Tuesday Purr Therapy

It’s been a bit of a week here, so Fergus thought he’d help me with this week’s post. Enjoy!

Mom, how could your computer be more interesting than me?

This is your conscience speaking, Mom. You stress too much.

Here’s how to relax. See how easy?

Now you try it. I’ll lie on top of you to keep you in the correct position.

Good work. You can have a hug.

Don’t you feel better now?

Stop back tomorrow for the weekly Maker’s Day prompt. 🙂 As always, thank you for visiting the blog!

The Writing Cave

Our crowdfunder for Fourteen Stones’s launch is coming very soon! I’m so excited to share this book with you. Today, as we gear up for the start of the crowdfunder, I thought I’d share a little “virtual tour” of the place where my novel took shape.

I’m not the greatest housekeeper (in fact, if there’s a list of good housekeepers, my name is nowhere in its remotest vicinity). To put it mildly, my space is cluttered, usually chaotic, but I love it anyway.

The writing space

My writing desk, which is pretty much invisible under all the stuff, was an antique-store find ten years ago, when my husband and I moved into our house and I set up my own office for the first time. The desk is a narrow secretary with pigeonholes and a front you can close, which I never do. Here you can see the playlist up on my trusty laptop, and the pile of notes I always keep around, and in honor of Fourteen Stones, the sketches I drew four years ago when I was fleshing out my fictional world. I’ve kept those drawings up ever since, as a promise to myself that the book would be out in the world one day. (And now that day is almost here! 🙂 )

Keepsakes

I’m a huge fan of knickknacks and keepsakes. The top of my desk, and the wall above it, are repositories for some of those. The feather is a hawk feather, found on a hike my husband and I took. The top photo is one of my husband’s pictures. The gray cat in the other photo is Robin, whom we adopted as an elderly former-feral and who was my beloved companion through her last years. The lovely colorful painting was done by a friend.

View of greenery

This is the view from my office window, out at our backyard. We get lots of birds: cardinals, chickadees, wrens (we had a wren nest this year), nuthatches, titmice, finches, bluebirds, and we’ve even seen a pileated woodpecker at our suet feeder. We also often see groundhogs, and many springs have had families of baby groundhogs living under our shed. (We’ve named all groundhogs Henry, just because.)

Books and stuff

And of course, no writing room would be complete without lots of books. I do have a keyboard in my office too, which mainly came in handy for my job as a church musician, when Covid closed the church I worked at and all of our services were streamed online. I played many Zoom services on this keyboard.

More books

The smaller bookshelf on the left is devoted almost exclusively to the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. He’s one of my great heroes; I’ve read all of the Discworld novels many times. If I had to pick one favorite, it would be Night Watch, although Unseen Academicals and Going Postal are also right up there.

Hardworking assistant

And, last but very much not least, this is my co-editor Fergus. He’s the youngest of our three cats, and hangs out with me the most when I’m working. Sometimes he gets a little distracting:

Apparently it’s his chair…
…and also his keyboard.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the “cave”! If you’d like to stay updates on all things Fourteen Stones, plus get Maker’s Day prompts each Wednesday, please consider subscribing to the blog. As always, thank you for visiting!

Tuesday Purr Therapy

(aka Feline Writing Motivation)

This past weekend, I listened to a thought-provoking speaker talk about the importance of finding and holding onto beauty in difficult times, and how beauty motivates us not just to admiration, but action. I’m mulling a blogpost that connects making art – which can sometimes feel like a tiny thing to do – with that idea. Meanwhile, though, I’d like to post about something that always makes me smile.

I used to think I was a dogs-only person, until back in 2002 when I met my husband and his then-cat Jackson. I’d had no idea how sweet, goofy, and fun cats could be. Cue transformation to cat mom.

Over the years, my husband and I have been “parents” to several wonderful cats. Our Max, whom we adopted a few months after we got married and who was with us for almost a decade, was the gentlest and most loyal friend imaginable. He loved it when I decided I was a writer and started spending lots of time on the couch, with my laptop. As my first feline editing buddy, he took his job quite seriously.

Our other cats have also helped me out. On days when I don’t feel like sitting and staring at a blank page, having a lap occupant – who will protest if disturbed – is a great motivator to stay at my desk. A noisy purr helps too. Plus, of course, the encouragement of companionship, given what a solo endeavor writing tends to be.

Today I thought I would share a few pictures of my co-editor Fergus. Fergus is the youngest of our feline trio, a rescue kitty my husband and I adopted in June 2018. He was a year and a half old at the time, but he’d already had a pretty eventful life: he’d had at least one previous owner and had spent some time in a feral colony (you’ll see his clipped ear in the photos). At the time, we’d been a two-cat family for several years, but my husband thought that our then-duo of Alafair and Templeton could use a younger friend to keep them on their toes. This was not a tough sell for me, although Alafair needed some persuasion.

Fergus likes to help out when I’m working:

This chapter’s a little slow, Mom.

Sometimes, though, he can be a bit distracting.

Somebody’s gotta hold up the wall, you know.
What else would this rug be for?

He is a cat of unique tastes…

Those are mini-cucumbers. Maybe he wants a salad?

…and multiple interests.

How do I turn this thing on?

He loves boxes of any shape or size:

A box is a box…
…but maybe get a bigger one next time, eh?

And he also loves hugs.

So much for my tough, streetwise image. But I love you too, Mom.

Fergus and I both thank you for stopping by the blog today. If you’d like to see more of him and his siblings Alafair and Templeton, plus posts about writing and art, and updates about my forthcoming book Fourteen Stones, please consider subscribing!

New in 2022!

Relaunching the blog after a very long time. Hope everyone is hanging in and staying safe and well!

My second novel, Fourteen Stones, is forthcoming this fall from The Patchwork Raven, a brilliant indie press in New Zealand. I’m thrilled that this book will be out in the world; it was a project of love that got started in the summer of 2015, when my husband and I went to Spain, and our adventures inspired me to write fantasy for the first time. Here on the blog, I’ll share a little about the story and my process writing it, my inspirations for it, and the characters and the world they live in. It’s still pretty surreal to me that this beloved project is going to be a real thing, alive in the world. I can’t wait to share it with you.

Also on the blog, I’ll share other writerly/readerly stuff, and some musical stuff, and – crucially – cat pictures. Some of you know I’m mom (staff?) to three cats, who pretty much run the house, and of whom I take far too many pictures:

This is Fergus. He sits…even if he doesn’t exactly fits.
Philosopher pose.

I’ll close today’s “preview of coming attractions” with a short musical selection for your Tuesday afternoon. This is a recording I made of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Bagatelle in G Major, Op. 126. Beethoven is one of my favorite composers, for many reasons I’m likely to write about in future posts, and this miniature piece (about two minutes long) is a delight to play.

If you’ve enjoyed today’s post and would like more cats, music, and writing, please consider subscribing. Thanks for your visit!

OBT day 10

#OBTChallenge Day 10

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression.

Speaking of anxiety, yesterday I had to have my car worked on (flat tire, long story). I was at the garage for most of the afternoon, about four hours total from when my car was towed there to when I got back home. If you’re a fellow anxiety sufferer, you know that being in a “trapped” situation – stuck somewhere, you’re not sure for how long, you can’t control the outcome – is a serious trigger.

I managed not to flip out at the garage (phew!). It was good to get home, but I was also angry at what felt like a lot of wasted time. I didn’t get anything done today. All that stuff I needed to do. As often happens, my response to the stress intensified it. I got mad at myself for getting mad. What’s wrong with me that I can’t just roll with it?

Sometimes we have to step back. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for not always doing things the way we might have wanted. This is really, really hard for me, but sometimes we have to tell ourselves, “You know what? It’s okay to be you.”

Today, if you’re frustrated with yourself, how you handled something, or how you can get sometimes, I invite you to step back and take a breath. It’s okay to be you. Really.

fergus snooze
It’s also okay to need a break.

 

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

OBT Day 8

#OBTChallenge Day 8

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. Last week, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s OBT has to do with holding a good thought about yourself. Right now, as I’m facing down resistance and some discouragement in the face of “stuff I have to do but don’t want to,” I’m taking a rare minute to think deliberately about something about myself that I like. If you’re like me and deal with depression – or even if you don’t have that particular “frenemy,” but are just like a lot of us tend to be at one point or another – you spend a lot of time listening to the self-critical voice in your head. It can be hard sometimes even to find one thing you think you’re good at, or something you’re proud of.

I’m pretty stubborn. Sometimes I’ve put that in the negative column about myself: “don’t know when to quit,” “can’t give up when I should.” But it’s also a useful strength. I don’t want to go through my to-do list today, and I have a feeling I’m not doing everything just so or the absolute best it can possibly be (for instance, writing query letters, which can always drain the go-getter feelings right out of me). But I’m doing those things anyway. I’m plugging through the list and showing up, whether or not everything is as perfect as I might like it to be. Often, like today, stubborn is a good thing to be. And yes, it does mean that I don’t know when to quit…and sometimes that’s meant that I can make things work, even when they might look hopeless.

I invite you to take a minute now and celebrate something about yourself. Maybe, like me, you have that stubbornness that translates to getting stuff done and refusing to give up. Maybe you’re good at finding the positive in the difficult. Maybe your trait is energy, or compassion, or some particular skill or gift.

Take a minute, focus on that, and honor it. Alafair (below) insists that you do.

Alafair portrait
You are excellent. Like me.

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

One Bright Thing, day 7

#OBTChallenge Day 7

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. Last week, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today, because I’m tired and need a quick smile myself, I’m going with a staple. Cat pictures. I take a lot of those. 🙂

This is Fergus. He’s photogenic, largely due to his funny face. (Hover over each pic to see its caption.)

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share! If you’re not on social media but would like to share something with me to post, crediting you of course, please email me at kfaatz925@gmail.com.

One Bright Thing, day 6

#OBTChallenge Day 6

My new goal on the blog for a while is to post one “bright thing” every day…or at least most days. This can be a tough time of year for those of us, like me, who struggle with anxiety and depression. The ordinary day-to-day gets complicated by the weather, the increased hours of darkness, the post-holiday slump, and very often, the news in the wider world.

A few days ago, I was feeling especially down, so I asked myself how I could turn those feelings around and put some light out into the world. The OBT Challenge was born.

Today’s post (which might also be tomorrow’s, since I’m putting it up late 😉 ) breaks from the music string of the past days and instead is just a short line of thought.

I was teaching a creative writing workshop this afternoon, in which we talked about how pretty much any storyline you might think about writing – a love story, a war story, a heist, a quest, anything really – has probably been written before, lots of times. The one unique thing any writer can offer is our characters, the people who live our stories, because our characters come from ourselves and who we are.

This morning I got up feeling pretty down. Sometimes I get very much into self-comparison, and I usually decide I’m not doing nearly as well with my life as this or that other person, or doing as well with my life as I “should be.” In those times, I start to wonder what exactly I have to offer at all.

But this afternoon’s workshop reminded me that, just as any writer’s unique offering to the world of story is their characters, so any person’s unique offering to the world-at-large is themselves. There’s no one else quite like me. There’s no one else quite like you who are reading this. We might be doing things, or trying to do things, similar to what other people are doing, and we might be inspired or daunted by the achievements of others: but no one else can be exactly like us. No one else thinks like us, talks like us, loves or cheers or cries like us.

And no matter how we sometimes feel, the world could not be the same without us, exactly as we are. No one else could shine the unique and specific candles we light in the world every day, just by living and doing and being.

So if you need a good thought to hold, maybe this one will help. And this seems like a good place for a picture of one of my critters, who absolutely knows that there is no one else in the world like him:

Fergus piano

As always, thanks for visiting, and stop back again soon. If you like what you see here, please share! Also think about posting your own bright thing somewhere on social media today. It could be a photo, a drawing, a poem, some music: anything that makes you smile and puts some light out in the world. Bonus points if it’s something you create yourself. 🙂

If you post your OBT on Facebook or Twitter, you can tag me (@kfaatz925 on Twitter) and use the hashtag #OBTChallenge. I’d love to see what you share!