Monthly Archives: July 2012

DNA Solves the 50-Year-Old Murder of Nanny Yolande Waddington

Yet again DNA has solved a cold case, this one very cold. Yolande Waddington was brutally murdered in 1966 and now DNA evidence has led to the conviction of a known child killer, David Burgess.



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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in DNA, Interesting Cases


RUN TO GROUND Dual Launch Parties: One Real; One Virtual

The “real” Launch Party for RUN TO GROUND will be at Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach on Saturday, August 4th, 2-4 p.m. Come by and say hello.


The Virtual Launch Party is at Shindig on August 7th, 6-7 p.m. PDT, 9-10 p.m. EDT. The Shindig platform is new and exciting so this is as much a trial run as it is a party. Bring your own virtual wine.

I think Shindig might be of interest to any author interested doing their own virtual book events, launch party, book club, etc. It also seems to be perfect for teaching classes and  presenting webinars. Drop by the event and see how it works.

It’s very easy to join the virtual event. Go HERE to RSVP and you will receive a reminder before the show. Then go to the same link and join the video/audio discussion on the 7th. If you have a camera on your computer you can “come up on stage” and ask questions and if not you can type in your questions.
Visit Shindig to see how this technology works, and to join the other discussions they have ongoing.

Want to pre-order RUN TO GROUND? Try Mystery Ink or Mysterious Galaxy, my favorite indies in SoCal, or if you must from Amazon or B&N.

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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Writing


DP Lyle Interview on Jim Harold’s Crime Scene

Here is a recent interview I did for Jim Harold’s Crime Scene show.
Hope you enjoy it.


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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Interviews, Writing


An Excellent Interview with My Wonderful Agent Kimberley Cameron

Here is an interview with my wonderful and hard-working agent, Kimberley Cameron. You can reach her at:


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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Interviews, Writing


Guest Blogger: Jodie Renner: Voice

Voice: that elusive but critical ingredient of powerful fiction

Voice – what is it exactly?


Literary agents and acquiring editors always say they’re looking for fiction with a compelling, unique, fresh, natural voice. Then when asked to define it, they hum and haw a bit, searching for the right words to try to capture what they mean by a voice that appeals to readers and makes them want to keep reading.

From what I’ve gathered from my varied reading and workshops, the ideal “voice” is that natural, appealing, charismatic tone and style that draws us in and makes us feel like we know the characters well—and want to get to know them better!


How can we develop an appealing voice?


These tips, a mix of advice from others and my own ideas, will be helpful to both fiction and nonfiction writers who are still in the process of finding their voice or fine-tuning it to make it more relaxed, powerful and appealing.

* Don’t lecture your readers. As Bruce DeSilva said in his workshop on this topic at Craftfest, many aspiring authors need to first free themselves from the constraints of their more formal, correct writing background, especially if it includes graduate degrees and a lot of legal, academic or business writing. So shake yourself loose of all those constraints and find your more casual, accessible, appealing inner voice. How do you do that?

* Write in a clear, direct way. Forget all those long, convoluted sentences and pretentious words and learn to write in a clear, direct, accessible, casual style that evokes the senses and appeals to the emotions. Streamline your writing!

* Write to one person. To help develop a closeness with your readership and a conversational tone, create or choose one single person you’re writing to, who is warm, friendly, open to your ideas, interested, and intelligent. DeSilva suggests choosing a close friend or family member to write to, but personally, I advise against writing to someone in your inner circle, as you might end up skipping over a lot of details and points that need to be there for other readers who don’t share your basic frames of reference. So I suggest creating an ideal reader. Write a brief description of their age, gender, background, home and work situation, personality, and interests (which of course include reading your kind of writing!). Get to know them a bit by giving them some positive attributes that will help you feel comfortable and open with them. Then target your writing to this person. Relax and let the real you come through.

* Read and imitate writers whose voice you really enjoy. Don’t copy their words verbatim, of course, but immerse yourself in their story world, told in their unique voice. Read their books aloud to really internalize the rhythm of their language, the phrasing and expressions and word choices that appeal to you so much. Then of course adapt the cadence and rhythm and attitudes and vocabulary to your own situation.

* Write a chapter in first-person, then change it to third person. One author whose voice I love is Janet Evanovich, whose spunky, quirky heroine, Stephanie Plum, narrates her story in first-person point of view. But it’s hard to write first-person well, and it can be limiting, as you’re confined to scenes where this character is present. Also, first-person isn’t always the best choice for, say, a thriller, as you want other viewpoints in there, too, notably that of the antagonist. But try writing several pages or a chapter or two in first-person (“I”), to develop your main character’s unique voice, then just go back and rewrite them in third person (he/she), with as few changes as possible.

* Read your story out loud to test its authenticity and easy flow. As DeSilva says, your writing should have the rhythm and comfortable familiarity of spoken language. If it doesn’t flow easily, go in and streamline the language to take out the convoluted sentences, clunky phrasing, and fancy-shmancy words. Or hire a trusted writer friend or reputable freelance editor to go through it for you to take out anything that sounds too formal, wordy, or erudite.


* Write in deep point of view or close third. This means the story is unfolding mainly through the thoughts and reactions and emotions and attitudes of your protagonist. Even descriptions of your setting should be filtered through your protagonist’s (or other POV character’s) preferences, views, and mood. This ensures that your whole novel has a great, unique voice, not just the dialogue.

* Give each character their own voice. When you’re writing dialogue, each character should sound different, with their own unique speech patterns, word choices, slang and expressions, based on their milieu, upbringing, education, and personality. Listen in on all kinds of conversations, both in real life and on TV and in movies. Develop an ear for how different people speak. To improve the idiosyncratic speech of a character in your novel, try journaling in their voice, in first person. Just write freely, using lots of attitude! Eventually, you’ll get into their rhythm and find the words that seem to suit them best.
So break free from the constraints of your background, education, and any more formal work-related writing, and write the story only you can write, with your unique background and experiences and personality, in your own direct, open, interesting voice. Don’t hold back—reveal yourself.


Jodie Renner is a freelance editor specializing in thrillers, mysteries, and other crime fiction, as well as YA, mainstream and historical fiction. Jodie’s craft-of-fiction articles appear regularly here and on five other blogs. For more information on Jodie’s editing services, please visit her website at

Jodie’s e-booklet, Writing a Killer Thriller – An Editor’s Guide to Writing Powerful Fiction, is available for your Kindle and also as a PDF, both for just $0.99.


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


Space Travel and Brain Injury

We’ve been to the moon, astronauts have spent months floating around the space station, and the dream of many is to eventually visit Mars. But, space isn’t all that friendly to humans.


The Original 7 Mercury Astronauts


Besides the obvious dangers associated with take off and re-entry, and living in an enclosed environment miles above the Earth where immediate rescue is problematic, there are several important medical issues related to prolonged microgravity exposure.


Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin on the Lunar Surface


For years we’ve known about the muscle wasting and bone mineral loss that follows the absence of weight bearing in microgravity. Now a new problem has been uncovered: Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension.

That’s a big word meaning an elevation of the pressure inside the skull. This seems to be due to cerebral edema, an excess accumulation of fluid within the brain that leads to brain swelling. And since the skull, unlike a balloon, is rigid and cannot expand with this increased pressure, the brain suffers.

In a NASA study of 27 astronauts who had spent an average of 108 days in space, MRI brain scans revealed that one third suffered some degree of swelling, typically involving the optic (vision) nerves. In some astronauts, there was also some flattening of the back of the eyeball, which affected focusing, and problems with the pituitary gland, the so-called master gland that regulates many of the body’s hormones.
This will require further study, but on its surface it appears to complicate long-term space travel. Mars just got a little further away.


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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Medical Issues, Space Program


Sasquatch Lives!! Maybe

Sasquatch has been a Pacific Northwest mythical creature for many decades. Sitings and even videos have routinely been knocked down and proven to be hoaxes. Not so fast. Now, anthropologist Jeff Meldrum has analyzed some new tracks and has found evidence that they might indeed be real.


His evidence?

The toes, as revealed by analysis of the tracks, seem to grip rocks, curl to grab the soil on inclines, and at times splay out presumably for better balance. Things a rubber or plastic fake foot couldn’t easily do. But more importantly, many of the tracks revealed friction ridge patterns. This is important since only primates have such ridges.


Another interesting finding was that there appeared to be scars from old injuries on the soles of the feet. When such injuries heal, the dermal ridges tend to curl inward as part of the healing process. Such healing was found here. Something that would be very difficult to fake.

So does this mean that Sasquatch lives? Maybe, maybe not. Hopefully there is more to come.


Q and A: What Medical Problems Might Plague My 16th Century Dwarf Heroine?

Q: I am about to start my next novel, which is set in the 16th century, and narrated by a young woman who was a dwarf. It is unknown what form of dwarfism she suffered from and her height was never recorded. She is sometimes described in the historical record as having a twisted spine or crooked back if that is relevant. She also died young, in her late 30s, possibly of what would today be called pneumonia. Could you tell me any common medical problems, including any gynecological ones if there are any, generally suffered by female dwarves?

Brandy Purdy, author of The Boleyn Wife and The Tudor Throne.

A: There are several types of dwarfism and you can read about them in Wikipedia or by Googling dwarfism. There are many medical problems associated with dwarfism. Most are musculoskeletal in origin and therefore your character could easily have scoliosis or some other spinal problem that could cause pain and interfere with mobility, sometimes to a significant degree. In addition, these individuals often have significant bowing of the legs and as a result can suffer hip and knee problems that require braces or walking assist devices such as canes. Now there are surgical procedures to help these problems, at least to some degree, but none of these were available in the 16th century. Nor were there any real pain medications. Your victim would simply have to suffer the discomfort and move around as best she could. It’s possible she could use canes or perhaps a rolling platform that she squatted on and propelled herself with her hands. Not sure if these were really available in the 16th century but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone didn’t come up with something like that, and, even if not, you could use it in your story.

Everything about dwarfs is small and therefore a lung infection such as bronchitis or pneumonia could be particularly treacherous. Smaller airways require less inflammation and swelling to cause serious breathing difficulties. In the 16th century there were no antibiotics and therefore no treatment. For this reason pneumonia carried a fairly high death rate in everyone. This would be particularly true in a dwarf.

Pregnancy would be a major issue in a female dwarf. Simply put, the child would grow normally but would do so inside a very small person. As the fetus grew there could be significant discomfort and it is possible she could even suffer uterine rupture and death. Of course if she carried the child to term and if delivery were attempted in the normal fashion, there could be what we call cranio-pelvic dissymmetry. This simply means that the infant’s head is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvic opening. When labor began, there would be great pain and the potential for both maternal and fetal death. This entire process could take many hours, even days, and the mother would begin to bleed and the potential for uterine rupture would be great. Such a rupture would be accompanied by severe pain and profuse bleeding. During all this, whether there was uterine rupture or not, the child would die. A C-section would have to be done to avoid these horrible complications and that was a risky undertaking in the 16th century.

So musculoskeletal problems would be the greatest difficulties your character would have but infectious processes and pregnancy could be deadly. And all of this does not begin to cover the psychological and social difficulties that these individuals had to endure, particularly in the 16th century when prejudices were strong and deep.

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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


Elmer Wayne Henley Up For Parole

You might not know the names Elmer Wayne Henley, David Brooks, or Dean Corll but this trio’s body count mimicked Gacy and Bundy. I first learned of them in 1973 when I moved to Houston to begin my Internal Medicine residency. Two months after my arrival, this story broke and consumed the local and national news media. It began when 17 year Henley shot and killed Dean Corll. But this was not just another murder. This was the end game for one of the most dangerous predators ever.


Elmer Wayne Henley

Henley met Corll when he was 15, introduced by another teen, David Brooks. What followed was the stuff of nightmares. Henley and Brooks became procurers for Corll. They would bring other teenage males to Corll’s home where they would be raped, tortured, and murdered. Corll had rigged up a “torture board,” to which his victims would be attached and assaulted, sometimes for several days. And I seem to remember that he had also rigged up some old bedsprings as an electrocution device. Regardless, before Henley killed him, Corll’s body count was around 30 victims, making him one of the most prolific serial killers ever.


Dean Corll

Now Elmer Wayne is up for parole.

Parole? I don’t think so. I mean he did end Dean Corll’s terror reign but I’m not sure all the “procurement” can be overlooked.

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