Sunday, November 23, 2014

Twinkletoes is in the house!

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Twinkletoes, the purr-fectly beautiful kitten who stars in the NY times bestselling “Paws and Claws” mystery series!
About the author: Krista Davis counts herself lucky to be an author. She's still new enough to be surprised that people have read her books! Her first book, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, was nominated for an Agatha award.
R: for all our interested readers out there – particularly the felines – describe a typical day in your life.
T: Feline yoga on waking, of course. Nothing like some good stretches to get going. Holly usually feeds me before she goes down to the dining room. That suits me fine. I should be served first. She always leaves a couple of bowls of food in case I want to snack during the day. Of course, Shelley in the dining room would serve me anything I wanted if I rubbed up against her legs. And the guests tend to carry lots of kitty treats around with them, so there’s always something interesting to eat.
I do some preliminary scouting around to see who’s up and what’s going on in the Sugar Maple Inn. Then I watch the lake and birds from the big window in the sitting room. There’s an unbelievable sunbeam that comes through that window about mid-morning. Perfect for a nap.
Sometimes I stroll out onto the front porch. There are a lot of rocking chairs out there, so a cat has to watch out for her tail. I like sitting on the steps with Gingersnap, the golden retriever canine ambassador of the inn.
Did you know that I’m officially the feline ambassador of the Sugar Maple Inn? That means I have to keep up with everything that’s going on! So I follow Marisol, the housekeeper, into the guest rooms to see what’s up. People are funny creatures. They bring bags and bags of stuff with them. They always smell most intriguing. Of course, there are the special porches in the cats only wing. Each room has a screened in porch with a real tree to lounge on so I feel obligated to test them now and again.
Then there’s lunch and another nap before teatime, when kitty treats (usually the crunchy fishy kind) are served. Things quiet down after that because most guests eat their dinners somewhere else. I hang around the grand staircase so they can pet me and play games when they filter back in. It’s a lot of work, but I love every minute of it. Then it’s off to bed with Holly and Trixie in the apartment on the top floor.
R: How did you and Holly get together?
T: I started life in a house with a lot of dogs and cats. I mean a lot! One day a bunch of people arrived with cages, and my mom yowled run, run, run! My sisters and I scattered every which way with people chasing us. I made it into the woods and kept going. I walked a very long way. It’s a good thing I knew how to hunt for mice or I might have starved.
When I arrived in Wagtail, I took a good look around and decided the Sugar Maple Inn might be a nice place. I just walked up those front stairs, and people started petting me and telling me how pretty I was. They brought me food, too. The older lady (Oma) didn’t seem to mind when I found the cat doors. I walked up to the very top where I found an apartment with down comforters on the beds. A far cry from curling up in a hole in a tree and trying to sleep. Oma and Rose kept telling me Holly would be coming soon. I had never met Holly but somehow I knew it was important to wait for her.
I was sitting on the stairs the night she arrived. She was mess! She looked worse than I did after all those nights in the woods. But I knew there was something special about her. She was the one.
R: What do you like best about Wagtail?
T: Everyone is so nice to cats and dogs! Everybody stops for a quick pat or snuggle.
R: Tell us about you and Holly’s latest adventure, The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer.
It all began when the Apparition Apprehenders checked into the inn. Holly had just moved there, so our apartment was packed with boxes. Packed! Holly couldn’t find the remote control for the TV, so Trixie and I kept turning it on. We thought that was pretty funny. Humans can be so helpless. Holly received a phone call in the middle of the night. She left us behind but Trixie and I figured out a way to sneak out of the inn and had a ball scampering across Wagtail in the night! It was a good thing we did, too, because we found a corpse. Mrs. Mewer was a little standoffish at first. Siamese! I don’t want to tell you everything, but Trixie, Mrs. Mewer, Casper, the Weimaraner, and I had a devil of a time helping our people figure out the identity of the murderer.
R: Tell us about your relationship with that frisky Jack Russell, Trixie!
T: I handled her just the way my feline mom taught me. If you don’t budge, you’re in control of the dog. Hehehe. Works every time. Trixie had just found Holly, too, so we teamed up as siblings fast. Trixie’s only problem is her interest in my food. As dogs go, she’s pretty cool.
R: How do you cope with Holly’s penchant for getting involved with murder?
T: Oh? Are you implying that’s not normal? It doesn’t bother me a bit. Holly calls me nosy. I’m quite curious by nature so I understand Holly’s inquisitiveness. She needs my help, though.
R:  What do you love most about Holly?  Dislike most?
T: I love that she’s my human mom, and that she needs me. I love that she lets me sleep on her fluffy down comforter and that she doesn’t let Trixie inhale my food. I don’t know why she turns off the TV when Trixie and I are watching.
Dislike? What’s to dislike? Oh, I know! I don’t like it when she confines Trixie and me to the apartment.
R: How did you get the name “Twinkletoes”
T: I walk across balcony railings. People seem to think there’s something special about that. I don’t see it myself. That’s what cats do. Apparently, they were so impressed with my skill that they started calling me Twinkletoes.
R: What would you like to say to all your fans out there?
T: Fans? I have fans? Purrrrr.
R: So tell me how you feel about this woman, Krista Davis? Does she portray your adventures accurately?
T: Did you know that she has a calico kitty who looks just like me and a Jack Russell who looks like Trixie? She’s pretty tuned in to what I’m thinking and what I would do. I forgive a few mistakes because, after all, she’s a human so she’s not quite purrrfect.
R:If you could change one thing about Holly, what would it be?
T: Her boyfriend, Ben! Seriously, what was she thinking dating a guy like that? I thought we were through with him but he keeps turning up. I can see that Trixie and I will have to team up with Oma (Holly’s grandmother) to straighten out her love life and get the right man for us, er, her.
R:  Any chance of your getting another “sidekick” in these stories- like maybe a handsome tuxedo cat – anytime soon?
T: Krista tells me that I will have a bunch of sidekicks – a different one in every book. Mrs. Mewer is my new pal. She’s a Siamese, and boy, can she yowl! You never know, maybe a handsome tuxedo cat will show up in one of my adventures!
 R:  That would be nice,Twinkletoes. And if you need a model for said character....ahem.  I'm just sayin'
Now, Just for fun…
Catnip or scratching post?
T: Scratching post! It’s not like I don’t enjoy a good catnip toy but I love my scratching posts!
R: Tabbies or Tuxedos?
T: Both! I have friends who are tabbies and friends who are tuxedos. Love them all. Cats rule!
R: Jack Russells or Chihuahuas?
T: My sister is a Jack Russell so I have to vote for Jacks, though I have nothing against Chihuahuas.
R: Fish or Steak?
T: Rrrowww! Those are my favorites. How about some surf and turf?
R: Shakespeare or Stephen King?
T: I don’t know either of them personally but mom tells me Shakespeare is deceased and King is alive. I assume King can scratch behind my ears better than the dead Shakespeare guy.
Thanks for a fun interview, Twinkletoes!
Watch for her latest adventure, THE GHOST AND MRS.  MEWER, out in bookstores and available online on December 2!
Twinkletoes friend, Krista Davis, has generously consented to give one lucky commener a copy of THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER! To enter, leave your name and email address so we can contact you in the comments section of our blog!  . For extra entries, you can:
Tweet about this interview/giveaway
Friend the Human on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @RoccoBlogger
Post on FB or your own blog about this interview/giveaway
Winner will be chosen using Contest ends midnight, December 1!

Monday, November 17, 2014

ROCCO interviews....Thumper of Black Cat Legacy!

Today my guest is Thumper, star of the Black Cat Legacy Mysteries written by Elaine Faber!

Elaine Faber is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. Black Cat’s Legacy is the first of three Cat Mysteries involving Thumper, the cat who solves mysteries with the aid of his ancestor’s memories. The sequel, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer will be published this fall.

Elaine lives in northern CA, with her tolerant husband and four house cats, including a tuxedo cats who looks a lot like Thumper! Another three feral cats come to the back door night and morning, asking for a handout. A portion of the proceeds from her Black Cat mysteries goes toward cat rescue organizations.

And now….Thumper!

R: Welcome to the blog, Thumper! For all our interested readers out there – particularly the feline ones – describe a typical day in your life.

Thanks for the chance to share my story, Rocco. I spend a good deal of time in the lawn swing outside the office of Herman’s Motor Lodge which resides beside Fern Lake in No. California. I scope out the arriving guests and determine if they have cat treats in their pocket and their level of catitude. I may want to sleep in their cabin on the end of their bed that night. 

R: How did you and Kimberlee get together?

She and her little girl came to the lodge last summer. The minute I laid eyes on her, I knew she was the ‘one’ that generations of my ancestors had waited for. It was my job to help her solve the Fern Lake mysteries, and trust me, there are plenty!

R: Tell us about your ability to recall your ancestor’s memories. When did you first realize you had it, and how do you cope with it?

Easy Peesy! All cats have their ancestors’ memories. People call it instinct. But, most cats don’t have six toes on each foot, like I do, which gives me the ability to act on those memories. Sort of like fine tuning a television set and seeing the whole scene play out in stereo and living color. My ancestors’ legacy required me to help solve the murder when Kimberlee arrived at the lodge.

R:  What do you love most about Kimberlee?  Dislike most?

She’s very innocent and sweet, but she has lot of guts, too. She struggles to stay strong even when things get tough, which of course they do, repeatedly. She falls in love with Brett, an author who tries to help solve her father’s cold case murder, but the local fem fatal, Dorian, also has a crush on Brett, so we have a bit of a love triangle. I point the trio toward clues, but sometimes they don’t understand, even when I put them right under their inferior noses.

R: What’s the story behind your name?  Are you a Disney fan? (as in Thumper of Bambi fame)

Kimberlee’s little girl says I ‘fumped’ on her cabin door the first day they came to the lodge. So, she said, ‘I letted him in. His name is Fumper, like in my Bambi book.’ So, Thumper was the kid’s idea, not mine. I’d rather be Spike or Butch, but what can you do? All my ancestors were called Black Cat. The name Thumper has been a challenge. Some folks get the idea that maybe I’m a push-over, like the bunny rabbit in Bambi, but proving them wrong has made me a stronger cat.  

R:If you could change one thing about Kimberlee  what would it be?

She adds onions when she cooks liver. I could do without the onions. And she cries a lot. I hate to see a woman cry. Other than that, she’s okay.

R: What are your and Kimberlee’s future plans? Any new adventures on the horizon?

Oh, my, yes. Check out my sequel, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Kimberlee took me to Texas to visit her grandmother. But, Grandmother had an evil ulterior motive behind the invitation, and her lawyer! Why, you wouldn’t believe what shenanigans and skullduggery he was up to. We call it a tale of betrayal and greed with a splash of fantasy. The fantasy part is me getting to the bottom of things and saving Grandmother’s wretched life. I didn’t like her much, but she is family, after all.

R: Tell us about this human, Elaine Faber? Does she do a good job of portraying you and your adventures?

I’m not sure if I’m a character in her head or she’s a character in mine. Folks say she writes ‘cat’ better than she writes English. She ‘gets’ me and brings me to life on the printed page. One of her cats, Boots, looks like me, or I look like him. It’s one of those chicken and the egg things.

R:  Any chance of your getting a “sidekick” in these stories- like maybe a handsome tuxedo cat–anytime soon?

Affirmative! I fall madly in love in Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer. Noe-Noe is an orange tabby seductress with eyes the color of mustard and stripes the color of marigolds. When the sun bounces off her silken ears, her fur looks like rows of buttercups set in a field of marigolds, shot through a summer sunset. Her eyes, midnight slits peeking through golden moons… Sigh! But I digress. Yes. She becomes my sidekick in this and the next story in the series, Black Cat and the Accidental Angel, due to be in print mid-2015, which picks up where Lethal Lawyer leaves off. Noe-Noe is saucy and snippy but I love every inch of her from her nose to the kink in her tail.  

R:  Just for fun…

Catnip or scratching post?.  Umm…scratching post.. or couch. Same thing

Tabbies or Tuxedos?  Definitely, tabbies

Fish or Steak?  We don’t do fish in our house, so I guess steak

Shakespeare or Stephen King?  Yikes! Neither. Give me a good Sneaky Pie or Cat Who any day of the week. Or better yet, one of Mom’s books. They’re the best.

Thanks Thumper!

Thumper’s human, Elaine Faber, will give away an e-copy of Black Cat Legacy to one lucky commenter!  To enter, leave your name and email address in the comments section of this post. For extra entries, you can:

Follow moi on Twitter @RoccoBlogger

Follow the human, Toni LoTempio, on Facebook

Subscribe to this blog

Tweet or FB about this contest!

Contest ends midnight,Nov. 21. Winner chosen at random by Good luck!

Monday, November 10, 2014

We welcome Eve Sandstrom aka Joanna Carl to the blog!

Today my guest is author Eve Sandstrom aka Joanna Carl!
JoAnna Carl and Eve K. Sandstrom both write mystery novels which rely on regional settings for atmosphere, background and clues. JoAnna writes about the shores of Lake Michigan and has been reviewed in Michigan newspapers as a “regional writer.”
Eve writes about Southwest Oklahoma and once won an award for the best book of the year with an Oklahoma setting. It’s no particular secret that Eve and JoAnna occupy the same body.
Talk about your split personalities……
R: Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing!
When I was six, I became interested in reading. Need I say more? The first “real” book I read – one that didn’t have pictures on every page – was Nancy Drew. My mother kept the house filled with Mary Roberts Rinehart and Agatha Christie. I always loved mysteries and knew I wanted to write them.
R:  As JoAnna Carl, you write the Chocoholic mystery series. Tell us how that came about and about your latest release.
The Chocoholic Mysteries were born because my then editor wanted me to try something cozy. What is more cozy than chocolate?  The latest, THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE, is the fourteenth and will come out in November. In it my detective, Lee McKinney Woodyard, gets involved in the death of a professional clown who’s not all that funny. The previous book, THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT, will be out in paperback at the same time.
R: Tell us about your other mystery series, written as Eve Sandstrom.  Out of all of them do you have a favorite?
My first series, The Down Home books, was a tribute to Tony Hillerman. Highly regional. My favorite among those was THE DOWN HOME HEIFER HEIST, maybe because it won the Oklahoma Book Award. If you’re writing regional, winning a state award is tops! The second series,  the Nell and Mike books, was about a young woman news reporter who is covering the crime beat and finds herself far too involved with a very sexy detective. My favorite of those is the first, THE VIOLENCE BEAT.  I worked as a newspaper woman for 25 years, and always swore I’d never write fiction with that background. But I loved Nell and Mike. In the news world the “violence beat” is what they call the police-fire-sheriff beat. These books are not cozy, but “harder edged,” which is editor-speak for more sex and violence.
R: Tell us about the “chocolate lore” you feature in each book. Is that fun to research?
It’s always fun to read about chocolate! I just stumble across a lot of the lore in magazines or newspapers. Or people send me information.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
My agent story isn’t very dramatic, but may have some significance. I got my first agent when a fellow writer recommended hers and said, “You can use my name.” When that relationship soured, I got my current agent on the recommendation of my editor, who said, “Call this agent, and you can use my name.” The moral here is: It’s all in who you know, and if you don’t know the right people, get out and meet them. Seriously, if you want to sell your writing, get out and meet writers, agents and editors. This isn’t impossible. Go to workshops, join organizations, take classes. That’s how you meet people.
As for how I felt when my first mystery sold, well, I could hardly speak. I kept saying, “A hardback?”
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
An Oklahoma writer named Jean Hager once said, “Some people  say they can’t write unless they are inspired. The truth is, you can’t get inspired unless you write.” Do I always follow that rule? No, I get distracted  by life and let it slide. But the answer is that simple.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
Sometime in the 18th Century. That era has always appealed to me.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Nothing I do seems very surprising. I’m the mother of twins? I married a Yankee? I eat a lot of chocolate? So what else is new?
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
I’m not all that crazy. But maybe the most interesting things I ever did were interviewing interesting people. One was Stan Kenton and another the Crown Prince of  Luxembourg. Meeting people like that is one of the benefits of a news career.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
Good is better than evil. But I think mystery readers already know that.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m now working on THE CHOCOLATE FALCON FRAUD, in which Lee Woodyard gets mixed up in a festival celebrating the Noir film and the most famous  movie of that genre, THE MALTESE FALCON.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A combination. I do a rough outline, but don’t pay a lot of attention to it.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I gave it above. Get out and meet other writers, take classes, go to workshops – in other words, network. If you can’t get out, do it on line. Make sure you use common sense about people and their motives; in other words, don’t pay somebody to publish your work. You’re the talent; they pay you.
Live – you have to have an understanding of life and of people, and sometimes that means learning to deal with adversity, sorrow, and joy. The most educational writing experience I ever had was sitting in an ICU waiting room when my father was dying. Life brings experiences like that, even if we’d rather it didn’t, and that’s what gives you understanding of life and makes you a writer.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night. Or maybe day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  This is so humiliating! I like both animals, but I’m allergic to cats, though I love them, and we travel too much to have a dog. We have two ‘grand-dogs,’ a golden retriever and a Yorkie.  And our son for a time raised alpacas. They are lovely little animals.
Beach or Pool? Beach (on Lake Michigan)  
Steak or salad?  Both
Favorite Drink?  Diet Coke or iced tea
Favorite Book?  TRUE GRIT, by Charles Portis
Favorite TV Series?  Too hard to choose
Favorite Movie?  SHANE
Favorite Actor: One who fits the role (But Gregory Peck fit any role.)
Favorite Actress: Ditto
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Gin and tonic
Hawaii or Alaska? Oklahoma or Michigan
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be my Choctaw great-great-grandmother.
If I had just one wish, it would be world peace. An end to hunger?  That I knew what happens in my next chapter?
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one.  Someone has to be me, and I got the job.
Find Eve/Joanna at her web site: or
Eve will give away  two books to one lucky commenters!  Hardbacks  of  THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE and THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT. To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Open to US residents only - ends 11/15 midnight.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

ROCCO welcomes author Maya Corrigan to the blog!



Maya Corrigan lives near Washington, D.C., within easy driving distance of Maryland's Eastern Shore, the setting for her series. She has taught courses in writing, detective fiction, and American literature at Georgetown University and NOVA community college. In 2013 she won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Unpublished Mystery/Suspense. Her short stories, written under the name of Mary Ann Corrigan, have been published in anthologies, including the Chesapeake Crimes series. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, tennis, trivia, cooking, and crosswords. Her website features trivia about mysteries:



R: Welcome Maya! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing!


Thank you, Toni and Rocco, for inviting me to your blog.

I became interested in writing through reading. When I was growing up, I had two libraries within walking distance of my house and visited both at least once a week. I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen and enjoyed watching my friends smile or laugh as they read it. One of them laughed in the wrong places, but I forgave her . . . after about thirty years. The vocational aptitude test I had to take in high school told me to be a writer, and not to even think about being a farmer or a mechanic. Good advice.


R:  Tell us about your Five Ingredient mystery series. How did that come about?


The series features a café manager and former cookbook publicist who solves murders with help from her curmudgeonly grandfather and her friends from the athletic club café. By Cook or by Crook is the first book in this culinary mystery series. The five ingredients refer to the recipes included in the book, the five suspects in the murder, and the five clues my sleuth, Val, uncovers.


The series grew out of a traditional mystery I’d written and put aside for a few years. It was fairly dark, beginning with the deaths of two people close to my main character. When I wrote a culinary whodunit story, “Delicious Death,” for a Chesapeake Crimes anthology, I found my niche and decided to combine food and murder in a longer work. I dusted off that other manuscript, lightened it up by resurrecting the two dead people at the start, one of whom is Val’s grandfather, and revised the book as the start of a cozy series. By the way, you can read “Delicious Death” on my website.



R: Your series is set in the Chesapeake Bay area. Is that an area close to your heart?


My series takes place in a fictional waterfront town, Bayport, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I love the region’s historic small towns. Though not far from either Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, the area is a world away with its peaceful landscapes and water views. It’s a farming and fishing region now as it was in colonial times. It’s also a mecca for tourists who enjoy boating, birding, fishing, hunting, and antiquing. So you have old-timers and newcomers, year-round residents and summer visitors, people who live modestly and those who live lavishly in waterfront mansions--lots of possibilities for conflict and comedy.


R: Do you have a favorite Chesapeake Area recipe you’d like to share?


Eating Chesapeake Bay specialties often means getting your hands dirty. Hard-shell crabs make the most mess. Peel-and-eat shrimp are a close second. But they’re quick and easy to make because you don’t peel the shrimp. That’s the job of the person who eats them, not the cook.


For a pound or so of large shrimp (30-40 count per pound):

Combine a cup of cider vinegar, a cup of water, and 3 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning. Bring the mix to a boil in a large pot. Add the shrimp, stir, and cover the pot. Once the water boils again, cook for two minutes and drain the shrimp. Cook longer if you use larger shrimp, but be careful not to overcook because the shrimp will lose their taste and become tough.


Serve with a cocktail sauce, either store bought or homemade. An easy sauce has three ingredients: ketchup, lemon juice, and horseradish in whatever proportions taste good to you.  



Some recipes call for flat beer instead of water. I prefer the beer cold and open it when the shrimp are ready to eat.

Old Bay is the most common Chesapeake seasoning you will see in supermarkets, but other companies make it too or you can make your own from recipes online.


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?


I heard through Sisters in Crime about an agent willing to represent a cozy mystery series based on a proposal. I reworked that earlier book I mentioned to highlight its cozy elements, wrote a synopsis for two more books in the series, and sent in the proposal. The agent accepted it.


When I got the call about the sale, I was driving back from an appointment with my foot surgeon, who told me I could go without a cast or a boot for the first time in two months., so it was already a good day. Then it got better. The caller ID on my cell phone alerted me that my agent was calling. I knew he’d submitted the proposal five days earlier to a publisher, and I figured he wasn’t calling me to give me bad news. 


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


Though I work most of the time in a quiet room, I can write anywhere, including in a hotel lobby or an airport waiting area. When I write, I’m so wrapped up in my story that hours can go by without my noticing. Fortunately, my stomach reminds me to eat often. That gets me walking at least as far as the kitchen and keeps me from getting too stiff.


Sleep helps my creative process more than anything else. Sometimes I go to bed with a lingering writing problem. I can’t figure out how to liven up a conversation between two characters or where to insert a clue. The next morning I wake up with a solution to the problem because my subconscious has worked it out overnight.


R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

The second half of the nineteenth century fascinates me because of the huge social changes that took place: the freeing of the slaves in the U.S., the women’s suffrage movement, inventions in transportation, communication, and energy that changed how people lived. The vibrant literary life of that period also attracts me. When Charles Dickens went on tour in the U.S., he was greeted like a rock star and drew huge crowds.  


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

Most people don’t know that I’m shy because I have no trouble speaking to a large group. Belonging to my high school debate team and teaching for 15 years gave me a lot of practice talking to a room full of people. But in smaller groups, I’m often tongue-tied though I love talking to people.


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

Leaving aside my youthful indiscretions, I did something most people would consider crazy as part of the research for By Cook or by Crook. To test if an incident from my first chapter could actually happen, I set something on fire that probably no one had ever before intentionally burned. I recorded the sight, sound, and smell of the blaze so that could put those sense details on the page. If you want to know what I set on fire, you’ll have to read the book.  


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


You’re never too old to try something new. My sleuth’s sidekick, her grandfather, is in his seventies when he takes up cooking. My father did the same thing when he was in his eighties. He was the inspiration for the Codger Cook. My fiction writing career illustrates the same idea. I had grandkids before my first mystery book was published.  

R: What are you working on at the moment / next?

I’m finishing the manuscript of SCAM CHOWDER, the second of the Five-Ingredient Mysteries, scheduled for publication in June, 2015.  Financial frauds against senior citizens are central to the story. Val’s grandfather has a larger role in this book than in the first one. In fact, Val and I will have to watch him or he might take over the series.

R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A plotter when writing, a pantser when cooking. I do a scene-by-scene outline before I start, but it’s fluid: I’ll add or subtract or move a scene as needed as the story develops.  It’s more of a challenge for me to write down everything I’m doing when I prepare one of the recipes that are included with the book.

R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Never give up. The difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is persistence.  A writer also needs feedback, so joining a critique group will push your writing to a new level.


Just for Fun:


Night or Day?  Day

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I’m too ignorant to choose, having had only one of those as a pet.   

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad every day, steak rare and rarely

Favorite Drink?  By day, tea (I drink a gallon a week). By night, almost any Italian wine or German beer.

Favorite Book?  Pride and Prejudice

Favorite TV Series?  The Good Wife

Favorite Movie?  Casablanca

Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp

Favorite Actress: Janet McTeer

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii

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

If I had just one wish, it would be that everyone sign up as an organ donor; It’s a way to save a life that costs you nothing. 

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be any author who writes two good books a year (for example., Anne Perry); I’d like to trade places for a day to learn the secret of writing fast.  


Thanks for a great interview, Maya! Folks, you can find out more about Maya here:


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Maya will give away An Advanced Reader Copy of By Cook or by Crook to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave a comment with your email address in the comments section of this post! For extra entries, you can:


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Contest open to US residents only and ends midnight, November 9! Winner chosen at random by!


Coming in November:

Eve Sandstrom, Thumper, and Twinkletoes and Krista Davis!

And on December 2: in honor of the human’s debut of Meow if its Murder…an interview with yours truly!