Category Archives: Travel

Marking the passage of time

I’ve spent most of my life moving to the rhythms of the academic calendar. That’s why today, the first day that our students are back in class, feels like New Year’s Day – not that day two weeks ago with the football games. 😀 Of course, the new year really begins in August. There’s an excitement to the start of a new academic year, with the fall semester/term/quarter, that isn’t the same in spring.

Fall term says, “Let’s go! It’ll be great!”

Spring term says, “Ugh. Let’s trudge through this. Spring break is only two months away.”


The Janss Steps on UCLA’s campus, looking up from Wilson Plaza

I’ve never attended or worked for a school that operates on the quarter system, like UCLA does. Their quarters are 10 weeks long, so fall term doesn’t begin until late September. Nice! But they pay for it. Winter quarter runs from early January through late March, and spring quarter runs from late March through mid-June. And they don’t even get a real spring break between; they get a three-day weekend, around Cesar Chavez holiday.

It would be difficult to move from semesters to quarters. I wouldn’t want to try.

Jamie Brodie would have gotten used to a type of quarter system at Oxford while he was studying there. If you want to see a weird academic calendar, check this out. Jamie’s never complained to me about the quarter system – 😀 😀 😀 – so I guess he’s used to it.

This spring , he’ll have plenty to keep him occupied. The entire story of Cloistered to Death fits into UCLA’s spring quarter.



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What’s going ON!

The picture to the left is the library at Trinity College, Dublin. I got to see the Book of Kells but no photos are allowed. It’s bigger than I expected.




Holy cow, this summer is flying by! I spent two weeks in Ireland in June – SO GORGEOUS – and still feel somewhat discombobulated in terms of being organized. Or, in my case, DISorganized. My office is a mess, my house is a mess… Yikes!

But I have not been entirely idle! I haven’t been doing a TON of writing, but I’ve been doing little things which all have to take place eventually. Such as:

  • I’m grinding out the nitty-gritty changes that need to be made to the next book, Published to Death, with my writing group, and also writing a short story which will be included at the end of that book. It’s still on track for November publication.
  • The short story anthology is complete! It’s titled Dirty Laundry, and will be available at the end of August. Warning: the anthology is 107,000 words, so I’m going to charge a little extra for it. There is plenty of new content, plus all of the old short stories that you’ve seen in books or here on the blog. It’s been a lot of fun to put together.
  • The first week of August, I’m going to Los Angeles for a couple of days! I plan to visit UCLA’s campus and Jamie’s library, and see how badly I’ve messed up the placement of the reference desk. 😀 I also want to eat at some of the boys’ favorite restaurants, and walk down their block in Santa Monica. I promise lots of photos!

Speaking of photos – here’s another from Ireland. The Dingle Peninsula, the southwesternmost section of the country.



Filed under Books, Travel

What I did on my spring break vacation

Ah, spring break. An entire week off. Do I travel? Do I stay home and putter? Decisions,IMG_0179 decisions…







This year, the decision was easy. I joined a meetup of the Fanyons at Catalina Island. For those of you who may not know, the Fanyons are a large group of fans of Josh Lanyon’s. It was a chance for me to meet several of my favorite authors, and to visit California. I’d never been.IMG_0126








I had a blast! Catalina is gorgeous. There was a lot of fog when we were there, but it was very atmospheric. I caught up with some people I already knew, and got to meet some I only knew through Facebook.

I was also fortunate to have a writing consultation with Nicole Kimberling, a superb gay mystery writer (The Bellingham Mysteries) and editor at Blind Eye Books. She had all sorts of suggestions for the books, about which you’ll hear more later.

IMG_0172If you’re looking for an exotic island vacation, I highly recommend Catalina. No passport necessary!


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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.


Filed under Books, Travel

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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Highland Games!

I’d never been to a Scottish Highland Games festival before yesterday. This weekend, the Central Florida version took place, and a couple of friends and I drove over. What a great time! It’s definitely going to be a yearly event for us.

Bagpipe competitions

Bagpipe competitions

Fish and chips for lunch

Fish and chips for lunch

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There was also a pipe and drum band competition, and a border collie demonstration. We couldn’t get close enough to see the caber toss, except for the top of the poles. I joined one of my clans – one that I’ve learned through genealogy that I can claim membership in – the Elliott clan.

It was a great day!

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