In Honor of National Cat Day: Raven! #blackcats

It was recently brought to my attention (ahem, Julie) that Raven hasn’t made an appearance on my blog in a while. It also dawned on me that today is National Cat Day. Given Raven is a black cat, it’s almost Halloween, and it’s National Cat Day, that’s a trifecta I couldn’t pass up. I’m late in getting this posted, but for all the cat lovers out there, here’s my gorgeous girl . . .

This past spring, hanging out in the bow window.
The little birds that visit in the morning provide hours of entertainment.

Beautiful black cat in bow window with rose in bloom behind glass

Peek-a-boo from her collapsible cube.
She likes to flatten it like a pancake when she’s playing.

Black cat peeking out of a large toy cube

Taking a nap on tree #1 by the bow window.
So innocent—while plotting . . .

Black cat curled up on a large cat tree

The perfect way to get a second tree is to hang out where she isn’t allowed.
Smart girl.

Black cat balancing on the back of chair

The plotting worked.
Tree #2 overlooking the rear deck arrives.
She and a resident chipmunk play tag, racing between this spot
and the patio doors in the family room. More entertainment!

Black cat on a large cat tree in front of french doors

I was an idiot to think that large spray of reeds in the corner could stay. 
Tree + cat + reeds = large cat toy.
The spray was moved in less than an hour.

Black cat sitting on a large cat tree in front of a French door

A new toy—sort of.
Stolen from my key chain.
She makes a good thief.

Black cat in sitting pose looking at camera with a puff toy in front of her

Ready for bed at the end of the day.
She has me wrapped and knows it!

Black cat under sheets in bed

Raven and I wish you a Happy National Cat Day!

Cat Toys and Author Tools

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I spent half of mine visiting with family and the other half trying to be productive on my WIP (more on that project in a later post).

Of course, I had to make time for the Kentucky Derby, something DH and I never miss. It was a rainy day in Kentucky with a muddy track, and and equally rainy day in PA.

I bought some new play toys for my cat, Raven, called Neko Flies. They’re by far and away the best cat toys I’ve ever purchased, sheer genius on the part of whoever designed them. Picture a fishing rod with a life-like lure on the end. I bet the inventor was fiddling around with tackle one day when his or her cat went crazy.

Raven loves to stalk and hunt and turns into a predatory demon anytime she sees a bug, so as soon as I spied Neko Flies, I knew they were golden. Has anyone else tried these for their cats?

I picked up the Kattiepede and Kragonfly. The Kragonfly has beautiful iridescent wings (the picture on the website doesn’t do it justice). Next up, I’d like to get the Katarantula. You can order online or through Amazon, but I found Neko Flies at my local pet store. I have the regular wand, but want to get the telescoping rod, which looks like a small fishing rod. It’s currently out of stock at the store and online. What I don’t do for my cat—she is so spoiled—but, boy, is she getting her exercise! Including performing complex aerial acrobatics on a regular basis.

And speaking of being spoiled, it’s time to spoil yourself with today’s resource material on Story Empire where Staci Troilo shares Part 3 of her series on Author Media kits. Her topic is One Sheet and Author Biographies. As always, Staci delivers an information packed post with guidance, examples, and suggestions on implementing. Enjoy!

Writing and #Cats

Raven is helping me introduce my post today. For those of you who are new followers, Raven is my rescue cat, adopted the end of September. Recently, it’s been brought to my attention (ahem….you know who you are 🙂 ) that my blog has suffered an appalling lack of cat photos.

So, today Raven is the guest presenter for my post at Story Empire. She was camped out on my desk when I wrote What’s Your Preference? and thinks it’s pretty good. But then Raven likes ripping apart stuffed lobsters (and I don’t mean the gourmet variety).

This is my predatory hunter with a cute red lobster I found on Amazon. See it peeking out from beneath her belly?

Raven with lobster (black cat with stuffed lobster toy)

The picture was taken on the day I opened the package. Today, the lobster has no tail and the right eye is barely hanging on, just one of her many toy casualties. What she did to the stuffed mouse is too gruesome to mention, but what can I say? She’s a cat and cats are hunters.

Like any cat, she also knows how to pose. The second photo is the one that was posted on the rescue site when she was placed for adoption. The moment I saw her, I was smitten. Seriously—who could resist that face? She was so tiny! I used to be able to hold her in one hand.

The final photo is Raven now. Look at those eyes! Her birthday comes up the middle of May when she’ll be a year old.

Raven on rescue site, black kitten

And now that you’ve had a chance to see what a gorgeous girl she is, I hope you’ll join me at Story Empire as I ruminate about writing habits, CPs and professional organizations.

Who knows…there might even be a cat photo or two :)Raven Eyes black cat with legs tucked under body looking at camera

The Writing Year That Was…

The year is drawing to a close. In a short while, we’ll be bidding 2016 goodbye. I’m excited about starting new projects and setting new goals in 2017, but it always helps to look back over the previous year. 2016 was a tough one, but it was also very good to me. Many thanks, my friends, for taking the journey with me. Here’s my personal look back, and a wish to all of us for continued success in the year ahead!

Holiday thank-you card surrounded by open fountain pen, and red and green decorations . Gold ink

WRITING
I wrote and delivered three manuscripts—two full length books, and one short story. Not too shabby for juggling a writing career with a full-time job, but I will be more than happy to wave goodbye to contract deadlines.

RELEASES
A great year! Book one of my Point Pleasant Series, A Thousand Yesteryears released April 26, and book two, A Cold Tomorrow, released December 20. Tucked in-between, my short story, The Lady Ghost, was part of Macabre Sanctuary, a free anthology of Halloween-themed stories that released on September 30. That book is still free, so if you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, don’t miss out!

RRBC
I kicked off 2016 as a brand new member of the Rave Reviews Book Club, an experience that has been a highlight of my online journey. Not only did I discover great authors and fabulous books, but I’ve made many wonderful and supportive friends as a result. And talk about fun! The Back to School Blog Block Party was the standout for me, but there were plenty of exciting events taking place throughout the year.  Please see my RRBC page to learn more about this fantastic club and how it can benefit you. I’ve already renewed my membership for 2017.

BOOK OF THE MONTH
Myth and Magic was a RRBC book-of-the-month club selection in May. I picked up many new reviews as a result and was able to participate in a club discussion regarding the novel. Can we say “jazzed?” 🙂

BOOK SIGNINGS
I did two local book signings this year (one in April and one in October), and although neither resulted in a plethora of sales, I did sell copies, and had a lot of fun in the process. I also got to network with a number of other local authors and made some great connections.

STORY EMPIRE
What started as brainstorming ideas about promotion with a few other authors, evolved into a full blown website. I’m delighted to be part of this fabulous online group which also includes Staci Troilo, Craig Boyack, Harmony Kent and Sandra Cox. If you aren’t a member of the Empire, we’d love to have you follow our blog where we talk craft, writing, books, and even run off-the-wall promos. Look for more from the SE group in 2017. We’re always dreaming up something!

BESTSELLER STATUS
For the second year in a row, I hit bestseller status on Amazon, this time with
A Thousand Yesteryears, which peaked in the paid store at #1 in mystery/thriller/suspense paranormal and #1 in sci-fi/fantasy magical realism. Yes, I took screenshots. Ranking higher than Stephen King, for however brief the stay, had me floating! If you haven’t read A Thousand Yesteryears yet, now is your chance to pick up a copy for .99c for a limited time.

READING
I set my Goodreads Reading Challenge at 50 books this year, thinking I wouldn’t read as much as normal with my contract deadlines. I ended up reading 82, which proves I can’t keep my nose out of a book, I guess. My reads come from a mixture of mainstream novels, novels written by friends and RRBC members, plus others I stumble across on Twitter or book blogs. As a member of RRBC, I’m required to read 4 books a year by other member authors. in 2016, 30 of my 82 books were RRBC reads.

beautiful black cat with a glossy coat nestled in an open cardboard boxRAVEN
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my cat, Raven, adopted the end of September. Cats are curious creatures, and yes, she gets into many things she shouldn’t, but she’s a joy. And boy, has she grown! That’s her at the right on Christmas Day. Notice the new toy in the background (just one of many). Like a typical cat, she’s more interested in the box. She does, however, have a “Santa mouse” that she loves. 🙂

TOP TWELVE
For those of you might not know, 12 is my favorite number. Just recently, I discovered A Thousand Yesteryears made book reviewer, Jennifer Thomason’s, top twelve reads of 2016! I was thrilled to find my novel included, especially given the amazing talent in the group. You can see all twelve books on Jennifer’s blog, Dandelions Inspired. If you love to read, click “follow” while you’re there. I think Jennifer probably reads more than anyone I know! And if you’re an author, check out the review submission guidelines on her blog. She’ll give you a fair shake.

LYRICAL THRILLS
Like camping? Like to read? Lyrical Underground tagged me on Facebook this week, alerting me they’re doing a giveaway to celebrate A Cold Tomorrow. I wouldn’t mind having these goodies myself. Hop over to see what they’re giving away! I love that they’re always doing something.

BOOK SALES
My best year yet!! I’ve heard it usually takes several years to see results, and I’ve finally reached the point where that’s happening. Hopefully, I can continue to build on that momentum going into 2017 and beyond. A HUGE thank you to everyone for the support you’ve shown me. You have made my author’s journey a blessing.

Wishing you all a fabulous New Year! Cheers, and let’s head into 2017 together!    

When #Cats Rule Your World by Mae Clair

Those of you who’ve been following my blog or a while know that I’m a cat fanatic. It’s been almost five years since I lost my last cat, Onyx, to cancer. I never thought I would last five years between felines given my OCD (obsessive cat disorder), but if I’d gotten another cat sooner (or later) I wouldn’t have met Raven.

Say hello to my latest companion.

cute black cat lying on a white and blue blanket, looking at cameraShe’s four months old and is a rescue from Castaway Critters. I’ve been prepping my house for her for weeks. Rather, I should say I’ve been prepping for “a cat.” I’m a planner, so I had completed an application to CC ahead of time, supplied references and a vet check, all so that I could get a cat the first week of October, after a brief visit to the beach. All neat and tidy, planned out perfectly—NOT!

I was approved ahead of time and started looking at the Castaway Critters website early. Big mistake. My willpower was shot by that point and I was in uber cat mode.

I knew I wanted another black cat. Why? Because they’re often left in shelters due to old superstitions, something I addressed in my novella FOOD FOR POE. I saw Raven online, went to meet her prior to my beach trip, and was immediately smitten. Once they put her in my arms, she started purring, and buried her nose in my elbow, I was a goner.

Hubby and I brought her home before our trip, but I made sure she had everything she needed while we were away.

I’m pleased to say she’s settled in just fine, passed her vet check with flying colors and has pretty much taken control of the house. Yeah, she rules my world.

Check out these photos of her lounging on my desk, and playing on her climbing tree. She has boatloads of energy, but she will curl up for an hour or three on my desk when I’m composing. Otherwise, it’s racing through the house in the morning and demanding play time at night.

Cute black cat lying in a circular bed on top of desk beside a computer screenClose up of a cute black cat in a circular bed
cute black cat on a indoor climbing pet tree with a small ladder at the bottom and tiers for laying at the topShe also has a fun pink “cube” that my cousin picked up for her. She absolutely loves the thing and uses it as play-time central. It’s springy, so she can crush it in all kinds of shapes (see second photo), zip in and out, and roll around like a tumbleweed (which she does frequently). Whoever invented this thing deserves his own private island–which I’m sure he has from profits.It’s quickly become her favorite toy, next to her Jackson Galaxy feather wand (not pictured) and her pink feather ball (that’s what she’s clutching in the cube).

A flexible pink cube cat toy with a black cat insideA flexible pink cat cube toy with a cute black cat lying on its side

Raven loves to be held, loves to snuggle (especially at night) and has boundless amounts of energy. When I took her to the vet, rather than hide timidly in her carrier she immediately hopped out, explored the whole room, then promptly plopped down and started grooming herself like she hadn’t a care in the world. She was found in a town not far from where I live called Steelton. Around here we say people are “Steelton tough” and I think she inherited some of that toughness despite the sweet exterior.

Given it’s October, and she looks like a Halloween cat, I thought would be the perfect time to introduce her. I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of Raven on my blog now and again. Now I just have to explain the Mothman to her 🙂