Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dee Ready on Writing a Companion Cat Book

Writing a Companion Cat Book 

By Dee Ready

Years ago, I lived with Dulcy—the sweetest of cats. For seventeen-and-a-half years, she and I cherished one another. On July 8, 1989, two days after she died, Dulcy began to channel through me the purr of our relationship. The words came from that deep center of myself where Oneness dwells and surely Dulcy and I were One.
            In April 1991, I sent a query letter plus five chapters of the book to Jane Meara, an editor at Crown Publishing in New York. In her return letter she asked me to delete half of the 42,000 words of Dulcy’s manuscript by concentrating only on our relationship. Immediately I ruthlessly rid the manuscript of any story that didn’t concern the two of us.
            Of course, being a hoarder of words, I pasted everything I cut into a separate document. (If you’d like to know more about Dulcy and our relationship, please click here for another guest posting I wrote.)

            Crown published A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story in September 1992. For the following six months I enjoyed the hoopla of signings, readings, interviews, and local talk-show appearances. By the following spring, all that ended. Two years later, the final count for the sales came to just under 14,000 books in the United States.


            I do not know what the sales were for the editions published in Korea, Germany, Taiwan, and Japan. However, the advance against royalty from each publisher plus the royalties on the US edition enabled me to visit Greece for four weeks to research a novel, on which I’m still working.
            During the next two years, I tried to create a salable manuscript from the stories  I’d cut. To do so, I changed the point of view to third person and introduced Tromley, the cat who lived in the house behind ours. In this first attempt to create a companion book, Dulcy used the deleted stories from A Cat’s Life to teach Tromley how to win a human’s love. 
            Jane Meara’s response?
            “It doesn’t work for me.”
            No contract.
            Next, I tried to use the deleted sections to create the life of Tromley. No go. Down deep I was glad. Using the material that way felt like a betrayal of Dulcy.
            Finally, I came up with the idea of cobbling the material into twelve distinct stories. Once again, Jane Meara turned down the manuscript. “No thread holds it together,” she said. “Nothing compels me to read beyond the first story.”
            In other words, no glue held the stories together.
            So I set aside the material that had been cut in 1991. Someday, I thought, I’ll figure out how to get Dulcy’s other stories out to an audience.
            That someday came several years later when I got the idea to divide the stories into twelve habits of successful cats. Dulcy would “purr” these habits. Then I’d follow each with a short reflection about how the habit had influenced my life as her human. I titled this new manuscript A Cat's Legacy: Dulcy's Story by Dulcy and Dee Ready.
            By this time, Jane Meara had left Crown. I tried the agent route but was unable to interest anyone in even reading the proposed book. Once again, no chance to get Dulcy’s words to readers.
            Now we come to today. I’ve concluded that finding an agent or an editor in today’s publishing milieu is almost impossible. However, Wayman—a small, but growing, publishing house—expressed interest.


            If you have any interest in reading Dulcy’s words of wisdom—or mine—please click here to get to its location on Amazon. Dulcy’s purr is sweet. As to the text I wrote, it represents experiences I’ve had in living a long and happy life. May you know peace today in your own lives. 

About the Author

    A psychic once told me that in a past life I'd been a Native American healer and shaman in Florida. The people living in the villages I visited believed I had the ability to change myself into a panther. In my present life, I do seem to have an affinity for cats.
    I now live with three wonderful felines: Ellie, Maggie, and Matthew. They are my family.
    I hope one day to have a novel published. That is my dream and has been since I was eight years old and found my grandmother's typewriter. My first story was a mystery written on that old Royal!


  1. Oh my goodness, this brings back so many memories of our cats who are no longer with us. I tend to shy away from animal stories as I know they generally end up with me in tears. Great post, thanks Dee.

    1. Dear Petty, Dulcy's first book, "A Cat's Life," does end with most readers in tears, but there's also a real sense of love going on forever. Her companion book, "A Cat's Legacy," shows Dulcy as wise and all-knowing about how to lead a blissful life! Peace.