One Author’s Story—I Write About Horses, Cats, and Everything In Between
When I started writing for publication in 1973, I didn’t know another writer—I mean a serious published writer. Yet, I knew they existed because I read their books and articles and watched them being interviewed on TV. I craved opportunities to learn more about these exalted, illustrious, even lucky writers who somehow managed to get published. I wanted what those people had, which I perceived to be, prestige, bragging rights, fame, and fortune.
After spending literally years studying aspects of the writing profession and dreaming of a writing career, I went for it. I would become one of the elite few. I knew I could do it, so I set out to establish a little part-time hobby as a writer. You see, I already had a full-time job as a mom of three daughters, wife to a busy executive, and slave to a large house.
So it was that in 1973 I borrowed a manual typewriter, set it up in the corner of my bedroom, and wrote my first article. I knew by then that I wanted to be a freelance magazine article writer. But what would I write about? I wasn’t an expert in anything, but I had done my homework and I knew that, when starting out, you should write about what you know. Sounds easy enough, right?
I took inventory: I knew about cats, raising children, keeping house, entertaining, sewing… Also during that time, as a family, we were into horses. Hey, I already subscribed to several horse magazines. I knew the magazines, understood their readership, was aware of the types of articles they used and what topics hadn’t been covered. So I pitched a piece on creative things you can do with horseshow ribbons, and that was the beginning of a beautiful career. I kept coming up with article ideas for a variety of magazines, and editors continued to accept many of them. I had a good thing going and boy was I enjoying myself.
In 1978, I decided to write a book—also on the topic of horses. To my surprise, the first publisher I approached issued me a contract. Again, I believe this came about mainly because I’d studied the market, discovered what type of horse-related book was most needed, and I used professionalism in my approach to the editor. By then, I’d graduated to an electric typewriter, but my manuscripts still required a lot of whiteout. Not only that, every query letter and manuscript had to be mailed through the post office. There’s no “send” button on a typewriter. For your younger readers, whiteout was our answer to typos. It was the delete button of the time.
In 1983, I established my own publishing company (Matilija Press) in order to publish some of my own work. This was before it was fashionable to do so or convenient. Since then, I’ve published many of my own books. As a consequence, I had to learn volumes about book promotion. But then, that’s a very large subject for another time.
By the turn of the century, I’d had hundreds of my articles published in a variety of magazines (writing, women’s, parenting, spiritual, cats, horses, business, and more) and over forty published books. I was traveling all over the US speaking at writers’ conferences about the business of writing and having the time of my life. I’d accomplished what few people have. I established a career as a writer. By then, I came to realize that I can’t not write. It’s my passion. It (like cats) feeds my soul.
It was around 2012 when I attended a class reunion and realized that just about all of my former classmates were retired. I wondered if it was time for me to retire and I began pondering the idea. Now, this was not a foreign process for me—the pondering, I mean. Every year or so—generally around my birth month—I stop and reassess my personal life and my business life. I ask important questions such as, “Are you still having fun?” “Is there anything you’d rather be doing?” “What aspects of your life would you change if you could?”
Usually my answers lead me to continue the work I’d been doing. I loved the variety in the writing assignments. I adored teaching authors about the business side of writing. Thus each year I would continue on the path I’d mapped out for myself. In 2012, however, the answers to my questions changed. Yes, I was still thoroughly enjoying the writing process, but I was tiring of certain facets of freelance work. Wow! What a shock. I spent some time with those thoughts, bringing in new ones in order to mix things up a bit and I came up with a whole new plan for my career.
The bottom line was, I still wanted to write and I still wanted to earn money with my craft, but I was ready for a change. You know what they say about timing…it can be everything. Here’s how it worked for me. A writer friend (by then I had oodles of them), told me about her husband’s great success with his very first novel. He took a chance and had it published as an Amazon Kindle book and the amount of money she claimed he was earning left me speechless.
A novel, I thought. But I write nonfiction. However, for the five years or so prior to that I’d been editing novels. I never thought I would. I was a strictly a give-me-the-facts-ma’am type of writer and nonfiction was what I was comfortable editing. But once I opened myself up to include fiction in the editing branch of my business, I found that I rather enjoyed the process. Most surprising was the fact that I seemed to have a real knack for it. At the time, I was reading light mysteries on my own Kindle. I don’t remember exactly when the thought occurred to me—I don’t recall any bells and whistles and fireworks—but I began to consider writing fiction, and it seemed that the universe was prepping me for it.
There was the first-time author who was selling a couple of thousands books a month. I was seeking a change in my work. I enjoyed editing and reading fiction. YES!! I finally decided. I’m going to try writing fiction.
It didn’t take me long to determine that I’d write light mysteries (which I later learned are
called cozy mysteries), and my stories would include a cat. By then, Lily had come into my life. She’s a sweet tabby-cat named Lily. She has the most endearing habit of bringing me her little stuffed toys while I work. Sometimes she even brings me my slippers. I love cats; and cats doing cute things just tickles my funny bone. I thought it was just the sweetest thing ever to see Lily carrying her little toys around in her mouth. She reminds me of the klepto cats I’ve read about. In fact, I thought it was such a charming concept that I decided to feature a klepto cat in my cozy mysteries. Yes! The staring cat would be a klepto. Lily is not the star, however. She’s too timid and sweet for the starring role. I needed a larger cat—one with a ton of confidence. And it didn’t take me long to find my star—his name is Smokey and he’s my ninety-six-year-old mother’s cat.
I combined some of Smokey’s characteristics with Lily’s and created Ragsdale—aka Rags, an ordinary cat who just can’t keep his paws off other people’s things. Often, the treasures he finds are clues in a mystery.
The Klepto Cat Mysteries are light, fun cozy mysteries full of adventure, intrigue, and a little romance. This series follows Rags’s fascinating life path from when he and Savannah were single and he roamed the neighborhood stealing everything from toys belonging to large dogs to jewelry and bathing suits. Rags and Savannah don’t stay single long. After meeting Michael, a handsome veterinarian, Savannah settles down, but the cat doesn’t change his thieving ways. Even though his kleptomaniac habit is annoying and embarrassing to his family, he has earned the respect of the local sheriff’s department and he was even asked to star in a documentary.
Each book is a stand-alone and features a captivating story—generally with more than one mystery woven through the pages. But the best way to read the series is to start with Book One: Catnapped, as the characters progress and develop. You can also get a feel for the series by reading the brand new Book Twenty-nine, Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat. It’s designed as an introduction to Rags and his human and animal friends. And in case you’re wondering, my stories are human-driven. There are no talking cats.
What do I have planned for the future? More Klepto Cat Mysteries, which will make my large following of fans happy and, I hope, attract hundreds of new readers.
Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat. Print or Kindle for those in the US, Kindle for those outside.
Just comment with a favorite cat story or what type of can you like.
Klepto Cat Mysteries website: KleptoCatMysteries.com
Catscapades blog: MatilijaPress.com/Catscapades
Follow Rags on Facebook: facebook.com/KleptoCatMysteries
Order the Kindle or Print versions of any Klepto Cat Mystery at http://www.amazon.com
Order copies in print only at the KleptoCatMysteries.com
Book One and Book Twenty-five are also audio books.