Friday, June 19, 2015

Appearing in issue #24, June 15, 2015

Title:  The missing Mrs. Mooney

By Author:  Elizabeth Palmer


Tag line:    Once the detective reviewed the highlights of the case, she narrowed the list of suspects to one…

Police characters:   Detective Faith Wood

The gist:    Bank president, Gen Mooney, reported his wife missing.  She didn’t show up for their anniversary dinner at the restaurant last night, her phone went straight to voice mail, and her new dress was still hanging on the closet door when Mr. Mooney finally went home to check on her.  He claimed he had spoken to her yesterday as he left for work. He claimed she was first going to the gym and then had a salon appointment.  None of her friends that he called, according to the husband, had spoken to her or saw her after she left the salon.  Mr. Mooney feared that she had been kidnapped, although he hadn’t been contacted yet.  Mr. Mooney had not brought a photograph with him to the police station but Det. Wood noted the report the husband had filed listed her as 5’6”, 120 pounds with brown eyes and blonde hair.  When asked if he had a picture of his wife on his phone he glared at the cops and said his wife’s pics were on her own phone and the Internet and that she was always taking photos of herself.

Det. Wood interviewed the hairdresser who said Mrs. Mooney was there for a very long time getting her hair and nails done, and she had a facial.  She said it took a long time to bleach her long hair as she wanted a completely new look. She told police that there was a bit of a scene when the first Mrs. Mooney walked in.  The two wives exchanged venom.  It was divulged that Mr. Mooney had been seen flirting with his personal trainer. 

 Det. Wood’s next interview was at the gym.  She met with the woman Mr. Mooney was allegedly flirting with, a young, pretty blonde woman.  This woman told Det. Wood that the ‘older woman’ had been in the gym the previous day.  She said the wife was headed to the beauty salon when she left.  The trainer made a catty remark about how the hairdresser had her work cut out for her.  When asked if she had a relationship with Mr. Mooney, the trainer said no, adding that she doesn’t date married men, even ones with money.

 Det. Wood went on-line to view the victim’s profile.  The victim had posted that she was looking forward to her anniversary dinner with her husband. There were dozens of photos on the site, including shots of the wife and the personal trainer.  Det. Wood noticed that the wife and the trainer  looked quite alike except for their hair color.  So much so that they looked like sisters that were ten years apart.

 Just then Captain Bowen informed Det. Wood that Mrs. Mooney’s body had been found in Deer Lake.  He said they suspected suicide.  Det. Wood decided suicide was out as no woman gets her nails and hair done, posts how happy she is about her anniversary dinner on-line, and then goes and kills herself.

     But she had a suspect.

Crime scene:    Unknown.

Clues:    The wife’s hair color.  The husband glared at the cops when asked for a photo.  Not sure why he was glaring, but it displayed strange behavior.  I can tell you in real life distraught people, as well as guilty people, often behave oddly because they are under pressure.

Suspects:   According to the story, the ex-wife, the girlfriend, or some random kidnapper.

Red herrings:    None.

Solution:   The husband killed his wife.  He told the cops she was blonde, but she was a brunette the morning he told the cops he had last seen her.

My two cents:    I thought this was a smartly written story.  The clue was so well hidden (and I was looking for it) that I had to go back and read the story again.  It was refreshing to read a good whodunit that was modern and not corny or clichéd. I realize it's not within the author's control, but even the tag line fit.  Sometimes WW's tag line is so overt it gives the clue away.  Although a complete blonde job is not 'highlighting' it was still a clever hint.

Clue:  Excellent

Motive:  Spot on.

Police Work:  No problems.

Writing:  Nicely done.  Paced well.

Characters:  All believable.  The story had a bit more about the detective feeling a bit dowdy in her uniform next to the pretty blonde, etc.  I left those parts out for brevity but they did create a believable and likeable detective.


Tamara said...

What a clever clue. Good for you, Elizabeth Palmer.

bettye griffin said...

Am I the only one who, after reading that Mr. Mooney was a bank president, thought about the old Lucy Show on which Gale Gordon played Theodore J. Mooney, bank manager?

Good story. I couldn't find the clue, either.

Jody E. Lebel said...

Joan Dayton asked me a question:

"I don't have a problem with "All Rights" with WW, since I know of no other market for these stories. What is unclear to me is the right to the character's name. Is that considered part of the story or is it unrelated? The advice given so far is to read the contract, but the contract doesn't specify or address. Any ideas?"

I told her about John Floyd pubbing a collection of Angela Potts stories last December. Anybody got anything they can add?

Anonymous said...

Jody, I wonder if those were older stories. The rights used to revert after six months. Not sure exactly when it changed.

Jody E. Lebel said...


They could be older stories from before the rights changed but last year John told us that he had 70 rejections from WW... so it could be a mix.

Mary Jo said...

If characters are associated with stories where WW now owns all rights, I would think they could not be used in a different publication. Well, I'm no lawyer. It would be interesting to know why WW and some other magazines think they need all rights. In all the years WW has been in publication, has the magazine ever had occasion to make further use of these little snippette stories?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. I'm thinking perhaps WW is considering doing an on-line mag, ezine, and they want to cover themselves. They also might be considering a collection of some sort, which means the author has for all practical purposes donated the story to the book or special edition magazine as no further money is coming their way.

Mary Jo said...

That may very well happen. I doubt that WW is trying to take advantage of the writers who supply the stories. More likely, it is to save the time and money it would take to arrange new contractual agreements with writers who could be who knows where. It might help the writer if the original contract provided a percentage of any profit from future use. Artists in other fields have always had this protection, and now may be fighting to maintain it. In the case of the WW fiction, the amount of money involved for each individual writer probably would not be worth quibbling over. I would like to see a time limit established for "all rights", though. Maybe five years? What would you think?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Mary Jo. I think 'perpetual' says it all. Future use profit... sent to 'who knows where' also applies. It doesn't seem like they're interested in characters though. Just like they're not interested in having you be an exclusive writer for them.

"License to Bauer Publishing for User Content. You grant to Bauer Publishing the unrestricted, unconditional, non-exclusive, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual and royalty-free right and license to host, use, copy, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sub-license, display, perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, modify, reformat, translate, archive, store, cache or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content for any purpose whatsoever in all formats; on or through any media, software, formula or medium now known or hereafter developed; and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed and to advertise, market and promote the same."

Chris said...

As I see it, it's the story they are buying, not the perpetual rights to the characters within that story. I see nothing in the statement Jody has posted above to indicate that you are restricted from using those characters again in stories likely to be published in other magazines or formats.

John Floyd's mini-mysteries are a case in point. He has sold many Jones/Potts stories to WW over the years but was still free to use the spare ones Bauer didn't want in his own anthology. If he felt there was the slightest risk of being sued by such a powerful company I doubt he would have chanced it. Perhaps if he's reading this, he could tell us whether he cleared it with them first, or was confident that there was no issue.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. I sent John an e-mail asking him his opinion. There is the possibility that his collection contains only stories that were either rejected before the new rights provision went into effect and/or stories that reverted back to him under the old contract. Does he has any rejected Potts stories in his December 2014 book from the date of the new contract on? Don't know. Maybe he'll tell us.

Elizabeth said...

I caught the clue. I think this is one of the best stories I've ever read in Woman's World.

Jody E. Lebel said...

And here's John's answer:

Hi Jody —

Nice to hear from you.

I’m afraid I won’t be much help to you because I’m not at liberty to discuss my contractual agreements with my publishers, including WW. Generally speaking, though, if you’ve signed a contract for a story and that contract specifies the granting of “All Rights,” you cannot publish that story again, anywhere, because you no longer own the material. The characters themselves are usually not mentioned or covered in those contracts. In a perfect world, I would think that if you sold The Kalamazoo Review a story involving Detective John Smith and granted them “All Rights,” you could then write another—different—story featuring Detective John Smith and sell it to The Nocturnal Journal with a perfectly clear conscience. Just be sure and read the contract carefully. Hope that helps.

Hope all’s going well with you and your writing projects. Take care, and have a good week!


Jody E. Lebel said...

I got a PS from John:

"Must tell you this. In a book called Writer Tells All, Robert Masello says, “My favorite contractual clause was one that reserved to my publisher the right to publish my work in any media or technology currently existing, or yet to be invented, in this universe, or in any other universe yet to be discovered."

Gotta love them publishers. They cover all the bases . . .


I told him someone in legal has been watching too many Star Wars movies... :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pursuing the issue, Jody. I think I got my answer.


Mary Ann said...

I loved Betsi's story! It was a good, tight mystery and used the word count wisely. There were well-drawn characters, a nicely hidden clue, and it seemed like something that could easily have happened in real life. Perfect!

Chris said...

Back to Betsi's story. I thought it was really well told with a nicely hidden clue, as I'd expect from such an accomplished writer, but (and I've told her this in an email) the clue about Lara's hair colour being brunette the last time her husband had seen her came a bit out of the blue. The stylist is quoted as saying she spent hours 'bleaching' Lara's long hair, but that doesn't mean it was dark to start with. Betsi tells me I saw this story before it went off to WW and I didn't mention that point then, so I've got no one to blame but myself for this tiny gripe! Otherwise, I thought it was excellent.

Peter DiChellis said...

I think "non-exclusive" the key word in the rights clause. Bauer buys the right to re-use the story, but does not exclude the writer from reprinting it as well.

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Peter. Bauer used to have FNSR, first rights with a 6-month clause. But now they own it for life. You cannot reprint or resell your story that they now own. In any fashion. I believe the 'non-exclusive' refers to WW. It gives them the right to resell it to another entity, not just their own magazines.

Peter DiChellis said...

Jody, Perhaps you're correct for WW, though every explanation of non-exclusive rights I've seen says non-exclusive means the author keeps the right to resell the work. But if I'm ever lucky enough to get a WW acceptance, I'll definitely ask them what they mean by it. The more I think about this, the amount WW pays is so high and their format is so specific that I probably wouldn't worry about reprinting that work anyway. But I'd still want to know exactly what I sold them. Good discussion.