The Graveyard Shift Blog

Since 2008, Lee Lofland has written over 2000 articles on his blog, The Graveyard Shift. Topics such as police procedure, forensics, criminal behavior, and what it’s like to be a cop has helped countless numbers of popular and aspiring writers.

His life’s mission – to remind writers that cordite is dead and gone. Just say no to cordite in your books!

Are Real-Life Detectives Inspired by Agatha Christie's Fiction?

As a police detective whose job was to solve murders, I found it especially helpful to immerse myself into the lives of the victims rather than merely going through the motions of filling in the blanks of police reports. I had to make it personal,…

Words That Take Your Breath Away

You know you have a winner when a reader says, "Wow, that book took my breath away!"The Bee Gees offered a simple solution how writers can deliver those magical stories, and the answer is so very simple. Use the right words and the magic…

OMG! Death of Person Killed By Cops Ruled a HOMICIDE!

Yeah, well, don't let those click-bait headlines get your unmentionables all bunched up, because ALL, and I repeat, ALL killings of human beings by other humans are homicides. And certain homicides are absolutely legal.That's right, L.E.G.A.L.,…

Using Words to Help Readers See What You See

For the past fews days I've been offering up the individual ingredients of a word salad. I've presented you with formal groupings of letters that, when used properly, could add a little something extra to a crime story. However, I've given you…

Crime Writers' Words of the Day: Make Your Stories Bleed Realism

When I crack the covers of a James Lee Burke novel, the words on the page begin to dance and sing. The odor of swamp water oozes out into the air. I feel the humidity and I smell the delicious odors of meat cooking on open fires. I see the mist…

Words. They're Important to Your Readers. Use Them Wisely

Words - Tools writers use to tell a tale. They're important to readers. Here are some logical groupings of letters you may find helpful when concocting a crime story.D.Degeneration - As a postmortem term it's the deterioration of a body…
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Terminology for the Savvy Crime Writer: Abrasion Collars to the Rare Cadaveric Spasm

For the day when you need just the right word to enhance a crime scene.A.Abrasion Collar - The circular pattern and charred, blackened skin surrounding the area/wound caused by a gunshot.Adhesive Lifter - Any tape-type material containing…

Shattered: Suicide by Cop

Suicide by Cop was a theory that developed after the young man whose life ended shortly after he sent several bullets flying in my direction. He'd left his hometown possibly to avoid a sexual assault trial centered around a serious crime he'd…

A Quiz: I Worked Hard For the Money ... Maybe

It was many years ago when I worked in Virginia's state prison system, back before I began my career as a certified law enforcement officer. I've done a lot of unpleasant things in my day, to make ends meet, but working in the prison was truly…
Arrest and Patrol Car

Miranda: I. Know. My. Rights!

All officers hear it, and it's most likely said many, many times each and every day all across this great land of ours.It's a phrase that's spoken by the wisest of the wise---the soothsayers of the legal world. The top legal minds of the…

When Drug Abuse Pays Off, Big Time: Federal Residential Drug Abuse Program

Before putting the real meat of this article into our pipes and smoking it, lets first examine the cases of two men who were convicted of identical crimes, Robin Peoples and Tom E. Gun.Robin Peoples was arrested after pointing a pistol at…

A Lifetime in a Tin Cup

An old tin cup sits on a shelf in my office. People who see it rarely ask about it, with most not giving it so much as a second glance.The cup, while scratched and slightly dented, still has a bit of shine left on its surface, Those thin…

Homemade Bread, and Heroin: Search Warrants and Snacks

The entry team is briefed and are in position at the front door. A second team stands ready at the back door. Other officers cover each of the windows to prevent someone from slipping away.It's an impressive sight, all those highly-trained…

New Method of Using Blood, and Lucky Charms, to Solve Crimes

To take a journey back in time to retrace the footsteps of a police officer would be much akin to cracking the covers of a multitude of books, all of various genres from humor to horror, and then to combine each of the author’s voices along…

Huck-a-Bucking for Beginners: Square-Dancing Gone Wrong

Every department has at least one officer who doesn't quite beat the same drum as the others. His, or her, rhythm is slightly off. They can't quite fit in no matter how hard they try. Sure, everyone likes this person, and they don't really do…
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Writers' Police Academy Anthology Contest - Foreword by Lee Child

The curtain rises on this collection of twisted tales, revealing the words of thriller author Lee Child. Child sets the stage for a series of mysterious and strange goings-on that occur between the hours of midnight and dawn … the graveyard…
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Top 100 Cities for Police Officers, by Sam Carson of Safety.com

Police officers put themselves in harm’s way, repeatedly, over the entire length of their careers. It’s the nature of the job. A typical day can include serving and protecting the public, dealing with civil unrest, and even having to face…
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Burn Baby, Burn: Concealing Murder with Fire

Killers, both fictional and the real-life murderers who live and walk alongside us as we carry on with our daily activities, will seemingly do anything to cover their tracks in order to avoid capture by the police. They flee the country. They…