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Things to ponder

Several articles caught my eye recently.  Some are only tangentially related to writing and publishing, but all have a bearing on it to a greater or lesser extent.  Here goes with a roundup.  The title of each article is a link to the original.

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We Have BadCats

There are cats, good cats (usually when they’re asleep), bad cats, and the worst of the lot, badcats. Bad cats rampage around the house and make a horrible mess. Badcats knock the mouse off the desk and managed to completely reset half your computer while playing with it, then trot off to waltz their water bowl around the kitchen splashing half of it all over the floor.

Then they try to eat your headphone cable, sit on the laptop and turn it off in the process, and give you a hurt look when you growl at them because you were in the middle of work on the laptop when it got switched off. I will never buy a laptop with a power switch that can be operated by a cat standing on it.

Sadly, I don’t have that choice with the work machine. If I’m working from home, I have to defend the power button from kitty paws landing on it and activating it. There is a very good reason I disabled the power button on my home system’s keyboard.

So, yes, the boys are adjusting rather well to our household, and enjoying being part of it. It’s not like they’re short of actual purpose bought kitty toys either. They still see anything on a desk as a kitty toy. And they will happily kill the computer mouse. And the cell phone. And…

The Dread Kitty Westley got the unwanted cuddle treatment three times today, to stop him destroying my desk. He at least holds still long enough for a cuddle, even if he tends to prefer to rampage. Midnight still flees at speed if there’s any hint of being picked up, so he’s a bit less damaging – he’s generally happier to find a spot to curl up and sleep, most of the time. Not, I might add, that this is a huge difference when they’re chasing each other around the house and manage to knock something over.

They are indeed BadCats. Possibly even DamnCats.

And of course, they both have the instinctive (it’s got to be) ability to do cute when it looks like they’re going to be growled at for their misdeeds. The Dread Kitty Westley has taken to standing on his hind legs to reach up and wrap the front legs around my arm when he wants to be petted. This is of course unbearably cute and inevitably has me reaching down to pet him and give him whatever snuggles he demands.

Midnight prefers to approach on a level surface. He likes to stand in front of me on the desk and reach for me whenever I stop petting him. At least until it looks like I might possibly be thinking of maybe picking him up. Then there’s a flash of black fluff and no sign of the cat. He is not a pick up and be cuddled cat.

Meanwhile Her Highness Princess Buttercup is playing more and still queen of the household (and don’t you forget it) but she’s more rambunctious as well, and trying to steal food whenever there’s anything that smells interesting around. Oh, and jumping up to be cuddled whenever she feels the need. Because Mommy’s arms should never be doing anything except cuddling the kitty.


Being Funny

Some people are naturally funny. I’m not, but I want to add just a touch of humor to my books, to make them sparkle. And witty characters are more fun to read than dull ones. What is a poor, dull author to do?

Read books on the subject, of course. Read more

Pour Epater Les Bourgeois

Last year around this time, for reasons of applying to teach a workshop — so, you know, not because I’m a masochist — I had to look through the net to find my reviews.

The results were mixed — on finding them, not on them being bad — including reviews I KNOW I had for stuff like Darkship Thieves.  So, I ended up trolling for reviews for every one of my books, including the fairly obscure, in fairly obscure blog.

This means, I ended up on this blog from someone who absolutely hated, despised and wanted my musketeer vampire book — Sword and Blood — to die in a fire. And not just because it was a vampire book, which one of my fans more or less drives me nuts with, by telling me that “Vampires are no, no, no.” Read more

An author to learn from

I’ve been working hard at the fine art of making myself itchy (putting ‘earthwool’ or glass-fibre insulation in the wall cavities of our home.) so I thought it had been a long day and it was time I decamped…

Well, de Camp. Lyon Sprague de Camp, 1907-2000, author of many fantasy, sf and non-fiction works. I happened to mention him to a young author I like and respect, who said he had read almost no de Camp… and I thought, sadly there are probably a lot of sf/fantasy readers and indeed writers who have never encountered de Camp’s work. That’s rather sad, not because he was the best author that ever wrote, but because there is quite a lot of value to gleaned from his work. Like Clifford Simak, the ideas are terrific – but sometimes you wish the story execution was better.
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The Disorganized Muse


I’ll be out of reach when this goes live, so I’ll ask my fellow Mad Geniuses to add helpful suggestions and answer questions.
In an orderly Universe the ideas for stories in a series would come sequentially, in proper order.

Unfortunately, Chaos rules this Universe, and is concentrated in my subconscious, where my Muse usually resides.

So, how does one deal with a minimum of three ideas (a new one pops up every time I get to a scene I don’t want to write, but really need to) at once? Well, since hitting your desk with your head has never worked (for me, give it a try if you want) I generally try to force some degree of order to the tangle of my imagination. Read more

Of Departing Kansas

Not literally, since I’ve never entered Kansas in the first place, but the way Dorothy Gale does early in The Wizard of OZ, when she emerges from her somewhat battered house to find herself in the middle of a strange city.

What brought this to mind is seeing the headlines about the bushfires in Australia – and remembering one of the nasty fire seasons I’ve lived through. I never faced anything like the worst of the fires, but I do know how bad they can get, and I did watch flames playing around bush near where we lived (and more to the point,  watching them and hoping like hell the flames didn’t get close enough to the big gas tank to cause… issues).

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