Tuesday, September 14, 2021

2T Repeat Performance - Interview With a Cat

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published January 4, 2011 for MeanKitty


Cats with Writers Interview Series, by Meankitty


Living in the Hughes household are year-and-a-half-old brothers Aahz and Caesar II (Mary’s son’s cats, so the grandcats) and grande dame 20*-year-old Skittles. Aahz and Caesar II are tabbies, blond and brunet, and Skittles’s fur is jet black with orange highlights (all natural, dearie).

*Twenty years is anywhere from 85 to 97 in a human, depending on which calculator you use. She’s, um, age-enhanced.

1) So, your human writes books. Does this mean he or she is home all day and easy to access? Elaborate if necessary.

Aahz: Yes and no. During the day she shuts herself in the office with my sleeping chair. Sometimes she’ll even skootch me back during my morning nap, sitting her butt on a full half of my chair! I mean, what part of *my chair* doesn’t she get?

Caesar II: Hey, you’re lucky. When I’m on the chair she’ll lift me and take over the whole seat. Though she makes up for it by setting me on her warm lap and petting me. (Purrs.) Petting is good.

Skittles: She does come out of the office to bring me my 12 and 5 p.m. feedings. But I’m going to have to talk to her about the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. meals and the 3 p.m. treats.

Aahz: Hey. We only get fed twice a day.

Skittles: Whaddya want? I’m old.

2) How large a proportion of her income do you have her devote to your gourmet tuna, cat beds, toys and other basic necessities?

Aahz: Being a writer’s pretty solitary. So we make sure she’s kept active by sending her out for special food, medicine, and treats.

Skittles: I’m old, so I need lots of small meals. And I only eat expensive pate cat food mixed with baby food. Not because of my teeth, which work just fine on crunchy treats. Because it’s expensive, so a great incentive to keep her working hard at her writing. Although I’d rather have a Mustang V8.

Caesar II: I help out by getting her to take me to the vet. That’s super-expensive. And a sacrifice on my part because the vet pokes me with needles. (Turns to his brother.) Although you could go. Why don’t you go?

Aahz: Because you’re the best-mannered of all of us. You get the human women to love you, and never shred any of them with your claws.

Caesar II: Oh yeah. Because then they pet me. (Grins.)

3) What are your techniques for distracting your human during crucial writing moments, just because it's fun?

Caesar II: I like to sit on her lap and spread. My favorite position is my head and front paws on her forearm so she has to type one-handed. And then I demand she pet me so she doesn’t have any hands free!

Aahz: I like to practice my magic tricks. My favorite is where I tug the tablecloth off the table, you know, the table with the big cylinder sprouting green leafy stuff and red flowers on top. I give myself ten points for pulling the tablecloth all the way off. But sometimes when I pull the cloth, the cylinder comes too. It lands on the carpet and makes a big whump! and my human comes running. I give myself an extra ten points for that.

4) What indignities and neglect have you suffered because of your human's writing career?

Aahz: The chair-sharing that she makes me do. Although she does scritch my neck to make up for it.

Skittles: I have to toddle upstairs to remind her of my two p.m. feeding, very annoying. Hey, I’m old! And she won’t even buy me a Mustang 5L V8 to make up for it. Kitty’s gotta have her playthings.

5) Tell me about the felines in your human's fiction. How often do they appear and how big a part do they play?

Caesar II (hissing): She hasn’t had any of us in her books.

Skittles: Since she writes erotic vampire romances, that isn’t a bad thing. I mean, how would I explain that to my kids? Wait—I was fixed—oh, heck, just feed me!

6) On the off-chance your human has yet to incorporate cats into a story, what are your plans for making sure she rectifies this egregious error and demonstration of poor writing skills?

Caesar II: I’m using Big Kitty Eyes to convince her to write a shifter novelba romance with a handsome, dark-haired heroic big cat shifter named Caesar.

Aahz: Or Aahz.

Caesar II: That name’s been used already, in Robert Asprin’s Myth books.

Aahz (bristling): Yeah? Well Caesar’s already a Roman general.

Caesar II (claws coming out): A heroic, very handsome general I’m sure.

Skittles: Hey, you kids, stop that fighting. And get off my lawn…I mean litter box.

7) What works of fiction or cinema involving cats does your human enjoy sharing with you?

Caesar II: I like the Cat Sitter video. I’ll paw that screen for hours to catch the birds.

Aahz: When my human’s trying to wind down by doing puzzles, I like to sit on the puzzle book.

Caesar II: It’s fun to chomp her pencil too.

Skittles: Plebs. I share artistic endeavors with my human and her mate. Specifically, we watch television. I like House, M.D. even though it doesn’t have cats, because I loved Hugh Laurie in Blackadder.

Aahz: Hugh Laurie was in a show before House?

Skittles (ignoring the children): I also like Simon’s Cat videos on YouTube. And Meankitty.com. And Animaniac reruns with my role model Slappy Squirrel. Cranky old lady squirrel squealing her fire-engine-red sports car around town. Awesomeness personified.

8) If you could make one change to your human, what would it be?

Caesar II: She’d give me more pets.

Aahz: Like she doesn’t pet you all the time.

Caesar II: Exactly my point. She doesn’t pet me 24/7.

Aahz: Her hand would fall off. Then who would change our litter?

Skittles: I’m old. Feed me.

User submitted:

Question for pets: Are you happy with your human? If you could tell your human one thing, what would it be?

Caesar II: I’m warm, fed, and well-petted, so I’m happy.

Aahz: Me too.

Skittles: Feed me.


What things does your human do that would mortify it if known? What does your human do that most annoys?

Skittles: Mortifies? Even though she’s way older than me, she wants to buy a sexy red Mustang. Annoys? She hasn’t bought me mine!


Questions for cats: Did your human name a character for you? Are you pleased? If not, why?

Caesar II: Not yet!! But I’m working on it. Mental kitty wavelength big handsome heroic cat-shifter Caesar…

And did your human name you for a fictional character? Hate it or love it?

Aahz: My human’s son named me for a main character in Robert Asprin’s Myth series. Aahz is a demon from the dimension of Perv (a Pervert). My original name was Aladdin. I think Aahz is a step up.


How do you give your writer new ideas?

Aahz: My claws make her think sharp. *snort*

Caesar II: Ha-ha.

Skittles: Feed me.


Monday, September 13, 2021

Night's Bliss Coming November 15

Hold onto your seats, my friends. It's nearly here. The book we've been gnawing our fingernails waiting for. 

Elias's story, at long last.


Night's Bliss will release November 15, 2021

The story is... well, early reviews are amazing and my editor called it a tour de force. And the cover! I'm aching to show it to you. It's worth the wait, I promise you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

3T Writing Tidbit - One simple lesson for nailing the page-turner

I learned something important yet simple with my very first published book, Biting Nixie. I thought it was genius at the time then forgot it a few years later and beat myself blue trying to remember.

Finally, I did. It's not necessarily genius, but it's hella important for writing a page-turning story.

What's amazing is that it's so super easy. Here it is:

Find places that go, "I'm hunting vamps. Oh, look. A vamp."

One of my favorite authors starting feeling stale. Lots of antics but it seemed too easy.

That was the problem. The heroine would bop here and bop there and nothing ever subverted the reader's expectations.

When you have action, you must go A-B-C or risk the reader losing track of the action.

But when setting emotional or consequence expectations of a scene, go A-B-Z or better yet A-B-!@#$!!

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

2T Repeat Performance - Ring in the New Year

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published December 31, 2010 for Tina Donahue's Blog


“Ring in the New Year with the explosively hot The Bite of Silence!” *

*Joyfully Reviewed  

Thanks, Tina, for having me here today!

Ever been in Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Maybe you’ve watched it on television. Did you feel the excitement as the Ball descended at midnight, the crowd counting down the final seconds? 

What if killers were let loose with the New Year?

I love exploring characters in the extremes of action. In crisis mode, I really get a sense of the stripped-down character, the pure essence of who they are. Even better, a crisis shows the essences of supporting characters. Do they give aid or harm? Do they help or get in the way?

That’s why I love Twyla Tafel and her perfect foil Greek vampire Nikos in The Bite of Silence.

The Bite of Silence
© 2009 Mary Hughes

Spartans do it with discipline.

Times Square on New Year's Eve. A million partiers chanting the final seconds. This year, it's a countdown to death.

My name is Twyla Tafel and I've uncovered an insane plot to unleash berserk vampires on those unsuspecting revelers. I have to stop it, armed only with my great admin skills, my useless art degree—and Nikos, a severely hot vampire who I'd love to photograph as a Spartan king roaring his muscular challenge at the Persians.

But Nikos has issues, if you know what I mean. Roadblocks in his psyche that say stop when all I want is go-go-go. See "severely hot", above.

Although if I finally break through Nikos's reserve, I may get more than I bargained for. He's seriously big, seriously built, and more than just a tad dominant. Still, it's time to push my limits and find out who I really am, so I'm willing to try...I think. I'm sure. I'm mostly sure. Until he starts stalking me with those sable bedroom eyes and long, sharp fangs?!

Material Safety Warning: Contains 50% high-voltage sex by volume. 10g seriously hot Greek vampire, 4g curvy, competent heroine, 7g explosive action and gritty language. Made on equipment used to process snarky comments. Some light bondage may occur during handling.

Excerpt (Twyla and Nikos in New York. Twyla has just discovered her cousin is in on the plot to unleash vampires in Times Square):

“I don’t know how I’ll act in a crisis, if I’ll be up to it. I can guess, but you yourself said that’s not knowing.”

Nikos released me, saying simply, “I have faith.”

I jumped to my feet, started pacing. “Take this crisis. What good am I? A compulsion device that works by sound waves. I don’t even have the potential to solve that puzzle. I couldn’t tell a whole note from an octave. What the hell is an octave anyway?”

“It’s from ‘say’ to ‘see’ in the first line of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’.”

I ran the song in my head. Felt the notes with my throat. “Ouch. That’s a leap.”


“But see what I mean? Here’s a crisis and circumstances or fate or whatever has put one of the least appropriate people for the job in the hot seat. What if ‘circumstances’ never come together for me? What if I’m just a dud?”

“Twyla, love. We need to go back to my hotel.”

I stopped pacing. “Pity sex?”

He smiled. “No. I must retrieve my patrol blade. And I think you’ll help me figure this out, but only when your thoughts aren’t blocked.”

Wow, over a dozen words, a veritable novel for the reserved Nikos. “Blocked by what?”

“By a belief that everyone has more to contribute than you.” He guided me out. “A mistaken belief.”

I checked the shadows of the building for Klaus but saw nothing. As we slid into the limo, I said, “A Spartan general, out unarmed? You must feel naked.”

“I have my public blade.”

“Whatever that means.”

In his hotel room, seeing the xiphos and kopis laid side by side on his dresser, I was smacked in the face with exactly what that meant. Twelve extra inches of cold steel. I swallowed. “Guess you’re serious.”

Nikos pressed a button on the shorter one, the xiphos. The double-edged leaf-like blade retracted almost magically. He picked up the longer one, started to rub the edges with a stone. His muscles worked steadily as he honed the wickedly curved blade. “The only way to stop Klaus is to cut off his head.” He paused. “Twyla. You have the heart of a warrior. But I don’t want you to watch that.”

“Don’t worry. I’m not into overachievement.”

He just shook his head and slid the kopis sword into its sheath in a quick, practiced motion. Setting it next to the switchblade xiphos, he turned the full force of his attention on me. “Come to bed.”

“I thought you said no pity sex.”

“More an exercise in confidence building.”

“Oh, that. The mayor has us do yearly team-building exercises. I’d rather have—what are you doing?”

He glided toward the closet, shimmering into mist as he moved. His clothes dropped to the floor. He re-formed while still moving, misting out of his clothes as easily as a man shrugs off a robe. Casually, naturally, as if he did this every night.

Hmm. Maybe he did.

And what was revealed—frickin’ yum. Forget Michelangelo’s sculptures. No mere artist could capture the stunning glide of lithe muscle under skin, the contrast of jet hair against ochre flesh, the gleam of intent in sable bedroom eyes as he grabbed some ties out of the closet and flowed to the bed.

I trotted after him like a puppy.

Nikos snapped the hold-back loops off the canopy. The curtains fell over the bed like sultry saffron promises. With a final scorching look, he disappeared in a billow of yellow.

But I hesitated. What did he have in mind with the ties? He was, after all, a Spartan general who was a tad dominant.

On the other hand—naked male. I climbed in after him.