Thursday, April 25, 2013

My New Cat Philosopher

I’ve written frequently about my various Himalayan cats, and the life lessons I’ve learned from them. (Just check out the “cats” tag for previous articles, if you’re interested.) While I was on my blogging break, my last Himalayan baby, Wendy, died of cancer.

I was a little afraid she might be my last pet for a long time. My poor hubby isn’t really into pets, but two cats came into our marriage and lived a LONG time, and then we ended up fostering Wendy. But fortunately, I’m married to a wonderful, unselfish man!

So about a week later, I ended up with Minerva Pearl (a.k.a. Mini, or Mini Pearl).

My mom has always had a colony of feral cats on her land, and when Wendy died, there was a litter of wild kittens out behind her house. They were probably ten or eleven weeks old. One evening I went out to my mother’s after work, and Dave was already there. He told me to go look on the back porch, and when I did, I found a cat carrier with a very scared tabby kitten inside. He had caught one of the ferals for me!

Like her predecessors, Mini is constantly providing me with spiritual lessons. For example—how did I end up with her instead of one of the other kittens? Because she was the one Dave managed to catch with a fishing net! None of them wanted to be caught. They all thought we humans were evil, just intent on hurting them or ruining their lives.

But now I compare her life to that of her litter mates—especially when I leave my mom’s house on a frigid winter night and know they’ll be sleeping outside, while Mini will most likely be snuggled in bed with me. She has constant attention, safety from predators, the best food and medicine, people to love her and play with her. Not to mention her own personal doorman who lets her out on the screen porch and into the house, back and forth, about a million times a day.

And yet, she fought it for all she was worth. Which, of course, makes me think about my total misunderstanding, so many times, of what God is trying to do in my life. I wonder how many times I’ve mistrusted Him, or thought my way was better—when I might have missed out on something wonderful because I was too afraid to go through that scary moment when He put his hand on me.

Mini isn’t quite two years old yet, so I’m sure she has a lot more to teach me. I’ll keep you posted!

Monday, April 15, 2013

I Set Another Waiting Record

I can't swear this is a record--but if any of you have ever waited longer than two years to hear that you placed in a writing contest, please let me know.

Seriously...God obviously wants me to learn how to wait!

A couple of years ago, I wrote on my other blog how I discovered the Harry Potter books in 2008, and credit them with reviving my imagination and my writing. I have to confess that, even at my ripe old age, I started reading fan fiction at Mugglenet--which led to my deciding to try my hand at writing it. Way, WAY back in my youth, I used to write Star Wars fan fiction, and I have to tell you, writing fiction for appreciative fans was in many ways a lot more fulfilling than trying to write stuff to sell.

In June of 2011, Mugglenet had one of their frequent contests, in which they had "prompts" for the entries. As I recall, the prompt I chose was for a mystery story, which had to include the following: an item missing from a locked room, and the only clues are mugs on a table and blue beads on the floor. (It's been so long, I can't remember exactly, but something like that.)

The entries closed, and...the wait began. And went on, and on. The judging never happened. I forgot about it.

Two days ago, I received word that my entry came in second!

Somehow I have a feeling that if The Queen hadn't entered, the judging would have happened in a month! In fact, the judge apologized and said that they have contests all the time and this kind of delay had never happened before. I hope she doesn't find out what the difference might have been this time around.

Anyway, it's still fun to find out that an old lady like myself could write a story those younglings over at Mugglenet liked. If any of you like Harry Potter and want to check it out, here's the link to my story, called Funny Business. (By Chocolate in the Library--that's me!)

Monday, April 8, 2013


MLIW—that means “My Life is Weird,” right?

A younger cousin posted that as his Facebook status a couple of weeks ago, and it took me a while to figure out what it meant. If I got it right, I think I could keep that as my permanent status.

Case in point. I was offered a book publishing contract, and I turned it down. Well, sort of.

Here’s how it happened. I read an essay by a writer who had recently published her first novel, after a long and frustrating journey that sounded a lot like mine. Secular publishers didn’t like her book because it was “too Christian.” Christian publishers didn’t think her work was appropriate for their readers.

I’ve had exactly the same responses to my writing, so I thought I made a brilliant move. I looked to see the name of the company that finally did publish her book, and I submitted to them.

A couple of steps (query, then full manuscript), and a few weeks later, I was being offered a contract.
Trouble was, they explained that they had several publishing “levels.” The first two are a traditional model, but in levels 3 and 4, they ask for a financial investment from the author. They had decided to offer me level 3 since this is my first book.

Now, honestly, I knew about these levels fairly early on in the submission process, but I thought I had a good shot at getting one of the first two levels (if I were offered a contract at all). Their guidelines stated that unpublished authors with endorsements from published writers usually get level 1 or 2 contracts—and I have good endorsements. Also, I don’t mind the idea of contributing a bit to the process, if this company was on the up-and-up. According to them, they publish books that other companies won’t because the book might be worthwhile, but fit a small niche market, but have to ask for an investment from the author to be able to afford to do this. That sounded reasonable to me—and hey, the “contribution” they ask for is much cheaper than self-publishing, which I’ve also considered.

The trouble was, I started to wonder about this company. The level they offered me didn’t seem to fit with their guidelines. They seemed to move too quickly. I looked at some of their books on Amazon and didn’t like the quality of the book descriptions and covers. But the clincher was, I contacted the original author who got me started on all this and asked her about them. She told me she’s not happy being published with them and frankly thought self-publishing might be better.

As you can imagine, that did it.

So…Glass Houses is still languishing out there with a couple of “traditional” editors. I’m working on a second draft of Jordan’s Shadow. And did I mention, my life is weird?