Friday, August 18, 2017

Sneak Peek - MURDER TAKES THE HIGH ROAD

You will be amazed to hear I've had to do a bit of reshuffling my schedule once again. It's just that kind of year. We've got family visiting, I've got the usual big summer music gig at the end of the month, and a looming deadline for Carina Press. So I've jumped from Blind Side to Murder Takes the High Road in order to hit that deadline.

Blind Side is still going to happen, never fear. It's just being postponed a few more weeks. In the meantime, I'm enjoying reliving memories of my trip to Scotland a couple of years back. I'm using our tour itinerary, though changing names of hotels and so forth so as to not get sued by people with no sense of humor about murder occurring under their roof.

The unofficial blurb:
Vacationing librarian Carter Matheson must solve the murder of fellow tourists when someone begins picking off members of a mystery-themed bus tour traveling through the scenic highlands and islands of Scotland.


It's pretty much a classic cozy mystery with a generous dollop of romance and sex.

Here's an unedited excerpt:

 A gust of windy rain hit the small window in the corner. It sounded—and felt—like someone had thrown ice tacks at the glass. I opened my suitcase and dug around for the least wrinkled shirt I could find, and ended up selecting a black soft-wash long sleeve crew T-shirt. I remembered enough from my country dance days to know a ceilidh was not a formal event.

The door rattled noisily in its frame as someone banged on it.

“At this point the handyman's just going to be in the way,” I grumbled.

John leaned out of the bathroom and opened the door.

Trevor stood on the landing wearing a ferocious scowl and the blue cashmere sweater I’d bought him for his thirty-ninth birthday.

 “It’s for you,” John told me.

I gave him the look that speaks volumes, as we say in the librarian biz.

Trevor, too, was giving him a look. “Do you mind?” he said.


“Yep. I do,” John replied. “I’ve got thirteen minutes left to get ready for dinner and you’re about to take up way too many of them.” He withdrew into the bathroom once more, though the door remained open.
“Fine. Whatever.” Trevor swung back to me and realigned his glare. “How dare you go around telling everybody that Vance tried to shove you in front of a car?”

There wasn’t time to stop and argue. I hastily kicked out of the blue jeans I’d been wearing all day and pulled on a clean pair of black jeans. “I never said that.”

“Bullshit, Carter. Everyone on the bus was whispering about it.”

“I can’t help what people saw.” Okay, yes, I probably could have phrased that more tactfully. Trevor’s face got redder. I said quickly, “What they think they saw.”

“You sure didn’t try to correct them.”

I pawed through my suitcase for a clean pair of socks. It wasn’t that I didn’t have plenty of clean clothes, but from the state of my suitcase, you’d think Hamish had thrown our suitcases down a cliffside before stowing them in the bus’s luggage compartment. I threw a harassed look over my shoulder. “How do you know what I did or didn’t do?”

“I know you, Carter. I know how you operate. You’re doing everything you can to ruin this trip for me.”

That got my attention. I stopped digging through my suitcase, and straightened up so fast I’m surprised I didn’t throw my back out. “Explain how I’m ruining this trip for you?”

“Every time I turn around, there you are again with that accusing stare.”

Really?” John said from the bathroom. I think both Trevor and I had forgotten he was still in there.  I certainly hadn’t thought he could hear us over the sound of running water. We both stared at him, framed in the bathroom doorway, slowly, deliberately drawing the razor across his square jaw. He scraped away another snowy drift of shaving cream and said to Trevor, “Because you’re the one who keeps showing up at our door.”

 “Our?” Trevor looked even more taken aback. “How does this involve you?”

“It’s my room. Half my room.”

I think it genuinely threw Trevor. In any event it was a second or two before he turned back to me. “Do you really want to do this here?” he asked in a tone I knew only too well.

“I don’t want to do it at all. Look, I’m not accusing Vance of anything. I don’t think he deliberately pushed me into the road. If you’d shut up about it, people would lose interest in the subject.”

“He’s right,” John said.

“Nobody asked you,” Trevor snapped.

“If you’re going to have this conversation in my room, then I have a right to express my opinion.”

It probably wasn’t funny, but somehow at that moment, it seemed funny.

Trevor opened his mouth but I cut him off.  “Okay, time out. In fact, game over. Trevor, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not leaving the tour. And if that’s going to ruin it for you, sorry. I have every much right to be here as you do.”

“This is just more of your passive-aggressive—”

“Uh, no,” John said, rinsing off his razor. “That’s aggressive-aggressive.”

Will you keep out of it?” Trevor shouted. “This isn’t any of your business.”

The lights flickered and went out. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farewell, my Lovelies


Angel's Flight
A couple of weeks ago, the SO and I went on a tour of Old Los Angeles. Well, Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles, not OLD (as in Spanish) LA. Anyway, I haven't been downtown--really downtown--in decades, although I do write about the area in stories like Snowball in Hell.

We rode the train down to Union Station and then walked from Union Station to a little oasis in the heart of Hell, known as Daily Dose Cafe where we had breakfast and waited for the tour group to arrive.

The tour was organized by a company known as Esotouric, and they describe themselves as Bus Adventures into the Secret Heart of Los Angeles. They're a bit informal, a little...on the zany side (I don't see that as a bad thing), and they definitely know their stuff. I'd like to have switched out the stop at Larry Edmunds Bookshop (the loose inspiration for Geiger's Bookstore in The Big Sleep) near Musso & Frank's for the Bradbury Building, but other than that I really enjoyed every single stop.

Probably the coolest moment for me was a completely personal (and a little weird) intersection of worlds. We were headed back from Hollywood and I suddenly started thinking that the streets looked familiar. Really familiar. I began looking for landmarks, and we suddenly passed through the intersection of a street called Bonnie Brae. Bonnie Brae is where my grandparents lived--it's where my mom lived when my dad started dating her. Later my aunt and uncle lived there and I was often there playing with my cousins. Which isn't all that remarkable, except that the last time I was there I was about four. Four years old. It actually gave me chills when I saw that street sign flash by.



Anyway.

A lot of Chandler's Los Angeles is gone, of course, but it's wonderful to see that many old, genuinely gorgeous buildings remain. Especially given that, unlike in Europe, the American thing is to raze old buildings and then build new ones on their graves. So much more money to be made that way! A lot of the remaining historic buildings are being purchased by foreign investors who typically don't have great reverence for the American past either, so if you write about old Los Angeles or you love architecture or you're curious about the way things use to be, I'd recommend getting yourself down there while there's still so much to see.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Killing It (A New Monthly Column for M/M Mystery Writers)

This morning's blog is basically just a signpost to a new monthly column I'm writing for Larissa over at BookWinked.

It's a long time since I've been interested in doing a monthly column, but a column on what's happening in the world of mystery writing and publishing -- specifically writing and publishing Male/Male and Gay Mystery -- seems to perfectly dovetail with my work on Writing Killer M/M Suspense and Mystery due out Winter/Spring 2018.

In the interests of finding any potentially-under-served* audience, a lot of male/male authors have turned to writing "mysteries." In what has become a brutally competitive market, writers are desperate to find any foothold (in fact, let's face it, that's how a lot of them came to be writing M/M in the first place). And that's okay. Since the first poet starved to death in his garret, authors have always scrabbled for a foothold in the publishing market.  What is NOT okay is putting out any kind of schmaltzy, vaguely suspense-ish crap and calling it a Gay or M/M Mystery. Mystery readers are a bit more difficult -- let's call it discerning -- than some other audience segments. They really do expect a decent mystery to be served with their romance.

And with so many aspiring (perspiring?) authors relying almost solely on output, advertising and promo to get the results they need, the author who comes along and knows her genre and can actually write will have a huge advantage. I'm not exaggerating when I say that consistently writing well is soon going to be the new secret weapon in the author arsenal.

To that end--and because I've pretty much devoted my life to the mystery genre, in particular the gay mystery genre--I want to help both writers and readers get the best books possible. I want Male/Male Mystery to be where you find the best books and the best authors.

Anyway, the column is called KILLING IT - WRITING THE M/M MYSTERY, and it's running August through December. Stop by and leave a comment as to what you'd like to read about and discuss over the coming months!