THE LATHE OF PORTLAND, from the Fire Star Press Blogsite


Are you in the mood for a little dystopian tale? Part memoir, part crazy. Check it out on my Fire Star Press Blog Site.

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I would rather write a four-hundred-page manuscript than a book blurb. Attempting to boil the complex intricacies of a book into a few choice sentences seems an impossible chore, and for a long time, I treated it as such.

I’m not sure when I came the realization that a blurb is not a synopsis, and therefore doesn’t need to contain the same information, but thankfully I did. In fact, the purpose of the book blurb is to entice interest, to lead the reader to open the book. It’s supposed to be a teaser, not a blow-by-blow of the story. It can be done in a mere few sentences.

Think movie trailer. Bam! Pow! A glimpse of a superhero; a shot of a love scene. In one to three minutes’ time, we get a boatload of hints that leave us wanting— no, needing—to know more!

I write 3 blurbs for each of my books:

1. The one-sentence elevator pitch (also called a tag-line): I often make this up before I’ve even finished writing the book, sometimes within the first few chapters. For Cat Café, I wrote: “A body was found in the cat café and all the black cats were missing.” Though the story revolves around the murder and the black cats are merely a subplot, it’s a hook to peak the reader’s imagination. It tells two key points about the book: there is a murder, and there are cats, both important factors in my cozy cat mysteries.

2. The back cover blurb: This is your a standard teaser, a few short paragraphs, often containing what I call The Magic Three and ending with The Question.

The Magic Three: three teasing statements that give information. From Joan D. Vinge’s Phoenix in the Ashes, the first book I picked up while writing this post: “A prince who became a beggar…; a feudal lord who met a high-tech lord; a cat who had lost his mind-powers…” For Cat Café: “A black cat rescue, an antique photograph, an elaborate payback.” This trio, without further explanation, promises these points in the story.

The Question: The back cover blurb often ends with a hook: the question— you know: “How will they escape the horror?” “Will she live to clean the litter box another day?” Again, the point is to intrigue, not to give full disclosure.

That said, both The Magic Three and The Question are grossly overused, so try to give them a new twist. A blurb that is ordinary, repetitive, or boring turns away the reader before they’ve even opened the book.

3. The mini-synopsis: The mini-synopsis tells a book’s story in a linier fashion and contains information about the characters, setting, and plot. Think, describing your book to a friend. (Leaving out spoilers of course.) This can be used for blogposts or interviews where I’m talking in-depth. Length can vary from 250 words and up, but it shouldn’t be longer than one page.

Funny story. I just spent an hour rewriting a three-line blurb for Cat Conundrum, the next Crazy Cat Lady Mystery. And what’s more, this is the third time I’ve done it! I hope you have better luck writing your blurbs than I do.

PS: If writing blurbs completely eludes you, you can always hire someone to do it for you!




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I can’t wait a moment longer!

There you have it, the beautiful cover for the 7th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, Cat Conundrum. Do you love it? I love it! I love Leslie’s use of color and texture to tell the story of the cat and the birds. The name of the piece is “Gossip.” Here is a note from Leslie:

The cover painting is called “Gossip.” In my imagination, the bird on the left is telling the cat something, while the one above is saying, “Don’t tell the cat! It’s a secret!”

Check out this and other works by Leslie Cobb, Cat Artist here.

Cat Conundrum is a convoluted tale of mystery, intrigue, and cats. I chose this painting because one of the cats featured in the story is a silver Maine Coon who I picture looking much like this one. He is found at the scene of a murder, locked in the room with the victim. Since the poor boy badly needs someone to foster him during the investigations into the crime, Lynley Cannon steps up for the job. For lack of any other identification, she calls him Seaview after the little coastal town where he was found.

Seaview was a witness to the death, but as much as Lynley tries to purr-suade him to spill his secrets, he keeps his sly cat lips tightly shut. As his roots are revealed, however, Lynley finds he has more to tell than she could have ever guessed.

Cat Conundrum will be released on National Cat Day, October 29th. Stay tuned for more about the launch party

Contest winner!

The winner of last week’s Cover Reveal Contest is Jane Dietz! Congratulations, Jane! We hope you enjoy your ceramic heart cat set!

One Last Contest!

In a final Cat Conundrum Cover Reveal contest giveaway, I’m offering a signed paperback copy of Cat Conundrum, sent to you before it comes out! That’s right. The winner will be able to read Cat Conundrum before anyone else (aside from me and my editor, of course)!

For a chance to win, email me at and put Contest, Conundrum Book in the subject line. Tyler the cat will choose the winner at random from the entries received. Sorry, U.S. addresses only. Drawing later this month TBA.

More Fun To Come!

With all this time sitting at home, I’m planning more Cat Conundrum fun. Next will be a series of posts highlighting different items from the book. Since this tale takes place when Lynley travels to the coast, I’ll be sure to include some beachy parts. I’ll get some excerpts going to peak interest, and feature lots to do with cats.

Cat Conundrum will be out October 29th, 2020 in celebration of National Cat Day. There will be lots more good news between now and then!




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Light Up The World For Orphan Pets

Changing just one mind can save a life, September 24, 2020.

It’s Remember Me Thursday, the day we get the entire world talking about pet adoption. Today, unite with pet-lovers around the world to shine a light on orphan pets waiting in shelters and rescues for forever homes. Everyone gets to join in! Tweet, tag, post and share the beauty and life-saving significance of pet adoption on social media. Let’s honor the 1+ million orphan pets who ran out of time and help #SeeTheLight for the rescues that we can still help.

In line for euthanasia.

Let’s replace those words with:

Forever home.
Best friend.

Blaze says yes! (Adopted from the Oregon Humane Society on June 29th, 2018)

Tyler agrees! (Adopted from the Oregon Humane Society on June 1th, 2017)

Ginchan has something to say too: I’ve been blessed with a loving home since I was born in 2002, and I wish everybody could have the same as me!

Remember Me Thursday® is a global awareness campaign uniting individuals and pet adoption organizations around the world as an unstoppable, integrated voice for orphan pets to live in forever homes, not die waiting for them.






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Can you see it?

A silver cat. A green bird or two. A blue sky. It’s all beginning to come together. Less squiggles, more artwork. In fact, if you go to cat artist Leslie Cobb’s website, you should be able to figure out which piece this is. Or you can wait and see. There will be one more obscured picture post before the cover for Cat Conundrum is fully revealed.

Cat Conundrum, 7th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery, takes our hero Lynley out to the wild Washington Coast where she is confronted with a series of murders so cunning, even she cannot guess the true nature of the crimes. Not only do the victims have nothing in common; the murders themselves are committed in different fashions. The only detail they share is that the murder room is always locked from the inside.

Here is the blurb:

A locked room. A dead man. The cat is the only witness, and he isn’t talking.

A series of locked-room murders have been committed in sleepy little Long Beach, Washington, but as for the killer, Sheriff Matt Boulder has no idea why or who. When he calls in his friend, animal cop Denny Paris, much to his surprise, he gets Lynley Cannon too. This isn’t the first murder investigation for the sixty-something cat shelter volunteer. While the officers investigate one line of inquiry, Lynley and her buddy Frannie take a different approach. Their only clues are a cat found at the murder scene and a rich man’s missing wife, but thread by thread, they unravel a scheme more insidious than fiction.

 Contest winner!

The winner of last week’s Cover Reveal Contest is Kathleen Harmon! Congratulations, Kathleen! We hope you enjoy your Sleepyville Critters Cat Purse and wallet set!

For full disclosure, I have to tell you the judge of this week’s contest was Blaze since Tyler was exhausted from his Zoom session with the Northwest Independent Writers Association. Thanks, Blaze, for stepping up.

New Contest!

In a third Cat Conundrum Cover Reveal contest giveaway, I’m offering a sweet set of ceramic heart cat items. One is a 3″ heart-shaped ornament with a furry cat on the front, and the other is a 1.5″ handmade porcelain pin, “Calico Mom & Baby.”

For a chance to win, email me at and put Contest, Heart Cats in the subject line. Tyler the cat will choose the winner at random from the entries received. Sorry, U.S. addresses only. Drawing later this month TBA.

Stay Tuned…

Cat Conundrum will be out October 29th, 2020 in celebration of National Cat Day. There will be lots more good news between now and then!



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No, it’s not my day-of-birth but my day-of-rebirth, known in Alcoholics Anonymous as my Birthday. It’s been thirteen years since I took that last drink, one day at a time. I don’t know how much that adds up to in 24-hour increments, but what matters is that I won’t drink today.

I remember everything about that last cocktail: where I was, who I was with, how it tasted as it went down, how it felt. It was a vodka martini, the second one. The clock on the bar wall read 3:45. I knew I had to quit. I’d waited until the last minute, and now it was do or die. I toasted my friend, slugged back the remaining droplets, and exited into the warm summer-like afternoon. I mumbled the Serenity Prayer, remembered why I was doing this, why I had to do this, and went on with my life.

In fact, I went on with a new life. The old one wouldn’t work anymore since much of it centered around drinking. Step by step, I learned who I was underneath the drunk. I followed dreams and realized them. I made a new way for myself. I had to cut out some friends who didn’t understand “why the fuck” I wouldn’t drink with them; I made new friends. The fog lifted from my eyes, and I felt renewed. I took to heart a spiritual presence, something greater than myself, without whose help I would have never survived.

Everybody does it differently, but one thing all alcoholics/addicts have in common is the way our drug rules our life. So in the face of such evidence, why are we so resistant to change? That’s what addiction does. It tells us what we’re doing is okay, right, the only way open to us. What would we have left in a world without booze? The devil we know, etc.

I won’t go into the insidious tragedy that is alcoholism, or how an alcoholic mind will do anything to keep us drinking: lie, cheat, steal – anything. I won’t try to define why one person can have a few glasses of wine with dinner, while another won’t stop until all the booze is gone or they pass out, whichever comes first. Unless you ask, I won’t tell you about the things I did during my drinking career. Some were good and some were very very bad. I’m lucky to be here today.

More precisely, I am blessed.

So raise a glass with me- mine is ginger ale, but you drink whatever works for you. Please join me to toast thirteen years of sobriety. One day at a time.


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Zooming with Heather Haven, Reblogged from Ladies of Mystery

Thanks, Heather, for putting into words the trials and tribulation we writers are facing this year. Who would have thought?

Reblogged from Ladies of Mystery

Heather cartoon-smallest copy

If anyone had said to me six-months ago a large part of being an author in today’s world would be virtual, I would have laughed in his or her face. So much for reading the future. Before the pandemic, I did my share of in-the-flesh panel discussions, book signings, writers’ meetings, board meetings i.e., the basic tools of the trade. They were enough of a trial. Back in the day, the Bay Area traffic was so bad it would take hours to travel anywhere that wasn’t your local filling station. But here I am, forced into the unlikely reality of Zoom.Zoom

First off, I had no idea how to Zoom. What do you mean, I need a camera? And a mic? Am I going to have to push a bunch of buttons? But soon I realized it was time to come kicking and screaming into 2020. This old Poodle needed…

View original post 545 more words

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Since we’re stuck in our own little spaces and I can’t get out among my readers, I’m trying to do some fun things to introduce my upcoming Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, Cat Conundrum. Recently I began a 5-phase cover reveal, and to keep people amused, I offered a contest giveaway. It was fun, and I’ plan on doing it again through all five phases of the reveal.

The contest judge is my cat Tyler. Tyler has experience as a judge and is very good at it. I don’t know what his system is,  but he always comes up with a decisive choice.

As I went through the judging process with him this morning, I realized you might be as interested in his arcane process as I am. So here it is:

First I write all the entries’ names on scraps of colored paper, then fold them in half, name-side-in so Tyler can’t read them and cheat.

I approach the cat with the handful of entries. He is sleeping.

The nearly-imperceptible displacement of air caused by the dropping of the scraps instantly brings Tyler alert. He contemplates.

He walks away, seemingly intent on something else…

…but no. He was just thinking. He returns, slowly and with much deliberation.

He looks, sniffs, studies. He won’t tell me what difference he senses between the scraps.

Oh, Rats! I missed the moment! His paw has landed on a purple scrap, and I still don’t know the secret of Tyler’s judging process…

…and he’s not about to tell me!

Please join  Tyler and me for the second contest giveaway, to be drawn next week. This drawing is for a Sleepyville Critters Cat Purse and wallet set. The purse is 8″ across and has a shoulder strap. Both items are brand new.

For a chance to win, email me at and put Contest, Cat Purse in the subject line. Tyler the cat will choose the winner at random from the entries received. Sorry, U.S. addresses only. Name will be drawn Saturday September 12th, 2020.


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Check it out.

What do you see in all those colorful squiggles? An elephant? A unicorn. A cat…? Is that an eye? A cat’s eye? Granted, it’s still mostly squiggles at this point, but all will be revealed.

This is part of the official Cover Reveal sequence for Cat Conundrum, 7th in the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series. If you’ve read others in the series, you know our hero Lynley Cannon routinely finds herself in trouble. She’d been in pickles, quandaries, jams, messes, and a whole lot of hot water, but has she ever been in a real conundrum before?

What exactly is a conundrum? According to Merriam-Webster, conundrum is one of the ten most frequently search terms on their website—not what is trending, but words that consistently rank among the top searches.

Conundrum refers to complex, difficult problems or, more informally, a mystery or puzzle (or a riddle with a punning answer). The word is, ironically, itself a mystery, with its exact origin unknown.

“What is known is that the word has been in use since the early 1600s, and that it had various spellings, such as conimbrum, quonundrum, conuncrum, and quadundrum, before the current spelling was finally established sometime in the mid-17th century. One theory of origin suggests that the word was coined as a parody of Latin by students at Oxford University, where it appears to have enjoyed particular popularity in its “word play” or “pun” sense.

While the prevalent sense in this century is that of the seemingly unanswerable question or problem, frequently applied to heady dilemmas involving ethics, sociology, or economics, the word is sometimes so loosely applied to anything enigmatic as to be synonymous with puzzle or mystery.”


Contest Winner!

The winner of last week’s Cover Reveal Contest is Alice Duff! Congratulations, Alice! We hope you enjoy your Cat Lady License Plate Frame!

Another Contest!

Since I can’t get out and physically promote Cat Conundrum, I’m celebrating in different ways. This week’s contest drawing is for a Sleepyville Critters Cat Purse and wallet set. The purse is 8″ across and has a shoulder strap. Both items are new.

For a chance to win, email me at and put Contest, Cat Purse in the subject line. Tyler the cat will choose the winner at random from the entries received. Sorry, U.S. addresses only. Name will be drawn Saturday September 12th.

Stay Tuned…

Cat Conundrum is due out October 29th, 2020 in celebration of National Cat Day. There will be lots more good news between now and then!



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Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, August 28th

It’s part of life, one that we as cat people dread with all our hearts: the passing of our feline companions. Every one of us has experienced the heartbreak of losing a beloved cat, yet we adopt again and again, because the joy and love when they are alive outweighs the loss when they are gone. Someone decided there needed to be a day when we could all remember together and share our grief: Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day.

The Rainbow Bridge.

The Rainbow Bridge, for those not familiar, is a mythological place to which cats and other pets go when they die. There, they wait  for their person to eventually join them when the time comes. Read more about the Rainbow Bridge here.

How Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day began.

Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day was the inspiration of fellow Cat Writers Association member Deb Barnes in honor of her cat, Jazz, who had recently crossed. Learn more and participate in her events here.

My remembrance.

There are so many—so many that the dedication of my 3rd Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, Cat’s Paw, began with a block of names of cats who have passed, both mine and others. I asked readers to submit the names of their dear departed, and even now, years later, I’m still receiving them.  I acknowledge every one of those pleas even though the submission time is long past, because I know what it means to those who have made them.

Dirty Harry, Little, Tinkerbelle, and Big Red

If you read my mysteries, these names will be familiar to you. When I began my series in 2013, this foursome was very much alive, but as time passed, so did they. Dirty Harry left us in 2014; Tinkerbelle and Big Red only a month apart in 2016, and Little succumbed to cancer in 2019. All four lived well into their teens, but I’d give anything if there could have been more.

Who have you had to leave behind? Does it comfort you to believe, if only just a little, that you will see them once again across the Rainbow Bridge?



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