because I really like her as both a person and as my doc. She’s pregnant, working, caring about her patients while all this is going on, and I also worry a little bit about her. I wish all this would be over, but it won’t if we don’t do what we can to protect ourselves.

So–get your vaccinations, wear your mask, and stay out of crowds. Love all of you!

Goodbye, Elliot

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Dear Elliot, our oldest kitty, had been getting weaker, finally to the point where he couldn’t eat any longer, could barely walk, and had trouble breathing. We had to find out if there was anything to be done for him. There wasn’t. We’ve just returned from having his suffering put to an end. He was a sweet boy, born in our living room 18 years ago. Of course, it’s very sad, but he was so old and went downhill so far in the last few days. It’s a difficult decision to make, a guilt-ridden one, even while knowing he’s suffering. Ignoring a sick, suffering pet is far worse.

Elliot was the cat who let Steven know it was time to eat by standing on the end table and staring at him until he got up to feed him. No matter if there was food in their dishes, when it was time to eat, it was time to stare. When he was only a couple of months old, he dove under my chair just as I sat down, and there was a horrible screech. The daughter and I rushed the whimpering baby to the vets, where he was pronounced ok and adorable. Seriously, the vet brought purring Elliot back to us and said he had nothing broken, maybe just pinched, and he was the cutest kitten he’d ever seen. I don’t remember how much that cost, but it was a lot for a professional to proclaim the obvious. Elliot was an adorable kitten. He also got into a lot of trouble.

We brought him home and set the carrier with him in the living room for the other cats to say goodbye. Non-pet owners may scoff at this, but we’ve lived with cats for all our long-married lives. We speak from experience. Except for the two newbies, if the others don’t get to say goodbye, they’ll soon start looking for him and crying. The reactions of the other cats were sad yet intriguing. They recognized Elliot. Winky is six months old. He batted at Elliot as if asking why he wouldn’t come and play. Bob is Winky’s littermate, and he is clearly wigged out. He keeps approaching the carrier like he’s terrified, crouching, and licking his lip. After getting close to him several times he finally left. So far, the other cats have come by and sniffed him. Only PeeWee, his longtime friend and now the oldest, stands by, just staring at the carrier. He and Elliot were always friends, with PeeWee giving Elliot a bath at least once a day. He’d cry the most, as he did when Moggy, Elliot’s brother, died. They know!

And we have our memories, while he suffers no more. We’ll miss you, Elliot!

Summerbird Rises… Again

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Book One of An Act of Entreaty

Summerbird Rises is my favorite book. No, that’s an understatement. I LOVE this book of mine–the characters, the tale, their struggles, and even the way telling the tale took me into a sequel. And of course, there’s a reason why. I came up with the name “Summerbird” when I was 11. During that summer, I created the world where she lived, and started writing, in longhand, her story. During the following years, through my father going to Viet Nam, me spending 8th grade at three different schools, separated from my siblings, my parent’s divorce, and then my father’s remarriage to a terrible bully of a harridan when I was 13, life went on. I wrote and wrote. It was my world, my escape mechanism, and kept me from acting out, I believe. Of course, at 11, I couldn’t create what adults would want to read, but it still surprises me how much of my original world remains in what became the book.

For those who haven’t read the book, Summerbird Asii is 24 when her tale begins. She’s attractive, petite, with long, blond hair and big green eyes, and fiercely hides her intelligence. She’s grumpy, even bitter, about her lot in life, because she’s in an unfortunate position–she’s trapped in a mundane (nonmagical) realm called Isterr, where she lives in a small cottage with her little black cat, and scarcely makes a living as a seer. She’s aware, and resentful of the fact, that she was born in another realm, magical Emythor, where the Fey live, and has no idea why she was left in Isterr by her grandfather. She does occasionally see the truth in her crystal ball but can’t reveal it, or she could face some draconian punishment. Magic is so prohibited, one can be imprisoned just because a neighbor thinks they heard you doing magic, as Summerbird discovers. And be executed if the Elders decide she is magical. So, when a tiny griffin visits her, she panics. What’s she supposed to do with a griffin in her home? And it gets no better when the griffin reveals that he wants to take her back to Emythor, where she must perform a task for him. Free several highborn lords who were trapped in Isterr by an evil sorcerer. Before she throws him out–what have the magical Fey ever done for her??–she thinks it over. She tells the griffin she’ll do it, but only if the Fey let her and her cat live in Emythor.

Miffin Griffin is happy she isn’t laughing about his name and outraged that she has a demand before she’ll perform the rescue for him. Miffin is also grumpy and gruff, but that’s him naturally, all the time. One also should pick up quickly that he’s lying to Summerbird, though about what, exactly, he doesn’t reveal right away. The griffin is a consistent character throughout the book; he’s not at all what he seems to be, as are several of those she encounters.

But Summerbird also meets Treaty. Treaty, one will eventually figure out (I hope) is an alien that came to the planet quite a while back and learned there were two native there–the humankind and the Elementals. Within the humankind those with magic, whom Treaty names the Fey, and those who without, who don’t get their own designation, and who hate the Fey. Treaty obviously prefers the Fey, for they’re more like him. He unbelievably powerful, a golden, non-corporeal being who is kind, altruistic, and loves the humankind and the Elementals. All he wants is for everyone to be happy, for him to at last have found a home where he can help the natives improve themselves. But of course, nothing is ever that easy. The evil thing that threatens Treaty and the Fey has one objective–to consume all the magic he can get his nasty hands on and enslave the world. And she meets the Otter, who is one beautiful, mysterious hunk of a magical man. He might step in and out of her life so often it makes her crazy, but her magic knows her mate when it meets him. If only she could get him to stay put.

Basically, Summerbird Rises is a tale of a young woman learning what she’s capable of, gradually discovering who she can trust (hint–it’s not many), and that whatever she wants out of life, she’s going to have to fight for. And that’s another reason I love it. It’s so much like my own life–learning the hard way who to trust and not, figuring out what I wanted from life and going for it, and learning there are a lot of people in life who can get whatever they want with a minimum of effort, but I’m not one of them! And neither is Summerbird. She wants a man, yep, the Otter is going to be hers. Wants to fight the bad guy, no one is going to stop her. Wants to figure out why everyone is withholding information or outright lying to her–well, perhaps she should have left that one alone.

I’ve started the final edit of Summerbird’s Quest, which will not only answer many of her questions, but will set Summerbird on the path of her destiny. And it’s so much more than she could ever have thought it might be. Summerbird Rises is on sale for .99 at these online retailers:

An Odd Request

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Foster Kitten Update: We have a king size sleigh bed that sits so high off the floor, I need a step stool to get into bed. It’s kind of fun and romantic. Our two foster kittens, Winky and Bob, having been released from confinement in the bathroom, spent the last couple of nights out in the living room with the other kittens, wearing themselves out. Last night, though, Winky and Bob finally figured out where we go at night. After a few minutes of standing at the bottom of the bed and crying, they figured out that they too can use the stool, then scale my poor bedspread. Our bed has become the sight of the kitten grand prix, which starts on time every night at 1 am. It involves racing over feet, and attacking anything that moves. That means hubby and I quickly find the most comfortable position, then lay there like statues until the furballs get bored and go find other kittens to play with. Speaking of furballs…

Our two little fosters are now past two pounds, which means they can now be fixed. (Of course, we’re going to adopt both of them.)  Anyway, I called the shelter to set up the appointment and the tech was looking through their record and mentioned they were already at the correct weight, had setting up their altering appointment been discussed yet? I said no, and she made some pondering sounds, then said, “Oh, I see that on their last visit, one of the male’s testicle wasn’t descended. Then, the odd request. Would I mind checking to see if they were both there now? My daughter and I exchanged one of those glances which clearly said if there was going to be any checking going on, she wasn’t going to do it! She captured poor Bob and presented him to me with his little legs spread to me. I proceeded to gingerly feel around while Bob gave me scandalized looks. The tech comes on the phone and informs me I would be looking for TicTacs. Okaaaay… I think I found them! Bob is released and quickly starts to clean himself of my probing-fingers scent. OK, appointment is set up. I think this is probably the strangest thing I’ve ever done while fostering. So far.

STOP THE PRESSES! UPDATE!

Six kittens have now been fixed. In that time, either a miracle happened, or someone at our shelter needs a cheat sheet for sexing kittens. I should have known there’d be a problem when I was the one who had to give poor Bob his checkup. Yes–tragic as it is… When girl kittens come home, their tummies are shaved and they have a couple of stiches to keep an eye on. Boys have swollen–well, let’s just say, they sit down very carefully for a couple of days. So we brought our daughter’s four kittens back yesterday, three boys and one girl, everything was OK. We took our two in this morning and picked them up this afternoon. Winky enjoyed a meal, then jumped on me and ran by, and what do I see? Gasp! Swelling where there isn’t supposed to be swelling! Grab her up–no shaved tummy, so stitches! Winky is a boy! Her His paperwork says he’s a she. Daughter keeps laughing, while hubby says he doesn’t want a boy named Winky. Oh well, I’ll probably still call him a her. And he’s definitely staying Winky. But seriously, I’m the one who had to give Bob a physical to make sure he was ready to be snipped. You’d think they would have done the same for Winky!

This isn’t a Home… It’s a Madhouse!

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As many who know me are aware, I live with five cats. Two are elderly (18 & 14), the other three quite a bit younger (3, 3, & 5). So, all are adults. Recently, we began fostering two kittens, about five weeks old. At the same time, our daughter decided to foster a litter of four kittens, about six weeks old. This becomes important later!

As we expected, our homeowner cats (HOC) weren’t happy. There was a lot of growling and hissing from the HOC, and scared babies. We kept the kittens in our bathroom at night, and within sight during the day. Things were gradually settling down.

Two and a half weeks passed, and our daughter moved back in with us. I’m happy she’s here; I love having her at home. It reminds me of when she was younger and we’d talk together about everything under the sun. But remember her foster kittens? Plus the two adults she already had, who already weren’t happy about the additions. It’s a package deal!

So, now our house is filled with nocturnal creatures, five of which were already mad about being invaded by babies, and don’t like sharing their space with newcomers, plus two that don’t want to be here. Add to that, five kittens that just want to play, eat, and sleep and don’t understand what the big deal is. A home is a home, right? When one goes bouncing up to an adult to play, they quickly have their little world turned around. It’s cute, but sad to see them blinking in surprise, then hide, terrified. We quickly move them away and cuddle them.

Needless to say, the night comes to life around here. We still keep our two fosters in our bathroom at night, only now they’ve figured out they don’t want to be in there–all the action is happening on the other side of that door. I still struggle to keep them in when I get up in the middle of the night and stumble in to use the facilities, but my hubby has given up and goes to the powder room. Kiddo’s babies are sleeping in her room, as well. That leaves seven adult cats roaming at night, and suddenly a 2400sf house doesn’t have nearly as much room as it needs.

Around midnight last night, a terrifying scream disrupted our nice, sound sleep. One of the cats wasn’t happy about something. Anyone who lives with cats knows they can sound as though they’re possessed by demons. Hubby jumped up and went into the office, while kiddo, at the other end of the house was calling out, “What was that?” Of course, there wasn’t a cat was in sight. As he stumbled back to bed, he relented and used our bathroom, and accidentally released Winky, the female baby. As soon as I laid back down she started crying–baby cats are very loud. She changed her little mind–now she wanted back into the bathroom. I guess she figured there were too many huge, violent cats roaming the bedroom. So I got up and put her back with her brother. She was happy then. And the rest of the night was relatively calm.

I’m afraid it’s the calm before the storm. The growling and hissing are nonstop this morning. I think our HOC is trying to tell us to send the interlopers home, while our daughter’s cats are searching for home. With cats hissing at babies, babies scurrying under the furniture, HOC growling and hissing at interlopers and trying to stand their ground, as the title says, this place is crazy! I catch Fred, our cross-eyed cat looking at me as if to say, Mom, what gives? What did we do? Who knows how many cats he’s seeing now.

There’s plenty of food and water, and kiddo is keeping the boxes clean. Toys are everywhere, as our feet can tell you. If the cats would just figure out how to can get along, they’d have fun playing with the kittens, and with each other. Cats. You just can’t tell them a thing.

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Bob and Winky

Quora Question

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I love Quora and the peculiar, funny questions I find there. Recently, I was asked–If your cat could read, what kind of novels (crime, romance, fantasy, etc.) would he/she be into?

I actually gave it some thought and this was my reply:

Chiisei – anything having to do with bondage. She’s a 25lb Ragdoll who sits on the others so she can bathe them.

Fred – Dr. Seuss. He’s the youngest and not the sharpest, but he’s a sweet baby. He’s cross-eyed, so I’d have to read to him.

Elliot – He’s 19, the oldest. He’d like to read something racy to get the old heart going. He used to be quite the alpha cat, but he’s mellowed now.

Cookie – Field & Stream (she loves them little mousies)

PeiWei – He’s 16, the second oldest, and would like any children’s books that has a cat hero, to remind him of his glory days.

It was fun. I rarely answer whimsical questions. Most of my replies are about cat behavior and family issues, but since the books I write always have cats in them, and I assign human characteristics to those cats (talking, being friends and companions, and heroics), I thought I would see if I could do the same for my cats.

I’ve been asked why I write cats into my books, often with a major role. Why can’t the feline companion/friend simply be another human? Where, I replied, would be the fun in that? Think of this way–if your characters are acting as characters are wont to do, led or even driven by the personalities I assign to them, how do you, the reader, act when my protagonist’s human friend (let’s call her Chloe) propels the storyline forward by suddenly jumping on a table and grabbing another character’s hat in her teeth. Chloe yanks the hat off, thus revealing that he is, in fact, a she. Wouldn’t the element of surprise at discovering this talented and mysterious swordsman was, in fact, a woman, be lost on you because Chloe was a human, and she’d just done a spectacularly weird thing no human would do? I know things would happen differently were Chloe human, but that’s not the point. Who better than a cat to use a tense moment to reveal something so monumental?

So, the cats are staying, at least in my books! And while trying to avoid Fred, who is on my desk and stomping on my keyboard, thus forcing me to go back and make many corrections, I will end this, short as it is and get back to editing Summerbird’s Quest, which is book 2 in the series, “An Act of Entreaty.” Editing is painfully slow, not helped by Fred, who wants to play.

Fred, getting ready to jump onto my desk, ignoring me saying, no.

Warning–Major Griping Ahead

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I use a BiPap machine nightly. It’s a one-up of a CPAP, because my lovely, full-of-fairies-brain has stopped telling my lungs when to breath. So I stop a lot! The BiPAP takes care of that at night, and since I actually forget to do it during the day, I’m on oxygen 24/7. Anyway, I recently changed insurances, and the new insurance requires all new studies and scripts to continue with my breather-helpers, as I call my equipment. The company that provides this equipment sent me a letter saying I have 30 days to get all new approvals, as the insurance won’t pay. Oh, wait, they already aren’t paying. No one told me till now I need all this crap.

So, I call the equipment company, which I will henceforth refer to as EC. So clever… Anyway, I talk to this nice lady, she tells me I need to see the doctor face-to-face (?–I guess so he can see I can’t breathe), I ask if Doc and I could do a video call instead, and she says the words that make my blood run cold, “I’ll have to check on that, I’ll call you right back.” I reluctantly disconnect the call–I mean, I’d just gone through computer hell, pressing button after button to actually get to a real human. So, I go back to editing my manuscript. A few minutes later, the phone rings. I’m surprised–it’s her! Yes, a video call will work! Happily, I get off the phone, and then I think, how sad that I’m surprised she called back so quickly. But, I have another call to make–the doctor’s office to make a video appointment for everything I need.

As I begin the call, clouds roll over the house and the room darkens. In the distance, dogs howl. A cold wind dances across my back. What the hell– I complete the call, go through all the numbers to get to a person. get put on Everlasting Hold, then I get Her. I explain what’s going on, that I got a letter from EC that says new insurance requires new everything, including the fact that if I don’t do an in-house sleep study within 30 days of seeing the doctor, insurance won’t pay, blah, blah, blah. Will I be able to get an in-house study that quickly? It’s a trick question, people. Of course I can’t get it that quickly, I already know that.

Her: “You can’t make an appointment for a Sleep Study without a doctor’s order. You can’t get an Order until you see the doctor.” It’s just the way she says it, like I’m utterly stupidAnyway— Me: “I have to get in within 30 days after I see the doctor, or the insurance won’t pay. What happens if I can’t get a Study in time?” Her: “Wellll, I can’t really answer that. I mean, that’s a different part of the Sleep Center. But they have cancellations all the time.” Me: Ok. Last week, I made an appointment for Feb. 3 to see the doc face-to-face, knowing I’d need to do this. I want to change it to a video appointment.” Her: Ok, I can do that.” click-click-click “The soonest I have is Feb. 9.” Wonderful. Insurance won’t pay until then, and this equipment isn’t cheap. But, whatever. So, we go through all the back and forth, and then suddenly–

The black clouds roil. The coldness in my office engulfs me. She can’t hear me. Her: “Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you, so I’m not going to change your in-house appointment to a video one. You will need to call back to change your appointment.” Click.

My temper is rising. The dogs are laughing. Black clouds are now in my office. I stare at my phone. Is she going to call me back? She just verified my phone number twice! No, of course not. I call back to the office, go through all the numbers to get to the person, got put on Everlasting Hold. All over again. As I sit there, again staring at the phone, I have an epiphany! How could I have forgotten–I can do this through MyChart, a wonderful app that keeps me from having to deal with human beings, the main cause of my anxiety. So it takes me about two minutes to make a video appt–on Jan 26!!!–with my doc. I start to cancel the Feb. 3 appt I made, then decide not to. Who knows?

Whew–that was quite a morning and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I was nearly driven to tears by the entire situation, set off by that second phone call. It would have been so simple for her to call me back so we could continue on. But she didn’t. And what’s more, I knew she wouldn’t. She wasn’t that kind of any employee–helpful. She was condescending, not quite rude, and talked to me as if I was sitting here playing with my building blocks and coloring. Ok, I like to color, but that’s not the point. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, and I daresay most of us are like that.

Sigh. Brave New World, my ass.

Keyboards — They Have More Power Than You Realize

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Recently, I’ve gone through what I like to refer to as the Keyboard Wars. Several months ago, I realized I was squinting, hunched over my laptop like some sort of gnome. Matilda wasn’t a small laptop either, a 17″ HP, quite a nice one. Yet here I was, forced to at last admit this wasn’t working for me any longer.

So… I took myself onto Amazon, my shopping partner, to look for a desktop, monitor, keyboard and mouse. I knew already I couldn’t work with the shoebox with keys that comes with just about any computer, as I’d already been experiencing that with the laptop. First I went to HP, which has been my go-to computer for–well, since forever. I couldn’t find anything I liked, so eventually, I ended up at Dell. I found one that suited my needs and purchased it. The tower is so small, it’s so cute. And powerful!

Next the monitor. Since I was going blind with the 17″ lappie, I went larger, and got what looks like a miniature movie theater screen on my desk. I then found a keyboard I fell in love with. The Logitech MK550 Wireless Wave Keyboard and Mouse Combo!

This keyboard was magical! It’s curved, the keys are a little more spread out that regular keyboards, I just loved it!! Unfortunately, MS Word did not. Nor did MS Word particularly care for the mouse. I went back and forth with Logitech. I uninstalled and reinstalled the software for the keyboard/mouse three times. It was crazy! At one point, I got twenty-three “e’s” in a row. The thing would just take off, typing multiple letters, skipping rows, then freezing up. And the mouse! It just sat there, doing nothing. They worked fine on everything else, just not Word. OK, believe it or not, I uninstalled Word and reinstalled it. Writers never uninstall Word! It’s like–like–I just can’t say how drastic that is. What if it doesn’t come back? But that’s how much I wanted this stupid keyboard to work.

Alas, it was not to be. I contacted Logitech again, they reminded me I had purchased a warranty, so they sent me a new set. Yes, as you’ve already guessed, it didn’t work either. At last, I had no choice but to go back to Amazon and with a heavy heart, find another keyboard. A writer without a keyboard is like a car without tires. Ain’t goin; nowhere. I bought another Logitech mouse–my old standby, the ball. And I got another keyboard, a curved one. NOTE: I have a congenital issue with my hands, instead of pointing upward, like most hands do, my point outward at a fairly significant angle. Curved keyboards feel better.

But this new keyboard isn’t quiet, the keys don’t feel like they’re riding on air (remember, tires?), it’s sort of clunky-feeling. I’ll never forget Henry, my beloved keyboard. But I managed to type this, so things are looking up. And as always, I love my rollerball mouse. It rocks.

“Dragon Rings” is on Sale!

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With an exciting new cover and new content, “Dragon Rings” in on sale now for .99! Get it now and save $2.

Something dark and terrible is striking in the night, bringing death and devastation to peaceable Nesht, then vanishing back into the surrounding mountains. Ring-Witches Mayra and Wolfe join uneasy forces to investigate. How can something so formidable and destructive obliterate villages, kill people, yet leave behind valuable gold and jewels? What do these savage invaders want? A large, powerful presence makes itself known, but it refuses to show itself. When Mayra probes, it brings her scorching, mind-rending pain, and then inconsolably apologizes for its actions! Mayra finds a huge, bloodstained talon, and she finally knows their foe—a dragon. So long unseen they are now a myth, why have they returned to Nesht? Mayra and Wolfe quickly learn that there are some things worth more than a life. Some causes that even mighty dragons will die for.

“Dragon Rings”is also available on B&N; Kobo; B&T; Tolino, and other online marketplaces, as an ebook, or paperback.

Purchase on Amazon

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“Dragon Rings” is on Sale!

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With an exciting new cover and new content, “Dragon Rings” in on sale now for .99! Get it now and save $2.

Something dark and terrible is striking in the night, bringing death and devastation to peaceable Nesht, then vanishing back into the surrounding mountains. Ring-Witches Mayra and Wolfe join uneasy forces to investigate. How can something so formidable and destructive obliterate villages, kill people, yet leave behind valuable gold and jewels? What do these savage invaders want? A large, powerful presence makes itself known, but it refuses to show itself. When Mayra probes, it brings her scorching, mind-rending pain, and then inconsolably apologizes for its actions! Mayra finds a huge, bloodstained talon, and she finally knows their foe—a dragon. So long unseen they are now a myth, why have they returned to Nesht? Mayra and Wolfe quickly learn that there are some things worth more than a life. Some causes that even mighty dragons will die for.

“Dragon Rings”is also available on B&N; Kobo; B&T; Tolino, and other online marketplaces, as an ebook, or paperback.

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If you liked “Dragon Rings” be sure to pick up the sequel, “Dragon’s Revenge” and find out what happens when our Ring-Witches set out to help the mighty Prime dragon, Gaulte, find his missing mate and younglings. When they learn that what was stolen from the dragons could destroy the dragons and humans alike, Mayra and Wolfe have to decide if their lives and those of their fellow Witch-Warriors are worth risking, just to save one small, damaged dragonling.

“Dragon’s Revenge’ is also available on B&N; Kobo; B&T; Tolino, and other online marketplaces, as an ebook, or paperback.

Am I Reliving the French Revolution?

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If you read my blog once in a while then you know I’m a writer. An author. I try to give a well-rounded, if somewhat… not gory. No, not gruesome… What’s the word– preternatural. Ooh, that works! I have a female, she’s strong and usually a little wild and crazy, and so is the male, and you know, something evil is attracted to whatever it is they have or they’re doing. They save the good, kill the evil, and everyone is happy. Sort of. I mean, at least our heroes are always happy. So there might be a castration here, a decapitation there-

Wait! That brings me today’s subject, children.

I was browsing through Kindle recently and noticed a line of paranormal books across the bottom. It looked as though someone had taken a guillotine and chopped off the heads of all these insanely hot male bodies. Huh. I looked over some more. Yeah, all these books had covers with males on them, but only their torsos. No heads. Very weird.

When I read one of those books, it’s like I’m having an encounter with the Headless Horseman. The author can describe the male protagonist till the cows come home. I want to see a picture. Of both, if there are two, and there usually are. I want to see his handsome/OK face and her beautiful/cute face. His scars, if he has any, or hers! His gorgeous eyes and full lips. Or whatever. And I really want to see her too. That’s why I don’t understand the sudden onslaught of torsos on books online. I assume they’re on paperbacks too, although I haven’t been in a library or a bookstore in quite a while. And if you order a print version, yep–Guillotine Was Here. Why??

When I work with my cover artist, I want everyone to know what my characters look like, as closely as she and I (me is NM, her in Brazil) can work it. All the way to the eye color and earrings, if there are any, his or hers. I want the reader to be able to look at the cover whenever they want and imagine who is doing what to whom. It helps bring the tale to life in my head. I can use up my imagination or other things that don’t necessarily need to have a picture drawn!

I’ve included the cover for my current Work-in-Progress. Now that is a couple. Two bodies, two heads. Thanks so much to my artist, Adriana Musetti Davila. She’s a treasure. Please, authors, include an entire person on your cover so I won’t have to put a pumpkin there.

When Quarantine Becomes a Way of Life – Mail Order!

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Who knew it would last this long? I think I’m supposed to say if not for my family, writing, and Amazon, I’d have gone mad long ago. But for me, at least, it hasn’t been that bad. I’m a homebody anyway, being forced to stay at home is like sending your child to her room when it looks like Best Buy in there. Tell me if you don’t know what that means.

What led me to share today is the weird things that have ended up in my home through Amazon. The latest thing was a little kit to give myself acrylic nails. I haven’t tried it yet, as my own nails are short and I’m afraid there’s nothing for the acrylic to grab onto. It’s hard to believe at my age I’m a biter! But I’ll give them a shot soon and report back—success or failure.

Another thing I bought with the greatest of hope is a skin for my keyboard. I have a Logitech Wave, which is a curved keyboard. I love my keyboard, but with cats climbing on it and the everyday dust that happens in the desert mountains, I needed to protect it. I swear I searched for a solid month before I found something promising. It wasn’t through Amazon, which made me leery (I’m indoctrinated), but I gave it a shot.

What arrived looked just like my Wave so I proceeded to put it on. Picture trying to put a plastic bag of air onto your keyboard. When I pushed down one side, it poofed up on the other. Finally, I got it settled down at bit. I turned in over, peeled off the covers for the double-sided tape, smoothed them down, and turned it back over. I think I got a gerbil stuck in there the way it moved up and down. I used a butter knife to push the boofy cover down alongside the keys, but as soon as I moved to the next row, the previous one shot back up. After a while at this, I was ready to send it back. This was ridiculous. I emailed their customer service explaining the issue and got a reply the next day: use a hairdryer on low on the cover. Believe it or not, that worked quite well!

Life went on. I’d actually gotten used to typing with a keyboard condom. It was a bit strange, and squishy, with a few more typos that usual, but my keyboard was protected! Until now, a couple of weeks later. The tape has come up, and the cover is creeping up from the bottom and loosening every thing. I’m going to get some more tape, I will not give up my protection now. I’m spoiled.

However… if anyone out there knows of a Wave keyboard cover that just lies on top of the keys like my old one on my old did, please let me know before I have to drag my hairdryer into my office again.

Newsletters

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There are several authors from whom I receive newsletters and for the most part, I enjoy these little slices into their lives. Some are clever, some folksy, some risque, most wisely dependant upon the types of books they write. I mean, what reader of clean mysteries wants to read about reverse-harems with aliens. Yes, those are things.

I have tried my hand at a newsletter. One of my favorite authors sends a little one out every day. I strive to manage my works-in-progress every day. How could I possibly send out to a bunch of readers a slice of my life? It’s too boring, for one thing, plus I’m just not that reliable. The way I figure it, when I retired from my “Official Job” a few years back, I dropped deadlines like a hot potato! I try to write consistently, but if I don’t, I’m not going to hear about it during the next meeting with Washington, D.C.

Which brings me to life with the Newsletter Clique. Most of the ones I receive are monthly and update me on how their writing is going, what they’re up to, what their publishing timeline looks like. That’s good; I like that info. It’s nice and short, and in the case of some, I’m looking forward to their next book. Others are a little more personal—how they’re surviving during the pandemic, how their cats are doing… and some just go way over the top. You knew I would get to them, didn’t you? Here is a a mishmash from a few I’ve received, with a little added zing from me!

The Newsletter from Heck: We’re managing this crisis with our heads high (hopefully masked). We’re helping out by feeding our elderly neighbors, and I think that’s tax deductible! But then our kids and their dogs had to move back in with us, so we might have to stop that. Our refrigerator broke down the other day, so I tore it apart and found that little piece that was wonky, I had to make a new one, but everything is OK now! Oh, and while I had the fridge spread out, my cat ate something that was dangling from the back. Vets closed, so I mixed up and salt and warm water, he drank it and threw it up. He’s feeling much better now (of course, I need stitches on my face, arms, and hands, but I’ll take care of that too). I might have put on a pound or two, haha! That’s what happens when you can’t get to the gym and exercise (what’s wrong with a few situps and jumping jacks at home?). Since I’m having to cook so much more at home, I absolutely had to have Amazon send me a few things to help me get by! I love the new Air Fryer Oven Cooker, and the Omelet Maker and Instant Pot, but you should see the Family Size Electric Breakfast Station I got! It’s blue! Let me close by thanking my kids for coming home to mom and dad when they were frightened and in danger of getting kicked out of their apartments because they couldn’t pay the rent. We understand you need to cut loose on the weekends–you’re kids! You need not work at a fast food place while trying to find a job that uses your basket-weaving degree; we understand! That’s what families are for!

Sigh. I can’t compete with those kinds of lives. My boring newsletter would run something like this–except with bullets cause, you know, I like bullets:

  • We live in the mountains now; it’s quiet (although we live between the freeway and the fire station, so it can get lively at times). We also live beside a transformer station. A section of it got hit by lightening and blew up a few months ago. It set our backyard on fire; the village mayor lives behind us, a little further up the mountain. He came running down and started putting it out before the FD we live so close to, got here. That’s was when we noticed—hey, our yard it on fire! Nice way to meet the local politicians. BTW, a transformer explosion is astonishingly loud. My nerves are finally settling back down.
  • We enjoy our “quiet” lives with our six cats. Three are elderly, they throw up frequently, tending to do so where we’ll be sure to see it. They’re thoughtful that way. Try stepping on that at dawn; a real waker-upper. They also have discovered there are mice in the garage, and their new hobby is herding them into the house. Mice go under the furniture, waiting for my foot to go by so they can attack. My daily exercise taken care of—win win!
  • Our adult kids have typical kid troubles; we help them as much as we can. We love them, and they want to live their own lives, but things are weird right now. It’s amazing how many things can go wrong with little things around the house when you can’t get someone to fix them right away. Both are learning to be repair people out of necessity. Not exciting, but making me proud!
  • Our refrigerator is OK, but not so the freezer section. Tossing out an entire freezer full of food isn’t quite so back in the mountains, where you can toss the meat out back and enjoy the sounds of the coyotes fighting over it at night. They tend to come back for seconds, but at least not during the day. Vinnie will be here in a half-hour to fix it. He wears a mask when he comes in! And we got new pans! They’re some weird color, but they were on sale.
  • Speaking of critters—hubby went around to the side of the house recently, and he and a bullsnake about five feet long met up. After hubby introduced himself from a distance (the snake wasn’t wearing a mask), the snake then proceeded to crawl up under the siding and back into the house. How about trying to sleep after that! And what a rotten mouser he is! How do I teach my cats not to go after a snake when they’ve never seen one? They aren’t the smartest…

I’ve written before about life here–A Room with a Scream and A Room with a View, in earlier blogs. Life with screaming chickens and what looks like a view from a scifi movie is interesting. But I can’t compete with those other people. We’re typical and boring. I’m cool with that.

And Life is Back to Normal

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Steven is adjusting to his pacemaker. Fred has come home. I can concentrate on my writing again! I’m working on a book that’s more sci-fi than my typical fantasy, although there are elements of fantasy too. The protagonist’s name is Whern. She’s an Indigene, a genetically pure native who is born with mysterious Abilities. She’s an Arbiter in the Corporation, the military-based entity that runs her planet. For many years the 9th Sector has been plagued by Hostiles, attacking and robbing spaceships like common pirates, and then destroying them. For reasons kept from her, Whern has never been allowed to go offworld. With the help of her conniving Commanding Officer, she finagles the assignment to find the Hostiles. But her CO feels she can’t handle it alone and has plans to sneak aboard her ship. She doesn’t need anyone’s help and she’s a lot more devious than he ever thought she could be. Devious is just what she has to be, because the Hostiles are so much more–and lead to something shocking, that Whern’s world isn’t ready to confront.


I’m having so much fun with this! I’m constantly quizzing Steven about military stuff, as well as Jerry Loeb and Bruce Berg. I originally wrote this almost twenty years ago and it sure is taking a lot of updating!

Hope — There’s No Keeping It Down

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My cat, Fred, had been missing for a few days now. He must have gotten out through the garage when we were getting rid of packing boxes. We moved here a few months ago, but were saving the boxes–oh, that just doesn’t matter.

He is MY boy, he sits on my lap. He’s soft, a flame-point mix with white fur and crossed blue eyes. He’s very timid. And he’s gone.

I keep telling myself we’ll find him, then I sink into depression and tell myself he’s gone, he’s too naive to make it out in the wild on his own. I convince myself to stop worrying and thinking, I’ve called around, I’ve put a notice on Next Door, and even on a national pet connection site. I called our old neighbors, in case he somehow makes his way back to our old house on the other side of town. It has been known to happen (that’s called HOPE).

As I’m doing other things, I go to the door and call him. He’s such a little scaredy-cat, so timid. Being cross-eyed, everything must look scary to him. After reconciling myself to the fact that he might be gone–hit by a car or taken by the coyotes or the huge dogs around here, I still keep catching myself watching out the windows to see a flash of white, and calling for him.

I suppose that’s what hope is. I can’t make it go away. Until I either have him back, or know that he is gone, I can’t make myself stop hoping he will return. Hope must be a gift, something to keep you from falling into a cauldron of self-despair while you’re waiting for the bad thing to go away. Like a virus or an illness or a condition.

My husband just got a pacemaker and it’s making him feel so much worse. I’ve gained 18 pounds in the last two months. How does a person even do that? But there’s that hope–I will try harder to get those pounds to shrink back down, and he will visit the cardiologist today to figure how why his new hardware is wonky.

And Fred will come home.

Furry Fred
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