Thursday, July 11, 2019


Ma-Row! time to review the July cozies!

A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime
July 16, 2019
Five Stars

This is another exciting insalment in the Cat in the Stacks mystery series featuring librarian Charlie Harris and his cat,Diesel.

Charlie has enrolled in  an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.

 Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie's death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer. 
As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another  more sinister motive? Charlie  races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…

James does not disappoint and fans will enjoy solving the crime along with Charlie and Diesel. A defiite five paws!!!

A Helping Hands Mystery
Annelise Ryan
July 30, 2019
Four and a half paws

As a colleague of deputy coroner Mattie Winston, social worker Clothilde “Hildy” Schneider is no stranger to unsolved murders at Sorenson General Hospital. Except this time, it’s up to her to crack the case . . . 

Motivated by her own difficult past, Hildy has an unparalleled commitment to supporting troubled clients through grief and addiction in Sorenson, Wisconsin. But when a distraught group therapy member reveals disturbing details about her late son’s potential murder, Hildy goes from dedicated mental health professional to in-over-her-head amateur sleuth . . .

Alongside her loyal therapy Golden Retriever, Hildy stumbles through incriminating clues—and an unlikely partnership with Detective Bob Richmond, the irresistibly headstrong cop who shares her passion for helping others. With signs of foul play surfacing all over town, can Hildy and Detective Richmond pinpoint the deadly traits of a sharp-witted killer before another seat gets filled at grief therapy?

this looks like a good series. Recommend.

A Witchcraft Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
june 25, 2019
Juliet Blackwell
Five Paws

When Lily Ivory stumbles on the uniform of a former prisoner from Alcatraz and SFPD inspector Carlos Romero’s cousin is kidnapped, Lily suspects something dangerous has been unleashed on the ghost-ridden island of Alcatraz. She'll have to sleuth out the culprit—when she’s not busy entertaining her visiting relatives and resolving romantic conflicts as her wedding date approaches. Could recent omens be pointing to the magical threat in her adopted city? If so, she'll have to line up her allies to change the fate of the Bay Area. Because no matter what, Lily's determined to celebrate her marriage with her friends by her side—even if it means battling a demonic foe before she can make it to the altar.

Fans of this longtime series will not be disappointed as Lily juggles sleuthing with wedding planning.  Juliet Blackwell remains one of my favorite authors.  A definite five paws!  If you are looking for a good cozy and arealso a fan of things supernatural I highly recommend this series.

Bookmobile Cat Mystery
Laurie Cass
Berkley Prime Crime
July 2, 2019

Five Paws!

Minnie, everyone's favorite librarian and her mystery loving cat Eddie are back for another adventure!

Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, cruise around lovely Chilson, Michigan delivering happiness and good reads in their bookmobile. But the feisty librarian is worried that the bookmobile's future could be uncertain when a new library board chair arrives and doesn't seem too friendly to her pet project. 

Still, she has to put her personal worries aside when she and Eddie are out on their regular route and one of their favorite customers doesn't turn up to collect her books. Minnie, at Eddie's prodding, checks on the woman and finds her lying dead in her snow-covered driveway. Now it's up to Minnie and her friends--feline and otherwise--to find the perpetrator and give them their due.

always enjoyable watching Minnie and Eddie figure out whodunit.  I liked that Minnie is ending up with Rafe, they seem suited to each other!  Another five paw mystery for July!

A Cookie House Mystery
Eve Calder
St. Marltin's.
July 30, 2019
Four and a half paws

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!  She’s a talented pastry chef―with a secret recipe for solving crimes…
Kate McGuire’s life was sweet in Manhattan before she lost her restaurant job and fiancé both. But sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and soon she finds herself starting from scratch in the island town of Coral Cay, Florida. It has everything she’s looking for: sunny beaches, friendly locals, and a Help Wanted sign in the bakery shop window. Once she convinces the shop’s crusty owner Sam Hepplewhite to hire her, Kate can’t tie on her apron fast enough. Little does she know that trouble, like warm dough, is on the rise. . .
Stewart Lord is a real estate developer with a taste for a different type of dough: the green kind. He knows that he could make a killing by purchasing the Cookie House from Sam, who flat-out refuses to sell. But when Stewart turns up the heat on Sam―then turns up dead after eating a fresh batch of Sam’s cinnamon rolls―all eyes focus on the town’s beloved bakery. When the police arrest Sam for murder, Kate must somehow prove that her curmudgeonly boss is innocent. Enlisting the help of a team of lovable locals, Kate sets out to catch the real culprit with his hand in the cookie jar…before someone else gets burned.

This seems like an excellent debut and definitely one to watch!  After all, who doens't like a mystery involivng food?????

JULY 30, 2019

As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

Another entertaining series!  And since we've lost the Garage Sale Mysteries on Hallmark, this is an engaging substitute. Four Paws.


Leave your name and emall address in our comments section for a chance to win one of ROCCO's review copies.  Brother Maxx will select one of these books at random, and will select the lucky winner.  For extra chances to win, mention our blog and this contest on Facebook and Twitter!
Contest closes midnight, July 20!

Friday, June 28, 2019


Meow, one of my very favorite series, book or tv, is MURDER SHE WROTE.  Jon Land has done a superlative job taking over as Jessica's co-author, and this time out he's crafted an intricate mystery indeed.....

Jessica Fletcher's favorite gin rummy partner, Mimi Van Dorn, checks into the brand-new Clifton Care Partners, a private hospital that's just opened up shop in town, for a simple procedure—one that leads tragically, and inexplicably, to her death. Seeking justice in her inimitable fashion, Jessica decides to pursue her own investigation on the hospital and its shadowy business dealings.

On the trail of what initially appears to be medical malpractice, Jessica digs deeper and learns her friend was actually a victim of something far more sinister. Death is bad for business, but murder is even worse, and Jessica will find plenty of both as she races to bring down Clifton Care Partners before someone else flatlines...

Land has done an excellent job of ratcheting up the suspense iin the latest Jessica mysteries. They seem more like the old tv shows!  If I had to nitpick on one thing, it would be the overuse of the term "dear lady" in this latest tome.  

What is your favorite Jessica mystery, either tv show or book?  Leave a comment with your email address below and tell us.  We'll select one at random to receive an autographed ARC of MURDER IN RED!
Ends July 7

Friday, June 14, 2019

We Welcome Alex Erickson

Meow! Today my guest is author Alex Erickson!

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration. 
Alex Erickson
Tell us a little about your background, Alex
There’s not a lot to say! I went to Ohio University for Telecommunications, and then did nothing with it. I decided to focus on my writing instead, and well, here we are!
Tell us a bit about your latest book
 The Pomeranian Always Barks Twice is a new series that is a Barnes and Noble exclusive for the first year. Like my Bookstore Café series, it’s a cozy mystery. It’s set in yet another small town, and the heroine owns a pet rescue that finds homes for “unwanted” pets. You know, the kind often overlooked in shelters because they are too old, or have health issues, or what have you. Since this is a mystery, not everything goes to plan and someone up and dies on her. But hey, that’s when the fun starts, right?
How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
 My characters tend to let me know about them as I go. Sometimes, it takes time before I get it right. I don’t try to come up with personalities beforehand or anything like that. I figure out the plot and then let the characters develop from there. If I try to force it, the characters come off as flat or unlikeable. I’ve learned to go by feel.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
 I take a ton of notes before I write, most of which, I toss out once I actually start plotting things out. I typically try to get the first five to ten chapters fully plotted out. Then, I make a list of plot points I still need to hit that develops as I write. By the time I’m finished with the first five chapters or so, I’ll have everything I need to plot out the next five. I do that all the way until the end.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
 Character. Plot is important, of course, but if you have a great plot, but terrible characters, then no one is going to care. I believe you can sometimes skate by with a weaker plot if the characters are amazing. It’s not ideal, of course. Best case, you have both a fantastic plot and superb characters. In the end, though, I do think it is the characters that stick with people the most.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
 More Bookstore Café and more Furever Pets, of course! Both take up quite a bit of my writing time, but I do hope to work on a lot more in the future. I would like to explore other genres, write epic fantasies and hard-boiled detectives. I enjoy so many different genres, I can’t help but want to work in them.
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Never give up. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or inferior. We all suffer it, no matter how much success we have. People are going to say hurtful things. You’re going to get rejections. It’s all part of the process. Stick with it, dedicate yourself to being the best you can possible be, and you will succeed.

What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
 I spend far too much time playing games. Be it video games, board games, phone games, it’s what I do to relieve stress, to have some fun. And, yeah, I tend to be competitive in them as well. Not rude or mean, but man, I always feel the need to be the best I can be. It’s the same approach I take to my writing, actually. It doesn’t always work out the way I want it to, but I refuse to give up and settle.
 Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat, of course!
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Salad
Favorite Drink?  Don’t really have one, but I’ll go with orange juice since I drink a glass daily.
Favorite Book?  All of them? I love too many to name just one. Or ten. Or even three dozen.
Favorite TV Series?  Right now, I’d say The Expanse, though I do really enjoy a lot of shows. Most of them are foreign crime shows with subtitles. I find them to be far more intriguing that what we get on network television here.
Favorite Movie?  Once again, I can’t just name one. I do tend to lean toward Sci-fi or horror movies when given the chance to choose.
Favorite Actor: None. I often prefer unknown actors in roles. I find it far better to see the character and not the actor. Put a well known actor in a role, and I tend to expect them to act like, well, them.
Favorite Actress: Same as above. Give me an unknown who can act!
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Neither. I don’t drink *hides*
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii. Hate the cold.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Stephen King. He is the one who inspired me to write.
If I had just one wish, it would be to get to keep doing what I’m doing. Sure, world peace would be nice. The cure to all diseases, but if I’m allowed to be selfish here, I don’t ever want to change my life.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one! Like above, I like my life and hope to keep living it. Besides, other people have their own set of problems. I’d prefer to deal with the problems I know, rather than a fresh new set!

Thank you, Alex!

Alex will give away a copy of The Pomeranian Always Barks Twice to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave your name and address in our comments section.  US entries only, please.  Winner will be selected at random.  Contest closes June 22.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

ROCCO's June Cozy Reviews!

Time for more cozy reviews!

Nancy Atherton
Aunt Dimity Series
June 18, 2019
Four Stars

It's almost Christmas in the small English village of Finch--and everyone is sick. Though many of the villagers regretfully decline their invitations to Emma Harris's annual Christmas bash, Lori Shepherd has no intention of missing it. When the winter weather takes a turn for the worse, it's agreed that none of the guests will leave until morning. There's general merriment as the Christmas party becomes a pajama party--until a car appears in the winding driveway and promptly slides off the slick pavement and into a ditch. 

Matilda "Tilly" Trout--a lost and scatterbrained, middle-aged woman--is mercifully unhurt and invited to stay the night. While she catches her breath, Emma asks her other guests if they would like a tour of the Manor--including an odd room that puzzles her. Several guests put forth guesses as to its purpose, but it's Tilly who correctly identifies the room as a chapel. Placing a palm on one of the ornately-carved panels, Tilly finds a hidden compartment concealing a pile of glittering treasure--including an exquisitely decorated heart made of solid gold. Where did it come from, and why does it look so different from everything else in the chapel? Why didn't Emma even know about this hidden compartment in her own home until now--and how did Tilly?

With Aunt Dimity's otherworldly help and Tilly's bewildering store of knowledge, Lori and friends set out to unravel the mystery behind the heart of gold. And, against all odds--and Christmas finally comes to Finch!
Entertaining mystery. Four paws!

A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
Rita Mae Brown
June 4, 2019
Five Paws

A massive nor’easter has hit northern Virginia, where Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen joins groundskeeping efforts at the National Beagle Club at Aldie as the date for its springtime Hounds for Heroes veterans’ benefit approaches. Harry’s fellow volunteers, including her oldest friend, Susan Tucker, comprise a spirited group of hunting enthusiasts, some former service members themselves. But things take a sinister turn when, after a routine tree cleanup along the Club’s hunting trails, retired foreign services officer Jason Holzknect is found dead, throat slit from ear to ear. Soon enough, another murder in their midst jolts the preparations, convincing Harry that the killer is familiar with the Club—and must be close by, masked in plain sight.

The intrigue extends to the grounds of Harry’s beloved local church, where the identity of an eighteenth-century skeleton wearing precious pearls remains a mystery. The anonymous woman’s neck had been snapped, and marks on the grave where her body was secreted indicate that someone recently tried to remove it, leading Harry to question how well she really knows those around her.

As always, Harry’s crime-solving cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi share her determination to sniff out the foes among friends, even those long buried. Harry will need her four-legged companions’ help more than ever: a ghostly beagle only they can see may hold the key to the culprit.

One of my favorite series. I never tire of watching Mrs. Murphy and her friends Tucker and Pewter help Harry solve murders!  Definite Five Paws!

Cat Cafe Mystery Series
St. Martin's
June 25, 2019
Four and a half Paws

Maddie is hoping to have some downtime during Daybreak Island’s off-season to tackle her to-do list. Her grandfather’s house-turned-cat-café is under construction and she’s also scoping out places to open a juice bar on the island. On top of that, her relationship with adorable dog groomer Lucas has taken a pawsitive turn.
But easy is getting harder every day for Maddie, especially when a big-name writer who’s on the island working on a new project winds up floating in the canal. This, on the exact same day an eccentric woman shows up at the cafe claiming Maddie’s cat, JJ, is hers.
As the investigation into the dead writer picks up, Maddie realizes that even the neighbors she’s known all her life might be keeping secrets that go deep into the heart of this small seaside town. Meanwhile, a killer remains at-large...and on the prowl. A very enjoyable series.

JUNE 4, 2019

Newlyweds Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying the final days of their honeymoon in Paris. As they're browsing the book stalls along the Seine, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for Derek, a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. When they bump into Ned, an old friend from Derek’s spy days, Brooklyn shows him her latest treasure.

Once they're back home in San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned mentioned. The owner begs them to let him display the book Brooklyn found in Paris as part of the shop's first anniversary celebration. Before they agree, Derek makes sure the security is up to snuff—turns out, the unassuming book is worth a great deal more than sentimental value.

Soon after, Derek is dismayed when he receives a mysterious letter from Paris announcing Ned’s death. Then late one night, someone is killed inside the spy shop. Are the murders connected to Brooklyn's rare, pricey book? Is there something even more sinister afoot? Brooklyn and the spy who loves her will have to delve into the darkest parts of Derek's past to unmask an enemy who's been waiting for the chance to destroy everything they hold dear.

JUNE 4 2019

n return for a random act of kindness, scholar Li Bai Chang presents young cook Kat Holloway with a rare and precious gift—a box of tea. Kat thinks no more of her unusual visitor until two days later when the kitchen erupts with the news that Lady Cynthia's next-door neighbor has been murdered.

Known about London as an "Old China Hand," the victim claimed to be an expert in the language and customs of China, acting as intermediary for merchants and government officials. But Sir Jacob's dealings were not what they seemed, and when the authorities accuse Mr. Li of the crime, Kat and Daniel find themselves embroiled in a world of deadly secrets that reach from the gilded homes of Mayfair to the beautiful wonder of Kew Gardens.  FOUR STARS


To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section.  Winner will be chosen using  For extra points, share this post on twitter and/or facebook, or on your blog if you have one.  Contest closes midnight, June 16.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

ROCCO interviews author Debra Sennefelder!

This week my guest is author Debra Sennefelder!

Debra Sennefelder is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.
She is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.
Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy.

Welcome Debra!
Tell us a little about your background –
I was born and raised in New York City and moved to Connecticut after I married. I majored in Fashion Buying and Merchandising and went on to work in retail and publishing. I also wrote a food blog for several years before becoming a full-time author.I have two writing companions, my Shih-Tzus. Susie is 15 and Billy is 14.

Tell us a little about your latest book -
THE HIDDEN CORPSE, book 2 in the Food Blogger Mystery series released in late March. It was so much fun to write. Hope Early, the blogger behind Hope at Home, is taking a food photography class when a tragedy strikes her neighbor’s home. When elderly Peggy Olson perishes in a home fire, Hope can’t help but feel somewhat responsible. Only the day before, Peggy had called her over, having burned a pot on the stove while she was sleeping and filling the house with smoke. In fact, she couldn’t even remember cooking. Clearly, it was dangerous for the woman to live alone. But it turns out she wasn’t alone. When a second body is discovered in the basement of the burned house, suddenly what appeared to be a tragic accident is beginning to look like premeditated murder. As rumors spread like wildfire, Hope is determined to sort out the facts and smoke out a killer, but she might be jumping from the frying pan straight into the fire. There are also recipes from Hope’s blog included in the book.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I outline. My outlines tend to be between 20-25 pages. Years ago, I wasn’t an outliner but I slowly came around and now I can’t imagine writing a book without an outline. But even though I have a very extensive outline, things do change. I may add scenes, delete scenes or add an extra character. I often joke my outline is written on a Word document, not carved in stone so it can be tweaked.

Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Great question. Both are important but I think character is more important for me. I could come up with the greatest, most twisty plot but if I don’t have the right characters then I won’t have a story anyone wants to read.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m currently working on book four in the Food Blogger series. I’ve recently gotten a new contract for books four and five. Book three, Three Widows and A Corpse comes out on October 29th. I also write the Resale Boutique Mystery series. The first book in that series, Murder Wears a Little Black Dress came out in January and the second book, Silenced in Sequins, comes out in January 2020. I do have a lot going on and I’m loving it.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I get up early every morning and I’m at my desk to start work at 8am. Writing, whether it’s new words for a first draft or revising for subsequent drafts, is done first thing. When I’m writing a first draft, I have a daily word count of 3,000 words and I’m usually able to get those done by lunch time. Mid-day I break to exercise, have lunch and take the pups for a walk. When I return to my office after the break, I’ll work on marketing, promotion, run errands, and if necessary, finish up writing if I didn’t meet my morning goal.

What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
The best advice I feel I can give is to not give up. I had so many opportunities over the years to throw my hands up and quit. I did take some time away to write my food blog, but I never really stopped writing fiction. I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both. The cat in the Resale Boutique Mystery series is based on Howard, the cat we had for 14 years.
Beach or Pool?   Neither. I burn too easily.
Steak or salad?  Salad.
Favorite Drink?  Coffee.
Favorite Book?  Too many to pick one.
Favorite TV Series?  So many. But my current obsession is Chicago PD. How have I not watched this show sooner?
Favorite Movie?  The Devil Wears Prada
Favorite Actor: Mark Harmon
Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? I’m not sure. I haven’t tried either.
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska. I’ve been to Hawaii already. I’d love to visit Alaska someday.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Agatha Christie.
If I had just one wish, it would be to make my Shih-Tzu Susie healthy. She’s just been diagnosed with kidney disease.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Bobbi Parker Hall. She’s a fitness competitor over 50 and I’d love to train like her for a day. I love exercise that much.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

ROCCO interviews Kylie Logan!

MEOW!  My guest today is author Kylie Logan, aka Casey Daniels!

Kylie Logan has been reading and writing as long as she can remember.  Her newest book is “The Scent of Murder,” a mystery set in Cleveland that features a cadaver dog handler.  Kylie has also written the League of Literary Ladies mysteries and the Ethnic Eats mysteries.  As Casey Daniels, she writes the Pepper Martin mysteries about a cemetery tour guide who finds justice for the ghosts she meets on the job.  Kylie lives in a suburb of Cleveland with her husband and two dogs, Lucy, a rescue who grew up in a prison training program, and Eliot, a one-year-old Airedale who has never met anything that fits in his mouth that he doesn’t want  to eat.

Welcome to the blog, Kylie!

Tell us a little about your background
I started writing back in the Stone Ages when my kids were little and I needed something to keep me busy (and make some money) while I stayed home with them.  My first books were historical romances and I’ve also written contemporary romance, young adult horror (great fun!), a childrens book and of course, now mysteries.  My newest book is “The Scent of Murder” and it’s a mystery, book #58 for me.

Tell us a bit about your latest book
“The Scent of Murder” is set in my hometown of Cleveland.  The heroine is Jazz Ramsey, a young woman who has volunteer work she’s passionate about—Jazz trains and handles cadaver dogs.  She’s putting a dog through its paces when she discovers the body of a young woman, once a student at the school where Jazz works. The lead detective on the case is Jazz’s former lover, and like it or not, Jazz is pulled into the mystery—and into the search for the truth.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I’m an outliner, definitely.  I’ve tried writing without and for me, that means total disaster.  I start with the basic idea and just do a sort of stream-of consciousness list, writing down anything I can think of.  The next day I go back to it and add.  And I do the same thing the next day and the next day and the next.  Eventually, I start chopping those blocks of ideas into chapters.  I don’t usually know how something’s going to happen in a book, but I know where it needs to happen.  For me, this allows me to write faster though I am by no means a fast writer.  I know where I’m going in the story.  I also think it helps because mysteries rely so much on logic, the story has to make sense, the clues have to follow one after the other.  So for me, outlining is the way to go.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I think the biggest challenge is the industry itself.  So much has changed since my first book was published in 1992!  If a writer wants to publish and wants to stayed published, I believe it’s imperative to stay agile.  As I mentioned, I started out in this business writing historical romances.  Then that subgenre got very erotic, and that wasn’t for me.  So I switched to contemporary romance.  Then to mystery because, honestly, those are the books I love the most. As for what keeps me motivated…this is my job, and it’s what I do.  I can’t imagine not writing!

Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Over the years, I’ve had six agents, and I won’t share all those stories!  I will say that it’s tough to get an agent.  I will also say that when a writer is looking for an agent, it’s important to remember that this is a business.  An agent will take you on if that agent thinks he/she can sell your work.  If you’re rejected, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an awful writer.  It does mean that particular agent doesn’t see your work as saleable.  Again, it’s all about being agile, all about knowing the markets, about what’s selling and what isn’t.  If you’re just writing for yourself (or to self-publish or to leave stories for your children and grandchildren to read), that’s another whole thing.  But if you want to traditionally publish and to stay traditionally published, you need to keep on top of the business.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’ve completed the second book in the Jazz Ramsey series.  It’s tentatively titled “The Secrets of Bones.”  I’m thinking it will have a 2020 release, but I don’t have confirmation on that yet.  In the meantime, I’ve started a new cozy series about a heroine who manages a woman’s club.  There’s an old speakeasy in the basement…and a ghost who hangs out there!  It’s light and funny and great fun to write.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
Writing is my fulltime job, so I’m in front of my computer most days, probably 5-6 hours a day at least.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  . Depends what I’m doing, but probably day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Dog.  Definitely.
Beach or Pool?   pool
Steak or salad?  salad
Favorite Drink?  Wine, white, and not too sweet
Favorite Book?  Wow, that’s a hard one.  Too many to name!
Favorite TV Series?  Don’t watch much, but I have fond memories of Buffy
Favorite Movie?  Another tough one, though I do love “Casablanca.”
Favorite Actor:  Can’t say I have one though I do love the Brits, Branagh and Cumberbatch and Jeremy Brett among many others. 
Favorite Actress:  None I can think of
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Can it be a dirty martini?  And can I choose the vodka?  I’m definitely a vodka snob
Hawaii or Alaska?  I’ve never been to either and I’d like to see both, so no preference

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be … Dang, that’s a tough one!  Agatha Christie.  No, no…Arthur Conan Doyle.  No, wait . . . Eleanor of Aquitaine.  But then there’s . . .
If I had just one wish, it would be the end of all suffering, physical and mental.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one.  There’s an old saying, “The devil you know if better than the one you don’t know.”  So true.   Other peoples lives might look perfect from the outside, but we’re all dealing with stuff, maybe not the same stuff, but everyone has their own challenges.  I’ll just stick with my own stuff, thank you very much!

Thank you, Kylie

Kylie will give away a copy of “The Scent of Murder.”to one lucky commenter!

To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section.  The winner will be chosen at random by  US entries only, please! Contest ends midnight, May 23