Carmella The Cat helps redefine author Ann Cerino’s life
Every animal is precious and deserves a forever home. That is the theme of Ann Cerino’s series of children’s books based on Carmella the Cat.
Check out this month’s Give-Away of Carmella The Cat & Carmella The Cat Goes Fishing
Carmella The Cat has been a long-time thought that has finally been put into action. Now 60, Cerino is re-inventing herself. After 42-years in retail, she is writing a series of children’s books based on true cat stories.
The Carmella The Cat series is based on Cerino’s cat, the real Carmella, who was found, along with her litter-mates, in a flooded drainage ditch. Carmella was the only kitten to survive. She was rushed to The Cat Doctor, Dr. Ackerman, who helped save her life by treating her until she was healthy and ready to be adopted. When Carmella was well, Dr. Ackerman introduced the tiny kitten to Cerino who had recently put her cat to sleep, and a loving, fur-ever match was made.
It was like, I don’t want any more, but I’ve got to have him
Cerino tells about her best friend walking by a construction site, and found a cat who had just had kittens in the drainage pipe. All the kittens had drowned except this one little orange and white tabby. She picked up the tiny kitten, who could fit in the palm of her hand, and rushed her to the vet.
Meanwhile Cerino was at wit’s end. She had put her gorgeous Persian kitty to sleep and was hysterical. Her vet said nothing will make the hurt go away like another kitten, and she brought out this tiny kitten.
‘It was like, I don’t want any more, but I’ve got to have him,’ she said.
The idea for the original book stemmed from a conversation with a long-lost cousin at a family reunion some 9-years ago. She was showing everyone cute pictures of her new kitten. ‘My cousin, whom she hadn’t seen for years, asked, ‘What’s her name? Carmella. Carmella the cat.’
As she was driving home, she kept thinking this would be a great name for a children’s series, one that would show all life is precious – all animals need to be rescued and have a forever home.
As Paws for Reflection conversed with her during a phone interview, she said her 9-year-old Carmella was watching chipmunks outside the window. ‘She’s very busy.’
Cerino is one of a number of older women who are starting new careers and re-inventing themselves at 60. She is having a blast going to literacy readings for kids and teaching them the value of giving pets a forever home. At the kids programs, they color, paint can’t faces. She never dreamed she’d be doing this 10 years ago.
The project didn’t come easy. She did research – a lot of research – on how to get published. She took a creative writing class. She went online. She talked to authors and book stores. She wanted to do it right.
However, she had a lot of encouragement along the way. She wrote the story early on, and shared it with her mother who loved it. She then shared it with her veterinarian, who liked it so much that she referred her to a librarian who had a good eye for books.
With a total stranger telling her she could just picture the entire story, Cerino started studying how to self-publish, took a creative writing class, and was propelled to action.
One day at the mall, she ran into an old neighbor, Kathy Kunsman, who was an artist. She told her about her book, and she said, ‘Yes, I want to do this… She really gets me. She knows me. She and I got together and started working on the illustrations.’
In the interim of the 9 years, her mom got sick, and she became absorbed in helping her. After her mom passed away, the ideas for the book jelled and everything came together.
Cerino has now just published the second book in the series, ‘Carmella The Cat Goes Fishing’. That’s the subject of this month’s Give-Away. Here’s a chance for kids to learn about being a pet owner, as Carmella explores her new environment!
This is a sequel to ‘Carmella The Cat’, published in December 2013. More books will follow in 2016 and beyond. They are all based on Cerino’s 4 cats.
‘So many successful stories, like Rocky are based on a series, starting where the last one left off.’ The Carmella the Cat series is doing that. She has book for each of her other 4 cats. Right now Cerino is working on book number 6, ‘Carmella the Cat Gets Another Brother.’
This true story tells about a friend’s son, who drives a big rigs for UPS, bringing home what he thought was a black male cat. It turned out to be a pregnant female. Cerino has one of those kittens, and the story will unfold in his new adventure.
It’s not all about telling her story. It’s about helping the cats. Her goal is for the kids to tell their parents about Carmella, and that cats, as well as all animals are not disposable items. They are special, and deserve a home forever. In addition, ten percent of the proceeds from all her book sales will go to local animal rescue organizations in the Lehigh Valley, PA area. Because the need varies, she is spreading the proceeds around to various animal rescue organizations, rather than only one.
Helping cats and animals as well as writing is redefining Cerino’s life. ‘At 30, you’re ready to dive into the career and climb the ladder. At 50, it’s OMG, I’m 50. But what’s she is finding is that more and more women are redefining themselves at 60 into a whole new world that’s in front of them.’
Counting down the days to retirement, she jokes, ‘Who’s counting?’ Now she’s finding out what it’s like to make a plan on an evening or weekend. “OMG, there is a life out there.
Would you like a chance to win a copy of Carmella The Cat and Carmella The Cat Goes Fishing. If so, enter this month’s Give-Away. The winners will be drawn in …, and Paws for Reflection will announce the winners on our blog.
This Giveaway is hosted by Paws for Reflection There is no purchase necessary in order to be eligible to win and is void where prohibited. This Giveaway is open to anyone that resides in the United States and is over the age of 18. This Giveaway will be open from 7/20 – 8/03/2015 at 11:59pm ET. Winners will be notified on or about Wednesday 8/05/15 and will have 24 hours to respond to the email before forfeiting their prize.
**About the Giveaway:**
One winner will receive a copy of ‘Carmella The Cat Goes Fishing’ and ‘Carmella the Cat’. The books will be mailed to the winner approximately 4 – 6 weeks from acceptance.