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Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Starsight Video

Well, after two years, I've finally found time to put together a Starsight video. I really hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think... Minnette :o)

http://youtu.be/kIUSkd5MOFA?a



Minnette Meador

www.minnettemeador.com

http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Going Underground...

I'm working on a new project, THE BELL STALKER, which I started over at Textnovel, an Urban Fantasy Thriller. Since half of it takes place in underground Portland, I wanted to know if an underground Portland actually existed. Low and behold, it does! Portland Walking Tours has a marvelous tour of old town and the underground that I'm thrilled about. DH and I will be going with my brother, professional photographer Patrick Smith, and I'm hoping to come back all fired up to get into the deeper, darker part of the novel. I'll post pictures and info sometime next week.

Columbus Day Gets Picked

I just received an email from Ooligan Press, and my story, COLUMBUS DAY has been accepted to be included as one of 150 stories in the OREGON 150 book celebrating Oregon's sesquicentennial and will be coming out next spring. I was so surprised: I submitted the story to their on-line and had no idea they would be doing a book. I am very honored to be part of the project. Watch out for more news coming next year! Minnette :o)

COLUMBUS DAY, 1962

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fly By Resources...



I know I haven't posted much lately, but I've been buried under editing, writing deadlines, and going back to work full time, since eating seems to have become a priority these days. No rest for the angelically challenged I guess. By the middle of October things should settle down enough for me to get back into the swing of things (i.e. newsletters and blog posts). In the meantime, what I thought I'd share this week are some tid-bits, bites, cheats, and tips for promoting, writing, and research that I took from an interview I did this last week. Hopefully, some of these will help, a few may tickle, but all of them come from the bottom of my black little heart. Keep in mind these were for aspiring romance writers, but I think the tips are universal; at least for writers anyway. I wouldn't presume otherwise. ~GRIN~ Enjoy! Minnette :o)

Question: Are there any writing tips, research tips, promotion and marketing tips that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you?

PROMO/MARKETING:

1. Get yourself a web page by any means necessary.

2. Join all the social and writing networks: Myspace, Facebook, Bebo Site, Coffeetime Romance, Manic Readers Author Site, The Romance Studio, Gather, Redroom, Author Nation, etc. Keep them maintained and post something every day to at least one of them.

3. Start a blog and do an article at least once a week.

4. Get involved in writers’ associations in your area and get involved in their loops.

5. Join other blogs and write on them.

6. And most important: JOIN THE NATIONAL RWA SO YOU CAN JOIN YOUR LOCAL RWA OR JOIN YOUR LOCAL WRITERS' ASSOCIATION. This is probably the most important connection you’ll make as a romance writer. If you don’t have a local one, you can join others on-line. I belong to Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, From the Heart Romance Writers, Valley Romance Writers (Salem), and Rose City Romance Writers (Portland) and try to stay involved in all of them. You will learn more about promotion and have new opportunities open up with these groups like no others. Workshops, critique partners, writing competitions, book fairs, conventions, and so many other activities that will help you in your career.
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RESEARCH:

I majored in Western Civ when I went to college many, many years ago and then realized a history major wasn’t going to get me much in the way of a job. Very few history majors (beyond professors and other teachers) make a living at it. Like archeologist, anthropologist, geologist, or French literature majors, historians usually end up doing something else unless they teach…or write.

What I discovered while I was writing my first historical romance was that research is VERY DANGEROUS. If you love history as I do, every fact you find leads to several hundred other facts. You can spend your life doing research and never write a word.

So that brings me to suggestions for research with the preamble that these are just things that worked for me. Everyone has their own way to do research for a book. I think everyone needs to find their own way and methods, but maybe this will help you avoid some pitfalls.

1. RESEARCH TO THE BOOK – It is very easy to get so involved in research that you lose sight of writing altogether. I try not to let myself get distracted by a subject that is off topic. Believe me it takes discipline…I LOVE studying history, especially ancient history. So when I find myself off on a topic that has nothing to do with my book, I add the link to a special favorites folder (or make note of the book) and come back to it when I have the luxury of researching for research’s sake or for the next book. Keep in mind you are a writer…not a historian.

2. PUT IT WHERE YOU CAN FIND IT LATER – One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was first doing research was not keeping track of where I found the resource. It’s easy to add an internet link to a favorite’s folder or writing down a library/book resource as you’re going along. It’s next to impossible to do it miles down the research road when you’ve forgotten it. Keep a log. The reason it’s important? I can’t tell you how many times someone has questioned a fact…I knew I had looked it up, but couldn’t remember in my hours of research exactly where. I then had to go back and re-research it. Trust me, it’s a very frustrating process. Keep track of your resources, especially those you use directly in your writing.

3. FOCUS – I try to focus research on only the time, place, people, and events taking place in my novel unless I need background information I’ll need to build in later. As with any writing I do, I research the general time quickly and concentrate on specific details as needed for the story.

4. TOO MUCH BACKGROUD – Weaving historical information into the fabric of the story gives it depth and pulls the reader in. Too much information is distracting and makes people start skimming. Keep your facts to a minimum to push the story forward and build them in gradually, not all at once. As with any writing, ask yourself these questions: Does this information have something to do with the novel directly? Is it vital to the story? If it isn’t, don’t use it.

5. CLOSE YOUR EYES – I do this exercise whenever I start a project. It gives me a wonderful way to figure out where to start in my research and saves me a ton of time…and it also helps me to figure out what is important. Give it a try and see if it works for you: I sit in my comfy chair, close my eyes, and concentrate on the story. This, to me, is the best part of writing…shutting out the modern world and putting myself in another time and place. Imagining what your day would be like as a Roman soldier, a Celtic queen, or a gladiator. What is my “home” like? What did I have for breakfast that morning? What clothes did I put on that day? Who’s my best friend? Do I own a dog? I ask lots of questions. I try to put myself in the character’s shoes (or his underwear as someone once suggested) and imagine what his/her day would be like. I make a list of all the gaps…those things I don’t know. Once I’ve done that, I have a whole list of areas to research. In order to make the history come alive, you have to share what goes on with this person on a very intimate level.

6. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT, BUT YOU MAY NEED TO FIND ONE – I do not consider myself a historical expert. As a matter of fact, I am a “closet” historian who admires the real historians who spend their lives in search of the truth of history. These people teach at our universities, write books, contribute to history channels and movies, and head wonderful museums and associations. I’ve discovered, to my delight, that they LOVE to talk about history. I have worked with a couple of museums and a prestigious reenactment association to help me with my scenes just by emailing them and asking questions. The reenactment people actually choreographed my fight scenes for me. So don’t be shy…ask! The worse they can say is “no” or completely ignore you. The beauty is there are lots of museums, libraries, and academia out there.

7. WHERE TO FIND ANSWERS – Everyone has their own method for research. For me personally, I use books, articles, and the internet. Here are a few links I’ve used for my subjects, but the library is a great place to start and of course places like Wikipedia.
http://www.thearma.org/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/romans/
http://www.teacheroz.com/romans.htm
http://www.roman-britain.org/
http://www.larp.com/legioxx/index.html
http://www.wikipedia.org/
http://mp_pollett.tripod.com/idiomexp.htm

8. ARTICLES ABOUT RESEARCH – Here is an article I wrote about doing research for Rose City Romance. There is a plethora of article written by other historical writers on research. Do a search…just make sure you don’t spend all your time researching research. ~LOL~

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Is there any advice that you would give to an aspiring romance writer that you wish someone had given you? I always give this advice to any writer. The list keeps expanding every day:

1. Writing is 10% writing and 90% editing. Edit 'til you can't stand the thing, then do it three more times. Then have someone else edit it and then go through it three more times after that. You should be there when you start to change words BACK to what they used to be. Here’s a good example; I edited this interview for three hours before I was almost satisfied. You know you’re a writer when...you edit your IMs and text messages...

2. Get yourself a critiquing partner and a set of beta readers (family does nicely, especially if you have older kids...they do owe you; friends and co-worker are always good). LISTEN to what they have to say and be prepared for criticism. That’s what you don’t pay them for. A critiquing partner is absolutely an imperative and there are lots of groups out there that can help you find one... your local RWA, http://www.critters.org/ come readily to mind, but there are many out there. Check in your genre. Or join a writing class in your community...that’s where one of my fabulous, wonderful, adorable partners came from.

3. Take classes, join associations, join groups, get involved in the writer's community (it's huge) and contribute to it. Harder to do than you think, believe me.

4. Be prepared to spend every waking hour on your dream and even some of your sleeping ones. The muse doesn't rest...at least until you need her, which leads me to...

5. DON'T RELY ON THE MUSE TO HELP YOU. (S)he will always let you down when you need her/him most. Being a published writer does not take inspiration, it takes dedication. You cannot wait until the art moves you...art is a lazy, drunken sod and it’s up to you to move it along. Hardest thing to do as a writer is to keep going. There are lots of tips on how to break writer’s block out there. The best advice I ever received? Get off your ass and hit those keys (or move that pen, if you’re a purest) - who cares what you write, just write.

6. Be kind, be loving, live well, and treat others well. When you critique someone or even give them an opinion of their work, keep in mind yours is (or will be) in another's hands one day. Creation is a fragile thing and easily destroyed...look at an egg sometime. I know; I shelved writing for twenty years because of a criticism. I regret it to this day.

7. You must develop a thick skin for this business...the whole “slings & arrows” thing. Not everyone is going to like your work....not everyone appreciates the hours that went into its creation...not everyone is kind. A gentle grace is needed to be a writer, I think...swear and punch through walls when you get home, but keep in mind it’s only one person’s opinion. You can choose to agree...or not. Did I mention this profession takes a bit of ego, as well?

8. There is no reward without sacrifice. When you see your name in print, the paperback crushed in your trembling hands, I promise, it will be worth all the pain. All you have to do then is write the next one...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Inteview with Homicide - Behind the Plot - Part IV

When Smith got back to the precinct, he escorted Ms. Bell to one of the “soft rooms,” an interrogation room with a couch and overstuffed chairs. He asked his assistant to get her some coffee and a pastry, and then went through the questioning one more time. It took another three hours, but nothing new came out of her. He let her lay down on the couch to rest.

After entering updated information into his computer, Smith sat back and stared at the metal balancing man on his desk so he could think. It gave his mind a chance to recoup a bit and to start putting some pieces together. When the head of forensics came in, he gave her his undivided attention.

“You’ll be glad to know your hunches are still good.”

“Yeah?” Smith was pleased. “What have you found?”

The tech slunk into a chair and read from pages on her clipboard. “The envelope revealed no fingerprints. The message on the inside said, "Bring it to me," printed on the same common paper and using the same printer as all the other notes Ms. Bell has received over the last year. The words were different this time. The others were ‘Just so you know.’ The smudge is blood, but the type is one we’ve never seen before. It’s on its way to the lab and I put a rush on it.”

“What do you mean you’ve never seen it before? Is it animal blood?”

She shook her head. “Not that we can tell. It’s whacked. The only thing we can think of is that someone added something to it and placed it deliberately.”

Smith sat back and folded his hand. “We’ll let the lab figure it out. Go ahead.”

She flipped another page. “ME says the throat was ripped out by someone very strong; it was done by hand, but there were no epithelials other than the vics. He verified that the other wounds on the victim’s body were made by the hatchet and your hunch was right; they were placed post-mortem. There were no fingerprints except those of the victim, Ms. Stark, and her roommate in the apartment. There are no fingerprints except the victims on the body. You were also right about the splatter pattern; it occurred when the body was place. The guy wasn’t killed in the apartment. TOD was an hour before Ms. Stark reported it.”

“Do we have any forensics yet from the garage or anywhere else around the building?”

She looked up and frowned at him. “We do, but so far zip. It doesn’t look like this was committed on the premises.”

Sitting up, he drummed his fingers against the desk. “How the hell can someone haul a full sized body to the 11th floor of a very occupied high rise without anyone seeing him or leaving a trace. It doesn’t make sense!” He stopped his tirade and lifted the side of his mouth. “Sorry, Kate. This one’s really a knock out.”

“Yes, sir. It’s kicking out butts, too.”

“Anything else?”

“Yeah.” She went back to her clipboard. “The call Ms. Stark received was placed from the basement of the building, so whoever made it was very near her.” The tech leveled her eyes at Smith and smoothed over the papers. “He had to be almost right on top of her when she got out of her car, if she’s telling the truth. Escalating, do you think?”

Smith rubbed his face. “Yeah. That’s what I’m afraid of. I’ve got a few more questions for Ms. Stark. Thanks, Kate. Keep the envelope secure; we might be able to match it to something later. Stay on top of the labs and don’t let them give you any guff about that rush.”

“I never do.” Kate left the room and Smith called his support sergeant into the office.

“Charley, here’s what I want you to do: Send out officers to talk to anyone who knows Ms. Stark, the roommate, or the victim. Start interviews immediately. I want to know everything; where they go, who they hang out with, hell, what they eat for breakfast. Friends, family, acquaintances, the whole nine yards. This stalker is our primary interest at this point. Who’s the lead on that case?”

“Mason.”

“Have him meet me in the interrogation room right away. We’ll work together on Ms. Stark. I want to know if there are other cases like this in the Northwest or on the West Coast. Check with all the other agencies and let’s get a list of anything remotely similar to this. If we find other stalker type cases, then I want to go through the registration, a list of any sex offenders who just got out, and complete background checks on all of them. Start interviews immediately on any in the vicinity. I want to know where they were the night of the killing and where they were on the night of Ms. Stark’s attack last year.”

“You got it. Anything else?”

Smith put on his jacket and headed out the door. “That will get us started. The rest is up to our Ms. Stark.
********************

GENERAL QUESTIONS: A few of my writer friends had some specific questions for the homicide division that I asked during my interview. Here is what he told me:

• Do the detectives order the forensics or is there a special unit that handles that part of the investigation? Detectives determine what tests they want done and have forensics do them.

• Who would have jurisdiction over a case like this? Portland Police Bureau would in this case since it takes place in downtown Portland. If a case happens outside of the city, it is handled by the county sheriff’s office. Oregon State Patrol has jurisdiction in some cases and sometimes PPB uses the OSP labs.

• Would any other agencies get involved? Jurisdiction is determined by where the crime took place; city or county. If there are similar crimes in another state or with the FBI, then the local police will hook up with that agency to exchange information. There is a national database used by most agencies. In some cases, the local police will contact various state police and the US Marshall’s office to get additional information and help, if needed.

• When someone is shot and killed, how does that person really fall? It depends on what they are doing and where they are. Not all victims fall forward, not all die instantaneously, some move on their own volition.

• I've heard that there isn't a fingerprint database where they enter the print and can do a sort quickly, as seen on CSI. Is this true? There is a national database that all agencies use. And how long, on average, would the real process take? Couple of days.

• Can an FBI work undercover in a sting operation with the police? Yes, if it's a joint federal investigation. FBI is involved in federal crimes, bank robberies (because banks are a federal institutions), terrorism, kidnappings, etc. Also the FBI has resources for homicide profiling and other types of profiling that local agencies use, plus a variety of different analyst for different kinds of information.

• Under what circumstances would a victim be tested for GHB or some similar Drug? All victims get toxicology analysis done. They might do more extensive GHB test if there was a reason for it.

• Would they know if DNA testing is done in Mexico? Don't know.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Inteview with Homicide - Behind the Plot - Part III



Smith had a long conversation with the DA about what he planned to do next. Satisfied, the DA left for home a few minutes before. The Medical Examiner was just now looking at the body.



Questioning the witness was long and arduous for both detectives and Ms. Stark. What was her relationship to the victim? Where was she between the hours of 3pm and 7pm? Was anyone with her? What time did she leave work? When did she see the victim last? Speak to him last? What exactly did she do when she came home? Hundreds of others.

Ms. Stark was cooperative, but terrified, and it was hard to get her to calm down enough to give them coherent answers. They would probably have to take her down to the van later when she had time to settle down and then start all over again. When she found out she wouldn’t be allowed back in the apartment for two to five days, depending on what they discovered, Ms. Stark was inconsolable. Both of them took special care to treat her as cordially as they could; she was still the prime suspect, but Smith knew you drew more flies with honey than vinegar.



After questioning Ms. Stark and one time over the scene, Detective Smith suspected many things that would guide him as they moved forward. It looked like the body was placed there after the attack; there was minimal splatter and not enough blood. There was what looked like ax marks all over the body and the throat had apparently been ripped out. An ax was taken from the hallway fire case and neatly placed next to the body. No fingerprints, unfortunately. Ms. Stark told them she received a phone call from the victim just before she discovered the body, but that he was very hard to hear. She wasn't sure if it was him. His name had appeared on her cell phone and they verified the date and time of the call. She and the victim had been lovers over the last year, but were non-exclusive. An envelope similar to the ones Ms. Stark had been receiving over the last year from a stalker was discovered under the body. One side was soaked with blood, but the other revealed the witness's name and a smudge on one corner. Based off this information Smith ordered forensics to collect fingerprints and blood samples from the witness, her roommate, the victim, and anyone else close to the scene before they started their run on the apartment.



The roommate was out on a date and seen by dozens of people, so his alibi was solid. Ms. Stark’s, on the other hand, was not; she claimed she was working late, and entries from her work computer confirmed that, but there was a good forty-five minute gap from the time she left the office to the time she arrived at the apartment. Smith has his doubts, however; the extent of damage done to the body was impressive; it was very hard to believe a woman 5’2”, 110 lbs. could inflict the injuries sustained by the victim. Smith knew stranger things had happened, but he had a good hunch this was done by one hell of a strong individual. That all remained to be seen, of course.



Scanning the scene, Smith knew there were four areas they needed to gather evidence on to prosecute the perpetrator when they found him: circumstantial evidence, forensic evidence, witness statements, and a confession, if they can get one. He made certain his officers and the forensic people went over this apartment with a fine tooth comb starting with the victim and working their way out.



He watched his men and women work, trying to see what story the scene was trying to tell: was this an act of passion? A premeditated action? Did the murder take place here or somewhere else, as the evidence seemed to be telling him? If so, where? Is there evidence of a struggle? Who is the victim, his friends, his family, his full background? Did he have conflicts with someone else? What was his life style like? What was he involved in? In other words, who the hell was he? The woman had a history of a stalker they could not locate; was he involved? Smith had someone pulling the files on the stalking case and a call into the detective in charge. Maybe the stalker was escalating. Anything that the suspect touched would have to be examined, but Smith wasn’t hopeful; so far, the only fingerprints they found came from Ms. Stark, her roommate, and the victim.



The forensics team took their time, and Smith was grateful. He watched them collect every piece of evidence, every scrape they could get their hands on, but the pickings were slim. They would preserve is meticulously.



Smith yawned; they had already been on the scene for several hours. He knew it would at least 12 more. Videos, photographs, finger prints, shoe impressions all had to be gathered, not to mention any video surveillance tapes from inside and outside the high rise, traffic cameras, security tapes, etc., etc. All would have to be searched frame by frame. He already had people on it, but it would take weeks to put together. DNA had to go to the State lab and could take as long as six months. Tests on the envelope, the ax, the apartment itself could take days and possibly weeks. That was his concern; the more time it took, the longer the guy was out on the street. Smith always hated that part of the job, but knew a case had to be built brick by brick. They’d get him; it was only a matter of time, but time was his enemy.

After Smith talked to the lead on Ms. Stark’s stalker case, his concern doubled; this was looking more and more like a serial case, one of the toughest to crack. Ms. Stark could be in terrible trouble. He needed to get her into protective custody immediately. She was resistant to the idea of going down to the precinct even though they assured her she would be quite comfortable and safe there. She agreed to stay there temporarily, but said no more than a few hours. Smith knew he would have to find a place where she would be safe. He’d jump that hurdle when they came to it.



Once everything was gathered and the ME had ordered the body taken to the morgue, Smith rubbed his eyes, had the uniforms seal off the apartment, and followed the teams back to the precinct. It was going to be a very long couple of days.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Inteview with Homicide - Behind the Plot - Part II

Here is the second installment on Homicide procedures based off of my interviews with the Portland Police Homicide Division. Again, this is a bit fictionalize as it helps me to focus in on facts and how they can relate to fiction. Note: Names are fictional.


THE CALL TO HOMICIDE


Portland Police Homicide gets a call from the lead officer on the scene. It was taken by Detective Smith, one or two leads on shift that night.


“We’ve got a victim with his throat torn out and multiple wounds consistent with axe or hatchet marks. An axe was found on the scene.” He then tells the Smith everything they have gathered so far. “What are your instructions?"


“Cordon off the area, remove the officers and the witness from the scene, if you haven’t already, and wait for us to get there. Start canvassing the neighbors to see if anyone heard or saw anything.


Smith got off the radio and stared for a split second at his phone. It was going to be a long night.


After informing his commander and his two support detectives, the sergeant, and the lieutenant, to head over to the scene and arranging for Forensics to meet him there, he picked up the receiver and dialed a series of numbers.


“Sorry to disturb you, sir,” he said to the DA, “but we have a possible homicide up at the Overview. Local Tai Kwon Do instructor in girlfriend’s apartment. Do you want to meet me there? We’ve got permission from one of the occupants to search the premises, but her roommate is out on a date. Do you want to get a search warrant now or wait until the roommate comes back?”


“I’ll meet you on the scene and get a search warrant on my way.”


“Yes, sir. I’ve sent out a patrol to try to locate the roommate, but I think we need to get in there as soon as possible.” Smith knew they could not even step through the door until they got permission from both occupants of the apartment. A search warrant would help expedite everything and he was grateful the DA was on top of it.


When Smith arrived on the scene, the lobby of the apartment building looked like a convention. The two support detectives were organizing a large group of officers who were preparing to canvas the neighbors, perform forensics on the apartment, hallway, or anywhere else the evidence led them, and dispersing additional officers needed for crowd control. The high rise occupants, the nosy security guard, and a very disgruntled manager were all clamoring for answers. It was tightly organized chaos. Smith knew it was in good hands, so took the elevator to the 11th floor.


Uniformed officers stood outside two different apartment doors, one right next to the other. He decided to take a quick look at the scene when he arrived, so bypassed the door where they were questioning a pretty woman, probably the witness. He entered the scene and ran professional eyes over every aspect of the apartment, starting with the victim laying across the couch and table and expanding outward from there. That would be how he would run this investigation, from the victim out, just like always. He radioed down to one of the support detectives on the first floor to go ahead and send up the forensics team.


To be continued…

Friday, July 31, 2009

Inteview with Homicide - Behind the Plot

It's funny how you perceive something one way and it turns out to be something else. This is what I came away with yesterday after an interview with Detective Austria from the Portland Police Bureau Homicide Division.

Located in the Justice Building in downtown Portland, the 13th floor (yes, I said 13th) was like any other business; cubicles, large open windows in all directions, and people going about their daily routine. Only these men and women were occupied with catching and prosecuting murderers. In addition to investigating homicides, the Homicide Detail investigates Officer Involved shootings/use of deadly force, felony assaults, kidnapping, custodial interference and missing persons. As you can imagine, these are very busy people. It was humbling to say the least.

Detective Austria was an amazing man; 17 years with the bureau, skilled, confident, kind, soft spoken. Originally from Hawaii, he has worked his way up through the ranks of the PPD to become one of two lead detectives in the division. I was honored to be speaking with him about his craft. This man is a professional through and through.

Over the next few days, I'll try to lay out what is involved in a homicide investigation based on my interview. I am taking some literary license here and will be dramatizing it a bit, hoping to get all the details right based off of our conversation. From a creative point of view, this process helps me absorb the information so I can incorporate it into my writing. The following is what went on "behind the scenes," so to speak, and didn't get included in my novel, THE BELL STALKER, although some of it will be used to correct a few errors I made. I'm hoping it will be an amazing journey and I'm delighted to have you along...

THE CALL


Dispatch receives a phone call from a cell phone somewhere in the SW Portland.

"911. What is your emergency?"

The woman on the other end of the line is distraught. "My friend... John, my friend... he's dead... in my apartment."

"Stay calm, ma'am. What is your address?"

Between sobs, the woman gives the address and the dispatcher recognizes it as a high rise in the Park Blocks of downtown Portland. She signals her partner to radio the closest uniformed officers to respond to the scene and keeps the woman on the line.

"Ma'am, how do you know he's dead?"

"There's blood everywhere... he's... he's all cut up... Please hurry... Please."

"Where are you right now?"

"I'm in the apartment... in the kitchen."

"We have dispatched officers to your location. I need you to get out of the apartment. Is there a neighbor you can contact?"

"Yes... no... I don't know."

"Leave the apartment now and knock on a neighbor's door. Can you do that?"

"Yes... yes, all right."

There is shuffling over the line and the dispatcher hears a knock. After several seconds, she hears muted voices over the line.

"Ma'am, are you all right." A few seconds more. "Ma'am?"

"Yes. I'm all right. I'm next door with my neighbor."

"Good. Now I want you to stay on the line with me until the officers arrive. What apartment are you in?"

A muted conversation, then, "11B."

"Thank you. I will make sure they find you as soon as they arrive."


THE OFFICERS
(Note: We didn't talk a lot about what the first officers on the scene do since it wasn't vital to my story, so this may be a bit sketchy. Thanks for your patience. Some of this is based on previous experience.)

Three cruisers pull up outside the building and uniformed officers get out. The first officer on the scene pushes the button on his radio.

"Dispatch, what do we have?"

"Female reports body of friend "John" in her apartment, 11D. We have sent her to a neighbors, apartment 11B to wait. Female reports the body is covered in blood and cut up."

"Roger, dispatch. Call the manager and have them let us into the complex."

"Already have. The security guard is waiting at the front door for you."

A guard stands at the glass door of the high rise, alert. Five more cruisers arrive. The lead officer goes through the door with two others close behind him.

"Elevator?" he asks the guard. The man points down the hallway toward the back of the building.

When five more officers arrive, the lead orders two to the front and two to the back of the building, and the other to take the stairwell to secure the area. The original three officers take the elevator to the eleventh floor.

The long hallway is lighted by dim sconces when the elevator doors open. They can see an open door at the end of a line of them. Unholstering their guns, they make their way slowly to the apartment.

Once there, they lean against the door jam and call through the open door.

"This is the police. If anyone is in there, come out with your hands up or we will shoot you." There is no response.

They enter the apartment and scan the scene. There is a small open kitchen to their right with the light on. Otherwise, the apartment is dark. Making their way down a hallway, they enter a sunken living room lighted only by the kitchen. Laid over the couch and across the coffee table is a man about 6' tall in dark clothes.

The lead officer signals the two others to search the rest of the apartment. He approaches the man and reaches to feel for a pulse, but then realizes the man's throat is missing. Stepping back from the body, he is careful not to step in the pool of blood around the corpse, making certain he does not touch anything. The other two officers come back and report that the apartment is clear. The lead officer posts one outside the door of the apartment and takes the other with him to question the witness.

PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS

"Ma'am, I need to ask you some questions. What is your name, address, and phone number." She mutters them through her sobbing. "Please tell me how you happened to find the body."

"I was coming home from a late night at work. My door was unlocked when I got to the apartment and I thought my roommate had forgotten to lock it. I went in, turned on the kitchen light, and then saw the body..." A moment of breakdown. "Then I called 911."

"Do you know who the victim is?"

Terrified eyes. "Yes," she whispers. "It's my friend John. John Ian. But it's impossible. He called me when I was downstairs in the garage. He called me."

"That's ok, ma'am. When the detectives arrive, they will ask you some more questions. In the meantime, just remain calm."

He has the officers with him put up police tape and cordon off the hallway and the apartment. He then calls Homicide to speaks with the detective on duty filling him in on the details. Homicide is already on their way.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Interviewing Homicide and Other Adventures...

I just found out that this Thursday, I'm going to be interviewing the head of the Homicide Division of the Portland Police Bureau. I'll be asking questions pertaining to The Bell Stalker, including scene procedures, interrogation methods, lab procedures, etc. I'll then do a blog about the interview sometime next week, so stay tuned. If anyone has specific questions, let me know and I can put them into the mix.



THE BELL STALKER is coming along over at www.textnovel.com and I'm thrilled with how the story is coming together. It's turned into an urban thriller with a very twisty bad guy. Since this is being written "live," so to speak, it's been a bit nerve wracking, but a lot of fun. I'm up to chapter twelve with new ones posting today and tomorrow. If you haven't already (shameless plug here), please go to the site, register, and give it a "thumbs up" if you like it. I've got a chance at a contract with Dorchester and/or representation by an agent, but I need more votes. Wish me luck!



Had a wonderful book signing at Tacoma Borders last Saturday. I sold out of books in 2.5 hours, which is some kind of record for me, I think. The people were wonderful and I had a blast chatting with everyone. My thanks to Jesse and his crew for making this such a success.



STARSIGHT III is scheduled to be out next spring and I've been putting it together. It promises to be full of surprises (of course), intrigue, adventure, romance, magic, gods, and just plain fun. Stay tuned for more details.



I am going to curtail my newsletter to every two months instead of monthly due to time constraints and the fact that I have to go back to work soon. I'll give out two prizes per newsletter to make up for the time.



Otherwise, same old, same old. Stay cool! Minnette :o)



Minnette Meador

www.minnettemeador.com

http://minnettemeador.blogspot.com


2008 Releases: Starsight, Vol. I, Starsight, Vol. II, The Centurion & The Queen

The Edge of Honor, A Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers

2009 Releases: A Boy & His Wizard

2010 Releases:
Starsight III: The Restless Seed, Starsight Prequel: The God Wars,

A Boy & His Lizard

Other Releases:

The Gladiator Prince - TBA, Keenan's Dilemma - TBA