Murder With Friends – Novella-ing (Plus Excerpt)


No, that’s probably not a real word. I made it up, to mean the writing of a novella.

No-vel-la: a short novel. Several of these short novels usually appear together in a complete book

And the novella I’m writing now will be part of a book scheduled for release this fall, called Somebody Has to Die. Fellow Tulsa writers Paula and Jill are working on this endeavor, too. Our three short books – plus another we’ll write together – will make up the bigger book. Each of us writes from her own expertise. Paula’s story is a type of murder mystery involving the legal world;  Jill’s falls into the mystery- cozy world inhabited by down home people; and my story is about a newspaper feature writer who stumbles into murder and mayhem while on a writing assignment. (I’m drawing from my years of experience as a writer for The Ponca City News.)

What you may not know about novellas is: they are tough to write! Although shorter, usually from 18,000 to 25,000 words (or 70-100 pages) they still have to pack the punch of a good mystery story. All the plot and character elements are there – the good guy, the bad guy, the helpers and the red herrings. And, as in all good mysteries, the end twists your socks off.

Each of our three stories is set in Oklahoma. Although we are together in Tulsa right now, we hail from various smaller cities/towns in the state. Each place flavors our writing, the settings, the characters, the dialogue. I can’t wait for it all to come together.

Somebody Has to Die will actually include four stories, the fourth piece in the book will be a joint effort, with all three of our main characters coming together in a ‘therapy’ session designed to help these women come to terms with the murderous situations they have just lived through. Who knows what the three of them will cook up — but I can guarantee this book of novellas will not be the only project the three of us tackle together.

I hope you’ll stay tuned for more about this project. Watch for the completed work in October, in plenty of time for Christmas!


And now – for a teaser – here are the first fifty-plus words of my story, Death in Cimarron Valley.


Claire Northcutt blared her truck’s horn and peered up the gravel road into the glaring morning sun as it peeked over the tops of oak and cedar trees hugging the ridgeline of the Cimarron Valley Rescue Ranch. Floren had never been late before.

Shading her eyes, she stared beyond the blood red pipe gate, where the wash-boarded unpaved road meandered through the tall meadow grasses and over the ridgeline.

This morning, Claire saw no mustangs or burros. But with 640 acres – a square mile – of grazing land, she reasoned the animals could be anywhere.

On the previous two interviews, Floren’s new silver truck had waited inside the closed gate.

“I’ll drive us in,” he’d said with a wink, looking every bit the Oklahoma rancher, jeans starched and ironed, a plaid long sleeve shirt, worn black cowboy boots and a white straw hat. Friendly crinkles framed his eyes in a perpetually sunburned face. He’d smile as he checked out her wavy shoulder-length hair, and the way her own jeans hugged her curves.


watch for more!

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