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A Spell of Murder: the first Witch Cats of Cambridge mystery, by Clea Simon

Clea Simon’s new cozy paranormal mystery,  A Spell of Murder, is as captivating as a puzzle ball, a satisfying cat mystery in the truest sense.

 “Magic is for felines,” says Clara as she tries to dissuade Becca from becoming embroiled in things beyond her ken, but the young woman doesn’t understand. Alas, Becca is only human, where Clara is a cat!

Clara is one of three feline sisters, descended from the witch cat of Salem, but Becca doesn’t know that. She’d only yielded to a whim when adopting the trio— little did she suspect that the cats had chosen her, taking on her welfare as their covert duty.

Clara, especially, will go to any lengths to keep Becca safe, but when the young woman begins to investigate the murder of a coven member, things get complicated. Can the little calico save her person without giving their secret away?

Murder, magic, and romance abound, but the cats are the stars of this story. Clea has woven a rich tapestry of real and imagined qualities for her feline heroines that cat people will find authentic and humorously familiar.

—Mollie Hunt, author of the Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery series and fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association

I’ve recently had the pleasure of reviewing Clea Simon’s newest book,  A Spell of Murder: a Witch Cats of Cambridge mystery.  A Spell of Murder is the first of the new series which I foresee to be purringly successful. Clea is a cat writer, and what I love about all her cat-themed stories, is the overwhelming presence of the cats. They come alive on the page, as strong as any of her human characters. All too often, a so-called cat mystery will have only a passing cat, a hint of cat, or possibly a cat picturesquely placed on the cover. But in my opinion and that of the Cat Writers’ Association, grandma’s kitty appearing briefly in the third chapter, then vanishing into thin air for the remainder of the book, does not a cat book make. With Clea’s work, there is no such fear. Her cats are front and center, believable and catlike, even though they may work magic now and then.

About Clea Simon:

Clea Simon grew up in New York, before moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts to attend Harvard. She fell in love with the city and lives there still with her husband and their cat, Musetta. Clea is a prize-winning member of the Cat Writers’ Association and the author of the Theda Krakow, Dulcie Schwartz, Pru Marlowe, and Blackie & Care cat mystery series. She also wrote the rock ‘n’ roll noir WORLD ENOUGH and a handful of nonfiction books.

Disclosure: I received an ARC copy of A Spell of Murder in exchange for an honest review.

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Last but not least on my tour of all things cat at Rose City Comic-con are the fans! I wish I’d taken more pictures, because the variation of comic-con clientele wearing cat-themed clothing was beyond my wildest expectations. Some were costumes of cat characters, where others were mash-ups, and still others wore cat print tees, dresses, or leggings, just because cat. Unfortunately I was too busy having fun to get all the shots I could want.

The many incarnations of the Cat Woman character went from authentic to comical.

Artist Abby Denson wore this fashionable black cat print scarf.

This guy had created his own character, Captain Cat!

A Doctor Who mashup tee with, the cat box in place of the police box.

Alien riding a kitten tee on a big guy accompanied by a princess.

A goth, witchy, black cat vest.

If you  missed the previous parts of this blog, THE CATS OF COMIC-CON, here they are:

CATS AT COMIC-CON: Part 1, The Art

CATS AT COMIC-CON: Part 2, Cat Stuff

And yes, I already have my tickets for next year!

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Though I’ve attended my share of Star Trek conventions, it wasn’t  until last year that I  went to my first comic-con. Since I’m not really into comics, graphic novels, or gaming,  I never considered what it could offer me. Then I began to hear about the other element of the comic-cons: celebrity guests. Suddenly I was interested! I love meeting the actors behind the characters I watch on television and in movies. Last year, I went for one day; this year I bought myself a 3-day pass!

What I hadn’t realized until I got into the crowd and began really looking around was how much feline representation there was. In my previous blogpost CATS AT COMIC-CON Part 1: The Art of the Cat, I introduced several cat artists. This is the second installment of my 3-part blog about Rose City Comic-con, we’ll go through the vendors’ room and check out all the cat-themed merch.

  

 The first cat-themed merchandise I came across was Tentacle Kitty, a family of cute little plush toys that combine the head of a kitty and the body of an octopus. I talked to John Merritt, creator of the product, and asked him how such a thing came about. He told me it had begun when he wanted to make his wife something for their wedding anniversary. He combined the two things they each loved the most (besides each other): cats for him, and tentacles, representing her career as a marine biologist, for her.

A start-up tee shirt company I ran into by the name of the Cat Gang had some fun items. Their cat designs are bold and colorful, and come on pins, hats, hoodies, stickers, and without a doubt, tee shirts.

Several vendors who didn’t specialize in cat-themed merchandise still carries their share of cat cell phone cases, sparkly cat ears, cat jewelry, and cat print clothing.

And what would a comic-con be without at least one poster of Cat Woman!

Stay tuned for CATS AT COMIC-CON Part 3: Cat Fans!

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He’s the Cat Rapper, and he lives in my town!

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of interviewing Cat Rapper Moshow for the Katzenworld Cat Blogsite. We talked about his life, his passion for music, and his new collaboration with Arm & Hammer cat litter. It was great fun, and here it is!

Source: IAMMOSHOW, THE CAT RAPPER meets ARM & HAMMER SLIDE

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I can’t believe the week is nearly over! It’s been quite a ride. On Saturday, I had a Cat Café pre-launch party at Another Read Through independent bookstore here in Portland, and all this week, my friends from CWA have been hosting a Cat Café Book Launch Blog Hop. I got to do character interviews with Lynley’s cats, answer interesting questions about Lynley, my books, and my process of writing, as well as tell a bit about my adventures at some real cat cafés.

Here is the blog hop lineup:

Oct. 29th- National Cat Day.
The 1st day of the hop starts with Dusty Rainbolt’s Jeffy Jeffy Bad Boy interviewing Lynley’s oldest cat, Dirty Harry. Old cats have all the secrets!
Dusty Rainbolt’s Universe
http://dustycatwriter.com/nv_dusty/2018/10/29/an-interview-with-the-cat-cafe-senior-dirty-harry/

Oct. 30th: Melissa Lapierre’s cat Mudpie interviews Lynley’s kitties, all 8 of them! (Little, Lynley’s favorite feline sleuth, is the spokes-cat)
Blogger, Mochas, Mysteries and Meows
https://www.mochasmysteriesmeows.com/2018/10/mudpie-interviewslittle-from-mollie.html

Oct 31: Why Cat Café? Patricia Fry wants to know.
Catscapades
https://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades/?p=3043

Nov. 1: Fun Questions with Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC
https://amyshojai.com
https://amyshojai.com/mollie-hunt-crazy-cat-lady/

Nov. 2: Kathleen S. Mueller reviews Cat Café, and we chat about writing, muses, and old photographs from secret boxes in the attic.
Traveling Dog Lady
www.travelingdoglady.blogspot.com

There may be only one day of the hop to go, but the blogposts will be around forever because such is the nature of the internet, and you’ll be sure to find other cool stuff on these cat bloggers’ sites.

It’s so exciting to put out a new book! Find out more or buy Cat Café here:

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Coming soon! Cat Café, a new Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery by Mollie Hunt 

A body is discovered on the floor of the cat café, and all the black cats are missing! 

The 5th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery finds sixty-something cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon confronted by the murders of some very senior citizens, including Bea Landrew, the elderly owner of the Blue Cat café, a schoolmate and friend of her mom Carol. Could Carol could be next on this deviant killer’s list?

Cat Café has lots of twists and turns before the killer is finally revealed. The story also highlights many exciting subjects along the way. They all fit somewhere— can you guess where?

A cat circus? But cats don’t do tricks…

Oh, yes they do! Ask anyone who has seen Samantha Martin and her amazing Acro-cats. I got to attend their show when they came to Portland, and even helped with some of the backstage cat handling.  The cats are amazing; Samantha is amazing! I suppose that’s why they are called the amazing Acro-Cats!

What’s even more amazing is that all Samantha’s cats are rescues, and all her training is done through positive reinforcement (kitty treats). If a cat doesn’t feel like doing a trick, so be it. If kitty wants to leave the stage and visit with the audience— it happens! They are, after all, cats, and Samantha expects nothing less from them.

 

I wanted to reproduce that sense of amazement and wonder in Cat Café, so I introduced the Fantasti-cats, who are loosely based on the Acro-cats feline troupe and their cat lady extraordinaire. It’s the grand opening of the Blue Cat café, and the new owner intends to begin with a bang. Lynley and her shelter friend Frannie look on,  wowed by the performance:

…In honor of the occasion, I’ve arranged for some novel entertainment…”

“You mean that smack-down with the hippie wasn’t the show?” someone called jovially.

His face reddened ever so slightly, but he didn’t miss a beat. “What kind of cat café entertainment would it be without cats?” he cracked, skewering the heckler with a green-eyed stare before returning to his audience. “And cats are what we have for you today. If everyone will move away from the center of the room, we can get ready for our show…” He smiled out toward the rabble rouser. “Our genuine show. May I present to you, Gretchel and her famous Fantasti-cats!”

With an expansive gesture, he welcomed a tall lady wearing a treasure trove of pink circus spangles into the spotlight.

While Gretchel gave a brief history of her act—how she got started; how all her cats were rescues; how she trained them to do the amazing things they did—a crew of costumed helpers quickly exchanged the café cats for her own clowder. A young girl in an angel outfit came and relieved us of Romeo, promising she would return him at the end of the performance.

As they began setting up hoops, ladders, and even a tiny bandstand, the audience murmured in anticipation.

“I’ve heard of the Fantasti-cats before but never seen them perform,” Frannie whispered with a giggle of delight. “This is so exciting.”

* * *

The Fantasti-cats were, well, nothing short of fantastic. As someone who has barely mastered teaching her cats to come when called, I more than respected what Gretchel had done with her clowder. In a tattoo of clicks, a flurry of wands, and a shower of yummy treats, she and her assistants had the cats jumping, climbing, and even walking a high wire. For the finale, four of them played a racket of instruments: a set of drums, a small guitar, a tambourine, and a bell on a stick to which the audience delightfully echoed Gretchel’s cry of More cowbell! As she left the room to a rousing ovation, her cats scampered after like a flock of ducklings behind mom.

Cat Café, Chapter 16- 17

About the Acro-cats: Rock Cats Rescue, and their human staff, are devoted to promoting the mental and physical health benefits of cat training through the use of clicker training…a positive reinforcement based training method.

 We also encourage and support feline fostering, rescue and adoption as we travel across the country performing our entertaining and educational show, with our own troupe of former orphans, rescues and strays…The Acro Cats!

 The purr-forming purr-sonalities have as much fun as their audience with obvious content with their lime-light status as they demonstrate astounding feats of agility so synonymous with their species. On Samantha’s cue, they perform tricks with various hoops, tumblers, skateboards, hoisting flags, reading signs, even rolling balls over parallel ropes! This amazing spectacle also includes performing mice, rats and even a cat vs chicken bowling show-down!

—The Amazing Acro-cats website

Samantha is currently undergoing treatment and recovery for Cancer. More information about this can be found on her go fund me pagehttp://www.circuscats.com/

Launch date for Cat Café, the 5th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery is October 29th, National Cat Day. Pre-order your copy now!

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Coming soon! Cat Café, a new Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery by Mollie Hunt 

A body is discovered on the floor of the cat café, and all the black cats are missing! 

The 5th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery finds sixty-something cat shelter volunteer Lynley Cannon confronted by the murders of some very senior citizens, including Bea Landrew, the elderly owner of the Blue Cat café, a schoolmate and friend of her mom Carol. Could Carol could be next on this deviant killer’s list?

Cat Café has lots of twists and turns before the killer is finally revealed. The story also highlights many exciting subjects along the way. They all fit somewhere— can you guess where?

Feral cats and the FCCO (Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon*) 

There are of course, many cats in this story, and not just Lynley’s own clowder of eight. There are feral cats and acrobatic cats, black cats and cat café cats.  I thought it would be fun to look a little closer at some of these supporting roles.

In Cat Café, Lynley goes on her first feral trapping adventure. Though Lynley’s all about cats, she has never been on a feral cat outing, and now she gets her chance. Her friend Special Agent Denny Paris takes her to a feral colony in Molalla where she learns the process of Trap-Neuter-Return* from the colony’s FCC (Feral Cat Coalition) caretakers.  To her surprise, one of the long-time volunteers, old Melv who helped found the coalition, went to school with Bea and Lynley’s mom back in the 1950’s. Could he be in danger too?

Though my FCC is fictitious, the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon is not. FCCO does tremendous good for the lives of feral cats by altering them and returning them to cared-for colonies where they can live out their wild lives in peace.

You may not know that FCCO is partnered with the Audubon Society of Portland, Multnomah County Animal Services, and Washington County Animal Services. “We are working together to make our communities more safe for cats and wildlife. Our message is: Cats Safe at Home.”

*About FCCO:  The mission of the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon is to improve the welfare and reduce the population of feral and stray cats through spay/neuter programs and education.  “We are a non-profit spay/neuter program that was founded in 1995. We have helped more than 90,000 cats and remain the only organization in the area dedicated to providing the level of services that we do for feral and stray cats.”

*About TNR (Trap-neuter-return): Trap–neuter–return is a type of program through which free-roaming cats are trapped, spayed and neutered, then returned to the outdoor locations where they were found.

—Wikipedia

Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane and effective approach for stray and feral cats. Now in practice for decades in the US after being proven in Europe, scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.

Trap-Neuter-Return is successfully practiced in hundreds of communities and in every landscape and setting. It is exactly what it sounds like: Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are returned to their home—their colony—outdoors. Kittens and cats who are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes.

Grounded in science, TNR stops the breeding cycle of cats and therefore improves their lives while preventing reproduction. It is a fact that the removal and killing of outdoor cats that animal control has been pursuing for decades is never ending and futile. Since feral cats are not adoptable, they are killed in pounds and shelters. With a successful program like Trap-Neuter-Return to turn to, it’s hard to believe that animal control agencies continue to kill cats, even though that approach has shown zero results.

It is time to put an end to catch and kill. Trap-Neuter-Return provides a life-saving, effective solution for these beautiful, independent cats.

Alley Cat Allies

Tomorrow is October 16th, National Feral Cat Day!

Launch date for Cat Café, the 5th Crazy Cat Lady cozy mystery is October 29th, National Cat Day. Pre-order your copy now!

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