Friday Feature – Author Laurel McHargue

So a big welcome to a fellow Colorado writer today – Laurel McHargue. In addition to being a guest on my blog, today is a special day for her. It is the 35th anniversary of her graduation from West Point Academy. That is amazing and I’m glad that she was willing to share her journey with us. So on to her story 🙂

West Point Senior Photo

 

Why My Goal is to Publish in Every Genre

By Laurel McHargue

 

When my high school guidance counselor told me I shouldn’t apply to Smith College as an early decision applicant—I should have several backups in my pocket—I wasn’t mature enough to realize she was projecting her own insecurities onto me, as if I needed more than my own at the time. But I applied the way I wanted to, was accepted, and got to know myself as a person separate from my parents over three challenging and eye-opening semesters on the picturesque Northampton campus.

What I discovered was how little I knew about myself.

I accepted a job through Smith’s summer work placement program after my first year. The job? Housekeeper, light fare cook, and companion to a 65-year-old Smith grad. I hadn’t cooked a day in my life up to that point. The fourth of five girls in my family, I was often dodging too many helpers in our kitchen, but I never minded hanging out in my bedroom with a good book. I was fairly sure I could follow a recipe and not kill anyone with the resultant meal.

And what a wonderful opportunity! I’d live for six weeks with a woman who’d be my mentor. She had worked at Harvard Business School before retiring. She would help me discover my purpose in life.

Wrong.

She had no time for me—ME!—and no interest in mentoring a young Smithie. She barely acknowledged my presence. So I cleaned her ashtrays and accompanied her between her apartment in Boston’s Prudential Center and her little place on the beach in Connecticut and didn’t kill her with my cooking.

And I decided I needed a change.

My parents had raised me to believe I could do and be anything I wanted, yet I knew I’d never really been tested academically, physical, and emotionally. I wanted to be tested.

I had my meeting with the Dean of Smith in November of my sophomore year, a requirement for anyone leaving the ivy towers of the Seven Sisters College, to tell her I’d started an application to the United States Military Academy at West Point and would leave Smith at the end of the semester to prepare. I was fairly confident my application would be approved.

She told me I shouldn’t leave. I was making a mistake. Didn’t I see how well I was doing at Smith? She told me I really shouldn’t make such a drastic move. It wouldn’t be a good fit for me.

Huh.

She was almost right. As a woman in the fourth class to see women at West Point, I experienced the wrath of many cadets, grads, and professors who believed women shouldn’t be marching alongside the men of the Long Gray Line. I came close to failing out of West Point because my plebe English instructor, an Army Captain, told me I couldn’t write.

But I could, and I did, and after graduating from West Point in 1983, I served in the Army for nine years on Active Duty and over three more in the Army Reserves. But what does any of this have to do with my goal as an author?

The answer is simple. First and foremost, I want to publish in every genre because it will be a challenge. Second and aftmost (thought I’d made up that word, but alas, I did not), I’ve been told I shouldn’t.

After publishing “Miss?” and Waterwight, an author friend told me I should adopt a pseudonym for publishing The Hare, Raising Truth because clearly, my niche is educational writing and The Hare is, well, rather naughty. Not naughty enough to check porn off my “to do” list, but not nice enough for a middle school classroom—though many of my former 7th grade students would disagree.

Different writing conferences I’ve attended also have promoted the “niche” message. “Market yourself as a (fill in the blank) writer.” “Be the ‘go to’ author for (this specific) genre.” And what has been my response to these messages?

Pshaw!

Every genre presents its challenges, and I’m a firm believer that a life filled with challenges will never be boring. As I work on Waterwight Breathe this year, the last book of my Waterwight Trilogy, I write with full awareness that I’m doing something I “shouldn’t” do. I’m writing it in first person present tense, whereas my first two books remain consistently in third person past tense. Why?

You know why. It’s different. It’s a challenge. I haven’t done it before, and after reading The Hunger Games Trilogy, I was inspired to try it. I wrote The Hare, Raising Truth in second person perspective for the same reason, and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone voice was a powerful inspiration behind each creepy scene. It was great fun to write.

So while many will stand by their advice that I shouldn’t write in multiple genres, I believe I should, and I will. If Neil Gaiman can do it, so can I. And hey, is someone going to knock on my door and drag me off to jail for breaking any “rules” of writing?

I think not. But if I do find myself behind bars for daring to color outside the lines, just think of the story I’ll write about it. It’ll be a challenge.

 

~~~~~

 

Award-winning author Laurel McHargue, a 1983 graduate of The United States Military Academy at West Point, was raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, but somehow found her way to the breathtaking elevation of Leadville, Colorado, where she has taught and currently lives with her husband and Ranger, the German Shepherd. She established Leadville Literary League, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote local literary endeavors and the arts, and hosts the podcast ‘Alligator Preserves’ about storytelling and the human condition. She blogs about life, real and imagined, at leadvillelaurel.com. Find her at the 2018 Denver Comic Con June 15-17.

 

Links:

Laurel’s Amazon Author Page

Laurel’s website

Laurel’s Twitter

Laurel’s Facebook

Alligator Preserves Podcast

 

DCC 2018

Friday Feature – Blogger Katie Huey

Here is the blogger of the blog 52 Beautiful Things, Katie Huey. Go check out her blog, it’s amazing!

katie

I started my blog 52 Beautiful Things in 2013. We had just postponed my upcoming wedding because my grandpa died and my fiance had gotten laid off. My personal life felt shaky and uncertain. Always a cheerleader for the positive in the world, I decided to make my search for beauty a public thing. I needed to put words to the good. As the years have gone by I’ve gone through lots of ups and downs – got married, bought a house, lost my dad, and dealt with grief. I’m starting to realize that’s how things work – a bittersweet mix of good and bad, joy and pain, ugliness and beauty. It’s impossible and impractical to live in awesome all the time. Yet, we can find beauty in despair, confusion and pain if we start to look.

The blog continues to be an outlet for me and I always am tickled when readers share how my perspectives inspire, challenge or connect with them. Things are scary out there and the world needs more light. Looking for the beauty in the ordinary things keeps me grounded – it’s a bonus when my words help others in their journey as well. I’ve yet to make money on this platform, but the purpose of seeking good and connecting with readers keeps me coming back each week to write more.

More of my writing projects can be found here.

​You can check out her blog here

Or connect with her on  Instagram and Twitter
Happy Friday Everyone!

Facing Your Fears – Author Toolbox

Nano Blog and Social Media Hop2

I haven’t been a published author very long, just a little over six months at this point. If you had told me even I year ago that I would have published not one, but two books, I would’ve looked at you skeptically and probably walked away.

Let me share a bit of backstory with you. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I don’t even remember learning how to read and I know that I’ve been writing for just as long. Now, I can’t look back at my early stories without rolling my eyes and groaning a bit. They were basically one long run-on sentence with very little in the way of grammar. Still, I am fond of those early attempts because they show my love of writing.

However, when I was fifteen, I completed my first novel. It was my pride and joy and I had spent countless hours working on it. Filled with youthful surety and confidence as only a teenager can be, I sent my manuscript out in search of a publisher. Unfortunately, I fell into the trap of a vanity publisher. After waiting months to hear back, I was told that they could indeed publish my manuscript, for the hefty sum of $4,000. Needless to say, I was crushed. Afterwards, I stopped showing my writing to anyone. I didn’t stop writing, but I stopped sharing it with anyone, including my family.

It’s been over a decade since that happened. I set aside my dream of becoming an author and pursued other goals. I finished college, became a librarian and then an entrepreneur, traveled overseas, and even have started the journey to becoming a black belt. But I still felt empty inside, unfulfilled. And despite everything, I never stopped writing. Some stories were good, some not so much, but I couldn’t deny the urge to write. Last year, I got fed up with hiding and decided to go big. I wrote my first novel in just under a month and published it. It was one of the most exhausting things that I’ve ever done, but I had never felt so alive and satisfied.

So now that I’ve practically written another novel in this post, what does all of this have to do with facing your fears? I want to share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully some tricks that will help your overcome your fears.

1) Embrace your uniqueness

Now this may seem patently obvious, but please bear with me. So many times when we’re writing something, fear loves to whisper in our ears. We start to doubt ourselves, what makes us qualified to write something? Who are we to think think that we have something special to say? Why do we think we can put a new spin on something that’s been written about a hundred times before? But the truth is, we can show something new, something unique. People see the world differently. Ten people can see the exact same situation and then tell you ten entirely different versions of the event. No one can see the story like you can. And when you stay true to yourself, that genuineness will draw others to you and your writing. So don’t try to be what’s popular or mainstream. Be yourself and tell your story your way. That’s what people really want to see.

2) Staring down the blank page

For me, the hardest part of any story is starting. You’ve had a story running around in your brain for weeks. Your characters have become your constant companions, whispering their stories into your ear day and night. So you pull out a pen and paper or sit down at the computer and…. nothing. Your characters have fled into the ether and all you’re left with is a gnawing in your gut and sweaty palms. The blinking cursor seems to be growing ever larger, mocking you with the pristine whiteness of the page. This moment can be pivotal, as you can either walk away or gut through it. Don’t give in to the blank page fears, your story deserves to be told. So take a deep breath and shove aside the worries about having the perfect hook and first chapter. All of that will come later. Right now, just start writing. It doesn’t even have to be the story line. Describe a character, write a scenery element, describe one of your characters favorite foods. Once you get words on the page, even if it’s only a handful, the fear of the blank page will magically diminish. Your characters will cautiously creep back and before you know it, they will be as loud and insistent as ever, wanting their story told right.

3) Perfectionism

This is one of the biggest fears of any writer. I can literally tear my work apart, criticize it until I’m to paralyzed, until I can’t write anything at all. In fact, I’m the hardest critic of my work. What you need to learn to do is turn off the inner critic. Instead, just write. Write the whole story. When you reread to clarify the story in your mind, turn off your inner editor and just focus on the story. Instead let the story flow and write until it’s done. There will be time to go back and edit, time to go back and fix all of the small mistakes, but don’t take away the joy of writing by focusing on making it exactly right. That will come later. And truthfully? Most of what seems glaringly obvious to you, other people will not see at all.

Bonus:

chained

Have fun. So many people think that writers are chained to their desks, scribbling or typing feverishly. They are stereotyped as being odd, super introverted, having weird quirks. While this is maybe true for a few, for the vast majority it is simply not. Authors tend to be fully engaged in life, always looking for something new, something that they can take and share with others through their books. They have stories that they want to share because they add color and joy to their lives. So live each day to the fullest, engage with the world around you, because you never know what you will find that will be worth sharing.

I really appreciate being invited to join in this blog hop by Author Toolbox. If you want to learn more check it out here:

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop or to join, click here.

 

Also, I would like to share real briefly, I just released the second book in my series The Seeker Files yesterday. If you would like to check it out, you can find it here: In Search of Healing: Seeker Files bk 2

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

 

It’s Finally Here!!!!

Hi Everyone,

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been rather absent from my blog for the past couple of weeks. Although it was partially because I was exhausted from the A to Z Challenge, I was also busy getting “In Search of Healing” ready for you 🙂

Book 2 cover

 

I’m so excited to announce that it is finally live on Amazon: In Search of Healing

 

Having survived her first few months at HSI, Agent Aletta is settling into her partnership with Lirim. She is coming to terms with her newfound gift and the threat to her welfare is finally over. Or is it?

Aletta had left everything behind to start over at HSI. But her past is not content to remain where it belongs, in the past. Drawn reluctantly back into her past, she and Lirim race against time at they try to figure out who is behind the attacks on the Canticum Opera Company.

Struggling to fully harness her gift and running from her past, can Aletta and Lirim figure out who is targeting the Canticum Company before time runs out?

 

Who’s excited to read?

Let me know if you’ve published something recently, I always love to discover new authors. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Friday Feature – Author Ann Parker

 

AnnParker headshot

Bringing the Past to Life through History-Mystery

 

I’ll begin with a big THANK YOU to Kat for offering me a chance to participate in her Friday Feature so I can introduce you to my Silver Rush historical mystery series.

 

My books take place primarily—but not entirely!—in 1880 Leadville, Colorado. Leadville is a real town up at the 10,000 foot mark in the Rocky Mountains. Why, you may ask, did I settle on setting an historical mystery series in Leadville? Well, as my Uncle Walt, a Colorado native, once enthused to me, “Leadville was the site of one of the biggest silver rushes in the world! People came from all over, thinking they’d get rich overnight…”

 

Since I have lived in California all my life, I well understood frenetic craziness that ensues when folks get hooked into the “get rich quick” frame of mind (think: dot-com boom, real-estate bubble, etc.).

 

Uncle Walt continued, “…They didn’t realize that you couldn’t just pick silver ‘nuggets’ up off the ground, and that’s when all the trouble started.”

 

Trouble indeed!

 

My uncle’s enthusiasm for Leadville was infectious, so I began to research Leadville and her history, and to fashion my characters. I decided to make my protagonist Inez Stannert, named after my paternal grandmother, who was raised in Leadville but never breathed a word about it to me, despite her love of telling stories of her life in Denver (yet another mystery!). My fictional Inez Stannert runs the Silver Queen Saloon in Leadville along with her husband’s business partner, Abe Jackson, a free man of color.

 

When the first book in the series, Silver Lies, opens, the reader quickly learns that Inez’s husband, gambler and all-around-charmer Mark Stannert, has been missing for close to nine months. What has happened to him? Did he perish by falling down one of the many mining shafts? Did he just “up and leave?” Is he alive or dead? Well, such questions were not easily answered in 1880 (no Social Security numbers for tracking people down, for instance). So, Inez and Abe carry on as best they can.

 

A woman running a saloon in the wide-open boomtown of Leadville is unusual, but not unheard of: in the 1880 census, 228 men claimed the occupation of saloon keeper or bartender, compared to 3 women. So, who is Inez? She is a woman in a man’s world. She runs a high-stakes poker game, holds her whiskey with the best, plays piano beautifully enough to “make the angels weep.” She also carries a Remington pocket revolver, because who knows when trouble will strike in this tumultuous town, where the law is overwhelmed by the lawless?

 

I conveniently set the Silver Queen Saloon on the corner of the business and red-light districts.  Between that and the general “silver-induced frenzy” the silver boom brought to this region, I had no trouble at all fashioning stories that weave real-life events into my fiction. For instance, in Silver Lies, folks are “dying to get rich.” In the second book, Iron Ties, I explore the (real-life) railroad wars that finally brought the iron horse to Leadville, as well as the plight of the town and railroad’s Civil War vets, many still suffering from the aftermath of the conflict 15 years after the war’s end. The third, Leaden Skies, features the arrival of former president and Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant to town on a five-day visit. I refer to this one as my “dirty politics” book. (The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such seems to be the course of human history.)

 

Of course, there are mysterious deaths, confidence games, tomfoolery of various kinds, and everyone has their secrets—even Inez, who I like to describe as a woman with a shadowy past, a complicated present, and an uncertain future. The series also provides a bit of romance… but I won’t say much about that in fear of spoilers.

 

As I said above, my series takes place mostly—but not entirely!—in Colorado. The sixth and newest book in my series, A Dying Note, finds Inez in 1881 San Francisco, California. Now manager of a music store, she is trying to forge a new life for herself in the “Paris of the West” and put her unsavory years in Leadville behind her. However, as the Kirkus Review of this book notes, “Leaving behind a life of secrets proves no easy task.” Inez carefully constructed life threatens to tumble about her ears when the badly beaten body of a young musician washes up to shore. Inez becomes entangle in the mystery of his death when the musician turns out to have ties to Leadville, ties that threaten to explore Inez’s notorious past.  Publishers Weekly praises the “fascinating period details, flamboyant characters, and surprising plot twists,” of A Dying Note, adding, “Parker leaves the reader longing to see what Inez will get up to next.”

 

As to what new mysteries and challenges Inez may face in the seventh book, all I will say is: stay tuned!

 

Ann Parker lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is a science writer by day and a crime fiction author by night. Her Silver Rush historical series, featuring protagonist Inez Stannert and published by Poisoned Pen Press, has won numerous awards, including the Colorado Book Award, the Colorado Gold Award, the Willa Literary Award, and the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award.

 

Find out more about Ann and her series at http://annparker.net/

On Wednesdays she blogs at http://silverrushmysteries.blogspot.com/

She spends way too much time on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/annparker.writer

And pins interesting historical bits from her research on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/annparkerauthor/

A to Z Challenge: Reflection

A-to-Z Reflection [2018]

When I first discovered this challenge, it was only a day or two before sign-up closed. I ended up making a snap decision to participate, hoping to build up my blog. It would be easy, right? After all, it was just a simple post every day except Sunday throughout the month of April. I could probably wing it. Maybe.

So signing up, I now had to chose a theme. Easy enough. This blog is all about writing, so I would make my theme Everything I Love about Writing. There! I was going to breeze through this. Then I stumbled over my first obstacle. I actually had to come up with subjects the fit this theme using every letter. Do you know how hard it is to find X and Z words? Neither did I.

My good intentions of getting all the posts written ahead quickly fell through and I was writing a blog post every day. That actually turned out to be fun as I could approach it from a fresh perspective. Also, as I mentioned several times during the month, I am a pantser, not a plotter. I had a master list of the subjects I had picked, but every new post was a delightful surprise.

For example, my theme was Everything I Love about Writing.  However, I realized that that was too one-sided of an approach to what I consider my writing journey. After all, how can you recognized good if you never see bad? So I expanded it to all aspects of my journey. Something that surprised me was my G post, G is for Grammar. I didn’t like that post, I don’t like grammar, it was the antithesis to my theme. It was one of the most popular posts from the entire challenge. Every post revealed something new to me, challenged me to change and grow.

A particularly fun part of the A to Z challenge was getting to blog hop to other bloggers. I only visited about ten consistently, but I was delighted to get to know them through their blog posts and A to Z journey.

So how can I sum up the A to Z challenge? I still don’t know what happened to April. I scrambled to keep up with the posting and comments. There were days when I felt like I fell far short and others that I felt like I’d won a gold medal. I got to met new bloggers and made some amazing friends over the course of this challenge. As my dad says, ‘Would I do it again?’ The answer is yes. I’m looking forward to next year.

My thanks to everyone who stopped by during this challenge, you’re the best!

 

Friday Feature – Stephanie Risner

Stephanie.jpg
Juggling the Muses
“I just love your covens and your OTS stories. When is the next one coming out?” The attractive blonde mother of two hands me the latest copy of one of my series novels and smiles down at me.
Two months from now,” I say, opening the book to the page I usually sign. I stop, pause, and double check the name on the front cover.
The woman, an avid fan of my work, raises a brow and gives me a quizzical look.
“Just making sure I sign the right name,” I tell her. We both laugh.
This is my life as a writer with multiple pen names. I have to double check before I sign, triple check to make sure I’ve put the right books in the right newsletter, and be careful I’m posting the right marketing material to the right Facebook fan page.
There’s a reason I have four pen names. No, that’s not a typo. I said four.  See, when I first started my writing career, I wrote non-fiction books and articles and had a column in a national trade magazine. S. Connolly was my original nom de plume. The initial S because in college I learned quickly that female writers were taken more seriously if their gender was removed from the equation, which could be done by using the initial of the first name, and then the surname. I did submit some of my early short fiction for publication under this pen name, but aside from a few semi-pro magazines, I never sold much.
By the time I’d sold my first novel, I’d already established S. Connolly as a non-fiction author. She had a track record and people expected computer, business, and accounting articles from her, as well as books about witchcraft and demonology.  They weren’t expecting family-friendly epic fantasy. When I sold my first fantasy novel I decided to once again go with initials (first and middle this time) and my married surname – S. J. Reisner. My family-friendly pen name was born.
Four years later I started writing an urban fantasy/supernatural mystery novel. It was bloody and contained language. The characters were shady, crass, and not family-friendly. The books were at least Rated R. I didn’t want my fans with milder sensibilities to be turned off by the potty-mouthed curmudgeons, occultists, and criminals of my grittier fiction. Audrey Brice (Audrey after a great aunt) sounded like a solid urban fantasy/supernatural/paranormal/thriller/horror pen name. That’s how I ended up with pen name three.
While writing said gritty supernatural series, I ended up writing a rather provocative scene in one of the novels that my critique group outright rejected. One of my critique partners said,  “It’s too graphic for urban fantasy-mystery. Have you ever considered writing erotica? You’re actually pretty good at it.”
On a whim, I wrote a few erotic romance novellas and a novel, just to get it out of my system. Also on a whim, I tossed them up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble just because – but under a secret pen name because I didn’t want family and friends to know I was writing trashy novels. It turned out my critique partner was right. I was pretty good at writing erotica. So when I started selling tens of thousands of copies, I had to come clean and claim Anne O’Connell. After all, I’m a firm believer you need to own what you write.  Anne, from my middle name JoAnn, and O’Connell being a play on my surname Connolly.
So, that’s how I ended up with the four pen names. About now, most people wonder how I manage all of them.
Aside from the aforementioned habits, I gave up on multiple websites and blogs long ago. Most authors barely have time to maintain one site, let alone four. These days all my domains point to one website.  That website also contains one blog. I password protect the rated X stuff.  I have one Twitter, one Instagram, and one of all the other social media venues an author should have.
The hardest part seems to be keeping regular release schedules for each persona. I do well with three of them, but S. J. Reisner is the one I slack on. My imagination tends toward the grittier fiction with Audrey Brice’s supernatural horror/thrillers at the top of my priority list.
The upside of having four pen names is that I can write whatever I want to write and it will fall into one of the pen names. I’m never bored because I always have four projects to choose from. I can usually get into any event with at least one of the pen names. My readers appreciate my use of pen names because it helps them find what they’re looking for. Many of the readers from one pen name will check out the other three, and will often end up reading across several or all of my pen names.
Yes, having four pen names is a lot of work and takes a lot of juggling, but if I had to do it all over again – I wouldn’t change a thing.
——————–
When she’s not juggling four pen names, Stephanie Reisner spends her free time with her husband and three cats, and a garden full of weird plants.  www. the-quadrant.com
Published As: S. Connolly, Audrey Brice, S. J. Reisner, Anne O’Connell
Recent Novel Releases:
Falling From Grace (Anne O’Connell) (erotic romance, Midnight Fantasy Press)  April 15, 2018
Eagle’s Talon Gray (S. J. Reisner) (sword and sorcery fantasy, Darkerwood Publishing) ISBN:978-1938839085
Thirteen Covens: Bloodlines (Part One) (Audrey Brice) (supernatural thriller, Darkerwood Publishing) ISBN: 978-1938839092
Get freebies and exclusive content – subscribe to my Newsletter(s)
Visit my website for more information, www.the-quadrant.com  [ Four Pen Names, Four Elements ]

Z is for Zest

Zest

 

No, not that kind of zest. I’m talking about the other types of zest.

 

Definition of zest

*An enjoyably exciting quality

*Keen enjoyment

Source: Merrian-Webster Dictionary

 

Over the past month, I’ve had lots of fun sharing with you Everything that I Love about Writing. I’ve covered a myriad of topics, some I never anticipated and others that turned out totally different than I set out to write. I got to read some phenomenal blogs and make some new blogging friends. But we have reached the end of the A to Z Challenge. So where do I go from here?

Well, right now I’m busy trying to make sure that everything is ready for my May 15th release of the next book in my series: In Search of Healing. It’s the second book in a six part series and I’m excited about its upcoming release. For my blog, I still plan on my Feature Fridays, plus I hope to start a serial story sometime in May.

But most of all, I plan to continue writing with zest. For many years, I hid my writing away as unimportant and not good enough. But my writing brings me joy and I hope that I’ve been able to share a small measure of that joy with you over the past month. So thank you for supporting my A to Z journey and I encourage you to live every day with zest and joy.

Here’s to a great 2018!

Y is for Yowl

We are now on our second to last post and I realize that I have been terribly remiss. While I have had a fabulous time talking about Everything I Love about Writing, I have left out an important part of my writing. My critics, cough, I mean, my cats. Whenever I sit down to write, they wake up and decide that it’s time to mess with me. Also, as anyone with cats know, you can learn great nonverbal body language from them which can be useful in writing. Did you know that cats do not meow to other cats, only to humans? I’ve watched my cats carefully after learning this and its the truth 🙂

So without further ado, let me introduce you to my writing assistants.

First up is Beni Tetu

 

She is the oldest of our kitties, coming in at four years old. One night in July four years ago, one of our dogs started her fear barking. We live in the country, so we were naturally concerned. Was it a coyote? A rattlesnake? Something else? We run out to look and to our surprise it was a tiny kitten that had her spooked. We live out in the country, so we had no idea where she had come from. After much discussion, she ended up being named Beni which means Blessed, and Tetu which means stubborn. She is our most independent kitty and comes and goes as she will.

 

Next come the boys, Indiana Jones and Valentino

 

Although they weren’t the prettiest kittens, they have grown into handsome Toms. At three years old, they are our biggest cats, weighing in at around 18 lbs. The black one is Indiana Jones, he was named that because he is an adventurer. The striped one is called Valentino because he’s a lover, not a fighter. Both have turned out to be incredibly sweet toms. Surprisingly enough, they are quick on their feet and are great hunters.

 

Next come the Ginger Girls, Lea and Munca

 

The girls just turned two last month. My brother’s cat got pregnant and because he has four little ones we took in the kittens to foster. 3 out of 5 went to other homes, but I simply became too attached to these two to give them up. Lea was originally a Leo until we found out that he was a she. Like how Calico cats are predominantly female, most orange tigers are male, with the ratio coming out to about 80/20. However we ended up with two females. Munca on the hand loved to climb across the top of her cage on the inside like she was doing monkey bars. We named her Monkey, but it is usually shortened to Munca. As seen in the above pictures, Munca loves to sleep in bowls while her sister Lea prefers the softer option of fleece. However, they love to snuggle together and get into trouble together 🙂

 

Rounding out this age group is Zazzles.

 

Around the same age as the gingers and a suspected half brother, Zazzles has a special story. My brother was driving home one night and found a kitten in the middle of the road injured. He brought him home and gave him a bath (and didn’t die for his impudence). His tail was broken but he was in good spirits and had a sweet disposition. My brother was unable to keep him as he was in a pet free rental, so he brought him out to the acreage. His tail healed up and other than a slight crook, you can’t even tell that it was broken. He is the most vocal of all of our felines and loves to love on all of us. I don’t know if you have ever watched the Big Bang Theory, but that is where we got his name from. “His name is Zazzles because he’s the Zazziest” – Sheldon Cooper

 

Finally, we have Duckie

 

Another rescue, Duckie is only 6 months old. We got her in October. Something happened to her mother and as it was around Halloween, some kids were talking about hurting her because she was a black cat. She was just a bitty thing when we first got her, only a few weeks old. She had obviously been crying for her mother and her throat was distressed, so when she meowed, she sounded like a duck. Although her throat has healed up, the name stuck. Although the smallest and youngest of the pride, she has no fear and loves to mess with all of her siblings. As you can tell from the picture above, she’s a sassy one. She is currently very unhappy with us as she was recently fixed and is being kept indoors until she is completely healed. However, give it a week or so and she’ll be right back to terrorizing the world, both inside and out 🙂

 

Also, I can’t write this post without a special mention.

Sassy 1

This is Sassafras T. also known as Sassy II a.k.a. Sassy. We sadly had to say goodbye to him this winter. He was my writing companion for 17 years and is sorely missed. However, he had quite the eventful life, full of fun and adventures, raised lots of puppies and kittens.

 

So tell me about your special writing companions 🙂

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