Friday, August 2, 2013

Title: All that glitters
By Author:  Kendra Yoder

Appearing in issue #32, August 12, 2013

Tag line:  The detectives expected a quick arrest in the jewelry story burglary – thanks to a reliable witness!  (Do you think that’s a typo?  Should that be jewelry store?)

Police characters:  Deputy Steve Fisher and Officer Robin Meyer

The gist: The cops are called to the scene of a burglary of an upscale jewelry store.  The glass display cases had been smashed, there was glass all over the floor, and a sledgehammer was propped against the wall.  The security camera had been smashed to bits.  The manager said she came in to the store early to set up for a sale and found the mess.  She heard the screeching of tires out back in the alleyway and ran to look and saw Dirk’s car tearing away from the scene.  She had fired Dirk a few weeks earlier.  She said he knew when the store was open and also where the alarm was located and how to disarm it.   The cops went to Dirk’s house and found him standing by his car, trunk open, holding a suitcase.  Officer Meyer noticed he had a rental car.  Dirk appeared nervous.  He claimed he had just gotten back from visiting a friend and had been there for two days.  He said his friend would verify this information.  The cops asked him about his past record.  Dirk said it was a B&E to a house and he had been 18.  The deputy wanted to get a warrant to search the house, but Officer Meyer had a hunch he didn’t do it. 

Crime scene:  Up-scale jewelry store. 

Clues:  The rental car. 

Suspects:  Dirk and the store manager.

Red herrings:  None. 

Solution:  Officer Robin Meyer needed to confirm when Dirk rented the car.  She suspected that when the store manager had learned of Dirk’s criminal record she realized she could rob the store and pin the crime on him.  Officer Meyer suspected the manager because she had said she saw Dirk’s car leaving the scene but Dirk had a rental. 

My two cents:  There are a few minor details I want to talk about.  Some have to do with this story and some have to do with writing these stories.   First, the tag line appears to have a typo in it.  That’s not the author’s fault.  Maybe it just reads funny?  

Second thing, this author has a deputy and an officer working together.  Deputies work for the county.  Officers work for the city.  They don’t normally ride around together and take calls from dispatch.   So that was odd.  I have to conclude that the author doesn’t know the difference between the two. 

Next thing, there was some mention in the beginning of the story about Deputy Fisher going to Las Vegas.  The author used that angle to have a theme.  She ended with, “I have a feeling Vegas would have your money on this bet. “   I don’t have any problem with this tactic, but here’s where I said, huh?   Officer Robin asked the deputy if he was going to Vegas to gamble, and he said no, that he was going for the sun.  Then he blushed.  Doesn’t seem the type to be out rousting bad guys, does it?  I guess it takes all kinds but some make better story characters than others.  What a wimp. Tough guys don’t blush.  And most men would say they’re going to Vegas to have some fun; gamble, party with the guys, drink, and chase women.   Unless he was gay.  Then he could say he’s going for the shows and shopping.  Wouldn’t WW have a fit? Maybe the author had more interesting things for this guy to do in Vegas, but WW threw in the sun angle to be squeaky clean.  So that’s the lesson here.  No adult stuff allowed…except for murder and mayhem of course.   :)

Next, the jewelry store manager fired the guy because she found out he had a criminal record, but she didn’t change the alarm code?   Duh.

Upscale jewelry stores check out potential employee’s criminal records BEFORE they hire them and tell them the security alarm codes.  Duh again. 

You don’t really need a big ole sledge hammer to break a couple of glass cases.  That might have been overkill on the manager’s part.  

When the cops were talking to Dirk, they asked him to tell them about his past burglary conviction, but in actuality they would have looked that up on their MDT (mobile data terminal)  in their cruiser before they even got there and they would have already known all that.    This part was not necessary for the story and a waste of words.  Just knowing he had a past burglary record was sufficient.  The reader doesn’t need to hear the details.   Don’t use up your 700 words needlessly. 

I know this is just a little you-solve-it story and as story tellers we don’t always follow real procedures,  but  just FYI:  If  there was a possibility they were going to arrest this guy, the police wouldn’t be asking him any questions without Miranda warnings being read first.  Anything this guy says in response to police questions before Miranda would be suppressed, in other words not allowed in court.  He could confess to the crime and the jury would never hear it.  Cops don’t chit-chat with suspects for that very reason.  Citizens don’t have to speak with the police.  If you’re ever in that position, remain silent.  It is your right.


Mary Jo said...

Jody, I read this story and of course I did not realize all the technical stuff you have pointed out. What bothered me was that the manager was all dressed up for work in an up scale jewelry store, but it turns out she was the one swinging a heavy sledge hammer with glass all over the place. But not on her? And she didn't even break a sweat?

It would be interesting to know just how much editing was done on this story. I think that someone trying to sell a mystery probably made it as accurate as possible. Am I wrong? I guess we will never know.

Jody E. Lebel said...

I lifted a sledge hammer once (just writing that makes he want to break out in that song... I want to be ta-da-da...your sledge hammer -- but back to the story) and it's very heavy. I don't think it would take much effort to break the top of the glass with it. Just one moderate bang would do it. So no sweat. She had time to dust herself off. And clean her fingerprints off the handle of the hammer. I know I would make sure I didn't have any evidence on me. But if there were particles of glass on her clothes or shoes, she could say it was because she was walking around and leaning into the cases to see what was missing. Sounds reasonable. Also she must have approached the security camera at such an angle that it didn't record her as she smashed that.

Mary Jo said...

Where did she get the sledge hammer? Do you have one? I don't. Security cameras are not usually within arm's reach. Did she hit that with the hammer? What a woman!

Jody E. Lebel said...

The story said a sledge hammer was propped against the wall. How she got it in the store without being seen on the security cameras is anybody's guess, but I supposed as she is the manager she knows the camera angles. It also said the camera was smashed to bits, so I assumed it was the same hammer. I don't own a sledge hammer myself, but I used to be married to a carpenter who carried one in his truck for demolition purposes.

Mary Hicks said...

Yeah, sledge hammers are pretty common. And I used to have display counters in my store that a regular hammer would have bounced off of before breaking that glass!

Display counters are not like iced-tea glass, glass. Did that make sense?? :-)

Jody E. Lebel said...

Hi Mary, thanks for chiming in. Do you think one of those glass punch tools, the ones they keep in cars to break the windows in an emergency, would break that display glass?

Mary Hicks said...

I've never seen anyone break a window with a punch tool... so i wouldn't know. I just know how strong display cases are. :-)

Once my husband and I owned a property that had an apartment over it. ( a second floor ) And it had a double glass door out to a balcony. The glass got condensation between the glass panels.

Looked nasty! We decided to break the glass out and put screens in the door. ( We were REAL YOUNG and stupid too! )
My husband was a big, strong guy. We never even broke that glass. He was using a tool between a large hammer and a sledge, but it just bounced back when he hit it! I would have never believed it if I hadn't been there. :-) I even took a swing at it! :-D

Mary Jo said...

Yeah, tempered glass is very strong. I worked in a health department clinic where we had floor to ceiling glass windows. One day a kid threw a chair into the glass. I was sure it was going to shatter and shower him with glass shards. Actually, it rippled, but did not break.

Chris said...

You have such interesting conversations on here, Jody. I've swung a sledgehammer when we were demolishing an old coal bunker in our garden and it's not easy (especially at five foot and a smidgeon) but it does pack a punch. So it seems that's what would be needed to get through this toughened display cabinet glass.

I haven't read this story yet - I'm sure I'll get it forwarded sometime this week :-) - but I reckon maybe the reason they asked the suspect about his criminal record was to see his reaction. Even if they have already got the details from that MDT thingy you mentioned, they could still learn something from his response to being questioned about it. Just a thought.

I took along some of your POV and Dialogue tip-sheets to my writers' circle meeting yesterday, Jody, so thanks again for those. Very useful.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, oh, you're welcome. Our RWA chapter met this week, too. Our speaker was author Sara Humphreys and she talked about putting together a street team to promote your book. Interesting idea.

BTW I got my first UK rejection this week from Woman's Weekly. I'm going to try again...

Chris said...

Attagirl. First step on the road to acceptance is all too often rejection, so that one's out of the way. Did they email you the answer, Jody, or mail it? I had two rejections in the post this week from Woman's World, one of which was a romance I submitted FIFTEEN months ago - incredible, huh? - and the other one (sent to me in the same envelope) a mini-mystery I submitted at the start of this year, soon after I started getting help from yours and Kate's websites. I'm now reworking it to try elsewhere. Waste not, want not. On the upside, I had two acceptances, too, one from India and another from Weekly News here in the UK. Silver lining and all that.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Chris, you go, gurl. Two acceptances...yay! I didn't know India had an English language magazine...interesting.

I got the rejection in the mail. They used one of my stamps I got from you.

Chris said...

Glad the stamps 'sort of' came in useful, Jody, even if it was a no. Better luck next time.

The Indian mag is called New Woman ( but I don't include it in the list of overseas markets American authors might like to try simply because the money, compared to what you have been used to with WW, is low. They pay by the word, up to 2,000 words, and it's not about to get you leaping out of your seats. It is a lovely glossy mag, though, as you can see if you go to the website and flick through a sample copy, and I love to see my stories in it so I go with the flow on payment and submit anyway. Romances are welcome, so it's up to you if you want to give them a try. I can email a couple of those they've taken from me if you want to see what they like. They buy all rights to the story but as you'd need to use Indian names and tone, it's not as if you are going to try it anywhere else anyway.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Sure, I'll give it a try. Please send me your samples. I like to have many sticks in the fire. Thanks.

Mary Hicks said...

Hi Jody, I posted a question on Kate's WW site about that up-side-down clue box on the mystery page, then realized I probably should have ask you my question.:-)

Does the writer do the clues and answer box or does WW do that?


Jody E. Lebel said...

Hi Mary, you do all of that. The only thing WW does is the tag line. And remember, the solution (upside down yellow box) is included in your 700 word count.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'clues' though. I'm thinking you mean the tag line?

Mary Hicks said...

Jody, I see where 'clue' would be confusing... Used the wrong word. I wrote a story, but didn't realize I was supposed to include the solution box. :-)

I gave the ending in the story too, am I not suppose to do that?

I'm not normally this easily confused. Really! :-D

Jody E. Lebel said...

Mary, no, don't give the ending in the story. That's what the reader is trying to do...solve it with the clues you'd planted in the story. The ending is really the solution. Are you able to get WW where you live? I could send you a few mystery stories to study if you want.

Mary Hicks said...

Jody, that's so nice of you... I live in Oklahoma, so I can get WW. I've bought the last five issues. This was my first try at mystery. :-)

In reading the guidelines, I didn't see anything about solution box being included. That does make a short story!
Oh well, back to the drawing board. :-)
I've submitted two romances, haven't heard back.

Thanks for helping me.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Hmmm... maybe you're looking at the romance guidelines? Here's the mystery ones and they say it pretty clearly.

WOMAN'S WORLD FICTION GUIDELINES Mini mystery guidelines: We purchase short "solve-it-yourself" mysteries of 700 words--a count that includes the narrative and the solution. Stories should be cleverly plotted, entertaining cliffhangers that end with a challenge to the reader to figure out “whodunit” or “howdunit.” The solution to the mystery is provided in a separate box. Robbery, burglary, fraud and murder are acceptable subjects, but spare the readers any gory details or excessive violence, please! We are also not interested in ghost stories, science fiction or fantasy.We pay $500 per mystery and retain First North American Serial Rights for six months after publication.IMPORTANT NOTES:Manuscripts should be double-spaced in legible size type.Where to send manuscripts: Fiction Editor, Woman's World, 270 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632. Indicate Mini Mystery or Romance on the envelope.How to send manuscripts: (1) You must include a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to receive a reply. Manuscripts not accompanied by a SASE will be discarded. Note: A #10 SASE is necessary not just for a response, but for your contract if we purchase your story. (2) Please DO NOT fax or e-mail manuscripts--because such submissions do not include SASEs, we have no means of responding to your submission. Get to know us: Please familiarize yourself thoroughly with our romances and mini mysteries before submitting your work.Be patient: Because we receive a tremendous volume of manuscripts, our turnaround time may range from one to six months. If you still have not heard from us after that time, feel free to re-submit your manuscript. Please do not call or write us to inquire about a manuscript's status.

Mary Hicks said...

Thanks, Jody. i hadn't seen that before. I copied and pasted to a file. Thanks again!

Julia said...

I enjoyed All That Glitters very much. Although I used to be a small-town newspaper reporter and, at that time was necessarily aware of things like Deputies do this and Officers do that, etc., it did not bother me at all that the story had a deputy working with an officer. I most particularly enjoyed the rounding out of the story that was accomplished by referring back to the Vegas trip. Also, I did not think that a guy who blushes isn't macho enough to be a cop. That's a silly little nit-pick. (I have a son who blushes and he's not just a cop but a National Guard soldier as well, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I know that many times cops will ask a question to which they already have the answer, so it was fine with me that they asked the suspect to tell them about his record; they wanted to know if he was lying was my take on their motive. I thought the author did very well with only 700 words to work with. I'd give this story an A.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Thanks for stopping by, Julia. Opposing viewpoints are always interesting. I'm glad you liked the story. WW has had many, many great tales over the years. My main counter-point to your comments is that ALL the stories have a 700-word count so to say that the author did well with only 700 words to work with has no meaning. The stories either work or they don't. 700 words has nothing to do with it. As far as being nit-picky, that's what critics do. What may be little and silly to you, might not be to the next reader. Or this reader. And as writers there's a value in understanding that because we do write for mass markets.
Speaking of values, the only one I can find in having him explain his past history is that it minimizes his degree of criminality enough to make the reader reconsider his guilt, which when you think about it may not be a good move on the author's part. Come back and visit again. My door is always open. Bring cookies.

Julia said...

Okay, thanks for the invitation. Toll-house work for you? Julia