What is your writer’s Kryptonite?


During the San Diego launch of the second book in my Grievance Collectors Series, Dead Day, I met a young author, Ms. Ilse Uribe.  Ilse is a high school student and talented aspiring author who is writing a novel for her senior project. Stay tuned because Ilse will be a well-known writer one day!  In subsequent correspondence, Ilse asked me a fascinating question:  As a writer, what is your Kryptonite?

You probably remember that Kryptonite is a fictitious substance causing Superman to be weak. It is his Achilles heel, something that can reduce his ability to perform.

As a writer, my Kryptonite is balancing the chaos in my creative mind with the need to tell a coherent story.


I can see so many possibilities and love thinking about “what if? —What if my character makes this decision or interacts with this person or…”  My fascination with complicated lives and the desire to tell stories that have many layers can get unruly and spin out of control while I am writing the first drafts of my novels. I tend to have multiple sub-plots and my readers like the many twists and turns in my stories but there is a limit to how much chaos a reader can tolerate before they get confused and frustrated.

The good news is my stories do have twists and turns that create suspense and mystery. The bad news is that I sometimes have to re-think and re-write the sequence of scenes multiple times. The challenge is to get the right mix of suspense that keeps readers guessing, with enough linearity to enable the reader to keep all of the sub-plots organized until I tie up the loose ends.

The battle between clarity and creativity is my Achilles heel. Although it can frustrate me, this duality creates a fire that keeps me writing.

What is your writer’s Kryptonite?

Hollywood Book Launch


The first leg of my book tour for Dead Day begins in Hollywood!  My husband and I are avid movie viewers and when we saw the theme for Turner Classic Movies 2018 film festival was “Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen”, we knew we had to attend!  Not only will we have an opportunity to view some great films, we will also attend discussions led by screenwriters for the films, as well as directors and actors involved in some of the films.

When I write, the narrative plays like a movie in my head. Sometimes I use background music (often soundtracks from films) to inspire my writing. At times, it feels like the music combined with the words I am writing come together in ways that make the movie in my head even more powerful.

In short, I love stories. I love seeing them on the screen, I love reading them, and I love writing them. In fact, the third book in the Grievance Collectors Series is coming along nicely.

I will share pictures and stories about the festival and the book launch in the next few weeks. It will be great fun to be around so many creative people, and who knows…maybe one of them will be a screenwriter looking for a new project!!!

I’m curious, how many of you use music as a tool to inspire your creativity? What else do you do to kick-start your creative efforts?  Food, film, other????

Day of the Dead and Sugar Skulls

sugar skull

One of the things I love about the creative act of writing, is the way memories or images float into my mind and reveal themselves in ways that connect an old memory/image to a new idea. This synchronicity amazes me and is a theme that often appears in my writing. Bridget O’Leary, my protagonist, often says, “I don’t believe in coincidence,” and neither do I.

I grew up in Arizona and have  vivid memories of the day Manuela, my new friend in 6th grade, pulled 2 Sugar Skulls out of her lunchbox and handed one to me. She told me her grandma made dozens of the colorful candy skulls to decorate the altar for  Dia de los Muertos (day of the dead).  She pointed to a small crack in each of our skulls and grinned, “I got to take these two because they weren’t pretty enough for the angelito’s.”

That was my introduction to Dia de los Muertos, sugar skulls, and the tradition of celebrating a day when all deceased children (angelitos or little angels)  are reunited with their families in heaven. In some families, the name of a deceased child is written on a sugar skull.

canstockphoto8232258  While writing my book, Dead Day, I flashed on the memory of Manuela, sugar skulls, and Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos.  The result was a scene in the book with a serial killer who is taunting Dr. Bridget O’Leary by sending several sugar skulls to her office.  The pretty skulls arrive with anonymous notes threatening that others will die before Dead Day, the day at the end of a college semester when students are studying for their final exams. This ignites Bridget’s passion for protecting her college campus and she embarks on a terrifying journey to find the killer before more students are murdered.

I am fascinated by seemingly random experiences that connect past experiences with the present. I am curious, have you experienced synchronicity in your life?  Do you think it is prevalent for people who engage in creative activities? Let me know your thoughts.



The MS XIII gang and universities? Yikes!


Many years ago, I watched The Wire television series and was intrigued by a few scenes depicting the head of the gang enrolling in college to study business. I stored that interesting fact in my mind and later, when I was an administrator at a university I became aware that this “fictitious” television episode was based in fact.

In Dead Day, I wanted to explore the notion that gang members were doing business on the outskirts of the university (selling drugs), but also that they paid the tuition for one or two of their members to go to college.  Imagine this:

In my book,  the MS XIII gang enlists one of the members to enroll in college.   Why???

  • It gives him easy access to potential clients (for drugs) since many college students continue drug habits or experiment with drugs when they enter college.
  • It also gives him the ability to identify victims (college students with a lot of money or expensive computers, or jewelry).

What Is Your Opinion? canstockphoto31721685

Are administrators on college campuses prepared to handle gang activity on their campuses?  Send a post or comment and tell me what you think, or what you have observed.

If you want to learn more check out:

Strategies for handling gangs on college campuses https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/university/part-1-of-3-handling-gangs-on-college-campuses/

Or, download this article from academia.edu, What are gang member undergrads doing in our colleges and universities?


If you would like to read a fictionalized version that includes gang activity on a campus,

check out my new book, Dead Day.
Hull ebook cover jpgCollectors_Final








Dead Day



Final Examinations trigger high anxiety and stress.  Over the years, college students have created rituals to relieve this end-of-semester stress.

Dead Day is the time between the end of classes and the beginning of Final Exams. Most university campuses are “dead” during this time, to create a quiet, contemplative atmosphere conducive for final exam preparation.

The NAKED RUN is a Dead Day tradition at many universities.

  • Students at Brown University run through the library, the night before the beginning of exam period, and hand out donuts. Brown University Naked Donut Run
  • The Pundits, a group of senior students at Yale University, run through Bass Library and hand out candy.
  • Mifflin Street is the site for Penn State students to do their naked run.
  • At UC Berkeley, students run naked through Moffitt Library

The PRIMAL SCREAM is a Dead Day  tradition at  Harvard, Vassar, Smith, Michigan State University, Georgia Tech University, the Citadel, Drake University, and Sonoma State University to name a few.  


  • At Columbia University, students open their windows at midnight and scream as loudly as possible on the Sunday of finals week.
  • Students at Stanford University engage in the  “primal scream” tradition by opening the windows in their residence halls and screaming at midnight every night of dead week.
  • Midnight Madness, at Georgia Tech, includes screaming at midnight, and free donuts and energy drinks in the library.
  • At Princeton University,  the period between the end of classes and the beginning of finals is called the “Reading Period” and it lasts from the Monday after classes end to Tuesday of the following week (Dean’s Date). On the night before Dean’s Date, students gather in Holder Courtyard and scream at midnight, a tradition known as the Holder Howl.

The SHOT FAIRIES is a Dead Day  tradition at Dartmouth.

  • At Dartmouth College, the Baker-Berry Library is covertly patrolled by volunteer “shot fairies” who offer drink and good company to students preparing for final exams.

These end of semester rituals are generally harmless and become the stories passed down from each cohort of students at the university, but what if one grievance collector had a sinister plan  to change the meaning of Dead Day ?

Dead Day is the second book in the Grievance Collectors Series.

ebook cover


Monkey Business

DEAD DAY is the second book in the Grievance Collectors Mystery Series. I started writing this book in 2016. I don’t believe in coincidence, so when I realized that 2016 was the year of the monkey, I knew exactly what I had to do.

A few years before, a monkey  appeared on the university campus where I work. The university police issued a warning telling students, staff,  and faculty  not to approach the monkey since it was unknown whether the animal was dangerous. As you can imagine, there were numerous jokes, memes, and rumors about this dangerous monkey. The mix of humor and potential danger appealed to my writer’s imagination, and I knew I had to incorporate a monkey into one of my mystery novels.

Monkeys occur every 12 years in the Chinese Zodiac calendar and are associated with one of the Five Elements: Fire, Wood, Water, Gold (Metal), or Earth. Both the sign and the element of your birth year are said to affect your personality and destiny. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years.

2016 is the year of the Fire Monkey, a character who is said to be ambitious and adventurous, but also irritable.

The monkey in my Dead Day book leads Dr. Bridget O’Leary to the scene of a horrific murder.

I anticipate that Dead Day will be available on Amazon in August, but if you sign up to follow my blog, I will send you  a pre-publication peak at the first chapter in this new mystery.



People who can’t let it go: Grievance Collectors

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The Grievance Collectors mystery series explores several unique characters who become deadly grievance collectors. What motivates them? How do they develop from thinking, to acting out in revenge?

We all know people who hold grudges and repeatedly replay insults in their minds; individuals who obsess on perceived or real grievances.


The FBI calls these people “injustice collectors.” Look who is on the list!  As you can see, some grievance collectors become serial killers, and it is happening frequently enough to warrant a new FBI profile category for serial killers.

Universities are places where people think and reflect, unfortunately not all of the thinking is positive. Grievance Collectors can live anywhere but universities may provide a perfect home for them.



To be or not to be online: Views of a new author

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I am a bit schizophrenic concerning the virtue of being online as an author. I just completed my first mystery novel; created and published electronically, resulting in a print and kindle version. This experience was vastly different from two other books I published over fifteen years ago using traditional publishers. This is what I have learned.


  • You are part of a 24/7 author cafe. I like to imagine that I am sitting at a table drinking coffee in a cafe in Paris. By using social media (twitter, Pinetrist, FB, Instagram, etc.) I can connect wicanstockphoto31004877th fellow authors all over the world. These new friends inspire, motivate, teach, and nurture me and my fellow authors, as we move through the different phases of writing our novels.


  • You can redefine and banish “writer’s block.” I have a personal strategy that removes the notion of “writer’s block” from my consciousness. When I sit at the computer to write, and find myself stopping or slowing down–I open several other windows and research various aspects of my novel. For example, with just a click, I can find information on places, people, current events, and how to murder someone without being caught. These productive distractions keep me focused on the task of thinking and writing.


  • You have a buffet of canstockphoto2882699
    Personal Professors
    at your fingertips. Authors are constantly trying to perfect their craft. Through website tutorials, newsletters, blogs, and messaging, I have the ability to access a range of information and feedback. This provides the ongoing support that enhances my ability to learn about the art of writing and telling stories.


  • You are the mistress of your own product. Self-publishing has given me control over the pacing, publishing, and creative aspects of my novel. I am in charge of marketing, which has forced me to become intimate with the plethora of amazing tools available to promote my book.


This leads to some of the challenges of being an author online.

  • Learning to manage all of the bright, shiny distractions. Being connected to the world of authors, and author promoters, and readers expands my universe but it also means that every second I can be distracted by a new tweet, post, blog, etc. Learning to dedicate uninterrupted time for writing (without checking email, twitter, & FB) is essential and a discipline I am still learning.


  • The age conundrum. If you are older than 30, it is likely you have wisdom, and years of interesting experiences and stories to feed your creative muse. On the other hand, you are likely to be at the end of the licanstockphoto17004389ne when it comes to mastering the “newest” technologies that multiply like rabbits. My strategy is to have a few “young” friends, who can guide m
    e through this maze, and help me prioritize my usage of technology, while patiently assisting me in realizing my limitations. I cannot master everything, so I must make strategic decisions about the technologies that fit me, and the people that are likely to read my novel.


  • Relationship, relationship, relationship. Writing and telling stories is based on observing people and incidents, and becoming intimate with the ways humans relate to one another.   Keeping my eyes and ears open, and venturing away from my computer is just as essential as the Internet resources that are so abundant. If I am not meeting new people, experiencing new activities, and traveling to new places I am starving my muse, and I know she will wither and die. So I have learned to love this new world of exploding technological possibilities as well as to cherish living fully.



Celebrate the New Year with Dr. Stubbs


Dr. Stubbs, the famous mystery cat invites you to subscribe to Karla’s Mysteries Website. Do this before midnight, New Years Eve and you will be eligible to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

  • Go to menu in the upper right hand corner of the site.
  • Click on contact Karla, and Send your New Year’s greeting to Dr. Stubbs!
  • Once you do this, you will be subscribed to the website and get occasional updates on new posts, advanced notice about drawings, and other goodies. (you can unsubscribe at any time by sending me an email).
  • The first person who signs up will get a gift card and every fifth person who signs up will also receive a card. Share this with your friends on FB, twitter, and other social media sites.

Looking forward to connecting with you in 2016!

Holiday Treat for Mystery Lovers

canstockphoto2882699.jpgThere is nothing better than reading a great mystery novel during the holidays! The kindle version of  The Grievance Collectors: A Sip of Death is on SALE at Amazon for .99 cents  From Dec. 16-23!

You don’t have to own a kindle to take advantage of this ebook special. Download a FREE kindle app to your phone, notebook, computer or I-pad and you can read the kindle version.

Click this link for a quick 45 second video preview of The Grievance Collectors: A Sip of Death  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0rBRZgpjBc

The book is also available in paperback format.