A Mouse in the House…again

It is the sound no parent wants to hear at 3 a.m. Lexie was crying. Now she is 9-years-old so she rarely wakes up crying. I stumbled to her room, assuming she had had a bad dream.

“I saw something,” she said. “I saw something crawl across the floor!”


At first in my sleepy state, I assumed she had been dreaming. Then I noticed her cat Nikki was looking at a pile of toys by the closet. I had no desire to know what kept her interest (plus I had left my glasses by my bed) so I did what many women would do – I called for my husband.

Yes, I am thankful he was home because it was a mouse in the pile of toys. Now before you think we live in a shabby, mouse-infested place, let me assure you we do not. What we have is three cats, two dogs and a pet door that is always open. This means that at any time, any of these animals can bring home their latest catch.

We have had all sorts of live creatures – frogs, snakes, lizards, bugs, birds and of course mice. Many times I have had to try and chase these animals out of the house or pick up their dead bodies. While my husband hates snakes, I actually find them the easiest of the creatures to handle. Well, I guess handle is the wrong word. I don’t pick them up but they are easy to shoo with a broom out the door. Much easier than the birds that can’t seem to find the open door or the mice and lizards that run the wrong way.

Now the few mice we have had in the house are not tiny little mice that fit on your palm. These are field mice. Heck, for all I know they could technically be rats. It isn’t like I would know the difference. All I know is that I don’t want them in my house.

So, the other night, my husband came to our rescue. He trapped the mouse in a box and released him back outside. By now, we are all awake. The kids and I are sitting on Lexie’s bed. I reassure them that it is only one mouse and there are not likely to be more in the house.

They both request my husband check their rooms. He spends a good amount of time doing that while I talk to them about Nikki protecting them (even though she most likely is the reason the mouse was in the house.) We tuck them back into bed and return to ours. We are both surprised that the kids didn’t protest more about staying in their own beds.

We have spoken too soon.

A few minutes later, we can hear the kids talking. Lexie wants to sleep in Jase’s room but of course she doesn’t want to sleep on the floor. There could after all be a mouse down there. Jase’s bed is not really big enough for the two of them now. (I’m not sure it was ever big enough but they have slept in it together before.)

I bet you can see where this is going…yep, they both ended up in our bed. Thankfully, our bed is a King but even then, it is tight to have four people in it.

I know plenty of parents who allow one or more of their kids to climb into their bed at night and sleep. I have never been one of these parents. I like my space. I do not want a kid sleeping on top of me or kicking me in the legs or back. I simply don’t sleep well with them in my bed so it is very rare that the kids sleep with us.

But there it was 3:30 a.m. and we were all in the same bed. Nikki even tried to join us but I think she realized there just wasn’t room.

I’m happy that ordeal is done. I must say I don’t like additional live animals in the house at night. I would prefer the kitties keep their catches to the outdoors but I know that isn’t going to happen. So unless we are willing to make them indoor kitties, then I am just going to have to get use to the occasional nighttime visitor. I just hope my husband is here for the next one too.

Leaving puppy Sadie Rose while on vacation

Back in October before we adopted our Cocker Spaniel puppy, Sadie Rose, I suggested we hold off on looking for a puppy. I knew that we had several trips planned, including two in June. I thought it would be best to wait and get a puppy AFTER all of our trips.

The puppy bug had everyone, and I was out voted.

IMG_1593So we adopted Sadie Rose. She has been a great dog and has fit nicely into the family. The kids love her. But what were we going to do when we went out of town?

Our first thought was to have her stay at my in-laws’ place. They have two dogs, and we thought she could easily stay with them.

When we asked, my in-laws said that one of their dogs is a digger. He sometimes digs under the fence. They were worried Sadie Rose would get out. Their property is large enough that it would be hard for them to check everywhere the other dog might dig. So my in-laws decided that they would drive to our house daily to check on Sadie Rose and our three cats.

P1030299Because Sadie Rose is still a puppy, we don’t let her have free reign of the house. We have a gate up to keep her in our kitchen and dinette area. And she has a dog door allowing her unlimited access to the backyard so daily visits would work.

Our first trip was a short weekend trip to Dallas to visit the Lego Discovery Center. My mother-in-law came over for an hour on each day we were gone to give Sadie some company. Sadie was eight months old at the time. She did great.

But that was only two days. The real test was coming. We would be gone for eight days at the beginning of June for our trip to Disney World.

On our first short trip, we left her a new bone to chew. This time we left her with a few new toys and a bigger bone to chew. We hoped this would keep her busy while we were gone. We also left on the radio to provide some sounds for her. (The radio is on most days so nothing new except it wouldn’t be turned off at night.)

During our trip, we received a few text updates that Sadie was doing fine as were the cats. This helped the kids – though honestly, we were in Disney World and they were often too busy to worry about the puppy. By the end of our trip, we were eager to get back and see her. She was so happy to see us.

I knew a few days after our return that it was probably now not even a memory that we were gone. She is just happy to have us home and to play her favorite game – laser tag. But we had one additional short trip – four days to the beach for my husband’s annual legal conference.

As before, she did great. Nothing was destroyed, and I know she loved the extra attention my in-laws lavished on her. But she couldn’t be happier than with us at home. And with no more trips planned this year we will just be home raising our puppy.

Developing characters recap

I have written numerous posts giving information and hopefully some insight into the realm of novel writing. As it is Spring Break here in Texas, I thought I would take a break from writing something new and recap my posts on developing characters for your novel. If you missed these or just want to re-read them, click on the “read more” link to see the rest of original post.

What’s in a Name? Picking the right name for your characters

If you are a parent, you know how much you labored over the perfect name for your child. Now imagine you need to do the same thing for over a dozen or more characters. Yikes! Read more….

Developing a realistic antagonist

bigstock_Shadow_Man_469091As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have begun working on a new novel. Luckily for me, I began developing the premises for this novel a few years ago. But one area that I didn’t really work on is the antagonist.

The antagonist, the person that will try to thwart your hero and provide conflict for your story, is one of the most important characters to develop. Most authors spend a majority of their time developing the main character. The same amount of time and effort should be devoted to creating a realistic antagonist. Read more…

Reasons your protagonist needs a sidekick

Batman has Robin. Harry Potter has Ronald Weasley. Fred has Barney, while Frodo Baggins has Samwise Gamgee. And who could forget, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Yep, we are talking about sidekicks. Read more…

How much do you need to develop minor characters? 

So you know that you need to fully develop a background and motivation for both your antagonist and protagonist and of course, their supporting cast (sidekicks, best friends, and close confidants). But how much do you need to develop minor characters?

Well, that all depends on how minor they are. Read more…

The importance of character flaws 

No one wants to read about perfect characters that always smile, act polite and eat their vegetables. No one is perfect and readers don’t expect your characters to be perfect. In other words, everyone has flaws and so should your characters. Read more…

Cats as characters in your novel 

ToshRecently, I wrote about dragons in my fantasy writing series. Today, I would like to address using cats as characters. Now, I chose cats because I am a cat-lover. But these same ideas could work just as well if you wanted to use dogs, horses or some other animal. And much of this can be used for other genres besides fantasy. Read more…

The Character Interview: Getting to know your characters

It is important to get to know your characters BEFORE you begin writing your novel. The more familiar you are with them, the better you will be able to bring them to life.

One method of developing your character is to do a character interview. You ask your character questions and answer back as if you are that character. This gives you a chance to explore some of their background from their point of view. Read more…

Now you may notice that I have not written a post about main characters. Well, that one is coming. Next month I am particpating in the A to Z Challenge (where bloggers post daily following the letters of the alphabet). For the letter M, I will be discussing main characters. Until then, I hope you enjoy this recap.

Today’s Featured Author: Marie J.S. Phillips

Today I have on my blog fantasy/science fiction author Marie J.S. Phillips. Please enjoy this excerpt of her book, The Furlites of Aroriel: Book 1 – On Matissia Wings.


Thorius proceeded cautiously, getting a feel for the controls. By the time they merged onto the main road through town, he handled the small craft smoothly. Thorius maneuvered through the sleeping town easily, passing the Fundamental School he and Murkuria attended. A pang of regret flashed through him. He would miss the school.

At Gabbruss’ central hub, he turned right, onto the street that led out of the tiny village. Ahead, the wide road wound through the snow-covered Sepur and Sunip trees of Burstal’s largest forest. Murkuria took a moment to admire the snow-swept trees. The ancient, twisted, gnarled old trees reached into the grey sky, their long needle-covered boughs thrashing in the winds. How many such storms had those old trees lived through? How many more would they experience? Many, she mused, so many she could not imagine them.

Murkuria returned her attention to the road ahead. So far, everything went well. Could she and Thorius escape this storm unscathed? She kept silent, not wishing to distract him.

Thorius guided the vehicle with feigned assurance. Every tiny buffet the small craft took from the wind tossed his heart into his throat, and flung his stomach into the tip of his tail. Iggie’s nervous twittering twinged along his nerves, and he fought his rising annoyance. To yell at the Matissia to be quiet would likely anger Murkuria, and that he did not need. He shut Iggie’s crying from his mind, concentrating on the task at hand. Ahead, the thinning forest told Thorius he approached the main highway that cut through Burstal. Thorius accelerated the craft onto the main road. The shuttle swooshed onto the thoroughfare, spinning suddenly in a strong gust of wind. Murkuria gasped, clinging hard to the riding handles. She wondered if their obeying the message of her dream would hurt or kill them. She turned to Iggie, who yelped with fear. Murkuria soothed her little friend. Iggie’s yelping turned to soft whimpers.

Blood roared in Thorius’ ears as he struggled with the controls. He struggled to concentrate over his pounding heart. Fortunately, the shuttlecraft obeyed his trembling hands, settling into a smooth ride once they pulled onto the roadway. Thorius inhaled deeply, slowly, calming his racing heart.

Murkuria glanced over at her brother. His grim expression put age into his face. His size added to the illusion, and any Law Officer, on first glance, would never guess a mere child drove this craft. Iggie’s whimpering caught her attention. She glanced back at the frightened little beast, and wondered. Should she have left her with Elia and Ceria? Both loved Iggie, and Iggie liked them, but Iggie adored Murkuria. No, she decided, leaving Iggie behind meant, at very least, her alerting the household to their getaway, and, at worst, Iggie’s death. She sighed, and returned her attention to the road ahead.

Thorius pulled back on the accelerator, noticing the thinning of trees ahead, which meant only one thing — the dangerous Floodlands lay ahead. Thorius’ heart raced, and his eyes roved from road to control panel. Blast the circumstances that forced him to take his aunt’s shuttle instead of his mother’s! On this craft, the lortzing air power control pad eluded his questing gaze. He pulled back on the accelerator again, scanning the panel, but the location of the pad remained a mystery. He reached forward, and digits popped into view from behind the steering bar.

“Ah, ha! Not a pad, but a lever!” he exclaimed, and jabbed at the controls. A sudden gust of wind jolted the shuttle, shoving Thorius against the hatch. To his horror, his wrist slapped the accelerator lever, throwing it forward. The little craft surged ahead, breaking from the cover of the forest and onto the flat, treeless terrain. The swirling white wall of cyclonic winds snatched up the wayward vehicle like a wad of shed hair. The craft careened violently.

Murkuria clamped herself to the cushion, her arms wedged into the riding handles. Her talons ripped into the plush upholstery. Behind her, the backsacks bounced wildly against their restraints, and Iggie clung like a leech to one, screeching with every milliliter of volume in her little lungs, voicing her and Murkuria’s terror.

Desperately, Thorius strove to regain control of the vehicle. He clung to the steering bar, and moved all the flap levers, but the craft did not respond. Iggie’s screeching drilled into his ears, feeding his own dread. The pull of gravity told him they dove in, nose first! The craft thudded to an abrupt body-wrenching halt. Thorius clung to the bar, his breath rasping through his constricted throat. He glanced at his sister. She looked unhurt, but the plush fabric beneath her hands hung in tatters. Iggie’s hysterical shrieking filled the craft. Thorius breathed deep, calming himself. The craft hummed quietly, but snow covered the window. He cut the engines, heartened by the sound of their smooth running. Murkuria gained control over herself, and, in response, Iggie’s screaming subsided. She unhooked the seatbelts, and sat up.

“I am unhurt,” she gasped, in deep breaths. “Are you all right?”

“Yes. We nose-dived into a drift.”

“What happened? Why under the triple lortzing moons did you speed up??”

“Blast it, I did not do it purposefully.” He frowned at her anger. “The wind hit us back there. I hit the lever by accident! Great black sucking holes, Murkuria! I did not want to race onto the Floodlands like a fool!”

“I am sorry. I did not mean to swear at you. I did not really think you did it on purpose.” She tried putting her rumpled fur into place. “Did you find the air control?”

“Yes, but right when I went to disengage it, that wind knocked us silly.” Thorius reached back for a snow scoop. “We had best dig out before we do anything else.”

Without reply, Murkuria grabbed the other scoop. As one, they thrust open the hatches. Wind and snow howled into the warm interior. Iggie pricked her ears, her wailing turning to querulous twittering.

“Stay there, Iggie,” Murkuria commanded sternly, then jumped out into the storm. The icy wind sliced into their thick coats, and, for one of the few times in their young lives, both shivered.

Book Description

On Matissia wingsOn the cold distant world Aroriel — where primate species never developed — evolution spawned a furry saurian race that now reaches for the stars. Commander Geupetus of Clan Darius, offered command of the first near-lightspeed starship, hesitates to take the job, as Furlitian Law forbids his pre-adolescent twins Murkuria and Thorius from accompanying their Clan on this historic mission into interstellar space.

Clan Darius, after careful deliberation as a family, driven by their rigid sense of military honor, discipline, and duty, decide they must squelch their emotions and accept the commission – leaving the twins on Aroriel. But the paradox caused by the Clan’s traveling near the speed of light means that IF the twins ever see their family again, they will be older than their parents!

Distraught, Thorius conceives an outrageous plan to stow aboard the great starship.  He and Murkuria borrow a family shuttle, and whiz off, determined to reach the Space Center before dawn launch. With the help of Iggie, Murkuria’s pet Matissia, they sneak aboard the starship, inadvertently causing the Sunpyne to crash land on an alien world, where dinosaurian life like their own is long extinct, and strange primate beings that call themselves Human populate the planet.

Following a violent first confrontation with two natives, they race to repair the ship. A second meeting, with a family camping out in the wilderness around the ship, results in friendship, and information exchange. However, after their Human friends leave to return to a distant home, the Human military locates the downed starship, just after they complete full repairs. Geupetus powers up the ship, but suddenly realizes his twins and one Cadet are not aboard. With enemy warcraft peppering the area with arms fire, and unable to lower shields to recover his children and crewmate, Geupetus refuses to leave without them.  Will the furlites ever see their beloved home again?

Contains some sexual content.

About the Author 

Maria phillipsBorn in 1957, in Huntington, on Long Island, I’ve been driven by an insatiable love of writing, art, and the sciences since very early childhood. My love of animal tales fueled my desire to write, always manifesting in stories from the non-human point of view. I invented my very first character at six years old, creating picture books with a tree as the main protagonist. I included, on the inside covers, my very own publishing logo, complete with rainbow and shining sun!

Back in my senior year of High School, one of my teachers, Mr. O’Connor, lent me a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring, which changed my reading and writing life forever, driving me into the unique and futuristic world of Fantasy/Science Fiction.

In college, I majored in Art and Earth Sciences, where inspiration fired my vivid and eccentric imagination, planting the seeds for my Furlites of Aroriel novels, Over the years, I honed the complex world of this alien family saga. My husband’s love and support over the decades proved invaluable, since his scientific knowledge and expertise quickly surpassed my own, once we graduated high school, went off to college, and entered the working world. With his help, and that of my mentor, David Ayscue, who passed away in 2010, I completed the first two of these books, On Matissia Wings, and, Earth-bred Matissia-born,which are now available. Other tales are in the works, including the third book in this series called EYES IN THE DARK, CURSE OF KORIS, and FURLITIAN TALES, a book of shorter tales featuring other characters in the prior books.

I dabbled with another tale many years ago, using my Khan as a character, when my big Maine Coon became seriously ill. While battling Khan’s insidious disease, I completed the story, which took on deeper impact far beyond my intended feline fantasy yarn. KHAN: A Maine Coon is the result, a biography of his life, with fictional elements, written from his point of view. My special furbaby’s bit of immortality has collected all 5 star reviews in this short time.

THE WHITE DRAGONS OF SUVWILUR and OTHER STORIES, is a collection of fantasy /science fiction tales from the point of view of many characters, from an Appaloosa Pegasus, a white furry Dragon, and others, including a Collie /Human hybrid created by genetic manipulation by aggressive aliens.

In OLD GENT, I return to those very roots of my writing career, penning the true tale of our beloved ancient Norway Spruce tree and his sapling son, done from the trees’ point of view, reminiscent in style to my KHAN: A MAINE COON, and, an older tale I read as a child called BIG TREE. OLD GENT is available on Kindle and on Lulu in hardcover.
One of my favorite hobbies has been collecting, showing and customizing model horses. This hobby spawned a set of stories I call THE SECRET LIFE OF MODEL HORSES and soon, Volume One will be read to publish!

Owned by two cats, one of which is a very large 25 pound Maine Coon cat, I live with my husband in the rolling hills of northwestern Connecticut.

You can find out more about Marie on her website or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Her books can be purchased on Amazon or Lulu.