Sunday Link Love
- Ohmygosh, I forgot to link this in my post 7 Favorite Talking Cats, Part 2! It’s a Puss In Boots custom My Little Pony. Appropriate, no? Awesome, yes.
- I’m loving Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read tradition.
- Did you know that there’s an Occupy Writers? It’s true. There is.
- Major thanks to KD Sarge for pointing me out to Set Phasers to Lol! And now I procrastinate on everything forever.
- There’s a BABY MONKEY CAM ON THE INTERNET. And now I procrastinate on everything forever.
- Informative video about how the NYT Bestseller List works:
- More video madness – Kiersten White posted a video this week that somehow managed to make me love Nathan Fillion even *more*:
- Okay, so I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo this November. I admire everyone who does it, but I just don’t think I’m made of the right stuff! Nonetheless, I’m loving all the NaNoWriMo humor that’s going around, such as this handy NaNoWriMo Pyramid of Consumption.
ROW 80 Update
To recap, my ROW 80 goals:
- 1. Finish outlines for the three books.
- 2. After the outlines are finished, write 4000 words a week on KtLO.
- 3. Write a short short for every meeting of the monthly critique group.
Something surprising happened this week, from Wednesday evening into most of Thursday. I just got absolutely possessed by my outline. It was bizarre – suddenly, after spinning my wheels for a couple weeks, I knew what I needed to do! And then I did it. And I felt like this:
No lie, probably some of this:
But don’t tell anyone
Well, sort of. I reached the end and wrote the summary for the last chapter. But it’s not completed. I kind of developed this habit of changing important things but not going back to make it consistent. For example, there are several characters that feature in the first few chapters that no longer exist in later parts of the outline. So that’s something to work on this week, but I’m still kind of stoked because I know a lot of important things now. There will be around 50 chapters spread over 4 main parts. It’s close third person past tense with 3 POVs.
I also made some important decisions about that first ROW 80 goal. You see, I don’t want to take another month (possibly longer) to write an outline for a book that may never be. Ditto on the third book. Moreover, I don’t think I’m ready to write the second outline. For me to write an outline, I have to know the big points on the map – writing the outline is basically an exercise in connecting A to B and so on. But for this second book in the series, I don’t have the major points yet. And from what I do know, all the events in the first book should remain the same. So, the way I see it, there’s no harm in just jumping into writing the first book. I won’t lie – I’m pretty itchy to get down to the whole writing thing!
Long story short, I’m modifying my ROW 80 goals from finish outlines for the three books to finish outline for the first book. And since I’m pretty much done that, I can cross that first goal off my list! Yay!
As much as I would love to start writing KtLO like right now, I really can’t. I never got around to working on my short short for my critique group, and the deadline is approaching fast. It would also be nice if I could rework another short story (not a short short, about 4,000 words) and send it out. In addition, my dad is visiting with his girlfriend this weekend, which is fantastic since I have not seen my dad in two months, but writing time? Not a thing. I don’t know about you, but I think revising two short stories and an outline is enough work for one week.
So! The week after this coming week, I will definitely start writing KtLO. Like, for reals.
Last week, we looked at some great talking cats from different storytelling mediums: Mogget from Sabriel, Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and McTavish from Down the Mysterly River.
This week, we’re going to get sardonic and fuzzy again.
4. Taggle from Plain Kate
Oh, Plain Kate. This book. Trust me – you want this book.
Plain Kate is a deceptively simple tale about an ordinary (read: plain) girl whose excellence with woodcrafting often gets mistaken for witchcraft. She’s not a witch, but she definitely lives in a world with witches, and one of the benefits of living in a world with witches is that sometimes they (at a very steep price) enchant your cat to talk.
This is where Taggle comes in, and I think easily the best thing about is that he is actually a cat. Yes, he’s a cat enchanted with the power of human language, but instead of turning him into a miniature human, the narrative explores what it might realistically be like for an ordinary cat to start talking. Kind of like that dog in Up.
The cuteness! It kills
So what does a talking cat look like? Well, Taggle is constantly asking Kate to pet him, asserting his superiority in hunting and catching things, and just generally being indignant whenever something offends his pride, which appears boundless. For anyone who’s ever been in a close proximity with a cat – this portrayal rings pretty true.
3. The Cat in the Hat from The Cat in the Hat
How could you not include The Cat in the Hat? Seriously. I don’t have much to say about this one, except that it’s an (awesome) cat in a hat!
And that he seems to spend his days causing chaos for kids while their parents are away. That’s a profession I can get behind.
2. Puss In Boots from Puss In Boots
Okay, it does not escape me that there seems to be a cottage industry based on creating memorable children’s characters by saddling talking cats with articles of clothing. The humor here is obvious: It’s a cat! Wearing a thing! Even though cats don’t wear things!
But, as much as we love The Cat in the Hat, Puss In Boots came first.
I suspect that most kids nowadays are more familiar with the character from the Shrek films, and I’m gonna get to the character in a second. But the original fairy tale character is pretty kickass himself. In the original fairy tale, a poor third son inherits a cat which – shockingly! – can talk. The cat promises to make his master rich and powerful if his master just buys him some boots. And the rest is history. I’m a fan of the TV Trope Puss in Boots, which is basically about characters who are hyper-competent sidekicks/strategists that you really don’t want to go to the dark side.
Of course, there’s that Puss from Shrek. And he does not disappoint. You might have noticed that there’s a movie coming out.
Now, normally I’m not a fan of over-extended sequels and/or spinoffs. But I’m definitely interested in this.
Not sure if it’s because of the sheer cuteness -
- or if it’s because being voiced by Antonia Banderas has turned him into a hilarious Zorro parody.
To be fair, it’s probably a bit of both.
1. The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland
Was anyone surprised by this? I mean, really?
Now, to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the Disney movie. For all I know, it could be a great movie. But it freaked me out too much as a kid. I could take or leave the recent movie with Johnny Depp.
No, my love for the Cheshire Cat comes from the original stories by Lewis Carroll. This is a story that needs no introduction, but let’s just say that the story entitled Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is about ordinary girl Alice’s adventures in a strange world called Wonderland.
No portal story is complete without the trickster guide – and the Cheshire Cat is the wonderful epitome of the trickster guide, complete with dialogue that is both rambling and clever. He gives you the sense that everything’s a big old joke to him, which can be rather fun. And at times, this clearly deranged cat also seems to be the closest thing to lucid in Wonderland (he does, unlike some of the other characters, attempt to answer and guide Alice) – which makes you question just what kind of an upside down world this Wonderland really is.
What are some of your favorite talking cats from fantasy literature?
This thing. Have you noticed it? Fantasy books – especially children’s fantasy books – have a lot of talking animals. In particular, talking cats.
Why is this? I could spin you a story about how a lot of writers probably have cats and draw from their own lives and you get the idea.
But let’s not lose focus here.
Cats are wicked cool.
Since realizing that I’m actually deathly allergic to cats, I’ve had to put my dreams of being a cat lady on hold. (So I’ve become a bird lady instead.) Which makes me even more dependent on fantasy fiction for my talking cat fix.
Oh man, it’s been years since I read Sabriel by Garth Nix. So it’s a testament to how good the book is – and how memorable Mogget is – that I still fondly remember Mogget. In fact, I don’t remember too much about the book outside of Mogget. I do remember that the titular character of Sabriel is dragged into a strange land and strange adventures, with only Mogget as a companion for the majority of the book.
And Mogget is pretty much everything you want in a fantasy companion – especially a talking cat fantasy companion. He’s snarky and amusing. He’s mysterious. He knows more than he lets on. When you put the book down between reading sessions, you’ll be wondering, “What is that Mogget up to, anyway?”
6. Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch
I have no idea what’s going on here, but I like it
Okay, by all rights, it’s probably a crying shame to put Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch before Mogget from a book series by Garth Nix. Sabrina is pretty much the picture for kitsch in the dictionary.
Therefore, to understand this decision, you have to understand that Archie and company practically raised me. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in train stations, on the way to my dad’s house. And every time I went, I got a new Archie digest. Not the thin one. The thick one. (My OTPs: Reggie/Veronica, Betty/Reggie when he decides to be nice, Jughead/Betty, Cheryl/Dilton, Archie disappears in a mysterious boating incident.) For a while, I loved Friday nights because that was when Sabrina aired. (Give me a break, I was in elementary school. I think.)
And oh yeah – Salem. He’s not really a cat, or even a witch’s familiar. He’s a power-obsessed warlock that tried (and briefly succeeded, maybe?) at taking over the world. As punishment, he was turned into a cat and forced to act as slave/familiar to Sabrina’s witchy family. Is that not the awesomest backstory in the history of awesome backstories? He’s also the funniest member of the cast. Seriously. Salem is ALWAYS doing something goofy.
Admit it. Salem made mechatronic cats cool again.
Or they were never not cool
5. McTavish from Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham
Let’s get this out of the way – if you haven’t read Down the Mysterly River, then that is a thing for your TBR pile. Bill Willingham is famous mostly for the Fables comics, which I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read that much of (although I’ve loved what I have). After reading Mysterly, I totally “get” how his particularly brand of storytelling could be so successful - Mysterly is a real delight, the closest I think I’ve seen that could work as a worthy spiritual successor to classics such as Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
Having said that, it should be no surprise that Mysterly is basically about a boy lost in a strange land who encounters a lot of talking animals. And naturally, one of these animals happens to be a cat. A wicked awesome cat named McTavish.
If Salem just feigns at being evil and/or wicked, McTavish actively IS evil and/or wicked. He’s also, unlike most talking cats, actually a cat and not just some other thing masquerading as a cat, which means that his particular brand of evil cat logic is so catlike that anyone passingly familiar with cats will have to smile (or grimace) and nod. McTavish is also hilarious, largely due to the fact that he’s a bad guy forced to work with good guys, and there are just so many conversations where you can hear the crickets chirping after McTavish suggested a particularly sadistic/evil/wicked/cruel/callous solution to a problem.
McTavish is the fiction character you never knew you needed.
That’s all for now! Four more favorite talking cats next Tuesday.