Saturday, May 25, 2019

ROCCO interviews author Debra Sennefelder!

This week my guest is author Debra Sennefelder!

Debra Sennefelder is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. Her first novel, THE UNINVITED CORPSE (A Food Blogger mystery) was published in 2018.
She is an avid reader who reads across a range of genres, but mystery fiction is her obsession. Her interest in people and relationships is channeled into her novels against a backdrop of crime and mystery. When she’s not reading, she enjoys cooking and baking and as a former food blogger, she is constantly taking photographs of her food. Yeah, she’s that person.
Born and raised in New York City, where she majored in her hobby of fashion buying, she now lives and writes in Connecticut with her family. She’s worked in retail and publishing before becoming a full-time author. Her writing companions are her adorable and slightly spoiled Shih-Tzus, Susie and Billy.

Welcome Debra!
Tell us a little about your background –
I was born and raised in New York City and moved to Connecticut after I married. I majored in Fashion Buying and Merchandising and went on to work in retail and publishing. I also wrote a food blog for several years before becoming a full-time author.I have two writing companions, my Shih-Tzus. Susie is 15 and Billy is 14.

Tell us a little about your latest book -
THE HIDDEN CORPSE, book 2 in the Food Blogger Mystery series released in late March. It was so much fun to write. Hope Early, the blogger behind Hope at Home, is taking a food photography class when a tragedy strikes her neighbor’s home. When elderly Peggy Olson perishes in a home fire, Hope can’t help but feel somewhat responsible. Only the day before, Peggy had called her over, having burned a pot on the stove while she was sleeping and filling the house with smoke. In fact, she couldn’t even remember cooking. Clearly, it was dangerous for the woman to live alone. But it turns out she wasn’t alone. When a second body is discovered in the basement of the burned house, suddenly what appeared to be a tragic accident is beginning to look like premeditated murder. As rumors spread like wildfire, Hope is determined to sort out the facts and smoke out a killer, but she might be jumping from the frying pan straight into the fire. There are also recipes from Hope’s blog included in the book.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I outline. My outlines tend to be between 20-25 pages. Years ago, I wasn’t an outliner but I slowly came around and now I can’t imagine writing a book without an outline. But even though I have a very extensive outline, things do change. I may add scenes, delete scenes or add an extra character. I often joke my outline is written on a Word document, not carved in stone so it can be tweaked.

Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Great question. Both are important but I think character is more important for me. I could come up with the greatest, most twisty plot but if I don’t have the right characters then I won’t have a story anyone wants to read.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m currently working on book four in the Food Blogger series. I’ve recently gotten a new contract for books four and five. Book three, Three Widows and A Corpse comes out on October 29th. I also write the Resale Boutique Mystery series. The first book in that series, Murder Wears a Little Black Dress came out in January and the second book, Silenced in Sequins, comes out in January 2020. I do have a lot going on and I’m loving it.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I get up early every morning and I’m at my desk to start work at 8am. Writing, whether it’s new words for a first draft or revising for subsequent drafts, is done first thing. When I’m writing a first draft, I have a daily word count of 3,000 words and I’m usually able to get those done by lunch time. Mid-day I break to exercise, have lunch and take the pups for a walk. When I return to my office after the break, I’ll work on marketing, promotion, run errands, and if necessary, finish up writing if I didn’t meet my morning goal.

What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
The best advice I feel I can give is to not give up. I had so many opportunities over the years to throw my hands up and quit. I did take some time away to write my food blog, but I never really stopped writing fiction. I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both. The cat in the Resale Boutique Mystery series is based on Howard, the cat we had for 14 years.
Beach or Pool?   Neither. I burn too easily.
Steak or salad?  Salad.
Favorite Drink?  Coffee.
Favorite Book?  Too many to pick one.
Favorite TV Series?  So many. But my current obsession is Chicago PD. How have I not watched this show sooner?
Favorite Movie?  The Devil Wears Prada
Favorite Actor: Mark Harmon
Favorite Actress: Sandra Bullock
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? I’m not sure. I haven’t tried either.
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska. I’ve been to Hawaii already. I’d love to visit Alaska someday.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Agatha Christie.
If I had just one wish, it would be to make my Shih-Tzu Susie healthy. She’s just been diagnosed with kidney disease.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Bobbi Parker Hall. She’s a fitness competitor over 50 and I’d love to train like her for a day. I love exercise that much.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

ROCCO interviews Kylie Logan!

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

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

Welcome to the blog, Kylie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

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

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

Thank you, Kylie

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

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

Saturday, May 4, 2019


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

Starting off with one of my favorite series
Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery
  • Publication Date: May 28, 2019
  • Five Stars\

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cupcake Bakery Mystery
Jenn McKinley
May 8, 2019
four and one half stars

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

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

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

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

Gaslight Mystery
Victoria Thompson
April 30, 2019
four Stars

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

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

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


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