Saturday, February 29, 2020


A funny thing happened on the way to writing Murder at Pirate's Cove, but that's a story for another day--and maybe even a writing book. Because, yes, this was a book written *cough* a long time ago and reshaped into something quite different, even worth (IMHO) worth reading.

I have a number of manuscripts like that which came to light when the SO was emptying out our old house. I think it's a sign of trust when you let another person--even your SO--sort through your old journals, manuscripts, love letters, etc. The most embarrassing part is seeing through his eyes the items I saw fit to keep for thirty years. WHY?

I must be more sentimental than I'm willing to acknowledge, although I did give him the okay to toss whatever seemed to need tossing. Manuscripts did not, in his opinion, meet that criteria, so I have been having to relive my junior writing efforts--not to mention my junior typing efforts.

Anyway, Murder at Pirate's Cove is now launched and sailing out upon the  dark and the rolling sea. In some ways rewriting is much, much harder than writing from scratch--and in other crucial ways, it's much easier, because you already did the initial thinking. The initial thinking--even when working from an outline--is what takes so much time. (That and trying to remember what everyone's eye color is and what they all drive and whether you saw fit to give someone a food allergy).

I kept worrying about the lack of romantic content in this, but I suddenly remembered how much romantic content is in Fatal Shadows.  It's nice writing a slow, quiet building of a relationship. Frankly, I really enjoyed the lack of...drama. The lack of angst. Now, it's only the first book, so there is drama and angst ahead, but my intention is for these books to be gentle stories. I mean, yes, of course murder abounds--and a bit of heartbreak too--but the point of a cozy is all's well that end's well.

I wouldn't ONLY want to write this kind of thing, but it's nice in between the more emotionally charged works.

Secret at Skull House comes out next month--in fact, I'm starting that one today (right after we rush to Costco to stock up on supplies--assuming the shelves are not already bare).

Meantime the book is still available at its preorder price

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 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. :-(


(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!


I'm so sorry to report that, due to the growing concerns regarding the spread of the Coronavirus, we've just received word the Salon is cancelled for this year. :-(  So it looks like I won't be meeting so many of you next month as we had hoped and planned. Let us all resolve to stay healthy and we can look forward to next year. <3


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

The thing about'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.


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.


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?” 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?”


“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?


 “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 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