Cats like to help. Or at least , they like to think they’re helping.
I am writing right now with a cat in a box on my lap. This is where he thinks he belongs when I’m at the computer. If I ignore him when he comes swishing around me, he stands on his hind legs and pokes my shoulder with his paw. Repeatedly. This can be annoying. So he’s on my lap. In a box. Because he’s a little bit weird.
When I’m writing a book and come to the place where I need to see it all at once, I lay it down on the floor all around me. You can imagine how fun this is for the cats. I haven’t figured out yet why they feel the need to step on paper on the floor. Does the crinkling sound musical? Do they like the way they can leave paw prints on the page? Why is lying on paper preferable to lying on the carpet? I don’t know.
Pens are also a big draw. Writers’ tools are cats’ playthings. Which is not often helpful. Unless it is helpful to be distracted.
Sometimes it is helpful. I don’t want to be so focused on the words that I forget the softer side of life. The fur that can purr.
The galleys have arrived with the final cover, so I can share it now. Here is what the cover of Serendipity & Me will look like.
Release date: February 7, 2013 from Viking. We are now working on first pass pages to make the insides as perfect as possible. Final editing of novels written in verse is a little different than regular novels because the placement of words has to look right on the page, line for line. This involves some tweaking, some cutting, some smooshing. (Not really. At least, I don’t think they do any smooshing.) Interesting work.
It won’t be long until I can share the finalized cover of Serendipity and Me. I still haven’t seen it myself–only previews. The glimpse of the girl has changed from being brunette to being blonde in order to match the protagonist’s hair color. The kitten’s eyes are now green and blue to match Serendipity’s eyes. The kitten itself doesn’t look exactly like the cat that inspired me to have a white Serendipity, but it is so cute that it hardly matters.
And now I’d like to introduce you to that first white kitty. Her name was Jasmine. We thought she was half-grown when we first got her from a rescuer (she’d been surviving in a field), but she never got bigger.
We think now she was probably in her twenties when she finally died a couple of years ago. Jasmine was a sweetie-pie. She loved to be held like a baby. She was a floppy cat, very relaxed in our arms. Jasmine wanted to please everyone. Sometimes we called Jasmine “Foghorn Leghorn” because she had a loud raucous meow. It was out of character to her otherwise demure behavior. As she got older, her appearance was not as fluffy or clean–aging is tough on us all. But she remained sweet. I hope the book will be a fitting tribute to her.
The first poem I ever sold to a magazine was a sonnet. I was in college when Pet Parade put out a call for poems about pets, and I answered. Below is the poem the editor chose of mine.
The musty sweet smell of hay is in your
fur, kitty. A hint of where you’ve hidden
your babes. I know strangers are forbidden
to linger near the sun-dappled nest, or
stroke the tiny tender noses before
you allow it, but I’ve watched your children
tussle in the night. Am I forgiven
if I explain that your son has a roar
like a dragonfly, and your daughters grow
more like you every day? Their faces draw
me; I can’t help but climb up to the loft
while you’re away and watch them swaying low
in their walk, or curling up on the straw
to sleep. They are my joy; so clean and soft.
-Judith L. Roth
“Sonnet III” was scheduled to be in the Sept.-Oct. 1981 issue, but I never received a copy. Instead I received a note that Nancy Jeanne Larson, editor and publisher, died tragically in an automobile accident. The note was sent by her surviving husband. The lost opportunity of being published was of course slight in comparison.