I’ve had twenty-five children’s fiction books published (Capstone, Random House). My books include twelve easy readers, twelve chapter books, and one middle grade novel.
My easy readers contribute to the Max and Zoe series, about two fun-loving best friends and their misadventures (for grades K-2).
My chapter books (for grades 2-3) include eight titles in the Adventures at Hound Hotel series and four in the Adventures at Tabby Towers series. I created them both, and humor and mishaps abound. The books are popular with boys and girls alike.
Hound Hotel and Tabby Towers are published in both the US and the UK. Many of the books have been translated into Spanish and Romanian.
Here are the Romanian titles:
Here are the Spanish titles:
I also wrote a humorous, contemporary, middle-grade novel, Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof (Delacorte/Random House). I sent a copy of Cat to Capstone Press’s editor-in-chief, which led to the Max and Zoe contracts, which led to Hound Hotel, which led to the Tabby Towers contract. Thank you Random House and Capstone!
Woof, woof, MEOW! (Translation: Reading is FUN!)
In late summer 2016, I wrote synopses, created characters and developed the setting for Tabby Towers. As with Hound Hotel, the series launched with four titles. Here’s an email that I wrote to my editor in the early stages of the project:
Dear Editor X,
Hello! I hope you’re well and all recovered from your surgery!
Attached are the summaries for Books 1-4 of the Tabby Towers series. I chose four breeds that are common and popular in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Australia. I avoided breeds with countries in their name, such as “American shorthair” or “British shorthair.” I also chose breeds with temperaments and physical characteristics that lent themselves to the stories I’d developed. The stories came from my weeks of research, in which I read nearly two dozen adult, non-fiction books about cats.
In keeping with the Hound Hotel pattern, I chose cat names with a “y” or “ie” ending. Of course, I also chose names that matched, alliteration-wise, the first word in each title.
I chose human-character names with felines in mind: Grandpa Tom (as in tomcat); Grandma Kit (for obvious reasons); and Tabitha Catarina Felinus (nickname Tabby Cat) for the protagonist. Felinus is a Latin given name that means cat-like. I suggest it be the surname for Tom, Kit, and Tabitha.
Dog-loving Alfreeda Wolfe, from the Hound Hotel series, appears in each story as the antagonist, as each one features an angle of the girls’ ever-present argument: which is better … dogs or cats?
Lastly, I decided that Tabitha should be an only child, very much a self-contained loner, which is more cat-like. She, like a cat, is a “pack of one.” I decided not to create a little brother for her, as I felt there would be ample tension between introverted, cat-loving Tabitha and extroverted, dog-loving Alfreeda.
I’ve got two weeks to pound out the first story and I suggest it be BOXING BOOTSIE. This story is set at the beginning of Tabitha’s summer at Tabby Towers and introduces the rural setting, main characters, and the personality differences between Tabitha and Alfreeda.
Please let me know asap if you have any issues with the BOOTSIE summary or if you prefer that I begin drafting a different book first. I’ll start writing on Tuesday.
Thanks so much, Editor X! I look forward to hearing from you!
Below are two illustrations from the Tabby Towers series. Oh yes, they’re meowingly adorable. Many thanks to illustrator Deborah Melmon.
And below are sample pages and illustrations from the Hound Hotel series. Enjoy!