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spring 2011

Howdy Folks,

Shirl is well into the epublication biz, and we are discovering that there are a lot of similarities to the old mass market game. In the old days the author had to battle agents and editors. In this new electronic world she or her lackey (read me) has to wage war with technology and technocrats. When one of Shirl's bestsellers, WICKED ANGEL had been on one of the big ebook sites for about a month and was beginning to climb the charts fast, one day, it simply vanished. After several attempted phone calls to India, I finally got hold of somebody who put me in email contact with another somebody and a long electronic dialogue commenced. We were not speaking the same language (although their English was better than my Hindi).

Through several levels of tech support, I was assured that the problem would be fixed in 24 hours. Those 24 hours stretched on for a month, while I imagined that the ebook file had been eaten by a marauding elephant since it was such a delicious read. Finally, a month after the book vanished, it reappeared. (You would think it was a paranormal.) By that time Shirl had lost a lot of sales. The book never bounced back and not even an elephant tusk to compensate for the loss. Sometimes, I miss the old days. You could at least cuss the agent or editor, but how do you cuss some guy half-way around the world in "Microsoft Word"? An end to civilized violent discourse! Disgusting.

I suppose Shirl has mentioned the loss of her own true Inky, the little black Bombay tomcat who was her favorite. His big (and I mean BIG, not fat) blue brother Pewter mourned so bitterly that we adopted another little wretch from the shelter. Sooty is also black, but there the similarities end. Inky preferred "mom"for snuggling, but Sooty prefers to climb on me, especially when I am at the computer. In fact, he's on my lap right now, biting my hands and fingers as I type (his way of trying to get my full attention). He really does not seem to give a damn about Shirl. I suspect that is because I am the one who feeds him and occasionally plays fetch with him. But not even I can pick him up even through he crawls all over me when I sit down. He is an example of why many people dislike cats. He's a one-way little pecker, but Pewter loves him and the two play a lot together. That of course was the main purpose of the adoption. But now Shirl tells folks: "Jim has a cat, Pewter, and Pewter has a cat, Sooty. I don't have a cat anymore."

If Sooty has one redeeming quality, it's that fact that he is the funniest looking beast we've ever owned. With long thin bones, he'll never weigh more then 9 pounds or so. He has the largest "puma pouch"(the flap of skin that hangs from the underbelly of a feline) we have ever seen on a cat. When he runs, it flaps back and forth so fast you'd think it would throw him off balance. He has ears like a small jackass and even though he's 7 months old already there's no chance he'll ever grow into them. His face is wedge-shaped, giving him the profile of the head of a golf putter. Our vet pronounced him splendid looking. But then, she thinks hyenas are cute.


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