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

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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.

Meow.


Addictive

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. http://www.cheerios.com/ourcereals/ourcereals_home.aspx

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. http://www.secondwindpublishing.com


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

www.secondwindpublishing.com


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.