Friday, January 27, 2012 17 comments

#FridayFlash: Far From Home

This is both my #FridayFlash and a teaser for my upcoming novella, Chasing a Rainbow. Like several of my longer stories, it started out as a flash that grew. Here’s a first shot at a blurb for the novella:

The warrior-wizard Chelinn and his friend Lodrán have visited many strange places. But when a curse goes awry, sending them to a place where wondrous yet mundane devices have taken the place of magic, nothing is familiar at first. Then, after stopping a robbery of a game store, they find themselves embroiled in a far more dangerous situation.

As hundreds of lives hang in the balance, two heroes and their new friends must use all their talents to foil an evil plot — and survive until they can catch a rainbow and return home.

This excerpt is very close to the original flash. It’s set in the same world(s) as my earlier #FridayFlash stories What Is Due and Off the Cub, and falls between them chronologically. Feel free to critique both the story and the blurb. (Please!)



Far From Home

Lodrán and Chelinn looked around them wild-eyed, assaulted by eldritch sights and sounds, trying to take it all in. A phantasmagoria of wild flashing colors competed with a cacophony of roaring, bleating, thumping noises. The scent of recent rain battled with a less pleasant smell, a hint of something burned.

After a long minute, Lodrán looked behind him then gripped his friend’s arm. “An alley!” Chelinn took one last look around, then nodded and allowed Lodrán to pull him away from the street.

After the incomprehensible overload of sight and sound, the alley was a familiar if odorous comfort. They ducked behind a large box of some sort, giving them cover and some relief from the strangeness without. The noises from the street followed them into the alley, but muffled enough to allow speech and thought. Unhealthy puddles of standing water, close walls looming above, even the smell of decay, all combined to provide a touchpoint of familiarity. “Some things can’t be changed, eh?” Lodrán grinned, looking around.

“Hm.” The big warrior-wizard rapped the green-painted box with a knuckle. “An alley is an alley. But details? Look. This box is made of iron.” He tapped a shiny spot near the top, where paint had flaked away. “See? Rust. And if my nose does not lie, it’s full of garbage.”

“What? That’s as much iron as we’d find in all of Anlayt or Roth’s Keep, and they… no.” Lodrán sized it up. “A box must have a lid. The way it slopes into the alley, I’d say that’s the front…” he seized the end of the lid and lifted. “Ha! Whew. You’re right — what kind of fools would dedicate such wealth to garbage?”

“The kind of fools for whom iron is near as abundant as water?”

“Impossible. Nowhere in all of Termag is… um.” Lodrán turned to look at his comrade, the question he dared not ask plain on his face.

“Yes. Wherever we are, we’re far from home.”

Lodrán peered around the side of the great metal box, shuddered, and crouched against the wall. “If I get a chance,” he panted, “I’ll kill that priest!”

“Too late.”

“What?”

“I’m sure you already killed him.” Chelinn looked as grim as Lodrán had ever seen. “You spitted him with your spear, right in the middle of his curse. Good thing — those Easterners do things differently, but if I’m right he meant to send our living bodies straight to Hell. Instead, you disrupted him and we’re — wherever we are.”

“I’m not convinced this isn’t Hell!” Lodrán chewed his long mustache, as he often did when nervous or thinking. Instinct led him to crouch in the shadow of the box. Black garb, black hair, tall and thin, Lodrán was a shadow among shadows. Even knowing he was there, Chelinn found him hard to see.

“Courage, man. Hell would not have left us armed —” he patted his sword hilt — “nor provided this quiet alley for our retreat. This is no more Hell than it is Termag. So let us gather our wits and look again at the world beyond this alley.”

After a minute, they retreated again to the shelter of the great iron garbage box. “What did you see?” Lodrán asked.

“Carriages of metal and glass, moving without oxen pulling them. People inside the carriages. Streets of solid stone. Lights flashing in patterns, and patterns have meaning. People walking around without weapons. And our alley. We’re in a city. And you?”

“Storefronts. People walking unconcerned among the carriages. No armed patrols. This place reeks of a long peacetime. And magic.”

“At peace with others, perhaps. But with itself? Hear that?” They paused to listen to a wailing, whooping, chittering cry, a sound they had never heard before. It grew for a moment, then faded. “I don’t need to know the language to know that’s a distress cry. And whatever made it was moving fast.”

“But… didn’t we hear it when we were looking around too?” Chelinn nodded, and Lodrán continued, “Nobody looked concerned then. If we were watching the street now, nobody would do more than look around. I’d put a handful of octagons on that.”

“And you’d be likely to win that bet, my friend. Let me take one more look, then we’ll decide what to do.” Chelinn slipped around their shelter before Lodrán could object.

Lodrán only had a few minutes to wait before his friend reappeared. “I know where we need to go. Come on.”

“Where to?”

“This way,” said Chelinn, reaching the sidewalk and pointing to his right. “What do you see up there?”

“More city. More chaos.”

“No… look up.”

“Hm. The rainbow?”

“Indeed. A rainbow is a bridge between worlds. If we can get to it before it fades, we can cross it and get home.”

“Then let’s catch it.” They started down the sidewalk to their long journey home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 1 comment

Writing Wibbles

Welcome to the chatter of a not-so-famous author (for now, heh heh)… Famous and other not-so-famous authors, and of course all readers, are welcome to share their own musings in the comments.

Some time in the last week, Tales from FAR Manor reached the 40,000 pageview mark. Actually, it reached that mark a while ago — stats only go back to May 2009 and the blog has been around for four years longer than that. I figure a lot of that traffic is spambots, judging from what lands in the moderation and spam filters.

Oh, speaking of pageviews: Three Sprites, One Silent has edged past Geek vs. Zombies as my most-viewed #FridayFlash story — the current count is 204 to 203 right now.

My Monday post about iBooks Author has done pretty well. It’s likely one of the most retweeted essays I’ve posted to date. If I wasn’t writing so much fiction, I’d try to turn out more essays like these. But there’s only 24 hours in a day, and I usually get less than one of them to spend writing.

So… maybe I’m not-so-famous now, but you never know, right? I’m sure if my stories get any serious traction, I’ll have people asking me things like “where do you get your ideas?” The answer is the question — or to make it easier to parse, the answer is “the question.” That’s how I handled the “one prompt, three genres” challenge: I looked at the picture and asked three questions:

  • what’s a stump doing in the water? (Three Sprites, One Silent)
  • what’s in that hollow? (Feast)
  • what was on that tree before it was cut and flooded? (Initials)

White Pickups was originally a piece of flash fiction. I asked, “what happens next?” and 150,000 words later… More recently, I got feedback from Craig W.F. Smith’s beta read on Chasing a Rainbow. One of his comments was, “opens it up for sequels.” I thought to myself, “what would happen next?” and I got the answer in a Download From God. I figure while I’m waiting to get unstuck on Pickups and Pestilence, I’ll see where this goes. I don’t have even a working title for it, but do think it’ll run about 12,000 words.

[UPDATE] Now that it’s Thursday, I can share some new news. I’ve joined the TuesdaySerial staff! There’s an interview with yours truly at the link. If you’re writing (or podcasting) serial fiction, be sure to leave a link in the collector on Tuesdays, midnight to midnight (Eastern US time).

Monday, January 23, 2012 4 comments

iBooks Author: the REAL Problem

APPLE WANTS TO
EAT YOUR COPYRIGHT!
There has been a lot of sensationalist “reporting,” breathlessly repeated on Twitter, about the licensing terms for Apple’s new iBooks Author app. I’m not going to reward blind panic with links, but I’m sure you can Google your way to something that would be “enlightenment” if there were any useful information to be gleaned from that link-bait. This fish ain’t bitin’.

The big problem is: there’s something that we, both authors and eReader owners, need to worry about and the link-bait articles aren’t telling us about it. And iBooks Author is only half of it.

Let’s take a look at the clause in the iBooks Author licensing agreement that has all the link-baiters going ballistic. Fortunately, it’s like the third paragraph down in the licensing agreement (under “IMPORTANT NOTE,” emphasis mine):
If you charge a fee for any book or other work you generate using this software (a “Work”), you may only sell or distribute such Work through Apple (e.g. through the iBookstore) and such distribution will be subject to a separate agreement with Apple.
XKCD always puts things in perspective.
I’ve bolded the part that should (but won’t) hush up the link-baiters and the fish that continue to bite at it. Let me make it clear:

Apple is only restricting the output of the software. What you do with eBooks generated by any other means is your own freeking business.

So basically, you can take your MSS and feed it to Amazon, Smashwords, or anywhere else you like. But if you’re selling your book (and aren’t we all?), the version you generate using iBooks Author — and only the version you generate using iBooks Author — has to be sold on the iBookstore. Apple may or may not approve it for sale, as they do for iOS apps on the App Store.

A lot of indie writers have talked about the problems we face, often put succinctly as “now that anyone can publish a novel, anyone does.” Most of us want to put our best foot forward, providing an engaging story at a price that won’t break readers’ banks while giving us the opportunity to earn some recompense for the work we put into bringing that story to the readers. Unfortunately, we are often lumped in with those who just throw whatever they have onto the eBook stores. What Apple is doing is attempting to guarantee some measure of quality (what measure that may be, I have deliberately left undefined) for people who want to sell enhanced eBooks in the iBookstore. Instead of welcoming this development, authors are running around with their hair on fire.

The Real Problem

Unfortunately, iBooks Author presents half of a real problem, one that nobody else is talking about. The other half is presented by… Kindle Format 8. Right up until the new year, we had to deal with only two eBook formats: MOBI (Kindle) and ePUB (everyone else). Both formats are well-standardized — you can build an ePUB by hand if you really want to (I’ve done it) and convert it to MOBI using Amazon’s free KindleGen utility. Now we have Apple’s extension to ePUB (i.e. iBooks Author) and Amazon’s extension to MOBI (Kindle Format 8) — and who’s to say B&N won’t jump into the game with their own incompatible extensions for Nook Color?

In short, it’s the browser wars all over again. The only winner of that war will be traditional publishers.

People writing technical documents, comics, and other works that require more formatting options than current eReaders offer are the ones in a bind here. They’ll have to live with the possibility that what works now might not work next year. They'll have to determine whether it’s worth the effort to work with features that are coded differently in different tablet eReaders, or if they should just work with one eReader and not the other.

I’d like to see a few zillion pixels dedicated to this instead of a misread licensing clause.

Friday, January 20, 2012 21 comments

#FridayFlash: Initials

Here’s the last of my “one photo, three genres” series. I had originally planned a sci-fi piece to finish it up, but I just wasn’t feeling it. This slice-of-life gelled better for me, but I did manage to allude to the sci-fi version in the story.

The other two stories in this series are:

Three Sprites, One Silent (fantasy)
Feast (horror)



Initials

“Wow,” said Sarah, looking around the park. “Things sure have changed.”

“At least we’re the same.” Earl smiled and squeezed her hand. “Even if we’ve been different most of our lives.”

“Not the same, really. We’re not kids anymore.”

“Whoa. When did they put a lake in here?” Earl stopped at the top of the hill, looking over the water.

Sarah shook her head. “Do you think it’s still here?”

“Maybe. That’s the pavilion. If they didn’t move that too, it’s probably right along the water.”

“Maybe it’s that stump down there in the water.” Sarah laughed. “Maybe if our families hadn’t moved away…”

“We couldn’t have stopped them putting a lake in here!”

“Yeah, but we might have done something else…” Sarah’s gaze went far away, looking across all that happened since they carved their initials in that tree: moving away, losing touch, marrying (other people), divorcing, finding each other on Twitter…

“You know what, Sarah? I think it is that stump. I really think it is.” The downhill slope pulled at them, but something else pulled harder, and they quickened their pace to the water’s edge.

“Will it be there, you think?” Sarah’s breath came quick, not just from the near-run.

“I don’t know. It’s cut kind of low, but how deep is the water?”

“You’re right — it really is our tree! Remember how it was hollow at the bottom?”

“Yeah. I made up a story about how some tiny aliens lived in the hollow and used it for a listening outpost.”

Sarah laughed. “I remember that! I thought it was funny, in a weird sort of way.”

“See that?” Earl pointed to the side of the stump. “That’s part of it, anyway.”

Sarah peered, leaning farther over the water than Earl thought prudent; he took her hand and braced himself. Along the jagged top edge of the stump, she thought she could make out the last part:

4EVER

“Forever. Yes,” she said. She let Earl pull her upright, then hugged him there on the water’s edge.

“We can’t smooch under the tree now,” he said, “but maybe we can find another tree. One a little farther up the hill.” He patted his pocket. “I just happened to bring a knife.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012 2 comments

Writing (Editing, really) Wibbles

True to my word, I let Chasing a Rainbow sit for a week before looking it over. I printed it out and plunked myself down, pen in hand.

Before I continue, I should point out that I recognize three levels of editing severity:

  • scalpel
  • hatchet
  • chain saw

This one fell into “scalpel” territory — I found things that needed fixing or tweaking, move a sentence, that sort of thing. Nothing major. Thinking maybe it was still too fresh, I went through the entire thing backwards. This worked very well for me when editing Xenocide, so I expected good things to come of the reverse pass.

I think I found two typos in 17,000 words. So far so scary.

Figuring I could just get embarrassed by a beta reader, I exported a MOBI and copied it into my Kindle to look over. Then I started finding things.

Meanwhile, the person I really wanted to beta-read this — Craig WF Smith — volunteered. W00T! So now it’s off to beta, and I’m looking forward to the results.

Now I need to bang out a #FridayFlash… like really quick.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 3 comments

Winter on the Patio

As always, winter on Planet Georgia is confused: it’s warmest out when it’s cloudy. After a couple chilly nights during the week, temperatures recovered to roughly normal for the long weekend. Mrs. Fetched’s mom said she had some play sand a while back, and I finally brought it up to the manor. We put a coat and “boggin” (wooly cap) on Mason, the same on me, and we went out to the patio.

This worked out fairly well, except that Mason wanted to treat the sand the same way he treated the water during warmer weather: something to fling in all directions. I was only partially successful in dissuading him. Otherwise, I sat back and played with my phone — and found that the wifi carried all the way out to the patio… sweeeeet. The sand was much warmer on bare hands than water could be, a major plus.

Then Mrs. Fetched brought Skylar up. Mason was not happy about this at first, but they shortly worked things out and started flinging sand everywhere. sigh I built a fire in the table and kept my feet warm while watching the kids play. Except for one or two brief shouting matches, they played pretty well together.

Naturally, it wasn’t all that long before they decided to explore a little. This was mostly wading through where I’d piled the leaves from the back yard, and they came right back when I told them to (it’s a miracle, I tell you!).

Finally, lunch called and we all went inside. With rain coming tomorrow, I put the covers on things and left the spilled sand where it lie. It’ll likely wash in between the tiles, where it will possibly do some good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012 21 comments

#FridayFlash: Feast

Here's the second of my “one photo, three genres” prompt. This one is horror.



Feast

That tiny bird I caught yesterday is long gone. The only blood I’ve tasted in a week. My stomach rumbles.

I am so hungry. As always.

Curse the Fate and Powers, leading me to this hollow tree so many years ago! It seemed a good place to sleep, sheltered from the sun and away from prying eyes. But when I awoke, it was surrounded by this hated water and has been ever since. It is said that vampires cannot cross running water. I cannot touch water.

A ripple… fish sometimes find their way here, but the hunger cannot overcome my hatred of the water where they live. Once a fish jumped, and I caught it. I nearly fell into the water from whence it came, but claws and teeth held fast and I ate. So good… but this ripple is a turtle. They never come far enough out to catch, so I can only imagine what it would be like to crunch through that shell.

Voices. Human voices. I smell them, see them in the fading evening light, and curse the Powers anew. For they are young. Big enough to be a good meal, young enough that the sweetness has not been squeezed out of them.

One male, one female. They lay on a blanket and begin their mating ritual, pressing their mouths together, moving their hands here and there. So disgusting. Were I not trapped here, even sated, I would kill them both just to make it stop. Their clothing begins to fall away, as if to tantalize me. That stuff is tasty and nutritious as tree bark. But the flesh… oh, the flesh…

The female, now naked, springs up laughing and runs to the shore. The male follows, and she slips into the water… so close, yet out of reach. And if I let hunger do the thinking, what would happen if the other saw me and ran? I would be helpless to flee.

He follows her into the water, she retreats. Ever closer. My drool sizzles as it strikes the water. He catches her, and they press their mouths together once again. She wraps her legs around him as they join… so disgusting… they stagger into my tree, moaning and squirming.

I say a quick prayer of forgiveness to the Powers whom I have cursed for so long. I will be strong, perhaps strong enough to leap clear of this prison. If not, I can use their bones as stilts. I will be free tomorrow.

But today I feast.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 5 comments

Writing Wibbles

As always, let’s start with a big FAR Manor welcome for the new blog followers:

  • Thaddeus Howze — fantasy writer and computer technologist
  • Nicola Slade — a fine UK-based writer of fine cozy books of my acquaintance — hi Nicky!

Visitor badges are on the table, as always.



Sometimes, writing is like chasing a receding goalpost — but sometimes you catch it anyway. I finished Chasing a Rainbow over the weekend, a total of just over 17,000 words. After a quick typo pass, I decided to let it marinate for a week before starting a paper edit this weekend.

I’m also thinking about how I want to release it on an unsuspecting world. I know some authors have had good luck podcasting their stories, so I’m seriously considering that route (once again, with the ability to buy the eBook right away). Boran may take a shot at painting the cover, which would be pretty cool. That would give me time to make sure the story is in good shape, so it’s likely to see the light of 'pod sometime later this year.

Not much movement on the White Pickups front. sigh I’m in a similar blockage mode with Pickups and Pestilence that I was at one point with White Pickups, which suggests to me that I might be pushing the story in the wrong direction. Whatever it is I’m doing wrong, I hope the characters will let me know soon. I’m about ⅔ done with the story.


The “one photo, three genres” project is off to a roaring start. Three Sprites, One Silent has (as I type) 199 reads, which puts it very close to being my all-time most read #FridayFlash. Only Geek vs. Zombies has passed the 200 mark so far, and that just barely (at 201). I hope the next one is as well-received.

Speaking of #FridayFlash, my Christmas/motorcycle/horror story To Begin With was named #FridayFlash of the Month for December! I got interviewed and everything — go check it out! Good publicity is good publicity, you know.

And… there’s some other cool publicity-related stuff I'll get to next week…


While Amazon is officially discouraging authors giving out eBook sales figures, I think it’s safe to say that Xenocide hasn’t exactly marched to the top of the best-seller lists on either Amazon or Smashwords. Especially Smashwords. Even with a coupon that made it free, I only got a few more Smashwords free downloads than I did Amazon sales. It makes me glad that publishing Xenocide was a trial run, to see how much effort it took and what I’d need to do to smooth the path for the White Pickups release. But given the numbers, I’m seriously questioning whether it’s worth the effort to release an ePUB on Smashwords, even with the automatic distribution to Nook/Sony/iBooks/etc.

While a quick Google suggests the eReader market is split 67%/22%/11% between Kindle, Nook, and the rest, I also found an eBook sales page that suggests eBook sales are split 58%/27%/9%/6% between Amazon, B&N, iBooks, and the rest — which says that Nook users buy more eBooks than Kindle users. But my experience, and what at least some others are seeing, doesn't line up with this. For example, indie author Stephen Knight posted his sales figures on Monday, and to say his numbers are heavily skewed toward Amazon is an understatement (over 95% of his revenue came from Amazon!). This suggests to me that adding one’s books to Kindle Prime, which makes them Kindle-exclusive for the duration, doesn’t leave much money on the table. I’m not sure what’s happening here — it would be interesting to see how other writers are doing — but it could be that indies are having an easier time of it on Amazon’s store.

We’re all groping our way forward in the dark. Beware of people trying to sell flashlights.

Thursday, January 05, 2012 23 comments

#FridayFlash: Three Sprites, One Silent

I set myself a challenge: write three different stories, each of a different genre, based on the same photo. The first one is a fantasy.



Three Sprites, One Silent

Photo: Larry Kollar, March 2009
Morning Mist, true to her name, came a-knocking in the first light of dawn as she did every sunrise.

“Urrf,” came the response from the stump.

“Morning has broken!”

“So?”

Morning Mist said nothing, and Gnarlbark soon poked her hoary head out of the hollow. Like the stump she lived in, she looked sodden and worn. “Every morning the same thing,” she grumbled. “And my answer is the same as it is every morning. I will not leave my tree.”

“And I will ask the same question I ask every morning: why? It is but a lifeless stump, surrounded by water. My water.”

“I will not leave. I will not give in to the humans. Or you.”

The naiad grinned. “Oh, pish. You speak of humans as if they are Evil Made Flesh.”

“Humans cut down my tree and drowned its roots. I have good reason to think such.”

“And the same humans dammed my creek, making this lovely pond. Have I not done well with what they gave me?”

Gnarlbark scowled. “Oh, yes. The humans are wonderful. They keep your pond so clean.” She glared at a can floating silent in the water nearby, an empty container for one of their horrid beverages. The can was green as a spring leaf, the greenest thing to be seen this winter morning. It was adorned with white spots and the human script that neither naiad nor dryad had bothered to learn.

“At least it’s aluminum.” Morning Mist gave it a playful slap, and the can flipped onto the weedy shore before slowly rolling back into the water. “Remember when they were iron?”

“All too well. I have felt their iron nails pierce bark and living wood. Their iron fencing…” She shuddered. “Humans bring pain to trees.”

“As do squirrels and birds. Humans are a force of nature, no matter how they may deny it. As are we. And they left plenty of trees just up the bank.” The naiad waved a dainty hand at the woods above them. “There stand many suitable oak trees that would welcome a dryad’s loving care.”

“Until a human cuts them down.”

“Or storm or beetle does the same. At least humans make use of what they cut.”

“And what use do they make of their aluminum containers, when they have drank their fill?” Gnarlbark gave the can a dark look as it floated toward them, rocking with the ripples and turning itself slowly. “Human refuse, have you any wisdom to impart in this matter?”

The green can said nothing, but fetched up against the tree in a gentle caress.

“It seems as if the can likes your tree,” Morning Mist’s laugh was the sound of a creek running over rocks. “Perhaps it is advising you to stay.”

“Then it indeed has some wisdom to impart.” Gnarlbark reached down and lifted the human thing from the water, holding it so the pond water could drain away. “As for us, naiad, we have our charges to attend to.”

“Indeed we do,” Morning Mist swam away, rippling the cattails along the shore as she went. “I will speak to you again with tomorrow’s sunrise.”

“We will be waiting for you here.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2012 5 comments

Writing Wibbles

Oh look, two new followers to welcome!

  • Chris Morton — a Taiwan-based writer who occasionally gets back home to the UK…
  • Russell 1200 — “deep background on the human (inevitably) terminal condition”

Your visitor badges are on the table. Please, no flash photography.

I hoped (but did not expect) to get a lot of writing done during the two weeks I had off. It could have been worse — the holiday put a crimp in the writing time, but I did manage to write some. I even got on a roll… not with Pickups and Pestilence, but with Chasing a Rainbow. As with most of the tales I take on, it grew in the telling. I originally expected it to run about 10,000 words. I’m closing in on the end, I hope, and the current word count is 16,000. I think another thousand words will put this one to bed… a 70% overrun. Considering I originally expected White Pickups to be 30,000 words, and the current estimate is 180,000 (a 600% overrun), my estimates are improving!

Something interesting I’ve noted: sometimes, it feels like I have to push the first 200 words through the keyboard. At some point, without my realizing it, the next 800 (or more) words just flow out. It’s like pushing a car over the hill; gravity just takes over and I’m just along for the ride.

I’m not sure whether I’ll serialize Chasing (probably), or offer it for a buck on the eBook sites like with Xenocide, or both. By the way, the latter is currently free on Smashwords, using coupon code CE84M until the 10th. I’ve had a few Xenocide sales, not enough to get to the payout level, and just a few more free downloads than purchases since I set up the coupon. I’d like to see a review or two, even tepid ones so I’ll know what to improve in my writing.

One problem with releasing Chasing as an eBook is that I have no book cover for it, nor any ideas for one. Oh well, that gives me time to shake out typos and other issues. But I’ll probably have to design my own cover, since (unless I’m pleasantly surprised) it’s unlikely I’ll get enough sales to cover the expense of having it done for me.

I need a 36-hour day.

Monday, January 02, 2012 4 comments

New Year, New Boarder

Everyone else is doing a New Year’s post, so I’ll do something different.

Thursday night, Daughter Dearest and I were coming home from running errands. I turned into the driveway, and…

“Looks like one of our cats got out!” I said, hitting the brakes. “How did that happen?”

“If it’s one of ours.” She jumped out of the car and walked over to the cat, who stretched himself up DD’s leg. He had no collar, and no problem with her scooping him up and getting back in the car with him. With a closer look, I could see he wasn’t one of ours: he’s a long-hair and his markings are mainly on his face. Mrs. Fetched let him come inside and he quickly made himself at home — it was obvious to us that he was a pampered indoor cat. We figured there would be “lost cat” signs up pretty soon, and we could facilitate a joyous reunion.

Suddenly… Mrs. Fetched wrinkled her nose. “He sprayed something!” We put the visitor in the garage and started hunting. We only smelled it in the living room; Daughter Dearest was the one to hit on the idea of bringing Pip in from the porch to see if he could find it. He was soon sniffing the tree apron and (after confirming) we chucked the apron in the washer. The smell went away soon after.

Despite his banishment, he seems to have adopted us. Mrs. Fetched thinks he was someone’s pampered kitten who was disenfranchised after he started spraying his original home, and those “lost cat” signs may never materialize. So I named him Stinkbomb, and Daughter Dearest named him Prince because he’s so spoiled. So we put our heads together, and came up with his full name: His Royal Highness, Prince Stinky McSpraygun.

Anyway. If you live on Planet Georgia, and have lost a cat who looks like this one, let me know.

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