Writers and their Beasts: Beth Cato


Today my guest is Beth Cato, Nebula Finalist and Author of the Clockwork Dagger series as well as a new series that debuts in August with Breath of Earth (which I’ve been fortunate enough to read already!)

And today she has a new novella out (which I’ve also read!), another from the Clockwork Dagger world: Final Flight: A Clockwork Dagger Story



Another breathtaking short story from the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown, set in the same world…

Captain Hue hoped he was rid of his troubles once Octavia Leander and Alonzo Garrett disembarked from his airship Argus. But he was quickly proved wrong when his ship was commandeered by Caskentian soldiers. He is ordered on a covert and deadly mission by the smarmy Julius Corrado, an elite Clockwork Dagger.

Now Captain Hue must start a mutiny to regain control of his airship, which means putting his entire crew at risk—including his teenage son Sheridan. As the weather worsens and time runs out, it’ll take incredible bravery to bring the Argus down….perhaps for good.

Buy on  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

iconddNow…on to the Beasts!

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pet.

Porom is my cranky old lady cat. She turns sixteen in May; she was diagnosed with kidney and thyroid deficiencies last year, but the medication and low-protein diet have actually made her healthier now than she’s been in years.


We adopted Porom and her brother Palom in June 2000. I had been married all of a month to my Navy sailor husband, and had a hard transition to South Carolina. We were dirt poor–literally living on ramen and cake mix–but we had some spare money, so we adopted two kittens from the SPCA. We all moved to Washington state in 2003, where my two kitties kept me company during deployments and pregnancy, and then to Arizona when my husband became a civilian.

Palom was my buddy cat, the most extroverted, happy cat I have ever known. He developed cancer in 2012 and quickly succumbed. I still miss him every day, though Porom has actually thrived as a solo cat.


2) How does she help/hinder your writing?

Porom likes to hang out near me. Right now, for example, she’s snoring in an Amazon box a few feet from my computer. She’ll demand affection a few times a day, and she is ardent about getting her canned food and medication at exactly 6am and 6pm. Our big cuddle time is before I go to bed. If I’m not in my appropriate chair by 8:30pm, she will find me and scream at me. Once I’m in my chair, with tea and a book, I help her arthritic body make the jump so she can cuddle at my hip.

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

Palom was a major inspiration for the gremlins in my Clockwork Dagger series. Porom was a direct inspiration for a recent story published in Nature: “The Human is Late to Feed the Cat.”

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

Oh, it’s huge. My cats have taught me so much about compassion and love, and those are certainly themes in my writing. My Nebula-nominated novella Wings of Sorrow and Bone is all about saving gremlins from foul experimentation, and that directly goes to my affection for cats and other animals. I will never be one of those people who goes bonkers over babies, but if you bring out kittens? Oh yeah. My book heroines are distinct people, but they do take after me with reactions like that, too.

BethCato-HCV-smBeth Cato hails from Hanford, California, but currently writes and bakes cookies in a lair west of Phoenix, Arizona. She shares the household with a hockey-loving husband, a numbers-obsessed son, and a cat the size of a canned ham.

She’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER (a 2015 Locus Award finalist for First Novel) and THE CLOCKWORK CROWN (an RT Reviewers’ Choice Finalist) from Harper Voyager. Her novella WINGS OF SORROW AND BONE is a Nebula nominee. BREATH OF EARTH begins a new steampunk series set in an alternate history 1906 San Francisco.

Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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Writers and their Beasts: Josh Vogt

My guest today is Josh Vogt, who’s newest book, The Maids of Wrath, comes out next week!:

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From the back cover:

Having survived employee orientation, Dani is now a full-fledged Cleaner and is excited to launch straight into…full-time tool training. After all, what good are magical mops and squeegees if she doesn’t know how to wield them well on a job?

But when a maid goes berserk during a training session and tries to slaughter her coworkers with deadly feather dusters, the Cleaners realize something is horribly wrong within their own ranks. They must track down the source of the growing madness before it’s too late—or watch their entire operation get flushed down the drain.

(If you haven’t seen his first novel, Enter the Janitor, it’s also awesome!)

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1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

I currently don’t have any with me, but I’ve had many over the years. Those have included two cats, three dogs, two bearded dragons, and countless snakes, lizards, and turtles I gathered as a kid in Florida. My first cat, Muse, was diagnosed with feline leukemia and passed away after a year, but he was a lot of fun. The second, Munchkin, had to be given to friends during a move since, as a more outdoor cat, he wouldn’t have contended well with the new area’s hawks, cougars, bears, coyotes, and other wildlife.

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Dogs have included a black lab, Snoopy, a shar pei/lab mix, China, and a beagle mix, Guinness. All have been fantastic, fun pups that I was honored to have in my life.

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Oh, and the bearded dragons were Levi and Malachi, and were quite cuddly despite their scaly nature.

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

Well, cats are infamous for lying or strolling across keyboards at the worst possible moment, or demanding attention when a writer is trying to focus, and mine certainly were no exception. You just have to learn to “write around” them when they’re curled up in your lap and using your leg as a scratching post.

Dogs, I feel, can remind us of how much the world is a full-sensory experience. They can be alert to every little thing, which can encourage us to pay attention to unexpected details in our environment and include them in a story. Plus, taking a dog for a walk is a great opportunity to brainstorm a troublesome scene (and they also make attentive audiences when you need someone to read a chapter out loud to).

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

I haven’t done dogs or cats in my works, no. However, in my urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, one main character does have a pet bearded dragon named Tetris. As a germaphobe, she got him to prove that she could deal with certain responsibilities in life, even if she had to wear extremely thick gloves when first learning to handle him. As time went on, he’s become quite special to her, and her wrath boils over for anyone who might ever threaten her lizard.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

It’s one of those little (or big) details I think you can add to a character’s life to make them feel more real—even if their pet isn’t magic, doesn’t talk, or other unique qualities. However, pets do often remind us of how little we understand our own world in the way they sense things we don’t, and how often we ascribe even mythical aspects to them. They can hold special places in our lives, seem to have a sixth sense for when things are wrong, and share in our joyful and happy times.




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Author and editor Josh Vogt’s work covers fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel is Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes, published alongside his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor and The Maids of Wrath. He’s an editor at Paizo, a Scribe Award finalist, and a member of both SFWA and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt.

Find Josh:  Webpage / Facebook / Twitter





Writers and their Beasts: Pat Esden

Today my guest is Pat Esden, author of the upcoming (next week!) novel A Hold on Me, which I was lucky enough to pre-read last November.

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She never wanted to return.

He wants nothing more than for her to leave.

But the fire between them is as strong as the past that haunts them.

Annie Freemont grew up on the road, immersed in the romance of rare things, cultivating an eye for artifacts and a spirit for bargaining. It’s a freewheeling life she loves and plans to continue—until her dad is diagnosed with dementia. His illness forces them to return to Moonhill, their ancestral home on the coast of Maine—and to the family they left behind fifteen years ago, after Annie’s mother died in a suspicious accident.

Once at Moonhill, Annie is shocked when her aunt separates her from her father. The next time Annie sees him, he’s a bizarre, violent shadow of his former self. Confused, she turns to an unlikely ally for support—Chase, the dangerously seductive young groundskeeper. With his dark good looks and powerful presence, Chase has an air of mystery that Annie is irresistibly drawn to. But she also senses that behind his penetrating eyes are secrets she can’t even begin to imagine. Secrets that hold the key to the past, to Annie’s own longings—and to all of their futures. Now, to unlock them, she’ll have to face her greatest fears and embrace her legacy…


Pre-order Today!

Indiebound  Amazon  B&N   Books-A-Million



Like the rest of us, Pat can’t get through writing a single chapter without the assistance of her beasts!  Here’s what she tells me about her household menagerie:

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

I have a twenty-three year old rescue Quaker parrot named Conrad. A pet hoarder who knew I liked birds, phoned me to say she’d been given one. I knew she had about a zillion cats and dogs, so I rushed over to see what was going on. Her house smelled so horrible, I almost gagged. Actually, I did gag. Conrad wasn’t even a year old at that point and sat in a cage on the floor surrounded by furry beasts. I was so glad that I could give her a new home. And, yes, Conrad eventually laid eggs, so he was a she.

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Our newest family member is Haley. She’s a fourteen-week-old (at the time Pat sent this) Golden Retriever. We lost our last Golden a little over a year ago and are so thrilled to have a new puppy. The house feels alive again.

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(This second photo is more recent)

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

Conrad’s cage is right next to my downstairs desk. She is noisy, but I’ve gotten used to her screams. Mostly, she makes me smile and tells me when there are birds outside at the feeder, or squirrels.

Haley has disturbed my writing schedule a little, since she needs to go out quite often. But I’ve missed having someone to keep me company in my main upstairs office. It’s hard to stay frustrated about writing issues, when there are big brown eyes looking at you.

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

All my earlier novels had dogs in them. The Dark Heart series has cats—tons of cats and, in later books, one specific cat. I have to laugh a little; the only cats in my life have been the feral ones that hunt birds my garage.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

This is one reason I wanted to get a puppy. Pets help me get out of my own head and, as illogical as that sounds, that allows me see my stories clearer. I tend to go outside more, take more walks, play more, and that allows my subconscious time to work and gets my creativity going. They give me joy and force me to have fun.


pat-225PAT ESDEN is an antique-dealing florist by trade. She’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Her new adult paranormal novel, A HOLD ON ME (book #1 in the Dark Heart series) is coming February 23 from Kensington Books and BEYOND YOUR TOUCH (book #2 Dark Heart series) will be released August 30th.

You can find Pat at:


Writers and their Beasts: Tina Gower/Alice Faris

My guest today writes under more than one name, which can cause confusion, but I know her as Tina, so that’s what I’ll use. And she’s kindly here today to tell us about her Beast.

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

I have an 8 month old Chocolate Labrador puppy [Napa, pictured below]. She’s sweet, but also has a goofy streak (Typical Lab!).

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We got her over the summer and my intention was to train her as a therapy dog. I’d love to do volunteer work visiting rehabilitation facilities or a children’s reading with dogs program. It all depends on how her training goes for the next few years and if she can manage to calm a bit as she matures. Napa will be my first therapy dog, but not the first working dog I’ve trained. I also have trained Guide Dogs for the Blind.

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

At first, it seemed like any writing would be impossible, but we crate trained and that helped a lot in those first few weeks. I also go used to sprinting for word counts when she’d fall asleep. It became a game on how many more words I could get before she’d wake up. And because the weather was beautiful over the fall I would take outside in our fenced yard and let her roam while I sat in the shade with my laptop. I got creative, so I wouldn’t fall behind.

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

She doesn’t appear in my work, but some of her personality aspects maybe do at times. I’ve had dogs in my stories, but they don’t resemble her or any other pet I’ve had at all. I tend to be the same with my characters. I don’t use any people I know in real life to model a character after and I guess it’s the same with my pets.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing?

In my opinion, animals teach us a lot about empathy. They show love in a different, maybe sometimes purer way. Also how they read our body language. Watching animals helps me understand those more emotional parts of life and ultimately fuels those scenes that need the extra emotional boost.



Upcoming from Tina Gower!

Romancing the Null (coming soon in February 2016)—The Outlier Prophecies Book One:

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There are three kinds of lies.

Lies the fates spin as half truths.

Lies of destined love.

And statistics.

As a fateless, Kate Hale is immune to the first two, but the third kind of lie is her profession. After spending years as an actuary for the Traffic Department, Kate is promoted to Accidental Death Predictions. It’s all she’s worked toward, and her career is finally on track. But when an oracle delivers an impossible death prediction and insists on her help to solve the case, she might lose any chance of impressing the brass.

Her only hope comes in the form of the police liaison assigned to her department, latent werewolf Ian Becker. Becker can grant her the clearance to find answers, but he’s a wild card with a shady past who doesn’t play well with others.

Every prediction has a loophole, but if Kate can’t solve the case before the crime is fated to occur she won’t just lose her job–she’ll have the blood of an oracle on her hands.



CnpvipvrTina Gower grew up in a small community in Northern California that proudly boasts of having more cows than people. She raised guide dogs for the blind, is dyslexic, and can shoot a gun or bow and miraculously never hit the target (which at some point becomes a statistical improbability). Tina also won the Writers of the Future, the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense (paranormal category), and was nominated for the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart (writing as Alice Faris). She has professionally published several short stories in a variety of magazines. Tina is represented by Rebecca Strauss at DeFiore and Company.

You can find Tina at:

www.smashedpicketfences.com (blog) and www.tinagower.com (author website)


Twitter(Tina Gower) / Twitter (Alice Faris) / Facebook:




(I will be suspending this feature until Mid February, since I have a book coming out next week and will probably be horribly self-centered for a while! I will be resuming with Lawrence M. Schoen on the 9th and Pat Esden onf the 16th.)


Writers and their Beasts: Kat Otis

Today my guest is Kat Otis, short fiction author, fellow Codexian, and cat owner:

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

I have two cats.  Aurora is the calico (well, technically a “tortoiseshell-over-white”) and her favorite activities include climbing trees, climbing on her human, climbing on furniture, and chasing acorns.rao_26640A (2)

(This gets my vote, by the way, for Most Photogenic Pet Photo)

Macavity is the black cat and his favorite activities include eating, napping, destroying cardboard boxes, and escaping to run amok through the neighbors’ yards.  They both feature in my standard author bio as they are amazingly tolerant of my peripatetic lifestyle, which means they generally spend at least 10 hours a month in the car.IMG_1178 (2)


2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

Aurora is an accomplished author in her own right!  She often steals my computer to edit my prose, visit chatrooms, Tweet, and write long, impassioned emails to her grandparents complaining that I don’t let her outside enough.  She even ghost-wrote a few words for a friend’s story – for which she was of course paid professional rates of 6 cat treats per word.  She’s also quite skilled in opening iTunes when I need inspiration and shutting down my laptop when it’s obviously time to take a break and pet her.

Macavity is less literarily-inclined but he has been known to prop up books for me when I’m researching.  He would prefer to prop up something lighter – like an iPad – but unfortunately only his grandmother regularly reads e-books.

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

Neither of them appear in my works explicitly, but their personalities have snuck into a human character or two and the experiences they’ve put me through definitely inform some of the experiences my characters have. If you ever see a POV character panicking about another POV character being lost, injured, or dying, I’m probably drawing on my experience as a cat-mommy!

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

One of the hardest part of being a pet owner is knowing that you’re investing all your time, energy, and love in someone who is going to pre-decease you.  Unless you have a pet tortoise, your pet is going to have a significantly lower life expectancy than humans.  My fiction often grapples with questions of mortality and immortality – or at least extremely long lifespans – and how that shapes the relationships between my characters.

How does your immortal cope with the fact that most of the people around them are going to die and their relationships can’t be anything but fleeting?  Do they withdraw from mortal society?  Do they set themselves up as gods and see mortals as inferior?  Do they bash themselves against the cliffs of loss until they’ve broken themselves entirely?  And on the flip side, relationships between immortals must have thousands of years of history behind them.  How do those relationships morph and change over the centuries?  How much strife can they endure before they are irreparably broken?  And is there such a thing as “never” when you’re going to live “forever”?


Kat Otis lives a peripatetic life with a pair of cats who enjoy riding in the car as long as there’s no country music involved.  Her fiction has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction, and Flash Fiction Online.  She can be found online at katotis.com or on Twitter as @kat_otis.

And about some of her recent work:

One of my favorite new stories, first published in 2015, is “Whistles and Trills”.  In a fantastical version of World War II with giants, sea serpents, and intelligent birds, a plane goes down in a blizzard over the Alps.  How will the passengers survive?  Pick up World Weaver Press’s Corvidae anthology to find out!



#SFWA pro





Writers and their Beasts: Laura Pearlman

In the continuing study of why authors need animal assistance, today my guest is Laura Pearlman, so let’s get right to it!

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

I have two cats, Thunder and Seffie. Thunder’s eleven years old; I’ve had him since he was a ten-week-old kitten. One of the first things I noticed about him was that he was loud: his meow was loud, his purr was loud, and whenever he ran across my wooden living-room floor, he sounded like a herd of wildebeest. So I named him after something loud.

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Thunder’s worst habit is chewing on plastic–I have to keep anything plastic out of his reach. His favorite toy is anything that looks like it’s trying to hide from him; he likes it when I push a toy mouse a few inches under the couch, so he can reach it but has to work for it. He also loves treats, but I make the cats work for them. I scatter their treats on an “activity board”, and they have to maneuver around obstacles to get them out.

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Thunder’s other favorite activity is cuddling with me and/or Seffie. I’ve had Seffie for three years; she was about six or eight months old when I adopted her. Seffie is short for Purrsephone: she divides her time between the sunny areas of the house and the dark nether regions of my closet, so I named after Persephone from Greek mythology (the “Purr” is because she purrs a lot). Her favorite things are cuddling, being petted, chasing the laser pointer, and playing with a plastic spring toy. One of her previous favorite activities was dropping her toys into her water bowl, but she seems to have outgrown that.

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The two cats get along pretty well; they’ll often cuddle and groom each other, and they never really fight–but that’s mostly because, any time a dispute seems to be brewing, Seffie will back off. Seffie’s a little fearful in general, but she seems to be slowly growing more confident. Seffie and Thunder cuddle together and play separately; they almost never play together.

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

Thunder is very assertive when he wants something; he’ll meow, paw at me, paw at my laptop, jump on the keyboard–anything to get my attention.

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(Yes, this looks like an assertive cat.)

So that’s a bit of a hindrance. Seffie will also jump on me and start purring, which leaves me no choice but to stop whatever I’m doing and pet her. On the other hand, sometimes they’re the perfect writer’s cats, curling up next to me or nearby.

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3) Do they appear in any of your works?

Thunder was in my first publication, sort of. The McSweeney’s humor website ran a list I wrote of overly wordy LOLcat captions, one of which was inspired by a picture of Thunder.

The cat in “In the End, You Get Clarity”* was a composite of several cats from my past.

I also sometimes write about my cats on my blog, but that doesn’t count.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

After I adopted Seffie, I started volunteering at a cat shelter. Most of the cats live in communal cat rooms, and it’s a no-kill shelter, so some of the cats have been living together for years. Observing those relationships (and how they change over time) often reminds me that social structures can be much more complex than they appear at first.


*Laura’s most recent publication, her darkly humorous short story “In the End, You Get Clarity” in the anthology Unidentified Funny Objects 4.

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Laura writes stories about revenge, radishes,and regret. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Shimmer, Flash Fiction Online, the Drabblecast, Unidentified Funny Objects 4, Daily Science Fiction, and Mothership Zeta.

You can find her at: Webpage I Twitter I  FaceBook




Writers and their Beasts: Coral Moore

Today my guest is Coral Moore, here to talk about her most recent book and some of the furry companions in her life.

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(EROTICA) Mirabel Soto disconnected herself from the many people and places that triggered memories of her husband following his death. She’s avoided everything that might remind her of him for three years and never looked back. Until the owner of Midnight, the BDSM club they frequented, calls her for a favor and she finds what she was missing in the form of a very large, very troubled former marine. Carson Brewer returned from the service broken. Discovering the source of his trauma may be the key to helping him cope with post-military life, but he shuts down whenever he’s confronted about what happened. Only pain brings him peace.


But what Coral is here to talk about is her DOGS!

So without further ado:

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

Currently I am the caretaker to two canines. The old lady is Shiva, a mixed breed rescue dog who will be 14 in February. (Shiva is the black and white one pictured trying to climb into my strawberry patch.)

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The young pup is Clementine, a three-year-old Catahoula Leopard Dog. (Clem is the silly girl wearing one of my hoodies.)


(This, by the way, gets my vote for one of the cutest shots I’ve had on here so far!!!)

I am aquariumless for the moment, but I hope to change that in the near future.

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

Before I got Clementine in April I would have said that my writing was unaffected, but having a two-year-old dog bred for hunting and herding has changed my outlook on that a little. She’s very smart, and super active, so she demands quite a lot of my attention.

(As the blog owner, I’m posting this one to show that there are occasional down times!)

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3) Do they appear in any of your works?

So far neither of them have. I’m working on a fantasy story now that has an animal who has a personality a bit like Clementine’s though it’s more a fox-like animal than a dog. I think that suits Clem’s personality though, she’s very canny and has an obvious sense of humor.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

I think it does. Animals are treated pretty kindly in my works. I’m not sure I could ever write a story where an animal, especially a dog, is mistreated or dies.


518-0rHSdEL._UX250_Coral Moore writes character-driven fiction, mostly of the speculative variety. She loves aquariums, rides a motorcycle, and thinks there is little better in life than a good cup of coffee. She has had fiction published by Vitality Magazine, Dreamspinner Press, and Evernight Press. You can find her at her website (http://www.coralmoore.com/) or on Twitter @coralm.
You can find Coral at:

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Writers and their Beasts: Nicola Cameron

Today my guest is my good friend, Melanie Fletcher, AKA Nicola Cameron, and yes, she, too, has beasts at home who require that she write more so they’ll be fed.

So here I present Melanie and her troop…

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.

JJ, the Black Velvet Purrmonster, AKA my bodyguard, AKA A Gentleman of a Certain Age. A black American Shorthair, he’s the old guy – just wants to eat, lick his belly, get ear scritchings and cuddles from me, and snooze in a warm spot. That being said, he will still defend me against all comers, swatting (with claws in, mind you) at anyone new in the house in order to establish his place in the pecking order. My sister calls him Baldy and the Dark Lord. He goes out of his way to smack her when she visits. He understands English just fine.

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Jessica, the Grey Lady, AKA Jessie, AKA, Jessicle Vessicle. Solid grey tabby and alpha female of the bunch, adores J.J. to bits, loathes her brother Jeremy with a passion that passeth understanding, has found a minion in our tortie Jemma, and is the unwitting nemesis of Jemma’s sister Jasmine. Jessie loves to sleep at the foot of my bed, and can usually be found wherever I am (unless she’s sleeping). She tends to get cranky at times, and then pees on things to express her displeasure.

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Jeremy, the Big Orange Lump, AKA Jeremy You Idiot, AKA The Hoover on Four Legs. Jeremy is an orange tabby, which means he’s…rambunctious. Yeah, let’s go with rambunctious. He will eat anything that’s not pinned down, including lettuce, oatmeal, and the other cats’ food, likes to chase the girls, LOVES his automatic laser toy, mows VERY loudly when he’s bored, and likes to sleep a lot, usually when I want to vacuum the living room. But he’s a sweetie at heart, so I put up with the linebacker activity.

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Jemma, the Brown Girl, AKA Sugar in a Plum, AKA Brown Sugar. A gorgeous little tortie who is a friend to all, loves sleeping on my chest so that her fine fur gets right up my nose, and is the apple of her daddy’s eye. She and Jessie now get along fairly well, although every so often Jessie will growl at her and she has to kowtow until Jessie’s satisfied. Is addicted to rolling on my husband’s towels after he takes a shower, can usually be found napping in said shower, and also likes to roll in the litter box. We’re trying to break that little habit.

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Jasmine, the Skitty Kitty, AKA Jazz Hands, AKA Jazzy. A classic grey tabby, she lives on our kitchen counter because it’s the only place she feels safe from Jessie, who wouldn’t even notice her if she didn’t immediately crouch and hiss every time Jessie hoves into view. Is addicted to mint and would gladly stick her head in my mouth after I brush my teeth. Spends 50% of her time trying to sit on my lap.

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2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

I’m still waiting on the help part. Hinder, that’s super easy. If I’m writing downstairs in the living room I can’t go twenty minutes without at least one of them (usually Jasmine the Needy) jumping up and wanting attention. Jasmine is the most hindering because she wants to sprawl on my lap and have me pet her with two hands. Jessie wants to sit in the crook of my left arm, which at least gives me one hand free for typing, Both Jemma and J.J. just want a bit of attention then are happy to sit on the arm of the chair and snooze. Jeremy keeps trying to rub his cheek glands on the laptop screen and make it his when he’s not camping out on my lap (and he’s impossible to see over).

Working in my office doesn’t cut down on the traffic, either. If I close the door and keep them out they head butt the door until the noise drives me crazy. If I let them in, one of them (usually Jemma) tries to climb on my desk while I’m working. Eventually they get the hint and snooze in the background.


3) Do they appear in any of your works?

I’ve tuckerized our late tuxedo cat Jordan by naming a spaceship after him in one of my books. So far, that’s the only appearance that any of them have made. So far.


4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)


It helps when describing pets in stories. Apart from that, I can’t really say that being cat staff has an effect on my writing, other than learning how to turf an insistent cat off my lap so that I CAN write.


About Melanie Fletcher:

I write spec fic as Melanie Fletcher and SF, fantasy, and paranormal erotic romance as Nicola Cameron. The nice thing about writing SF/Fantasy/paranormal erotic romance is that it’s spec fic with all the explicit sex I wanted to put in but couldn’t.


Empress-of-storms-CustomDesign-JayAheer2015-smallpreview (2)


Empress of Storms (as Nicola Cameron):

When King Matthias of Ypres has to fulfill a treaty and provide a royal consort for young Queen Danaë of Hellas, the only royal available for marriage is … him. Can he risk letting a blue-haired witch queen into his heart?

From political necessity, Queen Danaë finds herself marrying the man she secretly loves. Now she must win the heart of a king, prove herself as a mage, and defeat the enemies that threaten them both.



You can find Nicola/Melanie at:



Twitter: https://twitter.com/melaniemf

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/melanie.fletcher.790

Nicola’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicolacameronwrites/

Writers and their Beasts: Michelle Muenzler


Today I have a guest visiting to talk about the relationship between herself and her beasts: Michelle Muenzler. To be fair, when I asked for potential names for this series, she suggested the title: By the Paw and the Pen. Although I chose not to change over to that title, feel free to mentally think of her post as one of those.

Michelle is, BTW, one of the writers with whom I meet regularly, both as a member of Future Classics and as a group that meets bi-weekly at a local coffee shop. She’s a great sounding board for me, and you might just spot her name on the Acknowledgements page of my upcoming novel, Dreaming Death. 

So without further ado, here’s Michelle Muenzler!

1. Tell us about your pets.
Despite my husband’s allergy to cats, we have found ourselves adopted by four of them. Smokey is an old soul, a touch diabetic now in his dotage, and prone to licking sweat from my husband’s beard. Nin believes herself to be half cat, half bird, half baby seal and in no way a deadly ninja secretly plotting to kill us.
The ever-fretsome Persephone used to love long walks around the outside of our house meowing at us through every window until we agreed to adopt her (and her growing belly) but now prefers to laze about inside unless I am exercising, at which point she is quite convinced I should exercise my hands to pet her instead.
Persephone and her kittens (2)
And her son, the lithe kitten Vibur–whom I must point out is several years past official kittendom now–spends most of his time spooning with Smokey and making some of the most pathetic mewing noises you have ever heard. He also loves destroying toilet paper, but oddly only if the toilet lid is left up.
Smokey and Vibur, cuddling (2)

2. How do they help/hinder your writing?

So long as it isn’t too close to their feeding times, my goons generally sleep peacefully about their various claimed territories in the house. Come feeding time, though, they excel in monitor blocking techniques and dragging the router off the desk. Occasionally, Smokey lets it be known that he intends to own my lap, and no amount of dissuading him will work, so I try to make do. Less do is made when he and Vibur are spooning in my writing chair–sure I feel guilty disrupting their cuddle time, but a woman has to write…and they can spoon in my husband’s chair just as well as they can in mine.

3. Do they appear in any of your works?

Out of sheer terror, I almost said no to this question, but then I remembered that my cats are illiterate, so it is safe to share information that might not otherwise be shared. While none of my cats are specifically named in any of my works, it would be remiss of me to not point out one of my recent publications, “The Cats’ Game”, over at Daily Science Fiction. If that doesn’t summarize all cats, I’m not sure what does.

4. How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically)?

I find writing to be much like cleaning out the litter box. It can be challenging to convince myself to do it every day, but life is much less stinky when I keep up with it.


MichelleMuenzler-FenCon2011 (2)Michelle Muenzler, also known at local conventions as “The Cookie Lady”, writes fiction both dark and strange to counterbalance the sweetness of her baking. Her fiction and poetry have been published in magazines such as Star*Line, Daily Science Fiction, and Apex Magazine, and she takes immense joy in crinkling words like little foil puppets. You can find her at: https://www.facebook.com/michelle.muenzler

Writers and Their Beasts: J. Kathleen Cheney

Yes, every once in a while, I mention my beasts. I’ve got two of them, a brother/sister pair, who control most hours of my days. It seems like most of the cleaning I do is picking up hairballs and mopping up after dirty feet.

But they do keep me sane. They give me much needed distraction when I’m struggling with that plot point that won’t click.

They guard the house from squirrels. Evil, devious squirrels.

And as I’m going to be regularly asking other authors to talk about their beasts, I should start with mine:

1) Let’s start with the obvious: Tell us about your pets.


Above we have Alwyn (top) and Penelope (Al and Penny to their friends). They are litter mates, unregistered Airedale Terriers, and weigh in at about 75lbs each.  And they’re a handful, although not as destructive as they could be, in the last two weeks they have destroyed the passenger side seatbelt in my car and yesterday they broke a dog bowl. Could be worse….much worse.

2) How do they help/hinder your writing?

I’ll start with the hinder, since it’s more obvious. They bark. Endlessly. LOUDLY. They’re insistent, and don’t heistate to paw me or shove their long pointy noses up under my arm to get my attention. It’s hard to work with that kind of distraction.

The help part is more abstract. They keep me from sitting in one place too long, and they certainly give me something to blog about.

3) Do they appear in any of your works?

Actually, no. In fact, I’ve noticed a distinct lack of dogs in my work (except for The King’s Daughter, which isn’t published.) Something I’ll have to consider.

4) How does being a pet owner affect your writing (philosophically?)

I’d like to think that being a dog owner makes me more empathetic.

And less judgmental. That person with the insanely barking dog? Yeah, that’s me. And I know those of you with your German Sheperds are looking at me wondering why I can’t train them not to bark. So if I want you not to look down your noses at my wild dogs, I’d better work hard not to look down at other people for…well, just about anything. Please be forgiving!


(Here’s where, for other authors, I would have a blurb about their recent work and a bio, but seriously….you can find all that on my website. Which is where you are ;o)  )