Oh good, the site is still here

Oh wow, it’s been a while since I last put anything here. I wasn’t sure that WordPress still had an account for me. I’ve gotten some great reviews for The Ladies Who Lunch, which is just wonderful to see.

I have a full rough draft of Bloody Murder #5, but I ran into a problem that I suspect more than a few mystery writers do. Someone beat me to a plot twist. An exact plot twist with the exact same literary reference to go with it. To top it off, it’s from one of my favorite authors.


So…#6 will now be #5 and I will work what was #5 into a spot later in the series as a flashback of sorts. The title is The Chicago Dog. Credit for the title goes to my first beta reader, Andral. I’d had another title, but then I learned the old, very old phrase, that I wanted to use had hateful connotations towards people of color so that idea went right out the window.

The Chicago Dog’s rough draft is about halfway done. It has a pretty complicated timeline, which is fun to work on and making me wish I had a huge whiteboard. Unfortuately, in a studio apartment, there isn’t room for such a thing. I suppose I could use sticky notes on the closet door….

Thank you for reading. I hope to put more here soon. I’ve been reading a lot and am working on getting back in the habit of writing every day. I was doing pretty well but then the holiday stress kind of got to me.

Wishing you health and safety.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What I’ve Been Reading

While the Bloody Murder mysteries are often classified as ‘cozy’ (an appellation I have mixed feelings about), most of the mysteries I read are a lot closer to hard-boiled. They’re certainly more violent.

I got into John Sandford’s Prey series because of my Nana. I was visiting and there was a copy of Winter Prey on a table near the chair I’d sat in often since I was quite small.

The main character is Lucas Davenport. If you go back to the first book, Eyes of Prey, you see him reading poetry and giving the cops investigating him the finger. I liked him right away.

The series is up to 29 books and has managed not to get formulaic and the plots do not get so outrageous that you suspend your suspension of disbelieve (I’m looking at you, Robert K. Tannenbaum). Lucas lives and learns. His ethics are a bit situational when it comes to bringing down someone dangerous, but Sandford understands consequences. I think that’s important in any story.

Sandford’s books typically come out in the spring. I do recommend reading them in order to see the full evolution of the character and enjoy the constantly shifting cast of supporting characters. I named an RPG character after a man named Sloan. Sloan also shows up in another writing project, which if it gets published will be under another name. Kate Kulig belongs to Bloody Murder.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

It’s good to be back

Hi everyone.

If you’re new to the Bloody Murder Books blog, welcome! If you’ve been with me through the long hiatus, thank you very much!

I’m excited to be back and if all goes in somewhat relation to plan (no plan survives first contact with the enemy), I will be posting more often about what I’m reading, what I’m writing, and hopefully hear from you about the same.

You can also find me on the Facebook page Bloody Murder Royal Street Irregulars. Zo can’t solve mysteries without her friends and contacts, and I can’t sell books unless readers like you read and review. You’ll see notes from this blog, occasional short sarcastic (of course) commentary, and lots of memes about coffee.

I’ve had people ask if Bloody Murder was going to have a Pinterest page, but that’s more of a Marie thing. I’m not sure if Feliz would have one. I see her as more likely to be on Instagram with lots of pictures of Alandra and Mateo once the timeline of the books catches up to where everyone has a smartphone.

Hope to hear from folks soon!



Leave a comment

Filed under Bloody Murder, books, Welcome

Coming Soon


Leave a comment

July 6, 2019 · 6:20 pm

Still Writing

Hi everyone,

I was a bit ambitious when I last wrote, thinking I was going to be back to something like normal a lot sooner than later. A lot has happened over the last couple of years. A lot.

I mentioned the breast cancer last entry, which was caught so early I didn’t need chemotherapy, which was a happy thing. The surgery was uncomplicated, I barely have a scar. The radiation, though, about four weeks in (there were seven)I learned what cancer-related fatigue was like.

It comes on suddenly, and doesn’t care what you’re doing, or where you are. Picture a marionette suddenly having its strings cut and flopping to the ground. It was a daily thing for months following radiation and it still bothers me now and again.  Did you know you can have fatigue and insomnia at the same time? I hope it never happens to you.

Right after my surgery, my sweetie started a new job in the city. Six months later we were in an apartment in the Theatre District, across the street from the edge of Hell’s Kitchen. I love it here, even if one of the jumbotrons from Times Square shines into my bedroom window. I loved my commute to Queens, which was 23 minutes door to desk if the elevators cooperated.

At the end of July, Nexx broke his ankle. Actually, shattered. There are a number of plates and screws there now. Two weeks after that happened I was told my job was done as of October 31. There were no new projects that needed my talents. You might say there was a little stress for the next two months. You might also say that the president tweets once in a while.

Nexx started a new job, I went nuts trying to find a new one. That finally happened in January, and things there are going well. I have a great boss and the job is a good match for my skills.

My editors, of course, have lives, and those lives can get complicated. Of that I will say no more. I have happily found a new talent in that area (Hi Allison!), and I have just finished with the 2nd round of edits of The Ladies Who Lunch. I don’t have a publication date as yet. I want another round of revisions and another edit, and I still need a cover photo.

But things have settled down somewhat, which is nice. It felt good to get back in the editing groove. There will be more Bloody Murder soon!.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

We interrupt this edit

Hi everyone. I would love to tell you that editing and revisions for #4 are proceeding apace, but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. A few things happened.

  1. My software had a bit of a fit and I lost several hours of work that needed to be reconstructed. I reconstructed it, and then lost it again. I started using StoryMill a while back and it’s been fine until now. I’ve come to face that while it is great for the creative process, I might have to dump an export into Word and edit there. Considering my copy of Word is from 2008, I’m thinking of moving towards Open Office or another Mac-compatible option. So, slowness.
  2. The other thing is slightly more annoying and not only occupies a lot of my time and energy, but sometimes completely takes over my life and my brain: I was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer at the end of June. I have since had a lumpectomy and will be receiving radiation treatments this fall (Kill it! Kill it with fire!). I am expected to be quite fatigued during treatment. Right now, I have no symptoms, and the surgical recovery is going well. I am on the hunt for the perfect bra.

While I’ve considered writing about my experience with cancer and treatment, I’ve determined it will not become part of the Bloody Murder world. Marie would be a great candidate, and I would like to give her a good subplot in a future novel. Well, another one. She has a bit of one in #5, that becomes a bit of a surprise to her. I’m not going to do that to Feliz. She had enough crap thrown at her in Post Parcel that she deserves a little happiness, and that’s going to come in a fashion that she doesn’t expect.

The editing client will be addressed this weekend. My needs are pretty simple. Fonts for italics, page and section breaks, which you’d think would make it okay to just use a text editor. Unfortunately, I need the ability to save in .doc for my formatter who puts things into Smashwords for me (thank you!), and .html to upload to Amazon’s publisher. I really do not want to have to import and export into multiple formats. I am all for saving a hassle factor.

I plan to investigate Pages, which isn’t terribly expensive, there’s also a Document Writer app. Much of today will be spent reading reviews before I make a decision.

Thank you for sticking with me.

Also, #4 is titled The Ladies Who Lunch. A little bonus for you that read all the way to this point.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On revisions and food analogies.

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
—Octavia E. Butler

When I started writing novels, it was because of National Novel Writing Month. One of the wisest pieces of advice shares a theme with the above. “Give yourself permission to write crap.”

I have fortunately never labored under the illusion that my first draft is publishable. Before I presented Bloody Murder to a publisher in 2004, I had been editing and revising it for over two years. The publisher, who shall remain nameless, told me his liked the book, wanted to publish it, but the following year. The thing was, he never gave me a contract. Eventually, he introduced me to another publisher who rejected the book.

To me, revisions are the difference between creating and crafting. I create the rough draft, but that’s like creating a lump of clay that hasn’t been thrown on the wheel yet. It’s not soup yet, it other words.

Soup is a better analogy, really. Zofia makes good soup, a quality of mine that I gave her (I did not give her my screwed-up childhood or my misanthropy).  You start with ingredients and turn them into food. You need broth (setting)  (which is a creation process on its own, remind me to update Knives, Fire & Fun again soon), you need spices (descriptive language), you need protein (plot), you need characters (aromatics), you need dialogue (vegetables).

And then it needs to simmer, and you need the fat skimmed off, and the spices need to be tweaked. Tasted, perhaps, if the beta reader isn’t busy.

That’s what’s going on now. I’m partway through the first revision of #4 and I think it’s coming along pretty well. I also have a new supporting character debuting. I will be thanking someone for allowing me to base the character on them, but I have to put my own touches, of course.

So, we’re in the crafting stage. The ingredients have been put together, now it’s time to make it soup.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

On evil

When it comes to writing evil characters, I want to make them interesting, almost understandable, but not necessary sympathetic. It’s not a simple process.

For some of the process, I turn to my Dungeons & Dragons hobby. When you create a D&D character, you choose an alignment with two qualities. One is either lawful, neutral, or chaotic, the other is good, or evil. So, that gets you some interesting combinations:

Lawful Good–best example in popular media right now, is Captain America. If you were to put Steve Rogers in a D&D game, he would probably play a Paladin who used divine powers to smite evil. Damn, I love the word smite. Jerry Ashe comes pretty close to Lawful Good. Zofia certainly calls him a Boy Scout often enough. The cops are ideally lawful good, but I think Levin, with his world-weary ways, might lean towards neutral because fighting crime sometimes seems like a losing battle and the best he can do is keep evil from taking over.

Neutral good–Neutral may struggle against order just because rules can be restrictive. A neutral good person is likely to do good deeds, but not necessarily follow the law if it gets in the way. I think I’d call Zofia neutral good, but she has her chaotic days.

Chaotic Good–free spirits. Someone who will leave the house saying, “I’m going out to commit a felony. Or get ice cream. I’ll know when I get there.” Marie is more chaotic good than Zofia, but the two of them were definitely chaotic in high school, causing mischief for the sake of mischief. If you don’t mind the Avengers comparison, Agent Coulson is the perfect example.

True neutral–true neutral can come in a couple of flavors. Someone who believes good and evil need to be in balance in order for the world to truly function. Then there’s the people who don’t give a damn about anything.

Lawful Evil–lawful evil ends up in charge too damn much of the time. Hitler, for example. Mussolini. My friend Alex. Anybody who willingly joined Hydra. Politicians who stay bought once they’re bought.

Neutral Evil–Assholes, basically. Not necessary malevolent, but definitely out for themselves. Politicians who don’t stay bought. Your average comic book villain. Captain Cold, from the Flash’s Rogues Gallery is a great example. Sociopaths. Narcissists.

Chaotic Evil–and we’re back to the Avengers. Loki all the way here. Changing over the DC universe again for a moment, we have the Joker. Some chaotic evil characters have the delusion that they’re really Good. Or that Somebody Did Them Wrong, which gives you a martyr complex that can be tough to take. Real martyrs just get on with it and die.

Evil is a challenge to write, especially if you want to give the character depth. Selfish is pretty easy, chaotic can be downright fun, but interesting characters need layers. Those layers, if done well, could make you almost sympathize with the character, even if you can’t quite forgive the atrocities they’re capable of. Insanity is almost a cop-out.

And this almost has to bring up the discussion of “is evil born or made?” I don’t know. I know good people can be driven to do evil deeds.

A long time ago, after a party wound down, I walked someone to their car, talked a while and found my roommate in deep conversation with her then boyfriend. As I walked up the stairs into the living room, my roommate (a lapsed Catholic like myself) asked me, “What is the basic nature of man?”

My reply, “I think I’ll have another beer.”

After I cracked a can of beer open, I joined them in the living room and said, “I think mankind is basically good, but also basically selfish and greedy, which is why it’s so easy to be caught up in evil things.” This is not an exact quote, this was over 20 years ago.

The conversation kind of deteriorated from there.

I put aside Catholicism in 1997, started reading Buddhism in 1999. I still believe humans are born good. I also believe it’s the ego that causes problems. That our desires cause us to make choices to do evil that ultimately make us unhappy. So the desires can get bigger, but they never fill the need.

I doubt sometimes, though. I read about Charles Manson, Jack the Ripper, the Green River Killer, Ronald Dominique, or the Angel Makers of Nagryev, and I have to wonder, “Could anything have truly made someone that way?”

I think of all this when I write.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized


I am happy to announce, that Bloody Murder #4 is now in revisions. This means that the (very) rough draft of #5 is complete as of last week. I do not have a publication date as of yet. There is a lot of work on my part, and the parts of my loyal editors Kimberly and Fae before #4 will be ready for your curious eyes. I hope you’ll patient when it isn’t exactly a year from Snow Job’s publication.

Meanwhile, I have developed the Bloody Murder Royal Street Irregulars Facebook page, and I hope you take a moment to pop over there and like the page. While there are not in-depth details and me ruminating on various subjects, there is plenty of randomness, sarcasm, and muffins. I may begin to include mystery/thriller book recommendations. Laura Lippman’s latest Tess Monaghan novel is fantastic, for example. JD Rhoades has a new Jack Keller book out, and there is both a Junior Bender AND a Poke Rafferty out from Tim Hallinan. There’s also a new Prey book due out soon.

I promise not to let all the reading I want to do get in the way of editing. Lucky for all of us I don’t get NESN, the New England Sports Network on my cable provider. Otherwise, Red Sox games would be causing more delays and a severe lack of sleep.

Next post: on creating evil.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Well that’s pretty nifty

It’s always exciting to that notification from Amazon or Smashwords that I’ve got a royalty deposit coming into my bank account. I need to give a shoutout to a friend and New York media personality Steve Strangio. I first met Steve during my freshman year at Hoftstra where he was majoring in TV and I was majoring in radio. He walked up to me in the quad and drafted me for one of his assignments. I don’t remember the plot of the show, but it had something to do with Jo-Jo the dog-faced boy. I played the wife of someone named Ira.

Anyway, we reconnected on Facebook and I learned he has a YouTube Channel and when he’s offered the chance, I have been happy to buy ad space on his shows. You can see the Bloody Murder Series promo.

I bring this up, because advertising and marketing makes a big difference when you’re an Indie author. When there are 40 hours a week at a Day Job ™, marketing becomes a challenge because it takes resources that could go to things like food, sleep, and well writing.

But it makes a difference, and something I don’t necessarily get from my Facebook, blogs, or G+ posts is a reach to an international audience.

Amazon just let me know I have royalties coming from England AND Germany. My first reaction was to ping a musician friend of mine who lives in Berlin and he said (with apologies) that no, it wasn’t him.

Pretty damn cool.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized