This is My Feral Kitty Rose

This is my feral cat Rose. I usually feed her out in the yard. Last week I found her sitting patiently on the front porch. She deliberately made eye contact with me, and for a moment she was unafraid. She obviously had something to say.

“I am not a woodland animal,” she stated boldly, and glanced over her shoulder.

I followed her gaze. A doe munching on my rose bush looked up, she flicked her ears at me as a pink petal disappeared into her mouth.

“Saying that the yard is brimming with wildlife is an understatement,” Rose continued. “Do you know who I share my food with?”

Actually, I did. I’d set up a trail camera. But I didn’t want to interrupt her.

“Possums, foxes, a greedy baby skunk, crows, sparrows, wasps, and ants. Not to mention Scrappers,” she said, rolling her eyes.

Scrappers is the neighbor’s cat. He lives with two very young children. Needless to say, he spends a lot of time in our yard.

“Then there are those I have to dodge just to get to the food. Two bucks, one doe, three raccoons, numerous squirrels, and that creepy white cat that only shows up at night. I’m not sure if she’s real or a ghost.”

Rose continued to point, and the claw on her index toe popped out for emphasis. “Along with twenty three black widows, twelve lizards, more gophers than is possible to count.” She lowered her paw. The next line came out as a hiss. “And a bobcat.” She looked at me with distaste. “From now on I’d like to have breakfast and dinner served to me on the front porch.” She gave me a slow blink. “Please.”

After our initial interaction Rose reverted to her feral self, she never makes eye contact, she runs when I come outside, usually waiting to eat until the house is quiet. But she said her peace and I got the message. And if she doesn’t finish her dinner, the baby skunk will happily eat the remains. But, at least these days, she’s getting the lion’s share.

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When in Rome
A few years back we planted grapevines along the fence in the front yard.
I’m very pleased that this year there are enough grapes for both the raccoons and us.


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Chanticleer Book Reviews

Grand Theft Death is best read when you need a break from reality. Don’t read it if your two feet are firmly placed in all things serious. In fact, don’t read it if you are even thinking of going to the serious side of life. This book is as realistic as a Saturday morning cartoon – and twice the fun.

The characters are delightfully quirky, the situation fun and surprising, and the action as snappy as popping corn. The heroine, Patty Schuster, is kind, sincere, wry, and unique, at the same time so easygoing that she can roll with the endless punches the plot throws at her and carry on with a good heart.

Good thing, since the plot treats Patty like a punching bag.

She starts out in jail, falsely arrested for car theft, then gets tangled up with thieves, spies, forgers, smugglers, bad cops, good cops, sleazy hoteliers, double-crossing gangsters, nosy neighbors, felonious grannies, and divorcing parents—not to mention murder of the friend in trouble she tried to help, which led to her arrest.

Meanwhile, she’s trying to learn the antique business she inherited from her grandmother. Being a fine artist and a surfer, Patty has zero knowledge of furniture and collectibles. However, she needs income and was unhappy as a graphic artist, so she’s motivated to keep the enterprise alive despite the nuttiness going on around her.

It’s harder to keep herself alive, given trouble she gets into. Most of it revolves around the rare, valuable Cadillac she was accused of stealing, and which keeps getting re-stolen by half the cast while the other half tries to get it back or figure out what’s going on or save each other’s skin. This gives the feel of the Keystone Cops scrambling through a Doris Day comedy, with Patty as the naive “straight man.” In the middle of it all, she meets a nice fellow who adds the possibility of romance if she can get out of the mess she’s in.

Whichever way you take the humor, you’ll find the writing smooth and Patty’s voice appealing. It gives her credibility in a lunatic world. The novel is billed as a “Salty Sister” mystery—a name that makes sense by the end—and is first in Philipp’s Salty Sisters series. Readers whose funny bones are tickled by zany capers will be lining up for the next volume.

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Chanticleer Mystery & Meyhem Award

1st Place Winner

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Grand Theft Death finalist in Humor Category!

Grand Theft Death made the finalist list in the Humor Category for the Mystery & Mayhem Awards through Chanticleer Book Reviews! Read all about it here.


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Publishers Weekly Reveiw of Grand Theft Death

This is all very exciting. Publishers Weekly has reviewed Grand Theft Death, through – their Independent Publishers division. Here’s their take:

“Philipp’s tongue is firmly in cheek in this goofy, entertaining series debut. Graphic artist Patricia Schuster, who has hit a professional dead end, gets a chance to start over when she inherits her grandmother’s house and antique business in Lakeville, a short distance north of San Francisco. But when Patricia drives a drunken friend home without knowing her friend’s car has been reported stolen, she gets arrested for stealing it. This humiliation turns into something more complex when her friend drowns in a swimming pool. Aided by some of her late grandmother’s close friends, including the widow of a mobster, Patricia plays gumshoe while falling for the hunky son of the officer who arrested her. The ending is a bit over the top, but Philipp’s light touch and the endearing romantic subplot bode well for the sequel. (BookLife)”

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Bocce Ball to Bocce Gardens

Our Sebastopol house came with a Bocce Ball court in the front yard. So for the last six years John and I have debated what to do with this area. Buying Bocce balls and learning how to play never made the list.

John wanted a Bellagio type fountain.

Bellagio Fountains

Bellagio Fountains

Sprays of water shooting into the air, with wild gaudy colored lights. On the weekends we’d add music. Our brainstorming always ended with the phrase ‘enough to annoy the neighbors.’ We like our neighbors, so why annoying them played into the equation, I’m not sure.

I wanted to hire Patrick Amiot to sculpt a Loch Ness Monster type creature, based on this dragon from Dennis the Menace Park—my childhood playground. We’d fill the Bocce Ball court with some type of blue-green glistening material, and the great metal creature—named Nessie—would snake above and below our artificial water line.

Dragon at Dennis the Menace

Dragon at Dennis the Menace

A few days ago, John said, “Why don’t we put raised beds in the Bocce Ball court?” And I loved the idea. So we poked at the calculator for a few hours. In a case like this, it’s measure one hundred times, and buy once—that refers to cinder blocks and dirt—especially dirt.

John Building Beds

John Building Beds




Here’s John building the beds. He came up with the name Bocce Gardens.



Baocce Gardens

Bocce Gardens Empty Beds

And here’s Nessie, small but cute.

Nessie On Brick

Nessie On Brick

Thanks to [email protected] for the Dennis the Menace Picture.

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The Next Big Thing

Ana Manwaring tagged me for The Next Big Thing, a blog chain where authors blog about what’s coming next. Ana’s just finished her great Narco-thriller, Zihuatanejo, set in Mexico. This is a five star book, with a fast paced story, intriguing and sexy characters placed it a world you’d love to visit. Check out her blog Building a Better Story.

It feels a bit premature to be talking about my next book, when the digital ink for Grand Theft Death is barely dry. But I’m receiving questions about the second book in my Salty Sister Mystery Series, so here goes:

The Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book? The Zucchini Fairy Murder

Where did the idea come from for the book? I’m inspired to write by what makes me laugh. The title comes from the prolific nature of zucchini and the desperation of those blessed with such abundance. Bingo plays a major part in this book because when someone yells ‘Bingo!’ inevitably someone else immediately yells ‘Shit!’ Also small dogs, I love them, but seriously, they’re hilarious.

What genre does your book fall under? Cozy Mystery.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I’ve imagined Jenna Elfman as Patricia because she’s tall and does a great straight woman while those around her are crazy. Unfortunately, she’s a little old for the part now. Sorry, Jenna.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A young surfer woman hunts down the killer of a postal carrier with the help of four woman in their golden years who play fast and loose with the law.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I’ve been working on it for over a year. I’m half way through. Think tortoise, not hare.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Even though it contains a murder, it’s funny, and it won’t give you nightmares, unless you have a squash phobia, then I’d advise you not to read it.

And the Blog Chain marches on:
Frances Caballo will continue The Next Big Thing blog chain. Frances is a social media trainer and strategist with more than 23 years of communications experience. Presently, she is the Social Media Editor for the Women’s National Book Association-Francisco Chapter and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association.

Frances specializes in social media training for users of all levels; sets up and manages social media marketing accounts for clients; provides coaching on clients’ social media marketing platforms; and blogs for clients. Her newest book is Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books.

Check out her blog at:

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Grand Theft Death is here!

Grand Theft Death is here! Available at Amazon for your Kindle.

Patricia Schuster acquires both independence and furniture polish after inheriting her grandmother’s house and antique business. Her new life in the Northern California town of Lakeville is in jeopardy, however, when she is falsely arrested for stealing a rare 1950’s Cadillac and is blackmailed by Jimmy, a toothpick-wielding used-car salesman. When the real car thief ends up dead, she turns to her grandmother’s friends—four women in their golden years who play fast and loose with the law. But how far over the line will Patricia have to go to find a killer and clear her name?

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