Why Writers Should Never Have a Cat – EVER!*

I have come to the conclusion that cats are anti-writing terrorists. Any animal, really, but cats in particular are the elite branch of anti-writists^. Highly trained saboteurs in the art of ensuring that books will never be written. Ever.

^This is absolutely a word. Ask your cat!

Why do I say this?

Shh… hang on. I’ll be right back.

Sorry about that, I had to… er… feed my cats.

Now, where was I? Oh, yes. Explaining why cats are anti-writists. Let’s start with their general characteristics, shall we?

  • They’re soft. Oh, so soft. And cuddly. Their fur inspires images of cuddles, warm beds and contented sighs. If you see it, you have to touch it. DO NOT TOUCH IT! It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to stop.
  • They purr. No one is exactly sure how they do it, but that low, soothing rumble is guaranteed to make you forget what you were supposed to be doing.
  • They’re cute and entertaining. Have you ever seen a cat playing with nothing but air? No? GOOD! Pray you never do, because you will instantly stop being productive in an effort to keep them, and thereby yourself, amused.
  • They’re occasionally alarming. Their status as highly efficient predators means that this:

mouse

gets rescued from under the bathroom mat at two in the morning and hidden in the cupboard until it can be released safely when daylight arrives.

As you can see, this is a rather unnerving list of distracting qualifications. Now to examine their specially trained skills designed to prevent writing from ever taking place.

  • Cats are specially adapted to know when you’re trying to write. If you’re writing on a device that requires a keyboard and screen, you’ll have to remove the cat before you can even start. And every two minutes thereafter as they try to return to your keyboard their bed.aya-on-keyboard

If you’re writing with pen and paper, good luck convincing the cat that your writing implements are not a toy. Specifically, their toy. Better luck convincing yourself of that as well.

  • Which brings up the fact that cats are sneaky. Oh, so sneaky. They are experts in mind control. So much so, that they have you convinced that it’s amusing and adorable when they type owebolngsonnalondOP all over your document, or you end up with this: cat-scribblebecause “it was just so funny watching her play with the pen!”
  • They are strategic nappers. This means that instead of choosing an out-of-sight spot to curl up in, they deliberately place themselves in your line of sight. They then proceed to up the cuteness level to unbearable, so that your procrastinating tendencies insist that you need… to… stroke… it! Not once, or twice, or even later. Oh no. Every. Thirty. Seconds. To make it even worse, when you do touch them, they turn on the ultimate weapon – the PURR.
  • The PURR. This weapon of mass-productivity-destruction actually stands for Purposefully Undermining Relative Resourcefulness. Kiss your productivity goodbye, my friend, because as soon as your cat switches the PURR on, it’s gone. Add the belly-just-begging-for-a-rub stretch**: aya

and you may as well give up any intention to get anything at all done.

As if those capabilities weren’t enough, I have recently realised that they have been teaching dogs to be just as effective anti-writists. Behold:

ali

 

*Obviously, writers should actually have ALL the cats! Because they understand us. Why else?

**Aya, a rescue cat (and one of four), was pulled out of my car engine. As you can see from the photo, she is proudly showing off her shaved belly from having been spayed.

***

Have some of your own stories to tell about pets you’ve owned? Share them in the comments! 

 

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NaNoWriMo Prep that has NOTHING to do with Writing.

Well, almost nothing. It is NaNoWriMo, after all.

And since it’s swiftly approaching, it’s a frightening prospect to consider. Writing 50 000 words in a month is not an easy feat, though there are some* who would suggest otherwise.

*There are those who write over a million words in a month. What are you people?!

Whether you’re a planner, a pantser, or a plantser, here are some things you can do to make NaNoWriMo just that little bit easier.

  1. Free up your free time.

Your free time is when most of your words will be written. Make sure you have as much of it available as possible. Cancel social engagements (unless it’s a write in), warn family and friends that you’ll be unreachable in imagination land, and teach your cat that the laptop is not her bed*, by substituting a hot bottle for your overworked keyboard.

*This will never work, but trying will keep you from panicking and running away from all writing responsibilities.

  1. Replace social media apps with writing ones.

Now, now. I can hear you gasping from all the way over here. I promise, you will not die from Facebook withdrawals. I can promise this because when the urge strikes to go watch that latest pineapple pen* video on Facebook, you’re going to open a writing app instead and spend those few minutes writing words which can be added to your total later. Writer Plus for Android is great – it allows you to share your document and has the all-important word count feature.
Try it for this week leading up to November. You may surprise yourself.

* what is that?

  1. Organise your writing space.

Wherever you tend to write, make it a calm space to work in. There’s nothing more demotivating than trying to work at a desk you can’t sit at properly because clutter. Make it pretty, because who isn’t inspired by pretty?*

writing-space

*The definition of pretty is used very loosely in this context. For example, my pretty involves lights that look like dragon eggs, and owls. Lots, and lots of everything owl themed.

  1. Get enough sleep.

Sleep is the life force of imagination. Without enough of it, our words lose momentum and so does our enthusiasm. Make sure you clock a reasonable number of hours each night (or day if that’s possible for you), so that you feel rested and inspired.

  1. Eat (and drink) healthy.

It’s often said that caffeine runs through the veins of writers everywhere, but caffeine has a similar effect to sugar: it puts you on a high and then drops you. Hard. It’s okay to need a cup or two of caffeine in any form, but your brain will respond better to fresh foods and water. Sneak a chocolate in though, because naturally chocolate = motivation.

  1. Rewards!

Find something to reward yourself with when you meet your daily goal. I like stickers, some people prefer cake. Whatever it is, stock up on rewards that will motivate you to reach that word goal.

  1. Find a support group.

Writing is a lonely business, and it can be disheartening to realise you’ve missed a whole week of writing because you were internetting* instead. Support groups, whether they’re online or in person, will help you to keep going, pulling out that last little letter by force if need be.

*That’s a word, right? No? Well, it is now.

  1. Setup your writing programmes.

Most of us use the wonder of modern technology to write. Making sure your Scrivener, Word or other writing programme is ready to go on the 1st will inspire you to start thinking about your story. If you prefer to write by hand, make sure you have plenty of your favourite pens, and a lot of paper or journals.

paperblanks2013
These aren’t mine, but oh how I wish they were.
  1. Take breaks.

While some people are clockwork machines, not everyone aspires to be a superhuman writer. Well, maybe we do, but it’s still okay to take breaks when we feel tired, stressed or overwhelmed by words. Just don’t make them too long, because it can be difficult to get back into the flow of writing if your thought-train has completely de-railed.

  1. Download our free NaNoWriMo Calendar.

From the 1st of November, the links in the calendar will lead you to posts designed to keep you on track with daily word counts, rewards, and motivational whips*. You can download it here:

chasing-dreams-nanowrimo-calendar

*They’re not really whips. Or are they? Only one way to find out.

***

How are you prepping for NaNoWriMo? Are you excited, nervous, running away as fast as your little legs can take you? It’s really not that bad, is it? If you’ve done NaNo before, what tips do you have for newbies?

Calling All Bloggers

calling-all-bloggers

Chasing Dreams Publishing is thrilled to announce that we’re releasing After the End at the end of November.

We’re looking for bloggers to participate in our Cover Release on the 7th November, and in our blog tour, which will take place from the 14th to 21st January 2017.

If you’re keen to take part, please send an e-mail to chasingdreamspublishing@gmail.com with the dates you’re available, and what sort of post you’d like to do, or leave a comment below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

P.S. The cover is amazing, so don’t miss out on the cover reveal on the 7th!

A Space Between Worlds – CI and Review

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I am once again thrilled to be taking part in a blog tour hosted by Royal James Publishing. Unfortunately my internet connection was not as enthusiastic at the idea so I’m running a few hours behind schedule with the posting. My apologies!

Let’s not delay any further. I chose a character interview for this novel, because the characters are unusual, to say the least. I truly struggled with choosing my questions for Chandra, not least because of spoilers (and also, even though I’m a writer myself, it felt quite odd to be directing questions towards a fictional character.) Luckily, J.D. Woodson stayed in character, and Chandra’s responses are on point.

You can read the interview below:

character-interview

 The love Chandra has for Shanti is familial, and throughout the book it’s mentioned that they share a mother/daughter relationship, yet their ages are never quite given – they both seem to be young women. The roles people play in their lives is often dictated by their age – children listen to their elders, and parents guide their children. In A Space Between Worlds, Chandra seems to act as both parent and child depending on the circumstances. How does she feel about having to be a ‘mother’ to Shanti, who often seems to act like a child?

Does she really feel this way about me?! This is a shocker! Aren’t I usually a bother to her? The Songstress…she doesn’t have anyone else besides me. Even though I can’t do much, I see myself as her closest connection to the world. Without me, she’d be truly alone. I’m able to see what her followers can’t. The songs she sings for them, they take it in a vastly different way I do. All I can do is make sure she is loved, even when she refuses to love herself. Mask or no mask, Shanti is Shanti. I can be honest? You’re not going to tell the Songstress of all this are you? No? Pinkie swear and lock it in!   I think the roles should be reversed, between she and I. The reason? I’m not certain why, I wish I was. The fit would be just right; Shanti as a mother. I need her more than she needs me. She proved it way back when…

Chandra’s relationship with Reno seems to be every bit as complex as the other relationships in the story. She sees him as a gifted florist when they first interact, but her focus is on uniting him and Shanti. Chandra seems to be far more aware of their circumstances than they are. Does she truly understand what she’s doing in manipulating their meeting, or is she going on instinct?

Manipulation, I’m not good at doing something like that. Takes a lot of plotting and scheming. This sound like someone else I know. He isn’t someone I want to mention. The guy shouldn’t exist. But he and Reno share the same heart as far as I understand.

I went off topic didn’t I?! Disregard what I said please. The Songstress and Reno, they had similar circumstances. Both of them were lost. Why not bring them together? Maybe I crossed my bounds in doing so but when I did, we were all happy. We’ll have to see how long it will last, though.  When it runs dry, maybe I’ll have to try again. I’ll try over and again until it sticks. I’m acting by what my heart told me.

Butterflies seem to play an important role in the story, specifically with Chandra. What is it about their symbolism that is important to Chandra in particular?

Butterflies are beautiful! The way they flutter about is entrancing to say the least. I wish I could be like them. Aside from their appearance, I find their lives to be interesting. They are born twice, it seems. Imagine if people worked the same way; being born more than once in a single lifetime? I wish I was as eloquent as the Songstress and Reno! I can’t find the right words to explain it. Now that I think about it, if they are born twice, doesn’t it mean they die the same number of times? I wonder if they can remember anything past the time they break away from their cocoons?

Chandra’s first memory is of the moon, but Shanti is frightened of the moon. Near the end, the importance of the moon is revealed, but by that time, Chandra is gone. Will she be as pivotal in Shanti’s new world, as she was in Cauraaha?

The Songstress’ world, what kind of place will it be? I’m sure she’ll be seen the way she longed for. But if it’s hers alone, would there be anyone else there? Time for yourself, everyone needs such a time. I know one thing is for certain; wherever the Songstress goes, I’ll be with her. I can’t allow her to be alone for long. This could be what she wants, to be detached from me. I won’t force myself on her. My promise and his, does she value it?

Thank you to J.D. and Chandra for being such great sports in the interview.

Onwards then, to the review!

A Space Between Worlds Vol. 1: Conception – Review

Blurb:

Songstress Shanti’s final performance is no different than any other. Gazing into the mirror, the Songstress laments her faceless curse. To hide her unsightliness, she dons a beautiful mask. She knows she doesn’t belong in the darkness. Her desire is to live in a world of eternal light, to be seen for who she truly is.

An enigmatic man who calls himself Avidia beckons Shanti, claiming to know how to conceive the world of light sleeping inside of her, and escape her current world of darkness, Cauraaha. Avidia poses the question that will be the key to her desire, as well as an unresolved pain:

“What is your first memory?”

Reno, a gentle florist, has his own stigma, a translucent coil of thorns wrapped around his arm, draining him of life at the utterance of the word “Promise”. Hidden away in his heart is the knowledge of a past he doesn’t wish to face, one that connects to Shanti, Avidia, and her curse.

A dual narrative of introspection and self-discovery, A Space Between Worlds eloquently questions the truths of life and death, timeless bonds, and regret through lyrical imagination, philosophy, surrealism, and a journey through the unconscious mind.

I loved the visual images the author managed to create in this book. He took several abstract concepts and put them into words which is quite a feat in itself. Having said that, I opened the book expecting a coherent story line, and while the story does eventually emerge among the descriptions, my expectation stifled the enjoyment of the novel.

I never really got a clear impression of who the characters were as individuals. Granted, the necessity for that became apparent as the tale unfolded, but my confusion as I was reading it made it difficult to continue long enough to find that out.

It was only when I forced my brain to stop thinking about the story, and just enjoy the pictures his words generated, that I was able to relax into reading it. Perhaps a lot of this has to do with my own personal expectations of a novel – J.D. Woodson certainly manages to break a lot of the preconceived notions of a fantasy.

Once I managed to shut the thinking side of my brain off, it was easy to appreciate the metaphysical aspects of the story he was telling. It was actually the mention of Ayahuasca in the novel that made me realise that this book needs to be read the same way one would go into an Aya ceremony – with no expectation, only a willingness to go with the flow. Unfortunately the reference came quite late into the book, so the majority of the story was lost to my thinking brain.

There are places where I felt that the story could have been tighter and still got the message across, but ultimately the novel does a fair job of depicting the strangeness of worlds we create internally without ever realising it.

***

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J.D. Woodson was born Chicago, Illinois in 1992. He grew up in Palos Park, a quiet suburb southwest of Chicago. During his early years, J.D. gained a fondness towards poetry and continued to writing it through primary school and high school, winning small awards for his work. He would attend Columbia College Chicago with intent to major in poetry, however he shifted his focus and major to Fiction Writing due to his love for storytelling. After his sophomore year, he would take a leave of absence to study outside of the workshop method he was taught and gained experience as a ghostwriter which his projects spanned from fiction to non-fiction. To read more about J.D., you can visit him on his website or visit him on his social media links below:

FACEBOOK/TWITTER/INSTAGRAM

 giveaway

Royal James Publishing is holding a giveaway to celebrate the release of A Space Between Worlds. 

Click here or visit Royal James Publishing’s Facebook page to enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card and a signed copy of  A Space Between Worlds Vol.1: Conception by J.D. Woodson.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here.