I'm happy today to be spotlighting author
Kathy Manos Penn
Author of the Dickens & Christie Mysteries
Available September 2!
Picture me sitting serenely at my desk surrounded by my four-legged office assistants. The dog warms my feet, and the cat provides the purr-fict background music. I sip hot tea, sift through handwritten notes, and place fingers on the keyboard as thoughts take shape. Such is the joy of writing.
As a child, I took a book everywhere—to family dinners, to doctors’ offices, and of course to bed. Years later, a newspaper article inspired me to put pen to paper and submit my thoughts—my words—to the editor. Before I knew it, I was writing weekly columns and blogs. Then came a book co-written with my dog. (What? Doesn’t everyone do that?)
Now I’m living a dream I never knew I had—writing cozy animal mysteries featuring a dog and cat who converse with their owner. If a dog can write a book, surely animals can communicate. Naturally, my office assistants help with the dialogue. And, yes, they are angling to be listed as co-authors. ~ Kathy
By the way, if you can’t find me, I’m traveling in the UK doing research for my next mystery—don’t judge.
Purchase Link - https://www.amazon.com/Kathy-Manos-Penn/e/B01N5Q31FH?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1597243553&sr=8-1
Website - https://kathymanospenn.com/
LKBR: Thank you for joining us today, Kathy.
KMP: Thanks Lisa. I’m delighted to be here.
LKBR: Please tell us a bit about Bells, Tails & Murder, the first book in your Dickens & Christie cozy mystery series.
KMP: Leta Petkas Parker is the recently widowed main character. Still grieving, she decides to retire early and pursue a lifelong dream to retire to the Cotswolds. Off she goes with her talkative dog and cat—Dickens & Christie. And they really do talk—to her. She’s the only one who can understand them.
As she says, she’s making new friends and making her way.
When her dog Dickens stumbles across a dead body—Leta’s inner Nancy Drew is awakened. One call to her friend Wendy is all it takes to get the retired English teacher and her mum involved in solving a murder.
Who better to unearth clues in the village than two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat? The ladies dig up information from the humans and Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends. Before you know it, this unlikely team of sleuths ferrets out a long-buried secret . . .
LKBR: What are you plans for this series?
KMP: I’m having a ball writing it, and I can see myself continuing for several years. I think I’ll run out of steam long before my characters do! Book Two takes place in the fall and is aptly named Pumpkins, Paws & Murder. It includes a fall festival and a trip to Dartmouth, where the ladies visit Agatha Christie’s summer home. Book Three—Whiskers, Wreaths & Murder—comes out this month and involves the residents of the local manor house—an Earl and his family. I think Leta has plenty more tales to tell.
LKBR: Are you working on any new projects?
KMP: I’m about halfway through writing Book Four, title yet TBD, with early 2021 as the target publication date. I can tell you it takes place at a literary festival in a nearby village. All of my books include a book club meeting at the local bookshop, but including an entire festival about books and authors is even more fun for me.
LKBR: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
KMP: Now, that’s a good question. I majored in English because I liked to read, but in looking back, I enjoyed the writing too.
After teaching HS English for a few years, I shifted to corporate America, where my managers realized I could write—something I’d taken for granted. Can’t everyone write a clear sentence or paragraph? I didn’t have a communications job until about 25 years into my career, but if there was a speech, a blog, a manual or a presentation to be written, it got thrown my way.
Eventually, I landed a job with communications in the title, and on a lark, I also started writing a column for a small local paper. Writing fiction? Never would have pursued it if a few folks hadn’t suggested it. I was retired by then, so I went for it.
LKBR: Was getting your first book published everything you thought it would be? The feelings? The process?
KMP: Well, I almost can’t count the two initial books because the first was a collection of my newspaper columns and the second a short, humorous book written by my dog.
Let’s call Bells, Tails & Murder my first book. I had no idea what the experience would be like, but I can say it far exceeded any expectations I might have had. The joy I get from writing, reading reviews, and receiving emails from readers is indescribable.
LKBR: How did you handle it when changes were made to your first manuscript? I don’t have a thick skin, so I know how I would have felt.
KMP: I have, so far, been incredibly fortunate that the changes to my work have been minor. I suspect as my plots get more complex—as I see happening— the suggested changes will increase as well.
LKBR: What is your favorite part of being a writer?
KMP: Simply put, I live to write–whether it’s a newspaper column, a blog, or a book. My day is not complete unless I’ve spent at least a little time writing something fresh or editing words from another day. And, I think Eudora Welty said it best:
“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Flannery O’Connor
LKBR: Have you ever read a book that has stayed with you long after reading it?
KMP: Quite a few. In the ‘70s, it was The Women’s Room by Marilyn French. That one stayed with me for years. More recently, it was The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for several weeks.
LKBR: Why are reviews, good or bad, so important to authors?
KMP: On a purely personal note, I wouldn’t enjoy writing if I had no indication people were reading my words. Receiving emails from my column readers makes my day, and reading reviews on my books does the same. They tell me I’ve connected with my readers, that my words have made them happy or reflective.
From a career perspective, we authors are selling our work. Reviews are invaluable in helping us do that. They help prospective readers make informed decisions about buying our books.
LKBR: On what sites do you recommend readers leave their reviews?
KMP: Amazon is the most important, but Goodreads is a close second. A huge number of readers rely on both sites to choose their next read. I’d say BookBub is third. If a reader can write one review and paste it on all three sites, they’re doing an author a huge favor.
LKBR: If you could spend one hour with a reader, what would you want to talk about?
KMP: I’d like to hear how they feel about my characters. The villagers and the trio of main characters in my books have become my friends. How would they like to see them grow or develop? Would they like to meet them and become friends too? One reader wrote that Belle, the eldest character, reminded her of her grandmother. That made my day.
LKBR: Thank you so much Kathy for letting us get to know you better!
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