Two kitties and a guitar case

My teenage daughter foolishly left her soft guitar case open on the floor in our hallway. Before long, her tortoiseshell kitty, Tabitha, came across it. With a few circles and kneading of paws she took possession, purring loudly at the pleasure of such a find.

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Tabitha makes the discovery

It wasn’t long before Ancient Albert, our precious nearly twenty-two-year-old boy ambled past on his aged and unsteady legs. Tabby hissed defensively, as thirteen-year-old torties are prone to do, but to no avail. Soon there were two cats in the guitar case. There wasn’t a lot of room for two cats to sleep comfortably.

Not quite enough room for two cats

Not quite enough room for two cats

The inevitable happened—Albert evicted Tabitha and had it all to himself. I’ve noticed my female cats inevitably concede to the males when it comes to possession of comfy sleeping spots and desirable food.

Albert has the guitar case all to himself

Albert has the guitar case all to himself

Eventually Tabby gracefully admitted defeat gracefully and went and found herself a box of paper—printouts of my work-in-progress.

Tabby squeezes into a box

Tabby squeezes into a box

Albert enjoyed sole possession of the guitar case until he wandered off and found himself an even better bed—my daughter’s large velvet-lined guitar case. Much more spacious and comfortable!

Albert finds himself an even better guitar case

Albert finds himself an even better guitar case

When daughter complained about cat fur in her guitar case did I have pity on her? A little. I know I should have removed the kitties, rather than laughing and taking snaps with my iPhone. But since then neither I—nor the cats—have noticed any guitar cases left lying around the house!

MY NEW RELEASE ON SALE!

Reinventing Rose is on special at Amazon for just $US0.99 from 1 through 5 May, 2013 as part of the Book Lovers Buffet. There are loads of other wonderful books across all romance genres on sale, too.

http://bookloversbuffetdotcom.wordpress.com/contemporary/

KandyShepherd_ReinventingRose800Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction. Her new release is the contemporary women’s fiction (aka chicklit!) Reinventing Rose, where there are two kitty characters.

Kandy’s romances include The Castaway Bride, Something About JoeLove is a Four-Legged Word and Home Is Where the Bark Is.

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Reinventing Rose—my new story

KandyShepherd_ReinventingRose800I don’t know when “chicklit” became a no-no word. “Contemporary women’s fiction” is now the description of choice for contemporary, sometimes humorous novels about a young (or not-so-young) woman’s journey to that may or may not include romance but usually includes friendship, family and career.

I’m putting my hand up to say I love reading chicklit, however you label it. And I like writing it, too!

My new release Reinventing Rose falls under the chicklit banner. When 28-year-old Californian schoolteacher Rose Butler flies to Sydney, Australia, to meet an internet lover, the reunion doesn’t go quite to plan. Rose finds herself alone in a foreign country, too embarrassed to tell the folks back home what happened. Rose decides to stay and reinvent herself with a total “me makeover.”

Three new female roommates turn out to be the perfect people to aid and abet her—one is a beauty editor on a womens magazine with access to all sorts of image-changing freebies. But Rose discovers real change doesn’t come from new hair and makeup. As she throws herself headlong into her new life, she gets tripped up by a painful family secret and unresolved problems from her past. She’s forced to question her beliefs about love and loyalty, old mistakes and new choices, and the bonds of both family and friendship.

3 QUICK QUESTIONS

Q. You’re published in romance—why write womens fiction/chicklit?

A. I love writing romance where the focus is on two people falling in love against the odds. But I also like writing about the other aspects of my characters’ lives—family, friends, career challenges—and womens fiction gives me that opportunity. I enjoyed creating the secondary characters of Sasha, Carla and Kelly in Reinventing Rose. Female friendship is so important in my life—and I give Rose three amazing new friends. Of course Rose meets men, the sexy, bad-boy photographer Elliot and the handsome doctor Luke. Which of those gorgeous guys will she end up with?

Q. Doesn’t chicklit concentrate on shoes and shopping?

A. There’s a fun pair of shoes in Reinventing Rose but wearing them leads Rose somewhere she really shouldn’t have gone! Chicklit also deals with deeper issues and as Rose’s story unfurls she experiences them, too—eating disorders, divorce, miscarriage are all touched on. The tone is sassy but the subject matter is sometimes serious.

Q. What inspired you to write Reinventing Rose?

A. When I was working as an editor in womens magazines, I particularly enjoyed working on reader makeovers—coordinating with hairdressers, makeup artists, fashion stylists and photographers to transform everyday women into their look-best selves. I had the idea for a chick-lit type story about a young woman who decides a makeover will solve all her problems. Of course it doesn’t, and Rose has quite a journey before she realizes that. I had such fun taking Rose into the studio for her makeover—a location so familiar to me.

P.S.  There aren’t any dogs in Reinventing Rose—there was a gorgeous Border Collie in an earlier version but the chapter he appeared in was slashed in the editing process. There are two cats, though, a tuxedo kitty named Socks who stays off-stage but very much in the heroine Rose’s thoughts, and a beautiful brown Burmese named Nina who is modeled on one of my own cats (sadly departed.)

Reinventing Rose is available as a e-book (print coming soon) from AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboSmashwords and other on line e-retailers.

Kandy head shot_2Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction. Her new release is the contemporary women’s fiction (aka chicklit!) Reinventing RoseHer romances include The Castaway Bride, Something About JoeLove is a Four-Legged Word and Home Is Where the Bark Is.

 

 

Wet, wet, way too wet!

It’s been a long, cold, wet winter in my part of Down Under.

This past weekend it actually snowed. The (supposedly spring) weather in October is notoriously erratic but that’s ridiculous!

Banjo (left) and Star tell me that wet means hungry, too.

It isn’t only me who suffers in the cold weather, my animals don’t seem too happy either.  I have quite the menagerie of pets who are all complaining about the conditions.

Toby looks the picture of wet misery!

Outdoors, the four horses are rugged throughout winter—except for our rescue quarter-horse Star who point blank refuses to wear a rug. He grows himself a thick shaggy coat instead. I think this sounds eminently sensible and wonder why my daughter, the horse fanatic in the family, insists on rugging the others. The reason? Horses competing in shows need to be beautifully groomed with sleek, fine coats—to the point some horses are shaved. No winter-shaggy fur please.

Miss Molly models her new coat

Miss Molly the dog also gets to wear a cold to protect her arthritic old bones. Try getting a coat on a cat? I’ve never had any luck!

Cindy scornfully surveys her wet surroundings

Miss Cindy is more outdoor than indoor cat, and only comes inside in the coldest of weather to enjoy a cozy wood fire. She has a snug little fleece-lined cat kennel to sleep in otherwise.

Ancient Albert and Miss Molly share prime position in front of the fire

And as for my beloved 21-year-old cat Ancient Albert, he gets as close as possible to the heat source without setting his fur on fire. Tabby—also known as Tubby—likes to stay inside too in cold weather, preferably on a nice, warm lap or under the bed covers.

The tail belongs to kitty Tabitha, snuggled right under the bedcovers

Humans do their part, chopping wood for the fire to keep the animals happy.

We burn a lot of wood to keep those indoor pets warm and happy

I realize as I shiver away that I have never written a story set in anything but warm weather. Whether my stories are set in spring, summer or fall, it’s always a pleasant temperature. Cool enough, perhaps, for a heroine to shrug on a hero’s chivalrously offered leather jacket on a spring evening, (Something About Joe) but most of my characters wear nothing warmer than a T-shirt. In The Castaway Bride, my hero and heroine don’t wear clothes much at all. If you were cast away on a blissfully perfect tropical island alone with a hot hunk, would you?

A book set in a wonderful snowy location (trapped in a cozy, snowed-in mountain cabin with a hot hunk maybe) might be in my writing future, who knows? But not right now.

They say to write about what you know, but there’s also writing about what you wish for. The scenarios I’ve chosen up ’til now force me to admit blue skies and a kindly sun feature strongly in my fantasies. Yes, the three stories I’m working on right now are all set in summer!

Roll on spring! (A proper spring, without snow, please.)

Not a creature was stirring….

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the farmyard, not a creature was stirring, not even a… dog, cat, horse, chicken or cow.


Recently, people have asked me why I talk about my cats and dog but not about my other pets. These are all my animals and I’m sure if they could talk they would join me in wishing all the visitors to my blog the very best for the festive season.

Miss Molly

Yes, there’s a dog under all that unclipped fur!

Cindy-Lou

Cindy is the farm cat who appeared on our veranda one dark and stormy night seven years ago and is still with us, happily helping to keep down the mouse population.

Albert, my Burmilla prince

My ancient Albert just celebrated his 20 and a half birthday (half birthdays really count at his age!), that’s well over an hundred in cat years. He was born in London, England and given a right royal name after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort.

Banjo (front) and Star

Banjo, the pony in front, is my daughter’s beloved Australian stock horse who has won her quite a collection of trophies. Behind him is Star, our rescue horse who only likes to be petted or ridden by women.

Toby and Spud

Toby is gentle and amiable, and helped me get over my fear of horses. Handsome Spud is a gentle giant who just didn’t have the nature to be a race horse.

Thimble and Squirt

Squirt and Thimble, miniature Dexters, are meant to be on our little farm to help keep weeds down, but when they demand equal hay rights to horses, who can resist them?

Tabitha

My daughter called her tortoiseshell Tabitha after a kitty character in a book. Yes, I know she’s a tortoiseshell and not a tabby cat, but who argues that with a seven-year-old?

The hens have names in alphabetical order

Our Isa Browns have the only 5-star hen house in the valley—built by a previous owner to make sure foxes would never get our girls. Thank you, chickens, for the wonderful eggs for my holiday baking.

Galah and parrot visitors

King parrot on the verandah

These beautiful parrots aren’t pets but beautiful wild Australian birds who grace us with their presence. (They also love eating our fruit on our fruit trees which can be annoying–but there is enough for us all.)

Kangaroo visitors

Our little farm adjoins a lot of bushland and we often see kangaroos and wallabies bounding across our property. At moments like this, they seem as curious about us as we are about them.

Christmas, New Year and Hanukkah fall in the summer vacation “Down Under” and I’m hoping to kick back, rest, relax, read and write! Hope you have fun, wherever you are!


A lap or a laptop?

Not a lot of writing gets done when my feline companions realize a comfy lap is available...

Sometimes I tire of writing at the desktop computer. I thought a laptop might be the answer so I could write in different locations for both a change of scenery and different seating position. Two of my cats, Albert and Tabitha, thought otherwise. Why on earth would I want to have access to that keyboard when I could be stroking and petting them? “Lap” is a way more appealing concept to them than “laptop…”

Oh well, thinking time is important too!

Happy half birthday to Ancient Albert

Albert by sunlight

Just before Christmas my beautiful old boy cat turned 19 and a half. At this age—over a hundred in human years—it’s worth celebrating a half birthday. He’s frail, he’s doddering and the vet thinks he’s nearly blind but he is as loving as ever, purrs a lot and wants to snuggle with his humans as often as he can. Oh, and he certainly lives up to the saying: “A cat who wants its breakfast is like an alarm clock without a snooze button.”

Albert was born in London, England when we were living there. I was desperate for a cat, though it wasn’t practical for us at the time. My husband had serious concerns I might snatch someone’s moggy, like some desperate women do with babies! I saw an ad in the newspaper for Burmillas, then a new breed—a cross between Burmese and Chinchilla Persian. Coincidentally, in a city the size of London, the owners lived in the same suburb as we did and I couldn’t resist visiting “just for a look”. Albert immediately detached himself from the heap of silvery gray kittens and jumped on my lap. “He’s chosen you,” said the lady who owned the kittens (just about to give birth to her first baby and with her husband desperate for her to find homes for seven kittens).

But I was only having a look, wasn’t I?  The persistent little kitten with the big personality followed me to the door and tried to go home with me. I was done… Not only did I convince my husband to let me have him but we also got his beautiful sister Kira (who we lost last year aged 18.)  Albert was named after Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert. His sister was named by my Swiss friend who placated my husband by telling him if we ever went back to live in Australia she would take Albert and Kira to live with her. As if that was going to happen! At hideous expense, my silver kitties flew to Australia in style when the time came. Wherever we’ve lived he’s made friends with the neighbors and has quite the fan club. He survived a serious car accident thanks to a cat-loving good samaritan who gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation (she covered mouth and nose as with an infant) and took him to the vet. In some quarters, I’m known more as Albert’s owner than any other accomplishment!

Albert--never happier than when he's being cuddled

On New Year’s Eve my teenage daughter had a group of friends around and when we got home from dinner there was lots of loud music and laughter. Four tall, broad-shouldered, long-haired surfers were taking time taking time out on the sofa. I stopped to say hello, and found them clustered around Ancient Albert, gently stroking him. “This old cat is such a cool dude,” said one of them. I could only agree.

I’ve had my Prince Albert for such a big chunk of my life and I’m cherishing every minute I have with him…

Snuggling with Tabitha