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Friday, October 31, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Meth Cook's Dog Helps Cops

     Edwin Henderson ran from officers with the Prattville, Alabama police who were serving a drug search warrant on October 29, 2014. The suspected meth manufacturer jumped into a ravine behind his house and was followed by his dog, Bo and two Prattville Drug Enforcement Unit investigators.

     Bo found Henderson lying in tall grass. He was arrested when the officers saw the dog had stopped to wag his tail. Henderson has been charged with failure to obey police, manufacturing a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

"Dog Helps Alabama Police Arrest Owner During Chase," Associated Press, October 30, 2014 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Who Killed Five Members of the Strack Family?

     Benjamin Strack, his wife Kristi, and their children resided in a duplex in Springville, Utah, a town of 30,000 45 miles south of Salt Lake City not far from Provo. Just before eight o'clock on the night of Saturday September 27, 2014, the oldest Strack child, accompanied by his grandparents, approached the Strack half of the duplex to check on the family. Mr. and Mrs. Strack and three of their children had not responded to emails, text messages or phone calls.

     The grandparents and the oldest child entered the house through the front door that stood wide open. (The back door was cracked open.) In the master bedroom they discovered Mr. and Mrs. Strack and the three children. The 36-year-old parents and the children--Benson, 14; Emery, 12; and Zion, 11--were dead. 

     Police officers at the scene noted that none of the bodies showed signs of physical trauma. Moreover, there was no evidence of a struggle and nothing had been taken from the house. 

     Firefighters tested the air inside the dwelling and did not detect traces of carbon monoxide. The fact that pets in the house were alive and the other residents of duplex were unharmed, pointed away from death by carbon monoxide poisoning. 

     Following the five autopsies, the medical examiner announced that none of the Stracks had been subjected to violent assault. The cause and manner of these deaths remained undetermined pending the results of toxicological tests. A police spokes person told reporters that foul play had not been ruled out in this case. The medical examiner did not reveal when the Stracks had died. 

    On October 28, 2014, reporters learned that investigators believe that the children and their parents had been poisoned to death on September 27, 2014. According to detectives, the children's bodies had been positioned in their parents' bedroom after their deaths. The bodies of Benjamin and Kristi and their children were each lying next to a cup of red liquid. Kristi Stack had red liquid coming out of her mouth.

     From the house, investigators had removed 14 drinking cups and bottles, a pitcher of red juice, and a purple bucket containing yellow liquid. Searchers also seized a pair of slippers that contained a drop of blood and a towel stained by a red substance. Detectives, in the family's garbage, found empty methadone bottles, 10 empty boxes of nighttime cold medicine, various pill bottles, several empty boxes of sleeping aids, a bag of marijuana, and Pepsi cups containing traces of a red liquid.

     At this point the authorities aren't revealing who they think poisoned the family. The obvious conclusion, based on the physical evidence, is mass murder-suicide orchestrated by the parents. The big mystery is why. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Lured Boys By Posing as Woman on Craigslist

     A Tustin, California man arrested for allegedly posting an ad on Craigslist in which he attempted to lure teenage boys by pretending to be a woman was released from jail on October 18, 2014…Sherwin Ngo, 34, posted bond a day after he was arrested by Irvine police…

     The mother of one of the alleged victims, a 15-year-old boy, found explicit emails on her son's computer…A 16-year-old from Mission Viejo has been identified as a second victim…

     Irvine police arrested Ngo on suspicion of committing a lewd act on one of the teens and an attempted lewd act on the other. Detectives suspect there may be additional victims based on emails seized during a search of Ngo's online accounts.

Scott Glover, "Irvine Police Say Man Posed as Woman on Craigslist to Lure Teen Boys," L.A. Now, October 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Rape Fugitive Caught

     Accused child rapist Gregory Lewis, the subject of a multi-state manhunt, was arrested on October 28, 2014 in upstate New York after fleeing from the police then crashing his vehicle into a river…Police said a New York Police trooper attempted to pull over Lewis' vehicle because it was missing a license plate. Lewis fled from the trooper and drove into Fort Edward Village…The trooper and Fort Edward Village police began searching for Lewis. A short time later a 911 call came in indicating that a vehicle had crashed into a river.

     Lewis was taken into custody at the scene of the crash. At that time the arresting officers recovered a handgun from the fugitive.

     Lewis had cut off a court-ordered ankle bracelet and fled Massachusetts after his September 2014 arraignment on two counts of statutory rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14. He is accused of going on a multi-state crime spree in the weeks since that included alleged sexual assaults, kidnappings, and robberies.

"Fugitive Captured: Southbridge Man Accused of Child Rape Caught in New York," October 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: Setting Up Traps For Your Protagonist

If you're writing a novel where you are not springing an actual physical trap on your protagonist, think about other less dangerous entrapments. They can be benign, like staging a surprise party for a notoriously shy protagonist; sending a character who is inappropriately dressed to a fancy party or dangerously cold environment; or sending him into a room where another character is fuming with anger. Or it can be a situation in which an antagonist wrests information, a promise, or a concession from your protagonist, who gives in against his better judgement.

Jessica Page Morrell, Between the Lines, 2006 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Lewd in LA

     "Django Unchanged" actress Daniele Watts and her boyfriend have been charged with one count each of lewd conduct…If found guilty, both Watts and her boyfriend, Brian James Lucas, could face a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

     The charges stem from an incident that took place in September 2014 outside CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California. Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department received calls that the couple was having sex in a parked car. The African-American actress and her white boyfriend accused police of racism for questioning them in what they said was only a public display of affection.

     Watts, a native of Atlanta, made her feature film debut in 2012 as Coco in the Oscar-nominated "Django Unchained."

"Actress, Boyfriend Charged With Lewd Conduct," CNN, October 22, 2014 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writing Quote: The Work Habits of One Of America's Worst Writers

Before the days of word processing, how did authors keep track of their various drafts and revisions? Purple prose writer Jacqueline Susann [Valley of the Dolls, 1966; The Love Machine, 1969; and Once Is Not Enough, 1773] typed each draft on different colors of paper: yellow for the first draft, then blue, pink, and finally white. [It's hard to believe she wrote four drafts of these dreadful novels.]

Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo, It Takes a Certain Type To Be A Writer, 2003

Criminal Justice Quote: Big Drug Bust at John Wayne Airport

     Federal agents conducted a major drug arrest at a southern California airport that netted thousands of ecstasy pills…On October 9, 2014, Krista Marieann Boseley, 30, and Gilles Lapointe, 61, were arrested upon landing at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. A consensual search of their aircraft led to drug dogs discovering 50,000 ecstasy pills and 90 pounds of raw MDMA, also known as "molly."

     Boseley and Lapointe also had $20,000 in cash, which they claim had been won from a Las Vegas casino. According to Orange County officials, the private plane transporting Boseley and Lapointe had previously been linked to drug trafficking allegations, and authorities had automatically marked it for search upon entering U.S. airspace from Canada.

     Boseley, an aspiring model, previously worked as a real estate agent. However, her model listing has been taken down….

Christian Datoc, "Private Plane Caught Carrying 50,000 Ecstasy Pills, 90 Pounds of MDA," The Daily Caller, October 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: Writing Your Novel's Prologue

     A prologue to a novel is introductory material apart in time, space, or viewpoint (or all three) from the main story that creates intrigue for upcoming events. To qualify as a prologue, the information or events must exist outside of the framework of the main story. This stand-alone device must be absorbing, distinct, and beguiling in its own right. Often, an effective prologue will contain drama and dialogue so that it is immediate rather than reportorial. Prologues are aways loaded with specific and sensory details.

     A prologue's job is to provide a potent insight into the world of the story that cannot be provided through the unfolding of events. It can also be information that cannot be discovered by the protagonist, but is still necessary to the story.

     Prologues can take place five years or five centuries before the drama begins, but somehow the gap of time between the prologue time and story time must be bridged. But not all prologues are written strictly from the past. Sometimes they stem from the future or are told from a viewpoint that will not be heard from again.

     Although the prologue exists outside the flow of the narrative, it is always linked to the story events, characters, and themes. There are no hard and fast rules for length, but most prologues are at least several paragraphs and can run to twenty or more pages. However, try to keep prologues brief and vital, and no longer than a chapter.

Jessica Page Morrell, Between The Lines, 2006 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The G E Mound Case by Jim Fisher

     The G E Mound Case ia a narrative, nonfiction account of the controversial federal prosecution of five indian relic collectors involved in the archaeological destruction of a 2000-year-old Indian mound on land owned by a General Electric plastics plant near Mount Vernon, Indiana.

     Art Gerber, a prominent artifact collector, amateur archaeologist, and professional photographer from Tell City, Indiana, an Ohio River town located not far from the mound in the southern tip of the state, became the target of the federal investigation of the mound's destruction. Gerber, one of dozens of collectors who hunted relics on the site, had been on the mound in the summer of 1988 on only three occasions. The site had been destroyed six weeks earlier by a G E earthmoving contractor pursuant to a landscaping project around the plant's newly built reception center.

     Although G E officials knew they were using soil from an Indian mound for landscaping fill, Art Gerber and the other collectors were prosecuted to placate Native American activists, professional archaeologists, and others who consider artifact collecting and amateur archaeology a form of archaeological looting.

     The post-destruction analysis of the so-called G E Mound revealed that it was one of the most important Hopewell era (Middle Woodland) sites ever discovered. The criminal convictions of Art Gerber and the other collectors made legal history because the defendants were held culpable federally even though the artifacts had been removed from private land. To achieve this, the federal district judge broadly interpreted an arcane, never before used provision of the 1979 Archaeological Resource Protection Act. The unusual conviction was upheld by the federal appeals court in Chicago. Gerber's appellate attorneys appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court that declined to review the case.

     The G E Mound Case features Art Gerber's fight to defend amateur archaeology and Indian relic collecting. On a personnel level, the story involves his struggle against powerful political forces to avoid going to prison. Up against Native American activists who hated him, professional archaeologists who disapproved of his collecting, a well-organized corporate public relations machine, a biased media, and an aggressive federal prosecutor, Art Gerber lost his financial security, his health, and his freedom. Eventually the case would cost him his marriage.

     Once Art Gerber was on his way to federal prison, Native American activists and professional archaeologists, allies in the anti-collecting movement, turned on each other in a war over who controlled the 5,000 G E Mound artifacts that had been turned over to the FBI. The archaeologists wanted to study the relics. Native American wanted them returned to the earth. With the hasty reburial of these unique clues to the ancient past, the Native Americans won that fight. The G E Mound Case is set against the ongoing war over who owns the ancient relics of America's prehistoric past.

     The G E Mound Case: The Archaeological Disaster and Criminal Prosecution of Artifact Collector Art Gerber is available on Amazon.com.

      

Criminal Justice Quote: Can Police Officers Be Trusted with Seized Cellphones?

     A California Highway Patrol Officer suspected of stealing nude photos from the cellphones of women arrested on drunken driving charges sent the pictures to at least two fellow officers…Officer Sean Harrington, 35, confessed to investigators that he sent such photos at least six times over several years to colleagues…

     Harrington has worked for the CHP for five years…He is assigned to administrative duties pending the investigation. Contra County prosecutors say they expect to announce if they will file criminal charges in the coming days. Officers Robert Hazelwood and Dion Simmons are named in the October 24, 2014 search warrant affidavit, suspected of receiving the photographs and exchanging banter with Harrington…

     CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow said in a statement that his agency has launched an investigation, citing a similar case several years ago involving two officers in Los Angeles…The investigation was sparked by a 23-year-old San Ramon woman arrested August 29, 2014 on suspicion of drunken driving…She later discovered nude photographs of herself had been sent from her cellphone to an unfamiliar number. Drunken driving charges against the woman have been dismissed in light of the investigation of officer Harrington…

     Harrington also sent officer Hazelwood photos of a 19-year-old woman arrested following a suspected drunken driving crash in Livermore, California on August 7, 2014. The photos show her wearing a bikini. Hazelwood responded in a text asking if there were any nude photos…

     Darryl Holcombe, a senior investigator with the Contra County District Attorney's Office said Harrington's behavior amounts to felony computer theft. Attorney Rick Madsen, who represents the 23-year-old woman, said the officers' communications were "dehumanizing" and "horribly offensive" to his client, saying, "It's going to lead to another level of mistrust and skepticism of law enforcement in general."

"California Traffic Cop Accused of Sending Nude Photos From Female Drunk Drivers' Cellphones," The Daily Mail, October 25, 2014


Criminal Justice Quote: Honey Boo Boo Gets TV Bye-Bye

     The Learning Channel (TLC) has given "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" the boot after a story surfaced Thursday October 23, 2014 claiming that June Shannon--aka Mama June--was dating a convicted child molester. Shannon reacted to the news in a video posted on her daughter Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson's Facebook page…Shannon denied she was dating Mark McDaniel, a sex offender who was recently released from jail. "The statement of me dating a sex offender is totally untrue," she said.

     McDaniel, who is in his early 50s, was convicted on May 20, 2004 of aggravated child molestation. He registered as a sex offender in March 2014. Shannon wrote a Facebook post on Thursday October 23 that she dated and dumped McDaniel 10 years ago. "I would never put my my kids in danger," she said in the video post.

    TMZ reported that McDaniel went to prison for molesting a relative of Shannon's. The site posted a photo of Shannon and McDaniel together, but Shannon insisted that the photograph was a fake. The cancellation of the TV series, however, is real…

     "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" debuted in August 2012. The show focused on the life of Alana Thompson, who rose to fame as a child pageant winner on the TLC show "Toddlers & Tiaras." In recent seasons, ratings for "Boo Boo" had decreased significantly. An episode in June 2014 brought in just 1.7 million viewers, a big drop for a show that had seen 3.2 million viewers at its peak.

" 'Honey Boo Boo' Canceled Amid Sex Offender Scandal," Fox News, October 24, 2014

     

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Family Wins Wrongful Death Suit Against Denver Sheriff's Deputies

     A federal court jury on October 14, 2014 found that five Denver sheriff's deputies had used excessive force against a homeless street preacher who died in 2010. The jury awarded the family of Marvin Booker $4.6 million in damages. Booker died after deputies shocked him with a Taser while he was handcuffed, put him in a sleeper hold and lay on top of him…The Booker family attorney said this was a zealous overreaction to the frail 56-year-old…

     A lawyer representing the city of Denver…told jurors that the deputies' actions were in line with the sheriff department's policies for handling a combative inmate. The three-week trial came amid calls for a federal investigation of the sheriff's office over other high-profile cases that prompted the sheriff's department to make sweeping reforms. Former sheriff Gary Wilson resigned in July 2014 after the county agreed to pay $3.3 million to settle another federal jail-abuse lawsuit by a former inmate over a beating…

     Booker's family filed the federal lawsuit against the county of Denver as well as deputies Faun Gomez, James Grimes, Kyle Sharp, Kenneth Robinette, and Sgt. Carrie Rodriguez. Inmates told investigators that the struggle began when Booker was ordered to sit down in the jail's booking area but instead moved to collect his shoes, which he had taken off for comfort…

      Attorneys representing Booker's family said deputies stunned him for too long and should have backed down when Booker said he was struggling to breathe. In his closing argument, the plaintiff's attorney said the "dog pile" of deputies was a zealous overreaction…Denver's medical examiner said Booker died of cardiorespiratory arrest during restraint, and ruled his death a homicide. The autopsy report listed other factors in his death, including emphysema, an enlarged heart and recent cocaine use….

"Jurors Find Deputies Used Excessive Force in Death," Associated Press, October 14, 2014   

Criminal Justice Quote: Good Humor Man Attacked After Accident With a Boy on a Bike

     Authorities say a 7-year-old boy riding a motorized bike was hit and killed by an ice cream truck in south Los Angeles and residents then attacked the driver…The truck hit the child shortly after 7 PM Wednesday October 22, 2014. The boy later died at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

     Police say the child had been riding alongside the truck, and the collision was an accident…A crowd then attacked the ice cream truck driver, but he only received bruises. The driver told police bricks were thrown at his truck and someone threatened him with a knife….

"Ice Cream Truck Hits, Kills Boy, Driver Attacked," seattlepi.com, October 23, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Self-Delusion Advocation

Writers must delude themselves into believing that what they have to say is either important or entertaining, that people will actually want to read what they write. Man, how we kid ourselves.

Thornton P. Knowles, The Psychology of Writing, 1976 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Collateral Damage in the Hunt for a Cop Killer

     James Tully, who doesn't own a car and who walks 5 miles to work every day, has been mistaken for Eric Frein, the Pennsylvania cop killer, more than 20 times by heavily-armed law enforcement officers scouring the Pocono Mountain region. On at least one occasion, Tully, 39, claims he was forced to the ground and had a rifle pointed at his head by an officer as he walked to his job along a heavily wooded road near where Frein is believed to be hiding…

     Hundreds of law enforcement officers descended on the area to search for Frein, who they say shot and killed corporal Bryon Dickson and wounded Trooper Alex Douglas in a ambush September 12, 2014 outside the Blooming Grove state police barracks in Pike County. Frein, a 31-year-old survivalist and expert marksman, has managed to evade capture in the dense woods of the Poconos--despite multiple reported sightings of him by police and local residents…

     Tully, a father of two who lives in Frein's hometown of Canadensis, was stopped by police so many times he started carrying his driver's license and work identification around his neck…After Tully left work Friday night October 17, 2014, he was stopped by an officer dressed in camouflage and a tactical vest and holding a rifle..."He yelled at me to get down on the ground with my arms out wide and demanded my name," Tully said. Tully said the man ripped the lanyard from around his neck as he drove his knee into his back…

     Tully said he was not released until a state trooper told the other officer that Tully was telling the truth. Tully limped the rest of the way home…

     Shortly after the encounter, Tully had trouble and was taken to the hospital where doctors told him his ribs were bruised as a result of the incident…He hopes the police will pay for X-rays and the time he was absent from work. [Good luck with that, Mr. Tully.]

     The Pennsylvania state police, meanwhile, claim they have no knowledge of the incident…

"Police Repeatedly Mistake Pennsylvania Man For Suspected Cop Killer Eric Frein," Fox News, October 24, 2014



     

Writing Quote: Avoiding Horror Fiction Cliche`s

     All good fiction consists of looking at things afresh, but horror fiction seems to have a built-in tendency to do the opposite. Ten years or so ago [1997], many books had nothing more to say than "the devil made me do it." Now, thanks to the influence of films like Friday the 13th, it seems enough for some writers to say that a character is psychotic; no further explanation is necessary. But it's the job of writers to imagine how it would feel to be all their characters, however painful that may sometimes be. It may be a lack of that compassion that has led some writers to create children who are evil simply because they are children, surely the most deplorable cliche` of the field.

     Some cliche`s are simply products of lazy writing. Tradition shouldn't be used as an excuse to repeat what earlier writers have done; if you feel the need to write about the stock figures of the horror story, that's all the more reason to imagine them anew.

Ramsey Campbell in On Writing Horror Fiction, Mort Castle, editor, 2007 

Writing Quote: Mae West's Short Runs as a Playwright

Mae West wasn't just a campy actress, but a playwright as well. Her first play, Sex, written in 1926, was about a Canadian prostitute. A production in New York City led to her imprisonment for more than a week on obscenity charges. [Prostitutes themselves do less time.] Her second play, Drag, was about transvestites. It got shut down on Broadway before it could even open.

Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo, It Takes a Certain Type To Be a Writer, 2003

Friday, October 24, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Phantom Courses for College Athletes

     On October 22, 2014, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it will discipline nine more employees for an academic fraud that spanned 18 years and made it easier for student athletes to maintain eligibility to play. The school, which has won five national basketball championships, released the results of an independent investigation into the fraud in which 3,100 students took so-called "paper classes"--with no faculty involvement or class attendance. Almost half of the students were athletes…

     A series of probes that began in 2010 revealed the university had improperly cut corners for years to help student-athletes get better grades. The scandal has roiled the campus and drawn harsh national spotlight, shaking up the football program and leading to the resignation of former Chancellor Holden Thorp, who departed last year…

     The latest investigation is the result of information that emerged from a criminal probe by the Orange County District Attorney in North Carolina, where UNC at Chapel Hill is located. The DA last year dropped charges against Julius Nyang' oro, former chairman of the African and Afro-American Studies department that is at the center of the scandal, after he began cooperating with authorities.

    Nyang' oro had been charged with obtaining property under false pretenses after the university released a report in December 2012 that found the black studies department had offered courses where classes didn't meet and made unauthorized grade changes. The criminal charge was linked to payments the professor received for courses he never taught….

Michael McDonald, "UNC Academic Fraud Spanned 18 Years, Involved 3,100 Students," October 22, 2014

     

Criminal Justice Quote: Another White House Fence Jumper

     A man who jumped the White House fence Wednesday night October 22, 2014 suffers from mental problems. According to his father, he has been arrested there before. Dominic Adesanya of Bel Air, Maryland, barely made it onto the lawn before he was subdued as he fought two police dogs…"Dogs got him," a Secret Service spokesman said. His father said his son is paranoid and hears voices.

     Adesanya was arrested near the White House about two months ago and charged with a misdemeanor…

     In the latest incident, before officers moved in, Adesanya kicked a K-9 unit dog and punched another one. The two dogs were treated by a vet for injuries suffered in the incident. Charges against the White House intruder are pending….

"Latest White House Fence Jumper Has Mental Problems, Father Says," CNN, October 23, 2014 

Writing Quote: Teen Horror Fiction

     Horror is an extremely popular genre in teen fiction. It's easy to see why. A good horror story will take a relatively normal individual, Our Hero, and pit them against a malevolent, often mysterious enemy, The Monster. Our Hero must struggle to understand this monster, its strengths and weaknesses. Then he must face it. Often, Our Hero conquers the unknown beast, sometimes not, and until some understanding of The Monster is found, Our Hero, faced with the unknown is often powerless against it. Teens deal with parents, teachers, peers, and a world full of rules they have yet to fully understand.

     Teen fiction, at its best, examines these confusing emotional issues; therefore, the coming-of-age theme is essential. Characters face the unknown and take steps to gain power over it. They are forced to make life-defining decisions by examining who they are and taking actions that set the stage for the adults they will become.

     This is what makes horror so compelling for a teen audience (besides the cool monsters, of course). Horror looks at issues of death, alienation, insecurity, physical changes, loss of faith, and the inherent fear of the unknown. On some level, horror fiction shows teens that even the greatest obstacles can be faced and survived. The most well-known example of this comes from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which the idea presented is that high school is, quite literally, hell.

Thomas Pendleton in On Writing Horror, Mort Castle, editor, 2007 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Child Porn Producer Gets 20 Years

     A man will spend 20 years in federal prison for taking pictures of himself molesting a sleeping 11-year-old boy…Todd Lapping, 40, of Millcreek Township, was sentenced on October 20, 2014 by a federal judge in Erie, Pennsylvania. He had pleaded guilty in June to producing and possession child pornography and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison…

     Lapping had befriended the boy's family before molesting the youth, saying, "There isn't anything much worse than taking advantage of an 11-year-old boy who loves you."

     Authorities were alerted when the victim's sister found the pornographic photos on Lapping's computer last year. The boy's mother contacted police in the Erie suburb before federal authorities took over the case.

"Man Gets 20 Years for Porn With Sleeping Boy," Associated Press, October 22, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Bestselling Novelist John Grisham Puts Foot in Mouth

     In an October 2014 interview with the United Kingdom's The Telegraph, John Grisham, the lawyer and prolific author, sparked outrage when he expressed his belief that some people who view child pornography online are receiving punishments that don't match the scale of the crime.

     "We have prisons now filled with guys my age, 60-year-old white men, in prison, who've never harmed anybody [how does he know that?] and would never touch a child…But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons and went too far and got into child porn. [Sure.] They deserve some type of punishment, but 10 years in prison? There's so many of them now, sex offenders…that they put them in the same prison, like they're a bunch of perverts or something."…

    These comments and the nature in which Grisham discussed the very serious issue of child pornography incited a flood of hurt, disappointment and angry reaction from fans of his books…Shortly after the uproar began, Grisham issued an apology.

     "Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography--online or otherwise--should be punished to the fullest extent of the law," the author said in a statement. "My comments made two days ago during an interview…were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable. I regret having made those comments, and apologize to all."…

Breeanna Hare, "John Grisham Apologizes For Remarks on Child Porn," CNN, October 16, 2014 

Writing Quote: When Does a Novel Become a Memoir?

Perhaps everyone has a story to tell, but many never get around to telling them, and many others tell them poorly. Many people have led fascinating lives, but falter when they attempt to tell their stories. Often, this is because they focus on content rather than form. There's a difference between a memoir and a novel. A memoir is supposed to be true. A novel isn't. The difference between fact and fiction. It's a complex distinction, and some writers blur the distinction to good effect. Others, claiming they want to write fiction, really want to write memoirs. If you base a story on an actual event, but refuse to alter it because "that's the way it really happened," you probably want to write a memoir instead of a story.

Robin Hemley, Turning Life into Fiction, 2006

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Darren Deon Vann: The Indiana Serial Prostitute Killer

     In 2005, Darren Deon Vann, a registered sex offender in Indiana, moved to Austin, Texas. Two years later a prosecutor in Texas charged Vann with aggravated rape. After pleading guilty to that charge in 2009, the judge sent the rapist to prison where he served five years. Upon his release from the Texas penitentiary in June 2013, the 42-year-old sex offender returned to northern Indiana. At some point the ex-Marine acquired a wife.

     On Friday October 17, 2014, through a website that serves the Chicago area called backpage.com, Vann arranged to meet a prostitute at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Indiana, a town ten miles west of Gary. The website "facilitator" sent 19-year-old Afrika Hardy to the motel to meet the John. Hardy had recently moved to Indiana from Aurora, Colorado where she had recently graduated from high school.

     When the prostitution facilitator texted Hardy to check on the progress of the trick, the message that came back caused the facilitator to believe that it hadn't been sent by Hardy. The facilitator and another woman went to the motel to check on the prostitute. In the motel room they found signs of a struggle, and in the bathtub, Hardy's dead body.

     Officers with the Hammond Police Department responded to the murder scene. (The Lake County coroner would later report that Hardy had been strangled to death.) Using a phone number provided by the website facilitator, detectives tracked down the John, Darren Deon Vann.

     On Friday October 17, 2014, in Gary, Indiana, police officers arrested Vann who said he wanted to cooperate with the authorities in hopes of making a deal. In the early morning hours of the next day, Vann led detectives to three abandoned houses in Gary where they found the bodies of three women. Vann said he had strangled these prostitutes to death.

     Anith Jones, 35, from Merrillville, Indiana, was the only Gary murder victim who had been reported missing. She had disappeared on October 8, 2014. Jones had moved to Indiana from Chicago ten years ago and had operated a stand at a Gary flea market. It would later be determined that Jones had been murdered by ligature strangulation.

     The other two murder victims discovered on Saturday October 18, 2014--Teaira Batey, 28 and 36-year-old Christine Williams--had also been strangled to death and found in abandoned houses in the blighted Gary neighborhood. Vann had killed his victims elsewhere and deposed of their bodies in the vacant, sometimes fire-damaged homes.

     Later Saturday night, Darren Vann led Gary police detectives to three more female bodies left to decompose in vacant houses. The remains of these women have not been identified.

     A local Indiana prosecutor, on October 20, 2014, charged Darren Vann with the murder of Afrika Hardy at the Motel 6 in Hammond. In his on-going discussions with homicide investigators, Vann has confessed to the murders of woman that go back twenty years. At this point in the case, it's anybody's guess how many women this man has murdered. Vann's wife told detectives that she had no idea she was married to a serial killer.  

CJ Quote: Cocaine Boots Vice President's Son Out Of Navy

     The Navy Reserve discharged Vice President's son Hunter after he tested positive for cocaine…The discharge of Biden, a 44-year-old lawyer and managing partner at an investment firm, was first reported on October 16, 2014. "It was the honor of my life to serve in the U.S Navy, and I deeply regret and am embarrassed that my actions led to my administrative discharge. I respect the Navy's decision. With the love and support of my family, I'm moving forward," he said. [Notice that people never "move forward" from a good things.]

     Biden was commissioned as an ensign in May 2013 and assigned as a public affairs officer in a Norfolk, Virginia-based reserve unit. A month later he tested positive for cocaine and was discharged in February 2014…

     Hunter Biden is the younger of Biden's two sons. His older brother, Beau Biden, is Delaware's attorney general and a major in the Delaware Army National Guard. He was deployed for a year in Iraq.

Eric Bradner, "Bidon's Son Discharged From Navy After Testing Positive For Cocaine," CNN, October 16, 2014

Writing Quote: Read Your Sentences to Yourself Out Loud

Read your work aloud, if you can, if you aren't too embarrassed by the sound of your own voice ringing out when you are alone in a room. Chances are that the sentence you can hardly pronounce without stumbling is a sentence that needs to be reworked to make it smoother and more fluent. A poet once told me that he was reading a draft of a new poem aloud to himself when a thief broke into his Manhattan loft. [Poets live is lofts.] Instantly surmising that he had entered the dwelling of a madman, the thief turned and ran without taking anything, and without harming the poet. [Perhaps it was the poetry that ran the intruder out of the loft.] So it may be that reading your work aloud will not only improve its quality but save your life in the process.

Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer, 2006 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Premature Aging of Prostitutes

Their faces go before their time, their skin coarsens, their speech turns foul until at last it is true to say they are almost completely de-womanized in every gentle aspect of that word. This, like the mark of Cain on the brow of the murderer, is the stigmata of prostitution which none can escape.

John Gosling, head of Scotland Yard's vice squad in the 1950s, in The Book of Criminal Quotations, J.P. Bean, editor, 2003 

Writing Quote: How to End a Child's Picture Book

     With little children, the way stories are resolved is critical. The endings of the more serious stories offer comfort and closure to fragile psyches. Little children need to feel safe, to feel protected from the vagaries of a capricious world. Time enough for them to learn about unpredictability and its messy aftermath.

     It's no accident that fairy tales end with "And they all lived happily ever after." Endings such as this give children a sense of security, a feeling they can cope with the circumstances they confront in their daily lives.

Nancy Lamb, Crafting Stories For Children, 2001 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brenda Leyland and the Madeleine McCann Case: Death of a "Troll" or a Concerned Citizen?

     On May 3, 2007, doctors Gerry and Kate McCann, from the affluent village of Rothley in the central English borough of Charnwood, were on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal with their three children and another couple. That evening the McCanns reported their 3-year-old daughter Madeleine missing. According to the parents, someone had abducted the girl from the hotel room while they were dining 160 feet away from the resort.

     As in the JonBenet Ramsey case in the United States twelve years earlier, the public, influenced by tabloid-like media coverage, suspected the parents of foul play. When a British DNA analyst reported that the child had died in the hotel room, the authorities were under public pressure to arrest the McCanns.

     In September 2007, the police in Portugal made it official by declaring Doctors Gerry and Kate McCann suspects in the disappearance of their daughter. No arrest warrants were issued and in July 2008 the attorney general of Portugal closed the case against the parents citing lack of evidence.

     While officially cleared of criminal wrongdoing, Gerry and Kate McCann remained, in the tabloid press and the minds of millions in Great Britain and around the world, guilty of murder.

     The missing girl's parents, convinced that the police in Portugal had given up the search, hired private investigators to breathe new life into the case. Based on information uncovered by the PIs and Scotland Yard's release of the image of a man seen carrying a child toward the beach not far from the hotel on the night in question, the Portugese police, in October 2013, re-opened the case. Notwithstanding this development, the McCann child has not been found and no arrests have been made.

     In the years following the Madeleine McCann disappearance, a community of conspiracy buffs have targeted the missing girl's parents. Some would say these people have abused and harassed the McCanns through negative tweets, Facebook postings, text messaging, and other forms of online communication. People who engage in this form of social media activity have been labeled "Trolls," a catch-all term that covers everything from mild criticism to online death threats.

     According to social scientists who have studied this media phenomenon, trolls are often bored, lonely people who become obsessed with a particular crime. Some of them are manifestly insane. While  they annoy and may even frighten the targets of their wrath, they are, for the most part, harmless talkers.  These compulsive chatterboxes orbit every celebrated crime, usually offering up outlandish conspiracy theories. The Lindbergh kidnapping case and the JFK assassination, for example, attracted thousands of revisionist true crime buffs. In the wake of baby Lindbergh's abduction and murder in 1932, the 20-month-old's parents were almost driven crazy by obsessed and mentally ill people who showed up at their mansion and harassed them in public. Today, fixated crime buff simply take to their computers.

     In late September 2014, a British television news team published the identify of one of the more prolific McCann case trolls. Brenda Leyland, a 63-year-old resident of Burton Overy, a picturesque village in the Harborough district of Liecestershire, had published more than 5,000 tweets on the case. The soft-spoken divorcee used her Twitter account to draw attention to what she considered an appalling failure of justice. She called the McCanns neglectful parents and accused them, through their frequent media appearances, of profiting from their daughter's disappearance. Leyland once tweeted that the McCanns should "suffer for the rest of their miserable lives" for what they've done.

     Brenda Leyland regularly accused the metropolitan police (Scotland Yard) of dropping the ball in the missing persons case. She also took on the tabloid media for false and over-the-top reporting. At no time did she threaten the McCanns, and unlike some of her fellow Trolls, never called them baby killers.

     After being outed by the television reporters, Leyland became an online target herself. To avoid being harassed by reporters, she checked into a nearby Marriott Hotel in Grove Park, Leicester. On Saturday, October 4, 2014 at one-forty in the afternoon, police were called to Leyland's hotel room after a Marriott employee discovered her corpse.

     Investigators have found no evidence of criminal homicide in Leyland's sudden death. The autopsy, however, failed to reveal a cause of death. This has led to speculation that Brenda Leyland took her own life.

     Leyland's death will no doubt create a community of Trolls who will somehow link the government or the McCanns to her death. By attaching herself to celebrated case, Leyland briefly became famous herself. Perhaps this was one Troll who came to realize what it is like to be the target of other people's obsession, loneliness and boredom. 

Criminal Justice Quote: When Athletes Steal It's a Mistake--For the Rest of Us It's Criminal

     Saying it was "the biggest mistake I've ever made in my life," Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle apologized to teammates after getting arrested on shoplifting charges. [How about an apology to the store he ripped-off?]

     Randle, 22, a backup tailback in his second season with the Cowboys, was accused of attempting to steal $80 worth of cologne and underwear from a Dillards' Inc. store in the Dallas suburb of Frisco. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters on October 15, 2014 that Randle will be fined, but not suspended for this weekend's game against the New York Giants.

     "The actions that we're going to take is to fine him significantly and move forward," Garrett said in a news conference…[I don't think it's a good sign that people are always "moving forward."] Randle will be fined at $29,117, the amount he earns each week on his scheduled $495,000 base salary this season. [He can't afford cologne and underwear on that salary? This kid needs a raise.]…

     "I just made a huge mistake," Randle told reporters. "It was hard coming back in the locker room and looking at people who care about me in the eye, knowing that I did something stupid."…

"Cowboy's Randle Charged with Trying to Steal Underwear," bloomberg.com, October 16, 2014 

Writing Quote: Stephen King on Reading Good and Bad Novels

     One learns most clearly what not to do by reading bad prose. Reading Valley of the Dolls and Bridges of Madison County is worth a semester at a good writing school, even with the superstar guest lecturers thrown in.

     Good writing, on the other hand, teaches the learning writer about style, graceful narration, plot development, the creation of believable characters and truth-telling. A novel like The Grapes of Wrath may fill a new writer with feelings of despair and good old-fashioned jealousy--"I'll never be able to write anything that good, not if I live to be a thousand"--but such feelings can also serve as a spur, goading the writer to work harder and aim higher.

Stephen King, On Writing, 2000

Criminal Justice Quote: A Mafia Hit Man's Self-Analysis

I didn't want to go straight. No boring sessions with do-gooder social workers for this cookie. No BS therapy from a shrink who would say I hated my uncle. Forget denial and struggling to make ends meet on some begged-for, dead-end job. "You're a criminal pure and simple," I told myself, "so go for it whole hog."

Donald "Tony the Greek" Frankos in The Book of Criminal Quotations, J. P. Bean, editor, 2003 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Connecticut Hotel Mop Attack

     A Connecticut man is facing charges after police said he grabbed a mop out of a hotel employee's hands and was "mopping aggressively" over the worker's shoes. Police say 30-year-old John Thornton, of Southington, was arrested Monday night October 13, 2014 and charged with breach of peace and threatening.

     Officers responding to the Bristol Hotel were told a man had become "unruly," grabbed the mop and swept it back and forth over the woman's shoes. When the employee asked the man to stop, police say he pushed her into a corner. Police say the woman was shaken and crying.

     Authorities say Thornton insulted and swore at officers during the arrest, threatening them with bodily harm. He was released on $20,000 bond.

"Man Accused of 'Mopping Aggressively'," Associated Press, October 16, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Random Attacks on College Students by Roving Gangs

     Over the first two weekends in October 2014, groups of young men have been roving the streets and beating people completely at random near the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Police say the beat downs are consistent with initiations by big city street gangs--a phenomenon not typically seen on most Big 10 campuses…

     The attackers--described as black, perhaps 25 years old, wearing dark clothes--prowled aound an area in Champaign, tackling various innocent and unsuspecting victims to the ground and kicking them in the head. Police say five students suffered injuries in four different attacks. Three of the students received treatment for bruises, cuts and facial wounds…One student also had a cell phone stolen. 

     Some victims say their attackers asked them a question or threatened them before the pummeling began. Other victims say they just got attacked. Each incident occurred on a residential street in front of witnesses. There were six to eight attackers in total. They cruised around in a blue vehicle looking for victims. There have been 45 assaults reported in the Champaign-Urbana metropolitan area since October 1, 2014….

Eric Owens, "Black Males Are Viciously Beating People at Random at the University of Illinois," The Daily Caller, October 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Arthur Conan Doyle's Literary Homicide

A. Conan Doyle grew to detest his detective Sherlock Holmes and killed him off with satisfaction. The rest of the world didn't agree: London stockbrokers wore armbands, the public deluged newspapers with letters of mourning and outrage, and a woman even picketed Doyle's house with a sign that called him a murderer.

Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo, It Takes a Certain Type to be a Writer, 2003 

Writing Quote: The Relevance of Grammar

Among the questions that writers need to ask themselves in the process of revision--Is this the best word I can find? Is my meaning clear? Can a word or phrase be cut from this without sacrificing anything essential? Perhaps the most important question is: Is this grammatical? What's strange is how many beginning writers seem to think that grammar is irrelevant, or that they are somehow above or beyond this subject more fit for a schoolchild than the future author of great literature. Or possibly they worry that they will be distracted from their focus on art if they permit themselves to be sidetracked by the dull requirements of English usage. But the truth is that grammar is always interesting, always useful. Mastering the logic of grammar contributes, in a mysterious way that evokes some process of osmosis, to the logic of thought.

Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer, 2006 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Writing Quote: Writing the Whodunit Crime Novel

     Most of my fiction writing has been in the murder mystery novel genre, specifically whodunits, in which there usually are four to six suspects. One of the most difficult aspects of writing whodunits is to give all of these suspects roughly equal motives for having committed the murder. The idea is to keep the reader guessing as long as possible.

     I try to adhere to the doctrine of fair play in the plot. That is, I put in clues so that the reader could conceivably identify the murderer. Having said that, I bury the clues by making them hard to spot. Many of these clues are embedded in seemingly innocuous details. [In real life, people often commit  murder with virtually no motive that makes any sense. Moreover, people with the most obvious motives  often turn out to be innocent. In the murder mystery genre the plots have to make sense. In true crime they just have to be true.]

Robert Goldsborough in The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists, Andrew McAleer, editor, 2008

Criminal Justice Quote: J. Edgar Hoover on the Criminal Mind

A criminal does not look upon himself as such. You must accept this as an axiom if you ever are to learn the slightest rules about protecting yourself, your home and your family. His viewpoint is this: he wants something. That is the end of the matter. Wanting it, he feels he should have it. No ideas of justice ever enter his mind; if they do, they are quickly swamped by selfishness. The old excuse of "I did not stop to think" was never true, although this alibi for crime has worked to the amelioration of sentences until it is threadbare. The true statement, which is rarely voiced, is: "I did not stop to think of anyone but myself."

J. P. Bean, editor, The Book of Criminal Quotations, 2003 

Writing Quote: Finding Time to Write

Few beginning writers have the luxury of large blocks of time to write. Jobs, family, and social responsibilities take up most of the day…Writer Thomas Sullivan found that his family obligations and high school teaching position left him only two minutes to write each day, in the school library, before the bell rang announcing his first class. Two minutes is barely time to brush one's teeth, yet Sullivan managed to squeeze at least a paragraph out of those precious moments, day after day. Driving to school, he would be writing in his head, and by the time he sat down with pencil and pad, the words were in order and ready to record. This situation continued for years, during which time he wrote three novels.

Loren D. Estleman, Writing the Popular Novel, 2004 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Writing Quote: Too Much Dialogue Can Weaken a Novel

     Film and television have convinced too many writers that heaps of dialogue make novels more like movies and therefore good. This is an amateur's fantasy, and it has induced some writers to surrender the few advantages they have over cinematic storytelling.

     The movie maker is stuck with what the camera can see and the microphone can hear. You have more freedom. You can summarize situations. You can forthrightly give us people's histories. You can concentrate ten years into ten words. You can move anywhere you like outside real time. You can tell us--just tell us--what people are thinking and feeling.

     Yes, abundant dialogue can lighten a story, make it more readable and sparkle with wonders. But it is pitiably inadequate before what it is not suited to do. Exposition, for example: the "five w's"--the who, what, when, where, and why of a given situation. Jimmying this information into a visual background through performance and dialogue is cumbersome stuff.

Stephen Koch, Writer's Workshop, 2003 

Criminal Justice Quote: Four-Year-Old Unknowingly Distributes Heroin at Day Care Center

     A 30-year-old mother was arrested by authorities after her 4-year-old daughter shared packets of heroin to other students at a local day care center. Police officers and medical personnel responded to the Hickory Tree Child Care Center in Selbyville, Delaware at 11:45 in the morning of October 6, 2014. The police were called after staff members saw some of the children with the small bags of white powder…

     The bags of white powdery substance were confiscated by the teachers and were immediately taken to the Selbyville Police Department where it was tested and determined to be heroin…Officers said the girl accidentally brought the packets of heroin into the day care in a backpack given to her by her mother after the child's own backpack was destroyed by a family pet…The girl is said to have thought the packets were candy and began handing them out to other students.

     A total of 249 packets of heroin weighing 3.735 grams were found in the backpack. None of the packets were opened by any of the children…Some of the kids were taken to nearby hospitals as precautionary measures. They were later released after thorough examinations.

     Ashley Tull of Selbyville, the woman identified as the mother of the girl…was arrested and charged with maintaining a drug property and endangering the welfare of a child…Tull was eventually released on $6,000 bail and was ordered to have no contact with her three children who were placed under a relative's care.

"Delaware Mom Arrested After 4-Year-Old Shared Heroin at Day Care," designntrend.com, October 7, 2014

     

Writing Quote: Creating a Good Documentary Film

     Documentaries bring viewers into new worlds and experiences through the presentation of factual information about real people, places, and events, generally portrayed through the use of actual images and artifacts…But factuality alone does not define documentary films; it's what the filmmaker does with those factual elements, weaving them into an overall narrative that strives to be as compelling as it is truthful and is often greater than the sum of its parts…

    Story is the device that enables this arrangement. A story may begin as an idea, hypothesis, or series of questions. It becomes more focused throughout the filmmaking process, until the finished film has a compelling beginning, an unexpected middle, and a satisfying end. Along the way, the better you understand your story, even as it's evolving, the more prepared you'll be to tell it creatively and well. The visuals you shoot will be stronger. You're likely to cast and scout locations more carefully and waste less time filming scenes that aren't necessary. And perhaps surprisingly, you'll be better prepared to follow the unexpected--to take advantage of the twists and turns that are an inevitable part of documentary production, and recognize those elements that will make your film even stronger.

Shelia Curran Bernard, Documentary Storytelling, 2004 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Writing Quote: Are You Sure You Want to Write a Memoir?

To write a memoir is to enter…a war zone--with yourself, with the ones you love, with the critics you may never meet. It is to lay your life on the line, or several lines. You may be ridiculed, harassed, taken down in the court of public opinion. Worse, you aunt may never speak to you again. You may be called upon to defend the form…Your sole protection will be the work itself--its integrity, its artfulness, its originality, and its capacity to entertain or seduce….

Beth Kephart, Handling the Truth, 2013 

Writing Quote: Coming Up With a Good Ending

As novelists we all know that the ending is the hardest part. Getting it right. If editors interfere, it is likely to be there, at the ending. If we are unsatisfied with a narrative it is likely to be there, at the ending. We wish for happy endings but sometimes we reject them as unrealistic, therefore trashy, and we feel cheated and pandered to. Stern, sadistic endings may not please us either.

Diane Johnson in The Writer's Life, Carol Edgarian and Tom Jenks, editors, 1997 

Criminal Justice Quote: Shooter Attacks Police in Three Towns

     Police in Washington state say a man opened fire on police stations and police cars in three towns Wednesday evening October 25, 2014 before being shot and arrested. The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said the first series of attacks took place at 9:30 PM, when an unmanned patrol car was shot at from a white pickup truck in the town of Great Falls. A few minutes later, police in Lake Stevens reported that their headquarters were being fired upon…Police cars were targeted in Lake Stevens as well.

     A short time after that, police officers located the truck and chased the suspect into the town of Marysville, where he shot at another patrol car before he was wounded and taken into custody early Thursday October 16…

     Lake Stevens Police Commander Dennis Taylor said the man was apparently armed with a "high-capacity" rifle. Taylor added that "many shots were fired and said that the police vehicles were hit several times.

"Man Opens Fire on Police Stations, Patrol Cars in Washington," Fox News, October 16, 2014


Whackademia Quote: Louisiana Biology Teacher Accused of Sex With Student

     Authorities say a private school biology teacher accused of having a sexual encounter with a 16-year-old student has been arrested…A Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office spokesperson said 27-year-old Nick Dominque, of Ventress, Louisiana was booked into jail on October 10, 2014 on counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and oral sexual battery.

     Nick Dominque had been teaching 75 students in his second year at False River Academy when the allegations surfaced in late September 2014. The teacher has since been fired.

"Biology Teacher Allegedly Had Sexual Encounter With Student," The Associated Press, October 14, 2014 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Native American Casino War

     A federal judge closed a central California casino after an armed showdown between tribal factions caused many gamblers to flee with chips left on the tables. U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill, acting on an emergency request by the state attorney general, set no date for the possible reopening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold 40 miles north of Fresno…The National Indian Gaming Commission also ordered the casino closed, declaring a threat to public safety that could result in serious injury or death.

     A faction that was forced out of the casino to a nearby tribal business center in August 2014 returned Thursday night October 9, 2014. According to the gaming commission, each faction controlled different parts of the casino…Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said about 500 people fled the casino. He said he worried for weeks about escalating tensions and had asked state and federal officials for help.

     The sheriff's department negotiated with about 20 armed tribal members after the casino cleared…There were no arrests, and no one was injured seriously enough to be hospitalized. "When they move the war into the casino, it meant we had to stop this. We have not been getting closer to a solution. If anything, we have gotten father away."

     The casino and hotel were guarded by sheriff's deputies…Vernon king, treasurer for the tribal council led by the faction that was ousted from the casino, said his group wanted to recover audit information and avoid a shutdown later this month. The casino, he said, employs 1,000 to 1,500 people and provides an average of around $450 a month to each of the 900 tribal members.

     Rob Rosette, a lawyer for the group that has controlled the casino since August 2014, said the other faction refused offers to negotiate for several months. Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler said the economic impact of the hotel and casino closure will be devastating. Still, he said he was more concerned about the potential for violence and that he had urged authorities to close the casino immediately.

"California Casino Is Closed After Armed Standoff," ABC News, October 10, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Three Women Steal Man's Prosthetic Leg

     Police say a prosthetic leg reported stolen from a veteran in a wheelchair outside the Eagles-Giants football game in south Philadelphia was later recovered on a subway train. Sonny Forriest Jr., who is known for singing for fans outside Phillies and Eagles games, told police that he had taken off his prosthetic leg during his performance. He said he was packing up to leave when a woman in her 20s wearing Eagles gear who appeared intoxicated, approached and took the leg.

     A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority conductor found the leg at one in the morning on October 13, 2014 at the Olney station in north Philadelphia. Investigators said they planned to examine transit station surveillance video to try to identify a suspect. They said it appeared that three women took part in the theft.

"Stolen Prosthetic Leg Found Aboard Philadelphia Subway Train," Associated Press, October 13, 2014 

No One Likes a Stupid Protagonist

The protagonist, who is home alone with a bad cold, hears a rustling sound from the lower floor and, instead of calling 911 or acting logically to the danger, sets off to investigate the darkened basement with a butcher knife. At this point, your reader starts groaning out loud. Don't send your character into danger without a thought to the consequences; instead, make certain that she takes appropriate action. Perhaps she attempts to dial for help, but discovers that the criminal has cut the phone wires. Or, she can attempt to escape, but then suddenly he's looming at the door, blocking her way. The lesson here is that when the going gets tough, a protagonist fights back to the best of her ability.

Jessica Page Morrell, Between the Lines, 2006 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Knife-Wielding Degenrates Randomly Invade Home.

     Two young men broke into a randomly chosen suburban Seattle home and attacked an 18-year-old victim with knives. The assailants have been sentenced to more than 25 years each…Vincent Sisounong, 22, and 20-year-old Blessing Gainey earlier pleaded guilty to attempted first-dgree murder and first-degree burglary. They were sentenced Friday October 10, 2014.

     Prosecutors say the two were motivated by "pleasure and greed" when they attacked the teen who was staying at his family's Kirkland, Washington home on October 12, 2013. The victim, Deep Rewat, suffered severe cuts to his leg, shoulder and head and underwent surgery at Harborview Medical Center.

     Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel called the crime "absolutely horrifying." A prosecutor told the judge the victim would have died had he not escaped and sought help from a neighbor. Outside the courtroom, Rewat said the sentencing was "definitely a big step in moving forward."

"2 Men Who Attacked Teen With Knives Gets 25 Years," chron.com, October 11, 2014 

Writing Quote: Books by Literature Professors

     I don't yet understand the source of my antipathy toward literature professors. The pervasive air of smugness has something to do with it…

     I've paid some attention to the publications of my English Department colleagues and have the impression that they are responsible for a staggering amount of inconsequentia.  English professors are always turning out extraneous "textbooks" or else are collecting other people's writing and publishing them as anthologies. My favorite example--if you'll allow me a moment of rottenness--is something "edited by" two of our tenured battleships, and proudly displayed behind glass in the departmental office. It's called Affirmations of the Human Spirit: Readings in Excellence, and is little more than excerpts from the Aeneid, The Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost with a one-paragraph introduction to each.

     Many of the local professor-products are patched together with the primary purpose of preserving their authors from perishing in the publish-or-perish sense, or else for some low-wattage pedantic reason; in any case, they tend to shorten the lives of those forced to do "readings" in them. Boredom, like speed, kills.

Martin Russ, Showdown Semester, 1980 

Writing Quote: The Secular Hero in the History of Autobiography

When Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) completed his Confessions in 1770 he introduced the secular hero into European literature and recounted his own life in a form and style which influenced male life histories well into the twentieth century. Rousseau set the pattern which required the autobiographer to record the shaping influences of his childhood and the emotions of his maturity. But even as Rousseau set down his denunciation of aristocratic privilege and contrasted his real emotional life with received values, an American contemporary, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), was forging another male life plot, which preempted much of the foreground of nineteenth-century male autobiography. Franklin's self-presentation defined for the first time the archetypal figure of the capitalist hero, rebellious against inherited privilege, scornful of inefficiency and of waste, driven by economic motives which never figured in Rousseau's wildest dreams. While Rousseau wanted to compel an inattentive society to recognize his literary and dramatic genius, Franklin describes himself as content to accumulate wealth, and to instruct the rest of the world about the moral and economic qualities which earned him his wealth, and through it status and public recognition.

Jill Ker Conway, When Memory Speaks, 1998 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Hidden Locker Room Videos Case

     A man and a woman face more than 250 felonies for allegedly putting cameras in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin locker rooms. Melissa Wenckebach, 28, and Karl Landt, 36, were charged in the spring of 2014 with 37 counts of conspiring to capture an image of nudity without consent, and 214 counts were added against each of them Thursday October 9, 2014.

     The investigation began in April 2014 after Wenckebach was allegedly discovered with a camera in a Pleasant Prairie recreational facility locker room. She confessed to police that she had been recording people changing at Landt's request…She told police they had been in a relationship. They both worked at Uline corporate headquarters in Pleasant Prairie. Later, Wenckebach told investigators she had also placed cameras in locker rooms at work. Wenckebach placed cameras at the recreational facility 40 to 50 times over a four month period and at Uline for more than two years.

     Police seized computers and digital storage devices found at Landt's Waukegan, Illinois home, recovering dozens of videos. The 214 new charges stem from those videos. Both suspects remain out of custody on bond…

"Pair Face 250 Felonies Over Locker Room Cameras," Associated Press, October 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Teen Commits Execution Style Murder

     Witnesses told police that a Cheyenne, Wyoming man with a gunshot wound to his stomach was begging for his life when a 16-year-old who had opened fire into a group of teens shot him in the head at point-blank range.

     Philip Sam was in court Wednesday October 8, 2014 on a first-degree murder charge in the death of 19-year-old Tyler Burns. He is being tried as an adult. Sam was at a park the previous Sunday night for a fight. He fired his gun at a group of teens that had gathered there. One of the bullets hit Burns in the stomach. The suspect told a detective that he shot Burns in the head because he didn't want him to suffer.

"Wyoming Teen Shot Man Who Was Begging For His Life," Associated Press, October 9, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Best Horror Stories Have Literary Merit

In the literature of horror, a handicap has frequently been that of verisimilitude, the creative weakness or flatness of character. H.P. Lovecraft spoke of the "weird" rather than the Gothic, which seems to me, for all my admiration of Lovecraft's masterly work, unnecessarily  restricting. To Lovecraft, too, "phenomena" rather than "persons" are the logical heroes of stories, one consequence of which is two-dimensional, stereotypical characters about whom it is difficult to care. Situations and plots may be formulaic, language merely serviceable, and not a vehicle for the impassioned inwardness of which "weirdness" is one attempt at definition, but only one. The standards for horror fiction should be no less than those for "serious, literary" fiction in which originality of concept, depth of characters, and attentiveness to language are vitally important.

Joyce Carol Oates in On Writing Horror, Mort Castle, editor, 2007 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Moore Catholic High School Teacher-Student Sex Case

     Founded in 1962 by nuns, Moore Catholic High School, a 450-student institution located in the Bull's Head section of Staten Island, New York, is prestigious, and with its $8,000 a year tuition, not cheap.

     In December 2013, a person close to the school learned from the friends of a 16-year-old male student that the boy was involved in a sexual relationship with Moore's women's basketball coach, Megan Mahoney. A former basketball star at Staten Island's Wagner College, the 25-year-old was also a gym teacher and the school's assistant athletic director. The person who learned of the affair from the student's friends reported the allegation to the principal, Bob Manisero. Manisero, in turn, reported it to the athletic director, Richard Postiglione.

     Not long after receiving this disturbing information regarding coach Mahoney and the student, the athletic director informed the principal there was no truth to the allegation. According to Postiglione, Mahoney, coming from an upstanding Catholic family, was above reproach. The athletic director reminded the principal that the school was a notorious hotbed for gossip and rumor.

     That December, the person who had gone to the school principal with the allegation sent an email to school board chairman Anthony Ferreri that read: "If you remember I had reported some activity about a basketball coach that I learned the athletic director thought was untrue. I know it is true. I was told they are in love. Hope you have followed legal protocol even through there are no witnesses."

     According to the 16-year-old student's friends, in September 2013, coach Mahoney approached the boy in the school gym and offered to coach him in basketball. Later, she drove him to secluded places where they had sex in her car. The friends of this student quoted him as saying the following regarding his relationship with the teacher: "We were never boyfriend-girlfriend. It was cool. I knew it wasn't going anywhere."

     According to the student's friends, Mahoney picked him up one night at his house for a date. His parents saw her and assumed she was a high school student.

     After athletic director Postiglione received information from a second person who also told him coach Mahoney and the boy were having an affair, he did not notify the police. According to this whistleblower, Postiglione went to the coach and made her promise to stop seeing the boy.

     In January 2014, the basketball coach and the 16-year-old were seen eating at a pizzeria by the boy's ex-girlfriend who had followed them there. The girl called 911 and the police showed up. To the officers the student identified coach Mahoney as his cousin.

     Later that month, after the Moore Catholic High School teacher-student situation blossomed into a massive scandal, Mahoney resigned. While she left the school under pressure, she continued to maintain her innocence.

     Following the coach's resignation, the student at the center of the scandal complained that the other Moore teachers were trying to flunk him out of school. The boy's mother, referring to these teachers, claimed that they wanted her son out of the institution because he had embarrassed the school.

     In an April 2014 email to the New York City Archdiocese, the mother complained that a school investigation of her son had been conducted without her knowledge and that teachers were trying to drum the boy out of the school. The Archdiocese did not respond to the mother's email.

     In June 2014, a social worker paid a visit to the mother's home. The child protection agent said she was there pursuant to a complaint that the mother was an unfit parent. The complaint was unfounded and quickly dismissed. The embattled mother felt she was being harassed.

     To the dismay of Moore Catholic School administrators, the scandal heated up with allegations from one of the whistleblowers that in 2012 coach Mahoney had been involved with another 16-year-old boy. According to this claim, athletic director Postiglione also failed to pass this allegation on to the police. It also surfaced that in 2006 or 2007, a female coach under Postiglione's direction was accused of sleeping with a female Moore student. That coach also resigned under pressure.

     The allegations of Mahoney's sexual relations with the student as well as claims of an institutional cover-up are under investigation by the Staten Island District Attorney's Office. No arrests have been made in the case. 

Criminal Justice Quote: A Pervert on the Loose in Austin, Texas

     Austin, Texas police officers are looking for someone who throws urine-filled bottles at women. Police say a group of women reported a few weeks ago that someone in a dark-colored Jeep Wrangler drove past them and hurled a bottle containing urine. One of the woman was hurt…

     Another woman the bottle-thrower targeted on Wednesday October 8, 2014 described a similar vehicle. She wasn't injured.

     The incidents have occurred about a block apart in a neighborhood west of the University of Texas campus. [Detectives should start polygraphing professors. Just kidding.]

"Austin Police Looking for Someone Tossing Bottles of Urine at Women," Associated Press, October 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: No More High School Football This Year in Sayresville, New Jersey

     Seven teenaged high school football players in New Jersey have been charged with sex crimes in connection with an apparent team hazing ritual…Six members of the Sayresville War Memorial High School charged were arrested on Friday night October 10, 2014. A seventh suspect surrendered to the authorities the next day…

   Three of the teens were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual conduct, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual conduct, criminal restraint, and hazing for engaging in an act of sexual penetration upon one of the juvenile victims. One defendant and four others were charged with various other counts including aggravated assault, conspiracy, aggravated criminal sexual contact, hazing and riot in connection with four separate incidents that took place at the school in September 2014.

     The Sayresville team is a powerhouse in New Jersey football, with three state titles in the past four years…

"Seven Teens Charged With Sex Crimes in Football Hazing Case," The Times of India, October 12, 2014 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Students of Goddard College Name Cop Killer as Commencement Speaker

     Goddard College's selection of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal as a commencement speaker is a "despicable" decision that should be reversed, his victim's widow told reporters with Fox News. Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Daniel was gunned down by Abu-Jamal in 1981, was shocked to learn of the selection by undergraduate students at tiny Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Abu-Jamal, who will not attend the event and whose speech will be pre-recorded, received a bachelor of arts degree from the 245-student liberal arts college in 1996 through a correspondence program…

     Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, was sentenced to death following a high-profile trial in Philadelphia. His sentence was later reduced to life in prison without parole for killing Faulkner, a 25-year-old patrolman who scuffled with Abu-Jamal's brother during an early morning traffic stop. Abu-Jamal, a member of the Black Panther Party, was wounded by a round from Faulkner's gun and a .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings…

     The October 7, 2014 commencement event will mark the third time Abu-Jamal, 60, has given commencement speeches at colleges. He spoke [by recording] at Evergreen State College in Washington and Antioch College in Ohio. Both of these events prompted widespread protests on behalf of law enforcement officers and Faulkner's relatives…

     A spokesperson for the Vermont State Police condemned Goddard College's decision, saying its students and teachers are showing "blatant indifference" toward law enforcement. [A better explanation: these teachers and students are ivory tower idiots.] 

Criminal Justice Quote: Couple Charged With Fatal Poisoning of Disabled Child

     A woman and her boyfriend were charged with murder Tuesday October 7, 2014 after police said they put alcohol in the IV tube of the woman's disabled 13-year-old son, killing him. Melissa Robitille and Walter Richter III of Hardwick, Vermont were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Isaac Robitille. Melissa Robitille called police August 22, 2014 to report that Isaac was dead.

     Isaac Robitille was born with significant medical conditions and multiple disabilities that required caretakers, feeding tubes and IV tubes…Robitille and Richter, both 38, were charged with using the IV tube to administer alcohol to the boy, leading to his death. An autopsy by the state medical examiner's office found the victim's blood-alcohol content was 0.146 percent, nearly twice the legal limit for adults to drive.

     Isaac's health conditions included a brain abnormality that was listed as the cause of death, with the alcohol listed as a contributing factor…

"Couple Held in Boy's Alcohol Death," Associated Press, October 8, 2014 

Writing Quote: Don't Blow the First Big Scene in Your Romance Novel

     One of the most critically important moments in the first section of your Romance novel is the first meeting of the hero and heroine. This moment may be the first time the two of them lay eyes on each other. Or it may be their first meeting after a long separation, if they've had a previous relationship. Or they may see each other regularly, but this is the first meeting that is significant to the plot and conflict--the first encounter connected with the event that is going to change their lives.

     This first meeting sets the stage for the interaction of the rest of the book. If the readers don't see it happening, they will feel cheated and left out, and won't likely be involved enough with the characters to want to continue reading.

     Yet many beginning writers tell about the first meeting, rather than show it as it happens. Or they include just a couple of lines of dialogue between hero and heroine, then jump to a scene hours later where the heroine is telling her best friend in five pages of dialogue how gorgeous the hero is. Or they have the hero think about how he reacted to the heroine.

Leigh Michaels, On Writing Romance, 2007 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Writing Quote: The Young Adult Literature Boom

     These days, you don't have to be a parent to be familiar with popular teen book titles like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games or Twilight. These titles have sold millions of copies of books and spawned merchandise empires, been adopted into blockbuster films, and have permeated our pop-culture lives.

     Young adult literature is a booming business and has been one of the fastest growing book categories for publishers in recent years with more than 715 million books sold in 2013…Even though this genre is aimed at audiences 12 to 18, more non-teenagers are picking up these titles. In fact, a 2014 report showed that 77 percent of young adult literature buyers were actually adults, with the largest segment of buyers--43 percent, ages 18 to 29…And given the difficult economic climate the publishing industry has faced over the last few years, more young adult buyers has been a blessing…

Tracy Wholf, "Why Adults are Buzzing About Young Adult Literature," PBS News Hour, October 4, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: Police Sting Teacher Looking For Sex With 15-year-old

     A western Pennsylvania high school choral teacher has been accused of traveling to West Virginia hoping to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex. Instead, police, after monitoring his online attempts, took Daniel McGarvey, 44, into custody.

     McGarvey is a choral teacher at the Laurel Highlands School District near Uniontown. He was arrested Friday October 3, 2014 by Bridgeport, West Virginia police when he arrived there expecting to meet a girl he thought he had contacted online. An investigator had been corresponding with McGarvey after seeing his social media posts soliciting sex…

"Teacher Held in Sex Case," Associated Press, October 7, 2014 

Writing Quote: 19th Century Women Wrote Diary Entries, Not Memoirs

Because they had to preserve the family secrets, nineteenth-century women wrote for themselves as diarists much more frequently than they wrote memoirs. The diary allowed confidences no one else was supposed to hear. The mere act of sitting down to write an autobiography broke the code of female respectability, because doing so required a woman to believe that her direct experience, rather than her relationships with others, was what gave meaning to her life.

Jill Ker Conway, When Memory Speaks, 1998 

Writing Quote: Elements of Humor

     Once you've developed skills in observing humor, you're ready to use basic comic elements. Some jokes are really old, tracing back to medieval times. Despite variations in individual funny bones, however, these jokes have survived for centuries because they work. Certain elements are almost always able to make people laugh.

     Like basic plot structures, you can use the comic elements as dependable foundations for creative adaptation…Here's a starting list: timing, mime, slapstick, repetition, switches, exaggeration, extremes, indecision, convention suspension and wordplay.

Patricia Case in How to Write Funny, John B. Kachuba, editor, 2001 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Militarizing the Coroner's Office

     A Defense Department giveaway program that equips local police with surplus military weapons also supplies guns to government agencies with limited law enforcement powers and a questionable need for high-powered firearms. [The coroner's office doesn't need low-powered guns.]

     An Arkansas Coroner got a rifle, a handgun and a Humvee. Military-grade weapons also have gone to agencies that enforce gaming laws at Kansas tribal casinos, weigh 18-wheelers in Mississippi, and investigate livestock thefts in Wyoming. While most of the weapons go to municipal police departments and county sheriffs [they don't need this stuff either], an Associated Press review of the Pentagon's 1033 Program shows that a diverse array of other state and local agencies have scooped up guns and other military surplus equipment.

"Even a Coroner Gets Surplus Military Guns," Associated Press, October 7, 2014 

Writing Quote: Young Adult and Children's Mystery Novels

One of the problems with thrillers or crime stories where children or young people are the lead characters is that ingenious methods need to be thought up to explain why adults do not take over the whole investigation. A major part of your skill as a children's author of such plot-driven books will be to come up with plausible reasons why your protagonists do not tell any adults what is going on, and concocting events that are viable and reasonable in a world fraught with "stranger dangers."

Allan Frewin Jones and Lesley Pollinger, Writing for Children, 1996 

Whackademia Quote: The First Law School Casualty of the Lawyer Glut

     The Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law publicly announced that it intends to shut down its campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the end of 2014…The announcement makes it the first law school to close amid a severe downturn in applications and enrollment at the nations's approximately 200 law schools…

     Long a major avenue for young Americans aspiring to the upper middle class or seasoned adults seeking a career change, law school has been hit by a crisis that has sent application and matriculation numbers into free fall. The largest factor is a saturation of the legal field, as the country's 204 ABA-accredited law schools produce far more JDs than there are legal jobs open to accept them. Rapidly rising tuition rates and relatively stagnant earnings for lawyers have played a role as well.

     Law school matriculations have declined nationwide (falling from over 50,000 to under 40,000), but Cooley's fall has been exceptionally dramatic. In 2010 the school enrolled 1583 first-year students at its three campuses; by the fall of 2013 that number cratered all the way to 582. Since Cooley relies primarily on tuition dollars to stay open, its shrinking body has wreaked havoc on school finances….

Blake Neff, "Cooley Becomes First Casualty of Law School Crisis," The Daily Caller, October 7, 2014 

Writing Quote: Make Your Fictitious Villains Motivated and Interesting

Readers tend to prefer characters who are at least somewhat sympathetic. In the case of villains, sympathetic is perhaps the wrong word: Understandable is better. Interesting is best of all. The bad guy whose sole reason for blowing up the galaxy is because that's what bad guys do won't be around for a sequel. Even Darth Vader needs motivation. It changes him from a cardboard cutout villain to a three-dimensional character, and three dimensions are far more interesting than two.

Ester M. Friesner in How to Write Funny, John B. Kachuba, editor, 2001 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Whackademia Quote: Bad Timing in Teacher-Student Sex Case

     A Pennsylvania high school substitute English teacher will strand trial on charges she had sex with two 18-yeasr-old students days before they graduated in the Spring of 2014. But defense attorney Michael DeRiso said Tiffany Leiseth, 26, didn't commit a crime because the students were also "adults" under the law and therefore old enough to consent.

     Moon Township police and Allegheny County prosecutors disagree with the defense attorney's interpretation of the law. They argue that the young men, at the time of the alleged offenses, were still students even though classes at New Brighton High School had ended.

     In Pennsylvania, sex between a student and a teacher is a third-degree felony, regardless of the student's age. [The crime carries a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.]

     Tiffany Leiseth no longer works for the school district and will surrender her state teaching license.

"Substitute Teacher Heads to Trial in Student Sex Case," Associated Press, October 2, 2014 

Whackademia Quote: The Big Party at Colorado State University

      Authorities say some people threw bottles and tore down street signs after police encountered a crowd of 300 or 400 students at the scene of a house party near the campus of Colorado State University. No injuries or arrests were reported in the confrontation. Fort Collins police officers responded to the party at eleven at night on Saturday October 4, 2004.

     Police say the officers called for backup, but by the time the other officers arrived most of the crowd had dispersed.

     Fort Collins police were called to the same area in April 2014 when a party of 20 or so people swelled into an unruly crowd of 200.

"Police Find Big Crowd at House Party Near Campus," Associated Press, October 5, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Congressional Impostor Gets Access to the President

     In the midst of several Secret Service scandals, including the ability of an intruder to make it past the front doors of the White House, a new incident has surfaced. A man pretending to be Congressman Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) was able to pass through security and mingle with other lawmakers at an event where the president was speaking.

     The fake congressman was screened for weapons, but it was a White House aide who recognized the man was an impostor. He was forced to leave the premises. Interestingly, the man wasn't stopped by the Secret Service during his exit for further questioning about the incident…

     Following a September 30, 2014 hearing on Capitol Hill, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned. She has been replaced by retired Secret Service agent Joseph Clancy.

"Man Posing as Lawmaker Cons Secret Service Backstage at Obama Speech," Daily News Digest, October 4, 2014  

Writing Quote: Literary Narrative Nonfiction

Narrative nonfiction is hard pressed to compete with concocted tales…Fiction has such built in advantages in its power to imagine inner life and present narratives free of the factual gaps inevitable in true stories. Narrative nonfiction must strive for the literary if it's to have a chance at the audience garnered by important fiction.

Amand Giridharadas, The New York Times Book Review, September 21, 2014 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Fired UPS Employee Kills Two Fellow Workers Then Himself

     Fired a day earlier from UPS, 45-year-old Kerry Joe Tesney put on his work uniform, drove to an Birmingham, Alabama packaging center and evaded security by entering through a truck door in the rear of the warehouse. He shot two UPS employees dead within minutes of entering the building on Tuesday September 23, 2014. Police officers found Tesney in the warehouse lying dead on top of his gun…

     Tesney was married and had two children. The family had been active members of the NorthPark Baptist Church in the Birmingham suburb of Trussville…

     Besides working for UPS, Trasney and his wife were distributors for Advocare, a multi-level marketing company that sells health and fitness products. They have a website advertising the business that says: "Just tell us your needs, your dreams, your desires…and we'll make it happen!"

"Fired UPS Employee Kills 2 Ex-Colleagues," Associated Press, September 24, 2014  

Writing Quote: Why Write Horror Novels?

     I write horror novels because I want to scare sleeping minds awake and expose readers to things they don't already know, so they'll see things they've never seen from viewpoints they've never experienced, and question assumptions they've never questioned…

     Of course some people get grumpy when you wake them, angry when your stories don't validate their beliefs, and uncomfortable if they see something of themselves in the monsters you create. But as Marquis de Sade wrote in response to his critics, "Evil recognizes evil, and the recognition is always painful."

C. Dean Anderson in On Writing Horror, Mort Castle, editor, 2007  

Writing Quote: The Viewpoint Character in Fiction

     Who should narrate (or be your viewpoint character) in fiction? A major character? A minor one? A few characters? What difference does it make? How will it impact the work as a whole?

     Choosing a narrator is not a choice to be made lightly, yet unfortunately many writers make the choice without giving it much thought. Generally, they automatically assign the task to the protagonist. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this choice--in fact, most often, it is the correct one--but problems can arise if the decision was made without taking to time to consider why this person has merit as a narrator, what perspective he has to offer, what he brings to (or how he detracts from) the telling of the story, and how his perspective might differ from others'.

Noah Lukeman, The Plot Thickens, 2002 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Writing Quote: Your Memoir Should Not Be All About You

The subject of your memoir cannot be you. Not you all alone, anyway. A memoir must be about you and something--and that something should usually be your relationship to something interesting and bigger than yourself. With a memoir, until you have found a genuine subject, you will have nothing at all--because "you" are not a subject. Neither are "you" a story.

Stephen Koch, Writer's Workshop, 2003