Pinky the Cat’s First Blog Post

This is me looking debonair. I’m a boy cat. I don’t know why they named me Pinky.

Pinky the Cat here.

E*en though I’m a cat, I’m a big fan of Danny the Dog who blogs down in Florida on Andrew’s boat.  If a dog can blog, why not a cat, right? Cat’s Rule! (I said that just because Danny thinks that dog’s rule.)

I’d almost gi*en up on blogging, and then this morning, I got my chance. This is my first post, and I need to type fast. My human, Diana, usually hogs the laptop, and I miss out on telling the world about my ad*entures. She’s not ha*ing a good day, so this is my chance.

Where is she? What happened to her? Well, that’s an interesting story.

As you might imagine, I am her greatest inspiration and most conscientious writing partner. While her muse is out gala*anting in the forest, I’m here sitting on her keyboard and practically telling her what to write. I also keep her warm.

Another thing I do is keep her healthy. If it wasn’t for me, she’d sit in her recliner all day without a break. I ha*e numerous strategies, all tried and true and 100% effecti*e. For one, I bite her when I want her to feed me. She doesn’t like that at all, but she feeds me anyway because she adores me and doesn’t want me to star*e while she finishes “one more chapter.”

Here, I’m helping with editing

Also, e*ery hour or so, I go outside through the cat door, run around the house, and scratch on the window screen until my claws get stuck. I do this rain or shine so she can play the hero and rescue me. It’s good for her self-esteem.

Finally, I shred anything made out of wood. Diana and I li*e in a log cabin so there’s a lot of wood to shred. She puts me outside and then I run around and scratch on the screen. Keeping humans healthy is hard work.

But back to my story about where she is.

When I’m keeping her warm, she can’t resist patting me. Who could? I’m soft and I purr. I know how to play to the audience. Naturally, my handsome pink hair gets all o*er her laptop. She wipes it off, but, occasionally, so much pink hair gets under the keys that some of them stop working. She gets out the *acuum cleaner hose and *acuums her laptop keys. Sometimes, that isn’t enough, so she pops off the keys, picks out the hair, and snaps the keys back on. That usually does it.

You might wonder why she goes to all this trouble, but I am irresistible. Enough said.

Well, yesterday, a particular key wasn’t working, so she pried it off. She cleaned out my hair and popped the key back on. I don’t think she paid enough attention because she didn’t click it back on all the way. This morning, she used the *acuum cleaner. And you can guess what happened. Yup, the *acuum sucked up the key! You should ha*e heard her curse.

So, right now, she has the kitchen floor co*ered in plastic and she’s dissecting the *acuum cleaner bag looking for her little black key. She’s making a bigger mess than I e*er make. I think it’s almost time for a new laptop.

Thanks for reading my first blog post. Uh oh, here she comes. Where’s that publish button? There it is!

Sunday Blog Share: My Midnight

My Midnight

by Richard Ankers

She bathed in the waters of the midnight sea unlit by the vibrant moon. Mysterious in her dark allure, she radiated a misting shade far beyond that of the night. An ebony presence outlined by rivulets of flowing stars, her slender figure slipped through the surf in silence. Even the sea gods shied from touching so divine a darkness. Her purity demanded it…

Continue Reading: My Midnight

The Rose Shield – Kari’s Reckoning

Catling’s Bane, the first book in The Rose Shield tetralogy is nearing the finish line, and unless some unforeseen computer meltdown halts all progress, it should be out… next week!

The rest of the books are slogging their way through my list of double-checks including Book 4: Kari’s Reckoning. Below is a little snippet. I took out the important names – so no hints (and a few extra pronouns). Stay tuned.

Kari’s Reckoning

He carved woads into his own skin, scored his cheeks and hairline, sliced grooves into his chest and arms. He notched his ears and slashed his shoulders and thighs. Blood ran down his legs and arms, dripped from his chin and fingers. He flayed Guardian’s dagger from his forearm and would have found another place to carve if Lian hadn’t ripped his knife from his hands and flung it into the forest.

The Farlander heaved him up and carried him to the pond. The water glowed and whirled, rich with luminescence. He staggered into the freezing fluidity and lay down, sinking beneath the surface. The light retracted and surged back, clung to his skin, and burrowed into his flesh. His wounds burned. Luminescence swirled with his blood, entered his veins, and lit him like a brand. He rose for a breath and sank again, eyes open, his vision filled with divine brightness.

The world spoke to him, not with words but emotion, an ancient message extending back through eternal time. His blood leached out, blending with the planet’s soul, every fiber connected across the land and water and air, the living and dead. The world drew on his life, tasted its richness, and integrated him into the pattern. Life surged around him and exploded into him, unstoppable and larger than he and those he lost, all of them forever part of the whole. The sensation was love, but not the feeling of love. All the emotions, fear and sadness, joy and pleasure, anger, and passion blended into the rich and poignant elixir of life.

He gasped for breath and floated, his irises reflecting the three moons and a night drowned in stars. The fire in his veins abated and the sting in his wounds faded. The owl called its lonely song. He closed his eyes and rested in the cold light.

Next Week!

Writing Chapter One – Tips

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I’ve wanted to write about first chapters for a while, primarily because they’re so important. After all, they’re the gateway to Chapter 2 and getting a reader to Chapter 2 is a fantastic idea.

I did some research and almost instantly the rule-resistant rebel in me kicked in. She’s the writer who scowls at formulas, who insists that form has to fit the story, not the other way around. She’s the reader who doesn’t want to read the same story over and over with different titles.

Well, I suppressed the first-born smarty-pants part of my personality and learned a few things.

First, I learned that there are actually a number of perfectly legitimate types of first chapters. Writer’s Digest has a great article by Jeff Gerke that describes 4 approaches with examples (summarized here):

  • The Prolog – A prolog is an episode that pertains to your story but does not include the hero (or includes the hero at a time well before the story proper begins, when he’s a child). It might not be “Chapter 1” per se, but it can serve as a legitimate opening—if it works.
  • The Hero Action Beginning – In a hero action beginning, the hero is onstage, doing something active and interesting related to the launching of the core story (it need not involve explosions and car chases, but it certainly can).
  • The In Medias Res Beginning (in the middle of things ) – With in medias res, you start at a point deep in the story, show a bit of activity to intrigue the reader, and then you hit the rewind button and spend some or all of the rest of the book catching up to that moment.
  • The Frame Device – The final major way of beginning your first chapter is to use a frame device. In this, your story is bookended on the front and back (and usually a few instances in the middle) by a story that is outside the main story. The primary tale is framed by this other story.

With that out of the way, I went in search of tips that apply to Chapter 1’s regardless of the book, tips that I could apply as I conceive of, write, and edit my stories. As usual, there are exceptions to these tips, and the list is not exhaustive.

Context: Backstory, Setting, and Detail

  • Avoid backstory. Include the bare minimum necessary and trickle the rest in as needed.
  • Don’t overdo setting. Give a smattering of strong, vibrant details to establish a sense of place and time. Then fill in the rest later as the story unfolds.
  • Connect the character to the setting so it isn’t just a backdrop. You might show how the character interacts with the setting.
  • There’s no need to skimp on details that serve the story. If your story is about snipers, give sniper details. Make sure they’re sharp and interesting. Avoid being vague. Write tight!

Structure: Theme, Mood, and Plot

  • Start the book as late in the story as you can. Does your story still work if you start with Chapter 2? If so, Cut chapter 1.
  • Write a great first line. A great first line grabs the reader’s interest.
  • The theme is the argument that the story is making. The first chapter should hint at theme.
  • Establish your mood. Ask yourself how you want the reader to feel while reading the book.
  • Think of every chapter as a short story with a mini-plot and conflict, especially Chapter 1.
  • Avoid telegraphing. Let the immediacy of the action carry the chapter to the end. Keep your pov tight.

 Character

  • Most writing experts will recommend introducing your protagonist in the first chapter. Some recommend introducing your antagonist as well. Avoid opening with other characters talking about the main character.
  • Make your reader care about your character. How is the character at risk?
  • Have your character engaged – active versus passive.
  • Not absolutely necessary, but dialog is a great way to reveal character, and conflict and manage pace.

Conflict

  • Have some sort of conflict – physical, emotional, or mental. Conflict disrupts the status quo. Conflict is drama and it’s interesting.
  • You don’t need to spell out the stakes for the entire book in chapter one, but hint at why the conflict matters.
  • A note on action: Rip-roaring action might be fun, but it’s best if the reader cares about the character. Without an investment in character and context, an action scene can feel shallow.

Hooks

  • End your first chapter and each chapter with a moment of mystery, an introduction of conflict, or a twist of the tale. It doesn’t have to be a huge one; it just needs to be intriguing enough to propel the reader forward.
  • Mystery. While action needs context, one of mystery’s strengths is that it makes the reader wait for context. It’s okay not to explain everything. At the same time, mystery does not equal confusion – find the balance.

Happy Writing!

Sunday Blog Share: Desperation Underneath The Ink Of Humility

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Desperation Underneath The Ink Of Humility

By Devereaux

As the wind blows

ripping fast across my back

I think of light, near and far

and a call to come home

It’s nearly eight

not too late

but I feel the urge to write

and call to come home

I’m here, alone

like you normally find me

If you kept a calendar, you’d always know

that I’ve always wanted to go home

As the twinkling dots amass in size

I close my eyes

and forget the time

that I wanted to go home…

(Continue Reading: Desperation Underneath The Ink Of Humility)

Oregon Moss

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The moss in the Oregon rainforest is magical.

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I discovered it during my first spring here when it rained 29 days straight.

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It grows on almost anything and the varieties are astonishing.

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On my fence, I find elfin gardens and green seascapes.

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The alders are adorned with brittle beards growing on air and rain.

frontyard8-dianapeach-jpgThe stumps of long-dead forest giants sprout with tufts of feathery growth.

Spring is coming. So is the Moss!

Bridge #writephoto

beneath-the-bridge

I wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, which is why I never told my mum about the man below the bridge. She wouldn’t have tolerated him with his frayed coat and dirty fingers. His eyes had a little shine in them, even in the shadows, as if he’d left a light on inside his head.

After my chores, I’d ask mum for jam sandwiches, biscuits, and a sliced apple for a tea party with my friend under the bridge. She thought the old fellow was a fairy child, flitting in my imagination like a moth, and she liked me out from under her feet.

My doll, Miss Penny, and I would tote our basket down the hill and tiptoe across the stepping-stones. My friend waited in our castle’s cool darkness while I propped Miss Penny up against the wall and brewed pretend tea. We’d share our feast and sip from invisible cups as proper as the queen. Miss Penny always smiled, enjoying the party as much as we. Then he’d tell us stories of his travels to India and Africa, of riding elephants, and diving for pearls, and climbing mountains in the snow. One day, Miss Penny decided to stay in the castle under the bridge to keep my friend company.

Then, my mum packed us up, and we moved to America.

That was forty years ago.

My husband is golfing with colleagues, and I have a precious morning to wander through the old haunts of my tender years. I rent a car for a drive into the country. The old home is still there, smaller and empty. The roof sags and ivy consumes the sunny walls. But it isn’t the home I’ve come to visit. I tote my basket, my jam sandwich, biscuits, and apple down the hillside and tiptoe across the stones through the stream.

I know my friend isn’t there, but the eight-year-old child inside me hopes anyway. I hear his stories whisper from the castle beneath the bridge, in the brook and trees, in summer’s heated air, and I find his bones, Miss Penny still smiling in his arms.

**

Thanks once again to Sue Vincent for her wonderful Thursday photo prompt. Visit her at The Daily Echo and join the fun.