11 February 2016

Cancer Update Number Two

Yeah for me! It looks like I have the not-so-bad cancer called myeloma. Meet with the doctor next week for confirmation, but the bone-marrow-biopsy results seem pretty conclusive. Not sure yet what that means in re treatment or whatever. Have to wait another week for that news.

26 January 2016

Cancer Update Number One

Well, it appears I’m special. I was diagnosed with amyloidosis (a bad bone-marrow cancer) after my kidney biopsy in November. My blood-cancer doctor thinks it might instead be myeloma (a not-so-bad bone-marrow cancer) based on my lack of other symptoms. Met with my doctor today. He reviewed the results from the myriad additional tests he’d had me take in an effort to answer the eternal question: which cancer is it? The results are inconclusive and weird -- so much so that he’s going to present my case to a cancer board this week to get their input. After that interesting conversation, I had a bone marrow biopsy. In case you’re wondering, yes it hurts like shit. Really.

25 January 2016

The Complete is Complete

Whew! Finally, a new year and a new collection of my novels. In this case, all five of the James Murray Mysteries in one place! Yeah!

As you probably remember, James Murray is a young man with a dream -- to be a writer just like his idol, Dashiell Hammett. He pens his first novel while working as a clerk at a swank downtown department store. He writes his second while working at a famous movie studio turning his first novel into a screenplay. His third novel chronicles his adventures trying to find a kidnapped scientist. His fourth novel details his efforts to help a baseball player find the source of several blackmail threats. In the fifth and concluding novel, James faces the most dangerous threat of all: the ghost of a young woman who died in mysterious circumstances. 

Now, for the first time, you can read all five James Murray Mysteries in one place: Murder at Eastern Columbia which takes place in the downtown Los Angeles of 1931, Sabotage at RKO Studio set in 1933 Hollywood, Abduction at Griffith Observatory which takes place in 1935, Blackmail at Wrigley Field set in 1937, and Haunting at Ocean House set in 1939. 

Each of these novels is unlike any other book you've read: Not single novels, they are each two parallel novels, featuring two heroes, working two mysteries in two different versions of 1930s Los Angeles. Join James and his hard-boiled alter ego -- neither a private detective nor a police officer: just someone "who wants to help" -- as they each try to solve the mystery. 

Along the way, you will encounter a rich cast of characters and visit countless Southern California locations. 

Come along for the ride in these five complete novels about Los Angeles in the 1930s!

[See the link to the book in the list to the right on this page.] 


14 January 2016

One year ago today, in a galaxy not terribly far away...

Christopher’s health is missing! Last year at this time, the evil forces of the Empire forced our hero into the hospital to have a genetic heart defect repaired and a bionic heart valve inserted. With renewed strength and vigor, he returned to help the Resistance, a new man.

However, the treacherous First Order of Cancer had other plans, using nano-droids to infect our hero with a deadly bone-marrow cancer. Now undergoing testing to confirm the cancer diagnosis, our hero must contend with a severe sinus infection that blew out his eardrum, and the “check engine” light coming on in his X-Wing fighter just as he was off to fight the forces of the dark side.

General Leia Organa has sent in her most daring pilot, Poe Levofloxacin, to stem the ear infection, while her trusty droids fixed the X-Wing fighter -- at a cost to the Federation of $800+ space credits.

During his time away from the galactic battle, our hero has been able to reflect that this past year ain’t been so bad: the last two novels in The James Murray Mysteries series were published and his first (and so far, only) audio book was released. He and his spouse, Matt, are still together 21 years later and they just had their vine-covered cottage on Tatooine painted.

06 January 2016

Schrodinger’s Cat had it Easy

In 1935, physicist Erwin Schrodinger proposed a paradox in which a cat, enclosed in a box with a couple extra items, could be considered both alive and dead at the same time.

I currently find myself in a dilemma somewhat similar: In December, I was diagnosed with a rare bone-marrow cancer. Okeh, fair enough. I had to carry this knowledge around with me for three weeks until I could get in to see a blood-cancer specialist. After reviewing my medical records and discussing my various symptoms, the specialist decided to send me for more tests because he’s not sure I have cancer: something’s wrong, but it might not be cancer. Oddly enough, I was happier thinking I had cancer than I am right now. Cancer is bad; but not knowing is worse.

Of course, only one of these conclusions can be correct: either I have cancer or I don’t; but with every passing day, my condition could be getting worse or, I suppose, not. Are cancer cells creating dangerous amounts of protein in my bone marrow or are they not? If so, the delay for additional testing puts treatment further into the future; if not, then what is behind all the weird symptoms I’ve had since my open-heart surgery in January of last year?

It’s such an odd position to be in. I wish I could just open the box and find out.

14 November 2015

Will the Real James Murray Please Stand Up?

One of the fun-frustrating elements of approaching a new work of fiction is coming up with appropriate names for the characters. I had just finished plotting out “Murder at Eastern Columbia” when the name of the main character dropped into my lap, so to speak.

At that time, “Eastern Columbia” was to be a stand-alone novel, not the first in a five-part series that it became. I had to choose a good name for the lead male character, not realizing that name would come to represent the entire series.

I’ve written a lot about Hollywood over the years, mostly historic Hollywood. Combine that with a soft spot I have for the underdog and then fast forward to the day when my spouse, Matt, was watching the commentary for a film we had just seen called “Heroes For Sale” (1933). As I walked out of my office into the living room, the commentator mentioned that the bit part of a blind soldier was played by the actor who was once famous for being the star of “The Crowd” (1928) and was, when this later movie was made, down and out and forgotten by Hollywood.

Needing a name for my lead character, I selected that name and James Murray, of The James Murray Mysteries, was born. The name is the only similarity -- my character is a writer, not an actor; a small, sincere homage to the man who first bore the name who died broken and unknown. He was only 35 years old.