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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Former Pro Wrestler Kevin Nash and Son Arrested

     Former WWE star Kevin Nash and his 18-year-old son, Tristen Nash, were arrested on December 24, 2014 after getting into a scuffle at their Florida home. Kevin Nash, known as Diesel in the ring, was arrested after police say he got into a physical altercation with his son after the boy came home drunk. Father and son gave the police different accounts of the incident, each blaming the other.

     Tristen Nash claims he and his father got into an argument about the boy's girlfriend and the fact he came home drunk. The 6-foot-10 former wrestler pinned his son to the ground. Kevin Nash told officers that his son had been the aggressor and that he only pinned him to protect his wife…

     Police arrested the father at the scene, but deputies later returned and arrested Tristen after his mother and uncle said he tried to fight with them as well…The family lawyer told reporters that the son was "out of control."

     Kevin Nash and his son were released from the Volusia County Jail without bond.

"Former Wrestling Star Arrested on Battery Charge," CNN, December 25, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Over-The-Hill Sitcom Actor Stabs Man in Bar

     Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell," was charged on Friday December 26, 2014 with stabbing a man during a fight on Christmas day. He faces charges of endangering safety, disorderly conduct, and carrying a concealed weapon…According to the criminal complaint, Diamond told police that he and his fiancee went out to several bars on Thursday night in Port Washington, a town thirty miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The couple got into a tussle with two men and another woman at the Grand Avenue Saloon…

     Port Washington police say they responded at 11:15 PM to a report of a stabbing. When officers caught up with the couple in their SUV down the road from the bar, Diamond said he had held a pen in his hand during the fight. In the vehicle, however, officers found a bloody switchblade knife. At this point Diamond admitted that he had accidentally stabbed the man while trying to defend his fiancee…The victim had been stabbed under the arm and was not seriously injured.

     Diamond appeared in Ozaukee County court where the judge set his bail at $10,000….His fiancee, 27-year-old Amanda Schutz, faces a disorderly conduct charge…

     Since his decade-long run on the TV show, Diamond has been sued several times for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings for missing mortgage payments. He has appeared on reality TV [the graveyard for career-dead celebrities] and most recently produced a tell-all documentary on Lifetime TV called "The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story."

"Saved by the Bell Star Arrested After Stabbing," Associated Press, December 27, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Officers Killed in the Line of Duty in 2014

     The number of law enforcement officers killed by firearms jumped by 56 percent in 2014 and included 15 ambush deaths. But gun-related police deaths still remain far below historic highs and lower that the average annual figures in the past decade, according to a report released Tuesday December 30, 2014.

     The annual report by the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that 50 officers were killed by guns this year. That's higher than the 32 such deaths in 2013 but the same as 2012 figures. In 2011, 73 officers were killed in gunfire, the most of any year in the past decade. The average since 2004 is 55 police deaths annually,

     The report found that 126 federal, local, tribal and territorial officers where killed--from all causes--in the line of duty in 2014. That's a 24 percent jump from last year's 102 on-duty deaths and below the average annual figures since 2004 and the all-time high of 156 in 1973. Of the 126 officer deaths this year, shootings were the leading cause, followed by traffic-related fatalities at 49…

     The states that saw the most officer deaths were California, at 14, Texas, at 11, and New York, at nine. Florida followed with six deaths, and Georgia had five, according to the report. The 15 ambush assaults on police officers this year compares to just five in 2013, but matched 2012 for the highest since 1995….

"Report: Police Gun Deaths Up, Still Below Average," Associated Press, December 30, 2014 

Writing Quote: The how-to article

Some kinds of writing are more debilitating than others, and it took me years to learn which, for me, is which. Instructional writing--the pure how-to article--is the worst.

John Jerome, Writing Trade, 1992

Writing Quote: Successful Literary Journalism

To produce successful literary journalism or creative nonfiction, the writer must achieve two goals: journalistic credibility and artistic merit.

Mark Masse, Writer's Digest, March 2002 

Writing Quote: Hunter S.Thompson's Gonzo Journalism

New journalism is a term that Tom Wolfe has been trying to explain, on the lecture stump, for more than five years and the reason he's never been able to properly define "new journalism" is that it never actually existed, except maybe in the minds of people with a vested interest in the "old journalism"--editors, professors and book reviewers who refused to understand that some of the country's best young writers no longer recognized "the line" between fiction and journalism.

Hunter S. Thompson in Hunter S. Thompson: The Gonzo Letters, edited by Douglas Brinkley, 2000

Writing Quote: The Effect of Narrative Nonfiction Books on the Novel

What I remember about my first years as a published novelist is how eager publishers were, in those early days, for new fiction. This may have been because there was no New Journalism yet--once it appeared it dealt fiction a kind of double whammy, since the New Journalists used many of the techniques of fiction while keeping the appeal of fact.

Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, 1999

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Flagstaff Man Kills Police Officer

     A police officer in Flagstaff, Arizona was killed Saturday afternoon December 27, 2014 while investigating a domestic violence case…The gunman then fatally shot himself…The officer, Tyler Jacob Stewart, 24, was the first Flagstaff officer to die in the line of duty in 13 years and only the second fatality in the history of the department…

     Officer Stewart was investigating the case on the west side of Flagstaff when a man opened fire. Officer Steward was struck several times…The gunman was identified as Robert W. Smith of Prescott, an Arizona town 90 miles southwest of Flagstaff.

     Officer Stewart was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center where he died shortly upon arrival…Officials reported that the officer had not been able to return fire…Investigators do not know why Mr. Smith killed the police officer. Officer Stewart had been on the force less than a year…

     The last Flagstaff police killing occurred in 2001….

"Man Fatally Shoots Arizona Officer, Then Kills Himself, Police Say," The New York Times, December 27, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Arrested for "Feeding the Pigs"

Police in Massachusetts arrested a woman who smeared uncooked bacon and sausage onto a police station dispatch window offering to "feed the pigs." A Framingham Lieutenant told reporters that Lindsay McNamara entered the station Friday morning December 26, 2014 carrying a Dunkin' Donuts box of raw bacon and sausage. She approached an officer with a "great smile on her face" and said she was there to "feed the pigs." The officer said she took the meat from the box and smeared it on the window. She was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property. The judge ordered a psychiatric examination of the suspect.

"Woman Smeared Bacon on Police Station Window," The Boston Herald, December 28, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Targeting the Police

     Two Los Angeles police officers were shot at Sunday night December 28, 2014 while they drove their patrol car…The officers returned fire…No one was injured in the exchange. One suspect was arrested in possession of a rifle, the other remained at large…

     That Sunday there was a second incident involving police officers who were fired at. This shooting took place in Pasco County, Florida. Someone fired three shots at two sheriff's deputies as they sat in their patrol car. According to a sheriff's office spokesperson, "Both deputies heard the whizzing sound of each projectile. The officers did not see the shooter or the vehicle from which the shots were fired."…

     These two police targeting incidents occurred after New York police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down in their patrol car on December 20, 2014….

"Officers Shot At in Florida and Los Angeles," CNN, December 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

     If you want to write or illustrate books for kids, the number one piece of advice you're going to hear is "Join the SCBWI." I'll bet money on it.

     SCBWI stands for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a world-wide organization that links together those who want to create content for kids. There are many regional chapters in the United States, and plenty internationally as well. The group holds meetings, has annual conferences (both regional and national) and provides both a support system as well as a wealth of online resources.

Chuck Sambuchino in Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Writing Quote: The Art Book

Today, art-book publishing is blooming in a desert. Despite ever-dwindling nourishment from sales, it is a golden age in terms of both the number of titles available and their impressive quality. No single factor explains this paradox, but if we examine the list, we do see trends. The most important may be the uncoupling of art publishing from trade book-selling. As rising exhibition attendance led to increased in-house book sales, museums and galleries came to regard trade partners as superfluous. Relying on university and specialty book distributors, they began to replace trade houses at the center of art publishing. Relatively inexpensive page-makeup software helped turn books into appealing and versatile vehicles for promotion and marketing as well as creative expression by artists and designers. Traditional forms, like artist monographs and broad art-historical surveys, became rare.

Christopher Finch, Bookforum, Dec/Jan, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Comic Novel

Comic novels often offend as many people as they please because each reader's capacity for tolerating irreverence is different; what seems tame to one reader seems right to another, what seems corrosive to one reader seems hilarious to another.

Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, 2005

Writing Quotes: Keeping Both a Personal and Writer's Journal

If you have not been keeping a journal or diary, it is time to start one--or a couple of them. There is a personal journal where you write your innermost feelings about life, often in a spirited, free-writing, spontaneous fashion. Then there is a writer's journal, where you record your thoughts and ideas about your writing work. In a writer's journal you conduct an ongoing, spontaneous dialogue with yourself about writing, developing the subjects and ideas you intend to or are actually writing about. I compare a writer's journal to an artist's sketchbook. It is where the masterpiece begins.

Lee Gutkind, The Art of Creative Nonfiction, 1997 

Writing Quote: The Scope of Science Fiction

One of the hallmarks of science fiction is its intense originality. Science Fiction has few limits on topics or scope, and has wandered far into speculation about the future, future societies, and technological change. Along the way, science fiction writers have explored fiction's classic themes of life and death, human failure, and challenges intrinsic to any worthwhile story. To catch an editor's eye, you must have something different in your story, something you handle especially well--a vivid character, an intriguing background, a compelling theme.

Paula E. Downing in The Writer's Handbook, edited by Sylvia K. Burack, 1994 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Death Penalty Remains Popular in Oklahoma

     The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in April 2014 and other troubling executions in Ohio and Arizona gave capital punishment opponents a flicker of hope that areas of the country that most enthusiastically support the death penalty might have a change of heart. They didn't.

     Although Governor Mary Fallin suspended further executions so that Lockett's death and Oklahoma's methods could be reviewed, the state held what amounted to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its overhauled death chamber only months later and is scheduled to resume killing inmates in mid-January 2015. And rather than causing states to question whether capital punishment is just or worth the risk of subjecting someone to a potentially agonizing death, the prolonged executions and problems states have had securing lethal injection drugs have led them to explore new and more efficient ways of killing, including gassing inmates…

     Lockett's execution did little or nothing to dampen support for the death penalty in deeply conservative Oklahoma which has killed more inmates than any other state except Texas since the 1976 reinstatement of the death penalty. In October 2014, officials gave media tours of the renovated execution unit at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, which got a $104,000 overhaul after Lockett's death and now stands in sharp contrast to the rest of the shabby, 106-year-old facility.

     Not content with just the upgrades to the prison and lethal injection equipment, though, Oklahoma's House of Representatives conducted a study on the use of nitrogen gas to execute inmates and is expected to consider legislation early next year that would make Oklahoma the first state to adopt hypoxia by gas--the forced deprivation of oxygen--as a legal execution method…

     Tennessee passed a law in 2014 to reinstate the electric chair if it can't get lethal injection drugs and Utah is considering bringing back the firing squad.

     Oklahoma has executed 194 inmates since achieving statehood in 1907, including one by hanging, 82 by electrocution and 111 by lethal injection….

Sean Murphy, "Death Penalty States Unmoved by Botched Execution," Associated Press, December 27, 2014 

The Memoir and Autobiography Genres

     How many people take themselves seriously enough, or think they are important or interesting enough, to write a memoir or an autobiography? Judging from bookstore inventories, a lot of people. One would be hard-pressed to name a well-known politician, entertainment figure, television talking-head, professional athlete, or writer who has not written (or had ghost-written) a memoir. But celebrity types are not the only ones who feel compelled to write their life stories, or about specific events in their lives. Ordinary people who have accomplished unusual or exceptional feats; been involved in catastrophic events; had interesting jobs or professions; dealt with serious physical or emotional illness; or have overcome personal problems such as drug addiction, alcoholism, bad marriages, and criminal injustice, write memoirs.

     Sociologist Diane Bjorkland, in her book, Interpreting the Self (1998), makes the point that the memoir/autobiography has, over the years, gained stature as a literary form. She writes: "...autobiographies, as a record of how people have interpreted and explained their lives, are full of rich material for theorists. They are much more than straightforward attempts at personal histories; they are an amalgam of cultural ideas, scruples, rhetoric, and self-presentation. As literary scholars in the last half of the twentieth century have increasingly recognized this complexity, they have shifted from their former neglect of autobiography as an 'artless literature of face' to an appreciation of autobiography as 'imaginative art.' "

Writing Quote: The Nonfiction Hardback Bestseller

     The most popular nonfiction authors of our day might be characterized by a certain overconfident swagger, the modern prerequisite for mattering in a mixed-up, insecure world. More often than not, these "authors"aren't authors at all, in the strict sense of carefully pondering their ideas and diction and lovingly crafting an argument sturdy yet supple enough to carry their work over to a mass readership. In place of the William Whytes, Vance Packards, and Betty Friedans of earlier, more confident chapters of our national bestsellerdom, we have promoted a generation of alternately jumpy and anxious shouters. Generally these public figures fall into one of two categories: television personalities who have hired hands to cobble together their sound bites; and middling non-writers suffering from extended delusions of grandeur. When it comes to hardcover nonfiction, a realm in which books are physical objects, plunked down on coffee tables as signifiers or comfort totems, Americans don't seem to be looking for authors or writers or artists so much as lifestyle brands in human form: placeholder thinkers whose outrage, sense of irony, or general dystopian worldview matches their own, whether it is Glenn Beck, Barack Obama, or Chelsa Handler.

      It's a glum corollary of such market forces that these very popular nonfiction books aren't books in the traditional sense of the word so much as aspirational impulse buys. They imbue their owners with a feeling of achievement and well-being upon purchase, a feeling that crucially does not require the purchaser to actually sit and read the book in question. Substantive, thoughtful books might pervade other lists (e-book, trade paperback, etc.), but when it comes to the top position on the hardcover nonfiction roster, accessory books by high-profile bloviators typically dominate from Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot to Ann Coulter's Godless to Edward Klein's The Amateur to Dinesh D'Souza's America. 

Heather Havrilesky, "Mansplanation Nation," Bookforum, Dec/Jan, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Immigrant as a Literary Protagonist

During the late 1990s, we saw the rise of a new literary subject: the postcolonial immigrant. In the metropoles of the North Atlantic--in London and New York, Paris and Toronto--the protagonist emerged: a parvenu, an outsider with a sturdy work ethic, a grocer or taxi driver seeking to make it in his or her new home. There were geographical variations, but central to these narratives was the direction of movement. The postcolonial subject moved from the outside in, from the former colony to the metropole, from beyond to the imperial center. Gatsby-like, he or she often tested the outer limits of the American dream--that still regnant myth about capitalist self-making. The narrative arc was that of the arriviste: a story not only of assimilation and the arduous passage toward citizenship but also of accumulation and the trials of "making it."

David Marcus, "Dangling Man," Bookforum, Dec/Jan, 2015 

Writing Quote: Writing a Science Fiction Novel That Includes a Mystery Plot

Science fiction readers are frequently also mystery fans, and books that combine a science fiction setting with a mystery plot range from more or less straightforward detective stores with a future setting to uncompromising science fiction stories that have solving a mystery as a key plot element.

Peter Hack in Science Fiction Writer's Market Place and Sourcebook, edited by David G. Tompkins, 1994 

Writing Quote: John Steinbeck's Journal

Here is the diary of a book [The Grapes of Wrath] and it will be interesting to see how it works out. I have tried to keep diaries before but they don't work out because of the necessity to be honest. In matters where there is no definite truth, I gravitate toward the opposite. Sometimes where there is definite truth, I am revolted by its smugness and do the same. In this however, I shall try simply to keep a record of working days and the amount done in each and the success (as far as I can know it) of the day. Just now the work goes well. It is nearly the first of June [1938].

John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel, 1969 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Shoplifter Fakes Heart Attack While His Accomplice Steals Toys

     Tarus Scott, 30, and Genard Dupree, 27, were arrested Tuesday December 16, 2014 after a surveillance camera in Walmart in Lake Wales, Florida, captured their shoplifting stunt on tape…The video showed the suspects walking through the store together. Suddenly, Dupree laid on the ground near the entrance and clutches his chest, pretending to have a heart attack.

     When other shoppers saw Dupree on the ground, they tried to help him while Scott allegedly helped himself to $369 worth of toys…Once Scott was out of the store, Dupree got up, brushed himself off, and walked out as well. Both men were seen getting into a silver sport utility vehicle…Police picked up the suspects a short time later and charged them each with grand theft…

     Both Scott and Dupree have extensive criminal backgrounds and Scott was recently released after serving 10 years in state prison. [Apparently ten years wasn't enough.]

"Man Fakes Heart Attack So Accomplice Can Steal Toys," huffingtonpost.com, December 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction as Realistic Fiction

Years ago Sir Arthur C. Clarke commented that he preferred reading science fiction because it's the only realistic fiction--by which he meant that it's the only one that incorporates the concept that the world is changing and being changed by human activities.

James Gunn, LJworld.com, 2006 

Writing Quote: Perfect Romance Heroines Are Off-Putting

I feel that a character's flaws are what allows the reader to relate to her. I'm well-known for not being a fan of the "perfect" heroine. Our admiration may be aroused by perfection, but that is a distant emotion. Empathy comes from a shared sense of humanity, and that's what interests me. The flaws that I choose are flaws that interest me; flaws that seem to challenge the character is some way.

Laura Kinsale, likesbooks.com, 2003

Writing Quote: Not All Writers Want to Write About Themselves

Some writers never write about themselves because they are private, or because they do not believe it is possible for one to say anything objectively truthful or valid about oneself.

Deena Metzger, Writing For Your Life, 1992 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Writing Quote: Voltaire's Science Fiction Novel

When it became known that the earth was only one of a family of planets circling the sun, the question arose: was there life on other planets? Many later speculated about this. In his Micromegas (1752), the French writer Voltaire brought to earth an eight-mile-high visitor from Sirus and a slightly smaller native of Saturn. Because of their size, these beings found it hard to decide whether there was intelligent life on earth.

L. Sprague de Camp, 3000 Years of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1972 

Writing Quote: E.B. White's Journals

My journals date from about 1917 to about 1930, with a few entries of more recent date. They occupy two-thirds of a whiskey carton. How many words that would be I have no idea, but it would be an awful lot. The journals are callow, sententious, moralistic, and full of rubbish. They are also hard to ignore. They were written sometimes in longhand, sometimes typed (single typed). They contain many clippings. Extensive is the word for them. I do not hope to publish them, but I would like to get a little mileage out of them. After so many years, they tend to hold my attention even though they do not excite my admiration. I have already dipped into them on a couple of occasions, to help out on a couple of pieces.

E. B. White, The Second Tree From the Corner, 1954 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Nonfiction Novel

     Time Magazine's all-time best nonfiction list--a selection so politically correct it's virtually useless as a reading guide--contains just two books about murder. Both works, Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood can be found under the subcategory "Nonfiction Novels."  This begs the question: how can a novel, a work of fiction, be a work of nonfiction? Isn't the term "nonfiction novel" a contradiction?

     Al Dewey, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation detective in charge of the 1959 Clutter family murder, the Holcomb, Kansas mass killing upon which In Cold Blood is based, told my friend and colleague, Dr. John Kelly at the University of Delaware, that Capote's account is more fiction than fact. According to Dewey, Capote altered the story's chronology, created composite characters, and invented scenes and dialogue. While Capote based his book on the Clutter case, he intended it as a novel, and that was how it was published. So what is this book doing on Time Magazine's nonfiction list? Perhaps the list's compilers, unfamiliar with the true crime genre, had to include a couple of crime books by well-known novelists. At any rate, just how much liberty can a nonfiction writer take before his book slips into the fiction genre? This is a debate that has gone on for decades.

     Doris Ricker Marston, in A Guide to Writing History, defines what is alternatively referred to as narrative nonfiction, creative nonfiction, literary journalism and the new journalism as: "...a dramatic presentation of true reporting. There are real characters moving as they actually did in the events that actually took place, and with action dramatically presented."

     Book-length practitioners of this genre include Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Joseph Wambaugh and Tom Wolfe. While Truman Capote claimed to have invented the "nonfiction novel," as Anthony Arthur points out in his book, Literary Feuds, others before him--Thomas Carlyle, Lytton Stachey, John Hersey, Alan Moorehead, Shelby Foote and Ernest Hemingway--had applied novelistic techniques to nonfiction. In his introductory essay to New Journalism, an anthology of narrative nonfiction work, Tom Wolfe predicted that literary nonfiction would replace "the novel as the number one literary genre, starting the first new direction in American letters in half a century." While the genre has gained respect and now outstrips the literary novel in the marketplace, it has not dethroned its fictional counterpart as a form of literary art.

     The following quotes about literary nonfiction are from professional authors who write in the genre:

Creative nonfiction requires the skills of the storyteller and the research ability of the conscientious reporter. Writers of creative nonfiction must become instant authorities on the subjects of their articles or books. They must not only understand the facts and report them using quotes from authorities, they must also see beyond them to discover their underlying meaning, and they must dramatize that meaning in an interesting, evocative, informative way--just as a good teacher does.
Theodore A. Rees Cheney

Some people criticize nonfiction writers for "appropriating" the techniques and devices of fiction writing. These techniques, except for invention of characters and detail, never belonged to fiction. They belong to storytelling.
Tracy Kidder

Creative nonfiction demands spontaneity and an imaginative approach, while remaining true to the validity and integrity of the information it contains. That is why the creative nonfiction form is so appealing to people with new ideas or fresh interpretations of accepted concepts in history, science, or the arts; people with an intellectual curiosity about the world around us or a fresh viewpoint or approach.
Lee Gutkind

Story-driven nonfiction is extraordinarily successful, and there's a huge market for it now. I think it's partly because when you publish a nonfiction book, especially one that's story driven as opposed to didactic or scholarly, you can target the market in an easier way.
Charlie Conrad

Creative nonfiction is frequently about people. We're all curious about how other people live, what they do, and how they think.
Rita Berman

...for the nonfiction-novel form to be entirely successful, the author should not appear in the work.
Truman Capote

I certainly always use novelistic techniques, but I also felt that the boundaries between fact and fiction should never be blurred.
Tom Wolfe

The line between truth and fiction has become so blurred that the public no longer knows what to expect.
Jack Olsen

I very often will have The Orchid Thief [a nonfiction book] referred to as a novel, and it drives me crazy.
Susan Orlean

    

Writing Quote: Difficulties in True Crime Writing

The tools I have used for my writing career have been my ability to interview people and get them to tell me the truth, and my abilities as an investigative reporter. I might spend weeks verifying some little fact that is just going to be great in my book--it's going to be a little spark. Fiction writers don't need to spend weeks looking for the little spark--they invent it. I write about real people, real Americans getting into trouble, getting out of it, going to the penitentiary, going to the electric chair, being murdered, being saved. And it's all true.

Margaret DiCanio in The 3rd Degree, October 1997 

Writing Quote: Children's Books Are Not Watered Down Adult Literature

Children's books are not watered down adult books. They demand certain abilities of their authors, not the least of which is that of being able to tap into the minds and souls of young people and to project the voice of those people to the reader. You, as an experienced adult, have to see things objectively and yet have the ability to recall feelings and attitudes and viewpoints of your early years to the point that you can write about children convincingly.

Barbara Seuling, How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published, 1991

Writing Quote: The Mainstream Novel

Authors often believe that if a novel can only be categorized "mainstream" that it will automatically ship to stores in large quantities and sell to customers in big numbers. That belief is naive. So-called mainstream novels can sell in tiny numbers. That is even more true in the category of literary fiction. Authors with such labels face a double struggle in building their audience. For one thing, they cannot tap into the popularity of an existing genre. They must build from the ground up, creating a category where none existed before--their own. It can be a tough job.

Donald Maass, The Career Novelist, 2001 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Writing Quote: Isaac Asimov on Writing Science Fiction

I can write nonfiction science without thinking because it requires no thought. I already know it. Science fiction, however, is far more delicate a job and requires the deeper and most prolonged thought.

Isaac Asimov, I Asimov, 1996 

Writing Quote: Theodore Dreiser on American Literary Criticism

To sit up and criticize me for saying "vest" instead of "waistcoat"; to talk about my splitting the infinitive and using vulgar commonplaces here and there, when the tragedy of a man's life is being displayed, is silly. More, it is ridiculous. It makes me feel that American criticism is the joke that English authorities maintain it to be.

Theodore Dreiser in Theodore Dreiser, by Phillip L. Gerber, 1964 

Writing Quote: The First Whodunit

Literary murders are as old as the book of Genesis. But no one before Edgar Allan Poe, as far as we know, ever wrote a story in which the central plot question was "who did it?" and the hero was a detective [C. Auguste Dupin] who correctly deduced the answer to that question.

William G. Tapply, The Elements of Mystery Fiction, 1995

Writing Quote: Children Like the Sound of Words

Most children enjoy the sound of language for its own sake. They wallow in repetitions and luscious word-sounds and the crunch and slither of onomatopoeia [words that sound like what they mean], they fall in love with impressive words and use them in all the wrong places.

Ursula K. LeGuin, Steering the Craft, 1998 

Writing Quote: Susan Sontag on the Perversity of the Novel

Notoriously, women tolerate qualities in a lover--moodiness, selfishness, unreliability, brutality--that they would never countenance in a husband, in return for excitement, and infusion of intense feeling…Perversity is the muse of modern literature. Today the house of fiction is full of mad lovers, gleeful rapists, castrated sons--but very few husbands.

Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation, 1969 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Elmore Leonard on Writing

     On August 20, 2013, the famed crime novelist Elmore Leonard died at his home in Bloomfield Village, Michigan. He was 87. In 200l Leonard wrote an article for New York Times entitled, "Writers on Writing: Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle." In this now classic piece, Leonard set out ten basic rules "that I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story..." His ten rules:

1) Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long....

2) Avoid prologues. They can be annoying, especially following an introduction that comes after a foreword....

3) Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue....

4) Never us an adverb to modify the verb "said"...he admonished gravely....

5) Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words....

6) Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."...

7) Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly....

8) Avoid detailed descriptions of characters....

9) Don't go into great detail describing places and things....

10) Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptdoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking about or doesn't care....

Criminal Justice Quote: Boy Drowns in Murky Day Care Pool

     A former Philadelphia day care owner pleaded guilty in the drowning death of a boy who attended her unlicensed center. Tianna Edwards, 32, faces up to 22 years in prison…She pleaded guilty on December 18, 2014 to involuntary manslaughter and lesser charges. Prosecutors say it took police nine hours to find 7-year-old Isear Jeffcoat's body in the murky backyard pool at her mother's house.

     According to the police, Tianna Edwards, in June 2012, dropped off 20 children for a swim then left the house. Before pleading guilty to the criminal homicide charge, Edwards had pleaded guilty to improperly taking $1.4 million in day care payments. The judge sentenced her to five years on that charge.

     With regard to the involuntary manslaughter charge, her lawyer said Edwards had pleaded guilty to take responsibility for what he called a "tragic accident." [Letting children swim unsupervised in a filthy pool was not an "accident."]

     Authorities say Edwards hid her criminal record to open Tianna's Terrific Tots day care center and spent government payments on gambling and personal expenses.

"Day Care Owner Pleads in Boy's Death in Murky Pool," Associated Press, December 19, 2014

Writing Quote: Who Buys True Crime Books?

The main audience for true crime works is generally the middle class with more women than men buying the books. There is also a fairly strong teen market, and books of regional interest have specialized markets. For example, both Texas and the Pacific Northwest are strong locales for the true crime market.

Vicky Munro, crimeculture.com, 2000

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Versus the Fantasy Genre

If the story is set in a universe that follows the same rules as ours, it's science fiction. If it's set in a universe that doesn't follow our rules, it's fantasy. [It's the rocket ship versus the magic carpet.]

Orson Scott Card, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1990

Writing Quote: What To Do If You Want to Write a Novel

If you want to write a novel, the best thing you can do is take two aspirins, lie down in a dark room, and wait for the feeling to pass.

Lawrence Block, Writing the Novel, 1985 

Writing Quote: Appreciating the Novel

Willing suspension of disbelief is a strange state of mine--reading nonfiction does not require it and neither does reading poetry, since both are based on logical argument…The world is full of people who are rather proud that they don't read novels. Publishers often lament that the audience for novels is narrowing, and especially that it is losing men. A literary education not only enlarges a readers' willingness to suspend disbelief by extending her range of pleasures, it also strengthens her ability to enter the meditative state, and to be receptive to the influence of another human mind, because it is a state of contemplation that is essential to the true appreciation of the novel.

Jane Smiley, 13 Ways at Looking at the Novel, 2005 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Writing Quote: The Semicolon

A semicolon can be called in when a comma is not enough. There are times when a comma is already used too much in one sentence, when it can't do its job effectively anymore. There are also times when multiple thoughts in a sentence need more separation than merely a comma, need more time and space to be digested. But a period is sometimes too strong, provides too much separation. The semicolon can step in and save the day, allow a more substantial pause while not severing thoughts completely.

Noah Lukeman, A Dash of Style, 2006

Writing Quote: Writers of Puffed-Up "Literary" Fiction Get Undeserved Respect

Now it is the unassuming storyteller who is reviled, while mediocrities who puff themselves up to produce gabby "literary" fiction are guaranteed a certain respect, presumably for aiming high.

B.R. Myers, Reader's Manifesto, 2002 

Writing Quote: Stephen King of Good Fiction

Good fiction always begins with story and progresses to theme; it almost never begins with theme and progresses to story.

Stephen King, On Writing, 2000

Writing Quote: Believable Fantasy

I learned years ago from Lester del Ray that the secret to writing good fantasy is to make certain it relates to what we know about our own world. Readers must be able to identify with the material in such a way that they recognize and believe the core truths of the storytelling. It doesn't matter if you are writing epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, dark urban fantasy, comic fantasy, or something else altogether, there has to be truth in the material. Otherwise readers are going to have a tough time suspending disbelief long enough to stay interested.

Terry Brooks, Sometimes The Magic Works, 2003

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: U.S. Secret Service Breaks Counterfeiting Case

     A man residing in Kampala, Uganda was charged in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania of leading an international counterfeit currency operation. The U.S. Attorney's office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Secret Service filed a criminal complaint in Pittsburgh on December 18, 2014 against 27-year-old Ryan Andrew Gustafson, aka Jack Farrel and Willy Clock…

     While living in the U.S., Gustafson resided primarily in Texas and Colorado, but allegedly rented a postal box at the UPS Store on Pittsburgh's South Side for some of his operations. The Secret Service began investigating the passing of counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes believed to have been manufactured in Uganda. The phony bills were passed in retail and businesses in Pittsburgh…

     Agents determined that Gustafson had passed the notes. The federal investigators also learned that on February 19, 2014 the suspect received three packages from Beyond Computers in Kampala, Uganda…Secret Service agents searched the packages and found $7,000 in counterfeit $100, $50 and $20 notes in two hidden compartments inside one of the packaging envelopes. A fingerprint on a document inside one of the packages belonged to Gustafson…

     A search of Gustafson's residence turned up two million Ugandan shillings, $180,420 in counterfeit bills, and counterfeit denominations of several other countries…

     The U.S. Secret Service estimates $1.8 million in counterfeit Federal Reserve Notes have been seized and passed in Uganda. The total amount of counterfeit money made in Uganda was about $270,000…

     United States law provides for a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison for counterfeiting….

"Man Charged in Counterfeit Money Scheme," Associated Press, December 19, 2014  

Criminal Justice Quote: Dead Infants Found in Abandoned Storage Unit

     A mother is under investigation after sheriff's deputies found the remains of two infants in a storage locker in Placer County, California. In November 2014, Placer County resident Regina Zimmer purchased the abandoned storage unit in an auction. Inside the locker she detected a foul odor coming from a container. "We opened it up, and the smell that came out was horrible," she said. "It was a little skull. It looked like it was in three pieces with some hair. And you could see a jawbone."

     Investigators said the previous owner of the storage unit had defaulted on the rent, leaving the inventory untouched for several months--including the remains of two babies. "The remains were in very poor condition," said Lieutenant John Poretti with the Placer County Sheriff's Department. "I mean, there was no easy way to tell exactly what we had."

     The container was taken to the Placer County morgue for autopsies on both babies to determine the causes of their deaths….

"Remains of Infants Found in Colfax Storage," kcra.com, December 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Traditional Fantasy Milieu

At the heart of most traditional fantasy milieu is a culture derived from that of the European Middle Ages, in large part the medieval societies of what are now Great Britain, France and Germany. The culture is a synthesis of both the Roman culture that dominated western Europe for some five centuries and of the Germanic culture that eventually overran and absorbed it. Three major institutions formed the basis of medieval society and dictated how most people lived. These were feudalism, manorialism and Christianity.

Michael J. Varbola in The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference, edited by the editors of Writer's Digest Books, 1998 

Writing Quote: In Writing for Children Don't Put Theme Over Plot

The goal in writing popular books for both adults and children is identical: Fiction is entertainment. Your children's book should not be designed to teach a lesson, send a message, or expound upon a moral theme. A theme, such as honesty is the best policy or perseverance pays, may be implicit in the storyline, but the point should be made subtly by the outcome of the plot.

Sam McCarver in The Writer's Handbook, edited by Alfrieda Abbe, 2004 

Writing Quote: The Demise of Literary Fiction

I think literary fiction has fallen prey to campus navel gazing and has lost touch with ordinary humanity. And it has the audience to prove it.

Jack Hart in Telling the Story by Peter Rubie, 2003

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: TV Star Confesses to Sex Crimes

     "7th Heaven" TV star Stephen Collins has admitted to inappropriate sexual contact with three female minors…The actor released a statement amid child molestation accusations that arose in his divorce proceedings.

     Collins was the subject of reports in October 2014 after his wife, Faye Grant, said he admitted to her he molested three underage girls. TMZ posted an audio recording that was alleged to have been made during a November 2012 therapy session involving Collins and his wife during which he made incriminating statements…

     The incidents reportedly happened between 1973 and 1994.

     "Forty years ago, I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret…I have been working to atone for it ever since. I've decided to address these issues publicly because two months ago, various news organizations published a recording made by my then wife, Faye Grant, during a confidential marriage therapy session in January 2012. This session was recorded without the therapist's or my knowledge or consent," Collins wrote.

     Collins, 67, was known for his clean-cut image in Hollywood and played a pastor and beloved father on the hit show "7th Heaven," He's avoided the limelight since the accusations were made public….

" '7th Heaven' Actor Stephen Collins: 'I Did Something Terribly Wrong,' " CNN, December 17, 2014 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Fans

I think science fiction, along with jazz, is America's great contribution to world culture. It's as great as jazz, as profligate, and wonderful. What disappoints me about it is that most of its practitioners have not been as good as they should have been, and the fact that science fiction emerged as a genre of commercial literature, forced to make adjustments and compromises to accommodate a mass audience, which was not its aesthetic interest. I don't segregate myself from those who do so. The readership has contributed to this debasement, I suppose, but any readership does. Norman Spinrod said the worst thing about science fiction is fandom. I don't disagree with that at all. Fandom has destroyed some authors. The need to be a hero.

Barry N. Malzberg, The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady, 1980 

Writing Quote: Jim Thompson's True Crime Writing Tips

True crime stories must be post-trial, with the perpetrators convicted and sentenced at the conclusion…Use active writing, avoid passive constructions. Remember that detectives probe, dig up, determine, deduce, seek out, ascertain, discover, hunt, root out, delve, uncover, track, trace, and inspect. They also canvass, inquire, question, and quiz.

Jim Thompson in Savage Art by Robert Polito, 1995

Writing Quote: Creativity

Many writers are reluctant to talk about the creative process--that is, how and where they get their talent, ideas, and inspiration to write. Many deny that talent is an inborn phenomenon while others ridicule the notion that writers have to be inspired to create. Perhaps creativity is less a mystery than lack of creativity is. When a reader tells a writer that he can't imagine how one can produce a book, some writers may wonder how one cannot.

Thornton P. Knowles, The Psychology of Writing, 1976 

Writing Quote: The Children's Book Writer Must Identify With His Intended Reader

Before you begin to write your children's book, make sure that you are clear in your own mind whether you are writing about children, or for them. Do you have a reader in prospect? If there is any doubt or ambiguity about this, your work will suffer. If you try to write for children, but hope that adults will be reading the book, too, an element of insincerity is almost certain to slip into your style.

Joan Aiken, The Way to Write for Children, 1999

Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing Quote: Young Readers Have Different Tastes Than Adults

Children and adolescents have their own distinctive ideas concerning humor, politics, and prose, and their tastes in these matters may strike older readers as sophomoric, gauche, ill-informed, or just dead wrong. Conversely, the young have a way of noticing that good manners can be oppressive, that the past is often irrelevant, and that emperors are sometimes naked. In short, the young are not lesser beings; they're just different.

Thomas M. Disch, The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of, 1998 

Writing Quote: Don't Interview Subjects in Restaurants

When I do interviews, I never take my subjects to a restaurant for lunch. It's one of the worst things a journalist can do. Stay on their turf. Interview them in their world. If they say, "Now I've got to go and pick up my kids from day care and go to the grocery store," you say, "Great. I can write while we're on the bus." I'm not just hearing their stories. I'm watching them live. I find my truth in what they say and how they live.

Katherine Boo in Telling True Stories, edited by Wendy Call, 2007 

Writing Quote: Raymond Carver on the Writer's Voice

The writer's voice is akin to style, but it isn't style alone. It is the writer's particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There's plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to his way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.

Raymond Carver in On Writing Short Stories, edited by Tom Bailey, 2000

Writing Quote: Punctuation and Style

The benefits of punctuation for the creative writer are limitless, if you know how to tap them. You can, for example, create a stream-of-consciousness effect using periods; indicate a passing of time using commas; add complexity using parentheses; create a certain form of dialogue using dashes; build to a revelation using colons; increase your pace using paragraph breaks; keep readers hooked using section breaks. This--its impact on content--is the holy grail of punctuation, too often buried in long discussions of grammar.

Noah Lukeman, A Dash of Style, 2006 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Is Former NFL Star Darren Sharper a Serial Rapist?

     Former New Orleans Saints football player Darren Sharper has been indicted by an Orleans Parish grand jury on two counts of aggravated rape…Sharper's indictment stems from an alleged incident in September 2013. According to a police report, the rape happened in the Warehouse District on September 23, 2013 at ten in the morning. Later, police said a second victim claimed she was raped by Sharper and another man in the same apartment…

     Sharper, who remains in a Los Angeles jail, is under investigation for eight rapes and 11 druggings in Louisiana, Nevada, Arizona, and California. He is being held without bond in Los Angeles as he awaits two rape charges there. He also has been formally charged in two rapes in Tempe, Arizona.

     The 38-year-old Sharper spent 14 years in the NFL as a safety. He played for the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and then the Saints. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection. He retired in 2010.

"Darren Sharper Indicted on Rape Allegations in New Orleans,"  USA Today, December 12, 2014 

Writing Quote: Choosing the Right Vocabulary For a Children's Book

As adults, we often forget that children can comprehend more than they can articulate, and we end up communicating to them below their level, leaving them bored. Or, the opposite can happen: children are growing up faster than we did and act very sophisticated although their vocabulary skills are underdeveloped. Striking the balance between writing below or above their level is tricky.

Alijandra Mogilner, Children's Writer's Word Book, 1999

Writing Quote: Don't Write a Memoir to Preserve Your Memories

My advice to memoir writers is to embark upon a memoir for the same reason that you would embark on any other book: to fashion a text. Don't hope in a memoir to preserve your memories. If you prize your memories as they are, by all means avoid writing a memoir. It is a certain way to lose them. You can't put together a memoir without cannibalizing your own life for parts. The work replaces your memories.

Annie Dillard in Inventing the Truth, edited by William Zinsser, 1998 

Writing Quote: The Need for Commas

There are two types of writers who underuse commas: the first is the unsophisticated writer who has not developed an ear for sentence rhythm. He is unable to hear fine distinctions, and thinks writing is solely about conveying information. He will need to spend time reading classic writers and train himself to hear the music of language. The second is the sophisticated writer who has an aversion to commas and underuses them on purpose. There are numerous writers who rebel against the overuse of punctuation, and more often than not they find a target in the poor comma. The danger for these writers is the rare problem of overestimating the reader. Unless a reader is accustomed to reading twelfth-century clerical texts, he will want at least some commas, some pauses laid out for him. There is a need for marks--especially commas--to indicate ebbs and flows, pauses and pitch, division of clauses and meaning. The writer who ignores this is the writer who writes for himself, not with the reader in mind. He will not be a commercial writer, or plot oriented, but prose oriented, interested in nuances of style--but to a fault.

Noah Lukeman, A Dash of Style, 2006

Writing Quote: "Serious" Fiction

The difference between the writer of serious fiction and the writer of escape entertainment is the clear difference between the artist and the craftsman. The one has the privilege and the faculty or original design; the other does not. The man who works from blueprints is a thoroughly respectable character, but he is of another order from the man who makes the blueprints in the first place.

Wallace Stegner, Teaching and Writing Fiction, 2002 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Shoe Thief

     A Memphis man appeared in court on December 7, 2014 nearly a month after stealing a shipment of then unreleased Nike LeBron 12 shoes. The haul included 7,500 pairs of shoes with a total retail value of $1.5 million…The alleged culprit, Charles Jennings of Memphis, Tennessee, used his access as an employee of Intermodal Cartage Group, a trucking company, to gain entry into a company lot and drive off with a truck filled with the shoes.

     Mark Dunbar, assistant chief of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office said Jennings knew what he was doing when he made off with the truck…"He had a pretty good idea of what he had," Dunbar said. "They were Nikes, and they were more valuable in that they hadn't been released yet." [Books are "released," movies are released. Now shoes?]

     Jennings was arrested shortly after he sold 700 pairs of the shoes….

"Man Allegedly Steals $1.5 Million of Nike LeBron 12 Shoes," bleacherreport.com, December 9, 2014

Writing Quote: The Rhyming Picture Book

Rhyming! So many writers think children's picture books need to rhyme. There are some editors who won't even look at books in rhyme, and a lot more who are extremely wary of them, so it limits a literary agent on where the manuscript can go and the likelihood of it selling. These books are also particularly hard to execute perfectly.

Kelly Sonnack in 2013 Children's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2012 

Writing Quote: A Question of Journalistic Ethics

     An Ohio media outlet sparked outrange after it published a report on the criminal past of the father of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by police in November 2014 at a Cleveland recreation center. Rice died holding an Airsoft pellet gun. Police were responding to a 911 call about someone pointing a handgun. The caller said the gun was "probably fake" and "I don't know if it's real or not."…

     The article, "Tamir Rice's Father Has History of Domestic Violence," was written by Northeast Ohio Media Groups's Brandon Blackwell and published on the website for the Cleveland Plain Dealer on November 26, 2014. The relevance of the criminal past of Rice's father is not explained in the reporting nor does it appear to have anything to do with the shooting….

"Why Was Tamir Rice's Dad's Criminal History Reported?" mediaethics.com, December 4, 2014 

Writing Quote: Types of Literary Criticism

A "mere book reviewer" writes for newspapers, magazines [and websites and blogs] and is content to treat books as news. He announces their publication, identifies their authors, briefly describes their contents and sometimes renders a verdict. Journalistic critics, who also write for the above media outlets, try whenever possible to climb out of the valley of "mere reviewing" onto the plateau of genuine criticism. The academic critics contribute to popular publications when the chance offers, but most of their work appears in learned journals and in book form. They are usually professors and usually they write for other professors, for serious students and for literary intellectuals. They are enormously influential because they are read in colleges and universities.

Orville Prescott in Writer's Roundtable, edited by Helen Hull and Michael Drury, 1959 

Writing Quote: Why Harry Potter Is So Endearing a Character

Harry Potter, like many heros of fantasy, is endearing because he is rather ordinary. Surrounded by magic, he is the quintessential young, insecure schoolboy, seeking friendship from peers and respect from adults, learning to trust others, trying to stand up for what he thinks is right. While engaging in ongoing struggles with evil creatures of darkness, he is also fond of sports, wizard trading cards, and jelly beans. In the best of fantasy, the world is infused with magic--but victory comes in the end, after all is said and done, from very human values of faith, courage and perseverance.

Philip Martin in The Writer's Guide to Fantasy and Literature, edited by Philip Martin, 2002 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Drug Raid Adrenaline

One of the biggest adrenaline rushes on this job [law enforcement officer] is being the first one through the door on a drug raid. You wait on deck, knowing that because you are about to enter a place where the occupants can be both armed and high...You have your gun drawn, sweat salting the corners of your mouth, ready to rumble with a pit bull, ready to shoot, punch, duck, shout commands. You don't know what's on the other side of that door. One suspect? Two? A baker's dozen? That great unknown generates a specific electric charge, one that starts in your stomach and ends up somewhere in your chest, a kind of queasy excitement born of both expectation and resolve. There is nothing like it. [The same is true for the people being raided.]

Adam Plantinga, 400 Things Cops Know, 2014 

Writing Quote: The World's Most Stupid Book

Think of what a difficulty it would be if you couldn't use the most common letter in your writing. In 1937, Ernest Vincent Wright took the challenge head on and wrote a book called Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E." Wright literally tied down the e  key on his typewriter and spent 165 days writing without e's (the e-filled subtitle was added later by the publisher.) Not that Wright lived a life of ease from his e-less accomplishment. He died the day Gadsby was published. [The plot of this self-published book revolves around the dying fictional city of Hills that is revitalized thanks to the protagonist, John Gadsby and a youth group he organizes. The book, sought after by book collectors, entered the public domain in 1968.]

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

Writing Quote: Nonfiction is Usually About Public Figures

The short story writer, playwright, and novelist deal with private life. They deal with ordinary people and elevate these people into our consciousness. The nonfiction writer has traditionally dealt with people in public life, names that are known to us. [This is not always the case. For example, four of my nonfiction books are about ordinary, nonpublic people.]

Gay Talese in Telling True Stories, edited by Wendy Call, 2007 

Writing Quote: What Editors Don't Like in Children's Books

I hate to see [in a children's book] a whiny character who's in the middle of a fight with one of his parents, slamming doors, rolling eyes and displaying all sorts of stereotypical behavior. I hate seeing character "stats" ("Hi, I'm Brian. I'm 10 years and 35 days old with brown hair and green eyes.") I also tend to have a hard time bonding with characters who talk to the reader ("Let me tell you about the summer when I…")

Kelly Sonnack in 2013 Children's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2012 

Writing Quote: Taking Criticism

     I have had creative writing students who could neither give nor take criticism without getting fiery red in the face and rough in the voice--so sensitive to personal slight that they could neither take it themselves nor dish it out, without a heavy component of hostility. Untreated, that disease can be fatal; even treated, it is uncomfortable.

     If criticism affects you that way, you are very unlikely to "make it" as a writer, because there is no way to learn, except through criticism--your own or someone else's.

Wallace Stegner, Teaching and Writing Fiction, 2002 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Toddler Seriously Injured in Pre-Dawn SWAT Raid

     After their house in Wisconsin burned down in August 2014, Alecia Phonesavanh, her husband, and their four children, ages one to seven, moved into a dwelling outside of Cornelia, Georgia occupied by two of Alecia's relatives. The family took up residence with 30-year-old Wanis Thonetheva and his mother. They had knowingly moved into a a place where drugs were sold by Wanis who had a long arrest record.

     Since 2002, Wanis Thonetheva had been convicted of various weapons and drug related offenses. In October 2013, a Habersham County prosecutor charged him with possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The felony in question involved selling methamphetamine. In May 2014, Thoretheva was out on bail awaiting trial in that case.

     Shortly after midnight on Wednesday May 28, 2014, a confidential drug informant purchased a quantity of meth from Thonetheva at his house. Once he made the sale, Thonetheva left the premises for the night. Had narcotics officers been surveilling him, they would have known that.

     Based on the informant's drug purchase, a magistrate issued a "no-knock" warrant to search the Thonetheva residence. Just before three in the morning, just a couple of hours after the meth buy, a 7-man SWAT team made up of officers with the Cornelia Police Department and the Habersham County Sheriff's Office, approached the Thonetheva dwelling. A family sticker displayed on a minivan parked close to the suspected drug house indicated the presence of children. If a member of the raiding party had looked inside that vehicle he would have seen several children's car seats. A used playpen in the front yard provided further evidence that children were in the house about to be forcibly entered without notice.

     According to the drug informant, men were inside the house standing guard over the drugs. Against the force of the battering ram, the front door didn't fly open. SWAT officers interpreted this to mean that drug dealers were inside barricading the entrance. A SWAT officer broke a window near the door and tossed in a percussion grenade. The flash bang device landed in a playpen next to 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh. It exploded on his pillow, ripping open his face, lacerating his chest, and burning him badly. The explosion also set the playpen on fire.

     There were no drug dealers or armed men in the house. The place was occupied by two women, the husband of one of them, and four children.

     At a nearby hospital, emergency room personnel wanted to fly the seriously injured toddler to Atlanta's Brady Memorial Hospital. But due to weather conditions, Bounkham had to be driven by ambulance 75 miles to the Atlanta hospital. In the burn unit doctors placed the child into an induced coma.

     Shortly after the SWAT raid, police officers arrested Wanis Thonetheva at another area residence. Officers booked him into the Habersham County Detention Center on charges related to the sale of meth to the police snitch. The judge denied him bail.

     Many local citizens criticized the police for tossing a flash bang grenade into the house without first making certain children were not inside. Critics wanted to know why the narcotic detectives hadn't asked the informant about the presence of children. He had been inside the dwelling just a couple of hours before the raid.

     Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell told reporters that SWAT officers would not have used a "distraction device" if they had known that children were in the house. Cornelia Chief of Police Rick Darby said, "We might have gone in through a side door. We would not have used a flash bang. But according to the sheriff, members of the SWAT team had done everything correctly. As a result, he could see no reason for an investigation into the operation.

     As far as Sheriff Terrell was concerned, Wanis Thronetheva was responsible for what happened to Bounkham Phonesavanh. He said prosecutors might charge the suspected meth dealer in connection with the child's flash bang injuries.

     In September 2014, due to public criticism of the raid, a state grand jury began hearing testimony regarding the incident. A month later the grand jurors voted not to bring any criminal charges against the officers involved in the drug raid. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Say Goodbye to Paul Goodwin

     A Missouri inmate was put to death early Wednesday December 10, 2014 for fatally beating a 63-year-old woman with a hammer in 1998…Paul Goodwin, 48, sexually assaulted Joan Crotts in St. Louis County, pushed her down a flight of stairs and beat her in the head with a hammer. Goodwin was a former neighbor who felt Crotts played a role in getting him kicked out of a boarding house.

     Goodwin's execution began at 1:17 AM, more than an hour after it was scheduled because Supreme Court Appeals lingered into the early morning. He was pronounced dead at 1:25 AM. He declined to make a final statement.

     Efforts to spare Goodwin's life centered on his low I.Q. and claims that executing him would violate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the death penalty for the mentally disabled. Attorney Jennifer Herndon said Goodwin had an I.Q. of 73, and some tests suggested even lower…But Goodwin's fate was sealed when Governor Jay Nixon denied a clemency request and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down legal appeals--one on the mental competency question and one concerning Missouri's use of an execution drug purchased from an unidentified compounding pharmacy…

     Missouri's tenth execution of 2014 matches the state's previous high in 1999….

"Missouri Executes Inmate For 1998 Hammer Death," Associated Press, December 10, 2014


Writing Quote: Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett produced work so stark, yet so complex, that any attempt to dismiss him as a mystery writer would be a glaring error. In Red Harvest, 1929, he deals with mob control and mob wars in a town called Personville, nicknamed Poisonville. The bad guys are bad, and the good guys are bad in a good way, and the whole book is a morality play. Forces of light and dark run through the actions of tough guys. The value of traditional male ideals is enhanced because even some awfully cynical people can still hold them.

Jack Cady, The American Writer, 1999

Writing Quote: Supernatural Fiction

More than other genres, supernatural fiction is defined by atmosphere and characterization. By atmosphere I mean the author's ability to evoke a mood or place viscerally by the use of original and elegant, almost seductive language. The most successful supernatural novels are set in our world. Their narrative tension, their very ability to frighten and transport us, derives from a conflict between the macabre and the mundane, between everyday reality and the threatening other--whether revenant [a ghost that returns], werewolf, or demonic godling--that seeks to destroy it.

Elizabeth Hand in The Writer's Guide to Fantasy and Literature, edited by Philip Martin, 2002

Writing Quote: The Shortest Science Fiction Story Ever Written

The shortest science fiction story on record, which is always attributed to that most prolific author, Anonymous, is in its entirety: "The last man on Earth sat in a room. There was a knock on the door." These two lines have the hallmarks of a good science fiction story: It's accessible, there's at least one mind-bending idea, it has an interesting character, and you want to find out what happens next.

Nancy Pearl, Book Lust, 2003 

Writing Quote: Ann Rule on True Crime Writing

True crime writing is a very delicate and difficult genre and not to be taken lightly. Done well, the books can be near classic. Done sloppily or carelessly, they serve only to hurt the innocent even more than they have already been hurt.

Ann Rule, writersreview.com, 2000

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Lambert Corpse in the Refrigerator Murder Case

     In June 2014, Patrick Lambert, his wife Anastacia, and their 6-month-old son moved into the Braeswood Oaks apartment complex in southwest Houston, Texas. Anastacia had been born and raised in West Africa and Patrick had lived in New York City, Clearwater, Florida, and Hawaii.

     On September 2, 2014, Anastacia Lambert called 911 to report a domestic disturbance at the second-story Braeswood Oaks apartment. To the responding officers with the Houston Police Department, she accused her husband with threatening her with a knife. The police did not take Patrick Lambert into custody and no criminal charges were filed against him.

     On November 20, 2014, the utility company turned off the power to the Lambert apartment for lack of payment. Because neighbors hadn't seen Anastacia, her husband, or their 11-month-old son since the end of November, they thought the family had moved out. Because Anastacia didn't have family in the country and didn't work outside the home, there were no relatives or fellow employees to report her missing.

     At two in the afternoon of December 8, 2014, maintenance workers at the Braeswood Oaks complex detected a strong odor of death coming from unit 822, the Lambert apartment. The workers called 911.

     Upon entering the apartment, police officers discovered a large quantity of dried blood on the kitchen floor. They also found 27-year-old Anastacia Lambert's corpse stuffed inside the refrigerator. She had been stabbed to death and her son was not in the apartment.

     On the day police found the body in the refrigerator, the authorities issued an Amber Alert for the Lambert child and his 38-year-old father. Police described the missing murder suspect as a five-foot-elven inch black male. The police did not have a description of Lambert's vehicle and had no idea regarding his whereabouts or the whereabouts of his son.

     Police officers had the crime scene refrigerator transported to the Houston Crime Lab for forensic examination.   

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Brazilian Serial Killer

     A Brazilian man has confessed to killing 39 women in the Rio de Janeiro region… If his claim is confirmed, he will be one of the most prolific serial killers in the country's history.

     In an interview with Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo, the alleged killer, Sailson Jose das Gracas, said he carried out his first slaying when he was 17 and continued to kill over the next decade. "I started robbing purses and small things like that," he told TV Globo. "And as I got older, I started having different thoughts. My thoughts started changing. From stealing, I started thinking about killing."

     The 26-years-old said he didn't kill impulsively but stalked his victims. Rio police said they arrested Sailson on Wednesday December 10, 2014 on suspicion of killing a woman in the suburb of Nova Iquacu. He confessed to that homicide and then told police about the other killings. Sailson described his need to kill as pathological.

     "When I didn't kill, I would get nervous," he told TV Globo. "I would pace around the house, and then when I killed, it calmed me."…The self-declared killer said he had no regrets about his actions and would kill again if set free. "What is done is done," he told the TV reporter. "If I leave prison in 10, 15, 20 years, I'll go back to doing the same thing."

"Brazilian Man Says He Killed Dozens of Women," CNN, December 12, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Man Kills Himself and His Two Children Amid Custody Battle

     A man who was in a custody battle with his ex-wife deliberately crashed his car into a tractor-trailor on a southern California freeway, killing himself and his two children…Alan Dean Edwards, 46, of Lancaster, his 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter all died in the crash on Interstate 5 around one in the morning on Monday December 8, 2014.

     The truck was parked in a brake-check area in Castiac, about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles when it was struck from behind by Edward's fast-moving Honda Accord…The driver didn't make any attempts to stop…The front half of the car was crushed and wedged under the truck.

     Edwards and his former wife were in a custody battle and he had picked up the children on Friday December 5, 2014 for a scheduled visit. She filed a missing persons report when they failed to return on Sunday December 7.

"Man in Custody Battle Deliberately Crashes Into Truck, Killing Himself and His Two Children," Associated Press, December 9, 2014 

Writing Quote: Literary Critics in England Versus the U.S.

     Book reviewing in England is and always has been somewhat differently arranged than in the United States. Most often, in the United States, writers review one another's books and there is some sense of generosity born of shared time in the novel-writing trenches. It is more common in England for a novel to be reviewed by what you might call professional book assessors…

     It is perfectly acceptable, and even desirable, in England for a reviewer to show off his talent for eloquent invective at the expense of the author--desirable because it's fun for all, and if a novel is entertainingly killed, that's one less author who will be pulling his chair up to a crowded table.

Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at The Novel, 2005

     

Writing Quote: Crime Novels are Popular Because They Tell a Story

Most readers come to a mystery novel because the genre promises an actual story, a characteristic that many find lacking in so-called mainstream fiction.

Jeremiah Healy in Writing Mysteries by Sue Grafton, 1992

Writing Quote: Creating a Good Villain

     Providing a strong, fully dimensional villain who can give your hero a real run for his money will make the hero's triumph all the more satisfying to readers.

     Max Brand (pen name for the late Frederick Faust) nearly always created truly impressive villains for his western novels. In the series of Silvertip novels, the outlaw Barry Christian was equally as potent and powerful as Brand's hero, and in Brand's Montana Kid series, the Mexican bandit, Meteo Rubriz, was a full match for the quick-shooting protagonist. And when they meet in climactic battle, the reader witnesses a clash of titans.

     The greater the villain, the greater the hero.

William E. Nolan, How to Write Horror Fiction, 1990 

Writing Quote: What Pre-Teens Read

Children of both sexes in the 10 to 12 year age group predominantly read fiction, with the most popular genre amongst both boys and girls being adventure stories. Girls choose more romances, horror/ghost stories and poetry books. Boys choose more science fiction, comedy, sports and war/spy books.

Lyn Pritchard, penguin.com, 1999

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: One Lucky Pervert

     A convicted sexual predator is now a rich man after winning $3 million on a Florida Lottery scratch-off ticket. Timothy Poole purchased the ticket Saturday night December 5, 2014 at a convenience store in Mount Dora near Orlando…

     Poole was arrested in 1999 on a charge of sexually battering a 9-year-old boy. The victim was a member of a family whose home he once lived in…Poole denied the charges but eventually pleaded guilty to attempted sexual battery and was sentenced to the 13 months he had already served in jail.

     A judge revoked Poole's probation in 2003 after he failed to show up for counseling sessions. He was sentenced to three years in prison and was released in 2006…

"Sexual Predator Wins $3 million in Lottery," USA Today, December 11, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Two Atlanta Homeless Men Murdered

     Atlanta police are calling the shootings "sinister" because whoever pulled the trigger wasn't expecting to gain monetarily from the homicides. The victims were homeless men, shot to death as they slept. And police aren't convinced that the threat is over. "A lot of our shootings involve robbery. A lot of our shootings involve someone making good on an old debt or some kind of revenge factor," Atlanta police detective David Quinn told reporters on December 10, 2014. "I don't know why someone would shoot two defenseless men."

     The shootings happened over the Thanksgiving week within three days of each other. The killer hasn't struck since, but police are asking the city's homeless to remain vigilant…

     Dorian Jenkins was fatally shot five times as he slept, wrapped in a blanket, on a sidewalk in downtown Atlanta. Less than three days later, Tommy Mims didn't show up as normal at a recycling center where he took cans and other scrap metals to sell. Mims, known locally at "Can Man" was found dead under a bridge where he usually slept. His body, also wrapped in a blanket, was riddled with seven bullets. He was killed less than three miles from Jenkins…

     Detectives believe the killings are related because the rounds used in both shootings are fairly distinctive: .45-caliber bullets that haven't been manufactured since 2010. They were fired from revolvers, either a Taurus "Judge" or a Smith & Wesson "Governor." Since Mims had been shot seven times, the killer had to reload the gun. [Revolvers only hold five or six rounds in the cylinder.]

     The police have no motive or suspects in the murders.

"Atlanta Police Looking For Suspect, Motive in Killings of Homeless Men," CNN, December 11, 2014 

Writing Quote: When to Blow a Bad Book Out of the Water

Is a reviewer ever justified in attempting to blow a bad book out of the water? I think the answer is yes, but the reviewer must choose his targets with the greatest of care. It's not enough for the book to be bad; other elements must be present: smugness; pretentiousness; and over inflated reputation; clear evidence that a book's badness is not the result of incompetence, but of deliberate design. Such books represent an assault on the republic of letters and should not be ignored.

Peter Prescott, Never in Doubt, 1986

Writing Quote: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is the quintessential man of the British Empire--self-confident and self-reliant, athletic and active, intelligent and moral, a Tory in values but free of snobbery and political cant. And he likes to solve puzzles. And he is discreet, important, and famous. He ought to get tedious and even ridiculous, but he doesn't.

Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, 2005

Writing Quote: No More Harry Potter Imitations

For writers, the Harry Potter effect has been twofold. On the one hand, it has been encouraging. The increased sales of children's books have been good for them, and there's more of a sense of value for children's books. But the downside to this has been that a lot of people have thought, I could write Harry Potter. They must be looking for another Harry Potter. It is so untrue. I will go on record as saying we won't see another Harry Potter for fifty years.

David Levithan in Agents, Editors, and You edited by Michelle Howry, 2002 

Writing Quote: Illustrating Your Own Children's Book

The most successful children's book authors are author-illustrators who illustrate their own books. Almost invariably, though, these people are primarily artists, their art is stronger than their writing, and all of them have enormous talent and experience as professional illustrators. These are some of the best artists in the nation. They are the people you'll be competing with if you choose to illustrate your own books.

Staton Rabin in The Writer's Handbook, edited by Alfrieda Abbe, 2005 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Wearing Down Your Fingerprints

People who do manual labor, such as construction work, have long been known for wearing down their fingerprints…Many other occupations also have a similar effect, although for different reasons. Musicians such as guitarists can abrade their prints into oblivion; typists may wear them down from so much keyboarding. Even surgeons sometimes rub off their prints from washing their hands repeatedly. The fingerprints don't disappear permanently, but they may not be recognized by biometric access control devices based on fingerprint identification. [Criminals with worn down finger ridges may also leave behind less defined latent prints at crime scenes.]

Marilyn Savant, Parade, December 7, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: A Motorist in a Hurry

     New Hampshire State Police say an airborne patrol unit clocked a man driving 127 mph on Interstate 93 in the town of Northfield. The State Police Special Enforcement Unit was using an airplane to monitor traffic Saturday morning November 29, 2014 when the trooper in the aircraft saw a northbound vehicle traveling fast.

     Police said the tactical flight officer twice clocked the vehicle traveling in excess of 100 mph with the top speed at 127. The driver, stopped by troopers on the ground, was 19-year-old Ryan Quinn of Newport, Rhode Island. A prosecutor charged Quinn with reckless driving and two counts of possession of a controlled drug.

"Man clocked at 127 MPH on Highway," Associated Press, November 30, 2014 

Writing Quote: Bernard Shaw on Literary Critics

I have never been able to see how the duties of a critic, which consists largely in making painful remarks in public about the most sensitive of his fellow creatures, can be reconciled with the manners of a gentleman. But gentleman or no, a critic is most certainly not bound to perjure himself to shield the reputation of the profession he criticizes.

Bernard Shaw in Never in Doubt by Peter S. Prescott, 1986 

Writing Quote: British Versus American Detective Fiction

Most critics date the emergence of the classical detective story with the publication of Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1841. British versions by such writers as Arthur Conan Doyle tend to place emphasis on style, a few specific locales, and logic. American versions, which flourished from the twenties onward, carry with them a pulpier prose, a larger scope, and a heavy charge of sensationalism.

Lance Olsen, Rebell Yell, 1998 

Writing Quote: Russian Literature

The one genre I absolutely cannot stand is Russian literature. You need genealogy charts to just figure out the characters, every novel is a thousand pages and pretty much everyone dies.

Jodi Picoult, The New York Times Book Review, October 12, 2014 

Writing Quote: Benjamin Franklin's Self-Help Book

My favorite self-help book may be The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, for Franklin's unrelenting, very American optimism that the effort will make him happy. I have the same delusion.

Atul Gawande, The New York Times Book Review, October 26, 2014 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Clowns in the Courtroom

Attorney: She had three children, right?
Witness: Yes.
Attorney: How many were boys?
Witness: None.
Attorney: Were there any girls?
Witness: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

Attorney: How was your first marriage terminated?
Witness: By death.
Attorney: And by whose death was it terminated?
Witness: Take a guess.

Attorney: Can you describe the individual?
Witness: He was about medium height and had a beard.
Attorney: Was this a male or female?
Witness: Unless the circus was in town I'm going with male.

Michelle Boren, Disorder in the American Courts, 2014 

Writing Quote: Not All True Crimes Are Book-Worthy

Why are some true crimes turned into books, while others barely make the national papers? It will hardly come as a staggering surprise to find that publishers choose only those cases that are out of the ordinary: so, while murder is a favorite topic for books, "domestic" murders are not, unless several people in the family are killed. The sort of case that attracts a book publisher is likely to involve a large-scale crime, a mass or serial murder or a murderer who has been freed and has killed again or perhaps a murderer who almost got away with it.

Philip Rawlings, britsoccrim.org, 1995 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Began in Magazines

From its earliest days, when Hugo Gernsback first inserted stories in the monthly Electrical Experimenter, the primary outlet and market for science fiction was magazines. The Experimenter was the size of Life. So was Amazing Stories, the all-fiction magazine Gersback launched in 1926. In the thirties, the pulp magazines shrank to standard quarto, but doubled in thickness as publishers used the cheapest paper around.

John Baxter, A Pound of Paper, 2003

Writing Quote: Paul Theroux on the Function of Book Reviewing

Most people read books and think them interesting. They don't really reach an intellectual conclusion. They just have an opinion about it, not a judgment. But to reach a judgment about a book is really useful. To have to puzzle it out and then to write out the judgment. So I think that is a function book reviewing performs when it's done well.

Paul Theroux in Story Story Story, edited by Jim Schumock, 1999

Writing Quote: Children's Picture Books Must Feature Familiar Things

Babies recognize faces and other babies and all the little things they have around them--the dish that they eat out of and their highchair. It would be silly to do a board [picture] book with atmosphere and landscapes for a tiny child who has no experience of that.

Helen Oxenbury in Ways of Telling, edited by Leonard S. Marcus, 2002 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Memo To Armed Robbers: You Can Be Legally Shot

     At five-thirty Tuesday evening November 12, 2014, 18-year-old Adric White and Tavoris Moss, 19, walked into a Family Dollar store in Baldwin County, Alabama outside of Mobile. White entered the premises carrying a handgun he intended to use to rob the place.

     This was not the first business establishment White  had held-up. A month earlier, after he robbed the nearby Original Oyster House, a judge allowed him to post bail despite the fact the Original Oyster House was not White's first robbery.

     In the back of the store White put his gun to a Family Dollar employee's head and ordered the hostage to the cash-out area where a customer saw what was happening. This customer, who was also armed, pulled his firearm as White forced the terrified clerk to get on his or her knees.

     The armed shopper yelled at White not to move. White, rather than lower his gun, turned the weapon on the customer. Fearing that he would be shot, the armed citizen fired at White who collapsed to the floor.

     Police officers took the suspect's companion into custody as paramedics rushed White to the USA Medical Center. Although hit five times, White survived the shooting and received treatment at the hospital while under police guard. The judge revoked his bail on the Original Oyster House hold-up.

     The day following the Family Dollar robbery and shooting, a local television reporter spoke to a relative of White's who said the family was furious with the vigilante who had shot and almost killed their loved one. "If the customer's [shooter's] life was not in danger," said the robber's relative, "if no one had a gun up to him, what gives him the right to think that it's okay to shoot someone? The [armed customer] should have left the store and went wherever he had to go."

     The same TV correspondent spoke to the man who had used his gun to stop the robbery and perhaps save the store clerk's life. The shooter, referred to in the local media as the Good Samaritan, said he had no choice but to take the action in the case. When the robber raised his gun the customer fired in self defense. "I didn't want to shoot him," the shooter said.

     According to the Good Samaritan, "Criminals tend to think they are the only ones with guns. I've been legally carrying my firearm for a little over four years now, and thank God I've never had to use it until last night. It just shows it's good to have a concealed carry permit. You never know when you're going to need it."

      Gun rights advocates and their opponents will argue over the merits of this case. But one thing that is not up for debate is this: If you rob someone at gunpoint there is a good chance you will be shot by a police officer or a fellow citizen. And if you are, the cop who shot you will be hailed as a hero. Moreover, most Americans will call the civilian shooter who brought you down a Good Samaritan.

     As they say, live by the sword, die by the sword. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Stabber in Brooklyn Synagogue Killed by Cop

A man stabbed a person inside a Brooklyn synagogue Tuesday morning December 9, 2014 before he was shot and killed when he lunged at a police officer…The suspect entered the Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters where he stabbed another man sometime after one in the morning. A responding officer ordered the suspect to drop the knife. The stabber lunged at the officer who shot him in the torso. The stabbing victim was treated at a nearby hospital. [According to reports, the armed intruder said he wanted to kill a Jew.]

"Man Stabs Another Inside Brooklyn Synagoge, Then Lunges at Officer," CNN, December 9,  2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Rapper Murders His Wife, Kills Self on FaceTime

     Rapper Earl Hayes murdered his wife Stephanie Moseley early Monday morning December 8, 2014 in Los Angeles. Moseley, a dancer who toured with Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Usher, and Chris Brown, starred in VH 1's dramatic series "Hit the Floor."

     An angry Hayes, a member of Floyd Mayweather's Team Money, talked to the undefeated boxer on FaceTime prior to the murder-suicide. The call continued through the event. The rapper, in the midst of a break-up, accused his wife of infidelity with a famous singer…The welterweight boxing champion attempted to talk his friend down from his rage to no avail.

   A Los Angeles SWAT team discovered the bodies in a high-end Los Angeles apartment. Neighbors reported hearing an argument before hearing the gunfire.

     Hayes once belonged to Mayweather's music label and frequently partied with the boxer…

"Floyd Mayweather Witnesses Murder-Suicide on FaceTime," breitbart.com, December 9, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Golden Age of Detective Fiction

The Golden Age of detective fiction occurred between the two world wars, when several crucial developments changed the genre forever. The stories became more literate and the detectives more believable--no longer were they persons of super human intellect who could look at someone's shoes and determine where they had just been by the type of dirt collected there. Also, much more emphasis was put on period and character as opposed to merely constructing a clever puzzle.

Jay Pearsal, Mystery & Crime, 1995

Writing Quote: The First Gothic Horror Novel

A source of modern fantasy was the Gothic novel, invented in Germany and introduced to England by Horace Walpol's The Castle of Otranto (1764). This novel of medieval murder and spookery has all the elements that became standard props of the Gothic horror story: a wicked tyrant, an imperiled virgin, an impoverished young hero of noble blood, a monk, a castle with trapdoors and secret passages, a ruined monastery, and two ghosts. Who could ask for more?

L. Sprague de Camp, 3000 Years of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1972 

Writing Quote: Sword-and-Socery Fantasy

Sword-and-socery fiction is to fantasy what the western is to the historical novel, or perhaps more precisely, what the hardboiled private-eye story is to mystery fiction. It is a subgenre based on a prefabricated image, without which it cannot be identified at all: the cowboy in the middle of the dusty street, ready to draw; the private-eye in the trench coat; the brawny scantily-clad swordsman, glaring defiantly at menaces supernatural and otherwise, with an even less-clad shapely wench cowering somewhere in the background.

Darrell Schweitzer in How To Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by J.N. Williamson, 1991 

Writing Quote: The Demands of Writing for Young People

Writing for young people is a great responsibility, because their minds are impressionable and what they read can effect not only their current lives but their future ones as well. Writing for them should be approached with a serious regard for the possible influence of your words. Do not plan to write for children because you think it easy, or the writing does not need to be as good as that in books for adults. Requirements for good juvenile writing are far more strict than they are for adult fiction.

Lee Wyndham, Writing for Children & Teenagers, 1988