Posted in Author Spotlight, Cozy Mystery, New Releases

Interview with Author Toni LoTempio and Spotlight for her New Release, Hiss “H” for Homicide

Author Toni LoTempio, writing as T.C. LoTempio is here with me today on Ruff Drafts to talk about her writing and new cozy mystery. Toni hairs from Phoenix, Arizona.

Welcome, Toni. How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I’ve been traditionally published since December 2014 with the first Nick and Nora mystery. Before that I self published several paranormal suspense books under Toni LoTempio. 

With Penguin/Random House, the Nick and Nora Mysteries, first three: Meow if it’s Murder, Claws for Alarm, Crime and Catnip. With Beyond the Page: Hiss H for Homicide

With Crooked Lane:  Cat Rescue mysteries: Purr M for Murder, Death by a Whisker

With Midnight Ink:  Pet Shop Mystery #1, Meow is the Time for Murder; with Beyond the Page, Pet Shop Mystery #2, Killers of a Feather (due out late 2021)

That’s quite a writing history.

Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.

The Nick and Nora mysteries are about Nora Charles, an ex-investigative reporter, and her tuxedo cat, Nick, who stumble into and solve mysteries kind of like the original Nick and Nora Charles, only without the martinis and Asta LOL.  The latest release in this series is Hiss H for Homicide, where Nick and Nora try to clear her  mother’s friend, a romance writer, of the murder of her ex-partner.  Book 5, Murder Faux Paws, will be out in 2022.

The Pet Shop Mysteries feature Crishell “Shell” McMillan as an ex-actress turned pet shop owner. She also solves mysteries with the aid of her cats, Purrday, a one-eyed Persian and Kahlua, a Siamese, and her ex-costar, Gary Presser.  Book two, Killers of a Feather, out later this year, deals with Shell trying to clear her friend Rita of the murder of a man who supposedly swindled her and her husband years ago.

Those all sound interesting. Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

My primary goal as a writer is to entertain, which I hope my books do. In the next few years I would like to reach my goal of twelve Nick and Nora mysteries.  Good sales will  help  me accomplish that goal.

I hope you luck with that. What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

Anyone who enjoys a good cozy mystery, along the lines of Murder She Wrote, and who loves animals, especially cats, would probably enjoy my books!

I’m sure I would like them, as I also write a cozy mystery, the Cobble Cove Mysteries, featuring Sneaky the Library Cat.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Keep trying, don’t give up.  Make rejection your friend and learn from it, because in the  beginning you’ll hear that word a lot!

Great advice. What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

I actually started out writing horror, but switched to mysteries when I was told that unless you were Stephen King there was no market for horror.  I had ten years of rejections from publishers and agents before I finally got my agent and my first traditional publishing contract. In the meantime, I did self-publish paranormal suspense.

How inspiring. I’ve been writing and publishing with Indie publishers for 5 years now and am still seeking an agent.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

Are there any other hobbies and interests LOL.  I would say I enjoy reading and I’m also a big Gray’s Anatomy fan.

Reading is always a good hobby for a writer to have as well as watching a popular TV show.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

I like having the freedom to create characters and worlds, and hopefully people enjoy them.  Toughest challenge:  Selling something in today’s market.

I think most writers feel the same way.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I like the small town flavor, the fact that the blood and gore is kept off-page.  Sometimes I feel too much is a turn off for the reader.

I definitely agree with that. Besides not being excessively gory, cozy mysteries also don’t feature explicit sex scenes or bad language.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

I could hear the chimes echo eerily through the house, but no one came to the door. Nick suddenly let out a sharp meow. Next thing I knew, he’d hopped down from the railing and started to trot around the house. I hesitated only briefly and then hurried after him. Around the side of the house was a wall comprised of glass doors. Nick paused before it, his tail sticking straight out in back of him. I walked over to the doors and saw that one was slightly ajar. Nick turned and looked at me expectantly.

“Oh, no.” I shook my head. “That’s breaking and entering, buddy. We can’t just barge in here.”

Nick turned his back on me, and before I could do more than blink, he’d miraculously managed to squeeze his plump body through the opening.

“Great,” I muttered. Well, I couldn’t just abandon him. I walked over to the door and gave it a tentative push. It swung back, and I stepped inside.

The house was deceptive. It was definitely larger than it appeared, which might have been part of its charm and could account for Marlene’s decision to acquire the rental. As I moved cautiously around, poking my head into rooms filled with antique trappings and silk-covered sofas definitely too fragile to sit on, I realized why most people had been loath to rent it. Who wanted to live in a museum? I kept on meandering, calling out Marlene’s name, but only a thick silence answered me.

Nick was sitting in front of the circular staircase, tail wrapped around his paws. “Come on,” I said. “She’s not here. We’ll come back another time.”


With that, he uncurled his tail and scooted up the staircase. At the top landing he paused and looked back at me as if to say: What’s keeping you, human?

“I should leave you here,” I muttered, but my niggling sense of curiosity won out over my better judgment and I climbed the staircase, the sound of my heels muffled by the expensive carpeting that covered the stairs. A wide hallway extended itself on either side of me, and no sign of my tubby tuxedo. “Nick,” I hissed. “Where are you, you devil?”

No response, so I moved over toward the right side and opened the first door, which appeared to be a bedroom, and a holy mess. The bedclothes had been stripped from the massive canopied king-sized bed and thrown in a ball in its center. Drawers were pulled out of the cherrywood highboy and dresser and hung limply, their contents strewn helter-skelter around the room. A high-backed chair was overturned in the middle of the floor, and the closet door was half open. I could see dresses hanging half off hangers, and a half-open suitcase was propped up against the interior.

“Oh my God,” I cried. It certainly looked as if someone had been searching for something. A thief, perhaps? A chill ran down my spine at my next thought: Could he still be here? Had Marlene possibly caught him in the act? I stepped back into the hallway, uncertain what my next move should be.


The cry came from the left, so I moved in that direction. I saw Nick, squatting before a door at the end of the hallway; he looked up, saw me, and ducked inside. I hurried down the hall and peered into the darkened room. It was set up as an office, boasting a small cherrywood desk, file cabinet, and a laptop square in the desk’s center. “Nick,” I hissed. “Where are you?”


“I hear you, Nick, but I can’t see you. This room is too dark to spot a cat that’s mostly black.”

I felt along the wall and finally my fingers touched a light switch. I flicked it on, illuminating a table lamp that cast a rosy glow through the room—and highlighted the colorless face of the woman slumped on the floor just to the left of the desk. I sucked in my breath.

Even though I’d never met her in person, I’d seen enough pictures on the inside covers of her books to know the woman framed in the circle of dim light was Marlene McCambridge—and she looked to be stone-cold dead.

Great excerpt. Thanks for sharing.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

The Return of Nick and Nora has been a long time coming…I hope fans will agree it was worth the wait.

It took me two years to write the 5th Cobble Cove mystery because I was writing standalones in between, but I also wrote some Cobble Cove short ebooks in between. I think fans like authors to write books in the series as fast as possible, but they understand that isn’t always possible. It also may bring you new fans for the first in the series.

Please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. and include some book cover graphics and author photos if possible.

Thanks so much, Toni. I’m featuring your blog tour and giveaway below. Best wishes on your new release.

Hiss H for Homicide (A Nick and Nora Mystery)
by T. C. LoTempio

About Hiss H For Homicide

Hiss H for Homicide (A Nick and Nora Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series – 1st with this publisher
Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing (February 9, 2021)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-10: 1950461947
ISBN-13: 978-1950461943
Digital ASIN: B08QW7Z25S

Nick and Nora are back in a tantalizing new mystery that’s far more dangerous than a game of cat and mouse . . .
Never one to turn away from a challenge—even when it goes against her better judgment—Nora Charles can hardly say no when an old friend of her mother’s comes to town seeking her help. The author of steamy romances has learned that her writing partner is severing their relationship and threatening to reveal dark and dirty secrets in a tell-all, and she pleads with Nora to intervene. Reluctantly agreeing to help, Nora pays a visit to the writing partner, ready to make her case—right up until the moment she discovers the woman’s lifeless body.

With the police convinced that Nora’s friend is the culprit, she and Nick begin delving into the dead woman’s past and her provocative tell-all. It soon becomes apparent that the woman had a knack for digging up dirt and wasn’t shy about exposing skeletons in closets, and before long Nora has a seemingly endless list of suspects who were at risk of having their darkest secrets revealed. With a police force intent on throwing the book at Nora’s friend and time running out, she and Nick must outwit a dangerous killer before they take their own secrets to the grave . . .

About T. C. LoTempio

While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She and her cat pen the Nick and Nora mystery series originally from Berkley Prime Crime and now with Beyond the Page Publishing. They also write the Cat Rescue series from Crooked Lane and the Pet Shop series, originally published by Midnight Ink and continued in 2021 with book two, KILLERS OF A FEATHER, from Beyond the Page. Catch up with them at ROCCO’s blog, or her website,

Author Links

ROCCO’s blog:



Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKOBOGoogle Play

a Rafflecopter giveaway


February 8 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

February 9 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

February 10 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – CHARACTER GUEST POST

February 10 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST. INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

February 12 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

February 12 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW


February 14 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

February 15 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

February 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

February 16 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

February 17 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

February 18 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW

February 19 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

February 20 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

February 21 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

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Posted in Authors, Books, Cats, Cozies, Cozy Chat, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series

Cozy Chat with Dianne Harman

cozycatpicToday, I have the pleasure of chatting with Dianne Harman about her High Desert cozy mystery series.

Hi, Dianne. Thanks for joining us. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.


HDCS_1Can you tell us a little bit about your series? What gave you the idea for it?

My husband’s uncle lived in a compound with three other artists in the high desert outside of Palm Springs, California. We visited him several times, and I was always charmed by the four homes which surrounded a central courtyard. It had a large tree filled with twinkling lights, and it stayed with me. I was an art and antique appraiser prior to becoming an author, and it was a natural to combine the two. I love food and dogs, so they found their way in as well. One of the people who lives in the compound has a food truck, the antique appraiser has a black Labrador retriever who wears pink booties, and I have a recipe section in all of my books.

Very nice. Books always seem more realistic when authors base them on their own experiences and knowledge. My book, A Stone’s Throw, features a librarian like me and a cat and dog. I’m a pet lover, especially of cats, and the Siamese in the book is based on my 16-year old cat, Oliver.

Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?

Just do it! You don’t need one more class, one more critique group, one more anything. You learn as you go, and believe me, the more you write, the more you’ll learn.

I agree. Even though writing classes and groups can be helpful, experience is the best teacher.

What are you currently working on?

I launched a new series this week, the Jack Trout Cozy Mystery Series. One of my books in the Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery Series is about an English guide being murdered while fishing in Cuba. My husband and I were fortunate enough to go to Cuba recently with Jack, who is a fishing guide. People responded so favorably to Jack and his wife, Carola, that I decided to do a series about them and fishing different places. Murdered in Argentina, released July 18th, is based on a trip we recently took with them to Chile and Argentina. I fell in love with a small little town, San Martin de Los Andes, and decided to base the book there.

That sounds terrific. Best of luck with that. I’m sure there will be a lot of interest from your readers.

Do you write any other genres than cozies?

I wrote the Coyote Series, three psychological thrillers, prior to writing cozy mysteries.

Interesting. I just finished a psychological thriller tentatively titled “Sea Scope” that I hope to publish next year. My sequel to “A Stone’s Throw” will hopefully be out soon, as well, and I have a great idea for a pet cozy series that I’d like to start. 

Can you tell me how you got started in writing?

My husband and I were attending a wedding in Palm Springs, California. It was October and the temperature was 107. The air conditioning was so quiet that I happened to make the comment “Wouldn’t it be wild if someone put a ‘feel good drug’ in the air conditioner and everyone felt good all the time?” My husband looked at me and said the words that started a whole new career for me, “Why don’t you write a book about it?” And so I did.

What a great story.

What are your hobbies besides writing?

I love to cook, and I love to read. Plus, you’ll always find at least one dog in our household, often more than that!

Pets are great additions to a home. They really become part of the family. I have one daughter, but my two male cats are almost like baby sons to me.

Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?

I’m just so grateful that readers have consistently made my books best sellers. This was something that was never planned when the word “retirement” came up, but I love every minute of it!

I can imagine what a great feeling that is, Diane. I’m just starting to build my writing business although I’ve been writing for a long time. I hope to be as successful as you. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s worth it to know there are people reading and enjoying your books. I hope I can also make it a full-time career when I retire in ten years or so.

Can you share some links with us of your social media sites and Amazon page?

Web Site
Twitter: @DianneDHarman

Thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Best of luck on your new series and forthcoming books.



Posted in Authors, Books, Cats, Cozies, Cozy Chat, Cozy Mysteries, Cozy Mystery, Cozy Series

Cozy Chat with T.C. LoTempio

cozycatpicAlthough I consider myself a romantic suspense author and fan, I also used to be an avid reader of cozy mysteries especially those featuring cats. For those of you who also share that interest, I will be featuring Cozy Chats with cozy mystery authors on this blog. If you are an author who writes a cozy series and would like to participate in a future Cozy Chat, please contact me.

The first guest I have the pleasure of speaking with for a Cozy Chat is T.C. (Toni) LoTiempo about her cat cozy mystery series, Nick and Nora. The second book in this series, “Claws for Alarm” is being released on Tuesday, November 3rd.

Hi, Toni. Thanks for joining us on Cozy Chat. Have a seat and help yourself to some tea while we talk.

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Can you tell us a little bit about the Nick and Nora series? What gave you the idea for it?

Nick and Nora is a takeoff on the old ‘Thin Man’ series, only instead of a man and a woman, it’s  cat and a woman. J  Nora Charles is an ex-true crime reporter who returns to her hometown of Cruz, California to take over her deceased mother’s sandwich shop.  Along the way she adopts a tuxedo cat that she names Nick (or is it the other way around???).  Nick belonged to a PI who is currently MIA, and he and Nora have a flair for solving mysteries in common. I actually got the idea from my ex-supervisor at my day job, who told me I should quit writing about vampires and write a book about my cat.  Apparently he was right!

Very interesting. I’m especially fond of cat cozies. Do you have any advice to other authors about writing cozies or writing in general?

Writing requires a great deal of patience and a thick skin. If you can’t take rejection, best to find another profession.  The best way to get published is to keep writing, writing and reading, reading.

I agree completely. What are you currently working on?

The Next Nick and Nora, and the first book in a new series.

After “Claws for Alarm,” when will the 3rd Nick and Nora be released?

Nick and Nora #3 will be out December 2016. Nora gets involved searching for a woman’s missing niece, and is still trying to locate Nick’s former human, missing PI Nick Atkins.

Do you write any other genres than cozies?

Yes – I actually started out writing horror, and had a few novels published by a small press (they are currently out of print, and I have the rights back).  I’ve self published a few paranormal suspense novel that were moderately successful.

Can you tell me how you got started in writing?

I’ve been writing on and off since I was ten years old.

Same here. Many writers begin at an early age, but, of course publishing comes later. What are your hobbies besides writing?

I used to bowl, but back problems sidelined that. I love reading, and I love playing with my three cats.

Seems we have a lot in common, Toni. I love to read and play with my two cats, too. Is there anything else you’d like readers of this blog to know about you and/or your books?

roccoROCCO has a blog,, where we interview authors and have giveaways twice a month at least.  ROCCO also reviews cozies for Night Owl, and I’m the suspense columnist!  We also do fundraising for the charity co-founded by Nathan Fillion of Castle fame, Kids Need to Read, and have a charity auction every summer.

Great info. I will check out the blog. Thank you so much for joining us on Cozy Chat today, and good luck with your Nick and Nora mysteries and other books and series.