Writers & The Animals They Love: Heather Weidner, Debbie De Louise, Jeanne Adams, K. B. Inglee, Judy Penz Sheluk, Sheri Levy, Teresa Inge, Jayne Ormerod, Maggie King, and Cherie O'Boyle
Author: Debbie DeLouise
Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, International Thriller Writers, Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her Cobble Cove mystery series published by Solstice Publishing includes A Stone's Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks. Debbie has also written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres and a romantic comedy novella, When Jack Trumps Ace. She is also the author of two standalone novels; Reason to Die, a mystery, and Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance. Her psychological mystery, Sea Scope, is currently on pre-order and is due to be published in May 2019. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and 3 cats.
When I learned that today, August 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day, I thought of my one-year-old cat, Harry, whom I adopted last October along with his sister, Hermione, who is a dilute calico.
Harry and Hermione already came with their monikers when I adopted them from the Shabby Tabby Cat Cafe. They were originally at the Golden Paw Society rescue in Huntington, Long Island. My teenage daughter immediately gravitated toward the 3-month-old Harry because she’d always wanted a black cat. I’d had a few over my many years of cat ownership, but I hadn’t had one in a long time. Harry and Hermione were an inseparable pair, so we adopted both of them.
Harry was a shy but active kitten. He cried when he was separated from his sister and seemed to rely on her. As he grew, he became more confident, friendly, very sweet, and lovable. I hear that black cats have that type of temperament. Handsome Harry is definitely no exception.
There are some people who don’t agree that black cats make good pets and that’s why they’re less likely to be adopted. Part of the reason is that old superstition about black cats bringing bad luck if they cross your path. However, there are countries where black cats are actually believed to bring good luck. If you hear a black cat sneeze in Italy, it is believed that you’re in for a streak of good luck. Black cats are a symbol of good luck in Japan. If someone in Japan sees a black cat crossing their path, they say ‘Konichiwa’ and take control of their own luck. In Britain and Ireland, it’s also lucky to see a black cat.
Black Cat Appreciation Day seeks to inform the public about these special cats who were given bad raps as witches’ familiars and bad-luck bearers. On my other blog, Sneaky the Library Cat, hosted by the character cat in my Cobble Cove mysteries, I posted videos about Black Cat Appreciation Day and my Harry playing with his toys. You can view that post and the videos here.
I’m glad that I adopted a black cat. Harry aka Handsome Harry, aka Harold is a wonderful addition to our pet family that now consists of three cats, Stripey, Harry, and Hermione.
I attended the Cat Writer’s Association’s 25th anniversary conference in St. Louis this past May. The conference took place at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch which was literally steps away from the famous landmark. CWA is an association for authors, illustrators, photographers, and others who produce work featuring felines. They host a contest with a variety of prizes and awards and hold an annual conference in different locations. I received a Certificate of Excellence for my cozy mystery, Love on the Rocks, in the category of mystery fiction books.
For a recap of the conference and my experience in St. Louis, read my blog post here. My cat Harry also “wrote” a post on my character cat’s blog about the cats who attended the conference. You can see all the cute cat photos and read that post here.
Besides the great donations aka “swag” that I brought home for my kitties along with all the information I gathered from the workshops and sessions, it was wonderful meeting other cat lovers and writers. It was also lots of fun wearing cat ears and clothing. The highlight of the conference was participating on the “Communicating, Capitalizing, and Connecting in a Fictional World” panel with three other cat fiction authors.
For those who might be interested in joining the Cat Writers’ Association, check out the website for information and an application.
It’s spring here on Long Island, and my cats have been bursting with energy, especially my eight-month old kittens, Harry and Hermione. My ten-year old, Stripey, is also more active than usual. As indoor pets, they are spending more time looking out at the birds and other signs of spring outside our windows. They are also getting into more mischief around the house.
Harry has been stretching his legs by jumping on top of our kitchen counters. This has resulted in his knocking down some pans that make loud noises and have him scurrying from the scene of the crime.
Hermione has taken to shredding paper towels and turning off the power button on my computer.
I’m constantly scouting my house for potential dangers for our two kittens, Harry and Hermione. They’re nearly six-months old and have been with us for three months since we adopted them from a shelter. In human years, they would probably be teenagers, but they act more like toddlers. They put everything in their mouths, so I try to keep the floors and carpets as spotless as possible. I check that there aren’t any exposed wires that they can chew on (no easy task in a household where computer devices are used daily). I block any area they can climb behind, under, or over where they might become stuck or hurt. I hide their toys when I’m not around if the toys have feathers or other dangerous parts they can ingest.
It’s a tough task but kitten proofing a home is similar to childproofing one, something I haven’t done since my daughter was a baby 14 years ago. Like young children, kittens love to play and explore. They don’t understand the word “no,” or what will happen if they touch a hot or sharp object. And as in a recent close call with Harry and my husband’s mobility scooter, they can’t comprehend why it’s unsafe to walk behind something that’s moving.
Just like kids, kittens need to experience certain things to learn what’s safe and what isn’t, although you pray that they do so without getting harmed. A terrible story was posted on Facebook about a kitty that got into a food bin that automatically locked, sealing her in without air. My Harry was more fortunate when he nearly got stuck under the wheel of my husband’s mobility scooter and escaped with only a bad scare. His sister was present when it happened and heard his yowl. She got a scare, too. Now, when both kittens even catch a glimpse of my husband’s scooter, they run for the hills. He still has to watch that they aren’t behind him, but they are less likely to get in the way again.
Here are a few articles about kitten proofing for those with new fur babies:
An odd series of events led me to my present status as caregiver to a fish, a cat, and two kittens. There were always cats and dogs in my childhood home because my parents were animal lovers. When I got married, I lived in a small apartment so could only have one cat. I adopted a kitten that I called Floppy. I had him for fifteen years during which time we moved into a house and also took in another cat. After both cats passed away, while my daughter was still young, we adopted Stripey, a male tabby, whom we still have. He is now ten years old. When he was five, we also added Oliver, the Siamese that belonged to my mother for twelve years before she became too ill to care for him. It took a while and, although the two cats never became buddies, they worked out their differences and had no problem spending time together.
When Oliver passed away last year, Stripey became an only cat again. My fourteen-year-old daughter had become very close to Oliver and wanted another cat to replace him. She said she’d love to have a black cat. It took a year, but my husband finally agreed for us to have two cats again. We’d visited a cat café that had just opened in our area, and she had fallen in love with an orange and white kitten named Ringo. Unfortunately, someone else had already completed an adoption application for Ringo. We promised Holly that we would find another cat for her.
Meanwhile, she brought home a goldfish that she’d won at a homecoming event. We’d had fish in that period after Floppy died and we hadn’t yet gotten Stripey. None of the fish had survived very long except one that she’d called Rocket after a character in the Little Einsteins, her favorite show at the time. Although we’d never had much luck with fish, I helped her set up our old tank. Unfortunately, the fish she’d named Kirishima met the same fate a week later. We buried it at sea, and I thought we were done with fish, but she wanted to replace it. I talked to some aquarium enthusiasts and did some research. I discovered that the easiest and hardiest fish was the Betta, or Fighting Fish. We were preparing to shop for one when fate found one for us. I was at a craft and vendor fair with my books when I saw a woman across from my table selling pretty vases. It turned out that the vases contained betta fish. Talk about a coincidence. How could I not get one? I still have that fish who I call Betta Blue for his color. I’ve been in contact with the woman who sold him to us and have followed her instructions for his care.
Fate stepped in again when I brought my daughter back a month later to The Shabby Tabby Café a few days before her birthday because there was a fall fair in town. She spotted a black kitten immediately. When we asked if he was already claimed, we found out he wasn’t. However, he couldn’t be separated from his sister. When I saw his sister, I couldn’t believe that she was a calico — just like the kitten I’d recently written about in Love on the Rocks, the 4th book of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series, and also the type of cat I always wanted. Although I knew my husband wouldn’t be thrilled about having three cats in the house, it seemed like it was meant to be. Because I had a few days off from work later the next week, we arranged to pick the kittens up the night before my time off. It just happened to be my daughter’s birthday, and I think it was the best gift she received.
We’ve had Harry and Hermione for two weeks now, and they are absolute joys. It’s so much fun watching them play and seeing how smart and sweet they both are. They have different personalities. Hermione is very affectionate and curious. Harry is quieter and calmer. Stripey doesn’t yet know what to make of them, but we’re hoping to get them together soon. We’ll definitely keep Betta Blue out of their way, though.
For my first post on Pens, Paws, and Claws, I thought I’d share the story of the library cat character in my cozy Cobble Cove cozy mystery series. However, Sneaky wanted to tell his story himself. Since Sneaky has his own blog where he interviews other pet characters and author’s pets, he has experience writing posts, so I let him try his paw at this one.
Purrs and head bonks to all you readers out there. My name is Sneaky, and I’m one of the most important characters in the Cobble Cove mystery series by Debbie De Louise. After reading the books, you’ll see what I mean. Although I don’t talk in the series except in cat language, I often help Debbie’s main lady, Alicia, solve clues to a mystery. In my upcoming book, the 4th of the series, Love on the Rocks, I actually help prevent a murder, but I won’t give that away because the book is only in the editing stages right now. Instead, I will tell you how I came to be the Cobble Cove library cat and then add some de-“tails” about the first 3 books in which I appear.
When Debbie wrote our first book, A Stone’s Throw, she didn’t envision it as a cozy book. She thought it fell under romantic suspense because of the love story that was featured. However, our readers knew better. They knew that the small town of Cobble Cove with its quirky characters and, of claws, me, would appeal to cozy mystery fans. Also, I and the other characters “purr”suaded Debbie to write a second book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place. She found another publisher for this book, and they reprinted the first along with the third, Written in Stone, which is my favorite so far because I’m featured on the cover.
Getting back to my story, Debbie had a cat named Oliver. He was older than me, and she lost him this past November to kidney disease. I’m glad I’m a character cat because I can live as long as Debbie keeps writing about me. Oliver was also a Siamese. As Siamese owners know, these cats are extremely handsome, smart, and loving. They’re also quite intuitive. In my first book, I lead Alicia to some letters in the attic of the library that shed light, and a little bit of fur, on secrets in her boyfriend’s father’s past that connect with her husband’s strange death.
Here’s my first scene from that book:
When she entered the storage room, she didn’t see Sneaky, although she thought he might’ve headed there to use his litter box. Cats can be quiet and liked to sleep in the strangest spots, so he could be there in some corner. Mac’s jacket was still draped across the chair by the desk. She laughed recalling the story about what Sneaky had once done to it out of spite, so typical of an angered cat. She sat in the chair and perused the stack of books on the desk. A few were from James Patterson’s “Private” series. She didn’t read too many series and had only read a few of Patterson’s standalone titles. As she was about to choose a book from the pile, she heard scratching in the corner. She jumped. Hopefully, that was Sneaky and not a mouse he hadn’t caught, for this place probably attracted them. She walked cautiously to the corner where she’d heard the noise. It wasn’t coming from the litter box under the window but from the opposite side.
Since the one bulb in the room was dim, she could hardly see in the dark recesses of the room. She wished she had a flashlight. As she approached the area where she heard the noise, she saw a bunch of boxes. She was relieved to see Sneaky scratching the side of one, cardboard pieces scattered at his feet. “Oh, Sneaky,” she said. “You scared me, but you’re only using a box for a scratching post.” The cat, caught in the act, stopped mid-scratch and scampered away through his cat flap. Alicia made a note to speak to John about helping her find a real scratching post for Sneaky, but before she left the room, she went over to the boxes. She figured they contained more books, but when she looked inside the one Sneaky had been scratching, she saw a few papers bundled together with rope. Newspapers? They weren’t that thick. She realized as she picked up the first bundle, they were a stack of letters. She felt uneasy snooping through them and was about to toss them next to the other two stacks in the box when she caught the name on the top envelope, Miss Carol Parsons. Her heart thudded in tempo with the rain. Were these the letters Mac wrote to Peter’s mother all those years ago? If so, how had Mac gotten them back?
I hope you enjoyed that. I’m rather proud of that scene. I think I did a purrfect acting job in it. I’d love to share more excerpts with you, but in consideration of space, I thought I’d just share the link to a booktrailer that contains info about all of Debbie’s mysteries including our books and her standalone thriller, Reason to Die. There’s even a preview of our upcoming 4th book. https://youtu.be/G1FmAW4U-jA
Now that you’ve had an introduction to Debbie’s books and how I got in them, I hope you’ll check out her bio and social media links including her blog and mine. Besides her mysteries, Debbie has also written short stories of different genres, a romance novella, and a paranormal romance. Every story features a cat (and sometimes a dog or other animal). I’m a bit jealous of that, but I understand. I appreciate her allowing me to write this blog and sharing it with all the great readers of Pens, Paws, and Claws.
Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, the Long Island Authors Group, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her novels include the three books of the Cobble Cove cozy mystery series published by Solstice Publishing: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, and Written in Stone. Debbie has also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ace, a standalone mystery, Reason to Die, and has written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. Her latest release, Cloudy Rainbow, is a paranormal romance featuring a virtual world, a clairvoyant, and a cat. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Anthony; daughter Holly; and Cat, Stripey.