Sunday, September 25, 2016

ROCCO's guest this week: Linda Wiken!

Meow, my guest this week is author Linda Wiken!



Linda Wiken is usually found by her alias, Erika Chase, and writing the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries. But now, with the release of Toasting Up Trouble, the first in the Dinner Club Mysteries, she’s back to being her real self. A former mystery bookstore owner, she has been short-listed for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and an Arthur Ellis Award, Best Short Story, from Crime Writers of Canada.  She is a member of those dangerous dames, The Ladies' Killing Circle and can be found contributing to the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen, and Killer Characters blogs.  She admits to a passion for choral singing, chocolate and Siamese cats!  http://www.lindawiken.com

  • Welcome Linda! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! I’ve had a variety of interesting and fun jobs in my working life - starting in journalism, then advertising, with a stint in community education, and finally as a mystery book seller before turning to writing full time.
  • Tell us a bit about your new Dinner club series and book one, TOASTING UP TROUBLE. Where did the idea for this series come from?
I’m a closet foodie. I admit it! So, when my agent asked if I had any ideas for a second series, I dug deep, looked at my several shelves of cookbooks, and eventually the dinner club was born.
  • AT one time you owned a mystery bookstore.  Is that where your love of mysteries emanates from?
Actually, I owned the store because I love mysteries. My affair with mystery books started at an early age. Think Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Ginny Gordon to name a few…right through to Agatha Christie.
  • Your alter ego writes the Ashton Corners mysteries. Tell us a bit about that.
Although that series has ended with book #5, LAW AND AUTHOR, I enjoyed writing it particularly because it was about a mystery book club. And you can just imagine how much trouble they could get into, what with all the ‘experience’ they had solving crimes between the covers every month! The seven members of the club grew into great friends over the course of the series and they also became my close friends. A popular feature in the series is the book lists for each member at the back of the five books. It suggests possible new authors for the readers of the series.
  • You’ve held down many jobs, including one as a volunteer on the Ottawa Police Force.  What was the most exciting part of that job?
At one point I was writing a weekly column on crime stats for the local newspaper. It was pretty interesting reading through the officers’ reports each week. But I have to admit, the night I was involved in doing overnight surveillance at a car dealership that had reported several previous break-ins, really got the adrenalin pumping.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I spend a lot of time thinking about my characters, in particular the main one because she sets the tone for the series. I go through her life with her, getting to know her family and her memorable experiences growing up. As I’m writing her, she’s letting me in on more of her thoughts and reactions to the world around her.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I used to be a pantser until my editor at Berkley Prime Crime wanted a synopsis. From there, it seemed natural to do an outline and I’ve found that’s the best way for me to write an entire book. It’s not written in stone, and the ending is often quite different from the outline, however, it’s a good guide to kick start me when I’m feeling puzzled.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Hard question to answer. If the plot doesn’t hold together or lacks suspense or interest, the readers won’t feel it’s been worth their while reading. However, if the character isn’t the right combination of traits to engage the reader, it doesn’t matter how outstanding the plot is because the reader may just abandon the book.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Promotion is the biggest challenge. There really aren’t enough hours in the day to do it thoroughly and even if there were, I’m clueless when it comes to some of the newer means of social media. Building an audience is the lifeline for authors. No pressure there! What inspires me is the kick I get out of the actual writing process and that keeps me going, even when I feel I’m lacking in the promotion end.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Be nice to your best friends! That’s my advice. Enough said.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m writing the third Dinner Club Mystery, MARINATING IN MURDER, which will be out in 2018. The second, ROUX THE DAY, is in the hopper and will be published March, 2017. I’m also preparing to pitch another cozy series. Shhh. Plus, I have lots of ideas hopping around in my brain. I’m going to try to do something with each one of them…some day.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I write weekdays, afternoons for at least 1000 words or as long as it takes, if it’s going gangbusters. I try to take the weekends off but that doesn’t always happen. Mornings are devoted to the business of writing – emails, websites, social media – and also a time when I fit in fitness classes and appointments, those real life annoyances that do appear.
  • If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
Poemcrazy – Susan Wooldridge
The School of Essential Ingredients - Erica Bauermeister
The first two would be for inspiration; the third to keep me happy.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Never give up! Don’t give up in re-writing and polishing that manuscript. Don’t give up in trying to find an agent and/or publisher.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Bought a mystery bookstore!
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I wanted to be a police officer.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What is the best part about being an author? 
Hearing positive reactions from readers. A writer does write first of all for herself for the pleasure of writing. But if there are no readers, then it remains a very solitary task. And, when a writer hears that a reader enjoys the book, and in particular will tell others about it, then the writing circle is complete!
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
My books are available in mass market format and as e-books at independent bookstores and the big box ones in the U.S. and Canada. Visit me at Facebook:  Linda Wiken, author;  and Erika Chase, author; at Twitter  @LWiken and @erika_chase; and at: www.lindawiken.com   and www.erikachase.com

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?    Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)   Cat – easy because I have two Siamese! Never cross a Siamese!! (Rocco: Or a tubby tuxedo!)
Beach or Pool?    Beach – love the untamed ocean
Steak or salad?    Salad
Favorite Drink?    Espresso
Favorite Book?  Depends on my mood.
Favorite TV Series?    Vera
Favorite Movie?      Chocolat
Favorite Actor:    Colin Firth
Favorite Actress:   Helen Mirren   
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?      Dirty Martini
Hawaii or Alaska?       Alaska
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be    Sally Armstrong. I so admire her as a journalist, an activist and a mentor
If I had just one wish, it would be_   to be able to split myself in two and live in two different places at once.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be    no one. Really! I like being me and although there are a lot of things I’d do differently and choices I should have made, I’m happy right now.
Thanks Linda!
Find out more about her at:
at Facebook:  Linda Wiken, author,  and Erika Chase, author;
at Twitter  @LWiken,  and @erika_chase;
I also blog regularly at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen.com and Killer Characters.com


          Linda will give away a signed copy of  TOASTING UP TROUBLE. Leave a comment about  your favorite food in the comments section!  Winner will be selected by random.org.  Contest closes midnight, October 1!





Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rocco's guest is author Sarah Wisseman

Meow! Today my guest is author Sarah Wisseman



Sarah Wisseman is a retired archaeologist. Her experiences working on excavations and in museums inspired two contemporary series, the Lisa Donahue Archaeological Mysteries and the Flora Garibaldi Art History Mysteries. Her settings are places where she has lived or traveled (Israel, Italy, Egypt, Massachusetts, and Illinois) and her favorite museum used to be housed in a creepy old attic at the University of Illinois

Welcome Sarah! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! I grew up in a house filled with mystery books with parents who loved to read. I often forgot to do my chores because I had my head in a book, and the love of reading lasted long after the flashlight-under-the-covers stage. History came alive for me when I went on an archaeological excavation in Israel after my freshman year in college. That experience changed my life. I returned to Israel for my junior year, and then earned a doctorate in archaeology. My work career at the University of Illinois was spent in museums and laboratories, studying ancient pottery, metalwork, and mummies. Now I write mysteries about archaeology, art forgery, and the illegal antiquities market.
Tell us a bit about your two series. Are your characters’ careers based on your real life experience?
Archaeologist and museum curator Lisa Donahue is the heroine of the first four mysteries. She’s a lot like me, but a bit younger, and has unusual complications in her life—such as two marriages, step children, and a tendency to run into dead bodies at her museum job. Flora Garibaldi, my current heroine, is only in her twenties. Flora is a half-Italian professional paintings conservator (I have no Italian heritage, and I volunteered in a conservation lab for two years).
How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I have a character file on my computer and add information to it about each person before and during the writing process. I write down family background, personality quirks, dark secrets, and motives for each person.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I outline, again in a separate computer file, and then allow myself to change my mind as things come to while I’m writing. I modify the outline as I grow the chapters. Sometimes my characters talk to me on my long walks, or plot twists come out of nowhere when I’m doing something else. I’ve learning to respect the “percolating” process, realizing a part of my mind is still working even when I’m not writing. Once I even changed who the villain was 2/3 of the way through the novel because it resulted in a better story.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character, by a short lead. I have to like the characters, even the villain, enough to keep reading any book. The plot has to be compelling enough to engage the mind, but characters must come across as real people with strengths and flaws and fascinating pasts that help explain the present.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I still teach part-time, and I have other interests besides writing, especially painting. Sometimes the two interests feed each other; when I get stuck in writing, painting releases another kind of creativity. My biggest challenge is making my story long enough for a traditional mystery novel—I am crippled by years of writing dense (short) academic articles.
Do you have a “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I’ve never had an agent (not for lack of trying!)
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am drafting my third Flora Garibaldi novel, The Botticelli Caper, a mystery centered around art forgery and the Uffizi Gallery’s long renovation project. I suspect I will write more short stories and novellas in the future.
What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
About ten hours per week. I’m always working on something, even if it’s just a blog
If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
I’d never let myself be caught without a real library! A Complete Works of Shakespeare, a fat world mythology, and a comprehensive poetry anthology.
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Keep writing, even if it’s just a blog or a journal, because that keeps your writing and thinking muscles exercised. Try different forms: non-fiction, fiction, poetry…
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Camping illegally on Masada (Israel) when I was 18.
What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I used to be a belly dancer.
What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Why do I write? Answer: to create the kind of books I like to read.
 Where can we learn more about you and your books?
blogs: authorexpressions.blogspot.com,sarahwisseman.blogspot.com

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat.  (R: Good answer!)
Beach or Pool?   Beach.
Steak or salad?  Salad.
Favorite Drink?  Orange juice.
Favorite Book?  Mary Stewart’s The Moonspinners.
Favorite TV Series?  “I Claudius”
Favorite Movie?  Casablanca
Favorite Actor: Leonard Dicaprio
Favorite Actress: Katherine Hepburn
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Queen Elizabeth I
If I had just one wish, it would be to be able to fly without wings or any kind of machine

Thanks for a great interview Sarah!
Sarah will give away an e-copy of CATACOMB to one lucky commenter!  To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section below!  Ends midnight, Sept 24




Sunday, September 11, 2016

We welcome Peg Cochran back to the Blog!


Peg grew up in a New Jersey suburb about 25 miles outside of New York City.  After her first husband died, she remarried and her new husband took a job in Grand Rapids, Michigan where they now live (on exile from NJ as she likes to joke).
She has three cozy mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime—the Gourmet De-Lite series, the Cranberry Cove Series and the Sweet Nothings Vintage Lingerie series, written as Meg London.  The Farmer’s Daughter series will debut in 2016.
Peg’s Lucille Series is published by Beyond the Page Publishing.  Confession Is Murder, Unholy Matrimony and Hit and Nun are available for all e-book readers.  She is currently working on the fourth book in the series.
You can read more about Peg and her books at www.pegcochran.com or catch up with her on Facebook—facebook.com/pegcochran. 

Welcome back to the blog, Peg!

Thanks Rocco (and Toni!)  I’m thrilled to be here again. 

R:  Last time you told us about your Cranberry Cove series.  Now you’ve also got a new series debuting this month.  Can you tell us about that?


The Farmer’s Daughter takes place on Love Blossom Farm in the fictional town of Lovett, Michigan.  Shelby McDonald runs the small farm, writes a popular cooking and lifestyle blog and is raising her two children after the death of her husband.  She’s leased the pasture next to the farm to Jake Taylor who looks more like a cowboy than a farmer and has his sights set on Shelby.  Jake has competition in Matt Hudson who owns and runs the general store in town.  Shelby insists she’s not interested in dating but the two men are determined to change her mind!  Of course murder intrudes and shakes things up!

R:  Do you enjoy writing more than one series at a time?

I do—it’s fun to enter different worlds with each series.  The trick is in remembering who is in which book!

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

Actually some of the most fun are the antics Lucille gets up to in my Lucille Mystery Series (available for all ebook platforms)—stealing a hearse, an ambulance, a fire truck, a UPS truck….  In the Farmer’s Daughter, I would say the exchanges between my main character Shelby and Bert, an old family friend who has a quick wit and quicker tongue!

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

I don’t really have any “musts.”  I’ve trained myself to work wherever and whenever.  I write on my lunch hour at work and when I first started writing, I used to write longhand in a steno book while commuting to work on a bus.  That makes my laptop seem like a luxury!

R:  If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?

I’d have to say the first book in my Cranberry Cove series—Berried Secrets—because I think the visual of the body floating up in the flooded cranberry bog would be stunning!  Lead roles—tough question!

Monica Albertson:  Jennifer Garner
Jeff Albertson:  Liam Hemsworth
Gina Albertson:  Heather Locklear
Victim – Sam Culbert:  John Lithgow

R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Right now I am working on book #5 (as yet untitled) in my Lucille Mystery Series as well as a proposal for my agent for a potential new series.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m somewhere in between.  I lay out plot points (end of Act One, Midpoint, etc.) but I don’t do an extensive scene by scene outline.  And no matter how much I plan, something always surprises me and that’s the exciting part.
R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Well I wanted to be a ballerina when I was younger, but I think that ship has sailed!  Actually if I weren’t a writer with a day job, I’d be at the beach a lot more in the summer, doing more baking, spending more time with my family and reading more!

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

A few hours of escape and enjoyment!


Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  .Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both!
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  steak
Favorite Drink?  Water
Favorite Book?  A Christmas Carol
Favorite TV Series?  Downton Abbey
Favorite Movie?  Bridget Jones
Favorite Actor:  George Clooney
Favorite Actress:  Meryl Streep
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Dirty martini
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be President John F. Kennedy-having grown up in the era of the Kennedy mystique, I think it would be interesting to meet him.
If I had just one wish, it would be a cure for :type 1 diabetes
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be:I’m pretty happy being me but for a few days it would be fun to be J.K. Rowling and see my name on the best seller list!

Peg will give away a copy of No Farm, No Foul to one lucky commenter!


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 Friday, Sept. 16!


Monday, September 5, 2016

Welcome Mary Kennedy





Meow! Today my guest is author Mary Kennedy!

Mary Kennedy is a practicing psychologist and is the author of the Talk Radio Mysteries and the Dream Club Mysteries. She's written nearly 50 novels and has sold over four million books worldwide.   Mary lives with her husband and six neurotic cats in the northeast.  She has tried unsuccessfully to psychoanalyze both husband and cats, but she remains optimistic.You can visit her at www.marykennedy.net. She blogs every Monday with the Cozy Chicks.  www.cozychicksblog.com 


R: Welcome Mary!  Tell us a bit about your latest release!

MK:  A Premonition of Murder is book 3 in the Dream Club Mysteries. An elderly Southern heiress’s nightmare becomes a real case of murder in the latest Dream Club Mystery from the national bestselling author of Dream a Little Scream.

When Abigail Marchand, Savannah’s famously reclusive heiress, invites the Dream Club ladies to lunch at her Beaux Reves mansion, Taylor and Ali hope for an invitation to join the distinguished Magnolia Society. But Abigail has a more pressing concern: a recent dream that seems to foretell her death. 

Taylor reassures Abigail that there are many ways to interpret a dream, but at the next meeting of the Dream Club, their discussion is cut short by a call from Detective Sam Stiles. She's at Abigail's mansion, where the elderly woman appears to have been pushed to her death down a flight of stairs. Now Taylor, Ali, and the Dream Club need to catch a killer before someone else is laid to rest. 

R:  You mention the “Dream club” What is that, exactly?

MK: When Taylor Blake moves to Savannah to help her sister, Ali, run her vintage candy store (Oldies But Goodies), she's introduced into the Dream Club. Al, who has always been fascinated by dreams, started the dream club so that her friends could meet weekly to discuss and analyze their dreams. (and eat some fabulous Southern desserts. The candy store now includes a cafe and Ali loves to try out new recipes on the group.).  It started out as a fun way for some Southern ladies to meet and chat, but when murders occur in Savannah, it suddenly takes on a new meaning. The Dream Club members start finding clues in their dreams that might help solve the case. Is it just coincidence, or are there really signs ad symbols in dreams that could help the police solve a real life crime?  I leave it to the reader to decide...
All three books in the series include a Dream Symbol guide at the end. 

R: What do you think sets this series apart from other cozies?

MK: I'm a psychologist in private practice in the northeast and my clients love to talk about their dreams. Freud believed that all dreams are significant, and offer a "window into the unconscious." Many dreams are symbolic and reveal what we desire and what we fear. Dream clubs started here in the northeast and are spreading to other parts of the country. Whether you're a "believer" or not, it's a fun way to socialize with friends and share some insights. 


R:  You’ve written other series. Can you tell us about those?

MK: I have another cozy mystery series, The Talk Radio Mysteries, set in a fictional town in Florida. My agent sold it on the basis of five words: Frasier Meets Murder She Wrote.  It's about a psychologist, Dr. Maggie Walsh, who closes up her Manhattan practice ("sick of the cold, sick of the traffic,sick of listening to people's problems") and moves to sunny Florida to be a radio psychologist at WYME-RADIO.  And she solves a murder in every book! It's a fun series, full of eccentric characters at WYME, her star-struck mother, Lola and a hunky detective named Rafe. DEAD AIR is the first in the series. 
I also have a teen series, the Hollywood Diaries, that are based in the world of film. All three are stand-alone books. Golden Girl is set in south Florida (known as Hollywood East, because of all the films that are set there). Movie Star takes place on a film set in the northeast and the sequel Confessions takes place in Hollywood. 

R:  Are there any cats in these books, heh heh

MK:  Of course.  The Dream Club series features two cats! I love cats. Actually I love all animals, but because of allergies, we just have cats. Six of them! Writing can be a solitary profession, but you're never alone when you have a cat. 

R: How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
MK: Oh, definitely an outline. At PRH, we're required to turn in a detailed outline of our mysteries with all the suspects, the main characters, the twists and turns. I don't mind doing it, it's nice to have a road map to follow.

R: Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
MK:Definitely plot for the mysteries, and character for the Hollywood Nights series and the Crazy Love series.

R:What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
MK:Probably time management is my biggest hurdle. I'm a practicing psychologist and sometimes it's a juggling act seeing clients and making writing deadlines.

R: Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
MK: Well, I have a great "how my agent sold my series" story. I wrote a proposal for a mystery series about a New York psychologist who moves to Florida to become a radio talk show host. And she solves a murder in every book. My agent got me a three book deal with Penguin with the phrase, "Frasier Meets Murder She Wrote."

R: What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
MK: The Crazy Love Diaries, a trilogy of stand-alone novels for young teens, is going up even as we speak! They're fun, exciting and squeaky clean. 

 Thank you, Mary!
Folks you can find Mary at: www.marykennedy.net. She blogs every Monday with the Cozy Chicks.  www.cozychicksblog.com

Mary will give away a copy of DREAM A LITTLE SCREAM and LOVE SIGNS to one lucky commenter!


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 Saturday, Sept. 10!


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Our Labor Day guest...Anna Lee Huber

We’re welcoming in Labor Day with author Anna Lee Huber!


Anna Lee Huber is Daphne awards-winning author of the national bestselling Lady Darby Mysteries and forthcoming Verity Kent Mysteries. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in music and minored in psychology. She currently resides in Indiana with her family and is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her online at www.annaleehuber.com.

Welcome, Anna! Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio, and then my family moved to the Southeast when I was in High School. I attended college in Nashville, TN and graduated with a degree in Music and Psychology. While working as an administrative assistant after college, I rediscovered my love of writing in my spare time, and have pursued a career as an author ever since, publishing my first novel in 2012. I currently live in Indiana with my family and write two historical mystery series, the Lady Darby Mysteries for Berkley and the forthcoming Verity Kent Mysteries for Kensington, as well as Gothic suspense novels in the vein of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.

Tell us a bit about your Lady Darby mystery series. What was the inspiration?
My Lady Darby Mystery series is set in 1830s Scotland and features a widowed portrait artist with a macabre past and a talent for detection. The inspiration for the series mostly came from my desire to write a historical mystery series with a female protagonist who truly had important skills to contribute to an investigation. Contrary to many lady sleuths, she is not a darling of the ton. She’s awkward and uncomfortable, so she is not going to be a master of interrogation. However, she does have knowledge of anatomy—something that was truly scandalous for any woman, let alone a lady to know, as most men didn’t even understand the workings of the body. And she also has a keen eye and a marked ability to read expressions and body language from her natural ability and training as a portrait artist.

How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Before each book, I create a detailed psychological profile for all major and secondary characters, focusing strongly on goal, motivation, conflict, and each character’s story arc.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I create about a 5-6 page outline, hitting all the major plot elements of the mystery and weaving in other story arcs—romance, individual character growth, etc. I find that I have to know where I’m going, especially in regards to the mystery, but I don’t like to get too detailed. That takes out some of the joy and spontaneity of writing. Thus far my novels have never turned out exactly how I plotted them, and I think they’re all the better because of it.

Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character. I find that you can have the most amazing plot idea ever, but if the characters don’t draw you in and drive that plot, then it can fall completely flat.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I would say my biggest challenge thus far has been the birth of my first child. I had to figure out how to carve out the time to get my writing done while caring for a baby, and retrain myself to focus.

Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
 I’m not sure my story is very interesting. I got my agent one of the usual ways, through a query letter. Though it was somewhat remarkable in that the manuscript I was querying was my fifth finished novel, and after so many rejections from the previous four manuscripts, I suddenly had three offers of representation. It was an amazing feeling after such a struggle.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am currently writing the first book in my new Verity Kent Mystery series for Kensington. It is set in England 1919, following the Great War (World War I), and introduces readers to Verity, who is a widow of the Great War and a former Secret Service agent. Then I will be working on another Lady Darby novella, which features Bonnie Brock prominently, and the next Lady Darby novel.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
 I have a babysitter who comes over to watch my daughter three mornings each week until naptime, and my husband watches her another morning, so I usually get in about 5-6 hours of writing time on those days. The other three days I try to write during naptimes and sometimes at night after she goes to sleep. When I’m close to a deadline, of course, I work even more, trying to squeeze in time whenever I can.

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?
 That’s tough, as I usually have at least half a dozen research texts I consult for each book. But I’m going to assume you mean fiction titles. Definitely something by Mary Stewart (maybe This Rough Magic or Madam, Will You Talk?), The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley, and Persuasion by Jane Austen.

What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
 Give yourself permission to write crap. At least for that first draft. Take the pressure off yourself to get it perfect, and just get the words out. You can always fix them during edits. After all, that’s what they’re for. No one will ever see that first draft of hot mess unless you show it to them, so stop sweating it and just write.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
 Hmmm. Maybe climbing in a car and learning on the fly to drive on the “wrong” side of the road in the UK after going 36 hours without sleep. Not my brightest move.

What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
My schooling trained me to be an opera singer, but I decided to become a writer instead.

What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow? J No, but seriously. I can’t think of anything.

Where can we learn more about you and your books? www.annaleehuber.com

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat. Particularly my brown tabby Pita.
Beach or Pool? Rocky Beach 
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Peach Bellini
Favorite Book?  Everything by Mary Stewart
Favorite TV Series?  The Big Bang Theory
Favorite Movie? Inception
Favorite Actor:
Favorite Actress:
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Neither
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Jesus.
If I had just one wish, it would be for all the world to know and experience true, unselfish love.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be No one. I love my life.

Thanks Anna!  You can find out more about her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAnnaLeeHuber
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaLeeHuber

Anna will give away an autographed copy of AS DEATH DRAWS NEAR, Lady Darby Book 5, to one lucky commenter!

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)
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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, Sept. 4!





Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Midnight Louie is BACK

Midnight Louie fans rejoice – it’s time for the “Alphabet Endgame’.



It’s the moment Midnight Louie fans have waited long and hard for!  The final volume in this long running saga debuts August 23. In Cat in an Alphabet Endgame, many questions will be answered and situations resolved, among them the ones Louis fans are most anxious over:  Who will Temple choose?

For those of you not in the know, Midnight Louie is Midnight Louie, PI, twenty (give or take a few pounds) of street smart jet black cat.  He is also the part-time narrator of thirty novels and the
full-time companion and protector of his “girl”, petite PR powerhouse and amateur detective, Miss Temple Barr.

Louie fans needn’t fret, though…he hasn’t’ even begun to use up any of his nine lives,at least not where his literary career is concerned.  The 26-letter title alphabet sequence is bracketed by a foundation novel, Cat in an Alphabet Soup, followed by Cat in an Aqua Storm etc.… to the closing volume, Cat in an Alphabet Endgame. Naturally, a mere 26 letters is not enough to contain Midnight Louie and his life of crime-solving. Sue Grafton, eat your heart out. Midnight Louie is not hanging up his fedora!

Louie is no silent and “quietly domestic” feline. He is Sam Spade with hairballs: an intermittent narrator who’s a hard-boiled, hairy-chested, fully shived, streetwise sleuth with all Las Vegas as his turf. Midnight Louise, his daughter, is a kick-tail chip off the old block. Who better to prowl the mean streets in stealth than the two black cats who make up Midnight Investigations, Inc., and draw on a feral Vegas Cat Pack for backup?

Louie and his beloved Temple have encountered a slew of murderers over the years, and Louie has even busted into the local morgue a time or two.  The only flies in his Sin City ointment are Temple’s ex and current boyfriends. Max Kinsella is a magician and undercover agent. When “The Mystifying Max” eased out of the picture so Temple’s life was not endangered, she became intrigued by a hard-to-get, handsome new neighbor, radio talk  host and ex-priest Matt Devine. 


In Cat in an Alphabet Endgame. Our cast of four human crime solvers must not only stop a massive Las Vegas conspiracy involving international terrorism and the FBI, but feline sleuth Midnight Louie’s roommate, PR powerhouse Temple Barr, is contemplating marriage. Will syndicated radio counselor and ex-priest Matt Devine's inside track lose out to the return of that wily dark horse, magician Max Kinsella? The suspense is killing somebody.

Meanwhile, a Strip-wide resurgence the long-vanquished Las Vegas mob could have Temple in search of an undertaker rather than a Justice of the Peace. Luckily, Midnight Louie and the Las Vegas Cat Pack are planning their finest moments to bring down the baddies. But no one can help Temple find which direction her wayward heart must go.


And just who does ML collaborate with, you ask?  He presents for your consideration Carole Nelson Douglas’s biography:

From being a rare Midwestern finalist in a Vogue college writing contest won by Joan Didion and Jackie Kennedy, to being “first woman” in three positions and garnering 18 daily newspaper reporting awards, to writing sixty novels published by Ballantine, Bantam, S&S, Del Rey and Tor/Forge, Douglas has crossed genres under her own name to build a wide audience. She’s the first author to make a woman from the Holmes Canon a series protagonist. Her Irene Adler bowed to raves in Good Night, Mr. Holmes, a New York TimesNotable Book of the Year. She’s had bestselling mystery and high and urban fantasy titles on major lists, including USA Today, and nominations from the Agatha to the Nebula. Her fiction writing awards include RT Booklovers lifetime achievement awards in mystery-suspense, versatility, and as a pioneer of publishing.


But even Louie will let Carole have the last word about why she believes cats make the best detectives.

“When cats bond with people, the connection is more individually wired than with pack-based dogs. Dogs are our children. They must obey. Cats are our equals. We must earn a cat’s trust and love. And then the bond is sealed with Superglue”

ROCCO and feline Nick Charles couldn’t agree more!

And as for the burning question, at least in this writers mind, of who does Temple finally pick? You’ll have to read the book to find out? Like the gentleman he is, Midnight Louie will never tell. One thing is certain:  we haven't seen the last of Midnight Louie, not by a long shot!

Cat in an Alphabet Endgame is available now! Get your copy today!