Cat Patrick's Blog

December 18, 2015

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo



The man-friend and I went to the Amazon Books store last weekend, and [disclaimer on always loving indies best] it’s pretty cool. It’s like walking into your computer, with shelf talkers that show star ratings and top comments. And! They had the Amazon Echo on display, which is a weird Siri-like thing that sits on your table/counter/desk and helps you with stuff. And by “helps you with stuff,” I mean it can play Pandora. Turn off your lights. Order you some milk. Tell you the weather. Explain the meaning of life. (Maybe not that last one.)


Let me just say that I wouldn’t claim to be particularly tech-forward, normally. But since I met Ms. Echo, I’ve been obsessed. Maybe it’s my tiny, inner geek coming out. Maybe it’s that it takes too long to make my TV start Pandora. Maybe it’s the idea of having someone to boss around who will actually listen. For whatever reason, I find that this holiday season, I’m in love with a girl.


And her name is Alexa.


Here are her official features from Amazon:


Plays all your music from Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
Allows hands-free convenience with voice-control
Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more with Alexa, a cloud-based voice service
Controls lights and switches with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, and other connected devices
Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills–over 95 added since launch


 


All I have to say is that I’m glad my birthday is in January. Just in case Santa doesn’t get the memo.

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Published on December 18, 2015 10:41 • 99 views

December 15, 2015

The people who live in my house will tell you that I have an unfortunate thing for throw pillows. If you or a book lover in your life also enjoys a square bundle of squish and whimsy, here are five decorative pillow options perfect for resting while reading.


1.



Big Books Pillow

I LIKE BIG BOOKS PILLOW from Dasha Alexander Design on Etsy



2.



PERSONALIZED STORYBOOK PILLOW from UncommonGoods.com

PERSONALIZED STORYBOOK PILLOW from UncommonGoods.com



3.



Human Pillow

I LIKE TO PARTY PILLOW from Human



4.



Decorated Room Pillow

READING REWARD SYSTEM PILLOW from Decorated Room on Etsy



5.



Book Worm Pillow

BOOK WORM PILLOW from Seven One Six Designs on Etsy



 

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Published on December 15, 2015 09:24 • 48 views

December 14, 2015

Now is the time when I express myself in t-shirt.



FOLLOW MY BLOG NOT YOUR DREAMS T-shirt from Human

FOLLOW MY BLOG NOT YOUR DREAMS T-shirt from Human

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Published on December 14, 2015 08:53 • 18 views

August 14, 2015

SAILOR


Creative people sometimes work at home. Sometimes, they work in offices. And sometimes they touch the outside of a plane and jet off to other cities to talk about books or just monkey around. But it’s not always easy to stay productive on the road. Here are some of the best hotels I’ve found for writers in the Pacific Northwest. Note: Many of these are best booked on a nice publisher’s dime – or as a treat to yourself after you’ve sold your next manuscript!


Seattle


Hotel 1000 is located downtown in the heart of the action, but once you’re inside, it feels secluded. This boutique hotel has a well-lit sitting room with a modern fireplace in the center, and a cozy library upstairs, both ready to help you finish that next chapter. The restaurant across the lobby from the sitting room will be happy to bring you sustenance, and the spa downstairs is a nice treat at the end of the day.


Outside Seattle


Salish Lodge overlooks the mighty Snoqualmie Falls, which are inspiring year round. Rooms are writing-cozy, or tuck into the library or a nook in the Attic restaurant to type with abandon.


Vancouver


Sutton Place Hotel is definitely a splurge, but it’s lovely and boasts a spa and wood-paneled lounge for relaxing after a hard day typing away. There are lots of little nooks and crannies for doing that typing, and it’s downtown should you need a fresh-air break. Bonus: I’ve spotted celebrities here two out of three times I’ve stayed.


Tip: If you’ve got the time, fly to Seattle and take the train up. The scenery is gorgeous and it’ll give you a few extra hours to write.


Want to take the train the other direction?


Portland


Hotel Monaco in Portland will give you a fish friend during your stay to keep you company. Or, bring your own Canine Dialogue Advisor to make you feel right at home. Parking is expensive but food trucks are nearby, coffee is plentiful and distractions are there when you need them. But only when you’ve reached your word count goal, sucka.


Wanting to retreat into the wilderness?


From the beach to the mountains, there’s no way you won’t be productive at:



Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, Washington
Firehouse Inn in Coupeville, Washington (on Whidbey Island)
Suncadia in Cle Elum, Washington

Comment with your additional suggestions!

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Published on August 14, 2015 23:02 • 15 views

SAILOR


Creative people sometimes work at home. Sometimes, they work in offices. And sometimes they touch the outside of a plane and jet off to other cities to talk about books or just monkey around. But it’s not always easy to stay productive on the road. Here are some of the best hotels I’ve found for writers in the Pacific Northwest. Note: Many of these are best booked on a nice publisher’s dime – or as a treat to yourself after you’ve sold your next manuscript!


Seattle


Hotel 1000 is located downtown in the heart of the action, but once you’re inside, it feels secluded. This boutique hotel has a well-lit sitting room with a modern fireplace in the center, and a cozy library upstairs, both ready to help you finish that next chapter. The restaurant across the lobby from the sitting room will be happy to bring you sustenance, and the spa downstairs is a nice treat at the end of the day.


Outside Seattle


Salish Lodge overlooks the mighty Snoqualmie Falls, which are inspiring year round. Rooms are writing-cozy, or tuck into the library or a nook in the Attic restaurant to type with abandon.


Vancouver


Sutton Place Hotel is definitely a splurge, but it’s lovely and boasts a spa and wood-paneled lounge for relaxing after a hard day typing away. There are lots of little nooks and crannies for doing that typing, and it’s downtown should you need a fresh-air break. Bonus: I’ve spotted celebrities here two out of three times I’ve stayed.


Tip: If you’ve got the time, fly to Seattle and take the train up. The scenery is gorgeous and it’ll give you a few extra hours to write.


Want to take the train the other direction?


Portland


Hotel Monaco in Portland will give you a fish friend during your stay to keep you company. Or, bring your own Canine Dialogue Advisor to make you feel right at home. Parking is expensive but food trucks are nearby, coffee is plentiful and distractions are there when you need them. But only when you’ve reached your word count goal, sucka.


Wanting to retreat into the wilderness?


From the beach to the mountains, there’s no way you won’t be productive at:



Adrift Hotel in Long Beach, Washington
Firehouse Inn in Coupeville, Washington (on Whidbey Island)
Suncadia in Cle Elum, Washington

Comment with your additional suggestions!

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Published on August 14, 2015 23:02 • 59 views

August 11, 2015

weird


My daughters are seven now, and I’ve noticed that the universe of kiddos nearby sometimes uses the word “weird” in a negative way. You know that way, right? When the word is accompanied by a scrunched nose. A mocking tone. Frowny lips.


I like to tell my daughters that everyone is weird in their own special way. To embrace the weird. That un-weird is boring. After the four billionth time of repeating myself, I got to wondering: In what ways am I weird? Let me tell you, the list is long. But here are five randomly-selected ways I’m weird.



The single most important factor in my decision whether or not to purchase a keyboard is the sound it makes when my fingers hit the keys.

 



I’m proudly from a state with only two escalators. (Also, I’m afraid of escalators.)

 



I smell every clean cup, mug or glass prior to use. Often, I will reject these receptacles until an appropriate-smelling one can be found.

 



I laugh inappropriately when people get startled. I’ve been known to write a scene in which a character is startled just to make myself laugh.

 



I never sleep with my limbs hanging off a bed because I think ghosts will touch me in my sleep. Because one did once. Or maybe it was a dream. Or…I guess it could have been one of my weird daughters.

 


How are you weird?

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Published on August 11, 2015 23:00 • 10 views

weird


My daughters are seven now, and I’ve noticed that the universe of kiddos nearby sometimes uses the word “weird” in a negative way. You know that way, right? When the word is accompanied by a scrunched nose. A mocking tone. Frowny lips.


I like to tell my daughters that everyone is weird in their own special way. To embrace the weird. That un-weird is boring. After the four billionth time of repeating myself, I got to wondering: In what ways am I weird? Let me tell you, the list is long. But here are five randomly-selected ways I’m weird.



The single most important factor in my decision whether or not to purchase a keyboard is the sound it makes when my fingers hit the keys.

 



I’m proudly from a state with only two escalators. (Also, I’m afraid of escalators.)

 



I smell every clean cup, mug or glass prior to use. Often, I will reject these receptacles until an appropriate-smelling one can be found.

 



I laugh inappropriately when people get startled. I’ve been known to write a scene in which a character is startled just to make myself laugh.

 



I never sleep with my limbs hanging off a bed because I think ghosts will touch me in my sleep. Because one did once. Or maybe it was a dream. Or…I guess it could have been one of my weird daughters.

 


How are you weird?

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Published on August 11, 2015 23:00 • 47 views

August 9, 2015

melted backspace


Frustrating is too small a word for the feeling of being stuck, creatively. You’re happily writing along and then suddenly all of the words are missing from your brain. You’ve forgotten where your story was heading. Where you were heading. And who put that semicolon there?


I don’t presume to have the keys to some mysterious world where prose flows like hot lava, but here are three tips that often work for me.


 



Hug a tree. Not literally, unless you’re into that kind of thing, but going for a walk, particularly in nature, can release the creativity kraken.

 



Massage your melon. I like to think of this as actually dislodging the blockage in your creativity cortex (which I’m pretty sure is not a thing), but head massages can help. Recruit a nice friend, or go pay your favorite hair salon to give you a massage-shampoo situation. Take a shower with a particularly strong stream. Or, in a pinch, just hang upside down a while. I didn’t go to medical school, but I’m pretty sure that increased blood flow to your noodle is a good thing. Noodle being the technical term, of course.

 



Write something else. But, Cat, I want to finish this story/book/poem/tweet! Yes, I know, it’s the one you want, but is it the one you need right now? The best advice I’ve ever been given is, when really stuck, focus elsewhere. If you tell your piece you want to go on a break – It’s not you, it’s me. – she’ll look prettier when you return.

 



Think of the worst idea, and do the opposite. I love this advice from a friend. When you think of the silliest/most ridiculous/downright worst idea for your next move, then think of the opposite (aka potentially better idea), you can strike gold. Or hot lava.

 


Check out my Just Say No To Writer’s Block board on Pinterest.


What tips do you have for getting over writer’s block?

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Published on August 09, 2015 12:47 • 7 views

melted backspace


Frustrating is too small a word for the feeling of being stuck, creatively. You’re happily writing along and then suddenly all of the words are missing from your brain. You’ve forgotten where your story was heading. Where you were heading. And who put that semicolon there?


I don’t presume to have the keys to some mysterious world where prose flows like hot lava, but here are three tips that often work for me.


 



Hug a tree. Not literally, unless you’re into that kind of thing, but going for a walk, particularly in nature, can release the creativity kraken.

 



Massage your melon. I like to think of this as actually dislodging the blockage in your creativity cortex (which I’m pretty sure is not a thing), but head massages can help. Recruit a nice friend, or go pay your favorite hair salon to give you a massage-shampoo situation. Take a shower with a particularly strong stream. Or, in a pinch, just hang upside down a while. I didn’t go to medical school, but I’m pretty sure that increased blood flow to your noodle is a good thing. Noodle being the technical term, of course.

 



Write something else. But, Cat, I want to finish this story/book/poem/tweet! Yes, I know, it’s the one you want, but is it the one you need right now? The best advice I’ve ever been given is, when really stuck, focus elsewhere. If you tell your piece you want to go on a break – It’s not you, it’s me. – she’ll look prettier when you return.

 



Think of the worst idea, and do the opposite. I love this advice from a friend. When you think of the silliest/most ridiculous/downright worst idea for your next move, then think of the opposite (aka potentially better idea), you can strike gold. Or hot lava.

 


Check out my Just Say No To Writer’s Block board on Pinterest.


What tips do you have for getting over writer’s block?

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Published on August 09, 2015 12:47 • 53 views

January 16, 2015

Ahoy!


My Amazon exclusive is coming to an end and soon COURT will be available for all e-readers. This final weekend, which just so happens to be my birthday weekend, I’m giving away COURT on Kindle for FREE! Happy my birthday to you!


If you’re inclined, I’d love an Amazon review after you read it. The more reviews a book has, the more eyeballs see it on Amazon.


Happy Friday!


DOWNLOAD

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Published on January 16, 2015 08:42 • 9 views