Friday, February 21, 2020

C'est la Vie!



If you've followed me for any length of time you know I have a complicated relationship with travel.

On the one hand, I love visiting new places, filling my brain with new sights and sounds and smells--having the opportunity to finally meet friends who live in far off places. Travel is one of the best things you can do for your writer self.

On the other hand, I get homesick. I miss my dogs and the SO. My flights are always--okay, frequently--delayed or cancelled, my luggage is inevitably lost, and I am always the person with the screaming child behind them or the sniffly and talkative weirdo beside them.

AND YET I KEEP SIGNING ON FOR TRIPS.

And I have done it again. I've agreed to appear at Salon du Livres this year in Paris.

LB Gregg and I are traveling together this time (so it will be a little better--what I hate most of all is traveling ALONE) and we are going to stay in the hotel I used for I Buried a Witch (I won't give the name, you'll have to guess which hotel I was talking about) so I'm really, really looking forward to all of that. I'll be hooking up with some of my Goodreads gang! That's going to be so fun.

And I've never been to France, although I am part French (my peoples are from the Alsace-Lorraine region), so that's exciting.

As you can see, I'm thrilled--and terrified.

Also I'm really worried about our newest little family member Spenser, because the SO is, well, he's not the mothering type. Let's put it that way. My littlest baby could be floating in the pool and the SO probably wouldn't notice for a day or two. :-(

Anyway.

(Dark thoughts for a bright and sunny morning.)

I am going to Paris and that is exciting. CAN U SEE MY EXCITEMENT??? In the meantime I have a book to finish, a book to start, and a nervous breakdown to schedule in between. ;-)

If by some rare chance you will ALSO be in Paris the week of Salon du Livres, my signing schedule is as follows...

Friday March 20 : 3h30-4h25pm

Saturday March 21 : 1h30-2h25pm

Sunday March 22 : 10h30-11h25 am


Stop by and say bonjour!



SNEAK PEEK: MURDER AT PIRATE'S COVE

It's been awhile since I did straight up cozy mystery. So this is quite an interesting creative experiment.

The thing about cozies...it's not just the no onscreen violence and sex. It's the whole tone. The whole attitude. The point of cozies is...COZINESS.

The rule about NEVER KILL A CAT? That came from the world of cozy mystery.  And the sacrosanctness of kitty-cat life--it's not just symbolic. It's fundamental. There is a reason there is no cursing in the world of cozy mystery. WHAT IS THERE TO CURSE ABOUT (unless you're a villain) WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR CAT (AND DOG--AND THEREFORE, NATURALLY, YOUR CHILD AND MOTHER AND BOYFRIEND) IS SAFE.

The point of the cozy mystery is a story where even murder can fray, but not really tear the fabric of society. Which is certainly a comforting thought. And sometimes you need those comforting thoughts.

Anyway, a sneak peek at MURDER AT PIRATE'S COVE, first book in the Secrets and Scrabble series.

BLURB:

First in an adorable new series!

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he's inherited both a failing bookshop and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate's Cove in Rhode Island, it's full steam ahead!

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though possibly as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there's that little drawback of finding rival bookseller—and head of the unwelcoming-committee—Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.




EXCERPT:

Ellery was quickly getting over his slight and very brief interest in Chief Carson. Chief Carson had turned out to be an insensitive, unimaginative jerk.

Anyway. It had been several hours since Ellery had first crept into The Crow’s Nest store and found Trevor Maples clad in pirate’s costume dead on his floor. Chief Carson had been first on the scene, but to Ellery’s relief, the chief was not the only law enforcement officer in Pirate’s Cove. He actually had a couple of officers in his teeny tiny police department—and the full resources of the Rhode Island State Police. In fact, Ellery had sort of assumed the State Police would take over the investigation, but no. It seemed that at least for now, Chief Carson was still in charge.

And covering the same ground over and over. For example, this was the second time they’d been over the subject of how and why Trevor had decided to turn up dead in Ellery’s bookshop. What else was there to say beyond I. Don’t. Know?

Of course, murder had to be a new experience for the chief too. The nearest thing to crime Pirate’s Cove experienced was a bit of drunk and disorderly on the weekends. Maybe Carson was also feeling defensive. Maybe he was worried the State Police were going to take away his first and only murder case.

“When was the last time you spoke to Maples?” Carson asked. This too was not a new question. Did he think if he changed his wording, he might get a different answer?

“I told you,” Ellery replied. “This afternoon. He offered to buy The Crow’s Nest again. He told me I could name my price—within reason.”

Were Carson’s eyes more green than blue? It was hard to tell. The only thing for sure was they were as bright and hard as sea glass. “And what was your price?”

“I told him I didn’t want to sell.”

The dark and forbidding line of Carson’s brows rose skeptically. “And did he buy that?”

Ellery was momentarily confused. “Did he—?”

Carson said with a trace of impatience, “Did he accept your refusal?”

“Oh. No. I don’t know. I think he thought I was still negotiating for a better price.”

“Were you?”

“No.”

No?” Carson didn’t bother trying to hide his disbelief.

Ellery shook his head. “I like it here. I told him that. I wouldn’t be going to all this trouble of renovating the shop if my plan was just to sell.”

Carson looked taken aback. Or at least as taken aback as someone like he could look. “You’re planning to stay in Pirate’s Cove?”

“Well, yes. That was the idea. That was my great-aunt’s idea.”

Brow furrowed, Carson jotted down a couple of notes in a small black book. He had long fingers. His hands were tanned and strong but the nails were neatly trimmed and filed. Not exactly conclusive proof, but…  The scratching of his pencil was the only sound filling the void of silence stretching between them.

Ellery watched uneasily. His mind was racing. Carson couldn’t think he’d done it. Could he?  That was preposterous. And yet, there was something going on here, something in Carson’s attitude that made Ellery nervous. What was it that Carson knew and Ellery didn’t?

“How’s the shop doing?” Carson asked, without looking up from his notes.

Ellery shrugged.

Carson raised his head. “Could you be more specific?”

“From what everyone tells me, this is the slow season.”

Carson’s mouth curved without humor. “But you’re turning a profit?”

“No.”

“You’re breaking even?”

Ellery grimaced. “No.”

“You’re losing money.” It was not a question.

Why was Carson hammering away on this point? Ellery said cautiously, “The renovations cost money, but that’s to be expected.”

Carson pushed back in his chair, said almost conversationally, “I remember your aunt. She was quite a character. And not one to beat about the bush. According to her, The Crow’s Nest had been running in the red for some time. The last time I spoke to her, she was weighing whether to sell up or close the doors for good.”

Ellery’s sinking confidence sprang another leek.

“Was she going to sell to Trevor Maples?”

“You tell me.”

Ellery stared into Chief Carson’s eyes. He could see Carson wanted to get his reaction, so okay. His reaction was confusion and guilt. If Aunt Eudora really had agreed to sell to Trevor, Trevor’s persistence made more sense.

“All I know is my great-aunt left the bookstore and her house to me, and I’m doing my best to turn things around. The business is doing as expected for this time of year. If there was an agreement with Trevor, I’m unaware of it. And Mr. Landry, Aunt Eudora’s lawyer, was unaware of it.”

Chief Carson nodded, made another note. “How would you describe your relationship with Mr. Maples?”

Trevor had been telling the truth the whole time. No wonder he had been so impatient and exasperated with Ellery’s decision to stay in Pirate’s Cove. Especially when it was probably obvious that Ellery had no more chance of making The Crow’s Nest a success than Aunt Eudora had. 

“Mr. Page?” Chief Carson’s voice broke through Ellery’s reverie. He stared at the chief. Carson was tall and lean. He had an athletic build, but he didn’t tower, he wasn’t physically imposing. So why did it feel like he was taking up all the space in the small office?

“What?”

 “Tell me about your relationship with Mr. Maples.”

“There was no relationship. He wanted to buy the bookstore. I didn’t want to sell. He wasn’t used to being told no.” Ellery shrugged.

“It’s fair to say the relationship was contentious?”

“I don’t know that it’s fair to say that. It’s not like we exchanged words.” Actually, yes, today’s encounter probably qualified as exchanging words. Both he and Trevor had been testy, and toward the end, Trevor had bordered on threatening. Ellery revised, “It’s not like we came to blows.”

“How many times would you say you and Maples argued?”

Meeting Carson’s cool and steady gaze, Ellery felt the hair on his scalp prickle with unease. “I’m not sure where you’re going with this, Chief, but you saw me in the Salty Dog this evening. I have an alibi. You can confirm my alibi. Right?”

“I saw you in the Salty Dog around eight o’clock this evening. You were there for about forty-five minutes,” Carson agreed. “The ME’s preliminary examination puts Maples’ time of death between five and seven p.m. So as alibis go…”

Ellery could think of nothing to say. Should he keep quiet? Should he keep trying to explain? What was the real-life protocol? He had nothing to hide, and yet it was increasingly clear that Carson believed he was somehow involved.






Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am an inveterate reader of women's magazines--I make no apologies for that--and I notice that there are many many articles now days about how Valentine's Day has become some dreadful thing that leaves people wounded and wanting.

I think some of these wounds are self-inflicted, but okay. Back when I was single and emotionally restless, Valentine's Day was generally stressful. There were years I received gifts from multiple romantic interests (none of whom I actually loved) and there were years I felt invisible and uncherished by everyone but my family and dog (the funny thing is those years were not as stressful as the others!).

Before I met the SO I went through a period where I basically swept all emotional entanglements from my life and took a break from romance. I did a huge amount of writing during that period--in fact, a lot of the stories I started back then ended up being books I later sold (including the first two Adrien English novels, The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks, and I Spy Something Bloody). Anyway, that was one of the happiest Valentine's Day of my entire existence. I didn't care that there were no lavish bouquets arriving for me at work for everyone to see. I didn't care that I wasn't going to get dressed up and go to an expensive restaurant. I rented (yes, physically walked into a video rental store--we did not have streaming in days of yore) a couple of classic film noir films I had been wanting to see, made a super nice meal for myself (it was the first time I ever cooked a lobster tail), bought a nice bottle of wine and had a quiet, relaxing and very satisfying evening on my own. I believe I may have ended the night with a third glass of wine and a bubble bath.

A couple of years later I met the SO and that was that. GOODBYE SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH. Kidding of course. But I kind of think that there was a connection between not actively wanting anyone in my life and finding the person I was going to spend a huge chunk of that same life with.

So if I was going to give advice to someone secretly fretting about the state of their Valentine's Day, it would simply be to say that there's a difference between being alone and being lonely, but if you are lonely, it's still better to be lonely on your own than lonely with the wrong person. There's nothing lonelier than that.

ALSO, love will slow you down. Not that I regret love--there's much to be said for loving and being loved--but you can get a lot more writing done when you're single. ;-)



Friday, February 7, 2020

THE DANGEROUS GROUND SERIES playlist

The thing about playlists is I usually devise a playlist based on what I think I know about the story I'm going to write. But that story inevitably changes through the very writing of it--that's the creative process--and when I get to the final stage of editing a book, sometimes the playlist begins to feel like...WHAAAAA?!

So there's often a final, revised playlist. But in this case, as I look over the entire series, these are the songs that have always felt like Will and Taylor to me. I mean, even to the point that if I hear them somewhere, I think about Will and Taylor. :-D That's how real characters become to the author.  I should say some characters--mostly series characters--because there are plenty of books where I wasn't moved to write a playlist or one particular song was all that really resonated.

Anyway, if I look all the previous playlists for the Dangerous Ground series, these are the songs that really stayed with me.

So for your listening enjoyment...

The Quintessential Dangerous Ground Playlist






Friday, January 31, 2020

New Release: BLIND SIDE (Dangerous Ground 6)



cover by Ron Perry
Yes. FINALLY. The last chapter in the Dangerous Ground series is out!

As I posted elsewhere, winding up a series is kind of a mixed bag. In this case, there's a considerable sigh of relief. I DID IT! But it's also bittersweet because I love Will and Taylor and because Dangerous Ground was/is my second oldest series. The first book came out in 2008 through Loose Id. (Remember that one -- I think it was the first time we--YOU--crashed the LI site) :-D

There's also a fair bit of pressure in winding up a series. Especially such an old series where readers have had way too much time to think about the various final scenarios they want. Main plot lines have to be wound up, but yet there has to be a sense that life goes on for these people. You don't want that feeling of fictional characters who end when the final page of a book is turned. Even though, ahem, these are fictional characters who...well, I won't say end, but who are marking time until the next Christmas coda.

**NOTE: If you purchased through Amazon, but haven't authorized your account to automatically update, there's a possibility you don't have the latest updated version. The final version of the novella has an epilogue. So if you don't have an epilogue, you'll want to go into your kindle account and click the update button. 



BLURB:

It’s a good problem to have: more business than they can comfortably handle on their own.
But with resources already overstretched, the last thing former DSS agents and newbie security consultants Will Brandt and Taylor MacAllister need is another client—and the last thing Will needs is for that client to turn out to be an old boyfriend of Taylor’s.

Sure, Will has always known Taylor had a wild past, but he was kind of hoping he’d never have to sit down and have a beer with it. But golden boy Ashe Dekker believes someone is trying to kill him, and Taylor is determined to help, no matter the cost.

It’s a bit of a jolt to have Taylor for once totally disregard his feelings, but Will is equally determined that “the cost” won’t be their relationship—or Taylor’s life.



EXCERPT

They went through the reception area door, crossed the hall, navigating ladders and cans of paint, and stepped into the boudoir-pink room that would ultimately be Will’s office. Their building space had previously belonged to a bridal shop, and the walls were painted in delicate shades of peach and pink. Pastel wallpaper borders featured parasols (why parasols?) and wedding cakes and lovebirds nibbling gold bands. None of which projected the appropriate YOUR SAFETY IS IN OUR HANDS! vibe—or even, in Will’s view, a reassuring preview of marriage.

They were hoping to have the renovations finished before the end of the year, but the holidays turned out to be an unexpectedly busy time for contractors. Most of the work at American Eagle was having to be done after-hours—and at a premium price.

Will closed the door to his office. He kept his voice low. “Okay, listen. Dekker is a friend, and I understand that you want to help him, but this is clearly a case for the sheriffs.”

“Sure,” Taylor replied. “That doesn’t mean we can’t take a look around, ask a few questions.”

Will didn’t trust that reasonable tone. “Yes. If that’s all you’re talking about. Because we’ve got to be realistic. You know as well as I do, we’re not in a position to take on another client.”

Taylor shrugged dismissively. “If you don’t want to take Ashe on as a client, that’s okay with me. I wasn’t planning on billing him. I’ll handle this as a favor. In my spare time.”

This was exactly what Will had feared. Taylor had not only already made his mind up, he was busily working out the details before they could even finish identifying what those details might be.

He tried very hard to keep his exasperation from showing. “What spare time? You don’t have spare time. Neither of us do.”

“What’s your point, Will?” Taylor rested his hand on his canted hip, and studied him with cool, green eyes.

That—in fairness, unconsciously—cocky posture, that skeptical really? stare, were the reason so many people longed to punch Taylor five seconds after meeting him. It wasn’t really who Taylor was. Or rather, yeah, the confidence, the cynicism, were facets of his personality, but not the main facets, and not traits he typically turned on Will.

Obviously, this was a unique case, and Will needed to respect that. Which he was trying to do.
He said, “All I’m saying is, doesn’t it make more sense—isn’t it better for all of us—if we direct Dekker back to the sheriff’s department? And if you don’t feel like that’s enough, we can refer him to another—”

Taylor cut him off. “Uh-uh. We’re not referring him anywhere. Ashe came to me.”

“I know that. That’s why I’m saying—”

“I gave Ashe my word that if he ever needed help, I’d be there. I didn’t say, if you ever need help, I can refer you to someone. I promised I’d be there for him.”

“I get that.” Will did. It would be unreasonable to be irritated with Taylor for making those kinds of promises years before they’d ever met. He wasn’t irritated, and he definitely wasn’t jealous—he didn’t think—but Christ, Taylor could be so bullheaded.

“Do you?” There it was. That hint of cynical smile. “Because that’s not what I’m hearing.”

“What you’re hearing is me trying to work out what’s going to be best for all of us. We’re not bodyguards—”

“We’ve handled plenty of protection details, so don’t give me that. What’s your real beef?”

“My real beef is not two hours ago we landed the kind of job we’ve been hunting since we left the DS, and we both know we don’t actually have the manpower to carry it off.”

“So we’re going to be stretched thin. We should be used to that by now.”

So, taking on another job—one that’s liable to be as time-consuming and distracting as this one
original cover by LC Chase
sounds—is not smart.” He shook his head.

“It’ll take a day. Two at most.”

“You’re dreaming.”

“The hell. You think I can’t handle tracking down this Zamarion guy?”

“Of course I don’t think that. But come on, you know what this is going to be. Chasing smoke in the wind.”

“I know.”

“Then you admit it’s not an efficient use of our resources.”

Taylor opened his mouth, and Will added, “And while we’re on the topic of resources, I thought you were frantic to pay Richard back? Just this morning you said again how much you didn’t want to be in debt to him. Which is all the more reason not to take on a pro-bono gig that’s liable to jeopardize the first job we’ve had that might allow us to start paying off that debt.”

Everything Will was saying was true, so it was maddening to have Taylor keep looking at him with that skeptical expression like…what? What did think was really motivating Will?


“I see,” Taylor drawled. “If David Bradley came to us for help, you’d just give him the name of a good local firm and send him on his way?”


You can buy the book:


Amazon




iBooks (February 8)



Friday, January 24, 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Here's What's Coming in 2020!

He's very little and very loud
I'm sort of off my stride after the disconcerting and abrupt end to 2019. I had plans, big plans, and then I got sick and then I got a new puppy and then the puppy ate my homework...

Have you seen my puppy???



Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out what I need to have happen in 2020. I need to be healthier for sure. I need more exercise, I need to eat right, I need to schedule my books more realistically, and I need to take time to rest and relax between projects.

ANY IDEA HOW TO DO THAT? ASKING FOR A FRIEND.

So as I look over my sales for last year--and I think sales (take home pay) is the only real indicator if you're on the right track**--my overall numbers are up. Amazon is up by over 2K, which...I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's reversing a two-year trend of staying flat--and the previous two year trend dipping down (9K in 2015 and another 6K in 2016) Basically I'm earning about 3K more than I did in 2013) which is...probably confusing. I hate math. On the bright side, my wide sales are way up--but a lot of that was based on translations and mobile games and stuff, and those aren't regular or reliable earnings.

Well, in fact, nothing in this game is regular or reliable. ;-)

What I'm trying to say is 2019 was an improvement and I need to do more of whatever I did, which was basically write more books.

My goal is to publish a book a month. Which is fine and dandy, and I hope that happens, but...

Anyway, there are a whole host of books that should be written this year, but because I don't think it's a great idea to start the year out feeling overwhelmed, I'm only looking at the first six months.

So first, Blind Side at the end of January. This novella--they were all novellas, so I don't want to hear bitching about book length--is the final chapter in the series. I love Will and Taylor, and I want to go out on a high note. The books were always fun and action-packed and a little bit of a Very Special Episode feel, and I want to carry that right through to the end.

It's a good problem to have: more business than they can comfortably handle on their own.

But with resources already overstretched, the last thing former DSS Agents and newbie security consultants Will Brandt and Taylor MacAllister need is another client--and the last thing Will needs is for that client to turn out to be an old boyfriend of Taylor's.

Sure, Will has always known Taylor had a wild past, but he was kind of hoping he'd never have to sit down and have a beer with it. But golden boy Ashe Dekker believes someone is trying to kill him, and Taylor is determined to help, no matter what the cost.


It's a little bit of a jolt to have Taylor for once totally disregard his feelings, but Will is equally determined that "the cost" won't be their relationship--or Taylor's life.

I do believe ending the series is the right call because the preorders on this one are lower than any of the other preorders, barring Haunted Heart: Spring. You--me--have to be pragmatic about these things. In other words, in order to earn a living I have to mostly write what people seem most interested in reading.

Oh! Adrian Bisson is back to narrate the audio. :-)

Then in February comes Murder in Pirate's Cove, which is the first book in a new gay cozy mystery series. I come from a mainstream cozy background, so I'm on familiar ground here--but is the m/m audience? That's what's going to be interesting with this experiment. And it is an experiment in that it's the first new release that I'm going to put immediately into Kindle Unlimited.

Please note: if you do not buy through Amazon, preorder this book now. It's listed at a reduced price--which will change once the book goes into Kindle Unlimited, which is going to be within a week of going live. Preorder and you can get it for less and you won't have to be irritated about the fact that the series is not going to be wide for a while.  

In March comes Secret at Skull House, the next book in the Secrets and Scrabble series, and it's the exact same deal. Buy the book now at the reduced price or forever hold your peace.

Also in March, I'll be attending Livre Paris.  That's going to be exciting--I've never been to France! I do have relatives there, but I don't think I'm going to try to look them up. Anyway, if you're going to the "most popular book event in France," I hope you'll drop by to say bonjour!

MEANWHILE in other news, it's the 20th Anniversary of The Adrien English Mysteries and I've put the whole series into Kindle Unlimited.

AND over on Patreon, I've started Hide and Seek, an exclusive-to-Patreon novel.

For museum curator Andrew Allison, the sleepy little village of Safehaven Harbor in Maine has always lived up to its name—until now. Fleeing an abusive relationship, Andy has returned to Safehaven for a few weeks while he figures out the future and helps his elderly Uncle Cuthbert run his antiques shop. But when Andy arrives, he learns Uncle Cuthbert is in the hospital, critically injured, the victim of a late-night break-in.

Worse, the first message on the shop answering machine is from Marcus, Andy's ex, demanding to know Andy's whereabouts.

Nor does the bad news stop there. It seems whoever broke into Second Chance Heirlooms is still looking for that mysterious whatever. Something they didn't find the first time. Something they now believe Andy has.

Something worth killing for?

The good news is former bad boy Quinn Rafferty, Andy's high school crush, is back in town and apparently interested in renewing their acquaintanceship.

Quinn is not a man to run from things that go bump in the night, be they mysterious midnight prowlers or a relationship-shy fish-out-of-water museum curator.

But Quinn has a few secrets of his own…

OF COURSE HE DOES!

Then in April comes Bell, Book and Scandal. This book will conclude the original three-book story arc, however, given that there's still so much to explore with these characters and this world--not to mention that this was my best selling series in 2019 (!?!?) I've decided to continue with the characters and their wacky, witchy world.

Also in April, I hope (you can see why I'm starting to get nervous) comes Haunted Heart: Spring. I'm honestly not sure if this book will conclude the storyline or not. I won't know until I'm deep into the writing. 

THEN I'm taking a break and switching over to a long-postponed non-fiction project called Mr. and Mrs. Murder. That's going to take at least a couple of months, so there probably will not be anything out from me...maybe the third book in the Secrets and Scandal series. I'm just not sure.

So that then leaves The Movie-Town Murders (the probably final Art of Murder book) and The 12.2 Percent Solution (the definitely final Holmes & Moriarity). I want those out before the end of the year, but things have a way of changing and right now I just can't seem to see that far ahead. I want to get through these immediate jumps first before I make any other commitments. But yeah, those books are supposed to happen this year, and I assume they will if I can stay healthy and focused.

Anyway, that's the plan for 2020! SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Whew. I think I need to lie down and have a rest now. ;-) 











**Actually, the only REAL indicator of whether you're on the right track is how happy you are. Are you happy most of the time? Then you're successful.