Tag Archives: Karen Duvall

Twenty Years of Conference Memories

by Karen Duvall

I had such a blast at the Colorado Gold Conference last weekend. It brought back memories of the very first Gold I attended in 1994. Twenty years. Damn, I feel old. I think I’ve only ever missed one conference in all these years and that’s because I moved to Oregon and the airfare would have killed me. I’m still in Oregon, and airfare is still a killer, but I make sure to save my pennies so that I never miss it again.

I recall my decision to attend the 1994 conference after hearing about it from a writer friend’s wife who was also a writer. She raved about RMFW and the conference, and since I’d only recently completed my first full-length manuscript, I thought it would be a great opportunity to find a publisher.

Okay, you can stop laughing now. I can hear you all the way from here.

I didn’t know much about what a conference entailed so I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know there would be workshops and published authors there, and I’d only recently heard about a special group of publishing professionals called literary agents. What a wonderful concept. I’m in!

As for publishers, I don’t think I met an editor that first year. I was too intimidated. Especially after I heard one of them speak. I’m pretty sure it was Michael Stedman of Walker that put the fear into me, but I could be wrong. It was a long time ago.

When I found out an agent had the power to get a writer’s work in front of an editor I thought, “Sign me up!” So I got in line for a pitch appointment with one. In those days you didn’t have to preregister to pitch to an agent or editor. So after hearing about this amazing chance to chat with an honest-to-god agent, I signed up to pitch to a literary agent named Grace Morgan. Once I sat down in front of this professional business woman who never cracked a smile, I lost my ability to speak. Seriously. I’d never had such a bad case of dry mouth in all my life. After a few awkward moments of silence and watching me on the verge of apoplexy, she patted my hand and said, “Honey, it’s okay. I won’t bite.” I wasn’t so sure about that, but her reassurance helped. I still choked. Even so, Ms. Morgan requested pages and I was beside myself with joy.

I also met some wonderful writers that weekend, writers I’d continue a strong friendship with for the next twenty years. I met my longtime friends and conference roommates, Shannon Baker and Karen Lin, at that first conference. We’ve shared our personal lives as well as our writing woes and triumphs, our wins and losses, and supported each other throughout our writers’ journey. We never would have met if not for RMFW and the Colorado Gold.

My first awards banquet was an eye-opening experience. I’d never before felt such a strong sense of community. I was privileged to see Rick Hanson himself read the simile winners and watched Alice Kober hand out the valuable prizes. I was awed by all the talented winners of that year’s writing contest. I didn’t personally know the winner of the Jasmine Award, but I teared up with everyone else when she walked up to the podium to accept her plaque (ten years later I accepted my own). I knew then that this organization would change my life, and it has.

When I returned home on Sunday after the 1994 conference, I tried to keep that experience alive by going through all the materials I’d brought home with me. So much information! It was overwhelming, but also exhilarating. My journey had finally begun because now I had the tools I needed to really get started. That folder of paper had ripped corners and coffee stains, highlighter marks and pen scribbles, and it reminded me of the Velveteen Rabbit because those papers were so loved.

The following year I signed with my first literary agent (not Grace Morgan). I was a finalist in the writing contest in 1999. I got my first publishing contract in 2000. I joined a critique group (go Alphas!), served on the board as PAL rep, volunteered for contest and for conference, presented workshops, started the anthology project, and though I’m now 1200 miles away from Denver, I still stay involved with conference and RMFW as much as I possibly can.

Last weekend I found myself reflecting on my first conference and all the memorable moments in between. It’s been one incredible journey that hasn’t ended, and I hope it never will. For those of you who attended conference for the first time, I hope your experience was as amazing as my first conference was, and that you’ll come back next year. And I hope you get involved with RMFW because this fabulous group of supportive writers will stand behind you every step of the way. You have my word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen DuvallKaren Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series and plans to publish her new urban fantasy novel, Demon Fare, before the end of 2014.

 

Pitch it to Me, Baby

By Karen Duvall

Wow! I can’t believe the Colorado Gold Conference is only one month away. I’m refraining from packing my bag too early, but I mentally add to my packing list every day. I’m all registered for conference, my plane reservations are made, my hotel room is set, I’m super excited to see my kids and grandkids while I’m there, and I’m eager to visit with all my Colorado writer friends again. This promises to be an incredible trip.

As I prepare for my journey, I’m also preparing for the conference itself. I feel very lucky to have made it into a critique workshop with Kensington editor Peter Senftleben on Friday morning. Though I have an agent, it never hurts to network and the manuscript pages I’m having critiqued is from the book my agent is preparing to submit to publishers. I want my pitch to be tighter than a banker’s wallet.

It’s fortunate for me that I’ll be teaching a “Pitch and Query” workshop for the Central Oregon Writers Guild on Saturday, August 23, at COCC in Redmond, Oregon. Perfect timing, yes? Because not only will I be helping guild members work on pitches for their novels, they’re going to help me with mine. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Guild members aren’t preparing to pitch at any specific conference I’m aware of, but it’s smart to have one ready for any situation when you might need a tight description of your book. During the workshop we’ll be working on queries as well. Conferences aren’t the only opportunities to pitch a novel. There are now many pitching opportunities online that include blog events with editors and agents, writer group forums, Twitter, Facebook and online writers’ conferences that are growing in popularity.

This is all the more reason why a pitch should be brief and effective. Step one — It needs three vital components for a solid hook:

  • Paint a compelling mental picture.
  • Offer an idea of genre.
  • Have a killer title.

What elements go into the pitch? First we state who the hero is, what his goal is and why he must have it, and what prevents him from getting what he wants. It’s vital that we focus on the conflict at the heart of our book. Put this all together and you have an ironclad formula for a successful pitch. If it falls within the purview of an agent’s or editor’s acquisition needs, you’ll probably get a request for pages.

I recommend writing several versions of your pitch. When you think you have a good one, don’t stop there. Polish it, let it sit for a while, then read it again out loud. The goal is to hook your audience, so it should be short and to the point.

As usual, it’s easier to use movies as examples because popular movies are the most familiar. Here are two fairly good single-line pitches:

“A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists.” – Die Hard

“A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend.” – Pretty Woman

Both these examples use hooks to grab attention. Once you capture an editor’s or agent’s interest, you can take it one step further. Both these one-liners set the stage to continue on with the hero’s character arc and the emotional stakes that embroil him and the antagonist. The first line of your pitch is usually conceptual, an overview of the big picture. Once your hook has found its mark, it’s time to reel in your audience with theme and conflict.

Be prepared to answer unexpected questions that may not be covered in your pitch. You might be asked something like: Who’s your villain and what does he want from your hero? Where did you get the idea for your story? Who are the other characters and why are they important? Plus myriad other possible inquiries. Know your story inside and out.

Practice your pitch on a fellow writer or critique partner. If you pre-registered for the one-on-one pitch coaching sessions on Friday at conference, you’ll have a chance to try out your pitch and get feedback from a professional.

During my workshop here in Oregon I’ll be breaking up the class into groups so they can brainstorm and practice writing their pitches. But as a warm up, I have an exercise planned. They’ll get a list of vague pitches for popular movies that that can be “beefed up” to power pitch level. Vague pitches can be misleading and lose power due to a lack of specificity. I’ve collected a bunch and the class can revise as many as they want as practice for creating their own pitches.

Can you revise any of these poor pitch examples?

Batman: A man deals with the deaths of his parents.
Superman: A Kansas farmboy moves to the big city and helps people.
Spider-Man: A nerdy teenager learns to stand up for what he believes in.
Captain America: A troubled young man takes steroids, attacks foreigners.

Feel free to post in comments whatever you come up with.

Though I won’t be giving my pitch workshop at Colorado Gold, I will be presenting a workshop on Plot Devices: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on Saturday, September 6, at 4:30 p.m. I’ll have a few tools to share for your writer’s toolbox so don’t miss it. See you then!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen Duvall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She’s an award winning author published with Harlequin Luna and is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy series.

http://www.karenduvallauthor.com

So You Think You Can Write

One of my favorite TV shows is So You Think You Can Dance. I watch the episodes streamed on Hulu.com because I’m never able to catch them at the time they’re televised.

While watching the show the other night, I noticed some similarities between dance as an art form, and writing.  Dance is an art, as is theater, music, the visual arts, and of course the various literary arts. Each art can be performed with varying levels of creativity.

One of the points made by judge Little C was how each dancer, as an artist, interprets dance differently. They may each execute the same steps, but it’s how the dance is performed that makes the difference. Some dancers are superb technicians with impeccable timing, posture, extensions, and all the other myriad moves that are choreographed into a performance. But if their heart and style and individuality is left out, they won’t rise above the ordinary. Dancers who give it their all and let themselves feel the joy of dance, who pay less attention to their steps and more to how dance lifts their souls, are the ones who become extraordinary artists.

So I got to thinking about how writing is much the same way. I should change the title of this post to So You Think Can Write a Novel because writing, like dance, is interpreted different ways. There are superb technicians who are competent wordsmiths. Journalists and technical writers might fit in that camp. If you can write an excellent software manual, can you write an equally excellent novel?

Maybe.

Good skill in one area does not guarantee excellence in another even if it’s the same art. Aside from the X factor no one can quite put their finger on, when it comes to writing fiction, there’s so much more to it than good grammar and a knack for stringing sentences together. A great poet may be a poor storyteller, a fabulous storyteller may suck at journalism. I think it’s rare for a writer to be especially good at writing everything, but I’m sure there are exceptions.

So tell me, writers, are you a good writer? Or are you a good storyteller? Do you think there’s a difference?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen DuvallKaren Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

The Joys of Being a Contest Judge

The first writing contest I ever judged was the Colorado Gold almost twenty years ago. After that first contest, I was hooked on judging and have been a judge in dozens of other writing contests ever since. Imagine my excitement when I received my entries for this year’s Colorado Gold. It brought back wonderful memories of those early years and reminds me how judging has helped me improve my own craft while introducing me to some talented new voices in fiction.

I understand how scary it is to enter a writing contest, to put yourself out there in front of strangers and have your work judged. You’re being brave and generous because judges, who are writers themselves, have the privilege of reading your work.

What are the benefits of judging a writing contest?

Honing your craft: When you read the work of others, whether it’s through critique or a writing contest, you have an opportunity to consider craft issues you might miss in your own writing. You see first hand how someone else does it the right way, or the wrong way, and can then identify those same issues in your own writing.

Stylistic Differences: The entries in a writing contest help you understand how styles differ for every writer. You get to experience how style affects the voice of the writer and you come to understand that differing styles are not wrong, only a unique signature of the writer.

Appreciation of Imaginative Voices: The talent of others is a privilege to see. Every entry has a creative spark to appreciate regardless of any technical problems it may have. As a judge you can review the writing for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

New Perspectives: If you ever wondered what it might be like for an editor or agent to read through the slush pile, judging a writing contest can offer you a fresh perspective. It helps you view the writing from a publishing professional’s point of view.

Paying it Forward: A fair judge with good intentions of helping other writers is paying it forward with constructive advice and feedback. It’s a win-win for us all.

If you’ve never judged a writing contest, please consider volunteering to do so. The rewards are real and everybody wins. If you’re a contest entrant, I want to thank you for the joy of reading your entry. And if you’ve never entered a writing contest, I hope you’ll consider doing so in the future.

I have a pretty good memory and I still remember many of the writing entries I’ve judged in past years, even those that didn’t win, and I’m always hoping to find those stories on bookstore shelves (virtual and otherwise) someday. Thank you for the privilege of reading your work!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen DuvallKaren Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

Should You Cut an Agent Some Slack?

I recently read a blog where the writer talked about her friend who had an agent that was unresponsive. Her point was that it was time for her friend to “divorce” her agent and find someone new.

I get it. In the past, I’ve had unresponsive agents myself. The waiting to hear back is excruciating. First you query agents and wait forever to get a response, which is tough enough. But then to actually sign with one who won’t communicate with you is sheer torture.

The key word here is communication. The blog I read stated the agented writer had lost confidence in her own writing, thought the agent no longer believed in her, and was even thinking about ending her writing career. My first thought was that there are two sides to every story and this post didn’t share the agent’s side. There’s no point wallowing in a pit of despair if you don’t talk to the person responsible for pushing you into that pit in the first place.

I’m not excusing the agent for ignoring her client, but I do feel the writer/agent relationship is a two-way street. Neither can possibly know what’s going on with the other without asking. I think it was C.J. Box who regaled us all with a story during his farewell luncheon speech at a Colorado Gold Conference several years ago. His first agent had ignored him for an entire year and he was pretty upset about it. Finally, he called the agent to fire him and found out his agent was dead. The fault here is with the agency for not dealing with all the dead agent’s clients, but C.J. acknowledged that if he’d called sooner, he wouldn’t have had to go through months of agonizing silence.

The problem with a lot of writers (not C.J.) is that after months of pursuing the attention of an agent and then finally landing one, we’re reluctant to rock the boat. We hang onto that agent for dear life because if we lose him or her, we’ll never get another one. Obviously, that’s not true. However, it can be like staying in a bad marriage (I’ve been there, too) because you think you have no choice. You do have a choice. Depending on the circumstances, at some point you have to fish or cut bait. If you’re not happy with a situation, get out.

So how do you know whether or not to stay or go? Just be sure to get in touch with your agent. Initial contact might have to be through his or her assistant, but ask for a “come to Jesus” meeting by phone so that you can hash things out. No emails or text messages, but a good old fashion verbal discussion. Chances are the silence is legitimate, and if so, make sure your agent is aware of how it’s affecting you. It might be time to switch to another agent within the agency. Or it might be time to leave altogether. Or it simply might require more patience on your part.

My point is that in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to fire your agent, you need to have all the answers. Talk it out before letting the silence do you in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen DuvallKaren Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

http://www.karenduvallauthor.com/
https://twitter.com/KarenDuvall
http://www.facebook.com/Karen.Duvall.Author

I Could Have Lost Everything

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up and started my usual routine of preparing for work. I work at home so I have a short commute to my office: down the hall, take a left at the entryway, and an immediate right through a set of double doors. It was a gray morning, typical in Oregon for this time of year, and like any typical morning, I pressed the little silver power button on the tower of my Mac Pro. I was rewarded with the Mac “bong” of greeting, but what followed was anything but typical.

Sick MacMy computer, my livelihood, my career-in-a-box, showed me an odd image on my monitor with scrolling words in several different languages. Something was wrong. The operating system refused to load.

Panic ensued. I called my local computer shop the moment they opened, we tried a few things over the phone, but the conclusion was indisputable. I think I heard Taps playing through my computer’s speakers.

Had I backed everything up? Most everything. The important stuff, at least. But I was going to be without my home business until whatever was wrong with my computer was fixed. They also needed my back-up drive in case the files on my hard drive couldn’t be restored.

I started imagining all kinds of worst-case scenarios. My back-up drive had been acting up recently after my dog dropped her ball on the USB cable plugged into the back of the computer and disconnected the drive. I’d had an error message that it might have been damaged. I’d checked it and it appeared all my files were there, but when I tested it on my laptop, the drive didn’t show up. Lovely.

Deep breaths. Okay, so at least I had the laptop I shared with my husband and I could access email, the Internet, Microsoft Office… But all my graphics software, the lifeblood of my business, was on the sick Mac Pro in the shop. I had design deadlines and various unfinished projects needing my attention. What was I going to do? There wasn’t anything I could do but wait.

After 3 days and 2 sleepless nights, I called the shop to ask for a diagnosis. They’d just started to run a diagnostic test and would call me later that day to give me the result. They didn’t call. It felt as if I were waiting at the back of a very long line that wasn’t moving.

I had to do something while I was waiting. It’s not in my nature to be unproductive. Since my husband and I were sharing the laptop I had to use my time wisely. This is how I learned the value of my Kindle Fire for things other than reading.

I’d recently finished revisions to the first book in a new series I was writing and had sent it off to my agent a couple of weeks before all this happened. It was time to start on the next book and the unexpected down time was a sign for me to get a jump on it. Though I’d been entertaining some ideas for the second book, I hadn’t planned anything yet. Two notebooks, a pencil, and a few Kindle web searches later and I was on my way. Not writing it but preparing to write it, which is not my usual process. The pantser inside me would normally hop directly to page one and get busy, but not this time. I had an opportunity to plot and develop my cast of characters, to fill up however many days I’d have to wait for my career-in-a-box to be in working condition again.

The nights were hard as my imaginative brain kept churning out horrible outcomes and expensive repairs, thinking of all the “what ifs” writers are conditioned to think. What if someone dropped my computer and it exploded into a thousand pieces? What if the tech working on my machine spilled his coffee all over the inside while he was working on it? What if the shop burned down? What’s the worst that could happen? I practically what-iffed myself into a nervous breakdown.

Seven days after I dropped off my poor old Mac at the computer hospital I got the call that it was ready to pick up. It had passed all their tests, but some internal workings within the drive were mysteriously preventing the system to load. All the data was still there and they were able to manually load it onto a new drive. I had them install a second drive inside the tower that houses the main drive so it could back itself up an hourly basis. That gives me a little peace of mind knowing my data is protected, but I can still imagine possibilities for disaster. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. Damn it.

In the end I survived. My computer survived. My work survived. What lesson did I learn? That if I’m not careful I can worry myself into an early grave? That there’s no such thing as idle time? That I have to make every moment count? Yep. All of the above.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen DuvallKaren Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013. Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

http://www.karenduvallauthor.com

Talk to the Paw – Neglected Pets

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday. It’s hard to believe it’s already 2014. December blew threw our house like a blustery wind on speed. We don’t do much in regard to celebrating, or decorating, mainly because our fur-kids would be hell on tinsel, ornaments, trees and artificial snow. Our dog Kinsey prefers real snow, but since she enjoys gutting the fluffy stuffing out of her toys, I’m afraid that’s what she’d do to the white cotton batting I usually use to emulate snow. Therefore, no Christmas village. No tree. Not for the last 5 years.

But my husband and I do indulge in gift-giving. We got each other a nice big shiny elliptical machine to help burn off all the extra holiday calories.

Our pets weren’t exactly thrilled with our new toy. Especially Kinsey.

 

Kinsey

Kinsey

 

Sammy

Sammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sammy: Dude! Stop pacing.

Kinsey: I hate that thing.

Sammy: I hated it, too, at first because of the squeaky wheels, but I got used to it.

Kinsey: I don’t care about the squeaking.

Sammy: Then what’s your problem?

Kinsey: Barks and snaps at the metal arms moving the elliptical pedals up and down and back and forth.

Sammy: Yawns. You really think you’ll stop it that way?

Kinsey: This is just one more thing that takes Mom’s and Dad’s attention away from ME!

Sammy: You need to accept the fact you’re not the center of the universe.

Kinsey: Stops pacing to stare at Sammy as if she just grew a third eye from the middle of her forehead.

Sammy: Does that surprise you?

Kinsey: Are you saying that machine is the center of the universe?

Sammy: Laughs. Of course not. Everyone knows I am.

Kinsey: You wish.

Sammy: Actually, I do.

Kinsey: It’s enough that I have to compete for attention with you three cats, but I also have to share Mom with her writing and Dad with his guitar.

Sammy: That’s not exactly true.

Kinsey: What do you mean?

Sammy: We’re great helpers. Mom couldn’t write without us.

Kinsey: Well, I guess you’re right about that. She’d be lost without our company.

Sammy: And our ideas. You know she picks up on our thoughts.

Kinsey: I suppose she does.

Sammy: Think of us as collaborators.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

Talk to the Paw: Teamwork

by Karen Duvall

The holidays are upon us and most people decorate their homes for Christmas. I used to when my kids still lived with us, but not anymore. Want to know why? It may come as no surprise that my four rambunctious pets would annihilate any attempt at having a Christmas tree. I don’t even want to think of how my house would look once they got their furry little paws on it. Nope, all of my holiday stuff is boxed up and collecting dust in our attic. That’s where it will stay indefinitely.

Speaking of destruction, that’s my fur-kids favorite pastime. Entertainment for the four-footed. And they don’t do it alone. They act in teams.

Last week, you witnessed Teddy and Kinsey teaming up to get Sammy off the bed so they could have it all to themselves. It’s usually Cody and Sammy who join forces, and their goal is often to get the dog involved in order for their dastardly plan to be the most effective.

(Please forgive the lack of photos, but Photobucket.com isn’t working at the moment, it keeps erroring out. I’ll try to add photos later when, and if, the site gets its act together.)

Sammy: Pushes something across the kitchen counter with her paw. I almost got it.

Cody: What’s taking so long?

Sammy: It’s heavy.

Cody: That’s because it’s made of silver. Don’t you just love Dad’s silver rings?

Sammy: Shiny. Gives the ring a final shove and it topples over the edge.

The ring bounces on the kitchen floor and rolls under the table.

Cody: Scampers to the ring and bats it with his paws. Wow, look how fast it rolls.

The ring disappears under the couch.

Sammy: Well. That was rather disappointing. What next?

Cody: Leaps up on the counter and sits next to Sammy. Look! A stack of envelopes.

Sammy: Oh, yeah. Dad just brought those in from the mailbox. Mom called them “bills.”

Cody: Oooh! Kinsey loves paper.

Sammy: She sure does. No need for a shredder in the house with her around.

Cody: Nods. Wanna do the honors?

Sammy: Shakes her head. Nah. It’s your turn.

Cody bats at the envelopes until they all fall on the floor.

The sound of clattering toenails echoes from the hall and Kinsey appears from around the corner.

Kinsey: Are those for me?

Sammy: Yep.

Kinsey grabs an envelope with her teeth and scurries into the living room so she can lay down and hold it between her paws while ripping it to shreds.

Cody: Hmm. What else is up here that would look better on the floor?

Sammy: Eyes the bag of frozen bread left out on the counter to thaw. That smells like food.

Cody: Steps over to the bag and gives it a sniff. Twitches his whiskers. Yuck.

Sammy: I bet Kinsey will eat it. She’s like a goat. She’ll eat anything.

Cody: I’m gonna need your help.

Sammy: Sure. Walks over to join Cody in batting the bag of bread to the edge of the counter.

Cody: Just one more little push. Nudges the bag until it falls to the floor.

Kinsey comes running in from the living room with strips of soggy paper hanging from her mouth.

Kinsey: Yum! Chomps into the bread.

Sammy: Our work here is done.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

http://www.karenduvallauthor.com/
https://twitter.com/KarenDuvall
http://www.facebook.com/Karen.Duvall.Author

Talk to the Paw: Moody Pets

by Karen Duvall

Have you ever noticed how your pets pick up on your moods? If you’re feeling down, your beloved dog or cat instinctually knows you need a cuddle. Or if you’re cranky, they may become subdued and avoid contact altogether. I’m a generally calm person and rarely get cranky (or if I do it’s because of something they did).

When my pets get moody it’s usually triggered by… Your guess is as good as mine. Who knows why they get worked up? But they have their ways, and they can carry on entire conversations with each other using just their body language and facial expressions. It’s open to interpretation, which I’m always happy to do.

Kinsey, my dog, is typically very happy. Always high energy, always sassy, always wagging her tail, and always bugging the cats. At least that’s how she is during the day. With her energy levels on extreme overdrive, she’s bound to crash at some point and when she does, it’s best to stay out of her way. She doesn’t act like the same dog when she’s sleepy and she wants nothing to do with anyone, including me. She’s quick to snap and I don’t think she’s even conscious she’s doing it. Kinsey is hyper alert when she’s tired.

Threesome

Teddy, Cody & Sammy

Kinsey: Asleep on the bed and snoring loudly.

Sammy (my little tuxedo cat) whispers: Just jump up on the other side of the bed. She won’t even know you’re there.

Cody (my black & white scaredy-cat): Not gonna do it. No how, no way.

Teddy (my 34-pound Tom cat): Come on, it’s no big deal. Leaps up on the bed a few feet from Kinsey, who lifts her head and gives him the stink-eye but is too sleepy to do anything else.

Kinsey

Cody: That’s easy for you to say, Ted. You’re almost as big as Kinsey is. She doesn’t intimidate you.

Sammy: Ah, come on, Cody. We need to stick together for body heat. It’s below zero outside.

Cody: Teeth chattering. I’m plenty warm enough, thank you.

Sammy: Your gums are blue.

Cody: Backs up toward the bedroom door and shakes his head. No.

Sammy: Fine. Go ahead and freeze your nuts off. See if I care.

Cody: I don’t have any nuts.

Sammy: Pauses. Oh, yeah. I forgot.

Cody: It’s your funeral. Turns around and trots down the hall.

Sammy: Sighs. Coward. Hey, Ted, cover me. I’m coming up there.

Teddy: Yawns. What do you expect me to do?

Sammy: Give Kinsey a good smack on the nose if she goes after me.

Teddy: Hesitates and starts grooming himself. Sure thing.

Sammy: Narrows her eyes. I don’t trust you.

Teddy: Stretches and lays on his side, yawning again. Why not?

Sammy: You don’t exactly look ready to defend me.

Teddy: Not my problem.

Sammy: You’re so lazy.

Teddy: Yeah? Tell me something I don’t know.

Sammy: Crouches and prepares to spring. Here goes.

Sammy leaps onto the bed. Kinsey lurches up and barks then snaps at Sammy, barely missing her tail. Sammy hisses and smacks Kinsey hard on the nose once, twice, three times. Kinsey blinks, grunts, then lays back down on the bed.

Sammy: Breathing hard. Damn, I hate it when she does that.

Teddy: Yawns.

Sammy: Okay, move over, fat-boy. I need some body heat. Curls up next to Teddy.

Teddy: Bites Sammy’s ear.

Sammy: Hisses. Hey!

Teddy glares and Sammy hisses again, then jumps off the bed and runs out of the room.

Teddy: Looks like we have the whole bed all to ourselves.

Kinsey: Stretches and yawns. I thought she’d never leave.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

 

http://www.karenduvallauthor.com/
https://twitter.com/KarenDuvall
http://www.facebook.com/Karen.Duvall.Author

Talk to the Paw: Weapons of Destruction

by Karen Duvall

Having pets has its advantages and disadvantages. Young pets are like babies. They explore, get into mischief, teethe… Yeah. Well, sometimes they don’t grow out of their childhood habits.

I have a full grown cat and a full grown dog who still act like a kitten and a puppy respectively. Days go by without a mishap, and then BOOM, it’s massive destruction. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, erupting volcanoes… okay, so I’m exaggerating. I’m a writer and I can’t help it. But these two are like furry natural disasters waiting to happen.

The Criminal

The Weapon

The Victim

Sammy (my cat): You are in soooo much trouble.

Kinsey (my dog): Hangs head in shame

Sammy: I can’t believe how mad Dad got. He was speechless. That’s never happened before.

Kinsey: I wagged my tail to show him I was sorry.

Sammy: You and your stupid ball. You just had to knock over one of Dad’s most beloved cactuses, didn’t you? You know how much he treasures those plants.

Kinsey: I didn’t mean it. It was an accident.

Sammy: Shakes head and looks disappointed.

Kinsey: Hey, don’t act all innocent. You’ve knocked over your fair share of plants yourself.

Sammy: But I’m much, much, much smaller than you. I don’t do half the damage.

Kinsey: Oh yeah? Not only do you constantly knock plants over, I’ve seen you use the pots as a litterbox.

Sammy: Looks left and right. Shhh. No one was supposed to see that.

Kinsey: Well, I saw. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Sammy: Lifts her nose in the air. Not my fault. It was instinct.

Kinsey: Mom is still trying to vaccum all the dirt out of the carpet.

Sammy: I didn’t mean to cause trouble. You know I hate sharing a litterbox with my brothers. I simply won’t do it.

Kinsey: Yet you have the nerve to shame me for making a mistake?

Sammy: Mutters. Sorry.

Kinsey: What was that? I couldn’t hear you. I think I have dirt in my ear.

Sammy: Hisses. I said I’m sorry!

Kinsey: Whips ears back and forth. Okay, okay. I believe you.

Awkward silence.

Kinsey: Well, I’m sorry too.

Sammy: What can we do to make it up to Mom and Dad?

Kinsey: Looks thoughtful. Look cute?

Sammy: Nods. Works for me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Karen Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her K

night’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

http://www.karenduvallauthor.com/
https://twitter.com/KarenDuvall
http://www.facebook.com/Karen.Duvall.Author