GHOST CAT – EXCERPT AND A PRE-ORDER DATE!

What is the most exciting part about launching a new book? The Cover Reveal and its colorful conclusion? The buzz of anticipation among my fanbase? The contest? (Coming soon) The reviews? The sales?

Those are all lovely and exhilarating, but for me, my favorite part is receiving the books themselves. The big order from Amazon; the arrival; the unboxing; that first glance at the pile of shiny new covers which, by now, have become so familiar to me. Taking the book in my hand, feeling the weight of it. Opening to the title page and envisioning in-person book events where I’ll be signing my name right there. Looking through the chapters, enjoying the text font and cat images my savvy editor picked out for me. It’s that finally done, complete, and ready to go out into the world moment that I love best.

That, and readings.

I can’t do a reading for you just yet, unless you happen to be a cat at the shelter where I volunteer, but I can give an excerpt. Here, for your enjoyment, is Chapter One of Ghost Cat on the Midway.

Chapter 1 – The Cove County Fair

Camelia Collins stood on the little patio, breathing in the smell of fried onions, cotton candy, and horse. Though the fair didn’t officially open until the next day, the grounds were already buzzing with activity. Carnival workers were setting up the side stalls, concessions, games, and big rides. Volunteers from the community were arranging the exhibit halls. Judges were mulling over last-minute entries in the various categories: art, photography, crafts, floral design, and foods. Youngsters from the 4-H led goats, lambs, ponies, and pigs from their stalls to the judging arena, hopeful for the big win.

Camelia hadn’t been to a county fair for ages. Her mother had taken her when she was a child, but as the city of Portland grew and the farms and ranches dwindled, so did the fairs nearby. Last time she’d attended, it wasn’t much more than a venue for concessions and sales—hot tubs, aluminum siding, vegetable slicers, cell phone plans. Camelia had not been tempted to go again.

How different this was! The Cove County Fair, set by the sea on the outskirts little Ocean Cove, Oregon, felt just like the ones back in the day, the ones where chickens and livestock, amateur paintings, cakes, pies, and canned pickles were the stars.

Tomorrow the place would be amok with bustling crowds, shouts, screams, and laughter; calliope music from the midway clashing against the zippy tunes from the stage show; and over it all, the droning loudspeaker announcing the day’s events. Even at Camelia’s age, she couldn’t help feeling a shiver of anticipation.

Once again, Camelia thanked the Powers That Be she had left the big city and made Ocean Cove her home. Camelia wasn’t the first person to pick up stakes and move to the coast, nor would she be the last, but she was among a unique demographic—those over seventy years of age. She may have been older than some, but she figured she still had plenty of good years ahead to enjoy her newfound lifestyle.

Volunteering to help out at the Kitty City Cat Rescue booth fit right in with Camelia’s plans. Kitty City, Ocean Cove’s answer to a humane society for cats, offered both shelter for strays and adoption opportunities to the local public. The little rescue ran with no paid staff, if you didn’t count the tax accountant. It was a labor of love, and the booth at the county fair where they sold homemade pie by the whole or slice, as well as an array of home-crafted cat toys, was their year’s biggest fundraiser.

Camelia loved cats. She’d felt an affinity with the feline species for as far back as she could remember. She’d cared for many over the years, but now there was only the one, her dear tuxedo boy Blaze.

That’s not quite true, Camelia reminded herself, a chill icing down her back. There was another cat who traveled within her sphere. She couldn’t say lived, because the black cat with the emerald green eyes was no longer alive and hadn’t been for over a century. Soji was a ghost.

One of the first things Camelia had noticed when she moved to her new home was a huge river stone in the back yard engraved with the words, “Now Gone to her Tenth Life, Beloved Soji.” She was surprised but not shocked. A fitting tribute to a family cat, she’d assumed at the time. It was when Beloved Soji suddenly appeared in Camelia’s living room that she realized her property came with something more than she had bargained for.

At first Camelia was understandably frightened, but Soji had quickly convinced her with love blinks and paranormal purrs that, although not of this world, she was benign. Camelia, who had seen her share of unexplainable phenomena throughout her lifetime, enthusiastically accepted Soji’s appearances and even took a bit of private pride in the fact her house was haunted by the fabled Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove.

But Camelia hadn’t seen Soji for quite some time, not since a thief had violated the gravestone and a cold-case murderer had been apprehended nearby. All the way through the investigation, Soji was paws-on, but once the killer was caught, her visits abruptly ceased. Had Soji fulfilled her mission and gone to her final resting place on over the Rainbow Bridge? Though Camelia hoped Soji was at peace, she missed the odd little cat from beyond the veil.

“Camelia!” someone called from across the patio, bringing the woman out of her reverie.

She turned to see a scrawny woman in a Hawaiian print house dress rolling up in a red mobility scooter—Camelia’s friend and next door neighbor, Vera Whitcomb.

Vera came to an abrupt stop, grinning like a cat. “I’m going to have to get me one of these things!” She patted the scooter’s red enamel frame and gave Camelia a wink. “Way better than that old walker. This is the most fun I’ve had in ages.”

Camelia smiled, noting the twinkle in Vera’s dark eyes. The crinkly gray hair was disordered but in a carefree way that made the old lady seem more devil-may-care than disheveled. “It looks good on you,” Camelia admitted. “Maybe I should rent one too. I had no idea a little country fair could be big!”

“Ha-ha! Wouldn’t that be a hoot?” Vera giggled. “I can see us drag racing down the midway.”

Camelia laughed. Yes, she could picture it too.

“I’m going to take a run over to the horse barns.” Vera shot a look toward a row of low wooden buildings at the edge of the fairgrounds. “See if I can find Yui Smith. She’s got a pony in the competition, you know.”

“Oh?” Camelia knew her teenage neighbor was all about animals, especially the equine kind, so it came as no surprise she’d entered her horse in the contest. Spitfire? Lightning? She couldn’t remember its name. “When is she showing?”

“They haven’t told her yet. I’ll let you know. You going to be here all day?” She nodded at the colorful cat rescue booth where a girl in a blue apron was pinning pictures of available kitties to the back drape. Another sifted through plastic totes, pulling out baskets of hand-sewn cat toys. It was hard to believe that mess of bags and boxes would be transformed into an attractive and efficient shopping place anytime soon.

“For a while. Then I need to go home and bake some pies for the sale tomorrow. That’s the big draw, so they tell me.”

“Yum! Put me down for half an apricot.”

“I sure will.”

Vera made a sweeping circle and gunned away in the direction of the barns. “See ya!” she waved behind her.

Camelia smiled as she watched the woman zip down the lane, the skirts of her house dress flapping in the wind. What a character, Camelia thought to herself, not for the first time.

Ocean Cove was full of characters. From the very first day Camelia arrived at Love Cottage, her new home, she began meeting them. The rich folks on the hill, husband from old money and wife from across the tracks; the young techie who’d recently taken over her mother’s antique shop as a second job; the couple who ran the general store in the center of town but lived on one of the bleakest bluffs Camelia had ever visited. Then there was Ellery, the artist. Of a similar age to Camelia, the two had hit it off at first sight.

Everybody knew everybody in the small, close-knit community, and for the most part, that was a good thing. Occasionally, however, that camaraderie became cloying, when someone ventured a bit too close into someone else’s business. Camelia frowned, remembering a recent run-in with one of the staff at the library who liked to point out people’s shortcomings, publicly and not at all in a librarian’s softened tone. Then there was that new boy Tycho Bane who worked at Al’s Garage. Pale skin, tattoos, and a sullen manner, she seemed to see him everywhere she went. And she couldn’t forget the people staying in the rental across the street from her—the landlord was usually so careful about choosing his guests, yet this newest group gave her the willies.

“Well, I really should be getting home,” Camelia said to no one in particular. “Those pies aren’t going to bake themselves.”

But still she lingered. There was something about the prelude to a big event that fascinated her. As with rehearsals for a play, she found the behind-the-scenes activity to be as interesting than the show itself.

I’ll just take a little look around before I go, Camelia determined. Without overthinking it, she began to meander.

Camelia headed in no particular direction, following the whim of the paths that wove around the booths and little wooden structures. She strolled through a long building open at both ends where a pair of women were hanging big paintings of varying quality, then breezed by the barn that held poultry and rabbits.

“Phew!” she muttered as she passed.

“Wait ’til the end of the show,” chuckled the middle-aged man in khaki coveralls who was mucking out the cages.

“Miles,” Camelia said, realizing she knew the man. “I didn’t know you were the… what should I call it?” Camelia considered. “Chicken concierge?”

Miles pulled off a long brown glove and shut the gate on a very fat, very fluffy Rhode Island Red. Leaning his arms across the top of the cage, he smiled. “That’s me, Ms. Collins. Miles-of-all-trades.”

Camelia could believe that. When she first moved into Love Cottage, she’d needed a gardener who could tame her wilderness of a yard. She picked Miles’s card off the bulletin board at the grocery store, arranged an interview, and hired the lanky man with wayward black hair on the spot. He’d struck her as honest and trustworthy, though he could do with a bit of more attention in the appearance department. His clothes were clean but old and always wrinkled. His face sported the stubble of a few days without a shave, though it never progressed to a true beard. Still, many men who relied on physical labor for an income shared the same traits. A pair of dark, brooding eyes were overpowered by a quick, bright smile and easy manner. Camelia had liked him from the start.

Camelia left the handyman to his labors and continued through the grounds, enjoying the air of pre-show excitement—¬around a grassy spot hung with fuchsia baskets and ringed by box bushes that smelled faintly of cat pee, past the ornate edifice that fronted the floral building, and finally toward the midway. Ahead were the spires of the brightly colored tents and the golden peak of the merry-go-round. Above them, like a sideways crown, loomed the ring of the Ferris wheel.

“Oof,” Camelia exclaimed as her foot smashed into something hard and unforgiving. Peering down, she saw the culprit, a small set of metal steps jutting from a caravan right out into the pathway. Bending to rub her bruised toe, she felt a burst of annoyance at the obstacle, so rudely placed in the lane, but as she straightened again, she realized the blame was on her.

Somehow she had strayed between a row of trailers and the backsides of the display booths that ringed the causeway. This was a personal area, reserved for the folks who would be tending their wares. Coolers, camp stoves, and even a string of laundry flapping from a line marked it as private property.

Her gaze turned back to the caravan, elaborately painted in gold, purple, and black. Curlicues framed a large image of a tiger. Unlike the rampant, seething beasts usually depicted for circuses and fairs, this tiger was sitting quietly—regal, wise, and watchful. Camelia was instantly drawn to the kind and solemn expression in the cat’s amber eyes.

“Lovely,” she exclaimed out loud.

Camelia’s habit of talking to herself was so ingrained in her persona, she didn’t even notice until she heard a sound from behind her. The sound came again, a sort of snuffle and grunt. She turned to see what might be making such a noise, and froze.

There she was, just as her portrait had depicted her. Tall, statuesque, regal, gorgeous, and absolutely terrifying—the tiger!

Camelia stared at the commodious cage with its dangerous inhabitant. Her blood ran cold. She couldn’t get her voice to call for help. Her breath came in gasps, then it didn’t come at all.

The cat peered at Camelia, round pupils dilating. She took a step toward the fearful woman on paws the size of cantaloupes. Camelia knew what those soft-looking paws concealed—giant, razor-sharp talons that could rip open prey with a single swipe.

The tiger chuffed again, then gave a wide yawn, showing teeth as lethal as the claws. Camelia might have been enthralled by the beautiful beast if not for one thing—only a bare few feet lay between herself and the deadly predator, and the cage door stood open.

Preorder Ghost Cat on the Midway today and have it in your inbox on August 29th! (Kindle only)

Posted in My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? RACHEL LOEHNER

My guest today on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? is award-winning blogger Rachel Loehner. Here’s a bit about Rachel:

I’m proud to have won Best Cause Blog in 2017 from BlogPaws. I’ve also won Certificate of Excellence awards from the Cat Writers’ Association for blogging, social media and photography. Three Chatty Cats is also a two-time winner of the CWA Muse Medallion for Best Humor/Entertainment blog.

I’m currently serving as a board council member for the Cat Writers’ Association.

 Tell us  more about your blogging.

In December 2015, I was browsing a now-defunct social media app for cat lovers. Everyone was sharing their cat photos but also stories about their cats (including me). Something clicked and I decided to start a blog called Three Chatty Cats. My blog and related social media accounts are the perfect blend of my love for everything cats, writing and photography.

When I started the blog in 2016, many of my posts featured cat rescue groups – and I was known as a “Cause Blog”. Over time, the blog morphed into chats with my cats, which only seemed natural with a blog called Three Chatty Cats (we’ve grown to a household of five cats now).

How do cats inspire your creativity?

My cats all have distinct personalities. Sometimes, I can look at one and know exactly what they’re thinking or about to do. But other times, they can be a mystery. So, why not imagine what they’re saying or thinking? And that’s exactly what I do with our daily chats. Short and simple, it’s my way of sharing both the individual personalities of my cats and their beauty through photos.

Now for a few arbitrary questions:

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

Yes, I grew up with cats and lived with at least one cat in our house my entire childhood and teen years. Oddly, I became allergic to cats later and didn’t think I could have one as an adult. When my husband and I found a stray kitten 12 years ago, we took him home and my allergies seemed to have disappeared.

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

What’s wrong with you?!? Just kidding (kind of). I usually think that they probably haven’t been around cats. Because once you’ve been around cats, how could you not like them? My husband grew up with a family dog and never had cats. But here we are, living the dream with five cats! He loves them just as much as I do.

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

A calendar with vintage cat art, a cat mousepad, a cat ruler and multiple cat notepads.

4. “Adopt, Foster, Volunteer, Donate, Educate” is a common slogan for animal rescue. What do you like to do?

I try to do all of them. While not currently fostering, we did end up adopting two of our foster cats. I’ve also volunteered with rescues at events, and I’ve volunteered with an organization that supports cat shelters nationally (writing and editing for them). I donate as well, and I’ve used my blog to educate.

 

How about the names and brief descriptions of your cats?

Dexter

Dexter was our first cat. We found him as a tiny stray kitten on Father’s Day in 2010. He was outside in 100+ degree weather in a California desert town where we were visiting family. Dexter is a very cautious cat, and he looks like a grump half the time. But he loves his two cat sisters and is very curious, investigating anything new in the house. On the blog, we call him the Timid Dreamer.

Olive

Olive is our tortie who we also found as a stray kitten about one year after finding Dexter. She loves her big brother, but she’d be perfectly fine being a single kitty. Olive is our smallest cat, but she is also our fiercest and truly embraces the tortitude stereotype. She is not a lap cat, but she will come up and tap you if she wants pets. It’s quite adorable. Olive is our Rebel Starlet.

Sophie

Sophie was our third stray kitten that we found two days after Thanksgiving in 2014 outside a movie theater. She’s a clumsy, sassy lovebug and a fan favorite on the blog. If Sophie could only live with one human, she would choose her cat dad in a heartbeat. She is the most likely to get into trouble (i.e. go through the trashcan, counter surf, eat someone else’s food, etc.). Sophie is our Mischievous Goofball.

Woodrow

Woodrow was our first foster fail win. We had him for several months before deciding to adopt him in 2017. Woodrow is our biggest cat, weighing in at around 14 pounds. He comes off as a bit dense sometimes, and his main focus in life is food. Woodrow is our one true lap cat – any lap will do, even a stranger’s lap. Woodrow is affectionately referred to as the Lovable Dum Dum.

Harley

Harley is our most recent cat, another foster win, who we adopted in 2018. We estimate him to be no less than 16 years old now, and he’s our grumpy old man. Harley has chronic kidney disease but handles his meds and sub-q fluids like a champ. He bosses the other cats around and will demand they move if they’re in a spot he wants – and they immediately vacate the area. Harley is the boss, and he is known as our Hangry Curmudgeon.

Check out Rachel’s fun blogsite http://www.threechattycats.com, or connect via the following Links:

http://www.facebook.com/threechattycats

http://www.instagram.com/threechattycats

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COMING SOON-GHOST CAT ON THE MIDWAY

Are you ready for a new adventure?

Camelia Collins, Ocean Cove’s most recent septuagenarian resident, is all set to go to the fair! The smell of the popcorn, the roar of the crowd, the Ferris wheel and the pony shows—things she remembers from childhood and is looking forward to experiencing again.

But something’s up at the Cove County Fair. When Camelia meets the keeper of a rescued tiger, she could not have predicted that keeper will soon be dead, and the tiger gone missing. A rogue band of aggressive animal activists seems the obvious culprits, but they deny the act.

Only one entity knows the truth—the ghost cat Soji, but will the capricious spirit decide to come forward before someone else dies?

I grew up in a time when every county in the state of Oregon had their little summer fair.  My mother worked in the art department of our local festival, and when I was old enough, she would take me with her. I was paid a whopping twenty-five cents an hour, but it added up. I was an enthusiastic employee, learning the ins and outs of the fair business. I loved it and was always sad when the two weeks of adventure were over.

As an adult, I’ve continued to go to at least one county fair each summer. Now, because of COVID, it’s been years. Maybe this year I’ll try it again. But times have changed and so has the focus. Once an avenue for amateur artists, craftspeople, photographers, floral designers, 4-H members, and farmers to show off their accomplishments, now you are more likely to see long halls of commercial booths displaying hot tubs and low-cost phone plans.

In designing the Cove County Fair, I took a step back in time. You’ll find horse competitions and prize-winning pigs; home-baked cheesecakes and rows of canned pickles and pears. Food carts, redolent with the smell of fried onions, selling hot dogs with yellow mustard and corn dogs on a stick—no gourmet foodies here. By the way, did you know the corn dog was invented in Oregon? The first time I had one (at the fair) I threw up.

And what would a fair be without the midway and its harrowing rides, screaming teenagers, and barkers, vying for the attention of the passersby? Ellery tries his luck at a baseball game, hoping to win a neon-pink bear for Camelia. Camelia plays Whack-a-Mole for the first time in her seventy-some years.

My mum told me to watch out for the midway boys—the kids who traveled around all summer with the big rides.  According to her, they were dangerous, which of course made them all the more attractive in their tight jeans and tee shirts with cigarette packs rolled up in the sleeve. But it’s not the wild boys Camelia must look out for in this mystery story. It’s a murderer… Or maybe murderers… When she sees the ghost cat Soji in the Tiger cage with the body, she knows the killing is more than it seems.

A purr-anormal cozy mystery!

Soji plays the hero in this new cat mystery, but the old tiger Tigre is integral to the story. Camelia’s cat Blaze drops in from time to time, though mostly napping. Camelia, herself, is volunteering at a local cat rescue booth, so be assured there is no shortage of cats.

 

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Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? BERNADETTE

Remember when I said the CWA isn’t just for writers? Today’s guest on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? is a perfect example. Bernadette Kazmarski is a fine and graphic artist, working in several mediums including acrylic, pastel, and watercolor. Her designs are on totes, lawn posters, votive candle holders, and many more.

Vaughn Wallace/Post-Gazette: Bernadette E. Kazmarski is the author of the “Great Rescues Calendar and Gift Book,” a desk calendar featuring her portraits of rescued cats. Kazmarski donates a portion of the proceeds to various animal rescue organizations. Photographed in her home studio on September 19, 2011, with her 19-year-old tortoiseshell, Cookie.

Bernadette, please tell us a bit about your journey as a cat artist.

Before I was an artist, I was a writer. While I did many creative things and took a few art classes, what I really wanted to be was a writer; while most people think any degree I might have is in art, I actually have a BA in English with an emphasis on writing, and hoped to go on and study and teach composition at the college level.

But employment and a sad economy will make changes in anyone’s plans, and all those years ago I got a job as a typesetter because I could type really well after all those term papers and writing for the college newspaper, and so I entered the world of graphic design, without any intention or training, though I’d designed plenty of things I’d written by then. I’d always wanted to pursue those higher degrees or that job as a writer, but instead stayed with a job I found I could combine with my writing and editing skills into something I’ve found both fun and fulfilling as a career for 30 years. I’ve been working on a computer all that time, but I also brought in illustration and fine art in the good old fashioned way, with my hands.

I have my cats to thank for being an artist. When, as an adult, I chose to pick up a pencil and paper and put them together, it was because images of my cats kept appearing in my thoughts as pencil drawings and paintings and I decided to draw what I was envisioning. While I render many other subjects now, it all began with my cats and the hopeless affection I felt for each of them and all their moods and quirks and manners of affection toward me. This is the gift they gave to me, and I will be forever in their debt, spending a lifetime to pay it off by sharing them with others.

I have had no shortage of feline models after rescuing and fostering since the mid-1980s. Through the years, my cats have been the subjects of dozens of works, and others, seeing these works, want a similar piece with their own animal companion as a subject. I have had the pleasure of creating more than 100 commissioned portraits of cats, dogs, cats and dogs, and cats and dogs and people. They are gifts for loved ones, memorials to cherished companions who’ve gone before us, and lovely pieces of artwork featuring an animal a person loved. Animals give us so much in everyday life, but my cats have given me my career.

Because cats and dogs and animal welfare issues are a big passion of mine, I work frequently with local animal welfare organizations, both in fostering and in donating materials for their benefit auctions. I am also committed to rescuing cats in need, providing TNR for community cats, and helping cat lovers take the best care of their cats.

I also paint other subjects, my beloved local landscape I’ve been wandering and studying as since I was a child and my gardens as well as others’ just to start. I carry a sketchbook around with me to capture scenes around the house and out in the street in pencil and ink. I can store a half dozen paintings in my head from one walk in the woods, I grow flowers to paint in the garden and as still-lifes, and I don’t leave out the fruits and vegetables either.

Under the supervision of my cats, I have the joy of working at home to design books, web pages, logos and various printed materials for a variety of customers as well as creating illustrations, photographing events, writing articles, fiction and poetry, and completing commissioned animal portraits and other commissioned work.

“Self-portrait with Kublai”, my first black cat who rescued me in college.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

A musician and performer joke: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! I’m not going to Carnegie Hall, but nonetheless, all creative people need to practice their skills regularly, and that includes artists. Each day I have creative activities that aren’t always visual art, but engaging in visual activities “turns on the lights” for me, and that is often studying my cats, photographing them, and occasionally sketching them. As an artist I render what I see, and that happens to be a lot of cats through the past 40 years since I began rescuing. But their nature, their movements, their physical form have been inspiring me since before I made art. I can start with their activities, add any medium I want, and create something new and quickly.

In 2011 I felt I had had little time for artwork of any sort after a decade of family members’ medical needs, so I set myself up to create daily sketches of my cats from late 2011 to about 2015. The daily sketch was a simple, quick impression of an everyday occurrence, in real time. The promise was for me to do a little bit of art each day. Not trying to create a masterpiece each sketch was to take no more than 15 minutes and be done from life, not from photos, so that I had the challenge of thinking, literally, on my feet, letting myself visualize render it in the medium I visualized. I helped myself grow into new styles and new media and developed confidence with media where I felt I had little skill. Now when I approach another work, whether done from photographs or from life, I approach that with more confidence as well. And I have a huge body of images to enjoy as wall art and that I use to create my handmade goods and other gift items

Bernadette answers 3 arbitrary questions:

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

Well, I found a kitten in a box under the Christmas tree when I was nine years old. That’s not quite “growing up with,” but early enough. That first kitten unfortunately died of distemper two days after Christmas. My parents ran out and got me another kitten, and of course we lost that one too. But I would not be deterred, though I could tell my mother hoped I would be. I chose 12-week-old Bootsie myself at the shelter, and she was with me to age 15, inspiring me to love cats even more than I did, to rescue cats when I was away from her at college and keep one of those rescues to start my own feline family.

Seeking out cats in the neighborhood to visit back in the days when cats were always indoor-outdoor, and people rarely spayed and neutered, so, kittens.

  1. Tell us a true cat story. 

Sooty was a full-bred Chinchilla-point Persian but didn’t come to his forever home directly from his breeder. Adopted by a newly-engaged couple as a wedding gift to the bride-to-be, the couple subsequently broke up and Sooty was homeless. Passed along from one unloving home to another, finally housed in a detached garage with the door left open in the hope that he would run into the street… a neighbor kept watch, talked to the family, and eventually convinced them to give Sooty to her. She asked her sister-in-law to foster him.

Though her sister-in-law had no pets then, she had always had a cat and a dog growing up. When her mother passed away, her father came to live with her along with his dog and cat. They lost the pets, and her father passed away soon after, and she vowed “no more pets.” She made it clear that she would have Sooty neutered, given all his shots, and shaved because he was filthy and had such large hair balls under each limb, but he was a foster. He arrived in a cage, frightened to death and would not come out. She and her husband walked away, and pretty soon Sooty left the cage. Looking everywhere, she finally found him in her father’s old room, all curled up like he belonged there. “That did it,” and he stayed.

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

I sing around the house all the time and my cats are my audience, but I do sing to them intentionally. I have always sung softly to my fosters of all ages as I socialized and interacted with them too. My deaf cat Sally loved to lie on my chest, heart to heart, as I sang, and enjoy my “purring” vibrations.

I asked Bernadette to send names and photos of her cats, but she has so many, and they are changing often due to her fostering, this is what she wrote back:

Mimi, Mewsette, Giuseppe, Mr. Sunshine, Jelly Bean, the housepanther family. I rescued Mimi when the kittens were three days old and kept them for observation because an earlier kitten had died of FIP, and they stayed. The other five cats arrived as feral fosters from my or others’ TNR activities and stayed for medical or socialization issues. Basil, medium-haired black, was on the kill list at a shelter and was diagnosed with asthma so he has stayed. Bella, shorthaired black, wasn’t quite socialized and came here for a touch up, fostering with Basil, but also has a persistent urinary tract infection so she has stayed. Hamlet, longhaired black, came here with his sister after they failed at both socialization and a barn placement. Ophelia was eventually adopted, but Hamlet has never quite reached that level, though his loves living here. Sienna, shorthaired tortie, was trapped as a feral but the following morning did all sorts of cute things to prove to us she was not. She was and is socialized but runs from everyone but me, even potential adopters, I trapped Mariposa, longhaired tabby and white, at about a year old with a colony near me that I had to move to a farm because the abandoned house would be demolished. I’m not sure how she communicated that she did not want to be a feral cat, but I got the message, and over months she socialized to me and was found to have intensely precious and manipulative tendencies that no feral cat normally learns. She was originally a foster, but I know I never had any intention of letting her go. Right now, I have two adult fosters rescued from a neighbor’s house after the owner died, Simba and Midnight Louie, longhaired and shorthaired black, who are looking for the purrfect home.

Find out more about Bernadette, her art, and her cats at: https://thecreativecat.net/welcome-to-the-creative-cat/about/

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COVER REVEAL – Ghost Cat on the Midway

A new book! A new cover!

Do you want to see it?

Really want to see it?

Right. Now?

Okay but first, a bit about the book.

 

GHOST CAT ON THE MIDWAY, A Tenth Life Cozy Mystery #2

This summer, there’s trouble brewing at the Cove County Fair.

Camelia Collins is set to enjoy Ocean Cove’s small county fair when the keeper of an aging tiger is murdered, and the tiger goes missing. Who did it—a rogue faction of violent animal activists or something more arcane? Only the ghost cat Soji knows the truth, but will the capricious spirit come forward before someone else dies?

Now we’re ready! Here it is, the lovely new cover by designer Roslyn McFarland!

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Fractals

This is amazing!

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

Here is a really useful element for creating images: fractals.

What are fractals? Well, here’s what Wikipedia says (among other things): “…fractalis a term used to describe geometric shapes containing detailed structure at arbitrarily small scales.”

From that comes fractal art, which “…is a form ofalgorithmic artcreated by calculatingfractalobjects and representing the calculation results as still digital images, animations, andmedia.” There’s lots more in the Wikipedia article.

If you go to Pixabay and key in “fractal,” you will be rewarded with a wealth of shapes and patterns. Some are beautiful, like the featured image. Some are weird. Many can be combined with other design elements to produce something unique, or at least make an ordinary image interesting.

fractal purple circles and swirls black background
I’ve used this fractal in a few of my creations…

Image #2 for Welcome to the Witch House story
…such as this image for one of the stories in Tales From the Annexe.

fractal gold circles and swirls
This conglomeration of gold circles and…

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Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? RUTH E. THALER-CARTER

Today’s guest on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association? is Ruth E. Thaler-Carter. Ruth is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, proofreader, desktop publisher and speaker.

Please tell us a bit about your writing career.

My motto is “I can write about anything!”® I write articles for a variety of magazines, newsletters and blogs; edit and proofread projects for organizations, publications and colleagues; and speak and write about freelancing and related topics for several professional associations. In terms of cats, I’ve written for the magazine of the American Animal Hospital Association and (585) magazine, and aim to do a lot more cat-content.

How do cats inspire your creativity?

There’s something about the presence, behavior, and wacky activity of my cat, Skitter, that inspires me to support the local Humane Society (where I adopted her), make and collect (my guest room décor is all about cats) cat-related art, be a member of the Cat Writers Association, and write about topics to help people be more aware of how to care for and appreciate cats.

The Cat Room

Now for three arbitrary questions:

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

I feel sorry for them — they’re missing out on so much fun and comfort.

  1. Tell us a true cat story. 

Years ago, I was on my way to an important event when I saw a little tortoiseshell cat huddled in the building entry. Where it came from was a mystery: This was a business district with no homes or apartment buildings, little natural shelter, and heavy traffic.

I didn’t want to miss the event, but I didn’t want to abandon the cat. I couldn’t take it in — my briefcase would have squashed it — but a colleague came out of the building carrying a bulky gym bag that he let me borrow.

I headed for the office, fished the cat out of the gym bag, and said, “I’m attending the workshop downstairs and wondered if I could leave this little lost cat with you until it’s over.”

The staffers broke into big smiles, said “Of course!” and rustled up a box, a towel, some newspaper, a bowl and even some cream.

The pads on her feet were raw, her coat was badly matted, and she had ear mites. But she licked my fingers and patted my face as if she had found a friend. I was smitten.

After the workshop, I headed to a neighborhood animal hospital a couple blocks from my apartment building. It seemed like fate to have such a resource so close to home. She was pregnant, but otherwise healthy. Three days later, she was established in my apartment and my heart. I hadn’t realized how lonely I was, so we saved each other!

  1. Tell us a fictional cat story.

Everything in the true story — except in the fictional version, the narrator and the veterinarian become a couple! Here’s a shorter version of the rest of the story, which I made into a self-published piece entitled “Sometimes you save the cat …” and have used to raise a few bucks for the local Humane Society:

            The veterinarian who took charge of my (yes, now I was thinking of her as mine) cat wasn’t much to look at, but there was something about him. He had a great smile as he looked over the feisty little cat, and a lovely deep voice as he murmured to the cat and asked me about how I came to bring her in when she was in somewhat questionable condition. He roared with laughter when I explained about the flat briefcase, gym bag, and helpful office staff.

It was clear that he cared about the cat — and became equally clear that he might be interested in her rescuer. We marveled at having been nearby neighbors without having met before.

Of course, when you stop looking for something, that’s often when you find it. Thanks to that cat, I had my first Saturday dinner-and-a-movie dates in more than a year, one with a guy from the office from the workshop and one with the vet.

Three months later, I was engaged to that veterinarian, who turned out to be very much worth looking at. And talking to. And dancing with. And exploring with. A few months after that, the animal hospital and local shelter were several hundred dollars richer, thanks to the donations we asked people to make instead of giving us wedding gifts.

“Rescue Rita” queened it over the proceedings throughout, with that smug expression that only a cat can display when events go as it knew they would.

Skitter!

Skitter is a lovely calico with most of her coloration on one side, so in some poses, she looks as if she’s all-white. She’s affectionate and snuggly, and likes to curl up in my lap when I’m about to use my laptop in the evenings, as if to say that I’ve done enough work for the day and should relax by focusing on the cat. Which, of course, I do.

 

Connect with Ruth E. Thaler-Carter at:

Ruth@writerruth.com

www.writerruth.com

@WriterRuth

https://www.facebook.com/ruth.thalercarter

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

https://www.585mag.com/shelters-save/

 

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WHAT I’M WRITING

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

Somehow I got myself into the predicament of working on six books at the same time. This is not something I planned, nor is it something I want to do, now or ever again. It’s not that I get them mixed up, because I don’t. Each project is distinctly individual. And I really do work on them one at a time. Still, seeing six files at the edge of my computer screen is daunting.

 

Catwoman-A Journey: Lorett Glass inherits fifty-million dollars and is diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on the same day. Taking her life in a new direction, she becomes the person she’s always wanted to be—Catwoman.

I am finished with this episodic story for the moment. All 40 chapters are published on Kindle Vella and available to buy with Vella’s token system. But once the Vella thing has run its course, I will revise the manuscript and publish in ebook and paperback. Later…

 

Cat’s PlayAn eccentric recluse bequeaths his vast estate to little Friends of Felines cat shelter, but the gift comes with a catch.

The 9th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery is in the final phases before publication. Right now, it’s with my beta reader. Next it will go to my editor. After that I’ll purchase a proof copy and go through it once again. I’m still working on the cover with a new piece from Cat Artist Leslie Cobb. The plan is to launch on International Cat Day, October 29th, 2022.

 

Ghost Cat on the MidwayWhen the keeper of an aging tiger is murdered and the tiger goes missing, ghost cat Soji must make sure Camelia isn’t the next to die.

The 2nd Tenth Life paranormal mystery featuring septuagenarian Camelia Collins and her ghost cat Soji is supposed to launch before Cat’s Play, and I’m hoping it still will, but I’m behind on it. I do have a cover though, and it’s spectacular!

 

Cat Autumn In the wilds of the coastal woods lies a portal to another universe where a race of techno-medical felines are waging their first-ever conflict, and it’s up to Niva and her three kittens to prevent a multiversal war.

The third of my Cat Seasons Sci-Fantasy Tetralogy where cats save the world has been put aside for over a year. It’s to the point where I need only one more revision before sending it to the editor. This series is close to my heart, coming from stories I dreamed up years ago when I was still wild, so once the rest of my work is complete, Cat Autumn will be my priority.

My memoir, There’s a Cathair in My Mask: How Cats Helped me Through Unprecedented Times, is being read by an agent who expressed interest. If she chooses to represent it and me, it will be sold to a publisher. If not, I will publish it independently. It’s an oddly-presented story, so it may not be what mainstream wants to handle. I’m okay with it either way.

Cat House: Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery #10 is little more than a picture in my head, but I got down the first three chapters when I was at the beach with no internet. There is a page of ideas and notes which gets longer each day, but I won’t see real work on that story until the beginning of 2023.

That’s all.

(Not really. Ideas for Ghost Cat Christmas and a “How to Independently Publish Your Book on Amazon Workbook.”)

 

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BIG SUMMER SALE ON eBOOKS!

It’s that time again!

Summer is the perfect time to read a book. Whether you’re on vacation or just hanging in front of the air conditioner trying to stay cool. Maybe you live in Portland like I do, never knowing if the day will be cold and misty or the hottest on the planet. How about at the coast, in front of a fire? At a resort by the pool? In your bed after a long day’s work with all the lights off reading on your phone?

However you like to read, here’s the sale for you.

The 14th Annual Smashwords July Summer/Winter sale starts on July 1 and runs through July 31.

All my books are 50% off for the whole month of July. It’s easy. Just go to personal Smashwords bookstore at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CatWriter.

Happy Reading!

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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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