A new Column below!
This is kind of a special edition of my newsletter, because I want to introduce everyone to some of the Trouble scribes—those talented writers who have signed on to write and document the adventures of Trouble, the black cat detective.
Long ago I wrote a series of books for Harlequin Intrigue—romantic mysteries—following Familiar, the black cat detective. Familiar escaped from an animal research lab and was taken in by Eleanor, a professor. Trouble had a point of view in each book, and he viewed himself as a feline Sam Spade. Only smarter!
Trouble is his son, who was raised by Tammy Lynn in Wetumpka, AL. He learned to be a detective from his father and by watching Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock on the telly. So while Familiar had a certain turn of phrase, Trouble lets slip an occasional British bit of slang or terminology. He’s a very fun character to write. Like his dad, he’s superior to the “bipeds” and he’s clever at “humanoid” romance and knows just when to nudge a character into action, both in crime solving and human relationships. Because, after all, his is the superior intellect!
So this is how Trouble came to be, and then I gathered my talented writer friends, and we created KaliOka Press, which publishes the Trouble books. So far there are 13 full-length Trouble adventures, two anthologies, and two Christmas short stories. Each writer brings her own unique talents and storytelling skills to the table, but we all share the character of Trouble and we keep his thoughts and behavior consistent to his character.
Let me introduce my friends and champion storytellers—or rather they’re going to introduce themselves to you!
BETH TERRELL, who writes as JADEN TERRELL
BETH TERRELL is the author of TROUBLE MOST FAIRE, which is currently on sale at .99 cents! And be sure and look for more bargains in all of our newsletters—but you have to sign up to be in the know!
Until Carolyn invited me to become a Mad Catter and join the Trouble Scribes, I thought of myself as a hardboiled writer. I had four gritty private eye novels in print, with topics ranging from suicide to human trafficking. But I love cats, and I love Carolyn, and it sounded like fun, so I didn’t even have to think twice before telling her to count me in. Trouble’s whimsicality immediately captured my heart. And what fun I had adventuring with Trouble, his uninvited sidekick Tuck, and the colorful characters at the RenFaire. I can hardly wait to write his next big adventure.
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Beth is going to treat us with a Bigfoot adventure next year. We can’t wait to see Trouble tackle a legend!
REBECCA BARRETT, author of two TROUBLE BOOKS
Rebecca Barrett here. But you may know me as Trouble’s favorite scribe. He claims to adore all his scribes equally but you and I know the truth of the matter.
When I create stories of Trouble, it begins with a voice. He whispers in my ear in rounded, dulcet tones with a dry wit and barely contained amusement at the foibles of bipeds. Okay, so it’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice I hear with that cultured British accent. Which in turn makes my fingers fly across the keyboard as I describe Trouble’s latest case. And, naturally, Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is the persona Trouble emulates.
I grew up on a farm and the art of “front porch socializing” created in me the urge to write, to recreate those stories and connections. My other writings don’t start with a voice but rather with a scene, whether it’s historical women’s fiction, short stories of the South, or, currently, a detective series set in the rock and roll era of the sixties. You can find more details on my website at www.rebeccabarrett.com. Or if you’d just like to hang out, I’d be delighted to have you follow me at any of the following social media sites: Facebook, Bookbub, Twitter, Goodreads.
Stay on the lookout for the upcoming TROUBLE ON THE MOUNTAIN later this year!
CLAIRE HAMNER MATTURRO
I admit I used to be a dog person. But then I rescued a black kitten from a dumpster, and there was no going back. I’ve been a journalist in Alabama, a lawyer in Florida, an organic blueberry farmer in Georgia, and taught at Florida State University College of Law and as a visiting professor of legal writing one long, snowy winter at the University of Oregon. I now live with my husband in SW Florida. In addition to four legal thrillers published by HarperCollins, I am the author of Trouble in Tallahassee. My newest book is Wayward Girls (Red Adept Publishing August 10, 2021) with a co-author. I remain active in writers’ groups and am an associate editor at Southern Literary Review.
Claire is plotting out a grand HARRY AND TONTO style adventure for 2022. We can’t wait! You can also follow Claire on her social media sites—it helps authors a lot. And here’s her book: TROUBLE IN TALLAHASSEE
SUSAN Y. TANNER, author of 4 Trouble books
When I first met Carolyn Haines (aka prolific writer, force of nature, and creator of feline detective, Familiar), Trouble was just a gleam in his father’s eyes. My friendship with Carolyn grew through the years and one day she opened a conversation with all-too-familiar words. “I’ve got this great idea.” I literally ducked my head. Even so, Trouble was born. But…write contemporary? I’d only ever written historical. Write a mystery? I’d only ever published romance. Include a cat’s point of view? I’d definitely never done that. Plus, I hadn’t written or published in a long, long time. Could I still? Should I even try? “Sure,” I said. “Count me in.” Because I’m a horse person as well as a cat lover, my Trouble mysteries to-date have included both, from barrel racing to stunt riding with many a dead body scattered in between.
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Keep an eye out for Susan’s upcoming horse/Trouble adventure, TROUBLE ON THE TRAIL
CAROLYN HAINES—author of 3 Trouble books
I kicked off the series with FAMILIAR TROUBLE, a book that gives a nod to Trouble’s famous dad but also sets up his skills and talents, and the unique voice that makes these books so much fun to write, and hopefully read. Trouble is based on a wonderful cat I rescued, Coal Shaft Haines. The neighbors found him with his front leg through a leather collar. The leg had atrophied and gangrene was about to set in.
They didn’t want the cat so I took him to the vet. The wonderful Lynne agreed with me—we would not give up on the leg. Amputation would be a last resort.
I was teaching fiction writing at a university, and my students came out to help me with the 3 hours a day of physical therapy needed to try to break up the scar tissue in the leg, to clean the wounds to make sure the nerves and tendons could heal. Coal Shaft regained the full use of his leg and lived to be 14. He was remarkable and so smart and through all the ordeal, he never one single time attempted to bite or growl at any of his helpers. His spirit lives on in Trouble!
TROUBLE RESTORED is the 13th book in the series, and ALL proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Good Fortune Farm Refuge! I’ve also penned FAMILIAR TROUBLE and BONE-A-FIED TROUBLE where the black cat meets up with some characters from the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series in a Zinnia mystery.
Trouble is pulling me into the dark side of animal thieves and the young woman who dedicates her life to bringing these animals home. Look for it in 2022.
In other book news, Priya Bhakta, one of the officers of KaliOka Press, and I are working to get the Jexville Trilogy (SUMMER OF THE REDEEMERS, TOUCHED, and JUDAS BURNING) back in print. It’s a slog, I tell you. But they are coming!
I am trying to find time to write the next Pluto’s Snitch mystery. I really am trying. Life has just been very complicated lately.
I have tamed down three of the feral cats from my brother’s house. Precious, Blitz and Mr. Tab are doing great. Mr. Tab has a heart condition, so I watch him closely. Aleta Boudreaux, also with Good Fortune Farm Refuge, helped me catch Rachel and get her to the vet. She was in the sun room but so very, very feral. At last, though, she got some medicine for her allergies and she is looking and feeling much better. Alfie (the former kitty rapist) is doing great. Since he was neutered, his entire personality has changed and if I can catch him asleep, he loves to be petted. He’s still wary. Apollo, the golden Manx, is the tough nut. He still tries to swat my hand if I offer it to him. But he is not afraid of me. When I am preparing their wet food, he sneaks up behind me and bites my leg. Not hard. But he lets me know he finds me too slow! No tip for Carolyn!
Flicker is doing good after her bought with EPM, and Piper has lost 200 pounds! Yay! Both horses are insulin resistant and so this is a healthy development.
That’s the news from the farm and from me. I’ve had a lot of hard losses this year, but I’m writing every day. That’s my salvation in more ways than one.
I’m pleased to see Jackson Browne has a new album out. I haven’t listened to all of it yet, but what I’ve heard is fabulous. But here’s an oldie: Running on Empty (I love his music so much).
Until August! Keep good thoughts and push those hurricanes away.
Carolyn and the critters!
My teenage daughter graduated high school this year and she’s slated to leave for a university several hundred miles away very soon. She is brilliant and smart and talented and I am so proud of her. My daughter and her roommate are all vaccinated and have taken all precautions for a fun and healthy freshman year, but I am having trouble letting go. She is my heart, and while I want her to grow up and experience life, I also want to protect her from all the harms that can come her way. What do I do? How do I give her the room she needs and keep my heart from breaking?
Your letter hits hard at ole Jitty’s heart. I never got to see my chil’ren grow up—my man was killed in a war before we had a chance to have a baby. Then it was nothing but survival and fightin’ to scrap up enough to eat. But I watched Alice’s child grow up in the hardest of times, and I watched as she let him go to carve out his own life in a land devastated by hatred and hard times. Through the years, I’ve watched other children leave the nest, and it never gets easier. When Sarah Booth decided to boogie off to New York City to be an actress, I stewed and stewed about it. But there’s no stopping time. She had a dream and I had to let her go to follow it.
Today technology can be your best friend—just as long as you don’t overwhelm your daughter with calls and texts and so forth. The ability to step back is the mark of a truly loving parent. Young’uns learn from makin’ mistakes, so let that baby girl learn while she’s in a safe place.
My suggestions are to plan the next holiday, like Labor Day or Halloween. Make it a special date for the two of you if you’re able to drive to her school or vice versa. Meet her friends. Fill your time together with joy and activities that don’t smother her. But always leave a little time for her to bring her problems to you, if she has anything she wants to share.
She’ll be proud to show you off to her friends—and make them your friends. The thing that sustains us all through life comes from our friends and relationships. Show her what it means to have a healthy parental relationship with give and take. She’ll blossom and thrive and you’ll have more reason to be proud, and maybe still a little terrified.
P.S. For everyone reading this, let me guide you honey chile. Get some advice by writing me at Jitty@carolynhaines.com