Wedding week is here, so our family is busy and scatterbrained. But before I sign out for the celebration days, I need to share an important message. I jabber about Perry a lot. He’s a cat who is somewhere on the continuum between feral and socialized. I hope with my loving care that he can become socialized enough to make a very good house cat. He showed up in the right yard if he wanted to find somebody who was willing to give him a chance.
But at our shelter for the past full year we have had two little brothers who are just like Perry. They even look a little like him–furry and grayish. I’ve posted about them in the past, but they are growing older and are now fully adult cats. They have become socialized enough that they love to play games with people. They looove other cats. All they need now is a home together where they get the attention of a patient human family who wants to experience the rewards of finishing the socialization process of these two gorgeous cats.
Life at the shelter is not a path to socialization.
Check out the video:
Please pass this information on. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, wherever you can.
We need to find a home for these sweet boys. They deserve a chance. They wouldn’t survive being sent to live in a barn.
Are you planning to publish a book soon or in the distant future? (If you’re looking for a Perry update, you’ll find it at the end ;)). Also, pre-orders for Kin Types must be in by Thursday. Pre-order HERE.
Finishing Line Press has been very good about providing sample materials for promotional purposes. Because of their help, I felt that I had the tools to put together a media kit, as they suggested.
I thought I would share a list of the component parts that go into a media kit.
The first page is a cover image of Kin Types with “Press Contact” information. This info consists of:
You might want to include a telephone number, but it is also suggested that the media kit be available through your website. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my phone number that available.
Look at what I’ve listed. Address. Do you want your address on there? I found the same question came up when I was listed with Poets & Writers. But we have a post office box that we use for business, so I use that for writing business. If you don’t have a post office box, you might want to consider getting one now.
You probably already have more than one email address, but if you don’t, you might want one that is expressly for writing or at least doesn’t have too much spam going into it.
Do you have a website-website or is it your blog? Either is fine–just make sure that the address you use is going to remain the same for the next couple of years at least.
After the front page of the media kit, you will have a TABLE OF CONTENTS, and the table of contents will include these items
Your biography should be a few short paragraphs long and just cover the main points, especially as relates to your writing and perhaps your specialization in something related to your topic of writing. On my biography page I first put my new headshot taken by Renee Rivers and then my three paragraph bio. Sometimes people use funny bios that show the writer’s sense of humor, but not much else. I think these are meant to show that the writer doesn’t have a big head. Personally, I don’t much like those. That sort of thing is for a Twitter description, not a bio that is meant to encapsulate your experience as a writer.
The bio takes time to craft. If you haven’t written one for yourself yet, there is no time like the present. Write it in 3rd person, not first. You can keep revising it as you get publications or something major changes in your life, but it helps to have one ready-to-go. And you need it to submit to magazines and journals, agents, etc. So I think writing your bio is your first assignment ;). The best way to begin is to look at other writers’ bios as models.
Next up is the Curriculum Vitae–or CV as it’s usually called. Are you Googling it yet? hahahaha Kind of like chapbook or feral cat, really. Most of the world uses the word RESUME. But in academics and the literary world, CV is what it’s called.
The format for a CV is slightly different than a resume, and the biggest difference IMO is that a resume is supposed to be pretty short so you don’t wear out somebody who is considering hiring you. But in a CV long is where it’s at. Because long shows that you’ve done a lot of stuff. And for writers that means publishing a lot. On a CV, you list alllllll your publications, except for maybe that fairy tale you wrote when you were seven. Since most writers making a media kit for the first time won’t have a long list of publications, what are they to do? I just wouldn’t put in the thing. Who cares? The media kit is what the writer chooses to make it, after all. If your CV isn’t your strength, don’t use it.
!But I have a question for genre writers: do you use a CV for agents or for media kits?
Next is the Press Release. But I haven’t done that yet, so I have no advice!
Then there are reviews. I only have one advance review, written by Carla McGill. Thank you, Carla! After Kin Types is published I hope to get more reviews and can then add some to the media kit.
I have two blurbs for Kin Types, from Justin Hamm and Carol Bachofner. I’ve included them both on the same page. Doll God has three blurbs, but that seemed fitting because it was a full-length book.
Until two weeks ago, I didn’t have an interview for the media kit, but then Marie from 1WriteWay interviewed me, so now I do. Thank you, Marie!
Now you see the things you have to start to think about ahead of time: lining up reviews, interviews, writing a biography, and so on. And I originally thought all I had to do was write and tweet about it!
If you are experienced at creating a media kit, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Perry update: he loves tuna juice, which is the water from the can of tuna. It’s just a once in a blue moon treat as I don’t believe in giving cats too much fish. Fish is a secret ingredient in far too many cat foods, and fish can cause serious health problems if it’s too big a part of the diet.
Also, I am starting to train him with little pieces of turkey. When he actually takes it out of my hand I will open his cage door so he can go in and out in the room. At least that is my plan at this point.
Perry lets me come fairly near to him. He seems more and more calm and less frightened, but I don’t feel he is ready for me to try to touch him.
Here he is on the upper level of his 3 story cage house
From the gardener: peppers are ripening so he figured out a way to dry them outside. He didn’t want to dry them inside because they could makes the cats sick.
There are 3 or so more days left to pre-order Kin Types at this link.
Sometimes we get so used to the jargon of the field we’re in that we forget it’s a specialized language. And that others don’t always know what in the heck we’re talking about when we use it.
I was thinking the other day that when I say that I wonder if Perry is a feral cat or a stray cat that the nuance between those two types of cats could be lost. A feral cat is so wild that he is not used to humans or civilization and oftentimes cannot be persuaded that we are ok. Unless quite young when the socialization begins, it might not be possible to ever get a feral cat to accept human touch. But I say that with a caveat: every cat must be treated as an individual because you just never know which feral cats can be socialized and which socialized cats will never be lapcats–based on temperament, environment, and so on.
Speaking of Perry, I have been reading him Cindy Rinne’s story in verse Quiet Lantern about a Vietnamese girl named Mai Ly who is on a spiritual quest. The farther I go into the story and the more poetic prowess I discover, the more impressed I am with the book.
Another word I’ve flung around the blog lately is chapbook. Kin Types is a chapbook, rather than a full-length poetry collection like Doll God or like Rinne’s book (which is over 100 pages).But what is a chapbook? Historically, a chapbook was a small pamphlet that was truly around before books as we know them today were invented. The first written fairy tales were chapbooks. They were small. They were a few pages. And they were really roughly printed.
Chapbooks today, though, usually meet these qualifications:
Generally poetry, but not always
Less than 48 pages in length, generally around 25-30, but even as short as 15 pages (full-length collection is around 55-75)
Generally has a sharper focus than a full-length collection
Some of the most famous poems were first published in chapbooks–poems by T.S. Eliot, William Blake, Philip Larkin, and Allen Ginsberg
Poems can be used in a full-length collection later (or not)
There are many chapbook contests and small presses publishing chapbooks
There is only one after-publication prize open to chapbooks in the U.S., whereas there are many for full-length books
Poets are encouraged to publish chapbooks, as well as full-length books, and many poets first publish a chapbook rather than a book
Sometimes the binding is more beautiful than that of a book
Sometimes the artistic quality of the binding is poor and the pages look typewritten
Sometimes the book is stapled or bound by cord
Although modestly expensive, chapbooks are not meant to make money (yup, that’s a fact and probably true of all)
Chapbooks are a way to take a risk and strive for art for art’s sake
I did enter Kin Types in a few contests, but they are expensive (entry around $15-25 each) and when the manuscript was accepted by Finishing Line Press for publication, I decided to go with them, rather than spend more money on contests. Still, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest and a Highly Commended title in The Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition.
The only writing I’ve been able to do lately is a poem for my son’s wedding. It’s being framed and will be on a table with photographs of the grandparents (of the bride and groom) who have passed on.
Today is the anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s birth in 1912, two days after the Titanic sank. Her birthday was two weeks after that of my paternal grandmother (though they were born 19 years apart). They were both Aries, as is the Gardener. It’s hard to think of anything that is similar about the three of them, except that they have all been count-on-able.
My maternal grandmother’s name was Lucille Edna, although she was known as Edna. (Luanne is created from Lucille and my mother’s middle name Ann). Edna was Class Historian at graduation (her older sister was Salutatorian the same year) and always wanted to be a writer. She thought of herself as the “Jo March” of her family (like in Little Women).
When she was elderly and ill, she made me promise I would never give up writing. That comment from Grandma found its way into a Kin Types poem.
Don’t tell my mother, but Perry moved in here Friday evening. She told me once that she didn’t think she should tell anybody I have five cats because it was embarrassing. I know what she would say about six, even if #6 is a foster cat and not for keeps. I simply cannot have another “foster failure,” which is where the person fostering the cat cannot give him/her up and adopts the cat. My five old cats would not forgive me for that.
Since he got here, it’s been exactly four days. This is how he looks now, in his 3 tier cage (identical to the one at the shelter) and in his little cat den.
The room Perry is in is quiet, and he has a window, although he hasn’t seemed to notice it yet. He eats, drinks, and uses the litter box when nobody is looking. He moves between his cat den on the bottom floor and the top shelf which has a little thin blanket around part of it so he feels secure.
Notice how he looked at the shelter. See how his ears were flattened. Now they are raised up more and one of them faces forward and the other partially forward. His whiskers might be a bit more relaxed. When I hold a treat and offer it to him he actually looks as if he is considering it now. Slow baby steps, but I think we’re moving forward.
AT THE SHELTER
Most of my time with Perry is spent with me lying on the floor on two big pillows, reading poetry to him. We just finished the March issue of Poetry, which we both enjoyed although two of the poems confounded me (but not him). I also read him a poem Dianne Gray mentioned: “THE TRIANTIWONTIGONGOLOPE” by C. J. Dennis.
Perry doesn’t require a lot of attention, but I try to go in with him every couple of hours or so, if I am home. After all, the way he will become more social and attached is by our interaction.
Closing comments because this was just a little update. Hope your week is a happy and healthy one!
Hello, everyone, I have a guest today: poet, family historian, and fellow cat hoarder lover, Luanne Castle. Many of you might already know Luanne from her blog, Writer Site, or her website, Luanne Castle, or perhaps you’ve already read her first book of poetry, Doll God, winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. I’m […]
In fifth grade, we had to memorize a poem and recite it to the class. I loved doing that (like that shocks you) and won second place for “A Fairy Went A-Marketing” by Rose Fyleman. I was ticked off that I didn’t get first place and told myself that it was because my poem was longer than the one recited by the girl who took first place. Hahaha. Actually, I don’t know how she did because we had to go in the hall and recite our poems privately to the teacher. This was a kindness on her part, but it would have been great to listen to all the poems.
When my kids were little I had a handful of poems I’d memorized by accident that I used to recite to them with all manner of sound effects and gestures. One of my favorites was the “Double Double Toil and Trouble” passage from MacBeth. I also loved “The Spangled Pandemonium” and “Keep a Poem in Your Pocket,” as well as a couple of e.e. cummings poems. But after fifth grade, I was neither required nor encouraged to memorize poetry. A generation or two before my time students were routinely required to do so.
In that way, they would have literature to keep them company if they were stranded on a desert island or taken as a POW. Memorization of literature is good for the mind in a way that Google can never be good for us. Here’s just one article about the subject: Why We Should Memorize.
I’ve also heard that poets who recite their own poetry at readings, rather than reading them from the page, are electrifying performers. The thought of that terrifies me. What if my mind goes blank?
AS IT SO OFTEN DOES AS OF LATE. Either my brain is suffering from an overload of iPhone, iPad, computer, and social media–or it’s starting to decay. That is why I now can be sure to complete only one poem from beginning to end without ever reading it. And it so happens that little Perry loves to listen to it ;).
THE SPANGLED PANDEMONIUM
by Palmer Brown*
The Spangled Pandemonium
Is missing from the zoo.
He bent the bars the barest bit,
And slithered glibly through.
He crawled across the moated wall,
He climbed the mango tree,
And when his keeper scrambled up,
He nipped him in the knee.
To all of you a warning
Not to wander after dark,
Or if you must, make very sure
You stay out of the park.
For the Spangled Pandemonium
Is missing from the zoo,
And since he nipped his keeper,
He would just as soon nip you!
I figure Perry imagines himself as the Spangled Pandemonium, wanting to nip all of us if we go after him after he breaks out of his cage and the shelter.
*I tried to look up Palmer Brown and although he wrote five books for children and apparently lived from 1920-2012 I couldn’t even find an obituary for him!
Most days I’ve been visiting Perry at the shelter. He’s not a happy boy at all. Look at how he’s keeping his ears flattened now!
Yes, that’s a litter box he’s sitting in. One with little poos in it.
Rather than acclimating to the shelter environment, Perry is getting more upset and unhappy. When he hears a dog bark (and they do sound like out-of-control maniacs) he shrinks down further. Yesterday I stayed a little longer than usual and added whispering to him on top of the reading and singing. He liked being whispered to, especially because he recognized the conspiratorial aspect when I let him in on a plan that I am hatching.
There are two choices. Either we can assume the vet that neutered him was wrong and he is a feral cat OR we can figure out a way to give him another chance to prove he can live with humans. We have zero foster families that will take a possibly feral cat. The only option is if WE do it. And I can’t bring him in with my other cats with their age and health issues. The stress would drive them into sickness.
So we can isolate him, but with my lymphedema (and the danger of cat scratches and bites) I can’t let him loose in a room where I could potentially never catch him again.
I ordered a 3 tier cage. I know, I know, it’s a cage. But if he’s going to prove he can be civilized (poor little Huck, I mean Perry), it’s our only option. So we will set up the cage when it comes, trap him in a cat den (that I also ordered) for minimal stress and bring him here to the new cage. We will put it by a window that looks out on the bunnies and birds and lizards (and if he sees a coyote or bobcat he will know that they can’t get to him). I will read, sing, and talk to him at least every two hours that I am home and awake. I will try to play with him with a string-type toy. I will keep setting little toys near him and try to get closer and closer to him without setting him off.
And we will see.
If he truly is feral and unwilling to be civilized we will have to find a place he can go and live an outdoor life.
At the shelter, we’ve got other cats in need, too. Two big litters of kittens are going like hotcakes, but the older cats wait. And new ones come in. Yesterday I witnessed a young couple surrender a gorgeous cat to us. The man didn’t speak and kept his sunglasses on, and the woman didn’t shed a tear and said they were moving and couldn’t keep the cat. Guess who probably insisted on GETTING RID OF THE CAT? What do they think will happen to their cat? She, at least, is probably telling herself that it’s a no-kill shelter, so the cat will be fine. What they don’t realize is that surrendered cats sometimes have to go through more than one more owner before they find a forever home. And will it be a good home? No way to know.
To think about something besides cats, the gardener and I went to see Bullets Over Broadway at Phoenix Theatre. Funny show–and very well done! The acting and costumes were fabulous, as was the dancing. This show was written by Woody Allen and played on Broadway for 100 performances a few years ago. I love the LIMINAL passage to the theatre–that threshold as one passes from the real world to the world of the stage.
No hummingbird nests yet this year, but in a big flower pot somebody created a “scrape nest,” which is a nest where the bird scrapes the dirt and forms a little hollow to receive her eggs. There is one speckled egg, but she has not come back to lay more. Birds like Gambel Quail do lay their eggs one at a time like that, but I think the time for her to come back has passed. The egg seems a little large for a quail, but I can’t think of another bird that could have made this nest. A mourning dove laid her eggs in a hanging pot, but I didn’t take a pic because it would have disturbed her. It’s bad enough that the gardener has to water the plant or it will die, and the bird will lose the green drapery she likes.
Today is my paternal grandmother’s birthday. She was born in 1893, and she is featured in at least one poem in Kin Types. She was the head fitter at the 28 Shop at Marshall Field’s department store in downtown Chicago for many years and raised three children by herself.
What must it have been like to work in such elegant surroundings and go home to children you could barely afford to feed?
Only 3 weeks left to pre-order Kin Types and have it count toward publication. You can order it here. The book contains poetry, prose, and a women’s history.
National Poetry Month begins today! You can make a commitment to learning more poetry by deciding to read, write, or contemplate poetry every day in April. The Academy of American Poets asks us to kick off the celebration by reading these poems about the art of poetry: