My human’s indie publishing company has received some submissions for the rescue cat anthology that I blogged about a while back, and they are awesome! Some of them even made my human misty eyed… and that was just the sample paragraphs! There is only one problem: some of you haven’t completely followed the submission instructions. In fact, so far only about three writers have followed the directions exactly. So I figured my human and I could help you by showing you an example. I am going to use the cat before me, Harlot, as a submission. She is not really going to be in the book, but she has the type of story that would go in it.
Let’s go over the submission requirements:
One or two photos of the cat narrating the story. My human does not have a ton of photos of Harlot, but here are a couple. Notice that one photo was not very good quality so she got creative and put it in a frame. Maybe you can come up with a way to make a bad or out of focus photo acceptable. (The photos should be higher resolution, or a much bigger file, than what is here on the blog.) So far, only one person has neglected to include any photos.
A one-page synopsis of your cat’s story. This can be written in third person. There is a reason they asked for this: it makes the writer think and start to organize her story — give it a beginning, middle and an end. This is probably the hardest part to do but it will win you tons of brownie points because it shows that you can put together a story from beginning to end. It is actually even better than submitting the story in full. Here is how Harlot’s synopsis would go:
Harlot was born wild in the city of San Pedro, CA, and even at the age of 8 weeks, she was street-wise, independent and cunning. Young as she was, she knew how to manipulate humans, and when the right one came along, it was easy to convince her to bring her home, an hour drive north to Los Feliz. The town’s proximity to Hollywood, and her new human’s occupation as a rock ‘n’ roll photo journalist, brought her adventures she could never have dreamed of.
In the course of her 15 years, Harlot hobnobbed with rockers, both local and world class. But she took visits from the Cult’s Ian Astbury and the future manager of the Beastie Boys in stride. More important to her was making sure she was top cat both inside her home and outside. She became infamous as queen of the trash around her apartment’s parking lot—a title that was sometimes challenged, but never successfully. And she was always the queen bee in her human’s eyes. She made sure of that.
Harlot’s life took a terrible turn when her human moved her away from her beloved trashcans to a ramshackle house in the hipster enclave of Silver Lake. But she discovered that what she lost in trash, she gained in prey that roamed on nearly a half acre of hunting grounds. She spent the next several years supplementing her meals with squirrel, pigeon and mice, and teaching her human how to be tough and fierce in the untamed world of the music industry.
Harlot’s loyalty to her human was shaken just once, when both of them fell in love with the same guy, the handsome singer of a local hard rock band. A sweet and gentle soul most of the time, he had just one unfortunate flaw: he was a heroin addict. This, of course, did not make a big difference to Harlot but it did to her human. Harlot was not pleased when the boyfriend was sent away and replaced couple of years later with yet another musician—one who (horrors!) did not worship her or treat her with the groveling respect she deserved. Even worse, he liked dogs. In spite of this insult, she remained true to her human and managed to persevere as Los Angeles’s premier rock ‘n’ roll kitty.
See? It does not have to be brilliant, just tell the story and show a little bit of personality.
The first three paragraphs of the cat’s story, written through the cat’s eyes, just the way they might appear in the book. The reason why they ask for this is because the first few paragraphs of a story will determine right away if the reader is going to keep reading! So you need to grab attention right from the start. It is also an example of the writing style for the story. There is dialogue near the beginning of Harlot’s story, so it actually runs more than three paragraphs, but it is not too long and completes a thought. So you can fudge it a bit, but only a bit:
When you’re born on the street, you learn quickly to make friends with opportunity. Kittens who don’t get this inevitably come to bad ends — they are run over by cars, mauled by dogs, or victimized by mean humans. By the time I was eight weeks old, I knew how to hide so that neither my brightly-hued calico fur nor my kitten-fresh scent were detectible. I understood that a parked car offered shade but not safety. And most importantly, I knew which humans to trust and which ones to avoid. But nothing had prepared me for the girl I met that summer afternoon.
I had engaged a small group of children in playtime. They were sweet and fun with their crinkly pigtails and flowery sundresses. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. I could smell their lack of guile. And then she came along. She towered over the children, had unnaturally black hair and wore so many skinny silver bracelets they jingled. But she looked at me with the same delight that the kids did. It was an innocent sense of fun that I rarely saw in any grown up humans. And I knew I could use that to my advantage.
The girl scrunched down to my level, or as near as she could get, and picked up a nearby stick. I pawed at it and pretended to attack it. She certainly knew how to make it behave like prey.
“Whose kitty is this?” she asked.
“It’s not ours,” said the girl with the pink barrettes. “I don’t think it has a home.”
“Oh! Well, maybe I’d better find a home for her.”
That is when I knew I had her. The moment she picked me up, I knew she was going to be mine.
The URLs to your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter accounts — plus any social networking sites you belong to that you would like to include. You actually do not need any of this to be considered, but it will really help in promoting the book, because all the writers will have a hand in doing that when it comes out. But I think a couple of submitters left out this information because they forgot! If you don’t have any social media accounts, please say so. It won’t kill your submission if it is good.
If you have already submitted a story and you messed up on a few things, don’t worry! You can send the information you forgot and it will be added onto the rest of your submission. If you sent a whole story, then you do not need to worry about the sample paragraphs or synopsis. But it is better, actually, to send the paragraphs and synopsis in lieu of a whole story.
If you want the full submission requirements, they are here. The good news is that since it took so long for my human to come up with the materials to clarify the submission process, the deadline has been extended until November 1! If you have any questions after looking over the submission requirements, you can email my human at rescuesubmissions AT fitcatinc DOT com. Good luck, and please keep them coming!