Luna the Krazy Kitty

The youngest feline addition to our household is Luna. As you may remember, my wife maintains a Harry Potter theme for our cats. Phoenix is the eldest, Minerva is second, and then comes Luna.

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Luna gets caught climbing on the baker’s rack

Luna is a rather rambunctious kitty. She’ll find any object that isn’t nailed down and turn it into a toy. Despite the amount of cat toys in the house, Luna loves to play with pens and pistachio nuts. Every time I move the couch to clean I find many stray objects.  

Small insects do not stand a chance against Luna, the kitty with the heart of a lion. The unwary tend to make their way through the back door frame only to run smack into Luna. Always vigilant, she tends to linger by the rear glass door to watch for birds and stray cats.

Of all three cats, Minerva is the most affectionate. Luna relishes play time with her humans, but only accepts affection on her own terms. She’ll approach and place her paws on my leg. That’s her signal that she wants to be either petted or rubbed.

Luna is quite the clever kitty. Sometimes she takes a chunk of dry cat food and dips it into the water dish to soften it up, but I don’t know why. She does eat both wet and dry cat food.

With the arrival of Little Frankie, we’ve had our share of cardboard boxes. Luna is adept at turning any box into a fort which she likes to defend from Minerva. At times, she’ll use a box as a hunting blind and make stealth attacks.

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In the beginning, Luna occupied to low rung of the totem pole as they say. However, she is asserting herself with the others. For example, a few months ago we purchased a deluxe four tier cat tree. Immediately, Luna claimed the top perch, and the other cats seem to have accepted her claim.

How are you kitties doing? Have you ever brought a kitten into a home where other older cats ruled?

Every Time You Reply Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

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Call Me Crazy Because…

I started writing a Sci-Fi novel, the first of a series for Camp NaNo 2017. Why is that crazy? Because I have two #fantasy novels, one novelette, and eight short stories sitting on the editing pile.

Blame #CampNaNo 2017

During the last week of June, I decided to not participate in Camp NaNo 2017. The sight of my editing list (I’m staring at it right now. It looks like a hideous monster waiting to consume me) was beginning to get on my nerves. As I sat in front of my computer in my writing space ready to work on the dreaded editing backlist, a flash went through my mind like a lightning bolt, a special delivery from the writing muse herself.

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Suddenly I saw a series of Sci-Fi novels based upon a single main character. This is quite a different approach from my current novels. For my fantasy series, The Tales of Tyrennia, I can go anywhere within that world and write about something within a particular Kingdom.

I could’ve made some notes and put the Sci-Fi series on a back-burner for a rainy day, but no-ooooo. People, or should I say other authors made a few Facebook posts about Camp NaNo 2017. Then other authors chimed in about their projects and preparations; the temptations overwhelmed me.

Let The Insanity Begin

I can’t dedicate my usual time during this NaNo session on account of Little Frankie, but so far I’ve completed the first chapter. Also, I must say, the words are coming easier and my first draft quality is a giant stride away from the drafts of my first scribblings. Hopefully, as I hammer this one out, I won’t have to spend as much time on numerous editing passes.

Perhaps, the change has occurred because I haven’t written new material in a long time. I have kept my nose to the grindstone with minute editing details for an extended period of time; those long hours have honed my wordsmithing skills.

In The End

I’ll try to write a follow up post on August 1st and let you know how things turned out for the month. Of course, I’m going to ask the same of you.

What are you doing for Camp NaNo 2017? How many WIPs have you abandoned this month?

Why Do We Write?

What motivates someone to sit down at a keyboard and write 75K words? Then attend writer’s meetings for critiques, spend months editing, find beta readers, design a cover, and lastly, format and upload the aforementioned 75K words?

If your motivation for all of the above is to be famous, have book signings, or an interview with Oprah, then I heartily suggest you find something else to do.

We write because we have stories to tell. We also go through the whole grueling process because we want to see our name on something worthy. The final product brings a certain element of satisfaction and a sense rebellion. An unnamed fire burns within indie authors. Some may call it a muse, while others refer to it as inspiration. We write because of our collective love of literature.

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The satisfaction comes from completing your project, like painting a room or crocheting a sweater. The rebellion comes from being independent. After all, as an Indie Author, your story welled up from your soul, not from a marketing computer within a publishing house in Manhattan.

However, we market and advertise to sell. There’s no shame or “sellout” factor if you want to reach readers. I am not familiar with any artist working within any medium who does not seek an audience. Even if you don’t have an advertising budget, social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snap Chat, et al are free. But that is the subject for a different post.

For a few years, I’ve been noticing a certain similarity between Indie ‘gurus’; those wise sages who dispense free self-help via social media. Just as people in real estate chant the mantra “location, location, location,” these folks cheer, “titles, titles, titles,” with equal enthusiasm. To be brief, they’re right. However, their advice should also include a caveat or at least an amendment to their cheer. The mantra should be… “quality titles, quality titles, quality titles.”

In a previous post concerning my random scan of samples on Amazon, I stated that the three most prevalent errors were echoing headwords, weak opening sentences, and overusing forms of ‘to be’. Perhaps rushing the writing process to amass titles is the cause.

I wonder why most Indie authors lack the extra layer of polish. After all, reading craft books, attending critique groups, and finding beta readers, are an essential part of churning out a quality product. Even if you can’t afford an editor, craft books and blogs are replete with editorial instructions and tips from plotting, character creation, dialog, show vs. tell, etc.

As I turn this problem over in my mind, I keep going back to the “titles, titles, titles” mantra as the influence. Well intentioned and true advice, but only loosely defined.

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Short Stories by Ernesto San Giacomo

 

 

 

Every Time You Reply – “Little Frankie” Doesn’t Cryfrancesco25

Living Baby Dinosaur Found!

Idaho 6/16/2017: Scientists conducting wildlife research on the Snake River between Grand View and Bruneau stumbled upon a Baby Francosaurus, long considered from other fossil evidence as a distant cousin of the Stegosaurus.

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“Unbelievable! I can’t wait to do some more research,” said Dr. Leeksy from the department of Cryptozooanthromorpharchaeology from Gem State Research University. Scientists from the department were universally agreed in their identification. “The tri-taloned green feet are better than a fingerprint,” said Dr. Piglet.

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When pressed for more information, the team informed us that the green feet, alternating banded striations, and retractable cranial ridge-plates, undeniably distinguish the Francosaurus from other dinosaur species of the late Jurassic period.

Not long after media outlets reported the story, protestors showed up and demanded that the scientists leave the creature alone and conduct their research from a safe distance. Jane Laimbrayne, a spokeswoman for the group Dinosaur Lives Matter, said “…the Francosaurus must be protected in its natural habitat at all costs.” Volunteers from the group and scientists set up cameras and vigils to protect the Francosaurus from poachers. In a show of conservational solidarity, both groups chanted “We adore the Francosaur.”

Governor Bruce Udder misunderstood the significance of the discovery. The Governor mistakenly thought that Francosauruses were a new French ethnic political action group. “It’s been my pleasure to be acquainted with Francosauruses for most of my life. Even some of my best friends in college were Francosauruses. I am proud of their contribution to the diverse cultural fabric of our great state.” After the true nature of the Francosaurus was explained to him, and the need for extra funding for research, the governor ran away declined to comment further.

Every Time You Reply – The Francosaurus Doesn’t Cry

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On Vikings, Italian Grandmothers, and Wooden Spoons

Recently, a historical mystery has sparked a debate on Facebook between Kristen Lamb (Indie Author guru and Viking Goddess) and me. Namely, who weaponized the wooden spoon? Was it the Vikings or the Italian grandmother? Both parties are famed in both song and story for their ability to transform any benign object within arm’s reach into a deadly weapon. I began a quest to find the answer.

First, I turned to several noteworthy historians who have presented us with Viking lore. Famed British chroniclers who write under the collective pen name Monty Python have expounded on a wide swath of human history in a series of films, from the Biblical Life of Brian, to the medieval quest for the Holy Grail, and even the rather post-modern philosophical epic The Meaning of Life.

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Within the scope of their work, Monty Python has delved into the world of Nordic civilization, as evidenced by their presentation of Njorl’s Saga. Within this Icelandic Saga, there is no mention, either visual or vocal, of a wooden spoon. However, it does confirm the ability of Vikings to turn any benign object into a weapon. In part III of Njorl’s Saga , Eric Njorl, the son of Frothgar… is charged with using “the big brown table down at the police station,” in a deadly manner. While “the big brown table” may be wooden, it is certainly not a spoon.

There can be no doubt as to the historic veracity of this most scholarly endeavor.

Then I searched through the archives of Monty Python’s American counterparts – the Looney Toons. Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny have delved into prehistoric times through the medieval and modern eras as well. In one particular grand opus, “What’s Opera, Doc?” the duo performs Wagner’s four cycle opera Der Ring; there is no mention of a wooden spoon. Elmer’s aria concerning his spear and magic helmet – not spoons – should lay all notions of wooden spoons within a Viking context to rest.

Finally, I turned to the Beatles, who referenced the Nordic part of Europe with the song “Norwegian Wood.” Despite the fact that Viking influence is vast in the British Isles, the wood described in the song was thrown on the fire, and never fashioned into a spoon. In the end, in all of literature and film, I could not find a single reference to Vikings using wooden spoons as weapons.

What About Italian Grandmothers?

At a dead end with the Vikings, I turned to the other side of the question.

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I only found modern references to Italian grandmothers and wooden spoons (and shoes, and rolling pins). But I believe there is an indisputable case of cultural appropriation stemming from Italy. Fuhgeddabowt the Men in Black, for Italians there are the Women in Black. This may be the root of the old joke: What’s the difference between an Italian grandmother and an elephant? About 25 pounds and a black dress. 🙂

Let me explain. In the old days, Italian women who did not wed most likely became nuns – women in black. From their roots in Italy, nuns and the convent culture have since spread throughout the world. Whether a nun is in France, Germany, Britain, the U.S., or South America, their prowess with using rulers as weapons is legendary. Survivors of Catholic education readily show their scars and even compete with each other concerning their number and intensity.

I find it highly probable that Italian grandmothers found the ruler to be so effective that they instituted similar punishment in their homes, using the closest thing they had on hand – the wooden spoon.

IF YOU REPLY – “LITTLE FRANKIE” DOESN’T CRYfrancesco25

7 Easy Tips for Indie-Authors

I’ve noticed many memes or progress posts by indie-authors on Facebook and Twitter like “Wrote 2.5k today.” Of course, when such messages pop-up at around 10:30am, one has to wonder if the author’s blazing fingers melted the keyboard. Writing has to be done because we all understand the classic tidbit of wisdom that you can’t edit a blank page. However, some indie-authors should learn how to live life. Therefore, I’ve put together a small list to combat the typical bad habits that plague indie-authors. Hopefully, these tips will help the writing / editing process.

First: Open a window and breathe. That stuff you smell is called fresh air. Your body and brain needs oxygen, don’t deprive yourself.

Second: I’m sure there’s a place where you can order a couple of poached eggs and toast. Hotpockets, snickers bars, pizza rolls, and Twinkies* do not constitute a diet.

*I’ve discovered a widely held belief among indie-authors. Chocolate or fudge covered Twinkies are considered a healthier alternative to the standard Twinkie. Many authors believe the coating prevents bacteria or other micro-organisms from penetrating the cake and cream filling. 🙂 

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Third: Once a day, or for once in your life. Please put down the coffee mug or shot glass and try a glass of water or juice. Man does not live by bread alone, nor should indie-authors live by caffeine alone.

Fourth: Take a break. Even prisoners on death row are given some time to roam outdoors. Time spent on social media like Facebook or Twitter is NOT considered break time. You’re still typing and reading!

Fifth: Socializing can be fun. Maybe we indie-authors should try it. Going to the coffee shop to have a critique session with other authors doesn’t count. Perhaps combine this one with a trip to the diner.

Sixth: Please give your cat(s) some play time. There is an indie-author / cat owner corollary. After all, you are their human and they need attention too. Remember, cat lives matter!

Seventh: Just look at the disarray on your writing desk. When do you plan on cleaning it? There is probably a better place for the piles of notes and craft books. If you’re a voracious reader, then you should have shelves or a bookcase somewhere?

I’m sure this list can be expanded. If you’ve got an idea drop a comment below. Also, are you guilty of any of the above habits? I know I am, just look at the photographic evidence of the Twinkie.  🙂

Every Time You Reply – “Little Frankie” Doesn’t Cryfrancesco25

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The Power of a Baby

A baby can’t read, write, or speak. Can’t offer an opinion on anything, feed, clothe himself, or wipe his own butt. Yet, his presence can turn lives upside down, make family around the country send gifts, call constantly, and garner many likes on Facebook.

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One has to face facts; our baby Prince possesses complete domestic control. He alone determines if we can go shopping or out for breakfast.

There are times when we feel like baby Francesco has ESP or some other psychic power. He always knows when we are trying to eat. Although I have varied our dinner time around his feeding/sleeping pattern, he seems to know what we’re doing. Moreover, it goes beyond dinner. He also can detect those times when mommy and daddy need some quiet cuddle time on the couch. Now a 90 minute movie takes three or four evenings to complete.

We have lost sleep, spent thousands of dollars, and I have exhausted myself doing renovations. Our little tyke wields more power than Darth Vader and General Patton combined.francesco25

 

However, his cute little smile makes everything worthwhile.

 

 

 

Minnie the Cat

Last month I told you all about Phoenix, our eldest kitty. Well, now I’m going to tell you about Minnie our black & white tuxedo.

Although we call her Minnie, her real name is Minerva. As you may recall, our cats’ names reflect a Harry Potter theme. She is so named for Minerva McGonagall.

Minnie was a stray that I picked up in San Antonio. I was helping out a sergeant in my wife’s squadron paint his living room and kitchen. Every time I went out for a smoke, I spotted this scrawny starving kitty. She would approach me and meow for food. My friend didn’t own a cat so I gave her some dry dog food.

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Later that week I purchased some #cat food on the way to paint. Minnie was pleased to get some real cat yummies. The next day I brought a carrier with me and put the food inside. I captured Minnie and brought her to a veterinary clinic near my home. She got a clean bill of health and has been with us ever since.

Minnie is very playful and follows me from room to room. She is extremely jealous of other cats and quite vociferous. If I should mention Phoenix or Luna, Minnie will come running over. She does not like me doling out affection to another cat.

Odd as it may seem, I’ve learned to discern what she wants. Her usual requests are for petting, playing, and opening the blinds. However, a study was done concerning how cat owners do understand their kitties when they speak.

Do you understand cat chat? Do your kitties have a jealous streak?

DON’T GO – MAKE A COMMENT BELOW!

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Phoenix (The Wonder Cat)

As you can see, Phoenix is a tortoise shell #cat. My wife acquired her from a rescue shelter when we were living in San Antonio. She was seven then and now she has reached the ripe old age of fourteen.

Unfortunately, she was de-clawed while she was there. De-clawing is such a foul and despicable practice. She still likes to scratch her imaginary claws on carpet posts.

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Phoenix is something of a princess. Her favorite pastime is sleeping on the couch. Of course she turns into a lap cat whenever my wife and I cuddle up on the couch. She is playful, but on her own terms. Phoenix only likes to play with me or my wife, as for other cats….fuhgeddabowdit! Like I said, she is too much of a princess to bother with other cats. I’m sure she regards them as commoners in her royal eyes.

Even when we have visitors, Phoenix will sit on the back of the couch without the slightest hint of curiosity. Naturally she expects guests to approach her throne and greet her formally.

Since she is affectionate, a newcomer can make friends instantly by brushing her or using a toy mouse on a string. I think she enjoys a grooming session more than most other kitties.

Lastly, there is the specialty of her name. All of our cats’ names have something to do with Harry Potter. So goes my wife’s influence on the household.

Got cats, dogs, or something else? Tell me about your pet(s).

DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

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R.I.P. Greg Lake

Way back in the 1970’s, I put my first album by Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) on a turntable and was summarily hooked. It wasn’t long before my collection grew, as did my taste for bands with unusually long songs considered unfit for top 40’s radio. Only late night FM DJ’s would occasionally risk playing such material.

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Photo by Jean Luc and used under CC License

The amazing Bass and Guitar playing by Greg Lake will be missed. Of course along with musicianship came his ability to write timeless classics. Gone are the days when I used to play passages over and over from an album, trying desperately to copy those notes on my guitar.

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s self-titled first album was a brazen and loud announcement to the world that rock music had evolved into a higher realm. I remember teaching a music appreciation class back when I was still with the NYC Department of Education. Naturally the textbook assigned mostly dealt with classical, folk, and jazz music. However, the last chapter did make mention of notables from rock. Of course, Emerson Lake & Palmer warranted a few paragraphs.

There are many ELP songs and full albums on You Tube. If you’re not familiar with their music, have a listen and try to understand the depth of our collective loss. Remember ELP was one of those classic rock progressive bands that didn’t just make songs; they made albums. And those albums explored particular musical themes and subject matter.

Thank you, Greg Lake for all of your creative energy, which not only entertained, but also amazed. You were more than a musician, composer, and lyricist. You were a pioneer who transported your fans into other realms.

DO GO – LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!  Tell me about your fond memories of Greg Lake.

P.S. I know all about Greg’s time and legacy with King Crimson as well. But for me, he’ll always be the “L” in ELP.

Click the Pic below and go to Ernesto San Giacomo’s AMAZON author page.

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