A Second Glance Q&A: Debbie Kupfer

I was interviewed by the lovely Kellie. Go check it out!

Have Pen, Will Pen

Hello my fabulous fellow adventurers,

First, I cannot believe it’s already December. It’s the hyper-fast slide into the holidays so good luck to us all! Today is another A Second Glance interview series, this time focusing on fantasy author Debbie Kupfer. As per always, my comments will be in {italics}. Enjoy!

Tell me a little bit about yourself!

I grew up in London and lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina before I somehow ended up in St. Louis, where I live with my husband and my two furry overlords, Whiskey Boop and Miri Billie Joe.

I divide my time between writing, editing, and constructing word and logic puzzles. I believe with enough tea and dark chocolate you can do anything. {Yes, yes, that is the perfect combination.}

What got you into writing?

I’ve been writing my whole life but only started taking my writing seriously back in…

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Catstruck! interview – Debbie Manber Kupfer

Hi folks, I of course also have a story in this collection, an extended version of my previously published “Griddlebone”, so today I’m interviewing myself!

Interview with Debbie Manber Kupfer

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a writer, editor, puzzle maker, cat herder, tea drinker, and fan of many things weird and wacky!

  • When did you first start writing?

When I was about eight years old I wrote a story about turning into a ladybird (ladybug) and sent it to the Puffin Post. I was thrilled when I got a mention for the story. This followed many years of dabbling in the writing arts, but it was only in 2012 after facing down breast cancer that I started to take my writing seriously. That November during NaNoWriMo I started writing P.A.W.S. and ten books later I’m still going!

  • Who are your favorite authors?

I’m an eclectic reader. Favorites include Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Cornelia Funke, Nick Hornby, D.R. Perry, R.R. Virdi, E.A. Copen, Chaim Potok, Charlie Holmberg, and Paul Gallico.

  • What inspires you to write?

Anything and everything. I’m a people watcher. I love sitting in cafes and listening into conversations, and random snippets often inspire my stories.

  • Tell us a little bit about your story in Catstruck, “Griddlebone”.

Griddlebone was a Nazi experiment, a werecat created in a laboratory to be used as a weapon. They miscalculated and Griddlebone not only escaped but joined the resistance and fought back against the Nazis. His story originally appeared in Sins of the Past and then I adored the character so much that he was written into Umbrae (P.A.W.S. 3) and has played a role in the series ever since. The version of the story that appears in Catstruck is an extended tale that includes the long anticipated meeting between Griddlebone and his granddaughter, Finny.  

  • What are you currently working on?

I’m working on book ten of my P.A.W.S. Saga. This one is called Madarak and for it P.A.W.S. members of the avian persuasion are converging on Nashville for a special bird convention. Readers will revisit some of their favorite avian shifters, such as Oswald the Ostentatious and Gordon Frakes, but also meet some new characters from the P.A.W.S. world including the President of Madarak Bird Con, Augustus Flug and his wife Margolit. All being well I plan to release Madarak on June 20th 2023 which is the tenth anniversary of when P.A.W.S. was originally released. The book is now available on preorder.

  • Do you have kitties or other pets? (Feel free to add pictures!)

Of course! I have two feline overlords. Miri (named for the character in P.A.W.S.) and Whiskey (who inspired a character in P.A.W.S.)

  • Do you have a favorite literary cat?

Whenever there is a cat in a story I am drawn to them, but my all-time favorite is probably Jennie from Paul Gallico’s book of the same name. Such a beautiful, haunting tale. I’m also very fond of the Cheshire Cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

  • How can readers connect with you?

Well you guys are already on my blog, so that’s one way! But also please join my FB group, P.A.W.S. People and sign up for my newsletter, P.A.W.S. Post.

Want to read a snippet from “Griddlebone”? Sure you do!

“Why? Why, Opapa? Why have you avoided me for all these years? And why are you finally meeting with me now?”

“I had reasons, Katzel, reasons.”

“Reasons aren’t good enough. Details, I want details. There are so many things you never told me.”

“I was embarrassed, Finny. I always felt I could do more. Could have saved them all if I hadn’t been so blind.”

“You saved me,” said Finny. “And Jacob. You saved Jacob.”

“Two cats – just two cats, Finny, and there were hundreds of werecats.”

“Tell me what happened, Opapa.”

Griddlebone looked up. There were tears in his eyes. “Where to start, though.”

“Start at the beginning.”

“You know I was the first,” said Griddlebone “– an early experiment.”

Finny nodded and Griddlebone continued.

* * *

The Germans were seeking a better soldier, a better fighting machine. They hired a scientist to help them with their work, the renowned Dr. Wechsler. He was considered a revolutionary in the field of genetics.

In his laboratory, he created mutants by blending feline genes with human. He chose the cat because it was the easiest carnivore to obtain. It was simple to take an alley cat off the streets. No one missed it, except the other cats of course, but who cared about them.

They wanted a predator, one that they could teach to kill for them, one that their enemies wouldn’t expect. But cats are fickle creatures, and intelligent too.

I woke up in that laboratory, outwardly appearing as I had been – a young man of twenty, but inwardly I could feel the change that had been wrought, could feel the new feline essence inside me. The scientist wanted a demonstration to show the Gestapo chief who was visiting that day. Yes, I decided, I would give him a demonstration.

The Gestapo chief paced in front of me.

“You say he can change?”

“Yes, sir.”

He turned to me smiling. “So let’s see it, Herr Griddlebone!”

I concentrated, understanding instinctively what to do. Inside me, I had retained the memories of the old street cat that had been used in my creation. My body contracted and I became a presumably harmless housecat – a large, grey tabby.

“Marvelous,” said the Gestapo chief, clapping his hands, “he will make a wonderful spy, but maybe not such a good fighter. You are working on others I hope. Vienna zoo is at your service; take whatever you need from there. I fancy perhaps a leopard or a tiger.”

Oh, I thought, a tiger’s what you want? I might be able to do something about that. As soon as the Nazi’s back was turned, I pounced. In the air, my body changed, quickly growing ten times my original size. My claws lengthened and sharpened into dangerous weapons and my teeth became vicious canines.

“That’s for my mother and father,” I bellowed, and I sunk my teeth into the Gestapo chief’s flesh. The rest of the Nazis in the room were cowards. They ran from me, screaming, and I had no difficulty escaping from the laboratory.

Once outside,I shrunk back down into regular cat size (my favorite form from then on) and ran out into the streets of Vienna.

I had no clear idea what to do or where to go. My family had been killed on the day I was taken. But the Nazis had given me a gift. In my cat form I could easily blend into the shadows. Nobody suspected a cat, after all.

My attack on the Gestapo chief did not deter the Nazis from their experiments. If anything, it empowered them. If one small cat could create such chaos, what could a whole army of shapeshifting carnivores achieve?

I was making friends with the street cats, but sometimes my new friends would go missing, just as they had when I’d lived as a Jew. Some of the street animals were taken for food by ordinary citizens; the war years had led to shortages of meat. But others were taken by the Nazis so they could continue their experiments.

My first rescue was a glorious thing. I meowed at the door of the laboratory, making myself smaller and inconsequential. A lab assistant let me in, smirking, “Well, we could always do with another cat, though this one doesn’t look like he has a lot of fight in him.”

Little did they know.

Around the room were a number of cages. Some contained cats yet to be used in the experiments. Others contained the results of previous experiments. Strange were-creatures – cats of all sizes and shapes, some grotesquely disfigured as the scientist tried to improve his mutations.

The lab assistants saw me as no threat, just a street moggy, so they gave me a saucer of milk and left me loose on the floor of the lab. “Needs a little fattening up, before we can use him,” one of them said.

I lapped my milk and waited for my opportunity. I wandered around the room, sniffing hither and thither, pretending to explore, but actually I was picking the locks … with my mind. When the scientist made me, he truly didn’t understand the power he was unleashing. The addition of feline genes to my genetic makeup gave me powers I could never have dreamed of before. Telepathy (of course, for that is how I’m speaking to you now)and also a limited telekinesis. The locks were easy to pick, I merely had to visualize the mechanism inside, and they simply slipped open.

I prepared the residents for escape, reaching out to each mind with my whiskers. All could help free themselves, I explained, the werecats and the true cats. Everyone had claws and teeth, after all. On that day, we killed five men in the Nazi laboratory, all but the scientist. The scientist begged for his life. We considered this and decided to be lenient. He could be useful, so we spared his life and brought him with us.

We wondered if we could trust him of course, but he seemed to prefer to be on the winning side.

To read more pick up a copy of Catstruck! today. Also be sure to enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win a host of prizes including a choice of any of my titles on audible.

A Catstruck! Poem by Jamie Glaser

For those who have picked up Catstruck! you will have noticed it doesn’t just feature prose but also the occasional poem. Quite a few of these verses were penned by Jamie Glaser who lives in St. Louis with her beautiful feline, Audrey. Here is a picture of Audrey along with one of Jamie’s poems. You can find the rest in Catstruck!

CAT

Jamie Glaser

Mysterious friend

Eyes glow in the dusk

Creating a haunting

To the ordinary

Soft paws kissed with 

Strategic claws

Defying physics

Extraordinary

Playing games with gravity

Sucking up time with slumber

Life between your

Playful paws

You don’t care

You only stare

You are the epitome of joy

Undefined

No writer can pin you down

No word can define you

Chaos is no match

For your internal contentment.

Pick up your copy of Catstruck! today for more poems by Jamie. And don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win a hardback copy of Catstruck! and a host of other donated prizes by our Catstruck! authors.

Catstruck! — Diana Dawn

It’s Friday, so time for another Catstruck! interview. Today we meet cat lover, Diana Dawn who tells a little about her writing and her kitties! You can read a little of her Catstruck! story, “Cat Fancy That” after the interview.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Diana.

I am a wife and mother of three… two boys 15 & 12, and one girl, 10. I currently live in Texas in the USA. I write clean romance. For example, I have a fantasy romance series called Whispering Willows. I also enjoy performing in musical community theater. I even got to play Miss Hannigan in “Annie” and Ursula in “The Little Mermaid”!

  • When did you first start writing?

I wrote several stories as a young girl and teenager. But it really started about 25 years ago. I was part of a small online writing club. It was a “shared world”. We all would write a chapter a week or so. I love all things Snow White, so I decided to write my story around what would happen to Snow White if she “fell” into another world. I wrote in the group for several years, but the writing club finally shut down in 2009. I didn’t do anything with my work for the next 10 years. Then 2019, I decided to not let all of that time and dedication go to waste, so I made the leap to self-publish my chapters into a book series. I have books one through eleven published so far and plan to wrap up the series in book twelve next year. However, I have a lot of other projects in the pipeline as well, so I hope I can get book twelve done next year! I am part of many multi-author boxed sets from this year on through 2025!

  • Who are your favorite authors?

That’s a tough one. I have always loved the comedic writing of Ellen Conford. And I also enjoy the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien.

  • What inspires you to write? 

I have a lot of stories in my head that I feel passionate about. I think it’s the emotion that inspires me the most. It really helps me to have some kind of emotional attachment to my characters.

  • Tell us a little bit about your story in Catstruck, “Cat Fancy That”.

Duchess is a beautiful pure breed Himalayan cat in a comfortable home. She is an “only” cat and content to be such. So when her owners bring home a cute stray kitten, Duchess’ home life is threatened. Can she get past her resentment of the new feline and make friends with the little guy? Her position in the household may depend on it!

  • Are the cats in the story based on your own?

Yes, absolutely. I have been raised with Himalayan cats most of my life. They are beautiful cats… a cross between a Persian and a Siamese… and very sweet. I also rescued a stray kitten from a kill shelter several years ago. When I married my husband, he also had a couple of rescued cats. We had a house full of cats! Just call me the “crazy cat lady”! I have owned a mix of pure breeds as well as rescued felines. So the “shenanigans” of both of the kitties in my story were definitely based on my own “fur babies”!

  • What are you currently working on?

I have two stand-alone books coming out next year that are part of a multi-author series of similar themed books (in addition to the 12th and final book in my series!). One is a YA book about teens with special abilities, and the other is a clean romance aboard a cruise ship.

  • Do you have kitties or other pets? (Feel free to add pictures!)

Yes! I have two Himalayans, one white short hair kitty, and a turtle!

  • Do you have a favorite literary cat?

I’ve always enjoyed reading Garfield!

  1. How can readers connect with you?

I have an author website that talks all about my current projects and my series. And here, you can also join my newsletter where I always have great deals and giveaways!
Diana Dawn Books

You can find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/diana.dawn.965/

And please join my Facebook “Dawning Books Reader’s Group”! https://www.facebook.com/groups/3109388419321551

Want to read a snippet of “Cat Fancy That?” Of course you do!

Chapter One

‘New Kid on the Block’

Duchess yawned and stretched as she curled up in Sophie’s lap in the large chair near the fireplace. This was her favorite time. Sophie would read her book while Duchess slept peacefully. Soon, Sophie would grow tired and head to bed, and Duchess would follow and curl up next to her pillow. It was mornings that Duchess didn’t like. Sophie would grab her backpack and leave and be gone all day. Where does she go that takes so long? Her mom and dad would leave, too. And they would be gone even longer than Sophie. So, after some “crunchy munchies” and some fresh water from her kitty fountain, Duchess would bathe her long fur coat for most of the morning, and then sleep for the rest of the afternoon.

‘Ah, finally!’ Duchess thought as she heard the sound of a key in the door. Sophie came in and threw her backpack on the kitchen table. Duchess jumped up onto the table to demand her afternoon petting. 

She sat as Sophie pulled several items from her backpack. “Got lots of homework today, Duchess.”

Duchess continued to rub Sophie’s hand as she tried to write.

“Duchess, I love you, but I can’t get my work done when you do that.” She picked Duchess up and set her on the floor.

Duchess gave her a confused look and proceeded to jump back up on the table and rub Sophie’s hand some more.

“Duchess! Ugh!” Sophie stood up, grabbed her books, and headed for her room. Just as Duchess reached the door, it closed, shutting her out.

“What? Wait! She never shuts me out of her room. What’s going on?” 

Duchess started meowing at the door, but it didn’t open. So she lay on the floor in front of the door and waited, sadly.

After a while, Sophie’s mom and dad came into the house together. Strange, because usually Sophie’s mom gets home first from wherever it is they go every day, except for a couple of days a week.

“Sophie?” her mom called. “We have a surprise for you!”

Sophie’s dad was carrying a box with a lid. Duchess suddenly sensed a strange smell coming from the direction of the box. The family would often bring in outside food with different smells. This was not food.

“Yeah, Mom?” Sophie emerged from her room. Duchess sighed in relief. She was about to head to the bedroom, but curiosity got the best of her, and she decided to sit and see what all was going on with that box.

Sophie gasped as she lifted the lid. “OH! Mom, Dad, he’s so cute!” To Duchess’ horror, Sophie lifted a small, orange kitten from the box.

Her dad offered, “He was a stray that was hanging around my office building. So we had him bathed, fixed and checked out by a vet. Otherwise, we were afraid they would send him to the pound and… well, anyway. Do you like him?”

“I LOVE him!” Sophie snuggled the kitten to her cheek.

Duchess was dumbfounded, as she stared wide-eyed at her Sophie messing with some stray mutt of a cat! She even had the nerve to tell it she loved it! Indeed!

Her mom offered, “We need to see how Duchess is going to react to the new kitten.”

All eyes were on Duchess. She was appalled as she saw Sophie putting the kitten down close to her. Yuck! That smell! She hissed at the filthy animal and then ran into Sophie’s bedroom.

“Duchess!” Sophie scolded.

“Don’t worry. She’ll come around.” Her mom picked up the kitten and held it. “Any name ideas?”

Sophie noted the orange tabby cat’s color. “You know, I bet when he grows up, he’ll look like the orange cat on the cat food cans. What’s his name again?”

“Morris,” her mom replied.

“Morris it is, then!” Sophie took the kitten. “Morris, that’s a good name for you. Morris and Duchess. Hey, that has a cool ring to it! And don’t you worry about her. She’ll chill out and come around. Just give her some time. You hungry?”

Sophie went to the kitchen, opened a can of cat food, and offered a bowl to Morris. He accepted it hungrily.

“I thought you might be. And there’s the crunchy dry food over there, too.”

Duchess wandered out of the bedroom and jumped up on the counter to be away from the new brat. She scowled as she watched this punk kid eat her precious, meaty food. As she looked over at the can, she noticed that the picture on it looked very much like a grown-up version of this small cat. ‘Great. It’s like his picture is all over MY food!’ she thought.

“Duchess, you have to be nice to Morris. You two are going to have to get along. You’ll be together from now on… forever.”

Duchess wasn’t sure what all Sophie had just said, but whatever it was, it made her shiver.

So will Duchess and Morris finally become friends? Pick up a copy of Catstruck! to find out.

And don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win oodles of prizes including a set of ELEVEN books, the almost complete series, of Diana Dawn.

Catstruck! — Holly Hook

Today on Paws 4 Thought we continue our Catstruck! interview series with YA fantasy author, Holly Hook.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Holly. I’m a YA fantasy author who’s been writing all my life but I recently began branching out into other genres as well. I started publishing on Kindle in 2010, and after seven years of work, I reached the point where I can write full time. I like anything fantasy and paranormal, but also do some post-apocalyptic stuff.

2. When did you first start writing? I started writing when I was pretty young—first grade, I think. Before that, I would speak stories into a tape recorder.

3. Who are your favorite authors? I’ve read so many books that I don’t have a clear favorite, though Christopher Pike comes to mind for influencing me when I was younger.

4. What inspires you to write? Honestly, I’m not sure, but I can’t hold back from telling stories. Once in a while, I get a dream or something, but otherwise, it just comes to me.

5. Tell us a little bit about your story in Catstruck, “Walls”. “Walls” is a companion story to the Flamestone Trilogy, which I wrote several years ago. The cat in the story was inspired by a big, gray, intelligent cat that we still have in the family.

6. Do you plan to continue Jenna’s story? The Flamestone Trilogy is currently done, which this story ties to, but this is the only story with Jenna at this time. Maybe in the future, I’ll revisit this world.

7. What are you currently working on? The sequel to War and Kittens, a YA UF that also features a cat. The first book is doing a bit better than I anticipated, so I’ve got to hurry on Book Two. I’m also working on an adult paranormal/urban fantasy series that’s not yet out.

For a chance to win an ebook of War and Kittens and a host of other awesome prizes be sure to enter our Catstruck Rafflecopter!

8. Do you have kitties or other pets? (Feel free to add pictures!) I have two cats of my own but live with six in total. I also keep tarantulas and have a tank full of jerks cichlids, which are a type of fish.

Here’s a picture of Niko, the inspiration behind Mowgli in my story, “Walls”.

9. Do you have a favorite literary cat? There are so many cats out there that I can’t find just one. I love all the kitties.

10. How can readers connect with you? See links below:

Subscribe to my newsletter: www.subscribepage.com/e3w3s2 

And visit my Amazon page

Would you like to read an excerpt from Holly’s story, “Walls”?

Sure you do!

“Mowgli, what are you hissing at?”

Jenna sat up on the edge of her bed, tossing down her copy of Alice in Wonderland. It was her latest escape from a world that failed her. 

Her cat stood on the floor, staring at that hole in the bottom of her wall again. There were a lot of holes in her new foster home, especially in her bedroom. Such was the story of her life. 

“Come on. Really?” It was the third time this week he’d done that, and it was getting annoying. Every time she got away from her mother and earned some time to herself, he did this, breaking her from her focus.

Maybe she’d have to find some other place in this house to do her reading.

Mowgli ignored her and puffed up larger, looking like a steel gray panther who needed to lose weight. His tail morphed into a giant pipe cleaner, and he growled at the hole.

“Are you really that scared of mice?” Jenna stood up, wiggling her freezing toes in her socks, and she hoped it wasn’t a rat living in that hole instead. The house was old… way older than the creepy guy her foster mom had rented it from. It had lots of dips in the floor and plenty of drafts, some of which seemed to come from some damp place underground. She wondered how many other kids went through here as they got shuffled around the system. 

Mowgli hissed again, backing so far away from the wall that he rammed his rear end into the side of Jenna’s bed. 

She sat up, because something wasn’t right here, and her heart thudded in response. Her cat was smart enough to turn on the washing machine by himself so he could sit on top of it and enjoy the free massage.

Jenna had read a story once where a cat warned a woman about a fire in the wall and saved her life. 

She scrambled down onto the floor and sat next to Mowgli. “All right, Genius. Is this dump finally burning down?” She smelled no smoke, so she pulled Mowgli to her side. He was so warm she could keep him there all night.

Mowgli twisted in her grip and howled, letting out a low, mournful sound. He broke free and darted down the hall, his enormous feet thundering down the stairs.

“Hey!” Jenna sat there, staring at the doorway her cat had just bolted through. She rubbed the line of pain on her leg, as he’d nailed her with his back claws by mistake. 

Maggie, her foster mom, yelled something at him that Jenna could never repeat in class. It figured. Maggie had hated Mowgli since Jenna found him starving next to a trash can up in town.

That happened a few months ago, right after she came to stay with Maggie, and now she fed him with lawn mowing money. There wasn’t much else for a fifteen-year-old to do when it came to making money.

At least Maggie hadn’t tried to hurt him. Maybe she feared Jenna going to the social worker, although Chris insisted Jenna stay with Maggie for her own good. The system was beyond broken. 

Ignoring the pain of her scratch, Jenna leaned closer to the opening and sniffed, but no smoke stung her nostrils. The air coming from the hole smelled damp with a trace of dirt and dust, as it always did. 

She turned around in her room, staring at all the old, empty moving boxes, some left over from other kids. She had a flashlight somewhere. It was a cheap one that came in one of those dollar store surprise bags meant for little kids, but it would work. Maggie got her the bag for Christmas.

Jenna pulled her clothing box off another that was the permanent home for her books, then moved that aside to reach the junk box. The green handle of the flashlight stuck out from under the torn flap.

Jenna clicked it on. It gave off a weak glow, like the dull light bulb overhead, but it would have to work. 

She flopped down to her side on the floor and aimed the weak beam at the hole. The yellowing wall turned bright, but the hole looked darker. The damp smell grew stronger, and Jenna thought of the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. 

This one looked more jagged and sinister, and yes, it was big enough to let a rat into her room. She’d never dared to peek in before for precisely that reason. 

Jenna expected insulation, chewed wood, mouse turds, and other debris to fill the space beyond the wall’s surface. 

Instead, she found only darkness, and could make out nothing past where the hole started. 

The floor past the entrance seemed to drop off into nothingness, and it was as if the crack in the wall opened into a void. 

A breeze shot out, whistling around Jenna’s ears.

Then a faint, bizarre squeak, along with an odd skittering, emerged from the depths.

She scrambled back and held back a cry. The flashlight slid across the floor and hit one of her boxes. Jenna hit the back of her bed. She kept her gaze locked on the hole.

The hole stayed as dark as ever and the earthy smell faded. She sucked in a breath to make sure it had gone.

Maybe she should get Maggie to come up and look at this, because a hole into nothingness wasn’t normal, especially on the second floor. 

Um, not a good idea. You’re better off dealing with this yourself.

Maggie would come up here, roll her eyes, and head back downstairs if she was lucky. If not, Jenna would get more chores to do, like washing the dishes and mowing the house’s overgrown lawn.

Jenna pushed the junk box over to where the hole in the wall waited like an open mouth. She’d cover it up for now, because there was no way she could sleep in this room otherwise.

Want to read more? Pick up a copy of Catstruck! today!

And be sure to enter our Catstruck rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of Holly Hook’s War and Kittens and a whole host of other goodies from our Catstruck authors.

Check out oodles of anthologies from a host of indie authors!

Catstruck Interview — Stephanie Barr

Today on my blog we begin a series of interviews featuring the authors from the charity anthology, Catstruck! The anthology was originally conceived by Stephanie Barr before she handed over the reins to me. Her story, “The Emperor’s Companion” featured in the book is a science fiction tale of Gyn Ryker a seasoned bodyguard sent to protect a very special monarch of the feline persuasion. You can read an excerpt from Stephanie’s tale later in the post, and don’t forget to enter our Catstruck! Rafflecopter which includes to generous donated prizes from Stephanie. But first the interview:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Stephanie

I’m a rocket scientist by day, crazy writer by night, single mother of three (the eldest is grown and independent) all the time, and I have a BUNCH of cats. I love solving problems, snarky humor, cats and dragons, and telling stories.

2. When did you first start writing?

In junior high (7th grade) I started with poetry that I’d write, enjoy, then toss. My father, when I showed him a poem I thought he’d like, made me promise never to throw anything away again. I wrote mostly poetry and a few short stories in high school, moved to mostly short stories in college and then stories and novels as an adult.

3. Who are your favorite authors?

I have dozens and, at any given time, I’ll give you a different list. Heinlein, Georgette Heyer, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Poe, Herbert, Robert Ludlum, James Clavell, Sake, Alexander Dumas are all on there along with Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Stephen King, and James Herriot. My tastes are eclectic. Have I left off tons of them? I have. 

4. What inspires you to write?  

Anything? Everything? I love playing “what if?” and imagining how I’d feel in a particular situation.

5. Tell us a little bit about your story in Catstruck, “The Emperor’s Companion”.

I bought a book cover (the one above) and wrote a story to match. I wanted to play with a feline emperor and decided it would pair well with a bodyguard who thought protecting a feline emperor was stupid. Then I changed his mind. I had a lot of fun and it’s a fun story. Especially if you’re a cat lover and can appreciate how cats can worm themselves into one’s heart.

6. Do you plan to follow Gyn Ryker’s story in another tale in the future?

I don’t at this moment but I do like his character and have been known to write more for characters I like.

7. What are you currently working on?

I’m working on one of my collections of short stories (Inner Worlds) to come out before the end of the year and a novel centered around an albino dragon and her kitty companion (Anathema and Tidbit) which I’ll hopefully be able to publish next year.

8. Tell us about your own kitties? (Feel free to add pictures!)

I have four black boys (Smudge, Kismet, Soot and Shadow), three brown tabbies (Camo, Tigress, and Gogo), a gray super-soft kitty (Twilight) and a medium haired yellow/white cat (Ishtar).

Oh, they are all so pretty! DMK

9. Do you have a favorite literary cat?

I love any literary cat but probably have the softest spot for my own. I have them in every book, after all.

10. How can readers connect with you?

FB page for fans:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/CatsandDragons/

and my webpage:  http://stephanieebarr.us

You can also find me on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B00N9W84YK

And Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/stephanieebarr

Want to read a snippet from Stephanie’s story? Of course you do!

So here’s a sample of The Emperor’s Companion from Catstruck!

“You’re kidding me, right?”

The woman behind the desk was not known for her sense of humor and she showed no sign of it now. “Don’t be ridiculous. I would never joke about this job. Emperor Tiddles is the latest in a long line of feline rulers of the planet Darby. Given the gravity of the forthcoming conference and that we are hosting it—and therefore responsible for the planetary leaders that will attend—we are assigning our own guards in addition to their own retinues. And you’ve been assigned to Emperor Tiddles.”

“He’s a cat,” Gin Ryker said, through his teeth. “Am I being punished for something?”

Captain Grenter rolled her eyes. She had about twenty years on Ryker, her light blonde hair cut close to her scalp. She had a brutal scar across her face and had once, he’d heard, nearly been blown to bits by an incendiary device. He knew some of her limbs were prosthetics, but he wasn’t sure which ones. More importantly, she’d never lost a client and that was why she was in charge. “Have you ever had a cat, Lieutenant?”

“Pets are pointless.”

“Well, then you have no idea how hard keeping control of a feline is. You’re my best and that’s why you’re being assigned here. Cats don’t follow directions or do as you expect them to do. Nor do they seem to have the least sense of self-preservation. And they are escape artists, getting into places you thought were impenetrable.”

“They’re cats,” he said. “You speak like they’re sentient beings, not dumb animals.”

Captain Grenter sat up at that and glared at Ryker. Only one of her eyes could focus on him, but somehow it made the glare more powerful. “I strongly advise you not to confuse Emperor Tiddles with any preconceptions you have about pets. He will be crafty and challenging and you’ll underestimate his intelligence at your own risk—and his. And, even if he were dumb as a stick, your diligence would still be critical.”

Ryker didn’t test the glare. He stood silently, waiting for the rest.

“I’m sending the dossier to you and specific instructions, protocols specific to Darby royalty, preferences and the like. This will be a challenging detail, not only because of the nature of the client, but because Darby, as you know, is one of the few planets that has a sizeable deposit of Cytocil.”

“Cytocil? Used in wormdrives?”

“Exactly. And, intelligence reports that there is a rival for the throne who is building a considerable backing faction, which puts Emperor Tiddles in a vulnerable position. If he’s assassinated, all hell will break loose. A significant civil war could disrupt exports and bring the universe to a halt. No one wants that, but what I especially don’t want is for it to be our fault. If this ends up chalked up to us, someone’s going to lose some skin and, believe me, it won’t just be me. Do not let that happen, Ryker. Are you understanding me?”

“Yes, ma’am. Keep the furball alive no matter what it takes.”

Captain Grenter sighed. “Don’t offend him either. Cats hold grudges like no one’s business.”

Ryker bit back his retort. “Right.”

Want to read more? Pick up a copy of Catstruck! today!

And don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win a whole host of awesome prizes including a hardback copy of Catstruck! and Pussycats Galore and Meow o Ween from Stephanie.

Catstruck! It’s alive!

Beautiful, Cuddly, and Deadly! We all adore cats and this is an anthology dedicated to our favorite felines. All proceeds go to Tenth Life Cat Rescue in St. Louis, a wonderful local charity that dedicates their resources to rescuing street cats.

The anthologies includes stories and poetry from:
Debbie Manber Kupfer
Stephanie Barr
Jen Ponce
Indigo Leigh
Henry Herz
Holly Hook
Marlena Frank
V.M. Sang
Diana Dawn
Mackenzie Flohr
Kressel Housman
Jamie Glaser

And over the coming weeks I will be highlighting each of the authors and stories on this blog. In the meantime be sure to pick up your copy.

Also enter our Rafflecopter for a chance to win a hardback copy of Catstruck! and a host of other goodies.

Cover Reveal! DarkRise by M.A. Phipps and Rebecca Jaycox

It’s cover reveal day for my two awesome author friends, M.A. Phipps and Rebecca Jaycox! Check out the gorgeous cover for DarkRise, book two in the Origin Prophecy trilogy.

To pre-order DarkRise, find out about ARCs, or to get a review copy of book one, LightFall, visit their linktree: https://linktr.ee/the.bookish.den

Also do you like kitty stories? I’ve got a whole bundle for you. Multiple genres here but all featuring furry felines. (And be sure to preorder Catstruck! if you have not yet.

Jewish Holiday Activity Book by Jill Morgenstern

On my puzzle blog today – a new Jewish Holiday activity book from Jill Morgenstern.

Paws 4 Puzzles

Hi folks, the Jewish Holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot are shortly going to be on us and if you have little ones this new activity book from Jill Morgenstern is perfect to keep them entertained.

The book includes fun learning activities for the Jewish Holidays. Includes word searches, coloring pages, mazes, word scrambles, complete the patterns, one of these things is not like the other, and other puzzles and activities.

Divided into sections for the High Holidays, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Chanukah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Pesach, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Lag Ba’Omer, Shavuot, and Shabbat. Also includes answer keys for the word searches and some of the other puzzles.

Perfect for use at home, or in a religious school or day school classroom to supplement learning about the holidays in a fun way! Great for ages 7-12 or second through sixth grade.

Book includes 150 single sided pages. There are…

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Catch up on the P.A.W.S. Saga – 99 cents sale!

ALL NINE books in the P.A.W.S. Saga 99 cents for a limited time!

Psst! It’s time to catch up on the P.A.W.S. Saga. For just a few days all NINE books in my series are currently on sale for just 99 cents/99p a piece on Kindle. And that includes the newest title, Rhyfedd.

So don’t let this kitty get all the good stuff and pick up your copies today!

US – Amazon
UK – Amazon

Plus check out these promos of all things magical!