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Dispute Between House Cats & Humans Turns Legal part 2

catlaw3_1

Photo courtesy of Melissa Snark

catlaw3_2

Photo courtesy of Melissa Snark

These letters were previously posted on May 12, 2013 on Author Melissa Snark’s Blog.  For more information about Author Melissa Snark, please visit her website. Thank you Melissa for your fabulous contributions!

10 Tips for NaNoWriMo Success

This week’s video is courtesy of Lostbetweenthepages. I don’t know her real name but she’s hilarious. Tip #9 is my favorite. 

 

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

Write What You Know: Building Characters

[avatar user=”LeeAnn” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]

Characters are people. Okay, not real people but they are real people writers create. And as writers we have to show our characters in their true light or our story won’t ring true. But how do we do that?

First, we have to recognize that our characters have lives, a history. They have hopes and dreams, past relationships (different perhaps from the ones that will develop in the story), a future they can’t foresee, hobbies, favorite foods, hated foods, vices and virtues, beliefs, childhoods, parents, favorite books and TV shows. Everything we have in our lives they have in theirs. Including the obvious starting point – physical attributes.

Novice writers may make the mistake of spending countless paragraphs trying to explain where or what a character was doing five years prior to the coming scene in the story. They do this to provide the reader with the character’s frame of mind or past history with the character he’ll be interacting with, etc. The reality is that this type of writing is both necessary and unnecessary. It is unnecessary in the story, most of the time, but really quite necessary as part of the preparation to write.

We have to build our characters. This series is to help writers do that. Some things you may know to do already. Others may be new to you. All of these things are not, to my knowledge, in a textbook but merely ways that I use to build my characters. And yes, character building is part of the research we do.

So, if I’m writing about vampires, yes, I’m going to research all about vampire lore and history of the legend and the biography of Vlad Dracula. I may even research the local terrain and food and customs of the time just to get into my vampire’s essence. But my vampire is unique. And we need to be introduced to each other so he can talk to me and I can tell his story – his real story.

On Monday, I’ll start with physical descriptions of characters. As a fun follow-along exercise, try writing a character along with me. I shallll name my character Molly.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

Forensics & Fiction: Time of Death (Livor Mortis)

Courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gargamel is found dead in his creepy house. He’s found by Azrael, who captured Papa Smurf (reincarnated from the earlier posts) and brought him to Gargamel as a gift. Shocked by finding his companion dead, Azrael curls up on the floor, next to Gargamel’s feet. Papa Smurf immediately begins an investigation. He calls Smurfette, an experienced death investigator, to the scene. She arrives with her scene kit and immediately begins her examination. She documents that Gargamel is on his back, makes a notation that rigor mortis has set in with arms and legs in a locked position.  Then, with Papa Smurf’s assistance, she rolls him over to examine his back side.  She lifts up his shirt and presses against his skin with two fingers.  

“Livor mortis is purple-pink and does not change when I press on it.”

 “What does that mean,” Papa Smurf asks?

 This will be the final entry on time of death.  Today’s discussion focuses on livor mortis.  Here’s what you need to know.

  • Livor mortis ( also known as lividity) is the pooling of the blood to the dependent areas of the body after death.
  • “Dependent” refers to the surface of the body that is in direct contact with the ground.
  • Livor is typically a purple-pink color.
  •  It generally will fix during the first 12 hours after death.
  • Until livor mortis is “fixed” it can shift if the body is moved.

What does “fix” mean? During the first few hours after death, the blood that has pooled to the dependent areas of the body is not set in. Meaning, when an investigator presses on the skin to check it, a white finger-shaped mark will be present immediately after she removes her fingers.  

 In Gargamel’s case, his livor mortis was set in or “fixed”, meaning that when Smurfette pressed on his skin, there were no white finger-shaped marks when she removed her fingers. The white finger-shaped marks is referred to blanching. Immediately after Smurfette releases her fingers, the white marks will turn red again as long as the livor mortis is not fixed.  

How livor mortis is used by investigators

Investigators can learn a lot about the decedent’s death based on the color of the livor mortis. Livor mortis is normally a purple-pink color. However there are times when it’s not.

If the color of the livor mortis is cherry pink, be alert! Cherry pink livor mortis can suggest the following:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Cyanide poisoning
  • Cold (Refrigeration)

**These are also known as the three Cs

 Livor mortis can also tell investigators if the body has been moved. For example, if Gargamel died on his back but was found on his front and his back was purple-pink but not his front, Smurfette will know he was moved.

Also, if something was pressed against Gargamel’s body and remained there until after it the livor mortis fixed, the impression it created will stay white while the surrounding skin will be purple-pink. For example, if a cinder block had been placed on Gargamel’s body, crushing his chest and ultimately suffocating him, and then it was removed 13 hours later, Smurfette will find a white square or rectangle imprint on his chest. At autopsy, the crushing injuries, combined with the imprint will confirm something heavy was placed on his chest, causing his death.

This concludes the Time of Death series. If you have any questions on any of the information I’ve provided please leave a comment.

 

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shall I or Will I?

[avatar user=”LeeAnn” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]

Language is fantastic. Everything about it is fantastic. But the best thing about it is studying it. How children develop language skills, how language is influenced by other languages, how it changes over time in meaning and pronunciation, and how it changes by words that fall out of use. That’s actually pretty sad because I believe words should be used – frequently – and correctly when possible.

One of my favorites is shall. I like that word but sadly it is falling out of usage – at least here in the good old USA. It is still used in Great Britain, home of our mother tongue. Well, one of them anyway. Today, we don’t often use shall in normal conversation. Mainly, we use will. But if you are writing a character who may be British, or well educated, or pompous, or older, they might use shall in their speech and so you should know how it is used.

Typically, shall is used with the first person singular and plural (I and we) and will is used with second and third person singular and plural (you, he, she, they, it).

  • I shall go to the movies.
  • We shall go to the movies.
  • You will go to the movies.
  • They will go to the movies.
  • He will go to the movies.

The exception is when there is emotional involvement or used in a commanding form:

  • I will win the game.
  • We will win the game.
  • He shall go to bed.

Shall is also used in legal documents: the party in the first part shall upon completion of the contract pay to the party in the second part blah blah blah.

Shall is also used in interrogative forms:

  • Shall we dance?
  • Shall I open the door for you?
  • Will you get the tab?

But note, it is used with the first person.

More and more will is taking the place of shall in all aspects. Even Chaucer used will over shall. Shall has Germanic roots whereas will has Latin roots. Shall has a longer history in our language but Latin was considered the language of the educated. Interesting how we now assume the use of shall comes from being educated. I like shall and I shall use it more often.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

Sunday Newspaper

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Dispute Between House Cats & Their Humans Turns Legal

catlaw1

Photo Courtesy of Author Melissa Snark

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of Author Melissa Snark

Photo courtesy of Author Melissa Snark

These letters were previously posted on May 1, 2013 and May 6, 2013 on Author Melissa Snark’s Blog.  For more information about Author Melissa Snark, please visit her website. Thank you Melissa for your fabulous contributions!

Bad NaNoWriMo Advice

This next video is HILARIOUS! You must watch it!!! Kelsey Macke, the video host, has put together 30 bad pieces of advice for NaNo. Buckle up and get ready to laugh! She’s hysterical!

 

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

Write What You Know

[avatar user=”LeeAnn” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]

Writers are creative. We come up with fantastic stories, realistic characters, and then spend hours twisting main plot lines and subplots, creating relationships between our major characters and killing some of them off. Creative? Yes. Sleep deprived? Yes. Able to leave one world based in reality and create a new reality simply by concentrating and typing? Yes. What we can’t do is know everything.

We are writers, not experts in all fields. And, we’ve all heard the adage – write what you know. Does this mean that scribes who write murder mysteries have killed people? Or writers who pen stories about vampires are one? Of course not. Well… we hope not. So, how do you write what you know if you don’t know it? One word – research.

Writers are naturally readers which is a good thing because that’s usually how we do research. If you want to write a book about vampires, odds are you will pull out your pocket copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and give it a quick read among other Gothic and modern-day novels and probably the history texts and biographies of Vlad Dracula III (Vlad the Impaler) who is at the core of this legend. As a writer you should know the classic vampire attributes and the, for lack of a better phrase, natural laws of vampire behavior.

Research is vital. And you must take your time to do it right. Read books, make phone calls, send emails, and if possible interview people in person. Be sure to have your questions ready and follow up when new questions arise from the information you’re given. But who do you ask?

Just about every agency has a media specialist. The FBI and CIA have Public Relations Offices and media specialists whose jobs are to answer questions from the media and the public. I know this because as a mystery writer I’ve had to contact chemical labs regarding poisons, the FBI regarding investigative techniques, and various police departments for information of their hierarchy and structure.

The information you need is out there, you just have to reach out to get it. Writing about a retail manager? Go talk to a retail manager. Writing about a bartender? Go have a drink and talk to the bartender.

Whatever you do, make sure you research thoroughly the topic you are writing about. Get more information than you need. You will need to have a basic knowledge of the topic you are writing about. You may not use all the information, but the fact that you know it will come through. You’ll be writing what you know.

Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

Forensics & Fiction: Time of Death (Rigor Mortis)

 

Courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Papa Smurf was found by Smurfette, unresponsive in his rocking chair. EMS arrived and removed him from his chair. When they placed him on the floor, his legs were bent at the knees and were elevated mid-air. Police arrived and notified the medical examiner’s office. A short while later, the ME investigator arrived.

“How long has he been dead,” police asked.

The ME Investigator places pressure on Papa Smurf’s legs, which are still elevated in the air. “About twelve hours,” the investigator replies.

Why, after Papa Smurf was placed on his back, were his feet still elevated in the air? The answer: Rigor mortis. Rigor mortis is postmortem stiffening of the muscles. It begins immediately after death but typically isn’t noticeable until the first hour after death. Rigor mortis is generally at it’s peak with in the first twelve hours after death. After that, it begins to degrade and the muscles will eventually loosen up and become flaccid. 

Just like algor mortis, there are a number of factors to take into consideration when using it to estimate time of death.

 Here’s what you need to know:

 The onset of rigor mortis will increase if:

  • The decedent was exercising prior to death
  • Had a fever prior to death.
  • The environmental temperature for the scene of death was hot.

 Some drugs will delay the onset of rigor mortis. Other drugs will increase the onset of rigor mortis.

 The onset of rigor mortis will be delayed if:

  • The decedent died in a cold environment (outside in the snow)
  • If the decedent died from hypothermia (can be caused by environment as well as certain medications)

The investigator stood next to Papa Smurf, and began writing away in his notebook.  “Who moved the decedent?”

“How could you tell he was moved,” the police officer asked?

Rigor mortis is most useful to investigators because it will reveal if the decedent was moved prior to their arrival. If Smurfette arrived on scene and found Papa Smurf lying on the ground with his legs bent at the knee and elevated mid-air, it’s safe to assume someone else found Papa Smurf, moved him to the floor and left the scene. Most of the time when the decedent is in full rigor and is moved prior to police arrival it’s because a family member/friend or EMS moved the body from it’s original position to administer first aid.

 Next week I’ll conclude the Time of Death series with Livor mortis.

 If you have any questions on this material please leave a comment.

 Have a great week!

 Pilcrow & Dagger is now accepting submissions for the January and March 2015 issues. Please see our submissions page for more information.

Also, we are seeking writers to submit stories for the Pilcrow & Dagger Sunday newspaper. Stories must be fictitious, witty and good-natured. Please review the newspapers through the Sunday Newspaper category on the right side of the screen. Email inquiries regarding the newspaper to sham_farce@pilcrowdagger.com

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