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Wow! What a day we had with our guest, Liz Carlyle! Over 100 comments! Bless Avon and Liz for offering this opportuntiy and thanks to each and every one of you who commented. That’s a lot of kitty litter.

So…can you stand another cat story? This one I can’t resist.

My son came over on Saturday, bringing his girlfriend, who I only met once years ago. So first I greet her, then see my son holding this little guy:

“Oh, a kitten!!!!”
I don’t remember if I even greeted my son.

The kitten spent the afternoon with us, while son helped husband powerwash one side of the house. The kitten did not stop playing, not even once. He ate our cats’ food, used their litter boxes (thank goodness) and explored everywhere.

He absolutely terrified our “tough guys”

The cat who lives on the kitchen table was cordial at first, but then she hissed.

Only our “Mr. Good Guy” was friendly

It was a glorious afternoon.

Alas, the kitten had to go; he belonged to my son’s girlfriend. She rescued him and two of his siblings when they were about three weeks old. They’d been born of a feral cat that she couldn’t catch. She got them in time, because this little guy was calm and friendly, no match for my neurotic felines.

Oh, I love kittens!

When was the last time you held a kitten?

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I’m taking Megan’s slot today on account of on Sunday the Riskies are having a Celebration of Cats and a Super Secret Cool visit from Liz Carlyle (squeeee!!!!). Her publisher will be donating to a cat rescue non profit so you’ll want to stop by to leave a comment this coming Sunday.  In the meantime, since I haz kitties and Megan does not, I am sharing stories and pics of the Jewel household cats.

First up: Jake.

Jake was born under the neighbor’s barn at the bottom of our driveway. There were two litters of kittens, but we were able to find homes for them all. I was living in San Francisco and the time and I took the smallest kitten because I wanted, doh, a small cat to keep my other cat, Jasper (AKA Devil Cat) company.

Jake is 15 pounds of adorable lap cat. The vet believes he must be at least part Maine Coon cat.  This past February, he lost his best buddy, my 22 year old Tonkinese, Jasper. After Jasper died– I am still sad about that, but he had a very long life — Jake slept by the food for 5 days, thinking, I believe, that Jasper would eventually show up there.  On the 6th day, Jake moved out of my room and basically lived in the kitchen for 3 months where he demanded (and got) lots of love and attention from everyone.  Just about when I’d given up on him ever setting paw in my room again, he staked out my printer as the place to be.  And my lap.

Here’s Jasper when he was younger, my friend and companion for 22 years:

Jasper (Devil Cat)

Jasper is the only purebred cat I’ve ever had. The Tonkinese is a cross between Siamese and Burmese and as you can see from this picture, he took after the Siamese in him.  He was very inexpensive as Tonks go because his eyes were not quite the neon blue they should have been. The lady advertised them as “Personality Plus” which he was! He earned the nickname Devil Cat. But he was also extremely affectionate. ALWAYS on my lap! He knew when I was due home from work (said those who were already home) and waited by the door for me.

Left to right:
Missy Mara — Jake’s mother, a feral cat who we finally managed to trap and get to the vet to treat a badly wounded eye and get spayed. For a year she lived in the box spring of the mattress in this room but finally decided people were OK. She rarely leaves this room, actually.

Whiskers aka Nightmare: Whiskers is another rescued cat. At about 3 weeks old she got separated from her mother at the ranch where my son was taking Aikido. She had such a loud meow that some of the students heard her and found where she’d been trapped in a woodpile. And yes, I showed up with my son in time for his class and came home with a kitten . . . small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. She had to be bottle fed and manually stimulated so she could eliminate.

Tiger:  My son’s cat. He’d wanted a cat of his own for a very long time, but none of the cats and kittens we saw were right for him. At a soccer tournament, we had time between games and we went to a nearby mall for lunch and some window shopping. We came home with Tiger.  She is an odd little cat who doesn’t know she’s a cat. She plays with my dog.

Do you have cats or did you? In the comments, tell us about your cat(s). Bonus points for linking your story to the Regency.  And come back Sunday for the Cat Extravaganza!

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Bibliophile and Barbara E., you’re the winners. Please send your snailmail address to my cat, elailah AT yahoo DOT com, and congrats.

In celebration of receiving my author copies of BESPELLING JANE AUSTEN, I’m giving away two copies, here, today! I’ll pick winners at midnight EST (groan, I’m sure I’ll still be up) and post them at the top of this post, so check back in.

To enter, tell me what sort of Regency character your pet would be.

This is by way of a build up to a terrific event this Sunday, September 19, when Liz Carlyle visits here on her charity blogtour, not only giving away a signed copy of her latest ONE TOUCH OF SCANDAL, but HarperCollins has generously offered to donate up to $3,000 ($1 per person per post on the entire blogtour) to Liz’s favorite cat rescue charity, Cat Angels. Wow!

So, here’s my cat. (Liz’s, I assure you, are much cuter and there will be pics of them on Sunday).

This is her usual unpleasant expression, as she expresses concern that the landing really does need to be painted (I put undercoat on about ten years ago. You don’t want to rush these things). She was a stray who, as soon as she realized she was getting three squares a day, ignored us for the next eight years or so except when she was hungry.

You think she looks cuddly? Ha.

But she almost died a few years ago and suddenly got friendlier, realizing that possibly I had something to do with her recovery.

As she ages she is getting slightly friendlier and although not a big sitter on laps (or a “real cat” in my terminology) likes to cuddle up next to you. Every morning she wakes me by affectionately digging her claws into my face and then accompanies me to the bathroom where she gnaws on my shins while I tell her to stop it. When I put food in her dish, which I gather is the whole point of the claws, biting etc. she walks away and sits staring into space.

If you stroke her in the wrong way, absentmindedly, or too much, she bites. Sometimes she just bites for the hell of it. She is absolutely terrified of everyone except me, my husband, my daughter, and inexplicably one of my daughter’s friends a few years ago, who was photographed holding her. (He was also wearing my daughter’s prom dress. It was a strange evening, I guess.)

I think she’d make a good old-style virginal Regency heroine who lives in a gothic mansion. One of those shy ones who then gets mad and throws things. Yep, timid but morphing into a feisty, passionate one with fish breath.

What sort of Regency character would your pet be?

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This will be a quick blog because I still am not finished the book ( due today).

This book is Number 2 in my Three Soldiers series.

The Prologue is set in Badajoz, as in each book:

This book starts at the Battle of Waterloo at Hougoumont:

And it ends in London (or I think it ends in London. I haven’t gotten there yet!)

Today I also have to take “Devil Cat” to the vet (or get my daughter to do it)

And I have to pack for RWA. I bought these two dresses (or at least one somewhat similar to the black one pictured here):

I hope to see some of you at RWA!

I’ll be signing books at the Literacy signing on Weds July 15 and at the Harlequin signing, Friday July 17 at 9:45 am

And don’t forget our informal Risky Regencies gathering in the Bar at the Marriot Wardman Park hotel, Saturday, 4 pm.

Next Monday I’ll do an RWA blog and let you know how the conference went!

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It’s the 299th birthday of the great Samuel Johnson (1709-1774) who created the first English dictionary, and although I originally intended to write something very erudite (or as erudite as I can get) I became sidetracked, so I’m going to throw out a few oddities I found when I was scrambling around online for images and information on Johnson.

First, if you happen to find yourself near Lichfield, Staffs. this weekend, you can drop by the museum that is Johnson’s birthplace. Yes, there will be cake. Lichfield is a mostly harmless city in the Midlands with a cathedral and (many years ago) a great second-hand bookstore, and some rather nice buildings. Johnson, who retained a fondness for his home town all his life, said:

I lately took my friend Boswell and showed him genuine civilised life in an English provincial town. I turned him loose at Lichfield.

Johnson also requested that his heir, his servant
Francis Barber, settle in Lichfield, where his descendants farm nearby today. Barber, originally a slave from Jamaica, was freed by his owner in England, before entering Johnson’s service in 1752. He stayed on and off until the end of Johnson’s life, apart from brief stints as a pharmacist and as a sailor.

Now to the cats. Johnson liked animals, with his favorite cat in his London house being one Hodge. See, I said this was going to be diversionary. Here’s the monument to Hodge (wearing holiday garb), keeping watch over Johnson’s house and seated on a copy of the dictionary.

According to Boswell, Johnson was a bit of a sucker for Hodge:

I never shall forget the indulgence with which he treated Hodge, his cat: for whom he himself used to go out and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble should take a dislike to the poor creature. I am, unluckily, one of those who have an antipathy to a cat, so that I am uneasy when in the room with one; and I own, I frequently suffered a good deal from the presence of this same Hodge. I recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson’s breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, “Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;” and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, “but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.”

As well as going out on oyster buying expeditions, Johnson also went out to buy valerian when Hodge was dying, to make his pet’s last moments more comfortable. Here’s Boswell, Johnson, and Hodge again:

This reminds me of the ludicrous account which he gave Mr. Langton, of the despicable state of a young Gentleman of good family. “Sir, when I heard of him last, he was running about town shooting cats.” And then in a sort of kindly reverie, he bethought himself of his own favourite cat, and said, “But Hodge shan’t be shot; no, no, Hodge shall not be shot.”

What I love about Boswell’s account of Johnson and Hodge is that you can visualize this scene so clearly: Boswell, grumpy and disapproving, rolling his streaming eyes as Johnson coos over his pet and adds cat hair to the fine covering of snuff he habitually wore. Despite his formidable intelligence and his strange tics and behavior (there’s a theory that he may have suffered from Tourette’s syndrome), Johnson was much beloved by his friends.

Any favorite Johnson sayings, cat stories (literary or otherwise)?

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