Friday, January 23, 2015

This blog is on VACATION!  woo-hoo. 

I'll catch up when I return in two weeks.

Behave.  There's a snack in the fridge.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Take a little test.

Can you guess what these British phrases mean?

See if you'd fit in in the UK.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A little contest to start the new year....

65 Little Words Writing Competition – February 2015

Writing Competition

1st Prize: £260.00

2nd Prize: £195.00

Closing date: February 10th 2015

Entry fee: £2.00 or FREE to Premier1 Write, Learn and Publish Members

You have just 65 words or less including the title to write a complete story. It’s a tough one but you can do it and we look forward to receiving your submissions.

Of course it doesn’t have to be exactly 65 words but if you win the top prize, it’s equivalent to £4.00 per word.

Your submission must be inspired by the photo.

Submissions must be original and previously unpublished.

Submissions must be written in English.

Multiple submissions are welcome provided the correct fees are paid.

Submissions must be received on or before the closing date and pasted into the body of the email.

Submissions must be sent via email to:
A brilliant concept  - sort of.

I did a little experiment.  I took someone else's WW mystery story that sold (it was well over a year old) and I copied it.  Not word for word, but I copied the style, the pacing, the number of characters, how the detective thought.  Everything.  But I changed everything.  If the deceased was a male, mine was a female.  If the story took place in the country, mine was smack in the middle of the city.  If the plot included a greedy developer who wanted to build a housing project, mine wanted to build a casino. If the killer used poison, my killer smothered the victim.  The only thing I kept the same was the type of clue; that only the real killer could know some detail.  I kept it because WW uses it so often, I figured they were comfortable with it.  So ... same story but a different story.

It made it past the first readers.  But it got rejected by Johnene. 

So much for that bright idea.   But it was worth a try.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Appearing in issue #3, January 19, 2015

Title:  What goes up

By Author:  Andrew Armstrong


Tag line:     If the tenants knew what had happened to Mr. Blodgett, they weren’t talking …

Police characters:   Sgt. James Mincher and Det. Gary Gorman

The gist:    There is an apartment building with five floors.  There are four tenants currently occupying the building, the top floor had been recently renovated and was ready to rent.  The building manager, Mr. Blodgett, was found dead, slumped in the elevator, a knife in his chest.  The police noted there was little blood in the elevator indicating he had been killed somewhere else.

Mrs. Rogers, who lives on the 2nd floor, found the dead man.  She was so startled and horrified she screamed when she found the body.

Joe Beasley lives on the 1st floor.  He is the building super, has lived there 15 years, and gets a reduction in his rent.   He said he spoke to Mr. Blodgett that morning to talk about the 5th floor apartment.  Mr. B wanted to know if it was ready for the new tenant who was due to move in shortly.  Joe claimed that he heard Mr. B get into the elevator and head up to inspect the apartment.  He assumed Mr. B left after that but he didn’t see him go because Joe was downstairs in the basement working on the old water heater. Joe claimed that Mr. B was cheap and didn’t give him enough funds to replace items that broke, and Joe always had to try to fix things.

Joe said the man on the 3rd floor was a writer who was having trouble making his rent and was, in fact, two months behind.   Joe said he heard the elevator come back down from the 5th floor and stop at the 3rd floor, and it had stopped for awhile.  Joe figured Mr. B was confronting the writer about his late rent. Joe said although he was in the basement working this morning that his hearing was pretty good, and he said he lived there long enough to know how things worked, and he definitely heard the elevator stop on the 3rd floor.  

A woman lived on the 4th floor, but she was a flight attendant and was often gone for a week or longer.  She was away at the present time.

Mrs. Rogers said when she found the body she went to the 1st floor and banged on Joe’s door and when he didn’t answer, she ran out into the street and got two men to help.  One was a doctor, who saw right away that Mr. B was dead. They found Joe downstairs and told him what had happened. 

The police took a look at the 5th floor apartment.  It was sparkly clean, no sign of any trauma or struggle there.

The police spoke to the writer on the 3rd floor.  He claimed he hadn’t seen Mr. B in over a week.  He said he had gotten a nice advance on a script, so he had caught up on his rent a few days ago by sending in a check.

The police went back to Joe and told him he had heard wrong about the writer.  The police wondered about something else Joe had told them.  

Crime scene:    An apartment building.

Clues:    Joe’s hearing.

Suspects:   The writer.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:  Joe claimed he had good hearing and heard the elevator stop at the 3rd floor, but he never heard Mrs. Rogers screaming or the commotion with the two men she got help from. Joe and Mr. B had had an argument over the way Mr. B ran the building.  Mr. B threatened to fire Joe.  Joe killed him on the 5th floor, moved the body to the elevator then went back and cleaned up the mess.  After that he took the stairs to the basement to tinker with the water heater to give himself an alibi.

My two cents:    It was refreshing to read a well-written, brisk paced story that had no problems in it. The clue was good and buried well.  No police work problems.  In fact I can’t find anything major to complain about. 

I would have liked to have seen a tiny bit more of a hint that Joe and Mr. B weren’t getting along. And the tag line makes no sense, but that’s not the author’s fault.

Gotta say author Armstrong did a bang-up job.  This one deserves 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Okay, let's brainstorm.  Here's the setup:
"Cold case"

Det. Sattler sat with the file spread before her.  Her single desk lamp was the only bright spot in her darkened house.  Her coffee had long gone cold and her back ached from sitting so long.  This case was going to be the death of her.  Cold cases were tough by their very nature, but this one was off the charts.

 Tom, a homeless town man with a talent for finding secrets in the trash cans in a swanky neighborhood had been found dead ten months ago  next to his favorite Dumpster, shot with a small caliber firearm.  It was suggested by the news media that there were more than a few good citizens who wondered if their secrets died with him.  Det. Sattler’s gut had her wondering if one of those secrets may have gotten him killed, but it was difficult to know where to focus the investigation because the man had so much bad karma it was a wonder he hadn't been killed sooner.  She had dozens of citizen statements from people who had known him and not one had a good word for Tom.

Who had the most to gain by his death?  Det. Sattler began sorting through the information and making piles. His two ex-wives hated him.  Everyone at his old job hated him. His brother hated him. He was suing his manager who had fired him. And all the tenants in his old cop-op signed a petition and got him evicted.  How he really ended up on the streets wasn't clear, but if you had the nerve to ask him he'd tell you he liked living like a bum, that he finally had peace, and all the SOBs could take a hike.

Besides the assorted collection of junk that he had picked up the day he died from the streets and out of the rubbish, Tom had had a receipt in his pants pocket for a luxury suite at the most expensive hotel in town.  An odd thing to have when one is homeless.  The name was difficult to read as it had gotten wet in the garbage.  Someone had paid a lot of cash for one night.
The receipt had been tagged into evidence and mostly forgotten but Det. Sattler
had a hunch it was connected to Tom’s death. 

We have a lot to work with here.  Who do you think killed Tom?  And why?

Monday, January 12, 2015

A little off the subject ....

I'm taking a marketing class and they're talking about celebrity endorsements.  I forgot I have a clip of Sean C promoting my book.  Have a listen... it's only a minute long.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Appearing in issue #2, January 12, 2015

Title:  The hold up

By Author:  John M. Floyd


Tag line:   The thief should have known better than to try to outwit Angela Potts and Sheriff Jones!

Police characters:   Sheriff Charles Jones.

The gist:    Sheriff Jones arrives at the pawn shop five minutes after the call was dispatched as a robbery. Just as Jones had begun to interview the clerk, in walks Angela Potts.  She said she saw him in his patrol car, light bar flashing, and she followed him.  Then she added that she needed a new toaster anyway.  The clerk pointed Mrs. Potts to the appliance section. Jones said, “She isn’t here shopping for a toaster, she’s here to interfere with police business.”  Then Jones asks the clerk what the sign meant (Pawn-E Express) but she didn’t know.   The owner was not there but the clerk had just called him. 

Jones took a statement from the clerk.  She said a tall, bearded robber came in 15 minutes earlier, waved a big hunting knife under her nose, and demanded all the cash in the safe. He had on a wool cap, sunglasses, and work gloves, which he never took off.  He stuffed the cash into a grocery sack, then asked her for her wallet. He had no accent. He didn’t take her money, he just looked at her driver’s license.

Mrs. Potts asked how he could read her driver’s license with sunglasses on.  The clerk said he took it out of its little plastic sleeve, held it up to the light, then returned it and threw the wallet at her.  “Now I know who you are,” he said, “You better keep your mouth shut or I’ll be back.”

Sheriff Jones snorted, “I wouldn’t worry about that.  He’d know there’s not much you could tell us anyway.”

The clerk said the robber tucked the sack of bills under his arm and ran off down the street.  She didn’t see a car.

Sheriff Jones said, “Do you mind if I take a look around?” Mrs. Potts asked the clerk if the vehicle parked outside, a Ford Bronco, was hers.  She answered yes.  Mrs. Potts then asked her to take her keys out of her purse and unlock the car because the sheriff wanted to take a look in there.  Sheriff Potts said, “I do?” Mrs. Potts said she suspected the cash was in the Bronco.

Crime scene:     Pawn Shop.

Clues:    The robber wore work gloves.

Suspects:   The store clerk or some robber guy.

Red herrings:    None.   But if there were any, I bet they would be awful.

Solution:  If the robber wore gloves he wouldn’t have been able to manipulate the license out of the little plastic holder.

My two cents:    Right away, right at the tag line, I noticed WW is billing Potts before the sheriff.  “The thief should’ve known better than to try to outwit Angela Potts.  And, oh by the way, the town sheriff.”

There are soooo many things that don’t make sense in this silly little story.

Pawn shops take toasters?  You can buy a new one at Walmart for $8.99.  Anyway I thought it odd that Jones said Potts was there to interfere with police business when half the time he takes her to the crime scenes in his cruiser, and the other half he calls her to meet him there.

Pawn-E Express sounds like Pony Express to me.  But what do I know. And what that has to do with the robbery is not clear to me. Or anyone else for that matter.

Sheriff Jones snorting at a victim seems a wee bit unprofessional. Ya’ think?

Sheriff Jones said, “Do you mind if I take a look around?”  Earth to Sheriff.  It’s a crime scene.  You’re SUPPOSED to look around.

When Potts told the clerk that the sheriff wanted to look in her car, Sheriff Jones said, “I do?”  At this point my eyes begin to hurt from so much rolling around.  

The police can’t look in your car without your permission or a search warrant but of  course Mrs. Potts was probably bluffing to see how the clerk would react.  Because she’s brilliant and the sheriff is a dummy.

So no security camera in the store I suppose, and the clerk knows the combo to the safe.  Yep, that’s happening.  More eye rolling.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I can see fine when I’m wearing sunglasses.  That’s why they let me drive a car when the sun is shining.

“Now I know who you are,” he said, “You better keep your mouth shut or I’ll be back.”  Duh.  I know that the clerk made that up but doesn’t the author realize if he wanted to find her he would just come back to the pawn shop where she worked and he wouldn’t need her home address?   Wait, I think my left eye is stuck up there.  No, it’s okay, it came down.

So let me get this straight.  The story goes the robber took the license out of the plastic case, looked at it, and then put it back into the plastic case all nice and neat? What a polite thug.  Don’t see many of those.  And he didn’t take her money?  The author needs this handling of the license in the story to make his clue work but they way he tried to achieve that was so poorly executed that everyone in the universe had to suspend their disbelief.  Now one eye is twitching.

The pacing was poor, the writing was unimaginative.  Believable characters?  Naw.  This week they weren’t even acting like their usual selves.  Well, okay, I take that back.  Sheriff Jones was clueless as usual.  The clue (that the robber handled something he couldn’t possibly have with those gloves on) wasn’t bad but it got sucked up in a vortex of stupid.  The police work was off.  There was no motive.  None.

This story is no bueno.  Now, excuse me while I go get some ice for my eye.  (I’ll get you for this, John.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.

Here Is The Glorious Winner:
1. When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

And Now, The Honorable Mentions:
2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger. The chef’s claim was approved.

3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.

4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn’t discovered for 3 days.

5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.

6.. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer… $15. [If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime committed?]

7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he’d just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.

8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, “Yes, officer, that’s her. That’s the lady I stole the purse from.”

9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 5 A.M., flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast… The frustrated gunman walked away. [*A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER]

10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home’s sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever had and the perp had been punished enough!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Appearing in issue #1, January 5, 2015

Title:  Cleaning house

By Author:  Marianna Heusler


Tag line:     The detectives wondered if the cleaning lady had been up to her dirty tricks again…

Police characters:   Detective Kevin McCarthy and Detective Lola Wheeler

The gist:    A friendly and hardworking cleaning lady, Penny Bartell, was found shot to death in her home.   he had a number of clients in the building close by.  When the police checked her out, they found she had a long criminal record that included larceny and check fraud.  She also had a habit of romancing older men and swindling them out of their money. Her real name was Doris Dupree.

The two detectives began to interview Penny’s clients. Eleanor Stafford said Penny was nosy and she talked a lot. Eleanor had a photo of her deceased father on the piano.  She said he died six years after his wife had passed and that he never got over her death.  She had hired Penny from a notice on the bulletin board.

The next client’s name was Amelia Gordon.  She said that Doris asked a lot of questions of her and seemed interested in her family.  Amelia confided that she had told the cleaning lady about how she had just moved her uncle into a nursing home and they commiserated over the cost.  She had hired the cleaning woman because Mrs. Mason recommended her.

Next the detectives spoke with Mrs. Mason.  She said Penny was an odd duck and she always felt she was prying as she was cleaning.   She said she overheard Penny talking to her boyfriend on the phone one time. She hired her from an ad posted in the laundry room.

Detective McCarthy said to his partner, “Time to question the boyfriend.”

Detective Wheeler replied, “I don’t think so, I think the cleaning lady’s past finally caught up to her.”

Crime scene:    The cleaning lady’s home.

Clues:    Penny’s past.

Suspects:  Her clients, Eleanor, Amelia, and Mrs. Mason.

Red herrings:    Eleanor's father's photo.   It was just thrown in there to get us off the trail.  And it did.

Solution:  Amelia.  She knew Penny’s real name was Doris.  She recognized her as the woman who had swindled her uncle and she decided to take revenge.

My two cents:    Now, is this the same uncle who is in the nursing home?  Or a different uncle?  There was no mention of how much this nursing home uncle was worth and, in fact, the niece was complaining about the cost.  It seemed to contradict the whole gist of the story of this money-grubbing woman going after rich old men.  I realize that people who have money often complain about the cost of things, but it didn’t serve this tale well.

I know there were a lot of names to confuse the reader, and it did the trick.  I got a little lost on this story and after a few paragraphs of trying to keep everybody straight, I didn’t really care who did it anymore.

 There didn’t seem to be a clear motive.  A mysterious boyfriend on the phone?  Could have been anybody.
The clue is the same tired clue we always get.  Only the murderer knows a detail that they blab about.

This story is too loosey-goosey for my taste.  But it was well written and  had good pacing.  There was a general motive in that the cleaning lady swindled old men and had been jailed for it in the past.  It had a female detective who solved the crime and it had three suspects – both favorites of WW.  And there were no police procedure problems.  So it gets five stars.  But I'm not happy.