Monday, February 24, 2014


My guest poster today is HP Mallory.  HP is here to talk about the latest release in her Lily Harper series!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with HP, here is a brief bio:
H. P. Mallory is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Jolie Wilkins series as well as the Dulcie O'Neil series. She began her writing career as a self-published author and after reaching a tremendous amount of success, decided to become a traditionally published author and hasn't looked back since. H. P. Mallory lives in Southern California with her husband and son, where she is at work on her next book.
Welcome, HP!
Hi Rocco and everyone out there in blog space! This is H.P. Mallory and I first wanted to thank Rocco for having me! Second, I wanted to introduce the newest book in my Lily Harper series, The Underground City!

If you haven’t heard of my Lily Harper series, it’s a paranormal/ fantasy series, that follows the afterlife of heroine, Lily Harper. When Lily is killed in a car accident before it’s her time to go, she learns that the hereafter isn’t exactly what she hoped it might be.  
First, there’s Angel Bill, Lily’s incompetent, alcoholic, womanizing guardian angel. Bill wasn’t paying attention when Lily was texting on her phone while driving and, consequently, her death was his fault. Enter AfterLife Enterprises! AfterLife Enterprises is the company responsible for sorting out the recently dead and sending them on their way to the Kingdom (think Heaven) or the Underground City (think hell).  Because Angel Bill was employed by AfterLife Enterprises, technically Lily’s death is their fault. As such, they offer Lily the chance to live again. But, as with most things involving the afterlife, beware the small print.
In this case, small print= becoming a Soul Retriever. Lily will find herself venturing into the bowels of the Underground City to retrieve souls that were mistakenly sent there by AfterLife Enterprises during a Y2K glitch.
Perhaps the only good thing in Lily’s sordid afterlife is Tallis Black, the bladesmith. As Scottish as his kilts and his heavy brogue, Tallis is a centuries-old Celtic Druid who, for reasons only known to him, offers to train Lily in the art of swordplay and escorts her into the depths of the Underground City. Tallis is dark, brooding and he’s also chalk full of mysteries wrapped in secrets.
Lily’s story is introduced in her first book, Better Off Dead, which is currently a free e-book download on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Now, on to Lily’s second book, The Underground City!
Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!
After Lily narrowly escapes her first mission into the Underground City in book one, she’s anything but excited to return! But as with most things involving the afterlife, nothing ever quite works out the way Lily wants it to!
Her newest mission will see her traveling to the sewer aqueduct of the Underground City and later, the prison. But, luckily for Lily, she’s got the hunky yet antisocial bladesmith, Tallis Black, by her side. And quite possibly unluckily for her, she’s also got her guardian angel, Bill, who’s up to his old, foul-mouthed antics.
Between learning how to wield her sword, personal training with a hot-headed demon, traveling to the Underground City not one but two times and discovering that the leader of the Underground City harbors a curious fascination with her, Lily’s hope was abandoned a long time ago…
Here is an excerpt from the book, when Tallis is training Lily on how to wield her sword:
“Um,” I started, prepared to argue the reasons why I shouldn’t fight Tallis, namely because he was a practiced warrior and I was a nobody; but he was already coming at me, his sword raised high in the air, and the maniacal look of a crazy person in his eyes. I was as good as dead.
Bracing myself, I held my sword out in a defensive stance before me. When the blade of his sword struck mine, it felt like an earthquake rocked my entire body, with the epicenter in my right arm. After the initial, jarring blow, my arms felt like jelly but, amazingly enough, I managed to maintain my grip on my sword. My brain, however, still felt like it was rattling around in my head. “Are you trying to take my arm off?” I yelled at him. “Not so freaking hard!”
Tallis raised his sword into the air again, clearly continuing his assault. “Demons o’ the Oonderground wilna be lenient oan ye, lass,” he explained as he rushed toward me again. “Ye moost learn ta defend yerself, come what may!” I experienced a few seconds of intense déjà vu, but then figured I’d just seen Braveheart one too many times.
I deflected the blow in the same way as before, but a split second later, the blade-wielding Scotsman circled around and charged me once more, his sword held high again. Before I could even fathom what was happening, Tallis held the tip of his blade against my throat. I clutched my sword in my left hand with the tip of it just skimming the ground, realizing it wasn’t doing me a whole lot of good. Tallis walked a few paces forward, and forced me to walk backwards to avoid being run through.
“If Ah were a demon, mah sword would be buried in yer head by now,” he said calmly. “Och aye, perhaps then Ah’d sever yer head an’ later, it’d be mounted oan mah wall.”
“Ha-ha,” I said with little or no humor. I fought to take a deep breath and calm my heart, which, even now, suggested I was having an attack.
Tallis shrugged. “Ye shoulda blocked meh, lass,” he finished in a deep voice, his eyes riveted on mine.
I didn’t respond until I backed up against the rough bark of a tree and realized I was cornered. “You can’t expect me to defend myself from you when you’ve had over two thousand years of practice!” I yelled, not liking the feeling of being trapped. “And what’s more, I’m not possessed by the ghost of some dead warrior! So this isn’t exactly fair!”
“Do ye wanna survive the Oonderground?” he asked rhetorically. His tone remained casual and calm, which only irritated me more.
“Of course I do!” I railed back at him, craning my neck to the side as he held me captive beneath his blade. “What are you doing?” I demanded. But he didn’t remove the sword. He held it in place, while staring at me like he’d lost his mind. “Take your sword away from my throat!” I ground out as burgeoning fear tried to overcome me. Tallis was always unpredictable, which was, by nature, intimidating.
My voice was abruptly cut short when he pushed ever so slightly on his sword and I felt the cold metal riding up my larynx, its keen point threatening my neck, yet still not piercing my skin. Without a clue of what was going on, I looked into Tallis’s eyes and what I saw there worried me. A lot. His standard, midnight blue gaze was gone and replaced by a dark, inky blackness. His eyes were so dark and shadowy, I couldn’t distinguish his pupils from his irises. I’d seen his eyes eclipsed like this before—usually in moments of combat or after his anger was incited. I’d always figured it was just the warrior spirit within him suddenly overtaking his body. But why would the warrior feel threatened by me? I had no idea why. All I could hope was that I’d survive long enough to find out.
Tallis continued to stand there, silently watching me, his sword still precariously aimed on my neck. His eyes were completely engulfed by the strange blackness. They no longer resembled the eyes of a human ...
“Tallis,” I whispered. “You’re scaring me.”
My comment seemed to thrill him because his lips parted into a smile. But he still didn’t say anything. Instead, he continued staring right through me with enigmatic eyes that revealed nothing. He continued to smile as he studied me, though, appearing amused by the fact that he had me where he wanted me, amused that I was his captive. And that was when I realized he intended to kill me.

If you’re on Facebook, be sure to friend the Lily Harper characters who all have their own pages!

Thanks again to Rocco for having me on to talk about my newest book release!

Thanks for coming on, HP!
Next week…Rebecca Hale guest posts!  Also in March:  Roberta Islib, Heather Graham and Brenda  Novak!

Sunday, February 16, 2014



R:  Welcome, Victoria!  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
VH: There was never a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, but it took me a while to believe it was possible. If I would have one word of advice for young people, it’s figure out what you want to do, and then figure out your path to how you can do it.
R: Tell us about your two series, Vintage Kitchen and Merry Muffin. What inspired them? Have you always had an interest in cooking?
VH: I’ve been cooking since I was nine years old, and it’s just part of life, to me. I’ve got my mother’s old cookbook, the one she handwrote in the fifties, so that got me interested in vintage recipes. And muffins? My favorite thing to bake! So easy, so good, so versatile, from bacon, to cheddar to blueberries to banana, there is nothing you can’t put in a muffin.  
R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
VH: In my genre? I’m not sure how to answer that. If we take the mystery genre at large I read Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Anne Perry. I never did separate books out into sub-genres really, until I started writing what are called Cozies. So among books that could be categorized as cozies or traditional mysteries, my favorites have been Gillian Roberts, Joan Hess, Mary Daheim and Diane Mott Davidson.
R: Tell us about your latest release.
VH: Freezer I’ll Shoot is #3 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries. Jaymie, out on Heartbreak Island to look after her family’s cottage while some necessary work is done, stumbles over a dead body (of course) in her own back yard. When her neighbors are implicated, she feels that they are being targeted and can’t help but become involved.
R: You said you have a cat named “Poodle?”  I’ll bet there’s an interesting story there – care to share?
VH: Well… I took on this little stray ginger and white and couldn’t decide on a name. Eventually he became Pookee, but it still just wasn’t right. He’s a funny little guy. He’s always got his nose in the air or to the ground, he won’t stay inside, and has made best friends with the husky next door. Somehow we just started calling him Poodle and it stuck!
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
VH: My ‘how I got my agent’ story may actually be inspirational for some writers because I think it shows the value of perseverance. I am on my third agent. The first one was a total dud who gave up after the very first rejection. The first! The second was a great guy, and we had a professional relationship for many years, while I was writing romance novels. I always wanted to write ,mystery though; romance writing was supposed to be a stepping stone. (A great stepping stone! I really enjoyed and still do writing romance novels; I think it is a wonderful training ground too for learning how to create characters.)
But it became clear that my agent just didn’t ‘get’ mystery fiction. He wasn’t interested in it, so we talked, and I asked if he’d be okay with me looking for another agent. We parted amicably, while I searched.  Though I approached quite a few agents, I knew who I wanted and I went after her. However… she rejected my first proposal. I took it in stride and asked for advice, which she gave me. Then she shut down to submissions for four months on mat leave! Four months!
In the meantime I took her advice and crafted the very best proposal I could come up with (it became A Deadly Grind, Book 1 of the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries) and submitted to her the day after she reopened for submissions. Well, she loved the proposal, accepted me as a client, and today, three years and three series in, I couldn’t be happier.
But it never would have happened if I a) gave up, or b) didn’t take her advice. Yes, I had a headstart as a published author, but a great proposal and a willingness to listen trumps everything!
When I learned that A Deadly Grind had been accepted for publication by Berkley with a three book deal, I almost cried… I’d been waiting so long for that day!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
VH: Coffee.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
VH: I would be behind the scullery door listening in when Jane Austen first learned her novel was to be published. I would have loved to meet JA, just to sit and talk and learn.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
VH: That’s really difficult. Pick one: A) I’ve never taken a writing course, nor have I ever been to a writing or mystery conference. B) I wrote my first novel in longhand. C) I get squirmy when someone compliments my writing.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
VH: I don’t do crazy.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
VH: My most fervent hope is that the people I create will live in people’s thoughts like they do in mine. I’m not always sure I’ve hit the mark, so when I get a letter telling me how a character I created affected someone, it makes my day. My month. My year!
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
VH: I’m always working on something. I have an extremely tight schedule. Right now I am working on Teapot Collector Mysteries #2, which is as of yet untitled. I’ll then move on to Merry Muffin Mysteries #3, and then Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #5.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
VH: By necessity, a plotter. I’m getting better at this, but it’s a laborious process the way I do it. First a synopsis, which becomes the proposal for my editor. Then I take that proposal and flesh it out into a chapter by chapter outline. I write from the outline, but deviate from it liberally.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
VH: A bottle of wine and the karaoke machine; that’s about the extent of my party tricks… LOL. Hobbies, I have many! I read. All the time. I also do crafts: jewellery making, crocheting, cooking. I collect: cat figurines, teacups, teapots, jewellery. Ad Infinitum.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Also, from my Facebook page you will find individual pages for each of my three mystery series!
Twitter: @MysteryVictoria
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat. I love me some kittens! I love dogs, too, but cats are so much lower maintenance… I used to think until I got Poodle, who demands to go out and come in a million times a day.  (Big smirk from ROCCO – Cheshire size!)
Beach or Pool?  Beach for relaxation, pool for swimming.
Steak or salad?  Yes please! Actually, if I have to choose, salad.
Favorite Drink?  Tea or wine.
Favorite Book? Pride and Prejudice, for literature. 
Favorite TV Series?  Oooh… tough one. Mike & Molly? Big Bang Theory? Once Upon A Time?
Favorite Movie?  The Holiday… Kate Winslet was fabulous, and I thought that the REAL love story was her and Eli Wallach. Perfection!
Favorite Actor: Colin Firth or Samuel L. Jackson. Tough call.
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep or Kate Winslet… another tough call!
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Oh, Pina Colada, please!!
Hawaii or Alaska? Neither… I need a full set of seasons!!
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be… Jane Austen.
If I had just one wish, it would be… perfect health for all my loved ones.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be… no one. I’m perfectly happy. My theory is, if you changed places with someone else, you take on all of their troubles, health and otherwise. I’m healthy and happy and doing the work I love best in the world; why would I want to change?
R: Thank you for a great interview, Victoria!
VH: Thanks for having me, ROCCO!
Folks, Victoria will be giving away two copies of Freezer I’ll Shoot, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #3 to commenters!  To enter, leave a comment below with your email address (comments without email addy will be disqualified, sorry!)
For extra entries, you can:
Friend the Human, Toni Lotempio, or/and Victoria on FB
Follow moi on Twitter #RoccoBlogger
Tweet or FB about this blog/contest (gets 3 extra entries)
Be sure to list all you’ve done in the comments! Good luck!
Next week:  A guest post from HP Mallory!  Meow!

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's SNOW good!

Meow folks, to those of you here on the East coast, are you as sick of this white stuff as the Human and I are?  Very inhibiting to say the least! The human's car has been under ice for over a week - we hope it warms up soon so she can get to the grocery store for my food, meow!

We have lots of author interviews coming up, however! 
Next week my guest is Victoria Hamilton; Feb. 25 we have a guest post scheduled from HP Mallory; and in March: Brenda Novak!  Meow!

Stay dry, kitties!  And a happy Valentine's day to all!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Welcome our Guest Poster....KATE COLLINS!


 By Kate Collins


I worry about this young techno generation. I worry that their minds are so accustomed to gadgets, games, and instant gratification that they are losing their creativity. Am I right to fret?

 When I taught second and third grade many years ago, my favorite subject was language arts because I could encourage my students to use their imaginations through story writing. Once I could get them to stop trying to spell everything perfectly the first time and just write, oh, what tales they told!

 But it was a chore to get them to turn off the worry switch. “Just write,” I’d tell them. “We’ll fix the spelling later.” And I’d still have a line of students at my desk.

 All the gadgetry makes me wonder: Do children craft their own make-believe worlds now like I used to do or rely on game geeks to develop them? Do they build forts with blocks or blow them up on their XBoxes? Do they play with imaginary friends or make them through Facebook?  I’d hate to think that whole sections of their brains are going to waste.

 Who will write the books of the future if we have no one that can imagine?

 I’m not saying this is so, I’m just saying I can’t help but worry when I see kids with their thumbs on the buttons of their game systems all the time.

 Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, encourage your kids to pretend. Encourage them to dress in costumes and make tents from blankets and cast spells on people from a branch in a tree. Get them outdoors and onto a bicycle that is actually their trusty steed, ready to carry them off on an adventure.

 So I don’t worry.

 What worries you about the youngest generation?



Kate Collins is the New York Times best-selling author of the Flower Shop Mystery series. Kate’s next mystery, THROW IN THE TROWEL, #15 in the series, is a February, 2014, release. All of Kate’s mysteries are available in print, digital, and large-print editions. Kate’s historical romances are also available in digital format at Amazon, B&N, and other e-book sellers. For more information on the Flower Shop Mysteries, visit Kate at: Kate’s blogsite is .


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Unvanquished and Unmatched....MARY JANICE DAVIDSON visits the blog!

When I think of my blogaversary, I always think of Mary Janice Davidson!  MJ hasn't missed one yet, and this year is no exception!  this year she brings us an exclusive sneak peek from the next Betsy book, due out in July, UNDEAD AND UNWARY!'s MJ!
Hello, ROCCO!  Happy blogaversary!                
I’ve been working on edits for the next Betsy book, UNDEAD AND UNWARY, and with the hideous winter weather we’ve been enduring, thought I’d share a clip from the book.  And yep, the St. Paul Winter Carnival is a thing. 

               (For readers who haven’t read through UNDEAD AND UNSTABLE, Eric Sinclair, king of the vampires, can now stand sunlight for the first time in almost a century.  To say he’s giddy would be a vast understatement.)

“Dammit!”  He’d literally swept me off my feet and plunked me in the middle of our bed.  As I reared up on my elbows in prep to escape, he then plunked himself in the middle of the bed, right on top of me.  What little air there was in my lungs (I sometimes gasped or yawned or breathed out of force of habit) whooshed out.  “Gggnnnn!”

“Ah, darling, your sexy moan sets my libido aflame.”

“Ged.  Gedduh.  Gedduh huck offme.”  I groaned and tried to elbow him away as he pressed me further into the mattress.  “Gnnn.  Dyin’.”

He was giggling against my neck and marking me with little nibbling kisses and all at once I cared a lot less about Jessica’s mysterious errands and more about getting out of my underpants.

“What’s got you all sexually charged?  Besides being a man and being conscious.”

“Don’t generalize, darling,” he chided.

“Yeah, yeah...answer the question.”

“It was so wonderful.”  He pulled back until our faces were inches apart, his eyes—a brown so deep they were almost black—gazing into mine.  His dark hair was only slightly mussed, thick with a tendency to curl under at the ends, and his skin was utterly pale, not the slightest sign of a flush.  So he hadn’t been feeding.  It had to be something else.


Oh, God.

“No.”  I shook my head so hard I made myself dizzy and my hair was everywhere.  Sinclair jerked back so the ends wouldn’t tickle his face, and laughed at my, “No-no-no.”

“The only thing marring its perfection was your absence, my own.”

“Never.  I told you.  Never again.  I’m not doing it ever again.  It’s dumb and it’s cold.  Horribly horribly cold.”

“It is enchanting,” he corrected me, now mouthing the tender, shivery spot just behind my ear.  “Horribly horribly enchanting.  I was enchanted.”

“Are you drunk?” I asked, staring at the ceiling while the tips of his dark hair brushed the side of my jaw.  “I know it’s impossible but we’ve done the impossible before and it would explain a lot.  I would actually wish you were drunk over what you were really doing.  That’s what a bad idea I think that is.”

“The fairyland spectacle of the St. Paul Winter Carnival enchanted me.  It was all so wonderful,” he moaned, pressing a kiss to the hollow of my throat.  “How could you resist the sensual allure of the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade?”

“Pretty easily.”

“Not to mention the Snow Slide.”

“Sinclair, it’s a carnival celebrating the fact that Mother Nature tries to kill us every winter.  Why the hell would I ever—wait, Snow Slide?”

“They should rename it the Sublime Slide,” he said and oh God I think he was serious.

“You went on the Snow Slide?”  And why the hell wasn’t I there with a camera?  And a video crew?  He was right, I should have gone if only to have the means to make a looping video of the vampire king riding down a hundred foot snow slide over and over and over, maybe shoving various children out of the way as he repeatedly cut in line.  Baring his fangs at their avenging mamas.  Then up and down and up and down again.  My kingdom for that gif.  “Okay, you’ve made the impossible happen.  Fine.  But I still don’t regret not going to the cold weird sleet rodeo, or whatever they’re calling it this year.”

“I also indulged in the Beer Dabbler.  Did you know they have over a hundred and fifty breweries plying their wares?”

“But you hate beer.”

“And they have a blood drive.”

“But you love—aw, nuts,” I groaned.  “Tell me you stayed away from the blood drive taking place in the middle of the day at an outdoor carnival celebrating the things water does when it gets below freezing.”  In fairness to them, how could they expect a vampire to take over the Snow Slide, sip beer, and then rob their blood drive?

“Of course I refrained,” he said, pulling back and looking offended.  “You know I only drink from you or ruffians we subdue.”

“Okay, I know you’re an old man, but really—ruffians?”  I yelped as his sharp teeth grazed my neck and his tongue followed, soothing the sting. 

“Ninety is the new thirty,” was his muffled reply.

I snorted.  “What this all boils down to is, ice sculptures make you horny.”

“Well, yes,” he admitted.

“I remember when I made you horny.”

“An ice sculpture of you would satisfy all my sexual needs.”

I laughed as I shivered; I couldn’t help it.  The mental image was just so hilarious and gross and cracked.  “I hate you.”

“In fact,” he replied, lips ghosting over mine, “you adore me.”

“I’m pretty sure I can do both.”

“Did you know?”  He pulled back and gazed down at me.  “Ice is much more beautiful in sunshine,” he said in a low voice, a serious tone, like it was a delicious secret he wanted only me to know.”  “It’s like light made solid.”

This.  This right here.  That’s why.  That’s the answer to everything, every time.  “I love you,” I sighed.

He smiled.  “Yes.”