Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Mystery of Hallmark's Movies and Mysteries Programming

 


I was trying to figure out what in the blue blazes happened to Hallmark Movies and Mysteries handsdown best series Mystery 101, when I stumbled on this little gem of an article at Giant Freaking Robot wherein I learned that Hallmark is locked in mortal combat with something called Great American Media. 

Just the name alone, right? CLUE.

You can read the article for the full details, but one little nugget I gleaned is that some blame Hallmark's struggles for audience share on all that wild and crazy diversity Hallmark is shoving down everyone's throats. 

Which... HUH? I guess they mean there are a couple of shows with African American leads and a couple of holiday movies with...GULP...g-g-gay people? 

For example, Bill Abbott, the departing CEO of Crown Media Family (which owns the Hallmark Channel) AND an outspoken opponent of  "diversity and inclusion initiatives," shared his concern that they (diversity and inclusion???)  will change the tone of a channel where once, viewers could expect light-hearted fun without having to consider “dark situations, violence, sexual situations, things that just…create anxiety," says Abbott. His goals for Great American Media involve the integrity of its stars and heartwarming stories.

Take a moment to unpack all that and then consider the quaint notion that gay people are somehow not compatible with Faith, Family, and Country or lighthearted fun and heartwarming content.

For HEAVEN'S SAKE. And I do mean that literally. What is the MATTER with you weirdos? 

Why on earth would stories about LGBTQ people have to be dark, violent and sexual? Do you think maybe you're projecting a wee bit?

But I'm not even going to try and tackle that level of insanity. Instead, I'm going to point out the obvious to whoever is currently in charge of programming over at Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. Oh. Right. Michelle Vicary.

If you call your channel Movies and MYSTERIES, you obviously want to attract MYSTERY viewers. You know, viewers who like MYSTERIES. And who have probably ALREADY seen all the episodes of Monk, Murder, She Wrote, Diagnosis Murder and Hart to Hart like a BILLION times. That's not fresh content, nor do we need to turn to Hallmark to see old shows that are pretty much streamable on every content provider we have. 

NOR do your regular non-mystery viewers need to turn to the Movies and MYSTERIES channel to see the same schmaltzy content they can see on all your other channels.

Do you understand what I'm saying, Michelle? Viewers like me tune into Movies and MYSTERIES because we're hoping to see more MYSTERIES. Not just mysteries, mysteries with that peculiarly cozy comforting Hallmark vibe. The Faith, Family, Country vibe that--dare I say it?--is not the exclusive property of straight, white, right-wingers who create their content mostly in CANADA.

Do I wish you had a cozy mystery series or two that featured LGBTQ protags? I sure do. But at this point I'd be thrilled if you had ANY mysteries featuring ANY credible protags. I want to scream every time another of those month-long Christmas in Another Inappropriate Month extravaganzas start. 


You had some charming little mystery shows with devoted followings: Mystery 101, the Martha's Vineyard mysteries, the Crossword Mysteries, and even Ruby Herring (she was growing on me!). 

Personally, I think Aurora Teagarden and Hannah Swenson--as much as I enjoyed them both--have run their course, so oh well.

And then there were the so-so offerings. They tried. You tried. I respect that. 

What I don't respect, let alone understand, is yanking shows that were just getting their footing, finding their audience, bringing in the views and market share you desperately need. That's not how the mystery world works! That's not how you win a mystery reading-viewing audience. Mysteries are more cerebral than romance. You have to win our minds as well as our hearts. It takes time. It takes more than beloved Aunt Joan dying in a freak logging accident and leaving spunky Samantha a Christmas Tree farm and a cranky but hunky (widowed-with-one-adorable-poppet) head lumber jack who's forgotten the meaning of Christmas.

I'll be frank. I think you lost your nerve. I see a new crop of not-very-promising contenders. Maybe Francesca Quinn, PI. Maybe. But I'm afraid to get my hopes up. I'm afraid to commit to any of your new shows because you broke that most sacred covenant. You commited the worst crime you can against a mystery reader: you cancelled mid-series. ON A CLIFF HANGER. 



P.S. Signed, Sealed, and Delivered is NOT a mystery.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Now Available! HIDE AND SEEK in Audio

 


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

Worse, one of the first messages on the shop’s answering machine is from Marcus, Andy’s ex, demanding to know Andy’s whereabouts.

Nor does the bad news stop there. It seems whoever broke into Time in a Bottle is still looking for that mysterious whatever. Something they didn’t find the first time. Something they now believe Andy has.

Something worth killing for?

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

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

But Quinn has a few secrets of his own…


NOW ON AUDIBLE

Friday, September 16, 2022

Cozy Mystery Giveaway!

 If you're a lover of cozy mysteries, you're probably well aware that 99.9% of cozies feature female protagonists. Unlike NO sex, NO swearing, or NO on-screen violence, that's not a rule or anything; it's just how it shakes out. 

That said, there are a handful of cozies (typically gay and occasionally referred to as "quozies") which do feature male protagonists. My own Secrets and Scrabble series, for one. SC Wynne's Kip O'Connor series. In mainstream we have Rob Osler's Devil's Chew Toy. Come to think of it, Dean James' may have started us out with his charming Simon Kirby-Jones gay vampire series, back in the day.

ANYWAY. That was a needlessly long intro to the fact that I'm taking part in a cozy mystery giveaway featuring cozies with male protagonists (a sprinkling of LGBTQ, but mostly not) which you can sample by CLICKING THIS LINK. 




Friday, September 9, 2022

What I Did on My Summer Vacation - 2022

 


Other than nearly slicing my thumb off Tuesday night (ugh, don't ask) all is well in the land of Lanyon.

Unlike last year, this summer has been both creative and productive and, better still, pretty much drama-free. I completed The Movie-Town Murders, Death at the Deep Dive, and Hide and Seek

The sibs and I are rehearsing and performing again--and batting around the idea of producing an eighth album. 

I've got lots of audio coming, new translations, etc.

Currently, I'm working on Puzzle for Two (for Patreon) and Lament at Loon Landing (Secrets and Scrabble 6) with no hard ETA on either. 

That's pretty much the update. I KNOW. THRILLING STUFF. :-D

My social media presence is pretty minimal right now. I guess I'm choosing to be present in real life as opposed to the virtual space where I spent the last twenty years? These last precious days of summer are being spent on swimming, gardening, experimenting with cocktails (hey, someone's gotta do it) playing with the pups, reading a little, writing a lot, and watching a fair bit of TV (I'm probably consuming more news than I should, but the midterms are coming and I want to brace myself). I got my first hair cut in three years and my first facial in six months. 

We've had houseguests and family get-togethers. Life is returning to normal. This weekend we're getting our next booster shot.

The new normal. 

You really can't ask for more than that. Yes, everything is different now. The pandemic years changed... everything. Changed me. But I'm happy and I'm more creative (and more productive) than I've been in years, so it's all good.

And what did you do on your summer vacation? 


Friday, September 2, 2022

Five Things I Love Right Now

Five Things I Love Right Now


1 - Vocal practice - 

There's something really satisfying about stretching for and cleanly hitting those difficult upper and lower register notes. It's taken some work getting my range back after just about three years of not singing. Not just not performing, but not singing at all. 


2 - Beauty crime bloggers -

What a weird-ass combo. And yet there's something peculiarly relaxing about listening to someone discuss ghastly murder while they expertly apply makeup. 

Side note: One of the funniest things is listening to other YouTube crime vloggers bitch/criticize the beauty crime vloggers as "frivolous" or of "trivializing tragedy" or "turning murder into entertainment." Uh...yes. Because that's what YOU ALL DO. While it's true that citizen sleuths are a thing, anyone posting on YouTube is doing it for entertainment purposes. In the same way that Dateline is as much entertainment as journalism.




3 - Felix the Cat -

Everything I know about life I learned from Felix. 

 




4 - Discretion

Are there any two more boring words in the English language than TELL ALL? 


5 - WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

I haven't laughed this hard in centu--er, years.





 

Monday, August 15, 2022

DEATH AT THE DEEP DIVE: Secrets and Scrabble 7


Death at the Deep Dive: Secrets and Scrabble 7
is now available (I think) everywhere. 

Yes, I released Book 7 before Book 6. If you missed my weeks of explanation on various platforms, I'll explain again. 

 I was writing both books at the same time--and enjoying myself very much--when I realized that, as creatively satisfying as that method was, I was in danger of missing another deadline and losing preorders for Death at the Deep Dive. Which, for obvious reasons, I did not want to do. So I moved Death at the Deep Dive up, pushed Lament for Loon Landing back, and that's how we ended up where we are today. 

The good news is a lot of you still got the book at the preorder price! YAY.

There is no bad news. Lament at Loon Landing is coming probably at the end of September. The mystery in each book is COMPLETELY separate. There is no overlap. There is a plot point--a turning point--for the emotional lives and relationships of the characters, in this installment. So if you're reading for the mystery, there should be no problem. If you're reading for the relationship, maybe this would bother you? It wouldn't bother me, but if you think it's going to be an issue, hold off reading until Lament at Loon Landing comes out. 

Personally, I think this is the best of the series so far (previously, my favorite was Mystery at the Masquerade). 

The print version is coming momentarily. The audio is scheduled-ish for December.

BLURB:

We only see the things on the surface…

 

When Pirate Cove’s favorite mystery bookstore owner and sometimes-amateur sleuth Ellery Page discovers a vintage diving collection bag full of antique gold coins tucked away for safe-keeping in the stockroom of the Crow’s Nest, it sets off a series of increasingly dangerous events, culminating in murder.

 


 EXCERPT:

“Cheers,” Jack said.

“Yo ho ho,” Ellery replied. He sipped his cobalt cocktail. “Mm.” The tart sweetness of the cocktail and the crackling warmth of the nearby fireplace were the perfect pairing for a chilly autumn night. He felt like he’d been waiting to exhale ever since dumping those coins on his desk. “I have to say I’m very relieved you-know-what is you-know-where. The thought that it was just lying there in that cupboard all this time makes me feel a little queasy.”

“Any chance that it wasn’t in the cupboard the whole time? I thought Felix said he left it out on a storage shelf.”

Felix Jones, Libby Tulley’s boyfriend and the son of Pirate Cove’s previous mayor, had pitched in for a short time at the Crow’s Nest while Ellery had been convalescing.

“He must have been mistaken. It was his last day at work and his last day on the island, so it’s no wonder if he was distracted. When I asked him, he barely remembered Cap giving him the bag.”

Jack made a noncommittal noise and sipped his beer.

“Whoever broke in would have to have been in a hurry.” 


Jack conceded, “The assumption would be you had looked in the bag and so it was unlikely to have been left in the shop at all.”

“Exactly!”

Jack studied Ellery for a moment. His smile twisted. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First off, there’s no proof the collection bag you found belonged to Vernon Shandy. The assumption is the deep dive suit was his, but there are plenty of other divers on this island. No one knows for a fact who hid that suit in the warehouse with the Historical Society’s collection. Or for what reason.”

“To hide those coins,” Ellery said.

Jack shook his head. “That’s an assumption.”

“It’s a working theory. And it’s the most logical.”

“Maybe. But let’s say you’re right. Let’s go with your theory that the suit belonged to the Shandys and that the suit was stashed away to hide the coins.”

“Doubloons.”

Jack laughed. “You really do love the idea of pirate’s treasure, don’t you? If your eyes were any shinier, they’d be glowing.”

Ellery laughed and sat back in his chair. He shrugged. “Okay, yes. I do love the idea of pirate’s treasure.”

“Especially pirate’s treasure with a mystery attached.”

Ellery couldn’t help pointing out, “Wouldn’t all pirates’ treasures have a certain amount of mystery attached?”

“Hm. Good point. But here’s what I was getting at. Even if we go with your theory about who owned the collection bag and why it was concealed, it still doesn’t prove those coins came from the Blood Red Rose.”

Ah. Okay. You’re right.”

“There are a lot of wrecks in the waters around this island.”

“True. I’ll give you that one.”

Jack laughed. “Thank you. And finally, even if your theories are correct about who owned the diving suit and collection bag, where the coins came from, and why they were hidden in the Historical Society’s collection, there’s still no proof that Vernon Shandy was murdered.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Ellery objected. “Something happened to him.”

“Something, yes. One way or the other, he left the island. That’s for sure. But the surrounding circumstances are unknown.” As Ellery opened his mouth to debate this, Jack continued, “And there are plenty of reasons the Shandys might want to conceal those circumstances.”


Tom returned to the table, bearing platters of golden deep-fried fish, crispy french fries, and tangy coleslaw. He set the sizzling plates before them. “Another round?”

Jack asked Ellery, “Are you driving back to Captain’s Seat or staying over?”

There had been a time, not so long ago, when Jack would not have so casually or so openly asked that question.

Ellery smiled. “If Watson and I haven’t worn out our welcome?”

Jack gave him the slightest of winks and said to Tom, “Another round, thanks.” He added to Ellery, “We can always walk home.”

Tom gave Ellery a droll look. “Coming right up!”

Tom departed, Ellery and Jack reached for the salt and pepper shakers, exchanged the vinegar bottle, repositioned the little jars of tartar sauce.

Jack broke off a piece of fried cod and said, as though there had been no interruption, “I’m not trying to bust your balloon. Obviously, there’s an element of mystery surrounding these events. It just doesn’t automatically, inevitably indicate murder.”

“Well, no, of course not.” Ellery chewed thoughtfully on a french fry.

Jack observed him for a moment. “Which isn’t going to stop you from poking your nose into other people’s business and asking a lot of awkward questions, is it?”

Ellery’s brows shot up in surprise. “Me? Come on, Jack, whatever happened to Vernon Shandy is none of my business. Anyway, even if something sinister did occur, it was over half a century ago. Nobody’s going to remember anything this long after the fact. Assuming anyone involved is still around. Which is unlikely. Right?”

Jack sighed, shook his head. “That’s what I thought.”

 

Friday, August 12, 2022

A Conversation with Aki Fuyuto and Yooichi Kadono

 


One of the most validating things that can happen to a writer is when their work gets picked up for translation. As much as we'd all like to believe our work is "universal," the only actual proof you have that that might be even a little true is when a publisher in another country is willing to invest in your writing-- believes that their audience will enjoy your stories and be able to relate to your characters enough to actually make their investment a reasonable business decision.

There are practical aspects to having your work translated, as well, of course. First off, we're all always seeking ways to expand our audience, Secondly, that passive income stream can occasionally be a lifesaver. Which is why I warn against blithely handing over your translation rights when you sign with a publisher. Just because no one is interesting in translating you now doesn't mean that will always be the case. The global market is booming. Which means so is the translation market.

My work's been translated into a number of languages at this point, and I still love seeing the translated covers and hearing from fans who've only (or mostly) read me in their native language. Their comments and questions are particularly interesting, framed as they are by cultural differences.

Anyway, my Japanese translations are some of my very favorites. Partly that has to do with how engaged the Japanese readership is, partly it has to do with the fact that (the publisher) Shinshokan has been really good to work with--I feel like over the years my translator has become a friend--and partly it has to do with the fact that these translations are illustrated. Because of the wonderful art, a surprising number of my readers who don't speak Japanese have gone ahead and bought the translations! (So...kind of genuis on the part of the publisher. ;-))

Because I'm asked so often about the translation process (by other writers, yes, but also by readers), I thought it would be interesting to "interview" translator Aki Fuyuto and artist Yooichi Kadono (who, among other works, does the illustrations on the Art of Murder series).  


******

Hello to Josh and the readers of this blog! We are excited to get a chance to talk about ourselves here.
For those who wonder who we are, here is some information about ourselves.

Aki Fuyuto: a translator, mainly working on M/M romances with Monochrome Romance label, a sub label of Shinshokan. My first work as a translator was Josh's 'Icecapade.'
https://shinshokan.com/monochrome/

Yooichi Kadono: an illustrator. Worked in the film industry, which led to painting. With an offer from an editor in Shinshokan, started as an illustrator. My first work as an illustrator was Josh's 'The Case of Christmas.'
https://twitter.com/kadonoyoo


JL - Are you able to choose your own projects or are they assigned to you? If you're able to choose, what attracts you to a particular work? What do you look for? And if you're not able to choose, then what do you find especially satisfying in a work?

Aki Fuyuto: Yes, I can. I make a short list of M/M romance to translate for the publisher and decide with them which one is to be next.
What attracts me is difficult to put into words, but I like the intensity between two people and love to watch it turn their lives upside down, so savagely.

JL - That's it, isn't it? Love is a disrupter and a catalyst for change. It's not always positive--although in our stories it is.

Yooichi Kadono: I don't choose the project. I'll do it if an offer comes, unless I have other things already scheduled. I love to experience the new and unknown. I don't know much about 'satisfaction' in a work, um.

JL - :-D :-D :-D 


JL- What advice do you have for others wishing to enter your fields?    



Fuyuto: Love languages, dictionaries, and Google Search. Sometimes the latter two deceive you, so don't trust them, just be pals with them!

JL - Yes, more than once, Google Search has broken my heart. ;-D

Kadono: Most crucial thing is staying healthy. Even in the busiest time, you have to take good care of yourself.

JL - I think artists in general have trouble remembering this.


Questions for Aki Fuyuto


JL - My feeling is translation is a greatly under-appreciated art. How did you become interested in this line of work? Do you also write original fiction?

AF - I was always interested in translation work as a reader. It's fascinating to get a glimpse through the "window" between two languages.
But becoming a translator... kind of just happened. When my editor contacted me, I was merely an active M/M romance reader and reviewer. After giving some advice about the M/M genre, like which books were popular, I got a chance to translate one of them, so I went for it, thinking it's now or never.
I used to write some fan-fiction and original fiction, though not since starting as a translator. There is just no time. Maybe one day?

JL - That's so interesting! I had no idea. I think this is inspiring for other aspiring translators to read.


JL - What would you say is the greatest challenge in your work? For example I think humor must be especially tricky to translate.

AF - Oh, humor and jokes are always the most difficult ones! When a character says "no pun intended," I want to mutter "SO WHY YOU SAID THAT?" so many times, haha.

JL - *whistling and looking skyward*

AF - Sometimes a word or words contain cultural backgrounds, like history or common knowledge which is not so common here, it gives me a massive headache.

JL - I'm assuming that translation is a fairly solitary occupation. Is that a plus or minus for you? Did you find it difficult to work during the first years of the pandemic?

AF - I think it's a plus for me, being not much of a social person. So staying home during the early pandemic was not so difficult for me as for some others. Though I miss the long train trip so much.

JL -  - What is your work day like? Do you work under tight deadlines?

AF - Usually, I work from noon to night after getting some household chores done.
Not with so tight deadlines, unless when the publishing date gets dangerously closer and closer.

JL - The deadlines do have a habit of sneaking up, knife in hand. ;-D


JL - What do you wish authors, readers, (really anyone) better understood about the work you do?

AF - Just be kind to a messenger, haha. Sometimes translators ask so trivially-seemed questions to authors, but please bear with us!

JL - For the record, I never mind the questions! My Chinese translators catch a lot of funny little inconsistencies in the AE series, which is amusing, but also mmakes me think HOW HAVE THESE BEEN MISSED ALL THESE YEARS? :-D

JL - Which is your favorite of our shared titles/series? And why?

AF - Adrien English Mysteries, though this is a tough question and I may choose other books if asked other days.
I first read AE Mysteries a little time after I found the M/M romance world so that I could enjoy reading as just a reader. The feeling I got while reading them is rich, intricate, and sometimes almost painful. That made this series so special for me and led me deeper into M/M romances.

JL - Those characters still live in my thoughts and imaginings.

JL - How do you refresh your creative energy? Where do you find inspiration?

AF - Playing with my 4-year-old cat, cooking challenging recipes, walking around with my camera, and watching sports on TV like tennis or marathon.
These days, I love going to figure skating shows!

JL - I love seeing the pictures of your cat! 

JL - What relationship advice would you give to Sam Kennedy and Jason West if you could talk to them? ;-D

AF - Wow, relationship advice to those two? I think it's beyond my capacity! LOL.

JL - EVIL LAUGHTER

AF - i have a joint answer with Kadono-san for this, so see below for our solution.

JL - Do you have advice for authors hoping to have their work translated into the Japanese language?

AF - Um, honestly, not much to give. The translation market in Japan is sadly not big, so it depends on the luck mostly to be picked. Just please make sure to put in your contact information if you self-publish! There is no guarantee, but I'm always seeking good M/M short stories, so give me a shout if you have a story under 15,000 words, I promise to get a look.



Questions for Yooichi Kadono


JL - I know Aki told you I'm a huge fan of your work. My niece is now also a great fan and so the first question comes from her. She'd like to know the artists you feel have most influenced your own work and also the artists you think most highly of.

YK - There are so many...though this two are very special for me, Tabata Kihachi III and Dries Van Noten.

Tabata Kihachi III, 三代 田畑喜八(1899−1956), was a textile-dyeing craftsman for luxury kimonos, and his book 'Flora sketches,' 三代 田畑喜八の草花図, is my favorite. His artistic flow feels so free and pleasant, so natural to me.


Seeing the collection of Dries Van Noten always inspires me. Especially, I love those collections in 1993, 2015,16, and 17.
His documentary film is also my favorite, I feel super recharged every time after watching it.

JL -  Do you select the scenes you illustrate or are those scenes chosen for you? If you choose the scenes, how do you make your choice? If the scenes are chosen for you, do you find that difficult?     

YK - The editor selects the scenes more often than not for me, though it depends on the case. It takes the same amount of effort, regardless of whether I select the scene or not.                            


JL - What is your work day like? Do you find that deadlines constrain your creativity?

YK - Getting out of bed at ten in the morning, working from noon after lunch, taking dinner at six in the evening, working again from seven, and going to bed at three. (Actually, I want to get up at five in the morning and sleep at 10 in the evening!)

Deadlines make me more concentrated, but I hate it when a shortage of time rushes me to decide on composition without thinking through it.

JL - Yes, deadlines have a way of doing that. ;-D And I agree.

JL - What do you find most challenging or difficult in your work?

YK - To materialize the image in my head, while the images are always so ahead of my hand. It’s the most challenging and frustrating thing.

JL - I was so excited to learn that you have two books out. Please tell us a little about those (include links!)

'MEN IN SUITS'
Many men in suites sketches!

'YOOICHI KADONO Sketches'
Simple sketches is the theme, I think...

JL - I have to interject here to say that I have both of these books and they are WONDERFUL. I highly recommend them!

JL - Which is your favorite of our shared titles/series? And why?

'Night Watch.' I cried a lot, to my surprise, when I read it the first time. It feels like Henry's words and actions helped me during that hard time.


The Art of Murder series is also my favorite!

JL - Of course I love all your work, but the art in that particular series is genuinely inspiring. I can't wait to see what you do with The Movie-Town Murders.

JL - I'm assuming that illustration, like translation (or just writing!) is a fairly solitary occupation. Is that a plus or minus for you? Did you find it difficult to work during the first years of the pandemic?

YK - It has a plus and a minus. The plus tops the minus very slightly, by a grain of sand, making the solitariness easier so I can get along with it.

I'm also an indoor person like Fuyuto-san, so it's not difficult to work during the pandemic years. However, my close one got Covid and was admitted to a hospital for a long time, I think the experience changed my perspective more than a little.

JL - I'm so sorry! I hope they're better now.

JL  -  What relationship advice would you give to Sam Kennedy and Jason West if you could talk to them? ;-D

Fuyuto: Wow...really?
Kadono: I don't think they will have an ear for the advice, especially from us. LOL.
Fuyuto: Their communication skills are dubious, to say the least.
Kadono: Though it seems they talk to each other pretty frankly on the phone...
Fuyuto: THAT'S IT.

So our relationship advice to them is that:
Talk to each other on the phone, even when they are face to face at the same place.

JL - LOL. I have to work it into the final book somehow. :-D


JL - I love and appreciate every artist who helps bring my stories to life, but something in your work particularly resonates with me. What do you consider your strengths as an artist? What are you always seeking to improve?

YK - Umm...I'm not sure how to answer this. My strength as an artist...may...be...endurance? Never giving up art?
The thing I'm trying to get is the basics. Sometimes I get back to the basics to learn again from there.


AF & YK - We want to ask you some questions too!

What do you think of translation, not a particular work but a whole idea of translation, as an author? (Fuyuto)

JL - I think I answered this a bit above, but I find it validating yet also humbling. One thing that is always on my mind is the concern that I'm representing these characters (who ultimately become symbolic) correctly. Not just the characters, but also U.S. culture and society. Portraying things fairly yet accurately (or as best I can given that my viewpoint is subjective and my experiences limited) without getting overly political. If that makes sense.


YK - Do you visit museums often? If so, can you tell me some encounters you remember well? What opinion do you have about the restoration of old artwork? (Kadono)

JL - I don't visit museums as much as I used to or would want to. I love all kinds of museums. The last large museum I went to was the Met in New York a few summers ago with a dear friend. That was wonderful. I could have stayed all day.  And then when the SO and I went to Montreal, I dragged him to just about every museum we came across. He's a huge fan of Tom Thomson , so we tried to find every exhibit we could. I also love little weird hole-in-the-wall museums! 

When it comes to art restoration, I want art to be protected and preserved. What I struggle with is when, for example, an earlier sketch or an an abandoned idea by the artist is discovered and then "restored." From my perspective, the artist's final vision is what matters and what must be preserved. Also, like Jason West, I get a little homicidal when it comes to people who steal or damage these treasures that are part of our world heritage. These things belong to all of us. So even if I believe in a particular political cause, if someone glues themselves to a irreplaceable piece of art, I'm okay with doing any necessary damage to them to save that work of art. (Which doesn't mean I won't continue to donate to that cause.)

Do you have a favorite tea? (We just want to know a trivial thing about you!)

JL - I do! White peony tea is my favorite. 



I want to thank my two talented guests for being so generous with their time and information! I so much enjoyed learning a little bit about you both. I hope it won't be our last such converation! :-) 



Friday, August 5, 2022

WE INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST

 I was hoping--planning--to have my interview with my Japanese translator Aki Fuyuto and artist Yooichi Kadono up today, but I'm in the feverish stage of writing when the home stretch is in sight and I can't concentrate on anything else. 

I might actually hit this deadline! Which, given the interruptions of the last week (and yesterday in particular) is no small feat. 

Anyway, next Friday the interview will be up for sure and OH HOW WE WILL LAUGH ABOUT ANOTHER CLOSE CALL. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, sorry for the delay. I have to say though, I think this book is especially delightful, but maybe that's the heat getting to me...






Friday, July 29, 2022

Life as We Know It


 I'm trying to figure out what the heck I've been doing for the last couple of months that's taking up so much time...

OH YEAH, WRITING.

And yet, I seem to have so little to show for it. 

Of course, writing is not all I've been doing. We had our very dear friends from Finland staying with us for a few days. We had the preparation and celebration of our annual 4th of July party. I had rehearsals for our gig in Pleasanton this September (for those who don't know, in my other life, I'm in a Celtic band and we've started accepting gigs again WHY????????? But anyway...)

One thing that slowed me down was finishing up Hide and Seek. It turned out to be way longer than I'd anticipated AND the edits were more extensive. So I started Lament at Loon Landing late (try saying that fast three times) but quickly--though not quickly enough--realized I wasn't going to finish in time to  be able to start Death at the Deep Dive so as not to also miss that deadline (and lose all my preorders).

So now I'm working on Death at the Deep Dive (which I'm LOVING) but that means that Book 7 in the series will come out before Book 6. 

I know.

But here's the thing, I could pretty much change the book numbers and it wouldn't make much difference except that the way I'm doing the series is each book is set in a particular month based on what's going on on the island (the real island, Block Island, I mean). AND I wanted a book in between Body at Bucanneer's Bay and the plot point resolutions of Death at the Deep Dive. It's not crucial, but as far as the pacing of the series overall, I feel like that's important. So yes, the first few thousand readers won't have the benefit of that elongated pacing, but the first few thousand readers probably feel I'm overthinking it. ;-)

As far as overall story arcs, nothing that happens in Book 7 affects the mystery stuff in Book 6. 

There are some other developments that will be slightly out of order, but in the long run, nothing major. Or at least, I don't think it's anything major. HOW SHOULD I KNOW?

Oh, and as for when Book 6 Lament at Loon Landing will actually come out? 

Here's the thing. After I finish Death at the Deep Dive, I need to promote and catch up everything else for a day or two (because it's like weeks since I've responded to email or messages) and then rehearsals and then I have to get my booster shot so that I've got as much immunity as possible before we do this Labor Day gig. Having had Covid once, I'm really, really, REALLY eager not to contract the BA.5E = mc^2 variant. But I do seem to get knocked on my ass by the boosters, so I'll lose some writing time there. Then there is the gig itself (which is roughly five days including travel and prep).

I'm trying to be realistic, and realistically, it's probably going to be mid-September. 

And honestly, that might be optimistic, because sometimes I get tired.

Sometimes, every month or so, I need a rest. 

But anyway, I know the updates have been few and far between, so I figured I better explain myself before the confusion about release dates reaches critical mass.

OH! Next week, I've got something special planned for the blog! A "conversation" with the wonderful Aki Fuyuto, who does the Japanese translations for my books with Shinshokan, and Yooichi Kadono, the brilliant artist who does so many of the illustrations.  I found it so interesting, and I think you will too. ;-) 


Friday, July 22, 2022

DEATH AT THE DEEP DIVE Playlist

 


We only see the things on the surface…

 

When Pirate Cove’s favorite mystery bookstore owner and sometimes-amateur sleuth Ellery Page discovers a vintage diving collection bag full of antique gold coins tucked away for safe-keeping in the stockroom of the Crow’s Nest, it sets off a series of increasingly dangerous events, culminating in Jack Carson trying to cook dinner. Er…culminating in murder.



 So, yes, Death at the Deep Dive is coming out on August 14th as scheduled.

Lament at Loon Landing is likely to be end of September, but honestly I'm not committing to any dates on anything until next year. I really, really loved writing Death at the Deep Dive and I want to hang onto that...creative enthusiasm and energy. And the best way to do it, at least for now, is writing without any deadlines.

Anyway, as I said, I love writing Death at the Deep Dive. I'm not even sure why, except it has everything I love: everything from cold cases to cold weather. ;-)  I've been playing this playlist constantly.


DEATH AT THE DEEP DIVE playlist


Mills Brothers - Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)

The Surfaris - Wipe Out

Regina Spektor - The Call

The Beach Boys - I Get Around 

Jason Donovan - Sealed With A Kiss 

The Mills Brothers - I'll Be Around

One Direction - Fireproof 

OneRepublic - Someday 

The Beach Boys - Don't Worry, Baby

Dick Dale - Miserlou

Owl City - If My Heart Was a House 

The Mills Brothers - Till Then


  

 

Friday, June 10, 2022

LAMENT AT LOON LANDING Playlist


Just wanted to reassure everyone that although I did delete the preorder for Lament at Loon Landing on Amazon, the book is still happening. Because I'm writing so slowly, I needed a few more weeks to get it done, that's all. 

In the meantime, I've been listening to the playlist I made for the book, and you might enjoy it as well. 

Because this installment takes place during a maritime musical festival on Buck Island, you'd probably expect to hear more (or some) sea chanteys, but somehow that's not happening. 

The Kathleen Edwards' songs seem to represent the character of Lara Fairchild, and her character is changing as I write. She's more complicated and more of a catalyst than I originally thought.

Also, Jack and Ellery are pretty solid at this point. They don't have an official commitment, but they're obviously committed to each other despite their occasional clashes. I mean, occasional clashes are a fact of any long term relationship. In book time they've only known each other a few months, so they're actually moving pretty quickly. If this was real life, the people closest to them would be telling them to pump the brakes. Not counting the islanders, of course, because they can see what's what. 

Anyway, the playlist...



Goodnight, California - Kathleen Edwards

Shape of You - Ed Sheeran

Butter - BTS

Riptide - Vance Joy

Shooting Star - Owl City 

In State - Kathleen Edwards

The Dark and Rolling Sea - Al Stewart

All In - Lifehouse 

Shoulder - Ed Patrick 

Back to Me - Kathleen Edwards 

Even if it's Lonely - Hazlett



Friday, June 3, 2022

It was twenty years ago today, Sargent Pepper taught the band to play...

 


Okay, no, it was last year, and I sincerely wish Sargent Pepper had been there in time. 

Anyway, what a difference a year makes. Last Memorial Day was the weekend everything started to go off the rails, and it went downhill from there. But the good news is this year we have running water, air conditioning, no sick doggies...no drama and no trauma. Yes the people in the house of doom did nearly start another backyard fire with their barbecue, but this time one of their guests saved the day. I just can't...

DID I MENTION I ACCIDENTLY DELETED MY MAILING LIST?

I mean, it wasn't totally by accident. I detest Mailchimp and pressing that DIE, DIE, DIE button was SO (momentarily) satisfying. And I did preserve all the names and emails of my little bitty list. I just haven't had time to do anything with them. YET. Obviously, I'm going to fix that. 

So the good news is The Movie-Town Murders (Art of Murder 5) is out and available.

THAT DIDN'T TAKE SO LONG, DID IT?

Ouch.

And Hide and Seek is just about complete. This month for sure.

But given the fact that I now write five words a day (KIDDING, though there are days it feels like it) I had to remove Lament at Loon Landing as a preorder on Amazon. I can't write a book in two weeks. Yes. there are them what can and yay for them. I need more time. 

Plus, I haven't had massage/physical therapy in over two years and, no surprise, my achy-breaky wrists are feeling it big time. So I'm aiming for the end of June for Lament at Loon Landing. Basically, we're looking at two weeks longer than originally planned? Fingers crossed.

From that point on, I might actually be able to stay on schedule. I mean, stranger things have happened.

There is a LOT of catch up needed on a LOT of things, but at least I'm writing again every day and the books are coming, slowwwwwwly but surely. 

More news to follow. ;-)


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Movie-Town Murders (The Art of Murder 5) NOW AVAILABLE

 

Murder: Live and in Technicolor

 

Working undercover gives FBI Art Crime Team agent Jason West the illusion that he’s safe from his stalker, Dr. Jeremy Kyser. Though film history and preservation are not Jason’s area of expertise, he’s intrigued by the case of a well-connected UCLA film studies professor whose family believes she may have been murdered after discovering a legendary lost 1950s PI film.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, BAU Chief Sam Kennedy gets disturbing news: the Roadside Ripper, the serial killer Sam believes murdered his college boyfriend, may not have been working alone.

 

EXCERPT


 

He didn’t sleep well.

Thirty-one stories up, the wind pushed against the floor-to-ceiling windows and whispered outside the glass doors. Jason’s dreams went from bad to worse, and he woke, heart pounding, drenched in sweat, with Jeremy Kyser’s weird sing-songy, “Agent West?” ringing in his ears.

He knew where he was. Knew he was perfectly safe.

Yet it was all he could do not to reach for his Glock. All he could do not to turn on a lamp. It turned into a battle of will, lying there in the dark, listening to the building sway and moan. He was not going to give into irrational fear. He was not going to let Kyser control his life. Not in the big things. Not in the little things.

Which didn’t change the fact that he’d give a lot to know where Kyser was right at this minute.

The important thing was he was not standing on the balcony outside this room.

So…get a grip, West.

Jason punched his pillow and did what he usually did when he couldn’t sleep. Well, one of the things he usually did. In this instance, it was run over the details of his case.

He kept coming back to his victim.

The one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that Georgette Ono was difficult.  


The other thing everyone—with the understandable exception of Touchstone’s security team—agreed on was that it was almost as hard to believe she’d accidentally killed herself as it was to believe she committed suicide.

The problem was…

Well, there were a number of problems.

One, he was there to reassure the family, not reopen the case. No one wanted a coverup. But there was also no expectation that Jason was actually going to find anything. In fact, the expectation was the opposite.

If he actually reopened the case, turned it into an active homicide investigation, there would be, at best, a mixed reception from his superiors.

Two, even if he privately believed Ono was the victim of homicide, he had no real suspect and no real motive.

Even if LAPD had failed to discover Ono’s allegedly contentious relationship with Touchstone’s security—which seemed unlikely, since the head of security apparently had no issue in sharing that info with J.J.—it didn’t feel like enough of a motive.

Speculation was going to make it harder not easier on the Ono family.

Three—and this had nothing to do with his case—he felt like with each phone call, he and Sam were getting further apart. They were both reasonably articulate, they both wanted this relationship to work, so what was going on?

Was it just him or was it Sam too? He honestly wasn’t sure.

“Hell,” Jason muttered, and reached for his cell, peering at the screen.

Just after two, which meant, Sam might be asleep. He tended to crash around ten and be up and running—literally—by four. Jason tried not to interrupt those few precious hours when Sam allowed himself the luxury of turning off, but tonight…

Tonight, the distance between them was harder to take than usual.

He struggled with himself for a minute or two, then pressed Sam’s number.

Sam answered on the half-ring. “Hey.” He sounded wide awake; his voice as soft as if they were lying facing each other. “Bad dreams?”

Jason let out a long breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “No. I didn’t like the way we left things tonight.”

“Me neither.” No hesitation. It was like Sam had been lying there thinking the same.

“The thing about trying to make this work long distance is…not letting stuff pile up.”

He could feel Sam thinking that over. “What’s piling up, Jason?”

Jason not West. Jason considered that demarcation. Considered the careful gravity of Sam’s voice.

“I want to make sure you don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not that I don’t—”

“Trust me?” Sam sounded dry.

“Yes. It’s not that I don’t trust you.”

“What is it then? Because there’s something.”

“It’s a fine line for both of us. That’s the lesson of Montana. You’re not just another agent. You’re a unit chief. There are potential conflicts.”

“That might hold water if you were in my unit.” No give. No leeway.

“Okay, let’s call it priorities.”

Sam said crisply, “You’re my priority.”

Jason gave a shaky laugh. “Well, wait a minute, because that’s not accurate. It’s not even the agreement we made. It’s not my expectation.”

He could hear the shrug in Sam’s voice. “Nor was it mine, but that’s the way it’s playing out.”

Did Sam really believe that? He was no liar, so yeah, he believed what he was saying. But what he was saying was not an accurate reflection of, well, you name it. It certainly didn’t reflect Jason’s experience.

“Since when?”

Once again there was that uncharacteristic wry note in Sam’s tone. “Probably since the morning you arrived at my hotel door barefoot, hair dripping, hollering how dare I phone SAC Manning about your fitness for duty.”

At the time, they’d known each other less than twenty-four hours. Now it felt like a million years ago.

“Hey, I never said how dare you.”

“Maybe not those exact words.” Sam actually sounded amused at the memory. “You were highly offended.”

Was Sam really implying he’d started to fall for Jason the morning after they’d met? For Jason, the awareness had been instant, the attraction had followed against his better judgment, but once he’d fallen, he’d acknowledged it, accepted it. Sam might have been interested and attracted, but he had fought those feelings long and hard. So Jason couldn’t help feeling a little skeptical.

Whatever it is you need, Jason, I’m probably not that guy.

“As I recall, the agreement was work would always come first for you and that I was willing to accept that for however long I could.”

“We all have our dreams,” Sam said. “That one fell by the roadside a long time ago.”

He was being ironic, but yeah. True. There was no point in rehashing ancient history. Sam had drawn the rules of engagement. Sam had also been the first to break those rules.

======================================


So yes, The Movie-Town Murders is now live on Amazon, Smashwords, Google Books, and Barnes and Noble.

It's not yet live on iBooks or Kobo. I'll try to get that taken care of. It has to do with the fact that Smashwords requires the final file TEN DAYS AHEAD OF EVERYONE ELSE. And I fulfill iBooks and Kobo through Smashwords, so I end up having to push the dates on those two back. It's not ideal, and I have to come up with a better plan.

PRINT IS COMING. Probably over the weekend? 

AUDIO is coming but I can't tell you when. 

Sorry it took so long to get this installment--which is NOT the final chapter--out to you. I would love to be able to promise I'll be much faster getting the next books out, but I'm still writing very slowly. It's just how it is right now. I'm trying to accept that and hopefully youse guys can too.