Ozark Creative Writers Conference 2014

Well, I’m exhausted, which is exactly how I should feel after two days and three nights of hanging out with wonderful authors from all over the area at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference.  There were fun workshops, but I think I spent far too much time just talking with the other writers there and hearing about their works in progress and stories from the year.

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I got to spend some nice chunks of time kvetching with the lovely Duke and Kimberly Pennell of Pen-L Publishing, who will be producing my adult book “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main” next fall. That’s the date we came up with for now at least. Can we call it an award-winning novel?

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Well, it won an award at the conference for in the category of unpublished manuscripts from High Hill Press, but it was only First Honorable Mention (aka 4th place). I wouldn’t want to be one of those authors that tries to make her work sound like more than it is. Maybe I’m just spoiled from having won a few First Place awards last year. Anything less was kind of disappointing. But, of course, you never know how many other people entered and what/who you were up against. I had honestly only entered this manuscript in the contest to catch the attention of the folks at High Hill Press and Pen-L Publishing. Since Pen-L already has it under contract, I guess I won the real prize I wanted in the end. Score!!

I also took home First Honorable Mention (4th place) in the Young Adult Short Story contest for an adapted version of “The Brave, Frail, and Delicate Princess.” It is really more middle grade, so I was grateful it got anything at all. And they didn’t do any other honorable mentions, which makes me think that they just wanted to be sure I got something for it. I’ll take that as good, even if it’s all in my head. This story definitely has legs to be developed into a nice middle grade book. I’ll add it to the list of projects!

Then there was a Second Honorable Mention in the Flash Fiction contest for a little 100 word piece called “Justice.” Considering the number of people who probably enter this quick category, I’ll smile and say thank you for getting anything on that one. It was a fun one. Maybe I’ll post it another time.

I only entered two of the other contest categories, so percentage-wise I did very well. Next year I’m taking over as a local contact and Conference Coordinator with the hotel since I live here in town, and “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main” will be hot off the presses. I doubt there will be any time to mess around with contests.

The fall fun continues on Wednesday night as we set up our booth at the War Eagle Fall Craft Fair, which runs Thursday to Sunday (Oct. 16-19). Literally thousands of people attend this event, but we have been gearing up and planning for it so we are ready. I just need to sleep for a day or two. I think I’ll go find Cheetara for a nap/cuddle… because she will let me.

 

Stanley & Katrina’s Book Blasty Tour

I’m thrilled to be the first stop in Stanley & Katrina’s Book Blasty Tour for the new book “The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals” written by Felicia Maziarz, which has already received a 5 Star rating from Reader’s Favorite.

My Reviewish Thoughts

Stanley the dog and Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge are the main characters and sort of authors of “The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals.”

Obstreperous means “resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly” or “noisy and disruptive.” I’ve been an English teacher and I had to look it up! What a great word. I wonder if that has been one of Stanley & Katrina’s Words of the Week yet. Anyhow…

The book is more a series of sassy and silly anecdotes about Stanley & Katrina’s lives and adventures instead of a full story. I found myself wondering how many of those stories had a little basis in fact, like the ones in my books.  Some chapters are from the perspective of one of the characters, and some from an all-knowing narrator (who is occasionally corrected by Katrina von Cat). I loved it and can see why it is getting such great ratings. I will be posting one myself on amazon.com today. 5 stars from me as well!

Kimba wanted me to be sure to mention that she felt that Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge was horribly maligned and mistreated throughout the book, and clearly Stanley and the owners do not understand that Katrina is not only a famous ice skating cat from Europe but she is also an alien — like all cats — and deserves more respect. She hopes Katrina will be the only star of any future books. Felicia can take that all with a grain of salt, as I’m sure she does with all advice coming from cats.

I should also offer huge congratulations to Felicia because on October 1 she won the Silver Award from the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards in the “Best Book by Youth Author (Under 18) for her first book (she was 9 when she wrote it), The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets. Go Felicia!!

Celebrating

Stanley and Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge are celebrating the release of their second book, The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals, by hosting their very own “Book Blasty Tour”. Thank you for taking the time to visit this special stop along their tour and be sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book

Title: The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals

Authors: Stanley & Katrina, Pet Authors

Year published:  2014

Number of pages: 106

Recommended ages: 10+ Independent Readers; 5+ Read-Aloud

Summary (Amazon): Cat and dog. It is a love/hate relationship. Stanley and Katrina are back to share more humorous glimpses into their exciting lives in their second book via short stories. Yes, the pets are at it again but this time compete in a slam poetry contest, visit a pet psychic, and much more.This cat and dog writing team makes you stop and wonder what happens at your house when you’re not there.

Book Preview Video

Click Here For The Video Preview!!

Amazon U.S. * Amazon U.K. * Amazon Canada

Barnes & Noble

The Buzz

“All the animal snippets are very funny. If you like animals and a good laugh, this is the book for you.” ~Carly K., Age 10

“Hilarious! Instantly became my favorite book!” ~Stephen E., Age 12

“You did it again! I loved reading about your crazy adventures!” ~Rachael S., Age 13

“Another one? How do they do this?” ~Stanley & Katrina’s owners

About the Authors: Stanley & Katrina

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Stanley and Katrina are the pet authors of The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals.

Stanley is a three-year-old black Labrador/Rottweiler mix who does his best to ignore Katrina. Stanley enjoys snow, attention and turkey.

Katrina von Cat the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge is an eight-year-old grey tabby cat who loves her toy mouse.She enjoys treats, naps and bossing the dog around.

Neighbor Girl (Felicia) is the human who knows us (Stanley& Katrina) the best and helps us with everything. She loves writing, reading, acting, singing, reading gymnastics, doodling, reading, ice skating, painting, reading, doing computer stuff, oh… did we mention reading? She is the co-creator and co-host of “The Write Chat.”

You may visit the entire gang online at www.StanleyAndKatrina.com.

Twitter * Facebook  * Google+

Pinterest  * Goodreads * YouTube

* Free Printables For This Book! *

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Kid Lit Printables has created fun and FREE printables for The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals and will be adding more in the future. Click here to view all available printables now.

Get the First Book in the Series Free

10/6 & 10/7/2014

The pets are offering their first book for free, via Amazon Kindle, the first two days of the Blog Tour. Click here to download Book 1 in the Stanley & Katrina series now.

Stanley & Katrina’s

Book Blasty Tour Stops(2014)

*Denotes Book Review Stops

October 6

Meg Dendler’s Site*

Mother Daughter Book Reviews*

Michigan Saving and More

October 7

The Book Lovers’ Lounge*

October 8

BeachBoundBooks*

Writer Side UP!

October 9

Amanda’s Books and More*

October 10

Spark and Pook*

October 11

The Squishable Baby*

October 12

Bookaholic Chicks

October 13

Education is Special*

Kid Lit Reviews*

October 14

Adalinc To Life*

October 15

Stitch Says*

We are the DinoFamily*

October 17

Talking Animal Addicts*

October 18

Jemima Pett, Author*

October 19

The Sassy Schnauzer*

October 20

Lobo’s Follies*

October 21

Hey, Miss Adventures!*

October 22

Bookworm for Kids

October 24

My Devotional Thoughts*

* $25 Book Blasty Tour Giveaway *

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs:October 6 to October 31, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter by clicking here.

Terms and Conditions: A randomly drawn winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or any other entity unless otherwise specified. If you have any additional questions, feel free to send us an email at stanleyandkatrina (at) gmail (dot) com.

* This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Stanley & Katrina.*

 

 

Welcome, Cheetara!!

She had us at meow.

We were certainly not in the market for another cat. Tabitha/Slinky had moved out with our older daughter, and we were quite comfortable in our three cat, one dog house. Then on Saturday afternoon I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw something moving in the tall grass. Something pouncing. “Oh my God. It’s a bobcat.” I was sure. We have heard of them coming up onto properties around here in the mountains, but it was usually not a good thing and involved being sick or injured and dangerous. I ran to another window where I could get a better look, and the creature seemed too small for a bobcat, though the coloring was right. A sweet face popped up from the grass. “Kitty?” I called and got a loud “Meow” in answer.

I called to my husband, and we both rushed outside to see what in the world a little kitty was doing so far away from any other houses. The tiny brown spotted tabby ran right to us, wanted to be picked up, and purred like a fiend. Our younger daughter joined the fun and we knew that we had a new cat. Just. Like. That.

Cheetara and "Leia" bonded immediately.

Cheetara and “Leia” bonded immediately.

Sitting there on the front porch, I wanted to name her Cheetigra because she has the most amazing coat of stripes and spots. My husband said that Cheetara was the only possible name. Did any of you watch Thundercats? Me neither. But he did and that was that. It mostly comes out as Chee-Chee now.

Look at the cheetah-like spots!

Look at the cheetah-like spots!

Where this beautiful cat came from we will probably never know. I sent photos to our local shelter, but they had no answers. We were kind of glad. She is ours now. She was not terribly happy about the trip to the vet, but she had worms and we did a flea treatment (even though we didn’t see any). She had already been spayed, so somewhere at some time this cat had a home. She seems to prefer the Blue Buffalo fruit and veggie nuggets to the lizards we saw her hunting in the yard.

She is normally pretty mellow, but game time is serious business.

She is normally pretty mellow, but game time is serious business.

After keeping her separate in the luxury of our game room for a few days, Cheetara has integrated well into the family. After a few dances and some hissing, she and Max now touch noses and he allows her to sniff his toes. Samantha/Miss Fatty Cat looked startled, but making a fuss takes some energy and effort and just wasn’t worth it. Hiro keeps an eye on her, and she growls if Cheetara comes into the master bedroom too often, but otherwise they have also come to terms. Kimba is mightily miffed. Fortunately, Cheetara is willing to lower her head and allow Kimba to remain the alpha cat of the house. They have had a couple of mild tussles, but that is now reduced to annoyed conversation. Cheetara wants to be cuddled and in laps, so Kimba should just be grateful that someone else is willing to take on that chore. I try to remind Kimba that she was once the kitten brought in off the street that other cats needed to welcome. This does not impress her. She remains aloof and glares a lot. But she does that most days, so it is hard to tell how she really feels.

For my part, I now know what the plot of “Kimba’s Christmas” will be. Now I just need time to get it written!

In other fun around here this week:

*My guest video for my friends at Stanley & Katrina is up this week. They do a Word of the Week program, and mine is for Hobnob. Click here to watch the video and sign up for their newsletter and future videos. 

*I finally got started on “Max’s Wild Night”–a companion book for the Cats in the Mirror series. Publication will come late in 2015. It will all depend on the schedule for my adult book, which leads me to…

*My adult book, “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main,” has been signed by my friends at Pen-L Publishing. We are just in the very early stages of editing, so there will be much more to come. Very exciting! It will be interesting to just be on the author side of things with someone else in charge of all those little details I am used to messing with. I promise to be cooperative and behave. Really I do. Really.

Now I just need to sit down and do inventory and book ordering so I’m ready for the big four day event at the War Eagle Fall Craft Fair in a couple of weeks. I hope you all have a wonderful week and enjoy the beautiful fall weather!

Book Blast Giveaway

 

I’m thrilled to be participating in the Book Blast Giveaway for “Lobo Goes to The Galapagos” through the Mother Daughter Book Club Blog!

Keep scrolling down for a link to win a $100 amazon gift card.

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About the Book

Title: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos (The Adventures of Lovable Lobo) | Author: C.L. Murphy | Publication Date: August 27, 2014 | Publisher: Peanut Butter Prose | Pages:32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 7

Summary: Lobo returns in this adventure, sweeter and a bit salty this time. This lil’ wolf pup finds that there’s nothing like a little sea air to bring out the best in him and his unlikely tag-alongs. Take a trip to the Galapagos with Lobo and his right-hand raven, Roxy, as they help an injured, new feathered friend return home. Lobo faces some fears and witnesses the joy that comes from helping others in this “birds of a different feather DO flock together” tale.

The Buzz

“Who knew geography and learning about animals could be this much fun? Lobo Goes to the Galapagos is my new favorite children’s book and is highly recommended. ” ~ Jack Magnus, Readers’ Favorite

“While Ms, Murphy’s uniquely whimsical and vibrant illustrative style is perfectly suited for the wild, tropical feel of this colorful book, and easily captures young readers’ attention, there is also a subtle, quiet beauty to the storyline’s overarching themes of friendship, trust, perseverance, and goodwill. Lobo’s tenacious and giving spirit are delightfully captured in this fifth installment of puppy-fueled fun. In fact, it’s sincerely so easy to fall in love with “Lovable” Lobo that I’d happily follow this well-meaning, big-hearted, wolf pup to the very ends of the earth!” ~ 5 Star Review, Indie Author Girl, Amazon

“What an adorable story! I read this to my nephew and he couldn’t stop giggling at the silliness of Roxy as well as Lobo’s cute friends Bobby, Sunny, Coconut and Sandra. The author was very clever in portraying a tale of friendship, adventure and excitement that is sure to enthuse young minds around the world.” ~ 5 Star Review, Gina D., Amazon

About the Author: C.L. Murphy

C.L.MurphyWhile new to the children’s book writing and illustrating scene, C.L. Murphy (Cathy) has been doodling her way through life since she won a school wide poster contest in the third grade. She’s had the pleasure of working as an artist in residence, creating cartoons and painting murals with the children at local elementary schools. She adores the wonder and curiosity of young children.

She feels that creating picture books is something that she was destined to do, after years of filing away so many ideas, while raising her two sons. She is a member of SCBWI.

She lives amongst the wildlife in an enchanted forest in the beautiful Oregon wilderness with her husband and menagerie. She has always appreciated nature and animals have always played a major role in her life. The inspiration for the Lovable Lobo character came from a wolf that she raised for over 14 years.

Check out her book series and discover that you, too, will find Lobo lovable.

Book Website | Author Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 100 gift card

Prize: One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize (winner’s choice)

Contest Ends: October 23, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by C.L. Murphy and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

Click here to go to the Rafflecopter Giveaway!!

 

Ozark Mountain Cat Fancier’s Event

With the biggest turnout of guests that any of the regular vendors could remember, this weekend’s Ozark Mountain Cat Fancier’s Event in Joplin, Missouri, was a huge success. I’m so glad this was the year I had a booth there!

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The guests and the owners of the cats entered into the show all loved the Cats in the Mirror books and several left with a full set. The title “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge” got lots of attention, and I heard story after story of much loved fat cats along the way.

Kimba and Hiro thought they could make it in the household pet category. Maybe next year.

Kimba and Hiro thought they could make it in the household pet category. Maybe next year.

There was time before the public arrived each day to tour around and see all of the beautiful cats being prepared for their show time. Any time someone suggested that I should have brought one of mine, I had visions of those cartoon cats with their claws stuck in the ceiling. I love my fur babies, but none of them care to be brushed much less have Q-tips in their ears and eyes.

Most of the owners had manicure and prep stations like this. Those were some patient cats.

Most of the owners had manicure and prep stations like this. Those were some patient cats.

This friend had her back to me all day. Love the hammock!

This friend had her back to me all day. Love the hammock!

On my side of the hall, Maine Coons were everywhere. Now I don’t mean ones like Buddy and others I have seen over the years. These were some massive cats! If I understood it correctly, they were not even full grown. Yikes!

This is Rosepetals Osage Touch of Honey from Nevada, Missouri.

This is Rose Petals Osage Touch of Honey from Nevada, Missouri.

Right across from me were the Rose Petals Maine Coon Cats who are “raised lovingly underfoot.” I couldn’t see much of the show, but I hope they did well. Karen Rose went home with the whole series of books, so she is clearly a wise woman who appreciates great literature. There were also some gorgeous Bengal cats who looked like they should be prowling the jungle somewhere far away.

This is Asterisk and Aspen from Ramatut Bengals. Their faces looks just like our new tabby cat, but then it's all wild and spotted from there on.

This is Asterisk and Aspen from Ramatut Bengals. Their faces looks just like our new tabby cat, but then it’s all wild and spotted from there on.

I wasn’t the only author there. Jerome Tonneson has a beautiful book about his cat Buttercup and I saw copies in lots of hands. We didn’t have much time to chat, but they look adorable. Check them out at amazon.com and Jerome’s web site.

Kimba and Hiro checked out the Buttercup books before the show on Sunday.

Kimba and Hiro investigated the Buttercup books before the show on Sunday.

Main Street Pet Care was on hand for information and advice.

Main Street Pet Care was on hand for information and advice.

And the local pet rescue group made their presence felt for those of us who have never had to pay more than an adoption fee for a cat.

And the local pet rescue group made their presence felt for those of us who have never had to pay more than an adoption fee for a cat.

I’m so glad they had a successful show and the cats got to strut their stuff. It was definitely a new experience for me. I’m grateful that there are folks out there willing to pay $850 for the exact cat companion they want, but I’m also grateful for people like me that tend to get them off the streets instead. It was certainly a venue full of people who appreciated cats in all of their furry (and not so furry) delightfulness. I hope it fits into our schedule to attend again next year. It certainly gave me the motivation to get moving on the next books in the series!

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That’s a lot of fancy cats!

Best Selling Book!

Exciting news to share: “Vacation Hiro” is now an amazon.com best selling book! Through a BookBub advertisement of the special 99 cent price on Book 2 in the Cats in the Mirror series, almost 400 copies of “Vacation Hiro” were sold over a three day period. This bumped it up above all the other children’s cat books listed on amazon.com (including the Warrior series and Pete the Cat) and held it there for a few days.

Top Sales Cat Ebook Page

For any other writers who may have considered placing an ad with BookBub, I highly recommend it. When I did a free promotion for “Why Kimba Saved The World” back in April, 14,000 copies were picked up. Their children’s list is one of the smaller ones, so results can be even better if you are marketing an adult book. If your goal is new readers, especially for a series of books, these ads are gold–and a bit hard to get. Make sure you request the ad exactly 30 days before you want to run it. You can’t do it sooner, but if you are even a day later the slots will be filled up. And one rejection doesn’t mean you won’t be accepted the next time. Check out their web site for advice and requirements.

I also want to take a moment to thank two bloggers for their kind reviews of “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge” this week. Stephanie at Cover2CoverBlog said: “As always, Dendler did a wonderful job making the cats very cat-like as well as characters in this grand story. I really like the mix of the sci-fi genre with a cast of cats–it makes for an interesting and playful plot every time.” And Erik at This Kid Reviews Books said: “This is a really well done book. I think that it is pretty cool, in the sense of space-traveling cats with technology that surpasses ours. Plus, the title made me laugh out loud. The series is good, and consistent. I like that the characters’ have just the right amount of “maturing” throughout each book. Kimba and Hiro are nice characters that you care for, and you even understand how Miss Fatty Cat feels. Ms. Dendler really helps you get into the head of the characters! She has written a good, unique book!” He has a devoted and supportive following, so I’m always grateful when he shares my books with them.

To return that type of favor on a universal level, I want to share a fantastic book that I just finished: “The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee.” I won an Advanced Reader copy of this book from Goodreads, and it was absolutely delightful and filled with literal laugh-out-loud moments. I highly recommend this for everyone, even though it is intended for a young YA audience. Teenagers will miss things that adults will find even funnier. Kind of like watching the Shrek movies with a child. Candice is quirky and troubled and sees the world in a frank and hilarious light. Here’s a more series tidbit from the book to give you an idea of the style and voice. Candice is in a fast food restaurant.

“I looked at my hamburger, which bore no resemblance to the picture over the counter. That burger was gorgeous. It was a pin-up burger. It gleamed. The lettuce had sparkles of fresh, pure water. The meat was succulent. What sat on my plate was thin, pale, and resembled something you might stand on when crossing a farmer’s field. I took a fry and thought about life’s unfairness. They promise you the world (or in this case a pin-up burger), and you end up with poop. This was profound, even if I had no idea who ‘they’ were. I wondered if profound thoughts happened often when you hit thirteen.”

Highly Recommend!

This afternoon I’m heading off to the Cat Fancier’s Show in Joplin, Missouri, to share my books. Let’s hope they like rescue mutt cats as well as pedigreed show cats. More on that, some big news, and a new member of the Cats in the Mirror family who adopted us this week in my next blog. Yes, another cat. We are pretty sure she was sent to us specifically. That’s how it works, you know.

 

Book Birthday For “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge!!”

Today is officially the publication day and Book Birthday for “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge!” If you follow my blog, this book is not big news for you, and if you follow me on other social media you are more than aware that this is the big day. Book releases and Book Birthdays are not subtle events!

MissFattyCat'sRevenge-cover

Click on the cover to get your copy from amazon.com now!

Personalized and autographed paperback are also available here at my website, so just look for the shopping cart on the right hand column or go to the Purchase Books page.

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Today is also Samantha’s (aka Miss Fatty Cat) 9th birthday. She is not sure what all the fuss is about as far as the book goes, but she’s hoping for some extra food and love today. I’m sure “Leia” will take care of that. You can celebrate with special prices on “Why Kimba Saved The World” (FREE) and “Vacation Hiro” (99 cents) too.

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Kimba is not too sure about this nonsense about a book that doesn’t have her image on the cover, but I have assured her that it is still all about her and the adventures that she has at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge. Convincing her that I should spend time on “Max’s Wild Night” where she will only be a side note is a different challenge altogether. Maybe we can distract her with Disney plush toys. Buzz Lightyear was waiting for me this morning on the floor outside my office, so he must have gone for a wild ride. To infinity and beyond, indeed!

I’m really grateful to the bloggers who have supported today’s book launch. I didn’t reach out to as many this time, but most that I contacted answered the call at one time or another in the process. Some have already posted reviews, and I’ve shared them. Today Chris at The Story Reading Ape share a nice interview with me and information about all three books, and Johanna Rae shared a separate interview at her blog. There are a couple of others scheduled that have not been published, so I’ll just have to share them when they come out.

Summer is busy with our guest house business, but fall is when the book tours and fun really get going. There is something nearly every weekend, and I’m so excited to get back out and share the Cats in the Mirror series face to face with new readers and talk with fans. On Sept. 20th & 21st, “Leia” and I will be in Joplin for the Cat Fancier’s show, and September 27th we will be at the Springdale Library for their annual author event. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about that cat show! I’m also participating in two blog tours for other authors this month. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Free Books, A New Cat, and Great Reads Recommendations

First, I don’t usually post on the weekend, but “Why Kimba Saved The World” is free on kindle Aug. 30th & 31st. Making sure to get that out there spurred me on. Who doesn’t love free books? I’m betting most anyone bothering to follow this blog already has a copy, but you can certainly tell your friends and get them hooked on the series as well! Click here for the amazon.com link.

Okay, that said we can move on to what’s new. Some big exciting news is that we have a new feline grandfurbaby. “Mindy” felt that Tabitha was lonely, so she and her roommate adopted a kitten from Good Shepherd Humane Society in Eureka Springs. Here’s the latest photo in my brag book.

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Meet Rhaego!

Wait. Let’s get a close up of that face…

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From the reports I’m getting, that look about sums it up. He’s a wild boy and loves to try to steal their food. Tabitha has ceased making terrifying noises any time he comes close, and “Mindy” found them on the sofa together. Hopefully they can become friends once that kitten energy runs out. Yes, I now have a new character for Book 4 (“Slinky Steps Out”) and even more plot ideas. I can’t call him Rhaego. There might be come copyright issues there. Besides, it’s hard for kids to read, let alone pronounce. The shelter had named him Willow, so that’s probably what I’ll stick with. Where will he fall into the alien agent hierarchy? You’ll have to wait until next summer to find out!

I have a couple of books to recommend: “Noisy Creek” by Pamela Foster and “Thursdays at Coconuts” by Beth Carter. Just the covers alone are so inviting! I freely admit that I know both authors, and they are delightful women. That alone won’t get me to read a book, however. I’m halfway through “Noisy Creek” and loving it. The first person voice Pam uses for this story is just fantastic. It even inspired me to try reworking a middle grade story in the first person for the main character, and I’m excited to play with that some. I was waiting for the paperback of “Thursdays at Coconuts,” but I happened to win a free ebook copy through a blog tour giveaway so that’s next up on the agenda. It just means I’ll have to wrestle my husband’s kindle away from him more often. I’ll share the full reviews when I’m done. If only I could tuck away and read for hours.

All the contest entries for the Ozark Writer’s League and the Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference are done and submitted, but September doesn’t leave much time for writing. Between the fall activity at our guest house, book events, and doing some substitute teaching (“Leia’s” braces and “Mindy’s” college tuition are not going to pay for themselves!) I’ll be lucky to spend time doing some tweaking on “At the Corner of Magnetic and Main” before I start talking to High Hill Press about it again in October. I may just need to come up with some lock down time. It makes me grateful for a husband who can cook and isn’t afraid of the vacuum cleaner.

I hope you each have a fantastic holiday weekend. I’m going to try to take some chill out time. Maybe hide away and read a bit. Maybe write a bit. You never know.

 

 

 

 

School, Contests, and Writing

The dust is settling on the summer around here–both for our family and the guest house we run. “Mindy” and “Slinky” are happily ensconced in their new apartment at the University of Arkansas. The horrified kitty made the 90 minute drive in the family truck with me, and she had something to say about it the whole ride there. Book 4 in the Cats in the Mirror series has been set as “Slinky Steps Out” since the beginning because I always knew this day would come. When we arrived at the apartments, cats were watching us from several nearby windows. Could they be agents? The notes are already flowing as the story starts to write itself!

Can you see the eyes expressing their righteous indignation at the whole situation?

Can you see the eyes expressing their righteous indignation at the whole situation?

I had hoped that being away from the other cats would bolster her courage, but she is still spending significant amounts of time under the sofa and behind the washing machine. Maybe she will get more comfortable over time and once the routine of the school year gets going in a week or so.

Mufasa reigns over "Mindy's" domain, as he has since she was a preschooler.

Mufasa reigns over “Mindy’s” domain, as he has since she was a preschooler.

“Leia” starts back to school on Monday, so the meetings and subbing work and life-of-fall will be rolling from then on. I’m already on the sub schedule for Wednesday afternoon. I have some author event or a wedding here nearly every weekend until the end of November, so “Slinky Steps Out” will have to wait for any serious writing until then. You can always see most of what I’m up to at my events & activities page.

My writing in August has focused on getting some projects ready for the annual contests for two groups in the area that I love: The Ozark Writer’s League (OWL) and the Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference (OCW). Both have September 1 deadlines, but I turned in all of my OWL materials at the meeting on Saturday. Doing some specific short stories for contests like this is a great writing exercise, but it also ends up providing me with material to submit to magazines and anthologies. A first place winning piece from the OCW contests last year (“In Sonya’s Steps”) has been expanded and sent to The Missouri Review. Getting published in that way is great for the “street-cred.” One contest category even got me to start working on adapting “The Brave, Frail, and Delicate Princess” into a middle grade book–like I’ve been meaning to do for nearly a year. I’ve developed it up to the 5,000 words for the contest, so that’s a start!

The OWL quarterly meeting yesterday was fantastic. A big bonus for me was that they brought in a children’s book writer, Christine Taylor-Butler, to talk twice, and she knew what she was talking about. It wasn’t necessarily that she said anything I didn’t know after decades of following kidlit and writing some myself, it was just nice to be talking about a topic so close to my heart. The second speaker was Heather Davis, author and blogger at Minivan Momma. If you check her blog out today, she has a new one about talking to us. Her books look super fun, and if they are half as full of humor as she is they are well worth the read. I had the opportunity for long chats with both Duke and Kimberly Pennell from Pen-L Publishing. Besides being interesting individuals and knowledgeable about the industry, they have “At the Corner of Magnetic and Main” in their pile. Fingers crossed. I also got to talk shop with Velda Brotherton and peek at her upcoming, very substantial novel, “Beyond The Moon.” I’ll have to block out a big chunk of time to read that one!

Speaking of reading, I just finished a good YA book called Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, by Elise Stokes. If you are looking for a clean read with just enough violence and drama to keep a tweenager happy, this is a great choice, and it is the first book in a series that looks promising. For me it was a free kindle download, and I love to grab those up to keep an eye on what’s on the market. The kindle version had some minor hard-hyphen errors (my first book versions did as well), but it’s not that big a deal. Highly Recommend.

Since any ebook involves getting my husband’s kindle away from him (which usually means he is asleep), I always have a “real” book going as well. I just finished “Wild Storm” by Richard Castle. Yes, I’m a fan of the show. I saw it on display at the Berryville Library and couldn’t resist, but it was actually a silly and fun read. There were some glaring errors to fans of the show–like adding Ryan and Javier, who he would not have met when he wrote that book–but the plot was solid and ridiculous enough to have been written by the Castle fans love. I have “Heat Wave” waiting for me on hold at the library right now. On a more realistic note, I’m also reading “The Wildwater Walking Club” by Claire Cook. Thoroughly delightful so far. You can always check out what books I have on my radar and am currently reading (and my reviews) at my Goodreads.com page.

September looms on the horizon, but I’m well prepared for my events that month. Here’s the ad I’m running in the brochure at the Cat Fancier’s Show/Event in Joplin, Missouri on the 20th-21st.

Cat Fanciers Ad

If you are in the area, come check out the show. I’ve been to dog agility events and shows before, but never one for cats. How do they possibly get them all to behave??!! “Daddy” has to stay here to keep things on task at the guest house, but “Leia” will join me. I think she’s wondering about the cat control as much as I am. I’ve been told I have to go where the cat fans are, so we shall see if they are book fans as well.

I hope each of you have a wonderful end to your summer. What do you miss the most when the leaves start changing? With so many years as a teacher, the school schedule has pretty much run every year of my life–with many more ahead.

And, unofficially, you can get “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge” any time you want. Sshhh. The official launch will be on her birthday, September 12, but ebook, paperback, and signed copies are already flowing freely (see the shopping cart on the right to get signed copies directly from me). Great reviews so far! Here’s one that just posted from the Styling Librarian. 5 stars. No writer can ask for more.

 

 

 

July Updates

July promises to be an interesting month around here. “Mindy” moves into her own apartment at the end of the month in preparation for starting her junior year at the University of Arkansas, so there is much purchasing of kitchen items at the dollar store and sorting and packing going on. Her beloved cat, Tabitha, is going with her. I always knew this day would come, so “Slinky Steps Out” will begin to write itself as we see how the most skittery cat on the planet handles life as the only cat in the building.

“Leia” is practicing to take her driving test in mid-August, and around here that means driving on hairpin turns with tourists around every bend. As often as I stomp, there is still no brake on the passenger side of the car. “This too shall pass” keeps me going. And don’t even get me started on how much laundry goes with running a guest house. My poor washer is looking forward to fall as much as me. But it gives me freedom to indulge in my self-publishing habit, so I shouldn’t complain.

I’m also enjoying docent duty at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Finally got my official shirt!

Finally got my official shirt!

 

"Mindy" enjoying an educational game. She loved the fur samples.

“Mindy,” enjoying an educational game. She loved the fur samples, though the chewed up boomer ball is always a hit.

Two bobcats were released into a brand new grass habitat the morning I was there, and the staff is busy “crashing the compound” and tearing down the old concrete cages today as I write. I can’t wait to see the transformations they have in store.

For the Cats in the Mirror books, I set up a booth at the July 4th celebration on Holiday Island and had fun meeting some new readers. Events like that are not really a hot spot for big book sales. Most people are just there to enjoy the free events. But it was a beautiful day and we are still glad we went. We weren’t able to stay through for the fireworks this time, but that’s high on our agenda for next summer.

“Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge” is available now at amazon.com and directly from me (from the store link on the right of this page). I don’t have the matching bookmarks just yet, but they should arrive any day. Book 3 is sort of in a holding pattern while I wait for bloggers to get to the book and post their reviews. Don’t forget to post your reviews at amazon.com too! It really does make a difference. That’s why authors are always nagging you for them. I refuse to pay for reviews (and you’d be shocked to know how many reviews you read are paid for), so everything I get comes from fans or awesome bloggers who want to support indie authors. “Vacation Hiro” would love some review love! If you read it and enjoyed it, you can post one by clicking here.

My big “author thrill” recently was to have a complete stranger ask at the library if they had a copy of “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main.” She had read about it in the paper a while back and wanted a copy. Awesome! The manuscript is getting some revision/expansion action over the summer, and I’m almost done, but the traditional route to publishing just takes a really, really, really long time. It’s especially hard on those of us who self-publish and are used to just rolling when we are ready. Based on the time frames for the agent and editor who are interested in “Magnetic and Main,” it could be winter before I decide to continue pursuing that route or just call on my amazing team and publish it myself. You will be the first to know!

I also want to take a minute to give a shout out to an adorable book I read last week.

Click on cover to see it at amazon.com.

Click on cover to see it at amazon.com.

The author contacted me about doing a book swap for reviews (indies do this quite a lot), and I was excited to find that this book is full of beautiful illustrations and delightful stories. I highly recommend this for elementary school kids, though it may need to be a read aloud for the younger ones. Some of the phrasing and words are clearly British, but I think that’s half of the fun. David and his son are reading “Why Kimba Saved The World” right now, and I sure hope they are enjoying it as much as I did their stories. Here’s a link to my full review at amazon.com. 

There may not be any more updates here until more events and promos and activities get rolling in August. Once I get the girls off to their respective schools and the guest house calms down a bit, then there’s more on the writing front to get excited about.

Have a wonderful July!