Writing, Cats, and a Friendly Octopus by Mae Clair

Opie1Say hello to Opie, my writing cheerleader, taskmaster, cute companion and occasional muse.

He showed up on my doorstep several years ago when I was working on a short story involving a hagfish.

If you’re not sure what a hagfish is, think of a fat, eel-like creature capable of producing massive amounts of slime.

Sound cuddly? And my story wasn’t about just any garden variety hagfish, but a colossal mutant with a fondness for underwater submersibles. Um, did I mention I didn’t always write romance? 😀

A friend of mine sent Opie along as inspiration. Granted he’s more octopus than hagfish (who really wants a pet that engulfs its victims in slime before devouring them), but  I was instantly smitten. Seriously, who could resist those turquoise blue eyes and floppy tentacles? And that bulbous head was just meant for repeated patting.Opie Crop

Opie immediately commandeered a corner of my desk and has clung there tenaciously. Since I no longer have a cat to keep me company, Opie has become the critter who dominates my work area when I’m writing.

But it wasn’t always that way.

My cats each had a favorite means of making their presence known when I was in a creative zone. Any good feline worth a disdainful tail twitch knows that’s the opportune time to demand attention. Feeding time, cuddling time, play time, whatever. Cats have an innate strategy gene and know how to employ it.

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Onyx sunbathing. He was such a good cat…they all were!

McDoogal liked to curl up on my lap, which was actually nice until my legs started falling asleep. Onyx preferred strolling across the keyboard and posing in front of the screen. But Arafel…leave it to a female to be the queen of distraction. Her tactic involved sitting beside my chair and meowing. At least that’s how it started, but eventually those soft plaintive meows transitioned into a caterwaul it was impossible to ignore. In a test of wills, Arafel always won.

Opie is far less intrusive but I know he’s there. Watching, encouraging, inspiring. And yes, distracting, when I get caught up in his excess of cuteness. 😀

How about you? Do you have a pet who demands attention when you’re working or a desk mascot that inspires you?

Mae Clair’s Purrrfectly Giftastic G*I*V*E*A*W*A*Y

Purrfectly GiftasticWelcome to the Purrrfectly Giftastic Christmas blog hop which runs December 14 through December 17 at midnight. Many thanks to Drea Beacraft for organizing such a great hop. You can find a list of all participating authors here.

Given the cute kitty mascot and the name of the hop, I thought I’d share a few memories of cats at Christmas.

Shortly after my husband I married, one of his co-workers offered us a kitten from a litter of farm cats. I’d grown up with two cats, two dogs and wanted a pet again. I named the kitten Arafel after the Lady of Trees in C.J. Cherryh’s fantasy novel THE TREE OF SWORDS AND JEWELS.

Arafel and McDoogal

Arafel and McDoogal

A year later, my brother needed to find a home for a beautiful two-year old gray and we took him on a ‘trial basis,’ worried how he would get along with Arafel. It was two weeks before they were able to tolerate one another, but they eventually grew as close as litter mates. Both cats loved climbing our Christmas tree and batting at dangling ornaments. If you saw Cadence Blue’s Pet Safety post on my blog earlier this week, you know these activities can be potentially dangerous to kitties. I remember coming downstairs one morning and finding both cats tucked among the branches of my Christmas tree. I think McDoogal went exploring and Arafel followed.She was the dominate one, but he was insatiably curious.

Onyx, Christmas 2002

Onyx, Christmas 2002

For Onyx, the last feline in my life (he died of cancer shortly after New Year’s 2012 when he was thirteen), the allure was artificial greens. It didn’t matter what kind — garland, faux trees, wreathes, etc. And the obsession didn’t stop with Christmas but continued throughout the year, encompassing dried plants, grasses and broom bristles. For the most part I couldn’t keep dried arrangements in the house, and constantly had to make sure my brooms were stored upside down with the bristles pointed skyward.

About five years ago my husband and I began using an artificial tree for Christmas and that presented a momentous temptation for Onyx – a feast of dried bristles. The odd thing was he didn’t look twice at real plants. I even bought him several varieties of cat grasses from a pet store and he wouldn’t touch them.

Wrapping paper was another favorite for all of my cats, good for attacking, rolling in, and using to slide across the carpet. Cats and wrapping paper go together like cats and writers. I always had a cat in my office, on the desk, my lap, or curled up on the floor beside me when I was writing. Onyx was there for the creation of WEATHERING ROCK my paranormal / time travel romance about a Civil War colonel who is transported to the present where he falls for a woman who teaches American history.

For my part in the Purrrfectly Giftastic Christmas blog hop I’m awarding a $10 gift card to Amazon. If you’re interested in winning, I invite you to hop over and “Like” my Amazon page for WEATHERING ROCK. Then leave a comment below letting me know you have.

I’d also love to hear any holiday memory you might have related to cats or pets in general. Don’t forget to include your email address if you’d like to be entered in my random.org drawing. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday December 18, so be sure to check back to see if you’ve won. Comment moderation is on so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear immediately. I promise it won’t get lost. 😀

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

WR Cover for webWEATHERING ROCK BLURB
Drawn together across centuries, will their love be strong enough to defeat an ancient curse?

Colonel Caleb DeCardian was fighting America’s Civil War on the side of the Union when a freak shower of ball lightning transported him to the present, along with rival and former friend, Seth Reilly. Adapting to the 21st century is hard enough for the colonel, but he also has to find Seth, who cursed him to life as a werewolf. The last thing on Caleb’s mind is romance. Then fetching Arianna Hart nearly runs him down with her car. He can’t deny his attraction to the outspoken schoolteacher, but knows he should forget her.

Arianna finds Caleb bewildering, yet intriguing: courtly manners, smoldering sensuality and eyes that glow silver at night? When she sees Civil War photographs featuring a Union officer who looks exactly like Caleb, she begins to understand the man she is falling in love with harbors multiple secrets–some of which threaten the possibility of their happiness.

Finding a decent guy who’ll commit is hard enough. How can she expect Caleb to forsake his own century to be with her?

Available for Purchase at:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Lyrical Press
iBooks

View Book Trailer for WEATHERING ROCK