Category Archives: Books

It’s Release Day!

Woohoo!! Promoted to Death is now available, through all e-book outlets. Here are the links to Amazon and to Smashwords. If you pre-ordered (Thanks!!) it should be on your reader by now.

Enjoy!

Elaine Pareja didn’t have any fans among her colleagues in the psychology department at Santa Monica College. When her promotion application is denied and she is terminated, no one is sorry to see her go. When Elaine is reinstated for no apparent reason, it causes a revolt in the department. When she turns up dead, her colleagues turn into suspects. But Elaine was a keeper of secrets – other people’s, and her own. Jamie Brodie and his friend, business librarian Sheila Meadows, join forces with the police to pick their way through the tangled web of Elaine’s life, searching for the thread that led to her death.

Promoted 1

Jamie Brodie Mystery #14

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Promoted to Death ready for pre-order!

Finally! 😀 Promoted to Death is available for pre-order (e-book formats) at both Smashwords and Amazon. Release date is May 31. The print version will be out by the end of June.

Promoted 1

Jamie Brodie Mystery #14

Elaine Pareja didn’t have any fans among her colleagues in the psychology department at Santa Monica College. When her promotion application is denied and she is terminated, no one is sorry to see her go. When Elaine is reinstated for no apparent reason, it causes a revolt in the department. When she turns up dead, her colleagues turn into suspects. But Elaine was a keeper of secrets – other people’s, and her own. Jamie Brodie and his friend, business librarian Sheila Meadows, join forces with the police to pick their way through the tangled web of Elaine’s life, searching for the thread that led to her death.

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You’re invited to a party!

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This weekend – even as we speak! – the Josh Lanyon Fan Page is throwing a launch party for Josh’s new book, The Monet Murders, due out next week. Josh has been incredibly gracious and invited several other authors to guest host the party for an hour – including little ol’ me!

The party is at this address: https://www.facebook.com/events/378201799240646/ 

Formal wear not required. I may still be in my pajamas. 😀

I’ll be hosting from 2:00-3:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time, tomorrow afternoon. I’ll talk about Jamie and Pete, I’ll post a new excerpt from Promoted to Death, and I’m giving away two books!

I’m SO excited. I hope you can join me! If you’re a fan of Josh’s as well, head on over there now. They’re giving away all kinds of stuff!

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Cover Reveal: Promoted to Death!

We’re getting close! My editor is editing away – he has other projects too so isn’t positive exactly when he’ll be finished, but it will be around the third week of May. In the meantime, here are the cover and blurb! Enjoy!

Elaine Pareja didn’t have any fans among her colleagues in the psychology department at Santa Monica College. When her promotion application is denied and she is terminated, no one is sorry to see her go. When Elaine is reinstated for no apparent reason, it causes a revolt in the department. When she turns up dead, her colleagues turn into suspects. But Elaine was a keeper of secrets – other people’s, and her own. Jamie Brodie and his friend, business librarian Sheila Meadows, join forces with the police to pick their way through the tangled web of Elaine’s life, searching for the thread that led to her death.

Promoted 1

Jamie Brodie Mystery #14

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Excerpt: Promoted to Death

It’s Mardi Gras week! That doesn’t have a thing to do with Promoted to Death, but I figured it’s as good a reason as any to post an excerpt. 😀  The book is still on schedule for a May publication date. Here’s a little something to wet your whistle.

To set the scene, Pete has just come home from work, having picked up dinner from a Middle Eastern restaurant near Santa Monica College.

 

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By Jason Hollinger – Baklava, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50595145

In the kitchen, I unbagged the food while Pete opened bottles of beer for both of us. I said, “Baklava! Yum.”

“I figured we both deserved it.” He flopped down at the table and took a long drink.

“A kerfuffle, huh?”

“Yeah.” He took a bite of dolmeh. “The agenda for tomorrow’s board meeting is out. It’s a special meeting to approve faculty promotions.”

“And?”

“Curtis got promoted. Elaine didn’t.”

Curtis Glover and Elaine Pareja were two of Pete’s fellow psychology instructors. I’d met Elaine at a wedding two years ago and didn’t care for her. I said, “You expected that outcome, right?”

Pete said, “Yeah, but apparently Elaine didn’t. I heard her yelling in Verlene’s office as I was leaving. Elliott was with them.” Elliott Conklin was the assistant chair of Pete’s department.

I swiped a section of pita bread through hummus. “But that doesn’t mean she has to resign, right? She can apply again?”

“It depends. This was a third-phase evaluation, meaning that she’s been rated twice by two separate panels as ‘needs continued evaluation’ and has been on an improvement plan for two years. Getting turned down this time means the decision goes to the president and academic dean.”

“The improvement plan didn’t work.”

“Not to the satisfaction of the panel.”

I knew that promotion applications at SMC were evaluated by a panel of three other faculty members. “Were you ever on her panel?”

Pete grimaced as he sliced into a dolmeh. “No, thank God.”

“Why does she continue to get turned down?”

“There are a lot of factors that go into the decision. Retention rates, course materials, professional development activities, self-assessments, student evaluations, peer evaluations, collegiality, service to the college.”

I said, “I suppose collegiality isn’t her strong suit.” Pete had described Elaine to me as a “suck-up” to the administration in the past.

“Right. Plus she flunks about 40% of every class, her student evaluations are consistently terrible, and she’s weak in professional development. The conferences she goes to aren’t related to what she teaches, she’s the only person in the department without a doctorate, and she has regular meltdowns in department meetings.”

“About what?

He snorted. “You name it. Last time it was because Verlene wouldn’t approve a separate printer for her office.”

“Why can’t she use the department printer?”

Exactly.” Pete picked up a slice of baklava. “She’s unstable, in my opinion.”

“Another example of someone who majored in psychology to figure out her own problems?”

“I don’t think Elaine believes that she has any problems. Everyone else is the problem.”

“Ugh. So – no promotion, no raise?”

“She’ll receive her step raise, if they don’t fire her, but she won’t get the bigger bump for moving from group II to group III. If she’d get a Ph.D., she’d automatically move to group VII.”

Pete had told me that at SMC, salary was determined by years of service and the classification group you were in. Group classification was based on education and experience. The higher the group number, the higher the salary. Ph.D.s were automatically assigned to the highest group.

I said, “Without a Ph.D., can she ever reach Professor?”

“She could, but not until the end of her 20th year on faculty. And that’s assuming she made Associate Professor this time. Which she hasn’t.”

“Sounds to me like she’d recoup the cost of a Ph.D., if it would move her to the highest group.”

Pete said, “The college would pay for it. But she’s so stubborn. She may have decided against it just because Verlene advised it.” He sighed. “Damn. The atmosphere at the office will be tense.”

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Don’t kill the dog!

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HOW COULD YOU??? By Gilliamhome’s Olympus E3 and Evolt 500 Page – Flickr: Hoss, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21292208

I was reading a book the other night where the hero adopts a puppy. Then the worst thing ever happens – the dog dies. And not just dies, but is gruesomely murdered by the killer as a message to the hero.

Aaaaagggggghhhhhh!!

It should be the first rule of writing. DON’T KILL THE DOG.

It makes me less anxious to read anything else by this author. Will he kill more dogs? I don’t want to take the chance.

I was telling a writer friend about this, and we decided there should be universal writing rules, regardless of genre.

  1. Don’t kill the dog.
  2. Don’t make the entire story turn out to be a dream. (A la Dallas, for those of you who remember.)
  3. Sex scenes must be physically possible to replicate.

There are other rules that apply to the mystery genre in particular – you can’t introduce the killer at the end of the book, you can’t have the crime solved by intuition. But across genres, I think these three rules are a fine starting point.

What other rules are there? What do you HATE to see a writer do? What makes you stop reading?

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What I’m reading now: The Enzo Macleod Mysteries

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Public domain. Wikimedia Commons.

When I travel, I like to visit the local bookstores. I’ve found some great stuff in UK bookstores that I’d never find in the US. This past summer, I came across a mystery series written about a Scottish forensic biologist, Enzo Macleod. The author’s name is Peter May. I bought the first two in the series.

I hadn’t gotten around to reading the first one – Extraordinary People – until now. I was disappointed to find that the books don’t actually take place in Scotland, but in France. Enzo Macleod has moved to France and is teaching at a university. It’s not that I don’t like books set in France. I just like books set in Scotland better. 😀

But other than that, it was terrific. Macleod has bet some local officials that he can use new forensic techniques to solve old crimes. A reporter has published a book about the seven most famous unsolved murders in France, and the bet is that Macleod can solve them. The first unsolved murder was of a well-known political figure and TV personality. At least, it’s assumed he was murdered – the body was never found. Macleod’s quest takes him all over France, and the story kept me guessing until the end.

I’m about to begin the second in the series, The Critic. The victim in this case was a wine critic. That’s all I know so far.

If you enjoy a well-plotted mystery with well-drawn characters, regardless of where it takes place, you’ll enjoy these.

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