Monday, June 24, 2013

A Cat by Any Other Name with Guest Author Lois Winston

My guest today is author Lois Winston, aka Emma Carlyle, who continues my Adopt a Cat Month focus with tales/tails of cats in Lois's life and in her books.Welcome back, Lois! ~ Sheila

A Cat by Any Other Name

by Lois Winston 

Shortly after my husband and I became a couple, a stray cat wandered onto our friends’ property and gave birth to a litter of kittens. When Mama Cat subsequently lost her life to a speeding car, we became the proud adoptive parents of two kittens from that litter. We named one Bulldog McNurkle and the other Grayface. For the life of me, I can’t remember the reason behind the names. Stranger still, Grayface somehow morphed into Frog. 
Bulldog, Lois, & Frog
Like all babies, no matter the species, kittens are not born with fully developed motor skills. This fact was made clear to me one day while I was taking a bath. Frog nosed open the bathroom door, jumped up onto the tub ledge, and proceeded to loose his footing, falling into the water. Before I could scoop him up, he used my back as a ladder to climb his way out. I think I still have scars from his claws. 
While still kittens, one of Bulldog’s and Frog’s favorite pastimes was to race across the living room, take a flying leap, and claw up our drapes. One day my husband and I came home from work to find the drapes in shreds. The cats had grown too heavy for the fabric to support their weight. 
Another time we arrived home to find defrosted pork chops sitting on the living room floor. Because we had a galley kitchen open to the living room, I used to put frozen food in the spare bedroom to defrost. On that particular day, I apparently hadn’t made sure the door was securely latched. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after the bathtub incident. 
Unfortunately, after several years of progressively worsening allergies that eventually caused me to develop bronchial asthma, we found it necessary to find new parents for our boys. Cats haven’t been part of our family for many years, yet they often play a role – usually a comical one – in my fiction. 
In my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, my protagonist’s much-married mother claims to descend from Russian royalty. Her extremely corpulent white Persian cat is named Catherine the Great. And believe me, she’s every inch the reincarnation of her namesake – proud, regal, demanding, and not one to suffer fools – or dogs – lightly. This causes all sorts of mayhem in the Pollack household where Mama is forced to share a bedroom with Anastasia’s communist mother-in-law and her dog, aptly named Manifesto. Catherine the Great and Manifesto get along as well as their two owners. In other words, they fight like...well, like cats and dogs. Or Russian royalty and Bolsheviks. 
You’ll find Catherine the Great strutting her stuff in all three of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries – Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, Death by Killer Mop Doll, and Revenge of the Crafty Corpse. 
In Hooking Mr. Right, a romantic comedy I wrote under my Emma Carlyle pen name, you’ll find Cu (short for Cupid,) a punk-rock looking alley cat.
After writing a doctoral thesis that exposed fraud in the pop-psychology genre, thirty-two year old professor Althea Chandler has to sacrifice her professional integrity to save her family from financial disaster. She secretly becomes best-selling romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy, a self-proclaimed expert on how to catch a man, even though Thea’s a miserable failure when it comes to relationships – especially those with the opposite sex.
Burned by a failed marriage, Luke Bennett finds himself pursued by Dr. Lovejoy toting women after a gossip columnist dubs him New York’s most eligible bachelor. When he at first mistakes Thea for one of the women out to snare him, sparks fly, but the two soon find themselves battling sparks of a less hostile nature, thanks in part to the aforementioned alley cat. 
Luke believes he’s finally found an honest woman. Unfortunately, Thea is anything but honest. She’s got more secrets than the CIA and a desperate gossip columnist out to expose her. Cupid definitely has his work cut out for him, but like all cats, he’s got a mind of his own. And he’s not about to let human stubbornness stand in the way of a happy ending.

Bio: Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. She’s also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Lois is also an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. Visit her at, visit Emma at, and visit Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog,


  1. What a shame you had to rehome Bulldog and Frog - great names, by the way. I'm more of a dog person and have two rescue dogs that I brought back to the UK from Greece - Nanos and Roma. One's an absolute princess, the other a absolute scruff. Very Lady and the Tramp! x

  2. Yes, it was a shame, Suzie. As for your dogs, they do say opposites attract, right? Is there a possibility of a scruffy princess in the future?

  3. Hi Lois
    Enjoyed your anecdotes. I am a cat lover and have introduced cats into several of my stories. Esperance (French for hope)is a cat who helps the hero of Passion in the Blood hold on to his sanity when he is cruelly imprisoned in solitary confinement. In my latest novel, Haunted Knights, I have a brindled cat named Topaz after my own dear cat who died suddenly while I was writing the manuscript.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Anna. So sorry to hear about Topaz. It's never easy when one loses a beloved pet.

  5. Loved the cat stories. One of my cats has shredded one corner of the bed mattress while ignoring the scratching post that stands two feet away. And both of them want to eat from the other's food bowl (they each get different food). Argh! Gotta love them, though.

  6. Hi Sally. I think cats instinctively know we want them to use the scratching post, and that's why they find something else to use instead. It's all about power and letting us know who's really in control.

  7. Yeah, there are tons of stray cats in Greece. And Turkey. I was just there (where I could watch the riots from my hotel room window) and longed to bring home some of the poor stray kitties I saw--and fed.

  8. Ouch! Shredded skin and curtains - I remember those days so well! Mine has now (finally) learnt to retract her claws on delicate surfaces, but I also still have the scars to show what a long, hard lesson that was.

    I love it when cats creep into stories (they invariably do in mine despite all my efforts to keep the door closed).

    Love the sound of your stories and have one on my soon-to-be-read list. Oh, if only I had nine lives, maybe I'd finally catch up on all my reading. >^.^<

  9. Our pets -- be they kitties or puppies -- are just like our children. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Rebecca, I'll bet you have some stories to tell. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be in the middle of those riots.

    ManicScribbler, hope you enjoy whichever book it is you have on your soon-to-be-read list.

    Angela, the difference between raising pets and raising kids is that the pets are more obedient--even the cats!

  11. Mystery writers (myself included) do seem to favor cats, both in and out of their fiction. I think it's because cats ARE so mysterious. They love you but they're also independent; they sit for long periods gazing out a window or into space, but with an alert, intelligent expression that makes you wonder what the heck they're thinking about. In my new book DARK MUSIC, I gave the heroine a cat with the same name as one of mine--Bela, as in Lugosi. However, my cat is all black and I decided to give her a "tuxedo cat," black with a white shirtfront and paws. I thought maybe that fit the name even better, and also made it more a fictionalized version of my cat.
    -- E.F. Watkins,

  12. I think you have something there, E.F. Cats are very mysterious creatures. However, I'm an equal opportunity mystery author. My series contains a cat, a dog, and a talking parrot.

  13. Love Cats and novels with cats! From "Franklin Flyer's cat" by Nicholas Christopher (Archimedes) to the Cat Who novels by Lillian Jackson B.

    We even brought our two cats along with us sailing the PNW. They did great - especially on evening watches.