Happy Mother’s Day! Teresa Harrison-Best, one of our members from the U.K. kindly send one of her witty poems and illustrations about mothers from a cat’s perspective. Be sure to see her other Mother’s Day poem and illustrations at her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter
Did you know in the U.K. Mother’s Day is celebrated on the fourth Sunday in the month of Lent? Since the Lent days are not fixed, the date for Mothers Day changes every year. This year mothers were honored on March 15.
She’s not bad for a human
in fact she’s rather cool.
A diamond in a million,
a really special jewel.
She loves us absolutely,
despite what we may do.
A woman that’s forgiving,
a trooper through and through.
At four o’clock this morning,
she screamed with such delight.
The mouse we brought her from outside,
we think she found alright.
She even joined us in our game
to find the mouse once more.
A generous gesture shown by her
she’d opened the front door.
The food we get is pretty good,
quite often it is hers.
We always show our gratitude
with stacks and stacks of purrs!
Her folded laundry is superb,
luxuriant and soft.
We always clamber to the top
to slumber there aloft.
If the folded laundry pile subsides,
she doesn’t get too mad.
A little grumble here and there,
but nothing really bad!
We know she really loves us,
she tells us all the time.
She not bad for a human,
as our mother she’s sublime!
In our continuing series of CWA members sharing stories of their cats, we have an inspiring tale from Jonny Payne and his cat, Little Man, the not so little military mascot and adventure seeker.
Have a cat story you’d like to share? Query the CWA blog editor, Layla Morgan Wilde at firstname.lastname@example.org
God Save Little Man!
By Jonny Payne
That is exactly what I prayed aloud during Little Man’s ordeal back in 2012, not once, not twice, not even three times, but on four separate occasions.Little Man was born in a barn somewhere in rural Nebraska on or about April 1, 2002, and was promptly stepped on by a horse. The fact that he was uninjured should have been a clue to his nature. I got him about 5 weeks later while I was still an officer in the United States Air Force and stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. The connection between us was immediate.
Just before he reached one year of age, he was declared mascot of my military unit. That was about the same time I discovered that Little Man had a thing for garages. In fact, he was right there next to me while I turned wrenches during the restoration of the first car I ever owned: a 1972 ‘Cuda. In no time at all I became well known for telling daily stories about two things: my ‘Cuda and Little Man. And not necessarily in that order.
Over the years, we became closer and closer. We even had our own “man cave” where we piled up in a double-wide recliner and watched Star Trek episodes. Little Man went where I went, and did what I did. Our bond was so strong that, if I went away on a business trip, I had to call and talk to Little Man while my wife, Caroline, held the phone down to him. Otherwise, he continually paced through the house crying for me.
Then on Labor Day 2012, something terrible happened. Around mid-day, Little Man was fine. Within hours he was at death’s door—and no one knew why. Over the next several days, a couple of theories developed based on various clues, and one of them involved the possibility of criminal activity. Little Man spent sixteen days at Catisfaction Cat Clinic in Madison, Alabama. Miraculously, he came home on the seventeenth day.
I wrote and published a book about our lives titled, Mighty Little Man: My Story, His Story, Our Story, which includes the whole story of what happened. But one of the most amazing things about Little Man’s story is something I did not come to understand until a few weeks after the book was published. During that terrible ordeal in September 2012, Little Man was subjected to many, many tests. If his test results were to be believed, Little Man’s condition was “incompatible with life.” Yet, the picture of his eyes on the front cover of my book was taken about one year after his return home. I’m inclined to believe that God saved Little Man.
Jonathon Scott “Jonny” Payne is a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel and currently works as an engineer for the US Army. He and his wife, Caroline, live in Madison, Alabama, with four of the most spoiled-rotten cats in the entire world. He is a graduate and member of the USAF Test Pilot School Alumni and a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association. He has been featured on local television in north Alabama twice and in three major newspapers within the state in which one article was titled, “Super-cat Inspires Grown-Up Cat Book.”
Jonny has written and self-published one book, Mighty Little Man: My Story, His Story, Our Story. His book is available on Amazon and on his website at MightyLittleMan.com He also has his own Blog and Little Man Facebook page.where you can follow his latest adventures.
Melissa Lapierre reviews a heart-warming new book, Purr Prints of The Heart by Deborah Barnes.
Every time we bring a new pet into our homes and our hearts, we do so knowing that the day will come when we will have to say goodbye to them. No matter how many years you have together, this always happens much sooner than we are ever ready. One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Irving Townsend: “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.”
As a cat mom who has had to say that final goodbye 5 times now (I know, that is probably a much smaller number than many of you reading this), I have read many books on coping with the loss of a pet. Purr Prints of the Heart by Deborah Barnes is a must-have for any cat lover’s bookshelf.
From the publisher: Deborah and her beloved cat Ragdoll cat, Mr. Jazz, spent a lifetime together. The bond they shared was special – he was her companion through the best and worst of it all. So when the inevitable happened – the realization he was dying at 15 years of age and she would have to face the painful and difficult decision of helping to let him go, their relationship changed, causing Deborah to learn some invaluable lessons from him about life, love, grieving, and letting go.
Yes, there were times this book made me cry my eyes out. Mr. Jazz and my own precious Tara passed away the same summer, 7 weeks apart. They were both sick for a long time and while reading about Mr. Jazz’s final days, I felt like I was reliving my last days with Tara. The similarities were just uncanny.
On the other hand, Purr Prints filled me with an incredible sense of comfort. Mr. Jazz comes across as such a wise old soul, showing us that our beloved cats cherish every single moment of their all too short lives, and we need to remember to do the same. We’re the ones who forget to live in the present, too obsessed with the past and future. We’re the ones afraid to let go. They are so much braver and stronger than we are, and we have so much to learn from them about what living a full life means.
The loss of a pet is one of the most heartbreaking experiences we ever go through. Sadly, it is also a pain that is minimized by much of society. This book shows that there are wonderful people out there who have shared the same journey and understand that we all need to grieve in our own way. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or to feel the need to hide; it is a kinship we all share. But in the end, the years of joy our precious cats bring into our lives makes the heartache worthwhile.
Happy Caturday! Our guest post is from Debbie Glovatsky, the awarding blogger behind the always entertaining Glogirly Check out her hysterical, retro-style TV spoofs starring her cats every Saturday.
Finding a Forever Home through the Power of a Feather
by Debbie Glovatsky
It wasn’t until I clicked the ‘publish’ button on a blog post announcing some winners in a giveaway event I’d held that something really wonderful struck me.
The sponsors I’d worked with had generously agreed to double their prizes so that winning readers would have an opportunity to select a rescue shelter to also receive a prize.
In the big announcement, I’d included all the shelter names and logos. These weren’t huge prizes – a kitty lounger for one shelter, a pet portrait to help with a fundraiser for another. A few shelters were going to receive a wand toy with dangly feathers. A wash of emotion overcame me as I thought about what a single toy could do.
It was Sunday afternoon in November, about two years ago, when I jumped into the car with an empty pet carrier. I was headed to the Animal Humane Society in Buffalo, Minnesota. There was someone very special I wanted to meet – a tiny orange kitten I’d found on Petfinder.com just hours before while lying in bed with my laptop.
The shelter volunteers introduced to me to “Jackson” and “Herbie.” They showed us into a quiet room and handed me a wand toy with a feather on it.
I sat on the floor, toy in hand, and invited them to come play. They jumped and flipped and twirled, everything was new and exciting to them. It was like they were giggling with delight. Or maybe that was me.
And yes, the thought of bringing them BOTH home was a serious consideration. There was another family visiting though and I could tell they really wanted to adopt one of the kittens.
After an hour or so, “Jackson” decided he’d had enough feather chasing. As I sat cross-legged on the floor, he hopped onto my lap, curled into a little ball and stretched his neck straight up high. Gazing right into my eyes, he purred with the sweetest of smiles. That was it. We found each other.
That play session at the shelter with the wand toy – it was a bonding experience I’ll never forget. And something that’s taught me no gift is too small. That wand toy brought me and my cat, now named Waffles, together forever. That little feather changed each of our worlds. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion a feather can change a lot of worlds.
If you would like to share your special cat’s story, or have an idea for a guest post, email the CWA editor, Layla Morgan Wilde at Layla@laylamorganwilde.com
This week’s Haiku image features Elsa Clair, Susan Willett’s cat. Most cat lovers can relate to the discriminating and demanding tastes of cats. Tell us: do your cats treat you like a waiter they’d rather not tip?
Copyright Cautions for Bloggers by Barbara Florio Graham
Blogging is growing as a way for authors to communicate. But there are concerns you should consider before you start or contribute to a blog.
The first think you need to ask yourself is where your blog is located. If it’s not on your own website, you may be making a huge mistake.
I heard a scary story recently from a friend who works full time as a school librarian. She’s also a published writer who used to write for magazines and newspapers.
However, with the decline in print markets, she started a travel blog. It’s very popular, especially since she always includes photos. She recently met the travel editor of the Montreal Gazette and asked about submitting travel articles. As a sample of her writing, she sent the editor a link to her blog. The editor told her nothing she had already written on her blog could become a travel piece for the Gazette because it had already been published online.
So many writers never think about this when they give their best writing away on a blog, in Facebook posts, or on other online media. Once it has been published – in any form – first rights are no longer available. So if you’ve written something a magazine, newspaper, or other publication might be willing to pay for, you’ve lost that possibility the minute you post it anywhere online.
The issue of ownership of your work is crucial.
That means you should never post anything on a blog that could be stolen, unless that blog is attached to your own website. That offers the protection of your unique URL.
Close to 75 million blogs live on WordPress, with over 100,000 new blogs added every day. That’s great for them, but not so good for their bloggers. How likely is it that your blog post will be read by more than 5 or 6 people? Also, the nature of blogs is that older posts move down, so whatever great ideas or fine writing you posted a week or two ago are never going to be read by anyone ever again.
And you no longer own that material, because it’s been put online by a service you don’t control.
If your blog is on your own website, you have many options. You can repeat or refer to older posts. You can delete something you feel is no longer relevant. You can sell or trade articles with other bloggers, or sell these to paying magazines! The problem of first being published on your blog can be eliminated by removing the blog post in question if you decide to market the article.
There are many advantage to creating your own website, in addition to a safe place to host your blog. You can link to other CWA members, or other organizations you want to support. You can feature your books, providing a link to wherever they are for sale (unless you want to handle sales yourself via your site).
When you create your own bio on your website, you can change the photo whenever you wish, add additional photos, either to the blog or other pages, and update information about recent accomplishments, such as winning a contest.
Remember that you don’t own your work unless you own the media where it appears. Anything you write in a blog hosted by someone else, on Facebook, or in any social media can be taken away from you. We tend to forget that Facebook is a business. They can change how we access the site at any time, and have done that repeatedly over the past year or two.
As a publishing consultant, I see many books that have been published by print-on-demand companies. In many cases, contact information in the book is only for the publisher. So if the publisher goes out of business, your book contains no viable contact info.
When you own your own website, your email can be attached to that, so it will never change if your current ISP changes. It’s also a good idea to use your own name in your email communications and on social media. I don’t always remember who people are on LinkedIn when they post under the name of their company or their nickname.
And just because something is free now doesn’t mean that it will always be free. You have no control over a site that begins to charge users. Notice how LinkedIn is continually asking you to upgrade to their premium service. Other social media are doing the same. But both LinkedIn and Facebook are a very good way to promote your books or your blog. Just make sure you don’t “give away” your best ideas on social media but rather point to your own website URL.
You may wonder why I’m contributing to this blog. It’s because this article was adapted from one already published in a newsletter where I’ve been a columnist for more than a decade. I also used it in a paid presentation for Ottawa Independent Writers, and it will also appear on a website I contribute to regularly. I can do that because I own it. Holding onto rights so I can recycle my work is one of the ways I make sure I’m paid for my work. So don’t copy this; it’s mine.
Barbara Florio Graham was a charter member of CWA, an author, publishing consultant and marketing strategist. Her website is: http://SimonTeakettle.com
Editor’s note: There are instances of blogs and their content scoring book deals in the business and humor/parody category (e.g.,Stuff White People Like) and memoirs such as Julie & Julia and Waiter Rant. And yes, we’d love more blog content from our talented pool of members. Email your submission queries to Layla Morgan Wilde, CWA blog editor Layla@laylamorganwilde.com
Our new blog feature focuses on CWA members and their own cats. If you’d like us to post how your cat(s) came into your life, email your submission to the blog editor, Layla Morgan Wilde at email@example.com. Include an edited Word doc. 500 to 800 words, 1 to 3 clear images of the cats, brief bio, website and social links.
Elaine Faber, who believes God loves cats shares her story about Amber and Truffie. With kitten season upon us, it’s timely.
They were feral cats, living next to my work site. My daughter and I fed the tortoiseshell mama cat every several days as her tummy swelled. As the weeks passed, she came to our call, knowing we would feed her. In time, the kittens were born. Each day we thought, “Today we will see them,” but days passed and we thought the kittens had died.
One day, we saw the three little waifs; the rose-colored kitten and the black male with sticky eyes. His were completely shut. The third kitten, the image of her mother. We filled a cardboard box with towels. I crawled under the bushes, trying to catch them.
“Here kitten, kitten,” I called, and the rose-colored kitten came to me. Into the box she went, and I crawled back for the other two. “Here, kitten, kitten.”
How could they know how their lives would change if they came to me? Toys, good food, immunizations, no fleas, and a warm bed.
“Here, kitten, kitten,” and I had the tortoiseshell by the scruff of her neck. The box trembled with their mewing and scratching. Their cries inspired me to go back for the black brother. I crawled further into the bushes, tried to grab him. My fingers barely touched his soft fur, but he scampered away. My lunch hour was nearly over and I had to leave him behind.
Several months passed and the rose-colored kitten and her sister were fixtures in my house, frolicking up and down the cat pole, napping across my lap, kicking and fighting mock battles, and attacking catnip mice with a vengeance. With full tummies, they curled together on a fluffy bed.
“Here kitten, kitten.” The sisters hear my call and run to me. They reach up my leg, purr and rub their little heads into my hands, begging to be picked up. They don’t remember the day I left their brother behind. But, I do and it hurts me to think of him, living in the bushes, perhaps hungry, perhaps sick, never knowing the joy of a human touch.
You might say, “It’s not his fault. The black kitten can’t know his life would improve if he surrenders. He would come if he had the capacity to understand. He’s afraid and he’s doing what comes natural. He’s just a kitten.”
He’s still there, they tell me, those who catch a glimpse of him from time to time. He’s a feral cat now, one of the untouchables that scoots into the bushes, frightened at the sound of a human step. And so I return to the bushes from time to time, until one day, I hope he will respond and allow me to give him a better life.
There is so much suffering in the world. I think of all the sick bodies I cannot heal, the hungry mouths I cannot feed, the people who live daily under the threat of death for their religious beliefs. This little cat is a symbol of all the suffering I cannot change. He has a body I am able to heal, a mouth I can feed. Here is something I have the power to change! Tears spring to my eyes when I think I’m unable to do even this simple thing…
And so from time to time, I return, crawl under the bushes and call him, “Here kitten, kitten. Please, Lord, let me change just one small injustice in this world. Here, kitten, kitten. Please come to me.”
Elaine Faber lives in Northern California with her husband, four house cats and the three feral cats at the back door. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, California Cat Writers, and Inspire Christian Writers, where she works as an editor for their annual anthology. She volunteers with the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop and on the board of the Elk Grove Friends of the Library. She enjoys speaking at retirement homes and on author panels, sharing highlights of her novels. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines and multiple anthologies.
Ms. Faber writes cozy mysteries. Black Cat’s Legacy; Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer; Black Cat and the Accidental Angel (April 2015). All of Ms. Faber’s novels are available at Amazon.com. and on her personal website, www.mindcandymysteries.com
Thank-you everyone who has sent blog submissions. They’re being sorted, edited and queued up. Please continue sending submissions or inquiries to the editor: Layla Morgan Wilde at firstname.lastname@example.org I’m especially keen to see CWA member profile interviews or Q. & A. of members by fellow members. Let’s support the CWA and each other.
We’re delighted to announce a new CWA blog feature: CWA Member Book Reviews. Our guest reviewer is Melissa Lapierre, a blogger at Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
As a little girl in my playpen I had a cat in one corner and a stack of books in another. Over 30 years later those are still the two things I am always surrounded by…my bliss. This is why cats and books are the focus of my personal blog, and why I was so honored to be asked to be a guest book reviewer for the CWA blog. I couldn’t think of a better book to start with than The Great Purr by Catherine Holm, a 2014 Muse Medallion winner.
With fantasy not being my typical genre of preference (that would be mysteries), I was unsure of what to expect when I started reading The Great Purr. I never imagined that I would be so completely drawn into the magical world created by this talented author.
From the publisher: In a northern Minnesota mining town, cats have always maintained the Great Purr, a force that holds the Real World, the UnderEarth, and the Spirit World together. But when the Great Purr becomes corrupted and threatens to destroy the world, the magical cats of Ironton must work together to prevent disaster. Can Karma use her exquisite sensitivity without it destroying her? Will Target harness his gift of focus at the right time? And will sensual Kali be able to resist the temptation of the Evil that threatens to unravel The Great Purr?
While each character in the book, both human and feline, is unique and vividly portrayed, I had a few favorites. First there is sweet, sensitive Karma, who lost her entire “fur family” as a kitten and then the beloved owner who rescued her just moments before she was to be euthanized. Now she lives with her owner’s son and his wife in a house with great turmoil where she is made to feel unwanted and unloved. There is one particular scene where Karma is trapped in an animal shelter overnight where she remembers her early years that broke my heart. Then there’s the beautiful, three-legged Kali, a “grumpy little cat with the heart of a warrior and a fierce hate of humans.”
Memorable humans include Helen, a woman who experiences powerful grief over the loss of a beloved cat to cancer, and Michael, a tormented man who doesn’t realize the important responsibilities he has.
The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking what a wonderful movie it would make, and in the end I was left with one burning question: is there going to be a sequel??? I would love to have the opportunity to infiltrate these cats’ lives again.
If you’re feeling T.G.I.F., we have some feline Haiku to make you smile.
A Few Catku by Lee Wardlaw
I come bearing gifts!
Do dogs leave treats with grassy
garnish? I thought not.
Stranger coos: “Itty pwetty kitty!”
A fur ball serves as my reply.
Audience bellows bravo!
Cue for an encore.
Plump mouse crouched between
two damp leaves. Sun-warmed sandwich,
Lee Wardlaw has a ”hot off the press” children’s book written in Haiku. Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku is a witty tale of a cat who learns the new family member is a dog. Beautifully illustrated by Eugene Yelchin, Won Ton will appeal to kids of all ages from 6 to 96.