The Tale of Two Tails

Last Monday I sat down to edit my book, no really I swear! I even did the “Creating Your Premise- Writing Exercise” out of The Anatomy of Story (which was going to be the topic of this post). After my writing exercise I made myself a cup of tea and started reading. It wasn’t as bad as I feared. It needs rewrites, but I could see where I was trying to go on my first pass. I am making notes, I am editing…

I reach Page 5 and I hear my husband call out for me to come downstairs. I asked him why and he just calls out to come downstairs. I practically threw my pen at the notebook with the interruption ,but I knew my husband would not disturb me without a reason.

As I walked down the stairs I saw in his hands a  young gray cat.

He said, “It came into the house.”

I replied, “How?” Imagining a split window screen or that it snuck into our garage one day.

“It just came in,” he explained. Apparently he had seen the cat out on the patio, it was 30 degrees out, so being the cat-person that he is, he opened the door to see if it was alright. To his surprise the cat did not run off and instead walked over to him when he said “kitty”. It took a look around the kitchen from the back door and walked in.

It was cold, we didn’t want to put him back out. We needed to form a plan to get him back to his owners. We all went upstairs to my office and locked ourselves in after locking our boys into our bedroom, where they were already enjoyed their sunbeam-drenched, early afternoon naps.

Honey and I marveled at the friendliness of the cat. We tried to formulate a plan to find the owners, while this little gray kitty looked around. In all of our days as cat owners we had never experienced a cat encounter like this. We wondered if he had been abandoned and wondered if this was our new kitty. Lately I have half-joked about upping up my “crazy-cat lady” game. I texted my neighbor (who was out of town) if she knew the cat, she did not. I watched out the window to see if anyone was looking for him, but the streets were empty. It was cold out.IMG_2124.jpg

Honey realized the little guy might be thirsty so he went downstairs to get a bowl of water. He came a few minutes later with a bowl of water and …IMG_2129

This little guy was in our back yard and when my husband opened the backdoor he did not get one full “kitty” in before the cat came running to him and into the house.

*insert joke about how my husband brings all the cats to the yard, here*

I was sending my friend and neighbor Meryl pics of the gray cat when the Orange cat came in. Honey quickly said I think they might know each other and went to go get another bowl of water. I could not stop laughing at the ridiculousness of having two cats just walk into our house within ten minutes of each other, seriously I had the giggles. But that ended as soon as the gray cat saw the orange one. He got mad and hissy. I yelled out to Honey “they do not know each other!” as I sat on the floor between the two.

Honey could not hear me through the closed door.

He came back to one hissy cat, one baiting the other by exploring the room, and a wife struck again by  a case of the giggles trying to explain that we just let to random cats into our house and into my office.

Eventually Honey put the orange tabby in the guest bathroom with his own food and water, while the gray one stayed in my office and stuck his paw into my now cold cup of tea.

Once everyone was secure in their own room. I went downstairs and walked around the neighborhood listening for someone calling for an animal. I went a few doors down to a woman I know, she had seen the orange cat in her yard before. I was starting to wonder if the orange one was indeed a stray.

For the next few hours I went from room to room of cats, making sure everyone had food and water-disinfecting myself each time as to not get anyone sick. I bit the bullet and joined a neighborhood group, to post the found cats. As the sun started to go down and I did not hear anything from the post I wondered if the cats were going to be spending the night. I went to the store and got some more kitty litter and some disposable aluminum trays for little mini-cat boxes.

I moved the Orange Tabby into the guest room and watched a Netflix show with him. I had spent some time with the gray one as I wrote up the “Found” posting. I’ll admit, I was starting to think of names for him.

I think I captured the moment very well, when at 8 pm I realized we might now have four cats.

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Four cats, traveling would be more difficult-we just got the hang of it with outr two boys. But if they needed a home, they had a home.

Eventually the owners claimed them later that night, the cats did know each other but apparently it is a lopsided relationship. I won’t get into that part here.

Anyway, all that to say my planned first day of editing was interrupted by two kitties that needed us. The funny thing is I realized halfway through the day, I wrote this.

I wrote that this happened to one of my characters in the sequel to my Witchy Book. A character finds two cats (a gray one and a black one) on a winter morning. In the story the cats are plot devices, along with just being cute and funny.

I stopped writing the sequel in November 2016, but I wrote the part about the cats. I abandoned it for various reasons, one being that the first book has not been edited for publication, so there is a possibility of the sequel becoming obsolete.

I’ve had hesitations with my Rock & Heartbreak book, about jumping back into that world. Wondering if I belong there. I find it weird that my own plot devices from another story literally stopped me from working on it.

Has anyone had anything like that happen to them? Or am I just reading too much into an already unusual day?

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A Fitting Procrastination

A belated Happy New Year to Everyone!

Last October I finished writing the first draft of a Women’s Fiction novel which I affectionally refer to as the Rock & Heartbreak book. It was my plan to put the book away for a month and then dive into it in December.

For November I thought I would go back and do few edits on my last book, the mystery novel about Witchy Women. After a few notes from agents who requested the full manuscript convinced me to restructure the beginning of the book (again). But November sped by, during which I enjoyed the company of my family on our first trip back to California since our move and then a full, extended table of friends on Thanksgiving. During these events people expressed interest in reading my Witchy book, to which I promised to send off to them before the New Year, once I completed my planned edits.

I don’t think I touched the Witchy book until a week into December.

I found myself wondering if it was worth it to dive in and edit again. Since editing it last year and querying I made some major changes after no one was requesting more pages. Listening to and reading different things about novel writing made me realize my beginning wasn’t where it should be. The things my beta readers had suggested echoed through my brain, some people enjoyed the first beginning with my character arriving to her new home but the action wasn’t there. So I chopped off the first 3,000 words and wrote a new beginning with a character another Beta Reader had expressed curiosity in. Then I moved up the introduction of what seems to be most people’s favorite character, Nina.

Once I made those changes I received six requests… which all led to eventual rejections. I listened and reviewed more feedback and decided to change Chapter Two, which gives the book a different tone. I then went through the rest of the book, making changes to reflect the events of Chapter Two. I was able to successfully get the edited version off to those friends who requested it by my deadline, but just barely. Whew!

But now my Rock & Heartbreak novel is tapping its fingers at me. I look at it sitting there on my desktop, waiting for its first read. It seems so daunting to start poking at a new book, considering a year and a half later I am still poking at the last one. How long will I be editing this one? The tone and characters are so different from the first I worry about the books bleeding together if I end up reediting the first.

I wonder how the Rock & Heartbreak story will change through edits. How will my beta-readers feel with these kinds of characters? I am trying different genres to see what I am good at, also my brain really likes to plot while I sleep and apparently it likes all genres.

When I began the Rock & Heartbreak book it was hard starting over again with a blank page after sorting through the 100k words of the last one. It felt like being plopped in a desert after making my way through the Amazon. But one day at time (okay maybe sometimes just once a week) the forest started surrounding me again. Now I have to get the machete and make my way through it.

This week I spontaneously opened up a puzzle I got for Christmas while I waited for the kettle to boil. Puzzles are a big time-sucker for me because I have a seriously hard time walking away from them unless they are complete. I had things I planned to do, but I found them loose their priority as I constructed the edges. Two day later I finished it.IMG_2088.jpg

It was very satisfying to put in the last few pieces and somewhat comforting to know they would all fit. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get that feeling when I write a book.

After I finished and admired the puzzle for about 30 seconds, I walked away from it with a less clouded perspective on the Rock & Heartbreak book. I am going read it and take a crazy amount of notes. Then I will pour myself a big cup of coffee and slash, rip, yank, and pull it apart until it fits.

Just Novel Today

I am only half striking today..the housewife part. The “novel” part as I like to call it, can’t strike unless I am sedated, which in that case is that really striking?

What I am trying to do today is listen to women artists.

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through their music, in the words they write, and in what they say aloudIMG_5018.JPG

I will write today. Hopefully I can finish the new beginning to the novel and work some more on its sequel. After that I plan to jump back into reading A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab and be inspired by some of the stories in In The Company of Women.

Today’s protest is a hard one to go full force into. Most women can’t protest all of the labors they do in a day. Where do you draw the line? Even if one is lucky enough to have a job where they can request a day off, if you have a family you are part of or care for there is not time off. One can go into with good intentions, but life happens. Women hold many titles in their life and give a lot of ourselves into the people and world around us, often without appreciation. Hopefully with this day that might become just a little more obvious to some people who think women want an excuse to take a day off from work. I can tell you from experience there is no such thing, the work not done today will still be waiting tomorrow on the desk, in the house, in the office, in the schools- it doesn’t go anywhere it just grows.

So with the inconveniences that might come up throughout the day with the women in your life taking their work or domestic duties off, please remember that women contribute all we can to this world that still denies us equal rights, pay, autonomy over our bodies, and representation.

Two For One Fooling

Originally Written on April 2nd, 2014. I meant to post it up last year, but forgot.

I am not a big April Fools’ person, most pranks seem mean spirited so I haven’t really participated much in the day, until this year.  A few weeks back we made the flight arrangements for my little sister Firefly to come see us, but instead of telling her the flight details right away I decided to wait until April 1st to send her a fake itinerary.  I originally planned to enter in something about having to ride a burro at one point, but thought I might be laying it on a little thick.  So here is what I sent her.

Dear Firefly,

So we got the arrangements made for your trip out here. =) You mentioned that you didn’t want us to spend too much money on your flight, so I looked into it and I think I found a pretty good deal!

Instead of flying into Our Airport I found it is much cheaper for you to fly into Nashville, and it’s even less expensive if you take a red-eye.  So you would be leaving SoCal at 10:55 pm on the 18th and arriving into Nashville around 4 am the next day.  There is a connection in Tucson at midnight and then one in Houston at 2 am, but you only have a 15 minute and 20 minute layover, so you’ll be back in the air before you know it. Hopefully all of your flights will be on time, at that hour I’m sure there won’t be too many delays (unless there is bad weather).

Now once you get to Nashville you can take a shuttle to the rental car agency and drive here, it is only around a 6 hour drive and you get to see the lovely state of Tennessee on your trip.  It really is gorgeous.  You’ll have to check when the rental car agencies open, it might be normal business hours.  Now I remember from my younger days that most places won’t rent a car to you if you are under 25.  If this is still the case, you can take a cab to the Greyhound station, it looks like it’s only 15 minutes from the airport. There is a bus that leaves at 11:20 am that can get you here by dinner time.  I know that’s a while to wait but you can check out Nashville and you could spot a Country star at breakfast.=)

I promise when you get into town we will take you to whatever your favorite restaurant is, so start thinking of your favorite place and we’ll make reservations.  If you can, try to choose a place near the bus station. That would be great, we don’t want to be driving around in rush hour traffic, you know how the drivers are around here.

Your flight home will be a little less complicated.  Your flight going home is at 6:20 am and then you only have one layover in Tulsa, unfortunately it’s for almost three hours, but then it is a direct shot to LAX.  Do you think Mom or Dad or maybe one of your friends will be willing to pick you up at 4 pm that Tuesday?  If not we’ll get you a ticket on the Greyhound, I think the station is right there at the airport.

Hope you are having an awesome week.  I love you!  We’re so looking forward to your visit.  =)

Love,

Big Sis

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. April Fools’!

 

Apparently my sister believed the whole thing until she saw the April Fools at the end.  Her only indication that it might be fake is that I wouldn’t have checked on the hours of the Rental Agency ahead of time. =) My tell was that I wasn’t my usual thorough self.  Anyway I got her good and because she was fooled, she decided to read the email to my Mom.  Apparently Mom believed it too.  She shot her the famous Death Ray Glare at Firefly and threatened to call me at a “Non-3 Hour Time Difference Appropriate Time”.  Little Sis was able to mutter “April Fools'” before Mom could dial, thankfully.

Next year I think I am going to have to watch my back.

The First Half of January

Much like our little Groundhog friend I am poking up to see what’s going on.  January was a busy and very fun month.  My sister Firefly came to town on New Year’s Day and we crammed as much fun as we could into the two weeks that she was here.  The following two weeks were spent (happily) recovering from the weeks before.

This was the first time she had been out here during Winter.  In previous trips she always came at the beginning of summer, but she wanted to see our version of Winter.  So instead of watching out for thunderstorms while in the pool or hiking through the green in Pisgah, we found the perfect combination of layers to keep her warm outside and not overheated indoors and visited as many places as we could that did not require wonderful weather.  Thankfully almost every trip we went on had gorgeous weather.

Honey, being the wonderful man that he is, pretty much drove us across the entire state of North Carolina.  The first weekend we went to Asheville for a day trip. The sky was blue and the air was freaking cold, but we had fun.  The stores and restaurants were very crowded while the streets looked almost bare (everyone was inside) with of course the exception of French Broad Chocolate that had a line thirty deep outside.

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We promised Firefly as much chocolate as she wanted at another location if we didn’t have to stand in that line.  Perhaps next time French Broad.

During the week we went to coffee shops and book stores and of course a trip here is not complete without a trip to the Goat Farm, where Firefly got to hold a baby goat.

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The next weekend we headed to the coast.  Kudra and Porter were sweet enough to let the three of us stay with them for the weekend.  We just lucked out an Honey got to attend the local Beer Club meeting with Porter, while Kudra, Firefly, and I had a Girl’s Night with the female members of Kudra’s family down at the beach.

Kudra, Firefly, and I somehow pulled out a win on Heads Up, after trailing behind for most of the game against Kudra’s Mom, Aunt, and Cousin. There were a lot laughs and a lot of dancing, and even a few worm dances.  Some truths came out when Kudra’s cousin insisted that her Mom would not be familiar with the movie 9 1/2 Weeks and made her Mom skip the question, when it turned out the adults had all seen it together when it came out.  Haha.

And while they all seem to want to rock into the early hours of the morning, I was all ready to crawl into a ball by two am. Firefly and I made the plan to watch the sunrise over the ocean, since we were a few blocks away from the Atlantic.  Thankfully this time of year the sunrise was past 7, but it took us a lot of willpower to get our butts out of bed.  As luck would have it, it was a very cloudy morning and we didn’t really see the sunrise, but it was really cool just to be there with my sis and share that moment.  There is a picture of us there, but it will not be seen by anyone besides us because it is completely obvious on both of our faces how much sleep we got.  She as able to get a few extra winks when we got back to the house, while I stood outside on the balcony and breathed in some sea air.  Firefly really liked it there, it had two things she loves in location it’s in North Carolina and it’s coastal.

We spent another two days there and were fabulously hosted around the city.  As it usually goes on the visits out there, the time went by too fast and we justified pushing our departure time as far back as we could.

And of course when we got back I realized how quickly her trip time was disappearing.  As she gets older the conversations get more simple, but more complex. The days of her thinking I am on the “gown-ups” team, is less of the hindrance when we talk to each other now.

Firefly’s only disappoint in the trip was that she didn’t get to see it snow.  Which is a rarity here anyway, but of course the weekend after she left we got a few flurries in the morning and then full on snow a week later.  Maybe she’ll see it next year if she choses to spend her Winter Vacation with us.  If she does I am promising now that I will wait in line at French Broad Chocolate, even if it means I have to wear a parka to do it.

Two Little Happy Stories

Today I figure most of you will be reading about the horrible things that happened almost a decade and a half ago.  Hopefully you will also read about the acts of heroism and humanity that followed what happened.  I have decided to write not about that day but rather about a couple little times where strangers went out of their way to be nice.

This is a story from my first birthday in our new city.  I pulled it for privacy, but I think it is an appropriate story to share now.

I was under strict instructions to have fun to day and enjoy myself, so I went to Dean & DeLuca to get a naughty coffee.  I was thrilled to see my favorite Barista was there and a to make matters better a divine smell filled the whole place.  I asked what it was and she said it was bacon, you think I would have known but really it smelled even better than bacon.  It wasn’t the fatty greasy bacon smell-it was just the good bacon smell.  At first I got a decadent Iced Mocha with whipped cream and decided to pass on breakfast.  As per usual it was wonderful, but as I sat drinking my dessert of a coffee, the bacon smell bewitched me to go up to the counter and order a breakfast sandwich.  The same Barista greeted me with a warm smile and took my order.  There was a gentlemen behind me in line that heard me tell her that the bacon smell had done it’s job and I wanted to order breakfast, he chimed in that he was trying to get out before he ordered a sandwich too.  I explained I don’t normally get the breakfast items there, but it was my birthday so I thought I would treat myself a little bit.

He exclaimed,”Happy Birthday!” and then looked at the Barista and said he was buying my breakfast.  I thanked him, but told him that wasn’t necessary.  He told me it was my own fault for mentioning it and said that was the end of it (with a smile of course).  I looked at the Barista for help but she just smiled at me too and took his card.  I thanked him again and sat down at my table.  I was seriously almost moved to tears.  The man who bought my breakfast came by before he left and we chatted for a few minutes about birthdays, what we did for a living, and our families.  He  kept himself at an angle that communicated he was not expecting to be asked to sit down.  Before he left I shook his hand thanked him again, he wished me a very happy birthday and left.

The Barista came by with my breakfast and said, “Sorry, I had to let him do it.”  I told her it was sweet and that people are so nice here.  She agreed and told me how just last week she had run out of gas on the way home and had to walk to a gas station.  She only had $5 on here so she couldn’t get the fancy reusable gas container but a man behind her in line heard this and bought it for her and added $20 to her gas tank.  He said the only condition was that she had to keep the container in her car and pass along the goodness when she could.  Can you imagine?

Before I left I asked the Barista her name and told her what I had been telling Honey for months, which was she was my favorite Barista ever (and I even lived with one for a time).  I told her that when I walk in and see her behind the counter it makes me so happy because I know I am going to get an incredible drink and wonderful service and I thanked her for it.   She told me I made her week.

I also called her manager later that day and told her the same thing, hopefully that will help make her month or maybe even help her get a raise-she deserves it!

 

Another time, during Firefly’s first visit out here; her, Honey, and I went out to dinner.   It was the dinner rush and parking was sparse, so Honey parked a few lots over in the shopping center from the restaurant. There was no sign of rain as we entered the restaurant, but like some Summer Southern storms do, one came out of nowhere… as we were walking out. We didn’t have jackets or umbrellas.  It was pouring, so much that it looked like it would never leave.

Honey, being the gentleman that he was, went off to get the car while Firefly and I waited under the valance.  After a few minutes, with the rain still beating down a car pulled up from the curb and a little old lady got out of the passenger side.  She had an umbrella over her head and the driver went off to find parking.

She looked at us, gave a little smile a slowly walked over to us, and asked”Do you have an umbrella in your car?”  I was confused by the question, but rep lie, “Yes, ironic right?”

She said,” You can use my umbrella to get to your car.”  Such kindness in one of the worse storms I had seen (at that point), seemed so alien back then.  I explained my husband was getting the car, but thanked her for the offer.  A few minutes later Honey’s car pulled up and we scrambled to get inside without getting as soaked as my husband looked at that moment.

He told me the strangest thing had happened.  As he was crossing the street a Jeep stopped next him, rolled down window, and a nice man offered to drive him to his car.  Honey decline he didn’t want to ruin this man’s upholstery because at that moment his car was only a few hundred feet away.    But he was also blown away at the kindness of someone who just wanted to help.

So there are two little stories of people being nice just to be nice.  Giving us, at the time, a feeling of welcome in our strange new land.

Netflix Shawl…Patent Pending

It’s getting to be that time again…it’s knitting season!  Reading Shawl

A few weeks ago I woke up with a new knitting idea in my head, but it was only August. My brain must have been jumping the gun, but when I looked out to our backyard I saw that the maple tree had been dusted with with red leaves overnight.  My brain must now associate early Fall with essentially tying a million little knots in a row.

Despite having made a personalized scarf for almost everyone I know there is always more things to knit.  This year I have started off with a “Reading Shawl” for my mom, which is pretty much just a big scarf. I made one last year for my Mother-in-Law and I hope at some point it will cool down long enough for her to use it. I could have called it a “Netflix Shawl”, but it just doesn’t have the same imagery… But in the case of both ladies, I think it will be used for both reading and the occasional late night flick.

I grew up near the coast and during the winter I was always cold, so I wrapped a large blanket around me as I walked around the house.  It was terribly awkward, but wonderfully warm. Hopefully the Reading Shawl will provide the extra warmth and improved accessibility to such tasks as making that second cup of tea or finding the wayward remote.

I usually start my projects in September, working my way to the holidays and then maybe one last project in the new year.  It’s incredible the difference a few weeks make. Right now I am knitting at angles that keep the finished product off me, because it is way too warm to have wool on my legs.  In the next few weeks my knitted rows per hour (KPH) will increase exponentially because I will be trying to cover myself with my work.  Such was the case with Honey’s Christmas gift last year, after I hit the two foot mark the rest seem to form in only a week.

Knitting is one of those things that provides a lot of relaxation for me, but still scratches that urge to  be consistently productive.

Over the long weekend we went over to the farm and while the guys were making beer I taught, Viv, how to knit.  Well at least I thought I was going to, turns out someone had taught her how to do it when she was kid.  I showed her how to cast on and make the the first stitch and then her brain rebooted all of the things she had been taught.

In my experience, just doing a square patch on the first day takes incredible concentration and usually includes one or two mistakes.  She knitted the whole half ball of yarn I had brought in one sitting! I left the knitting needles that she had learned on because I knew she would be putting them to good use. I was right, now she is totally addicted-apparently she has been staying up late the last few nights knitting. It is only a matter of time before all of the goats have a winter scarf and the dogs festive sweaters.

I told her if this keeps up we are going to have to a Knit-ervention!  Haha (slow clap).  Yeah, I watched How I Met Your Mother last week.  Sorry.

But getting her interested in it really inspired me. I think I have to up my game a little, learn some new patterns, maybe make some new items, use all of the knitting books Honey got me for Christmas.  But first I have to finish the project I already started.  I hear knitters are  for having many projects going at once and hoarding yarn for potential projects.  I am trying my best to fight that urge, but there’s so many pretty colors!