Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday and Holy Week

Not much today. Just a reminder. Tomorrow the 99 cent sale on Amazon for Waterlilies and Arms starts at 8 am. It runs through April 6th





Today is Palm Sunday a day of anticipation of the Lord's journey into Jerusalem and the people's adulation. Just like us, love can turn to hate or apathy very quickly. One minute they love you, the next they're screaming "crucify." How many of us has had something similar happen to us? Friend one minute; enemy the next. Beloved employee one minute, out on the street the next.

During the week, the Pharisees had their eyes on Jesus as his popularity exploded onto the streets of Jerusalem. During the week, Jesus went to the Temple and furious with the sacrilege, took matters into his own hands and wrecked a large part of the temple. Overturned money changer booths, let out the sacrificial birds and so forth. You go Jesus! It would be like us setting up banks, ATM machines, bazaars and sacrifice altars in our own churches. The most we have are the occasional bazaar or fund raising yard and bake sales. (or are there churches that have ATM machines? If so, I haven't heard of any. And, as far as I know, I have seen any birds in church, either.)

But, Palm Sunday really is an amazing and beautiful service. The music and ritual is glorious. The service is a preview of all that will befall Jesus during this week. A scary and sad proposition. First betrayer, Judas and his trip to give authorities Jesus' whereabouts. Forty pieces of silver--information for money. A government informant, in the flesh. Then there were the rest of his disciples who turned tail and ran at the first sign of trouble. Have any of us done that?

Only Peter had any gumption. He cut off the ear of a servant. Poor servant. He was there minding his own business, wasn't even a soldier. Then--THEN Jesus healed him. You'd think someone would have gotten the hiint. He can perform miracles. I guess the soldiers were only doing their jobs too. God knows what would have happened to them if they'd left him alone. Anyway, it wasn't in the cards. This crucifixion was supposed to--meant to happen. The Roman soldiers--they were a brutal lot.

One thing that strikes me: How much blood seemed to be synonymous with God from the very first. The connection from Pagan ritual and sacrifices, until God took over the reins. Even Abraham thought the sacrifice of his beloved Isaac was what God wanted. Until, God intervened. Whew! The folks had sacrifice indoctrinated in them from the beginning.

Then Jesus came along. The biggest sacrifice of all.

I'm going to have to do some research on blood, and its relationship with God.

I'm just getting started with Bible study and history. Don't know much. Not proclaiming myself any kind of expert. Just wondering. And writing about my wondering.

So, don't get mad at me. At least I care.

pg






Saturday, March 28, 2015

IT'S UP! www.patriciaanneguthrie.com. A website designed for writers, authors (yes, there's a difference) readers and horse/dog people. Direct link to the blog.
How cool is that!

Still getting this marketing thing in hand. Goodreads sent me a list of readers associated with me; a link of people I should send invites to my Facebook Events.
That is the promotional: Reminder: Promotional March 30 (8 am) through April 6. Ninety nine cent sale on Amazon.com for Waterlilies Over My Grave and In the Arms of the Enemy. See synopsis and other fun facts on my website and toward the right on my blogspot.

I hope nobody takes offence by my invitations. It's expected of authors to promote their books. I'm trying. Honestly, I'm trying.

Working on the character arches for Stolen Horses; Broken Dreams and the plot timeline. Jeez the holes. Oh those plot holes. Eeew.

Cheers

Friday, March 27, 2015

Busy day in writing cottage.

Marketing is key, so I'm trying to figure out all these sites: Facebook (lose fan page everytime I try to post) 
Linked In (ouch my head hurts with all the discussions)  Twitter (HOW many characters may I have? WHERE do I get my followers?) Authors Den (HOW many readers and HOW many authors does it take to sell a book?) Shelfari (now Amazon, a changing picture) Goodreads (HOW many authors and HOW many readers? HOW do you navigate?) and, I just joined Indiewriters for small press and self-published authors, so I don't have any questions yet. 

I'm still waiting for my website to come up online. Still tweaking, but probably will do that until they lay me to rest somewhere. 

Starting Nanomowri (sure it's an anacronym for something) on April 1st. Today, I'll be doing more research. 

My research book on horse theft is: Horse Theft  Been There--Done That by Debi Metcalfe. Debi's Netposse and Stolen orse International started when Debi's horse, Idaho was stolen from his pasture in 1997. They found him again 51 weeks later. Here is what Debi said:  "The story of Idaho is more than a simple narrative of searching for a stolen animal. Idaho's disappearance tested all of us in many ways. But one thing became clear to me the day Harold and I held on to each other and wept. The thief took far more than our horse."  

A lump comes into my throat everytime I read that. So much that I've been sitting on a story for the past two years. "Stolen Horses; Broken Dreams." I start my first draft next week. Her book is a valuable resource and for all you horse owners, please buy a copy and read it. 

Two other books, more toward the technical side of writing that I am re-reading is Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (yes, THAT Donald Maass, the well-known literary agent) and thumbing through First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Wiesner. I read that before I wrote In the Arms of the Enemy.

Enough of the blogging for today. I'm off to do my research. 

Happy reading and writing and cheers. 

pg

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Success Story

REMINDER NOTE:  LSP Digital is having a 99 cent promotional sale starting March 30 (8 am) and concludes April 6th. Both "Arms" and "Waterlilies" will be on sale for all electronic readers, not just prime) members.

This is an article I wrote for "Authors' Den" published in 2008. It came on the heels of the publication of "Waterlilies Over My Grave."  Now, in 2015, I'm not sure how true this is. Maybe in terms of growth, yes, I have succeeded. Once more, I'm back in the saddle and writing again and that's a good thing.  

pg 



Success is what you want it to be. Your goals, nobody else's. 

I want to write grammatically correct sentences I work at it. I'm successful. 

I want to write a short story. I work at it. I read short stories, read craft books, write. I'm successful. 

I want to write a novel. It might take six months or a year, or two years. But once the project is completed, I've become successful. 

It's when you get into the degree of professionalism you want to obtain that the cartridge gets murky. (just made that up) Do you want to get published? you can. How? by self-publishing, by going with a small or medium press or holding out for that NY publisher in the sky. 

I chose to go with a small press that I knew (or felt in my heart) would do right by me. In that, I was successful. 

I started writing in the late 90's, but school and other responsibilities held back my writing time. Okay, my fault. I didn't HAVE to be so tired at night. I could have fought it. But it turned out to be a good thing. 

I wrote three novels. Two will stay in the bowels of my computer until earth no longer exists. The other--Legacy of Danger has undergone three transformations and the final draft will be finished in a matter of months (yeah me--success) 

(NOTE: Legacy is still waiting impatiently to become a reality. 2015)

In the Arms of the Enemy was published in 2007. I'd presented it to Harlequin at a conference in 2005 (I think) The editor loved the concept and asked me to submit a full. Yippee. You had to scrape me off the ceiling. However, after submission and a wonderful letter, I was rejected. Non-successful. 

How did I turn this into a success? 
I waited six months and took another look at the ms. By that time, I was embarrassed I'd ever submitted the blasted thing. It was full of errors. 
Could I have noticed it the first time around? No. I don't think so. Again success. I'd grown. 

No sooner than I'd finished,than I submitted the story to a new publisher who was willing and excited about taking on new unproven authors. Again, success. 

My second novel Water Lilies Over My Grave will be released in the Fall of 2008. Again success. this was another novel full of holes and technical glitches. Success. I found them. Not as many editorial mistakes as the last novel. So, the success grows stronger. 

(NOTE: Waterlilies was published in 2008 and can still be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and LSPDigital.com) 

I think success comes in degrees. My success came because I wanted to be better than capable of writing a novel or short story. I wanted it to be a novel people would be eager to read. 

Hopefully, in that I have been successful. 

Only a supportive fan/reader base will determine that. 

Patricia A. Guthrie author of 
In the Arms of the Enemy 2007 
Water Lilies Over My Grave Fall 2008

Monday, March 23, 2015

Horses, Our Teachers by Julie Williams

I was interesting in Julie's approach to writing and blogging. She gave me permission to use this post. 

Your welcome to use this one:
"To the lady worrying about the decisions for her horse as it reaches old age and infirmity...

Our horses are our teachers. They teach us how to take hold, how to let go, how to be brave, how to cry, how to live and how to die. We are so afraid to feel the pain, yet they are there to teach us how to do that too. They teach us things we never will forget. No, we are not the same after loss. Many times we discover that we cannot embrace new loves with the same old wild abandon as before. Perhaps we merely love more realistically. Loving hurts because it takes us into the depths of life's journey. But, such is the journey in life, and you won't let the mare down. You will love, let her go when it is time, and allow her memory to guide you with the youngsters. Yes, loving hurts--because it takes us into the depths of life's journey, but it is worth it."
                                                       (c) Julie Williams

http://meditationsonhorseback.blogspot.com/




This week

This week is a mess.

Started out snowing, always a bad sign at the end of March. But, it's giving me an opportunity to sit here at my computer and work. As I've sworn to market-market-market, I'm researching sites, putting up my books and their synopsis, checking out a few contests and continuing re-working my new website. 

Reworking a website: First off, you have to make sure you haven't lost the original website in your computer-held site builder. Believe me, I know that first hand. I thought I'd lost it. Gag. I'm working on www.wix.com, and it seems easier than the Yahoo Sitebuilder I've had forever. The changes are difficult, because the paragraphing jumbles when the article transfers from one site to the other. 

I'm trying to build a fan page on Facebook and am not at all sure I know how to do it. But I will try. Yes I will. 

I'm also adding on my books to IDPA on Facebook, Shelfari, Goodreads, checking out the Amazon Professional Page, oh yes, and sending in Dixie's American Paint Horse Association papers.

Don't forget:  March 30th starts our 99 cent book sale on Amazon, 8:00 am sharp. It will run through April 6th. Both "Waterlilies Over My Grave" and "In the Arms of the Enemy" will be on the promotional sale. If you buy one or both, I do hope you'll write a review on Amazon for me. (all authors hope their readers will do this. It helps to promote, encourage and showcase the books and adds to the author's overall ratings.)

See synopsis on the right side of this blog.

okay, back to the nitty gritty of marketing.

Have a good one and stay warm.

pg


Saturday, March 21, 2015

This came in an email from marketing guru John Kremer. I've picked up many marketing tips from his website. I thought I'd share with you and then share his link. 

JohnKremer@BookMarket.com writes:
Video and Mobile: 2015’s Hot Marketing Tools
While video has been hot for over 10 years, it will only be getting hotter this year, especially on mobile. And, if your website isn’t mobile friendly, you will lose visitors and sales. And, finally, if you aren’t using other mobile tools (apps, push notifications, etc.), you will be missing a lot of new opportunities. Yup, it’s the year of mobile and video in marketing!
Here are a few signs of this new year of mobile and video:
Twitter, the network of 140-character posts, is promoting video in a big way. At the end of 2014, they bought video ad network LiveRail as well as the SnappyTV video player. Twitter’s native video allows users to shoot and upload new videos directly via Twitter. And, of course, Twitter still has the six-second video app Vine.
Socialbakers, an analytics firm which tracks brands posting videos on Twitter, found that 82% of brands still share YouTube videos on Twitter while 16% use the native Twitter video app or Vines. But, and this is what is important to you, 70% of video retweets and favorites are Vine videos (not YouTube videos).
With the ease of taking photos and videos with smartphones, most websites are focusing more on images and videos and less on text.
As for mobile, the key tech isn’t apps. It’s push notifications, which have higher opt-in rates, lower price points, and more sophisticated analytics than email or SMS text.
The average smartphone user checks her smartphone 150 times per day.
More than one billion new smartphone users will come online in the next few years. That means the vast majority of people in the world will access the Internet via smartphones. Not computers. Not tablets. But smartphones.
Will you and your web presence be ready?

To unsubscribe or change subscriber options visit:
http://BookMarket.Checkout-Secured.com/cart/Unsubscribe?ar=Ca85b9583bc64f4ce838b6e5846f910fb25f075cd8ae429db47ceedcddc35808b4z

Don't forget, LSP Digital.com is holding a 99 cent promotional on our books. Waterlilies Over My Grave and In the Arms of the Enemy can be obtained on electronic devices for that low price from March 30 (8 am) until April 6th. If you haven't purchased one of our books, these might be a fun, entertaining read with many opportunities to learn about human nature.

Also: On April 8th Marilyn Meredith will be on her blog tour and will be at The Cottage of Blog. She's a wealth of information on writing skills.

During the month of April, I'll be at the Nanomowri Writing Camp, working on the first draft of "Stolen Horses; Broken Dreams." Hope to still be able to blog, though. (and keep up with everything else, sigh)

Have a great day. Readers--read. Writers--read and write.

pg

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Writing: Echos (echos) (echos) (echos)

I'm updating my website and included in my "about us" section, I mention Legacy being the catalyst of two published novels and a third about to be written. Thought I'd update you. Main characters: Elena, Alex, Mikhail, Tony. The blurb:  Girl inherits a castle inhabited (infested would be better) with terrorist/drug dealers.

Close to the end, I'm to the point where Elena has been kidnapped and is trapped inside her castle. When she escapes (if she escapes) I'll have her tell you the story about how she managed and the help she got along the way.

I've been working on this novel for years. I mean years before Waterlilies Over My Grave and In the Arms of the Enemy were even a glint in my eye. It came shortly after Matt's Murder, which still hasn't seen the light of day. That's another novel I believe will need major-MAJOR changes. It might exist to serve me as a reminder of where I came from and how far I've come. Maybe. I think the next work will be my stolen horse story.


 NOW FOR MAIN TOPIC OF THE DAY: WRITING:

Let's talk about ECHOES. My critique partner, Neva Franks, is a freak about echos. That's a GOOD THING. I have a LOT of them. What are echos? Echos are when you use the same word many times in a short space of writing. Same paragraph, scene, chapter. Mostly in the same few paragraphs. We have to find synonyms that fit. Be careful though. Some synonyms in your friend thesaurus may not mean what you want to convey.

WORDS TO USE MINIMALLY:

There are a few words that the "experts" say you should have a minimum of in your work: They are (in no particular order) that, there, is, was, were, am, are, be, had, has, as, there, it, could, heard and hear, just, then, really (and ly words in general) ing words in general, feel, feeling felt, knew, Know, think and thought, see, saw thought, so, very, taste, smell. Sandy Nachlinger (see comments) added a few more: should, would, seemed to, almost, nearly, began to (my writing teacher called these "weasel words"); because, of course, in fact ("explaining words").

SHOW DON'T TELL:

There's an old (old, old saying) in modern fiction "show don't tell") words like feel think saw taste and smell TELL you something, but they don't SHOW you much. I felt like he was going to leave me. vs. He came in with his bride wearing the ring promised to me. More words but it tells you everything. Not just like I felt he was going to leave. She KNOWS he's going to leave. In MY opinion, you need a smattering of both. Maybe like, I'd felt all morning he was going to leave, then I saw her. She wore the engagement ring he we picked out together.

Try to avoid passivees.

For example, in the passive sentence "Alex was knocked down", Alex is the subject but the sentence doesn't see him as the prominent figure where he has control and you don't know who does. The sentence "Elena knocked Alex down" is an active sentence putting Elena in the major role and it's to the point. (You can tell, I'm mad at my character Alex in "Legacy." He deserves to be knocked down by Elena.

So that's my blog for today. Spring forward (last night) We lost an hour. Onward with Legacy. WRITING TECHNIQUES LEARNED ALONG THE WAY FROM FAR BETTER WRITERS THAN ME.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Benefits and Consequences of Reviews

II thought it about time I brought out this article on reviews by Micki Peluso. Excellent information she gave in the Chapter One Workshop about the benefits and consequences of reviews. 

THE PURPOSE AND CONSEQUENCES OF REVIEWS BY Micki Peluso

I

"I began to write as a catharsis to grief after the vehicular homicide of my teenage daughter by adrunk driver.This lead to a short story of the killing in Victimology: an International magazine and a career in journalism freelancing forthree major newspapers as well as magazines and on-line e-zines and contests. This culminated in the writing of . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, a funny, sad, poignant family memoir of love, love and survival."  Micki Peluso


The Purpose For and Consequences of Reviews

                                       By Micki Peluso 


The Purpose For and Consequences of Reviews
Book reviews definitely help sell books, but like books they must be seen to accomplish this. Tonight we’ll discuss different types of reviews, and reviewers; how they can help authors sell books reviews, and how reviewers can sell their own books as well.
You may be aware the reviewers aren’t allowed to accept money for reviews unless the author goes to a review site that pays their reviewers. I've never understood this since a well done review is a piece of art, follows a precise formula and requires a great deal of time in both writing and posting in various book sites like Amazon and Facebook, Twitter Goodreads, etc.
Non-professional reviews are more like customer/reader comments as on Amazon and needed by authors. They are usually more emotional — “I stayed up all night, laughing and crying over this book."  Potential buyers are reached on an emotional level by this type of review.
The professional reviews vary. I was taught by the New York Journal of Books to never put “I" in a review, stay in present tense, give a summary of the book, opinions on the skill or lack of the author, add a hook regarding the ending, and sometimes cite other works by the author.
This type review is written in an essay- like form and reads like a professional piece of writing. It's essential to have this type for press releases, book signings and in all forms of marketing. Not all so-called review sites write good reviews. I recently read an appallingly bad By Midwest Review which has a good reputation. It wasn’t my book. J
One of the authors I reviewed regretted paying $400 for a Kirkus review when mine was much better and free. That made me feel better about not spending money on Kirkus for my own review.
I begin writing reviews because I was running out of money buying print books. When I put ‘Reviewer’ as one of my professions on Linked-In, it snowballed and for the past several years I've been so swamped with review requests that I can't get to my own second book.
The upside is that most people I review for end up buying my book and then reviewing it. About one third of my book sales come this way, and I feel it's an honor.
Lately I've read and heard of nasty tactics among reviewers, especially in Good reads, Shelfari, and Amazon. Reviewers (non-professionals) are sniping at each other by giving a bad review to any reviewer who gave them one. This is tacky. If you get a bad review, ignore it and move on. A review, like a bad movie, often draws people to read the book to see why it was so terrible.
The easiest way to write a review is to take notes as you read the book so you get names/places spelled right. At the end of the book the review is ready to edit and post. This does take some pleasure from reading.
Some reviewers won’t give more than three or four stars because “no book is perfect." I don't think a book needs to be perfect to get a high ranking if it was a good read and fairly well written. Amazon’s star rankings benefit Amazon more than the author. Writers with a ton of five stars usually sell no better than writers with less.

Micki Peluso

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Five inch snowfall and DixieCups

Add element



That's my Dixie (Mac's Last Gem). Reminders of the beginning of winter when Christmas was in the air and of the first lovely snowfall.  Now, the snowfall is no longer so lovely. 

Also, trying to get my voice back. It left somewhere during November, flem coated my vocal cords and stayed there determined to make a permanent home. Squatters rights, I think. I'm doing my best to evict the scoundrels. (or would that be scoundrel?) 

Today I'm learning more about photography and the touch-up. 

Cheers. 

pg 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Promotional for "In the Arms of the Enemy" and "Waterlilies Over My Grave"

Slight glitch. 

The promotional dates for my books were posted incorrectly.  The February dates of 22nd through 28th are for the United Kingdom. (You lucky Englanders)

The promotional dates for the United States are from March 30 through the first week of April. 

I'll be sending out a heads up a few days before the event. 

Happy reading. 

Pat


Add element

Amazon is holding a 99 cent promotional sale of my novels: "In the Arms of the Enemy" and "Waterlilies Over My Grave" through Feb 28th.  If you haven't read these two books (see right side of blog  for synopsis) Feb is a GREAT MONTH to enjoy them.

www.amazon.com  check either under my name, Patricia A. Guthrie, or go directly to the books by title.

I hope you will read them and leave a review.

Happy reading.

Pat

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

From Chapter 34 of "Proof of Heaven"

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.

A quote by Albert Einstein

How thought provoking is that!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Proof of Heaven by Even Alexander, M.D.

What I'm currently reading:

Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife. I'll put up a review after I've finished.
So far, it's amazing.

pg

Quotation from Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other
is to refuse to believe what is true.

No truer words were ever spoken. I can't believe he died so young?

pg

Friday, February 13, 2015

How Do I Love Thee? The Origin of St. Valentine's Day



How Do I Love Thee?
By Micki Peluso

This is an article on the origin of St. Valentine's Day


February 14th sometimes signifies the first day of Lent, depending upon the date of Easter, and is also Admission Day in Arizona. Most people however, celebrate the day by sending comic or heartfelt Valentines to family, friends and lovers. People seem to delight in St. Valentine’s Day, as florists, candy stores, boutiques and card shops do a rallying business providing heart-shaped novelties of all variety. Chocolate, long known for having properties that produce a euphoric feeling similar to the bittersweet emotion of love, seems an appropriate gift for St. Valentine’s Day.

The origin of the holiday is uncertain, but St. Valentine actually honors two Saints of the same name. One was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, the other, a martyred Bishop of Interramna. They were both buried in the Flaminian Way, which was later named the Gate of St. Valentine. Today the gate is known as Porta Del Popolo — the Gate of the People. The accounts of these men's lives are legendary, based on sparse historical fact. It is possible, researchers agree, that the legends denote different versions of the martyrdom of only one person. St. Valentine’s Day, as it is known today, is a lovers Festival, bearing no relation to these legends.

One theory as to how the name Valentine came to be applied to the day is founded on the belief in England that birds begin dating on February 14. Chaucer, in his “Parliament of Foules," says it like this: “for this was Seynt Valentyne’s day. When every foul cometh to choose his mate." Those disagreeing with this claimed that the connection between lovers and St. Valentine stems from a similarity between the Norman word “galantin," meaning a lover of woman, and the name of the saint. St. Still another theory contends that the lover’s custom dates back to the pagan Roman feast of Lupercalia occurring in mid-February young Roman men and women placed their names in a love urn from which their names were drawn at random. During the upcoming year, the young man would be the escorts of the women whose names were matched to their own.

The Christian clergy objected to this pagan custom and substituted the names of saints. Each person, the clergy hoped, which strive to emulate the saint drawn for them. The drawings were held on February 14, the feast of St. Valentine. Yet the drawing of names by young people on St. Valentine's Day continued long after the Christianization of pagan rites had been abandoned. The boy and girl paired by the drawing adopted the practice of giving presents to each other. Later the boy only gave to the girl; so started the custom of sending Valentines to loved ones.

St. Valentine's Day was widely celebrated in William Shakespeare's time, as this quote from Hamlet illustrates:

“Good morrow, ‘tis St. Valentine's Day,
All in the morning betime,
And I am made at your window,
To be your Valentine."

Paper Valentines with inscribed sentiments date from the 16th century. The first printed Valentine, issued in 1669, was probably inspired by “A Valentine Writer”, a book of verses offering help to those not articulate enough to pen their own rhymes. In England, the introduction of Penny postage and envelopes in 1840 popularized the exchange of Valentines and ornamental lace paper Valentines were in great demand. In the U. S., crude woodcut Valentines were fashioned by Robert H. Elton and Thomas W. Strong of New York, but most people preferred the lace paper cards imported from England.

With the establishment of the Post Office, the mail became swamped with Valentines each February. Comic Valentines, as well as coarse vulgar ones, cost only one cent. In the early 1900s, the Chicago post office rejected 25,000 cards on the grounds that they were improper for mail delivery. By the 1930s Valentine cards were primarily an activity for small children, who were taught to make the cards and decorations in kindergarten.

On one particularly gruesome Valentine's Day, the streets ran red with blood and the message given was not one of love. This notorious incident was “The St. Valentines Massacre," in Chicago on February 14, 1929. Al Capone’s gang, disguised as policemen, forced seven members of the rival “Bugs Moran” gang to stand against the garage wall with their arms raised. Capone’s mobsters methodically gunned the rival gang down.

In recent years, St. Valentine's Day continues to gain popularity, as lovers and children eagerly await its arrival; perhaps because it breaks the monotony of the long winter. However, not all people recognize the holiday. One husband whose name I will not mention, chooses to totally ignore St. Valentine's Day, even when it falls three days after his wedding anniversary — but that's another story.

Posted by Micki Peluso is the author of "And the Whippoorwill Sang" at 7:36 PM 4 comments:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Crime Scene Investigation by Ayn Amorelli


Our Chapter One (Writer's Oasis) writing group (Monday nights at 8:00 pm CST) on AOL, invited guest mystery writer and published author Ayn Amorelli to speak on the ins-and outs of Crime Scene Investigation. Being a Criminal Minds junkie and a writer of romantic suspense/mystery novels, I was fascinated by the topic. I think you might be too. Enjoy your journey through the crime scene.


CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

By Ayn Amorelli

Ayn Amorelli starts by telling us that all jurisdictions are different, but with minor variations, the following occurs:

Dispatch-- They get the call first. Someone suspects a crime has been committed, and they call 911. Dispatch calls out: the Patrol Division. These are the uniformed cops. They go to the location in which a crime has allegedly occurred and discover if a crime in fact has been committed. They then ask Dispatch to send out whoever they need (EMTs, etc.) The officers make their initial report, and ascertain if a criminal is still on the scene and arrest the suspect. They also interview witnesses and keep the crime scene from contamination.

Detectives: Next to arrive are the Detectives. They go to the scenes of major crimes like homicides. They usually do a walk through exam first, following the trail of the crime (like blood and overturned furniture), formulating how the crime occurred and a possible motive. Detectives take detailed notes, search for clues and ask questions.

(Professional forensic photographers specialized in their field , take photos (stills as well as videos) including pictures of the corpse before it is moved. Photographs help imprint the evidence in a room such as blood stains, which will be removed, placement of furniture and the relation of evidence to other objects in the room. These images are important to investigators long after the crime scene is gone and can be brought up as evidence in a trial.).

Technicians: Then come the CSI techs. They collect the evidence, get it ready to perform lab tests and maintain the claim of evidence to keep it secure until such time as needed.

EMT, Coroners or Medical Examiner: Next come the EMTS (emergency medical technicians) who treat wounded victims, or coroner or medical examiner to examine the dead. The Coroner or Medical Examiner examines the body and offers a suggestion as to time of death based on Rigor Mortis. If the particular jurisdiction uses a coroner, be aware that he is appointed or elected and does not need to have any medical qualifications. But a Medical Examiner is most often appointed and is often a board certified pathologist. They go out to the scene always.

Also, Corpus Delecti is the Body of Evidence not the corpse.

If the suspect is long gone, sometimes K-9 unit (the dogs) are dispatched to search for the suspect.

Search Warrant: In order to search locations, police must get a search warrant. This is an affidavit from a judge to police only. No PIs or amateur detectives can get them. Only certified cops. This affidavit requests the right to search a location and lists items or events the police think they may find to give them probable cause to make an arrest. They can't get a search warrant without probable cause. On an interesting note, a separate search warrant must be issued for searching a person's car.

When do you need a search warrant to examine the crime scene? The cops need one if the person in control of the location (not necessarily the owner) is unwilling to allow police to sign a Consent-to-Search form.

Another interesting tidbit: Officers don't have to restore a messed up location after they have searched.

If the space is rented, the renter, not the owner, is the person who must consent. In the case of a married couple, the wife may not let the cops search her husband's den, and the husband cannot give the cops permission to search his wife's Sewing Room, for example.

The Body of Evidence consists of: fingerprints, fibers at the scene, blood, gunshot residue, any footprints, tire tracks left at the scene as well as gunshot casings or anything unusual left there.

For fingerprints, AFIS is the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is used nationwide and contains finger prints of most criminals in all jurisdictions. It speeds up arrests and convictions of known felons. But sometimes fingerprints coming into AFIS are slow, as they are imputed by local jurisdictions who do not have the necessary manpower.

There are 3 types of fingerprints CSIs look for: loops, whole and arches. Five percent of fingerprints are arches, 35% are shorts and 60% are loops. Most used Fingers: For robberies and burglaries, the most used fingers are the middle and index fingers of the right hand, so they look for those prints especially, as they will tell them if the culprit was left or right handed. As will the thumb. That will also tell if the culprit was left or right handed.

(Note: Finger prints are still in use, but DNA is now used by law enforcement for identification purposes. They can find DNA even on lipstick stains on a coffee cup. DNA not only has convicted many a criminal, where their fingerprints weren't available, but has proven many death row inmates innocent of the crimes of which they're charge. That's a whole topic unto itself.)

Chain of custody: Basically it is a paper trail verifying the evidence was not contaminated. Chain of custody is always maintained by the detectives.

So, ended the basic presentation. On to questions and comments .

I asked: The detectives don't need a search warrant to investigate the crime scene, do they? Ayn answered, “If no one at the scene signs a Consent to Search form, the detectives do need a search warrant.” This is something I didn’t know. I thought detectives could investigate a crime scene unimpeded at the time of the crime scene investigation.

Ayn said, “Readers of mysteries are a knowledgeable group. They want their stories realistic, and will often write in correcting the publisher if the information is incorrect. (don’t I know that? Whew!) Yes, mystery readers are a knowledgeable group.

Other tidbits: Never let anyone move the body before the detectives have seen it.

CSIs (crime scene investigators) are only responsible for collecting evidence at the scene, and then taking it back to the labs, following the Chain of Custody. Keep in mind, a Coroner could mess up by citing medical facts, when in fact, he's not a medical doctor. They don't have to be a doctor. However, today, in most jurisdictions, most communities want someone with medical qualifications.

What does CSI stand for? Test for all you CSI fans. Crime Scene Investigators.

Ayn pointed out that today, everything has to be done by the Rule Book. The government maintains standards… a set of rules that are expected. They are covered in the police’s basic training. All cops and detectives have to go through the Police Academy where they learn the rules to follow.

Something else important for writers to know: Cops can't prevent crime. They can only do something after a crime has been committed.

ShirleyMFlanagan asked a pertinent writing question: “How much of this information is needed in a novel?”

Ayn answered: “All of it Shirley, depending on how detailed you want to get… I probably need to do a talk about what they learn at the Police Academy.”

The group agreed that a police academy discussion would be helpful, Ayn agreed and will be back on March 16th at 8:00 CST on AOL Chapter One, “Writer’s Oasis,” for those serious folk who want to attend. Come with questions.

I’m looking forward to her presentation.

Ayn Hunt who also writes under Ayn Amorelli is a Texan who has wanted to be a published writer ever since she can remember. She started out in journalism eons ago with her internship at the Galveston Daily News, then branched out into freelancing, finally working up her courage to tackle writing novels. She is currently hard at work on her fifth book, in the young adult category. She can usually be found on Monday nights online at AOL's Chapter One, where, along with Shirley Flanagan, she gives a talk once a month about writing. Her published books include: Unwilling Killers, Obsessed, The Haunting and Contract Bride. With the exception of Obsessed, all her books are available at Amazon.com.

Ayns website: www.AuthorsDen.com/aynhunt

Sites associated with Chapter One's "Writer’s Oasis": https://www.facebook.com/groups/552257888148524/#!/groups/552257888148524/
https://sites.google.com/site/writersoasis1/