Palace resident, 85, a first time author with kids book

Palace resident, 85, a first time author with kids book

Viola Smallwood, author of The Saga of Missy the Cat, with Lucy “Missy the Cat” Dominguez.

Viola Smallwood looked at the audience in disbelief. There was a large crowd — young and old alike — gathered at The Palace in Kendall to celebrate the release of her new book, The Saga of Missy the Cat.

At age 85, Smallwood never imagined she’d be an author, let alone be sitting center stage for a book reading as children, dressed as their favorite cat character, eagerly anticipated hearing about the antics of her former cat, “Missy,” the inspiration for the children’s book.

“This is a new honor for me,” said Smallwood, a retired registered nurse who has lived at The Palace Suites for the past seven years. “It’s been the surprise of my life to become an author.”

Published by Pittsburgh-based Dorrance Publishing Co., the book hit bookstores on Aug. 6 and retails for $15.

The Palace Suites, a luxury retirement community, hosted the book release party and signing for Smallwood on Saturday, Aug 16. As part of the festivities, Operation PAW showcased several furry felines available for adoption. The non-profit organization estimates that there are 500,000-800,000 feral cats in South Florida.

Guests enjoyed face painting and animal balloons as well as a delicious luncheon. The youngest attendees also received a personalized, autographed copy of The Saga of Missy the Cat.

Smallwood’s fellow neighbors congratulated the new author with several commenting that they had to “get a copy for the grandkids”.

After two years of working on the book, Smallwood is quite pleased that it is now a reality, though she’s still taking it all in. “I’ll wake up tomorrow and think that I’ve dreamt it all,” she said.

“I’m so delighted and hope everyone enjoys reading the book as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.”

For more information about purchasing The Saga of Missy the Cat, please visit

Located at 11355 SW 84 St., The Palace Suites is part of The Palace’s continuum of care campus which includes The Palace Renaissance for assisted living; The Palace Royale, offering “catered” assisted living services, and The Palace Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a Medicare five-star community which received the Governor’s Gold Seal Award.

For more about The Palace, visit or call 305-270-7000.

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