Friday, July 30, 2010

Good Cops, Bad Cops

I didn’t have to look far in July to find intriguing crime headlines. Several local news stories (“local” as in Alberta, Canada) drew national and international attention. This month, my blog focuses on crime fighters, rather than criminals.

Please respect those involved in these headlines. Remember the accused are innocent until proven guilty and victims and their families may not find the crimes as entertaining as you and I might.

Even though it was not the most important news item, this witty headline captured my eye and held it—“Internal probe reveals naughty Mounties.” This CBC article by KATHLEEN HARRIS, Parliamentary Bureau starts off great, too: “OTTAWA -- From masturbating in a cruiser and surfing porn on the job to drunk driving and sexual assault, Mounties from all ranks have been busted for bad behaviour...”

Headlines that cast a pall over law enforcement or the justice system always catch my eye as I’ve had several professional readers complain that the cops, lawyers, and judges in my stories say, think, and do things that real ones would never say, think, or do. Headlines that prove even Canada’s world-famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police are as human as the rest of us, make me feel smug, self-righteous, and justified. (Because, I, too, am human!)

I respect all those in the law enforcement and legal professions and admire the great work they do. I know that both news headlines and fiction exploit the unusual to spark interest. Just as rain in Vancouver isn’t newsworthy, neither would the missteps and mistakes of members of the RCMP if it was a corrupt police force. It’s because we greatly admire the men and women in scarlet serge that their weaknesses fascinate us.

One of my favourite writing strategies is combining news stories to create a backdrop to my novels. This lends my stories a semblance of believability. If one were to combine the ‘naughty Mountie’ headline with another July headline, “Alberta man unarmed when shot by RCMP” we have the possibility of a great tale.

Of course the unarmed Alberta man allegedly made a great pretence of being armed and there is no indication that the officer who shot him was at all naughty, but the lovely thing about fiction is that one can ignore such facts and create excitement that rivals that of the truth. If it’s the truth that Mounties can get caught masturbating in their squad cars, it’s not too big a leap of faith to have a fictional cop shooting an unarmed rival who perhaps was after his woman or who had video evidence of him surfing porn something equally sordid.

A sad headline, but one that has many facets was: “Accused Mountie in deep depression Charged with second-degree murder in wife's death.”

The fact that the Mountie and the victim were immigrants from India, tinges the crime with the issue of culture shock and the stress it puts on relationships. Some neighbours reported seeing the victim assaulting her husband in the past--an interesting twist to domestic violence. Mental health issues often play a role in crime. Although it is usually schizophrenia that peaks reporters’ and novelists’ interest, in real life, depression has toppled many more a fine man—and woman.

Most Albertans would agree that most intriguing story in July was the case of the missing elderly couple, the discovery of their burnt out motorhome, and the search for the SUV they’d been towing.

Adding to the mystery is the reluctance of the police to discuss the case, which is normal while they’re investigating. However, the tidbits of info they did release in order to enlist the media and public help in locating the couple, sent active imaginations, racing. It won’t be until the investigation is concluded or (if police make arrests in connection with the case) until the evidence is unveiled in court that we will know what happened.

Meanwhile, the police are unwilling to defend themselves against accusation that the investigation was botched from the beginning. Reportedly the burned-out motorhome scene wasn’t investigated thoroughly until the family reported the couple missing—several days after the motorhome had been found. It’s also alleged that police initially dismissed witnesses who reported sighting the missing SUV across the provincial border in Prince George, B.C.

The way the investigation is being handled has sparked almost as much public interest as the mystery itself—an angle that I like. The main characters in my crime novels are not the criminals but law enforcement officials. The criminal mind, as fascinating as it is*, still plays second fiddle to the men and women who can outwit it.

I try to imbue my novels with social comment, giving them some value aside from pure entertainment. Inspired by these July news headlines, crime writers could weave into their plots information on culture shock, domestic violence, depression, the aftermath of a wrong split-second life-and-death decision, investigative errors, and the value of hindsight. We could also reveal to our readers some basic human behaviours which transcend career choices and uniforms.

Stories that explore such issues enable readers to better understand and empathize with people affected by them. In the past, such enlightenment has been known to inspire positive societal changes. In addition, well-written fiction has always served to strengthen readers who find themselves facing challenges similar to those faced by their literary heroes and heroines.

Until next month, may Crime be on your side.

*If the criminal mind fascinates you, I invite you to read my website articles, “I met a man with empty eyes” and “Empty eyes, empty heart”

Eileen Schuh is the author of “Schrödinger’s Cat” a novella to be released by Wolfsinger Publications in 2011. Agent and publishing rights are available for her Back Tracker series of crime novels, the parallel novel, “Noraebang” and her adolescent crime novel, “Aerdrie”. More information about her published and unpublished work is on her website.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More work for us...?

Okay fellow criminal minds, I was recently working out at the gym (yeah, I know but I wanted to put that out there...), and as I was running on the tradmill like some mutated, oversized hamster in one of those wire wheels, I realized that I'd been watching several of the new cop shows on t.v. I thought to myself, hey, can't these shows all be considered just more venues for us writers of such things? I mean, there's tons of new cop, mystery, and secret agent shows that could all benefit from our skills. Contact your agents and see what they say. Writing for t.v., although touogh to break into, is EXTREMELY lucrative!

MysterEbooks Launches

Today marks the beginning of a new webblog for owners of e-readers. begins listing mysteries for e-books with author-submitted information and reviews. This week's listings are below. Please stop by and read, comment, and enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010
Title THE FOUR LAST THINGS (Simeon Grist #1)
Author Timothy Hallinan
Genre/Sub-genre: LA private eye novel
AUTHOR Elle Druskin
GENRE Mystery/Romance
Title: Murder On The Mind
Author: L.L. Bartlett
Genre: Mystery/Paranormal
Title THE SHADOW OF REALITY, #1 The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries
Author Donna Fletcher Crow
Genre Mystery/ Romantic Intrigue
TITLE: Follow The Falcon
AUTHOR: Steve Kendall
GENRE: mystery

Friday, July 23, 2010

In-Person Promotion

Besides all the promotion I do on the Internet, I thought I might mention what I do in person. I go to a lot of craft festivals. My first was the Apple Festival here in my own town. This is a two day affair where everyone must have their own tent of some sort and all the items they need for selling whatever their goods might be--in my case, my books. I bought a tent (we've had two more since then, looking for the easiest to put up)and folding tables. Of course we had to have chairs to sit on and a money box. In the photo is the booth I had for the Fourth of July celebration at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard CA.

I also go to events where the table and chairs are supplied and all you have to brings is your books. Have one of these coming up on July 31st at the Maidu Library in Roseville CA that will be from 10 to 5. There will be lots of authors and even some panels. The Hanford Library is sponsoring an author signing in the Hanford Mall on the 14th of August. Nearly all my weekends have an event of some kind or another.

I do go to a few independent bookstores both for signings and give talks to writers groups but believe it or not, I sell more books at craft and author fairs.

If you've never done anything like this, the key is to stand up and speak to people. At a craft fair, the passersby may not realize you are the author of the books on the table. It does take a bit of guts, but after all, you went to all the trouble to go to the event and drag your equipment and books along, so you should make the most of it.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Guest blog: Using True Crime as Inspiration

I’m author Victoria Roder and I’m thrilled to be visiting on Criminal Minds at Work. As an author, the world around me is an endless opportunity for writing material. Everything I see, touch, taste, hear, and observe is ripe for the picking. I find the news to be a great source for storyline ideas. You can’t make up some of the crazy things people do. I wanted to share with you some unusual headlines from reputable newspapers I came across in my research.
  • Police Seek Drag-dressing Car Thief
  • Man in Superman Cape Stole Truck
  • Three Charged in Bridal Shower Brawl
  • Murder, Adultery, Witchcraft! Buffalo’s Shocking ‘Scandal of the Century!’
  • Teenager Guilty of ‘Vampire’ Murder
  • Dead Body Mistaken by Neighbors as a Halloween Display
  • US woman found guilty of killing her husband by squashing him
The woman actually sat on her husband and suffocated him! If I wrote that in my novel readers might think the plot line was too far fetched, but it is actual news. I find human behavior fascinating and I am addicted to true crime shows. Did this woman suffocate her husband to death in a moment of irrationality or was something more sinister boiling under the surface of her personality for a long time? What made this wife murder her husband when the woman next door is capable of choosing divorce over suffocation, stabbing, or shooting her husband? True crime is crazier than fiction.

Feeding into my fascination of studying why people commit crimes, writing my suspense murder mystery novel, Bolt Action was thrilling. Secrets of the past, murder, mystery, revenge, deception, sexual tension, and the “State Quarter Killer”; Bolt Action from Champagne Books offers it all. Check out the book video at YouTube: The buy link is

Victoria Roder lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and house full of pets. She enjoys riding motorcycle, camping, hiking, shooting bow, and snow shoeing in the winter. Victoria Roder is also the author of paranormal romance The Dream House Visions and Nightmares, Asylett Press 2009. Her first picture book, What if a Zebra had Triangles? will be released soon from Vintage Reflections Publishing. She can be contacted through her website

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mystery E-books: for Writers and E-readers

For some time it has bothered me that there seems to be no site online where a person can read about ONLY mysteries published as e-books. With some trepidation and a lot of help, I’ve decided to attempt to change that. A friend has established a blog that will be dedicated solely to mysteries that are e-published. The submission process is somewhat experimental right now, but the plan is that authors will tell us about their books, following the template found on the site. Please be careful to do exactly as asked, or your book will not be listed. We will not list self-pubbed books, and mystery—the solution of a crime--must be the dominant theme.
If you’d like to submit a book for consideration, go to the site : There you will find the template and a sample submission. Submit the completed post to, and we’ll let you know the date of its appearance on MysterEbooks. We’ll also promote the site so that readers learn where they can go to find e-mysteries.
If you are a reader of mysteries on electronic devices, visit us often to read about new options for e-reading!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing and sweating

Wow, it's hot as h*ll in here! Okay, okay... so no one outside of Hades actually knows how hot it really is over there, but try writing in a tiny, windowless room... no air conditioning, with only a little electric fan pathetically blowing more hot air at you...
Anyway, so it's summer... a great time for us writers of murder, death, evil and mayhem. Summer's when most murders are committed, and usually by someone acquainted with the victim... Oh, the juicy plots that spin like poisoned gossamer threads from our vile and sickly minds! Think about it... jealous lovers, abusive spouses, lover's triangles, stalkers, cougars, maniacs, psychos, the guy next door, the gal behind the counter at the 711... all broiling, melting, chafing, sweating in this heat... all that's needed is the right word or deed at the wrong time (or vice versa) and all Hell can break loose! Would a writer tired of laboring anonymously in a hot, windowless room, angry at all those rejections, finally snap at yet another interruption at the door by his significant other? Would he grab the ludicrously expensive gift pen he received last Christmas and answer the door, drenched in sweat and madness with the intent, premeditated or not, of plunging said pen into the eye of the interrupter? Oh, devilish muse... oh, heated day and humid night... why torment me. I labor and sweat, sweat and labor, my clothes and hair plastered to me by my own perspiration... the stink, the discomfort... and yet I must write... I must answer the call of my slaving, slavering muse... but wait... is that a knock on the door? Didn't I tell everyone I was not to be disturbed? They'll be sorry... now where did I put that pen...?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Welcome to Eileen's Inaugral Blog

Thank you to Cheryl Kaye Tardif for inviting me to regularly contribute to Criminal Minds at Work. Although I'm a novelist, my background is in journalism and I've decided to spice things up a bit by doing a monthly blog on real life crime that is making the news.

The real people who commit crimes, the families and societies that foster criminals, the organizations that run crime, the officers that uncover crime, the prosecutors and judges who deal with crime, the legislators who define crime--are fascinating as well as inspiring. And, let's not forget the victims of crime--the ones about whom the entire scenario revolves.

I hope my blog will prod your imagination, peak your interest, and provide you with entertainment. Because, after all, we know that "truth is stranger than fiction."

To start you off, here is an interesting link to a report done by the RCMP on criminal activity in Canada. I enjoy reading background information like this and then letting my imagination run wild with the statistics. Basing one's stories on facts, not only lends credence to a writer but allows her to make appropriate and important comments on society. I like to weave messages into my tales because I want to be more than simply entertaining. I want to contribute to my community and make my world a better place.

Until next time, write on!

Eileen Schuh, Canadian Author
"Schrödinger’s Cat"

Eileen Schuh recently signed her first publishing contract. Her novella "Schrodinger's Cat", a psychological crime thriller than spans two universes, will be released in both print and ebook formats in 2011 by Wolfsinger Publications.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Own Criminal Mind

I'm new to this blog, so I'll introduce myself in a sort of roundabout way.
After reading my books, friends sometimes confess to being shocked at how my mind works. At church yesterday (yup, I'm the choir director at the local Methodist church) a man came up to me and said without preface, "GO HOME AND DIE?"
He'd found my newest book on Amazon, an e-book from Red Rose Publishing. He thought it sounded quite violent, but he liked the idea of a Vietnam-era mystery once I explained it.
My historical series, which began in January with HER HIGHNESS' FIRST MURDER (Five Star)describes murders on the streets of Tudor London. One friend who read the galley to look for errors claimed she had trouble getting to sleep afterward. To me, it just made sense to combine my decades of teaching English and history and my love of mystery. Tudors and headless corpses? Makes sense to me.
I just contracted with LL Publishing on a paranormal, THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY. Sure, it sounds, well, deadly, but what else do we read mysteries for?
My books are not grisly, dark or noir-ish. They are the best plot, characters, setting, and writing that I can devise. If after reading them you believe I have a criminal mind, just remember, we write murders so we don't really have to do them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The write stuff

The last post has the New Kids On the Block song The Right Stuff running through, my head. Lucky me.
Well, I'm new to Criminal Minds at Work so I thought I'd introduce myself.
I'm Chris Redding.
I write suspense and romantic suspense. Corpse Whisperer will be out soon on the Kindle. Incendiary will be out in print later in the year.
I also have my own blog where I host authors regularly.  The third "d" is for "Duh, I didn't check my spelling."
When I'm not writing I work part time for the Emergency Medical Services Department of my local hospital. I also teach an online course several times a year called "Show Up Naked: Writing the Male POV." I'm also working on two other courses for next year. Summer's fun that way. I write curriculum.
I plan to bring you authors, my observations about crime and any other oddities I can find.
Thank you to Cheryl for asking me to join this fun group.  And her's a pic of our three week old mini-rex bunnies.

Friday, July 09, 2010

I'm the New Kid on the Block

Gee, that was fun to write since I'm probably the oldest of all of the contributors here.

My name is Marilyn Meredith most of the time. I write the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series under that name, the latest is Dispel the Mist and I'm also known as F. M. Meredith when I write my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. An Axe to Grind is the latest one in that series.

I've been writing for a long, long time but didn't get published until 1982. My first two books were historical family sagas based on my family genealogy. From there I dipped my pen into the mystery field, but also wrote and published a psychological thriller, three Christian horror, and a romance with a touch of the supernatural.

Now I've settled comfortably into the mystery field, writing two mysteries a year.

I'm thrilled to join these other mystery writers who all have confessed to having criminal minds.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Fair Play Whodunnits"

Amoung the many subgenres of mystery stories, the Whodunnit, focuses on who committed the crime. Obviously. The writer of these mysteries can go one of two ways: Fair Play or Clueless. Fair Play mysteries can be read, acted out as in mystery parties or even used in contests as a fancy type of 'skill testing question'.

In the 'fair play' catagory, the author gives the reader all of the clues necessary to solve the mystery. Sometimes there is an element of participation as the reader races against the mind of the detective to get to the solution first.

In the Clueless Mystery, the reader's only hope of solving the thing is a 'lucky guess' because they are not given all the information required.