Guest Blogger: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

[Today's post is a guest post by award-winning author and editor, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. You can find out more about her at her website or read about some of our favorite books here]

Kris and the boysFor the past thirty-plus years, I’ve made my living writing. For the past thirty-plus years, I’ve also shared my home with cats. I do not think this a coincidence.

Cats have inspired everything from the nonfiction I wrote back in the day (articles for Cat Fancy and business publications under a pen name I no longer use) to short stories that I write now. I wouldn’t have written two of my most popular short stories, The Secret Lives of Cats, and What Fluffy Knew, if cats didn’t run my life.

The Secret Lives of Cats came about because I stumbled on a German blog called Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee, a lovely cat, wears a camera everywhere goes. His photos (the ones he’s taken) have appeared in museums, and he has even produced a short film.

I have a mystery writer’s brain, so I wondered…what if my cat photographed a dead body?…and wrote from there. The story ended up becoming one of my most popular e-books as well as receiving an Anthony nomination and winning Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine’s Readers Choice Award.

Usually, though, my cat stories come from a more personal place. In 1998, my cat Ashley died. Her mother was a purebred red point Siamese who managed to hook up with the wrong guy. So the breeder gave the cats away, including Ash, who looked perfect to me. She was talkative and delightful and a true princess. When she finally passed on, I was devastated. So I wrote the opening to a story:

“Fluffy knew she was a princess. Her person told her so. And Fluffy herself could see it, in her white, white fur, her long elegant whiskers, and her dainty paws…”

The story went from there, with Fluffy, who never left her home, saving the world. This story’s been reprinted all over the world (most recently in Danish), and it comforts me to know that Ash lives on. Fluffy would not exist without her.

KRISMolly writingI have no idea how many cat stories I’ve written or how many stories the cats have influenced. Some of my aliens got their start from something one of my cats did. Some characters’ strange names come about because a cat walked on my keyboard (you know who you are, Molly).

I can’t imagine life without cats. I can’t imagine writing without cats.

They inform everything I do.

Both stories are available alone (linked above) or in the collection, Five Feline Fancies

About Kris

Currently, I live with five indoor cats—Molly (pictured with her paws on the mouse), Galahad (above me as I read), Walter (beside me as I read), Ella (named for Ella Fitzgerald because she sings), and Monet (the beautiful cat who runs the house)—and one outdoors. His name is Little Tough Guy. He’s feral, but after three years, he finally lets me touch him. (I think our relationship got off to a rocky start when I threw him in a carrier and took him to the vet to lose a body part.)

I’ve written hundreds of short stories and novels under the names Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kris Nelscott, Kristine Grayson, and a few I don’t admit to. You can find out more about my work at www.KristineKathrynRusch.com.


Thursday Art Walk: Katz Tales

The person who serves, Au, Target and Guido has published several books. Target is the outspoken spokes-cat, who told us about his human, author Ellyn Whyte.  They are based in Malaysia but you can find their books on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and in the Apple Store.

The Katz Tales books are based on Ellen’s column at the Star, which is a popular Malaysian newspaper.  Target is the official supervisor of this work which chronicles the lives the cats.  Her Logomania books are based on a column called Logomania where she tracks down and explains where certain phrases come from. Target says, “‘To ride a tiger’ means that doing something that’s dangerous if you stop – like giving us treats every ten minutes and then stopping.  i mean, you’d get The Claw, right?

“Anyway, this was a Chinese proverb that was brought into English via William Scarborough’s 1875 Collected Chinese Proverbs.”

“Wushu films have also popularised Chinese tigrene proverbs. Like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” that means undiscovered or secret talents, and “Contending Dragon, Fighting Tiger” that’s a fight between two super-powers, and “Dragon’s Lake, Tiger’s Den” that’s an important but dangerous place.”

“Sometimes we write just one paragraph after a whole week’s research. But it’s fun!  And I’m absorbing all sorts of new things.  That is why my stripes are spreading.  It’s not because I’m fat like Au says.  And it’s not true that I’m about to cause a local gravitational collapse either.”

Someone sounds like they are listening to Maobert a little too much… Yes, Au, I mean you…

There is even a romance book in the list! How versatile Ellen is!

Of course, the Katz Tales are the favorite books.  Even the author admits that!  And I mean, what cat wouldn’t like a personal biographer?  I certainly need one.

At any rate, what’s next?  Target says, “We’re planning a Katz Tales book for Christmas.  Or maybe two if we can write some extra stories. And also our Logomania books will be coming out as ebooks in a few months.  We just signed the contract yesterday! At least, Mummy Cat signed and I licked the pages and put a little fang imprint on the pages so the publishers at MPH know I approve too.”

So that should be a great gift for the cat lover on your list!  And shouldn’t all humans be cat lovers?

Because Au, Target and Guido are in Malaysia, we wondered where their human sold the most books.  After all there are a lot of English speaking cat lovers around the world.  Target says, “We sell mostly at home in Malaysia.  But we’re furry excited to be going international now.  We’re on Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble and we’ve heard we’re on Apple’s iBooks too!   We can’t see though because Apple won’t let people in Malaysia see their stuff.  Not even if you write it.”

“We like the Internet because we can now buy books about cats in other countries that aren’t sold in Malaysia.  And we’re hoping catsefurrywhere in the world will now buy our books and read about us too!”

And of course, I wanted to know how I could get her to write a biography of me.  Alas, she is not into fishy flakes.  Target’s advice, “You know something strange, Your Majesty? Mummy Cat hates fish! Really, it’s true.  She says she works for cat biscuits but I’ve not seen her
eat any.  She likes Absolut vodka though.  Maybe if you offer her a case of that?

Note: We would have linked to the Apple store too but could not find the link, as the Woman had a heck of time even finding the iStore–she can find the place to sell computers and stuff but not books.

Art Walk Thursday: Planet Calamari

Yes, yes you remember Zevo. Zevo Hussein Calamari? That’s right, she blogs.  She does bite and run.  And in her spare time, she keeps her artist human on track over at Planet Calamari. 

So of course, we all know Calamari is kind of tasty, so I can only dream of such a tasty planet but I wanted to know why Planet Calamari?  Are humans as obsessed with this as a cat could be?  Zevo’s female servant says, “Back in the 90′s i co-wrote a few children’s books with my cousin. One of the  main characters was Princess Calamari who wore a squid on her head. She was my alter ego and nickname among friends and family. I continued to name other characters with Calamari as a surname in various illustrations. It began as a private joke and evolved from there. I have always been obsessed with cephalopods and sea creatures. Or maybe I just watched Star Wars one too many times, as there is a planet Mon Calamari.”

So what can you find at Planet Calamari? Jewelry, greeting cards, illustrations and books by Zevo’s person.

So of course, I had to ask about the CEO, Zevo, as she is a friend and Bite and Run Patrol mentor.  Here’s what her servant says about her story:

I never had cats in my entire life. When i was living in San Diego, CA, i had a dear friend Edie that was battling cancer. I went to her home every day to help take care of her. At the time i had 3 German Shepherds and 2 cockateils. The week before she passed away her two cats, Loretta and Cali had kittens under her bed- the  very same night. 19 kitties! Her husband was on overwhelm when she departed and did not want to deal with a house filled with cats. So all of her friends decided they would take a kitten. Zevo walked right up to me and picked me. Her sister, known as the Baby Pig jumped on my lap. I came home with two kittens. Thus began my adventure with cats. Baby Pig passed away in 2005.

Edie was the one who turned me on to acupuncture. I became very ill in the late 80s during my stint as a glass artist. Sandblasting and carving glass took a toll on my lungs. It was Edie who took me to a Chinese doctor who treated me with acupuncture and stinky herbs. Having such a miraculous effect i became enamored with alternative medicine. Right after her death i decided to sell my art business and go to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) in San Diego.  Zevo will always remain my connection to Edie and that period in my life. She has been with me for 19.5 years. Please do not tell her i mentioned how old she is! Zevo has lived in San Diego, Toronto, Boston, Salem and now the DC VA area.

Zevo has always had a larger than life personality so it was easy to make up stories about her and her friends. She decided she needed her own blog as a forum during the Bush regime to help battle the corruption and insanity. She and her cohorts started the Pooses for Peace and their legions of the Bite and Run patrols which were infamous for biting members of Congress, political figures, the Mayor of Salem, rabid pundits and stick insect starletts who wore fur. Since we moved she has not been posting much on her blog. She is still running covert operations and of course her brothel. She has semi-retired and is the process of writing her auto-biography and managing Planet Calamari.

One night searching the blog-o-sphere she found Cheysuli’s blog and learned that her pet human was an acupuncturist. … and well you know the rest!

So really? I’m the start of Zevo’s writing career?!  Wow.  Cool.

So anyway, back to the jewelry.  This is art for the Bohemian soul.  Here is how Zevo’s servant describes it, “My pieces are art to wear, inspired by nature, magic or old world images. I love creating sculptures to be worn on the wrist or around the neck. These are not for the average person- thus the tag line “Art for the bohemian soul.” And for all those reading this blog Zevo would like me to offer a coupon for 19% off all jewelry on the Planet Calamari Etsy Shop. Please use the code ZEVO19 when checking out. ”

Like a cat, the art made by Planet Calamari changes regularly.  The next new thing is likely a line of cat and dog themed jewelry so keep an eye out for that.  There may also be a cat themed coloring book at some time.  As it should be!  Currently all the books are about acupuncture and well, two are about dogs.

In addition to the offerings at Planet Calamari, Zevo’s other person does photography and is currently working as the webmaster and tech support for Tai Sophia Institute.  She’s got way to many creative folks to try and boss around for my taste. One is bad enough.

Clearly this is a cat with humans who don’t spend enough time with her.  Not only do they have the photography site and Planet Calamari, they have Four Paws Acupuncture, which was, for a long time, the servant’s acupuncture business.  Now she has books and articles and classes on treating canines for other acupuncturists.

 

Art Walk Thursday: Brumby’s Yarns

You know the great thing about art is that it comes in so many different packages.  Think about this: Brumby’s Yarns.  Check out what their store has:

All cat toys are made with 100% organic catnip and valerian root. All items are hand crocheted. Please message me if you have any questions!
Thank you for visiting my shop! Any purchase is guaranteed to bring joy to you and your feline friends.

Ichiro attacks banana

Ichiro attacking nip banana toy

This is art I can sink my teeth into (or my claws).

The shop owner contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing her products.  We got a Crinkly Cat Candy Toy, a Cat Banana, a Cat Oreo and a Jingle Gumball.  The Woman left everything in the package until she had a chance to let us see the opening of it.  Ichiro was right there and Gemini wasn’t far behind.  I was having a nap.

Ichiro went right for the nip banana.  Okay, that one wasn’t in a plastic bag with the others.  He immediately got his nose and stink all over it and fell over and started bunny kicking it and chewing on it.  He seemed to like that he could wrap his little toenails around the yarn and hold onto very tightly while he pulled at it and tried to eat it.

Ichiro and Oreo toy

They say you eat the filling first

When he got tired of that, he investigated the others.  The crinkle ball got some attention, then the gum ball and then he settled down to the nip Oreo which he’d toss in the air and then start attacking.  At some point during this time, Gemini came down.  She’s a much nicer player.  So she’d rub her head on the nip banana and then start rolling around, pawing at it, but never quite grabbing it.  Then she’d get up and rub her head on it again and start rolling around, looking happy.

The Woman brought the camera and toys up to me and I sniffed at them and left.  Later I gave that Oreo a go for its money.  I mean, Oreos, cats! Oreos!  We never get those!  The woman was surprised thinking I’d love the crinkly ball but I liked that Oreo.  And really–you know me. I hate to be predictable.  As for pictures, do you think I perform on camera?

Gemini and banana toy

Gemini attacks the banana

So you might wonder about the shop owner.  Kindra (the human), Mango and Voldemort do not have a blog.  This is what Kindra told us about herself and her cats:

Mango was a shelter kitty that my husband and I adopted when we first moved intogether and was our first pet as a couple. My husband loves orange kitties and she more than lives up to her redhead reputation. She is quite the sassy trouble-maker and always making our lives more interesting! Voldemort was a rescue. I found him one night on my door and while he was very skittish, let me pick him up and bring him inside. It was definately not our intention to get another cat, but I fell in love as soon as he let me pet him. It turns out he was incredibly sick with a major UTI that he must have had for a very long time. Since recovering from that, he has had other urinary issues as well, which has been quite the learning experience for us and also quite a challenge.
    I am a huge advocate for spay, neuter, and adopt. I have had my share of “rescue kitties” and finding them homes is always sucha challenge. A huge percentage of cats are given up to shelters and euthanized every year because of urinary issues and my experience with my own cat really helps me to reach out and educate owners about cat health and behavior. I work as a vet assistant at a large veterinary clinic, which gives me opportunity to share my knowledge with frustrated cat owners. Education is so important and BrumbysYarns has put me in touch with like-minded cat owners and enthusiasts across the country and really allowed me to help get the word out there about the over-crowded shelters across America and the thousands of stray cat colonies. I hope as my company grows, so do my opportunities to educate anyone who will listen.

Ichiro and gumball toy

Ichiro gets into the gumball toy

Yes, this review was solicited, but if you doubt our sincerity, take a close look at those photos.  No cats were unhappy about this post.  The compensation we received were the above mentioned toys that were sent to us by the owner and the satisfaction of a toy well tested.

Art Walk Thursday: Okey’s Promise

Wow!  This Thursday we have a great, great interview with artist Vicki Boatright, better known as BZ Tat (you know it–bee-zee-tat).  She’s currently launching a new Okey’s Promise Project.

So what’s Okey’s Promise?  It’s an initiative that brings awareness to the links between animal abuse and child abuse and domestic violence through public artwork.

BZ Tat says, “There seems to be a disconnect between advocates for animals and for people in need, when truthfully, the issues of both intersect. When animals are suffering in society, children are too. When there is violence to animals, there is likely violence to children and others who may be defenseless. My goal is to raise awareness so that both groups of advocates can help our communities better serve animals and people who are mutually suffering.

“I use public art as a way to heighten awareness and move people towards change. It is easy to ignore a fact sheet; less easy to ignore a large mural that you pass on the street everyday.

“So far, I have completed one mural in Canton, OH and I am about halfway through my second project. The second project is an exhibit of 10 paintings that is designed to travel to different communities.

“I have just launched the fund raising campaign for the 3rd project, which I hope to begin in October after completing project 2. This will be a very fun project! A business owner is allowing me to use her currently nondescript building as a canvas and we plan to transform the façade with colorful images. The focus on this project will be on the plight of animals who are homeless, cast offs from our society, who often fall victim to abuse in our communities. I will be creating an ebook to go along with the project.”

Want to help?  Go to Okey’s Promise Fund Raising Page.

So if that’s not enough, BZ Tat also assists her cat Brewski Butt in writing a blog–or maybe she doesn’t.  Apparently he got online one day without her knowing and just started tweeting.  Now that is my kind of cat!  According to BZ Tat, “He is a comical cat with lots of character, and he seemed to have lots of appeal the minute he got online. He is also very photogenic and fun to draw and paint. Developing his character artistically just sorta evolved as his online presence did.”

Brewskie took an “I’ll show you!”  and decided to virtually travel around the world to the various places he had online friends. “I drew a picture each day for each place he traveled. Those drawings became our first book, ‘Where in the World is Brewskie Butt Meowin’ Today?‘”  I think that she should help me go places too!

BZ Tat’s credentials are long and impressive.  She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking.  She spent 20 years as a social worker (another degree) while doing art as a passion.  It wasn’t a hobby, because she absolutely needed that outlet.  Now, she is a full-time artist.  She does custom pet portraits as well as selling artwork that she creates on her site, BZ Tat Studios.

We asked about her process in creating a custom pet portrait.  She said,  ”When people commission a custom pet portrait, I like to take them along for the adventure through the process of creating it. I post images of each stage of the process in social media, so that the patron can come “into the studio” with me. It takes several hours to paint a portrait, and I work on different projects at the same time, so it can take 3-4 months to complete a work, depending on my waiting list”

“I am not an illustrator, so I do not allow people to script the outcome of the piece. They have hired an artist to articulate the artist’s vision, and to a certain extent, they must trust my process. There are plenty of examples of my work to view in advance to see if my vision is what you want. Although I try to accommodate special requests, I am not articulating YOUR idea. I am a fine artist who has been hired to express her own.”

Last week, on her blog, there was a great article on what it means to be an artist.  We were struck by the comment that Vicki had to get clear that her work as an artist was every bit as much of an essential service as her work as a counselor.  She continues, “I think we all have to determine what feels right about our careers and our purposes in life. As I was completing my graduate degree in art, I asked my painting professor what kind of career options I would have as an artist. She told me that most artists waited tables or did other low paying jobs while being a slave to their art. I was given no skills for finding ways to market my art, in fact I was discouraged from doing that, as it would be “selling out”.”

“That was totally unacceptable to me. I knew I had talent, but it did not seem worth slaving over in minimum wage jobs with 2 degrees! As I said before, . I felt a need to contribute to the world on a more“essential” level, doing things that affected the outcomes of other people’s lives who were in need. I also wanted a career that had some hope of a paycheck.”

“My advice to artists is to: 1) get some business skills along the way; 2) Learn to create simply for the purpose of articulating your vision, then learn to find people who like your vision and are willing to buy it once you have developed your style and “brand”; live a life full of purpose and many varied experiences that will guide your vision.”

Wow! This is one amazing woman.  What can you aspiring artists out there accomplish?

 

Thursday Art Walk With Chey: Siamese Cat Art

Today’s Art Walk is a walk through one of our favorite places, the Etsy market.

And how about this great print, feature here called Siamese Cat Print Oriental Beauty.  Irina, the artist has a number of wonderful prints featuring cats, several of which feature Siamese. She’s not a cat blogger, but I can’t help but be stunned by her artwork.

I’m also enjoying a print called Fire Cats with all the lovely reds and yellows featuring our favorite breed, the Siamese. No one would mistake these cats for me, but they are fun.

There’s a digital Siamese cat art print that’s quite striking as well. This I could image being of me!

There’s also an amazing water color of a very blue eyed cat that you might enjoy.

Now here’s a question for all those fine etsy artists. Why did you all call your prints Siamese Cat Prints (except for the Fire Cats). Because I was getting tired of printing that title and they were all lovely.  These are only a few of the wonderful prints you can find when you search Siamese Cat Art on this site.

And yes, we have some wonderful cat blogosphere artists selling their wares over there so I need to get the Woman to solicit them for interviews!

Art with Katie and Glogirly

It’s my first Art Walk Thursday ever.  So this should be special.  Of course, that means I can’t feature the Woman as well, we all know about her. I thought that seeing Katie is now having a great promo for her new business, Glogirly Design, that I’d feature her.

As you know Katie is having a contest on her blog with a variety of give aways.  I asked how much was being given away and Katie added everything up on her toes and toes and said, “The total value of all the graphics and design services we are giving away this week is $380.  This includes Friday’s GRAND PRIZE, a Blog AND Facebook Makeover.  In addition, we are also giving away a few pieces of official GLOGIRLY swag valued at $50! ” I’m impressed she has so many toes. Wow.  So get entering, right?

So, of course, “Design” is a big word.  What are Glogirly and Katie love doing most? “I love bringing ideas to life visually.  I love it when someone sees what THEIR idea can look like and the only word they can find is , WOW!.”

   Glogirly added, “I love helping people to brand their online identity.  Whether it’s a serious business of a fun hobby, it’s a reflection of YOU.  And our first impressions are always visual ones…More specifically, I really enjoy creating blog headers, logos and coordinating profile avatars, as well as tweaking the blog template, palette and layout.  Those are the basic elements of a Blog Makeover. One of the most fun projects I worked on was the blog and book cover design for Meg S. Hart’s Housecat Confidential.  It’s still one of my favorites.”
   We looked over at Housecat Confidential and asked if they specialized in cat graphics and Katie told me that they would help anyone, cats, rats, ferrets, goats, dogs and even humans with their design needs.  In fact, Glogirly is prepared to help with blog headers and backgrounds, Facebook pages, book covers, Special Celebration graphics, Logos, Business Cards, Swag Design, YouTube Channel Background, Videos and Blog Pages.  Wow. That’s a lot.
   You may wonder why should Glogirly get your business?  She’s studied design at the University of Minnesota and have a B.S. in Applied Design & Graphic Design.  In addition she says, “When I was in college, Photoshop was a place you went to have your pictures developed in an hour.  So to keep current on design technology, I’ve taken advanced training in Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign at an Adobe Certified School & Training Center.  But frankly, I’ve learned the most by just playing in the programs. Some people doodle on a post it. I do it on my laptop. “
   Katie, however, was a natural.  ”Katie is a paws-on student of design.  My laptop is like a magnet to her.  From a very young age, as soon as I popped the lid open, she was right there by my side.  Conversely, as soon as I shut the lid, she’s a blurred flash of black & white fur. “
   So, is everyone ready to stroll on over there and see those great designs Katie has going on? Have you entered?  Check out the posts from this week–winning is just as easy as leaving a comment!