Monday, June 27, 2011

Blogger Mentor Maybe?

Emily, wondering if she's made the right choice.

Emily Rittel-King has interviewed ME about blogging.

Please visit!

She has a great blog so you may want to consider following too.

And please return on 07/01 because I’m hosting an interview with JC Martin, Fighter Writer about her love of martial arts. Her blog tour is to promote Stories for Sendai which raises $ for Japanese disaster victims.

Have a lovely week.

Love, Theresa xo

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Depth and Hope

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and later you can use it in some story.”
- The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy (Thanks, Brooke!)

Dear Blogging Community,

Today, I spent a couple of hours e-mailing everyone who left a comment on my last post. If your e-mail isn’t hooked up to your blogger account, I couldn’t send one to you. Sorry!
Your comments made me teary and boosted me. More than you know. Thank you.
While my blog shares a bit about my life and me, I try to maintain some privacy. Verbally, it’s hard for me to share when things are hard. So I don’t call family and friends to cry and complain.

But I feel things deeply.

I was worried if I didn’t write about my situation, I’d sink into a deep, dark depression.
When I left my assistant job to become a sub, I despaired for four months.

I don’t have the time or the luxury to feel sorry for myself.
But I can use this low point to propel myself.

School ended today.
I need this summer to investigate each and every job I can find that makes sense for me, even if it’s not teaching-related. In addition, I’ll look into obtaining another teaching certification like Special Ed, which may make me more marketable. (And expensive.)
I also need this summer to finish edits on Naked Eye and query. While I wrote it, I had a reader check every three chapters make suggestions (Thanks, Aubrie). Since I’ve finished, I’ve had one reader look through it and make big-picture comments (Thanks, Judy ). And I have another who is line editing (Thanks, Len ).
After the edits are done, I’ll find another reader. Then I’ll query.

On 06/27 (Monday), I’m doing an interview about blogging. Emily Rittel-King interviewed me about what makes a good blogger and popular blog. While I may not have the most popular blog, I think I’ve learned much about blogging relationships.

The act of blogging is selfish. Flock to ME. Look at my BLOG. I WRITE. My words are GOLDEN.
But it’s more than that. We: provide support in the down times, give advice, seek advice, critique, request critiques, promote books, ask to be promoted. Disasters happen, so we band together.

Teaching is hard. Writing is hard. Parenting is hard. Life is hard.

I celebrate your successes.
I feel your failures.
I shake my fist at the drafter of your rejections.
I hope for you.
I plan to be there for you in the future.
Thank you for being there for me.

Love, Theresa xo

P.S. On a different (and funner) note, Brooke R. Busse won a copy of Possession by Elana Johnson. YaY! Visit this young and talented writer’s BLOG .

Monday, June 20, 2011

Midpoint Realization

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

- Oscar Wilde

I’m at a low point in my life.

Really low.

In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever been lower.

If I were the protagonist in a novel, I’d be at the midpoint. Since I’m a panster, I can’t see how the rest of the story unfolds.

But I don’t have high hopes.

I’ve subbed for two years. Two years Included in that time is 6 months as an ETS. I thought that was a step leading to other places.

Seems it was just a temporary step up. I’ve had to return a step down.

Problem was, when I returned to the daily sub position, I kept getting requested at the same school. Everyday, I saw the students and teachers from the higher step. It made me believe I was still on their level.

Recently, I got pushed down. Hard.

I’m sorry about the analogies. But I can’t tell the real story.

1) I need to maintain other people’s privacy.

2) It’s devastating.

3) Even with all the reasons/rationalizations, it still doesn’t improve the humiliation.

So, here I stand on this stupid step. But it’s the trick step in Hogwarts, so I’m stuck. It doesn’t how many calls (resumes), I send. Nobody answers my cries.

I can’t go on like this.

Being a daily sub again after having my own students and classes is just too hard. Last week, I worked in my old, old school. The teaching assistant job I had left to become a sub. For this sub job, the art teacher left instructions for the 5th-grade and kindergarten. I saw she had 2 3rd-grade classes, but no plans. I scrambled through the papers in a mild panic.

Even though I had planned to hide all day, I asked the librarian. I didn’t want to see all the teachers I knew. To admith that two years later, I was still stuck. The librarian thought the 3rd graders might be going on a field trip. A 3rd-grade teacher confirmed this.

It was actually an easy day. But that several minutes of semi-panic was just too much. After having a taste of being a full-time teacher in charge of my own classes, I don’t want to have to do this again.

I can’t.

The 7th-graders who were 5th-graders back then, saw me. They all remembered my name and smiled. A few of them hugged me. Even the boys. I remembered how hard it was to leave that lovely class, where I taught Social Studies and Word Study to become a daily sub.

The “temporary” job was supposed to lead me somewhere.

The previous Friday, I wound up subbing my old Social Studies extended term sub classes. 8th-graders had mostly been practicing for graduation, so no real work was expected. I asked them to tell me about their trip to DC. Then I took them outside.

The 7th-grade was learning about immigration. I talked about Arizona and Alabama wanting to check people’s papers to make sure they’re legal just based on how they look. We talked about where the line is between government protection and interference. That led me to bring up the Wall Street Journal article about YA being too dark, and that discussion I blogged about.

Like another teacher who had been pushed out of the same school, I decided to go out with a bang.

But I returned for 8th-grade graduation. I had promised. While they sang “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, I thought of how poignant the lyrics were to my situation:

“Reaching for something in the distance

So close you can almost taste it.”

Just like I’d thought the 8th-grade graduation song, Firework by Katy Perry, wafting down the hallway explained my state of mind while I was teaching Art the previous day:

“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag

Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?

Do you ever feel so paper thin

Like a house of cards, on blow from caving in?”

All those years I attended school, for what?

I can blame the economy or whatever. In truth, I can’t trust that I’m the teacher I thought I was. I don’t know who I am anymore.

The other day I made a vow about when I "make it" as a writer. I’ve decided to make another vow. When the fall comes, I can’t sub anymore. This summer will not only be spent editing and querying, but also finding an alternative occupation.

Being a Car Insurance Claims examiner got me through graduate school. It’s starting to look again. (Years ago, I made a vow never to do that again. But these are desperate times.)

You don’t even need to leave me nice words or sympathy. I just felt it was false not to share this mess that is my professional life right now.

My family needs to buy a bigger place. I can’t be the one holding us back anymore. Even if I have to take another fecking staircase, I will.

Anywhere but here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Making It

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”

- Albert Einstein

I’ve been thinking about what will happen at some point when I “make it” as a writer. Making it means different things to different writers.

Is it when you have an agent?

Is it when agents fight over you?

Is it when you get a publishing contract?

Is it when publishers fight over you?

Is it when you get a big advance?

Is it when your book hits the stores?

Is it when you sell 100 copies?

Is it when you make back your advance?

Is it when you’re on the New York Times bestseller list?

Is it when you sell a 2nd book? 3rd? 5th? 10th? 100th?

Talli Roland pondered this last question recently.

When these things start happening (and I have to think when and not if), I wonder how I’ll feel. How I’ll react. We can never plan our reactions in advance.

I recall when I anticipated having my son. I pictured him with brown hair and eyes, just like my husband and me. I’d look into those brown eyes and cry.

Here’s what happened:

He came out after 20 hours of labor with 3 hours of pushing. His eyes and hair weren’t brown. And I didn’t shed a tear. Instead I felt relieved. (Can you blame me?)

I don’t know how or when it will happen or exactly what will happen. But I do know that I will be one of the most grateful writers out there when it does.

And this is what I, future published author, VOW:

- I will NOT post about my book every five seconds. (Except for the week or two before the book release.)

- I will NOT have a Twitter account… still.

- I will NOT take it personally if you don’t want to be a part of my book tour.

- I will NOT comment on bad reviews I receive, even though I will probably cry in the privacy of my own home.

- I will not brag about any success because I’ll be too busy pinching myself and waiting for something to go wrong. (Irish people – even half ones - know not to get too big for their britches.)

- I will still comment on blogs, especially to the bloggers who comment on mine. (Though maybe less often.)

- I will still follow people who follow me on Blogger and Facebook.

- I will respond to all e-mails. (Though if you ask me to read your work, I may not have time for that).

- I will remind you that I was where you are and I kept at it. So you can too.

- I will give back in small ways and BIG WAYS.

There’s nothing more warming than seeing authors and agents give away critiques for free just because or to view auctions to raise $ for victims of disasters. We have the power to help. The more power I have, the more I want to help others.

I’ve been blogging long enough to see some authors change when they get agents or become published. I’ve seen others endearingly stay the same. I’m sure it’s not easy. There are deadlines, school visits, filled inboxes, and who knows what else. And often the $ hasn’t exactly poured in so you’re still juggling these responsibilities with a job and/or a family.

Here’s more proof that becoming published isn’t the end all-be all. Read this great article by Therese Walsh at Writer's Unboxed.

Writers, what’s your definition of “making it”?

How do you think you’ll handle it when you get there?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Needing Dark to See the Light

"The books that the world call immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."

- Oscar Wilde

There’s been much hullabaloo over the Wall Street Journal article "Darkness Too Visible" by Meghan Cox Gurdon about YA being too dark.

Eloquent authors have addressed this subject passionately:

Beth Revis

Laurie Halse Anderson

And especially

Sherman Alexie’s article, "Why the Best Books are Written in Blood"

My son read Alexie’s YA book The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian in 5th-grade when he was 11 years old. I knew it had brutal content: poverty, sexual and physical abuse. But I also knew that it had moved a few of his classmates, who recommended it to him. He said, “it was sad, but it had funny parts too”; he in turn recommended it to his friends. And he told me his then 7-year-old younger sister wasn’t ready to read it yet.

I trusted my son’s judgment, just like I trusted his 5th-grade teacher for providing the book. While my son read the story, he shared it with me, and we had several mature discussions.

I agree with Alexie:

“Does Ms. Gurdon honestly believe that a sexually explicit YA novel might somehow traumatize a teen mother? Does she believe that a YA novel about murder and rape will somehow shock a teenager whose life has been damaged by murder and rape? Does she believe a dystopian novel will frighten a kid who already lives in hell?”

On Friday, I told a class of 7th-graders (ages 12 and 13) about the World Street Journal article, especially the part about the woman who supposedly couldn’t even find a wholesome YA cover, so she walked out of the bookstore without purchasing anything. (Hadn’t she ever heard the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?)

They were affronted. They don’t like to be talked down to. They don’t like being told what to read and what not to read. They don’t like adults thinking there are subjects they don’t know about. And they don’t like information that could warn them or help them get through something difficult being withheld for their own good.

They made excellent points.

I think Alexie has a good response for them:

“And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.”

Last fall, these 7th-graders read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson in their ELA class. They were incredulous that it’s been banned. They laughed at the ludicrousness that Harry Potter has been banned. They admitted that nobody bothers monitoring their access to the Internet, movies, or TV that has inappropriate content. They acknowledged that they see horrid things on the news, where it’s not explained. They told me books help them understand their world, so why would anyone want to take them away? They wanted to know why anyone would want to stop them from reading?

They asked excellent questions.

Care to answer Meghan Cox Gurdon?

Alexie can:

“…they are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged.”

My son may be lucky enough to not ever have to face the darker reality YA uncovers, but neither should he be ignorant about it. I’ve always provided my children with books to help them prepare for difficulties, whether it be visiting the dentist or enduring the first day of kindergarten. As they get older, the preparation may be less wholesome but no less vital. Sometimes we need darkness to see the light.

"There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steps to Publication

"I can’t go back to yesterday, I was a different person then."

- Lewis Carroll

There are levels we reach as writers. Some scale the steps, while others stay on one step for what feels like f o r e v e r. But take heart because there are ONLY 10 STEPS:

Step One – Clueless, Sheltered Writer

Started a manuscript. Maybe finished it. Don’t know what to do. Start a blog? Buy a how-to book? Join a group? Contact that cousin who’s brother-in-law’s uncle’s cousin is an editor somewhere.

Or was he an agent?

Step Two – Shiny New Blogger Writer

Watched “Julie and Julia”. Realized how it easy it is to gain a zillion followers without following anyone in return and get some TV time. Then the publishers leave messages on YOUR machine.

And it only takes 1 year.

Step Three – Tarnished Blogger Writer

How do I get my blog to come up on Google? It’s been two weeks and I only have 3 followers, 4 if you count that I’ve followed my own blog by accident, and don’t know how to unfollow. At least my sister left a comment on one of my posts.

When will non-family members find me?

Step Four – Social Networking Overload Writer

Need to have a Twitter Account? Facebook? Tumbler? Linked In? Goodreads? AND blog? Don’t they know I have a full-time job? No matter. My cousin's brother-in-law’s uncle’s cousin is going to get that manuscript any day now. Full-time writer with a big, fat advance here we come!

I don’t have to follow all these people back, do I?

Step Five – Bubble Bursted Writer

All these agent and editor blogs make it sound REALLY HARD to get an agent, let alone a publishing contact. And there are all these RULES. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to send the same query to 50 editors at once. Oh, and I’m not supposed to ask hypothetical questions in queries. Oops!

And I just found out that J.K. Rowling received 17 rejections before getting a publishing contract for Harry Potter. I’d be beside myself if I received that many rejections!

I won’t, right?

Step Six – Drowning in Rejections Writer

After 20 form rejections, one rejecter was kind enough to tell me NOT to begin my book with a dream. So I changed it to a waking up scene, and sent out another 20 queries. Then after receiving another bunch of rejections, I found out NOT to start my book with a wake up scene. So I changed the beginning to the first day of school.

THIS will be the one!

Step Seven – Writing Organization Woes Writer

Joined a writing organization. Attended a conference. I walked around with my nametag, but hardly anyone talked to me. I was afraid to talk to other people because I was too vain to wear my glasses so I couldn’t see anyone’s names. The workshops made me realize all the things I was doing wrong. The keynotes made me cry. I returned home overwhelmed.

And inspired.

Step Eight – Critique Group Conundrum Writer

Joined a critique group. They tore my manuscript apart. I argued every point they made. Then I slumped home, and vented to anyone with a pulse. And ate a pint of ice cream. After a few days, some of their critiques made sense. Secretly, I knew they were better writers than me.

I'm a fraud.

Step Nine – How-To Books Writer

One book said to write 1k words a day while another said not to write everyday while another said to outline my book while another said to I should be a panster. I’m starting to think there’s no one right way to write a book.

What’s a panster?

Step Ten – Multi-Manuscript Writer

Many manuscripts, blog posts, how-to books, critique sessions, and conferences later, and I’m getting the hang of this whole writing, revising, critiquing, and querying process. I've also read a bunch of books in my genre. And I’ve found a social networking balance. Now others ask me for advice, which fills me with pride. Each time I write a new piece, it’s better than the last one. This dream may happen tomorrow or next year, but it will happen. I no longer feel like a poseur.

I am a writer.

"Publishing a book is not a race where the winners come in first. It’s not important WHEN you finish, just that you DO. Oh, and one more thing: Your journey is your own. It won’t look or feel like mine. It shouldn’t. Don’t compare journeys. Just be grateful you can take one more step."

- Elana Johnson

(P.S. Enter to win a copy of Possession by Elana Johnson HERE!)

Writers, which step has been the most difficult one for you?

(P.P.S. Yes, those are my kids walking up the Lincoln Memorial steps last summer.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Elana, Breaking Rules, and Contest

Elana Johnson’s official release of Possession is TODAY! YaY!

Remember when I had that "400 Followers Fiesta" and people had a chance to ask Elana’s question? And then I had a post called "Elana's Answer Awesomeness" when I posted her video answer? At the time, I also posted her answers to commenters’ questions. This is Part II of that interview.

Part I was all about Possession. Part II is about Elana’s writing process and publishing journey. Read and Learn.

Tara Tyler's question:

How did you know the Young Adult genre was your “perfect fit?"

I started writing during a troubled time in my life, and it became the way I got my emotions out. And what creature is better to pour your angst and heartache into than a teenager? YA became a natural fit for my sort of half-therapy, half-hobby of storytelling.

Erica and Christy's evil question:

We want to know about your first book. You know, the one you trunked that you wish no one knew about? Tell us about that one - what didn't work about it and how you knew it needed to go away.

Ah, the dreaded first book. When I read about author’s whose first books make it to print, I sort of hate them a little.

My first book was about an immortal boy who hated his immortality, and the girl who could turn him back into a human. I still think the premise is somewhat decent, but the actual writing is horrific.

I think it takes practice to learn how to craft a story from blank pages, from inside your head where no one else can see, from nothing. So I’m okay with my ten practice novels. (That’s right, TEN.)

There were many things that didn’t work in my first novel: the word count was too long, nothing happened, the reveals were all off, the characters weren’t well-developed, there were too many characters, too much going on, the list could be a mile long.

I knew my first book wasn’t “the one,” during the query process when I didn’t get any partials upgraded. The only fulls agents read were the ones that were requested straight from the query. Also, I always felt squeamish putting my first ten pages after the query. Looking back, that’s a huge indicator that I knew my book wasn’t good. I mean, I didn’t want anyone to read it! How lame is that?

Kulsuma's question:

Have you ever had writer's block and if so, how long did your longest bout of writer's block span? How do you get over it?

Absolutely. I spent most of one summer completely paralyzed, unable to write anything. I didn’t think I’d ever get another idea, and the novel I was working on was terrible. (It’s trunked now, and I do get ideas.)

I think the best way to get over writer’s block is to do something mindless. Read a book. Play a video game. Fold the laundry, wash the dishes, take a shower. When I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. It’s awesome.

Donna's question:

What is the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

Coming up with a premise that doesn’t fizzle out after 10,000 words.

Deniz Bevan's question:

What was the favourite part of your writing/publishing journey, Elana?

Selling the book. That was amazing. Like, for real? Someone’s going to pay me to publish this? Okay!

Janet Johnson's question:

Elana, you have helped so many people in this writing process in so many ways. What is the one thing that helped you the most?

SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder, a book that was recommended to me by my critique group. So, my critique group has been invaluable to me (in other ways too)!

VB Tremper's question:

What has been the biggest surprise on your journey to becoming a published author?

The biggest surprise? Depends on the leg of the journey we’re talking about. During querying, I was surprised the novel didn’t get represented sooner. (I thought it was good!) When I finally got an offer, I was shocked beyond belief. I mean, everyone else said no! How could this be?

I was floored when the book sold. Completely floored. Sometimes I still am.

Sometimes I’m surprised when people say they like it. When I look at Goodreads and see thousands of people have marked it to be read. When someone blogs about it and seems excited as I am. All of that is surprising. I think it would be sad if it weren’t.

Thank you commenters for the wonderful questions and thank you Elana for the honest answers.

Want to check out the Possession bloghop to find out when your fellow bloggers broke the rules? Then head to Nichole's Blog.

Want to win a copy of Possession? Leave a comment on my post telling me when you broke the rules! (Broken writing rules especially welcome.) You’ll earn an extra point for each way you advertise the contest. Oh, and please be a follower of my blog. (And, yeah, it’s international.)

Contest ends 06/14.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lenny-Lee Fest

Lenny Lee has spread sunshine on my blog, so now I’m going to spread some to him. (Send him some too by visiting his BLOG .

Below is a story inspired by real events. It’s dedicated to you, Lenny.

Boo and Patches

by Theresa Milstein

In a small city lived a family named the Bumblebees. Sandy and Randy Bumblebee and their daughter, Mandy Bumblebee lived in a tall brick building with their cat, Patches. Patches was part of the family ever since Mandy Bumblebee could remember. Patches didn’t recall living anywhere else.

But one summer day, the Bumblebees brought in a bunch of cardboard boxes and started putting the entire apartment inside these boxes! Patches didn’t know what it meant, but he didn’t like it. “We’re moving,” Mandy Bumblebee explained.

Patches only travelled when he’d visited the veterinarian for check-ups and shots. The shots were the worst part of the whole ordeal! Patches cried loudly, “MeeooOW!” He closed his eyes tightly for each trip, including the one on moving day.

When they got to the new house with the little yard, Patches watched the Bumblebees and the movers haul the boxes from the old apartment into this new strange house.

Patches noticed that the door was opened as boxes were brought in. Should I go out there? he wondered. He decided to make a break for it and took off out the door, down the steps, and to the outside world.

Patches sniffed the air. The world was so BIG!

Patches sniffed the dirt beneath his feet.

Patches stretched in the grass and announced, “I want to stay outside forever!”

Later, when the Bumblebees realized Patches was in the yard, they saw things a little differently; “You’re an indoor cat!” Sandy Bumblebee reprimanded. But Patches was determined to be an outdoor cat.

A month later a new pet joined the Bumblebee household. A baby squirrel needed a home and the Bumblebees took him in until he was old enough to live on his own. “I’ll name you Boo,” Mandy Bumblebee crooned.

Little by little, Boo grew. First he could only drink milk, then soft food, and soon hard food. First he couldn’t walk, then he took his few wobbly first steps, and soon he climbed on everything and everyone!

As Boo got older, Patches got bolder. Patches would wait at the side of the doorway and sprint out the door as soon as any Bumblebee came home.

One time when Patches got caught and was brought back inside, Boo asked Patches, “Why do you want to go so? You’re an indoor cat.”

Patch testily replied, “There’s a whole wide world out there to explore! I want to be free!”

“Why don’t you go? You are a wild squirrel,” asked Patches to Boo, in turn.

Boo answered, “The whole wide world is too scary. I want to feel safe!”

On a cool autumn day, it was time to send Boo away. Mandy Bumblebee sobbed, but Randy Bumblebee reminded her, “Squirrels are wild animals and can’t live inside.”

Boo looked around. The world was so BIG!

Boo looked back at the Bumblebees.

Boo took a few tentative steps, then pattered down the porch and onto the grass.

Boo didn’t like it outside one bit. As soon as a Bumblebee opened the door to go out, Boo would scurry in. As soon as a Bumblebee opened the door to go in, Patches would dash out. Boo and Patches mostly saw each other in the doorway, coming and going. Boo longed to be safe, while Patches longed to be free!

When Boo was out one day he met another squirrel, curiously picking up acorns from a big oak tree and clambering into a small hole. Then she would come back down to collect more acorns.

“Excuse me, but what is your name and what are you doing?” asked Boo.

“My name is Shaggy Tail and I am collecting acorns to eat over the long, cold winter. I suggest you do the same.”

“Who me?” said a surprised Boo, “I won’t need to do that. I live with the Bumblebees. I’m sure they will feed me.”

Shaggy Tail shook her head, “Squirrels are wild animals. We’re meant to live outside.”

One final autumn day was cold and blustery, but still Patches was determined to go outside. When the Bumblebees went out, he did too. “Come back!” cried Mandy Bumblebee. But Patches wouldn’t return home.

At the same time, Boo squeaked to beg a visit inside, but the Bumblebees couldn’t leave a squirrel home alone all day. Boo watched as they drove away.

Patches knew it would rain. Boo knew it would rain. Animals can sense such things. Boo ran back and forth when the first drops fell, frightened as could be. Shaggy Tail called, “Climb up here.” Boo took a deep breath and scuttled up the oak tree. He peered inside. The nest was full of acorns and it was warm and dry! He snuggled with Shaggy Tail and felt safe. He was home!

Poor Patches wasn’t so lucky. The wind howled angrily as the branches bristled. Patches didn’t know where to hide. With soaked fur, he mewed, “Help!

When the Bumblebees arrived home, Patches jumped into Mandy’s arms. She brought him in, dried him with a towel, and put him near the fireplace to warm. He was home!

The next day, Patches talked to Boo at the windowsill. Patches was on the sill, inside the house. Boo was on the porch outside the house.

“I’m meant to live inside. It’s nice outside, but a cat still needs a home and family to be safe,” said Patches.

“I’m meant to live outside. It’s nice inside, but a squirrel can have a home outside and still be safe,” said Boo.

So the cat and the squirrel visited one another from time to time. They both concluded that for either of them to be happy, they needed the freedom of the outdoors and the safety of home at the same time!