Yeah. Been out of touch. Got busy. It’s a good thing.
So a few weeks ago I lost my little best friend, TJ Cat. More on that later; he went quickly and peacefully.
I decided quickly to get a new cat as soon as practicable. Losing TJ left a big whole in my life. So much more or Squeak, who’d never been parted from him (except for possibly an overnight vet stay or two) since we adopted her … 17 years ago. And indeed, she’s been acting kind of depressed since.
So my friend Miguel Jaime has a girlfriend named Leesa Cabrera, who in turn had a new litter of kittens. Two weeks ago, when they were six weeks old, I took Squeak over to try introducing to the two candidates, a pair of little boys. Both of whom were powerfully cute.
But one in particular took a shine to me. Oddly, it wasn’t the one I initially got entranced with from the pictures Miguel sent me. But my concern – hope – was to find one drawn to me. And this one, whose placeholder name was Mr. Molly**, definitely was.
When he was presented to Squeak, she hissed at him, he hissed back, he tried approaching her, she bapped him on the head, he backed off but did not back down. Then Squeak decided screw this and ran off to sulk, and eventually sleep, behind Leesa’s hutch.
So, that went well.
Seriously. That’s pretty much how cats introduce themselves, usually. And as cranky as Squeak is – plus the additional stress of dragging her to a new place in the pet carrier – it was a good outcome.
Anyway, they told me he’d been ready to be picked up in two weeks. I sent a message to Miguel today. He quickly replied that the kittens were ready, and so we set it up.
(This was after I lost my damn cell phone – again – searched all over the Los Poblanos Open Space, didn’t find it, then came home to find via a Facebook message from my friend Aaron Birenboim that it had been found. By a dude at the Rio Grande Community Garden.At Los Poblanos Open Space. And I still don’t have the damned thing back.)
So I went and got him. We put him in the carrier, so his mom, Molly – Leesa called him Mr. Molly because he looks like her – could say goodbye. She’s tiny, by the way, sweet looking kitty. Anyway, she did.
Meanwhile, he started to complain. Which he did, of course, all the way home. I thought it was a good sign that he sounded only a little piteous, and a lot more pissed.
As I was unlocking the front door t struck me for the first time that nothing I had done, or likely could do, had remotely prepared him to meet Emma Dog. And so it proved.
I let them see each other with the kit still in the carrier. Emma was no problem. I never expected she would be. She likes cats. She likes baby things. So, cool.
Kitty sounded dubious. He hissed at Emma through the door, and growled at her. I brought him out. He freaked and thrashed around, hissing furiously, swiping at Emma, and naturally nailing me.
Then he calmed down enough. I cuddled him while she sniffed his butt. Which was mainly what she wanted.
He will take a while to adjust to Emma; I literally don’t think he’s ever seen anything like her. But I’m sure he will. He’s a plucky little shit.
I put him on the bed. Emma was still very interested. Fortunately, she was fine with going outside. Again, my concern was not to stress the newbie too much.
Squeak finally got a good luck at him – and, predictably, was not happy. She growled at him and tried to run away. I picked her up and she hissed me roundly for bringing a monster into her home. Of course.
He seems unfazed by her.
So, we are settling in. He’s perched above my left shoulder – in fact, just lay down – on the back of my American Tolkien recliner. Squeak came by earlier and sniffed my finger and let me stroke her muzzle while the Devil Spawn from Hell was on my lap. A couple minutes ago she strolled by and hissed at him; it seemed pretty perfunctory.
The big thing? I notice she wasn’t too stressed to eat most of her evening snack. Which I take for a definitely hopeful sign.
And I am tired as Hell and winding down Haven’t even had dinner. So I best wrap this up and get to that.
Update, 5/6/2013: There’s been some problem with the URL for this post. Let’s see if updating the page helps?
*Apologies for the messed-up format on the caption. Apparently WordPress has decided to improve their Insert Media processs again. And by “improve,” I mean “fuck up, and make it hard to figure out how to fix.”
**He will not stay named that. I’m probably just going to call him “Sparky” until I figure out what his real name is.
Hot off the presses, and George RR Martin His Ownself, bearer of the news, just sent the all-clear to announce it: GRRM just sold the Brazilian-Portuguese-language rights to the whole damn Wild Cards series to his Brazilian publisher, Grupo LeYa, for a nifty chunk of change.
This is big, kids. That’s a huge market right there, even if it speaks the Latin American language nobody ever thinks about. And The George’s books do, his words, “very, very well in Brazil.”
As well they ought, since according to his Chief Minion, Ty Franck, who is one-half of James S. A. Coreyand Mr. Jayné Franck (the lucky if undeniably charismatic dog), That American Tolkien Guy is a “literary god in the Iberian Peninsula.”
So – yay! The Wild Cards Global Victory Tour continues! Viva o Brasil!
All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up. (Click the image! Click it!)
Have I mentioned how cool I think it is that birds are now considered to be dinosaurs? Two of the things I loved most as a kid turn out to be the same thing! Más o menos. Certainly it’s easy enough to believe, given how huge the Sandhill cranes and even the Canada geese are.
So this afternoon it snowed here on Jupiter. And within a couple hours it was mostly gone. Ah, New Mexico!
You know what wasn’t gone? The cold, when I took Emma for a walk a bit later in our favorite spot down by the Rio Grande Nature Center.
Pretty much the first thing I noticed when we arrived was how the cranes have gotten almost as complacent as the geese about people (and dogs) on the other side of the fence at the south side of the Candelaria Farm nature preserve. These are part of a mixed mob that were grazing within a few feet of the wire on the far side. They paid little attention to me, even as I walked slowly forward, taking pictures as I went, to make sure I got some shots in case they spooked and moved away or flew off.
They didn’t. I got right up to the fence and even took the last couple shots resting the camera on top of the wire. To see ‘em all, bounce over to my set on Flickr.
Oddly, they did fly off toward the river when Emma and I started walking on toward the ditch where we like to promenade.
It’s gratifying to see some new commentators, along with those who’ve been here before. Since the final (fingers crossed!) rewrite on The Dinosaur Lords is finally in progress, it’s time to start getting the word out. So I’m glad to be getting more eyes here.
News flash: I survived Christmas. And actively enjoyed it. Hope you can say the same.
So a new notion just struck me this afternoon. As you know from reading my free sample chapters of The Dinosaur Lords online on this very site (and if you haven’t, now’s your chance!), that handsome fella up there is a Deinonychus antirrhopus. Or, as he’s better known on the world Paradise, a Horror.
Now, Deinonychus is a pack predator frequently encountered in the land of Nuevaropa, either as a wild menace or in domesticated hunting packs. Which can also be pretty menacing. To see an example of that very phenomenon in action, up close and way too personal, click here.
The idea that hit me this afternoon concerns the appearance of the beasts. If I recall correctly, in the book I give them longer head plumage, but not proper crests. What I’m talking about is the same sort of thing that cardinals and blue jays have – and even roadrunners, the birds on which I model my Horrors’ movement and general demeanor. Except where roadrunners tend to be haughty, Horrors tend to be surly and savage.
So what I’m doing is asking you, the reader: should I give my Horrors jaunty crests? Or just leave their heads plain?
And yes. This is a blatant, not to say shameless, play to fire up the blog again after two-long disuse. And yes, it’s also and equally shameless ploy to start stirring the embers on The Dinosaur Lords. Which is at last progressing, slowly but indeed surely.
As a writer I have a habit of giving stuff my own names. People, things, even restaurants. Or maybe that’s just an excuse.
Moving on – I tend to come up with specific terms for tools I frequently use in my writing. And I just came up with one that tickles me so much I thought I’d share with you, plus a whole lot more!
(And yes. I’ve been away* a while. Thanks for noticing.)
My shiny new term: Helper Monkey.
A Helper Monkey is a character whose main purpose in the story is to provide some useful service to Our Heroes (a term I trust is self-explanatory.) That service can range from key information to advice to help getting out of a desperate situation.
Keep reading for more of my writer’s idiolect. (I love that word.)
I tell you this now ’cause I caught myself about to do it today.
It’s a similar principle to it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. Which is also true. Often enough to be useful, anyway.
The key here is: in advance.
Learned this a long time ago. Whether it’s telling too much detail in a synopsis, or telegraphing too much in correspondence. Which was the ghastly gaffe I narrowly averted just now.
See, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, ferrets gotta … ferret, editors gotta edit. It’s like their job, y’know?
And it is not in the interest of you, the writer, to set that reflex going prematurely.
The problem is context. As in, if you send too much information ahead of the actual manuscript, the editor will not have it. And will therefore start coming up with reasons it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done.
Isn’t it better to just write it, and let them see how it works/flows/makes sense/advances the plot, whatever, in the actual manuscript?
And by “rough beast,” I naturally mean this entirely adorable Mayan Perry Rodent!
Impending Apocalypse never looked so cute!
I love that image! I wish it were on our official tee-shirt. I want it on everything.
Since I can’t find a credit, I can but attribute it to our Artist Guest of Honor, Ursula Vernon. It appears to be her style.
Perry’s been our mascot since roughly forever. He’s named after Perry Rhodan, hero of a 50 year old gonzo German space opera series that runs to like five million volumes.* He is always portrayed wearing a single shoe. No, I don’t know why.
We’ll also feature the usual suspects: Daniel Abraham, Mario Acevedo, Rose Beetem, Richard Berthold, David Boop, Stephen Boucher, Adam Jarmon Brown, Craig A. Butler, Aaron Campbell, Peri Charlifu, Doranna Durgin, Janice Gelb, Steven Gould, Sally Gwylan, Science Guest Loretta Hall, Warren Hammond, Betsy James, Darynda Jones, T. Jackson King, Susan Krinard, Andy Kuhn, Jane Lindskold, George RR Martin, John Jos. Miller, Laura J. Mixon, Pati Nagle, Charles and Tauni Orndorff, Scott Phillips, John Maddox Roberts, Joan Saberhagen, Tim Simpson, Melinda Snodgrass, Caroline Spector, Gabi Stevens, S.M. Stirling, David Lee Summers, Ian Tregillis, Robert Vardeman, Carrie Vaughn, Dennis Virzi, Walter Jon Williams and Connie Willis.
Plus the usual wonderful fans, including the usual Albuquerque Science Fiction Society suspects. Plus, as always, unannounced/unexpected delights in the form of attendees from far and wide!
And those are just the confirmed ones scraped off the website! Sorry, I’m not linking to their pages. I have an actual occupation (spoiler: writing!) that I’ve been falling behind on of late. Also I’m not nuts. Or at least a masochist. That much.
And speaking of me … yes, I’ll be there. Of course.
Keep reading to learn where and when you can see me.
The good news? I’m feeling better today, after having been sick yesterday.
The bad news? That’s relatively speaking. And entailed sleeping until a quarter past noon. Which nonetheless I badly needed to do. Plus – well, there are problems.
The cats aren’t eating, even their much-desired wet-food breakfast. Which may mean force-feeding in our future. Which … just, not-fun, okay? Neither of them likes it. And TJ can’t tolerate being scruffed, which means Towel Straitjacket City for us.