Saturday, May 11, 2019

ROCCO interviews Kylie Logan!


MEOW!  My guest today is author Kylie Logan, aka Casey Daniels!

Kylie Logan has been reading and writing as long as she can remember.  Her newest book is “The Scent of Murder,” a mystery set in Cleveland that features a cadaver dog handler.  Kylie has also written the League of Literary Ladies mysteries and the Ethnic Eats mysteries.  As Casey Daniels, she writes the Pepper Martin mysteries about a cemetery tour guide who finds justice for the ghosts she meets on the job.  Kylie lives in a suburb of Cleveland with her husband and two dogs, Lucy, a rescue who grew up in a prison training program, and Eliot, a one-year-old Airedale who has never met anything that fits in his mouth that he doesn’t want  to eat.
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Welcome to the blog, Kylie!

Tell us a little about your background
I started writing back in the Stone Ages when my kids were little and I needed something to keep me busy (and make some money) while I stayed home with them.  My first books were historical romances and I’ve also written contemporary romance, young adult horror (great fun!), a childrens book and of course, now mysteries.  My newest book is “The Scent of Murder” and it’s a mystery, book #58 for me.

Tell us a bit about your latest book
“The Scent of Murder” is set in my hometown of Cleveland.  The heroine is Jazz Ramsey, a young woman who has volunteer work she’s passionate about—Jazz trains and handles cadaver dogs.  She’s putting a dog through its paces when she discovers the body of a young woman, once a student at the school where Jazz works. The lead detective on the case is Jazz’s former lover, and like it or not, Jazz is pulled into the mystery—and into the search for the truth.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I’m an outliner, definitely.  I’ve tried writing without and for me, that means total disaster.  I start with the basic idea and just do a sort of stream-of consciousness list, writing down anything I can think of.  The next day I go back to it and add.  And I do the same thing the next day and the next day and the next.  Eventually, I start chopping those blocks of ideas into chapters.  I don’t usually know how something’s going to happen in a book, but I know where it needs to happen.  For me, this allows me to write faster though I am by no means a fast writer.  I know where I’m going in the story.  I also think it helps because mysteries rely so much on logic, the story has to make sense, the clues have to follow one after the other.  So for me, outlining is the way to go.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I think the biggest challenge is the industry itself.  So much has changed since my first book was published in 1992!  If a writer wants to publish and wants to stayed published, I believe it’s imperative to stay agile.  As I mentioned, I started out in this business writing historical romances.  Then that subgenre got very erotic, and that wasn’t for me.  So I switched to contemporary romance.  Then to mystery because, honestly, those are the books I love the most. As for what keeps me motivated…this is my job, and it’s what I do.  I can’t imagine not writing!

Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Over the years, I’ve had six agents, and I won’t share all those stories!  I will say that it’s tough to get an agent.  I will also say that when a writer is looking for an agent, it’s important to remember that this is a business.  An agent will take you on if that agent thinks he/she can sell your work.  If you’re rejected, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an awful writer.  It does mean that particular agent doesn’t see your work as saleable.  Again, it’s all about being agile, all about knowing the markets, about what’s selling and what isn’t.  If you’re just writing for yourself (or to self-publish or to leave stories for your children and grandchildren to read), that’s another whole thing.  But if you want to traditionally publish and to stay traditionally published, you need to keep on top of the business.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’ve completed the second book in the Jazz Ramsey series.  It’s tentatively titled “The Secrets of Bones.”  I’m thinking it will have a 2020 release, but I don’t have confirmation on that yet.  In the meantime, I’ve started a new cozy series about a heroine who manages a woman’s club.  There’s an old speakeasy in the basement…and a ghost who hangs out there!  It’s light and funny and great fun to write.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
Writing is my fulltime job, so I’m in front of my computer most days, probably 5-6 hours a day at least.

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

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  . Depends what I’m doing, but probably day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Dog.  Definitely.
Beach or Pool?   pool
Steak or salad?  salad
Favorite Drink?  Wine, white, and not too sweet
Favorite Book?  Wow, that’s a hard one.  Too many to name!
Favorite TV Series?  Don’t watch much, but I have fond memories of Buffy
Favorite Movie?  Another tough one, though I do love “Casablanca.”
Favorite Actor:  Can’t say I have one though I do love the Brits, Branagh and Cumberbatch and Jeremy Brett among many others. 
Favorite Actress:  None I can think of
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Can it be a dirty martini?  And can I choose the vodka?  I’m definitely a vodka snob
Hawaii or Alaska?  I’ve never been to either and I’d like to see both, so no preference

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be … Dang, that’s a tough one!  Agatha Christie.  No, no…Arthur Conan Doyle.  No, wait . . . Eleanor of Aquitaine.  But then there’s . . .
If I had just one wish, it would be the end of all suffering, physical and mental.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one.  There’s an old saying, “The devil you know if better than the one you don’t know.”  So true.   Other peoples lives might look perfect from the outside, but we’re all dealing with stuff, maybe not the same stuff, but everyone has their own challenges.  I’ll just stick with my own stuff, thank you very much!

Thank you, Kylie

Kylie will give away a copy of “The Scent of Murder.”to one lucky commenter!


To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section.  The winner will be chosen at random by random.org.  US entries only, please! Contest ends midnight, May 23




Saturday, May 4, 2019

ROCCO'S MAY COZY REVIEWS!

Meow!  April Showers bring May flowers...and my cozy reviews, heh heh heh.


Starting off with one of my favorite series
SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING MEWED
Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery
BETHANY BLAKE
KENSINGTON
  • Publication Date: May 28, 2019
  • Five Stars\

Daphne Templeton’s sister Piper is getting married—and their mother is getting carried away. She insists on hiring Sylvan Creek’s top event planner, Abigail Sinclair, who proposes an Independence Day theme complete with Statue of Liberty-inspired bridesmaid dresses. With all the bickering among the families, Daphne’s glad her only duty right now is pet-sitting for Abby’s cat, Ms. Peebles. But there are some fireworks coming that aren’t part of the ceremony. The Poconos will never be the same . . .

At a tension-filled dress fitting, the abrasive wedding planner is found strangled by a garter—a weapon both borrowed and blue. Now Daphne’s services are required not just for organizing the big day, but for figuring out whether one of the in-laws is an outlaw .

This series has definitley grown on me.  I love the characters, the setting, and Daphe's penchant for getting into trouble.  also love the blossoming romance between Daphne and her detective boyfriend!  Now, all they need is a tuxedo cat!  Five Paws!!!


THE JEAN HARLOW BOMBSHELL
A Classic Star Bio Mystery
Midnight Ink
Mollie Cox Bryan
May 8, 2019
four 1/2 stars


Justine Turner is a world-famous biographer of Hollywood stars. She's also Charlotte Donovan's overbearing boss. So it comes as no surprise to Charlotte when Justine requests an emergency meeting related to her latest in-progress biography. It is a surprise, though, when Justine up and dies before their urgent discussion can begin.
In the wake of such a tragedy, all Charlotte wants to do is finish the Jean Harlow biography that Justine had started. Instead, she finds herself in grave danger—stalked both online and in person by a drop-dead Jean Harlow look-alike. Together with police sergeant Den Brophy, Charlotte uncovers shocking revelations. But will these revelations be enough to catch the killer?

I'm a lover of film bios and msteries, so this was a perfect marriage fo rme!  Definitely worth a read! four and a half stars!!


A DEADLY FEAST
A Key West Food Critic Mystery
Lucy Burdette
May 7, 2019
Crooked Lane
four and a half stars


Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancĂ©, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.

The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.

As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

Hayley Snow, everyones favorite food critic is back for another adventure.  This is one of hte better series, glad it was given a second life!  four and a half stars.

Murder She Wrote - Murder In Red
Jessica Fletcher/Jon Land
Berkley
May 28, 2019
Five Stars

Jessica Fletcher's favorite gin rummy partner, Mimi Van Dorn, checks into the brand-new Clifton Care Partners, a private hospital that's just opened up shop in town, for a simple procedure—one that leads tragically, and inexplicably, to her death. Seeking justice in her inimitable fashion, Jessica decides to pursue her own investigation on the hospital and its shadowy business dealings.

On the trail of what initially appears to be medical malpractice, Jessica digs deeper and learns her friend was actually a victim of something far more sinister. Death is bad for business, but murder is even worse, and Jessica will find plenty of both as she races to bring down Clifton Care Partners before someone else flatlines...

America's favorite sleuth is back for her 49th adventure! This time she's investigating the death of a friend at  a hospital (as if that wasn't scary enough!).  Land has done en excellent job of taking over the series from the late Donald Bain and making it his own.  The suspense has defintiely been ratcheted up over the last few books. Can't wait to see what's in store for number 50!  Jessica fans will not be disappointed.  Five stars.

DYING FOR DEVILS FOOD
Cupcake Bakery Mystery
Jenn McKinley
Berkley
May 8, 2019
four and one half stars


Melanie Cooper has zero interest in catering her fifteen-year high school reunion, but Angie insists it's only right that they bask in the success of Fairy Tale Cupcakes--and Mel's engagement to the delicious Joe DeLaura is the cherry on top!

Everything is going better than expected until Cassidy Havers, resident mean girl and Mel's high school nemesis, picks a fight. No longer willing to put up with Cassidy's bullying, Mel is ready to tell the former homecoming queen to shut her piehole and call it a night. But as Mel and Joe prepare to depart, Cassidy is found dead in the girl's bathroom, next to a note written in lipstick that points right to Mel--making her the prime suspect.

Now, Mel must follow the clues to find the real killer and keep her reputation from being frosted for a crime she didn't commit.

Another tasty entry in this well loved series. Four 1/2 stars.

MURDER ON TRINITY PLACE
Gaslight Mystery
Victoria Thompson
April 30, 2019
four Stars



The year of 1899 is drawing to a close. Frank and Sarah Malloy are getting ready to celebrate the New Year at Trinity Church when they notice Mr. Pritchard, a relative of their neighbor's behaving oddly and annoying the other revelers. Frank tries to convince Pritchard to return home with them, but the man refuses and Frank loses him in the crowd. The next morning Sarah and Frank are horrified to learn Pritchard was murdered sometime in the night, his body left on Trinity Place, the side street near the church.

The police aren't too interested in the murder, and the family are concerned that the circumstances of the death will reflect badly on Pritchard's reputation. To protect the family from scandal, Nelson asks Frank to investigate. Frank and Sarah delve into Pritchard's past and realize there may have been a deadly side to the dawning of the new century.

Historicals aren't my cup of tea but this series is a good one!  Victoria Thompson is an excellent storyteller! Four stars.

WIN ROCCO'S REVIEW COPY OF DYING FOR DEVIL'S FOOD!

To enter, leave a comment with your email address in our comments section. Comments with no email address will be disqualified.  US entries only, please.  Contest closes midnight, May 15!  Winner chosen at random using random.org.



Thursday, April 4, 2019

April Showers bring...ROCCO's cozy reviews!

Ma-Row! My cozy reviews for the month of April!

DEATH WAITS IN THE DARK
A Writer's Apprentice Mystery
Julia Buckley
April 2, 2019
Berkley Prime Crime
Four Stars


Lena London is back in her fourth adventure and better than ever!  this time out her friend and mentor, novellist Camilla Graham, needs some help!

It's summertime, and while Lena and Camilla are busy at work, a town vandal is running amok.  In the midst of this they get a visit from an old acquaintence of Camilla's hinting at a dark secret in Camilla's past, Lena assumes there is nothing to fear, since Camilla has nothing to hide, but guess again, Lena!  Turns out Camilla's husband had a family secret which the woman thretens to expose.  When the woman is found dead, they're convinced it's connected to the secret she was threatening to reveal.  Can Lena solve the mystery before the finger of suspicion points at Camilla?

Well, of course the answer to that question is yes, but not until Lena has some harrowing experiences.  A good addition to this series.  four stars.

AN ARTLESS DEMISE
A Lady Darby Mystery
April 2, 2019
Anna Lee Huber
Penguin
Four Stars


Lady Darby returns to London with her new husband, Sebastian Gage, but newlywed bliss won't last for long when her past comes back to haunt her in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

November 1831. After fleeing London in infamy more than two years prior, Lady Kiera Darby's return to the city is anything but mundane, though not for the reasons she expected. A gang of body snatchers is arrested on suspicion of imitating the notorious misdeeds of Edinburgh criminals, Burke and Hare--killing people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools. Then Kiera's past--a past she thought she'd finally made peace with--rises up to haunt her. 

All of London is horrified by the evidence that "burkers" are, indeed, at work in their city. The terrified populace hovers on a knife's edge, ready to take their enmity out on any likely suspect. And when Kiera receives a letter of blackmail, threatening to divulge details about her late anatomist husband's involvement with the body snatchers and wrongfully implicate her, she begins to apprehend just how precarious her situation is. Not only for herself, but also her new husband and investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, and their unborn child. 

Meanwhile, the young scion of a noble family has been found murdered a block from his home, and the man's family wants Kiera and Gage to investigate. Is it a failed attempt by the London burkers, having left the body behind, or the crime of someone much closer to home? Someone who stalks the privileged, using the uproar over the burkers to cover his own dark deeds?

THE DIVA SWEETENS THE PIE
Krista Davis
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Kensington (April 30, 2019)
  • Publication Date: April 30, 2019
  • Four Stars



Everyone's favorite diva returns in a new adventure!

Nothing heats up Old Town quite like the annual Pie Festival, and this year is no exception, especially since Sophie’s professional rival, Natasha Smith, is barred from participating. Sophie, meanwhile, has been asked to oversee the pie eating contest. But the drama really rolls out when celebrity judge, Patsy Lee Presley, host of television’s most popular cooking show, bites the crust during the competition, and Sophie’s friends are suspected of the crime. 

As the folks of Old Town dish, the tough truth about Patsy’s meteoric rise to domestic stardom begins to leak. It turns out that Patsy’s sweet exterior hid a secret sour side, which alienated many of her closest allies, including a jilted ex-husband, a bitter ex-mentor, and a jaded ex-best friend. With the festival falling apart, and her friends in danger of being boxed up for murder, Sophie must cobble together the clues and stop a flakey fiend from serving up any more deadly desserts.


this has always been one of my favorite series. Love to see Sophie and the gang delve into sleuth mode!
four stars!

KNIT ONE, DIE TWO
Knit and Nibble mystery
Peggy Ehrhardt
Kensington
April 30, 2019



Knit and Nibble’s numbers are growing! In addition to a litter of adorable kittens, the knitting club just welcomed their newest member, Caralee Lorimer, who’s learning to knit for her upcoming role in A Tale of Two Cities. According to the amateur actress, the behind-the-scenes drama at the theater is getting downright catty, and Caralee wants a reckoning for Arborville’s pretentious suburbanites. Her claws are out, and just like her character in the play, Caralee is ready to name names. But before she can finish her snitchy stitches, Caralee is killed in a suspicious theater accident. Someone thinks they’ve staged a perfect murder, but Pamela and her Knit and Nibblers are ready to pounce on the real killer . . . before it’s curtains for anyone else!

An entertaining new series! Definitely worth a look.  Four stars.

LIGHTS CAMERA PUZZLES
A Puzzle Lady Mystery
Parnell Hall
Pegasus Books
April 2, 2019
Four Stars


It’s no surprise when Cora Felton’s ex-husband’s sensational tell-all memoir, Confessions of a Trophy Husband: My Life with the Puzzle Lady, is optioned for the movies, but it certainly raises eyebrows when the Puzzle Lady herself signed on as an associate producer. Cora explains gamely that she hoped to have some control over the project. The truth is that she needs the money.  
Now Cora is filming her life story on location in New York City, and things couldn’t be worse. She doesn’t like the script, she doesn’t like the director, and she absolutely hates the actress who is playing her in the movie. It’s almost a relief when the first dead body shows up on the set. If only it didn’t come with a crossword puzzle . . .


THREAD ON ARRIVAL
Lea Wait
  • Series: A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery (Book 8)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (April 30, 2019)
  • Four Stars

Ike Hamilton is a part of the Haven Harbor community just like anyone else, though he’s fallen on hard times and has to make do on disability checks and deposit bottles. Most of the locals do what they can to help him out, and needlepointing partners Angie and Sarah are happy to see him at the annual Blessing of the Fleet, honoring all those lost at sea over the centuries.

But when harmless Ike is stabbed, suspicion quickly falls on a troubled teenage boy who’s new in town. Angie’s convinced that young Leo is innocent—but if he didn’t do it, who did? Turns out Ike may have appeared simple-minded, but he knew a few secrets that someone might have murdered him to keep quiet. Angie sets out to trace Ike’s bottle-collecting route to find out what he witnessed—and for this killer, there may be no redemption . . .


WIN ROCCO'S REVIEW COPY OF DEATH WAITS IN THE DARK!

To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section.  Winner will be chosen using random.org.  US entries only, please! Contest ends midnight, April 15th. Good luck!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

ROCCO'S MARCH COZY REVIEWS! FEATURING LAURA CHILDS BROKEN BONE CHINA

If it's March, it must be time for my cozy reviews, MEOW!

SPOTLIGHT REVIEW
BROKEN BONE CHINA
A Tea Shop Mystery
Laura Childs
Berkley
March 5, 2012
Five Paws

Laura Childs delivers in the twentieth instalment of her popular tea shop mystery series.  Theodosia and Drayton are catering at a hot air balloon rally when a drone invades the festivities.  It causes a balloon to fall, killing the three passengers.  When Theodosia learns one of the passengers was a CEO of a local software company, she suspects foul play.  The list of suspects seems endless, including the fiancee of one of Theo's best friends.

the charm of this series is following Theodosia investigate with the help of her faithful sidekicks, Drayton and Haley.  Theo always manages to get herself in danger (and destroy an outfit) but gets out in the nick of time.  A true "thrillzie" series that never seems to run out of steam. Five Paws!


MRS JEFFRIES DELIVERS THE GOODS
A Victorian Mystery
Emily Brightwell
Berkley
March 12, 2019
Four Paws

the 37th instalment in this popular series finds a member of Inspector Witherspoon's staff attending a ball when tragedy hits the dance floor.  Stephen Bremmer goes into spasms, and it doesn't take long before everyone realizes the man's been poisoned.  the victim was an arrogant member of hte upper class with few friends and a boatload of enemies.  Witherspoon and his household are tasked with fiding the killer, no easy feat.  an enjoyable read.  Four Paws!


PLUM TEA CRAZY
Paperback edition
Laura Childs
February 26, 2019
Five Paws

Theodosia witnesses a local banker fall to his death, then discovers the man was shot with a bolt from a crossbow.  At the request of the mansion owner, Theo investigates and is soon up to her neck in suspects, all of which had motives to off the banker.  Five Paws.

Something Read, Something Dead
Lighthouse LIbrary Mystery
Eva Gates
Crooked Lane Books
March 13, 2019
Four Paws


Winter falls on North Carolina’s Outer Banks as Lucy Richardson and her friends joyfully help her favorite cousin, Josie O'Malley, plan her wedding. The owner and head baker of Josie's Cozy Bakery and her fiancĂ©, chef Jake Greenblatt, want a small, simple wedding.

But to their horror, Josie's imperious grandmother, Gloria, descends with the “Louisiana Mafia”: a gaggle of aunts and cousins who intend to take control of the wedding plans. Gloria doesn't do small and simple, and cousin Mirabelle has her own ideas for Josie's wedding, something grand and lavish—and paid for by Josie's parents, of course—that will kickstart her fledgling event planning business and get her work shown on the covers of wedding magazines. To make matters worse, Mirabelle focuses her full Southern charm on the prospective groom…and Jake doesn't seem entirely adverse to her attentions.

To smooth the waters, Lucy hosts a bridal shower at the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library. But it turns deadly when Mirabelle collapses—soon after eating the gluten-free treats Josie prepared specifically for her. Now, to save her favorite cousin from prison, Lucy will have to bring a crook to book in this fifth festive Lighthouse Library mystery from national bestselling author Eva Gates.  Excellent entry in this popular series. Four paws.


CAT GOT YOUR CROWN
Julie Chase
Crooked Lane Books
March 13, 2019
Four Paws


Lacy Marie Crocker can hardly believe it’s been a year since her return home to New Orleans. There hasn’t been a dull moment since opening her pet boutique last summer, and thanks to the popularity of Lacy’s organic pet treats, and the arrival of the National Pet Pageant, Lacy desperately needs some help before she is overrun by the demand for pupcakes and crinolines.

The entire Garden District seems to be counting the minutes until opening night of the pet pageant and everything is going spectacularly until Viktor Petrov, the pageant emcee takes a spill from the balcony during dress rehearsal. All signs points to murder and homicide detective Jack Oliver sets his eyes on Eva Little, one of Lacy’s committee sisters and the only other person on the balcony at the time of the fall, as the killer. But when it comes out that Viktor was notoriously rude, the doors blow wide open with potential suspects who could’ve wanted him dead.

an entertaining read. Four paws.


Laura Childs has offered to give a copy of BROKEN BONE CHINA to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section. winner will be chosen at random by random.org.  US entries only please! Contest end  March 17, midnight.







Saturday, March 2, 2019

ROCCO INTERVIEWS AUTHOR ALEXIS MORGAN!

ME-OW!

TODAY my guest is author Alexis Morgan!



USA Today Best-selling author Alexis Morgan graduated from the University of Missouri—St. Louis, with a B.A. in English. She is the author of over forty novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres. Death by Committee is her first cozy mystery.


  1. Tell us a little about your background
I grew up near St. Louis, Missouri, and attended the University of Missouri—St. Louis. My husband and I decided we wanted to live near mountains and moved to the Seattle area. We’ve lived there ever since. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs over the years, but I’ve been a fulltime writer for more than a decade now. My writing partner is a blue and white parakeet named Nimbus, who luckily shares my tasted in music. I also have two grand-bulldogs. They are very proud of the fact that they served as the inspiration for Zeke, the mastiff-mix in my first cozy mystery.
  1. Tell us a bit about your latest book
After a rough divorce, Abby McCree only wants a little time to tie up a few loose ends and then move on. But other problems appear after her elderly Aunt Sybil passes away, leaving Abby to tend to a rundown estate complete with a slobbery dog of questionable pedigree, a sexy tenant who growls more than the dog does, and one dead body buried in the backyard.
  1. How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
The first step is having my character try on a few different names until I find one that fits the image of him/her that I have in my mind. Once that is settled, I work on the routine things—age, hair color, hair style, height, and favorite kind of clothing. For the major characters, I also look for a picture I can use for inspiration. After that, all of those details go into a spreadsheet I create for each book and/or series. With the basics in place, I go on to figure out the character’s family history, job, and how they came to be where they are when the story begins. That’s always a moment when the main character’s life is about to change in a significant and powerful way. For example, Abby McCree has gone through a divorce and then recently moved to a new town to live in the house she inherited from her late aunt. As powerful as those two events are, finding a dead body in the backyard is really what alters her life’s trajectory forever. As the character struggles to deal with the situation, I let him or her tell me what helps them cope. In Abby McCree’s case, she heads to the kitchen to bake goodies for her dog, her tenant, and her friends.
  1. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I would have to say I’m closer to the “seat of your pants” end of the spectrum because I don’t do a lot of detailed plotting in advance. I usually start off with a very bare bones idea, often a single scene, and a vague idea of where the story will begin and end. Then I meet up with romance writer Janice Kay Johnson, my brainstorming partner, to bounce ideas back and forth until I have filled in some of the details. The two of us have been working together like this for longer than either of us care to admit, and we each bring different strengths to the process. While I’m pretty good at coming up with reasons why a character will act in a certain way, she’s the one who helps me delve beneath the surface to identify the underlying emotions that really drive the story. For sure, we’ve created a lot of plots over burgers and fries at our favorite restaurant. After that, I write an eight to twelve page synopsis that hits the highlights of the plot. When I have that done, I try out different opening paragraphs for the story using paper and my favorite pen (an EnerGel pen with violet ink.) It’s only after I’ve got that nailed down that I sit at the computer and start typing.

5. Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I was at a major writers’ conference and really bummed when my books didn’t arrive for the big book signing. In an effort to cheer me up, a friend invited me to dinner. On the way out of the ballroom, we happened to run into her agent, Michelle Grajkowski of the 3 Seas Literary Agency, who decided to join us. I wasn’t actively looking for an agent at that point, which made it easy to relax and get to know Michelle. After that chance meeting, she and I ran into each other constantly at the conference. We even joked about who was stalking whom. A few months later, I was still writing American West historical romances, but I was hoping to transition to writing paranormals. I thought an agent would be able to help with that process, so I decided to query Michelle. We had a long talk on the phone about my future plans. That was more than fifteen years ago, and we’re still working together. She’s been there for me every step of the way, cheering me on and helping me achieve my dreams.  

6. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
      I’ve been working on the third book in the Abby McCree Mystery series, which will be out next year. The second book, Death by Jack-o’-Lantern is already in production and will be released early this fall. Meanwhile, Abby keeps whispering other story ideas in my ear, and I’m taking notes like crazy.
7. If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
      1. Written in Red by Anne Bishop. It’s the first book in her series about the Others, and I love the amazing world she’s created.
      2. Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh. I love all of her Psy-Changeling books, but this one is my favorite.
      3. The Last Victim by Karen Robards. It’s a great mystery about a psychiatrist who studies serial killers. She learns more than she ever expects to from an unexpected source—the ghost of one of her former subjects.
8. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Read, read, read! Both in the genre you intend to write, but also in other genres. It’s well worth the time to analyze what it is that really draws you as a reader into a particular story and keeps you riveted right up to “The End.” Also, it’s really important to surround yourself with a group of friends who will genuinely celebrate your victories and support you when things don’t go well.   
9. Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Twitter: @Alexis_Morgan

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Dogs, because I have two granddogs who wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t pick them. They are both bulldogs. 
Beach or Pool?  Beach
Steak or salad?  Steak
Favorite Drink?  Mocha Frappuccino
Favorite Book? Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Favorite TV Series?  I recently discovered The Dr. Blake Mysteries and have watched several seasons of episodes. It’s a murder mystery series set in Australia several years after World War II.
Favorite Movie?  My go-to movie when I need to laugh and relax is The Penguins of Madagascar.
Favorite Actor: Jeremy Renner
Favorite Actress:  Scarlett Johansson
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 J. R. R. Tolkien. His Lord of the Rings trilogy has influenced so many other writers, myself included. I would love to talk to him about how he built that amazing world.
If I had just one wish, it would be to see one of my books made into a movie.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be a talk show host because they get to meet so many interesting people from different walks of life.

Thanks for a great interview, Alexis!

COVER COPY of DEATH BY COMMITTEE
When Abby McCree suddenly inherits her favorite relative’s property in small town Snowberry Creek, Washington, she soon realizes that the ramshackle home comes with strings attached—one of which is tied to a dead body!

After a rough divorce, Abby McCree only wants to stitch up her life and move on. But other loose ends appear after her elderly Aunt Sybil passes away, leaving Abby to tend to a rundown estate, complete with a slobbery Mastiff of questionable pedigree and a sexy tenant who growls more than the dog. As Abby gets drawn into a tight-knit quilting guild, she makes a twisted discovery—Aunt Sybil’s only known rival is buried in her backyard!

Despite what local detectives say, Abby refuses to accept that her beloved aunt had anything to do with the murder. While navigating a busy social calendar and rediscovering the art of quilting, she launches an investigation of her own to clear Aunt Sybil’s name and catch the true culprit. The incriminating clues roll in, yet Abby can’t help but wonder—can she survive her new responsibilities in Snowberry Creek and still manage to patch together a killer’s deadly pattern without becoming the next victim?

Alexis  will give away an autographed copy of Death by Committee to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment with your e-mail address in our comments section.  Winner will be selected by random.org.  US entries only please. Contest ends  midnight, March 9.