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Sunday, September 18, 2016

CAT STUFF, by Mollie Hunt

I don’t consider myself a collector. The idea that I purposefully go out seeking cat objects is ludicrous. Yet when I look around me, at my desk, my shelves, my bookcase, my jewelry, even my clothing, I have to wonder. From every side, round furry faces with pointed ears and bright gem eyes stare back at me. Plush, wood, ceramic, paper – there are cats. Cats everywhere. But I’m not a collector. 

There is something about the fluid shape of a cat, the perfect symmetry (or in some cases, perfectly imperfect) that pleases the eye and soothes the soul. When I am sad or lost for words, I run my gaze over the long back and shapely tail. When I am anxious, the serenity of a sleeping cat calms me. And when I’m just here and present, I enjoy looking at their form. To me, cats are flawless.

I’m picky about the cat items with which I surround myself. I can tell whether the artist has a true affinity for cats or he is just doing a design job. Cutsie kittens or uncat-like caricatures are not my preference. On the other hand, I enjoy the strange colors of the whimsical post-war MIJ figures, the Oaxacan carved totems, and the Japanese maneki-neko, because the pieces embody the personality of a real cat. 

I have many pictures of cats, portraits of cats-gone-by, photos of my beautiful current cats. There is an original wood block print by San Francisco artist Louise Gilbert and a linoleum print made by an unknown child. In my office is a wall calendar, a day planner, and cat-a-day. Over my living room couch hang 6 photos by Best Friends Sanctuary photographer Clay Meyers. I once sent him a snapshot of my kitty Harry lounging on the couch back in front of his work.

Though I don’t keep them on my bed like a starry-eyes teenager any more, I have a number of stuffed plush cats, One growls when pressed; another walks, driving my real cats crazy; yet another is in itself a cat toy. I also have a tribble who trills, given to me by author David Gerrold, but that’s another story. 

There is more – much more: cat lamp, cat needlepoint, cat tile, cat vase, cat cup, cat salt and pepper. But I assure you once again, I do not collect cat stuff. Ask me about my Star Trek autographs. Now that’s a collection!

Check out more blogs by Mollie Hunt at:

Happy reading!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Goodreads Goodness: Encourage Reviews

As an author, I am increasingly impressed with Goodreads as a promotion site. I noticed this more as a reader than a writer. As someone who encourages readers to leave reviews of the books they read on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads, I find as a reader the easiest way to do so is by taking advantage of the tools on my Kindle Fire.

First, I choose a book on my reader.

 Once I open the book, the following About This Book message shows in the right-hand corner. Sometimes I need to scroll down to find the Goodreads button. But, it is a favor to the book's author when I click on Mark as Currently Reading. It not only shows on my Goodreads feed that I am reading the book, it triggers email notifications to all my Goodreads followers about the book I am reading.

Have I ever bought books based on what another reader among my Goodreads friends has chosen to read? You bet.

Sometimes the information in the window will give an indication on how long the book will take to read. Even if the book is a six hour book and I decide I want to read a book that is estimated to take me about two hours, I still select Mark as Currently Reading because if I close the book and open it again later when I'm prepared to delve into a longer story, that About This Book window does not reappear.  

If I then go over into my Goodreads home page -- Ta! Da! -- there are the two books I marked as currently reading on my Kindle Fire.

It does not end there. Once I finish reading the book, it is an easy process to get my book review up on Goodreads as well as Amazon. At the every end of the book, I keep scrolling until I reach a Before You Go... page that looks like this:

I activate it to leave a review by first clicking on the STARS to give the story I just read a rating:

Once I do that, up pops windows for a review title and the review itself along with a keyboard. 

All Amazon requires for a review is twenty-five words. Not many. That is within the capability of those readers who don't consider themselves good writers. Yet those twenty-five words mean so much to the author of the book the reader just read. That review not only goes on Amazon, but it goes on the author's Goodreads account. 

It doesn't stop there. Next week I'll discuss some other benefits of authors and readers having and maintaining a Goodreads account.

Please visit and follow Zina Abbott on Goodreads by CLICKING HERE.
Zina Abbott is the pen name used by Robyn Echols for her historical novels. My novel, Family Secrets, was published by Fire Star Press.

Please visit and follow the Zina Abbott’s Amazon Author Page by

And, please, when  you finish reading my books, leave a review. 


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Meet Zombie

Several years ago my youngest son and his then girlfriend went out for a walk. Less than thirty minutes later, his girlfriend came back and announced, "Your son just rescued a sick cat." Little did I know that this "sick" cat would become the inspiration for my newest release, DIAL V FOR VAMPIRE, and the world of Kudzu Korners.

So, how did I go from meeting our newest rescue cat to world-building for a paranormal romance series? Join me, if you dare, for a journey through the workings of my writer brain.

We are a multiple cat household so, any new cats that show up are kept isolated from the others until we can have them tested to make sure that they aren't carrying any diseases such as feline leukemia or FIV (feline AIDS). We put the new guy in my husband's man cave until we we could get him to the vet. While we waited, we tossed around ideas for names but nothing quite fit. Then, while we were waiting in the exam room at the vet's office, I couldn't help but chuckle when I looked at the old man. He was deaf, missing most of his teeth, had a crumpled ear (probably from chronic ear infections) and, to make matters worse, when my husband and son had trimmed the mats out of the poor guy's long fur, they nicked his skin in a couple of places. The shorter fur also revealed a few cysts on his flanks. I shook my head and told him, "Dude, you look like the walking dead." That's when it hit me. His name was Zombie! It was perfect.

The view that gave Zombie his name

I have had dozens of cats (both my own and fosters) over the years. Zombie was easily one of the most awesome cats I have ever known. He was very laid back, but didn't take any "lip" from the others. (He was given a clean bill of health so, he moved out of the man cave and joined the rest of our clowder.) The other cats were confused by why he didn't react to their growls and hisses. But, whenever they got a bit too uppity, Zombie would give them a good whack (or several) with his paw. He would never use his claws, but the force of his slap would echo through the room.

Who could resist that face?
I played around with the idea of creating a blog called Life with Zombie in which I would post about Zombie the cat as if he were the stereotypical brain-eating zombie. Then, one day, my husband made one of those casual, life-changing statements: "Why don't you let your characters write some of the things you talk about?" That was it! I think I heard angels singing. At that point, my heroine Maggie became the author of the Life with Zombie blog, which, in turn, lead to the creation of Kudzu Korners, a small Southern town inhabited by humans, vampires, werewolves, zombies, and occasionally the fae. However, my vampires, werewolves, and zombies are anything but stereotypical.

My handsome old man
Sadly, our Zombie was roughly fifteen years old when my son rescued him and he was already in the advanced stages of kidney failure. We only had him in our lives for four months before his condition deteriorated to the point where we had to release him to run free at the Rainbow Bridge. Letting go of a much loved pet is never easy, even when you haven't known them long. However, in this case, Zombie lives on as a character in DIAL V FOR VAMPIRE. As a matter of fact, the story is dedicated to him:

To Zombie, the coolest rescue cat ever. I miss you, bud. You will live on in my heart, and Kudzu Korners, forever.

Would you like to meet Zombie for yourself? Are you interested in learning more about DIAL V FOR VAMPIRE and the world of Kudzu Korners? If so, you can find the blurb, an excerpt, and the buy link HERE.

Until next month, happy reading!

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Friday, September 2, 2016

New Release -- BLACK AND BLUEBERRY DIE by Livia J. Washburn -- Giveaway!

A Fresh Baked Mystery

In the latest from the nationally bestselling author of The Candy Cane Cupcake Killer, Phyllis Newsom returns with a blackberry and blueberry pie recipe that’s to die for…

It’s late summer in Weatherford, Texas and Mike Newsom’s childhood friend is sweltering in prison for a crime he claims he didn’t commit, murdering his wife. So instead of asking his mother to please stop investigating a murder, as he usually does, he asks her and Sam to please help his friend.

Danny Jackson, found guilty of beating his wife Roxanne to death at the ritzy hair salon where she works, was sentenced to prison for 30 years. His pleas of innocence fell on deaf ears, so it’s up to Phyllis to find what actually happened. She finds there are a lot of secrets and lies being told, and Roxanne was in the middle of them all.

Though Phyllis doesn’t want to get mixed up in another murder investigation, her son rarely asks for favors, and certainly not favors like this.  She has to untangle the lies and comb out the facts to find what happened that dark night.

Includes recipes!


Mike nodded. “Final game of the season my senior year. We were playing Stephenville, and whoever won would be district champs. The score was tied late in the game, and we had the ball on our own nineteen yard line. It was third and eleven, and we couldn’t try to throw for a first down because our quarterback had a rubber band for an arm. So he hands the ball to me on a sweep, and Danny, who’s playing right tackle, makes the best block you’ll ever see in your life. Takes out their defensive end and two linebackers. I got outside, juked the defensive back who came up, and realized that not only was I going to get the first down, if I could get past the safety I had a clear shot down the sideline.” Mike shrugged. “So I ran over him and was off to the races.”
“I remember that game,” Phyllis said. “It was one of the most exciting things I ever saw.”
“But you were on your nineteen, you said...” Sam commented.
“Yeah, the DB I put a move on finally caught up to me and brought me down at the Stephenville one. Our quarterback snuck in on the next play, and that was the game. But I never would have gone for eighty and basically won the game if it hadn’t been for Danny’s block.”
“I understood a little of that,” Carolyn said. “You’re saying you owed this man a debt.”
“A big one. Because that was the night I finally got up the courage to ask Sarah to go out with me, and...well...”
“And now you’re married and have a beautiful son and of course you feel grateful to Danny for whatever small part he might have played in you and Sarah getting together,” Phyllis said. “But still, he killed his wife.”
“That’s just it, Mom,” Mike said. “I’m not convinced he did.”

Do you have that moment when someone did something that changed your life? Mine would probably be my brother Bruce sleeping late on a day he was supposed to ride to college with James Reasoner. If Bruce had been timely, I never would have gotten to know James, who became my husband 40 years ago.  Leave a comment for a change to win a free ebook of Black and Blueberry Die.

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