Life on Pluto

I wrote some more flash fiction this week, but, wait for it, not on a Friday…

A fellow writer, Russell Conover, updates a dedicated Friday Flash Fiction blog and my story was in response to one he wrote. Both of us share a love of cats, and over the years we have created lots of stories about a fictional feline known as Alice’s cat.

Life on Pluto

If they send a cat to Pluto, its life expectancy increases by 20 years.

So, your average cat should live about 12 years. A Pluto-tripped cat has the potential to miaow for three times as long.

Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to humans. Their life expectancy decreases by 10 years.

Alice was yet to travel to Pluto. Though if she did, she could time her demise to fit in with that of her cat. A world without her precious pet didn’t bear thinking about.

She checked Rocket Flights 2Go. March’s special offers included half-price interplanetary travel.

She signed up.

 

You can also read more flash fiction on the flash fiction website here.

Cat in a Box!

cats in boxesLike many cats, mine loves a new box. I open it up, empty out the contents and in he jumps. There’s usually a bit of proprietorial scratching too as he marks it out as his new toy.

At least it distracts him from wanting to sit beside my laptop. It’s always the left side and it usually involves disabling the caps lock key. On a few occasions, he’s managed to turn the laptop off – two times, I was in the middle of composing complicated emails. The emails vanished. Once, I was updating a book, changing a few words here and there. That wasn’t saved either and I had to rely on my becoming-increasingly creaky memory.

Cat experts suggest you install a supervisory shelf in your home office – some kind of high-up structure that allows your cat to survey everything and sleep if he wants. I’ve tried putting a box with a blanket on my desk, just the blanket and a pile of paper. But nothing is quite as nice as the naked left-hand side of my laptop.

The non-cat lovers among you might be thinking the obvious: can’t you just shut him out of the room? For years, we’ve operated an open door policy. If there’s nothing a cat likes more than a new box, there’s nothing he hates more than a closed door. Besides, being head-butted by an attention-seeking cat is kind of cute, hmm?

The joys of working from home include spending more time with your loved ones, pets included.

Annoying Habits

RockyDear oh dear oh dear… recently, I thought it would be a good idea to add another cat to our household. Now, cats are notoriously territorial and my resident cat in particular is King Bee of the Area. He took to the new cat like a duck to… a shotgun? The Sahara Desert?

Cats that are confined indoors, rather like the new cat we adopted, find all kinds of ways to amuse themselves. One thing they like to do is knock stuff off shelves – and it was this particular habit that inspired some Friday Flash Fiction.

Annoying Habits

“My precious – where are you?”

Sod it. Lucia had lost her wedding ring. Some might argue that her fidelity had gone eons ago, but the ring bound her to a long-ago promise. The naked fourth finger of her left hand was too obvious for her liking.

The Cat sniffed. One of his little – some might say cute, some might say annoying – habits was knocking things off shelves. Spectacles, kirby grips, the occasional wedding ring* taken off for cleaning…

The Cat didn’t judge, but Lucia’s last affair had pushed certain boundaries. Tom’s youngest brother.

Who also happened to have a dog.

©Emma Baird 2016

 

*My wedding ring went missing for a week. It tuned up six days later, resting near the toilet. Hmm

 

One IS Fun

This week’s Friday flash fiction is a little wishful thinking on my part. I’ve just acquired another cat and I’ve spent the last few days stressing about it. Cats don’t need company – FACT. 

two cats“If one is fun, two must be amazing!” Alice trilled to The Cat.

The Cat regarded her balefully. Typical human. Imposing its wants on another species. Anthromo… Anthromorphos…

What was the darn word, anyway*?

The new companion arrived. Alice opened the carrier and he emerged, blinking.

The Cat sighed. Humans needed company. He didn’t. Who wanted more competition for food, water and places to sleep?

The little one sidled up. “Hey I know you are worried, but I promise it’s all going to be fine!”

Oh this was worse! If there was anything The Cat hated, it was a sook.

 

 

*Anthropomorphism – i.e. the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human species. It’s  considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.

Mad for the Mouse – The Disruptive Powers of the Cat

freddie next to computer

Gerroff my keyboard!!

I’m a fully-paid up member of the mad for moggies ladies club – so mad for them, I even wrote a book, Katie and the Deelans, where teenagers discover the power to change into cats. (Oh joy – can you imagine?!)

I’m not the only one to write a book with cats as the star. Editor, features writer and author Melanie Whitehouse was adopted by her cat, Gus, in 2003. He inspired her book The Tail of Augustus Moon (2008, Book Guild), which tells the story of Gus’s adoption of journalist Maisie and his experience of the chaos that is a 40-something woman in search of a man.

As a member of various writer forums, I’ve noticed a number of throw-away comments about cats and I began to wonder to myself: “Is there something to this ‘cats as inspiration’/’writers having cats’ feeling that I have?”

One thorough, scientific experiment later – well, a quick straw poll of a freelance women writers’ forum – and the results revealed themselves. Within minutes of posting up a question about cats, inspiration and how cats like to sit on your keyboard, I’d been inundated with responses.

And an awful lot of fabulous pictures of cats curled up next to laptops, cats sitting in in-boxes, cats taking up room on top of notebooks.

The overwhelming feeling was that cats make the writer’s life less lonely. In the main, freelancers work from home and the cat helps to make up for the lack of contact with human beings. Continue reading

Things Never To Do

freddie in food bowlWorried that you are that stereotype – single woman with cat, drinking wine alone on a Friday? Worry no more… A Japanese company has invented a wine especially for cats, so you can both drink wine together.

Called Nyan Nyan Nouveau, the drink contains juice from Cabernet grapes, vitamin C and catnip. (It doesn’t actually contain alcohol.)

Inspired by this, I created a short story using the characters from my first book. In my first book, friends Katie, Beanie, Chloe, Struan and Matthew have all discovered the most amazing piece of magic. They are deelans, people who can change into cats and have all kinds of other powers.

It’s all very well being able to hunt mice, fall asleep anywhere at any time and being able to jump more than five times your height, but what about other things – say, something a teenager might want to find out..?

Let Matthew tell you the tale…

Continue reading

Readers – Who Cares?

The cat mooching for food is Plan K.

The cat mooching for food is Plan K.

There’s a popular saying that I’m quite fond of – dance as if no-one’s watching…

I like to follow that advice myself, but as I tend to dance mostly in my own living room, no-one is watching anyway. Unless you count Google Maps’ sneaky satellite cameras beaming into our homes and my own peculiar moves might turn those cameras off right away anyway.

Let’s adapt that saying though – what about ‘write as if no-one is reading’? Or more importantly, as if you don’t particularly care if anyone does? I admit, defensiveness does motivate me here. “So, three trillion people aren’t reading my blogs – ah well, who cares anyway? I don’t need three trillion folks to read and comment on what I write.” That kind of thing y’know.

I love writing. It’s why I left my safe, well-paid office job and launched myself into the foolhardy venture of carving out a career as a full time writer. Plan A is that I complete the book I started last year (hey, two thirds of the way through), manage to get it published and it sells in sufficient quantities for me to make a living from it. The path to book selling, though, is littered with broken dreams and insane folks flogging books no-one knows about it, no-one reads and no-one buys.

So there’s Plan B too. Write a book, get it published and sell it in small quantities whilst also supplementing my income through freelance writing opportunities a la elance.com and people per hour.com.

Plans C and D also exist. Plan E is get a full-time job office job once more. Maybe I should make it Plan Z instead and figure out a few more creative options for how I can make money before that one has to be launched…

Create the world’s first paint-on non-orange fake tan? Make films of the cat mooching for food and turn him into a YouTube sensation, resulting in sponsorship from giant cat food manufacturer? Establish an online vintage shoe company? Write a diet book based purely on anecdotal evidence and with no scientific backing whatsoever?

But back to that writing for yourself malarkey. I’ll reference Joe Warnimont here, as that’s one of the messages he promotes. And if you aren’t actively trying to promote your blog (Facebook, Twitter, endlessly liking and commenting on other people’s stuff, finding guest bloggers, posting links to your blog on Q&A forums etc), then you can tackle any subject you want. I tried niche blogging – if you’ve ever Google-d anything relating to diet and fitness, you’ll realise why niche blogging is so incredibly popular – but my gnat-attention span wore out by post three and I soon resorted back to writing about anything which took my fancy that day.

My original understanding of a blog was that it was some kind of online diary. Blogging isn’t really about that any more – it’s about raising awareness, marketing your business, creating fresh content for your website, increasing traffic to websites and making money. Hey ho! For the moment, I’ll keep on writing as if no-one is reading. Creative fulfilment comes in many forms.

The Joy of the New

Aha! So that's where they have hidden the food...

Aha! So that’s where they have hidden the cat food…

So long January (almost) – glad to see the back of you.

Actually, scratch that. I’ve rather been enjoying 2013 so far (not least because I have my May wedding to look forward to) and there have been plenty of new and interesting experiences…

Many a Friday night has been spent sans wine, as have many other evenings. And you know what? Sobriety is OK. I won’t, however, be turning into an evangelical teetotaller as I’ve yet to find a soft drink that goes as well with cheese.

I wrote a piece of flash fiction. It is as it sounds, a very, very short story. The definition of short varies, but my story was 100 words and I wrote it for a competition to win a residential writing course. If anyone else is interested, I’m not afraid of competition (!) so here’s the link.

I had a Brazilian blow-dry. I now possess wavy, rather than curly hair. I’m pleased with the results but would caution any prospective customers to try the treatment out via a deals website. I don’t think the treatment is worth full price at all.

I took to using electrical appliance on my face to tighten it up. Ooh it hurts so is therefore good for me? One week in and I think I see a difference on the nose to mouth lines and my complexion looks brighter. However, it’s not particularly a scientific, controlled experiment. Maybe the better skin is down to all the fruit and veg I’ve been eating?

The cat was forced onto a diet. Unlike we humans, it’s much easier for a cat to diet, seeing as he gets no say in the matter. We weighed him and its turns out he has two pounds too heavy – pretty significant when you’re a wee beastie.*

As cakes have been absent of late, I made soda bread. Healthy baking hmm?
250g plain flour
250g wholemeal flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp salt
400ml buttermilk, or use 200g plain live yoghurt made up to 400ml with water

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Sift the flours and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Add in the salt and make a well in the centre. Add in the buttermilk or yoghurt and bring together quickly. It will be pretty sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead lightly for a minute.

Place in a 20cm round non-stick, loose-bottomed cake tin and mark the top with a cross. Cook for 40-45 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. (You’ll know it’s cooked as it will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Serve warm with butter and raspberry jam.

My final new experience of January takes place on Monday. I’m going to an NLP session to cure (hopefully) my addiction to blasted diet coke (ahem – two litres a day…)

 

*We’re a day past Burns Night; I had to throw in a Rabbie reference somewhere.