Sunday, December 3, 2023

Advent Calendar Day 3

 One of my all-time favorite Christmas albums is Dean Martin's kooky, kitschy Winter Romance. It's not strictly a Christmas album. It's more of a winter-evening-with-cocktails album, which is probably why I love it. It's corny and retro, sure, but, like Dino, it's got something. I particularly like the title track, which is straight 1950s cinema-style romance. 

Grab a drink, sit back and smile nostalgically as you listen. 


And while you're in a nostalgic frame of mind, what do you think your favorite JL character's favorite holiday song is? There just might be a coda in there somewhere...




Saturday, December 2, 2023

Advent Calendar Day 2

 On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

This morning's Advent Calendar offering is a lovely portrait of a pair of turtle doves. πŸ˜‰







Friday, December 1, 2023

Advent Calendar Day 1

 



How is it possible that we've nearly reached the end of 2023?


How is it possible that 2023 was an even weirder year than 2022?

How is it possible--well, you get the drift. ❄️

Snow drift. Coz... Advent Calendar time again.

Oh, I know, you were probably thinking I wasn't going to bother with the AC this year given that I've been largely incommunicado for the past five or so months (but who's counting, right?) YOU WOULD BE WRONG AGAIN. Because I AM going to bother. 

Anyway, I took the break I needed from #amwriting #writinglife and I feel better for it. I've come to some conclusions, made some decisions, repapered most of my kitchen cupboards... 

I'll be back to writing in the New Year, never you fear. 

Meanwhile, CHRISTMAS COMES BUT ONCE A YEAR.

(And, yes, of course you may sub "Christmas" for the winter holiday of your choice, or no holiday at all. You do you. boo.)

If you're new here (HUH?!) the point of this little old Advent Calendar is simply to say THANK YOU to you, my readers. To share a moment or two of holiday cheer with you. To start our days (or end our evenings) with a wee bit of comfy-coziness.

In case I haven't said it enough: Thank you for buying and reading (and re-reading and re-re-reading) my books. Thank you for allowing me to earn my living doing the thing I love best. Thank you to those readers all over the world who consume my stories in languages I can't speak. Thank you to my wonderful patrons whose kindness and generosity help me through those leanish months where life gets in the way of spinning stories.

I appreciate you all very much. Full stop. Writers write for themselves, but we publish for others. I publish for YOU. I want to give you the best books I can because I want you to see the world the way I do: a place where kindness, the willingness to communicate, and the courage to love can change lives. 

I want my books to make you feel the way the holidays (ideally) make us feel. That love will find a way. That there is magic in the every day moments. That you are not alone. That everything is going to be okay. Because everything is going to be okay. πŸ˜‰

So what's ahead this month? As in previous years, I'll probably share a couple of favorite holiday songs or a poem or a some inspirational pics or a vintage cartoon or a cocktail recipe (or three). There will perhaps (I cannot promise) codas from me toward the end of the month. There might be a giveaway or two from my wee little Etsy shop. And I know at least one of our talented and generous friends will contribute some fiction or art. 

In other words, every day will be as much of a surprise to me as to you. But good surprises. The best kind of surprises!   

Happy Holidays, my dear reader-friends. May all your days be merry and bright!


The Advent Calendar is Now Open




Monday, October 9, 2023

Time for an Update



 It probably says everything in that I'm staring blankly at my blog title and literally nothing comes to mind. 


I mean, I can just cut to the chase: I'm not writing much at the moment. I'm not blocked or burnt out or ill or retired. But I'M JUST BUSY doesn't really explain it. 

But, for example, this is my upcoming week.  We currently have no running water--this is heading into week three--due to a burst pipe somewhere in the slab beneath our (probably) kitchen floor. Maybe--hopefully--the new contractors will get permission from our house insurance company to start work this week. Meanwhile, I'm trying to pack for a gig in Ventura this coming weekend--vocal exercises, a rehearsal, laundry--oh, wait, no running water--set lists, etc. I'm also trying to pack for GRL, because when we get back from the gig, I literally have one day to get ready for the flight to Virginia. So I'm packing books, digging out swag--in between emptying out my office and the kitchen cupboards--because when the contractors finally get the go ahead, they'll be rerouting the plumbing through the walls, which means cutting into the walls of a bunch of unrelated rooms. 

Much of yesterday was spent trying to get a COVID booster. Because...long plane flight, conference, and the fact I have low immunity due to working in a bubble, worries me. I didn't react well to Covid. I wasn't one of the lucky people--like the SO--who was down for a two days and then back to normal. I was sick for a month and then suffered all kinds of ridiculous after-effects. IT'S WHAT I DO. Apparently. Anyway,  Kaiser has NO appointments available locally, and even if they did, they don't have the Moderna vax. I'm considering paying the $240. to get the shot out of network, but now my window for recovering from the after-effects (because, yes, of course, I can't even get the damned booster without being laid low) has closed. I did get my flu shot yesterday, though, so yay.

This is a snapshot of how my year--particularly the summer--has gone. It's actually the third time we've been without running water for a prolonged period. It has been a year of sick dogs, sick house, sick parents... 

The sick parents thing. My mother can not remember conversations or events that happened even half an hour earlier.

This all sounds so dark and gloomy, but actually, it has also been a great summer in a lot of ways. I've spent a lot of wonderful, precious time with family and friends--I've reconnected with friends I hadn't spoken to in decades: my best friend when I was five-years-old, my college roommates. I'm working on a huge Storyworth project with/for my dad. I've started an Etsy store (LOL I know). 

And I am writing a bit. On Patreon I'm "rewriting" the Secrets and Scrabble series from Jack's POV. Which is to say, I'm doing codas from Jack's POV covering all the encounters between Jack and Ellery in the books. Despite what that might sound like, it's actually a useful creative exercise because it's refreshing my memory of the series and the characters before I attempt to finish Corpse at Captain's Seat. 

I can't make any guarantees, but I would like to be able to finish that eighth book before the end of the year. It's a challenge because not long after I get back from GRL, my dear chum (I love that word) is coming for a week-ish and then we'll be into the holidays and then more holidays and birthdays and then it all starts again. 

Which is why when I try to think of what to say in an update, I'm not sure where to begin. 

Well, I could talk about translations--so many translations this year, which has been fantastic and a large part of what's kept us afloat financially--but, despite the strong start in the spring, the latter part of the year has not seen any fresh fiction from me. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to finally having a stretch of time to simply write. In theory that time begins when I get home from GRL. In practice? 

Time will tell.





Friday, September 8, 2023

If a Tree Falls on the Internet No One Can Hear You Scream

 


I was watching The Magnificent Ambersons the other afternoon, which, if you're not familiar with the film, is an American masterpiece (despite the best efforts of RKO to shape it into something more palatable to a wartime audience) based on the classic novel by Booth Tarkington about the inevitable deterioration/destruction of a wealthy turn-of-the-century (last century) dynasty. It's a film about the engines of social change. In this case, literally an engine: the horseless carriage.

In the course of the film, inventor and automobile manufacturer Eugene Morgan is taken to task by the spoiled and shiftless son of aristocratic Isobel Amberson, the woman Eugene has loved all his life. The young man recognizes correctly that the automobile is going to change life as they all know it. Naturally, being rich and privileged and insulated from reality, the young man likes life just as it is. 

Anyway, everyone is shocked by young George's outburst, except Eugene who responds in a reasoned, even sympathetic manner. 

I'm not sure George is wrong about automobiles. With all their speed forward, they may be a step backward in civilization. It may be that they won't add to the beauty of the world or the life of men's souls. I'm not sure. But automobiles have come. And almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring. They're going to alter war and they're going to alter peace. And I think men's minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles. And it may be that George is right. It may be that in ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in men by that time, I shouldn't be able to defend the gasoline engine but would have to agree with George: that automobiles had no business to be invented.

As I was listening to this speech, it occurred to me that you could easily substitute "AI" for "automobile," and Eugene would still be right. 

AI is here to stay and life for all of us is going to change forever. Has already begun to change. Businesses are proudly touting their AI whatever in TV ads. In practical application as it relates to corporations, all these AI upgrades simply mean it's going to be harder than ever to get through to a real human being when you've got a problem. God help you if you've got to call AT&T. Granted, that's been true for the last ten years.

Someone was telling me what a terrible time the screenwriters chose to go on strike, but I think SAG-AFTRA showed foresight. Hell yes, in a capitalistic society the natural progression is to replace human labor with machines whenever possible! That is good business. That is how capitalism works. This is a fight that was absolutely going to happen. Better to attack from a position of strength than when you're already on the ropes, in my opinion. 

That said, I am not by any stretch of the imagination anti-AI. I adore AI as a creative tool. AI is going to bring incredible gains to medicine, science, communication, agriculture... you name it. Yes, even the arts. It is fantastic.

And terrifying.

It has the potential to wipe us us off the gameboard. 

For sure it is going to mean the loss of jobs. Absolutely. It is going to create other jobs. Absolutely. That is how all great advances in technology work. AI is another Industrial Revolution. It is the automobile. It is the computer. It is all that and more. It is the Atomic Age x 10.

And we are only on the cusp of what is to come.

There is no turning back. The very most we can hope for--must fight for--is the reasoned and ethical use and implementation of AI. But even that will be very hard to do in a country that has granted personhood to corporations. I mean, can you really imagine successfully arguing that a corporation should be limited in how profitable it can be by insisting it continue to employ a human workforce versus AI? In front of this Supreme Court? That has never been a winnable argument in this country. It is the antithesis of capitalism. 

But that is the actual fight ahead of us. Yet all I see are people bitching that someone used a Midjourney image in their cover art. Or utlized ChatGPT for research. Sure. That's the big threat. And regulations on business stifle innovation and economic growth. 

Talk about missing the forest for the trees.



Friday, June 2, 2023

New Release PUZZLE FOR TWO

 


Happy Friday! 

I'm currently in that state of doing all the things in all the places all at once. Which means I've started a zillion projects and finished one. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜„πŸ˜΅

That one is PUZZLE FOR TWO, originally written for Patreon.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? YOU ASK. 

Two can play at this game.

(No, that's part of the blurb. But yes, two can play at that--this--game. Except you're reading the blurb right now.)

 Fledging PI Zachariah Davies’s wealthy and eccentric client, toymaker Alton Beacher, wants to hire an investigator who can pose as his boyfriend while figuring out who is behind the recent attempts on his life. And Zach, struggling to save the business his father built, is just desperate enough to set aside his misgivings and take the job.

 But it doesn’t take long to realize all is not as it seems—and given that it all seems pretty weird, that’s saying something. The only person Zach can turn to for help is equally struggling, equally desperate, but a whole lot more experienced rival PI Flint Carey.

 Former Marine Flint has been waiting for Zach to throw in the towel and sell whatever’s left of the Davies Detective Agency to him. But when the inexperienced accountant-turned-shamus turns to him for help, Flint finds himself unwilling—or maybe unable—to say no.

 

HOWZ ABOUT AN EXCEPT?

(That's rhetorical, but I can hear what you're thinking and yes, there will be audio--James Woodrich has signed on to bring Zach and Flint to life--and yes, there will be print, in our normal laggardly fashion.)


Maybe Flint had read the same How to Succeed in Business articles as Zach because it turned out he had but one available time slot in his busy, busy day, and that was four minutes after Brooke phoned. Whether this was gamesmanship or he really did have more clients than Zach and Brooke calculated, he arrived in their lobby, damp and slightly disheveled, wearing blue jeans and a gray hoodie. He smelled of rain and mouthwash, and did not appear to have shaved for the last three days. He was also slightly out of breath from his jog across the parking lot, dodging numerous cars driven by maniacs desperately seeking spaces closer to the shops.

Even so, even damp, disheveled, and disapproving, there was something about Flint. Something that made it hard to dismiss him however much Zach tried. Flint had presence; a raw, vaguely disturbing virility that seemed to charge the air around him.

“Hi, Flint!” Brooke greeted him brightly as he dripped on their welcome mat. She liked Flint.

“Hey, kiddo.” Flint pushed back his soaked hood. His sun-streaked brown hair was a mass of wet ringlets, giving him a slightly crazed look. “Zachariah.”

It took Zach a moment to process that look of hungry anticipation on Flint’s lean face.

Hell.

As Flint’s bright hazel gaze held his own, Zach realized Flint was thinking he’d changed his mind about selling the agency. There was no reason to feel guilty about that misunderstanding, but somehow, he did.

“Did you want to step into my office?” he asked.

Flint shrugged. “Sure.”

“Would you like a coffee, Flint?” Brooke piped up.

“No thanks.”

Zach stepped into his office, closing the door behind Flint.

“I think there might be a slight misunderstanding,” Zach began.

He was interrupted by Mr. Bigglesworth, who—never a fan of anyone or anything that might steal Zach’s attention—made a big production of leaping from the chair in front of the desk across the room and onto the narrow bookshelf, where he proceeded, secret-agent style, to blend into the tidy row of houseplants. His giant sea-glass gaze peered through the foliage.

Flint looked taken aback. “What the hell was that?”


“That’s my cat.”

“That’s not a cat.”

“He certainly is.”

“Nope.”

“Yep. In fact, he’s purebred.”

That? Purebred? No way.”

“He has the papers to prove it.”

Flint snorted. “Then he forged them.”

Against his will, Zach laughed.

This seemed to encourage Flint, who said, “Admit it. You found him going through garbage cans in a back alley, and he sold you some sob story about a pair of bulldogs mugging him for his fur coat.”

Who knew Flint had a sense of humor? Zach said gravely, “He’s not a client. He’s an associate.”

“Of course he is.” Flint sighed and dropped into the chair vacated by Mr. Bigglesworth. “Okay. What’s the big misunderstanding? Or should I guess?”

“Sorry, but this isn’t about selling the business.” Zach squeezed in behind the desk and sat down. “It’s about hiring you.”

Flint’s obvious disappointment gave way to surprise. His brows shot up. “Hiring me? For what?”

“For surveillance work. The Beacher case is…well, to do it properly, we need more manpower.”

Flint’s smile was sardonic. His large hands fastened on the arms of the chair, and he started to rise. “Sorry. I’ve got my own caseload.”

Zach blurted, “I’ll pay you two hundred dollars an hour—and it’s not that many hours.”

Flint lowered himself to the chair again. He eyed Zach skeptically. “Go on.”

“You already know it’s a complicated situation.”

“Are you asking me or telling me?”

Flint had the kind of face that was really hard to read. Maybe behind that cool, glinting gaze beat a sympathetic heart, but Zach wouldn’t bet on it. Then again, he hadn’t realized Flint had a goofy sense of humor either. So maybe a more accurate reading of Flint’s emotional temperature was his smile: that faint, ever-present crease in his cheek, like Flint was secretly laughing at everyone and everything. What had Alton called it? Sarcastic. For sure, it wasn’t an all’s-right-with-the-world smile.

“Well, what did Al—Beacher tell you?” Zach asked.

Flint stared at him for a long moment, then gave a little shake of his head, like I give up. “I don’t like domestic cases. I make it a rule not to get in between spouses. Also, Alton Beacher’s reputation precedes him. So he didn’t get a chance to tell me much of anything.”

“What’s his reputation?”

“Are you telling me you took on a messy divorce case without knowing anything about your principals?”

“I’m not being paid to investigate my client. Sometimes people in terrible marriages need help, too.”

Flint considered that, grimaced. “Okay. Fair enough. Your client has a reputation for involving others in sticky situations.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“It means you’re out of your league, junior.”

Zach said shortly, “Do you mind? I’m thirty. I’ve been earning my living since I was twenty-three.” He bit his lip, considered. “Alton’s been receiving death threats. He thinks his wife is behind them, but of course he’s not sure, which is why he hired me.”

“I’m sure it’s not the only reason he hired you.” Flint’s tone was dry. Meeting Zach’s gaze, he added, “Like I said, his reputation precedes him.”

What exactly did that mean? Zach didn’t know Flint well enough to judge whether Flint’s opinion of messy divorces and sticky situations was to be taken seriously. Frankly, Flint was already displaying an unexpected streak of, well, squeamishness Zach wouldn’t have expected.

At least, he thought it was squeamishness. They were both so busy fencing, it was difficult to know if they were even talking about the same thing.

“Okay, well, I can’t discuss the details unless you’re willing to sign an NDA as an independent contractor for Davies Detective Agency.”

Flint’s eyes narrowed, but he seemed to be looking inward rather than at Zach. He said finally, “Two hundred bucks an hour?”

“Yes.”

“What’s the gig?”

“I’m supposed to have dinner with Alton tonight. I feel like I need another pair of eyes on the scene just in case, well, something happens.”

Flint said nothing. Rain ticked against the windows.

As the silence stretched between them, Zach realized something. He’d been thinking he was just being extra conscientious in making sure he could provide the level of service Alton had paid for and rightfully expected. But as he waited for Flint to come to a decision, he recognized he was genuinely uneasy, and that at least some of that unease was for himself.

He could probably count on one hand the things he knew about Flint: that he was an ex-Marine, that he was thirty-five, unmarried and had no children, that he was firearms certified, that he had started his PI business five years earlier (which, ironically, meant he’d been Zach’s age), and that he was a fan of OG Magnum PI.


Not a whole hell of a lot. And yet, somehow, Zach knew that if he did really end up in a jam, Flint would be the guy he could trust to have his back.

The guy in question drew in a long, weary breath. “I’ve got to be honest. I’m already stretched too thin. I spent the weekend on stakeout. I can’t—”

Zach said quickly, “Two, maybe three hours. No more. I wouldn’t ask, Flint, but there’s something weird going on with this case. I can’t put my finger on it, but I can feel it in my gut. Something’s wrong...”

Zach trailed off. He knew exactly what Flint was thinking. How is this my problem?

Fair enough. Flint and Pop had been friendly, but they hadn’t been friends. Zach and Flint barely qualified as friendly. There was always some awkwardness, some odd tension underlying their exchanges. Yet here he was asking Flint for a favor. A well-paid favor, yes, but still a favor.

Flint opened his mouth, and Zach gulped, “Sorry. You’re right. Not your problem. I’ll figure something out.”

Flint directed a look of exasperation at Zach. He said tersely, “When and where?”

 


Friday, May 26, 2023

New in AUDIO! LAMENT AT LOON LANDING

 Good morning! 

What a crazy month. Very creative. Very productive. I'm way behind on updates. Way behind on any social interaction at all, I know. There are simply not enough hours in the day. Or enough days!

Anyway, LAMENT AT LOON LANDING is now available on Audible (and soon to be on iTunes and Amazon). Matt Haynes returns to give us another brilliant and quirky reading of Ellery Page's sixth adventure. 

Oh, and good news for my Dutch readers: UITGEVERIJ DE FONTEIN, a division of VBK Media, has just contracted books 6 and 7 in the series (which means audio there as well).




Fakes, folk music, and ghost fires

 

When legendary folk singer Lara Fairplay agrees to make her comeback debut at Pirate’s Cove’s annual maritime music festival, everyone in the quaint seaside village is delighted—including mystery bookstore owner and sometimes amateur sleuth, Ellery Page.

Better yet, Lara is scheduled to perform a recently discovered piece of music attributed to “The Father of American Music,” Stephen Foster, which will hopefully bring large crowds and a lot of business.

Several mysterious accidents later, Ellery is less delighted as his suspicion grows that someone plans to silence the celebrity songbird forever.


NOW ON AUDIBLE


Sunday, April 30, 2023

Do Not Pass Go and Do Not Collect $200

 


You know you're going through something when you wake up in the morning worrying about whether the pine tree outside your window has too many pine cones on it.

So April was one of those months not particularly conducive to writing. Easter, graduation party, birthday party, allergies, TAXES (UGH), sick doggie, on and on and on with the interruptions and distractions. All of them inevitable and normal and reasonable. Well, maybe not the sick doggie. That's been a saga and poor Mr. Marlowe is at the emergency room right now because I had a panic attack last night listening to him struggle to breathe. Nobody seems to think this is an emergency except me. 

NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE PROPERLY IS AN EMERGENCY.

IMHO.

Anyway. Hopefully, I'm overreacting and he would have been fine going another FIVE FLIPPING DAYS without seeing a vet (which is the soonest we could have got him in if we hadn't gone the emergency route). But that would have been a total of TWENTY FREAKING DAYS OF HIS BEING SICK AND NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE NORMALLY. There is literally ONE animal emergency center out here. ONE. 

There's a serious shortage of vets. It's so worrying. I never ran into this until these last few years, and it's hard to get used to. Some things you can do yourself. But when it comes to trying to diagnose my dog while he's having what looks like an asthma attack... Not so much.

(The SO just texted me that there is one vet and three dogs with rattlesnake bites!!)

However, sharing my freakout over my poor little dog and our local vet shortage wasn't my intention for this post. Basically, I wanted to give an official update. Not that it will stop all the emails, but maybe it will forestall a few. 

I can't honestly say that this year isn't what I expected, because I've learned that now days none of the years are what I expect. The good news is I've stopped being optimistic about what I can accomplish in any given amount of time. This year I've got to juggle gigs and guests and conferences and books. 

Which I feel calm about until I see my preorders listed on Amazon.

Which is why YOU only see one preorder for me listed on Amazon.

That's correct. I've canceled everything except Corpse at Captain's Seat, which I'm planning to have out at the end of this month (May).

That said, although the preorders are gone, I'm still planning on doing The 12.2 Per-Cent Solution in
August and Hex in the City in December. And I'll be finishing up Puzzle for Two for Patreon probably in June.  

Preorders are great. They give me a big chunk of change all at once and they allow me to offer you discounted preorder prices, but they've become incredibly stressful and I'm just not going to do them anymore--well, unless the book is basically finished. I think that makes life easier for everyone. 

It's not just that I'm more creative when I'm not stressed. I'm also happier. And healthier. 

That will also allow me to focus on more audio projects and more translation projects. And think about what I want to be when I grow up. Ha. But seriously, think about what I want these next five years to look like as far as writing and publishing. 


With Corpse at Captain's Seat, we'll be at number 8 in the Secrets and Scrabble series. I'm not ending the series, but I'm probably going to take a bit of a break from it and do a couple of standalone projects. I do love standalones. Next year will likely be the final Art of Murder book: The Medicine Man Murders. That's going to be a big, complicated book, so I need to give myself plenty of breathing room. And I'll likely try to get in the fifth Bedknobs and Broomsticks installment Impractical Magic.  

And that's it. I have nothing else planned. Well, no other projects planned. I want to give myself creative space. Every year for the past decade has had a built-in schedule of projects, which is not a bad thing, but I'm longing for blank canvas. Metaphorically speaking. And so I'm giving myself the gift of an empty publishing calendar. 

Obviously, books will be written--that's how I pay for $600. (and counting, gulp!!) vet bills--but I'm not sure of all the whats and I'm definitely not sure of the whens. Just that books will happen. Writing will happen. Creativity will happen. And hopefully a lot of other cool stuff will happen!

All good things. That's the plan. ;-)

Friday, March 31, 2023

New Release: LAMENT AT LOON LANDING

 


I can't even tell you the week I've had. From personal to professional to physical every flipping thing has gone off the rails. 

But I did it. I SURVIVED. 

And the now LEGENDARY book is done. I haven't even had time to make teasers or--heck, I haven't had time to brush my hair. The little finger of my left hand hurts like a ((**^^%$##@! and the book may or may not be any good. I can't tell anymore. I don't even care anymore.

(Okay, yes, I do. I hope you enjoy it AND can now read DEATH AT THE DEEP DIVE.)

BLURB:

Fakes, folk music, and ghost fires

 When legendary folk singer Lara Fairplay agrees to make her comeback debut at Pirate’s Cove’s annual maritime music festival, everyone in the quaint seaside village is delighted—including mystery bookstore owner and sometimes amateur sleuth, Ellery Page.

Better yet, Lara is scheduled to perform a recently discovered piece of music attributed to “The Father of American Music,” Stephen Foster, which will hopefully bring large crowds and a lot of business.

Several mysterious accidents later, Ellery is less delighted as his suspicion grows that someone plans to silence the celebrity songbird forever.


SNIPPET

Watson, apparently under the impression the drawbridge closed at midnight, came racing through the open door behind Ellery, and skidded across the polished wood floor.

Despite his weariness and mounting depression, Ellery chuckled. “Did you almost miss your bus?”

Watson, looking a little sheepish, picked himself up, and wagged his tail.

“I think we could both use a midnight snack.”

Unlike Ellery, Watson had had all his meals that day, but he still thought that was a terrific idea. He trotted into the kitchen after Ellery.

Ellery fixed Watson a small portion of his food and then opened a can of soup for himself.

Campbell’s clam chowder was probably enough to get him drummed off the island in disgrace, but he was too tired to bother fixing himself anything more substantial.

He carried his bowl of chowder into the dining room, listened to the wind picking up, the scratch of branches against the windows. Forlorn sounds.

The knot in his stomach felt the size of Buck Island.

He could not seem to think past…

Well, he could not seem to think.

His brain felt cluttered with all the bits and pieces of information he had collected over the past twenty-four hours, but the puzzle was not taking shape. He was exhausted. That was a lot of it. He’d had one hell of a day.

And, of course, he was distracted, worried about the situation with Jack. Twice he picked up his cell to phone. Twice he laid his phone down. Disturbing Jack at work in order to discuss problems in their relationship was not going to win points.

Tired as he was, Ellery knew if he tried to go to bed, he’d spend the next few hours tossing and turning. Instead, he turned to his tried-and-true method of calming his nerves and focusing his thoughts: Solitaire Scrabble.

There was something soothing, centering, about playing against himself. 

It wasn’t just about relaxation though. Solitaire Scrabble was a way to analyze and work through his problems without consciously trying to do that very thing. Time and time again, the words that popped up during this mental exercise were illuminating, enlightening.

It had been weeks since he’d resorted to Scrabble. Unlike those first months after he’d moved to the island, Ellery no longer had endless time on his own. But as he set up the board and tiles on the dining table, he found comfort in the familiar ritual.

He picked seven random tiles from the soft green bag and placed the first tile in the middle square on the center of the board.

He got THEN (seven points) but THEN, to his bewilderment, was stuck. And remained stuck. He struggled for time, certain that he was after AUTHENTIC, and eventually realized he was so out of practice—or perhaps so distracted—that he was looking at the board the wrong way. In fact, he had the letters for AUTHORITY (15).

It was still a miserable showing and the board was a mess of half-hearted attempts.

What the heck?

Something about that stern vertical line of tiles struck home. He recalled Nora’s and Kingston’s efforts to get him to see the situation at Dylan’s from Jack’s point of view. What they had not said, what only occurred to Ellery now, was that he had directly, if inadvertently, challenged Jack’s authority that morning. Not Jack’s authority as Ellery’s boyfriend. Jack’s authority as the Chief of Police.

Ellery’s stomach did an unhappy flop.

Just as he had been hurt and offended that Jack would pull rank on him, Jack had no doubt been equally offended that Ellery would, well, take liberties. Ellery too had pulled a kind of rank by expecting Jack to do his job the way his boyfriend wanted, rather than the way he thought best.

Ellery could not seem to tear his stricken gaze from that single forbidding strip of letters.

Oh hey. And right next to it was IDIOT (six points).

You got this, genius!

Into these cheerless thoughts came the solemn chime of the doorbell.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------


hahahahahahahaha

I forgot to put buy links!!! 




Friday, March 17, 2023

Meet Me in... MUNICH?!

 Happy St. Paddy's!!! 

I'm just about to make myself an Irish Coffee (DON'T SAY IT, STEVE LEONARD!) and settle down to finish Chapter 18 of Puzzle for Two and THEN dive back into Lament for Loon Landing (which, I'm TRYING, PEOPLE to have complete by the end of the month) and THEN THEN THEN I'm popping in to Rainbow Gold Reviews 9th Anniversary Chat to help celebrate their NINTH ANNIVERSARY.

NINE YEARS! 

That's...more than eight and less than ten. That's a lot on the internet these days! 

So it's a non-chat video (I didn't even know those were possible now!) which means you can join in your jammies. We can drink Irish coffee and disrupt the meeting without even having to brush our hair! 

KIDDING. Don't disrupt the meeting. 

Anyway, I'm totally unprepared because of the eternal rushing to deadline thing, and I don't have any links or anything to share on the chat, but NO WAIT. I'm going to figure this out. I'm going to give something away. I'll probably end up posting the links here in my blog somewhere later this afternoon because... WE HAZ UNPREPARED.

But you know how it is. You come back from vacation and you've got 300 emails. Some of which you actually have to respond to. 

So anyway, I'm sharing the 3:00 (PCT) pm slot with such a great group! We've got Kade Boehme, LA Witt, and TA Moore

But author chats are going on all day long, so you can slip in at any time.




GIVEAWAY (Better late than never!) This is first come, first serve. The first ten people to click the link will receive the brand new Male/Male Mystery & Suspense Box Set 2 

Friday, March 10, 2023

What I Did on My Winter Vacation

 I'm not great at balancing work and play. It had been eighteen months since my last vacation (meaning actually walking away from my house and all the chores and projects and work stuff that inevitably happens if you stay on the premises instead of fleeing into the night). The truth is, being a control freak, I find it difficult to let go enough to take a real vacation. 

BUT I DID IT. AND LET ME TELL YOU, THIS VACATION THING COULD REALLY CATCH ON.

Anyway, my sisters and I went to Catalina Island (right off the coast of Los Angeles) for seven nights and six GLORIOUS days of sunshine--well, no, it rained A LOT (which we love even more than sunshine) and talking and walking and drinking and eating and streaming every documentary, every everything we could find on the Murdaugh trial. We laughed, we cried, we sang to the ocean waves (but really, we did). We watched seals and tried to find pelicans. We had wine and cheese on our balcony overlooking the beach. We had many, many Blue Hawaiis (which is my new cocktail to master).

Anyway, it was genuinely restful and rejuvenating. I can't tell you how much better I feel. Calmer, happier, and inspired.

So I thought I'd share view vacation pics. 








Friday, February 24, 2023

You Are HERE

 


Just a quick update!

I'm currently back to working on Lament at Loon Landing. I'm not exactly sure what the hold-up has been, because as I'm working on it, it's pretty much like every other book in the series: cute, charming, fun. Your basic cozy mystery. I guess part of the problem is with all the delays (and all the bitching about the delays) it has turned the book into A Thing in my mind, which inevitably slows everything down even further. Coz that's how that works.

But we're closing in on finishing up. I'm not going to guestimate the actual release because the book is clearly cursed and if I dare to name the release date, doom and disaster will follow. So we'll leave it at that. It's coming. 

As soon as Lament at Loon Landing is safely launched, I'll fully dive into Corpse at Captain's Seat, which I anticipate going as quickly as Death at the Deep Dive did. I love, love, love country house murder mysteries and that's kind of what we have going on with that one: snow, secret passages, sinister strangers. The usual stuff that happens while staying with friends.

THEN I'll start work on the final Holmes & Moriarity. 

And THEN I'm taking a break from writing. Maybe for just a month. Maybe two. Maybe I'll see you when I see you. But I need a chunk of time to focus on some translation stuff, some audio projects, some other things I'm toying with, as well as long term strategizing. Basically, the business side of things. Which inevitably get shoved to the back of the line, even though it's kind of crucial to know where the ship is ultimately headed. 

In the meantime, on Monday I'm headed off on vacation with my sisters for the first time in three years. Yikes! THREE YEARS. In fact, it's been a year and a half since I went away on vacay with anyone at all. 

I. CAN'T. WAIT. 


I'll try to post photos, but I'm guessing they won't actually appear until after I return on the 7th. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week. We're supposed to have major winter storms this weekend, but they keep being pushed back a day, which hopefully doesn't mean I end up stranded in a ferry terminal for my vacation. ;-D