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Monday, June 19, 2017

Cozy Cats and Cozy Mysteries


3 new Klepto Cat Mysteries and our first Audio Book.
Patricia is offering Catnapped - Kindle version - Free this week - from the 19th through the 23rd.




Guest Post
I am an author. After 44 years of writing for publication—having published thousands of articles, and 65 books—I can stand tall and proud and admit that I am an author! What I still feel a little hesitant to say in a public place is that I’m a novelist. I write fiction—something I never thought I would do. Why? I was so in love with the process of article-writing. I was fascinated by the fact that there are so many different ways to present a topic, an issue, or a view. I loved the challenge of coming up with a wide assortment of article ideas for such a varied array of publications and I delighted in creating dozens of new articles—even books—for new audiences. That was my life for 39 years. That’s how I made my living.
            So what caused me to flip abruptly to the other side and decide to write fiction? Well, it all started during my annual life-evaluation. Each year, around my birthday month (June), I stop and assess my life—in particular my business life. One question I ask is, “Am I still having fun?”
            For years, the answer was a resounding YES! And I’d continue on the path I was on—with a few tweaks here and there. I might set higher goals, create new challenges for myself, and so forth. Well, in June of 2012, I realized that I wasn’t as quick to shout out that YES. Yes, I wanted to continue writing—absolutely! But I was starting to burn out. The nonfiction topics just weren’t as exciting as they’d been in the past. So during my birthday week that year, I decided, “I’m going to try writing fiction.”
            Of course, my stories would involve cats. My own reading comfort zone was with light mysteries. I didn’t learn until later that this type of fiction fit into a new sub-genre called Cozy Mysteries. Sure, I knew about Lillian Braun Jackson’s The Cat Who series and I’d read all of James Herriot’s books. But I was surprised to discover that there was a swiftly growing movement of cozy mystery books—those with cats, quilting, libraries, cooking, baking, etc.  as a theme.
            Okay, so it would be a cozy mystery—light and fun reading—and it would include cats. But in what way? One morning when my cat, Lily, dropped a stuffed toy at my feet and I looked down at the tiny teddy bear, baby owl, little furry lamb, hedgehog and other toys she’d brought me that day, it occurred to me. What is more charming and captivating than a kleptomaniac cat—one who steals things—a cat burglar of sorts. I would feature Lily and create stories around her cute little habit. Shortly, I realized that Lily didn’t have the personality my cat character needed in order to carry out some of the things I had in mind. She’s too soft. But I knew a cat who could pull it off—Smokey, my mother’s part ragdoll cat (who looks nothing like a ragdoll, by the way). He has the confidence my fictitious cat needed. And he actually does bring gifts to my mother, much to her chagrin. She’s always trying to catch a lizard or save a bird from his clutches.
            Okay, I had my theme and my star. Now I had to think about the storyline. Then I remembered a true story my daughter had told me—something that was going on in her neighborhood. Someone was stealing pet cats. I decided that could develop into a good story and I was off and running writing my first novel, Catnapped, book one of the Klepto Cat Mystery series.
As I’ve added to my series, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve since rewritten Catnapped. It’s now available as a print book, formatted for your Kindle, and NEW—it is also an audio book.
Learn more about all 23 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries (and counting) here: http://www.KleptoCatMysteries.com and at Amazon.com.
            It’s June—time to reevaluate and reassess how I’m spending my time, what my priorities are, what I’d rather be doing. Well, my mother is thoroughly enjoying reading the stories her cat has helped to inspire. Lily expresses her support for the books by continuing to gift me with her favorite toys. Rags and his human characters have a large following. But am I still having fun?
Absolutely. I love what I’m doing. I wake up with a smile each day eager to delve into the world I’ve created in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. And my voice is getting stronger when I say, “I write darn good fiction!”
             

Interview
Welcome to my blog Patricia.  Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself, your books, and your business. 
Q. Tell us about your latest work—title, genre, etc.  and why you wrote it?
A.   I just published the twenty-third in my Klepto Cat Mystery series; Cattywampus Travels. Some refer to my fiction as “revved up cozy mysteries.” After 40 years of writing nonfiction, and years of editing fiction for clients, I decided to finally follow one of my dreams—to write fiction. It was a birthday gift to myself—to break away from the rigid world of fact and dabble in a more creative vein. I started writing my first Klepto Cat Mystery five years ago this month and I’ve produced an average of 6 books per year since.


Q.  What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A.  Writing has been my life—my way of earning my living—for over 40 years. When I finish an 8 or 12-hour day in my office, if I choose to read, I want it to be something relaxing. I typically select a light or cozy mystery. If it involves animals, all the better. And when I decided to write a novel, this was the style I wanted to pursue. I’m particularly fond of cats and wanted them to be a big part of my novels; hence I created Rags the kleptomaniac cat who always has a paw in solving the mystery.

Q.  What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A.   I’ve been surprised at my process as it shifts a little with each story. Generally, I have a theme in mind and I just start writing. Of course, I later spend hours and hours fleshing out the story and logging times, dates, activities, etc. to make sure the flow is logical. With the first in the series, “Catnapped,” I spent a lot of time working kinks out involving the characters. I’ve edited numbers of books where the author hasn’t defined his characters enough for the reader—perhaps two characters use the same type of language and phrases, for example. So I will even log common phrases used by each of my characters to make sure I don’t do too much crossing over of personalities.

Q.   What kind of research was involved in writing your book?
A.   Some of my stories so far are loosely based on actual occurrences. One of my daughters, for example, saw someone snatch her cat and run off with it. She stopped him and got her cat back. Later, another one of her cats went missing. So the story I tell in Catnapped is based on something that was going on in her small town. However, I am a real stickler for research. I tell my family, if my computer is ever confiscated for any reason, and I can’t speak for myself, be sure to tell the authorities I’m a writer. Some of the strange and frightening things I research could cause serious suspicion—what can you use in place of chloroform, for example, does a dead body bleed?…things like that.

Q.   How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A.   I’m not sure that you’ll find me in my characters (my family may beg to differ). But I sure do enjoy plugging some of my experiences, my values, my perspective, my observances into my stories in various ways. As you have noticed, cats are a big part of my mysteries. While the cats don’t talk—I represent them as cats—some of them have some interesting and entertaining habits and personalities. I’ve known and cared for numbers of cats over the years and I certainly write many of them into my stories. But I also use these stories to educate people about cats—hopefully subtly, but successfully.

Q.   How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A.   I’ve tossed balance out the window. I admit it, I’m a workaholic. Or you might say a write-a-holic. I don’t have trouble finding time to write. I have a problem stopping the writing. I have 65 published books—23 of them in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. I work with other authors on their projects. As you can see, my life is deeply embedded in writing. My outlets are photography—in particular birds and cats, helping out my 95-year-old mother and enjoying outings with my daughters and their families. Another great pleasure, of course, are my own cats.

Q.   Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A.   I’m truly amazed at how quickly these stories come together and how real some of the characters (including the cat characters) are to me. One thing I tell authors is to keep your reader in mind as you write—whether it is fiction or nonfiction. When you do that, you are more apt to write with appropriate continuity—your reader can follow along—the story flows and the characters are believable.

Q.  What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A.  I am putting the finishing touches on the twenty-fourth Klepto Cat Mystery—Cats in the Belfry. And I have the bare bones of book number twenty-five documented. I’ve just come out with my first audio book. Catnapped is now in audio, print and formatted for Kindle.

Q.  Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A.  Marketing is the biggest part of publishing. And the marketing strategies that work for books in one genre or theme might not be effective for another. I find promoting novels way more fun than promoting books for authors. And there are more opportunities. You’re more apt to run into novel-readers and cat lovers in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, while shopping at the mall, in restaurants, while socializing, etc. so I always have a supply of bookmarks promoting the novels to hand out wherever I go. I do a lot of Internet marketing and I keep adding to my emailing list so I can inform my fans and reviewers when a new book comes out.

Q.  What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A.  1: Study the publishing industry before getting involved—before writing the book.
2: Build promotion into your book—hooks you can use to promote the book. (In my case, I’ve written a cozy mystery that involves cats—my audience consists of both mystery readers and people who enjoy cats. I also have a delightful character with Downs, and I’ve included horses in some of the books…)
3: Start planning your marketing strategy before you finish that book.
4: Hire a good book editor—not a retired professor or a friend who is good with words.
5: Do not go with the first pay-to-publish company that compliments your book. Do your homework. Never be so eager to publish that you sabotage your success.

Q.  Do you have a favorite line or scene from the book?
A.   I rather enjoyed the scene in Sleight of Paw where Detective Craig Sledge takes liberties with a possible suspect in the murder while searching his person for evidence that he had, indeed, come in contact with Rags, the Klepto cat on at least one occasion.

Q.  Tell us about the inspiration for ...  What part of the book came to you first?
A.   The premise of Catnapped and Sleight of Paw are based loosely on true stories. I just took the idea and ran with it. As with all of my Klepto Cat stories, there’s a romance running alongside the mystery and sometimes a secondary story. In the case of Sleight of Paw, Michael, Savannah’s husband and local veterinarian, is attacked by an angry client. When the client turns up dead, Michael is a suspect. At the same time, Michael and Savannah discover that their house may have been cursed by gypsies many years earlier. Horse lovers will enjoy meeting Peaches, Savannah’s new ride.

Q.  Please open your book at a random page and tell us the first paragraph… 
A.   To Gonzalez’s surprise, Craig reached over and began rubbing the fabric of Ramirez’s lapel between his thumb and fingers.
 “What do you want?” Gus said, slapping at the detective’s hand and taking a step back.
            “Just settle down, Gus,” Sledge said. “I want to check you out.” He looked the man up and down with a wide smile on his face and said, “Yep, you look mighty fine tonight. Just the way I hoped to find you.” He thought for a moment and then said, “Let’s go in the restroom, shall we?”
            “What? Are you some sort of pervert? No, I’m not going in any john with you guys.” He looked from one to the other and began backing away.
Craig reached out, grabbed the man, and bent one arm behind him. Pushing him along in front of him, he asked, “Where’s the bathroom in this place?”
           
 “In the back,” Gonzalez said, himself somewhat perplexed by his partner’s actions.
            “Is there a back entrance?”
           
 “Yeah.”
            “Good, let’s go around back.”
           
 “Sledge, what are you doing?” Gonzalez asked in a hushed tone.
            “You’ll see, Gonzalez. Just stay with me here. In just a minute, you’ll see this guy’s true colors.”
Again, thanks Patricia for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.
Good luck with your current and future publications.