Monthly Archives: October 2013

Ready for NaNo!

The sixth book in the Jamie Brodie mystery series will be called Psyched to Death. It will begin when a dead body is found in Pete’s department – the psychology department – at Santa Monica College. This will also be the book where Pete’s evil mother will make a reappearance of sorts. 

I wasn’t planning to write this book next, but I realized about a week ago that it needed to be next (after Researched to Death, which is in edits now and will be published by the end of January, and Encountered to Death, which is mostly written but going on the back burner until December). So I signed up for NaNoWriMo with the intention of writing Psyched to Death. 

And here we are, on Halloween and NaNo Eve! I’m psyched! (Psyched! Get it? 🙂 )

You can follow my progress via the widget in the right column.

Meanwhile, Burdened to Death and Cited to Death are both in Amazon’s top 100 in gay mystery! (Hoarded to Death was there yesterday. Those numbers change fast!) Woo hoo!


Burdened to Death

Burdened to Death

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Writing sex scenes

When one of my beta readers came back with her comments on Burdened to Death, she finished by saying, “And I want a sex scene.”
I asked her why; she said, “You keep leading up to the guys having sex, but then you never go all the way. I want to see them go all the way.”

I laughed and said I’d consider it. I went back through Burdened to Death and couldn’t find a place where I thought it would fit, so I didn’t add one. I kept in mind what she’d said, though. Right now I’m writing Encountered to Death, the fifth book in the series, and I found a place where I thought a sex scene wouldn’t be too disruptive, wrote it, and sent it to my critique partner. He came back the next day shaking his head. “No.”

“Why not?”

“It just doesn’t work. There’s no reason for it to be there.”

And he was right. I’ve read the advice of several writers on sex scenes, and there is general agreement that it needs to do one of two things: either move the story forward somehow, or reveal something about the characters. This scene didn’t do either of those things. I said, “You’re right,” and took it out.

We all know that Pete and Jamie are having sex. They’ve been together for over a year, at the beginning of Encountered to Death, and they’ve had lots of sex. But – because of Pete’s history of sexual abuse, the different ways in which they have sex are limited. Pete will only have anal sex face to face, in the missionary position. How many ways are there to describe that?

Of course they are doing other things too – oral sex, frottage. But then I get into a new dilemma. From what I’ve read in m/m fiction, there are only so many ways to describe oral sex. To be honest, I’ve stopped reading m/m romance for the most part (with a few exceptions, see below) because it got to be repetitive. If I read about someone tonguing someone else’s slit one more time, I might just throw my Kindle across the room.

There are a few authors – Josh Lanyon immediately comes to mind – who write so well that the sex scenes are almost lyrical. I wish I could write that well, but I can’t, so I’m not going to try. I’d rather fade to black and let the readers use their imaginations than write a sex scene that is a mediocre repetition of the sex scenes of all the other m/m writers out there who don’t have that level of skill.
I’ve said from the beginning that my books are not m/m. They’re gay mystery. And gay mystery they shall remain. 😀

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It’s a full time job

Right now I’m sitting in the lobby of the Melia Hotel in Atlanta, getting ready to order lunch. I’ve been here for a couple of hours. I’m attending GRL this week and it doesn’t really start until tomorrow, so today is a free day. I’ve seen groups of people going off to do things in town, but it’s hard for me to spend a lot of time on my feet. So I am using this time productively, to get some writing done, in an atmosphere that is practically throbbing with creativity, with all these m/m romance writers here.

I’d love to know how many of these writers can do it full-time, and how many of them have to work at other jobs. The vast majority of them are women, and I’d bet that most of them have husbands that work. I’m sure that’s not true for all of them, and I bet some of them do work, although maybe not full time. At least not the more prolific ones.

I have learned that writing can definitely be a full-time job. If I had a job where I couldn’t do anything to support my writing, it would be difficult to get it all done. I’m lucky that I can do my research at work, and meet with my writing group at work, and have lunch every day with my critique partner to talk about ideas and such. And, when I’m at the reference desk, I can often work on a scene or two. I’m getting paid to sit there and wait for questions, so I don’t feel guilty at all about doing some of my own work while I’m waiting.

But the research can take hours, sometimes, especially when I’m looking for locations with Google Maps or one of the other sites I use for that. I don’t know how many times I’ve referred to UCLA’s website to make sure that I get some detail about the university right. All of that takes time. And then there’s the writing, and the editing. I can absolutely see that all adding up to eight hours a day or more, especially when you include the self-promotion that has to be done if you’re going to make your living as a writer.

Would I do it full-time if I had the chance? Sure, if I was independently wealthy. 🙂 But on second thought, maybe not. Writing is fun for me. Making a few bucks at it is nice, but I think if I had the pressure of supporting myself doing it, it would cease to be fun. Then it would be a chore, not something that I look forward to.

But if I could do it without the financial pressure? I’d have to think about it. It’s a solitary existence. I don’t know if I’d get the ideas that I do if I didn’t work. And I certainly wouldn’t have the support from my writing group, because that comes along with my work.

I think, if I had the choice, I wouldn’t change a thing. 😀


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NaNoWriMo 2013

I said I wasn’t going to do it…

Earlier this week I decided to go ahead and sign up for NaNo again. It worked so well last year for Researched to Death (which I hope to have out by the end of the year), and I want to get ahead again in the writing. I have the plot for the sixth book pretty much laid out in my head, so I thought I’d go ahead and get it down on “paper.”

The sixth book will be called Psyched to Death, and it’ll be a doozy. I already have the introduction scene written. Here it is:

Psyched to Death


“What the hell are you doing here?” My ex, Scott Deering, was standing in front of me, brandishing the bow of his cello like a sword. “And what the hell are you wearing?”

I looked down. I was seated on a folding chair, and I was wearing pajama pants and a UCLA t-shirt. I looked around me. I was on the Santa Monica Pier. It was a beautiful, warm evening. There were a couple dozen other people around me, all sitting in folding chairs, all clad in evening wear. In front of me, the entire Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra was tuning up.

I looked back at Scott. “We came to hear the concert.” I glanced to my right, where my current boyfriend, Pete Ferguson, was perusing the concert program. He was wearing pajamas too. “No one told us it was dressy.”

Scott rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He strode back to his seat in the second row of the cello section. The concertmaster walked out to applause, the orchestra finished tuning, and the conductor appeared. He bowed to the audience, stepped onto the podium, and picked up his baton. The first notes of Ravel’s “Bolero” wafted into the night.

I closed my eyes and smiled. This was why we were here. Ever since I’d first heard Bolero as a teenager on a school field trip, performed by the San Diego Symphony, I’d thought it was the sexiest piece of music ever. Being here was definitely worth the price of running into Scott.

About halfway through, Pete leaned over and put his hand on my leg. “This is making me so hot.”

I whispered back. “Me, too.” And it was. The building intensity of the music was having a definite effect on my anatomy. Pete’s hand, sliding gradually higher on my thigh, was creating havoc as well. At this rate, I’d be lucky to make it to the end of the piece.

I barely did. Pete and I jumped to our feet to join in the standing ovation at the end then he grabbed my hand. “Let’s go.” We ran for the public restrooms, plunged in, and slammed into the last stall. Pete shoved the bolt closed on the door and turned to me. I grabbed him and we dove in, literally. Kissing, hands roaming, we were well on our way to overload when someone started pounding on the door.

Pete groaned and pulled away from me. I grabbed at him. “No! They can wait!”

Pete muttered, “Shit,” and turned on the light.


I opened my eyes. I was at home, in bed, not wearing pajamas, but definitely sporting a raging erection. And someone was definitely pounding on our front door.

Pete rolled out of bed, pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt and grabbed a bathrobe. I croaked, “What time is it?”

“Quarter of six.” Pete opened the door of the bedroom and went downstairs. I tried to remember what day it was. Oh yeah – Saturday. That’s why we’d been sleeping in.

I figured I’d better go see what was up. I put on a pair of jeans – a better disguise than sweatpants for my flagging but still obvious erection. I couldn’t find one of my own t-shirts, so I grabbed one of Pete’s and followed him downstairs, tugging the shirt over my head as I went.

Pete was standing in the living room, talking to a cop. He was a plainclothes guy, but I knew cops. Pete was an ex-cop. My brother Kevin was a cop. This guy was a cop.

The cop turned to me as I reached the bottom of the stairs, and held out his hand. “Detective Dennis Herold, Santa Monica PD.”

I shook his hand. “Jamie Brodie. What’s going on?”

Pete answered. “They found one of our students dead in the office of the psychology department.”


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Burdened to Death is here!

Whew! Now available through Amazon for Kindle:


A phone call in the middle of the night is never good news. When Pete Ferguson’s phone rings, he learns that one of his childhood friends, Mark Jones, has committed suicide. Mark’s family is shocked, and wonders if Mark was abused by the same priest at whose hands Pete suffered. Pete and Mark’s family want answers, and they ask Jamie to find them. Pete is convinced the priest is connected to his friend’s suicide. Jamie isn’t so sure. When the evidence starts pulling them in different directions, will it tear them apart?

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