Applying The Wisdom of Cats to Your Writing Life | #quotes

Once upon a time, a very good friend gave me a gift. I suppose this gift should have been used as intended, it is a book of postcards after all, but I couldn’t part with the quotes; therefore it remains on my bookshelf.

You see, the title of this postcard book is: The Wisdom of Cats and my love of felines is notorious. Hoarding these gems of wisdom seems selfish, and while I can’t share the illustrations with you because of copyright laws, I think the quotes can safely be shared as long as I credit the persons who said them, most of whom are writers.

So let’s start this series of posts with a quote from American Writer, and author of All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat, Suzy Becker:

“I learned from my cat to go barefoot, obey instincts, and claim your own chair.”

Photo provided by Andreas Krappweis and freeimages.com

Photo provided by Andreas Krappweis and freeimages.com

How can we writers apply this quote and its wisdom to our writing lives? When I first contemplated the quote I easily related the instincts and chair portion to my writing life, the barefoot part stumped me. For a while. I’ll address that part of the quote last.

Obey Your Instincts

The cat is correct – obey your instincts. With all the rules out there about how to write and how not to write we sometimes lose our style and confidence. Maybe you should end that sentence with a preposition because it is more effective that way. Go ahead and have a large cast of characters in your novel; it sure hasn’t hurt George R.R. Martin. To add a prologue or not? Some say avoid them. I agree with our feline friends, follow your instincts.

Claim Your Own Chair

Yes! Yes! Yes! Creative types need a comfortable place to work. If you’re a writer, a comfy chair, sofa or bed is essential. You can’t concentrate on your characters if your back is hurting, or your butt is numb. Wherever you choose to write, make sure it fits your needs so you can focus on your work, shutting out the rest of the world, if only for a little while.

Go Barefoot

Did you know that going barefoot improves your balance? We revere cats for their balance, their ability to land on their feet. Balance is only one benefit from going barefoot. Studies on ‘Earthing’ – that’s what they call going barefoot these days – show “health benefits come from the relationship between our bodies and the electrons in the earth.” Source

Some of those benefits:

  • moderates heart rate variability
  • improves glucose regulation
  • reduces stress
  • boosts immunity
  • decreases blood viscosity (a factor in heart disease)
  • regulates endocrine and nervous systems
  • chronic pain patients experience less pain

Remaining healthy should be a priority for everyone. When we feel well we perform functions better. As someone who suffers from chronic pain, I know how disruptive a migraine can be. I think it’s time to toughen up my feet and do some walking around barefoot.

Cats have it right. Don’t doubt it for a minute.

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A Reader Opines: Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

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Lone Survior: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson
Published: 2007 by Little, Brown and Company (first published June 12th 2006)
Genre: Biography | Autobiography | War | Military History
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

A book such as Lone Survivor isn’t read simply for pleasure. Choosing it for that reason would only lead to disappointment. I chose it for multiple reasons: curiosity, research for the novel I’m writing, the movie hype and patriotism. It didn’t fail me on any of those counts. After reading the last page, my questions were answered, my curiosity sated and my comparisons made, all without compromising my patriotism.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America’s warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Reading Lone Survivor was like having a conversation with Marcus Luttrell, or rather sitting with him as he told about his experiences. I felt like I could stop at any moment and ask a question and he’d answer, but the narrative is such that I didn’t want to interrupt.

This book isn’t for the faint of heart; it holds truths that are harsh and ugly. But for those that possess an unwavering love of the United States of America, it’s a testament to the lengths our military will go to serve. It also gives insight into the workings of terrorists and their hatred for what we hold dear. In between, it reveals a narrow gray area where the ancient tradition of lokhay warkawal saved the life of a Navy SEAL.

There were times the writer in me cringed. For example: “And then, very suddenly, a great fog bank rolled in…” That, ‘very suddenly,’ is a double whammy no-no. But in the next paragraph you get something beautiful: “I remember looking down at it, moonlit clouds, so white, so pure, it looked as if we could have walked right across it to another mountain. Through the NODS (night optic device) it was a spectacular sight, a vision perhaps of heaven, set in a land of hellish undercurrents and flaming hatreds.” A splendid visual.

Lone Survivor is a book that I will carry in my mind for a long time, it isn’t easily forgettable. While I’d like to recommend it to everyone, I know there are those that can’t or won’t enjoy it. Luttrell has no ‘love’ for the media or liberal politicians and he gives valid reasons for his stance. If you count yourself among one of those groups, but are willing to see things from his perspective, I encourage you to read the account of Operation Redwing. Of course, pro-military individuals should, and probably already have, read it.

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5 Fictional Books in the Tardis Library #doctorwho

Nerd AlertDid you know their are multiple definitions for Whovian? They all pertain to fans of Doctor Who, but still… Basically, a Whovian “is one of the types of fans of the long-running tv series Doctor Who. A Whovian is known to love all things Doctor Who related.”

Calling me a Whovian wouldn’t be a mistake, but it would be more apt to refer to me as Whovian Light. I’m NOT into Cosplay, but I’d LOVE to travel in the Tardis. :)

Anyway, as a Doctor Who fan I do own books about the long running series and have discovered some very interesting facts.Tardis As a writer and book lover, I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the fictional (not fiction but rather not based in reality) books that reside in the Tardis Library:

  • Bartholomew’s Planetary Gazetteer: A guidebook detailing planets.

    The character Romona read it during the episode The Ribos Operation.

    The classic series – The Ribos Operation: Season 16, episodes 1 through 4. First aired: 2, 9, 16, 23 Sept 1978. Fourth Doctor portrayed by Tom Baker.

  • The Black Orchid by George Cranleigh: Published in 1925, an account of Cranleigh’s travels.

    The Doctor thought it was fascinating. It appeared or was mentioned in the episodes Black Orchid and Earthshock.

    The classic series – Black Orchid: Season 19, episodes 18-19. First aired: 1, 2 Mar. 1982. Fifth Doctor portrayed by Peter Davison.

    The classic series – Earthshock: Season 19, episodes 20-22. First aired 8, 9 & 15, 16 Mar. 1982. Fifth Doctor portrayed by Peter Davison.

  • The Book of Old Time: The official history of the early Time Lords.

    It is mentioned in The Deadly Assassin.

    The classic series – The Deadly Assassin: Season 14, episodes 9-12. First aired: 30 Oct. 1976, 6, 13, 20 Nov. 1976. Fourth Doctor portrayed by Tom Baker.

  • The definite work on the Weeping Angels (actual title unknown): The only book ever written about the Angels.

    According to the Doctor it was “written by a madman, barely readable, bit boring in the middle, no pictures.” It’s featured in the episode The Time of Angels.

  • The Time of the Angels: Season 5, episode 4. First aired: 24 Apr. 2010. Eleventh Doctor portrayed by Matt Smith.

  • Everest in Easy Stages: Tibetan text.

    Read by the Fourth Doctor in the hope of discovering tips on how to climb out of the Chloris Pit in the episode The Creatures from the Pit.

    The classic series – The Creatures from the Pit: Season 17, episodes 9-12. First aired: 27 Oct. 1979, 3, 10, 17 Nov. 1979. Fourth Doctor portrayed by Tom Baker.

There are more fictional (as well as real) books in the Tardis library and I’ll share them with you in future posts.

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A Reader Opines: Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Published: October 23rd 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy | Paranormal
Series: Beautiful Creatures #4
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s something about the end of a series that is both fulfilling and sad. You finally have the resolution of the overreaching arc and yet it also marks the end of your time with the characters (unless you re-read the books). I enjoyed Beautiful Redemption, but it didn’t resonate with me as the other books did.

Summary taken from Goodreads:
Is death the end . . . or only the beginning?

Ethan Wate has spent most of his life longing to escape the stiflingly small Southern town of Gatlin. He never thought he would meet the girl of his dreams, Lena Duchannes, who unveiled a secretive, powerful, and cursed side of Gatlin, hidden in plain sight. And he never could have expected that he would be forced to leave behind everyone and everything he cares about. So when Ethan awakes after the chilling events of the Eighteenth Moon, he has only one goal: to find a way to return to Lena and the ones he loves.

Back in Gatlin, Lena is making her own bargains for Ethan’s return, vowing to do whatever it takes — even if that means trusting old enemies or risking the lives of the family and friends Ethan left to protect.

Worlds apart, Ethan and Lena must once again work together to rewrite their fate, in this stunning finale to the Beautiful Creatures series.

I tore through the first third of the book, totally engrossed in Ethan’s plight. Each revelation, each obstacle pulled me along. When the pov switched to Lena in the second third, I was a bit disappointed. I understood the reason, but missed Ethan’s voice.

This final book of the series is basically a death and resurrection story, and while it has unique characteristics I couldn’t help thinking about The Deathly Hallows. The handling of good versus evil throughout the series is what intrigued me and I found the finale to be a bit overdone. It does, however, work, and provides a satisfying conclusion.

Book one and three are my favorites – the odd ones, of course. Overall the series was enjoyable.

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Warrior Wednesday: Army Sgt. Ethan C. Hardin

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Army Sgt. Ethan C. Hardin

Oct. 8, 1985 to Jan. 7, 2011

Ethan Hardin joined the U.S. Army in January 2006 and after completing training was stationed at Fort Irwin, California and in Germany before arriving to Fort Polk in March 2010. Hardin previously deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from November 2008 through October 2009. Hardin’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, ,Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Hardin was posthumously promoted from the rank of specialist to sergeant after he was killed Jan. 7, 2011 of wounds suffered at Logar Province, Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire.

If any of the information I’ve shared is incorrect or you have something to add, please comment or contact me through the link in the top menu or button on the bottom right of your screen. Verification of facts are always welcome.

The protagonist of my WIP is a physical therapist who works with wounded vets. Through my research I’ve discovered patriots that leave me awe-filled, many of whom gave their life for their country. If I’ve learned only one thing, it is these soldiers don’t do what they do for notoriety, they love their job, their country and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. I encourage you to do a bit of research on these warriors, but keep in mind that initial media reports often contain unverified information and for security reasons many details of operations are never revealed.

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The Eight Classes of Interjections

On my bookshelf is a fun little book called, Zounds! A Browser’s Dictionary of Interjections. I love this book and have high praise for the patience of its author Mark Dunn. It couldn’t have been easy to compile this dictionary.

My intention was to share some of the interjections and their origins with you, but because interjections are so hard to define I thought a brief overview of where they fit into language should come first. I’ll share some of the actual interjections in later posts.

So, here they are…the eight classes of interjections:

Exclamatory and Other Emotive Responses

According to Dunn, “The words lie somewhere between the voluntary and the involuntary.” Some examples: ow, aha, oh, oops, ouch, oy, wow, yuck.

In context:

Expletives and Their Euphemisms

“[G]rabbing the smuttiest word we can think of to put a fine point (or not so fine point) on our emotional state at a given moment.” Examples (without being extreme): damn, dang, Holy Toledo, jeepers, Jeez Louise, shit, shoot.

In context:

Volitive and Imperative Interjections

Expression of wants and desires or behests and requests. “They pride themselves on their brevity and pithiness.” Examples: ahem, attention, halt, psst, sh, shoo.

In context:

Utilitarian Interjections

In Dunn’s words: “These require specific circumstances for their employment. Very specific. People do not parachute out of planes yelling “Sacajawea.” Examples: banzai, cheers, eureka, fore, Geronimo, gesundheit, peekaboo, present, thanks, timber, upsy daisy.

In context:

Commentarial Interjections

“These words, often steeped with sarcasm and attitude, are among the most enjoyable of the lot, although on occasion you will hear them and just want to slap the impertinent speaker silly.” Examples: as if, boo hoo, whatever.

In context:

Greetings and Farewells

Self-explanatory. Examples: adieu, ahoy, buenas noches, hello, how do you do?, toodle-oo.

In context:

Affirmations and Negations

Again, self-explanatory. Examples: absolutely, not, roger, yessiree.

In context:

Linguistic Mortar

Those fillers for “incomplete, sometimes faltering, un-pre-thought-out sentences” that give the speaker “an extra nanosecond to compose a thought before emission.” Examples: eh, like, okay, ur-uh, well, why.

In context:

I hope this has helped clear up the different ways to use interjections, if not, at least it was entertaining. ;) Look for future posts in which I share specific interjections and their origins.

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Poetry: What Lips My Lips Have Kissed by Edna St. Vincent Millay

At this month’s meeting of Poets Northwest, I presented a program about Poetry and Emotion. Millay is my favorite poet and I used her poem Themes and Variations II as an example. Sometimes, when you hear the right person read a poem, it tugs harder at your emotions than merely reading. This video is a perfect example:

Frances Sternhagen recites What Lips My Lips Have Kissed by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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