The editor’s cat is an editor, too

February 6, 2011

For a few months now, a lot of things have been going on behind the scenes here. You know Dr. Becker has a book coming out in the spring — “Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual” — which I helped to write, along with Kim Campbell Thornton and Jana Murphy, with additional input from the rest of the PetConnection team, especially Dr. Tony Johnson and Christie “Deerhound Connection” Keith.

And yes, we’ve also upped our reporting from conferences and trade shows, added more places where our work shows up (such as and generally, just hustled our butts off to try to make it in a tough economy that’s even tougher for writers.

One thing I wanted to try was e-books. We have a team that many veterinary schools and certainly specialty practices would envy, not to mention we have some of the top writers in the pet-care world. So I had this idea of e-books, short, tightly focused and very inexpensive works on a single topic people need to know about, such as how to know if your pet needs to go to the ER (Dr. Tony, of course, in his own unique style), how to introduce a new baby to an established pet (Arden Moore and Mikkel Becker), hospice care and pain management (Dr. Robin Downing), various dog-training topics (Liz Palika) and so on.

We’re getting ready to make the first of these book available soon, with the help of an outstanding editor, Greg Melvin (that’s him at right, going over Dr. Tony’s e-book, which he’s editing on paper, being Greg).  Greg is MY editor, the person I have worked with the longest in what is becoming a pretty long career (just because, hey, I’m getting old!). Until fairly recently, Greg was at Universal Press, where he edited Ann Coulter, Aaron McGruder, Dear Abby, Roger Ebert, James J. Kilpatrick and many more writers and cartoonists, and yes, that’s the entire range of left-to-right politics, and all his writers loved him.  (Here’s an article on him, talking about what it was like to edit such a wide range of opinion.) He is an old-school editor, the kind of person whose mastery (and I don’t use that term lightly) of the language is complete, but more than that, you never see his fingerprints on your work: When he edits, it’s as if you wrote it, but better. And yes, he prefers to edit on paper, even e-books.

He is the best editor with whom I have ever worked, and I have worked with a lot of very good editors. He has also, over the years, become my very good friend.

Greg is now working for the federal judiciary, but since he has nights and weekends available in theory, I asked him to take on editing the e-books, and he agreed.

I’m writing from his home in Overland Park, Kansas, now, staying here over the weekend to talk about the e-books (and Madeira, jazz, film noir, Monty Python and Chaucer) before I head in to Kansas City for a couple days of meetings about the spring book tour.

This morning Greg took off for a four-mile walk (he walks 36 miles a week, four miles a day during the week and four miles twice a day on the weekends, no matter the weather … even during blizzards) leaving me with his utterly charming cat, Harry.

Turns out Harry is an editor, too, “helping” me with my writing this morning.

That Harry is here to harass me is a bit of a miracle. He was born on Greg’s uncle’s farm in Mississippi, and Greg saved him on a family visit. He tried to catch all the kittens and the mother, but only Harry would allow himself to be picked up.  The little kitten had every kind of parasite known to cats, and barely made the transition from farm kitten to suburban housecat, he was so sick. Now he has it so good that Greg immediately got a stern warning from me about Harry’s weight … which he’ll need to be reducing slowly before I am back in Kansas City this spring.

Hmmm … maybe the editor and the editor’s cat can write a feline weight-loss guide together. Then I can edit him.


  1. Cats make some of the toughest editors around. I speak from purrsonal experience.

    Comment by Ingrid King — February 6, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  2. We are lucky to have such a bright star among us! I can’t wait to how this all comes out.

    That sounds a little like the list of topics that Patty Khuly and I chatted about on the UK trip. Did you guys ever get around to talking about chickens?

    Comment by Dr. Johnson — February 6, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  3. Have you given thought to the formats your ebooks will be available in? I don’t have a Kindle, I have a Nook. And I’m not going to download an app so that I can read a book on my computer–and not on my Nook.

    The Nook uses the non-proprietary epub format; there’s really no reason why an ebook should not be available for the Nook. And yet that’s what Readyornot Press has done. :(

    I hope your ebooks will be more widely accessible.

    Comment by Lis — February 6, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  4. We will have it for all platforms. :)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 6, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  5. But the real question is: What did you two decide about Chaucer?

    Comment by Debbie — February 6, 2011 @ 6:50 pm

  6. Debbie, I knew that would get your attention. We’ll talk. :)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 6, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  7. Pre 12 foot basement Harry. Harmless
    creature from………

    Comment by Groove C. — February 7, 2011 @ 11:42 am

  8. There’s nothing Greg & Gina say here that wasn’t already said through the smooth jazz tones of Gerald Sims – and I speak as one who has heard them!

    Too bad the article didn’t mention the fact that Harry does pole dancing . . . .

    Comment by Coleman Hawkins — February 13, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  9. I am getting the impression that all Greg’s friends are … um … interesting individuals. :)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 13, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

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