Charles Dickens said it best: “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” Some 4 million cats enter shelters every year, and 1-2 million are euthanized—that’s a lot of kitties with tons of love to give and a desperate need for a loving home.
That’s why, on Oct. 29, we celebrate National Cat Day: to raise awareness of these amazing four-legged creatures and encourage Americans all across the country to adopt a kitty of their own.
National Cat Day was created in 2005 by Colleen Paige in an effort to raise awareness of the number of suffering cats that need care and homes. It also encourages pet owners to not take their cats for granted and shower them with affection and love! This wonderful day is held on October 29th
If you’re a huge cat lover then you definitely know about this day and what’s more you’ll know what the day stands for:
Cats should be part of a household forever and cared for properly
Cats should be adopted, not shopped
Cats should be ‘done’ to improve their health
Cats should only be adopted if you can care for him/her properly
What Can I do?
If you’re a big cat lover (and we assume you are as you’re reading this article) then you’ll want to join in on this day. There are plenty of things you can do from spoiling your cat with a new toy and fuss to giving her delicious food she’ll appreciate. You can even donate to the local animal shelter.
Our cats... So I asked a cat question. Show me your cats.
You did. Lots of them. Here we go My cats: Mama, Hickey, and Kali below
And the Catalyst was a Cassette Player
I can't wait! Ghostly Writes is out on ebook in just two more days! My story "Raemkai's Stairs" debuts inside. One last tidbit I'm releasing is a cast of characters: Raemkai - a shifter trickster spirit with several forms
Mary - a spirit of a girl
Lulabelle - spirit of a sorceress who wants to control them. The Cassette Player - a catalyst. For the very young - These were portable music players and distant ancestor of an Ipod and later a Music App.
A brief explanation: When the spirits play a tape the magic happens. Want to know more? Check out the pre-order.
This week, our previous guest James Q. Meservy who told of his journey into becoming an author, brings his character "TJ"
First a blurb from The United Realm of the Light Book 1
KINGDOMS FALL, ONE DESTINY AT A TIME
Some time ago in a land since long forgotten, an evil force by the name of Lord Yrimwaque–servant of the Threat of Rai –threatens to destroy everything and prepare the world for a harvest. The only thing that stands in his way are three reluctant heroes: Tyler, his girlfriend Kimberly Ann and his best friend Blaze Morrison, who have been recruited by the followers of the Light of Rai.
Upon their journey of knowledge, TJ and his friends are forced into an unlikely encounter with a creature of legend, and find themselves in the midst of an ancient battle between the Light of Rai and the Threat of Rai, with our world hanging in the balance. As the Light of Rai teach them to hone their various gifts and talents for the greater good of the kingdom, faith is restored, in the hopes that they will be able to stop Lord Yrimwaque and vanquish the evil horde he desires to unleash upon the land. Amid plots and counter-plots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, allies and enemies, the fate of the land hangs in the balance, as the lines between good and evil become more skewed. But will all their efforts be enough, or will the kingdom be plunged into darkness forever?
Now ... Tyler James Parkinson "TJ"
[This is spoken from the perspective of Tyler James Parkinson, a main character from The United, at the start of his senior year in high school, a month and a half before we are introduced to him in the book]
1.Go ahead and introduce yourself.
My name is Tyler James Parkinson, but my friends call me TJ for short.
2.Tell us where and when you were born.
I was born on the Realm of the Light in the Intermountain West region of the continent we call North America.
3. How would you describe yourself?
I am your average guy. I enjoy playing video games, playing various sports, spending time with my best friends, Blaze and Byron, and my girlfriend, LyAnn. Our favorite things to do include rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, and going to the cinema.
4. Tell us about where you grew up.
I am from a small town, where everyone knows everyone everything about everyone else. It was a very close community, where all the adults were like second parents to me, and most of all the kids in town were my friends. My family still lives in the same small town, but in the past few years so many people have moved in that I can hardly recognize it.
5. How old are you?
I am 17.
6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
I had a very happy childhood. I spent my days playing with my best friends Blaze, Byron, and LyAnn, and with my big sister Susan, and my little sister Tiffany. My parents were kind, and loving, but strict; and we were free ride our bikes around town whenever we wanted. It was great.
7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
I only have had one romantic relationship. LyAnn has officially been my girlfriend since we were 14 or 15, I really don’t remember. She has always been my best friend, and I cannot think of spending life apart from her. Our relationship has had a dramatic influence in my life. I know that she will always be there by my side, I trust her completely, and we spend as much time together as we can manage.
8. What do you value above all else in life?
My family and my friends.
9. What are you obsessed with?
LyAnn and my mom say that I am obsessed with my video games. Blaze and I play whenever we can, but it is always a different game, so I do not know what they are talking about.
10. How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
I believe we, as individuals, should treat one another how we would like to be treated. I do not always follow that belief as religiously as I should, but I believe treating one another with kindness and understanding makes everyone happier.
11. Biggest fear?
Large bodies of open water. I know phobias are not exactly the same thing as fear, but as a hydrophobic, I have a healthy amount fear for water. Not phobia related, my biggest fear would be losing LyAnn. She means everything to me, and I am not sure how I would respond If anything ever happened to her.
12. What line will you never cross?
I will never kill. I refuse to allow myself to cross that line.
13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?There are so many wonderful blessings in my life, it is hard for me to choose just one. And I have not had many horrible things happen to me. I get picked on at school a lot for my inability to articulate my words, even though my stutter is slight and only manifests when I am nervous, so I guess that would be the worst thing that has ever happened to me.
14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?I was giving an oral presentation in class my freshman year in high school. I was so nervous. My stutter became overly pronounced to the point where I could not speak clearly, and I mixed up the word order so bad that no could understand what I actually did manage to blurt out.
15. Biggest secret?
I think Amanda Adams is cute.
16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
17. What is your current goal?
Graduate high school and graduate from college.
Today' s new author is Joseph Malik - He's here to talk about his writing journey!
What made you want to be a writer?
My mother wrote romance novels under a pen name on contract for one of the big publishers for a time. We lived in a small town in northern Montana, and I remember her receiving mail from
readers and thinking how amazing it was that people “out there” were reading what she was writing. I mean, with the internet, now, it’s not such a big deal, but this was back in the 80’s, and it was pretty world-changing for me.
When is the release of your next novel? Name genre or if it’s part of a series. If your book is part of a series tell the readers about the others that are out for sale.
It’s a fantasy thriller called The New Magic, the second book in my Outworlders series.
How important is it to read books when you want to be an author?
How important is it to breathe when you want to run a marathon?
Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t, actually. I could read at a very early age, three or four. My earliest recollection of reading is reading encyclopedias in the bathroom as a child.
What book are you reading now?
The Tao of Deception by Richard Sawyer, a guide to Chinese military strategy.
How did you come up with the idea for the book or series, especially the title?
I came up with the idea for the series because I was tired of finding laughable inaccuracies in fantasy novels—just really stupid things: swords slicing through armor, horses that are basically motorcycles—so I decided to do as much research in person as I could, and learn these things for myself, and then eventually write it right. It took over a decade. Dragon’s Trail became a portal fantasy technothriller, a Tom Clancy-type thriller with the plot points hinging on technical details, but set in a fantasy world, which apparently no one has ever done, before.
The title for Dragon’s Trail refers to a passage between two mountain ranges in a remote area of the world, which is an ideal place to escape, hole up, and build/train an army. There’s a plot point where the hero has about half of the country chasing him, and he takes his team up the Dragon’s Trail. It also has a secondary meaning in that he finds himself in a fantasy world, and for all he knows, there’s a dragon right around the corner. I try to use titles that have multiple meanings, so The New Magic
refers to two things. In language of the Western World, “the new magic” refers to technology, which the characters bring with them from Earth: modern steel armor and weapons, modern training, etc. They find themselves up against a swordsman from Earth who brings the same advantages with him that the characters from Earth had in Dragon’s Trail. Secondarily, the villain has teamed up with a sorceress who is using a very old kind of magic, but one that the world hasn’t seen in eons, so it’s effectively new again.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Almost everything short of the magic in my books is based on something I’ve learned, or at least tried, myself. Swordsmanship, horsemanship, martial arts, traditional bowhunting, blacksmithing, axe throwing, visiting castles and ruins. I believe that in order to suspend disbelief sufficiently to introduce magical elements to an adult readership, you first have to suspend disbelief in the mundane, because adults know things and they will call you on it when you’re wrong; or worse, they’ll just stop reading. There’s very little handwaving in my work.
Which character do you identify with most in your novel?
The New Magic introduces a gruff old sergeant named Thron, not a knight and who might never get knighted, and who spends all of his time doing a lot of the minor stuff that makes the team function: wrangling the junior members, deciding the best place to bivouac and who sleeps where, advising the knights and officers. I’m a sergeant in the Army Reserve, and I spend a good deal of my time doing the detail work that, in fantasy, a “hero” wouldn’t have time to manage. Thron is in many ways representative of my experiences in the military, and especially of some things that happened to me as I was writing The New Magic, which I wrote while mobilized.
Tell us how the atmosphere needs to be for you to be able to write. Example, music
on or quiet etc.
I have a Fortress of Solitude behind my garage, a good-sized office with hardwood floors, an antique desk, and swords on the walls. Other than the computer and monitors, there’s very little of anything modern in the room—no clock, no television—one window faces the garden and the other faces the woods. It’s basically a time machine; I can stare at the wall or out the window and just disappear. I listen to music, often I’ll loop one song while I work out a scene.
What is one goody you must have at your desk when you’re writing?
A mechanical keyboard. I wear dents in laptop keys.
Which part of the publishing process do you detest most?
I think for me, it’s a matter of perception; of not getting taken seriously even with all I’ve accomplished. There’s still a stigma from many traditional authors about being an indie, and there’s a stigma from indies about being an indie author who only puts out a book every year or two.
What is the worst thing you’ve had to overcome before publishing your novel? If it’s too personal just make a generalized statement if you can.
When you need some extra encouragement who do you turn to?
Any author who also hates dealing with Amazon.
How do you market your book?
This is where we went way off the path. I consulted with a business development manager who’s now my business partner, and we decided to try something different than what everyone else was doing.
We directed the bulk of our advertising to a website, and used Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. as exit points from the site. The site is the hub for branding and buzz; you can do a lot more with a site than you can with your Amazon page.
When readers exit the site, we direct them to retail locations where they can buy the book. We were told—hell, assured—that it was going to fail, but it worked really well. Dwell time on the site is exceptional, and we sold about ten thousand copies in the first 18 months.
Have readers ever contacted you? If so, tell us the best thing they’ve said to you.
Oh, Lord. I get contacted. I have a small and conspiracy-minded fan base who believe that the reason my technical details are so on-point is because my work in the military was as part of a Black Ops team that traveled to the world in my books. I worked in a quiet, weird corner of Special Operations; that much is true. I have been witness to some seriously mind-blowing stuff that I can never talk about. However, these fans seem absolutely convinced that I was some kind of dimension-traveling commando. Their level of belief is absolutely the highest compliment I could ever hope for. Neck and neck with them for Best Thing would be the occasional skimpy cosplay selfie that shows up in my inbox.
Whom do you trust to read your finished books before publication?
No one sees anything before my editor does. My wife is my alpha reader after the initial edit. I have a couple of trusted beta readers.
Tell us all about your very first book signing. Take us there with your description of people, place, food, décor etc.
It was at a fantasy convention where I was a panelist and demonstrator. I didn’t take the signing very seriously, because I was a new author. I was so sure that it was going to be dead that I invited panel attendees to come and hang out to continue discussions that we hadn’t had time to dig into. I actually showed up a few minutes late to my book signing because I stopped and grabbed a burger to take with me. That’s how I thought it was going to go: eat lunch, talk swords and judo and conlangs, hand out a few copies from my box of books.
That’s not remotely how it happened. I walked into this huge ballroom where the signings were happening, with tables along every wall with chairs behind them. There were a lot of authors behind tables with no one in front of them—these were mostly indie authors and local authors—and one big line, probably twenty or thirty people, stretching into the middle of the room in front of an empty chair. My first thought as I walked in, carrying my cheeseburger in a styrofoam box, was, “I want to be that author someday.” And then I saw that it was my book in people’s hands in the line. The on-site vendor had sold every book I’d brought—I didn’t even have any under my chair; they were all gone and I had to use the one from my briefcase as a prop, and I sold it, too—and we inked a deal for his store to carry Dragon’s Trail. That’s about the point where I figured I was on to something.
Is there a message you’d like to send through your book?
“Being a good swordfighter will get you laid. A lot.” Seriously, though: Dragon’s Trail has at its core a couple of takeaways, though buried under a veritable mountain of violence, sex, and the sporadic dick joke. I wrote Dragon’s Trail–the whole series, really—as a commentary on the increasing obsolescence of the warrior caste in modern society. No, really. It’s in there.
The New Magic is the beginning of the second act, and it starts to work with the deeper themes of the series, one of which is the disconnect that arises when a leader has a disparate and alien intellectual history from the people he’s responsible for. One aspect resident in the meta with The New Magic is what’s not in the book: in the world where the series takes place,
I engineered the culture to remove sexual violence, and with it, the concept of patriarchy, almost entirely from their social fabric. Most of them can’t even conceive of it. To them, rape is on par with torturing small animals. Just, completely aberrant. As a result, The New Magic is this grimdark, very adult fantasy novel, with graphic violence and sex and battlefield medicine and people stepping in horseshit, but none of the women are subjected to sexual violence, and none of the powerful women—generals, knights—became so by having to overcome abuse or trauma, or even having to struggle to be taken seriously in a male-dominated world. The whole sexual violence thing is such an old, tired trope, and so cheap and dismissive; I just did away with it. So, I guess a message, at least in the meta, would be that you can have a gritty fantasy for grown-ups without having a woman get raped every other chapter. Rape is lazy writing. It’s the “Planet England” trope of our time. We need to ditch it.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’ve been toying with this ever since we got the first nibble on film rights. I have no idea. I don’t watch much TV and I don’t remember the last new movie that I saw. Popular culture makes me itch.
What music do you hear in your latest book?
Funny you should ask. I have a Spotify playlist for The New Magic at bit.ly/NewMagicPlayList.
Do you have hobbies other than writing?
I play the piano in a bar band on weekends.
Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I can’t imagine a future where I no longer write. I’d probably play music full-time if I could.
You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Away from a computer. Still writing, but in a blank book.
What do you want written on your headstone?
IT’S PROBABLY FINE.
Are there any mistakes you made with your first book?
Listening to other authors and going into KU at launch instead of trusting my business model. Using CreateSpace for my first run of hardcopies was also pretty dumb. They looked terrible.
What kind of advice can you give to other aspiring authors?
It can be hard to comprehend in this world of The Voice and becoming YouTube famous, but there are no shortcuts, and no instant success. That’s not how this works. Writing a book doesn’t constitute enough writing to write a book that will sell well. Give yourself time. Write, and study writing, for years. Decades. Your whole life. It takes that long. If you’re a writer, you will still be learning how to write on the day you die. Writing is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument: you’re not just going to pick up a cello and a bow for the first time and bang out a Bach suite in front of a thousand people who will throw roses. It takes a lot more time than you think it will to turn out a book that will make a dent.
When in doubt, who do you trust to help you out?
My wife, my dog, my agent, my publicist, a couple of writer friends. In that order
Tell us how we may get a copy of your book. (Kindle, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, paperback etc.)
bit.ly/Dragons-Trail BN (Barnes & Noble Nook)
bit.ly/dragonstrailiBooks (Apple iBooks)
The New Magic details are on my website atwww.josephmalik.com
SEE THEM ALL IN ONE FINE ANTHOLOGY - GHOSTLY WRITES 2018
Just a quick note.
Any author I interview, I promote and follow for free when your releases come out. I might be full through January 2019, but don't despair.
I'll be more than willing to put you on my list!
(EXCEPTION: If your titles and covers are other than PG-17 or if you publish standalone short stories almost weekly, I may not pick up every title, but will pick and choose from your longer or more family friendly releases.)