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Once Upon a Winter’s Night

Much-needed credits go to the following:

Outside Opinion

Outside Opinion

Okay, so 2020 wasn’t the best example to use for this post. I’m trying to be more optimistic for 2021 (yeah, I know – it’s a big departure for me). Or I’ll save time and point out that writers are no longer trapped by the need to print everything out and submit things by mail like we did back in the stone age. Therefore, the adage, “where there’s a will, there’s a way” applies, and this post will still work.

Moving on.

If you’ve never attended a writers workshop – whether a standalone or as part of a con – you’re missing out. These little affairs are gold mines for writers. And that applies to writers of any type. If you look, you’ll find a workshop for ANYTHING. And COVID-19 or not, most of those workshops persevered this year, through Zoom or other mediums.

Most writing workshops follow the same format:

  1. You submit a manuscript you want critiqued.
  2. Everyone in the workshop reads the piece and writes up their critique.
  3. You spend the workshop going through everyone’s work, one at a time.
  4. When it’s your turn, you take copious notes (while keeping your trap shut).

Easy, right?

I’ve attended a couple of speculative fiction workshops, and the information I received each time improved my writing. I also found myself with new ideas. Not from the other people’s writing, but fleshed out of notes they were giving to each other. For instance, I’ve killed every prologue I’ve ever written. It’s where I first learned to massacre my adverbs. And the first workshop I attended started me down the path to writing more science fiction – simply because the overwhelming amount of fantasy presented made me realize there was an opening.

You’re in an environment with people who want to help improve your writing. Some have publication credits, others don’t. Some have attended other workshops, some are there for the first time. Everyone has a different background. At my last workshop, I was able to correct a medical fact for someone – something they had no knowledge of but that was commonplace for me. Little things like that matter, and everyone’s grateful for the insight.

Are writing workshops perfect?

Of course not. Humans are humans, after all. You’ll encounter people who are focused on themselves. I had several people who’s feedback consisted of, “I don’t read this genre.”

Gee, thanks.

I mean, I wasn’t a fan of everything I read, either, but I did my due diligence and provided concise feedback on everyone’s work. I felt it was owed as a responsibility.

I also had one guy who went on a long tangent that made no sense and had nothing to do with my novel excerpt. (Pretty sure he just wanted to hear himself talk)

It’s hit-or-miss. However, there were plenty of people who DID care and provided me with information I could use. And that was the majority. I also got to read some amazing writing. Writing I want to see in print. And I told those people as much. Getting to connect with writers is another perk of such workshops. You never know where networking might lead.

Putting your work in someone else’s hands is always nerve-wracking. You don’t know what they’re going to say. (Think about it – how much do your hands shake when you submit something?) But if you have an opportunity to make it BETTER, isn’t that worth it?

In my book, it is.

So whether it ends up being virtual again this year or not, I’ll be hitting Dragon Con’s Writers Workshop in 2021 – my second visit. And this year, I’ll have more confidence under my belt than I did before. Because I know that, even if my piece gets ripped apart, it’ll emerge better at the other end.

Take a look at the workshops for your chosen writing genre. Swallow that knot of fear. And pick out a piece to submit. You won’t regret it.

Less Than Smart

Less Than Smart

Explosion
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Have you ever watched wedding shows and laughed at the couples for their decisions? Do you think you could make better choices? That you’re smart enough to plan things differently and avoid certain pitfalls or mistakes? Maybe you’re in the middle of planning a wedding right now, and you have notebooks and binders full of lists, diagrams, tabs, and contingencies (not a bad idea given the current Apocalypse situation the world finds itself in). You and your potential spouse are intelligent, and you’re determined to prove yourselves smarter than all of those people.

Been there, done that – failed epically.

Our wedding was November 14th. And while I will admit the ceremony and reception went off without a hitch (okay, tiny hitch – he forgot his vows downstairs and had to run down to get them), everything leading up to those hours? Colossal disaster. And definitely not in any of the notebooks or plans. Which came as a complete shock because we were those people: convinced we were smarter than everyone else out there and capable of defeating the wedding misery bug. We’d laughed at so many people, taken so many notes, anticipated so many potential problems. We honestly thought we’d prepared for the worst – and that includes the Zombie Apocalypse.

No matter what you do or how much you think you’re ready, you can NEVER out-smart a wedding disaster. No one, it turns out, is that smart. Things you never thought of or anticipated WILL go wrong, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. (Well – cry; you can cry. A lot) We learned that the hard way – over and over the entire week before that ceremony. And the irony is everyone chose to tell us that – the DAY OF.

We thought we’d found the answer to avoiding stress – even in the face of increasing COVID-19 numbers. I mean, there was stress leading up to the week of the wedding, and I’m surprised I wasn’t bald, but we assumed that was normal. It was all going to be worth it, though, to have everything locked down and in place. Our planning was going to pay off and allow us to settle down and find relaxation. I mean, how many people have a week to get ready for their wedding day? It was brilliant.

In theory…on paper…

Our first stress-free day happened when we got home – three days AFTER the wedding. When there was just the two of us and the FurKids. (And, considering we were looking at leftover food stuffed into our fridge, there was some lingering stress) Our sheer “brilliance” found us stressed out, miserable, and regretting the decision to HAVE a wedding the remainder of the week. (Please note: WEDDING, not marriage) And there were notebooks, binders, lists – the whole shebang. We were SO intelligent.

You can’t plan for everything – no matter how hard you try. NO ONE is smart enough to pull off perfection (and anyone who claims so is lying through their teeth). Things WILL go wrong (sometimes spectacularly), and you have to let them. A horrible thing for a perfectionist to admit (and accept), but it’s the truth.

Did the ceremony involve laughter? Yeah – not always where I thought it would, but yeah. (I knew I should have made someone ask him to check for those vows) Were there tears? Yes – but they were the ones I’d hoped for. Did the music changes happen properly? Nope – but it was okay.

Did we get to eat at the reception? Damn straight. (Even if it wasn’t much since I felt sick after the preceding week of hell) Were we so happy to see friends we haven’t seen in ages? You better believe it – even if it was behind masks. Was I bummed the music ended up overrun? Yeah – I worked hard on that playlist. Did it break my heart to see people leave? Of course – I have no idea when I’ll get to see them again.

Will I ever do this again?

Not on your fucking life.

Weddings are a living nightmare – the people who tell you that aren’t lying. There’s nothing wrong with the Justice of the Peace. Given a second chance, I’d skip it. Correction, I don’t want to skip seeing the people I haven’t, but the other stuff? Yeah – out the door. It wasn’t worth it.

You can’t plan for everything, no matter how smart you think you are. I wish I could sit here and tell you differently (that was the original plan). Chaos theory works. If you can accept that, then have at it.

Ghosting (for Writers)

Ghosting (for Writers)

Ghost hand prints
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

What do writers want more than anything else in the world? To see our work published. To run around and wave a book or magazine and point to our name on the cover or below an article. (It’s harder to wave the internet around, but when you work in online formats, you try to do the same) That’s the dream – to have the world think your writing is worthy.

Why else would we work day and night at our craft?

Which is why it can sound bizarre, crazy, or even counter-intuitive for a writer to sit here and tell you, you may have to work as a ghostwriter a time or two in your career before that magical byline happens.

What’s a Ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter, to be blunt, is a writer who does the work and receives none of the credit. Your writing goes up on another site, often under the guise of another person entirely. Occasionally, it even gets attached to another author’s name (which SUCKS!). You have no rights to the work, and (most of the time) you can’t include the work in the your portfolio – no matter how fantastic the piece might have been.

Some clients specifically label a job as “ghostwriting,” while others skip the step, and you find out down the line as your name disappears from the posts. (Reading contracts closely is always a good clue)

Sounds awful, right?

Why Ghostwrite

So why in the world would an intelligent, aspiring writer EVER agree to do such a thing? Because it’s WORK! Even if your name isn’t attached to it, your voice, style, and quality gets out there for people to read. You may need to work within a specific framework, but your voice always shows through. No one else writes the way you do – no matter what. The more you write, the more people read, the more they put 2 and 2 together.

Also, as you continue to do a good job and build a solid reputation, the more clients start to contact you. A healthy job satisfaction with positive reviews attracts new clients. They aren’t going to worry whether you have your name plastered all over; they want to know you’re reliable and competent. THAT matters more and more, especially as plenty of “freelance writers” out there feel quantity matters more than quality. If you stand out for solid, dependable work, you attract MORE work.

And some clients ARE willing to let you use that ghostwriting in your portfolio. They may ask for specific reference links, but if you’re allowed to keep it and hand it to future clients? That’s worth it, isn’t it? I’ve had a couple of clients who allowed me to do so, and it built up my portfolio nicely, especially in the beginning.

Staying Humble

Do I ENJOY writing without credit? Of course not. Who wants to do something and not get the credit for the hours they spent researching, writing, reviewing, and editing? However, it’s reliable work. Some of my highest bonuses have come from ghostwriting work. And it’s WORK. I’m not foolish enough to call myself a bonafide success and demand that I get a byline every time I turn around. (That’s how you STOP getting work)

Whether my name appears under the title or not, everything I work on SOUNDS like my writing. I have a distinct style and way of writing, and it comes across no matter the topic. As every assignment goes out and spreads through the internet, people start to get a feel for my voice. They recognize MY writing – even without my byline. That’s how I view ghostwriting.

It keeps me grounded. It reminds me to stay smart and breathe when a new contract comes up devoid of credit. And it makes that byline work all the sweeter.

If I never did any ghostwriting, I wouldn’t be the freelancer I am today – because I’d likely still be scrambling for work. Everyone starts somewhere. So before turning into a writing snob, stop and think through both sides.

Writing is writing. No one else will sound like you – and THAT’S what matters the most.

I Say No

I Say No

Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil skeletons
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

For anyone who reads YA books, you’ve likely encountered this unspeakable evil: present tense. My first experience was Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games. And while I’ve read the entire series, including her most recent prequel (where she thankfully abandoned that annoyance), I loathed the gimmick. Which is all the affectation is for most writers: a trend that makes no sense for the story they’re writing.

So don’t do it!

I’ve read YA for years now (I also write it – so the pairing makes sense), and I have no idea where this sudden surge in present tense came from. But it needs to stop. It’s an obnoxious style choice that lends nothing to any of the stories I’ve read over the years. As a matter of fact, it’s the number one reason I’ll put a book back on the shelf rather than bringing it home. I’ve encountered the fad so many times, I now crack an unknown author (and several known authors) open and skim the first few lines to check for the abomination before I take the risk.

Present tense writing hamstrings the author – and the reader! Both are trapped within the current moment, resorting to countless flashbacks (the bane of the reader’s existence) to recount anything that happened prior to that instant in time. Such books are also limited to first person, denying a reader the chance to explore the thoughts and motivations of others around the protagonist. Sure, you can label chapters with other characters to get around this shortcoming, but it’s still a limitation. It’s why the Hunger Games movies triumphed over the books (something I rarely say). They fleshed out a narrow concept Ms. Collins failed to bring alive with her choice of tense.

Present tense is a worthless evil!

I think authors (or editors – whoever’s making the stupid choice to champion this tense) feel that present tense builds suspense or heightens action. As a reader, I assure you – it doesn’t. Reading present tense is complicated. It bucks the natural rhythm we’re adapted to, especially with those frame shifts as a character has to constantly recall events from the past. It’s the worst roller coaster ride in the history of thrills. You jerk back and forth, falling out of the story constantly. There’s no suspenseful build, no creeping anticipation. Instead, you fight to hold onto the story with everything you have, screaming internally for one concise paragraph.

The affectation falls flat, and so do the stories. I’ve seen magnificent worlds and plotlines sink into the mud of barely readable because of poor tense choice. I’ve dismissed entire series because I barely made it through the first book. I’ve refused to even read some authors because they only work in present tense, and I can’t tolerate one more. The blurb on the jacket is tantalizing, but my brain refuses to swim through the murk.

Your tense choice MATTERS!

Can you use present tense in your writing WELL? Yeah, you can – if it makes SENSE! In Rin Chupeco’s The Girl from the Well, she has a ghost character with a fragmented memory and distant sense of self. (Unhappily, all of her characters use present tense, which is why I never read the second book – much as I adore her as an author) THAT character? It makes sense to use present tense. A ghost adrift in a different age, attempting to regain memory? They would only move in the moment. I can applaud present tense use in that situation because it’s justified.

I’ve used present tense myself – ONCE. My short story, “Pains of Glass” features of character stripped of memory. She awakes with nothing. If you have no past, you only exist in the current moment. So I used present tense to reaffirm the loss of a history. It’s the only time I’ve done so.

Give me a REASON for the character to live and breathe in the moment, to race from breath to breath, and I’ll applaud your choice. Otherwise, all you’re doing is following a limping trend that contributes nothing to the story. Bethany Morrow’s A Song Below Water came the closest to annoying me the least with her present tense choice. Her character’s reside so much in their minds, in their thoughts, that the tense felt almost right. And then the action happened, and everything fell apart again. It was close, but not still not right.

Tense matters to a reader.

When you write, you don’t write for yourself (okay, you do – a little). You don’t write to match a trend. You write for your READERS. So think about them, and what they NEED. They need to sink into your world and characters. They need to feel emotion and share thoughts. They need to look up from the end of a chapter and wonder what time it is, what day it is. They need to believe those people and creatures you’ve imagined could be real.

They don’t need to throw the book across the room because they keep falling out of the plot, stumbling between tense changes. So unless you have a good reason for it, leave present tense alone. Let it die already.

Surrounded in Comfort

Surrounded in Comfort

A TINY handful of my favorite stuffed animals

“Act your age.” Don’t you love it when people utter those words? (As if you’ve been this age before or received a pamphlet on your birthday detailing what this age requires) My usual response is an eye roll and continuation of whatever I was doing that prompted the comment in the first place. Which includes adding more and more stuffed animals to my collection.

Oh, yes, I said stuffed animals.

Stuffed animals perch on the furniture in pretty much every room of the house (every REASONABLE room of the house). The ones in my office often find themselves on the floor when Tonks decides to play with them – an occupational hazard for anything in my office. And Juniper tries to take some of them as HER toys, and we have to rescue them and swap them out for the stuffies that belong to her. And there’s the fact that there are no children in this household, nor will there ever be.

Do I care? Not in the slightest. My stuffed animal collection makes me happy and takes my stress level down. They add color and memories to our home – much better than the stuffy, expected “adult” decor a person demands. We live surrounded by personality – not expectation. Which isn’t to say that we lack culture: I have a kitsune, an anhinga, alebrijes, and dragons of various regions. Not to mention the menagerie of various animals.

It always comes back to being yourself, especially in your downtime.

If you rejuvenate sitting in a leather couch with a glass coffee table and architectural magazines, then that works for you. That image alone gives me hives and makes me feel like I wouldn’t be able to move or even breathe for fear of damaging something.

Maybe you surround yourself with art canvases, easels, and palettes of paint – ready to capture whatever your muse drives you to create. It’s not practical for our household of critters (and I have zero art talent), but I know creative people who’d salivate over that possibility.

I like sinking down into my couch, surrounded by soft comfort and color. The cushy faces remind me that things aren’t so bad. (And when they’re knocked on the floor, they don’t break) For someone with uncertainties, having something to hold reassures me the world isn’t so bad.

Where’s it written that, as soon as you pass the age of 18, you have to surrender everything fun and comfortable and sweet in favor of hard angles and boring dreariness? I tried that for a few years – pushing my stuffed animal collection into tubs in a closet – and I was MISERABLE. My home felt confining and uninspiring. My writing suffered for the environment. Nothing felt right, and the words came halting and bland.

I lacked ME!

Now, I don’t suffer from that problem. Even if some people walk into my house and sniff at the abundance of stuffed animals tucked here and there. Am I worried about having the house featured in some magazine? Of course not – why would I? I’m more concerned with setting up a home that feels comfortable and sparks my imagination. That means fuzzy faces poking out from the top of speakers, shelves, and even the top of my printer.

Never let someone else’s judgement interfere with your personal flair. If your home drives your imagination and creativity, who cares what you use to decorate? Stuffed animals, collectible toys, skulls – go for it! “Adult” is a terrible appellation – avoid it at all costs.

Measuring…Something

Measuring…Something

Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

If you’re a writer or someone else who spends most of your day sedentary, you know the importance of doing SOMETHING everyday to keep yourself active. Exercise is a four-letter word, I know, but I’ve touched on how you can use regular activity as a way to recharge your creative mind. And, honestly, is it THAT bad to move around for 20-30 minutes a day? Endorphins are your friends. More importantly, they’re the friends of your imagination.

Six days out of the week, I do that crucial SOMETHING. While I wait for my Ortho doc to clear me, it’s nothing exciting and dramatic (you’re talking to someone used to kickboxing), but it’s exercise nonetheless. And I feel better for the routine. My little imagination brain cells click away, my worker synapses calm down and get more productive, and I feel like a human being again (or, you know, as close to one as I’m likely to get).

And then I make the mistake of stepping on the scale.

Who invented that idiotic torture device?! (I’m honestly tempted to blame it on a man because I swear their the only ones who benefit from the damn things) Four weeks of barre (five times a week) and yoga (once a week). Four weeks in which my hip’s stopped hurting, my balance (you can read that as “lack thereof”) has improved, I’ve finally been able to do a real push-up, and I’ve upped my weights from 1 to 2 pounds and considered going to 3 pounds. And the goddamn scale sits there taunting me?!

If it weren’t for the fact my fiance’ uses it for his telemedicine calls, that thing would have been chucked into the nearest trash compactor. (Or set on fire – whichever I felt was more destructive) I’ve certainly cursed at it, gripped it tight in my fingers and contemplated throwing it across the room, and made numerous threats at the little digital window. And then my shoulders slump, I slink past the mirror without glancing up, and I wonder why I’m bothering with the routine in the first place. (Oh, right – because it’s healthy)

Scales are the epitome of evil.

For those who may follow Silentio Sonante, you know that I’m one of those people with body image issues. Which is why I advocate IGNORING the scale if you want to check in on your health progress. It’s pointless and degrading, and it WILL make you feel like a worthless human being. Honestly, I think every scale comes issued with a gremlin that waits for you to walk in, gauging your mood so it can tweak the number to make you feel as wretched as possible. (And males are immune to goblins, apparently)

I hate that scale to the ends of the Universe and back again…about fifty times. It makes me feel worse than I do on a normal basis. It’s tempting to throw in the towel and park myself at the computer permanently. I mean, I’m a writer – I have more imagination than the average person anyway. Who needs endorphins? Plenty of people survive without exercise all the time. It’s a tempting path to follow.

Not the right path, just a comfortable one.

Instead, I’ve forced myself to measure this “success” in a different way. Screw the numbers (I’m a writer, not a mathematician). But I just rambled off an entire list of things I HAVE accomplished that didn’t involve numbers. My physical therapists are impressed and delighted that I walk in with a pain score of 0 each time. I’ve hit and surpassed the benchmarks they set up for me (and it’s definitely not from doing the assigned stretches…which I’m still not doing).

I wobble here and there on my ankles, but I’m also not using a death grip on my “barre” anymore. I even make the attempts at lifting my hand and sometimes succeed. Hell, I don’t even need the arm support for one of my stretches at PT because of my improved balance.

I’ve done push-ups on my knees since grade school. For the first time, I don’t drop down. I’m not claiming they’re the most elegant push-ups in the world, but I’m up on my toes. No, I can’t stay up on my toes when we have to lift one leg, but I’m proud I can do even that much. It’s more than I could manage four weeks ago.

And, yeah, single-digit weights sound small (even to me). Except the program doesn’t want you to go above 5 pounds. And when I boldly tried to start at 2 pounds in the beginning, I couldn’t do it. Having to drag myself down to 1-pounders was embarrassing. Being able to work myself back up has felt good. It reminds me that I’m human and regaining strength.

Not numbers, but success all the same.

If you’re battling that goblin, walk away from it. Look for some other way of “measuring” what you’re doing. Think of it like submissions: do you count the number of rejections or the number of times you’ve submitted your work to the world? You choose the more positive association. It’s healthier, and it makes you feel better. (Crazy, right?)

I still want to dismantle that scale (piece by tiny piece). It still makes me feel an inch tall when I dare to set a TOE on it. But shifting focus away from the thing that makes me feel bad to what makes me feel BETTER helps. We’re writers – we know how to shift focus. And we know how to turn a negative into a positive.

Final Countdown

Final Countdown

Wedding Prep Items: Gift Box and Program

Our wedding’s roughly a month away. I’m not exactly sure when that happened. Final payments have been paid. We have our guest total. The decorations are finished and tucked away in plastic totes for transfer to the beach house. (After we realized we only ought two owls last year – complete and utter brain fart) We even have the favors assembled and in the plastic totes, ready to go. There are still a few stray tasks left on the calendar (my fiance’s vows, which I know he hasn’t written despite several months of badgering), but we’re in the final homestretch. Custom (or is it tradition? Maybe obligation?) states I should be excited or at least nervous by now.

I’m not, though.

I’m tired, which I think I’m entitled to at this point. Other than the few tasks I’ve placed on my fiance’s task (Kuiil goes on top of them – our private joke), I’ve handled the bulk of the work. You can translate that to the majority of the stress. (Okay, I was going to shoulder the stress, no matter what – it’s what I do) I’m allowed to feel tired. I knew how much work was going to be involved; that never frightened me. I’m a dedicated worker, after all. Feeling tired is a badge of honor. It means I survived the process intact. More to the point, so did everyone else. (And, believe me, there’s a list of people who came close to funerals)

I think the problem is I’m more upset than excited; more disappointed than anticipatory. I knew back in March that things weren’t going to fall out as planned, but there’s a difference between theoretical thought and reality. Talking yourself through worst-case scenarios A-Z differs from watching them come to fruition. Eventually, you run out of internal pep talks, and they become mechanical recordings on auto-repeat.

And then the guilty side of your brain joins the fracas.

What right do you have to feel bad? Friends aren’t even HAVING weddings this year, and you’re upset yours isn’t turning out the way you thought? No one’s wedding is approaching “normal” this year – get over it. (As if the words “get over it” have ever actually worked in the history of the phrase) I bury my disappointment in cheer and the phrase, “I understand completely.” Never mind the words stopped having any meaning months ago.

Was stocking up on hand sanitizer and soap part of the original plan? Nope. Did I expect my father to gift us with two digital forehead thermometers to check guests as they enter? Definitely not. Was I planning to spend every day of the week in the house wiping down counters and surfaces with disinfecting wipes? No. Have I confronted all of those things with a gracious smile? Yes.

Do I spend at least ten minutes looking at the stack of RSVP cards sitting on my desk every day? Yeah. (Never mind that there’s no reason to even keep them at this point. The responses are logged in my binder, the preferences are marked in my notebook, and I have the answers burned into my brain) Have I avoided responding to an email because I can’t muster a bright, cheery response even through misinterpretable text? Yes. And does my guilt eat into me every single night? Of course.

So, no I’m not excited.

Probably a terrible thing to say, and I’m sure I’d catch shit about it in normal social circles. Do I have doubts about one aspect of the ceremony or reception? Of course not – I planned everything years ago. We’ve thought through the contingencies and made sure we’ll keep everyone safe. It’s not how things were SUPPOSED to go, but do I have doubts it will be anything less than it should be? Of course not.

But am I excited? No. I’m just tired. Tired and sad. Maybe talk to me in a month and ask me then. My answer may be different then.

The Great Couch Battle

The Great Couch Battle

Juniper on the Couch - FINALLY

We’ve always known Juniper was a strange Greyhound. While still a lazy, cat-like dog, she avoided the couch and bed. We chalked it up to her refusal to use her back legs. Planting her front legs on things presented no problem, but getting those back two up? Nope. It’s made for comical scenes every time we have to haul her into the car.

Especially when you consider she’s a retired racer.

Greyhounds have to jump in and out of trucks and vans as part of their routine. It’s a natural part of their training. No one wants to lift THAT many heavy dogs all day. (We’re not huge fans of the times we have to) But from day one, she’s just looked backwards over her shoulder at us as if she has a sudden paralysis. And while getting into the car isn’t optional, the couch certainly was. So she was left to her beds scattered in just about every room of the house. (A situation that worked for the cats)

And then came the fly.

For whatever reason, flies are where our weird dog draws the line. She’ll trample bees in the yard, attempt to snap up cicadas, and ignore mosquitoes. Flies, though – every fly is out to steal her soul. If a fly enters the house, she goes into full-blown panic mode and hightails it for her crate. We then have to go through an insane process of getting her to come back out. (After Tonks disposes of the offending insect)

It was comical and tragic at the same time. Especially the night THREE flies made it through the door. Tonks wore herself out trying to catch them (poor thing was sprawled on the floor in exhaustion), and Juniper refused to enter the kitchen to eat dinner. She was THAT petrified. We decided it was time to draw the line.

So we implemented the no-crate policy.

The next time a fly came in, we put the baby gate up. Deprived of her hidey-hole, Juniper miraculously figured out how to jump onto the couch. We were stunned. (We shouldn’t have been – flies were the only thing that got her to JUMP the baby gate in the first place) For whatever reason, the couch made her feel comfortable while our resident exterminator went to work. Since we’d long-since agreed the couch wasn’t off-limits, we left her there.

Didn’t take long for Juniper to realize the couch is a comfortable sleeping spot. She could curl up or sprawl out, with room to spare. There was just one problem: Squeak had made his migration to the couch, and he wasn’t impressed with the jostling motion. He also didn’t appreciate sharing the space with a gassy dog.

Thus began the great couch battle of 2020.

Squeak’s brain may work differently than other cats, but he’s still a cat. It didn’t take him long to figure out that if he shuffled further down the couch, Juniper wouldn’t jump into her “new spot.” We’d hear her whining and find her standing beisde it, staring at him. It got worse when Firefly decided to take up a spot, too. (Never mind that there’s a second couch in the den – she wanted the first one) We had to sigh and direct her back to her beds.

Squeak and Juniper sharing the couch

Morning’s became an epic battle over who could reach the couch first. Who got to the “prime” spot before the other. And who was willing to slide over and share. It’s amusing – almost as funny as watching Juniper slide into my fiance’s spot when he gets up!

Juniper finally discovered the other couch, but she gets grumbly when she has to shuffle out there. She whines when Firefly chooses to sit out there, even if he chooses to sit on the back instead of the couch, itself. The battle promises to continue into the future (and I’ve put my foot down on buying any more couches).

And she still refuses to get into the car without assistance. We point out the car is the same height as the couch, but she continues that pathetic paralysis stare. Logic doesn’t apply to Greyhounds, apparently.