Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? ALLIA ZOBEL NOLAN

Today’s guest on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? is the prolific and diverse author Allia Zobel Nolan.

Allia Zobel Nolan is an internationally published author of 150+ children’s and adult books. Her titles range from the Divine to the feline and include such varied titles as Whatever Is Lovely: A 90-Day Devotional Journal, (Harper Christian)Cat Confessions: A Kitty-Come-Clean Tell-All Book, (Harvest House),The Joy of Being Fifty+ (Workman Publishing, illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist, Roz Chast), and more.

A former Reader’s Digest Children’s Publishing senior editor, she collaborated with the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop to publish Laugh Out Loud with 40 funny EBWW humorists. The title won a 2019 Humor Indie Award. The second version of her devotional, The Worrywart’s Prayer Book: 40 Help Me Get a Grip, God Meditations and Prayers, recently sold 1,300 in one day in a BookBub featured deal.  Her latest title, What I Like about You: a Book about Acceptance, won a 2020 Children’s Picture Book Indie Award. The Evangelical Christian Publishers recently awarded Cat Confessions a Bronze Award for sales of over 100,000 (the book is currently at 141,00+ copies sold).

She is a member and past director of the Cat Writers’ Association and the proud mother of two fur-babies, Nolan Nolan and Colleen Fiona Shannon Nolan.

A little bit about my writing:

I have been blessed in that I have had quite a number of books traditionally published. With foreign editions, (the ones I know about, and the pirated ones I don’t know about), various formats of the same book, and books I’ve written under a pseudonym, I’d say I have about 150 to 175 titles in print.

Last year, in cooperation with the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, I wrote ten humor pieces, compiled 40 more from EBWW alumni, and put together my first-ever self-pubbed book, LAUGH OUT  LOUD: 40 WOMEN HUMORISTS CELEBRATE THEN AND NOW…BEFORE WE FORGET.

Photo: Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

I felt a great responsibility with this book because so many people were depending on me to get it right and get it published on time. I had six months to do it to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Workshop. No pressure.

LOL.  It was kind of frightening, but exciting. One fun thing we did was to collect photos of people reading the book and made a trailer—another first for me: https://youtu.be/WWvTjuxdUx0  I even took the book to Ireland and photographed it all around Kinsale and Cork City.

Twenty of the contributors came to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop’s 10th anniversary, which is where I released the book and gave each writer a copy. The University of Dayton’s bookstore sold 100 copies at the event.

Some of the contributors and myself paused for a photo.

And here I have to interject, the book won a 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Award for humor, which, as you can imagine, really made my day, and those of the contributors. The award came from left field as this was my first foray into self-publishing and I never expected this kind of recognition on my first go-round. To read more about the award, go to the Erma Bombeck site http://humorwriters.org/

I have only experienced writer’s block once, and that was on a devotional I wrote for Harper Christian (Zondervan, FaithGirlz) and that was a book called: Whatever Is Lovely: a 90-day Devotional and Journal. The book was based on Philippians 4:8 and consisted of eight chapters with eight subchapters, each with a Scripture reference, an anecdotal example written in “tween speak,” a take-away, a life lesson and a prayer.

Half way through the book, I thought I had run out of things to say and was in danger of repeating myself.  I thought about telling my editor I hit a wall and giving back the advance. But I prayed over it, and I got what I needed to go on.

Plus I took a tip from my husband: He told me to get a box of manila folders. Label one with a chapter heading. Then write anything and everything, nonstop, that comes to mind about that chapter. Don’t worry about form or spelling or run on sentences, or half sentences. Just put down what comes to mind, he said.

The next step is to repeat that same procedure for the next chapter and the next chapter, etc. This way, you are working out your writer’s block, plus you’re getting something down about each chapter that you may or may not use in the final. However, at least you have something to start with instead of a blank page. It worked for me. This book took approximately a year to write.

My bestselling cat book is Cat Confessions: a Kitty Come Clean Tell All Book. It sales are currently over 135,000 copies and it won a 2020 Evangelical Christian  Publishers Award for sales of over 100,000. I refer to it as the little red book that could…and did. I never in my life expected this, but happy it happened.

I started my career as a stringer on several local newspapers, then went on to feature stories, humor, and editorial pieces. I wrote a Hers column for the Connecticut Post for a while until I got into publishing. My first book, The Joy of Being Single, with illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist, Roz Chast, was initially a humor column published by the Hartford Courant. I pitched it to Peter Workman at Workman Publishing with one letter, without an agent, and he bought it, which is why I believe being an author was what I was meant to be.

While I continued to write books for myself, I got a senior editor’s position at Reader’s Digest Children’s Publishing (now defunct), where, as their in-house author, I wrote quite a few religious and trade titles under my own and pseudomonas. Once I got the taste of publishing, there was no going back, and after a nine-year stint at RDCP, I went out on my own. My books range from the Divine (kids’ Bible books, inspirational titles) to the Feline (cat humor, general humor) and I enjoy writing both.

 

Allia, how do cats inspire creativity? 

Write what you know, the experts say. And I believe I know cats…at least the ones I’ve been privileged to have in my life. Since I’ve been on my own, one or more of these exquisite furballs have been by my side, on my couch,  in  my bed.  So it seemed only natural for me to focus on them a) because they are hysterically funny; b) because each cat is unique, quirky, and their antics always gave me oodles to write about. 

What advice can you share with newbies?

My advice to anyone who wants to be an author is: have patience; believe in yourself, practice perseverance (it’s your greatest asset in this business); have fun writing; savor your successes, quickly forget your rejections (everyone gets them), take risks, be unique,  don’t consistently compare yourself to others; make genuine friends (not just the ones who can help you succeed), be in the moment, don’t let others’ opinions color yours, read volumes, stay genuine, be satisfied, and count your blessings.

 

My first foray in self-publishing 

During the pandemic, when a lot of publishing was in turmoil, I took a leap of faith and decided to self-publish/republish three books.  The Worrywart’s Prayer Book: 40 “Help-Me-Get-a-Grip, God” Meditations and Prayers was originally published by Health Communications, Inc. (the Chicken Soup people). I decided with the world in such a state, and because the rights had reverted to me, that I’d dust the manuscript off and republish the book, so I updated the cover, format, typesetting and put it out on KDP. In a recent Bookbub featured deal, it sold 1,300+ e-book copies in one day. Of all the books I’ve written, this is my favorite. So I was very glad to see it on Amazon again with its new look.

The second book, Why a Cat is Still Better Than a Man, was a revival of a title popular back in the day. And again, I decided, with the okay of the illustrator, Nicole Hollander (she is the syndicated Sylvia cartoonist many will remember), to republish with a new cover, several new cartoons, and revamped format. It is in soft cover and e-book. Because of the pandemic, I really didn’t get a chance to market this book. So I’m trying to get the word out about it now.

Last pandemic title is the follow-up to the bestseller, What I Like About Me, entitled What I Like About You. It’s a kids’ picture book and it won an Indie Award for Children’s Picture Books.

 Right now, I have two kids’ books and one inspirational cat book in the pipeline and am happy as a clam (are clams really happy?). The cat book is about cats and eternity. I’ve had this title in my “To do” list for years, and am finally getting around to it.

 

My cats:


 Over the years, as have many CWAers, I’ve rescued several cats. The two I have now are Nolan Nolan, and Colleen Fiona Shannon Nolan. The story with Nolan is I went to the shelter to adopt a black cat, and spied the most beautiful black ball of fluff. His name? Nolan. So, I called my husband to tell him I found the perfect cat and he might just be a relative.

My second cat Colleen Fiona Shannon Nolan, got her name because I couldn’t make up my mind so I christened her with all three first names. However, I call her “Girlie Cat.”

Last year, I did something I never thought I would do: I adopted a rescue dog from South Carolina. My husband kept calling her “Here, Kitty,” as he was used to calling the cats. So we named the dog, Miss Kitty. She is very very cat-like, licks her paws, sleeps a lot, and has NOT barked since we got her a year and four months ago. Vet said people who had her (they think in a puppy mill) might have sprayed dogs with water so they wouldn’t bark. So she’s quiet as a mouse (LOL). She gets along with the cats because she is very very shy and not nervous or jumping around. She sits in my office with the cats and they provide good vibes for my writing.

If I had my life to live over again, I’d do exactly what I’m doing…only I’d have started it much much much earlier.

Visit my website: www.AlliaWrites for more info. Like my page The Worrywart’s Prayer Book and my author page, Allia Zobel Nolan Books ‘n Things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? DEBBIE DE LOUISE

Today on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? I’m happy to introduce you to a personal friend of mine, Debbie De Louise. Debbie is a prolific mystery writer and cat person whom I met several years ago at the Cat Writers’ Association Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library. She’s the author of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series featuring Alicia, the librarian and Sneaky, the library cat. She’s also published three standalone mysteries, a paranormal romance, a time-travel novel, a romantic comedy novella, and a collection of cat poems. Her stories and poetry appear in over a dozen anthologies. Debbie also writes articles for Catster.com. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats. Learn more about Debbie and her books by visiting her website at https://debbiedelouise.com.

Debbie, please tell us about your writing career.

I write a variety of standalone novels and short stories in various genres. I also write some poetry. Most of my writing features cats and also other pets. My main genre is mystery and cozy mystery. My Cobble Cove cozy series featuring Sneaky the Library Cat consists of five, full-length novels and a short story collection that are available in paperback and eBook and are all free on Kindle Unlimited. The title for the story collection is Sneaky’s Supernatural Mystery and other Short Stories. It was recently published by Solstice Publishing.

I’ve also started a new cozy series called Buttercup Bend Mysteries. The first book, The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady, was just released May 15th. The main character, Cathy Carter, is the co-owner of a pet cemetery and rescue center. She is also a photographer for the local newspaper, the Buttercup Bugle.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

My cats all have different personalities, as most cat people know from observing their own cats. The funny and cute things they do help me characterize the cats in my books and stories.

Now for five extremely arbitrary questions.

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

I sure did. My parents were animal lovers. We always had many pets in our home, cats as well as dogs. My mother couldn’t turn down a stray, and she also cared for outdoor cats. I describe many of the cats I grew up with and cared for after I married in my short story, The Path to Rainbow Gardens, and my poetry collection, Meows and Purrs. I also wrote The Story of Harry and Hermione for the anthology, Second Hand Cats: The Cats We Rescue and the Cats Who Rescue Us, about adopting my current cats, Harry and Hermione.

  1. Does cat love run in your family?

Yes. I believe my daughter has inherited the cat-loving gene or has developed that special attachment to felines because she grew up with them, as I did.

  1. What would your life be without cats?

I can’t imagine that. Although it’s so painful when I lose them, having cats in my life provides comfort, laughter, fun, and so much love.

  1. Have you ever seen a ghost cat?

Yes. My daughter and I have both been visited by ghost cats in our home, and I wrote about the experience in Dusty Rainbolt’s upcoming book, Ghost Cats 2.

  1. Have you won any awards for your cat writing?

Yes. I’ve won several certificates from the Cat Writers’ Association for some of my published work, as well as a special award from Purina Hartz for my cat grooming article in Catster Magazine, Brush Your Cat for Bonding, Beauty, and Better Health. I also won a Muse Medallion, the highest award of the Cat Writers’ Association for my short cozy mystery story, Sneaky’s Christmas Mystery that will be included in Sneaky’s Supernatural Mystery and Other Cobble Cove Stories.

My current cats are:

Harry (3 1/2). He’s a black shorthair who is the alpha cat in our house. He has a huge appetite and is very active. He loves to play and jump after cat teasers and enjoys hiding in cat tunnels. He’s also a lap cat that loves to watch TV on my lap.

Hermione (3 1/2). She’s Harry’s sister, a dilute calico. She’s a sweet and beautiful girl. She was a finalist in America’s Favorite Pet Contest and will appear in a Catster magazine. She loves to sleep in my bed but isn’t a lap cat. She does seek affection by kneading and purring.

Angel Stripey, who left us recently (14) was a mackerel tabby. We miss him.

 

Here are the links to Debbie’s website and social media pages:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2750133.Debbie_De_Louise

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2bIHdaQ

All Author: https://allauthor.com/author/debbiedelouise/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/debbie_writer/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/debbiedelouise/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/debbie-de-louise

Debbie’s Character’s Chat Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/748912598599469

Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog: https://Sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com

Posted in Book Talk, Interviews, My Cat Cozies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

IT WAS THE THIRD OF JUNE… Still Haunting

For the November 10, 1967 issue of Life magazine, Bobbie Gentry strolls across the Tallahatchie Bridge in Money, Mississippi. The bridge collapsed in June 1972.

For the past few years I’ve written a tribute post on this day to one of the most haunting songs of my youth. I was 15 when  Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 Southern Gothic ballad “Ode to Billie Joe” came out on the radio. That was 55 years ago, and I still can’t listen to that song without chills icing down my spine. Apparently I’m not the only one, because every year on this date, people from around the world celebrate this amazing song and singer.

Read more in my previous posts:

June 3, 2021: https://wp.me/p3rtQm-1rV

June 3, 2019: https://wp.me/p3rtQm-18Y

 

 

Posted in Death & Dying, Health, Wellness, Lifestyle | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

DESPITE THE DARKNESS

 

Photo by Akin Cakiner on Unsplash

The first thing I saw when I opened my inbox this morning was the quote from Desmond Tutu*, “Hope is being able to see light despite all of the darkness.” To find this in front of me today was, in itself, a sign of hope, since lately I’ve been finding it hard, if not impossible, to keep my spirits up.

I’ve considered the likelihood I’m depressed. I often feel like giving up, that I am worthless. Both signs of clinical depression.

On the other hand, there is much to be depressed about. Just watch the news, or closer at hand, go outside and look around. In between the blooming roses are the nests of the houseless surrounded with garbage and waste. There is no solution. Pandora’s box is open wide.

Sometimes I wonder if the world didn’t actually come to an end sometime in 2015, and now we’re all living in purgatory. (See the final season of Lost for continuity.)

Or maybe we really are a virus on our planet, a la Matrix.

Maybe I watch too much TV.

Is the downfall of human civilization, symptoms of which I see all around me, an inevitability? According to LiveScience, intelligent creatures, with our technological advancements far outpacing out moral understanding, have a tendency toward self-annihilation.

From a Universal perspective, humanity is a drop in a very big bucket. Yet we are unique, every last one of us. That creates both diversity and problems. Right now we are fighting a war with each other, and I’m not talking about the one overseas. How we relate to those who believe differently than us is a constant conundrum.

Fight or flight.

I’ve fought in the past, but now I don’t see the point. But flight isn’t working for me either. I set myself safely apart, but instead of letting go, being free, having faith in a bigger picture that encompasses a better world and the enlightenment of humanity, I find myself worrying in the dark. As a distraction, I watch TV and play games on my phone. In other words, I give up.

I haven’t given up entirely though. I still write every day. I take care of cats. And I’m still able to see the wisdom and the light in a quote from a great theologian.

Maybe there is a spark of hope left in me after all.

Photo by Louise Knight-Gibson on Unsplash

*See the original post (with lovely black cat illustration) on the Conscious Cats blogsite: Sunday Quotes: Hope in the Darkness

Posted in anxiety disorder, Health, Wellness, Lifestyle, mental illness, Save the World | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? LAURA CASSIDAY

Laura Cassiday, CCBC, ABCCT, FFCP, is a successful cat behaviorist and author from the Baltimore area. Her ultimate goal, according to her website, is to “help cat parents understand their cats better and improve their relationship through positive reinforcement training.”

Tell us a bit about your writing, Laura.

I do cat behavior consulting as my full time job, with writing projects on the side! I write regularly for Hartz and contribute to their website’s Learning Library with topics about cats. I also published my first book in 2021, The Complete Guide to Adopting a Cat. I originally went to school for writing and graduated with a Master’s in Professional Writing in 2017, but life seemed to steer me in the direction of animal behavior after. So I still like to put my degree to good use in my free time!

How do cats inspire your creativity?

Cats are basically my whole life. I have 8 of my own at home, and then I work with them for my job, so I’m always around them. If art imitates life, then it makes sense that I would write about cats.

What do you enjoy about of belonging to CWA?

I love that there is a community of cat nerds out there making a living or a hobby out of writing about cats and telling each other about it. If you had told me that CWA would be a thing back when I was in elementary school, I would have tried to join back then, too.

Please answer any 3 (or more if you’re inspired) of the following questions. You may be as brief, wordy, serious, humorous, or creative as you wish.

  1. What is your favorite cat movie and why?

Does The Lion King count as a cat movie? If not, then Aristocats. I’m a huge Disney fan. The old woman in Aristocats is my role model – rich and single, alone with her cats.

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

I BEGGED for a cat from the time I could talk. Around the time I was 4 or 5, my parents got me a cat named Bo. I would push him around in my baby stroller and try to teach him tricks like jumping from chair to chair. He was so tolerant. He died when I was about 20.

  1. What is your earliest memory of being around cats?

My parents telling me at dinner that we were going to pick up our new cat, Bo. We were at Red Lobster.

  1. What crosses your mind when someone tells you they don’t like cats?

They probably don’t understand them. So many times, cats are misinterpreted as aloof, independent, or spiteful when they may just be stressed, bored, or frustrated. If we can teach people to better understand cat behavior, they probably would like them a lot more!

  1. What does your cat think of you? (If you live with more than one cat, you can answer for one or all)

I’ll answer for one of my cats, Sunny. He is almost 18 years old and is in my lap or touching me pretty much 100% of the time I am home. I brought him home from the shelter when he was 15 and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I have no doubt that he loves me with all of his heart. He’ll even meow at me if he wants to cuddle and I’m busy.

  1. Tell us a true cat story.

I once rescued a 26-year-old cat from a shelter, named Thomas. He had been in the shelter for over a month by the time I found out about him. We made the local and national news and he gained quite a fanbase. He was the best cat ever. We had a 27th birthday party with cake for cats and humans and cookies in the shape of his face. He lived to be about 27.5 years old.

What cat-themed item is sitting on your desk right now?

I have a desk lamp with cats on it!

  1. What famous cat or cat person have you met?

I have met Jackson Galaxy and Hannah Shaw the Kitten Lady!

  1. What’s the craziest thing your cat’s ever done?

The funniest thing that comes to mind is when we were sitting on the couch downstairs watching TV and we heard Dragon start to meow from upstairs, but it was a little muffled. We watched as he came downstairs, meowing the whole time, carrying a tube of toothpaste in his mouth. He put it down at my husband’s feet and walked away. I guess he was trying to tell him that his breath stank.

  1. How would you identify your cat in a lineup?

I wouldn’t bother. I’d just take them all home.

Please give us the names and short descriptions of your cats.

Sunny – 17 yo buff tabby male, adopted at age 15, super snuggly and my BFF, loves to wrestle and play with foster kittens. No teeth!

Juniper – 6 yo Nebelung F, rescued after being found hit by a car, is now a tripod. She’s the type of cat that makes people hate cats.

Dragon – 5 yo gray and white male, found abandoned in a feral cat colony at about 5 months old, ran right up to the feeder and told her he didn’t belong there! My first ever foster fail. He has his novice trick cat title and can play piano, jump through a hoop, and give high fives

Ripley – 1 yo gray Bambino (cross between a sphynx and a munchkin). My one fancy cat. He looks like a little goblin and is constantly dirty. Very few brain cells but we love him anyway

Now we’re getting into the Brown Tabby Crew (none are related, I just somehow happened to get all 4 of them around the same time):

Bean – 1 year old brown tabby female, tripod, missing half a tail and what’s left of it is broken into a “C” shape. She was the cutest kitten ever of all time. Now that she’s grown up, her body is weirdly proportioned and she has a huge butt and a tiny head. She bamboozled us. I still keep looking at her kitten pictures and wondering what happened.

Kiki – 1 yo brown tabby female, has hydrocephalus (Water on the Brain), weighs 4 pounds and still looks like a kitten. She wasn’t expected to live past 1 year old but is still kicking and doing great. We treasure every day with her.

Puff – 1 yo brown tabby male, found outside with eyes infected beyond repair. Trapper had him neutered and eartipped and thought she was going to put some drops in his eyes and release him back out (even though he was a friendly 8 week old kitten at the time). I stepped in, we had his eyes removed, and now he’s the baddest little kitten I’ve ever had. He gets into soooo much trouble

Lennox – 1 yo brown tabby male, named because he was found trapped behind a Lennox brand air conditioning unit. I got him at about 3 months old and he was still pretty feral. Ended up keeping him because he failed multiple meet and greets miserably and had basically no chance of being adopted. He surprised everyone and decided to turn friendly once I officially adopted him and now will come up to me for pets and even sit in my lap. He just really wanted to stay with me.

About Laura Cassiday, CCBC, ABCCT, FFCP

Laura got her start working as the Cat Behavior Coordinator at the Maryland SPCA in Baltimore from 2018 to 2021. In 2020, she served as Team Leader for the Jackson Galaxy Project Cat Pawsitive Pro program and completed the Litter Box Issues Master Class with Dusty Rainbolt, ACCBC. She is cat first aid and CPR certified through Pet First Aid 4U and is a recent 2021 graduate of the IAABC Cat Behavior Consulting mentorship with Katenna Jones of Jones Animal Behavior. In 2021, Laura achieved the prestigious title of Certified Cat Behavior Consultant and is currently one of only three total in the state of Maryland.

Laura’s mission as an active member of the animal welfare community in Baltimore is to improve the lives of cats and their people with the ultimate goal of keeping cats in their homes and out of shelters. Working in a shelter, she has seen the results of the lack of support that exists in the community for cat owners. Litter box issues, aggression, and destruction are common reasons that cats are relinquished. Many of these problems are easily fixable with a little bit of hard work and willingness to make changes. Pawsitive Vibes Cat Behavior and Training LLC was founded in 2021 as a resource to cat owners who have reached their limit and don’t know where else to turn.

Find more about Laura on her website and on Facebook:

www.pawsitivevibescats.com

www.facebook.com/pawsitivevibescats

Posted in Book Talk, Cat Behavior, Cats, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? SALEEMA LOOKMAN, RVT

Today on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? my guest is Saleema Lookman, RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician). Saleema is also a writer, which is what brought her to the Cat Writers’ Association.

Saleema, can you tell us a bit about your writing career?

Most of my writing is pet health or veterinary-related. I began writing and publishing case reports in 2016 as a means to share information with others in the veterinary field. Not only was the sharing fulfilling, but I found that I was quite fond of the writing aspect as well. This delight quickly blossomed into a career creating educational articles for pet parents.

I currently work as a pet content writer for Lovetoknow.com where I write on a vast range of topics and species— anything from “101 Unique Pet Names” to “Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?” or health topics like “Tips to Spot and Treat Tapeworms.” Of course, I’m particularly passionate about our cat-related content! I also craft veterinary professional-focused pieces for journals such as Today’s Veterinary Nurse. In my free time, I enjoy writing poetry and flash fiction.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

Cats are such unique creatures who present themselves with an infectious air of confidence. This quality inspires me both creatively and in my everyday life! I aim to live my life by cat rules: be curious, rest when I need to, recharge in the sun, view an entire situation from above, and if I fail, try to land on my feet.

Now for three extremely arbitrary questions, or I guess in your case, four!

  1. What is your favorite cat movie and why?

It’s challenging to pick just one, but The Three Lives of Thomasina is probably my favorite cat film as well as the first I ever saw. It was also my introduction to the notion that cats have multiple lives. I’ve always loved the scenes of an afterlife filled with cats!

2. What cat-themed item is sitting on your desk right now?

There are several cat-themed items on and around my desk! I have a cat shaped post-Its holder, Pusheen pencil case, Spirit Cat calendar, cat oracle card deck, a photoshopped image of my Lily as a pirate cat, and a photo of myself as a child cuddling a cat.

3. Do your cats get along with each other?

My cats are finally warming up to each other. Stewie lost his littermate (and my soul mate cat), Lily, three years ago to small cell lymphoma. Clover is the newest addition and because she was a kitten when I adopted her, she’s always been too boisterous for Stew, though I think he was also reluctant to play while he mourned Lily’s passing. However, his indifference appears to have grown into affection (or at the very least, tolerance), because I find them snoozing next to each other or batting toys around together every now and then.

4. Have you ever seen a ghost cat?

I often catch glimpses of cats (my own, neighbors, or those of family members) who have passed on. It might be a flash of a fluffy tail as I move the shower curtain away from the tub or the silhouette of a figure leaping onto the counter. I welcome these visits from special spirit cats!

A bit about my cats:

I have two cats currently:

Stewie is a Bengal I rescued 12 years ago. His litter, along with dozens of other cats, were rescued from a hoarding situation and brought to the veterinary hospital where I worked. I met him when he was only 4 weeks old and immediately fell in love. He and his littermate, Lily, who lost her battle with lymphoma in 2019, came home with me a few weeks later. Stew’s favorite pastimes include drinking water directly out of the tap (cat fountains won’t do, it must be the tap!) and chasing rainbows created by the crystals hanging in the window. He’s also my writing companion and always sits on my lap or desk while I work.

Clover is a docile tuxedo and my lucky charm! I adopted her as a kitten just after St. Paddy’s Day in 2019. She’s arguably the most easy going cat I’ve ever owned, though she does give love bites when my petting isn’t to her liking. Clover lives for wet food and makes the most adorable, high-pitched squeaks every morning as she leads me to the kitchen.

Saleema Lookman, RVT Bio:

Saleema is a writer, speaker, and Registered Veterinary Technician with over 10 years of clinical experience. She aims to empower pet owners through written content and brings both her professional knowledge and personal experience to her writing. Her work has been published in distinguished journals such as Today’s Veterinary Nurse and The NAVTA Journal. As a new member of the Cat Writers’ Association, Saleema is thrilled to be in the company of like-minded individuals who share her passion for cats.

Find out more about Saleema on her Social Links: 

LoveToKnow writer profile (with links to latest articles): Saleema Lookman, RVT | LovetoKnow

Instagram: @SaleemaWritesPets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Talk, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Not All Mothers Have Human Babies

Happy Mother’s Day, no matter who your babies are.

Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for a lot of people: those of us who have lost a mother, those who have lost a child, those who have not been able to have children, and those who chose not to populate an already-overpopulated world.

This is my favorite video and brings me joy each year. 

Thank you again this year, Furball Fables

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Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? DIANE A.S. STUCKART

Today on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? our guest is Diane A.S. Stuckart, a New York Times bestselling author who has written fiction in multiple genres including historical romance, mystery, fantasy, and short stories.

Diane, tell us a bit about your writing career.

I am primarily a novelist, mostly of historical and cozy mystery, though I did start out writing historical romance. Additionally, I’ve published several short stories in various magazines and anthologies. In fact, this year’s goal (among may other writing goals!) is to finally finish and publish as Kindle Shorts my trilogy of fantasy cat short stories under the umbrella of The Thomas Moonraker Chronicles.

I have two cozy series featuring cats: The Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries (written as Ali Brandon) and the Tarot Cat Mysteries. My most recent series is the Georgia B&B Mysteries (written as Anna Gerard) set in a fictional tourist town west of Savannah. There are no cats (as yet) in that series, though a feisty Australian shepherd plays a prominent role.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

My own two sibling black cats, Brandon Bobtail and Ophelia, are the inspirations for the two felines in the Tarot Cats mysteries. They also hang out on my desk when I write, giving off “creative” vibes. Until a couple of years ago, I also had my ginger tabby boys, brothers Butch and Sundance, who were with us for almost 18 years and “helped” me with my writing.

Brandon and Ophelia

 

Now for three extremely arbitrary questions, or I guess in your case, four!

  1. What is your favorite cat movie and why?

I still have soft spot for That Darn Cat just because it was one of the few movies that featured a feline back when I was a kid. Oh, and of course, The Three Lives of Thomasina (though at the age of six, I found it a bit frightening in spots). These days, however, my go-to cat movies feature Puss ‘N Boots from the Shrek series (how can you resist those eyes! Plus, Antonio Banderas, ya know).

2. Did you grow up with cats?

My parents were not pet people by any means, but I did have my fabulous Topsy, a ginger tabby who was with us for many years. After her came Felixie (originally Felix until we figured out that she was a girl). I didn’t have another cat until college when my husband and I got together…he’s a cat (and dog) person, too.

3. Do you sing to cats? If so, what songs do you sing?

My cats are far too dignified to let me sing to them beyond a “here, kitty kitty kitty” aria. I do, however, sing to my dogs. Each one of them has their own theme song, in addition to spur-of-the-moment compositions.

4. Where are you sitting right now? From where you are, how many cat-themed objects can you see? How many cats?

I’m at my office desk, and on the wall is an oversized framed print of three cats: a ginger tabby, a tortie, and a tuxedo kitty. On my desk, my business cards are held by a seated and smiling tuxedo cat, plus I have a cute drawing of a gray tiger kitty I cut out of a box of greeting cards, and a photo of Brandon when he was just a yawning little kitten. Oh, and there’s a cat charm bracelet I wore yesterday that I forgot to put up. Ophelia (or sometimes Brandon) is normally in the basket I keep for them on my desk, but they’re currently out on the back porch having supper.

Author Bio: 

DIANE A.S. STUCKART began her writing career in the 1990s as the critically acclaimed author of historical romance under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. She later switched to the mystery genre and is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series written as Ali Brandon. Additionally, she is the author of the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries, which received starred reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, as well as a Florida Book Award for the second in the series, PORTRAIT OF A LADY. She’s also penned several mystery, fantasy, and romance short stories that have appeared in various anthologies and magazines.

Diane’s latest ventures include the Tarot Cats Mystery series set in a West Palm Beach botanica and stars a pair of clever feline detectives. Her Georgia B&B Mystery series, written as Anna Gerard, features an innkeeper-turned-sleuth in a fictional tourist town west of Savannah. Book 3 in that series, PEACHES AND SCHEMES, is her 17th published novel and was released in 2021.

A member of Mystery Writers of America, Diane served as the 2018 and 2019 Chapter President of the MWA Florida chapter. She’s also a member of Sisters in Crime and the Cat Writers’ Association. Outside her writing life, she’s an avid thrifter with shops on Etsy and eBay and is a member and current secretary of the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association. Diane is a native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma but has been living in the West Palm Beach, FL area since 2006. She shares her “almost in the Everglades” home with her husband, dogs, cats, and a few beehives. Learn more about her books at www.dianestuckart.com and  www.facebook.com/blackcatmysteries

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Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? BONNIE ELIZABETH

Today’s guest on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? is author Bonnie Elizabeth, a prolific fiction writer who, like me, has a few cozy series under her belt. Unlike me, she writes other fiction, short fiction, and is published in several bundles and magazines.

Bonnie, tell us a bit about your writing career.

I write genre fiction and I’m purposely being vague because I have stories that are straight up mysteries, some that are science fiction, and some urban fantasy, and some second-world fantasy.

In novels, I tend to hover around paranormal cozy mysteries, most of which feature cats in some way or another. I have a ghost cat in my Ash Jericho series. I have a feline familiars in my Familiar Café mystery series. Even the newest series I’m starting, while it has ghosts, it doesn’t feature cats, but you better believe my main character has cats at home.

I write full time and I write a lot. I’ve had short stories featured in a number of smaller publications and in Fiction River and Pulphouse.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

I’m not sure if my cats inspire my creativity so much as make it challenging by sitting on the keyboard. My two big boy cats always seem to want to be there, often at the same time. I suppose that inspires me in how to type creatively!

Cheysuli, my chocolate point Siamese, inspired me to blog daily at her blog, discussing her adventures and commentary on life in general, so in that sense, my cats are the reason I write daily and that I can turn out as many words as I do.

Now for three extremely arbitrary questions. 

  1. Do your cats get along with each other?

Short answer, no, they don’t. Longer answer is that Gemini is my eldest cat, a brown tabby who found me as a tiny lost kitten the day after I had lost the second of two beloved cats who died within a week of each other. She tolerated the calico I had then and tolerated Cheysuli when I got her, but she didn’t love them.

When my calico died and I found Ichiro at a shelter, Gemini mostly ignored him. Cheysuli wasn’t thrilled with Ichiro’s attentions and after she got over her pique that I would adopt another cat, she began to like him a little bit. When Chey died, Ichiro and Gemini went at it almost every single night.

We knew that Ichiro was quite a lovebug and needed another cat to interact with but I wasn’t ready to find another cat. Still, my husband took me to the shelter and he picked out a five month old tuxedo cat.

Ham joined the family and was segregated into our sunroom. He was a door-dasher as a kitten and the third morning he rushed out of the sunroom into the living area where Ichiro was. Ham ran up to Ichiro and gave him the kitten version of the alien face hug and dashed off. Ichiro’s tail went up, ears went forward, and he trotted off after Ham. The next day of door dashing, and Ham was curled up with Ichiro getting a bath.

Gemini, however, loathes Ham. It’s gotten so bad that she lives in the main bedroom suite and the boys live in the rest of the house. They do interact some, but Ham usually gets yelled at for bothering her. Now and then—maybe once every three months, Ichiro goes after Gemini and that fight is much, much worse than her irritation with Ham.

It’s clear to me that Gemini is the problem child but she’s nearly 17, so she’s not going anywhere.

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

In 1964, on Valentine’s Day, shortly before my first birthday, our next door neighbor’s cat gave birth. She talked my folks into what a great gift a kitten would be for me on my birthday and so two months later, I had my first cat. She was a black medium hair with a white patch under her chin. She lived twenty years, moving with us throughout the United States.

I, of course, would have loved another cat, but my mom wasn’t really a cat person, though she liked ours well enough.

  1. Does cat love run in your family?

It definitely runs on my dad’s side of the family. My dad grew up on a small hundred acre dairy farm in Racine County Wisconsin. There are family stories of how as a teen he got his ma to accept a big old orange tom to be allowed in the house. They called the cat Pert and I guess he didn’t particularly like anyone except maybe my dad and my grandmother.

My dad was the reason I grew up with a cat. He’d have had another cat or more than one cat in a hot minute. He’d always had cats around the barn and while they were definitely barn cats, they always got treats of extra milk and sometimes extra scraps of food. Remember this was probably in the 1940s and 1950s.

My cousin on my dad’s side has adopted three Maine Coon cats, driving for over a day to pick them up. She’s passed on the love of cats or at least tolerating women who love cats to at least one of her sons, whose wife has her own beautiful Maine Coon.

Author Bio

Bonnie Elizabeth began making up stories and telling them to her black cat, Jet, when she was just a child. Jet, in turn taught that her highest calling was serving cats.

Bonnie has written columns for a cat focused animal shelter newsletter, has blogged as her cat Cheysuli, and written novels and short stories in a variety of genres, many of which feature felines that are far from ordinary.

In addition to writing about cats, Bonnie has volunteered at animal shelters and worked as a veterinary receptionist for over a decade.

Currently, she shares her home with three cats and her husband. She’s a member of the Cat Writer’s Association and is at work on the next book in the Familiar Café series.

About her cats:

Currently Bonnie lives with:

Gemini, a found longhair brown tabby who desperately wanted to be an only cat and got stuck with an owner who is anything but a one cat person. She’s a senior now at 17 (which seems impossible) but she’s still spry and does her best to put the boys in their place.

Ichiro a large Siamese mix with big blue eyes. He’s a big love bug and really needed another cat to love on when we lost our Siamese female, Cheysuli.

Ham, the cat my husband picked out (and he will never do the picking again), a tuxedo cat with attitude to spare. Ichiro adores him.

Find out more about Bonnie on her Social Media, Websites, and Sales sites:

http://www.bonnieelizabeth.com

http://www.mybigfatorangecat.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBonnieElizabeth

https://www.instagram.com/authorbonnieelizabeth/

https://books2read.com/ap/nzgXJ8/Bonnie-Elizabeth

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FIRST CHAPTERS: Cat Call

Cat Call was one of my favorite books to write. I got to utilize my own experience as an extra for various television shows being filmed in Portland. Grimm, Leverage, Librarians, and Portlandia are a few of my repertoire. Since COVID, the film industry has moved out of Portland, and I have gotten old, so it’s unlikely I’ll be doing much more of it, but it was fun while it lasted.

In Cat Call, Lynley takes the role of cat handler for a TV show that included cats. This is another job I have actually preformed in real life for the cult classic, Zombie Cats From Mars, though I was merely an assistant.

For cat-lovers who like clean mysteries with a little bite to them. Cat tips, tricks, and facts at the beginning of each chapter.

Cat Call, the 4th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery

When cat-handler Rhonda Kane is injured on the set of a TV mystery pilot, Lynley Cannon steps in to help. The sixty-something cat shelter volunteer is good with Rhonda’s identical red tabbies, but the production proves to be another story. Rumors fly of a mysterious “hex” causing mayhem and misfortune on set.

Hex, or a hoax?

A suspicious death is followed by murder, and Lynley enlists famed actor Ray Anderson and her own granddaughter Seleia to help expose a truth that could topple a career and destroy the show itself.

Praise for Cat Call:

5.0 out of 5 stars. Gets better and better! Reviewed in the United Kingdom.

OK, I admit I’m a cosy mystery fan! But, as we all know, there are cosy and there are cosy. This series is up there with the best…

One of the reasons this series works so very well is the authors own experiences with cats and cat rescues and adopting cats.

Lynley finds herself dropped into the deep end of the movie making business when she has to stand in for a cat wrangler on a movie set. Things start to get spooky, and dangerous and she ends up knee deep in trouble as things come tumbling down around her. OK I won’t give any more spoilers, but I have to say, this kept me going till the end.

— C. Watson

Chapter 1

The message contained only three intelligible words: Call… Cat… Help! Interspersed was a garbled squawking that I recognized as the voice of my friend, Rhonda Kane. She sounded drunk, terrified, or both, blithering away like the Simpson’s crazy cat lady, which was ironic because usually I’m the lady considered crazy for cats. I have eight cats; Rhonda has only two, though hers happen to be movie stars.

My name is Lynley Cannon, and I’ll be the first to admit, eight is a lot of cats, but they are all well cared for and healthy. I have to take out a second mortgage on my Old Portland home when it’s time for their dentals, but that’s part of the deal. I love them dearly and they love me, each in his or her own catly way.

It began innocently enough with Dirty Harry. After life as a street stray, Harry was territorial, and I just assumed he wouldn’t tolerate a second cat encroaching on his space. As a shelter volunteer, I’d often heard statements like Missy won’t stand for another cat in the house, or Tom doesn’t get along with other kitties, or I’d love to have a kitten but Spot would throw a hissy-fit—‌he needs to be the only one, you know. I believed it for the longest time; then I got my little sweetheart, Little.

Granted, it took a while for Harry to get off his high horse and accept he could still be king, but I’ll never forget the first moment I saw them playing together. There was such joy in their antics. It took time but they became friends and now that Harry has hit his senior years, Little warms and grooms him like a sister. I don’t know what he would do without her.

The adoption of Little opened the gate to multiple cats. Next came Big Red, the orange tabby male who moved in on my side porch, then Solo, ghost-white, deaf, and totally reclusive, from a needy friend. Violet arrived sometime later, all twenty-two pounds of her, and then sweet Tinkerbelle. I rescued Mab, the Siamese kitten, from a disreputable breeder, and picked up Emilio when I was on an art retreat at the famousand infamousCloverleaf Animal Sanctuary. So far, all good.

As a retiree in my sixtieth year, I have time for the cats. I have time for anything I please and manage to fill the hours with love and good works, volunteering, family, and friends. I was born for retirement and thank God every day I didn’t wait until I was sixty five—‌or seventy!—‌to take it.

But back to the voicemail message. I hadn’t seen Rhonda Kane for quite some time. We’d met at a feline behavior lecture series, and though she was nearly a decade younger than me, we immediately bonded. Ours was one of those friendships that just picks up where it left off, whether it’s been a week or a year. This time it was closer to the year.

Rhonda had continued the behavior training and become one of Portland’s only working cat handlers. With the Northwest’s budding film and television industry, it was turning out to be a rewarding if not lucrative pursuit. Her highly trained pair of actor-cats had starred in a few commercials, held a small but reoccurring role in the IFC production, Portlandia, and had even hit the big time once in an episode of Grimm. Since Clark Gable and Cary Grant were identical neutered males, they often played one part interchangeably.

Cat handling was meticulous work and Rhonda was the best, which was why the crazy communication was such a surprise and, yes, a shock. I recognize the sound of panic when I hear it. Something was very wrong with Rhonda Kane.

I’d just finished a shift at Friends of Felines cat shelter where I spent a big chunk of my time playing with cats and helping to keep them happy during their scary interim between homes. Without thought, I sank down on the bench in the volunteer locker room and hit redial. I held my breath as I waited for her to answer. One ring, three, seven. Just when I was sure it was going to cut off and give me the generic computer-generated click-Rhonda-click is not available at this time, she picked up.

“Lynley!” she gasped. “Thank goodness you called back.”

“Rhonda, what’s the matter? What’s happened?”

“Oh, Lynley!” She was crying now. “It’s so awful! You’ve got to help. You’ve got to… I don’t know. Come, quick as you can…” The voice wavered and threatened to devolve into crazy-cat-lady-speak again.

“Rhonda, hold on,” I commanded. “Just take your time and tell me what’s going on. Of course I’ll help, but first I have to know what’s up. Are you hurt? Are you in some kind of trouble?”

“Worse!” she hissed in a harsh whisper. “It’s Cary Grant!” Through the phone I heard her gulp. “He’s gone!”

* * *

I’d had a tough couple of years, been kidnaped and threatened with death, had acquaintances who were murdered, so my first thought when Rhonda finally revealed her terrible plight was, Big deal! That lasted only a millisecond, however, as my empathy clicked in and I grasped how crazed I would be if one of my clowder went missing. Still, cats do get lost; cats hide or get out and run away. I couldn’t believe Rhonda would take any chances with her valuable pair and assumed they were collared and microchipped. I also knew she had them trained to answer to their names. Chances were good that a concentrated search would turn up Cary Grant in a nearby cubby, golden eyes blinking innocently as if to say, What’s your problem? I know exactly where I am.

“Rhonda, tell me how it happened. From the beginning.”

On the other end of the line I heard her blow her nose. She sounded slightly more collected when next she spoke.

“Okay, Lynley. I really don’t know. We’re on a shoot in Oaks Bottom. Clark Gable and Cary Grant were in the trailer, waiting for their call. I only stepped out for a minute. When I came back, the trailer door was ajar and Cary Grant was gone. We’ve looked everywhere. The entire lot, but no sign of him. What if he’s lost in the wetlands or made it out onto the streets? What if I never see him again?”

“Hold on. You need to be strong. Cary Grant needs you to be strong.”

A big sigh. “You’re right, of course. Everybody’s searching, but it’s been over an hour. It will be dark soon, and the rain is relentless. Oh, Lynley, what should I do?”

“It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. I know it’s hard but have faith. How is Clark Gable?”

“He’s fine but anxious. He’s here on my lap being sweet, but he knows something’s wrong.”

“Okay,” I charged, sensing she needed a plan. “Hang on. Take care of Clark. Tell me where you are and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

She gave me her location and a set of instructions how to find her in the park; I grabbed a raincoat and hat, my bag, and a bottle of drinking water. I considered what else I might need on a cat hunt and decided to throw in a can of Trader Joe’s Tuna-For-Cats, a particularly stinky concoction of fish that cats seem to love. With a quick goodbye to my own little crew, I set out for the Sellwood district.

It was nearly six-thirty; the April night would be on us soon. Rush-hour traffic should have been thinning out but wasn’t, and as I cursed and inched my way across town, I had time to think about what I was getting myself into. I certainly didn’t resent my friend calling me out of my nice warm home for a lost kitty. I knew what she must be going through, the fear and anxiety when one of our furred family is beyond our safety net. But it wasn’t the end of the world. I had no doubt Cary Grant would be found, half-expected my cell phone to ring at any moment with Rhonda saying thanks but never mind—‌he’s home safe. There would be a happy ending, there had to be. Then we would celebrate, maybe go to dinner, talk over old times and catch up on what’s new. Or maybe we’d order takeout to her trailer, a sumptuously furnished and catified vintage Airstream that she and her celebrity pair used for their gigs.

I had it all figured out, right down to what kind of pita sandwich I would order, when I arrived at the park. Little did I know that the missing cat was a mere forewarning of tragedies to come.

 

You can find Cat Call on Amazon or Books2Read.

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