I’m beginning to get giddy. I love fall. Fall is not here yet, but I am assured it will be spectacular. But…I am feeling the nudging beginnings of this transition.
A few leaves are starting to turn
Crickets are singing day and night
It’s a little too cool to swim in a pond
Veggies are being harvested
Wood is put up
Aster is blooming in the woods and in the garden
The blackberries might actually make it
The raspberries are almost past
I’m excited. Later, i might be sad because winter will be coming. Right now, I LOVE IT.
It’s humor, but it’s true. I found similarities between my cats and my mom. Does your mom have eyes in the back of her head? So do your cats. Read on, here!
My Velcro cat, Zorro, is probably like some mothers.
I had this experience the other day where I gave into Corona’s (our dog’s) desire to get on the porch, and had a scare…it made me think about why dogs love porches and cats love beds. Read it here at http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-dog-behavior-care-deny-things-love-porches-beds-bedroom
Everything is new! Usually, that is thrilling. Sometimes it is edgy. Once in a great while, it’s almost too much. But really, it’s mostly amazing and fun.
And there was a sense, the other day, of bringing in the “old” to the new. My husband and I stacked wood together for the first time in the new place. I think things had been feeling way too easy and soft! It was so good to be working outside together. Not that we haven’t been working our butts off, but this was a familiar kind of “homestead” work that carried over from the other place. It felt good. And then I processed a bunch of peas and beans, and that felt good, too. For a garden that was put in Very Fast and pretty late, it is yielding some nice veggies. I am happy.
Not my garden, but all gardens are interesting and beautiful. From Flickr.
I amused myself walking down the mountain today. Where we lived previously, we had to fight like heck to get carpenters to come help us. Here, there are carpenters fighting to help us. #eastcoasthustlehustle
I like to focus on the positive. Yes, there are things I can’t do at home because of cats (leave dangerous things out, leave doors open, etc. etc.) but there are many things I CAN do. It’s more for humor than anything (and hopefully, there’s some informative value) that I wrote this article on cats — read it here — 8 Things I Can Never Do Because I Have Cats.
Some animals have a quality that’s hard to nail done. They seem a little more aware, in tune, mature than others. I write about this Old Soul quality in some of my cats, and how it shows up.
I am easily entertained, and I love watching my cats playfight. Certain moves are universal, and seem to be part of the cat canon, much like archetypes. I’ve seen these moves over and over and over again. They amuse me. For your entertainment, here’s a primer on cat playfighting, at Catster.com.
Zorro and Norton have at it — hours of play and exercise fun.
I’ve been remiss and forgetting to post my Catster.com articles here. No real reason — simply life busyness. Ahh…the power of habit. Maybe I can establish a new one here.
Anyway, a friend of mine once told me that she felt sheepish attending a grief support group after the death of her cat. it inspired me to think about the nature of this kind of grieving, and why some accept it or understand it better than others.
I’m in super-love with my new landscape. After spending most of my life (except for the first 10 years that were in hilly country; foothills of Appalachia) in flat-flat-flat lands, I am back in mountains. I can’t get enough of them.
I think (???) the honeymoon period for this move is over…but I still love the mountains. I can’t get enough of seeing a clear ridge line on a clear day, the difference in the sky and the air (it’s hard to explain), the way streams rush down the mountains after it rains, the way light plays over the mountains and the various shades of greens. I feel as if my body is celebrating in tune with the mountains. I constantly see a mountainous horizon. This makes me very happy.
Why are we drawn to certain landscapes? This fascinates me to no end.
I have mixed feelings about Facebook, and social media in general.
I mention Facebook here, because I have not gotten into the habit of using Linkedin (on a regular basis) or Twitter (at all).
On the one hand, I love knowing what my friends are doing.
On the other hand, I’d really prefer sitting down to a cup of coffee with my friends, or at least having a phone conversation.
One the one hand, I love reading status updates (usually).
On the other hand, I never know what to write. I’m a fairly private person and I open up to those I know and love — in person (preferred), on the phone, or even via email. But Facebook — I don’t know.
On the one hand, it’s writing, and I love to communicate in writing.
On the other hand, it’s not really the writing I want to be making time for.
On the one hand, I’m required to use social media to share my Catster articles, and I’m expected (by my publishers) to promote my books in any way possible, including using social media.
On the other hand, it’s a turn off (supposedly) when people only promote.
I’m also aware that sometimes, Facebook gives me a strange feeling of sadness or discontent. I’m not actively looking for opportunities to be sad or discontent! So I pay attention.
Not sure what this all means, but it’s probably why I don’t bare my heart and soul on Facebook. I have a journey enough doing that via my books.
I know it’s supposed to be smart and savvy and the [next, or ongoing,] great thing, but to me it just feels like another thing to do. Being honest here.
Please know that I don’t judge anyone that loves FB and has had great success with it or other social media — more power to you! I’m just reassessing.
You’ll likely still see me on Facebook, but if you’re a friend or follower, and you’ve ever wondered why I don’t “say” more — well perhaps there’s a little insight here.
If you’re a close friend, call or send an email! You’re likely to find out more
I DO love to share cute cat pics, and don’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Setting up a new home in a new place has been soooo much fun. It has also been extremely edgy. But I’d expect that of any big change. Isn’t moving one of those “greatest transitions of life” — up there with death, birth, marriage, divorce, break up, etc.?
Here are random thoughts in no order:
Sometimes it’s hard to describe a new place. There are no words. It’s a little like describing another culture, or country. You have an understanding, or part of one…but trying to compare it to where you came from is very difficult or impossible.
Even the dumbest little things can feel edgy when everything is new, and even the dumbest little things can feel amazingly adventurous when they’re new. This is part of the emotional residue that comes along with moving.
I’m keeping in better touch with some of my friends now that I’m a longer distance from them.
I’ve gotten lots better about decision making, simply because there have been So Many decisions to make – often needing speed in the decision making.
Landscapes feel different. They have different personalities. This fascinates me.
People have been very very kind.
Getting in edgy new places feeds my desire for more adventure — hmmmm!
My new cat fantasy novel THE GREAT PURR is now available for order on my website! Get your personalized, autographed copy!
Here’s the description:
In a northern Minnesota mining town, cats have always maintained the Great Purr, a force that holds the Real World, the UnderEarth, and the Spirit World together. But when the Great Purr becomes corrupted and threatens to destroy the world, the magical cats of Ironton must work together to prevent disaster. Can Karma use her exquisite sensitivity without it destroying her? Will Target harness his gift of focus at the right time? And will sensual Kali be able to resist the temptation of the Evil that threatens to unravel The Great Purr?
A book for young adults and adults of all ages. Order your copy now!
I ponder whether Place can affect cats as well as people. Read my Catster.com article here:
I wonder if Zorro remembers Minnesota at this point — he’s pretty happy here.
Usually, I write about cats. But these two Corgis have made such an impression in my life that I had to devote an article to them. Read about the indomitable Walli and GusGus here at Dogster, today.
We all have a story, or stories, that define us. These stories direct us (knowingly, or not) in our actions. Some businesses skillfully use story to sell product (this is the most interesting kind of advertising, in my opinion). Sometimes I might hang onto a “story” for too long, a story that doesn’t serve me.
I am fascinated with story. Obviously I write stories (and books) because I am also fascinated with what I imagine as other people’s stories.
My “story” has recently changed in a huge way. We’ve moved across the country. Suddenly I am in a landscape that is completely different from where I was planted for more than 40 years. Green hills and verdant spring grass surround me. New wildflowers that I can’t name grow rampant through the grass. I break into tears at the weirdest moments — getting my Vermont driver’s license, for example, and taking the oath to vote in the state of Vermont. Up until that moment, I had not let the immensity of this move hit my heart. The DMV staff person who was helping me was completely understanding. We shared our stories! She told me of her own move, many years ago. I left with a strange fortified heart. Stories, to me, are like our companion animals. They break through all the barriers that we put up around ourselves and they get to the truth of the moment. Our hearts can open. Another time, I muster my courage and walk into a group where I know no one (a Unitarian church). The speaker that day is a rabbi — she speaks of the ability of crisis and change to break open our hearts and make us better.
I’ll be writing this story in the years to come, as I write all stories. I’ll write about how being in a new place brings up edginess and heart-aching happiness all at once. I’ll document my mind’s own silly drama (for example: “What if my car breaks down in the mountains?” “What if I meet a moose on the trail?” “My girlfriend is no longer down the road!” “These hills are so beautiful that my heart might break!” blah blah blah…) so that I can recognize it, acknowledge it, let it go, and move on.
What is your story?
A few weeks ago, a colleague and friend of mine, Ken Wachsberger, asked me if I wanted to take place in the Writing Process Blog Tour. I balked at first. I’m in the middle of a move across the country (well, I’ve moved, but my husband and the stuff are still coming) and the stuff that goes along with all this is monumental and never ending. And…process? I’ve never been able to describe it. Seriously. I just write. I’m one of those people who is baffled by this. I go to get a haircut, and I have no idea how to tell the person what I want. Also, I’ve resisted trying to understand my process. I don’t want to understand it – I’m afraid I’ll ruin it with too much examination.
But Ken, in his determined way, persisted. So I jumped on. Why not?! I’ve done a lot of jumping lately. I think highly of Ken, who I originally met when I worked for him as a freelancer, via Cengage Learning. Ken’s accomplishments are huge and his writing makes a difference. Check out his press and his offerings. He’s been an enthusiastic supporter of my work.
Okay, here are the Writing Process Blog Tour questions.
What am I working on?
Right now I’m working on two very different things. I’m revising a novel called The Vast Land, which takes place in North Dakota and centers around a troubled mother/daughter relationship. The mother is an artist who is losing her sight; the daughter is down and out in Las Vegas and must return home to make amends with her mother. It’s about learning to become vulnerable, and risk again, when you’ve been damaged.
My publisher has also asked me if I might have another cat fantasy novel ready for submission this fall (and publication next year). (My first cat fantasy novel, The Great Purr, is coming out this June.) I do have a second cat fantasy in the works and need to take a hard look at it to see if I can get it ready in time.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I have a tough time answering this, and I think readers are better equipped than I am to comment. I’m too close to my work. If I had to guess, I would say that I’m fascinated with everyday wonder, magic, and mysticism – but I’m not sure that’s so unique. I’ve been told I write compelling and strong characters. I care about Place and I’m fascinated with how it shapes people. Places have different personalities and nuances. I love nature. All this stuff comes up in my work, though I’m not sure that makes me any different. Every writer and artist brings their own filters, perceptions, experiences, style, interpretation, etc. to their work.
Why do I write what I do?
Hmm. Again, I don’t know. It just comes. Really. I write to express myself. Creativity gives me a feeling of newness and beauty. I like creating beauty. I like language and words. It makes me feel complete, though I do many things in addition to creative writing.
My creative writing seems to fall into two general piles – “literary” and cat-related. The cat connection is obvious – I love cats and I am fascinated with the bond between humans and animal companions. The animals have certainly taught me to be a better human. My memoir Driving with Cats is all about this. Cat fantasy writing is just sheer fun. I love to read good cat fantasy (Tailchaser’s Song, The Book of Night with Moon, The Wild Road, etc.) and I love to write it.
My literary fiction (My Heart is a Mountain and Voice Lessons) is shaped by my fascination with place, people, and human transformation. I’m always interested in what’s possible. Some people call it “spiritual,” though I’m not necessarily thinking about that when I write. It just comes.
How does my writing process work?
My process has been sloppy lately as I’ve let our Big Move (we hadn’t moved for 20 years; and I hadn’t moved out of MN for many more years) overtake my life. But I’m settling back into my process. The best process for me is to attend to creative writing first during the day, after yoga and exercise. Otherwise, it becomes too much of a war between creative writing and writing that I do to make a living, and that gets difficult. So things work for me best when I write first. I can write pretty fast if needed (4-10 pages in an hour or two) but I’m not a writer who can sit and write all day. I need to move my body and it objects if I sit for too long. Given the distractions of life, and also that I freelance (because I’m pretty independent and would probably have a hard time working for another), I’m actually amazed at the rate I’m producing and publishing work.
Now, introducing my colleagues and friends – Kristy and Carolyn are Minnesota authors who I’ve been honored to work with and meet – we share the same publisher. Kristy and I will be doing some joint events in June – check out my event page here. At any rate, here’s more about Kristy and Carolyn, who will pick up the Writing Process Blog Tour with their own blogs:
Kristy Abbott is the author of the novel, The Ghosted Bridge, a ghost story set against the backdrop of Minnesota’s I35W Bridge collapse. She also wrote the children’s picture book, Finding Home, the story of a homeless cat searching for a name and a forever family (both from North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc). Kristy is a working online content freelance writer and tennis teaching professional. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at kristyabott.com.
Carolyn Boehlke was born and raised in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and began writing stories as a child. She moved to Minnesota to attend college at St. Olaf where she majored in English and Women’s Studies and later she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Hamline University. After teaching college level writing for many years, she now coordinates the Writing Center at White Bear Lake Area High School. Her debut novel, Chasing the Moon was published in June 2013, and her next novel, Literaria will be released in June 2014. Read more at www.carolynkboehlke.weebly.com
A cat pic, just because. Kali (above) is one of the critical characters in The Great Purr, in print June 1.
If you’re local to or near Cook, MN, we are selling the following items. Message me through this website or via email and I’ll give you information for contacting my husband, who is with the stuff. I will update this list as stuff is added or deleted. Thank you!
VIRTUAL GARAGE SALE… REVISED LIST 5-15-14
Local or nearby MN folks — we have stuff for sale. Good Deals! We need to sell this stuff by May 20. Message me if interested and I will put you in touch with my husband (who is with the stuff)! I have pics of some of the bigger stuff, too.
- 27 light duty fence posts — 6 feet length,
- Two 55 gallon food grade water storage tanks (blue plastic), with bung cap — almost new. $70 each
- Two clothes drawer units. One 5 drawer, one 4 drawer. Pressboard construction. Drawers pull fine, but wonky runners so they tip when opened. $30.00 for set
- Ten used black rubber buckets. All good condition. All have handles except for one. $20 for the lot, $2 per pail
A bucket and box of misc. fasteners, screws, bolts, nuts, threaded rod, lag bolts, chain, plumbing and electrical parts, belt sander paper, lawn mower mufflers, misc small engine parts and supplies, household supplies, box of hinges, all types, various construction hardware, gopher stink bombs, $10
- Two mystic brand 80-w90 gear oil quarts; one pennzoil brand 80w90 gear oil quart, four valvoline brand full synthetic 75w90 gear oil quarts. All unopened. $4 per quart.
- Box full of electric insulators
- Three rubber bins of various sizes for feeding/water animals — $5 for all together.
- Outback brand bicycle carrier. For two bicycles. Designed for cars with flat trunk covers, won’t work on hatchback doors. $25
- Lumber never used:
Three 2 by 4 by 10 feet length;
one 2 by 4 by 8 foot length;
two 2 by 6 by 10 foot;
one 2 by 6 by 8 foot;
one 1 by 9 by 8 foot plank;
two 4 by 8 foot lattice;
three 2 by 2 by 8 foot posts;
two treated 4 by 4 by 10 foot posts(new addition to list);
two treated 1 by 4 by 16 foot treated deck boards ( if u want to sell).
- 10-12 five gallon water storage jugs; $3 each
- One Hamilton beach crock pot, new, still sealed in box, $20
- Two infrared heat lamp lightbulbs for chicken coop. New. $3 each
- Small computer kiosk — $15
- Orbis calorama space heater. Propane. Outside vent system and wall bracket. Rated 6128 btu/hr output. Needs short fuel line with flares and brass nut connectors. $50
- Plastic Garden pots, all for $10
- life/Look mags, $.50 ea
- turbine vents, $25.00 ea.
- G. Foreman electric meat grilling machine $5
- 1 spool of 17-gauge electric fence wire $10
- 4 new electric fence gate handles in package, $3 ea.
- 3 used electric fence gate handles, $1 ea
- canoe yoke, $40
- drafting table/desk, $25 note some corner damage
- 2 packages rodent sticks, in packages $2 for both
- Mr heater small propane heater/cooker $5
- two patio storm doors with glass, standard size, no handles, $10 ea.
- two heavy double pane french doors, standard size, frames no good, no handles, glass good $20 ea
- 1 pr. red, wood water skis with rubber foot covers $3
Four double pane good glass windows in frames:
Two (2) window sets, double casement (two windows in the frame), 49 1/2″ W by 54″ L; $150 EACH
one (1) window, single casement, 25″ W by 42″ L; $75
one (1) window, single casement, 40 1/2 W ” w by 42″ L, small corner crack in glass; $25
Measures include the frame. All double pane glass.
Priced per window, or $400 for the set.
My new book VOICE LESSONS (my second short story collection) is now available!
- Email cat (at) catherineholm (dot) com or contact me through my website or for details!
- Order by check or paypal. $14.95 plus shipping and MN sales tax
- I’ll custom autograph for you and include an attractive, autographed bookmark.
Order Voice Lessons now!
Linked by the theme of finding our voices, breaking free of constraints, and transformation, the stories in Voice Lessons look at what it means to move into a new way of being, or to reexamine our beliefs and internal stories. A woman who can’t resolve her relationship with her mother takes solace in the wilderness. A man leaves his corporate job impulsively, finding that the noise of ferry boats tugs open his heart. North Dakota hills call to a woman on a passenger train. A deaf woman wants to learn to sing. A moneyed couple’s life falls apart when their acquisitions disappear. These and other stories explore what it means to listen to one’s true voice, and act on it.
“Cat Holm creates characters who can find hope even on the darkest of nights. A deaf woman yearns to sing, a widower seeks to find the spirit of his wife in the caprices of a young boy, in a car wash, at Walmart, anywhere. How strong the desire to protect the eggshell placed around the heart, as Holm so aptly observes. From her stories about a mother’s death, a writers’ retreat, and homeless children confronted in a city park, readers will discover stories so great and big––just as the first story of this collection is so eponymously named.”
~Kate St.Vincent Vogl, author of Lost & Found: A Memoir of Mothers
- Email cat (at) catherineholm (dot) com or contact me through my website or for details!
- Order by check or paypal. $14.95 plus shipping and MN sales tax
- I’ll custom autograph for you and include an attractive, autographed bookmark.
Order Voice Lessons now!
I’m having a Book Sale!
FREE SHIPPING this week only.
Order any of my books through this Friday (2/28/14), and I will cover the shipping, custom autograph your purchases, and include an attractive signed bookmark.
Contact me at cat (at) catherineholm (dot) com or via the website contact form to place your order.
Please contact me rather than trying to order from my site, as the regular shipping costs are built into my website.
Additional sales tax for MN residents. I can ship internationally, and subtract the cost of US postage.
Choose from these books — or buy them all! Great gifts; good reading.
* MY HEART IS A MOUNTAIN: $15.00 plus FREE SHIPPING (magical short stories about people and place)
* DRIVING WITH CATS: $14.95 plus FREE SHIPPING (cat-themed memoir and more about the lessons from our companion animals)
* KALI’S WILL and LAST WISH gift set: $8.90 plus FREE SHIPPING (two fun cat fantasy short story chapbooks for all ages, with phenomenal covers by the talented Matt Socha)
Take advantage of this sale and order now!
What keeps a writer going? What should keep a writer going? Is it publication? I’m not so sure. We all dream of publication. We want our work out there. And yes, it’s a very very cool thing when a reader (a stranger!) comes to you, or writes to you, and tells you that your book really moved them, or really made an impact. Then, it all feels worth it. WE want to matter. We want to connect. We want our work to move people.
Publication comes with a lot of stuff. It is a hell of a lot of work. Unless you’re super well known, and/or have the means to hire help, promotion is GRUELING. It takes time. You run into roadblocks. You get doors slammed in your face. Hey – just like pre-publication! Life isn’t so different. The rejections just take on a new form. And, you become more public. Now, you have a persona. Me, I just like to be myself. But maybe I am sometimes too much myself. I run the danger of creating all kinds of mental angst around this that may or may not be valuable.
I’m not dissing publication. I love that my books are out there. But I’m realistic. I see lots in the world about helping writers get published (self or traditional). I see very little about how we get to mentally deal with all the stuff that comes with publication. Are you prepared to be more public? Are you prepared for the work? How will you still find time to write? The latter, I believe, is a real concern. Promotion and all the busyness we create around it can totally suck away the time needed for new writing. Not to mention that it can simply tire you out, and dampen the creative flame.
The flame must be nurtured.
In the end, I think we must always come back to the creation (and revision) of the work. That’s where the true joy, and the true self, is for me. Alexs Pate said this to us once, at a workshop I took years ago at the Loft. Naïve writer that I was, I didn’t believe him yet. Because what could be better than being published!? He was; I wasn’t, yet. Alexs said that in the end, you must write for the love of writing, and revising, and creating, and working with language. Even if the whole world stops reading books, even if our communication becomes reduced to facebook and twitter snippets or reality shows or the latest social media platform–if you’re wired, to write, you must write. And that grounds me, today. I can, and will, always return to my writing – regardless of whether or not the book sells well, whether it ever sells, whether or not it gets reviewed, whether my friends like it, or whatever. It does take courage.
Write on. In the face of all the busyness, this might be one of most true things we ever do.
Sometimes, big insights come accidentally. My orange cat Chester recently grieved the loss of his cat buddy, Karma, in November. I had the hunch that the normally sociable Chester needed a little more space, so I began taking him to my office. The transformation has been remarkable and noticeable. Read the full article here:
Chester hogs my chair — in the office!
Sometimes, our cats get fussy about eating. Medical causes need to be ruled out first, but if nothing seems to be wrong health-wise, here are some suggestions to try and tempt a picky cat into eating. Read the article here:
Here’s Zorro, a beautiful cat who showed up here right before winter. I can’t get near him yet, but he is getting less shy. I’ve had to practice a balance of action and non-attachment. It’s hard! I just want to protect him. But I can’t, entirely.
We provide him with a straw bed in the garage, and food and water. He uses all. However, I know that he wanders a little at night. I can’t help worrying. I am happy to have provided him protection from very bitterly cold nights here. I wish I could completely protect him. But that will only happen if I tame him and get him inside. Live trapping is another possibility.
He’s a beautiful cat, and I wish that no cat had to suffer.
May all beings be free from suffering.
Author event with Cat Holm and Angie Holland Bailey — Cat Appreciation Night at Magers and Quinn, Thursday, January 23, 7 p.m.
Twin Cities area folks, please join Angie Bailey and me for a double author event and a celebration of CATS (yes, cats!) on Thursday, January 23, Magers and Quinn, 7 p.m.
We’ll sign our books and we’ll have cat-themed treats for you and your cat. We’re both looking forward to this, and we know you cat lovers are, too. So come and join us!
- Angie Bailey is the author of the terrific cat humor book whiskerlist: the kitty classifieds. What if kitties had a Craigslist? This book lays it out!
- I’ll be signing Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time — my cat-themed memoir that celebrates the bond we share with our cats!
Come along, and bring your friends. Fun will be had by all. See you there!