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Friday, October 19, 2018

Day 146: Scam Targeting Writers

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 146: Scam Targeting Writers

There’s a long list of things that tick me off and somewhere on that list, you would find … scammers, especially scammers who target writers.

One such scammer is Amy E. who one fine day decided to start flooding my inbox with messages such as: do you want to be a writer? Do you want to sell more books? Do you want to be a bestselling author?

I knew right away that I was dealing with a scammer as nobody can make you a bestselling author. To become a bestselling author, you have to write something, a literary agent has to accept it, a talented editor has to make the work better, a publisher has to publish it and a marketing team has to bring it to the attention of readers.

Now if Amy E. were a bestselling author or even an author for that matter, her offer of advice would carry some weight, but she’s a nobody.

If I were to get a chance to address Amy E. I would say … Do you know what Ernest Hemingway, James Patterson, and J.K. Rowling had in common? Each of them had an idea, sat down, opened a book, took a pen and started writing. 

At the time, Hemingway had no idea he would become one of the most respected authors of our time; Patterson didn’t have a clue that he would be listed in the Guinness World Record book with the most New York Times bestsellers; while Rowling would have been baffled if she had known that little Harry Potter would make her one of the richest people in England.

If those people were to offer advice to writers I would be the first to take a front-row seat, but Amy E. … who is Amy E. and why would I take writing advice from someone who isn’t published, who isn’t even a writer?

Her advice to writers to get their work noticed is:

·          Join local writer groups
·          Online critique groups
·          Facebook groups
·          RWA (if you’re a romance author)
·          Bloggers;
·          Websites dedicated to authors and their crafts.

Is this the best she can come up with? I typed in Google “How to get my writing noticed” and within seconds I received 209,000,000 results. My guess is that Amy did the same. She prowled Google, gathered information on how to write and get writing work noticed and then passes it off as her own advice. Shame on you Amy, while this is not exactly plagiarism, it’s highly unethical, especially if you’re charging for this advice.

For those who already have written something, Amy offers a review of their work. For a standard review, she charges $250, for a rush review $325. I have news for Amy … most writers are broke and can ill afford $25 for a review, let alone $250. Besides, have a look on Amazon, there are tons of reviews there all written by readers FOR FREE.

Some people just have no scruples. They’re looking for a way to make money and any means will do. A few might fall for her scam and end up disappointed, others – especially those who have been around the block a few times – will shake their head and think ‘Nice one Amy, but try again’, which no doubt she will. After all, if one scam doesn’t work, try another.

As for me, one good thing came out of Amy’s worthless babble … it got me out of my slump. Ever since Gabriel’s passing I hadn’t written one word. As you can see I’m out of that slump.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Day 145: Goodbye to Gabriel

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 145: Goodbye to Gabriel

Eleven years ago I joined a cat forum, not knowing that this forum was specifically for people with Ragdolls. I didn’t have a Ragdoll at the time, but the administrator let me stay anyway.

I quickly fell in love with this breed of cats. What was not to love, judging by the photos and stories they were beautiful, affectionate and smart.

Judging by the price of such a cat, I knew I would probably never own a Ragdoll, it just wasn’t in my budget. I preferred rescue animals over purebreds anyway. For the price of one purebred cat, I could help several abandoned ones.

Still, when I heard about a breeder who wanted to get rid of a Ragdoll kitten because it wasn’t perfect, I jumped at the chance. He was willing to let the kitten go at a fraction of the price. To this day I don’t know what was wrong with the kitten because it sure looked perfect to me. Right away we knew what we would call the little one … Gabriel, because he was a little angel.

When I first held Gabriel in my hands, I was surprised at how soft he was. From the forum, I knew how beautiful Ragdolls were, but nobody had told me how soft they were. His fur felt like that of a rabbit.

As soon as I brought Gabriel home, Mickey (one of the resident cats) adopted him. The two would eat, play and sleep together and were generally inseparable. When Mickey wasn’t around, Gabriel would substitute him with his cuddle buddy.

The years passed and Gabriel grew up. He might have looked angelic, but he could also be a little troublemaker. His toy was his and he was never one to share.

He had a fondness for toilet paper and frequently made a  mess in the bathroom.

Most of all, he liked the feel of moving the rugs. She would come running, jump on the rug and glide several feet further. He became known as 'the carpet surfer'.

He became the alpha of our household and those who dared to cross him were on the receiving side of a stare that spoke volumes. He ruled the roost.


Other than that, Gabriel’s life can be summed up with the slogan … live and let live. He was an easy going cat, who spent most of his time on his back. He liked sleeping in front of the fireplace, the cat tree, a cabinet, a chair, the windowsill, out on the balcony, or his favorite spot, on top of the wall unit in his basket. 

Wherever, whenever, Gabriel was an expert in relaxing and putting his feet up.

What he didn't like was having his picture taken. When he saw me coming with a camera, he got suspicious and turn his head. 

Last night things suddenly went wrong for him. He came into the living room crying and trying to vomit. Thinking that something was stuck in his throat we rushed him to the emergency clinic. As it turned out, his throat was clear but the vet said that he wasn’t doing well. Gabriel had heart failure and fluid was building up in his chest making it hard for him to breathe. His urge to vomit was because he was stressed. 

To make him comfortable he was given oxygen, but now we had to decide what to do. With the right medication, he could live a few more months, but all things considered, he would suffer. The vet said she would give us time to think it over.

I didn’t have to think it over. I knew the time had come to let Gabriel go. Even though Gabriel was only 10 years old, having an animal suffer is unacceptable. So he was brought to us, we said our goodbyes and he peacefully crossed over to Rainbow Bridge.

There are so many things we will miss about him. Dieter will miss him too as every night, without fail, Gabriel would jump in the chair next to him and demand to be petted. He would look at Dieter and let out a loud meow. BTW Gabriel never said meow as such, his meow sounded like “mayo”. 

Merely petting him was not enough, he wanted his head and specifically, his cheeks rubbed. If Dieter stopped too soon, Gabriel would meow again to tell him “Keep going” until he had enough.

Then he would retreat to his spot on the cat tree or jump via the cat tree onto the wall unit and lay in his basket. Gabriel would never curl up as such, he would rest or sleep on his back.

When the lights were turned off and I went to bed, he would come with me. Every night he would sleep on my bed. Last night he wasn’t there and this morning I missed his cry for breakfast.

While we are sad at the loss of Gabriel I have no doubt that he is in a wonderful place, reunited with Mickey and a variety of other cats. Rest in peace Gabriel. 

I would like to thank everyone who commented on Gabriel's passing via email or Facebook. Your words were of comfort and I appreciate your support.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Day 144: Revenge of the kitties


My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 144: Revenge of the kitties

As some of you may know, I have a bad back. To relieve some of the pain, my son bought me a Dr. Scholl’s back massager a few years ago. Most of the time, the massager lives in a draw in a cabinet, but on occasion when my back is particularly bad the massager is placed on a seat on the sofa.

Yesterday was such an occasion. I don’t know what I did, but over the weekend I injured my already painful back and I was in a terrible state. While the Dr. Scholl’s back massager can’t perform miracles, its vibrations are rather soothing. It has a low, medium or high setting, as well as a heat or no heat option.

As you can imagine, this massager was of interest to the cats. Charlotte, Gabriel and Holly have seen the massager before, but for Halley and Greyson this was something new. They approached and sniffed, their head bobbing left and right and up and down. What was this thing? What did it do? Was it alive? Could it hurt them?

Eager to satisfy Halley’s curiosity, Dieter picked her up and brought her closer to the massager. She immediately started squirming in his arms. She wanted nothing to do with this thing.

Alright, he wasn’t going to force her and instead picked up little Greyson. Young and trusting as he is, he didn’t fight daddy and allowed him to be placed on the seat of the massager. Under the watchful eye of Halley, Greyson sat on it, walked around on it, sniffed and seemed to approve.

When he seemed at easy with the massager, Dieter switched it on. Maybe Greyson would appreciate the soft vibrations. Well, that was a mistake. He leaped off the seat, landed on the carpet and turned around in disgust … what the hell was that?

Up next, Holly. Dieter had only just picked her up and carried her to the seat when she already started fighting me. NOOOOOOOOO!!! She was having none of it.

The same with Gabriel. With him too it was a case of … Let me go, let me go, LET … ME … GO!!!

After these negative reactions, he wasn’t even going to try with Charlotte. Charlotte is a nervous cat by nature, afraid of anything and everything, including her own shadow. He wasn’t going to risk her having a heart attack so he didn’t bother reintroducing her to the massager.

But Charlotte surprised him. She jumped in the sofa, walked over to the massager and sat on it. Did he dare switch it on? Why not. As soon as the massager purred at the lowest setting, she looked down and started pawing at the seat, obviously not understanding what was going on underneath her feet. Having investigated and approving of the vibrations, Charlotte did the unthinkable … she lay down and snuggled up again the backrest of the massager. It would seem that Charlotte’s old bones and muscles could do with some soothing too.

Later on that night it was time for Halley and Greyson to take revenge on Dieter. At bedtime, he called them to come in from the balcony. As expected they didn’t listen. They sat on the ledge, looking at the moon and the stars, the people down on the parking lot and the passing trains.

If the mountain wouldn’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed would go to the mountain. Dieter picked up Halley and carried her inside. Then he went back to retrieve Greyson. However things didn’t go according to plan. As soon as Dieter deposited Greyson inside, Halley jumped back outside, and once he had her inside, Greyson slipped outside. While he went for Greyson, Halley practiced a case of evasive maneuvering and before Dieter could grab her out she was again, followed at her furry heels by Greyson. Dieter was back to square one. Eventually he got them both inside and they sat looking at him with a smug look on their faces. This clearly had been fun for them and a regular case of cat juggling.

They seemed to think … you messed with us (Dr. Scholls massage seat) now we messed with you.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Day 143: Greyson Needs a GPS System

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 143: Greyson Needs a GPS System

When we adopted Greyson as a kitten from a Toronto Cat Rescue foster mother, she was kind enough to provide us with his favorite food, his favorite blanket, and some toys. However, Greyson needed more than that.

As it turns out, this kitten is in desperate need of a helmet, knee pads, brake pads, an alarm clock, and bell. Anyone who has or ever had a kitten will immediately know what I’m getting at. For those who don’t catch on quick, allow me to explain …

A Helmet

Every cat lover knows that kittens are lively creatures. They run around, at full speed, oblivious to any consequences. In Greyson’s case, he frequently narrowly misses a wall, cabinet, chair, or another hard surface. We cringe when we see him running, often yelling “Greyson, look out!” or “Slow down!” He hasn’t smashed into anything yet, but at the rate he’s going, he’s an accident waiting for a place to happen.

Knee pads

Along with running, Greyson does a fair amount of jumping. Especially when going outside. Technically our living room has floor to ceiling windows, but that’s not quite true. The windows don’t reach the floor, but rather a five-inch step. To go outside we have to step over that low obstacle. For us, that’s no problem as we’re used to that raised step, but for Greyson – being a tiny kitten – it’s a hurdle he has to overcome every time he wants to go outside.
Greyson, being the racer that he is, he doesn’t step over the hurdle one paw at a time but takes a flying leap to get over it. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. When he miscalculates his jump, we hear his knees making contact with the step.


Now that you know that Greyson doesn’t just run but races, the reason why he needs brake pads should be obvious. When he’s in hot pursued of Halley, or Halley chases him, Greyson throws caution to the wind. As fast as his little legs will carry him, he runs from the balcony, via the kitchen and living room to the bedrooms and back again. During this sprint, he has to take a few corners and that’s where things go wrong. The fur on the bottom of his feet causes him to slip and slide, resulting in him losing his footing and ending up on his side or worse, taking a tumble.

Alarm clock

In case you’re wondering why a kitten needs an alarm clock, let me explain. When I go to work, I get up at 6:00 a.m., on the days that I’m not working I sleep in until between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. Greyson, who doesn’t know the difference between my working days and my non-working days seems to think that if I sleep later than 6:00 a.m. I’m gonna be late for work and so he’s made it his job to wake me up.
Shortly after 6:00 he starts giving me kisses and like I mentioned in a previous post, his kisses are not to be underestimated.

Combine that with his loud purring and within minutes I’m wide awake. Something I do not appreciate.


Last but not least, Greyson needs a bell around his neck or paws. Every night, before I go to sleep, I check that all the cats are okay and last night I couldn’t find Greyson. I checked all the rooms twice and there was no sign of him. Getting more worried by the minute I looked in all the obvious and not so obvious places, even checked the balcony … nada. Now it’s not so difficult to find Halley, as she’s a white cat, but Greyson is a black/grey tabby … try finding that in the dark!

Getting desperate, I crouched down to look under the lounge chairs when suddenly I felt something tickling my cheek … whiskers. When I looked it was Greyson sitting next to me, crouched down too. He little face seemed to say … what are we looking for?
“Where did you come from?” I asked him. “I looked all over for you.”

See that’s where a bell would come in handy. Or even better, a GPS system. 

If you like the blog posts, try one of the books

Monday, September 17, 2018

Day 142: Management decided to turn off the A/C

My Project: 365 Creative Writing Prompts

Day 142: Management decided to turn off the A/C

Even though the summer of 2018 will go down in history as the hottest year around the world, with heatwave after heatwave, the management of our condo building has seen fit to switch off the air-conditioning.

Never mind that yesterday’s temperature reached 32 degrees C (89.6 degrees F) and people are just about fainting in their units, according to some stupid bylaw the heat must be switched on by September 15th and that is the rule the manager of this building followed.

Technically, our building doesn’t have to follow that rule, because it is a condo building, not an apartment building and as such the government doesn’t have any say over us, but because the building holds approximately 10 rentals the bylaw gets enforced.

I’ve lived in this building for the past 18 years and this is the first time this rule has actually been enforced. Other years the building manager used common sense. If the temperature is still in the high 20s he waited with switching off the air-conditioning, after all, who needs heat when it’s still so hot.

However, this year we have a new building manager, a woman, and she goes by the book. When a notice was posted in the elevators that the air-conditioning would be switched off the next day, residents descended on the management office to complain about this decision. Some asked, some pleaded, some begged for the air-conditioning to stay on, but the manager could not be swayed. She said that some people might be cold and might need heat.

Some people might need heat!!! ... When it’s boiling hot outside!!! ... who are these people?

At first the lack of cool air was not such a problem, as the temperature remained below 25 degrees C (77 degrees F), but as from Thursday the temperature climbed and climbed, reaching 32 degrees yesterday. To say that it was uncomfortable inside would be an understatement. It went from warm, to hot, to stifling. Nobody had any energy and tempers flared.

If you live in a house, don’t think for a moment that this a the same as living in a condo. There’s a big difference between living in a brick and mortar house and a south facing, glass fronted condo on the 11th floor.

To bring some relief we have two fans going, but that only cools to air to a certain extent.  And if the days are difficult, the nights are even worse. Who can sleep in this heat?

Charlotte, Gabriel, Holly and Halley suffered too. In a way it’s worse for them then for us. While we could position ourselves in front of a fan or take a cold shower, the cats were laying flat on the hardwood floor, under the bed, or sought relief from the heat in the relatively cool walk in closet. After a while they figured out that though that the fan was nothing to be afraid of and sat in places where the wind of the fan lifted their fur.

Greyson was the only one who wasn’t bothered by the heat. For him it was business as usual. He ran around and played, but for once he couldn’t find anyone to play with. The others clearly were not in the mood.

Today it’s a little cooler than yesterday, and tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday will be cooler still, but on Friday temperatures are going up again. Well, technically it’s still summer until September 21st. Only the manager of our building seems to think it’s already fall.