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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Horse Tail and Mane Thief

     State police searched for a suspect who cut the manes and tails from three horses at a western Pennsylvania horse complex. Horse hair is used to make jewelry and tail and mane extensions for show horses. Their hair can be used to make brushes, violin bows, hat bands and wigs.

     The thief struck during the lunch hour on February 18, 2015 when the horses were unattended in a open field along a road in Jefferson Township, Butler County. It takes years for horses to grow back their manes and tails. [I guess they'll need extensions now.]

"Police Seek Suspect Who Cut Off Tails, Manes From Horses," Associated Press, February 24, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On The Relationship Between His Life And His Writing

I've been drinking too much lately and have made plans to cut it down somewhat. Also there have been some rough seas on the home front. Everything seems to get in the way of the writing but maybe it creates it too.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: Good Science Fiction Is Hard To Write

     As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and on behalf of all the variations and sub-genres such as urban fantasy, alternate history and steampunk which collectively make up "speculative fiction," I'd argue that genre fiction is different from literary fiction.

     Whether it's dealing with  ray guns and rocket ships, swords, sorcery or fur and fangbangers, speculative fiction's unifying, identifying characteristic is that it doesn't attempt to mimic real life in the way that literary fiction does. It stands apart from the world we know. It takes us away to an entirely secondary realm, be that Middle Earth or Westeros, or to an alternate present where vampires and werewolves really do exist and you ring 666 to report a supernatural crime…

     Speculative fiction can be considerably harder to write than literary fiction…When readers are paying close attention to every hint and clue, the writer needs to have internal logic, consistency of character and scene-setting absolutely nailed down. Readers have to be convinced that this unfamiliar world is solidly real if they're ever going to suspend disbelief and accept the unreal, whether that's magic and dragons or faster-than-light travel.

Juliet McKenna, The Guardian, April 18, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Future of Investigative Journalism Is Uncertain

     Investigative reporting in America did not begin with Watergate. But it became entrenched in American journalism--and has been steadily spreading around the world--largely because of Watergate.

     Now, 40 years after Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote their first stories about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington's Watergate office building, the future of investigative reporting is at risk in the chaotic digital reconstruction of journalism in the United States. Resource-intensive investigative reporting has become a burden for shrunken newspapers struggling to reinvent themselves and survive. Nonprofit start-ups seeking to fill the gap are financially fragile themselves, with their sustainability uncertain.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Washington Post, June 7, 2012 

The Difference Between a Jurist and a Juror

     A jurist is anyone (judge, lawyer, or scholar) learned in the law: "The jurist was an expert in American constitutional law."

     A juror is a member of a jury: "A juror is supposed to apply the law to given factual situations and is not expected to be a Jurist."

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 2009 

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Glen Hochman Murder-Suicide Case

     In January 2015, 52-year-old Glen Hochman took a disability retirement from the White Plains Police Department after missing four months of work due to an ankle injury suffered while helping a motorist. Hochman had been on the suburban New York City force 22 years. He resided in an upper-middle-class home in Harrison, a small town twenty miles northeast of Manhattan with his wife Anamarie DiPietro-Hochman and their three daughters and three dogs. Following his retirement, Glen Hochman and his wife had engaged in a "family discussion" about separating.

     At nine-thirty in the morning of Friday February 20, 2015, Anamarie Hochman visited the Harrison Police Department where she reported that she and her husband had just had an argument over an $80 cellphone bill. Because he hadn't threatened her and didn't became violent, she asked the department not to act on this information. She said she was merely "documenting" the incident.

     Later on the day Anamarie went to the police department, she, her oldest daughter, and a friend left Harrison by car on an overnight excursion to an area casino. That left two of her daughters--17-year-old Alissa, a Harrison High School senior and Deanna, a 13-year-old student at the Windward School in White Plains--at home with their father.

     The next day, Saturday February 21, at three-fifty in the afternoon, Alissa's boyfriend, at Anamarie's request, went to the Hochman house to check on the girls. In the garage he found Mr. Hochman lying dead on the floor with a pistol in his hand. (A .40-caliber Glock pistol.)

     The stunned boyfriend called Mrs. Hochman who was driving home from the casino. He then dialed 911. Anamarie's friend, a passenger in her car, called 911 as well.

     At the Hochman residence, officers with the Harrison Police Department, in addition to Mr. Hochman, discovered the bodies of Alissa and Deanna in their rooms. The girls had been shot in the head at close range. The family pets had been shot to death as well.

     On Sunday February 22, Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccina, without saying it directly at the press conference, revealed that Glen Hochman had killed his daughters, shot the dogs, then committed suicide. He had left behind a 5-page note that explained why he had "taken his daughters away."

     According to Chief Marraccini, Glen Hochman had no history of mental illness or domestic violence and was not in financial trouble. The chief, however, did not reveal the exact contents of the suicide note. Autopsies were performed by a forensic pathologist with the Westchester County Medical Examiner's Office. Friends and relatives of the family said they had not seen this coming.

     

Criminal Justice Quote: Man In Czech Republic Killed Eight In Restaurant Before Killing Himself

     A man armed with a gun killed eight people at a restaurant in the town of Uhersky Brod in the eastern Czech Republic near Zlin…The shooter then killed himself…Authorities didn't know the identify or motivation of the assailant. However, they do not believe the incident was terror related…

     The attacker was a local man in his 60s…He rushed into the restaurant just after noon on February 24, 2015 and fired multiple times before using the gun to kill himself…Two other people were wounded in the shooting. Uhersky Bond, a town of 50,000, is located near the border with Slovakia.

"8 Killed In Czech Restaurant Shooting," CNN, February 24, 2015 

Writing Quote: What is "Slipstream Fiction"?

The weaving of the real and unreal is part of a fast-growing strain of fiction some call slipstream. The label slipstream encompasses writing that slips in and out of conventional genres, borrowing from science fiction, fantasy and horror. The approach, sometimes also called "fantastika," "interstitial" and "the new weird," often combines the unexpected with the ordinary.

Anna Russell, The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2014 

Writing Quote: Is Investigative Journalism In Its Golden Age?

     The news about news is often grim. Newspapers are shrinking, folding up, or being cut loose by their parent companies. Layoffs are up and staffs are down. That investigative reporter who covered the state capitol--she's not there anymore. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune have suffered from multiple rounds of layoffs over the years…But despite a long run of journalistic tough times, the loss of advertising dollars, and the challenge of the Internet, there's been a blossoming of investigative journalism across the globe from Honduras to Myanmar, New Zealand to Indonesia.

     Woodward and Bernstein may be a fading memory in this country, but journalist with names largely unknown in the U.S…are breaking one blockbuster story after another, exposing corrupt government officials and their crony corporate pals in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Costa Rica…

     "We are in a golden age of investigative journalism," says Sheila Coronel. And she should know. Now the academic dean at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Coronel was the director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose coverage of the real estate holdings of former President Joseph Estrada--including identical houses built for his mistresses--contributed to his removal from office in 2001.

     There are, to take another example, the halcyon days for watchdog journalism in Brazil. In October 2013, at an investigative journalism conference there organized by the Global Journalism Investigative Network, there were 1,350 attendees.

Anya Schiffrin, salon.com, August 31, 2014 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Florida Cop Might Be Charged With Abuse of Homeless Man

     Authorities in Fort Lauderdale are considering filing criminal charges against an officer who was videotaped pushing and slapping a homeless man at a bus terminal. The incident happened on February 23, 2015 and the video soon surfaced on YouTube. Officer Victor Ramirez, a nine-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, has been suspended without pay.

     The video shows the officer holding the man's arm, then pushing him to the ground. The officer tells the man to get up and slaps him in the face. Police identified the man as Bruce Laclair. Laclair has been charged with trespassing.

     Police Chief Frank Adderley said that in addition to looking at possible charges against the officer, the agency will review its use-of-force policy. [Why? Surely every cop with a brain knows that you don't go around pushing and slapping people for the hell of it.]

"In Video, Officer Pushes, Slaps Man at Florida Bus Terminal," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Counterterrorism Official With State Department For Soliciting Sex With A Minor

     A senior State Department official in charge of counterterrorism programs was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from a minor. Daniel A. Rosen, who is the State Department's director of counterterrorism programs and policy, was arrested on a charge of using a communications device to solicit a juvenile. Investigators believe Rosen, 44, had been communicating online with a female detective from a police child exploitation unit posing as a minor. Officers arrested him at his home and transported him to a Washington, D.C. jail.

     According to Rosen's Linkedin page, he is responsible, at the State Department, for all "strategic planning, policy planning, program and budget planning and oversight, and legislative relations and interaction" associated with the agency's counterterrorism program.

"Senior State Dept. Official Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Minor," UPI, February 25, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction

     There is a co-dependency between science and science fiction. Many scientists and engineers acknowledge that science fiction helped to spark their imagination of what was possible in science…

     Sometimes science fiction authors just make things up, but untutored imaginings tend not to make the best science fiction. As JBS Haldane put it: "the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." We need scientific input to sustain a rich science fictional imagination…

     Some science fiction writers are (or were until retirement) full-time scientists and academic researchers in their own right. Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, who coined the term "Big Bang", claimed to write his science fiction in order to publish ideas that would not fit into scientific journals. Back in the 1960s, Fred Pohl edited The Expert Dreamers and Groff Conklin edited Great Science Fiction by Scientists, with stories by George Gamow, JBS Haldane, Fred Hoyle, Julian Huxley, Norbet Weiner, and others. Some authors who were originally researchers have been successful enough to quit the day job in favor of fiction…

     Not all science fiction writers have science PhDs. Many of the Golden Age writers had little formal education. James White, for example wanted to be a medical doctor, but couldn't afford the training; that didn't stop him writing the marvelous alien doctors in space series called Sector General. Many science fiction writers have arts and humanities backgrounds, yet manage to write good hard science-based science fiction.

Susan Stepney, The Guardian, January 21, 2015


Writing Quote: Are Literary Fiction Writers Better Than Genre Authors?

     All of the most prestigious awards for fiction each year are given to the works of literary fiction, which makes it sometimes easy to say that writers who write literary novels are better writers.

     In reality, neither of the two categories of writers necessarily deserve the distinction of being better writers. Different writers is a better word choice…

     Is essence, the best genre fiction contains great writing, with the goal of telling a captivating story to escape from reality. Literary fiction is comprised of the heart and soul of a writer's being, and is experienced as an emotional journey through the symphony of words, leading to a stronger grasp of the universe and of ourselves.

Steven Petite, huffingtonpost.com, April 28, 2014 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Humor

Humor is good when it stems from the truth. In fact, truth alone is often humorous. But the humor of artifice--whose worst device is exaggeration--always makes me a little ill because it is just another con game…I suppose that the worst is Bob Hope with his flip little cute exaggerations and his name droppings. I don't keep up much with the world and he drops these names I never heard of, all supposing to mean something.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1965-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: Joyce Carol Oates On Getting An Idea For A Short Story

A novel is so much more difficult than a short story. If you run, it's almost like you can think through your whole short story before you finish running. With a novel, it's almost impossible to do that.

Joyce Carol Oates, Where I've Been, And Where I'm going, 1999

Writing Quote: The Silent Novelist

No novelist has ever lived who did not at some time get stuck. And for every writer in working trim there may be a dozen persons of great ability who are somehow self-silenced. At long intervals they turn out remarkable fragments--embryo stories--but they cannot seem to pull themselves together and finish anything.

Jacques Barzum, On Writing, Editing and Publishing, 1986 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Sex Offenders Are Being Murdered In California's State Prison System

     California state prisoners are killed at a rate that is double the national average--and sex offenders account for a disproportionate number of victims, according to an Associated Press analysis of correction records.

     Male sex offenders made up about 15 percent of the prison population but accounted for nearly 30 percent of homicide victims, the AP found in cataloging all 78 killings officials reported since 2007…The deaths--23 out of 78--came despite the state's creation more than a decade ago of special housing units to protect the most vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, often marked men because of the nature of their crimes. In some cases they have been killed among the general population, and in others, within the special units by violence-prone cellmates. Correction officials acknowledge that those units, places that also house inmates trying to quit gangs, have spawned their own gangs.

    Officials blamed a rise in the prison homicide rate on a state corrections system overhaul meant to reduce crowding. As part of the effort, California in 2011 began keeping lower-level offenders in county lockups, leaving the prisons with a higher percentage of sex offenders and gang members…

     The problem is most acute with sex offenders. In the fall of 2014, the corrections department inspector general reported that so many homicides occurred in the "increasingly violent" special housing units reserved for vulnerable inmates that the department could no longer assume that inmates there could peacefully co-exist.

"Many Sex Offenders Killed By Inmates in California Prisons," Associated Press, February 17, 2015

Writing Quote: Horror, The Least Literary Branch Of Speculative Fiction

For awhile now, so-called "literary" and "genre" fiction have been moving from outright opposition to a cautious rapprochement. Literary writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Donna Tatt and Michael Chabon increasingly deploy tropes and images from genre, while genre writers have upped their stakes considerably in terms of complexity, moral resonance and style. Sophie Hannah, Josh Bazell and Denise Mina have reinvented crime fiction; Charles Yu, Iain M. Banks and M. John Harrison have given a literary uplift to science fiction; while China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer and Kelly Link have done the same for fantasy. But horror--the third aspect of "speculative fiction"--has had markedly less success in this regard.

Stuart Kelly, The Guardian, November 7, 2012 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Readers Expect Something New

     Different people read for different reasons, but to reproduce the mundane circumstances of their everyday lives is generally not one of them. There are literary writers who understand this and those who don't--hence the preponderance of divorce novels, teen angst novels, dealing-with-aging parent novels etc, that do little more than take us to where we've already been and tell us what we already know.

     Those who write science fiction and other forms of speculative fiction generally understand that while what we know and understand has its charms, the reason most of us read is to experience something fundamentally new.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: Kurt Vonnegut On Writing Students

I wish my students could write simply and clearly, and keep a story moving as well. They are damned if they will tell a story simply and directly, and I have discovered the reason for this. It is not the fault of their previous teachers. It is their own fault: they have no stories to tell. I am going to take them on walks, and make them look at people. I have just ordered them to buy a book, which is to be the core text for my workshop. The book? That Steichen collection of photographs, The Family of Man

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Magazine Publishers

I've followed this writing game a long time. Strange thing. Take a guy who has been editing a magazine. You see him published here and there. Then he decides to stop publishing his mag and devote himself to his "art." He then vanishes and is never heard from. He's no longer there to play you publish me and I'll publish you. And this happens as well with the magazines of more expensive format and a larger readership. What the hell does this tell you?

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The College Roommate From Hell

     A university student stabbed his sleeping roommate in the throat, slashed his forehead and chased him to continue the attack when the victim broke free. The assault took place in the dormitory on a northern California campus. The assailant, Dillon Sang Kim, 19, slashed himself before he was arrested. His mug shot shows a stitched knife wound around his neck. The attacker's hospitalized 19-year-old roommate is expected to recover from the knife assault.

     Kim was charged with attempted murder and assault. The judge denied him bail…

     Police say the attack was unprovoked…The victim awoke early Tuesday February 17, 2015 to find Kim standing over him holding a knife. He stabbed his roommate several times and cut the victim's forehead and shoulder before the victim ran toward a bathroom that connected to an adjoining room occupied by two other students. Kim chased after his wounded roommate and stabbed him in the back when he fell down. The victim made it to the adjoining room where another student called 911. Police arrested Kim outside the dormitory.

     University Student Charged With Stabbing, Slashing Roommate," therepublic.com, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Beware Of The Publisher's Advance

I have seen a lot of novelists stop writing or at least slow down after getting an advance. They have a feeling of completion after making a deal. That's bad news creatively. If you are within a few months of having a finished, edited manuscript, I advise you to carry on without an advance, without that false feeling of completion, without that bit of good news to announce to a lot of people before the job is really done.

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012 

Writing Quote: What Not To Do When Writing A Novel

Never ever read a powerful novel when you're trying to write a novel of your own.

Richard Price, The New York Times Book Review, February 22, 2015 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Country Boy Version Of Citizens Arrest

     A police manhunt in northern Idaho for an escaped person with a history of violent crime came to an end on February 19, 2015 when a homeowner shot and wounded the fugitive. Roy Beiluch escaped from the Shoshone County Jail two days before while on cleaning duty. He entered a crawl space through the ceiling of a utility room and made his way to the jail lobby. The 48-year-old was aided by a female accomplice who was taken into custody a day after the escape.

      Bieluch, in custody since December 2014 on charges of burglary, malicious injury to property and petty theft, wound up at the home of a man living outside of Wallace, Idaho, a town of about 800 people.

     Shortly after five-thirty on the evening of February 19, the homeowner responded to his dog's wild barking. Armed with a handgun he went out to see what was disturbing his dog. That's when he confronted the jail escapee. The homeowner called 911 and ordered Bieluch not to move. The fugitive instead moved toward the homeowner who opened fire, hitting the intruder in the leg.

     According to the authorities, Bieluch has ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Nation. Officers who took him into custody transported the escapee to a nearby hospital….

Chuck Ross, "Armed Idaho Homeowner Ends Manhunt," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Finding The Motivation To Write

This writing game is more desperate than holding up liquor stores, yet I'm snared in now and there's no out. A man finally gets lazy, too lazy and the mind gets too lazy to do any damned job. Now I'm almost too lazy to write. An empty belly and rent due might stove that up, though.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1971-1986, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Writing Quote: The Biographer's Relationship To His Subject

The most important thing that you as a biographer can do is to write from the heart. Write only about someone you have deep feelings for. If you care deeply about your subject, either positively or negatively, so will your readers. If you take on a biography about someone you couldn't care less about, possibly for the money, or because you have received a good publishing contract, the readers won't care about your subject either, and probably won't finish reading your book.

Brian Klems, writersdigest.com, December 9, 2013 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers Know Their Genre

     Writers of science fiction are, first and foremost, voracious readers, and they're often very savvy about the genre they work in. Whereas most literary writers have only the barest conception of where their work fits in the current publishing milieu. This is because many of them have been studying classic literature.

     The literary divisions are a little clearer within genre fiction--to an almost laughable degree (hence paranormal young adult romance, alternative historical fantasy, "furry" fiction, and virtually everything ending in the suffix-punk). But despite the fact that the differences between various types of literary fiction are more subtle, it behooves anyone serious about publishing to get savvy about them…

     The more knowledgeable you are about the imaginative space you're working in, the less likely you are to reinvent the wheel, and the more likely you are to get a handle on who your readers are and what they like.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Tammy Meyers "Road Rage" Murder Case: Fear And Confusion in Las Vegas

     Tammy Meyers and her husband Robert lived on a cul-de-sac in a Las Vegas residential neighborhood with their four children. On Thursday night February 12, 2015, with Robert Meyers out of town on business, the 44-year-old mother gave their 15-year-old daughter a driving lesson on the parking lot of a nearby school. According to the initial account of what happened after that driving lesson, as Tammy drove her daughter home, they became involved in some kind of dustup with a man in a car with two passengers. That man, as the story went, followed the mother and her daughter home. In front of their house, at 11:30 PM, the unknown motorist shot Tammy Meyers in the head. The assault was widely reported in the media as a road rage shooting.

     Emergency personnel rushed Tammy Meyers to the Medical Center of Southern Nevada where doctors placed her on life support. On Saturday February 14, as police officers searched for the unknown suspect in a silver sedan, a man described as 25-years-old, six-foot tall and 180 pounds, physicians took Tammy Meyers off life-support. She died shortly thereafter.

     Following Tammy Meyers' death, new details surfaced about the murder that put a different slant on the case. As Tammy and her daughter drove home that night from the school parking lot, a man driving a silver sedan sped by them. Tammy's daughter, to register her displeasure at the speeding motorist, reached over and honked their horn.

    The speeder, apparently angered by the rebuke, pulled in front on Tammy's green Buick Park Avenue and came to a stop. The man climbed out of his vehicle and confronted the frightened mother and daughter. After threatening the women, the man got back into his car and drove off.

     Instead of calling the police or going home and doing nothing about the encounter with the unknown motorist, Tammy sent her daughter into the house to fetch her 22-year-old brother Brandon. Brandon got into the Buick armed with a 9 mm pistol. He and his mother drove off in search of the unknown motorist who had frightened his mother and his sister.

     According to this version of the story, after driving around for a few minutes, Tammy spotted the silver car she was looking for. She followed that vehicle but quickly lost track of it and headed home. The man she had been following, however, hadn't lost track of Tammy. He followed her and Brandon back to their house.

     At eleven-thirty that night, the man in the silver car caught up to Tammy and her son in the cul-de-sac in front of their home. That's when Brandon and the man exchanged gunfire. A bullet from the other man's gun struck Tammy in the head. She collapsed in her driveway, the shooter sped off, and someone called 911.

     In speaking to a television reporter with a local ABC affiliate, Robert Meyers said he didn't know why his wife had to lose her life over such a petty incident. "Every time you turn around someone's getting shot in Las Vegas," he said. Admitting that "there were mistakes made" by his wife, the husband called his son Brandon a hero.

     Some people, while lamenting Tammy Meyers' murder, said they didn't understand why she didn't call the police instead of taking matters into her own hands and risking her life and the life of her son by going after the man who had threatened her? Wasn't that asking for trouble? What was she thinking?

     In the wake of this public criticism, Robert Meyers shut down the GoFundMe fundraising site that had been started by a friend of the family. Mr. Meyers returned $6,000 to donors. Sympathy had turned to skepticism. Regarding the Internet site, Mr. Meyers said, "If all of you people think I was a fraud and lied about the facts I am truly sorry."

     Brandon Meyers, in response to the criticism of his mother, said this to a reporter: "Everyone can think what they have to think. I did it for a reason. And I'd do it again for anyone I love."

     On Thursday February 19, 2015, one week after the shooting, the so-called Las Vegas Road Rage Murder Case took a confusing twist when 19-year-old Erich Milton Nowsch Jr. surrendered to the SWAT team that surrounded his house less than a block from the Meyers residence. Norwsch, five-foot-three and 100 pounds, didn't look anything like the composite  police sketch of the unknown motorist in the silver car.

     Robert Meyers, in speaking to reporters about this development in the case said, "We know this boy. I couldn't tell you this before. He knew where we lived. We knew how bad he was but we didn't know he was this bad. My wife fed him, she gave him money, she told him to pull his pants up and be a man."

     To a group of reporters out in front of his house, Mr. Meyers said, "Are you all happy? You made my wife look like an animal. There's the animal, a block away!"

    So what did this new twist in the case mean? If Brandon, his sister and their father knew the identify of the person who had committed the murder, why wasn't Nowsch arrested sooner? How did detectives identify Nowsch as the suspected shooter?

     While a Las Vegas prosecutor charged Erich Nowsch with unspecified offenses, the suspect is expected to be charged with murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder with a deadly weapon and discharging a gun within a vehicle.

     According to a police report on the case made public on Friday February 20, detectives found, in front of the Meyers residence, six .45-caliber shell casings. Norwsch's friends told investigators that the suspect had never mentioned a road rage incident to them. Instead, he said people were after him. Moreover, he was not the driver of the silver Audi involved in the case. Norwsch told his friends that he returned fire when someone in the green Buick shot at him from inside the car.

     At this point in the investigation, the authorities are trying to figure out if this was a case of road rage or a neighborhood dispute that had gotten out of control.

     

Writing Quote: The Pedigree Of The Short Story Genre

 The relationship of the short story to the novel amounts to nothing at all. The novel is a distinct form of art having a pedigree and practice of hardly more than a couple of hundred years; the short story, so far from being its offspring, is an ancient art originating in the folk tale, which was a thing of joy even before writing, not to mention printing, was invented.

A. E. Coppard, The Collected Tales Of A. E. Coppard, 1951 

Writing Quote: What Hasn't Been Done In The Horror Genre

Writing horror isn't so easy. With any type of fiction, it's difficult to think of something that hasn't already been done. With horror fiction, it's especially true. Creepy basements, loud noises from the attic, hidden rooms, Indian burial grounds, old hotels, multiple personality disorder, etc.--it's all been done before, and it's all out there. These cliches shouldn't restrain you, however. They've simply defined the space you're working in. You know what's out there, now create your own story.

Cris Freese, writersdigest.com, October 25, 2013 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Not Selling Out

     I think that over-ambition kills. I think that trying to be a writer kills. Writing simply has to be a sickness, a drug. It doesn't have to be, it just is. When one thing or another cures your sickness, that's it. And, of course, there are no guidelines.

     I've been lucky. For decades now I haven't had to force myself to write anything in any particular way…If you slant your writing it means you want to make money, you want to get famous, you want to get published for the sake of getting published. I think that only works for a while. The gods are watching us. And they extract their toll. Without fail.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Writing Quote: Ray Bradbury Called Himself A Fantasy Writer

     Ray Bradbury's rocket ships were not souped-up fighter jets. Instead, they were the latter-day descendent of Joseph Conrad's sailing ships: You traveled on them not so much to encounter adventures as to think about what the encounter might mean. His Mars was not an arid red desert, it was filled with towns where old ladies puttered around on the same kinds of charming but pointless errands little old lades do in Marcel Proust's Cambray…


     One way to sum up Ray Bradbury is to notice that he is just about the only American science fiction writer to claim, proudly, the label "fantasy" for his books. Fahrenheit 451 was his only real science fiction novel, he said. You might even locate him in a middle ground between the best American fantasy literature and the hyper-masculine world of Astounding Science Fiction. 

John Plotz, slate.com, June 6, 2012
      

Writing Quote: Kurt Vonnegut on Male Novelists Of His Time

Male novelists don't slug and insult each other the way they used to, since they aren't a bunch of drunks any more. They would be drinking less even if it weren't for the sudden humorlessness of the judiciary with respect to driving while under the influence. Not just male writers, but male artists of every sort, are no longer pressured to prove that they are real men, even though they have artistic sensibilities. As I've said elsewhere, my father was a gun nut like Ernest Hemingway, mainly to prove that he wasn't effeminate, even though he was an architect and a painter. He didn't get drunk and slug people. Shooting animals was enough. But male American artists don't even bother to shoot off guns anymore. This is good.

Kurt Vonnegut in Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012

    

Friday, February 20, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Jail Versus Prison

Jail is the place where people awaiting trial are detained or where those convicted of minor offenses (usually those calling for detention of thirty days or under) are kept. Prison is a facility for housing those found guilty of major crimes…Prison is another term for penitentiary. 

Rod L. Evans, The Artful Nuance, 1997 

Criminal Justice Quote: Too Drunk To Drive But Not Too Drunk To Fabricate Evidence

     A man poured water onto a freezing road to try to fool police officers into thinking the cause of his drunken car crash was black ice. Twenty-year-old Bryan Byers of Sparta, New Jersey was arrested Saturday February 14, 2015 and charged with drunken driving and other offenses.

     Authorities said he hit a guardrail after running a stop sign in a BMW early that morning. Shortly after the crash, 20-year-old Alexander Zambenedetti, a friend of Byers, showed up in his own car. The two men dumped 5-gallon buckets of water onto the read to create black ice…

     An officer on patrol saw Byers walking in the road and Zambenedetti sitting in his vehicle with two buckets in the back seat around 2:45 AM. Zambendetti wasn't wearing a shirt despite a wind chill of 15 below zero.

     Mr. Byers confessed to the evidence-fabricating scheme.

"Man Created Black Ice To Mask Drunken Driving Crash," Associated Press, February 18, 2015 

Writing Quote: Depression Era Horror Fiction

The Great Depression only enhanced America's interest in things supernatural and horrifying. A number of horror-themed radio shows sprung up including "The Shadow" (1930) and "The Spider" (1933). Both spawned successful spinoffs in the form of novellas and comic books. Yet the 1930s also marked the last decade of the pulp magazine. Publisher Henry Steeger visited the French Grand Guignol Theater for inspiration and returned to revive the Dime Mystery Novels series. He added Terror Tales and Horror Stories over the next two years. All these pulps survived until 1941. The very real horrors of World War II overshadowed fictional ones. It wasn't until the 1950s that the horror genre hit its stride.

Kristin Masters, blog.bookstellingyouwhy.com, October 24, 2013 

Writing Quote: Inserting Humor Into Your Nonfiction

Sociologists, linguists and biologists say that our ability to laugh and desire to do so isn't all fun and games, but actually serves two essential life functions: to bond with members of our "tribe," and to lessen tension and anxiety. Both of these are also excellent reasons to incorporate humor in your nonfiction. As a communication tool, effective use of humor can humanize you, cementing your bond with readers. It can also help your work stand out in a crowded market. And as advertising studies have shown, humor enhances how much we like what we're reading and how well we remember it afterward.

Anne Jasheway, writersdigest.com, August 9, 2011

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Getting A Late Start

I just got rid of a short story called "The Other." Arete took it. They pay a grand. Then they asked that I might illustrate the story. I sat down and flipped out three or four drawings, took me maybe five minutes. They accepted--$400. Everything is very strange. From a total bum to all this. But something is watching me. I am always being tested. There is always the next day, the next night. I began late and I'm going to have to keep pounding. I missed a hell of a lot of years. But the luckiest thing that ever happened to me is that I didn't get lucky early.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Writing Quote: Dystopian Science Fiction

Dystopia has appeared in science fiction from the genre's inception, but the past decade has observed an unprecedented rise in its authorship. Once a literary niche within a niche, mankind is now destroyed with clockwork regularity by nuclear weapons, computers gone rogue, nanotechnology, and man-made viruses…We have plagues and we have zombies and we have zombie plagues.

Michael Solana, wired.com, August 24, 2014 

Writing Quote: The Portal Fantasy Story

The "portal fantasy" is a mainstay in the fantasy genre. In this type of novel, someone from our world discovers a pathway to another world where he or she is our relatable explorer. We discover this new world through this narrator's eyes. It's a tried and true fantasy plot.

Charlie Jane Anders, i09.com, January 26, 2012 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Tip Forger

     A former waitress has been charged with forgery and other crimes for allegedly adding $10 or $20 to tips that customers of a western Pennsylvania restaurant left when they paid with credit cards. Police in Penn Township say 30-year-old Gina Haney of North Huntingdon put the number "1" or "2" in front of single digit tips customers had scrawled on receipts. As a result, she received $10 or $20 more than those customers intended.

     Haney allegedly fudged tips on 20 one-dollar tickets at Lucci's Pizza and Pasta between September and December 2014. The restaurant's manager alerted authorities after two customers called to complain about the overcharges on the same day. He pulled other receipts from her customers that revealed more overcharges.

     Haney denied knowing anything about the inflated tips.

"Ex-Waitress Charged With Padding Customers' Tips," Associated Press, February 15, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Drug Cops Find Nothing After Breaking Into A 90-Year-Old Woman's House

     A broken door. Smashed windows. Residue from a flash grenade on the carpet. That's the state in which cops in south Florida left a 90-year-old woman's house after raiding it for drugs. They didn't find any illegal activity, but won't admit they made a mistake.

     The woman said the raid happened on December 18, 2014. "I don't know how the cops got in here. The noise woke me up when something said boom! Like a bomb or something," she said. "Cops standing over here talking about where's the drugs? I said 'what? What drugs? Ain't no drugs in here.' "

     Riviera Beach police said they got a search warrant based on evidence of criminal activity.

     After drug-sniffing dogs failed to find anything, the police left. When asked whether they got the wrong address, a police spokesperson said that just because the woman didn't know anything about drugs being sold out of her house "doesn't mean it didn't happen." The cops agreed to repair the damage to the woman's house. [Months have passed and they have done so.]

Robby Soave, "90-year-Old Woman's House Destroyed By Cops in Wrong-Door Raid," reason.com, February 18, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Unhappy Vocation

Novel writing is considered a profession and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think that an artist can ever be happy.

Georges Simenon, Paris Review, Summer 1955 

Writing Quote: The Biased Biographer

I think the most biased biography I know of, almost viciously biased against the subject, was Lawrence Thompson's biography of Robert Frost. But Frost did not do the convenient things. Thompson took on the job of being Frost's biographer something like forty years before Frost died, and he was not allowed to publish the book until Frost was gone. That was their agreement. If Frost had died at sixty or seventy, instead of ninety, that would have been much nicer for Thompson. So there's that side of it. And Frost had some pretty unpleasant characteristics, along with tremendous charm. Thompson simply got turned off by him. There was a relationship with a woman that involved them both--they were rivals--there's nothing about that in the biography, of course. Thompson ends by attributing the worst possible motives to anything Frost did. The book is painful to read.

Scott Donaldson, themillions.com, February 27, 2012 

Writing Quote: Why The Fantasy Story Is So Appealing

     From the earliest myths and legends, through different cultures, fantasy has been with us. Think of the Arabian Nights stories, the Arthurian Romances, Spenser's The Fairie Queen, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lord Byron's Manfred, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and the works of Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and George MacDonald.

     Whether these stories are set in our world or a secondary world where magical creatures and/or people exist, they all share a common theme: the exploration of the human condition. Even the much maligned medieval/quest fantasies offer their readers the chance to vicariously explore a wondrous world, battle evil and restore justice. Even a lowly Hobbit can change the course of the world by destroying the Ring.

     That is the appeal of the tolkienesque fantasy. In our modern world where politicians prove corrupt, large corporations rip off customers and terrorists kill ordinary people going about their daily lives, the traditional quest fantasy provides an antidote to cynicism. Fantasy, deriving from the word fantastic, exercises our sense of wonder.

Rowena Cory Daniells, The Australian Literature Review, June 17, 2010 

Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers, Lighten Up

"It's so easy to make money with science fiction stories that say civilization is garbage, our institutions will never be helpful, and your neighbors are all useless sheep who could never be counted on in a crisis," says David Brin, a science fiction writer who thinks we've gotten too fond of speculative technological bummers. Movies like "Blade Runner," "The Matrix," "Children of Men," and more recently "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent," all express some version of this dark world view.

     Neal Stephenson, the author of Cryponomicon, usually writes exactly those kinds of dystopian stories. In his fiction, he tends to explore the dark side of technology. But a couple of years ago he got a public wake up call.

     On stage at a writer's conference, Stephenson was complaining that there were no big scientific projects to inspire people these days. But Michael Crow, the president of Arizona State University, shot back, "You're the one slacking off." By "you", Crow meant science fiction writers.

Adam Wernick, pri.org, July 29, 2014 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hellementary Education Quote: Teacher Plays Kindergarten Detective Rather Than Cop

     A Florida kindergarten teacher who video-taped a boy as he beat other students on three occasions was suspended without pay. Duval County Public School officials accused Rita Baci of failing to protect her students as she recorded the beatings with her cellphone in November 2014. School administrators hit Baci with a 15-day unpaid suspension at a school board meeting on February 12, 2015.

     The 65-year-old classroom veteran was also reprimanded for using her foot to push a student out of her class and leaving him unattended in the hallway…The video Baci took showed one boy being hit about his face and body several times. Another kid was shown being kicked as he tried to hide under a table. A third student was punched and slapped on video.

     Baci said she had taken the videos for evidence of the boy's aggressive behavior in her classroom at the John E. Ford Montessori School in Jacksonville. She showed what she had recorded to an assistant principal before meeting with the disruptive child's parents. She also let other students watch the videos….

"Florida Teacher Suspended After Filming Kindergartner Beating Other Students," Fox News, February 15, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: The Scofflaw And His Phantom Twin

     A New Jersey man repeatedly told local court officials they had the wrong guy, that it was his twin brother who had racked up all those traffic tickets. Court officials finally realized that Olawale Agoro used a fake name to have his court dates postponed. Olawale posed as his twin brother Tony to get new court dates for his traffic violations. As a result of his impersonation, he faced charges of hindering apprehension, false swearing and resisting arrest…

     The rouse began in July 2014 when a Maywood, New Jersey officer pulled Agoro over and issued him five traffic tickets. When he appeared in municipal court, he identified himself as Tony and said he was legally blind. However, officer Matthew Parodi, who pulled Agoro over, knew he was the same person he had stopped.

     Agoro left the courthouse and asked a man to drive his [Argoro's] car around the corner and stop. At that point the police officer saw the impostor climb in behind the wheel. Officer Parodi issued him three more tickets and his car was impounded.

     Agoro would go to the Rochelle Park, New Jersey Municipal Court where he posed as Tony and begged the clerk to grant adjournments for his brother because he was in Nigeria mourning the death of their father. After the adjournments were granted, Agoro missed a court date. That's when a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. The additional charges were filed when the authorities realized that Tony did not exist.

"New Jersey Man Posed as Twin to Avoid Court Dates," Fox News, February 15, 2015


Writing Quote: The First Novel Blues

     I completed my first novel on July 29, 2012 and spent the next two months sending it out to hundreds of agents and any publisher I could find that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. Dropping over a grand on ink, paper, and postage, my days consisted of checking my email, walking to the post office, and scanning the Internet for details of any literary agency that had an address, never mind a respectable client list.

     I received dozens of rejection slips but mainly non-replies. Those that did get back to me all said the same thing: love it, but can't see it selling. After a few months I was forced to admit that my novel wasn't going to be bought for $500,000 nor for the price of a battered second-hand paperback. I was devastated. What would become of me now?

James Nolan, vice.com, April 29, 2014 

Writing Quote: Categories Within The Fantasy Genre

To name a few sub-fantasy genres: There's Epic Fantasy involving thick books and very long series; High Fantasy, usually very traditional and Tolkienesque; Dark Fantasy that mixes in horror or grim themes; Grimdark Fantasy employing a dystopian element in the world or plot; Steampunk, a mix of fantasy and old Victorian clockwork and steam elements; Arcanepunk, a blend of science fiction and fantasy; Historical Fantasy incorporating magic into historical fiction often mixed with the sword and sorcery sub-genre; and Urban Fantasy which blends the ideas of magic and myth with modern day worlds.

Joanna Penn, thecreativepenn.com, June 27, 2013 

Writing Quote: Psychological Crime Novel Protagonists

Although it's widely acknowledged that the human capacity for self-delusion is boundless, it can often be difficult to get through psychological crime novels of the "How well do you know your husband/wife/best friend?" variety without becoming so irritated by the protagonist's willful obtuseness that you end up wanted to give him, or more usually her, a good shake.

Laura Wilson, The Guardian, September 19, 2004 

Writing Quote: The Longevity Of Children's Literature

It's striking how long children's book can last. One explanation may be the way in which they're read. They become part of our emotional autobiographies, acquiring associations and memories, more like music than prose. Another explanation may lie in the fact that children's books are designed with re-reading in mind. For all children's writers are conscious that his or her books may be re-read by children themselves.

S. F. Said, The Guardian, February 16, 2015 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Literary Prizes And Grants

Guggenheim, all those prizes and grants--you know how they go--more money is given to people who already have money. I know a professor who can't write. He wins a prize every year--usually the same one--and he goes off to some island and works on some project, meanwhile still getting paid half-salary for doing nothing at the university he's supposed to be teaching at. On one of his island trips he put together an anthology, even put me in it, but didn't have the decency to send me a copy of the book.

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1965-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Mob of Teens Storm Theater Showing "50 Shades of Gray"

     Orange County, Florida deputies were trying to figure out why hundreds of teenagers suddenly rushed into the movie theater at the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee Saturday night, February 14, 2015. As many as 900 kids, described as middle school and high school-aged, attempted to rush the theater at once…Nearly 300 of them were able to get into the theater before the security gates were closed.

     Jessica Weckerly and her husband were in the theater when they heard hundreds of kids stampeding into the place…Several fights broke out before police officers from several agencies brought the situation under control.

     At one point during the chaos, someone fired a gun into the air out in the mall parking lot where a person was robbed. Officers at the scene recovered a stolen car that contained drugs…One juvenile was arrested for battery and resisting an officer without violence. A second kid was arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge.

"Arrests Made After Hundreds of Teens Cause Riot at Florida Movie Theater," palmbeachpost.com, February 15, 2015  

Writing Quotes: Horror Stories For Children

Exposing your children to horror-nuanced children's literature at an early age is a positive thing. And here's why: 1. It gets children interested--exhilarated--about reading. I remember that as a kid, I was fascinated by any book that dealt with monsters or ghosts or anything weird. It was thrilling to open up and experience some of these books. There was a sense that I was pushing the boundaries, exploring new territory, doing something that bordered on naughty. It was a little scary and a lot of fun. 2. By exploring the dark side of humanity and the nature of fear, kids learn more about themselves and hopefully become more empowered because of it. 3. There are life lessons to be learned. Don't take that shortcut through the cemetery. Staying out late and not telling your parents where you are can be dangerous. Walking into a forest late at night looking for a wayward pet is a bad idea. Don't take candy from strangers. 4. These children's horror stories create a broader knowledge of literature and history.

Paul Allen, barnesandnoble.com, April 29, 2013


Writing Quote: Horror Fiction Since the 1980s

New technology brought new possibilities for horror film makers of the 1980s. Soon the emphasis shifted to gore for gore's sake, and the film genre fell out of favor with mainstream audiences. But the horror novel was enjoying an excellent reputation for quality writing, despite the growth in formulaic shocker stories. In 1981, Thomas Harris published the first novel in his Hannibal Lecter series. This novel remains one of the most commercially successful portraits of a serial killer, and it heralded the start of the serial-killer craze of the ensuing decades…In recent years, the archetypes of vampires, werewolves, and zombies have come to dominate the horror genre.

Kristin Masters, blog.bookstellingyouwhy.com, October 24, 2013 

Writing Quote: Movie Credits for Authors

     A screenplay by credit will go to those who wrote the scenes and dialogue of a screenplay but normally didn't generate the idea for the story…

     A story by credit will go to those who came up with the essence of a movie (such as the plot or main characters) and who might have written a treatment or summary, but who didn't write the screenplay. Similarly, those receiving a screen story by credit have adopted material from others' novels, short stories, or news articles for the film, often making substantial changes…

     A written by credit will go to those who both conceived the story and wrote the screenplay, usually merging the meaning of story by and screenplay by….

Rod L. Evans, The Art of Nuance, 1997 

Writing Quote: Conflict In The Romance Novel

In a romance novel, falling in love creates problems for both hero and heroine, but ultimately love's power provides the solution. During the romantic journey, characters must experience both internal and external conflict as they struggle to achieve their goals.

Vanessa Grant in The Writer's Handbook, edited by Alfrieda Abbe, 2002 

Writing Quote: The Novelist's Detachment From Real Life

Novelists when they're writing live in a spooky, clamorous silence, a state somewhat like the advanced stages of prayer but without prayer's calming benefits. A writer turns his back on the day and the night and its large and little beauties, and tries to fashion other days and nights with words. It's absurd. Oh, it's silly, dangerous work indeed.

Joy Williams in Why I Write, edited by William Blythe, 1998 

Writing Quote: Graphic Gore in Horror Fiction

Bloody acts of violence need not be graphically described…My position is simple. I detest the Vomit Bag School of Horror--books and stories featuring gore for gore's sake, designed strictly for the purpose of grossing out the reader.

William E. Nolan, How To Write Horror Fiction, 1990 

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Megan Huntsman Serial Murder Case

     In 1996, 21-year-old Megan Huntsman resided with her husband Darren West and their two daughters (they would later have a third girl) in a middle-class neighborhood in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a town 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. In 2005, Darren, an avid outdoorsman and employee of an excavating company, pleaded guilty in federal court to the possession of chemicals intended to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. In August 2006, the judge sentenced West to nine years in federal prison. (Although he pleaded guilty, West has maintained his innocence.)

     In 2011, with her now ex-husband behind bars, Megan Huntsman moved from Pleasant Grove to West Valley, Utah. Her three daughters remained in the ranch style house owned by Darren West's parents. The daughters occupied one of the two apartments in the dwelling.

     On April 12, 2014, not long after his release from prison, Darren West and members of his family, in anticipation of renting out one of the apartments in the Pleasant Grove house, were cleaning out the garage. Inside a tape-sealed cardboard box that gave off an "pungent order," Mr. West discovered the remains of an infant. He called his ex-wife, then notified the Pleasant Grove Police Department.

     After law enforcement authorities sent the infant's remains to the medical examiner's office, a judge authorized a search of the Pleasant Grove dwelling. Officers executing the warrant discovered, in more boxes in the garage, the skeletal remains of six more babies.

     On April 13, 2014, police officers arrested Megan Huntsman as a suspect in the deaths of the infants. At the police station, she admitted suffocating or strangling six of her babies immediately after giving birth. The seventh child, she said, had come out stillborn. Huntsman told detectives the babies were born between 1996 and 2006. The suspect said she had been too addicted to methamphetamine to raise any more children.

     That evening, police officers booked the 39-year-old serial murder suspect into the Utah County Jail on six counts of criminal homicide. The Provo, Utah judge set Huntsman's bail at $6 million, $1 million for each infant.

     Although Darren West resided with Huntsman from 1996 to August 2006, he said he had no idea she had been pregnant with these children.

     On February 12, 2015, Megan Huntsman pleaded guilty to six counts of murder. Each count carried a sentence of five years to life in prison. The prosecutor who arranged the plea agreement told reporters that Huntsman will probably spend the rest of her life behind bars. She will be sentenced on April 20, 2015. 

Criminal Justice Quote: Assaults Are Rarely Unprovoked

Victims of physical violence sometimes say they got beat up for no reason. This happens once in a while, but unprovoked street assaults by strangers are rare. There's usually a reason. A racial insult, an uncollected drug debt, revenge for the victim having sex with someone's underage daughter--it's always something, just not something the victim necessarily wants to tell the cops.

Adam Plantinga, 400 Things Cops Know, 2014 

Criminal Justice Quote: Say Goodbye to Walter Storey

     Missouri carried out its first execution of 2015. The state executed 47-year-old Walter Storey who was sentenced to death for the murder of 36-year-old Jill Frey, a neighbor. Storey murdered the victim with a knife on February 2, 1990. He received a lethal dose of pentobarbital just after midnight on February 11, 2015 in the execution chamber of the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

     As the lethal injection took place, Storey turned his head toward family members and began to sing or chant until his breathing stopped.

     Storey, on February 2, 1990 had received a divorce petition from his estranged wife. At the time he was living with his mother in a St. Charles, Missouri apartment complex. After a heavy night of drinking, Storey ran out of alcohol and decided to rob his across-the-hall neighbor, Jill Frey, a special education teacher.

     Storey grabbed a knife from his kitchen and climbed up to Frey's balcony and entered her apartment through an unlocked sliding glass door. He brutally beat Frey to death, inflicting no fewer than twenty blunt force blows. He broke the victim's ribs, stabbed her in the abdomen, and slashed her neck. After the murder, he stole the victim's purse and car.

     The next day, Storey returned to Frey's apartment and attempted to wipe down the scene to cover up evidence. He cleaned under the victim's fingernails using her own toothbrush. Storey tossed physical evidence of the murder in a dumpster and threw Frey's car keys in the lake behind the complex.

     The day after the crime scene clean-up, co-workers discovered Frey's body after she failed to show up for work….

"Missouri Carries Out Execution of Walter Storey," missourinet.com, February 11, 2015

     

Writing Quote: The Novelist's Crutch

Many novelists use alcohol to help themselves write--to calm their anxiety, lift their inhibitions. This may work for awhile, but eventually the writing suffers. The unhappy writer then drinks more; the writing then suffers more, and so on.

Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, June 21, 2004 

Writing Quote: Is Publishing A Novel Like Winning a Trophy?

What do we imagine our published novel will bring us? In part it is a trophy we want. Not entirely, of course, for we want all the pleasures of writing and we want the pleasure of knowing that someone else may read our words and savor a story that once existed only in our heads--and yet in part there is a yearning for a trophy. But a trophy of what?

Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark, 1994 

Writing Quote: Great Novelists Of The Past Started Out Writing Short Stories

Samuel Langhorne Clements [Mark Twain], Jack London, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and dozens of other novelists whose flames burn only slightly less luminously in the history of literature had one thing in common: They learned their craft by writing short stories. Only when they had mastered that form did they undertake the long trek of the novel. The short story, in its heyday, was the universal school for novelists.

Jon Franklin, Writing For Story, 1994 

Writing Quote: John Jakes On Being A Novelist

There are much easier, more pleasant ways to pass the time than writing, though few so rewarding intellectually and spiritually. But it's no sin to be honest and admit it if you'd rather garden, fish, or socialize with friends than go it alone as a novelist, with no guarantee of success. If you aren't sure you're up to all that writing demands of a person, go no further.

John Jakes in Writer's Handbook, edited by Sylvia K. Burack, 1988 

Writing Quote: Bad Times At "The New York Times"

I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. [Fired from The Times in 2003, Blair fabricated quotes from people he'd never met.] I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain at very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire.

David Carr, The Independent, February 13, 2015 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Stanwood Elkus Murder Case: The Examination Room Killing Of A Urology Doctor

     As a young man who grew up in southern California's Orange County, Ronald Franklin Gilbert, the son of a physician, played in a rock band and worked as a stockbroker. In the late 1980s he followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a doctor. In 1993, Dr. Gilbert joined the Orange County Urology Group housed at the Hoag Health Center in Newport Beach. The Huntington Beach resident, as a urologist, treated patients with prostrate cancer and bladder conditions as well as with a variety of sexual dysfunctions. He performed vasectomies, prostate surgery, and other urology related medical procedures. Dr. Gilbert's colleagues considered him one of the best in his field.

     Stanwood F. Elkus, a 75-year-old retired barber from Elsinore, California, told a friend on January 27, 2013 that Dr. Gilbert had botched his prostate surgery 21 years earlier at a Veteran's Administration hospital. (While Dr. Gilbert had worked at that VA facility then, there was no record of him operating on Mr. Elkus.) To his friend, Elkus said, "I had surgery and now I am worse than before the surgery." According to Elkus, Dr. Gilbert's operation had aggravated his incontinence problem rather than fix it.

     The following afternoon at 2:30, Stanwood Elkus showed up at the Hoag Health Center for his appointment with Dr. Gilbert. He had made the appointment using a fake name. Fifteen minutes later, when Dr. Gilbert walked into the examination room, the patient shot him several times in the upper body, killing him instantly.

     After the shooting, Elkus emerged from the examination room holding a .45-caliber handgun. "Call the police," he said. "I'm insane."

     In response to the 911 call, Newport Beach police officers arrived at the doctor's office eight minutes after the murder. They disarmed and arrested Elkus in the examination room. A few hours later, police officers searched the shooter's home in Lake Elsinore.

     On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, Stanwood Elkus stood before an Orange County arraignment judge who officially charged him with murder. The judge set Elkus' bail at $1 million. The prisoner was booked into the Orange County Jail.

     On January 29, 2013, the day after Stanwood Elkus shoot Dr. Gilbert, 70-year-old Arthur D. Harmon murdered a man in a Phoenix law office before killing himself. That same day, in southern Alabama, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes hijacked a school bus and abducted a 5-year-old boy he held hostage in an underground bunker. Instead of mellowing with age, these unfriendly loners had grown paranoid, angry and violent. They had became worse than just grumpy old men.

     On May 9, 2014, Elkus settled a wrongful death suit brought by members of Dr. Gilbert's family. To shield his assets from the civil suit plaintiffs, Elkus tried to transfer his ownership of eight houses and condominiums in Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, and Lake Elsinore to his sister. A judge granted the plaintiff's injunction that stopped the real estate transactions. The accused murder's assets were valued at $2 million.

     In August 2014, the murder suspect's attorney, Colleen O'Hara, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Orange County Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy told reporters that he planned to prove that Mr. Elkus, at the moment he killed Dr. Gilbert, was sane. "We are very confident in our evidence," he said.

     No trial date has been set in the Elkus murder case.

      

Criminal Justice Quote: Brent Taff: One Bad Dude

     A kidnapping suspect accused of threatening the judge overseeing his case faced new assault charges after he attacked a deputy during a failed escape attempt at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport…Brent Taff, 37, was being escorted from Utah to Oklahoma to face assault charges for verbal threats against the judge and others, when he made his bid for freedom during a layover Friday February 13, 2015 in Dallas…Taff told his deputy escorts that he needed to use the restroom and then attacked the deputy sheriff who took him inside.

     The officer's head was injured in the ensuing struggle, but he managed to shoot Taff in the hand before the other deputy and airport security captured Taff as he tried to flee the restroom…Investigators are trying to determine if the deputy had taken off the handcuffs to allow Taff  to use the facility.

     Taff was initially accused of stalking, kidnapping and domestic assault as well as violations of protective orders. Taff, of Sapula, Oklahoma, was free on bond when the authorities arrested him in Utah after he made threats against a prosecutor, his ex-wife, and the judge. After his escape attempt in Dallas, he was charged with assault on a public servant and escape causing bodily injury.

"Kidnap Suspect Faces Assault Charges in Texas Failed Escape," Associated Press, February 14, 2015 

Writing Quote: There's No Secret Formula For Writing a Best-Selling Novel

The fact that nobody has even been able to reduce the elements that go into the fashioning of a predictable best-seller has long been illustrated by the classic story of an expensive book-business survey that produced the three kinds of books that had always proved most popular: books about Abraham Lincoln, books about doctors, and books about dogs. The only thing predictable about the survey was that some publisher was bound to act on it, and not long after the survey some publisher did. He brought out a book called Lincoln's Doctor's Dog. It was--predictably--a disaster.

Jerome Weidman, Praying For Rain, 1986 

Writing Quote: Journalism Beats working

Being a journalist, I never felt bad talking to journalism students about the profession because it's a grand, grand job. You get to leave the office, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories. That's not going to retire your student loans as quickly as it should, and it's not going to turn you into a person who's worried about what kind of new car they should buy, but that's as it should be. I mean, it beats working.

David Carr, The Independent, February 13, 2015 

Writing Quote: So-Called Journalists Caught Creating Fiction

Whether fabricating sources or inventing scene settings, four journalists made headlines by choosing fiction over fact. It was discovered in 1998 that Stephen Glass had made up nearly half of his New Republic magazine stories. The New York Times reporter Jayson Blair was fired in 2003 for fabricating quotes from people he never met…Janet Cooke, a reporter with the Washington Post had to return her Pulitzer in 1981 after admitting she had created, out of whole cloth, an eight-year-old heroin addict to write about. In 2014, USA Today reporter Jack Kelley resigned after falsely creating stories, including a piece about a drowned woman who later turned up alive.

K. C. Baker, "Under Fire," People, February 23, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Birth of Narrative Journalism

     The dominance of the realistic novel in the nineteenth century created a bridge between literature and journalism, and the era's narrative masters routinely crossed it. Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Stephen Crane all wrote for newspapers…

     Richard Harding Davis, a newspaper journalist largely forgotten in the twentieth century but celebrated in the nineteenth, was the son of an accomplished short-story writer. Polished, mass-market narrative technique powered not only his fiction, but also the wartime dispatches that made him famous. World War I, his last great campaign, gave him the material for his most frequently quoted narrative lede: "The entrance of the German army into Brussels has lost the human quality." 

Jack Hart in Telling True Stories, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, 2007 

Writing Quote: Best-Selling Novels Don't Have To Be Well-Written

" 'Are you ready?' he mewled, smirking at me like a mother hamster about to eat her three-legged young."

E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, 2012 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Maxwell Morton "Selfie" Murder Case

     Maxwell Marion Morton, a 16-year-old high school student, lived in the western Pennsylvania town of Jeanette, a suburb of Pittsburgh. He played on the football team and had never been in trouble with the law. One of Morton's friends, Ryan Mangan, also a junior at Jeanette High School, worked at McDonald's in the nearby Hempfield Plaza.

     Ryan Mangan's mother, in their home on Rankin Avenue in Jeanette, discovered her son's dead body. Ryan had been shot in the face at close range. She called 911.

     Not long after Ryan Mangan had been shot to death, Maxwell Morton, using Snapchat, an application for Smartphones that allows the user to send photographs that disappear from the recipient's phone within seconds, sent a most disturbing "selfie" to a male friend. The photograph, captioned "Maxwell," depicted a close-up of Morton's face with his friend Ryan sitting behind him in a chair. To even the most casual observer it was obvious that Ryan Mangan had been killed by a bullet to his face.

     The friend who received this macabre and bizarre message saved the photograph before it automatically vanished. The boy showed the picture to his mother who immediately called the police.

     Homicide investigators couldn't believe that a kid had taken a photograph of himself with the boy he had presumably shot to death, then sent the picture to a friend. Did he think his friend would keep the murder a secret? Was he bragging? Did he want to get caught?

     Morton had also texted his friend a couple of incriminating messages pertaining to the photograph of the murdered boy. One read: "Told you I cleaned up the shells." The other: "Ryan was not the last one." What did that mean? Was this kid planning to murder others?

     Police officers took Maxwell Morton into custody and booked him into the Westmoreland County Juvenile Detention Center on suspicion of murder.

     In the homicide victim's bedroom, detectives found a 9mm shell casing.

     On Friday February 6, 2015, in a search of the suspect's home, detectives found a 9mm handgun hidden beneath the basement stairs. Confronted with the selfie and the gun, Morton confessed to killing his friend.

     At his arraignment hearing that Friday, a local prosecutor charged Maxwell Morton, as an adult, with first-degree murder as well as several lesser offenses. The judge denied him bail.

   
     

Criminal Justice Quote: Truck Thief Shot To Death In Civilian Chase

     Two brothers chased down suspects who stole their pickup truck from their driveway in Houston, Texas on February 8, 2015, killing the man driving the vehicle and triggering an investigation into whether they took the law into their own hands…The brothers, ages 23 and 30…were taken to the police station for questioning.

     A police spokesperson told reporters that "the Harris County Sheriff's Office never encourages anyone to chase down suspected criminals. We want civilians to dial 911 and let us handle it. Things can otherwise go tragically wrong. Innocent bystanders can be killed by stray bullets or crashing vehicles."..

     Once the homicide investigation has been completed, the case will be submitted to a Harris County grand jury for review…

     The brothers were inside their home at one in the morning on Sunday when they heard the truck alarm go off. They rushed outside to find men stealing their truck. They confronted a man inside their vehicle as well as two accomplices in a tan Chevy Suburban…

     The brothers retrieved their guns from inside their house, jumped into a Mustang and began pursuing the truck thieves. They chased them for about two miles, while dialing 911, until the brothers said they noticed one of the two men in the Suburban pointing a gun toward them. The brothers said they fired at the Suburban and the stolen truck, striking the driver of the pickup in the chest. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed in the parking lot of an Office Depot store…The driver of the stolen truck died at the scene. The men in the Suburban drove off….

"Sheriff's Office Investigates Brothers Who Killed Suspected Truck Thief," chron.com, February 8, 2015

     

Writing Quote: The Conceit Of The Biographer

Biography is a vain and foolhardy undertaking: Its essential conceit, that the unimaginable distance between two human beings can be crossed, is unsupportable; each of us is inherently unknowable. The biographer may be able to locate his subject in place and time--to describe the clothes he wore, the food he ate, the jobs he held, the opinions he expressed--but the subject's inner essence, by its very nature, is forever inaccessible.

Jonathan Yardley, Misfit, 1997 

Writing Quote: It Hasn't Always Been So Hard To Get A Short Story Published

I suspect that things were much easier back when I was starting out. Editors were actually writing to young short story writers asking if they had manuscripts! It's occurred to me that if I were an unpublished young writer right now, I might very well have to stay unpublished.

Anne Tyler in The Best American Short Stories, edited by Anne Tyler, 1983 

Writing Quote: Are Manic-Depressives Better Novelists?

     A surprising proportion of novelists are manic-depressive. The psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, one of the foremost experts on manic-depression, has explored this phenomenon in depth…The work of Jamison and others shows that novelists are ten times more likely to be manic-depressive than the rest of the population, and poets are a remarkably forty times more likely to suffer from this condition...

     Although most writers who have been successfully treated for depression find that their work begins to flow again as their mood improves, paradoxically, a few writers have linked their desire to write to their depression…

     One justification for such a position is that an artist must suffer to create, and what more effective way to suffer than through mental illness?..

     Other writers argue that depression is not necessary for creativity directly, but is an inevitable side effect of the mechanism that produces elated creative states…Several more writers have described how their desire to write disappeared as their depressions lifted, but blame the antidepressant--not the loss of their depression--for their decreased creativity.

Alice W. Flaherty, The Midnight Disease, 2004 

Writing Quote: Latin American Journalism

In my journalistic writing, I purposefully blend information, observation, analysis, and my own reactions to the material. I tell stories, because stories allow us to think wholeheartedly, to truly understand. The greatest Latin American novelists, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, began as journalists. That experience has contributed to the literary school of Latin American journalism that is better written and contains much more emotional content than U.S. journalism.

Alma Guillermoprieto in Telling The Story, Telling The Truth, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, 2007 

Writing Quote: Nora Roberts on Literary Humor

Any good story will have some humor somewhere, whether it's in the situation, the dialogue, the action. But if I want laugh-out-loud funny, I'm going to grab anything by Carl Hiaasen, and I know I'm going to get a good story with memorably quirky characters along with the laughs.

Nora Roberts, The New York Times Book Review, February 11, 2015 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Eleven-Year-Old Girl Accused of Murdering 2-Month-Old Baby

     On February 5, 2015, Trina Whitehead, a mother of four, left her 2-month-old daughter Zuri overnight with a friend in Wickliffe, Ohio, a suburban community within the Cleveland metropolitan area. Trina had known the woman she left Zuri with for six years. The 39-year-old babysitter, the mother of an eleven-year-old girl, had watched her friend's children before when she needed a night off. (The babysitter and her daughter have not been identified by the media.)

     At three the next morning, February 6, the babysitter fell asleep on her living room couch. Her daughter, who had also been on the sofa with the baby, took the infant to the second floor while her mother slept. She returned to the couch forty-five minutes later with the baby in her arms.

     The adult babysitter, awakened by her daughter, was shocked by the sight of Zuri. The infant's head was bleeding and terribly swollen.

     The eleven-year-old girl's mother dialed 911, and to the dispatcher, reported that the 2-month-old baby in her care had trouble breathing and wouldn't open her eyes.

     Paramedics and police officers arrived at the house a few minutes later. An ambulance crew rushed the severely injured infant to nearby Lake West Hospital. From that medical facility the baby was flown to the Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland where she died on the operating table.

     Police officers took the eleven-year-old girl to the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center for questioning.

     A forensic pathologist with the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office in Cleveland determined the infant's cause of death to be "multiple blunt force trauma to the head and torso." The tiny victim had suffered "massive brain injuries, severe damage to the liver, and external bleeding." The coroner ruled the baby's death a homicide.

     On Monday February 9, 2015, Juvenile Court Judge Karen Lawson, at the eleven-year-old's detention hearing, formally charged the girl with murder. In Ohio, persons under the age of 14 cannot be charged as adults. As a result, this case will proceed through the juvenile criminal justice system. If convicted, the accused pre-teen could be held at a State Department of Youth Services Facility until she reached the age of 21.

     The young murder suspect, represented by a public defender at her detention hearing, sat quietly at the defense table with her head resting on her folded arms. According to a detective who had questioned her, the girl showed no remorse for what investigators believed she had done to the baby. (The authorities have not identified the murder weapon or exactly how the crime had been committed.)

     In 2012, 20 children in the United States under the age of twelve were accused of murder. Criminologists believe that the number of pre-teen murder defendants has been on the rise over the past several years. No one is quite sure why. This case may not help answer that question. 

Two Boys Conspired to Murder A Classmate

     Our criminal justice system isn't equipped or designed to deal with kids who haven't reached the ninth grade. This is particularly true when pint-sized offenders commit felonies. In the good old days, students got in trouble for chewing gum in class. Today, they're hauled out of school in handcuffs for assault, resisting arrest, drug possession, sexual crimes, and the possession of firearms. But up until a case in Colville, Washington, no elementary school child has been arrested for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

     On February 7, 2013, kids on a school bus saw a 10-year-old boy playing with a knife. The bus was en route to the Fort Colville Elementary School in Colville, Washington 75 miles north of Spokane. A search of this boy's backpack at the school produced the knife and a weapon even more shocking--a .45-caliber, fully loaded pistol.

     When asked by a police officer what he was doing with the gun, the kid said that he and his 11-year-old buddy were going to "get" one of the girls in their class. Pressed for details, the boy revealed what they had intended to accomplish. According to the plan, the 11-year-old friend would stab the girl to death while the 10-year-old would use the gun to hold-off other kids and any interfering teachers.

     The Stevens County prosecutor, presented with the unusual and difficult facts of this case, decided to charge the fourth graders with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, tampering with a witness (holding off the crowd), and conspiracy to possess a firearm. (This gave these elementary school kids rap sheets that would impress gang members and Mafia types. Not bad for boys several years away from shaving.)

     In the state of Washington, individuals under the age of twelve are presumed incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. Under the law, they are essentially insane. This meant that the state not only had to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor had to establish the capacity to form specific criminal intent. If convicted, the young defendants faced incarceration at a juvenile facility until they reached the age of eighteen.

     In speaking to the press, prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, in referring to what these boys had been thinking, said, "It's the kind of thing everyone would know is wrong. It gives me no pleasure to prosecute a kid."

     In May 2013, the younger defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The judge sentenced him to three to five years in juvenile detention.

     On October 16, 2013, following a bench trial (no jury), Judge Allen Nielson found the 11-year-old defendant guilty of the same offense. On November 20, 2013, Judge Nielson sentenced him to three to four years detention in a juvenile facility.

     Judge Neilson called the older boy's actions a "brazen crime." According to the judge, the kid had made a "shrewd effort" to pin the entire plot on his co-defendant, the 10-year-old who had earlier pleaded guilty.
      

Criminal Justice Quote: Say Goodbye to Robert Ladd

     The state of Texas executed convicted killer Robert Ladd who was convicted of murdering a woman in 1996…Ladd, a 57-year-old African-American, was declared dead Thursday January 30, 2015 after receiving a lethal injection at Huntsville prison…Witnesses to the execution were two people who Ladd had exchanged correspondence with during his imprisonment.

     Minutes before the execution was carried out, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal by Ladd's lawyers who argued that the execution would contradict a decision by the Supreme Court in 2002 that prohibits the death penalty for people with intellectual disabilities…

     Ladd was sentenced to death for the murder of Vicki Ann Garner, a 38-year-old woman who he abused sexually, then strangled. He also hit her with a hammer and burned her body in her home in Tyler, Texas.

     Sixteen years earlier, in 1980, Ladd had committed a nearly identical crime: he stabbed a women in her apartment in Dallas and set the body on fire. The fire set the apartment on fire, killing the victim's two daughters. In 1992, he was placed on probation after serving 12 years of his sentence. [Why wasn't he given life or put on death row after those murders? If there is "intellectual disability" in this case, it resides with the authorities in Texas who set this killer free.]

"Texas Executes Prisoner With Alleged Intellectual Disability," business-standard.com, January 30, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: San Diego TV Sports Anchor Shot

     A San Diego television sportscaster was shot and wounded outside his home…Kyle Kraska, sports director and anchor for CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, was shot in the leg and stomach in the wealthy Scripps Ranch area of the city on Tuesday afternoon February 10, 2015. He is expected to recover from his wounds.

     Six hours after the assault, 54-year-old Mike Montana surrendered after a SWAT team surrounded a residence in El Cajon northeast of San Diego…Police said Montana had driven from the shooting scene in a white minivan with the logo "Superior Painting" on its side. The owner of the firm in San Diego said the van did not belong to his company and that he didn't know Montana…

     Kraska, a Boston native, appears on evening broadcasts and hosts the station's San Diego Chargers postgame show. He has worked at the station since 1999 and has been its sports anchor since 2003….

"Suspect Surrenders in Shooting of San Diego TV Sportscaster," ABC News, February 11, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Kills Her Police Officer Boyfriend Before Killing Herself

     Dallas police on February 9, 2015 released details about the shootings that left a police officer and a woman dead. Assistant Chief Randy Blankenbaker said officers were alerted to the fatal shooing by an emergency call from Otto Machelle Thomas Thomas before she took her own life. "Miss Thomas stated to the 911 operator that she had just committed a murder," the assistant chief said. "The 911 dispatcher asked the caller what had happened, and she replied, 'He was getting ready to hit me again and I just went off. I killed him because he was going to hit me again.' "

     Thomas, 41, told the 911 operator that the person she had just murdered--Dallas police officer Larry Tuttle--was her boyfriend, and that the incident occurred at his apartment. Police officers arrived at the scene within minutes. That's when Thomas called 911 a second time.

     During the second 911 call, the dispatcher could hear the patrol officers ordering Thomas to drop the gun and unlock the door. She said she had put down the gun and would unlock the door, but would have to walk away from the window where she was standing. A short time later, officers heard a muffled gunshot.

     SWAT officers discovered Officer Tuttle shot to death. Thomas was dead as well from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers found, in an apartment bedroom, a six-year-old child who was taken into child protection custody.

"Woman Admits Killing Police Officer in 911 Call," wfaa.com, February 9, 2015

     

Writing Quote: When Literary Novelists Try To Crank Out Genre Fiction

I'm reminded of a few serious novelists I know who have consciously set out to write best-sellers, often under pseudonyms. They've become veritable students of commercial fiction, reading everything by Danielle Steele or Tom Clancy, but when they actually write such a book themselves, it almost never works. The novel is rejected by publishers who say that the manuscript is lacking something basic, although they can't put their finger on what it is. I think what these novels are lacking is conviction. The difference between a writer of literary fiction attempting one of those books and Danielle Steele doing so is that Danielle Steele actually believes in her stories and her characters.

Meg Wolitzer, Fitzgerald Did It, 1999 

Writing Quote: Kurt Vonnegut On The Short Story Genre

This country used to be crazy about short stories. New stories would appear every week in the Saturday Evening Post or in The New Yorker, and every middle-class literate person would be talking about it: "Hey, did you read that story by Salinger?" or "Hey, did you read that story by Ray Bradbury?"

Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday, 1981 

Writing Quote: The First Novel Letdown

I believed, before I sold my first novel, that the publication would be instantly and automatically gratifying, an affirming and romantic experience, a Hallmark commercial where one runs and leaps in slow motion across a meadow filled with wildflowers into the arms of acclaim and self-esteem. This did not happen for me. As a result, I try to warn writers who hope to get published that publication is not all it is cracked up to be. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.

Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird, 1995

Writing Quote: Getting Published in Children's Magazines

     Children's magazines are a great place for unpublished Children's writers and illustrators to break into the market. Writers, illustrators and photographers alike my find it easier to get book assignments if they have tearsheets from magazines. Having magazine work under your belt shows you're professional and have experience working with editors and art directors and meeting deadlines.

     But magazines aren't merely a breaking-in-point. Writing, illustration and photo assignments for magazines let you see your work in print quickly, and the magazine market can offer steady work and regular paychecks. Book authors and illustrators may have to wait a year or two before receiving royalties from a project. The magazine market is also a good place to use research material that didn't make it into a book project you're working on. You may even work on a magazine idea that blossoms into a book project.

Chuck Sambuchino in Children Writer's And Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: The Facebook Home Jewelry Heist

     Boastful posts on Facebook and Instagram about a jewelry inheritance apparently prompted three men to target a Philadelphia home for robbery. Three men wearing ski masks and wielding pistols kicked in the door of a residence in the Somerton neighborhood of the city at around 2:30 Sunday morning February 8, 2015. The home invaders demanded jewelry and other valuables from a 19-year-old resident.

     The robbery suspects escaped through a rear window with a Rolex watch, two gold chains and cellphones. Police say the 19-year-old victim and four others in the home ranging in age from 17 to 19 were not hurt. The suspects mentioned during the robbery that they targeted the residence after seeing the Facebook and Insagram posts about the expensive jewelry.

"Robbery Suspects Say Facebook Posts About Inheriting Jewelry Made Them Target Home," Associated Press, February 9, 2015