Showing posts from April, 2011

Drowning - Accident, Suicide or Murder?

Drowning is one cause of death that can be difficult for a M.E. (Medical Examiner) to conclude.  To determine drowning as the cause of death, other factors have to be ruled out first. Drowning in its basic form is asphyxiation – basically the inability to breathe.  When we think of drowning, normally we associate that with water, but that’s not the only thing we can drown in.  We can drown in basically any form of liquid (even our own vomit). There are 2 types of drowning – dry and wet. Maybe you’re wondering how a drowning can be dry?  But, the dry part refers to water getting into the lungs.  In cases of a dry drowning, the larynx spasms shut, making it impossible to derive oxygen, or exhale carbon dioxide.  Dry drowning is more likely in salt water, than fresh. So how does an M.E. determine a drowning has happened? You might answer water in the lungs.  However,   bodies that have been in the water a long time will have water in their lungs even if the person didn’t drown.  Also

The Power of Association

“I don’t want you hanging around with so-and-so.  They’re not a good influence.” You likely heard the above from a parent at one point growing up.  Maybe it pushed you closer to that person?  That would be the rebellious streak that seems to live in all of us.  But the focus of today’s post isn’t on what our reaction to this situation would be, it’s on the human nature that lies in your mother’s statement - ‘ so-and-so is not a good influence .’ Is it not true that we’re all influential?  We can affect people in a positive way, or a negative one.  Likewise, they can affect us.  And it doesn’t matter how old we are. As adults, we pride ourselves on our independent nature – “ no one can control me ” – but doesn’t the multi-billion dollar advertising industry prove that wrong every day?  In fact, it preys on the influential part of human nature.  Ask yourself honesty, what was the latest electronic gadget that you bought without any influence from the media?  After all, isn’t the thinn

Transforming Negative Energy into Positive Ambition

You've heard it said:  "It's harder to get published these days than ever before".  These words provide some sort of comfort to us when we get a rejection, even though we know they're veneer words.  New writers are getting requests every day.  New writers are being offered contracts.  So, how do you move forward despite the negative feelings that are creeping in on you? My suggestion:  transform that negative energy into positive ambition. You've read the advice:  send out another query for every rejection.  It reminds you that if you believe in yourself, you're not going to give up.  But how does one actually go about putting that into practice?  How can you possibly take a potentially negative thing such as a rejection and make it a positive? Ask yourself this:  have you grown in the process?  Did you learn something from the rejection?  Even a fast form rejection can tell you a lot.  Now, I'm not saying if you get one of these, or even a few, tha

Decomposition of a Body in Water

Most of us have heard the term “floater” applied to a dead body found in water.   But does a dead body thrown into a body of water float right away?   The answer is no.   In fact, with no air in the lungs or blood stream, the body sinks.   It’s not until putrefaction occurs, and gases accumulate in the body’s tissues and cavities that the body rises to the surface and floats again. Putrefaction is the process of decomposition, caused by microorganisms (bacteria).  Because the gases are a byproduct of the active bacteria, it is greatly affected by the temperature of the water. In warm water, bacterial growth is accelerated, thereby increasing the gases at a faster rate than in cold water.  A body may float after 1-2 weeks in warm water, and as long as weeks or months in cold water. A general guideline for decay in temperate water: 1-3 days – swollen hands, and face 5-6 days – separation of skin from the body 8-10 days – loss of fingernails These physical signs are variable and depen

My First Guest Post Appearance

Today, is a special day for me because I'm doing my first guest post.  John Gorman, author of "Shades of Luz" has invited me over to his blog for an interview-style post. I share my writing journey, what motivates and inspires me, and some things I've learned along the way. Be sure to check it out here .

The Approach

This week’s Human Observation Project is focusing on how the same thing, depending on how it’s presented, can warrant a different response.   Have you ever been in a situation where someone comes up to you and starts off by saying, “You did this...”  Whoa, instantly you get defensive.  After all, they are essentially accusing you by the way they approached you, aren’t they?  Now, what if that same person had come up to you and said, “I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but I think…”  It’s a peaceful approach.  You would no doubt listen to more of what they had to say without the inclination to fight with them.  They’re not wanting to point blame; they’re simply bringing something to your attention. How can we put “The Approach” to use in our writing? By harnessing the power of dialogue, we can inflict emotion, and assign motive to our characters without the need to add a “tell” phrase. For example: “You’re the one who brought the subject up.” Do you need to add a tag to this

How Would You Describe Him?

Today, I’m introducing something new to this blog.  I might keep it up as a regular feature, and I might not.  It depends on you guys.  This is a writing exercise based on something I do a daily basis.  When I encounter new people, sometimes I even apply it to ones I know, I try to describe them as if I were writing them. This isn’t a post where we’re going to critique one another, but was formed for the purpose of strengthening our power of description.  Below is a picture of a man pulled from Google Images.  Beneath the picture is how I would describe him in a novel. The man’s eyes spoke of a history that witnessed unspeakable evil.  He came in wearing a blue beret with words stamped on it, and I wondered what they meant, but I couldn’t get close enough to see.  His dark skin had been etched by the passage of time with deep-set wrinkles, and his mouth balanced a cigar as if it were perched there, a teeter-tatter in mid-tilt. What about you?  How would you describe him?  Please re

And The Versatile Blog Award Goes to...

As promised, here are those to whom I am awarding the The Versatile Blogger Award:  1.   Charlotte Jane Ivory  2.   Lyla Campbell  3.   Sally Hepworth  4.   Sonya Clark  5.   Stacey Donaldson  6.   Patricia J Newcombe  7.   Clarissa Draper  8.   Kim  9.   Robin Ingle 10.  Carol Riggs 11. Darlene Quinn 12. Leslie Rose 13. Rachel Giesel 14. Sonia G Medeiros 15.  L. Carroll Now my rules about accepting the award?  If you want to boast about it on your blog - awesome!  If you want to link back to me, better even still!  If you want to award other bloggers - excellent - because paying it forward is the best way to keep the good feeling moving on.

The Importance of Goals

When you think of goals, what comes to mind?  A few years down the road, a year, a month, next week, or today?  All of us are wired differently.  Some possess the ability to look far into the future, while the rest of us have a hard time envisioning the end of the week.  But that's the flexibility of goals, and there's no reason we can't have long-term, and short-term goals at the same time.  In fact, I find the two merry together rather well, and are an essential combination. For example, your dream is to be a published author.  You want to land the ideal agent, have them pitch your novel to a major publishing house, and get an offer you can't refuse.  Things like these are dreams and ideals, unless you are doing something about them.  This is where short-term goals project you to the finish line.  Let's think of the steps needed to reach publication: 1) You have to write 2) Edit (do we have to track the number of times?) 3) Send to trusted beta-readers, or cri

Determining Time of Death

We have the dead body, we set up the perfect murder, planted forensic evidence, and of course, we have our suspects (including "red herrings").  That’s all we need, right?  Well, it always helps to know  when  the victim died, and for our investigators this is imperative in pinning the murder on the guilty.  So, how do they go about figuring out time of death (TOD)? There are quite a few physical elements a Medical Examiner, and forensic investigator have at their disposal for making an accurate estimate.  If they get it wrong, the killer can have an alibi in place that otherwise wouldn’t be.   The 3 main ways of determining TOD are: - Body Temperature - Rigor Mortis - Lividity Let’s examine these areas in more detail. Body Temperature The general rule is the body cools on average 1°C per hour, from the starting temperature of 37°C.  The rate at which the body cools depends on a lot of factors such as environmental temperature, humidity, whether the vic was dressed or not

The Versatile Blogger Award

Squee!  I won another blog award!  This one came from Tara Tyler , a newer friend of mine that I've met through the glorious internet.  Thank you Tara! Now, she had rules for accepting.  One of which was to pass this on to 15 recently discovered bloggers.  (Heck that's a lot :) lol )  But, I intend to make good on that stipulation.  Come back Sunday to check out who I've awarded.

Why Do You Write?

There have been a lot of great blog posts discussing the various distractions that present themselves to us writers.  It almost seems procrastination is coded in our DNA.  But what compels you to push through and write, even when you don't feel like it? For myself there are times I don't even know where the story is going to take me that day.  I'm not even sure exactly what makes me pick up my laptop on those days, but I do.  And when I "force" myself to do this, I usually find these times the most rewarding.  The characters take on a life of their own, and the story may take a surprising, yet pleasant turn.  Maybe that's part of the reason I push through?  I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes when I discipline myself to write.   Besides, I also know that as a published writer, I will have deadlines and expectations.  I might as well learn this aspect of being a writer now.   Below is a list of reasons why I write: - Love writing - the entire pro

Welcome Mat Wednesdays

If you've been a regular follower of this blog, you know Wednesdays around here normally feature guest posts.  And we've met, learned from and were inspired by a lot of terrific writers - including published authors, and even an editor who offered insight into that part of the publishing world.  You can always re-visit these valued posts by clicking on the label "Welcome Mat Wednesday", or here . But as you may have noticed in the announcements portion to the left of the screen, Welcome Mat Wednesday will no longer be every week.  Instead, I will continue to bring you interesting guests, but only on the first Wednesday of every month.  I was finding it hard to find a balance on a weekly basis to continue with the prior schedule.  I hope that you can understand this. With that said, I will continue to bring you the following three posts (minimum) on a weekly basis: Human Observation Project - A discussion on different characteristics derived from "people watch

Tit for Tat

Ever have some slow-moving driver in front of you?  Usually it happens when you're in a hurry to get somewhere, and you're already running behind.  No doubt you curse, and swear.  If it's safe, you swerve out of the way.  Then what?  You keep flyin', or do you get even? I'd be lying not to admit there have been times I've pulled in front of them, and slowed down to pretty near a full stop to turn right.  And, I also can't say I've signaled for every person I cut in front of.  (Should I be ashamed?)  It's just sometimes , they really don't deserve it.  They were going slow enough that I could run faster, and pass them - why should they get a blinker of notice that I'm coming?  They didn't seem concerned when they were holding me up. I call all this my "Tit for Tat" theory.  I believe it lives in most of us, if not all of us.  It manifests itself in action, and speech.  You know those *snap* moments, where you jab back with th

My Agenda, Not Yours

How many times have you felt so overwhelmed you didn't know where to start?  You have to balance so much as a writer.  Most of us have families to care for, and even if we don't have children, we have other responsibilities, such as possibly a full-time job.  And I mean, honestly, we need to make time away from writing activities too - we need to have a social life, "fun-time". 24 hours That's number we all start out with each day.  Sounds like a lot of potential, doesn't it?  But then, let's factor in sleep.  Right there, we'll cut out an average of eight hours.  That leaves us with 16 hours.  Now, many of us have full-time jobs.  Cut another 9 hours (which allows for 8hrs work, and 1 hr commute total).  What now?  That's right (simple math, I can handle this) 7 hrs. From that 7 hrs, deduct approximately 4 hrs for hygiene, preparing meals, and eating.  We now have 3 hours a day to use during the work week.  Come the weekend, we gain back 12hrs

M.E. or Coroner - Is there a Difference?

This week’s Forensic Friday post was inspired by a new television show.  Maybe you’ve seen it, maybe you haven’t, but I’m not going to name it.  All I’m going to say is they didn’t have their facts right, and as writers, we know the importance of that. In this show, they had the Medical Examiner accompany the detectives to question potential suspects.  Does that happen in the real world?  The answer is no.  If they did, why would we need detectives?  But the M.E. does assist criminal investigations in other ways. Most of the time, the terms M.E. (Medical Examiner) and Coroner are used interchangeably, but are they the same?  The basic answer is yes.  And depending on jurisdication, you can have either or.  If you are setting your novel in a real town, check out your facts to make sure you make mention of the right profession. The basic difference is a Coroner never used to need any medical training.  They could be a sheriff, newspaper publisher, neighborhood cafe owner, or local fun

To Share, or Not To Share

You've spent not only hours, but months, possibly years, perfecting your manuscript to the point you deem it ready to approach agents, and/or publishing houses directly.  But before you do, as writers we face the issue of whether to share our work with others, or hold onto it tightly. Of course, as the saying iron by iron is sharpened , there are benefits to sharing your work with fellow writers.  If they're experienced, and serious about the craft, they know what the industry is looking for more than necessarily an average reader. This isn't going to be a discussion on the importance of beta readers, or critique partners.  Nor is this post going to be cautionary tale that reminds you to know these people well before you forward your work.  In this post, I want to focus on a couple other areas. Online How much of your work do you share online?  I mean, obviously, this varies from author to author.  Remember this, though, everything you put online has the potential to

WMW Introduces J.E. Seymour

J.E. Seymour lives in a small town in seacoast NH.  J.E.’s first novel, “ Lead Poisoning ” was released by Mainly Murder Press on November 1 st , 2010.  J.E has had short stories published in three anthologies of crime fiction by New England writers - “Windchill,” “Deadfall,” and “Quarry;” in Thriller UK Magazine, and in numerous ezines, including Shots, Mouth Full of Bullets, Mysterical-E, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp and Shred of Evidence.   J.E. is the markets coordinator for the Short Mystery Fiction Society and a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.  You can visit her website here . Path to Publication It was a long, long road to the first novel.  I’ve been writing pretty much all my life, but never really thought about “being” a writer.  I wrote, illustrated (and did my own binding, with staples) my own little books when I was about nine years old.  I did some writing, with encouragement from teachers, in middle school (won some sort of prize for poetry