Not a Clockwork Dog

The release of my debut novel, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat, rushed in on the heels of a whirlwind move from a house we’d lived in for fourteen years. Fourteen years is exactly long enough to forget how dreadful moving is and to accumulate a ton of stuff. funny-pictures-kitten-helps-you-move

With the move and all the prep work for the book release, I barely had a free minute for anything else. This made it the perfect time to adopt a dog. (There may be something wrong with me).

Meet eight-month-old Teagan.


In a mere couple of weeks, he’s become an integral part of the family. Even the cats are reluctantly accepting him into their domain (possibly in the hopes of dispatching him when we aren’t looking).


Teagan puts out a lot of effort to fit in. He’s learned not to be too forward with the cats and picked up the idea of Frisbee like a champ (though he’s still having a little trouble with the idea of giving the Frisbee back).


He’s gone on several adventures around the new neighborhood with us and even showed off his excellent manners at brunch on the patio of a local restaurant.

Waiting for the drop.

Last night, we decided to have a nice dinner in to celebrate the book release. Overwhelmed with the excitement in the house, Teagan helped himself to a lovely cut of uncooked steak off the counter…

He did make amends by helping cook in a rather unexpected torrential downpour, possibly in hopes of getting another go at the steak.

Grillin' in the rain.

He may not be a cat and he may not always get things right, but he’s a fantastic addition to the family.

Welcome home Teags. I'm hoping you'll have many more chances to snatch a celebratory steak off the counter.


Dramatic Paws

I’ve been away from my blog for a while. Several things have contributed to that, including illness, injury, writing and editing books (seems to take up a lot of time), and cats. Today I’m not going to talk about the writing or editing or even about my upcoming debut The Girl and the Clockwork Cat coming spring 2014 from Entangled Teen. (Yes, I am shameless, but it does have a cat in it, in the title even, so it’s loosely related.) I’m here to talk about cats. More specifically, about introducing a new cat into our home and the ongoing challenges we’ve faced with this particular cross-section of felines. I’m hoping this actually turns out to be helpful for others facing similar drama, but we’re dealing with cats. Anything could happen.

new cat

For this first post, I will introduce the cast of cats and the problems we have to overcome.

Agent Request: Surviving Another EditThomas (the grumpy old man):

Thomas is 15. He’s been with us since day one and is convinced of his own awesomeness to the point that he knows, for certain, every person in the world is just holding their breath in anticipation of the day they will get to meet him and stroke his silken fur. He is very social and very demanding of his adoring fans. He enjoys long naps and watching TV with his people. He is prone to occasional regression to kittenhood in the form of wild sprints around the house and friendly Thunderdome (outdoor cat enclosure) matches with Neko.

Thomas is the dominant male in the household and deals with feline interlopers by preemptively yowling and striking at them whenever they come close to establish the hierarchy quickly.

Interloper Management Tactic = Successful

Shai (the special needs princess):IMG_2527

Shai is Thomas’ blood sister. At a very young age, she got under one of our horses and was stepped on. She has significant neurological issues and, as she gets older, arthritic issues due to injuries sustained in that incident. She has survived many other dramatic injuries throughout her life. I’m not sure if she’s lucky because she survived them or unlucky because they happened in the first place. She enjoys long naps and … well, long naps. Sometimes on heater vents. Not in front. On.

Shai prefers to solitude though she often naps and shares grooming with her brother. When faced with an interloper, she ignores them. If they persist to the point that she feels cornered, she will throw herself on the floor and scream bloody murder. The offending interloper is usually left staring at her with a look of mystified horror.

Interloper Management Tactic = Successful (oddly enough)

IMG_1391Koneko (the gentle giant):

Neko is about 20 pounds of giant feline paranoia. About 5 years old, he joined the family as a kitten and has always been highly anxious. He will cuddle on occasion, but rarely if more than one person is in the room. He has a disturbing fascination with having his butt spanked and enjoys such lovely past times as going out in the rain in the Thunderdome at night then coming in drenched to wake me up so I can towel him off and cuddle.

Neko’s tendency to slink about apprehensively makes him a delightful target for a more aggressive young interloper. He prefers to avoid the new cat unless attacked, at which point he will fight like a crazed demon.

Interloper Management Tactic = Highly Ineffective

IMG_2528BC (the interloper):

BC showed up on our property shortly after the 4th of July and made it abundantly clear he wasn’t going anywhere. We ignored him. We shooed him off. He broke us down with his stubborn affection and we took him in. After having him tested, neutered, and vaccinated, we attempted to re-home him only to discover that he had a severe fear of dogs. Having already grown rather attached by the time this effort failed, we decided to make him part of our family. He enjoys aggressive cuddling, full-force head-butts, knocking glasses over (the fuller the better, especially if it happens to be beer and there is a lap nearby to dump it on), and playing with his favorite toy, Neko.

Some sensible people would suggest simply finding BC a new home or giving him up to a shelter. This is wise. We are not wise. We love our cats and BC has wormed his wicked way into our hearts. So, this is the tale of our efforts to integrate him into our home. This tale involves blood and pain and broken things and lots of expenses and life changes. I can’t promise a happy ending, but that’s what I’m hoping for. Stick around and see. :)

Next time: Bloody battles and broken bones. Is there any hope for this quartet of cats?

How Not To Be a Successful Author: Water

Yes. Water. It seems innocent enough. We drink it. We shower in it. We bathe in it.


Ah, but that is where the problems start. Soaking. You can waste a lot of good time soaking in a bath and it can lead to things like soaking in a hot tub or even swimming for pleasure.


When things really get bad is when you start discovering the other adventures water can provide.

Snorkeling (which can lead to believing you're a fish and leaping about in the water).


River floating (which can lead to socializing and goofing off).


Kayaking (which can lead to lengthy adventures at sea).


Those are just a few of the ways water can steal away hours and even days of productive writing time. My advice to you? Avoid it. Even showering could be considered a gateway activity. Sure, you might drive away friends and family with the stench if you don’t shower, but that will give you even more time to yourself for writing. Win all around.

Happy writing!

Life Changes and Getting Comfortable with Spiders

Yeah. I know. Sounds like such a serious title. To be honest, my life has had way too much serious lately, so I’m hoping to keep this light. For that, you need kittehs. h8EE3DD3A

I’ve been stacking on the life changes lately. Sprinting out of my realm of safety and security as if it were on fire. Some of the things I've been dealing with are:

  • A death in the family (not getting deep into this as it would go against the keeping it light plan).
  • This thing I’m waiting on (don’t want to jinx it by talking about it too much).
  • This thing my husband is waiting on (yeah, don’t want to jinx that either).
  • Some other stuff (no, I don’t think that’s too vague).
  • Preparing our house to put on the market so that we can move into the city. This one I’ll talk about.

There’s little good about getting a house ready to sell. Inevitably, the moment you decide to sell, you start noticing all the things that are wrong with the house and property that fell off the radar into the selective blindness we all get when we just don't have enough time. The lawn needs some TLC, the carpet is actually heinously ugly, the walls aren’t much better, the barn needs cleaning up, and you have way too much junk lying around.


To start things rolling, you hire someone for the yard work, which seems like a good plan. Then they get sick and someone in their family dies and you can’t really be mad about it, right? You’ve been sick a few times lately and you’ve had a recent death in the family. You should totally understand. Still, you’re secretly somewhat mad about it because the work isn’t getting done and, after all that time spent searching your soul and reconciling with selling your house, you want to get it done NOW.

And then...


Yes. You decide to paint the interior. No big. You start painting the walls in one room, and this is when you realize not only how much you hated the wall color, but that the ceiling is an awful shade of pale pinkish-gray and the dark wood trim looks like hell. Now you have to paint the ceilings and the trim too. What started as a one or two weekend project is now a several month long arduous task. Not to mention, you still have to find time for work and play (yes, play is necessary to keep you from turning into a bug-eyed spastic lunatic). If you haven’t caught on yet, this is one of those things where the more you do, the more you feel like you need to do.

But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here because we like to talk about spiders.

hF9D06D22 No?

Well, I like to talk about them.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. This is an amazing place. It’s beautiful, a wee bit damp, and full of critters, critters that are largely non-venomous/poisonous. I feel rather safe wrangling a random snake or moving spiders out of the house. That isn’t to say that there aren’t spiders I prefer not to tangle with, but the likelihood of encountering something that can do serious damage or even threaten your life is slim.

This always seemed a good thing to me until last week. I was in southern Oregon visiting family and I had a few small spider encounters.

The Jumper:

h4A2BE49BYou know how I feel about these guys if you’ve been following my blog for long. If not, you can find out more in my post Talking with Spiders: The House Rules. As I’ve said before, jumping spiders are cute as hell and the one I found crawling along my pant leg was double-cute with sugar on top. He was tiny and would have been a perfect model for a jumping spider plush toy.


I caught him on my hand, he was so small I couldn’t even feel it as he crawled along my fingers, and relocated him to a windowsill. When my husband poked a finger at him, he crouched back and held his front bits up in a valiant display of ferocity that made me giggle. Love those fuzzy little blokes.

The next spider wasn’t a jumper. He was one of those black widow shaped ones that I express a less tolerant attitude toward in my earlier post about spiders. Still, I’m always trying to give everyone a fair chance so, recalling the jumping spider I’d moved the prior day, I caught this little critter up on my sleeve and moved it outside. It was then, as I dropped it off on the porch, that I realized it really did look an awful lot like a black widow. In fact, given that I was in southern Oregon, the odds seemed good that it could have been one.


I guess that’s what happens when you get too used to feeling safe all the time.

So there you have it. Life lessons from a spider wrangler and a few reasons not to sell your house.

Happy adventuring!

An Irish Ditty

The first part of the Europe trip I was either jet-lagged and/or sick, a state that I think came through all too well in my post about London (Walking in my Protagonist’s Shoes).h3025B033The second part of the trip I wasn’t in such bad shape. I was on the upside of the cold and, although I was heading into a sinus infection, I was a bit more coherent. That part of the trip we spent in Dublin. What’s not to like about Dublin? You go out sightseeing around town and it goes pretty much like this. Sing with me if you know it!


A church and a pub and a church and a church and a pub and a pub and a pub.

That’s not really an Irish Ditty, but it should be. (Oddly, some pubs got blurrier as the day went on.)

Christ Church Cathedral


St. Audoen's Church

St. Patrick's Cathedral




Proper Irish breakfast for the next morning.

Irish Breakfast.

I don’t have any stories set in Ireland yet, but there was plenty of inspiration to be found, including some fantastic old castles and ruins.

Trim Castle

Malahide Castle

Monastic Settlement at Glendalough

One of my favorite stops was the Trinity Library because…

Trinity Library

Books! Lots of books with lots of history woven into their dusty old pages. The best was the Book of Kells and its companions (of which I was not allowed to take pictures). This book is amazing both for the art and labor that went into its creation and for the efforts that went into keeping it safe (also, there is a great little animated movie that the book features in called The Secret of the Kells).

[youtube] We also made it out to Knowth and Newgrange, two of the largest of many burial mounds originally constructed around 3200BC and around which there is still much mystery. Getting to walk inside Newgrange was truly an opportunity to walk into history (yeah, that sounds corny, but it’s so very true).

Knowth site

Passage into large mound at Knowth


Newgrange entrance

As I was looking at these magnificent structures, a new story idea came into my head of… Oh, sorry, no spoilers. ;-)

Double Rainbow!!!

To wrap up, I wanted to share a little clip of live music from one of the pubs in Dublin because you always wrap up at a pub.


For a little more travel fun, you can visit these writer blogs answering the question: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Walking in my Protagonist's Shoes

Big Ben's Tower

As promised, I am posting some of my trip to London where my novel The Girl and the Clockwork Cat takes place. Since the setting for the novel is alternate history (steampunk Victorian London) modified for the purposes of the story many things don’t look the same as they did in my protagonist’s time and some things never looked the way they do in the novel. Still, getting a chance to walk down many of the same streets and see some of the places my protagonist would have seen was a magical experience. In spite of being jet-lagged and sick, I don't think we ever stopped walking.

Jet-lagged and sick in the Tower of London.Pretending there isn't a creepy old operating table behind me.

Walking the streets my protagonist walked in the novel also had the comforting effect of proving that none of the distances she covered were unreasonable. Since she makes her dubious living as a pickpocket, she doesn't have the means to pay for transportation much of the time. I did considerable research on the distances, but on paper, things don’t always work the same as they do in reality.

Fleet StreetStreet viewAnd more

Much of London’s history butts right up against the modern city, as you’ll see in many photos. In spite of this, you can still get a great feel for what the city looked like in Victorian times.

Tower of London across the water.A pocket of history.

Old house 1Old house 2

ParliamentTower of London

And, because I write science fiction and fantasy, I felt it only appropriate to pay homage to Douglas Adams while I was in the area.

Douglas Adams - Writer

Happy adventuring!

Writing Compromised and the Liebster Award


Ever have that experience where you’re editing a manuscript and you come across a section that’s horribly written compared to the rest. After some thought you recall that you wrote that section when you were sick with a bad cold, sinus infection, flu or whatever. You make a vow to yourself as you slog through trying to fix it that you will never ever again let yourself write while sick. Only you know, deep down inside, that when that time comes you’ll try not to work and big guilt-wielding fists inside your mind will beat you up over the work that isn’t getting done until you give in and start writing.


I’m at that point now, that sick point. In a valiant effort to mitigate damage, however, I am letting those guilt-wielding fists win in the form of a blog post because I have an easy one in the queue thanks to the fantastic Briana Vedsted who recently nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award. Thanks Briana!

The Rules

  1. Accept the award, post the picture of the Liebster Award on the top of post, say who nominated you for the award, and list their blog site (see above).
  2. List 11 random facts about me.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for the Liebster Award and list their blog sites.
  4. Notify the bloggers of their award.
  5. Ask the award winners 11 questions to answer when they accept their Liebster Award.
  6. Answer the questions left for me by the blogger who gave me the award.

11 Random Facts about Me

  1. I love stacking things to the point that if you put a board game in front of me I would almost rather make sculptures out of the dice and game pieces than actually play the game.
  2. I love playing board games (Arkham Horror or Dominion anyone?), almost as much as I love stacking the pieces.
  3. I also love video games. Single player RPGs mostly, though I can be talked into a good adventure game now and then.
  4. I don’t drink beer, but I have discovered a soft spot for good cider.
  5. I’m afraid of heights unless I’m in a cave.
  6. I love history, especially in the form of historical structures and artifacts. The true stories behind such things give me a world of ideas.
  7. I love to prompt conversation then sit back and listen (unless someone asks me about my writing, then I never shut up).
  8. My favorite instrument is the violin.
  9. I’m addicted to Burt’s Bees lip balm. Seriously. There are 2 by my bed, one in my truck, one in my purse, one on my desk, one by where I sit in the living room, one in my kayak emergency kit,  and a few in a drawer in the kitchen in case I run out.
  10. I’m addicted to Science Fiction television to the point of throwing a Firefly screening party and loosing considerable sleep over the occasional Doctor Who marathon.
  11. I don’t sing in the shower, but I do sing in my truck (all the time).

My traveling stereo.

My Questions from Briana

  1. What is your favorite movie? The Fifth Element maybe, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or How to Train Your Dragon. Too many great movies to choose from really.
  2. What is your favorite book? Again, too many to choose from, but I think the Last Herald Mage trilogy would be one of the top picks (yeah, I cheated and picked a trilogy).
  3. Do you like sunset or sunrise better? Sunrise. It marks the start of a new day with tons of potential.
  4. Are you a cat person, or a dog person? Cats. Nothing against dogs, but I am very much a cat person.
  5. Have you ever eaten any wild game? Yes. It has happened.
  6. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? I would be in less pain all the time I suppose (too many injuries).
  7. Do you have someone in your life that is your best friend? Who is it? I’m fortunate to have many people in my life who I would call my best friends for varying reasons. I think different people play different roles in our lives so calling only one person a best friend is really rather misleading in a way. If I had to pick, I imagine my husband and my mom would top the list.
  8. Where would you like to go on vacation? Just got back from London (where I finally got to see in person many of the places I wrote about in The Girl and The Clockwork Cat and get ideas for use in books two and three) and Dublin (where I got to see places that may show up in future books). I would like to go to Japan or Malta next.
  9. Are you happy or sad when it rains? Depends on the day. Rain can be fun or depressing or indifferent depending on my mood that day.
  10. What is your favorite food? Popcorn. That’s a dietary staple, right?
  11. Do you have a hobby? What is it? I have many hobbies including kayaking, horseback riding, caving, dancing, iaido, and so on. Too many perhaps.

A sea of popcorn.

My Nominees

My Questions to those Nominees

  1. What’s one odd quirk or habit you have?
  2. Do you have any collections and what are they?
  3. When you get free time alone, how do you like to spend it?
  4. What’s your favorite season and why?
  5. What’s your favorite instrument?
  6. Do you prefer drama or comedy and what appeals to you about that preference?
  7. Beer or wine (or something else entirely)?
  8. What makes a party good?
  9. What do you typically do on vacation?
  10. Are you a morning person or an evening person?
  11. My cat wants to know if you prefer sparkly toys or feather toys and why?


Next week I'll take you with me (virtually of course) on my adventure traveling through many of the areas of London that played prominent roles in my novel The Girl and the Clockwork Cat complete with many photos.

Happy living!

One New Thing: January 2013 - Fire and Melty Things

It’s getting hot in here so… ah, nevermind. Today I want to share a fun new experience I had in January. A good friend invited me to join her for a glass blowing class at Seattle Glassblowing Studio. This was something I’d never done before and as someone who believes strongly in experiencing as much as I can, both for my writing and for my own personal growth, I was happy to accept.

Before I get too far into that, however, I want to talk a little about the surprisingly pleasant experience I had on the Seattle buses. I don’t ride the buses much (perhaps six times in 12 years) and I prefer not to drive around them. As a result, I’m a bit clueless when it comes to bus fares and I failed to consider this before stepping onto the bus with my friend who has a bus pass and therefore doesn’t have to worry about rates. As I stood in the front of the bus and dug through my purse in search of the $2.50 fare the driver gave me a pitying look and asked if I’d ridden the bus before. I gave him my sheepish smile…


and told him I rarely had a need to. He smiled and told me it was my lucky day, I should put my money away and buy myself a coffee later, which was very sweet, although I don’t drink coffee.

At the end of the day, when we got on a bus to leave, I put $3.00 in because I didn’t have any change, but I figured I was still ahead. Although, I told him not to worry about it, the driver hunted down a quarter and sent it back to me with another passenger after I’d taken a seat. Not such bad people, as long as you’re on the bus and not trying to share the road with it.


Anyway, on to the glass shop and glassblowing pictures.

Inside Seattle Glassblowing Studio.

Looking back into the workroom.

Our teacher, Travis.

Gathering glass. Very hot. Nice on a cold day.

Adding color.

Twisting the glass to swirl the color.

Blowing the glass.

Pressing to push down the bottom of the bowl.

Reheating the glass (this was done often throughout the process).

Sucking to create the inside of the bowl.

Breaking it off the stick so it can be gradually cooled in the ovens.

The finished bowl.

In use.

What similar adventures or experiences have you had that you would recommend to others?

Happy adventuring!

One New Thing: February 2012

We’ve had an ongoing goal of visiting one new place every month as a way to experience the world and life in general. Over time, this goal has broadened to discovering a new place or activity every month, opening the door to learning new things and keeping the mind, as well as the body, active. To keep myself honest with this goal, I’ve decided to do a post at the beginning of each month about the place or activity discovered the previous month. This is the kickoff for that. In the past, discoveries have included anything from finding a new place to take the horses or kayaks to going to a new city.

Last month took a new direction. Thanks to the new world of great deals that can be delivered to your inbox through Livingsocial, Groupon, and many other such services, you can now discover a whole variety of new experiences at a discount. How great is that?

In February, I finally took advantage of a Livingsocial deal I had picked up almost a year ago (you can’t rush these things) and set up some introductory ballroom dancing classes with Arthur Murray Dance Studios.  I love music and I have always loved to dance, I’ve just never really known how, so this sounded like something worth trying.

funny pictures of cats with captions

I have to admit that I tried not to like it because, let’s face it, once the Livingsocial deal is used up, you have to pay real money for these lessons. However, after learning the basic steps to the rumba, salsa, waltz, and tango, the whole idea had danced its way into my little heart and I’m sure I could be seen grinning like a fool when I managed my first decent underarm turn. So now, yeah, you guessed it, dance lessons and group lessons every week.

So, who wants to go dancing?

That is my new thing for February. I can’t wait to tell you about March. ;-)

I would love to hear what things you do to experience life. What places or activities have you discovered lately?