Murderville: The End Of- Episode 7

The Secrets of Sisters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

###

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

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Murderville: The End Of- Episode 6

Upstairs, Downstairs

Detective Josh Carpenter sat across the table from Calvin and Audrey Connolly and the three of them tried to look inconspicuous.  The only time that Josh could interview the couple together was during their lunch breaks.  Audrey Connolly, of course, worked at the coroner’s office.  Calvin Connolly was a high school math teacher and since the beginning of a new school year was looming, he was busy prepping.  Josh had considered interviewing them separately, but decided to interview them as a couple first.  He wanted to gauge how they interacted during questioning knowing what he knew.  So, the meeting at the McDonald’s during the lunch rush on Monday was the best way to go.  Well, not the best, but the option Josh decided was best out of the limited, not-so-great options.  Thankfully, most of the folks in Munsterville that bothered to get out of their cars to come inside the fast food joint were just grabbing their lunch to-go.

“I did have a date with Starla,” Calvin Connolly said and practically flinched at the sound of the woman’s name coming out of his mouth.  Next to him, Audrey Connolly sat stone-faced, a good gap of physical distance between them in the booth.  “’For the night she was…was murdered.”  He added quickly, emphatically, “But I cancelled it.  Days before.  I cancelled it.”

“Why did you cancel it?” Josh asked, making a note in his notebook.  He’d already known that Calvin Connolly was the cancelled date thanks to Merry Miller’s code key.  It was the why that currently eluded him.  Starla James made no note of that.

“Because…” Mr. Connolly sighed heavily, “because Audrey found out about it.”

“And how long had you been seeing Miss James?” Josh asked, watching the husband squirm and the wife imitate a statue.

“Only a few months,” he said.  “We’d only had sex a couple of times.  Honest.”

“I see,” Josh said, making a note of the duration of the affair, but not of the number of times Mr. Connolly claimed to have had sex with the victim.  That was clearly meant for his wife to hear.  “And when did Mrs. Connolly find out about the affair?”

Now, Audrey Connolly did move, a slight flinch at her name and the word “affair” in the same sentence.

“Last week.  Monday or Tuesday, I think.  Days before I was supposed to see Starla.  She found a text from her on my phone and confronted me.  I cancelled my date with Starla right then.,” Mr. Connolly said, sounding sullen and remorseful.  Josh wondered if it was because he’d hurt his wife by having an affair or because she found out.  “That’s why we were out of town this past weekend.  We were trying to work on our marriage.”

Mrs. Connolly made a little noise as if to suggest that the weekend hadn’t been all that successful.

“And when did you leave for this weekend retreat of yours?” Josh asked.

“Friday evening,” Mr. Connolly said hurriedly.  He looked at his wife for confirmation of that.  “Right?  Right after you got off of work.  You had to work late so we left late.  Right?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Connolly said, sounding reluctant to speak at all.  “We left Friday after I got off of work.  It was around seven-thirty.”

“And you work at the coroner’s office, correct?” Josh asked.

“I work for the coroner’s administration,” Audrey Connolly corrected.  “Yes.  I work upstairs.  I’m their public relations consultant.”

“I see,” Josh said and he made a show of flipping through his notebook as though he were looking for a piece of information that wasn’t already cued up in his head.  “So, you would have been at work when Starla James was discovered and brought in for examination and autopsy.”

Audrey Connolly shifted her weight in the booth a little.

“Yes.  Like I said.  I work upstairs.”

“Why were you working overtime that day?”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Mrs. Connolly snapped.

Josh stared at her hard.  She managed to stare back with equal intensity for a few seconds before she shifted in her seat again, nervous.  That might work on her husband, but Josh was immune to it.  Except from his own husband.

“Mrs. Connolly, I’m investigating a homicide,” Josh said, business-like and professional with just a touch of no-nonsense.  “I would appreciate your cooperation in answering my questions.  Why were you working overtime that day?”

Mrs. Connolly glanced at her husband.  “I had to stay late due to a late-breaking development that needed to be addressed.”

Josh nodded at her.  “From my understanding, it was due to the results of Miss James’s autopsy.”

Mr. Connolly looked at his wife with wide eyes.  She never took her eyes from Josh, her look hardening.

###

Time is running out for Lu and Josh to solve the case. Check out Murderville and Patreon to keep up with their ticking clock!

Writing with a Day Job…Again

When I set my writing projects for June, I didn’t have a day job.

By the time it posted, I did.

Life comes at you fast.

I’m back in retail, working at one of the local dollar stores. Every store does things somewhat differently, but a lot of the basics are the same. It’s like riding a bike. I haven’t forgotten.

Now I have to hope that I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to write with a day job. It’s been a while since I’ve been working out of the house for 15-20 hours a week. It’s been a while since I’ve had to write around that kind of schedule (as well as the other life things I have to write around, too). Right now everything is crazy because this day job happened very suddenly during an already busy time, both for writing and for real life. No doubt it’ll settle down and find a groove, but for now, I’m a little stressed and very tired.

I plan on keeping my June writing plan. The Coop Run is on a deadline, so it will get first priority, but I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to get a good chunk, if not all of season 3 of Murderville written. Hopefully, my productivity will be as high as my hopes.

Though the day job will alleviate an immediate need for financial support, like all of my day jobs, I view it as temporary. My goal is to make a (decent) living by writing.

I still intend to do that.

June Writing Projects

Last month was all about the Patreon. I wrote the outline for season 3 of Murderville and wrote the first draft of the season 3 preview story. I also came up with an idea to be a little more active on my Patreon, but I’m still working out those kinks. I’m hoping to have something going before the end of season 2.

This month it’s going to be all novellas all the time.

I’m going to write the first draft of season 3 of Murderville.

I’m also going to be doing a little writer thrill seeking again.

I’m going to try to rewrite The Coop Run as a novella for submission in July. Yeah, not a lot of time to get it in order, but I have already started by reading over the original first draft, chopping it up, and making notes on what I need to write fresh. In the end, even if nothing comes of the submission in terms of actually getting published, I think the story will be better off. This first draft is a mess. There are many story elements that I like, but they do not work together as is. What I’ll take out, I’ll save. I happen to like the crew of the Nina Kitt and I wouldn’t mind exploring their world in other stories.

Speaking of that, even if nothing comes of the submission in terms of actually getting published, I will at least be able to say that I wrote an honest to goodness sci-fi novella. It’s not going to be the hardest of sci-fi, but dammit, it will be set in space on a spaceship and that’s a huge step into a new genre for me.

That counts for something.

There’s only 3 episodes left of Murdeville: The End Of. Episode 6 goes live on June 12th. $1 an episode lets you read;  $2 an episode lets you read AND you get some really nifty fun bonuses every other month, like the one that’s dropping June 26th. It’s never too late to become a patron!

Writer Thrill Seeking

If you asked me to go bungee jumping or skydiving, I’d probably chuckle and politely tell you that if I wanted to see the ground rushing up at my face, I’d get drunk and fall over. Though I’ve had my thrills and sometimes I go looking for a certain kind, nobody would rush to call me a thrillseeker. I don’t know if I’d get on a roller coaster that goes upside down anymore.

But when it comes to writing, I’m far more game for a thrill.

The first week of May I decided to spend money I didn’t have to enter a script that I hadn’t written into a contest that’s deadline was the next day.

Okay, now this only looks like a last minute decision. To be fair, I thought the deadline was actually the next week. I did think I had a little more time. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to doing the contest because, like I mentioned, really didn’t have the entry fee to spare.

But when I saw that I was wrong about the deadline, I sort of…well…went thrill seeking. The first time I entered a script in this contest, I spent a couple of months working on an entry that got me an honorable mention. When I entered last year, I spent about a week on a entry I thought would ultimately be a throwaway, and I ended up with 5th place.

I could not pass up the challenge of writing fifteen pages of script in two days and see if I couldn’t beat 5th place.

The idea is one I’ve had kicking around in my head and I even wrote a short story/first chapter for it. I already had an outline. I was actually going in pretty well stacked in terms of knowing what I was doing. It was just a matter of finding the time to get it all written.

Yeah, about that.

During the same two days I was writing these fifteen pages I was also prepping for my next Green Hornet chat with Dan, outlining season 3 of Murderville, writing my page a day, studying my four languages, and doing my daily life stuff.

No sweat.

This is how I get my high. By driving myself crazy. I honestly think that I’m not happy unless I’m committing some sort of busy-ness that pushes me to the brink of insanity. For the last few months, I’ve been taking it pretty easy on the writing schedule. I was struggling with my mental and physical health. I really didn’t have the energy to push it. Or at least it didn’t feel like I did.

I’m feeling a bit more energized now, though.

Maybe I just needed a little thrill to get going.

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 5

The Mistress’s Men

Lu really wanted to spend her entire shift tagging along with Josh, watching him be a detective, getting elbowed in the ribs for not keeping her word about not asking any questions or saying anything sarcastic, but unfortunately, she did have work to do.

A whole pile of it was waiting on her desk.

“You work weekends now?” Melanie asked as she strolled into the office.

The death investigator’s office was situated down the hall from the autopsy room.  It had two desks, two phones, several filing cabinets, a couple of chairs, a police scanner, a coffee pot, and a television.  The official break room was on the second floor, but most everyone just hung out in the death investigator’s office because it was closer.

Melanie poured herself a cup of coffee.

“Jerome is off and someone had to cover,” Lu said, sitting down at her desk, looking at the stack of files in the center of it not unlike she might look at pile of dog shit on her lawn.  And Lu didn’t own a dog.  She gestured at them, careful not to touch them.  “Is this my pain?”

“Yep,” Melanie said, reading her look.  “Those are the files that upstairs,” Melanie looked up, “wants reviewed.  Dr. Pascal was ranting about it last night.  I thought his head was going to pop off.”

“He’s got about as much skin in this audit as I do.”

“Neither one of you have anything to worry about,” Melanie said, giving Lu a pat on the shoulder.  “You two are the best at your jobs.  Upstairs is crazy to think otherwise.”

Melanie sat down at the other desk, turning on the TV, but keeping the volume low.

Lu wanted to believe that Melanie was right, but just the fact that she was working for Jerome on a weekend because the city was too cheap to hire as many death investigators as they needed didn’t boost her confidence any.  Lu knew all too well that being good at your job didn’t meant that you weren’t expendable.

With a heavy sigh, Lu pulled the first file from the top of the pile and opened it up, looking for a mistake she knew that she hadn’t made.

###

Simon Sidney lived in a large house on the lakefront, only a few miles down the road from End Of, on Lake Shore Drive.  The house was practically a wall of windows on the side that faced the lake, which was no doubt picturesque most of the time, if you didn’t think about how many cars were probably at the bottom of Lake Munster.

Josh sat on the white couch in the white living room wondering why so many people with money insisted on white living rooms.

Simon Sidney was a handsome man in his sixties, his hair long gone silver, his age starting to show in his golfer’s physique.  His wife, Carlotta, was easily twenty years younger than he was and held up to a much different standard.  Her hair was bleached an unnatural blonde and it was clear by the lack of movement in her forehead that she’d had a round or twelve of Botox.  Her lips looked overly filled and her clothes were a size too small.

They sat on the couch opposite Josh, a low glass coffee table between the detective and the couple.  Simon Sidney sat on the couch, looking relaxed in his dress shirt and slacks.  Carlotta Sidney was perched next to her husband, right on the edge of the sofa.  Josh didn’t think she could relax in the dress she was wearing.

“Mr. Sidney,” Josh began, sparing a glance at his wife, “I need to know about your relationship with Starla James.”

“She was my mistress,” Simon Sidney said so bluntly that if the words had been an anvil, a cartoon coyote would have been flattened instantly in a comical way.

“One of your mistresses,” his wife patiently corrected and a second anvil dropped on that poor coyote’s head.

Josh nodded and quickly jotted down the unnecessary information into his notebook to hide his wide-eyed shock from the couple.

###

Keep up with Lu and Josh’s investigation! Check out Murderville or Patreon!

Writing for Tips

In my continued attempts to support myself by writing (not only because it’s my ultimate goal in life, but also because I’m still struggling to find a day job), I’ve come up with a new way for folks to support me and my work.

Specifically, I call it Writing for Tips.

Right now, it’s a collection of the formerly-freebie stories and the stories I had in the Storytime Jukebox and I also plan to add a few more stories as we go along. Yes, the Jukebox is no more. It was a nice idea, a pay-what-you-want endeavor, but ultimately, it was just a little to prohibitive. Also, I’m just too clumsy to be expected to do that sort of thing well. Writing for Tips is better because it’s not only a pay-what-you want endeavor, but it’s also a pay-if-you-want endeavor. Meaning the stories are essentially free, but you can throw some cash my way via PayPal or buy me a coffee via Ko-Fi if you like my work.

Think of it as busking, but for writing.

Will people read and not throw any money in my open typewriter case? Yeah, probably. Hopefully, though, they will enjoy what they read. They’ll tell friends. They’ll look for my other work. They’ll buy it. They’ll read it. They’ll enjoy it. They’ll tell friends. I’m creating a cycle here. Also, there will be some who do toss me a buck or two when they can in addition to doing everything else. Both are very much appreciated.

It’s possible I might expand this to include some non-fiction/essay-type writing as well, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, if you like the tune, don’t be afraid to tip the player.

May Writing Projects

You know, I said last month that April was my oyster. Apparently, I forgot that I don’t care for oysters. I did my page-a-day and my poem-a-day. I submitted a short story twice (same story, two different markets, a rejection was involved) and I submitted (Vampires) Made in America to a new agent.

And that’s about it.

I thought I’d be able to find a project to work on, but the best I did was rearranging my To Do List of Doom so it made more sense. I’ve still got a massive list of projects in various states and none of them made any progress in April.

I have my speculations about the reasons for this, but I’m not going to get into them here.

Instead, I’m going to move on. New month…well, same me, but actual stuff to work on.

I’ve decided to dedicate May to my Patreon. I’m going to outline season 3 of Murderville and write the first draft of the season 3 preview story. I’m also going to brainstorm ways I can be more involved on Patreon. Right now, it’s very much set it and forget it. I feel like I need to provide a little more content in order to entice new patrons and keep the ones I have. Can’t get by on my looks here.

Or anywhere, really.

Speaking of Murderville, episode 5 of The End Of is live May 8th. We’re over the half-way point here. Become a patron and enjoy the ride. $1 an episode lets you read; $2 an episode lets you read AND you get some really sweet bonus material in the form of other stuff I’m working on. It’s never too late to head to Murderville!

Releasing the Mermaid

“Releasing the Mermaid” would be a great title for a book or a movie, but instead it’s the title of this blog post and the mermaid in question is Come to the Rocks.

As you know, Come to the Rocks, my little, twisted mermaid/human queer romance story came out on the 16th from NineStar Press. This is the longest story I’ve ever had published by someone who is not me. It’s also the first thing I’ve had published by someone who is not me in a very long while.

After years of being in complete control over the publishing end of the writing life, I sort of forgot what it was like to not have to worry about that so much.

Now, obviously having a novelette published on its own isn’t quite the same as having a short story published in an anthology. Longer, solo stories require more work. I mean that’s just logic. And so I was expecting that. I was not expecting the first round of edits to come during an incredibly busy time in my schedule, but it did and I managed it, with the help and patience of my wonderful editor Jason.

The subsequent edits and proofreading were much easier and I appreciate the talents of those who worked on my little book. They made my manuscript sparkle.

I also had the talents of the wonderful Natasha Snow for my cover, and I will never get over the magnificent job she did. She captured the story perfectly, I think.

These are two things that I like doing in regards to my self-publishing, though after this experience I realize that I really need to improve my skills.

NineStar Press also handled all of the stuff that I am truly terrible at. They did the pre-order and orchestrated the release blitz. They provided advanced reader copies for reviews, which is something I never even thought about doing on my own. I am positively tragic when it comes to self-promotion so it was nice to have that help and that boost. There is no doubt in my mind that this little book reached more people than it would have if I’d self-published it. I am endlessly grateful for that.

As much as I like the total control of self-publishing, I cannot deny the benefits of traditional publishing. It’s a little less stressful because there’s a team and tasks are delegated and not everything falls on me to do. My main role was as a writer and it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to do just that. I said earlier this year that I wanted to get back into the traditional publishing game and this has reminded me of the perks of it. I’ll probably still self-publish, but I’m hoping that this will begin the trend of balancing the two more equally.

The release of this mermaid was a definite group effort, but still very much a personal accomplishment.

A truly sweet swim.

Murderville: The End Of- Episode 4

A Little Family Support

Haskell and Leora Jones were big on family.  So big on family that they had five children: Drusilla (Dru), Nicodemus (Nico), Tallulah (Lu), and twins Dashiell (Dash) and Dartagnan (Tag).  They ran a successful family business that only their daughter Lu didn’t work in, much to their displeasure.  And they had a family dinner most nights of the week even though their three oldest children no longer lived at home and in the case of the two oldest, had families of their own.  But that didn’t stop Haskell and Leora from cooking huge dinners nor did it stop any of the children or their husbands or their children from stopping by for the evening meal without invitation nor forewarning.

Lu walked into her parents’ house in a foul mood wanting nothing more than to eat until she reached peak food coma, but without the effort of actually cooking.  Her foul mood fled as soon as the door closed behind her, not because of the impending food, but because no foul mood of hers could withstand the cute of her two nephews, Ezra and Roman.  Aged five and three respectfully, the two biracial boys were biological half-brothers adopted by Nico and Josh when they were tiny.  Their dads got a kick out of people saying that the boys looked like them.

Ezra and Roman barreled into their aunt as soon as they heard the front door slam shut.

“Auntie Luuuuuuuu!” they squealed, crashing into her legs and hugging her around the knees.

“Hello, my minions,” Lu said, giving each a hug in turn, kissing them both on the top of their heads.  “What evil have you done on behalf of your overlord today?”

The two boys answered in only giggles.

“Are you heathens here alone or is Nan and Pop around?” Lu asked.

“Inna kitchen makin’ dinner,” Ezra said and then wrinkled his nose in disgust. “It’s gross.”

“Yes, but you also don’t like pancakes,” Lu said.  “Your opinion can hardly be trusted.”

Roman giggled while Ezra stuck his tongue out at his aunt.

“Get away from me,” she said, giving her nephews a playful nudge.  “Go hassle Pop for quarters or something.”

“Hooray!”

The two boys tore off through the house.  Lu knew they passed through the kitchen because her mother yelled at them to slow down.  Lu followed them at a much calmer pace.

Leora was at the kitchen counter.  Four different pots were going on the stove, something was in the oven, and it looked like there was something in a bowl that was in the process of being prepared.  Her mother moved like a whirlwind amongst all of it.

“Are you here for dinner, Lu?” she asked.  “I think I might just have enough to feed you, too.”

“Good God, I hope so,” Lu said, looking at the ensuing feast.

“She started throwing more food into pots as soon as Josh walked through the door,” her brother Nico said.  He was sitting on the other side of the kitchen with said Josh at the table.

When it came to Lu and her siblings, an argument could be made that Haskell and Leora took home the wrong baby at some point, only no one was quite sure which one.  None of the Jones children looked like their parents.  And with the exception of the twins, none of them looked like each other, either.  Lu was short with a witch’s nose and hazel eyes that looked like they could see through anything.  Nico was tall with gangly limbs and soft blue eyes that looked almost like he was on the verge of crying all the time.  The only thing Lu and Nico had in common appearance-wise was they both had brown hair, but Lu’s was much darker than Nico’s.

Lu sat down heavily at the table with Nico and Josh.

“And how was your day, dear?” Nico asked with a sly little smile.

“My cases are being audited,” Lu said bitterly.

Nico’s eyes went wide and Josh’s jaw actually dropped.  Lu heard a pot lid rattle harshly across the room.

“Yes, exactly,” she said, pointing at them both.

###

Don’t miss a clue! Check out Murderville or Patreon!