Posted in holidays

The First Thanksgiving After Mom

I have a lot to be thankful for — my husband and daughter; my full-time job as a librarian and my second career as an author; my church and community; my health and successful weight loss, and much more. But, like so many people, I feel a bit depressed with the coming holidays. I recall last year when my daughter, husband, and I went out to Thanksgiving dinner with my brothers and their wives and my mother. Mom had been a resident at her nursing home for five years by then and enjoyed being taken out during the holidays. We lost her this summer to a combination of recurring infections and increasing dementia.

For those who are also missing a seat at the table this year, I know how you feel. Not only did my family lose my mother in 2018, but we also lost her cat who we’d taken in when she went into the nursing home. Oliver became a beloved part of our household, and his presence will be very missed, as well.

On the bright side, our family gained three new members this year. No, I didn’t have another child. I’m talking about pets. In addition to Stripey who’s been with us for ten years, we now have two kittens adopted from a cat cafe and shelter, Harry and Hermione. We also have a betta fish, Betta Blue. I’ve shared their stories on this blog: https://wp.me/p6m4z7-1Pe and also on Pens, Paws, and Clawshttps://bit.ly/2DAySD8So life goes on. We celebrate with heavy hearts but hope that we’ll see our loved ones again one day. For now, we make the most of each day appreciating what we have and who’s still at our table. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones. May they always be in your heart if not by your side.

Posted in Podcasts

My Podcast with Yvonne Mason’s Off the Chain Radio Show

On Friday, June 16, it was my pleasure to speak with Yvonne Mason, the hostess of Off the Chain Radio, a podcast show broadcasted in 65 countries and heard by a following of 20,000 fans.

I spoke about my childhood, growing up reading books and dreaming of becoming a writer. We also spoke about my lifelong affection for pets especially cats and how I feature them in my books and articles. We discussed my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series including the third and latest title, Written in Stone, and my other books and short stories published by Solstice Publishing. I also described my goal of seeking representation by an agent for my psychological thriller, Sea Scope, that I’d like to publish with a larger publisher. 

The complete broadcast can be heard here on BlogTalk Radio:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/yvonnemason/2017/06/17/author-debbie-delouise

and also on Speaker:

http://www.spreaker.com/user/yvonnemason/author-debbie-de-louise

 

Posted in Monday blogs

Why are Cats So Popular on the Internet?

Have you ever wondered why cats get so much attention on the Internet? According to Wikipedia.com, “Images and videos of domestic cats make up some of the most viewed content on the web.” The New York Times describes cat images as “that essential building block of the Internet.” A past exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image was even devoted to “How Cats Took Over the Internet.” http://nyti.ms/2mQftWu

 

 

 

 

The Internet even has its cat stars such as Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub as well as the favorite feline duo of Cole & Marmalade. But a cat doesn’t have to be special to be on the Internet. People love to post about their own pets. There are a large number of social media groups devoted to cats, and Pinterest and YouTube overflow with cat images and videos.

As a cat lover, I don’t object to the proliferation of felines online. In fact, I enjoy posting photos of my handsome Siamese, Oliver and his tabby brother, Stripey.

Here are ten reasons I believe cats are so popular on the internet. Feel free to add more in the comments:

  1. They’re cute – from kittens to seniors, cats are aesthetically appealing. Artists have painted, drawn, and photographed them. 
  2. They’re funny – cats can get into the oddest situations and do the strangest antics. YouTube has an abundance of Funny Cat Videos. Check this link for a recent compilation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njSyHmcEdkw
  3. People Love them – Cats are very popular household pets. Approximately 35% of all households in the United States have a cat (Source: American Pet Products Association 2015-2016 (APPA))
  4. They are intelligent – Cats are very smart. They can be trained to do many interesting things. Some have traveled miles to reunite with their owners. Others have saved their human companions from house fires and other disasters by alerting them to danger. 
  5. They are courageous – Check out this Wikipedia entry about Scarlett, the cat who risked her life to save her kittens from a fire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlett_(cat)
  6. They have spirit – Cats can be very independent, but there’s something about them that allows them to wrap their paws around you. No one owns a cat, as most cat owners have learned. 
  7. Cats have played interesting roles in history – from being treated like Kings in Egypt and saviors after they killed the rats that carried the Bubonic Plague to being feared as Witches’ familiars, cats always seem to make the news.
  8. Cats are very intuitive – Cats have highly tuned senses and can almost appear to be psychic the way they can tell when you’re arriving home, not feeling well, or angry over something.
  9. Cats are good for your health – numerous studies have shown the benefits of petting a cat and the relaxing affect of their purrs on people.
  10. Cats are loyal and loving but not smothering – Although cats are independent creatures, they can bond closely with humans still retaining their own space.

Here are photos of my cats. I’d love to see some of yours. 

 

 

Posted in Books, Cats

Announcing Sneaky the Library Cat’s Blog

sneakysbloggraphic

Sneaky the Siamese from my Cobble Cove mysteries complained that he was overshadowed by the human characters in the first book, A STONE’S THROW, even though he helped Alicia discover an important clue. Then, after he looked through my draft of the sequel, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, that is coming out soon, he wasn’t happy with the prime scenes I allotted him. Those who know cats are aware that felines can be very stubborn when they want to be, so I came up with an idea to appease his pride. I helped Sneaky start his own blog called Sneaky the Library Cat’s blog: Scooping the Shelves of Cat “Litter” ature. This blog, transcribed by me, will feature Sneaky’s interviews of other cat characters (and occasionally a special guest dog or other animal). It will also include timely news and articles of interest to cats and their humans.

Sneaky has had a large response from cats seeking to appear on the blog, but he is still on the prowl for more guests. If you’re an author who has a cat in any of your books who would like to be featured on Sneaky’s blog, please send an email to sneakylibrarycat@gmail.com.

To read about Sneaky’s venture in further detail, please visit his blog at:  https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com.

Posted in Authors, blog challenge, Books

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: My Cat Collection

blogchallengegraphicupdatedI’m very excited to participate in the blog challenge Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

catcollecting2catcollecting4editedThe topic of this week’s challenge is collections. I used to be an avid collector of all types of cat items — cat plates, cat music boxes, cat statues, cat knick knacks, cat jewelry, cat clothing, and, of course, cat books.

catcollecting5catcollecting6Not only did I collect cat objects, but I found creative ways to store and display them. Many of my delicate figurines are contained inside a tower of boxes featuring cats, while a bunch of round, cat-decorated boxes are home to my cat jewelry and scarves. Some of my Cat’s Meow Village pieces grace the window in my office while several figurines line my bedroom bookshelf.

I became so addicted to cat collecting that I even joined Cat Collectors, an international organization established by Marilyn Dipboye in 1982. It had its own newsletter, Cat Talk, published by Karen Shanks and even an annual conference. Although this organization is no longer active, I located a similar Facebook group that might be

catcollecting1I became so addicted to cat collecting that I even joined Cat Collectors, an international organization established by Marilyn Dipboye in 1982. It had its own newsletter, Cat Talk, published by Karen Shanks and even an annual conference. Although this organization is no longer active, I located a similar Facebook group that seems to be its successor: https://www.facebook.com/Cat.Collectors/

I don’t collect as many cat items as I once did mainly because there isn’t room for them in my house. However, if I come across a unique cat item or one that I can’t resist, I allow myself to splurge on it. Cat collectibles are still very popular and can be found at craft fairs, street fairs, festivals, garage sales, souvenir shops, antique shops, gift shops, department stores, and, of course, on Ebay, Amazon.com, and other online sites.

Here is the 1985 article about Cat Collectors: http://trib.in/29RMPyf

This is the Ebay site for listings of cat collectibles: http://ebay.to/29BtVrm

You can find some cat figurines through this search on Amazon: http://amzn.to/29GLB6G

This is the link to the Cat’s Meow Village collectibles site: https://www.catsmeow.com/

A Few Cat Collectible gift sites:

http://bit.ly/29Givs2

http://bit.ly/29BtNrY

http://bit.ly/29Tu9zM

 

 

 

Posted in Monday Blog

The Pain of Pets Passing

floppymemorial2It’s never easy to say goodbye to a beloved pet. I was reminded of this recently when a fellow author and editor of my publisher had to put her dear dog to sleep and another author friend lost her young cat suddenly. Their stories touched me and brought back sad memories of all the wonderful pets I’ve had through the years who are now gone but still in my heart.

My very first encounter with death as a young child was when a sweet kitten my mother brought home from a pet store died from feline leukemia. I went on to loving and losing many more special pets. My last was Floppy, a gray and white shorthair I had for 15 years. When I first brought Floppy home to the apartment I shared with my new husband, I discovered he suffered from asthma. Our vet put him on Prednisone and warned us it might have some side effects. At 8, Floppy developed diabetes. I learned to administer insulin shots to him, but he started having problems with his liver and also suffered a bout of pancreatitis. My husband and I spent a small fortune on hospitalizations, and he rallied several times, but the time arrived when I knew I had no choice but to let him go. I was just glad I could be there as the vet gave him that final injection. It was one of the saddest days of my life.

cloudyrainbowAfter Floppy passed away, I didn’t get another cat right away. I wrote a book that featured him as a character in it, “Cloudy Rainbow,” and I self-published it in the hope that others who have lost a pet might find some comfort through reading it. My vet even placed a copy in his waiting room. I found some other ways to memorialize Floppy. I enrolled him in an online pet memorial site that features pets (for a fee, although many others are now free) and offers a candle lighting ceremony. I also purchased a framed photo holder that included a copy of the famous Rainbow Bridge poem about pets being reunited with their owners in a special area of heaven reserved for animals.

olivercatI now have two cats. One of them, Oliver, a Siamese, is considered elderly at the age of 16. He was my mother’s cat but has been with us for three years. I was reluctant to take him in initially, but my daughter insisted. She was very young when Floppy passed away but still remembers him. Oliver has bonded with both of us and is a wonderful addition to our family. I know I will miss him immensely when he passes, but I am enjoying every day with him until that time.

Since I thought I’d lose Floppy earlier than I did, I was prepared with a pet casket I purchased online. I am thinking of cremating Oliver and keeping his ashes in a special memorial urn. I’m hoping it will not be necessary to make that decision for some time. No matter how short or long a beloved pet is with you it is never enough.

I’m including some links to sites that offer pet loss support as well as sell pet caskets and urns. These are for information only. I am not endorsing any of them, and you can find dozens and dozens of others.

Losing a pet is like losing a member of the family, and, although the grief subsides eventually, those special fur kids leave pawprints on our hearts forever.

http://www.rainbowbridge.com/

http://www.petcaskets.com/

http://www.petmemorial.com/

https://www.ilovedmypet.com/

http://www.petloss.com/

https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/services/pet-loss-support-group

http://www.memorial-urns.com/Pet-Urns/

http://www.perfectmemorials.com/pet-urns/

 

 

Posted in Cats, Monday Blog

10 Fascinating Reasons to be crazy About Cats

oliverstripey  According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), there are over 30 million households with cats in the United States. Although this figure is lower than the number of dog households, more cats are owned per household than dogs. Here are the statistics: https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx

Why are pet cats so popular, but even more important, why are people so crazy about them? Below are 10 fascinating reasons, but there probably are a ton more.

1. They provide comfort when you’re sad or sick. Your cat can’t catch your cold or flu, so he or she doesn’t mind getting up close with you while you are ill. I’ve always considered my cats furry nurses. Their purrs are quite soothing, and if you’re depressed, there’s nothing like some funny cat antics to brighten you up.

2. They’re good for your health and state of mind. Read this article that shows why cats are beneficial to your heart health and can aid in alleviating other medical and mental maladies. http://pazoo.com/health/11-reasons-cats-make-happier-healthier.

3. They saved the world. Some believe that if it hadn’t been for cats, the Bubonic Plague would’ve wiped out the world. Read this interesting article by Lisa J. Lehr on that topic: http://ezinearticles.com/?Cats,-People,-and-the-Black-Plague—Those-Who-Kept-Cats-Survived&id=161249

4. Many cats have become Internet stars or celebrities. I’m sure you’ve seen the number of cat photos that proliferate on social media. I was stunned at some posts with cat pics receiving 10,000 + likes. Cats such as Grumpy Cat, Little Bub, and others have risen to fame with their own websites, merchandise, and nationwide tours.

2015-11-11 17.08.05-15. They’re written about extensively. Besides all the non-fiction articles and books about cat breeds, medical issues, and other feline topics, there are multitudes of cat mystery books, cat series, cat science fiction, and other cat fiction. There is even a Cat Writer’s Association founded by Certified Animal Behavior Consultant and bestselling author, Amy Shojai(I’ve been a member of this wonderful organization for many years).

stripeycontest6. They’re funny and smart. People who really know cats appreciate feline humor and their cunning yet cute manipulative ways. It’s also true that cats can be trained if you know the tricks to persuading them to participate. Check out Gregory Popovich’s  popular Las Vegas Show, Comedy Pet Theater http://comedypet.com/ and Acrocats.

7. They’re masters of relaxation and stretching exercises. Take a look at this video featuring yoga wth cats. 

handsomeoliver8. Their beauty inspires artists and photographers alike. Da Vinci said of them, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”

9. Cats make great substitutes children, but some people consider them better than babies. Consider this comical comparison from “Little Meows.” http://littlemeows.com/comic-is-hilarious/

10. Cats are now being found in cafes throughout the world. Read this article written by Kelly-Jane Cotter about this new feline fad and add one to your trip’s next itinerary. http://www.app.com/story/entertainment/2016/03/16/cat-cafes-coffee-and-kitties-purrfectly-relaxing/80925764/.

Besides cafes, cats have always been popular in libraries. Here’s a map showing library cats around the world.  http://www.ironfrog.com/catsmap.html.

There’s a whole island devoted to them in Japan. http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/japan-cat-island/.

Amsterdam even has a boat that serves as a tourist attraction and cat sanctuary: http://thebestcatpage.com/2016/03/18/amsterdams-floating-sanctuary-cats-called-simply-cat-boat/.

For some reasons, women are stereotyped as cat crazy even though men can be wild about them, too. If you’re a cat crazy lady, you’ll enjoy Allia Zobels’ books: “Women Who Love Cats Too Much” and its recent sequel, “Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much.” If you’re a man, you should like Michael Showalter’s book, “Guys Can be Cat Ladies Too.”

For the furry finale to this blog post. Here are some additional photos of my own feline obsessions, Stripey and Oliver. Feel free to comment with photos of the cats you’re crazy about and why.2016-01-18 08.32.58olivercat

 

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Cats, Characters, Dogs

Interview with My Characters

interviewblogpostI decided to interview six characters from my upcoming novel, “A Stone’s Throw.” I conducted the interviews at the Cobble Cove Library, the main setting of the book. The people interviewed were:

Alicia Fairmont – Protagonist of “A Stone’s Throw.” She is forty-two, a librarian, and the widow of Peter Fairmont.

John McKinney – The newspaper publisher of the Cobble Cove Courier. He is forty-five, a widower, and Alicia’s new love interest in the novel.

Sheila Whitehead – The fifty-two year old director of the Cobble Cove library.

Jonathan McKinney, Sr. (Mac) – The eighty-year old founder of the Cobble Cove library who is semi-retired. He is John’s father.

Sneaky Cat – The Siamese library cat at Cobble Cove Library.

Fido – John and Mac’s old Golden retriever.

I asked all six the following three questions:

Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favorite and least favorite part of the book?

Why do you think Debbie chose you as a character in “A Stone’s Throw?”

What other characters did you like and dislike in the book?

The four humans sat around a table in the reading room of the Cobble Cove Library. Sneaky, the library cat, was in his cat bed by the Local History section, and Fido was at Mac’s side.

As the lead character, Alicia answered first. She shook her long, chestnut hair away from her face and paused as she considered my questions. “It’s hard not to give away spoilers, but I would say one of my favorite parts of the book was when John took me up to Cobble Point and showed me the view of the town and the cove. I think I started falling in love with him then.  As far as my least favorite part of the book, I think it was when I discovered something that implicated John in my husband’s murder, but I can’t elaborate on that without giving away too much of the plot.”

“I think Debbie chose me because I’m a librarian like she is, and I know authors prefer to write about what they know. I liked most of the townspeople in “A Stone’s Throw,” although it was hard to get to know Dora, the innkeeper, and Casey, the diner owner, at first. I also had mixed feelings about Sheila. The character I think I disliked the most was Detective Ramsay. He took the definition of ‘Bad’ cop a bit too far.”

Next up was John. He smiled, showing the dimple in his left cheek. “I really loved showing Alicia the town and walking around Dora’s garden at the inn. It was really fun to paint with her, too. I hated it when I had to admit my relationship with Tina, and it really hurt me when Alicia stopped trusting me.”

“Debbie probably chose me because I’m so good looking. Just joking. She needed a love interest for Alicia, and I filled the bill. It also helped that I was a newspaper publisher and was also dabbling at writing a mystery. I guess I was Debbie’s other half. Alicia was the librarian, and I was the writer.”

“I try to get along with most people, but Detective Ramsay really tried my patience.”

Sheila answered after John. She tossed her flaming red hair over her shoulder and kicked her boots out from under the table. “I liked showing my strength when I shoveled my walk with John after the snowstorm. I also really enjoyed having tea and chatting with Alicia when we were snowbound at the library. I didn’t like when I realized some of the stupid mistakes I’d made.”

“Debbie probably picked me because I was such a strong character, and I was close to John in a platonic way. I also didn’t like Detective Ramsay, and I almost told him where to shove it (excuse my language). I found Betty, the homebound, a bit exasperating, too, but I felt sorry for her.”

Sneaky meowed when it was his turn to “talk.” He jumped out of his cat bed and joined the group. “I liked the part where I got to sleep with Alicia and helped her find one of the big clues in the book. I didn’t like it when Alicia and John left me alone, and Mac forgot to feed me.”

“My cat sixth-sense tells me Debbie picked me for her book because I’m Siamese like her cat, Oliver. She also loves to write about cats and is even a member of the Cat Writer’s Association.”

“I didn’t like Sheila that much because she never wanted to clean my litter box and always left it up to Mac or John and even had Alicia do it.”

Fido barked for his turn. “I loved when John put me on the mission that was the pivotal point in the plot, but I can’t give that away. I didn’t like it when Alicia and Sheila doubted I was dog enough to help them because of my age.”

“I liked John and Mac the best because they were my owners. I didn’t like Detective Ramsay. He smelled bad literally.”

“I’d wager a bone that Debbie chose me because she had to consider the dog loving readers out there, but I also know that she likes all animals, even though she is partial to cats.”

Mac tapped his cane. “Don’t forget about me.  I loved the part where I told Alicia that things happen for a reason. That was the best line in the book. I didn’t like when John confronted me about issues in my past that forced me to reveal some things I’d done when I was young.”

“I would figure Debbie gave me a role in her book because I had the most experience and, if I wasn’t the smartest, at least I was the one who had the most sense.”

“The character I liked the most was John because he was my only son. I also grew to like Alicia a bunch. Sheila and I sometimes rubbed one another the wrong way, but I respected her. Ramsay was a rude guy, but he was only trying to do his job. Faraday was a lot nicer if you like cops.”

As the interview wrapped up, I thanked all the characters and told them I’d try being gentle when I edited their parts.

 

 

 

Posted in A Stone's Throw, Cats, Cloudy Rainbow, Romantic Suspense

A Writer’s Journey

journey1One of the hardest things I’ve had to accept in life is change, but, ironically, it’s usually been for the better. In the past nine months, I’ve lost over fifty pounds. I am slimmer than before I became pregnant with my daughter eleven years ago. I feel great. I am walking a half hour a day and am no longer out of breath, nor do I have any pains in my knees or legs that I’ve had in the past. The changes I’ve made in my diet and lifestyle have been gradual but persistent. It’s been a journey of determination, but it’s paid off.

My daughter is also on a journey as she enters adolescence. In the last year, I’ve seen her blossom into a young woman seemingly overnight. In a few weeks, she will be attending Middle School having made the decision to switch from the Catholic school she’s attended since Kindergarten. I know this will be a big change for her, but I’m confident she will meet new friends and expand her horizons academically and socially.

My writer’s journey is similar in many ways to my weight loss journey and my daughter’s growing up journey. It’s been slow but sure, and I haven’t always known where I’d end up. I’ve been writing since I was young. I recall my teachers praising my work in elementary school. I can still recall writing notebooks full of stories and novels in my teen years. When I learned to type, I was using a manual typewriter in those days. Making corrections with that chalky correction ribbon was darn hard!

After I married, I began writing magazine articles. I had two cats then (had cats all my life), and I used them for material. My special cat, Floppy, had asthma and then diabetes. I researched these health issues and wrote about them for veterinary journals. When Floppy passed away, I wrote “Cloudy Rainbow,” my self-published novel that I dedicated to him and my young daughter. Floppy was actually a character in it. At that point, my journey stalled. Working full-time as a librarian and caring for my daughter did not leave much time for writing.

It took seven years before I started again after a patron who’d read “Cloudy Rainbow” kept gently nudging me to write again. I began writing short stories and trying to sell them. I didn’t have much luck, but I also started a book. Somehow, the characters and plot of “A Stone’s Throw, my romantic suspense novel took shape. Writing a few pages each day, I ended up with 85,000 words. I spent several months editing it and sending it out to publishers for consideration. After posting a short pitch for the novel on Twitter, a few publishers contacted me for a query and sample chapters. Limitless Publishing requested the full manuscript and then offered me a contract. I signed with them and am now pre-editing the book before it is published. I am also working on another romantic suspense book, writing articles for my local paper, and Catster online magazine. I am enjoying this journey, although it is time consuming and difficult at times. As with any journey, it starts with a step in an unknown direction. You just keep walking, and you get there. I am meeting fellow authors through groups and social media, and I am learning from them, my fellow travelers on this path to publication. I look forward to sharing this journey with readers, as well. I hope they enjoy my tales as much as I enjoy creating them.