Wait, what?

by Alexandra Sokoloff

I’ve been a bit sick and rather distracted these last few weeks so this whole “Long Goodbye” has had a dreamlike quality for me. I keep thinking, “Did we really say we were going to do that? Surely not.”

But now it’s my turn, and it’s all starting to feel alarmingly real.

I’ve been with Murderati since, well, let’s look at the archives. Friday, December 8, 2006.  That would have been just after my first book, The Harrowing, was published.

I switched from screenwriting to writing books so quickly I really knew nothing at all about the book business, and even less about book promotion. I’m a pretty quick study, though, in general, and I jumped into the Internet research. And in 2006 it was pretty clear that blogging was the thing for authors to do, and pretty clear to me that Murderati was the mystery blog to beat.

So I became a frequent commenter. I came from theater, I know how to audition.  I figured I’d just be so sparkly and irresistible and indispensible that they’d just have to ask me to join. Which apparently worked, because they did.

It’s been a long time. I blogged here every week for several years.  I was quickly so sick of talking about myself (within a month, I’d say…) I started blogging on story structure instead, and ended up writing almost my whole Screenwriting Tricks for Authors workbook here, one blog at a time. That’s a pretty amazing thing, right there.  A lot of what I’ve written has been scribbled (typed) frantically at the end of long days when I’ve simply forgotten what day it was, an occupational hazard of a full-time writer. Other times I felt inspired, or felt like I had to top some tour de force of Steve’s, and I ended up feeling like a real writer of other things besides books.

I don’t have to tell any of you this, but a blog becomes a kind of PLACE, where people know they can stop by and find other people of like mind, a whole batch of regulars. Sometimes fun, sometimes comforting, sometimes confrontational, often emotional.  You actually work with your blogmates, so this is feeling like leaving a long-loved job.  As well as, as others have already said, like a favorite restaurant or bar or club closing down.

Only we did it to ourselves.  Why?

Honestly, it’s not the bi-weekly blogging that’s so hard – it’s the turnover.  Anyone leaving throws the balance into turmoil and the rest of us have to scramble to get back on track. I’ve done that scramble more times than I want to count over these six years. And the truth is, writers don’t seem to have enough time to blog any more. It feels like diminishing returns, when there’s a fast and easy alternative conversation on Facebook. The technology has changed. The conversation has moved.  We’re having to reinvent.

I used to run a huge cyber bulletin board of 2000+ screenwriters.  In many ways I’ve never been as comfortable with the blog format as I was with the bulletin board format. On WriterAction, ANYONE could start a thread. It was perfectly egalitarian that way. Some of our beloved backbloggers here on Murderati have been confessing that they had hopes of joining the lineup here. My feeling is that you often WERE the lineup – it just didn’t appear that way to a casual visitor because of the hierarchical structure of a blog. But on a bulletin board, you guys would clearly have been the lineup. I can’t help but feel that’s a better way.

Facebook eventually made our bulletin board unnecessary. It’s possible that it was mostly Facebook that made Murderati unnecessary as well. I’m an intensely social person and I need my social contact, but I see so many of you regularly on Facebook that I may have been lulled into feeling it’s not goodbye, just a change of venue that seems better suited to the times. I guess I’ll never know how many people regularly read my blogs here, but it’s easy to see that I’m getting massive traffic from my Facebook mini-blogs and random silly or profound comments there, because I get so many comments back.  More people take that time to comment on Facebook.  It feels more real, and I can be political, or brief, or cryptic, or completely idiotic. I like the informality, and I love the pace of conversation when it gets going.

In previous years I would have taken on the burden of reinventing Murderati as a bulletin board community or something similar. But I’m getting what I need out of Facebook, and I’m providing anyone who cares to drop by my FB page with the same thing I’ve done here, whatever the hell that is! – and with MUCH less time investment, leaving me more time to do what I’m supposed to be doing.  And we all know what that is. We all keep saying it.

We need to write books.

I know I’ll still be seeing a lot of you as much as ever, elsewhere.  But because Murderati is a PLACE, I am already missing and mourning it. It’s the end of an era, and we all take change hard. 

Please keep in touch, or it’s just too unbearable.

– Here’s where I am far too often on Facebook.

– I will be blogging regularly on my Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog – I teach a college film class, now, and will be doing a lot of movie breakdowns in the future.  I would love to have people come by and talk.

– My website is regularly updated, and you can join my mailing list there to get book news (no more than four updates a year.)

– And I am going to make a point of checking the Murderati Facebook page every day and posting/responding there.

And… I have to let you all know, since I have shared so much of my e book journey here: Huntress Moon was just nominated for a Thriller Award in the International Thriller Writers’ brand new category of Best E Book Original Novel.



That’s partly down to you, you know.

Thanks for everything.  I love you all.

Now tell me. Am I just an idiot for thinking Facebook is the modern alternative to blogging, and that it could ever be the same? If so, what WOULD be an alternative?



Be sure to tune in on weekends, too this month for posts by alumni.  J.D. Rhoades is first up, tomorrow! 




46 thoughts on “Wait, what?

  1. Barbie

    Alex, when I first came here I was following authors I already knew! Getting to know you and reading your posts was one of the best things about Murderati! I'm really glad we'll be able to keep in touch on Facebook! I learn so much from you! <3

  2. Jake Nantz

    Wow. You guys are really splitting. I get what you mean about Facebook, but it often becomes so political and I absolutely abhor talking politics. I get angry, I make others angry, and it's just not worth it.

    As for Murderati, it's frustrating for me because of the amount of influence I feel like all of you have had on my current career, let alone my writing. I wouldn't be the Creative Writing teacher I am without everything you've taught me about plot structure, the things I learned from Dusty and Zoe and Tess and Corbett about character, editing and craft nuances from Pari and Louise and Alafair and Toni, everything Brett and RGB and JT and Allison have shown about pacing, and the look behind the curtain at the business side of things that we all got from Gar and Stephen and Phillippa and…

    Oh hell. This sucks. I'm so gonna miss you guys. At least I know I'll see you here in 2015, but until then, ugh…

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Barbie, it's so great to be able to dialogue with you over on Facebook. If anything I feel like you and I talk MORE over there. But I also know because you're a youngster 😉 FB is a more natural place for you, more comfortable than it will ever be for some of our other readers. That makes me sad, but I don't know what tot do about it.

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Jake, it's been a joy seeing you grow as a teacher and a writer, and for me to learn from your thoughtful take on any topic that came up. This is what I mean when I say that you guys were the lineup, just as much as we were. You're an inspiration, and I hope your students appreciate how lucky they are.

    (I make other people angry with my political posts, too, but it's not like I haven't clearly labeled myself in my profile. Plus, you know – anyone who can't tell my politics by looking at my hair….)

  5. Richard Maguire

    Hi Alex. I hope you're feeling much better.

    Well, damn Facebook – you've killed Murderati. For reasons too boring to relate, I don't have an account. But I'll certainly visit your website to check out what's new. And congratulations on the ITW nomination. HUNTRESS MOON was the first e-book I downloaded when I got a present of a Kindle.

    I understand the reasons why Murderati is ending. Reading between the lines of a few recent posts – especially your own, where you posed the question, To blog or to Facebook? – I had the feeling the end was in sight. Though I hoped not. It's been my favorite blog since just before you came on board. It took a few years before I found the courage to comment. I could jump a horse over a fence, run 10 miles before breakfast, but the thought of commenting on a blog run by so many excellent writers was daunting. Eventually I did, because this has been such an obviously friendly place. I'll miss it.

    Best wishes, Alex, and I'll keep an eye out for all your future books.

  6. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Richard, you always have been just that perceptive. I personally had no idea that we'd be closing the doors so soon after I blogged that about Facebook and microblogging – but I've seen it happening to other blogs (It was such a shock to me when The Lipstick Chronicles shut down…).

    And this is what I hate – there are definitely people I won't be seeing on FB. I am so sorry that you are one of them. Please come talk with my on my blog, or I'll have to hunt you down. Which I'm good at. Author, you know.

  7. Larry Gasper

    Congratulations on the nomination, Alex. It's well deserved.
    Murderati has been both a community and a master class in writing for me. Some of the community can be found on Facebook and hopefully I've learned enough to strike out on my own with my novel. I think I have because I'm revising the book now and feel in control of the material, something I rarely did before.
    I've started friending some of the other commenters, like Reine and Lisa and already have friended all the contributors. To the other commenters, feel free to send me a Friend request. Your voices have been just as much a part of Murderati as the bloggers.

  8. Sarah W

    I'm still hoping for a last minute save, though I know the only real, if not realistic, way to loosen up everyone's schedule would involve adding a couple hours to the earth's rotation.

    Alex, your posts have been educational and encouraging–and fun. You have a knack for explaining the more difficult parts of the writing business so that they seem, if not easy, at least manageable. And your structure posts have made watching my favorite movies even more interesting (I'm pretty sure my plotting has improved, too).

    I'm so glad you have your own blog and a Facebook presence. I'll still miss you *here*, but at least I know you'll be *there.*

    And congratulations on HUNTRESS MOON's nomination!

  9. Alexandra Sokoloff

    That is EXCELLENT news about your book, Larry, I'm so glad for you! And I am so touched that all of you are friending each other. Good for you!! Everyone needs those critique partners, too…

    Please feel free to make the Murderati page your hang out to talk – I'm sure all of us would love to be in on those conversations.

  10. Kathryn Lilley

    I know what you're saying about FB, but too many people I talk to are finding FB increasingly annoying. There's also something to be said for having a platform that is independent of third-party control. One more major privacy invasion or "retooling" to boost its stock price, and I'm off FB. As an author, I also like the strength of voice that comes from a group of authors, as opposed to individuals. So I don't thinks blogs are passé, I think they must change with the times, find new ways to stay relevant.

  11. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Sarah, my dear. Manageable is what I strive for. And I don't have to tell you that surrendering to the absurdity of it all can be fun. You constantly crack me up. We couldn't have gone on as long as we did without you. Murderati, c'est toi.

  12. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Hey Kathryn! You're right, of course. Blogging is still completely viable, and the combination of author voices is golden. But there comes a point that it HAS to be easier, or it's counterproductive.

  13. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Beautifully put, Alex. I so admire you for your energy and enthusiasm and talent. Thank you again for championing me when my name came up for the vote. Being part of Murderati is one of the coolest things I've ever experienced. Second only to dancing with you at that blues club in Indianapolis. Or drinking Absinthe with you in New Orleans. Let's never not know each other, okay?

  14. Shizuka

    Damn. I've accepted what's happening, but I'm still having trouble being a grown up about it.
    FB's oddly annoying — conversations run by like like horses on a track and oops, if you didn't catch them when they were going on, it all feels moot. Maybe the timeliness of it is what people like. Still, I'm glad you're on FB. I know where to find you.
    And your personal blog is great.

  15. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    You're either going to have to live on a boat or join me in the skies, because I've decided I'm going to be a pelican in my next life. I'll hang out mostly in Hermosa Beach, although I'll travel up to San Francisco on occasion, passing through Big Sur on the way.

  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Ooh, Shizuka, you really know how to twist the knife.

    I don't know if that's true about FB. I've been doing a microblog or two on my page every week, and I find people will stick around talking about it for days – no different from here, really, in terms of time frame.

  17. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I'm sorry, but pelicans kick-ass. They always have friends, hang out by the beach, eat lots of sushi, and have no real natural enemies (unless they get too close to sharks). They're cute as hell, too. And their beaks can hold more than their bellycan.

  18. Fran

    I like your image of Murderati as a Place. I like Facebook well enough, but in terms of place, Facebook is a busy bar with everyone talking all at once. Here at Murderati, it was a quiet cafe where I could listen to old friends discuss things I knew interested me. There's room enough in my heart and life for both, and this quiet cafe — or elite club, as Gar put it — has been undeniably special. There are other blogs with other authors and they are wonderful, each in their own ways, but there will always be only one Murderati.

  19. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Fran, you are so right about the quietness and intimacy, and we knew we were doing something right because we attracted regular readers like you. You BETTER keep up with me on Facebook. I will hunt people down.

  20. Fran

    Heh, Alex, I *have* to keep in touch! I'm still having a blast selling THE PRICE, even though I have to import it from the UK. But that's the joy of my job; I love being a book pusher!

  21. KDJames

    If anyone could just choose to become something in their next life, I believe it would be Stephen.

    Alex, I'm not even going to say goodbye to you. I know I'll be seeing you around, in various places.

    You were the one who told me about Murderati [yes, now you all know who to blame] when you were nice enough to stop and talk to me and answer my gauche clueless questions after a chapter meeting. Thank you for always being so generous and gracious. And sparkly and irresistible. God, that was a long time ago– are we old yet? Even then, it took me a while to make my way over here, and even longer to work up the courage to comment. I'm so glad I did. And so grateful to have been a small part of this rare place where writers talked to each other about writing.

    There's so much more I could say. But I think I'll just leave it at that.

    Oh, and HUGE congrats on the ITW nomination. It's hard to tell, with all the small presses springing up, but it looked to me like yours is the only self-pubbed book on that list. Well done, you.

  22. JT Ellison

    Sigh. You've taught me so much, Alex. I'll always appreciate your insight.

    And congrats on the nom!

  23. Alexandra Sokoloff

    KD, no, it's definitely not goodbye, and yes, we are old. 😉

    Absolutely unbelievable that you ever had trouble commenting. There were many weeks I just wanted to hand my spot over to you.

    We'll party at a con, soon. In the meantime, you know where I'll be. XX

  24. Kaye Barley

    I love Murderati – always have. AND, y'all opened your arms to me – not something I'll ever forget. The second blog piece I ever wrote was right here. Invited by J.T. to write about the Internet Watercooler. I honestly had no idea what all that would lead to. A successful blog of my own where almost all of you have been guests at least once, and now my first novel. Don't tell me blogging can't lead to great and unexpected things.

    Alex – I agree. I think Facebook is where it's happening for us now. Who knows what might be next? It's a fun ride.

    And to every single person who has posted and been a part of Murderati – Thank You!!!!!!!!!! You have each touched me, and many others.

  25. KDJames

    It's all a facade, Alex. Underneath, I'm a quivering mass of insecurity and neurotic self-doubt, just like any other writer. The thought of you handing over a spot to me, incredibly flattering as it is, makes me break out in a cold sweat. Sheesh. Thank you for never doing that!

  26. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Kaye, you're always the life of every party. Selfishly, I'm so glad you've embraced Facebook. Thank God!!

    And seeing your journey to a book has been one of the great joys of blogging here. Love you!!

  27. Reine

    Thanks, Alex. I hope that if you, or anyone else here starts a new blog, they will do it someplace other than Squarespace!

  28. Reine

    Hi Alex,

    I like Facebook, too. I think it can be a lot like a cross between blogging and bulletin board format. The discussion on any one FB page can be limited or expanded by the topics you introduce and whether or not you allow others to post on your timeline and with or without your screening. Concerns such as Jake's, regarding politics, could be handled in that way.

    Facebook, however, can be just as time-consuming as a blog, sometimes more. I say this, because as a writer enters the FB sphere with the intention of keeping in touch with the public and promoting their creations, they find that the expectations for their involvement are vastly increased. "Liking" and failing to "like" can be pathways to fan faux pas on the author's part to the fanaway, as I call it, on the reader's part. This is what happens when your most loyal readers feel snubbed or so overwhelmed by self-promotion that they feel you're only there for that reason. As you become more involved in the Facebook Friend sphere, you will want to be cautious about such things, because Facebooker Friends are there for interaction, the give and take of it. If it is all one sided, socially weighted in your direction, you will lose them.

    I hope that all of you who enjoy social give-and-take will friend me on Facebook, and I look forward to joining you there. If it is not the kind of engagement you enjoy, you're better off creating a FB fan page where people can check up on your activities and link to your other sites. Many authors do this very well. Louise Penny's FB fan page is a good example. Readers keep in touch with her there. Her commentary is informative and amusing. Her page is attractive and engaging. Readers get the information they are looking for, can express their thoughts and feelings, ask questions, and link to relevant sites. It's all very nice, fun, and mildly interactive.

    Either way or not at all, my loves… xoxo

  29. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Squarespace hates me. It just bounced me and ate my comment.

    Reine, you bring up a lot of things that I worry about on FB. I try to be there to answer stuff, but it often gets overwhelming and don't get back for a while just because of work pileup or personal stuff. I know people on FB know it's ME doing the posting and not an assistant, though, and I think people figure out pretty quickly that I'm kind of a space case.

    But lately I've noticed that people come back to comment over a period of days, so I feel like I can leave a post up and be more responsible about answering all the comments, eventually.

    Politics – I've never banned anyone from my page for their politics. Only a few for creepiness.

    At any rate, I know I'll see you there, and that makes me happy. XX

  30. Reine

    Hi Alex,

    Was that you who responded to my post, or was it me? Or do I know another Reine and not know it? 🙂

    I think you are right, but much of people's ability to follow your response depends on how they choose their FB settings. If they're not set to receive notifications, or if they don't have you set as a good friend, or they don't have the news crawl, they might not notice. Mostly, though, I think your way is the best and healthiest approach.


  31. Pari Noskin

    Wow, great conversation. Sorry to have visited late.
    I'm not sure how FB will work. I haven't really blogged there and I like the blog format because it gives me a chance to write short essays . . .but we'll see. I just hope we –more experienced writers, new writers, readers — all stay in touch somehow.

  32. Allison Davis


    What Jake said. What Larry said. Sigh. What we all are saying. Corbett is reading my manuscripy now and you like the other Muderati have as much to do with any eventual success it may have as I do. Thank you for keeping at it and inspiring us to do the same. Where was i when you guys were drinking in New Orleans. All of you remember o have a hhouse and it would be a grand gathering place for a reunion of sorts. Confrats on your nomination. See you on FB.

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