Monthly Archives: June 2015

Christmas in July!

Chris Downer [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Chris Downer [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

As I promised back in the spring, I’m going to share a short story with you, in installments on this blog over the next few days. The story is called Best Men. It takes place from late November through December 31, a couple of weeks after the end of Hearts, the short story included with Talked to Death.

There’s no mystery here; it’s just a slice of life story – a slice of Pete and Jamie’s life that I needed to show you all before the next book (Avenged to Death) comes out. It wasn’t anything I could turn into or include in a book, so I decided to serialize it here.

Part One will appear tomorrow. Stay tuned!


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I have a Facebook page!

I finally decided to take the plunge and set up a Facebook author page. You can find it at The (new) posts from this blog will appear there, but I’ll post other stuff too – so you’ll have a reason to like the page. 🙂 Come check it out!


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Filed under Books, Travel, Writing

What I’m reading now: The Girl on the Train

Wow. Ever sit down with a new book, thinking, “I’ll read the first few chapters, then I’ll go do [fill in the blank]” and then you end up not moving for four hours because the book is just that good? It happened to me on Saturday. We’d gotten a copy of The Girl on the Train at the library and I’d heard good things about it, so I checked it out to read. The writer’s name is Paula Hawkins, and this was her first novel – so you never know, right?

Wow. (I think I said that already.) The girl on the train is Rachel, a woman who’s lost her husband and her job due to her alcoholism. She continues to ride the train into London every day, because she’s afraid to tell her roommate that she’s unemployed. As the train passes through the suburbs it slows and often stops at a crossing, and Rachel has the chance to watch a couple in their back garden. She gives them names and imagines an idyllic life for them, transferring what she wishes she still had with her husband to the couple.

Then one day she sees something she shouldn’t have. Or does she? She’s an alcoholic, she has blackouts, she’s an unreliable witness. She goes to the police, but doesn’t think they believe her. She decides to take matters into her own hands – and the consequences are severe.

This is a terrific psychological thriller – not psychological horror, like Stephen King or Dean Koontz can be, but an entirely believable story about entirely believable people whose lives disintegrate in entirely believable ways. I could not put it down. There’s not a word wasted in this book. Hawkins was a journalist first, I believe (and may still be), which probably accounts for that.

In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend The Girl on the Train!

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Launched is scrubbed for now

I went back and forth on the title for this post – Failure to Launch was my other choice, but I decided that “scrubbed” came closer to my meaning.

I’m fortunate to live a little more than an hour’s drive from the Kennedy Space Center. I can see rocket launches from my front yard. When the space shuttle was still flying, I tried to watch as many launches as I could, holding my breath until the solid rocket boosters separated. On a clear day, or at night, you could see that happen; the boosters looked like two small stars floating away from the shuttle as they separated and fell to the ocean.

By Thomas Fawls (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Fawls (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

I only drove to KSC once to see a launch up close. A friend and I got up before dawn and drove down – it was a morning launch. We got situated, surrounded by an excited crowd – and the time came and went for the launch. A couple of minutes later, someone with a radio got the word – the launch had scrubbed with nine seconds to go.

Aauuggghh!!! So close!

I never went back. I settled for watching from my front yard, knowing that if the launch scrubbed I hadn’t wasted nearly an entire day.


The next book in the Jamie Brodie Mysteries series is Avenged to Death, out this fall, then Played to Death, out (I hope) by the end of the year. The book after Played was going to be Launched to Death. The premise was that Pete’s brother Steve would invite Pete and Jamie to view a rocket launch, since he had worked on the rocket or payload somehow. The launch would maybe get scrubbed, maybe not, but there would be a body found near the pad.

Originally I was going to base the book here, bring the boys to Florida, so I could set a story on my home turf. Then I decided that wouldn’t work logistically – the launch would have to be in California, at Vandenberg AFB. Then a whole host of other issues appeared. What the story was turning into was a good twisty mystery, but there was no emotional component to it. I talked it over several times with my writing group pals, and we finally decided to scrub Launched.

That’s not to say that the Launched window has completely closed. I love the plot ideas that we came up with, and if I can think of a way to use them later, I’m going to. But I just wasn’t feeling it – and if I was going to have this book out by next spring, I was going to have to start feeling it pretty quickly.

So the book after Played to Death will be Filmed to Death, which got pushed back a couple of times in the sequence, but is now just begging to be written. My intention is to still have it published by next spring, which coincidentally will be when the book actually takes place. I haven’t pulled that off before. 🙂


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