Monday, December 11, 2017

Guest blogger - Maya Corrigan!

Meow, my guest blogger this week is Maya Corrigan!

Maya (Mary Ann) Corrigan lives in Virginia, an easy drive from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the setting for her Five-Ingredient Mysteries: By Cook or by Crook, Scam Chowder, Final Fondue, and The Tell-Tale Tarte. The series features café manager Val Deniston, who solves murders with her live-wire grandfather, the Codger Cook, in a Chesapeake Bay tourist town. Each book includes five suspects, five clues, and Granddad's five-ingredient recipes. Before taking up a life of crime on the page, Maya taught courses in writing, American literature, and detective fiction at Georgetown University and NOVA Community College. Visit her website, mayacorrigan.com, for book news and trivia about classic mysteries. She loves hearing from readers.

Hello Everyone and thank you ROCCO!!!

The title of the latest book in the Five-Ingredient Mystery series derives from a story about a murder, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” written by the father of detective fiction, Edgar Allan Poe. As a Poe fan, I thoroughly enjoyed incorporating his writing and incidents from his life into the plot of a current-day mystery. The victim and suspects in The Tell-Tale Tarte are people inspired by Poe: an aging writer whose riffs on Poe’s stories are bestsellers; the author’s entourage, including his publicist and his writing protégé; an actor with a one-man Poe show; a Poe scholar and her son, a Poe look-alike. The event that embroils Val and her grandfather in the search for a murderer occurs at a book club dinner party, when Val serves a French dessert, tarte Tatin, that proves to be a tell-tale tarte.

Val fears for her grandfather’s life when an actor famed for his Edgar Allan Poe one-man show is murdered while dressed like Granddad. She soon learns the actor isn’t the only one doing an impersonation. The search for his killer takes Val to the home of the Poe-inspired author, Rick Usher. When she and Granddad are stranded at the “House of Usher” by an ice storm, they uncover clues to the murder, but will they live to tell the tale? The book’s climax occurs in the Baltimore graveyard where Poe is buried. In the shadow of Poe’s tomb, Val and Granddad try to prevent a murder and mete out some POE-etic justice.

The story features a number of Poe parallels. Themes that Poe explored in his writing emerge in The Tell-Tale Tarte: the double or look-alike character, guilt, and vengeance. Events from the recent past play a role in the plot, including some purloined Poe poetry. The book offers a solution to real real-life mystery–the identity of the elusive Poe toaster, who, annually for decades, left roses and cognac at Poe’s grave on his birthday.

In The Tell-Tale Tarte, you’ll find Poe people, Poe places, Poe parallels, and peppering of Poe puns. You don’t need to know much about the father of the detective story before you read the book, but you’ll probably know more about him by the time you finish it.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Meow! Win a Cozy Mystery!

Meow, ROCCO here!

As we brace for our first snow of the season (the HUMAN says it's too early!)  I thought now would be a good time to have my first cozy giveaway of December!

DEATH BELOW STAIRS which debuts January 2, 2018 is the first in bestselling author Jennifer Ashley's new mystery series.

The heroine of Ashley's popular novella, A SOUPCON OF POISON, returns as the protagonist of this new series.  Kat Holloway is as shrewd and calculating as ever, taking on a new position in the Victorian household of Lord Rankin.  She soon discovers an odd set of characters in the household, from Rankin's masculine spinster to an eccentric cast of servants and lastly the lustful tempestuous Lord Rankin himself.  Trouble boils over when Mrs. Holloway's young assistant is found dead.  As Mrs. Holloway and her enigmatic friend Daniel McAdam begin investigating the murder, they soon find themselves working against an even more dastardly scheme.


Jennifer Ashley has loaded the book with tons of authentic detail. If you love historical cozies, this is the one for you!

HOW TO WIN IT!

Just enter your name and email address in our comments section.  A winner will be chosen using random.com.  Contest ends midnight, December 12. Good luck!


ROCCO

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Welcome backDawn Eastman

Meow,  my guest today is author Dawn Eastman!



Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. After attending medical school in New York City, she returned to Michigan to complete her training in Family Medicine. Much of that time was spent in a small town practice. She now lives in Iowa with her family and one extremely bossy small dog. She is the national bestselling author of The Family Fortune Mystery Series, which features psychics, quirky characters and murders. This is her first Dr. Katie LeClair mystery.


R:  Welcome back Dawn! For those not familiar with your work, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

The short version of the story is this: I always wanted to write, but I took a bit of a career detour and became a doctor. My husband is also a doctor and once children came along it was too hard for us to juggle both schedules. I took some time off to be home with my son and daughter. After they were a little older, I went back to my first love, writing.

R: Tell us about your new series for Crooked Lane, the Dr. Katie LeClair Mysteries” !  Where did that idea come from?

See above as to where the idea came from! I worked in a small town clinic during residency and for a few years after. My favorite part of being a doctor was hearing the stories of the patients and getting to know them. The idea for this book actually began many years ago when I was a resident and it patiently waited in the back of my mind until now.

R:  What about your “Family Fortune” series.  Will we ever hear from Clyde and company again?

Yes! More books are planned, but Katie has taken center stage recently. I love Clyde and the gang and miss them very much.

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

Tea. And also, tea. My small, bossy dog thinks he is necessary to the creative process. He thinks leaning against my arm while I type is particularly helpful.

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

That’s a tough one. I love historical fiction and there are so many time periods I like to read about. Elizabethan England is one, but they didn’t have the greatest plumbing. I might skip ahead to the late nineteenth century. It was such an amazing time with new inventions and discoveries (notably, indoor plumbing).

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?

There are scenes from all of the Family Fortune books that I would love to see on film. If Unnatural Causes was made into a movie, Emma Stone and Matthew Goode are similar to the way I imagine Katie and Matt.

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

Zip-lining with monkeys is on my bucket list.

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

I’m hoping it will be zip-lining with monkeys.

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

I hope they will be entertained. I love hearing from readers who have adopted the Fortune family and consider them friends. I have read many books that made me care about the characters as if they are real people and it’s a great feeling to discover a new set of friends you can visit whenever you want.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I am finishing the second Katie LeClair book and will work on the next Family Fortune in the new year.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter, but I’m not strict about it. It’s more of a framework.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Write as much as you can and read as much as you can. Find a writer’s group and get feedback.

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

If I didn’t go back to medicine, I might open up a yarn store and knit all day. I’m sure there’s plenty of time to knit while running a small business…

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

Louise Penny’s Glass Houses.



Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  both
Beach or Pool?   both
Favorite Book?  My new favorite series is Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series.
Favorite TV Series?  Outlander
Favorite Movie?  A Christmas Story
Favorite Actor: There are so many, it’s too stressful to pick!
Favorite Actress: See above.


You can find Dawn at:




Dawn will give away a signed ARC of her Katie LeClair mystery to one lucky commenter!  To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section. 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.  Contest closes midnight, December 8!  US entries only please.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

ROCCO's annual KIDS NEED TO READ auction

Ma-Row! 
The Human and I have finally gotten our annual Kids Need To Read auction together! Better late than never, right???????

This year we are auctioning off a selection of cozy  mysteries, hardback and paperback:

Hardcover:
Better Late than Never - Jenn McKinlay-1st edition Nov 2016
A Likely Story - Jenn McKinlay-first edition November 2015
Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women - Emily Brightwell-First edition October 2017
Ghost on the Case - Carolyn Hart first edition November 2017

Paperback:
Potions and Pastries - Bailey Cates
Assault and Buttery - Kristi Abbott
A Late Frost - Sheila Connolly

Paperback, autographed by author
Italian Kitchen series by Rosie Genova
Murder and Marinara
The Wedding Soup Murder
A Dish Best Served Cold

Audio:
Crime and Catnip - T. C. Lotempio

Approximate value of prizes:  $175.00

Ebay auction link: https://www.ebay.com/itm/132409630124


About the Charity:

Kids Need to Read was founded as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation in 2008 by PJ Haarsma, Denise Gary, and Nathan Fillion. The mission of the foundation was based on the work of a 2007 project of the same name.

Founded with a passion to improve the lives of disadvantaged children by providing inspiring book collections and engaging literacy programs to underfunded schools, libraries, and organizations across the nation, Kids Need to Read aspires to empower and embolden every last child through a culture of reading. For many of the children it serves, Kids Need to Read represents a crucial link to a strong literacy education, and its programs help build and nurture support systems that these children may be lacking elsewhere in their lives. By immersing children in an integrated world of literary experiences that teaches them, firsthand, the impact of reading on every aspect of life, imagination is ignited and confidence is built for a prosperous future, regardless of race, economic status, or personal capabilities.

To learn more about them, click on this link:
http://www.kidsneedtoread.org/our_mission.html


Sunday, November 19, 2017

ROCCO interviews Susan Tanner

Meow! My guest this week is author Susan Tanner! 


Susan Yawn Tanner is published in historical romance as Susan Tanner but has embarked on an intriguing new series. Her latest venture is a romantic mystery showcasing one smart feline named Trouble. In Trouble in Summer Valley, she combines her love of horses with her love of cats and steps into a new genre - contemporary romantic mystery. Writing in the voice of a black cat detective, especially one with a slight British accent (thanks to his addiction to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes) has spurred a series idea that will be sure to delight readers. Because Ms.Tanner is a horse lover as well as a cat lover, her upcoming Trouble books will have backstories which feature the world of horses, a mini-series within the Familiar Legacy series. Tanner lives on a small ranch in Mississippi and barrel races. 

Her previous novels, Highland Captive, Captive To A Dream, Exiled Heart, Fire Across Texas and Winds Across Texas as well as A Warm Southern Christmas (part of a Christmas anthology), were all published by Leisure Books.


1.    Hi Susan! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I currently combine a very demanding career in a public utility with being a competitive barrel racer (with my daughter) and with writing – again – but more on that later. I have beautiful children and grandchildren who are the light of my life. After two less than stellar marriages, I’ve given up on romance (except in my books!!!)

2.    Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
Whatever you have in your heart to do, do it with all of your heart. Never, ever give up on a dream. As long as you can draw breath, there is no good reason to say ‘It’s too late’ or ‘I’m too old’.  Life is to be lived. Live it!

3.    Please tell us about your newest release    Trouble in Summer Valley embodies a lot of things for me. I published previously in historical romance with Leisure Books. When Carolyn Haines approached me about a collaborative effort to bring to life the son of Familiar (do please read that wonderful series!), my first reaction was very skeptical.
Mystery? Never done that.
Contemporary? Never done that.
Cat’s point of view (seriously?) Definitely never done that!
But to my ever-lasting surprise, I not only ‘did it’ I loved every minute of the writing. Okay, maybe not every minute but most for sure! What a challenge and what gratification to know I really could be more, do more than I ever imagined. (And so can each and every person reading this. Dare to dream! Then ‘do’!)

4.    What was the inspiration behind this story?

That is a little hard (emotionally) to answer. Long before the world had heard of PTSD, I knew the consequences of it. My father served with pride in WWII but he could never talk about his experiences. He, in fact, would cut you short if you asked. I knew, instinctively, that he suffered still for the things he’d been faced with in those combat zones.

Fast forward to another decade another war. A dearly loved cousin stepped on a land mine in Viet Nam and lost both legs. He was told he would never walk again much less ride but he did both through sheer determination.

In Trouble in Summer Valley, I combined my love of horses with the emotional healing I know they can bring.

5.    Tell us about your main character.

Avery Wilson is strong. As strong as I’ve had to be and learned to be. But she’s also very vulnerable as I know I have been and still sometimes am. As a writer, I’ve come to understand that our strongest characters carry our own traits. Hard as that can be to portray, it can also be our greatest achievement.

6.    Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?

I am ALWAYS surprised by my characters, at least to some extent.  I start out one way and they lead me another. The wonderful thing is that they know better than me. They are always ‘in character’ whereas I might sometimes lead them astray.

7.    How long did it take you to write this book?

I will be honest. This book took nearly a year. BUT the first half was in fits and starts. I did most of the actual, honest-to-goodness writing in about three months.


8.    Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)

I think the answer is different, reader-by-reader. If you are looking for lighthearted humor, I’m not your guy . . . er , . . gal! If you want grit and honesty, then I will provide. Some of the scenes with Trouble are definitely written with a touch of humor but – by and large – humor is not my forte’. Honest emotion, yes.

9.    Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
All of them!  Honestly. I loved reading so much I rarely distinguished types of books or styles of writing but all of them influenced!

10. Where can we purchase this book?  Amazon!

11. Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?
At some point I may return to historical romance. Maybe.

12. Where do you see yourself at in five years—writing wise?
Ha! I’ve learned never to predict much of anything – certainly not regarding my own life. I’ve never ‘landed’ where I thought I would!

13. Where can we learn more about you and your books?
My website is susanytanner.com

Random Quickies!
1.    Pepsi or Coke? Coke, for sure, in the small glass bottles!
2.    Favorite kind of chocolate? Ghirardelli’s intense dark!
3.    Cats or dogs? Cats absolutely, though, sadly I am cat allergic with miserable consequences to encounters. But, though you didn’t include, horses first, last, and always.
4.    Do you read more than you write? This varies; sometimes one more than the other, but I ALWAYS meet deadlines.
5.    Favorite movie?  Love with the Proper Stranger (You’ll have to go way back to find that one. I was too young to be allowed to watch it when it first came out but found it decades later and loved it!) and Urban Cowboy.
6.    Hardback/Paperback or eReader? Still prefer print in hand. I like hardback but not the expense but I ALWAYS pass these on so feel vindicated. Paperback probably more economical but …
7.    Favorite color? Depends on the day and my mood. My youngest grandson and I have this conversation often. He doesn’t get that my ‘favorite color’ can vary day to day. Today is green by the way.
8.    How many paperback/hardcover books do you own?
Not many currently. And I’m glad the question isn’t ‘how many have you purchased’! I live in a small house that my son built with his own two hands. It’s absolutely beautiful with high end finishes that I love. I deliberately wanted small because my needs are few and I’m not a fan of housework (but don’t think tiny house, not that small!). So, I frequently buy paperback/hardcover but immediately pass them on to the other readers in my family and expect them to pass them on to the readers in their extended families. Books are to be shared!
9.    Do you own a laptop or desktop computer?
Laptop. I had a desktop but my day-job requires that I be very mobile. Because of that, I find I’m very comfortable working with a laptop where ever I am, home or away from home.
10. What book are you reading today?
I’m between books but typically something by Jill Shalvis because she makes me laugh. Or Carolyn Haines ‘Bones’ series. My books tend to be very intense so I love books that bring humor.
11. If you could live anywhere in the world it would be:

Right where I am! It is a beautiful, small town that takes pride in its appearance. Where I would like to visit is a whole different story!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

ROCCO's guest Karen Rose Smith

Meow, my guest this week is author Karen Rose Smith!


USA TODAY Bestselling and award-winning author Karen Rose Smith was born in Pennsylvania, in the Susquehanna Valley.
In college, Karen began writing poetry and also met her husband to be. They both began married life as teachers, but when their son was born, Karen decided to try her hand at a home-decorating business. She returned to teaching for a while but changes in her life led her to writing fiction. Now she writes full time. Her first novel was published in 1992; her 100th book will be published in 2018.
 A winner of New Jersey's Golden Leaf Award in Short Contemporary Romance, Colorado Romance Writers Award Of Excellence for short contemporary, as well as the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter's Golden Quill for Traditional Romance, she has also been honored with Cataromance.com's award for Best Special Edition. Her novels have made both the USA TODAY list, Amazon's Cozy Bestseller List and Amazon Contemporary Romance Bestseller list. She is writing two mystery series now for Kensington Books in addition to her indie SEARCH FOR LOVE series and her Harlequin romances.

  • Welcome Karen! Tell us a little about your background
Hi and thanks ROCCO!  I'm Karen Rose Smith.  I write mystery, romance and women's fiction.  My 100th novel will be released in 2018.  Besides writing, my passion is caring four our six rescued cats (We just adopted two new kittens.).  In addition, we care for two outside strays (a sibling pair) who spend most nights in our basement.

An only child, I delved into books at an early age. I learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished I could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though I escaped often into story worlds, I had many aunts, uncles and cousins around me on weekends. My sense of family and relationships began there.  Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in my novels, whether romances or mysteries, along with couples finding true love.

I like to use different settings to give books a unique sparkle. Many of my first releases were set around my home town in Pennsylvania. One hundred books later, I now enjoy settings like Northern Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming where the landscape can become as integral to the plot as another character. There is something about canyons, mountains and the ocean that give me a sense of awe and I like to bring that to my romances as well as mysteries.

Readers often ask me about my pastimes. I have herb, flower and vegetable gardens that help me relax. In the winter, I cook rather than garden! And year round I spend most of my time with my husband, as well as my cats who are my constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding me life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Something I always dreamed of, but I never expected, happened this year.  One of my romances, HIS COUNTRY CINDERELLA, has been made into a TV movie—A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.  It will air on November 23rd on the UP Network.
  • Tell us a bit about your two series.  How did those ideas come about?
After 20 years of writing romance, my agent suggested I write a cozy mystery.  I was at a conference at the time, meeting with him.  At first the idea was foreign and I told him I'd have to write about something I knew.  He said that was fine.  So I came up with the idea of a home decorator who turned into a home stager because of the economy.  Fate led her to high-end clients and she is able to do quirky themes to stage their homes.  As I developed the idea to include an open house, it only made sense that her sister would be a caterer.  Using my favorite Italian names from my Italian background, I created the large De Luca family.  My sleuth and home stager, Caprice De Luca, is my alter ego.  She likes to cook, find homes for stray animals and have strong friend and family relationships.  Of course, I've included romantic relationships over the course of the series until her heart tells her who is Mr. Right.
With my second series, Daisy's Tea Garden Mysteries, I use my love of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and liking for tea as a starting point.  My Sleuth, Daisy Swanson, is very different from Caprice.  She is a widowed mom of two teenage daughters.  She owns Daisy's Tea Garden with her Aunt Iris.  All the women in her mother's family have flower names.  She named her own girls Violet and Jasmine.  This series has a homespun quality that I enjoy delving into.  Daisy will also become involved in a romantic relationship.
  • Tell us about your latest release
SLAY BELLS RING, my November 2017 Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery, is a holiday cozy. 
Christopher and Sara Merriweather have the perfect life.  They are selling their beautiful historic home that Caprice De Luca stages with the theme Christmas Delight. They plan to downsize.  Their grown children are in the vicinity and their craft shop is doing well.  Blitz, the white Malamute Chris rescued, is always by his side.  A Vietnam veteran, Chris has come to terms with his PTSD and even plays Santa Claus.  When he is murdered at the sleigh on Santa Lane not far from Santa's cabin, everyone is shocked.  (Blitz may have seen the murderer.)  As Caprice delves into the Merriweathers' lives, she discovers more than one secret.  The main one—Chris was dying from a brain tumor and had told no one.
Caprice meets with Chris's Vietnam buddies to see if she can gather clues and ferrets out secrets and complex connections that seem difficult to unravel.  Blitz, whom her dad has adopted, becomes a vital part of solving the murder when Caprice realizes there is something hidden inside the dog's collar that gives her clues.  A meeting at Santa Lane with one of the suspects is risky, but Caprice feels she has no choice.  With Blitz and her dad nearby, she finally discovers who the murderer is.  Her dad comes to the rescue and Blitz saves her life.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I choose a character's personality before I choose his or her name.  Once I name a character, that name seems to bring with it traits that I develop along with the background.  I write a full synopsis before starting a book so I know my characters fairly well when I begin chapter one.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I construct my plots according to the word length I need.  Since I have been writing for thirty years, instinct takes over.  I plot the specific number of chapters, three to four scenes a chapter.  Once in a while, a character takes over a plot, but that's not a usual occurrence.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
I consider character more important.  A well-plotted book leaves me cold if I don't become involved in the characters' lives.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenges have been my physical disabilities.  Back surgery that left me in pain was one of the reasons I began writing.  About fifteen years ago, fibromyalsia began affecting my eyes, so now I use a tape recorder to write and I have a typist transcribe it.  These days, a challenge is the time writers have to spend on social networks for promotion.  They can become a real time sink.  But raw writing is always a priority for me. 
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Early in my career, I went to a conference and had several agent appointments.  My first choice was Evan Marshall, but at that time, he turned me down.  I did acquire an agent at that conference.  When I left that agency five years later, I queried Evan and he took me on.  We've worked together for over twenty years.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now, I am working on Caprice mystery #8—CUT TO THE CHAISE.  I plan to keep writing mysteries...and maybe romances, too.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
At present, I am taking a break from promotion which was eating up 80% of my time.  I've been devoting myself to raw writing, which I enjoyed the most early in my career.  I am enjoying it now as well. In a few days, I will be editing CUT TO THE CHAISE.  Those days, I read and edit most of the day to keep the continuity and to make sure I have the details right.
  • 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?
THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER by Kathleen Woodiwiss
The latest Harlan Coben novel
The latest Lisa Scottoline
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Write every day.  Be persistent concerning everything about your career.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I rode a horse over a jump for the first time.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I write using a tape recorder.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
QUESTION:  Can you tell me about your cats?
ANSWER:  We have 6 inside cats from three months to 16 years old.  We also care for a sibling pair that is still feral in many ways.  We've trained them to come into the basement at night so they are protected from other creatures and cold weather.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
I have two websites, one that features all my books and a second that concentrates on my mysteries

Thank you Karen!
Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  NIGHT
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  CAT  (Good answer, merow!)
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?   Steak
Favorite Drink?   Mocha Latte
Favorite Book?   ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
Favorite TV Series?   The Nightshift
Favorite Movie?   Ghost
Favorite Actor:   Colin Donnell
Favorite Actress:  Drew Barrymore
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Michelle Obama
If I had just one wish, it would be to be pain-free all of the time.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be (I don't want to trade places with anyone!!)

You can find out more about Karen at:
Romance Website:  http://www.karenrosesmith.com/

Giveaway time!

Karen will give away a $10 Amazon Gift Card and an advance copy of her January cozy mystery release, MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES.

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, please. Contest closes midnight, November 17!




Friday, November 10, 2017

Guest poster: Mary Ellen Hughes

Cats or No Cats?
Mary Ellen Hughes



Are cats a necessary element to mysteries? I can guess what Rocco’s answer would be. Mine would be a bit more qualified.

Necessary? No. There’s scads of good mysteries with no felines, whatsoever. But enriching? I definitely think so. Which is why I wrote a cat into A Fatal Collection, the first of my new Keepsake Cove series.

            Jagger, a large Russian Blue mix, was owned by the aunt of my main character, Callie Reed. Aunt Mel told Callie on her first visit that she kept the cat’s name after bringing him home from the shelter and seeing him “strut around the cottage like a rock star.”

            When Callie’s aunt died suddenly during that visit from what was officially ruled an “accident”, Callie learned to her astonishment that she’d inherited her aunt’s music box shop and amazing fairy-tale cottage, as well as… her cat. Jagger turned out to be the most comforting element of all to Callie during that very difficult time. Though he startled her nearly to death on their first meeting by leaping down to her feet from a high bookshelf, after Aunt Mel’s funeral he was all purrs and cuddles, as though letting her know he shared her grief and they would work through it together.

            He might also have been urging her to find out the truth of his former mistress’s death, which Callie had serious doubts about, early on. As she began looking into what might really have happened to her aunt, Jagger continued to back her up by offering…comfort. And isn’t that what every amateur detective in a cozy mystery is in need of after a stressful day? I’d say so.

            As the past owner of several cats (at one point three at a time!), I’m totally aware of the comforting effects of cats. Of course, they can also have their downsides (we won’t mention the hair balls, furniture scratches, or litter box problems), but when they’re good, they can be very, very good. Whose blood pressure hasn’t lowered with a purring cat snuggled on their lap or can deny the pleasures of being greeted with joy at the front door after a long day? Never mind that the joyfulness leads pointedly to the food bowl. It’s still a lovely feeling and makes the cost of that high-end cat foot so worth it.

            Jagger, though, acted beyond simple comfort. There were times when his acute hearing gave important alerts to Callie, as the murderer, aware of her closing in, became threatening. Far be it from me to spoil anything for readers, so let’s just say that having a cat in her house was definitely an important safety feature—and it helped me greatly in writing a suspenseful scene.

            Another advantage of a cat in a mystery is that when your main character lives alone, there’s always someone to talk to, particularly while mulling over clues. Yes, the author can tell us what the character is thinking, but saying things out loud puts more life into the scene, to my mind. Especially if the cat responds in some way to important points that helps emphasize them. Dogs, of course, can be talked to as well, but they tend to interpret most of it as, “want to go for a walk?” and get all excited, whereas cats remain quiet and blink knowingly. That can be much more useful for reaching conclusions.

            So cats, I believe, are a definite asset to a cozy mystery. In fact, I intend to keep Jagger around and healthy in the books that follow A Fatal Collection. I might also think about placing a cat in the rest of the collectibles shops in Keepsake Cove as well. Shake It Up! (collectible salt and pepper shakers), could have a Tuxedo,  Kids at Heart (vintage toys) might acquire an orange tabby, and The Collectible Cook could have, oh, let’s see, maybe a Siamese or a calico sitting in its window.


            I’m guessing Rocco would approve, wouldn’t you?


ROCCO: Absolutely, PURRRRR