Welcome to The Engrafted Word Cindy! I am so excited to introduce you to our readers and to talk about the amazing books you have written. This is such a joy for me.

Congratulations on your recent book too! I read Yes, Carol…It’s Christmas last December, and it was the perfect holiday story to add to my Christmas reading list.

Hello, Heather, and congratulations to you and Savanna on your new venture! And wow, I love the name The Engrafted Word. It’s terrific! I am so honored to be the first author that you’re interviewing for your new website. Thank you for having me here today!

Growing up, I remember watching shows like Murder She Wrote and films based on Agatha Christie stories.  Mysteries became my favorite genre to read, and I have enjoyed reading your books.  How did you decide that you wanted to become a mystery writer?

Heather, I think you and I are kindred spirits when it comes to mysteries. 🙂 I’m still a fan of “all things Agatha Christie,” as well as the Murder, She Wrote series and books. But I grew up reading the Trixie Belden series and I remember how hard it was for me to wait for the next installment. I treasured those books. As an adult, though I ended up working for a magazine and writing plenty of non-fiction articles, my heart truly belonged to the mystery world. I enjoy the challenge of solving a good mystery, and I especially love to delve into a book without having any clue as to what the ending might be. Plus, mysteries typically involve some quirky characters, which I think only adds to the fun.

But if I thought I enjoyed reading mysteries, it’s nothing compared to writing them! In order to write a good mystery, the author plays sort of a hide-and-seek game with the reader. Clues and motivations for each character are doled out little by little, with plenty of red herrings to muddy the waters. Of course, the real clues are always disguised and usually seem to be meaningless. In the end, all the pieces of the puzzle must add up, which means that a mystery novel must be well plotted. And I think that is one of my favorite aspects of all—plotting everything out in advance and putting all the pieces together before I start writing! Mystery writing offers an author so much leeway for creativity, and I absolutely love that aspect of the genre!

Writing takes so much time and research.  In fact, I believe as readers we sometimes forget how much love an author puts into his or her work.  As a writer, what has been your most rewarding and memorable moment?

From the joy of starting to write a new book to the happiness of seeing it in print, I have been blessed with more wonderful moments than I can count. But I think my most memorable moments come from connecting and conversing with my readers. I frequently host booths at annual book festivals and different venues, where I sign and sell my books. As a result, I also see customers coming back time after time to pick up the latest book in a series. And of course, that also allows me to get face-to-face feedback from them. This can be very surprising, especially when I hear that they’ve really taken to a lesser character. For instance, last weekend I talked to a woman who completely identified with a cat character in the Buckley and Bogey series named Hector. She asked that I bring him back in another book. Personally, I thought that was great information to get, since I didn’t know anyone was really responding to that character! Ha! And yes, I will bring Hector back, even if it’s only for a short appearance.

But the greatest joy of all for me is listening to what children have to say about my Buckley and Bogey books. They often tell me all about each character and what happened in the story (which is kind of cute since I wrote the book . . . Ha!). But it also tells me that these kids are reading and comprehending well, so I get to witness firsthand a number of kids who are excellent readers. And kids who can read well at an early age have a better shot at a fantastic future. Something that truly gives me hope!

Regarding your Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective books, was there a particular time when your own cats did something to spark that creative idea?

My real life cats, Buckley and Bogey, were the inspiration for this book and the series. We had adopted Bogey from a local animal shelter when he was a kitten, and he joined our household of three much older female cats. Of course, Bogey wanted to play 24/7, but the older girls had no intention of playing with him. And Bogey, having come from a litter of five boys, liked to wrestle and roughhouse. We soon realized that Bogey needed a brother, so we adopted Buckley from another animal rescue agency, and the two boys have been best friends and inseparable ever since.

As they seemed to explore our house together every night, we joked about them “running surveillance” to make sure the place was secure. That’s when the idea hit me—Buckley and Bogey Cat Detectives. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea, especially when I realized how very different the boys were. While they’re both black cats with gold eyes, Bogey is sleek and wiry, whereas Buckley is huge and fluffy. Bogey is laid back and fearless, and Buckley is anxious about pretty much everything. Bogey is the expert and Buckley is the rookie. Together their personalities play off each other beautifully, much like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson or Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. Only at a children’s level, and well, at a really adorable level, as both boys are such a joy, and happy to cuddle and purr at a moment’s notice.

As a writer, I know that my own ideas and abilities are not my own–they are God given.  I have been in awe and so grateful to see where the Lord has taken me in life.  Especially when I know certain events could not have transpired without His help.  Have there been any literary paths the Lord led you to that were surprising or changed your life in some way?

This is such a great question! Whenever I look back on the years and all the things that have led me to this moment, I can see God’s hand in all of it. And I do mean all of it. Good times and bad. But if I were to pinpoint a specific event, I think it would have to do with one of the few times that I deviated from writing mysteries and wrote a devotional book instead, called Cats are Part of His Kingdom, Too. It all started with one of our cats, Moose, who would more or less panic every night when it came to feeding time. Much to my amazement, he acted like I wasn’t going to feed him. Now, this cat had never gone a day in his life without food, and we’d never, ever missed feeding him at the appointed time. And even if we went out for the evening, we put the food down early. Or if we went on vacation, we had a pet-sitter feed him. So even though Moose didn’t have any reason to be anxious about being fed, he still was. I remember laughing one night and saying, “Moose, can’t you just have a little faith in me? You should know my now that I’m going to take care of you.”

And that’s when it hit me. It was exactly what God had been telling me all along. Why didn’t I have faith in Him when He’d given me every reason in the world to know that He would take care of me? Once I realized this very concept, I began to see it over and over with my cats. And the comparisons were uncanny. I did plenty of behind the scenes things for my beloved pets, things they could never comprehend, just like God does plenty of behind the scenes things for us, His children. So, finally, I put it all down in book format. What a blessing it turned out to be!

Writing can sometimes be discouraging, and it can be easy to want to give up.  What words of wisdom could you give to other authors to help them during the wonderful and tough times of writing?

First, I would say, always go back to your source. If God gave you this dream then God will see you through. So always pray and ask Him for guidance and strength to finish your next work. But keep in mind, even if you’re following your God-given dream and fulfilling your purpose in life, that doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days. That’s simply a part of the process. Plus, if you’re on the right path, the enemy will happily try to send you on a detour. So “put on the full armor of God” and keep on plugging away!

Also, keep in mind that, even though a writer might love their work, it is still work. I always laugh when I see authors portrayed on TV shows, such as Jessica Fletcher in the Murder, She Wrote series. (Even though I love that series . . .) Jessica is forever jetting off to exotic locations and attending elegant parties. But the truth is, a real writer would probably have to skip the party and the multiple vacations to finish a manuscript and hit their deadline. Real writers are more likely to be up half the night, in a bathrobe and PJ’s, working on a manuscript until they can’t see straight. While yes, there are plenty of fun moments, you’ll probably spend more time staring at your computer than out the window of an airplane. But I have to say, the work itself is sometimes its own reward!

And my last bit of advice? Enjoy your victories, even the little ones. Did you just finish writing an especially tough chapter? Relish the moment. Did you just figure out the last bit of your plotline? Give yourself a pat on the back and smile. It’s a gift that not everyone has been given!

Now you should give yourself a pat on the back, too, Heather, for starting your new website. It’s always so wonderful to connect with you! Thanks again for hosting me here today! I wish you all the best, and may God bless you now and always!

Thanks for joining us, Cindy! Wishing you ( and all you readers ) a blessed day!