THE HAVOC MACHINE: http://www.amazon.com/Havoc-Machine-Nov
THE IMPOSSIBLE CUBE: http://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Cube-N
THE DOOMSDAY VAULT: http://www.amazon.com/Doomsday-Vault-No
This was a potentially devastating problem. Darwin was already greatly attached to both Alec and Dinah. I hated the idea of bringing the cats to a new home, only to turn around and send them back to cages the next day.
However, Aran had recently come off a cold. Maybe this was just some last gasp of the virus.
We gave Aran an antihistimine and sent him to bed. I spent a restless night, wondering how things would turn out.
In the morning, Aran slept way in. I finally got him up and made him come upstairs from his basement bedroom. His eyes were fine, and his nose wasn't runny. I had him pet and hold both cats for a while, then I went for a run. An hour later, he showed no signs of distress. Eyes were clear, nose not running, no sneezing. Now, three hours later, we're showing nothing.
False alarm? It's looking that way. We'll watch for the rest of the day.
Now we just needed the actual cats.
I did some checking. One of the local animal shelters was holding an adoption event at a pet store only a few minutes away. Perfect! After school and work was over, we all bundled into the car and headed over.
The pet store had reindeer in the parking lot. Real ones in a pen. You couldn't pet them--apparently reindeer are grumpy. Probably all that sleigh pulling. And Santa and Mrs. Claus were in the store, too.
The store's "Kitty City" only a had a few cats, but it turned out the shelter cats were next door in an empty store front. We wandered over and found dozens of cats stacked in three-high cages. Old cats, young cats, kittens, playful cats, sleepy cats, fat cats, slim cats. I was struck by a huge, plump gentlemen who spread out over most of the floor of his cage. "Spatula Cat requires a spatula to move."
Darwin wanted a kitten. I didn't care as long as we had two cats--one cat will become bored and tear up the house, but two cats will amuse each other.
Maksim became enamored of a young gray tabby named Dinah. She was very vocal and reached through the bars, demanding attention. The volunteers let him hold her, and he quickly proclaimed he wanted to bring her home. I said we'd put her on the short list.
I examined a couple of black cats. Adult black cats are especially hard to adopt--a lot of people are stupid about black cats and avoid them out of fear of bad luck and witches, so they die in shelters. Darwin really liked a long (LONG!) hair calico. I pointed out that she would be a major shedding risk, but didn't object strenuously. Darwin was already looking sideways at having a cat, so I wasn't going to reject a cat he liked. He repeated that he wanted a kitten, so we went and looked at kittens, but none of them appealed to him.
Aran wandered from cage to cage, not really into the whole cat thing.
One particular volunteer kept following us around, giving us tips and advice and asking if we wanted to hold this cat or that. She was very friendly, but we really wanted to look on our own for a bit, and she was actually in danger of chasing us away with too much attention. I wanted to say, "Look, we've already decided to get two cats, just leave us to decide which." We were finally able to disentangle ourselves from her and look on our own.
Darwin was trying to make up his mind, and we were falling into the "Can't we bring ALL of them home?" stage, so I told Maksim we could take Dinah and whatever cat Darwin chose, then I went over to the volunteers' table to start filling out forms. Just as I was finishing up ("How many hours per day will the cat be alone in the house?"), Darwin came over to ask if I liked a cat named Alec. He was a medium hair black cat with gold eyes, playful and friendly both. I was happy with this choice, and so that's what we took. I felt bad about leaving the others behind, but we can only take so many.
The forms were finished, the cats went into carriers, and we drove home amid frightened and outraged meowing. I asked about changing their names, but Maksim liked the name Dinah, and Darwin was adamant that we keep the name Alec, and thus it was so.
At home, we let the cats out to explore. We showed them the food and the litter box, then let them explore the house on their own. Darwin and I were sure Alec and Dinah would vanish for several hours, if not days, but they didn't. They wandered cautiously about the house. Both of them paused several time for skritches. We had a spat for dominance almost immediately. Alec approached Dinah. She spat and swatted. He backed away and hunkered down in submission. It's been that way ever since--Dinha is alpha cat, and Alec is beta. However, they do play dominance games. Alec will sit in the doorway, all innocence, refusing to let Dinah through, until she gets ticked at him and makes him give way with a hiss. No real fighting, though.
And now we have kittehs!
This is my first late book.
I feel sad about this. I've written 22 books now, and not one of the first 21 has been late. I came close the summer we adopted Sasha and Maksim. I was in the middle of DEAD MAN ON THE MOON when we got the appointment in Ukraine, and when we returned with two children instead of one, I was sure I would be late. I even contacted the editor to ask for an extension. But I still turned the book in on time.
The year after I got divorced, things were really, really rough for a whole lot of reasons, and it took a toll on my writing. THE DRAGON MEN was due February 1, and by mid-November, I only had one chapter done. I asked my editor for an extension, and she said the book was already listed in the catalogs. If I was late with the manuscript, a whole host of problems would ensue. I killed myself getting that one done, but I got it in on time.
But this time around . . . house hunting sucked away my writing time. And then there was renovation at the new house and packing and moving. It was too much. I was going to be late. My editor said it would be all right this time. I turned in the manuscript 16 days after deadline. This is, by most measures, not late at all. If I hadn't said anything, there's a good shot my editor wouldn't have even noticed until mid-December that the book was missing. You can probably list a whole bunch of authors who have been years late with a book instead of just a few days. But in my case, it broke a perfect streak, and I was unhappy about it.
Still, the book is done (until rewrites, anyway). Ta da!
I'm giving myself a short vacation, and then it's on to BONE WAR.
What's the latest you've been late with a project?
7 AM: Get up.
8 AM: Stuff turkey.
8:30 AM: Put turkey in roaster.
9:00 AM Make breakfast for the boys.
10:00 AM Vegetable, cheese, and appetizer prep
And so on. I even went high-tech and read the list aloud to Siri. "Siri, remind me tomorrow at 8:30 AM to put the turkey in the roaster." That way the reminders got pushed to my phone and kept me on track all day.
Darwin was in charge of cleaning, meanwhile, and he zipped around the house armed with a broom and a Swiffer.
The dining room is big enough for two tables, so we put the breakfast nook table in with the dining room table and set up a folding table in the breakfast nook for a buffet.
Family started arriving at noonish. After much conversation and hanging about, we sat down to eat. My mother remarked that it was wonderful to just show up at a Thanksgiving dinner, and not have to cook for it or clean up after it. Me, I had fun putting the new kitchen through its paces.
My sister, who is training to be a counselor these days, ran a family activity that has everyone look back at prominent events of the past year, which was very interesting. And then the party broke up. The epic cleanup began!
It went enormously well and was a highly successful Thanksgiving for all. May you all live in abundance!
So now I'm seeing Bill Cosby being dropped everywhere. Reruns of his TV show are getting yanked, recordings of his comedy routines are vanishing from stores and the Internet. Why? Because he's accused of doing some dreadful things. But when the book ENDER'S GAME, written by Orson Scott Card, was made into a movie and members of the LGBT community protested on the grounds that Card has done some awful and terrible things, people said, "Can't you separate the art from the artist? An artist can do some bad things and have terrible views while producing great art." All right then--why aren't we separating Cosby the artist from his art? If you're boycotting reruns of his show and are dumping his comedy routines from your collection, did you also boycott ENDER'S GAME?
For the record, I disliked Card the artist from the beginning, and his "art" made me uncomfortable, and I refuse to take part in anything to do with his work. I'm applying the same rubric to Cosby.
And now it's the new year!