July Writing Projects

June was a rough one in so many ways. But since this post is about writing, let’s stick to that, shall we?

I was not nearly as productive as I’d hoped to be. Lately, I never am. I had planned out six Rerun Junkie posts I wanted to write and I managed to get three of them done. I can’t speak to the quality of them, but I know at least one of them is kind of garbage and will need some work if I’ll ever let it see the light of day.

I’d also hoped to get ahead on Book ’em, Danno, get at least one episode done. That didn’t happen either. Oh, I got some podcasting done, just not this particular podcast.

I’m once again looking to change gears, trying to find one that I can groove on. I’ve been thinking a lot about an idea for a story that I’ve had for a while called Early Snow. Yes, I know it’s summer, but a blizzard tale is on my mind. It’s one of those ideas that I jotted down ages ago and have just added bits and pieces to as its rolled around in my brain, occasionally resurfacing. I think there’s enough meat to it now that I can put it on paper and since I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, I’d say the time is right.

I think I’m going to do it as at least a page a day. That keeps the pressure low and the progress constant. I just want to be writing something. I don’t know if it will be a novella or a novel, but I think I can be done with it before NaNo.

Famous last words.

Speaking of lasts, the penultimate episode of Murderville: The Coldest Case goes live on July 14th. But just because it’s almost over doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy it. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode gets you a swell bonus every other month. So become a patron and catch up on the case.

Book ’em, Danno returns from hiatus at the end of the month. Season one is done, season two is about to begin. How many times will Steve say those blessed words? Well, the only way to find out is to watch the show. Or listen to my podcast and I’ll eventually tell you.

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 6

Conclusions, Dead Ends, and a Fourth Date

Christabelle couldn’t sleep.

It wasn’t unusual. Keeping odd hours for so many years had firmly disrupted her circadian rhythms. The nights when she wasn’t required to stay up until the wee hours of the morning following some creep cheating on his wife or some floozy cheating on her husband (how she’d never been hired for a cheating case for a same-sex couple, she didn’t know), Christabelle found herself either struggling to make herself go to sleep or to entertain herself until she was tired enough to go to bed.

Tonight, it wasn’t only her inconsistent schedule keeping her awake. It was also Rena. More specifically, Rena’s kiss. Even more specifically, Christabelle was performing great feats of mental strength trying NOT to think about it. Because to think about it was to ruminate about it and to ruminate about it was pointless and would no doubt lead her to getting her hopes up, and that was already a losing battle. She didn’t need to lose that battle faster. Christabelle had already made up her mind that the kiss was part of Rena’s gag with the love stone she’d given her, and it ultimately meant nothing.

To keep her mind off of her inevitable heartbreak, Christabelle researched the four teenagers last seen with Marybeth Cooley. The internet being the wonderful thing that it was, she found the fates of the three boys without much trouble.

They were all dead.

Dwight Harmon, successful businessman, died a few years back, apparently suffering from a heart attack and drowning in his hot tub. The insinuation was he had become overstimulated during a “party”. That seemed a little tame for Murderville and a little suspicious that someone could so easily drown with so many people in proximity. It was a hot tub, not the ocean. A little research into this “party” dug up rumors that Dwight Harmon was a multi-millionaire known for his orgies featuring the biggest names in the higher social circles, including his younger brother Winchester Harmon, the man found dead on Pam and Drew Bendixen’s front step the previous year. Dwight Harmon’s heart attack occurred while he was having sex with a woman in his hot tub and he drowned when she left to get help from someone inside. Christabelle supposed it wasn’t easy to attract attention at an orgy, people being very involved in their activities and all. That sounded closer to the truth than what was printed in the paper.

Butch Taylor, another successful Munsterville businessman, died the same year as Winchester Harmon in a bizarre electrocution incident. In a fight with this fourth wife, Butch decided to cut her off from everything. Literally. After she stormed out in a dramatic huff, Butch proceeded to go down to the basement intent on cutting the power. Instead of turning it off with the switch, he took a pair of gardening sheer and cut into the wires. Instant fried millionaire. It was only pure luck that the house didn’t catch on fire. His wife came home hours later and found him, his corpse still smoking a little. Christabelle could only imagine the smell.

In another familial twist, Butch Taylor’s nephew Simon Sidney had recently been murdered by his second wife and a business rival. And in another neighborhood twist, Christabelle’s neighbor across the street, Velvet Li, found the body, along with her fellow security guard Otis Gorski, who, along with his cousins, also found Marybeth Cooley.

Christabelle was beginning to suspect that everyone in town was connected to this case in some way.

Jimmie DuPage died out at the End Of. He shot himself in the head when he was twenty-one. A routine sweep of the area found his body. No foul play was suspected. Like many of the suicides that happen out there, he didn’t leave a note. The speculation, though, was that he killed himself to avoid a prison sentence for manslaughter after killing a man in a bar fight. Christabelle had some doubts. It all felt a little too neat. But there was nothing that overtly suggested that his death connected to Marybeth Cooley’s murder, either.

So, Christabelle pressed on and ran straight into a brick wall.

Nannette Sullivan seemed to have disappeared.

***

It turns out the coldest case in Munsterville is the coldest for a reason. It’s a tough one to crack. Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and read all about it.

June Writing Projects

Did I finally finish the first round of revisions on The Support Group Meets on Wednesday?

Yes. Yes I did.

It only took four months.

There was a time when that first round would have only taken me a month, but I fear those days are long gone. I am no longer as good as I once was.

But four weeks or four months, it’s still finished, which means this month I’ll be working on something new. Finally.

This month, I’m going in a completely new direction. I’m going to be working on a bunch of Rerun Junkie posts. It’s been ages since I’ve written one, and not for lack of ideas either. It’s because every time I think about doing one, I think about the research involved and it ends up getting shelved because other projects I’m working on take priority. Understandable, but the Rerun Junkie thing was once a passion project of mine and it’s kind of a downer to realize that it’s been shoved to the side due to reasons.

Let’s see what happens when I put my full focus (or what’s left of it) on this again.

Speaking of focus, zero in on Episode 5 of Murderville: The Coldest Case which goes live on May 12th. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month. Become a patron and catch up on an old murder and a new romance.

Episode 13 of Book ’em, Danno is out. Season one is done and season two is looming on the horizon. The show will take a brief hiatus in June. I’ll still be working on it, but look for Episode 14 and the start of season two to go live in July. Plenty of time for you to catch up and count for yourself how many times Steve McGarrett says “Book ’em, Danno.”

Book ’em, Danno–Episode 13

It’s the final episode of season one, “The Big Kahuna”, and a quick little look back on the season. We’ve got the Pele the Goddess of Fire attempting to evict one of the last members of Hawaiian royalty from his house (or so it would seem) and I’ve been keeping track of all of the times Steve McGarrett has uttered the words “Book ’em, Danno”.

Oh, and if you usually don’t pay attention to and/or skip through the guest cast info, you may want to listen this time. There’s a hidden gem or two in there that you might appreciate.

And you can do that on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Thanks for hanging out with me for the first season. I did say that getting through season one would be the test of whether or not I’d stick with this podcast. And since I did, I guess I will. On to season two!

I don’t have any pics from this episode, so here’s a picture of happy Kono because who doesn’t love happy Kono?

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 5

Talking to the Wyliss Boys

Christabelle met the Windoms in the same diner she’d met them before and ordered the same breakfast plate. They wore the same sunglasses and cast the same furtive glances.

Things changed after Christabelle gave them her findings.

“They’re swingers,” she said bluntly.

Mr. Windom stared at her, his dark sunglasses masking some of his reaction. Mrs. Windom, though, whipped off her sunglasses in shock, revealing wide, blue eyes.

“Excuse me?”

“Swingers, not drug dealers,” Christabelle said, adding a little salt to her hash browns. “The people coming and going? Are doing it in the literal sense. They’re all folks that are part of the lifestyle.”

“Oh my God,” Mr. Windom said, sounding like a married couple having an open sexual relationship with other married couples was somehow worse than running a drug den.

Mrs. Windom nearly poked her own eye out in her haste to put her sunglasses on.

“I see,” she said. “Well. That’s very…um…yes, well…I…” She elbowed her husband. “Pay Ms. Calder, so we can go.”

Mr. Windom scrambled for his checkbook and quickly dashed off Christabelle’s fee.

“Thank you so much for your help, Ms. Calder,” Mrs. Windom said. She stood up too fast and hit the table, jostling it and nearly upsetting Christabelle’s orange juice.

Christabelle took the offered check, thanked them, and watched the couple all but run out of the diner having learned a valuable lesson about being nosy.

After finishing her leisurely late breakfast and running to the bank, she arrived home just before noon. She pulled into her driveway and sat there for a minute, debating. It was probably late enough that Lister McKinney was awake, but early enough that he couldn’t have gotten too deep into the day’s dirty thirty. Christabelle decided that now was as good as time as any to talk to him.

Even though it was January, even though there was snow, even though that day there was a windchill in the teens, Lister McKinney was still sitting in a lawn chair in his garage with the door wide open. Christabelle walked down the plowed street and up Lister’s shoveled driveway, a fact that tickled Christabelle considering Lister probably hadn’t his license in two decades, if not more.

“Lister,” Christabelle called about halfway up the driveway.

Lister, sitting in his lawn chair, contemplating his can of beer, looked up, recognized Christabelle, and gave her a wave.

“Whatcha doin’ over here, mystery neighbor?” Lister asked with a grin. Christabelle smiled and shook her head. She’d lived in her house on the other side of Raul Santos for quite a while before a block party encouraged her to meet her neighbors (even though she knew who they all were, being naturally nosy on top of being a private investigator). It was only then that she realized just how familiar everyone in the neighborhood was with each other and how she stood out as a mysterious presence because she’d never introduced herself, a fact that until then she hadn’t regarded as strange since her previous neighborhoods hadn’t been so well-connected.

“Come to chew a little fat with you, Lister,” Christabelle said, surprised at how warm the garage was even with the door wide open. She spotted two space heaters going full blast, one of which was a few feet behind Lister’s chair, and realized that’s how Lister was able to drink out here in the dead of winter without suffering from frostbite.

“Yeah, what kind of fat you want to chew?” He reached into the bright orange cooler beside him and pulled out a can of beer, holding it out to Christabelle. She took it but didn’t open it.

“I wanted to talk to you about Marybeth Cooley,” she said.

Lister froze, the air temperature in the garage dropping lower than the windchill outside.

“Now, why would you want to be talking about that?” he asked.

***

Turns out only one of the Wyliss boys does much talking. But which one? Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and find out.

May Writing Projects

Oh, hey, am I still revising The Support Group Meets on Wednesday? You bet I am.

Unfortunately, my hopes of getting it done last month weren’t realized. I fell about 30 pages short of finished (and it’s likely more because this part of the novel requires a lot of rewriting). Productivity has been hard to come by since the pandemic started here and I ended up being incredibly busy with library and podcasting projects during the last couple weeks of April. Which meant that revising took a bit of a backseat. I might have worked on it most days, but many of those days I only managed to get a few pages done.

Such is the way life is right now.

The goal is to finish revising it this month, which I should get do.

(Please, Universe, let me get it done.)

And if I happen to get it done before the month is out…I have no idea what I’m going to work on next. It’s not that I’m hurting for projects. One might say that I have too many waiting for something to happen. But, I can’t deny that right now motivation is in short supply.

I guess I’ll just play it by ear, as they say.

Good thing we have Murderville: The Coldest Case to keep us happy. Episode 5 goes live on May 12th. $1 an episode let’s you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month. Become a patron and get some guaranteed entertainment.

And I always seem to have the motivation to produce episodes of Book ’em, Danno. Episode 13 covering the last episode of season 1 will go live at the end of the month, but in the meantime, check out episode 12, which covered “Not That Much Different” and “Six Kilos”. Steve undercover is a joy not to be missed.

Book ’em, Danno–Episode 12

The first season of Hawaii Five-O is winding down with episode 22 “Not That Much Different” and episode 23 “Six Kilos”. Only one episode left! Can you believe it?

But first, Steve and the rest of Five-O have to contend with a shooting involving some peace demonstrators, and then he has to go undercover to capture some criminals plotting a big heist.

Check it out by listening on Souncloud or iTunes.

And here are your visual aids in regards to Steve’s undercover wardrobe. You will never find anything more marvelous.

Until you see Steve’s later wardrobe choices.

Murderville: The Coldest Case–Episode 4

Connections to the Past Lead to a Third Date

On lunch the next day, Rena went to the old Kiwanis Rotary Park, now called the Morgan Michael Memorial Park. Since Christabelle had been nice enough to offer to talk to her neighbor Vernee Dean, Rena figured that the least she could do was check out the park where Marybeth Cooley was last seen.

The day wasn’t too bad. It was overcast, but without any threat of snow. The wind was calm, so it was cold, but bearable, and Rena found the chill to be quite invigorating as she traipsed across the park towards the woods.

Jerry Cooley had been right when he said that park was the same except for the playground equipment. There was no sign of expansion or contraction of the space, and there was also no way that any kid before about 1990 went down any of the plastic slides on display. Rena figured that the kids had been loitering at the picnic tables on the far end of the park, though probably much older models compared to the sleek-looking new ones that sat there now. The teens were teasing Marybeth Cooley, the teasing got out of hand and she got upset, and then Nannette Sullivan walked her across the park to the woods, never to be seen again.

The woods weren’t much more than a fat copse of trees that separated the park from some neighboring houses. Hidden in it was a creek that was fenced off on the house side, but open from the park side. Rena found the worn path that Marybeth and Nannette, and probably decades of kids, had taken into the trees and she followed it. Even with all of the leaves gone, the trees still grew close enough together, thin and competitive, to affect a sort of shield from prying eyes. Rena hadn’t been able to see anything from the road or the park. Marybeth had disappeared in late spring when the leaves were well on their way in and any kind of scraggly bush that could get hold would be growing. Even walking along the path, it would difficult to see too far ahead.

The path ran to the vicinity of the creek and then split off, going left and right, running parallel to the creek. Left ran further into the trees, most likely ending at the next street. Right led to the road the park sat on, where the creek ran underneath the street through a drainage tunnel.

Rena ignored both of these options and instead walked straight to the bank of the creek, stepping carefully in her winter boots. The creek had shrunk in the cold weather, contracting into a narrow sheet of ice, but Rena could see the faint markings of where it usually ran. In the spring, with the rain and the snowmelt, that bank would easily overflow by several feet. She had no idea where it might have been when Marybeth and Nannette had been here.

Daring to get a little closer, Rena took a few tentative steps towards the frozen sheet of water. The third step was nearly her undoing. The ground practically collapsed under her weight, swallowing her foot up to the ankle, and leaving Rena flailing for balance. She kept her feet, or at least kept the one that wasn’t sunk in the mud, and managed to prevent her fall, which would have been a nasty one between the mud and the broken off saplings. Grabbing onto a nearby tree for balance and leverage, Rena pulled her foot out of the mud, feeling lucky that she didn’t leave her boot behind.

Rena stood there for a moment, breath coming out in quick, tiny puffs of steam, her heart thudding a little in her chest. The creek was frozen, but the bank wasn’t. Bizarre. Rena would have bet money that the ground would have been frozen, too, but apparently not. The whole place was tricky.

Tricky and secluded.

No wonder Marybeth Cooley disappeared without a trace.

#

Christabelle sat in Miss Vernee Dean’s living room, waiting for her to bring in the two cups of coffee she’d gone to the fetch. Once Christabelle had finished her rudimentary investigation into the possibly drug-dealing neighbors (who were not dealing drugs) for her clients, Christabelle grabbed a bit for lunch and then headed over to Miss Vernee’s house. The woman answered the door within seconds of Christabelle ringing the bell, adding credence to her reputation for being the hawk eyes of the neighborhood.

She only hoped Miss Vernee had that reputation when she lived across from the park, too.

“Here we go,” Miss Vernee said loudly as she came into the living room. She handed one of the coffee cups to Christabelle, who took it and gave it a test sip. She nodded to show that the coffee was just fine, which she probably would have done even if it tasted like distilled antifreeze. She wasn’t there for coffee and Miss Vernee knew it. “Now. What is it that you wanted to jaw about?”

Christabelle set her coffee mug down on the table in front of her, mindful not to spill, and pulled the papers that Rena had printed out from her coat pocket. She opened them up and handed them to Miss Vernee, pointing to the place where she’d highlighted her name.

“I was hoping you could tell me about Marybeth Cooley,” Christabelle said, keeping her voice just south of a shout.

“Oh, yes,” Miss Vernee said, nodding. “Poor girl. Just up and vanished.”

She looked at Christabelle with sad eyes.

“Paper said you were a witness, Miss Vernee,” Christabelle said, trying to nudge her into talking. “What did you see that day? Can you remember?”

“I’m old, but I still have my faculties,” Miss Vernee said and Christabelle chuckled. “You never forget something like this.” She rattled the papers in her hand.

***

Want to know what Miss Vernee remembered? And there’s also another date to be had. Become a patron for as little as $1 an episode and get the whole story.

Life in the Time of Isolation

In the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett there’s a novel called Interesting Times and in it is a curse that goes something like, “May you live in interesting times.”

Pretty safe to say that we’ve all been cursed.

Covid-19 is no joke. It’s turned the world upside down and inside out. Or should that be outside in given how many of us are in quarantine, in isolation, sheltering-in-place, safe-at-home, social distancing, or whatever other euphemism they come up with that basically means we’ve all drastically altered our lives in an attempt to flatten the curve and minimize the damage of this awful virus.

My descent into interesting times happened back in March.

Monday, March 9th it was business as usual at the library. By Wednesday, we were sanitizing the public spaces more often. By Thursday, we’d gone to a touchless checkout to minimize personal contact. Friday, the public computers were spaced out, homebound deliveries had been suspended, and we were sanitizing every book that came into the library. Saturday, all events at the library were canceled, chairs were removed to discourage patrons from hanging around, and the meeting rooms were closed. That next Monday, we were washing everything that came in with soap and water and allowing patrons to stay in the building for no more than an hour.

March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, we were closed to the public and the building has been closed ever since.

A week before it had been business as usual and then…

Interesting times happen fast.

Interesting times are stressful.

The first week, week and a half after the library closed I found myself stress eating quite a bit. I think a lot of people did. But I’m not normally a stress eater, so it was a little disconcerting. By the time I got that under control, shelter-in-place had been extended and I was told I wouldn’t be back to work until May 1st at the earliest. At least, not back to work in the building. The library staff have been doing our best to do some work from home, doing projects to keep our online patrons (and some of our offline ones as well) engaged. I think we’ve been doing a swell job, given the circumstances.

Other than not leaving the house to go to the day job, a big chunk of my daily routine has remained unchanged. Actually, in some ways it’s improved. The time off work has let my knees heal, which in turn has allowed me to get my fitness schedule back on track. The end of March was rough because of the stress of everything, but here we are in the beginning of April and I feel on track, productive even. The excessive anxiety that had been plaguing me since the beginning of March has finally lessened and I think I’ve gotten my sleep straightened out. At the very least, I’m sleeping through the night more often. My dreams are still pretty stressed out most of the time, though.

That’s not to say that everything is fine. The world still feels like it’s on a massive tilt in a lot of ways. I dread going grocery shopping even more than I did before all of this started. Running errands used to be a chore; now it’s a gauntlet.

As an introvert with a dash of social anxiety, staying at home hasn’t been that much of a challenge. Sitting out in the backyard, reading a book, feeding the squirrels, life feels almost normal.

But it’s not.

April Writing Projects

March was one hell of a year, huh? Yeah, it felt like it. I was already struggling with some mental health issues when the Rona came in full force and I found myself sanitizing every book that came into the library before we ended up having to close to the public due to shelter-in-place. That happened on March 17th and I’ve been at home since (with pay because our board loves us and looks after us), but perhaps unsurprisingly I haven’t been as productive as I’d like to have been. The stress right before we closed and right after the shelter-in-place used up most of my energy. It was a push for me to get episode 11 of Book ’em, Danno out on time and I really doubted that I’d get it done.

So, revisions on The Support Group Meets on Wednesday will continue. I have about one hundred pages of the manuscript left. Unfortunately, it’s also the section that will probably take the most re-writing. Ideally, I’d like to get the revisions done this month, but the way things have been going…

I’ll also be doing episode 12 of Book ’em, Danno. Back to the usual grind of covering two episodes, so it should be easier for me to get it done this month providing I don’t procrastinate. Stop laughing. Only one more episode and season 1 will be done. Wild, huh?

I know April is poetry month and I usually write a poem a day for it, but I think I’m going to take a break from it this year. You may all breathe a sigh of relief.

And while you’re relieved, why don’t you check out episode 4 of Murderville: The Coldest Case, which will go live on the 14th? $1 an episode lets you read, $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month. Like this month on the 28th. So become a patron and get your jollies.

Don’t forget to check out episode 11 of Book ’em, Danno. It covers three episodes, a regular episode and a two-parter. A longer episode, but since we’re all safe inside, you’ve got time to indulge. Feel free to like, heart, favorite, subscribe, share, and otherwise show a little love to my little show. I do appreciate it.