Where Has All My Mojo Gone?

I started off this year busting some serious tail. I got things done, man. I read four books in January alone. I was finishing projects and feeding off that accomplishment. I was even getting into the groove of starting Book ’em, Danno.

And then my mojo failed me.

Sometime around the end of February, it all started to dry up. This month has been hard. The productive days have dwindled from above average to bare minimum. I’m getting just what I need to get done to keep the train rolling, writing-wise. Podcast-wise, that train has come to a halt. I’m struggling to even write a blog post once a week. I don’t have the energy or the motivation or the interest for it. I’m tired more often than not.

Now, obviously, I’m looking for a solution. But to find a solution I first have to identify the cause. I’ve been having some trouble with that.

Is this a byproduct of some recent insomnia? Is it my depression acting up? Has my anemia returned (I was given the all-clear to stop my iron pills and have been off of them for about six weeks)? Is it PMS? Menopause (hopefully)? Something new? I don’t know. I haven’t been able to nail the root cause of my malaise down. Believe me. It’s frustrating.

More frustrating is that I now have to use the cooked spaghetti method of finding something to help me get my groove back. Just throw a bunch of possible solutions at the wall and see what sticks.

I’m getting back into my meditation, which I had slacked off on, so that should help with my sleep issues. I’m going back on my iron pills, just in case. I’m digging into my depression-managing toolbox to see if there’s any tricks in there I can try.

I’m also trying to conjure up some productivity by working on one of my half-assed resolutions. In trying to figure out something to do with the art I did last year, I’m starting a new art project. I’m hoping that getting those creative juices flowing will open up the dam for the rest of my creativity.

Pray for rain and get a flood of mojo working again.

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Murderville: Rounds of Luck- Episode 3

Loss/Gain

The police wrapped up their investigation a little after two in the morning. Otis sent Velvet down to meet Detective Carpenter at the backdoor when he knocked, which was fine with Velvet. Otis had been suspiciously quiet the whole time they’d been in the security room. Not that Otis was a real talker or anything, but he usually had at least something to say about everything and Velvet was sure Otis would have a lot to say about this. But he didn’t. He was quiet, and this quiet was deeper than his usual quiet, which irked Velvet.

“We’re finished for this evening,” Detective Carpenter said as Velvet tried not to look like she was looking for Detective Carthos. She decided that she liked his kind, awkwardness. It was comforting. “The crime scene tape is staying up for now. Forensics will be back in the morning to have a look around by daylight and I’ll probably be back sometime tomorrow, too, for my own look around. You and Guard Gorski can go back to your rounds as usual, but please avoid that side of the building for now. Let the next shift know what’s going on.”

“Sure. No problem.”

“Oh, and if one of you could drop the security footage off at the police station when you get off work in the morning, that will be helpful. The sooner we look at it, the better.”

“Again, no problem.”

Velvet smiled and nodded like she was talking to a teacher she was trying to please, an odd feeling since she hadn’t done anything wrong. Maybe Detective Carpenter just had that affect on people. She bet he got a lot of confessions. Bad guys were lulled by his good looks and nailed by his aura.

They said their goodbyes, Detective Carpenter reminding her to call if she or Otis remembered anything, and then he left, getting into the last unmarked car in the parking lot. As he pulled away, Velvet could make out the shadow of Detective Carthos riding next to him in the passenger seat.

Velvet closed and locked the backdoor and walked the maze back to the security room.

Otis sat in his chair like a grumpy lump, the deep, unhappy silence still heavy in the room. Velvet sighed and sat down next to him, her chair squeaking and popping.

“Detective Carpenter wants one of us to run the security footage over to the police station in the morning,” she said.

“You can do that,” Otis said, his gravelly voice agitated.

Velvet bristled at being volunteered.

“Why do I have to do it?”

“Because I found the body.”

“Man, that isn’t how this works.”

“How would you know how it works?”

“I know it doesn’t work like this.”

“I’ll put it together, you run it over,” Otis said, sitting up in his chair. He quickly pulled up the program on the systems computer that allowed him to copy the footage and started to go through it.

“Fine,” Velvet said, watching him work.

They probably could have had this done and waiting for the detectives by the time they left, but Otis didn’t seem to be in any hurry at the time to get it done and Velvet was in no mood to prod him.

Then.

Now, prodding Otis would be an excellent way to get things back to normal. And she was eager to get things back to normal and shake the creepy feelings that had been plaguing her all night, anything to erase the image of that dead man’s legs sticking out from between the dumpsters that she was sure to be seeing for a while. She wasn’t looking forward to going to sleep and seeing what her dreams had in store for her after a night like this.

“What’s with you?” Velvet asked, watching the monitors. Otis didn’t get as cranky with her for conversing if he thought she was keeping an eye on things.

“What do you mean what’s with me?” he asked, focusing on his own work.

“Why are you so cranky?”

“I’m always cranky.”

Velvet snorted.

“Yeah, but you’re cranky even for you. You’re not that fun cranky that I’ve come to know and love. You’re a sullen cranky that makes me want to push you over.”

Otis stopped what he was doing and looked at her. “Push me over?”

“That’s what I said.”

He shook his head and went back to his work.

“So?” Velvet prompted after a minute.

“So what?”

“So, what’s eating you?”

Otis didn’t answer.

“You’re underestimating me, Otis,” Velvet said with a little smile. “I will bug you until the rest of your hair falls out. When I want some information, I will stop at nothing to get it. You know this. You know how I can be.”

Otis stayed silent.

“I mean it, Otis. I will make our shifts a living hell for you with non-stop chatter if you don’t spill your beans. I will-”

“I’m retiring.”

The two words hit Velvet with the same force as a cinderblock chucked at her gut. It took her a couple of seconds to get her air back.

“You are not,” she said in disbelief.

“Yes, I am.”

###

Things are getting a little tense at the Kobel Warehouse on Rockrine Road. Want to read more? Check out Murderville or Patreon.

March Writing Projects

As you may have seen, my flash fiction collection, Take a Bite, did indeed get finished and published last month. And once it did, I started work on Book ’em, Danno. I actually recorded and edited the first episode and it’s not horrible. It’s something I’m going to continue to work on, so stay tuned for updates.

This month I’m going to revise The Coop Run. I wanted to work on something geared toward publication, be it traditional or self-publishing. I really need to do more work designed to generate income, which sounds crass, but hey, you like to get paid for the work you do. Well, same. Finishing The Coop Run would be an excellent gain on my 2019 project goals.

Speaking of projects.

I have GOT to re-organize my writing project To Do List of Doom. In the words of my grandmother, it is a fright. Directions have changed, projects have been abandoned, others have been started without notice. The current coagulation of projects is no longer helpful and I need to find another way to keep everything straight. So, that’s going to be something I work on this month.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised that it got so out of hand. After all, it is an extension of my brain and that place ain’t so neat either.

However, Murderville: Rounds of Luck is very neat and the next episode goes live on March 12th. Become a patron for $1 or $2 an episode and you can be neat, too.

New Release! Take a Bite: 25 Tasty and Twisted Flash Fiction Stories

Ghost…witches…murderers…werewolves…superstitions…revenge…the unexplained…monsters of all kinds…

25 flash fictions stories, dark, creepy, unsettling, and at 1,000 words a piece, the perfect bite-sized morsel to satisfy a horror craving.

Take a Bite: 25 Tasty and Twisted Flash Fiction Stories is out now! You can find this eBook at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo. And at the going price of $1.99, it’s a steal!

So Long, Peter

A week before the seventh anniversary of Davy Jones’s death and just a little over a week after his own birthday, Peter Tork passed away.

I’m heartbroken.

I wrote about my attachment to The Monkees when I remembered Davy after his passing. Losing the guys is something I’ve dreaded for a long time. Losing Davy hurt badly. Losing Peter doesn’t hurt any less.

He was a brilliant musician and a gifted songwriter, something that goes terribly overlooked just because he was part of a band initially created for a TV show. He played a slew of instruments. He just had that natural talent for understanding them and playing them. I always felt that he was underused as a vocalist and songwriter in the band, as well. The other guys had songs that were catered to their voices and styles. Peter should have had more of that treatment. Maybe he wasn’t the strongest vocalists, but he had a sound that should have been heard more.

I have a lot of his solo and non-Monkees work. I adore Shoe Suede Blues. I love the stuff he did with James Lee Stanley.

And of course I’m forever grateful for the role he played in The Monkees as an actor and a musician and as one of the architects of the happy place that I started constructing back in 1986.

Blessings to you, Peter. Safe trip beyond the horizon.

Murderville: Rounds of Luck-Episode 2

Blind Spots

The next noise Otis heard was the sirens of the approaching police cars. He watched the red and blue lights as they sped down the lane. A dead body where there shouldn’t be one warranted a little haste, though Otis fretted that Velvet might have gone into hysterics on the phone and that’s what caused the quick response. She must have had some of her wits about her, though. The lights disappeared around the far side of the building and then reappeared in the back lot.

The first responding officers, uniforms, quickly roped off the scene and set up generator powered lights, flooding the area with such bright light that Otis thought he could see every flaw in the concrete. One of the uniforms, a young guy that was probably only just out of school, ushered Otis to stand out of the way, but still inside the tape. A second uniform, obviously the veteran as he was nearly as old as Otis and carried himself in a similar manner (he’d seen it all), asked Otis for a rundown of what had happened, and Otis gave it to him in a succinct and professional manner.

Just before the detectives arrived, Velvet emerged from the building and came to stand with Otis, only she stayed on the outside of the tape. She looked better than she had before, though her arms were crossed tightly over her ample chest and she trembled a little like she was cold. The night was chilly, but not that chilly. Otis felt bad for her. He reached over and gave her shoulder a firm pat. She smiled weakly in return.

The two of them waited and watched in silence as the detectives talked with the uniforms and surveyed the scene, taking pictures and notes. A forensic team arrived and then the death investigator. Once the death investigator had her notes and pictures, she, the younger detective, a forensic officer, and one of the uniforms pushed the dumpsters apart to create a space around the dead man instead of pulling the man out. After even more pictures and some consultation, the senior police detective, a handsome black man in a pressed navy suit, walked over to Otis and Velvet. Otis stood up a little taller, smoothing down the front of his jacket.

“I’m Detective Josh Carpenter,” the man said, producing a notepad and pen from his pocket. “Are you the security guards who found the deceased?”

“That’s right, I did,” Otis said, voice firm and authoritative, professional. “I’m Guard Otis Gorski. As soon as I found the body, I alerted Guard Velvet Li,” Otis nodded to Velvet standing just behind him, still on the outside of the tape, “to call the police and Mr. Kobel.”

“Would that be Manfred Kobel?” Detective Carpenter asked, scribbling something in his notepad.

“That’s right. This is his warehouse, part of Kobel Industries.”

“I suppose that saves us the time of calling him ourselves,” Detective Carpenter said, glancing at Otis.

“Mr. Kobel insists that we call him any time, day or night, if something happens at one of his facilities,” Otis informed the detective, who nodded and scribbled.

“Very hands on kind of boss, huh?”

“He likes to know what’s going on with his businesses,” Otis said. “Can’t blame him for that.”

And Otis didn’t. He knew Velvet had no love for him, but he was overall rather indifferent to the man. He was just a boss and Otis had always been indifferent to those. They had their own agendas and as far as Otis was concerned, his job as a security guard had very little to do with that. He walked the grounds he was supposed to walk, watched the property he was supposed to watch, and collected his paycheck. That didn’t mean he didn’t take his job seriously because he did; Velvet Li would be first in line to tell anyone who questioned it. But the way he did his job had nothing to do with a loyalty to any particular boss. His loyalty was to the honor of being a security guard.

“Hey, Josh! Guess who are vic is!” the death investigator called to the detective.

“I don’t have to guess, Lu,” Detective Carpenter replied, still scribbling. “Because you’re going to tell me.”

“You’re no fun at all.”

“You’re enough fun for both of us.”

“True.”

Otis watched the death investigator hand an ID to the other detective, a much younger, whiter, cherub looking man whose grey-brown suit looked as though it had never existed without a wrinkle. He hurried it over to Detective Carpenter.

“Detective Carthos, this is Guard Gorski and Guard Li,” Detective Carpenter said, taking the ID from his partner without glancing at it. Otis nodded at Detective Carthos, who returned it. “Please take Guard Li,” he gestured to Velvet, “to a quiet spot for questioning.”

Otis looked at Velvet, a little concerned that she wouldn’t be up to it. But she looked a lot more alert than she had before. In fact, she looked downright feisty.

“What do I have to be questioned for?” Velvet asked, on the defense and ready to bite.

“Everyone has to be questioned, Guard Li,” Detective Carpenter said.

“I didn’t do anything,” Velvet said, and Otis held his breath instead of sighing loudly like he wanted to do.

“No one is saying you did, Guard Li,” Detective Carthos said, a little more gently than Detective Carpenter had spoken to her. “It’s just standard procedure.”

“They just want your statement about what happened, Velvet,” Otis said, trying to sound supportive and not annoyed.

“I saw a dead man’s legs by the dumpsters, damn near fainted, and called the police,” Velvet said. “There. That’s my statement.”

This time Otis didn’t restrain his vocal sigh or his annoyance.

“Velvet.”

“That’s a very good start, Guard Li,” Detective Carthos said, cutting Otis off. It irked him, but it was probably for the best. He and Velvet could really go at it when they were both in a sporting mood and now was not the time for that. “But if you could recount the events leading up to finding the body and making the phone call, it might help us understand more about what’s going on. Maybe even tip us off to who the killer might be. After all, something unimportant to you might be important to us.”

Velvet looked the detective up and down suspiciously. Just as Otis was about to open his mouth to tell Velvet to talk to the damn detective and answer his questions, the death investigator called out to the assembled uniformed officers.

“Time to put this man on a gurney and get him home to the morgue. Who’s going to help me?”

Velvet’s dark skin paled and the fire in her eyes went out without so much as a puff of smoke.

“Fine, I’ll talk to the detective, but over there.” She pointed behind her. “Around the corner. I’ve already seen more of that dead man than I ever wanted to.”

“That’ll be just fine. Lead the way,” Detective Carthos said with a smile.

Detective Carthos nodded to his partner and then walked past Otis, ducking under the tape and following Velvet as she hurried around the corner.

“Is she going to be all right?” Detective Carpenter asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Otis said, turning to him. “She’s a tough girl. Really good at her job. I sort of took her under my wing when she first got here. Showed her the ropes. She’s a good girl. It’s her first dead body, I think. The first one is always a shock.”

“Ah. I see.”

Detective Carpenter looked at the ID in his hand, a flicker of recognition crossing his face. Otis wondered who the dead man was since both the death investigator and the detective seemed to recognize him.

“Who is in charge here?”

Otis turned around already knowing what he would see. All of the noise and bright lights of the crime scene must have blotted out the headlights and sound of the car coming up the lane.

Manfred Kobel had arrived.

###

The fun is only getting started. To read more, check out Murderville or Patreon.

Just Let Me Have This Tantrum and Then I’ll Do It

A favorite story about me (stop me if you’ve heard it) is about the time when I was three years old and they found me crying in the closet at my grandparents’ house with a huge book open on my lap. The problem? I was mad at myself because I couldn’t read it.

And that pretty much sums up a big part of my personality.

I operate under the delusion that I should be able to do anything whether I know how to do it or not. Running tangent to this delusion is my bad habit of doing everything the hard way. Throw in my inability to ask for help and my overwhelming stubborn streak, and I am a recipe for minor explosions. And being the creative type, they occur more frequently than I’d like.

My most recent tantrum was about Book ’em, Danno, the podcast that is yet to be. I attempted some recordings for it one night and was so dissatisfied with what I had done that I went on Twitter to declare myself a failure as a podcaster and effectively cancelled the project.

And then two days later, I decided to try again.

That’s the usual outcome of my tantrums. I get frustrated, I get fed up, I chuck it in the fuck it bucket, and then end up digging it back out again.

Believe me. It’s just as annoying to me as it is to you.

But for whatever reason, it’s the way I work. It’s not very efficient. Laws knows that it’s not good for my blood pressure or my sanity. I don’t care to count how many projects I’ve rage-quit and then come back to and successfully finished. I do my best to keep these tantrums to myself because I know how likely it is that I’ll change my mind.

However, sometimes…

Yeah. If you see me having a bit of a meltdown about something I’m working on, just give me a little sympathy, pat me on the back, and rest assured that I’ll get it done in the end.