Furry Muses

Some tackle us the moment we walk through the door from a long day at the working gig. Some provide a watchful eye on our writing productivity lazily swinging their tails to and fro while resting on top of the printer. Others insist on wording our sentences for us. Things like "shdoifhq9283yr8whetohfajsud" don't translate so well. But they are there for us. Loving on us in the middle of our doubts. Inspiring us with their antics. They are our Furry Muses.

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Christine Rains

Thunder is the lord of his castle. Regal and handsome, he looks down upon us and sees all. He inspires my disinterested aristocrats, my scheming thieves, and my devious villains. Of course, Thunder is just over a year old, not much more than a kitten. He runs into things, swats at dust bunnies, and recently nearly broke a leg doing a daredevil tackle move on his cat tree. He is a young hero in the making. Not at all wise, but silly and charming. He might be able to pull off a graceful leap, but he's just as likely to tumble. He's smart enough to open cupboards and flush the toilet, but he'd be the one to try to make friends with the monster under the bed. And I think if anyone could, he'd be able to do it.

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Angela Brown

Molly is my Tiny Terror. She's a Chihuahua mixed with a ball of energy, an attention-grabber, and will have her body close to yours...only after she's sniffed you, barked at your ankles, and let you know that this is her territory and me and Chipmunk are her humans to protect. Then she's putty in your hands.

It can be interesting getting the writing in, especially if I'm chilling in my bed. She wants to be right there in my lap. Which can be hard since that's where I need my laptop. But we tend to reach a compromise after a few hugs and she settles for being by my side. At two years old, fourteen in dog years, she keeps me on my toes about the angst of youth and the subtle ways in which we all yearn to be seen, heard, and loved.

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River Fairchild

My ideal imaginary cat would be fierce-looking, ready to attack anyone I didn't like with his ability to breathe dragon fire. He would be a lovable furball around me, though, curling up in my lap anytime I wanted attention. He wouldn't leave hair on my clothes or cough up hair balls. Alas, it's the other way around, but he would go on letting me believe in my delusion of the chain of command. 

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M. Pax

Karenina (Nini, the seal point) and Makayla (Kayla B, the blue point) moved in with me when they were 7 weeks old in January 1997. We lost dear Nini this past July, but Makayla recently celebrated her 19th birthday. With catnip, of course.  Nini was always the happiest of kitties, bouncing into rooms with joy, loving to play and snuggle up until her final days. She was so full of life and often hung out on the corner of my desk. From her, I learned to read well for a crowd. If I wasn't animated enough, she 'd go to sleep. If I was animated, she'd listen intently. Kayla is starting to lose her sight, but she's happy enough. Somehow we find ways to spoil her worse by the day. She usually hangs out behind me (she is right now) on an ottoman. She used to toss puffy balls into the air and flip around to catch them. We all spent many hours together playing ribbon and blanket monster. Makayla especially loves to be flown around the house. The two of them made me laugh daily. There is much Kayla doesn't do anymore because of her age, but she still makes me smile every day. Thank you, Kayla. Thank you, Nini. We miss you, Nini. Every day.

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Cherie Reich

Cinderella "Relli" (pictured left) appeared at our house when she was around four weeks old. Of her litter, she was the only one we kept. I couldn't birth a daughter more like me than Relli. We have our anxiety issues and weird behavior, but we're the sweetest things when we feel comfortable with someone. Relli teaches me it's okay if I don't have my characters figured out in the first draft. I'll get to know them more each time we meet. For a muse, she says I need to put the laptop away. It's blocking the best seat in the house.

We rescued Romeo (pictured right) when he was around three weeks old. His mother had either died or abandoned him, and his siblings died in a fire. The poor little kitten was singed and reeked of smoke and oil, but he promptly adopted me as his mommy. Romeo reminds me I should speak up more, even though I'm typically rather quite--until I become comfortable around you. He's my shadow chaser. We're an adorable awkward pair.

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Catherine Stine

Bo, otherwise known as Heironymus Redneck Bosch is actually my older son's dog, but I "babysit" him a lot. He's half King Cavalier and half Cocker Spaniel. Here he is eyeing our pool game, and angling on how to get a play in. 

I can get writing done if I give him a nice pig ear or chew bone. Otherwise, he tries to distract me. But he is a great lapdog, so on cold winter nights he functions well as a heating pad while I watch TV.

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Meradeth Houston

Hi! This is my first post as part of this awesome group, so it's even better to get to share a bit about my little Kate :) She's a rescue from California and is now learning how to love the snow in Montana with me. I think she's part rat terrier, with probably some chihuahua thrown in for good measure. 

She's quite the attention hog, to be honest, and gets mad when I start typing and not paying attention to her. But if I'm lucky, and can wear her own with a long walk and romp with her doggie friend around the corner, she curls up next to me and lets me tap away on my keyboard. She'd very sweet, super protective, and loves nothing more than to be on my lap getting a belly rub. I love this little pup!

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Julie Flanders

Clancy (the dog) and Nate (the cat) are my furry babies. They are both 8 years old and were born about a month apart in the fall of 2007. I adopted Nate from an animal shelter in January, 2008 and brought Clancy home from a local dog rescue on Labor Day weekend of the same year. I couldn't have picked better companions! They were both featured in my first book Polar Night when I named a character Nate Clancy. I couldn't resist. :)

My favorite writing space is my couch and as you can see Clancy and Nate are also fans of this piece of furniture. I'm lucky they are willing to share it with me. I stretch out with my laptop on my legs and these two take their respective spots on the cushions. I've spent many happy writing days with these guys and I look forward to many more.

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Gwen Gardner

This is Koko and Tuffy. They are pitt-mix and perhaps queensland heeler. They are very talented at laying around, as you can see. But they're very smart! Their vocabulary is extensive so we've taken to spelling things we don't want them to understand--they're beginning to learn to spell, so I don't know what we're gonna do.

Koko "Puff" and Tuffy are brother and sister (littermates) and turned ten years old last summer. Koko, on the left, rules the roost. Tuffy is the strong silent type and always defers to her, even though he's bigger and stronger than she is. He even attacked a chainsaw to save his daddy once when he was one year old (see that white spot above his lip?), but he would never face down the fearsome Koko. She's way tougher than some ol' chainsaw.

They're both known to lend a paw when I'm trying to work. One time, Koko wrote forty-three pages before I noticed.

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Jeff Chapman

Smokey is a rescue cat. My family rescued her when she showed up in our driveway one September Saturday afternoon and tried to come in the breezeway. She was meowing, begging for some TLC, and so friendly. For a few weeks we had been seeing this small gray cat around the neighborhood, mostly at night or at a distance. Try to judge the details of a gray cat in the dark. Today she was in front of us. No doubt that this dirty, bag of bones was sick and starving. She ate some dry and canned cat food as if she hadn't eaten in months, which was probably close to the truth. After a trip to the emergency vet, we learned that she was dehydrated, had no microchip, no terminal illnesses, no front claws, two missing canines, millions of fleas, and two infections: upper respiratory and eye. For the next two months, Smokey lived in our breezeway while we nursed her back to health with antibiotics, regular meals, and a safe place to sleep. We also learned that Smokey is deaf, probably from a horrid case of ear mites.

When I needed a model for an ancient cat for a novel in progress, I looked no further than Smokey. This cat may have been around the block a few too many times, but she now has a home and a place in literature.

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Ellie Garratt

This was my late father-in-law's dog, Sam. Whenever he went on holiday, Sam became my dog. He wasn't the brightest dog I've known. Jack Russells are stubborn and difficult to train, and he always lived up to that reputation. You couldn't play fetch or teach him tricks. However, he never left my side and was quick to move into guard mode whenever we were approached by a not-so-friendly dog. I loved taking him on long walks, and not just for the fresh air and exercise. It was because while walking, I could switch off from all concerns and think about whatever writing project I was working on. There were no distractions other than keeping an eye on Sam, which meant my creative side could take over. I had numerous story ideas and plot breakthroughs on those long walks.

I wish I could have my own Sam now. Unfortunately, working long hours prohibits it. For now, I'll dream of a day when I can have another Sam in my life. I hope I don't have to wait long.


An Odd Creature that isn't Fiction to Inspire Aliens and Monsters

The Yeti Crab

It's hairy, it's white. It lives near the thermal vents in the ocean floor where hot water gushes into the sea.

There are three known species. One resides in the Southern Ocean off Antartica and it grows its own food.


Yes, its favorite snack is bacteria which grows in the 'hairs' (setae) on its body. Now that's convenient!


Want to be introduced to 5 more bizarre species that share our planet? Visit mpaxauthor.com tomorrow (1/20)


Calling All X-Philes!

I'm not going to lie, I am super excited about the return of The X-Files on January 24. Mulder & Scully back on my screen? I'm a happy camper.

I was never a hard-core fan of the show but I did love its early years and I absolutely loved the characters of Mulder and Scully. So when I signed up to do a post here for January I thought it would be fun to list my favorite episodes in celebration of the show's imminent return.

I thought it would be fun, but when I tried making a list I found it wasn't quite so easy. For one, it's been a long time since I've watched so it was hard for me to remember lots of the names and episode summaries. Then, I realized I couldn't possibly narrow down my choices enough and my list would be so long that I'd end up with ten posts instead of one.

So I thought I'd just share some episodes I loved and that have always stuck with me. These are in no particular order.

1. Anasazi


The season 2 finale and the episode that got me hooked on the show. I watched it with a friend who was a fan and got so wrapped up in it I had to watch whatever re-runs I could over the summer so I could get caught up. It wasn't easy to catch up in those days before streaming and DVD sets!

2. Monday


I don't remember most of the later season episodes, but I did love this one from the sixth season. It was shocking and traumatic to see Mulder and Scully hurt/killed in a bank robbery and even more so when it happened over and over again, Groundhog Day style.

3. Paper Hearts


A season 4 episode that dealt with the disappearance of Mulder's sister, this one broke my Mulder-loving heart.

4. Duane Barry/Ascension

Two season 2 episodes that culminated in Scully's abduction.

5, One Breath

The episode that brought Scully back and left me a blubbering mess.

6. Home

It was impossible to forget this season 4 episode about the inbred Peacock family and I think I would probably still jump at the crazy woman under the bed. Yikes!

Were you an X-Files fan? If so, what were some of your favorite episodes? Are you looking forward to the show's return?

Welcome Back, X-Files!



Review for Soul Breaker by Clara Coulson #urbanfantasy #paranormal

The cover captured my attention first: a man with magic upon his hand. I read the first chapter on a blog, and I was hooked and had to pre-order Clara Coulson's Soul Breaker.

The Book's Description from Goodreads:
There’s a hideous monster on the loose, crushing heads and taking names.

But Detective Calvin Kinsey is on the case!

Two years ago, Cal Kinsey was an up-and-coming cop in the Aurora Police Department. But during a fateful nighttime stakeout in search of a prolific killer, Cal witnessed the darkest corner of his dreams come to life. A rogue vampire slaughtered his partner — to put it nicely — and introduced Cal to the supernatural world he never knew existed in the shadows.

Now, Cal is a newly minted detective at the often mocked Department of Supernatural Investigations. By day, the agents of DSI are called “Kooks” by local law enforcement. By night, they’re known as “Crows,” reviled by the supernatural underworld.

Mere weeks out of the academy, Cal catches his first real case, a vicious murder at a local college. An unknown sorcerer has summoned a powerful creature from the Eververse, a realm of magic and mayhem that borders Earth, and set it on a dangerous warpath through the city.

Between butting heads with his grumpy team captain, stirring up ill will with the local wizards and witches, and repeatedly getting the crap beaten out of himself, Cal must find a way to stop the Eververse monster and send it back to the hell it came from…

…preferably before Aurora, Michigan runs out of coffins for the dead. 

Cherie's Review:
DSI detective Cal Kinsey's first supernatural case might be his last in Clara Coulson's Soul Breaker.

What attracted me to this novel was the voice of the main character Cal Kinsey. He's sarcastic, sometimes a bit of a jerk, and rash, but he's also caring, kind, and a hero. The action and tension are non-stop, and all I wanted to do was keep reading to find out what would happen next to Cal and the other Department of Supernatural Investigations' members. Coulson crafts a fascinating and unique world and explanation of the supernatural through the invention of the Eververse. There are mysteries within the world and about Cal that I'm particularly looking forward to reading about in the next books.

Soul Breaker by Clara Coulson is book one of the City of Crows series, so I'm excited we have more to come. I'm so looking forward to the next book!

Purchase it on Amazon.com.
Add on Goodreads.
To learn more about Clara and her books, check out http://www.claracoulson.com.


Striving Toward Your Potential

It’s the first post of the New Year, so really, there’s only one thing to post about:
New Beginnings!
New beginnings are both scary and exciting. Last year was a bust writing-wise for me. But in a way, it was the time I needed to take a breather and revisit my goals. There is one thing that is always on my mind: writing. It’s a goal that I know I have in common with many others. It’s what this Untethered Realms blog is about: a group of writers coming together to support each other in our writerly endeavors.

I consider writing a gift. A gift given to us by God as something that we need to develop. That's where the yearning comes from. 

The analogy I like to use is that writing is like an addiction. I’m not happy when I haven’t had my fix. It’s like getting tattoos. Once you start, you don’t want to stop. It’s how you show and share your creativeness with the world. I don’t mean the kind of addiction some have to drugs or alcohol. Those addictions are based in unhappiness and pain.

I'm talking about the kind of addictions that are based in happiness like drawing, painting, designing or writing. I feel happy when I’m writing, or thinking about writing, or planning to write, or outlining a story so that I can write. Or reading what other people write!

Shawn Achor, author and happiness researcher—it’s a real thing!—says, “Happiness is the joy you feel striving toward your potential.”  

My wish for the year ahead is for everyone reading this to strive toward their potential.

Here’s what I’ll be striving toward this year:

What will you be striving toward?