What Happened After The Beetle in the Bathtub

Earlier this week, I posted a short tongue-in-cheek story about a beetle in a bathtub. It was meant to be a little inspirational, and a little humorous. The idea was that if you keep trying, someone might feel sorry for you and help you out. Not long after I posted the story, it actually came true for me.

While struggling up the slippery wall of my own goals, I reached out to someone for information. The information turned into an exchange which got me something I need for much less than it was worth, or than I could remotely afford to pay. I won’t go into details, because I made a promise. Suffice it to say that someone reached down and gave me a boost to the next stage of my climb. I will be forever grateful to this person. But there’s something I’m even more grateful for.

This person’s kindness reminded me to be kinder myself—to reach out and help someone up when I get the chance. It reminded me that I need to look for those opportunities to “pay it forward” even when it means losing an hour or so of my precious work time.  So then the question is, what skills do I have that I could use to help people? I’ve thought about writing a book and donating the profits, as J. K. Rowling has done. I’ve thought about the skills I currently have, and the knowledge I’m trying to collect, and whether any of it is useful enough to  help new writers, or entrepreneurs trying to start a new business.  And I don’t know.

How do you pay it forward? How have people helped you in the past? What kind of help do you wish you could find?

Looking for Beta Readers

I’m looking for a few more beta readers for my manuscripts. Right now I am working on Catspaw, a young adult fantasy novel about a young prince who is turned into a kitten to save him from his evil uncle. Ten years later, he turns back into a human, and goes in search of his lost memories. As he learns of his past and prepares to face his uncle, he discovers that things are not what they seem.

I’m sending this manuscript out to my beta readers soon, so they can read it and tell me what they think…if they liked it…if the story works…if any parts of it are unclear, dull, or just choppy. I will be emailing out a digital file to my volunteers. If you would like to help me out by reading and giving me your opinion, use the contact form and let me know that you would like to be added to my list of beta readers, or email me at mail@jhknightley.com with your preferred email address.

For everyone else, stay tuned for updates on Catspaw!

The Beetle in the Bathtub

Fable for a Monday Morning


One night a big black beetle fell into a bathtub, trying to reach water. The people who lived in the house watched the beetle attempt the impossible climb up the slick sides of the bathtub. But it was only a beetle, so they watched for a while and went to bed, leaving the beetle to continue its insurmountable task. Even the cat left the beetle alone, for it had learned months earlier that beetles taste nothing like spiders.

In the middle of the night, one of the sleepless people noticed the beetle again. It was still there in the bathtub, still making a valiant attempt to climb out of its prison. It hadn’t given up, wasn’t sitting in the bottom of the bathtub waiting for rescue. Having attained a magnificent height of an inch and a half, the beetle clung to the bathtub wall, waving one foot in an attempt to find the next secure foothold.

Admiring the beetle’s patience, the person finally moved the shower curtain inside the bathtub, thinking the beetle might be able to climb out that way. Then the person went to bed, leaving the beetle to figure things out on its own.

In the morning, the person went back in the bathroom, only to discover the beetle had climbed all the way up the shower curtain and was clinging to the very top. Not wanting to share the shower with a strange beetle, the person flicked the beetle off the shower curtain, and it fell down, down, down, into the very same tub from which it had recently escaped.

As the beetle paused to recover from the long fall, the person felt sorry for it and scooped the beetle up into a red plastic cup. Then the person took the cup outside and turned it upside down, dropping the beetle into the soft dirt of a garden bed. The beetle crawled away and found itself a new home in the garden, before anyone else tried to kill it.

Moral: Never, ever give up. Even if persistence doesn’t get you where you want to be, someone might feel sorry for you and give you a hand…especially if helping you is easier than disposing of your dead body.


Starting on Catspaw


I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed today, but in a good way. I’ve just ordered the proof copy of Persnickety’s Book of Bedtime Stories. And a few minutes before that, I finished reading through the rough draft of Catspaw. For anyone who has finished reading the e-book version of Persnickety, this is the story that Gina was writing in “Giant’s Gold.” I wrote Catspaw as a Camp NaNoWriMo novel in June 2012, and hadn’t looked at it since. I was afraid that I would start reading it and discover a ton of errors that would require a major rewrite.

I was pleasantly surprised. I kept finding forgotten treasures in scenes and bits of dialog I had forgotten. I had to force myself to put the manuscript down and go to bed last night, because I was only half-way through by 10:30. I corrected a few typos, made a couple of minor changes, and gave the manuscript to my first beta-reader. Lacking the funds to pay a content editor, I’m hoping he can help me decide if the story works as well as I hope. I’m now waiting for him to read it and get back to me. And if he doesn’t get on it soon, I’ll have to go into the other room and bug him about it. 🙂 The disadvantages of helping family members….

About Catspaw… In June 2012, I had a ten-month-old kitten named Persnickety, who liked to sleep on my bed. (These days, he prefers cardboard boxes and my easy chair.) One day, I looked over at the cat, and thought, “What if he suddenly turned into a human? Well, he’s a boy, so he’d turn into a man. And if I was sleeping, and woke up to find him in my bed, I’d certainly freak out.” Up to that point, I had only ever finished the rough drafts of two Young Adult fantasy novels, so I planned that type of story again. And the story emerged from there.

Catspaw is about a young prince, who is turned into a kitten to save him from a murderous uncle. He finds a home with the daughter of a woodcutter, who lets him sleep on her bed. That is, until Percy turns eighteen, and turns back into a human, with no memory of anything that came before. As his memory of his human past starts returning, he sets off in search of his past, in company with the son and daughter of the woodcutter. But the more Percy learns about his past, the more he discovers that things are not always as they seem.

While I’m waiting to finish Persnickety for publication in paperback, I will be working on getting Catspaw ready to publish as well. Which means I get to go through all this nit-picky, time-consuming editing, formatting, cover creation, and proofing process all over again. I can’t wait.

Other projects on my to-do list are:

  1. Finish outlining Time Will Tell, so I can write the rough draft. I’m hoping to write that one for July Camp Nano. And maybe I’ll be able to write the sequel to that for November Nano.
  2. Get a store plug-in set up on this site, so I can sell my e-books directly. This will allow me to give my readers unlimited access to their purchases for all their reading devices without having to repurchase the book for the new device.
  3. I’ve also got some new short story ideas that I want to work on. I’ll share more on that later, if it works out.

If you’re interested in being a beta reader or proofreader for Catspaw or my other stories, please send me a message privately.