FICTION WRITING Part 1: CAPTURING THE FICTIONAL WORLD

 

As most of you know, I write the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. I write every day; never have writers’ block; and often work with a cat on my lap.

Last summer I participated in a panel of fiction writers called Communicating, Capitalizing, and Connecting in a Fictional World, presented at the CWA Conference. Patricia Fry (the Klepto Cat mystery series), Debbie De Louise (the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series),  and Sandra Murphy (short stories) joined me to talk about fiction, what it is, and more importantly, how to write it. Preceding the presentation, the four of us got together and compiled a list of questions we might be asked. I wanted to share some of them with you, along with my answers.

If you’ve always wanted to write fiction but don’t know where to begin, here are some of the trade secrets I use in creating fiction that engages, compels, and connects with the reader. Fictional writing requires a unique skill and mindset. In this first installment, CAPTURING THE FICTIONAL WORLD, I’ll addressing craft, process, detail, observation, and flow. In the next post, CAPITALIZING ON THE CAT, I’ll move on to character development, and of course, focusing on cats.

 

FICTION WRITING QUESTIONS:

~What is your writing process? Do you outline the story, write the main theme and develop the story from there, or…?

Often my stories begin with something as simple as a title. I do not outline, but allow my first drafts to be spontaneous, following the whim  of the story as it appears to me. I make notes as I go along of things I will need to revise, research, or otherwise come back to later.

~How do you keep track of your characters from one story to the next?

Beginning with the second draft, I note all new characters, with their names and descriptions, in a “Cast of Characters” file. I also note any additions I make to reoccurring characters. This file gets updated until the book is finished, then I transfer the information to a master file of all “Cast” so I can easily look up someone if they appear in another book.

~How do you come up with so many story ideas? (This question was aimed at Patty Fry, who just completed her 40th Kelpto Cat mystery, but applies to all fiction writers.)

Some little thing I see or hear will strike me, and there’s a book! A cat cafe, a chocolate diamond, a comic-con. It starts by thinking: “How would Lynley fit in here? What would she do in this situation?” The classic “what if” query is often the best place to begin.

~What is a cozy mystery?

Cozy mysteries are gentle mystery stories without foul language, explicit sex, or graphic violence. Furthermore, they have a happy ending.

The cozy mystery (sometimes simply called a “cozy”) is a sub-genre of crime fiction that gives readers a chance to delight in vicariously solving a murder. Protagonists are typically amateur (and often female) sleuths solving small-town crimes with old-fashioned detective work rather than forensics.

These unlikely heroes are often individuals who find themselves drawn into detection by a crime that connects them. In my Crazy Cat Lady series, it’s Lynley Cannon whose cat-like curiosity pulls her into crimes involving cats and cat people. Aided by family and friends, she searches for clues. Someone with police connections, such as my animal cop Denny Paris, comes in handy.

~What is the best way to promote fiction?

I don’t know about the best way, but my favorite way to promote my books is with in-person book signing events. I love meeting people who might like my books, and there is nothing better than someone who comes specifically to get one. I often note a spike in online sales after such an event.

~How long does it take you to write a book?

I try to put out one in my series each year. I work in stages: the first draft (a quick burst of creative energy); second and third drafts (fill in the blanks, add descriptions, check grammar and spelling); the printed read-through (it’s amazing how previously undiscovered typos and other mistakes show up on paper); reading out loud (revealing problems with flow). Then it goes to the beta reader and the editor. After that, I proofread up to two printed copies. That, plus launch promotion, takes about a year.

~Do you work on more than one project at a time?

Yes and no. In fact, I’m usually working on at least three different books in any one period, but that said, I do them one at a time. For instance, I’m currently finishing the third draft of Cat Conundrum. When done, I’ll take a break and concentrate on getting Cat Winter, the second in the Cat Seasons sci-fantasy tetralogy, ready for the publisher. I’m planning a vacation shortly, where I will work exclusively on new matter, the first draft of Adventure Cat, the 8th in the CCL series. I also have an idea in the works for a Lynley Cannon Cat Tips, Tricks, and Facts Workbook, in collaboration with author Ramona Marek. And there’s always the cat poetry…

~What is your greatest challenge?

Advertising. Self-promotion takes time. I’d rather be writing a new book!

Stay tuned for Part 2, CAPITALIZING ON THE CAT, coming soon.

 

#cwa2019, #cwa2020, #catwritersassociation

Posted in Book Talk, CAT WRITERS, Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More, Interviews, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

GINCHAN, AN OLD CAT’S TALE

Note from me, Ginchan the Persistent: I have instructed my PAWT (Personal Assistant With Thumbs) to pen my life story so people can see that though cats get old and sometimes sick, they are still as worthy of love and care as the tiniest kitten. But where kittens are adopted from shelters within hours of their arrival, an old cat like me can languish for weeks, even months, waiting for someone courageous enough to take a chance. Thankfully, I live in a community that lets us stay and be cared for until that person comes along; in all too many places, shelters aren’t able (or willing) to afford us that dignity.

Why don’t we get adopted? It’s a combination of things, some real and some imagined. People are afraid that an older cat will be more work, more expense, and more sadness when the final days arrive. But I’m here to tell you it’s all relative. All good things take work, right? And partnering with a good vet to find an affordable and achievable regimen makes a big difference.

When my cohabitors found out I had diabetes,  they were really scared. They knew diabetes was an illness which required, among other things, expensive meds and a rigid routine for administration. But after talking with our wonderful Dr. Berhends, we came up with a plan, and now it they can’t recall what all the fuss was about.

It’s true a senior cat will need more vet visits— twice a year wellness checkups are recommended. That’s in order to keep up with any changes, because many issues, when caught early, can be treated, just like with humans. But the point is, those things that seem so daunting when you sit and worry about them, are not that hard to deal with if you go day to day.

This is my message:  Old cats just have more experience in being great!

Adopt a senior cat, because Love is Ageless!

 

GINCHAN’S STORY

Ginchan is a survivor. At nearly eighteen, the big Maine coon cat has beat the odds. His story describes why we should love and care for our precious senior cats.

Ginchan’s Story, written by Mollie, his loving cohabitor and PAWT

Ginchan has seen better days. If there was an Ugly Cat Contest, he might well be a contestant. His fur was shaved and is now growing out in random tufts and patches. His pupils are perpetually dilated, giving him a lost but demanding look. His skinny legs are wobbly with arthritis. His teeth are bad, and his breath stinks. We love him more than anything!

Ginchan is coming up on his eighteenth birthday, and we’ve known him since he was a kitten. He lived with our son, and the two were inseparably bonded.  Then tragedy struck last March when our son died. There was no doubt we would take Ginchan, and from that day forward, he’s been a huge part of our lives.

Being of the Maine coon breed, Ginchan had an abundance of fur, and as he grew older, he didn’t take good care of it. He became terribly matted, and there was no choice but to shave him. That was a fiasco, beginning with the groomer who gave up after the first few swipes. (Ginchan was not a willing client, and his Maine coon yowl could be heard around the block.) From there, we took him to our vet, who suggested a pre-visit dose of Gabapentin. Unfortunately the calming drug made little difference, and the doctor saw right away that Ginchan would need more than a light anti-anxiety medication to keep him from going ballistic. Next step was a clinic that had the facilities for full sedation. Yup, they had to knock the old boy out completely to remove the horrendous matting that extended over 90% of his body.  (We had no idea at the time, but Ginchan would suffer from post-clipping alopecia. Nine months later, the fur will have yet to grow back!)

Ginchan’s new haircut.

While he was sedated, they were also able to give him a thorough examination. They found a large lump on his throat, but whether a mass, tumor, or cyst, they couldn’t tell without a biopsy. Stretched financially, what with the death of our son and the bills Ginchan was quickly racking up, we opted to deal with the mass a little later, and to resolve more pressing problems first. Ginchan’s labs had revealed stage 3 kidney disease, for which he needed special (and expensive) food, as well as medication. He also had arthritis— more meds— and dental disease— even more meds.

Josh’s brother James stepped up to take Ginchan since we already had three cats in our home, one of whom had been recently diagnosed with lymphoma. We managed to find a less expensive food that was similar to the KD (kidney disease) prescription diet. We gave Ginchan a round of antibiotics and prednisolone to see if it would shrink the mass. All was going relatively smoothly, then Ginchan had a seizure, and it was back to the vet.

The doctor didn’t find anything obviously wrong, and barring a CAT scan for a brain anomaly, there wasn’t much we could do besides monitor for more aberrant behavior. James learned to administer subcutaneous fluids because, in spite of drinking incredible amounts of water, Ginchan was dehydrated. He kept a good watch on Ginchan, and the seizure seemed to be a one-off.

Ginchan had been an indoor and outdoor cat.

James had only a small apartment, and having previously been a cat with unlimited outdoor freedom, Ginchan wasn’t used to the confined space. He did well for a few months, then began eschewing the litter box. As all cat people know, that’s the worst. Between the inappropriate peeing and Ginchan’s raucous Maine coon yowls, it was decided the old cat would come to live at our house. Our sick little one had crossed the Bridge, and we now had space for him with a room of his own where we could try to work  things out.

On July 24, 2019, Ginchan moved in with us. He is a self-assured cat and had no trouble asserting his place with our other kitties, Blaze and Tyler. We now had three senior males under one roof, but it’s a big house with lots of space and personal enrichment for all. Ginchan began his stay in his room, but it wasn’t long before he was cruising the house with the boys. Amazingly, the others accepted him, so long as he didn’t get in their face!

Three litter boxes, a case of pee pads, and a bottle of Anti-Icky-Poo later, we’ve pretty much dealt with Ginchan’s inappropriate litter box problem. Fortunately he only has slips at night in his room and never out in the rest of the house. For this and other reasons, we find it prudent to keep Ginchan in his room at night. He loves it there, with both a heated bed by a window and a plush cube beside the heater, which is his favorite hangout.

We learned his foibles, such as screeching at his reflection in the window  and pushing his face into our plates as we tried to eat dinner. He was not an easy cat, but we enjoyed his sweet company. He liked to curl up in our laps as we watched TV (or any other time he thought he could get a lap, including when one was sitting on the toilet!) He would stare up at us with those big, round eyes, as if thanking us for taking him in. I know he must have missed Josh greatly, as we all did. Our bond was made closer by that terrible loss.

One of hundreds of selfies Josh took with Ginchan.

Though Ginchan was eating and drinking voraciously, he was getting skinnier. Then one day, we noticed he wasn’t doing so well. His legs were wobbly and he was overly lethargic. At seventeen-plus, with multiple complications, we knew the day would come when we would have to say goodbye, but no matter how much logic tells us, we are never, never ready.

“Why me?”

First step was the vet. When we loaded him into the carrier, we feared it would be his final journey. After all our recent losses, another goodbye seemed like too much to bear. When we put Ginchan on the exam table and he didn’t make his usual raucous complaints, we all knew something was terribly wrong.

Ginchan came home, but we didn’t know for how long. Dr. Behrends had taken blood-work, which we feared would reveal a deadly cause.

The next day, the doctor called. The test had indeed revealed a cause, but one that could be treated! In the few months since his last labs, Ginchan had become diabetic. With proper medication, food, and schedule, Ginchan’s diabetes could be held in check and possibly even reversed into remission. There were issues with his kidney disease, the kidney diet being in direct conflict with the diabetic diet, but a compromise could be achieved.

Baby Ginchan. Photo credit: Yukiko Hunt, April 2002

Four months and two-hundred-plus insulin injections later, Ginchan is doing great! He bounced back from his decline almost immediately after getting the first dose. His follow-up appointments revealed him stable, and now his next visit with the doctor, baring an emergency, is three months away.

We are following his multiple health concerns, but at the moment, all is well. The kidney disease seems to be remaining stable, and though we can’t feed him the KD diet, we give him aluminum hydroxide with his food to lessen the bad effects. Aluminum salts are inexpensive and help reduce the amount of phosphorus absorbed from the intestine by flushing some of the buildup from his system.

The mass on his neck turned out to be a benign polyp which could be surgically excised, but at his age and with his other problems, we’ve opted not to risk putting him under anesthesia. Loss of hearing or mental acuity are only two possible side-effects of anesthesia in the elderly, to say nothing of death. For the same reason, we’re not giving him a dental. In a young, healthy cat, teeth can easily be cleaned and any bad ones removed, but for a senior, it’s a toll-taking process. Instead he gets a natural oral product that promotes gum health and joint health as well. He still has bad breath, but we can handle it.

Ginchan’s fur has begun to grow again. It’s coming in patches, but it’s a start. Apparently cats with chronic illnesses don’t always grow their fur back like healthy cats do. Since it’s winter, we got him a sweater. It worked for a while, then he began to bite at it and get his fangs stuck in the weave, so we’ve given up on that idea. The house is warm, and Ginchan has his heated bed and cube over the heater, to say nothing of willing laps, so he’s staying warm. For this moment in time, we can be thankful for the peace of health.

So there you have it, the story to date of an amazing, difficult, brave, persistent cat. Ginchan has not been an easy cat, nor has he been cheap, but taking what comes day by day, enlisting a caring doctor experienced with geriatric kitties, and not being afraid to try new things, we have worked it out. Too many senior cats are tossed away at the first sign of illness or behavior issues. People give reasons: they can’t afford the bills; they don’t have time for the extra care. But all obstacles can be overcome by taking them one at a time. Time and love…  and love is ageless.

 

Posted in Cat Health, Cats, Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

A MURDER OF CROWS – INTERVIEW WITH SANDRA MURPHY

 

A new book! Just in time for Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year, Saturnalia, Jolabokaflod, or whatever other reason you might choose!

A Murder of Crows, Publisher: Darkhouse Books (October 9, 2019)

“What do you call a group of writers tasked with penning tales of crime that must include animals and their collective names?

21 short stories that each have a crime with a surprising animal-related twist—tingle of tarantulas, a cling of koalas, a tickle of goldfish, a clowder of cats, a pack of dogs, a waddle of penguins, a murder of crows, and more. No animals are harmed—the humans don’t fare so well.

Authors include: Jack Bates, Michael Bracken, Jeanne DuBois, Kaye George, EJ McFall, Kari Wainwright, John M. Floyd, Heidi Hunter, Jacqueline Seewald, Kathryn Gerwig, Earl Staggs, Marianne Wilski Strong, Damien Mckeating, C.A. Fehmel, Linda Kay Hardie, Helen O’Neill, Shielia J. Rizer, Maddi Davidson, Denise Johnson, Sandra Murphy, J.B. Toner”

As both an animal and a mystery lover, A Murder of Crows(Stories by various authors; Darkhorse Books) is an anthology that I’m very much looking forward to reading. Here is my interview the editor, author, and fellow member of the Cat Writers Association, Sandra Murphy.

Sandra Murphy and Izzie

Thanks so much Sandra for talking with us today. Your title, A Murder of Crows, is perfect! But is there actually a story that involves crows? 

Sandra: The last story is about crows and is titled The Kindly Dark by J. B. Toner. It’s a fitting end to the book, not just because of the last line but because it is so beautifully written. His descriptions are so visual, you feel like you’re standing next to the characters.

The stories had to incorporate the collective names of groups of animals. We have dodos, canaries, blackbirds, bats, bees, bears, wolves, koalas, goldfish, jellyfish, tarantulas, spiders, goats, dogs, cats, toads, alpaca, martens, monkeys, beagles who sniff out contraband at the airport, and crows. The authors chose their animal and I was very pleased at the variety.

Are all the stories mysteries?

Sandra: All the stories involve a crime, from smuggling to theft to murder. Although some of the people didn’t end so well, the main rule was, no animals could be maimed or killed. That extended to fur trim on a coat or a BLT for lunch. We changed one character’s job from dog catcher to soda jerk (the story is set in the 40s) because it implied an unhappy ending.

This would make a great present! Who do you think would enjoy it the most?

Sandra: Mystery readers who enjoy something a little different, time-challenged readers who like to read a story while waiting for an appointment or kid to get out of school, someone who likes a lot of variety— one story is in the 40s as I said, one in the 30s, settings include a library, a lab, the airport, an island, an animal sanctuary, dog park, a church, and more.

Sandy, you are the editor of the anthology. Tell us a little about yourself and what it’s like to put together an anthology?

Sandra: This is the first anthology I’ve edited. I started out writing magazine articles about cats and dogs, moved on to include all animals and then eco-friendly topics. My next two articles are about horses. I’ve edited the SPAWNews (small publisher, artists, writers network monthly online newsletter) for thirteen years. My collection of short stories, From Hay to Eternity: Ten Tales of Crime and Deception is available from Untreed Reads or the usual outlets.

For Crows we received 72 submissions, totaling 275,000 words. I read them all. Some were rejected at the first reading because they didn’t follow the guidelines— an animal was killed, it wasn’t a mystery, the collective name was a passing remark instead of part of the story. If the problem could be fixed, I gave the author a chance to do so. Some worked out, some not. Once the first rejections went out, it got harder. A lot of the stories were really good but just didn’t fit with the others chosen.

I chose stories of varying lengths so some would be quicker reads, some with more action, others more character-driven. There are first time authors and well-established writers. It’s a nice mix overall. I don’t know how many times I read each of the final stories during edits.

It wasn’t just choosing the stories and fixing typos, I cut parts that didn’t work or asked for more details, made suggestions for cover art, wrote the blurb for Amazon, the back cover, and chose the order of appearance. I learned a lot and had a great time doing it.

How did you come up with this idea?

Sandra: Kaye George is a prolific author (she has a new series beginning in March, Revenge is Sweet, available for pre-order).  She said on Facebook, “I’m a mystery writer and I have a murder of crows in my back yard.” I suggested an anthology of collective names, but she didn’t have time. Andrew MacRae of Darkhouse Books saw our conversation and suggested I do the anthology. Since I’ve reviewed a couple of his books, he knows my writing.

Kaye George wrote Grist for the Mill (bees).

Are you planning to do any more anthologies?

Sandra: The second anthology is underway. Submissions just closed. Rebellion, Revolution and Rock ‘n Roll—The Sixties in Music is the tentative title, featuring songs released in the 60s, with a crime of course. I thought I’d get a lot of protest songs or British invasion tunes but the choices have surprised and delighted me. It’s going to be hard to choose.

Hopefully, Rebellion will publish late spring/early summer 2020, and we’ll do another decade of music—the Roaring Twenties, the Big Band era, the Fifties, probably the 70s since much of the music I swore came out in the sixties, didn’t. We could go on to country, jazz, and show tunes.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about A Murder of Crows?

Sandra: In general, books run 80,000 words, giving the author plenty of room to tell backstory, motive, offer a list of suspects, build the setting, and let the reader get to know the characters, their friends, enemies, and family. With a short story, the author has 6,000 words maximum, 2,500 minimum. It’s fascinating to see how a big story can be packed into a small space. What a wonderful job I have!

Thanks so much, Sandy. Let us know when the next book is out! 60’s music and crime sounds like great fun!

You can buy A Murder of Crows here: https://tinyurl.com/u3sxqp6

Contact Sandra at wingedwoman@mindspring.com 

#catwritersassociation

John Floyd, who wrote “The Blue Wolf”

Earl Staggs wrote “A Gaggle of Geese” and “A Tribe of Goats”

Linda Kaye Hardie wrote “Smack,” the story about jellyfish

Michael Bracken, who wrote “A Cling of Koalas”

 

Posted in Book Talk, CAT WRITERS, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

MOLLIE HUNT’S BOOKLIST – IT’S NOT TO LATE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Are you ready for the holidays? I’m not! But it’s not too late to order a book for Christmas.

Books make great presents for everyone on your list.

   For your favorite fantasy fan, Cat Summer, a cat sci-fantasy novel where Sentient cats save the world from an evil older than history— twice!

For cozy mystery fans, the Crazy Cat Lady series, 6 books featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. Each has a different theme, and they need not be read in order. Pick your favorite.

Cats’ Eyes:  Look what the cat dragged in! When Lynley’s old kitty Fluffo discovers a stolen uncut diamond, Lynley finds herself accused of murdering the thieves.

Copy Cats:  Lynley exposes a breed cat counterfeiting ring and becomes the target of a serial killer who murders with a grisly, cat-like claw.

Cat’s Paw:  Two suspicious deaths at an elite art retreat send Lynley running back to Portland, but murder follows in her wake.

Cat Call:  Lynley takes over as cat handler for a TV pilot only to find the show is hexed and murder is waiting in the wings.

Cat Café:  A body is discovered on the floor of the cat café, and all the black cats are missing!

Cosmic Cat:  When a superhero cosplayer falls to his death at a comic con, Lynley is left holding the bag— and a cat!

 For something with a bit of Christmas spirit, Cat Noel, a Crazy Cat Lady Christmas novella. Lynley finds a new meaning of Christmas when a Wiccan’s familiar is catnapped, and Lynley becomes her only hope.

  For the not-so-cozy mystery fan, Placid River Runs Deep, a stand-alone mystery: When Ember MacKay learns she has a life-threatening illness, she flees to the old Placid River cabin, but instead of solace, she finds mayhem, murder and a revenge plot that has waited a generation to unfold.

  For poetry lovers, Cat Poems: For the Love of Cats, celebrating love, loss, and life shared with the feline species.

 

For fans of shorter fiction, Cat’s Cradle, a Crazy Cat Lady short mystery, and The Dream Spinner, short fantasy about a nursing home cat who guides the residents through their dreams and nightmares.

All my books come in print or eBook format.

Did you know you can gift eBooks? You can give most Kindle books available in the Kindle Store as a gift to anyone with an email address. You can send or receive Kindle books as gifts even if you do not own an Amazon device. Recipients can read a Kindle book gift on a supported Amazon device or Kindle reading app.

 

Happiest of holidays! 

 

 

 

Posted in Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More, Sci-fi & Fantasy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A FREE BOOK

I love Facebook.

Not everyone does, I know, but I’m lucky I guess. I have no trolls, stalkers, or folks who post gross animal pictures. Just about every time I browse through my friends’ posts, I find something to make me smile or something to make me think. Today I found the latter.

The post goes: “You want to put the ‘Christ’ back in Christmas? Feed the hungry, comfort the afflicted, love the outcast, forgive the wrongdoer, inspire the hopeless.”

That’s a big order, and firstly I must forgive myself for not being able to do it all. In fact, with my introvert life, the one that resonates the most with me is: “inspire the hopeless.”

I don’t know how many of you are hopeless, or how many of those who read my books fit that description, but we all have hopeless moments. I try my best to convey hope in my stories. They may not be as simple as a Hallmark movie, but my hero Lynley has her share of tribulations, and so far she’s always come out ahead. She suffers with general anxiety disorder; she selflessly cares for sick and aging cats; she is kind to humans. She always finds a happy ending, though it may not be the ending she wished for. Through Lynley, I try to convey real life and the real struggles we face day to day. In my way, I try to inspire the hopeless.

This is a difficult time of year. We are presented with an impossible objective. We are faced with moral dilemmas. We are forced along a tide of insincerity. Some of us give in and go broke trying to fill a well of need. Others Grinch up and run the other way. Still others are swept along, hoping for the best, hoping for it to be over. A few of us dig deeper and know the true meaning of Christmas.When I wrote “Cat Noel,” my Crazy Cat Lady cozy Christmas novella, I wasn’t sure where to start. How was I to convey Christmas when I didn’t feel it myself? But the story developed, as stories do, until by the end, meaning was found in unexpected places. It was a surprise to me, and a gift.

Like Lynley, I am a struggler. I can’t help but see the greed that pushes so much of the holiday advertising. But I want you to read my books. So from December 15 through December 19, the Kindle version of “Cat Noel” is free.  Take advantage of this limited promotion here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YBLHLMR

Thank you for reading my blog, and happy holidays.

CAT NOEL, a Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery Christmas novella

Lynley finds a new meaning of Christmas when a Wiccan’s familiar is catnapped, and Lynley is her only hope.

Lynley Cannon is dreading the Holidays. The sixty-something cat shelter volunteer would rather hang out with cats that brave her daughter’s soulless Christmas gala, so when a witch’s beloved kitty is catnapped, Lynley grabs the excuse to skip out on her social obligations.

Though Lynley knows little about the white witchcraft, Wicca, she does know cats and can’t decline a plea for help when one goes missing. Then the witch disappears as well. Lynley, compelled by her cat-like curiosity, sets out to search for the pair, but the task is daunting.

A freak snow storm and a crazed captor take things in a dangerous direction. As Lynley endures the cold dark of confinement, the Christmas spirit brings a strength she never knew she possessed.

 

 

 

Posted in Cats, Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More, Giveaways | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

THANKFUL FOR CATS

You already know I love cats. All cats. The pretty and the ugly; the old and the young; the healthy and the sick; the sweet and the mean; the housecat, the feral, the wild. I love them, all across the board.

I sometimes ask myself why I can’t extend that feeling of acceptance to my own species. Actually I think it do, to some extent. I try to empathize with people whose views are different than mine. (Some folks make that easier than others.) I strive to embrace diversity. But even so, I find myself standoffish. Maybe it’s the fear factor: some of these people can hurt me. But is the threat real or is it perceived? Is it the inborn instinct to fear what the unknown?

When I was a hippie back in the early seventies, I lived in the desert of southern California on a 40-acre stretch of unimproved wilds. The sections sold for $40 down and $40 a month, affordable even to us. The others who bought these parcels in the absolute midst of nowhere were a varied bunch, but we all had one thing in common: we were running from something.

We made unlikely friends with an older couple from Texas. In those days we would have described them as red-necks, and if you know anything of history, red-necks and hippies did not mix. Somehow though, in this wasteland of desert scrub, we found the things we had in common: whiskey, pool, chicken wings. We often got together for a few games and a few shots. For a long time, no one brought up our obvious differences, such as my boyfriend Tom’s long, long hair or the fact we were living in sin.

Then, at a Thanksgiving dinner of chicken wings and whiskey, it happened . The man, whose name I’ve long forgotten, began to rant about how much he hated the hippies. He went on for a several minutes while we just sat there wondering if we were about to be thrown out the door… or worse! (There was a shotgun above the kitchen table, and after all, this was country where a body would never be found.)

Suddenly he turned to Tom, looked him in the eye, and said, “Not you, of course. I’m not talking about you. I like you.”

The lesson I learned right then and there, and have never forgotten since, is that the fear of difference fades with association.

That said, I still get along better with cats.

Have a wonderful holiday, and try to be tolerant of those who are not the same as you. Then you can go home to your cats and be proud of a job well done.

 

 

Posted in Cats, Life Through Amber, memoir | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

iAmMoshow Does It Again! 40K For Cats!

 

Who doesn’t love National Cat Day? Of course we know that to cat people, every day is Cat Day, but it’s fun to pull out all the stops with an extra special celebration once a year. And this October 29th, something wonderful did happen for two cat shelters, one of them right here in my home town!

You may remember that about a year ago I interviewed Portland’s one and only cat rapper, iAmMoshow. He had done a video for Arm & Hammer, who had in turn pledged a huge donation to Mac’s Fund if the video got a million hits. This year they did it again, and one of the benefiting shelters was our own Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, right outside Portland. If Moshow’s video got 2 million hits in the prescribed time, Arm & Hammer would donate $10,000 each to CAT and another shelter, ACCT Philly in Pennsylvania. The video far exceeded expectations, with 8 million hits, and here’s the surprise:

From Arm & Hammer’s official Press Release:

“The Maker of ARM & HAMMER™ Cat Litter Surprises Two Cat Welfare Organizations by Doubling a Donation to $40K after Success of Cat Rap Video “Double Duty,” starring iAmMoshow.

Thanks to fans who watched the video 4x more than the goal of 2 million views, ARM & HAMMER™ shocked Cat Adoption Team in Oregon and ACCT Philly in Pennsylvania with an extra $20K.

   

In July, ARM & HAMMER™ and iAmMoshow released “Double Duty” in hopes of generating excitement for cat owners, inspiring fans to help their local community cats and ultimately giving more power to all cat lovers. Thanks to all the fans who watched and shared the video, CAT and ACCT Philly received an additional $10,000 for a total of $20,000 each to help fund their efforts of keeping community cats safe, healthy and able to find good homes for adoption.”

 

Lets give a special thank you to Moshow, who donated his time, energy, and love to this unique project. That man is one of the hardest working people I know, and he is all about cats! Though I was unable to attend the donation ceremony at CAT last Tuesday, I did get to see Moshow preform at Pop Cats a few weeks ago. The energy in the room was amazing! He seems to bring out the best in people with his unabashed positivism. Thank you, Moshow! We love you!

 

About iAmMoshow, The Cat Rapper™
iAmMoshow is the internet’s premiere Cat Rapper. Born and raised in inner Baltimore, MD, he combined his passion for rap and cats to defy the odds and build a name for himself. Some of his most popular songs include Cat Bath Rap, Cat Emotions and Cat World and has three albums available on YouTube, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music, Deezer, Apple Music and iHeartRadio.

Currently living in Portland, OR, with his 5 cats – Black $avage, Sushi, Lil Parmesan, MegaMam, and Ravioli – iAmMoshow is on a mission to inspire the world, sharing with others the lessons he has learned, to not give up on yourself and follow your dreams, no matter where they take you. To learn more, check out www.facebook.com/iammoshow and follow @iammoshow on Instagram. Don’t forget to tag #BeautifulCatLadyWednesdays.

About Cat Adoption Team
Cat Adoption Team (CAT) is the largest cat shelter in the Pacific Northwest. We offer adoption, foster care, and veterinary services to homeless cats and kittens. With over 20 years of experience and nearly 50,000 adoptions, we know cats! While in our care, cats and kittens have access to enrichment activities, behavior modification, medical care, and a variety of housing options to meet their individual needs.Through our carefully supervised adoption program, more than 3,200 cats and kittens are adopted into loving homes each year.

 

 

 

Posted in Animal Shelters, Cats | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

8 WAYS TO SUPPORT A BOOK LAUNCH WITHOUT ACTUALLY GOING

Yes, it’s a little bit snarky, but the tips are from the heart.

https://firestarpress.blogspot.com/2019/10/8-ways-to-support-book-launch-without.html

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

2 Launches-4 Genres-6 New Books!

All book launches are exciting, but the coming launch of Cat Noel, a Crazy Cat Lady Christmas Novella, will be the cat’s pajamas. I’m sharing the spotlight with fellow Sister in Crime author Heather Ames and her new suspense mystery, Swift Retribution, the 3rd in Heather’s Brian Swift & Kaylen Roberts series.

But wait! There’s more!

Heather will also have two all-new reissues: Indelible, (Brian Swift & Kaylen Roberts series #1) and All That Glitters, a romantic/suspense stand-alone.

I’ll be bringing my just-released Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery (#6), Cosmic Cat, as well as the first book in a new sci-fantasy tetralogy, Cat Summer.

We will both have copies of our other books on hand, as well as Series Sets at a bargain price.

Please join us for tea and wine at Another Read Through Bookstore, Thursday October 17th at 7:00. It will be quite an evening!

Another Read Through  3932 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227

Note: The reading area at ART is up a long flight of stairs.

About CAT NOEL:

Lynley finds a new meaning of Christmas when a Wiccan’s familiar is catnaped, and Lynley becomes her only hope.
________________________________________

Lynley Cannon is dreading the Holidays. The sixty-something cat shelter volunteer would rather hang out with cats that brave her daughter’s soulless Christmas gala, so when a witch’s beloved kitty is catnapped, Lynley grabs the excuse to skip out on her social obligations.

Though Lynley knows little about the white witchcraft known as Wicca, she does know cats and can’t decline a plea for help when one goes missing. Then the witch disappears as well. Lynley, compelled by her cat-like curiosity, sets out to search for the pair, but the task is more difficult than she’d thought.

A freak snow storm and a crazed captor take things in a dangerous direction. As Lynley endures the cold dark of confinement, the Christmas spirit brings a strength she never knew she possessed.

 

 

Posted in Book Talk, Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

CATS TAKING OVER THE WORLD, ONE CONVENTION AT A TIME

Camillia, future cat lady.

Cats aren’t just for crazy cat ladies anymore!

Last weekend I participated in something new- a cat, pop, and art convention called Pop Cats. Since the advent of Cat Con LA and Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp a few years ago, I’d heard a lot about cat conventions, but I had little hope one would actually come to Portland. I’m not sure why, since Portland and its surroundings have some of the most cat-centric people in the country. Portland’s Oregon Humane Society is a leader in cat welfare, uniting with other animal affiliations to form ASAP, the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland, working to reduce cat overpopulation. (They have been so successful that now OHS brings cats from all over the US to keep up with our local adoption needs!) Portland has several wonderful cat shelters and organizations such as Cat Adoption Team and House of Dreams no-kill all-volunteer cat house.

Anyway, they came, the Pop Cats people, and a wonderful convention ensued. My friend and fellow cat writer Ramona Marek and I were there to sell our books, but we also took turns shopping, listening to fun and informative presentations, and checking out the other vendors. There was an artist’s section as well as lots f space for purveyors of cat necessities such as food, beds and catnip. Several shelters had booths, including OHS which set up a corral of kittens up for adoption.

And what would a convention be without celebrities? Headliners were the Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw and Iammoshow the Cat Rapper. (He’s from Portland!) There was also celeb cat BenBen CatCat and his family Norman and Dilly Bean, (who have cerebellar hypoplasia) and the families of Maya Cat and Monte & Molly all the way from Denmark!

BenBen CatCat

Michael and Mikala, Monte & Molly’s people

Pop Cats had it all: art, clothing, accessories, kitchenware, trinkets, jewelry, and an endless array of items for the cat-inclined, but one of the coolest things about the convention was the people! The amazing cat finery- everything from sequined cat ears to entire furry costumes! And it wasn’t just the women and children, either. Men sported cat ears and hats, tee shirts, cosmic pants, and I even saw a few tails among the crowd.

Cats aren’t just for crazy cat ladies anymore! I can’t wait for the next Pop Cats to come to town!

About Pop Cats: POP Cats is a fun-packed festival fueled by the spirit of cats, pop, and art! You’ll love the cat playgrounds; artists; music; photo ops; artisans; brands; workshops; influencers; cat adoptions; and more! A portion of profits benefits participating cat organizations.

 

 

Posted in Animal Shelters, Cats, Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries & More, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments