For Readers

To The Person Who Shot Our Cat.

By Kathryn Evans

I have tried to imagine what you were thinking as you lined up the sights of your air rifle on his body. I presume he was clearly visible, perhaps standing on a fence, his black fur silhouetted against the morning sun, the white patch under his chin clearly visible as he held up his curious head to see what you were doing – for he loved people and he would not have been afraid. He would not have fled until you pulled the trigger and the pellet sliced through the middle of his body, causing the catastrophic internal bleeding that killed him.

If your imagined task was to get a clean kill, well, you hit him, your aim could have been better, but your shot did take his life. Don’t imagine you are a good marksman though.  He was a big cat, almost fully grown. A big black cat presumably standing still. A four year old could have taken that shot and hit. My son could have when he was a small child. He could have, but he wouldn’t have done, because he was brought up to respect life.

There are reasons why we shoot animals. We shoot them for food and because they are pests. I have no problem with the former but have always struggled with the later.  In fact, I am the kind of person who does not blame the fox if I failed to protect my chickens from his hungry gaze. It is my job to protect my animals – though I never thought I would have to protect my cats from a person like you.

Why did you do it?

I assume you didn’t plan to eat him as his bled out body was left in our drive way for my husband to find. Although it could have been one of my children. I am deeply grateful it was not.

Perhaps you are a breeder of birds, and feel unable to properly protect them with a fence. Maybe that’s it. Maybe he was worrying your birds. It would have been no trouble at all to find out who he belonged to and request we put a collar on him with a bell.  Or rats maybe? Perhaps you are a great defender of rats? We do have a lot of rats around here. Well sadly, you got the wrong cat because Pike was excellent at catching tiny voles. That was about it.

Let’s assume you did not do this in an idle moment to give yourself a bit of a thrill. To boost your pathetic ego. Let’s say you truly imagined you were a great defender of tiny voles and you decided you must take vengeance upon the evil scourge of the cat.  Well let me tell you about Pike, the cat whose life you took.

Pike was a rescue cat. We had him from a kitten and he was just over a year old. He’d had a lot of illnesses in his short life, probably due to poor nutrition when he was very tiny. I had nursed him through each of those illnesses and he was starting to look like the young strong cat he should have been.

Pike did not know he was a cat.  He just thought he was a member of our family. He shared a bed with my Labrador. He would roll on his back to have his tummy tickled and would climb on laps for cuddles. He would nuzzle my fingers, for I was a surrogate mother to him and he would try to suck them as a small child might suck on a dummy. He chattered away to anyone who would listen – he was particularly vocal if he’d caught a tiny vole. That was enormously exciting.

He would crawl under the duvet of my son’s bed, or curl up with my other cats, even if they didn’t want him to. He would insist on being loved. He sought out affection from everybody. He would have done so from you if you had not shot him. He wasn’t very bright to be honest, but he was funny and friendly and beautiful and he was loved.

When you shot him, you tore a chunk from the heart of our family. You damaged my children’s faith in humanity.  You hurt us.

I know I will probably never know who you are but I know who you are not. You are not kind. You are not a warrior. You are not a hunter. And in case you didn’t know, what you did was a crime. The police are investigating, though I doubt you will be caught.

Of course, worse things happen. People break into schools and take the lives of children. They strap bombs to their bodies and kill innocent people. If that’s the scale you measure your crime against, I am sad for you.  You are not a good person.

You are the cause of somebody else’s pain.

But you can change that.

Everyone makes a choice of how to live their life. Live yours better.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kathryn Evans.

IMG_6552

PS To all the wonderful people who have shared this post,  here’s a little thank you. Pike, A Short Life But A Fabulous One

 

Kathryn Evans is an author and farmer’s wife. She lives on  a strawberry farm near Chichester,  with her husband, two children and a host of furred and feathered creatures.    More of Me, published by Usborne, is her debut novel. Agent: Sophie@sophiehicksagency.com 

 

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

How to Make an Author Website Part 1

The very obvious answer is to pay a professional but hey, most of us live in the real world. Paying a professional web designer may be desirable, even sensible,  but it’s also far more expensive than free. Author advances can quickly be gobbled by such expenses. If you want to build a free site for yourself,  but are baffled at how to begin, hopefully I can give you a few tips over the next few weeks. Ready?

WEEK  1 The very, very basics……….

A few people have asked this question on various different forums so I thought I’d tell you how I did it. I’m no expert, I know a very very limited  amount of coding, so what what I’m going to tell you is very basic but it’s probably enough to get you started. It’s also based on what I’ve learned as I’ve built various sites – there will be other ways to do it, possibly even easier ways!

PLATFORMS/WEBSITE BUILDERS

Imagine a village high street full of shop fronts, behind which is the workshop with all the equipment to display the things in the shop hidden at the back. Those workshops are the website builders, or the platforms, and  the shop front is your website. There are a lot of workshops to choose from and I can’t tell you about them all because I  don’t have experience of them all. I’ve used:

Blogger ( meh)

Jimdo (Ok )

Weebly (Ok)

BT’s own website builder ( yuk)

WordPress.com (my fave and where this website is built)

GETTING STARTED

Ready? We’re going to use wordpress and we’re going to build a really simple website together. I can’t promise I’ll do it all logically, I learned this stuff by trial and error, but by the end of this page you will have a website. Click this link, it’ll open  on a new page so you won’t lose this one: GETTING STARTED  (TIP To save you hopping back from one page to another,  if you have Windows 7 or above, , you can pull apart the tabs at the top. We’ll call this blog A, and your new website B. Just left click on the tab for A and drag it away from B. Use the double page icon top right to make it smaller, then drag it to the left hand side of the screen as far as it’ll go – it should lock in place and fill the left side of the screen. Now  make B a bit smaller the same way and drag it all the way over to the right. It should lock in place next to it so you can work in them side by side.)

THEME

web theme

On the page you’ve opened, you’ll be asked to choose a theme. This is the style of your website. Choose one you like, you can always change it later. I’ve chosen SOLA because it’s pink and I like it. Click your choice and you’ll move on to choose your…

DOMAIN NAME

Your domain name is just your blog address. That’s it. If you already own a domain name, you’ll need to map it to your new website.  If you are starting from scratch, as I’m guessing you are if you are using my super easy guide,  you can chose a domain name in the next step. Unless you choose something that ends wordpress.com you will need to pay for it and it’s usually a small annual fee. The advantage of a paid web address is just that it looks more professional and fits more neatly on your business cards/book marks.

domain

But it’s up to you – for the purposes of this exercise, I’ve chosen

http://www.newauthor.wordpress.com

Cos it’s free and I already have a website.

So go ahead, type what you like in the domain or key name box and take your pick. It makes sense for you to choose your name  not your book title – there’ll be more books coming after all! And we’re nearly there….

CREATE YOUR WEBSITE

Choose your plan – we’re going for a freebie, you can always upgrade it later – so do it now,  click select a free plan!

plan

There you go, we’ve done it! The website exists – now all we need to do is add content and for that we need to go into the workshop behind the shopfront…ready?

GET STARTED

Click the magic words Let’s get Started.

new site

And we’re in the workshop…

workshop

 

Today we’re going to WRITE a front page, insert  a PICTURE and add  some LINKS.

To begin just WRITE your title in the box where it says title…just type over it, it’ll be fine.

Now click underneath the little bar of icons to add content to the body of the page..

We’re going to add a PICTURE.  See the add media button  in this picture?

add picture

 

Click it.

This page will store all your images and videos – click add new or add media and choose a file from your pictures folder on your computer.  Make it a good one…Once it’s uploaded, click insert. There’s other stuff you can do on this page but we are keeping it simple…

add media

Once you have inserted your picture you can change its size by clicking on it and dragging one of the tiny white boxes at the corner in or out.  When you’ve clicked the picture, you’ll also see some icons – these allow you to change the position of the picture and add a caption – go ahead and have a play – you can always use the back arrow to undo what you’ve done – you’ll find that in the second bar of icons at the top of  the place you’re adding your content. It’s just a back bending arrow.

picture added

Done?

Ok, now add some text underneath

Let’s use your bio – you can get some bio writing tips from me and Nick Cross over on Notes from the Slushpile.

You are basically writing a blog post but we can organise your content more as we learn.  Wordpress will save as you go but if you want to save more frequently there’s a tiny blue SAVE up on the left hand side, over the publish button. You  are doing GREAT and we’re nearly there for today. All we’re going to do now is add some LINKS! These are little gateways to other webpages. You might want to link straight to where someone can buy your book, or you might want to link to some other interesting content.

You could just put a web address in for people to copy and paste but it looks so much more professional to add a link to text. To do this, first find the website you want to link to . Next, highlight the piece of text you want the link to jump from.

link

Next, copy the web address you want to link to from the address bar of the page – highlight, right click, copy. Come back to your new website . Now look at the top line of icons at the top of the page, see the little chain icon? That’s your tool for adding hyperlinks. Click it.

hyperlink button

Right click in the box marked URL and paste the website address you want to link to. Then tick the box underneath that says ‘open in another page’ – that just means they won’t lose your website when they click the link. Click Add link.

link url

You’ve done it!!

Just one more tiny thing:

On the left hand side of the screen there are a few buttons that will help people find and navigate around your websites.  We’ll come to most of them another time but we’re going to set your featured image today. Just click the drop down menu on featured image, select Set featured image, and choose the picture you uploaded earlier by clicking on it and then clicking Set Featured Image.

 

Now press that big blue button on the left that says PUBLISH.

 

We like that word 🙂 Well done, you’ve got a very basic website! We’ll add more next time! Now I have to go and write a book…but in the mean time, here’s one we made earlier. we’ll iron out some of the creases soon!

 

Next week : Categories and tags

 

In addition to running a fruit farm, Kathryn is a mother who loves to belly dance, fences competitively and is  a passionate supporter of SCBWI for whom she volunteers as Finance Co-ordinator for SCBWI British Isles. She lives on her farm near Chichester. More of Me, published by Usborne, is her debut novel. Agent: Sophie@sophiehicksagency.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books, For Readers, More of Me

More of Me is OUT NOW

I am in a whirl. What a crazy, crazy week it’s been. My amazing family and friends cleared out two launch events of books. Incredible reviews have been rolling in every day. I’ve been given flowers and chocolates and beautiful hand made More of Me stars (from my editor – we love a bit of Usborne Make & Do!) There was this in the Guardian and…

And then my wonderful agent said…

How’s the next  book coming along?

Aaaargh!!!! So, to work, but here are a few photographs from an amazing week – thanks to Candy Gourlay, Christine Vinall, Susan Robbins, Nancy Hughes, Sophie Boyle and Sarah McIntye for pictures – sorry if I missed anyone!

Featured Image -- 2269Buy it now!