Living with a children's author isn't as easy as it looks!

Mess

Mom’s latest story is pretty much of a mess.

It’s shifting focus all over the place, getting longer, but going nowhere, and Martin is stuck in the basement with no suspense, no crisis, no obstacles, no nuthin’. AND some of the secondary characters are trying to take over Martin’s spot as star of the book. Not cool. Mom will move on to a new story on Monday. Bye, Martin. We’ll see you around the neighborhood. Another time. Maybe.

Messes happen. Nobody knows that better than I do. I’ve been a mess-making champion from way back.

In the morning, after my walk, I take a crazy fit and play with toys and run and zoom and slide all over the place.

*sigh* That was fun…

In the afternoon, I get a special treat, and it’s so delicious that I lick and lick and lick the spot where it was until there’s a wet spot on the floor that’s 92 times bigger than the treat.

After dinner, I make myself comfy on the couch for some TV. Most times, I have to rearrange the cover that Mom has to protect the material from my furs and nails.

Mom says, “Cover.” I say, “Uncover.”

When messes happen, there’s only one thing to do. Clean them up!

 

 

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I love children (and also wet cement, but that’s another story for another time.). Mostly children are just my size. I love to taste them and snuggle up next to them (and also hump them, but that’s another story for another time.).

I see children at the library when they come to tell me stories at Read to a Pet Night.

Sometimes they taste like gum. And mac and cheese. A lot of them choose doggie books which I appreciate.

But I’m a good girl and listen politely, even when the book is about a C-A-T or FlyGuy or ToyStory.

Sometimes, I see children at the VA when they are visiting an old soldier that they know and love. I mean what’s not to love about an old soldier? They’re adorable. And more importantly, they think I’m adorable. #thingsthatmatter

Being adorable.

Mom writes stories for children. Long ago, she took a class and tried to write an adult story. It FELT horrible when she was doing it, it SOUNDED horrible when she read it to herself, and everybody she read it to said it WAS horrible. So yeah. I guess spending 35 years surrounded by children makes your head work in a certain way that’s tough to fight and impossible to change.

She is always careful about what she writes and how she writes it because just like when she was a teacher, she wants children to remember her words in a good way that will stick with them (like cement) and make them grow up into better humans.

Mom has not forgotten about her dark-of-night challenge.

She has started her story and is wondering if it will ever make it to the night. So far, no. But her character named Martin might take it that way eventually… I’m hoping so, for Mom’s sake. And hoping not for mine. And Martin’s.

Aargh…

 

 

Setting

I don’t like dark. Or storms. Or night. Our house is rarely ever completely dark. It has TV light ALL the time and a hundred night lights that switch on automatically as soon as night tries to sneak in.

Day is my favorite time. I’m all about sunshine and sparkle and bright and light.

Mom’s favorite time is morning. She is always up and att’em early. That’s her best time to write and her best time to do most everything – clean, swim, get ideas, take me for a walk, meditate, and cook.

Ugh… Not yet!

Her stories usually take place during the daytime. That is part of what is called setting. It sounds like sitting,

but apparently it’s not. When Mom said she was working on setting, I said, “…so am I!”

Nope.

Anyway, dark is scary and Mom doesn’t usually write scary things. But she has a challenging plan for herself. The next story she writes will take place at night or in a dark place.

*gulp*

Mom doesn’t have her next story idea, yet, but she will check her lists and choose an idea or two that she can mix together and take to the night. I typically like helping Mom work,

Helping.

but if there’s anything dark involved…

Nope.

She’s on her own.

 

 

Getting Normal

Things are getting back to normal around here. Almost.

I still have trouble figuring out how to work my blanket bed,

Wait. What?

and I still nap on the couch.

That’s normal. Except I have to wear a shirt so my furs don’t get all over the place too much.

Mom tamed the wild wires and organized her desk.

She even stared at a few stories on her computer, checked off her most recent rejections in her record notebook, and actually wrote a sentence or two in her latest story – which happens to be about a doggie. That’s normal. Except she does her work in the bedroom now, so I am forced to stare at her from my dogbed.

I tried to take a street nap in the parking lot by our new house, but a lot of the normal drama is gone because there’s hardly any traffic.

Where is everybody?

This is street nap 2.0 – on the porch.

Mom found the public library in our new neighborhood, but hasn’t stopped in for a normal pile of picture books to read. She is falling behind in her goal to read 200 books this year, but plans to catch up soon.

I am falling behind I my normal goal to take 200 naps each day, but I plan to catch up soon.

I still help Mom type, but instead of making my usual story of QQQQQQQ with my ear, I type DDDDDDFFFFFCCCCCVVVVV with my paw.

When my “story” is finished, Mom usually calls me the name of Knucklehead… I guess that’s another name for best selling author.

Let me try this blanket bed again….

 

Nailed it!

 

Five Word Friday

Today’s five words are about adjusting. Mom and I are both adjusting to our new home. And we are adjusting our new home to suit us just right.

I think I need a booster seat.

75. Writing – no writing whatsoever has been done in our new home, yet. The desk has wires everywhere and none of them is connected to anything.

Plus there’s a ton and a half of other things to hog writing time. Mom hopes in a few days, she will be back on schedule with her stories. I will be happy when she sits still for an hour. It’s hard to keep an eye on her when she is on the move.

Whatcha got there? Lunch? I like lunch…

14. Tail – I had barely adjusted to my tail bandages when they were unceremoniously removed – to reveal THIS! Now I am adjusting to my shorter, thinner, mismatched, discolored FREAK-tail.

61. Street Naps – I almost took my first street nap at my new street this afternoon. Almost! But a loud noise spooked me. I’m taking balcony naps, now.

999. Rejections – 2 rejections came to Mom by email. She said, “You can run, but you cannot hide.” and “I can’t wait to work on these stories to try to make them better.” and “Please don’t bark at the new neighbors.”

5. Activity – Moving to a new home is cause for lots of activity. There are moving men, deliveries, shopping, unpacking, reorganizing, and decorating. Being a writer, is cause for lots of activity, too. There are ideas to record, drafts to write and rewrite, agents and publishers to research, and critique work to get to. But sometimes, I just want my own kind of activity – for no reason at all.

Making changes is something writers have to do – whether they like it or not.

Mom is one of those writers who does NOT like it. But she does it. Sometimes, she gets a story scored by Rate Your Story, sometimes, her online critique group suggests the changes, and sometimes, she gets a flat out rejection and knows changes have to be made.

She reads and rereads her story. She asks questions like, “Will illustrations enhance the story?” and “Is the sequence of the plot events logical?” and “Do the obstacles increase through the story to a critical level that seems hopeless?” and “Are you licking your tail bandage?” Changes are made based on the answers to those questions. Mostly the answers are,  “Yes. Yes. No. And Who? Me?.”

Obstacles have been an issue for Mom. She is aware of it and is working on doing better. Licking my tail bandage has been an issue for me. I am aware of it, and when my bandage is off, I will stop – not right away, but as soon as I taste what’s left of my post-surgery tail.

What just happened…?

Story changes and bandage changes are not the only changes around here. Next week, we will move to a new apartment. Mom and I have visited the new place,

brought some of our things there,

got some new things delivered,

and we have played there a lot.

Our illustrations are just iPhone photos,

the sequence of the moving steps seems logical,

and we are sure there will be no obstacles, and nothing critical or hopeless.

I’m hopeful I’ll spend a lot of time right here…

Thanks, Socrates. We are focused on “building the new.” New story improvements, new tail sizes, and a new home.

Unexpected Things

Rate Your Story Rating Scale:
10 – Consider this story as practice.
9 – This story is best saved for reading to your family.
8 – If at first you don’t succeed…rewrite, rewrite again.
7 – Your idea has merit, but the story needs a lot of revision.
6 – Not bad, but doesn’t stand out.
5 – Better than average, but still needs work.
4 – A decent story. Could be great with a few revisions.
3 – Good story! Get a critique or two and polish before submitting.
2 – A very good story with the potential to be outstanding! Nearly submission-ready!
1 – Great story! You should consider submitting this!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Usually, things go just as you expect them to go. When Mom sends her work to Rate Your Story, lots of times it gets rated a 4 or a 5.

But unexpected things happen all the time. Recently, one of her stories was rated a 2.

Also, recently, one of her stories was rated a 7. Mom works equally as hard on each of them, and feels equally good when she sends them in, but there’s no way to know what clicks and what clunks.

Speaking of clunking, the front door at my house where I have lived for the past 7 years clunks shut on its own every time Mom and I go into or out of it. We expect the clunk and usually things go as we expect them to go.

But unexpected things happen all the time. Last week, I unexpectedly hesitated in the doorway, and the door clunked shut ON MY TAIL. I screamed and pulled it free, but the last little bit of my long, monkey tail didn’t make it out. It was left behind on the living room floor!

Yikes!

When Mom gets her scores, she looks carefully at what went wrong and fixes the story up. There are little changes like tweaking the opening to make the conflict clearer. And big changes like changing the entire point of view of the story. Whatever she does, the story is never the same again.

Doctors looked at what was left of my tail and decided how to fix it up. I slept peacefully through my surgery, and have been sporting a series of adorable bandages…

and the cone of courage.

This week, my stitches will be removed and I will be back to my old self. But my tail will never be the same again.

*sigh* Good times….

Soon, we will move to our new house. And yes, as I expected, that door also clunks shut on its own.

I’ll just wait right here. Thank you very much.