Cozy Cats and Authors

Recently Fellow Wicked Edith wrote a great post in defense of genre books, which some cluless people consider less important than so-called literary fiction, You know, those books that the critics adore and review all over the place but that only 137 people in the world read. I might be exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean. I’d like to think cozy writers like us have as many readers as they do, but most of them do not review for The New York Times. Many of you readers responded in defense of genre, and we thank you!

But if you walk through one of the increasingly rare chain bookstores, you will quickly see that some genre books share certain consistent characteristics. Like romances where on the cover everybody’s clothes seem to be falling off. Or, during that time when chick lit was popular, every cover for it was pink, with a pair of very long legs (no body) and stilettos.

And cozies have small furry animals on the cover. Why? There is a practical reason: if you see a book with a puppy or kitten or both from across the room, you can be pretty sure that the book is a cozy. That makes it easy for readers to find them (and buy them, we hope). So who decides on the cover design? The publisher, of course. We may write them, but often that’s the last control we have over them. And publishers generally know what sells books—it’s their business.

But recently I’ve been asking myself, which comes first? The cute animals or the story? And why do I care? Because I’m a cat magnet. I’m not exaggerating—these cats started appearing long before I started writing, most often when I travel (and no, I do not travel with a handful of cat treats in my pockets). I even have the pictures to prove it.

o 1998, Raglan, Wales, with my husband and daughter: we were touring Welsh castles (there seem to be a lot of them, mostly ruined) and I sat down on a bench to admire what was left of the castle somewhere out in the country. A cat showed up and sat next to me.

Cat Raglan

o 1999, Ireland, with my daughter: we stayed at a pleasant B&B south of the Shannon airport. They had cats. Lots of cats. I ended up clutching a tiger kitten (no, I did not bring it home with me).

Cat Abbyfeale

o 2011, Ireland, travelling with a friend I had met online through genealogy: we stayed at a small hotel in Dublin, across from Christchurch Cathedral. We toured the church, and then, since it was a nice day, I sat down on a bench outside the church and people-watched. So of course the official church cat showed up, crawled under my coat, and went to sleep.

Cat Dublin

o More recently we stayed at a nice rental in Union Hall, in Cork—a place that I picked, sight-unseen. We pulled into the parking area and I said, “look, there’s a cat.” And looked again, and there was another cat, and another—I think the final count was six. One took a particular liking to me and watched through the kitchen window.

Cat Union Hall

Those are just the cats I can remember (and that someone managed to take a picture of). I don’t recall that any dogs got quite so chummy. Cats seem to like me. I know, there are lots of cats and many are outdoor or feral cats and not particularly friendly. In fact, a lot of them run away and hide, or at least maintain a safe distance. But me they sit on.

But there may be a logical reason why cats appear on all those cozy covers. I wrote recently that we nice respectable ladies on this blog write about killing people, which seems odd when you think about it. But putting an appealing friendly pet on the cover signals that we aren’t bad people, that we are trustworthy, and that small animals like us–they send a message in shorthand. Not only are the fuzzy creatures a code for “cozy” but they signal that all will turn out well in the book.

What about you? Do you automatically reach for the book with the cat or dog on the cover?

Crossing the Line

By Julie, hopeful that spring may be here to stay in Somerville

Fred & GingerA few weeks ago I got an email from a friend who is part of a cat rescue network. She was reaching out to folks about some cats who had been rescued from an abandoned house in Hartford. The cats were FIV positive, and they were having trouble finding them homes.

“Do you know anyone who is looking for a cat? Are you ready?”

I’ve had three cats in my adult life, loved them well, and mourned them when they’d gone to the Rainbow Bridge. It had a bit over a year since I’d  been a cat’s person when I got Kim’s email, and I wrote to another friend, asking about the FIV. She assured me that they would be fine for a long time, may have some issues when they were older. She also told me that placing FIV positive cats was almost impossible. I wrote Kim back and said yes, I’d take two of them. I connected with the rescue person who was boarding them, and on a rainy afternoon I picked them up.

I named them Fred and Ginger. They are two or three years old, tops. Fred, a handsome gray tuxedo cat, is a sweetheart. He was already fixed when he was rescued, so he must have been dumped. He loves to be petted, and uses his paw to draw my hand back when I stop. Just this week he started jumping up on my bed in the morning. I suspect that before the end of the summer he will be sleeping on beds and couches. Maybe even laps, which will make writing tough, but I’ll manage. He is giving me some moves for my series cat, Bezel.

Ginger is lovely, a gray longish hair cat. She is also  a hot mess.  I don’t think she’s ever had a home before, and she has some trust issues, mildly put. For the first two weeks I couldn’t touch her. Then she started to talk to me, and about two weeks ago she started winding herself around my legs when I am in the kitchen. Still, I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into with Ginger. Would we ever connect?

ginger the destroyer2

Ginger the Destroyer

I got them each a cat bed, though Ginger still prefers a blanket on the floor. I bought two Feliway diffusers, hoping that cat pheromones would help relax them. (I have a three month supply.) I invested in cat toys and a nice cat litter box table thing that they like. I got them a cat scratcher that Ginger is especially fond of.  I have been using patience, my best cat voice, and lots of petting to make them feel at home.

But this weekend, Ginger pushed me over the line. I became a crazy cat lady.

Sundays are my writing/housekeeping/no makeup days. Book 3 is due in July, so writing was the main event on Sunday, with laundry, taking out the trash, litterbox cleaning, and sheet changing being done in between writing scenes. I live in a 4th floor walk-up, so taking the trash and recycling out is a balancing act of boxes and bags I only like to do once. Now, taking the trash downstairs was the only planned excursion out. My hair was piled on top of my head, Marge Simpson style. I had my PJ top on, with a sweatshirt cover-up. I had yoga pants on, no socks, clogs.

This past Sunday was wicked windy, and my door didn’t latch carefully. I came back upstairs to find my front door blown open. I walked in, and Fred gave me a “hey” meow. I asked him where Ginger was, and he didn’t respond. I looked around, but she wasn’t in the apartment. I went into full panic mode. I ran out of the apartment, down the stairs, calling her name. When I got to the second floor I saw one of my neighbors, and told her my plight. I heard Ginger’s meow from the floor below. I ran down the stairs. She saw me, did a fake run, and darted up the stairs behind me. I closed the fire door, and lumbered behind her. She ran up to the third floor, and ran down the hall. I closed that fire door, and followed her. She ran all the way to the end, and down the stairs back to the second floor. On and on it went until we were closed in on the second floor. She’d dart, I’d call her name, she’d stop, do a double fake, and run the other way.

atrestGinger barely let me pet her, never mind pick her up. Finally, after about twenty minutes of the chase, we were both panting, but she wasn’t giving up. So I took off my sweatshirt, and threw it on top of her. It took me two tries (running around in my PJ top mind you) but I was finally able to scoop her up. She fought me, but I got her by the scruff and got her back into the house.

I live a fairly controlled life, intentionally so. Fred and Ginger have disrupted that. They are different than the other cats I’ve adopted–they needed a good home, and don’t quite trust it yet. They  also don’t trust me yet, though I think Sunday proved something to Ginger. She’s on a kiss a day regimen now–I hold her for ten seconds, kiss her head, and then keep holding her until she’s done.

As a writer, I control my characters, and their lives. Fred and Ginger are teaching me to shake up expectations, and be comfortable with whatever happens. It will be interesting to see what their impact is on Book #3. If nothing else, the Bezel scenes will be a little more fleshed out.

Another Lost Hero

By Liz, thrilled beyond measure that we didn’t bear the brunt of the killer snowstorm over the weekend!

I had a totally different blog post started for today—all about killing off real people as thinly disguised characters in novels—but I changed my mind. (Don’t worry, more on that another time. I have lots to say on the topic.)

I changed my mind because something happened recently that deserves attention.

It’s been a season of loss for so many people, myself included. From personal losses to losses that touch millions of people (David Bowie, Glenn Frey, who can relate?). Today, I wanted to pay tribute to another man who was recently lost—a man named Fred.

Fred lived in Boston. I didn’t actually know Fred – we never even met – but I know some of his friends and heard about his incredible story last year after he became ill. That story compelled me to mention Fred in my latest book, in my rescue shout-out section. While Fred had many human friends, what made him special was his friendship with another species – cats.

Fred

Photo credit: Danapel deVeer

For about thirty years, he took care of hundreds – maybe thousands – of stray, abandoned and feral cats on the Boston streets. This meant giving every extra cent of his social security, which he lived off of, to the cats for food, shelter and whatever else they needed to be comfortable. It meant getting up in the middle of the night to do his feeding rounds. It meant living with extreme heartache daily, watching the plight of these cats and knowing that, no matter how much he did, they were destined to a hard life living outside in extreme heat and cold, facing traffic and wildlife and people who wished them harm.

Since becoming ill, Fred’s friends and friends of the other feral feeders have rallied to cover his feeding stations. When Fred passed away earlier this month, humans and cats alike mourned his loss. And now many of those humans are working at filling some big shoes.

I wish I could tell you more about Fred, some of the little nuances that people always share when someone special leaves their life. But really, the most important thing about Fred that we all can remember is his compassionate heart. Fred loved cats, and spent his life taking care of them. I think that’s all you need to know.

Anyone interested in Boston’s Forgotten Felines, the organization Fred worked with, should check out their Facebook page.

And if you’re so inclined, pay it forward in memory of a man who lived his life putting others before himself.
Readers, do you have a hero who inspires you?

Welcome Janiss Garza, Editor of Rescued

Liz here, and today I’m welcoming Janiss Garza, editor of the anthology Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats Through Their Eyes, to the blog!

It’s no secret that I’m the crazy cat person here on the Wickeds, and I’ve done my fair share of writing about cats before my Pawsitively Organic series. I joined the Cat Writers’ Association years ago, and it was through that group that I saw Janiss’ call for stories for an anthology based on the lives of rescue cats. Kind of a no-brainer for me, I figured! So I wrote Tuffy’s story and submitted it. Many of you know Tuffy as the genesis for the cat Nutty in my series. He had an interesting journey before he became a book star, which he describes in detail in his story From Starving to Stardom, the first in the anthology. The rest of the stories in the book are equally touching, inspirational, and will make you love cats even more! Please check it out – it’s already won in the Compilations/ Anthologies categories in the San Francisco Book Festival and the Holiday Book Festival.

Janiss, take it away!

RescuedCoverWebI love writing. I also love editing. At the magazine editorial gigs I had in the 1990s and 2000s, I enjoyed working with the writers (in fact, I always thought of them as “my” writers), and to this day I edit stories in my head as I read them far more often than I probably should admit. I also love the production process and working in InDesign. Being a publisher is just something that comes naturally to me.

I also happen to love cats. I didn’t plan to publish cat books, it just sort of happened. Cats are like that – you put one on the internet and the next thing you know, people are asking you cat questions, and websites and magazines are asking you to write cat stories and you wind up doing cat books. Give a cat an inch and the whole feline species winds up taking over your whole life. At least, that is how it worked for me.

I started my career as a heavy metal music journalist and music mag editor. Along the way I also wrote about vintage film (silent and pre-code) and fitness. But in 2003, when I started on the feline path with my cat, Sparkle and her website, sparklecat.com, I suddenly became the “cat writer person.” So I figured, why not use this strange turn of events for good? Like I said, I love cats, so I certainly wasn’t going to use it for evil – unless you consider Cat World Domination something bad. JanissForCWA14 copy

By the time I put out the call for submissions for Rescued, the anthology I published in January 2015, I had been working on the idea for a couple of years. As part of the very large cat blogging community, I saw there were probably at least 300 active or occasionally active cat blogs in existence, and a few hundred more that have come and gone or are currently dormant. And although I unexpectedly got sucked into this crazy community, I learned a few things right away about its fun, colorful members. They are a close knit, but inclusive bunch – they look out for their pals, and happily welcome new cats, and the humans behind them, into their blogging family. They are also passionately cause oriented, and will step up to help a cat, an animal rescue, or even a fellow cat blogger in need. I’m always on the lookout for a good book project that will both enhance people’s lives… and make money for both me and the writers. Rescued seemed like a perfect fit, and it was. Twelve cat stories, with a portion of the proceeds to go to rescue – I was sure from the start it would be a winner.

Along with my fellow cat bloggers, I sent out feelers in the social media communities. You might have noticed cats have taken them over too. I looked specifically for cats (and writers) with a strong online presence since I knew they would already have an audience of fans wanting to buy the book. I also sent word out to the Cat Writers Association, a professional group of cat writers I happen to belong to. As a result, I got a really amazing variety of submissions, and most of them were good enough for serious consideration to go into the anthology.

One thing people don’t realize about anthologies unless they’ve put one together themselves: it’s not just picking out a bunch of stories and tossing them in the book. They all have to work together, and they need to be arranged in an arc. The opening couple of stories are crucial, if you want to keep the reader reading. The ending story needs to tie up in some way the stories preceding it. If you want to make enough money to eventually pay your writers, you also want people who are not only storytellers but who are willing to be promoters too – which is why I had each one pick out an animal rescue as part of her promotion. Cat lovers will fight for a cause, even when they are too shy to fight for themselves.

In the end, I picked the dozen stories that worked best together, although there were a couple of times where it was almost like throwing darts. At one point when choosing between two stories, I realized that that the majority of cats in the book were male… so I picked the story featuring a female cat. The writers themselves came from all parts of the U.S. (and one from Canada), and included both novices to experienced authors. Although I had a few submissions from men, the writers I chose all happened to be women. After working with them through the editing process, and now that I’m halfway through the book’s promotion, I have to say, I’m so impressed with the writers I picked. What a talented bunch – and what amazing human beings!

I’m really proud of the writers I wound up with for Rescued – and I hope to be equally proud of the ones I choose for the sequel. Because I had such a rewarding time with the first book, and there are so many more great cat stories out there, that I have to do another one.

Someday, I plan to break out of cat mode, but right now I’m having too much fun.

Tuffy CatThanks, Janiss! We love the work you do. Tuffy is thrilled that you helped him find his voice. August is his month, where a portion of the book’s proceeds go to his rescue of choice. He picked Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats, an organization here in Connecticut that supports Trap-Neuter-Return for ferals and a foster program for any friendly cats or kittens they happen to find in the course of their work. 

Readers, do you have an inspirational pet story to share? Leave a comment below!

Cats We’ve Loved or Love — Real and Fictional

FarmedandDanWe love the cover of Edith’s latest Local Food Mystery, Farmed and Dangerous. And how could we not talk about cats with that cute cat on the cover?

So Wickeds have you ever owned a cat? More than one? Had a favorite?

Edith: That cute cat is the artist’s rendition of our real-life cat, Preston. (Robin Moline is a fabulous cover artist, by the way.) Preston is our senior cat, a Norwegian Forest Cat, and the sweetest kitty ever. He’s gorgeous, a little dim, looks at you and asks to be petted while he eats (just like in the Prestononchairbooks), and has a teeny-tiny meow. He has two layers of fur, so he loves to sit outside in the rain, on the snow, and also in the heat – lately under the peony bush. We have two other feline darlings at home, and I’ve had a half dozen others in the past, but I’m delighted to be able to include Mr. P in my series.

Liz: Preston is a doll! As for me – you have to ask?? I’ll spare you from posting all of them, because that would be a really long blog post, but here’s a picture of Tuffy, my Maine coon cat who was the impetus for Nutty in the Pawsitively OrganTuffyic Mysteries. Tuffy wandered into the backyard one day and has never left. He’s a typical Maine coon – a little snooty, very handsome and extremely smart. Oh, and did I mention demanding? But who can resist that face?

Julie: My sweet Ashley, who looked a lot like Tuffy, passed this past January. I will say, I think she was sweet, but she was very mindful and hated other cats, liked my nieces, and loved me. She tolerated the rest of the world.. I adopted her when she was 10, so only had 4 1/2 years together, but I do miss her. I am currently cat sitting for my sister, while some work is being done on her house. Joey and Gilbert are sweethearts, but bundles of trouble. I keep looking up,and finding them navigating through picture frames, or amongst tchotchkes on a shelf. I am definitely a cat person.

Jessie: We had a cat when I was a child that appeared in our barn and immediately became an important part of the family. We had just moved and I had yet to make friends. Boo filled a huge void, for which I was very grateful.

Sherry: I’m allergic to cats but when we lived in Florida an outdoor cat named Lucy lived across the street. Before she lived across the street she’d lived up the street and left that home when they got a new kitten. Our neighbors across the street took in a stray and Lucy moved to our house. She was a beautiful white and gray cat who loved being outdoors. The first fictional cat I loved was from the Thomasina from the Disney movie The Three Lives of Thomasina.

Barb: The cat of my adolescent and teenage years was Roo. She lived in the house next door with a widowed neighbor and her teenage daughter. Roo was already sharing space with a German shepherd when the older daughter in the family moved home to stay while her husband was in Viet Nam, bringing two toddlers and another German shepherd. Roo decided she’d had enough and moved to our house. It was her decision, not ours, but she lived with us for a decade. My first and only cat was Flash. I got her while I was in college after a particularly bad series of breakups and make ups with a boyfriend who was allergic. Flash was my insurance that the last breakup would stick. I told my parents getting her was “my first adult decision.” They laughed so hard they cried. But Flash stayed on through the arrival of my husband and my kids. (And was always happy to remind them that she was there first.)

Readers: Have you ever loved a cat — real or fictional?

Guest Blogger- T. C. LoTempio

 

Jessie: Enjoying the pleasure of the holidays in the wilds of New Hampshire

image003Today the Wickeds are delighted to welcome T.C. LoTempio to the blog. Toni has a brand new series, The Nick and Nora Mysteries. The first one, Meow if it’s Murder, released last week. Here she is with a few thoughts on the series, writing and cats.

Jessie: I noticed your sleuth’s name is Nora Charles. Were you inspired by the fictional character of the same name in The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett? Are you a fan of the Nick and Nora films?

T.C.: Absolutely! I loved the Thin Man movies and I have every one of them on DVD! While my Nick Charles is a furry black and white tuxedo, I like to think that he’s every bit as dashing – in his own way – as the fictional human one.

Story about that: I’d been writing paranormals and getting nowhere. My former supervisor told me I should write a story about my cat. I went home, turned on the tv, and The Thin Man was on Turner Classic. Then I started thinking…and the Nick and Nora mysteries were born!

Jessie: You write mysteries featuring a cat that helps to solve crimes. Is it safe to assume you are a cat lover?

T.C.: OMG very safe. I’ve had seven cats over the years, all of them rescues or adopted from shelters. ROCCO, the model for Nick, was adopted from the Clifton Animal Shelter six years ago. I got him as a companion for my gold tabby Maxx, who was a rescue from South Jersey. From the minute ROCCO stepped out of the box and lifted his paw, he was the boss! (or at least he thinks he is)

Jessie: You set Meow if it’s Murder in California. Is that a region close to your heart?

T.C.: Yes, even though I was born in New York and grew up in Jersey, I’ve always loved California – the weather especially. A good friend of mine lives in Pebble Beach/Monterey/Carmel area and I’ve visited there many times – I love it! Especially San Francisco! So it just seemed sort of natural to me to set the series in Northern California.

image004Jessie: The book description for Meow if it’s Murder mentions spooky coincidences and a cat that spells out words for your sleuth using Scrabble tiles. Does this series touch on the paranormal?

T.C.: This version doesn’t – but the original version did. In the first draft, Nick the cat was actually the reincarnation of Nick Atkins, a PI who was killed investigating the murder of a presumed drowned socialite. Nora found she could actually talk to the cat – but when it was submitted to the publisher, they loved everything about the book EXCEPT the talking cat, so I had to find another way for the cat to communicate with Nora – hence the Scrabble tiles. As to whether or not this version of Nick the cat has paranormal capabilities, well, cats ARE supposed to be psychic to some extent….

Jessie: I love to hear about other writers’ working habits. Would you share your writing process with us?

T.C.: Well, first I write an outline that I end up pretty much changing, and then I try to write at least 1-2 hours at least three days during the week and four hours each day on the weekend. I have a full time job so that’s how I have to work it for now. I have to have ROCCO next to my feet, chewing on the cable wires, and plenty of music on the CD player – Phantom of the Opera is a favorite!

 Jessie: Mysteries are my first love but other genres also have appeal. Do you write any other sorts of work?

T.C.: I actually started out writing horror stories and some of them were published by Whiskey Creek Press (they’ve since gone out of print) then I switched to paranormal romantic suspense and self published three: No Rest for the Wicca, Raven’s Quest and Raven’s Kiss that were pretty well received, but I think the cozy mystery niche is my favorite!

Jessie: Are there any cozy mysteries written by others you’d like to recommend to our readers?

T.C.: Gee, where do I start! I’ve met so many writers from their appearances on ROCCO’s blog, where we generally have interviews and giveaways at least every other week (www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com) Some of my favorites are, Midnight Louie, of course, by Carole Nelson Douglas, the Cat in the Stacks mysteries by Miranda James, the Diva mysteries by Krista Davis, The Magical Cat mysteries by Sofie Kelly, Second Chance Mysteries by Sofie Ryan, Italian Kitchen Mysteries by Rosie Genova, Psychic Eye Mysteries by Victoria Laurie, the Haunted Guesthouse series by EJ Copperman, Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown…gosh I must have at least fifty more! Too many to list here LOL. If you check out our blog you’ll find lots of great writers and books! Rocco also reviews books for Night Owl online magazine, mainly cozies, so if anyone has a book they’d like him to review, please contact me!

Jessie:What can readers expect next from you?

T.C.: Well, I’ve just finished up another cozy series my agent will be shopping around, and then there is the next Nick and Nora mystery, due out next December! Nora’s sister Lacey finds herself in a spot of trouble… Visit my website, www.tclotempio.com or ROCCO’s blog for current information on new releases!

About the Author…..
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She lists among her favorite mystery/suspense writers Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, as well as EJ Copperman, Steve Hockensmith, Victoria Laurie, Ali Brandon, Rita Mae Brown, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly to name only a few! Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read!   Toni’s also devoted to miniseries like The Thorn Birds, Dancing with the Stars, reruns of Murder She Wrote and Castle (of course!). She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuts Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.

Where to find them:

ROCCO’s blog:

www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com

Website:

www.tclotempio.com

 

 

 

 

 

A New “Cat About Town”

By Liz, wondering when the heck I’m going to get my Christmas shopping done! How did it get to be almost mid-December?

Yes, it’s the most wonderful – and busiest – time of the year. This year, even more so because of some exciting news. I’ve asked my pal Junkyard Johnny to pop in for this announcement. He’s been anxiously awaiting this moment, as seen here:

JohnnyCakes

Okay, so here goes – I’m so excited to share with all of you that I’m going to be writing a second series, the Cat About Town, for St. Martin’s Press under the name Cate Conte! Note – The Cat About Town is modeled after Johnny. For those of you who don’t know his story, he was rescued from a junkyard in New Hampshire back in 2003. So after that humble start, he’s thrilled to be on the fast track to stardom.

In addition to Johnny’s alter ego, the series features Maddie James, a twenty-something entrepreneur who has just returned to her hometown, Daybreak Island, a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts. Maddie’s spent the last ten years in San Francisco dabbling in successful business ventures. She loves her life, but has been yearning for home especially after she hears of the tourism troubles her beloved island is facing. Earlier in the year, the president of the island’s Chamber of Commerce died in a tragic car accident, and the board can’t settle on a replacement. Not to mention the state is cutting funding for tourism overall, which leaves the island in a precarious position. Maddie’s long since had the idea of bringing some San Francisco culture to her hometown, so she jumps on the opportunity to start up a business on Daybreak. She recruits her pal Ethan Birdsong, an esteemed gelato maker who studied in Italy, to return with her and they make plans to open a shop that will also feature healthy smoothies. Maddie’s vision is to elevate the perception of the island by attracting younger, more hip residents and business owners, and ultimately help the island reach the status of premier vacation spot on the east coast.

Maddie’s business acumen precedes her, and before she knows it, she’s elected president of the newly-formed Daybreak Island Business Association. With the presidency comes two key responsibilities: successfully organizing the upcoming food stroll (which she’s got about three weeks to pull off) and negotiating with the president of the mainland Chamber of Commerce, who wants the association to merge with his group. Neither of these things make Maddie particularly happy – especially when she gets a taste of Frank O’Malley, the sketchy Chamber president.

But she’s not the only one who’s not a fan of Frank. This becomes apparent when her new friend, the Cat About Town, sniffs out his dead body under one of the food stroll tents a couple of hours before the event is scheduled to kick off (and immediately following a contentious meeting with Maddie).

Suspects abound, but the cops have their eye on an “outsider” – Maddie’s business partner. Now she’s in a race against time to prove them wrong – AND reschedule the food stroll before the island’s reputation is as dead as Frank. With the help of her Grandpa Leo (the retired police chief) and some other quirky pals, Maddie has to figure out who the real killer is before she finds herself out of business – for good.

10541952_914577361905352_8714990119533756205_nSo that’s the set-up and a quick summary. There’s plenty more mayhem, romance and other fun stuff I haven’t mentioned. I’m still tossing around titles, but am tentatively calling the book Fatal Food Stroll. I don’t have a pub date yet, but am presuming it will be early 2016. I’m having a lot of fun writing this, and I hope you’ll all check it out! Johnny says thanks a lot 🙂