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Saturday, June 17, 2017

A FATHER’S DAY ALTERNATIVE, by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer

Everyone loves Father’s Day, at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. All those fathers out there, be they young or old, new or great grandfathers, deserve their day in the sun. So go a little nuts; give the dad in your life something to show your appreciation; take him to a barbeque; take him fishing; take him to see Wonder Woman; whatever he likes best. 

But for some of us, Father’s Day can be a little tough. Maybe we’ve lost our daddies; maybe they have lost us. Maybe it’s just not such a good time for yet another Hallmark-Greeting-Card-Spend-Your-Money-On-A-Senseless-Gift holiday. 

For cat people, here is another alternative: Celebrate a Cat Holiday instead!

There is no cat holiday that falls directly on June 18th, but this month is filled with cat-centric celebrations. Unfortunately we have missed two great ones: Hug Your Cat Day was June 4th, and just a few days ago, June 16th was Lap Day. I can think of several fun and furry ways to enjoy those holidays with my clowder. 

The first full week of June is Animal Rights Awareness Week, a more serious tribute to all animals and not just cats. The pursuit of animal rights is still a work in progress, but I’m happy to report it’s heading in a positive direction, with more laws protecting animals from abuse and neglect, and more advocates who will speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Tomorrow, June 19th, is one I had never heard of but will not be likely to forget: International Box Day. We all know how much cats of all shapes, sizes, and species love a good box! 

June 19th is also National Garfield Day for those who follow the comic strip feline. Baking a lasagna would be a fitting way to commemorate the famous orange tabby and all the laughter he has given us over the years. 

You may or may not like June 24 – Wake Up Your Human Day. It will probably be no different than any other morning when kitty rises with the birds, lands on your chest, licks your face, bites your nose, and sings the song of her people to let you know the day has begun.

June 24 is also Take Your Cat to Work Day, though it’s a Saturday so I’m not sure what to make of that. Maybe it was planned that way; maybe my source got the date wrong. Either way, I can just imagine Little napping on my computer while Tyler runs up and down the aisles, breaking everyone’s concentration with his irresistible cuteness.

The entire month of June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month (the ASPCA). I have done my part, adopting Tyler from the Oregon Humane Society on June 1st.  Hey, maybe that’s something you could do for Father’s Day: Take your dad, granddad, son, brother, or ??? to your local shelter and adopt a cat today!

Check out more by Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer at:
Happy reading!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Case of the New Year Dragon

I’m thrilled to announce that the second book in the Li’l Tom and the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau series, The Case of the New Year Dragon, has been accepted for publication by Tornado Alley Publications (a sister imprint of Fire Star Press)!  

And speaking of new year dragons, one of the inspirations for this story was Gum Lung (pronounced "Goom Loong"), a dragon who stars in San Francisco’s New Year Parade each year.  

Gum Lung is approximately 268 feet long and takes over 100 people to carry her down the parade route.  She is lit up inside by thousands of tiny lights, making for quite an entrancing spectacle.  The pearl of wisdom is usually carried before Gum Lung to encourage her as she winds her way through the San Francisco streets.  Those observing the traditional ways believe she has magical powers and brings lucky energy.

Click here for a great YouTube video I found showing Gum Lung in all her magnificent glory:  See also this SFGate article for more about Gum Lung:

In doing research for The Case of the New Year Dragon, I attempted to find out where Gum Lung spends the rest of the year when not on display for the new year festivities.  I never found out where the dragon is currently housed, but came upon an interesting story:  Lawrence Ferlinghetti, writer, artist, and co-founder of City Lights independent bookstore and publishing house, discovered Gum Lung’s lair in the cellar of City Lights Bookstore in North Beach (sometime in the late 1950s).  Ferlinghetti penned a poem, "The Great Chinese Dragon,” telling the tale of the dragon "creeping out of an Adler Alley cellar like a worm out of a hole sometime during the second week in February every year.”  

When I lived in San Francisco, my husband, Tom, and I would always make a day of meandering through North Beach and Chinatown, which were always jam-packed with revelers, on the day of the Chinese New Year Parade.  


We would, of course, finish the day by watching the famed parade, said to be the oldest and largest event of its kind outside of Asia.

Since Tom was born in the Year of the Dragon, we couldn’t miss the Year of the Dragon parade.  Although the parade always features Gum Lung and other dragon representatives, this specific parade seemed to be more chock full of the colorful serpent than ever.  


It was during this parade, way back while I was writing The Case of the Parrots Desaparecidos, that the idea struck me that Li’l Tom’s next case would be The Case of the New Year Dragon.  I had no idea at the time what the story would be about, but have since worked that out.  Stay tuned for The Case of the New Year Dragon in the coming year! 

Angela Crider Neary is an attorney by day and writer by night. She is an avid mystery reader and especially enjoys reading novels set in interesting locales. She was inspired to write her first mystery novella, Li'l Tom and the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau: The Case of the Parrots Desaparecidos, by one of her favorite areas in San Francisco, Telegraph Hill. To learn more, visit her on Facebook and Amazon.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Magpie Syndrome

I admit it. I love anything that glitters or sparkles. My husband calls it "Magpie Syndrome." (I haven't had the heart to tell him that recent studies have shown that magpies are NOT attracted to shiny objects.) However, this attraction to the new and shiny extends beyond just jewelry and clothing - it permeates my writing as well. A new story idea is so exciting and holds so much promise - what will it be when it grows up ? A short story? A novella? A novel?

I'm not a plotter, I don't outline. It has just never worked for me. Even in high school and college, I never wrote the outline until after I was done with the paper and then only because it was required. I mean, how could I know what I was going to write until I wrote it? When I begin developing a story I know who the main characters are, I know how the story begins, how it ends, and have a few miscellaneous scenes that go somewhere in the middle. The rest evolves as I write.

Oooh, shiny!

When writing was something I only dreamed of doing I often worried that I wouldn't be able to come up with enough story ideas. Ha! I have so many ideas I can't keep up with them. At this point my primary focus is on Dances with Werewolves, the second novel in my Kudzu Korners sweet paranormal romance series. (You can read about the first novel, Dial V for Vampire, here.) But, at the same time I have ideas for at least 15 other stories percolating in my head. Heck, I even have covers for books that I haven't written yet.

It would be easy to let all of these ideas distract me because of their freshness - so many unknowns waiting to be discovered! However, if I flit from story to story like a hummingbird nothing will ever get finished. I am (mostly) able to focus on my work in progress (WIP) but I have learned that when an idea won't quit going "Mom, mom, mom, mom! Pay attention to me, Mom" it's best to put the WIP aside for an evening or so and pay attention to it. This normally consists of just making notes to get some of the ideas out of my head. On occasion, "notes" become chapters. But, this means that when those other stories have their day in the sun, I'll already have a good start.

I know I'm not alone. This cartoon was recently shared on the Writing About Writing Facebook page. It's perfect! :-)

Distractions are a part of life, not just writing. How do you stay focused?

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Monday, June 5, 2017

New Release -- The Great Chili Kill-Off by Livia J. Washburn

The chili in Texas is red-hot . . . and so is murder!

Phyllis, Sam, Carolyn, and Eve head for West Texas to compete in a Fourth of July chili cookoff. Thousands of people have descended on a sleepy little ghost town, turning it into a boomtown for chili mavens, gamblers, musicians, and media. Raucous excitement fills the air, but so does chili when a sabotaged propane cooker explodes, killing the much-hated current champion. The victim leaves behind a tangled trail of sleeping with other men’s wives, cheating at cards – and maybe at chili cooking – and deadly anger.  With Sam a possible suspect in the murder, emotions run hot as a bowl of Texas red as Phyllis has to untangle these threads in order to put her finger on the killer!

Livia J. Washburn's beloved Fresh Baked Mystery series is back with another novel full of tasty recipes, dastardly doings, and brilliant sleuthing by Phyllis Newsom and her friends. THE GREAT CHILI KILL-OFF is a delicious dish of murder and detection.


     “Are you sure this is the right way?” Carolyn asked. “This road doesn’t look like it leads anywhere.”
     “Isn’t this the way a lot of horror movies start out?” Eve added.
     “This is the way the GPS said to go,” Sam told them.
     “Yes,” Carolyn replied, “but you said you didn’t trust the thing!”
     Sam smiled and said, “Don’t worry, we’re headin’ the right way. I studied the map real good before we ever started. At least this road’s paved . . . sort of. There are plenty out here that aren’t.”
     The smaller road wound through low, rocky hills. In places the route was cut through bluffs and ridges, so that rough walls loomed on both sides of the vehicle. They rattled over a couple of old plank bridges spanning deep, dry washes. Phyllis thought the landscape looked a lot like that in the Western movies Sam loved so much.
     The sun was still hanging just above the mountains to the west when the pickup went through a saddle in some rolling hills and the road dropped down a long slope into a broad valley.
     “There it is,” Sam said. “Cactus Bluff.”
     “Oh, my,” Phyllis said.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Research, by Mike Gonzales

Wow, we're about halfway through the year, already! Hard to believe. It seems just like yesterday that I was celebrating the release of my second novel, “The Battle of Broken Moon,” but that was back in March.

So far, I feel as if I’ve already packed a year into five months.

Recently, I have been giving thought, just for the purpose of experimentation, to writing outside my chosen genre. All my ideas and concepts always seem to come about, and morph into Sci-fi, and or, Fantasy.

Having an interest in the genre within which you write is, to my mind, paramount. I can’t imagine sitting down to write something for which I have no interest: stamp collecting, and golf, come to mind.

Now, it is not my intent to belittle either philately or the links, they just aren’t my cup of tea.

Regardless of how enthralled an author may be with the tome they are pouring their emotion into, there is always something that author must become more familiar with in order to give the story gravitas. Be it the right way to saddle a horse, the correct lay out of a long forgotten western town, or thrust to weight ratios.

I have learned a great deal in the researches I’ve done in support of my Sci-fi novels.

I’ve learned about new technologies that promise humanity a much faster ability to sail between the planets.

I’ve discovered the “multiverse”, the theory that points to an endless number of universes all around ours, like billions of soap bubbles crowding a child’s birthday party.
The possibility that there is a countless number of me out there, each making a different decision at every question; answer the phone or no, turn right, left, buy that house… each decision spiraling that other me into an entirely new future. It’s called, “string theory.”

I have come to understand that the universe is far stranger, and more complex than the human mind is capable of comprehending.

On a positive note, this means that no matter how outrageous, outlandish, weird, or bizarre an author paints his world, either in deep space, or on planet Earth…he can’t be wrong.

It’s all possible, in string theory.

          At night, as I gaze up into the heavens, I imagine my eyes as super powered light receptors. From beyond the Moon, beyond the Milky Way, past the stars in Orion’s belt, and the great Bootes Void, outside the realm of the visible universe come superluminal communications in data bursts too fast to be detected by poor terrestrial sensors.

Within these communications come stories of great daring, accomplished by individuals who reside on other planes of existence, some as far away as the Hercules Supercluster. Others from entire universes that exist all around us, in the same space, and others deep within a single fleck of dust now sitting atop a long forgotten book in your own library.

As the Bard speaketh, “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio — than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


Visit my page, Michael Gonzales, fictionist:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Release -- MUSIC OF THE HEART -- Giveaway!

Some song titles evoke memories not only of the song, but also of the time…the era…the place. They call for stories all their own, and at Fire Star Press they’ve inspired a new boxed set!

From the 1940’s through the 1980’s, each decade is represented by a song that was made powerhouse-popular during the time.

NEARBY by Tanya Hanson
With a marriage of convenience and an unexpected baby on the way, Stella Klenner fights her feelings for her bridegroom, the brother of her dead G.I. fiancĂ©. But Coast Guard signalman Titus Myers keeps secrets of his own. Two lonely people in war-time wish for “Someone to Watch Over Me”… But can they work through guilt and grief to find new love and their own happy-ever-after?
Kort and Rebekah’s star-crossed love is torn apart by family bigotry. Though Kort’s been away at college, his return immediately kindles the old flame of passion for both of them—and they won’t let anything stop them from wondering what could happen “If I Loved You”… for love is the only thing that can break the bonds of hatred between two small town families.

CRAZY HORSE HIGH by Sara Swann-Barnard
Cynthia Ann Johnson is devastated to leave her California home for a barren Sioux Indian reservation just before her senior prom. When some of the Native high school thugs corner her, she is rescued by heartthrob Danny Silver Sky who risks everything to save her. Romance blossoms between them, and Danny must stand up to those who condemn their relationship—including Cynthia’s father. Can true love happen in “This Magic Moment”—an instant in time that defines everything?

Meladee Lerner is a single mom and struggling songwriter in hiding, escaping a marriage she never wanted. When a snow storm paralyzes the city, she and her young daughter run into Niall Dillon, a handsome, hard-working Pittsburgher with strong Irish roots and plenty of captivating charm. When near-tragedy strikes, Meladee and Niall fall under love’s spell quickly and realize that while they’re together, everything that comes their way will be “Wonderful Tonight”…

Glamorous New York fashion designer, Erica Lime, has a messy life. She can’t cook and has lost her muse—and that elusive promotion is just out of reach. Because of one impulsive decision, she falls for stripper Ken Donovan, aka “The Phantom”, headlining in a nearby strip club. Though she tries to hold her emotions apart, memories of a magical night with The Phantom leave her with one burning thought:“I’m On Fire”… Will she complicate her life with an honest love?

Pull up a chair and settle in for five music-inspired love stories through the decades that will take you down a breathless walk through memory lane…  

Be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook!