Posted in Travel/Conferences

The Cat Writers’ Association 25th Anniversary: Something to Meow About

This week, I’ll be flying to St. Louis to join fellow members of the Cat Writers’ Association for their annual conference. This year, CWA will be celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary. I’ve been a member for twenty of those years.

Back when I decided to join, I was an unpublished author. I’d been writing for many years but; besides the articles I’d written for my college newspaper and the stories and books I’d composed in dozens of notebooks, I hadn’t submitted anything to be published professionally. Learning of this group that represented authors of all types who wrote about cats, I felt it would be suitable for me since I’d always been a cat lover and enjoyed reading cat mysteries by such authors as Carole Nelson Douglas famous for her feline sleuth Midnight Louie and Shirley Rousseau Murphy, who writes about Joe Grey, both of whom were members.

The only thing that stood in the way of my becoming a professional member of CWA was that I needed to have two published pieces. To fulfill this requirement, I began sending articles about my cats, Floppy and Holly, to pet magazines and newsletters. I wrote one about how I introduced Holly to Floppy that was published in the 1998 issue of Cat Fancy Magazine. I published another article on how to care for a cat with diabetes when Floppy became diabetic.

My cat Floppy who was the inspiration for my article on feline diabetes that was published in Cat Fancy Magazine and who was featured in my first novel, Cloudy Rainbow after he passed away.

When my membership was accepted, I attended the 1999 conference in Kansas City and met Shirley Rousseau Murphy in person. I also met Amy Shojai, the then CWA president and founder. I felt right at home with these cat-loving authors and enjoyed the conference sessions, awards banquet, and meeting  people with whom I had so much in common.

Me and Shirley Rousseau Murphy at the Cat Writers’ conference in Kansas City in 1999

I regret that I wasn’t able to attend any conferences after that first one that was so enjoyable. Although I continued to write and kept up my membership, I didn’t have much time or opportunity to travel. I was working full-time as a librarian and had a young daughter. I continued, however, to write cat-related articles in pet magazines and, in 2001, published my first cat mystery, “Stitches in Time,” a short story that appeared in the anthology, Cat Crimes Through Time.

In 2008, I published my first novel, Cloudy Rainbow, that featured Floppy, who passed away the year before. I self-published the book and didn’t sell many copies, so I stopped writing for a time until a patron at my library encouraged me to write another book. Me and Shirley Murphy at the Cat Writers' conference in Kansas City in 1989In 2015, I published A Stone’s Throw, that became the first of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series featuring Sneaky the Library Cat. The series now consists of four books. This first edition was published by Limitless Publishing and was later reprinted by Solstice Publishing with whom I now have six books including the reprint of Cloudy Rainbow, as well as several short stories and a novella. I also recently published a standalone mystery, Sea Scope, with Creativia.

My 7 published novels including the 4 books of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series.

All my books feature cats who don’t play major roles or talk but usually help uncover clues to the mysteries. The 4th book of my Cobble Cove series, Love on the Rocks, recently won a Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writers’ Association and is one of several up for consideration for the coveted Muse Medallion that will be awarded in St. Louis this Saturday night.

The Muse Medallion, the highest honor awarded at the Cat Writers’ Banquet during their annual conference.
My latest Cobble Cove mystery that won a Certificate of Excellence and is up for a muse medallion.









I’m looking forward to attending another CWA conference and appearing on a panel of cat fiction authors. I’ll also be signing books at the Missouri Humane Society’s fundraiser with other CWA authors.

I’ll be on a panel with cat fiction authors top left to right: Mollie Hunt, Patricia Fry. Bottom left to right: Sandra Murphy, Me

My bags are almost packed, and I’ve managed to gather all my cat tops, cat ears, and other cat items to bring to the event in, what else, a cat suitcase. It should be fun as well as educational with speakers, editors, sessions on a variety of topics, and networking opportunities. My only regret is having to leave my three cats at home, but I know they’ll be happy when I return with my swag bag of feline goodies from all the wonderful pet company sponsors. The 25th anniversary will definitely be something to meow about!


Posted in Cozy Mysteries, New Releases

Spotlight for For A Deadly Feast, A Key West Food Critic Mystery, by Lucy Burdette

A Deadly Feast:
A Key West Food Critic Mystery
by Lucy Burdette

About the Book
A Deadly Feast: A Key West Food Critic Mystery
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Crooked Lane Books (May 7, 2019)
Hardcover: 272 pages
ISBN-10: 1683319699
ISBN-13: 978-1683319696
Digital ASIN: B07HM9NCJQ

National bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s intrepid food critic Hayley Snow must sniff out a killer in the ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

Key West food critic Hayley Snow scents-es something fishy when a customer falls stone-crab cold dead on a seafood tasting tour.

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancé, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.

The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.

As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

About the Author

Courtesy Carol Tedesco

Clinical psychologist Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) has published 16 mysteries, including the latest in the Key West food critic series, DEATH ON THE MENU (Crooked Lane Books, August 2018.) Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime. She blogs at Jungle Red Writersand shares her love for food with the culinary writers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen She lives in Madison CT and Key West FL. Read more at

Author Links:






Purchase Links: – Amazon – B&N – IndieBound



May 2 – Mystery Lovers Kitchen – RECIPE, GIVEAWAY  

May 3 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

May 3 – Killer Characters – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY

May 4 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY

May 5 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

May 6 – Elizabeth McKenna Romance Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 6 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

May 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

May 7 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 8 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

May 8 – The Conscious Cat – CHICKS ON THE CAST, GIVEAWAY

May 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

May 9 – Carstairs Considers – REVIEW

May 10 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 10 – Wicked Cozy Authors – GUEST POST

May 11 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 11 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

May 12 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – Cinnamon and Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder – RECIPE, GIVEAWAY

May 15 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY

May 15 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 16 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 16 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Drinks with Reads (Mystery Playground) – RECIPE

Posted in Cozy Mysteries, New Releases

Spotlight for For a Good Paws, a Barkery & Biscuits Mystery by Linda O. Johnson

For a Good Paws
(A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery)
by Linda O. Johnston

About the Book

For a Good Paws (A Barkery & Biscuits Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2019)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-10: 0738752444
ISBN-13: 978-0738752440
Digital ASIN: B07HL4XNKD

Barkery owner Carrie Kennersly follows the scent of murder to find the true culprit . . .

When Carrie Kennersley, owner of a two-part bakery that serves tasty treats to both dogs and humans, learns that a local killer is being paroled, she worries that danger will come barking at her door.

Ten years ago, Mike Holpurn was convicted of murdering the first female mayor of Knobcone Heights. Now, shortly after his release, Holpurn puts the whole town on edge by yelling at the former mayor’s husband, Henry Schulzer. After Schulzer is found dead, everyone assumes Holpurn is the culprit. But Carrie thinks there’s more to the story, especially since Holpurn claims Schulzer was the one who really killed the mayor. Carrie is determined to uncover the truth, even if it means things will get ruff.

Includes recipes!

About the Author

Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, writes the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery Series for Midnight Ink. Her fifth and final book in the series, For a Good Paws, is a May 2019 release. She has also written Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink, and the Pet Rescue Mystery Series and Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and nearly all her current stories involve dogs.

Author Links

Website –

Facebook –

Purchase Links


a Rafflecopter giveaway


May 8 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 8 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 9 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT

May 9 – The Book’s the Thing – GUEST POST

May 10 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 10 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 11 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

May 11 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 12 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 13 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

May 13 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – Shannon Muir, Author – Infinite House of Books – SPOTLIGHT

May 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

May 15 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

May 15 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 16 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

May 16 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

May 17 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Grace Topping, Author of Staging is Murder, a Laura Bishop Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Grace Topping from Northern Virginia to chat about her writing and her cozy mystery, Staging is Murder, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

Nice to have you here, Grace. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher: Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

STAGING IS MURDER is my first book, which is being released on April 30 by Henery Press. It is the first in the Laura Bishop Mystery Series. I don’t have any self-published books.

Congratulations on your debut book.

Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.

The Laura Bishop Mystery Series is about a woman who decides midlife to change careers and become a professional home stager. She realizes that the work could be murder, but she never expected it to include a body. When a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at her feet, flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her home staging duties. The first in the series, STAGING IS MURDER, is being released April 30. I am in the middle of writing the next book in the series, which will be coming out next year about the same time.

Sounds interesting and a unique occupation for your sleuth.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

It took me ten years from the time I started working on STAGING IS MURDER to the time it is being published. My goal was to learn how to write a mystery, improve my writing, find an agent and a publisher, and successfully promote my book. Now that I’ve achieved that, my goal is to complete the other two books in my contract. To reach these goals, I plan to stay connected to the writing community through writing organizations such as Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Also I plan to take additional courses to improve my writing and plotting skills. I also hope to learn from reviews of STAGING IS MURDER what worked and what didn’t for readers.

Nice goals. It sounds like you’re determined to meet them, so I’m sure you will. I’m also a member of Sisters-in-Crime by the way.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

My book is a cozy mystery. I wrote a cozy because cozies don’t include violence, sex, or bad language. So I hope to attract readers who are looking to be entertained, not horrified. I hope to attract readers who like the concept of home staging and hope to learn something about it through my books, and to make readers laugh occasionally. At least I hope they will.

I enjoy writing cozies for that same reason, although my latest book, Sea Scope, is a psychological mystery. I still don’t include a lot of violence, sex, or bad language because I feel that they detract from a good plot.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

The most important thing is to learn the craft of writing. If you don’t have good grammar skills, get books on grammar. Agents and publishers expect books submitted to them to be well edited. They will not take a book and make it better. If you don’t know how to write dialogue, take online classes. If you need to strengthen your plotting skills, study books on plotting. Libraries have lots of books on writing fiction. When I decided to write a mystery, I took an online course through my community college on how to write a mystery. Best thing I ever did. I came out of it with the complete outline for my book. Then apply all the things you learn to your manuscript. During my ten years of working toward publication, every time I learned something new, I applied it to my manuscript, creating a new version. By the time I had a publishing contract, I had written 38 versions of my book. I was too stubborn to give up. Be willing to learn as you go, and don’t give up.

What a great story. All the authors I speak with agree that being stubborn is an important quality for an author to possess. Thanks also for recommending library books. I’m a librarian as well as an author, so I know that there’s a wealth of information for those seeking publication in the writing books in a library’s collection.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

As I mentioned above, I had to learn about writing fiction and improve my drafts with each new thing I learned. But the biggest lesson I had to learn was that having no agent is better than having an agent who isn’t working for you. I wasted five years with an agent who kept me dangling. I was afraid to leave her and have no agent. Worse thing I could have done. Once I developed enough courage to nicely sever my contract with her, I found another agent who was able to sell my book in two months.

That’s a good point. I’m still looking for the right agent myself, although I haven’t signed with any yet.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

I belong to the National Sisters in Crime (SINC), the Chesapeake Chapter of SINC, and to the online chapter of SINC, the Guppies (short for the great unpublished). I don’t think I would be published today without the help and support of the Guppies. I am also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

I’m also a member of Sisters-in-Crime and the Guppies chapter, and I agree that they are a wonderful and very supportive group for women who write mysteries.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

My favorite activity is reading, and I belong to two book clubs. When I’m not involved with reading, writing, or promoting my book, I volunteer with my church.

Reading is important for authors. I wish I had more time to do it because I have so many books in my to-be-read pile. As far as your church volunteer work, I’m also very involved in my church.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

One of the things that I like most is being a member of the mystery writing community. Writers are very supportive, and I’ve made hundred of friends through writers’ groups and attending writing conferences. I particularly enjoy helping to promote other authors. I conduct interviews with mystery writers about twice a month for the Writers Who Kill group blog ( The interviews give the authors an opportunity to talk about their books and for readers to discover them.

The thing I like least is sitting in a chair for long periods of time. It isn’t the best activity for staying fit, and I find that I sit a lot trying to meet deadlines.

My toughest challenge is juggling the activities required to promote STAGING IS MURDER with finding the time to write the second book in the series. And it truly is a juggling act.

I feel the same way about the things you mentioned. I’ve also made a lot of author friends both online and through local events. Sitting for long periods isn’t good, so I try to get up and walk around and stretch every 15 minutes or so. My Apple watch helps with that. It tells me when to stand for 5 minutes. As for juggling activities of promoting my books while trying to write more, you’re so right it’s a tough juggling act. I have 7 now, so you’ll see it gets harder having to write, promote, etc. the more books you publish.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I like telling a story that will hopefully entertain readers and not horrify them—stories lacking in violence, sex, and bad language. I would be uncomfortable including violent scenes, and I would be embarrassed writing about sex. And since I don’t use bad language in my everyday life, I won’t put it in my characters’ mouths. I love that cozy mysteries focus on solving the puzzle of the mystery, the characters, and the main character’s business or interest (the hook) of the story.

We certainly have a lot in common, Grace. I love creating characters and books with twists and also don’t feel comfortable writing ones that are too explicit.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?


There, behind the desk and holding the purple-covered Louiston High School yearbook in his hands, stood Warren Hendricks.

“Warren,” I gasped. “What are you doing here?”

“Stay right where you are, young man,” Mrs. Webster said sternly. “Laura here knows karate, and she’s not afraid to use it.”

I sighed and positioned myself in what I assumed might be a karate stance.

“Please, Laura, I’m sorry. I don’t intend to harm anyone. Let me explain,” Warren pleaded.

“Sit down.” Mrs. Webster pointed to a brown leather sofa. “Laura, get one of those fireplace instruments over there.” She turned to Warren. “If you move, Laura will bop you a good one.”

Warren, all six feet of him, plopped onto the sofa, with tiny Mrs. Webster looming over him. His Adam’s apple bobbed and he kept clearing his throat.

“Okay, now fess up,” Mrs. Webster demanded.

“How did you get in?” I’d carefully locked up when I left the house earlier.

“I climbed in through a small window in the pantry. The window’s ancient and wasn’t hard to wiggle open. Though, getting through it was a bit hard.” Warren picked at a small tear on his jacket sleeve and grimaced. “I may have ruined my jacket.” A smart dresser, he probably regretted that more than being caught red-handed going through the Denton library.

“What were you searching for?” Mrs. Webster voice was steely cold. She wasn’t feeling any sympathy for him or his jacket.

Very nice. Thanks for sharing that.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

Laura Bishop isn’t only an amateur sleuth—she’s a reluctant sleuth, which I think is a bit more realistic that a main character who jumps into a case with both feet, anxious to get working. She knows her skill set, and finding a murderer isn’t among them. But she gives into the plea by elderly Mrs. Webster to help clear her grandson, who is accused of murder. As reluctant as she is to get involved, Laura rises to the occasion.

She sounds quite realistic and someone readers would identify with.

Thanks so much for the interview, Grace, and best wishes on your series and future books. I’m sharing your blog tour below.

Staging is Murder
(A Laura Bishop Mystery)
by Grace Topping

About the Book

Staging is Murder (A Laura Bishop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Henery Press (April 30, 2019)
Hardcover: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 163511490X
ISBN-13: 978-1635114904
Paperback: 268 pages
ISBN-10: 163511487X
ISBN-13: 978-1635114874
Digital ASIN: B07N96J65X

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, replacing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

About the Author

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

Author Links

Website –

Twitter –

Facebook –

GoodReads –

Purchase Links – Amazon B&N Kobo

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Part One

April 25 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

April 25 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

April 26 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW

April 26 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

April 27 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

April 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, AUTHOR INTERVIEW

April 28 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

April 29 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

Part Two

May 6 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

May 6 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

May 7 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 8 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 8 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 9 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 9 – Carole’s Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT

May 10 – Teresa Trent Author Site – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 11 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

May 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 12 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 13 – That’s What She’s Reading – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

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