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.
(Stop by this weekend for two more goodbye posts – from our own Allison Brennan and Toni McGee Causey!)
Damn, JT. You made me cry. Again.
Thanks for creating this amazing space.
It's crazy gutsy for you to step forward when you hadn't published yet, for you to learn all that coding stuff (even typing the word makes me brain freeze), but then I think of you as brave above all.
Amazing post…. I'm pretty much speechless.
A typically great post, JT. Thank you for it and all the years of Murderati, and for making me a part of the Murderati Auxiliary. I'll miss the occasional group get-togethers — but I know I'll be seeing you soon!
Thank you so much for helping me discover all these wonderful authors, J.T.
see you on your blog
Through floods and feasts and famines of the mind, your spirit emerges and your words mark the pages of life.
Shizuka, thank you. I haven't ever regretted taking the time to learn these things – it's been a huge boon. And I promise, it's not so hard : ) Thank you for the lovely words.
PD – i hope you're feeling much, much better today. Get home, get well, and keep in touch!
My dear Neil – you are the reason I stuck with this journey for so many years, and your advice and guidance has been invaluable. My very first day, you commented, and I was floored. Speechless. You helped us build, grow, think. And you took the time, year after year, to come to the blog and deliver an interview of epic proportions, ones so cool we dubbed them the STATE OF THE INDUSTRY.
From "Flamango" to the rise of the ebook, you were open, honest, and unfailingly kind to all of us here at Murderati. I can't thank you enough for being a mentor, a friend, and a brilliant editor who brings some of my favorite books and authors to life. (For more on Neil's STATE OF THE INDUSTRY interviews, click here – https://www.murderati.com/blog/2011/4/15/neil-nyren-is-back-the-5th-annual-state-of-the-industry-inte.html There are links to all his great posts in the first paragraph)
You're the best, Neil. Thank you. For everything! : )
Pauline, it's been an honor. I've discovered a lot of writers here too – both Murderati and guest bloggers. The fun of the internet age!
Judy, that's lovely. Thank you! A legacy I want, for sure, and to hear you say it – well, thank you.
You are such a strong, beautiful woman, JT. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am honored to listen. Xx
Well, I didn't get through that without tearing up. JT, so many thanks for the generosity of this blog and the generosity of your spirit and your teachings. This community created community and leaves us more knowledgeable and better fed. Each of you shared with us your very best: your selves.And such priceless gifts we have. Thank you again. Thank all.
Jolina, lessons I take from you, sweetie, lessons I take from you.
Sandy, I didn't mean to make you cry! But thank you – it's good to have a chance to see you and say Ciao!
What a beautiful and inspiring post, JT! Another three hankie morning for me. This is a remarkable record of human progress and resilience of the spirit. I hope it felt as good to write as it did to read.
Thank you to you and all Murderati–Happy trails …..
O what a post, JT. It has left me speechless, save for congratulating you on all your accomplishments and your growth as a person and a writer. Much love.
JT – that was a perfect send-off. You've definitely learned to express your feelings in public — I'm glad you did. And you gave everyone a glimpse of Murderati "back stage," of all the chaos that occurs before the curtain rises.
Despite the occasional flare-ups, I enjoyed the process immensely. I can't believe it's over. I'm going to miss logging into the site and uploading my words and photos. I'm going to miss reading the comments of friends.
I remember when I was sixteen and I worked in landscaping. I remember the incredible feeling of satisfaction I had when I finished a project. Once, I helped build this enormous lake in a man's back yard. It was three-quarters the size of a football field and ten feet deep. It tapped into an underground river and the water recycled regularly. We dragged two-hundred pound railroad ties and placed them two-high around the entire perimeter of the lake. When it was done, it was a thing of beauty. I never felt so satisfied or proud of anything I had created, and I did it with my own hands.
You built this, girl. Murderati is your project. It remains as a thing of beauty. It remains. Sit back, be calm, graceful, kind and focused. And be proud of what you've created in Murderati. We're all the better for the work you've done.
Hi JT. A really excellent post. And a fitting tribute to what Murderati has been all about.
In the six years I've been reading the blog, I'd often wondered who came up with the name. My guess was either yourself or Pari. Well now I finally know.
Quite simply, this became the best blog of its kind on the web. I don't know of its equal. And I'm going to miss the stimulating conversations that took place here, the humour, but also getting "live updates" from the trenches as a group of crime writers negotiated their way through this crazy time in the publishing business. I would have loved to read an update from Neil.
On the positive side I discovered the books of the wonderful writers here. Writers whose work I'll always look forward to reading.
Love you, JT! I can relate to your post in so many ways. If any of you readers out there are going through similar dark times, just know that there will be light, eventually. It might not be the particular happy ending that you were going for, but at least I've discovered that there is more than answer "A." There are B, C, D, etc., each sifting me to become a stronger and sometimes even better person.
Dee, thank you – that's just life, isn't it? We get knocked down, get back up, and keep going. Blessings to you today!
Twist, sweets, we've known each other for a long, long time now, and it's so god to see you here today, especially as your start your own new journey. Thanks for always knowing just what to say.
Richard – it's been a run! We've been blessed with some of the greatest writers in the genre talking about writing here, and I know I've learned from them all. I'm going to miss it too – it's a dreadful time for all of us. But the archives will stand, and maybe there will be a phoenix from the ashes.
Oh, Stephen, would that I could see that man's lake, built by your own hands! You've always gotten it, and gotten me, and I absolutely treasure you. Your bravery and opening and eloquence gave me courage – gave us ALL courage. Thank you for stepping in to handle things when they got to be too much for me, for your steady friendship, and your unique view on the world. I hope you decide to blog again, because I dig your voice, man.
Naomi, my love, it goes without saying… You're wonderful and it was an honor to kick off Murderati with you – your steady hand and sweet disposition kept this renegade in the game more than once. You're truly a gift to us all, and I miss you a ton. Keep rocking it, girl!
Ah Sweetie, what a way to say Ciao! The people you've introduced us to, the things we've learned, and you made it all seem smooth and easy, which is no simple task. Brilliant, and you should always be proud of what you and Pari accomplished here.
Give Randy a big hug from me, and get one back for yourself. I'm sure I'll chat with you soon!
oh sweetie. Have I told you lately how much I love you? I don't think I have. YOU, girl, are one very special person and I love ya to the moon and back.
Geez, JT. Just when I thought I had finished with crying. You know, back when you decided to stop blogging here, I was shocked. I never once questioned that it was the right decision for you at that time, because I've always seen you as someone who is very self-aware, but I didn't completely understand it. Now I do. And I admire you all the more, if that's even possible, for making what had to be a wrenching decision.
"Calm. Graceful. Kind. Focused."
I'd add "strong" to that list. You've always projected those things outwardly. I'm so happy to hear you're finding them on the inside as well.
Thank you seems inadequate, but I'll say it anyway. Thank you for the heavy lifting of setting up and maintaining the site, for all the insightful and informative blog posts, for dealing with all the shit that went down behind the scenes, for making this an inclusive and interactive and welcoming place. Thank you.
I'm not going to say goodbye, either. I already stalk– er, see you in other places.
You say you don't have Murderati anymore. I think you're mistaken. You'll always have Murderati. And so will the rest of us.
Lovely, wonderfully direct farewell post, JT. Much continued success — and may lots of fine wine find its way to you.
What a beautiful goodbye post J.T. you brought tears to my eyes. I owe you a huge thank you for introducing me to Murderati! I read about it in the acknowledgments of all your books, and finally after after 4 or 5 books I decided to check it out. In January 2010 when I found Murderati it was at a really hard time for me and coming to this blog everyday gave me something to really look forward to. So again THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Looking forward to continuing interacting with you and all the other Murderati authors on Facebook and through your websites. 🙂
Hi Fran! I know your ears were burning – I was bragging about you and your store last weekend. We've met so many of you through this blog – and cherish those friendships. Thanks for always bringing a smile to my face.
Kaye – thank you! Love right back at you – and so proud of you, girl – for believing and writing and making your dreams come true. You gave us all so many opportunities, and we can't thank you enough.
B.G. – 7 years we've been friends – I'll never forget the call you made to my launch party. I've never been so touched – and it makes me so happy to see you here on my last day. xoxo
Erin, hon, it seems we all find our way here at exactly the right moment, don't we? I'm so glad we were there for you. And it's awesome to see you here when I'm used to seeing you on FB! Many roads left to travel, I hope to see you on them all.
KD – Damn it. I swore I wasn't going to cry today, and here you've put a lump in my throat. Thank you for understanding. That means a lot. And you know, it was a hell of a lot of fun for a very long time, being here, being a part of this community. You're right – Murderati will never go away. Not as long as folks like you remember. See you!
Beautifully done, J.T.
Thanks for letting me come in and sit a spell. It was a blast.
I'll write you privately about why I was unable to comment yesterday.
This blog was so beautiful, so heartfelt and honest.
I sit in awe of your accomplishments and growth — as a writer and human being — these last seven years. What a gift you've given all of us with you . . . your writing, your life . . . you.
From the bottom of my heart: thank you.
Of course, I'd 'posted' yesterday, but forgot to solve the darned captcha, so, my post got lost. I found it today, because my computer was still open in this page! Many of my Murderati posts disappeared this way. It wasn't a fancy post or anything, just a simple,
"Shit, tears. First time over whole month. You are something. But, well, there's Toni (I'm betting tears!) and Allison (probably not!) over the weekend for me to cry some more! 🙂
You seem like an amazing woman, JT."
Still, I'd wanted to get it through. 🙂
Wow. Just wow. You are an amazing person, and I am so glad I got the chance to "know" you through this site. I feel like I learned so much from your posts and comments, so it's so good to hear you have that strength and confidence for yourself now. Awesome. I wish you all the best, and will continue reading everything of yours I can. I hope I can run into you at a conference some day.
Thanks for all of this. Great send off. The fledging will do you all proud.
Pari, we've had quite a ride, haven't we? Thank you for including me in the fun!
Barbie, thank you. It's good to see you here, and I wish you all the best with your writing!
Jake, I always enjoyed your comments, and being challenged by a teacher int he trenches. I look forward to meeting you in person too!
Allison, I hope you'll keep me up to date on all our work! Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks, JT. You're an inspiration to me, and I can attest that stating your intentions during your practice has worked. You embody all of those qualities. And I feel privileged to know you a little.