Category Archives: research

Absolution is Here!

ABSOLUTION, the latest Leine Basso thriller, is finally here! It’s been a long process to publication, and yes, I’m stoked. Early reviews have been off-the-charts–a ginormous thank you to everyone who read and reviewed an early copy! (See below for special pricing on the Leine Basso thriller series.)

cover for Absolution

This novel has been such fun to write. I’m hugely attached to Leine and the characters in her life, and can’t think of a better crew to work with. I get emails from readers almost daily telling me how much they’d love to meet/have a drink/hang out with her. Me, too 🙂 This installment pits Leine against her alter-ego, Salome, from The Last Deception and Dark Return. I wanted both the protagonist and the main antagonist to be women, which was unsurprisingly easy to do 😉 

Absolution is the eighth novel in the Leine Basso world, and my intention is to continue the series as long as readers like it. I’m not a fast writer, but promise to give everything I’ve got to each book. Some of the stories came together quickly, like A Killing Truth. Some practically wrote themselves (I’m looking at you, Serial Date). I agonized over Cargo, hoping like hell to get daily life in Africa right, and bring to light the horrors of ivory poaching and canned hunts.

We all know I love to travel. With Kate Jones, I had a blast writing Yucatån Dead after visiting that region. Ditto for A One Way Ticket to Dead, Cruising for Death, Death Rites, and Dead of Winter. (Absolution, Dark Return, and The Last Deception too.)

cover for Yucatan Deadcover for A One Way Ticket to Dead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggest influence on my writing, though, is a burning desire for justice–the devastation wrought by greed,. crime, and ignorance knows no bounds, and I aim to do my admittedly small part in bringing awareness. Bad Traffick and The Body Market were my first forays into the hell that is human trafficking, and set the tone for the series.

cover for Bad Traffickcover for The Body Market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first started writing, my initial aim was to show people how strong they could be. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard women talk about how powerless they felt in different situations (men, too, but the majority have been women–and this was long before #metoo). I was brought up to believe in myself and to defend who and what I hold dear. It was eye opening to realize how many people felt as though they couldn’t or shouldn’t fight back. As a writer, I did the only thing I could think of and wrote about it, trying to understand the dynamics of fear, of feeling “less than,” and then turn the tables and rewrite the narrative.  The Leine Basso series is my way of righting wrongs and exacting justice–she’s good at what she does and isn’t afraid to kick ass when the situation demands it. 

That being said, I do my best to avoid preachy, soap-box-y diatribes–just try to provide well-researched information so readers can make up their own minds. Nothing turns me off faster than someone shoving their views down my throat when I’m reading for entertainment. 

And ultimately that’s what we thriller writers produce: entertainment. The day writing becomes less than entertaining for either the reader or myself is the day I find something else to do with my time.

Links to ABSOLUTION (on sale for $3.99 for a limited time):

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

KOBO

Smashwords

 

SPECIAL PRICING:  

*Serial Date is on sale through February for 99c. Bad Traffick, The Body Market, and The Last Deception are on sale for $3.99 during February. Absolution is $3.99 for a limited time.

 


KLAW TV Interview

Hey there! Just a quick post to let you know that my interview with Kitsap Literary Artists and Writers for local access TV station BKAT is live on YouTube. You can watch it here:

Looks like I’m about to strangle the interviewer, doesn’t it? Well, you should watch it to find out if I do 🙂  Interviewer Mark Miller went a tad off script, which made things interesting, and I had a blast (even though I was fighting an epic case of allergies that day…)

 


Grace O’Malley-Pirate

This is my 3rd and last post for “Women’s History Month” highlighting strong women through history. The first, about Russian sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko, can be found here. The second, featuring female pirate Anne Bonny, can be found here. Since I’m apparently obsessed with female pirates, I thought I’d continue the trend with a look at Grace O’Malley…

Born in 1530, Grace O’Malley was yet another “high-spirited” Irish woman. O’Malley was born into nobility and so was well educated. Regarded as formidable, when her father (chieftain of his clan) died, she inherited his large shipping and trading business, giving her a good start on piracy 🙂 Growing up, she’d always ask to join the fleets but was refused. Rumor has it that when she was told she couldn’t sail with her father because her hair was too long and would be caught in the rigging, she hacked it off. She was still not allowed to sail. It’s poetic justice that she inherited the business and became quite wealthy as a result.

Grace O'Malley00

Grace O’Malley meeting with Elizabeth I

Rejecting the traditional role of a sixteenth century woman, she commanded hundreds of men and 20 ships on raids of rival clans and merchant ships. When her half-brother and sons were captured by the English governor of Connacht, she petitioned Queen Elizabeth I to release them from prison and the two women struck a bargain. Prepared to hold up her end, once O’Malley realized the agreed-to stipulations had not been met, she went back to supporting revolutionary uprisings against the English. Grace O’Malley lived to be 70 years old and continued to be a thorn in the side of the English until her death.

That’s it for my posts celebrating Women’s History Month. I plan to post the occasional kick-ass women article as and when I can (which, let’s be honest, will be haphazard at best. I tend to identify with the slow, erratic blog movement). In honor of Independent Women everywhere, I leave you with this hilarious video of Kristen Bell and Pinksourcing. Enjoy!


Anne Bonny-Woman Pirate

In continuing my celebration of Women’s History Month (the first post featuring sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko can be found here) I thought I’d do a little more research on a woman I’d always been intrigued with: the Caribbean pirate, Anne Bonny. My husband and I are fans of Black Sails on HBO, and the writers incorporated a character based on Anne, which made me curious–how much is known about this woman who broke with convention and risked her life to live as a pirate?

Bonney, Anne (1697-1720)

Anne Bonny was born in Cork, Ireland in the late seventeenth century to a servant woman by the name of Mary Brennan and her employer, a lawyer named William McCormac. Her father moved her to London where he dressed her like a boy and called her Andy (another article I read mentioned that her mother was the one who dressed her like a boy, but we at least can be fairly certain it happened. Interesting twist, though.) When neighbors found out what he’d done, he moved her and her mother to the Carolinas and eventually became a wealthy merchant.

Anne was known to be “high spirited” and rumor has it she put a boy in the hospital for attempting to sexually assault her. Eventually, she married a small-time pirate named James Bonny and  her father disowned her. She ended up in the Bahamas, where she met John “Calico Jack” Rackham and fell in love. She divorced Bonny and, joining forces with Rackham and a woman named Mary Read, absconded with a ship called the William out of Nassau harbor. Apropos, I thought.

The three pirates gathered together a crew and sailed the Caribbean taking smaller ships, racking up a fortune. Both women fought alongside the male crew members, and Anne especially was highly thought of for her ability to wield a cutlass. http://bonney-readkrewe.com/legend.html In October of 1720, an ex-pirate who was now a commander with the British navy attacked Rackham’s ship the “Revenge” and captured all aboard. Apparently, the pirates were drunk from celebrating the capture of a Spanish commercial ship. Go figure. Drunk pirates… Anyway, all were tried as pirates in Port Royal and found guilty, and were sentenced to death by hanging. Anne and Mary “plead their bellies” and were spared. Mary died in prison from fever, but Anne was said to have been sprung from jail by her father. Rumor has it she remarried and lived well into her dotage.

Next week: more female pirates!


Happy International Women’s Day

Hey there. Happy Wednesday 🙂  In honor of International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month I’ve decided to spotlight strong, independent women from history on the blog. As I was researching the latest Leine Basso thriller, I ran across the story of the woman I’ve chosen for the inaugural post: Lyudmila Pavlichenko.

pavlichenko_lmLyudmila Pavlichenko was a Ukrainian-born sniper active in the Red Army during WWII with 309 confirmed kills, including 36 enemy snipers (which means she probably killed far more Nazis than 309 since to confirm a kill it had to be witnessed by another person). In an era where women in the US and Soviet Union weren’t allowed to join the military and fight on the front lines, Pavlichenko blasted through the glass ceiling imposed by the Russian military by being an expert at what she did. Eventually, the Soviet Union not only allowed but actively trained 2,000 women to be snipers, 500 of whom survived the war. Pavlichenko wapav-stamps one of those survivors and often worked in the “no man’s land” between the front lines of her unit and the enemy’s.

She was a woman after my own heart. At the age of 14 when a neighbor boy boasted about how good of a shot he was, she took it upon herself to learn how to shoot better than he did. “I practiced, a lot,” she was quoted as saying. In 1937, she went on to attend college at Kiev University, intending to become a teacher.

From an article in the Smithsonian: “[Pavlichenko] was in Odessa when the war broke out and Romanians and Germans invaded. “They wouldn’t take girls in the army, so I had to resort to all kinds of tricks to get in,” Pavlichenko recalled, noting that officials tried to steer her toward becoming a nurse. To prove that she was as skilled with a rifle as she claimed, a Red Army unit held an impromptu audition at a hill they were defending, handing her a rifle and pointing her toward a pair of Romanians who were working with the Germans. “When I picked off the two, I was accepted,” Pavlichenko said, noting that she did not count the Romanians in her tally of kills “because they were test shots.”
Her first day on the battlefield, she was scared to death and couldn’t bring herself to shoot. A fellow soldier set up next to her to give her courage but was quickly killed by a German sniper. Again from the Smithsonian article: “Pavlichenko was shocked into action. “He was such a nice, happy boy,” she recalled. “And he was killed just next to me. After that, nothing could stop me.”
lyudmila-pavlichenko-w-eleanor

Justice Robert Jackson, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Eleanor Roosevelt (Source: Library of Congress)

In 1942 she traveled to the US to drum up support for a second front and while there met and became friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Reporters gave Pavlichenko a hard time about not wearing makeup and not dressing like a woman should, and to say she was shocked is probably an understatement. She had been awarded the highest honor in Soviet Russia, the Order of Lenin, among other commendations, for what she’d done in the war, and American reporters were concerned about how she looked. (Hasn’t changed much, has it?)

Intrigued by her story, I found a recent film (2015) on Amazon chronicling her life. The Battle for Sevastopol is in Russian and English with English subtitles.  The subtitles whoosh by pretty fast, so have your pause button handy, but the movie itself was cinematic and gut-wrenching and definitely one to watch if you’re into war movies based on a true story.

After being wounded in battle, Pavlichenko went on to train snipers until the war ended, and then returned to university to earn her Master’s degree in history. There were reports that she married a fellow soldier during the war, but that he was killed in the Battle for Sevastopol. There’s a scene in the movie that details this, although I found scant information out there about him.
Read more about Lyudmila Pavlichenko:

Also in honor of International Women’s Day, I’m participating in two promotions featuring strong female characters: from March 6-17th, the 1st Annual Women’s History Month Giveaway (all genres), and running March 8-15th, the Nasty Women Giveaway (the name says it all 🙂 All books are through #Instafreebie, so all you’ll need to do to download your free books is sign up for the newsletter for the author of whichever titles you choose. I guarantee you’ll find yourself some new authors to read 🙂
Enjoy! 

Gunshot Wounds and What They Tell Us

Bullets Hydra-Shok 9mm JHP 2871988380 o
Here’s a fab post by Ben at The Writers’ Guide to Weapons regarding what a gunshot wound (GSW) can and cannot reveal about the weapon used. Great information for those of us who write crime.

It appears that I’m on a roll with linking to other blog posts. I hope you mystery/thriller writers/readers out there find this one helpful/interesting. Original content will resume as soon as I’m finished with edits for the latest Leine Basso, A Killing Truth–coming soon! 🙂


The Smell of Cordite Hung in the Air

Woman with Smoking Gun by Clarence F. UnderwoodSo I’m reading away on the first in series of a new-to-me thriller author, enjoying the story line and the protagonist (tortured male assassin–one of my favorite kind of characters. ClichĂ©, I know, but I still love ’em) and I come to the line “The smell of cordite hung heavy in the air” (or something like that).  As I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post, there just might be something wrong with that.

Well, yeah.

Back when I was a newbie to the crime genre, I read as many crime novels as I could find, and it didn’t matter what year they were published. Often, I’d come across the cordite reference and I wondered, “what the heck is cordite?” So I looked it up. Turns out, cordite was a propellant much like gunpowder, used mainly in the UK.

Notice the past tense.

That’s because cordite is no longer around and it hasn’t been used since WWII. Now, I’m not trying to be all snarky about accuracy in books, since I’ve made mistakes in my own fiction (like using the word clip for magazine. Got called on that one a couple of times.) But the author claims to have several experts read their work for accuracy and it makes me wonder how “expert” those folks really are. This author is independently published, but I’ve read a few books by traditionally published, well-known thriller authors who used the same reference in fairly recent books. Aren’t they supposed to have fact-checkers? Or at least a good editor?

Oh, well.

I’ve also read books where the character flipped the safety off on a Glock. A Glock doesn’t have an external safety . After reading the most recent book with that reference I gave the author the benefit of the doubt since guns weren’t their forte, and because it didn’t throw me too far out of the story. I do that with most of the books I read. Being an author myself, I realize how hard it is to make sure unfamiliar subjects are accurate, and the best you can do is research and try very hard to get it right. If the rest of the book is compelling, then a mistake here and there isn’t a deal breaker, at least for me.

The one thing that does make me throw the book across the room, though, and I’ve touched on this before, is when a male writer tries to write a female and either makes her a one-dimensional, convenient character, or puts lipstick on a dude and calls it good.

Ugh.

But, then again, being female is one subject where I have plenty of experience  🙂

How about you? Do you give authors the benefit of the doubt when you notice a mistake, or do you throw the book across the room? Better yet, do you tell them?


60 Minutes: Real Reporting?

Here’s a blog post by author/reporter Sam Quinones regarding the 60 minutes piece about heroin use in Ohio that aired last Sunday evening. As an author, what 60 Minutes did infuriates me and should do the same to anyone who values in-depth reporting. What happened to honesty and citing your sources? 60 Minutes used to be one of my favorite shows on television. Not any more.

http://samquinones.com/reporters-blog/2015/11/02/sad-for-60-minutes/


Author Earnings Tracked over 7 Quarters

Interesting news…well worth a read if you’re considering “going indie” or taking the traditional route.

http://authorearnings.com/report/individual-author-earnings-tracked-across-7-quarters-feb-2014-sept-2015/


Where Did the Summer Go Part 2: Writers’ Police Academy

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, a day after we got back from Rainier, I flew to Appleton, Wisconsin to attend the fabulous Writers’ Police Academy.

The brainchild of former LEO Lee Lofland, the Writers’ Police Academy brings together crime writers and experts in the field of law enforcement, CSI, emergency services, etc., in order to help writers “write it right.” Now in its 7th year (and having outgrown its original home in North Carolina), the conference was held at the brand-new Fox Valley Technical College Public Safety Training Center.  It’s three jam-packed days of information sessions, hands-on experiences, and a whole lotta fun. (pictured below: Lee Lofland)

photo of Lee Lofland

The state-of-the-art facilities had an airliner on site, as well as a derailed tanker and a faux city with several buildings including a bank, a motel, and an apartment building. LEO training was ongoing at the time of the conference and attendees were welcome to watch traffic stops and various other law enforcement scenarios.

photo of airliner

One of the most informative classes I took had to do with blood spatter and DNA with Jeff Miller (pictured below). Talk about fascinating. Did you know that fingerprints can actually transfer through latex gloves? Not so with nitrile (the blue gloves). Or that the reason DNA results take so long (other than a backlog) is that they have to go through a quality assurance/peer review process that takes an average of 15 days before a report can be issued? (Although if you have a suspect, a match can be determined within a day.) I also learned that DNA can still be detected through seven layers of paint, and that 90 minute results will be available to law enforcement once the FDA approves a machine/process called RapidHit DNA.

photo of blood spatter class

More interesting factoids: a) hermaphrodites can have two different sets of DNA (think of the fictional possibilities!); b) even though identical twins have identical DNA, there is a copy number variant that can help determine which twin committed the crime; and, my personal favorite, c) if a person kisses a suspect for 30 seconds or more, the suspect’s DNA can transfer to the other person–your PI/sleuth character will need to get a swab from them quickly, though. Also, Luminol is on its way out as a blood visualizing agent, and is being replaced by a product called Blue Star. If a criminal tries to clean the crime scene, both Luminol and Blue Star sparkle in the dark when introduced to cleansers.

blood spatter class

There was a boatload of interesting lectures by world-class presenters (pictured below: Dr. Katherine Ramsland giving us an Overview of Forensic Psychology) Katherine has a way with words–especially when she’s describing– shall we say– unusual sexual proclivities in serial killers;

Dr. Katherine Ramsland

The CSI Effect: Real vs Reel (with Mike Black). A great class that blasted through several of the inaccuracies inherent in television programs regarding crime scene investigation. And no, CSI: Miami/New York/etc. should NOT be used for research purposes. But you already knew that, right?

evidence photo

slide of CSI myths

Not surprisingly, some of my favorite sessions were of the hands on variety, like MILO: Shoot/Don’t Shoot Interactive Training. In this class, you’re given a laser pistol similar to a 9mm and told to stand in front of a screen while they run video scenarios involving suspects behaving badly. It’s up to you to determine whether you should shoot or not. I have a new appreciation for how scary it must be for an officer to face down someone who has (or most likely has) a weapon  (sorry, no pics of this one–suffice it to say I didn’t have a problem shooting bad guys coming toward me on the screen…);

Then there was the shooting range (rifles with scopes! Need I say more?);

photo of DV shooting an M4

Bangs and Booms 101 (and all things incendiary with John Gilstrap — pictured below). You can certainly tell by the way he teaches that he LOVES his job 🙂 ) In this class we learned about shaped charges (e.g. RPGs), grenades, dynamite, and C4, and a host of other cool stuff;

John Gilstrap session

Fighting Words: Martial Arts for Writers (with Howard Lewis). The mindset of a person who practices martial arts is very different from one who does not. Howard is extremely entertaining–if you get the chance, go to anything he teaches. And don’t forget to ask him about Bruce Lee…

Martial Arts for Writers photo

Karin Slaughter was the Guest of Honor at the banquet (I forgot my camera that evening, so no pics), and she was hugely entertaining. If the whole crime novel writing gig doesn’t work out for her, she definitely has a shot at a career as a stand up comedian 🙂

In the end, I came away with a much better understanding of the challenges faced by law enforcement and emergency personnel, and gleaned all sorts of little details that I will certainly use in future books. If you write about crime or law enforcement, you’ll LOVE this conference. I wish I could have cloned myself so I could go to every one of the classes. Sigh.

I guess I’ll just have to go again next year.


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