Friday, January 30, 2015

True Crime Friday - This Just In

Yesterday, police in San Francisco responded to a report of a supposedly suspicious package left on the sidewalk.  Okay, I'm not sure what exactly was suspicious about a suitcase left next to the garbage, but that's the world we live in.  (I left a suitcase next to my garbage before we moved because it was broken and covered in cat hair.)

Anyway, when responders opened the suitcase, it was filled with people parts.

A search of the nearby area found more body parts.

Medical examiners determined they were all human, but they're unclear whether the parts all belong to one person.  They aren't releasing further details of race, age or gender at this time.

Since this is 'just in', there really aren't many more details.  I did find it interesting that while every other news source reported the pertinent facts, USA Today felt the need to add to the headline that the discovery was 'near' the headquarters of Twitter (although it was nearer to a pharmacy than Twitter, so I don't know what that means), and they juxtaposed themselves by saying not only that it was in an 'up and coming area' but also that it was a troubled area with lots of homeless people. 

This is why I try to read multiple sources - because you never know who's putting a slant on something and whether that slant is actually germane to the news.

Anyway, if you live in the San Francisco area and saw someone pulling a large, I assume heavy, suitcase down the sidewalk only to leave it buy a pile of trash, call the SFPD or something.

What do you think of slanted news?  Do you even notice it, or do you have one news source you trust above all others?  Personally, I've become untrusting and cynical in my advancing years, so I see something one place and I have to go check to see what other places have to say on the subject.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - The Green River Killer

Today's Wicked is a particularly nasty SOB, who managed to elude police for almost twenty years after his first known murder.  Gary Ridgway - better known as The Green River Killer - was convicted of 49 murders, but confessed to over 70 and is suspected of more than 90 murders.  The first in his long line of killings dates back to 1982.

But that's not where his evil started.  When he was 16, he lured a 6 year old boy into the woods and stabbed him.  The boy lived to tell the tale of Ridgway laughing afterwards and talking about how he had always wondered what it felt like to kill someone.

From what I could research, Gary left little boys alone and chose the remainder of his victims from a wide pool of woman and girls employed in the oldest profession.  Despite his religious fervor and apparent distaste for these women, he spent a great deal of money spending time with them before and during the years he killed them.

Thanks to the advances in technology, authorities were finally able to connect DNA evidence to Gary Ridgway.  He was arrested in 2001.  After a plea deal for information leading to the whereabouts of some of his victims' bodies, he is spending his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The deaths attributed to Gary Ridgway span the years of 1982 to 1998.  But there still remains suspicion that his last murder may have actually been in 2001.  Whether or not that is true is something we may never know. 

The unfortunate thing is that Ridgway was actually investigated as The Green River Killer back in 1983, but there didn't seem to be insufficient evidence to actually arrest the dude.  The sick thing he passed a lie detector test - which is probably why they're still not admissable in court.  After all, if a sicko like Ridgway can pass one, who know how many other criminals would escape justice?

In this case, DNA put the right man away - probably almost 20 years too late, but he'll never kill another woman.  Personally, I'd be happier if he was extra-crispy, but I understand the plea bargain in this case.  The families of those missing women deserved to know where their loved ones went. 

What do you think about lie detector tests?  Do you think you could pass one?  Personally, I think I'd fail them all - even telling the perfect truth - because I totally spazz in confrontational situations. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

True Crime Friday - Fictional Crime

As you all know, or certainly suspect, I am a fan of true crime shows.  I like figuring out who committed the crime.  I love seeing them face justice.  I really love all the forensics and the investigation and the personalities involved in catching a killer.

But does this translate to fictional crime dramas?

Well, yes and no.  Certain shows I love, and others I can't tolerate.  It's a personal preference thing, so I'm not going to get into which shows are which.  I do love the ones that tend to stick closer to the reality of crime fighting.  And I'll drop a show if they stray too far from that, or the ones that smush the investigation into a tiny part of the show so they can focus on the drama going on in the lives of the characters. 

I don't watch shows like that for the interpersonal drama.  I used to watch soap operas for that, and I'm over it.

There were a couple shows I really loved that went off the air years ago: Homicide: Life on the Street and Under Suspicion.  The latter didn't last long, but I thought it was the best thing on TV.  And despite the write up at IMDB there, I didn't get the whole "...the unending prejudice faced by the only female detective in a male-dominated police squad..."  She was just a tough chick doing her damnedest to catch criminals.  The former was just gritty and felt 'real' to me. 

After all the true crime I've watched, though, I don't know if either show would hold the same appeal.  It seems true crime has kind of ruined fictional crime show for me.  (Not fictional crime books, though.  If that makes any sense.  Maybe the fictional crime writers try harder to get it right.  Or maybe I get sucked into the story and don't pay as much attention to whether all the procedures are as correct as they should be. :shrug:)

How about you?  Do you watch both fictional and true crime television?  Can you separate the two?  And finally, how do you feel if a writer doesn't get it exactly right?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - Wrongful Imprisonment

I was watching one of my true-crime shows yesterday (forget which one), when the subject of the episode turned out to be a couple of men who actually didn't do the crime for which they'd been imprisoned for 13 years.

Now this was a rerun from 2002, so this happened a while back, but it went something like this:

A pretty, young blonde was raped and murdered inside a pizza establishment.  The police searched for her attacker and hit on the idea that maybe it was these two guys.  So they brought the guys in for questioning.  They said they didn't do it.  The one guy's girlfriend gave him a solid alibi.  The other guy?  Well, they grilled him for two days and at the end of the two days, he confessed.  And he named his friend as his accomplice.  They were both convicted and sent to prison.

Flash forward to 2000 when a convicted freak confessed to killing a young, blonde woman inside a pizza establishment years before. 

The Innocence Project got involved.  They had an independent lab re-test all the evidence, and discovered that the DNA didn't match the two men convicted, but it sure did match the convicted freak.  So these two men - one of whom confessed to the police years ago - we set free.

Except the friend - the one who didn't confess?  He'd been attacked while he was in prison and now he's brain damaged to the point where he will need constant care for the rest of his life.

As for the guy who confessed, he'll have to live with that for the rest of his life, but it's still a better deal that his buddy.  Why did he confess?  Well, the police officers involved threatened him with death row if he didn't confess.  They threatened to make sure he got a cell with a man who would rape him if he didn't confess.  And they promised the guy he could get a lighter sentence if he just told them what they wanted to hear.  After two days of constant grilling, he gave in and confessed.

The guy who actually did it was on parole for some other crime.  When he was released for that, he vowed that he would kill the first woman he could.  It turned out to be that poor blonde girl.  In the interview, he seemed pretty pleased with himself.  Oh, and when they caught him, he was already serving time for something else.

The detective who cooked up the idea that he could badger a young man into confessing, and the officers who helped?  They declined to be interviewed, but I hope they paid for what they did.  I know the police have a difficult job getting at the truth, but I think in some cases they forget that the truth is what they're actually after and instead go for a conviction at any cost.

What do you think?  Would you ever confess to a crime you didn't commit?  What would make you forget your innocence and go to jail instead? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Covers and Tagline and Blurbs, Oh My!

In case you missed it yesterday, when I did a sort of soft cover reveal on The Writing Spectacle, here's the cover:

I don't know if it's 100% finished, but there it is.

Last night, I sent off the tagline and the blurb to my cover artist so he could incorporate them into additional materials.  You know how when you look at a word or phrase over and over it begins to look weird?  (By the end of the cover decisions, DYING EMBERS looked like it was spelled wrong when it wasn't.)  Well, for me, that tends to bleed over into total uncertainty - where nothing looks right.  I know I spent so much time thinking about the tagline/blurb, and looking at them and tweaking them over the weekend that I kind of went a little loopy.  Hubs and I were making up jokey ones and cracking each other up.

"Burn me once, I'll burn you twice."
"Got that burning sensation?"
"Revenge is a dish best served with a side of fire."
"Fire: It's what's for dinner."
"Who's up for car-be-que?"

So now I'm offering you a chance to be silly.  What's a whacky tagline you would use for a book about revenge and payback and fire and fear?

Friday, January 16, 2015

True Crime Friday - Crime Library

While I was doing research this week for my Wicked Wednesday posts, Google offered up a wonderful resource I hadn't seen before: Crime Library.  (Warning: There's some pretty nasty stuff on the front page there, so watch where you click. I'd stick to the main page links, if I were you.)

The place doesn't seem to have an About page, but I think it's pretty self-explanatory.  Everything you could ever want to know about grisly and gruesome crimes.

It's cool if you're into that stuff, or if you're doing research to get into the mindset of the totally warped, or if you're merely looking for inspiration so you can write a suspense.  (Although, some of that stuff is too weird for fiction, if you know what I mean.) 

Speaking of too weird, I noticed a link on the site to a video of some French dudes authorities are now looking for.  It seems they were at the Grand Canyon, lured one of the friendly, tourist-loving squirrels near the edge, and then kicked the poor thing off.  The squirrel did not survive the encounter and even though it was done in full view of other tourists, the sickos weren't caught.  I hope they catch them and kick them off the canyon rim. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - The Real Buffalo Bill

I don't know about you guys, but I love the movie Silence of the Lambs. (No, I have not read the book yet.  It's on the list.) 

If you haven't seen it, it's about a young agent tracking down a serial killer the press has dubbed 'Buffalo Bill'.  (Don't know why.  Maybe that's in the book.)  Anyway, this morning, as I was searching for something to write about in today's Wicked post, I discovered the serial killer that Buffalo Bill was based off.

Eddie Gein

Curiously enough, they didn't catch Eddie because they were looking for a serial killer.  One site says he was being investigated after a robbery at a hardware store.  Another says the police went to his place because the hardware store owner had disappeared and Eddie's receipt was the last one she printed before she went missing.  :shrug:  Whatever way the authorities ended up at his place, once they were there, they got the shock of their lives.

Yep, Eddie Gein was a sick freak.  And yes, he was making an outfit out of the skin of his victims (both living at the time of meeting Eddie, and dead - since he was also a grave-robber) - ala Buffalo Bill.  Except, instead of a wedding dress, he was supposedly making a woman suit so he could dress up and pretend to be his mom. 

Apparently, in addition to being the inspiration for Buffalo Bill, he was also the inspiration for the killer in Psycho, and in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 

Ed was brought to trial in 1957, but was found incompetent, and shoved into a mental facility.  Eleven years later, he apparently got right enough in the head to stand trial for real, and was found guilty of just one murder.  (Something about time and costs and I guess, 'what the hell, one murder puts him away for just as long as all the murders'.)  But he was also found legally insane and spent the remainder of his life in a place for the criminally whackadoodle.  He died there in 1984. 

Good, one less sicko freak in the world.

Have you seen Silence of the Lambs?  Have you read it?  My mother refuses - even though I keep telling her it's not as gruesome as she thinks and probably not as grisly as some of the Bones episodes she watches.  (She loves Bones.)    What about Psycho or Texas Chainsaw Massacre?  I've seen Psycho, of course, but never TCM.  I love suspense - Hitchcock was the master of suspense - but I'm not a fan of horror movies.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Boring Part

Well, folks, I have reached The Boring Part of writing - proofreading edits.  For the most part, this entails scrolling down the editor's copy looking for places she marked, and then hopping over to the revision copy and inputting the suggested changes. 

Insert comma here.  Delete comma there.  Change that word.  Delete that extra word.  Put in capitalization, remove capitalization.  :yawn:

I actually feel myself getting sleepy just talking about it. 

But it is part of the process.  I bore myself silly so you can read a clean book - with minimal typos and without rampant grammatical mistakes. 

I am learning stuff, though.  I did not know that when you use a directional word to indicate what I would consider a general location - i.e. Northern Wisconsin - you capitalize the word.  I also learned that cue and clue are interchangeable when using the phrase 'cue him in' or 'clue him in'.  Either one means 'to inform'.  (She said clue, I said cue.  :shrug:)

Yes, I do look stuff up that my editor suggested.  It's not that I doubt her.  It's just that I want to learn WHY I had it wrong in the first place.  (With the cue/clue thing, I always said 'cue' and wondered whether I'd been wrong all these years.  Of course, I also say "I could care less" and apparently that drives some people up the wall, so I work on making that more socially acceptable and changing it to "I couldn't care less".)

The hope is that next time when I send her a book to edit it will be WAY cleaner.  I dream of writing a clean first draft, but that's a pipe-dream.  All I can do is the best I can do, and then hope my editor and my team of proofers catch the things I missed.

How do you say it - cue or clue, could care or couldn't care?  How irritated are you by typos and mistakes in published books?  I know I'm slightly irritated (more so if the mistakes are rampant), but they drive my mother nuts.

Friday, January 9, 2015

True Crime Friday - Cold Justice

Cold Justice is a show that's making headlines and doing some good in the world of unsolved murders.  It follows two investigators - Kelly Siegler and Yolanda MClary - as they go around the country trying to help local police departments solve murders that have long gone cold. 

I love these gals.  They're unflinching in their pursuit of justice.  They're unafraid of the criminals they encounter.  And they're sympathetic to the victims' families.  Kelly used to be a prosecutor.  In fact, I've seen her once on another true crime show where she played an integral part in investigating the crime.  Yolanda was a police investigator.  Together they make one hell of a kick ass team. 

But they aren't alone in their efforts. They bring in various top investigators to assist.  One in particular, Johnny Bonds, stands out.  That man seems to know just the right things to say to get information out of people.  Hell, if he questioned me, I'd probably tell him my whole life story without blinking.  (Lucky for me, he'd be totally bored by my non-criminal past.)

One site referred to the show as a mix of Rizzoli and Isles with CSI and Cold Case, but true.  I can agree with that. 

Sure, I don't always agree with some of their determinations.  If you were here, you would hear me telling the gals how to do their jobs.  But I'm an armchair quarterback when it comes to this stuff.  They're the real thing. 

And tonight is the beginning of new shows!  So, check your local listings.  Here it's on TNT at 8pm (9 eastern).  I can't wait.

Plus, I follow their Facebook page - which is neat because they post updates to the crimes they've been investigating.  The sad thing is that oftentimes, people will post about unsolved murders in their own towns - even in their own lives - and unfortunately, they're only two people doing the best the can.  I think there should be more people out there like Kelly and Yolanda - digging deeper to see what the truth really is.

Are there any unsolved murders that you know about?  Would you contact the Cold Justice team to have them investigate? 

Do you armchair quarterback shows like this, too, or is that just me?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Blog Suggestions?

I know this is supposed to be Wicked Wednesday, but frankly, even though they're interesting, finding and posting about serial killers is bumming me out.  I write about killers, but there's always the counterpoint of the hero to keep me balanced.  So these last couple weeks when I didn't have to post about the wicked really felt great. 

Maybe I should balance them by talking about famous law enforcement officials every other week.  Unfortunately, you don't seem to hear as much about the people who were instrumental in catching the criminals as you do about the sick freaks themselves.  It might entail a lot of research.  I don't know.

So, I'll put it to you.  What do you want to see here?  What are some things that bring you to a blog and keep you coming back?  Do you enjoy the Wicked Wednesday serial killer information?  Cuz I'll do it if you guys really like it. 

Additionally, what makes you comment on a blog?  I know I have my core followers... :waves: ...but I'd like to see some more people joining in the conversation. 

Anyway, I'm trying to keep this blog rolling by being interesting and fun - but I'm not always sure how to do that. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

In other news, I got the cover art samples yesterday!  I have three favorites that still need to be tweaked, but they're on track for what I envision would be an attention-grabbing cover - and still convey the meat of the book.  So, I'll be sending the artist my take on the three and seeing what he can do with that.  I'll post cover art when I get something firm. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Balls in the Air

Which better than balls to the wall, I guess.  Although I might be at the 'balls to the wall' stage before too long.  But I digress...

I have a lot of balls in the air right now.  And I've never been much of a juggler. 

I'm working on getting Dying Embers ready for publication.  Ugh, this was part of the reason I held onto the idea of being traditionally published for so long.  There's a lot to do and I really wanted someone else to have to do it.  Just to give you an idea:

I had to find and contract an editor.
I had to find and contract my own cover artist.
Round one edits*.
Round two edits*.
Receive and evaluate cover samples.
If samples aren't right, do the back and forth thing with the artist.  (I assume.  I don't know exactly how this part works.)
Format book for everywhere it needs to sell.  (Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, print, etc.)
Learn about formatting.
Work on marketing.
Be visible so when my book does come out people aren't all 'who is this chick again?'

Since I've never been traditionally published, I assume they would do most of that without me - with the exception of the starred bits. And the marketing would fall on me as well as them.  I guess. 

And there's getting the next book ready enough to be able to send it off to my editor in March without her wanting to poke out her eyes with a pointy stick.  At which point, the process will begin again.

Add to that the unwise move of paying for a month of (what was I thinking), and the whole furbaby dental extravaganza, and I'm juggling chainsaws at the county fair. 

Life, writing, editing, life, writing, editing, life... well you get the gist. 

And let's not talk about housework, shall we?  Thank the gods Hubs does the laundry or I'd be writing this post naked.  Also, thank the gods I use dish washing as a break.  It's hard to eat chili off a paper plate. 

Still, it's kind of exciting.  Soon I'll have a book people can buy and read.  I'll have a book I can hold in my hands and put on my shelf.  And that's worth every ball I can throw into the air. 

Just keep your fingers crossed I don't drop any of them.  ;o)