Linda Lovely: Why A Cozy Mystery Author’s Giving Away  A FREE Writers’ Police Academy Registration 

 

I’m celebrating the June 5 release of PICKED OFF, the 2nd humorous Brie Hooker Mystery, with a drawing for a FREE Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) registration. You can enter the drawing anytime from noon (EST) May 15 to noon June 9. Rafflecopter will randomly draw the winner: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92ed2c4c1/ 

 

So why this giveaway?  I dedicated PICKED OFF to my Writers’ Police Academy “family.” Since I started attending the annual WPA six years ago, each mystery/thriller I’ve written includes insights, inspiration and information gleaned at the Academy. Though PICKED OFF is a cozy mystery, it’s no exception. The WPA inspired its exciting drone chase and other scenes. (Want to read it? Here are e-book pre-order links: https://www.henerypress.com/author-lovely-linda ) 

This August will be my sixth WPA—five as volunteer staff. The WPA is a fabulous resource for anyone who writes or reads mysteries, thrillers or suspense. It’s the WPA’s 10th anniversary and Lee Lofland has pulled out all the stops to make it the best ever. As usual, it will be held at a real, internationally-accredited police academy. Instructors are the same folks who train law enforcement and EMS pros. WPA attendees can choose from dozens of courses and High-Intensity Training (HIT) hands-on training options that offer insight into the emotions law enforcement professionals experience in stressful encounters. Emotions you can share on the page to make your characters more real. 

For example, in Shoot-Don’t-Shoot scenarios, I had to make split-second decisions on whether I should fire my gun, knowing my action or inaction could cost lives. On a mock SWAT raid to clear a building, my adrenaline pumped knowing an armed suspect could lurk behind any corner.  

I’ve asked questions of a former Secret Service agent, an undercover cop, a psychologist who’s interviewed some of the scariest serial killers ever caught, plus experts in bioterrorism, gang violence, constitutional law…and the list goes on. To see the full WPA schedule for 2018, click on this link: www.writerspoliceacademy.com  

The 2018 WPA will be held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, from August 9-12. My FREE registration prize does not include hotel or travel.


To learn more about Linda Lovely and her books, please visit her at www.lindalovely.com

What Did ‘Too Big to Fail’ Really Mean?

It meant a bunch of greedy banks did too much borrowing and had too little capital until they were all about to collapse and the government bailed them out because Congress only cares about the fat-cat friends who make campaign contributions, right?

Not quite that simple. To begin with, when is a bank not a bank?

A commercial bank is where we average people have our savings and checking and maybe get a car loan or a mortgage. The spread between what the banks pays us in interest on our accounts and what it takes in in interest from our loans is the bank’s net interest income. Deposits are insured by the FDIC and the bank is regulated by either the Office of Comptroller of the Currency or the Federal Reserve (the banks can choose). Of the ‘bailout banks,’ JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are commercial banks.

An investment bank doesn’t offer a checking account but does offer underwriting, investment products like bonds, stocks and derivatives, facilitating mergers and other corporate reorganizations, and also acting as a broker for institutional clients. Some commercial banks, such as Citibank and JPMorgan Chase, also have investment banking divisions. Investment banks are regulated by the Securities Exchange Commission, which is an enforcement agency, not a regulatory one. Of the ‘bailout banks,’ Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs were investment banks.

The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 prevented banks and depository institutions from underwriting securities, in order to safeguard customers’ deposits. But the lines blurred over the years and Congress essentially repealed this act in 1999.

A bank holding company usually own banks but doesn’t operate them, especially smaller banks. The advantage to this arrangement is increased flexibility in raising capital. These are regulated by the Fed. Of the bailouts, Citigroup is a bank holding company.

The ‘bailout bank’s group also included outliers like AIG, which as an insurance company wasn’t regulated by any financial regulator, and two clearing and settlement banks, Bank of New York Mellon and State Street Corporation. Then there was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, overseen by the Federal Housing Oversight Office, which also bought mortgages from banks, packaged them into securities and sold them to investors. The agencies made mortgages easier to get for lower-income home buyers, a goal encouraged by White Houses of both parties. However these securities were not guaranteed by the government, though everyone behaved as if they were and they were quite profitable until stock prices began to fall.

What does all this mean to us average joes? Only that there was no one government agency responsible for overseeing the maelstrom that eventually degenerated into the 2008 financial crisis. There was no one group of regulators asleep at the switch or one board of directors scheming to take over the world.

The banks weren’t too big—they were too interconnected. They had gotten too dependent on ‘overnight financing,’ short-term lending with which banks would supplement their insured deposits. When the collateral, such as subprime mortgage securities, began to wobble, everyone tried to pull their cards out before the whole house fell, and then, of course, there was no house at all. Investors shied away from any type of credit product, even credit cards and auto loans, which were perfectly stable areas. Credit is the oil that keeps the engine of an economy moving, and when banks stopped lending to anyone, even each other, the engine seized. At this point, housing prices had fallen only four percent, and yet a panic ensued that lost us 6.2 million jobs in ten months between 2008 and 2009.

Enough, you’re thinking. What has been done now to make sure this won’t happen again?

Regulation has been firmed up. Merrill Lynch was bought by Bank of America and changed from being an investment bank to strictly a wealth management firm. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley changed from being investment banks to being bank holding companies, bringing them under Fed regulation instead of SEC monitoring.

All institutions have tougher capital and liquidity requirements, meaning they have to have enough money on hand to avoid the overextensions that made them unstable. Legal tools have been established to take over and dismantle failing banks so that they neither fail nor require a bailout. Bailout loans made to the banks have been paid back with interest. (The Fed’s annual profit goes to the Treasury, where it reduces the national deficit.) Some of the ‘bailout banks’ didn’t even need the loans, but had to take them—otherwise the banks which need help would look even worse to investors.

Does this mean we’re all good and the future will always look rosy? I am not a pessimist by nature, but I wouldn’t let my guard down. The Dodd-Frank bill vs. the Choice Act battle staggers on. But remember we’ve survived the Savings & Loan crisis, junk bonds, the dot-com bubble, and now the worst financial crisis not only since the Great Depression but ever. I think we’ll continue to, even if when it comes to money, there will always be another trick up the human collective’s sleeve, another tent of cards to add to the stack.


Lisa Black has spent over twenty years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into six languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s list and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.

 

 

 

 

 

www.lisa-black.com

@LisaBlackAuthor

Erika Mailman: Before There was Crime Scene Tape … and Lizzie Borden

In 1892, the small mill town of Fall River, Massachusetts, was shaken to its core by the hatchet murders of a prominent citizen, Andrew Borden, and his wife Abby. His daughter (Abby’s stepdaughter) Lizzie Borden was accused of the murders and stood trial a year later. She was acquitted, but the intervening century and a quarter have seen many people convinced of her guilt.

If she was guilty, one of the things that helped her mightily was the way the crime scene was treated. No yellow tape protected the integrity of the scene. A photographer confronted with the body of Mrs. Borden, half hidden by the bed she crawled under to escape the hatchet, simply pulled her out and rearranged her to get a full-body image. No images were taken of the exact position in which she lay.

Curious neighbors felt free to walk through the home and view the corpses. Lizzie, her sister, her uncle, and a friend spent the next few nights in the home where they could have easily tampered with evidence or hidden a weapon better. (The bodies rested in the dining room at least one night until taken away). Officers were posted outside, but no one kept a firm eye on Lizzie. Several days after the murders, she burned one of her dresses in the kitchen stove. Whether covered in blood or not, the dress was part of an active crime scene.

In the trial transcripts, we find proof of what a circus the crime scene was. Witness Thomas Barlow testified that he and a friend went to the Borden house as soon as they’d heard about the murders. They tried to get inside, but weren’t allowed in. So instead, they went to the backyard barn. Lizzie claimed the barn loft as part of her alibi, so this again was an active part of the scene that was not protected as it should have been.

Here’s Barlow:

“Went into the barn and right up to the hayloft. Looked out the west window, then looked in under the hay, and then came downstairs and went out (he and his friend were looking for the murderer!)…Went to the south side of the house; tried to look in window. There were several people looking in the windows.”

Barlow said he stayed at the house, milling around the yard, until dinnertime. He went home to eat and returned to the Borden house, where he stood in the street until midnight.

He and his friend were only boys, which perhaps explains why they couldn’t gain admittance to the house, unlike hundreds of others who gamely tromped through the house. The Borden home is very close to the street, so undoubtedly Lizzie and other family members were well aware of the hooting townspeople clustered on the street watching and waiting for anything worth seeing.

There are so many ways in which the police department didn’t effectively secure the crime scene. An officer admitted that the attic was not searched. Other than maid Bridget Sullivan’s bedroom and another chamber, the attic was basically a wide open space filled with boxes and trunks—the perfect place to hide a weapon. Nor was the kitchen searched, nor the cupboard from which Lizzie plucked the dress she burned. It seems the “female” or “servant” areas were not considered worthy of examination.

A spool of yellow tape could’ve gone a long way for this case.


If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, Erika has several Murderer’s Maid events taking place this weekend. In particular, you might enjoy the launch at the (haunted) Pardee Home Museum, 6-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, 672 11th Street. A rare chance to tour the home after sundown, plus a slideshow of the Borden house (where Erika spent the night last year) and wine, refreshments and book signing. Ticketed event: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3101152?date=1790973


Erika Mailman

Erika Mailman is the author of The Murderer’s Maid: A Lizzie Borden Novel, as well as several other historical novels. Visit www.erikamailman.com.

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Cathy Akers-Jordan: What I Learned About My Protagonist at WPA 2017

My protagonist is former police detective turned college writing professor. (Hey, we have to have some stuff in common!) Because I share her disabling hearing loss but not her police experience, the Writer’s Police Academy is the perfect place to put myself in my character’s shoes.

I know TV is not the place to learn correct police procedure and even the best authors can make mistakes. Writers need to learn as much as they can so they write about police procedure correctly.

So what did I learn?

1. Police gear is heavy, bulky, and hot (and sometimes smelly).

Yup, it looks cool, but it’s bulky and heavy. Notice that that duty belt is mostly empty. It needs extra ammo, a night stick, extra handcuffs, extra pouches of miscellaneous stuff (like medical gloves and tourniquet), etc. These make the belt so bulky you can’t comfortably lean back in a chair or car seat – and female officers have to take the belt off to go to the bathroom. (Ask Tami Hoag about that.)

And it’s HOT. In the photo I’m comfortably dressed in shorts and t-shirt. In her patrol officer days, my protagonist would have worn long pants and a uniform shirt over that t-shirt and vest. Did I mention how hot that would be? The vest doesn’t breathe well so you sweat more. That means your t-shirt, vest, and even your uniform shirt become sweaty in no time.

Now imagine how hard it is to get in and out of a patrol car in all that gear, without snagging it on the seat belt, steering wheel, car door, etc. It impedes other movement too, like chasing bad guys and tying your shoes.

The equipment changes your stance, too. The first couple hours I wore a duty belt, I was busy trying to figure out what to do with my arms. I ended up putting my hands on my hips or resting them on the duty belt. Now I understand why some people find the cop stance threatening or intimidating.

2. But wait, there’s more!

(Photo by Angi Morgan)

In some situations, officers carry a Break Out Bag (BOB) with extra gear. That way if they’re stuck in a stand-off they have extra ammo, snacks, water, first aid stuff, cargo straps for hauling injured office to safety, and any extra equipment they might need. In this photo Matt Ninham is showing just a few things from that BOB: a mirror on a stick, a selfie stick (for looking in attics, etc.), a pry bar, first aid gear, etc. The BOB is carried on the officer’s non-weapon side. Yup, even more added weight. My protagonist definitely does her push-ups and weight lifting.

3. There’s MUCH more to training than you might think.

Need to use your night stick to get a suspect to back up? Don’t aim for the head!

(Photo by Annette Dashofy)

When searching a building for an armed suspect, can you walk quietly and safely using a roll-step? Communicate silently with your fellow officers? Go though doorways without whacking your weapon, duty belt, etc., on the doorframe? It’s a good thing my protagonist knows this stuff!

That doorframe probably has marks from my weapon and duty belt whacking it. The bad guys would definitely hear me coming.

Can you anticipate an attack?

This was an example of how fast a suspect could draw a knife and kill an armed officer.

Writers Police Academy 2017 Knife Vs. Gun

It’s one thing to read about that on The Graveyard Shift; seeing it in action is an eye-opening experience.

This was also a good example of other skills my protagonist needs, like dealing with Emotionally Disturbed Persons (EDPs) and having a basic understanding of languages used by local populations (like Spanish in Green Bay). Hmm, what language does my protagonist need to learn?

4. Practice, practice, practice.

I thought hitting a target on a shooting range meant I was a good shot. During Shoot/Don’t Shoot training I learned that hitting a moving target is NOTHING like hitting a stationary target at a range.

I also learned that If my life depended on drawing a Glock from the holster on a training duty belt, I’d probably die. Officers have to practice drawing their weapon tens of thousands of times so they can do it quickly and smoothly when their lives depend on it.

Shoot/Don’t Shoot training really gave me insight into what a shooting situation feels like. I knew it was just a training scenario and that I was completely safe but I felt my heart rate increase when the countdown started. (“Your scenario will begin in 5 seconds… 4…. 3…” Yikes!) In my second scenario I even experienced the stress-induced slow-motion effect. It was like the bad guy reaching for that revolver was moving underwater. (Too bad for him that all but one of my shots hit center mass.) I was so focused on being ready to shoot that I forgot all the other things I should have done like speak, move, and take cover. This give me a lot more to work with when I have to imagine what my protagonist is experiencing in a shooting situation.

5. So much to learn, so little time to learn it.

WPA is only four days. I’d love it if it were at least two day longer so I could take all the sessions. Here’s a smattering of what learned in the sessions I haven’t mentioned yet:

  • Handcuffing another student is much easier than handcuffing a training dummy.
  • Tasers don’t cause convulsions, drooling, or any of the other amusing affects seen on TV or in books. They do cause muscle stiffness and involuntary screaming but not permanent harm.
  • TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle. (How cool is that?!)
  • You can leave behind touch DNA (from sweat and skin cells).
  • You can leave fingerprints behind even when using latex gloves. (Who knew?!)
  • Fingerprints can be recovered from the sticky side of duct tape, even if when two sticky sides stuck to each other.
  • Bad guys are more likely to give up when they see police dogs, even when the human cops are visibly armed.

I learned so much more about procedure, mind set of cops, interview and interrogation, etc. than I could possible describe in one short blog post.

After thinking about all I learned at WPA and how little I have in common with my protagonist, I’m now working on making her a more realistic, well-developed character. It’s working, too. For the first time, I feel like my character is telling me things I need to know about her, like what her name really is (which is not the name I chose for her).  Either I’m starting to get the hang of this writer thing or I’m becoming an EDP – and I have WPA to thank for it. I can hardly wait for next year!



Cathy is a college writing instructor at the University of Michigan-Flint. In her copious spare time she’s working on her first mystery novel and enjoys attending mystery writing conferences and the WPA. She can be reached at cathyaj@icloud or cakers@umflint.edu.

Lisa Black – Cops and Reporters: Frenemies Without the "Fr" Part

Police and Reporter Relationships

Relationships between Cops and Reporters

In this hectic digital age where editors don’t have time to wait for confirmation lest another outlet beats them to the finish line of a glowing tablet screen, reporters can no longer buy the neighborhood flatfoot a cup of coffee to get the inside scoop on whether Mrs. McGillicuddy offed her old man or whether the lush really did ‘accidentally’ fall out of his bedroom window.

Now, a reporter has to hustle to keep up with the bloggers and the 24 hour cable shows, do anything he or she can to win the few moments of a customer’s attention from an overwhelming amount of other options … and nothing gets attention more than fear. Your kid’s school bus may have bad brakes, your diet soda may be poisoning you, terrorist cells are operating in nice neighborhoods just like yours, and somebody shot somebody else two blocks from where you work. So while the cops are trying to assure the locals they’re responsible for that things are fine, nothing to see so let’s move it along, the news media is trying to convince every single hard-working, tax-paying, mouse-clicking viewer that the exact opposite is true.

Venice_Police_Station,_ca.1920But it didn’t used to be that way. Back in the first half of the last century, reporters and cops had much more interactive working habits. From roughly the 1930’s to the 1950’s were the golden years of newspapers and bosses like Hearst and Pulitzer had deeper pockets than the local constabulary. Reporters were not tasked with rules of evidence and could mislead, con and flat-out impersonate in order to get witnesses to talk. They could then trade this information with the cops to get other information; thus the cops received tips they might not have otherwise. Reporters wanted a scoop and cops, especially the higher-ups, liked to strike an Elliott Ness pose in the papers.

Reporters had many advantages over the cops—they didn’t punch a time clock and could work irregular hours for a boss who wasn’t above paying a witness for their story. Afterwards they’d be happy to turn the information over to the cops, and even hold back part of it if the investigation required it—provided they eventually got to scoop their rivals. A city became a trading floor of information, with each side working the other to their advantage. There would be toes trod on and feelings of annoyance, but the next day the bell would ring and it would all begin again.

Investigative Reporting is on the Decline

When did this change? Hard to say. Rules in all lines of work have tightened, so perhaps cops are no longer so comfortable with spilling a tip over a cup of joe. Certainly the deep pockets have disappeared. Revenues from newspapers and other media plummeted over the same decades in which owners and shareholders came to expect higher profits. And as one of my reporter characters tells us, “You know what is first to get the ax? Investigative reporting.

reporterIt’s the least cost-effective type of content in any newspaper—any news outlet, period. Editors and producers can pump months of salary, overtime and expenses into a topic and then it doesn’t pan out. They never get a usable story—wasted money, in their eyes. Corporations hate to waste money that could be going into shareholder dividends instead.” The period of mutual cooperation has given way to a leaner, meaner, more desperate milieu.

And in that cauldron of pressure forensic scientist Maggie and homicide detective Jack have to solve a series of murders for which, this time, Jack is not responsible.

So far.

Lisa Black

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Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.

 

 

 

 

Unpunished

www.lisa-black.com

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Lisa Black: Vigilantes

 

Jack Renner is a vigilante, I suppose, in the strict definition of the word, but I don’t think of him like that. He is more a serial killer who believes he is working on the side of the angels, except that unlike serial killers he is not deranged and derives no pleasure from killing. He doesn’t go after those who have personally affected him and he doesn’t sneer How do you like it, punk? as he dispatches them. To him it’s purely a matter of practicality. He empathizes with his victims to a certain extent—the world is a rough place and turns innocent children into snarling brutes with regularity. So he ends their life the way a responsible farmer might regretfully shoot a rabid fox.

vigilante patch

Being a responsible author, I researched the subject of vigilantism for my book That Darkness—or at least tried to. I read books on topics ranging from the history and progression of superhero comic books to books on prison reform. I couldn’t find—anywhere–a real life example of a Paul Kersey, the character Charles Bronson famously played in the movie Death Wish. Cases such as Bernard Goetz and George Zimmerman don’t count for my purposes, since they acted only when they felt personally threatened whereas Jack Renner believes his actions are not remotely personal. Whether he’s lying to himself or not is a question for a therapist.

Thus I discovered that very little is known of vigilantes. They might be tremendously popular in fiction, but in real life they’re as rare no-calorie snacks that actually taste good. Most known ‘vigilantes’ are groups of people who monitor and prevent—Guardian Angels, Minutemen, the neighborhood watch.

guardian angels

Most people join these groups because they think it’s the right thing to do, a way to protect their own and give back to a society they value. Often they stick with these groups because they reflect their vision of manhood, the strong protector, the stoic sentry; it’s a way to feel virtuous about feeling potent. They don’t, of course, actually kill anyone. On the other hand most serial killers kill people because they think it’s jolly good fun and don’t give a damn for the betterment of society.

Vigilante films, if perhaps not actual vigilantes, came out of the 1970s when crime was skyrocketing (or at least growing—crime rates actually peaked in the ‘90s but the ‘70s retain this aura of chaotic lawlessness) and the police were seen as having been hamstrung by new civil rights laws such as the 1966 Miranda ruling. Feeling scared and frustrated are familiar themes in today’s world. Cops are frustrated because attorneys plead or dismiss cases that represent weeks or months of work. Attorneys are frustrated because juries want DNA and a confession written in blood before they’ll convict or exonerate. Citizens are because we have huge prisons but innocent people still get convicted and the guilty aren’t always caught. Lowlifes are because they keep getting picked up on the same piddling stuff while white collar criminals spend a few years in Club Fed. Kids are because they think adults should have figured all this stuff out by now and adults are because they think kids are never going to put down the PS3 and get off the couch. Everybody’s frustrated.

And out of this frustration, novels are born.

The question in my particular novel, of course, is what Jack will do when confronted by a fox who isn’t rabid? A fox like, say, forensic specialist Maggie Gardiner, a strong, smart, quite law-abiding woman who has discovered his pattern and begins to follow it, right up to his door.

Jack won’t stop…but neither will Maggie.

that darkness cover

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Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.

Literary Agent Scott Hoffman: Don’t Let A Glock Kill Your Book

When Lee asked me if I would do a guest blog entry for him and this fabulous site, I jumped at the opportunity. I figured that not only would it be a lot of fun, it would also be an opportunity to give readers a little bit of an insight into the mind of a publishing industry insider, and in the process, maybe pass along a little useful advice.

As a literary agent who represents a fair amount of both fiction and nonfiction that often deals with police procedure, crime scene investigation, and forensics—and as a reader obsessed with the genre—I often find fairly glaring errors in writers’ descriptions of the way things happen in the real world.

Here’s the question—Does it matter? Is it going to harm your chances of getting your book published if you don’t dot every “I” and cross every “T” when it comes to ensuring the accuracy of your work?

The answer: yeah, probably.

Here’s why. Publishing, to a large extent is a gigantic numbers game. Top literary agents get besieged by submissions. I would say that, on average, great agents get anywhere between 250 and 500 query letters a week. That’s a lot of letters. 500 query letters a week times four weeks in a month equals 2000 queries in a month. 2000 queries in a month times 12 months in a year equals 24,000 queries in a year.

And remember—it’s not a literary agent’s job to read query letters. An agent’s job is to sell books for his or her clients. To the extent we read query letters at all, it’s only when we have extra time, and there’s room on our client lists. Some agents like me will only sign one or two new clients a year. So when we’re looking for a needle in a haystack, we don’t have much time to spend on writers who aren’t experts in their subject.

Here’s a dirty little secret about the way I (and most of the other people in the publishing industry) read material from people we don’t have a preexisting professional relationship with, whether it’s query letters, sample chapters, or an entire manuscript from a client we’re considering taking on.

Basically, we read until we CAN stop—and then we do.

So, if your initial letter to us has a typo in the first line, that’s easy. Pass. And onto query number 12,467.

The same goes for technical details. I can’t tell you how many writers have their studly main characters using their thumb to “flip the safety off” on their Glock 17 before wasting a bad guy or “breaking open” a “Mossberg pump-action” shotgun to reload it.

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These are just the mistakes that *I* catch. I’m hardly a firearms expert; I shudder to think how many errors I *don’t* see that people who read this blog shake their heads over.

So how can you use this phenomenon to your advantage?

Well, readers of crime fiction like to feel smart. To the extent that you can debunk closely-held myths in the course of your writing, agents, editors, and ultimately readers will love it. If you can tell readers how things REALLY happen—as opposed to the way they look on TV, it will give your work a feeling of authenticity that’s often missing in crime fiction (and nonfiction.)

So—here’s my challenge to you, faithful blog readers. When you read crime fiction, what are your pet peeves? What do writers get wrong? What are the most glaring errors you’ve seen? Who are the most egregious offenders?

Scott Hoffman

FOLIO Literary Management, LLC

www.foliolit.com

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A refugee from the world of politics, Scott Hoffman is one of the founding partners of Folio Literary Management, LLC. Prior to starting Folio, Scott was at PMA Literary and Film Management, Inc.

He has served as Vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of SEARAC (the only nationwide advocacy agency for Southeast Asian-Americans), a Board Member of Fill Their Shelves, Inc. (a charitable foundation that provides books to children in sub-Saharan Africa) and a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Associates Steering Committee.

Before entering the world of publishing, he was one of the founding partners of Janus-Merritt Strategies, a Washington, DC strategic consulting firm. He holds an MBA from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, and a BA from the College of William and Mary.

*This article is a Throwback Thursday repost from 2008.

Karen Knotts: The Dad I Didn’t Know

Karen Knotts: the dad I didn't know

 

Karen Knotts went to USC where she learned her craft from Emmy Award winning director Alex Siegal. She did Equity regional theatre across the country. Roles included a prostitute in “Norman is that You?” and a prude in “Mind with the Dirty Man.” Karen’s first TV break was a miniseries starring George Peppard entitled “One of Our Own”. She played a hippy hitchhiker. The part required her to recite limmericks while “smoking pot” while holding a guitar, then throw herself through the car’s windshield. Television roles followed, in “Return to Mayberry” she played a former highschool beauty queen, and in “Vice Academy” a demented prison guard. Karen did well in sitcoms, even being directed by the colorful Carroll O’Connor. Recently, Karen starred in “An Occurrence at Black Canyon,” playing a sexually frustrated artist in 17th century France. Upcoming is Sy Rosen’s “Speed Dating.” Other fun credits are “Twinkles and Friends” (a TV pilot for kids), “Out of the Shadows” (a documentary about illiteracy) and the stage farce “Lend Me A Tenor” in which she won an ADA Actor’s award for Lonnie Chapman’s Group Rep Theatre (GRT).

The Dad I Didn’t Know

When Dad was a boy, there were hard times at home. The family was poor, his father was sick and couldn’t work, and his mother worried every week about how she was going to pay rent. But when he got to high school, everything changed. Dad’s personality which had previously been shy and withdrawn, suddenly exploded. He often said this was one of the best times of his life.

He became a very known and popular personality on campus. His humor was emerging. He ran for, and got elected to class president, and he wrote a column for the school paper called ‘Dots and Dashes by Knotts.’ It was full of fun little tidbits (and humor of course) about other students and high school happenings.

Another great thing that happened was the beginning of a deep and lasting friendship with another popular boy, Jarvey Eldred. Jarvey came from a wealthy family who lived on the ‘other’ side of the tracks. He was handsome, fun, and a great dancer. Jarvey often borrowed the family car and the guys would go out on double dates together. All the girls in their class wanted to date them.

Don and Jarvey developed a song and dance act which they performed at school functions. Later, another boy was added make it a trio, Ritchie Ferrara. Ritchie was an awesome musician, he played banjo, so now they had even more booking appeal. Both Ritchie and Jarvey were dad’s life long friends.

Years later when Dad was hot as a performer on ‘Man on the Street’ (a sketch from ‘The Steve Allen Tonight Show’), he was invited to perform in Cuba (I’m not sure what show, I think it was a variety show). He went down there and immediately got sick, among other things he had a terrible stomach ache. Everyone was afraid that he would have to cancel his appearance. He called Ritchie, who by this time was a doctor. Ritchie immediately flew down. After his examination, he privately diagnosed the case as stage fright. So he went to the store, bought groceries, came back and proceeded to cook a huge Italian spaghetti dinner.

Dad was perplexed, he couldn’t understand the treatment. Then Ritchie started telling stories and they got to laughing, piling in the food, drinking wine, and next thing you know, that stomach ache had vanished! Dad went on to perform on the show. They did things like that many times for each other over the years, and Dad regularly flew out to visit Jarvey in West Virginia. To this day Ritchie still plays a mean banjo.

*You can catch Karen this weekend at the Mayberry Days celebration in Mt. Airy, N.C. She’ll be performing her show, Tied Up In Knotts!, at the Downtown Cinema theater.

www.KarenKnotts.com

 

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Of course, we’ll always remember

Writing Secrets of a Bestselling Author: Tess Gerritsen

Writing secrets of an best selling author: Lee Child

Have you ever thought, “If I only knew the secret writing habits and rituals of the top authors then I, too, could be as successful?” Well, a while back I had the pleasure of asking a dozen top bestselling authors to share their writing tips with me. The authors were each gracious enough to do so and their answers were so doggone interesting that I thought I’d share them with you guys. So here you go, the writing secrets of your favorite authors. First up is Tess Gerritsen.

Please visit Tess at tessgerristen.com.

Mr. X: Did a Mental Illness Land Him in Federal Prison?

Mr. X is a former business professional who committed a crime that landed him in federal prison. He’s out now and has agreed to share the story of his arrest with the readers of The Graveyard Shift. You might find this tale a bit interesting.

GYS: Thanks for taking the time to share what must have been a difficult time for you and your family. I’ll dive right in. What were the circumstances that ultimately led to your arrest?

X: It’s embarrassing to have to tell it. I’ll start by saying I was ill at the time. A mental problem, I guess you’d call it. My doctor gave me all sorts of drugs that were supposed to help me, but didn’t. They just screwed up my wiring—my thought processes. Anyway, to this day I still say I would have never done anything wrong had it not been for the assortment of antidepressants and pain pills. Still, I did what I did and I accept the responsibility for it. I wish I could change it, but I can’t.

GYS: What was the crime that ultimately led to your arrest?

X: I bought some cocaine to sell. I didn’t use the stuff, I just needed money. You see, with my mind so scrambled I couldn’t hold down a job and my wife was struggling to make ends meet. The medicine and depression simply wouldn’t let me think properly. Either I’d get fired or I’d quit for some crazy, unjustified reason. All I had on my mind was the feeling those little pills offered, especially the pain pills. At the time, I think I’d have married a bottle of Hydrocodone. I loved and craved it that much. Still do, actually, and I haven’t touched the stuff in many years. But I think about it nearly every day.

GYS: How long did your life of crime last?

X: I didn’t make a very good criminal. My entire crime spree lasted about a week. I bought the cocaine to sell, but chickened out. I couldn’t sell it. But someone who was involved in the transaction was already in trouble with the police and told them about me to help themselves out of their own jam.

GYS: Tell us about the arrest.

X: As it turns out, the person who told on me was an informant for a federal task force so, needless to say, I was surprised when my house was raided by a team of FBI agents along with state and local police. There must have been fifteen or twenty officers involved in the raid of my home. All for less than $100 worth of cocaine.

GYS: Seriously, that’s all you had?

X: Yes, sir. $100 worth. A heaping tablespoon full, maybe.

GYS: What were your charges?

X: Possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) with the intent to distribute, and obstruction of justice. The obstruction charge was later dropped. I think the feds automatically add that one to make you confess.

GYS: Why do you say that about the obstruction charge?

X: Well, they threatened to arrest everyone in my family—my wife, kids, and mother—if I didn’t confess. And if I didn’t admit to the crime they’d let the obstruction charge stand, and that’s a minimum of a ten-year sentence. I had no choice. None whatsoever. Plus, they applied this pressure prior to my talking to an attorney, which I understand is perfectly legal. But let me again stress that I was indeed guilty.

GYS: So what happened next?

X: Gosh, it’s all a blur. Let’s see. I was handcuffed, placed in the back of a police car, driven to a remote jail about two hours away from my home, fingerprinted, strip searched, de-loused, and placed in a jail cell. The cell was a single cell (only one inmate) with a plastic-covered mattress atop a steel plate hanging from the wall. A former occupant had smeared feces on the block wall in several places. The toilet didn’t flush, and the door—a solid steel door—had a family of roaches living inside the hinges and other tiny crevices. They came out to explore at various times throughout the day and night. By the way, it was difficult to distinguish between night and day because there was no window and the overhead light remained on 24/7. It was a real shock to me. I’d never even had a traffic ticket.

Oh, my family had no idea where I was, or what had happened. They were away when the raid took place—at work and in school.

This, shortly after my arrest, was when I learned that I was a drug addict. Withdrawal symptoms set in not long after I was in the jail cell. The next several days were pure hell, for many reasons. I begged for someone to help with the sickness, but my pleas went unanswered.

My only contact with humans was through a small slot in the middle of a steel door. As I said, I’d begged for help but that door wasn’t opened again for three days. I did see a couple of hands twice a day when they shoved a food tray through the slot. But the person wasn’t allowed to talk to me.

Someone, a federal agent, finally came to get me on the third day. He took me to a federal courthouse for a bond hearing. My family was there but I wasn’t allowed to speak to them. I was denied bond. Why not, I don’t know. This was a first offense, and a $100 dollar offense on top of that. So I was hauled back to the jail cell.

On the ride back to the jail, shackled like Charles Manson—handcuffs, waist and leg chains—I realized just how lovely trees, flowers, and the sky really are, even though I was seeing them through a steel screen. I also realized how important my family was. I’d taken a lot of things for granted in my miserable life.

So I wound up back at the jail, which I learned also doubled as a holding facility for federal prisoners. I was there for two more weeks until my wife scraped together enough money—$25,000 (she borrowed against the house)—to retain an attorney to represent me. Federal court is really expensive. The lawyer managed to get another bond hearing and I was released on my own PR, but I wasn’t allowed to go home with my family. I had to stay with a relative in another city because the prosecutor said I was a threat to my community. For $100 worth of drugs that I never took or sold!

Anyway, I remained there until I went to court where I was found guilty and sentenced to serve nearly three years in federal prison. But that’s a story for another day.