Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Back to the Blog - Mary Janice Davidson (and an EXCLUSIVE chapter from Undead and Unwary!)

ROCCO here!
Once again, our good friend Mary Janice Davidson has come through, with an exclusive sneak peek at a chapter from the newest Betsy book, UNDEAD AND UNWARY!  HERE’S MJ:
Thanks ROCCO! A big meow to you!
Here’s a sneak preview from my new release, UNDEAD AND UNWARY.  In it our heroine, Betsy, is once more struggling with her responsibilities as a wife, daughter, queen, roommate, sort-of godmother to weird baby twins, and hellspawn overlord.  It’s not going well.  Not too spoilery, though!  (Some mild pottymouth.) 
            There’s this thing that happens in books and movies when the heroine (moi) stumbles across something weird (my entire post-death life, and also senior prom) and can’t figure it out (all the time, any of the time) and is a slave to being overwhelmed (like that time my dentist kept hounding me to come back so he could finish the root canal, that guy was obsessed with teeth). 
And every time, every damn time, this idiotic, often pointlessly gorgeous heroine, for whatever dumbass reason (afraid others won’t like her, afraid others will notice she’s turning into a slavering zombie, afraid she’ll get audited, afraid they’ll stop inviting her to parties, afraid she’ll be deported, afraid she’ll get slapped—and by this point, the audience is itching to slap the silly bitch), every time, she keeps it all to herself until the mysterious secret in question blows up in her face.  Blows up in everyone’s faces. 
The terrible secret, now hideously exposed, nearly gets her killed or straight up gets her killed (if you’re like me, you’re actively rooting for her miserable death by now).  If it miraculously doesn’t, it’s only because it’s the end of the movie when she explains to everyone what the hell’s been going on and, weirdest of all, they don’t fall upon her and murder her in a fit of “why didn’t you say anything, you dim bimbo?” rage.
Every.  Damn.  Time.  Go on.  Test my theory.  Stream a handful of horror movies and watch how stupid the heroine is.  It’s almost as bad as sci-fi movies featuring scientists who are just.  So.  Dumb (*cough* Helix *cough*). [1]
Not this idiot heroine, boys and girls.  Nope.  I pretty much always know when something is over my head and can’t wait to fob it off onto someone else.  This has been a habit of mine since...oh, about first grade.  I have always owned my uselessness.  Which is why I’d been avoiding the Anti-Christ like I was getting paid.  But acknowledging my complete uselessness for a job didn’t always mean I should avoid the job.  I’m bad at washing dishes by hand, too, but when the dishwasher broke...hmm.  I’m not sure who handled that.  I know we started using plastic cups for smoothie time, and there were a lot of explanations from individuals about why it wasn’t their problem, and then threats, but if I’d had to, I would have stepped up.  Same with pledges to younger sibs and otherworldly realms. 
The time for cowardly scurrying into corners was over.  Now was the time for cowardly scurrying into a realm I knew nothing about and had no business running.
Right, then.  To Hell!  But in a good way! 
Laura, who never flaunted her abilities, simply walked out of the kitchen where she presumably vanished.  Or kept walking out until she got back out to her car; I dunno, I hadn’t even noticed when she’d arrived.  Not my job.  I, on the other hand, since my middle name should have been Flaunt, gave my pals a cheery wave.  “I’m off!  Don’t wait up.”  As exit lines went, it was lame, but I hadn’t had a lot of prep time.
Then I dramatically disappeared.
Except not. 
I’d thought this was mind-over-matter, I had gotten myself back from Hell just by thinking about it a few weeks ago.  (Maybe it had worked more because of my desperation to get away from the Ant, the worst spirit guide ever.)  But I was still in the mansion, dammit, while Laura was probably half way (or all the way) to Hell by now, and several of my alleged loved ones were trying not to smirk.  The babies, at least, were respectfully silent except for the occasional milk-snore.
“Well.”  I took a long look around the kitchen.  “That was anti-climactic.”
            “Perhaps the objects on which you focus your no-doubt formidable concentration?” Sinclair began in a helpful murmur that barely held back his snicker.
            Of course!  Dorothy’s shoes!  I left the kitchen, came back, hollered, “Okay, bye!  Again!”, darted back down the hall and up the stairs, then all but flew into my room.  If I wanted to get back and forth from Hell—and I did, I wasn’t going to be an exchange student and live there, and I sure wasn’t going to do the Hell equivalent of lunch at my desk—I needed to focus. 
            In other words, I needed  Dorothy’s silver shoes from The Wizard of Oz.  The enchanting book, not the terrifying movie.  I kept them in my closet, in the safe along with my marriage certificate (and gawd, Sinclair had bitched about that incessantly, saying we were already married in the eyes of the undead which meant, as you can imagine, jack crap to me), my (useless?  maybe?) social security card, and some of Sinclair’s paperwork, I dunno, looked like stock certificates and stuff.  JPMorgan Chase stock was worth a lot, right?  Especially when you bought it in 1950, when it was Western Union?  And Coca-Cola stock from 1919 at $40 a share had probably aged well, too.  Wait, how old was my husband again?  Maybe his dad had really liked Coke.
            No time for distractions, dammit, and no time for paper millions or government-issued I.D.; I needed something much more valuable.  I tapped in the code (SINK LAIR SUKS) and popped the safe, spotted the gleaming beauty of my unreal shoes, yanked them out, then slammed the door before the baggie of—diamonds?  did diamonds even come in red?—could fall out. 
            No time to get distracted by pretty colors; I had to get focused on my pretty shoes.  They weren’t really there, you know.  They weren’t real.  They were my will, a piece of my wanting made solid by...what?  I didn’t know.  Magic, I guessed (note the lack of K in magic, please).  Or science so advanced and beyond my understanding it might as well be magic.
It goes like this:  as a card-carrying member of undead royalty, I could travel back and forth between dimensions.  Hell, it seemed, was one such dimension. 
Wait.  I’ve got to back up.  It wasn’t just because I was a vampire, or any of the hundred thousand (or however many there were; we were still working on a census) vampires on the planet would be zipping back and forth to Hell.  I could do it because my half-sister was the Anti-Christ.  Which made no sense, because we were related through our father, an ordinary man who was now dead.  Whoever my half-sister’s mother was should have zero effect on my other-worldly abilities. 
See?  It’s like I’ve been warning for ages.  Any attempt to apply logic to this supernatural stuff was pointless.  Not that I didn’t try.  Okay, I didn’t try.  But I thought about trying.  Sometimes.
Anyway, some of the religions were right, Hell was a real place.  (Which called into question:  which religions?  And if some of them were “right”, did that mean others were “wrong”?  Also I was using quotation marks too much.)  Not one near the planet’s core, but an actual place nonetheless, one hardly anyone got to until they died.  Except lots of dead people didn’t go there.  They went somewhere else (heaven?  Dairy Queen?) or didn’t go anywhere (hung out where they’d died, occasionally tracked me down to demand favors, and those were just the ones I knew of for certain).  The whole thing was migraine-inducing. 
            But knowing this, any of this, wasn’t enough.  It can be tough work, overcoming a lifetime of conditioning which assured me, over and over, that I could not teleport, Hell wasn’t a job share, every bit of my afterlife was over my head, and knowing there is life after death solves little and explains exactly nothing.
            Thus: the shoes.  The pinnacle of my ambition, the Holy Grail of footgear, Dorothy Gale’s silver shoes.  Not ruby red, mind you.  In the book, they were silver.  MGM mucked with that because a) it’s inherent in movie people to muck with great books (*cough* My Sister’s Keeper *cough*) and b) red = pretty!  Honestly, movie people should just get it over with and have “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds” printed on their business cards.
            I slipped them on and, because they weren’t real, they fit me perfectly and didn’t pinch even a little bit.  Then I clicked my heels three times and murmured with wide, hopeful eyes, “There’s no place like Hell, there’s no place like Hell, there’s no place like Hell” except not really.  Once I had the focus, I didn’t need magic words.  I thought, This is so, so stupid.  I can’t believe this even works.  And shut my eyes.
            And, a second later, opened them in Hell.
UNDEAD AND UNWARY releases October 7, 2014.
Want to win a copy? Leave your name and email addy in the comments section! For extra entries you can:
Friend the Human on Facebook
Follow MJ on Facebook
Follow MJ or RoccoBlogger on Twitter
Tweet or post on FB or your blog about this contest!
Closes  midnight, October 5! US entries only, please.

[1] I’m aware nobody does the *cough* thing anymore.  Shut up.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

We Welcome NYT Bestselling author ALI BRANDON!

Our guest today is NYT Bestselling author Ali Brandon!


Ali Brandon is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Writing under her real name, Diane A.S. Stuckart, she penned the popular Leonardo da Vinci historical mystery series, which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as a Florida Book Award. A native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Diane a/k/a Ali now lives in South Florida. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Cat Writers Association. Visit her at or



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

A: Hello, ROCCO, and thanks for hosting me. Like most authors, I’ve been a voracious reader almost from Day One. The writing didn’t kick in until around junior high, though, when I found out I had a knack for essays and book reports. That small success nudged me toward a spot on the student newspaper once I hit high school, where I was a feature writer for a couple of years. By the time I got to college, I’d decided to major in journalism.

 The career with a major newspaper or magazine never quite happened—as a struggling newlywed, I couldn’t afford to accept the part-time, minimum wage salary at the only newspaper that made me an offer—but by then I’d decided that fiction writing was my true love. And, for the record, I’m a Texas gal, just like my protagonist, Darla Pettistone. But instead of starting over in New York, I somehow ended up in South Florida.


R:  We’ve hosted Hamlet previously, and he had some nice things to say about you!  How would you describe your working relationship with him?

 A: Hamlet is the best. We work together so well, it’s almost like we share the same brain, ha ha!  (R: I feel the same way about the HUMAN, myself!)

R: Tell us about Hamlet’s latest adventure – LITERALLY MURDER!

 A: The YouTube video of Hamlet doing a karate routine in WORDS WITH FIENDS has gone viral. This brings Hamlet an invitation to be guest of honor at the Feline Society of America’s championship cat show in Fort Lauderdale. Darla and Jake accompany him to Florida, but it turns out that all is not sunny in the Sunshine State. Hamlet gets catnapped, animal rights protestors cause trouble, and a very unpleasant gentleman meets a bad end. Oh, and Jake’s wacky mother happens to live in Fort Lauderdale and adds to the confusion.


R: Is “Hamlet” modeled after any cat in particular?

 A: In appearance and name, Hamlet is an homage to my original editor’s dearly departed Hammy. But he’s actually a composite of many cats I’ve known over the years – though his book snagging talent is his, alone.

R: As Diane AS Stuckart, you write other mysteries. Can you tell us about those?

 A: I also wrote the Leonardo da Vinci mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. It featured a 30-year-old Leonardo as a dashing Renaissance sleuth. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled after three books, which is sad because I have another three-book story arc to tell about him and his apprentice, Delfina. Currently, I’m republishing on Kindle five of my vintage historical romances, all of which have strong mystery elements (and dead bodies!) along with the romance.

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

A: Somewhere between Thank you! Thank you! and It’s about darned time!

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

A: Plenty of Diet Coke and water, and lots of white noise. But NO music.

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

A: What moment would I NOT want to travel to? I think, for the sake of setting the historical record straight—and because I was a child in Dallas when it happened—I’d arrange to be at the School Book Depository at the time of Kennedy’s assassination to find out for sure if Oswald really did it.

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

 A: That I have three tattoos.

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

 A: I’m really pretty boring when you get down to it. Here’s my one lapse into being a bad girl. Back in high school, after a late night showing of the movie, Logan’s Run, I helped a friend swipe the giant cardboard hand that was on display out in the lobby. No clue what she did with the silly thing afterward.

R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
A: If I’ve made them laugh or cry or shake their heads in agreement—maybe even all three—then I’ve done my job

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

A: I’m madly working on Book 5 in the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series (working title DEAD, WRITE, AND BREW).

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A: Nothing but pants for me.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

A: Read. Write. Repeat. And, attend writers’ conferences, join writers’ organizations…and, in general, mingle with and learn from other authors.


Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Night

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both!

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad

Favorite Drink?  Diet Coke

Favorite Book?  Anything by Barbara Michaels

Favorite TV Series?  The Walking Dead (followed by The Big Bang Theory)

Favorite Movie?  Gone With the Wind

Favorite Actor:  Michael Caine

Favorite Actress: Maggie Smith

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 __Abraham Lincoln_____

If I had just one wish, it would be__ to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em__

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be __with any great violinist_____


Thanks for a great interview, Ali!  Folks you can find Ali (and her alter ego, Diane A.S. Stuckart) at:

LITERALLY MURDER, the fourth entry in the popular Black Cat Bookshop mystery series, is in stores Tuesday!  Order your copy now! You won't want to miss this series! 


Ali Brandon will give away a signed copy of LITERALLY MURDER to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave your name and email address in the comments section below. For extra entries, you can:


Friend me on Twitter @ RoccoBlogger

Friend the Human, Toni LoTempio, on Facebook

Friend Ali Brandon or Diane A.S. Stuckart on Facebook

Tweet or mention this blog and contest (extra 3 entries)


Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your post so you get credit! Winner will be chosen at random by Contest closes midnight, October 5! US residents only. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ROCCO interviews author Christina Freeburn

MEOW! Our guest today is author Christina Freeburn!

The Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery series brings together Christina Freeburn’s love of mysteries, scrapbooking, and West Virginia. When not writing or reading, she can be found in her scrapbook room or at a crop. Alas, none of the real-life crops have had a sexy male prosecutor or a handsome police officer attending.

Christina served in the JAG Corps of the US Army and also worked as a paralegal, librarian, and church secretary. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, children, a dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid or allergic to felines.

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

Christina: When I was in high school, a friend and I were bored on the long bus ride to and from school so we started writing a teen romance. My friend lost interest but I found a new love that that complemented my love of reading. Ever since, I wanted to be a writer. I’ve had other jobs in my life along the way…I served in the US Army, was a paralegal, circulation librarian, and a church secretary… and always came back to writing.

R:  Tell us about your “Scrap This Mystery” series!  Was it sparked by your own love of scrapbooking?

Christina: The Scrap This Mystery series features Faith Hunter who left home wanting to experience a more exciting life than her West Virginia hometown offered, and returned home when adventure wasn’t as grand as she always dreamed. The Scrap This series was inspired by my love of scrapbooking. Scrapbooking was a hobby that combined storytelling and photography so it was a natural fit for me. I thought it was a good backdrop for a mystery as scrapbooking is all about showcasing lives and our histories, and sometimes trying to rewrite it a little by what we leave out, or put into, our scrapbooks.

R: Tell us about your New Beginnings series.

Christina: The New Beginnings books are an inspirational romantic suspense series that follows a group of skip-tracers who dedicate their lives to relocating abused women who need a new start in life. This series is written in multiple third-person point of views (usually just heroine and hero but sometimes a villain has their say) and has a more serious tone than the Scrap This books. There is a touch of humor in the books, and a strong family unit is also a part of this series.

R: Tell us about your latest release!

Christina: Embellished to Death is the third book in the Scrap This Mystery Series. In this story, Faith ventures out of Eden and heads to Morgantown where she is a vendor at a weekend scrapbook retreat. She teams up with Bob Roget, a private investigator and Detective Ted Roget’s brother, to catch an identity thief hiding among—and preying on—the women attending the crop retreat. Faith discovers the identity thief isn’t the only person she needs to be wary of when a man who knows her past uses it to blackmail her and swears he’ll prove she’s the killer.

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?

Christina: I don’t have an agent right now. When my first book sold, I was very excited and at times couldn’t quite believe it and wondering if I had dreamt it. It wasn’t until I held it in my hands that it seemed real. 

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

Christina: Theme songs and a title. For every book, I have a song that represents the “heart” theme of the book and also one that speaks of the main relationship issue/romance in the book. The title also gives me some direction and without one I can’t get beyond writing ‘Chapter One.’

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

Christina: I’d like to go back when women won the right to vote in the United States. Sometimes, I think the responsibility and duty to cast a vote is taken for granted. I think being there to see the struggle and what it took to earn the right would make voting a more serious matter, and one that we cherished and used every time the opportunity is there. I’ll admit I skipped voting in a local election because I thought the issue weren’t worth the time.

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

Christina: That I saw a show at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. I’ve always been on the more conservative side so I don’t think it’s something anyone would suspect that I’d watch and enjoy.

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

Christina: When stationed in Germany, some friends and I visited Switzerland and decided to hike an easy trail on the Swiss Alps. On the way down, we somehow lost our original trail and ended up on one that was much steeper. Instead of trying to find the easy trail, we continued down the more advance one. Looking back, I realized that we weren’t very bright as it was beyond our skill level. Fortunately, we all made it down safely.

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

Christina: After reading one of my books, I’d like readers to take away a sense of hope and a belief that a person can not only change their life but help others do the same. I’d want readers to have been entertained and feel like they just spent time with some friends.

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

Christina: Right now, I’m working on a new Scrap This Mystery story. The first draft is nearing completion.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Christina: I’m a mix of both. I used to be a pantser only but found that I spend a lot of time reconstructing a story when I was finished. Some of my characters like to go off in tangents and I needed to start outlining a little bit to keep them focused on the main plot of the story.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Christina: Don’t compare your journey in publishing or your writing style to anyone else’s. Each writer has a way that works best for them and copying the way another writer works won’t get you the same results. Just be you.

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?   Night.

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat. Absolutely cat.  (ROCCO: PURRRR)

Beach or Pool?  Beach

Steak or salad?  Steak

Favorite Drink?  Sangria

Favorite Book?  Misty of Chincoteague

Favorite TV Series?  Once Upon a Time

Favorite Movie?  Maleficent

Favorite Actor: Colin O’Donoghue

Favorite Actress: Lana Parrilla

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 Walt Disney.

If I had just one wish, it would be that there would be peace. There seems to be so much anger and hatred everywhere.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one. I’d have answered that question differently a few months ago, but I’m at a stage of life where I’m working on enjoying being me, and not trying to compare my life to someone else’s. There was a time I got too caught up in comparing and I found it put me in a negative frame of mind.

Thanks for a great interview!

Here are all the places you can find Christina:





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Auction Time...Support Kids Need To Read!

ROCCO here!

It's that time of year again, when the Human and I hold our auction to raise funds for a very worthwhile charity:  KIDS NEED TO READ.

Kids Need to Read was co-founded by Denise Gary, PJ Haarsma and Nathan Fillion as a way of getting books into kids in underfunded areas who might not otherwise have a chance to get books to read.  The program promotes literacy, and since the Human is an author, this is a cause she's 100% behind!

You can find out more about the charity HERE:

This year, we are auctioning off an item donated by KNTR's Director, Denise Gary: a recipe book that was used to publicize the 2007 movie Waitress. The box and two air fresheners inside have been personally autographed by Nathan Fillion!

You can find the auction HERE

We hope you will all come out and support this great charity!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Welcome author Kathleen Ernst!

 Lighthouse photo courtesy of: Kay Klubertanz

Meow! I interview author Kathleen Ernst!

Tradition of Deceit is Kathleen Ernst’s thirtieth book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. 

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

 My parents raised their daughters to understand that in terms of basic needs, books rank right up there with food and shelter.  We often visited historic sites and places, and before the trips, my mom (who was a librarian) always looked for historical fiction about the relevant place or time.  By the time we arrived, the setting was already alive in my imagination.  I started writing my own stories when I was nine or ten, and everything I write is either historical fiction or historical in nature.

 After college, I went to work at a huge outdoor museum called Old World Wisconsin.  It includes ten working farms that interpret the period 1845 – 1915.  The years I spent there provided great practical training for a writer! 

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

 I must start with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I adored her books as a child, and I’ve enjoyed rereading them as an adult too.  I look for books with well-developed characters and a strong sense of place. 

 My list of favorite authors in the adult mystery world include Dana Stabenow, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and G.M. Malliet.  Some of my favorite children’s books include Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Gary D. Schmidt), Hattie Big Sky (by Kirby Larson), and The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (Karen Cushman).

R: Tell us about your books – you write for both children and adults. Which is your favorite and why?

I love writing for both audiences, which I why I juggle both! 

 I’m working on the 6th book in the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series.  Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin (where I used to be a curator), and the series lets me explore compelling historic places and themes.  The second main character, Roelke McKenna, is a policeman.  In each book, Chloe’s knowledge of the past is needed to help solve the mystery.  This series comes straight from my heart.

 I’ve written for a number of children’s publishers, but most of my books for young readers have been published by American Girl.  I created Caroline Abbot, the latest Historical Character, and my books about her include two mysteries.  Caroline lives in the middle of the action during the War of 1812, so I had no trouble finding plenty of material!

R: Tell us about your latest releases!

 Tradition of Deceit will be published in November, 2014.  Chloe solves a murder after traveling to Minneapolis to help a friend develop a proposal for a museum at an abandoned flour mill complex—which in real life is now the fabulous Mill City Museum.  Meanwhile, Roelke investigates a friend’s death in one of Milwaukee’s most fascinating neighborhoods, the Old South Side.  Polish heritage and culture link the two plotlines, and Chloe and Roelke face new challenges both personal and professional.  I’m very excited about launching this one.

My latest American Girl book is Catch The Wind:  My Journey With Caroline.  It’s a choose-your-own-adventure book, a new structure for me.  Writing it turned out to be great fun, and I think young readers will enjoy exploring all the options.  It also involves time travel, too.  And I have a new Caroline mystery, The Smuggler’s Secrets, coming in 2015.

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

In the adult series, I like writing Chloe herself.  She’s a lot like me—but braver.  The third book, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, takes place at an old lighthouse on an island in Lake Michigan; for six years, my husband and I have had the privilege of serving as live-in docents there for a week at a time, which has been an amazing experience.

 I also enjoy creating fictional women for the historical plotline in many of the Chloe mysteries.  I like to think that in my own small way, I’m giving voice to some of the anonymous women in history who met enormous challenges.

 While writing the Caroline stories I got to go sailing on a reproduction 1812 sloop – great fun!  In that series, I’m quite proud of creating three generations of strong females.  Grandmother survived the American Revolution and shows Caroline that women can face whatever they must.  Mama capably takes over the family business when Caroline’s father is captured by the British.  Caroline sometimes makes mistakes, but she has a good heart and is quite courageous when she needs to be.

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?

 After lots of rejections, my book career started with a small press.  Getting the green light was wonderful, but the best moment was when that first box of books arrived.  I’ve worked my way up from there, step-by-step.  I’m currently paired with my fourth agent—the first three left the business—and she’s wonderful.  The first, decades ago, took me out to lunch.  I was in my 20s, and his kindness made me feel like a real writer.

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

 I take several week-long writing retreats each year—just me, my cat, and my laptop. (Kathleen's cat, Sophie, pictured above)  Having a week to completely focus is marvelous; and since I write multiple books a year, it also helps me meet deadlines.  A cafĂ© mocha every day helps too.

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

Must I really pick just one?  I’ve written about many time periods and places, and whenever I’m immersed in a particular story, I so wish I could get a peek back in time. 

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
That I wrote novels for 20 years before selling one.

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

I hope readers will come to care about my characters.  I hope readers close a book and think, I’d like to learn more about that topic! Or, I want to visit that historic site!  I often hear from readers who have done just that, and it’s wonderful.

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

I’m mid-way through the next Chloe Ellefson mystery.  I’m also working on a nonfiction book for the Wisconsin Historical Society, A Settler’s Year:  Pioneer Life Through The Seasons.  Both will be published in 2015.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A pantser, although I use the term wader.  I start with an idea and wade right in.

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

My website,

My husband and business partner, Scott Meeker, designed and maintains the site.  We’ve worked hard to provide lots of goodies, resources, and background information for each book.

Readers can also join me on Facebook.  In addition to general news, I do lots of giveaways there.

And, I write a blog called “Sites and Stories,” which provides lots of behind-the-scenes glimpses of each book’s background. 

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

 Take the time to develop your craft before worrying about selling.  When you find an author you love, take the time to analyze why you love her books.  What can you learn from them?  Write what you feel passionate about and enjoy the process.  The writing business can be grueling, so it’s essential that we take joy from the writing itself.

 Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Night.

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat!  (ROCCO: YAY!)

Beach or Pool?   Beach.

Steak or salad?  After 40 years as a vegetarian?  Salad.

Favorite Drink?  Arnold Palmers (iced tea/lemonade)

Favorite Book?  Too Many To Count

Favorite TV Series?  The Big Bang Theory, Longmire

Favorite Movie?  Sweet Land, Glory, Last of the Mohicans, The Immigrants, Rob Roy…

Favorite Actor:

Favorite Actress:

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska?  Alaska

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be one of my female ancestors, who came to North America from Amsterdam in 1625 as one of the founding families of New York.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be – Nope, I’m happy living my own life!

Leave a comment for a chance to win any one of Kathleen's Chloe Ellefson mysteries: Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Heritage of Darkness, or Tradition of Deceit (out in November, 2014).  For extra entries you can:

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Winner chosen by Contest ends Sept. 20 at midnight. Good luck!