Thursday, July 21, 2016

Have you ever wondered what your favorite authors are doing when they aren't writing those wonderful cozy mysteries that we love so much?

Do they have other jobs, hobbies, hidden talents?

Now you can find out!

Stop by the blog on Thursdays for delightful guest posts from our amazing authors! 

They're going to be sharing all sorts of things that they do when they're not writing.

Today's special guest author is 

T.C. (Toni) LoTempio

Toni writing as T.C. LoTempio is the author of the wonderful Nick and Nora Mysteries. 

So, what does Toni do when she's not writing?

When I’m Not Writing...
T.C. LoTempio

I’ve had a love of mysteries ever since I was ten years old and I read my first mystery:  The Secret in the Old Attic, a Nancy Drew mystery!  That sparked a lifelong hobby of collecting antique children’s series books, which has culminated in the six banker’s bookcases full of series books that I have in my apartment today!

Nancy, of course, was the first one I read, the one (as with so many other writers) that inspired me to write my own mysteries.  I loved all of her books.  The thing that drew me to her in the first place, I’ll admit, were the covers – that skull peeping out at her from the wardrobe in the darkened attic set off many ideas in my ten year old mind!  When I started reading the books, they had come out with what is referred to as “yellow spine”, and for years that was how I thought the books originated.  As I got older, though, and into collecting, I frequented the used book shops that used to be plentiful in NYC (a dying breed now – SO sad!) and soon learned that there were many, many other incarnations of Miss Drew!

For example: The first 34 Nancy Drew books in the original texts published from 1930 to 1956 contain 25 chapters and around 210 to 225 pages eachThe first group were thick books with blue covers and the title in orange lettering.  These books had a frontispiece illustration, and also what was referred to as “Internals”.  Usually three internal drawings scattered throughout the book.  The first editions (or first printings) also had what was referred to as “blank” endpapers, the papers just inside the cover of the book.  Later on I would learn that books like this are considered very rare indeed – a pristine copy of the first volume, THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK, with a dustjacket in excellent condition (no rips or tears) with blank endpapers can sell for thousands (yes, you heard me right – THOUSANDS) OF dollars!

Through the years, Grosset and Dunlap, the original publisher, put Nancy through many incarnations.  The thick blue books got thinner, and the internals were reduced from three and the frontispiece to just the frontispiece; the blue cloth cover was replaced by a blue tweed one; in the late fifties/early sixties the dust jackets were abandoned altoghether in favor of a yellow-spined one piece book.  And still later Nancy evolved into a paperback heroine!  Applewood Books also issued reprints of the first twenty-two original Nancy’s with reproductions of original cover art and internals where applicable, which are also considered collector’s items.

There were other series that also had the dust jackets and internals, which I also collected as my mystery reportiore expanded – The Dana Girls, Hardy Boys, Judy Bolton to name a few.  Later series were developed, with tweed books and dust jackets, focusing on gals with careers that I also found enjoyable:  Vicki Barr, Flight Stewardess and Connie Blair, who worked in advertising.  And who could forget Cherry Ames, Nurse?

This is just a brief listing of all the series books that I have tucked away in those six, five shelf banker’s bookcases.  Mind you, these are the complete series of each one:

Nancy Drew, original hardcover with dustjackets, tweed hardcoverwith dustjackets and yellow spine- also Applewood reprints one through twenty-one.

Judy Bolton, original hardover w/dust jackets and green spine

Vicki Barr, original hardover with dustjackets

Kay Tracey, original hardcover with dustjackets

Connie Blair,orginal hardcover with dustjackets

And others too numerous to mention!

Most of the books are the ones that I bought when I was a child, either at the regular store or the used bookstore; however, a lot ofthem were acquired through Ebay (in the later years).  And my collection isn’t finished by a long shot – I’m always on the lookout for a good, old YA mystery book!!!!!!! Plus, let’s not forget those foreign editions!

For those of you interested in finding out more about these vintage series, here are a few good resources:

Thank you so much, Toni for sharing your collection with us and for all of the great information. 

Nancy Drew started me in the world of reading and will always have a special place in my heart, and on my shelves.

More about Toni

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 lists among her favorite mystery/suspense writers Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson, as well as EJ Copperman, Steve Hockensmith, Victoria Laurie, Ali Brandon, Rita Mae Brown, Miranda James and Sofie Kelly to name only a few! 

Toni is also passionate about her love for animals, as demonstrated with her four cats: Trixie, Princess, Maxx and, of course, ROCCO, who not only provided the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat in the Nick and Nora mystery series, but who also writes his own blog and does charity work for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read!   

Toni’s also devoted to miniseries like The Thorn Birds, Dancing with the Stars, reruns of Murder She Wrote and Castle (of course!). She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – the first volume, MEOW IF ITS MURDER, debuts Dec. 2, 2014. She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.

Be sure to check out the 
Nick and Nora Mysteries 
by T. C. LoTempio!

BOOK ONE                                              BOOK TWO


Nick and Nora aren’t just pussyfooting around this time as they deal with a missing person’s case and murder.While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown. 
As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him...



December 6!

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  1. Great info on the Nancy Drew books. The (cozy) mystery covers still draw me to them, today. More often than not, after reading one, I have to read everything the author has written. I've found many wonderful authors (and books) here on your blog, Lisa. Thanks, Lisa (and Toni).

  2. Thanks, Lisa and Toni, for such a great feature. I really enjoyed reading it and learning more about the book collection.

  3. Can't wait for the next Nick and Nora book to be out. I grew up on not only Nancy Drew but Hardy Boys and Trixi e Beldon and moved into Victoria Holt. Thanks for the good reads

  4. Yes, the covers are so good! We are buying a new house in August and on a shelf there are two old Nancy Drew books. They are leaving most of the furnishings and I said they needed to leave the Nancy Drew books, if not, that was a deal breaker. The owner thought I was kidding. I WAS NOT!!! I can't wait! Oh, and there was a Hardy Boys book that I hope will still be there also.