Saturday, January 29, 2011

Forensics for the Mystery Buff (Writer or Reader) What, why, how and even where matter.

Forensics, the what, why, how, and sometimes where, encompasses many avenues of investigation, both for the writer and the professional charged with ferreting out the nitty-gritty of a death or a crime and it is crucial for a reader to understand why they should care.

It becomes a valuable tool for the mystery writer when his/her accidental or professional sleuth is showing a reader what happened. For instance: a victim’s blood—how does it look? Yes, I know red…but even that – bright red indicates new blood pumping from the heart—dark red filled with the detritus of cleaning the system and removing impurities, calories or what have you, but it’s also a sign of old blood in terms of when it was spilled. I’m not a pathologist or forensic genius but find the investigation process intriguing. What can we learn from a victim’s corpse, specifically related to the blood. 

Do you know how blood looks when it hits glass?  Could you tell at what angle it came from? The type of surface it hits makes as much difference as the pattern it creates. It is also possible to decide whether the perpetrator would possibly have been spattered by the victim’s blood by closely examining surround areas.

Spatter patterns, spatter type: was it impact spatter; beating, stabbings, gunshots, foreign object impacts the victim. Projection spatter; arterial bleeding, cast-off blood, and expirated, or exhaled blood. Combination spatters; impact and projection spatters, stab wound in the chest or neck = impact spatters. 

These patterns can actually, by shape and pattern of the drops within a blood spatter, reveal how the spatter was produced. 

Velocity of spatters tells the investigator even more. Low-velocity; object moving less than 5 feet per second. Mid velocity; objects moving between 5 and 100 feet per second. (Think of your favorite baseball pitcher how fast does his curve ball travel?) High velocity; object faster than 100 feet per second.  At high velocity the appearance of the blood spatter produces almost mist-like stains. 

A blunt object will show the blood spatter close to the victim because of the relatively slow speed of the force. A bullet on the other hand will definitely have a different, high velocity spatter. There will be a difference in the entrance (blowback) wound and the exit (forward spatter) wound pattern. 

Blood on glass, concrete, smooth painted wallboard, wherever the mystery writer has written the scene, evidence will leave telltale clues and a path for the writer to follow. 

Tess Gerritsen, Lisa Gardner’s detectives stories of mystery suspense sometimes go into a great deal of forensic detail as they investigate crimes in their novels. Patricia Cornwell’s  sleuth, Scarpetta, is a forensic pathologist. The word, Pathologist, suggests she digs for cause of death by examining the victim’s body.  Was it natural, accidental or murder?  She walks the read through what the body tells her. The reader will be very aware what a doctor can glean from the physical examination of one of his/her patients. Perhaps, not quite as much as the pathologist does, but certainly more than a casual observer of human anatomy does. While Cornwell doesn’t overload the reader with details, she adeptly weaves the information into the tale of discovery so that the reader can understand how she came to her conclusions.
Investigators can accurately reconstruct the crime scene from blood stains. Technology is such that even attempts to clean an area of blood stain evidence can be revealed via certain lighting devices.
An interesting case in point, the Sam Sheppard case. The bludgeoning death of his wife, blood evidence convicted him and years later blood evidence, supposedly, proved his innocence. If you are going to give your reader information, be sure you let them know the what, where, how and why of your conclusive evidence. You will have a happy reader or at least a satisfied reader who may, or may not, agree with your solution. F. Lee Bailey used his evidence in two different ways, so too, could you.
Forensic For Dummies by D.P. Lyle, MD answers a myriad of questions for the mystery writer. Blood related information is only one of them. There are many more books out there to deliver accurate forensic information for the writer and the internet has made finding them that much easier. Don’t trust your imagination get the facts straight from a reliable source. Your reader will follow you, because they know they can trust you to give them accurate details in your story.

Make your reading time absorbing. Pit your wits against the accidental sleuth, who may be in a job like yours. Subscribe to my free e-zine Mystery Readers and Working Writers, the free e-zine for mystery lovers. Get a free e-booklet “ A Nice Quiet Family” a very short/flash mystery

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Welcome to the Write Place, Writing Prompts to Writing Tips

Welcome to the Write Place
@ The Write Time for the Write Reason
Williams’ Winter Write-a-thon Workshop
“Writing Prompts to Writing Tips”
It’s Write For You!

February 1, 2011 Marks the first week of Writing Prompts to Writing Tips a new 10-week, online, writing course that will give you momentum and motivation to begin that long dreamed of career as a writer. [This is an open ended course that can begin at anytime and work at your own pace. The lessons will be delivered one a week after sign up.]
Billie A Williams multi-published, award-winning, and best-selling author of over two dozen mystery novels has taken parts of her six books on the art and craft of writing and turned them into a course to help you get started, or to continue to tweak, your writing career.
“Right from the Welcome letter to the sign off you are in for a busy work-a-thon or Write-a-thon as I like to call it.” Williams says.
 “Can you picture using bubble gum as a metaphor for writing,” Williams does. “Have you ever thought what the wide space between someone’s front teeth might mean for someone besides their orthodontist?” Williams does.
Here is a sample of the things you will be working on.
 Writing Wide, Exercises in Creative Writing (Williams’ first book on how to write in this series) provides some unique ideas to grow your mind from ordinary thinking to creative thinking in lessons one through four.
Lesson One: Wide Spaces Between the Front Teeth
Lesson Two: Writing Challenges—The idea—The first Sentence
Lesson Three: Wide Lines of Wide Ruled Paper
Lesson Four: Corralling the Wild Stallion in Your Writing (wimpy verbs, wasted Adverbs and  Adjectives,  and worn out words in cliché’s etc.)
Lesson Five: Bee Balm—the hook is from the book Spice Up Your Writing, Write to Entice
Lesson Six: Create Characters That Live and Breathe and Your Readers Love from the book
Lesson Seven: Style, What Will You Write? From the book is A Writer’s Vehicle, Henry Ford’s Way
Lesson Eight: Wide Brush Strokes from the book-- Writing Wider, More Exercises in Creative Writing
Lesson Nine: Unique Accidental Sleuths, The book title Whodunit? A Mystery Writer’s Primer
Lesson Ten: Is simply a Wrap up with 12 Steps for Writers. Conceive it, Believe it, Achieve it!

And there will be handouts available to further enhance the experience. For those who do better listening to the lessons, there will also be bonus audio recordings of the lessons available for members as well.
For more information go to

Best-Selling, Award winning Mystery/Suspense author Billie A Williams is a fiction, non-fiction and poetry author and has won numerous contests for her short/flash fiction stories, essays, and poetry. Currently she has over two dozen books published. She is published in various magazines such as the literary magazine Thema; Guide, a Magazine for Children, Novel, Writing Etc., and Women In The Arts newsletter as well as Sister’s in Crime, to list but a few.
Williams is currently a member of The Wisconsin Regional Writers Association (WRWA) Upper Peninsula Writers Association (UPWA)National Association of Women Writers (NAWW) Sister’s in Crime, Women in the Arts, Electronically Published Internet Connection (EPIC), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. (SCBWI) and Children’s Book Insider, and the Working Writers Coaches Club. Visit her at her websites or and sign up for her Newsletter  and/or  Billie-Williams-Mystery-Book-Of-The-Month-Book-Club on her website.
Find out more about me and the books I write at my website at
If you have any questions, send her an email at
Williams says she is more than willing to speak to your group – if you have an idea for a program you’d like presented, please do not hesitate to write, or email.
P O Box 134
Amberg, WI 54102

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 7....I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore Day

Today, January 7, 2011, is “I’m Not Going To take it Anymore Day. It reminds me of a little ditty Mae West used to say that won’t leave your mind once you hear it. (Don’t tell me your too young, that you’ve never heard of her?  Where have you been…anyway) 
Matter of fact, it even sounds a bit risqué as she starts to recite it in her deep mahogany voice. Picture her sultry expression and hear with the ear of a long ago fan.

            “I ain’t gonna do it for a dime no more
            It hurts my back and makes me sore.
            Fifteen cents is my regular price.
            Give me a quarter and I’ll do it twice.
            Shoe shine, mister?
Good for a smile isn't it? = )
Another famous line of hers was “Why don’t you come up and see me some time.”  But today is I’m Not Going to Take it An more Day so let me ask you…What won’t you put up with anymore?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January 4 is National Trivia Day, From Woolly Mammoth to Black Birds Dying.

January 4, 2011 is National Trivia Day.  From Algebra, to Wooly Mammoth, to black birds by the thousands dying over Beebe, Arkansas.
The instant oatmeal packets come with some great trivia on them. For instance; this morning’s oatmeal  packet said-- in 18th century France canes were in great vogue, and women as well as men carried them. Women’s canes often came equipped with perfume bottles, music boxes or romantic pictures…today I think they would come with mace.
My Algebra teacher, Ms. Knoblock, used to tell her class every morning, “If you didn’t have your oatmeal you cannot do Algebra or anything else that takes thinking.” Was she right?  I don’t know but I ate a lot of oatmeal that year. 
The woolly mammoth, extinct since the ice Age had tusks almost 16 feet long. Wow, that would put our new world elephant to shame wouldn’t it?
The world is full of trivia and mystery.
Why did over 100 dead fish wind up along the shores of the Arkansas River about 150 miles from the latest phenomena of over 5,000 red-winged black birds dropping out of the sky in and around Beebe, Arkansas.
It seems to be a nesting ground for red-wing black birds, where hundreds roost in the tree tops every year prompting city officials to use scare tactics to remove them or move them to less populated areas. Some reports indicate inches to knee deep piles of bird dropping fill areas where the birds roost. Yet, officials do not think these particular birds were poisoned or in any other way chased from their roosting places. They point, instead, to natural causes like lightning, high altitude hail, or perhaps the fireworks that were being held to celebrate the new year frightened them. Once in flight they could have been disoriented and plunged to their deaths, black birds do not see well at night.

And somewhere in Northern Wisconsin a whole battery of dusk to dawn lights went out all at once and returned to glow over the owner’s property minutes later. Separate circuit breakers, installed at various times over a number of years, it has never happened before…How, why, now? 
Mystery writers unite. What is your theory? How would you go about solving this one? Could you use it as grist for your story mill in a future story?
Billie A Williams is a multi-published, award-winning, best-selling author with more than two dozen mystery novels. As a freelance writer she has numerous articles, a whodunit column, and Interviews of other authors to her credit.  Visit her website to learn more.