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Posted by on Oct 12, 2015 in Behind the Scenes | 4 comments

Undercover Series: Book 5 Delays

Is the Undercover Series in jeopardy?

Is the Undercover Series in jeopardy?

If you’ve been playing the home game, you may have noticed that 2015 is nearly over yet I haven’t had much to say about the fifth book in the Undercover Series, LOVE ONLY SLEEPS. And there’s a really good reason for that. I don’t have anything to say.

Let me back up. When I released LOVE LIES BLEEDING, I had every intention of diving into the next book in the series as soon as I got a few minor projects out of the way. Even this year, I had the bulk of the story’s twists and turns in my head, ready to hit the page. As of this moment, I haven’t so much as typed out the prologue I know by heart in my head. Why?

I’ve been grieving for two years and I’m still too sad.

My Rookie Mistake

Buddy and Chloe

Buddy Bear and Chloe Kitty…just chillin’

When I first began writing what later became AGENTS OF DECEIT in the spring or summer of 2001 (dude, I had this series sitting in a drawer for years), I thought it would be super-fun to give my real-life cats to Jenna. That scene where Chloe sits by the bed shrieking like a banshee who didn’t get to save 15% in 15 minutes with Geico? Multiply that by about a million and you have a backstage pass into my life. Except it’s not just at bedtime. Sometimes it happens at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. Sometimes, it goes on and on and on and on All. Day. Long. But she’s got brain damage, so what are you gonna do. Most days, we’re doing good if she remembers I’m the same nice lady who held her an hour ago. Occasionally, she can even figure out how to get onto the bed without sounding the alarm.

But she’s not the problem. Buddy Bear is the problem.

New writers: Never, ever, under any circumstances put your own pets into your writing.

The Buddy Situation

Buddy Bear trying to help me work, fall or winter 2012

Buddy Bear trying to help me work, summer  2012

If you follow my Facebook page or read the dedication to FORESIGHT IS FLAWLESS, you already know we lost him May 10, 2013. He was about three weeks shy of turning 15. Captain Awesome found him shortly after we moved into our second apartment. Bear was basically with me for the entirety of my adult life.

Until spring 2013 when he started throwing up all the time and Captain Awesome didn’t like the way the he was breathing. Took him to the vet and…cancer. Big mass in his lung. If we wanted to have it removed, the surgery would’ve been upwards of $1,500. I would’ve begged, borrowed and possibly prostituted my husband to make it happen if we hadn’t been told the survival rate was 10%. (You could actually hear our hearts breaking in unison at the news.)

Instead, the vet suggested that we could give him steroid shots every three weeks to keep him eating. If you don’t have a lot of experience with cats, they basically wither to nothing within a few days of losing their appetites. So we did that and took him home. Then we proceeded to buy the calorie-rich, gravy-filled canned foods that we never would’ve dreamed giving to a healthy cat in hopes of upping his calorie intake. And it worked.

For about 10 days.

My poor Buddy Bear when we brought him home from the vet for the last time

My poor Buddy Bear when we brought him home from the vet for the last time

After that, moving became a chore for him. He never closed his eyes, even if he appeared to be sleeping. At one point, he would lick his tongue over the food so we’d be happy because we’d think he was eating even though he wasn’t touching the food. Since both Captain Awesome and I worked from home at the time and Buddy Bear had decided that the futon in his office was the only place he wanted to lay, I used to leap out of bed as soon as I heard my husband stirring in the mornings so that I could run to the other side of the house and make sure Buddy was still alive. Buddy was totally his cat and I couldn’t stand the thought of him being the one to find him. But every morning I’d hear him purring before I walked into the office.

By the morning of May 10, Captain Awesome was more upset than I’d ever seen him over the amount of pain Buddy was obviously in. We made the decision and I scheduled the appointment with the vet for that evening.

Worst experience of my life.

Why It Matters

If you’ve read through the series, you know that Buddy appears in all the books. Chloe’s normally hiding because that’s just how she is. But Buddy? He was a totally in your face food monster until he got his morning can in real life. In some books he only shows up a little bit. In other books, he’s standing between two grown men ready to come to blows over something stupid, meowing and biting them for attention.

And that’s how it has to stay, for a number of reasons:

  1. I think it’s bad writing when an author puts a family pet into a book series and then basically forgets about them
  2. Jenna would never, ever get rid of her cats–even if Jackson were crazy allergic
  3. I will do a lot of deplorable things to torture my characters, but I’m not going to kill off a cat just so I don’t have to remember how much I miss Buddy.

Sure, I could probably just shove Buddy off into the corner for a book or two…if I didn’t already have everything plotted out for the next book in the series. Without getting spoilerish, knowing where Buddy came from (if you were paying attention in the first and fourth books), something happens at the very beginning of LOVE ONLY SLEEPS that would make Buddy’s absence noticeable.

Why I Can’t Write Yet

While running errands with Captain Awesome on Saturday, I mentioned that I was planning to hit the Undercover Series hard as soon as I finish the Valentine’s Day Sherlock Shakespeare Mystery that I’ll have out by the end of the year. He asked if I actually thought I could handle that since he knows how much time I’ll have to devote to remembering how Buddy would act in specific situations because I’d want to get it right. I told him that after nearly two and a half years, I was in a good place. Sure, I still cried sometimes when we’d talk about him, but…I totally had this.

Then we got home and I popped onto Facebook to make sure it didn’t implode without me. First thing I saw was a fellow writer who just had to put her cat to sleep. Because I’m a masochist, I looked at every picture she’d posted. And then I did the ugly cry. You know, the one where your boo-hoo convulsions are so loud that the neighbors are probably contemplating calling the cops. When Captain Awesome realized what was going on, he ran over and put his arms around me, asking me what was wrong. “A friend just put her cat to sleep.” Trying to gasp for breath between uncontrollable sobbing. “It’s a ginger Bear.”

Yeah, minus the white chest and white boots, her cat was the spitting image of Buddy Bear, except orange instead of gray. Same fluffiness. Same eyes.

I’m pretty sure the last time I cried that loud and that long–other than when we put Bear to sleep, obviously–was when I lost my grandmother.

Is the Undercover Series Dead?

No. Y’all…I want to write the next book. I owe you the next book after the last line of LOVE LIES BLEEDING’s epilogue and the mystery surrounding Kyly McShae. And I know y’all want me to write the next installment because you’ve asked me about it on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and this blog.

The characters I introduced in the first four books have a lot of story left to tell. I’m going to tell it. And I’m going to tell it right.

I know, I know…there are some who don’t understand when people treat cats like kids, but…he was. I’m aware that if I was with a big New York publisher that my editor would’ve been like, “Tough luck about your cat. Take the weekend to get your shit together and get us that completed first draft next week.” And more than anything, I know that it’s not fair to leave all of you hanging because my cat died and I can’t figure out how to handle it yet.

But I’m working through it. As silly as those Sherlock Shakespeare Mysteries may seem to Undercover Series readers…they help me. A lot.

Writing silliness and ghosts and a teen sleuth and a crazy bakery in a weird little town makes me feel somehow better. Don’t get me wrong; I love me some sexy murder writing–probably more than is healthy, if I’m honest–but taking a break from all the heavy stuff has made life a little less hard this last year.

I’ll make you this promise: If you’ll cut me just the tiniest amount of slack and let me finish writing my Scooby-Doo-esque goofball mysteries for the rest of this year, I will make it a priority to get the LOVE ONLY SLEEPS outline completed by the end of December so I can hit it hard in 2016. I never show my unedited work to anyone outside my trusted inner circle of beta readers–especially with this series–but I’ll also post the prologue as soon as I’ve written it and am reasonably certain I haven’t included the most mortifying typos imaginable.


***Heads up. I’ll be switching from Feedburner to Mail Chimp in the next few months. I’m not sure how that will impact existing subscribers when I import your email addresses over, but if you want to make sure you get notified about the prologue, you’ll definitely want to be subscribed. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of a migration, but you want to get on the newsletter subscription list when it’s available, you can send your preferred email address to sydney [at] authorsydneykatt [dot] com or use the contact form on this website. I won’t use your email to spam you and I won’t try to sell it for a gazillion dollars to the good folks at male enhancement pill marketing companies. I’ll simply keep it in a file until I have a working Mail Chimp newsletter I can add you to. Easy peasy. Also, let me know whether you want to be subscribed only to the blog posts, only to the newsletter or both.

© 2015, Sydney Katt. All rights reserved.

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  1. I’m sorry about Buddy. He was gorgeous. <3

    Good to know the series is ongoing. I'm looking forward to designing that cover. It's always tough when we lose one of our furbabies. And it's really good advice not to mix our pets into our writing.

    By the way, regarding your newsletter. I find MailPoet is much nicer and not limited like MailChimp. Chimp will limit you at some point if your list grows too much. With MailPoet, your quota is open because obviously, you're hosted with us.

    • He really was. We’ve got an adorable picture of him sitting on the back of a couch holding one of those toy fishing poles that has the catnip-filled fish on the end of it. Not sure exactly where it is. Captain Awesome buried it in a box or album somewhere so he wouldn’t accidentally come across it. It’s a great picture of him when he was transitioning out of being a kitten. Really wish we’d had him when he was a kitten. Still can’t believe his first family abandoned him.

      I’ve looked into that one and haven’t been all that impressed with it. The Cap doesn’t understand why I don’t want to use Constant Contact. I don’t think he knows anything about spam laws and email marketing. *shakes head*

  2. Kudos to moving forward.

    It is never easy to lose a loved one of the two-legged or four-legged kind and you are definitely spot on when it comes to keeping your pets out of your story.

    It can be hard for a writer to ignore the urge to plop their favorite feline or canine into their work. I had to balance this decision a few years and ended up using my dream breed, an Akita, in the story. This has worked well since my wife will never want on in the house (And it is an argument not worth having) but I get to play it out on paper.

    • A lot less hair to clean up when you’re dealing with fictional pets too. ;)

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