Posted in New Year's, short stories, Television Broadcast

It’s a Wrap: My 2019 Writing and Author Appearances Recap

I hope you all had a nice 2019 and that 2020 is even better. Here is a recap of my writing and author appearances in 2019 with my tentative calendar for 2020.

On April 6, I attended the Long Island Local Author Fair at the Tilles Center at Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus.

On April 24, I appeared on Between the Covers TV Show with fellow guests from the Book Fairies. Here is a link to the episode.

On May 4, I published my standalone psychological mystery, Sea Scope.

In May, I was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for my cozy mystery, Love on the Rocks.

From May 15 to 18, I attended the Cat Writers’ Association Conference in St. Louis, Missouri where I spoke on a panel with three other members who write cat mysteries: Sandy Murphy, Patricia Fry, and Mollie Hunt.

In May, I also attended the Romance Writers’ Association luncheon at the Fox Hollow Inn in Woodbury, New York.

On June 5, a front-page story appeared about me and my new release, Sea Scope, in the Hicksville News.

On August 10, I appeared at the Sip This Coffee House in Valley Stream with fellow authors, Lisa Diaz Meyer and Tracy Auerbach.

On August  15, I spoke at the Hicksville Library about Sea Scope.

On September 21, I attended the South Huntington Library’s Fall Fair with three other members of the Long Island Authors Group.

On September 29, I published a short mystery eBook, The Mistaken Mission.

On October 19, I appeared at the Kitten Kadoodle Coffee Cafe in Selden, NY with fellow authors Lisa Diaz Meyer, Elaine Donadio, and Andrea Roche.

In November, I published the article, “Keeping Your Indoor Pets Safe from Household Hazards” that appeared in its print edition and online blog.

On November 2, I appeared at Mongo’s Coffee in Syosset, New York, with fellow authors Lisa Diaz Meyer, Elaine Donadio, Andrea Roche, and Tracy Auerbach.

On November 16, I hosted, spoke, and signed books at the St. Stephen’s Fall Author Fair in Hicksville, New York with 8 other local authors including Roland Allnach, Nika Rhone, Tracy Auerbach, Catherine Mairiosi, John Krahn, Lisa Diaz Meyer, Janet Rudolph, and James Cudney IV.

On November 30, I published two short mystery eBooks: Sneaky’s Christmas Mystery and Murder Unwrapped.

So far, for 2020, I will be answering questions at the Hicksville Library’s book club discussion of my book, Sea Scope, on January 15.

On February 1, I will be appearing at Barnes and Noble in Massapequa, New York with 8 other mystery authors.

On March 28, I’ll be appearing at Starbucks in Bay Terrace, Queens with fellow NY authors, Elaine Donadio, Andrea Roche, Lisa Diaz Meyer, and Tracy Auerbach.

On April 25, I’ll be appearing at Barnes and Nobel in Selden, New York with fellow NY authors Elaine Donadio, Andrea Roche, Luisa Diaz Meyer, and Tracy Auerbach.

In July, I’ll be attending the Cat Writers’ Association Conference in New Jersey.

I also have two complete manuscripts I am hoping to publish in 2020 and am working on some short stories. I appreciate all the support of my readers and fellow authors and those who have hosted me at local author fairs and events.

Posted in holidays

Christmas Memories and Happy Holiday Wishes for my Readers

The holidays can be a beautiful time of year where we gather with family and friends over good food and exchange gifts. But it can also be a sad time as we remember those who are no longer with us. This is the second Christmas without my mother and my cat Oliver. While I know that both of them had poor qualities of life toward the end, it didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. I still think of them, not only during the holidays but whenever something reminds me of them. The memories are sweet but also sad.

I was blessed to have two kittens come into my life after I lost Mom and Oliver. I know my mother, a cat lover, would’ve loved Harry and Hermione. Since I believe in signs, I also think she may have had something to do with my finding them and maybe Oliver did, too. I lost two and gained two. They will never replace Mom or Oliver, but Harry and Hermione have helped my heart heal.

Oliver’s last Christmas, 2017

Here are some photos of Oliver and my mother from years past and also some pictures of Harry and Hermione from their first Christmas with us last year. I wish you all the same joy that takes away some of the sadness of your losses. Remember the good times and cherish those you hold dear today. Every minute with our loved ones is precious and can’t be replaced.

My brothers and I with Mom, Christmas 2013
Me with Mom, Christmas 2017 (her last)

 

 

 

 

Hermione at 5 months old, Christmas 2018
Me and Harry, Christmas 2018

 

Posted in Cat Writers' Association, Cats, Reviews

Review of Cat Life: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the Cat by Amy Shojai

Review: Cat Life: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the Cat

*****5 stars

This book is not only beautiful, filled with gorgeous color photographs of cats, but also extremely informative. I would expect nothing less from the author. Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant who has published 30 bestselling pet books.

Cat Life is divided into four sections: Evolutionary of cat; cultured cat; physical cat, and gallery of breeds. Anything and everything a cat lover might want to know about this unique animal is included in this book. A Table of Contents and an alphabetical index are also provided to help locate topics.

If you are looking for a complete guide that is wonderfully illustrated, you need look no further than Cat Life: Celebrating the History, Culture & Love of the Cat. A companion dog volume by Ms. Shojai is also available.
“Purr”-chase this book here.
JOIN Amy’s Audacious Allies, SUBSCRIBE to her free newsletter, READ her pet-centric blog: https://AmyShojai.com

Amy Shojai is a nationally known authority on pet care and behavior, a certified animal behavior consultant, a spokesperson for the pet products industry, and the author of 30 nonfiction pet books. She also writes THRILLERS WITH BITE! which includes the dog-viewpoint thrillers LOST AND FOUND, HIDE AND SEEK, SHOW AND TELL and FIGHT OR FLIGHT. In her other life, she’s a published and produced playwright of musical theater productions (some including pet characters!).

Amy addresses a wide range of fun-to-serious issues in her work, covering dog and cat training, behavior, natural and allopathic health care, nutrition, first aid, aging pets, “the bond” and cutting-edge medical topics. In her nonfiction books, she empowers pet lovers by providing the information they need to make informed decisions for their cats and dogs. She specializes in translating “medicalese” into easily understood jargon-free language, making it accessible to all pet lovers. Oh, and she loves bling-icity!

Her work has been honored with over three dozen writing awards and she is a two-time recipient of the “Friskies Writer of the Year” award. Her articles currently appear in the Herald Democrat newspaper, on Chewy.com and PetSafe.net among others. She’s published several thousand articles and columns during her career. Amy presents a twice-monthly “Pet Talk” segment at KXII-CBS, hosted the weekly “Pet Peeves” at PetLifeRadio.com and is an expert on Animal Planet DOGS 101 and CATS 101. Sometimes she has time to sleep.

Amy has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and in The Wall Street Journal, USA Weekend, The New York Times, Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Woman’s World, and many other leading newspapers and magazines. She has also been a featured pet care expert on Animal Planet Dogs 101, Cats 101, Petsburgh USA/Disney Channel program, Good Day New York, Fox News: Pet News, NBC Today Show, WGN-Chicago “Pet Central” and “Animal Planet Radio” and many others.

She is an active member of the International Thriller Writers, Sisters In Crime, and Alliance of Independent Authors. Amy is a certified member of International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, founder and Past President of the Cat Writers’ Association, member of the Dog Writers Association of America, and Past President and Honorary Lifetime Member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. She frequently speaks to groups on a variety of pet-related and writing issues, lectures at veterinary and writer conferences, and conducts training and behavior demonstrations around the country.

She and her husband live with Karma-Kat the feline delinquent and Bravo-Boy, the Bullmastiff. They, along with the enduring inspiration of Siamese wannabe Seren-Kitty and Magical-Dawg the German Shepherd, continue to inspire her work. Find more information about her work at www.shojai.com and follow her Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog at https://amyshojai.com.

Posted in Freebies and Special Offers

FREE Holiday Special for Mystery Lovers

Looking for a last-minute gift? My psychological mystery, Sea Scope, featuring a murder by a lighthouse, is FREE from Saturday, December 21 to Wednesday, December 25 (Christmas). Pick up a copy here: mybook.to/SeaScope

Sarah Collins needs an escape. Mourning her brother’s death and the impending breakup of her marriage, she accepts an invitation to return to her childhood home in South Carolina, where her family operated an inn.

She hasn’t been back to Sea Scope for twenty years; not since she and her brother Glen discovered a body by the nearby lighthouse. She never understood why her parents left Sea Scope so suddenly, or the reasons behind her father’s suicide.

After Sarah returns to the inn, she faces long-buried memories, text messages and strange clues. Something is not right in Sea Scope.

Reunited with people from her past, she tries to figure out what’s going on in her childhood home. As the past and present collide, she must face truths about her family, and what happened that summer day by the lighthouse. But will she survive to tell the tale?

Check out the booktrailer:

Check out my other books and stories on my Amazon Author Page  

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, all my eBooks are free. Here are some other suggestions for your holiday reading and/or gift giving:

Sneaky’s Christmas Mystery

Another death has occurred in Cobble Cove near the holidays. This time, it’s the owner of the new pet store in town who was felled by a case of cat food that crushed his skull. Was it an accident, or murder? While the townspeople including the sheriff are divided in their opinions, Sneaky and Kittykai, the library and inn cats, sniff out the truth. 

Murder Unwrapped

Richard Bright is a man with a plan. He’s an inventor who he wants to kill his wife with one of his inventions. He hopes to put his plan into effect on Christmas, but his invention isn’t quite perfected. Dealing with his wife isn’t an option, nor her two rambunctious kittens, Harry and Hermione. What sweetens the pot is her large inheritance and a pretty young woman who is now working at his shop. Will Richard’s plan to have his special gift ready in time pan out, or will it fizzle with some of his other unfinished projects?


The Missing Mistletoe

Time travel via Victorian mistletoe.

After her divorce, Anna moves to San Francisco where her sister Emily and her brother-in-law Tom live. Emily, a real estate agent, locates a beautiful Victorian home for Anna. The house’s history dates back to before the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Emily has decorated Anna’s new house with festive decorations she’s purchased and others she found in a box in the attic. The only item she couldn’t find was a mistletoe. When Anna nearly trips on one of the steps to the second floor, she finds a mistletoe hidden in a recess underneath the stair. Hanging it up as her sister holds the ladder, she becomes dizzy and falls. When she awakes, Anna finds herself in 1906 San Francisco the day before the earthquake is scheduled to hit. The occupants of the house cannily resemble her relatives and her ex-husband and his girlfriend. Can she find a way to return to her own time before the earthquake strikes, or should she warn these strangely familiar people of the imminent danger?

Celebrating Christmas with My Characters

The characters from Debbie De Louise’s Cobble Cove cozy mysteries gather in the Cobble Cove library to celebrate the holidays. Each character receives a gift from the author, and Alicia, the main character, reads some excerpts from the first book, A Stone’s Throw, and the second book,, Between a Rock and a Hard Place.


Posted in Cozy Mystery

Spotlight of Lonesome Spirits, A Chocolate Magic Cozy Mystery, Book 4

 

Book blurb

Join Sam and Magda Barnes on their latest adventure! 

While helping their friends Merle and Branston plan a new feature for their dude ranch, they are visited by the spirit of a young woman. Never ones to let things be, they rally their psychic friends for a séance to try and determine who she is and why she’s so sad. 
Meanwhile, Magda’s intuitive Birman cat, Crystal, begins to act strangely … well, not so strange for this cat! What clues will Crystal provide this time!

A must-read about chocolates, a psychic cat, séances, a ghost town … and murder!

Olivia Swift Bio

Olivia Swift loves writing cozy mysteries! Her stories are inspired by her varied interests…gardening, spirits, crystals and so much more. Of course, there must be a romance or two in her books and a happily-ever-after ending!

Growing up in a small English village, Olivia is only too familiar with the various characters that make up a community. There is always an event, drama, or mystery amongst the village folk.

Only a few years ago, Olivia and her husband chose to take an early retirement and moved to the Aquitaine region of France. There, in her sun-filled study, she is able to sit and write her books. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the window overlooks her lovely French country garden.

Facebook:  Lirios Publishing

Twitter: Lirios Books

Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post about Great Novel Characters

Image credit: Pexels

What Exactly Makes A Great Character In A Novel?

by Rodney Laws

The novel — today’s dominant literary art form — is a relatively new kid on the block, having been perfected in eighteenth and nineteenth century Britain and America. The enduring success of the novel owes much to its ability to explore psychological complexities of character. It is people, and their foibles and flaws, that make novels such rich tapestries.

Great characters have dominated the novels of the long nineteenth century and beyond, but what exactly makes a great character? Why do we love (or love to hate) certain characters? What are the hallmarks of great character development? How do some of the best authors approach character?

The best way to do this, I think, is to run through some key traits that crop up time and time again. From those, you can glean some insight into character construction. In this piece, we’re going to consider the notable characteristics of some great characters. Let’s begin.

Relatable vulnerability (Emma Bovary)

The character of Emma Bovary made Gustave Flaubert notorious. His stunningly accurate portrayal of nineteenth century suburbian inertia in the character of young, bored, and married Emma scandalized France.

His frank portrayal of female desire and dissatisfaction shocked moralists, but Emma is one of the world’s most loved fiction heroines — precisely because of her ‘flaws’. It’s Emma’s relatable flaws that make her such a great character. She is vulnerable and complex. She can be cruel, yet she’s also a victim herself.

Even Flaubert is reported to have famously said about Emma: “Madame Bovary, c’est moi” (Madame Bovary, she’s me).

What you can learn from Flaubert:

  • Flawed and tragic characters are extremely relatable
  • Vulnerability can help writers draw their readers in
  • A shocking ‘fall from grace’ like the one Emma has will immortalize a character.

Infectious buoyancy (Elizabeth Bennett)

Elizabeth Bennett has a great character arc, and that’s why she’s enduringly popular. She learns from her mistakes, and we like to watch her realize the error of her ways and get what she wants (after some suitable drama, of course, in a plot so influential that it’s cited on a frequent basis — see Jericho Writers on how to plot, for example).

Elizabeth has a zest for life that make her story engaging rather than tragic. She is flawed in her own ways, but not tragically so like Emma Bovary. Lizzie is a great testament to Jane Austen’s own independent spirit as a female novelist in constrained circumstances.

Lizzie also has one of the most romantic stories in English literature: that of two opposed and proud people realizing they do really love each other. It’s the simultaneous character development of both Darcy and Elizabeth that makes their love story such an engaging one to follow, and accounts for the enduring success of Pride & Prejudice.

Mysterious nature (Jay Gatsby)

Complex, always out of reach, tragically blinded by love. Gatsby is elusive, even in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel that bears his name, The Great Gatsby. Charismatic and vain, Gatsby is also incredibly warm-hearted and generous.

He lives in a world that seems perfect, but in reality is anything but. The dark side of the Roaring Twenties is perfectly personified in Gatsby’s fragile success and ego. Jay Gatsby is a rich character full of contradictions, and as we slowly get close to the real man, we’re merely blindsided again. Even at the end, Gatsby remains somehow other-wordly.

The distance between the reader and Gatsby is partly due to the unreliable narrator, Nick Carraway — a genius narrative device that makes Fitzgerald’s novel and its characters so deliciously slippery.

Irresistible personality (Jane Eyre)

Jane Eyre is a real testament to Charlotte Bronte’s extraordinary skills as a writer and her innate understanding of character development. Jane definitely fulfils the character development type of ‘extraordinary’ — an extraordinary character and personality “that can make things happen in an empty room”. It’s no coincidence that the novel has her name.

Though from obscure origins, Jane behaves with dignity fitting for a Duchess. Her intense self-knowledge and sense of self make her irresistible, especially in the social context of the novel. Her challenges and pain make her a stronger, more alive version of herself. She is wounded, but strong. She says little, but means a lot. Her character is all about quiet power.

Everyday flaws (Winston Smith)

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a great dystopian novel, but it’s also a brilliant character novel. Winston works as a humdrum clerk in a totalitarian dystopia. He seems nondescript and banal, but underneath the surface lives a passionate and brave man.

His varicose ulcers and gin habit make him human (and faintly disgusting). His innate sense of curiosity drives him on. He makes mistakes because he cares. Orwell himself consciously wrote Winston as the everyman character — someone we could all relate to.

Our closeness to Winston makes the setting of the novel all the more powerful and affecting. Reading Orwell’s novel, we all question what we would have done in his place. Winston’s choices become our choices.

Adolescent rebellion (Holden Caulfield)

The brutality and confusion of adolescence is a theme with universal potency, and J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye is one of the most popular and well-regarded novels in history because of the young protagonist’s existential troubles.

Holden Caulfield evidently captures enough universal truth to be a mirror for the reader. How else do you explain his alternating praise and vilification? He stumbles from place to place, searching for earnest human connection but finding a surging disdain for those around him.

Holden doesn’t rebel in an effort to look cool or impress his peers. He rebels from the mediocrities of civilization, choosing to walk away at every turn rather than stick around and accept that people are flawed. His fantasy of being a hero, of protecting children from the loss of innocence, leaves him at war with the world… and the darkness in his own nature.

Ruthless pragmatism (Scarlett O’Hara)

“My dear, I don’t give a damn.” These words (preceded by “Frankly” in the movie adaptation) are firmly affixed to the popular perception of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, but to focus unduly on them is to give short shrift to one of literature’s great survivors.

Scarlett O’Hara, the dear in question, is smart in a time that doesn’t welcome smartness in women. As a wealthy Southern girl, she’s expected to be charming, passive, and essentially vapid — a prize to be won — but only plays the part as needed to get by. Whenever possible, she seeks to express her will, and it’s that will that steels her to hardship.

When war breaks out and washes away her material wealth, Scarlett doesn’t shy away from what needs to be done: she uses her cultural value as a woman (marrying for money) and her formidable intelligence (running her own business) to ensure that she survives.

Righteous courage (Atticus Finch)

The legal profession has suffered greatly in common perception, with lawyers mostly viewed as unscrupulous cads obsessed with money and power, but there’s nobility to be found in the legal field — and to those eager to protect it, Atticus Finch is a worthy hero.

Set in the American South in a time of open racial inequality, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is an undeniable classic. When Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping a white woman, the general populace automatically considers him guilty beyond question. Atticus Finch is assigned to defend him, and defies racist condemnation by determining to represent his client as effectively as he can.

In the end, despite making a powerful and convincing case, Atticus finds that racism is too entrenched in the jury. Thus, his innocent client is convicted. In the process, though, he inspires future generations with his bold defence of reason and conscience, even in the face of inevitable defeat: courage, as he sees it, is “[W]hen you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

Having looked at these great characters, then, what can we glean? The most notable takeaway is that perfection doesn’t make for interesting characters. We’re drawn to characters with flaws and struggles, because we can relate to them. If you’re struggling to write a character for a novel, keep this in mind.

Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses. Check out his reviews on Ecommerce platforms.io and you’ll find practical tips that you can use to build the best online store for your business. Connect with him on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.”

– https://www.facebook.com/ecommerceplatformsio/
– https://twitter.com/EcomPlatformsio

Posted in Spotlight

Spotlight for Murder, She Encountered, A Murder, She Reported Mystery by Peg Cochran

Murder, She Encountered (Murder, She Reported Series)
by Peg Cochran

About Murder, She Encountered


Murder, She Encountered (Murder, She Reported Series)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Alibi (December 3, 2019)
Print Length ~230 Pages
Digital ASIN: B07PKJGHGK

A gutsy Manhattan socialite encounters murder and corruption at the World’s Fair in this captivating historical cozy mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Rhys Bowen.

New York City, 1939. A rising star at the Daily Trumpet, Elizabeth “Biz” Adams has been sent to the World’s Fair—billed as the “World of Tomorrow,” a look toward a brighter future even as the drumbeats of war grow louder—to cover a robbery. What she stumbles upon instead is a dead woman, dumped into the Aquacade’s pool with a nylon stocking wrapped around her neck.

Elizabeth snaps a photo as the police arrest Joey Dorman, a gentle young hot dog vendor who made no secret of his obsession with the murder victim. Even though she’s thrilled that her photo makes the front page, the fear and confusion evident on Joey’s face are haunting. So Elizabeth vows to prove his innocence—or his guilt—with her partner at the Daily Trumpet, Ralph Kaminsky. Meanwhile, her romance with Detective Sal Marino is heating up, and Elizabeth is more determined than ever to follow her heart.

But when Kaminsky’s efforts to expose the real killer land him in the hospital, Elizabeth is forced to continue the investigation on her own. And as she tries to narrow down the long list of suspects, she discovers a dark secret running through the Fair—a secret some would kill to protect.

Look for all of Peg Cochran’s delightful mysteries featuring Elizabeth Adams, which can be read together or separately:
MURDER, SHE REPORTED
MURDER, SHE UNCOVERED
MURDER, SHE ENCOUNTERED

About the Author

Mystery writing lets Peg indulge her curiosity under the guise of “work” (aka research). As a kid, she read the entire set of children’s encyclopedias her parents gave her and has been known to read the dictionary. She put pen to paper at age seven when she wrote plays and forced her cousins to perform them at Christmas dinner. She switched to mysteries when she discovered the perfect hiding place for a body down the street from her house.

When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, cooking, spoiling her granddaughter and checking her books’ stats on Amazon.

A former Jersey girl, Peg now resides in Michigan with her husband and Westhighland white terrier, Reg. She is the author of the Sweet Nothings Lingerie series (written as Meg London), the Gourmet De-Lite series, the Lucille series, the Cranberry Cove series, and the Farmer’s Daughter series.

Author Links:

Website – http://www.pegcochran.com/

Newsletter Sign Up – http://www.pegcochran.com/newsletter-signup.html

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pegcochran

Twitter – https://twitter.com/@pegcochran

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5352603.Peg_Cochran

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/peg-cochran

Purchase Links:

Amazon B&N Kobo

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