Monday, July 25, 2016

Rocco's guest...author Mike Befeler!



Meow! My guest this weekend is Mike Befeler, author of the Geezer-Lit mysteries.

Mike Befeler’s geezer-lit mysteries include Nursing Homes Are Murder, Care Homes Are Murder; Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, a finalist for The Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2012; Senior Moments Are Murder; Living with Your Kids Is Murder; and Retirement Homes Are Murder. His other published mysteries are Court Trouble, The V V Agency, The Back Wing, Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse and Murder on the Switzerland Trail. He grew up in Hawaii and lives in Lakewood, CA, with his wife Wendy. http://www.mikebefeler.com

  • Welcome Mike! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks, ROCCO! layed competitive tennis as a kid and in college. After graduate school I followed a business career for 39 years until I retired into writing—I didn’t begin writing until 2001 when I was 56.
  • Tell us a bit about your Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series
There are six books in the series: Retirement Homes Are Murder, Living with Your Kids Is Murder, Senior Moments Are Murder, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, Care Homes Are Murder and Nursing Homes Are Murder. Paul is in his mid-eighties and has short term memory loss. Even though he can’t remember the day before, he becomes an amateur sleuth and even has a romance with a young chick in her seventies. The first book in the series was inspired by active older people with good senses of humor I met when my mom and stepdad moved into a retirement community.
  • What is your latest release?
Released in July, 2016: Court Trouble, A Platform Tennis Mystery. Having played platform tennis for the last 20 years I set a mystery in a sport I love.
In Court Trouble Mark Yeager is retired from his stressful career as an entrepreneur and now gets his adrenaline fix from games of platform tennis with a motley crew of equally middle-aged buddies. But when one of his good friends is bludgeoned to death in the dark on one of the platform tennis courts, Mark takes it personally: Manny Grimes had likely saved Mark’s life by
insisting he see a doctor for what turned out to be prostate cancer. Mark decides he must identify the killer, even if it means another close encounter of the Grim Reaper kind.

“This solid series launch from Befeler introduces an unlikely amateur sleuth, platform tennis buff Mark Yeager. . . . Readers will look forward to seeing more of this determined tennis enthusiast and cancer survivor.” —Publishers Weekly

  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
My characters may have snippets of people I know but always have their own characteristics that seem right for them. I do some character sheet listing of qualities but then it always evolves from there as I write
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I have tried various amounts of outlining but have never been a complete seat of the pants writer. I typically write a basic outline and then see how the plot develops, and it always surprises me by going in a direction I didn’t expect. This is one of the joys of writing—I can’t wait to see what happens. Often when writing mystery novels, I don’t know who the murderer is when I start. I have a number of suspects, set up clues and red herrings and then eventually I discover who the murderer is. Then during revision I go back and tune the clues and red herrings.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character although plot is a close second. Modern mystery readers consistently say they fall in love with the characters not the plot.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge is overcoming the rejections and lack of response from editors and agents. I sold my first short story on my 112th submission. Perseverance is a must in this industry. I have my emotional ups and downs but don’t wallow in self pity. After a downer, I get up and tell myself to keep going.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now I’m in editing mode. I have a number of completed manuscripts that I am tuning and considering whether to pursue traditional publishing or self-publishing.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I’m a morning person and do my best work early in the day. Before we moved from Colorado to California a year ago, I wrote every morning for several hours. We moved to Southern California because our daughter was having a baby, so now more of my morning time is enjoyably consumed with my grandson, now 11 months old.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Keep writing, no matter what. When you finish a manuscript, edit it and also start on the next one. It’s important to build a portfolio of manuscripts. Realize that you need to stick to it. Writing and publishing are not easy, so you have to suck it up and keep going.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
When in college I spent 6 months in Europe. At the Alhambra in Spain we raised an American flag on the flagpole at the top of the Alhambra. Then we skedaddled before Franco’s police caught us
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Until my most recent book came out, that I had a background in tennis. I had some measure of success—I was ranked number 30 in the country as a boy, played collegiate tennis at Stanford and at the age of 19 was the second ranked men’s tennis player in the state of Hawaii. I peaked at 19 and never made it to the next level.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What’s your biggest peeve with the publishing establishment?
Answer: I’ve listened to many panels of agents and editors at writers and mystery conferences, and they often say that they’d like to see authors be more responsive. My experience is that most writers are responsive and follow through on their commitments but that the agent and editor world could show improvement.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
All the usual places such as Amazon and barnesandnoble.com as well as my website http://www.mikebefeler.com

Just for Fun:
Favorite Book?
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I love the quirky characters. This inspired me to write my own quirky characters

Favorite TV Series?
America’s Funniest Home Videos

Favorite Movie?
First released Star Wars movie

Favorite Actor:
Tom Hanks

Favorite Actress:
Sandra Bullock

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Athanasius Kirker (I have a completed manuscript in which he becomes an amateur sleuth; he was known as the last man to know everything)
If I had just one wish, it would be a cure for cancer
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be me

Thanks, Mike! You can find out more about Mike at:

Send Mike an email at mikebef@aol.com if you want to enter a drawing for a character name in his next book!



Sunday, July 17, 2016

ROCCO's guest...Melanie Travis author .Laurien Berenson!

Meow! My guest this week is author Laurien Berenson!


Laurien Berenson is the author of thirty novels that have sold more than two million copies worldwide. Her cozy mystery series revolves around the world of dog shows, a milieu she knows well as her family has been involved in the sport of dogs for three generations. There are currently nineteen Melanie Travis canine mysteries including the newest book, LIVE AND LET GROWL.


Berenson is a four time winner of the Maxwell Award for Fiction from the Dog Writers Assoc. of America and a winner of the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is also an Agatha and Macavity nominee. Her work has  appeared in The New York Times as well as numerous magazines. She is a graduate of Vassar College, and she and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky, surrounded by horses and dogs.


  • Hello, and welcome Laurien! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! I grew up in a family that always had animals: everything from dogs and cats to guinea pigs, parakeets, and ponies. My love for animals has continued to this day and I was thrilled when I sold my first Melanie Travis mystery, A PEDIGREE TO DIE FOR, as it combines two of my favorite things, dogs and humorous cozy mystery.
  • Tell us a bit about your latest book, LIVE AND LET GROWL
LIVE AND LET GROWL is the 19th book in the Melanie Travis series. Melanie is a mother, a teacher, and a breeder and exhibitor of Standard Poodles. In this book she and her Aunt Peg (a dog show judge) travel to Kentucky for a cluster of dog shows. While there, they become involved in suspicious activities that center around the Thoroughbred horseracing industry.
  • You are, obviously, a dog person…your lead character is the owner of a Standard Poodle.  Is this your favorite breed of dog?  Do you own any poodles (something in common with the HUMAN – she owned a miniature poodle growing up)
(Lucky HUMAN!) I had Poodles, both Standards and Minis, for more than 30 years. For most of that time I was a breeder and dog show exhibitor. I adore Poodles but I also think that there are many great breeds of dogs. Right now, I am taking a break from grooming and I have 2 smooth Collies.
  • You also write about dog shows – have you ever participated in one?  Any stories about that you can share?
I have participated in hundreds of dog shows as a dedicated owner-handler (something I have in common with my characters Melanie Travis and Aunt Peg.) Dog shows make a wonderful backdrop for a mystery series as there is always something interesting going on.
  • Do you have a favorite among the books you’ve written?  If so, which one and why?
I have several favorites in the series and I always hope that the next book I write will be my new favorite. Among the books that are already available I like UNLEASHED, WATCHDOG, GONE WITH THE WOOF and LIVE AND LET GROWL.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I don’t usually try too hard to get to know my characters ahead of time as I find that they are apt to tell me the things about themselves that they want me to know. One of the joys of introducing new characters to the series is having them take me to new and unexpected places.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
In the beginning, I used to outline my books religiously. But now I’ve become a much more free form writer. I have a basic plot in my head when I start but then I just sort of wing it and see where the story takes me.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
For me, as both a reader and a writer, character has always been more important. Even the best plot can’t make me enjoy a book with characters I don’t like.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
With 19 books in the series so far, my biggest challenge is keeping things fresh and interesting. As for motivation, I have always been very disciplined. Plus, deadlines scare me. It’s much easier for me to write each day than to have to worry about the fact that I am not writing.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Thirty years ago, I went to the first RWA convention in New York City. I sat down in the front row of the first presentation and introduced myself to the person seated beside me. She, like me, was an aspiring writer. The woman next to her was an aspiring agent. The agent took both of us on as clients and within the next year we had both made our first sales. Thirty years later, I am still represented by the same agency.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am currently working on Melanie Travis Mystery #20 (MURDER AT THE PUPPY FEST) which will come out in 2017. Reader support for this series has been wonderful  and I hope to be able to continue to write about Melanie and her adventures for years to come.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
That depends on what stage of the book I’m working on (first draft, editing, etc.) but generally I start working first thing in the morning and I work about 4-5 hours a day, six days a week.
  • If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Yikes, they would have to be long ones! Truthfully I don’t think I could last a year with only three books.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Write the story that you want to tell. Even if everyone else tries to fit you into a different mold, stay strong in your own voice. Also, rejection is a fact of life for aspiring authors, even really good ones. So keep writing and be determined! Your turn will come.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Left college to go on a three month camping trip to Alaska with a boy I had known for four weeks. (We’ve now been married 40 years.)
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
That I breed and race Thoroughbred horses.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
I have no idea! I am always asked great questions.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
On my website at www.laurienberenson.com  or they can friend me on Facebook (I love talking to readers there). Or they can “like” my FB Author Page.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  dog (sorry!...no, not really. ;)
Beach or Pool?   pool
Steak or salad?  steak
Favorite Drink?  tea
Favorite Book?  too many to name
Favorite TV Series?  The Big Bang Theory
Favorite Movie?  Dangerous Liaisons
Favorite Actor: Chris Hemsworth
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska
Finish this sentence: 
If I had just one wish, it would be  for world peace
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be: Nobody! I am happy being myself

Thanks Laurien!
Giveaway time!

Laurien will give away a signed copy of Live and Let Growl to one lucky reader!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest closes midnight, July 19th!






Sunday, July 10, 2016

ROCCO's guest blogger...TERRIE FARLEY MORAN

Merow!  Welcome my guest blogger this week: Terrie Farley Moran!


Terrie Farley Moran is the best-selling author of the Read 'Em and Eat cozy mysteries series. Well Read, Then Dead, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel 2014, was followed by Caught Read-Handed in 2015 and Read to Death in July 2016.
Terrie’s short mystery fiction has been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and numerous anthologies. Her short story, “A Killing at the Beausoleil” prequel to the Read ’Em and Eat novels, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Short Story. 
She also co-writes Laura Childs’ Scrapbooking Mystery series. Together they have written Parchment and Old Lace (October 2015) and Crepe Factor (October 2016).

Hey Rocco, it is terrific to be visiting again.

Bow languidly raises her paw as a howdy to you. You remember Bow, don’t you? She is the adorable black Maine Coon who allows Miguel, chef in the Read ’Em and Eat, to fawn and fuss over her while he provides tantalizing food and a cozy spot to nap on his patio.

Hooray! Summer is here! Lazy days filled with sunshine, umbrellas anchored in the sand and waves rolling up to the shore. Read to Death, the third book in the Read ’Em and Eat cozy mystery series, is finally available for a relaxing beach read. I’m sure you all remember that the Read ’Em and Eat CafĂ© and Bookstore is located on Estero Island with seven miles of white sugar sand beach stretching along the Gulf of Mexico, so if you can’t get to the beach, kick back and pour a glass of sweet tea, while Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, owners of the Read ’Em and Eat take you on another adventure. Sea shell collecting and walks on a pier that reaches into the Gulf of Mexico are definitely included.

When the Cool Reads/Warm Climate Book Club began their end-of-season outing at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, where Thomas Edison and Henry Ford spent their winters a century ago, no one could foresee that before day’s end Bridgy would find the van driver sprawled across the front seat with a pair of scissors stuck in his throat.
Being the first witness on the scene could easily lead to Bridgy being the prime suspect unless the killer is caught quickly, and Sassy intends to make that happen. Her snooping leads her to sneak aboard fishing boats and to visit a wharfie tavern, but information is hard to come by.

In the meantime, what does a girl in crisis need? She needs her mom. Bridgy’s Aunt Ophie steps in to fill the roll temporarily but when Bridgy’s mom arrives, trouble comes with her. First of all, Bridgy’s mom, Emelia, doesn’t get along well with her older sister, Ophie, so at the exact time there should be nothing but family harmony with a focus on helping Bridgy, the sisters can barely be civil.

Not enough family drama for you? Well, Emelia brought a surprise guest with her. Get ready to meet Sassy’s mom who will read your aura and teach you to meditate all while trying to match S assy up with any and every available man. Sassy’s mom’s name? Well, that depends on her mood.


Along with the rest of the Read ’Em and Eat crowd, Sassy, Aunt Ophie and the moms do their best to keep Bridgy surrounded by love and humor until the killer is caught and their normal life of sweet tea, Drunken Raisin Scones and book club meetings can resume uninterrupted.

Merow! Thank you, Terrie!
Folks, Terrie will give away a t-shirt with the cover of Read to Death on it!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!
 Contest ends midnight, July 16!

Monday, July 4, 2016

ROCCO Interviews Gerry Schmitt on LITTLE GIRL GONE






Ma-row! My guest today is author Gerry Schmitt who is probably better known to you as Laura Childs! Today I am interviewing her on her new series!

Gerry Schmitt is the author of Little Girl Gone, an Afton Tangler Thriller to be released July 5, 2016. Writing under her pen name Laura Childs, she is
the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-six mysteries, including the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Gerry is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy travel and their two Shar-Pei dogs.


Welcome, Gerry! As Laura Childs, you write three fabulous cozy series. What made you make the leap into thrillers?

Thanks for having me, ROCCO!  It’s not such a huge leap. I’ve been writing what I call a “thrillzy” for years. This is my own brand of hybrid book that dances between a thriller and a cozy. Instead of sweet little ladies with cats, I incorporate smart, daring female entrepreneurs, double murders, international jewel thieves, arson, ponzi schemes, car crashes, smash and grab robberies, hangings, drownings, maniacal cult leaders, haunted houses, horse thieves, etc. If it’s crazy, evil, or exciting, I’ll stick it in one of my books.

Tell us what inspired this new series, the Afton Tangler Thrillers. Where did the idea for LITTLE GIRL GONE come from?

The first time I saw a “reborn” doll, a doll that had been stripped of factory paint and then reworked to look like a real infant, I thought to myself, “This is amazingly creepy.” I mean, this doll had hand-inserted hair and eyelashes, a perfect airbrushed paint job, and even a tiny motor to imitate a heartbeat. People who bought these dolls actually signed adoptions papers! From that sort of jumping off point it was easy to build a twisty, off-kilter plot.

Which do you prefer writing, thrillers or cozies?

I’m a commercial writer who’s written screenplays, TV commercials, reality shows, etc.  So I pretty much love writing everything. Writing thrillers is a little more difficult, however, because they demand a longer format and slightly more intricate plot.

Are you a fan of thrillers? Who is your favorite thriller author?

I read every thriller I can get my hands on, but my favorite thriller author is John Sandford. He’s the master of casual dialogue and intricate, gritty plots.

With four series on your plate, you are one busy lady! How do you keep your characters/plots straight and how do you schedule your writing so the series don’t overlap?

It’s fairly easy to keep my characters and plots straight because I work from a very tight outline. I always sketch out characters and key plot ideas before I start writing, and then I forge ahead with a ninety-page outline. That outline gives me a very tight parameter that’s easy to work from. As far as my series overlapping, they do! I’m usually working on two books at once. I’m a binge writer, so the minute I run out of ideas or energy for one book, I switch over to the second book. For some reason I can always find my mojo again!

Big question for your cozy fans: Do you intend to keep on writing your other three series and if so, can you tell us any future plans for them?

Actually, much of the future’s already written. CREPE FACTOR, the next Scrapbooking Mystery comes out in October and I’m already writing GLITTER BOMB, which will be the next book with a Mardi Gras theme. EGG DROP DEAD, my next Cackleberry Club Mystery, will be out in December, and I’ve already started writing EGGS OVER UNEASY. PEKOE MOST POISON, the next Tea Shop Mystery, will be out in March 2017 and that’s already written and sent off to my publisher. Now I’m working on the plot for PLUM TEA CRAZY. And I’m also working on an Afton Tangler Thriller for July 2017 publication. No title yet, but it involves a helicopter crash, international smugglers, a home shopping network, and a deranged widow out for revenge!

Describe your workspace.

It’s a mess. Press kits, ARCs, and boxes of books everywhere. My husband says I need an office and a mailroom. I agree.  (And I can’t forget my dogs, two Chinese Shar-Pei who sprawl everywhere.)


Do you have a favorite quote?

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” – Napoleon Bonaparte. (Harsh but very true when you’re in the middle of a business deal.)

What’s the best and worst part of being an author?

The best part is working for myself, which I do as an author and did for almost twenty years as CEO of my own marketing firm. The worst part (really the hardest part) is not having my former team around me anymore. (Although my designers have been brought in as freelancers.)


Gerry will be giving away a hardcover copy of Little Girl Gone
to one lucky winner.


To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight Sunday, July 10!




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Save our Cozies! Readathon July 16!

 Hello - the HUMAN here!

As many of you may or may not know there have been quite a lot of shakeups in the publishing industry - the main one being the infamous "cozy slaughter" that is going on now.  Some publshers are dropping certain cozy mystery series, and it's not just new ones. Some of the dropped series are ones that have amassed quite a following.
In an attempt to bring some focus back to the genre, some devoted cozy followers have organized a group entitled "Save Our Cozies". this group is sponsoring a readathon on July 16, the purpose of which is to draw attention to the cozy genre.

Information can be found here: Save Our Cozies Readathon
Or you can click on the magnifying glass symbol on the right of this post!  Let's all try and participate and do what we can to "Save Our Cozies"

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Author Julia Buckey ini ROCCO's interview chair!

Merow! Today my guest is author Julia Buckley!



Julia Buckley is a Chicago-area mystery writer. Her new book, A DARK AND STORMY MURDER, debuts in July. Find out more about her at JuliaBuckley.com

  • Welcome Julia! Tell us a little about your background
Okay ROCCO! I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. My mom is from Germany and my dad is the child of Hungarian immigrants. I grew up loving to read and write, and I’ve really been writing, in one form or another, since I was a kid.
I am also a high school English teacher, a job I find particularly rewarding. However, it is challenging having two jobs, and some days it can be stressful!
  • Tell us a bit about your latest release, A DARK AND STORMY MURDER. How did the idea for this new series come about?
I had already created a series for Berkley Prime Crime, but I told my agent that I wanted to write a different one. She called me and we batted ideas around over the phone. She had seen on my website that I loved all the great Romantic Suspense novelists of the mid-20th Century, including Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt. She suggested a series with a sort of Gothic spin as an homage to those names.
So I came up with the idea of a young woman who gets to live with her writing idol, a Mary Stewart type, and to become her writing partner. And, of course, they find a dead body.
  • You also write the Undercover Dish mysteries. Tell us about those.
The premise of these is that Lilah Drake, a young chef, has a secret business making food for people who want to take credit for making food themselves. This becomes complicated when one of Lilah’s dishes is poisoned.
This was also a clever idea from my agent, Kim!
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I don’t really do any of those cool writer things like interviewing my characters or keeping a diary for them. I really just embroider them as I go along.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
Both. I’ve always been a “let’s just start writing and see where this takes us” kind of writer, but my publisher does require a full outline at some point, so I do a bit of the first until I have to give them the second. J
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character. But that’s based on my own requirements as a reader. In some books, I don’t care how stupid the plot is if the character has an entertaining voice. Hopefully my plots aren’t bad, but I do think character is important for maintaining reader interest.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I’ve had a lot of deadlines in the last few years, and I’m glad to have them, but some days this was super challenging, especially as deadlines approached, or when the writing stalled. I don’t get writer’s block too often, but when I do, it can be painful.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I’ve had agents before that, for one reason or another, weren’t the right match for me. And as you and your readers may know, it’s not that easy to find a new one. However, I would advise your readers that persistence does pay off. I told myself that I would query at least 70 agents, and out of those I hoped to get about five who were interested (these odds seemed about right). So if I got a rejection, I would just say, “Hey, I haven’t sent out my seventy yet.”
So I kept sending out my query and three chapters of a recent novel, and guess what? I eventually did get interest from several agents. Kim was the one who said that the book wasn’t quite right for the genre, but that she would be willing to work with me on writing something else. And that’s what happened. It was a neat collaboration, and I’m glad she gave me a chance.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m finishing the sixth book I contracted with Berkley. I do not yet know if either of my series will be extended, so after that I’d like to polish a YA novel that I wrote, and perhaps work on a thriller.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I teach, as I mentioned, so I am that job from 7 30-3:30 each day. It can be exhausting, so sometimes I just have to come home and decompress, along with doing dishes or folding laundry or making dinner.
So my writing time has to be found in between my other life obligations. Some evenings, weekends, and school vacations. I also teach in the summer, but these are shorter hours, so I get more writing done.
  • If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Wow. It’s REALLY hard to narrow down. Today I would pick
1.     CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky (not a boring classic at all, but a compelling thriller that is a novel of murder, redemption, faith, detection, suspense).
2.     HAVE HIS CARCASE by Dorothy L Sayers. All of her Peter Wimsey books are great, but my favorites are the ones with Harriet Vane, and this one just had a tremendous plot from which a person could learn a lot about plotting.
3.     SOMETHING BY P.G WODEHOUSE because his writing is so funny, especially when read aloud, that it would keep me amused all year.

  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
The advice I gave above about being persistent. But also, hone your craft. I’ve met some people who care only about the idea of selling or being famous, but don’t care at all if their writing needs work. They want the accolades without the work. So I would also say, work on your writing. Go to classes and keep trying to make it better.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not that crazy. I’m a stay-at-home kind of gal. I also don’t drink, but once in my college days a friend challenged me to drink what he called “a German shot” of whiskey. Since he and I are both part German, I took this as a challenge to my heritage, and drank the thing down, having no real tolerance for alcohol. It was so stupid, because I really could have died. It was like a tall juice glass full of whiskey.
Instead of dying, I simply lay down and went to sleep immediately—out cold. While I was unconscious, my friends carried me in a very obvious way back to my room, and the R.A. was alerted to my drunken state. The next morning I woke up and asked my roommate if SHE was in trouble, not realizing that I was.
And it’s so funny to contemplate, because I wasn’t a drinker then or now, but I did get in some serious trouble for that German shot.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I have tons of phobias, including heights, bugs, storms, planes. I am afraid of just about everything.  J
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Interesting question!  I guess it would be nice if people said “What are your other creative outlets?” Because I do love to paint in watercolors (and I have some art teacher pals at the high school who have been helping me build my strengths). I also love to sing.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
I have a website at www.juliabuckley.com, and a blog at www.juliabuckley.blogspot.com
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day, especially morning.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both! I have a big Lab puppy named Digby, and three cats named Pibby, Panther and Mulliner. My son and I are already kind of longing for a new kitten.  They all bring something special to our lives, although Digby is trying the patience of my husband. It’s kind of like having a horse in the house, and his idea of playing is to jump on my husband and “bite” him in play. Jeff is not very fond of that.  J
Beach or Pool?   I have never been a swimmer—I actually FAILED swimming in college. But I do love to walk along the beach because it is scenic and restful.
Steak or salad?  Salad. Not a red meat person.
Favorite Drink?  Diet coke.
Favorite Book?  Crime and Punishment.
Favorite TV Series?  So hard to pick! For comedy, probably 30 Rock or Arrested Development. For Drama, Broadchurch or Happy Valley or something.
Favorite Movie?  The Bourne Identity.
Favorite Actor: Past—Cary Grant.  Present—Harrison Ford.
Favorite Actress: Past—Hayley Mills   Present—Melissa McCarthy
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada!!  I like to have at least one every summer on my patio. I favor the sweet drinks, when I imbibe.
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hard to choose! But Hawaii.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be  Mary Stewart (which is what my book is about!!!)
If I had just one wish, it would be –Good health for my family and friends.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be   Some singer—maybe someone like Sheryl Crow—so that I could sing the folksy songs I love.  Or Tina Fey, who gets to write, be smart, open doors for women in male-dominated professions.

Thank you Julia! Folks you can find her at:
Facebook: Julia Buckley mystery novels
Twitter: Juliabucks
Pinterest: Julia Buckley
Instagram: Julia Buckley

GIVEAWAY TIME:
Berkley has donated a copy of “The Big Chili” for one lucky reader to win!
To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, June 25! Good luck!

You can also watch Julia’s Facebook page or website for her own give-away info! Or sign up for her newsletter (on her website).




Monday, June 13, 2016

Rocco's guest EJ Copperman!

MEROW! Today our guest poster is the author, E. J. Copperman


EJ is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse series, as well as several other mystery series!  His first in the Mysterious Detective Series with Crooked Lane Publishing, WRITTEN OFF, debuts today!
And now, without any further adieu: E.J. Copperman!

Thank you, ROCCO!
The first thing you have to understand is that writers are crazy.
Our job, first and foremost, is to make things up. And the better we can think of stuff to make up that nobody has made up before (or at least this month), the more novel (you should pardon the expression) the work will appear to be.
So our minds never stop looking for new things to make up. That’s the job and we know it. You might be taking a walk on the beach, watching the ballgame, making dinner, making love, playing Life, living life, walking the dog, doing the downward dog or lying in bed before sleep.
When we’re doing all that, we’re also working. If something happens that might be interesting (re: useful), we’ll be sure to make note of it. If we remember it the next morning, you can assume it’ll show up in our work somewhere.
So when the casual notion of a character I’ve written showing up at my door and announcing him/herself happened into my fevered brain—and it was just an idle thought, in the middle of doing something else—I stopped whatever the hell that was I was involved with and started thinking about it. How would I react if Alison Kerby or Samuel Hoenig called on the phone asking for help on her/his current problem?
Since I write mystery novels, the notion that the character would be asking for guidance on a murder was not a huge leap. I do, after all, concoct all sorts of odd problems for them to solve (in Samuel’s case, questions for him to answer; he’d want me to make that distinction). They’d expect that surely I could provide direction, if not simply an answer out of thin air.
But it wasn’t the character’s perspective that I found interesting. Although my spouse (yet another plug for an upcoming book) and a few others I’ve met would say that I am indeed a character, I’m also an author. I know how an author thinks and if one is going to spend a few months writing a book, it might as well be something the writer understands fairly well.
So what would I do if Alison or Samuel (or now Duffy Madison and his hapless creator Rachel Goldman) knocked on the door and asked me to help solve a heinous crime? In WRITTEN OFF, that’s what happens to Rachel. She writes the Duffy Madison series in which a consultant for the Morris County (NJ) prosecutor’s office works on missing person cases. And when her phone rings just after she finishes the latest Duffy Madison mystery only to be told that her caller is a consultant for the Bergen County (NJ) prosecutor’s office who works on missing person cases—and that his name is Duffy Madison—she has a situation to deal with.
I didn’t stop to consider what my own reaction would be under such circumstance because in writing the book it didn’t matter. I’m not Rachel; she reacts to things differently than I would. It’s only since I finished the book—and if the truth be told, written the second in the series—that I’ve taken the time to consider. And I know exactly what I’d do if that ever happened to me.
I’d slam the door and lock it, then hide under my desk until the phone stopped ringing.
I’m not that crazy.

E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series and the co-author with Jeff Cohen of the Asperger’s Mystery series. On June 14 E.J. unveils the Mysterious Detective Mystery series in which a crime fiction author is confronted by the flesh-and-blood incarnation of her fictional sleuth.
GIVEAWAY:  Win a copy of WRITTEN OFF!
 leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, June 18.