... I don't have a cat icon. In fact, I now realize, I have NEVER had a cat icon. This seems like a totally bizarre oversight given my lifelong love of kitties, but anyway...

I've noticed over the past couple of weeks that my eight-year-old calico, Snickers, has started moving quite tentatively, even gingerly at times. She still jumps up onto beds and couches and so on, and jumps down as well -- but when she gets down she stretches herself as close to the floor as possible before making the jump.

If she's in pain, it doesn't seem to stop her moving freely around the house all day, including up and down the stairs, and I can't see any evidence that she's favouring one particular leg or side of her body. She doesn't yelp or yowl when she jumps up or down, only meows at me now and then in a conversational way. Her eyes are clear and bright, her coat sleek, her appetite's as good as ever, and she loves to be petted (even head-butts me until I stroke her). She flexes easily and sleeps in all kinds of positions. But I do get the sense that she's not as comfortable as she should be when walking -- a little wobbly and a little stiff.

Has anybody else had something this happen with one of their cats? I know eight is middle-aged for a cat, but it still seems a bit too young for her to be moving like an old lady.

If she were showing any more alarming symptoms, or seemed to be deteriorating, I'd take her to the vet. But we just spent an unfortunate amount of money earlier this year trying to save our 22-month-old kitten who died of (I think) congenital kidney issues, so I'm hesitant to go that route unless it's really necessary.

Fellow kitty people, any thoughts?
Thanks to the anonymous benefactor who gave me my first virtual snowflake cookie of the day, as well as [livejournal.com profile] tartanshell and [livejournal.com profile] izhilzha for supplying the others. Very fitting on a day when we're getting our first real snowfall of the season here in southwestern Ontario...

I hear that there are storms a-brewing to the south, but at present the snow is drifting from the sky in a picturesque fashion, and the green is still showing through the powder, and I think I shall put on some seasonal music* and make a cup of tea. I might even do some baking -- Snickerdoodles, perhaps.

What about you? What special treats does your family make at this time of the year, and which one is your favorite and why?


--
* That would be actual Christmas carols with some dignity and meaning to them, not the annoying ditties that pass for inoffensive seasonal content. I really think that if I hear anyone's cover version of "Santa Baby" one more time, I will climb up the wall of my local department store and knock the loudspeakers off the ceiling.
No worries about that subject line, I haven't personally had any bad reviews yet (phew!). But then, I've hardly had any reviews yet at all... and I've been thinking about how to handle it when the comments really start coming in.

To any of my fellow writers who may read this, whether you're ficcers or in a critique group working on getting published or (especially) if you're an established pro -- how do you deal with reviews? Do you:

A) read them avidly, good and bad, trying to see what you can learn from them? (And if so, have they actually taught you anything, or just alternately exhilarated and depressed you?)

B) read only the good ones, and ignore the bad? (And if so, how do you manage to do this?)

C) read no reviews whatsoever? (And if so, why?)

I'm still undecided about the whole thing myself. I love hearing nice things about my writing (who doesn't?) but I also don't want to turn a deaf ear to any advice that could help me improve. On the other hand, as has often been said, "reviews are for readers", not the author, and many authors feel that reading them is really not helpful on a practical level and is only likely to discourage you and hurt your confidence in your next project. I'm not sure what the argument is for reading no reviews at all, though.

Anyway, if you have thoughts on this subject, as an author or a reader or a critic, I'd be glad to hear them.
Bet you thought I was going to tweet everything from here on... it's tempting, if only because it's so convenient and demands so little time. But I do remember that I have a proper blog, honest. It's just that I'm pretty swamped right now, with less than two weeks to go until my deadline to hand in Wayfarer and lots of revision yet to be done.

I have a question, though. I've noticed that there seems to be a definite imbalance in the book-related blogs and feeds I'm subscribed to. The majority of them seem highly centered on Young Adult/Teen content and seldom if ever talk about Middle Grade books. I've also noticed that the reviewers I've friended all seem to skew toward the US market, with little or no input from the UK/Aus/NZ side of things.

So, for those of you more firmly established in the MG world and/or located elsewhere in the Commonwealth, what are your favorite MG and/or UK publishing-centric book blogs?
I have a bad habit of coming up with Awesome Things to Blog About in my head and then never writing them down, or talking myself out of writing them. So I put it to you, guv'nor:

Everyone has things they blog about. Everyone has things they don't blog about. Challenge me out of my comfort zone by telling me something I don't blog about, but you'd like to hear about, and I'll write a post about it. Ask for anything: latest movie watched, last book read, political leanings, etc. Repost in your own journal if you are so inclined.

Go to it!
After a week of swearing sweating and tinkering I have updated my website yet again, with a much spiffier and more-like-my-LJ design and new content (check out the logo I made for Knife!).

Only thing is, the pages and graphics seem to load slowly for some reason, even though the graphics are quite small (less than 1K in many cases, and none of them more than 17K). Any suggestions from those more wise in the ways of HTML than I?

Also, I need questions for my FAQ. Ask me questions! What do you want to know about me, about my books, about writing in general...? Even rampantly silly questions are encouraged; I might be able to use one or two of those as well. If you fail at questions, send me LOLcats or links to good fanfic. Something.
Duh -- I pointed you to all my website updates in my previous post, but forgot to ask the question that was the point of the post in the first place:

What do you think about the website as it stands? Is there something you'd like to see that isn't there, or would you like to see more of something that is?

Do you have any questions about me or my writing that you'd like to see answered in a FAQ? (I'm particularly interested in hearing from librarians and booksellers on this point -- but my readers are important too!)

Also, how do you feel about the design? Is it easy to navigate, readable, and all the other things you like to see in a website -- or are there things that you'd suggest I change?

I'd be very glad of any input and suggestions you may have to make, because I really would like this site to be the best it can be. Thanks!
Does anybody on my f-list know of a utility that imports old Blogger posts into LiveJournal? I mean, it seems like the kind of thing lots of people would want to do, surely somebody must have written one by now...?
Well, I couldn't get the LJ fairy to respond to my request to remove the defunct [livejournal.com profile] rjanderson feed, so I did the next best thing. Now I'm signed up as some variation of "R.J. Anderson" almost everywhere I have an online presence, and folks here will no longer have to struggle to remember how to spell "synaesthete7".

But I've been curious about something. If you're a published or soon-to-be published author with a background in online fandom, would you mind telling me what you decided to do with that background once your deal went through, and why?

If you chose to separate your fannish and professional identities, for instance, what factors influenced that decision? Was it your agent's recommendation to hide your secret Bat-identity, or did your publisher require it, or was it just something you felt would be prudent? If the decision was mostly yours, did you make it because you were embarrassed by the thought of people digging up your old fanfics, or because you worried about possible legal repercussions, or because you feared that your fellow pro authors would despise you if they knew? Or was there some other reason?

If on the other hand you've chosen not to hide your former (or present) fannish involvement, what gave you the confidence to make that decision? Have you had any unpleasant experiences that make you wish you'd chosen differently? Or have you found reasons to be glad you made that decision, and if so, what were they?

For my part, I've decided to write under the same pen name I've used for years, and keep my fanfic links page as part of my author site. I've been open about my fanfic writing past with both my agent and my new editor, and neither of them seems to think it's a problem, so I'm going ahead and hoping for the best. But sometimes I wonder if I'm going to regret that choice.

I'd love to get as much input on this as possible, so if you know of someone who fits the bill, please give them the heads-up. Anonymous commenting is welcome for authors who prefer to be discreet.
[livejournal.com profile] yunitsa wins the contest in my previous post: the answer is, in fact, Snape.

Any guesses for the #2 most used word in my journal archive? Hint: it's another fictional character, and it isn't the Doctor. (Or Maud, in case you thought my icon was a hint.)

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] drmm guessed the correct answer: Harry.
So I just ran LJArchive on my journal (no, I'm not worried about losing my LJ account nor am I planning to move, but the recent kerfuffle reminded me that it was time to do a backup) and when you look at the Word Count meter, there is one word I have used more than any other since I started posting in 2002.

Leaving out common words like "the" and "because" and so on, can anyone guess what that word is?

Hints:

1. It is a noun.
2. It has more than four letters.
3. I have used this word 594 times, and the possessive version of the word appears an additional 145 times.

First person to guess correctly gets a drabble with the character(s) of their choice. (I know, I know. Try not to be overcome with my creative generosity.)

ETA: Guessed by [livejournal.com profile] yunitsa. Her Snape drabble is here.
Question: Do I want to watch Torchwood? It would be very helpful if someone on my f-list would tell me that it is smutty self-indulgent crap so that I no longer have to be tempted by the surprisingly good reviews I'm seeing elsewhere on my f-list. Thank you.
I know there's at least one of you on my flist, so I thought I would beg for some assistance. My husband's family are all German, and his uncle, who lives in Germany, died last week. We want to send a sympathy card to his widow, but since my husband's German is purely verbal (he left Germany at six and only learned to read and write in English) and I have no German at all, I don't know how to write what I want to say.

In English, the message I'd like to write in the card is "We are so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you." Any reasonable approximation of those sentiments (I know that exact translation is seldom possible) would be greatly appreciated.

And before anybody suggests using Babelfish for the German translation, I should mention that I tried that once with a thank-you card to my husband's parents, and the reaction was not exactly positive. Apparently my original "You are so kind and generous -- thank you! We love you!" came out as something horribly officious and impersonal, like the sentiments you'd get on a form letter from your local bank thanking you and several million other customers "for your valued patronage". Needless to say I won't be doing that again...
And if that subject line started Howard Jones running through your head, you are a true child of the 80's. :)

Seriously, though, I'm speaking to a women's group in just over a week's time and the subject is "love". I thought it might be interesting to start with some definitions and opinions from the general public, and since we're such an articulate lot here on LJ, where better to solicit some?

So. How would you define and/or describe love, in two sentences or less?

Any responses I do use will be kept strictly anonymous, so feel free to speak your mind. Thanks! I look forward to hearing what some of you have to say.

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