Thursday, 24 January 2013

Cat Attack!

Perhaps I shouldn't have trusted him. I mean, he's a young, powerful, large, muscular cat and I don't really know him. Risky behaviour with humans is one thing; we're the same species, we think we can read their expressions and judge their actions. But even if one is an experienced cat owner, there's always one. In this case, it's Charlie.

Since we've been feeding him and letting him sleep in the house, which is about two months now, he has seemed an affectionate fellow. When he spots me outdoors on the path, he rushes over and rolls over in submissive pose. Indoors, he rubs round my ankles and gets into kitten-paw-kneading excitement when I stroke him. So what went wrong last night?

It was eleven-ish and I was heading off to bed, but I stopped by the kitchen to make sure there were biscuits in the cat saucer. Flad was asleep in the lounge - dear, gentle Flad whose furry tummy I rub my face on and who never lifts a sharp paw my way. Charlie was in his bed on the floor by the patio doors. He looked up and chirruped when I came in. I bent down and stroked him. He got out of bed and sat in front of me, still purring. I crouched and stroked him some more, talking gently to him, telling him what a lovely boy he was. Suddenly - BANG! Something exploded in my head. My ears were ringing and stinging. One was dripping blood. I reeled, not knowing what had happened. I had a vague memory of a rush of ginger fur. Like a coiled spring, Charlie had leaped up from a sitting position and boxed my ears with his big, strong paws. Clap! Just like that. And now he was sitting gazing at me like nothing had happened.

I was shaken and it took me ages to get to sleep, my ear covered in disinfectant. I woke in the night and lay for two sleepless hours, still shocked, still trying to work it out. I have never known a cat do anything like that before. It was utterly unprovoked. One moment he was purring and the next, behaving like a Mad March Hare. I believe he must have had his claws sheathed or there would have been multiple lacerations. He must have just caught me with the tip of a claw. But imagine if I hadn't worn glasses and he had scratched my eyes? He could have blinded me.

Maybe it was the sight of my hair swinging that had made him want to bat it with his paws. Perhaps he was just being playful. But he hit me hard, a perfect strike, both paws clouting me simultaneously and I realised what a poor little mouse or bird must feel when a cat pounces to deal a death blow. Can anyone explain it? Has anyone else ever had their ears boxed by a cat? I'm not sure I can live with him after this. I had plans to adopt him when/if I moved, but I'm quite scared of him now. He's like a teenage hooligan, feral and unpredictable. Maybe I should call the RSPCA and get him re-homed. What do you think?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Snow cats!

I always get high when it snows. I feel as if I've drunk champagne and I want to frisk and frolic and squeal like a small child who just can't wait to go out and build a snowman or climb on a sledge and whizz off into the unknown. I love the sparkle and scrunch of freshly fallen snow. I love the exciting new shapes it makes, clumping on bushes like snow flowers and softening fences and rooftops. A covering of snow makes you take a new look at a world that is no longer so familiar. Your eyes tingle along with your chilly skin.

Cats, now: they seem to have their own individual reactions to the cold wet stuff. Flad hates it. He puts off going out till he can't wait any longer. Then he takes the shortest route to the nearest bush. Here he is, just about to nip behind one, flicking his paws in distaste.

Charlie, on the other hand, makes a game of it, pouncing on it, patting it, leaping up, whisking his tail. Charlie's tail is unlike any other I have seen on a cat. It's by far the most active. He's forever swishing and rotating it, as if sending messages via semaphore. He doesn't mind walking in snow, or even sitting in it. Here are some snaps of him, his orange fur making a glorious contrast with the whiteness around him.

Flad is still not happy having Charlie around. In fact, we suspect we may be sharing Charlie with another household, because he looks suspiciously well fed and only gets a sachet a day and a saucer of biscuits from us... Unless, of course, he sneaks in and nicks Flad's when we're not looking. Twice now, we've found him on the bed looking very contented but slightly guilty, having pussy-footed up the stairs when our backs were turned. At night, he sleeps in a bed in the kitchen and Flad sleeps on the sofa.

Having had Flad for fifteen years, we'd forgotten what a young cat was like. Two-year-old Charlie has so much energy. Flad is silent, but Charlie meows loudly and frequently. He's also highly intelligent. I just have to say "Bed" to him and he gets into it, and he's already jumping up at doorhandles and trying to open doors. Flad makes us do everything for him. Hmm... Perhaps that means Flad is really the more intelligent one after all!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

What the commissioning editors want

I receive a daily book business newsletter in my Inbox. It's called Book2book and I find it really useful. It's free to subscribe, so here's a link:

Today, they included a link to an article which set my mind and pulse racing. Eighteen commissioning editors, talking about the kinds of books they would like to find and publish in 2013. As usual, there is a slight emphasis on 'young writers', which always makes me grit my teeth, but it does seem that there is still a lot of opportunity out there for us not quite so young ones, too. Here's a link to the article:

Friday, 11 January 2013

Blog Hopping!

Eileen Thornton - -  author of The Trojan Project and, which I have just finished reading on my new Kindle and can highly recommend as a fun, warm-hearted read, has invited me to participate in a writers' blog hop, to talk about what we are currently working on. She in turn was invited by author Oliver Eade - - so now I shall have a go.

I am still waiting to hear if my revamp of Perfect Lives has been accepted. I've had most of the advance, thank goodness, but I would love to know when it is going to be published. Soon, I hope! Meanwhile, I have been working on something completely different...

What is the working title of your next book?

that's happened to me

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I have wanted to write a memoir for a long time but was finding it hard to integrate all the many and varied strands that go to make up a life. Then, in the early hours of New Year's Day, the solution came to me: why write just one book when I could write several, each dealing with a different topic? So last weekend I began writing about all my strange experiences connected to the supernatural and clairvoyance, starting with hearing a ghostly train when I was 7, and I've already completed 12,000 words.

What genre does your book fall under?

Er... that's difficult. Autobiography? Mind, body and spirit? I'm not sure.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Meryl Streep could play my mum and Patsy Palmer, who plays Bianca Jackson in Eastenders, could play me, if she didn't mind wearing glasses!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Other realms are all around us; you just have to find a way in.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published. Agents I have mentioned it to have said that as I'm not famous, no conventional publisher would be interested. Huh!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I'm aiming at 40,000 words, so as I have written 12,000 words so far this week, I would guess a month.

What other books would you compare this to within your genre?

Um... I can't answer that because I can't think of anyone who has had lots of spooky experiences and written about them using a mixture of horror and humour.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A desire to share my stories first of all with my daughter, who works as a clairvoyant, and secondly with anyone else who has ever had any odd experiences and would like to feel that he or she is not alone. Thirdly, with anybody who wants a spine-chilling, thought-provoking read.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

The fact that these things are all true and happened to me. Who would believe it? My follow-up book will cover ALL THE BAD STUFF that's happened to me: for instance, who would believe that I could be held at shotgun point during an innocent afternoon's baby-sitting? But it happened to me back in 1968, and I want the world to know.