Monthly Archives: May 2012

New Murder Cam Can Map a Crime Scene in 10 Minutes

One of the most important tasks investigators must perform at a crime scene is documenting it in an accurate manner. Sketches, notes, voice recordings, photos, and videos have each been employed in this endeavor. Though this is painstaking and time-consuming work, accurate documentation of the scene is critical on many levels. Crime scene documentation helps investigators see and understand the elements of the crime, aids in crime scene reconstruction, and helps support or refute suspect and witness statements, not to mention offers prosecutors useful facts and images to use in the courtroom.

Now it appears that a new “Murder Cam” can scan and create a 360-degree, 3D image of the scene. And do it in only 10 minutes. This could prove to be a very useful new tool.


Cambridge News Article




International Thriller Writers’ next anthology, THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER, edited by Sandra Brown, hits the streets today. It includes my short story “Even Steven” and a host of other great stories. See the list below.


Foreward by Sandra Brown

Diamond Drop by Roxanne St. Claire

Cold Moonlight by Carla Neggers

Poisoned by Beverly Barton

Speechless by Robert Browne

Lockdown by Andrea Kane

Spider’s Tango by William Smith

Night Heat by Laura Griffin

B.A.D. Mission by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Deadly Fixation by Dianna Love

Hot Note by Patricia Rosemoor

Last Shot by Jeff Ayers & Jon Land

Grave Danger by Heather Graham

Without Mercy by Mariah Stewart

Even Steven by D.P. Lyle

Dying to Score by Cindy Gerard

If the Devil is Six by JT Ellison

Hard Drive by Bill Floyd

After Hours by William Bernhardt

Blood In, Blood Out by Brenda Novak

Wed to Death by Vicki Hinze

Honeymoon by Julie Kenner

Execution Dock by Jim Macomber

In Atlantis by Alexandra Sokoloff

Break Even by Pamela Callow

Low Down by Debra Webb

Broken Hallelujah by Toni McGee Causey

Holding Mercy by Lori Armstrong

Vacation Interrupted by Allison Brennan

I Heard a Romantic Story by Lee Child

“Even Steven” serves as the seed for my next Dub Walker thriller, RUN TO GROUND, which will be released by Oceanview Publishing this August.



Posted by on May 29, 2012 in Writing


The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers 2012 Scribe Award Nominees

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers ( co-founders Lee Goldberg & Max Allan Collins are pleased to announce the 2012 nominees for the Scribe Award, honoring excellence in media tie-in writing, and the naming of author Kevin J. Anderson as this year’s Grandmaster for his lifetime achievement in the field.


The awards will be given at a ceremony in July at this year’s Comic-Con convention in San Diego.






MIKE HAMMER: KISS HER GOODBYE by Max Allan Collins & Mickey Spillane




STAR WARS: KNIGHT ERRANT by John Jackson Miller



CONAN THE BARBARIAN by Michael Stackpole
CRYSIS LEGION by Peter Watts
COWBOYS & ALIENS by Joan D. Vinge



ME & MY MONSTERS: MONSTER MANNERS by Rory Growler (Ian Pike)
THE SMURFS movie tie-in by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon



MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER by Max Allan Collins & Mickey Spillane


Posted by on May 27, 2012 in Writing


Guest Blogger: Jodie Renner: POV 103: Deep Point of View or Close Third

As I discussed in POV 101, in order to draw the reader in and grab her emotionally, every story needs to have a clearly dominant viewpoint character. We should meet that viewpoint character right away, preferably in the first paragraph, and the first chapter should be entirely from her point of view, so the reader knows whose story it is and can start bonding with her and rooting for her. When we see the story through her eyes, reacting as she does to her problems, it sucks us into the story and we want to keep reading to find out what happens to her.



In POV 102, I gave some tips for avoiding “head-hopping.”If we stick mainly with our protagonist, in his head and heart, with a bare minimum or no stepping back to describe things from the author’s stance (omniscient POV), we’re using deep point of view, or close third, which is a lot like first-person point of view, with the added freedom of switching to the villain’s or some other character’s POV when it suits our purpose. Deep POV is a powerful way of drawing your readers into your story quickly and making them worry about your hero right away, and keep worrying – which is exactly what you want!


But how do you go about this? Let’s suppose you’re writing a story about a macho, hero-type guy named Kurt, who defeats the villain, restores justice, and even gets the girl. It’s Kurt’s story so he’s your main viewpoint character. How do you make sure your handling of his viewpoint is as powerful as it can possibly be?


The first thing you need to do is imagine the setting, people and events as they would be perceived by Kurt, and only by him. As you write the story, you the writer must become Kurt. You see what he sees, and nothing more. You know what he knows, and nothing more. When Kurt walks into a bar, for example, you do not imagine how the bar looks from some god-like authorial stance high above, or as a movie camera might see it; you see it only as Kurt sees it, walking in purposefully and looking around.


And of course include his reactions to the other people in the bar. Show Kurt’s feelings (and only his) about what and who he’s seeing, and his reactions to the situation. Instead of saying, “The bar was noisy, dark and smoky,” say “The cigarette smoke in the air stung Kurt’s eyes and, in the dim light, he couldn’t make out if his target was there. As he looked around, the room started to quieten down. Heads turned, and eyes took him in, some curious, some hostile.” This way, the reader is seeing the scene through Kurt’s head and identifying with him, starting to worry about him. This from-the-inside-out approach is vital if you want your reader to care about your protagonist and get truly engaged in your story.


But you need to go even further – you need to describe what he’s seeing and feeling by using words and expressions that he would normally use. If your character is a rancher or a drifter or a hard-boiled P.I, you’re not going to describe the scene or his reactions in highly educated, articulate, flowery terms, or tell about things he probably wouldn’t notice, like the color-coordination of the décor, the chandeliers, or the arrangement of dried flowers in an urn on the floor.


It’s also important to be vigilant that your viewpoint doesn’t slip, so you’re suddenly giving someone else’s opinion about Kurt, or telling about something that’s happening out in the street or even in a hidden corner of the bar, while Kurt is still at the entrance of the bar. You can let the reader know other people’s reactions to Kurt, not by going into their heads at this point, but by what Kurt perceives—he sees their disapproving, admiring, angry, curious, or intense looks, picks up on their body language, hears their words and tone of voice, etc.


Then, in a later scene or chapter, you can go into the bad guy’s point of view and find out what he thinks of Kurt. Or, once he meets the girl, write a scene or chapter in her viewpoint so the reader finds out more about her and what she thinks of our hero Kurt.


This technique, properly used, will suck your readers effectively into your story world, where they really want to be, engaged, involved, and connected.

© Jodie Renner, www.JodieRennerEditing, April 2012

See also: “Show Your Setting Through Your POV Character’s Eyes” –

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor who specializes in suspense/thrillers, mysteries and other crime fiction, as well as YA, historical and mainstream. Jodie’s craft-of-fiction articles appear regularly here and on 5 other blogs. For more info on Jodie’s editing services and for links to more of her posts, please visit


Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Guest Blogger, Writing


Guest Blogger: Jodie Renner: POV 102: How to Avoid Head-Hopping

In POV 101, I discussed the effectiveness of starting out your story in your protagonist’s point of view and staying there for most of the story.


But what if you want to show how other people are feeling? If they’re important characters, like the villain, a romantic interest, or a close friend or family member, you give them their own POV scenes, where you get into their heads and we see their thoughts, emotions, goals, aspirations and fears.


If they’re in the same scene as your main character, you show their thoughts, feelings and attitude through their words, tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. Say you’re writing a romantic suspense or mystery, and you’re in the heroine’s point of view, showing her thoughts, perceptions and reactions. The hero, whom she’s just met under unfortunate circumstances, is angry. You’ll show his thoughts and reactions, not from inside him at that point (What the hell is going on here? he thought. What’s she trying to pull off, anyway?), but by what the heroine is seeing and perceiving—his tense posture, hunched shoulders, clenched fists, furrowed brows, set mouth, clipped tone of voice, angry words, etc.

The general rule of thumb is “one scene, one viewpoint.” Or even better, wait for a new chapter to change the point of view to someone else’s. If you change the viewpoint within a scene, it’s best to do it only once, and leave a blank space before you start the next person’s point of view. Ping-ponging back and forth can be jarring and confusing to the reader. This is what’s referred to as “head-hopping.” Some writers go so far as to leave three asterisks (* * *) and spaces above and below to indicate a switch in viewpoint within a scene, but I think that’s too jarring and disruptive to the flow of action, since we’re still in the same scene. Three asterisks, centered, are best reserved to indicate a shift in place and time.


So why is it so important to avoid switching viewpoints (head-hopping) within scenes?


According to Cynthia VanRooy, “When a reader becomes emotionally engaged in a book, he or she enters into the story. The reader understands the book world isn’t real, but in order to fully enjoy the story, he or she chooses to temporarily pretend otherwise, or to suspend their disbelief. […]


“Every time you shift the reader from one character to another, they are jarred out of their suspension of disbelief and reminded that they’re only reading a story. Do that often enough and they’ll stop reading your story. Scene changes or new chapters are the best and least disruptive places to change POV.”


Here’s an example of a viewpoint gaffe: Our heroine, Carole, is stirring the spaghetti sauce on the stove and talking to her husband on the phone. They’re discussing the fact that their son, Colton, is grounded. Suddenly, the author jumps into her son’s head and tells us about Colton sneaking by behind her back (his rap music is playing loudly in his room), and out the front door, then jumping on his bike and racing off. Back to Carole, who continues to stir the spaghetti and talk on the phone. What’s wrong here? We were in Carole’s POV, and she had her back turned so she wouldn’t know Colton was sneaking past, especially with all that noise coming from his room. And how would she know he’s riding away on his bike? Another jarring POV shift in the same scene would be if we suddenly started seeing her husband waving his secretary away because he’s in an important conversation. We’re in Carole’s POV in this scene, and she can’t see what her husband is doing at his office.


A quick way to check whose POV you’re in is to get out the highlighters or colored pens and choose a different color for each of your main characters. Pick your protagonist’s color, then start highlighting or underlining sentences that describe scenes, people, perceptions, and emotions strictly from his or her POV. Do the same for other characters, with their color. When you’re done, you should have paragraphs, and preferably scenes, of only one color. If you have another color creeping into that scene, see if you can rewrite those sentences from the dominating character’s POV. If you have a number of colors within one scene, you’ve got some revisions to do. And as Stephen King says, “Writing is rewriting.” Keep on writing!


© Jodie Renner,, April 2012


Resource for POV 102: “POV or: Whose Head Am I in, Anyway?” by Cynthia VanRooy 

In POV 103, we’ll discuss Deep Point of View, or Close Third-Person POV

Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor who specializes in suspense/thrillers, mysteries and other crime fiction, as well as YA, historical and mainstream. Jodie’s craft-of-fiction articles appear regularly here and on 5 other blogs. For more info on Jodie’s editing services and for links to more of her posts, please visit


Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Guest Blogger, Writing


Guest Blogger: Jodie Renner: POV 101: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head and Stay There (for most of your story)

Today we begin a new three-part series on Point of View from Jodie Renner. Welcome back, Jodie.


I’ve been editing fiction for years, and the most difficult concept for many of my aspiring author clients who write in third-person point of view (the most common POV in novels) is to portray their story world through the viewpoint/eyes/head of one character at a time, rather than hovering above them or ping-ponging back and forth between different characters’ viewpoints (head-hopping).


Point of view (or POV) simply refers to the character through whose perspective the story events are told. Ideally, we should only see, hear, smell, feel, and experience events as that character would—with no additional information provided “from above” by the author. This closeness helps your readers get to know your viewpoint character intimately, which makes them start worrying about him – and that keeps them turning the pages!

A hundred years ago, novels were often told from a distant authorial point of view, hovering over everything. That omniscient POV is no longer popular today (except for historical sagas), and for good reason: Readers want to experience the events of the story vicariously through the viewpoint character, to immerse themselves in her world, and they can only do that if they’re “inside her skin,” so to speak. They know/feel her inner thoughts, insecurities, hopes, and fears, so they bond with her quickly and want to know what’s going to happen to her next, and how she’s going to handle it.

As Jack M. Bickham says, “You’ll never have problems with the technique of viewpoint again if you simply follow this advice: Figure out whose story it is. Get inside that character—and stay there.” It’s especially important to open your book in your protagonist’s point of view, and stay there for at least the first chapter. This gives the reader a chance to figure out quickly whose story this is, and get to know him fast and start identifying with him and rooting for him.

Years ago I edited a novel in which a 15-year-old girl is riding in a car with her mother, who’s driving, and her 11-year-old brother in the backseat. (I’ve changed the details a bit.) The book starts out in the point of view of the mom, who is worried about uprooting her two kids and moving across the country, away from their friends. So we start empathizing with the mother, thinking it’s her story. Then suddenly we’re in the head of the teenage girl beside her, who is deeply resentful at her mom for tearing her away from her friends and agonizing over what lies ahead. Then, all within the first page, we switch to the head of the 11-year-old boy, who’s excited about the new adventure and wishes his sister would lighten up and quit hassling the mom. We’re also in his visual POV – he looks at his sister’s ponytail and considers yanking it. Now we’re confused. Whose story is this, anyway? Who are we supposed to be most identifying with and bonding with? Readers want to know this right away, so they can sit back and relax and enjoy the ride.

It’s essential to start out the story in your protagonist’s POV, but it’s also smart to tell most of your story from your main character’s viewpoint – at least 70 percent of it. That gets the reader deeper and deeper into that person’s psyche, so they get more and more invested in what’s happening to her. As Bickham explains, “I’m sure you realize why fiction is told from a viewpoint, a character inside the story. It’s because each of us lives our real life from a single viewpoint – our own – and none other, ever.” Successful fiction writers want their story to be as convincing and lifelike as possible, so they write it like we experience real life: from one viewpoint (at a time) inside the action.

So if you want your lead character to come alive and matter to the reader, and your story to be compelling, it’s best to show most of the action from inside the head and heart of your protagonist. Of course, thrillers often jump to the POV of the villain, to add suspense, worry, intrigue and dimension. But give the bad guy his own scene, and make sure he’s not onstage more than the protagonist is! And many romances have two main protagonists, the hero and heroine, but one usually predominates – most often the heroine, so the largely female readership can identify with her. Just don’t be inside the head of both characters in one scene – too jarring and confusing! Also, if there’s a scene with your protagonist and a minor character, don’t show the scene from the POV of the minor character, unless there’s a very good reason for it – it’s just too unnatural and jarring.

In POV 102, we’ll discuss techniques for avoiding “head-hopping,” a sure sign of amateurish writing, and in POV 103, we’ll get into more detail on deep point of view, or close third.

Main resource for today’s post: The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham.

© Jodie Renner, www.JodieRennerEditing, April 2012


Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor who specializes in suspense/thrillers, mysteries and other crime fiction, as well as YA, historical and mainstream. Jodie’s craft-of-fiction articles appear regularly here and on 5 other blogs. For more info on Jodie’s editing services and for links to more of her posts, please visit


Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Guest Blogger, Writing


Jacqueline The Ripper?

Was Jack the Ripper a woman? Did she kill out of rage over her own inability to have children or perhaps because one of the victims was having an affair with her husband? A new book, JACK THE RIPPER: THE HAND OF A WOMAN, by John Morris, postulates exactly that. It is his belief that the killer was Lizzie Williams (not to be confused with Lizzie Borden), wife of Sir John Williams, himself considered a suspect by many ripper experts.


Lizzie Williams

Obviously this crime remains unsolved and the theories are many but the one thing that is known is that during a 10 week period in 1888, Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly all suffered horrible deaths at the hands of a very deranged individual.

Huffington Post Article

Global Post Article

Yahoo News Article

The Mary Sue Article

Birmingham Mail Article


Guest Blogger: Forensic Dentist Stanley Woods-Frankel

Forensic Dentistry
Forensic dentistry is not a new science, since it has been around  since the civil war and refined during the late 1800s. Dentists helped identify bodies found after huge fires had claimed many unrecognizable victims, such as the Chicago fire, the shirt-waist fire in lower Manhattan, and the major conflagration under the tents of a Paris outdoor fair. A burst dam in the Rocky Mountains that killed over 500 people who lived in the valley below should also be included. In modern times forensics was a major factor in airline crashes, and of course 9/11.

The method that most Forensic dentists use now is to chart the mouths of victims who were too ravaged to be recognizable or have enough skin on their hands to have fingerprints. The jaws should be worked open enough so that the dentist could chart the mouth, and that X-ray films could be placed next to the teeth and a full series of X-rays could be taken. All abnormalities should be noted, as well as what teeth are missing, what fillings are present, what teeth have been replaced by either fixed, or removable appliances,and  which teeth  have had root canal treatment, or implants.


Once this process has been completed, the dentist or their assistant takes a history to find out what people might have been present at the occurrence, and then contact the various dental practitioners who might have worked on them, and request a copy of their records. If a match is not close enough for a definite comparison it can be confirmed with further DNA Testing.

If none of this is possible NCIS has to be contacted which would list all the people who have been declared missing, and many times the dentist can find a match.

If none of the above works, after a certified time in cold storage, the remains are buried in Potters Field which is a small island off City Island  by convicts from Rikers Island, If necessary the bodies can be exhumed at a later date.

In my first novel, False Impressions, which is due out on August 1st, the main character, the irreverent Forensic Dentist,  Steve Landau, performs all these duties in a much more humorous, but dramatic fashion, and could be an enjoyable, as well as educational way to get your facts. Dr. Stanley Woods-Frankel can be contacted via his web site:


My How Autopsy Facilities Have Changed

Autopsy rooms aren’t what they used to be. Not even close. Centuries ago, the autopsy room was often a dark and dank place in the basement of a hospital, some lit only by meager sunlight through a small window or two. Others were performed in theaters where physicians could sit and observe.


In the 19th Century and before, the autopsy procedure itself dealt only with what the physician could see before him. Some diseases and traumas were readily apparent but more subtle diseases and injuries and essentially all poisons would often go unnoticed. Not likely today with our expanding knowledge of forensic science and greatly improved and more sophisticated facilities.


An interesting article in Forensic Magazine on state-of-the-art autopsy facilities underscores these changes. A modern autopsy facility would have looked unearthly to the 19th century physician.


Hyperthymesia and Marilu Henner’s Brain

How well do you remember the happenings in your life? We all tell stories about past events—funny, tragic, interesting, odd. But how much detail do you actually remember? If someone tosses a date at you, can you remember exactly what you did that day, that week? All that information is stored in your brain (your hard drive), but can you retrieve it?

Marilu Henner can. So can others who share her unusual ability called hyperthymesia, or Highly Superior Auto-Biographical Memory (H-SAM).


The brain is a very odd organ and memory and recall are two of its most mystifying functions.


Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

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