Category Archives: Books

And we have a winner!

As you can see from the widget to the right, I have once again “won” National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I’ve written the first draft of several of the Jamie Brodie Mysteries this way.

Image_of_a_ghost,_produced_by_double_exposure_in_1899 (1)

By The National Archives UK (Ghostly sighting?) [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

This year I tackled book #17, Haunted to Death, which will be published late next year. It’s the first time that I’ve managed to keep myself from editing as I wrote, which is a bad habit of mine. Even so, I ran out of story at about 47,000 words, and had to supplement it with a couple of new short stories (coming within the next year) and some scenes from Cloistered to Death, the next book in the series, due this spring. (I figure if I wrote it in November, it counts, right?)

Anyway, I am not crazy about Haunted to Death in its current first-draft form, but I guess that’s to be expected. It’s great to know that I can depend on my writing group to fix its flaws eventually.

And I am so glad that November is over.

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing

A snippet from Published to Death

Published to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #15, is coming Wednesday! If you haven’t pre-ordered, you can do so here for Amazon and here for Smashwords. If you already have, thank you so much! The print version will be out a few days after the e-book; I’ll post here when it’s ready.

To whet your appetite, here’s a scene from the first chapter of Published to Death. Enjoy!

22855574_10212922161042635_664222502_n

Jamie Brodie Mystery #15

Dr. Loomis called the meeting to order just as our University Librarian, Dr. Laura Madorsky, entered the room. Dr. Madorsky didn’t typically attend our meetings. Something must be up.

Dr. Loomis said, “First order of business is to welcome Jamie back into the fold. Your sabbatical was productive, I take it?”

“Yes, ma’am. The second draft of the book is finished and the editor has it now. It should be published in about six months.”

Everyone applauded, and I responded with the royal wave, which produced laughter. Dr. Loomis smiled and said, “Wonderful. Our second order of business will be explained by Dr. Madorsky.”

Dr. Madorsky pushed away from the wall where she’d been leaning. “You’ve probably seen flyers around campus announcing this… Beginning tomorrow and running through the end of the week, UCLA is hosting a convention of self-published authors on campus. The primary meetings will be at Carnesale Commons, but there will be sessions scattered throughout different buildings and the exhibit hall is in the Wooden Center. When you’re out and about over the coming days and see a lost conventioneer, please guide them to their destination.”

We all murmured agreement. Dr. Madorsky said, “Thank you. This is a convention of writers, so naturally it involves books. The self-publishing field is expanding rapidly, and it’s an area in which academic libraries have had minimal impact. I’d like to change that. It’s critical that we’re aware of what’s happening in all areas of publishing. Gina Marsh from Powell and Karen Lewis from the biomedical library are attending the conference, but I’d like to send one or two of you from YRL as well.”

We all glanced at each other. Lola, the scholar of classical literature, looked horrified. Dr. Madorsky continued. “Much of self-publishing is in e-book format, and much of the marketing occurs through social media. Kristen, unless you have a compelling reason that you can’t, I’d like you to attend. See what’s trending in the world of book-related social media.”

Kristen Beach – fellow librarian and my brother Kevin’s girlfriend – was our communications and digital humanities specialist. Dr. Madorsky’s request made sense. Kristen said, “I’d enjoy that. Thank you.”

Dr. Madorsky smiled. “Thank you.”

Kristen said, “I think Jamie should go, too. Since he’s currently immersed in the publishing process.”

What?? I said, “Uh…”

Dr. Madorsky raised an eyebrow. “Excellent idea. Jamie?”

Liz was smirking. Frank Villareal and Katrina Johnson were hiding smiles. I said weakly, “Sure. That’d be great.”

“Wonderful.” Dr. Madorsky handed Dr. Loomis a folder, which she passed down the table to us. “The conference schedule is in that packet. I’ll look forward to your report. Madeline, thank you.”

Dr. Loomis saw Dr. Madorsky out, then turned to us. “Kristen? Jamie? Do you have everything prepared for the new quarter?”

Unfortunately, I did. I’d combed through all of my research guides last week. I should have waited. I said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Kristen said, “I do.”

“All right.” Dr. Loomis gave me an amused smile. “Looks like you’re going to a convention. Now, third order of business…”

7 Comments

Filed under Books, Publishing

Published to Death is ready for pre-order!

Whew! I am so happy to have this done before Thanksgiving! You can now order the e-book of Published to Death at either Amazon or Smashwords. The Smashwords affiliates sites (Kobo, etc.) should be available in a couple of days. The book will be released on Wednesday, November 29. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mercedes Moran is one of the stars of the self-publishing world, a romance author who’s made millions by selling 99 cent romance novels through all of the ebook platforms. Her fan base is enormous – but Mercedes is a horrible person, and she’s made plenty of enemies, too.

The Association of Self-Publishing is holding its annual conference on UCLA’s campus, and Mercedes is the keynote speaker. When Jamie Brodie and Kristen Beach attend the keynote at the encouragement of their supervisors, they get an earful from other conference-goers about Mercedes. But it’s nothing to do with them.

Until Mercedes turns up dead in the back of the exhibit hall.

Kevin Brodie and Jon Eckhoff are on the case, and they enlist Jamie’s and Kristen’s help with navigating the world of self-published authors. But the case takes a turn for the weird when Kevin and Jon are joined by a lieutenant from Internal Affairs, who claims to be brushing up on his investigative skills – and who only speaks in clichés.

Who killed Mercedes? Why is a desk jockey from Internal Affairs dogging Kevin and Jon’s every step? And why do so many covers of male-male romance novels feature headless torsos??

22855574_10212922161042635_664222502_n

Jamie Brodie Mystery #15

6 Comments

Filed under Books, Publishing

Once more into the breach…

Image_of_a_ghost,_produced_by_double_exposure_in_1899 (1)

By The National Archives UK (Ghostly sighting?) [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Halloween! Truth is, I’m not a huge fan. I’m far more interested in what comes after – November 2, All Souls Day, the day in the Christian faith that we set aside to honor the dead. That’s not a “thing” in America. I think that’s unfortunate.

But there’s another reason that the beginning of November is exciting. Yes, once again, I am “competing” in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for short. It’s not much of a competition, really; everyone can win, as long as you write at least 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November.

I’ve written the first drafts of several of the Jamie Brodie Mysteries during NaNo. Researched to Death, Psyched to Death, Talked to Death, and Trapped to Death all began their lives during NaNo. This year, I’m tackling the book that will be JBM #17: Haunted to Death.

Haunted will take place in late summer of 2018. (It won’t be published until next November.) The entire Brodie clan is headed to Scotland on holiday, to stay in Brodie Castle and attend a clan gathering in Forres, the nearby town. Brodie Castle in reality isn’t haunted, but there was a tragic death there in the 1700s – and that will form the basis of a ghost story involving spontaneous human combustion, a vast conspiracy, old feuds, and a local constable who knows more than he’s telling.

I’m excited to start writing tomorrow! You can follow my progress with the widget to the right of this page.

3 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing

Cover reveal: Published to Death!

Ta-da!! The book is scheduled to be Published (ha!) just after Thanksgiving.

22855574_10212922161042635_664222502_n

Jamie Brodie Mystery #15

Mercedes Moran is one of the stars of the self-publishing world, a romance author who’s made millions by selling 99 cent romance novels through all of the ebook platforms. Her fan base is enormous – but Mercedes is a horrible person, and she’s made plenty of enemies, too.

The Association of Self-Publishing is holding its annual conference on UCLA’s campus, and Mercedes is the keynote speaker. When Jamie Brodie and Kristen Beach attend the keynote at the encouragement of their supervisors, they get an earful from other conference-goers about Mercedes. But it’s nothing to do with them.

Until Mercedes turns up dead in the back of the exhibit hall.

Kevin Brodie and Jon Eckhoff are on the case, and they enlist Jamie’s and Kristen’s help with navigating the world of self-published authors. But the case takes a turn for the weird when Kevin and Jon are joined by a lieutenant from Internal Affairs, who claims to be brushing up on his investigative skills – and who only speaks in clichés.

Who killed Mercedes? Why is a desk jockey from Internal Affairs dogging Kevin and Jon’s every step? And why do so many covers of male-male romance novels feature headless torsos??

6 Comments

Filed under Books, Publishing

Free, new Jamie Brodie short story!

Introducing the first new short story since the release of Dirty Laundry! Jamie’s sabbatical has just ended, and he’ll be heading back to work after twelve weeks away. The story takes place (in real time) over last weekend, 9/23 and 9/24.

The next book in the Jamie series, Published to Death, begins on Jamie’s first day back at work – in other words, immediately after this story – but it won’t be released until November. Because reasons. Anyway. Without further ado, allow me to present It’s A Whole New Ball Game. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Home Sweet Home

At last.

Pete maneuvered the CR-V into the parking spot behind our townhouse and cut the engine. In the back seat our yellow Lab, Ammo, scrambled to his feet and tugged on his car harness, panting happily, his tail whacking the back of my headrest.

We were home.

We’d spent eight weeks in the UK and four in New Mexico. My sabbatical was over. The second draft of the book I’d written was with my editor, and I was due back at work on Monday.

We didn’t have much time to regroup. Pete’s 18-year-old niece, Samantha Fernandez, would arrive tomorrow evening with her parents, Christine and Andy, to move into student housing at UCLA. Pete was already four weeks into his new career as an adjunct instructor in Arizona State’s online psychology program, and his students’ initial papers were coming due. I had three months’ worth of email to plow through, and classes commenced on Thursday.

The coming week promised to be a whirlwind.

We unloaded the car and walked the dog. Back in the house, Ammo undertook an olfactory survey of each room, seeking scents that didn’t belong. Pete and I stood in the center of the living room and looked at each other. Now what?

I said, “Do you want to get groceries?”

“No. I don’t want to get back in the car until tomorrow. Do you want to unpack?”

“No. I’m not up for laundry tonight. Do you want to go through the mail?”

“No. I’m too tired to read it. Do you want to get something to eat?”

I wasn’t terribly hungry, but… “I guess. But not Indian food.” We’d eaten our fill of curry while in the UK.

Garnelen_im_Verkauf_fcm

By Frank C. Müller (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Agreed. Seafood?”

“Sure.” We’d been without seafood for four weeks. There wasn’t much to be had in Alamogordo.

We headed west on Wilshire toward the seafood market. Pete surveyed the businesses on either side of the street. “It’s like we never left.”

“It’s only been three months.”

“I know.” He kicked at a pebble and sent it skittering into the street. “Monday’s gonna be weird.”

I glanced at him. “Weird how?”

“Staying home. It’s the first day that you’ll go off to work and I won’t.”

“Are you having second thoughts?” Pete’s decision to leave his faculty position at Santa Monica College had been made under somewhat hasty conditions.

“Not at all. It’s just…” He shrugged. “Standing at the door, waving as you walk to the bus, saying, ‘Bye, dear, have a nice day…’ It all feels awfully housewifely.”

“Heteronormative, in other words?”

“Yeah. Except the roles that I anticipated before I knew better are entirely flipped now. You’re the breadwinner, marching to the office every day, and I’m the stay-at-home.” He frowned. “I never considered that it might feel like this.”

After five years of living with Pete, I knew better than to attempt an application of logic to his feelings. “Okay, what can we do to make it feel different to you? I’m not really the breadwinner; you will be working, after all. Earning your own money. How can we emphasize that?”

We stopped to wait at a crosswalk, and he gave me a sideways grin. “You are such a man of action.”

I laughed. “Yeah, right. I’m serious.”

“And it’s an excellent idea. I guess I could fiddle with the arrangement for my workspace. Maybe I can make it seem less like I’m at home.”

“There you go. And no slumming in your skivvies on the sofa. You have to get dressed and work in the office.”

The Walk signal appeared, and we crossed the street. Pete said, “I should draw up a schedule. Decide when I’m going to start and stop working every day.”

“Yes. I bet we could find a time clock app for you, if that would help.”

“It might. And I want to pay for my COBRA out of my own account.”

“Sure.” We maintained a joint bank account for joint expenses, and individual accounts for what we officially referred to as “other stuff.” I wasn’t able to add Pete to my own insurance until January.

We reached the restaurant, and Pete opened the door for me. “After you, sir.”

I grinned. Maybe holding the door for me would help Pete’s emotional state as well. “As you wish.”

 

Sunday, September 24

In A Whole Different League

After a lengthy trip to the grocery store, I spent the rest of Sunday morning unpacking and doing laundry. Pete switched his office chair to the opposite side of our desk, so he’d sit facing his bookshelves rather than the oh-so-comfy sofa bed. I located and downloaded an app to his phone that would allow him to clock in and out.

I was folding t-shirts when Pete came downstairs. “I’m not sure I care for the new desk arrangement. Maybe it’s the ex-cop in me, but sitting with my back to the room feels uncomfortable.”

“You can always switch it back.”

“True.” He took a bottle of water from the fridge and cracked it open. “I had another idea. Whichever of us packs your lunch for the coming day should pack one for me, too.”

“Ah, that’s smart. Eating out of plastic containers will make you feel as if you’re not at home.”

“Yeah. Now I just have to discipline myself to stay out of the garden while I’m supposed to be working.”

I smiled at that. “Hey, if your work is done? Clock out and go home. So to speak.”

“Thank you for working this out with me.”

“You’re welcome.” I hefted a tall stack of shirts and underwear. “You can repay me by carrying those to the bedroom.”

He grinned and accepted the armful of clothing. “I hope you don’t expect me to do laundry, since I’m gonna be home all day.”

“Ha! You’d better not. The laundry is mine.”

 

Having been out of the country all summer, Pete and I had missed a lot of baseball – and the season was coming to a close. My brother Kevin had tickets to the Dodgers-Padres game this afternoon, and Dad and my nephew Gabe were driving up from Oceanside to

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By No machine-readable author provided. Imageman~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

join us.

Pete and I met the others at Dodger Stadium and hit the concession stands. We loaded up with Dodger Dogs and beer – soda for Gabe, of course – and climbed to our seats.

Dad went in first, followed by me, Pete, Gabe, Kristen and Kevin. The seats on the other side of Dad were occupied by four middle-aged ladies, all wearing Dodgers gear of various sorts. The one closest to Dad had a program open to the scorekeeping page and a pen in her hand.

As we sorted our food and drink, the woman on the other side of the scorekeeper raised her beer to us, spotting Dad’s Padres cap. “Hi there! Don’t tell me you’re Padres fans.”

Dad grinned. “Only half of us.”

The woman on the far side of the one who’d spoken said flirtatiously, “Which half?”

Dad laughed and pointed to Kevin. “Half of him,” – he pointed to me – “half of him, and all of my grandson and me.”

The woman with the scorecard said to me, “How do you get to be half of a Padres fan?”

I said, “We grew up in San Diego but have lived here for years.”

“Ah. Exactly the opposite of me.” She smiled. “I grew up here but have lived in San Diego for years.”

Dad asked, “And you’re not half a Padres fan?”

She chuckled. “I’ll root for the Padres when it won’t hurt the Dodgers.” She held out her hand. “I’m Claudia.”

Dad shook her hand. “Pleased to meet you, Claudia. I’m Dave.”

I took a closer look at Claudia. She was wearing a Dodgers cap over a blunt haircut – straight strands of strawberry blond hair, probably dyed, fell about an inch below the bottom of the cap. She had blue eyes with laugh lines in the corners, and just enough tan to look healthy. She was wearing a tank top and Bermuda shorts, and her arms and legs were toned. I stole a quick glance at her feet: socks and sneakers. Practical and comfortable.

Hm.

Gabe was chattering to Kristen about school; Pete was busy eating. I pretended to concentrate on my hot dog but continued to eavesdrop on Dad’s conversation with Claudia. He asked her, “What part of San Diego?”

“Carlsbad. What part of LA?”

“Oh, I live in Oceanside. My sons live here, in Westwood and Santa Monica.”

Claudia peered around Dad at me, just as I stuffed a bite of hot dog into my face. She grinned. “I certainly see the resemblance. Are you the dad of yonder grandson?”

I shook my head and tried to chew faster. Dad said, “No, yonder grandson’s dad is my oldest son. He didn’t come with us. Jamie’s my youngest, and Kevin, down on the end, is my middle boy.”

I snuck a surreptitious glance at Claudia’s ring finger. Empty. Claudia asked me, “How did you end up in LA?”

“I came to UCLA for library school and decided to stay. How did you end up in Carlsbad?”

“I spent the second half of my career in San Diego and decided to stay. What do you do?”

“I’m a librarian at UCLA.” I thought, I’ll ask the questions so Dad won’t have to. “Are you retired, then?”

“Yes, for two years. I was a pharmacist first, but when my husband died I needed more income. So I became a pharmaceutical rep, and San Diego was my assigned territory.” She held up her hands in mock surrender. “Don’t judge me.”

Widowed, not divorced. That was a plus. Dad said, “Hey, you do what you have to, right? My niece is a pharmacist.” My cousin Carly.

Stone mortar

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Claudia said, “Oh, nearby?”

“No, she’s in Wilmington, North Carolina.”

I asked, “How do you like retirement?”

“I love it.”

The first batter walked to home plate and the crowd began to cheer. Dad nodded at Claudia’s scorecard. “Do you keep score?”

“Yeah.” Claudia grinned at Dad. “I guess I’d better pay attention.”

Dad grinned back. “I guess you’d better.”

Pete had finished his first hot dog. He leaned over to me and whispered, “What’s going on over there?”

“Flirting.”

Excellent.”

For the next couple of hours I kept one ear on the ball game and one on Dad and Claudia. They mostly stuck to the topic of baseball. Claudia was very knowledgeable. Her parents had begun taking her to Dodgers games before she was born, and she was an encyclopedia of Dodgers history.

They didn’t talk exclusively about baseball, however. They exchanged last names – Claudia’s was Stratton. The women with her – Nancy, Kathy and Deb – had been her best friends since high school.

Claudia had two standard poodles. She lived in the southern half of Carlsbad. She had a vegetable garden, enjoyed travel and, after retiring, had taken up windsurfing.

During the fifth inning Pete leaned over and whispered, “How’s it going over there?”

“So far so good.”

After the sixth inning Dad excused himself and went to the men’s room. Claudia looked across his seat at me and smiled. “Your name is Jamie?”

“Yes, ma’am. It’s Jeremy, actually, but my oldest brother couldn’t pronounce that as a toddler, and his version stuck.”

She chuckled. “Are you married?”

“Yes, ma’am.” I steeled myself – this might wreck Dad’s chances – and pointed at Pete. “To this guy.”

I needn’t have worried. Claudia was delighted. “Oh, that’s wonderful. Congratulations.”

“Thank you.” I nudged Pete. “Pete, this is Claudia.”

Pete reached across me to shake hands. “Pete Ferguson. I’m glad to meet you.”

“Claudia Stratton. My pleasure.” She nodded at Kevin. “Is your brother down there married?”

I said, “No, ma’am. That’s his girlfriend, Kristen. May I ask – are you Dr. Stratton?”

She nodded. “I have a Pharm.D. Gone are the days when you can work as a pharmacist with only a master’s degree.”

“What kind of pharmaceuticals did you represent?”

“Anesthetics and IV pain meds. My customers were hospitals and outpatient clinics.”

“Glad to hear you weren’t pushing the overuse of antibiotics.”

She grimaced. “No way. Do you have a healthcare background?”

“No, no. I dated a paramedic years ago. And my oldest brother – Gabe’s dad – is a veterinarian.”

“In Oceanside?”

“Yes, ma’am. He’s the large animal vet at Miracosta Animal Hospital.”

Dad came back with popcorn and another soda for Gabe. “Did I miss anything?”

Claudia showed him the scorecard. “A walk and a strikeout so far.”

“Good.” Dad settled into his seat, giving me a sideways grin as he did.

Uh huh.

By the end of the game Dad and Claudia had exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet for lunch on Wednesday. Claudia was the designated driver for her group; Nancy, Kathy and Deb were milling around the aisle somewhat drunkenly. Claudia shook her head, laughing. “I’d better corral these three before they cause an incident. Jamie, Pete, it was great to meet you. Dave – I’m looking forward to Wednesday.”

“Me too.”

Dad and Claudia shook hands, and she hustled her friends up the steps toward the exit. Dad watched them go; at the top of the steps, Claudia turned and waved. Dad waved back.

I said, “That went well.”

“It did, didn’t it?” Dad grinned. “We’ll see what happens Wednesday.”

Kevin said, “What’s happening Wednesday?”

I said, “Dad has a lunch date with the woman he was sitting beside.”

Kristen said, “I thought there was some getting-to-know-you going on down there.”

Kevin was astounded. “What? Who is this woman?”

I said, “Claudia Stratton, widow, retired pharmacist, lives in Carlsbad, windsurfs, knows how to keep score. I like her.”

Kevin shook his head like a dog shaking water from its fur. “What?

Pete said, “Claudia from Carlsbad. Try to keep up.”

Dad just laughed.

 

A couple of hours after we got home Dad texted me. Home safe, talk to you soon.

About an hour after that, Jeff texted me. Busy?

No.

My phone rang. I said, “Hi there.”

Jeff said, “So, Gabe is reporting that Dad has a new girlfriend.”

“Ha! Hardly.” I explained. “They never stopped talking through the entire game, and they’re having lunch on Wednesday. Signs are favorable, but it was only one afternoon.”

“How does she compare to Barb?” Dad’s last girlfriend, with whom he’d broken up a year and a half ago.

I didn’t even have to think about that. “She doesn’t. Claudia is in a whole different league, and she has dogs. But it’s way too early to speculate.”

Jeff sounded skeptical. “Hm. Okay.”

I laughed. “Relax. It’s probably won’t go anywhere.”

Jeff said, “Uh huh.”

When I hung up Pete said, “You don’t believe what you said.”

“I don’t believe what?”

“That Dave and Claudia won’t go anywhere.”

I crossed my arms. “You don’t believe in gut feelings, do you?”

“No.” Pete grinned. “But in this case, I’d say the evidence so far supports your gut.”

The buzzer sounded on the dryer, saving me from having to examine my guts any further. I said, “We’ll see.”

10 Comments

Filed under Books, Short Stories

I’m featured at Josh Lanyon’s blog today!

Josh Lanyon has a regular feature on her blog called Author! Author! Every month she interviews a different m/m mystery or romance writer – and this month I’m the lucky interviewee! You can read it here.

I’ve been neglecting Jamie and Pete for the past week or so, thanks to this unlovely lady:

21457942_1775841795789423_6361884645929817029_o.jpg (1041×628)

But my house is undamaged and the power is back. So it’s back to work for me!

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Writing