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. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Five Things I Look for in a Mystery-Romance

 


Valentine's Day is Sunday, so I thought I'd do a little post on what I look for in Mystery-Romance. Because we're all readers, even those of us who are also writers. 


So here's a bit of backstory. I'll admit right off the bat that it took me a really, really long time to settle down, and by the time I did finally marry I was, well...experienced. In the ways of the heart.  Or so I thought. In fact, I'd pretty well run the gamut of romantic tropes: enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, blind date, office romance, secret admirer, partners who were too young for me, partners who were too old for me, light, happy flirtations and passion bordering on obsession. 


I pretty much thought I knew all there was to know about love and relationships.


And then I got married.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA


You know that old Judy Collins song?


I've looked at love from both sides now

From give and take and still somehow

It's love's illusions that I recall

I really don't know love

Really don't know love at all



Marriage changes everything, including, in my case, my taste in reading. So what I look for in a mystery-romance might not be what everyone looks for. It might not be what YOU look for. But, for better or worse, here are The Five Things I Look for in a Mystery-Romance--AND if you know some writers out there who can supply these five things, feel free to mention them in the comment section below.



1 - Setting. NO, HEAR ME OUT! 

You know, Hallmark is onto something with all those quaint and cute towns (all in Canada, according to the SO) where love lurks around every corner. But that's not what I'm talking about. Some settings are inherently unromantic: war zones, prisons, outer space. I'm not saying romance can't happen there--there are terrific love stories set in all those places--but it's not what I enjoy. I don't need a cozy setting, but I don't want a war zone either. 

I want the story to take place in believable and interesting surroundings--and bonus points if the setting is appealing. I like the setting to feel real because I have to believe in a world in order to lose myself in it. 


2 - Grown ups. 

I'm not talking physical age so much as emotional age. I wasn't ever a silly teenager. I was either "unusual" or "weird," depending on whether you liked me. So while I don't mind reading about twenty-year-olds, I want to read about twenty-year-olds I can identify with. Which is probably very few twenty-year-olds. This is a roundabout way of saying I CANNOT BEAR CHARACTERS WHO ACT LIKE EMOTIONAL ADOLESCENTS. 


I don't mind characters who make mistakes, make bad judgment calls, do stupid things--we ALL do stupid things, things we regret. (Especially under pressure.) But I don't want to read about people ruled by their emotions, unable to channel their emotions, unable to think about anything but their emotions. I'm not saying there aren't such people in the world, but I don't want to spend time with them. I do not want to read about a cop at a crime scene who is unable to focus on anything but how HAWT his new partner is. But that's just me.


     

3 - Communication. 

Since I'm a communicator by trade, I guess it's no surprise I like characters who communicate. But it goes beyond that, because how we communicate with others reveals who were are. 

Communication reveals a lot about our emotional maturity--but also it reveals a lot about how successful we're going to be (in a variety of areas). If you can't ask for what you want, you're not going to get it. If you can't make your case to someone, again, you're not going to get what you want. If you're a bully and a jerk, you might get what you want, but someone will spit in your cup. So... ?  It's my observation that most problems between people are communication problems. Even smart, articulate people have trouble communicating when ego or hurt feelings or pride gets in the way. So I like stories where communication--good or bad--plays a role. When a guy who has trouble saying what he feels, actually finally says what he feels? That melts your heart. When a guy who never cries, cries? That melts your heart. When a guy who always says what he feels, is too hurt to speak? That melts your heart. 

But you have to establish these communication patterns for these things to register. 

What I don't like in a story is when people (not necessarily the protags) fail to communicate the obvious and necessary things. You know, the sheriff fails to mention the serial killer has been released earlier that day. OR impossibly stupid misunderstandings between lovers which I call BUT DARLING, SHE'S MY SISTER syndrome.



4 - Romantic gestures. 

*Sigh* We all love romantic gestures.


Romantic gestures are how you know things are moving along and people are falling in love. But what makes a gesture romantic really depends on the character. Flowers from a guy who sends everyone flowers, is lovely, but flowers from a guy who has never sent flowers? More romantic. Flowers to a guy who has never received flowers? More romantic. It all depends on the characters and their history. In some circumstances, Character B taking Character A's car to the shop to get his brakes checked can be super romantic. Especially if B previously cut A's brake lines. I'M KIDDING. 

Heck, switching dishes in a restaurant can be romantic. ;-) I love spotting those meaningful gestures in a story--and very often, the smaller and subtler, the more meaningful. I love to be surprised by one character doing something original and thoughtful. 


5 - A Good Mystery. 

It should be obvious, right? 

I am astonished by how often a Mystery-Romance is AT BEST romantic suspense (I do love good romantic suspense though--that's another post). Making your character a cop or a PI does not mean you've written a mystery. The cop or PI would have to actually SOLVE an intriguing crime through detective work for the story to qualify as a mystery. 

If I buy a book based on the promise that it will have mystery and romance, I EXPECT mystery and romance. I will disappointed if the book does not contain these things. I'm not saying the mystery has to confound me, but it has to keep me interested and entertained. Once you've seen and read as much crime fiction as I have, it's no longer about who the culprit is, it's how fun can the author make this game.




Anyway, that's my want list. Who can you recommend?  

By the way, the SO tells me we are celebrating our FOURTEENTH wedding anniversary this month. So maybe I do know love a little. ;-)  



Friday, February 5, 2021

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to My New Book Release

 


For years and years and years (and probably years) I've been saying I wanted to come up with a sane and healthy work schedule. To find that balance between creativity and productivity--which are not always the same thing.

And year after year I have failed to do that. Which has resulted in burnout (TWICE! YIKES) and a reputation for missing deadlines (which once would have been flipping unthinkable). 

And still I couldn't seem to figure out a way to...well, get everything done and still have time for anything resembling a normal life.  In fact, never mind the "time for anything resembling a normal life," because that wasn't even a consideration. Basically I couldn't seem to figure out how to get everything done. Because when you're running a publishing empire by your lonesome there is a LOT OF EVERYTHING that has to be dealt with. 

It's not that I didn't have help. God bless all my moderator-friends (they're pretty much the only reason I still have a presence on social media). And I did periodically have help from a succession of "Eves." The Evies were great but A - I really need someone onsite for at least part of the time and B - I'm a total control freak and it's very hard to ever let anything out of my hands, oh and C - The old trap of I-Don't-Have-Time-To-Teach-You-All-This-It's-Faster-If-I-Do-It-Myself. 

I had two speeds: panic and crashing. Unsurprisingly, I started to get sick. A lot. I'm sure it didn't help that as my stress and anxiety mounted, I became increasingly terrible about my eating habits and my exercise. 

I'm honestly not sure how this would have ended if it had not been for the pandemic. 

The pandemic (and escalating anxiety about the election) triggered--well, honestly, I'm not even sure because I was already heading for burnout. But basically I couldn't write for ten months. I did manage toward the end to complete a short story, and that was a great sign. That was a sign I was coming out of it, and thank God for that. 

(And yes, thank God that between my dear Patrons and my backlist, I was still able to support us even while not being able to support us--our health insurance alone is over $2000. a month. ) 

I'm not saying the pandemic was a good thing or that I'm happy about it, but it did force me to reevaluate, and I'm trying very hard to be conscientious about well, eating properly and working out even when I can't swim and creating a reasonable work schedule. I'm currently trying to take weekends off. I feel guilty as hell about it, but I think it's one reason I'm loving writing Mystery at the Masquerade so much. And I am! I'm now in the final third of the book, it will come out this month, and I LOVE it. I think it's the best of the three so far.

OH. I have to digress. I received a nastygram from a reader this week complaining that he was tired of waiting for Mystery at the Masquerade and I shall darken his bookshelf no more. And of course I wrote and tried to apologize and explain--you know, I hate that I have missed so many deadlines that I've now become notorious; this is not something I'm happy about or okay with, I know it's a problem, which is why I'm trying hard to create a realistic work schedule. Anyway, after I emailed him I realized WHAT THE HELL the book was originally scheduled for May 2021 and I'm trying to push it FORWARD. :-D :-D :-D  I mean, it's bad enough without yelling at me for the books that AREN'T late. This one is coming in nearly three months early. :-D

Anyway. 

The other helpful thing happening in my life is I have a new Eve, and it's a match made in heaven (She's my niece and she's taking a break from college.) So I have a new schedule, a new diet (Yes! We're learning to "eat clean" which is...hard BUT we're already seeing the benefits) and help. I HAVE HELP. And I'm even trying to take advantage of that. 

So this is a long and winding way of explaining that I know there has been a problem with my book releases--I own it--and I'm doing my best to fix it. But more to the point, I'm happier and healthier than I have been in literally years, which is a terrific way to start 2021. I even created an Inspiration Board, so what does THAT tell you? ;-) 





Friday, January 29, 2021

Fatal Shadows The Collector's Edition (Cover Reveal)

 I've been getting questions about whatever happened to Fatal Shadows The Collector's Edition.

So, if you don't know, I had hoped to release a special hardcover print edition of Fatal Shadows to celebrate its 20th Anniversary. My dear pal Dal Maclean wrote the Introduction and my dear pal Nicole Kimberling wrote the Afterword and I commissioned six original pieces of artwork to illustrate. All the AE codas and interviews are included.

SO WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?!

Well, the artwork ended up taking a bit longer to complete and we missed the initial deadline. THEN, since we had already blown past the deadline, I had the brilliant idea of doing one final coda for Adrien and Jake to finish off the collection.

Which I still think is a good idea and I still want to do, but in the meantime I'm now immersed in Mystery at the Masquerade, so I'm trying to save a little window between finishing Masquerade and restarting Bell, Book and Scandal to do ALL THE THINGS including finishing the coda for the collector's edition. 

It's still happening! I promise. 

In the meantime, how's about a little cover reveal? The cover artwork is by Unmeiartist.





 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Happy THIRD Anniversary to my Patrons!

 I was so surprised to see we've reached the THREE-YEAR MILESTONE! 

Wow.

(Thank you so much for your support. I'm not sure I could have done this last year without you.)





Friday, January 15, 2021

Aaaaaaaand we're off!!!

 


Hm. Maybe I should have added AND RUNNING! :-D 

But yes, it's a whole new year, a whole new world, and I am feeling alarmingly hopeful. 

But seriously, I do feel different. Of course part of that is the clear mandate of both the presidential election and the Georgia runoff. Part of it is (and this is kind of sad) I'm just getting used to living in a pandemic and a country teetering on the brink of slipping into Fascism. 

Hey. So it's true. You really CAN get used to anything.

I have a lot planned for this year. And I'll be the first to admit that I may (as is my wont) be overly optimistic about what I can achieve in these twelve tiny months. I'm not immune to what happens in the world around me. Like most of the country--most of the world--I was glued to my television set last week while we watched insurrection happening in real time. Needless to say, not a lot of writing happened. Impeachment? Another distraction. Necessary, sure. But not good for the creative process.

So I'm excited and energized and I'm setting stretch goals for myself. Which means I might be shooting for the moon. We'll see. 

YES, I REGRET SETTING UP ALL THOSE PREORDERS. BUT THEY'RE UP AND THERE'S NO GOING BACK. OKAY? I KNOW. I ALREADY KNOW.

So first up is Mystery at the Masquerade. Why the switcheroo with BB&S? I felt I needed something easy and light to begin with. I mean, I haven't really written--other than managing to complete one little short story--in almost a year (ten months) so I felt like I needed an easy win before I tackled Bell, Book and Scandal. 

If I can hit both of those targets, I'll feel a lot more confident of tackling the rest of the year. If I slip on either of those, well, I still might pull manage to pull off most of the year, but it's going to be more slippery, more fraught with peril. 

Usually at this point I'd list what I have in mind for the year, but like I said, I'm optimistic but also cautious. The last couple of years have been BRUTAL on my productivity and ability to hit deadlines. So we'll see. 

Take this list as more of a My Publishing Hopes and Dreams than my hard and fast schedule for the year. 

Mystery at the Masquerade

Bell, Book and Scandal

Scandal at the Salty Dog


Body at Buccaneer Bay

The 12.2% Per-Cent Solution

Murder is Served

The Movie-Town Murders

Mr. and Mrs. Murder 


Anyway, that's it. That's the plan. Let's hope life cooperates this year.