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01 November 2017

Simon The Time Traveling Cat Coughs Up A Hairball | IWSG



The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNoWriMo* project? Have any of them gone on to be published?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below.

*Note: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, an insane challenge where people try to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. 


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Image via The Graphics Fairy

"Oh, my god!" I screamed. "Why is there a hairball on my manuscript? That's disgusting!"

I looked over at the large gray cat snoozing on the settee. "Did you do this, Simon?"

Simon lifted his head, yawned and peered at me with half-opened eyes. "Keep it down, lady. Some of us are trying to sleep here."

"Sleep? How can you think about sleeping at a time like this? I leave you alone for just a few minutes and look what happened. Couldn't you have deposited that thing somewhere else?" I shook my head in disbelief. "Or better yet, since you're a time traveling cat, can't you go back in time, redo the whole thing and cough up that hairball on the dock instead of inside of my boat?"

"Geez, lady. No need to get so worked up. It's just a bunch of stupid papers." Simon stretched his front paws in front of him and then rolled over on his back. "Besides, if you didn't want anything to happen to it, you shouldn't have left it out on the table. Now, scratch my belly."

"You don't deserve to have your belly scratched." Simon turned over and glared at me. I glared back. After a few minutes, I looked away. I should have known better. Simon always wins staring competitions.

I sat next to Simon, scratched behind his ears and sighed. "Now what am I going to do. I just printed that out so I can do some final edits before I send it to some beta readers."

"Use your nails, lady." Simon turned his head slightly so that I could scratch under his chin. "What's a beta reader anyway?"

"They're people that offer to read a draft of your story and give you helpful advice about how to make it better. I'm just about finished revising the novel I wrote during last year's NaNoWriMo and really need to get some other people's perspectives on it."

"Good luck finding anyone, lady. Nobody wants to read a stupid cozy mystery set in a marina."

"But, it's got a cat in it. Everyone likes cats."

"Oh, please. The cat in your book is stupid. If you were going to write about a cat, you should have written about one like me."

"It's enough that I have to live with you, Simon. The last thing I want to do is write about you too."

Simon jumped down from the settee and walked over to the galley. He washed behind his ears and then stared at me pointedly. "Hey, lady. It's time for my afternoon saucer of milk. Hop to it."

I held my nose with one hand and picked up my manuscript gingerly with the other. "Okay, just let me clean this hairball up first."


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This month's IWSG question was a good reminder that I need to do something with last year's NaNoWriMo project. The working title is "Murder at the Marina" and it's a cozy mystery (around 70,000 words) featuring a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth. And, yes, a cat features in the mystery. Fortunately, she's a nice cat, not a crotchety old cat like Simon.

I'm a few weeks away from having a draft ready to send to beta readers for review. If you're interested in being a beta reader, leave a comment or shoot me an email at thecynicalsailor (at) gmail (dot) com and I can send you more details.

If you want to read about my first experience with having my writing critiqued and beta readers, check this post out.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Did you win? Did you go on to publish your project? Have you ever had a cat cough up a hairball on anything important? Interested in being a beta reader for me?

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80 comments:

  1. I love Simon! Yes, travel back and leave that fur ball somewhere else. I am lucky, my cat Mavie hasn't had one for awhile, but that only means it's coming. Eventually. I wish you much luck with Simon, your lovely cozie mystery, and your amazing talents. :)

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    1. Yep, I think Mavie is just waiting for the right time to leave you a little present. Probably when you're in a rush to get out the door or on something important of yours :-)

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  2. Your link to beta reader experiences just brings me back to this page!

    I may be available for a bit of beta reading, depending on what my time is like when you're ready - give me a shout & will take it from there :)

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    1. Thanks for letting me know, Angela. Hopefully, it's fixed now. I really appreciate your offer to beta read! I'll touch base with more details and we'll see what's possible then.

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  3. I've participated in and won NaNo, but November has become a busy month for me, and now I'm a cheerleader. I'm happy to do so, but I do miss it. Good luck with your cozy mystery and with Simon. :)

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    1. We can all use all the cheerleading we can get :-)

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  4. My cats cough up hairballs on anything and everything. My old cat used to purposefully do it in my shoes whenever he was annoyed with me, like if his food was late or I forgot to clean his litter box.

    IWSG November

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    1. Cats do have a way of getting their point across :-)

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  5. Thank you for the monthly dose of laughter! Simon never disappoints.
    I've tried it twice but don't think NaNo is for me.
    Good luck with your cozy mystery!
    Happy IWSG Day!

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  6. Simon is at least funny.
    That's cool you are almost ready for some critique partners.

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    1. It's pretty scary, but cool at the same time.

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  7. I love Simon and anyone who has been owned by a cat has cleaned up throw-up. It goes with the territory.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. You hit the nail on the head - one is owned by a cat, not the other way around :-)

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  8. Simon is such a typical cat! I swear I never met a cat who wasn't absolutely self-absorbed.

    Good luck with your (hopefully hairball-free) manuscript!

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    1. It is rare to meet a non self-absorbed cat.

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  9. I like NaNo. I did publish my first NaNo novel, but I self-published it so I'm not sure that fits everyone's definition of success. I did have it edited, but it needed another round after I published it, which was totally embarrassing, but I survived and lived to tell the shameful tale. :P
    I would love to beta read! I'll send an e-mail today. I may not know how to write mystery that well, but I do love to read them.

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    1. Thank you so much Tyrean! I got your email and have emailed you back.

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  10. Good luck this month! I wish I had time to beta, but this month is dedicated to writing and finishing my MG mystery.

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    1. Good luck to you as well working on your MG mystery.

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  11. I hope the cat in your novel isn't TOO different from Simon. :) We all love him, no matter how annoying and bossy he can be.

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    1. The cat in my novel is a much sweeter kitty. Maybe I'll have to write in Simon-like cat in the next book in the series.

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  12. Great post! Best wishes on NaNoWriMo. I've won every year since a friend introduced me but have never done anything with the results. ~sigh~ I'm better at short stories, actually. Wish I could beta read for you. I've sort of maxed out my obligations this season. Happy Writing!

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    1. Oh, I meant to thank you for leaving a kind comment on my blog's buzzard photo. I adore the fact they gather here every spring. The other day we saw what's called a kettle (their flight pattern, so named for the comparability to bubbles in boiling water) that must have soared a mile or two high and contained around a hundred of the bald, red headed birds. Good times!

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    2. No worries about beta reading - I've actually gotten lots of offers which is so lovely. I've added you as a NaNo buddy. Good luck this month!

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  13. I love your Simon stories :) The hairball goes a long way toward consoling me for being allergic and therefor unable to have a furry companion.

    Shoot me a line. I would be happy to Beta-read your mystery. I write cozies myself, though without cats.

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    1. Thanks so much for your offer, Rebecca! I'd love to get your perspective especially as you also write cozies. I'll send you an email with more details.

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  14. My cat yacked up in my shoe! Good luck with your next project!
    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. Yuck! That would not be a good place to find a hairball.

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  15. Don't get me started on hairballs........ or seasick cats......

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    1. Seasick cats - that wouldn't be any fun whatsoever :-(

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  16. Simon would be a funny cat in a story. That's for sure.

    Your story does sound interesting. If I had time, I would help you out. :( I hope you find willing beta readers.

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    1. I think the problem with Simon is that he'd take over the whole book and the human characters would be reduced to just petting him and fetching him milk :-)

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  17. Yay on completing the story and going through the process. I have to admit I like revising better than drafting. Good luck with everything.

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    1. I'm the complete opposite - I'd much rather draft than revise.

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  18. The cat is wrong. There are people who would be happy to help. I'm slow, but happy to throw my two cents in everywhere. And if the story is half as fun as Simon's banter, I think I'd enjoy the story!

    eseckman(at)ymail(dot)com is my email if you need help when you're ready.

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    1. Thanks so much for your offer, Elizabeth. I'll be in touch :-)

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  19. Replies
    1. Wow, thank you! I'm overwhelmed by all the support and offers of help I'm getting from everyone.

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  20. Congrats on finishing the story! Simon sounds wonderfully grumpy.

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    1. Well, I don't know about wonderful, but he sure is grumpy :-)

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  21. Another great story about Simon.
    I have an advice for you. If you don't want your time-traveling cat spoiling your manuscript pages with hairballs, don't print them. Sent files to your beta readers through emails.

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    1. I don't know why the imaginary Ellen is so old school about printing stuff out. The real Ellen (that would be me) doesn't even own a printer :-)

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  22. Ugh! So far no hairballs in this house, but I know they are coming.

    I actually adore Simon. I'd read a story about him. Don't tell him though - it will go to his furry little head.

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    1. Unfortunately, Simon can read. He's seen your comment and now he's even more impossible to live with.

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  23. I love your creative answers to the IWSG questions. :)

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  24. I haven’t had a cat in a long time and fortunately that long ago feline wasn’t prone to hair balls. You raise an interesting question here, why wouldn’t the cat go back in time as hock the hair ball elsewhere? Perhaps he tried and it ends up in the same place in every timeline. That’d be my luck! Congratulations on your past NaNo performance!

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    1. Oh, interesting theory. Simon can't change what's going to happen even if he travels back in time. I'll have to ask him about that :-)

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  25. Best of luck with your new story .. from a woman who has picked up MANY a hairball in her day!

    Heather

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  26. Hairballs! We've all had our fair share! I'm heading over to read your beta story... :)

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    1. Hairballs seems to plague cat owners, or should I say, people who are owned by cats.

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  27. Simon is awesome! And I need to make sure he never meets my Hemingway - two peas in a pod. Although Hemi is more likely to hop up and "help" me while I'm trying to type than hack a hairball. He also thinks the keyboard is for napping.

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    1. I think Simon would agree - keyboards are definitely for napping.

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  28. I'd be happy to beta read your mystery (sans hairball please!) if you still need more readers. I'm not an expert by any means, but I did read and edit a novel that a friend self-published last year!

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    1. Thanks - you're awesome! Looking forward to catching up once you're down here.

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  29. Sounds like NaNo has worked for you before. Good luck with the project!

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    1. It didn't work well the first year I tried it but it worked much better last year.

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  30. I am delighted by your cat, Simon! Have you read any of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries by Rita Mae Brown? There's an element of your writing style that reminds me of those books. In any case, this had me chuckling out loud several times over. At this point in my life, I don't have the bandwidth to be anybody's beta reader, but I'm hoping that will change once I finish up my masters program at Lesley University. I may have missed it in this post, but did you say whether or not you're doing NaNoWriMo this year?

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    1. I love the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries! I am doing NaNo this year. I was on the fence about it, but in the end decided to go for it.

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  31. You grabbed me on the first sentence. You have a real gift for capturing the cat and it's mode and antics. Great read. Thanks for visiting my blog. Sea ya next month.

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    1. Simon basically tells me what to write :-)

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  32. Hey, stopping by Ms. Cynical to say "thanks for Feeling Nosey? and stopping by my blog."

    And, uh, I see Simon -who's gleefully sharpening his nails with a file- is glaring at my famous tweedy-weedy blazer, so I'm a gonna do what I'm known to do...

    "I'm OUTTA HERE!"

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    1. It was a pleasure - you have a fun blog :-)

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  33. Oh, those hairballs! Simon is a handful. I like the idea of a marina mystery, especially one with a cat. Have fun with all the editing!

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    1. Is it possible to have fun editing? I haven't figured out how to do that yet :-)

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  34. Ah, hairballs. I have a lot of memories regarding hairballs. lol

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    1. I think every cat person has memories about hairballs :-)

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  35. I love your cat stories. Hairballs? Good thing I'm a dog lover. That cozy mystery sounds great. Good luck.

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    1. That is the nice thing about dogs - no hairballs. And they listen to you and don't ignore you.

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  36. Hhahaha cats. Congratulations on wrapping up the story!

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  37. Believe it or not, but I have actually never seen a hairball, or cleaned one up. I grew up with cats, but they were indoor/outdoor ones and did all their nasty stuff in the yard, I assume.

    Not joining in NaNo, but I just realized I might as well, since I plan on writing heaps this month. Well, on working on my memoir heaps anyway, which is a combo of writing and editing. :-) You know I am always up for helping a fellow writer/blogger/sailor friend out when it comes to beta reading. Just need to know the deadline, and put you in cue.

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    1. Thanks, Liesbet - I've sent you an email on beta reading.

      You are one lucky lady to have escaped hair balls...so far :-)

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  38. Simon, Simon, Simon. Really? A hairball on a NaNo project?

    Best of luck with your cozy mystery! I'd offer to beta read, but unfortunately life has gotten decidedly hectic as of late. BTW, sorry for being late to visit. *wince*

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