So that’s how it feels.

I’m sorry to swerve this place away from its writer-centric roots again, but there’s a story I wanted to tell.

This is Simon.

Simon is my cat. True, Shawna brought him hom when he was only a couple weeks old. She found him sick and starving outside a convenience store somewhere between Austin and Abilene. When Shawna presented the diseased miscreant, I gave her one of those looks that says “You’re pushing it, sister.” We didn’t need another pet, and I sure as hell didn’t want one.

And then Shawna had the nerve to set Simon up in my writing room.

And a friendship was born.

Maybe I should stop here and clarify something…

Simon is fine. I realize this sounds like the set up for a memorial. It isn’t.

But it almost was.

Over the last two years or so, Simon has grown to be a healthy cat of 12 pounds or so (did I say healthy?). He’s an energetic little booger when his favorite toy comes out, and he sprints around the living room, doing backflips and swatting at the air when I play with him. It’s amazing he’s so big, really.

Simon is one of my best friends, and I certainly love him more than the other three pets.

And Saturday, Simon went missing.

Shawna and I spent the morning at the Austin Farmers’ Market, then stopped to get some food on the way home home. We were probably gone almost two hours, total. Once we made it home, Shawna led the dogs to the back door to let them outside, and that’s when she noticed that Greta had some how managed to get the sliding glass door open.

Simon was gone.

We checked the neighbor’s yards on both sides. We checked behind the fence, in the doghouse, up the tree, on the roof, and up and down the street. I drove around the neighborhood, and Shawna started knocking on doors.

We did this for two hours, and still no sign of Simon.

So I started working on the MISSING posters.

And I broke down.

Shawna saw me sniffle a little, then grabbed the first batch of posters and went to go hang them up. That’s when the dam burst and I sat at my desk, screaming and bawling for a good ten minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard before, and it was all over this cat that I didn’t want in the first place.

I went to hand out posters to the neighbors, and I cried in front of all of them. I didn’t care. I just wanted my cat back. My cat! I didn’t even lose a dog like most other respectable males. Maybe that’s because I hate dogs. I’m not sure.

After a few more crying jags, I ran out of flyers and went home to print up more. I hit the print button and stepped out back to give one last look for my cat. I did this because I didn’t want to explain to Shawna that Greta owed me blood. So I stepped onto the back porch…

…and there was Simon.

He probably thought I was trying to kill him, I hugged him so hard. I don’t know where he was for those almost three hours, and I don’t care. I care that he’s back, and that I can still feed him every morning and drag him around the living room by his paws at night.

I love you, Simon.

Don’t ever leave.

Hmmm…

Just realized one of the women on last night’s episode of Wife Swap is a MySpace friend of mine. The world just keeps shrinking, doesn’t it? She said she made the uptight uberchristian woman attend a Brian Keene chat. That must of been a blast!

That was nice…

That was just what I needed, a day to just get shit DONE! Over the course of eight hours, I lettered FEAR pages, finished the first three chapters of TOWER FOUR, and spent some quality time on A FAMILY MATTER and RUN LIKE HELL. And I did all of that while not giving in to the urge to watch downloaded episodes of The Shield.

So, when I head off to WHC in a little less that a month, I’ll be pitching a novel and two novellas, all of which will be met with a hearty “Who are you again?”

I left my heart…

You know how the rest of that song goes, and if you don’t, you got some serious problems.

This weekend is APE, the Alternative Press Expo, out in San Francisco. I went with Shawna and Danny from Frequency Press last year. Shawn Richter flew in from Canada. We had a ball. Shopping in Chinatown, munching down food at Noriega Teriyaki, getting crushed at The Isotope. That doesn’t even cover the convention, which was great on all accounts.

In a perfect world, I’d be going again this year, but this isn’t a perfect world, and I’m stuck in Austin this weekend. Don’t cry too hard, now. I’ll be in San Francisco in four weeks or so for the World Horror Convention, where I’ll spend four days drunk off my ass and trying to sell books. Y’know, as great as Comic-Con is, it’s just too hard to drink during the day.

Speaking of Comic-Con, I’d like to go this year, but once again I don’t think it’s in the cards. Between WHC in May and Horrorfind in August, I’m just about tapped out. Shit, I’d also like to go to Necon! How the fuck do writers pull this shit off?

Anybody want to chime in with helpful suggestions?