Do you like to save money? Recycling your old calendars is fun!
Everybody has that favorite calendar. It may be a favorite artist or scenes from a place you visited. It may represent a cause. (I receive ones from the Humane Society, Cat Adoption Team, and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary annually.) It may be a calendar you made yourself, or one that was made for you by friends, children, or grandchildren. It may be something funny that always makes you laugh, no matter how bad your day has been. Or maybe it’s really old and nostalgic, and you just can’t throw it away.
I have a drawer filled with old calendars. Imagine my delight when I found a way I could use them again and again!
It’s called the Perpetual Calendar, a calendar that is valid for many different years. Perpetual calendars use algorithms to compute the day of the week for any given year, month, and day of month. With a Perpetual Calendar, you can figure out which years are the same as this one, so you can use those old calendars again.
Here’s how it works. Say, you want to find out which calendars in your drawer you can use this new year, 2021. According to the chart at the Accuracy Project, you have quite a choice. Here are the years that had or will have identical dates to 2021:
The task? Slip beyond time and help put right humanity’s wrongs.
Slayter, the obsidian feline, is one of the selected few.
But something has gone wrong. Humans are dying in cruel and mysterious ways that should not be possible in time-stall. In the dark matter beyond our galaxy, a powerful anomaly has come into being. It’s single purpose, to devour the cosmos.
Magical transformations, daring rescues, a journey through time and space. Will Slayter and his companions succeed in defeating the malevolence before the universe is gone forever?
Get Cat Winter, Book Two of the Cat Seasons Tetralogy today.
Cat Winter! I can’t believe it’s finally coming out after some 20 years from concept to print! December 21, the first day of winter 2020, is the day! Stay tuned for a link—since it’s too late to get it onto presale for Dec. 21, I’m just going to wake up Monday morning and punch the publish button. Cat Winter will be live, both for Kindle and in paperback.
Like Cat Summer, the first book of the Cat Seasons Tetralogy, Cat Winter is a work of the heart. In the genre of sci-fi/fantasy, anything is possible, so my choice as author and queen of my kingdom is to change the world. With cats.
Each of the four stand-alone components of the Cat Seasons Tetralogy takes place in the same universe but features a separate set of cat characters facing different and difficult challenges. Based on the premise that these cats are smarter than (most) people, they make the choice to help us humans through a constant barrage of both new and historical woes.
Cat Winter takes us on the journey of nine special cats who have been chosen to slip beyond time and help put right humanity’s wrongs. Among them, a young black feline named Slayter and his little tabby fur-sister Emma.
“Unseen by human eyes,” Slayter intoned, “a special task force slips between the seconds to correct those small mishaps that might ultimately lead to greater ills. In the depth of winter, in the dark of darkest night, a time hole opens. While humans lie in slumber, the Chosen Nine carry out the Rectification of the Variants.” The obsidian feline paused to let the magnitude of his words sink in. “Any questions?”
“Oh, only about a million,” Emma replied, though she had the somber feeling she would find out for herself soon enough.”
But in the dark matter of space, a powerful anomaly has come into being, its single purpose: to devour the cosmos. Little does Slayter know that the outcome balances on his small, shoulders.
Somewhere in the cosmic soup, it floated. Smaller than a photon yet denser than Jupiter, as old as the universe itself. It had not always enjoyed its present consciousness. Dimly it remembered an awakening, a coalescence of mind where before was only shape, sound, and the vast, cold omnipotence of its dark home, space.
And before that, it remembered nothing.
Once, it had been no more than an elemental particle, but now it was alive, a creature of the void, residing among the stuff of the beginning. Although it throbbed with its own interpretation of life, its light was so feeble as to render it invisible, even to a cat’s eye, an eye much farther-reaching than the simple, sun-lit dimensions of human sight.
Its name was Zaadkiel.
It was alone.
And it was lonely.
For eons, Zaadkiel had been content to simply bide in the nest of its black hole, feeding on the constant matter stream that flowed into the hole’s insatiable maw. It had been enough to be self-aware, to feel, to think. But the thoughts had turned to wonder, and its questions had grown great with time. It was greedy for answers, but the more it learned, the less it knew, for that is the nature of knowledge.
Finally it began to ask the ultimate question, the question which has baffled sentient life from its inception: Why?
To its query came only silence.
The silence wore at Zaadkiel like water on stone until its mind had become a hollow shell. It knew that without this one ultimate answer, all else was moot. The answer must be found, or it would perish trying.
But Zaadkiel was not sure where to start. All it had ever known was its home in the gravity well; all it had ever learned of the outside had come through the well to it. Did others of its kind sail the darkness? Such possibilities had not mattered when it was young and self-absorbed, but now that question tickled its ever-expanding awareness as well.
A thought began to form.
Over a thousand millennia, the thought grew.
The thought reached maturity.
For Zaadkiel to satisfy its curiosity, there was only one course of action. It had to leave the black hole.
The house was dark. Claire had left the lights off to better see the snow fall. Snow was uncommon in her part of the country; not unheard-of, but rare enough to be savored and enjoyed. The beauty of the spiraling flakes, the sparkle of the crystals as they swathed the landscape, turning everything clean and new. Brushing back a lock of her dark auburn hair, she let her mind go, imagining Snow Queens and faeries, illustrations from books she had read as a child. What marvels those stories held! If only real life were capable of such wondrous possibilities.
But real life was filled with ugliness and pain, and it was getting worse each year. Wars cropping up all over the place; some living in life-threatening poverty while others had much more than their needs; people seeking solace in all the wrong places. One of these times, they would go too far and do something terrible. Claire prayed she wouldn’t be around to see it.
She gave another glance at the falling snow, but the magic was gone. Her frustration and fear had driven it away. With a sigh, she hefted herself from the couch and headed to the kitchen. Claire was a big-boned woman, but right now she felt an added weight, the weight of the world. She may not have been the one to create the chaos, but she was human, and by default, a contributor. If only there were a way to make things better.
For a moment, she wished she had someone to share her uncertainties, someone close who would understand, but she was alone, and it seemed she might well remain that way. Too picky, her friends told her. But wanting someone nice, someone honest, someone kind—was that too much to ask? Claire didn’t think so.
She flicked on the kitchen light and jumped. There were her cats, Slayter and Emma, sitting bolt upright on the table watching her.
“Oh, you dears,” she gasped. “You scared me. What are you doing there?”
Neither cat answered, nor did they make a move to get down. They just continued to stare, black Slayter with his bronze-green eyes and little tabby Emma with her gold ones.
Claire laughed. “Okay, guys, be that way. I’m going to bed. I’m exhausted.”
She glanced at the clock—only nine-thirty. But there was no denying the torpor in her limbs, the fuzz in her brain. Why, she could barely drag herself up to her bedroom! Briefly she considered falling into bed, clothes and all, but resisted. She’d been raised that sleeping in one’s day clothes just wasn’t done.
She felt for the lamp on the bedside table, found it, and punched the switch. As the room filled with a warm honey glow from the homemade shade, she gasped for a second time.
Slayter and Emma were on the bed, sitting in the exact same poses as before, except now they were occupying the very center of the pile of antique quilts. How had they got there so fast? She didn’t remember them coming up the stairs before her.
“Quit looking at me like that,” Claire chided. The cats paid no heed.
“Oh, well, do what you like. You will anyway.”
Sloughing off her clothes and tossing them on the chair, she slipped into a flannel nightie and fell into bed. It was scary how fatigued she felt, almost as if she’d been drugged.
She flinched. Was it possible? Could someone have tampered with her food or beverages? But as she snuggled into her pillow, she found herself too weary to care. It was a pleasant, floaty feeling, as if something magical were about to happen, and she let her eyes drift shut. The last things she saw before falling deeply asleep were the penetrating stares of Slayter and Emma.
Slayter gazed out the window at the chill, white landscape. He’d been like that since he and his sister had watched their cohabitor fall asleep. For a time, the lacy snow had whorled across the beam of the streetlamp, hypnotizing him into a stupor, but all that was changed now. The snow had ceased, flakes suspended in midair. The frozen outdoors lay as rigid and unmoving as a Currier & Ives print. Slayter’s soul burned in anticipation.
Soundlessly, he rose from his place by the window, moving like an obsidian shadow through the darkened room and down the stairs. With the stealth bred into his dark ancestors, he prowled the murk as only Felis can, making sure all was in place for what was to come. Once satisfied, he returned to his cohabitor. As light as a phantom, he came to rest on the bed beside her, caressing her slumbering form. She did not move, but he had not expected her to. He knew she would remain in that unconscious state for a very long time.
But things can no longer be measured in time, Slayter reminded himself. Time had become meaningless once the snow froze in place and Winter Verus came upon the land.
Winter Verus, the true winter, when time itself would cease to exist. Only then could the nine feline emissaries slip between the seconds to execute the Rectification of the Variants and put right humanity’s wrongs. As much good as the humans do, Slayter thought to himself, they manage to make a mess on a regular basis. Without the aid of the Nine and their yearly rectification, things would quickly go to hell in a handbasket.
Slayter fidgeted. The Rectification was one of Felis’s deepest mysteries, and only the chosen Nine knew how it was done. Slayter had always wondered, but now his black velvet breast swelled with pride. This year, he would be among them.
As quickly as his elation had risen, it floundered with questions:
What if the council had been wrong about him? What if he weren’t up to the task?
How could he make a difference in the great ways of humanity? How could any of them?
Could nine cats really expunge the torment the star-children had heaped upon themselves? It seemed an impossible mission.
He kicked himself for having doubts. The Rectification would be done as it had been each winter since humankind attained the power to destroy. The how of it would be revealed—he had only to keep his curiosity at bay for a little while longer.
Slayter stared down at his beloved Claire, still as death underneath the quilts in the old wooden bed. She was as pale as the snow on the window ledge, but he wasn’t afraid. He knew she was in no danger. If all went as planned, his absence would be as the blink of an eye, and she would wake to a better world upon his return.
The obsidian feline felt a prick of disquiet. Time-stall was risky, and sometimes things didn’t go as planned. There were even tales of a brutal and unexplained fatality. He would need to be vigilant. He’d never forgive himself if anything happened to Claire.
Slayter gave the sleeping female one last check. He sniffed her breath, her scent, tuned his scrutinizing gaze for the slightest movement, but there was none. Jumping to the floor, he was down the stairs and through the house like a satin streak. Out the cat flap he bolted, into another world, a world beyond time, frozen in the crystalline formation of forever.
Please join me Monday on the Winter Solstice for a first worldwide look at Cat Winter! Find the link o my Amazon Author page here
2020 — a conundrum in black. This year, instead of nostalgic Christmas carols, we have songs like It’s the End of the World as We Know It buzzing around in our heads. But let’s not despair. Here is some fun stuff to think about.
If I hadn’t won this toy in a raffle benefiting Tabby’s Place extraordinary Cat Sanctuary, I might never have known the joy would bring to my senior cat Tyler. Tyler and I have a routine. Every morning after breakfast and every afternoon when he wakes up from his nap, he sits by the bird and meows for me to turn it on. Even though he usually flips it on its side, he loves watching the feathers tease in and out. He would rather play with his “chicken” than any other toy.
Is your cat one of those special kitties who consistently pees outside the box? Ginchan is, and at nearly 19, things aren’t about to change. For a while I was using “puppy pads” in the places Ginchan liked to go, but I cringed at the plastic-coated waste I was putting in the landfill. That, and the fact they never worked that well, and I was still cleaning up liquid that soaked around, over, or through, inspired me to look elsewhere. That’s when I discovered Medline Softnit Washable Underpads. They are big, soft, and durable. I’ve washed my set at least 60 times, and they are still good as new. Whether your kitty is old, arthritic, or has other issues that require pads, these are the ones.
Is it possible to fall in love with a litter scoop? Maybe not, but after struggling with scoops the bend, break, pick up too much, don’t pick up enough, and otherwise fail their designated task, the discovery of the Litter Lifter litter scoop was a miracle. The big, brightly colored scoops are sturdy enough to lever stubborn stuck-ons and wide enough to get the whole thing in one pass. They are also sold at a reasonable price, so I can buy one for each box and a few to spare without breaking the bank.
Alfie, the Christmas Cat is a funny, witty, and insightful story told from the perspective of Alfie, the “doorstep cat.” If you’re missing the holidays as we know them (see note above), this book is exactly what you need. The hustle and bustle scenes of family life brings the smiles and nostalgia we are lacking during our pandemic isolation. This book can be read by any age or out loud around the fireplace (or on Zoom). A Hallmark movie of cats!
Catnip Poptarts? Origami string lights? Fox-face coffee cozy? Hand-crocheted cat doll with detailed clothing and accessories and even a donut (also crocheted) or two? Look no further. At houseofdreamspdx you’ll find these and much more. New items added almost daily and all of them handmade! 100% of profits goes to the kitties at House of Dreams all volunteer, no-kill cat shelter in Portland, Oregon.
What a great idea, making beautiful wearable jewelry containing cat whiskers! If you’re like me, you save them. Now here is something you can do with your collection.
I’ve long respected Volana Kote’s Whisker Tributes jewelry but hadn’t thought of having one made for myself until the recent passing of my sweet cat Blaze. Before Blaze crossed, he shed one last whisker in his bed. And I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I jumped on Volana’s Etsy page, but was devastated when I read the requirements, which calls for 3 to 4 whiskers to make a piece. I sulked for a while, then I emailed her. She was so sympathetic, and totally willing to work with that one precious whisker for me.
Cats, Christmas trees, and cats, painted in a compelling retro style, predominate this artist’s holiday selection of cards and prints. With titles like, PLAN X-MAS FROM OUTER SPACE and CATMAS, how can you not be intrigued? She also has many non-holiday items including a line of Star Trek themed prints which may or may not still be available.
For a different take on the holidays, check out Cat Noel, my Christmas novella.
Lynley finds a new meaning of Christmas when a Wiccan’s familiar is catnapped, and Lynley is her only hope.
You can read the first chapter free on the NIWA website through December 31. To purchase, click here. Don’t forget to leave a review on your favorite social media sites. For an author, that’s the best Christmas present you can give!
I hope you have enjoyed my selection of ideas for the holiday. There are many, many more, so add your own holiday ideas in the comments, and we’ll work on a second list.
I’m currently knee-deep in the second edit of my new cozy, The Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove. I’m still working on the blurb, but it will go something like this:
Septuagenarian Camelia Collins moved to the coast to fulfill a lifelong dream, but when she learns she has purchased a murder house, that dream becomes a nightmare.
Three years ago, the former resident of the house, reclusive businessman Jonathan Chamber, was brutally killed on the stoop. The killer is still at large, the case stalled, but then Camila discovers a USB drive hidden in her fireplace. This new evidence could be the break the investigators were looking for.
The police assure Camelia she’s safe, but Soji the ghost cat tells her otherwise. Dead long ago, the seventh kitten of a seventh kitten returns to help Camelia solve the mystery and to save herself from death twice over.
It’s fun and a bit daunting starting a new series. The story has to be built from the ground up. The scenery, the homes and gardens, the shops and businesses, and especially the characters all need to be prized from my imagination. Which brings me to the following contest:
There is a character who plays a small part in the story, and she still needs a name. All I know about her so far is that she is a teenager who loves horses, texting, and the boy next door. Her parents are Aiden and Nao Smith who live on the same street as my hero Camelia. In Ghost Cat, she plays only a bit part, but this is just the first in the series, and we are bound to see more of her in coming books.
Help me! Do you know who this character might be?
Comment with your first name, a made-up first name, or the first name of someone you know, plus a little backstory about who you think the character is. If your/their name is chosen by Tyler the cat, you/they will win a place as a brand new character in a brand new book. Note: This book will not be out until next year, so be patient. I’ll most likely be taking entries through the next few months.
As the Great Escapes Cat Conundrum Blog Tour rolls to an end today, I am left with so much admiration for the hard-working bloggers who hosted this event and for Lori who organizes these cozy tours at no cost to the author. Seventeen popular bloggers took time to read, review, and spotlight my recently published Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery, Cat Conundrum. Their dedication and enthusiasm makes up for not being able to have an in-person book launch this year due to Covid.
Two bloggers read the book and gave it glowing reviews.
From I Read What You Write:
Crazy Cat Lady Lynley Cannon doesn’t go looking for trouble, it just sort of finds her. A weekend in Washington and a presentation at a cat symposium was all Lynley was looking for. But then, a blood soaked cat, seemingly the only witness to a mystifying murder, needs a foster mom and honestly, how could she say no? Okay, so the series of locked room murders had piqued her curiosity, and the local cat lady seemed to be in trouble, and, well, it just wouldn’t be right to head home before doing a little shopping and sight seeing. Right?
The wonderful characters that flavor this series are back, with some more really great ones added in for the new location. I would love aunt Cait to make another appearance in future tales. Lovely kitties roam the pages of this book, which in addition to a great story, contains the series signature cat tips in every chapter
Each murder, so completely unrelated from the ones before it just adds to the readers’ interest. This story is the kind of cozy I love to read. The clues are all there, if you are paying attention. I was, I swear, but I still had five perfect suspects, two of which turned out to be complete red herrings, and I was totally surprised by the big reveal. Mollie Hunt has surprised me before with her innocuous Cat Cozies. If you enjoy this series, then you will love this latest installment. If you have never read the series, then jump right in. It holds up well as a stand alone with everything you need to know about Lynley, her friends, and her cat obsession all included.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
CHRISTY’S COZY CORNERS wrote:
“I am a crazy cat lady, love mysteries, and dream of beach vacations. Lynley is my kindred spirit. Those of us who have cats just know that life is better with cats! Even though Cat Conundrum is the first book I’ve read in The Crazy Cat Lady Mystery Series, I didn’t feel lost at all, so you can jump on in here with me! Believe me, I am adding the rest of the books to my TBR pile!
Cat Conundrum is my idea of the perfect cozy mystery book. It’s totally clean, has quirky characters among its cast, has cats (dogs work too!), and a mystery that takes most of the book to figure out. Oh, yeah, and my mom could read it! (That’s part of my checklist haha!)
I quickly fell for the characters in the book and feel like I’ve known them for a long time. They’re well described, and you could easily picture them as your friends. I want to hang out with them and go clamming and shopping. If you’ve read any of the books in this series, I’m sure you know what I mean.
The setting is beautiful, and I don’t know how anyone could leave this vacation house and head back to the city after staying here. I dream of living by the water…this water may be a little cold though. I guess I can take it if anyone wants to buy me this pretend place!
You will love guessing whodunit as you read Cat Conundrum. I thought I had it figured out until about 70% into the book. The author does a great job of throwing us off the scent! I highly recommend this cozy to all of you cozy mystery lovers! I can’t wait to read more!”
Reviews mean a lot to authors, especially independent authors like myself, so if you read the book, consider leaving a note on your favorite social media pages.
If you missed them, here are the TOUR PARTICIPANTS:
The celebration for the release of Cat Conundrum is not quite over! All this week this 7th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery will be the feature of a Great Escapes book tour around some of the most active and interesting cozy bookish blogsites on the web. I’m looking forward to offering my book and series to a new audience, with reviews, spotlights, and interviews. (Be sure to check out the interview with Seaview the Maine Coon cat and only witness of a bizarre murder! Seaview tells all!)
These tour participants have fun sites, so take a look.
An excerpt from the first review:
“This story is the kind of cozy I love to read. The clues are all there… but I was totally surprised by the big reveal. If you enjoy this series, then you will love this latest installment. If you have never read the series, then jump right in. It holds up well as a stand alone with everything you need to know about Lynley, her friends, and her cat obsession all included.” —I Read What You Write reviewer
On November 10th, Barry was adopted into a family home. He now has a 17-year-old brother who isn’t thrilled, at least not yet. Barry spent his first night getting into all his new people’s things, including some fly paper! Join me in wishing our dear boy a long and happy, healthy life!
August 28, 2020 started like any other day at the foster office of the Oregon Humane Society. I was there to pick up a new foster cat, Barry Manilow, a sweet brown tabby of undetermined age. Barry had come from a hording situation and was afflicted with a condition I’d never encountered before, plasma cell pododermatitis, also known as “pillow foot.” When I looked it up online, I saw photos of cats with foot pads resembling a pillow. They didn’t begin to prepare me for what I found with Barry.
Barry’s pads were swollen to the point of hugeness. The front pads were pendulous, raw and bleeding. Here is the email I wrote to the foster department the next morning:
“Poor Berry! His little foot pads are bleeding every time he takes a step, and even when he’s sitting quietly. Whatever healing scabs there were are coming off like layers of skin, leaving raw flesh. This is compounded by the fact he likes to jump on everything. What a mess! He is the sweetest boy, but I’m at a loss about the bleeding.”
Foster responded immediately, offering to take him back, but I declined. I would cope with the mess and try to keep him comfortable rather than have him go back to the shelter. His doctor suggested keeping him kenneled for the major part of the time to reduce his walking. He was happy with that, loving his bed and my big kennel with its nice window view of birds and trees. I gave him a tablet so he could watch “Bird TV” and hung ribbons and shiny things from the ceiling. When I let him out, he enjoyed being with me and exploring a larger domain. I followed him around with a damp cloth to mop up the blood.
At first, Barry was unsure what to do with his freedom. He ignored all of the toys and pretty much ignored me as well. Though he had got a reputation at the shelter for being feisty, I never saw that side of him. He was always mellow and curious in spite of his painful feet.
He began coming nearer to me, especially when I rubbed his sideburns. He realized he loved being petted, and though he wasn’t ready to sit on my lap, he would come close and snuggle. Then one day he began to play with a string toy! For a cat person, there is a moment of pure joy when a sullen, hesitant cat finally finds play!
This elation was short-lived however. Barry began to lose his appetite. His pads seemed even more swollen, and he had become reluctant to walk on them, taking only a few steps before crouching down. I contacted the Foster office again, and this time they asked that I bring him in. When I dropped him off in the parking lot per pandemic protocol and said goodbye, I hoped the doctor could do something for the sweet boy who had been making so much social progress. I also hoped he would come back to me, but that didn’t happen. By the time he was ready to be in foster again, I had a trip planned, so he moved on to another foster parent.
I had Barry with me for a mere six days, but his will to thrive will remain in my heart and mind forever. In spite of terrible experiences, unending pain, and life in a hopeless situation, he was ready to change and learn. His love (and curiosity) overcame the ordeals of his past. I am so thankful to OHS for giving ones like Barry a new chance and a better life.