Help! My Aging Cat Is Aging Me

Don’t get me wrong.  I do love my cat, Nalla.  She is as plump as the character, Georgette Heyer, in my Daisy books and is full of personality too.  It’s just the little embarrassing thing that happens to a lot of us as we “mature”–incontinence.

Nalla drinking from the kitchen sink

Her royal highness in her morning shower

Oh my goodness! I never knew that senior cats would have issues. I thought you show them the litter box, keep it relatively clean and presto! Happy cat, happy home.

Au contraire my friends. Although Nalla seems happy enough, with her shower in the kitchen sink each morning, her three meals a day (plus tooth-cleaning green snacks at night), and her game of “shred the mouse” on the string before bed, apparently all is not well with her queendom, our house.

It all started with the new, expensive, specially ordered living room furniture.  That was probably three years ago.  For some reason, Nalla decided that the new couches and chairs offended her sense of decor.  I guess she missed her lovely old, smell-like-the-kids- puked-on-it and dog-chewed old couch.  She peed on each and every new (and did I mention expensive) piece. Eew, eew and double eew.

I was quickly introduced to the world of Nature’s Miracle.  I don’t know how well that stuff works, but my daughter, who has her own cat now, swears by it. Spritz. Spritz.

Luckily, the furniture had a guarantee that sent a professional cleaner out to our house.  He  came. He saw. He spritzed. He left and the cat peed again.  She’s been wreaking havoc in my living room ever since.

Yes, I have taken her to the vet. No, there is nothing wrong with kidneys or urinary tract stuff. Yes, she has a calm atmosphere and I don’t yell (too much) when she has her “accidents.” And no, I have no idea how to teach a cat to practice kegel exercises.

Meanwhile, my sweet husband has come up with a strategy for dealing with this.  He pushes all the cushions up on the furniture so the cat cannot climb up.  Let’s just say Good Housekeeping Magazine won’t be taking pictures in my living room any time soon. Grrr!  Plus, the cat moved her pee-ing habit from the furniture to the relatively new wood floor.

Prophet looking for cat poo

“No worries, Mom. I got this one.”

Did I tell you, we replaced the carpeting because we got a dog?  A dog that sheds.  A cat with medium length fur who also sheds. Wood and expensive floor that has dog hair, cat fur and now cat pee on it.

I tried the cat-offensive citrus spray.  That worked–for about three weeks. I guess she got used to the smell and me saying “tssst” each time she tried to get up on the furniture.  Then she figured out that I go to the basement for alone time each morning.  One morning I heard the soft scritch scratch above my head and ran up to the living room. Presto! No cat to be seen, but there was other evidence of her visit.

The dog doesn’t mind.  He just eats up the goodies left behind.

Did I say I love my pets?  After all, they have faces (and bottoms) that only a pet owner could love.

Sorry, gotta run.  I hear the cat meowing.

The Writing Attitude

Let’s be honest here.  Having a book purchased for publishing is not an every day occurrence for those of us who aspire to that dream.  Great books and fantastic authors are rejected regularly.  You probably have heard that Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was rejected more than 25 times before To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street became published. Other famous authors have similar stories. Sometimes, it’s all a matter of luck.

So how do you create the luck that leads to publication?  According to the Roman philosopher, Seneca, you need to define luck as “preparation meeting opportunity.”  This weekend, I met some people both around town and at a party for my writing critique group that showed how important attitude is in that preparation process.  I don’t want to pick on anyone, so I’m changing almost all names to show you attitude, and let you decide if  you would work with this author.

WHERE’S THE TIME GONE?

George is a good friend who reads a lot.  He doesn’t aspire to writing a book, but admires authors and is more expert than I about what makes a good book selection.  When he asked me about my writing schedule I told him about getting up and getting to work.

“I’d never be able to do that,” he said. George shook his head.  “I need at least a half hour to have my first cup of coffee.”  Then he would have to take a glimpse at the newspaper, check his Facebook friends and perhaps walk his dog.

By that time, to me, the day is half over.  My life will be cluttered with that little thing called “work,” the thing that currently pays the bills and keeps my time and energy draining throughout the day.

If you want to write, you have to make time to write.  The same holds true for any creative endeavor that’s important to you.  You can’t make your avocation important without a real time commitment.

How much time do you set aside for writing each (and every) day?

I HAVE TO FEED MY FAMILY

Angelique shook her head at me.  She’s starting a business and needing to put it on-line.

“I thought this would be a part-time thing,” said Ange, “but I’m working around the clock, and there is so much more I have to do.”

Honestly, I get this one.  Work is massive. Bills are bigger.  As are the days slipping by while your children grow and change.  You can’t make your writing a higher priority than performing well at your job.

However, even with a full-time job, a weak economy, and all the other dark and scary monsters in your life, you need to make time for you.  And if writing is important, it’s a part of who you are.  Become a detective and scope out where you can snitch back what belongs to you–your spirit.

MY WORDS ARE GOLDEN

Oh my goodness!  I hear “the editor asked me to change this or that, and I won’t (can’t, shouldn’t) do it. It will ruin the story.”

When Charlie used almost those exact words to me, I couldn’t believe it.  They were right out of basic writer don’t-say-this-101!  These words are the death knell to any writer’s success.  What did he think?  The editor wants to ruin his writing?  The editor hasn’t a bottom line that says “good writing sells–good writing needs editing and alteration to sell–when editing is done with good writing, sales keep my job?”

I wanted to shout at Charlie (who I really do like), to GROW UP! I think there is an illusion that fantastic phrases come down to the gifted, and are somehow carved into the brain and dropped onto the page with the permanence of the ten commandments.  Have you seen those tablets sitting around some museum anywhere lately?

IT’S COMPLICATED

I think Sabrina is a wonderful writer, and growing all the time.  So I spent a few minutes with her at the party yesterday.  I asked her how her work was going and she let me have it.  About twenty minutes later, I had heard about how one good plot had turned into multiple book ideas, with websites and spreadsheets keeping everything available.  It all became too much of a good thing for me.  I had invited someone to give an elevator speech of their work in progress, and ended up with a creative monologue that I’m afraid won’t sell.  Two lessons here:

  • When asked about your writing work, have a story prepared.  Know what you’re working on and tell people about it succinctly and with the confidence that you know your stuff.  I’m not great at this myself, but I’m working on it.
  • Organization is great, but even organized, too much stuff is still too much.  If I had felt it was my place, I think I would have suggested to Sabrina that she try to focus on just one story, and not become distracted with the details of character and world building.  Trust your reader.  He or she will fill in blanks you leave with their own imagination.  That’s the fun of the game after all.

AFTER I’VE WRITTEN IT, MY BOOK IS SIMPLY A PRODUCT

This last friend, Elle, told me that when she’s done with a book, she has to turn off the creative writer side and turn on the business side of her brain.  She puts the product out there, has the requisite Facebook page, gives talks and takes the opportunity to meet other people (even though she is as shy as a field mouse).  Elle was upbeat, full of stories that included good tips along with some fun name dropping (even though I have to admit, I didn’t know most of the names dropped).

I sat for a while, absolutely entranced with the conversation, until a thunderstorm threatened and we both got up to help put picnic tables and chairs away.

Guess what–Elle is best selling author Elle Lothlorien.  Writing attitude is big–absolutely HUGE!

How’s your writing attitude today?

Daisy Update for July 27 – Touching Base With Five Star Friends

Even when you don’t hear much from them, publishers are always busy moving stories along and publishing new books.

I checked in yesterday with the folks at Five Star, the publishers who will produce my first novel, Faith On The Rocks, next June.  I was excited to tell them that there are now 17 people who have signed up to read these blog posts of mine, 3 commenters, 3 Twitter followers and 136 Facebook fans following my Daisy exploits and other bits from my writing life. THANK YOU READERS!

WHY YOU ARE IMPORTANT

You are important to me.  You spend your precious moments reading this blog, and hopefully, you may purchase a Daisy Arthur story when it comes out.  I look for your feedback and take your comments to heart.

You are why this blog exists and why I keep getting up at five o’clock each morning to make sure I’m writing by six.

Some of you have your own blogs, which I check in on and enjoy a few moments in your world.  Some of you read my blog and give me suggestions to improve it.  Some of you are friends and family who want to be supportive.  But there are a couple of things you all have in common:

  • YOU READ – Reading is so important.  A society of readers is one that thinks, and, when the time is right, acts upon your best selves to lead and make changes that ensure generations to come have a better life, a safer world, a clean environment.
  • I ADMIRE YOU – We may not have met in person, but I think about you a lot and hope that the humble ramblings here and the stories I write will be something to engage your imagination and your thought processes.  You may be innocent or cynical, happy or sad, ambitious or tired, but you are who I write for.

WRITING CONFERENCES

No writer should ever feel that he or she knows it all where writing is concerned.  The art and craft, like life itself, is always changing.  That’s why writers’ conferences are important.  Not only do you get to hob-nob with famous and not-so-famous authors, you learn new techniques for breathing life into your stories and make them publishable or memorable or just plain better with the different break-out sessions and keynote speakers. If you are a writer, next to a critique group, writers’ conferences are essential.

I am happy to say that I signed up for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference this week. Yipee! Three days of working, meeting others, selling myself and my stories, and just plain fun will be mine for the price of admission in this Denver event.  I will also take part in a first published authors’ panel.  Not sure what exactly that will entail, but I’m really excited about it.

BACK TO DAISY’S FAITH ON THE ROCKS PROGRESS

When I checked in with the Five Star group, I asked about what may be happening with my book.  As I understand it, there are two main sections of work with regard to publishing a book:

  • Developmental Editing – where an editor reads through your book for glaring inconsistencies, word choice errors, and general look and feel kind of work.  I was very lucky to have Alice Duncan review my work at this stage.  She did it quickly and guided me to better prose.  This stage is complete.
  • Copy Editing – This is where Faith On The Rocks sits right now.  The copy editor goes into detail work on each book assigned.  I think this is why there are so few typos and misplaced words in most books. The copy editor is responsible for typos, spelling, grammar, consistency, and more.  As you might guess, this will take a much longer time to complete.

When all of the editing is done, the book has to go into a more marketing oriented mode, I think.  At that time, Five Star will design the book cover (hopefully using the suggestions I sent over), promote the book to libraries, reviewers and others who can help make the book a success, and produce something called ARC or Advanced Reading Copies for “influencers” in the market.

A CONTEST

I will get a couple of these copies for my own promotional purposes.  If I receive more than 5 ARC copies, and you are signed up for my mailing list, I think I will try to come up with a contest where one of you will receive a signed ARC for your own book collection. Keep watching here for details.

Well, dear friend, I have rattled on enough for one morning.  Hope you like Daisy’s progress and will keep sending me thoughts and suggestions.  Have a great reading weekend.