Category Archives: Mystery

Finalists in the Rainbow Awards!

FinalistSMBoth Billy’s Bones and By That Sin Fell the Angels are finalists in the Rainbow Awards this year!  My YA fantasy novel, Dreams, also made the cut!

Unfortunately, we won’t find out who won until December, and the competition is steep.  Click on the image to see the other finalists!  I’m honored to be included among them.

In other news, I’ve signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for my college romance Screw-Ups!

I’ve also submitted a steampunk novella called The Watchwork Man for an anthology, finished round two of edits on my Christmas story (The Healing Power of Eggnog) for the Dreamspinner 2013 Advent Calendar, and I have part three of the Dreams of Fire and Gods YA trilogy (Gods) coming out on October 17th!

It’s been a busy two weeks.

The Dogs of Cyberwar

The Dogs of Cyberwar

I now find myself without a deadline for the first time since the summer began.  So I’ll need to set some new ones.  I’ve been re-reading what I’ve written for A Mote in the Eye — part two of the B.A.L.O.R. Cycle, my cyberpunk trilogy which began with The Dogs of Cyberwar.  I’ve been promising to finish that forever, but other deadlines kept interfering.  I’m liking what I’m reading, so I’m setting myself a deadline of October 31st to have at least A Mote in the Eye finished and the third section started.  The story is, in my humble opinion, just too good to let it languish unread forever.

I’m also hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  I have a murder mystery in my head that takes place on Mount Washington.

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Filed under Christmas, Cyberpunk, Drama, Fantasy, gay, Historical, Mystery, NaNoWriMo, Romance, SciFi, Victorian, Writing, Young Adult

Guest blog: Desktop – “The Trouble With Tony” by Eli Easton

Eli Easton’s highly entertaining novella, The Trouble with Tony, was released this past week.  I loved it and definitely recommend it for a quick, lighthearted and very sexy read!  Eli put this post up on her blog a few days ago, but I offered to duplicate it here, because I thought it was a lot of fun.

Click on the cover pic to the right to get to the purchase page!

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Whenever I write a story, I like to google images for inspiration.  Sometimes they’re for mood, sometimes they’re characters (major and minor), sometimes they’re locations, and sometimes they’re things like a building or a shop or a car that I just like to have a visual reference for.  I thought it would be fun to share these with readers.

** Note:  I own none of these images – they’re from google.  These images were not used in the book, but if you have a problem with my having an image on this website, please email me and I’ll remove it.  

So without further ado, here’s my “Trouble with Tony” desktop:

TONY DEMARCO

Tony is an Italian-American private detective from Brooklyn now living in Seattle (in part to elude his big, Italian-American family who don’t know he’s gay).  He was a cop for six years but decided to to go it alone as a P.I. after being shot in the leg.   He’s very funny.

I had several images on my desktop to inspire me to write Tony’s character.  Here’s my favorite:

images

This pic was identified as Fabio Cannavaro by a commenter.  Thank you!

DR. JACK HALLORAN

Our other MC, Dr. Jack Halloran, was a combat surgeon in the US Army for 8 years until an I.E.D. damaged his left arm, making it impossible for him to do surgery.  His PTSD made even working in an ER impossible.  He’s now a sex therapist for Expanded Horizons.  He’s not a big guy, but he’s a serious bad ass, he is probably the top surgeon around.

I searched for a ‘blonde doctor’ image to inspire me and I like the attitude on his face.  This one made it onto the cover!

young doctor man with stethoscope and clipboard against different backgrounds Stock image

MICHAEL LAMONT

Oh, Michael!  I’m currently working on Sex in Seattle #3, which is Michael’s story, but he makes his first appearance in “The Trouble With Tony”.  I love this character!  Michael is a sex surrogate and also does in home nursing care part time.  He’s slightly built, very cute, and extremely compassionate/empathetic.  In my head, Michael is physically based on Isaiah Garnica.

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Isaiah Garnica (LA based model/actor)

SETTING: SEATTLE’S CAPITOL HILL

The story is set in Seattle, mostly in and around Capitol Hill, a gay district in Seattle that’s up on a hill (hence the oh-so-brilliant name).  My husband and I had a house on Capitol Hill for 15 years and I love the neighborhood!  I greatly miss it.  Here are a few scenes of this funky/cool area.

elysian-brewing-company caphill seattle-capitol-hill-flcikr-matthew-rutledge

EXPANDED HORIZONS

Expanded Horizons is the name of a (entirely fictional) sex clinic on Capitol Hill around which the series revolves.  I pictured it on Pike Street between Broadway and 15th, which is an area I walked often.  It’s not a very big building. The clinic has a waiting room with receptionist area, three therapists offices, a staff kitchen and meeting room and a, ahem, massage room.  This is about the style/size of the building.

seattle-remodel-urban-animal-01

DISCOVERY PARK

I’m an avid hiker, so I worked a few of my favorite places to hike into the story.  Tony meets up with his police detective buddy, Mark, to discuss the case at Discovery Park, a Seattle park that I miss dearly now that I’m no longer in the area.  It has a beach, lighthouse, woods and trails on a bluff, and gorgeous views.

discoveryparkseattle

The trail along the top of the bluff.

Disc Park 203 SM

 One of my own photos taken whilst hiking with a friend

MT RAINIER’S SKYLINE TRAIL

One of my favorite hiking trails of all time is the Skyline Trail at Mt. Rainier.  It’s quite high in elevation.  You can hike right up to the glacier and the views are spectacular.  Being above the treeline, the flowers and vegetation are really different from most NW forests.  Tony and Jack discuss the Skyline trail earlier in the book and then the epilogue takes place there.

Mount Rainier Skyline Trail

Image by Smigelski Photography : http://www.smigelskiphotography.com/2011/10/mount-rainier/

That’s it for this desktop!  I hope the pictures add to your enjoyment of the story.

ABOUT THE SERIES:

Sex in Seattle #2, ”The Enlightenment of Daniel,” has been written and contracted to Dreamspinner and is due out in the Dec/Jan timeframe.  This story is about a patient of Jack Halloran’s.  Daniel is a high-powered Type A business man who has a midlife crisis when he learns his father is dying of cancer.  Daniel comes to several life-altering realizations –first, that he’s gay and secondly, that he’s in love with his male business partner who is in a marriage-in-name-only relationship for the sake of his kids.

Sex in Seattle #3, “The Mating of Michael” (working title), is my next writing project.  Tentative pub date is April 2014.  This is, of course, the story of Michael Lamont, sex surrogate for Expanded Horizons.  I’m very excited to bite into this one!

Eli

Eli Easton can be found at http://elieaston.com/

The Trouble with Tony can be purchased at:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4110

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Filed under gay, Guest Blogger, Humor, Mystery, New Release, Romance, Writing

“Billy’s Bones” is touching a lot of readers

BillysBones_FessendenI almost titled this post, “Billy’s Bones could be my breakout novel,” because it very well may be.  A breakout novel is a novel that finally draws enough attention to put an author’s name on the radar.  Generally, subsequent novels sell much better as a result, because now readers have heard of the author.

That may be what Billy’s Bones is for me.  It spent over a week in the top ten of the Gay Romance list on Amazon, peaking at #7, and remained in the top 20 for almost two weeks.  The reader reviews and professional reviews have been amazing!  Sales have been astronomical, in comparison to any of my previous novels (and sales picked up for them over the past weeks, too).  And I’m still on the Dreamspinner bestsellers list!

What this will mean in the future, I don’t know.  If I’m lucky, my next novel will be successful as well.  Though it will be a little while before I attempt to tackle anything this dark again.  My next novel is a romance between two roommates in college.

But really, what’s more important than sales (yes, really) is that I’ve received numerous reviews and emails in which people have told me how much the book touched them.  Many have survived abuse themselves and the novel helped them — or at least didn’t disturb them — by dealing with the issue sensitively.  I couldn’t ask for greater praise.  My fear as I worked on the novel and all the way up until the day of its release was that it would be traumatic for some readers and come across as insensitive and  wildly inaccurate in its depiction of PTSD.

There have been, in fact, some readers who marked the book as something they know they can’t read.  After reading other reviews, they’ve concluded that the subject matter is too unpleasant for them to deal with in the context of their own pasts.  I understand that and sympathize.  I would never want somebody to be further traumatized by something I’ve written.

There have been a number of comments in reviews about the level of research that went into the novel.  Certainly I did read up on the subject of PTSD and watch videos of survivors discussing flashbacks and other experiences, but I was also lucky enough to know a number of therapists, including my mother, who specialized in treating clients with PTSD.  She and others read over the therapy scenes in the novel to make sure I wasn’t doing anything too horrendous.  She did point out that pushing someone to recall repressed memories wasn’t always a good idea.  In some cases, it’s better to leave it alone.  But of course, in the novel, it becomes necessary for Kevin to remember what happened, since he is the only witness.

As a final note, I would like to point out that, although I did have some experiences in my childhood which came into play while writing this novel, no one in my family was ever abusive to me or my brother.

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Filed under Drama, gay, Life, Mystery, Pets, Psychological Drama, Reviews, Romance, Writing

“Billy’s Bones” has taken off!

BillysBones_FessendenSince its release on Monday, Billy’s Bones has taken off like a rocket!

It didn’t exactly hit #1 on Amazon, but it did get up to #25 in the Gay Romance category, which is the highest any of my novels has climbed before.  It fluctuates constantly, and that may end up being as high as it goes, but I know for a fact that it went that high—I have screenshots!

It’s also listed on the Dreamspinner Bestsellers page!  That’s been a goal of mine since I was first published with them.

Already, I’ve had a host of terrific reviews.  Cindi at On Top Down Under Book Reviews said about the book, “Overall, I have to say that this is an outstanding book.  I told someone today that it is definitely one of my favorites of 2013. Thinking back I now have to say that it’s one of my favorites of all-time. There are no words to express my total love for this story and the author’s writing. This was an easy 5 stars for me.”

This week has definitely been one of the high points of my writing career so far!

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Filed under Drama, gay, Mystery, New Release, Psychological Drama, Reviews, Romance, Writing

The World’s Most Disorganized Blog Tour

MurderousRequieum_ORIGSo I hear it’s a good idea to do a blog tour, when your novel comes out. This consists of guest posts on other author’s blogs in a fairly organized sequence, promoting your book and generally giving away free copies.

Well, I’ve been trying to do that with Murderous Requiem since it came out, but the “organized” part has completely eluded me.  Some of you may have seen some of the posts go by, but I utterly failed to present them in any kind of orderly manner.

However, for anyone interested in Murderous Requiem, there has been some interesting information in these posts, concerning magick, Marsillio Ficino, herbalism, Renaissance music, and other subjects that come up in the novel.  So even though many of them are no longer giving away free copies, I thought I should post them in a list here, just so they’re easily accessible.

I intend to post one or two more, before I’m done with it.  And the one on Renaissance music (on Shira Anthony‘s blog) still has a free giveaway going on until July 7th!

The Chaotic Murderous Requiem Blog Tour:

April 15th:  Magick and the Occult on Grace Duncan’s Blog

April 27th:  Excerpt on Butterfly-o-Meter Books (L.E. Olteano)

May 8th:  Herbal Teas and Remedies on Kim Fielding’s Blog

May 10th:  Marsilio Ficino on K.Z. Snow’s Blog

May 20th:  Greek Musical Notation on Skylar M. Cates’s Blog

June 30th:  Renaissance Music on Shira Anthony’s Blog (free giveaway until July 7th!)

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Filed under Bloghop, gay, Guest Blogger, Murderous Requiem, Mystery, New Release, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Release Day for “Murderous Requiem”!

MurderousRequieum_ORIGMurderous Requiem has been released!

It is now available for purchase at Dreamspinner, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

Over at MM Good Book Reviews, it’s received 4 out of 5 stars!  “The mystery and suspense are good and leaves a thread of tension throughout the book. There’s death and betrayal, love and hope and occult dealings. I actually think this is an intriguing story that shows a ‘whiter’ or good side to the occult. It has informative information and you can see that the author has done a lot of research.  I will recommend this to those who love mystery and suspense, occult dealings, twists, betrayal, underhand dealings, murder and manipulation and a happy for them ending.”

Here’s the Blurb:

Jeremy Spencer never imagined the occult order he and his boyfriend, Bowyn, started as a joke in college would become an international organization with hundreds of followers. Now a professor with expertise in Renaissance music, Jeremy finds himself drawn back into the world of free love and ceremonial magick he’d left behind, and the old jealousies and hurt that separated him from Bowyn eight years ago seem almost insignificant. 

Then Jeremy begins to wonder if the centuries-old score he’s been asked to transcribe hides something sinister. With each stanza, local birds flock to the old mansion, a mysterious fog descends upon the grounds, and bats swarm the temple dome. During a séance, the group receives a cryptic warning from the spirit realm. And as the music’s performance draws nearer, Jeremy realizes it may hold the key to incredible power—power somebody is willing to kill for.

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Guest blogging on Guys Like Romance, Too!

MurderousRequieum_FBThumbJoin me on the Guys Like Romance, Too! blog this week, as I talk about the connection between music and alchemy and the human soul in the Renaissance, in my blog post entitled Music, Magick and Murder!

I’ll be sending the final galley proofs back to my editor tonight, after which it will be out of my hands until publication.  The novel will be released on April 8th!

In other news, I just signed a contract for Billy’s Bones!  That makes my sixth full-length novel!  The tentative release date for that will be sometime in late July or early August!

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Filed under gay, Guest Blogger, Murderous Requiem, Mystery, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Psychological Drama, Romance, Writing

Final Cover Design for Murderous Requiem!

MurderousRequieum_ORIGI just received the finalized design of the cover for Murderous Requiem!

This was created by Brooke Albrecht, whom I’ve never worked with before, but the design came out beautiful and I love it!

We don’t have a firm release date for the novel yet, but I’m told it might be some time in April.

EDIT:  The cover design was just modified slightly, so I’ve uploaded it again.  Originally, the characters in the center spelled out the Tibetan prayer, Om Mani Padme Hum, but that wasn’t really appropriate to a story about ceremonial magicians.  So it was replaced with Enochian letters, which is the magical language the characters work with in the novel.  The letters spell out the word Requiem.

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Filed under Cover, Drama, gay, horror, Murderous Requiem, Mystery, occult, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Victorian, Writing

Just finished “Billy’s Bones”

I finally finished the contemporary psychological drama I’ve been calling Billy’s Bones (awful, awful title!) and several friends are reading it to tell me if it’s any good.  I’m really not sure.  I like the first half, but it gets very grim in the second half.  Ever read the beginning of Alice Sebold‘s The Lovely Bones?  That’s about the level of grim I’m talking about.  To a lesser extent it resembles the revelation of Tom’s repressed memories of “Callanwolde” in The Prince of Tides (considerably toned down in the film version).  Not exactly what most people expect in a romance novel.

I should have seen it coming, of course.  I came up with this plot centered around repressed memories of sexual abuse and murder, and then when I came to the part where the repressed memories begin to surface, I thought, “I could have the character tell the story to his therapist or his lover (who is actually the viewpoint character), but it would be far more dramatic to show it in a flashback!”

Yeah, great idea.

Except that I soon realized that what I was writing was too horrific to describe in any kind of detail.  There’s a reason that I tend to use crimes against children to represent evil in my novels:  I find them absolutely horrifying.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  So there’s a fine line between being boring by not dramatizing it and showing too much by dramatizing it.  It wasn’t my intention to write a horror novel.

So I wrote the scene out, but didn’t go into graphic detail.  We’ll see what my friends say, when they read it.

The other potential problem is that my viewpoint character (Tom) almost disappeared in the last quarter of the novel, as Kevin works with the police to piece things together.  I had to go back and make sure he said something now and then to remind readers that he was still there.  I don’t know if that worked.  We’ll see.

What all of this demonstrates is that I can’t write in a vacuum — at least, not all of the time.  While I’m working on the first draft, I don’t let anyone look at it.  I generally have a sense of whether it’s good or not and I like to think I’m a fairly good storyteller.  At that stage, I don’t want people injecting their opinions.  But as soon as that first draft is done, I lose the confidence I had while writing.  Sometimes my ego is too fragile for criticism for a week or so, as my husband has learned, but fairly soon after the first draft is done, I need feedback to tell me if the story came out any good or if it should be scrapped.

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Filed under Drama, gay, Mystery, Psychological Drama, Romance, Writing

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain

Last week, fellow author Cate Ashwood tagged me on her blog as part of her Next Big Thing, so now it’s my turn to post my latest project and then pass the baton to another author.  So here’s what I’m working on:

The Next Big Thing

What is the title of your book?

Murderous Requiem

How did you come by the idea?

I was inspired by a number of different things, including The DaVinci Code (the book and the film), some books I bought years ago on Marsilio Ficino (a Renaissance magician, doctor, and musician who believed that music could heal the body), my interest in Norse mythology, Alfred Hitchcock films like The Birds, and murder mysteries like And Then There Were None.

What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal/Occult Mystery

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?

Three Characters

I’m not really sure I can pick actors, apart from perhaps Brad Pitt in Interview with a Vampire as Bowyn.  I did find pictures online that captured what I imagined.  From left to right, these would be Jeremy and Bowyn, the two love interests in the novel, and the enigmatic playboy, Rafe.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Renaissance music expert, Jeremy Spencer, is dragged back into the occult commune that he co-founded years ago with his ex-boyfriend, Bowyn Clarke, in order to transcribe an ancient manuscript, but he soon discovers the Temple holds dangers beyond stirring up old feelings he isn’t sure how to deal with — the manuscript contains a dark secret that somebody is willing to kill for.

Will your book be self-published or traditional?

It will be published by Dreamspinner Press in eBook and paperback.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hard to say, because I don’t always write a complete first draft before going back and rewriting, especially in something this tightly plotted.  I went back over the first half several times before I wrote the second half.  From beginning to finally having a complete story in my hands was probably a little over a  year.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s a bit like The DaVinci Code, though there is considerably less running around.  It all takes place in one location.  I’m not sure which M/M novels it might compare to.  (EDIT –12/31/2012:  I am now reading a book by Shelter Somerset called The Rule of Sebastian, which I wasn’t aware of when I first wrote this post.  It has a very similar feel to Murderous Requiem, though it’s much more of a murder mystery than Requiem is.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I suspect I’ll be able to give it a good recommendation when I have.)

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

To put this mystery together, I drew from a number of sources:  the writings of Marsilio Ficino, alchemy, the life of John Dee, Enochian, ceremonial magick, Aleister Crowley and his occult order, the O.T.O.  I also blended in some horror elements to give the mystery a creepy feel.

So that’s my Next Big Thing.  The writers I’m tagging for next week are:

Lou Sylvre on December 25th

Jana Denardo on December 26th

Zahra Owens on December 26th

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Filed under Bloghop, gay, horror, Mystery, Next Big Thing, Occult/Paranormal, Writing