Posted in author news, events

August Book and Event News

I hope you’re all enjoying your summers. I’ve been working on some writing projects and taking day trips as well as planning a longer one soon. I’ve cut back on a few promos this month but I do have a few things scheduled.

On August 26 at 7 pm EST, I’ll be moderating and participating in a pet author panel with other members of the Cat Writers’ Association for my library’s summer reading program event. Since it will take place virtually in Zoom, anyone can attend. Click here to register.

I’m also happy to announce that my cat book of poetry, “Meows and Purrs: A Collection of Cat Poems” has been accepted by Next Chapter Publishing. While there is not release date yet, it should be out soon. Below is a sample poem from the book. The cover image may not be the final one for the published copy.

MINI PANTHER

Mini Panther

Dark as night

Golden eyes shining bright.

Tame yet wild

Stalking prey

On a string I wave.

Crouching low

Ready to spring

At the sound

Of the catfood tin.

Mini Panther

Sleek and slim

Sturdy body, long lean limbs

Tiny black kitten

Now full grown

My Mini Panther guards our home.

*This poem is dedicated to Harry, my handsome and friendly mini panther.

Posted in Authors, Cat Writers' Association, events

Invitation to a Free Virtual Cat Author Event

I’ll be appearing on a panel with 4 other authors who write cat cozies and other books featuring felines. If you are a cat lover, are owned by a cat, or are just interested in cats or cat writing, you will enjoy this online event hosted by the Broward County Library. Read more about this event and register for free at http://broward.libnet.info/event/5099468

Posted in Cozy Mysteries, holidays

Happy Cozy Mystery Day!

We celebrate International Cozy Mystery day on September 15, the birthday of Agatha Christie. For those who don’t know what a cozy mystery is, it’s the type of writing that Ms. Christie was famous for. It involves murder of the less gory kind and an absence of explicit sex and violence. It usually takes place in a small town. There can be recipes or pets as central themes in the mystery along with an off-scene murder to solve and a cast of quirky characters with interesting professions.

I write a cozy mystery series called. Cobble Cove mysteries, for the name of the fictional town in which they are set. It includes a librarian and a library cat. A reviewer of the first book of the series, A Stone’s Throw, termed the story, “Agatha Christie meets a small town librarian.”


My recent standalone mystery, Sea Scope, was reviewed as “Imagine Agatha Christie Writing a Psychological Thriller.”

People enjoy reading cozy mysteries because they become familiar with the characters and like the settings. Some of my favorite cozies feature cats, as do mine. I’ve enjoyed fellow Cat Writer’s Association members books such as Carole Nelson Douglas‘ Midnight Louis series, Shirley Rousseau’s Joe Grey tales, and, Mollie Hunt’s Crazy Cat Lady series. For food-related mysteries, I like Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson mysteries. Mary Feliz, who provided some of the graphics included in this post, is a fellow Sisters-in-Crime member, and also a cozy mystery author who writes the Maggie McDonald series that features a Golden Retriever. Another SINC member, Marilyn Levinson who writes as Allison Brook writes a cozy that features a librarian and a ghost. Her latest in the Haunted Library series, Buried in the Stacks, was just released. A fellow author from Next Chapter, James J. Cudney IV, writes mysteries taking place on college campuses. The fifth book in his Braxton Campus mysteries, Haunted House Ghost, was also just released.

Do you have a favorite cozy mystery author or series, or haven’t you read a cozy mystery yet? Have you read any of mine? I’d love to hear your comments.

 

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 Authors, Books, Cats, Cozies, Cozy Chat, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series

Cozy Chat with Ali Brandon (Diane A.S. Stuckart)

cozycatpicAlthough I consider myself a romantic suspense author and fan, I also used to be an avid reader of cozy mysteries especially those featuring cats. For those of you who also share that interest, I will be featuring Cozy Chats with cozy mystery authors on this blog. If you are an author who writes a cozy series and would like to participate in a future Cozy Chat, please contact me.

di pink pink headshotToday, I have the pleasure of speaking with Diane A.S. Stuckart (pen name Ali Brandon) about her Black Cat Bookshop mystery series.

Hi, Diane. Thanks for joining us on Cozy Chat. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.
plot boiler largeCan you tell us a little bit about your Black Cat Bookshop mystery series? What gave you the idea for it and what is your latest book in it?

PLOT BOILER, my November 2015 release, is Number 5 in the series which features Hamlet the Cat and his human, Darla Pettistone. Here’s the series in a nutshell: Texas transplant Darla Pettistone inherited a Brooklyn brownstone from her late great-aunt, complete with a quirky independent bookstore known as Pettistone’s Fine Books. What Darla didn’t expect was that she’d also be the new caretaker of Hamlet, a big black cat with a cat-itude to match. But Darla soon finds that she and the ornery feline make a purr-fectly paw-some sleuthing team. As for the original idea, the premise of Hamlet came from my first editor, but the bookstore and all the other characters are mine. We wanted to give readers a return to the neighborhood bookstore, which unfortunately is an endangered species these days.

I know excactly what you mean. Your series sounds great. I’m a sucker for anything mysterious with cats and books in it, so I definitely have to add some of these books to my TBR pile. In my own novels, that some consider cozy mysteries but I think of as romantic suspense, I always try to feature at least one cat. In A STONE’S THROW, my November release and the first of my Cobble Cove novels, I have Sneaky the library cat as one of the characters. He’s Siamese like my own Oliver. I also have a dog in the book, Fido. Both pets play important yet minor roles.

Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?

In my opinion, a successful cozy series must have good “bones”—a likable protagonist, a series “hook”, and a cast of characters that readers come to know and see as friends. While the mystery portion of the book (including its solving) is obviously a vital element, in my opinion what matters most is the interaction among the characters and how the murder affects them.

That’s a good point. I agree that cozy mysteries are character-driven. I feel my books are very much like that, as well. My main character, Alicia, is a librarian who moves to the small town of Cobble Cove and meets newspaper publisher, John, and the town’s other quirky residents. I feel the murders and other crimes that take place as the book progresses and those I hope will follow are interesting, but, as you said, it’s the characters’ interactions that feed the plot and that I believe will appeal to readers.

What are you currently working on?

After the release of Plot Boiler, I’m taking a break for the time being, but I am playing with an idea for another historical mystery series set during the Renaissance. And I still have a couple of my vintage historical romances that I intend to republish on Kindle. Hopefully we will be seeing more Hamlet mysteries to come.

Sounds good. Do you write any other genres than cozies? You mentioned historical mysteries.

Yes. I started out writing historical romance under the names Alexa Smart and Anna Gerard. After that, I contributed short fiction to several anthologies with themes ranging from mystery to fantasy. My first foray into the mystery genre was writing the (unfortunately short-lived) Leonardo da Vinci mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. And from there I started writing the Black Cat Bookshop mysteries.

Very interesting. My first published work besides the cat articles I still write was  a short mystery for Cat Crimes Through Time back when the Cat Crimes anthologies by Martin Greenberg and Ed Gorman were popular. I wrote “Stitches in Time” about Betsy Ross’ cat which I guess you would consider a historical mystery. I was so excited to have my story featured with some already famous cat mystery authors such as Carole Nelson Douglas, who I’m still in contact with today and hope to feature on a future cozy chat.

Can you tell me how you got started in writing?

I was a journalism major in college, but before that I was on the high school newspaper and was always at the top of the class when it came to writing papers for English class. I figured I had a knack for putting words to paper and decided to give book writing a try once I left school.

Wow, Diane, we have a lot in common. I was an English major in college and Features Editor on the college newspaper, The Pioneer, at C.W. Post. I think journalism training is a great way to gain experience in writing.

What are your hobbies besides writing?

I’m a founding member of the Gold Coast Paranormal Society, a volunteer organization of “ghost hunters” here in South Florida. I also collect Tarot and Lenormand card decks, and I enjoy doing “crafty” things. And, of course, I love to read.

We have even more similarities. I used to enjoy astrology and occult arts including Tarot when I was younger. I don’t dabble much in it anymore, but I always found it fun. I also used to crochet, but I don’t have much time for hobbies besides reading and writing today since I work full-time as a librarian and have a daughter now.

Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?

Rescue cats (and dogs!) make the greatest pets, a subject I try to mention in all the Hamlet books. Keep on reading, and consider adopting!

Great advice. Do you have any links you’d like to share with our readers?

www.alibrandon.com

facebook.com/blackcatbookshopmysteries

Thank you so much for joining us on Cozy Chat today, and good luck with your future books.