Today at BlackBeary Condo: The Mystery of the Short White Whisker

IMG_20150525_191652BlackBeary stands in front of the vanity mirror, the only full-human-length mirror in the house, the only mirror low enough for her to admire herself, and something is wrong. Very wrong.

Her silly, clumsy human apparently got too frisky with the grooming shears, and now BlackBeary has half a whisker staring back at her like some neon sign flashing a warning about how crazy things get at her house, and it’s not just any whisker. It’s one of her stately, white whiskers.

Will it never end, BlackBeary asks herself. Will these things she has to put up with, the degradation, the disgrace, will it never end?

How embarrassing!

ReBlog: Yes, The Cat will be Okay

I’ve been working on my latest novel, and in it there is a dog which reminded me of this post I wrote back in mid-2013 on my old blog,


Last weekend I got a text from a friend which said that [and I’m paraphrasing] her friend was reading Couillon, and she really liked the story, but before she went any further she wanted to know if the cat would be okay.

Years ago, I was lucky enough to attend a writers’ retreat in Maui.  [Sadly, that program no longer exists.]  Anyway, James Rollins spoke at the retreat.  He did a presentation on how to make a character more likable.  The one suggestion I remember best, because I love animals, was to give the character a pet.  Again, I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like this: if in your book, you gave Hitler a big goofy Labrador as a pet, the reader would feel the need to find some redeeming quality in him because monsters can’t possibly own big goofy Labradors. The thing is that even with Hitler, if he’s part of your story, he can’t be two-dimensional.  Yes, he was a monster, and should be portrayed as such, but if you don’t give him other qualities, at least one good quality, your story will be flat… and boring.  You want to surprise your reader.

Maybe I’ll write a post about making characters likable, someday, but, as they say in old books/movies, I digress.  Back to the issue with the cat being okay.

The other thing I know about pets in novels, is that they should survive whatever situation you put them in. I can’t remember where I heard/read it, maybe in Stephen King’s On Writing, although he kills the Oy, the BillyBumbler in the last book of The Dark Tower.  Basically the rule is to never, ever kill a pet in your story unless it is absolutely necessary.  Where humans are concerned, we see and read about so much violence and killing, we’ve become desensitized to their deaths, no matter how bizarre or gross, but kill a pet and you will likely alienate your reader.  So, unless you have a following as big as Stephen King’s, always make sure the pet is okay at the end of the story.

I will say that I cried more about that damn BillyBumbler dying than any of the other characters in The Dark Tower.  And if it had of been a new author I was reading, I may not have ever read another novel by that author.

Sometimes it happens even with authors I love.  In Minette Walters’ The Shape of Snakes, her descriptions of cruel acts committed on neighborhood cats by one of the characters almost put me off reading her ever again.  She’s a good writer, but I don’t want those images in my head.  Maybe if she hadn’t been quite so graphic about what was done, but it make me feel sick and afraid to read more of her work.  So you see, it does matter.  If she’d described those same things happening to a human… well, good, bad, or indifferent, let’s just say all those murder mysteries I’ve read have certainly anesthetized me to humans being tortured and killed.  But not animals.

So, think twice before hurting or killing an animal, especially a pet, in your story.

With that said, yes, in both Couillon and An Untold Want, the cat will be okay, as will the dog in Beryl’s Story.

Today at BlackBeary Condo – Magic Milk

IMG_20150214_131740Recently, BlackBeary’s human has been providing BlackBeary with one of her favorite treats, milk, every night, and there are times during the day when she is quite wary of this new event. She loves her milk, even though it has to be lactose free milk, not straight from the cow type milk, but something is not quite right about her human being so generous with the treats.

BlackBeary never got milk every night, not before. And she wonders if her human is up to one of her villainous tricks again.

Each evening her human stands in the food fixing area with a small plastic bottle, the carton of milk, and a kitty plate. [BlackBeary doesn’t like eating off of human plates. She requires her own set of plates.] Anyway, during this ritual, her human extracts something from the plastic bottle, then hovers over the kitty plate, all secretive and such. The really suspicious part is that once milk has been poured onto the kitty plate, her human stirs the milk with a fork.

Scarily, and concerning is that once BlackBeary has consumed the delicious milk, she seems too calm to worry about her human’s questionable nightly behavior. Her heart beats a little slower, and she feels quite loving toward her evil, milk-brandishing human. She can’t seem to remember why her human annoys her so much.

And she can’t understand the desire to curl up beside her human and purr, but she does it anyway.

Her human must be changing the milk into some alchemical potion. But lately, BlackBeary isn’t sure she cares enough to worry about it. It’s magic the way it makes her feel, and for now, she can live with that.

Today at BlackBeary Condo – The Vet, Part Two

IMG_20141220_202215-2BlackBeary jerks awake from her eleventh nap of the day, frightened that she might still be at The Vet. [Cue ominous music.] Still drowsy she wonders: What if they gave her something, some awful drug to make her sleep? And what if her human left her there?

But the smell of the not-so-stinky, not-so-new sofa reassures her that she is at home and safe. Still she doesn’t rest easy. Every time she closes her eyes, the memory of the day’s events floods back like a really big flood, like a Katrina-big flood, like a flood of biblical proportions. Everything she fretted about all morning, all the time she was being starved, everything came true over the course of several hours.

First, weak from hunger, she was easily tricked into the nasty plastic prison. She was then thrust into a moving vehicle with a maniac– her human –at the wheel. The only saving grace of the trip was that, about two miles or so away from home, her human allowed her to come out of the prison. Another cat, a strange cat, no cat BlackBeary knows had obviously been in that awful mesh cage at some time since she last visited The Vet. [She’s pretty sure her human tried to clean it, but even five hundred gallons of Listerine can’t cover the smell of other.] So after much full-lung-capacity howling, BlackBeary’s human opened the awful prison and put BlackBeary on her lap where she rode during the trip to and from The Vet. Sadly, her human didn’t take the Miata which would have almost made the driving part almost okay. Instead they rode in the way-less-cool Mini because it was raining.

Once they were at The Vet, they were shunted into a claustrophobic blah-formica-clad room, painted in drab shades of beige that are probably supposed to be soothing. But aren’t.

BlackBeary searchedIMG_20141220_101638 every nook, every corner and cranny, although she still isn’t sure what a cranny is. There were no windows. The doors wouldn’t open, and the cracks beneath the doors were far too small to even shove a paw under, much less escape. And her human, well her human just sat there taking pictures, like that would help.

After a few minutes, Dr. “Hello, widdle pu’kin girl” Crow sauntered in, picked up BlackBeary and then commenced to talk to BlackBeary’s human as if BlackBeary weren’t even there. Dr. Crow, then took BlackBeary In The Back so that her human would never ever know all the insane, inhumane, Vincent Price-ish type torture they had in store for BlackBeary.

In The Back Dr. Crow’s assistants, Igor and Satan Jr., poked and probed and pinched and prodded BlackBeary, ’till she thought she would pass out from fright. They even pilled her with a little pill-gun. “Open wide widdle pu’kin girl…” Pop and the pill goes straight down BlackBeary’s throat. Aliens got nothing on Dr. Crow’s assistants what with their so-called thermometers and pill-guns. They even trimmed BlackBeary’s nails, like she’s not capable of doing her own grooming.

And when it was done, when all the torment was over, Dr. Crow put on her bestest, most no-I’m-not-evil smile and carried BlackBeary back to her totally-dumb, unsuspecting human.

Is it any wonder that BlackBeary’s blood pressure was sky high?

Today at BlackBeary Condo – The Vet

IMG_20141220_082545For BlackBeary, those words, those gruesome words– THE VET  –should be written in one of those old horror movie fonts, all red and blood-drippy. With ominous sound effects echoing in the background. The whole experience is torturous, like something out of a Vincent Price movie, starting with the food bowl being removed the night before.

Who thought up this evil torment?

It’s always the same. As if some demon straight out of hell has a record on repeat.

Last night, right before going to bed, BlackBeary’s human took up the precious food, leaving only a bowl of water. And then she tiptoed around sheepishly, as if the missing food bowl wouldn’t be noticed if she was quiet enough. As if it was just a normal day except there’s no food, not even any of the yucky dry food.

But for once, BlackBeary decided she wasn’t going to take it lying down, not even sort’ov laying down, even though a nap was preferable to what she had to do. When the loud, urgent meowing didn’t work, she realized it was time for drastic measures. So, she went into sweet-kitty, snuggle mode. After climbing up on the bed where her human was sleeping, she nudged her human until she woke. Then BlackBeary, in her most dangerous, most deceptive–ultra-ninja–guise, purred loudly, while giving her human sweet, sweet whisker kisses.

“I love you, Momma,” BlackBeary said in her softest kitty voice.

Her human reached over and petted her, but didn’t get up, didn’t even throw back the covers as if she might get up and fill a bowl to the brim with yummy, gravy-laden Fancy Feast. No, her human just burrowed down further under the covers, yawned and closed her eyes.

“I love you, Momma,” BlackBeary said more insistently.

To which her human did that stupid thing, she tried to speak Catish. The end result was that she mangled a bunch of words which made her seem ridiculous and somewhat repulsive. And for a moment, BlackBeary considered Momicide. After all her human was the one inflicting this anguish, this unnecessary suffering. The Vet certainly wouldn’t come to the condo and break down the door to get to BlackBeary.

No her human is the true evil behind this twice yearly event.

BlackBeary’s sure her human was planning on sleeping until the last-minute, but her plan was foiled. She got an on-call call from work at 5:30 AM. After that neither of them could go back to sleep, BlackBeary from miserable hunger, her human from insomnia.

BlackBeary is now pretending to ignore her human in hopes that her human will be groggy enough to fall asleep and miss their appointment, or even better, completely forget the visit to The Vet.

~ o ~

Will BlackBeary’s human fall asleep and miss the appointment? Will BlackBeary get a reprieve from… The Vet?

Stay tuned to see what happens…

Today at BlackBeary Condo – No Such Thing as Excess

It’s early, early morning, and BlackBeary is hungry, but her human won’t wake up, not even after a lot of nudging and singing. In her head, BlackBeary hears the opening lines from her version of the Golden Earring song, Twilight Zone:

Somewhere in a condo’s dark hallway,
There’s a cat starting to realize
That eternal fate has turn its back on her

It’s two A.M.

“It’s two A.M. and the food is gone,” BlackBeary sings. “I’m sitting here waitin’ the plate’s still warm. Maybe my human’s is tired of takin’ orders. Rawr, there’s a hunger on the loose, a growlin’ in my core.”

She purrs the words, the middle lines she can never remember, and then continues…

“Mrroww, I’m sneaking into the twilight zone. Should be a cat house, but doesn’t feel like home. My food’s disappeared, nowhere under moon and star. So what am I to do now that I’ve pushed too hard?”

Weak from the lack of Fancy Feast, BlackBeary curls up behind the stinky-new-smelling sofa, and ponders whether Edna Ferber was right. Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.

The silliness, the absurdity of having too much cat food clears her hunger haze for a moment, and her sanity returns. No, she thinks. She’s a cat. Excess is good. Especially an excess of Fancy Feast.

She pulls herself up, her hungry muscles screaming, and saunters down the dark hallway. It’s two A.M., time to wake up her human.

BlackBeary sings, “The human’ll come to know. When the claws hit her nose. Merrrrow, merrow, when the claws hit her nose.”


Today at BlackBeary Condo – Stones Concert

IMG_20140214_100544It’s 3am at BlackBeary Condo, the perfect time for BlackBeary to sing the songs of her people. The quiet hallway allows her perfect pitch to resonate all through the condo, thus providing maximum appreciative value to anyone who can hear her.

“I don’t get all the naps that I want. I don’t get all the treats that I want.”


“But if I sing all night,”


“My human might”

“Oh geeze, not again.”

“Finally do what I want.”

“BlackBeary! Please stop that.”

“I don’t get all the naps that I want. I don’t get all the treats that I want. But if I sing all night….”

When BlackBeary hears her human sigh and rustle the covers, probably pulling her pillow over her head, as she is wont to do, BlackBeary decides to nap for a few moments. To rest her voice. There’s still time. The next round will start in about a hour, as soon as her human has drifted off to sleep again.




Today at BlackBeary Condo – All the Gravy is Gone

BlackBeary’s human is standing in the kitchen, just gazing into that weird box that puffs out cold air when she opens it. What she doesn’t seem to be aware of, is totally oblivious about is that BlackBeary’s food dish is empty. For heaven’s sake, all the good bits are gone, especially the gravy. All the gravy is gone. The only stuff left is the icky-not-worth-eating junk.

“Hungry.” BlackBeary nudges her human.

“It’s only four o’clock,” her human says, not even bothering to look at the effectively empty plate. “I fed you at eleven.”


BlackBeary’s human pulls the peanut butter from the cold box and something green that has to be yucky. Most of the stuff in the cold box is yucky. And green stuff is especially yucky.


“You’ve got a full bowl of dry food.”

“And? Fancy Feast?”

The human proceeds to slather peanut butter on some long green disgusting vegetable looking thing, and then–and then, oh my god, she puts it in her mouth. Ick. So nasty. It crunches as she chews sending waves of repulsion through BlackBeary, making her want to run away. The sound of crunching vegetable is repugnant.


“There’s still food left from this morning.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Wha?” Obviously the crunchy vegetable thing has made BlackBeary’s human delusional. “Are you serious?”

“You didn’t eat what I gave you this morning.”

“I ate the edible stuff.”

BlackBeary’s human looks at the cabinet where the Fancy Feast is stored, as if pondering.

“Hungry. Hungry. Hungry.”

“Okay. Geeze, you’re demanding.”

“Sooooooooooooooo hungry.”

“Okay. Okay. Just stop that. Please.”

Still crunching the awful vegetable, the human puts the leftover Fancy Feast plate in the sink, pulls a clean plate from one cabinet and a beautiful can of Fancy Feast from another cabinet. The snick of the can opening eases BlackBeary’s worried mind. Starvation has been averted once again.

“There you go.” Her human places the plate on the floor.

“Love you, Mom.”

Today at BlackBeary Condo

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarrying a bowl of yummy-yogurt and yucky-peaches, on clumsy feet the human pads to the stinky-new-smelling recliner and sits, pushing at it to get it to recline. BlackBeary knows her human thinks it’s nicer than a regular recliner because, sure, it looks like one of those fancy wing back chairs that one sees in old mansions, but it just smells bad, too new. Humans can be so dense.

“Mine,” BlackBeary says, wanting the yogurt. The peaches can go hang.

“Well, get up here.” The human pats the seat beside her. Fortunately she is one of those humans thin enough to share. But no self-respecting cat wants to share a seat on a fake-antique-ish, wrong-smelling chair.


“Well, get up here.”


“Well, get up here.”

This goes on far too long. Over and over again. And over again. So BlackBeary pulls out the heavy artillery. “Mine,” BlackBeary says giving her human the round, sad kitty eyes. So hungry. For yogurt. Greek honey-vanilla yogurt.

“Come on. I know you can jump that high.” Her human pats the chair seat beside her again.

“Mine.” More sad kitty eyes.

“Well, get up here.”

Letting her eyes narrow, BlackBeary walks away. “Fuck you.”

Long, painful minutes later, the human puts the now mostly empty bowl on the floor, leaving BlackBeary the dregs of the yogurt. Thankfully all the peaches are gone. Ick.

With much disdain, BlackBeary saunters over and inspects the bowl, takes a few licks.  “Bitch.” It tastes like peaches.