FIRST CHAPTERS: Cat’s Paw

FIRST CHAPTERS: Cat’s Paw

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited both the San Juan Islands and a prestigious animal sanctuary that at one time held art retreats. Combining those two elements into Lynley’s latest scene of murder(s) seemed the obvious thing to do.

When I was writing this story, I knew from the first moment who the killer was— so of course I had to change it. Get to know more about Lynley’s past in our cat lady’s 4th adventure.

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’s Paw, the 3rd Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery

When cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon attends an elite creative retreat at the prestigious Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary in the San Juan Islands, she gets more than a lesson in art. Accused by vigilantes of a shocking double homicide, she persuades them of her innocence and runs home to Portland, but murder follows in her wake.

Then suspicion falls on a dear friend. Can Lynley fight through fear, assault, and her own anxiety disorder to keep from becoming a victim herself?

Praise for Cat’s Paw

“Starting Cat’s Paw is a lot like a kitten tapping a colorful ball of yarn—soon a claw is caught and there’s no letting go until the whole thing is unwound… A fun read for all you wanna-be cat ladies and mystery fans.” —Ann Littlewood, author of the Zoo Mystery series.

“Cats, art and murder. What more could anyone ask?” — Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, 1989 Nebula Award winner for best novel, author of the Purranormal Mysteries, the Tale of Barque Cats series (with Anne McCaffrey) and many more.

Prologue

The walls are gray.

Gray like wet cement.

Gray like oblivion.

The floor is tile, the industrial kind.

Toward the edges, dark grime is imbedded

like oily worms.

There are no windows; it is a basement.

I count the holes in the acoustic ceiling tiles,

then I count them again,

waiting.

 

Chapter 1

The British proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat” warns that being inquisitive may bring trouble. The rejoinder, “satisfaction brought it back,” tells the rest of the story. Cats exist in a constant state of tension between caution and curiosity. As long as they don’t know, they will be drawn to discovery. Once knowing is achieved, the game is over and the cat can move on to something else.

I’ve been called a crazy cat lady all my life, but I never knew what crazy was until now. Languishing in this dingy hole, knowing my freedom is in the well-meaning but inept hands of amateurs, I fear I shall lose my mind. The options are simple: I could be released or I could be arrested. If released, I put the debacle behind me; if things go the other way, well, that’s where it gets really crazy. I would need a lawyer; I could go to trial. I could be convicted, sentenced, and sent to prison. You know I didn’t do it. I’m a cat shelter volunteer, for goodness sakes! I’m not a killer.

I have to laugh—‌the thing I regret the most in this gray limbo of incarceration is not the fear of an uncertain future; not the anger at being judged without proof; not even the horror of what’s going on outside that basement door. It’s the absence of cats. The absence of my cats.

My name is Lynley Cannon, and on any normal day, I would be helping out at my local cat shelter, visiting with my lovely and intelligent granddaughter, researching my labyrinthine Scottish ancestry, or enjoying some other innocuous pursuit. Since I am retired, my time is my own. There is little I cannot do as long as I plan it properly with no heavy lifting and many convenient bathroom stops. I hadn’t realized how accustomed I’d become to that freedom until it was so rudely ripped away from me.

As with the cats I so love, I possess an innate curiosity which makes my life both interesting and adventurous. At sixty, however, adventure poses certain risks. Circumstances that would have been in past decades fun and athletic could now land me in the hospital. Yet I persevere. I rush in without considering the consequences. It is my nature.

That’s how I came to be at the Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary Annual Art Retreat. I’m not an artist but I have always wanted to visit the celebrated shelter located on its very own island among the beautiful San Juans in Northwest Washington state. When the opportunity arose, thanks to an old school friend who happens to run the program, I jumped on the it like a cat on catnip.

Though most of the other participants were younger, more extroverted, and certainly more creative than I was, we all got along like kittens in a clowder. By the second day, it was as if we’d known each other forever, and I figured we’d stay in touch long after the retreat was over, Facebook friends if nothing more. Only one among them had rubbed me the wrong way, a bitter, spiteful woman who had no business being there in the first place since she seemed neither artistic nor sociable. But now she was dead, and I was locked in the basement until the storm died down and the police could make their way across the heaving waters.

How had this happened? Where had things gone wrong? One moment there was as much camaraderie as at a hippie love-in—‌‌‌‌and I should know, having been there and done that—‌‌the next, only fear, hatred, and this howling Northwest thunderstorm. There would be lots of time for contemplation since it didn’t look like I was going anywhere soon.

 

 

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CELEBRATE TODAY! #BettyWhiteChallenge

Today’s the day!

Today, January 17th 2022 would have been animal advocate Betty White’s 100th birthday. Sadly, she didn’t quite make it, so we need to celebrate for her.

Betty was outspoken about her passion for animals of all kinds. She was a friend to countless animals through her own donations of time, funds, and her own celebrity.

Now it’s up to us. The #BettyWhiteChallenge taking place today is a virtual event asking fans to donate $5 to animal rescues or shelters in Betty White’s name.

Betty had probably never heard of the shelters I’ve listed below, but they are ones where I’ve visited, and in some cases, volunteered, myself. They are just a small sampling of the great, deserving rescues and shelters in the world, so whether you choose one of them to pitch in your $5, or pick somewhere else, let’s light up the internet with this special day of giving in Betty’s name.

House of Dreams, Portland OR

“House of Dreams provides shelter and care for abandoned and homeless cats, with the goal of finding them permanent homes or providing them a lifetime home in our facility. We are a free-roam, no-kill, all-volunteer cat shelter located in Portland, Oregon. We are one of the only area shelters with facilities for Feline Leukemia positive (FeLV+) kitties.”

http://www.kittydreams.org/support

 

Oregon Humane Society, Portland OR

“Oregon Humane Society rescues, heals and adopts more than 11,000 pets each year. We never place a time limit on how long cats, dogs and other pets stay at our shelter. OHS relies on donations to support our adoption, education, and animal rescue programs.”

https://www.oregonhumane.org/donate/

 

Cat Adoption Team, Sherwood OR

“Every donation to CAT goes to work immediately for cats. Gifts support everything from foster care and adoption services to spay/neuter surgeries and lifesaving medical care—everything it takes to give cats their best chance to have healthy lives and find loving homes.”

https://catadoptionteam.org/support/

 

Amigos de los Animales (Mazatlán Humane Society) Mazatlán, Mexico

“We are dedicated to providing a much needed service to the community.  Our goal is to create an environment free of homeless dogs and cats. Our primary mission is to act as a refuge for homeless animals. We make our best effort to adopt the animals we receive into an appropriate home. Our focus is to promote the humane treatment of domestic animals through education, pet population control (spay/neuter), rescue and adoption.”

http://www.amigosdelosanimalesmaz.com/Contact-Donate.html

 

South Pacific County Humane Society, Long Beach WA

“Our shelter relies on the kindness and generosity of our supporters to fund the needs of the homeless cats and dogs in our care, and to support community programs such as our Pet Food Bank and spay and neuter assistance, both for low-income residents.”

https://beachpets.com/make-a-difference-ways-to-give/

 

Furry Friends, Vancouver WA

“A no-kill cat rescue and adoption organization. We help cats in the Vancouver-Portland Metropolitan and surrounding area receive the medical care and forever home they deserve. Operated solely by volunteers, our Mission is to rescue abused, abandoned or otherwise homeless cats and house them in a safe, healthy and socialized environment until we find new “forever homes” for them. ”

https://furryfriendswa.org/donate/

 

Photo by Nicholas Bartos on Unsplash
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WHY I WRITE COZIES, AND WHY I READ THEM, TOO

This is a harsh world. The last nearly-two years have brought an even harsher layer to what already was. Pandemic, violence, civil unrest. In the face of this reality, I choose to see also the good, the beauty, the kindness, the times people go over and above for each other. This is what I want to convey in my cozy mysteries. This is what I want to read about when I’m in front of the fireplace with a cat on my lap.

Someone recently asked me if my books were going to reflect the pandemic in any way. I considered it—my cat shelter volunteer character wearing a mask and washing her hands three times a scene. Maybe she could solve a crime from home quarantine, the way Nero Wolfe did. Maybe there could be a cat involved in the ongoing downtown riots, and Lynley is the only one who can save him. Maybe the closure of Friends of Felines cat shelter would require Lynley to foster several cats at once, like I had done in real life for the Oregon Humane Society. Maybe someone near and dear could get COVID and die, except it was murder. Maybe the villain would run around coughing on his enemies and giving them the deadly virus—people had been known to do that, believe it or not.

No, I hated all those scenarios. My cozies were soft, friendly fiction and would remain that way—no COVID, no riots, no hatred, no violence except for the obligatory murder, and that would be done quietly offstage. The people who read cozy mysteries are looking for a puzzle to solve. If they want graphic violence, there are thrillers aplenty for their gruesome reading pleasure.

I ditched the idea of a COVID-era mystery and concentrated on scenes that included taking cats for walks in a lovely spring garden and a perfect paisley feline curled up under a red maple tree. I liked these things much better than a pandemic scenario. How about you?

 

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2022 DAY ONE-FINISHED MY MEMOIR!

 

It’s the first day of a brand new year!

I didn’t do it on purpose, but this morning I finished the second draft of my memoir, THERE’S A CAT HAIR IN MY MASK: How Cats Helped Me Through Unprecedented Times and sent it off to my editor. This is something completely different for me, but once I realized it was something that needed to be said, I had to go ahead with it. The story covers the period of time between the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the adoption of my cat Jaimz in April 2021. Those were hard times for me—for everyone. Stuff happened I’d never thought I’d see. Just one thing kept me from falling off the edge: cats.

In CAT HAIR, I convey how my relationship with the cats in my life, their subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) teachings, showed me how to navigate when I felt I wasn’t going to make it. It wasn’t an easy story to write, and I doubt it will be easy to read. Still, I’m hoping it may touch a few of you who have had your own troubles with this everchanging tide we call the new normal.

Here is how it begins:

Note form author.

I am a cat writer. I write cozy mysteries. My fictional stories don’t include swearing, graphic violence, or explicit sex. I also write cat poetry and sci-fantasy about cats saving the world. The sci-fi isn’t as cozy as the cozies, but they have an optimistic premise. I do love a happy ending!

This is a different sort of story. There are no holds barred here. I will swear and criticize the government. I will complain, and whine, and give too much information. There are mentions of emotional and physical abuse and violence that move me to issue this general trigger warning.

So if you don’t want to find out that your cozy author is a foulmouthed liberal democrat who went through shit and has opinions on everything, this is not the book for you. If you want a story from my heart and soul, please read on.

 

  1. IN THE BEGINNING

When the coronavirus COVID-19 hit the world like a blistering shitstorm, I was living in an old house in Portland, Oregon with my husband and three cats. It was the beginning of February 2020, and Jim and I had just returned from our semi-annual vacation in Mexico. I don’t remember hearing anything about a pandemic as we watched the glorious sunrises and sunsets from out beachfront suite on Cabo San Lucas. The only American horror story I knew of was our explosive political situation. Even with the devious mind of a mystery writer, I would never have imagined what was to come.

Nice as it was to hang out in warmer climes and eat fresh fruit and enchiladas, I was happy to get home. The flight, the airports, and the interminable line at customs were grueling. By the time I arrived into the dark, cold, rainy Pacific Northwest, I was exhausted.

We’d hired an excellent live-in cat sitter for the week we were gone, so the cats weren’t too mad at us for leaving. In fact, they probably had more fun with Jenn, an innate cat person, than with us on a daily basis. Still, it was so welcome to finally have a few cats on the bed, and when I went to sleep that night, I slept well.

As with most vacations, the return was fraught with undone chores and catch-up. I plunged headfirst into answering emails, planning promotion for my new book, and writing, as well as restocking cupboards, watering plants, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I could feel the anxiety rising and wondered, as I always do after being somewhere relaxing, if this heartless jerk back into reality was really worth it.

Jim liked to watch the evening news. Unless he was working, every day at between five and six he sat down in the green easy chair we inherited from his father and clicked on the television. He was arbitrary about stations except for FOX, which was infamous for its politically skewed reporting. He refused to watch that one. The others are probably skewed as well, but skewed to our own point of view, so that worked.

During our time in Mexico, we hadn’t caught the goings on in the States. We figured they could get along without us, and us without them. That was our usual mode of travel, with the exception of Mazatlán in January 2017. On that trip, we found ourselves glued in horror to our TV screens and mobile devices as the new President systematically stripped our country of things we’d worked so hard to achieve with a flurry of executive orders. But that’s another story—this one is about a different tragedy, or I should say, a series of tragedies that knocked us on our collective asses like fallen dominos. This story is about cats.

So, there was Jim watching the news. The first segment was all politics and disaster: the upcoming presidential primaries, Trump’s impeachment trial and disappointing acquittal, another mass shooting, bringing the number up to twenty-eight just this year. Then it switched to reports of a deadly virus which had taken hold in China and was now jumping to other countries including the U.S. Its origin was still unknown—a zoonotic disease, transmitted from animals such as bats or pangolins? A bioweapon of mass destruction from some secret Chinese lab? Who knew? The news anchor speculated, as they do, on the worst case scenario. That was the first time I heard the word, pandemic, outside of history or dystopian fiction. Little did I know that one word would become commonplace, used everywhere by everyone around the world. But I suppose that’s what pandemic means.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes pandemic thus: “An outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.” I didn’t pay much attention. I knew the news media latched onto anything that might make a good story—they would go to any lengths to get people to watch. A simple winter storm was elevated to a snow-pocolypse; a political protest became a rampage. That’s how they made their money. I assumed this pandemic scare would be no different and went off to make dinner for the cats.

Here’s how it ends:

EPILOGUE

It has been nine months since Jaimz’s adoption, and almost a year since I first met the little gray cat who was destined to save my life. Instead of the continuing weight loss foretold by OHS the doctor, he’s started gaining. I figured out that because of his sensitive stomach, he couldn’t eat much at one sitting so I supplied him with a microchip-activated feeder that allows him eat whenever he pleases. He is holding his own against the kidney disease, and the thyroid condition is easily regulated with medication which he takes like a champ. My veterinarian has become personally involved with his wellbeing as she does with all her patients, and we work together to unravel the mysteries of the feline condition.

Jaimz is happy, healthy, friendly, and sweet. His presence in my life has made me a better person, a more compassionate and sympathetic human. His fortitude and tenacity have inspired me to get over myself and carry on.

The pandemic is still with us, a new variant discovered only recently, bringing us back to square one even though many of us are vaccinated. There is still racism and social unrest—it will take time to undo the damage along those lines, and at this point, we’re just beginning to figure out what those amends might look like. There are still assholes who put their desires ahead of the welfare of others. There are still the houseless, as there will be until the inequity between the very poor and the obscenely rich is reconciled.

I continue to wrestle with anxiety and depression, some based in the reality of a crazy world around me and some stemming from my nearly-seventy-year-old mind. I still have pain that eludes the doctors and therefore is nearly impossible to treat. But as I write this, Jaimz standing on my chest, making it a challenge to type, I know these things:

It’s not what happens to us that matters, but the choices we make in response.

Getting out of ourselves by caring for others is a miracle cure for many ills.

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring—whether saving the world or taking a nap, make each moment worthwhile.

This I’ve learned, not from my fellow humans, but from cats. Cats have the ability to meet us on a deeper level. It may be telepathy, empathy, or something we have yet to measure, but whatever our connection, the result is healing beyond words.

The pages in between tell about what I did, what I felt, what I imagined to be true. But mostly it tells about cats and what they teach us if we are prepared to listen and learn.

 

 

Posted in Alcoholism & Addiction, anxiety disorder, Cats, Death & Dying, Emotion, Getting Older, Health, Wellness, Lifestyle, Life Through Amber, Lifestyle, memoir, mental illness, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

TEN THINGS ABOUT 2021

Happy New Year’s Eve! Are you ready to embark on another year? What wonders and horrors might it hold? Since we can’t look into the future, I thought I’d do a bit of reminiscing about 2021.

  1. It wasn’t as bad as 2020.

2021 may not have been the happiest of years, but it wasn’t nearly as terrible as the unprecedented 2020. Remember your shock when you first heard there was a pandemic? That it-can’t-be-real moment? But it was real. The end of the world as we knew it. Lockdown for months with no end in sight. The elderly, the sick, and the dying alone in their isolation. Bodies stacked in refrigerator trucks. And most of all, the continuing disbelief that anything could disrupt our everyday lives in such a way as COVID.

This year may not have got off to a pretty start, but there were good points. A new vaccine was distributed nationwide. Mandates were lifted. Most of us had adjusted enough to pandemic conditions that we knew how to be careful. Things would never go back to what they were, but now we had a way to go on.

 

  1. I adopted a cat.

2021 brought me little Jaimz, a cat abandoned, then relinquished to OHS, and finally put into foster care with me. When he was deemed unadoptable because of his medical condition, I took him in for good. Since then, he has flourished, becoming a beloved and integral part of our family.

Adopting a pet is good for the soul.

 

  1. It got really hot.

Though I’ve experienced a few triple-digit temperatures here in the Pacific Northwest, there has never, never been anything like what we reached last summer. At one point, the average high in Portland was 117◦. Trees burned, plastic melted, people died. Like many of the population, our house doesn’t have air conditioning.  We packed up the cats and went to the beach, which was cooler, but not by much. All the time I was thinking, This isn’t really happening. But it was.

 

  1. A twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

There wasn’t any champagne, nor did we go dancing. In fact, we didn’t go anywhere, because pandemic. Still, we had a nice takeout dinner and watched the first run of Wonder Woman 1984 on TV. It may not seem memorable, but strangely, that night stands out to me more than the lavish celebrations that had gone before. Warm, fed, entertained, and surrounded by cats, it’s a memory that will last my lifetime.

 

  1. I published two books.

Between January and December 2021, I actually worked on seven WIPs, but only two came ready for publication: Adventure Cat, my 8th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, and The Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove, book one of a new paranormal series. Ghost Cat had an online launch; Adventure Cat, which came out in November, actually had an in-person launch at a gift store. Some people, the fully vaccinated, were ready to mingle again, though others preferred to give it a bit longer before venturing out in public. Good call—soon after my launch, a new COVID variant was discovered, reminding us who’s boss of the world, at least for now.

 

  1. Jim got bees.

My husband Jim has cared for bees for some years and has several hives. Sometimes they make it through the wet Oregon winter and sometimes they don’t. In April, the new bees come from the bee store, and Jim spends days cleaning old hives and getting ready to receive the swarm.

Bees are good. They need all the help they can get. Without bees, there would be much less food on our table, in fact it’s said that if the bees go extinct, so would we. I’m not sure that’s true—after all, humans could always live on synthetic foods such as Soylent Green.

 

  1. Pants are over—it’s Zoom time.

Remember back when you attended your first Zoom meeting? Searching frantically for the password? Thinking you were muted when you weren’t? Your cat’s butt? Those things are still happening, but we’re used to it by now. From a two-person conversation between friends to a business meeting involving hundreds, Zoom is the (virtual) place to be.

 

  1. We got our vaccines!

The first responders were top of the list, then the nursing homes, then the old people. We, the 65+, were supposed to be next, but Governor Brown pushed the teachers in front of us, a ridiculous move since there were few schools that even aspired to go back to in-person learning at the time. But eventually it was our turn, and we signed up. It wasn’t the simplest matter to find a vax appointment, but really all it took was patience. Jim got his shot at a Walgreens, and I went to the hub in the Convention Center. We were ushered through the process quickly and efficiently by volunteers and the National Guard. I came out of that place feeling like Wonder Woman herself!

 

  1. William Shatner really went to space.

No matter what you think about Bill Shatner or about spending billions of dollars on something so frivolous as taking sightseers up in space, it was still pretty cool. Bill certainly thought so. After attending so many Star Trek conferences that I felt I knew the man, I couldn’t help but be happy for him.

 

  1. Most of us are still here.

Some of us got COVID; some succumbed to other ailments, but anyone who is reading this post is still very much alive. We get to roll on into 2022 and see what tomorrow may bring. We have another year of hopes, plans, surprises, and maybe a few miracles. I’m not one to make resolutions I know will be forgotten within a few weeks, but I do plan to enjoy the time given. 2020 and 2021 may have brought us “the end of the world as we know it,” but not the end of the world.

Love and Light and many, many meows,

 

 

 

 

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FIRST CHAPTERS: Cat Conundrum

Cat Conundrum, the lucky 7th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. The story takes place in January, so I thought it a good choice for today’s First Chapters Blogpost since the new year will be upon us before we know it. The blustery winds, the chill landscape on the far West Coast… if you enjoy a good winter storm at the beach, keep reading.

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 Conundrum, the 7th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery

Locked-room murders are being committed in sleepy little Long Beach, Washington. Sheriff Matt Boulder has no idea who is doing them, or why. The sheriff needs help, but when he calls in his friend, animal cop Denny Paris, Lynley Cannon comes along for the ride.

Sleuthing isn’t how the sixty-something cat shelter volunteer envisioned her beach vacation, but she can’t resist a mystery. While the officers pursue one line of inquiry, Lynley takes a different approach. Her only clues—a cat found at the murder scene and a rich man’s missing wife—lead her like pebbles on the shore to a scheme more insidious than fiction.

Can Lynley disclose her findings before she ends up in that locked room herself?

Praise for Cat Conundrum:

“Cat Conundrum is my idea of the perfect cozy mystery book. It’s totally clean, has quirky characters among its cast, has cats, and a mystery that takes most of the book to figure out. I highly recommend this cozy to all of you cozy mystery lovers! I can’t wait to read more!”  —Christy’s Cozy Corners

The clues are all there… but I was totally surprised by the big reveal. It holds up well as a stand alone with everything you need to know about Lynley, her friends, and her cat obsession all included.”  —I Read What You Write reviewer

 

EVERYONE LOVES A LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY.

From Agatha Christie to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to Edgar Allen Poe, the intelligent mind of the reader rejoices at the thought of the impossible crime. Not only “Who done it?” but “How the heck did they pull it off?” Depending on the genre, it may involve magic, the paranormal, science, or merely a clever killer. But no matter how you look at it, you think, “What fun!” Right?

Big Sigh!!!

Not necessarily.

Not when it’s real life.

Not when you’re the person in the locked room.

 

Chapter 1

The sea raged like something undone. From out of the hollow hills came the screech of an animal: a cougar or a wolf. A gull floated in the cold, gray sky above, a winged shadow against the cloud cover. A typical January morning on the wild Washington coast—I found the scene exhilarating.

My name is Lynley Cannon, and as a native resident of urban Portland, it had been a while since I’d traveled into the wilderness. My presence today was a gift, and I was prepared to take full advantage of it.

“Showtime,” came a voice from behind me.

I turned to see my friend and co-panelist, Special Agent Denny Paris, standing in the doorway of the lodge. As my eye traced the stunning lines of the grand, turn-of-the-century inn, I had to confess that maybe this wasn’t the backwoods after all.

“Ready, Lynley?” Denny asked, holding the door for me.

“As I’ll ever be,” I replied, pushing through into the cozy warmth of the lodge’s magnificent conference room. Dutifully I took my place on the stage. I straightened my glasses, folded my hands, and stared at the ever-increasing audience as they, in turn, stared back at me. I glanced at Denny. The young man with his fine features, cat-green eyes, and sandy hair curling from under his blue police cap seemed the epitome of confidence. I wished I had half his aplomb.

As I am an introvert, I was less than thrilled to be the center of attention even though I knew it was for a good cause: cats. I’m all about cats, and the Long Beach Cat Summit promised to be a top-rate event. The special agent and I had chosen to present on the subject of shelter cats. It had sounded like a good idea when we submitted the proposal; now that I sat in the spotlight, I was having some serious second thoughts.

Denny must have picked up on my angst because right on cue, he turned to me and whispered, “You look great, Lynley.”

I didn’t have a mirror, nor did I need one to know what I looked like: a tousled, slightly frumpy, sixty-something cat enthusiast. His compliment was a lie, but a kind lie all the same.

“This is an excellent opportunity to get the word out about cats in the shelter system,” he went on. “I’m glad I convinced you to come along.”

I smiled back, unsure whether I should thank him or do him bodily harm.

The panel hasn’t begun yet, I thought as my trepidation ramped up into near-panic. Still time to make a run for it. I could say I needed to use the bathroom; get a drink of water; retrieve a necessary item from my purse, and then go. Go go go! Denny would figure it out when I didn’t return. He’d make the best of it. They would never even miss me…

My attention was hauled back to reality as a big man in a black uniform lumbered up the steps to the stage. Though probably a bit over the perfect weight for his stature, he carried it straight and tall. His round face held a kindly smile, but his eyes, shadowed by the bill of his hat, were a mystery. Then he pulled the hat off. The smile broadened, and a pair of bright blues lit up as if he knew everyone in the place and was glad to see them.

The room instantly quieted, whether from anticipation of the show or the man’s magnetic personality, I couldn’t tell.

“Welcome,” he said in a deep, rolling basso that matched his figure. “For those of you who don’t know me…” He gave a little chuckle which was echoed throughout the room. “I’m Sheriff Matt Boulder.” The sheriff raised a self-effacing hand to the smattering of applause. “Thank you, thank you, but tonight’s not about me. No re-election speeches, I promise.”

He paused for another bout of laughter. “You kitty-cat folks are in for a treat. For our first panel of the day, I have with me Special Agent Denny Paris from the Northwest Humane Society. Special Agent Paris heads up a team of humane investigators—you may know them better as animal cops—for our Pacific Northwest area. Besides handling animal abuse and neglect cases, his team works hard to educate our kids about pet care and safety so they grow up treating animals right.”

This time, the applause was enthusiastic. Denny gave a courteous nod, but I was close enough to see his face redden. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who was nervous after all.

“Also we have Lynley Cannon.” The sheriff peeked at an index card in his hand. “Cat expert from Friends of Felines Cat Shelter over in Portland. Besides being a longtime cat shelter volunteer,” he read off the page, “Ms. Cannon fosters cats and has several cats of her own, including a registered therapy cat that she takes into assisted living communities. Lynley is here to tell us about her experiences.”

The applause rolled around to me, polite and optimistic. I gave a little wave and fiddled with my pen, hoping that when it came my turn, I wouldn’t freeze, pass out, or toss my cookies.

* * *

All went well. The hour sped past with Denny speaking about his investigations and me chatting about cats. People asked the usual questions. How many cats do you have? (Eight.) What’s it like to volunteer at a cat shelter? (Fun and exhausting.) How do you keep from adopting them all? (Willpower and knowing they will get a good home with someone else.) And the inevitable Why does my kitty pee on the carpet, linoleum, bathtub, pillowcase, or boyfriend’s new boots? (See your veterinarian to rule out a medical cause, then look for behavioral issues.) I didn’t freeze, faint, or embarrass myself with inadvertent bodily functions. In fact, once I got over the initial stage fright, I quite enjoyed it. I was almost sorry when it came to an end and Sheriff Boulder stepped up to the microphone once more.

“We have time for one last question,” he announced.

Several hands went up, but before he could choose, a man at the back of the conference room stood. Pulling the beat-up ball cap off his head, he choked it in his restless grip as he made a query that changed everything.

“What’s being done about the murder?”

All eyes turned, including mine and Denny’s.

“Now, this isn’t really the time…” Sheriff Boulder began but the man cut him off.

“I want to know, and I’d bet these other people agree with me.” The man gave a sweeping gesture. “We want you to tell us what’s being done. Now.”

The sheriff’s face went hard as granite, his expression unreadable. I looked from him to Denny, who seemed as surprised as I was. I must have heard wrong. There must be some explanation. Murder, here in Long Beach? In this sleepy little town? I sighed, reflecting back to a mere hour ago when my only concern was fielding people’s questions about cats.

Rats! I thought to myself. What was the world coming to? It seemed like everywhere I went, people were killing each other. But at least this time it wasn’t my problem, didn’t have anything to do with me.

A murmur ran through the crowd, and a second man rose. “Answer his question, Matt.”

The woman next to him stood as well. “Yeah, Sheriff.” She ran a hand across her brow. “We’re trying to raise our families here. We need to know if we’re in danger.”

“Hey, Lil,” Boulder said without skipping a beat. “I know everyone’s concerned. I am too. But really, I have nothing new to tell you. We’re pursuing all avenues, and as soon as I know something, you’ll know too. I promise.” He skewered the concerned mom and dad with an honest but definitive gaze. “Okay?”

Mom and Pop hesitated, then nodded and sat down. The man at the back took a little longer, but he finally uttered a clipped “yup,” and reclaimed his seat.

Sheriff Boulder scanned the room for any final hecklers, then turned and beamed at Denny and me.

“Let’s have a big hand for Special Agent Denny Paris and Friends of Felines volunteer Lynley Cannon. Our next panel is about fifteen minutes away.”

 

 

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SANTA-CAT’S HOLIDAY FAVES – TYLER’S WISH LIST

Merry Almost Christmas and Happy Holidays!

There’s no escaping it. Around the neighborhood, the lights are up. On Facebook, friends are posting pictures of their trees. Everyone is happy for a reason to celebrate, planning to be with loved ones in person this year.

Do cats care? I think they do. They certainly pick up on their cohabitors’ joy. And why shouldn’t they be enthusiastic? They won’t be forgotten in our celebrations!

Again this year, I’ve collected together a few items for cats and their people that stand out to me. None of these have solicited my endorsement, nor have I received any compensation for listing them. 

 

Tyler’s Choice: CatAmazing Classic Interactive Food Puzzle

Tyler loves this toy. He wants to play it every morning and will tell us about it if his dad doesn’t fill it with treats for him to find. But this awesome interactive toy that gives your cat mental stimulation also is made sustainably of reinforced, durable cardboard, 100% recyclable, 30% post-consumer, and printed with metal-free ink. Tyler has had his for several years and only now has finally clawed the top into shreds. That doesn’t stop him from playing with it every day. Read my review here.

 

Jaimz’s Choice: Frisco Crown Quilted Bolster Bed/Frisco Self Warming Bolster Round Cat Bed

How this works: You stack the little round one inside the big round one and there you are! We call it the Princess bed, and Jaimz loves it! Poor Jaimz is a tiny old kitty that suffered some horrific accident when he was younger. I don’t know if this is why he likes his beds stacked in pairs, but he does.

 

Favorite Cat Mystery: Oh! Olivia: A Calico Cat Mystery, by Patricia Fry 

Oh! Olivia is book 1 of Patricia Fry’s new Calico Cat Mystery Series. The cat Olivia is based on Fry’s own lovely, fluffy calico, though the fictitious Olivia tends to be much more adventurous than the real one (we hope!). Patricia Fry is the author of the Klepto Cat Series and continues her tradition of putting realistic cats into exciting situations.

 

Favorite Etsy Store: houseofdreamspdx, Handcrafted goodies to support cat rescue!
 

Catnip Poptarts? Fox-face coffee cozies? Hand-crocheted cat doll with detailed clothing and accessories and even a donut (also crocheted) or two? Look no further. At houseofdreamspdx you’ll find these and much more. New items added weekly, and all of them handmade! 100% of profits goes to the kitties at House of Dreams all volunteer, no-kill cat shelter in Portland, Oregon.

 

Favorite Tribute Item: Custom Pet Memorial Votive, by Bernadette

Whether a gift for yourself to remember a beloved animal companion, or one to send to a friend to show you remember their companion too, artist Bernadette creates custom votives using images you provide. Bernadette is a true cat person (though the votives can honor any species) and understands from personal experience the very real grief we experience when one dies. She designed the first of these memorial votives as a gift to a friend, and it was so cherished that the project grew from there.

 

Favorite Christmas Artwork: Nutcracker, but Leslie Cobb

You might recognize this painting from the cover of my Christmas Novella, Cat Noel. Cat Artist Leslie Cobb also sells prints made from the original. Check out this one and more on her website here.

About Leslie :

“I have shared my life with cats since I was a child and cannot imagine living without them. I try to capture their unique qualities in my art. I use acrylic paint because it washes easily out of cat fur when some of my models choose to take a more active role in the artistic process.

I am mostly self-taught; my formal training was limited to high school art classes and a couple of drawing courses at a community college over 30 years ago. I began painting in 1998 after the death of my one-eyed cat, Esmeralda. She had been my friend for 19 years; my early paintings were an effort to honor her memory and cope with my grief. I like to think that my artistic ability is a gift she left for me when she had to go to the Rainbow Bridge.

One of my primary goals is to use my art to benefit animals in need. I support animal shelters and rescue groups by donating artwork or a percentage of my sales to their fundraising events.”

 

Favorite Other Cat Artist: Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks is a scientific illustrator that also happens to be a shameless nerd and cat lover. Jenny specializes in pop-culture characters as cats. Her published work includes a fully illustrated book: Star Trek Cats published by Chronicle Books; variant covers for Marvel; and variant covers for Action Lab’s Hero Cats comics.

I love the Star Trek and Doctor Who drawings, but my favorite is an obscure Firefly collage that I don’t see on her website anymore.

 

Favorite People Toy: Pusheen’s little brother, Pip Stuffed Plush, by GUND

I haven’t actually seen this little fellow in real life, but I love plush animals and this one’s about as plush as they get! GUND has been making quality soft and stuffed animals for generations, so I know it will be good.

 

  Tyler’s Wishlist  

What does a cat want for Christmas?

Who knows? The cats who are fortunate enough to have a home and a family who loves them are already getting most everything they want and need daily. Healthy meals, toys and treats, medical care when required. But what about the other cats, the ferals and strays, the ones lingering in shelters because someone deems them too old, too shy, too feisty, too much trouble or expense because of medical needs?

If Tyler could speak and was inclined to think of his less fortunate brothers and sisters, he would wish for them all the care and devotion he himself has gets every day. Toward that end, Tyler asks the following: 

 

Jaimz’s Wishlist: Anti-Anxiety Fluffy Marshmallow Cat Bed 

 James would like to upgrade his Princess bed to a single bed model, and he thinks this pretty bolster is the cat’s meow.

 

Shameless self-promotion: Cat Poems, For the Love of Cats, Expanded and Illustrated Hardcover Edition

Cats are the purr-fect inspiration for this expanded collection of poems by cat writer Mollie Hunt. The collection includes “Tyler,” winner of the Cat Writers Association Muse Medallion Award. A thoughtful gift for poetry lovers and cat lovers alike. 

 

Thanks, friends, for all your ongoing attention and support. I always enjoy your comments and would especially like to hear your cats’ favorite things for Christmas this year. 

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FIRST CHAPTERS: Cat Noel

Even though Cat Noel is a novella, I thought it a good choice for my First Chapters blogpost series since it is that time of year!

When I set out to write Cat Noel, I wasn’t sure what it should be about. All I knew was I wanted to write a Christmas-themed Crazy Cat Lady book, just to see if I could. Like much of my writing, the story quickly established itself, turning out to be something quite different from the usual, romantic fairytale.

I’m afraid some of my own holiday hesitancy shines through in my character Lynley’s attitude toward the coming festivities. But in the end, she learns something new, and so did I.

Cat Noel, a Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Christmas Novella

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

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

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

Praise for Cat Noel:

The little mystery was as cozy as having one my cats on my lap and a hot cup of tea close by.  It’s the purr-fect time of year to enjoy the Christmas theme. —Marci Jarvis, editor, Cat Mews

A delightfully cozy all-cats-all-the-time mystery! —Haunted Reader

 

CHRISTMAS. THE HAPPIEST TIME OF THE YEAR.

The time when we come together with friends and family in one big giving, loving celebration.

The time we put our differences aside to enjoy the season.

The time we are extra specially good to one another. Peace on Earth and all that.

So why, this Christmas, was I feeling like a cat in a thunder storm?

In spite of all outward appearances, I couldn’t help but sense something was amiss. The holiday lights flickered like horror show fluorescents just before the monster comes; the Christmas trees were crooked; the scent of gingerbread carried a trace of decay. It’s a Wonderful Life was full of commercials. Someone stabbed the snowman with a candy cane. The world was running amok.

Was it just me?

Turns out it wasn’t.

If you’re looking for a happy, feel-good Christmas story, this isn’t it. Not to say it doesn’t have its merry moments—‌it does. And at least no one gets murdered. That’s a relief, right?

It was a learning experience, and in the end… well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

It began one week before Christmas…

 

Chapter 1

“…Sleigh bells ring. Are you listening?

“On the street, snow is glistening.

“La da-de-da-da, da-de-da-da…”

Rats, I thought to myself, now I’ll have that song stuck in my head all day long.

It’s not that I have anything against Christmas, not really. Aside from the commercialism, stress, expense, the social pressure… but I digress. It’s just a song. A good old song. Maybe if I changed the words to something more cat-centric, I might be better able to relate:

Time to eat… Are you listening?

In the bowl, food is glistening.

Pet me pet me, pet me pet me,

Now I’m going to bite your hand…

My name is Lynley Cannon, and as you may have guessed, I am a cat person. From an early age, I was captivated by their mystical eyes, their soft fur, and their indomitable feline presence. I believe cats have a lot to add to human society; they have things to teach us if we would just curl up and listen. Now in my sixties, I happily devote much of my time to cats, volunteering at the local shelter, fostering the sick ones, and catering to the whims of my own clowder. Some think it’s an obsession, but I find it more of a calling.

Today was to be dedicated to cats. I’d signed up for a morning shift at Friends of Felines, and in the afternoon, I planned to do some Christmas shopping for my kitties. With only seven days until Christmas, I’d better get on it before it was too late.

Arriving at the shelter, I came through the big main doors to admire the pandemonium of decorations in the lobby. The large, spacious room had been transformed into a feline fairyland with twinkling lights and sparkly red and green streamers cascading from the mezzanine. A huge living fir tree stood tall beside the admittance desk, its fragrant limbs decked with photos of the shelter cats, their Cat-mas wish lists printed on the back. Under the tree lay cases of cans, bags of kibble, boxes of litter, beds, and toys galore. It made me smile to see how big-hearted people could be during the holidays. Hopefully they would remember to carry their generosity into the year ahead.

Front and center was a poster advertising the upcoming holiday fundraiser gala, the Starry Nights Fête. The artist had done a superb job of conveying the enchantment of the season with a pair of stylized kitties ballroom dancing across a field of silver-speckled indigo. As head of the fête committee, I had commissioned the poster myself and was more than happy with the results.

I spent a few minutes enjoying the friendly ambiance, then headed for the cattery. The fresh, airy space was quiet, with only a single volunteer helping an adopter choose a cat and a staff member munching a white-iced cookie at her desk in the office. After a brief hello, I set to work cleaning litter boxes for the forty-some feline residents. The rhythm of scoop, dump, scoop was almost hypnotic as I went from kennel to kennel. I even began humming a little tune.

“…Sleigh bells ring…”

Rats! I was doing it again. I sang a few bars of Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life, Da dum ba-dum ba-dum ba-dum…” to offset the Christmas jingle.

Just as I’d disposed of the last bit of refuse and was about to take the dirty pans to be sanitized, I heard a commotion behind me. I turned to see Special Agent Connie Lee blast into the room, a frantic look on her face. She stared around, then raced to one of the unused computer stations and began to type like a squirrel.

Special Agent Lee was one of three humane investigators who worked out of Northwest Humane Society. Known to the community as animal cops, they educated the public on proper pet care and handled cases of abuse and neglect—‌over a thousand call-ins a year! Thankfully many of the calls came to nothing—‌an overly-concerned neighbor of a barking dog or a lady with what someone considered to be too many cats. But when it was the real thing, the special agents could, ‌and did, ‌enforce Oregon’s animal cruelty laws to their fullest extent.

I’d brushed elbows with the substantial woman on several occasions, but aside from being vegan, Wiccan, and kind-natured, she was mostly an unknown to me. She had always struck me as someone who held her feelings close to the vest, yet here she was, gasping and swearing under her breath. This wasn’t like her at all.

“What’s up?” I asked but she ignored me, her attention riveted to the screen.

I gravitated to the counter across from her. I was hesitant to bother her yet equally as reluctant to go away and leave her in such a state. Besides, I was curious. You’d think, after all the trouble my cat-like curiosity had brought me, I’d know better. But I didn’t.

Finally Connie ceased her frenzied typing and ran a hand through her short-cropped hair. She looked up, gray eyes focusing on me as if she had just then realized I was there.

“Well, this is a sad state of affairs,” she announced gloomily.

“Is everything okay?”

“Not okay,” she declared, her voice low and gravely. “Definitely not okay. My friend’s cat is missing.”

“Oh, no! Is it microchipped?”

“Yeah. I was just looking through the lost and found database, but she hasn’t been recovered. Her name is Isis—‌like the goddess, not the terrorist group.”

“How long has she been gone?” I asked, trying to call up all the helpful information one was supposed to offer on such a dreadful occasion.

“I’m not sure. A while now. I just found out about it,” Connie grumbled, adding sarcastically, “My friend thought it best not to tell me, a trained humane investigator.” She gave a big sigh and hung her head. “Maybe she was right. For all my training, I’m coming up with an absolute zero. Isis is still missing and I’m panicking like a newbie.” Resigned, she sat back in the office chair. “I don’t know what to do.”

I came around and put a hand on her broad shoulder. “I’m sure you’re doing everything you can, Connie. It isn’t easy. Isis is probably frightened to death and hiding. When cats don’t want to be found, it’s really hard to find them.”

“I know. I’m just scared for her. It’s been raining, and now they say it’s going to freeze. Isis is an indoor cat. The city’s so dangerous. And besides…”

I waited for Connie to finish, but instead, she bent forward and began another rampage on the keyboard. Adjusting my glasses, I watched as screen after screen of stray cats popped up. Finally the photo of a chocolate-point Siamese filled the monitor. The banner across the bottom read: Isis, Siamese 13 yr. 9#, Dominant color: tan, Other color: brown, Distinctive markings: face mask shaped like a heart, Lost December 10, Owner: Catherine Bremerton-Black.

“She’s beautiful,” I remarked. I said the same of all cats and truly meant it, but this one was really unique. The picture had been taken in a relaxed atmosphere. The blue eyes were soft and trust-filled; the ears were straight. She had tilted her face lovingly for the camera and curved her lips in a smile. Something about Isis called to my heart, the thought of her out on her own, breaking it.

“Poor sweetie” I whispered. “But this says she’s been missing for three days.”

“Yeah,” Connie snorted. “As I was saying, my friend neglected to tell me until today.”

“Do you think something’s happened to her? I mean, beyond the usual got-out-got-lost scenario?”

Connie wavered, then a look cold as steel fell across her face. “Yeah, I do.”

“She is gorgeous. If someone saw her and thought she was valuable…”

“She’s pretty, for sure, but there’s more.” Connie eyed me, as if assessing whether she could trust me with a secret. I guess she decided she could, because the next words out of her mouth were nothing I expected to hear.

“Lynley,” she said carefully, lowering her voice to a whisper. “Isis is special. She’s a familiar.”

I knew Connie Lee was Wiccan but only because she’d mentioned it once or twice. I assumed she practiced some sort of get-‌together-‌with-‌the-‌goddess white magic thing, planting seeds and singing to the moon. Really I knew nothing about it except that Connie herself was one of the kindest, most compassionate, most intensely moral people I knew. Whatever her witchery might be, I never doubted it was securely on the side of the light.

I’d heard stories of witches keeping animals or birds—‌after all, who hasn’t read Harry Potter?—‌but as far as real life Wiccans… “A what? You mean like magic?”

“Something like that.” Connie gave a laugh but her face quickly sobered. “It’s a thing, Lynley. Wiccans bond with their familiars in a very profound way. If my friend doesn’t get Isis back before Winter Solstice Eve, the consequences will be dire.”

“Dire? I don’t understand. What happens on the solstice besides it being the longest night…?”

An explosion of static burst from Connie’s radio, drowning out my question. In a microsecond, she had the instrument off her duty belt and up to her ear. “Lee here.”

I couldn’t make out the chatter on the other end, but in another few seconds, Connie clipped, “Copy that. On my way.”

Jumping to her feet, she replaced the radio and hooked her thumbs in her belt. “Sorry, Lynley, gotta go. Hey, could you ask your cat people network to keep an eye out for Isis? Every little bit helps.”

“Sure Connie, but…”

Special Agent Lee was already on her way out the door. I never got to learn about the bond between a Wiccan and her familiar, nor did I find out what part Isis was to play in the coming solstice. And as to the dire consequences that would occur if Isis wasn’t returned in time, I was left to wander my own dark imagination.

First Chapter

 

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BOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS – YES PLEASE!

Books make great gifts!

If you’re anything like me, when someone asks what you want for Christmas, you fall into a black hole swirling with images of all the things you already have. Is there really anything that, added to that current clutter, would make your life better? The answer is, probably not.

But books are a whole other deal. Books are small and don’t take up much space. (EBooks don’t take up any.) Books don’t spoil. They don’t require assembly. Whether in your usual go-to genres or something completely different, a book is the prefect gift for all occasions.

Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

Photo by Daniel on Unsplash

Oh, so many!!

But where to start? Do you choose by the genre? The star-rating and reviews? The price? The popularity? The cover?  I hope I can help you there.

I read mostly cozy mysteries or sci-fantasy fiction, but here are a few books I’ve read lately and loved:

The Joe Grey Series, by Shirley Rousseau Murphy. “When Joe Grey finds through some strange, inexplicable phenomenon, he now has the ability to speak and understand human language, what choice does he have but become a feline detective?”

The English Cottage Garden Mysteries, by H.Y. Hanna. “She never expected to inherit an English cottage garden, complete with romantic climbing roses, scented herbs, a bossy, talkative ginger cat… and a dead body!” Hanna’s other series are fun too!

The Charlie MacCready Mysteries, by James M. McCracken. This YA series about a boy who was left at his grandparents’ home in the middle of the night when he was two, then ten years later, sent to Saint Michael’s Abbey & Home for Boys by his uncle is sweet, intriguing, and a friendly, clean read.

Sea Scope, by Debbie De Louise. “When past and present collide, Sarah must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?” De Louise has many other titles to choose from including cozies, mysteries, romance, and cat poetry!

The Calico Cat Mysteries and the Klepto Cat Series, by Patricia Fry

If you haven’t read it yet, Dune, by Frank Herbert, and even if you have…

 

Self-promo starts here…

Then there are my books. I’ve listed them here with a brief tag line. Happy browsing!

For cozy mystery fans, the Crazy Cat Lady series, 8 books featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. Pick your favorite. Each has a different theme, and books need not be read in order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventure Cat: A stolen artifact, an elfin recluse, a handsome feline archaeologist, and one very special cat…

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

Like some paranormal with your cozy? A ghost cat and a cold case murder turn a septuagenarian’s beach house dream into a nightmare in Ghost Cat of Ocean Cove.

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

For your favorite fantasy fanCat Summer, a cat sci-fantasy novel where Sentient cats save the world from an evil older than history—twice! Or try Cat Winter, where the fate of the universe rests in Slayter’s black, feline paws.

For poetry loversCat Poems: For the Love of Cats, celebrating love, loss, and life shared with the feline species. For a special gift, see Cat Poems, the Expanded Hardcover Edition, with pictures!

For fans of shorter fictionCat’s Cradle, a Crazy Cat Lady short mystery and prequel to Adventure Cat is a winner. The Dream Spinner, a short fantasy about a nursing home cat who guides the residents through their dreams and nightmares, will tickle your imagination.

All my books come in paperback and eBook format. Cats’ Eyes, Cat Café, and Cat Poems Expanded Edition also come in new Hardcover. Cats’ Eyes comes in large print as well.

Want one of my books signed and/or personalized?

You can buy directly from me by emailing molliehuntcatwriter@gmail.com with Signed Books in the subject line. $16.00 a book, which includes shipping USPS media mail. (Paperbacks only, US addresses please.)

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

Meanwhile, whether you celebrate holiday giving or merely celebrate life, enjoy your time here on Earth. Be kind, pet cats, and take care of yourself.

 

 

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WHEN IS NATIONAL BLACK CAT DAY??

My new Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery, Adventure Cat, is launching on National Black Cat Day! Or is it? When I was looking for a launch date, I checked several cat holiday websites. One listed National Black Cat Day as November 17th, a date that fit perfectly with my plans.

But wasn’t I shocked when October 27th rolled around, and my news feed was filled with furry black faces! All my knowledgeable cat fellows were celebrating National Black Cat Day in October!

I ran back to the website and looked it up again, and this is what it says:

“There is some debate among fans of felines in the United States as to the correct date of National Black Cat Day. Some of us choose to recognize August 17th as the official day to show our appreciation for our purring pals with dark fur. Feline-loving Anglophiles may opt for October 27th, the day when the UK marks its affection for black moggies, while others have declared November 17th as the date to celebrate our love for noir beauties.”  ~CatTipper

Those of us who have lived with black kitties know that every day is black cat day. So whether you celebrate in August, October, November, or all year long, keep sending positive vibes to the lovely black felines that are so often overlooked in our shelters.

And look for Adventure Cat on November 17th!

 

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