Thursday, August 28, 2014

Truffles Interviews...Sexy Beast from Pamela Burford's Undertaking Irene

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today I'm interviewing Sexy Beast, the poodle star of Undertaking Irene, the first Jane Delaney Mystery by Pamela Burford. I hope you enjoy it!

Welcome, Sexy Beast! Thank you so much for taking the time for a short interview. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with Jane?

Thanks for having me, Truffles! I must warn you, I don’t often sit down for a civilized chat with a cat, so if I forget myself and start barking like crazy, just hiss and give me a good swat on the snout and I’ll back off with a whimper. Yeah, I’m not exactly the most alpha dog in the pack. What can I tell you?

I used to live with Irene, but something happened to her and now I’m part of Jane’s pack. She’s helped take care of me since I was a puppy, though, so it’s all good.

You absolutely have to tell us why you are named Sexy Beast!!!

Well, gee, I thought it was obvious heh heh. But seriously, Irene adored movies—she even had a home theater in her big house—and she named all her poodles after films. Before me there was Annie Hall, Dr. Strangelove, and Jaws.

What is a typical day like for you?

Well, when I’m not solving mysteries for Jane, I’m napping, picking through my kibble for the red ones, napping, begging for Vienna sausages, playing with one of my many stuffed toys, napping, licking myself, and napping.

Mommy loves Poodles...what's so special about your breed?

Most humans think poodles are fluffy airheads. That is such an insulting stereotype! I’ll have you know poodles are water retrievers. We have a long and distinguished history helping humans hunt. That’s how that silly haircut got started, the pompoms and all that? Hunters used to trim our coats to keep us from getting snagged by burrs, but they kept us fluffy at the joints for warmth. There. Glad you asked? Of course, I refuse to go outside when it’s raining, but that’s a different story.

Do you like kitties?

Ahem. Well, of course I do! Your breed is noble, self-reliant, um…noble…BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK! [WHACK!] Whoa, thanks, Truffles. Don’t know what got into me [head down, tail between legs].

What is Jane's Death Diva business all about?

To quote Jane: “I do things my paying customers can’t do, don’t want to do, don’t want to be seen doing, can’t bring themselves to do, and/or don’t want it to be known they’d paid someone to do. To dead people.” Like people hire her to scatter ashes, place flowers on graves, steal jewelry from corpses. Oops, did I say that out loud? Forget about that, it’s not important.

What kinds of trouble do you get into in Undertaking Irene?

Trouble? Moi? Why, butter wouldn’t melt in my…All right, if you must know, I’m not always the most cooperative of canine companions. Jane uses the word “neurotic.” I prefer “sensitive.” There was that time in Undertaking Irene that I took off after a rat at what might be called the worst possible moment and the worst possible place. Hey, I’m a hunter, like I said! [pause to lick nether regions] So Jane and her friend Martin (I like Martin. Talk about an alpha male!) get all worked up and go running after me—and right into some very serious trouble. But didn’t I help save the day?

Do you have any idea what your upcoming adventures are going to be?

Well, Jane is the Death Diva, so I have to help rescue her from all sorts of sticky situations. Her next adventure is going to be called Uprooting Ernie, and I have it on good authority that Jane just might come upon something shocking in the town cemetery. But that’s all I’m authorized to tell you [curls up and starts snoring].

Synopsis: Jane Delaney does things her paying customers can’t do, don’t want to do, don’t want to be seen doing, can’t bring themselves to do, and/or don’t want it to be known they’d paid someone to do. To dead people. Life gets complicated for Jane and her Death Diva business when she’s hired to liberate a gaudy mermaid brooch from the corpse during a wake. Well, a girl’s got to make a living, and this assignment pays better than scattering ashes, placing flowers on graves, or bawling her eyes out as a hired mourner. Unfortunately for Jane, someone else is just as eager to get his hands on that brooch, and he’s even sneakier than she is. Just when she thinks her biggest problem is grand theft mermaid, things take a murderous turn. But hey, when you’ve teamed up with a neurotic seven-pound poodle named Sexy Beast, how can you lose?

About the Author: Pamela Burford is the best-selling author of 15 works of mystery, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. She has received four RITA and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award nominations and is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences and workshops. Her books have sold millions of copies, received outstanding reviews, and been translated into more than a dozen languages. Pamela is the founder and past president of Long Island Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. Fun fact: her twin sister Patricia Ryan, a.k.a. P.B. Ryan, is also a published novelist

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Honoring Those We've Lost

Thanks to long expiration dates on pet food, when Tara passed away last summer I bagged up and set aside her leftover cans of food with the intention of keeping it for the next kitty. Then Truffles came along and a couple things went wrong:

1) Tara was an adventurous eater who enjoyed a wide variety of brands and flavors; with the rare exception, Truffles only eats Fancy Feast.

2) Tara loved fish; Truffles' tummy is extremely sensitive to fish and prefers chicken, turkey, and beef.

So the bag of food sat there. For 14 months. As silly as it seems, I could not let go of that food. It was Tara's. Finally a light bulb went off in my head and I realized that Tara would want that food to be in the tummies of kitties in need.

So last Wednesday, on Truffles' Gotcha Day, I donated all of this food to the shelter that I adopted both Tara and Truffles from, in Tara's honor. The shelter is currently over capacity so I am very happy that I was able to do this.

Last week the cat blogosphere shed a bucket load of tears over the sudden passing of Sparkle the Designer Cat. This Friday, August 29th, Sparkle's human is having a Memorial Service at her blog. (I have never seen this done and think it is absolutely incredible.)

A commentathon will be held, with $1 for each comment being donated to Tabby's Place, up to $500. In lieu of flowers, you may also make your own donation in Sparkle's honor to Tabby's Place. Sparkle's work to help cats in need is continuing even though she is no longer physically with us. Please spread the word so we can help to make this one of the largest donations Tabby's Place has ever seen!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#GetHealthyHappy with Annual Vet Visits

I am so excited to be partnering with Hill’s® Science Diet® on their "Healthier Pets. Happier Lives." campaign. Over the next several weeks I'm going to be sharing information with you on the importance of preventative care and how, together, we can make pets healthier and happier to help everyone love their pets longer.

This is sort of a personal question, but do you visit your doctor for a yearly checkup? Do you think it would ever be wise to wait 5 years in between checkups? (I'm going to plead the 5th here...I freely admit that I take better care of my pets than I do myself.)

Now, do you take your pet to the veterinarian for a yearly checkup? Did you know that since pets age faster, missing one annual vet visit would be like a human going 5 years between checkups?

When our pets are young and healthy, visiting the vet might not be something we put at the top of our "To Do" list. I think for cat owners especially it's particularly easy to put on the back burner because it's such a hassle to get our little furry homebodies into the car and then brace ourselves as they sing the song of their people (loudly) all the way to the vet's office. (Click here for some helpful tips on taking your cat to the veterinarian.) Still, consistent vet checkups are vital for your pets to keep them healthy and happy for life.

Here are 3 reasons why:

1) Annual vet visits can help vets head off many conditions before they start and ensure your pets have received all the vaccinations and treatments they need.

2) Checkups also allow your vet to get to know your pets, making it easier to detect any changes in their health and behavior. Cats are notorious for masking signs of illness, so a vet's trained eye is needed.

3) Early detection of health issues means more effective and potentially less costly treatments. But many pet parents wait until their pet is sick before going to the vet, which means more expensive and complicated procedures compared to routine visits.

The American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owner Survey for 2013-14 found that emergency and illness vet visits can be $50-$200 more expensive than a routine visit. Even so, 26 percent of dog owners and 17 percent of cat owners reported they only took their pets to the vet when the pets were sick. In fact, 28 percent of cat owners hadn’t taken their pets to the vet in the past 12 months.

I know from personal experience with Tara, who had both routine care and many emergency visits, that the price difference is astronomical!

Dr. Ashley Gallagher, vet at the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington D.C., explains more easy ways to keep your pet healthy and happy in the following video, and on her blog:

We all want to have as much time with our furry best friends as possible. I'm always telling Truffles that we are going to celebrate my 50th birthday 13 years! With proper nutrition and preventative care, I am very confident that we will have many wonderful years together.

To help everyone enjoy the benefits of annual checkups, Hill’s Science Diet will be giving away a $100 toward a vet checkup, every day for 90 days! Simply go to and fill out the short form with your information and you will be entered for a chance to win.

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Science Diet® Healthier Pets. Happier Lives.™, but Mochas, Mysteries and Meows only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Sex, Lies, and Snickerdoodles Book Tour with Wendy Delaney: Guest Author & Giveaway

Sex, Lies, and Snickerdoodles

Careful, or You’ll End up in My Novel
Wendy Delaney, author of Sex, Lies, and Snickerdoodles

Much like a running gag used in movies and books, Careful, or You’ll End up in My Novel is a line I’ve seen a lot over the years, especially on merchandise geared for writers. Yes, for those of us who have seen or heard this a bazillion times, the line/gag is a little tired. But that doesn’t make it any less true because everything—and I do mean everything—I see and hear is fair game when it comes to fictional fodder.  

Since I set my Working Stiffs Mystery series in a small port town near Seattle (where I live), I frequently borrow from news stories and regional events. In fact, a 60 Minutes segment featuring a doctor who had been murdering his elderly patients inspired me to write Trudy, Madly, Deeply, book one in my cozy mystery series. As I was developing the characters for that book, a television commercial featuring Sunny Sixkiller, a well known local athlete, interrupted my thoughts. Good thing it did because on that day my series detective, Steve Sixkiller, was born, and oh did his character come to life the moment I was able to infuse a bit of danger into his moniker! 

Like a lot of writers I draw on personal experience, especially when crafting scenes between family members. I remember the look my father used to give me when I behaved as something less than the perfect child. Didn’t we all get that parental gaze at least once in our youth? My dad was a big, strong former Navy man who walked with attitude and had a voice you could hear in the next county. When the time came to putting a voice to the older character who would dispense some not-so-subtle fatherly advice to Charmaine (my sleuth), it seemed only fitting that her great-uncle Duke should sound a lot like my dad. Since Alice, Duke’s wife, is based on my pie-baking spit fire of a granny, I’m usually smiling when I write their scenes. I’m also often hungry for pie!

Some of the favorite scenes I’ve written are between Steve and Charmaine. They’ve grown up together, so in many ways they are like an old married couple. Steve’s probably a blend of every guy I’ve ever known, but he’s also heavily influenced by the main guy in my life: my husband. Every once in a while, my hubby will say something that turns on the light bulb in my writer’s brain and I reach for pen and paper to record that idea or turn of phrase. I’ll usually get the “What?” reaction and then he’ll shake his head with the realization that in some form or fashion, he’s going to make an appearance in my novel. Again.

Yes, any interesting bits I come across in my daily wanderings can work their way into my novel. I’ve borrowed snippets of dialogue from strangers in line at Starbucks, grocery clerks, feisty senior citizens (who I love!), dinner guests, friends, and relatives. Truly, everyone with a voice and something to say is fair game. So are their names. Case in point, one of the guys I used to work with met his demise in Sex, Lies, and Snickerdoodles. Sorry, Russell, but you gave your name to a good cause.

There’s one recurring character who spoke very loudly with his actions, not his words: Myron, Gram’s fat, orange tabby cat. When I decided that Char’s grandmother needed a pet, I didn’t want a stranger from central casting. I already knew the perfect cat—Myron, my sister-in-law’s fat cat who always made himself at home on the freshly folded clothes, the tubby tabby who would steal my seat the second I vacated it. So, no matter that Myron is now purring in Cat Heaven, as long as Char is sleeping in a bed at her grandmother’s house, Myron will be at the ready to claim it the second Char’s feet hit the floor.

You’ve been warned, friends, family, and strangers. Most of the time the names are changed to protect the innocent (or guilty), but no one is safe from ending up in my novels. Not even your pets!


About the book: Everybody’s got a secret.

A secret crush. A secret liaison. A secret recipe. And for a deadly few, a secret murder.
Port Merritt’s favorite bad boy, Russell Falco, was a seasoned veteran of secret liaisons. But after his body washes up on the shore of Merritt Bay, Deputy Coroner and human lie detector, Charmaine Digby, suspects one of those liaisons got Russell killed.
Secrets. Lies. Cookie-baking rivals. And a dead guy. Char’s on the case and is determined to find the killer . . . if the killer doesn’t find her first!

About the Author: Wendy Delaney writes fun-filled cozy mysteries and is the author of Sex, Lies & Snickerdoodles, the second book in her Working Stiffs Mystery series. A long-time member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Romance Writers of America, she’s a Food Network addict and pastry chef wannabe. When she’s not killing off story people she can be found on her treadmill, working off the calories from her latest culinary adventure. Wendy makes her home in the Seattle area with her husband and has two grown sons. You can connect with Wendy on Facebook and via her website:

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Remembering Sparkle: Our Shining Star

The collective hearts of the cat blogging community are broken as we say goodbye to our beloved Sparkle. Our hero, our mentor, our greatest champion.

We knew she wasn't doing well and was retiring from her blog, but the suddenness of her passing at only 12 years old has left us stunned and shattered. She was larger than life, and it seems impossible that she is gone. It must be true that the brightest stars burn out the fastest.

Sparkle, we will miss your wit, wisdom, and sass. You were a tireless advocate for homeless cats, and your legacy will live on in all the people you inspired to help make the world a better place for cats. You made a difference in so many lives. You've earned your rest.

To Sparkle's wonderful human, Janiss, we send you gentle purrs of love and comfort. Please know how much your special girl was loved; thank you for sharing her with us.

Our world is a darker place without her in it, but the stars in the sky tonight are shining with an extra sparkle.

Fly free, Sparkle.