Stop the Presses! Here’s My New Book!
I’ve been trying to write a cat book for what feels like Forever.
Actually, I HAVE had a completed “cat book” sitting on the shelf, for more than two years. It’s a children’s book (whose title I’ll keep to myself for now), and its plot revolves around a specific cause which I am passionate about. The reason I haven’t published it? ARTISTS! This is a book that requires illustrations– LOTS of them!– and I’ve had cruddy luck with illustrators. At least a half-dozen signed up for the project and then backed out for various reasons. So I gave up on that project. Maybe I’ll get back to it someday.
After this disappointment, I tried to work on a couple of novel ideas. One was an adult romance/ mystery based on some old love letters I found. The other was a cutting-edge YA shocker that I intend to get back to at some point. But in both cases, I kept hitting walls after a few chapters.
Then, I had the blind luck to organize a fundraiser for a local feline rescue group, Caring For Cats. I rounded up a trio of local authors who have published animal-related books. While thumbing through the pages of their nonfiction books, I had an epiphone:
I had enough cat stories to fill up a book! Was my Muse trying to send me a sign that I was going in the wrong direction with my lightweight fiction piece?
Aside from my blog, the only real cat of mine that I ever wrote about was Deej. His story appeared in an anthology called The Third Kingdom, a collection of animal stories by Northern NY authors, published in 2014.
The results: Two months or so of scrambling, scavenging, sweating, brainstorming, remembering, and crying long-overdue tears for the kitties who’d crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
My Life With Cats: True Stories of Real Cats Who Left Pawprints on my Heart is probably the quickest book I ever wrote. The hardest part was digging up old pictures and getting them scanned, then getting the manuscript properly formatted. I’d never realized before how many cats I’ve loved in my lifetime, since many of them were not actual pets but feral cats that I worked hard to try and rescue. It was certainly an emotional undertaking! I found myself crying over kitties I have not thought of in almost twenty years… like Brutus.
I wouldn’t dream of asking you to purchase my book based on my WordPress blog– which is mostly lighthearted, unlike the sentimental book– so I’m letting you read a free sample here. It’s part of Chapter Four: Kittens! And involves my attempt to tame two feral cat families in y neighborhood. I was stopped in my tracks by a mean neighbor.
One day, when I was home alone and Mom was at work, I was startled by a rapping at the back door. An unfamiliar old woman was standing on the deck, scowling through the glass at me. She had a large, hooked nose, and her square face was framed by a faded, old-fashioned kerchief. She wore a long dress, paired with ugly, orthopedic shoes. She was clutching a broom in her right hand. Even though she saw me coming to the door, she continued to rap at the glass with the broom handle. I was worried she’d crack it; then we’d be in trouble with the landlord.
Hesitantly, I unlatched the door and opened it a crack. “Yes?” I asked.
“Your cats?” she fairly shouted, pointing an accusing, crooked finger at me.
Even though she’d spoken just two words, I realized that English was not this woman’s first language. Her accent was very thick. There was a large Greek immigrant population in the area. A Greek Orthodox church stood on Breakwater Road, the main drag.
I guess I must have been staring at her blankly, because she repeated: “You have cats?”
I wasn’t quite sure how to answer her. Technically they weren’t my cats, but they might as well be. Of course, there was no way to communicate this to her in a way that she would understand. So I just nodded “yes.”
“They dig up my garden!” She turned and pointed across the backyard, indicating that she lived beyond the trees that marked the end of our property line. “They always digging!”
“I’m sorry,” was all I could say.
“You better keep them away from my garden! Keep inside!” She nodded at my enclosed porch.
“I- I’ll try,” I said, knowing this was an impossible request. Even if I violated the landlord’s No Pets policy by keeping the kittens inside, what about Alexis and Miranda? I watched the old woman as she hobbled away, half-expecting her to ride her broomstick home.
I told Mom about this frightening encounter when she got home from work. She reminded me that cold weather would be here before we knew it.
“What are we supposed to do then?” she asked. “We can’t keep them all in the house.”
I suggested we let them stay in the garage. It wasn’t heated, but it would be shelter, at least, from the snow and wind.
“But in the spring, they’ll want to go outside, and they’ll go right back to digging up the lady’s garden,” Mom reasoned.
We had to come up with a better plan.
If you are curious to read more, here is the link to purchase the book on Amazon. It is equal parts laughter, heartache and humor. Every dedicated cat lover will find a story that speaks to their heart!
LOCAL FRIENDS AND FANS, I urge you to support our little, independent Watertown bookstore, The Reading Room, by BUYING IT THERE!!!!!! (It’s in Salmon Run Mall.)
FYI, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Caring for Cats, and other cat rescue groups as I stumble upon them.
Thank you so much for your support!