Do I Smell A New Year?

I originally thought I might start off 2018 with a look at last year’s highlights, and maybe throw in a few New Year’s resolutions just to round things out.  But I don’t bother with resolutions, and even if I did they’d be pretty much the same as everybody else’s:  “Stop pigging out on Christmas goodies”; “Find new hiding places for the dead bodies of errant contractors”… y’know, the usual.  And the top stories of 2017 were mostly depressing.

So instead of reviewing the questionable activities of our current world leaders, I’d rather look at what it might be like if we were governed by the benevolent despots we all know and love:  our pets.

If cats ruled the world… we’d be slaves:

  • Naps are mandatory, with a minimum total naptime of 12 hours per day. Disturbing a napping cat is an offense punishable by a life sentence on litter-box duty with no chance of parole.
  • Vegetables and condiments are banned. All meals shall consist of meat and dairy only, with an occasional live mouse just to keep things interesting.
  • All homes must have at least one window that admits direct sunlight; and a soft piece of furniture must be kept in the sunbeam for the sole use of the cat.
  • Humans must take shifts creating a lap for the cat and providing petting services. (Unless the cat decides, in its sole discretion and without prior warning, that it doesn’t want to be petted anymore.  Petting an unwilling cat is an offense punishable on the spot by flaying with claws.)
  • Fur is never to be removed from the cat’s favourite sleeping place. It should be allowed to build up year after year into a felted nest the exact size and shape of the cat.
  • Litter boxes must be cleaned within ten seconds of use.
  • Humans should be spayed or neutered. Not because there’s any health benefit to the humans; just for revenge.
  • Everything is a scratching post.

If dogs ruled the world… we’d be pets:

  • Butt or crotch sniffing is the only acceptable method of greeting. Humans spread too many diseases with handshakes.
  • To ensure optimum health, humans should be taken for long walks at least three times a day.
  • Human walkers must stop frequently to observe their surroundings. This will be strictly enforced by their canine supervisors.
  • Furniture is for the sole use of the dog. Humans are allowed on the furniture only if they provide belly rubs.
  • Stinky substances must be rolled in with abandon. If humans don’t like the smell, they can sleep in the shed.
  • Humans are not allowed to go anywhere unless accompanied by the dog.
  • All meals for dogs shall be at least 50% larger than necessary. It is perfectly acceptable to eat one’s own vomit; and if humans don’t like it they can just look the other way.
  • Everything is a chew toy.

Our household is currently despot pet-free but I’m considering adopting human versions of at least some of their laws; particularly the ones regarding naps, sunbeams, and walks.  Those are New Year’s resolutions I can get behind.

But speaking of behind… I think I’ll skip the butt sniffing.  That might be a teensy bit awkward on pub nights.

Happy New Year, everyone – wishing you all the best in 2018!

A Scholarly Treatise On The Care And Feeding Of Your Pet Author

Authors can be lovable and agreeable family pets.  Most are easily housebroken, though some may exhibit a disturbing tendency to piddle while absorbed in a particularly difficult bit of plotting or worldbuilding.  This is not a sign of aggression.  It is simply inattentiveness on the part of your author.  Gently but firmly insist that they take regular potty breaks, or, if this proves ineffective, place an adult diaper on the chair before they sit.  The author is unlikely to notice or object.

Authors are territorial by nature.  It is important to nip this behaviour in the bud.  Your author must learn that he or she is part of the household, and as such, must share the domain with the rest of the family.  However, your author will be happier and more relaxed if you allow him or her to have a “safe zone”.  If possible, provide your author with a small desk, and refrain from disturbing the area unless absolutely necessary.

Your author may begin to show possessiveness toward other areas of the house, usually by leaving behind droppings such as laptops, pens, papers, and so on.  If this happens, immediately remove the droppings, clean the area thoroughly, and relocate the droppings to the author’s safe zone.  Your author will soon learn that leaving droppings outside their own territory is unacceptable behaviour.

As with any pet, it is important for you to be vigilant about your author’s diet.  Authors will gobble almost any food they encounter in an effort to return to their safe zone and resume their natural writing behaviour as quickly as possible.  Be strict.  Your author’s health depends on it.  Although an unhealthy diet may seem harmless when your author is young, you will ultimately pay the price in medical bills as your author ages.

Regular exercise is important, too, but sadly, most authors resist almost any form of fresh air or exercise.  Some authors may be enticed to exercise if offered rewards such as the opportunity to work out with attractive and scantily-clad members of the opposite sex, however, this is by no means a sure-fire method.

Some owners report that they have successfully induced their authors to exercise by running away with the liquor bottle, forcing the author to chase them in order to retrieve it, but this strategy may ultimately result in hostile or aggressive behaviour on the part of your author.  This is an area in which you must apply your own creativity to find the best solution.

Many laypersons consider authors to be nocturnal creatures, but in fact, authors are capable of wakefulness at any hour of the day or night.  If the clicking of the keyboard disturbs your sleep at night, or if your author sleeps through important daytime events, it is possible to gradually adjust your author’s sleep rhythm to one that is more compatible with your household.

Begin by determining your author’s favourite treats.  These may include food, alcohol, or sexual favours, but be cautious in your use of the latter.  Nobody likes an overly-affectionate author, and many authors are incapable of the level of judgement required to discern appropriate public behaviour.

Regardless of the type of treat you choose, you must begin the conditioning process up to one-half hour before you want your author to retire for the night.  Gently direct your author’s attention to the treat (remember, it may be dangerous to startle an author who is deeply involved in writing behaviour).

Once you have engaged your author’s attention, lure him or her into the bedroom with the treat.  Then allow your author to enjoy the treat.  If your author tries to leave the bedroom afterward, offer subsequent treats until the author loses consciousness or falls asleep.  Repeat every night for at least twenty-one days, or until the new habit is established.  Note:  This method is only successful if you withhold the treat at all other times.

The keys to the entire training process are patience, firmness, and consistency.  Though keeping an author may seem an arduous chore at first blush, your efforts will ultimately be rewarded with long years of loyalty and affection, dedications in obscure books, and occasionally, royalties.

News:  I’m so excited!  I’ve got the cover art for my first four books, and the planned release date for the Kindle version of NEVER SAY SPY is October 15 (hopefully all versions will be released that day, but will know more soon).  Covers and book blurbs are here.