Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Puzzle Lady" author Parnell Hall in our hotseat! Meow!




Parnell Hall is a mystery writer.[ His works include the Puzzle Lady and the Stanley Hastings series, as well as the screenplay to the 1984 cult classic, C.H.U.D.[ He has collaborated with Manny Nosowsky for crossword puzzles and with Will Shortz for sudoku puzzles incorporated in Puzzle Lady stories. (Bio courtesy Wikipedia)

R:  Welcome to the blog, Parnell!  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

I must say, Rocco, I've never been interviewed by a cat before, and it gives me paws. I'm not sure how to answer these questions, but there's more than one way to skin a- Oh! Sorry. Lost my head. What was the question again? Oh, how did I become interested in writing? From reading.  I read a lot of mysteries, and I like them, and I thought, wow,  I could do that.

R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?

I grew up reading Perry Mason mysteries. When Erle Stanley Garnder died, I tried to write one. I got about 150 pages into it before Gardner's widow made me cease and desist. Years later I finished thet book as a Steve Winslow courtroom drama.The Anonymous Client,is available now as a $0.99 eBook, quite a saving off the original hardcover price.

Another influence was Robert B. Parker. His Spenser novels inspired me to write my private eye series.

R: Tell us about your Puzzle Lady series. How did that come about?

I hit a spot in my career where, despite excellent reviews and Edgar and Shamus nominations, my private eye books weren't selling fast enough to attract a publisher. So I reinvented myself as a woman. I wrote a book about  a charming fraud called the Puzzle Lady. Cora Felton  has a nationally syndicated crossword puzzle column, but she can't do them. He niece Sherry is the real Puzzle Lady, and creates all the puzzles for her column. Cora has a knack for solving crime, however. This sweet looking woman whose benevolent picture graces the Puzzle Lady column, and who sells breakfast cereal to children on television, is actually a loopy hellion who can't remember how many husbands she's had,  and carries a gun in her purse. Reviews have described her as "Miss Marple on steroids," or, "Jessica Fletcher meets Groucho Marx."

I put a woman's name on the manuscript, and had my agent send it out as a new novel by an unpublished woman. Bantam snapped it right up.

R: Tell us about your current release, NYPD Puzzle.

Cora Felton lives in Bakerhaven, Connecticut, which has Cabot Cove syndrome to the nth degree. Not only are there an unusual number of murders , but they all seem to come with crossword puzzles. This is quite an embarrassment for the Puzzle Lady, who has to hide the fact she can't solve them.

In NYPD Puzzle, however, attractive young attorney Becky Baldwin takes Cora along a bodyguard/chaperone to call on a prospective client who wants to meet her in his Manhattan penthouse apartment. Naturally, they run into a corpse and a puzzle. Cora gets arrested, and falls hard for the investigating officer. If only he didn't suspect her of murder.

R: What adventures can we look forward to?

Thank you for asking. You know, for a cat you're a wonderful interviewer.

My private eye, Stanley Hastings, will be back in November in Safari. Stanley and Alice encounter elephants, leopards and lions on a walking/canoeing trip to Zambia and Zimbabwe, but wild animals are not the most dangerous game!

The Puzzle Lady in back in January in Puzzled Indemnity. A wife whose straying husband just took out a million dollar double indemnity life insurance policy hires Becky and Cora to see if he's planning to kill her, then hires them to defend her for murder.

And a year later (and I can hardly wait!) The Puzzle Lady is on trial for murder in Presumed Puzzled!


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?

This first agent I gave my first book to rejected it. A few years later he was on a panel I moderated on how to get published. I mentioned that, pointed out the novel had been nominated for the Edgar and Shamus awards, and said you couldn't believe what wish fulfillment it was to be standing there saying that. The audience, largely unpublished writers, went nuts.

  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?

I didn't believe it. Even when I met the editor I still thought it was all tentative, like a job interview. It was only when we got two-book deal contract with dollar amounts that it slowly dawned on me it was real.

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

A pocket Dictaphone.  I wrote my first book longhand, in spiral notebooks, and typed it on an old electric typewriter. When I got published, I didn't quit my day job, which involved a lot of driving. My wife thought I'd have ideas on the road and wouldn't be able to write them down, so she gave me a microcassette recorder to make notes. It took about a week to realize I wasn't just making notes, I was writing the whole book!

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

I'd have loved to see Dylan Thomas on his American tour. I love the poems, love the play, love recordings of his live readings.

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?

I'd love to see a Puzzle Lady movie with Susan Sarandon playing the lead. Cora Felton is depicted as this sweet-looking older woman, but she's also a sexy older woman, and I think this would be a happy marriage.

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

I used to work as a private investigator. My experiences are the basis for my Stanley Hastings series.



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

Aside from this interview? Well, it was supposed to be easy, but one of my first jobs as a private eye was to serve divorce papers on a guy upstate New York.  I staked out his house, waited for him to come out the door, walked up and addressed him by name. He pulled out a gun and said, "What do you want?" I wanted to quit my job, go home,  and never serve papers on anyone again. But I did it. So that's the craziest thing I've ever done. Served papers on someone at gunpoint.

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

I hope they'll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I love to get letters from people pointing out a particular whimsical joke I came up with just because it amused me.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I'm a pantser. Watch out, or I'll sneak up behind you and pull your pants down.
I pick a premise, start writing, and see where it goes. I belong to the wouldn't-it-be-neat-if school of writing. It helps that the Puzzle Lady is such a loopy character she's apt to do anything. She surprises me all the time.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
I make music videos. I write 'em, sing  em, record 'em, shoot 'em, edit 'em, and put 'em up on YouTube. They're all related to writing. Signing in the Waldenbooks struck a chord with writers, got featured on Huffington Post, a got 50,000 hits over the weekend.
King of Kindle has to be seen to be believed. It features dozens of famous authors from Lawrence Block to Mary Higgins Clark.
Kill 'em explains how writers kill characters using movie clips.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
parnellhall.com
You can also check out my Amazon author page. I've published 21 eBooks from my backlist for $0.99 - $2.99. And my publishers have nearly 20 other books available as eBooks, hardcovers, and paperbacks.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Don't do it. I have enough competition as it is.

Thanks, Rocco. Nice job!


Thank you, Parnell!  Folks you can find Parnell at:

Your local independent mystery bookstore.
Your local library
On line

Now through August 31st only, DIE LAUGHING, featuring 5 comic mystery novels from authors Steve Brewer, Bill Fitzhugh, Paul Levine, Ben Rehder, and, yes, Parnell Hall, is available on Kindle for just $0.99.

And eBooks Detective, The Baxter Trust, and The Anonymous Client are 0.99 while they last!



Monday, July 21, 2014

ROCCO welcomes....Gloria Alden!


Thank you, Rocco for having me as a guest on your blog. One of my favorite cats I’ve had looked a lot like you. He was a tuxedo cat, and I named him Fred Astaire, but called him Freddy. When I brought him home as a tiny kitten, Miss Molly, the collie I had at the time, instantly fell in love with him, but he wasn’t sure about her. Soon they became best friends, and he’d cuddle and sleep with her. Watching them play was funny and had everyone laughing. Freddy would sneak around corners and attack her. He’d ride on her back, wrestle with her ears, or hang from her front ruff while she walked. Sometimes Molly would have his whole head in her mouth. I now have two tabby house cats, Moggie and Brat Cat, a beautiful tri-color collie, Maggie, two totally useless ponies except that I love Puffy and Phoebe. Then there are the feathered critters; six hens, an old guinea fowl and inside Pavarotti, my canary, and two African ring-necked doves I got for my classroom more than fifteen years ago that live on and on and on.

 
Rocco: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

 

I kept a journal as a teenager and wrote poetry and short stories. I’ve always been an avid reader devouring books, especially horse books as a child, and when I’d read all those in our small rural school library, I found Albert Payson Terhune, who wrote books about collies. That’s when I fell in love with collies. Always liked cats, too, Rocco, but there weren’t as many books about them in those days. Raising four kids born less than five years apart from start to finish didn’t give me much time to write more than letters to my sisters away at college. Then when I started college as a nontraditional student in my early forties after the death of my oldest son from cancer, I was hooked on almost every class I took for my degree in elementary education. Literature and writing classes were the best. I graduated with lots of extra credits because I took an overload every semester. It was in college that I started seriously writing poetry and getting it published.

 

I taught third grade in the small college town of Hiram, Ohio and loved teaching this age. While teaching, I went on to get a masters in English, not because I wanted to do anything with it, but because I loved reading and writing research papers about different authors, books, and discussing ideas with adults. This background led me to writing. I’ve always been an avid reader and every room of my house has books in it overflowing the book shelves they’re on. Now I’m still writing poetry, my mystery series and short stories; I’ve had four appear in anthologies and several in e-zines and one in Crimespree Magazine.

 

Rocco: Tell us about your gardening mystery series. Where did that idea come from? Do you garden?

 

On, my do I garden! When I became newly single after many years of marriage, I bought a small farm with an old house badly in need of repair. Once the house was habitable I started on the lawn and gardens. Except for many trees, some ancient lilac bushes, an old rose bush and some peonies, it was in miserable shape. The problem with being on one’s own is that almost everything is done by just me. Another problem is that with no one to rein me in, I have a compulsion to buy every rose, daylily, shrub, tree and flower that attracts me. Also, on the yearly vacations I’ve gone on with my sisters, we often visit large public gardens which give me so many ideas. That means my gardens – and there are many of them since I have acreage - keep growing and growing and getting weedier and weedier, too, I might add. So my love of gardens, which all my siblings share, makes gardening a natural theme for my series. That old saying “write what you know” fits here.

 

Rocco: You’ve also written a middle-grade mystery. Do you find writing for the YA audience more challenging, and if so, why?

 

The Sherlock Holmes Detective Club is my only one so far. It was part of a writing activity I did with my students. I brought in an old suitcase and told my students I’d found it on my doorstep. The kids went through it looking for clues. We actually had a Sherlock Holmes Detective Club where my students read mysteries in pairs. I supposedly put an ad in the found section of the newspaper, and we got three responses; thanks to a friend, cousin and sister. From the letters it was obvious it could only be Alice Van Brocken. When the students got a thank you letter from her she told them she’d witnessed a jewel robbery and the police didn’t believe her because she was an elderly white-haired lady. She’d found a clue they might be in Columbus, Ohio. The students wrote back telling her about themselves and advising her to be careful. From October until May, Alice wrote my students from all over the country as she followed those thieves and getting into very dangerous situations. The letters came to my students postmarked and unopened from all the places she was supposed to have been thanks to family and friends all over the country. Two days before the end of the school year, Alice shows up in person (one of my sisters) and the kids were so excited. Instead of going out to recess they only wanted to listen to her and have her sign autographs. The book is almost all, either Alice’s letters to my students or letters from the students narrowed down to 6 girls and 6 boys, and edited only slightly for spelling and grammar with some narration in between chapters. Their names were slightly changed, too, but for the most part their letters are authentic third grader letters.

 

Rocco: Tell us about your latest release.

 

Ladies of the Garden Club is the third in my series. The Blue Rose was first and Daylilies for Emily’s Garden was second. My books follow the months; the first June, the 2nd July, and the 3rd in August. My protagonist is Catherine Jewell, who is part time botanist at Elmwood Gardens and owner of a small nursery – Roses in Thyme. The Portage Falls Police Chief is John MacDougal, who also owns a used bookstore with his mother. They meet in the first book and gradually they become friends with a beginning love interest.  In Ladies of the Garden Club three women in the garden club are poisoned. Since Catherine recently presented a workshop on poisonous plants at Elmwood Gardens, she’s considered a suspect by Joe Salcone, an officer with the Portage Falls police force. Added to that, the first victim was found dead in one of her greenhouses at Roses in Thyme making her look even more suspicious. Many favorite characters return in this book as well as some new ones.

 

Rocco: What are you working on at the moment?

 

My next book in the series taking place in September is The Body in the Goldenrod. I’m hoping to have it out sometime in August. In this book a Civil War Re-enactment is going on at Elmwood Gardens and someone gets murdered. I also have a subplot going on with John MacDougal’s mother telling Catherine about a backpacking trip she took in July (Daylilies for Emily’s Garden) in which there was a murder. Since John was very upset about his mother taking off with a handsome environmentalist she’d just met, she can’t talk about it with him, but Catherine is a supportive and non-judgmental listener.

 

Rocco: Are you a plotter or pantser?

A little of both. I write a bio for my murderer in advance. I have a general plot idea, but from then on I let the chapters flow from some subconscious level that often surprises me when they’re done. I do keep a short synopsis of each chapter on a chart that lets me know what characters appear in it and a line or two of what happens as well as the day and time of day. Then I can see when it’s time to bring back certain characters.

 

Rocco: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

 

Some would say taking up backpacking at the age of sixty. Others might say buying an old house with a leaking roof and two collapsed basement walls and an ancient electrical wiring, and I’m sure others could think of many other things, too.

 

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

 

I want them to fall in love with Portage Falls, a fictional little town in NE Ohio, and even more with my sometimes quirky characters. I love hearing that few readers actually solve the murders before the end even though I leave clues. I love knowing fans are asking when my next book is coming out.

 
Gloria will give away the first book in her series to one lucky commenter (or if the chosen one has already read that book, the second or third!)  To enter, just leave a comment with your email address.  You can earn extra entries by:
 
Friending the Human on FB
following RoccoBlogger on Twitter
Post or tweet about this contest!
 
Winner will be chosen by random.org.  Contest ends July 26. Good luck!

 

 

 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stephanie Evans in the hotseat!

Meow – our guest today is Stephanie Jaye Evans!
 





 
Stephanie Evans received her Master of Liberal Arts from Rice University. Her Masters capstone project, a mystery novel set in Sugar Land, Texas, won the William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant for Unpublished Writers, an international grant from the organization that awards the Agatha. Faithful Unto Death (June 2012--Berkley Prime Crime) earned a Library Journal starred review and Debut of the Month, it was a Houston Chronicle Ultimate 2012 Summer Book List pick and an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel.
Safe From Harm (March 2013--Berkley Prime Crime) is the second book in the Sugar Land Mystery Series. Kirkus Reviews: "As charming and wry as Evans’ bright debut (Faithful Unto Death, 2012), filled with reasons to own dogs, love your children and your wife, and have faith"--Criminal Element: "Evans is capable of achingly beautiful prose; at times, her writing is so lush and vivid that you just want to sit and stare at the pictures it paints in your mind."
Stephanie lives in the historic Heights district of Houston. She shares a home with a geophysicist, a pug, and her son’s dingo puppy.


 
R:  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Rocco, I’ve been a storyteller all my life. That makes sense because I’m the daughter of a first grade teacher and a minister—to do either job well, you have to be a good storyteller, and my parents were very, very good. So storytelling is in my blood. To become a writer was a logical next step. Oh, and when I was young I had a cat named Kitty, and I would tell her stories at night. She would purr so I think she liked them. Or else she was asleep.

 

R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?

Rocco, you wicked cat--this is such an impossible question because there are so hopelessly many! But here is an off-the-top-of-my-head, very incomplete list:

Dorothy Sayers, Martha Grimes, Peter Robinson, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell, Peter Lovesey, Jonathon Gash, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie…

And I can’t put my finger on how they influenced me except that they wrote such wonderful books and I wanted to do the same. These are all people who were writing when I was very young. There are so many, many writers who I admire with all my heart.

 

R: Tell us about your latest release.

Safe From Harm is the second in the Sugar Land Mystery series and, like the first, Faithful Unto Death, it’s about good people doing really bad things. Writing it kind of broke my heart because I write about the kind of people you have over to dinner, who get into trouble and make bad decisions. So I empathize a lot with them. I make bad decisions, too, but so far none of those decisions have resulted in murder. Fingers crossed.

 

R: Which of (your character) adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?

I love writing in Bear’s voice. I get to be a guy and say all the things I think they’re thinking when they’re dealing with women. But writing Liz was hard. She does something pretty unforgiveable but she is such a hurt and broken thing herself. When people are broken, it’s not surprising that they have sharp corners, right?

 

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?

Best. Story. Ever.

I entered the Malice Domestic-William F. Deeck Grant for Unpublished Writers contest (loooong name) and I won. That meant I got to go to the convention and make a two minute speech. My lovely husband, Richard, honed my forty-five minute speech down to forty-five seconds. I didn’t talk about my book, I talked about the characters that have peopled my life—the characters written by the people sitting in front of me. Afterwards, several authors came to thank me for mentioning their characters. Finally, this woman introduces herself as Janet Reid and I could not think of one thing I’d read by her! I had to ask her what she wrote. She drew herself up and told me that she wrote rejection letters, and that if I could write the way I spoke, she’d like to see my manuscript. Yes.

That’s my favorite bedtime story.
How did I feel when the first book sold? See the cat pic.
 
 
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
This Is Tommy. We are a writing team. I can’t write without him. Because he won’t let me.
 

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

I don’t want to go back. I’ve read Ray Bradbury’s Sound of Thunder. I know I would mess up the world. I’m doing all I can not to mess things up in my own time.

 

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?

Oh, fun question! Definitely Safe From Harm because it has more action and I’d want the young Tommy Lee Jones (my Tommy is named for him) to play Bear, and the National Velvet-young Elizabeth Taylor to play Jo, and the teenaged Shelley Duvall to play Phoebe and James Dean to play Alex and…

 

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

Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see. Hmmmmm. Really hard because I am agonizingly conventional. Well, if Richard counts out loud for me, I can do a decent tango. How’s that? Here’s another I just thought of—I write under Stephanie Jaye Evans because if you go to Stephanieevans.com, you are directed to an adult entertainment site. Hah!

 

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

One night after a dance, I put on Richard’s dinner jacket (it came to my knees) and slipped off my dress and gave it to the Walgreens clerk who had admired it earlier in the evening. I slipped it off in the car. Not in the Walgreens. I’m not that crazy.

 

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

A scene that touches their heart. I can remember scenes from books that I read when I was seven. I want to do that. Yeah.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Both. Absolutely.

R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :) Well, there’s the tango. I do go dancing with Richard and I have a terrific herb garden and two dogs and I give lots of dinner parties and I read all the time.

R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?

Stephaniejayeevans.com

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Write until you love what is on the page. If you don’t love it, I don’t think anyone else will.

 
 Thanks, Stephanie! and now, Just for Fun:
 
Night or Day?  Both

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Tommy is a pug. As everyone knows, pugs are cat-dogs. Ask Eloise.

Beach or Pool?   Beach


Steak or salad?  Both, please, and butter and sour cream and chives and bacon on the baked potato.

Favorite Drink?  Chocolate milk, and dry martinis and diet Coke and homemade lemonade and cheap Pinot Grigio and Earl Grey tea. Not all in the same glass at the same time, please.

Favorite Book?  No, Rocco. We aren’t doing that. Why don’t you ask me which of my sons I like best? No can do.

Favorite TV Series?  I’m watching Breaking Bad right now but it’s not my favorite. I feel compelled to watch it but I’m pretty much horrified the whole time it’s on.

Favorite Movie?  The Quiet Man

Favorite Actor: Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke and Sean Connery in The Man Who Would Be King

Favorite Actress: Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Bombay Sapphire, two jalapeno-stuffed olives. Very dry. Hey! Why does sapphire have two ‘p’s?

Hawaii or Alaska? The Lake District in Great Britain

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Jo Bass, my grandmother. She’s gone now, but, oh, she would have been excited about my books. I name Jo for her.

If I had just one wish, it would be to be the kind of person who makes everything better.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one. I wouldn’t trade with anyone. “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Psalms 16

 

Webpage and blog--stephaniejayeevans.com

Twitter--@StephJEvans

Stephanie will give the first two books in the Sugar Land Mystery series to the reader who leaves the most interesting comment in our comments section below (with your email address, of course!)

 
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Midnight Louie speaks (and so does his creator, Carole Nelson Douglas!)


CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS has been writing about Midnight Louie since 1990.  Louie, a twenty pound plus black tomcat, is the star of his multivolume mystery series, the 26th of which is set for an August release: CAT IN A YELLOW SPOTLIGHT. 
Louie and Carole are both here today to talk about their latest release…so without further ado…Midnight Louie and Carole Nelson Douglas!
Thank you, ROCCO!
Seen on the Internet: “Or maybe it's a gender thing: Dogs are boys and cats are girls. Dogs are voiced narrators, marching forth into the world. Cats are pigeonholed in quiet domesticity.”
That writer clearly has succumbed to the truism that “a boy and his dog” trotting off to adventures is the strongest human-animal bond. That writer underestimates the equal and sometimes even superior power of “a girl and her cat.”
That writer has not met Midnight Louie, PI, twenty or so pounds of street-smart cat. Louie is the part-time narrator of thirty novels and the full-time companion and protector of his “girl”, petite PR powerhouse and amateur detective, Miss Temple Barr.
Come Aug. 26, the 26th entry in the Midnight Louie alphabetically titled mystery series, Cat in a Yellow Spotlight, debuts in trade paperback and ebook on bookselling sites everywhere. The cover places Midnight Louie right where one series reader wanted to see him, dead center.
Not that Louie has used up any of his lives, even when this long-running series comes to an end. The 26-letter title alphabet sequence is bracketed by a foundation novel, Cat in an Alphabet Soup, followed by Cat in an Aqua Storm etc.… to 2015’s Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit and then the closing volume, Cat in an Alphabet Endgame. Naturally, a mere 26 letters is not enough to contain Midnight Louie and his life of crime-solving. Sue Grafton, eat your heart out. Midnight Louie is not hanging up his fedora even then.
Louie is no silent and “quietly domestic” feline. He is Sam Spade with hairballs: an intermittent narrator who’s a hard-boiled, hairy-chested, fully shived, streetwise sleuth with all Las Vegas as his turf. Midnight Louise, his daughter, is a kick-tail chip off the old block. Who better to prowl the mean streets in stealth than the two black cats who make up Midnight Investigations, Inc., and draw on a feral Vegas Cat Pack for backup?
In fact, cats in mystery series by far outnumber canine case-solvers. Although most are not narrators, they are agile cat burglars and clue sniffer-outers. Louie’s four flashing “shivs”, as he calls them, have had many a screaming thug holding his blood-blinded eyes if Louie’s Miss Temple is threatened. Not that she doesn’t have ways of protecting herself.
Together they have encountered and solved a slew of murderers. Temple has an in with coroner “Grizzly” Bahr (no relation). And Louie has busted into the morgue a time or two to satisfy a suspicion about a murder victim. In fact, tough female homicide lieutenant C. R. Molina has even begrudgingly employed the pair on a case. Well, not Louie. He keeps his real role as crime-fighter undercover when the cops are around.
The only flies in his Sin City ointment are Temple’s ex and current boyfriends. Max Kinsella is a magician and undercover agent. When “The Mystifying Max” eased out of the picture so Temple’s life was not endangered, she became intrigued by a hard-to-get, handsome new neighbor with a surprising secret and a telephone advice job. Matt Devine lives up to his name, as far as Temple is concerned. Louie knows he can’t forever be the main man in Temple’s life, but he will ensure no mere human will ever put her in danger, even from heartbreak.
In Cat in a Yellow Spotlight, Temple Barr oversees the volatile Las Vegas Strip reunion of a groundbreaking, multi-ethnic rock band, Black & White. Thirty years earlier, tabloids went wild over the shocking disappearance of its two singing divas and flamboyant manager. The women made comebacks, but manager Cale Watson was never seen again. Now, drug trips and murder stalk the rehearsing band members. Temple moves into the celebrity hotel suites to uncover the sabotage, while Louie guards her and sets the Vegas Cat Pack to sniff out clues like, er,  mere dogs. Elsewhere, vengeful former IRA terrorist Kathleen O’Connor forces magician Max Kinsella, into a shocking decision. Deadly encounters and unexpected reunions bring all the main characters unforeseen loss and disclosure, the suspense leavened by the series’ characteristic wit and heart.
So who is Midnight Louie’s collaborator, who is the author who plays “girl” to his “cat”? He forthwith presents Carole Nelson Douglas’s biography:
From being a rare Midwestern finalist in a Vogue college writing contest won by Joan Didion and Jackie Kennedy, to being “first woman” in three positions and garnering 18 daily newspaper reporting awards, to writing sixty novels published by Ballantine, Bantam, S&S, Del Rey and Tor/Forge, Douglas has crossed genres under her own name to build a wide audience. She’s the first author to make a woman from the Holmes Canon a series protagonist. Her Irene Adler bowed to raves in Good Night, Mr. Holmes, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She’s had bestselling mystery and high and urban fantasy titles on major lists, including USA Today, and nominations from the Agatha to the Nebula. Her fiction writing awards include RT Booklovers lifetime achievement awards in mystery-suspense, versatility, and as a pioneer of publishing.
But even Louie will let Carole have the last word about why she believes cats make the best detectives.
“When cats bond with people, the connection is more individually wired than with pack-based dogs. Dogs are our children. They must obey. Cats are our equals. We must earn a cat’s trust and love. And then the bond is sealed with Superglue.”

Thanks, Louie and Carole!

We have our own hopes about who Temple finally ends up with...anyone else out there on Team Max, meow???????

We'll be giving away vintage Midnight Louie books to two lucky commenters!
Just leave your email addy with a comment to enter.  For extra entries, you can tweet about this blog, post on FB, friend the Human or Carole on FB!  Winners will be chosen by random.org! Contest closes midnight, July 11!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Guest blogger....VICTORIA LAURIE!


MEOW!
Today we welcome an old friend back to the blog: NYT Bestselling author Victoria Laurie!


Victoria is the author of the NYT bestselling Psychic Eye series, featuring Abby Cooper, and the Ghost Hunter series featuring MJ Holliday! Her latest release in the Psychic Eye series, FATAL FORTUNE, debuts today in bookstores (and Kindles and Nooks) everywhere!)

So, without any further adieu...here's Victoria!
Thanks ROCCO!
Who’s The Real Watson, Sherlock?


One of the biggest dilemmas for any mystery writer to tackle is not so much the fleshing out of the protagonist, (that part is relatively easy as it’s often simply the author’s alter-ego), but the creation of the perfect plucky sidekick.

Sidekicks come with certain requirements; namely, they must be able to think on their own but not overshadow or outthink the protagonist.   They must also be willing to put up with the quirks, eccentricities, and character flaws of the protagonist, and they must do that with no small amount of enthusiasm, understanding, and loyalty. 

In other words, they’re there to assist with helping to round out the central character, offer assistance, understanding, and every once in a while, even save the day.

But by definition, their personality is typically muted compared to the central character.  They’re colored in shades of grey rather than the primary pallet of the protagonist.  That’s what makes them such a challenge to write, because they have to remain somewhat neutral while still being interesting.

I will readily admit that it took me a few books to come up with a suitable sidekick for Abby Cooper, my protagonist in the Psychic Eye Mysteries, and when I finally settled on P.I. Candice Fusco, I did so with the thought that, should I ever need someone a little more vibrant, I could ditch Candice and make the switch.

And then a funny thing happened as I continued with the series.  Candice’s greys became more and more intriguing.  I liked that her background was a bit mysterious and full of unconventional experiences.  In fact, I purposely gave my fans glimpses at a history that asked more questions than it answered, which also allowed Candice a wealth of experiences to draw from, and honed her personality to be the deep thinker between the Abby/Candice duo.  By making Candice such a strong sleuth in her own right, she became the perfect counterpart for Abby, who doesn’t so much think as sense.   And I was delighted when, after pairing Abby and Candice up for several books, the duo gradually became more than the sum of their parts.

Still, to be honest, I’ve always held back on revealing more about Candice than I could have…until now.

Fatal Fortune, the twelfth installment in my Psychic Eye Mysteries debuts with a murder committed by Abby’s beloved, trusted sidekick and delves into much more about Candice’s persona and all that fans thought they knew about her.  In writing the story I found that it was a wonderful opportunity to dive into the darker side of a very private and mysterious character and one I truly couldn’t pass up because I didn’t think anything could rattle Abby more than discovering that her BFF might not be the really good person – or close friend – she’s portrayed herself to be throughout the books.

As I wrote the story I kept thinking about everyone’s favorite original sleuth, Mr. Holmes, and what he would do if he discovered Watson to be a cold-blooded killer.  How far would he have gone to try to clear Watson’s name and discover the truth, even if it led him to a conclusion that would break his heart.

So I hope you enjoy this installment of the Psychic Eye Mysteries – Fatal Fortune, (available July 1st, 2014).  And perhaps you’ll come away with a much deeper understanding of one of my favorite sidekicks. 

Or not…  J

                                                               Victoria Laurie
Thanks Victoria! Folks, run don't walk, to the bookstore to pick this one up!
Next week... a visit from MIDNIGHT LOUIE and CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS