Thursday, June 5, 2014

Guest Post by J. Leigh

So I was thinking about writing a post for you all this week, and I knew you'd go into shock. Because an author interview AND a post? In one week? But I was going to do it anyway. For you. But then I realized that I had another guest post scheduled for this week, and I knew if I put up three posts in one week, you might keel over dead. Or, you know, start expecting that kind of posting from me. So I decided to hold off on the post until next week. Bright side, you will still get everything I want to say about the new book I announced this week without the whining about being sick you would have gotten otherwise. Unless I'm still sick next week. Because then there will be whining. Oh, yes, will there be whining.

Anyway, today I am not talking about me. Today I am talking about J. Leigh and her new epic fantasy Way Walkers: Tangled Paths, recently released from Red Adept Publishing. Lovers of epic fantasy will definitely want to check out Tangled Paths, as well as Ms. Leigh's interactive adventure Way Walkers University, available from Choice of Games. And lovers of prizes will want to check out the blog tour giveaway at the end of this post.

Ms. Leigh has elected to write for us today about something we have in common. No, not being among the greatest fantasy authors known to man, though we obviously share that. I am talking about our love of small, furry felines. Included are pictures of Ms. Leigh's cats---Ra is the black one, Athena is the tortie, and Isis is the grey one. So without further ado, I give you

Why Cats Are Amazing,
and Why Every Author (Unless Allergic) Should Own One
by J. Leigh

If you're on the internet, you are probably very well-aware that cats need no help from me in being adored for their cuteness and general furry-awesomeness. However, as an author and cat guardian myself, I have discovered that there really are a number of writer-specific benefits to owning a cat or two. So, here are eight reasons why I believe every writer (unless allergic) should own a cat:

A cat on your lap makes you write longer.
Really, I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me. I'm typing away, not really feeling it and then, bam! cat jumps into my lap. Now I have to keep writing, to delve deep and push through whatever issue it is I was just contemplating procrastinating till later. It seems silly, but it works. Because cats usually aren't automatically affectionate, when they do bestow upon an owner their affection, there's an appreciation, if you will. This means you don't move right away when they cuddle up to you. You stay longer, you work harder, and have better writing habits because of it.

Cats give backrubs. (at least, mine do.)
If you are a writer, you're going to have back and shoulder problems. It's sort of inevitable, especially if you've made the choice that this is a career and you're not going to do anything else. About three days into a very bad shoulder injury, I noticed that if I took to writing in my leather chair with the high back, my one cat, Athena, would literally come up behind me, balance her back feet on the back of the chair, and then proceed to do her 'kneading' or 'making biscuits' trick on my sore shoulder with her front feet. Now she's a soft touch and doesn’t use her claws, so the effect was just like getting a decent shoulder rub from a person. I also discovered that she (and her sister cats) will team up and do a full body massage on me if I lay down with a particular fuzzy blanket I own draped over myself. So skip the expensive masseuse, buy a microfiber blanket and let your cats go to town.

Cats can help you write fight scenes.
This also falls into the general category of 'cats are ninjas'. I have often when stuck on a fight scene, grabbed a piece of string, lured out one to two cats and then enacted a move, counter-move saga for the ages. The fluid movements, the unanticipated reactions, the sudden flips, it just helps me to break down the play-by-play options I have when determining what two characters will do in a fight. I highly recommend it, so go, grab a feather toy and get to fencing with your furry literary inspiration!

They serve as an excellent template for villains.
As lovely, fluffy, and sweet as cats can be, they can also be the embodiment of evil. They stalk their prey, torturing their victims once they pounce in brutal heartless abandon as they pull off an arachnid's legs one by one with gleeful, kitty giggles. Okay, well, maybe not, but it's easy to imagine, and that’s my point. They offer us a glimpse into the mind of a killer, because, well cats are hunters, and the ones we feed full of dry and wet food really only hunt to satisfy their instinctual need--ie, for fun. What can be more villainous than that--and what better starting point can you have to craft a fictitious antagonist?

Forced organization
 If you've ever owned a cat, you know when they are bored or want attention, they sit on your papers, eat your pencils and knock important notebooks to the floor. Now while this might initially seem like a drawback, for me it did something that was very necessary.  It forced me to be more organized, to be more neat and methodical with my writing environment. In the past, books and post-it notes were laid out in wanton abandon, but now the fear of these items being shredded or misplaced under other furniture made me put my precious items away in folders and on shelves, far from kitty attack. It also forced me to be far, far more respectful of my laptop. I keep the cord neatly wrapped and in its bag, to avoid cats' natural tendency to chew on it's enticing, string-like appearance. I also don't leave the laptop itself open, as to avoid creative paw-induced additions by kitties seeking warmth.

Help keep you to a schedule
This again, is especially helpful if you're trying to write full-time. Who makes certain you're up every day at the same time without an alarm clock? Hungry kitty, that’s who. Who waits patiently beside your writing chair for you to get going so they may sit on your lap? That’s right, kitty! Cats can be very habit oriented-- mine know about when it's time for me to take a break, and when it's time to finish eating and get back to work. And they are far, far less dictatorial about it than any office manager I've ever known.

Physical therapy for hands
I've been having a terrible bout of carpal tunnel recently, and nothing helps keep down the swelling of my hands like scratching a cat. It's a non-repetitive moment, because the cat's head is always interacting with your hand, and it's very cathartic on top of it. Even full-body stroking of their backs is very helpful as it relieves the numbness in my hands and gets them to 'wake up' again with minimal pain. On that same line, cats can also serve as a substitute for a heating pad in a pinch.

Cats soothe the weary writer's soul. 

Let's face it, a lot of us writers are sensitive little messes. We fret, we obsess, we ponder and rehash every little turn of phrase and choice of word until late at night. Cats are, by their fuzzy, cuddly nature, therapy. A cat's purr is incredibly calming, more akin to the humming zen meditation chants of monks or crystal singing bowls. There's nothing better than petting soft fur, listening to that purr and forgetting your troubles. Granted, cats will head butt you and purr in your face when they want attention, but even the most persistent cat will leave you be if you peel them off of you and put them on the floor. And when you do get up for a break, they settle in and take your seat, warming the cushion for you while you're gone. They are there for you, day in and out, with their love of strings, warm blankets and you, their owner. You feed them, you rescue them out from the cold or some pet store window, and they rescue you right back.

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