This week marks the release of the fifth installment in our OF CATS AND DRAGONS series. Carol and I are thrilled that the stories are finding their audience and really resonating with fantasy and cat fans.
We even hit #1 on Amazon for several days in a row before, during, and after the release:
My great concern was that once this book was finished, we’d hit some sort of creative malaise. The journey hasn’t been terribly clear since we put out book one in August of 2017. Those who follow this blog know why, of course. While we still had a bit of rewriting and editing to complete, all five books (and the one novella) had been written before we released NIGHT’S GIFT.
We have a lot of plans, but now we’re in new territory. Scary stuff. Potentially paralyzing stuff.
I realize how fragile I am, as a creative. I know I have to be very careful not to give into fears and mental blocks. But practically, what can I do to stop sabotage that is mostly subconscious?
My answer — the answer that works for me — is “small bites.” Do a little something every day. But go back every day.
And so, I struggled to write a new short story that follows the main event in AUTUMN KING. Carol and I had batted the idea around for about a year, but the story just didn’t want to fully form. I finally sat down to write it at the beginning of October, and it was hard.
I’d spend a day writing one paragraph, some days only one sentence. But I went back every single day. I didn’t allow myself to be frustrated. I just put my head down and focused on the love I have for the characters and how much I want to share their adventures.
And one day, the first draft was done. Then Carol and I pitched it back and forth a bit, making changes, discussing tweaks, rewriting, editing, bringing it to life.
And where there’d been nothing, suddenly there was something.
Did it take longer than I expected?
Does that matter in the long run?
The only thing that counts is that we just completed another story.
The only thing that counts is that we keep going.
Carol, for her part, has been working hard both on her writing and on her artwork. Besides the beautiful new cover she did for SUMMER’S FALL (more of that in a future blog), she’s added to the OF CATS AND DRAGONS blog with some fun insights about the characters, about her research, and about her artwork.
I’ve been so inspired by her blogging, that I want to share her thoughts with you.
Hope you enjoy this little treatise on:
by Carol E. Leever
A lot of decisions go into writing a book, and one of the things Camilla and I had to decide on was the diet of the Tormy Cats. (Incidentally — the cats actually have a name that they call themselves which will no doubt show up in a future book, but Camilla and I have always affectionately called them the Tormy Cats.)
I have been owned by 7 cats in my life. My first, a beautiful Siamese, lived 17 years. After she died I didn’t get another cat until Camilla and I became college roommates; between the two of us we ended up with 5 cats — one of which was the original Tormy. Yes, he was a real cat, and utterly unique. He was a beautiful orange and white Maine Coon, who would serenade us every night with soft little happy trills after he’d eaten his dinner. We were so heartbroken when he died unexpectedly that I put him into our D&D games so that he would live on in our imaginations.
My current cat, a little quirky Tabby, had a terrible food allergy when she was a kitten. I tried every type of food on the market, including some ridiculously expensive types that just seem to make things worse. I had come across research into the ‘raw food diet’ on the internet and in desperation finally decided to try that.
The theory is that cats, if they lived in the wild, would only eat meat (and the occasional grain that might be found in the stomach of a mouse). Cats are carnivores after all. The raw food diet consists of ground meat and bone (uncooked!) supplemented with some vitamins and enzymes such as Taurine and B-complex. You can find the formula on the internet.
The new diet cured all my cat’s problems literally within 12 hours. She was horribly sick one moment (and had been for the first year and a half of her life) and then instantly cured with the new diet. I pretty much resolved right there that all future meals would consist of the raw food diet.
Which brings us to the Tormy Cats. Cats are carnivores; they eat meat. They LOVE eating meat. And I don’t want anyone to base their cat’s diet on what the Tormy Cats eat in our books. The original Tormy (our beautiful Maine Coon) also loved peas, corn, cantaloupe, and blueberry muffins. We also had a cat who loved pancakes — to the point that whenever we made pancakes we had to make an extra one for her. But just because they will eat carbohydrates, does not mean they are good for the cats or natural for them to eat.
Regardless of all this, I made a definitive choice to make the Tormy Cats omnivores. And I did it for a very specific reason. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the reasons we human beings are so smart (lol!) is because we started eating carbohydrates — that in fact an all meat diet would not provide the caloric intake necessary to produce the larger brains we possess. I reasoned that since the Tormy Cats are obviously far more intelligent than their domestic counterparts, they too would likely need a different diet.
So yes, Tormy eats pie, and donuts, and custard, and moffles (mouse-waffles). But like all cats he, and Tyrin, and the others (yes, there are a BUNCH of other cats out there) LOVE meat, particularly fish. Tormy’s favorite however is prime rib. These cats would be a nightmare on the pocketbook.
So please, keep feeding your own cats proper diets (research the raw food diet and see if it’s something you’re interested in). But know that donuts are perfectly permissible for Tormy and all his brethren.
To see a picture of the “real” Tormy, check out our OF CATS AND DRAGONS blog.