Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Midnight Louie's First Adventure!

Alphabet SoupToday let's talk about the very first adventure of Midnight Louie's!



This book was previously published as Previously published as CATNAP) 




This book introduces us to an extraordinary sleuthing duo: Ms. Temple Barr, a 29-year-old Public Relations freelancer in Las Vegas, and the eighteen-pound jet-black tomcat called Midnight Louie who tells his own side of the story.

Temple is pursuing a cat in the exhibit hall at the Las Vegas ABA as fast as her spike heels will carry her–only to stumble over a dead publisher–and soon learns that the founder of Pennyroyal Press, a paperback house specializing in medical thrillers, had as many enemies as there are attendees at the ABA–and that’s 24,000.

But that’s not all. Baker & Taylor’s corporate mascots, the genial short-eared cats known and Baker and Taylor, have been snatched from their ABA booth and must be found before they’re done in. And first Temple needs to convince tall, stern, female lieutenant Molina of the Las Vegas Police that Temple herself is not up to no good. The lieutenant has all too many questions about the disappearance of Mystifying Max, the handsome stage magician who vanished from Temple’s life six months ago. Molina won’t believe that Temple knows nothing of his whereabouts . . .

What with Lieutenant Molina, Murder One and feline felony, it’s a wonder that Temple has time to notice the riveting Matt Devine, who’s just rented a condo from Temple’s landlady, in the circular building behind the Lover’s Knot Wedding chapel. But she does. . .

Catnap is narrated in part by Midnight Louie, the sleuthing tomcat who led Temple to the corpse. (You thought it was an accident?) Louie’s investigations are aided by his conversations with Ingram the bookstore cat and other felines, yet hampered by his resolve never to speak to humans. But Midnight Louie is one hardboiled, hairy-chested big dude. He always finds a way to bring the perpetrator to justice!

This book is fabulous! Carole Nelson Douglas weaves an intricate plot, and the way Louie is introduced to "His Human" Temple is nothing short of fantastic! Temple and Louie forge an undeniable bond in this book, which also introduces us to other characters that quickly become near and dear to our hearts.


ROCCO's rating: Five paws!!!!!!! You will LOVE this book! Thank you, Carole Nelson Douglas, for re-inventing Louie for a new generation of readers!!!!!!!


Buy it at: ALPHABET SOUP

Friday, October 12, 2018

October is Midnight Louie Month!

This month, we pay tribute to one of ROCCO's idols and my mentor:
MIDNIGHT LOUIE AND CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS!!!!

Simply put, Midnight Louie is OUR kind of detective.

In his own words, he’s short, dark and unobtrusive.  He talks like a detective out of a 40s pulp novel.  Plus, he’s remarkably light on his feet and he can shimmy into places Columbo would never dare to tread.
And why not?  Louie is a cat.

A 20 pound, jet black tomcat with all of his – um- assets intact (well for the most part.  He has had a vasectomy – yeah, you heard me right) Louie is the first furpurrson of mystery, or as he puts it, the star of his own multivolume mystery series. And make no mistake about it, Louis is THE star, even though at times he finds himself sharing center stage with some very interesting humans.

A good deal of the charm for me in this series is Carole Nelson Douglas’
well fleshed out characters, both feline and human. Eighteen pound plus tomcat Louie shares the stage in his books with four human characters, two men, two women; two amateur sleuths, two pros. Crime-solving Temple Barr, PR woman and burgeoning sleuth, is Louie’s roommate. (No one “owns” Louie.) He’s Temple’s protector and “muscle.” Hard-boiled female homicide lieutenant C.R. Molina has to put up with the pair of them. Max Kinsella is Temple’s ex, a magician and counter-terrorist operative on the run. Matt Devine is an ex-priest radio advice counselor who’s become Temple’s fiancée.  And this is not to mention the feline characters, which include his alleged daughter, Midnight Louise (who loves ragging on dear old pops), Ma Barker, his mom who still oftentimes refers to him by his given  name, Grasshopper, a bomb and drug sniffing Maltese, Nose E, several assorted cats, big and little…oh! And let’s not forget those glamour pusses, cats of the female persuasion that set Louie’s tail to thumping:  Shaded silver and gold Persians Yvette and Solange, between whose affections Louie bounces like a furry black ball; the deadly Hyacinth, a seal point Siamese whose claws are dipped nightly (supposedly) in Curare; and Satin, a comely black chick with a fluffy tail, one of Louie’s first amours and the maybe-momma of Midnight Louise.

Douglas writes the series as if it were a daytime soap, interweaving plot points and characters throughout.  Like any loyal soap follower, we hung on what would happen next (which we found out, in the last of the "ALPHABET" Midnight Louie mysteries, CAT IN AN ALPHABET ENDGAME.

Now, oh, happy day, Carole Nelson Douglas is re-issuing the earlier Midnight Louie volumes!  Here's hoping that Louie gains a whole new network of fans!  The books can be found at amazon and barnes and noble!

In the coming weeks, we'll take a closer look at Louie and some of his memorable adventures. In the meantime, I leave you with this:

As Louie says, he lives in “the city that never sleeps” – and with a crew like that, who could?

More importantly, who would want to?

Check out Louie's books here:Amazon ML Mysteries

Saturday, October 6, 2018

ROCCO's OCTOBER COZIES!!!!!!

Meow!  Its time for our October cozy reviews!

First my top pick:  the latest Cat in the Stacks, SIX CATS A SLAYIN'

SIX CATS A SLAYIN'
Miranda James
  • Series: Cat in the Stacks Mystery (Book 10)
  • Publisher: Berkley (October 23, 2018)
  • Rating:  Five Paws!!


The tenth entry in this most charming series is set, as the title indicates, during the Christmas season.  As Charlie and his Maine Coon Cat Diesel prepare for the holidays with Charlie's grandchildren, Charlie gets an unwelcome invitation from a new neighbor - Gerry a nosy real estate agent for a holiday party.  Charlie, girlfriend Rose and Stuart all decide to go but they get a distinct shock when the woman is murdered during the party.  Charlie, of course, gets involved in solving the mystery which turns out to have an unusual twist I wont spoil here.  The real star of the show for me, though, was the subplot involving a box of kittens left on Charlie's doorstep.  Diesel is at his very best as caretaker of the kitties, and there just might be a little addition to the Harris family before the adventure reaches its conclusion.  All loose ends are tied up in a neat little package with a bright Christmas bow, leaving us bereft until their next adventure.  Longtime fans of this series will delight in this one, a definite five paws!   

GLITTER BOMB
A Scrapbooking Mystery
Laura Childs/Terrie Farley Moran
Berkley Prime Crime hardcover
October 2, 2018
Five Paws!!!!

Fans of this long running series will not be disappointed in the fifteenth entry!  Amidst the glitter and glitz of the Mardi Gras, Carmela Bertrand  of course runs headlong into mystery and murder when an explosion rocks the parade.  Carmela's ex-hubby, Shamus, is astride a float that msyteriously bursts into flames as it passes them, but one of the crewmembers is killed.  with Shamus in the police's eye as a main suspect, can Carmela clear her ex? And jsut what will her fiancee, Detective Edgar Babcock, have to say about her interfering? 

This series is everything a good msytery should be: interesting characters, complex plot, and a page-turner!  an undeniable Five Paws!!!!!

The Ghost and the Bogus Bookseller
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Mass Market Paperback
September 25, 2018
Four and a half Paws!

Cleo Coyle, the author of the fabulously successful Coffee House mysteries, is also the author of the Haunted Bookshop mysteries!  This was my first foray into this series and it won't be the last.  Peneope Thornton McClure owns a bookstore that's haunted by the spirit of Jack Shepard, a 1940's private investigator!  Together they solve mysteries!  (Remember the Ghost and Mrs. Muir???) In this volume, Penelope smells a rat behind the biggest best seller of the year, because folks are turning up dead to read it - literally!  With the fatalities connected to the book, Penelope and Jack team up to solve the cold case before it claims Penelope as its next victim.  Thorougly enjoyable.  Four and a half paws.

CITY OF LIES
A counterfeit lady novel
Berkley Prime Crime Paperback
Victoria Thompson
September 25, 2018
Four Stars


An exciting new historical mystery series featuring woman-on-the-run Elizabeth Miles—from the beloved national bestselling author of the Gaslight Mysteries.

Every woman plays a part—but some are more dangerous than others…

Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of women who have an agenda of their own. 

She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions, forming an unlikely bond with the wealthy matriarch of the group whose son, Gideon, is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. Elizabeth knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gideon. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton, who’s biding his time, waiting to strike. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past.

I'm not a fan of historicals, but I did enjoy this. four paws.

MURDER SHE WROTE: A DATE WITH MURDER
Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain, Jon Land
Paperback edition
September 25, 2018
Five Paws!




This is the paperback edition of the hardcover that was reviewed last year.  Jon Land takes over for the late Donald Bain and does a masterful job of injecting new life into this tried and true series!  Jessica is on more of a "thrill ride" now and we couldn't be happier!  Longtime fans never tire of this series, and now Land is making it better than ever! Five Paws!


TWO LUCKY COMMENTERS WILL WIN ROCCOS REVIEW COPIES OF CITY OF LIES AND THE GHOST AND THE BOGUS BESTSELLER!




o 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. Winners for each book will be chosen at random. Good luck! US entries only please! Contest ends midnight, October 13!

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Guest Blog with Laura Childs,




A Guest Blog with Laura Childs, New York Times
bestselling cozy writer and author of GLITTER BOMB,
a New Orleans Scrapbook Mystery.




I can’t quite get over the fact that Glitter Bomb is book #15 in my New Orleans Scrapbook Mystery series. The characters, the settings, the plots are just so much fun to write that it feels more like I’m just launching this series.

Of course, the grand dame city of New Orleans is a character unto itself. We’re talking Southern gothic glamour, haunted cemeteries, world class cuisine, bad behavior, and – wait for it – Mardi Gras!

Yup, Mardi Gras takes center stage in Glitter Bomb as scrapbook shop owner Carmela Bertrand and her BFF Ava Grieux (the glamazon) gear up for a week of parades, parties, beignets, and beads. But as they’re held spellbound by the raucous Pluvius parade as it rolls through the French Quarter, the enormous King Neptune float explodes right before their eyes and sends a plume of glitter soaring high into the night sky. The float shudders, hundreds of lights pop like cheap cheeseburgers, and riders are flung from the rapidly disintegrating float. A local hedge fund bigwig is also bounced off – and then found dead, buried under a suffocating layer of gold glitter.

Carmela’s ex-husband Shamus is also tossed from the float, but the police soon eye him as a key suspect due to a bad investment he made. Of course, Shamus (cad that he is) pleads with Carmela for help. As Carmela reluctantly launches her own shadow investigation to try and clear Shamus, she’s forced to dodge the watchful eye of her fiancée Detective Edgar Babcock.

And it wouldn’t be a Glitter Bomb of a book if I didn’t bring in crazy elements like haunted cemeteries, a bizarre funeral, fashion show, high speed sports car chase, and a fancy cocktail party at the zoo topped off by hungry alligators – proving that New Orleans is definitely a favorite go-to spot for visitors as well as readers.

And does Carmela finally get an engagement ring from her long-standing boyfriend turned fiancée? It’s all answered in the very last chapter.

Carmela’s dogs, Boo and Poobah, turn out to be star characters as well. They adore living in her French Quarter apartment and taking walks down Royal Street and Bourbon Street, and hanging out at the Café du Monde where they definitely beg for beignets.

This is a book that practically wrote itself over the space of four months – I felt like I was just pulled along for the ride. And I’m equally thrilled that every single chapter features a scary, shivery scene, plenty of outrageous humor, craft tips, and spectacular New Orleans recipes! There’s no filler, it’s all thriller, and a paean to the exciting and crazy world of the Big Easy!


BIO

Laura Childs is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.


Thanks for a great guest post, Laura!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Laura will give away a copy of GLITTER BOMB 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! US entries only please! Contest ends midnight, October 4!




Friday, September 21, 2018

Welcome back Christine Husom


My guest this week is author Christine Husom!

A long-time mystery lover, Christine Husom served with the Wright County Sheriff’s Department and trained with the St. Paul Police Department where she gained firsthand knowledge of law enforcement policies and procedures. She is the author of the Winnebago County Mysteries and Snow Globe Shop Mysteries. She wrote a collaborative novel, Rubicon Ranch, with eight other authors, has stories in six anthologies, and co-edited Festival of Crime for Nodin Press. Husom is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the National Sisters in Crime, and active with the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.

Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Wright County, Minnesota where my stories are set. I worked for the Wright County Sheriff and went through the St. Paul Police Academy. My experiences gave me a lot of “you can’t make this stuff up” ideas to craft my stories around. I write the medium-boiled Winnebago County Mysteries, and the cozy, but not too cozy, Snow Globe Shop Mysteries. Dan and I have been married for 46 years and are blessed with 4 children—2 are married—and 7 grandchildren. They are all live close enough to join us for Sunday dinners, nice!
Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
I was so excited when I learned to read because I finally had a means to get the stories out of my imagination and onto paper. My stories address things that are happening in our communities and the impact they have on people’s lives, i.e., a variety of crimes, the victims of those crimes, the psyches of criminals and what motivates them to do what they do, such as greed, power and control, and selfishness. My heart breaks for people who are victimized, especially children and the vulnerable. I feel compelled to give victims a voice, to tell their stories. And in a perfect world, to see that they are awarded the justice they deserve, but don’t always get. I’m committed to my faith, my family and my friends, and much of that works its way intrinsically into my writings.

Please tell us about your newest release
 Firesetter in Blackwood Township is the seventh book in the Winnebago County Mystery Series. There is a rash of barn fires in the county that Sergeant Corinne “Corky” Aleckson and Detective Elton “Smoke” Dawes are investigating. Corky has particular concerns because they’re happening in her rural township. Too close to home. The investigation ramps up when a body is found in one of the barns. Meanwhile, deputies are getting disturbing deliveries left on their doorsteps that raises the question of why they’re being targeted, and if there is a possible connection to firesetter. There are some exciting moments in the story that will set readers’ hearts a pounding.
What was the inspiration behind this story?
About twenty years ago, someone was setting barns on fires in our county, and firesetters have intrigued me for years. There are literally countless reasons people set fires. It may be to cover a crime, or to collect insurance money, or for revenge, or to be the responder hero. The list of motivators goes on. In fact, the more I researched, the more difficult it was for me to decide who my firesetter was. It took me some time to finally nail that character, but I was happy with who it turned out to be.

Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?
When I start mentally crafting a story, I know what the crime is, who the villain is, how the book begins, and how it needs to end. I also come up with a subplot. But I don’t always know the Winnebago County Sheriff’s personnel—aside from Corky and Smoke—will play a part, or what other characters may show up in the story. I’m often surprised at things my characters say and do, and how I weave the plot and subplot(s) together. I find the writing process a bit mystical.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I serve as a County Commissioner, and that’s fairly demanding. I volunteer for a number of organizations, and sing in the church choir. I have 40-50 author events a year—speaking at libraries, book clubs, and other groups; selling books at art and craft fairs; and doing author panels with the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I have little time to get into trouble.
Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
 I loved reading Charles Dickens as a teen. But William Shakespeare and Herman Melville were right up there. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCollough is the only book I’ve read more than once, except for the books I’ve read to my children and grandchildren hundreds of times.
Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?
Like many writers, I’d love to write the next great American novel. I have a number of unfinished main stream fiction novels stashed away in a suitcase, and one of these days, I hope to finish at least one of them. I’d also enjoy writing childrens’ stories.
Would you ever write a screenplay?
 That would be a fairly natural medium for me. When I’m writing, it’s as though I’m walking along side the characters, watching them, and listening to them speak. Dialogue is a key element in moving a story along, and vital in screenplays also.
What is the easiest part of writing in your opinion?
 Coming up with ideas for stories and creating characters.
What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?
 Having the patience to sit as long as it takes to develop the stories into full-length novels. On a long writing day I have to mix in some physical activity here and there.
 If you were in the witness protection program, what would you choose as a career?
That’s a good one. I’d change my genre and write under clever pseudonym.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
 Characters drive the plot. Writers need to know their characters well—their beliefs, how they act under stress, what’s important to them, who their friends are, what their best and worst memories are, their ambitions, etc.—and convey those traits. If characters don’t seem like real people to readers, the plot will be weakened.
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
 Check out www.christinehusom.com, Twitter: @christinehusom, Facebook.com/christine.husom, or email me at christinehusom@aol.com

Random Quickies!
Favorite book or author? Yeah we know it can be hard to choose! ;) I’ll say A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens so I don’t have to choose from among all my author friends J
Hardback/Paperback or eReader? All three.
Favorite color? Blue.
How many paperback/hardcover books do you own? Hundreds. I have a number of bookshelves full, and more in storage bins under a bed.
Do you own a laptop or desktop computer? Both, but I write on my PC.
What book are you reading today? Hard to Breathe by Tom Combs.
If you could live anywhere in the world it would be: Where I am in Buffalo, Minnesota.

Thanks for a great interview Christine!

Giveaway Time!
Christine will give one lucky commenter their choice of one of her Winnebago mysteries or her Snow Globe mysteries!

To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section below. (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!
 US entries only. Contest ends  midnight, September 27.




Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Guest Blogger - Annette Dashofy


My Slave Master, Kensi Kitty
By Annette Dashofy

USA Today bestselling author Annette Dashofy has spent her entire life in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by cattle and horses. When she wasn’t roaming the family’s farm or playing in the barn, she could be found reading or writing. She spent five years as an EMT on the local ambulance service, dealing with everything from drunks passed out on the sidewalk to mangled bodies in car accidents. These days, she, her husband, and their spoiled cat, Kensi, live on property that was once part of her grandfather’s dairy. Her Zoe Chambers mysteries have received three nominations for the Agatha Award: Best First Novel of 2014 and Best Contemporary Novel of 2015 and 2017. Cry Wolf (Henery Press, September 2018) is the seventh in the series.





I intended to turn over the blog-writing duties today to my cat, Kensi. However, being a typical cat, she blew me off, preferring to sit in the window and watch the birds.

Actually, I think she’s miffed at me. For starters, the suitcase is out. As I write this, I’m preparing to leave for Bouchercon in Florida. Kensi forbids me from traveling. Ever the task-master, she insists I stay tied to my desk writing, since putting out books is what pays for her cat food. In fact, the only time she gives me permission to leave my desk is when she’s hungry and wants fed.

If she had done as I asked and written this blog herself, she would tell you I am a terribly stupid human and very hard to train. She’ll order me to follow her to the kitchen, but I detour into the bathroom or in some other direction.

Kensi gets annoyed with me. Even more so when she suspects I know what she wants but am intentionally ignoring her.

The other reason she’s miffed at me is because I have two cats in my books and neither of them is her.

My protagonist, Zoe Chambers, owns (or is owned by) two orange tabbies, Jade and Merlin. They don’t solve crimes. They do cat stuff—providing soothing feline therapy, demanding food, shedding, causing some characters to have allergy attacks, demanding food…

Jade and Merlin are based on real cats I’ve owned (been owned by) but who have passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. Jade is my sweet Sammie Angel, who was my furry office assistant for years. Merlin is BooBoo Angel Kitty who was the biggest lovebug on the planet. Both of them left this earth shortly before I started writing the series. Putting them in the books has been my way of immortalizing them.

 Boo Boo Angel

Sammie Angel



None of which appeases Kensi.

One other thing has been bugging her lately. The title of my new book. Cry Wolf.

Wolf? WOLF?

In spite of my constant assurance that there are no wolves—four-legged, at least—in this book, Kensi still feels slighted. Yes, she gakked in my bed to punish me. She said I needed to wash my blankets anyway.



Friday, September 14, 2018

ROCCO welcomes Author Kathleen Ernst!






Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. Her Chloe Ellefson mysteries reflect the decade she spent as a curator at a large outdoor museum, and feature historic sites in the Upper Midwest.  Library Journal says, “Ernst keeps getting better with each entry in this fascinating series.” Kathleen has also written many mysteries for young readers.  Honors for her work include a LOVEY Award and Agatha and Edgar nominations.  Kathleen lives and writes in Wisconsin.


Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself? J 
I’m a full-time writer who’s passionate about historic places and artifacts and the stories they can tell.  I worked at an outdoor museum for twelve years, and have channeled my memories into the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries.  Chloe works as a curator at the same historic site, and travels to different sites and museums as the series progresses.  I’ve written many other books, but this series comes straight from the heart.

Otherwise…I was born on the east coast but have lived in Wisconsin for over 30 years, and love it.  What little spare time I can find is devoted to gardening, knitting, rosemaling, and getting outdoors.  My husband and I enjoy traveling to the kind of places I love writing about.

Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
I am enormously grateful to readers!  I dreamed of being a novelist from a young age, and I wrote novels for 20 years (yes, really) before getting my first book contract.  My newest book is my 37th, a number I find astonishing.  Readers make it possible for me to do what I love.  Thank you!

Please tell us about your newest release   
My new release is The Lacemaker’s Secret, the 9th Chloe Ellefson Mystery.  Here’s the official scoop:

Museum Curator Chloe Ellefson needs distraction from the unsettling family secret she's just learned. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, has been troubled for weeks and won't say why.
Chloe hopes a consulting job at Green Bay's Heritage Hill Historical Park, where an old Belgian-American farmhouse is being restored, will be a relaxing escape. Instead she discovers a body in a century-old bake oven.
Inspired by a courageous Belgian woman who survived cholera, famine, and the most devastating forest fire in American history, Chloe must untangle clues to reveal secrets old and new . . . before the killer strikes again.

I’m really excited about this one!

 What was the inspiration behind this story?
I’m fascinated by immigrant history (the museum where I once worked focused on the 19th-century immigrant experience) and most of the Chloe mysteries feature a particular ethnic group.  Doing a book about Belgian settlers had long been on my mental list.  Heritage Hill, a State Historical Park in Green Bay, includes a fabulous restored Belgian Farm.  Belgians are not one of the largest ethnic groups in Wisconsin, so their stories aren’t as well known as some.  They are compelling, though.

I often feature folk arts in the Chloe books.  Before I had a chance to do much research, I by chance met someone connected to the lace collection at the Smithsonian Institution.  She arranged a tour for me, and I was introduced to Belgian bobbin lace.  Not only was it an important industry for the country, it kept many impoverished girls and women fed.  I knew I wanted to include that art in the book. 

Tell us about your main character.
When the series began, Chloe Ellefson was starting a new job as curator at Old World Wisconsin and trying to recover from a bad breakup.  It’s been satisfying to have her create a new life for herself and gain her equilibrium again over the course of nine books.

Chloe is passionate about history too, especially digging out the stories of unknown women who might otherwise be forgotten.  She is a reluctant sleuth who would prefer not to engage in detective work, but in each mystery her knowledge of the past is essential to solving a crime.  She makes a good companion for Police Officer Roelke McKenna, who is a dedicated cop but has no background in history or museum work. 

Chloe is not afraid to speak up for what she believes is right—even if it means antagonizing her boss, Ralph Petty.  She can be a little impetuous but she has a good heart.

What is your favorite personality trait of your main character?
Chloe follows her passions and is willing to speak truth to power.  She’s also a bit braver than I would be in dicey situations!


What is your favorite personality trait of your villain?

A recurring villain is site director Ralph Petty.  Petty is the quintessential bad boss!  He’s described as a misogynistic micro-managing megalomaniac, and he is a perpetual problem for Chloe, who can’t quite bring herself to be as subservient as he wishes.

One of your characters is going on a shopping spree. Where does he/she go and what does he/she buy?
Chloe’s idea of a good shopping spree would be going to a farmers’ market and stocking up on fresh, local fruits and veggies.  She’s a vegetarian, and accomplished in historical and multi-ethnic cooking and baking.

Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?
I don’t outline, so to a certain extent I always encounter surprises when writing the books.  I start by thinking about where my main characters were emotionally at the end of the previous book, and where I want them to be at the end of the book I’m about to write.  I think about what settings and story ideas will reflect the struggle the characters will face.  Then I wade in and see where the characters and story take me.

How long did it take you to write this book?
I’m on a book-a-year schedule for the Chloe Ellefson series, although I sometimes work on other projects for other publishers simultaneously. I’m always planning ahead so I can plant appropriate seeds for future books.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)

Since there are indeed many wonderful books in the mystery world, I’ve tried to create something unique.  I write about topics and themes and places I care about.  My first job is to tell a good story, but readers tell me that they love learning something new in each installment.  The stories are character-driven, with a strong sense of place.  Chloe and cop Roelke McKenna grow and change in each mystery.  I hope they are strong enough characters to admire, but at times vulnerable enough to make readers care about their well being.

Most of the books include a strand of historical fiction, so readers actually learn more about the past than Chloe can do through her research.  And the books provide a glimpse of life behind the scenes in the museum world.

Is there an underlying theme in your book? If so, tell us about it and why/if it’s important to you.

In The Lacemaker’s Secret, the question of spiritual faith is considered by several characters.  Wisconsin’s Belgian immigrants were generally quite devout, but the trials they faced provided fictional strain for my main character in the historical timeline.

When the book opens Roelke is wrestling with a decision he made in the previous book, Mining For Justice—one that changes the way he feels about himself as a cop.  He doesn’t feel comfortable attending church…and yet, it just may be that a friendly priest can help him come to terms with his moral dilemma.

Roelke and Chloe are also dancing around the idea of getting engaged; the fact that Roelke was raised Catholic, and Chloe is more of a spiritual free soul, presents a challenge as well.

 Fiction can often provide powerful life lessons. What message do you hope readers get from your book?
I write about the past because I find the lives of so many of the people who have gone before us to be inspiring.  I’d love to think that some of my characters might inspire readers as well.

I also hope that the stories show that history matters; that historic places are important and that old objects can sometimes tell powerful stories. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from people who read a Chloe mystery and then felt compelled to visit the featured historic site or explore a topic further.

 Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
I often cite Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series as a major influence.  When I was a child in suburban Baltimore, her books delivered me to other times and places. (I had fun writing Death on the Prairie, the 6th book in the series, which has Chloe visiting each of the homesites dedicated to Wilder.)

 Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?
I’ve written quite a few historical novels for young readers, two nonfiction books, and some poetry—so obviously I enjoy different formats and different audiences.  I wish there were more hours in a day…

What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?
I love writing stories.  The business end of things can be challenging.

 What is your favorite part of writing?

Disappearing into my imagination; visiting fascinating places while doing research; meeting wonderful readers.

Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character!

What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Take the time to learn your craft.  Then learn about the publishing industry.  Believe in yourself and follow your dreams.

 Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Please visit me at kathleenernst.com; or join me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenernst.author/

Random Quickies!

Favorite kind of chocolate?
Dark, fair trade, preferably combined with peanut butter.

Cats or dogs?
Cats. (My name is ROCCO, and I approve this answer, meow!)

Do you read more than you write?
No, although I wish I could!  Deadlines are always looming.

Favorite movie?
I like historical dramas such as Glory, The Last of the Mohicans, Rob Roy, Foyle’s War, and Poldark (TV).

Favorite book to movie?
                  I’m a fan of Shetland, Inspector George Gently, and Longmire.


Thank you so much, Kathleen!

Giveaway time!


Kathleen will give away a copy of The Lacemaker’s Secret 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:


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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! US entries only please! Contest ends midnight, September 17!