05 September 2015

Audio Book Anyone?

Great news! My book, “Sarah & Gerald” a novel of Paris in the 1920s, is now available as an audio book on Audible.com! Woot! Woot! It’s my first audio book and I’m pretty excited.

“Sarah & Gerald” takes place in the years after the great war, when life was golden and happy for those who had survived it. An entire generation of young men died so others could sit on a beach and splash in the water and have sandwiches on the sand. It was a perfect time for American expatriates -- like Sarah and Gerald -- to be in Paris: everything had worked out so well for them. They had money, they had friends, they had three golden children and they had each other. And everyone was so young. Gerald was a painter and his bold new painting would shock the French art world; but the consequences of his artistic success would soon bring tragedy to Sarah and their family. Despite doing everything right, things would soon start going very wrong.

Audible.com gave me some free coupons that I can share with anyone who wants to give it a listen. Just reply in the "comment" section below with your email address and I'll send you the information.

I'll be honest and say that part of this giveaway is to generate reviews and publicity for it. If you've not already given "Sarah & Gerald" a review on Amazon, this offer is for you. (And, if you have already given it a review on Amazon, thank you. I will still be happy to send you a coupon for a free audio copy if you want.) I am also hoping for some reviews on the Audible.com website (link below).

You can read more about the novel and listen to an excerpt here.

12 August 2015

Thank You, Brad

It all started with a friend named Brad.

Matt and I had this really good friend named Brad. He was an actor. He was a new father. He was a weird and funny guy. Then, one day, we got an email from his wife that he was dead. They were on vacation and he dropped dead of sudden cardiac arrest. He was only 49.

I had just turned 52 that year and had been having my own heart problems for a couple years. Put all that together and Brad’s completely unexpected death hit us all hard. Hard. Hard. Hard.

It was horrible, but it turned out to be the catalyst that got me to quit my day job and hunker down and return to my long-form writing (novels) that I had been putting off until “the right time.” Who knew when that would happen? Who knew if I would be the next to drop dead from heart issues? I didn’t and I wasn’t going to wait to find out.

So now, nearly four years since his death, I have Brad to thank for getting me off my butt. I had open-heart surgery, Matt and I celebrated our twentieth year together and I just published my eleventh (!) book.

Because of what he did for me, I dedicated my novel “Blackmail at Wrigley Field” to him. I decided it was time to thank him publicly.

Smooth sailing, Major Matt Mason. Second star to the right.

30 July 2015

"Haunting at Ocean House"

Yes, it's true: there are now FIVE James Murray Mysteries!  (See link in the "My Books" section to your right.) 

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.

And now, the fifth and concluding novel in the series has him facing perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: the ghost of a young woman who died under mysterious circumstances. James and his wife, newspaper woman Arden St. Johns, investigate a supposed medium who holds séances for the rich and powerful of Hollywood’s elite. But, they encounter a mystery: someone is trying to convince others that the dead niece of a famous actress is out for revenge. Can James and Arden team up to solve the mystery?

Haunting at Ocean House -- like its predecessors Blackmail at Wrigley Field, Abduction at Griffith Observatory, Sabotage at RKO Studio and  Murder at Eastern Columbia -- is unlike any other book you've read: Not a single novel, it's two parallel novels, featuring two heroes, working two mysteries in two different versions of 1930s Los Angeles. Join James and his alter ego as they each try to discover who’s behind the mysterious séances. His hard-boiled alter ego -- neither a private detective nor a police officer: just someone "who wants to help" -- needs to find out whether it’s really a ghost or just someone playing an elaborate and dangerous hoax.

Along the way, they encounter a rich cast of characters including a famous movie actress who is the mistress of a rich and powerful newspaper publisher, the wealthy scion of a condiment manufacturer who designs and races custom cars, an ex-farmer’s daughter who came to the big city to make good, a dangerous gangster, a famous movie canine, and plenty of famous actors and actresses.

In addition, this final novel is filled with countless Southern California locations including a lavish Santa Monica beach house, the newly opened Los Angeles Union Station and its Fred Harvey Cocktail Lounge, the famous pet hospital of Dr. Eugene Jones, the Hollywood Park Racetrack, Biltmore Hotel, Clover Field airfield, the S.S. Rex gambling ship, Mary Pickford’s Wilshire Links and the notorious San Simeon castle. Haunting at Ocean House is filled with twists and turns leading to a dramatic climax inside the city’s most popular dance spot: The Palomar Ballroom.

Come along for the ride in this, the fifth and final James Murray mystery: the story of a young man who dreams of something better.

08 July 2015

Queer Eye for the Designer Guy

I might not know a lot about graphic design, but I know good design when I see it.

I recently stopped at Ikea for a new bedroom rug. I had a specific design in mind that I skipped when I saw this one (pictured). I’m slightly color blind (red-green) so I’ve always gravitated toward bright, primary colors -- which this rug mostly has. I also love the black-and-white stripes.

Later, I found out it was one of the rugs in the new Onskedrom collection based on the designs of famed Swedish artist Olle Eksell. That’s pretty cool!

You can read more about this design and the designer here.

26 June 2015

Jot and Tittle

In several of my blog posts about my genetic heart condition, I mentioned how the tests did not show my condition at first, but finally spotted it three years later once it had gotten worse. I asked my cardiologist for copies of those EKGs so I could show you the difference.

You will see a certain jiggle on the graph above the arrow in 2011. That’s basically normal. But that same jiggle is quite different in 2014. That was my illness.

15 June 2015

Coincidence or Foreshadowing?

In May 2009, I had my first symptoms of what was later determined to be hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

In November 2009, we traveled to Burbank to attend the filming of an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” (season three, episode eleven: “The Maternal Congruence”). When rewatching the episode last night, we noticed that Sheldon observed, when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes, that “enlargement of the heart muscle, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, is a serious disease which can lead to congestive heart failure.”

I nearly fell off the couch.

It wasn’t until nearly five years after we attended that taping that my doctor diagnosed my issue.

Was Sheldon trying to tell me something?

You can see the clip here.