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Hicksville resident Debbie De Louise published her first novel, Cloudy Rainbow, last year.

Lifelong Hicksville resident Debbie De Louise recently published her first novel, a 360-page romance that addresses topics of reincarnation and soul transfer and features an interesting mix of technology and the paranormal that will also appeal to cat lovers.

In Cloudy Rainbow, De Louise tells the story of Dulcie Mills, a Long Island computer programmer mourning the death of her fiancé and anticipating the loss of her aged cat who escapes to a virtual world, where an online friend and a clairvoyant lead her to an enlightening discovery about her late fiancé's soul. The book is told in five parts and spans 16 years in a non-linear sequence following the main character through her college days to her mid-30s, from her first true love experience during the early years of the Internet to the current explosion of virtual worlds and a tragic loss she is given a unique chance to redeem.

The idea for Cloudy Rainbow, said De Louise, stems from several key elements of her life, including the loss of her 15-year-old cat, Floppy, in October 2007 and her own experiences at college and knowledge of the online 3-D virtual community SecondLife.com. "I was inspired to start writing a novel that Floppy would be a part of, but I also decided to include a virtual world in this book as well as my college experiences on a student newspaper," De Louise said. "I combined all of these elements and worked them into the story and, as I wrote a bit each night, the story developed. I even added a supernatural/paranormal element with a clairvoyant character because I like a hint of mystery in what I read even if it isn't an actual mystery," she said.

By spring 2008, De Louise had a 90,000 word manuscript she describes as "fictional but also incredibly personal and heartfelt, something I wanted to share with others who have lost someone they've really loved whether it was a relative, friend or pet."

De Louise believes Cloudy Rainbow would appeal mostly to people in their 30s and 40s, as the main character is in her mid-30s. However, she added, "I also think it could have a wider audience because it may appeal to cat and pet lovers; those interested in the Internet and computer technology; those who enjoy the supernatural; and, very basically, anyone who likes a romance with a unique combination of elements and a few twists along the way."

A published writer, De Louise has published articles in Cats Magazine and Cat Fancy. Additionally, her short story, Stitches in Time, appeared in the cat mystery anthology, Cat Crimes Through Time, which was published by Carrol & Graf in 2000. She holds a masters degree in library science from the Palmer School of Library Science at Long Island University/C.W. Post as well as a bachelors in English also from C.W. Post. She has been working at the Hicksville Public Library since August 1990 when she was hired as a part-time librarian under the late director Kenneth Barnes. In Jan 1991, under former director Celeste Watman, she was appointed to her current position - full-time reference librarian.

According to De Louise, her professional career as a librarian has indeed played a role in her decision to write a book. "As a librarian, I have to be very in tune to what people enjoy reading as I do the ordering for the fiction collection. Also, having the professional research experience helps me research what I write. Even when writing fiction, you have to be accurate in what you describe and well-documented details are always important," she said.

For Cloudy Rainbow, De Louise chose self-publishing and, after researching several print on demand (POD) companies, chose Booklocker.com because it was "small and customer-oriented." Additionally, she said, Booklocker.com also is selective in what they print, accepting only 35 percent of manuscripts submitted.

"To me, the time and effort of soliciting agents while my manuscript grew old, was a big factor in my decision," she said. "I did not have dreams of fame and fortune. Most first novelists are more realistic than that. It was a memorial to my cat but, even more than that, I knew it would give a message to others, beyond any religious beliefs, that might console them after a loved one's loss."

While there are no plans for a sequel to Cloudy Rainbow, De Louise is in the process of writing a second book that continues her theme of fiction with a virtual twist. According to De Louise, Tales From a Virtual Life will be a virtual mystery of the cozy kind that includes different characters, including a toddler based not so loosely on her own 4-year-old daughter, a dog that plays a minor role, and a murder. As for similarities, De Louise said the new book will also feature a virtual world - not a fictional one but Second Life itself - as well as a main character who is a housewife with a website design business on the side.

"My hopes for this mystery include a possible series as the heroine or lead character, Louise, acts as amateur sleuth solving murders tied to virtual as well as real life crimes," said De Louise, who added that one day she would also like to resume working on a book she began a while ago about cats and time travel entitled Time's Relative.

In the meantime, De Louise is keeping busy with her family, which includes her husband Anthony of 16 years and their 4-year-old daughter Holly, as well as her job at the library. She is also promoting Cloudy Rainbow and plans to hold a book discussion at the Hicksville Library on Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m.

Cloudy Rainbow is available as a downloadable eBook and/or trade paper from www.booklocker.com and is available as a trade paper only through Amazon.com and other booksellers.

All proceeds from the sale of Cloudy Rainbow will go toward Holly's college fund. "Holly loves reading and writing already, and while she was heartbroken about our cat's loss, I think this is a way something good can come from it," said De Louise.


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