cat writer

Writing with Cats: A Joy and a Challenge

Patricia-Fry

Guest post by Patricia Fry

When I decided to add a new dimension to my writing repertoire—to pen a novel—I was pretty sure there would be cats involved.

I’d been writing for publication for over forty years by then—all nonfiction. I was one of those rare birds who figured out how to combine my passion for writing with my need to earn a living and I became a freelance magazine article writer. I also wrote a few books along the way—all nonfiction. While I wrote on a variety of topics, a favorite was cats,Continue Reading

Why Every Writer Needs a Cat

every_writer_needs_a_cat

Guest post by Mary Kennedy

When I tell people I’m a mystery writer, they picture my life as glamorous and exciting, filled with an endless round of power lunches and research trips to exotic locales. What they forget is that ninety percent of my time is spent hunched in front of the computer, wrestling my characters and plots into submission. A writer’s life can be a surprisingly solitary one.

And that’s where my cats come in. I have eight rescued cats and they bring enormous joy to my life. They spend much of the day with me (when they’re not snoozing or just chilling on the glassed-in sun porch) and their quiet presence is comforting.Continue Reading

A Writer’s Cat’s Work Is Never Done

Musetta Clea Simon

Guest post by Musetta Simon, feline muse to Clea Simon

Let me make one thing clear: I am Musetta, a cat. I am the cat, and I am not ungenerous.

Recently, it has been brought to my attention, however, that I share my person with several other felines. Well, if you can call them that, pale, thin imitations that they are. You see, my person, the writer Clea Simon, has been quite caught up recently with several feline characters, spending unconscionable hours devising escapades for them that she would never dream of allowing me – entrusting them with the health and safety of humans much more foolhardy than mine.

One of these, the so-called “feline specter,” Mr. Grey, does not bother me that much. Although he plays a key role in Clea’s latest mystery, Grey Dawn, as does a – dare I say it? – a werekitty, he is not a real threat to one such as myself. For one thing, Mr Grey – the companion of one Dulcie Schwartz, is a ghost. He does not demand pets or chin rubs, or any of those niceties that I have trained Clea to deliver. Besides, he is modeled on my predecessor as Best Cat in the World, Cyrus T. Cat. I have heard many stories of Cyrus, and although I think he must have been a bit of a wimp (he never bit anyone? Not even for fun?), I respect him, as all cats must respect their elders. We were once worshipped as divine for a reason.Continue Reading

The Cat Lecturer

Musetta Clea Simon

Guest post by Clea Simon

When I thought about what to blog about for The Conscious Cat this time, I thought I’d talk  about writing. You know, a very specific kind of “this is what I do, and this is how I do it” blog. And I meant to – I really meant to – only as I started to draft some kind of introduction –I got yelled at by my cat.

I’m not sure what I did exactly. It wasn’t food related, of that I’m sure. People who don’t live with cats – maybe people who don’t live with any animals at all – tend to think that all they care about, all they need from us, is food. Well, food and treats, and while that’s a large part of our role in their world, it isn’t the entirety.  Because when Musetta – tuxedo cat who rules my roost – started in on me, her dish was full. No, I think it was that I’d gone out while she was napping.

You see, for all my talk about process, I’m having trouble starting my next book – the seventh in the Dulcie Schwartz series – and when I am at this stage of things, I tend to wander. Continue Reading

Meeting Gwen Cooper, New York Times bestselling author of Homer’s Odyssey

Gwen_Coooper_Ingrid_King

As a writer, I love connecting with other writers, especially when they write about cats. But it’s not every day that I get to meet the writer of cat book that made the New York Times bestseller list less than two weeks after its publication. Homer’s Odyssey – A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat debuted at number 14 in September of 2009.

Homer's_Odyssey_Gwen_Cooper

I first connected with Gwen Cooper online three years ago, and subsequently interviewed her for The Conscious Cat two weeks after her book made the NYT list. This past Saturday, I finally got to meet her in person. Gwen appeared at a local pet store Continue Reading

Musetta’s complaint: Life with a writer is for the birds

Musetta_Clea_Simon

Guest post by Musetta Simon

What is it with these creatures?

I don’t mean the birds. Those little twittering things are amusing, in their way: hopping about, oblivious to the fact that certain death – in the form of a sleek feline killer – lurks just inside this glass door. I mean my humans. My mother, in particular. Instead of writing, or whatever it is she calls it when she sits at her desk, she has taken to lingering here, by the porch doors, with me. And while I appreciate the strokes I get, especially when I begin my morning commentary on the yard activity, it’s her frankly pointless fascination that I simply do not understand.

When my person first began feeding the creatures in our yard, I thought her motivations were obvious. She was fattening them up, clearly, Continue Reading

Meet Wendy Christensen, cat artist, cat writer and consummate cat lover

Wendy Christensen portrait

Wendy Christensen writes and paints at Bobcat Mountain Studios, high on a wooded hillside in rural New Hampshire. She shares her home with her scientist husband, over 10,000 books, and the family of dear feline muses who daily inspire, amuse, mystify and comfort her — and serve as her models. 

Wendy is a cultural ailurologist (student of feline social and cultural life); award-winning writer, artist and illustrator; painter of cat portraits; designer and builder of cat jewelry; cat behavior consultant; and pet columnist.Continue Reading

An Interview with Dena Harris, Author of Who Moved My Mouse

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Dena Harris.  Dena has been a humor columnist for Cats & Kittens magazine and contributor to Chicken Soup for the Cat-Lover’s Soul.  The author of Lessons in Stalking and For the Love of Cats, Dena lives in Madison, North Carolina with her husband (aka, “The Tall Guy”) and their cats, Lucy and Olivia, in a home filled with expensive, never-touched cat stuff.  Dena’s newest book, Who Moved My Mouse? A Self-Help Book for Cats (Who Don’t Need Any Help) was published on October 19th

I’m delighted to welcome Dena to The Conscious Cat today.

How did you get the idea for Who Moved My Mouse?

I had the idea for a cat to author a self-help book for people and was discussing it with friends when one of them suggested it would be really funny if there were a self-help book for cats. I loved the idea so much I ditched my idea and—with his permission—used his. Never undervalue the brainstorming power of a group of friends!

What made you decide that cats needed a self-help book?

They very idea that a cat would deign to admit they need help, let alone venture out to read a book on the topic, is so opposed to everything we imagine we know about cats that I knew I could get a lot of mileage out of the material.

I went to my local library and checked out every self-help book they had (which I’m sure caused more than a little gossip in my small town). For weeks I read about the power of positive thinking, affirmations, loving yourself, learning to stand up for yourself, accepting responsibility for your life, creating joy, and the whole time I’m picturing this forlorn feline reading all this material and thinking, “What the–?” and deciding to bag it and destroy the couch instead. 

Tell us about your cats.  Did they have a paw in writing the book?

I have two cats. Lucy is my talker, a black-and-white who has an opinion on everything. (She twitters as @Lucy_Cat.) Olivia is a reserved tabby who most friends have never seen because she hides. Both were strays. I have really strong cat allergies and technically shouldn’t have cats, but I adore my girls.

Both are couch potatoes and didn’t do much with the book, except every now and then when I was stuck I’d look at them and say, “Do something funny so I can write about it” and then they’d wander into the kitchen so I’d stop bothering them.

You are a prolific writer – did you always know that you wanted to be a writer? 

No. I always assumed I’d be in upper-management at some business. But at my first job out of college, when I was promoted to supervisor I went into the ladies room and threw up. That was my first clue that maybe me and corporate life weren’t a great fit. I had a few different careers, earned a master’s degree, then started taking online writing classes. An instructor encouraged me to submit a story to a magazine; they accepted it and I was hooked.

What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

Oh Lord, it depends. I do a lot of client work and I have a hard time focusing on creative writing if I have a deadline hanging over me. I try to schedule my time in two-hour blocks, and divide it up among creative writing, client work, admin, and marketing.

What do you love most about being a writer?

Two things: how much flexibility I have with my time (I’m a morning person and am pretty much brain dead by 3 PM) and also that writing is something that I’ll never entirely master so I know I’ll never grow bored.

What do you like least about being a writer?

I sometimes get a bit defensive and feel the need to make sure people understand that freelance writing is hard work and I’m not just sitting around the house, goofing off.

Who or what inspires you?

Having worked at jobs where I was miserable, I’m inspired daily by this wonderful opportunity I have to do what I love. I get to work from home, I meet and interview interesting people, and with Who Moved My Mouse? I’m being paid to write about the world’s most magnificent creature, the cat. I am beyond grateful.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

At a signing for my first book, this woman came up and told me this horrible story about how her cat was sitting in an open window and the pane fell on his tail and trapped him for hours and she just went on and on and she’s laughing as she’s telling me all this. The cat ended up being fine, but I just couldn’t see the humor in a cat being hurt and I had no idea what my reaction to her should be other than, “Get away from me.”

What are you reading at the moment?

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brain by Nicholas Carr. It describes how the Internet is changing the way we read and process information and how we’re losing the ability for focus and deep thought. As I writer, I really relate. The only way I get any work done is first thing in the morning before I go near e-mail or online. Once I open up Facebook or Twitter, it’s all over.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Dena, and much success with Who Moved My Mouse!

You can learn more about Dena and her books on her websites http://www.denaharris.com and http://selfhelpforcats.com and on her blog.