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Visiting the San Juan Islands in Washington State Inspired My Third Book, by Rhonda Banuelos, Author

A woman on a boat, holding up a children's book
Author Rhonda Banuelos holds her book, The Adventures of Hayley Cat

An idea came to me for our annual summer vacation: a whale watching tour. With a little internet research, I found the perfect place to enjoy such a memorable experience: The San Juan Islands in Washington State.

Photos on the internet featured an archipelago that consists of approximately 172 islands, with the four larger islands offering the most activities for tourists. Each island had its own unique locales and activities, from kayaking tours, hiking, bed and breakfast inns, glamping, sheep farm tours, fishing, and bike riding, just to name a few. There is so much to see and do in the area.

Bellingham offered a whale watching cruise from its port, which included lunch and a two-hour stop at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Once we arrived, we could easily walk around the shops, galleries, restaurants and parks. If we were lucky, we could feed the famous Harbor Seal, Popeye. This looked like an exciting trip for us and I quickly made our travel arrangements.

A black and white cat crosses the deck of a large ship
This black-and-white cat caught the author’s attention on her family’s vacation to the San Juan Islands

San Juan Island has a vibe of a miniature, cute, seaport village. We could smell the brewed coffee coming from the local coffee shops as we boarded our ship on the day of the whale-watching adventure. I noticed a ship docked next to our vessel and I saw a cat walking on the deck. It had black and white coloring, like an Orca whale.

This seemed like such a coincidence to me. My creative juices were flowing, and I realized Book Three of my Hayley Cat series was already forming in my mind. In addition to my theme of the importance of friendship, the story line would include travel, Orca whales and the Friday Harbor Port. Best of all, I knew, would be seeing Popeye, the famous gentle Harbor Seal, who did make it into Book Three as a main character!

We were then whisked away gently on the glorious ocean, enjoying the cool breeze on our faces, excited about our upcoming tour. Behind us was an amazing view of Mt. Baker. And what an incredible sight to see the Orca pods gliding beside our ship.

We passed several islands along the way to San Juan and viewing the quiet and quaint beaches gave us a feeling of wanting to explore every island in depth. We thoroughly enjoyed the Bald Eagles majestically perched among the Douglas Fir trees. So much wildlife so much closer to us than usual, from Canadian Geese to sea lions and harbor seals, to the numerous birds along the shores. I envied those who call these incredible islands home. Living away from the hustle and bustle of the city on these islands is something I would cherish. Our visit was way too short and left us with wanting to return to explore more of the islands as soon as we could. Be sure to see the Whale Museum if you go. The San Juan Islands are truly a treasure trove of wildlife.

The Adventures of Hayley Cat, Hayley Cat Sails the San Juan Islands, inspired by our vacation, is published by Lyric Power Publishing and is available at Thank you for stopping by Lyric Power Publishing today and reading about the kinds of things that inspire us to write our stories.

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Happy National Cat Day! by Rhonda Banuelos

Happy National Cat Day!

In honor of all the felines in our precious world – Happy National Cat Day! We at Lyric Power Publishing support the creator of this special day, Colleen Paige, and her efforts to spread awareness of sharing our loving homes with a feline through adoption.

A girl reads a book about cat adventures to cats in a shelter.
Sofia, Volunteer Reader to Cats up for Adoption in Orcas Islands, Washington

For the kitties still waiting for their forever homes, The Adventures of Hayley Cat series has volunteers, like Sofia, pictured here, who reads to the cats in the shelter on Orcas Island, Washington.

Adventures at Home with the Real Hayley Cat

I will always treasure the special memories Hayley Cat has given me through the years. He is a male Siamese-Seal Point/Himalayan mix. The moment I saw him online available for adoption, I jetted down to meet him at the Humane Society. He was about six-months-old. Due to a skin infection, he had a bald spot on his tail—other than that he was purrfect! I loved his coloring and blue eyes.

I had an immediate connection with him and knew he would bring more joy to our happy home. I filled out the necessary paperwork to adopt him and was told he would be ready to be picked up after 5:00 p.m. I was so excited and promptly went shopping for all the accessories: toys, cat bed, food and needs for his care. That evening I introduced him to his new home. He acclimated quickly and soon became the dear companion of our other cat, Bailey.

By nature, Siamese-Himalayan breeds are intelligent, curious, talkative and affectionate cats. Hayley won my heart over instantly. He brushed his body against my legs and walked around me, marking me as his territory, rubbing his face on me and secreting his scent. His unique meow has a high-pitched trill to it. It sounds more like, Meeeauwwhoa, mixed with little, short meow-meows. Siamese-Himalayan mixed cats are known for their musical voices and talkative natures. I definitely see evidence of this trait.

Hayley was a high jumper and found his special napping spot on top of the kitchen cabinets during the day. He had a life of leisure, but nighttime was playtime, with his toys and investigating every room in the house. Sometimes we would hear the opening of cupboards.

One of Hayley’s favorite things to do is to initiate playtime with Bailey, our other cat. He sits on the rug in the bathroom, crouching on his back legs and wiggling his hind end, then leaping over five feet to scare Bailey, casually walking by, unsuspecting of the taunt. Hayley chases him around the room and off they go to play. He sure is a character and very funny to watch!

Cats usually like to bring gifts to their owners to show them their love. Hayley did this once for me. It was a cool Autumn morning when he was perched on top of the patio wall. Little did I know that he was waiting to catch a bird. Before I knew it, feathers covered the patio and there it was, a dead bird gifted me on the mat. I didn’t blame his instincts, but cleaning the mess was gross. I told him to come inside and play and luckily, I didn’t have to see that incident repeat itself.

Thank you, Hayley, for bringing so much joy to our family.

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My Inspiration for the Hayley Cat Series by Rhonda Banuelos, Author

A children's book cover with the protagonist cat and a dolphin
A delightful children’s story of a friendship between a cat named Hayley and a sociable dolphin. They live on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, where they share one of the greatest treasures of life, friendship, and live the Aloha spirit.

The inspiration for writing and creating the Hayley Cat Book series for children came back to me one day as I thought of my time living on Oahu, Hawaii. My husband and I wanted to fill our home with more love, and that included adding pets to our life. We anxiously searched for that special cat at the local Humane Society. It was Hayley who stood out from the rest. We could tell he had a curious nature in him. Our hunch was right because he gave us so many things to laugh about every day.

I really wanted to give something back, something in writing.  I hoped to promote the importance of friendship, literacy, interest in animals and the islands of Hawaii, in addition to the bonding that happens between parent and child when reading together. Life is always better with a bedtime adventure to create fond and lasting memories.

My quest was set into motion and Book One of The Adventures of Hayley Cat was published. I used Oahu, Hawaii as the backdrop because that is where Hayley was born and adopted by us. The first friend that Hayley encounters in Book One is Emerine, a playful dolphin. I have a great fondness for dolphins and the ocean. One of my favorite memories is swimming with Spinner Dolphins off the coast of the Big Island, Hawaii. It was a magical feeling. My love of animals and island life inspired me to create an endearing story of the Aloha Spirit and friendship.

I hope to touch hearts with the Hayley Cat Adventure books. Thank you for visiting Lyric Power Publishing and reading here about our books.