Anniversary Excerpt: my first book (!)

Today marks the day my first book was published back in 2007. So here's to Brownies, Bodies, and Breaking the Code, the book that set me on this crazy path.


Jessie Patrokus has just ventured into the dating world again after the death of her husband and had signed up with an online match-matcher, only to find a match who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

"So what happened next?" Gus asked.

"I kept getting email. The guy from Silver Harmony just wouldn't give up. So I asked Silver Harmony to change my screen identity."

"But he figured it out and continued sending email?"

I nodded. "The thing that was really spooky was…" My voice trailed off as I decided to voice my fear.

He rapped my knuckles lightly with the swizzle stick. "Yes?"

"How does he know my name?"

"The service--" He stopped when I shook my head. "They don't give out your name?"

"No. You use a screen identity. I never used my real name in any of the screen identities they set up for me. The identities are like nicknames."

"Really? What did you use?" He resumed tapping on the table.

"Oh, I just made things up. You know, 'FlowerGirl' and 'ColdBuns' and stuff like that." I saw his quick grin. "It's like any online site, you can make up all kinds of information about yourself." I frowned. Something was niggling at my brain. If I could make up stuff, presumably the guy who matched me could do the same. But how could he match me so precisely? His answers on the survey had been almost a ninety-five percent match. The others who'd matched me were seventy percent at the most. No one could make up anything that matched me so well. If he hadn't hacked into their database, and I doubted he had, how had he found out my answers? There had to be a clue there but I wasn't sure what it was.

"Hold on." I pulled out Barry the Blackberry and thumbed a quick note, ignoring Colcannon's exasperated look. I tucked Barry back in my purse and refocused on the conversation. "I've got such an unusual last name that it's a dead giveaway. If anyone knew where I lived and my last name, they could find me. So I made sure my screen identity was nothing like my real name."

"So how do you get the email?" He resumed tapping my hand with the plastic stick, obviously deep in thought.

"People send email to the mail servers at Silver Harmony and they forward it on." I sipped my now-cool coffee. "His emails have all come to me via Silver Harmony, but--"

He looked back at the screen. "He used your name. He addressed it to Jessie."

I nodded. "Yeah." I decided to finally voice my fear. "The question is--how did he get my real name? And what else does he know about me?"

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