Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Children's
Publisher: Whodunit Press
Publication date: October 14, 2015
Number of pages: 223
The Blurb: "Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next big case with the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Agency to be their most difficult yet. It all starts one hot summer day, when the boys are sitting in the front window of their Mom’s antique store.
But it isn’t long before Buckley and Bogey realize there is something very wrong with the whole picture . . . including the one that Steele Bronson is filming. Because it soon becomes very clear that the guy is after much more than just an Academy Award. And when the drama turns to danger for the boys and their family, that’s when Buckley and Bogey jump into the scene. Because this is one case that has it all — from Fourth of July festivities to tales of the American Revolution, and from a secret code to a hidden key! And unless Buckley and Bogey want to see this movie turn into a tragedy, it’ll be up to them to crack the case . . . as well as the secret code . . . Holy Mackerel!"
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It's funny, but I started writing creatively just as soon as I learned to read and write. I wrote my first real "work" in the First Grade, in the mid-1960s. That's when the Charlie Brown specials had come out, and I wrote my own version as a puppet show. Of course, I added a commercial, which I spelled out — using my phonics — as Kamershell. Ha! I still have a copy of this. I made sock puppets and my wonderful teacher let my friends and me perform it in front of the class. I'm sure it was pretty bad, but our teacher was wise enough to just let us do it ourselves and learn from it, rather than taking over and making it perfect.
In later grade school years, I wrote class plays and short stories and on and on. Now, as a grownup, my happiest days are the days I get to spend writing. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. Writing for me is right up there with breathing and eating and sleeping. (Okay, maybe not sleeping so much . . .) It's a necessity, and not an option. I'm sure lots of writers feel the same way.
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
Since humorous mysteries are what I love to read, that’s what I tend to write. I have four books in my Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Capers series, including the one I have on this blog tour now. The first in the series is The Case of the Cat Show Princess, where Buckley and Bogey go undercover at a cat show to save an animal who has been abused by her owner. Buckley enters in the Cutest Family Pet category, while Bogey enters the Agility Competition.
The next in the series is The Case of the Crafty Christmas Crooks, whereby Buckley experiences his first Christmas and fights to uncover some crooks who are trying to ruin the season for everyone. And the third book is The Case of the Jewel Covered Cat Statues, which is loosely my spoof on the Maltese Falcon, done Buckley and Bogey style. But instead of a jeweled bird statue, Buckley and Bogey are in search of a jeweled cat statue. Naturally. (Did you expect anything different?)
I also have two books out from an earlier series, my Daisy Diamond Detective novels. The Mystery of the Missing Ming and The Case of the Rising Star Ruby are middle-grade novels that went along with a series of mystery party games that I created for ‘tween girls. And . . . speaking of games, for twenty years I owned and operated Mysteries by Vincent, where I wrote and sold over forty different murder mystery party game titles. It was a lot of fun, and my games were shipped all over the world. And, I might add, they went to more interesting places than I did!
Plus, sixteen years ago I wrote a grown-up’s mystery novel — Makeover for Murder. This was a spoof on the door-to-door cosmetics industry, and is available on Kindle today. Finally, as a complete departure from what I usually write, I put out a Daily Biblical Devotional book a few years ago, called Cats are Part of His Kingdom, Too. In this book, not only do I chronicle many of my personal experiences with some of my own cats, but I also parallel the love a pet owner has for a cat with the love that God has for his people. Much like we humans work in many behind-the-scenes ways to make the lives of our cats better, God works in behind-the-scenes way for us, in ways that we can't even comprehend.
As for current projects, I’m right in the heart of writing the first book of a new mystery series set in the 1940s. Since I enjoy studying history so much, I especially loved doing all the research for this series!
3. How long does it typically take you to write a book?
This varies greatly, and it really depends on what else I have going on in my life at the time. For instance, when I ran a full-time business, I was somewhat limited on writing time. But typically it takes me about six months to write a Buckley and Bogey book or a middle-grade novel. Grown-up novels are a different ballgame, and can take up to a year to write. I love those times when I can fully immerse myself in a novel and write without interruption. That’s when I can really burn rubber on the keyboard.
4. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in my early thirties. It was a romance novel that made the rounds in New York, but never went anywhere from there. But the truth was, I’m not a romance reader and only wrote a romance novel because someone advised me it was a good way to break into the industry. But I think editors spotted this right off the bat, and no doubt, readers would have, too. It was a good lesson for me, and I’ve learned to be true to my own voice and write the kinds of books that I would like to read.
5. What suggestions would you give potential author to help them become a better writer?
First, I would suggest that you never, ever quit learning, and read everything you can on the craft of writing. Then, I would advise that you keep practicing and write something every single day. It’s so important to keep your little gray cells active and fired up. After that, I would strongly recommend that you guard your gift zealously. That means taking good care of your brain. Make sure you feed it enough healthy food (blueberries are my recommendation), get some aerobic exercise, and stay away from alcohol or any drugs/medications that might impair your thinking ability long term. And last, I would suggest that you be very careful in choosing the people who critique your work. Your grandma or your best friend will probably just tell you what you want to hear, and that nasty neighbor across the street will be critical purely for the sake of being critical. Instead, seek out other writers and authors who know what they’re doing, and seek out people who read your genre. Don’t get offended because someone suggests an improvement, and be sure you get a few opinions before you officially put anything “out there.”
6. How frequently do you hear from your fans?
I get wonderful letters and photos from fans probably on a weekly basis. While my books appeal to both kids and cat lovers of all ages, most of my fan letters come from elementary school kids. And let me tell you, those letters are wonderful. I usually get a nice long story about their own cats who seem to have plenty of adventures themselves. It sometimes amazes me that children see aspects of my books that I didn’t even realize I’d put in there. In fact, one little girl wrote me about the third book in the series, saying how she loved that the final scene took place in a church, because she just knew that God was watching over Buckley and Bogey. And helping to save them from the bad guys. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t even considered that when I wrote it. Some of their comments bring tears to my eyes.
7. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming a writer ever cross your mind?
Ha! As a child, I had so many interests that I had a million different ideas for a career. I remember going through a phase where I wanted to be a private detective and I believe I also wanted to be a fashion designer for a while. I thought being a flight attendant would be pretty fun, but I think by junior high school, I was determined to be a doctor, mostly because I had a fantastic Biology teacher who pushed me in that direction. Later, I believe I thought about being a journalist for a time. In a nutshell, I think I wanted to do it all because so many things interested me! As for writing, I think I always saw it as more of a sideline career, probably because I had never actually met any authors. I honestly never dreamed I’d be doing this fulltime and I feel so incredibly blessed to be doing this!
8. What hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Hobbies are a bit of an issue for me, since I have more hobbies than I’ll ever have time for. I dabble in painting, photography, gardening and interior design. But my absolute faves are art quilting and apparel sewing. I have art quilts all over my house, (and a few other people’s, too) and I’m forever making a new dress or top or jacket. A few years ago, I took a weeklong couture sewing class, and since then I’ve been addicted to sewing evening gowns. (Of course, there is no logical explanation for this — it’s just something that I like to do. Maybe it hails back to my Barbie® days as a kid?) Thankfully, my husband and I take a lot of cruises, so I always get a chance to wear my latest creation on formal night.
So we did. We ran faster and faster and rolled that huge wheel on down our street. And we picked up some good speed, too. Another car headed toward us and quickly pulled over to let us go by. I caught a glimpse of the faces inside that car as we zoomed past. All the people had wide eyes and open mouths.
I guess they weren’t used to seeing cats running by in a gigantic wheel.
Before long, we were coming to the end of our block.
“Time to take another left, kid,” Bogey hollered. “This one’s going to be a little tighter. But we can do it. Let’s hope there aren’t any cars in the intersection.”
I gulped. I hadn’t even thought of that before. But I figured now was probably not the time to start thinking about it. Especially if it only scared me. This just wasn’t the time to get scared. So I just kept on moving and so did the wheel.
I saw the intersection in the very same second that I saw a big, red pickup truck and a mailman’s truck. The truck was turning right and the mailman looked like he was going to go straight.
“This is going to be tight,” Bogey hollered.
Holy Mackerel! He had that right! We had to work our way around the pickup before the mailman had a chance to go through the intersection. And that big truck didn’t exactly leave us a lot of room to turn.
“Okay, kid,” Bogey hollered. “We’ve gotta be precise. When I say lean, I want you to lean.”
“Got it!” I said as I kept on running.
The pickup truck made his turn, and we barely missed sideswiping him by a few inches.
“Now, kid! Now!” Bogey yelled. “Lean!”
So I leaned for all I was worth. And that wheel made a really tight turn. For a second there, I think we even went up on one rim.
“Down, kid. Lean back,” Bogey yelled frantically.
I scooted over, and we missed the mail truck by inches. I could even hear the mailman gasp right before he drove up on someone’s lawn.
Finally, I could see a big, silver car about a quarter of a mile ahead of us. “It’s them!” I yelled to my brother. “I see them! We’re gaining on them!”
And that’s when I accidentally leaned too far in the wrong direction. Because all of a sudden, we zigzagged across to the wrong side of the street.
Right in front of a police car!
It was Officer Phoebe.
She hit the brakes and stared at us with her mouth open.
“Turn back, kid!” Bogey practically screamed. “Get us back on our side of the street!”
I quickly leaned the other way and we zagged back to the other side. But I overdid it on my leaning, and we zigzagged a few more times.
Finally, I got us straightened out.
“Put the coals to it, kid. We can catch them!” Bogey yelled.
Now we heard people calling to us from the sidewalk. We saw kids and grownups and even some grandparents. Some were cheering and some were laughing. A few people were even clapping for us.
In the meantime, Officer Phoebe had turned around and was now following us. She had her lights flashing and her siren screaming.
Suddenly I wished our wheel had come with a rearview mirror.
“Bogey, I think she wants us to pull over,” I hollered to my brother.
“No can do, kid. We’ve got to catch the Count and Countess! Go faster!” Bogey insisted.
“Won’t we get arrested?” I asked.
Bogey picked up speed. “Nope, kid. We’re going to lead Officer Phoebe straight to the crooks. Not only did they kidnap the Princess, but they broke out of jail, too. There’s probably a reward out for them.”
“Okay, whatever you say!” I told him as I picked up speed alongside him.
By now we were getting closer and closer to that silver car. I could see the Princess in the back window. Her big, green eyes went wide when she saw us. I could see her mouth moving and I knew that she had started to meow. I was pretty sure she was probably calling for us.
It made me even more determined to get to her!
But the Count was driving, and I saw him glance into his rearview mirror. That’s when he stepped on the gas. Because suddenly the car started to pull away from us.
“Faster! Faster!” I yelled to my brother. “We can’t lose them!”
March 15: The Power of Words
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March 17: Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance
March 18: Singing Librarian Books
March 19: Deal Sharing Aunt