Sunday, July 16, 2017

Say hello to Meg Macy!

Merow!  My guest this week is author Meg Macy!



Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close ​enough ​to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter -- the area she chose for the setting of her new "Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear" cozy mystery series for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery series; two​, Wouldn't It Be Deadly and Get Me to the Grave On Time​ ​were​ Agatha Award finalists​ for Best Historical​. Meg's first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. She's a graduate of Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program. Meg loves reading mysteries, historicals, and other genre fiction, and also enjoys gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.


R:  Welcome Meg! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

Thanks ROCCO!  I’m an avid reader, and started writing when my daughter was a toddler – children’s puzzles, etc. (magazine credits between 1997-2001) - and wrote a few romances. Those manuscripts, unfortunately, had dead bodies cropping up – so the editors would pass after complimenting my “voice” and style. After a break until my daughter entered college, I started over in the mystery genre via Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. Within a year of graduating, I was published. Double Crossing, a western historical mystery, won the Western Writers of America 2012 Spur Award for Best First Novel. Quite a surprise to me!

R: Tell us about your  “Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear” mystery series!  Where did that idea come from?

I started collecting teddy bears after buying a Paddington Bear at Harrods in London. When I needed a cozy theme, I researched if any other series had teddy bears (only one, John J. Lamb’s Teddy Bear Collector series) and also discovered that the Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory had moved from Michigan to Missouri. Rats! But I found photos online of the shop, which had offered tours, and developed my own unique small town shop and factory.

R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

I didn’t have an agent when my first novel sold, but I do co-write the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins mystery series (My Fair Lady fans, take note!) with a friend and fellow author, Sharon Farrow. We wrote the first book, Wouldn’t It Be Deadly, sent a query at 9 am one day, and received a phone call from the agent by 11 am – not just interested in seeing the completed manuscript, but offering representation! We were shocked. That’s virtually unheard of, really, and he sold it within three weeks. So exciting. I was also thrilled when my current editor thought the idea was “adorable” and made an offer for my teddy bear cozy series within a few months.


R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

Pinterest. Seriously! I have multiple secret boards for photos of my setting, characters, fashions, etc. I also use Michael Hauge’s 5-point plot arc, and I spend at least a month developing character sketches before working up a detailed synopsis/outline. Saves a lot of time in the long run. I also have my “Sheldon” spot on the sofa, near the window, where I do most of my writing. I love to watch the squirrels and birds, and see my flowers while working.

R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

Wow, great question. I’d say when Gutenberg invented his printing press – I would have loved to be involved in that! It changed history.

R:  If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?

That’s a toss-up between Bearly Departed (a perfect idea for the Hallmark channel, and I’d love to see NCIS’s Emily Wickersham as my amateur sleuth Sasha Silverman!) and also Wouldn’t It Be Deadly – but I don’t have an actress in mind for Eliza. Who can beat Audrey Hepburn? Or Rex Harrison as Higgins. Sigh. Wouldn’t that be loverly…

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

I’m a Christmas cookie fiend. Seriously, a fiend.

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?

Tried to go up a down escalator. And failed. I still laugh about that. Long story, shared with my writing partner back in college.

R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

A sense of family connections, which are important to me, and that justice is served in the end of all cozy mysteries – unlike other books, or real life.

R: What are you working on at the moment / next?


I just sent in Bear Witness to Murder, book 2 of the Teddy Bear cozy series. Next I will start With A Little Bit of Blood for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins series with Sharon Farrow. Two books in that series have been finalists in the Best Historical category of the Agatha Award from Malice Domestic. We’re really proud of that.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter, definitely, for novels. I have “pantsed” a short story or novella at times, but even that needs a basic outline.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Persistence is key, hard work pays off, and listen to only the best advice.

R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Teaching school, or retired and writing picture books! I love picture books, the artwork blended with words. I’m also an artist, so I’d probably be doing a lot more watercolors. No time now, unfortunately.

R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?

Soooo many, it’s hard to choose! Design for Dying, Renee Patrick; What You See, Hank Phillippi Ryan; The Song of the Lion, Anne Hillerman.


Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day – I am a happy morning person, to some friends’ dismay.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  BOTH! Love the furries, so much.
Beach or Pool?   Pool – no surprises, but I don’t mind walking a Florida beach looking for shells or a Petoskey stone in Michigan.
Favorite Book?  Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Favorite TV Series?  Remington Steele
Favorite Movie?  Cary Grant’s – North by Northwest, Charade, Father Goose, etc.
Favorite Actor:  David Suchet as Hercule Poirot, or Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes
Favorite Actress:  Dame Maggie Smith or Audrey Hepburn

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Agatha Christie.
If I had just one wish, it would be to live on Mackinac Island.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be  myself at a younger age, so I could start writing much earlier!

Thanks Meg! Folks, you can find Meg at:


GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!!!!!



Meg will give away a print copy of Bearly Departed to one lucky commenter!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! US entries only! Contest ends midnight, July 23!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Revisiting Nadine Nettman!

The lovely Nadine Nettman was my guest last year when her first novel, Decanting a Murder, debuted from Midnight Ink.  This May #2 in the series, Uncorking a Lie, debuted.  We thought in honor of Nadine's second book we would reprint her original interview! 

Product Details

  • Welcome Nadine! Tell us a little about your background

Hi Rocco, I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life and while I’ve had a few different careers, I’m so glad I’m finally able to combine my two loves – writing and wine. I also have a love for travel and I’ve been fortunate to visit wine regions around the world including Chile, South Africa, Spain, Germany, and every region in France.

  • Tell us a bit about your new series and the first volume, Decanting a Murder.

Decanting a Murder is about Katie Stillwell, a female sommelier who solves mysteries using her deductive wine skills. A large part of the sommelier certification process is blind tasting – looking, smelling, and tasting a wine to tell where it’s from, which grape, the vintage, etc. I thought it would be fun to apply this to a series in the wine world and Decanting a Murder was born. Every chapter is paired with a wine.

  • You are a certified Sommelier in real life.  How exciting is that and what prompted you to become one?

I’ve always had an interest in wine, but my actual wine journey started in 2010 when I was covering a wine and food festival as a travel writer. I was switching seats when Master Sommelier Fred Dame took my hand and led me on stage. He seated me on the wine panel next to Master Sommeliers and winemakers and I was terrified. I knew nothing about wine except that I enjoyed it. I managed to get through the panel but it sparked a desire to learn more, in fact, as much as I could. I began studying and passed Level 1, then passed Level 2 and became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2011. I recently saw Fred at an event and was able to tell him how much he changed my life. It was a very cool moment.

  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I use a character worksheet but I think it’s safe to say there’s a fair share of myself in Katie Stillwell. I’ve heard a lot of advice to write what you know and since the most common comment on my first four books (all shelved for the time being) was that they didn’t know the main character, I decided to put a lot of myself in Katie, though she’s still very fictionalized.

  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I love writing by the seat of my pants, but I’ve found I spend a lot of time rearranging scenes so now I’ve switched to outlining.

  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

I’m a huge fan of plot.

  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Perseverance. There were so many times when I could have given up but didn’t. It took me ten years to get here, but I never wanted to let go of my dream of walking into a bookstore and seeing my name on a book. Which will happen in May. I’m so excited!

  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?

Yes! It took me a very long time to find an agent – ten years and five books – but I found my agent through the slushpile. I was so used to rejection that when Danielle Burby at Hannigan Salky Getzler emailed that she wanted to talk, I reread it three times before I allowed myself to celebrate. A few minutes into our first phone conversation, I immediately knew she was the agent for me, so much so, that I forgot to ask her any of the questions I had planned. She’s been amazing and 100% worth waiting for.

  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m currently working on book #2 in the wine series, tentatively titled Uncorking a Lie, and I’m also working on a domestic suspense. My future writing plans are to keep writing. I truly love it.

  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

Every workday is different but I try to devote several hours a week to writing. My current goal is do to a 1,000 words every weekday.

  • If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?

That’s a tough one but I would go with On Writing by Stephen King, Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, and J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton. I’ve read each of them several times and I love them.

  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Never give up. Just keep trying.

  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Right after we got married, my husband and I stored 90% of our belongings, quit our jobs, and flew to Hawaii with two suitcases each. We planned to stay for about a year but we ended up staying for five years. Looking back, I still can’t believe we did that but it was such an amazing part of our journey together.

  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?

I’ve played guitar for 20 years.

  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)

This is my first interview so I’m not sure yet. Can I get back to you? J

  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?





Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Day – I’m definitely a morning person.

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) –  I’ve had cats all of my life.

Beach or Pool?   Beach. I love the waves and the feel of the sand beneath my feet.

Steak or salad?  Salad. I don’t eat red meat and I also happen to be a huge fan of salad.

Favorite Drink?  Can I just say wine? ;)  Okay, I’ll be more specific. For white wine, I’m a big fan of German riesling and for red wine, I’m a big fan of cab franc.

Favorite Book?  Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. I fell in love with the book from the very first line.

Favorite TV Series?  The BBC One Sherlock series. The writing is brilliant as is the acting by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Favorite Movie?  Psycho. When I watched it, I had no idea that Norman Bates was his mother so I got the full effect that Hitchcock wanted viewers to get and it completely stunned me. It’s been at the top of my list ever since.

Favorite Actor: Anthony Hopkins

Favorite Actress: It’s a tie between Rachel McAdams and Meryl Streep

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska? Since I lived there for five years, I’d have to vote for Hawaii J

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be… Nora Ephron. I love her movies and her views on life.

If I had just one wish, it would be… for health and happiness for everyone in my life.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be… no one.  

Product Details


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Repost from 2013- Character Interview, Abby Cooper and Victoria Laurie!

Meow!

I've been a big fan of Victoria Laurie for quite awhile - her "Psychic Eye" and also her "Ghost Hunter" series!  Abby (and Victoria!) have a new adventure out in July, so as a tribute we thought we'd repost this character interview with Abby from 2013!



And now...in my hotseat...ABBY COOPER HERSELF!


R)  Good Morning, Abby. Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: Good morning, ROCCO!  (waves)  Thanks for being so patient with me...it's been a busy year!  Anyhoo, I'm a professional psychic currently living in Austin, TX.  Originally I'm from a small city in Michigan called Royal Oak, and I only moved to Texas when my fiancé Dutch, was promoted to Special Agent within the FBI and took a job in Austin for the bureau's cold case division.  I also work for the bureau as a civilian profiler...fancy talk for psychic consultant.  In addition to my private clients, I also work the occasional private investigative case with my BFF, Candice Fusco -  who's just the best P.I. in the biz.  (i.e. she bends a lot of rules and helps to keep me out of sticky situations...which I'm forever getting myself into...ahem...)  Dutch and I are currently planning our wedding....okay, so we're not actually planning it as much as we're letting my sister play the role of wedding planner on steroids...and at this point, I'm not sure it's actually an easier or less stressful process but it's too late to turn back now.

R) When did you first realize you had psychic abilities?
A: I think I was pretty young - eleven or twelve maybe when little things I'd say would start to happen.  It just built up from there, but I don't think I actually considered myself a psychic until another dear friend of mine - who was a professional medium - told me that's what I was.  For many years I was simply too afraid of my own abilities to do anything with them, but with her gentle help, I sort of came into my own and started to read for clients, and now I've got a dozen years under my belt as a professional intuitive and a client list that's ever growing.  It's pretty awesome.  :)

R) Have you made the acquaintence of another psychic ghostbuster, MJ Holliday?  If so, how did you meet? How do you get along? (Guess that's three questions in one, eh????)
A: M.J. and I met a few years ago when I needed her help to get rid of a couple ghostly squatters taking up residence in an investment property I got suckered into.  The good news is that M. J. did help me, and we hit it off right away.  I love that girl - she's very down-to-earth and she can handle herself really well in sticky situations.  Her best friend Gilley is also a hoot!  Gotta loves me some Gilley.

R)  Out of all your adventures, do you have a favorite?
A:  :)  My next adventure is usually my favorite.  I think this summer when Dutch and I finally get the chance to tie the knot will be my favorite.  M. J.'s coming to the wedding, actually, so it should be a blast.  (Hee, hee...Literally!)

R)  Which profession do you prefer: psychic or FBI Civilian Profiler?
A:  I don't know that I have a preference of one over the other.  I like them both.  Psychic sessions are very interesting things from the point of view of the psychic, because each new client is a mystery, and the things I pull out of the ether can really surprise me.  Being a profiler for the FBI is really cool in a different way - there's just no better high than solving a crime and bringing the bad guys to justice.  I love them both.


R) You recently got engaged.  Can you share any wedding/honeymoon plans? Where would you like to go on your honeymoon?
A: I can't share much in the way of plans, because my sister Cat is doing all the planning, and I'm out of the loop...okay, so I'm mostly out of the loop because I dodge Cat's calls a lot and sometimes she sends people to kidnap me just to get a decision on the caterer, but I have a feeling Cat is going for big.  I mean BIG!  And that means that right up until the day of the ceremony I may try to talk Dutch into eloping.

As for where to go on our honeymoon...wow.  Well, I guess anywhere that Dutch and I won't be reachable by phone.  I'd love a beach and lots of coconut oil, and of course some good books to read.

R) Describe your relationship with your sister Cat. (Love her name, Meow!)
A:  Cat is this amazing dynamo of energy and brains wrapped in a tiny blond package.  You don't so much as go along with Cat, as you just step out of the way before she runs over you with the bulldozer she's just stollen.  True story.  I love my sister with all my heart, but sometimes, she's better in small doses.  Now...if I could only figure out where she hides her bullhorn so I could snatch it before the rehearsal dinner, I'll be all set!


R) If Hollywood came knocking at your door and wanted to make a movie out of one of your advenures, which one would you hope it would be and who would you like to play you?
A:  Ha!  Well, I think that Better Read Than Dead would probably make the best movie, and as for who should play me?  Emma Stone, hands down.  I think she's amazing!

R)  Any advice for aspiring writers (or psychics?)
A: If you want to be a writer then write.  Write your fanny off.  The only way to get better is to keep doing it.  So write every day if you can, at the very least you should write every few days consistently. 

R)  How do you feel about Victoria Laurie recounting your adventures?
A:  Terrific!  She writes it just how I live it, so it's a good match.

 
R:  And now, just for fun: Tell us your favorite:

A: Movie: Hmmm...The Princess Bride.  I could watch that movie over and over.
Book: I have two: A Is For Alibi and The Hobbit
Author: Sue Grafton.  That woman walks on water in my book.
Psychic: Kevyn Allen  He was my mentor and now he's a very dear friend.  Also, the best psychic I've ever known - by a LOT
Actor: Daniel Craig.  I love the scenes where he's mostly naked.  ;)
TV Show: I have two again: The Good Wife and Downton Abbey.  Any show with writing that brilliant gets a thumbs up from me
FBI or CIA?  CIA, hands down.  I love a good spook.  ;)
Martini or Manhattan?  Neither - I don't drink!  But give me an Arnold Palmer, (1/2 lemonade + 1/2 Iced Tea) and I'm in heaven.
Psychic or Detective?  Psychic
Demon or Devil? Neither.  I'm an angel kind of gal
Island or Mountains?  Mountains - I'll take a breathtaking view any day over sand and water
and, last but not least CAT or Dog?  Dog.  I have two of the best pups ever, so I might be biased (TEAR SLIDES ROCCO'S CHEEK)


Meow, thank you Abby (and Victoria, too) for a great interview!

Folks, to keep up with all of Victoria's series and current releases, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter ( I did!)  !HERE

Cat-ch Abby's newest adventure, A PANICKED PREMONITION, out July 4!
A Panicked Premonition (Psychic Eye Mystery)
Penguin has donated a copy of Psychic Eye Book 14, A GRAVE PREDICTION, to give away to one lucky commenter!

When Abby is sent to Los Angeles to help train FBI officers to use their intuition, she encounters a case that only she can solve: a series of bank robberies in which the thieves made off with loads of cash but left no clues. Abby’s sixth sense leads her team to a tract of land recently cleared for development, where she gets a vision of four buried bodies. However, a site search turns up only ancient bones and pottery from an American Indian tribe, which is enough to delay construction for years. 

With a furious developer and dubious FBI agents on her back, Abby is losing credibility fast. But Abby’s talent rarely leads her astray, and if the bodies aren’t there yet, that means four deaths can still be stopped. She’ll just have to dig a little deeper...
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment.  Contest ends  midnight  July 9! Good luck!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

ROCCO's guest....Daryl Gerber!

Meow my guest today is author Daryl Gerber!


BIO:
Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense again with her second stand-alone novel, DAY OF SECRETS. Daryl writes the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She has also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself.

  • Welcome Daryl! Tell us a little about your New “French Bistro” series!
Thanks ROCCO!  In A Deadly Éclair I introduce you to Mimi Rousseau, 35, who used to be a chef in San Francisco, but after life dealt her a blow – or rather death did – she returned home to Nouvelle Vie, an unincorporated enclave in Napa Valley with her tail between her legs. Thankfully with the help of a mentor/benefactor, she is able to open her own bistro and neighboring bed-and-breakfast inn. The bistro features French food at its best. The bed-and-breakfast is a charming place designed with a Monet theme. I am loving writing this series. I adore spending time with new characters.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
There are two challenges at all times. Writing the book – mostly the middle that I call the “muddy middle” and feeling like it’s fresh and new and has plenty of twists and turns. Then there’s the PR for promoting a book. Yipes. I think very few authors are prepared for the rigors of promotion.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m working on the second book in the French Bistro Series, Soufflé of Suspicion. I’m also preparing to release another suspense novel in early 2018, and I’m crafting a new cozy mystery series that I hope my publisher will love and want to snap up.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
It depends, but mainly I write about 3 hours in the morning and another 3 in the afternoon. Of course life’s little issues or PR can discombobulate this plan, but that’s my aim. What I try to write each week is 1-2 chapters in whatever I’m working on, plus a page or two in whatever new I’m formulating.
  • Plotter or Pantser?
I am a plotter. I love writing an outline. BUT the outline can morph and change at all times. It’s like a road map. It gest me from point A to point B – yes, I know the ending of my books – but like on a road trip, you can take roads to the left and right for an excursion. I just wrote a chapter that was not in my outline at all, and I loved it.  A new character wanted a little extra page time. How could I refuse?
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane (with an instructor) – so much FUN! And I hitchhiked around Ireland by myself.  Dumb (a little dangerous) but I survived and I really did enjoy the trip. I found out how independent I was.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m not a natural blonde.  LOL  Okay, maybe learning that I was told by my seventh grade teacher that I shouldn’t become a writer. And I believed him. It took me a long, long time to find my confidence with putting thoughts to paper.  Also, I’ve performed on stage a bunch, and I adore it!! I sing and dance and act. I miss it. I haven’t done a show in a few years. I don’t have time.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Why do you like to write in two different genres?  I started as a suspense writer. Actually I started as a screenwriter, but I didn’t find success. Not because I wasn’t good but because we moved across country for my husband’s career, and it was hard to proceed with that career from 3,000 miles away. But I liked writing long form, so I started taking mystery classes. I wrote a couple of mysteries, but found that I really enjoyed writing suspense and thrillers. However, I didn’t find my initial success there. I found it in cozy mysteries. And I learned that I really enjoyed writing them!  But I still like to write suspense. So I am doing both. It’s like wearing different hats when I do. The pace is different. The voice is different. Getting my fans to understand that I’m not throwing them over for a new “lover,” has been a challenge.
  • Where can we learn more about you and your books?
On my website. I have all sorts of tidbits for you to read, watch, and learn. www.darylwoodgerber.com
  • What’s your favorite thing to have for lunch?
I love a tasty grilled cheese sandwich – maybe with three kinds of cheese, onions, and jam. I also love a Cheddar cheese and veggie omelet. I like protein in the middle of the day because it helps me keep my eyes open so I can continue to write!
  • Do you collect anything?
I used to collect butterfly-theme art. I have bunches of little doodads, but I stopped collecting when our family continued to move. To Florida, North Carolina, Connecticut. You find that collectibles really take up a bunch of space. I do have a ton of Christmas ornaments. I don’t collect them, per se, but there was a time when I couldn’t pass a Christmas store without buying a trinket. I’ve stopped doing that, too. 
  • What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved A Wrinkle in Time. It was a Newbury winner. I remember being very afraid while reading it, but loving the adventure! I fell in LOVE with reading when I had the measles and read the entire set of Nancy Drew in a week.
  • What’s something you’re always running out of?
Energy?  No, I have plenty of that.  Let’s go with staples: eggs and milk.
  • What is your go-to comfort food?
Grilled cheese!  It used to be pasta with butter and cheese, but since I became a celiac (and have to eat gluten-free), I don’t eat that as much. I have a great gluten-free pasta, but it just doesn’t appeal like it used to. I can make a delicious grilled cheese with gluten-free bread!
  • If you entered the witness protection program and had to start over, what job would you want to do?
Chef. Not even a question. I love to cook. I’d love to be really good at it, so I’d have to study under someone good first. After that, maybe a country Western singer or a dance instructor.
  • What is your most annoying habit?
Waking up repeatedly during the night. But oftentimes I have new ideas, so I can’t complain. I’ve always been a lousy sleeper but a great dreamer!
  • What would you love to have a never-ending supply of?
Good ideas and clever characters!
  • What’s the last tv show that made you laugh?
I love old reruns of the Mary Tyler Moore show.
  • What store could you browse in for hours?
Any bookstore. A cookware store.
  • Who is your favorite band?
I like individual artists. I like Peter Cetera, Kenny Loggins, Natalie Cole, Sarah Brightman, YoYoMa, Mozart. Very eclectic. And I love show tunes.
  • How do you rate in the kitchen?
I’m pretty good. Innovative. I’m really good at making gluten-free recipes out of regular recipes.
  • What is always in your refrigerator?
Veggies, fruit, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, and something sweet for my 10:30 a.m. snack.

Thank you so much, Daryl!
Folks you can find Daryl at:




Daryl will give away either GRILLING THE SUBJECT from her Cookbook Nook Mysteries, FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE from her Cheese Shop Mysteries or a copy of her suspense novel, DAY OF SECRETS (sorry, A Deadly Éclair is not available for giveaway yet!) plus some swag to TWO lucky commenters!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Also please specify your choice of book.  Contest ends  midnight  July 1st! Good luck!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

ROCCO’s guest blogger: author Nancy Haddock!





Nancy Haddock is an award-winning and national bestselling author of mystery-romance and cozy mysteries. Basket Case and Paint the Town Dead are her current books in the Silver Six Crafting Mystery series with Berkley Prime Crime. The third book in the series, A Crime of Poison, will be released in December, 2017.
Nancy’s earlier books, also with Berkley, are La Vida Vampire, Last Vampire Standing, and Always The Vampire. These paranormal mystery-romances feature Cesca, aka Gidget with fangs, and are set in Haddock’s current hometown, St. Augustine, FL
Nancy draws on historic wealth, southern culture, and the plain old quirkiness of places and people for her books. She lives with her husband and rescue dog Baron.

Best Friends and New Friends
By T.C. (with Nancy Haddock because she takes dictation)

Meow, y’all! Greetings to ROCCO, his human, Toni, and all ROCCO’s Readers!

I’m known as T.C., and I’m a feline of the South—now of southwest Arkansas, to be precise. While I’m quite a lovely orange and brown tiger stripe with green eyes, I’m more a steel magnolia than a southern belle.

My BFF is black and tan German pinscher with some hound dog on the side. Yes, a canine is my best friend, and she’s named Amber for her amber eyes. We were the runts of our respective litters, born under neighboring houses in a place called north Louisiana. We found each other as youngsters, bonded, and took off to have adventures together.

After leaving home, we first found Doris Roche, an elderly lady who was ill and infirm. We sensed she needed us, so Amber and I helped and comforted her in her last months of life. We met Doris’s neighbor, Ruth, and sometimes romped with the young human men who helped around Doris’s property. Just to burn off some kitten and puppy energy, you understand. When Doris passed on peacefully, I stood guard while Amber ran to get Ruth. Within hours, we knew it was time for us to move along.

Running through piney woods, answering only to ourselves, was great for a few weeks. We foraged in small towns, occasionally accepting food from people who smelled kind and harmless when we sniffed them. We avoided being caught as strays, but never found a place we wanted to settle until we scampered into Lillyvale and scented our new human, Nixy.

Nixy’s man friend, Eric Shoar, was the first to spot us in an alley. We charmed him right away, but Nixy was a tougher sell. She’d never had pets, and was wary of adopting us, so we stayed on our best behavior to break her in slowly. Now we live with her above a store that smells of wood, plants, metal, and oil. Oh, and food! The food comes from Nixy’s family—the Silver Six—who work at the store, and live in a farmhouse with lots of room for us to run and play when we visit. We go to the park, too—technically a dog park, but Eric arranged for me to play there with Amber.

Amber and I hope to live with Nixy—and perhaps Eric, too—for a very long time. That is, if Nixy can stop finding bodies. We don’t care for the empty scent of death.

On a happier note, being a well-mannered southern lady, I’ve brought a gift for my host and hostess to giveaway! Read on for more information. Meantime, y’all come visit me, Amber, Nixy, and the Silver Six any time!



Nancy will give away a signed copy of Paint the Town Dead to two lucky readers. Please leave a comment or question for T.C., for Amber, or for Nancy, and please be sure to leave an e-mail address so we can notify you!


Sunday, June 11, 2017

ROCCO interviews Katherine Bolger Hyde!

Meow, today my guest is author Katherine Bolger Hyde!

Katherine Bolger Hyde is the author of the Crime with the Classics traditional mystery series as well as several books for children. She lives in the redwood country of California with her husband, youngest child, and two obstreperous cats. When not reading, writing, or working at her editorial day job, she can usually be found knitting while watching British mystery shows


  • Welcome Katherine! Tell us a little about your background.
Thanks ROCCO! I taught myself to read at age four and decided at age eleven I wanted to be a novelist. My degree is in Russian literature. I’m the daughter of an editor and have worked as an editor my whole career. So it’s fair to say books are my life.
  • Tell us a bit about your Crimes with the Classics mysteries. Where did that idea come from?
I love classic literature and the mysteries of the British Golden Age. So when I decided to write a mystery series, incorporating the classics into the traditional mystery format seemed like the logical choice.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I don’t do a lot of detailed character analysis before I start writing. I establish the character’s role in the story and a few basic facts, then I allow the character to reveal him- or herself as I write. My characters often surprise me once I get going and they take on a life of their own.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I’m halfway between a plotter and a pantser. I sketch out about a one-page synopsis and make virtual notecards in Scrivener for a bunch of scenes I know I’ll need. Then I start writing and let the story evolve. Inevitably new characters and elements come up in the process of writing, though the basic story trajectory usually stays pretty much the same.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Characters always come first for me. The plot evolves from their desires and motivations. When I’m reading, the best plot in the world won’t hold my attention if the characters have not engaged me first.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge was to persevere through all the years before I got my first contract. At this point, I’m motivated by all the stories I want to tell. Also, my computer wallpaper is the Squirrel of Judgment who wants to know why I’m not writing.
  • Do you have a “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
When the manuscript of Arsenic with Austen was about half finished, I won a scholarship to a mystery writing conference that included the opportunity to meet with an agent. The agent I met with, Kimberley Cameron, loved my series concept and my writing, and she asked to see the book when it was finished. I sent it to her, and she read it over a long weekend and offered me representation. Then she sold the book to the first editor she sent it to.
But lest it sound like this was all too easy, let me hasten to add that I had been writing and getting rejected for twelve years by that point. I call it my “twelve-year overnight success story.”
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m working on the fourth volume of Crime with the Classics, called Drowning with Dickens. I also have ideas for a different series and a couple of standalones. Where I go next depends on how long Minotaur wants to continue this series.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Never give up. And always have the humility to accept criticism and good advice. As an editor who has read manuscripts from hundreds of aspiring authors, I can say definitely that humility is the one quality that separates the potentially successful writer from the mere dabbler.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Whatever it was, it was a long time ago, and I’ve blocked it from my memory.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
In my thirties, I led a dance troupe that did Renaissance court dances in authentic costumes we made ourselves.
  • If you entered the witness protection program and had to start over, what job would you want to do?
I’ve always had a latent desire to be an architect. But at this point, I’m a little old to embark on something that takes that much training. So I’ll stick to designing fictional houses like Windy Corner in Arsenic with Austen.
  • What would you love to have a never ending supply of?
Good dark chocolate, good coffee, and great books. And yarn. Lots of yarn.
  • What’s the last tv show that made you laugh?
Father Brown. Although the show has almost nothing to do with G. K. Chesterton’s classic stories, it’s charming in its own right and often quite funny.
  • What store could you browse in for hours?
Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. They even have a café where they let you bring unpurchased books in, so there’s no reason to leave before closing time.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat, of course. In fact, Rocco, you would be perfect to play Bustopher Jones, the cat Emily inherits along with her aunt’s mansion in Arsenic with Austen.
Beach or Pool?   Beach, but I don’t sunbathe and don’t go in the water. I just like to stroll by the waves.
Steak or salad?  Yes.
Favorite Drink?  Dark chocolate mocha.
Favorite Book?  Persuasion
Favorite TV Series?  Inspector Lewis
Favorite Movie?  A&E’s Pride and Prejudice
Favorite Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch
Favorite Actress: Emma Thompson
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Margarita
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Jane Austen.
If I had just one wish, it would be to have the money, time, and health to make a literary pilgrimage to the UK and Ireland.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Louise Penny. I want to be her when I grow up.