Sunday, December 9, 2018

Today's Gift

Last Sunday, I announced a new gift book for cat lovers—The Gift of Nine Lives. (I neglected to say that it’s also for those who like tongue-in-cheek, somewhat sly, stories.) I admit to hoping for good sells. Back in 1992, when Crown published A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story, it sold 14,000 copies in four months.

Crown said I sold most of those copies by setting up over thirty readings and signings in small and large bookstores in the metro area of the Twin Cities, in Seattle when I visited my cousins there, and in the Kansas City metro when I visited my brother and his family for Christmas. I also contacted radio and television stations and newspapers in all three areas and they responded enthusiastically.

But now, all is different: most small bookstores are gone; most newspapers don’t do book reviews anymore; most chat shows on television feature only celebrities. Moreover, I no longer drive so I couldn’t get to bookstores and television and radio stations if I had an invitation to do so! Finally, there’s a great difference between the energy level of a 56-year-old Dee Ready and an 82-year old crotchety crone!

The biggest thing of course is that, after trying for twenty-five years to find an agent to represent my writing, I finally accepted the truth that agents weren’t looking for my kind of writing. It was then—this past March—that I began to self-publish.

That, of course, implies self-marketing—the use of social media to get the word out. The ability to do that, my friends, eludes me.

So right now I’m feeling as if the world is passing me by. As if I’m on a deserted road that’s familiar to me but seems untraveled by others; I discover, to my dismay, that other writers have taken a detour onto a road named “Twenty-First Century Marketing”—a road that diverged and, as the poet Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the road less traveled by, and that’s made all the difference.”

Right now the difference is that in one week “The Gift of Nine Lives” has sold only 11 copies. Eleven.

By this time in 1992, several hundred copies had sold. So I find myself somewhat dispirited. A little down in the dumps about the fact that I may be too old for this writing game; this marketing game; this selling game.

I’ve always tried to live by the mantra my mother gave me when I was a child. When things were hard, she’d say to me, “Dolores, you find what you look for. If you look for good, you will find it. And if you look for bad, you will surely find that too.”

That mantra has seen me through many difficult chapters of my life. It has helped me be positive when the twists and turns of life seemed intent on wearing me down.

But in this past week, I found myself stymied by my dream of communicating with others the stories I long to share. I’ve felt betrayed by my own unrealistic expectations.

Then it happened. Today I was reading a novel and suddenly came to a passage in which the main character quoted from the Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians.

Here’s the quote: “In everything, give thanks.”

Yes, in everything—the dark days, the painful days, the fearful days, the enlightened days, the sweet days, the emboldened days. This day. And tomorrow. No matter what happens—or doesn’t. No matter what is said—or isn’t. No matter how my body, mind, spirit feels—or doesn’t. No matter what: In everything, give thanks.

That’s what Mom was trying to tell me.

And so I give thanks today for those 11 books that have sold.

And I will give thanks tomorrow for whatever it brings.

And always, I give thanks for all of you who visit me each week. Thank you.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Gift of Nine Lives

This week I’m announcing the publication of a new gift book for cat lovers—The Gift of Nine Lives.

As you probably know, I’ve done two earlier gift books: A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story (which, for its 25th anniversary edition has an Introduction about the wondrous way the book came to be) and A Cat’s Legacy: Dulcy’s Companion Book.
The Gift of Nine Lives, which I so enjoyed writing this past year, is the cat bible of purrs, yowls, and miaows that a clowder of feline scribes originally pawed more than two millennia ago. We can be thankful that they took time from their napping to give us this treasure trove of stories that illustrate their delightful sense of superiority and their mystifying tribulations.
Within the pages of The Gift of Nine Lives, cat lovers will discover the time-honored story of Bastet-Net—the Great God of Cats—and her most perfect creation: felines.

According to this ancient tale, Bastet-Net gave her premier creation dominion over all other animals. For eons of time, the descendants of Mosi—first cat—ruled all creatures great and small. Then, forgetting the commands of Bastet-Net, cats became paunchy and indolent: slumbering often; hunting never.

Outraged by feline self-satisfaction, Runihura, an alpha canine, led his blood-thirsty followers in rebellion. Totally bemused by such surprising insubordination, cats beseeched Bastet-Net for relief.

Hearing their mews, the Great God of Cats inspired fearless felines to prophesy a liberator who would change life for cats and canines alike. So it was that Tabia, a feline born in lower Egypt, brought to the valley of the Nile a gift from Bastet-Net that just might change the way readers feel about the cats who trained them in the past, demand their devotion in the present, and will co-opt their lives in the future.

This feline bible, scratched on tightly woven tapestries by and for cats, lay hidden in the sands of Egypt for nearly two thousand years. It came to light only recently when several intrepid cat archaeologists happily unearthed their ancestors’ primeval myths.
A renowned feline scholar—Eliza Calico, head of the feline history department at Mau University in Minneapolis, Minnesota—has translated this edition of The Gift of Nine Lives.
It’s clear, I’m sure, that this gift book delights me. I giggled often while writing it. It is the result of living with cats for forty-five years. We yowl the same language!
As you know, I’m self-publishing, so I would appreciate any help you might be able to give me in bringing this gift book to the attention of others. It would make a lovely Christmas or birthday gift for any cat lover you know.
If you have some interest in The Gift of Nine Lives and/or the two other gift books, please click on the appropriate icon at the top right of this blog page. That will take you to Amazon and to the paperback and e-book formats.
Thank you in advance for your support as I pursue my heartwish to write and publish. Writing is my passion; I feel so blessed to have one. As my body ages, this passion keeps me young at heart.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Returning with Good News

Four weeks have passed since I last posted. That hiatus resulted from an appointment with a glaucoma specialist. Since December 9, 2015, Dr. Ann has worked to lower the pressure in my eyes; to do that, she has operated on my eyes several times.

I now put glaucoma drops in my left eye 3x a day and in my right, 2x a day. I also put in eye drops/lubricants between 7 and 9x a day. (The oven timer rules my life!)

All this is done so that I can maintain—for as long as possible—a level of vision that will permit to go about my life as I always have—minus driving. My passion, as you know, is writing. The thought of blindness stymied me in October and left me searching for ways I could continue to write if I lost my sight completely.

Now I want to share with you the good news that Dr. Ann gave me this past Tuesday.

In my earlier visit—the one that prompted my hiatus—the outcome of one vision test alarmed the doctor. Through an eyehole in a machine, I looked at a vision chart. Normally, I’ve always seen three rows of letters with 4 letters per row—12 letters in all. Then the tech would ask me what the lowest line was that I could read and I would say aloud the letters I saw.

At that visit, with my left eye, I saw all 12 letters—most weren’t distinct, but I knew they were there. With my right eye, I saw only 2 letters. Not 2 of 12 but only 2. It wasn’t that I didn’t recognize the letters; it was that there simply weren’t there for me to see.

For Dr. Ann that meant my field of vision had narrowed on the right and at the bottom to almost nothing. She was alarmed and talked about how long my eyesight might last given its rapid deterioration from the visit preceding that one.

In my most recent visit—on Tuesday—I saw all 12 letters with my right eye. 12!!! And I could read the letters of the second row, while seeing squiggles below it. 12 letters and squiggles in all!!!!

Dr. Ann’s smile reflected how I was feeling. The explanation for the difference? She believes that a large—very large—floater was in the vitreous humor of my eye during the previous visit. (I think I have that right. Not sure.) The floater blocked my vision.

This past Tuesday, she did set up a field-of-vision test for me in February just so we can know the parameters of my vision. But before leaving the room, she said that my eyes were “doing well.” What uplifting words.

However, she encouraged me to spend only 25 minutes at a time staring at—focusing on—the computer screen, the television, an iPad, or a large-print book. Then I am to take a 10-minute break and rest my eyes—close them. Also, I must try to keep my eyes lubricated by blinking often. My vision will be a little sharper if I blink. I’m going to be the best blinker in Independence!

Come to find out, I’ve been mistaken in my belief that dry eyes damage the optic nerves. Dry eyes can affect eyesight, but they do not affect the optic nerve.

Next week I’ll share my new book with you. This week, I wanted to tell you that my niece designed an author web page for me. If you’d like to see it, here’s the URL: