Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Avalon, a cat story for all time

 Some cats need nine lives to make a difference. Avalon only needed one.

Many of us have been touched by a beloved pet. Some of us may have cats or dogs that have been with us for years and they've become members of our families. Recently I had the pleasure of finding one of the most touching animal stories of all time. In her lovely book, Avalon, Amazon bestselling author Vanessa Morgan shares a story of the love between pet and owner, a bond so strong it was seemingly unbreakable. 

I was fortunate enough to read this amazing tale, which is part memoir of Ms. Morgan's life as well. I found her honesty and life story compelling, gritty and poignant. I saw myself mirrored in many of her insecurities, and rejoiced in her triumphs. Mostly I sat amazed in what I read about a feline companion of which I've never seen the likes before.

Avalon is the heartwarming and once-in-a-lifetime love story of a girl and her neurotic Turkish Van cat.

With humor, the author details how Avalon made other creatures cringe in distress whenever he was around, how he threw her dates out by means of special techniques, and how he rendered it almost impossible for her to leave the house. Avalon was so incorrigible that even her landlord ordered her to get rid of him. But beneath Avalon's demonic boisterousness, Vanessa recognized her own flaws and insecurities, and she understood that abandoning Avalon would be the worst she could do to him. Thanks to her unswerving loyalty, Avalon transformed into a tender feline, and even landed a major role in a horror movie. In turn, Avalon made it his mission to be there for his human companion.

Avalon is a memoir for anyone who has ever been obsessively in love with a pet.

Vanessa tells us a little about her writing journey:

"I've always been interested in stories.

As a toddler, I listened to my grandfather's bedtime stories about Laurel & Hardy going on a safari. In my childhood, I buried myself in books. And in my teens, I watched more movies in a year than there were days.

Yet it wasn't until my early twenties that I developed the desire to write my own fictional stories. I lived in London at that time and was completely obsessed with West End theater. During a theatrical performance of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, I suddenly KNEW that I would never feel accomplished if I didn't write something just as beautiful.

In the months that followed, I became well aware of what I wanted to write. I especially liked stories that either scared me to death or provided readers/viewers with a sense of recognition regarding the darker sides of people's personalities and lives.

Scaring people was easy, so I started with that. My first two books, Drowned Sorrow and The Strangers Outside, were supernatural thrillers with one aim: to make readers so uncomfortable and scared they could hardly sleep at night.

My third release, A Good Man, was a mix of both genres. It was still a horror story, but my desire to focus on characters and unravel dark truths was slowly taking the upper hand.

Only now, with my latest book, Avalon, was I brave enough to embrace that honesty one hundred percent. It's easy to just give bits and pieces of the truth and adapt the rest to what you think the story and audience wants to read. I tried that with Avalon as well. It didn't work. If I wanted my book to have an emotional impact, I had to get uncomfortable and reveal the things I tried so hard to hide all my life. It was hard. It was scary. But with Avalon, I finally became the writer I wanted to be."

She is kind enough to share a humorous blurb from her story:

Around three o’clock that night, Avalon was fed up with the strange man in his bed. He plonked his rear down on Gillespillow, complaining fretfully in his ear while tapping him on the face.
After nearly an hour of incessant wailing and poking, more drastic measures were required. The new solution: pushing Gilles out of bed.
Avalon succeeded.
Climbing back under the covers wasn’t an option. Unable to sleep, Gilles got up. "I guess I didn't pass the test."
"Give Avalon some time. Maybe he was just irked because you took his side of the bed."
But Gilles had already understood that this wasn't going to be a one-time event.
For several minutes, Gilles and Avalon sized each other up. Then Gilles said, "I’d better leave the two of you alone now. It’s clearly what the little guy wants."
I swear I could see Avalon smirking when Gilles put on his jacket and left.
Instantly, Avalon leapt onto me, and compensated for the evening before. He entered a kiss-induced trance. This cat was all about exclusivity, and when granted that exclusivity, his love was immense.
"Are you really that happy that Gilles is gone?"
In reply, Avalon looked at me with swoony eyes and purred loudly, then swatted out his paw to urge me to continue to pet him, which I did.
A phone call interrupted our tender moment. It was Gilles.
"There won't be any train to Brussels for hours," he said. "Is it okay if I come back to your place for a while?"
"Of course." His return would offend Avalon, but I couldn’t possibly leave Gilles outside in the rain for several hours.
As soon as Gilles appeared at the front door, Avalon’s pupils widened to a pitch black.
Let's see who's the boss here, he seemed to be thinking.
Being a cat of action, Avalon went through his usual attention-seeking routine: making a selection of irritating noises, scratching the wallpaper, and pushing objects to the ground.
When that didn't work, Avalon opened Gilles' overnight bag and threw out a piece of clothing. His eyes so dark and evil they could be gateways to hell, Avalon stared at his adversary and waited for a reaction. He then pulled out a box of gel wax. Again, he looked up at Gilles to make sure he understood that all this bungling was meant to get a message across. A third object followed, then a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, until there was nothing.
Hell-bent on winning the game, Avalon took Gilles' coat in his mouth and towed it toward the front door. There, he used his right paw to tap the keys hanging from the wooden doorframe.
Avalon’s message couldn’t be any clearer: there was room for only one man in my life. A feline one.

I'd like to thank Vanessa Morgan for being a very special guest on my blog today. If you'd like to purchase Avalon or find her other works and social media, the links are below. She also writes a very special blog for cat lovers all over the world at Traveling Cats. There you will find stunning photos of some of the most beautiful felines and the places they inhabit.

Purchase links for Avalon

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1ImdPRo

Vanessa Morgan is an author, screenwriter, and blogger. Two of her works, The Strangers Outside and A Good Man, have been turned into films. Her short film script Next to Her is currently in pre-production. When she's not working on her latest book, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, digging through flea markets, or photographing felines for her blog Traveling Cats (http://travelling-cats.blogspot.com).

Social media links

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

God Bless America

My husband and I sat in the town diamond of Ligonier, Pennsylvania as it was set up for a brass band concert. Along with all the others, we carried our lawn chairs to be set up all over the sidewalks and streets near the town hall. I observed people talking and laughing with one another. I observed camaraderie and pleasantries being exchanged. As I looked around to all the quaint, charming shops nearby, I thought, this is what bliss is for me. An old-fashioned setting, and old-fashioned ways.

What really caught my attention, is the fact that nobody was on a cell phone. Nobody ignored another by being coldly impersonal with an electronic gadget attached to their ear, or their fingers furiously working the screen of the newest I-phone or gadget. It struck me in its simplicity that this is the very thing we lack nowadays. And this is the very reason I'm writing my futuristic tale about a society where we no longer communicate by speech.

The brass band began practicing their notes, warming up for the patriotic Fourth of July weekend concert. Smiles emanated from every member of their team. You could tell they loved what they were doing. Local cops came by and closed off the road from the rest of the world, and I felt like we were in a cozy cocoon of peacefulness.

Right before the concert, a pastor approached the microphone. A handsome, older gentleman with twinkling blue eyes. I could see by his face that he loved a good laugh. I could see by his demeanor, he had something important to say. He began by telling us all that he was there to give the invocation. He explained that prayer is so necessary in our "new world." God has been taken out of the equation all over our country. And he, the pastor, is one man that is not ashamed to stand up for his beliefs and not afraid to speak the name of God out loud in our society. He prayed for us all, and for our world. He spoke bravely from the heart and you could have heard a pin drop. Applause resounded all over when the man was finished, and as he walked back to where he was going to sit for the concert, many of us wanted to reach out, shake his hand, and tell him just what his words meant to us. I couldn't help but think once again of the dystopian world I'm writing about. How one brave man isn't afraid to speak out in a society which has outlawed words, privacy, and even religion.

I sat in awe as the band played marching tunes, patriotism abounding. Songs with God's name proudly uttered, and a feeling of pride in who we all were at that moment. It is an evening I will not soon forget. Let's be so brave. Let's not allow today's society to take away all that we hold dear. Let's continue to fellowship with one another, boldly proclaiming the name of God. Let's put aside the latest gadgets in hope of reaching out to another human being. What if we change the world one person at a time?

 Yes, God bless America! Please...