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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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Expansion by Christoph Martin


PRESS RELEASE
Engineer Max Burns finds his life hanging in the balance when the United States goes head-to-head with China over the world’s largest trade route: the Panama Canal in this globe-trotting political thriller.
In politics and big business, truth is a matter of opinion.

About
British-born geomatic engineer Max Burns’ revolutionary water-saving system has won him the esteemed position of head engineer for one of the 21st century’s most politically contested mega-projects: the expansion of the Panama Canal. For Max it is a dream come true; not only is he able to work closely with construction giant and old high-school friend Godfredo Roco in one of the most beautiful tropical environments, but it’s the kind of job Max has been working toward his entire career.

Yet in the arena of global trade and diplomacy, stakes are high, and when a senior official of the Panama Canal Administration is found dead, Max finds himself in the frame for sabotage and murder, and at the center of a web of political intrigue and betrayal that reaches far beyond the idyllic shores of Central America. The only person Max can trust is his new-found love, Karis Deen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Except Karis herself holds a secret that could not only destroy Max, but could change the entire balance of world power.

Crossing the globe from Panama to Switzerland to Washington and London, The Expansion by Christoph Martin is an exhilarating and high-stakes first entry in a planned four-part thriller series. Delving into the more relevant-than-ever themes of government surveillance and political dealing with a mix of intrigue and fast-paced action, readers will find a new favorite of the genre.

Buy

The Author:
Christoph Martin is the writing team of Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin. Christoph Zollinger is a Swiss entrepreneur whose career spans legal, military, corporate and private enterprise. Christoph graduated with a law degree from the University of Zürich, after which time he went on to live and work in Panama in corporate and private enterprise for more than a decade. In 2012 he returned to Switzerland with his wife and children. He divides his time between his home in Zürich and a tiny Alpine village in Graubünden. Libby O'Loghlin is an Australian novelist and prize-winning short story writer​ who has a career in narrative media production, including film and television, as well as print and digital publishing. She has lived in the UK, USA and Malaysia, and she now lives with her family in Switzerland. The Expansion by Christoph Martin (published by Clink Street Publishing May 2nd, 2017 in paperback and ebook RRP TBC) will be available to purchase from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores.

Reviews

"The Expansion opens with one of the most fast-paced, explosive prologues that I’ve read in a long time. It sets the scene for a novel that is packed full of international espionage, murder, intrigue and the beautiful setting of Panama."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Yet, Home by Irene Noor

Enthralling Fiction Novel Examines How Specific Choices Can
Redirect the Future
Author Irene Noor presents a gripping story about life decisions and what it means to be a stranger in a place that will ultimately be home


WORTHINGTON, Ohio – Author Irene Noor has released her debut novel, “Yet, Home,” a compelling fiction that tells the story of two generations: Tayib, a recently retired Egyptian man, and daughters Layla and Dalia, one of whose stories takes place in Cairo, while the parallel life of the other is lived out in Australia.

While Tayib is a university student, a seemingly small incident one morning puts him on a path to marry a woman named Aida and eventually emigrate to Australia and have their daughter Dalia. However, if the small incident had not occurred, Tayib would finish his studies in architecture, marry a woman named Yasmine, and continue to live in Cairo where they would have their daughter Layla. In both stories, his daughter, like Tayib, is questioning the path she has chosen.

The story examines the emigration experience for Egyptians living in a new country and what it means to be a stranger in a new place, and how, if ever, it becomes home. Through Dalia, Layla, and their mothers, the story also highlights the decisions women face when balancing a family and career, what sacrifices they are willing to make, and to what end.

“Yet, Home” is two parallel stories and switches between the two versions of Tayib’s life as his family’s story takes the reader from Cairo and Australia to London and even Portugal in search of answers.

About the author
Irene Noor is a global nomad who has lived primarily in the United States since high school. Noor was inspired by her own life journey and by other emigration stories to write “Yet, Home.” This is her debut novel and she is currently working on her second book, a historical fiction.  Noor enjoys traveling with her family and resides in Worthington, Ohio with her husband and three children.

To learn more about Irene Noor and her writing, please visit 


Interview
Welcome to my blog Irene.  Please tell my readers more about yourself and your book.

Q:
Tell us about your latest worktitle, genre, etc. — and why you wrote it?
A:
My book is titled “Yet, Home,” and it’s literary fiction. I wrote it because I wanted to explore why people leave what is familiar and how they create a sense of home in a strange place. It’s something that people have done all over the world and for centuries, so I think readers will find it a compelling question, as I have.
Q:
What draws you to your genre(s)? Why is this type of story compelling to you?
A:
As a reader, good literary fiction is the best. It’s the whole package: well-crafted writing, captivating plot, thought-provoking themes and multi-faceted characters. So that’s what I aim for in my writing as well.
Q:
What is your writing process like? Do you map the whole thing out or do you just let it unfold?
A:
With “Yet, Home,” it was definitely a creative process. I started writing the book not knowing how it would end or what would happen. With my second book, a historical fiction, I have an outline of dates and events, by virtue of it being based on historical events, and I’m filling in the unknowns.
Q:
What kind of research was involved?
A:
For “Yet, Home,” I drew heavily on the experiences of 1st generation immigrants I know (including my own experiences) and on what I have studied about culture and its effect on how each of us sees the world. I was an anthropology major, so exploring the question of culture is something I’ve done for…well, more years than I care to count.
Q:
How much of YOU makes it into your characters?
A:
None of the main characters are based on me or any other real person I know, but some of the thoughts and experiences Dalia and Layla have had are ones I identify with.
Q:
How do you balance the need to have time to write with the needs of family, society, etc.?
A:
It’s tough, and I have no magic bullet. I’m the type of person who’s always had multiple commitments going on at any given time. I was fortunate with “Yet, Home,” in that I had a small window of time when my kids were in school and I wasn’t working, so I was able to work on the book for several hours a day and get it finished in a relatively short period (less than 18 months). Nowadays, with part-time work and a young child, it’s not so easy. On a daily basis, successful balance happens for me when I can set realistic goals for what takes priority for the day and stay focused on that. I think the key is to acknowledge that there is simply not enough time for all the things in the world you love and would like to give time to.  So I’ve had to accept that there are some things I will never do, and some things I can’t do now, but perhaps will in a later season of life.
Q:
Have there been any authors in particular, that inspired your writing?
A:
Of the contemporary authors, I think I’d have to say Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, and Jhumpa Lahiri are among my absolute favorites, and I aspire to some day write half as well as they do. Other excellent authors whose books I will read without hesitation: John Irving, Geraldine Brooks, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Paula McLain. I also love the classics: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Victor Hugo.
Q:
Is there a story you want to tell behind or about your work(s)?
A:
I wrote this book while our family was staying in Australia. We had temporarily suspended our “regular” lives in Ohio, and the experience allowed me to imagine these characters and their lives in a way I don’t think would have been possible, or at least as easy, surrounded by the familiarity of home.
Q:
What other projects are you currently working on or about to start?
A:
I’m currently working on a historical fiction, based on a shipwreck that happened off the coast of southern Australia at the end of the 19th century. Researching for it has been fun (newspapers 120 years ago were written far differently!).
Q:
Could you share some of your marketing strategies?  Which ones are the most effective in your opinion?
A:
Keeping an active presence online, via a blog or social media, is important. Book giveaways seem to work well also.
Q:
What would be the top five, (or 3 or 1 or however many) things you would tell aspiring authors?
A:
Write without worrying about how well received your book will be. Write your hardest, do you best work, and make it something you are proud of. If it resonates with others, that’s great. But if not, you have something you won’t regret having done.
Again, thanks Irene for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. We appreciate you and your work.

“Yet, Home”
By Irene Noor
ISBN: 978-1-365-52241-3
Available at Amazon and the Lulu Bookstore


For Review Copies & General Inquiries Contact:
LAVIDGE – Phoenix
Lauren Dickerson
480-998-2600