Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finally! I'm a Real Author! by Julie Hyzy

Born and raised in Chicago, Julie Hyzy knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she was old enough to hold a pencil. But life kept her busy and it wasn't until about 2002 she was able to make writing a priority. Now, the author of several award-winning short stories, Julie has also won awards and critical acclaim for many of her novels.

Julie writes the White House Chef Mysteries, featuring Ollie Paras who feeds the First Family and saves the world in her spare time. The first book in that series, State of the Onion, won an Anthony Award and a Barry Award at Bouchercon in 2009. The novel also garnered a Lovey (Love is Murder Readers' Choice Award).

Julie's newest series - the Manor of Murder Mysteries - begins with Grace Under Pressure which earned a *starred* review in Publshers Weekly.

Julie's books include:
Artistic License (standalone romantic suspense)

Alex St. James series:
Deadly Blessings
Deadly Interest

White House Chef Mysteries:
State of the Onion
Hail to the Chef
Eggsecutive Orders
Buffalo West Wing (January 2011)

Manor of Murder Mysteries:
Grace Under Pressure

Please visit Julie's website at

Finally! I’m a Real Author!
by Julie Hyzy

I started writing when I was about six years old. My mom, bless her soul, saved quite a few of my first attempts at novel writing and they are the source of much hilarity around my house these days. My kids—trying to make me feel good?—have even said that maybe, if I ever get really famous, these folded-notebook-paper tales (with accompanying artwork!) will be worth something someday. Gee, thanks, kids!

But… I didn’t feel like a real author at age six. Nor at age eleven, even when I started writing my Mary King Mystery stories. Watch out, Nancy Drew, I thought. I planned to be published by the time I was twelve.

Didn’t happen.

My first real novel came out in 2004. Although I’m still quite proud of it, it had quite a few flaws. And I learned a lot. Still… one novel… did that make me a real author? Nope.

Something was missing. Something big.

Fast forward: Here I am in the middle of 2010, and my eighth book, Grace Under Pressure, was released last week. Finally, I feel like a real author! But not because of the new book’s release. Nope. It’s because in the fall of 2009 I finally achieved something momentous. And I’ll bet you can guess what that is…

I got a cat.

Everybody knows that writers and cats go together. Especially mystery writers and cats. But even when I was little I knew there would be no felines in my future. My dad said, “No cats!” and when I got married, my husband said, “No cats!” How could I ever be a real writer with such limitations?

From the time we were married my husband let it be known that we would never have a cat in our house. His family hated them and he professed to hate them too (note the use of the word: “professed”). My cat requests became a bit of a joke because we knew that it was probably the only argument he consistently won. And that made him feel very good.

Every six months or so, I’d remind him of his ongoing triumph and we’d have an interchange that went something like this:

“I’m a writer, I need a cat. Can we get one?”
“Okay, you win.”

Dogs are great. I love dogs and when our beloved lab/mix, K’Ehleyr (it’s Klingon) left us last summer, I was devastated. No more pets, I vowed. It hurts too much when you lose them.

It was about that point I decided to stop my humorous pleas for a cat. Just wasn’t funny anymore.

And that’s when Kitka entered our lives.

My middle daughter happened across two sister strays up at school. She couldn’t keep them up there and none of the overcrowded local shelters would take them. My eldest daughter adopted the all-black one, but that left the tiny tuxedo cat we’d named Kitka (from the original Adam West Batman movie). My husband and I agreed to keep Kitka for a week until our daughter could find her a home. 

That was last September…

Now Kitka sits on my lap as I type, crawls into an empty box atop my desk for afternoon naps, and paws pitifully at the door when I close it to take important phone calls. She’s a cutie and I’m nuts about her. My husband, the professed cat-hater, rassles with her when he gets home at night, pets her on his lap as we watch TV and constantly says, “I didn’t know cats were so friendly. I didn’t know they had personalities.” Of course, he has been known to call Kitka by another name: Pita-cat. Pita being short for pain-in-the—youknowwhat. To be fair, Kitka can get into trouble… but most of the time even the trouble makes us laugh.

So thank you, Kitka! Finally, finally, I’m a real author. And now I even feel qualified enough to give one of my protagonists a cat as a pet. If you pick up Grace Under Pressure, you’ll meet Grace. But it isn’t until her next adventure, the one I’m writing right now, that you’ll meet Bootsie…

Woo-hoo! I’m a real author now!


Mason Canyon said...

What a beautiful cat. Congratulations Julie on finally making as a 'real author.' :) Cats do have their own personality and can be a royal pain in the ".." but I wouldn't have it any other way. Best of luck with the new series.

Thoughts in Progress

Julie Hyzy said...

Thanks, Mason. She is pretty, isn't she? Who knew cats were this much fun? Thanks for the good wishes!


Barb Goffman said...

Congrats on the new addition to your family, Julie. And on winning that argument! She's beautiful (even if she isn't a dog!).

Vicki Lane said...

Over the years I've shared a house with all sorts of cats but Miss Susie Hutchins --the tuxedo who lives with us now -- is one of the most charming cats I've known. Others have told me that tuxedos are known for their exceptionally nice temperaments.

Lesa said...


What a great blog! I was waiting for some great revelation as to why you were a real author. What a hoot!

Aren't cats wonderful? And, they all have their own personalities. They're individuals, and it's fun to get to know them.

So, that makes for a real author, huh? I'm so glad you made it, Julie!

Julie Hyzy said...

Hi Barb! - Thanks! She is such a cutie! Now I have to come up with a new argument for my husband to always win. Any suggestions?

Hi Vickie - I've heard the same thing about tuxedo cats. Of course, that wasn't until Kitka came to live with us. The vet said that tuxedos are usually extremely sweet-tempered and intelligent. Heck, I didn't even know there was such a term as "tuxedo cat" but it's fitting.

Hi Lesa - Yep, Kitka is just what I needed to finally feel as though I deserve the title "author"! And we're so lucky that our first cat (note the word: "first*) is such a honey. Thanks for stopping by here today!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Kitka is gorgeous! Loved your blog and your books too. Thanks for making me smile today.

Mark Murphy said...

Kitka looks a lot like Perky, who often perches on my lap and tries (often far too successfully) to gouge me as I try to get work done. I'll show her Kitka's picture next time she "visits" and see how she reacts. In the meantime, I got my copy of Grace Under Pressure the other day. Congrats!

Lisa said...

Cats are awesome, and Kitka is so cute. I don't know what I'd do without Hamish purring next to me when I'm reading. They are good company.

Melissa Emerald said...

Great article. I'm glad you finally got your cat. Kitka is a beauty! I love the photo of her stretching out on the rug.

I had a black and white that I was attached to at the lap for 13 years. If he was a human, he'd have been my soulmate. He's been gone since 2001 and I've had another cat since. Maybe, one of these days, after my pooch (who does not play well with others) crossed the Rainbow Bridge it will be time to bring another feline into the family.

Julie Hyzy said...

Hey MJ! Thanks for stopping by!

Mark - so nice to "see" you! Thanks for picking up Grace Under Pressure and I'm happy to hear you have Perky to keep you company with your writing.

Lisa - I love the name Hamish. Have you read the Ian Rutledge novels by Charles Todd? Pretty excellent!

Melissa - I like that phrase "Crossing the Rainbow Bridge." I may have to borrow that!

Shel said...

Kitka is so pretty, but I knew that already. Glad she made you into a "real" author, I'd hate to think you've been a figment of my imagination all this time!

Judy Bobalik said...

I was not a cat person. Then we moved into a house with mice. I got a cat from a friend with a farm and this cat was fabulous. Felix made me a cat lover. 7 cats later... btw, our second cat was named Miss Marple and the name fit. The nosiest animal on the planet.

Julie Hyzy said...

LOL - Shel. I like that idea about being a figment of someone's imagination. Kinda has a neat woo-woo feel to it.

Judy - how fun! Seven cats later? Wow! I'm impressed! And you have a cat named Miss Marple? Lorna Barrett has a Miss Marple kitty in her Booktown Mystery series. Great minds think alike, I guess!

Julie Hyzy said...

Oh no!! I just noticed I added an "e" to Vicki's name when I commented earlier! My apologies, Vicki! I know another "Vickie" really well and I just defaulted to that spelling. I'm sorry!


Ashley Ziemer said...

What a cute cat! My cat is black as well with a tiny white patch on her stomach. She loves to lay on my lap, as close to the heat of the computer as possible, with her head rested on my laptop. Though I love when she cuddles (since it's rare and on her time), it is not always convenient. :)

Congrats on the new cat and the new book! It's on my wishlist!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

What a beautiful cat! And yes, they are endlessly hilarious. Congratulations on the wonderful reviews--besides a cat, of course, they're another good writer thing to have. xoxo

Eleanor Andrews said...

Julie, you have a lovely kitty! Congrats! You've finally made it!

Shane Gericke said...

And, everyone knows you can't let a husband win an argument ALL the time or he'll start thinking he can win, well, all the time. And that just won't do!

Great blog, and I like the picture a lot. Is that a wordfall right behind you, Julie?

Thanks, Kaye, for sharing Julie with all of us. She's a treasure. You too, for all you do for us writers.

Laineshots said...

Kitka is simply beautiful! Yep, you're a real mystery author now (what were you when you were enthralling me with the White House Chef books? Nice job of impersonation)!

Your husband sounds like mine, and your arguments like ours. Our ongoing one, which he always wins, is: "Honey, can I drive this time?" "No." "Okay."

Julie Hyzy said...

Hi Ashley - very true... they cuddle when it suits them, and that is *rarely* convenient for me. Thanks for putting Grace on your wishlist!

Hank! - Major congrats! I've lost count now on all your nominations! You must be flying high! I'm so happy and excited for you!! Woo-hoo!


Julie Hyzy said...

Thanks Eleanor! Yep! I'm feeling genuine now!

Hey Shane! Good to see you here! "Wordfall" - I love it! LOL Looking forward to the release of Torn Apart!

Laineshots - *great* argument to let him win. I'll try to remember that one. Although he might give in and let me drive after all LOL. Glad you think my author impersonations worked. Whew! All those years I tried really hard not to let anyone know that I was writing cat-less! *grin*


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Well, how fun!!! Julie, this is a terrific post and Kitka is gorgeous!

Donald and I both miss having kitties and have had them all of our married life until just a couple years ago. Harley, however, does not play well with others.

Thank you so much for taking the time to play with us here at Meanderings and Muses, and I hope you'll come back.

Everyone? Thanks for stopping by!! Happy Friday - Happy Weekend.

I'm looking forward to the weekend - I'm going to spend it reading Julie's newest - GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. Yay!!

Julie Hyzy said...

Thank you so much for having me here, Kaye. It has been such a pleasure to be part of your blog for these past couple of days. I truly appreciate it!! Hope you enjoy meeting Grace!