My three cat fantasy short stories are now LIVE at Kindle! Check out the general link here that will take you to all three books, or click on each book below. (The print editions of Kali’s Will and Last Wish are available here.)
My latest is up at catster.com — about what our cats can teach us about life and death. Check it out here: http://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cats-taught-me-about-death
Ironically, on the eve of my new book coming out (Driving with Cats, June 2013), I’m dealing at home with the very things I write about in the book — helping a cat through a tremulous health journey with no idea of the outcome. Kali, my 18 year old cat, has a tumor inside her head. It is pushing into one side of her face and the area between her left eye and the teeth is slightly swollen. I’ve known about this for a week and a half, had the mass verified through xray (but no biopsy), and have been through the strangest time I can remember in awhile. And it will probably get stranger. I’m exhausted and sometimes spacey, and I thank the gods for my partner/husband, who so skillfully and kindly steps in to fill the gaps I am missing.
This isn’t about me, I keep telling myself — this is about Kali.
Really, it’s about both of us, or all of us.
It’s huge, and it’s not. It’s life.
It does, always, surprise me at its immensity and its power to knock me on my butt. I feel as if I could sleep for days. I’m not used to this — I’m used to moving moving moving, and stuff must go on, be attended to. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think of is Kali. I get right out of bed, and check on her. My heart knows no limits when she greets me with an enthusiastic face or a soft head butt. She doesn’t seem to mind using the left side of the face at this point. Still, I am well aware that cats hide pain.
My goal is to keep Kali as comfortable and happy as possible. I’m trying to stay in the Now, and not worry about the Future.
I know what to watch for. Right now she is eating well, seeking attention, demanding food (she does have a battle cry, just like Kali in my cat fantasy book Kali’s Will), grooming herself, and interested and alert. I’m grateful, and have been showering her with attention. The other cats (except for the young adult Jamie Bluebell) seem to graciously understand this.
Toward the goal of keeping her comfortable and pain free, I’m doing a blend of traditional and alternative treatments. I’ve consulted with three fantastic veterinarians (who have gone way above and beyond to help me) to figure all this out. I’ve been down this road before, but it is always different. She has pain meds when needed, but hasn’t seemed to need them much, yet. We’re going to try a new pain med, which may have anticancer properties as well. She’s also getting immune and digestive enzyme support, and a Chinese herbal tincture with anticancer and detoxing properties. I’m using an essential oil (Frankincense), that may be able to shrink tumors. She is getting a homeopathic remedy as well.
I’m trying to stay clear. The goal is to watch Kali. I have no idea how much time I have or how this will play out. If and when a decision has to be made, I hope I can act for the best outcome for Kali at that time.
And I need to remember to celebrate Kali’s life, so far. She’s been with us for so many years. I need to be thankful for that.
I’m also very thankful for the many people who have simply listened. Thank you. I need to remember how important that is, and simple to do, for others when needed.
Taken a few weeks ago (right before finding out about the tumor) for an article on Kali at catster.com. You can read the article here.
Eight people (peers, colleagues, cat lovers, authors, story lovers) took time from their busy lives to provide me with blurbs for Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, my memoir that will be in print and in ebook format on June 1, 2013. These will go on the book cover and/or inside the book. Here they are below, or read them here. I thank these people from the bottom of my heart and hope that I can return the favors and pass it forward. Namaste!
“Anyone who has loved, lived with, or grieved the loss of a cat will appreciate Driving with Cats. This tender book interweaves profiles of the author’s cat companions with her gems of wisdom on topics as diverse as finding your true calling in life, transporting cats to and from the veterinarian, the soothing aspects of yoga and meditation, the reality of dreams, and the gentle wind of a cat’s presence after death. This delicate, life-affirming, and comforting book should have a place of honor on bookshelves where cats can curl up and wrap their paws around it.”
–Linda Anderson, co-author, Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort, Saying Goodbye to Your Angel Animals, and other books in the Angel Animals series, www.angelanimals.net
“This book goes beyond the animal companions of the author: from the family the cats complete, to the spiritual, the aesthetic, and the end-of-life mystery. And Catherine Holm goes beyond as well: from a fine writer to a yoga master to an elevated soul.
–Joseph Maiolo, award-winning fiction writer whose latest book is Saint Matthew in Appalachia and Other Stories, overcoatbooks.com
“A road map for the emotional journey of life – and death – with animal companions. Heartfelt, personal and at times profound, Driving with Cats steers us toward living consciously, loving unconditionally, and absorbing what other animals appear to know instinctively: this moment matters. Be in it.”
–Cathy Unruh, Animal advocate, journalist, author of Taming Me: Memoir of a Clever Island Cat, www.cathyunruh.com
“Life with our cats is a journey — one fraught with joy and with sorrow, but always traveled on a road paved with unconditional love and important lessons if your eyes and heart are open to receive them. Driving With Cats is a beautiful emotional and spiritual travelogue of Catherine Holm’s own journey with the cats who touched her life and what they have taught her along the way.”
–JaneA Kelley, Author of Paws and Effect, a blog by cats, for cats and their people
“If you have ever been owned by a cat, you’ll relate to this charming, heartwarming, very real feline memoir.”
–Patricia Fry, author of 37 books, including Catscapades, True Cat Tales, www.matilijapress.com
“Driving with Cats is not just about living in northern Minnesota, or living with cats. It’s a book about devotion, adaptation, intuition, permanence, isolation, and living “in the moment.” It contains wisdom learned from several memorable felines no reader will easily forget.”
- Barbara Florio Graham, author and publishing consultant, www.SimonTeakettle.com
“Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time is a beautiful collection of stories of love, loss, and learning. By sharing the lessons learned from her cats, Holm offers a road map for anyone who is open to the often profound teachings that can come from simply loving and caring for a cat.”
- Ingrid King, award-winning author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher and Purrs of Wisdom: Conscious Living, Feline Style, http://ingridking.com
“Holm’s memoir is a moving tribute to her orange tabby Jamie, who was adopted at three weeks and who managed to cram nine lives into 20 human years. His story is peppered with tales about the other cats that Holm openly admits have helped to define her life. Her engaging style will have the reader reminiscing about cats they have loved and lost.
-Sandy Robins, author of For The Love of Cats and Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat, www.SandyRobinsOnline.com
Catster.com is a terrific website — full of knowledge, facts, and good stuff about cats!
Check out my most recent catster.com blog post on how cats help me with yoga!
And, you can see my other catster.com posts here on my catster author page. Scroll down to see the topics I’ve posted about to date.
I’ve been busy.
I’m already setting up readings in June for the upcoming publication of my memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time (North Star Press of St. Cloud, June 2013). I’m also soliciting blurbs for the back cover and the inside of the book. I learned from my first book’s publication process (My Heart is a Mountain; Holy Cow! Press) that it’s a good idea to get an early jump on this stuff. It piles up and gets quite overwhelming, otherwise. I’m grateful to be working with two small presses who have been more than helpful in helping me learn about the biz. There’s something new to learn all the time.
I’m also really happy to have just been awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant. I’m happy for all the winners, several of whom are friends or colleagues I’ve worked with. It’s an honor and an affirmation, and I feel very fortunate to live in a state that provides opportunities for artists and writers to have the means to keep creating.
I’m also enjoying blogging for catster.com! (I may end up being a better blogger there than I am on my own blog, lol.) My first blog entry ran on 12/20. I have one coming up next week, on Wednesday, and I just wrote a third one about cats and my yoga practice. As you can guess, I love writing about cats.
I’m really happy to announce that my memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time will be traditionally published by North Star Press of St. Cloud in June, 2013. This is a cat-themed memoir that addresses the larger themes of love, loss, letting go, living in the moment, and what our companion animals teach us. I’m very excited to bring it into the world. Stay tuned for details as the date gets closer.
I’ll be blogging at www.catster.com on cats, and the cat/human bond.
Here is my first blog entry: Can You Be Clean AND Frugal in a Multicat Household?
I used to post gratitude posts quite often, on an earlier blog of mine that no longer exists. Here are the things I’m thankful for today:
- An awesome husband, who is supportive of me and my work, and even puts up with my eccentricity.
- Healthy cats and a really healthy 15 year old dog!
- The kitten Jamie Bluebell (you know, the one who wants to take over this blog) for the fun and joy she brings to our household!
- Three fantastic veterinarians — each a bit different and all bringing expertise to help me make decisions.
- The woods outside my door.
- The city when I want to travel.
- The woods and wilderness when I want to travel.
- My friends and family.
- Music — playing, listening, dancing.
- Meeting other cat lovers and cat professionals recently — all devoted to the welfare of cats.
- Yoga — it feeds me. Meditation.
- My yoga students who make it possible for me to teach yoga, and who teach me!
- My work, which is varied and interesting.
- The creative spirit and the the path that it has led me on.
I am very grateful for all of this and more. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.
Hi, I’m Jamie Bluebell! (That’s JB to you, reader.) When mama was getting her office wood stove going this morning, she tore pages from a local paper for fire starter. She discovered her horoscope:
You like to stay in control of your time, but this is not always possible. Children and those who act like them have a very different perception of time than you do, and this could be an issue.
Hey, who writes these things, anyway? “Children and those who act like them…” What about cats? We understand time way better than humans. Just ask us!
Hey, time doesn’t matter to me except for when it’s time to eat — then I have cat-laser-focus! But otherwise, time really doesn’t matter. What a great cat world it would be if all humans understood this!
There’s always time to eat, look out the window, feel the wind in my fur, jump and catch flies, or play with my new toys! There’s no lack of time. Just watch your cat and learn. There’s time for everything!
A human teacher of mama’s once said, “Show up and shape time.” (Did a cat teach this man? I’m sure of it!) Put a cat’s spin on this. Show up and Stretch time! Next time you’re running around all stressed and in a bunch, watch your cat! Then stop — yes, stop! Let out a long, big maaaaa-ROWWWWW! Meee — WOWWWW! Get on the floor and play with your cat. Breathe! Laugh! Time opens up. You’ll see! Time’s funny like that. If you watch it too hard, it gets little, like a hard piece of cat kibble. If you relax and be free, time turns into an ever-flowing bowl of the best canned food ever, or maybe an endless pile of fresh mice and voles. Yum!
Have a great Thanksgiving! And give thanks to your cats (and yes, your dogs, too). We work hard to teach you a thing or two!
~ Jamie Bluebell
Mama STILL doesn’t have the iPhone (come on, already!), but here are my words of wisdom today!
Hi, I’m Jamie Bluebell! That’s JB to you, reader. Get used to it. (That’s my tagline.) (LOL CATZ!)
Anyway, my big brother Dyson (aka Rama Dasa, but don’t call him that or he’ll get a bigger head than me) taught me a great thing about opportunity. Actually, I let him teach me. We were wrestling one night in mama’s living room. Dyson bit me on the ear and then he hissed, “See that bug!”
“Where?” I shrieked, jumping straight up into the air, back arched.
“At the window,” he yelled.
In an instant we were at the window, side by side, heads upturned, and FOCUSED on That Bug.
Ahhh, the bug looked delicious! Fat and tantalizing, and moving in that way a cat loves.
“It could be a sting,” hissed Dyson, “or it could be a tasty treat!”
“Treat!” I yelled. Treats always win over stings. We jumped, leaping vertically at the same time. Dyson smashed the bug to the ground with a fat black paw. I zoomed. He already had most of it eaten (he IS a big boy), but I got a leg, I think. YUM!
Opportunity is everywhere — just keep your eyes open and your paws ready!
Have a great weekend!
Hi, I’m Jamie Bluebell! (That’s JB to you, reader.) I’m the newest member of the Catherine Holm household. This is MY blog — Did you hear me? Catherine Holm (aka Ann Catanzaro, writer who claims to know cats — Ha!) just thinks she blogs here. But step aside, Cat-ty — it’s my turn to shine in the spotlight! I am a tortoiseshell after all, and they don’t call it Tortitude for nothing.
I have the most amazing story — just ask me!! Cat lost a cat (Jamie) last year to old age and kidney failure. I came back in his place. Don’t believe in reincarnation? That’s okay. Just bear with me, or I’ll beat you over the head. Just kitting! LOL (catz). Yes I’m a goofball — blame it on my age. I’m still a kitten, for Cat’s Sake! Five months old, with the wisdom of the ages. Gotta. Love. Me. ^- -^
Stay tuned! Next time we’ll talk about how I slid so easily into the Holm Household. It’s all in the attitude (or Catitude, as Cat likes to sign her holiday letters). Occasionally, if I’m feeling like it, I might, maybe, just maybe, allow one or two of the other cats in the household to blog here as well…but only if they play with me and share their food and toys. They think they’re hot because they have their own books — but just wait, I’ll have my own book, too, and I won’t have to share the story with humans or other cats or anybody!
I’ve been traveling. And it has been so much fun. You see, I am an odd person. I love the country, and I love the city too. For the last 1-1/2 weeks I’ve been totally immersed in the city.
My first stop was the annual Cat Writers’ Association conference near LAX. I’ve been a member of this organization for several years, but this was my first conference. What a blast it was! I’m fairly introverted, but the conference was relatively small and everyone was so friendly that it was easy and fun to network. (Again, I’m the odd one — I am introverted and I like to network, t00). There were sessions on publishing, marketing, blogging, social media, Kindle, and even clicker training for cats. The last topic was fascinating, and included demonstrations with two gorgeous Bengal cats. I plan to try clicker training with my cats! Cats ARE trainable. I also sold copies of my cat fantasy books, as well as My Heart at the conference book signing event. This organization has talented members and there were lots of cat-related books and artwork I wanted to buy.
You can read more about the conference (and see pics) here in this article at catster.com. I also had the chance to meet with editors and an agent, and I will be writing for catster.com in the future. I am excited! So, if you love cats, go check out catster.com (and check out dogster.com for all goodness about dogs)!
Now, I’m in San Francisco visiting my brother. I always always always love it here. I’ve been busy checking out clothes, walking a lot, doing yoga once or twice a day at three very different studios (Laughing Lotus, Integral Yoga, and Urban Flow) and just hanging out with my brother. It’s a rich and fun time.
‘Til next time…
I'm in LA for a few days at the Cat Writers' Association annual conference. I had to mail a package back to Minnesota and it so happened that a very large LA post office was just a block away from my hotel. I've lived too long in a small town — the first thing I noticed when I walked into this post office were at least six or eight postal clerks behind a long long counter, all waiting on customers. I haven't seen a post office this big in some time.
I went up to be helped and a cute conversation ensued with the older gentleman behind the counter. At first he was all LA hurriedness. But then he asked for my driver's license to verify the payment.
Him: (slowing down) "Ahhh…Minnesota!" (I don't think they see MN licenses much.)
Him: "Ahhh." (giggling) "Land of 10 million lakes! Think I'll retire there and do some fishing!"
Me: (smiling) "Yeah…it's pretty nice there." (at that moment, longing for the lakes and the quiet as the planes roar overhead – we're quite close to LAX.) "Ten thousand lakes." (laughing)
Him: "Nice! But very cold, yeah? Very cold."
Me: "Yeah." (smiling) "I like the sun here."
Him: (less hurried now, more normal) "Have a good day!"
Traveling…the stuff of writing.
I just finished a well worth it, short nonfiction book. Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life, by Nick Mamatas, is a hard hitting, irreverent, truthful, and relevant book for writers. Mamatas describes both the fiction writing world and the commercial nonfiction writing world in short essays. What I love about this writer is his voice and his densely packed narrative — he packs a lot of information into each sentence and it’s compelling. I had a hard time putting this down. Writers, if you want or need a kick in the butt, buy this book!
Last Wish: A Cat Fantasy Short Story is going to press! The print version can be preordered on my website now! Of course, if you're local, you can buy it directly from me or at certain area shops. Stay tuned for details here on the blog.
Here is an excerpt, and a glance once again at the cover:
The magical cats Coralee and Target can shape time and and travel through space – but can they help an old man achieve his last wish?
“Ow!” Target cried. “Coralee? Where are you? Coralee! Where’d you go?” Black whizzed past him. The tunnel was too cold, too hard, too damp, too real, and he was certain they should have reached the end of it already. I should be sitting on the soft ground of UnderEarth, next to Coralee, breathing the magical smell of fresh grass, listening to the talking trees in the grove. But instead of that serenity, he felt the stinging prick of a sharp rock cutting into his leg, followed by a dizzying spin into darkness even more ebony than his coat, until the black tunnel lightened to a dull gray and the overpowering smell of stale urine assailed his sensitive nostrils.
Her legs are already the width and length of the older cats' legs.
She tires of playing more quickly, but can still run circles around the other cats.
She has a wise old look in those yellow kitten eyes.
She sleeps with a blissful expression, on her back, held by the crevice of the futon, eyes almost shut.
She calms down for long enough to let an older cat groom her, and she enjoys it.
Her tail is proud and high, and gets thicker by the day.
Her legs are catching up with the size of her paws, Her ears are still too big for her face, though.
Last Wish, A Cat Fantasy Short Story is heading to press soon! This is a 16-page story full of fun, cats, and fantasy, and good for all ages. Join the magical cats Coralee and Target as they help an old man achieve his last wish!
Last Wish will be available for sale at www.catherineholm.com, as is Kali's Will: A Cat Fantasy Short Story. The attractive print version of these books are both are priced at 4.95 each plus shipping/handling.
I will announce when Last Wish is available on my website. Stay tuned!
Both of these books are great holiday gifts for the cat lovers and readers in your life!
And here's a sneak peak at the amazing cover, thanks to the talented folks at Art Unlimited! (The text on back is filler text from Kali's Will, and will be replaced.)
Ahhh…we're back from a much-needed vacation. Here are a few short lessons I learned on the road!
- Get off the main drag and explore!
- Try something new, every day, every opportunity.
- If your intuition tells you to get out of a motel room, do so, even if it means checking out early.
- Stay in the moment! Brilliant fall color surrounded us throughout the trip.
- Search for cool, out of the way places, We had the best espresso ever (ever) in a backroads general store/coffee shop in Michigan. Great little book selection, too.
- Smile a lot. Enjoy being a tourist.
- Watch the sunrise, especially if you have a Really Big Lake to view the eastern horizon.
- Relax. It makes it easier to come back and jump into the fray.
So much of writing is sitting, sitting, sitting. But it doesn't have to be that way. No, it really doesn't.
I, perhaps like many of you, am a very stubborn person. When I start on something (creative writing, work writing, any project) I get very focused. I don't want to give it up until the project is done. This can be a great quality, and it can be very hard on the body.
Add into that all the time that a person can spend at a computer all day (work, business, administration, whatever) and it all adds up to a lot of sitting.
Give yourself permission to get up and move. You really will feel better. You'll think better, too. The body and the mind inform each other. Don't ignore your body. Let it inform you. Everything will feel better.
Ask yourself — do we want to end up like the humans in WALL-E? (Kidding, sort of, but the movie is marvelous social commentary. If you haven't seen it, view it. It's well well worth it!)
Remember to move — whatever that means for you! (Hint: remembering to breathe while you're sitting is a really good idea, too. Try it. You may be surprised to learn that you are holding your breath.)
This is nothing new, but remembering to play during the course of each day is a real upper!
My new kitten, Jamie Bluebell, is teaching us all in this regard.
Every day, at least twice, I give her a good play session. We have a new toy called the Feline Fisher. It's fantastic.
The really cool thing is that the rest of the cats have come ALIVE! They all want to play, too. No one can resist this cool toy. Even my 17-year-old Kali is swatting and jumping for this toy. It's a good laugh, just like music in the evening, or a fun movie. The cats are more active, and we are, too.
Those animals always have something for me to learn.
What has your cat or dog taught you lately?
In writing (in life? in any creative endeavor?) there's a place for depth, and there's a place for fun. Sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don't. I don't always give a lot of thought to my process, I just know what I like to write. I like to write fiction, and I like to write cat fantasy.
What's "cat fantasy"?
Here are a few cat fantasy books I've read and love. I've read some of these several times.
- Gabriel King's The Wild Road and The Golden Cat (There is a scene involving cats in a lab in one of these books that haunts me to this day).
- Dianne Duane's The Book of Night with Moon (Great book set in New York City, with a highly detailed world of cat magic. I read this several times.)
- Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams (A classic about a good natured orange tabby who tangles with evil. Haven't we all known one of those cats?)
I'm not a big mystery reader, but I recently judged three cat mystery novels for an annual professional writing contest. Now that was fun! I could get hooked on these mysteries. Each author handled the cats in the stories a bit differently. I liked it all.
As Ann Catanzaro, I write cat fantasy fiction. I've found writing cat fantasy (check out my cat fantasy, Kali's Will and the Orange Cat Club, here) incredibly fun. Writing is not the easiest profession in the world, but a little fun really helps soften the path.
If you love to imagine what your companion animal might do in a story, or how their characters might develop in a story, check out these books. Or, check out my friend Amber Polo's new dog fantasy book The Shapeshifters' Library! If you love dogs and libraries, and you don't like book burning werewolves, you'll love this book!
A friend's cat is not eating. The friend has already lost 3 cats in the last year and is requesting assistance (thoughts, good vibes, prayers, or donations). I've been in this situation (cat not eating) and it is baffling and stressful and can mean a number of things. Please take a look! Thank you. click here: http://andreadorn.blogspot.com/2012/09/mewdy-blue.html
I have the delusion that I can do many things at once. But, usually, that's physically impossible, not to mention stressful. Righ now, there is a ton of stuff to do around the homestead, and there's never enough time to do it all. This is especially true in the fall, with winter's deadline bearing down.
I believe we are all too busy in today's world. I'm consciously trying not to be so busy. I don't like the feeling it leaves me with inside.
So instead of thinking about the apples/corn/cukes/tomatoes/basil that need to be processed, I try to get some tunnel vision.
It's not easy. I want to do it all at once.
Right now — apples. Only. Then corn, after apples are done.
Because ultimately, I'm happier if one thing gets done then if a bunch of things are started but not finished.
Same with writing.
Finish memoir manuscript first.
Then, start novel.
Novel creation, for me, requires real immersion.
I kno we're all different. This is what works for me. I used to think I was a phenomenal multitasker — and I can be — but I've found it serves me better to focus on one thing at a time. And, to try and simplify and be less busy in the first place.
What works for you?