Wednesday, January 13, 2016

No cats were harmed...

Cats! Why did it have to be cats?
By Alison Bruce

First off, I’d like to say that no real cats were harmed in the making of this book. I love cats…even though I’m allergic to them. Only a strong sense of self-preservation stops me from bringing home every stray (cat or dog) I meet.

It’s the cozies that are to blame. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read my share of Lillian Jackson Braun and other cozy authors with series that have cats who assist amateur sleuths or at least soothed them on bad days. Most of the cats I know are more likely to compromise evidence than find it, but I’m not dissing the genre. My intention was to put a twist on the modern cozy by making the cats the victims rather than the detectives.

Someone is killing the cats in East Hills and leaving them on the doorsteps of their owners. The police have investigated but they can’t give the case much time. Carmedy & Garrett are called. Specifically, Chief Thorsen calls in his goddaughter and former rookie detective Kate Garrett because he knows she won’t refuse the case.


Violent death was never pleasant. The cold hadn’t diminished the smell of blood, piss and stool—or if it had, I didn’t want to think about it.

A dart, the kind animal control officers use in their rifles, was sticking into the ribs. Instead of delivering a tranquillizer, its payload was poison. The feathery stabilizer at the end was red and green. Very seasonal.

“Do we know what the poison is, Chief?”

“Looks like cyanide. Samples were taken from the last victim. I’ll let you know when the latest batch have been processed and compared.”

Igor Thorsen, Chief of Detectives and my godfather, bent down and offered me his hand. I let him pull me out of the crouch I had been sustaining for several minutes while I examined the body. I didn’t need the help, but it was a warm gesture on a cold night.

“I could use your help on this, Kathleen. People are getting nervous but I can hardly free up a detective for a serial cat-killer. I can authorize support services for a week and the East Hills Neighbourhood Group will pay your fees.”

I stripped off my gloves and ran my fingers through my hair, pushing back the auburn strands that had blown into my face. Time for a cut. Or maybe not. I didn’t have to keep up the uniform code for keeping hair short or worn up.

I looked up at the Chief. Way up. And I’m not short. Or particularly tall.

I nodded.

My name is Kate Garrett. Up until recently, I had been a rookie detective in the violent crimes unit. The chief was my boss. Almost one month ago my father, the Joe Garrett of Garrett Investigations, was killed in a pedestrian-vehicle incident. Now I was the Garrett of Carmedy and Garrett Investigations.

Last month I was a homicide detective. Now I was a pet P.I.?

An Imajin Qwickies™ Mystery/Crime Novella

A Carmedy & Garrett Mini-Mystery #1

By Alison Bruce
Imajin Books
November 2015

Last month Kate Garrett was a Police Detective. Now she’s a Pet P.I.?

Kate recently inherited half her father’s private investigation company and a partner who is as irritating as he is attractive. Kate has been avoiding Jake Carmedy for years, but now her life might depend on him.

"This is a gripping, edge of your seat whodunit. The fact that the victims were cats made it all the more intriguing." Amazon Review

"This book had a great mixture of humor, clever quips and mystery." Amazon Review
"Although this book is a Mini-Mystery, which does not take long to read, it leaves one wanting more, to continue with the characters and find out what is going to happen next with Kate and company." - Kobo Review

Available at:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Night the Bed Fell on Mother

I don't think I have ever laughed harder than the first time I read The Night the Bed Fell by James Thurber. (You can go read the story yourself by following the link, but wait until you've finished my story first. Thurber is too hard an act to follow.)

Just as an aside, the one part I didn't laugh very hard at was when he described the female relative who was afraid of electricity leaking from open sockets. Given that the poor woman came into a world of kerosene lamps and saw the advent of both gaslight and electrical wiring, her fear was quite reasonable. Besides, I've always suspected she was right.

I should also confess that the title of this post is misleading. I have had a bed fall on me, but I wasn't a mother at the time. Nine months later maybe, but not then.

It started with my son needing a new bed. The bunk bed of his youth no longer fit him. Buying a bed is a huge expense that requires the kind of research usually reserved for picking out a car or gynecologist. Since it was important to get the best value (cheapest mattress) possible, I delegated the task to my oldest son who got all the frugal genes going around, leaving none for his younger brother. He found such a good deal, I decided to replace the grungy futon mattress that I had bought back in my student days and looked like a prop for a CSI episode.

To fit my growing boy's long body, we needed to buy a queen-sized bed. The frame arrived last week and the mattresses arrived yesterday. Naturally, my son didn't start cleaning his room until the day before yesterday and did finish until mid-afternoon after the mattress arrived. While my sons deconstructed the Ikea bunk bed (after opening every box of the new frame to find an Allen key, I put my back out switching my double-sized mattresses. About the time I was settled in my chair with a hot bag, coffee and Naproxen, there was a clatter so loud I was reminded of Thurber's story.

But that's not why I'm writing this.

I inherited an almost new double bed from my father. He and my mother shared a king-sized bed when she was alive. My kids (a toddler and infant at the time) and I shared the bed when we first moved in with my father, shortly after my mother died and immediately after my common-law marriage fell apart with my caesarian-section wound. When we moved to a place where the kids could have their own beds, we replaced Dad's king with a double.

He might have slept on the bed a half-dozen times, tops. One of the reasons we could take over his bedroom, back when, was because he usually slept in his chair. That's how I inherited an almost new bed from my father. I didn't like his mattress, so I put my futon on top. When I got my new mattress, I took off the futon and put the new one on top... bringing me up in the world.

I should have known there would be trouble when I climbed into bed. A step stool would have been helpful. Still, once I finally got settled, the mattress was wonderfully comfortable. I slept like a baby until I woke up at 5 am to pee. As I rolled out of bed, my feet had trouble finding the floor. Then everything hit the floor including my laptop table, laptop, glasses, the all important painkillers and me.

I'm surprised my kids slept through the cacophony. I was pretty loud when I landed on my knee. Now I'm going to take my life in my hands again and try to get back to sleep. First I'll move my bedside desk and little further away...and maybe put on knee pads.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Let it Be Resolved

I'm eating the gummy candy from my stocking. The package says "Made with real fruit juice." I'm not exactly sure what fruit went into one shaped like an ice cream cone, but the pineapple did taste like pineapple. However, if the shapes are any indication, I've also eaten a truck, an alarm clock and a saw--which tasted lemony.

You know what this means, of course. All the chocolates are gone. It must be New Year. (Or Boxing Day in the case of my kids.) Time for New Year's Resolutions.

I came across and few from The Fussy Librarian Newsletter to get me started
1. Resolve to be grateful that your job encourages the collecting of imaginary friends.
2. Refine your editing skills at the expense of negative reviews. “You’re book sucked”? Really?
3. Use social media and the Internet for marketing, not procrastinating. (Not that we ever struggle with that, boss ... ) People like Fussy want to quote your fans and tag you in posts, after all!
4. Thank those who help you, whether they’re collaborators like editors, designers, or writing group members; supporters, like loved ones and readers; or fuel for your desire to succeed, like naysayers.
Resolutions #1 and #4 are easy. I started writing to keep the imaginary friends straight in my head. Otherwise they tended to go off on tangents, dragging me along with them. If not for my support crew, my stories would still be trapped in notebooks and filling boxes instead of bookshelves. (Okay, bookshelf so far.)

Resolution #2 is a constant work in progress. From the time my sister reduced me to tears of laughter by reading exactly what I wrote on the page, I have resolved to improve my writing and editing skills. Check out my website and you will see that I am a professional copywriter, editor and designer. I've even been a micro-publisher in the past (too much paperwork). I am constantly working on improving my skills for clients and myself.

Resolution #3 is tough, but not as tough for me as some people. My procrastination activities are different.
  • Dishes and other housework. It is perfectly reasonable to want a clean house, right? Well, I only have one when I want a legitimate reason not to work on something else... usually editing my own writing.
  • Driving my kids to stuff. I am more likely to make them walk or take the bus if I'm on a roll. If I'm not, I volunteer my services.
  • Whatever work isn't as urgent as the thing I'm supposed to be doing. I'm very contrary. Whenever I'm editing (my own stuff) I have a burning desire to get ahead on Cool Canadian Crime. Whenever I have a deadline looming for CCC or another client job, I have a burning desire to get back to my WIP. 
"Stop procrastinating" is a resolution I make every year and seem to always put off. (BTW, is this blog considered writing or procrastination?)

Resolutions are great but they have a limited shelf life. It's a bit like buying all your milk on New Year's Day and expecting it to last 12 months. This year I'm going to have TO DO lists.

The TO DO list is essential if, like me, you work for multiple clients including yourself and your publishers. Some items are one-off. They especially need to be there because they are easy to get drowned in the routine tasks otherwise. Other tasks are cyclical. (Once upon a time "that time of the month" meant my period. Now it's when Crime Beat has to go out with all its associated parts.) And there are the ongoing tasks--the ones you really need to keep reminding yourself to work on.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Keep up with the chores like dishes, dusting and marketing my books.
I know I won't totally give up procrastinating but today I'll put it off until later.