Monday, September 28, 2015

Let's welcome in October with guest poster Leigh Perry! (aka Toni L. P Kelner! )


 
 
 
 
 
My Favorite Haunted House
By Leigh Perry
 
As I worked on The Skeleton Haunts a House, my forthcoming Family Skeleton mystery, I did quite a bit of research about running haunted house attractions. Naturally, I remembered some of the haunted houses I’ve gone to over the years.
There was the one at my elementary school Halloween carnival, which was big on other kids’ parents dressed as cackling witches who made sure nobody got overly scared. There was the dark ride at the boardwalk in Daytona Beach, FL, notable for having a speaker installed so people waiting could hear the people inside screaming. (It was also notable for having a cute guy running it, which is why my big sister Connie took me on it multiple times.) There was the haunt sponsored by the Nature Museum in Charlotte, NC, which I attended many years and eventually worked at myself. Charlotte’s Carowinds theme park had a Scooby-Doo themed ride where I could shoot at Creepers and Ghost Clowns. All were fun—and scary—in their own way.
But my favorite haunted house will always be the Haunted Mansion at Disney. Both the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions have everything I want in a haunted house:
·      Atmosphere. Though the mansions are different on the outside, inside they’re both dripping with the same spooky atmosphere: macabre props like gargoyles and paintings whose eyes follow you, moving suits of armor, withered plants, alarming sound effects, and graveyard scenes.
·      Colorful scare actors. Most of the scares in the Haunted Mansion or mechanical or Audio-Animatronic, but there are a handful of doleful hosts in gloomy outfits around to add to the experience. If you go to Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween party, some of the characters even come outside the mansion to tell stories and join the parade.
·      A storyline. Actually, there are several storylines as you go through the house: the Ghost Host’s story, a bride’s many marriages and their subsequent ends, dancing ghosts and dueling ghosts, Madame Leota’s tales from the crystal ball. It’s not just a random zombie jumping out at you from behind a corner.
·      Honest frights. As many times as I’ve gone through the Haunted Mansion, every time I listen to the Ghost Host in the gallery giving his spiel about the house, knowing what’s coming next, when the thunderclap strikes and it’s revealed just how the Host became Ghost, I jump. Maybe I even scream a little. And that’s just to start!
·      Boos without gore. I don’t mind a fake puddle of blood now and then, but I really don’t need a fountain of the stuff. For me, haunted houses work just fine when less is more.
·      Humor. Humor and horror go together—I like to alternate them to make the scares scarier and the jokes funnier. Whether it’s riding in Doom Buggies, the Grim Grinning Ghosts singing, or the Hitchhiking Ghost at the end, as far as I’m concerned the Haunted Mansion strikes that balance perfectly. (The puns on the tombstones tickle my funny bone, too.)
 
Now that I look at this list, I realize it’s kind of what I was going for with The Skeleton Haunts a House: the atmosphere of a haunted house, a university, and a college town; plenty of memorable characters; a storyline, of course; scary moments; violence off-screen; and with Sid the Skeleton around, there are going to be jokes.
Well, if I’m going to borrow ideas, at least I’m borrowing from the best!
 
 
 
Leigh Perry writes the Family Skeleton mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. The Skeleton Haunts a House, the third, is due out October 6, just in time for the start of the haunting season. As Toni L.P. Kelner, she’s the co-editor of paranormal fiction anthologies with Charlaine Harris; the author of eleven mystery novels; and an Agatha Award winner and multiple award nominee for short fiction. No matter what you call her, she lives north of Boston with two daughters, two guinea pigs, and one husband. For an excerpt of The Skeleton Haunts a House and far more information than you probably want about Leigh, visit her online at www.leighperryauthor.com.



Monday, September 14, 2015

Break Time!

Ah, it's that time of year again, when the Human has to stop and recharge her batteries for the latter half of the year!  and whilst she is doing that, I, ROCCO, shall be busy, preparing questions for interviews for the Fall, getting ready for HAMLET AND NICK'S FURTABULOUS LAUNCH PARTY on Facebook to celebrate the release of PLOT BOILER and CLAWS FOR ALARM, and reading cozies from that big box the mailman delivered for interviews for Night Owl!

We have goodies planned for the remainder of the year, interview -wise. Here's a sample...

October 6 - Laura Childs
October 13 - Margaret Coel
October 19 - Nancy Haddock

Plus we hope to have Wendy Corsi Staub and Laura Levine join us before the year is out. Oh, and don't forget November 3, when Hamlet and I team up to interview Ali Brandon and the HUMAN!

Should be fun......

We return with a vengeance on September 29 when Toni L. P. Kelner is our guest poster!

In themeantime, click on the link below to read some of my Night Owl Reviews!
https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Reviews?Reviewer="Rocco LoTempio"


Have a great September, kitties!!!!!!
See you soon!



ROCCO
INCREDIBLE BLOGGING CAT

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Say hello to Diane Vallere


Meow – my guest is author Diane Vallere!

 

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

Having grown up reading Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, I always wanted to write a mystery series, but I lacked ideas. My first foray into writing was actually Batman/Catwoman fan fiction (still unfinished). Eventually I discovered the humorous mystery genre (Lawrence Block’s Burglar Who…, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Sarah Strohmeyer’s Bubbles books) and realized there was a whole genre of mystery series for adults. That’s when I first had the idea for a former fashion buyer amateur sleuth.

 

R: You write four different series! Can you tell us a bit about each of them?

The Style & Error series is the first that I wrote, and they feature former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd. In each book Samantha takes on a different job in the fashion industry. They are the most openly humorous of all of my series. I can put Samantha in situations that don’t fit my other amateurs, and I can see her enrolling in the citizen’s police academy and taking PI courses so she becomes a better investigator. (And Samantha has a black cat named Logan.)

 

The Madison Night mysteries (formerly subtitled Mad for Mod), feature an interior decorator who specializes in midcentury modern design and models her appearance and her business sense after Doris Day characters. Madison is in her late 40’s and is a reluctant sleuth. The chaos of mysteries around her have pulled her out of her self-imposed personal isolation, and forcing her to see that being alone isn’t what she wants. (Madison has a Shih Tzu named Rock.)

 

The Material Witness Mysteries feature Polyester Monroe, who inherits the fabric shop that she was born in (thus her name—though she goes by Poly). Poly is an old soul in a twenty-eight year old body, cherishes her family, and tries to make peace among friends and their own estranged families. She is a fixer: she sees problems and wants to fix them, whether they are her own problems or they belong to others.  (Poly has two kittens: Pins and Needles.)

 

And to be fair, my fourth series doesn’t start until February! But that will be the Costume Shop mysteries, featuring Margo Tamblyn, who moves back to a small town in Nevada to help run her dad’s costume shop. Her mother died when she was born, and her father raised her on his own. He frequently dressed her in costumes for back to school clothes, so now in her thirties, she still has a love of costumes and wears elements of them every day. (Margo has a cranky gray cat named Soot.)

 

 

R: Tell us about your latest release, Crushed Velvet

In CRUSHED VELVET, Poly is awaiting the delivery of a proprietary blend of velvet for the re-opening of her fabric store, but when the shipment arrives, her friend’s husband is found dead underneath it. Now she has to help prove her friend’s innocence while getting the store ready to open. No easy feat!

R:  Your series centers around clothes and clues!  Are you a fashionista in real life?

I love clothes and accessories. I love getting dressed up. For as long as I can remember, my outfits have had themes: Coco Chanel (lots of pearls), Rhoda (head scarf and caftan or poncho), Sherlock (tweed cape), flight attendant (neckerchief shirt, and suit). I dress up less now that I write full time, but still I think clothing is fun! I have many items that I keep just in case I ever need them for a special event, and I can dress for almost any decade at a moment’s notice J

 

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?

My story is a bit roundabout, and I joke with my agent that she rejected me four times before signing with me.

 

I’d been planning to self publish my first series, and I’d asked a fellow author to blurb it. She passed the manuscript to her editor, who asked if I’d be willing to rework it to fit their line. I politely declined, but offered an alternate idea: the material witness series. After submitting sample chapters and a proposal, they showed interest, so I approached my (now) agent and asked if she’d consider representing me.

 

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

Because I spent so many lunch breaks writing in the years when I worked a FT job, I can write almost anywhere. I do need a notebook to scribble thoughts midway. My process is a little disorganized, so I have to capture all scraps of ideas as they happen so I can revisit them later.

 

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

Have you ever heard the story about the launch of Spanx and how Sara Blakely (the founder) demonstrated the benefits of her prototype footless pantyhose to the Neiman Marcus hosiery buyer in the bathroom of Neiman Marcus? I was the buyer.

 

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

Moved from Pennsylvania (where I’d lived my whole life except for college) to Dallas, TX.

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

The idea that if you’re not happy in life, you can change your future.

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

You can always come visit my website at www.dianevallere.com, or come to any of my bookstore events (always listed on the site)

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Read a lot. Read as much as you can. Read widely. Read the bestsellers. Read in the genre that you want to write.

R: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you? And what’s the answer?

Q: Why were you writing about Batman and Catwoman? A: I have no idea.

 

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  More difficult than you’d think! Madison Night is inspired by Doris Day!

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat J

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Steak

Favorite Drink?  Pellegrino

Favorite Book?  The Phantom Tollbooth

Favorite TV Series?  Alias, That Girl, Murphy Brown

Favorite Movie?  Some Like it Hot, How to Steal a Million, and Sixteen Candles

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be John Hughes_

If I had just one wish, it would be_I’ve seen too many Twilight Zones to know that this is a bad question to answer!

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be nobody. I’m pretty happy where I’m at.

 

You can find Diane at:


Twitter: @dianevallere

Facebook: DianeVallereAuthor

Pinterest: dianevallere

 

Diane will give away a fabric book cover to one lucky commenter! and Berkley has donated a copy of CRUSHED VELVET as a prize for another lucky commenter!  To enter, leave a comment with your name and email address!  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, Monday, September 14.

 

 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Black Cats watch out....for author Kay Finch!


Meow, today my guest is author Kay Finch!

 

  • Welcome Kay. Tell us a little about your background

I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania and began writing mystery stories as a little girl. I kept all my stories to myself, and it wasn’t until I moved to Texas and went to work at the law office of a renowned criminal defense attorney that I began writing mystery novels.

  • Tell us about your new series, the Bad Luck Cat mysteries.  Where did that idea originate?

I must give the credit to my agent. She wanted me to sign on as her client so she could share with me this “great series idea” she’d been hanging onto. I signed, we brainstormed, and she sold the series within a few days after I turned in the proposal.

  • Tell us about some of the other series you’ve written

My Corie McKenna mysteries, Final Decree and Final Cut, feature a Houston PI who works divorce cases. Relative Chaos, my Klutter Killer mystery, is about a professional organizer who finds a dead body in her aunt’s messy garage.

  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I think about unique or quirky people I’ve known in my life and fashion characters after them. While I’m writing I remind myself not to have the characters react in my very logical, humdrum way. Instead, I think about how one of my quirky role models might react and that makes for a much more interesting scene.

  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

I’m a list maker, so I have to begin by outlining. While I have the general plot and the list of suspects, the list of reasons for the actions of each suspect, and the list of settings in the novel, etc. etc. there comes a point in the book where the thing that I had planned doesn’t happen.  Something different and more interesting happens and from there on the writing is by the seat of my pants.

  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

I’m going to say character because if the character isn’t interesting enough to read about then the reader won’t get to the plot that holds the story together.

  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Finding enough time to write is my biggest challenge. My inspiration comes from my dear friends, Leann Sweeney and Dean “Miranda” James, who write book after terrific book, year after year. They make me proud to be a fellow “cat mystery” writer.

  • Do you have a “How I got my agent” story you want to share?

Yes, definitely. A fellow cozy writer asked if I’d be interested in continuing a series that was being discontinued by the author even though the publisher wanted it to continue. Would I? What do I have to do? This lead put me in touch with the author’s agent who asked me to sign on as a client so that she could share her idea for the Bad Luck Cat series, as mentioned above. The publisher found someone else to continue the series that started this line of dialogue, but I’m happy with the way things turned out.

  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m finishing the second Bad Luck Cat mystery. At this point, the title remains a mystery.  Several title ideas are being considered.

  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

The only answer I have to that question is “as many hours as I can squeeze in.” I work a forty hour week at a busy law firm. On some days I can write quite a lot during a lunch hour, but more of the writing is done on weekends.

  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Don’t expect success to come quickly or to make loads of money.

  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?

I wish I could dance like one of the Dancing with the Stars pros.

  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)

Do you ever dream about quitting your day job and writing full-time?

Absolutely, yes!

  • Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Check out my web site at www.kayfinch.com.

 

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  .

Day

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) 

Cat, of course, but don’t tell my two dogs I said that.

Beach or Pool?  

Pool

Steak or salad? 

Salad

Favorite Drink? 

Coffee

Favorite Book? 

The Poet by Michael Connelly

Favorite TV Series? 

Major Crimes

Favorite Movie? 

The Wizard of Oz

Favorite Actor:

Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone

Favorite Actress:

Meryl Streep

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?

Pina Colada – for my sweet tooth

Hawaii or Alaska?

Hawaii

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be

Agatha Christie.

If I had just one wish, it would be

that children and animals never had to suffer.

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

a lucky black cat.

 

Folks you can find Kay at:

            www.kayfinch.com

            Facebook at:

Kay Finch

Kay Finch Author

            Twitter at KFinchMysteries

List any giveaway information
 

            Kay is giving away this piece of cat-lover home d├ęcor – “All You Need Is Love …And A Cat” to one special winner.In addition, Berkley has donated a copy of “Black Cat Crossing” to be given to another 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, Sept. 11.

 

 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Welcome Denise Swanson to the blog!



Meow! My guest today is author Denise Swanson!
New York Times Bestseller author Denise Swanson was a practicing school psychologist for twenty-two years. Good Girl Overboard is her first romance and begins the Change of Heart contemporary romance series. She also writes the Scumble River and Devereaux’s Dime Store mysteries. Her books all feature small-town heroines with lots of heart.
Denise’s books have been finalists for the Agatha, Mary Higgins Clark, RT Magazine's Career Achievement, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She has won the Reviewers Choice Award and was a BookSense 76 Top Pick.
Denise Swanson lives in Illinois with her husband, classical composer David Stybr, and their cool black cat Boomerang.
For more information, please check her website. http://www.DeniseSwanson.com or find Denise on Facebook at www.facebook.com/#!/DeniseSwansonAuthor or follow her on twitter at DeniseSwansonAu
·        Welcome Denise! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, I spent 22 years as a school psychologist and in my spare time I worked as a travel agent. While attending graduate school, I worked as a police dispatcher and in high school I was a pharmacist assistant, so I have a lot of diverse experiences to draw from for my stories.
·        Tell us a bit about your latest SCUMBLE RIVER book
Murder of an Open Book is primarily about the influence of social media on all our lives. Because this is the eighteenth book in the series, it is also about the next step in my sleuth’s life. In Murder of a Small-Town Honey, the first book, Skye Denison was introduced to the readers as a young woman who had been jilted, fired, and was broke. In this book, Skye has just returned from her honeymoon—Murder of a Needled Knitter—and is trying to get back into her regular routine of a morning swim. This proves difficult because of an annoying teacher determined to exert her authority over Skye. When this teacher is found dead, Skye discovers that she was not the only one that had a problem with the victim.
·        Tell us about your other mystery series, Deveraux Dime Store.
My other mystery series, Deveraux’s Dime Store, centers on Deveraux Sinclair. Dev spent many years as a financial consultant, but when her grandmother’s health starts to fail and her boss pulls a “Bernie Madoff” Dev ends up the proud owner of an old fashioned dime store. This series is a bit edgier than the Scumble River books. It is told in first person with Dev’s love interests telling their side of the story in third person point of view.
·        How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
As a psychologist, I used to interview all my clients as a part of their psychological evaluation. When I started writing, I tweaked that interview and use it on my characters.
·        How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
When I first began writing, I used an extensive outline. But as I became more comfortable, I more and more just sit down and write the story. I always know the victim, the murderer, and most of the suspects, but that’s about it.
·        Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
While plot is important, I am more concerned with writing believable characters that readers will want to hang out with and want to know what happens to next.
·        What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge, aside from finding an agent and getting published, is sitting down every day and facing a blank screen. It is especially difficult after a bad review or a nasty e-mail. Although I’ve tried to develop a thick skin, I do not have one so every criticism takes a lot out of me.
Conversely, the readers who love my books and share how those stories helped through tough times in their lives are my source of motivation.
·        Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I had 270 rejection letters from agents. I finally was able to get my first agent when Sarah Ann Freed, an editor with Mysterious Press, read the first 50 pages of my manuscript and called it cozy writing at its finest. Using her enthusiasm, I re-queried my top 5 choices and had three offers within weeks.
·        What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am currently under contract for two mysteries a year for Random House Penguin. In addition, I’m writing the Change of Heart romance series, that I am publishing myself. The first book, Good Girl Overboard, came out in March, and I’m finishing up the next two books plus a novella that will debut in late September or early October.
·        What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I generally write 7 days a week. I start around 8 AM and usually try to finish up around 3 PM. My goal is 7 pages a day, every day.
·        What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Always remember that it isn’t how good you are. It’s how bad you want it.
·        What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Voluntarily, I walked on the live lava bed of an active volcano.
Involuntarily, because of information the school social worker and I had been gathering on a cult that was abusing children, I was chased down a school hallway by a person dressed in a mask and a robe.
·        What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m a huge fan of zombie books and movies.
·        Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Fun or work? ;)
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both, although I currently have a cat, I grew up with dogs.
Beach or Pool?   Pool
Steak or salad? Salad 
Favorite Drink?  Diet Coke
Favorite Book?  Little Women
Favorite TV Series?  Walking Dead
Favorite Movie?  Long Hot Summer
Favorite Actor: Paul Newman
Favorite Actress: Joanne Woodward
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Gloria Steinem
If I had just one wish, it would be Acceptance for all people
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Nora Roberts
Thanks Denise!
Here’s all the places you can find Denise:
Twitter @DeniseSwansonAu
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/128487.Denise_Swanson
 Denise runs Goodreads giveaways every month or so. She also does giveaways on her FB group Denise Swanson’s Mysteries, Romances, and More