About That Cat . . .

CATastrophic Connections Revised Front CoverJoyce author 1 smaller

CATastrophic Connections — A klutzy Kansas City landlady, with the help of a psycho cat, locates her missing niece who is framed for embezzlement and murder, and the two join forces to bring the true evildoer to justice.

Hello, everyone! Please welcome the first guest on my new blog, fellow author Joyce Ann Brown. Joyce was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about her work and writer’s journey. She is the author of a new cozy mystery series involving one clever, or perhaps psycho, cat! Joyce owns rental properties in Kansas City with her husband, but none of their tenants have so far been involved in theft, kidnapping, or murder. Her two cats, Moose and Chloe, are cuddly, not psycho. Besides being a landlady, Joyce has worked as a story teller, a library media specialist, a Realtor, and a freelance writer. Her writing has appeared in local and national publications.

Let’s meet Joyce!

What genre do you write? And Why?
A cozy mystery series is my most recent endeavor. I started my first one during a mystery writing class and was hooked. Writing a mystery is like putting together a puzzle. I love puzzles.
How long have you been writing and how many published works?
I’ve been writing and telling stories for as long as I can remember, but I started writing as a profession only about four or five years ago. At that time I qualified for a pension from my school librarian career and found no job openings because of the recession. I had always wanted to write for a living. When I found out I could make a little money writing feature stories, I began taking creative writing classes. Now, I happily write short stories, articles, and mystery novels. CATastrophic Connections is my first published book, but I haven’t counted how many stories and articles I’ve had published.
Tell us a little about that CAT! What was the source of inspiration? A pet of your own?
I do have two cats, Moose and Chloe, and they have provided basic models of cat behavior and personalities. A friend’s story about how her “psycho cat” saved her from a threatening stranger when she was young became the actual inspiration for Psycho Cat in the series. Since then I’ve heard dozens of crazy cat stories and have incorporated some of them into my books.
Would you call yourself a “cat lady?”
No, I’m not a one of those crazy cat ladies. I like all kinds of animals.
Well, my husband and I do feed the kitties three times a day whenever they “tell” us it’s time. And I won’t disturb Chloe when she sits on my lap in front of the TV in the evenings, even when I really need a snack or I really, really have to go. Also, we bought an expensive fifth wheel RV and a big truck to pull it so we could take our cats with us on vacations.
But I’m not a “cat lady.” Really.
Where do you get your story ideas?
The seeds for my stories, especially for my short stories, come from my own experiences or from stories people have told me.
Is there anyone in particular who has influenced your writing career?
Many teachers encouraged my writing, and I loved reading books by Diane Mott Davidson, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, and Agatha Christie, among others. Those books influenced my interest in the cozy mystery genre.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Lately, I work promoting my writing on social media. Oh, yeah, that’s writing. Otherwise, I read, play tennis, hike Kansas City trails with my walking buddies, read, work on our rental properties (the parts of my books about landlady work are non-fiction), help my 92-year-old mother, attend meetings for all kinds of groups, do volunteer work, travel, read, read, and sometimes cook and clean house.
What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know?
I have a bit of a cat dander allergy.
What’s next on your writing journey?
My second book, FURtive Investigation, another Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery, is being edited. I hope to have it published this spring or summer.

Connect with Joyce at:

http://joyceannbrown.com

Buy CATastrophic Connections: A Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mystery.

Home Alone

quiet streamIt’s the middle of the afternoon. I’ve done my exercising and some housework. I’ve checked my email and social sites, and responded to a few items. The bustle of the morning is over, and it’s quiet. Really quiet. Except for the low hum of the heater, I don’t hear anything.
I’m alone in my empty nest. Unless I have a surprise visitor, which is highly unlikely. I won’t see another person for several more hours. And I’m perfectly all right with that.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see my kids walk through the door. I love weekday lunches out with friends. I’m not entirely anti-social. But I really do enjoy the quiet solitude I have on a regular basis. I like having time to think, to write, to not hurry. It’s not the same quiet as being alone in the woods or the stillness of a fresh snow.  I can see the busy street, squirrels and birds outside the windows, but still, there’s a sense of peacefulness around me.

People are sometimes surprised that I don’t have the television on. Or the stereo. Something in the background at least. Nope. What I don’t need is noise in the background. I like the silence. I missed out on a weekend home alone this year. For the past few years my husband has been a chaperone on a ski trip for our church’s youth. And both kids have been on the trip. Now that the youngest kid is in college, that didn’t happen. It was something that I looked forward to almost as much as they did. It’s funny, my husband will avoid coming home to an empty house. If I’m not going to be home, he’ll dream up errands, or go get a haircut to keep from coming home. Have to say, I really don’t get that.
After years of working and raising kids, keeping my eyes on the calendar, and rushing from one activity to another, it’s nice to slow down a little. It’s kind of amazing how few things I actually have to do. I’ve given up all of the school volunteer activities. Been there. Done that. And done it some more!
My calendar isn’t entirely empty, but as I look at the boxes for the rest of the month, I see a lot of blank space. The squares that are filled in? With the exception of a couple of doctor’s appointments, the things written on my calendar are things I want to do. A wine-tasting event, lunch with a friend, an interview with a librarian, a writer’s group meeting. Fun stuff!
There are, of course, things I miss about former years, and the busy-ness of raising kids. but for the most part, I think I’ve adjusted to the change in my life this year. I’m okay with quiet. I don’t mind a little time alone. It’s kind of nice to hear nothing but my own thoughts!

It’s tea time!

It’s tea for me! Tea is by far my favorite drink, and I consume a rather large quantity of it. As I sit here on a chilly winter evening with my cup of decaf, I thought I’d pass along a few thoughts about . . . tea!
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Right now, my favorite caffeinated morning tea is Tropical Green from Harney & Sons. I have several boxes of this shipped directly to my house every few months. It has a light pineapple flavor to it. I drink a couple of cups of that each morning, particularly on winter mornings. Sometimes I’ll also have an Earl Grey, especially if I’m not at home, because that seems to be one that some hotels and restaurants will offer.
In the afternoon, I usually switch to flavored teas. A couple of favorites are Bigelow’s Lemon Green Tea and Blackberry Sage from the Republic of Tea. The Republic has several good ones, including Mango Ceylon and Ginger Peach. The Blackberry Sage is also good as an iced tea.

Ahhhhhh. Iced tea. Nothing better on a warm summer day. Anyone who dines with me on a regular basis knows that iced tea is not iced tea is not iced tea. Iced tea can be ruined. It can, in fact, suck. It has to be fresh. It has to be brewed. Freshly brewed.  I don’t know where the food industry got the idea that tea can be a fountain drink. No. Sorry. It can’t.
It’s interesting how iced tea can vary across the country. When traveling, finding good iced tea often becomes a quest. And, often, a disappointing one. Truly, there are some states in which it simply isn’t safe to order an iced tea. It’s putrid. One state that gets it is California. Yes, one more thing to like about Sunny California. They know how to make iced tea. Some of the best iced tea I’ve ever had – with flavors of apricot and passion fruit – has been in California.

Because of the difficulty, I always carry tea bags in my purse. I also have a stainless steel thermos that often travels with me on road trips. I’ve actually taken it empty as a carry-on, too, when I know I’ll be traveling by car once I get to my destination, or sitting out in the sun at a tennis match or on the beach. It’s my special thermos and can be used for nothing but tea – ever. Have you ever tried to make tea using a machine that’s been used to make coffee? Then you know what I mean. Ew. Grimace. It tastes like coffee.
A quick note on flavored tea. Flavored tea is made when there are bits of organic flavoring in the loose tea or tea bag. The flavor is released as the tea is brewed. Let me repeat that – as the tea is brewed. Flavor is not a syrup that is poured into a cup of tea. Ugh.
My very favorite tea for making iced tea was introduced to me several years ago in Colorado. It’s called Tropicana from Xanadu. I used to be able to get individual tea bags, but for the last few years, it’s only been available as loose leaf. A bit of a pain. But, in this case, totally worth it. Yes, it appears that I am, in fact, a tea snob. 🙂
So now you know why the characters (the women, anyway) in my stories tend to prefer tea to pop or coffee!

99-cent Sale!!

HappyPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00031] Friday, everyone! In celebration of the launch of book two in my Women of Whitfield series, I’ve reduced the price on book one to 99 cents!
You can buy a digital copy of The Storm Within at Amazon this weekend for just a buck. Download, curl up with your favorite beverage, and start getting to know these longtime friends!
Laughter, drama, suspense and friendship — women’s fiction at its best!
Enjoy!

Click here to Buy!

Spring and summer will bloom again!

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P1030777Well, I’ve survived the first full week of January. Whew. Winter is half over. Yay, yay, yay. I really, seriously hate winter. The cold, the travel issues, the dirt and snow mess. Ugh. This morning there’s a light dusting of the white stuff on the driveway, and pretty much no chance of it melting today. Driveway on the north side of a house. Not a good idea.

But as I look out at the leafless trees and brown grass, I remind myself, that this, too, shall pass. It always does. And one of these days, the view will improve, and the yard will look like this again! 🙂

Stay warm and safe out there!

 

Launch Party!!

P1040503Today’s the day!
Hello, everyone! So excited to share the big news — Second Wind is now available in both digital and paperback formats! It’s book two in my Women of Whitfield series about a group of longtime friends and their lives in a small, fictional town in Kansas. There’s a big dose of friendship, some drama, a little family angst, and a dash of romance — women’s fiction at its best!
I’m celebrating the release on my Facebook Author Page. Be sure to stop by for excerpts, info and giveaways! The more you like/comment/share, the better your chances of winning a copy of the book!
(click on the link to the right)

Here’s the cover blurb:
When a devastating tornado rips through the small town of Whitfield, Dana Gerard’s home is reduced to rubble and her well-ordered life to chaos. In the wake of the disaster, she finds herself in financial straits and confronted by challenges that test her limits.

With support from longtime friends, Dana begins the daunting task of rebuilding, but that’s not her only worry, and may be the least of her concerns. Change greets her from all directions – at work and within her own family. At a crossroads, Dana is forced to see her life with a new vision and to trust the one person she’s determined to push away.

Click here to purchase your copy of Second Wind!