Friday, July 26, 2019

ROCCO welcomes Anna Gerard aka Diane A.S. Stuckart!

Welcome, Anna!  Tell us a little about your background

  I’m Anna Gerard a/k/a Ali Brandon (the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries) and Diane A.S. Stuckart  (the Tarot Cat Mystery Series and the Leonardo da Vinci Mystery series) and Alexa Smart (from back in my historical romance days!). I’ve been writing and publishing since the 1990s and am pretty much known as a Cozy Mystery writer these days.

Tell us a bit about your latest book
  PEACH CLOBBERED is the first in my new Georgia B&B Mystery series from Crooked Lane Books. It’s set in the fictional town of Cymbeline, south and west of Savannah. My amateur sleuth, Nina Fleet (pronounced NINE-ah) is recently single and new to Cymbeline, where she impulsively purchased a 3-story Queen Anne home with the proceeds from her divorce. Life should be peachy for her, but things (like murder) are putting a crimp in her new Bed and Breakfast venture. And then there’s that actor, Harry Westcott. He’s the grand-nephew of Fleet House’s previous owner and claims the house was supposed to have been willed to him. And he’s not letting the place go without a fight.

How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
 I get to know them like I get to know any real-life people I meet, by hanging out with them over time and learning how they tick. I don’t create full-blown bios for my characters until I’ve been writing about them for a while.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
 I’m a pantser at the beginning of my book but in the last 1/3 to 1/4 I do start informally outlining to make sure I have hit all the plot points and wrapped up all the necessary details.

Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
 Depends on the genre of the book but, in general, strong characters can save a weak plot. A great plot is less great if the characters are cardboard.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
 I’m putting the final touches on PEACHY SCREAM, book 2 in the Georgia B&B series. I’m going to be self-publishing a couple of small projects and then it’s on to GBB book 3.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
 I work a full-time day job and have lots of other commitments, so I squeeze in writing on my lunch hour and after work and the weekends (I’ve tried getting up at 5AM to write but, nope!).

What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
 Be willing to put in the work. No great book was ever dashed off in one draft. And once you’re published, be smart about what you dig in your heels about as far as changing or cutting your manuscript. If you protest every comma that’s cut, it will be harder to keep the things that really mean something to you.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both (I’m bi-petual!)
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Salad
Favorite Drink?  Diet Coke
Favorite Book?   Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels
Favorite TV Series?  Currently, Ink Master
Favorite Movie?  Bowfinger
Favorite Actor:   Michael Caine
Favorite Actress:  Helen Mirren
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 Leonardo da Vinci
If I had just one wish, it would be World peace!  Kidding…but, actually, it would be world tolerance and commonsense. 
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be  one of my dogs or cats because they live great lives.

Thursday, July 11, 2019


Ma-Row! time to review the July cozies!

A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime
July 16, 2019
Five Stars

This is another exciting insalment in the Cat in the Stacks mystery series featuring librarian Charlie Harris and his cat,Diesel.

Charlie has enrolled in  an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.

 Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie's death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer. 
As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another  more sinister motive? Charlie  races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…

James does not disappoint and fans will enjoy solving the crime along with Charlie and Diesel. A defiite five paws!!!

A Helping Hands Mystery
Annelise Ryan
July 30, 2019
Four and a half paws

As a colleague of deputy coroner Mattie Winston, social worker Clothilde “Hildy” Schneider is no stranger to unsolved murders at Sorenson General Hospital. Except this time, it’s up to her to crack the case . . . 

Motivated by her own difficult past, Hildy has an unparalleled commitment to supporting troubled clients through grief and addiction in Sorenson, Wisconsin. But when a distraught group therapy member reveals disturbing details about her late son’s potential murder, Hildy goes from dedicated mental health professional to in-over-her-head amateur sleuth . . .

Alongside her loyal therapy Golden Retriever, Hildy stumbles through incriminating clues—and an unlikely partnership with Detective Bob Richmond, the irresistibly headstrong cop who shares her passion for helping others. With signs of foul play surfacing all over town, can Hildy and Detective Richmond pinpoint the deadly traits of a sharp-witted killer before another seat gets filled at grief therapy?

this looks like a good series. Recommend.

A Witchcraft Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
june 25, 2019
Juliet Blackwell
Five Paws

When Lily Ivory stumbles on the uniform of a former prisoner from Alcatraz and SFPD inspector Carlos Romero’s cousin is kidnapped, Lily suspects something dangerous has been unleashed on the ghost-ridden island of Alcatraz. She'll have to sleuth out the culprit—when she’s not busy entertaining her visiting relatives and resolving romantic conflicts as her wedding date approaches. Could recent omens be pointing to the magical threat in her adopted city? If so, she'll have to line up her allies to change the fate of the Bay Area. Because no matter what, Lily's determined to celebrate her marriage with her friends by her side—even if it means battling a demonic foe before she can make it to the altar.

Fans of this longtime series will not be disappointed as Lily juggles sleuthing with wedding planning.  Juliet Blackwell remains one of my favorite authors.  A definite five paws!  If you are looking for a good cozy and arealso a fan of things supernatural I highly recommend this series.

Bookmobile Cat Mystery
Laurie Cass
Berkley Prime Crime
July 2, 2019

Five Paws!

Minnie, everyone's favorite librarian and her mystery loving cat Eddie are back for another adventure!

Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, cruise around lovely Chilson, Michigan delivering happiness and good reads in their bookmobile. But the feisty librarian is worried that the bookmobile's future could be uncertain when a new library board chair arrives and doesn't seem too friendly to her pet project. 

Still, she has to put her personal worries aside when she and Eddie are out on their regular route and one of their favorite customers doesn't turn up to collect her books. Minnie, at Eddie's prodding, checks on the woman and finds her lying dead in her snow-covered driveway. Now it's up to Minnie and her friends--feline and otherwise--to find the perpetrator and give them their due.

always enjoyable watching Minnie and Eddie figure out whodunit.  I liked that Minnie is ending up with Rafe, they seem suited to each other!  Another five paw mystery for July!

A Cookie House Mystery
Eve Calder
St. Marltin's.
July 30, 2019
Four and a half paws

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!  She’s a talented pastry chef―with a secret recipe for solving crimes…
Kate McGuire’s life was sweet in Manhattan before she lost her restaurant job and fiancé both. But sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and soon she finds herself starting from scratch in the island town of Coral Cay, Florida. It has everything she’s looking for: sunny beaches, friendly locals, and a Help Wanted sign in the bakery shop window. Once she convinces the shop’s crusty owner Sam Hepplewhite to hire her, Kate can’t tie on her apron fast enough. Little does she know that trouble, like warm dough, is on the rise. . .
Stewart Lord is a real estate developer with a taste for a different type of dough: the green kind. He knows that he could make a killing by purchasing the Cookie House from Sam, who flat-out refuses to sell. But when Stewart turns up the heat on Sam―then turns up dead after eating a fresh batch of Sam’s cinnamon rolls―all eyes focus on the town’s beloved bakery. When the police arrest Sam for murder, Kate must somehow prove that her curmudgeonly boss is innocent. Enlisting the help of a team of lovable locals, Kate sets out to catch the real culprit with his hand in the cookie jar…before someone else gets burned.

This seems like an excellent debut and definitely one to watch!  After all, who doens't like a mystery involivng food?????

JULY 30, 2019

As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

Another entertaining series!  And since we've lost the Garage Sale Mysteries on Hallmark, this is an engaging substitute. Four Paws.


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Contest closes midnight, July 20!