December Writing Projects

Now that the joy that is NaNoWriMo is over, I’m going to switch my focus to some shorter pieces.

I’m going to attempt to write something for that anthology that I saw a couple of months ago and researched. The deadline is at the end of the month and in the olden days, that was totally doable for me, short story-wise.

I’m not exactly confident of my chances should I actually finish something suitable, but it won’t be a waste of time to give it a try.

In similar news, I’ve come across another anthology with a deadline in February that looks interesting. I may also start plotting a story suitable for that this month as well.

I think that between the holidays and being understaffed at the library for most of the month, this will be enough to keep me feeling productive while not overwhelming or stressing me out.

Because I’m tired of being overwhelmed and stressed out this year.

You know what’s not stressful? Book ’em, Danno. Episode 18 is available for you listening pleasure. Two fun episodes with lots of hired killers and fabulous guest stars. It’s the perfect way to chase away the holiday blues. Speaking of holidays, episode 19 should go live right around Christmas. And I’m sure it will be a gift! Please like, share, subscribe, force upon your friends and family, and otherwise show your love and devotion. It is so very appreciated.

Season 5 of Murderville is right around the corner and the promo is live for everyone now. So, if you’re not a patron, now is the perfect time to treat yourself and get in on the final season. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode lets you read and gets you a sweet bonus every other month, like this month, which will go live on December 15th.

October Writing Projects

It’s October and we all know what that means. It’s time to get spooky, get creepy, and plan out our NaNoWriMo project.

Well, I got the first two.

I have no idea what I’m going to do for NaNo this year.

Normally, I at least know what project I’m going to work on, even if I haven’t thought about it very much. Sometimes I know months in advance what I plan to work on in November. This year…nada.

The most likely candidates are either a sequel to The Support Group Meets on Wednesday or this random idea I got for a young adult novel. (Fucking what? You don’t write YA.) Trouble is that I’m not particularly enthused about either and I’m not sure either one could carry me to 50,000 words.

Honestly, I’m not even sure I want to do NaNo this year. But I’m particularly stubborn about certain things and maintaining my streaks is one of them. I should at least attempt year 17.

In other, more positive news, I’ve been reading an anthology that’s related to the one that I’d like to submit a story for, provided I can come up with one that fits, and last month I managed to finish not one, but two entries for the 100 word story contest.

That little bit of progress is encouraging, even if it is most likely a wasted entry fee.

It’s been a while since I’ve wasted one, though.

You know what’s not a waste? Murderville. And the last season is coming up. On October 13th, patrons will get to read the preview story for the final tale, so become a patron now because you don’t want to miss it. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode gets you a sweet bonus every other month, like the one going live on the 25th.

Also live is Episode 16 of Book ’em, Danno. Ain’t no rest for Five-O because of the wicked and Eric Braeden is a hypnotic man. Give it a listen while you’re waiting for Episode 17 to go live at the end of the month. And remember to share it with your friends, family, enemies, strangers, co-workers, acquaintances, that one guy from high school, and any other unsuspecting human.

September Projects

It seems like after March and April, the months have just flown by and I have very little to show for it when it comes to writing.

Writing has been hard for me the past few years and the pandemic did not help. Sorry, ‘Rona. I know you tried by giving me a month off work, but it turns out I couldn’t capitalize on that like I’d hoped/planned/wanted.

However, as slow as I’m working and as little as I’m working on, I still count progress as progress and accomplishments as accomplishments. I keep hoping these little bright spots will lead me to the light.

This month I should wrap up the first draft of Early Snow. It’s turned out to be a decent novella, I think.

And then I’m going to work on a couple of short projects.

As luck would have it, a contest and an anthology looking for submissions both crossed my path. The contest challenges folks to write a story in 100 words, which I used to do all the time when I was doing fandom drabbles. And the anthology is a themed horror affair, something I’ve always found myself gifted at. I don’t presently have ideas for either of them, but the contest deadline isn’t until October and the anthology submission deadline isn’t until December. I have faith that I will be able to come up with something for both of these before the month is out.

Sad that it feels like I’m overestimating myself.

The bad news is that Murderville: The Coldest Case has ended. The very good news is that patrons can get the eBook on September 15th. And it’s not too late for you to become a patron, too. There’s one season left of Murderville, so don’t wait. Become a patron now. $1 an episode lets you read and gets you the eBook. $2 an episode lets you read, gets you the ebook, and gets you a sweet bonus every other month.

Episode 15 of Book ’em, Danno is live and episode 16 will arrive at the end of the month. In the latest, Wo-Fat is back, and there’s some trouble with an uncooperative witness. Listen, rate, review, share, like, tell your friends, shove it in your family’s ears. Any support is appreciated. In other podcasting news, I’m back on Eventually Supertrain, chatting with Dan about Automan. Listen in. We’re delightful.

August Writing Projects

July was slightly productive, which was a nice ego boost. I managed at least a page a day on Early Snow all month (and some days more than a page). It’s looking more and more likely that it will be a novella rather than a novel.

I’ll continue with my page-a-day plan for August.

And, aside from podcasting (I’m back on Eventually Supertrain and this time I’m talking with Dan about the great and wonderful Automan…go listen…we’re delightful as always and the other short-lived shows and guests are swell, too), that’s pretty much it for the month.

Between some health issues that I was finally able to address at the end of the July (hey, it turns out that I have severe patellar tendonitis in both knees which requires physical therapy and my blood pressure situation is to the point of medication, oh boy) and some big changes happening at my day job (I’m finishing up a huge conversion project while taking on some new responsibilities because a co-worker is leaving), I simply don’t have the energy for much else right now.

Believe me, no one is more disappointed than I am.

Boy, 2020 is some kind of thing, ain’t it?

You know what’s a good thing, though? Murderville: The Coldest Case and the last episode of the season goes live on August 11th. And even though it’s the end, it’s still not too late to become a patron. $1 an episode let’s you read, $2 an episode gets you a bonus every other month and this month it just happens to be the cryptic teaser for the next -and last- season of Murderville, which goes live on the 25th. Become a patron and see how it all ends.

Episode 15 of Book ’em, Danno should be up at the end of the month, but Episode 14 and the beginning of Season 2 of Hawaii Five-O is live and ready for your ears. Remember that liking, sharing, rating, reviewing, retweeting, and forcefully suggesting it to your friends is love and very much appreciated.

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.

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.

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.