THE CATS OF LYNLEY CANNON

Dirty Harry

With a new Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery coming out this week, it’s got people wondering how many cats Lynley has in her clowder. When we first began this Crazy Cat journey with Cats’ Eyes in 2013, Lynley cohabited with six: Dirty Harry, Little, Big Red, Violet, Solo, and the foster cat Fraulein Fluffs.

~Little~

~Big Red~

~Violet~

~Solo~

~Fraulein Fluffs~

Tinkerbelle the registered therapy cat came on the scene in Copy Cats, then Lynley rescued the Siamese kitten Mab, bringing the number to eight.

~Tinkerbelle~

~Mab~

Tragedy struck offset when Fraulein Fluffs crossed between Copy Cats and Cat’s Paw. Lynley adopted Emilio form the Cloverleaf Animal Sanctuary.

~Emilio~

Lynley made it through Cat Call without any additions to the clowder but got busy again during Cat Café when she adopted a cat with Feline Cerebellar Hypoplasia, Elizabeth. Meanwhile Solo had been displaying signs of stress from all the other cats in the house and was rehomed to Lynley’s granddaughter Seleia, where Solo thrived.

~Elizabeth~

Adventure Cat brings yet another cat onboard, the kitten Spot that Lynley had rescued five years earlier in her short story Cat’s Cradle. Spot was part of a crime investigation case, so when Lynley relinquished her to Friends of Felines, she didn’t think she would ever see the paisley cat again. Turns out she was wrong. Spot, all grown up and renamed Hermione, is about to leap back into Lynley’s life in a big way.

An elfin recluse, a handsome feline archaeologist, a stolen artifact, and one very special cat…

Adventure Cat, coming November 17th.

 

 

Posted in Cats, Crazy Cat Lady cozy mysteries, My Cat Cozies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

CALM BEFORE STORMS

I’m at the beach. My only internet connection is my phone. Jaimz is purring on my lap. Jim is cooking clams he dug himself. There is a fire in the fireplace. We’re going to eat dinner, watch a movie, and go to bed to be lulled to sleep by the rain and the incoming tide

This is a good thing because once I get home in a few days, my calendar is packed.

Tuesday begins the Pretty Kitty Online Auction to benefit my local little cat shelter, House of Dreams. I’m on the committee that makes the auction happen. It’s been a good year for donations. Come look! https://facebook.com/events/s/pretty-kitty-online-silent-auc/1502659530121146/

Friday I’m doing a shift for my writer’s group NIWA at Orycon. I’ve never attended before and have no idea what to expect except it will be my first time around people for a year and a half.

During my final hour at Orycon, I’ll be joining authors who are participating in this year’s Jolabokaflod PDX on Stream Yard.

November 17th, I’m launching Adventure Cat at Gifty Kitty. Another in person event that my introverted self slightly dreads. https://fb.me/e/1a9Dapnax

It’s going to be a busy time, getting all the things together that go with those events. I’m taking total advantage of today’s peace and quiet while it lasts.

Posted in Life Through Amber | Tagged | 4 Comments

PRESS RELEASE – ADVENTURE CAT, a Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery #8

Here comes Adventure Cat!

It’s that time of year again, and I’m proud to announce the launch of the next instalment in the award-winning Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series, Adventure Cat. What’s more, after 688 days of various forms of isolation, Adventure Cat will see it’s launching in-person! That’s right. Real people gathered in one place to celebrate this new book. Needless to say we will be practicing all safety protocols, but the time has come for us to begin venturing out again. If you’re in the Portland Area on November 17th, drop by!

The launch, which will consist of a reading; some riveting history of this story;  a brilliant Q&A; and a book-signing, will take place at GiftyKitty , Portland’s newest cat-themed gift shop. Gifty Kitty is so new, in fact, that my reading is scheduled for its first opening day. Portland cat people are excited to welcome this eco-friendly & fair-trade cat themed gift shop for human cat lovers. Opening on November 17, 2021, this whimsical store will feature cat-themed hand-made items, books, artwork, ceramics, clothing and fabrics, as well as items for the cats.

The Launch, Where and When:

Where: Gifty Kitty gift shop, 3719 N Mississippi Ave. Portland OR 97227.

When: National Black Cat Day, Wednesday November 17th, 2021

About Adventure Cat, from the back cover: 

Five years ago, cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon discovered a gym bag in a warehouse. Inside the bag were a kitten, a cat toy, and ten thousand dollars. Then shots began to fly. Now, half a decade later, Lynley is thrown back with the very people from whom she’d been running.

Adventure cats, those fantastic felines who go boating, hiking, and traveling into the wilds! When Friends of Felines cat shelter starts their own adventure cat group, taking cats for strolls in the quiet parks of Portland, Lynley can’t wait to join up.

Then disaster happens! Dirty Harry slips out of his harness and runs up the Mt. Tabor hillside, leading Lynley on a merry chase. Finally she finds him resting in the arms of an enigmatic stranger named Carry.

Carry lives a solitary life in a bungalow at the top of the hill, surrounded by an amazing red-foliaged garden. Carry has a cat of her own, the very kitten Lynley rescued five years previous and been shot at for the effort! Suddenly Lynley finds herself embroiled in the caper that precipitated that long-ago encounter. She survived the first round, but can her luck continue to hold?

An elfin recluse, a handsome feline archaeologist, a stolen artifact, and one very special cat…

Adventure Cat is available from Amazon in ebook and paperback form beginning November 17, 2021.. Preorders available for the ebook.

But wait, there’s more!

Adventure Cat is actually a sequel to the short Crazy Cat Lady story, Cat’s Cradle. I’ll be reading from both, as well as hosting a raffle for a signed copy of the pair.

About Cat’s Cradle:

Shots fly when Lynley attempts to rescue a kitten from a vacant warehouse.

Cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon knows when a cat is in trouble, so when she hears plaintive mews coming from a gym bag in a vacant warehouse, she runs to the rescue. Lynley isn’t the only one after that bag, however. As shots fly, Lynley and Kitten run for their lives in this Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery short story.

So get vaccinated, get boosters, wash your hands, grab your cat-print face mask, and join me for National Black Cat Day (US) at the new Gifty Kitty for an evening to remember.

Posted in Crazy Cat Lady cozy mysteries, Events, Giveaways, My Cat Cozies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A HEARTFELT THANK YOU TO THE CAT WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION

THE CAT WRITERS CONFERENCE: WINS, LOSSES, AND LESSONS LEARNED

Last night, I wore my mother’s red satin blouse for luck. Well, for luck and because of the fact it was the only thing with bling that still fit. Even without the pandemic, my dress-up days are years behind me, but pajamas just wouldn’t do for the Cat Writers Association Awards Ceremony.

Little did I know when I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. yesterday that this one day would have more ups and downs, thrills and spills, sadness and joy than any other of recent memory. It was the final day of the Cat Writers’ Association Conference. The first day had been packed with an amazing set of presenters speaking on the subjects of cat and cat creativity, and this one promised to be the same. But, as with any virtual conference, there turned out to be a few fleas in the fur. I quickly fed the cats, made a cup of coffee, sat down to watch the opening comments, and… nothing!

We could see our pretty past president giving her talk, but no sound! The chat at the side was filled with people like me, frustrated with not being able to hear what she was saying. Then when it seemed the problem wasn’t going to be fixed any time soon, we started posting pictures of our cats. Yes, that’s what cat people do.

I was excitedly looking forward to the first session of the day, a presentation by Sterling “Trapking” Davis, when I noticed I had an email. I opened it, and my heart fell. It was news of the death of one of our most celebrated cat writers, Carole Nelson Douglas. I’d recently met Carole when we were doing some Zoom author panels together. She was vibrant, enthusiastic, and still working hard on a new set of her famous Midnight Louie books. She was due for a major surgery though. She died of a complication from that surgery.

Carole’s passing was a tragic shock, and not just a personal loss, but a loss to CWA. How was the conference going to acknowledge this sad event in the middle of their happy celebration? Thankfully I had my CWA sisters to “talk” to, and we emailed back and forth, sharing our sorrow and loss.

Meanwhile the conference was continuing. The Trapking was up and… still no sound!!

After a while, they managed to get the sound back on, but now, no picture! Just a black screen. Sterling didn’t miss a beat, however. He gave his presentation, answered questions from the chat bar, and put his slideshow in the handouts area where we could download it for later viewing. His talk was absolutely inspirational, and I encourage every cat person, especially those interested in TNR, to look him up. If you have children or enjoy children’s books yourself as I do, check out Sterling’s book, Marvin: Trap King for a Day, where a young boy has the adventure of his life when he rescues a baby kitten from the creek at a neighborhood park and is crowned Trap King for a Day. (No, I’m not getting paid for the shout-out. I just like the book.)

After the Trapking, the next presenters came on with no technical problems, and the conference continued as planned.  Keynote Speaker Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther was gracious and inspiring with her “Renew, Reclaim and Reinvent: Staying Relevant & Staying Alive in Changing Times” address. Steve Dale,  pet expert, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and well-known public speaker, gave two presentations, a very informative talk on how cats hide their pain (I loved the title: “For Me to Know and For You Never to Find Out.” Doesn’t that just describe cats in pain?), as well as a piece on the EveryCat Health Foundation, formerly the Winn Feline Foundation, who have, for over 50 years, worked tirelessly on cat health research and advanced feline medicine. Did you know this foundation discovered the link between heart problems and taurine deficiency in cats? Established that kittens benefitted from early spay/neutering as opposed to the previously accepted 6 months? Put forth a more efficient treatment for diabetic cats? Have made amazing strides in the treatment of FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis), formerly a death sentence to cats? Thank you, Steve Dale and the EveryCat Health Foundation!

The day went quickly. Other sessions on making phone videos, publishing a print book, and jumpstarting creativity culminated with closing statements from our president Paula Gregg.  Then, when it was all over, the time had come to get dressed up and ready for the CWA Awards Ceremony.

I was to give a special tribute award to CWA founding member Shirley Rousseau Murphy, something I had spearheaded from the beginning, and I’d also volunteered to help present some of the Muse Medallion awards, which meant I would be on screen twice. I was nervous, tossing around possible items to wear that would look good from the shoulders up. A low neckline would make me look naked, something no one wants to see from a seventy-year-old woman. Patterned fabric would be too busy. My glittery cat ears, a must for the CWA event, were pink, so I needed something that didn’t clash. That’s when I decided upon the red blouse.

It must have been half a century since my mother had worn it, yet she had kept it to the end, and when I inherited her things, I kept it too. I think I remember her wearing it, or maybe it was a photo. Yes, that was the perfect thing for tonight’s exciting yet nerve-wracking event.

I was to present Shirley Murphy with her achievement award at approximately the middle of the ceremony. I had a little speech, on which I’d toiled for the past month. (I can write a 300-page book, but a 3-paragraph announcement baffles me!) The CWA had also purchased a beautiful, engraved crystal vase that I would be displaying. I’d been in communication with Shirley, making sure she had the link to watch the awards, and it looked like everything was set. Then right before the event, she emailed me to say she’d fallen and been taken to hospital—she wouldn’t be able to view the show after all! Thankfully the ceremony was presented on Youtube, so she would be able to view it at another time, but after the heartbreak of Carole’s passing, the thought of this older woman having a debilitating fall was frightening.

Still, the show must go on.

The CWA Awards Ceremony is the culmination of a rigorous contest where the entries that won a Certificate of Excellence in the first round of judging now compete with others for the ultimate prize in each category, the Muse Medallion. There are 92 categories that cover a wide range of cat-themed creativity. I had entered the contest myself, and one of my entries, Cat Winter, my sci-fantasy novel, had received a COE. so now, not only was I going to be on stage presenting awards and hoping I pronounced people’s names right, I was up for a prize of my own!

Long story short, I didn’t win. The award went to another author whom the judges deemed deserved it more. As a judge myself, (not in categories I’ve entered, of course) I respected their judgement, but like all losses, I was disappointed. I still had a chance, however. I’d also entered in some of the special award categories sponsored by various people and businesses. Maybe one of them will have been moved by my work.

After the Muses had been awarded, I gave my tribute to Shirley, not nearly as smoothly as I would have liked in spite of numerous practice runs. I hoped I hadn’t sounded too much like a tomcat howling at the night, but there was no taking it back, and the ceremony moved on to the next event.

Though I had no more part in the remainder of the evening’s show, I was still watching from backstage. I could see myself in a little box in the corner. Did I really look as old and disheveled as it seemed? I was tired. It had been long hours for days and even months to help get this conference happening. I had other obligations as well: the House of Dreams online auction to benefit a little local shelter, a book launch in November with all the promo that comes with it. This was on top of continuing my three ongoing series. Yup, I was tired and planned to rest heartily once the conference was over. I contemplated putting my feet up and taking off my cat ears right there and then—after all, I wasn’t to appear again, but something stayed my hand.

Many of the special awards focus on a single aspect of cats and cat care, such as kitten care, cat safety, relationship with a veterinarian, and rescue. These subjects attract mostly non-fiction entries, but there is one category open to fiction in all forms—the World’s Best Cat Litter-ary Award, offered by World’s Best Cat Litter. I had entered Cat Winter in this category. I was competing with several other entries, and I had no idea what they were—other books? Stories? Articles? Poems? But I held my breath as the winner was announced, the agonizing, “And the winner is…

It was me! It was my book! As the presenter read the judge’s comments, I was taken aback at how well she’d understood the underlying meaning of this sci-fantasy story where cats save the world.

Since I was backstage, they popped me onscreen. Now I was glad I’d left those cat ears on!

After that, I did put my feet up, proud my book was, if not a Muse winner, still a winner after all. That’s not why I write, but after investing endless hours of work in isolation, the acknowledgement can’t help but be gratifying.

We were nearing the end of the program—only the three special-special awards to go. The Shojai Mentorship award, the David Brim Distinguished Service award, and the CWA President’s Award, an overall top award presented to the best entry among all Muse Medallion winners in the regular contest categories. The two namesake awards are picked from nominations sent in by CWA members. Since I hadn’t mentored anyone, done anything I considered distinguishing, or won a Muse, I expected only to be celebrating the achievements of others.

As one of the Council of Directors, I had voted on the recipient of the Shojai award, so it didn’t come as a surprise when that person won. I hadn’t been asked to vote on the David Brim award, however…

Here is the description from the CWA website: This award is presented in honor of CWA co-founder Michael Brim. It goes to the person who, by word, deed, public communication, and professional excellence, best promotes the ideals, mission, and best interest of the Cat Writers’ Association. The award honors extraordinary achievement and communications excellence. The winner receives his or her name engraved on a permanent commemorative plaque at the offices of the Cat Fanciers’ Association Foundation. It is judged by the CWA Council of Directors.

“And the winner is…”

Suddenly a headshot of me with my cat Tinkerbelle went up on the screen. My first response was disbelief, followed closely by the thought that it must be a mistake. I didn’t deserve it. I hadn’t done anything to earn such a prestigious award.

I’d been nominated by fellow member Leah Alford whose wonderful book, Catwoods, won a Muse Medallion the year before. She had written eloquently of the reasons why I should be given this recognition, citing my cat work with volunteering, fostering, and having a therapy cat, as well as my writing about cats. As I listened to her list of praises, I felt like an imposter. Though everything she said was true, I’d done it, as cat people do, not for applause or acclaim, but for the cats. Even as I write this now, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone would see those works as exceptional.

Again they flashed me on the screen. I tried my best to look like a grateful and surprised recipient. I was a grateful and surprised recipient, but I was in shock. In real life, I’m not very expressive. I’ve often thought if I were arrested for a crime (this is how mystery writers think, BTW) that the police would automatically suspect my guilt because of my default deadpan expression. But I managed a little bow and a smile for the audience. In my mind, I was saying, “I love you all!”

Since I’m on the West Coast, it was still early when the awards ceremony ended, but to me, it felt like midnight. For a little while, a few of us lingered backstage, wishing we could go out for that celebratory drink as we had back in the old days when events were in-person. Then, one by one, we clicked off and went our separate ways in our separate parts of the country.

Suddenly I found myself alone in my office, staring at the screen. I turned off my computer, so done with the internet for the day! As I looked at my reflection in that blank, black square, I saw a tired by happy woman in pink cat ears and a lucky red blouse from my mother.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in CAT WRITERS, Life Through Amber, memoir, Sci-fi & Fantasy, Writing | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

WHY EVERY WRITER SHOULD DO NaNoWriMo—AND WHY THEY SHOULDN’T

It’s nearly November,

…also known to writers and would-be writers as NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. While others will be frolicking in the golden leaves and readying for the holidays, a few of us will be hiding at our workstations, in our offices, or at the kitchen table frantically typing our requisite 50,000 words.

What the *bleep* is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is best known for its annual creative writing event in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript in just one month. Writing so much so fast does not come naturally to many of us, but it can be a useful experience. It forces the writer to get their head out of editing mode and focus on the story progression. No, you won’t end up in December with a fully-fledged and salable novel, but then even the most meticulous self-editors don’t a first draft.

NaNoWriMo taught me…

I’ve only done NaNoWriMo once, a fantasy novel/memoir I called CatWoman: A Journey. I was working full-time as a medical scanner at the time and have no idea how I succeeded to write CatWoman on top of that, but I did. I was driven by the story, which is a normal process for me, but because I only had one month to get everything down from beginning to end, I had to write at warp speed. This method had the side effect of producing an almost ethereal consciousness of plot. I was constantly barraged by inspiration, thoughts from far outside the box. Unquestioning, I wrote them, and CatWoman turned into a thing of terrible beauty.

Still, there was a point at the beginning where I nearly gave up. The pace was grueling, and I was certain that when I finished and read it over, it would be no good. Would I ever recover from writing a novel of shit? Could I trust myself to start a new story after doing such a bad job with this one?

I could have listened to that inner voice and saved myself a lot of time and trouble, but then CatWoman would never have matured. To have written it any other way, it would not have been the same. Though I have yet, some years later, to revise CatWoman: A Journey into a real book, I was happy with my result. To note, I’ve not been tempted to do NaNo again.

So if you are ready to test yourself in a new way, to dive into the unknown, to take a chance on failure as well as success, get ready to roll November 1st.

If you feel at all fragile or like your writing self can’t gamble on something absurd, you might want to wait. There will be another chance—after all, November, and NaNoWriMo, comes around every year.

From the NaNoWriMo Website:

“Every story matters. Let’s start writing yours.

Writing a novel alone can be difficult, even for seasoned writers. NaNoWriMo helps you track your progress, set milestones, connect with other writers in a vast community, and participate in events that are designed to make sure you finish your novel. Oh, and best of all, it’s free!”

Resources:

NaNoWriMo Website: https://nanowrimo.org/

NaNoWriMo Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/nanowrimo/

NaNoWriMo on Twitter: @NaNoWriMo

From Wikipedia:

“National Novel Writing Month (often shortened to NaNoWriMo, is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that promotes creative writing around the world. Its flagship program is an annual, international creative writing event in which participants attempt to write a 50,000-word manuscript during the month of November. Well-known authors write “pep-talks” in order to motivate participants during the month. The website provides participants, called “Wrimos”, with tips for writer’s block, information on where local participants are meeting, and an online community of support. Focusing on the length of a work rather than the quality, writers are encouraged to finish their first draft quickly so that it can later be edited at the author’s discretion. The project started in July 1999 with 21 participants. In 2019, 455,080 participated in the organization’s programs.”

 

 

 

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FIRST CHAPTERS: Copy Cats

Copy Cats is the second Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, which I began to write soon after my publishing success with Cats’ Eyes. By this time, I had a few four-and five-star reviews under my belt, and was enthused about seeing what Lynley could get up to next. The idea of a cat shelter volunteer character created so many possibilities! It was hard to narrow things down to one subject alone.

I had recently attended a class in pet communication, and though, like Lynley, it didn’t instantly turn me into a cat psychic, I saw its place among the mysteries that are cat. When a cat comes into the shelter with obvious story to tell, but they’re stray so there’s nothing to go on, we all wish there was a magical portal to see into their brains. There are a few special people can can.

Add a cat counterfeiting ring and a serial killer who murders with a cat-like claw, and you have Copy Cats, book 2 of the Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series.

Copy Cats, , the 2nd Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery

If your cat told you there was murder afoot, would you believe him? When cat-lady Lynley Cannon attends a workshop on animal communication– the psychic kind– she never guesses it could lead to a scheme both conniving and deadly. Someone in Portland is counterfeiting show cats, but that’s not the worst of it. Their techniques are savage and abusive, and Lynley must find the culprits before they do more harm. To compound matters, there’s a serial killer on the loose, mangling his victims with a gruesome cat-like claw. The crimes are connected, taking crazy to a whole new level.

Praise for Copy Cats:

Great cat crime story! Mollie Hunt is a true cat lover who understands cats and writes about them beautifully. Her stories are captivating, with both suspense but also humour. I discovered Mollie Hunt’s books only recently and I am so glad I did! I read a lot of cat crime novels and I can say Mollie Hunt is one of the best authors.  — Reader, UK

I love that in the beginning of every chapter Hunt gives the reader some cat knowledge, whether it is something regarding Siamese cats and their purebred status to the finicky way a tortoise cat acts……it is always interesting information. — Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

THE ROOM WAS SILENT. Not a breath, not a sneeze, not a cell phone ping sounded throughout the crowd. Attention focused on the woman on the dais as though she were the only star in the sky.

In a high-backed antique wing chair, its gold brocade at odds with the austerity of the convention room, she sat like a rock star queen. A single spot shone down on her generous proportions.

Her eyes were closed.

In her hand, she held a photograph.

 

Chapter 1

I am the crazy cat lady, but I’m not quite crazy yet.

Basically I’m just a lady who likes cats.

And has several cats.

And volunteers at a cat shelter.

And fosters sick cats.

Well, you get the picture, but I don’t see how any of that makes me certifiable and certainly not nuts enough to believe one session with a pet psychic could break open a plot of abuse, perversion and brutal murder. Ask my friends, though I’ll admit they may be a bit biased, being mostly cat people, too. They’ll tell you I went into this with only the best intentions. I had no idea at the time where it would lead or I would never have gotten involved. But I did and once in I had to see it through. As with cats, curiosity trumps my better judgment every time.

I don’t know what I expected when I signed up for the Animal Communications Conference and Advanced Workshop given by the preeminent icon of pet whisperers, la Zoe. A little fun, some light entertainment. Not that I don’t believe humans can commune with their animal companions—I do. I talk to cats all the time, and usually they talk back, but it’s all pretty basic. I guess I just wanted to know if there were more to it than feed me, pet me, and whatever do you think you’re doing? if I didn’t perform the previous in a timely manner. An insight into feline philosophy, for instance? Or a catly consensus on world events? Maybe they could tell me the secrets of the universe, or even why they prefer one litter over another—that would be convenient.

Yes, animal communication would be a handy trick, though at the time I didn’t hold out much hope of ever mastering it. And it certainly never crossed my mind that if I did, I might learn things I’d rather not know.

My name is Lynley Cannon, daughter of Carol Mackey, grandmother of Seleia Voxx, “mom” of Dirty Harry, Big Red, Solo, Little, Violet, Fraulein Fluffs, and my new and wonderful family member, Tinkerbelle. Those last seven are cats. I have a human daughter too, but when it comes to Lisa, I get along better with the cats.

I’m a busy person in spite of the fact that I’m nearing sixty. Sixty! It sounds so old! Except for the aches, pains, and intermittent memory loss, I don’t feel like a senior citizen in the throes of my golden years. The autumn of my life—what crap! Of course my father said the same thing when he turned eighty. Eighty—now that’s old!

Cats don’t care how old you are. They don’t look at your time-ravaged body, your wrinkling face, drying skin, gnarled knuckles, or veined hands. In fact, I believe they prefer older people. Less drama, less fear. It’s true that cats can smell fear and it irritates them. They would much rather smell nice calm happy emotions, the ones they can take a nap on.

I spend a lot of time with cats. Some might think that’s a bad thing, but my friends take it for granted. Besides caring for my own little clowder, I volunteer at Friends of Felines in my spare time, and since I’m retired, that means nearly every day. FOF, as we affectionately call it, is a small not-for-profit no-kill state-of-the-art cat haven. Built with love, sweat, tears, and many generous donation dollars, I am proud to say it’s become a model for shelters all over the United States.

I find peace helping those homeless sweethearts transition to their new lives in caring homes. Why people give up their pets I will never understand. Oh, yes, I’ve heard all the reasons, and some are certainly valid. Death, for instance. And illness. Homelessness is a new one that we’re seeing more and more these days. But excuses such as it got too old or it isn’t cute anymore just make my hackles rise. To me, a pet is a life-long commitment, like a child, only pets don’t grow up and go off to college; they stay and you love them. That’s all there is to it.

And that brings up another reason I’d been looking forward to the Animal Communication Seminar. A good percentage of FOF’s guests were strays with secret stories of the streets; many a time I’d wished they could tell me what happened out there to make them skittish or fearful or mad. Maybe with la Zoe’s professional instruction, I might finally be able to find out. My motives were innocent, I swear. There was no sense of doom, no inner alarms going off. I didn’t hear angels or see fairies or feel as if I were in the Time Tunnel. How could I have known that those few hours were going to change my life?

* * *

I may be a crazy cat lady, but I wasn’t the only one there by a long shot. Cat daddies, dog dopes, bird buddies, gerbil guys—they all were drawn, just like me, to see the queen of pet communications. Most had come for the show, but an elite few would go on to a special session with la Zoe, herself. Frannie and I were to be among those few.

Frannie also volunteered at Friends of Felines where we had met several years back. We had developed an instant rapport, though to this day I don’t know what she does when she’s not socializing stray cats, cleaning out litter boxes, and performing the many ordinary tasks that make a shelter run. We often got together for drinks after our shifts, her place or mine, but our chit-chat rarely veered far from the day’s work which both of us found to be infinitely interesting.

Frannie DeSoto is an amazing person. Though roughly my age, she has the air of a twenty-year-old. She is meticulous with hair and make-up, and whether she is volunteering at the shelter or attending a formal dinner, the platinum curls are always perfect, the bright pink lipstick never smudged or faded, and the nail gloss which invariably matches her whimsical eye shadow, sans chip or crack. I don’t have a clue how she does it. My look tends toward the opposite: hair springing into a mess of gray-red snarls the minute I walk out the salon door, and aside from a little lip color of a nondescript plum, I don’t wear make-up so that’s that.

After la Zoe’s introduction to Mindfulness and a short autobiographical narrative, the seer was scheduled to do actual readings from the audience. Everyone had brought a photograph or two in hopes of being chosen, and Frannie was one of the lucky ones. She was as excited as a kitten, which was cute to see on someone of retirement age. I was happy for her. She hadn’t had a cat for as long as I’d known her because her apartment building didn’t allow them, so the photo of the smiling tabby had to go back a ways. La Zoe claimed she could speak to the dead so it wouldn’t be a problem.

Frannie nudged me. “Teasel’s up next,” she whispered rapturously. “Finally la Zoe will be able to tell me how my baby’s doing up in Kitty Heaven.”

I nodded, examining the woman on stage into whom Frannie was pouring her utter faith. She was large, manly even, reminding me vaguely of Darcelle, the famous Portland female impersonator. The long, concealing robes were classic gold; the unnaturally red hair was piled on top her head like a raspberry ice cream cone. I quashed a surge of skepticism; after all, if I had wanted to be cynical about the presentation, I could have stayed home and saved myself a hundred bucks.

We waited patiently for the spiritualist to finish up her current reading, a heart-wrenching attempt to locate a lost dog. Though la Zoe had found the pup’s energy and could attest to the fact that he was alive, his thoughts told her little that would help with the rescue since the dog himself had no concept of where he was. Even la Zoe was helpless in this situation; the best she could do was to send calming thoughts and assurance that his family would never stop searching.

“I am sorry,” la Zoe said in a sonorous voice that could have belonged to James Earl Jones. “Your Max is out there. He is healthy but afraid. Do not give up hope.” She smiled broadly, a grin worthy of a Denobulan.

The couple who occupied the chairs next to the dais stood. Zoe handed the photograph to the man, then he and his wife shuffled somberly back to their seats among the audience.

The communicator took another picture from a neat pile on the little table next to her. “And now,” she drawled, “Teasel.”

She held the glossy page to her forehead for a moment—again I fought down the urge to scoff—then studied it intensely. “Ah. This one has crossed Beyond. Some time ago?” Her eyes grazed the room until they lit on Frannie. “Come up, my dear. Contacting those on the other side is always a bit bewildering for them. Teasel will need you close.”

Frannie rose and scooched down our row. Though no one would guess from her confident demeanor, I knew she was scared. We had talked in depth before the program about animal communication, specifically communication with the dead. At the time I hadn’t known she planned to submit her own passed puss for the reading. Now all those metaphysical debates, those half-formed thoughts, those dreams and nightmares we discussed made sense. Like myself, Frannie wasn’t sure people could actually commune with their dead pets, but I guess she figured it couldn’t hurt to try.

Frannie nodded a courtly hello to la Zoe, then sat down in the hot seat.

“I must have complete silence for this reading,” the seer announced. “This is the most difficult of all contact. The thread to the Beyond is tenuous. So much as a sigh and it can be broken, just like that!” She snapped her pudgy fingers.

The room hushed; everyone held their breath.

“Teasel,” the physic crooned.

The silence reverberated.

It dragged out into a void of forever.

Then, finally and with great satisfaction, la Zoe smiled.

“She is here!”

* * *

“Wow! That was amazing,” I said to Frannie as we sat in the lounge having a much-needed cup of coffee.

Frannie was silent.

“Are you okay?”

She nodded slowly. “I think about her all the time, you know. It’s been nine years since Teasel—what did la Zoe call it? Crossed Beyond?”

I took a sip of my coffee. It was strong and lip-burning, just the way I liked it. “What did you think of the reading?” I said carefully.

Frannie’s big eyes gleamed. “Everything she told us was right on. About the way Teasel meows when she yawns. And how she follows wherever I go. Followed,” she revised somberly. “I still miss her. Teasel was the reason I started volunteering at the shelter, you know.”

“She must be very proud of you.”

Frannie gave me a quizzical look. “You don’t think la Zoe was making it all up, do you?”

I paused. That was a tough one. Actually I still had my doubts, but Frannie was so happy to hear from her long-dead kit, I didn’t want to step on her high. I was saved from my dilemma by the clear ping of a prayer bell. It pinged two more times—the summons to la Zoe’s private session.

“Maybe we’re about to find out.”

* * *

We picked our way into a small conference room. A dozen chairs were arranged in a horseshoe with what had to be the queen’s throne, a particularly large office chair, occupying the gap. Frannie and I took seats, and I looked around for somewhere to put my stuff. Finally for lack of a better idea, I shoved my laptop and purse under the chair. I saw others coming to the same conclusion, stowing books and carryalls underneath, then awkwardly balancing computers, notebooks, or in some cases, old-fashioned pen and paper on their laps. I wondered at the lack of desks but had a feeling it was all part of the show.

A door opened on the far side of the room and in swept la Zoe. Her heavy robes rustled as she smiled and nodded to her much-diminished audience. Then without ado, she unzipped the front of her drape and shrugged out of the voluminous sleeves. Underneath she wore jeans and a Humane Society of the United States tee shirt, well worn, fading, with a few tiny holes at the hem. She undid the pins that held her red bird’s nest of hair and shook it out as if shaking of the regal persona.

“That is better,” she said, her deep, formal voice unchanged. “Now, are you ready to learn the secrets of life?”

There were titters and a cough.

“No, I am serious. Psychic communication is innate in all beings; it is merely locked away from our outward sight.” She paused and looked around the class expectantly.

“I don’t understand,” said a young woman.

“That is alright, you will. Put away your writing gear, you are not going to need it.”

There was the murmur of confusion, but eventually most everyone complied.

“Put away your pen, sir,” she told a young man who was holding on to the implement for dear life.

“But, ma’am,” he stuttered. “How am I supposed to take notes?”

“You will not be needing notes. Your heart will remember.”

“But… what if it doesn’t?” he persevered.

“Then it was not meant to be,” she flipped. “What I am about to tell you comes from inside. No amount of notation can help you if you cannot accept that.”

She bent down to reach into a banker’s box beside her chair and pulled out an oversized paperback book packaged in plastic. “But if you are still unclear at the end of the session, you may purchase my book for a nominal fee. I will autograph it for you.” Again she laughed. “Trust me, all will become clear once you begin to listen.”

As with her first session, she began with a meditation, then moved on to a deep breathing exercise and a game of toss where we worked with a partner—to clear our chakras, she told us. After we’d had a few laughs chasing neon Nerf balls around the conference room, we got down to business.

I can’t tell you the rest of what happened because, like the magician’s assistant, we were sworn to secrecy. I wondered about the analogy at the time. La Zoe was right about one thing though: we didn’t need to take notes. Everything that went on in that room that day is seared into my memory for life. I will never forget it, no matter how much I wish I could.

 

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8 of the Most Common Mistakes Cat Owners Make (And How to Solve Them) KATZENWORLD

I am reblogging an article from the Katzenworld Blogsite that I found most informative. In 8 of the Most Common Mistakes Cat Owners Make (And How to Solve Them), cat aficionado Marc-Andre gets right to the heart of issues common to cat owners/companions, both newbies and pros. I, myself, was reminded as I read that it’s time for my cat’s dental. Dental hygiene is important for my cats’ wellbeing. It’s expensive and invasive, but can save a cat’s life.

Read this over, especially if you are planning on adopting a new cat. Send it to your friends who may not be as cat-savvy as you. Too many people are seduced by kitten eyes without having a clue as to the care and commitment involved in the full life of that cat. An article like this one can save those people a lot of time and stress.

Source: 8 of the Most Common Mistakes Cat Owners Make (And How to Solve Them)

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BOOK REVIEW: THE BLACK CAT WHO ONLY WANTED TO BE LOVED

 

 

 

The Black Cat Who Only Wanted to be Loved: A Sad Cat Story with a Happy Ending, by Rosa Silva

From Amazon: Black cats mean bad luck… or do they?

Abandoned by his owner on the side of a road, little Pepper must go on a journey of self-discovery. Will the little black cat embrace his own identity, or will he change the color of his fur to find a family that will love him?

You will love this touching and inspiring story about the power of friendship and the importance of acceptance and self-love.

My Review: A gentle and kind tale of acceptance and love.

The title says it: The Black Cat who Only Wanted to be Loved. It’s a plight all cat people are familiar with, the stigma and superstition that goes along with black cats, making them harder to adopt out of shelters.

Silva’s story starts with a couple and a conflict: The wife loves her black cat Pepper, but the husband blames the cat for his run of bad luck. Heartlessly, the husband dumps little Pepper far away from his home. Pepper’s subsequent adventures in the new neighborhood keep the reader on their toes. Pepper overcomes fears, makes friends, and learns lessons, ones we would all be better off practicing ourselves.

About the author: Rosa Silva is an author and a self-confessed book nerd with a soft spot for cats. She lives in Portugal, where she shares her home with (surprisingly) just one cat. Find Rosa at catladyconfidential.com.

 

 

 

 

Purchase links: The Black Cat Who Only Wanted to be Loved, available as ebook and paperback.

For more by Rosa Silva: https://www.amazon.com/Rosa-Silva/e/B07D3WRNHZ/

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MOLLIE HUNT, CAT WRITER

Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer

Love cats, write mysteries.

Writer: I create and share cat stories that help to better understand the nature of cats.

Cat Lady: Not quite crazy yet.

Introvert: How else does a person hole up all by themselves to play in their imagination?

Wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, cousin, friend, daughter, grand daughter: I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

Believes in miracles.

 

Cat Writer Mollie Hunt is the award-winning author of two cozy series, the Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries and the Tenth Life Mysteries. Her Cat Seasons Sci-Fantasy Tetralogy features extraordinary cats saving the world. Mollie also pens a bit of cat poetry.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, the Cat Writers’ Association, and Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like her cat lady character, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.

Thanks for dropping by. You can reach me at: MollieHuntCatWriter@gmail.com

Mollie’s Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/molliehunt

Mollie’s Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/MollieHuntCatWriter/

Twitter: @MollieHuntCats

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IT’S NEARLY THAT TIME AGAIN! THIS YEAR ORDER EARLY!

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Yes, folks. It’s that time again!

It rolls around every year just after Labor Day. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve probably already seen it in the stores and on TV. The Holiday Season! It will be here before you know it.

Now that we’re vaccinated, we are beginning to plan holiday get togethers. Some of us greet the season with joy, and others, with dread, but no matter how you look at it, it’s real and it’s happening sooner than you think.

This year there is an additional complication, however. Due to 20 months of pandemic, there are now grave supply chain delays. It took me over two weeks to receive my autoship cat supplies from Chewy, and I’m still waiting for the litter! I ordered author copies of my books from Amazon, and they took three weeks to get here. Postage costs have increased overnight, and companies who provide free shipping are struggling to adjust. I don’t know about you, but this year, I’m shopping early!

Readers on your gift list?

Here’s a brief index of my books. Adventure Cat, the 8th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery, will publish in mid-November, so keep an eye out if you’re looking for Lynley’s latest escapade.

For cozy mystery fans, the Crazy Cat Lady series, 6 books featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. 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.

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

All my books come in paperback and eBook format.

Did you know you can gift eBooks?

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

Posted in Book Talk, Crazy Cat Lady cozy mysteries, My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments