by Stephen Jay Schwartz


It’s not quite the last but almost the last. It’s the second to last. Penultimate.

I’ve always loved the word and yet never fully utilized it. Well, it gets its due today.

I was thinking about writing something entirely different. Something to keep us from dwelling on the fate of Murderati.

Then I thought, no.

Let’s talk about Murderati. It doesn’t have to be sad. It can be nostalgic.

I don’t know what I’ll write about next week, in my ultimate blog entry. I’ll save that for next Thursday night. I hope I leave something to be said.

What I can say now, what I want to say now, is that I’ll miss this place. It’s been very, very good to me. My entire author journey began here and a good part of the reason my opinion means something somewhere is due to the fact that I have a platform here on Murderati.

When I started on Murderati, when JT asked me to split her time, when Alex and Brett and others voted to bring me on, I wasn’t even published. I was set to be published and the above-mentioned authors had read and blurbed my ARC. But no one knew who the hell I was. So I had about three full months to do this thing called “blog” before Boulevard was released. And that blogging helped create a fan base for my work that resulted in some pretty hefty pre-sales numbers. I remember one comment I received on Murderati – still a month or so before my release date. The commenter said, “If Schwartz’s novel is as good as his blog I’m going to love it!” Murderati gave me a community before I even entered the scene.

And, along the way, Murderati created some amazing opportunities. The PR person for James Ellroy’s TV show found me and Allison Brennan through Murderati and invited us both to join Ellroy on his bus tour of historic, L.A. crime scenes. We spent three hours in a bus with fifteen journalists (we were the only authors) while Ellroy led our private tour. I was also invited to speak at the Omega Institute by an administrator who read our blogs. I’ve been invited to speak all over the country by readers who found my voice through Murderati.

I’ve met heros and personal saviors through Murderati as well, like Allison Davis, who helped me out of a serious bind when I was caught between jobs, and Toni McGee Causey, who recently arrived to help me through yet another fine mess I found myself in. Murderati brought me together with my old friend and past college RA Brett Battles, who became quite the mentor during my debut year.

Murderati has also allowed me to celebrate the work of some very good artists through Wild Card Tuesday interviews. I’ve introduced friends like film director Blair Hayes, film director Kevin Lewis, author Sean Black, photographer Eraj Asadi, film and TV manager David Baird and many others to our unique readership. I hope in some way these interviews have benefitted them, as they’ve certainly benefitted us.

I’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside such wonderful, wonderful, talented individuals as David, Gar, Zoe, PD, Alex, Pari, Martyn, JT, Brett, Dusty, Rob, Tess, Alafair, Cornelia, Jonathan, Toni, and the lovely Louise. And not just the other authors, but the readers, too. Reine, Lisa Alper, KD, Larry Gasper, Richard Maguire, Shizuka, Sarah W, Allison Davis, Fran, Stacy, Stephen D. Rogers, Philip, Lil, Susan Shea, Susan from SF, and so many others…I apologize if I didn’t include everyone’s name. You guys have been my sounding-board and first-responders.

Murderati is also where I’ve done some of my very best work. It has allowed me to stretch my fingers a bit, to write outside of the “dark, sex-addicted homicide detective” box. Here I can be fun, playful, autobiographical, snarky, and sometimes downright silly. I’ve had the opportunity to explore the growth of my children and to celebrate the daily wisdoms they pass my way. I’ve explored my attitude towards society and examined the weight it brings on the writer’s soul. Murderati has been my soap box and forum. Overall, the exercise of writing two blogs a month has made me a better writer. I really can’t thank you enough.

And yet, the blog has blogged me down, too. It comes down to available time. Juggling a day job, a family, various writing projects, and running from the law takes most everything I have. Sometimes I have to choose between writing my book and writing my blog, and that’s when it gets tough. I have so little time for creative endeavors, I’ve got to make each moment count. Of course, now I won’t have any excuse not to write another novel. Hayden Glass Part III, coming your way.

And so….it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke after all.

I love you guys…I’ll be here until the end. I’ll save the tears for my final blog, Friday, April 19th. See you then.


34 thoughts on “PENULTIMATE

  1. Stacy McKitrick

    I found this blog through Tess Gerritsen and discovered lots of authors here, you included! I made sure we're friends on Facebook (we are), so I'll know when the next Hayden book comes out. So consider that another nudge toward finishing it.

    I may not comment a lot on this blog, but I do visit all the time (I tend to be a lurker everywhere). It's one of my favorites and I will miss you all.

  2. Shizuka

    I've been thinking about why the news about Murderati hit me hard;
    I know I'll find out what all of you are up to through Facebook and your individual sites.
    But that won't offer the same feeling.
    Murderati's like a virtual high school cafeteria (without the bullies and the food fights).
    You don't have to seek out the people you want to talk to. If you go there, someone you want to talk to will be hanging out. Most of us don't have places like that anymore.

    I'll miss your sometimes intense sometimes very joyful posts.

  3. Rebecca Cantrell

    Thanks for a lovely penultimate post, Stephen! I will miss Murderati. I didn't always comment, but I hung out here and lot and cheered all of you along your writer's journey as I wandered through my own.

    I wish you all the best and hope that the time freed up from not blogging lets you all write more wonderful books!

  4. Dee

    Stephen, you were my first.

    Let me explain. I lurked daily here for years, sure that I could add nothing to the clever witty, brilliant dialogue I was reading and savouring. The one day something you wrote called for a response from me. My first comment ever, anywhere. Imagine how thrilled I was to receive a sensitive and thoughtful reply from you. I really was a part of the wonderful Murderati community.

    I have enjoyed and been grateful to all of you–including the regular commenters who kept the dialogue sharp, but I have a special place in my heart for you, Stephen. Tears are being shed.


  5. Richard Maguire

    For as long as you continue writing books I'll be first in line wherever they're available, be it in a bricks-and-mortar or digital bookstore.

    I love the energy in your writing. The often sideways and quirky way you look at the world. And that's what I'm going to miss, two Fridays each month. Your special voice popping up on my computer screen to make me think, or laugh, often both, but always entertaining. Thanks a lot, Stephen. It's been a joy reading you.

  6. billie hinton

    So very sad to read the news. Murderati has been one of my favorite blogs for years – one of the few I still visit regularly. It was hard for me each time the line-up shifted – but will be harder when I type in "m" and hit the murderati link that comes up automatically and then get here realizing that there are no new posts.

    What a wonderful bunch of folks. I already liked the FB page and commented there – had to do that before I could write this!

    I do hope all of you will post there so it doesn't feel like such a goodbye.

  7. Lisa Alber

    Ah Stephen, you're beyond eloquent, as ever. In one of your posts you mentioned that you are a communicator–that this is your predominant skill/trait. Can't remember exactly how your phrased it, but I remember thinking, Now that's the understatement of the year! You are a supremely talented communicator. I'll miss your posts.

    I remember meeting you at Bouchercon by the Bay. In the bar, of course. I thought, Who is this cool, beatnicky guy? At first, you seemed kind of intimidating because you looked pretty darned hip, but in the end, nah. Totally approachable. Imagine my delight when I discovered you were on Murderati!

    Anyhow, like I wrote to David on his post, I consider you a writer friend and I'd love to stay in touch. Are you (and David and any other Murderato who reads this) going to the California Crime Writers Conference? I was thinking of going. The first drink's on me!

  8. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Philip – thank you, sir, your words mean a lot to me.

    Stacy – It's pretty amazing – I discovered Tess through Murderati before I even sent my first book out to agents. I contacted her through her website and asked her for some advice, and she gladly gave me some. And then, when I had my publishing contract, she was the first author who signed on to give me a blurb. And then I discover that the agent I got also represented a number of Murderati authors, so they all came on to write blurbs for me as well. An incredible community. Thanks for your kind words.

    Shizuka – I'm also impressed with the camaraderie here at Murderati. Everyone does so much to help the next guy or gal climb the ladder. I haven't seen this in any other profession, and I don't know if it exists with other genre writers. I certainly haven't seen it with fiction writers – they always tell me how shocked they are by how "giving" the mystery authors are. Murderati is a place to showcase this generosity, and there will be a hole in the blogosphere when Murderati is gone. I'll miss your voice, Shizuka.

  9. Blair Hayes

    Very saddened to hear this, Stephen, but certainly understand – and commend you – for doing whatever you need to do to write write WRITE.

    Will miss hearing your and the other writer's voices and musings and look forward to the day when you are supporting yourself writing and have time again to share all that you have with us on Murderati.


    does this mean we will actually have a chance to do dinner again?… 😉

  10. Larry Gasper

    I'll miss the vibrancy of your blogs, but the trade-off of another book makes the medicine go down smoother. I don't know if you'll be at Left Coast Crime in Monterey next year, but we could grab a beer then. In fact, that sounds like a plan all around. A Murderati table anyone?

  11. Fran

    I'll say it now, and I'll say it again at the end of the month — we'll miss you guys, but know, each and every one of you, that as long as Seattle Mystery Bookshop has doors to open, you'll all be very welcome here!

  12. KDJames

    Geez, Stephen. Took me three tries just to get through reading your post. Can't wait for the one where you *try* to make us cry.

    Some goodbyes are more difficult than others.

    No. I just– can't. It's still too raw. There are no words adequate for this.

  13. Sarah W

    Stephen, you and Gar Haywood were the two authors I *knew* I’d read when a friend recommended I check out Murderati (turned out I’d also read one or two by Alex and David, but my memory is a steel sieve at the best of times).

    Thanks for sharing so much of your beautiful, candid prose (and poetry) here — and for being so honest about your experiences, good and bad, with this writing business. You’ve helped immensely.

    I also want to thank you again for the opportunity to score a replacement copy of Boulevard and a new-to-me copy of Beat, which kept me company through some scary waiting room times last year.

    I’ll be watching for the next Hayden novel (no pressure) and anything else you set free — in a completely non-stalkery way, of course.

  14. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Sandy – I'll have to find a place to put the poetry. I do have a short story that will be published by Red Hen Press, a publisher known for its poetry titles. Maybe I'll see if I can publish some poetry through them as well. Thanks for being there for me, and for your comments along the way.

    JT – I am so grateful to you and the other folks at Murderati who read my early work. It was a HUGE honor for me to receive your invitation to join. I'll always be in your debt. Unless, of course, you ask me to return the favor, in which case I'll have to claim ignorance.

    Rebecca – You and me both, girl. We came up at exactly the same moment – sharing the newbie stage at Bouchercon, Indianapolis. What great times. It's nice to have you in my corner, and I'll always be in yours.

  15. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Dee – Awww…those tears being shed are mine, dammit! You really got me with that comment. It's better than any compliment – to know that I was your first, that something I wrote inspired you to bring your voice into the fray. It has been a great dialogue, hasn't it? A dialectic, in fact. Voices like yours, comments like that, make it hard to walk away.

    Richard – and I've enjoyed your presence and participation in the process. I look for your comments because I know they'll be insightful – not just in my posts, but in others as well. And I always learn something from considering your point of view. You've been a good friend on-line; just like Dee, you make it tough for me to say goodbye.

    Alaina – how can you cry? It's Friday! We'll cry on Monday.

  16. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    billie – yeah, I'm going to have to go to that FB page and start participating. I'm glad it exists, and I'm really glad that Murderati will continue as an archived site. There's just too much gold here to let it disappear. Thanks for being such a big part of it all these years – I'll miss your comments and your perspective, and your optimistic view of the world.

    Lisa – it's so great to know you, to be your FB friend and to keep our dialogue going through Murderati. I always love reading your comments and hearing about your doings in the world. I was just in San Francisco this week, thinking of that Bouchercon and how wonderful it was. I visited City Lights Bookstore and the Beat Museum, where I did my launch for Beat the night before Bouchercon. I felt like that beatnicky guy again. I don't know if I'm going to the Calif Crime Writer's conference this year – I'll have to check the dates and location. I haven't looked at anything beyond a week or two; I'm that buried. My instinct is to avoid the distractions – deal with the day job, family matters, and try to get some writing done. However, whenever I do end up at the next conference, I'll be looking for you to buy me that drink. Remember, I like 25 year old MaCallan whiskey, on the rocks.

    Blair – YES. To dinner. And I must see that little boy of yours. He's THREE YEARS OLD! How can that be? That means I haven't seen you for, what, FOUR years? That's just not right!

  17. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Larry – a Murderati table at LCC sounds wonderful. I don't know if I'll be there, but if I go anywhere, that seems like the place to be. I love Monterey. And I love the bar. So it's a perfect match. Here's to hoping I finish that next Hayden Glass novel soon! In the meantime, we can stay in touch via Facebook, my friend.

    Fran – I can't wait to come back and visit you at the bookstore! I promise I'll sneak in again next time I'm there. It's been so wonderful to have your support here at Murderati all these years – it means a lot to all of us. Thank you, Fran!

    KD – yeah, now try to put it all down in a blog post! No adequate words is correct. I will really, really miss your presence, and your voice. Please come around our Facebook page, and MY Facebook page, and whatever events I attend. I don't want to not ever know you.

  18. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Corbett – thank you, sir. You and me, baby, we don't ever lose touch, got it?

  19. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Sarah W – please, stalk me. It's really not fair that I don't have a stalker. And if I conducted stalker interviews I'd put you at the top of the list. Thanks for being there, for reading my words, for commenting and keeping the dialogue going. For making me feel relevant. I can't wait for you to win the next Glass novel. Stay out of the hospital waiting rooms, okay?

  20. Reine

    Hi Stephen… hope this posts! I've had so much trouble getting these to take.

    I remember your pre-pub days here. I feel like I discovered you, m'dear.

    First responders. What a terrific thing to call us. You are a sweetheart. I will miss sharing those California memories with you, especially those of the Santa Cruz persuasion.

    Just keep writing, okay?


  21. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Reine – I'm going to miss you greatly, dear! It does feel like you and some of the other Murderati readers discovered me – I'll give you that. And, hopefully, I'll give you a lot more. Your voice has been a very, very special one for me, Reine. I think the things you've shared with this group have given us reason to think about our lives and priorities, and how we respond to the challenges we face. You've faced yours with such grace. You've been an amazing mentor in this respect, to all of us. Stick with us on Facebook–I wouldn't want to lose your friendship.

  22. Reine

    Stephen… too, too kind. But thank you. I will be around connecting with you and all the others, commenters included, as they make themselves available.

    I am a Facebook devotee: Reine Harrington Carter for anyone who wants to friend me. It isn't blogging, but it has many of the qualities I value in communication and with endless opportunities for literary experimentation.

    I love you, Stephen.

  23. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Okay, here's the deal. I want a nice, even, thirty comments. And now I got it.

  24. Allison Davis

    Back at you, Stephen. We are all just paying it forward because we all get good things from each other. I know I'll see you soon but will miss your exceptional voice on Murderati. (Sorry for the late posts but am traveling). This has been a special place.

    I'd be careful about Zoe stalking you….

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