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So here's recent progress on my young adult haunted house story about a long-lost adventure pulp comic manuscript that's guarded by a good ghost and a bad ghost; now with Bonus! gentrifying drama, golden-age mystery, Hollywood intrigue, fallout from The Storm, and an agent who's just trying to do the right thing, goddammit:

    Project: Drawing Fire
    Deadline: November, 2015
    New words written: 2004 (cumulative)
    Present total word count: 33,381

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Waiting for breakfast; reading some comics; testing the theory that all knowledge is contained within the internet.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: Neighborhood jaunts with the dog; supper with a friend; more housework; more laundry - as I need to pack for Chicago; went to grocery store; went to post office.

    Other: Kittengrams.

    Travel Other: Oh yeah, Chicago. Or rather, Naperville - if you want to get particular about it. I'm leaving Thursday for the Anderson Bookshop's Young Adult Literature Conference. Huzzah!

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 89,399
So here's recent progress on my young adult haunted house story about a long-lost adventure pulp comic manuscript that's guarded by a good ghost and a bad ghost; now with Bonus! gentrifying drama, golden-age mystery, Hollywood intrigue, fallout from The Storm, and an agent who's just trying to do the right thing, goddammit:

    Project: Drawing Fire
    Deadline: November, 2015
    New words written: 2204 (cumulative)
    Present total word count: 31,377

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Back at the Agony House, with a pocket recorder and some scary news.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [In general, since last post] Neighborhood jaunts with the dog; got a check; went to the bank; went grocery shopping; cleaned the house; did a crap-ton of laundry; did supper - and then lunch/sightseeing (a little) with some awesome out-of-town guests; attended a funeral.

    Other: Yes, the word count is low. But see above. It's been a busy handful of days over here.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 87,39

* * *

As mentioned above, a couple of lovely out-of-towners came passing through this weekend. We got supper at the superlative 210 Jack (in Warehouse Row), then scored fancy chocolates across from the Choo-Choo; then the next day we grabbed lunch.

I say this, like they were here to visit me and my husband. Mais non. They came to snorgle the crap out of our pets. (Which was awesome - just ask Greyson :) )

* * *

After lunch on Saturday, I attended the memorial service for this man. If his name looks vaguely familiar, I thanked him profusely and/or dedicated my first novel to him (and a few other people). He was one of the single greatest teachers I ever had. Nay, one of the greatest I've ever even heard of. If it tells you anything, I took several classes in subjects I cared nothing about - purely because he was the man presenting them. And I never regretted a single one.

I didn't want to go alone, for complicated reasons - so one of my old roommates (and fellow students) went with me. I'm glad she suggested it.

Dr. Haluska never told me that the stories I wrote were dumb, or low-brow, or immature. He even took me shooting once, because he felt that my handling of firearms could be stronger in my early works - making special note of which ammo/firearm combinations would've had the most gruesome impacts on things like oh, say, zombie skulls. We used paint cans as a stand in.

In every single book I've ever published, there has almost certainly been an Easter egg inspired by one of his lectures or conversations. (Once in awhile, old students will drop me a note - having found one.) He wasn't just quotable, he was thoughtful, and keenly observant.

Back in 2013 - very shortly before he retired - I went back to campus with my college roommate (and also fellow student). I was freshly back in the city, and my roommie was visiting from England. Sure, we'd graduated 15 years previously, but we couldn't just not stop by. In the end, we hung out in his office for a couple of hours, gabbing and catching up. He didn't have to make time for us. Hell, maybe he shouldn't have. But I'm intensely grateful that he did.

Some of his students used to jokingly call him "Ol' Ramrod" for his posture and his presence ... but less jokingly for his adamantium personal integrity. He always both commanded and offered respect. In no uncertain terms, he was a great man.

Dr. Haluska wasn't a comics guy, but I think he'd "get it" if I'd ever told him (and I should've told him, but I never got around to it) that the following panel has always made me think of him.

Thanks for reading.

All of her lovers all talk of her notes

So here's recent progress on my young adult haunted house story about a long-lost adventure pulp comic manuscript that's guarded by a good ghost and a bad ghost; now with Bonus! gentrifying drama, golden-age mystery, Hollywood intrigue, fallout from The Storm, and an agent who's just trying to do the right thing, goddammit:

    Project: Drawing Fire
    Deadline: November, 2015
    New words written: 4124 (cumulative)
    Present total word count: 29,173

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Introduced the agent who's not an agent, and doesn't want to be an agent...but she might be able to help. Somebody's made her an offer she can't refuse.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [In general, since last post] Neighborhood jaunts with the dog; got a couple of paychecks, yay!; paid taxes, boo!; went to the bank; went to the grocery store a couple of times; filled out a couple of interviews; a number of phone calls; got my house decorated for Halloween (SHADDUP it is not too early); made another vet appointment for Quinn's final round of kitten shots and/or consult about getting her spayed/chipped; tweaked my new website; kept The Cooj for another round of dog-sitting; ordered birthday presents for my husband (a little early, actually, but there was a good sale); cleaned house; did a crap-ton of laundry.

    Other: I was hoping for a word count more like double the one I'm posting, but so it goes. I've had a lot going on, not all of which is recorded above. I'm doing my best to double down and get this draft sorted out, but every damn day there's some new interruption that eats my afternoon. Example: Tomorrow, Quinn's vet appointment is at 2:00. Right in the middle of prime prose time. [:: sigh ::] If it ain't one thing, it's another.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 85,175

In closing - and speaking of our newbie...
...she's fitting in better, and wreaking more havoc around here every day.

Goodnight, everyone!
Thanks for reading :)

All the vampires walkin' through the valley

Okay! I'm coming up for air, at long last. It took 110% of my post-DragonCon attention span, but I finally finished the rewrite of The Family Plot and sent it off over the weekend. Now it's headfirst back into Drawing Fire ... a first draft of which is due on the first of November. So that gives me what, five weeks to write 2/3 of a novel + accompanying comic masterpiece?

Yeah. So. Here goes nothing, right?

I spent yesterday re-reading the 80 pages or so I've got finished so far, refamiliarizing myself with the content and making a few tweaks and notes, here and there. I also laid out the material for the next chapter, and will get started on that either this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I meant to get a jump on it today, but the truth is I've been playing catch-up for all the stuff I put off while I was eyeballs deep in The Family Plot.

I mean, no lie - for 2+ weeks I didn't clean the house, go grocery shopping, do laundry, answer email, or do much of anything except stare at my laptop and try to bang the story into submission.

Well, I might have hypothetically taken a bunch of pictures of the household's four-footed members.

Speaking of, everyone is doing quite well. Quinn is 3-4 months old now, and growing like a weed. She and Greyson are absolute besties; she and Spain are...roommates. But Quinn is working on it. She is DETERMINED to achieve Full Snuggle with Spainy one of these days - and for now, she's allowed (a). intermittent close proximity, and sometimes (b). a single paw of contact. I have about a dozen pics similar to this one, with a sleeping ElderCat and an opportunistic TinyCat pushing her luck with one wee foot.

This is about as close to Proper Cuddling as she's been able to muster so far. You can see the WIKTORY in her eyes. And in her tiny fist-pump.

The cats also play a little bit. Mostly it's idle games of chase, though occasionally they share a ping-pong ball or some other toy. They even play tag around the new kitty condo, and every morning, they peaceably share it. Alas, this detente typically comes to an end when Quinn gets over-stimulated and goes all chompy with Spainy's tail, at which point hissyfits ensue.

But like I said, Quinn and the dog are tight. They play and cuddle all the time, and if there's anything on earth any cuter than a big fluffy dog being super-gentle with a small cat, then I just don't know what.

[See http://www.cheriepriest.com for Vine, because LJ won't host it.]

When Quinn is upset, or lonesome, or something's frightened her...do you think she comes running to Mom? No. No she does not. She goes running for her big brother.

[See http://www.cheriepriest.com for Vine, because LJ won't host it.]

AND ON THAT NOTE. Let's get the word metrics booted up again, shall we?

So here's recent progress on my young adult haunted house story about a long-lost adventure pulp comic manuscript that's guarded by a good ghost and a bad ghost; now with Bonus! gentrifying drama, golden-age mystery, Hollywood intrigue, fallout from The Storm, and an agent who's just trying to do the right thing, goddammit:

    Project: Drawing Fire
    Deadline: November, 2015
    New words written: 762 (added in recent review pass)
    Present total word count: 25,049

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Got reacquainted with the material so far, which was entirely necessary - because I hadn't so much as looked at the draft in weeks.

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [In general, since last post] Neighborhood jaunts with the dog; one checkup vet visit for Quinn; almost nothing but work for 2+ weeks, but then in the last couple of days - went to bank, grocery store, post office; did laundry; cleaned house, for it needed it desperately.

    Other: I am trying to keep from dwelling on the fact that as soon as Drawing Fire goes off to the editor, I have three months to hand in a draft of Brimstone - then another three months to do a draft of The Toll. So...if you don't see much but word metrics for awhile, my apologies. But there won't be that much else going on in my life for the foreseeable future.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 81,052

And in closing:
This one's for their album cover.

Baby we're not fooling anyone these days

Hello, everyone - I'm back from DragonCon, and more or less recovered. Every year (for the last few years) I've said to myself, "Self, this is all a little much. Maybe I'll skip it next time." But I never do. The pull is too strong. The fun is too big, even with all the work and chaos and clutter. I really was scheduled out the ass, though. SO many panels. Plus interviews. Plus meet-and-greets. Plus signings. But also - SO many friends I don't see very often. SO much goofing off in the evenings. SO much good discussion of interesting and pertinent stuff with smart people. SUCH great roommates.

I'd take a crack at a formal recap, but I'd be here all afternoon. And then probably all night. So...yeah. I'll leave the wrap-up by the wayside, and say only a big fat thank you to all the marvelous folks who made it possible - and to those who made it great. You know who you are.

[Edit: Then again, on second thought I should probably link this article - What is Dreadpunk? A quick guide to a new subgenre. Not just because I'm quoted in the article, but because my buddy Derek is the mastermind behind the spooky curtain - and I got to be on the panel for Dreadpunk's debut.]

Anyway, I'm back now - and I'm unpacked, and the laundry is all done, and the pets have all been snuggled stupid. Regarding the four-footed family members, in a few moments I'll share with you a most excellent bounty of pet pictures and videos ... but first, I must subject you to crass self-promotion!

After all, Chapelwood just came out - and I need for EVERYONE to know about it.


FOR STARTERS. Did you know that you - yes YOU - might be able to get an advance reader's copy for free? IT IS TRUE. Quoth my awesome publisher: "Like the idea of Lizzie Borden fighting off Lovecraftian horrors? Good news! We're giving away 10 copies of CHAPWELWOOD by Cherie Priest. This book is perfect fall reading. Just make sure to enter by midnight on Monday! (Sorry, US only)" Now click ye here to throw your name into the hat and then cross your fingers.

FOR NEXTERS. Is that a word? No? Oh well, I'm letting it stand. FOR NEXTERS - if you'd like to skip the crapshoot and pick up a very shiny copy of Chapelwood for your very own reading pleasure, then here's a list of helpful links to assist you in that quest.

And if you're feeling so moved, when you're finished reading the book (or throwing it across the room, but obviously I hope not) ... then I'd be terribly grateful if you could take a moment to post a review at the site of your choice. These things matter to authors, they really do


Speaking of the pets (I did, up above - before all the shilling) ... all is going well with new addition Her Royal Highness Princess Harley Quinn GreaseMonkey StinkyFoot The First. She had her follow-up vet visit this afternoon, whereupon we learned that she's merely one ounce shy of three full pounds (up from a straggly 1.1-lb three weeks ago) - and she's making great progress. However, she's still a little undersized/underpowered for her age (12-14 weeks) and she needed a second round of deworming goo. No big deal. With any luck, in another few weeks she'll gain another couple of pounds - so we can talk about getting her chipped and spayed.

As far as the other household members go, Greyson remains absolutely besotted with Quinn - and Spainy remains idly tolerant of her.

Quinn and Greyson frolic carefully; she wrestles with his face and tail, and he nudges her around with his nose. No claws or teeth deployed by either party - and when the baby is anxious or sleepy, she runs to him, cuddles against him, and purrs all over him. He eats it up.

[Here there be Vine videos, but LiveJournal won't display them. Go to CheriePriest.com if you want to see them.]

As for the ElderCat, relations are a little less snuggly and cordial - but they aren't bad, either. The two almost play together, once in awhile (*almost*), and they're content to share the bed, share sunbeams, and even share a chair cushion from time to time. So long as Quinn doesn't get too exuberant in her playtime - nobody gets hissed at, and nobody runs away.

Today the routine is a little shaken up - not just because of the lunchtime vet visit, but because Cooj the Three-Legged Wonder Pooch is joining us again for a few days. His dad dropped him off this morning, so that meant relocating all the cat food into my bathroom [:: gives the Cooj the stinkeye ::] ... and that's about it, really. He's a very easy guest.

Upon Cooj's arrival, Greyson was like, "Oh, cool. This guy comes with treats and wet food!" Spainy woke up from her nap, shrugged, and went back to sleep. And Quinn detonated into a poof of hisses.

She is absolutely horrified by him - or rather, by the noise he makes. Cooj is older and he has a heart condition, so when he's worked up (due to oh, say, a walk from his house to ours) ... his breathing becomes very loud and heavy. By which I mean, it sounds like he's gasping for air and probably dying; you can hear him all over the house, and outside too. He can't help it and once he settles down, he's fine - but Quinn is Super Dubious About This Matter.

As for Cooj - he's entirely oblivious to the existence of either Quinn or Spainy. It's almost like he's literally unable to see cats. He completely ignores them. (He spent half his life with five of them. His willful ignorance might be a defense mechanism.)

He'll be here until Saturday, and that will be fine. He's a lovebug and an excellent watchdog who prefers to spend most of his time outside. Quinn will get used to him.


Right! Well.
I believe this has run on long enough.

So now it's time for me to get back to work. I have ten days to turn around a new draft of The Family Plot, and I'm not nearly as far along as I'd like, so you can anticipate some radio silence over here. I just have too much to do, so I'll be imposing a partial internet embargo for a couple of weeks.

Please forgive me! And please accept one final pet-picture. This one answers the perennial question, "How do you work with all those adorable animals around?" With an audience, that's how.

DragonCon Ahoy!

DragonCon! It looms on the horizon! And I am going to be All. Over. It. You can find most of my schedule via the DragonCon app - which is surprisingly useful, as I learned the other day. But there are a few things that aren't listed, so here's the full scoop:


    8:00 p.m. - YA Meet-and-Greet in the Marriott I am putting this here because I plan to be there, but I do not know if it's open to the public. I'm led to understand that after the general meet-up, some folks have plans to hit up the Chuck Wendig reading later in the evening. I am down for that.


    Title: Urban Fantasy or Horror: Lines of Distinction
    Time: Fri 01:00 pm Location: Chastain ED - Westin
    Description: Our panel of authors discusses the distinguishing features between these two closely-related genres.

    Title: Faces of the Tarot: Penny Dreadful's Monsters & Magic
    Time: Fri 05:30 pm Location: Peachtree 1-2 - Westin
    Description: Fans discuss the Showtime series that updates classic horror's most enduring archetypes

    Title: The Weird West Rides Again!
    Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Augusta 3 - Westin
    Description: The changing genre of the Old West: alternate history, sci-fi, and fantasy.

    Title: Blending History & the Fantastic
    Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Chastain ED - Westin
    Description: Challenges & advantages of using historical settings & events in speculative fiction.


    Title: Sword and Laser Podcast—Live!
    Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Crystal Ballroom - Hilton
    Description: Belmont & Merritt's podcast on all things sci-fi and fantasy with author Cherie Priest.

    Title: Magepunk: Sorcery as Technology
    Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Augusta 3 - Westin
    Description: Alchemical rules or arcane industrial revolution? We focus on media depictions of magic as technology.

    Title: ACE/ROC Presents
    Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy A-B - Hyatt
    Description: Editors from ACE/Roc Publishing show us what they have in the pipeline for the future.

    Title: Squeamish Folks Need Not Apply
    Time: Sat 10:00 pm Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt
    Description: Panelists on writing horror, dark fantasy, & scary, horrible, gory, putrid stuff. BYO airsick bag!


    Title: Autograph Session
    Time: Sun 2:00 p.m. Location: The Missing Volume booth, in the America's Mart building

    Title: Autograph Session
    Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: International Hall South - Marriott

    Title: Superpowered YA
    Time: Sun 05:30 pm Location: A707 - Marriott
    Description: There's a superhero explosion at the box office, but what about in graphic novels and YA books?

    Title: Dreadpunk: The Gothic Horror Revival
    Time: Sun 08:30 pm Location: Peachtree 1-2 - Westin
    Description: A discussion of the Gothic Horror Revival in contemporary pop culture


    Title: Tomorrow's Forecast for SF/F Fiction
    Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt
    Description: Spotting trends in fiction before they become trends.

As you can see, I'll be running around like the proverbial decapitated poultry. That said, because people keep asking - YES, copies of Chapelwood (among other things) will definitely be available for sale in the dealers hall; and DO NOTE that I'm scheduled for two signings on Sunday - one in the America's Mart (at the Missing Volume booth), and one in the Marriott.

Likewise, if you happen to catch me between panels, I'll be happy to sign whatever/say hello/etc.

So! With the Official Posting of the Schedule out of the way...let me just say that I am PSYCHED about this coming week/end, and I can't wait to meet all of you fabulous readers - and hang with some of my writer peeps. Thanks so much for reading, and thanks so much for coming out to see me and all my friends. We appreciate it more than you know.

And in closing...Greyson is SO HAPPY that we've finally gotten him a kitten of his very own. And Princess HarleyQuinn GreaseMonkey StinkFoot is delighted to have a very, very big brother to play with - especially atop a pile of fresh laundry.

Remember those faces. Those faces need kibble and veterinary care.
Those faces need for momma to sell some books.

National CHAPELWOOD Day!


Okay, look - yes, I know, I've been a Disney Princess over here for the last couple of weeks: all birds and all kittens all the damn time. But in between the wildlife and the household critters, I've been busily trying to ramp up to THIS VERY DAY: CHAPELWOOD Day!

Yes FINALLY you can check out the follow-up to last year's Phillip K. Dick Award nominee, Maplecroft. Did you like that one? I hope you liked that one. I loved it very much; it's one of my personal favorites. (Am I supposed to admit that kind of thing? That I have favorites? Oh well, it's true. Maplecroft was one of my favorite things ever. I am terribly proud of how it came out.)

RIGHT. YES. So. If you did get your hands on Maplecroft, then you know that it was a watery Lovecraftian creep-fest - inspired by ol' H.P.'s ocean lore and informed by the gothic epistolaries of yesteryear. You may rest assured that its pseudo-sequel, Chapelwood, is from that same planet (shall we say) - except that it came prompted by Howard's more cosmic tales.

Or as Publishers Weekly so kindly put it:
    Setting this slow but effective second Lizzie Borden/H.P. Lovecraft mashup in the 1920s, three decades after the events of Maplecroft, Priest emphasizes Lovecraft’s storytelling elements of mathematics, spiritualism, the dubious cultural values of the early-20th-century American Deep South, and mind-shatteringly monstrous beings.

BETTER YET, as the inimitable Jonathan Maberry said (yes THAT Jonathan Maberry and he ASKED for an ARC ... you have no IDEA how chuffed I was) ... "Chapelwood is devious, twisted and beautifully written. Cherie Priest is one of our very best authors of the fantastic. Brava!"

And you know, it's funny, but people tend not to believe me when I say that Chapelwood is loosely based on true events. Well, I'll have you to know that it was, and I was pointed at these true events by Mary Robinette Kowall, whose family has a passing connection to them. But you can get her to tell you that story sometime.

What story? THIS crazy-ass story. Kind of.

There was more to it, of course, and you spend forever and a day spiraling down a rabbit hole, chasing weird peripheral details and characters - which is what happened to me. In the end I had to pare down some of the real-life facts in order to make it more believable. And yes, I say that having added an aging Lizzie Borden, a powerful cultist, and some intergalactic intrigue to the mix.

Anyway, you may as well be advised - real history was just the starting point.
The result is real horror. Or that's the idea.

So today is Chapelwood Day and I could sit here and shill for another few paragraphs but I must restrain myself - for I have a dog to walk, a hair appointment to catch, a DragonCon to prepare for, and also three other deadlines. No pressure or anything, right? No pressure at all.

Ergo, rather than continuing to bore you with horn-tooting and sign-waving, I will instead wrap this up with some useful links.

Oh, and maybe this one last thing, too - lest you all forget: I have kibble to buy. More of it than ever, at present - and selling books helps put kibble in bowls. It helps pay vet bills for wee foundlings who tried to bathe engine grease off of themselves, and projectile-pooped for a week. It helps support little old lady cats with kidney problems, and big fluffy dogs who eat - let's be frank - a great deal of kibble.

So come on, now. Buy a copy of Chapelwood for you, or a friend.
Do it for the kittens.

(And I'll be back later today or possibly tomorrow with all that DragonCon signing info - with BONUS news [I hope] re: how to get yourself some signed/personalized books EVEN IF YOU NEVER SET EYES ON ME. It's in the works. I promise.)

We all leave before the morning light

It's been one week since Quinn the kitten got her first real vet visit, and - if my husband's food scale can be believed - she's gained almost exactly one pound. She now weighs in at 2.11 pounds, and she's obviously feeling much, much better than when she first arrived. The wee stinker has gone from a feeble little sleeper who needed a boost to scale a 6-inch litter box lip...to an intrepid explorer with the usual boundless kitten energy and a passion for climbing.

She's no longer projectile-pooping, and after some fits-and-starts re: her potty manners, she's now gone a good 36 hours with zero accidents. It took some trial and error to find out what worked for her; in the end the magic formula seems to include one large box with NO top on it, because who wants to poop in a cave, I guess - and two smaller boxes: one in the den, one in our bedroom. For cat reasons.

I am relieved to note (no pun intended) that she's losing interest in the smaller boxes as she gains confidence and becomes more comfortable with having the run of the house.

As for my husband, he generally likes her - but hasn't had a chance to interact with her much. He's been very busy since his return from Seattle (which turned out to be around midnight on Saturday, contrary to my previous report); in fact, he's not home right this moment, as he's out meeting an old friend. But it is my fervent hope that - given time - he'll fall in love with her as thoroughly as I have. Perhaps while I'm off at DragonCon next week(!!!) they'll get in some good cuddle-time.

He is a nice man, who is fond of kittens and very kind to them.

* * *

Anyway, speaking of DragonCon - my schedule for that is downright punishing, but I'm sure I will have a marvelous time ... doing two signings (only one of which is on that schedule right now) and about a dozen panels over several days. When the event draws closer, I'll post the whole thing, don't worry. Or, if you're so inclined, you can look me up on the DragonCon app - which is very shiny and actually quite useful.

* * *

In other news, as far as we can tell, the misadventuring chimney swifts seem to be doing well. I followed the rehabber's instructions - observed and reported, and left them alone - then got the go-ahead for a more invasive check-in on them yesterday. The husband and I had heard the adult birds swooping down and feeding the squealing babies on a regular schedule, and nothing had fallen down into the fireplace again ... so I went ahead and pulled off the iron summer cap, held my breath, and shined a flashlight up in there.

Thank God, I didn't see a thing except for the underside of a couple of nests. I don't think either of the wayward babies were still hanging on to the wall within my reach, and they definitely hadn't fallen any farther. I am forced to assume that they made it back up into those nests (only a couple of extra feet) or, perhaps, the larger of the two babies has fledged and vacated the premises.

Live long and prosper, little birds. Party hard. Eat many mosquitoes. Feel free to hang around the yard, and maybe come back to nest with your own tiny families next year - after we've repaired the chimneys and stuffed the flue with insulation. (We plan to install screens deep in the chimneys so the birds can still install themselves, but the babies can't fall down into the house.)

But for the love of God, hurry up and grow up - and get the hell out. I would love to get some freaking sleep, and right now it's like trying to rest with half a dozen dying fan belts squealing six feet from my pillow. I love you guys, but kindly move along.

* * *

But back to the kitten, because I know what you people are really here for - and I've had a number of folks ask how the other household residents are adjusting to her presence. Obviously, no one is terribly worried about Greyson; he's been thrilled to have her here ever since she arrived.

But the Elder StatesCat is a harder sell.

Spain the Cat is kind of okay with Quinn, most of the time. The baby very badly wants to be Spain's friend, and she persistently, gently, submissively approaches her. So long as the kitten is careful, Spain will tolerate the attention. But when Quinn tries to play, Spain hisses her away. As far as our little old lady is concerned, the best kittens are sleepy and/or quiet kittens who do what they're told.

But yesterday, she tolerated a kitten-adjacent nap.

Yes, Spain knew Quinn was there. At one point, she rolled over - looked her dead in the eye - sighed, and returned to her original position. They stayed that way for maybe ten minutes, before the kitten felt like she'd pushed her luck far enough, and beat a discreet retreat.

That little Quinn, she's no dummy. And gradually, she's making herself at home.

In closing, I swear to God, I did not stage the following picture. I realized that the cats were hanging out together in the kitchen, and then Greyson noticed too. I called his name to get him to look up, that's all. Otherwise, this is just a meeting of the pets that I interrupted for a photo op.

So that's all for now, folks. Thanks for reading, and I'll try to keep up with regular posts, even as I am eyeballs deep in revisions for The Family Plot and trying to brace myself for DragonCon. But we'll see how it goes, eh?


And the gods laugh

Last Saturday my husband left town for a business trip, and I've been all by myself ever since. (He returns late tonight). Usually when he's gone for a few days, I get a lot of work done - housework, writing work, etc. etc. etc. This time, I've been running around like a maniac, trying to keep the world from exploding and/or anything from dying.

First of all, there's our Grande Dame Feline, who needed a lot of bloodwork due to apparent kidney failure issues...which turned out to be non-issues when that bloodwork returned because apparently the cat is a freak of nature. Her numbers have all improved since six months ago - there's literally nothing wrong with her - but we didn't learn this without a couple of vet visits and a crash course in how to give IV fluids to a little old kitty.

Then the next day, some old friends of ours heard a funny noise coming from their car, so when they got home (after an 8-10 mile drive) they checked under the hood...and found this.

My friends are lovely people, but they are not cat people. They had no idea what to do with the greasy foundling, so...I bet you can see where this is going. I collected the little booger and ran it to the ER vet (it was Sunday, natch) where I learned that "it" was a "her," and she was miraculously unharmed. The ER didn't even charge me for the visit; they just sent me home with instructions to take her to my regular vet ASAP for further inspection.

I got lucky, and my usual cat vet worked her in first thing next morning. It turned out that the kitten weighed just 1.12 pounds, although she's at least 8-9 weeks old. (Ideally, she'd weigh twice that.) She was severely flea-bitten and malnourished, and she was having digestive issues - probably from trying to clean motor oil off herself, before she was retrieved and bathed. On the upshot, she was FIV and FIP free (hooray!). So there's that.

For the next few days, I was on kitten patrol. Not only did she not know what to do with a litter box at first, but her terrible bowel issues exacerbated the problem. Once she DID get the general hang of hygiene, she cried, cramped, and sprayed poo all over the wall behind the box with every visit. And the less said about the kitten piddles the better, for it took another day or two for her to realize that ALL back-end business needed to go down in the box. Not on the couch, not on the rug, not on that other rug. not on that rug over there, I SAID not on the couch, not under the bed, not on that book, not on...Jesus, how many rugs do we have, anyway?

But before long, she was feeling much better - and getting into the swing of the household.

She made a fast friend in Greyson, of course. He adores all kittens, and he's the world's best babysitter to this one. Every time she squeaks, he comes running to make sure she's okay - then snorfles her all over until he's satisfied that she's unharmed. She purrs throughout this examination, then pats his nose or headbutts him.

Then they go lie down for a nap. No outright cuddling yet, but it's only a matter of time.

As for the Elder Statescat, she's taking the newcomer surprisingly well - which is to say, she hasn't actually tried to kill her. On the contrary, she waits until the kitten is asleep, then sneaks up and sniffs her...then wanders off. When the kitten is awake, the two follow each other around and sit in close proximity, each pretending that the other one doesn't exist.

If the kitten gets too close or too friendly, she can expect a brief hissyfit. But only sometimes. And last night, I watched Spainy let the kitten play with her tail for about 90 seconds before deciding she'd had enough - and walking away. So I think they'll be okay together, especially with the Nanny Dog running to intervene, every time he thinks the kitten is in any kind of peril. If he hears Spainy hissing at the baby, he runs to stand between them, and separates them with that big ol' cinderblock he calls a head.

He is the best of dogs.

So the question on everyone's mind is, "Will the kitten stay?" And the answer is, "Definitely maybe." My husband still hasn't actually MET the little fool in question, but he's game if the other four-footed members of the household are game.

Ergo, the kitten's tentative name is "Quinn." Today she got her third bath, to clear up some poo residue and the very last of the motor grease.

She was not super-enthused by the experience, but oh well. She's clean and dry now.

You'd think having a sick kitten projectile-pooping all over the house for a week would be adventure enough, but noooooo. The night before last, I realized something was terribly wrong in the bedroom fireplace. [Note: It doesn't work. It's a total wreck, and we couldn't use it if we wanted to. I know, I know...but it's on our Fix It When We Can list.]

We knew we had a nest of chimney swifts up in there, but that's fine. They're great birds. Eat a shit-ton of mosquitoes, they do. Usually we can't really hear them, because we've stuffed insulation up in the [broken, and therefore not-shut-able] flue; but we'd removed it all the other day when we thought we had a mouse or something stuck inside it. We turned out to be wrong, thank God. It was only a bug the size of a mouse. Did you know that these things chitter and sound just like rodents when they're upset about something? Well, I didn't. And now I do. But I was so glad he wasn't *actually* a mouse that I could've kissed him.

Note: I restrained myself. I did, however, turn him loose under a shrub in the front yard, and he went on his merry way with my blessing.

Anyway, we hadn't replaced the insulation because it was filthy, so we threw it out - and I hadn't yet picked up more. So I heard LOUD AND FUCKING CLEAR when one of the swift babies somehow misadventured itself into the bottom corner of the fireplace.

It opted to do this at 7:30 p.m. on a weeknight. I spent the next four hours calling every alleged rehabber, facility, and 24-hour vet office in the county, to no luck. Eventually with some advice from qualified friends, I got the little dude in a towel in a shoebox, on top of an electric blanket, in the den closet so nothing furry would bother it.

The next morning, I drove out to the county's licensed rehab facility over at Warner Park Zoo - and surrendered the grouchy little bird to the experts. I figured my work here was done.


Yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call from a guy at the rehab facility, asking if there was any way on earth they could hypothetically reinstall the bird in its home nest. I didn't think it likely, considering it'd fallen [as far as I knew] a story and a half down a narrow chimney [I think it's 14 x 9 inches] around a broken fire brick, into a ratty fireplace. But the gent on the phone asked if he could possibly come take a look - because he lived quite nearby, according to the address I'd left on the intake form.

I figured the odds of success were very low. I mean, maybe if he had a guy with a crane and a really, really skinny dude on a rope or something?

But what the hell. He was very persuasive, and I am a sucker for a grown man begging on behalf of a baby bird, so I told him to come on over. So he did, and between us we got the fireplace open and we moved the basket/grates out of the way...upon which we discovered exciting new development in the baby bird situation: Another goddamn baby bird.

This one wasn't all the way down on the floor, but up beyond the broken fire brick, wedged on a ledge up to the left. Even to my untrained eye, this one was larger, older, and in no distress whatsoever. It was, in fact, just chilling.

I don't have a picture of it. Everything was covered in ash, dust, soot, and bird poop at this point - including me and the rehab guy, whose name eludes me now - so I didn't bother to snap anything. But here's what I learned: We had not one but TWO nests in the chimney...both of them barely five or six feet above the fireplace floor. How the hell the adult swifts are swooping down vertically almost a story and a half under very tight circumstances to raise their little families I don't know, but ain't nature a miracle?

[:: sigh ::]

The rehab guy had the original bird in the car; it'd been fed and cared for all day, but apparently swifts are a "long-haul" rehab that can be rather tricky, and they can often be put back near the parents. I am told that these little dudes can - and do - climb, once you get them to "attach" to the brick. Tiny feets like velcro, they've got.

So now I have two misadventuring chimney swifts a bit too close to the ground, but I've been listening - and it *sounds* like they're getting fed, and are not in any distress. At least as-of a few hours ago. The rehab guy was kind enough to follow up this afternoon, so the plan at present is this: I keep an ear out for them overnight, and if it gets too quiet in there, or if the birds start sounding weak, then I collect them in the morning (pretty sure I can reach them) and bring them back to the center. If I am repeatedly regaled with a chorus of screaming baby birds accompanied by the flapping wings of their daredevil parents, then we leave them alone and trust that they're either getting fed - or they might've even made it back into their nests.

Fingers crossed.

BONUS UPHEAVAL: Of the professional kind. Not the bad kind, just the kind that was coming down the pike any day now, and has finally arrived. Which is to say, I've gotten my editorial notes on The Family Plot and must now drop Drawing Fire to work on a new draft of the former. I'm aiming to have this done within a month, but with DragonCon throwing a grenade into my schedule (as well as Chapelwood's release), we'll see how it goes.

Wish me luck, eh?

I could probably go on - it has been one SERIOUSLY action-packed week - but this post has run long enough, so I'll restrain myself. I have a couple of friends coming over any minute now, and we're going to play kitten meet-and-greet, then grab some grub. I need to get out of the house. I need to open the windows and spray Febreeze around the house again, because this kitten is still farting like a diesel engine. (And she had a little accident about an hour ago. Nobody's perfect, and she finished up in the box, so. Win some, lose some.)

Good night, everyone.
Let us hope and pray for far less Interesting Times in the coming days.

Not through love but through revenge

Here's recent progress on my young adult haunted house story about a long-lost adventure pulp comic manuscript that's guarded by a good ghost and a bad ghost; now with Bonus! gentrifying drama, golden-age mystery, Hollywood intrigue, fallout from The Storm, and an agent who's just trying to do the right thing, goddammit:

    Project: Drawing Fire
    Deadline: November, 2015
    New words written: 2445 (multi-day total)
    Present total word count: 24,287

    Things Accomplished in Fiction: Finished up the very first comic section, wee! Also wrote a pretend Wikipedia entry and performed some basic LogicSpackle(TM).

    Things Accomplished in Real Life: [In general, since last post] Neighborhood jaunts with the dog; went shopping with a friend and picked up awesome polka-dotted jammies; did more online pre-DragonCon shopping than I'm prepared to confess to; went out to supper with husband and a couple of old friends at a cool new spot in town; went to Walgreens; went to the bank; took primary vehicle in to get serviced (twice, long story); made appointment at vet for YowlyCat, who is having some YowlyProblems and also maybe some kidney issues; did not hate the end of True Detective as much as everybody else seems to have, but I didn't love it, either.

    Publishing Other: Well, you saw the last post about Drawing Fire, so I won't rehash it here - except to note that yes, my first real draft of this thing is due in November...which is kind of tight, yes, considering I have two other books to hand in by spring of next year. But there are Official Reasons, and hey, I agreed to it, so...don't cry for me, Argentina.

    Number of fiction words so far this year: 80,290

And in closing: