First day of December…

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We had a duck in the back yard yesterday morning, hiding in the cats’ den, of all places.

Then we had a duck in the bath tub, because I put it there to keep it safe while we figured out what to do with it.

Then we had a duck in a box in Paul’s Jeep, driving to Clovis to drop the duck off at the zoo. The woman at the zoo told us, “This is the second bathtub duck today.”

The duck was identified as a male of the species commonly known as the redheaded duck. As Grace joked, “Drake. And a redhead. Of course he came to our house…” (There’s a character in Paul’s novels named Daeren Drake — a redhead, as you’ve no doubt guessed.)

Anyway, here are some photos of #bathtubduck:

Grace managed to take a couple photos of the duck when he first came out of the cats’ den:

The duck was really quite well-behaved through everything. He didn’t hiss or try to bite, and he didn’t flail his wings or make a fuss. His attitude seemed to be, “Okay, as long as you don’t try to eat me…” He does have a hurt leg, but it didn’t seem too bad — he can’t run, but he can walk on it — so he’ll probably be healed and going about his business soon. And if not, we’ll see him next year at the zoo.

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Sometimes, real life sucks because of COVID deniers.

Follow-up to what I blogged about on the 6th about my twin being told not to tell anyone where he works that he had — past tense, had it but now doesn’t — COVID-19:

He got his yearly job performance evaluation yesterday. As expected, he got perfect scores in everything from him immediate boss, the person who is the only one supposed to be doing his evaluation.


That HR person who had a conniption fit over Paul answering one person’s direct question about why he’d been away for an entire month? She had wanted Paul to not just not talk about having been sick but to “admit” that he never had COVID. (There are signs up in the halls where he works, by the way, stating that no one working there has had the virus. Those signs went up while Paul was in quarantine.) 

So the HR person went and complained to the general manager, who forced Paul’s immediate boss to write on his evaluation that Paul was being given a demerit for pretending to be sick so he could take time off from work, and for “inciting panic” by even allowing his fellow employees to believe he may have had COVID. (The only person “panicking” at all is the HR person. She insists the virus isn’t real… but she’s terrified of catching it.) At least Paul’s boss made it clear in what he wrote that he disagreed with this and was putting it in Paul’s evaluation only because he’d been ordered to by the general manager.

(Anyone want to guess about the political leanings of the HR person and the general manager? The HR person even said to Paul, ‘You have to admit is looks really suspicious that you [meaning the Democrat] are the only person who has “come down sick” here.’ She’s implying that he faked having COVID-19 — after all, everyone knows the pandemic is fake news invented by those evil libs to make the president look bad, right? — for political reasons.)

So Paul is already looking for a new job. At this point, it doesn’t matter if this current problem gets resolved (which could happen, but he doesn’t expect it to), if he gets the lies removed from his job evaluation and he receives his yearly pay increase as usual… Someone not even in his “chain of command” was allowed to force his boss to put a demerit in his evaluation and claim he deliberately “incited panic” by “lying” and saying that he’d had the virus.

So don’t be surprised if I announce here sometime in the next few months that we’re all packing up and moving to some other town, or even another state. (And hey, Paul can assure any new employer that they don’t have to worry about him catching COVID, because he’s already had it.)




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More kitten photos where those came from…

This is Small. Small is a shy kitten.

Tortie Girl (upper left), Streak, Little Grey, and their grandma (lower left).

Jellybean, another momma cat (and Leftie’s sister).

Blacky, who wants to be a panther when he grows up.

Wednesday again.

Torie Girl and Streak with their grandma.

Fluffy: He’s cute, and he knows it.

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Behold: kitten photos!

Little Grey laying with her head on Fluffy’s belly.

Ginger-kit and Whiskers, the amber-eyed boys.

Leftie, one of the mommas of this bunch.

Wednesday, the TINY cat.

Streak, all white except for a little streak of grey on his head.

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Grammar-ing “without MFA,” and other things.

Sometime in May, I think (the days do blur together more now, don’t they?), someone told me, via email, that what I’ve done on this blog with my “Writing Glitch” posts is the same as a non-doctor giving medical advice, and they were going to report my “lies” to WordPress itself, or something like that. This individual even threatened to sue me for giving writing advice “without MFA English Grammar from a top credited university.”

So I did what any sensible person would do in my place: I told my twin about it, so we could both have a laugh.

As far as I or my twin (or my twin’s former co-worker Ricardo, who’d once worked as a copyeditor for a major publisher, back when such companies actually had in-house copyeditors) can tell, I know more about how to use correct/standard grammar and punctuation than most people with English degrees do. Also, a degree in English, even a degree in creative writing, doesn’t mean that individual knows anything about the mechanics of writing.

(Then there’s that novelist who also writes psychology nonfiction… Ohmigod, the bad punctuation! Stupidly bad, at that, and not just the usual misplaced commas and such. I tried to read one of his novels, but I didn’t make it to the end of the first page. The other day, I wrote a bloggish tirade — someday I may even share it — directed at this person, in the form of Alex Walotsky advising a colleague on why it’s a Very Bad Idea to publish crap when people are isolated and in desperate need of something readable.)

July was a difficult month this year. Some of it, I’m not ready to discuss yet.

However, the bits I can tell you about now…

Just yesterday (yeah, technically that makes it an August thing, but it’s the aftermath of something from July), my clone-sibling was threatened with losing his job because he’d told a co-worker that he’d missed the entire month of July due to being sick with covid-19. (There is no way I wasn’t exposed to the virus, too, but I had no symptoms. Neither did Grace.) The person in charge of HR (I want to make a joke about human resources not really applying when my twin is involved) insisted that because she didn’t believe he’d been sick with covid-19 — she says she doesn’t believe the virus is even real, although she’s clearly terrified of getting it and pretends it’s a hoax to make herself feel “safe” — he wasn’t sick and is “lying” when he says he had it… and not only is he not to tell anyone he had it, but he is supposed to explicitly say he didn’t have it. This all came about because other people who work there weren’t informed when their co-worker came down ill with covid-19, and they wanted to know why they weren’t informed so they could get tested, too, and find out if they’d caught it. So now, if anyone at work asks Paul about whether he had covid-19, he’ll reply, “I’ve been told not to talk about it.” That’s sure to backfire on the people who want him to pretend it never happened.

A disturbing thing occurred to me as I was typing a comment on Charles Yallowitz’s blog post this afternoon: My twin and I are mindlinked — not in an over-the-top, comic-book-character sort of way, but we do often “hear” each other’s thoughts/emotions. In the stories we write together (although I insist that my name not go on the book covers), there are a couple of characters, Hrothgar and Hunter, who are mindlined twins. The thing that occurred to me a little while ago? Joseph and Jon are twins, too, in pretty much the same way Hrothgar and Hunter are. (I’ve imagined bits of conversation between Jon and Hunter on this topic; they agree that Hunter fared much better than Jon did… and when/if I actually write that scene, there needs to be a “Don’t laugh, cat,” comment from Jon. Dramatic irony amuses me.) Does this mean it’s likely that they will also end up mindlinked eventually? (Hasn’t Jon had enough bad stuff happen to him in his life already???)









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Writing Glitch 1096

Today’s glitch:

What we see in the second sentence of the example is an actual run-on sentence: a sentence that lacks even a misused comma to slow the headlong rush. It needs either a period or a semicolon after friend.

Other problems:

Lives are countable. Replace amount (for uncountable nouns) with number. (If you really, really want to use the word amount for some reason, change the sentence to say unlimited amount of life; lives are countable, but life is not.)

Unless used as a proper name (for a person or anything else), amber should not be capitalized.

 The last sentence is compound and needs a comma after room.

“This is going to be horrible. Pain is your friend; it means you haven’t lost your mind. […] You have an umlimited number of lives in this game. Stay focused on finding that amber room, and no matter what happens, you stand back up each time you fall.”




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Another well-reasoned tirade AGAINST ‘Thou Shalt Not Use Adverbs!’

This is an old (from 2017!) tirade against the anti-adverb nonsense so common in “internet wisdom” on writing, and I’d somehow forgotten to share it before, so… 

The most common argument I’ve seen against the use of adverbs (*) amounts to, “Some people do it badly, so no one should do it at all.”

Do you have any idea how illogical that is? By that line of reasoning, no one should drive a car, raise a child, play a musical instrument, or give advice on writing. After all, there are people who do each of those things very badly

I also see a lot of straw-man arguments put forth: “If you think it’s ever okay to use adverbs, you must think it’s best to use adverbs all over the place and especially in every single dialogue tag.” 

Friends, there are a hell of a lot of adverbs that don’t get mentioned in those Thou Shalt Not Adverb articles. Those adverbs don’t get mentioned either because the writer doesn’t know they’re adverbs (quite possible, considering the grammatical ignorance of so many “experts” these days) or doesn’t want to mention that not all adverbs end in –ly, because that would mess up their claims that they never use adverbs and therefor are far better writers than you are. (*rolls eyes*)

I recently read (half of) a novel in which -ly adverbs were used all over the place, often in ways that added nothing to the sentences where they appeared. (Y’know how ran quickly doesn’t work because running is quick? The same goes for shouted loudly or hid furtively or whatever.) Also, the writer seemed to think that –ly adverbs should be set off with commas from the rest of the sentence: He shouted, loudly, at his kid brother. This is bad writing. Just using the occasional modifier for a verb is not bad writing. (I’ll say it again: If you really believe that absolute avoidance of adverbs is a worthwhile goal for any writer, prove it can be done. If you can’t do it yourself, at least point out a writer who has done it. You can probably find such a writer hanging out with rainbow-eating unicorns and the Easter Bunny — the Loch Ness Monster, being a plesiosaur, is a bit too real for such company.)

(*) Aside from, “Stephen King said…,” that is. First of all, he didn’t actually say to avoid all adverbs, all the time. Second, he used several adverbs in that rather short essay: about a dozen, not including the ones used as examples of what not to do. Seriously, friends, if you’re gonna listen to anyone about the One True Way to Write Fiction, at least make sure they follow their own rules. “Oh, but you could rewrite Some people do it badly so it doesn’t have an adverb: Some people don’t do it well. So there!” Um… No. Not is an adverb. Well is also an adverb. You lose… 🙂


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Kitten (and Cat) Photos

These are from the beginning of June: cat photos!

Five kittens on the grass

Four housecats on a couch

Two kittens on the back porch


Two of the three momma cats (Left and Jellybean) and the smallest kitten (Tiny Tux)


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Updates: end of May

Question: What is both cute and scary?

Answer: Eleven kittens.

Smudge’s three half-sisters had their kittens in the same week, and there are now eleven small kittens — plus their moms — living in our back yard: three “tuxedo” kittens, four white ones (technically, one of those isn’t all white — he has a tiny grey streak between his ears), an all-black one, a grey tabby, a fluffy ginger tabby, and a tortie who looks like her grandmother. Yesterday, the little grey one climbed the “cat perch” for the first time, so it won’t be long before they’re all climbing the fence and Paul’s workbench, and generally making their moms’ lives more difficult.

In a bit more than two weeks, I’ll start on the Big Editing Project that got delayed by the pandemic. I won’t say a lot about it, except that the manuscript is bigger than Daylight by about sixteen thousand words… and it’s the first book in a series. 🙂

Most of the editing I’ve been doing lately has been on shorter works, so I’m excited about getting into a Really Fat Novel again soon.

Speaking of really fat novels… The clone has been writing lately. Quite a bit, considering he does it only when in his office at his day job, and he’s been working from home on alternating weeks. As always, he has more than one WIP going at a time. He’s passed 90K words for the fifth Tebrey novel, and although I don’t know the current word count, I know he’s also made more progress with the sequel to Project Brimstone.

And speaking of scary, I’ve been editing a scary novel set in eastern Kentucky. Trust me, the setting is a large part of what makes it so frightening. (And then we’ll need beta readers again, by the way.)



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