Meow Writing Fest Becoming Book; Cats Respond With Purrs and Trills

Budster Tries Out Some Glam

Budster Tries Out Some Glam

This purring guy is Bud, a presence in the book. Lanky, cranky, and imposing, Bud’s taken over as feline editor and he’s had a heavy paw in the writing. Mostly, he wants readers to know he’s a big fella, in fine fettle, near bobcat size, and mighty handsome.

My husband photoshopped the background. As a computer latecomer, I am just now venturing into photoshop – see next picture!

Author’s note, although I felt I might be done with the book at the time this was posted, I actually wasn’t. There was much more work to be done on the way to publication. The book was published in July 2019, and is now available at Amazon (see left picture) and at the Borgo Publishing and Ernest and Hadley sites. For links, see the “Order the Catwoods Book Online” page above.

This confetti shake of a story has drifted together, becoming a memoir of our life with cats over forty years, surprising me. I can only hope the particles landed with symmetry. It was sort of like building a quilt, or a collage. I wrote from the ‘inside-out’, tinkering details into the interior. The work flow was nonlinear; the time sequencing, dicey. I slapped out a ‘big picture’ framework first. The components surfaced any time but especially mornings: ideas, memories; when humor bobbed up, I might wake up laughing. Not that I didn’t have to just sit down and do, and work really hard. That’s always part of any writing process.

For awhile I didn’t think I could write a book, because of a twenty plus year chronic illness that messes with concentration and causes fatigue, among other neural mishaps. I just decided to jump in and be stubborn about it.

The tentative title is, Meow, Y’all! Our Home in the Forest with Chattering Cats and Clamoring Critters. The book is part story and part study. UPDATE JULY 2019. Now that the book is out as of July 2019, the title has morphed into Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions. It’s available on Amazon, Borgo Publishing, and Ernest and Hadley. At the upper right corner of the post there’s a clickable link to Amazon.

Along with Bud, our other recent kitties:

Little Buddy, Bright-Eyed Boy

Little Buddy, Bright-Eyed Boy

Little Buddy, a trilling virtuoso, is now 18 and a half. His eyes gleam! He enjoys sleeping and chowing down big time, and moves at astonishing speed – especially in the direction of another cat’s food dish. He’s featured in this post about black cats, a condensed section of the book:

I did the green around Little Buddy myself. Lots of work and I’m far from having mastered the technique; precision work is difficult with impaired fine finger coordination. But it was fun to feel like I was almost painting again! In fact, I went back in and redid the cat photo at the end of this post:

Our Sweetie, Anna

Our Sweetie, Anna

Sweet little former feral, Anna, who snoozes across the header of this blog, has recently gone to the Rainbow Bridge. When we met she was all like ” don’t y’all come near me” but later became all “don’t you dare move, I’m settled here for a spell with you, length to be determined by myself”. To her, every evening meant snuggle time. She had the same pale green eye color as her kitten, Bud.

Anna's Iridescence January 27th, 2014, Alabama

Anna’s Iridescence January 27th, 2014, Alabama

A few weeks after we lost her, I took this picture of ‘cloud iridescence’ on January 27th, the night before the snow/ice storm here. It’s a natural, but infrequent, phenomenon. Refraction of sunlight by water droplets or ice crystals in the upper atmosphere causes the effect. Sometimes I think the sky performs in honor of the transitions of our beloved ones. So I’m naming this sky event, Anna’s Iridescence.

Madame Curious, Feral Classic Tabby with Reddish Markings

Madame Curious, Feral Classic Tabby with Reddish Markings

Madame Curious, talkative feral about town. We’re keeping her fed, and we made her a cold weather shelter. We’ve tried to coax her into the house but she’s having none of that! We hope we can bring her inside one day. She was TNRed and ear-tipped by former residents of my late Mom’s neighborhood, a few years back.

I can promise a deeply skewed, some might say flawed, work, in perhaps unexpected ways, LOL. I like to break the rules and have fun with language, otherwise, why bother? I kept the outmoded lavish writing quirks of some earlier decades when writing about those years. For more recent times, I employed the sparser style of today. I evolved to include more of the cadence, structure, and expressions of humans actually talking, not just in dialogue, but as the narrator. The book’s mood ranges from light and conversational to completely goofy to seriously scholarly, to feeling sad about history, and life events. Cats, too, have their own ways of being lighthearted, or studious, or gloomy. There are blissful, giddy moments, and somber moments as we look back. This is the way real life is – humans, and animals, having moods and phases.

Along with the cats I observe the wildlife we’ve seen since first moving to the forest; I track the changes in area fauna to the present, the declines and imbalances. There’s a more elaborate description of the book at this link:

This has been a long time project, partly because I’ve learned, from the cats, to scan things carefully. Tons of careful research went into this book. When on my own book turf, I’m being more forthright about my opinions than I usually am online. I’m hoping everyone will be cool with that.

I meant to get the book out and available the year I posted this, one way or another, but that didn’t happen until July 2019. I did still have to complete footnotes and photos.

I was still waking up every morning with a few items to slip in, leftovers from the busy night brain. But I called myself, done with the book. In reality I was far from done, although it did feel like it was really coming together when I wrote this, hence this celebratory post.

I want to take a moment to wholeheartedly thank all those who have viewed, followed, liked and/or commented on this blog. I really appreciate your support, and I am so sorry I have not been able to come to all of your blogs to say thanks and make comments in return. That’s been entirely due to my health, which hasn’t exactly been going gangbusters for the last few months. I will try to do better in the future, and will slowly try to get around and do some commenting. I get very little active time a day now. Clicking ‘like’ is something I can usually do, but composing comments and posts often demands more mental energy than I have these days. However, I hope to do more of all these things this year. I greatly appreciate comments, although for awhile I may be slow to post and reply to them.

Though it’s unlikely there will ever be profits from my book, I can promise that in case of profits, a portion will go toward the well-being of my own cats.

About Leah

I'm Leah T. Alford, a writer fascinated by the natural world and animals, especially cats.
This entry was posted in Book topics, Cat Topics, Cats, Feral Cats, Nature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Meow Writing Fest Becoming Book; Cats Respond With Purrs and Trills

  1. allangilmour says:

    Mr Midnight, Sir Winston and myself, from the blog entitled “Nice Place”, love your work. My two “lads” couldn´t stop purring as they saw the beautiful photography. Mr Midnight says he knows what you mean about having written too much stuff. His daddy, namely myself, was also in the same predicament. We´re now polishing up our funny cat book (which originally started as our WordPress blog) after having gone through a proof-read and copy edit phase. Keep up the good work and all the best wishes from our blog over here in the Black Forest of Germany. 🙂
    Mr Midnight says “purrrr”, Sir WInston, “meoow” and I, “all the best”.

    • Catwoods says:

      Many thanks, Allan, going out to you, Mr. Midnight, and Sir Winston, for your kind encouragement! I really enjoyed checking out your blog, and I look forward to exploring it more thoroughly whenever my schedule loosens up. Your kitties are charming! Wishing you great success in completing your cat book. I am closer now … It’s cool that you live in a forest, as I do; I view the world as one big forest, actually. My Budster returns purrs, meows, and good wishes! He’s my only cat now, though we are feeding some ferals in town. My cats are old, and Anna and Little Buddy have gone to the rainbow Bridge. Feral Madame Curious became surprisingly tame, and now lives as a housecat with our friend who lived in the house.

      • allangilmour says:

        Nice to have a reply from you. Mr Midnight has a belief like you do that the world is one great park in which to enjoy. Well he would wouldn´t he because he´s only seen the Black Forest. Sir Winston,Mr Midnight and myself send you and your feline friend all the best greetings from the magical Black Forest. 🙂

        • Catwoods says:

          The Black Forest sounds like a nice place! We are in a mixed pine and hardwood forest that was logged in the 50s or 60s, at the southernmost end of the Appalachians. Also has a magical quality, but probably much hotter and buggier than yours. We and Bud send greetings from our little spot in it, which I sometimes call the catwoods.

          • allangilmour says:

            Mr M. and Sir W. love the Black Forest because they like the cool air and the very fact that it usually doesn´t get hot and clamy. On the few weeks a year when it gets hot and clammy they just lay about in the garden like statues – the heat simply saps their energies. Kind regards to Bug and have fun in your magical kingdom. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Cat Edits Cat Book! | Catwoods Porch Party

  3. athling2001 says:

    Beautiful cats! Love my fuzzies.

  4. loisajay says:

    Thank you so much for the like of my ‘baggage’ post. I noticed we use the same theme and love your header–beautiful! Then I read about poor Anna. I’m so sorry. But the sky–what a tribute to her. I love the fact that she was a feral…transformed. My three at work will come near my (it’s the food, not me!) but not with me. Oh, little Shadow talks up a storm, but I am to leave the food and go on my way. 🙂

    • Catwoods says:

      I enjoyed visiting your blog, louisajay. Thank you for your kind words about our Anna. She is very much missed, and it is good to know that others understand. Your description of your ferals made me smile, that is so like the ferals we’ve known, too! A few we have taken in did warm up to us, but only after long, long times. Some never do. The feral girl we are feeding now is talkative, and I think it’s hopeful when they do. They at least recognize that they can communicate and seem to be trying to, even if the conversation is mostly about food, lol.

  5. awax1217 says:

    I wish you success with your endeavors. Write on and purr.

  6. cdog5 says:

    Beautiful photos, beautiful kitties, Leah. And I just have to say that your book sounds wonderfully intriguing, and I’d love to read it. I’m glad you were able to get it done — good for you! I think your playful language is perfect and quite welcome in this world of information, where much is said without joyful, playful spirit.

    • Catwoods says:

      Cdog5, thank you! I, and the cats, very much appreciate your encouraging words! It’s going to be a long haul getting it done, as I move slowly these days!

  7. Such beautiful cats. Congratulations on your book! Cats are definitely fodder for writing! I currently have five indoor cats at the moment myself! 🙂

    • Catwoods says:

      The cats and I thank you! You are fortunate to have five cats! Five is the largest number of cats I’ve had at one time. Ours are all indoors too; best way to keep them safe.

  8. greg1948 says:

    Very nice photographs. This is an interesting story. My cats have their own personal catwoods in the backyard, but they must be supervised. {No response required)

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you, greg1948! And I ‘m always glad to hear about cats safely enjoying some outdoor time. I enjoyed your blog and the photos of your beautiful cats.

  9. Candace says:

    Sounds sweet, best of luck!

  10. Karen B says:

    I am so sorry to hear about the struggle you have with your health, but I am so comforted to know that there will always be a cat friend to cuddle you. I find it so painful to read of Anna. She was such a beautiful tabby, you must miss her so much and I am so sorry to hear about that. I have always found the pain of the loss of my cats too much to bear. I am caring for three sick cats now, one with heart trouble, another who has lost his sense of smell and therefore will not eat and another who has had an eye operation and has a contact lens! Thank you for always aknowledging my posts with a ‘like’. It means so much. Take care-Karen.

    • Catwoods says:

      Karen, thank you, for visiting, and conveying your thoughts. We do so miss our little Anna, she was such a sweet one. I’m so sorry your kitties are ailing, and I send thoughts for their recoveries. It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog! I hope everyone will have spring soon, and blooming and planting can really begin. We are not able to garden at this point, but I love it when everyone is gardening round me. Spring is slow to come here, another freeze comes next week.

  11. Meanderer says:

    All the very best with your project!

  12. leemalerich says:

    excited about this project. interested in the integration of the old wordiness and today’s pace in writing. could that be left in and used as a time frame? oh, there is so much one can play with!

    • Catwoods says:

      I’m very flattered to read your comment, Lee, thanks! The book could be seen as a big experiment, so I don’t know if anything will ‘work’ according to traditional literary ways. For me, leaving in some writing that was adventurous, festive, or just different, helped offset serious topics and events.

  13. Best of luck with the project!

  14. Kate Gilmore says:

    Leah! Congratulations! Your news that your book is finished made my day yesterday–maybe even my week, or month. I read everything twice before discovering the long and fascinating supplemental piece telling more about the whole project, which I just finished reading and pondering. Now you need some advice from the person least able to give it, namely me. I went the agent road about six months ago trying to interest someone in my trilogy that begins with the published and very successful *The Exchange Student* and proceeds through two terrific and unpublished sequels. I wrote reams of letters, some short, most rather long, and got some friendly replies, all accompanied by variations on the theme, “I doubt I could sell this”. Such is the market today. The trilogy is extremely soft core SciFi Young Adult and mostly about how desperately we need our animals and what we would do to get them back if we lost them. Action is sporadic, vocabulary is huge for the notional target, humor is sometimes rather sophisticated. You have to love animals and be not any more frightened of molecular biology than I am. The point, Kate? Self publishing is probably the way to go now. It’s a lot of work, but even if you know that all proof reading is potentially flawed, it imparts a great sense of freedom at the point where you think, an editor would cut this, and then you think, *but I like it* and leave it in. I loved my first editor back in the ’80’s and learned a lot working with her, but all that is gone now. The publishers do not do a good job any more and are likely to tell you to do things you strongly disapprove of, if they attempt to edit at all. So my advice, for what little it’s worth, is to select a good self publisher (there are some) if you can afford it. Personally, I can’t, and I have three books to publish at about $1000 a pop, so I am about to do e-books, which are essentially free and have a big audience if you can figure out a few marketing strategies. I hate this idea, being totally an old fashioned print enthusiast, but someone really must read these books, dammit all. You, on the other hand have only one, which sounds hugely attractive and appealing. It’s about cats; it’s gorgeously illustrated; it could make you RICH. I can’t begin to comment on your amazing blog, and you probably wish I would shut up. (LOL also stands for ‘lots of luck’) Your courage and determination over so many, many years of illness and disability are an inspiration to me now that I have finally, at almost 83, reached the point in progressive emphysema where it is a real nuisance and something that seriously interferes with my work. I have very little patience with this and tend to whine and snarl, sometimes even at my fabulous husband, who has the same, but still does all the heavy stuff. If you will send me your snail mail address, I would love to send you a copy of *The Exchange Student* just as a little present. You can read it next year or not at all, and I have a stack of them, the price of getting my rights back from my formerly loving publisher. You may think that this would not be your cup of tea, but, believe me, we are just coming at the same message from different directions.

    In any case, all the best,


    • Catwoods says:

      Kate, thank you so much for all the kind words, and for all the good advice, too. Publishing has indeed changed, as you say. I still have time to think carefully about which publishing direction to go, while I’m doing photos and references. I’m fond of actual books myself, but the costs involved are pricey for me, too. I’ve seen enough typos in traditionally published books to think I could proofread as well or better on my own. Your book, The Exchange Student, sounds intriguing and definitely related to my ways of thinking! I do plan to read it! I’m untrained in biology but I like to see solid science enter into stories; I’ve enjoyed science fiction and speculative fiction in the past. I’m so sorry to hear that you and your husband have health problems; I’m hoping those conditions will improve, and cease to interfere with your work.

  15. The Editors of Garden Variety says:

    Beautiful animals… favorite is Anna!

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