Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Author Kaye George in the hotseat!

Don't forget our shelf giveaway!

Kaye George, Agatha-nominated mystery writer, writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat debuting in September (Berkley Prime Crime). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.

R:  Hello Kaye!  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
 I’ve always been a story teller. Before I could write words, I described my drawings with elaborate stories. My mother inspired me to write fiction, though. She told me she had always wanted to, and would get ideas, but never developed them or wrote them down. I write because she wanted to, and because I was born making up stories.
R: Tell us about your FAT CAT series! The first one is to be released in September – can you share details with us?
 The star of the series is Quincy, a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. Here’s the back cover copy for FAT CAT AT LARGE:
The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.
R: Is “Quincy” modeled after any cat in particular?
 As soon as I started writing about Quincy, I began channeling Agamemnon, the last rescued feral that we had. He was, I think, the smartest cat in the world. If he had possessed thumbs, he could have conquered the world, opened doorknobs, and maybe written fiction. He loved to play Elf Bowling on the computer. If I asked him if he wanted to play, he jumped into my lap. I would help him press the space bar and he would patiently wait until Santa Claus popped up at the end of the game. Then he would bat at him.
R: As Kaye George, you write other mysteries. Can you tell us about those?
 Of course! I am juggling three other series. I started the Imogene Duckworthy humorous series when I lived in Texas. Saltlick is modeled after the town we lived in outside Wichita Falls (called Wymee Falls in the books). Immy wants to be a private eye detective, but she goes about it all wrong. Somehow, her bungled actions lead to discoveries of crimes that are so far not even known to the police. She also manages to uncover murderers. Immy was called, by one reviewer, a combination of Lucille Ball and Inspector Clouseau.
 Two others have only one entry so far, but more are planned and partially plotted and written.
The Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries feature a young woman who is a composer, working on her master’s thesis in classical music, in the first book, EINE KLEINE MURDER, with a goal of conducting. She retreats to her grandmother’s idyllic rural Illinois lake cabin to write, but discovers her beloved Gram’s body instead.
The last series is the People of the Wind. These are a small band of Neanderthals and the setting is 40,000 years ago. Enga Dancing Flower and her sister, Ung Strong Arm, were adopted into a tribe as infants. When the leader is slain, in DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, suspicion falls on Enga and the tribe begins to argue. A new Ice Age is approaching and game is getting scarce. They must have a new leader and Enga must find the killer for her, and her tribe, to survive.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I’ll leave out the hundreds of rejections to my queries over a ten year period. That’s what led to eventually submitting the above novels to small presses. This also led to publication, which was terrific. But I still kept trying to get an agent.
 I narrowed my focus and set my sights on an agency with a great success rate, one that placed a lot of cozies that were prominently displayed in bookstores. I learned that the procedure was to submit a proposal to the agency. This consists of three polished chapters and a detailed synopsis, complete with ending, plus ideas for two more books in the series. In other words, the novel is plotted out and begun before you submit. I sent several of these to BookEnds Literary and all were rejected. I got to know some writers connected with them and learned of upcoming projects. (Some series are initiated by and accepted from the writer, some are the ideas of the publisher.) I submitted for them, too. I even became a BookEnds candidate for a Berkley Prime Crime project, but the editors at BPC picked someone else.
Finally, another project came along that I thought I could do, but I was so weary of plotting and beginning projects that were dead on the floor of my computer. CHOKE had been nominated for an Agatha award by then and was well-received, so a friend suggested I submit that instead of a proposal. I thought, well, the worst I can get is another rejection. On the strength of my writing in that novel, I acquired Kimberly Lionetti for an agent.
As for first call, the most vivid is for the first short story I sold. I believe I got $7 for it. But the fact that someone liked my writing well enough to publish it sent me screaming all over the house. I read the email and literally jumped up and screamed. For days afterward, it would occur to me that I was finally going to be a published author and I would start screaming again. Luckily, no neighbors called the police.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
 I just need time and quiet. I would like a LOT more time in each day. There are files full of too many ideas for me to write in this lifetime, so there’s no problem there.
 I use a spreadsheet, for novels, that I’ve developed over the course of the several I’ve written. I rely on it completely. I have a tab for characters and columns for age, description, role, vehicle, etc. I have a timeline tab to keep track of what events fall on which day. That sheet has columns for the main characters so I can keep track of where they are and their movements, and notice that, if they haven’t appeared for too many chapters, I need to add them in.
Short stories tend to pop up fully formed, or nearly. A few times I felt I was taking dictation from the character. Those were mostly unchanged from the first draft and are some of my favorites.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
 Since I got so interested in Neanderthals, and since I made up so many things about them, I’d like to go back and check my theories. Many conflicting theories exist about these people, which means that I’m able to pick which ones suit my story. But it would be fun to see exactly what they were like.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I was extremely shy as a child. In high school I had a few close friends, but was afraid to speak to anyone else for fear they wouldn’t speak back. That was exacerbated by the fact that I was the smartest one in many of my classes (which made me disliked, I always felt) and I played in the orchestra (not the cool band).
As a freshman in college, I was lonely and miserable. After considering and rejecting suicide (because it would disappoint my Aunt Kathryn too much), I observed others, especially outgoing people, and studied them. Finally, it became apparent that I could say hello to people and they would actually say hello back. I started engaging people in conversation. Today I think most people would consider me outgoing and I still like to talk to strangers and learn about them.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
 Break into the high school. The Tri-City Youth Symphony was on Saturday mornings. It was Saturday morning and I had left my violin at school. It was my week to drive the carpool and one of us decided “we” could get my violin. We found a window opened a crack and they boosted me up to get into the instrument room. I snatched my violin, piled up some tympani or tuba cases (or something big) and climbed back out.
Monday, at school, they told us there had been a break in and money was taken from the office! We never told what we did. Maybe the thief got in the window we left open, who knows?
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I want to entertain people. To take them away from the real world. There is a lot of misery and unhappiness and the news isn’t often very uplifting. I love to make people laugh. That’s good medicine.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m finishing up the second Fat Cat book, FAT CAT SPREADS OUT. A county fair is involved, and a lot of butter. There will be a third in this series. I may be able to finish up a nearly-done sequel in the Carraway series before I start number three.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I plot in the beginning. I have to have a framework to hang my words on. Inevitably, the characters and the plot take off and veer from my original plan, but the main parts are there for stability.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
 Read. A lot. Find other writers. Get critiques from people who aren’t fond of you. Or at least who aren’t related to you. For me, the other writers I rely on are the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. This was important to me when we moved from Dallas to the boonies and I left my book group and my critique group.
The most important trait of a published writer, besides some talent and hard work (and all that reading), is persistence. It is not at all easy to get published, if you want someone else to publish you.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  I’m a night person.  I can’t do anything coherent before noon.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I can’t answer this. I love them both! I mourn every single one we’ve ever had. They don’t live long enough.
Beach or Pool?   If you had said Mountain, I would choose that. I’m not much of a swimmer and don’t get along with a lot of sun.
Steak or salad?  Can I have both? With a baked potato and sour cream? Sounds like my ideal meal.
Favorite Drink?  I’m torn between Dr. Pepper and Cutty Sark.
Favorite Book?  Can’t do it. Waaay too many.
Favorite TV Series?  I like the old funny sitcoms. Nowadays I hate to miss Jeopardy!
Favorite Movie?  I don’t think I can answer this either. Whichever one I saw last that made me laugh and cry.
Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp.
Favorite Actress: Maybe Sandra Bullock.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Scotch and water, please.
Hawaii or Alaska? I yearn to take the Alaska cruise.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be __one (or both) of my grandfathers, whom I never knew.
If I had just one wish, it would be__the usual, world peace. Since that’s probably not possible, a modest lotto winning, say 4 or 5 million.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be __There have been people in the past that I wanted to trade places with, but I always eventually realized that person had as many problems as me. I like being me.
Thanks Kaye!
Folks you can find Kaye at:
My two webpages:
My three blogs:
Kaye George
Janet Cantrell
My Facebook page

My Facebook author page
My Amazon page

Send an email to and I’ll add you to my newsletter!
One copy of Fat Cat at Large will go to a lucky commenter!
Leave a comment on the comment section of this blog along with your email address!  For extra entries, you can:
Friend the Human, Toni LoTempio
Friend ROCCO!
Friend Kaye!
Follow ROCCO on twitter @RoccoBlogger
Tweet or FB about this contest!
Winner will be chosen by Contest closes midnight, September 1.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Of Cats and Cozies…..
Most of the mysteries on my bookshelf, I confess, are cozy mysteries.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, cozies are a subgenre of crime fiction where the crime and the detection takes place in a small town.  Remember the old Murder She Wrote series? That’s a good example of a cozy.  The detectives in such stories are nearly always amateurs (cue JB Fletcher) sometimes retired lawmen or women. The majority of the detectives are of the female persuasion, and often hold jobs that bring them into contact with the other residents of their town.  More often than not they’ll have a contact on the local police force who’ll help them out with a clue or two.
The killers aren’t usually hard boiled serial killer types, and once unmasked, are most often taken into custody with little or no violence. If there is violence, it happens off-screen…no grisly murder scenes depicted in any cozies! Foul language is also kept to a minimum.  The murders are generally members of or related to someone in the town wherein the murder occurs and the motives – greed, jealousy, revenge – often are deep rooted. 
Cozies frequently revolve around a theme – for example, Diane Mott Davidson’s revolves around cooking, Parnell Hall’s around crossword puzzles, Monica Ferris’ needlework…you get the idea.  Animal lovers are also well represented, as well, which brings me to my cozy mystery series, debuting in December from Berkley Prime Crime…..think Jessica Fletcher with a cat and you’ve got it!
My series is the Nick and Nora mystery series.  Nora is Nora Charles, ex-crime reporter turned restaraunt entrepreneur.  She’s returned after a 12 year absence from reporting on crime in Chicago back to her hometown of Cruz, California, to take over her deceased mother’s sandwich shop.  Shortly thereafter, Nora finds a surprise waiting outside her door – a stocky, black and white cat.  She takes the cat in and names him Nick (after Nick Charles, the Thin Man, of course).  She later finds out that the cat did in fact belong to a PI, Nick Atkins, who is currently MIA – she also finds out that Nick has many talents, among them the ability to spell out words with Scrabble tiles – plus, he’s got a nose for scenting out crime.
Here’s the teaser, taken from the back of the book:
Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 
Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives. 
I hope you’ll join Nick and Nora on some of their adventures, but even if a crime solving cat isn’t your cup of tea, I’m sure that there are many other cozies out there that are.  Sample the genre today – I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!
Want to win a selection of my favorite cozies? Leave your name and email address in the comments section, and tell us why you love cozy mysteries! If they feature cats so much the better LOL.  One winner will be chosen by Contest ends midnight, Aug. 27.  US residents only.
And don't forget to visit all the other great giveaways you can find here:


CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS has been writing about Midnight Louie since 1990.  Louie, a twenty pound plus black tomcat, is the star of his multivolume mystery series, the 26th of which is set for an August release: CAT IN A YELLOW SPOTLIGHT. 

Louie and Carole are both here today to talk about their latest release…so without further ado…Midnight Louie and Carole Nelson Douglas!

Thank you, ROCCO!

Seen on the Internet: “Or maybe it's a gender thing: Dogs are boys and cats are girls. Dogs are voiced narrators, marching forth into the world. Cats are pigeonholed in quiet domesticity.”

That writer clearly has succumbed to the truism that “a boy and his dog” trotting off to adventures is the strongest human-animal bond. That writer underestimates the equal and sometimes even superior power of “a girl and her cat.”

That writer has not met Midnight Louie, PI, twenty or so pounds of street-smart cat. Louie is the part-time narrator of thirty novels and the full-time companion and protector of his “girl”, petite PR powerhouse and amateur detective, Miss Temple Barr.

Come Aug. 26, the 26th entry in the Midnight Louie alphabetically titled mystery series, Cat in a Yellow Spotlight, debuts in trade paperback and ebook on bookselling sites everywhere. The cover places Midnight Louie right where one series reader wanted to see him, dead center.

Not that Louie has used up any of his lives, even when this long-running series comes to an end. The 26-letter title alphabet sequence is bracketed by a foundation novel, Cat in an Alphabet Soup, followed by Cat in an Aqua Storm etc.… to 2015’s Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit and then the closing volume, Cat in an Alphabet Endgame. Naturally, a mere 26 letters is not enough to contain Midnight Louie and his life of crime-solving. Sue Grafton, eat your heart out. Midnight Louie is not hanging up his fedora even then.

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

In fact, cats in mystery series by far outnumber canine case-solvers. Although most are not narrators, they are agile cat burglars and clue sniffer-outers. Louie’s four flashing “shivs”, as he calls them, have had many a screaming thug holding his blood-blinded eyes if Louie’s Miss Temple is threatened. Not that she doesn’t have ways of protecting herself.

Together they have encountered and solved a slew of murderers. Temple has an in with coroner “Grizzly” Bahr (no relation). And Louie has busted into the morgue a time or two to satisfy a suspicion about a murder victim. In fact, tough female homicide lieutenant C. R. Molina has even begrudgingly employed the pair on a case. Well, not Louie. He keeps his real role as crime-fighter undercover when the cops are around.

The only flies in his Sin City ointment are Temple’s ex and current boyfriends. Max Kinsella is a magician and undercover agent. When “The Mystifying Max” eased out of the picture so Temple’s life was not endangered, she became intrigued by a hard-to-get, handsome new neighbor with a surprising secret and a telephone advice job. Matt Devine lives up to his name, as far as Temple is concerned. Louie knows he can’t forever be the main man in Temple’s life, but he will ensure no mere human will ever put her in danger, even from heartbreak.

In Cat in a Yellow Spotlight, Temple Barr oversees the volatile Las Vegas Strip reunion of a groundbreaking, multi-ethnic rock band, Black & White. Thirty years earlier, tabloids went wild over the shocking disappearance of its two singing divas and flamboyant manager. The women made comebacks, but manager Cale Watson was never seen again. Now, drug trips and murder stalk the rehearsing band members. Temple moves into the celebrity hotel suites to uncover the sabotage, while Louie guards her and sets the Vegas Cat Pack to sniff out clues like, er,  mere dogs. Elsewhere, vengeful former IRA terrorist Kathleen O’Connor forces magician Max Kinsella, into a shocking decision. Deadly encounters and unexpected reunions bring all the main characters unforeseen loss and disclosure, the suspense leavened by the series’ characteristic wit and heart.

So who is Midnight Louie’s collaborator, who is the author who plays “girl” to his “cat”? He forthwith presents Carole Nelson Douglas’s biography:

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

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

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

Thanks, Louie and Carole!

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

Get out there and get CAT IN A YELLOW SPOTLIGHT today!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Hotseat - author DAWN EASTMAN! MEOW!

MEOW! My guest today is bestselling author Dawn Eastman!
Dawn Eastman lived in Michigan for many years, in a house full of animals, unusual people, and laughter. She now lives in Iowa with her family and one extremely bossy small dog. She is the national bestselling author of the Family Fortune Mystery series, which features psychics, animal communication, quirky characters and murders.
And now…Dawn!
R:  Welcome to the blog, Dawn! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Thank you, Rocco, for inviting me to your blog!
I think most writers begin as readers and for me, those hours spent happily turning pages as a kid led me to want to write my own stories. As I got older I explored more “reasonable” careers, and went to medical school and became a family medicine doctor. I left medicine to raise my family and returned to writing during that time for my own entertainment. I found that my initial plan, formed when I was about ten, was still attractive to me and decided to pursue publication.
R: How did the idea for the “Family Fortune” mysteries come about?
I like the idea of flipping ideas around and thought it would be interesting to create a town where psychics were the norm and skeptics the minority. I also love watching families navigate the various changes that occur as time moves along – probably partly inspired by my time as a physician.
R: Tell us about your recent release, BE CARFUL WHAT YOU WITCH FOR
Be Careful What You Witch For is the second book in the Family Fortune Mysteries series. Clytemnestra (Clyde) Fortune has left police work and moved home to Crystal Haven, Michigan. During a ceremony on Halloween night, a local Wiccan dies. As it becomes clear that the death was no accident, some of Clyde’s friends are suspects. She again has to put her psychic and police skills to use to solve the murder and clear her friends from suspicion. The whole gang bands together for sleuthing, surveillance, and psychic intervention.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I did the usual querying agents and collecting rejections. Then I took an online workshop with a wonderful mystery writer. She liked my Family Fortune series ideas and gave me the name of her agent. That agent read my manuscript, loved the characters, and took me on as a client. I was so thrilled to have an agent, I hardly thought about the next steps. I think it was a month or so later that she called to say we had an offer from Berkley. That was a truly thrilling moment. I had been writing for many years at that point. To hear that I would finally see one of my books in print and that it would have that little Prime Crime handprint on the spine was a dream-come-true moment.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
I usually start with a cup of tea, but it rapidly disappears. I have found the best aid for the creative process is a looming deadline.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
There are so many. I love reading about history and love historical fiction. I think my favorite times are Elizabethan England (although I’m very attached to indoor plumbing, and might not want to spend a lot of time there) and the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s. There was an explosion of technology and science. I think it would have been a very exciting time.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
My back-up plan when I was ten was to go to Africa and help Jane Goodall with the chimps.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
Rocco, you are sneaky – I’m going to take the fifth on that one. But being interviewed by a cat is right up there.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I hope they will be entertained and that the stories will bring them a few moments of laughter. Books have saved me at different times and in different ways. For me, the experience of being transported elsewhere by a good story is essential to a happy life.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
A Fright to the Death, the third book in the series, is in the editing phase. It will be in stores in April. And I’m plotting out some new adventures for Clyde and her gang.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. I like to know where I’m going.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
I’m a fairly obsessive knitter and always have something on the needles. If only I lived with a cat who could help me with yarn management…
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Twitter: @dawnaeastman
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Read. Write as much as you can and when you are ready, try to find a good critique group that is encouraging, but also critical.
R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
I’d probably try to be a professional knitter.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both, plus horses, turtles, chimps, rabbits, etc.
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Steak
Favorite Drink?  Tea
Favorite Book?  There are too many to choose, but if forced I would say Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Favorite TV Series?  Castle and Dr. Who
Favorite Movie?  A Christmas Story
Favorite Actor: David Tennant
Favorite Actress: Lucille Ball
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be my grandfather, who died in France during World War II.
If I had just one wish, it would be a time machine would be nice.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be I wouldn’t trade with anyone.
Thanks for a great interview, Dawn!
Dawn will give away a signed copy of Be Careful What You Witch For 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:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, August 17. Open to US residents only. Good luck!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

We welcome author Sally Goldenbaum!

Sally Goldenbaum is a sometime philosophy teacher, a knitter, and an editor, and the author of more than thirty novels. Sally became more serious about knitting with the creation of the Seaside Knitters mystery series and the birth of her first grandchild. Her fictional seaside friends are helping her probe the intricacies of women’s friendship, the mysteries, heartaches and joys of small-town living, and the very best way to pick up dropped stitches on a lacy knit shawl.




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


I’ve always loved words, although my academic work was in philosophy, which I taught in a couple of colleges before settling into writing.  I began writing novels with a friend when we had toddlers and wanted a more flexible schedule than that which teaching allowed. And in addition, we had both always wanted to write a novel.

We wrote a dozen novels together before I launched out on my own. Mysteries came along a little later, in between stints as an editor, first at a bioethics center, and later at a veterinary healthcare center. But I finally gave up the editing office jobs for good and now enjoy the life of a full time mystery writer, filling in my need for people by having frequent lunches with writer friends and sometimes even sharing a writing space with one of these friends. It makes the solitary aspect of writing much easier.


R: Tell us about your Seaside mystery series and how that came about.

I had written a precious mystery series, the Queen Bee Quilters Mysteries, set in Kansas and published by a small publisher. When an agent I had worked with years before read one, she suggested getting the rights back and going with a larger publisher for better distribution. I was unable to get the rights back so my agent suggested a new series with the same flavor: women’s friendship, small town, and some ‘hook’ that would bring the women together to solve mysteries. My daughter was living on Cape Ann at the time and pregnant with my first grandchild, which made the location a no-brainer: Cape Ann MA. Such a wonderful reason to go there often for research and baby cuddling. The hook—knitting—was suggested by one of the agents who was/is an amazing knitter. And the women themselves were all inspired by people I know. Put them all together and you have the Seaside Knitters Mystery series.


R: What are you working on next:

I am working hard right now on #9 in the series, A FINELY KNIT MURDER, scheduled for May ‘15 publication. Hopefully #10 will also come out next year around the holidays.

I am also playing with an idea for a single title women’s fiction book (my agent calls it a ‘Sunday Project’). I’ve always wanted to write this kind of book and think the time  might be right.


R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?


I have had the same agent (she’s with the Jane Rotrosen agency in NYC) for longer than I can remember. I, along with a friend who was coauthoring a book with me, met her at a writer’s conference in Kansas City. We had instant chemistry (all three of us) and she asked us to send her two chapters of a humorous contemporary love story. We did, and in a couple weeks we got the call that a publisher wanted to buy it. It was such fun to have a partner with whom to share that excitement. We immediately went to the Plaza area in KC and celebrated. It was, and is, a great memory. That, and seeing your book in a real bookstore for the first time are huge thrilling moments. We had our first booksigning at an independent bookstore in Kansas City, Rainy Day Books. My friends’ parents drove from Atlanta for the signing and stopped at every bookstore along the way, buying up copies of our book with the hopes that they’d put us on WaldenBooks best seller list (they did!). Their trunk was filled to the brim when they arrived.


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

Coffee, a comfortable chair, and my MacBook air. And the seaside mysteries characters—Nell, Izzy, Birdie and Cass—who must be present, sitting there beside me and helping me on my way. I also like writing with background chatter, either a radio or Starbucks patio. Libraries are also frequent destinations. Although quieter than SB, the people milling around are somehow a comfort to me.


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


It’s difficult to pick out just a few. I learn and am inspired by different things from different writers. From some it’s the writing style I admire, from others, the clever plotting, still others, it’s the sheer entertainment of being taken on a fun ride. Right now I am enjoying an Australian writer, Liane Moriarity, but I also love British mysteries, particularly ones written by women (PD James, etc.), and the classics. But I learn from American mystery writers too—and in all different genres within the mystery field. I have also been influenced by several non-mystery writers, such as Anna Quindlen, Elizabeth Berg, and Marilyn Robinson.


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 am almost always most attached to the book that has just been born into the marketplace. In this case, MURDER IN MERINO.  And I sometimes actually imagine real life figures as I develop the plot. The main character in this particular book is Jules Ainsley, a 40 year old in search of her past. I imagine someone like Sandra Bullock (we’re dreaming here, right?) playing Jules and finding herself in Sea Harbor. And oh, my, would I love to have Meryl Streep play Nell!


I hesitate to put ‘identifiable, real people’ faces on Nell, Izzy, Birdie and Cass because I think readers do such a great job of using their imaginations to paint them in bright wonderful colors.


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

I’m not sure. I loved the Brontes and Jane Austin so much when I was in high school that I used to write book reports for my older friends who had a busier social life than I did and didn’t take the time to read them.


R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? To prove to my fellow twelve-year-old campers that I was not allergic to poison ivy, I walked through a thick patch of it in the woods.  I ended up in the hospital and missed the last week of camp. (Perhaps that was the dumbest thing?) I also fictionalized my high school diary.


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

I hope they take away a strong sense of ‘town’ and place, and a feeling of friendship and the ways in which it impacts our lives and helps us grow. I hope readers take away friends.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Oh, how I wish I were a plotter! But I feel my way through each chapter, hoping the muses stay close and Nell, Birdie, Izzy and Cass don’t desert me.

I also have a couple of friends who patiently brain storm with me before I start each book—and sometimes when I get stuck in the middle.

R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)

My husband and I love to hike in Colorado and spend A LOT of time with our six grandchildren (ages 5 months to 8) and our grown children. I swim, exercise at a gym and often think of getting a bike (so far that’s as far as I’ve gotten on that one), and I grab lunch and dinner as often as possible with close friends who enrich my life.

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

My website——includes several articles on me. They also pop up occasionally on the Internet. I am on Goodreads, twitter, google plus, and facebook, all the usual spots.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

These are tidbits that I learned from other authors and ones that have helped me at various times as I go through the process:

• Read read read read read

• Give yourself permission to write badly. Then fix it up (or maybe it’s not as bad as you think).

• You can write one page a day. At the end of a year you have a book.


When I began writing my first novel, I used to write a chapter, then go back and read a chapter written by a writer I admired and I’d pay close attention to the things that had been difficult for me in my chapter (basic things like how to move a character from one place to another without including every detail, dialogue dynamics, point of view, etc.) And I would continue to do that through the writing process. I STILL do that sometimes, even after 35 books!


There are also some good books on writing, although those weren’t as helpful to me as conversing with other writers.



Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Day to write, night to edit.


Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Dog. LOVE dogs.


Beach or Pool?   I like both equally. The beach for ambiance, the pool for serious swimming.


Steak or salad?    Salad


Favorite Drink?  Manhattan


Favorite Book?  Don’t have a favorite.


Favorite TV Series?  The Good Wife.


Favorite Movie?  Tootsie and When Harry Met Sally


Favorite Actor: I’ve always had a crush on Harrison Ford.

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 my dad. He died when I was just a kid. I would love to meet him now, to sit and have a drink together, to talk about life and loves and philosophy and why he made some of the life choices he made. Gosh…thinking about it now I would really love that. When I came to this question on your list, the answer (my father) popped out without thought, immediately, even though I had never thought about it before. Thank you for asking it.


If I had just one wish, it would be for all my children and grandchildren to have happy, satisfying, fruitful lives.


If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be _______ 


No one. My life is pretty nice.


Here are all the places you can find Sally!



Twitter: @sallygoldenbaum



Sally would be happy to give away a copy of Murder in Merino to two lucky commenters!  To enter leave your  name and email address in the comments section below. For extra entries you can:


* Follow this blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)


Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!