Notes from a parish cat and his author Julie Mackenzie

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I am Father Tom Fish, esteemed member of the religious team at Temptation of Christ Parish in the novels by author Julie Mackenzie. As to my background, I was invited into the rectory as a stray, laid on the charm, and was invited to stay, even honorarily ordained and no less spiritual than my sidekick Father Will. He dotes on me to high heaven and forgives all of my street cat proclivities, whatever the hell that means.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Get Ready, Set..Wait, Where Are We Going Again?

Hi folks and fans,

I'm exhausted.

I can't get enough naptime, it seems. Too much hustle, bustle and baking. Today, the housekeeper touched up the baseboard heat registers with fresh paint even though we don't use the oil from our tank except for heating water. We have a mini-split heat pump and it's been keeping Bridgie and me toasty warm.

Hope you all had a nice Christmas. I know there were those who wish it could have been better, but I  was thinking: We have the holidays every 350 days or so and sometimes, our hearts just aren't ready. We were ok this year, but can't help but think of family members gone and others who've lost those close to them through unexpected tragedy. It's crazy. You ever see a cat with an Uzi? Or, an AK 47 assault rifle? We don't gang together and start wars, either. We grow into feral colonies, but like peaceful Indians, we don't make trouble and we don't want it. 

Sigh. Please excuse my ramblings. 

Anyway, this time of year, we're always trying to look to a future that is positive and at the least, makes sense. We're supposed to have a new president or keep our old one. I am not politically inclined, so I don't know. I just watch. Nod when appropriate and shake my head when not. 

We're keeping our tree up until the Wise Men get here. They texted and said they would be late..
Hahaha...our old wise men with today's technology. Anyway, they'll be welcomed with open arms.
Penny's never seen a wise man, maybe a wise cat (like me), but she won't ever because she's lost
her sight, but is amazingly tuned in.

We all love you, pretty girl!

Friends, once again, for another year, we extend our hopes and our best wishes for all of you. If the road gets rough, you know where to find us. We're always ready to give a hug.

Lots of love and Happy New Year!

~Tom, Bridget, Penny and our very own author Julie Mackenzie who makes up all kinds of stuff.
  And, our angels, Tinker, Anastasia, Frasier (Tom #1), Fishie (Tom #2), Vinny, and Trapper, our Golden.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

You Always Hope the Brakes Work

Hi everybody, Julie Mackenzie here....

First, let me say a big thank you to Tom for letting me take over his blog for a recap of my publishing experience so far.

"Take all the time you like, my dear."

It has all been most challenging and I don't mean the writing part. That was easy in comparison. It was going over the manuscript countless times to make sure I made sense, the characters made sense and Tom was at his best. I had a good editor, mostly for content, reading the books purely for enjoyment, but with the keen eye of the critic. I didn't worry and won't about the grammar, spelling or punctuation.


Because I'm a perfectionist and fastidious to a fault, and... I had such an amazing foundation with the head-pounding repetition and high standards expected in parochial school. Who can forget the daily recitation of prepositions after recess while in the fifth grade? (That was the year I sneaked into the rectory's back yard) We diagramed sentences, too. When I'm in doubt as to the right verb or some rule of grammar, I mentally reach for the sentence diagrams and I get my answer. So, hats (or wimples) off to those ladies in fluttering robes and beads who made me the writer I am today, at times flamboyant in my occasional word creations and sentences that might have begged a big red question mark from them.

I didn't want to pursue what many other writers go after, and that is the agent who, if interested, will present your work to a publisher and so on. All it took was one writer's conference at which I heard an agent confess that he had a writer whose work he was still shopping around after two years. I think the entire traditional publishing route is very serendipitous, chancy, time consuming and I decided to just go it on my own. Also, I have started so darn late in life. I won't have the crop of 50 plus books of Stephen
King and other authors like David Baldacci, Brad Thor,  Lee Child, and Fannie Flagg  who have amassed an amazing number published.

And, finally, a big challenge for me was having those I depended on for covers and formatting get back to me with the finished product. The interior layout is now being done by a fellow writer from Great Britain who goes above and beyond, with a designer creating attractive covers. I read over 50 novels a year and I see how they are laid out, the stunning touches, and I've enjoyed spreading my wings a little, introducing poetry, for instance. 

C.J. Box, an outstanding writer of western mysteries, shares the great outdoors, and you feel like he's inviting you there, setting the scene with introductory drawings and quotes. Writers are creators, transferring what is in their imagination to receptive readers who are always ready to cross that threshold prompted by an irresistible invitation.

I'm taking a break from writing for just a little while. 

Everyone, take care. 

All the best,


Author ~ Cross & Claw series of novels featuring Fr. Tom Fish & Will