Sunday, June 26, 2022

A Cauldron of Cats – Day 5

Just a thousand words today.

Our Sunday routine, at least until we move to the coast, is to wake up, drink a glass of water and take our vitamins, maybe have a cup of coffee, then go for a walk up the steep hill near our rental house. The mornings are so pleasant, not too humid, and we enjoy getting outside before it gets too hot.

Plus, we get to meet our neighbors and practice our Spanish. One man we always talk to heads by our house to check on his cows each morning and evening. We’re in the country near Orocovis, which is in the middle of the island. Surrounding us are small farms and pasture lands with cows grazing on the mountainsides.

(My dad told me when I was little that some cows are left-footed, some are right-footed; they can only walk around the mountain one way because the legs on one side of their body are shorter than the others. That’s why they can walk on the side of a hill without falling over. I think I believed this through high school.)

After our walk, we fix ourselves another cup of coffee and have some breakfast. We head to the church service at 9:30 or so. I still use the maps app on my phone, but I think next week I’ll know my way around these very curvy mountain roads. Worship runs from 10’ish to 11:30’ish or so (heh, we’re learning to be flexible here in the Caribbean).

With our pastors at Primera Iglesia Bautista.

Didn’t plan in a shopping trip today, so we came home, had lunch, and relaxed.

Also didn’t want to go two days without working on Cauldron, so I finished chapter 11 where I discovered how our human heroes learn of the vet’s (Dr. Vance) ignoble past. This causes them all alarm as they’ve suspected all along that she’s been hiding her (slight spoiler) ‘mad scientist’ past.

The story is at about 16,000 words now and I can tell the climax is fast approaching. The neighborhood cats have caught up with Helga and Lox and they are about to storm the secret lab where the other specially-gifted (read magical) cats are being held. So a good 1000 words.

And exciting! So excited about the story that I shipped it off to some beta readers already. Most writers say this is a no-no. Wait until the story is complete before getting any feedback. That’s probably good advice. But I enjoy hearing from friends and family along the way about what they like and what makes them scratch their heads.

I tell my beta team that I’m always interested in their feedback, but may not do anything with it, but feel free to share! As the storyteller, I reserve the right to accept or reject any suggestions. Not trying to be mean or controlling, I just know the story I’m trying to tell.

Now where feedback comes in handy is when I get a suggestion that clarifies where I’m heading or how I’m telling the story or what I’m trying to accomplish in a certain scene or clears up a plot hole. Or something along those lines.

For example, one first reader questioned a word I used to describe the relationship between Mister and his lover, Nix. In fact, that was the word. Did lover fit? Would sweetie or sweetheart work better? I thought about it and made a change. For the better, I think.

Another reader, when I was writing Cat Potion, questioned how I was describing the relationship between cats and their humans. Since cats ‘own’ the world, I basically gave the impression that Mister owned ‘his woman’, Helga. That didn’t sit well with this friend. He said he knew what I was trying to accomplish but it sort of sent the wrong signal, in his opinion.

I agreed. So I changed every reference to the cat’s ‘man’ or ‘woman’ to ‘human’ in that first novella. Still, an odd way to think about it, I suppose. Well, reading another one of Dean Wesley Smith’s light novels (this one about a human superhero in the area of cats), the cats in that world have human companions.

An aha moment. So in Cauldron, I changed all the stand alone references to his or her human to his or her human companion or simply companion. I’ll eventually go back and edit Cat Potion so that my quirky phraseology (“but that’s my creative voice!”) won’t trip up the reader.

Because my ultimate goal in having beta readers is not to bow to the whims of every different reader’s preferences. But to help me clarify my voice and tell the best story I can tell.

My typical beta reader! (grin)
Image by DavidRockDesign from Pixabay.

Today's Writing Tip...
Find some good beta readers that provide the feedback you need.

Writing: A Cauldron of Cats by Lyn Perry
Introduction - Becoming a Full-Time Writer
Day 1 - 2,400 words, story is at 4,200 words
Day 2 - 3,400 words, story is at 7,600 words
Day 3 - 3,800 words, story is at 11, 400 words
* Day 4 - 3,600 words, story is at 15,000 words
* Day 5 - 1,000 words, story is at 16,000 words


Follow along each day as I post my progress in writing A Cauldron of Cats, Book 2 in my Mister the Magical Cat Series (available for pre-order now; affiliate links used throughout). You can also "Tip a Buck & Get a Book" and I'll send you Book 1 now, Cat Potion No. 9

Lyndon Perry is a speculative fiction writer living in Puerto Rico. He's a former pastor and current husband, father, coffee drinker, and cat-wrangler to Charlie, a 19 year old orange and white tabby who serves as the inspiration to Mister the Magical Cat. You can find him a variety of places online. Check out his various Linktree Locations and say hello!

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