Several years ago, when I had already written three full-length novels (c. 70,000 words each) for Kensington’s Zebra imprint, John Scognamiglio, my editor, called me and asked if I’d consider writing a novella (c. 30,000 words) for an anthology he was putting together. Well, to be honest, I’d written only one novella before, but I blithely said, “Sure. I can do that.” Then he dropped the bombshell on me: it had to include a kitten—because “kittens sell.”
I know it is rather politically incorrect these days (the PETA people will hate me), but I am not much of an animal person—and, if I were, cats would not be my pet of choice. Nevertheless, I had made a commitment. So, I went out and bought a book on kittens and diligently picked the brains of my cat-loving friends (thanks, Mary and Nancy!), and I wrote the story “Christmas Joy.” The writing went smoothly, despite my trepidations about the subject matter. It is a Regency romance, of course, in which a kitten helps to heal a child traumatized by her mother’s death and incidentally brings romance to Joy’s widowed father.
The anthology came out in time for the Christmas market in 2001 and was later translated into German. (Apparently kittens sell in Germany, too.) A couple of years ago, Kensington reissued the story in a slim volume and eBook on its own. Again this year, they are offering it as an eBook for $.99. Ninety-nine cents! Where else are you likely to get a couple of hours of entertainment for less than a dollar?