Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats

Podcast of December 17th: Christmas Book(s) for Sale!

“The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats,” Book #1. (www.TheXmasCats.com for all 5 in the series, currently).

I posted the scheduled appearances for the rest of 2020 previously. This Thursday (Dec. 17) will, in fact, involve telling the audience about  books for sale, but whether it will be Sean Leary’s book or not remains to be seen. The evening will focus on the six-book series “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” if previously scheduled guest Sean Leary cannot make it, [due to a soccer game this time]. Always have a “Plan B,” when preparing a program, whether it is a radio show, a podcast, a television show, or something else. I’ve done very little talking about my own books on the 38 programs so far. Maybe this is the week—a week before Christmas—to talk about a 6-book Christmas series? I guess we’ll know by Thursday. One way or the other, you’ll get to hear about an appropriate literary purchase for the holiday ahead.

On December 24th there will be a replay of a previous program, and on December 31st (New Year’s Eve) that will happen again.

There are six books in “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” series, all of which can be seen by going to www.TheXmasCats.com. I would urge potential listeners to go out to the website while they are listening to me talk about how the books came to be.

Again, this is not a “for sure” program listing, as perhaps Sean will be able to join us to talk about his new book “Subliminal Cartography.” Maybe. Maybe not.

If not, you’ll hear the story of the newest book (“The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee”) first, as it is the newest release. I’m on schedule with completing the series for my granddaughters, as I always vowed to discontinue the series when the girls had outgrown Santa Claus. Their twelfth birthday is January 11th; the final book is out, and all six of the books are available on Amazon in time for Christmas gift giving, if you hurry.

So, what are the books and what were the ideas behind them?

Book #1: The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats

This book came out of the non-stop fighting between our two cats, the older cat and a new arrival, who joined us from the ravine as winter came on. They had to learn how to get along, and that is the “moral” of Book #1.

Book #2: The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats

The girls were three when I began the series and they were selecting the next animal that the Christmas Cats, a gang of do-gooders, would aid. Rats came up next. Among other morals of this book it includes an admonition against prejudice and a plea to be helpful and kind to others.

Book #3:  The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats

Living here in Austin, as I am currently, this one should be a big seller at Book People, but, alas, it has no “spine” and I learned the valuable lesson that books in Book People (the largest independent bookstore in Austin) must have a spine, so that readers can read the title as they browse in the store (not that there is much “browsing” during the pandemic.  The moral: do not fear or destroy animals simply because you are unfamiliar with them. There is a “master plan” for every creature and that bat or insect or snake also has a reason for living.

Book #4:  The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer

Inspired by the deer kill staged at Scott County Park in Scott County, Iowa, the Christmas Cats rescue the hapless deer in the park and hustle them to the North Pole, where they learn to help Santa in his annual delivery of gifts. The illustrations by Gary McCluskey for this one are outstanding, and it is one of my two favorite books in the series. For the first time, a hard cover edition was available, although it is not listed on Amazon, which doesn’t help.

Book #5:  The Christmas Cats Care for the Bear

This one should be one of the most popular, as it is an anti-bullying tome. The little bear is being bullied because he has funny fur and is chubby. The good lesson to be learned:  bullying is wrong.

Book #6:  The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee

Donnie Drone wants to take over the hive because he doesn’t like the Queen Bee. He colludes with a less-successful hive to wrest control of the hive. All the worker bees in the hive begin to realize that they could all die if Donnie Drone remains in power, and they unite to drive him off. A timely political parable for our current time(s).

All Five Christmas Cats Children’s Books on Sale Through 2017

I have a series called “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” (www.TheXmasCats.com), ;which I began writing for my granddaughters when they were three years old. The books are “throw-back” books to what I learned in elementary schools of the fifties when early readers featured Dick and Jane and the policeman on the beat was always your friend. The books resemble Dr. Seuss books in that they rhyme and the cats of the title are a troupe of hardy do-gooders who go about helping other animals in distress.

The first book ‘s illustrations were drawn by Andy Weinert of East Moline (IL), a friend of my daughter’s, when I had two cats that were constantly fighting. I learned that Andy’s mother was Rita Mankowski, one of the smartest 7th graders I ever had in nearly 20 years of teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts at Silvis Junior High, and that sealed the deal. Andy was then a high school student who showed much artistic promise. (He has gone on to earn a Master’s in graphic design). When I asked him to draw a series of cats wearing “silly hats” he did a wonderful Grandma Moses-style treatment and the rhyming text shows the cats learning to get along with others, rather than constantly fighting with them (Lesson #1). However, AuthorHouse lost one-half of Andy’s original drawings (a bad lesson learned about dealing with AuthorHouse) and, when it came time to try to make the book just from the scans in my computer, years had passed and I drafted the girls’ Venezuelan nanny, Emily Marquez Vlcek to help finish the message and do some additional drawings linking the story to the season.

The second book, “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats”, featured the intrepid cats checking in on lab rats at Green Laboratories, to make sure they were being treated well. The message was “Do not judge others without knowing, or prejudice you will be showing” So, DON’T BE PREJUDICED. A good lesson for all time, but especially for these times.

Book #3, “The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats” featured bats wreaking havoc at South Park Mall (there is one in Moline, IL, as well as in the Dallas/Fort Worth area) and the cats teach the lesson that all life has value and every creature has a place in the Universe. Hallmark artist Gary McCluskey can also take credit for creating the first upside-down Christmas tree, far ahead of this year’s fad. (Bats hang their Christmas trees upside-down, you know.) Austin people, you’ll love this one!

Book #4, “The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer“, featured beautifully drawn deer in Scott County Park (Davenport, IA), who, although well within the city limits, were in danger from hunters allowed to “thin the herd.” The Cats came to the rescue, spiriting them from the park by means of the CatCopter and ferrying them to the North Pole, where they were fitted with prosthetic antlers and fly with Santa. This book exists in hard cover format as well (although only available by contacting me, only in limited quantities, and costing $25 plus $3 postage). The color copies were run by ColorWise Press of Indiana and are gorgeous. The back of the book contains interactive activities for children, including puzzles and coloring book pages and we encouraged children to send them to the series dedicated website, www.TheXmasCats.com. Because only limited copies were run, the books were among the most beautiful in terms of color and quality, but paying $19 a book (the publisher’s price) means that one of these books in hard cover, plus postage, is going to set readers back $28, so it remains something that is only able to be purchased by contacting me via ConnieCWilson.com or WeeklyWilson.com or on LinkedIn. It is available through Amazon in paperback and e-book, however, and the e-book copies are only $1.99 for five days.

The final book in the series (so far) is “The Christmas Cats Care for the Bear” and it has an anti-bullying message, as the cats spring into action to help a little bear who is being bullied by others because he is pudgy and has funny hair. It is a book made for today’s youth and the interactive pages at the back of the book were increased, while the cost of running the book dropped dramatically as we transferred the book’s publication to Ingram Spark. The hard cover book of the most recent title is in the $12.95 range, from Amazon, while, paperbacks and e-books are also available.

[Book Number One has been permanently priced at $ .99 since it was drawn by a student, and finished by my granddaughters’ Venezuelan nanny, who took over duties from Andy when he was involved in completing his Master’s degree in graphic design at Northern Illinois University.]

I always said I would write the books until the girls turned 10, which is fast approaching. I did not have a book this year because we were too involved in building a house near the son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters in Austin, Texas, but “The Christmas Cats Flee from the Bee” may be coming for next Christmas, if Gary McCluskey is still available to lend his fantastic illustrations to another story with a message. That story will be about a golden-haired bee that hates the Queen Bee and does everything he can to destroy her, but soon faces his own come-uppance when the rest of the hive unites to drive him from their colony.

I hope you enjoy the e-book versions of ALL of the existing books, on sale for 5 days at $1.99 or, in the case of the very first book, 99 cents, from today (December 27) through the end of 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

(Constance Corcoran Wilson, M.S.; www.ConnieCWilson.com)


Holiday Appearances Scheduled to Date

Some of you may know that I have a holiday series entitled The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, which began many years ago when my daughter was in high school and dating a very talented young artist who drew the pictures for the first book while still a high school student. I sometimes travel with a costumed Cat in the Hat when selling these books, which now exist in both paperback and hardcover formats (as well as e-book formats) for sale on Amazon and wherever I happen to be hanging out over the holidays.

My plan was to publish the book way back then, in 2003 or so, but Author House lost most of Andy Weinert’s drawings, leaving me only with scans in my computer.

It was years later that I had the idea of resurrecting the children’s cat series for my then 2-year-old granddaughters, Ava and Elise, as a Christmas present, which would go on with their help and input until they turned 10. I asked my layout person in Rockford (Donnie Light) to see if he could bring the scans up to some sort of quality, and a first book emerged.

Time had passed and I needed more drawings to bring the Christmas concept forward. Andy was busy graduating from Northern Illinois University with a degree in graphic arts and the girls’ nanny from Venezuela, Emily Marquez Vilcek, stepped in to finish the book.

Each year since then, a book has emerged at the holidays, with “The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats” helping animals in distress and teaching life lessons to children aged 3 to 10. They are throw-back books in that regard, as they aren’t about flying pot roasts or other useless information (a real book, by the way).

Book One: The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats was about learning to get along and cooperate with others.
Book Two: The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Cats was about not being prejudiced.
Book Three: The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats
was about having respect for all life, no matter how icky it seems, at first.
Book Four: The Christmas Cats Fear for the Deer was about thinking out of the box to solve problems, which, in this case, was saving the deer who live in Scott County Park.
Book Five: The Christmas Cats Care for the Bear
has an anti-bullying message.

All of the books can be seen at www.TheXmasCats.com and all of them can be purchased through Amazon or from me, if you find me at one of the sites I plan to visit this Christmas-time.

My first appearance will be at what used to be called the Manor House in downtown East Moline on November 26th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I will have all of the Christmas books and others that you can see at my author site, www.ConnieCWilson.com. I have a Stephen King-like series “The Color of Evil” (3 novels); 2 short story series (“Ghostly Tales of Route 66” and “Hellfire & Damnation”) and various other books, such as a nonfiction books on movies of the seventies, 2 nonfiction books on the 2008 presidential race (“Obama’s Odyssey”), a book of humor (“Laughing through Life”) and others you can view at my author site.

The second place I know I will be is within Building One at Black Hawk Junior College on December 30th, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. I will have the Christmas Cats books, but I will also have the more adult fare. (I have 35 books, to date).

The third place I know I will be is outside Happy Joe’s in LeClaire, Iowa, before the Breakfast with Santa event on Saturday, December 3rd.
I am hopeful that I can make my annual stop at Razzleberries down the street, possibly on Friday night, and I am still trying to work out a place within the Village of East Davenport for the evening of December 3rd, Saturday, the night of the fireworks. The problem is that, in other years, I was inside Freddy Fritters, and it burned down and is much smaller now.

I also don’t know if I’ll have the traditional Cat in the Hat with me, posing for photographs, as in other years. [If you have a burning desire to wear an adult-sized Cat in the Hat suit (and get paid for it) contact me at [email protected].]

I did not ask to be present in Geneseo during their Victorian Christmas Walk at the Four Seasons this year because I was aced out by locals last year. I’m also still trying to find a spot within the Village of East Davenport, as Freddy Fritters burned down (taking one of my posters with it). Now, they don’t have room for me. So, if you’re in the Village and reading this and would like a local author and possibly a costumed Cat in the Hat on the night of the fireworks (Saturday, Dec. 3), contact me at 309-737-2225.

The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats

Christmas Cats Series Book Named One of Best Books of 2014 by Chicago Writers’ Association

“The Christmas Cats” series (www.TheXmasCats.com) has a new entry for Christmas this year entitled “The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats. It is Book #3 in the series and available on Amazon (in both paperback and Kindle versions) as well as at the Book Rack stores and Book World at Southpark Mall.

Recently, the Chicago Writers’ Association named “The Christmas Cats Chase Christmas Rats” , last year’s Christmas entry, one of the 7 Best Books of 2014 in its category (non-traditionally published) from among 75 entries.
Each book features a good moral lesson for children aged 3 to 10. As with the first 2 books, this year’s book was written for and with the author’s twin granddaughters, Ava and Elise Wilson.

Author Connie Wilson will be present at appearances throughout the holiday season, often with the Cat in the Hat accompanying her and available for photos. There is also a website at www.TheXmasCats.com with FREE coloring book pages from all 3 books, mazes, and other interactive activities for children aged 3 to 10.


November 15, Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m. at the Book Rack in Moline (NO CAT)

November 22, Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. at South Park Mall in Moline (NO CAT)

December 5, 2014, Friday: LeClaire, Razzleberries, 5 to 7 p.m. (CAT) **

December 6, 2014, Saturday: @ Book signing at Bookworld at South Park Mall from 1 to 3 p.m. (NO CAT)

Dec. 6, 2014: Village of East Davenport Christmas Walk, @ Freddy Fritters Doggie Bakery, 6 to 9 p.m. (CAT) **

December 10, 2014, 7 p.m., Read Local at the Bettendorf Public Library (NO CAT)

December 12, Friday in Rock Island, IL: Gallery Hop, 6 to 9 p.m. (location TBA) ( CAT)

December 13, Saturday, at the Book Rack in Davenport, 1-3 p.m. (NO CAT)

December 13, Saturday in Geneseo, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Four Seasons (CAT)

Dec.19-20: New Orleans, Writers for New Orleans Benefit (NO CAT)


Chicago Film Festival Preliminaries

AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

I’m in Chicago, getting ready to cover the Chicago Film Festival.

Today—a beautiful 80+ degree day, and probably the last of our Indian summer lovely weather—I took advantage of the great weather to dine outside on Wabash at a Mexican restaurant (Zapatista’s) and to view a Press Only screening of “Force Majeure,” which is rumored to be a front-runner for Oscar contention for Best Foreign Film this year.

The film was set in a ski lodge (and made by Norway, Sweden, Denmark and France). Suprisingly, most of the movie  was in English, with fewer subtitles than anticipated. Since most young people in Sweden are brought up to speak both Swedish and English, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.

Watching all the skiing scenes in deep snow made me sad to think that our lovely warm Chicago weather has deserted us (temperatures dropped 20 to 30 degrees as evening came on tonight, Monday, September 29th.) Since we were just in Las Vegas where it was 90 to 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) (and, before that, in New Orleans, where it was similarly warm, but much more humid)),  watching this tribute to winter was less-than-thrilling, if you prefer beaches and warm weather (as I do).

With October just one day away and November lurking in the wings (to be followed by December), I’m already feeling the chill. Can’t take another winter like last year. Going to have to get out of Dodge. Planning on doing that after the holidays, but first, must market the NEW “Christmas Cats” book, which is speeding its way toward me as I write this. I’ll be doing signings WITH the costumed cat at three bookstores in the Quad Cities and, in all likelihood, will be at Razzleberries in LeClaire during their winter festivities, at Freddy Fritters’ Dog Bakery during the Village of East Davenport Christmas Walk, and at the Four Seasons store in Geneseo during their big Christmas parade. Dates to be announced as I find them out (although I do know that I’ll be in South Park Mall on Dec. 6th at Book World.)

AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

bats&cats_coverLast year, the Christmas Cats Chase(d) Christmas Rats. This year, The Christmas Cats Encounter Bats. First-rate artwork from Gary McCluskey helps drive home the message that all life has value and should be respected. And, of course, going all the way back to the first book, illustrated by local East Moline artist Andy Weinert, we’re talking about The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats. The cats are always going to be wearing silly hats; it’s their fashion statement. And they’re always going to be helping other animals in need. (Next year, frogs or deer, I’m thinking).  This year’s book will also include access to FREE coloring book pages on the dedicated website (www.TheXmasCats.com) and mazes and other fun stuff, with young readers invited to send in their ideas, also. Stay tuned for further developments.

But, back to the film festival.

The  leading man from “Force Majeure” will be in town for interviews soon. The examination of a marriage under stress had a script that I could relate to. (The wife: “It’s so weird that you won’t admit what happened.” The husband:  “I want us to share the same view. I want to put it all behind us.”) The temperature flashed on the screen (for the ski lodge) was – 22 degrees, Celsius. (This converts to -7.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The movie’s themes aside, the mere act of watching people skiing in deep, cold snow reminded me of why I have never had any desire to ski. Water ski, yes. Snow ski? Uh…no thank you.

The performances from leading lady Lisa Loven Kongslo as Ebba and Johanne Kuhnke of Sweden as Tomas were outstanding, as were those of their two children.

So, stay tuned for adventures from the 50th Anniversary of the Film Festival that is the oldest film festival in North America. It doesn’t officially kick off until October 9th.

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