State of the Author: Harried

Wow. Just too many balls in the air.

So far this week, I’ve had two feral cats to the vet for different issues. The first one, our little Steve Rogers kitten (my husband named the litter this time, so we have a bunch of furry, hissy little Avengers) had to go in for a severe upper respiratory infection. The fact that I could scruff him tells you how low he felt. I came home with antibiotics that we’re mixing in either wet cat food or baby food, and hoping for the best … because I can’t medicate him. The good news is, he and the other kittens (as well as mama) are chowing down on it … and while it means none of them get the full abx load, they are at least not going to be harmed by it. Plus, they are still comfort nursing at 12 weeks old, so they’re getting it through mama as well.

Our local TNR service is still shut down pending permission from the state to open; I will be *so* relieved when they do.

This particular adventure meant that I could not get my oil changed and do a small grocery shop, which I need for this weekend (more on that in a moment).

Then, last night one of our ferals (who tends to thinness anyway) showed up downright emaciated. He wasn’t interested in food, and his stool was disturbing (I won’t gross you out). Luckily, D’Artagnan adores me. I was able to pick him up, crate him, and take him to the emergency vet. Now, of course, I can’t go in with him … and he kind of freaked out in the exam room with a bunch of strangers. However, the emergency vet is The Cat Whisperer, and she was able to calm him down to do a full exam. Temp, organs, etc., all normal. However, he has intestinal parasites. She administered a broad spectrum oral dewormer. My instructions were to bring him home, keep him inside for the night, and offer him baby food to eat because that’s easy to digest.

Okay. I raise our son on the phone, and he goes to the store for chicken or turkey baby food while I come home with D’Artagnan. I set up a hospital in the bathroom, with water and baby food in dishes, and let D’Artagnan out of the crate. He is clingy and frightened, so I go get a pillow and lie down on the floor with him. He goes to sleep three times, wanting to touch me each time. The third time, my tired old ass gets off the floor and goes to bed.

An hour later, there is a serious disturbance going on in the bathroom. D’artagnan is in the shower, trying to get out the window, knocking shampoo bottles off the shelves. At some point, he stepped in the baby food … and I still keep finding patches that need to be cleaned off.

Needless to say, he’s put back in the crate and taken outside again, where he proceeds to eat some baby food and go to sleep.

I went back to bed after 3 AM, and woke up at 6. Our son’s friend, who has been staying with us, looked at me and said “Do you really have to be up right now? Because if not, you should go back to bed.”

I went outside to see D’Artagnan first. He came trotting up, ate a good amount of dry food, broke wind (a side effect of the dewormer), and trotted off to do something else.

That something else involved hunting down and bringing me an enormous alligator lizard that he’d just caught (the poor thing was still squirming). He subsequently dispatched and ate it, so I guess his appetite is back.

This is the second critter that I’ve been brought by a feral in as many days; yesterday, Julius gave me a dead mole. Apparently, I need lessons in providing!

So, all of this is happening while I try to prep for a road trip to see my mom. She’s been struggling with isolation since the shelter-in-place began. After my dad passed, she was doing okay because she could see friends. Well, now she can’t … so I’m driving up to Oregon early tomorrow morning to spend a week with her.

My husband is out right now getting the oil changed in the car and doing my grocery shopping. Why? Because I finally said “I can’t keep all of these balls in the air, between household responsibilities, day job, the cat emergencies, and trying to write.” So, today he took the day off to help me.

And that, my friends, is why I am harried. It is also why blogging will be a little “off” for the next week or so. Do follow me on Instagram if you aren’t already. Adventures will mostly be documented there.

Another Diploma!

After creating two characters who are travel writers (Diana Corbett in Bayou Fire and Stephanie Marlowe in my current work-in-progress, Pompeii Fire), I decided to learn what they actually do!

Feedback Form Sent By: Eva Chelmsford

Course Title:     Travel Writing Business Diploma

Overall Grade:  Distinction

Overall Percentage:   94%

Overall strengths of assessment including understanding demonstrated:

An outstanding result, your answers were knowledgeable, explanatory and well written which outlined an overall knowledge and comprehension of the course material.  Congratulations! 

Areas for improvement if necessary in this assessment:

Not applicable. 

Music Monday: “Down on the Corner”

Well, here we are on Day 10 of the challenge. I am trying to get past my dislike of the new “block editor” here on WordPress. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Anyway, today’s challenge is “a song that’s been stuck in your head.” This could be for good or ill, I suppose. In any event, here’s one of mine: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner.” Enjoy!

Sample Saturday: “Sui Generis”

Sui Generis - NEWI entered this essay in an Editor Unleashed forum competition eleven years ago,  for which the theme was “Why I Write.”

Raison d’ecrire

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Whether it was little stories for myself, poetry or plays for class assignments or even some truly dreadful fan fiction, there have always been words pouring from my pencil or pen.

“Why” is an interesting question. I have many friends who have never felt the urge to write anything beyond their school assignments, let alone write and publish a book (I have three under my belt and am working on a fourth). It would be easy to be flippant and say “the voices in my head want to get out,” but it is so much more than that.

Honestly, I think it’s because I, like so many humans around the world, find stories compelling. We learn things about other people and cultures when we read or hear stories, and we learn things about ourselves when we write stories to be shared.

There’s another part of the equation that needs to be considered, though.
What does it mean to “be a writer”?

First of all, I’m figuring out that it had best be a very spiritual thing, because not everyone will like what you do. Objectively, you can know that your work is better than thus-and-so’s, but ultimately you need to remember that judges (i.e., your readers) are subjective.

I know when my writing misses the mark; likewise, I know when I’ve done something that is pretty remarkable. The failure of those more remarkable pieces to inferior ones, where contest accolades are concerned, most likely says more about the judges than the overall quality of the material.

Another thing that, to me, is part and parcel of being a writer is being a reader. Get to know what you like about a particular work. Why does it strike a chord with you?

A very recent example, for me, was when I read a well-known romance author’s latest release for one of my book clubs. I found the plot tired and formulaic, and her writing to be a little … dull. I thought that part of my problem was that I’ve become a little long in the tooth to relate to 20-something, beautiful bluestocking virgins. (Did I mention that this book was rather formulaic?)

But then, I started a book that showed me that my assumption was false.
I never read Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle as a kid. I loved her other books, The Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Starlight Bark, and blame those books for the Dalmatian hair on my dark clothes today.

However, I digress.

The heroine of I Capture the Castle is a 17-year-old bluestocking, living with her impoverished family in an English castle during the war years. I am completely hooked by this book because of Smith’s gorgeous prose.

So, I figured out part of it. I write because I love to read a good story. I write because I want to share my thoughts. I write because I learn something about myself each and every time I work on a project.

Mostly, I write because some stories need to be told. I can’t always find the words right away; I haven’t found the words yet to write about Ruth Leggett, who was like a second mother to me. She passed away in 2008. I don’t know when I’ll find the words to write about my beautiful kitten, Gigi, who lost her struggle against illness today, November 7, at only 14 weeks of age. But I know that the words will come someday because some stories need to be told.

I also write because the voices in my head want to get out.

Sui Generis is perma-free on several sites. Here are the links and description:

Author Sharon E. Cathcart (In The Eye of The Beholder, Les Pensees Dangereuses) presents a sampler of essays and short fiction. The collection features “Heart of Stone,” a short story never previously published.

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Fnac (France)


Mondadori (Italy)

Overdrive (via your local library)



Weekend Reads: “It Was Never About a Hot Dog and a Coke”

It was never about a hotdog and a CokeIt was never about a hotdog and a Coke by Rodney L. Hurst Sr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

August 27, 2020, will be the 60th anniversary of a horrific event in the history of Jacksonville, Fla.: Ax Handle Saturday.

Rodney Hurst was 16 years old when the event took place. He was president of his local NAACP Youth Council chapter; his elementary school history teacher, Rutledge Pearson was the adult advisor. Pearson encouraged Hurst to join the chapter at age 11. The students learned public speaking techniques and parliamentary procedure, as well as how to coordinate actions for civil rights.

Thus, Hurst and some of his fellow council members planned a sit-in at the local Woolworth lunch counter. Black people could shop at Woolworth with no problem, but they were expected to sit at a separate lunch counter located on the top story of the store next to the restroom. Reasoning that if they could pay for things on the first floor, they should also eat on the first floor, the students each went in and bought an item. That way, they would have receipts to prove that Woolworth had accepted their money. Then, they went to the lunch counter.

After a few sit-ins, where they were refused service, the local Klan got wind of the situation and planned a day when they would go beat Black people up, using baseball bats and ax handles that would be strategically placed for access. Local law enforcement turned a blind eye and shop owners locked their doors to prevent Black people from being able to escape the violence. White people who tried to help them were subject to similar abuses.

Hurst not only writes about that day but also about the aftermath, including a “selective buying campaign,” as they called their boycott of downtown businesses that had closed their doors. Hurst also discusses his work with other civil rights leaders of the era, who listened to his experiences rather than dismissing him because of his youth.

As the title of the book points out, integrating the lunch counters (which did eventually happen in Jacksonville) was not about eating lunch but about pointing out the hypocrisy and ensuring equal access.

Highly recommended for those who wish to have a better understanding of the times, and of Black history beyond the more famous incidents and people.

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