Friday, September 17, 2021

Shop Like a Pirate

 Smashwords is hosting a Talk Like a Pirate Day sale this weekend and the first four books in the Secrets and Scrabble series are currently listed at $2.99 each thru September 21st (the books are normally priced at $5.99).

It's a great time to catch up on the series before the fifth book comes out.



Saturday, September 4, 2021

Five Things You Might Not Know About Me ;-)

 


Just keeping things light this Labor Day weekend. Once upon a time--as in for the last thirty years--every Labor Day weekend was spent performing at the Santa Rosa-then-Pleasanton Highland Games. But last year the Games were canceled and this year one of our bandmates was injured in a non-musical accident (I honestly didn't know you could rip a pectoral muscle GULP).  

The bright side is, I have Labor Day off! 

There really is no dark side to swimming, BBQ, and sleeping in that I can see.

A lot of you might not have known that I've been performing/recording Celtic music for most of my adult life (which, makes it all the odder that I've never written a musician main character--I have no idea why) and that's from whence the idea for this post arose.

Some other things you might not know about me.

1 - I talk to myself. A LOT. To the amusement of friends and family--and possibly my dogs. I don't even know I'm doing it anymore. It's mostly the musing aloud variety. Let's see. If I add this... You know the kind of thing. I'm also prone to false alarms. Oh, don't tell me I... lostmykeys/lockedmyselfout/forgotto To the extent that no one takes these flutters seriously anymore (except me and even I know I probably did NOT forget/lose/drop whatever it is).

Apparently I have even occasionally talked in my sleep, although I don't know if I really believe this.

2 -  I believe in ghosts. Not like Hollywood ghosts or Gothic literature ghosts--although those are certainly fun--more like echoes of the past, reverberations of traumatic events, shades and shadows that linger through time. I think I've had a couple of ghostly encounters, but I'm not entirely sure. I have an active imagination and that could certainly throw me off.

3 - My first novel--a Harlequin romance--was published in 1984.  So, yes, I have been doing this a very long time.

 4 - I didn't marry until I was in my forties. From a writing perspective, that gave me a lot of useful experience as far as having different kinds of relationships with different kinds of romantic partners. From an ideal spouse perspective... er, I was a little on the backward side. I think it took me two years before I conceded I did need to call home if I was going to be late or that I should probably consult--or at least inform--the SO before I made vacation arrangements. HOWEVER, I DID REMEMBER TO DOUBLE CHECK WITH HIM IF IT WAS OKAY TO ADOPT BOTH DOGS. ;-)

5 - I close my eyes at the gory/scary parts of films. I HATE suspense.


Friday, August 27, 2021

The Endless Summer


Without a doubt this has got to be the weirdest summer.

At least it's my weirdest summer. 

I mean, what DIDN'T go wrong? Appliances breaking left and right (currently the dishwasher and pool heater are on the blink). Pandemic. Family feuds. Health crises for the parental units. Pandemic. Sick dogs. Social and political unrest. DID I MENTION THERE'S A @#$%^^&&!*ING PANDEMIC? Neighbor drama-trauma (which I realize bothers me more than I want to admit). 

In short, I'm burnt out. 

It's not about the writing. When I can sit down long enough to write, the writing is fine. I'M burnt out. I'm tired. I have zero emotional energy. And my mental energy is expended on things I truly don't want to think about. I don't want to think about climate change although an entire summer of triple digit days makes it hard to ignore. I don't want to think about having to rely on natural selection to get us out of this pandemic, but that's inevitable. I don't want to face the fact that my parents are well into their 80s and not in great health. I don't want to think about voter suppression, the humanitarian crisis in EVERYWHERE, a country on the verge of civil war--but for months I haven't been able to read or watch TV or movies, so what else is there to think about? 

Ugh.

No wonder I find it difficult to sit down and write fun, entertaining fiction. I am not a fun, entertaining person right now.

Every time I think I'm coming out of it (like now?) something else breaks or someone else gets sick or there's something new and terrifying happening on the news. And, proof of my red zone stress levels, everything feels like the last straw. The. Last. Straw. 

This is not me. But yet it's been me for the last two years. 

I do think part of the trouble is--this is tied to the pandemic, for sure--there hasn't been a lot of "refilling the creative well" over the past two, well, three years. So that's kind of my focus right now. I'm consciously making a belated effort to refill the well.  

Part of the... I wouldn't call it a difficulty, exactly, but I achieved all of my initial life goals a long time ago. I write for a living--and I love what I write. I found my life's partner. I can typically help the people I love when they need help. 

So what's next? I think that's what I'm struggling with. What do I want from the rest of my life? Or at least the next ten years? What would make me happy? I honestly have no idea--and I think that question mark has to be addressed. 

I mean, there are things I want that are not possible. I want the people I love--even the dogs I love--to live forever. That's not going to happen. But within the reachable realm, what do I want? Do I want to move to another country? Do I want to write in another genre? (Those two are kind of the same thing, aren't they?) In fact, do I want to give up writing and do something else with my life? What would that be? 

(Okay, giving up writing seems pretty unlikely. I can't imagine a non-writing life. Writing isn't just what I do, it's what I am.)

I do have several short term practical goals:

Body at Buccaneer Bay - September 30ish

The Monuments Men Murders - November 30*

Hide and Seek (Patreon exclusive) - December 31

Fatal Shadows: The Collector's Edition - December 31


(*Updated yet again as of 9/7 because I just realized my BFF is coming to spend two weeks, and while she is also a writer, it is HIGHLY unlikely much writing will happen.)

I think that's all doable. Beyond that...I do know I want room for the extra stuff. Creative exploration and expansion. The projects that don't necessarily make money, but that allow me to stretch my brain and flex my writing muscles. 

What will those be? I have no idea. Which is maybe both the good news AND the bad news. ;-) 

Friday, August 6, 2021

NEW IN AUDIO: Scandal at the Salty Dog

 I've been a bit distracted lately (as I'm sure you've noticed) so I forgot to mention that THIS HAPPENED.



SCANDAL AT THE SALTY DOG is now available in audio. The wickedly talented Matthew Haynes returns to narrate the latest adventures of Ellery, Jack, Watson, and the Silver Sleuths. ;-) 


Murder Stalks the Cobbled Streets of Pirate’s Cove

 

After elderly recluse Juliet Blackwell suffers a mysterious fall in her spooky old mansion, she insists the ghost of long-dead pirate Rufus Blackwell has come to avenge himself on the last member of his treacherous clan.

Bookshop owner and occasional amateur sleuth Ellery Page doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he knows fear when he sees it, and it’s clear to him his eccentric customer is genuinely terrified.

Who or what is haunting Miss Blackwell, what, if anything, does it have to do with mysterious goings-on at the Salty Dog pub—and why is any of it Ellery’s problem?

According to Police Chief Jack Carson, it’s not Ellery’s problem, and just maybe Ellery should stop asking awkward questions before it’s too late.


The book is also in print! 




 


Friday, July 16, 2021

BODY AT BUCCANEER BAY Playlist

 




Back at work again, although I can't pretend it didn't take a few days to regain my focus. In the middle of trying to shake off my... I think the best way to describe it is an extreme mental and emotional fatigue. But anyway, in the middle of that came Fourth of July, which was the first time my entire family has been together for any real celebration since our very careful and cautious Thanksgiving.

So huge preparation was necessary in both home and garden--which was actually great because I had my two nephews over to help, and so there were three days of strenuous yard work and listening to those loonies talk about the stuff they talk about (a LOT of gaming, Star Wars--we watched The Mandalorian each evening when we finished work--and politics). It was good. It was what I needed. 

And then the actual Fourth was very good too, despite the best efforts of the dumbasses in the neighborhood to set the world on fire (we live in a extreme fire danger zone so amateur fireworks are forbidden--not that you'd know from the four-hour nonstop display lighting up the sky.). We literally had paper and wood debris raining down from all the fireworks overhead. Happily nothing caught on fire. 

It's weird though. I'm really out of the habit of socializing. In fact, we were all saying how tiring even that kind of social situation is now. I'm sure that will pass as life--fingers crossed--returns to normal.

Anyway, I'm back at work on Body at Buccaneer's Bay. The book will probably be out late August--which means everything else will have to be juggled as well, but one thing at a time.

But one good sign is I actually put together the playlist for the book. The process of putting together the playlist allows me to think through the emotional highs and lows of the story versus plot. It's usually a revelation--although sometimes that mood changes (and then so do the songs).

Be that as it may, for your listening enjoyment...

Body at Buccaneer Bay Playlist

Good Time - Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen

Sea Shanty - Wellerman

Let's Fall in Love for the Night - Finneas

All is Found - Ashley Serena

Fireflies - Owl City

Jack Was Every Inch a Sailor - Burl Ives

No Body No Crime - Taylor Swift

Next to You - Little Big Town

Oro Se Do Bheatha 'Bhaile - Seo Linn

Let Me - Matthew Mole

When Can I See You Again? - Owl City


Friday, June 25, 2021

The Dreadful Day

 


I haven't been online for a few days, and I need to explain why--partly because I'm still trying to process what happened. This is not an excuse for being behind--I was already behind on a number of things.

Thursday morning I was working in my downstairs office and I heard screaming from the house behind ours. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, yes, this is the house where several years ago the lady got locked out by her then two-year-old, and where two years ago, they set the palm tree behind our house on fire with their barbecue and then proceeded to scream and accuse each other (husband and wife, that is) instead of trying to put the fire out. (The fire was put out by me and other neighbors.)

The husband has a horrendous temper--at least by the sound of it. He's always screaming and cursing at the kids and at the wife. That's a kind of abuse, but it doesn't mean he's dangerous per se. Just...unpleasant. Certainly, an unpleasant neighbor. Maybe he's a great guy otherwise. I wouldn't know.

But when I heard her screaming, I thought they were fighting again, so I stopped and listened for a minute, and I thought she sounded more terrified than usual. I thought I heard her scream, "No, no, no." And I could hear the kids screaming (they have three little boys and a little girl).

I got up and went to the glass door which opens onto the backyard and listened--I heard one of the little boys cry, "Oh God, help us."

I ran to the back wall, which is chest high, and called, "What's wrong? What's happening?" 

But he was gone. I could hear them further inside the house, and they were still screaming--I couldn't understand what they were saying (the parents are Armenian, I believe). So I called out again, "What's happening? What's wrong?" 

I was trying to decide whether to call 911 as a domestic, and as I looked around their yard, a flash of pink caught my eye. I thought it was a pool toy. I looked again and it was the baby daughter at the bottom of the pool. 

That image is burned into my brain. I don't think I will ever be able to forget that. 

She was on the bottom in her little pink pajamas. No movement, no bubbles, the wrong color--I could see it all.

I ran inside and called 911 and then I ran back, still talking to 911 and began to scream, "Get her out of the pool, get her out of the pool!" Screaming over and over. To nobody.

One of the little boys ran out and I yelled, "Can you swim? Get her out of there!"

He jumped in and dragged her out, and I told him to get her on her side--and at that point the mother and the other kids poured out of the house. She was on the phone--to her husband, I believe--and she began to beg me to climb the wall and help her. I waved the phone and said, "I'm on the phone with 911. I'm going to talk you through." She kept begging me to come and help her.

It was pandemonium. The young German shepherd next door was trying to scale the wall next to me, barking his head off, the mother was screaming and hysterical, the kids were screaming and hysterical, I could barely hear the operator--who by then was an EMT. 

I finally got the mom to listen, we went through the whole thing of CPR--she kept stopping to wail and sob--which I don't blame her for because I was also crying. When I saw the little girl, I believed it was already too late--but we kept at it. Thirty chest compressions, nothing. Then I tried to instruct her on mouth-to-mouth. I could go on and on. It seemed to take months before the sheriffs arrived, but I think it was only about five minutes.

They took the little girl away and I broke down and started sobbing. The operator/EMT guy said, "Listen, you did a great job. Really. You did everything you could."

Which I would like to believe. But of course I feel guilty. 

A while later a neighbor down the street came to our house to say she wanted to make sure I was all right. She had seen the whole thing from her bedroom window. How many other people were watching? People who were closer and could have been of more help? I mean, it was early and most people would be at work, but was I really the only person able to respond? 

It's a little bit of comfort that she said, "You should know that you were great. You were so in control and so calm (I was not, for the record, either of those things). I could hear everything you said to her. I could see you petting and calming the dog (which I'd totally forgot) and counting for her and talking to the kids."

The sheriffs came to interview me and I told them what I knew. They took photos of my yard and their yard. They said the little girl had not been pronounced but it did not look good. 

Anyway, that's it. That's where I've been. I'm doing my best not to think about it, and today is much easier, but it's woven into my dreams. It pops into my head at unexpected times.  It's not my tragedy and it is not about me, but I still have to work through my inadvertent part in it. I do believe I did everything I could.  But it's still...dreadful. 



Friday, June 18, 2021

The Dog Days of Summer

 


Currently it's 99° and headed for another day in the triple digits. It's been like this for an entire week, and I think I speak for everyone is this household when I say UGH

We woke to the sound of patio lights falling and the backyard umbrella crashing down when a sudden windstorm ripped through the yard...and then disappeared. Next, our neighbors' German shepherd puppy escaped and was on the lam, so we helped chase him down. (The SO used Marlowe as bait to lure the runaway back). Now all is quiet. Dead still, in fact. Hot and humid and still. I'm settling down to work, my faithful doggie companions curled up in the giant comfy chair with me (it is a bit warm for curling up together, but they don't seem to mind).

I don't know how people can say dogs don't dream. Spenser's tail is wagging as he sleeps. Marlowe's little muzzle is twitching and wrinkling like he's telling Cowboy what he thinks of him for running away. They are most definitely dreaming--and not about the same things.

Body at Buccaneer Bay is off to a slow start. There's just a lot going on right now (not that that's anything new) and I'm trying not to fall too far behind on all the other stuff that has to happen in addition to writing. I can't wait for next year when I've got eight weeks between projects and can actually have something close to a normal working life. Anyway, I've made most of the adjustments to this year's schedule now (The 12.2-Per-Cent Solution still has to be pushed back to the end of July at Amazon, but other than that, I think everything is now looking pretty solid--barring the next disaster.)

IT IS A WEIRD SUMMER. Am I right? Even as we climb out of the pandemic--not that we're out yet, but I do feel we're getting there--everything still feels...unfamiliar and precarious. Maybe it was always unfamiliar and precarious, and I'm only now noticing? 

ENYWHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Things I'm working on this month:

Exclusive audio for Patreon. Which I'll talk about on Patreon. ;-) 

But speaking of audio, I set up my own audio storefront at Findaway Voices. To celebrate, I've knocked everything down about 50% for the month of June. Now, not all my audio books are in my storefront, but some thing are in my storefront that are not--and will never--be at Audible. AND now I'm thinking maybe I'll create more collections that are unique to my storefront and maybe a couple of other channels not including Audible. It's an idea. It might not be a good one. We'll see.


I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors as an Authorpreneur (you have to be able to prove you earn a living at your writing by showing that you sell a minimum of 50,000 units over 24 months--or whatever the page read equivalent of that is) Basically, I was looking for a discount coupon at IngramSpark, but as I read about the benefits and goals of ALLI, I realized this was an organization worth supporting. If you're an indie author, I think you might want to check it out!


I'm going through contracts and setting up accounts at various mobile publishing platforms. I'm really fascinated by mobile publishing--which is kind of a cross between Candy Crush and Netflix. On the one hand, it seems like the least efficient way to buy books. On the other hand, I play Candy Crush, so...I get it.  Right now, I'm just uploading backlist stories. And of course, that's not really the most effective way to write for these platforms, but the thing is, I'm just looking for another passive income stream. I ALREADY make a living at my writing, and as we all know, I'm not great at having to produce under super-stressful deadlines. 

There's surprisingly little insight or info about the Asian market--even though it dominates this industry--but I did find an interesting article here. What is really fascinating is that the fiction app readership is NOT your "normal" book buying audience. It is sure as hell not a KU audience given that readers could ultimately pay three times what a book would fetch on one of the mainstream book-selling platforms. Which is why I wonder how successful Amazon will be with Vella. Readers go to Amazon to buy books at the lowest possible prices. I understand why Amazon wants a slice of this particular pie though.


Always things to consider and explore in this brave new world of publishing. 

Are you doing anything special for Father's Day? I bought my dad something called Storyworth. And then I thought it was such a cool idea, that I also bought it for the SO on behalf of my step-kids. Essentially, it's a book made up of photos and reminiscences. I can't think of a better gift for my dad or the SO given that they are both writers AND big time reminiscencers. ;-D 


Anyway, that's my weekly update. 

Just a reminder that Body at Buccaneer Bay will be out toward the end of July. If you've already preordered, thank you so much.





Friday, June 11, 2021

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

 


And I am covered in scratches and scrapes from two days of long-delayed gardening. 

Last weekend I had my nephews over to try and wrangle the jungle that is my backyard into order. It's not that my garden is neglected--we have gardeners (though I don't let them cut anything but the lawn)--so it's been almost two years since I really, really gardened--as in untangled and sorted out all the lights, seriously pruned everything back, and did a bunch of replanting and repotting. 

So we made great headway, but there was still a ton of stuff to do AND it turns out that my nephews have zero aptitude for untangling lights. Under their peculiar ministrations, five somewhat tangled strands became ONE GIGANTIC KNOT that took me three hours to undo. 

Anyway, other than learning they are not very good at undoing knots (this is the danger of Velcro shoe fastenings) we had a great time. I fed them all day long on hors d'oeuvres hidden deep in my freezer since Christmas. See, this is the thing. This is the first time in 15 months I was able to get together with the boys and work in the yard like we used to do. (Not that I used to feed them Christmas hors d'oeuvres on a regular basis, but you know.) When we finally wrapped up about six, the SO barbecued and we watched the first three episodes of the Mandalorian, so it was really a terrific day and evening--and being fully vaccinated is a wonderful thing.  

BUT THERE IS STILL SO MUCH TO DO IN THE GARDEN.

So for the past couple of days I've been tackling some of that on my own as my "break" during the writing work day. The problem is, I'm a little...obsessive. You might have noticed this. So I go out to straighten lights on a rose bush and thirty minutes later, I'm still out there hacking away at the thorny dead wood that hasn't been chopped out in years. Which is where a lot of the cuts and scrapes (and tears in my T-shirt) came from.

After a weird little cold spell this week, the weather is once again classic sunny So Cal. Blue skies, bright sunshine, everything in bloom. It's gorgeous--and soon to be hot as hell. 

OH! Update--in case you hadn't heard--Marlowe the Mutt has bronchitis! The vet reassured me that his trachea is absolutely fine; heart, lungs, everything in great shape. He is a "young and healthy dog" but he has bronchitis. Yikes. So the vet put him on meds and he's back to his normal, nutty little self. 

I can't tell you what a relief it is (although I'm sure you know). I love those two little dogs with all my heart. 

BOOKS. Oh yeah. THAT. 


So here's what's happening. Tomorrow I start Body at Buccaneer Bay (Secrets and Scrabble 5), and that will come out in mid-July. 

Then comes The 12.2 Per-Cent Solution (Holmes & Moriarity 5--the final book) and that comes out the end of August.

The last book of the year is The Movie-Town Murders, which I'm still hoping to finish by the end of September. It might slip into the first week of October, but not by much. 

And that's it for 2021. YOU SHALL NOT SEE MY LIKES AGAIN.

No. Wrong. If you're on Patreon, you'll get Hide and Seek in November/December, which kind of works out because it takes place at Christmas. 

But yes, that will be it for the year. Murder is Served is definitely getting pushed back to February (which is going to be the perfect time for something utterly nuts). In 2022, there will be eight weeks between writing each and every project, so no more of this crazy teetering on burnout, frantic juggling of deadlines. I have acknowledged and accepted that I can't write the way I used to. I can't rely on summoning turbo boosts of creative energy and/or panic in the home stretch. That's not in me anymore. It was never a healthy way to work. It's one reason why I suffered through two bouts of burnout (although the second bout...I don't know because that was as much anxiety and depression over politics and pandemic as creative funk). Anyway. I can't do it anymore.

So that's that. I have to keep struggling with myself not to list books for preorder too close together, but so far, so good. It is ALL good. Being realistic with yourself (and readers) is good. Allowing yourself room to breathe--and mess around in the garden--is good. :-D

What are you up to? What have you got planned for the summer? Are you fully vaccinated yet?

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

con·tre·temps /ˈkäntrətäN/

 


That's 17 points in Scrabble, for those keeping track.

Yeeeeeesh. 

So by now you may or may not be aware that the correct file for Scandal at the Salty Dog was actually uploaded after the book went live on Monday. 

Yes, I know.

The correct files were uploaded Monday, but that doesn't mean you have them. It means they're now available. If you've tried to get updates to the original file, but you're not able to, drop me a line and I'll send you the correct file. 

Frankly, that was the LEAST of my disastrous weekend. 

On Friday night--no, let's be precise--at two a.m. on Saturday morning, I woke to what sounded like a waterfall in the master bathroom. I staggered in to see what was happening, opened the cistern and water began shooting out everywhere. I couldn't see how to fix it, so I staggered back to wake up the SO, who was sleeping peacefully throughout my exclamations of dismay, the rush of Niagara-like sounds, and the dogs racing around, hopping on and off the bed, to join in the fun. 

At last the SO comes back to life--cue resurrected mummy sounds--jumps up, staggers into the bathroom, can't see how to fix it--coz it's a special water conserving toilet???-- tries to turn off the valve below the toilet and... It's stripped. He can't turn off the water there, so he says he'll have to shut it off at the street. Not ideal, but okay.

He staggers out to turn off the water at the street HOWEVER we don't have a normal valve out there. We have some weird jerry-rigged monstrosity that requires a special tool which we don't have. So after trying an assortment of wrenches and hammers and whatever, he says we have to call the city AT TWO IN THE MORNING.

The city says ARE YOU KIDDING? IT'S TWO A.M AND THIS IS A HOLIDAY WEEKEND. WE'RE GOING TO CHARGE YOU. I won't repeat what the SO said. The city finally staggered out and turned off the water. 

We all go back to bed.

On Saturday, we begin calling plumbers. No luck. No one can come out before Tuesday. TUESDAY. And we can't turn the water back on because, you know, weird jerry-rigged street valve. 

No showers, no washing dishes, no watering the garden, no flushing the toilets. You get the picture. It's not pretty.

By Saturday night, I was thinking it couldn't get worse.

Then my beloved little darling, Marlowe the Mutt, out of nowhere starts choking and coughing up white foam. It goes on and on and then stops. And then starts again. And then stops. And then starts again. I think something is lodged in his throat or he's been poisoned and he's dying and it's pretty much the worst night of my life. 

But then it stops. He seems fine.

We go to bed. Please, please, please God, don't let my little dog die.

I lie with Marlowe tucked against me, stroking him, listening to him breathing, all night. In the morning, he is jumping up and down, wanting breakfast, while I'm calling our vet trying to get their emergency line--WHICH THEY NO LONGER HAVE. They didn't even have the answering machine on. NOBODY HOME.

So Marlowe seems perky and fine, but every now and then he has this weird coughing spell--which I now realize could be kennel cough. So I read up everything I can find on kennel cough, and proceed to do all the things to make him comfortable.

Now it's Wednesday and I've currently called four recced vets--not including our regular vet--and the soonest anyone can take him is JUNE NINTH. Our own vet can't take him until the FIFTEENTH. 

The plumber came yesterday. Today Marlowe seems better? So maybe, maybe, maybe life is getting back to normal. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.



Friday, May 14, 2021

BELL, BOOK AND SCANDAL now in audio!

 New on Audible! 


Black Cats. Black Arts. Black. Mail.

 

Must a witch break one set of vows to keep another?

 

Cosmo Saville has never been happier. His adored police commissioner husband has finally—mostly— accepted his witchy ways. And in return, Cosmo has promised to stay out of police business. It seems their Happily Ever After has come at last, until Cos discovers John’s sister might be a pawn in a dangerous game of blackmail…

Commissioner Galbraith is relieved the lies and secrets are over and his marriage is back on track. Especially since he has his hands full with a high-profile suicide and rumors of a citywide extortion ring. So when John realizes his own slightly wicked witch is using magic to play sleuth, all his old fears and doubts return to haunt him.

With the commissioner’s badge and family in jeopardy, Cosmo feels he has no choice but to use every power in…his power. Even if that dark decision costs him everything he cares about most.


Narrated by my ever-favorite super-talented narrator Kale Williams! 



click to buy

Friday, May 7, 2021

Life is What Happens...


 I got my second shot of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday, which was--again--weirdly and embarrassingly moving. 

I can't even explain it. But something about looking around that GIGANTIC barn (literally--it was at our local fairground) and seeing my fellow Americans--the reassuring diversity of old/young, male/female, white/people of color... I felt like crying.

A good crying though. A feeling of THANK YOU FOR BEING SANE, I guess.

But here's the thing. Beyond unexpected fatigue, I had no real after-effects following the first vaccine. The second vaccine? Holy moly. At first, nothing. I went home and worked for about six hours. And then... 

Chills, fever, nausea, headache, aches in every joint...even my skin hurt. 

It lasted roughly two days. So not nearly the length of the flu, and certainly not the length of COVID19. I'm not suggesting it wasn't worth it--because that should be a no-brainer--I'm saying I wasn't expecting it.

So...surprise! 

In another week, I'll have 95% immunity, and I can't begin to tell you what a relief that is. 

But I've lost a couple of days of work, and between some family things (HELLO, MOTHER'S DAY, WHEN DID YOU GET HERE?) online conferences and doctor appointments, I'm looking at my schedule and thinking I might have to shift some things again. I dread the very idea, after finally getting back on track, but sometimes there's no getting around things. The truth is, I'm still working around a schedule I created last year, when I was definitely in denial about how much I could do within a day/week/month/year. 

Anyway...

Scandal at the Salty Dog (Secrets and Scrabble 4) is maybe...probably going to get pushed back to the end of May. We're only talking a couple of weeks difference. 

Body at Buccaneer Bay (Secrets and Scrabble 5) will hopefully not see any changes. I don't want to shift anything more than I have to. At the most, we'd be looking at a week or so.

The 12.2-Per-Cent Solution (Holmes and Moriarity 5) will almost certainly be pushed back to mid-July. It's the final book of the series. I don't want to have to rush it. So maybe a month's delay there. I've been saying I might have to do this for a couple of months, so this one shouldn't come as a surprise.

(ugh) Murder is Served (2 Novellas) is kind of iffy right now. It has less than 1K preorders, so the enthusiasm is not enormous. I'm already doing seven novels this year (including Hide and Seek for Patreon) so this project might just be a bridge too far. I haven't made a decision, but this is where my thoughts are headed. It would take some of the pressure off and give me more time to concentrate on The Movie-Town Murders, which is good, given the research involved in the Art of Murder series. Also I'm probably going to need that time to finish Hide and Seek

I'm not saying I'd completely cancel. I haven't made up my mind what I might do.

So that's kind of what I'm looking at. I didn't want to have to adjust anything, and I'm still hoping I won't, but every day there seems to be something new and urgent added to my calendar. How I wish I could have taken advantage of all that free time last year. 

 Anyway. Next year, I'll be starting completely fresh. The only thing scheduled is in April. I fully intend to put together a realistic work schedule that reflects how I work now versus a decade ago. 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

"O where ha you been, Lord Randal, my son?"

 

Lord Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.



Ranald. Ronald. Whoever.

YOU ARE HERE.

AND YOU NEED TO BE THERE.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? WHY IS IT NOT THAT SIMPLE? 

Anyway, that's where I am right now--riding madly off in all directions. But they're all creative directions, so that's the good news. I'm organizing more audio, more translations, looking into web publishing, setting up a summer...seminar? (not sure what to call it) on writing M/M Mystery. 

And, of course, I'm writing.

Writing. Writing. Writing.

The writing is going well, which means everything is going well. In this case, no news is good news. ;-) 

So... Next book up is Scandal at the Salty Dog. Available for preorder (though no longer at the preorder price). That's coming out mid-ish May. I will keep you posted! 





Sunday, April 18, 2021

What Readers Want

 


What do readers really want?

This was the question I threw out during a online event on the Grinders FaceBook page. I received a lot of wonderful, thoughtful, and yes, frankly, expected answers. And then my reader friend Karan Kapszukiewicz (you might recognize her from the Art of Murder series! :-D) posted this--and because it resonated so much, and I don't want to forget it--because this is exactly what I look for too!-- I'm posting it here.


I read your question yesterday, but really had to think about the answer. I think I know what I want more than what I don't want. As crazy as this sounds, I think I want more coda-like moments within a story. 😃


When I think back to the scenes that stick with me...scenes I can play through in my mind, sometimes years later, they had little to do, specifically, with sex...or murder, or even the clever plot twists. What I'm looking for are moments in the life of a character that make them come alive to me. In, So This Is Christmas, for instance, when thinking of memorable scenes, I picture Adrien, kneeling in the snow next to a dying man, trying to convince him to hang on just a little longer, and Adrien bonding with Jake's dad over Peggy Lee. I think of Jake trying to get the whole, 'ring thing,' right. I think of Max tracing Sebastian’s back where, 'his wings used to be,' in Come Unto These Yellow Sands. Those scenes didn't necessarily move the story along or drop clues or solve any mysteries. They just gave me a glimpse of the human being behind the story. That's what I need in a good book. That connection makes the sex scenes...any sex scenes... work for me. It makes me take one more leap of faith to follow the plot, no matter how winding it might become. 


I'm invested. I care because these characters are real to me.



Friday, April 2, 2021

New Release: SHADOWS LEFT BEHIND

 


Well, this one isn't exactly a NEW new release, but it's a new box set. I haven't collected my historical novellas in ebook format before now, so this one contains everything but Snowball in Hell as Carina still holds those electronic rights. 

(When I do the audio, Snowball in Hell will be included.)

Anyway, we have five of my historical novellas including: Out of the Blue, The Dark Farewell, This Rough Magic (It's tempting to have this one rerecorded before I do the audio--I'm undecided. Any thoughts?) Slay Ride, and Murder Between the Pages.


Out of the Blue – France, 1916. Grieving over the death of his lover, British flying ace Bat Bryant accidentally kills the man threatening him with exposure. Unfortunately, there’s a witness: the big, rough American they call “Cowboy”—and Cowboy has his own price for silence.

 

The Dark Farewell – Little Egypt, 1922. It’s the Roaring Twenties and Prohibition has hit Little Egypt where newspaper man David Flynn has come to do a follow-up story on the Herrin Massacre. But the massacre isn’t the only news in town. Spiritualist Medium Julian Devereux claims to speak to the dead—and he charges a pretty penny for it. Flynn is convinced Devereux is as fake as a cigar store Indian, but when Julian begins to see bloodstained visions of a serial killer, the only person he can turn to for help is the cynical Mr. Flynn.

 

This Rough Magic – San Francisco, 1935. Wealthy playboy Brett Sheridan thinks he knows the score when he hires tough guy private eye Neil Patrick Rafferty to find a priceless stolen folio of Shakespeare’s The Tempest before his marriage to a society heiress is jeopardized. What Brett doesn’t count on is the instant and powerful attraction that flares between him and Rafferty.

 

Slay Ride - 1943 Montana. Returning home to Montana after being wounded in the Pacific, Police Chief Robert Garrett was hoping for a little much needed Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Man. Instead, he finds himself chasing after a cold-blooded killer on Christmas Day, aided—whether he likes it or not—by eager young reporter Jamie Jameson.

 

 Murder Between the Pages – 1948 Massachusetts. Felix Day, author of the Constantine Sphinx mysteries, and Leonard Fuller, author of the Inspector Fez mysteries, are bitter rivals and the best of enemies. Both happen to be present when a notorious author of roman à clef is shot by an invisible assailant during a signing at historic Marlborough Bookstore.


It's uploaded everywhere but it hasn't shown up in all the search engines yet. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

New Release: BELL, BOOK AND SCANDAL

 


Well, it took me long enough, I know. But I'm happy to say BELL, BOOK AND SCANDAL (Bedknobs and Broomsticks 3) is now available pretty much everywhere (or soon will be).


Black Cats. Black Arts. Black. Mail.

 

Must a witch break one set of vows to keep another?

 

Cosmo Saville has never been happier. His adored police commissioner husband has finally—mostly— accepted his witchy ways. And in return, Cosmo has promised to stay out of police business. It seems their Happily Ever After has come at last, until Cos discovers John’s sister might be a pawn in a dangerous game of blackmail…

Commissioner Galbraith is relieved the lies and secrets are over and his marriage is back on track. Especially since he has his hands full with a high-profile suicide and rumors of a citywide extortion ring. So when John realizes his own slightly wicked witch is using magic to play sleuth, all his old fears and doubts return to haunt him.

With the commissioner’s badge and family in jeopardy, Cosmo feels he has no choice but to use every power in…his power. Even if that dark decision costs him everything he cares about most.

 



Excerpt

A giant blue rabbit was strolling into the Classical Revival mansion on Yerba Buena Island when John and I arrived at the mayor’s Halloween party.

“Werewolves of London” floated on the night breeze, and grinning jack-o’-lanterns lined the brick steps as we went inside. The smell of recent rain, candles, and burning pumpkin filled the damp night air.

Mrs. Stevens—call me Sukie—greeted us at the door. She wore a tight black dress, scarlet-lined black cape, and a witch’s hat.

“Commissioner! We’re so delighted you could join us. And darling Cosmo!”

I’m not sure when Sukie and I got on darling terms, but I leaned in to kiss her and noticed she was wearing a silver inverted pentagram on a chain.

Now the upside-down pentagram is not exclusively Satanic. There are even Wiccan covens that have adopted the symbol to designate ranking. Not many. Craft does not use it, and Sukie was definitely not Craft. I wouldn’t have guessed she was Wiccan. And maybe she wasn’t. This was a Halloween party, and half the women in the room were dressed like sexy witches. The necklace looked old and expensive, but appearances can be deceptive. No one knows that better than those of us within the Craft.

If I hadn’t already been on edge, I don’t think I’d have made anything of the amulet. But after the day I’d had, I was seeing potential trouble everywhere.

Sukie led us through the giant cobweb of orange and black streamers, introducing us to people as we went. John was commandeered almost at once by Deputy Police Chief Danville and Mayor Stevens. He tried to delay the inevitable by telling them he was on his way to the bar, but Danville pointed out they were already in line at the bar, and Sukie stepped in, linking her arm in mine and telling John shop talk was so boring and she would take care of me.

I couldn’t help wondering if, after the contretemps at the last party at our house—the party where I’d tried to redirect the police investigation into the Witch Killer murders—the mayor had asked his wife to keep me out of the way.

John threw me a look of apology. I tugged on my deerstalker in my best, All right, guv’nor.

“You two are so adorable,” Sukie said, towing me along through the vampires and witches and clowns. “He’s absolutely besotted with you.”

“He’s not really the besotted kind,” I felt it necessary to observe.

“He’s besotted with you.”

We ran into Mrs. Danville—It’s Alice, remember?—who was also dressed like a witch. Her flirty little cape was lined with orange. Her sparkly earrings were inverted pentagrams.

“Oh my God. Sherlock Holmes. That’s adorable!” crowed Alice.

“He needs a drink,” Sukie said, trying to draw me on.

Alice had hold of my other arm, and she held me in place. “Has he met—?”

“That’s next on the agenda.” Sukie and Alice exchanged meaningful looks, which made me more uneasy.

We chitchatted for a few minutes—I couldn’t say about what if my life had depended on it—and then we were joined by Ann Morrisey, wife of Police Chief Morrisey.

Ann was also dressed like a witch—purple-lined flirty cape, inverted pentagram ring—and my heart sank.

Ann asked if I still enjoyed married life and whether Sergeant Bergamasco was a regular fixture in my household. I replied yes to the former and no to the latter. She asked if I had been worried to learn that Ciara Reitherman was out on bail, and I said no. I didn’t think Ciara posed a danger to me or John. She asked what I had heard about Chris Huntingdon, and I said I had heard nothing. As far as I knew, he was still rooming at Atascadero State Hospital.

Ann said to Sukie, “Has Cosmo met—?”

Sukie said, “Great minds think alike!”

By now I was pretty sure who the mysterious someone the First Wives Club wanted me to meet was, and far from being pleased at the opportunity to meet SFPD’s occult expert, I could feel my tension mounting by the moment.

“Are you talking about Solomon Shimon?”

Their faces lit up. “Then you’ve heard of Solomon?” Sukie said.

“John mentioned that SFPD has its own occult expert.”

They chorused, Yes!

Ann said, “But he’s so much more than that.”

That was what I was afraid of.



You can still purchase at the preorder price


Amazon

B&N

Kobo

Smashwords

Google Play

iBooks (April 9)


Friday, March 26, 2021

Swimming Lessons - Cosmo and John

 


This was written a while back for my Patrons. 

But in honor of having finished, formatted and uploaded the many-many-times delayed Bell, Book and Scandal (Bedknobs and Broomsticks 3) I'm going to share it here as well. ;-) 



Swimming Lessons

“I’m not sure this is such a great idea.” The wood was warm beneath my bare feet as I walked to the edge of the deck and stared down.

John, looking uncomfortably like an ancient sea god—or what I imagined an ancient sea god might look like—moved toward me, blue water swirling around his lean waist. He gazed up at me, wet sparkling off his eyelashes.

“Why’s that?”

“I just…” The words stuck against the gummy dryness of my tongue, the roof of my mouth. Even at this distance, my heart was pounding so hard I was surprised he couldn’t see it. I shook my head. “What’s the point? It’s the end of August. The summer is over. You—we can’t swim anyway.” I swallowed, unhappily aware it sounded—noticeably—like a gulp. “This can surely wait till next year.”

He tilted his head as though listening for something else, some shorter and higher—much higher—frequency than the one I wanted to project.

“It’s northern California. We can probably swim through November, if we want to.”

“But I don’t want to.”

There. It was out. Smacking down on the glossy painted planks of our new redwood deck like a dead fish.

John gazed up at me with that dark does-not-compute gaze, then braced his hands on the cement lip of the pool and vaulted out onto the deck.

He jumped out of the pool. Which takes unbelievable upper body strength to be able to do.

Water rained down from his lean, brown body, puddling between us.

I took an instinctive step back and seeing this, he froze. I braced myself, trying to pretend like I hadn’t just recoiled, raised my chin.

John said—and he sounded almost shocked, “Cos. I’m not going to…”

“I know. I know that,” I said quickly.

“I’m not some fucking teenaged asshole who’s going to dunk you.”

I relaxed, a little ashamed, because I did know that. But fear—phobia—is not rational. And John, supremely rational, couldn’t begin to imagine how terrifying this was for me. He was like a…a shark in the water. Water was his element. I’d been watching him swim for the last week, ever since the pool—this beautiful, deadly, glinting reservoir of blue and green tile and silver liquid had been installed in our previously lovely upper garden— watching him flashing up and down the choppy aqua length, muscular arms and legs cutting with silent, certain speed. He could go twice the length of the pool holding his breath.

“I’m not going to force you,” he said.

“I know,” I said again, but I still sounded afraid—and he could hear it.

I was afraid. Because he didn’t have to force me. I wanted to show him—didn’t want him to know I was afraid and weak—but water would kill me. I was certain of that.

“Listen to me,” he said, and he sounded nearly as winded as me. “Listen, just listen for a second.” He was not a man to waste words, to repeat himself, and I understood that my fear rattled even him.

He put his arms around me, and I cringed—as much as I welcomed the reassurance of his touch—as all that wet, all that water, slithered and trickled down my dry skin. He wasn’t cold though—that was a surprise. His wet skin felt warm and burnished. The pool must have been heated, although he had said he didn’t want a heated pool. That was a concession to me, the guy who didn’t want any pool at all, ever.

“This is your choice.”

My cracked laugh was muffled against his shoulder.

He squeezed me, said, “I’m not just saying it. It is. But. Can I tell you why I think this—you learning to swim—is important?”

I raised my head. “I know why you think it’s important. But I can’t do it, John. I can’t. You saw what happened when I was pushed into the Seine. I sank. I couldn’t swim at all. I was breathing in water. I couldn’t help it.”

“Okay. Now that’s a different thing.” His gaze was serious, he sounded much more assured. “What you experienced is called cold shock response. That’s a physiological reaction to sudden immersion. It’s not unique to you. It could happen to anyone. Hell, it could happen to me, under the right circumstances. In that kind of situation, you—your body—reacts with an initial cold water gasp. It’s automatic, instinctive. It’s a reflex. You try to suck in a huge gulp of air, but of course what you get is water, not air, and you panic and start to hyperventilate. That’s what happened in the Seine. It didn’t have anything to do with a-an inherent inability to swim.”

I frowned, thinking that over.

He said, “Drowning is a combination of suffocation and cardiac arrest.”

I shuddered.

John squeezed my shoulders, guiding me toward the steps at the head of the pool. Let’s just sit down and talk it out. Okay? You don’t want to be so afraid you can’t dangle your legs in the water on a hot day.”

“The lounge chairs are close enough. And more comfortable.”

He ignored that. “And you like baths, don’t you?”

“No. I don’t like baths,” I said shortly. The sunken tub in our master bathroom was strictly for John, whether he knew it or not.

He considered, said casually, “No? I bet you’d like taking a bath with me. A little champagne, a few candles, maybe some bubbles?”

I swallowed, because…yes, I did kind of like the sound of that. I made an unimpressed hmmpf, which didn’t fool him because his arm tightened briefly around my shoulders.

We stepped into the shallow end of the pool, seating ourselves on the wide first step. The water was tepid, lapping gently around our shins.

“Okay?”

I made a face because it was embarrassing to be so stupid. And I was stupid. My heart was hammering as if we were sitting on the edge of a boat in the middle of the ocean, as if I was in imminent danger, when in fact the biggest danger was burning my bare feet on the hot planks of the deck.

“The pool’s heated,” I said.

“Yep. No cold water shocks for you, sweetheart.”

I made a face.

John got down to business. “Now pay attention. We’ve got the steps here. We’ve got a Baja shelf all around the deep end, and metal ladder steps at the midway point. If you can swim even a couple of strokes, you can get yourself safely out of this pool.”

I sucked in a breath, nodded.

“And that’s all I’m asking. Let me show you just enough so if you were to fall in, say, during a barbecue or a pool party, you could paddle to the side and climb out.”

I swallowed.

John said, “You might even find you kind of like the water.”

“No.”

“Or maybe not. But, Cos, you didn’t fall into the Seine. Not being able to swim is a vulnerability, but a greater vulnerability is being this fearful.”

I rested my face in my hands, breathing in the smell of salt water and chlorine. “I know.”

He pulled me over to him, so that my face rested in the curve of his neck and shoulder. He said against my ear, “I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I promise.”

I nodded. I knew what he was saying—and what he wasn’t saying. I drew away from him, turned my face. He gently squeezed the back of my neck, stroked my back, waiting.

As I stared at the blue and green squares of “moonbeam” tile, I suddenly noted a break in the pattern. Every few squares, there was a silvery blue tile with a five-point star design. I scooted away from John to peer more closely at the nearest silver tile.

Yes. It was a star.

I looked back at him. “I didn’t know you changed the border design.” Granted, I had not been paying much attention to anything connected with the pool. I had hoped until the moment the bulldozer appeared that it wouldn’t really happen.

 “Yes. I don’t know what stars mean to you, but I know they mean something. I want you to feel safe.” John’s smile was wry. “By land or by sea.”

I sloshed back over to him, rested my head on his shoulder once more. Resigned to, but hoping to stall a bit longer, on these bedamned swimming lessons.

I sighed.

“You’ll see,” John said softly. “It’s not going to be nearly as bad as you think.”

I made a disapproving huff.

I felt his smile against my face.

He added—and my eyes popped wide open as the words sank in, “And then we can think about driving lessons.”

 

 

 

 ----------------------------------

While I'm thinking of it, you can still get Bell, Book and Scandal at the preorder price. The book goes live on the 30th.

 


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Five Things I Can't Believe Authors Still Do

 


Writing is a business that can make you crazy. I say this as someone who has been earning her living writing for nearly twenty years. It's important to point that out, because I was trying to earn a living for about FORTY years. You see my point?

Anyway, as you can imagine, both writing and publishing have changed a lot--A LOT--since I first banged out my first novel on my dad's manual typewriter. 

But some things, unfortunately, remain universal. And they are as ineffective today as they ever were. Let's take a look.


1 - Ignoring publisher guidelines. Worse, explaining to editors in detail why you are ignoring their guidelines, why your work transcends their guidelines, why they should never have come up with these guidelines in the first place.


2 - Sending nasty letters to...anyone. Starting with the editor who declined to acquire your work because they didn't believe it was a good match for their list (i.e., they don't think it will sell) to berating reviewers who didn't like your last book. I'm not saying that the editor was right or that the reviewer was right. I'm saying sending hate mail gets you NOTHING and NOWHERE. 

(And at the very least, wait to build your bridges before you burn them.) 


3 - Writing your own reviews. OH. And writing bad reviews of authors you view as rivals. Just. Don't. It's pathetic. Truly.


4 - Mistaking advertising claims for career advice. For heaven's sake. If someone is making a living selling you HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR products rather than being a successful author themselves, you need to view their messaging with a critical eye. I'm not saying the products can't be useful to you or there's no good advice to be had from these folks--I take some of these courses too, and they're full of great advice--but use your common sense. If it's that easy to get rich writing, why aren't these people writing? Why do they prefer selling YOU their Secrets To Success plans? 


5 - Writing what you think will sell rather than what you'd love to read. It's not one or the other. Assuming: A - you're writing your own books, and B - you want to write fiction for a living, you have to balance what you love with what will sell. Yes, there will be compromises along the way. That is how commercial art works. Writing is difficult. It is one of the most difficult art forms because it requires such sustained effort. If you don't love what you're writing, then it's just a job--and not one of the better paid ones.


I hope someone out there finds this helpful information. But knowing writers as well as I do, probably not. :-D 

 

Friday, February 26, 2021

New Release - MYSTERY AT THE MASQUERADE


AVAILABLE NOW (long story) THROUGH AMAZON AND SMASHWORDS. All other sites are still Sunday. 


BLURB:

Love is in the Salt Sea Air—and So is Murder!


Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, the Crow’s Nest, is both flattered and bemused when he’s invited to the annual Marauder’s Masquerade, the best and biggest social event of the season in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove, Rhode Island. The event is hosted by the wealthy Marguerite Bloodworth-Ainsley, a descendant of the famed pirate Tom Blood.


Ellery doesn’t even know Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley—nor, it turns out, does Mrs. Bloodworth-Ainsley know him. But Marguerite’s son, Julian, wants to know Ellery. Julian, handsome, rich, and engaging, is a huge mystery buff. In fact, he’s bought quite a few books at the Crow’s Nest bookstore, but never quite worked up the nerve to ask Ellery out.


As his relationship with Police Chief Carson seems to be dead in the water, Ellery is grateful for a little flattering attention from the village’s most eligible bachelor, but any hopes of romance hit the shoals when Julian is accused of murdering his mother’s unlikable second husband during the Masquerade’s annual ghost hunt in the family’s spooky cemetery.


EXCERPT


Julian wrapped his arm around Ellery’s shoulders and gave him a quick hug. He whispered, “You want to see the family crypt?”

Ellery laughed. As romantic invitations went, Julian could afford to brush up on his technique. “Um, well… Don’t you want to look for some ghosts?”

“We can look up there.” Julian pointed to the small marble structure atop the hillock. “There’s a bench with a perfect view of the cove. If Captain Blood should decide to make an appearance tonight, we’ll have a front row view.”

“Wouldn’t that mean someone in the Bloodworth clan has to die?”

Julian said bleakly, “I can think of someone I wouldn’t mind not seeing at breakfast tomorrow. Not that he’s ever up for breakfast.”

Ellery had no response to that, and he didn’t resist the gentle tug Julian gave him.

They wandered through the headstones, not speaking. Julian seemed to know his way even in the dark. That wasn’t exactly amazing. Not only was his family buried here, he had probably played in the old cemetery growing up. Kids would find it a cool place, with all the old statues of marble angels and robed mourners and tall stone crosses.

“What’s that?” someone called from a few yards away.

“Where?”

“Over there. I see a figure.”

“It’s just the mist.”

“No. No, look. It’s a figure. By that stone coffin. It’s moving. It’s trying to hide!”

Ellery began, “I think they mean us—”

But his words were cut off as Julian kissed him.

It wasn’t totally a surprise. He could hardly have missed Julian’s continued efforts to position himself, the octopusian meanderings of his arm, the way he leaned in and out as he tried to decide between whispering sweet nothings or just going for it. Inevitably, he was going to go for it, and Ellery was okay with that. They were in a pretty good place for it, sheltered as they were between a stalwart bronze of one of Pirate Cove’s founding fathers and a narrow tomb about the size of a small toolshed.

Ellery liked Julian and found him attractive, but he had pretty much already made up his mind that Julian was not for him. The last half hour of wandering through the graveyard while Julian made cryptic pronouncements had cemented his feelings.

However, he was curious, so he let Julian kiss him—and he kissed Julian back.

It was nice. A sweet kiss. Julian was eager but tentative, and even when he got encouragement, he was very gentle, maybe a little shy. There was nothing not to like in that warm, diffident press of mouth to mouth.

“I can’t believe you’re really here,” Julian whispered when their lips parted.

Which, frankly, neither could Ellery. Not that he hadn’t done plenty of kissing in graveyards—those scenes were a staple of the Happy Halloween! You’re Dead flicks—but it was definitely different with lights and reflectors and cameras and crew.

He opened his mouth to say something tactful when, just like in the Happy Halloween! You’re Dead movies, a figure seemed to materialize from the shadows. However, unlike in the movies, it was not a vengeful ghost or an ax-wielding maniac. Oh no, it was much worse.

It was Jack.






STILL AVAILABLE AT THE PREORDER PRICE 






Friday, February 19, 2021

MYSTERY AT THE MASQUERADE playlist

 


To be honest, mostly what I listened to while writing this one were seascape sounds--and rain. Lots of rain and lots of surf. 

But during the editorial process, yes, I do listen to a lot of music, including (this may strike some as a peculiar choice, but there you go) folk music and sea chanteys. 

Anyway, for your listening pleasure. 








There for You - Martin Garrix and Troye Sivan

Hard Times in the Mill - Pete Seeger

Every Ending is a Chance - Claire Wyndham

Falling - Harry Styles

Dangerously - Charlie Puth

Before You Go - Lewis Capaldi

My Jolly Sailor Bold - Ashley Serena

Fools - Troye Sivan

The Jeannie C. - Stan Rogers

What's Next Has Come - Claire Wyndham

Waste it on Me - Steve Aoki (AND BTS)

Heat Waves - Glass Animals

Since We're Alone - Niall Horan

 



Oh, and yes, the book is DONE. And I love it. There's just something about these characters. It's hard to explain because they're...the characters and their stories are gentle in a way my other stuff isn't. Well, maybe my Christmas stories. My Christmas stories have toasty little marshmallow hearts. ;-) My mysteries, not so much. Not usually.