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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


Friday, July 17, 2009

Cleaning out the "closet" - 101 Links for Writers

Our Internet and TV were both down today, so I did some laptop "closet" cleaning and came across this gem. Here are about 101 great writer's resources (well, something like that), everything from publishing to craft. There are literally a million more on the internet; these are just ones I happened upon during my journey. I make no guarantees that these links still work, but I think most of them will. Enjoy! Minnette :o)









Thursday, July 16, 2009

Keenan's Dilemma - Excerpt (Adult Language)

I've been asked by a couple of people to repost this and then realized I hadn't posted the entire chapter. Bad Mimi. Anyway, enjoy...

CHAPTER 3 - INBIBBING SPIRITS

Keenan’s eyes fluttered open expecting to be in his bed. Instead, he had his face buried in the porcelain altar, throwing up his guts, listening to Reggie cooing encouragements.


“There you go, old bugger. Get all of it out. That’s the lad.”


Coughing until he thought his lungs would come up, Keenan tried to figure out what had just happened. All he could focus on was the splattered white inside his toilet, his splitting head, and a persistent ringing in his ears. The sexual encounter was very fuzzy.


“What the fuck?” When he spoke, his throat turned to sandpaper.


He pulled his head out of the toilet and put as much air into his lungs as they would take. Sitting on his haunches, he glared at Reggie. The shining specter smiled down at him, floating nonchalantly by the sink. Everything else was black. A random thought flashed through Keenan’s addled brain. I wish I glowed in the dark.


"Are you better, my friend?”


“What the fuck?” Keenan repeated and lurched to his feet.


“You asked that already.”


Keenan stumbled to the sink. Turning on the tap lighted only by Reggie’s ghostly glow, he put his head under the water and tried to drown himself in it.


The cold made the ringing and the muddle go away, but his head still pounded like murder. Keenan grabbed the wet towel from the shower curtain rod and ran it violently over his head and face, hoping the weird sickness would saturate the towel instead of his brain.


He felt dirty, violated, like someone had pulled his pants down in front of cheerleaders. Yet, there was another part of him that was somehow fulfilled, satisfied, satiated. It was making him sick to his stomach.


Keenan threw the towel on the floor, stomped into his bedroom, and then stopped with a jolt. Reggie almost ran “into” him.


In the soft light from his window, he could see the bed was completely disheveled. The mattress was turned sideways and touching the ground. It stood there like a beached whale. Everything not otherwise tied down was on the floor. Three pictures looked like someone had pitched them against the wall. Worse, except for the window, there was not a single piece of glass in the room that had not been shattered including the screen to his rabbit-eared TV. The shattered remnants covered everything.


“I think you need a drink, my friend.” Reggie pirouetted across his path and glided to the door, but Keenan only blinked at him.


"What?”


“A drink. You know…ice, booze, perhaps soda or a wedge of lime.”


Keenan shook his head long enough to get the daze out of it and then gingerly crossed the mine field of glass to pull on his coat and step into his sneakers. He didn’t even bother to untie them.


Miraculously, the shoes were glass-free and the coat was right side out. In his state, it probably didn’t matter.


It dawned on Keenan as he followed Reggie out to the living room that the familiar disembodied noise was back. Arguments, low conversations, whispers, and even a little song flitted in and out of the air around him. It was somehow comforting.


The crowd of visible ghosts was light; three screamers Keenan couldn’t see very clearly, a Hindi named Nihar who was standing on his head amongst fake flowers on the window sill, and a crowd of coal miners dancing on the kitchen table. Three of them were swilling pale mugs of beer.


Keenan searched the crowd. “Constance?”


Reggie spun around and gave him a ghostly wink. “Sorry, old chap. Not here tonight. Besides…” He floated over to the door and made a grand gesture with his arm. “…for this, you’ll need a gentleman’s perspective, I think.”


“What do you…?”


“I’ll explain all of it after you’ve had a drink or two. Off we go.”


Keenan’s head throbbed enough to make him not care where he was going. He lifted one numb leg after the other. When the front door slammed behind him, it sent a cartoon sound wave that should have caved in his skull. It must have been very cold outside…he could see his breath come out in solid clouds…but he was toasty enough. Thank God for small favors.


He stumbled after Reggie who was whistling a happy tune just to torture him.


The haze around Keenan brain didn’t get any better the further down the block Reggie led him. He wondered what time it was; would the bar be open this late?


When they rounded the corner, the neon blue and red Taps blinked in and out, boring into the headache under Keenan’s right eyebrow. The white OPEN sign underneath looked misty in the late night fog. The heat that blasted his face when he opened the door smelled of cigarettes and humanity.


Once inside, Patrick the bartender (or was it owner? Keenan never asked) eyeballed him briefly without comment and went back to chatting with the drunk at the end of the bar. Keenan didn’t feel like lively conversation, so lifted two fingers to the bartender instead. Patrick nodded once, yanked a glass from the stack behind him, and filled it with beer from the tap. Keenan disregarded the twenty or so incorporeal customers that Patrick didn’t see. The chatter from the group was smoky, bouncing dully from the dark oak rafters.It was only then that Keenan realized he was naked under the long coat.


No pants.


No wallet.


No shorts.


He froze and sweat followed the jolt of realization down his armpits.


Can anyone say flasher?


Cramming his hand into his coat pocket without hope, he touched the soft crumpled surface of a bill and several coins. When he pulled the ten out, the sight sent momentary relief through the tight muscles in his neck, followed by a chill that rippled just under his skin. He slid it over the bar and took his beer, hoping to God that the two men staring at him didn’t notice his bare legs. Neither said a thing when Patrick slid the change to him and went back to cleaning glasses behind the high bar.


The dead patrons laughed their asses off.


When Keenan was settled in a booth as far back from the entrance as possible, he downed half the beer in a single gulp and came up breathless.


“Steady, man,” Reggie said softly, “sitting” across from him. “You’ll need your wits.”


Keenan stared at the half-filled mug and curled his lip. “What was that?”


Reggie lit a mirage cigarette and blew billowing clouds into the ether. “You’re not going to like it.”


In reply, Keenan snorted irritably and looked around to make sure no one was close enough to hear him talking to himself. He didn’t need psychosis on top of public indecency tonight.


“Spill it,” he hissed.


Reggie flicked the cigarette into the air where it disappeared. “Have you ever heard of a succubus?”


“Sure.” Keenan sat back and tapped on the beer mug absently. “Don’t they suck out your life when you’re asleep or something?”


“Not exactly.” Reggie’s smirk deepened and the ghostly light in his eyes intensified. It was obvious he was enjoying this way too much. “A succubus is a type of female spirit that lives off the sexual energy of men. They visit you in your sleep, stupefy you, and then…well, have their way with you, not to put too fine a point on it.” A mischievous grin split his lips and another cigarette appeared between his teeth. “How was it?”


Keenan growled and took another drink. The headache was better, but not by much. “Dandy,” he replied, looking back at the bar again. “I feel like shit. What did she do to me?”


An eerie laugh escaped Reggie’s mouth. It was almost gleeful. “Actually, you are lucky to be conscious at all. I’ve known men that can’t walk for a week afterwards.” He gave Keenan a lascivious wink and leaned against the table, pulling his elbows back when they slid into the wood. Keenan could feel heat in his hands wrapped around the cold mug. Reggie was the only ghost, as far as he knew, that gave off heat instead of cold. “You must have some endurance, my lucky friend, to go so long with one.”


Keenan watched the suds dissipate. “So, is she a ghost?”


“Not really.” Reggie pulled a long draw on his cigarette.


“A demon?” A prick of panic set a twitch off in Keenan’s guts.


Reggie tilted his head and regarded Keenan for several ticks of the grungy clock hanging above the booth. The smoke coming out of his nose gathered in a wreath above his head and lingered there for a long time.


“No, not a demon either. She’s…very unique. I don’t know of many still practicing, so to speak. Not in the US, anyway. You find them in Germany and parts of Italy, of course, but they don’t travel over the pond much. You are quite lucky.”


“Lucky?” Keenan hollered. When Patrick and the other man shot looks at him, he lowered his chin and tilted the beer toward his chest. “You call this luck?” he mumbled.


Light shone from the pale face. “Are you telling me you didn’t enjoy it?”


Keenan opened his mouth, but shut it just as quickly. Fact of the matter was he had enjoyed it…very much. He wasn’t going to tell his misty friend that, however.


“So, if she’s not a ghost and she’s not a demon, what exactly is she?”


When Reggie pulled the equivalent of air into his lungs, the cigarette fumes disappeared into his nostrils and then came back out as fog. “I’m not an expert, mind you, but I’ve heard things here and there.” He made a show of steepling his fingers and looking intellectual. “The myth tells us the original succubus was Lilith, Adam’s first wife…”


“Adam’s first wife? Adam’s wife was Eve.” Keenan wanted the words to be adamant, but they came out plaintive instead.


Reggie leveled a condescending stare at him and raised one eyebrow. “Honestly! You modern living never learn anything. Suffice it to say that Adam had a first wife who misbehaved and was turned into a succubus by Lucifer.”


“All right, so what is a succubus then?”


Reggie leaned back into the bench seat and floated his arms over the worn red leather seat back. Keenan knew Reggie was happiest when he could show off his boundless knowledge. And it was boundless; there wasn’t anything Keenan could ask that Reggie couldn’t answer. The man…er, ghost…was brilliant.


“As I said, it lives off of sexual energy, i.e. the arousal of men. The incubus is the male counterpoint and seduces women…and sometimes men, depending. Think sexual vampire, and you’re half way there. The only difference is she is not endemically evil, despite what two centuries of Christian propaganda have convinced people otherwise. These poor creatures are usually seraphim enslaved by a demon and then forced to become what they are.”


“A what?”


“Seraphim angel…part of the choir of angels. Pretty close to the Big Man, from what I’ve heard.”


Keenan blinked at Reggie. “You trying to tell me this…thing is an angel?”


“Well…” Reggie tapped his fingers against the backrest and gazed up at the murky Tiffany light above the booth. “Not anymore.”


“So what does it want with me?”


Reggie shrugged and rubbed his nose with a long forefinger. “They are drawn to powerful men…psychics.”


“That’s horseshit, Reggie. I’m no psychic.”


Reggie nailed him with a cold stare and chuckled under his breath. “Let’s see…you see dead people. Not only do you see them, but you talk to them. As a matter of fact, some of your best friends are dead. Sounds rather psychic to me. But what do I know?”


Keenan looked down at his folded hands. “Oh.”


“May I continue?”


Keenan nodded miserably. He had never considered himself psychic and the idea left his chest tight.


“Anyway, given your history, it’s not surprising she would select you. Maybe she wants a child…”


“Angels can have kids?”


Reggie pursed his lips and wrinkled his nose. “Not in the strictest sense. The succubus seduces a man, collects his seed, and transfers it to an incubus who changes it and then delivers it to a human female. Seems to me that would just produce your garden variety human offspring, but apparently not. The child born to the woman is called a cambion.” A shadow of a warm smile touched his cold lips. “Now, these little fellows are really something… ugly as sin when born, no breath, no heartbeat, but they run around like the dickens for the first seven years or so. Then it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate one from a human. A cambion eventually becomes devilishly cunning with the face of an angel. Persuasive too. Can talk a saint into dropping his drawers on Sunday and a nun to give up her habit…”


“So what the hell am I supposed to do?” Keenan’s senses turned to melting marshmallows the more Reggie talked.


“Haven’t the foggiest.”


“Great.” A cold breeze snuck in between Keenan’s legs. He smashed them together and adjusted his coat. “Why didn’t you guys warn me? Where the hell did you all go?”


“Ghosts are not omnipotent, you know. They are human,” Reggie said, raising both eyebrows. “There are certain spirits that scare even the dead. They usually flit away before anyone can say, ‘Bob’s your uncle.’ Not me, of course,” he added, clearing his throat. “I wasn’t even there at the time. Checking the twins out again, you know.”


Anger was taking over Keenan’s better judgment and the earlier warmth was turning into a deep chill. He wasn’t sure which feeling was making his knees shake when he leaned across the table.


“So what do we do about it?” he whispered.


Reggie examined the nails of his right hand. “Dashed if I know. Let her do it again and see how it goes?” he asked hopefully.


“Fuck you.”


Reggie smiled and rose to his ethereal feet. “Sorry I can’t be more help, old cocker, but I have to hurry off to a previous engagement.” A pair of gloves appeared out of the air that he slipped onto his hands in a blink. Tucking a walking stick under his arm, he tipped his head to Keenan. “I know I’m coming across all mouth and no trousers, but I wouldn’t worry it any. It’s probably an isolated incident, never happen again. You survived. That should bring you some comfort.”


Keenan scowled up at the apparition as he moved passed the table. “What the hell does that mean?”


Reggie stopped and regarded Keenan over his shoulder. “A succubus can kill you, my friend…and usually does after a while. I think you…how do you Americans say it? Dodged a bullet?” Without another word, Reggie disappeared, leaving Keenan to contemplate his mortality.


A Cup of Comfort for Fathers

Yay! Just had to toot my horn a little. My personal essay Yes, Sir, Daddy Darling, Sir (Salute Twice) has been accepted for publication in A Cup of Comfort for Fathers coming out in April. I'm so happy I could spit! Below is a link to the announcement. Congratulations to all the authors. There were over 2000 submissions for this anthology, so I am truly grateful. BTW, there are open submissions right now for a few other books in the series as well. Check out Cup of Comfort for more details.

Cuppa for Dads: And the Winners Are . . .

Minnette :o)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lucid Eyes Editing Blog...

My good friend from Ireland, Aidan Lucid, asked if I could put a bit of a plug for his new editing business here and I was glad to do it. He very kindly reviewed Centurion for me and got the word out to help me with sales in Ireland. Welcome, Aidan...


Lucid Eyes Editing Blog

Hi guys, my name is Aidan Lucid and I firstly want to say thanks to Minnette for very kindly giving me the space on her blog to talk about me and my proofreading business.

OK, here’s a bit about me. I’m 28, in a relationship (sorry girls! ;)) and hail from Co. Kerry, Ireland. I began writing back in 2002 but have always been an avid reader ever since I was a kid. Since 2004, I’ve had various items such as articles, short stories, poems etc. published in magazines, e-zines and poetry anthologies. In 2005, I decided to take the plunge and write my own young adult fantasy novel and last year, I obtained a publisher for it and hope to have it published late this year or early 2010.

Earlier in 2009, I decided to set up my own proofreading and editing business and called it, “Lucid Eyes Editing”. Here’s the website link: www.lucideyesediting.com. I set it up because I’ve always been told that I have a keen eye for detail and I’m also very meticulous in my approach to my work. One of the main reasons I set up Lucid Eyes Editing was because I wanted to help unpublished authors stand a better chance of being published by assisting them in eliminating the usual mistakes that screams “amateur” at an editor. Another reason why I set up my business was that I wanted to give writers a service that they could afford. From my own experience of hiring proofreaders to proofread my novel, a lot of them charged very unrealistic prices that a struggling writer could not afford. One lady charged me €1,000 (Euro) and as you may well know, in this current economic climate, this is well out of the reach of a lot of writers and this is something that I wanted to change; to give writers a service that they could afford and improve their chances of getting a publisher.

There was, of course, my initial fears of “What if I don’t succeed?”, “What if people don’t like my work?”, “What if they think I did a lousy job?” and so many negative “What ifs” but despite all these self-doubts, a little voice inside me shouted “Go for it!” and so I have. That was back in April of this year. So far, I’ve had nothing but positive feedback and the work keeps rolling in. At the moment, I am proofreading a book for a client and it does have bestseller potential and I hope that the client finds a publisher.

So if you’re looking for a proofreader/editor that won’t charge the socks off you, then why not give Lucid Eyes Editing a try? Here’s my website link again: www.lucideyesediting.com.

Thank you again, Minnette, for very kindly giving me space in your blog and I do appreciate it. And if you haven’t bought one of Minnette’s books by now, shame on you! You’re missing out on some great writing. I read The Centurion and the Queen and it was a fantastic novel! Keep up the good work, Minnette.


- Aidan Lucid

Friday, July 10, 2009

Free Book Today Only - Centurion

Just wanted to remind everyone that the eBook of THE CENTURION & THE QUEEN is free today over at Resplendence Publishing for their Free Book Friday. Just click on the link, put it in your cart, and it's yours for free. Let me know if you have any problems with the download.Good reading! Minnette ;0)

THE CENTURION & THE QUEEN
a historical romance by Minnette Meador

Centurion Marius is a tough leader to his men, despite the shame that drove him from Rome. Delia is sister to an uncaring Corieltauvi tribal king, warrior queen to her people. The last thing she expects is to find herself craving the touch of an enemy. Thrown into the clash between 80,000 angry Britons and 10,000 Roman soldiers, they find themselves on opposing sides, in love, and unable to stop the future. The revolution that sparked their desire...could now destroy them both.


PUBLISHERS WEEKLY - "I was engrossed by The Centurion and the Queen, and didn't put it down."


SIMPLY ROMANCE REVIEWS – "Historical novels especially historical Romance tend to fall within fairly set parameters and usually tend to be a bit cliché this story breaks out of those parameters and destroys the clichés with a truly refreshing story of love in ancient Britannia."

EXCERPTS