Monthly Archives: June 2014

Researched to Death: Free for two days!

Speaking of old boyfriends…On Saturday, 6/28, and Sunday, 6/29, Researched to Death will be free at Amazon:

“Was it National Old Boyfriends Week, and I’d missed the memo?” 
Librarian Jamie Brodie is looking forward to a week of vacation in Oxford, England, his first trip back in seven years. Before he’s even packed, though, a couple of complications arise. 
The first complication is Jamie’s ex, Ethan Williams, who shows up at Jamie’s office with his new boyfriend and a request. Ethan’s going to Oxford too, and he needs Jamie’s help to find a rare 15th century book in the Bodleian Library. When Jamie tells his boyfriend Pete that he and Ethan will be in Oxford at the same time, Pete doesn’t react well. To say the least. 
The second complication is Pete’s ex, Luke Brenner, who shows up at Pete and Jamie’s house. He lets Jamie know that he’s in town to get Pete back – but Pete doesn’t think Luke will try anything. 
He’s proven spectacularly wrong, in one horrible moment. 
Jamie leaves for Oxford, not sure where he stands with Pete, not looking forward to seeing Ethan. When he requests the book that Ethan needs, he learns that it’s been missing for three weeks – and the man who likely stole it is dead. 
Then two more men die, and Ethan goes missing as well. Is he in danger? Or is he a killer? And what could be in an obscure medieval manuscript that’s worth killing for?


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The Ex Files: Scott

And so we come to Scott. We first heard of Scott at the very beginning of Cited to Death, when Jamie tells of his latest boyfriend breaking up with him in the hospital. Not a good first impression! Scott gets mentioned by someone or another in nearly every book, and we’ll finally meet him – and get to know him very well – in Played to Death, which is Jamie Brodie Mystery #10. Without further ado…say hello to Scott Deering.

Looks: 6’0”, blond, blue eyes. Slender but strong – he doesn’t work out, but a cello is heavy.

Born: 1978, Bryn Mawr, PA

Parents: old money Main Line Philadelphia. Father a banker, mother a socialite. Scott’s parents divorced when he was twelve but shared custody. Both parents pushed Scott to practice in lieu of any other activities, and he didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. They also trotted him out for command performances when they were hosting parties – he particularly hated this. Scott’s parents were unsurprised when he came out to them but also mostly indifferent. Like Ethan, Scott misses the relationship he had with Jamie’s dad (although it was never as close as Ethan’s relationship with Dave).

Siblings: none.

Education: The Shipley School (private K-12), 1996

Juilliard, Bachelor of Music in Cello, 2000

Eastman School of Music, Master of Music in Performance and Literature, Cello, 2002

Employment: Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, 2002-7

Los Angeles Philharmonic, 2007-present

Relationship with Jamie: Jamie met Scott in late 2010 at an AIDS Project Los Angeles benefit at which Scott’s string quartet was playing. They began dating in early 2011 and were together for over a year. During that time Jamie had a lot of trouble with his asthma, necessitating several trips to the emergency room. Finally he was hospitalized and that’s when Scott broke up with him, two weeks before Cited to Death begins. They haven’t seen each other since, although Ali and Mel occasionally run into Scott at gay bars around town. Scott formed Jamie into a classical music fan. Liz and Scott were friends; Scott also became friends with Kristen Beach, another UCLA librarian.

Personality: Scott began music lessons at age three and from that time forward his life was defined by lessons, practice and performance. Like many child prodigies, Scott had some difficulty finding his footing in the real world, but a couple of his orchestra mates in Jacksonville took him under their wings and helped him grow up a good bit. He pretends disdain for Los Angeles when it’s fashionable to do so, but in reality loves Southern California and hopes he never has to leave. Scott is not as shallow or self-centered as he comes across – as Jamie’s friends all think he is. He was terrified by Jamie’s unstable asthma and felt helpless to do anything about it, so he turned away instead.

And there you have it, everything I know about Jamie’s ex-boyfriends. I’m not going to bother with Dan Christensen, because he’s dead, and I refuse to speak any further about Luke, Pete’s ex, because he’s such a lowlife. 😀


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The Ex Files: Alex and Eric

After Nick split up with Jamie, Pete was also single, and he and Jamie dated for about eight months. As we know now, Pete’s ex, Luke, began campaigning for Pete to take him back very shortly after Pete and Jamie began dating. Pete was also the caretaker for his great-uncle Arthur, whose health was failing, and was in the middle of his Ph.D. program. It was a stressful time for Pete. It was a stressful time for Jamie also – newly minted as a librarian, trying to get off to a good start in his new job – and Abby had just moved in with Jamie and Kevin, complicating his life somewhat.

When Luke finally wore Pete down, Pete split with Jamie. Kevin and Pete had a falling out as a result, and neither Jamie nor Kevin saw Pete for a while. Jamie began dating again…

Alex Schuncke

Looks: 5’10”, light brown hair, blue eyes, wears glasses, average looking.

Born: Anaheim, California, 1984

Parents: Father a doctor, mother a nurse

Siblings: one sister

Education: Oxford Academy (high school), Cypress, CA; graduated 2002

UCLA; B.A. in Linguistics and French, 2006. He is also fluent in German, thanks to a year spent there in high school, and in Spanish.

UCLA; MLIS, 2008

Employment: UC-Irvine Libraries

Relationship with Jamie: Jamie and Alex were classmates throughout library school and became friends. Alex was still dating his college sweetheart through library school, but in early 2008, they split up – at the same time Pete broke up with Jamie. Alex and Jamie were both disillusioned with relationships; they commiserated, and one thing led to another. They decided to try dating but only lasted about six months because of basic personality differences and not enjoying many of the same activities. They remain friends, though.

Personality: If you look in the dictionary for the definition of “bookworm,” there’s Alex’s picture. He is the ultimate voracious reader. He’d rather read than do almost anything else. (Almost.) He made straight A’s from grade school through grad school except for B’s in phys ed. He never played a sport and doesn’t care for outdoors activities.

Current relationship: dating a resident in neurology at UC-Irvine Medical Center. This boyfriend works long hours, so Alex has plenty of time to read.


Pete never met Alex. By the time Pete and Kevin were speaking to each other again, Jamie was dating Eric.


Eric Padilla

Looks: 6’0”, dark brown hair and eyes. Lifts weights, in shape.

Born: Los Angeles, 1977

Parents: Owned a restaurant. Three uncles were firefighters.

Siblings: Eric is the fourth of five children.

Education: Garfield HS, Los Angeles, graduated 1995

EMT training at East Los Angeles College 1996

LAFD Fire Academy 1999

UCLA paramedic program 2001

Employment: LAC-USC Medical Center ER as an EMT; LAFD as a firefighter since 2000 and a firefighter/paramedic since 2002

Relationship with Jamie: Jamie met Eric in 2009 while standing in line at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood (now closed). In addition to mysteries they also both enjoyed sports and the outdoors. Eric, however, was needy and clingy, texting Jamie several times an hour when they weren’t together. Jamie stayed with Eric for about a year because they did have a lot in common, their work schedules kept them apart a good bit so that Jamie didn’t have to deal with the neediness in person very much, and Eric lived just a couple of blocks away – it was very convenient. Another issue was that Eric wasn’t out to his family or at work. Jamie didn’t like having to hide. They both finally got tired of each other; Eric was the one who pulled the plug but Jamie would have eventually.


We met Alex in Burdened to Death, when Jamie sought his advice about Pete’s idea for an open relationship. We haven’t met Eric yet but will soon.

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The Ex Files: Nick

After graduating from Oxford, Jamie moved to L.A. to attend library school. He had a brief (three month) fling with Dan Christensen, who I’m not going to detail here. If you want to know about Dan, read Cited to Death. 😀

After Dan, Jamie met Nick Taggart, a graduate student in cinematography at UCLA. We haven’t met Nick yet, but we will. Jamie was dating Nick when Pete broke up with Luke the first time. Pete liked Nick, or in his words, “at least as much as I liked any of the guys you dated.”

Without further ado, meet Nick Taggart.

Looks: 5’11”, slender, brown hair, brown eyes; wears his hair long, in a braid that goes about halfway down his back. Nick has Native American heritage.

Born: Laramie, Wyoming, 1976.

Parents: Father a veterinarian who taught at University of Wyoming; mother a homemaker. Nick was raised Mormon but left the church when he left home for college. His parents keep hoping he’ll return to the faith, in spite of Nick’s assurances that it will never happen.

Siblings: one older brother, one younger sister.

Education: Laramie High School, graduated 1994

UCLA, 1994-8; BA in photography

UCLA, 2006-8; MFA in cinematography

Between his bachelor’s degree and getting his MFA, he worked as a bartender in West Hollywood and a wedding photographer; built a reputation as an LGBT wedding photographer

Employment: now works as freelance cinematographer; makes his own short films with a couple of friends; still tends bar and does weddings.

Personality: Friendly, open, creative, environmentalist, enjoys the outdoors. Jamie told Pete that he learned to communicate as a couple from Nick.

Current relationship: Nick is now married to Mac Burnham, the guy who’d caught his eye when he and Jamie broke up. They’ve been together for six years. Mac is a voice-over actor, a few years older than NIck.

Fun fact: Nick and Kevin’s girlfriend Abby are friendly acquaintances.

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The Ex Files: Ethan

I’ve decided to implement a brief series here, collecting all the details about Jamie’s ex-boyfriends in one place. Some we’ve already met extensively (Ethan), some we’ve met briefly (Alex), some we’ve heard a lot about but have yet to meet (Scott), and some we’ve only heard mentioned (Nick, Eric). And of course, we won’t be meeting poor Dan, because he’s dead.

Let’s start with Ethan.

Name: Ethan Grant Williams

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 190

Looks: straight, collar-length, silky black hair and blue-gray eyes. Think a combination of Matt Bomer/Ian Somerhalder/a young Rob Lowe. Jamie described him as the most beautiful man he’d ever met.

Born: April 17, 1980, Walnut Creek, California; raised in San Rafael, CA

Father was a software developer; his company was acquired by another for millions in 1986. His father died in 2013 and left his estate to Ethan, in spite of his disapproval of Ethan’s “lifestyle.”

Mother was an artist; left Ethan’s father in 1988 and moved to France. Said she would send for Ethan and never did. Ethan has no idea if she’s still alive.

Siblings: none.

Education: Archbishop Riordan HS, San Francisco

UC-Berkeley, 1998-2002; major English, minor creative writing. Had a rowing scholarship; participated                                                                                  in eight-man crew.

St. Johns College, Oxford, 2002-2005; M.Phil. English Studies (Medieval). Also rowed while here.

Yale, Ph.D., 2005-2009;  Medieval British literature. Wrote his dissertation on the place of the mystery                                                                                  in Medieval British literature. Ethan was introduced to mystery novels by                                                                                       Jamie and remains a fan.

Employment: MIT, teaching writing and literature, 2009-present. Considering moving back to California.

Relationship history: Ethan and Jamie met the day they moved into the dorm at Berkeley. They started sleeping together shortly thereafter and stayed together for the next seven years. Neither was out at college. Ethan lived in fear that someone he knew would see him with Jamie and report back to his father; he knew his father would cut him off financially if he learned that Ethan was gay.

Ethan broke up with Jamie in 2005, at the end of their third year in Oxford. Ethan still wasn’t ready to come out. He needed his father to keep paying for his education and was afraid that if he moved back to the west coast, he and Jamie would be found out. Ethan moved to Yale with a guy named Thom, another doctoral student.

Thom broke up with Ethan in 2007 when Ethan was outed by a colleague of his father’s and his funds were cut off. Ethan moved in with an older professor in English department, who paid for the rest of Ethan’s education, and stayed with the older man until Ethan moved to Boston in 2009. He dated around until meeting Charlie Westerly, a German instructor at Boston College, in 2011. Ethan and Charlie broke up in 2014 when Charlie decided to move back to Georgia and Ethan refused to live in the South.

Personality: Spoiled to some extent, but grew up lonely. Very bright; always made good grades without a lot of effort. Was always a good team player and has always been generous. Something of a coward – led Charlie to believe that he’d told his father he was gay, rather than having been outed to his father. Jamie doesn’t know this, but Ethan believes that leaving Jamie was the worst mistake he ever made. He loved Jamie as much as he was capable of. He also misses the relationship that he had with Jamie’s dad.

Ethan enjoys the outdoors, and will try anything once. He’s bungee jumped, gone skydiving, likes whitewater rafting. He volunteers with Fenway Health in Boston and supports several LGBT charities. He’s made an It Gets Better video. He sees these activities as trying to atone for his cowardly past – and in a way, for how he treated Jamie.


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Need research help?

I Love Research!!

Of course I do. I’m a librarian. 😀

I wonder if there are authors who don’t do their own research? I know there are plenty of writers who get help from librarians, and I’ve even seen librarians thanked on Acknowledgements pages. As far as I can tell, that’s for in-person research.

I wonder if there are writers who would ask a librarian to help with online research? I know there are dissertation writers who do that. I’ve spent plenty of time gathering peer-reviewed journal articles for the faculty at our college, either for doctoral dissertations, reviews of literature for their own journal articles, or curriculum development.

But only once has a writer asked me to research anything to be used in a work of fiction. One of the members of my writing group needed a disease – uniformly fatal, without any obvious signs or symptoms, no treatment available.

This is a toughie. It could be a brain aneurysm, but the author needed a definite end point, and aneurysms can burst tomorrow, in twenty years, or never. Anything else would only be symptom-free in the early stages. ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a possibility, but the author needed a quicker progression than that. I suggested Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, the human equivalent of mad cow, but she said the character is Hindu. So no good. She thought the most promising idea might be a chronic hepatitis caused by a chemical exposure – symptoms would occur soon, but not immediately. She’s considering her options.

I don’t know if there are any writers out there who hate research, but if you’re one, give me a shout. I can help. 😀





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Changing POV

I’m enrolled in an online course called Start Writing Fiction through The Open University in the UK. It’s been useful, although not as much as I had hoped. Our final writing assignment will be due next week, and it’s a 750-1000 word story. That in itself is difficult for me – I’ve never written a short story, much less a flash fiction piece. I can’t use anything that will go into one of the books because it would only be a scene, not a complete story.

The other requirement is that the story be written in third person. That’s no problem, on the surface. I’ve written a few scenes in third person, both for published books and books to come, and it’s worked okay.

However – the story I’m trying to write for this assignment is in Pete’s voice, and I am somewhat shocked to find that it’s very difficult to write from Pete’s POV. And I’m not sure why. A couple of my critique partners have suggested to me in the past that I write something from Pete’s standpoint, and I’ve balked at that. Maybe I knew subconsciously that I couldn’t do it.

It just strikes me as odd. Maybe I’m so tuned into Jamie’s voice that I can’t turn it around and see Jamie through Pete’s eyes. I don’t know…

What I do know is that I’m not going to struggle with this story any more. I’m going to switch to a story written in a third-person voice I know already. Jamie’s ex, Scott the cellist. Scott has a lot to say. 🙂


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