It Takes a Village . . .

It’s said that being an author is a lonely profession. It often is just that when one considers the days of isolation developing a plot idea, the fleshing out of plot points, and the actual writing of the story. All are done mainly as solitary tasks.

As I continue to publish novels, however, I’m continually reminded that being an author requires interaction and support by a whole host of individuals.

I may be doing the plotting and the writing, but help with research, discussions with friends and with experts about plot ideas, discussions with other writers regarding difficult scenes, readers of early drafts, readers of later drafts, beta readers, and final proofreaders (Whew—that’s a lot of people!) are important connections even for the self-published author.

Now that I’m publishing my fifth novel—the third in my Rosie Young/Vince Mendez detective thriller series—I know this journey as a writer is not a solitary one. There are those who directly helped to make this latest novel a reality, but there are also those in the past who have helped me in so many other ways—to hone my skill as a fiction writer, in supporting me as I struggled to grow into an accomplished writer, and those who have cheered me on when I was sure my plot ideas were headed toward disaster.

It truly takes a village to publish a novel: those who are directly involved with the project, but also those who have been behind the scenes in both small and large ways in the past who helped shape me as a writer so there could be five published novels with my name on them.

My latest creation is called Pink Oleander, a psychological thriller with a strong female lead, and it will debut tomorrow, January 31st. The eBook is currently available for pre-order and the paperback will also be available starting tomorrow.

The Amazon order page is HERE.

I’m excited to share the story synopsis with you and I hope you will consider giving it a read.

Homicide Detectives Rosie Young and her partner Vince Mendez must answer the ultimate questions of how and why Jack Spencer died on Valentine’s Day and learn who did it. Jack’s girlfriend, Lorri Murphy, is nowhere to be found, and this makes her a prime suspect; but a motive remains unclear, and the continued lack of evidence persists. As additional murders happen, new evidence shows that Lorri Murphy is the killer and that she kills with a unique methodology. Will they be able to stop her before she kills again?

Posted in A Murder Mystery Novel, a New Horror/Thriller Novel, A New Novel By James J. Murray, A New Psychological Thriller Release, A New Thriller Novel, About James J. Murray, About Murder, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scenes, Botanical Murder Weapons, Botanicals That Kill, Chemicals Used For Murder, Drugs For Murder Plots, James J. Murray Blog, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Book Is Published | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A New Psychological Thriller


Pre-Orders NOW available for my thriller/suspense book PINK OLEANDER, the 3rd in my Rosie Young Detective Series.

Order here:

The paperback will be available on January 31st as well!

My favorite homicide detectives, Rosie Young and her partner Vince Mendez, face their latest challenge with a female serial killer intent on murdering those she loves and others who get in her way. The adventure begins with her lethal Valentine’s Day dinner.

Homicide Detectives Rosie Young and her partner Vince Mendez must answer the ultimate questions of how and why Jack Spencer died on Valentine’s Day and to learn who did it. Jack’s girlfriend, Lorri Murphy, is nowhere to be found, and this makes her a prime suspect; but a motive remains unclear, and the continued lack of evidence persists. As additional murders happen, new evidence shows that Lorri Murphy is the killer and that she kills with a unique methodology. Will they be able to stop her before she kills again?

Posted in A Murder Mystery Novel, a New Horror/Thriller Novel, A New Psychological Thriller Release, About James J. Murray | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy New Year 2023


May 2023 be filled with

Hope, Joy, & Happiness

Wishing You Much Health and Prosperity in 2023

And may this be the BEST YEAR of your life!

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Fall – My New Beginning!

Fall has always felt like the beginning of a new year to me, and this year is no exception.

Although the calendar year officially begins anew in a little over three months (yikes), September has always felt like the beginning of a new year for me.

When I was a child, an adolescent, and then a teen, September was the beginning of my school year and a time to set new goals and priorities, and a time to settle into new routines and habits as the months moved along into late fall and then early winter.

As an adult, September seemed to be the time when I started a new job or accepted a promotion. After I became a certified running coach, fall was the time when new training programs started as the weather turned cooler.

This September, I’m again embarking on a new venture. The novel I’ve been working on—on and off again, actually—for most of the year is my fifth to be published. The initial draft is now complete, and my first editor has finished her initial review. The numerous red marks on the pages tell me that the real work is about to begin. 

Many seem to think that writing the first draft of a novel is hard work. That’s true in a sense, but the initial draft can sometimes barely resemble a finished novel. That initial draft is when the author’s thoughts—disjointed or otherwise—spin together into a workable plot. That story becomes a work of art and represents a marketable book when the author tweaks the chapters page by page, paragraph by paragraph, and line by line. 

That is the task at hand for me this fall. The working title for this novel is Pink Oleander, and it’s the third book in my Detective Rosie Young thriller series.

To celebrate my new adventure, I’m offering all four of my previously published novels at a special fall price of 99¢ for a limited time on Amazon, and all four are now available on Kindle Unlimited. 

Help me celebrate my new beginning this fall by giving one of my books a read—and a quick written review, please, if you would be so inclined.

Click HERE to view my Amazon Page with links to my books.

Posted in 99 Cents Sale, A New Novel By James J. Murray, A New Thriller Novel, A Thriller Novel, About James J. Murray, About Medications/Pharmacy, About Murder, About Writing, Blog Writers, Blogging, James J. Murray Blog, James J. Murray's ALMOST DEAD, James J. Murray's IMPERFECT MURDER Novel, James J. Murray's LETHAL MEDICINE Novel, James J. Murray's THE SERIAL CHEMIST, Jon Masters Thriller Series, Kindle Unlimited, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, Murder Mystery Book Sale, New Blog, Prescription For Murder Blog, Rosie Young Thriller Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Labor Day – All Play and No Work

Labor Day is a national holiday in the United States, and this year we celebrate it on Monday, September 6th. Although the holiday marks the official end of summer in our minds and a final chance to indulge in summer fun and sun activities, the day has historical significance and great importance.

In the late 1880s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the typical US citizen worked an average of 12-hour days seven days a week to secure a basic living. Often children as young as six toiled in mills, factories, and mines—usually earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. 

As manufacturing continued to replace agriculture as the mainstay of employment in the country, labor unions grew more prominent and vocal. They organized strikes and rallies to protest poor working conditions and inadequate pay. 

The idea of a “workingman’s holiday” began to take shape in industrial centers across the nation, with states eventually passing legislation to recognize the day as an official workers’ day off.

After Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday, President Grover Cleveland officially signed the holiday into law in 1894. As proposed, Labor Day celebrations were highlighted by parades and speeches by prominent politicians sympathetic to the cause of organized labor and to show the strength and spirit of labor organizations. 

A festival for the recreation and amusement of workers and their families usually followed the parades and became the celebratory formula for the observance of Labor Day.

Similarly, Labour Day is celebrated by our Canadian friends also on the first Monday of September, and its origins follow a comparable pattern as an original occasion to campaign for and celebrate workers’ rights with the accompanying parades and picnics organized by trade unions. It became a national holiday in Canada in 1894 as well.

Today, both citizens in the US and in Canada view Labor Day and Labour Day as the final celebrations of summer with backyard gatherings of friends and family and the last opportunity for vacations before the kids return to school and everyone prepares for the more orderly life of the approaching fall and winter seasons.

My hope, even in these trying times of a global pandemic, is that you were able to eke out a bit of frivolous summer fun in these past few months and that you have a safe and happy transition to the “normalcy” of fall and the approaching winter. 

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them! 

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My wish is for you and your family to enjoy 

this wonderful Summer holiday and to have a safe 

Fourth of July celebration experience.


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A Memorial Day Reflection

Today, we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday in the United States. 

Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, was officially proclaimed on May 5th, 1868 and first observed on May 30th of that year when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. 

This day of remembrance was set aside to commemorate those soldiers who gave their lives in the American Civil War.

There is rich history regarding how the fallen were remembered in the Union territories as compared to Confederate territories, but the common thread was that the graves of the fallen soldiers were decorated on a certain date each May and a “dinner on the ground” often followed the decoration ceremony.

By the early 20th century, Memorial Day evolved into a more general expression of remembrance of all the deceased who had served in the military, and in 1971 Memorial Day became an official federal holiday. 

We reflect on the sacrifices of military personnel and the loss to their families even as we celebrate that the price of those losses results in continued freedom and a stronger nation.

Enjoy your holiday weekend! Be Safe and Healthy and take a moment to reflect on those heroes from past wars and for those who fought a more recent heroic battle with this deadly COVID virus.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A Memorial Day Reflection, James J. Murray Blog, Memorial Day and It's Meaning, Memorial Day Flag Ceremony, New Blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dangerous Drugs of My Youth

No, this is not a tell-all about drug abuse, but a focus on how accepted medicinal practices of the past are considered so dangerous now and are no longer used. 

My parents were loving, caring adults—particularly my mother, who nursed me through measles, mumps, whooping cough, and several other childhood diseases. She was not necessarily a believer in natural remedies. She mainly relied on over-the-counter medicines that her mother used on her when she was a child.

Unfortunately, these days we know that some of those old-fashioned remedies that seemed to work so well back then were rather toxic in the broad scheme of things. 

I remember my mother giving me tincture of opium (Paregoric) that she bought at the local pharmacy to sooth my coughs and to remedy a tummy ache. She was never without a bottle in the medicine cabinet. Fortunately, she used it sparingly and didn’t turn me into an opium addict. 

Other remedies that she trusted so well contained mercury ingredients, a known toxin in today’s world and which has been removed from common over-the counter remedies that were used 50 years ago.

Whenever I had an eye irritation or a stye—a bacterial infection of the eye gland near the eyelid—my mother would use yellow mercuric oxide ointment to cure those eye infections. As an active kid, I often got dirt and stuff in my eyes while playing and sometimes ended up with minor eye infections. The treatment worked well, and in no time I was back out playing in the dirt again with friends.

Fortunately, these days there are specific antibiotic eye ointments available—prescription only in the US, however—and the only non-prescription eye ointments now contain soothing ingredients like petrolatum or glycerin. These are not anti-bacterial, however.

Also, as an active kid, I had more than my share of scrapes and cuts. My mother always had the answer by painting my injuries with either mercurochrome or Tincture of Merthiolate. Both were red alcohol-based liquids of a mercury compound. They burned something fierce with the alcohol on a fresh cut, and the red streak it left on skin assured my mother that she had completely covered the wounded skin area. Little did she realize at the time, she was giving me a nice dose of toxic mercury. 

As with the above-mentioned mercury-based eye ointments, mercurochrome and Tincture of Merthiolate are no longer on the market in their original form. Skin antiseptics named as such these days are only “in name only” products that no longer contain mercury as the antiseptic ingredient. Mostly, the active ingredient in these products now is the much safer benzalkonium chloride, and the clear liquid tincture of iodine is considered a product of choice for simple skin cuts and abrasions. 

All in all, I think I survived my early years well, even with my mother treating me with toxic products. However, I can’t be sure my love of writing about murder is not linked to those earlier chronic doses of mercury. I usually think of myself as a rational and sane person, but mercury is associated most definitely with a dangerous past.

For more about the evils of mercury poisoning, check out my previous musings on that subject in my Mad as a Hatter blog HERE.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Posted in A How To Blog on Murder Plot Ideas, A How To Blog on Murder Weapons, About James J. Murray, About Murder, Accidental Poisoning With Mercury, All About Murder, Ancient Curing Potions, Ancient Remedies Containing Mercury, Blog About Poisons in Fiction Writing, Blog Trends, Blog Writers, Blogging, Bloodless Death Scene Writing, Chemical Poisons, Chemicals Used For Murder, Contact Poisons, Developing Story Plots, Developing Storyline Ideas, Dimethylmercury Poisoning, Dimetnylmercury as a Potent Neurotoxin, Drugs For Murder Plots, Drugs Used For Murder, Ideas for Murder Scenes, James J. Murray Blog, Killing Off Characters in Writing, Killing Off Characters in Your Novel, Lethal Chemical Poisons, Mercurochrome, Mercury Poisoning From Old Remedies, Mercury Poisoning in Drugs, Murder Mayhem and Medicine, New Blog, Prescription For Murder Blog, Tincture of Merthiolate, Toxic Remedies of the Past, Yellow Mercuric Oxide Ointment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nanoparticles to Cure—And to Kill!

Medical science in the 21st century is increasingly more sophisticated and growing exponentially. One of the more fascinating areas of medical research involves the evolution of nanoparticles.

Nanoparticles are (in simple terms) small objects that behave as a unit to have common properties and to perform specific jobs. They are tiny complex particles on the scale of one billionth of a meter—mere fractions of the width of a human hair.

These particles are molecular-sized entities that can be made from almost any material: metals, plastics and a multitude of hybrid materials. The most common at present is silicon.

Because they are approximately the size of a biological molecule, they offer great potential for use in the body to cure diseases because of their ability to transport substances on their surfaces or within their structures (think sponge-like configurations) into the body.

When used for medical purposes, they enter the body most often via intravenous injections. But advanced nanos that can be administered via an oral capsule and nanoemulsions that could be used for aerosolized nasal delivery are being developed.

I’ve been thinking of a plot for my next Jon Masters thriller novel, and I think it will involve some sort of sinister use of nanoparticle technology.

In the near future, nanotechnology could advance to a point that medical science will use nanos to cure diseases. There is even a nano robot that is one nanometer in size (one billionth of a meter) and is the smallest electric motor in the world.

But, as with all technological advances, the amazing cures and enhanced qualities of life that are on the forefront of nanoparticle development could have an alternate dark side effect.

As we’re seen with powerful herbal and pharmaceutical remedies, misuse can result in lethal outcomes. As with all good things, there can also be alternate lethal applications that spring forth from creative minds.

I can already imagine what poisons and toxins could be delivered into the body via nanos, and what other lethal consequences could be achieved by ill-used nanoparticles entering the body not only by injection but also by the newer oral and nasal applications being developed.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!


Jon Masters Thrillers – Book 1 and Book 2

Both Available from Amazon HERE!


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Author Spotlight – An Interview with John Spietz

Today, I’m so pleased to share a blog interview I did recently with a friend and fellow author, John Spietz. John published his first novel last month—a time-travel sea adventure called THRILL CHASE. I’ve read it, loved it, and highly recommend it. When you click on the book link below, you can read my Amazon review. John is a fellow participant in a writing critique group. It’s called ALIR (Adult Learning In Retirement). From the first chapter he read, I knew it would be a hit and a “thrilling ride” for his readers. As he continued to bring episodes to the group sessions, what he shared continued to intrigue me. The book is a winner. It will not disappoint you.

Please give a first-time author a chance to entertain you by buying his book. Now, let’s have John talk about his novel and his journey as an author.


Tell us about yourself before we talk about your published novel.

Originally from Michigan, I have worked in 28 states and lived in ten. I transitioned from draftsman to Partner in an architectural firm, then started managing construction. I moved to San Antonio in 2004 to handle construction and remodeling contracts for the Defense Commissary Agency. 

When did you first realize that you wanted to write? What was your first attempt like? Was that attempt a novel or something shorter?

I retired in 2016. Like a lot of retires, I cast around for something to do to remain relevant. After trying this and that, I resolved to write. My first attempt was an essay entitled “The Commons: A compass for Navigating the Perils of Common Capital Management.” published in Voices de la Luna

What (in a # 1,2,3 style) gave you the confidence to write a novel?

  1. As a Construction Manager, I wrote many construction claim adjudication recommendations and felt competent to manage Microsoft Word’s technical aspects.
  2. Married to an English Literature professor for many years who taught writing, I learned what good vs poor writing practices entailed.
  3. Current writing assistant software for spellcheck, grammar, and so forth would help me with writing mechanics.
  4. A course offered by Michelle De La Garza on how to write a novel gave me a road map for putting a book together.

Tell us a bit about Thrill Chase and where it’s available.

Jason, an Alaska commercial fisherman, just returned to Sitka from crabbing in the Bering Sea. He has a pot bust hanging, his girl has left, and he needs more money. For an exorbitant sum—and the thrill—he agrees to crew on a Seattle sailing schooner without knowing where they’re going. Having invented gravity wave time travel, a high-tech Seattle billionaire transports himself, the boat, and crew to the Strait of Gibraltar in 1798. They defend against a pirate attack and aid a Boston merchantman. When a Napoleonic frigate threatens the American, they mangle her rigging with a mini-gun. Attacked again by four Moorish pirates, they blow them up with missiles to impress a becalmed British man-o’-war. After dinner aboard the Brit, a mutiny and violent storm threaten their return. To get back, they must be at a certain point at an exact time. Can they make it?

The book is available on Amazon HERE!

What was your inspiration for writing this novel?

The best advice I received is (1) write about what you know, and (2) write what you would like to read. Having lived in Southeast Alaska for 15 years, where my best friends were commercial fishermen, and having fished—although I’m only a commercial fishing dilettante—for salmon, halibut, crab, and shrimp, I know something of Alaska fishing culture. With a lifelong love of history and our maritime heritage, in particular, I feel qualified to bring these interests together in a novel.

What are three interesting facts about Thrill Chase not covered in your synopsis?

  1. My protagonist is an atheist who believes there must be evidence to support a conclusion.
  2. The pot bust in the novel is an actual case that happened in Alaska in 1973.
  3. The Muslims of 1798 used the Koran as a religious pretext for attacks on American shipping. This religious extremism does not differ from ISIS today.

How would you introduce your protagonist to your readers?

I present Jason Oliver, a typical young Alaskan who went north to the Great Land seeking adventure.

Is there a personal quirk that you’ve given to one of your characters? If so, who and why?

The Captain is fond of referring to “all kinds o’ mean, nasty, ugly things,” a quote from an old Arlo Guthrie tune called Alice’s Restaurant. I feel the underlying sarcasm reflects the Captain’s point of view.

What research did you need to do to write this book?

I did a great deal of research into the French Revolution. It was difficult to synthesize the Age of Enlightenment, the Terror, and Napoleon into the brief descriptions appropriate for a novel.

What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?

  1. Once you accept the premise of time-travel, the characters and setting must be believable.
  2. I found it challenging to keep the action going and not devolve into a history lesson.
  3. I may be too “preachy.”

What is the one thing that you wish every reader would take away from your novel?

Melanie did a song in 1970 called “Look what they’ve done to my song, Ma.” In it, she has a line, “Oh, I wish I could find a good book to live in.” I think that line captures the goal of an excellent novel. When people read for pleasure, they want to go live in this other place. Like Jim Stafford said in Wildwood Weed, You can “Take a trip and never leave the farm!”

Stalk the Author All of my author links: Goodreads, Instagram, FB Author Page, Website, etc. are available on my website:

Did any of your favorite authors influence your style of writing? If so, who and how?

Patrick O’Brian’s 20 novels around life in the Royal Navy at the time of Napoleon was my single most influential author. Mostly, I read historical nonfiction. I am fond of Al Gore, Jon Meacham, H. W. Brands, Jared Diamond, and Daniel Walker Howe. The human organization’s trajectory concerns me, but I have found no better way of anticipating the future than analyzing how we got to where we are. History does not repeat itself, but it echos.

What do you do to relax when you are not writing? Tell us about the everyday John Spietz.

I play in the San Antonio Senior Softball League, which gives me more exercise than just running off at the mouth, jumping to conclusions, or flying off the handle. I play a lot of chess and taught it at a local library before the onset of COVID-19. And I like to travel. My wife and I have planned a month in France this year.

Thanks, John, for visiting with us today. Hope you are busy writing your next thriller.

THRILL CHASE – Order it today on Amazon HERE.


Posted in A John Spietz Thriller Novel, A New Thriller Novel, A New Thriller Novel by John Spietz, A Thriller Novel, About Author John Spietz, About Writing, Chasing a Dream, Growing As A Writer, Guest Author, Guest Blogging, James J. Murray Blog, Nautical Adventure Novel, New Blog, New Book Is Published, New Book Release, New Novel Published, New Novel Release, New Publication, New Thriller, New Thriller To Download, Prescription For Murder Blog, Thrill Chase - The Novel, Time Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment