April Writing Projects

Last month I wrapped up the first round of revisions on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and wrote the first draft of a short story called “The Support Group Meets on Wednesday”, as well as continued writing my one page a day for my experiment.

What I did not do was submit any short stories.

It’s the same ol’, same ol’. I look at what I have ready to submit and then I look at the markets that I find that are taking submissions and things don’t match up. At the very end of the month, I did find one story that kind of matched with one market, but I ended up re-writing the story to make it match better. So, I’ll submit it this month. And I’ll hopefully be able to submit another story or two to other places.

It also looks like I’ll be continuing my agent search with (Vampires) Made in America.

I’m not exactly sure, as I stare at my To Do List of Doom, what I want to work on this month. I think that’s a sign that I need to switch gears a bit.

Since April is National Poetry Month, I’m going to attempt to write a poem every day. I’ve done this before and I enjoyed myself. I have so many poem fragments around, I feel like this will be a good way to turn them into something while also shaking things up a bit.

I may also work on some non-fiction. I’ve got some possible projects that I’ve been speculating on and now might be the time to take a harder look at them.

Maybe I’ll work on a script since I have so many of them in various stages, too.

This month is my oyster, really.

Speaking of sea things…

Come to the Rocks is set to be released by NineStar Press on April 16th! Pre-order it and you get three days early. So order today! It’s like set it and forget it and then you get a surprise that will have your future self thanking your past self. Trust me.

Episode four of Murderville: The End Of goes live on April 10th. Become a patron for only $1 an episode. $2 patrons will get a bonus on April 24th. It’s never too late to get in on a killer good time.

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Rerun Junkie–Hawaii Five-O Favorites Seasons 1-4

If you’ve been listening to Eventually Supertrain (and you should be!), then you know that Dan and I sometimes kid about me doing a Hawaii Five-O podcast called Book ’em, Danno because I can often make connections between Hawaii Five-O and The Green Hornet.

Now, I don’t know if my lazy self will ever go through with such a threat, but it did give me the idea to do a blog post about my favorite episodes. And when I was going through the seasons picking out my favorites, I realized that I needed to show some kind of restraint.

So, here’s what I did.

I picked one episode from each season that I love and would recommend to someone else. I tried to pick ones that I haven’t already mentioned on the blog. Since there are twelve seasons of the show, this is going to be split up into three different posts with four episodes a post. And even though this show went off the air the same year I was born, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers.

Believe me when I say that this wasn’t easy and I will most likely be writing about the episodes I’m not mentioning here.

Until then…

“Out for the Money” Season 1, episode 17. Air date: February 5, 1969. Story by Robert Sampler. Teleplay by Palmer Thompson. Directed by Paul Stanley.

McGarrett receives a cryptic letter and a photo of a woman with her face crossed out. The woman’s been stabbed to death. After a second victim/letter/photo combo appears, it looks like there’s a serial killer on the loose. Both victims were employed by the same company, run by a woman named Martha. Her two nephews, Charlie and Arthur, also work for her. It turns out this killer has quite the agenda involving this company.

This is a delightfully twisty episode. Aunt Martha is played by my favorite Jeanette Nolan and the nephews are played by Farley Granger (Strangers on a Train) and Paul Collins (JAG). Between the captivating story and the guest cast, it’s an excellent episode that keeps you on the edge until the very end.

“Most Likely to Murder” Season 2, episode 21. Air date: February 21, 1970. Written by Robert Hamner. Directed by Nicholas Colasanto.

Police officer Lew Morgan’s wife is murdered. As Lew’s friend, this case is pretty personal for Danno. It turns out the good cop’s wife was having affairs and it’s her latest lover, a criminal, that’s the favorite suspect. Five-O needs to find him before the apparently grief-stricken husband finds him first.

Another tightly twisted episode featuring a mustache-less Tom Skerritt as Lew Morgan. Sam Melville (The Rookies) plays number one suspect Gary Oliver and Linda Ryan, who plays one of Gary’s former lovers, Gloria Warren, appeared on the show eleven times over twelve seasons, only playing the same character twice. She also inspired me to get my own pixie cut. Anyway, Danno’s personal involvement in the case gives the story a nice weight, creating a couple of good gut punches towards the end.

“Over 50? Steal” Season 3, episode 11. Air date: November 25, 1970. Written by E. Arthur Kean. Directed by Bob Sweeney.

Lewis Avery Filer is an insurance investigator forced into early retirement. In apparent revenge, Filer steals from businesses insured by his former employer using a variety of tricks and disguises that captures the attention of the press and all of our hearts. Okay, except for Five-O, who has a devil of a time catching up to him. Filer returns in season 4’s “Odd Man In”.

If you were to ask me what my all-time favorite episode of Hawaii Five-O is, I’d probably blurt this one out. Hume Cronyn is Lewis Filer and he is having an absolute ball with this character. The cleverness of the crimes and the likeability of the character really has you on his side. He’s a crook you can love! And when you find out his ultimate goal for the money, you really don’t want him to be caught. Filer is just as much fun when he comes back in “Odd Man In”.

“Goodnight, Baby-Time to Die!” Season 4, episode 21. Air date: February 15, 1972. Written by Abram S. Ginnes. Directed by Alf Kjellin.

A convicted murderer who’s been threatening a woman has escaped from jail. McGarrett and company go to the woman’s house to both protect her and hopefully catch the convict. As they wait, they receive calls and updates about the man while McGarrett talks to the woman about her connection to the killer.

This is one of those episodes where I can only tell you to watch it. The first time I did, the swerve broke my neck. No joke. It’s a very well done episode featuring Beth Brickell (Gentle Ben) as Carol Rhodes, the target of escaped convict LB Barker, played by William Watson (Gunsmoke, M*A*S*H). It’s a taut thriller of an episode that’s still good on repeated viewings.

Read about the favorite episodes from seasons 5-8 here.

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 3

To Complicate Things

Josh and his partner Vince sat on the couch in the living room of Stella James’s sister, Brandy Everly.  Her husband, and Stella’s brother-in-law, Lance sat in a chair opposite them.  Mrs. Everly was in the other room, finishing up a phone call.

The search of Starla James’s luxurious apartment quickly revealed that it wasn’t the site of her death, but also revealed little in the way of clues as to who the culprit might be.  Everything was neat, tidy, orderly, and there was no sign of any of the men that Starla James might be connected with, either currently or in the past.  The most Josh and Vince were able to recover was the name of the victim’s next of kin.

The Everly’s living room was done up tastefully enough in dark wood and white, which let Josh know that this couple didn’t have any children or pets.  The white couch he and Vince sat on was spotless.  Lance Everly sat nervously on the edge of his chair, waiting for his wife so the couple could receive the bad news that Josh and Vince had brought them.  Not that they knew at the moment they’d be receiving bad news, but what good news do two plain clothes detectives ever bring?  Mr. Everly was a thin man, young with an older cast, like he worked too hard for too little.  Josh watched him fidget as he waited, his hands unable to remain still, the only attempt at small talk to fill the time unsuccessful.  Josh wanted to keep this serious and direct.

“I’m sorry about that,” Mrs. Everly said as she entered the room.  “I’m trying to organize a girls’ night out for next weekend and you would not believe how involved it is.”

She smiled at the two detectives as she perched herself on the arm of her husband’s chair, putting an arm around his anxious shoulders.  Brandy Everly didn’t quite have the exotic, sexy beauty that her sister had, but she wasn’t unattractive.  Instead of black hair, hers was red, and kept about shoulder length in an easy, flattering style.  She was thinner, less-curvy than her sister, and whatever bosom she might have had was discreetly concealed beneath a modest dark purple blouse that matched her light purple capris.

“Now, what’s this all about?” Mrs. Everly asked.

Josh felt Vince shift beside him.  This was a tough part of the job, informing someone that their loved one had died and not in a natural manner.  The reactions to such news varied from person to person and there was no clear predictor of what to expect.

“Mrs. Everly, I’m sorry to inform you that your sister was found deceased early this afternoon,” Josh said.

He waited while the words found their meaning for the couple.  Mr. Everly looked up at his wife, reaching back to grasp her hand that rested on his shoulder.  Mrs. Everly stared at the two detectives for a moment, her face somewhat neutral, as though the full weight of her sister’s death hadn’t quite hit yet.

“What happened?” she asked softly.

“Your sister was found hanging from a tree at End Of,” Josh said.

“She killed herself?” Mrs. Everly asked.

“Right now we can’t say,” Josh said, watching as Mr. Everly squeezed his wife’s hand hard.  Lu called it a homicide, but Josh wanted to be careful with that information for now.  It hadn’t been confirmed.  “We have to wait for the autopsy results before a cause of death can be conclusively stated.  But as an unattended, suspicious death, we have to investigate it.  Are you up for answering a few questions?”

Mrs. Everly nodded.

“Do you know of any reason why your sister might have wanted to take her own life?” Josh asked.

Mr. Everly looked down at the white-carpeted floor, considering.  Mrs. Everly sighed and looked at Josh.

“Maybe she was finally tired of being a whore.”

###

Keep up with the latest mystery. Check out Murderville or Patreon!

What a Difference a Book Makes

I’ve just wrapped up the first round of revisions/rewrites on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. I think I might need only one more round of light revisions, and then I can polish it up. I stress might. Like, I said. Right now I’m feeling pretty pleased.

Part of that is because I am pretty satisfied with the work I’ve done on the novel and how swell it’s all gone so far.

The other part is me comparing the work on this novel to the work I did on (Vampires) Made in America.

For those of you playing the home game, you know that both of these novels, as well as another NaNo first draft called To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, is all part of my Outskirts universe that began with the short story “My Winter with Stanley”. So comparing the revision process of the two novels makes sense.

I wrote the first draft of (Vampires) Made in America for NaNo in 2011 and back then it was called American Vampires. While the basic story remained intact throughout several revisions, the context of the story changed dramatically. We’re talking major rewrites. I think I rewrote it at least twice before I could even get to the point of doing revisions.

Contrast that with The End of the (Werewolf) Curse. I wrote it for NaNo in 2015. I did some light rewriting to probably the last third of the book, along with some revisions throughout. That’s it.

The biggest difference between the two were the first drafts. When I wrote (Vampires) Made in America, I was still learning how to write a first draft effectively (though I’d already learned quite a bit by that point), but outline for the book was probably the best I’d done at the time. When I wrote The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, I knew what I was doing. I had the outline and I knew how to write what I was writing. The years of practice in between had paid off.

And because the first draft was better (though still garbage because first drafts are supposed to be), the revisions have been better.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m getting better as a writer. Comparing myself to other writers isn’t really good for my ego because I read so many who are much better than I am.

So to see that at least the actual technique of my work has improved, well, that’s something I can appreciate.

Even if I’m the only one.

March Writing Projects

Last month I said I was only going to work on revising The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, but thought I might do something else, too, because I so rarely do just one thing.

Yeah, no. That was it.

And I didn’t even get it done.

Okay, I sort of knew that I wouldn’t get it done in February because I typically only revise one, maybe two chapters a day and there are more chapters in the first draft than days in the month. Throw in a couple of unwell days when I didn’t do as much as I’d like and a couple of tough spots to revise, and there was no chance of getting it done before March.

However, it shouldn’t be any trouble to get it wrapped up in the first week of March. The ending needs some real work and some of it could be a struggle, but I think I can get it done.

And after I do, I’m going to work on a short story that might likely become the first chapter of another novel. We’ll see. Story first.

I’m also going to be working on submitting some of the short stories that I have done that are just sitting there. I need to get back in that game a little bit.

If you’re curious, I’m keeping up with my experiment to write a page a day on a novel. It’s about sixty pages of nothing like I’m currently working on and I find it very refreshing to write a page not knowing exactly where it’s going to go and having only a vague idea of the story.

This experiment is going rather well.

Episode 3 of Murderville: The End Of goes live on March 13th. Don’t miss out! Become a patron for a $1 an episode and read about Detective Josh Carpenter and his sister-in-law, death investiagor Lu Jones, as they try to solve the mysterious death of another Munsterville resident. For $2 an episode, you get all of that murdery goodness, plus bonus content, including peeks into other projects I’m working on. It’s never too late to get in on the killer fun.

Halfway Through 100

As you may recall, I decided to do a few experiments this year. One of those experiments involved exercising at least 20 minutes a day, every day, for 100 days.

I’m now halfway through that goal.

The good news is that I’m not dead. I honestly thought by this point I’d be ready to quit, totally over the grind, constantly sore and tired. Well, I am constantly sore and tired, but I was before I started this little endeavor, so not much has changed there.

What has changed is how much easier it is for me to do my workouts in the morning. With this challenge in place, my stubborness wins out on the days that I’m not feeling like doing yoga or belly dance or cardio. I do it anyway. I feel like this stretch of consistency has set a good precedent for what happens after the 100 days is up.

I admit that I’m being careful with myself. The last thing I want to do is derail this experiment by doing myself an injury. And I acknowledge that my fitness level isn’t even close to where it used to be and where I’d like it to be.

But, it’s been fifty days, so I’m sure you’re wondering if I’ve noticed any progress.

Honestly, just a smidge. I was slow in introducing cardio into the routine because I knew how bad mine had gotten. So far, I’ve not died and I’ve noticed that the very basic, beginner routine I’m doing is slowly getting easier. I’m getting better at the yoga routines that I’ve been doing, though I haven’t mastered the half moon pose without falling over yet. And my belly dancing is getting stronger.

At least, this is what I’ve noticed on the good days. On the bad days, the days in which I’m tired and sore and cranky, it takes every bit of my energy to make it through half-way decently. I am noticing more good days than bad days, though.

Oh, when you ask about progress, you mean weight loss.

Well, I dunno. Maybe. The scale we have isn’t the most reliable thing. When I did my weigh-in (after four weeks), I either stayed the same, lost three pounds, or gained five. So, you know. Whatever.

Of course, weight loss isn’t my measure. I’m going by how I’m feeling. Am I feeling better?

Yeah, a little.

No, it’s not happening as fast as I’d like, definitely not as dramatically as I’d like, but it is trending in the right direction.

I’ll take it.

Rerun Junkie–Automan

The world’s first automatic man.

Automan is not a show I knew about until recently, coming across the title while doing research on something else. In November of 2017, Red Giant put out a short based on Automan that was written and directed by Aharon Rabinowitz and starring David Hewlett as the title character, Hewlogram. Between this hilarious short (please go watch it and the making-0f video because it’s just as much fun) and watching the opening for the actual series, I put this one on my to-watch list.

And as luck would have it, I received the series on DVD for my birthday.

(I also received Hewlogram poster that I won that same week. My 38th birthday week was lit in a hologram sort of way.)

Automan aired in 1983 for just 13 episodes. Starring Chuck Wagner as Automan, Desi Arnaz Jr. as his creater Walter Nebicher, Heather McNair as Roxanne Caldwell, Gerald S. O’Laughlin as Captain Boyd, Robert Lansing as Lt. Jack Curtis, and Cursor as himself. No, really. The little cursor thing got a credit.

If you bothered watching Hewlogram, then you’d have the basic premise of Automan. Walter Nebicher is a computer programmer and police officer whose captain prefers him in his little computer room and not out on the streets. He creates Automan, a hologram so powerful that it can hit a dude across a room. Only Walter’s co-worker and sort of love interest Roxanne knows that Automan is a hologram. Oh, and Cursor is a little firefly looking thing that can draw anything and make it real, like a suit over Automan’s Tron body or a super fast car. It’s also a bit of a perv. Because Automan requires a certain amount of power to exist, he sometimes has to disappear when he feels his battery getting low or find creative ways to recharge. All of this in the name of fighting crime.

The buddy cop duo we need and deserve.

The show only ran 13 episodes and that’s both criminal and totally understandable. In only 13 episodes, we had mobsters, tropical locations, corrupt cops, corrupt sheriffs, bikers, Laura Branigan, a male exotic dance club called Zippers, bombing threats, diamond smuggling, and I’m pretty sure every episode featured covers of popular songs of the time as well as the laughing freeze frame at the end. You can’t pack that much awesome into such a short run. The star that burns that brightly, burns out too soon.

It also suffers from the some questionable dialogue that boarders on painful, the obvious jokes and cheesiness that permeated the ’80s, and some less-than acting, though I blame the dialogue for a lot of it. Seriously, some of those lines are face-smackingly cringey.

But, it’s an incredibly fun show! Chuck Wagner is adorable as Automan. He embodies this hologram that is, in his own words, an eleven on a scale from one to ten while also being rather naive about the ways of humans. To help him learn about humans, Walter had Auto watch movies and TV shows. Auto inadvertently watching multiple episodes of a soap opera is a highlight.

Speaking of Walter, he’s not just an inept computer nerd. Yeah, in a few episodes things don’t go his way and he gets his ass handed to him, but he’s not incompetent. And he does get in his licks. He’s also not a total loser with the ladies. After all, Roxanne is one hot chick and he doesn’t seem to have any trouble with her.

Together, Walter and Auto are, well, maybe not unstoppable or unbeatable, but they get the job done and they’re entertaining.

Giving a new meaning to the boys in blue.

The plots are typical ’80s grand with titles like “Staying Alive While Running a High Flashdance Fever”,  “Murder MTV”, “Murder, Take One”,  “Death By Design”, and “Club Ten”. In one episode called “Renegade Run”, you have Richard Lynch as a corrupt sheriff that pits him against biker Billy Drago. I know, right? How great is that? Pretty great.

In addition to Richard Lynch, Billy Drago, and Laura Branigan, the show also featured guest stars Clu Gulager, Mary Crosby, Patrick Macnee, Ed Lauter, John Vernon, Anne Lockhart, France Nuyen, Robert F. Lyons, Delta Burke, William Windom, Terry Kiser, Don Galloway, Richard Anderson, Doug McClure, Walter Brooke, Sid Haig, Mickey Jones, and Ola Ray.

Check out that crop. Nothing but cream.

Okay, Automan is a little on the silly side. It’s the early ’80s turned up to eleven. It is glorious.

Just ask Cursor.

The little perv.

Murderville: The End of- Episode 2

A Little Bit Suspicious

Lu Jones looked up at her brother-in-law as he gaped down at her.

“You look like a fish,” she said.

Detective Josh Carpenter’s mouth snapped shut.

“How can you tell she was murdered?” Josh asked, narrowing his eyes at her.

“It’s kind of the whole point of my job to be able to do that,” Lu said.

“Lu.”  It was a warning and Lu shrugged it off as easily as if it had come from one of her siblings.  The curse of the two of them working together for almost as long as Josh had been with Nico.

“Well, it’s nothing so obvious as the rope done wrong,” Lu said, walking towards the body.  Josh followed her.  “But, there’s antemortem bruising under the rope inconsistent with hanging.  And her face is the wrong color.  It’s a little too red.  That implies force.”

“So, she wasn’t hung?”

Lu shook her head.  “Not by this rope and this tree.  Though, if I had to guess, I’d say she was strangled.  Dr. Pascal will make the final call on that.”

“What do you mean about the rope being done wrong?” Josh asked, peering as closely at the noose as he could bear to get.

Lu grinned.  “The movie The Black Cat?  Remember?”

Josh frowned.  Lu and Nico were big horror film fans, a fitting favorite genre for their lines of work.  They’d often get together to watch them and many of their conversations featured references to them.  Lu was a little disappointed that more of this hadn’t rubbed off on Josh.

“Isn’t that the one where Bela Lugosi skins Boris Karloff alive?” Josh asked, squinting the way he did when he was trying to remember something.

Lu heard Vince mutter something under his breath and she was pretty sure it was in response to the mention of skinning, not the overall topic.  Vince was green, but he’d been on enough death scenes with Lu and Josh to know how they operated.

“No, this one has Bela Lugosi, but he plays a gardener that gets shot as a scapegoat.”

“I don’t remember that one.”

“That’s a shame,” Lu said with a shrug and went back to business.  “I’ll bag the vic’s hands and we’ll see if we can get anything off of her clothes, but she looks pretty clean.  There are a couple of smaller bruises on her forearms that could be defensive marks and most people who are strangled put up a fight unless they can’t.  I’m not seeing much evidence of a fight around here, though.”

Everyone standing in the little clearing at the end of the path looked at the ground.

“So, this is a dump scene, not a crime scene,” Josh concluded and Lu nodded.  “Well, give me whatever you can get as quickly as you can.  If this is a homicide, then we’re on the clock.”

Josh walked over to Detective Carthos, the other two uniforms, and the forensic team to hatch a game plan while Lu went on with her work.  She picked up her clipboard from the gurney and started making notes about the case.  Murderville was living up to its reputation this time.  A homicide at the local suicide spot.  Dr. Pascal was going to love this twist.

###

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Upon Review: A Tale of Two First Drafts

I spent the last week of January reading over two first drafts: The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, which I wrote back in 2015 for NaNoWriMo, and The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, which I wrote this past November for NaNoWriMo. One turned out to be in better shape than the other, which kind of surprised me.

I remember when I finished writing The End of the (Werewolf) Curse that I wasn’t very happy with it. I thought it was going to need a lot of work and so I shoved it to the side to wait its turn, in no hurry to get to it. I expected to feel the same when I read it this last month. I went in expecting that it still needed some serious work.

Gleefully, I was wrong.

Maybe gleefully isn’t the right word, but after the rough time I’ve had with my first drafts lately, I felt pretty gleeful.

Anyway.

It will need work, of course. There are some minor things that need to be taken care of and I have to do my usual thing of adding in details because I’m the worst at description. But as far as heavy rewrites, which is what I was expecting, that’s not in my future with this story. I’m actually really pleased how well the first draft did turn out.

Ah, those were the days, when I remembered how to write.

Because The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant was just as bad as I remembered it. Yes, not too much time has passed, but even a decade wouldn’t erase that memory or the accuracy of it. I could see the struggle I had during that writing process in the words. It’s going to to take major rewrites to fix this story. Major rewrites. Major.

However!

When I was reading the first draft, I could see exactly what needed to be done to fix the story. So while this story will take a lot of work, I have a very good idea of what that work is and that is somewhat of a comfort.

I’m still not looking forward to doing all of that heavy lifting, but at least when it’s time, I’ll know just how heavy that lift will be.