This week we’re going to shake up things a bit. People ask and I’m going to answer your burning questions about writing cozy mysteries with cats. You’ll see some new titles for the daily blogs and it’s your opportunity to learn how I approach the world of cozy mystery-writing.
It surprises people to learn that when I first started writing for publication—48 years ago—my focus was on “give-me-the-facts-
ma’am” type writing. I wanted to be a freelance article-writer. I was fascinated by the way journalists could take facts and present them in an easy-to-read, interesting form and manage to get them published in those wonderful slick magazines. I wanted to be one of those writers. I yearned to spend my days creating interesting articles from a mere dit-dot of a theme, and then open a magazine to see my words with my byline.
I held that dream over a period of about ten years. But dreaming isn’t all I did during that time that I was raising three young daughters. I also studied. I read the magazines I wanted to write for. I subscribed to writers magazines and read them from cover to cover. I devoured Writers Digest. Imagine my joy when I eventually saw MY articles published in Writer’s Digest and many other writers magazines over the years.
Finally the day came that I would start my writing career. My daughters were in junior high school, and I had the kind of time I needed to write. I set up a borrowed manual typewriter on a TV tray in a corner of my bedroom, stocked up on typing paper, white out, and carbon paper, and I became a writer. That was in 1973 when beautiful magazines were abundant and freelance writers were, too. Plus, there was actually money to be made and career’s to be advanced.
Fast forward to 2010. I attended a class reunion and discovered that just about everyone I had gone to school with was now retired. I wanted to retire, but how does one retire from writing when you love the process. I had to admit that I was getting a little tired of freelance work—coming up with the ideas, fleshing them out, contacting magazine editors and publishers, writing to their standards, being rejected a LOT… Yeah, I was tired of some of that. “But,” I told myself, “there are many other avenues for a writer who doesn’t want to stop writing. Maybe I could write fiction.”
So I brazenly closed the last chapter on my freelance writing career and wrote a book of true cat stories. It wasn’t fiction, but it was a favorite topic and it was an exercise in writing in story style instead of article style. I had to find out if I could write a story and if I enjoyed the process. I could and I did. The result was “Catscapades, True Cat Stories.” This blog was born of that project.
I soon discovered that there wasn’t a very large market for cat stories or people stories, for that matter—you know, memoirs. “What is selling?” I wondered. I conducted more research and learned that fiction was selling like crazy—fiction ebooks. First time authors were selling bundles of Kindle books. “Now,” I thought, “that might be a place for me to start. I will write a book of fiction in order to test my ability—to test the waters of a new fiction series.” But what in the world would I write? This post will be continued tomorrow with “Why Cozy Mysteries?”
(Note: Throughout my writing career I always had a cat or two or more at my side. Those pictured here are some of those cats.)