Amy Shojai, CABC . . . The Accidental WriterSharing Pet-centric Dreams to Empower Pet Lovers
I didn’t set out to be a writer.
Nope, I planned to star on Broadway despite my shyness. Or live in a cave with a pet lion and wolf. Even as a kid, I dreamed big.
I always loved animals.
Dogs and cats shared my dreams and kept my secrets. Pets never judged or made fun of me. And I became someone else—brave, important, successful—within the covers of a book.
I acted out my daydreams as the story hero, always with a pet by my side. Mom told her friends, “When Amy grows up, she won’t have babies—she’ll have puppy dogs and kitty cats.”
Mom was right.
Going to school meant pets stayed home.
But not my books. More than once, teachers caught me reading a story hidden inside a textbook.
I grew up, but never stopped reading, always with a pet nearby.
Bling Is My Protection.
Hey, as a writer I get to make up words! The public Amy ain’t the same as the private Amy.
Do you do that, too?
“What about the accidental writer?”
I lost my job as a news anchor (story for another day) the same week a new veterinary clinic opened. What a happy accident, right?
The doctor interviewed me while performing a Chihuahua’s C-section and handing me pups to resuscitate. Ya can’t make this stuff up! When I shared that story (and many others), Mom said, “You should write them down.”
So I did.
I’d never considered writing.
But as a vet tech, I translated “medicalese” to help pet parents understand complicated jargon. How hard could it be? With Mom’s encouragement, I submitted my personal experience stories and haunted the mailbox for my first contract.
Rejection R Us!
Boatloads of rejections came back—yikes! Finally, an editor took pity and explained what I’d done wrong (a lot!).
Thanks to the tips, I sold eight stories in a row to Dog Fancy magazine, and later to Cat Fancy. All I can say is, doG bless mentors!
Success breeds success.
First articles led to future assignments and interviews with experts around the world. We played telephone-tag (this was before email) during lunch hours and after work. I wrote until midnight most days and weekends.
Little sleep, lots of work, but the JOY of it becomes addictive. My writing can save relationships—and pet lives. I am truly blessed.
A Phone Call Changed My World!
And then it happened—A New York editor who read my articles offered me two book contracts! Those titles, published in 1992 by Bantam/Doubleday/Dell, launched my book career.
With books on my resume, more writer-icity opportunities came my way. I even got an agent.
After selling a dozen books with my agent, after 911, nobody wanted pet books anymore. I beat my head against the wall, gnashed my teeth, wept and wailed, but accepted the inevitable.
I quit writing. I got a job teaching high school choir & musical theater. But I missed what I’d lost, missed working from home with furry muses by my side, and missed making a positive difference in pet lives. I mourned the death of my accidental career…
Dreamers Gotta Dream.
I dreamed of a woman so hurt and scared she locked herself away, with only pets to soothe her soul. Snatching minutes before and after class, I wrote her story, retreating into a world I controlled.
I imagined her overcoming a painful past, partnering with a service dog that heals her. I sobbed as the story unfolded and cheered when the unlikely partners became heroes. Bad stuff happens, but good always wins with the help of her pets.
I wrote the thriller I’d always wanted to read.
And when readers loved it as much as I did–and THE JAMES ROLLINS gave me a glowing cover quote!–that first roller-coaster story turned into a series. Who’d a-thunk it? You can check out the thrillers by clicking the box. Go ahead, ya know ya want to!
The Reinvented Writer
Teaching taught me I’m a very good teacher. But I’m meant to be a writer. I stopped listening to my nasty inner critic and returned to what I love:
Empowering pet lovers
through my work!
God put me on this earth to speak for pets—and advocate for you, dear reader. May you be blessed with an abundance of happy accidents!
I’ve come full circle from the little girl dreaming of Broadway…today I write and perform music and plays, some with pets. And I share advice for newer writers. It’s my way to pay it forward.
On to the Next Big Thing!
Today, I don’t limit my dreams. I write cat and dog nonfiction in my books, my blog, and for select corporate clients. And I still daydream in my fiction books and theatre pursuits (see the SCRIPTS page, above).
I’m like a cat, and hate change. But I’ve learned to look on accidents and reinventing myself as opportunities.
After all, you gotta DREAM it first, before you can chase and catch that brass ring. I’m blessed with an abundance of furry muses who inspire my work.
Now you know a bit about me, I’d love to hear about you. What do you love to read (or write)? And what furry wonders share your heart? Subscribe to my newsletter to share.
You’ll find lots of pet-centric resources here, from pet care books to thrillers, writing tips, and theater scripts. Browse away to find the book (or five!) you’ve always wanted to read!