Carol Van Natta on Pets in (Author's) Space! #Pets
My muse is from outer space, and I am owned by cats. This probably explains why I write space opera, and why cats are in about half my stories. Their latest appearance is in Cats of War, my novella in the upcoming Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 science fiction romance anthology.
The photo below is of two of our six cats “helping” me write and insisting all stories are vastly improved by the inclusion of cats, preferably rescued. The bigger, gray cat is the Resident Goofball, and usually a pretty good sport. The smaller pale cat is tiny, but she is the Dowager Empress of the Known Universe, and demands love and adoration from all.
Author Carol Van Natta with a lap full of “helpful” cats.
This, by the way, is what happens when the Empress does not get sufficient love and adoration.
Being disrespectful to the Empress has consequences.
Since my cats insisted that cats be the stars of my Pets in Space story this year, I felt it was only fair that they help me promote the story. I commissioned a lovely pair of wings suitable for cats to wear.
I know, you’re laughing. Authors are completely nuts, and I’m no exception.
Should you ever be so inclined, here are tips for cat cosplay.
1. Choose the right cat. For example, the Ginger Tabby (see above) is convinced the world is out to eat him. Another of my cats would look like the Hindenberg blimp with wings. The Empress is too tiny. The other stripey cat (see victim, above) would destroy the wings in 10 seconds flat. The basement-loving cat has too many places to hide. That leaves the Resident Goofball.
2. Choose the right costume. Last year’s costume was a bit heavy, and the cat fell over. (Yes, I’ve done this before. No, I did not learn my lesson. I mentioned that I’m nuts, right?).
3. If you are crafty in the clever way, you can make your own costume, and custom fit it to your cat. If your skills are iffy, like mine (see #2 above), commission a professional. These lovely wings came from the multi-talented Jessica at Wings, Charms & Things, who I met at a convention. She even tried them on her own, long-suffering cat, who she had to bribe with chicken to gain cooperation.
4. Unless you have five or six arms, recruit a helper for the photography session. Holding the camera, the cat, the costume, and the props all in one place is enough to turn a well-meaning author to hard drink.
I love all my cats dearly, but they are not designed war, like the hero cats of my story. They are also not telepathic spies and thieves, or top-secret military projects. Nor do they have opposable thumbs (no door or can opener would be safe) and nor can they fly (thank goodness; the house would be a shambles).
In Cats of War, the lead heroine is Ferra, a repair technician. The following excerpt is Ferra’s first introduction to the cats. The setting is a factory in the middle of a swamp, where Ferra is working off a restitution sentence. It’s better than being in prison, but not by much. Ferra’s dreams slip into waking hours, compelling her to go out in the rain to look for two creatures she’s pretty sure don’t exist.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A creature rose to its feet and shook water everywhere.
A picture blossomed in her mind of another dark catlike creature, waiting in the dark beyond the fence, unable to fly over it because of a broken wing.
She lit one of the small hand lights on her wrist. The creature in front of her stood knee-high at the shoulders and had the hint of an orange-striped bat-type wing folded flat along its side.
“You’re real.” It was all she could think to say.
The creature switched its long tail in annoyance.
Yes. Help us. Help him.
Once again, the image of the injured creature flashed in her mind.
She’d never imagined sentient animals, not in her wildest dreams. It was too cold and damp to be a dream. And too cold and dangerous for an injured creature to be stuck outside.
She eyed the midnight-black creature. “If I raise the perimeter fence, can he crawl under?” She visualized the memory of lifting the fence to push the yellow crate outside.
She edged closer to the inner fence and considered her options. She needed to get her multitool to the bottom of the fence line. Any human on the walkway would make the overhead lights come on. However, the motion sensors were trained to ignore animals, or the lights would be blinking on and off all night.
I can do it.
She looked down to see the creature sitting at her feet, looking up. The gold eyes mesmerized her for a moment. She got the impression the creature was female and anxious, and wanted comfort. Just like Ferra.
She gave herself a mental shake. Solve the problem. Deal with the mysteries later.
She fumbled under the rain slicker to find the vest pocket. She wrestled out the tool, selected the correct setting, and turned it on, then offered it to the creature.
We are not creatures. We are cats. Unmistakable pride accompanied the declaration.
“Of course you are,” she whispered. “Everyone knows cats are telepaths and have wings.”
The cat took the multitool in her mouth. We are superior cats.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Read more in CATS OF WAR, one of eleven new, original stories in
Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3.
CATS OF WAR:
A repair technician must convince a disgraced military sub-captain to help her save two special cats before trouble engulfs them all.
Military Subcaptain Kedron Tauceti counts the days until he can leave the rare metals factory and his current duty station as the liaison to the Criminal Restitution and Indenture Obligation system. The post was protection—and punishment—for exposing a theft ring in his previous assignment. He's more than ready to get his career back on track on a new base halfway across the galaxy, even if it means leaving behind the one person who makes him want to stay. Not that he's told her, because technically, he's her warden.
Former financial specialist and current indenturee Ferra Barray, hiding from her past, only has three months to go on her restitution sentence. She's lucked into a tech repair job, and If she keeps her head down, she'll be free to figure out her future. Unfortunately, the local boss behind every illegal scheme in the facility wants her to steal for him, and she's running out of excuses. And now the heroically handsome Tauceti, who she hoped could help, is transferring out.
Everything changes when Ferra discovers two genetically modified cats. Saving them takes incredible risks. She doesn't know what she'll do if she can't convince Tauceti to take them with him and keep them until she's free to come for them.
When trouble erupts at the factory, it might just be the cats who save them. Find out what happens in this exciting stand-alone novella from Carol Van Natta's award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series.
Pets in Space is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity.
Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with disabled U.S. veterans and first responders.
Open your heart and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 3 today!
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Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FNXKQJZ
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About the Author:
USA TODAY bestselling science fiction and fantasy author Carol Van Natta writes the award-winning Central Galactic Concordance space opera series and the Ice Age Shifters paranormal romance series. She shares her Fort Collins, Colorado home with a resident mad scientist and various cats, all of whom would love to travel to the stars.https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Authors/Carol-Van-Natta