Bless you all

by Pari

Oh, so many thoughts, so many ideas. I wanted this to be a profound last post. Instead, let me tell you a little story:

Last week I had an early morning dream. Someone asked me for my health insurance card and I couldn’t find it. Panic-stricken, I emptied all the plastic cards out of my wallet. Each one — credit, tea club, sandwich, vitamin, the kids’ insurance, gas — spilled out onto the table, but none had any writing on them. Instead all were an unattractive gray with nothing to distinguish them from each other . . .

I woke up knowing that the dream meant something important. On the surface, it was easy to decipher. The health insurance card represented my last true financial tie to my husband. From a purely self-protective stance, I’d decided not to proceed with the divorce because I didn’t want to be without coverage in case, God forbid, the results from colonoscopy/biopsied polyps had been bad. Last Wednesday night, I found out that the polyps were benign. Thursday morning, I had the dream.

Obvious, hunh?

The gray cards offered a transparent interpretation as well. With the divorce and with Murderati’s end, my identity seems unwritten again, a blurry future. You’d think that’d be scary, worrisome. So why didn’t I wake up from the dream with any sense of sorrow or fear? Why did I awake with wonder and determination? I think it’s because as long as I’m alive, I can look forward with chosen hope. That’s what I’m doing today as I say goodbye to this forum. Choosing hope.

This April many things have been said. Our regular readers have learned about some of the struggles we’ve faced as bloggers, writers, and human beings. Some. We’ve all shared what we could, how we could.

For more than seven years, this group blog has been a big part of my life. I can’t believe the time has come to really say goodbye to it. JT has been here since the beginning; without her help (and Randy’s too!) Murderati would’ve never been born. Alex has been here since almost the beginning as well. She is another hero who has dedicated so much time to the effort. Other writers have come and gone, gracing our blog with their stellar prose and unique perspectives. We’ve argued, taught, explored, cried, laughed . . .

When I first started thinking about a group blog, I did it because of the conventional wisdom at the time. Writers needed PR to sell their work. Group blogs were a great way to do it and to cross-pollinate — to find more readers who’d take a chance on lesser-known authors like me — so I pushed and invited and then we assembled the first seven writers to make Murderati a reality. In the process of opening our worlds with you, an astounding community blossomed.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Most people I know, at the base of their beings, want to feel true connection with others. Murderati has been that connection for me, for all of us.

Thank you for sharing the precious gift of your time and voices with us. May your lives be filled with joy and wonder.

May our paths cross many times more.

_______________________________

The future

Many of the ‘Rati will be posting discussions on a new board: http://murderati.proboards.com

I’ll check out that message board format after my current family emergency settles down. I do plan to keep writing blogs somewhere, probably on Mondays — probably weekly — since I’m in the habit now. Please, if you want to stay in touch, find me on Facebook, check out my frequent gratitudes there, or look up my name online to find me in my next authorial incarnation.

Bless you all and thank you,

Pari

BE BOLD

by Toni McGee Causey

 

There was a time when I was terrified of the blank page. It had so much potential for mistakes, for making the wrong choices, for derailing into something derivative, and I’d freeze up. Second guess myself. Wonder. And lose time.

There was a time when I’d let what someone said affect how I chose to proceed. How I chose to live. I’d let an insult fester inside and I’d tell myself that they were right, maybe they were right, and I shouldn’t be a writer at all. I tried to do other things, tried to find another passion, because I thought there was nothing worse than wanting something so badly as to write something that would impact people, only to fail at it. Failing was humiliating. The potential of that humiliation, constantly thrumming in the back of my head, stole the joy from me when I did succeed. I’d always think, “Well, for now I’ve done this thing. These people think so. But they could be wrong. What if they’re wrong? And when all is said and done, I’m nothing? I’m insignificant? I should have spent my life doing something else?”

I’d have longer moments when I’d push on in spite of the fear, but it never really left me. I’d just battle it back, write in spite of the terror, and send it out to be read by my friends, or my agent, or, God help me, an editor, with something akin to an anxiety attack. What if I’m not good enough? What if this thing I labored over, loved, birthed… was a joke to everyone else?

As writers, we learn (eventually) to be thick-skinned, if you’re anything like me. We get hammered and beaten up and stomped on, and we know it’s a part of the natural selection process of throwing things out there in the world. There is no one book or movie that is going to capture absolutely everyone’s love. Nor should there be. There is no explanation why some things catch fire and others don’t. Try to figure that out, and that way lies madness. You may figure out what’s marketable, you may figure out one thing that’s a part of the Zeitgeist, but odds are, it’s something just beyond explanation. You may be a bestselling author, and your books snapped up, but will they be remembered? And really… does that matter?

All these things would swim around my head, slowing me down. I thought the blank page was hard. I’d let people who meant well derail me from my own self-confidence. I’d let an agent, who meant well, steer me the wrong direction because she thought she knew what would sell, fast. I’d let a lot of things slip in and make me doubt what was important. I was afraid of the blank page.

I misunderstood what was important.

I should have been more afraid of lost time.

We take time for granted. We all do it, it’s just human nature. We can’t live each and every moment like it’s our last—the world would be chaos if we did. We rely on the normal, the mundane being the mundane, in order to function.

But December 18th, 2012 changed that for me.

I held my brother’s hand while he was dying. Mike McGee is… was… my only sibling. We’d spent the last year-and-a-half together, almost every day, fighting his cancer. He had a rare gamma-delta T-Cell lymphoma. The survival rate was abysmal, and that was with a bone marrow transplant. But… in spite of the odds, he kept getting better. Faster than they had ever seen. He kept fighting off the impossible, and the doctors and nurses were constantly astounded. There was not a soul in that hospital that he came into contact with who didn’t leave him more encouraged in their own life.

They called him Coach. He was a fifth degree black belt, a Master, and had won an international championship in sparring, and a large number of other medals, many first place, and trophies, in international competitions. He had his own school, and had taught over twenty-thousand students, and was stubborn as hell. He was the kind of patient who was like a Pied Piper, going to every other patient’s room and encouraging them and, if they could stand up at all, getting them to walk a few laps with him because the nurses told them that walking helped them handle the chemo better and gave them all a greater chance of winning.

He kept beating the odds. He had a rare allele cell that made matching him almost impossible… and yet, they found a match. He came out of remission but they found the match just-in-time, and so he could have the transplant. He survived that, only to battle graft-vs-host disease, which is horrific. He was winning that, when he was diagnosed with a virus. He beat that, too, and they discovered the cancer was gone.

Gone. 100% gone.

He was going to go home in a couple of days. He walked around the floor, making trips to the exercise bike, where he rode forty miles in five mile increments. I can’t ride forty miles on a damned exercise bike in a day, and I was annoyed with him. Get that. Annoyed.

He woke up the next day with double vision. They were thinking a mild stroke, maybe as a result of the meds, maybe something else. Potentially, it could have been the lymphoma coming back, but it could also have been a fungal infection. They were saying, at this point, that he would go home, still, and would have to have some mild rehabilitation to help strengthen that left side, but he would likely be okay. He might not do spinning jump kicks anymore, but he’d still be able to teach.

They just weren’t quite sure what had caused it.

The next ten days were a blur. He got significantly worse each day. He started losing more of his balance, more of his eyesight, more of his hold on what was going on. He couldn’t stand on his own and I was lifting him out of the bed to get him to the bathroom, and holding him there so he wouldn’t fall. My six-foot-two-inch brother, one of the toughest human beings I have ever known, and I was having to lift him.

And he would say, “This is not going to get me. I am not going out this way.”

I want you to know there are worse things than a blank page. There are things so much worse than what a critic thinks of you, or what a reviewer says. There are things so far beyond that minor pain that when you live through them, if you live through them, you will look back and think, “Why in the hell did I let that matter? What the hell am I waiting for?”

Those last few days, he was in the ICU. He’d fallen, bloodied his head, and there was significant swelling in his brain. They had to do a procedure where they put a shunt in there to continuously drain off the fluid, and even that wasn’t working. They’d done a biopsy of the area of the brain where the lesions were—the things they had thought, at first, were just pools of blood from a burst blood vessel—and we were waiting to see if they were lymphoma or fungal infection. With lymphoma, there was zero hope. With fungal infection, the doctors thought there was a slice of a chance. What I didn’t understand then, but came to understand when one of the specialists took me aside and showed me his MRI, was that a fungal infection isn’t like what we think of when we say “infection”… something that can be cured and made to go away. It is something that’s actually killing the brain cells where it’s living, and as it grows, it kills more of the brain. Getting medicine in the brain in enough quantities without killing other organs from the high dosages is a Russian Roulette, and they had already tripled the dose of anti-fungal meds when he had had the first signs of a “stroke.”

Picture a hurricane, like you see it on the weather channel. Now imagine two interlocking hurricanes, barreling into the brain stem where autonomic reflexes—breathing, swallowing, heart—are controlled. That’s where these two infections were, and they were growing exponentially. They were fungal, and they were far outstripping the speed of the medicine.

The last day, he was on a respirator, blind, unable to move except his fingertips. The day before, he’d been able to move his hands a little, and when one of the doctors talked obliquely about how bad he was doing, and wondered what his wishes were, he grabbed my sweatshirt and tugged, and then waved. I didn’t understand he was waving goodbye, until he pulled his hands together… and it was very difficult for him to do… and clasping his hands in the traditional fist-in-cupped-palm formation, bowed his head.

I asked him if he was bowing out, and he nodded.

He had two more strokes that night.

I talked at length the next day with five different teams of doctors. Every one of them wanted to do just one more thing, but when I asked, “Will this save him, will he have a chance to recover?” they each and every one of them had to admit that no… there was nothing they could do. He was now blind, almost unable to hear, unable to speak, unable to move, and was on a respirator. He’d made me promise that I wouldn’t let him live that way. He’d cried in my arms when the cancer came back. I had held him, remembering all the times we fought as kids, all the good times we shared, the two of us against the world, and he’d made me promise that I wouldn’t let him live like that.

Hardest promise I’ve ever made.

I held his hand when they pulled him off the respirator, and pulled the shunt out of his brain. I made sure they gave him enough morphine so he wouldn’t feel pain, wouldn’t panic, wouldn’t be afraid. I held one hand while my mom, and then my husband, when my mom could no longer watch, held his other hand, and I talked to him. He squeezed my hand three times… I love you… and I asked if he understood what was happening, and he squeezed once for yes. I told him so many things, watching the monitors as they showed him breathing slower and slower, as they showed the oxygen rate dropping. I knew that once it was below 88%, brain damage—permanent–would start, and it was the point of no return. Inside my own head, I was screaming for him to not have to go. I think that part of me will always be screaming. It doesn’t really shut off; you just get used to it.

I talked to him of how much we loved him, and how he’d been a hero to so many people. I told him how proud I was of him—how we all were, mom and dad and his nephews. I told him how much I was going to miss him, and that there was a karate school in heaven with a bunch of new kids for him to teach. He squeezed my hand at that one, but it was a weak squeeze. I told him it was okay for him to come visit me now and then (we both believe in ghost), but not when I was in the shower, because that would just be gross, and he smiled. There were a thousand things I wanted to tell him, and I had so little time, and I knew it, as he slowly changed color and his breathing slowed and slowed and slowed, and I felt the grip of his hand go lax, but I talked to him and talked to him, running out of time, until the doctor pulled me away and told me that he was gone.

5:55. December 18th. I learned that there was nothing else that mattered, other than living the way you want, living boldly, pursuing your dream. That’s what Mike always did. We didn’t always understand it, and he wasn’t always a success. He’d had failures and frustrations, but he had not quit. Not even when everyone told him there was no hope. Every single doctor there cried. The nurses cried.

And I left him there, knowing, strangely, that he’d lived his life fully and boldly and out loud, and he’d died knowing that he’d achieved most of his dream—to teach little kids karate. To teach them how to handle bullies simply by being more self-confident. To prepare them for the real world by encouraging them to get as much education as they could. He had students who’d gone on to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, police officers, military, firefighters, etc. Whatever failures he might have had, he gloried in the successes.

I’m telling you now, live boldly. If your dream is to write, then write. Send it out. If it doesn’t work? Learn from it and try again. And again. And again. And however many times you need to try. Quit waiting for life to come along and give you permission. Quit caring what your peers say. Quit listening to reviews or bullies or people with opinions that you don’t respect. Learn from those you do, ignore the rest, and keep trying.

If you don’t love the writing? Do something else you love. Period. Don’t waste your life because you think you ought to be doing something because you told a few people that’s what you were going to do and now you dread it and hate it and it’s like pulling teeth to make the time to write. There’s nothing more glorious about writing than there is teaching or creating art in some other way or science or math or firefighting or being a police officer or being the best damned secretary you can be. Find your place, wherever that is, a place you love and LIVE IT, BOLDLY.

Time is the thing to be afraid of. Time is short. Mike didn’t know, that day that they told him he was going to go home in a couple of days that, in reality, he would die about ten days later. People in car wrecks each day think they’re going to have tomorrow, and then they don’t. People have heart attacks in their shower, or they’re standing and watching a race finish.

I loved my time here at Murderati. I loved getting to meet fans and other writers and learning from both. I loved not feeling alone in the journey, and feeling like what we did, mattered. In some small way, we dented the world around us.

But everything changes, and even though we move on, we keep those we loved with us. We keep those lessons in our hearts. I’ll keep Murderati and all its commenters and fellow conspirators in my heart, just like I keep Mike there. You mattered to us. You mattered.

Now go. Live boldly. Don’t squander this time you have. You matter. Remember that.

 

TICK TOCK

By Allison Brennan

Stephen has been nagging me – nicely nagging me – to write a farewell blog for Murderati. And the reason why I was so late getting it to him is the reason why, I think, this blog is closing shop.

Time.

Time is finite. We have twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We can’t create more time. It’s always there, always moving forward, never slowing down or speeding up. We may think we have more time or less time depending on what’s happening in our lives, but the truth is, the steady movement of time is one of the few constants of the universe.

Writer’s write. It’s what we do. So blogs seem to be a natural extension of what we love. And to be honest, I really enjoy blogging. I love interacting with readers, and a blog format allows the back-and-forth in a conversational way. I’m an extrovert, and sometimes when I write all day, every day, I need that outlet to communicate with real people, not fictional ones!

But the truth is, when blogging becomes a chore, something we have to do rather than something we want to do, we feel an intense pressure that prevents us from being our best. And we want to be our best selves, especially in public!

This month has been unusually busy for the Brennan house – a house that always has something going on. How can it not, I have five kids? But my youngest is playing baseball, my youngest daughter is playing softball and a weekend soccer league, my older son is in track and just left on a week-long spiritual retreat with his school, my 17 year old is studying for AP tests and staring in the school OZ musical as the Wicked Witch.

Kelly and my husband have been building AND painting the 10-foot high OZ face – and it turned out amazing! (Kelly also had art selected to be in the California State Fair—I’m so proud of her!)

And then my oldest, in college, is coming home May 3 and we’ve been making arrangement for storage of her belongings, her driving home and with whom, and finalizing her classes for the fall.

Plus, I have a book due May 1 and I’m behind.

My life is my kids and writing. I love going to their events – the games, the plays, the art shows. And I love writing – I live my dream job, warts and all. I recently signed a new contract with Minotaur and am launching a new series in April of 2014 – my first hardcover series about an investigative crime reporter Maxine Revere. In addition to continuing my Lucy Kincaid series. And, my #2 daughter is graduating from high school in 13 months and then going off to college, likely on the East Coast. Which means my time with her now is even more important, because I’m not going to get any more.

What those of us who regularly visit Murderati really want is for the authors who blog here to write more books. If not for the stories, we would never have known each other. The stories bond us, and they always will. If closing down this blog gives writers more writing time, then we all benefit.

So let’s chat – what did you love best about Murderati? What’s keeping your life busy? Read any good books lately? Anything you want to talk about, I’m game – ask me anything!

Allison Brennan is a New York Times bestselling author of 20 books and multiple short stories. The next book in her Lucy Kincaid series, STOLEN, received a top pick by RT Book Reviews and will be out in stores June 4. You can visit her at allisonbrennan.com or murdershewrites.com.

Day After Day After Day

by J.T. Ellison

I know you’ve gotten used to seeing Stephen and Alex on Fridays, and let me start with a thank you to them, for allowing me back to my old spot to say hello, and farewell.

Back in October 2011, I made the unbelievably difficult decision to step away from Murderati. Difficult doesn’t describe it, really, because my leaving was more than another author taking off for greener pastures. I built this site. And by built it, I mean I was the physical architect behind Pari’s idea to start a group blog. 

Way back when, none of us knew much about websites. None of us knew anything about blogs. And while we ironed out the name (mad props to my husband Randy who came up with Murderati), the lineup, the topics, the way we wanted to portray ourselves, we tried to figure out how to make it all happen.

I’ve always been a curious lass. I started playing around with Typepad, then the preeminent blogging platform. And I made an offer to the group – instead of hiring a web designer, which none of us could afford, I’d build us a website.

From the mouths of babes…

But once the offer was out there, and accepted, I had to follow through. I learned how to code, how to run a website, how to design. Randy helped with the banner, the old header, and anything else I got myself in over my head with. And pretty soon, we had a website. It had flaws. Typepad wasn’t easy to work with. Eventually, we migrated to Squarespace, which was much easier to work with, but had its own problems. 

We blogged and blogged and blogged. And behind the scenes, all sorts of shit went down.

Let’s be real, here. We started with seven artists and ultimately built to fourteen. Over seven years, there were… issues. Of course there were. It’s only natural: when you have a group of people, all of them strong-willed and wildly creative, there will be issues. Over the years, people came and went. Friends were made and lost. Battle lines were sometimes drawn, and wars were fought. Joys and successes and opportunities were celebrated. Advice was freely given. Tears were shed. We were always our best when we were supporting each other.

In other words – family. Murderati has always been a family. A big fat happy family, with brothers and sisters who loved each other to death, squabbled with the best of them, beat up bullies who dared mess with our kin, and always, always, made our curfew.

Day in and day out, no matter what was happening behind the scenes, a fresh blog would go up. And we would put aside our petty differences and excited celebrations to pay homage to the author of the day. 

It was our daily miracle. 

With our daily miracles came forgiveness. Humor. Sadness. Anger. Cheering. Crying. We wrenched every emotion from ourselves, shared it on this blog, all to wrench it out of you.

Day in and day out, when we posted a fresh blog, you were there.

You made our blog what it was. We wrote. God, did we write. We struggled with being fresh, with not saying things that had been said before. We taught, and we learned. We strived to be authentic, to be real. To share our lives, our stories, our world, with strangers.

But you weren’t strangers for long.

You commented. You weren’t shy, not once you did it for the first time, not at all. You chose sides. You learned. You taught. You were the reason we kept coming back day after day. You were the reason we worked so damn hard to be unique, exciting, fresh. You told us when we were being silly, and cheered us on when we succeeded.  You made us laugh, and you made us cry. You held us up when we needed a boost. You stood in awe when one of us created something close to genius.

You were the reason we started this blog. You were the reason we continued on. 

But you aren’t the reason we’re closing. 

Yes, the numbers began to sag when Facebook and Twitter became so very important to our writerly lives. But that’s natural. We lost readers when several of us left all at once in 2011, then steadied, and maintained. We still have a big following here. The numbers are not the reason we chose this route.

The daily miracle, which we managed for seven years, finally became too much to bear. 2555 blogs. Millions of visits. Thousands of comments. An industry that’s changed, a society that’s changed. Too many soapboxes, too little time. When 14 authors spoke, people listened. When 14,000 speak, there’s too much noise to be heard clearly.

Focus has changed. Long-form writing is very time consuming. Many, many of the authors from Murderati chose the independent publishing route, and there must be work product at the end of the day, and new books released — at a punishing pace — for success. The ones of us who stayed traditional are also facing challenges. With PR and marketing budgets slashed, self-marketing became not just a tasteless endeavor, but a necessary evil. The more authors are expected to handle on their own, the more authors choose to handle on their own, the more long-form blogging went by the wayside. It had to.

Because let’s be honest – at the end of the day, we’re writers. You want us to be writing books, right? Not blogs about how to write books. Right? Right? 

(I keep telling myself that. One day I may even start believing it.) 

When we started Murderati, I had an agent, but hadn’t sold my first book. I’ve now written twelve novels, sold fourteen novels and published nine, with the tenth coming in September, have a new Samantha Owens underway, a standalone I’m editing, a non-fiction I’m writing, have indie pubbed two short story collaborations with NYT bestsellers Alex Kava and Erica Spindler and have started writing with the esteemed #1 NYT bestseller Catherine Coulter. A lot of work, these past few years. It’s easy to understand why I don’t long-form blog much anymore.

Murderati played a huge part in all this, and I will be forever grateful for the massive leg up.

When we started Murderati, I used to agonize for a week over my post, and wouldn’t put it up until Randy had read it and promised me I didn’t sound like a dork. Now I write long form non-fiction for money, and Randy doesn’t see it until it’s actually done and ready for print.

When we started Murderati, I was unbelievably concerned with how I came across to the world. I hated sharing even the tiniest parts of me, a person I saw as boring and uninteresting, chose to stick solely to writing topics. I kept me apart from that JT Ellison girl. 

Eventually, through this blog, I came to accept myself. All the parts of me. Even the parts I didn’t want to share with the world. Especially those. 

When we started Murderati, I was in the beginning stages of trying to have children. Sadly, seven years later, I’ll share this – it wasn’t meant to be. The grief I experienced after multiple miscarriages, failed IVFs, all that nastiness, was what drove me away from this blog in the first place. I was a walking hormonal wreck. I couldn’t process my emotions in public. Hell, I couldn’t process my emotions in private. And then, when things were starting to form a scab, we lost Jade, Thrillercat, who you all know was my jinn. I went right back into that hole. Ah, it makes me cry, even now, thinking about all of this. 

I could have let it consume me. God knows I wanted it to. 

But I had a deadline. 

I put my head down and wrote three novels in a row (WHERE ALL THE DEAD LIE, A DEEPER DARKNESS and EDGE OF BLACK - even the titles scream what was happening to me) that dealt with loss. Loss, and pain, and horror. And it got me through. It got me through. Pouring my soul into those books… it got me through.

I started yoga the week after I stopped writing for you. I took all the time I spent on Murderati and channeled it into my practice. Into healing. Into finding myself again. Every day, when I get on my mat, I set my intention. Four words. The things I want for myself.

Calm. Graceful. Kind. Focused. 

It worked. It’s still working. 

Now, when I come back to the page to bid you adieu, I do so as a strong, healthy woman who takes herself a lot less seriously than she used to, who is dedicated to her family and friends, to her health, to her work. I’m writing with joy again, with laughter, with humility and excitement. I blog over on my own website, a place I call the Tao of JT. I have a decent-sized Facebook page, and we have a ball. I’m on Twitter, as @thrillerchick. I send out a monthly newsletter, and if you’re not signed up, please do.

I don’t have Murderati anymore. 

But if I’m lucky, I still have you.

I dedicate this blog to all the writers of Murderati. All of the friends of Murderati. All those who’ve come and gone.

And all of you.

Thank you for letting me come into your homes for seven years. Thank you for cheering me on, for making me cry, and for understanding. Thank you for making me the writer — the woman — I am today. Thank you, from the bottom of my soul.

I won’t say goodbye. I’ll just say… See you around.

xoxo,

JT

(Stop by this weekend for two more goodbye posts – from our own Allison Brennan and Toni McGee Causey!)

Can’t believe it’s my turn

By PD Martin

Can’t believe it’s my turn now. It’s really happening. This is it…my last Murderati post. What is worthy of my last ever post on Murderati? The plain truth is nothing. There’s no way I can fully commemorate this occasion. But I’ll give it a shot :)

Atlhough, being one of the last in line, I can just plagiarise everyone else’s ideas on what to cover! The long goodbye posts from Murderati and ex-Murderati have talked about how they came to Murderati, what it’s meant to them, why they felt it was time to say goodbye, and some of the things they had bookmarked for future posts. Great ideas, guys. Thanks! Here’s my take…

To be honest I have no idea how/why my name came up in the Murderati ranks but I was thrilled when JT asked me if I wanted to join. Thanks JT or whoever suggested little old me. I think my biggest fear in those early days was blogging once a fortnight. What would I say? How could I keep it fresh and interesting? While I had a blog on my website, before Murderati my blogging was sporadic to say the least. To my surprise, I found that for the most part it was actually pretty easy coming up with blog posts and topics. There was probably only a handful of times when I was like ‘What the hell am I going to write about this time?’

Murderati has meant so much to me (it’s hard for words to express how much). I’ve really enjoyed reading others’ posts and being part of this community. But like some of my fellow Murderati have talked about, at times it felt like blogging and Murderati was taking away from my writing time. Last Thursday one of our commenters said to Zoe: “Sorry to see you leave this blog. It’s been a pleasure reading your posts. However if it means more novels from you then I support the decision wholeheartedly.” 

And I guess that’s the aim for most of us at Murderati. I think I could blog once a month, but once a fortnight (plus being part of the Murderati community by reading and commenting on others’ posts) has become more difficult. But as Alex said in her last post, it was scrambling to find ‘replacement’ authors that seemed to be happening too often and took a lot of time, too. The logistics of running the blog and keeping it going also took time.

That being said, I am a fan of the longer blog posts (as opposed to the Facebook bites we’ve been talking about) and intend to kick off my once a month schedule at www.pdmartin.com.au/blog. I’ve been trying to work out how to do it – stay on Thursdays but once every four weeks? No, I’ve decided the most logical thing (largely to make sure I don’t forget!) is to post something on the first of every month. I will post a link to that monthly blog on my facebook page and on the Murderati facebook page or just head on over to pdmartin.com.au/blog sometime after the first of each month if you want to keep reading my blogs. We’re also talking about maybe starting up a Murderati discussion board given we know quite a few of our Murderati community members aren’t on Facebook. What do you think?

Like Zoe (words of the week) and David (juke box heroes), I had also invested in my future Murderati blogs. Whenever I thought of a potential topic, I’d open up a Word doc I’ve got called ‘Murderati schedule’ and jot down the idea. Here are some of the topics I had written in that file: 

  1. Travelling with children/toddlers (based on my recent trip!)
  2. The arch nemesis in crime fiction
  3. The US political system versus Australia’s (not getting into personal politics, just comparing the systems – e.g. here in Oz we have like six weeks of campaigning before the election and that’s it, plus voting is compulsory (you get fined if you don’t vote).
  4. Tools of the trade (e.g. Scrivener).
  5. What’s in a name? Character names and what they mean.
  6. Self-editing tips.
  7. More Aussie guest authors (previously I’ve had guests of Kathryn Fox, Lindy Cameron, Katherine Howell and Angela Savage and I was planning on asking these Aussie authors to appear on Murderati, too: Louisa (LA) Larkin, Leigh Redhead, Robin Bowles, Alison Goodman and Tara Moss to name a few. Look them up…you won’t regret it!

I’m also going to ‘borrow’ Gar’s idea from his last post — thinking about some of the posts I’ve written here and linking back my favourites.  Some of my favourite posts are:

Finally I’d like to say thanks to JT and Pari for starting this blog way back when and for including “The Aussie” in the mix. What’s amazing about my Murderati experience is that I’ve NEVER met any of my fellow Murderatis. How weird is that? It also speaks to the power of fiction (especially crime fiction) to bring people together from different parts of the world, and the power of the internet to make the world a smaller place.

So it’s goodbye from me. Although I’ve rarely posted music/videos, the song that kept playing in my head as I wrote the close of this post was the ‘Goodbye, farewell’ song from the Sound of Music. I was going to link to it here, but as unfortunate timing has it a couple of days ago I was diagnosed with pneumonia and I’m loading this post from a transient Internet connection in hospital and I’m having problems finding a decent YouTube link of it. So, you’ll just need to play the song in your heads, Rati :)

Goodbye, farewell…

FINGERS CROSSED

 

by Louise Ure

 

Farewell to all my ‘Rati friends.  And fingers crossed for continued murder, mayhem and crime in your life.  And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Much love,

Louise

 

Pain and growth

by Pari

Title#1
Adventures in colonoscopy-land

(Are you still reading?)

If you are, you’re already doing what I wanted to write about. Though it may have been fun to take you through the bends and kinks of my innards, my main goal today is to look at when we do things we don’t want to do because we know we need to. (Yes. I’m making an assumption here that this blog is worth reading.)

Title #2
Who died and made us all Puritans?

Decisions such as undergoing colonoscopies, closing down long-running blogs, or, frankly, opening ourselves to parenting, all require faith. They rest upon the idea that putting ourselves through some kind of pain — or struggle — will ultimately result in something good.

Title #3
The Puritans were wrong

We’re not all a bunch of losers who constantly need to atone through physical hard work and emotional self-flagellation. But most of us also aren’t going to get very far without putting ourselves in a position to experience pain, sadness, or regret . . .

This last week has been a really difficult one for me. Each unhappy event can be directly traced to a decision I made voluntarily, one I knew would try my body/heart at some point:
the colonoscopy
the upcoming end of Murderati
becoming a parent

And yet in the trials of these experiences, I feel only gratitude for having made those decisions because I know I needed to — for my health, for my future writing career, for my wholeness as a human being. Stepping into risk with my eyes open allows me to embrace all the unexpected good that goes along with that action. Difficulty doesn’t equal negativity. It doesn’t always equal growth either.

It’s just not fun.

However, I do believe that a certain amount of pain is necessary in a fully lived life. The urge to protect myself from it is powerful, but the urge to grow and learn is stronger. And I’m very grateful for that.

Questions:
1.  Do you remember a moment you decided to do something you knew would be difficult/painful, but you did it anyway?
2.  Was it worth it?

THANK YOU

by Brett Battles

The problem with not being able to do my Murderati farewell post until late in the month is that much of what I would normally say has already been said. At the risk of repeating at least a portion of what others have written, I owe JT a debt of gratitude for asking me to be a part of something great…something that has become an institution. And to the rest of the then current member—most prominently, Pari—my undying thanks also for backing the idea of asking me to join.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. I believe the last time was last summer when I guest posted about my jump into the independent publishing world. When I first started with Murderati, I was a traditionally published author with, I believe, two books out. My career was looking up and I was just about to take the step into full time writing. Actually, the span from my traditional publishing life through the independent phase of my career clearly demonstrate the vast changes in the publishing industry Murderati has been around to witness and report on.

Looking back through all the post here—and by no means am I talking about just mine—is like taking a walk through living history. The ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, the triumphs, the uncertainty, the just plain excitement of being published. It’s all there. And I am so grateful for having been able to be a part of it.

Of course, the most important part of Murderati has never been those of us who were writing the posts. It was all of you—the readers and commenters who helped create this wonderful community. I personally want to thank you all so much.

I’m glad to hear an archive of the Murderati posts are going to remain up and accessible. If nothing else, some future grad student could use the info found here to write a pretty damn good research paper. Hell, maybe even a book. Not that we know anything about books here.

As I write this, I have a glass of beer beside my computer. Really, I do. Let me take a moment, raise it in the air, and say, “Thank you Murderati, every damn one of you. To remembering the past, while forging ever forward!”

AND IN THE END

by Stephen Jay Schwartz

 

 

And in the end

the love you take

is equal to

the love

you make

 

These powerful words

from the Beatles

Their last statement, on their final album, Abbey Road.

Let it Be was released later, but recorded earlier.

Abbey Road, their final thoughts. Life and music and politics and love. Kinda like the final thoughts of a bunch of authors I know.

And what a beautiful, complex set of songs the Beatles left for us in Abbey Road. From the whimsical Octopus’s Garden to the dark, atonal Because, and the long medley that begins with You Never Give Me Your Money and climaxes at The End, with wild tangents along the way, growing, evolving, escalating toward those final words, the words that sum it all up, that boil it down to the essential truth: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

When I was in college, in music school, I used to skip my sight-singing & ear-training class and hide in the campus music library where I listened to Abbey Road, over and over and over again. Upon receiving my D in the class, my instructor asked me why I rarely showed up. I told him what I’d been doing. He stared into space for a moment, then nodded. “I can see that,” he said. “You picked good teachers.”

The Beatles were diverse, ever-changing, impossible to categorize, and full of surprises.

When I look at the seven-year life of Murderati I can’t help but think about the music of The Beatles. Billed as a site where mystery-thriller authors marketed their books and shared stories about their adventures in publishing, Murderati grew into something more, a collection of diverse voices sharing their opinions on everything under the stars. Filled with surprises, Murderati was diverse, ever-changing and impossible to categorize. Exactly the kind of organization/disorganization I can relate to. And, like The Beatles, the members of Murderati are deliciously talented. I’ve sat amazed and overwhelmed by the insightful discussion I’ve read here. The dialogue and dialectic. It’s the Algonquin Round Table of the mystery sect, and I feel fortunate and honored to have had a spot in the room.

I’m lucky I got in when I did, to have a few years to write my 111 blogs. A number, by the way, that has always been magical for me. Three ones. It has become a tradition in my family to wish each other “Happy Anniversary!” each time we see the clock change to 1:11. It began with my wife and I after we took a romantic trip to Santa Fe and spent an evening at Ten Thousand Waves in a hot tub under the stars. The number on the door to our private room was 111. The “Happy Anniversary” was our little ritual and it spread to the kids when the kids came ’round.

So, it’s seems symbolic that my final blog for Murderati is 111.

I’ve always loved the fact that Murderati was a living thing, a place where artists moved into and out of. Authors came and went, but their words remained. It’s refreshing to know that the words will always be there, archived, for us to reference years into the future. Murderati remains as a testament to our time, to the world of publishing as it was. It’s a fascinating freeze-frame of the state of our art as things moved into the digital age. The excitement and fear of this moment are captured in our postings. Murderati exists as an historical reference to one of the greatest times of change ever experienced in the world of publishing.

I’m glad a number of past authors have come by to say goodbye. These are the folks who were here before and during my time, and I’ve missed their voices on the blog. It feels like a family reunion.

I only feel sorry that the site can’t continue as it has these past seven years, so that current readers of the blog could experience the joy of becoming Murderati bloggers themselves. It seems unfair to them, most of all.

I will miss this place.

But it doesn’t have to be so serious and sad. Even The Beatles, with their heavy message at the end, let us know that the final word, after the final word, was something else entirely.

Fourteen seconds after the end of The End comes the strike of a chord and the start of a silly little ditty called Her Majesty. A slap-happy, tongue-in-cheek drinking song that ends on the upbeat of an incomplete measure and reminds us that The Beatles, as deep and inventive as they were, simply wanted to have fun.

Because, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

I hope you’ve all had fun here. I have. I hope you’ve allowed yourself the opportunity to be silly and whimsical. I certainly have. Sometimes humor offers the greatest insight. After all, it’s the flip-side of tragedy, and no one knows that better than the authors and readers of the mystery-thriller community.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the yellow submarine has arrived, and there’s room for one more.

Happy Anniversary!

                                             *     *     *

(Remember to pop by this weekend for postings by past-Murderati authors)

                                             *     *     *

Oh, and if you’re going to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC this weekend, I’ll be moderating a panel called “Crime Fiction: Secrets and Spies” with Philip Kerr, Eric Van Lustbader and Tom Epperson on Sunday at 12:30.  And I’ll be signing at the Book Soup booth, also on Sunday, at 3:00 pm.  Hope to see you there!