A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dee Ready: It's a Cat's Life


          A pet's memoir?   Dee Ready offers her reasoning in today's guest post.


            I woke, suddenly alert, on the morning of July 8, 1989, and felt compelled to go downstairs to the computer. Once there, my fingers began to type. A few seconds later, I read the words given to me: “At the end all that matters is love, my love for my human and hers for me. I have planted the memories of our life together in her heart. She will find them there when I am gone and they will comfort her.”

            Momentarily, I sat puzzled. Why was I saying these words? Then I realized that it was Dulcy, not I, who was speaking. She and I had lived together for seventeen and a half years. Two days before, the vet had euthanized her because of kidney failure. And yet she was speaking through me. These words had to be coming from the deep center of myself where Oneness dwelt. And surely, Dulcy and I were one.

            This was the beginning of the book that came to be called A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. She channeled the book through me over a yearlong period. By mid-October of 1989, she’d completed the story of how she’d selected me, trained me, and turned me into a one-cat human. The following spring she gave me a number of poems to add to our book. They revealed her outlook on my foibles.

            A Cat’s Life was Dulcy’s final gift to the one she loved unconditionally.

            And my gift to her? Getting her book published.

            For a year I sent out query letters and received back only rejection of Dulcy’s story. Then, in April 1991, an editor at Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, suggested that I delete half of the 44,000 words and concentrate only on the relationship between Dulcy and me.

            Overjoyed by her words of encouragement, I needed only three days to prepare the 22,000-word manuscript. The fourth day I sent it to her. Several weeks passed and then on July 8, the editor called to offer me a contract. Oh, joy in the morning!

            A year later—in late September 1992—Crown published the hardcover of A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story. It was then I responded to Dulcy’s gift by promoting her book in every way I could. I set up thirty-six readings and signings, five local television appearances on noon news and daytime talk shows, interviews with the three major newspapers, and a reading on Minnesota Public Radio. Later, a vice president at Crown credited me with selling most of the nearly 14,000 books that readers bought in the following months.

            I was disappointed when Crown did not choose to publish the trade paperback. So once again I sent out query letters. In December 2000, J.N. Townsend published Dulcy’s story in trade paperback. Once again, I set up signings and readings.

            A few years later, Townsend reverted the rights to me. At the same time, the publisher offered to give me the 670 remaining copies if I would pay the postage. This generous offer made all the difference, for it was then I realized I could sell Dulcy’s trade paperback on my blog.

            Beginning this past December, my blog has featured ten postings on Dulcy’s memoir. The postings relate all the intricacies of getting published and promoting a book twenty years ago. These postings end with the difference between getting published in 1992 and doing so now.

            Of course, one of the real differences now is the possibility of self-publishing and electronic books. Taking advantage of this, I hired one of my nieces to type the manuscript anew for me as all I had were the 1991 floppy disks. She also prepared the text per the directions on Amazon/Kindle.

            Thus far, readers have purchased thirty trade paperbacks through PayPal and twenty-three e-books. Now let’s admit that selling 30 paper books out of 670 doesn’t seem like much. But perhaps Dulcy’s book will continue to sell as new readers come to my blog. That, at least, is my hope.

            Having a little discretionary money is wonderful, but that’s truly not why I’m selling this book. The truth is that Dulcy’s story is a memoir that reveals the deepening growth of a relationship between a human and an animal. Between Dulcy and me.

            It’s her love letter to me. And until the day I die, I will do all I can to introduce readers to a cat named Dulcy who enriched my life for seventeen and a half years, gave me a story to treasure, and has abided with me since her death in 1989. I am blessed.


           Thank you, Dee, for your moving story.   Dee Ready can be found at coming home to myself



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18 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This was a tear jerker for me, I had a cat Tabitha for fourteen years, the last four she was a diabetic cat, my late husband and I used to inject her twice daily. Sadly my husband passed away yet it was Tabitha who was a comfort to me. She lived for another two years.
Congrats on the book and the success it has become.
Thanks for sharing.
Yvonne.

Jenn June said...

This was a tearjerker for me too, as I'm sure it will be for many others who've had kitty companions that they've loved and lost to illness and old age. My family and I moved from MI to NC approximately one year ago. A month after we moved here our eleven yr old black lab mix, Cheyenne, was hit by a car and killed and this past September I had to take our two thirteen yr old sister cats, Ariel and Conan, in to be euthanized. They both had cancer and I'd put it off as long as I could. They both passed away in the comfort of my arms, purring away and I'm glad for that but I miss them so much. A week after their passing, while walking in the woods near our house with my son and our new dog, we were approached by a little grey kitten who seemed lost. She followed us home, in spite of my pleas for her not to, and attached herself to us right away. No one in the surrounding area would claim her. We all fell in love with her and she with us and now she is a member of our family. She has been such a comfort to me in the absence of our former cats and, although I felt guilty at first for "replacing" them with her, I know realize there is room in my heart for the memories of them that I still hold dear and a future filled with love for her too. I consider it a blessing from God that she showed up when she did. Her silly kitten-style madness provided exactly the distraction I needed to move on from the loss of Ariel and Conan. When we moved here, we did not plan to replace the pets we had with new ones within a year but it is how things worked out and I've come to except it now. I don't want Hawkeye (our dog) and Smokey Bear (our new kitty) to live in the shadow of the furbabies we had before them. They are both such blessings to us.

I think it's so magical how Dulcy spoke through you. Cats and dogs are such amazing and wonderful companions. I don't know how anyone lives without them in their lives. I will definetely be purchasing a copy of your book.

Sorry for the rambling comment but your story has truly touched my heart.

Ann Best said...

This is a WONDERFUL story all the way around, and I'm now heading over to meet Dee Ready. Thanks so much for hosting her, Lee. I've made a note to highlight her in my next Wednesday post, which will be Jan 18th. And I'll link it also to your post here.
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

Dee Ready said...

Dear Arlee,
Thank you so much for sharing Dulcy's story with your readers. You placed the photographs in just the right places!

I want to thank your readers for their words of encouragement and for sharing their own stories of living with and loving animals. I look forward to going to their blogs and enjoying their writing.

How blessed "Welcome to the World of Poetry" was to have Tabitha's as a family member for fourteen years.

And how blessed "Jenn June" is to be able to share all she learned from Cheyenne, Ariel, and Conan with her new family members--Hawkeye and Smokey Bear. Thus does the circle of love expand and grow and enrich itself.

I look forward to the January 18 posting by "Ann Best." How kind that she will mention Dulcy's book.

Now I need to get to these three blogs and do some reading! Thanks again.

Peace

Richard said...

A memoir of a memoir. Nice story.

Inger said...

I have become Dee's friend through her blog and Dulcy's Story is the best book that I have ever read I may add that I'm 71 years old and have read myself to sleep most every night since I learned how to read. I'm mentioning this, to ensure that everyone will understand how great this book is.

The Elephant's Child said...

Tears from here too. Tears in memory of, and in gratitude to cats who shared my life. They have all left paw prints in my heart.

Thank you.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

I think many people would be drawn to this book. Our pets are part of the family, and I feel a spiritual bond with my cats.
Best wishes as you connect with others through your stories.
Play off the Page

Shannon Lawrence said...

What a neat idea. I've been having a hard time with the loss of my two little furbabies a few months apart. They were my babies when I was dealing with infertility, and they meant so much to me. Good luck with your book!

Sherrey said...

It's been said before but I'll say it again -- tears here too. Being a cat lover and knowing the affinity they feel for their humans, I truly believe that Dulcy channeled her memoir through Dee. Lovely story! So glad it was shared here as it lead me to Dee's blog.

fishducky said...

I would like to repeat the review I posted on Amazon:

I started to read A CAT'S LIFE: DULCY'S STORY about an hour & a half ago & just finished. I could NOT put it down. I am so moved I truly do not know what to say.

First, I must comment on her prowess as a writer. She made this book--& Dulcy--come alive to me. I felt Dulcy was actually telling me her story. I felt the true love that creatures of two different species had for each other. How fortunate the two of them were to have found one another. I laughed when she was "training" her & I cried when she said, "I had to try to live--for her".

I had long considered "Marley & Me" to be my favorite animal book. She has now moved it out of 1st place. Although, to be fair, I really am not sure if DULCY'S STORY is an animal book or a love story. I guess it's both!

I would recommend it to anybody & everybody!

Dee Ready is truly a treasure--Dulcy knew that!

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

That's a wonderful story - I'm a true cat lover. It's also a wonderful story of a writer's persistence and journey.

Arlee, I thought I was already following you, but apparently not so now I am :-)

todayithink said...

Lovely story. Having lost my 16 year old boy in 2010 and my 19 year old girl last month I can relate to the love shared.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

What a sweet story. It makes me teary eyed. Dulcy was an angel.

Doris

Madeleine Maddocks said...

Oh Lee, Dulcy is a beautie. Just like my Comfrey. What a lovely tribute and a special tale for a beautiful cat.Her memory lives on in your heart, mind and through her story. Wonderful!

Susan Kane said...

I enjoy Dee's posts so much. Dulcy was a special cat, and continues to comfort any who read the book.

Arlee Bird said...

Dee, your post got such wonderful comments. You did a wonderful job telling your story.

My thanks to all of you who left your own stories and comments. They are always appreciated.

MimiTabby said...

wow, you are amazing. It is SOOOO hard getting books published. AND SOLD and you did both!
thanks for the explanations, you are still putting in a bad link to your url when you are signing in, tosssing
does not supposed to have 3 sss's. :-)

<a href="http://mimitabby.com/blog>Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors</a>

btw, sounds like a good read!