Wednesday, December 17, 2014

And to all a HAPPY HOLIDAY!



It’s the Holiday Season, and the Human and I want to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very Happy and Healthy one, and a prosperous New Year as well!  The Human and I do appreciate all the support you have shown us over the last almost-four years, and especially your support of our Nick and Nora mysteries!  It means a great deal to us, purrrrr!

  We shall be taking a little break from blogging next week, but never fear! We shall be back better and stronger than ever. We have lots of interviews and good things planned for 2015, and of course, my Blogaversary the last week in January, meow!

And the Human wants me to announce yet another giveaway:  An autographed copy of Meow if its Murder, PLUS:  a 2015 BAD CAT desk calendar!  (Hmmm…should I be taking offense??????)

To enter, leave your email addy in the comments section below along with why you think I am NOT a bad cat!  Now that shouldn’t be too hard, surely! I don’t know what makes the Human think I am bad????  Just because I knock the waterdish into the sink or bat a few ornaments off the tree????? Really???????

Giveaway ends midnight, December 24th!  Winner will be selected on Dec. 26th!  And we’ll be back the week of December 29th!  In the immortal words of Tiny Tim:

Merry Christmas to all….and to all a good night!  Er-OWL!


Incredible Blogging Cat


And his human, Toni LoTempio



Monday, December 8, 2014


Hello.  My name is Toni LoTempio, and I’m the proud HUMAN to Rocco!

As some of you may or may not know, ROCCO not only runs his own blog, but he is also the “honorary spokescat” for KIDS NEED TO READ, a charity co-founded by Denise Gary, PJ Haarsma and Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly)  In addition, he’s also the inspiration for the feline character NICK in the Nick and Nora mysteries, coming this December from Berkley Prime Crime!

ROCCO has interviewed many authors on his blog, but no one to date has ever interviewed him!  So now…it’s his turn. I interview ROCCO!


TLT:  Hey, ROCCO!  For all our interested readers out there, describe a typical day in your life.

R:  Thank you,  my Human.  Well, I’m usually very busy as you know, what with coming up with authors to interview for the blog, as well as ideas for that new mystery series you have coming out in December.  That takes up a great deal of my time.  My morning usually begins at around 3 a.m. when I start knocking everything off your dresser so you are sure to get up and feed myself and my siblings: brother Maxx and sisters Trixie and Princess.  Once that’s done, I usually bother you whilst you are getting dressed to go to your day job and once you’re out the door, I take a mid-morning nap to regain my strength.

          Later, if I am so inclined, I amuse myself by playing with my favorite toy – my ballies! I love to lose them underneath large pieces of furniture so that you can get on your hands and knees and find them for me!  Then when you come home, I meow loudly to remind you that we all still need to be fed! Once that’s done, I trot myself into the den where you are working on one of your (our!!!) books and finagle you into spending at least twenty minutes playing “catch”.  After that, I take my evening nap (usually at the foot of your bed, sometimes next to you) until it starts all over the following day!

TLT: How did you become the spokescat for KIDS NEED TO READ?

R:  You and I were surfing the web one day and came across the charity.  It looked worthwhile, and you were travelling to Arizona that year on vacation, so you set up a meeting with Denise Gary and then we hit upon the idea of having an Ebay auction, publicized by moi on my blog, every summer.  So far we have run two very successful ones and will be doing our third this September.

TLT: What’s the story behind your name? Are you a Sylvester Stallone fan?

R:  Ah, my name has nothing to do with the ROCKY movies.  The lady at the Clifton Animal Shelter, where you adopted me, named my sister Pebbles and me ROCCO. Even then she could see I was a feisty devil.

TLT: I’ll definitely agree with the devil part…..

R:  Moi? Devilish????????? You betcha!

TLT: What do you love most about me?  Dislike most?

R:  Love is an extreme term.  I love the fact that you know to feed us on time.  If I had to hone in on one dislike, it would be you do not play “catch” enough with me.

TLT: Now, suppose you explain how you became the “inspiration” for our new mystery series debuting in December.

R:  With pleasure!  If you will recall, my Human, I have meowed many times to you that you should concentrate on writing stories about a cat such as myself and give up on the vampires and other such supernatural creatures.  After your supervisor concurred with my assessment one day, you came home and after watching a “Thin Man” movie on Turner Classic, got all fired up and started calling me “Nicky”.  Thus was born the Nick and Nora mysteries! My only regret is it had to be rewritten to eliminate my “talking”, MOL! (Meow Out Loud)

And I did come up with the title…MEOW IF ITS MURDER…although to date I have received absolutely NO credit for doing so, hisss!!!!!!!!!

TLT:  Just for fun…

Catnip or scratching post?   Scratching the arms of your couch!

Tabbies or Tuxedos? Both are equally fine.

Fish or Steak? Sardines

TLT:  Rocco, where can readers find out more about you and our mysteries?


R:  My human has a website  and one can always check my blog,  Not only do we have at least 3 author interviews/giveaways per month, we also post news about the Human’s upcoming books!

The first Nick and Nora mystery, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, for which I am the inspiration for the tuxedo cat Nick, is available now from Penguin/Random. For a chance to win an autographed (or is it paw-tographed?????) copy, leave a comment below by midnight, Dec. 13.  A winner will be chosen via


TLT: OK, Big Rock -Any last words?


R:  Pad softly and carry a big fish.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter Wonderland Contest!

Night Owl is  hosting a "Winter Booklover" Contest! Enter and you could win one of these prizes:

5 = $100 Amazon Gift Cards
5 = $50 Amazon Gift Cards
18 = $25 Amazon Gift Cards

Monday, December 1, 2014

ROCCO gets TC Lotempio in the hotseat!!!!!!!

ROCCO’s guest today is…the Human, Toni (T. C.) LoTempio!

While Toni doesn’t commit murders in real life, she has no problem doing so on paper!  She pens the Nick and Nora mystery series for Penguin, for which ROCCO was the inspiration for the character of Nick!  Toni and ROCCO live in New Jersey, along with three other spoiled rotten cats: Maxx,Trixie and Princess!  When  not writing,Toni and ROCCO are devouring more cozy mysteries to review for Night Owl Digital Magazine! And in their spare time, they fundraise for Kids Need to Read, a charity co-founded by CASTLE star Nathan Fillion.  Catch up with the latest on T.C.’s books on her website, and on ROCCO’s blog,



Rocco: Welcome, Human! Now, for our readers who are unfamiliar with our relationship…you are the one who fills my foodbowl!

T.C: That’s pretty much correct, ROCCO!

Rocco: Meow! Tell us a little about your background – writing wise, that is.

          T. C:  I’ve been writing since I was old enough to read.  I loved comic books as a child and I’d sit in my room and make up  my own stories.  I started writing with a serious eye toward publication in 1997, and had some paranormals published by a small press and a few self pubbed via Amazon and B&N before my agent sold MEOW IF ITS MURDER to Penguin in January 2013.

Rocco: Tell us a bit about your latest book

T. C. : Meow if it’s Murder is the first in the Nick and Nora mystery series (Rocco: For which I am the inspiration for Nick, meow!).  Nora Charles, an ex true crime reporter returns to her hometown of Cruz, California to take over her mother’s specialty sandwich shop and ends up investigating a socialite’s “suicide” with the help of a tubby tuxedo cat who turns up on her doorstep!

From the book back cover:

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…


Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 


Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives. 


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

T. C. : Actually, it’s a little of both. I start out with an outline but by the time the book is done, the finished product doesn’t resemble the outline in the least! I always know who I want the murderer to be, but in the end I let the characters take over the story!  I”ve found, though, that I write faster with a more detailed outline so I’m going to try and be good in the future.

ROCCO: Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

T. C. : I don’t believe one is more important than the other.  I believe it’s important to have a good plot and believable, interesting characters.  They go hand in hand.

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

T. C.: Coming up with new adventures for Nick!  I’ve always found plotting out the books a challenge. And you know, ROCCO, you are my inspiration and motiviation. (ROCCO: AWWWW Shucks!)

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

T. C.: By the time I got my current agent, I had been through two,the last of which was a draining experience.  Josh (Getzler) and I just clicked from the first email.  Oddly enough, he didn’t sign me for the book I originally queried him with, and the book we sold was NOT the one he originally subbed.

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

T. C.: More Nick and Nora’s. Book Two will be coming out December 2015.  I have mini-outlines for at least twelve. J  And I’m also working on another cozy series.
ROCCO: Can you give us a hint of what's in store in Book 2?
T.C: Not to give too much away, but...the mystery surrounding Nick Atkins deepens, Nora's sister Lacey finds herself in a real jam, and a person from Nora's past - male - reappears in her life.

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

T. C.: Since I have a day job, the bulk of my writing is done on the weekends. I like to devote at least three hours on Saturday afternoon/evening to it and on Sundays usually between 10-2, longer if I’m nearing the end of a book or I’m on a deadline.  I also try and devote at least two hours each night to it.

ROCCO: What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

T. C: Keep at it.  I was in my late fifties when I sold MEOW to Penguin, so it’s never too late! If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

ROCCO: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

TC: Adopt four cats at one time LOL.

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

T.C: That since I first saw it in 1998, I go every year to see PHANTOM OF THE OPERA on Broadway. It’s my very favorite play.


Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  .  Day, Definitely Im usually asleep by nine. J

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Really, ROCCO????????????????

Beach or Pool?   Pool! (I’m not a sand person)

Steak or salad?  Steak Salad

Favorite Drink?  Ice Tea; Alcohoic Drink: Sangria

Favorite Book?  Too many to list

Favorite TV Series?   Present? Castle and the Good Wife and the Following Past: Murder She Wrote

Favorite Movie?    Gone with the Wind

Favorite Actor:   TV:  Kevin Bacon     Movie:  Michael Douglas

Favorite Actress:  TV: Julianna Marguiles  Movie: Mary Steenbergen

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 __Anne Boleyn!

If I had just one wish, it would be_for everyone to live in harmony_______________________________________

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be _you, ROCCO!   You’ve got the life!

Thank you, human!

Folks, you can keep up with the Human’s latest doings both here and on her website,

You can purchase Meow if its Murder at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, anywhere books are sold!

The Human will give away your choice of either an e or a hard copy of Meow if its Murder – and a bookmark – to one lucky commenter!  Leave your name and email addy in the comments section below. For extra entries, you can:

Tweet about this interview/giveaway

Friend the Human on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter @RoccoBlogger

Post on FB or your own blog about this interview/giveaway


Winner will be chosen using Contest ends midnight, December 7!

Good luck!


Next week…I interview ROCCO!





Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twinkletoes is in the house!

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Twinkletoes, the purr-fectly beautiful kitten who stars in the NY times bestselling “Paws and Claws” mystery series!
About the author: Krista Davis counts herself lucky to be an author. She's still new enough to be surprised that people have read her books! Her first book, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, was nominated for an Agatha award.
R: for all our interested readers out there – particularly the felines – describe a typical day in your life.
T: Feline yoga on waking, of course. Nothing like some good stretches to get going. Holly usually feeds me before she goes down to the dining room. That suits me fine. I should be served first. She always leaves a couple of bowls of food in case I want to snack during the day. Of course, Shelley in the dining room would serve me anything I wanted if I rubbed up against her legs. And the guests tend to carry lots of kitty treats around with them, so there’s always something interesting to eat.
I do some preliminary scouting around to see who’s up and what’s going on in the Sugar Maple Inn. Then I watch the lake and birds from the big window in the sitting room. There’s an unbelievable sunbeam that comes through that window about mid-morning. Perfect for a nap.
Sometimes I stroll out onto the front porch. There are a lot of rocking chairs out there, so a cat has to watch out for her tail. I like sitting on the steps with Gingersnap, the golden retriever canine ambassador of the inn.
Did you know that I’m officially the feline ambassador of the Sugar Maple Inn? That means I have to keep up with everything that’s going on! So I follow Marisol, the housekeeper, into the guest rooms to see what’s up. People are funny creatures. They bring bags and bags of stuff with them. They always smell most intriguing. Of course, there are the special porches in the cats only wing. Each room has a screened in porch with a real tree to lounge on so I feel obligated to test them now and again.
Then there’s lunch and another nap before teatime, when kitty treats (usually the crunchy fishy kind) are served. Things quiet down after that because most guests eat their dinners somewhere else. I hang around the grand staircase so they can pet me and play games when they filter back in. It’s a lot of work, but I love every minute of it. Then it’s off to bed with Holly and Trixie in the apartment on the top floor.
R: How did you and Holly get together?
T: I started life in a house with a lot of dogs and cats. I mean a lot! One day a bunch of people arrived with cages, and my mom yowled run, run, run! My sisters and I scattered every which way with people chasing us. I made it into the woods and kept going. I walked a very long way. It’s a good thing I knew how to hunt for mice or I might have starved.
When I arrived in Wagtail, I took a good look around and decided the Sugar Maple Inn might be a nice place. I just walked up those front stairs, and people started petting me and telling me how pretty I was. They brought me food, too. The older lady (Oma) didn’t seem to mind when I found the cat doors. I walked up to the very top where I found an apartment with down comforters on the beds. A far cry from curling up in a hole in a tree and trying to sleep. Oma and Rose kept telling me Holly would be coming soon. I had never met Holly but somehow I knew it was important to wait for her.
I was sitting on the stairs the night she arrived. She was mess! She looked worse than I did after all those nights in the woods. But I knew there was something special about her. She was the one.
R: What do you like best about Wagtail?
T: Everyone is so nice to cats and dogs! Everybody stops for a quick pat or snuggle.
R: Tell us about you and Holly’s latest adventure, The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer.
It all began when the Apparition Apprehenders checked into the inn. Holly had just moved there, so our apartment was packed with boxes. Packed! Holly couldn’t find the remote control for the TV, so Trixie and I kept turning it on. We thought that was pretty funny. Humans can be so helpless. Holly received a phone call in the middle of the night. She left us behind but Trixie and I figured out a way to sneak out of the inn and had a ball scampering across Wagtail in the night! It was a good thing we did, too, because we found a corpse. Mrs. Mewer was a little standoffish at first. Siamese! I don’t want to tell you everything, but Trixie, Mrs. Mewer, Casper, the Weimaraner, and I had a devil of a time helping our people figure out the identity of the murderer.
R: Tell us about your relationship with that frisky Jack Russell, Trixie!
T: I handled her just the way my feline mom taught me. If you don’t budge, you’re in control of the dog. Hehehe. Works every time. Trixie had just found Holly, too, so we teamed up as siblings fast. Trixie’s only problem is her interest in my food. As dogs go, she’s pretty cool.
R: How do you cope with Holly’s penchant for getting involved with murder?
T: Oh? Are you implying that’s not normal? It doesn’t bother me a bit. Holly calls me nosy. I’m quite curious by nature so I understand Holly’s inquisitiveness. She needs my help, though.
R:  What do you love most about Holly?  Dislike most?
T: I love that she’s my human mom, and that she needs me. I love that she lets me sleep on her fluffy down comforter and that she doesn’t let Trixie inhale my food. I don’t know why she turns off the TV when Trixie and I are watching.
Dislike? What’s to dislike? Oh, I know! I don’t like it when she confines Trixie and me to the apartment.
R: How did you get the name “Twinkletoes”
T: I walk across balcony railings. People seem to think there’s something special about that. I don’t see it myself. That’s what cats do. Apparently, they were so impressed with my skill that they started calling me Twinkletoes.
R: What would you like to say to all your fans out there?
T: Fans? I have fans? Purrrrr.
R: So tell me how you feel about this woman, Krista Davis? Does she portray your adventures accurately?
T: Did you know that she has a calico kitty who looks just like me and a Jack Russell who looks like Trixie? She’s pretty tuned in to what I’m thinking and what I would do. I forgive a few mistakes because, after all, she’s a human so she’s not quite purrrfect.
R:If you could change one thing about Holly, what would it be?
T: Her boyfriend, Ben! Seriously, what was she thinking dating a guy like that? I thought we were through with him but he keeps turning up. I can see that Trixie and I will have to team up with Oma (Holly’s grandmother) to straighten out her love life and get the right man for us, er, her.
R:  Any chance of your getting another “sidekick” in these stories- like maybe a handsome tuxedo cat – anytime soon?
T: Krista tells me that I will have a bunch of sidekicks – a different one in every book. Mrs. Mewer is my new pal. She’s a Siamese, and boy, can she yowl! You never know, maybe a handsome tuxedo cat will show up in one of my adventures!
 R:  That would be nice,Twinkletoes. And if you need a model for said character....ahem.  I'm just sayin'
Now, Just for fun…
Catnip or scratching post?
T: Scratching post! It’s not like I don’t enjoy a good catnip toy but I love my scratching posts!
R: Tabbies or Tuxedos?
T: Both! I have friends who are tabbies and friends who are tuxedos. Love them all. Cats rule!
R: Jack Russells or Chihuahuas?
T: My sister is a Jack Russell so I have to vote for Jacks, though I have nothing against Chihuahuas.
R: Fish or Steak?
T: Rrrowww! Those are my favorites. How about some surf and turf?
R: Shakespeare or Stephen King?
T: I don’t know either of them personally but mom tells me Shakespeare is deceased and King is alive. I assume King can scratch behind my ears better than the dead Shakespeare guy.
Thanks for a fun interview, Twinkletoes!
Watch for her latest adventure, THE GHOST AND MRS.  MEWER, out in bookstores and available online on December 2!
Twinkletoes friend, Krista Davis, has generously consented to give one lucky commener a copy of THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER! To enter, leave your name and email address so we can contact you in the comments section of our blog!  . For extra entries, you can:
Tweet about this interview/giveaway
Friend the Human on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @RoccoBlogger
Post on FB or your own blog about this interview/giveaway
Winner will be chosen using Contest ends midnight, December 1!

Monday, November 17, 2014

ROCCO interviews....Thumper of Black Cat Legacy!

Today my guest is Thumper, star of the Black Cat Legacy Mysteries written by Elaine Faber!

Elaine Faber is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. Black Cat’s Legacy is the first of three Cat Mysteries involving Thumper, the cat who solves mysteries with the aid of his ancestor’s memories. The sequel, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer will be published this fall.

Elaine lives in northern CA, with her tolerant husband and four house cats, including a tuxedo cats who looks a lot like Thumper! Another three feral cats come to the back door night and morning, asking for a handout. A portion of the proceeds from her Black Cat mysteries goes toward cat rescue organizations.

And now….Thumper!

R: Welcome to the blog, Thumper! For all our interested readers out there – particularly the feline ones – describe a typical day in your life.

Thanks for the chance to share my story, Rocco. I spend a good deal of time in the lawn swing outside the office of Herman’s Motor Lodge which resides beside Fern Lake in No. California. I scope out the arriving guests and determine if they have cat treats in their pocket and their level of catitude. I may want to sleep in their cabin on the end of their bed that night. 

R: How did you and Kimberlee get together?

She and her little girl came to the lodge last summer. The minute I laid eyes on her, I knew she was the ‘one’ that generations of my ancestors had waited for. It was my job to help her solve the Fern Lake mysteries, and trust me, there are plenty!

R: Tell us about your ability to recall your ancestor’s memories. When did you first realize you had it, and how do you cope with it?

Easy Peesy! All cats have their ancestors’ memories. People call it instinct. But, most cats don’t have six toes on each foot, like I do, which gives me the ability to act on those memories. Sort of like fine tuning a television set and seeing the whole scene play out in stereo and living color. My ancestors’ legacy required me to help solve the murder when Kimberlee arrived at the lodge.

R:  What do you love most about Kimberlee?  Dislike most?

She’s very innocent and sweet, but she has lot of guts, too. She struggles to stay strong even when things get tough, which of course they do, repeatedly. She falls in love with Brett, an author who tries to help solve her father’s cold case murder, but the local fem fatal, Dorian, also has a crush on Brett, so we have a bit of a love triangle. I point the trio toward clues, but sometimes they don’t understand, even when I put them right under their inferior noses.

R: What’s the story behind your name?  Are you a Disney fan? (as in Thumper of Bambi fame)

Kimberlee’s little girl says I ‘fumped’ on her cabin door the first day they came to the lodge. So, she said, ‘I letted him in. His name is Fumper, like in my Bambi book.’ So, Thumper was the kid’s idea, not mine. I’d rather be Spike or Butch, but what can you do? All my ancestors were called Black Cat. The name Thumper has been a challenge. Some folks get the idea that maybe I’m a push-over, like the bunny rabbit in Bambi, but proving them wrong has made me a stronger cat.  

R:If you could change one thing about Kimberlee  what would it be?

She adds onions when she cooks liver. I could do without the onions. And she cries a lot. I hate to see a woman cry. Other than that, she’s okay.

R: What are your and Kimberlee’s future plans? Any new adventures on the horizon?

Oh, my, yes. Check out my sequel, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Kimberlee took me to Texas to visit her grandmother. But, Grandmother had an evil ulterior motive behind the invitation, and her lawyer! Why, you wouldn’t believe what shenanigans and skullduggery he was up to. We call it a tale of betrayal and greed with a splash of fantasy. The fantasy part is me getting to the bottom of things and saving Grandmother’s wretched life. I didn’t like her much, but she is family, after all.

R: Tell us about this human, Elaine Faber? Does she do a good job of portraying you and your adventures?

I’m not sure if I’m a character in her head or she’s a character in mine. Folks say she writes ‘cat’ better than she writes English. She ‘gets’ me and brings me to life on the printed page. One of her cats, Boots, looks like me, or I look like him. It’s one of those chicken and the egg things.

R:  Any chance of your getting a “sidekick” in these stories- like maybe a handsome tuxedo cat–anytime soon?

Affirmative! I fall madly in love in Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Noe-Noe is an orange tabby seductress with eyes the color of mustard and stripes the color of marigolds. When the sun bounces off her silken ears, her fur looks like rows of buttercups set in a field of marigolds, shot through a summer sunset. Her eyes, midnight slits peeking through golden moons… Sigh! But I digress. Yes. She becomes my sidekick in this and the next story in the series, Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, due to be in print mid-2015, which picks up where Lethal Lawyer leaves off. Noe-Noe is saucy and snippy but I love every inch of her from her nose to the kink in her tail.  

R:  Just for fun…

Catnip or scratching post?.  Umm…scratching post.. or couch. Same thing

Tabbies or Tuxedos?  Definitely, tabbies

Fish or Steak?  We don’t do fish in our house, so I guess steak

Shakespeare or Stephen King?  Yikes! Neither. Give me a good Sneaky Pie or Cat Who any day of the week. Or better yet, one of Mom’s books. They’re the best.

Thanks Thumper!

Thumper’s human, Elaine Faber, will give away an e-copy of Black Cat Legacy to one lucky commenter!  To enter, leave your name and email address in the comments section of this post. For extra entries, you can:

Follow moi on Twitter @RoccoBlogger

Follow the human, Toni LoTempio, on Facebook

Subscribe to this blog

Tweet or FB about this contest!

Contest ends midnight,Nov. 21. Winner chosen at random by Good luck!

Monday, November 10, 2014

We welcome Eve Sandstrom aka Joanna Carl to the blog!

Today my guest is author Eve Sandstrom aka Joanna Carl!
JoAnna Carl and Eve K. Sandstrom both write mystery novels which rely on regional settings for atmosphere, background and clues. JoAnna writes about the shores of Lake Michigan and has been reviewed in Michigan newspapers as a “regional writer.”
Eve writes about Southwest Oklahoma and once won an award for the best book of the year with an Oklahoma setting. It’s no particular secret that Eve and JoAnna occupy the same body.
Talk about your split personalities……
R: Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing!
When I was six, I became interested in reading. Need I say more? The first “real” book I read – one that didn’t have pictures on every page – was Nancy Drew. My mother kept the house filled with Mary Roberts Rinehart and Agatha Christie. I always loved mysteries and knew I wanted to write them.
R:  As JoAnna Carl, you write the Chocoholic mystery series. Tell us how that came about and about your latest release.
The Chocoholic Mysteries were born because my then editor wanted me to try something cozy. What is more cozy than chocolate?  The latest, THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE, is the fourteenth and will come out in November. In it my detective, Lee McKinney Woodyard, gets involved in the death of a professional clown who’s not all that funny. The previous book, THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT, will be out in paperback at the same time.
R: Tell us about your other mystery series, written as Eve Sandstrom.  Out of all of them do you have a favorite?
My first series, The Down Home books, was a tribute to Tony Hillerman. Highly regional. My favorite among those was THE DOWN HOME HEIFER HEIST, maybe because it won the Oklahoma Book Award. If you’re writing regional, winning a state award is tops! The second series,  the Nell and Mike books, was about a young woman news reporter who is covering the crime beat and finds herself far too involved with a very sexy detective. My favorite of those is the first, THE VIOLENCE BEAT.  I worked as a newspaper woman for 25 years, and always swore I’d never write fiction with that background. But I loved Nell and Mike. In the news world the “violence beat” is what they call the police-fire-sheriff beat. These books are not cozy, but “harder edged,” which is editor-speak for more sex and violence.
R: Tell us about the “chocolate lore” you feature in each book. Is that fun to research?
It’s always fun to read about chocolate! I just stumble across a lot of the lore in magazines or newspapers. Or people send me information.
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?
My agent story isn’t very dramatic, but may have some significance. I got my first agent when a fellow writer recommended hers and said, “You can use my name.” When that relationship soured, I got my current agent on the recommendation of my editor, who said, “Call this agent, and you can use my name.” The moral here is: It’s all in who you know, and if you don’t know the right people, get out and meet them. Seriously, if you want to sell your writing, get out and meet writers, agents and editors. This isn’t impossible. Go to workshops, join organizations, take classes. That’s how you meet people.
As for how I felt when my first mystery sold, well, I could hardly speak. I kept saying, “A hardback?”
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
An Oklahoma writer named Jean Hager once said, “Some people  say they can’t write unless they are inspired. The truth is, you can’t get inspired unless you write.” Do I always follow that rule? No, I get distracted  by life and let it slide. But the answer is that simple.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
Sometime in the 18th Century. That era has always appealed to me.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Nothing I do seems very surprising. I’m the mother of twins? I married a Yankee? I eat a lot of chocolate? So what else is new?
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
I’m not all that crazy. But maybe the most interesting things I ever did were interviewing interesting people. One was Stan Kenton and another the Crown Prince of  Luxembourg. Meeting people like that is one of the benefits of a news career.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
Good is better than evil. But I think mystery readers already know that.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m now working on THE CHOCOLATE FALCON FRAUD, in which Lee Woodyard gets mixed up in a festival celebrating the Noir film and the most famous  movie of that genre, THE MALTESE FALCON.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A combination. I do a rough outline, but don’t pay a lot of attention to it.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I gave it above. Get out and meet other writers, take classes, go to workshops – in other words, network. If you can’t get out, do it on line. Make sure you use common sense about people and their motives; in other words, don’t pay somebody to publish your work. You’re the talent; they pay you.
Live – you have to have an understanding of life and of people, and sometimes that means learning to deal with adversity, sorrow, and joy. The most educational writing experience I ever had was sitting in an ICU waiting room when my father was dying. Life brings experiences like that, even if we’d rather it didn’t, and that’s what gives you understanding of life and makes you a writer.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night. Or maybe day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  This is so humiliating! I like both animals, but I’m allergic to cats, though I love them, and we travel too much to have a dog. We have two ‘grand-dogs,’ a golden retriever and a Yorkie.  And our son for a time raised alpacas. They are lovely little animals.
Beach or Pool? Beach (on Lake Michigan)  
Steak or salad?  Both
Favorite Drink?  Diet Coke or iced tea
Favorite Book?  TRUE GRIT, by Charles Portis
Favorite TV Series?  Too hard to choose
Favorite Movie?  SHANE
Favorite Actor: One who fits the role (But Gregory Peck fit any role.)
Favorite Actress: Ditto
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Gin and tonic
Hawaii or Alaska? Oklahoma or Michigan
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be my Choctaw great-great-grandmother.
If I had just one wish, it would be world peace. An end to hunger?  That I knew what happens in my next chapter?
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one.  Someone has to be me, and I got the job.
Find Eve/Joanna at her web site: or
Eve will give away  two books to one lucky commenters!  Hardbacks  of  THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE and THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT. 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:

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Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Open to US residents only - ends 11/15 midnight.