COMING SOON-GHOST CAT ON THE MIDWAY

Are you ready for a new adventure?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A purr-anormal cozy mystery!

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

 

Posted in My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? BERNADETTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do cats inspire your creativity?

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

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

Bernadette answers 3 arbitrary questions:

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

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

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

  1. Tell us a true cat story. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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COVER REVEAL – Ghost Cat on the Midway

A new book! A new cover!

Do you want to see it?

Really want to see it?

Right. Now?

Okay but first, a bit about the book.

 

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

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

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

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

Posted in My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fractals

This is amazing!

Audrey Driscoll's Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

View original post 155 more words

Posted in My Cat Cozies | 4 Comments

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

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

Please tell us a bit about your writing career.

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

How do cats inspire your creativity?

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

The Cat Room

Now for three arbitrary questions:

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

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

  1. Tell us a true cat story. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Tell us a fictional cat story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skitter!

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

 

Connect with Ruth E. Thaler-Carter at:

Ruth@writerruth.com

www.writerruth.com

@WriterRuth

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

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

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

 

Posted in Book Talk, CAT WRITERS, Interviews, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

WHAT I’M WRITING

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

That’s all.

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

 

Posted in Crazy Cat Lady cozy mysteries, My Cat Cozies, The Tenth Life Cozy Mysteries, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

BIG SUMMER SALE ON eBOOKS!

It’s that time again!

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

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

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

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

Happy Reading!

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

Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? ALLIA ZOBEL NOLAN

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

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

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

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

A little bit about my writing:

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

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

Photo: Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

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

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

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

Some of the contributors and myself paused for a photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Allia, how do cats inspire creativity? 

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

What advice can you share with newbies?

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

 

My first foray in self-publishing 

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

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

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

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

 

My cats:


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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Talk, Interviews | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Who Are the Cat Writers’ Association? DEBBIE DE LOUISE

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

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

Debbie, please tell us about your writing career.

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

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

How do cats inspire your creativity?

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

Now for five extremely arbitrary questions.

  1. Did you grow up with cats?

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

  1. Does cat love run in your family?

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

  1. What would your life be without cats?

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

  1. Have you ever seen a ghost cat?

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

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

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

My current cats are:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Deblibrarian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IT WAS THE THIRD OF JUNE… Still Haunting

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

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

Read more in my previous posts:

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

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

 

 

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