During the FMCA rally at Indio, I wandered away from our congenial Roadtrek group to attend a seminar entitled "Have You Ever Thought About Writing a Book?" The speaker was Judy Howard, whose new work Coast to Coast with a Cat and A Ghost was published last December. Judy was an excellent group leader and presided over a productive workshop attended by twenty or so people. I bought Judy's book, took it back to our Roadtrek, settled in and – not knowing quite what to expect – began reading. I was pleasantly surprised from page one.
  Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost is the well-told memoir of a journey of healing and self-rediscovery. Judy, newly widowed, sets off from California and heads for Florida in her motorhome, not a Roadtrek but something similar in size and appointments. She travels solo, except for her cat Sportster and – fasten your seat belt at this point – a life-sized dummy of Jack, her recently deceased husband. “Jack Incarnate” rides shotgun to provide a measure of safety for Judy as well as pungent commentary on various aspects of the current journey and their twenty-five years of married life.
  The author's descriptions of the simple routines of motorhoming are quite endearing: the maps, the brochures, the travelogues ... instant coffee, electric lines, pajamas (yes, Judy changes into pajamas every single night – how many of us tired travelers actually do that?) These interludes, so intimate and interesting in themselves, help us readers catch our collective breaths as we anticipate the next searing narrative of Judy's life with Jack. The lyrical shifting between these two structural threads – the present and the past – is quite extraordinary. Don't expect any sentimental reminiscing from this author. Jack was no angel, and Judy's tale is sometimes rather dark, but it's told with admirable dignity and grace, without a hint of vulgarity. These days, in our cultural environment of f-bombs, blood-gushers and bodice-rippers, that's really quite refreshing. 

Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost by Judy Howard is definitely worthy of your attention. It's self-published, but don't let that stop you. Lots of great work is entering the marketplace that way of late. This book will be of interest to anyone who's ever travelled in a motorhome or experienced the give and take of a long-term relationship. Best of all, the writing is astonishingly good. It's such fun to find worthy new reading material in unusual places. An FMCA rally? I guess you never know.

Buy Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost at You’ll find Judy Howard herself at

--Mark Sickman


5.0 out of 5 stars Delightfully unpretentious, October 23, 2011
By S. Kay Murphy "Heretic" (Mt. Baldy, CA USA) - 

This review is from: Coast to Coast with A Cat and A Ghost (Paperback)
When Judy Howard's imperfect but beloved husband passes away, she makes the courageous decision to travel across country in her motor home. Before she leaves, she creates a stuffed replica of her Harley-loving husband, names it Jack Incarnate, sits him unceremoniously in the passenger seat, scoops up an orphan cat, then hits the highway. Her ensuing adventures are told with bold humor and stark honesty in unpolished, unpretentious prose which at times verges on being meltingly poetic. I didn't mean to read this book in one day, but once I began, I simply couldn't put it down. In the end, I felt I had laughed and cried right along with Howard on her journey.

This is a memoir for any woman facing life on her own or trying to recover from loss and heartache. It is an anthem for those of us who are just regular folks, trying to make sense of an imperfect world. Bravo.

5.0 out of 5 stars Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost, August 30, 2011
By Teresa V. Coleman - 

This review is from: Coast to Coast with A Cat and A Ghost (Paperback)
I loved the book. It was at times funny, sad, contemplative and insightful. I found myself laughing out loud and then wiping tears from my eys. It was captivating and, once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Great story from a new author!

5.0 out of 5 stars good read, October 24, 2011
By larry 
This review is from: Coast to Coast with A Cat and A Ghost (Paperback)
A really good read. the prospective of arguing with Jack incarnate was sharp and witty. Tell Sportster I have some fresh liver I'll share with him if he'll just start eating again. We're ready for the next offering!!

4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and endearing, September 11, 2011
By Hummingbird 

This review is from: COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST (Kindle Edition)
I was at an RV Rally where Judy was promoting her book. It sounded interesting so I downloaded it and I was hooked. If you have ever been in a controlling relationship you might see yourself and if you have ever traveled extensively in an RV you will relive those places as she travels down the road. If you haven't traveled, she describes places she stops so that you envision the area. The book is well written and I can't wait to read her next one.

5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put down, September 3, 2011
By makemusic 
This review is from: Coast to Coast with A Cat and A Ghost (Paperback)
I started reading this book and could not stop. Judy Howard grabs you at the first page and just keep going. She has a real talent for making you feel like you are riding along with her as she travels down not only the highway of her cross country adventure, but the life she has lead. She has a way of getting right into the emotions of things, and never skirts an issue. It truly is a book you will remember.

5.0 out of 5 stars I've only started reading it...., August 25, 2011
By S. Engelhardt "Sue Engelhardt" (Buffalo, WY) 
This review is from: Coast to Coast with A Cat and A Ghost (Paperback)
I met the author, Judy Howard, as she was traveling through Buffalo, Wyoming. She came in to The Office (an office supply store) and we started chatting. She told me about her book "Coast To Coast With A Cat And A Ghost" and it sounded very interesting. She was a very well spoken, energetic, friendly woman and after chatting with her I found myself wanting to read her book. I've only started reading it, but can't wait to see what happens next.

An engaging novel about overcoming loss and picking up the pieces.
When Judy’s husband, Jack, dies of cancer, she takes off in her RV in hopes of piecing together her shattered heart piece
by piece and state by state as she travels across the country. She temporarily leaves her home and grooming business
behind in sunny California and makes her way out to a friend in Florida. In addition to the radio, she’s joined by her new
cat and a man-sized doll she made (whom she refers to as Jack Incarnate) for the 5,000 miles to Florida and back. In
between new places and new faces, Judy thinks back to the relationship she had with Jack: when they first met at an AA
meeting while drinking coffee, the time he was almost put behind bars for spousal abuse, etc. Though
rough-around-the-edges Jack certainly had his fair share of baggage, he truly loved Judy, and she loved him back. Now
that he’s gone, Judy has to make her way without him and count up all the good and bad that came with their
relationship. In her debut novel, Howard conveys pitiless reality with beauty and eloquence. “I felt like a dried leaf
clinging to a branch, hoping to hang on as the cold harsh wind blew cruelly against my brittle spine,” she writes. Despite
the numerous brutal, intense battles between Judy and Jack, it’s nearly impossible not to relate to her on some level, as
she’s so real and vulnerable. Most of all, she’s a survivor who manages to move on from the relationship that dictated
much of her life. Though it could be easy to write off Jack as a villain, Howard portrays in him the many layers that each
of us contend with—it’s what makes us all so complex. She doesn’t make excuses for his behavior, but there’s a sense of
sadness in everything he himself suffered, which, to a certain degree, made him who he was. The frivolous title doesn’t
capture the mature spirit of Judy’s mindset.
Beautifully written and real to the core.

I entered a contest offered by WRITERS DIGEST for self-published authors. This was the response from one of the judges  after reading COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST.

Title:Coast To Coast With A Cat And A Ghost
Author: Judy Howard
Judge Number: 30
Books were evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5. This scale is strictly to provide a point of reference, it is not a cumulative score and does not reflect ranking.
In some cases, you may see special or out of place characters/symbols in your commentary. For example, you may see that a character/symbol replaces an apostrophe, copyright, and other "symbols".
These substitutions occur for various reasons – and are unavoidable. They are often [programming] misinterpretations due to encoding, installed fonts, web based content/sources etc.
Since the “content”[data] of the commentary is comprised of data sent from several different computers (programs, fonts etc.,) and from the internet (online entry system),
you may at times see an interpretation of what had been an apostrophe, quotation mark etc.
Structure and Organization:4
Grammar: 4
Production Quality and Cover Design:4 
Plot (if applicable): 5
Character Development (if applicable): N/A
What did you like best about this book?
The novel is top notch from start to finish. A nice cover design and professional presentation including excellent, attention-grabbing back cover copy. As a judge of memoirs, I must note that it reads more like fiction—very smooth and entertaining. I’m particularly fond of the humor within. The author has done a great job of adding emotional depth to the storytelling. This is a well crafted, professional read that is both humorous and full of heartache with new beginnings looming on the horizon. It comes with a dose of therapeutic tenderness that will twist your insides and inspire you to keep on going when the road gets tough.
How can the author improve this book?
As a judge, I’m supposed to come up with one hundred words as to how the author could improve this book but I’m finding this task a difficult one. So, my advice here will be mostly from a marketing standpoint. The author should work to make sure you get this book out where readers can find it. I don’t believe I would have ever stumbled across this book if I weren’t a judge in this contest. Getting this type of well-crafted novel into the hands of your target audience (really any woman I’ve ever known would fall into this category) should be your top priority.

Praises for Coast To Coast With A Cat And A Ghost

This well written story engrosses the reader as it entertains and inspires. The narrator navigates through difficult subjects—for example, alcoholism, cancer and spousal abuse—with good humor and aplomb. At the manuscript’s end she emerges victorious, both in spite of and because of her human flaws……………………”

“ The principal characters of the narrator and her husband are very well-rounded and where necessary, believably contradictory. …………………..”

“ Sportster is certainly an endearing and memorable companion and crucial character to the story….”

“The manuscript handles flashbacks and other repeated moves from far past to near present remarkably well…….the dialogue was believable and varied….”

“The style supports a tone and shifts from joy to grief and back again…….such as where the narrator tests her wings and crashes her Gold Wing…..”

Jennifer, Creataspace Editor

The book so inspired me, I "followed my dreams" of decades: I bought a used Minnie Winnie with very low mileage and I'll be hitting the road, like Judy did, a single older woman but with 2 small dogs and 2 cats. Thanks, Judy, for writing the book and getting me to do what I had dreamed about...Nancy near Austin, TXhe book so inspired me, I "followed my dreams" of decades: I bought a used Minnie Winnie with very low mileage and I'll be hitting the road, like Judy did, a single older woman but with 2 small dogs and 2 cats. Thanks, Judy, for writing the book and getting me to do what I had dreamed about...Nancy near Austin, TX
By Anne - See all my reviews
This review is from: Coast to Coast with A Cat and A Ghost (Paperback)
I had the honor of producing the audio version of this book, and I have to say that Ms. Howard's writing gripped me on several levels. I usually try to "detach" when I narrate, in order to stay focused and productive. However, I found myself having to take many unscheduled breaks to compose myself. whether due to tears or laughter. Her subject matter is very relatable, but she also has a way of delivering a story that is compelling and thought provoking. I would highly recommend this book, especially the audio version (hint hint), as it will enlighten and engage any reader.

So I am at the part where Alex, the Marine gets in an altercation with the driver of an SUV that honks his horn. Alex is banging on the man’s window another man walks up and says, “Stand Down, Marine.” Oh my gosh, I am balling like a baby. You explained it so well that the reader can sympathize with Alex. Road rage is a bad thing but you can see why he is so angry and have compassion for him! Still loving the book! Excellent!! add text.

I loved this book for so many reasons. It is well written with characters who you become emotionally attached to. I have a new respect and compassion for our Service men and women and their families. We should all be appreciative of what they sacrifice for all of us. The end leaves you wanting to know more about the Marine and his dog Masada. It is fascinating how the puppies are transformed into service dogs and how they help so many people along the way. Excellent read! I highly recommend this book and can't wait for the authors next book to be released.


Kirsten M. Blair "devourer of the written word" (Naples,FL) - See all my reviews

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This review is from: Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost (A Cat and A Ghost Series Book 2) (Kindle Edition) 

I knew from the first moments of the book what the 'end' would be,but I kept reading because of the lyrical prose and the unusual plot details and incidents put in by an unusally excellent author. Even when I was certain I was at the end,she kept things lively with twiwsts and turns and marvelous characters. Although I did indeed 'know' the ending, it was an end that surprised me in many ways. Thanks for a great read!

 Review by 

Janet Fish (Midwestern USA) - See all my reviews

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This review is from: Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost (A Cat and A Ghost Series Book 2) (Kindle Edition) 

Judy Howard's books are page turners. Her experiences as a teen were unsettling, uncomfortable. How she dealt with them as an adult and how justice was approached carry the reader through the pages. I wanted to know what was next. I found myself disagreeing with how the protagonist was dealing with something that happened during her stay at the campground, and had to chuckle at myself for getting that involved in what I was reading.

And  the second review of 

julie's dog house - See all my reviews

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This review is from: Masada's Marine: The Story of a Service Dog and her Wounded Marine Warrior (Kindle Edition) 

I recommend this book to everyone. It brings to the forefront the problems our veterans have when coming back from deployment. They are not prepared or told about the PTSD that affects most of those returning.
You will become attached to the characters; laugh with them; cry with them and related to what they are feeling. The characters are real and well written. You'll not want to put this book down! I can't wait to read the next book in the Masada's Series.
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