Friday, July 29, 2011

Author Rebecca M. Hale: ‘A Fascination With Frogs’

I’m delighted to welcome author Rebecca M. Hale to Thoughts inIMG_5444-v1-for-web Progress as the special guest blogger as she tours blogdom with the latest release in her CATS AND CURIOS MYSTERY series.

The third installment in the series, HOW TO MOON A CAT, was released this month. Thanks to Rebecca and Kaitlyn at Berkley Prime Crime, I have 1 copy of HOW TO MOON A CAT to giveaway to a lucky visitor (please see the end of the post for details).

Here’s a brief synopsis of the book: When the first book in the series HOW TO WASH A CAT spent 2 weeks on the New York Times printed list and 4 weeks on the extended list—it became clear that readers had connected with fun-loving felines Rupert and Isabella. The cats return to the Green Vase antique store in a new adventure--this time the Jackson Square gang hits the road for a Gold Rush-era treasure hunt! When a mysterious man has hidden something in the Green Vase antique store it could lead Oscar’s niece to one of his greatest treasures yet. Eager to put the pieces of the puzzle together from various clues Oscar leaves behind—Rupert, Isabella and their human journey through several historical sites in Northern California to search for Oscar’s treasure and further unravel his mysterious past. 

Rebecca stopped by today to talk about some research she did for her book and ‘A Fascination with Frogs.’

As any reader of the Cats and Curios Mystery series will readily attest, I have a deeply seated and perhaps somewhat disturbing fascination with frogs. 

9780425242179I’ve had frogs scampering through the kitchen above the Green Vase Antique Shop, frogs filling the rotunda of San Francisco’s City Hall, frogs stalking the city’s Mayor from the balcony outside his office, frogs enjoying a performance at the historic Nevada Theatre, and, finally, frogs in downtown Sacramento as spectators to a professional cycling road race.

That’s a lot of frog action for a mystery series, so I thought I’d share an anecdote from my frog-related research for the third book in the series, HOW TO MOON A CAT

Last May, I set out in search of the Calaveras County Fairgrounds, the site of the annual Mark Twain Frog Jumping Competition. My route took me south along Highway 49, a wiggly corkscrew of a road, through the lower hills of the Sierra Nevada. 

It took a couple of hours and several map-checking stops along the way before I finally reached my destination, the setting for Mark Twain’s famous frog jumping essay, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Based on Twain’s brief tenure in California’s Gold Country, the essay relayed the tall tale of Jim Smiley, a compulsive gambler, and Daniel Webster, his famous jumping frog. The piece launched Twain’s literary career; it was one of his first writings to gain nationwide recognition.

By the time I arrived at the fairgrounds, the frog jumping competition was well underway. Past the front gates, a vending area, and several placards posting humorous Twain quotes, I joined a long line of youngsters waiting for their turn on the main stage. 

I suppose it would be possible to bring your own frog to this event, but most participants relied on the ample assortment of standby frogs provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Only a small portion of the overall frog contingent worked the stage at any given time, leaving the rest to lounge about in the cool damp area beneath the stage. After the festivities were completed, the frogs would be safely returned to their regular bog-like habitat – where they would no doubt kick back and regale one another with frog jumping stories – until it was time to round them up for next year’s return to Calaveras County.

The afternoon’s frog contingent waited in a large plastic tank in the shade near the stage as I leaned over the opening to make my selection. Trying not to think about the questionable brown smudges covering the container’s bottom, I wrapped my hands around the nearest slippery, squirming five-pound mass and lifted it up. 

For the record, I felt this particular aspect of the frog jumping experience required a bit too much frog-to-person interaction, even for a frog enthusiast like myself.

Gingerly, I walked up the steps to the stage and placed my frog on the designated spot at its center. Frog wranglers holding long poles attached to black nets manned the sides of the platform, ready and waiting to scoop up the frog once his jump was complete. 

Suddenly there I was, center stage with my frog, the full glare ofIMG_5432-v1-for-web the audience upon us. The emcee of the event readied the crowd with a quick introduction. At this point in the afternoon, the frog was well known to most of the onlookers; the increasingly squeamish author accompanying him, not so much. 

After having watched about half an hour’s worth of previous participants, I had a general idea of what was supposed to happen next. I crouched to the ground behind my frog and made what I imagined to be an encouraging frog sound, kind of a whirring chirp, accompanied by the wild waving of my hands.

The frog turned his head to look up at me, his expression decidedly unimpressed. After a few more seconds of watching my ridiculous attempts to spur him on, the frog gave me one last disparaging glance, frowned slightly, and then leapt a meager two feet from the stage’s center mark.

I’m not sure how well the frog-jumping scene in HOW TO MOON A CAT came out; I’ll leave that for you to judge. I do feel confident in saying that somewhere out there, in a dark secluded bog nestled within the Sierra Nevada, a group of frogs are sitting around, sharing a chuckle at my expense. 

Oh Rebecca, you do go to the extremes when doing research. LOL. Thanks so much for guest blogging. I think your frog-jumping scene turned out just fine. Wishing you much success with your writing and looking forward to the next installment in the Cats and Curios Mystery series.

Now for a bit of background on Rebecca. She worked as a patent attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years before taking time off to her first novel: HOW TO WASH A CAT. The SF-based Cats and Curios series continued with the frog-infused NINE LIVES LAST FOREVER.
Rebecca and her cats, Rupert and Isabella, live in Western Colorado. To learn more about Rebecca, visit her on the web at:

I have 1 cope of HOW TO MOON A CAT to giveaway. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and addresses with post office boxes can’t be accepted. To enter the giveaway, just comment on Rebecca’s post between now and 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday,  Aug. 5. Be sure to include your e-mail address, if it’s not included in your profile.

What do you think of frogs? Have you ever enter a frog jumping contest before? Would you go this far for research? Thanks for stopping by.



  1. No idea how to motivate a frog to move either!

  2. I love frogs and am also fascinated by them.

    I think frog motivation must come from the frog. :)

  3. An interesting post. I think that frogs will do as they please. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Sounds like something perfect. Thanks for a great review.


  5. Now THAT's commitment to research! Love it :)

  6. I don't usually observe frogs. But their jumping skills are admirable. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  7. They sounds like cats, easily unimpressed. :D How about some flies for motivation?

    headlessfowl at gmail dot com


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