Sunday, May 31, 2015

Neighborly #SundaySelfies

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today for the Sunday Selfies blog hop my neighbor kitty friend Silky asked if he could paw-ticipate. (We actually don't know his real name, or even where he lives, but Mommy calls him Silky because he's so soft.)

He stops by for a visit every week or so and Mommy thinks he's SO handsome. She says we would make a really cute couple...what do you think?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Caturday Art: Good Luck to Our Friends!

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Tonight is the big BlogPaws 2015 Nose-to-Nose Awards and Mommy and I would like to wish all of our dear blogging friends the very best of luck. You are all winners in our eyes, and we can't wait to see who takes home the trophies!

We'll be watching the live stream tonight from the comfort of our living room and dreaming of possibly one day receiving one of those coveted nominations ourselves :)

Check out more artsy kitties at Athena's Caturday Art blog hop.

Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Things I'll Miss the Most at #BlogPaws 2015

Today I'm hoping you'll all allow me to indulge in a bit of a pity party. Many of my pet blogging friends are currently at BlogPaws 2015 in Nashville and once again Truffles and I must watch from the sidelines. As the sole caregiver for both of my parents who have had major health issues in the past year, travel just is not an option for me right now. This is the third year I have wanted to attend the BlogPaws conference, but for some reason it's hitting me a little harder this year.

So while many bloggers will soon be writing posts about their favorite BlogPaws moments and products, I decided to write about the 5 things I'm missing the most by not being there:

5) Nashville. As a lifelong country music lover, Nashville has always been on my bucket list of places to visit. The opportunity to see Nashville while getting to meet my blogger pals (and their pets all dressed up in their adorable cowboy duds!) would have been priceless.

4) Education. I've been blogging for almost 4 years now but still have so, so much that I want to learn. SEO, photography, monetizing...the list is endless. Two panels/workshops that I would have been first in line for were titled, "CWA Writing Track - Bridging Journalistic Excellence and Blogging" and "Branded Content Workshop: How to Create Authentic Sponsored Posts".

3) Swag. I'm not going to lie...I love free stuff. Truffles loves free stuff. Who doesn't???

2) Meeting with brands. The chance to meet face-to-face with the brands I would love to work with would be a great opportunity. I feel like not attending blogging conferences makes it look like I'm not a serious blogger, and nothing could be further from the truth.

1) Meeting online friends "in the fur". This one tops the list for me. The friends I have met through pet blogging are "my people"...people who view their pet as family. In many ways I feel a greater kinship with them than people I see everyday in my "real life". Even better, many of them are bringing their famous pets!!! I wish there was someplace online to stream Katie and Waffles' Kitty Cocktail Hour.


So what's a girl to do with a brand spanking new media kit and nowhere to go? I'm looking on the bright side. I do everything I can to grow my blog in ways that work for me. I do that with Truffles, my inspiration, by my side. My parents are doing better and for right now, things are good.

And today we're starting a campaign: in 2017 the conference will be back on the east coast, and we have our fingers, toes, and paws crossed for a northeast conference! We want BlogPaws to know that Burlington, Vermont has some really great pet-friendly conference centers, and the weather is just purr-fect this time of year too!!! 

Just sayin'...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

CWA's Purr-Worthy Cat Books

For the past few months I've been writing book reviews for the Cat Writers' Association blog. Today we're sharing a couple of them here so that our regular readers have access to all of our Tortie Shorties reviews :)


From the publisher: In a northern Minnesota mining town, cats have always maintained the Great Purr, a force that holds the Real World, the UnderEarth, and the Spirit World together. But when the Great Purr becomes corrupted and threatens to destroy the world, the magical cats of Ironton must work together to prevent disaster. Can Karma use her exquisite sensitivity without it destroying her? Will Target harness his gift of focus at the right time? And will sensual Kali be able to resist the temptation of the Evil that threatens to unravel The Great Purr?

Tortie Shorties Review: With fantasy not being my typical genre of preference, I was unsure of what to expect when I started reading The Great Purr. I never imagined that I would be so completely drawn into the magical world created by this talented author.

While each character in the book, both human and feline, is unique and vividly portrayed, I had a few favorites. First there is sweet, sensitive Karma, who lost her entire “fur family” as a kitten and then the beloved owner who rescued her just moments before she was to be euthanized. Now she lives with her owner’s son and his wife in a house with great turmoil where she is made to feel unwanted and unloved. There is one particular scene where Karma is trapped in an animal shelter overnight where she remembers her early years that broke my heart. Then there’s the beautiful, three-legged Kali, a “grumpy little cat with the heart of a warrior and a fierce hate of humans.”

Memorable humans include Helen, a woman who experiences powerful grief over the loss of a beloved cat to cancer, and Michael, a tormented man who doesn’t realize the important responsibilities he has.

The entire time I was reading this book I kept thinking what a wonderful movie it would make, and in the end I was left with one burning question: is there going to be a sequel??? I would love to have the opportunity to infiltrate these cats’ lives again.

Purchase Link


From the publisher: Deborah and her beloved cat Ragdoll cat, Mr. Jazz, spent a lifetime together. The bond they shared was special – he was her companion through the best and worst of it all. So when the inevitable happened – the realization he was dying at 15 years of age and she would have to face the painful and difficult decision of helping to let him go, their relationship changed, causing Deborah to learn some invaluable lessons from him about life, love, grieving, and letting go.

Tortie Shorties Review: Every time we bring a new pet into our homes and our hearts, we do so knowing that the day will come when we will have to say goodbye to them. No matter how many years you have together, this always happens much sooner than we are ever ready. One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Irving Townsend: “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.”

As a cat mom who has had to say that final goodbye 5 times now (I know, that is probably a much smaller number than many of you reading this), I have read many books on coping with the loss of a pet. Purr Prints of the Heart by Deborah Barnes is a must-have for any cat lover’s bookshelf.

Yes, there were times this book made me cry my eyes out. Mr. Jazz and my own precious Tara passed away the same summer, 7 weeks apart. They were both sick for a long time and while reading about Mr. Jazz’s final days, I felt like I was reliving my last days with Tara. The similarities were just uncanny.

On the other hand, Purr Prints filled me with an incredible sense of comfort. Mr. Jazz comes across as such a wise old soul, showing us that our beloved cats cherish every single moment of their all too short lives, and we need to remember to do the same. We’re the ones who forget to live in the present, too obsessed with the past and future. We’re the ones afraid to let go. They are so much braver and stronger than we are, and we have so much to learn from them about what living a full life means.

The loss of a pet is one of the most heartbreaking experiences we ever go through. Sadly, it is also a pain that is minimized by much of society. This book shows that there are wonderful people out there who have shared the same journey and understand that we all need to grieve in our own way. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or to feel the need to hide; it is a kinship we all share. But in the end, the years of joy our precious cats bring into our lives makes the heartache worthwhile.

Purchase Link

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Shopping with Truffles

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today we're joining Bacon the Pig and Fozziemum for their fun blog hop called “Shopping Around the World". Each month they post a list of 5 items to price in your area in order to find out what different things cost in various parts of the world.

For May we've been asked to write about our favorite Five Ingredient Salad. Mommy didn't have any trouble with this one. She chose the famous Pistachio Salad (or what some people refer to as Watergate Salad). It's the salad that her mom made for every family gathering when she was a little girl and brings back so many memories for her. It's super simple, yummy, and can easily be changed to suit your tastes.

Here's the ingredient list and what each item cost (Mommy just about always buys the store brand for everything but cat food!)

* 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple $1.19
* 1 (3 ounce) package instant pistachio pudding mix $0.89
* 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed $0.99
* 1 (10.5 ounce) package miniature marshmallows $0.99
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (this is optional...Mommy has actually never put nuts in her salad)

Stir pudding mix, pineapple with juice, marshmallows and nuts in a large bowl until well blended.

Gently stir in whipped topping.

Refrigerate one hour or until ready to serve.

Here's what it looks like, courtesy of

You know what my favorite part of this dessert is? A taste of the Cool Whip!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Truffles Interviews: Toria from Sparkle Abbey's Downton Tabby (w/Giveaway)

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Today I'm chatting with Toria, the feline guest star in Sparkle Abbey's brand new Pampered Pets mystery, Downton Tabby. She's a beautiful Scottish Fold cat, so I took this opportunity to learn more about her breed. I just hope I don't have any trouble understanding Scottish accents...

Truffles: Welcome, Toria! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came into contact with Caro the animal therapist?
Toria: Caro is a great animal therapist and well-liked in the animal community. Although I think we all agree the term "animal therapist" really isn't quite right as it is usually the behavior of the humans that need correction.

You have a very beautiful name...does it have any special meaning?

Thank-you, Truffles. My name does have a special meaning. My full name is Victoria Susie Cash. My human named me Victoria for Queen Victoria who was one of the first royals to take an interest in protecting animals. ​The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed in 1837, and in 1840 Queen Victoria gave permission to add "Royal" to the name. The RSPCA is the oldest and largest animal welfare organizations in the world and is one of the largest charities in the UK.

Do you really have anger management issues or do you just have a misunderstood purr-sonality?

I have no idea what they were talking about with anger management issues. I am very sweet-tempered. There was this small problem with the next door neighbor​, but he completely over-reacted. I was not angry. I was just giving him a wee bit of a warning.

Since this is a mystery series, someone in your life must get murdered. What kinds of trouble do you and Caro get into in Downton Tabby?

Well, I went to the office with Graham Cash, my human, and he had to run back to our house and left me with Caro. I like Caro a lot but I explained to her that I needed to get home for my mid-morning sunning. She seemed to understand but once we got to the house, she left me in the carrier and went out to the patio. Then suddenly the house was filled with medical humans and police humans. I kept asking what was going on, but no one would answer me. They just kept saying, "It's okay, kitty." Finally, I heard them talking with Caro and it seems my human was missing and his partner, Jake, was dead. Poor Jake. Humans don't have nine lives, like we do. ​

Does Caro take you home with her and how does that work out after living in a Tudor-inspired mansion?

Caro did take me home with her and while I truly enjoyed staying with her and her place is quite nice, I'm afraid I was a little homesick. Two other felines, Thelma and Louise, live with Caro and it was nice to hang out with them. However, from what I could overhear when Caro was on the phone, it sounds like my human​ is in a bit of trouble.

Lastly, can you tell us about your breed, the Scottish Fold?

All Scottish Fold cats today can trace their heritage back to Susie, a white cat from Scotland's Tayside region. Susie lived with a farmer and was a good mouser but she had unusual folded ears. A shepherd, William Ross, noticed her in 1961 and when she had kittens, he adopted one of the females and named her Snooks. Snooks had kittens and one of her litter had kittens with a British Shorthair. Soon it was determined that the ear thing was a dominant trait, which meant that if one parent had straight ears and the other folded ears, their kitten would have the folded ears. ​Some people call us "Lop-Eared" cats but I much prefer "Scottish Fold" after my ancestor, Susie, the Scot.

Thanks so much for letting me stop by, Truffles. I'll keep you posted on what happens with my ​human and his problems. We felines have to keep a close eye on things!


From the publisher: Anyone for tea and crumpets...and murder? 

Caro Lamont, amateur sleuth and well-respected animal therapist to Laguna Beach’s pampered pets, works with office mate and tech wizard, Graham Cash, whose beloved Scottish Fold tabby cat, Toria, is purported to have anger management issues. But when Caro drops by the charming Brit’s Tudor-inspired mansion to return Toria, she finds his business partner dead and Cash missing.

Caro is left with the cuddly cat and a lot of unanswered questions. Is Cash the killer, or has he been kidnapped? What’s up with the angry next door neighbor? And what about Cash’s girlfriend, Heidi, who isn't sharing everything she knows with homicide detective Judd Malone?

Suddenly there are more secrets and intrigues than there are titles in England. Add in a stranger in a dark SUV stalking Caro, feisty senior sidekick, Betty, hiding in restaurant shrubbery, and wannabe investigative reporter Callum MacAvoy who seems to be constantly underfoot, and you've got a cat and mouse mystery of the first order.

Caro’s got to solve this murder before the killer lets the cat out of the bag.

About the authors: Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets--Sparkle (Mary Lee's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog). They reside in central Iowa, but if they could write anywhere, you would find them on the beach with their laptops and, depending on the time of day, with either an iced tea or a margarita. Visit them at

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, June 1st for the chance to win your choice of any Sparkle Abbey Pampered Pets book in ebook or print!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

On Memorial Day, Americans place flags on military graves, walk past a wall of black granite in Washington, D.C., and many families think of a face and voice they miss so much. Today, we honor the men and women who have worn the nation's uniform and were last seen on duty. From the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, to the trials of World War, to the struggles that made us a nation, today we recall that liberty is always the achievement of courage.

And today we remember all who have died, all who are still missing and all who mourn. And on this day, especially, our nation is grateful to the brave and fallen defenders of freedom. In every generation of Americans we have found courage equal to the tasks of our country. The farms and small towns and city streets of this land have always produced free citizens who assume the discipline and duty of military life. And time after time, they have proven that the moral force of democracy is mightier than the will and cunning of any tyrant.

Americans like these did not fight for glory, but to fulfill a duty. They did not yearn to be heroes, they yearned to see mom and dad again and to hold their sweethearts and to watch their sons and daughters grow. They wanted the daily miracle of freedom in America, yet they gave all that up and gave life itself for the sake of others.

Their sacrifice was great, but not in vain. All Americans and every free nation on earth can trace their liberty to the white markers of places like Arlington National Cemetery. And may God keep us ever grateful.

President George W. Bush, 5/26/03
(The entire speech can be found here.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tortie T-Shirt #SundaySelfies

As a tortie worshipper I regularly lament the lack of merchandise available featuring the exquisite tortoiseshell cat. So when my friend and fellow tortie fanatic Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat created a limited edition t-shirt featuring her lovely Allegra, I couldn't place my order fast enough.

Technically, this isn't a true selfie because my face isn't in the picture, but my arms weren't long enough to capture both me and the shirt, so I went with the most important part! Guess I need to invest in one of those selfie sticks after all...

(If you haven't already read Ingrid's amazing article, “Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats: Fact or Fiction?, check out the website address on the t-shirt!!!)

I'm entering my "t-shirt selfie" in the Sunday Selfies blog hop hosted by The Cat on My Head.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Caturday Art: Sepia Saturday

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Guess where I'm sitting in this picture...on the toilet! No, I wasn't *doing* anything.

Mommy snapped the picture with her phone because I looked so darned adorable, but then was very disappointed at how grainy it turned out. So we loaded it into PicMonkey and started playing around, and we love how it looks with Sepia tones applied. It really is one of our favorite effects and think it works really well with my tortie colors.

More artsy kitties can be found at Athena's Caturday Art blog hop.

We're also entering today's artwork in Ruckus the Eskie's Sepia Saturday blog hop.

Friday, May 22, 2015 Review: Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted Canned Cat Food

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! For the last couple months Mommy and I have been working on a BlogPaws campaign to let our readers know about the new Hill's Ideal Balance Crafted line. Hill's sent us a bag of their kibble which I have been devouring ever since, so when the canned food was one of's offerings for the May's Blogger Outreach Program, I was super excited to have the chance to try that too.

I chose the Savory Chicken Pot Pie with Buckwheat:

From Chewy:

Ideal Balance Crafted canned foods are made in a new form -- shredded natural chicken in mouthwatering gravy. These thoughtfully sourced, authentic ingredients are combined with nutritional expertise and unique slow cooking process so you can give your cat a delicious, perfectly balanced meal. Hill's prepares the food the way you would, one batch at a time, so you can spend more time making memories with your pet. Made in Small Batches.

Key Benefits
* Keeps your cat healthy & active
* Gluten-free source of energy for an active life, and supports healthy digestion
* Helps keep cat’s eyes sharp and maintain healthy vision
* Helps build muscle for healthy play, and provides a great wholesome taste
* Provides a rich taste and builds muscle for your cat to jump & play longer
* Perfectly Balanced Nutrition
* Made in the USA

My thoughts: While I usually love any new kibble that I get to try, I am *extremely* fussy about canned food. Very rarely will I deviate from my favorite *Fancy* brand food. Plus, it has to be pate...I don't do shredded or chunky. I dove into this food quite enthusiastically when Mommy dished it out, but then *gasp* I detected some very small chunks. (Thought I wouldn't find them, huh? Nothing gets by me!!!) I did end up eating the whole can, leaving behind any and all chunks, of course.

I'm going to give the Crafted canned food 3 out of 4 paws up (the Crafted dry food gets 4 paws WAY up!) Thanks to Chewy generously sending me a case of 24 cans, I'm going to keep some and donate some to my friends at the shelter!

We received a case of food for free in exchange for our fair and honest review as part of the Blogger Outreach Program. All opinions are our own.

Memorial Day Box of Books Giveaway

Memorial Day weekend is known as the unofficial beginning of summer, and to celebrate we've put together a huge giveaway to get your summer reading off to a great start.

Here's the box of 10 books we're giving away (not pictured is an ARC of Wendy Sand Eckel's Murder at Barclay Meadow.)

This giveaway only runs through the weekend, so make sure you enter today! (Because of postage costs, US entries only please.)

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cats Celebrate #RedNose Day Too!

Truffles: Today the inaugural Red Nose Day is being held in the US. Red Nose Day is a campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh. Being the good sport that I am, I decided to participate.

How do I look? Are you red nosing it today?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tara's 8th Gotcha Day

Tara has been gone for almost 2 years now, but I still think of her every single day. 8 years ago today I brought her home for the first time. We didn't have nearly enough time together, but I will always cherish the time that we did have.

In honor of her 8th Gotcha Day I thought it might be fun to share her PetFinder profile. I actually met her "in the fur" at the PetSmart adoption center before I went home and looked her up on PetFinder, which I'm really glad about because I don't think the posted pictures did her justice at all.

Dilute Tortoiseshell Mix

Size: Large
Age: Adult
Gender: Female

Notes: Kelly is a beautiful short haired cat with a sweet personality. As you can see from her pictures, the coloring on her face is half black and half brown and is divided at the nose. She is a pretty big girl who loves to sleep (even in her litter box if it is clean). Kelly would like a home where she has a big bed to curl up on and a person to give her attention. Kelly sleeps through most anything except when another cat goes by her cage, for this she will even get up and tell the other cat to back off. Because of this Kelly needs to be the only cat in the household.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Truffles Interviews: Biscuit from Linda O. Johnston's Bite the Biscuit (w/Review & Giveaway)

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Today I'm interviewing Biscuit, the cute canine star of Linda O. Johnston's brand new book Bite the Biscuit, the first in her Barkery & Biscuits mystery series. Following our little chat is our Tortie Shorties review and your chance to win a copy of the book! Enjoy :)

Welcome, Biscuit! Thank you so much for answering a few questions for us today. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to live with Carrie?

I'm what humans call a mixed breed dog, part toy poodle and part terrier, although to me I'm just me. My fur is gold color and fuzzy. I'm considered a rescue since I met Carrie after I was brought into Mountaintop Rescue in Knobcone Heights, California. I don't really want to get into my life before that, but I love Carrie!

Carrie's Barkery (a homemade dog biscuit bakery) must be heaven on earth for a pup like yourself! Do you get to snack on samples all day?

This Barkery stuff is really fun. Carrie doesn't give me samples all day, but I get a lot, sometimes from her assistants. The treats Carrie came up with taste good so, yes, I could eat them all the time. They're her own recipes, you know--nice and healthy stuff, she says, that she develops as she works at her other career as a vet tech.

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up really early in the morning now with Carrie, since she needs to go to her two shops by around what she calls five o'clock AM so she can bake things to sell in Barkery & Biscuits, for dog stuff, and Icing on the Cake, for people treats. It used to be we didn't have to get up that early when she was only a veterinary technician, and then while she was working I would stay in the doggy daycare facility at her veterinary clinic. I still spend some time there, since she works at the clinic part-time when not at her shops. But despite how early we have to get up and take my first walk of the day I definitely like things now since I get to spend most of my time in the Barkery. Carrie has told me that it's supposedly not sanitary for people for me to go into Icing on the Cake or the kitchens shared by the two shops, but I'm allowed in the Barkery and so are other dogs, so I get visitors a lot during the days. Plus, Carrie takes me on walks from there, sometimes on the town square across the street which smells very interesting, since other dogs walk there, too. Then Carrie closes up the shops early in the evening and we get to go home and have dinner.

What kinds of trouble do you and Carrie get into in Bite the Biscuit?

There are some people in town, Myra and Harris Ethman, who have their own pet shop and give my poor Carrie a hard time for supposedly competing with them. She doesn't really, because her fresh dog treats are a lot different than their packaged dog meals, but they don't want to hear that. They yell at her--and then Myra is found dead with one of our Barkery treats near her. Poor Carrie is accused of killing Myra. I know better, of course, but no one would listen to me even if I could speak English and tell them how good Carrie really is.

Do you help assist Carrie in any way in solving the mystery?

Kind of, but I can't really talk about what I do to help. It might spoil the story.

How do you feel about kitties?

Kitties are okay. I see them mostly at the veterinary clinic now and then but don't get to play with them. And, yes, I do bark sometimes at the ones who live in our neighborhood.

Can you tell us anything about your upcoming adventures?

Carrie tells me there's some kind of mystery involving her brother Neal's new girlfriend whose dog got lost or dognapped or something. I don't know too much about it yet.

From the publisher: Veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly has become known for offering healthy dog treats at the clinic where she works. So when the owner of the local bakery moves away, Carrie jumps at the chance to buy the business and convert half of it into the Barkery, a shop where she can make and sell her canine delights.

But Myra Ethman, co-owner of another pet product store, hates the new competition. At the Barkery's opening party, she badmouths Carrie's homemade dog biscuits, insisting she'll find a way to shut the place down. When Myra is found dead with a Barkery biscuit beside her, Carrie must prove she didn't do it before she's collared for murder.

You can always count on Linda O. Johnston for a great pet cozy, and this first book in the Barkery & Biscuits mystery series is no exception. Protagonist Carrie has purchased the local bakery, Icing on the Cake, from her best friend, and converts the second half of it into a bakery for dogs, a "Barkery". In addition to the dual bake shops she has her plate full also working part-time as a vet tech. At the Barkery's grand opening party, Carrie gets into an argument with Myra, who co-owns a rival pet store with her husband, and then ends up finding herself the prime suspect in a murder when Myra is found strangled with a dog leash and one of Carrie's dog biscuits by her side. Added to that are some strange things going on at Carrie's shops, and soon she begins to think that someone is purposely trying to sabotage her life.

Carrie is a woman after my own heart. She loves animals passionately and is fortunate enough to have two careers that allow her to be around them all day, every day. There is also a great secondary cast of characters from a trio of men competing for Carrie's affections to her pair of employees who don't exactly get along. The killer's identity remained a mystery to me until the very end, and caught me completely off guard.

Two of the most popular themes in cozy mysteries are culinary and pets...this new series is a perfect blend of the two!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Running a Small Rescue & Writing Mysteries: A Guest Blog by Carolyn Haines (w/Giveaway)

Today we are honored to welcome author Carolyn Haines as our guest blogger. Not only is she an award-winning cozy mystery author, but she also runs a small animal rescue in Semmes, Alabama, Good Fortune Farm Refuge. (Sounds like she just *belongs* here, doesn't she?) 

Running a Small Rescue and Writing Mysteries
by Carolyn Haines

I’ve always been animal crazy. Horse obsessed, dog adoring, and proudly serving the superior feline species. The first word I spoke was horse. Growing up, I spent about two months wanting to be a veterinarian until I realized that science, biology, and math were not my friends. I loved reading and writing and animals.

I’ve always taken in strays, and some twenty-five years ago I bought a small farm in south Alabama. You know how it goes. If you have a five-bedroom house, you fill it up with furniture. Same applies to animals. With acreage around me, I simply took in more and more critters.

Finally, I reached the point where I was spending a great deal of my time caring for these animals. A friend suggested that I actually call my home what it was—an animal rescue. I believe the breaking point came when I bought a pregnant mare and her foal off a truck headed to an auction where many, many horses are sold for meat.

Good Fortune Farm Refuge was created.

Stephanie Ryan, Carolyn Haines, Aleta Boudreaux—board members of Good Fortune Farm Refuge—and Sorrow the rescued beagle

Today, I have five horses (the pregnant Quarter Horse mare delivered a filly, and her name is Piper. Her sister is Flicker, and the mom is Cimarron), my thirty-four-year-old Anglo/Arab Mirage, (and yes that is very old for a horse), and Cogar, my Connemara/Thoroughbred cross. Piper is now eleven years old, and it is my intention that this “family” of horses will be together until they die.

I don’t know how many of you have had the pleasure of living with horses on a day-to-day basis, but it is an extraordinary gift. These animals are so intuitive and smart and playful. They are also a lot of physical work, and I’m very lucky to be able to care for them without help. I was out yesterday snipping the heads off thistles, which are trying to invade my pastures. I try not to use any chemicals or pesticides, so maintaining a good crop of grass is labor intensive.

I also have eight dogs—I had nine until I found a lovely home for a young puppy I found wandering in the middle of a highway. Little Lily is in a lovefest in Georgia, and I was thrilled (and heart broken) to let her go. My aim is to find, rehab, and place dogs and cats in loving homes. This is much harder to do than it sounds in an area where spaying and neutering is often not done. More on this in a minute.

Lily the rescued pup finds a new home with Elizabeth

I also have nine cats of my own—and they rule the roost. All nine were feral cats that I trapped, neutered, and tamed. They are loving, wonderful masters. Though I am inferior in all ways, they give me affection and joy. I help feed and neuter two feral colonies in other areas.

Because of my animal love, I’ve included a cast of characters in my mysteries—Pluto the black cat (who thinks Truffles is be-au-ti-ful!), Sweetie Pie Delaney, a red tick hound (I actually have four hounds and an assortment of other types of larger dogs), and Reveler, Lucifer, and Miss Scrapiron, the three horses at Dahlia House.

My books are set on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta, which is very different from the small farm I have. But my character, Sarah Booth Delaney, shares my love for animals and for solving mysteries. Sarah Booth has one thing I don’t have—a ghost. Jitty is the ghost of a slave from the Civil War era, and she is bossy, sassy, and determined to see that Sarah Booth, the last of the Delaneys, produces an heir to pass Dahlia House to.

I love writing the Sarah Booth stories, and I take great satisfaction in caring for all the animals who live with me. The sad truth is that Southern rescues—across the board—are overwhelmed by the number of unwanted cats and dogs. To that end, my friends helped me write a cookbook, BONE-A-FIED DELICIOUS: Recipes from Zinnia’s Finest Chefs. It’s a huge cookbook filled with Southern dishes and written from the perspective of thirteen of the characters from my mysteries.

We’ve raised over $5000 for a spay/neuter program for low-income families. GFFR was also awarded a $5000 Banfield Charitable Trust Fund Grant to pay for basic vet care for animals in low-income families. There is a lot of need in my region, and spay/neuter is the only solution.

A final request—adopt from a local shelter if you have room for a new family member. There are so many animals who want a loving home. You could be the answer.

Carolyn Haines is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries. BONE TO BE WILD, which releases May 19, is the 15th book in the series. She has won the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing and the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence. She is the founder of Good Fortune Farm Refuge and lives on a small farm in Alabama with more animals than she can count. She urges all pet owners to adopt and neuter. You can learn more about her and the rescue at or join her on Facebook and Twitter.


From the publisher: Sarah Booth Delaney is heartbroken: her fiancé Graf Milieu has decided to move to Hollywood permanently, leaving their relationship in shambles. Sarah Booth has a perfect distraction, however, in the form of the Black and Orange Halloween ball her best friends are throwing in New Orleans. Sarah Booth plans to dance the night away to the swinging tunes of her old flame Scott Hampton's blues band. But just as the party gets going, Scott receives a mysterious message that threatens his life and the lives of his bandmates. Sarah Booth knows that a new case is just what she needs to take her mind off her failed relationship with Graf, and she's ready to help Scott investigate. And then the message turns from threat to reality when the bartender from Scott's club is gunned down in a drive-by. Enlisting Sheriff Coleman Peters and the rest of her friends from Zinnia, Mississippi, Sarah Booth is caught in a race against the clock as she tries to stop a killer from striking again.

With a twist around every corner, Sarah Booth's zany adventures will delight readers in Carolyn Haines's latest Southern cozy, Bone to Be Wild.

Giveaway: The 15th volume in Carolyn Haines' best-selling Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries, BONE TO BE WILD will be on store shelves tomorrow, but thanks to Minotaur Books, I have *three* hardcover copes of Bone to Be Wild to give away today! Simply leave a comment (don't forget your email address!) by noon eastern on Friday, May 22nd. US entries only, please.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lovely Lilac #SundaySelfies

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Today for my Sunday Selfie I'm catching some major window whiffies.

Remember how last week I said that Mommy was waiting for the lilacs to bloom in our yard?

They're here!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Caturday Art: Lisa Parker's The Witching Hour

Did your cats get you a Mother's Day gift this year? Truffles is a great little shopper and got me something very special. (Okay, I paid for it.)

I saw this clock in a catalog and just couldn't resist. After I ordered it I did a little more research on the artist, Lisa Parker, and discovered that this painting, titled "The Witching Hour," is also featured on pillows, journals, jewelry boxes, mugs, t-shirts, even a dream catcher! I think it is absolutely beautiful and just *fits* me so perfectly...the black cat (doesn't she look like Truffles?), the stack of books, the cozy candle flickering away. It's hanging over my bed and now every night I go to sleep listing to it's comforting sounds.

We're entering our artsy clock in Athena's Caturday Art blog hop.

Friday, May 15, 2015

National Straw Hat Day

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! Today we're joining our pet blogosphere friends in celebrating National Straw Hat Day. Then Mommy also found out that the third Friday in May, which just happens to be today, is NASCAR Day! Of course you *know* that we have to celebrate that too, so this happened:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: Fillet of Murder by Linda Reilly

From the publisher: Talia Marby serves up delectable English deep fried fare in the heart of the Berkshires—but she soon discovers there’s something fishy going on… 

Sometimes in this life, you have to fish or cut bait. After walking away from a miserable job and an even worse boyfriend, Talia Marby has no regrets. She’s returned to her hometown and is happy to help her dear friend Bea Lambert by working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, a cornerstone of a charming shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village.

But not all the shop owners are charming. Phil Turnbull has been pestering Bea to sign a petition against a new store opening up, and his constant badgering is enough to make her want to boil him in oil. When Talia and Bea stumble upon Turnbull murdered in his shop, the police suspect Bea. Now it’s up to Talia to fish around for clues and hook the real killer before her friend has to trade serving food for serving time…

It's not uncommon over the course of a long-running mystery series to feel as though the characters have become friends. It's pretty rare to feel that way about the characters in a debut novel, though, but that is exactly what happened as I read the first book in Linda Reilly's Deep Fried mystery series, Fillet of Murder.

Talia Marby is starting over and temporarily working at Lambert’s Fish & Chips, an important part of her childhood that is owned by her dear friend Bea. The restaurant is located in a shopping plaza designed to resemble an old English village. There is conflict among the shop owners however, as a petition is being circulated to stop the opening of a comic book store, instigated by vintage lighting store owner Phil Turnbull. Before long Talia and Bea find Phil dead in his shop, and Bea is the prime suspect because the fillet knife buried in his neck had whitefish on it and she had recently been overheard threatening to boil him in oil. As the two ladies begin questioning their fellow shop owners, they end up discovering that more than one of them had reason to want him dead.

I enjoyed every single moment of this fast-paced mystery which kept me guessing until the very end. I look forward to watching Talia adjust to her new role as restaurant owner, and hope to see her relationship with new friend Ryan and his sweet father Arthur flourish. Every character is memorable and unique, right down to the precious cover star, calico kitty Bojangles. The food descriptions are downright mouth-watering, and since we're talking deep fried deliciousness, reading about them is much more heart healthy too!

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, May 20th for your chance to win a paperback copy of Fillet of Murder *and* this adorable tote bag!!! US entries only, and don't forget your email address.

(Sorry, Truffles not included.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

National Limerick Day

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Today is National Limerick Day, a day that celebrates the silly little poem on it's originator Edward Lear's birthday. I decided to write a limerick of my own, inspired by something I recently witnessed in my own backyard!

Have you ever written a limerick?

Monday, May 11, 2015

May Rescued Spotlight: Lucky

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! The last few months I've been telling you about Rescued: The Stories of 12 Cats, Through Their Eyes, an anthology of rescue cat stories compiled by Janiss Garza, who writes the Sparkle Cat blog. Each author featured in the book has nominated a cat rescue and was assigned a month to promote the book, with a third of the profits from that month going to their rescue.

May's spotlight is Lucky, a victim of horrible cruelty who is now worshiped and adored in his forever home and using his Facebook page to help cats in need. The rescue Lucky is supporting is Homeless Animals Rescue Team (HART) of Fairfax Station.

I really enjoyed chatting with Lucky and making a new friend!

Truffles: Welcome, Lucky! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Could you start by introducing yourself to us and telling us what made your story such a good fit for the Rescued anthology?

Lucky: Hello, Truffles! Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your blog! It is an honor to be featured. I always get embarassed when it's time to talk about myself! I find it is much easier to talk about other kitties. I am but a humble orange tabby boy with a wonderful family. I was found, badly injured, in Northern Virginia with no hope. My hope, with submitting my story for "Rescued" was that I would be able to tell my story and inspire folks to speak out against animal cruelty while promoting awareness for homeless animals. I was grateful to be chosen and to be in such good company.

Photo: Cynthia Voccia

While you've been in contact with some very bad people in your life, you have also met some pretty wonderful ones too. Please tell us about those you call your "angels".

I often mention that even the smallest gesture makes a HUGE difference in the life of a homeless animal. My new life started with so many people saying yes: Yes, I WILL find you a better life, yes, we CAN rescue and rehabilitate you, yes I WILL contribute moral and financial support. The list goes on and on. Honestly, with social media, a change can be sparked even by sharing a post. It's so hard to call out a discrete number of "angels" because there have been so many hoomans, and cats such as yourself, who continue to show me kindness daily. Top four angels? The vet tech who wanted to make a difference in the life of a cat, the wonderful lady who agreed to take me into rescue, the phenomenal staff at the vet and my Meowmy. I would be remiss if I didn't mention my ghost writer in there as well. I am just so so grateful to everyone who has become a part of my life. To go from a cat who had nobody to a cat who has more blessings than he knows what to do with is pretty awesome.

Photo: Cynthia Voccia

Do you have any lasting effects today from your injuries, both physical and emotional? Are you slower to trust humans now?

This is a fantastic question, Truffles, and an important one too. I do have some lingering physical and psychological issues. The skin where I was burned around my neck, shoulders, head and ears, remains paper thin and very sensitive. I wear something called "Soft Paws" on my back claws because one good scratch from me and my skin could split open again. This is true of many burn victims, so I am in good company there. I don't mind the Soft Paws any more. When I first started wearing them, it was a daily challenge to get them off! Meowmy would find my nails in all kinds of interesting positions from me trying to take them off! Recently, I sported some pink sparkle caps. I'm all for supporting good hooman causes, such as Breast Cancer awareness, but would personally have preferred something cool like, a pink mohawk, or ... yeah, no, I can't think of anything else that is cool and pink for a boy cat.

Ahem. I digress.

There are other physical issues I have to deal with as well, mostly from being a cat on the street with no access to basic veterinary care. Meowmy and the wonderful folks at Parkway Vet Clinic continue to see to my needs. The most challenging scars at the emotional scars. I love my Meowmy and Daddy unequivocally with my whole heart. That cannot be overstated. New people still terrify me. Sometimes I get used to new people coming by, but more often than not, I am hiding in my safe place in Meowmy's closet. I am very fortunate in that the people who would have a vested interest in meeting me understand completely why I am not very social and are happy to let me be. It still breaks Meowmy's heart to think of me being so scared, but when my brother Comet joins me, she is comforted by the fact that I have someone I love by my side to help me get through the scary parts of life.

Photo: Cynthia Voccia

The rescue you've chosen to receive your proceeds from the book this month is HART. What can you tell us about the important work they do for homeless animals?

I cannot say enough good things about HART in Fairfax Station, VA. I can't say enough good things about HART of Maine either! MOL. But HART of Fairfax Station, and their cat program specifically, truly embraces all aspects of animal rescue. It's not just about getting cute, adoptable animals homes, it's about making the difference in the life of a homeless animal. I have lost count of the number of special needs cats HART has taken in since I was rescued. In fact, my original angel, the vet tech, brought HART a cat that required a full leg amputation who was adopted a month after her procedure! When there is an animal in need, the folks at HART do everything they can to say yes, regardless of cost. To be fair, they are a larger organization with a wonderful support base, so that helps in terms of the socialization and financial aspect, but they have such a passion for doing right by homeless animals that has inspired me to be the best advocate I can be!

What's life like for you today?

Life today has exceeded my wildest dreams. I have a Meowmy and Daddy who share my passion for homeless animals and willingly share their gifts to help homeless animals. We have added a sister to our brood, Sassie, who has enriched our lives immensely. Our time is limited with her, we know, but through her, we treat each day as a precious gift. I have my fill of noms (as well as the noms from my not quite as fast brothers and sisters - snooze you lose, suckers!), a soft bed to lay on and more safety and comfort than I thought was possible. I have so many furiends that I get to connect with on a daily basis and, together, we have been able to improve the lives of other homeless animals. If I had to sum up my life in one word, I would say "blessed".

Photo: Cynthia Voccia

What would you like humans to learn from your story and what do you want your lasting legacy to be?

When people read my story, this is what I hope they come away with: Life hadn't always been kind to me, but, no matter what, it is important to show kindness and love to others. If we dwell on the hurt and pain of the past, we often miss the goodness the future brings. Please be kind and if you see something, say something. You cannot possibly know how much of a difference you truly are making in someone's life - hooman or animal.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for the interview. I appreciate any opportunity to tell my story. I'd also like to give one more quick "shout out", as the young hoomans say. Thank you to Miss Janiss Garza for giving me this platform and the ability to share my story. It really has been such an exciting adventure for this orange tabby boy from the wrong side of town!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day #SundaySelfies

Hey everybody, it's Truffles! 

Today for my Sunday Selfie I wanted to make Mommy an extra special card to show her how much I love her. 

I know that her favorite flower is the lilac because she's patiently waiting for her lilac bushes in the backyard to bloom this spring.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Caturday Art: Remembering Nissy

Hey everybody, it's Truffles. A sad part of life in the cat blogosphere is that all too often we are forced to say goodbye to our friends. We learned this week that on April 30th our dear friend Nissy of  Nerissa's Life had to go to the Bridge. He was only 12 years old.

It was just a few short weeks ago that I was able to interview Nissy for his part in the Rescued anthology, so this is a loss that hit Mommy and I particularly hard. We admired Nissy so, so much for his tireless dedication to sharing the daily kill lists at NYC's ACC. He and his peep made a difference in the lives of cats every single day. He also loved cozy mysteries like we do, and wrote extremely entertaining "book reports". (Our favorite can be found here.)

Nissy's family is asking that any donations in his memory be made to TeamTNR, a wonderful rescue helping Nova Scotian kitties in need.

We created a memorial graphic for Nissy, and are entering it in Athena's Caturday Art blog hop.

Photo: Zoolatry

Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O'Neil

From the publisher: In California wine country, the town of Cypress Cove may seem peaceful. But someone’s about to pop their cork…

After losing her job as a photojournalist, Penny Lively is trying to get her life back in focus. Inheriting the family winery from her late aunt may be the fresh start she needs. Thankfully she’s got her niece Hayley and her handsome winery manager Connor to help. But the person in need of more urgent assistance is Antonia Martinelli, the owner of the neighboring winery, who has her own barrel full of problems. Someone’s spoiling her wine, and with the upcoming Autumn Festival, she needs Penny’s nose for clues to sniff out the culprit.

But Penny’s search for answers sours after the body of a staff member is found in a grape crusher. Since Hayley was the last to see him alive, she’s the prime suspect in the case. Now Penny must hurry to find the real killer before Hayley withers on the vine…

I've always been drawn to books that take place in wineries because I love wine. Unfortunately, wine does not love me. Even half of a glass diluted with seltzer water puts me right to sleep. So as with so many other things in life, I live vicariously through books. 

One Foot in the Grape begins when Antonia Martinelli, owner of the famed Martinelli Winery, asks her neighbor and distant cousin Penny Lively, new owner of her late aunt's Joyeux Winery, for help. Antonia suspects that someone is sabotaging her wine. Penny is busy preparing for the first Autumn Festival, but with a background in investigative photojournalism, she can't resist the challenge. Little does she know she's about to be mixed up in the murders of two Martinelli employees, and a group of suspects that takes family dysfunction to a whole new level. 

The murder method in this book is one of the most unique ever - a grape crusher - and the killer remained a mystery to the very end. The breathtaking setting and stellar cast of characters - from protagonists Penny and Antonia to their various employees and family members to Penny's pets, gray tabby Petite Syrah and malamute Nanook - made this a sparkling debut.

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Friday, May 15th for your chance to win a copy of One Foot in the Grape. (US entries only please, and don't forget your email address!)