Murderville: The End Of- Episode 8

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I Shoulda Been…

Do you ever think about what you could been? Or shoulda been?

Being a writer is a natural choice for me in many respects. I wrote my first story at six. I wrote and produced plays for the neighborhood kids in the summer. I wrote a radio play and we recorded it on a blank cassette tape using our old red radio. I’d make up stories for us to act out when we were playing pretend and then I’d try to write them down later. I was always starting stories that never got finished (that discipline came later). I read a lot and enjoyed living in those worlds, marveling at how those stories were created. Writing is something I’ve always done. I’m plagued with stories that demand to get out of my head even if I’m just telling them to myself.

However.

I probably shoulda been something else.

If I’m going to be honest, I shoulda been a bookkeeper or an accountant or a professional budget creator or something. Because I like money. And I like math when it relates to money. Since my mother first paid me to work in her daycare, I’ve tracked my money, estimated my paychecks, created budgets for myself, figured out payment plans for debt, figured out savings plans. I am annoyingly enthusiastic when it comes to finding new ways to manipulate and math my money. I’ll even math other people’s money.

Right now, I keep a monthly spreadsheet to track my income and spending. And I like it.

When people talk about making money by doing things they love, it’s usually said sort of wistfully, like what they love to do couldn’t easily be translated into a steady income. And here my love of crunching numbers is not only an actual job, but you can get a whole college degree in it.

I’m not exactly sure why I never thought about it as a viable career route, especially considering my limited college options at the time. My great-aunt had been a bookkeeper for years as well. It would have been an easy opportunity to explore. And yet…

It never came up. Never even crossed my mind as I budgeted the paychecks I collected from working in retail and worked in a credit union. Never thought much about it while I worked in the cash office of a store, calculating deposits worth thousands. It was right there in front of me and I never saw it.

If I had, maybe I’d be enjoying a day job of crunching numbers to pay my bills while I wrote.

Maybe I still can.

August Writing Projects

Wow, look at that. August already. This year is just rolling by.

And I’m still working on stuff that I swore I’d have done in June.

Yeah.

So, this day job is turning into one of the hardest retail jobs I’ve ever had and what was supposed to be an easy part-time gig to help pay the bills is actually a huge time and energy vortex that I’m getting swallowed up in. My plan was to write at least a page on all of my current projects on the days that I work and then really rack up the words on my days off. The struggle with that, though, is that sometimes I don’t have the time (or energy) to get in my one page on everything, and then on my days off, I can still only manage the absolute minimum because I’m recovering from working.

If there’s going to be anything new, then August will see a shift in priorities. As much as I hate to stop working on a project in the middle, The Coop Run rewrite has to go on the back burner for now. Season 3 of Murderville needs to be my focus until I get it done, and I need to get it done as quickly as possible. Ideally, I’ll have it finished in the first couple of weeks of the month so I can let it rest a bit and then revise it in September. Because here’s the thing. Season 3 needs to be done all the way down to the eBook before NaNo. I’m already way behind my usual schedule. Now I have to play catch up and hope I don’t fuck up.

I also need to make some time to revise and polish next season’s preview story. But that’s a problem for next month me.

Right now, it’s all about finishing Murderville Season 3.

I’ll work out the rest later.

Speaking of Murderville, the very last episode of season 2, The End Of, goes live on August 14th. Don’t worry! It’s easy to catch up. Just become a patron and you’ll get access to every intriguing moment. $1 an episode let’s you read; $2 an episode lets you read AND gets you swell bonuses every other month, like whatever is happening on the 28th. Don’t miss out!

Rerun Junkie–Best Characters to Join a Show After the First Season

One day a question floated across my Twitter timeline: Who’s the best character to join a show after the first season?

And my immediate response was, “I can’t answer this with a tweet. I need a blog post!”

So here I am, months later, finally getting around to answering that highly subjective question. In order to keep from rambling, I only picked characters from shows I’ve written about here. And even then, I restrained myself to keep it down to a dull roar.

Let’s start off with a couple of the more subjective ones and work our way (okay, my way) closer to objective.

Ben Kokua (Al Harrington) and Duke Lukela (Herman Wedemeyer), Hawaii Five-OYeah, you’re going to have to fight me on this one. Ben replaced Kono (Zulu) at the beginning of the fifth season and stayed through the seventh season. I feel he made a nice addition to the team. Solid, native, not flashy, except when he was undercover and had to wear ugly shirts as part of the gig. Al Harrington had already been on the show a few times, playing other (and usually bad) guys, and has since had a recurring role on the new show (playing yet another character). Clearly, every version of this show needs Al Harrington in some form, though I maintain Ben was the best.

Duke is a legend in my mind. Though Herman Wedemeyer was there from the beginning, the character of Duke didn’t actually happen until the fourth season. Of the 155 episodes that Herman Wedemeyer is credited for, only seven were not as Duke Lukela. Better yet, we get to watch as Duke goes from uniformed officer bit role to a detective with a starring credit in the final season. How marvelous is that? And if you still doubt that Duke should be on this list, then let me point out that the current show also has a Duke Lukela and he’s played by Dennis Chun, the son of the original Chin Ho, Kam Fong. Now that’s legend.

Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak), Murder, She Wrote–When Tom Bosley left the show, Cabot Cove needed a new sheriff. With Amos Tupper retired, the new law in town came in the form of Mort Metzger, a city cop who didn’t understand why the murder rate of a small town was so high and why some old woman was so involved in solving them. It was the fish-out-of-water aspect of Ron Masak’s character that not only separated him from Amos, but from everyone else in town. He spent half of his time bewildered by the goings-on of the locals, his hard line approach not so effective in a town where everybody knows everybody. Considering Ron Masak was in episodes of both The Monkees and Land of the Lost, it’s no wonder he was able to bring a touch of brilliance to this character and even make his never-seen, often-referred to wife Adelle come to life.

Detective Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) and Officer Carl Levitt (Ron Carey), Barney Miller–Both Steve Landesberg and Ron Carey appeared on the show as different characters prior to becoming the two of the characters on this list. Steve Landesburg first appeared as Father Paul in the first episode of season 2. The 12th episode of that same season, he made his first appearance as Dietrich, a dry-humored, incredibly intelligent detective who came in as Fish was going out. Of course, the two would appear together for over a season until Abe Vigoda’s official departure at the beginning of season 4. Many of his first episodes involved him trying to find a place in the 12th precinct. By the time the show ended, it was hard to imagine what it was like without him.

Ron Carey’s first appearance was as a character called The Mole in the last episode of the second season. It was only the third episode of the third season when he made his first appearance as Carl Levitt, a short, overly-enthusiastic uniform keen on making detective some day and taking every available opportunity to get into plain clothes. Not just a punchline, Levitt got to be the hero by saving some kids, ratted out the squad room with petty grievances to both protect them and to express his displeasure from being put down all the time, and eventually made detective in the final episode. As well he should.

Festus Haggen (Ken Curtis), Gunsmoke–This twenty-year show was on the air nine years before Festus Haggen settled in Dodge City permanently. It’s hard to imagine Gunsmoke without Ken Curtis, especially since most of the syndication packages typically show the later episodes, but Dennis Weaver played Chester Good for 290 episodes (1955-1964). Festus’s first appearance actually came in 1962, but he became a regular in 1964 after Dennis Weaver left and ended up becoming such an iconic character that it’s hard to imagine Ken Curtis as anyone else (he was, though, playing a few different characters on the show before becoming Festus). Dodge City wouldn’t be the same without him.

This list is far from complete, of course. And it’s far from objective, as I warned. I might just answer this question again sometime in the future. New list, new shows, new characters. The answers are endless.

Who do you think the best characters are that joined a show after the first season?

Change the Chant

Anyone who has anxiety will tell you that it’s very real and very dumb. Your brain decides everything is terrible and despite your logical assertions that everything is in fact fine, your brain disagrees. Endlessly.

I have several ways to cope with my anxiety because some days it’s worse than others. With the new day job in retail, learning the specifics of this job (a lot of retail is the same, but every store has their own style), and the drastically increased face-to-face interactions with humans, my anxiety has definitely been worse.

One of the consequences of my anxiety going on a rage is that I don’t sleep and/or don’t sleep well. Sleep is sort of important to my well-being, as it is for most people. Due to my recent health issues, it’s been very important.

One of the ways that I cope with my anxiety is through chanting mantras. It’s a quick and easy way to calm my mind and the anxiety in the moment. It’s also very helpful at slowing down the mental chatter before sleep. The rhythm of the words soothes me and the words themselves plant pleasantness in my brain.

The mantras have been getting a workout due to the new day job and the chaos therein. The Wal-Mart in town is closing, our business has dramatically increased, and it’s been slow going getting more help and more hours to compensate for it. My anxiety has been zinging.

So, it’s no wonder that the mantras I’ve always used have been recently overused and have stopped working.

It’s not ideal, for sure. There is no rest when I come home from a long, hectic shift, go to sleep, and my dreams put me right back at work. I don’t enjoy working the same shift twice.

After a few rough nights, I realized that maybe the solution wasn’t too far from my old tricks.

The old mantras didn’t seem to work anymore. Maybe a new one would? A mantra specifically geared towards releasing the anxiety associated with work. I tried it for a few nights and it…helped? I still dreamed about work, but instead of reliving my shift or fighting not to dream about work, I just let it roll. The dreams weren’t as intense and didn’t last very long before I moved on to my usual dream weirdness (I was involved in a heist that used plastic wrap and wasn’t nearly as clever as everyone thought it was; we all should have been caught). In short, the new mantra has helped me reclaim at least a somewhat more restful night.

Once things with the day job smooth out, it’ll go into the coping toolbox with the rest of the mantras.

But until then, I’ll chant away.

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 7

The Secrets of Sisters

Lu stood on the stoop waiting for Merry Miller to answer the door.

She had no need to be there, no real right to be there, and yet, Lu had questions and she wanted those questions answered.  No doubt Josh wouldn’t be thrilled about her snooping, but if Josh could deal with Nico’s inability to put his underwear in a laundry basket, instead throwing it all over the floor (and the man had the gall to criticize her bathroom habits from twenty years ago), then he could surely deal with his devoted and caring sister-in-law following up on a lead and helping him out on a case that meant a whole hell of a lot to both of their careers.

Merry Miller worked from home and Lu should have called ahead to both make sure that Miss Miller was there and to let her know that she was coming, but Lu didn’t have her number and didn’t have the patience at the moment to track it down in such a way that Josh wouldn’t know about it.

Merry Miller opened the door, looking more than a little surprised to see Lu.  Miss Miller was dressed much like she had been the first time Lu met her: she wore a brightly printed dress and matching lipstick.  Her blonde hair was down today, though, falling in natural waves around her shoulders.  Lu wondered why this super cute, bubbly woman was wasting her time with married men when she could have her pick of the singles.  But then Lu remembered that it had been only one married man and this woman’s relationship status was none of her damn business.

“Hi, Miss Miller,” Lu said, smiling brightly, hoping that the black polo shirt with the coroner’s office logo on the breast wasn’t too alarming.  “I don’t know if you remember me from the other day.  I’m Lu Jones.  I’m a death investigator.  I was here with Detective Carpenter.”

“Oh, yes!  Of course,” Miss Miller said and she gave a little laugh that sounded a bit relieved.  “I saw the shirt and thought something else awful had happened.”

Lu smiled tightly.  “Yeah, I get that a lot.  Do you mind if I come in?  I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask you.”

“About Starla?”  Lu nodded and Miss Miller stepped aside.  “Of course.  Come in, come in.”

She led Lu back into her living room, back to her sofa, and offered her a drink.  This time Lu did accept a glass of iced tea.  She thought maybe this would make them both more relaxed.  It was different without Josh here, leading things.  Now it was Lu’s turn to ask all of the right questions.  The sudden concern that she might ask the wrong thing or say the wrong thing crawled up Lu’s spine and perched on her shoulder like a gargoyle.  If she screwed this up for Josh…

Miss Miller came into the living room carrying two glasses of iced tea and she handed one to Lu before sitting down on the loveseat.

“Have you found anything out about who might have killed Starla?” Miss Miller asked, hopeful.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Lu said, watching Miss Miller’s face fall.  She quickly added, “But Detective Carpenter has been working diligently on the case, interviewing people.  It’s really only a matter of time.”

Miss Miller nodded and Lu inwardly cringed.  The last thing she needed to be doing was giving this woman any kind of false hope.  What the hell possessed her to do this again?  Lu took a big gulp of her tea before proceeding.

###

Will this case twist to the breaking point? Check out Murderville or Patreon to find out!

July Writing Projects

This projects post is going to be incredibly short because what I was doing in June is what I’m doing in July.

I’ll continue rewriting The Coop Run as a novella and continue writing the first draft of season 3 of Murderville.

Will I get them both done this month?

I don’t know. I’d like to think so. I’m getting better at finding the balance between the day job and writing. I’ve got more of a plan happening and I’m seeing the progress. How much progress I make is up to how well I work the plan.

Aside from that, I’m not putting any real pressure on myself. I talked a bit about my recent struggle, and I’m good with easing myself out of that.

So. Yeah. That’s about it.

Episode 7 of Murderville: The End Of drops on July 10th. Second to last episode of the season. But it’s never too late to become a patron. $1 an episode let’s you read; $2 an episode gets you a bonus every other month. Couch change well-spent!