Archive for the 'pets' Category



Snacks for the soul
by Jessa Slade on September 14th, 2009

Currently working on: Unpacking the car trunk after a four-day camping trip and unpacking my mental trunk after Book 2 revisions
Mood: Purging

A writer, like any other triathlete, does her best work when properly fueled. 

Perhaps I should first justify my supposition that a writer is like a triathlete since one might not automatically think that marathon chair sitting and staring into space qualifies as an Olympic event.  But if you look closer…  There’s the wild flailing of idea generation, kind of like entering a vast lake where any direction is possible, but only one way will get you where you are going.  And then there is the grueling haul of the first draft, pedaling as fast as you can to get through it.  And finally there is the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, no-power-but-you revisions culmimating in a full-out sprint to the deadline.

You see why carrot sticks alone won’t get you to The End.

I wish my list of writer’s snacks made suitable reading for dieticians.  But at least I’m not William Burroughs composing through a heroin/morphine/opioid daze.  (Tangent: Burroughs NAKED LUNCH is 50 this year!  And here nobody thought it’d live past its thirties.)  Hello, my name is Jessa and I’m a snacker.

As regular readers might remember, I should have a corporate sponsorship from the makers of my bucket o’ cookie dough.  The English Bay double chocolate batter comes in 8 lb. buckets that are precisely calculated to get me through exactly one month of writing.  Between pre-heating the toaster oven and baking the cookies for 13 1/2 minutes, I can time a 20-minute session at the keyboard and then eat cookies guilt-free before returning, sugar-powered, to my scene.

Which is not to say cookies are my only snack.  When I have time, I like to bake from the Cake Mix Doctor’s Cookbook. (For quick ‘n’ easy recipes, her blog is here.)  Yes, yes, I realize I haven’t fallen far from the bucket o’ cookie dough tree with box mix cupcakes, but srsly, yum.

(No dogs were injured in the eating of this chocolate. What? You thought I’d share?!)

Other emergency back-up snacks include the French Silk Pie from Village Inn (no other chocolate cream pie will do), Trader Joe’s chocolate-coated Dunkers, or — in a pinch — Reduced Fat Oreos (which sounds absolutely ridiculous — why reduce the fat in an Oreo? Because they stay crispier in milk, that’s why).

And that’s just for First Snack.

Because of the extreme sugar content of my snacking (amateur snackers should build up their endurance before attempting such feats) by 10:30 pm, I’m in desperate need of more fuel.  In the summer, my sweet XY brings a plate of watermelon, peaches or blueberries, depending on the season.  Not only is this more sugar (yay!) but it is fruity, fibery sugar which is self-righteous sugar.  The best kind.

By midnight, though, the sugar receptors in my brain have burned out and I still have more writing to do.  This is the time known in my household as Second Snack.  Second Snack demands salt.  But I am far less cultured about my salts.  I’ve tried gray French salt and pink Hawaiian salt and mostly they just taste like salt to me.  Any handful of pretzels will take me through that last hour.

The trouble, of course, comes when I’m really pushing for The End, 2 a.m. rolls around and I’m still at my computer.  What now?  Sugar is done.  Salty is over.  That leaves, what?  The umami taste (that’s the “fifth taste” culinary types say is induced by MSG in foods)?  Actually, carry-out Chinese at 2 a.m. sounds perfect, but would require living in a much larger city than where I am.  Instead, I usually just brush my teeth.  This is comparable to the triathlete veering off the nicely cordoned path headfirst into the cheering crowd.  Ooh, the agony of defeat.

But there’s another race tomorrow night.  And I’ll be pumped for that.

A room of her own
by Jessa Slade on August 24th, 2009

Currently working on: Teaser prequel for SEDUCED BY SHADOWS
Mood: Ahead of myself

I am now contracted for four novels of the Marked Souls, so I am booked until 2011 and I’ll be writing like a fiend for most of that time.  Plus, the first book is coming out in October, and I’m get ready to knuckle down to the next two months of intense non-writing writing life stuff like promotions, book signings, and inventing new ways to avoid vacuuming.  So I’ve been thinking about whether my writing space serves me as well now that I’m a working writer.

I’ve posted this picture before, but let’s review.  Here is my office as it is today:

pets_dog

With the exception of the large mammal who isn’t me sitting at on the desk, overall this is a serviceable space.  It has all the key writerly pieces: A computer and a chair.  And Super Glue in the top front drawer.  Plus, it has a few extras: A cabinet to hold my junk, stacking cubbies to hold my more immediately necessary junk (dictionary, thesaurus, my writer’s altar, more Super Glue), inspirational art, and various writing buddies like my dog and geckos.

I know many writers crammed into closets and carving out chunks of the kitchen table every night who would be happy to have my space (with the possible exception of the dog) and so I am profoundly grateful to have it.

However…

I’m thinking I might need something more inspirational, considering all the pressure I’m under.  Maybe I need a satellite office.  Maybe somewhere warm and sunny…

ofc_trpc

Okay, maybe not.  The potential for distraction — not to mention a serious sunburn, always a consideration for the pasty, stuck-at-the-desk types – is too high.  And I need something with a little more discipline.  Maybe someplace like…

ofc_frtrs

Right.  Those walls are kind of helpful, holding in all the good ideas, concentrating my concentration.  But there’s still something a little off about this set up…

ofc_prsn

Ah, there we go.  Now the walls are on the right side.  The perfect office for the working writer.

Except somebody left the door open…

How about you?  Whether you are a writer, a quilter, a mom, or whatever, do you need freedom or discipline to get your work done?  Does the view out your window inspire you or distract you?  Or is it all a matter of balance?

Dog Star Rising
by Our Guest on June 8th, 2009

Today we’re excited to have author Jeri Smith-Ready with us talking about this week’s topic, our favorite childhood books.

Jeri will be stopping by throughout the day, so leave a comment or question for her and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of her latest romantic urban fantasy, BAD TO THE BONE, which features the vampire dog Dexter, among other dark and devoted heroes.

Smith-Ready pours plenty of fun into her charming, fang-in-cheek urban fantasy. — Publishers Weekly, starred review

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By Jeri Smith-Ready

Thanks to Jessa for inviting me to join you ladies on your fabulous blog! I was thrilled when she told me the topic, because I always relish the opportunity to dish about books I love, especially lesser known ones like DOGSBODY by Diana Wynne Jones.

I rediscovered my favorite childhood book only last year. I couldn’t remember the title or author, just that it was about Sirius the Dog Star, a short-tempered Luminary (a sort of deity) who was framed for murder and sentenced to live out the life of a dog on Earth. After almost an hour of searching online, I found the now-out-of-print book and ordered a used copy. There was much rejoicing.

I then had the pleasure of reading this book out loud to my own dog as she recovered from back surgery last December. It seemed to soothe her to put her head in my lap and listen to my voice. She didn’t even care how gracelessly I switched between the English and Irish accents.

Anyway, the book. The reader experiences everything through the mind of Sirius as he is born blind and deaf (and very, very hungry!), and then is tossed in a river with the rest of his mongrel brothers and sisters. He survives this ordeal with the help of the sun (Sol, who along with the Moon and Earth will later become a friend and helper) and is rescued by Kathleen, an Irish girl living with her English cousins while her father serves a prison term for his part in “the Troubles.”

As Sirius grows up, he realizes/remembers he’s more than just a dog, and that one of the reasons he’s been sent to Earth is to find a dangerous luminary weapon known as the Zoi. Problem is, he doesn’t know what it looks like or where to find it. Moreover, the pursuit of his quest tends to be sidetracked by things like butcher shops and bitches in heat. He is, after all, still a dog, and at first he laments his corporeal limitations. But when he faces an ancient power as old as the earth itself, it’s the love he inspires in his adopted family that ultimately sees him through his darkest hours.

DOGSBODY was the perfect novel for my nine-year-old self, for I loved animals and astronomy. But it’s a book that filled Grownup Jeri with as much wonder as it did Kid Jeri. As an adult, I was better able to appreciate the ambitious task Jones undertook in her attempt to marry a girl-meets-dog story with astro-mythical elements, plus a dash of Celtic legends.

To this day, I adore animals, and Sirius is still my favorite star (not to mention my choice in satellite radio carriers). I even married an astronomer and convinced him to adopt a dog. Talk about childhood dreams coming true!

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Jeri can be found at http://www.jerismithready.com and most often these days at http://twitter.com/jsmithready, along with the WVMP Radio series main characters Ciara Griffin (http://twitter.com/CiaraGriffin) and Shane McAllister (http://twitter.com/ShaneMcAllister).

Build A Pet
by Our Guest on March 26th, 2009

We plan, and God laughs.” That’s one of my friend’s mother’s favorite expressions. As a kid, I always thought — no, I knew — I’d have pets when I grew up…but what I didn’t realize at the time was that those occasional bouts with hives and asthma were going to get worse, not better. What had once been a mild inconvenience (it was really only the very furry cats, like Persians, that brought out the allergies), has become an all out roadblock when it comes to me and the cute and cuddly. I think I can safely blame this all on my mother, who simply kept a too clean house. They say kids need a little dirt, dust and dander to grow up healthy. See Mom, it really is all your fault. But we did have a nice house (she added begrudgingly).

But according to everyone else this week, every writer needs a furry pet to keep them grounded and inspired, to know they’re loved even when the rejection letters come. I feel so left out, so lost, so alone and forlorn. (You know, I never felt that way before Monday. Thanks a lot, guys!)

If only I could build my own pet, kind of like how kids build their own bears at that place in the mall. Maybe I could manage to invent a pet that didn’t make me sneeze. Hairless is out. I mean ick — no offense intended to anyone that owns a hairless pet — or IS a hairless pet — but…ick.

But if I could make my own pet, I’d call it Cat-Rat-Dog.

dogcatrat1

I’d start with Misty, the hypoallergenic (sort of) poodle who bears a suspicious resemblance to Spooks, the pooch in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day Mystery series. True to her breed, Misty is a real lady, pure class and style. I like that.

Then I’d add in some Hercules, a Yorky with attitude and no concept whatsoever of his tiny stature. Can you picture a Yorky with his hand on his hip and his chin in the air? I don’t care if he’s cornered by a snarling pit bull, Hercky’s response is, “Oh yeah? Come ‘ere. We’ll see whose bad.”

To balance out all that bravado, I’d mix in some Dallas, the scariest-looking boxer imaginable but a heart of gold. Maybe the sweetest mush-puppy ever born, he lets you know he loves you by leaning every ounce of pure, solid muscle against your legs until your knees start to buckle, or he sits on your feet. No one ever has the heart to tell him no.

To lend this animal an edge though, I’d give it some Pepsi — not the drink, but the outdoor cat I had as a teenager (I wasn’t totally deprived, just mostly). Pepsi had the run of the woods surrounding our house in Connecticut; he was King of the Forest and one tough nut. One of his more adorable habits was dragging his conquests up onto our kitchen doorstep to leave as tribute, I guess, or maybe he thought he had to pay for his food. We’re pretty sure he tangled with more than a few raccoons over the years and lived to tell about it, and in fact the only only animals truly safe from his rampages were the deer. They were just too big for him to take down, so I guess they managed to work out an understanding. Did I mention that Pepsi was 19 lbs? I know! We used to joke that he had no neck.

Lastly, this perfect pet of mine would have to have a touch of Rupie, my daughter’s little white and gray rat who wins the heart of everyone she meets. Her intelligence is astonishing sometimes — you can see her thinking…and planning. One of her favorite games is “Attack the Hand.” She’s joyful, playful, affectionate and not only that, she potty-trained herself. Is that cool or what?

So there you have it. Cat-Rat-Dog, my perfect pet who lives in my imagination, sits on my feet, perches on my shoulder, protects me, loves me, inspires me and never leaves calling cards on my floor.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Join us next Tuesday for a visit with historical and paranormal author, Bonnie Vanak!