Sunday, June 29, 2014

Appearing in issue #28, July 14, 2014

Title:  A kernel of untruth

By Author:  Adrian Ludens


Tag line:    Sara Miller was determined to find the missing money!

Police characters:   None.

The gist:    Sara returns home from work to find her three kids, aged 6, 9 and 12, just finishing up a movie she had rented.  The babysitter said the kids were fine and she’d be glad to return the CD on her way home.  Sara turned to the fridge to get the four $5 bills she had placed there to pay the sitter and discovered the money was missing.  She asked her children if they had seen the $20 and who might have taken it.  The two younger kids verbally said they didn’t take it but the older son just shrugged.  Everyone was in the kitchen alone at some point during the movie making popcorn, getting drinks, or cleaning up. The sitter claimed she never even saw money on the fridge. Sara asked the sitter to turn out her pockets, which she did.  A $5 bill was in there along with her lip gloss.  The older son pointed that out but the sitter told him “I had that money when I got here.  It’s not one of the fives from the fridge, so chill.” The babysitter offered to just take $10 for the sitting job and Sara thought that was nice of her.  Then Sara decided to return the movie to the rental store herself. 

How did Sara know the money was in the CD case?

Crime scene:    Sara’s home.

Clues:    Only the thief knew the denominations of the $20.

Suspects:  The story suggests it might be the older son or the babysitter.

Red herrings:    The older son didn’t answer his mother when asked about the money, he just shrugged, making him look a bit guilty.

Solution: The babysitter took the money when she went to make popcorn and then hid it in the CD case when the kids all ran to greet their mom. She gave herself away by saying her $5 bill wasn’t one of the ones on the fridge when she claimed she never saw the money.

My two cents:    Next time the sitter will stick the money in her bra and be more careful what she says.  That is, if anyone will hire her now that she’s ruined her reputation.  She committed babysitter job suicide. And she only got $10 for the gig.  Heh heh.

I have to give this story 5 stars.  I could find nothing wrong with it.  It was written well, flowed along, and the author created good characters. It did use a standard, tired, and unoriginal formula, but don't they all?

The title fit.  I wish WW had used a more creative tag line.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

101 Things the Author Needs to Know
About the Police and the Law

"Is drug residue considered possession?"

 Yes.  No.  Maybe.
 What does that mean for you as an author?

YES.  Your character can be charged with possession of a controlled substance in most states for trace amounts as long as the residue can be tested chemically and identified as such.  What is residue?  Ashes can be residue.  The film of smoke inside a pipe is residue.  The dust left on the baggie from powder cocaine is residue.
Possession can be a felony.  Or it can be a misdemeanor, a lesser charge.  It will depend on the type of drug.  In most states possessing any amount of heroin is a felony.  In many situations the quantity of the drug will determine the type of charge your hero will be faced with.   Also the reason for possessing the drug will come into play.  Was it for personal use?  Or to sell?  Possessing drugs for personal use usually incurs less severe charges than possession with the intent to sell. Those who use drugs are the victims of those who sell them. A user harms only himself; a seller harms many.
However, possession is nonetheless a crime, and even mere possession of small amounts can be charged as a felony in states that have strict drug possession laws.  There could also be various aggravating circumstances that will turn a misdemeanor amount of drugs into a felony charge.  If a person was caught with drugs around a school, for example.  Or if they are a repeat offender.
 Check the laws in the state in which you are setting your scene.
NO.  You cannot be charged with possession of a controlled substance if the alleged drug is marijuana and you live in a state that allows a citizen to possess less than an ounce.  California, Georgia and Massachusetts are examples of such states. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still against the law, but it’s a misdemeanor with a penalty of a fine.
MAYBE.  In most states you cannot be convicted of possession of a controlled substance it if is found in body tissues or fluids.  This happens when someone is stopped by the cops and they eat the drugs they have on them.  If they are observed consuming drugs they can be charged with obstruction of justice or tampering with evidence…but  usually not possession.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Appearing in issue #25, June 23, 2014

Title: The body on the beach 

By Author:  Kendra Yoder


Tag line:     The detective had to learn the victim’s identify before he could find the culprit!

Police characters:   Detective Clarence Melton

The gist:    A female body is found on Gilligan’s beach, the apparent victim of strangulation. The coroner estimated the time of death to be the night before. The victim’s identity was not known. The woman who found the body was out walking her dog.  She said she saw a blue sports car pulled off the road last night but thought it was teenagers necking.  She did hear a shriek but thought again it was them goofing around.  She got a partial license plate of TMJ.  Very shortly the victim was identified as a local woman from the next town over. The sheriff verified the dog walker’s whereabouts and did not consider her a suspect.  The police department found two cars that matched the description and had a partial tag of TMJ.  The detective told the first guy, a burly, tattooed bouncer, that a woman had been strangled on Gilligan’s Beach.  The man recognized the woman’s photo as a customer at his bar.  When asked if he saw her yesterday at the bar, he claimed he was off work yesterday and out with friends. The second suspect, a twitchy, hollow-cheeked, watery-eyed man was shown a photo of the victim and told she was murdered.  He said he didn’t recognize the woman and added he wasn’t anywhere near Gilligan’s beach. 

Crime scene:    Gilligan’s Beach

Clues:    Only the perp knew where the killing took place.

Suspects:   The two men with the partial plate of TMJ.

Red herrings:     I suppose the burly tattooed guy is a red herring.  I mean as opposed to the little hollow skinny twitchy dude.

Solution:   The second guy gave himself away when he said he hadn’t been anywhere near Gilligan’s Beach, as the detective never mentioned where the murder had taken place.  The woman had refused his advances so he murdered her.

My two cents:    Yawn. 

What a coinkydink that two men in town have little blue sports cars with the same partial plate.

Why the sheriff is blabbing to everyone that the victim was strangled at the beach is anyone’s guess.  It’s a rookie mistake.

What kind of crackpot murders a woman because she doesn’t want to have sex  with him?  And I don’t know why.  He sounds wonderful. I’m thinking there’s a long list of dead women in twitchy’s past.

I’m not sure why we had to have an unknown victim to make this story work.

To like the story, you have to like the characters.  The sheriff is not likeable.  He complains about the beach being a tourist trap, he sourly thinks the murder must have something to do with alcohol, he sighs and winces, and is just overall a tedious guy.

Two stars.  This story was dull, unexciting, lackluster, and lifeless.   Did I mention it was dull?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

101 Things the Author Needs to Know

About the Police and the Law

"Can the police lie to me?"


The short answer is yes.

The Supreme Court has ruled that it is okay for the police to stretch the truth in the course of an investigation.

What does that mean for you?

The police can tell you that they have a confession from someone else that implicates you…when they don’t.

The police can tell you they have a security video of you committing a crime…when they don’t.

The police can tell you there were fingerprints left behind that they believe are yours…when they don’t.

They have a job to do…to catch bad guys.  Bad buys lie all the time, so this ability of theirs to stretch the truth evens up the playing field a little.

There are situations where they cannot fib.  Telling you your license is expired when it’s not.  Telling you your taillights are out, when they’re fine.  But when the police officer gets on the witness stand and tells the judge that when he pulled you over and you rolled down the window he detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the interior of the car, even if it is a lie, how can it be questioned? He said he smelled it.  Now it’s your lawyer’s job to try to mitigate the damage the officer has done, or try to discredit the officer.  Not an easy thing to do.
Always be polite, refuse to answer any questions, ask for a lawyer. It is your Constitutional right and it cannot be held against you.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Be sure to stop by on Wednesday's to check out the weekly installments from my latest endeavor -

101 Things the Author Needs to Know About the Police and the Law

Things like
Can the police lie to me?
Is residue considered possession?
Can the police look in my yard?
Can I rely on legal advice from the cops?
Can I get a DUI on a bicycle?
Am I being recorded in the back of the cruiser?
Is a Rent-A-Cop a real cop?

And much, much more.

Every one of the subjects could be the basis for your next story.

See you on hump day :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Appearing in issue #24, June 16, 2014

Title:  Playing hardball

By Author:  Gary Delafield


Tag line:     It looked like someone in Cody’s life was a stone-cold killer…but who?

Police characters:   Sheriff Joe Watkins

The gist:    Cody lay dead, a bloody stone doorstop the apparent weapon. His wife, home from shopping with two unpacked store bags nearby, found her husband.  Cody had been planning a get-together with his buds to watch the ball game, so she went to the mall. The wife claimed she was only gone for about an hour to an hour and a half and when she got home the house was quiet.  She appeared to be upset, but made a comment about now really being a baseball widow.  She gave the sheriff the name of the two pals, although she never actually saw them arrive; Jim co-owner with Cody of an auto repair shop, and Nathan, owner of Espresso Garden coffee shop.

When the sheriff arrived at the coffee shop to speak with Nathan, the man thought he was a customer and offered coffee.  Nathan said he arrived at Cody’s for the game a little before one, didn’t see anyone including the wife, and he left early because he said Cody was drinking and trying to get him to wager on the game.  Jim had not arrived by the time Nathan left.

When the sheriff questioned Jim, he was home watching the second game of a double header.  He said he went to Cody’s house, rang the bell, but no one answered. The sheriff asked if the wife was there and Jim said, no, she had gone out shopping. He said he looked in the window and saw the TV was not on and surmised that Cody had changed his mind about getting together.

The sheriff knew who had killed Cody.

Crime scene:    Cody’s house.

Clues:    The fact that the wife was shopping.

Suspects:   Nathan, the wife, or Jim.

Red herrings:    The ‘widow’ remark made her look cold, perhaps guilty.   

Solution:  How could Jim know that the wife was out shopping if he never went into the house?  Jim and Cody argued about business, it became physical, and Jim grabbed a stone doorstop and hit, and killed, Cody.

My two cents:    This story flowed along well. The police work was good.  Although not in the ‘gist’ above the story mentions that the sheriff wouldn’t have the official coroner’s report until tomorrow, but that a blow to the head appeared to be the cause. The title and the tag line both work. We have three suspects.  Although not a great red herring the cold remark from the wife did put a little suspicion on her. The clue is a well used one; only the killer knows the details, but frankly that’s how it is in the real world, and that’s how detectives get their man.  Or woman.

I can’t find a reason not to give this story 5 stars.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Appearing in issue #22, June 2, 2014

Title:  Bank caper

By Author:  Herschel Cozine

Tag line:   The detective was off-duty when the problem occurred, but his interfering mother-in-law was on the case!  

Police characters:   Police detective (not named in this piece) and Gladys, his mother-in-law

The gist:    On his day off this detective was stuck driving his mother-in-law to her hair appointment.  The salon was located next to a bank.  As they arrived at the salon a woman came rushing from the bank, pointing to a retreating man, and yelling that he had robbed her of $50.  The detective escorted the man back to the woman and notified him that he was accused of stealing her money.  He claimed he had just gotten it out of the ATM.  She claimed she had been filling out a deposit slip and the man grabbed her money and left the bank. The detective asked the man for an ATM receipt which he said he threw in the trash.  Said trash can was located and no receipt was found.  The man claimed the woman must have dug the receipt out of the trash in order to blame him.

Gladys told her son-in-law that that man was lying and to have him give the woman back her money.  How did she know?

Crime scene:    Outside the bank.

Clues:    The amount of money.

Suspects:   Only the man.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   ATMs only dispense twenty-dollar bills.  He couldn’t have withdrawn $50.

My two cents:    Well, once again the old lady saved the day.  WW loves old ladies.  My problem with this story is that the officer, who is a detective, is always portrayed as being dumb.  This story has him poking through the trash can instead of asking the bank for their security video footage, not only of the inside of the bank where she was filling out her deposit slip, but also of the ATM machine.  And who doesn’t know that ATMs only dispense 20s?  Apparently our trained, years-on-the-job, passed-the-detective-exam officer didn’t.  Good thing he had an old lady with him.

I’ll give this story 3 stars for being well written and moving at a good pace, but I didn’t enjoy watching this man fumble around and be made to look like an idiot.

Just to be sure ...

Folks, I checked with an entertainment lawyer I have dealt with in the past and he's confident that no infringement of rights is taking place by having the submission published on this site for the purposes of a learning tool for authors who want to write for WW. No money was exchanged and the eventual published work did not get copied and posted,  but it could fall into a gray area if WW wanted to get testy.  He suggested we refrain from this practice as a general principle.  No sense poking the to speak.  All that would happen would be a formal notice to remove the piece and an admonishment to refrain from such future postings.  And these concerns would be addressed to me as owner of the blog and as the 'poster'. 

So I've removed Tamara's submission with thanks for letting us take a peek into the process.  In the future we'll just have to talk about what changes were made without posting the whole story.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Appearing in issue #23, June 9, 2014

Title:  A serious case of murder

By Author:  Tamara Shaffer


Tag line:     Lily Blaine’s love of houseplants had gone to her head…

Police characters:   Detective Janice Pinkton, Detective Martin Owen

The gist:    Lily Blaine was found dead in her apartment, her head bludgeoned with a large potted plant that now lay shattered on the floor along with the soil and wilted white blooms of a cereus, a night blooming plant.  The detectives found no signs of forced entry.  The ME set the time of death at about midnight. She was found by the building manager, who called the police and also her next of kin on file, Rudy Blaine. Rudy was her current husband.  Neighbors had complained of loud arguments between the two.   

Niece Mimi arrived and was told of her aunt’s demise. Mimi claimed she saw her aunt just yesterday morning when she stopped by with pastries.  She told police she had come to discuss the trust fund that her aunt was setting up for her and her brother.  Mimi also told police that Lily and her current husband were quarreling over money.  She added that it was the same situation with Lily’s first husband. Mimi told the police that her aunt had a new boyfriend and that he seemed to be a nice guy.

 Just then her brother appeared, Robert.  Robert claimed he stopped in for tea yesterday afternoon and to help his aunt arrange her many plants.  Aunt Lily loved her plants.  Robert stated Lily was going on about her plant with the big white flowers.  Both Mimi and Robert claimed to have been home alone the night before.

The detectives began calling on the husbands and the current boyfriend.  Husband number one said he was home alone watching TV the night before.  He added that he loved being alone after being married to that nag Lily, and it was the happiest day of his life when she remarried.  Lily’s current husband actually laughed when he spoke to the detectives.  He said the last time he saw Lily was yesterday in his attorney’s office.  He added that he hated her, but wouldn’t kill her.  Lily’s current boyfriend was upset and crying.  He said they planned to marry and that last night he spoke to Lily and she said she was tired, so he went home after work and stayed there.

Detective Pinkton said that one of the suspects planted a self-incriminating clue.  What was it?

Crime scene:    Lily’s home.

Clues:    Night blooming plant.

Suspects:  The niece, the nephew, the two ex-husbands, and the current boyfriend.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  The nephew lied.  He was at his aunt’s home at night, not in the afternoon.  He mentioned the plant’s white flowers which only bloom at night. He wanted his trust fund sooner rather than later.

My two cents:    This was a tightly written story that followed the plant theme throughout.  The male detective confused ‘serious’ with ‘cereus’, the word serious is in the title, and in the end Det. Pinkton talked about a clue being planted.  Even the tag line works. 

The police work was spot on.  I could find no problems with it.  The characters were portrayed nicely.  You could see the different personalities with just a few words.  The story was paced well, and it was an enjoyable read.  Ms. Shaffer even gave us 5 suspects. 

Well done, Tamara.