This is part 4 of My Story. Read parts 1-3 here at this blog site starting January 6, 2015
Yesterday, I left you with my decision to try writing fiction…but what would my storyline be? I knew I’d write about cats and create a cozy mystery, but I was stymied beyond that.
In 2010, I’d produced a book of cat stories. Catscapades, True Cat Tales was a collection of amusing and touching stories—all true. While researching for that book, I came across the concept of the kleptomaniac cat—also known as a cat burglar. These are cats who go out at night and bring home anything that interests them and that they can carry—bathing-suits, toys, jewelry, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc. This concept fascinated me and I decided to feature a kleptomaniac cat in my stories.
But what if the things he “found” were actually meaningful in some way? Yeah! Some of them could be clues in crimes—a certain brand of cigarettes left behind at a murder scene, a business card with an important address jotted on it, a bloody bandana, and so forth. This cat might be a Columbo in fur—a feline Sherlock Holmes.
Research revealed that readers don’t care much for cats who talk, so I knew I had to create a real cat character with some unique and interesting qualities, quirks, and habits.
About the same time, my mother acquired a half-grown kitten. She had hoped for a lovely lap cat who kept her company inside where it’s safer for cats. Instead, Smokey quickly expressed his true colors as a macho, confident cat who needed to—I mean needed to—have access to the great outdoors. He’s an adventurous soul with a mind and an agenda of his own. And he’s also a lap cat on his own terms. He doesn’t curl up—he sprawls out. He’s a comedian, he’s clever, and he’s a bit high maintenance. The cat in my book series, Ragsdale (aka Rags) is Smokey.
The first story came to me quite quickly. One of my daughters had told me about a mystery occurring in her home town. Cats were going missing. She actually saw someone come up on her porch and take off with one of her cats. She ran after him and he dropped the cat. But it wasn’t long after, that another one of her cats went missing. They suspected a rancher in the canyon of hiring people to bring him cats to use as mousers. A group of women talked about setting up a surveillance team to spy on the suspected catnapper. That would be the theme for the first in my Klepto Cat Mystery series.
Now how did I create the human characters? As I recall, they sort of developed as the story developed. A young veterinary school graduate, still working as a vet tech and volunteering at an animal shelter, was recuperating from a bad break-up when her favorite aunt, a crusty, outspoken woman, broke her foot and needed help. Savannah Jordan, seeking a change of scenery, packed a bag and her cat, Rags, and headed for her hometown of Hammond in Northern California, to help her Aunt Margaret.
Of course, Rags starts getting into trouble right off the bat. And Savannah gets involved in Margaret’s organization, the Hammond Cat Alliance, as they attempt to locate the cats that have been going missing.
It may be my natural Gemini twin thing, but I tend to introduce story plots in pairs. In this story, it’s revealed that Aunt Margaret’s injury might not have been an accident when the two women start experiencing near misses. And what is a mystery without a little romance, so I threw a steaming hot, single veterinarian into the mix. Woo-la, there I had my main characters.
I have to tell you, I was having so much fun writing this story and watching it develop right before my eyes. I never wanted it to end. But if you are to be published, ending the book is a must. Now what? Would I pursue a publisher or publish the book through my own publishing company?
I’d been hearing stories from colleagues about their successes with their first novels through the Kindle Direct Publishing program at Amazon. “What a great—safe—way to break in,” I thought. Turns out, it was the purrfect way to introduce a novel by an unknown (in the fiction field) to a brand new audience. Novel-readers read books on their Kindles.
Right away, my first novel was selling. It was getting good reviews. I was ecstatic!
I was also quite surprised when I was able to come up with a plot for my second book in the series…and the third, fourth… I just finished writing the ninth in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. It is with my proofreader now. I’ve managed to publish 8 books in 18 months. And they are selling like crazy. I’m selling over 2,500 per month and have been consistently. Not only do we have all 8 books in the series formatted for Kindle, the first four are also in print.
So what makes these books popular? What is my role in their success? That will be our hot topic for tomorrow—January 10.
In the meantime, read all 4 segments of My Story, beginning January 6, 2015. Learn how I became a published author. Discover what prompted my reputation as a key player in the publishing arena. Find out what inspired me to shift gears completely and start writing fiction—the Klepto Cat Mystery series, in particular—and why they’re selling so well. In the 6th segment, I will share some anecdotes featuring my experiences with this mystery series—how I develop an action scene, how I develop a cat’s personality and so forth.
If you have any questions or comments along the way, please direct them to me at PLFry620@yahoo.com. Or leave a comment here.
In the meantime, check out my Klepto Cat Mystery series—now eight books strong—here: http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2