Cat Burglar

The other day, my daughter ran into my room wearing a long black cape and her brother’s skeleton halloween mask.

She said, “I’m a cat burglar!”

Then she grabbed the fluffy sleeping cat off of my bed, tucked him under her arm, and ran out of the room.

I Wish I Were a Cat



I want to be a housecat.

I mean really, is there a better life than to be a pampered fat cat?

Let’s think about this for just a minute.

I wake up from my early morning nap when I hear an alarm clock going off. When the human walks out of their room, I weave in and out of their feet trying to trip them so they can see the world from my point of view.

If they make it into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, I’ll be right there yowling around their ankles until the noise penetrates their sleeping ears and they fill up my food and water bowls. Then the human can go away while I enjoy my breakfast and take my morning nap.

When I wake up, the humans have all left my house and I can sit in any windowsill I choose. I stretch out all of my feline muscles while my sharpened claws are hooked in the upholstery of the living room couch.

I take my early afternoon nap, eat some more, then go lay in a human bed to groom myself, making sure to lick away all of the loose hair and other nasties so I’m nice and clean.

Then it’s naptime again.  After that, I stroll across the kitchen counters and table, looking for leftover scraps or those yummy breakfast dishes the young humans leave when they go to school.

Then it’s naptime.

Around the time I wake up, humans return to my house so I lounge around on the floor like the good kitty they think I am.

Periodically, I’d need to use the litter box, and when I cover my mess, I’d get to throw litter all over the floor. What do I care? I don’t have to clean it up. Once a week, the humans will put fresh litter in there and sweep up my mess.

When I want to be stroked, I only have to rub my furry face against a human and I get instant gratification.

Of course, when the humans are home, unless I’m eating, using the litter box, or being rubbed, I will spend all of my time napping.

When they go to bed, I will spend my time playing. My favorite game will involve rolling a marble across the tile floor just outside the adult human’s bedroom.



On April Fool’s day of this year, I quit smoking. I found the date to be very fitting since I was a smoking fool for over 21 years. Yes, I was barely out of the womb when I started. I was young and stupid. Those were the good ol’ days.

So I traded my nicotine addiction for a new vice.

I’m now addicted to Cheerios.

I’ve tried to quit smoking four times in the last two years. I gained forty pounds trying to quit. This time, I grab cheerios when I get a craving.

I love Cheerios. Do you realize how many kinds of Cheerios there are? Apple cinnamon, strawberry yogurt burst, multi-grain, honey nut… the list goes on and on.

The worst part of my new addiction is holding the cheerio while I light it on fire and inhale.

To Be Tattooed

I woke up this morning with a tattoo. It’s a fluid , graceful horse head sitting delicately on my right ankle. It’s lovely.

It wasn’t there when I went to bed and I don’t remember going out and getting drunk. If I did go out and get drunk, I would  remember some of it – wouldn’t I?

I stumbled out of my room blurry-eyed and headed for the coffee pot. At least my new body art didn’t hurt. Or maybe I was really really drunk. As caffeine coursed through my blood, I became aware of giggling coming from the living room.

There sat my eight year old son and seven year old daughter.

Or at least I think it was them.

It was hard to tell through the tattoos covering them from head to foot, but the giggles sounded familiar. My husband reclined on the couch, his right arm tattooed clear down to the hand holding the remote. I guess I should consider myself lucky that only my foot and ankle were accessible to the tatoo bandits giggling on the living room floor.

When they saw me watching, the little tribal covered beings chased after me , each with a sponge in one hand and slips of plastic coated paper gripped in the other. I barely escaped into my bathroom with my coffee before the sponge slapped wetly against the door and the giggling fiends went in search of another victim.

I think I heard a cat yowl.

Should I tell them I don’t have any rubbing alcohol to remove their decorations?
No more sleeping in for me if it means my husband has to take the kids to the store with him. Who knows what they will come home with next.

Knowing my luck, my husband will decide to let them play doctor and I will wake up strapped to the bed by bandages. And with my luck, the tattooed cat will be in there with me.

Characters With a Life All Their Own

An idea for a new book smacked me in the forehead last week. It was painful, but I took aspirin, put aside the book I’ve been working on for the past several months, and let the new story pour out into a word document. Three pages into it, I had another realization smack me in the head. I donned my husbands football helmet to protect my brain and reread the beginning I had just written. It was true. I hated the lead female character in the book. She came across as a princess type. She was pretty, and she knew it. She dated brainless eye candy and realized they weren’t nearly as perfect as she was. Yep, I couldn’t stand her and she wouldn’t shut up. “Write my story,” she kept yelling in my ear as she stomped her size seven shoe. “Write my story. I’m perfect. My life needs to be perfect. Keep going.” I frowned, looking out past the face guard of the helmet at the computer screen. “Shut up. You’re too perfect. Your problems are in your own perfect little head. You need real problems if you want a place in my book.” Then I read over the parts about her best friend, a normal mother of two with motherly hips and a determined smile. She wasn’t anywhere near perfect, and she didn’t claim to be. Thankfully, the helmet deflected the brain impact this time around. Despite the cries of outrage from Miss Perfect, I backspaced clear to the point where their personalities really started to emerge. My perfect character became more realistic, more flawed, and her best friend became more wise, more single, and less motherly. I quickly added another five pages full of words building their lives and rounding them out into likable, believable people. Miss Perfect’s voice in my head became less demanding as I wrote. She became freindlier, more caring. By the time I finished the first chapter, she was my new best friend, and her best friend was a strong counterpart, her strengths and weaknesses merging well with Miss NowNotSoPerfect. “Thanks for not listening,” she whispered, scuffing the toe of her size nine on the floor. I clicked the save button and smiled, but I keep the helmet handy, just in case. Claire Collins is the author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal.

Animalistic Behavior

Animals dominate my life. Technically, I guess I shouldn’t call the children animals except for the fact they tend to climb the walls like monkeys, eat like pigs, and fight like lions. They can also be cuddly and sweet like a puppy. They’ve even been known to lick my face on occasion.


Animals of the furry four-legged variety also dominate my life. A dog and two cats share our small living space along with the four children. I’ve noticed that animals play parts in my books as well. The animals in my books have their own distinct personalities. It takes effort to turn a flat doorstop of an animal into a character that readers will enjoy.


Even as I type this, a furry calico critter sits on the couch beside me, her paws tucked under her white chest like a proper little lady. She has a stub where her tail should be, but she wasn’t injured, just born that way. She smiles at me and closes her eyes when I rub the soft fur around her ears and under her chin. She couldn’t be happier, until another two-legged animal comes running over too fast and my little critter leaps from the couch.


All of my four-legged animals were abandoned or feral. They each have unique personalities and their own quirks, just like the two-legged variety. I wouldn’t trade any of them.


Claire Collins is the author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny

People Watchers

My mother ran her own business, starting with craft shows when I was only about five years old. I always went with her so I learned to make change at a very young age. I also learned how to smile and be polite to make the sale. When the crowds were slow, I learned to watch people and I would make up stories about them in my head. What else was a child supposed to do while working for eight to ten hours?

The mannerisms and actions of the people walking by the booth would portray what was going on in their lives. The ones who walked by very quickly had no interest in what we were selling, their minds set reaching their destination. The mother’s who walked by with strollers were usually moving much slower, the stroller still rolling back and forth while they stopped to look at baby blankets. A wayward child would wander by with a frantic mother coming soon after in search of them. I learned to watch their eyes. The eyes gave way to internal dialogue. This customer loved the items and would have paid twice what we were asking, or another person may have had a longing for the item, but the price was too high and they had to weigh what adjustments they could make and how much they really wanted the item. Most of those people came back.

When they paid for the items, I noticed their hands. Long graceful hands with sculpted fingernails always made me think of someone with disposable income. Women with chipped nail polish and weathered hands reminded me of the middle aged mother who still wanted to remember that she was a woman, but spent more time on her family than herself.

Dirty or calloused hands belonged to people who used their hands to work. It’s nothing to sacrifice a chunk of skin if you hands are bringing something broken back to life.

All of these observations paved the way for me to create characters. It’s very important that a character is a fully rounded person, from the way they stand, the way they walk, the way they move their hands are all just as important as what they look like while they move and what their hands look like. Character development isn’t only about the words they speak or the events around them. It’s about the unique mannerisms they posses and the mindless unspoken clues they unconsciously carry.

How would someone describe you?

My office is in the back corner of a building at work. There are times when someone in the field will need to come see me. Typically, they may know my name, but they don’t associate that name with what I look like since they may only see me if I am out in the yard when they drive in or passing me in the hall. They will go to the dispatch office and say they need to talk to me, and dispatch will direct them on which halls to take, where to turn, where I sit, and what I look like.

Driver: “I need to go see Claire Collins to fill out a form. Where is she?”

Dispatch: “Follow the halls to the left. She’s at the end.”

The driver would stand there, not knowing any more information that he had when he started. He knows he may wander around the building for awhile and stumble across me. Or, he may ask someone else.

Driver: “I need to go see Claire Collins.”

Dispatch: “Go through this door into the main building and follow the hallway to the left. When you come to the main receptionist desk, take a right. You’ll come to a big room with two girls at desks at opposite corners. Walk through that room to the door at the far end. Claire sits at the desk right through that door.”


Now our driver can find me. He doesn’t know what I look like, and he may pass me in the hall, but at least he knows where to find me. What if the conversation went like this?

Driver: “I need to go see Claire Collins.”

Dispatch: “Open the door to the right of you by turning the handle to the right. You will step into a hallway that has an office to the right, an office straight ahead, and a hallway to the left. Take the hallway. At the end of the hallway is an office straight ahead and another hallway that goes off to the right. Follow the hallway. There are pictures on the walls and brown carpet on the floor. You will walk by the Human Resources office, the conference room, the bathrooms, the kitchen, the President’s office, and the CFO’s office. This hallway ends at the front door. If you’ve reached that, the receptionist will be sitting to your right. She has short salt and pepper hair and she will probably be on the phone so don’t stand there and disturb her. Walk back to the other side of her desk, and there’s a doorway. Walk through that door into the accounting area where accounts payable and accounts receivable are. Carrie sits to your left at the cherry desk with the pictures on the right corner, flowers in a vase on the left corner, and a row of filing cabinets behind her. She has long brown hair, blue eyes, and she is wearing a very nice black pantsuit today with a cream colored shirt. To the left sits Francine. Her desk is a light oak color and there’s never anything on it except her computer. She is wearing a really short skirt and spiked heels and her hair is about shoulder length and dyed this really tacky platinum color that clashes with her black eyebrows.  Along the far wall is the fax machine, the copier, the folding machine, and bulletin boards loaded with all of the legal documents that have to be posted in a conspicuous place. Follow that wall to another doorway. This doorway is really wide. Through it, there’s an office to your right, and a row of desks to the left. Filing cabinets line the wall next to the door. The guy in the office is in a bad mood today so stay away from him. Through the doorway is a desk in front of the large window. Claire sits there but she might not be there because she’s always running all over the place at everyone’s beck and call. Anyway, she’s tall with long, reddish-brown, wavy hair and green eyes. She’s wearing jeans and a company shirt and tennis shoes. You can’t miss her.”


At this point, if our driver is still standing there, he’s been overwhelmed with useless information. It may all be true, but did he really need to know all of that to find me? Probably not. Do your readers need to know every single detail of events and descriptions to read the book? Probably not. The following is probably the best exchange of all.

Driver: “I need to go see Claire Collins.”

Dispatch: “Follow me, I’ll show you where to find her.”


Claire Collins, author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal, will be in the Greensboro, North Carolina area over Valentine’s Day for Second Wind Publishing’s Author Event.

One-eyed One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater

My seven year old daughter came home from school very excited to show me the new song and dance she learned. The song was “One-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.” As a child, I had the record of the song and it always made me laugh, it also made me wonder where the creature found purple people. I looked at my daughter and asked her that very question.

“Addy, you’re so cute. I love your song and dance, but where did he find purple people?”

She stopped and looked at me. She didn’t question why I didn’t find fault with this amazing creature to begin with since obviously she’s used to my quirks. She laughed at me.

“Mom, the people aren’t purple, the bird is purple!”

Okay, now I never imagined this creature as a bird, but her imagination is her own, and not mine. I just imagined him as a big fat furry purple thing with wings. She sees him as a bird. She sang the song again with the proper movements while she sang. 

“One-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater.”

“Right Addy, he’s a one-eyed—“





“Purple people eater!”

“No Mom!” Addy sighed and rolled her eyes. She’s very dramatic for a seven year old. “He’s a flying…purple…people eater!”

“Okay, honey. Fine. He doesn’t eat purple people. Why do you think he’s a bird?” She left me there pondering that question and went to show daddy her new song and dance.

This exchange happens in books all the time. I recently read over a rough draft someone wrote. Okay, since she is usually the victim of my blogs, I will go ahead and admit that it was my sister, Suzette Vaughn.

While reading through her wonderful prose, and looking for misplaced commas and typos, I came across the following sentence:

He pushed his glasses up his nose.

I stopped reading immediately. He did what? Then I cracked up laughing because while reading the scene, totally into the dialogue between the characters, the lead man suddenly stops, takes his glasses off, and shoves them UP his nose! Through my fits of hysterical laughter, I managed to wake my husband up and reword the sentence. I suggested she write something more like: “He situated his glasses on the bridge of his nose” or “He slid his glasses into place on the bridge of his nose”.


The intended meaning is obvious, but while reading, the original words gave me a completely different meaning than what was intended. Just remember it is very important to have the correct wording and order of words while writing. You don’t really want your character to shove things up his nose do you?


Claire Collins, author of Fate and Destiny and Images of Betrayal, will be in the Greensboro, North Carolina area over Valentine’s Day for Second Wind Publishing’s Author Event.

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

How are you? How about the elves, the reindeer, and Mrs. Claus? I hope everyone had a great year. I was a very good girl this year.

I didn’t ground the children for life. Yes, I know I threatened to. Maybe that was bad? But I didn’t do it.

I showed my husband I loved him. Okay, so he sometimes doesn’t listen, and his side of the closet is still a mess. Oh, and the car still makes that funny noise when I brake, but that’s okay, I still hugged and kissed him every day. Even when he really made me mad and even when the kisses were done while he was sleeping since I wasn’t talking to him.

I was a good girl at work, too. I didn’t fire anybody all year. Well, except that one girl, but she really deserved it. Oh, and there was that guy too, but he had been warned.

So, for the most part, I’ve been a very good girl this year. You didn’t see that little altercation at the grocery store did you? That was totally not my fault. She cut in line. Someone had to put her in her place. Besides, she only got stitches. It could have been much worse. By the way, when you get my sister’s letter, don’t believe it. I wasn’t nearly as mean as she says.

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t the best girl all year, but for most of the…

Who am I kidding? Just take whatever I could have gotten and donate it to a good charity. I’ll take my lump of coal. I’ve been meaning to light a fire under someone anyway.


Claire Collins