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Crime and Science Radio: Personal Violence: Sex and Domestic Crimes: An Interview with Former Federal Prosecutor and Author Allison Leotta

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BIO: For twelve years, Allison Leotta was a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in sex crimes, domestic violence, and crimes against children. Drawing on this experience, she now writes legal thrillers, for which she has been dubbed  “the female John Grisham.” Her goal is for John Grisham to be dubbed “the male Allison Leotta.”

After publishing her debut, LAW OF ATTRACTION, Simon & Schuster asked Allison to continue writing about her fictional sex-crimes prosecutor, Anna Curtis.  A series was born! There are now four books in the Anna Curtis series, and a fifth is in the works.

LAW OF ATTRACTION earned a starred review in Library Journal, which said, “In this riveting debut, Leotta joins the big league with pros like Linda Fairstein and Lisa Scottoline.” Allison’s second novel, DISCRETION, was named one of the Top Ten Books of 2012 by Strand Magazine and Best Suspense Novel of 2012 by Romance Reviews Today. Her third novel, SPEAK OF THE DEVIL, was named a Best Book of 2013 by Suspense Magazine.  The fourth book in the Anna Curtis series, A GOOD KILLING, will be released this May.

USA Today says Allison’s writing is “as real as it gets.”

Allison is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, where she reality-checks TV crime dramas like Law & Order: SVU. Her own blog, The Prime-Time Crime Review, was named one of the best legal blogs in America by the American Bar Association. Allison has provided legal commentary for outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and Reuters TV.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America.

A graduate of Michigan State University and Harvard Law School, Allison lives outside of Washington, D.C., with her husband, Michael Leotta, and their two sons.

LISTEN: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2016/03/16/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-author-allison-leotta

Link goes live Saturday May 7,2016 at 10 a.m. Pacific

LINKS:

Allison’s Website: http://allisonleotta.com

Allison’s Blog: http://allisonleotta.com/blog/

Allison on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allisonleottabooks/

Allison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AllisonLeotta

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allison-leotta/

 

Last Good Girl cover

A GOOD KILLING

 

PitchFest: A Place to Sell Your Story

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As is you needed another reason to come to ThrillerFest in New York this July, Check out PitchFest–a place where your manuscript can find a home.

DP Lyle
ITW VP for Education; CraftFest and Master CraftFest Director

 

A Different and Better PitchFest
Thursday July 7th

Calling all writers!

PitchFest 2016 is weeks away and is shaping up to be the best PitchFest ever offered by ThrillerFest. This event is an overwhelming opportunity for writers of all genres to meet with the best of the best in the book industry.

Four reasons you should attend:

1)      The most agents and editors ever gathered at one time to hear your pitches.

2)      The best agents and editors.

  • The “sellingest” thriller and mystery agents in our industry were invited to attend this year, and over 50 have confirmed that they want to meet you.

3)      The largest gathering of editors.

  • Six editors from publishers such as Tor/Forge, Kensington, and Audible will be in attendance to hear your pitch.

4)      Laser focus on what’s hot.

  • With audio books on the rise, we’ve secured Coleen Barr from Audible to join us.
  • With Teen and Young Adult books flying off the shelves, we have the largest gathering of agents seeking YA in our history.

5)      And for the first time in our event history, we’ve added a “No Pitch Zone” with experts to help you during the PitchFest event.

  • Renowned experts, such as agents Janet Reid and Barbara Poelle, along with editors Chantelle Aimee Osman and Shannon Jamieson Vasquez will be available to assist you with your query letter or review your first page and offer pointers.

Sign up for PitchFest today at http://thrillerfest.com/registration/.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at Sandra@SandraBrannan.com.

Click Here to Register

Sandra Brannan
Author of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series
PitchFest Director

 

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Writing

 

Guest Blogger: Lisa Black: Everything Old Is New Again

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

My character, Cleveland forensic specialist Maggie Gardner, is unrealistic in one respect—she still spends a lot of time at her microscope looking at tiny bits of trace evidence, hairs, fibers, paint, and glass.

No one does that any more. Well, maybe Abby on NCIS, but she’s the most unrealistic forensic person on screen, even though she’s so cute we don’t care.

Sure, on old episodes of Dragnet you can see some nerdy guy in a lab coat explain how these pollen spores are only found in one quadrant of the city, but that art had already died before I started in forensics in 1994. We got spoiled by DNA, by ‘absolutely yes’ or ‘absolutely no’ answers. No one wanted to hear that this red nylon was ‘consistent with’ the suspect’s shirt, because they wouldn’t be hearing how many red nylon shirts were manufactured, how many were sold in this area, and while we’re at it let’s hack into Macy’s sales figures and find out who they were sold to. Unlike television, forensic labs do not have databases of all this information and would probably be violating a few important laws if they did. Nope, ‘consistent with’ was all you got. Take it or leave it.

 

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POLYURETHANE FIBERS

They left it. Microscopic analysis became more or less a thing of the past. Forensic techs today wouldn’t recognize a pollen spore or know what to do with it if they did. Fibers are ignored. Hairs are examined only to screen out candidates for, well, DNA.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I peruse the latest Journal of Forensic Sciences and stumble on an article about using something called palynological scanning to rapidly evaluate suspect and victim testimony.

 

pollen

POLLEN

Palynology, it turns out, is a fancy name for…pollen. Pollen and spores and other ‘microscopic entities’ of trees, shrubs and herbs. No hairs, fibers or paint, but you get the idea. This analysis proved useful in some cases of rape or assault, in situations where the victim and suspect both contacted the ground and pieces of the ambient flora could attach to their clothing.

 

trees

 

In one case the suspect said he and his victim engaged on a lawn behind a public building. The victim said he attacked in a heavily wooded area, the spot surrounded by beech, birch and sycamore trees. Each site had a distinct mix of items—palynomorphs– with complicated Latin names. The suspect didn’t deny that he had made contact with the victim so willingly gave up the clothing he’d been wearing at the time, and sure enough, all those little palynomorphs indicated that he had been in the woods and not on the lawn. This did not prove that he had committed the crime. It only proved that he had lied about the sequence of events, and that was sufficient to prompt a confession. Otherwise this case would have languished in an eternal hell of ‘he said vs. she said.’

Of course had this guy listened to legal counsel before he made a statement, he probably would have figured out to come up with an alternative, and innocent, reason to have been rolling on the ground near the crime scene, and all these spores would have been for naught. As it is, surely the defense will bring out statistics regarding the vast number of beech and sycamore trees in the area, perhaps in the suspect’s own neighborhood, and the idea that maybe he had been doing some gardening earlier in the week in that same pair of pants. This is why things like pollen analysis fell out of favor with the courts…but the spores are still out there, voluminous, distinct and quite concrete little buggers that will stick in all sorts of places one might wish they wouldn’t. So are hairs, fibers, and paint. Maybe ‘consistent with’ is all you can get out of them. But maybe, sometimes, that’s enough.

So in my books Maggie still looks at all this stuff because it’s more visible and visceral than yet one more DNA sample. Let’s face it—you’ve seen one cotton swab, you’ve seen them all. Bright clothing fibers are much more entertaining.

And this trace evidence will lead her down a number of roads—some of which, it turns out, she’d be better off avoiding.

Wiltshire et al. “A Rapid and Efficient Method for Evaluation of Suspect Testimony: Palynological Screening.” Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 60, #6, Nov 2015, pp 1441-1450.

 

L Black

Lisa Black has spent over 20 years in forensic science, first at the coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and now as a certified latent print examiner and CSI at a Florida police dept. Her books have been translated into 6 languages, one reached the NYT Bestseller’s List and one has been optioned for film and a possible TV series.

Lisa’s Website: http://www.lisa-black.com

 

that darkness cover

 

Hello! Just a quick note to let you know that my new book, That Darkness, is now available wherever books are sold!

It seemed like a typical week for crime scene specialist Maggie Gardiner–a gang boss shot in an alley, a lost girl draped over an ancient grave, a human trafficker dumped in the river–nothing all that out of the ordinary for the Cleveland police department as spring turns toward summer along the Erie banks. The methods are usual, the victims unsurprising–but when she notices a pattern, a tenuous similarity among the cases, she begins to realize that her days will never be typical again. How much of her life, her career, her friends, will she be willing to risk to do what’s right?

Jack Renner is a killer who does not kill for any of the conventional reasons…no mania, no personal demons. He simply wants to make the world a safer place. He doesn’t think of himself as a dangerous person–but he can’t let anyone stop him. Not even someone as well-meaning as Maggie Gardiner.

Maggie has the self-sufficiency of a born bit-of-a-loner. She works with a bevy of clever experts surrounded by armed police officers. She is both street smart and book smart, having seen the worst the city has to offer.

But Maggie Gardiner is not safe. And, until she can draw Jack Renner into the light, neither is anyone else.

Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter series, says: “Lisa Black always delivers authentic characters in riveting stories. That Darkness takes things to a spellbinding new level with a taut and haunting story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.”

Publisher’s Weekly says: “The intriguing forensic details help drive the plot to its satisfying conclusion.”

“Black is one of the best writers of the world of forensics, and her latest introduces Maggie Gardiner, who works for the Cleveland Police Department. Her relentless pursuit of answers in a dark world of violence is both inspiring and riveting. Readers who enjoy insight into a world from an expert in the field should look no further than Black. Although Cornwell is better known, Black deserves more attention for her skillful writing – and hopefully this will be her breakout book.”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars (Top Pick)

 

2016 ITW Thriller Awards Nominees

 

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2016 ITW Thriller Awards Nominees 

 

We’re thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2016 ITW Thriller Awards:

 

BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL

Ian Caldwell – THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Simon & Schuster)

Tess Gerritsen – PLAYING WITH FIRE (Ballantine)

Paula Hawkins – THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Riverhead Books)

David Morrell – INSPECTOR OF THE DEAD (Mulholland Books)

Karin Slaughter – PRETTY GIRLS (William Morrow)

 

BEST FIRST NOVEL

Sandra Block – LITTLE BLACK LIES (Grand Central)

LS Hawker – THE DROWNING GAME (Witness Impulse)

Gilly Macmillan – WHAT SHE KNEW (William Morrow)

Brian Panowich – BULL MOUNTAIN (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

Hester Young – THE GATES OF EVANGELINE (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

 

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Marc Cameron – DAY ZERO (Pinnacle)

John Gilstrap – AGAINST ALL ENEMIES (Pinnacle)

Andrew Mayne – NAME OF THE DEVIL (Bourbon Street Books)

D.J. McIntosh – THE ANGEL OF EDEN (Penguin Canada)

Jean Rabe – POCKETS OF DARKNESS (WordFire Press)

 

BEST SHORT STORY

Reed Farrel Coleman – “Feeding the Crocodile” JEWISH NOIR (PM Press)

Jeffrey Deaver – “Repressed” (Diversion Books)

Sharon Hunt – “The Water Was Rising” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)

Terrence McCauley – “El Cambalache” (Thuglit)

Joyce Carol Oates – “Gun Accident: An Investigation” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)

 

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Alan Gratz – CODE OF HONOR (Scholastic Press)

Nicole Maggi – THE FORGETTING (Sourcebooks Fire)

Michelle Painchaud – PRETENDING TO BE ERICA (Viking Books for Young Readers)

Emily Ross – HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH (Merit Press)

Allan Stratton – THE DOGS (Sourcebooks Fire)

 

BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL

Diane Capri – JACK AND JOE (AugustBooks)

Chris Kuzneski – THE PRISONER’S GOLD (Chris Kuzneski)

Robert McClure – DEADLY LULLABY (Alibi)

Caitlin O’Connell – IVORY GHOSTS (Alibi)

Eric Rickstad – LIE IN WAIT (Witness Impulse)

 

Congratulations to all the finalists!

The 2016 ITW Thriller Award Winners will be announced at ThrillerFest XI, July 9, 2016, at the Grand Hyatt (New York City.)

Very special thanks to:

Joshua Corin, Awards Committee Chair

Jennifer Kreischer, Awards Coordinator

Suzanne Rorhus, Awards Coordinator

And all the 2016 ITW Thriller Awards Judges

Carla Buckley

ITW Board of Directors, Vice President, Awards

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2016 in Writing

 

ThrillerFest/CraftFest/Master CraftFest are coming July 5-9, 2016

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ThrillerFest is the premiere conference for thriller enthusiasts, bringing together fans, famous authors and new ones, industry professionals and agents. It’s a vibrant hub of literary networking and social interaction offering an opportunity for thriller lovers to meet and mingle with their favorite authors at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City every July. When we say mingle, we mean it. An array of impressive names, including Clive Cussler, Lee Child, James Patterson, Sandra Brown, Harlan Coben, David Baldacci, David Morrell, Ken Follett, R.L. Stine, and many more have been known to linger in the conference rooms and halls, accessible to attendees.

The ThrillerFest team is busy preparing for a memorable 2016 conference, hoping to make it the best yet. The conference consists of several events, priced separately and in money-saving packages. Those events are:

Today’s FBI: Crime Essentials For Writers

In this full day workshop held at FBI Headquarters, you’ll hear from FBI experts in Cybercrime, International Terrorism, Criminal Investigations, and more. Lunch, drinks, and snacks served. Class size is limited by the FBI and fills up quickly.

Master CraftFest

Don’t miss this opportunity to study with the Masters of the genre in a one-day intensive workshop to take your writing to the next level. Everyone is welcome, from beginning writers to well-established authors. The instructors this year will be Steve Berry, Grant Blackwood, David Corbett, Meg Gardiner, Heather Graham, Andrew Gross, Richard Krevolin, and Gayle Lynds. Class sizes are limited to provide a personal experience.

CraftFest

As always we have a group of talented teachers to broaden your knowledge about the craft of writing as well as experts in many fields like forensics and firearms so you can get the facts right in your novel.

PitchFest

Be sure to sign up for the incredible opportunity to further your writing career, as we’ll have over 50 agents, editors, and producers ready to hear your pitch at our annual PitchFest event. Visit www.thrillerfest.com and read the Success Stories from past years.

ThrillerFest

We’re planning some phenomenal panels, always trying to innovate and entertain. Join us for the spotlight interviews, cocktail parties, workshops, and fabulous networking opportunities. Please check the volunteer box during registration, as it’s a great way to make new friends.

Thriller Awards Banquet
A gala banquet and celebration tops off everything, with 2016 ThrillerMaster Heather Graham receiving her award, and the exciting announcement of the winners of the Thriller Awards!

Exhibitor/Vendor Tables
We’re offering exhibitor/vendor tables during the ThrillerFest event for non-bookselling vendors. If you’d like to promote your goods, services, or brand, it’s an excellent opportunity to reach many thriller enthusiasts.

Enter the Best First Sentence Contest for a chance to win a critique of 10 manuscript pages from one of our phenomenal Master CraftFest teachers.

More Info and Registration: http://thrillerfest.com

Follow us:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/International-Thriller-Writers-Organization-59208702261/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thrillerwriters

Hope to see you all in New York

DP Lyle
ITW VP for Education
CraftFest/Master CraftFest/Thriller School Director

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Writing

 

FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES Release Day

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Forensics For Dummies Updated 2nd Edition is now available.

Get it through your local Indie Bookstore or here:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Forensics-Dummies-Douglas-P-Lyle/dp/1119181658

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forensics-for-dummies-douglas-p-lyle/1013991421

 

The Mockingbird Has Passed

Harper Lee

 

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about this injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the Summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.

 

Thus begins one of the truly iconic American stories. A story everyone should read—-many times. I know I have.

And now Harper Lee is gone. As a fellow Alabamian, it feels as though I’ve lost a family member.

So long, Harper. You will be sorely missed.

 

Mockingbird

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Writing

 
 
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