Monday, February 21, 2022


It's live! 

  This special 20th Anniversary edition includes illustrations, character interviews, and holiday codas--including a new and exclusive short story-length coda written for Christmas 2021--as well as other curiosities.

All in all, over 400 pages of Adrien English and Jake Riordan!

From Christmas Coda 2021

“Whoa,” Jake said. “I could feel that frown from the front door.”

I glanced up from the pages of the glossy magazine Natalie had left on my desk, and stopped scowling. “Hey. I didn’t hear you come in.”

As Jake reached me, I pulled my mask down, and we kissed hello. The pressure of his mouth was warm against mine, and our lips lingered…lingered… Turns out, love is sticky stuff.

We reluctantly parted—and Jake promptly, gently pulled my mask back up. He pulled his mask up.

I sighed. “You know, it’s after-hours. We’re alone now.”

He touched the tip of my masked nose. “Yep. It’s just you, me, and fifty billion germs.”

The agreement we made was I’d continue to work at Cloak and Dagger through the pandemic, but promised to be extra-diligent and super-vigilant about following all virus protocols. Which I complied with because A – I’m not an idiot, and B – making Jake happy is a priority for me.

I mean, it’s a mask. Try being on a fucking ventilator. Been there, done that, and will do everything in my power to avoid repeating the experience.

“Speaking of catching germs. How’d your day go?” I asked.

In September, Jake had landed a job with Brannigan Investigations, one of LA’s oldest PI firms. It hadn’t been an easy transition. For one thing, it closed the door, once and for all, on his career in law enforcement. Which…that door was already closed, but this was like installing a deadbolt. But also, Jake liked the freedom of being his own boss. What he hadn’t liked was the unpredictability of the kinds of cases that came his way—when they came his way—or the precariousness of his finances. So he’d taken the job at Brannigan Investigations.

Fortunately, they seemed to really like him there, and he liked the owner, Mary Brannigan, the granddaughter of the original Brannigan. Jake liked having resources, and respect, and a steady paycheck.

“Good,” he said. “Even better, I’ve got the next four days off.”

Four days? Wow. They gave you Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, and whatever Monday is?” That was more than cool because I too had Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day, and whatever Monday was. Taking time off was part of my commitment to a new healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

Jake said, “I’m thinking Monday is a travel day.”

My brows shot up. “A travel day? Where are you going?”

“We can talk about it on the drive home. You ready to head out?”

“Just waiting for you. Let me grab my coat and cat.”

He made a sound of amusement, waiting as I rounded up Tompkins, hustled him into his carrier, and struggled into my coat.

Jake took the carrier from me. On our way out, he glanced at the stairs leading to my former flat. “Is Natalie out?” he asked.

What he really meant was, Is Larkin out? Larkin, my three-month-old nephew, was Natalie’s son. Jake adored Larkin, and the feeling seemed to be mutual. Granted, Larkin seemed to adore everyone. I’ve never been much of a fan of babies, but that kid was pretty cute and not entirely objectionable.

I said, “They’re spending the holiday weekend with Lisa and Bill.” Three and a half years ago, my mother married Councilman Bill Dauten, thus supplying me with three ready-made sisters, all accessories included. The latest accessory being the aforementioned Larkin.

Jake frowned. “Then who’s running the bookstore?” Jumping to the conclusion that I was backing out of our agreement.

I said patiently, “Which means, Angus and Bliss are covering tomorrow, and then we’re closed until next Wednesday.”

Bliss was my latest hire. She was…interesting, as girls—young women—with mermaid-colored hair so often are. I felt she was a woman of possibilities. One possibility being—though I denied it when Jake suggested such a thing—that I thought Bliss might provide a good distraction for Angus, who continued to be worryingly smitten with Natalie.

Jake relaxed. I held the door for him, patting his back as he carried Tompkins out.



“What is it about the extravagance of minimalist coats and soft layers that so disturbs you?” Jake asked as we merged onto the I-210.

“Huh?” I stared blankly at his profile.

“That magazine you were reading. The one you were muttering over. The one you rolled up and stuck in your coat pocket.”

I smiled reluctantly. “Was I muttering?”

“Yep.” He glanced my way, his hazel eyes humorous, though the question was sincere.

“It’s not winter fashion that worries me, though if you’d seen some of those boots… It’s the results of a compatibility quiz.”

His brows drew together. “You don’t think we’re compatible?”

Us? We’re compatible. I mean, I don’t know if we’re compatible on paper, but we’re compatible in real life. No. Natalie was taking the quiz.”

“I see.”

I wasn’t sure he did.

“Whoever she was trying to answer on behalf of is not someone she should be marrying. Or even rooming with. These answers are a Dateline waiting to happen.”

“Hm.” I always loved the way the hard line of his mouth would twitch when he found something funny but wasn’t allowing himself an actual smile.

Reaching into the back seat, dodging Tompkins who tried to claw me through the bars of his crate, I fished the rolled magazine from my coat pocket. I unfurled the pages of pouty-looking girls in coats that looked like crayon-colored collapsed parachutes (How could something that bulky be minimalist?).

“Seriously. Listen to this. How many times a day would you call your spouse to know how he/she is doing?

Jake was silent.

I said, “Natalie’s answer is three times. Which…okay. Maybe? If a lot of stuff was going on? Her stalker’s answer—whoever he is—is eight. Eight times a day! He’s calling every hour.”

“That sounds like Angus.”

“Does it? But she’s working with Angus, so he can just yell hey you across the aisle. It sure as hell isn’t Warren. If he called her once a week, I’d be impressed. Part of my worry is, I’m not sure if she’s guessing this guy’s answers, or if these are actually his answers. What does that tell you?”

“That we don’t know,” Jake replied. “We also don’t know if this is the new guy.”

I stared. “What new guy?”

He gave me a sideways look. “I think there’s a new guy.”

“Why would you think that?”

He nodded at the magazine. “Aren’t compatibility quizzes the kind of thing people do when they first meet?”

My heart sank. But yeah. He was probably right. I said darkly, “Some people. Don’t ask me. I never filled out a compatibility quiz in my life. Did you?”

“No.” His mouth quirked. “Maybe that was our mistake.”

“Yeah. That was the holdup. We never took the time to see if we agreed on…” I looked down at the magazine page and read aloud: “What is your idea of a romantic date?

“Obviously a crime scene.”

“Right? It doesn’t get more romantic than that.” I tried another one. “Do you have a huge tolerance capability?

“What does that mean? For alcohol?”

“I doubt it’s alcohol.”

“Does huge make sense in another context?”

I snorted, but said doubtfully, “Could they mean tolerance as in patience?”

“What answer did Natalie give?”

“Natalie says yes. No surprise there. Mr. X says no. No. I’m telling you, Keith Morrison is going to be knocking on our door any minute now.”

“Maybe this guy’s just being funny.”

“Maybe. Okay, here’s a weird-ass question. I mean, what mad scientist came up with these? What are the things you would like to take control of in your partner’s life after you both get into a serious relationship?

“What does that mean?”

“Exactly. What does that mean?”

Jake asked, “What were their answers?”

“Natalie wrote: I would like to be there to share his burdens and ease his worries. I would like to be a true partner in all things good and bad.

Jake said noncommittally, “That’s sweet.”

“Yeah, and she means it. She’s doomed. Bachelor Number One answered: her finances, her relationships with others who take advantage of her, and, and, listen to this one: be a role model for her son!

Jake was silent for a moment. “You know, we aren’t sure whether these answers are Natalie’s wishful thinking. Also, this guy may not be good at expressing himself. Also, some of the questions are a little off. Like that last one. I’m not sure there’s a right answer to that.”

“Fair enough.” I tried to decipher some of Natalie’s scribbled notes. “I can tell you right now, these responses are not from Angus. And I doubt they’re Warren’s. Not from anything I’ve seen of Warren.”

“No, this is somebody new.”

I murmured, “Why wouldn’t she tell us if she’s seeing someone new?”

Jake grunted. I’ve never known anyone who could pack so much into a nonverbal utterance.

I made a face. “Yeah. Okay. The thing is, I’d love for Natalie to find a nice guy who would treat her well and be a good father to Larkin. It’s not like I want to get sucked into the family drama.”

“I know.”

Just when I thought I was out, they pullll me back in.” I did my best Michael Corleone impression which, granted, was not very good.

Jake made a pained sound.

“She’s still fighting establishing the kid’s paternity.”

That time, Jake’s “I know” was a lot more disapproving.

“Angus is on pins and needles, waiting for her to figure out what she’s doing. Warren’s started hinting that he needs some kind of financial support in order to stay in her life. And I know it’s her life and that most, if not all of this, is none of our business.”

“You care. You’re concerned. That’s understandable. But we don’t know that there’s anything to worry about yet. Nat’s still at the filling-out-compatibility-quizzes stage.”

I shook my head, read: “How good are you at keeping secrets? Natalie says she’s great, which proves she’s delusional. Mr. X says excellent.”

Jake and I exchanged looks.


Friday, February 18, 2022


 We are now on the NINTH round of (format) edits for Fatal Shadows: The Collector's Edition.

I'm sure there are still things we've missed, but at some point you have to let go and jump, and I think we're there. Hopefully, this weekend will see the Amazon version go live. 

It's such a crazy little book! I don't mean Fatal Shadows itself, although yes, that too. But all the goofy extras. I've really enjoyed immersing myself in Adrien's world again--way more than I'd expected. But I mean, it's hard to know what YOU'LL make of it. It's definitely a Fans Only kind of thing. 

It's been an interesting month. I had food poisoning (?!!) for four days last week. It was BRUTAL. We'll leave it there because...not glamorous, that's for sure. Not that glamour is a huge part of the writing life, but it's usually not that abject and desperate, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, I couldn't help thinking that poisoning someone is a particularly terrible way to kill them. Nice people do not poison others. Regardless of the provocation.

I think we're still on track for a March release of The Movie-Town Murders. I'm a little nervous because next month also includes doing two years-worth of taxes and a week-long visit from my best pal, but the book is proceeding apace and (thank God) I'm really enjoying this revised storyline. 

You can read a snippet over on my website.

Oh! Short Stories 2 is out--has been out for over a week--and is available for sale pretty much everywhere. It sort of got lost in the shuffle. As a matter of fact, I did several box sets over the past weeks, and I think I'll run a 50% sale on them all before the end of the month, so if you've been hoping for a little bit of a deal, keep your eyes peeled. I'll announce it here too and all over social media, but it's easy to miss that kind of news in the never-ending airhorn blast of buymebuymebuyme.

What else? 

Ah. One more thing. I've reluctantly made the decision to skip GRL this year. I just feel like I've got so much catching up to do after the disaster of last year. I want this to be a really good year, a productive and creative year. And so far, despite the (almost constantly??!!) being sick, so far, so good. I'm just going to focus on, er, regrouping and regathering. So it's disappointing, but it also feels like the sensible choice given where I am right now.

How are YOU doing? How's the year treating you so far? 


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

NEW IN AUDIO: Body at Buccaneer's Bay!

Woohoo, me hearties! Or... Yo ho, me hearties! The audio for BODY AT BUCCANEER'S BAY (narrated by the oh-so-talented Matt Haynes) is now available.

This is the 5th installment in the Secrets and Scrabble series. 

Mystery Bookshop owner Ellery Page and Police Chief Jack Carson are diving for the legendary pirate galleon Blood Red Rose when they discover an old-fashioned diver’s suit, water-damaged and encrusted with barnacles. Further examination reveals that the twentieth century suit contains a twenty-first century body.

Who was the mysterious diver? No one seems to be missing from the quaint and cozy town of Pirate’s Cove. Was the victim really diving for pirate’s gold? And if not, what exactly did he do to earn that bullet hole in his skull?


You can purchase the audio through:




Friday, February 11, 2022

Hide and Seek Playlist


After all the delays and detours of last year, I'm finally back to work on Hide and Seek.  

I'm trying to do a new chapter each week--it's not always possible, but the goal is to do four chapters a month (on all serialized stories) moving forward. I feel like with a more reasonable, less panicked work schedule that's doable.

I believe that I will ultimately make Hide and Seek available  for sale in audio. I don't plan, however, to sell it any other formats. 

I feel like that's the way to go, moving forward. It' seems like a fair balance between keeping things mostly exclusive for Patreons while still allowing some access to everyone else. 

Side note: I've never had a Beatles fan main character before!

The Hide and Seek Playlist

Friday, February 4, 2022



Now that I've got Fatal Shadows: The Collector's Edition in the can--well, let me clarify! The edits are complete and the book is now being formatted. We have houseguests this weekend, so I'm not sure it will be submitted for publication before the end of the month. Obviously, that's what we're trying for, but I want to keep expectations realistic.

Anyway, now that my part in FSCE is complete, I've started work on The Movie-Town Murders. I've changed quite a bit of my original idea, frankly because I was freaking myself out with certain aspects (i.e. snuff films--the more I researched, the sicker and sadder I felt). 

I mean, once upon a time, I think one could argue that snuff films were simply gruesome urban legends. Now? The world is nuts. I take nothing for granted.

So anyway, that was just too much for me, and I've made some major tweaks to the plot. I like the story much better--and I assume you will too.

The goal is to finish at the end of *February. That's what I'm aiming for. However, there's a lot of research involved, and I haven't worked in this world since 2019, so it might take a little bit longer--not a lot!--but this is the project I'm focused on. I'm working as quickly as I can while still trying to make sure this is a book that was worth the wait. 

Anyway, as I work I'm listening to my "official" playlist.

The Movie-Town Murders Playlist



Geronimo - Sheppard  


What Led Me to This Town - The Jayhawks


Connection - OneRepublic


Buried Treasure - Grant-Lee Phillips


Nightwatchman - Tom Petty


Rescue Me - OneRepublic



The Edge Of Glory - Lady Gaga


All This Time - OneRepublic



*That was indeed the goal, but it's looking more like March now.