Posted in author news

Mid-September Author News: Stories, Books, and Cats

I hope you’re all doing well. During this pandemic, the focus is on health which reminds us how important it is to our well-being. I recently took a fall and received a minor if not aggravating injury to my rib cage. I have to limit my lifting and modify some of my other activities including my exercise and household tasks. I’m lucky that my accident wasn’t worse, but it made me realize how easy it is to become hurt or ill and that every day of health shouldn’t be taken for granted.

While I had some bad luck this past week, I’ve also received some good news. I’ve been elected an officer on the Cat Writers’ Association’s council. As a long-time member of this organization that supports and promotes all cat-related media, I am honored to have been elected.

STORY NEWS

Another piece of good news that I’m happy to report is that my two rescue cats, Harry and Hermione, are featured in the new release, Second-Chance Cats: True Stories of the Cats we Rescue and The Cats Who Rescue Us, that will be published on September 15. This book also includes rescue stories by several other Cat Writers’ Association members and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio, and eBook.My story about Harry and Hermione and other fateful experiences are included in Chapter 13 of Why People Believe in God: True Stories of  Encountering God by Reverend John H. Krahn. All 3 of my cats, Harry, Hermione, and Stripey appear in fellow CWA member Sandra Toney’s article about bedtime routines which can be read here.Most of my writing involves cats, sometimes mine and sometimes fictional ones based on mine. Although I write mostly mysteries, I recently submitted a science fiction tale featuring alien cats to the new Red Penguin Collection’s What Lies Beyond, a science fiction anthology. They are accepting submissions through September 15 for this anthology and will publish future anthologies featuring different themes. Check the website for more details and, while you’re there, check out the other exciting opportunities with Red Penguin Books including their author podcasts and new literary journal. https://redpenguinbooks.com/the-red-penguin-collection/BOOK NEWS

I’ve submitted my 5th Cobble Cove cozy mystery to Solstice Publishing and hope to have some updates about it in the October Author News. In the meantime, here’s a tentative blurb for No Gravestone Unturned.

It’s October in Cobble Cove, and Alicia is busy preparing for the library’s Halloween party when she learns that John’s aunt from Florida has died and that John’s cousins and their spouses are coming to town to bury their mother. The day after the funeral, the caretaker’s son is found dead by John’s grandfather’s gravestone, from a blow on the head. The only witness seems to be Sneaky the library cat, who, having left the library, turned up at Alicia’s door with blood and dirt on him.

As Alicia, Gilly, and Sheriff Ramsay investigate, a generation of family secrets is uncovered. Are one of the guests staying at the inn a killer? Will the humans solve the crime, and can Sneaky, Kittykai, and Salem, the inn’s guest cat, team up to help?

In October, I should also have more updates about Pet Posts: The Cat Chats, the non-fiction cat book that I’m self-publishing.Lastly, I would like to ask two favors. My new standalone mystery, Memory Makers, is in the running for the AllAuthor September cover-of-the-month contest. It has made it to the second round. To get into the third round it needs to be in the top 50 books. The last day to vote for Round 2 is September 14. If Memory Makers gets into the third round, you can vote again for it starting on September 15. If you like the cover, please vote for it here.

The blog tour for Memory Makers ends on September 21. Follow it here for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

The second favor is to vote for Harry and Hermione in the Remember Me Thursday contest. If you vote for my story, I could win a prize and the Golden Paw Society, Inc., the rescue from which I adopted them, would receive some money to support their organization. This contest ends on September 30. Vote here to support Harry and Hermione and the Golden Paw Society Rescue.

Posted in Conference

The Cat Writers’ Association Awards Ceremony Goes Virtual and Everyone is Invited

Last year, the Cat Writers’ Association celebrated its 25th Anniversary Conference in St. Louis. This year, due to the pandemic, this stellar event will be virtual. This is a great opportunity for non-members who produce cat-related material (stories, books, videos, poems, photography, art, etc.) to learn more about this great organization and for anyone else who might be curious about it. I’ve been a member for over twenty years. Joining this group has helped me grow as a writer, network with other authors and cat lovers, and make many new friends.

This year, I received three Certificates of Excellence in CWA’s annual communication’s contest. My winning entries included my short story, “Sneaky’s Christmas Mystery“; my pet character’s blog, Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog; and my Petsit.com article, “Keeping Your Indoor Pets Safe from Houshold Hazards.

During the Awards Ceremony, the winners of the Muse Medallion, the most coveted prize of the Cat Writers’ Association, will be announced. Those who received Certificates of Excellence are eligible to win in the categories in which they won the certificates. My cats are keeping their paws crossed that I will win a Muse this year.

CWA is also hosting a fundraiser for a great cause, Tabby’s Place Cat Sanctuary. All donations will be entered into a raffle for wonderful prizes. The winners will be drawn on August 16. More details can be found here. You can also view some videos of Tabby’s Place on my cat character’s Feature Friday blog post.

I hope you’ll be able to join me and the other members of the Cat Writers’ Association on Saturday, August 8, at 7 pm EST. The event will be live streamed on the CWA Facebook page and the Glammies to Jammies event page, as well as on Zoom. Don’t miss this pawsome event. Your kitties can even attend with you.

Posted in author news

August Author News: Events, Books, and Cats

This may be slightly early, but it’s only because I have a lot of news to share with you all. Including several events coming up this week.

On Wednesday, July 29 at 12 noon, I’ll be appearing on the Crimeless Cat on Facebook talking about my cats, cat books, and more. If you can’t make it, the video will remain up on that page to be viewed later.

On Friday, July 31, at 1 p.m., I’ll be participating in an author takeover on the Cozy Mystery Village where I’ll be sharing information about my Cobble Cove cozy mystery books and stories and also hosting a giveaway.

On Wednesday, August 5, I’ll be appearing on Stephanie Larkin’s Between the Covers TV show at 7 p.m. EST.

Adorable graphic courtesty of the Cat Writers’ Association

On Saturday, August 8, I’ll be attending the Cat Writers’ Association’s virtual awards ceremony where I and fellow members will learn if we’ve won muse medallions or other awards for our contest entries. I’ve already received three certificates of excellence for them. There will also be raffle prizes and special guest presenters. Everyone is welcome to attend. The event page for this pawsome event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/310318276778464/

Also, in August, I will be self publishing a non-fiction book called Pet Posts: The Cat Chats that include blog posts and articles “written” by my current cats and those from twenty years ago. The posts will include feline health, behavior, and humorous articles. I don’t have a cover to share yet, but here’s a teaser featuring the 4 cat “authors” of the book.

Last but not least, my new release, Memory Makers, will be on blog tour with Silver Dagger Book Tours from August 21 to September 21. It will feature a great giveaway. More details will follow.

I hope you’ll be able to attend, view, or participate in my July and August events and look for the publication of my forthcoming cat book.

Posted in article, Cats

Cat Article: “Giving Love a Second Chance” (Cat Fancy, December 1998)

When I was cleaning my house during the time I was home, I found a bunch of cat articles I wrote for various pet magazines many years ago. I’ve started scanning them because, in most cases, those magazines no longer exist. Here is one from Cat Fancy, December 1998, that was one of my first pieces and I believe the one that helped me attain professional membership in the Cat Writers’ Association

Posted in author news

June 2020 Author News and Updates

Hello, Readers. I hope you are all well, staying safe, and enjoying your “new normal” summer. At the beginning of June, I created a survey that I sent to my blog and newsletter subscribers. I also posted it on my social media sites. From that survey, I learned that many of my readers would prefer my publishing the first series of a new cozy. Although I just signed a contract for a medical, non-cozy mystery (but even my non-cozies feature cozy elements), I’m working on the final revisions for a new cozy that I’m hoping to submit in early July.

The survey also showed that readers want more of my author news and regular work-in-progress excerpts, so I’ve decided to post updates to this blog twice a month and updates to my newsletter monthly.

Here’s the blurb I’ve written for my forthcoming mystery, Memory Makers, that will be published by Next Chapter. Note that my publisher may edit this blurb when it’s published and that the cover has yet to be created.

Twenty-five years ago, Lauren Phelps and her sister Patty were kidnapped from their backyard on Long Island. Lauren escaped her captor, but Patty was killed. Ever since that day, Lauren has suffered from nightmares of the “Shadow Man.” In an effort to recall his face and avenge her sister’s murder, Lauren, now a kidnap investigator, enrolls in a clinical trial for a new memory drug.

Leaving her two kittens in her mother’s care and her partner Rick Dexter working on the case of a kidnapped boy, she travels to the offices of Memory Makers in California. As she receives the injections of the Memory Maker’s serum, she begins to experience flashbacks of repressed memories about her family and their neighbors. Along with these flashbacks, she receives threats from an anonymous source that point back to her childhood trauma. Suspecting that someone at Memory Makers is behind these warnings, she becomes involved with a fellow trial participant who seeks to recall what happened the night his wife was murdered. 

Will Lauren remember the face of the “Shadow Man” before her sister’s killer acts again and finishes what he started twenty-five years ago?

I’ve also compiled a tentative schedule of writing goals. Because life often gets in the way, these goals are subject to change, but I’m trying my best to meet them. Here’s a breakdown of my goals through 2022:

June 2020 Memory Makers (Medical Mystery) – submitted and signed contract with Next Chapter Publishers

July 2020 The Case of the Cat Crazy Lady: Rainbow Gardens Pet Mystery #1 – (cozy mystery) submit to agents/publishers

August 2020  self-published non-fiction cat book

October 2020 Cobble Cove #5– (cozy mystery)- submit to Solstice Publishing

January 2021  Supernatural mystery submit to publishers

April 2021 Rainbow Gardens Pet Mystery #2 – submit to publisher

July 2021 Time travel mystery – submit to publishers

October 2021 Rainbow Gardens Pet Mystery #3 – submit to publishers

January 2022 Second in series of time travel mystery – submit to publishers

While these goals don’t reflect any of my short stories and articles, I also plan to write them and would like to compile a collection of my short mysteries. I’m also hoping to write another Cobble Cove short mystery Sneaky’s Summer Mystery, later this summer and maybe another non-fiction cat book.

Among other news, I’ve received three Certificates of Excellence from the Cat Writers’ Association and am in the running for the highly prized muse medallion as well as prizes from contest sponsors. Winners are selected during their Virtual Awards Ceremony on Saturday, August 8, 2020.

 

For those of you who haven’t read my psychological mystery, Sea Scope, the ebook will be on sale for 99 cents from June 30 to July 4 and makes a great summer read.

In the next Author’s Update, I will post some excerpts from my new cozy mystery work-in-progress.

Posted in Podcasts, videos

My Interview on Once and Future Authors

I was interviewed by Stephanie Larken for her “Once and Future Authors” video podcast. During the interview, I discussed the various types of genre writing and their subgenres. I spoke about my own mystery writing including my cozy mystery series and my short stories and cat articles. I explained how I got started in writing and the support and motivation I’ve received from the Cat Writers’ Association and Sisters-in-Crime groups.

 

Posted in Authors, Books

Why Writers Shouldn’t Give Up

I’m participating in the Writing Contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer. The idea behind the contest is to write a blog post to inspire other authors to keep writing. In this crazy, competitive field, it’s very easy to become discouraged. Like other authors, I’ve gone through spells of depression and dissatisfaction with myself and my work. There were numerous times I was prepared to throw in the towel, chuck my writing, spend more time with my family and friends, and only write for myself if I felt the need. But this feeling passed when I reminded myself of how far I’ve come and the way I’ve touched readers’ lives by sharing my words with them.

I’ve been writing professionally for over thirty years. Because I’m an animal lover, and it’s always a good idea to write what you know or at least what you can research, I started by publishing articles in pet magazines. My first two articles about my cats enabled me to become a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association. A few years later, my first mystery story, “Stitches in Time,” appeared in the anthology, Cat Crimes Through Time.  In 2008, after my cat Floppy passed away, I self-published my first book, Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance about a woman who participates in a virtual seance to save the man she loves. I featured Floppy as a character and the backstory included fictional details from my college days as an editor on the student newspaper at Long Island University/C. W. Post campus. I had no idea how to market the book, so I didn’t sell many copies, but I got a copy on the shelf at the library where I worked as a librarian.

I didn’t write again until 2015 because I thought I was too busy with work and family obligations. That was an excuse. I now realize that I stopped because I’d lost faith in myself and my ability to write because I hadn’t sold many copies of my first book. I came out of this funk when a patron at my library who’d read Cloudy Rainbow encouraged me to keep writing. She told me she believed I had talent and that I should follow my dream of being an author. I was hesitant to listen to her, but her words finally got through to me. I was inspired to write another book. This time, instead of self publishing the book, I began to look for a publisher. Having become involved in social media, I entered a Twitter competition called #Pit2Pub. It was through this competition that several small publishers contacted me and asked to read my complete manuscript. I ended up signing with one of them for A Stone’s Throwthe first book of what would become my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series that now totals four books.

Although I was thrilled to have landed a publisher, albeit a small one that focused on publishing eBooks, things didn’t turn out the way I’d envisioned them. I wasn’t paid an advance, and my royalties often totalled less than two digits. However, I’d met other authors, both those who wrote for my publisher and those who belonged to online Indie author groups, who showed me that they were in the same boat as I was. I no longer focused on making money but on reaching readers. It made my day when someone wrote a 5-star review for my book on Amazon or told me in person at the library that they loved the characters and the twist at the end of my book.

I was feeling better about myself and my writing until my publisher turned down the second book of my series. I was devastated. I thought my writing career was over before it really began. Then I saw an announcement for another #Pit2Pub competition. I figured that I had nothing to lose by entering, but I was worried that no one would want the second book of a series. As it turned out, I heard from a different publisher, Solstice Publishing, and signed a contract with them for Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceAlso, after getting my rights back from my first publisher, Solstice reprinted A Stone’s Throw with a new cover and updated edits. They also reprinted Cloudy Rainbow as a tenth-anniversary edition. I currently have six books and several stories published by them and have signed for two holiday eBook stories that will be published this December.

Last year, I found a second publisher, Creativia, now known as Next Chapter, through another author. I had an unpublished psychological mystery, Sea Scope, that I’d been shopping around to agents hoping to publish it with a larger publisher. I was attracted by Next Chapter because of its marketing approach, attractive covers, and the formats in which its booked were published. In May 2019, Sea Scope was published in paperback, eBook, and large type editions. The audio was released afterwards on Audible, and hardcover copies are scheduled soon.

Despite my success and experience with seven published books and three publishers, I still haven’t achieved my dream. I’m still seeking an agent and traditional publisher. I know that this dream is possible, but I also know that agents receive tons of queries. It’s hard to stand out in the current competitive book market, but that’s no reason to stop trying. I truly believe that whatever your writing dream is, you can achieve it as long as you don’t give up.

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 Books, Cat Writer's Association, Conference, Contest, local author event, Love on the Rocks, New Releases, pre-sale

My Spring News: Awards, Events, and New Release

My spring calendar is bursting with writing activity.

In April, I’ll be attending Long Island’s Local Author Fair with fellow members of LIAG (Long Island Author’s Group) and other local writing associations. This event will take place on Saturday, April 6, at the Tilles Center on the LIU/C.W. Post Campus. Admission is free, and it runs from 3 to 8 pm. There’ll be over fifty authors participating, keynote speaker, Steve Israel, panels, and book signings. I’m looking forward to a great day meeting and chatting with authors and readers. If you’re in the Long Island area, I hope you can make it.

In May, I’ll be traveling to St. Louis, Missouri for the 25th anniversary conference of the Cat Writer’s Association. I recently received a Certificate of Excellence in their annual contest for my cozy mystery, Love on the Rocks, and will be up for a special award at their banquet. I’ll also be signing books at a fundraiser for the Humane Society on Friday night, May 17. This event is open to the public and will take place at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch.

 

Also in May, my new mystery, Sea Scope, will also be released, but it’s on pre-sale now.

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?

Looking forward to a great season.