Murderville: The End Of- Episode 1

Hanging at the End Of

It was a typical day in Munsterville, the industrial city of 70,000 (give or take), with people on lunch break or hurrying to start second shift somewhere or running errands, the general business of a typical city running at its typical hum.  The sky was blue and the day was warm without being oppressively hot like late summer had a tendency to be.  And since this was a typical day in Munsterville, that meant that the city was living up to its jaunty nickname: Murderville.  Weird deaths abound in Munsterville.  And weird deaths require creative clean-ups, which was why the family business of Jones Cleaners had steady work.

Lu Jones sat in her parents’ office, eating a roast beef sandwich.  Lu had agreed to “mind the store” during her lunch hour while her parents picked up some cleaning supplies.  Her older siblings, Dru and Nico, were cleaning up the death scene of an elderly gentleman who’d died in his home and had gone undiscovered for over a week.  Her younger siblings, twins Dash and Tag, were cleaning up the scene of a suicide by shotgun in an apartment.  So, Lu was left to sit in the office and answer the phones as she ate her lunch while everyone else was out.  It was purely as a favor; Lu was the only one in the family that didn’t work the family business, a bone of contention picked at every family gathering in which there were more than two Joneses, which happened multiple times a week, so that bone was cleaned of meat years ago.  Instead of cleaning up death scenes, Lu investigated them.  She worked as a death investigator out of the city’s coroner’s office.  Same general area of the family business, but different line of work.  Horseshoes and hand grenades, her family said.

Kicked back at the reception desk in the tiny front area of the office, feet up, sandwich in the process of being devoured, Lu nearly choked in her scramble to right herself when the door opened.  They didn’t get many walk-in customers (she was really just there to answer the phone), but people did come in to pay their bills and Lu didn’t want to hear it from her mother that she was being unprofessional when someone did.

In strolled her brother-in-law, Detective Josh Carpenter, looking dashing and handsome as always.  Truly, the man looked like he should be playing the lead in some big budget Hollywood action movie that called for a good looking, tough, but charming and sensitive African-American man instead of investigating curious deaths in a no-name city like Munsterville.  How her goofy-looking white boy brother Nico ever landed him, Lu would never know, but the couple had been together for fifteen years, married for close to six of them.

“What are you doing here, Lu?” Josh asked with a grin as the door swung shut behind him.

There was no sense in Lu trying to recover her cool now.  She picked up her discarded sandwich.

“Watching the phones for Mom and Dad while I eat,” Lu said, sitting back and kicking her feet up on the desk again.  She took another bite of her sandwich and asked her question around it.  “What are you doing here?”

“Hoping to catch Nico while I had a minute,” Josh said with a bit of a wistful sigh.

He sat down in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the desk.

“He’s cleaning an undiscovered scene.”

Josh made a disgusted face.  Lu didn’t need to give him any details.

“Been busy?” Lu asked him, this time without a mouthful of sandwich.

“After that whole thing with the Harmon case, I feel like I’ve been on garbage detail.”

Winchester Harmon was a rich guy with a warped sense of humor who decided when he received a terminal cancer diagnosis to kill himself, make it look like a murder, and send a whole bunch of poor people on a wild goose chase.  Josh had been lead detective on that case and took the whole thing very personally.  Lu couldn’t quite blame him; she would have clocked Harmon for what he’d done if he hadn’t already been dead.

“You’re imagining things,” Lu said.  “Your ego is bruised because that big murder case turned out to be a weird suicide practical joke thing.  You really think the chief is going to hold that bizzaro twist against you?”

Josh looked at Lu like she must have been out of her mind.

“Have you met this woman?” he asked.  “She does not take failure lightly and to her, this looked like a huge, public failure because we didn’t immediately conclude it was a suicide, not a homicide.”

“Oh, please,” Lu said with a roll of her eyes.  She sat up, leaning on the desk with one elbow.  “It was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  The gun was found half a block away under some bushes.  It was staged to look like a murder and it was pretty convincing.  It took an anonymous tip to sort it out.  That’s how convincing it was.”

“That’s not how the chief sees it.”

“Well, she needs glasses.  You did good work, you did it by the book, and anyone would say so.  It was a weird case to crack.”

Lu ate the last bite of her sandwich and chewed it in a determined fashion.  Josh shook his head, entirely unconvinced.

The tone of a pipe organ, mournful and funeral-like, emanated from Lu’s back pocket.  She pulled out her cell phone.  Before she could look at it, Josh’s cell chirped from the depths of his suit jacket.  He fished around for it.

“Dead body at End Of,” Lu said, reading her text.

###

Wanna read the rest? Check out Murderville or Patreon!

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And Then Patreon Went and Changed Its Fee Business

Edit: Patreon changed its mind about implementing the fee changes. You can read about it here.

Okay, so Patreon has decided to change the way they charge fees. Until now, creators covered all of the fees that way when patrons were pledging a certain amount that was the true amount they were paying. Now, Patreon is moving some of the fees onto the patron. Creators will still get charged 5% and patrons will now get charged 2.9% + $0.35. You can read the full details here.

Patreon says that they did this to put more money into the creator’s pocket and to provide a more stable income because the fees we paid could vary month to month. Which sounds really nice.

But it’s really kind of not, when you think about it.

First of all, someone on Twitter pointed out that by charging both the creator and the patron, this makes Patreon more money. This is the reasoning I’m more likely to believe.

Second of all, creators are losing patrons left and right because of the fee change. They don’t want to pay the fees. And Patreon doesn’t suffer for that (they make plenty); the creators do.

I cherish all of the patrons that I have, but it’s no secret that I don’t have very many. I’m always actively trying to acquire more patrons as well as keep the ones that I have. This fee change does nothing to help me. It’s an asterisk on my selling point and it puts my current patrons in a bad position that makes them question if the fees are worth it to support me.

And all of this after I have everything ready to go for the next season of Muderville.

I’m now working on alternate methods of support. I have Ko-Fi and paypal.me. The fees associated with those are paid by me and me alone, so whoever buys me a cup of coffee or sends me money pays no fees. If I have patrons or potential patrons that would prefer this method, then I’m sure I can set up something here on the blog so people can still read Murderville, but support me through different means.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep plugging away and hope for the best.

The Black Friday List

If you follow me on Twitter or have KikiWrites liked on Facebook, then you know that I’ve spent the past week starting on Black Friday promoting my work.

For convenience sake, here’s the entire list of everything I tweeted and posted about.

Gone Missing–Tom is missing and so is everyone else in this little town. And then the missing start to go missing. Also available as a paperback.

Yearly–12 months. 12 stories. Nice. Neat. Unnerving. Also available in print as a special edition that includes Gone Missing.

Night of the Nothing Man–Kim and Scotty are being stalked by a man with a nothing faced.

Hatchets and Hearts–Is Henry’s past repeating itself?

The Ivy Russell Novellas–Four novellas about private investigator Ivy Russell and the unusual cases she gets stuck with. The first novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras, is also available as a stand alone.

A Tale of Two Lady Killers–Of course Edda’s new start in life would come with a burlesque club, a gigolo, and a serial killer. Of course.

Spirited in Spite–What’s worse than Gret’s arch rival and a couple of questionable psychics crashing her paranormal investigation? The house is really haunted.

People Are Terrible–These thirteen stories just scratch the surface of just how terrible people really are.

Ghostly–Fourteen stories that leave you feeling that maybe, just maybe, you’re not alone. The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys is also available as a stand alone eBook or paperback.

Murderville–My Patreon project. Each season features a new duo attempting to solve an unusual death in Munsterville.

The Storytime Jukebox–A pay what you want venture. Drop some money in the jukebox and pick a story or stories from the list.

Ko-Fi–Buy me a coffee! A simple way to support all of my writing projects in one quick go.

All of the eBooks are $0.99-$2.99. The print books range from $5.99-$9.99.

Don’t forget that word of mouth is the strongest currency of all! Please share. If you’ve read any one of my books, please leave a review at Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Each star helps!

November Writing Projects aka NaNoWriMo

Oh, yes. It’s that time of year again. Here comes NaNo number 14.

Last month I wrote, revised, polished, submitted, had rejected,  and submitted again a short story called “The Fog of a Future Forgotten”. I finally got a solid working outline done for The Stories of Us After Them. And I have Murderville Season 2 all ready to roll starting in January, with the official promo coming out next month for patrons and in December for everyone else. So, I am heading into this NaNo with nothing pressing hanging over my head.

This year I’m going to do something a little different. Normally, I pick one project (either one novel or two connected novellas) and then write 2,000 words a day, 4,000 words a day on weekends, in order to get it done well before Thanksgiving. But this year I struggled to pick between two novels that I’d outlined back in September that would be ideal for dashing out 50,000 words or so in a few weeks.

So, I came up with a compromise.

My official NaNo novel for 2017 is going to be The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant. My goal is to write at least 3,000 words a day, which will have it done in a little over two weeks. And then when it’s done, I’ll start writing The Coop Run and try to finish it before the end of the month. If I don’t, no big deal. My official NaNo will already be done. I should have enough of the novel’s first draft done that finishing it up in the first week or so of December should be no trouble.

I admit that this is pretty ambitious. But NaNo has been something that’s always allowed me to push myself and get creative about how I do that. Every year I think maybe I should be done and every year I find something to write and a way to make it challenging and interesting. This is where I grow.

Bring it on, NaNo. I’m ready.

October Writing Projects

September was the the month of organization. I cleared a few ideas out of my head so I have more room to think as well as cleared a couple of things off of the To Do List of Doom.

The final blueprint of The Star Reader is done. It took a lot longer than I anticipated as it turned out to be much more involved than I thought it would be. It’s going to be interesting to see how this blueprint holds up when I write the first draft.

I also outlined The Coop Run and The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant. The outlines are pretty basic compared to the blueprint I did for The Star Reader because these stories are a little more straightforward and a little simpler. At least in my mind.

The intended outline for The Stories of Us After Them is still undone, though. This story is much more ambitious than anything else I’ve ever done which explains why I thought something that would be easily done…isn’t. I will keep futzing with it. Eventually, it will all come together. Meanwhile, I did revise and post the related story “The Zookeepers Liberation” on Prose.

I also submitted a poem called “Il N’est Pas Mon Mari” that I’ve been working for weeks to a contest and wrote the first draft of a story called “The Fog of a Future Forgotten”, which I plan to revise and submit. It’s an idea I’ve had for a while, but only finding a possible fit for it gave me the motivation to write it.

So, this month, I plan on revising, polishing, and submitting “The Fog of a Future Forgotten” before I go to Seattle next week and polishing Murderville Season 2 so I can get it all scheduled and ready to go for next year after I get back.

And I’ll work on something while I’m in Seattle.

Okay, yes, that doesn’t sound very definitive. But, I haven’t decided what project would be best suited to work on during the trip. It’s a given that I will be snapping pictures and taking in as much of the vibe as possible as stories always need settings (and I’ll also be doing some non-writing related work as well), but it might be a good time to work on a smaller, easier project.

I mean, yeah, I could also just not write, but what fun is that?

And finally, I’ll nail down what I’m doing for NaNoWriMo. It’ll either be The Coop Run or The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant. But not both.

I mean it, self. Not both.

If you’re a Murderville patron, look out for a paid teaser episode going live on October 10th. It’s a preview for Season 2. Also, if you’re not a patron, now is the time to become one. Not only will you get to read the first season, The Last Joke, and the upcoming new season, but we’re only a few bucks away from hitting the $25 goal, which means a Murderville Mini-Mystery! Only $1 per episode gets you in on the fun. $2 per episode also gets you bonus material. It’s a killer deal.

September Writing Projects

So, I drove myself mad in August. I pretty much overloaded my circuits by insisting I do ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE instead of, you know, over the course of the entire 31 days. And I did myself no favors by thinking something was due this month when it wasn’t. I am a dumbass like that sometimes.

Despite my need to drive myself insane, I did get what I hope to be the final revision of (Vampires) Made in America done as well as Murderville season 2 revised. This was achieved by shoving the plotting of The Star Reader to the very back burner and turning the forward burners on high so I couldn’t reach it until the end of the month. I’ve got that blueprint about half done.

This month I am not going to drive myself insane because I’m going to do things to help ease part of the pains that were cramping by brain last month.

A big part of my issue is ideas. I have several right now and they’re jumbled in my head and what I really need to do is get them out and outlined so I can free up some space in that hellscape. The objective this month is to get The Star Reader, The Stories of Us After Them, and my untitled space story outlined/blueprinted/organized outside of my head so I can see them.

Speaking of The Stories of Us After Them, this is an idea that’s been percolating for years and the short stories “Take the 55 North” and “Items Left Behind” are part of that. I plan on revising and polishing another story that belongs with them called “The Zookeepers Liberation” and then posting it on Prose as well.

I’m also going to revise the Murderville Mini-Mystery, in the event we reach the $25 Patreon goal.

Hey, just because season 1 is over doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening. Become a $1 patron and get the free ebook version of The Last Joke that will be available only to patrons on September 12th. Become a $2 patron and you get the ebook and bonus material, including a Murderville Season 2 teaser poem that was released last month.

In other publishing news, Come to the Rocks will be published by NineStar Press in March of 2018. More details to come slowly as I’ve got several months to ramp up your interest.

August Writing Projects

Welcome to the Dog Days, in which I realize the year is more than half over and I feel like I’m standing in the carnage of a whirlwind. It’s at this point in the year that I assess my progress on my goals and realize just how off-track I’ve gotten.

This year feels like the whirlwind was a little bigger, the carnage a little more scattered, and the track in the next county.

Part of the reason for this is my penchant this year to come up with great new ideas and then act on them which results in less energy invested in the projects I planned on doing.

Which is something I did again last month.

After revising/polishing “August 8, 2015”, “A Girl’s Best Friend”, and “Suicide Paris Green”, revising/polishing an old story called “Nix ’96”, adding “Summer Rot” to the Freebies section, posting “Erin Go Bragh” and “There and Not” in the Storytime Jukebox, releasing paperback versions of Gone Missing and The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys, submitting Come to the Rocks, and writing my $25 Patreon goal, I started working on a new project called The Star Reader. Right now I’m writing it as a script, which I’m going to use as an outline to write it as a novel. Basically, I have the skeleton of the story and this way is a good way to sketch out the idea with dialogue so I don’t lose any of this story that’s been bombarding me.

I’m going to keep working on it this month and I’ll hopefully finish it. I think the novel version will be my NaNo project this year, but don’t hold me to it. I may start on that as soon as I’m finished.

Last month, I also started reading (Vampires) Made in America in preparation for one more (hopefully last) round of revisions. There’s not much that needs to be done at this point, so once I’m finished, I’ll see about finding some beta readers who can give it a look.

I’m also going to revise Murderville Season 2. Give it a title and such. And if we hit the $25 goal on Patreon this month, I guess I’ll be revising that, too.

And if I’m lucky, my brain will give me a break from great new ideas. At least for this month.

The last episode of Murderville: The Last Joke goes live on August 8th. But it’s still not too late to become a patron. $1 lets you read, $2 gives you access to bonus material, like a teaser for the next season that’s coming out at the end of the month. And there will be a full teaser episode for season 2 in October for all patrons. You don’t want to miss out!

New and Newish Things

As you know, my laptop crashed last month leaving me in quite the lurch and limbo, necessitating the purchase of a new laptop.

Without a steady day job and two months of no sales, let’s just say that the purchase was an incredibly painful one.

So, here are a few potential salves for that financial wound.

First of all, “Summer Rot”, which used to be over at Suburban Fool, is now available in the Freebies section. It’s quite different from most of the stuff I write and even though it’s a freebie, I think it’s still worthy of a read.

There are two new stories in the Storytime Jukebox, “There and Not” and “Erin Go Bragh”.

“There and Not” is a short little ditty about a man who has trouble trusting his senses. “Erin Go Bragh” is about a terrifying night swim. If you were around for the very beginning of my self-publishing exploits, then you’ll recognize “Erin Go Bragh”. But it’s been out of print for years, so it’s time for a revival.

For those new to this show, the Storytime Jukebox is a pay whatever endeavor. Pay whatever you want and get the story/stories you request.

I’ve also launched paperback editions of Gone Missing and The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. Consider this testing the waters of Amazon’s new paperback option. The lack of Kindle sales recently and the fact that neither of these stories has sold well as ebooks makes me wonder if they might work better as paperbacks. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

Of course, if $5.99 is too pricey for you, both are still available as ebooks. Gone Missing is only $1.99; The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys is still only $0.99 AND you can also find it in Ghostly, which is also $1.99.

In old news: there’s always time to become a Murderville patron. There’s one more episode of The Last Joke left (plus a bonus episode later in the year) and I’m working on a fun reward for the next goal.

And, of course, if you don’t want to buy any of my work or become a patron, or if you already have, you can always buy me a coffee.

Any help would be very much appreciated, so spread the word!

Murderville: The Last Joke–Episode 7

To Find a Crime Scene

Drew tried to find Chester R. Ewins.  He searched the name after work for three nights.  Pam was unable to help in the investigation.  She was swamped with bookkeeping work, spending most of her time hunched over rows and rows of numbers laid out on the kitchen table, muttering to herself about the values of basic math and calculators.  Drew left her alone for the most part, only bugging her to make sure that she ate the dinner that he usually found in the crock pot when he got home and to pull her away from the table at night when it was time for bed.  As soon as he got his wife away from her work, Drew did his best to get her to relax and unknot her brain, staying up later than he really should to make love to her and make sure she was going to sleep and not sneaking back out to the kitchen to work because she would.  When Pam was dealing with a bookkeeping mess like this, that’s what she was prone to do; Drew had to rescue her from herself before.

Add to this the impending family dinner that they were forced into hosting and Pam was teetering dangerously close to overload.  Drew was dragging ass himself, but he’d run himself into the ground to make sure his wife was well away from the edge of that cliff.

As a result, Drew hadn’t mentioned anything about his fruitless search.  There was really no reason to add to the weight she was already carrying, even if it was the light weight of finding nothing.

Because that’s what Drew had.  Nothing.

It seemed that Chester R. Ewins didn’t exist.  Despite being a city of 70,000, there wasn’t one person in any directory that Drew could find that had that name.  Not even close.  If he widened the search to the state or the country, he came close, but never exact.  By the second night, Drew began to believe that whoever pawned the watch used a fake name, but Drew just had to be sure.  He spent one more night of searching before he gave up.  Chester R. Ewins as an actual person was a dead end.  He had to be made up.  But who did it?

Drew came home from work to find the kitchen table free of the bookkeeping mess and a full dinner going on the stove and in the oven.  Pam, the beautiful, happy, carefree woman he’d married ten-plus years ago, was singing in the kitchen as she stirred whatever was in the pot on the stove.

“Who are you and what have you done with my surly wife?” Drew asked with a grin.  He walked over and kissed her on the neck, feeling her shiver beneath his lips.

“Your wife has been freed of her torment,” Pam said, smiling at him as she turned and kissed him on the lips.  “I finally got that mess straightened out, they paid me extra for all of the hard work, and I didn’t have any other work to do today.  So to celebrate the end of my torture, I cleaned the house for that stupid family dinner next week.  And I made you a wonderful dinner because I appreciate the way you put up with me when I’m at my worst.”

“Food is a great way to show me that you appreciate me,” Drew said, going in for another kiss.  “Among other things.”

They would have gotten carried away and perhaps carried down to the bedroom had Pam not pulled away and said, “The cheese sauce is going to burn and you smell like dirty socks.”

Drew laughed, gave her one last kiss, and hurried down to the bathroom to hose off the day’s grime.  When he returned, he found that dinner was ready and he had a plate waiting for him on the coffee table in the living room; Pam sat on the couch with her own plate in her lap.

“I’m tired of looking at the kitchen table,” she said, patting the spot on the couch next to her.  “Besides, this way we can cuddle and eat.”

“My two favorite things,” Drew said sitting down next to his wife.  He kissed her again and then picked up his plate, balancing it in his lap.

Pam had gone all out: baked chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans, and rolls.  She usually saved this sort of cooking for Sundays when she had the time and the energy to use that time.  This was a true mid-week treat.

“So, tell me,” Pam said as Drew shoveled mac and cheese into his mouth, “did you find out anything about Chester R. Ewins?”

Drew shrugged as he chewed.  As soon as he swallowed, he spoke.

“Yes and no.”

“How definitive.”

“I found out that nobody with that name exists, at least not in Murderville,” Drew said, taking a drink of iced tea.  He cleared his throat.  “Somebody pawned that watch, we know that, but he gave a fake name to do it.”

“So, who do you think did it?” Pam asked, tearing apart her roll.

“I still think it was one of his business buddies,” Drew said with a shrug.  “Doing that revenge joke thing, giving a fake name so he wouldn’t be caught.  But I don’t know which one of them did it.  I guess I’d have to go back to the pawn shop to get a description from that employee.  Of course, that probably wouldn’t help me much.  Most of the business guys that I saw at the funeral looked like Winchester Harmon.  They’re practically interchangeable.  My only hope would be that it was the young guy that did it.  Or one of Harmon’s sons.”

“It’s probably a dead end anyway,” Pam said.  “You said that the pawn shop guy said something about it being a joke.”

“Yeah, that’s what it feels like this whole thing is,” Drew said with a chuckle.  “One big joke.”

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Wanna read more? Check out the Murderville page to find out how.