Monday, October 31, 2011

Closing out our October KNTR fundraiser - Contest Winners!

Firstoff, can you believe it! Snow here in October...thank god our town was not hit hard - at least where the Human and I live.  Amazing....

On behalf of all the authors, I wish to thank everyone who participated in the Halloween Anthology Fundraiser...and a special thanks to Barbra Annino for asking "The Human" to be a part of it! All these authors are fantastically talented, it was a pleasure to interview them and get to know them - and get fodder for new reading material, Heh Heh.

Denise Gary, Director of KNTR, also has a special word for our authors:

All of us at Kids Need to Read have had such a fun time participating in this creative project! We would like to express our sincere thanks to the twelve contributing authors and Amanda Hocking for creating EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED and choosing Kids Need to Read as the beneficiary. A very special cat scratch goes to the debonaire Rocco for his many posts and interviews on behalf of the book. We think his human, Toni LoTempio, is super fantastic, too! We are so grateful to the folks who are supporting the cause of childhood literacy through the purchase of EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED. Every child deserves access to great books, and to be provided with the ability to read and a chance to succeed. Not only can reading enrich their lives beyond measure but reading the right book at the right time can change their lives forever. We thank you all for helping us to provide children and adolescents with a vital component to life success.

Most gratefully,

Denise Gary

Meow!  On behalf of everyone, you are most welcome, Denise!
and now....drumroll please! Contest Winners!

One in each category, so there are four
monica dot welham @gmail dot com

Fillion Fanatic and Monica will also receive an autographed photo of moi!  Watch your inboxes for the email!

Folks, it has been a pleasure to host these interviews spotlighting the Halloween anthology to benefit Kids Need to Read! I'll be taking a day or two off to rest my paws and then....a bit late, but my tribute to my all time favorite SCARY movie plus...the Human birthday!  heh heh heh.

And dont' can buy EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED all year long! Proceeds will always beneifit the charity!  (Christmas is coming........I've got to make my list! A BROWNCOAT is at the top!)

Meowingly yours,


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Setting the record straight...contest news!

Meow! I've had some people emailing us that there are already answers up....yeah, well, that's the idea! Do we know if they are correct?  Not yet.  So even though answers are already up, you should post your entries....becasue we are going to randomly select the three winners from ALL THE CORRECT ENTRIES SUBMITTED.

That means if we get twenty correct entries for Question 1, we randomly draw the winner from them.  Thirty from Question two, we draw the winner from that pool...and so on.  the three questions are a separate pool....they have to answer ALL correctly and then will be placed in a separate drawing, and ALL will get an autographed photo of ROCCO (if the answers are all correct!)

So, hope that clears everything up. Would not want to keep anyone from entering!~  MEOW, GET GOING. IT CLOSES MIDNIGHT TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!

We shall have our final posting on this fundraiser Monday, and then announce the contest winners....after that, I'm taking a little paws are SOOOOO tired!  but next week I will post my very favorite Halloween movie!  So stay tuned.....


Friday, October 28, 2011

ROCCO salutes KNTR co-founders PJ Haarsma and Nathan a contest!

 Since we’ve been spotlighting authors for EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED in support of the charity, KIDS NEED TO READ, I thought my post today should spotlight the charity and two of its three co-founders:  actor Nathan Fillion and author PJ Haarsma. (the third founder and director, Denise Gary, was interviewed by me on October 14th – check my archives if you missed it, meow!)
Reading  is the single most important skill children must learn to be productive members of society. Books open their minds, inspire their imaginations and stimulate their intelligence. As budget cutbacks increase, funding for libraries is often the first thing to go, especially in failing school systems. There are great numbers of schools that have been unable to buy new books for their students to read in years. Kids Need to Read was established to fight this disaster by sending exciting new books to underfunded schools and libraries across the United States, as well as to other organizations that provide literacy support to children, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

I interviewed Denise Gary on October 14.  Now it's time to spotlight the other two co-founders.
Born March 27, 1971, Fillion grew up the son of English teachers in Alberta, Canada. He attended Concordia University College of Alberta and the University of Alberta where he became active in local theater, especially improv comedy, and performed with the Rapid Fire Theater Company. He made his screen debut in the 1993 ABC TV movie, "Ordeal in the Arctic," a disaster drama filmed in Edmonton. Ironically, Fillion was performing regularly with the improvised soap opera show, "Die Nasty," when he landed a cast role on a real life soap opera, "One Life to Live." Fillion relocated to New York and for three years played the role of Joey Buchanan, son of the show's heroine Victoria, who endured uniquely precarious situations including a forbidden romance with the decades older Dorian, his mother's arch nemesis. The program showcased not only the husky-voiced actor's leading man potential, but his humor and affability as he more than capably handled both the requisite melodramatic scenes and lighthearted comic ones. For his efforts, he garnered a 1996 Daytime Emmy nomination as Outstanding Younger Leading Man.
Fillion made the move to features after he left the soap, heading to Hollywood where he snared a memorable cameo in Steven Spielberg's hard-hitting World War II drama "Saving Private Ryan" (1998).  He then put his skills to use in the recurring role of Johnny Donnelly, the likable jukebox repairman boyfriend of Traylor Howard's Sharon, on the ABC sitcom "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (ABC, 1998-2000). In 2002, Fillion was recruited by Joss Whedon to star in Fox's "Firefly" as Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, the cynical, seemingly mercenary captain of the spaceship Serenity in the futuristic space opera that drew more inspiration from classic Westerns than typical sci-fi. The show managed to garner a devoted following, but not enough to keep it on the air. Whedon held on to Fillion, giving him a recurring role as Caleb, the final villain faced by the Slayer on the final season of "Buffy." Fillion became a big screen leading man in 2006 with his starring role in James Gunn's horror-comedy hybrid, "Slither" (2006), and the following year enjoyed glowing reviews for "Waitress" (2007), in which he co-starred as a doctor who falls in love with a pregnant patient who is enduring an abusive marriage. That fall he was cast in a brief role as Katherine Mayfair's ex-husband, Dr. Adam Mayfair, on the campy Sunday night mainstay "Desperate Housewives".   
Re-teaming with Whedon, Fillion starred as a villainous superhero in "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" (2008) a 45-minute web-only musical movie that earned a great deal of Internet buzz and a People's Choice Award for Best Web Sensation. In the spring of 2009, Fillion returned to the network that gave him his start to star as a novelist who joins forces with a detective (Stana Katic) to solve mysteries in the romantically-tinged series "Castle."  In 2007 he teamed with his friend, PJ Haarsma, and Denise Gary to form KIDS NEED TO READ, a non-profit organization that concentrates its efforts on supplying reading materials to disadvantaged areas.

PJ Haarsma! (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Philip-Jon (PJ) Haarsma was born on June 5, in Ontario, Canada.  He moved to the US in l989 where he worked as a fashion and commercial photographer.  Haarsma owned a small production company called Redbear Films, Inc. which focused mainly on advertisements.  At 38, Haarsma decided to keep a daily journal, writing about anything and everything that came to his mind – and thus Johnny T, the main character in his Softwire series, was born.  Haarsma chose to give The Softwire a sci-fi setting due to a love of science fiction, and to target a young adult audience with his novels so that children could discover and learn to enjoy the genre.[6][7]
The Softwire is actually a story that Haarsma began imagining in his childhood.[8] As a teenager, he worked at his parents' ceramic factory during the summers, hauling fifty pound molds around in the extreme heat of a kiln room. To Haarsma, it felt similar to what the children of his books might feel as slaves. In addition to these experiences, there is a more prominent influence on the premise of The Softwire—that is, there is a mystery of a journey to a new, unknown place to start a new life. Growing up, Haarsma dreamed himself of moving to the United States; and in his twenties, he actually did. While there, living in New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Haarsma witnessed immigrants struggling to get by. He tried to imagine what caused them to risk everything, and to move to another country, and to have a chance at something better. It is this journey (and struggle) that is prevalent in The Softwire.[7]
In The Softwire, a group of human children are orphaned in outer space. They are forced into indentured servitude on the Rings of Orbis, four planet-like rings around a wormhole. They must spend four years as slaves or knudniks before they are eligible to become Citizens. Each year they are the property of a new owner on a separate ring: Orbis 1, Orbis 2, Orbis 3, and Orbis 4. They are forced into labor to do whatever task their new owner requires.  Haarsma's novels are accompanied by a free, online, role-playing game called Rings of Orbis[11] which acts as a visual companion to the books and is set in the same universe. Players are sometimes required to use information from the books in order to solve puzzles and to unlock areas within the game.[12] Pairing a video game with a novel for young readers, Haarsma says, “brings the book into their world, as opposed to going the other way around.”
While speaking at schools across the United States, Haarsma noticed how some school librarians were having trouble finding funds to purchase The Softwire books after a demand had been created by Haarsma's visit. Many of the librarians were struggling to fill their shelves with books. In June 2007, Haarsma and a friend, actor Nathan Fillion, approached a group of Fillion's fans (NathanNation, headed by Denise Gary)  with the idea for a project that would work to purchase books for underfunded schools, as well as nonprofit institutions which gave books directly to children. The group took to the idea and focused their energies into getting the project off the ground. The Kids Need to Read project went public in August 2007.
Meow!  Hope these little snippets have whetted your appetite to learn more about the charity the anthology is benefitting, KIDS NEED TO READ!
More info on PJ and Nathan Fillion can be found at Wikipedia and IMDB
For  more info on Kids Need to Read and their programs, visit

To see the anthology on the KNTR website, visit:
Read this great article on KNTR here:

And now….our contest!
Three lucky people will have a chance to win a copy of EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED!
Below are three questions pertaining to our group of authors! All you have to do, kitties, is choose ONE and answer it correctly!  Respond to this post in the comments section with the question and your answer (and an email address where we can contact you).  We will choose three lucky winners at random from the correct answers submitted to win a free e-copy of EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED!
And just for fun, a bonus – answer all three correctly and you will get an autographed photo of – oh, yes – ME, ROCCO THE SCI FI BLOGGING CAT!
So, what are you waiting for?  Start answering those questions!  Contest closes midnight, Sunday, October 30 – winners to be announced on Halloween!


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today a much anticipated interview… me, anyway! The HUMAN sits in my hotseat!
The Human would be author Toni Lotempio, of course! (and the person who thinks she owns me, but we all know the truth, heh heh)

For those of you who don’t know her, here’s a bit about Toni LoTempio, aka “THE HUMAN!”...
Born in New York City, Toni began writing at an early age. In 1995, she joined the staff of SUSABELLA
PASSENGERS AND FRIENDS, where she has been a staff reporter for 10 years, winning their Margaret Sutton Award for Distinguished Writing in 1998. Always fascinated by the supernatural, her favorite tv show growing up was DARK SHADOWS. Her taste in literature leans toward a mix of horror, UF and thriller, as evidenced by her favorite authors: Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Charlaine Harris and James Patterson. Several of her earlier horror tales (Ebony, Witch’s Pawn) were published by Whiskey Creek Press and Echelon Press, and she entered into the indie e-book market with NO REST FOR THE WICCA, which has received excellent reviews and been on Amazon’s top 100 in Occult fiction for the past 35 weeks.  This was followed by RAVEN’S KISS, and a YA fantasy, MY SUPERHERO SISTER, as well as shorts in two anthologies:  KISS ME, KILL ME and EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED.
Toni lives in Clifton, New Jersey with her four cats and is currently working on many more books!  Toni enjoys hearing from fans, who may reach her at, or via her website,  She is most active, however, on her cat Rocco’s blog, The blog features news on upcoming releases, as well as interviews with authors, agents, editors, etc.

And now, drumroll please….presenting…THE HUMAN!
R: Hello, Human – ah, Toni. Welcome to the hotseat.
T: Hello, Rocco. So you finally managed to get me here, eh?

R: Yes, heh heh. But I promise to be kind. Maybe. So, to begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your books?  And your short story in EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED?
T: Don’t mind if I do, Rocco.  I’ve been writing pretty much my entire life, but I only seriously started to write with an eye toward publication in 2000.  I started out writing horror and mysteries, and had a few published by small presses.  (Ebony, Witch’s Pawn) Last year, on the advice of author HP Mallory, I decided to try indie publishing, and I’ve been encouraged with the response my three books have gotten so far.  No Rest for the Wicca, the first one indie published, almost made it to the Big Six in another life but fell short.  It’s the story of Morgan Hawkes, a girl with psychic powers caught between two worlds – her mother was a wiccan witch, her father a voodoo boko.  A tragedy in her career left her bitter and unsure of her abilities, but when she’s forced to join forces with a hot Inheritor Vampire to solve a rash of serial killings of witches, she finally begins to break out of her shell. My short in EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED is a continuation of Morgan’s story, a little adventure she has before starting her new job as a special agent.

R: Interesting.  Are you planning any sequels to the indie books you already have out?
T: Well, the outline for the sequel to WICCA is written, but I haven’t had time to actually sit down and write that one yet, so that’s why I chose to give Morgan an adventure in EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED.  Right now I’m working on a novella follow up to my second novel, RAVEN’S KISS, which I hope to have out Dec –Jan. and I’ve also been asked if there will be a sequel to MY SUPERHERO SISTER.  I’m juggling a lot of balls right now, so to speak.  R: Yeah, well, don’t drop any. You know how I love ballies!

R:  How did you become involved with the charity, KIDS NEED TO READ?
T:  Well, I wanted to do something to ‘pay it forward’ as the saying goes, and I wanted it to be a charity that either dealt with children or animals. I did an internet search and Kids Need To Read came up, so I went over to their website. I’m not ashamed to admit that when I discovered Nathan Fillion, my favorite actor, was one of the co-founders along with PJ Haarsma and Denise Gary it really sparked my interest.  I contacted Denise Gary, the Director, and asked her about doing fundraisers – and I’ve been an active supporter ever since.  Ideally I like to try and get involved in some sort of fundraiser once a year, plus support them in other ways – mentioning other things they have going on the blog, facebook, etc. I’ve also donated print copies of my YA fantasy, MY SUPERHERO SISTER, to them and I plan on doing the same next year with my next YA paranormal. DEMONS AND FIRE. (get a sneak peek at the cover at the end of this interview - done by the lovely and talented Jeff Taormina!)

As an author, we depend on readers to make us successful. If people can’t read – we’re nowhere.  And illiteracy is a big problem in the US, believe it or not. I know quite a few adults who cannot read or who simply do not want to read. I think Kids Need To Read is an important group in the sense that it tries to promote reading as something fun and valuable, not something to be dreaded. I also like the idea that they supply books to libraries that are underfunded and can’t afford to provide kids with good material.

R: Very true – and Friday we will spotlight this charity, as well as its co-founders, Nathan Fillion and PJ Haarsma, right here on the blog! (the third co-founder and Director, Denise Gary, was spotlighted in an interview on October 14.)

R: What do you do when you are not writing?
T:  When would that be exactly, Rocco?  I write more than I breathe LOL.  But in whatever spare time I have, it’s probably feeding you and your brother and sisters.

R:  Yes, we do require a lot of food, heh heh.
T:  Yes, some of you do. One cat I can think of in particular.

R:  Yeah, Maxx…Trixie…Gata…boy can those old ladies eat!
T:  No, no and no…and be nice!

R: Moving on…How long does it take you to finish a book?
T:  Well, since I have a full time job, most of my writing gets done on the weekends – if I’m really on a roll, I’ll write for an hour or two after work.  So on the whole, from outline to finish, between 3-4 months for one book. Ideally, I like to get 2 or 3 out a year.  I’d love to sit even longer at the computer, but back problems prevent those 6-8 hour writing marathons I did when I was younger LOL

R: What do you find is the biggest challenge in writing/publishing as an indie author?  
T: Definitely getting the word out – after all, I don’t employ a team of publicists – unless you want to volunteer, Rocco?  And editing – I confess, I’m not good at finding my own mistakes.

R: Would you ever attempt to go the traditional agent/publisher route again?
T: Absolutely! I feel it’s important to reach both markets – besides which, I confess I’m old fashioned. I want to hold my book, my baby in my hand LOL.  I had an agent back in 2008, and we had some close calls with two of my manuscripts – then I stopped searching for a while, but just this year I signed with a fabulous agent, Josh Getzler of Hannigan Salky Getzler in New York. Right now he’s shopping my latest UF novel around.

R:  Great! Any hints you can give us?
T:  It’s action packed, with the kind of supernatural creatures you love – and that’s all I’ll say right now. 

R: Which of your series/characters do you enjoy writing the most?
T: Um, I’m fond of all of them, when you live with them for 3-4 months they tend to grow on you.  Right now I’d have to say Gillian and Jericho – the ones in the novel my agent’s shopping.  I’m also fond of Autumn and Logan – two from another novel that was an “almost” at NAL.  I’m still undecided what to do with them – they refuse to be shelved, so I just may indie-pub them next year. We’ll see.

R: Are you a pantser or a plotter?
T: A little bit of both, I’m afraid. I start out with an outline but the finished product rarely ends up looking anything like what I start out with.  It’s wherever the muse takes me.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing?
T:  Soft music playing and a fat cat on my lap – or rather, a fat cat trying to eat the computer wires, play with the keyboard, fight with his siblings, stick his head in the garbage pail, jump on top of my printer…I can go on and on.

R: Moving on…Since you listen to music while you write, who’s on your playlist?
T:  I like Barry Manilow and Michael Buble and Cher – even some Lady Gaga. Pretty diverse, right? I also enjoy listening to the soundtrack from Phantom of the Opera, and right now I have the soundtrack from Music and Lyrics on my CD player. Who knew Hugh Grant could sing?

R: What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given? What would you say to someone just starting out?
T:  This business is so slow and subjective – you just can’t give up.  You just have to keep on writing. What one likes another doesn’t, etc. When it’s the right time, and it’s meant to be, trust me, something will happen. You just have to find someone, a good agent, who believes in you and never, ever, stop believing in yourself.

R: What books are you reading now?
T: I just finished Death du Jour and I’m about to start Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs. I just got into that series and started watching Bones reruns on tv. Then New York to Dallas by JD Robb is next on my list. I adore that series and have every book.

R: Just for fun, your
TV show: Older or current? For current, it’s a tie between Castle and Dancing with the Stars. For older it would be Murder She Wrote or Diagnosis Murder.  I just can’t get enough of detectives!  (R:  note to self: Human is entirely too fixated on shows spotlighting murder).
Book:  Anything by JD Robb
Actor: Nathan Fillion/Mark Harmon
Actress:  Emma Stone
Movie: Gone with the Wind
Character:.Scarlett O’Hara
Spies or Spook?   The Man from UNCLE
Vampire or Warlock? Vampires
Cats or Dogs?  (oh, come on, Rocco. Isn’t that answer a bit obvious? Dogs. A nice Cavalier King Charles spaniel!)
Beach or Mountain?  Mountain Lodge with a pool
Barry White or Barry Manilow?  Manilow, hands down.
Drink:  Sangria with a twist

R: Okay, now…wait a second! DOGS!!!!!!!
T: I thought that might get your attention…finally…..

R: Very funny, ha ha ha.  So, what is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you? Besides your rapier wit, that is?????
T: That I can twist the fingers on both hands into a pretzel shape. Really. I can. I also go into New York every year since 1999 to see Phantom of the Opera. I love that play.

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
T: Adopt a fat, black tuxedo cat with an attitude that enjoys writing a blog.

R: No, really.
T: Really. Okay, maybe adopting four cats. But only one with ‘cattitude’.  R:  who’s that, Maxx? Just joshin’ heh heh (blushes) It’s ME! 

R: What can we expect from you in the future? What are you working on now?
T:  Well, right now I’m working on finishing that Raven novella, and I have about three manuscripts I need to edit to send to my agent, including the sequel for the one he’s shopping. Then I plan on releasing an indie YA paranormal with a Dark Shadows tie in – watch for me on Sci Fi Saturday Night talking about it in March!  I have outlines for two new series – mysteries! My very first book was a spy mystery and I’d like to get back into writing cozies  – both paranormal and contemporary.

R: Wow, you sound busy!  When am I gonna be able to get on the computer to write my blog????????
T:  Ha, well, when Josh sells my book you can have your own laptop, LOL.  I’m the eternal optimist!

R:  Wow, you all heard her, folks!  But I – I mean we - get a jungle gym first, right?   Right???????
T:  We shall see, Rocco. We shall see. It’s nice to know you have priorities – besides your food bowl LOL

R: Very funny, Human! But thanks for a great interview anyway.
T: anytime, Rocco! Now go pick up your toys! Especially your ballie!

R:  Ah, okay.  I think Maxx was playing with the ballie.
T:   You are a terrible liar. You never let Maxx touch your ballies! Sheesh, that didnt' sound too good,did it?

R: (big cat grin) Anyway, thank you for a great interview, Human! Folks, check out Toni’s books when you check out EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED!

Toni’s Links:

Tomorrow…we spotlight NATHAN FILLION AND PJ HAARSMA, the co-founders of KIDS NEED TO READ!
And…our contest!

And now I  must pick up my toys….
Until tomorrow,

DEMONS AND FIRE - COMING APRIL 2012 From Amazon Create Space.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In the Homestretch with...ROSE PRESSEY!

We're in the homestretch, approaching that finish line, and today our guest is author Rose Pressey!

Rose Pressey enjoys writing quirky and fun novels with a paranormal twist. The paranormal has always captured her interest. The thought of finding answers to the unexplained fascinates her.
When she's not writing about werewolves, vampires and every other supernatural creature, she loves eating cupcakes with sprinkles, reading, spending time with family, and listening to oldies from the fifties. Yeah, she loves Elvis. She can't help herself.
Rose lives in the beautiful commonwealth of Kentucky with her husband, son and two sassy Chihuahuas.

And now, Rose in my hotseat!

R:  Hello, Rose and welcome.
RP: Thanks, Rocco!

R: I know it must be a thrill for you to be interviewed by such a handsome, debonair cat such as myself.
RP: Of course!

R: To begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your novels? And your short story in EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED
RP: I write paranormal romance and mystery with humor. I love to laugh. My husband and I live in Kentucky with our two Chihuahuas. My son is in college now.

My short story, The Witch is Back was inspired by a little antique shop I used to go in when I was a teenager. It was right next door to my grandmother’s house. I spent a lot of time in there wondering about the history of all the items.

R: In your own opinion, what do you think makes your novels different and engaging to readers?
RP: Well, my characters are quirky, so if readers like quirky with humor, mystery, and paranormal, they may enjoy my books.

R: What do you find is the biggest challenge in writing/publishing as an indie author?   Would you ever attempt to go the traditional agent/publisher route again?
RP: Getting the word out about my books was tough. There aren’t a lot of ways to accomplish this. It takes time like with most things. I am still pursuing traditional publishing. I want to be able to reach readers who enjoy print books, too.

R: Which of your series/characters do you enjoy writing the most?
RP: That’s a tough question. I love all of my characters. I guess I’d pick Larue Donavan or Veronica Mason.

R: What do you do when you are not writing?
RP: I like spending time with my family, playing with my Chihuahuas, (R: Chihuahuas!!!??? The Human says I am bigger than a Chihuahua!) reading, and bargain shopping.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing?
RP: Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi. Usually I need some form of chocolate as well.

R:What books are you reading now?
RP:  The Sixes by Kate White

R: Just for fun, your Favorite:
TV show: Paranormal Witness
Book: A Summer Place
Actor: Timothy Olyphant
Actress: Not sure if I have a favorite. Maybe Reese Witherspoon
Author: I love Molly Harper and her Jane Jameson series.
Character: Veronica Mason
Drink: Diet Pepsi
Spies or Spook? Spook
Vampire or Werewolf? Vampire
True Blood or True Lies? True Blood
Cats or Dogs? Dogs (R: Really? Well, I won’t hold that against you, heh heh)

R:What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
RP: I honestly can’t think of anything that would surprise my readers. I won the title of Little Miss Christmas Queen in 1986, does that count? Ha-ha.

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
RP:  Well, I usually save the crazy things for my characters. I rode from Kentucky on a Greyhound Bus all the way to California, not once, but twice. That was pretty crazy.

R: What can we expect from you in the future? What are you working on now?
RP:  I have more books in each of my series, and I’m working on a new series.

R: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to our readers?
RP:  I want to thank everyone for reading my books, and being so nice and supportive. It means the world to me.

MEOW! Thank you Rose! Folks, check out Rose’s books while you are ordering your copy of EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED!  And to help you along, here are some links:

Also check out this link on the KNTR site:
Tomorrow: The Human! And don’t forget…our contest! Three lucky people will win a copy of Every Witch Way but Wicked!
 Friday:  a bit about Kids Need to Read co-founders, PJ HAARSMA & NATHAN FILLION!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Today the guest author is Christiana Miller!

Christiana Miller is a novelist, screenwriter and mom who's led an unusual life. In addition to writing for General Hospital: Night Shift and General Hospital, she's had her DNA shot into space (where she's currently cohabiting in a drawer with Stephen Colbert and Stephen Hawking), and she's been the voices of all the female warriors in Mortal Kombat II and III. If her life was a TV show, it would be a wacky dramedy filled with eccentric characters who get themselves into bizarre situations.

and the HOTSEAT!

R: Hello, Christiana, and welcome to my hotseat!
C: Thank you for having me, Rocco.

R: To begin, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your newest novel ‘SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE SHE’S DEAD?

C: First, let me just say what a pleasure it is to be interviewed by such a handsome and discerning cat. However, this is making me realize that I have an appalling lack of cat in my stories. I will definitely have to correct that for the next book!

R:  It’s good that you realize that, heh heh.  Tell us about Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie.
C: Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie is a fun yet spooky paranormal story. It's about how a little magic can go a long way -- to really screwing up a girl's life. So be careful what you wish for!

When the story starts, Mara is having the worst month of her life. At least, that’s what her tarot cards are telling her and they’ve never been wrong.

In short order, she's evicted from her apartment, loses her job and is banned from Beverly Hills. With the tarot cards predicting her imminent demise, Mara uses a little magic to make her world right.

Suddenly, her life goes from bad to worse. An aunt she’s never met dies, leaving Mara as her sole heir. But when Mara moves into her inherited home, she discovers Aunt Tillie never moved out. She’s still one pissed-off old lady, even post-mortem, and she blames Mara’s magical meddling for her death.

When Mara accidentally releases a demon and awakens the spirit of the most powerful witch in history, her Aunt Tillie’s ready to kill her -- literally. It’s the only way she can think of to save the girl from herself.

The witch and the demon, however, have other plans for Mara’s body.

R:  Sounds interesting!  In your own opinion what do you think makes your novel different and engaging to readers?

C: The book is full of fun things like witchcraft, voodoo, spellcraft, dealing with ghosts, modern-day paganism, sex and, of course, tarot card readings. I've tried to keep it as authentic as possible, in representing the different paths covered under the larger umbrella of modern-day paganism. The story also touches on the ethics and rules of using magic, and as a bonus, it has some usable spells thrown in. So if you're looking for a hot-and-heavy love spell, there's a rockin' one mid-story.

Overall, there is an amazing amount of research that went into the book. About five years worth. And that research has spanned everything from the esoteric to the mundane. There's even a fair amount of forensic research in the book. That's actually where I came up with the last third of the story -- it was inspired by the research I was doing and some interesting information I came across.

While the story does get suspenseful and even spooky at times, a big dose of humor helps make the "spooky" go down. If it was a recipe, I would say it's comprised of a lot of witchcraft, some tantalizing bits of sex, and a sprinkling of voodoo, stirred with a cup of magic, half-a-cup of humor, a quarter cup of ectoplasm and served with a heaping handful of chocolate kisses.

R: I see from your website you’ve been a screenwriter. Which do you prefer, screenwriting or novels? And what challenges are involved in each?

C: Good question. They're both different. My head thinks more clearly in terms of screenwriting -- especially when it comes to plot structure and which scenes are necessary. Tillie actually started out as a script scene, then a short story, then a novel. However, even when I'm writing a prose version first, I find that my screenwriter brain tends to churn out a very minimalist first draft that then has to be filled in and expanded.

Because of the background I have, I find that when I write, I'm more focused on the action and what's visible in the scene rather than on long passages of introspection. And I also tend to write too much dialogue and banter -- just because I'm having fun listening to the characters go back and forth with each other -- so I always have to go back in and weed that out during rewrites.

As to which one I prefer… I'm trying to figure that out myself. Writing novels gives you more control. You can write a novel, publish it and be on a blog tour -- especially with indy publishing -- in the same amount of time it takes to write and rewrite a script for a production company, only to have it go nowhere because of things outside your control. But there's also something to be said about being able to see actors embody your words on screen. That's a very unique kick in and of itself.

I think the best of both worlds would be to write a novel and then sell the movie rights. :-D
R: Good answer!

R: You’ve also dabbled in acting- what was your favorite role and why?
C: Oh my gosh, that was awhile ago. I really enjoyed playing Electra in college, although that was for an acting class. My favorite performance was probably Emma Goldman. I wrote, produced and acted in a one-woman show about Emma Goldman during my senior year in college. There were times when it felt more like I was channeling Emma than acting. At one point, I was on-stage and my brain slipped into Russian -- I had been learning the language as part of my research in creating the show -- and I had a moment of panic, because I couldn't remember the English words for what I wanted to say next. I had to finish the sentence in Russian before my brain switched back into English. Weird, huh?

Overall, though, playing Emma Goldman was a lot of fun. The show combined live action with a slideshow projection. I remember at the end of the first performance, the audience didn't want to leave. They stayed and I fielded questions about Emma's life until I had to leave to get to the after-party. The performance itself was free -- at least it was supposed to be free -- but as people left the theater, they started giving me donations -- completely unasked for -- based on what they thought a ticket to the show was worth. So I wound up making a nice profit.

While I completed both the Theater core and the Creative Writing for the Media program in college, I was a Performance Studies major, which is about adapting non-traditional material for the stage through the use of live action and multi-media. Instead of adapting a novel into a script, you'd find a way to perform the novel, as is. I loved adapting non-traditional material for the stage. I think my favorite was Shirley Jackson's "We Have Always Lived In The Castle."

R: Tarot Cards figure prominently in your novel. How extensive research did you do on Tarot, and can you read them?
C: While I've been reading coffee grounds since I was a kid, I've only been reading tarot cards for a little over a decade. During that time, I've mostly done readings for charity events. I also do individual readings for people, where I'll combine both coffee grounds and tarot cards, but it's not something I do as a living.

R: What was the hardest part of writing and/or publishing your book?
C: The hardest thing in terms of writing is letting go of scenes that don't really advance the story too much, but are just fun to write. I hate cutting those, so I keep them in a "to be used in the future" file. The other hardest thing is to just sit down and write. While I love the process of writing -- and especially, "having written" -- sitting down to that first blank page can be hugely intimidating. You have to get past all those fears of "what if I can never come up with another story again?"

The hard part about publishing is juggling marketing with writing time. It's really easy to get caught up in marketing and not budget enough time to write.

R: What do you do when you are not writing?
C: When I'm not writing, I'm playing with my daughter. She wants to be a writer, so I help her "write" her books. She's still really young and she's just learning how to spell. So I staple together mini-books for her to use. I spell out the words she doesn't know, and she writes her stories on paper. She's also illustrating her own stories, which is something I can't do. When I'm not hanging out with my daughter, I'm either teaching or putting together educational events for writers.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing?
C: My computer. If I can't have a computer with me, I take an AlphaSmart Neo. I just weaned myself off of having PBS and Nick, Jr. cartoons playing while I write (occupational hazard of having a little one in the house). My husband works at home and after I drop my daughter off at school, I escape to my office to write. It's quiet there, so I can hear myself think and listen to the characters as they chatter in my head. Most of all, I like that I'm close to my daughter's school while I'm writing, in case anything comes up. I'm also starting to play with the idea of writing to music -- I like the theory, but I haven't taken it out for a test drive yet.

R: What books are you reading now?
C: Victoria Laurie's ghostbusting series and I'm in the middle of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.

R: Your Favorite:

TV show:  Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva, Harry's Law -- I'm all about fun escapism.

Book:  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I even named one of my dogs Ender.

Actor:  Harrison Ford / Cary Grant / George Clooney

Actress:  Sandra Bullock / Lucille Ball / Brooke Elliott

Author:  Elmore Leonard / Dick Francis / Janet Evanovich / Tami Hoag / Jennifer Cruisie / Angie Fox / Lisa Scottoline / Tony Hillerman. Dang, I really have a hard time choosing just one. My entire life is based around books. My house has about a thousand books on the shelves. Thank goodness for e-books, or I'd have to find a larger place to live.

Character:  Stephanie Plum / Aisling Grey

Drink: Alcoholic? Tawny Port, Samos of Patra (a sweet muscat wine from the Greek Islands) and Bailey's. Not mixed together though. Mixed drinks would be either Cosmopolitan or Sex on the Beach. Non-alcoholic would be Real Lemonade, Chocolate Milk and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Spies or Spook?   Spooks. I mean, spies. Wait. Aren't they the same thing? Spooks, spies. How about spirits? Can I go with spirits?

Vampire or Warlock?  I can't shake the definition of warlock being someone (of either gender) who is an oath-breaker. To be warlocked means to be shunned and excluded from a community because you've broken your oaths to your gods, to your ethics and to your peers. So if I had to choose, I'd go with vampire. Even if they do remind me of human mosquitoes. :-D

Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica?  Tough one. Which version? Since I've worked on Star Trek, I'm going to have to go with Star Trek. Especially Star Trek: Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Cats or Dogs?  Both. My heart belongs to Dobermans and Egyptian Maus. Although, I've also shared my life with a beautiful tuxedo cat who gave great hugs. (R: ever been hugged by a 30 lb tuxedo cat?  I’m just sayin’)

R:What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
C:  I don't know that anything would surprise them! I was raised Greek Orthodox, I hate being lied to, and I'm fascinated by esoteric mysticism, from the Egyptian to the Greek to the Christian to the Celtic. I've taught classes in English, Math, Writing, Performance and Mythology and I love learning new things. Oh, probably the most shocking thing is that my author pic was taken when I first started working on Tillie. I swear, I've aged about a hundred years since then. Taking time off to have a baby will do that to you!

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?  
C: That I can tell you about? Hmmm… I rode a horse over a course of 4'3" - 4'6" jumps with no stirrups, no reins and my arms in the air like I was flying. It was fun, but I'd never do it again. And yes, I was wearing a helmet. Oh, and to conquer my fear of flying, I once piloted a 4-seat Cessna. And then there was the time when I was a kid and I snuck into an old, abandoned, haunted cemetery, deep in the woods, late at night… But that's a story for another book. ;-D

R: What can we expect from you in the future? What are you working on now? 
C: A lot more! I have a number of scripts that I'm adapting into novels, so if the writing goes according to plan, readers should see a new novel from me, every few months. I'm also working on a sequel for Mara and Gus (the main characters from Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead). But that will probably take a bit longer.

R: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to our readers? 
C: Don't let fear stop you from embracing your life and living it to the fullest. Embrace love -- including furry packages of purring love that waltz into your life, looking for a bit of herring or sardines. Enjoy every moment. And keep reading!

Thank you for a wonderful interview, Christiana!

And now – go get your copy of EVERY WITCH WAY BUT WICKED!

Miller's first novel, Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Diesel, Smashwords. Check out her website at: or like her author page on Facebook. You can also find her on Twitter at @writechristiana.
Tomorrow: Rose Pressey and then…THE HUMAN!