Flash here. On the advice of our agent, Cindy has let me start my very own blog. It’s called flashthecatblog.com. I post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I hope to see you there. A cat like me can’t have too many friends!
Archive for the ‘Cindy Strandvold, Writer’ Category
Flash here. Guess what? I don’t have to stow away in Cindy’s suitcase after all! She said I can come on the retreat with her today as long as I behave myself and don’t bother the other main characters who might be tagging along with their authors.
I think I know why she’s letting me come. She’s working on my story again. See, we finally got the revision letter from Scholastic. For about a week Cindy stared at a big piece of cardboard covered with sticky notes, mumbling words that made no sense at all. Structure. Catalyst. Midpoint. All is lost.
Hel-lo? I’ll tell you what was lost—her brain. I mean, come on, we can’t sit around playing with color-coded sticky notes when we’ve got work to do! The Scholastic editor is waiting. Could we please get writing already? Finally, she sat down at the computer and I curled up on her lap.
I have to say she’s made good progress since then, but she wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much done without my help. Maybe I should change my name from Flash, Feline Extraordinaire to Flash, Feline Extraordinaire and Professional “Mews.”
Get it? Like a muse? Ha! Sometimes I am so clever I amaze even myself! No wonder Cindy can’t do without me while she’s gone on this retreat for four days. Well, I got a plane to catch. I’m still hoping one of the other authors’ main character is a sweet green-eyed GIRL cat. I won’t bother her. Cross my whiskers.
Flash here. Itís springtime in the Rockies, a bit early if you ask me. Of course, thereís still plenty of snow in the mountains, but here in town green things are shooting up from the ground, squirrels are cavorting in the backyard, and Iím feeling frisky.
A month from today, Cindy will be getting on a plane to fly to Austin, TX for a retreat with a bunch of her fellow clients from our literary agency. You guessed it. Iím planning to stow away.
Why wouldnít I? Itís a chance to meet my agent in person. This lady just loves my VOICE. Iím not sure what that means, since sheís never actually heard me meow, but whatever.
I wonder if any other main characters will be tagging along with their writers? Do you think anyone else wrote about cats?
Like maybe a girl cat? With perky ears and long whiskers?
Just wondering . . .
Okay, I confess. I am helpless when it comes to a lot of things. Computer acting funny? Car wonít start? Washing machine on the fritz? Donít call me, I wonít have a clue.
Thatís why I consider myself fortunate my husband is so handy. During the day he masquerades as a mild-mannered software engineer. But on evenings and weekends he transforms into the caped crusader, protector of our humble householdóFix-it Man!
Fix-it Man has been unusually busy this past week. The truck needed a new battery. The Saturn had three, yes three, things that needed fixing. The bathroom scale quit working. A sink was stopped up. The lights above the stove went out. Scary virus messages popped up on the computer. And the snow blower wheel broke off.
They are all fixed now. Itís nice being married to a super-hero!
Earlier this month one of our Under The Cuckoo Clock members – Cindy Strandvold – shared a paragraph that was part of a year-end message she received from her agent’s agency:
“While it’s exciting to see the year’s successes listed this way, there are so many more things we are proud of that cannot be quantified–most notably, the countless times that all of our clients, published and unpublished, have pushed through self-doubt, gotten past rejection, continued to focus on growing in their craft, started new projects, brought others to completion, finished revisions, taken note of their own successes (in all forms), and held on to hope.† Each step on the path is worth celebrating, not just those that come with publishing contracts or starred reviews.”
For weeks now I have not stopped thinking about the concept.
It was “each step on the path is worth celebrating” that touches a chord in me. I am endlessly trying to improve myself, to mindfully steer my course and reach long term and short term goals. My list is long!
Often I get so caught up in achieving a particular goal, I forget to be glad – in the moment – for what is happening right now.
*† Like celebrating when I sell a story to a local publisher.
*† Like celebrating when the subject of an article I write brings me flowers.
(Thanks, Heather Janssen!)
* Like celebrating when I write a blog entry here and post it on time.†
Each step is part of the journey, and thus, a big deal indeed. Thanks to the writers who sit Under The Cuckoo Clock for bringing chocolate (!) to give us pause, to notice, and transform each step into a noteworthy celebration – sweet in every way.
Flash here. Donít believe what Cindy said last time she wrote. I was not in a snit. I was BUSY coordinating† an important mission, thank you very much. Someone had to provide the inspiration for the felines in the plot of her new story.
Then we heard from our agent who said there was too much unconnected stuff going on in the story. She told Cindy to decide what was vital to the storyline and cut the rest. She gave Cindy a whole list of possibilities, including the cats Iíd worked so hard to inspire.
Cut the cats? Can you imagine? I mean weíre talking about felines here. What could be more vital to the story? Of course, these particular characters are not nearly as cool as me, but still. You donít just go cutting cats out of stories willy nilly!
Where would we be if The Cat in the Hat, Garfield, and Puss in Boots had been cut from their stories, huh? Just thinking about it makes my tail bristle.
Cindy was sympathetic, but she told me, ìWhatís the point of getting an agent if youíre not going to listen to her advice?î
ìAnd what about your feline muse?î I shot back. ìIsnít his advice important? Iím the one who got you that agent!î
Cindy laughed and patted my imaginary head.
So I held my breath and put my claws in standby mode. Iíd worked too hard on my creations to give them up without a fight.
Cindy got busy over the next few weeks. She cut the evil government agent. She cut the parentsí death. She even cut the robot climax scene. But she didnít cut the cats.
Instead, she molded and shaped the cats until they were vital to the story. I let out my breath, thinking catastrophe had been averted.
Then she got another idea. One that changed lots of things in the story. One that made my cat characters less vital . . .
Stay tuned. I havenít given up yet. After all, I am Flash, Feline Extraordinaire. And everybody knows you should never, ever cut the cats!
Confession time. Last month I missed my turn on the blog. I was supposed to post the Monday before Thanksgiving, but I guess I was having a little too much fun with my son being home from college to remember things like blogs.
Youíd have thought Flash could have stepped in and helped me out, but heís still off in a snit somewhere because Iím writing about a boy named Zach instead of him right now.
Anyway, I was not baking pies and basting turkeys. I was packing my long underwear, hiking boots and polypropylene socks; preparing to drive eight hours to Moab, Utah. For four or five days every year we celebrate Thanksgiving by hiking in Arches National Park and the surrounding area.
We climb to the top of slickrock buttes that look impossible to scale, wade through freezing water in slot canyons, and argue over which wash will take us where we want to go. We stay in dumpy motels and eat our Thanksgiving dinner at Dennyís.
Thatís because we donít need a traditional Thanksgiving feast to make our holiday complete. We feast on togetherness, Godís amazing creation, and adventure. Many people think weíre a little crazy, but we wouldnít trade our annual Moab trips for all the turkey and dressing in the world.
Now itís the Monday before Christmas and Iím packing again. The last two years we left for a vacation on Christmas Day and skipped Christmas dinner, too. This year is a little more traditional. Weíre going to spend three days with extended family. I think weíre eating ham.
Itís been weeks and weeks, and we are still waiting to hear from three publishers. I have to tell you, curiosity is making my whiskers itch like crazy. Iím constantly checking the e-mail while Cindyís not looking. You canít blame a cat for being curious. Itís part of our natural feline charm, like taking naps in the sun and shedding on the furniture.
Meanwhile, the good news is that Cindy worked on my sequel, adding a brand new ending and several new scenes. Of course itís greatóonce again I save the day! Well, maybe I have a little help from my team, but not much.
The bad news is that as far as I can tell, sheís not going to write any more about yours truly until the first book sells.†
I donít think she realizes how bored I am sitting around doing nothing. A feline extraordinaire such as myself needs to stay busy. And donít bother getting me one of those stuffed felt miceótheyíre for sissy house cats. No, I want to get back to outsmarting butt-sniffers, defeating scar-faced men, and protecting secret inventions.
This situation called for some serious thinking, so I morphed into grooming mode. While working on my left hind leg I came up with the best idea ever. Why couldnít I provide the inspiration for the cats in her next story? Itís not as fun as being the star, and they canít possibly be as cool as I am, but it would be something to keep me busy while Iím waiting.
So I pawed through some of her notes and it seems her new idea doesnít have any cats at all.
My mission is clear. I must correct this unacceptable state of affairs. Everyone knows all fine literature should have at least one cat. Starting today, I will use all my persuasive powers to convince Cindy to work a cat into her plotline. I mean, how hard can it be?
Opening a brand new box of crayons ranks right up there on my joy scale. As a kid, I might not have been ready for school to†begin in August, but I was always ready for the fresh start and unlimited possibilities contained in the rainbow of perfect points in my new box of crayons each year.
My daughter starts her junior year of high school tomorrow. My son leaves for his sophomore year of college the day after that. Maybe they donít need Crayolas anymore, but I do.
I have a new box of 24 sitting on my desk right now. More than the basic eight, but not so many as to be overwhelmed with the choices. Blue green, apricot, cerulean, carnation pink, yellow-green, green-yellow. Now all I need is a coloring book.
Flash here. In case you were wondering, Cindy came up with a new book idea since the last time I wrote. Oh, sheís really excited about this one, and has spent many hours at her computer, typing away with a smile on her face.
Iím sorry to report that this story is also missing Flash, Feline Extraordinaire, the best, most amazing, character ever. If she would only stop long enough to think about what sheís doing, maybe sheíd realize the error of her ways.
And itís not just Cindy. Humans in general have no idea how to live their pitiful little lives. You people continually have to DO, DO, DO. You never take time to BE.
On the other hand, your average feline is born knowing how to BE. And look at us, we donít suffer from any of the stress related ailments you humans do, now do we? Let me give you a few pointers. Read and learn:
Lie in a sunny place and watch an ant crawl across the ground. Whack it with one paw. Take a quick power nap to get your energy back after so much grueling exertion.
Amble to your food bowl. Itís important to keep up your strength with proper nourishment! Flop down for another nap.
Wake up and yawn widely. Lean back on your haunches and s-t-r-e-t-c-h, this really gets your blood flowing.
Stalk one of those infernal squirrels scampering across the lawn, chittering insults at you. Yowl, ìYouíre going DOWN, Tail Flicker!î and chase him up a tree. Slide down the tree trunk while your quarry escapes, laughing hysterically. Curse your humans who insist on trimming your claws down to little nubs.
Sorry. Forget that whole squirrel thing. I meant to say, close your eyes and meditate on the grass growing and the sounds of worms working underground.
See how easy it is?
Of course, there are situations where BEING isnít enough. Situations where you have to make a stand and DO something. Something like creep to the computer and get certain peopleís attention by hitting the delete key on any stories without yours truly in them.
Ahh. I feel better already.