I was going to write a post…

I was going to write a post 4? 5? hours ago.  Instead, as always when I’m tired, the ADD is driving. So I’ve done a million things, but mostly hung out with friends…

One of them posted this (at himself, not me) early this morning:

It’s kind of true…  Add in that I’m tired though not sleepy, which is a weird state, and that I found out this morning —

Oh, yeah, let me back track: I got home to a strong smell of… well, poop.  I thought “well, it’s night time, the house is closed, must be the boxes.

But the boxes were pretty much clean, and nothing explained that smell.  Until I got a look at Havey-cat’s behind.  You see, he’s a Turkish Angora (no, we didn’t pay for him. We found him in a mini-golf course. So he’s probably not pure, but he even SOUNDS like them.) So, if you don’t shave his behind regularly, at some point he’s incapable of doing it himself.  Also, honestly, he only half tries. LEAST hygienic cat EVER.

We’ve been busy and not taken him in for a full shave.  So…  We shaved somewhat (we need to take him to the vet for a full shave) and then washed his behind (fun for the whole family!)

He was not only a mess, but he’d scooted all over the carpet trying to clean himself. At 10 pm, I was carpet cleaning.  And then I sort of passed out.

This morning, I realized though not as strong, the smell was still there.  And then I realized it was all over the dining room floor.  Fortunately wood, but still…


So, Fyrecon was very good, even if the lesson on giving your universe depth, because only three hours, and therefore — I realized — insufficient to create a whole non-earth world, turned into “How to make sure your alternate world isn’t laughable. What you need to take into account.”

I remembered again how much I enjoy teaching.  And how EXHAUSTING it is.  And the weird things I end up teaching.

So, definitely when I do online workshops, it will be no more than week a month (A week’s time. Not necessarily a week. I know some of you would benefit from having them on the weekend.)

AND probably only for a year (because it is exhausting.)

Since this is not a real post, I’m going to leave you to discuss what you THINK I can teach.  I think the building parallel worlds would translate well to online (but longer, much longer, as I’d have to give you hints/shepherd you on your own worlds.) And I was thinking a workshop on beginnings and perhaps one on character arcs.

What do you guys think?

60 thoughts on “I was going to write a post…

  1. So, Fyrecon was very good, even if the lesson on giving your universe depth, because only three hours

    Wait, I know where this is going…

    and therefore — I realized — insufficient to create a whole non-earth world, turned into “How to make sure your alternate world isn’t laughable. What you need to take into account.”

    Yep. Not deep enough.

  2. Cleaning cat butts is always a legitimate priority over anything short of forced evacuation (no pun intended – not that I expect any credit for that.)

    No additional posting is expected. Rest, relax, write stories, come back when you have something worth saying.

    Hug cats.

  3. Cat cleaning/cat water baths. Reads like everyone survived. Last time any of our cats got baths was the tiny kitten found on side of road. I could handle him then … now, not so much, not where cat in water intersect. This is the cat that doesn’t know how to come out of the rain, and regularly comes in soaked. I won’t even discuss the possibility of giving the other two baths … Only one more week until next monthly flea treatment … oh, joy.

    1. We had a long-hair (apparent if not actual Maine Coon) who, while he detested baths, trusted his people enough that he complied forlornly with the process.

      Other cats … well, let’s just say that trusting people was not in the program.

    2. monthly flea treatment

      (Gives quiet, evil smile.) Yet another reason why I’m happy to live where I do. East of the Cascades, it’s too cold, dry, and/or high to support outdoor flea populations. Our pups never had fleas when we got them (one was a California girl, brought up just after weaning, we think), and the other was born in Lakeview, also not flea habitat.

      We get chiggers, but most of the time, those prefer easier prey–me.

      Trying to bathe my cat for fleas cost me some blood and a shredded shower curtain liner. The Lab-Aussie wouldn’t mind a bath, but the Border Collie prefers water just deep enough to wet her toes.

      1. Thank God for topical flea treatments for the cats, and the pill (flea and tick) for the dog. I’ve dealt with those pests for over 40 years. Cost of having pets. I haven’t had to treat the house since topical versions, that work on all stages, became available.

        My GSD (gone 30 years now) became allergic to fleas her last 5 years, and couldn’t take steroids; finally had to put up with the “cost” of a low dosage option. No flea collar, no amount of bathing, helped.

  4. How to make sure your alternate world isn’t laughable. What you need to take into account.

    An appalling number of professionally produced SF/F would benefit from this but it is probably in the interests of time that we not pursue that topic except in broad categories — e.g., “No, simply having Trump (or, more broadly, Teh Patriarchy or Capitalists) as the :bad guys is not sufficient to paper over myriad flaws.”

    1. But what if you use heavy-duty wallpaper, and maybe some duct tape? Flawless, right? Oh, well, you gotta have a fatal flaw for a really good book, doncha?

      1. This is why many modern authors use glittery wallpaper as it tends to distract (especially the simple-minded) from the underlying structural weaknesses. The key is to stay abreast of current popular glitter objects. (N.B., it tends to be much easier to keep abreast of what glitter distracts lads.)

  5. I hate giving our cat a bath; but I’m the only one in the family with the guts and the gumption to do it. Fortunately, haven’t had to have a flea downing session in years. And she’s only a middle-aged cat and still wonderfully continent.

    1. I sub-contract. There’s a gal here who will wash cats, but those who know keep her name very quiet. She does dogs as well, and very few cats.

    2. I have not-so-fond memories of bathing Isis the cat. At 6 pounds, she was deceptively strong, faced with an existential threat to her peace of mind.

      Our Lab-Aussie got a bath once when she had a close encounter of the skunk kind, and the Border Collie got puppy baths as we discovered that enclosed crates and a pre-housetrained pup had bad consequences.

      Now, they’ll get brushed. They’re too old to go running in the meadow, and since both have had nearly fatal episodes from sampling dead critters, it’s kennel time.

  6. I tried to comment that it’s good that I’m not a cat owner (I’m allergic) because there is NO WAY I would clean cat butt.

    But then I was reminded that years ago, the woman I was living with at the time and I were house-sitting for a friend who lived in the woods and came across a kitten that had been struck by a coral snake. Best we can guess, it was an adult coral snake with lots of control and just gave it the old “hey! Leave me alone” nibble (mature coral snakes do that. Just enough venom to knock whatever is screwing with them down, but saving the rest in case they need it later. Young ones just use it all, and are therefore often considered much more dangerous).

    The kitten was immobile for a week, laying in a shoebox in the living room. And yes, we cleaned up after it (yuck!). Almost a week later, first one little paw twitched, then the other, then not long after the kitten was stumbling around about like a drunk. A day after that she was right as rain. It was pretty amazing.

    Then, of course, we found a home for it because I was tired of sneezing my fool head off. 😦

  7. I’ve…thought about giving my cat a bath. While I won’t go so far as to say he’s completely unhygienic, he is so lazy that ‘full body tongue bath’ doesn’t seem to be in his worldview. (Also because he can’t reach some of the bits, on account of also being fat.) So his butt is sometimes a bit yuck. Thus far, I’ve managed with mostly combing it out (he’s a medium hair, so the hindquarters are a bit fluffier than the rest of him) and occasionally resorting to a washcloth. Since he spends 99% of his time indoors, this suffices.

    But I’ve thought about the bath thing. And he does trust me completely. But…I’m not sure that wrestling something that weighs as much as a three year old human AND has claws and fangs would work out very well for me, and more specifically for my flesh, heh.

    I liked the joke about bathing a cat: dump soap in the toilet, stick cat in toilet, close lid, flush. (It would never work. But it’s an amusing cartoony image.)

    1. … he is so lazy that ‘full body tongue bath’ doesn’t seem to be in his worldview.

      I had a cat who was just the opposite. He adored grooming himself sitting on my lap in the rocker while I watched TV. He’d even go so far as to groom any parts of me that were available, such as the forearm holding his curled body in place.

      Which seemed cute until I realized his cat tongue had licked a raw spot several inched long on my forearm.

      Not his fault that his people had such sparse fur.

    2. Drawing a warm bath, about three inches deep at the deep end, and using washclothes worked for us.
      (Fleas. First time, the fluffy one jumped into the shower to escape the itch.)

  8. I couldn’t say exactly what you should teach, I just know what things in world building have turned me off of a book in the past.
    Usually by authors who obviously don’t know how economics works. Or politics. Or the human animal in general.
    I’ll let a lot of stuff pass in the interest of reading an otherwise good story, but some things just stick in my craw.
    Especially as I’ve gotten older, and learned more of reality. There’s authors I can’t stand now that I loved in my teens.
    Oh, well.

    1. One tends to bounce off the things one knows. As in, the reader who knows military objects to the way they never worry about running out of ammo; the historical costume reader, how early modern people take to clothes they would, in reality, think shockingly immodest; the history of philosophy reader, to the notion that democracy and religious tolerance are so self-evident that you can convert people by introducing the ideas.

      1. the history of philosophy reader, to the notion that democracy and religious tolerance are so self-evident that you can convert people by introducing the ideas.

        One might be tempted to make snarky comment about SJWs’ grasp of the history of philosophy, but I won’t.

        I won’t.

        The hell I won’t.

  9. I couldn’t say exactly what you should teach.
    BUT you should CHARGE for it!
    You have VALUABLE KNOWLEDGE, that is in demand, you should not just give it away.
    I know, I KNOW, people helped you for free and you should still do that for one on one times. BUT you are creating CONTENT for online distribution. That takes a lot of TIME and EFFORT.
    Your KNOWLEDGE IS your Capital. Sell it like a good capitalist!
    You don’t have to get GREEDY about it.

  10. I don’t know if it can be done without doing different genres separately, but pacing. Swain is good, but how to vary pacing (some books need tight, others slower but still building action) and how to spot problems with pacing.

  11. I’ll take whatever help I can get (I’ve got the politics and econ stuff down. Piled higher and Deeper in those) and yes, I’m willing to pay for it…It’ll be interesting to intersperse professor life with student life this year….

  12. World building. Can’t say I’m any kind of expert in how to do it right, but this is what drives me nuts when people get it wrong:

    Humans went from “putting plants and animals where you want them makes eating them easier” to landing on the moon in five thousand years or so. If your elves have been living at a medieval level for the last 10,000 years, you better explain why they have no creativity or motivation to improve life.

    In that same time frame, humans have gone through dozens of major empires and hundreds, if not thousands, of cultural groups holding territory that we might call a “nation,” and even the dynasties that have lasted for multiple centuries have been disrupted by fratricide and civil war along the way. So don’t give me crap about an evil overlord who’s managed to keep everyone from the peasants to the nobles in check for a thousand year tyrannical reich.

    Power comes from multiple paths, and no one is so trapped by society that they cannot move up or down. Even in the most rigid caste system, the man who commands enough wealth or soldiers gets power, no matter how lowly his birth. The old money/ old power may gripe about him and try to bring him down, but money and arms always have and always will talk. Foolish scions can always ruin their own prospects, no matter how potentially rewarding. So again, no static social system.

    Again, all of known human civilization (as in, we have some written records) has been within the last five thousand years or so. So don’t pull a “The Scorpion King” move and say there’s a great cyclical event that happens every five thousand years. It takes three events minimum to show a pattern, and that’s assuming you have good records of every event.

    And finally, food. Authors, being people, should be aware that people need to eat, but yet they manage to write stories about worlds where the sun never shines and ash constantly rains on the crops, or eternal winters, or residents of the forest who live on bread … You don’t have to give me the full World Almanac article in the story, but don’t include details about an unusually hostile world for growing crops and raising animals without at least having thought about how that would affect things.

    1. If you have a race that lives a thousand years, knowing that something happens every five thousand is plausible.

      Also, living that long slows down change — the old fogeys don’t want to.

      If your human hang out with too many elves. . . .

    2. So don’t give me crap about an evil overlord who’s managed to keep everyone from the peasants to the nobles in check for a thousand year tyrannical reich.
      Oooh, Chinese 1984 elves! Overlord burned all the records….several times.

      1. Even in China where the evil overlords burnt all the books … it wasn’t the same family of evil overlords. In true 1984 fashion, at least some of the middle rise to the top and kick the existing top down the ladder in a cycle.

        1. Yeah, but if they are crazy enough, they could do a Dread Pirate Roberts style thing, too.

          Evil Overlord Floppy-ear has ALWAYS ruled!

        2. And no, it wouldn’t work very well, it just has to work well enough for the Human Kingdom’s version of journo-tourists to believe it.

  13. How to bathe a cat:
    Clean the toilet. Flush well.
    Squirt shampoo into the toilet. (Make sure to leave the lid up. )
    Don oven mitts and winter coat.
    Find the cat.
    Catch the cat.
    Quickly place cat in toilet, close lid, and hold the lid down.
    Feline thrashing should work up a nice lather.
    Flush twice to rinse.
    Ensuring that no part of you is between the toilet and the door, open the lid.
    Hide your shoes for the next two weeks.

    (Having had to bathe a cat before, I’m not entirely sure how much I’m joking.)

    1. I use the kitchen sink. It’s big enough and deep enough to hold a 10 pound cat comfortably.

      Use water that’s nearly body temperature. How would you feel if I dumped you in ice cold tap water?

      Scruff the cat from beginning to end. It doesn’t hurt them (if they’re a big cat, support their belly.) It keeps control of the cat, reduces clawing and bite wounds. If you let go, you’ll have a cat explosion with soapy water everywhere; and it will be much harder to start over.

      Talk calmly to your cat the whole time and lavish the praise on them.

      I towel dry the cat afterwards. Not sure a blow dryer would work all the well.

      1. Mr. Houst has the right of it. In our house cat cleaning is a two person task. One person calms and controls the cat, the other does the actual cleaning. Optimally the person doing the calming should be that person in the house the cat is most fond of/trusts the most. That way the cat has an incentive not to claw/bite “Mommy” and is willing to accept that persons decision that this horrible indignity is needed. Kitchen sink (with a sprayer) works well. One critical thing to remember is cat body temperature is HIGH (103-104 is normal for a healthy cat) so keep the water as warm as you can tolerate. Otherwise its like a tepid bath and sucks the heat out of them. I think the cold is almost more unpleasent for them than the wet. And yes towel dry. My understanding is some show cats will tolerate blow dryers but unless the cat has dealt with it from kittenhood my bet is a blow dryer would terrify the poor things. We have two newish cats (~2 years Old) that haven’t been bathed since early kittenhood. One should be fine, but the other is what some cat handlers refer to as “spicy” i.e. can turn aggressive quickly. I do NOT look forward to trying to bathe that one as a 13#+ adult. He’s muscled as if he were the kitty equivalent of Captain America…I foresee massive thrashing and warning nips.

  14. It was fun, and we get to do it again this weekend… So stock up on the sleep…LOL

  15. Presented as a stand alone concluding paragraph: What do you guys think?

    Let’s see, what do I think? You must be tired and somewhat out-of-it to provide such an opening to this crowd.

    I also think that I am glad I have never had a cat with the problem such as Havey’s. I have no intention of have another cat at this time in my life, but, if I ever have another cat I will avoid any cat with that potential. If I do find that I MUST have a cat with such a potential I MUST remember to keep it properly groomed.

    As what your might teach? Whatever suits your fancy.

  16. I build lots of parallel worlds, and quite enjoy it. So I’d be interested in that. I’ve seen many, many workshops on beginnings, but so very few on endings. I do know why. Beginnings are the bane of many.

      1. OTOH, endings depend heavily on beginnings and middles, so it’s harder to give advice.

        1. Do like a certain German publisher and when the book reaches the maximum number of pages, stop, add a back cover, and ship. Even if it is mid-chapter.*

          Which is why GRRM’s books are a marvelous illustration of the challenges of selling things in translation. The language is only the beginning of the difficulty…

          *Seriously. German runs to about 20-30% more verbiage as compared to English, and that’s what a publisher did to _A Game of Thrones_. Rather than try to sell a brick, they just stopped the book and started a second volume of the same book. But did not release the two volumes together. *Facepaw*

          1. I read a novel by a small publisher, which did that to their newbie author. Just “bam!” ended it as they met the amount they could pay paper for. Made the story really disjointed!

  17. I’m glad I don’t have a cat. Like many things, it is cool for other people but not for me.

  18. “And I was thinking a workshop on beginnings and perhaps one on character arcs.”

    Those would be valuable. I’m interested in the “Doc Savage” sort of thing where characters seem to just go along from book to book. How does one keep them from becoming cardboard cutouts?

  19. Our only problem with Nemo is that he pees anywhere and barks lots and lots. We endure the barking and take him to a professional groomer for cleaning.

  20. I think… It was time to change the wallpaper (computer side) anyway. Thank you (and unnamed source) for the new image.

    Otherwise. Shaving feline rears. Always a fun way to spend a couple of hours. I’ve had two that needed that. One with a tail that had been broken before we got him/her – yes, testicles and ovaries when the vet went to neuter – and one that some bastich had gotten hold of and cut her tail off before we took her in as a stray.

    Sigh, speaking of strays, Bubastis has sent a mama and three kittens my way, so I’m in the process of getting re-catted. Working on getting them socialized enough that I can trap for the vet trip. Money I don’t have right now, but what can you do?

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