Coming Soon: A new Chicken Soup for the Soul Anthology, The Cat Really Did That.
Even if you have a way with words, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that people will want to read what you write. The transition from the periodic well-intentioned compliment that goes like, “you should write a book…no really…you should…” to actually writing one and trying to coax people to buy it…is a wake-up call for most of us.
Somewhere out there, I’m sure someone made it big on the first pass. If you’re one of them, I’m happy for you. Seriously! But for most of us mere mortals, the journey from aspiring to respected, published author is long. I’m still on the journey, but it’s headed in the right direction. Reviews for my first novel West of Tomorrow have been favorable, and I’m pleased to announce that one of my stories, Sinbad’s Sofa has been picked up by Chicken Soup for the Soul for publication in their The Cat Really Did That anthology, to be released August 8th. Pick up your copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Indie Bound.
Royalties to be Donated.
As proud as I am to have one of my stories selected, I’m especially pleased to note that royalties for this anthology go to the American Humane Society. I don’t really think of myself as a “cat” person, particularly, seeing myself as more a dog, horse or snake guy. But I’ve always gotten along with critters in general and cats are no exception. In Sinbad’s Sofa, an accidental companion at a gas station in which I worked while attending college alleviates the boredom of the night shift and comes to represent a concept that has woven itself into my life.
My Life with the Current Cat
I currently have a cat, one acquired when my mother decided she had one too many critters. Kiki (her name came with her) tolerates me waiting on her, when it suits her, and in common with most felines, she’s terrific at keeping me in my place. Occasionally, she condescends to do a little editing for me. She came to me, full grown with her personality and attachments already set…until she made the trip with me half-way across country to her new home. By the second day, she was spending hours in my lap, gazing out the driver-side window watching Texas, New Mexico and Arizona zip by.
After arrival at her new home, she investigated every corner, then took immediate possession of the condo and now treats it as hers. In the early days, she did a lot of mountaineering on my built-in wall unit. She’d perch on the top and take occasional half-hearted swipes at me when I walked by. As she’s aged, she climbs less but treats the high intensity desk lamp at my computer as her personal sun lamp and my wireless mouse as her head rest. Good thing Microsoft has keyboard short-cuts for most functions I need as an author.
As most cat “owners” will confirm, having a cat in the house teaches you things, if you’re paying attention. For starters, cats are not pets. They’re autonomous. It isn’t that they don’t care about you. They do. But they view you as a friend, not as an owner. They will partner with and reward you in their own way and time, but they’re decisive with respect to what they want and your connection with them suffers if you ignore it.
The Upside of Cats and Critters
In addition, cats live busy lives. They have stuff to do and while most won’t give you much grief if you’re keeping them from it, they’re not above just stalking off, tail high, when they’ve had enough. I’ve come to realize that in some ways, the same thing powers of observation that made me a successful horseman have make a me a better cat-friend. With both critters, the burden of communication and understanding lies with us.
The upside to caring for cats and horses is they can make us better humans. Both cats and horses are masters of associative learning. Paying attention to their body language, sensitizes us to our unspoken communication with our human friends. I’m sure it’s not uniformly true that all animal lovers are also good people, but I suspect there is a positive if not infallible correlation.
If we are the habits we form, then is the habit of respecting and befriending critters, a character trait worth fostering? I’m not absolutely certain it is for everyone, but it certainly feels like it has been to me. But then, since I invested the time, maybe I have to think that. What about you?
West of Tomorrow is a cross-genre work of corporate intrigue, betrayal, misplaced love and the phoenix living in all of us, now on sale on Amazon. In this contemporary tale, Dirk leverages his experiences as a retired marine officer, corporate trainer and district manager to bring us this thoughtful story of self-reinvention in our turbulent time of shifting paradigms and runaway change.
Dirk is the organizer/facilitator of the Advanced Fiction Group, an collection of published and aspiring authors living in South Orange County. His current projects include Through the Windshield, an anthology of short stories and Tier Zero, Volume I of The Knolan Cycle, a story of first contact between Earth and the Knolan Alliance.