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Showing posts from April, 2011

Z is for Zebrafish

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Well, we've made it to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Woohoo! I'm so happy to have met everyone and gained all my new followers. I hope to see everyone in the upcoming months. Keep writing! 


How do you plan to celebrate the completion of the challenge?


Today's poison is in the form of a fish. Usually found near coral reefs, so keep an eye out when snorkeling! My information came from Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers. The book provides scientific information, so I won’t attempt to paraphrase, but give you direct quotes.
Disclaimer: Do not attempt the method discussed. The information provided is meant for fiction writing only. Please keep it on the page.

Zebrafish or Scorpionfish (p. 143-144):
Scientific Name:  Scorpaena guttata, pterois volitans (lionfish), Synanceja horrida (devilfish)
Other: Stonefish, butterfly cod, turkeyfish, firefish, rockfish.
Toxicity (scale of 1-6; 1=almost non-toxic, 6=super toxic): 5
Form: The zebrafish is a beautiful variety with vivid c…

Prose from the Pros #11: Y is for Young

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Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life By Rida Johnson Young
AH! sweet mystery of life, at last I've found thee; Ah! I know at last the secret of it all; All the longing, striving, seeking, waiting, yearning, The burning hopes, the joys and idle tears that fall!
For 'tis love, and love alone, the world is seeking; And it's love, and love alone, that can reply; 'Tis the answer, ti's the end and all of living, For it is love alone that rules for aye!

X is for Xylocaine

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Today's poison makes it easy for the villain to apply it on his or her victim or switch it out for another ointment the victim uses daily. I got this poison from Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers. The book provides scientific information, so I won’t attempt to paraphrase, but give you direct quotes.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt the method discussed. The information provided is meant for fiction writing only. Please keep it on the page.

Xylocaine or Procaine and Lidocaine (p. 159-160):
Other: Marcaine, moncaine, nesacaine, nupercaine, duranest, sylocaine, carocaine, oracaine, unacaine, citanest, and novocaine. All are related to cocaine, and are synthetic version of the coca bush alkaloids.  
Toxicity (scale of 1-6; 1=almost non-toxic, 6=super toxic): 5
Form: colorless liquids or thick gels, the drugs are given by injection or used topically. As a general, it can be given intravenously.  
Effects and Symptoms: These drugs are rapidly distributed in the body and numbness occurs locally. …

V is for Victimology

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Today, I want to discuss a technique an investigator can employ to catch a perpetrator: victimology. Victimology is a field in forensic science, specifically it is the study of victim characteristics. The investigator looks at the victim’s personal, professional and social life to determine why they were selected at the specific location and time.
The show Criminal Minds dramatizes the lives of special agents with the Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI. The agents look over cases of serial killings and use similarities between victims to profile the unknown subject (unsub) in order to apprehend them. 
Victims fall into three categories: High-, medium- and low-risk. I used information from the HOW DUNIT series, Forensics: A Guide for Writers, pages 415-16, to explain the characteristics of the three victim categories.   

High-risk victims are those who are frequently in high-risk situations. Prostitutes, particularly those who “walk the streets,” obviously fall into this category.”
-nig…

T & U are for Trace Evidence and Undercover

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Well, I've slacked off over the weekend with my posts. I'm sure we've all experienced burn out, but I blame the Easter holiday for falling behind. Today I plan to give you information on trace evidence and working undercover to improve that mystery or thriller novel or short story you're working on. My information comes from the HOW DUNIT Series: Forensics and Police Procedure & Investigation



TRACE EVIDENCE:
What is it?
-Hair -Body Fluids oBlood oSaliva oTears oSemen -Fiber -Glass -Soil and Plants -Dust
Note: Not all trace evidence contains DNA, such as semen, saliva and tears. The evidence, when secreted, picks up epithelial cells containing the DNA.

Why is it important?
-Trace evidence places the suspect at the scene or in contact with the victim. -Trace evidence is very durable, lasting from months to years. -“It clings to clothing, hides in shoe sea

Prose from the Pros #10: S is for Sassoon

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Dreamers
Seigfried Sassoon SOLDIERS are citizens of death's gray land, 
 Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows. 
 In the great hour of destiny they stand, 
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows. 
 Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win 
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives. 
 Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin 
 They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives. I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats, 
 And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain, 
 Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats, 
 And mocked by hopeless longing to regain 
 Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats, 
 And going to the office in the train.

R is for Ridge Patterns

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This topic really excited me, but apparently my excitement was better spent in the warm sunshine today than writing up my post. The information on tonight’s topic comes from the Forensics: A Guide for Writers book.
Ok, so ridge patterns, or fingerprints, are used to identify people, suspects and now, teachers. Everyone has fingerprints that form in utero, but how many and where they are located gives them their uniqueness. Each fingerprint you have is independently unique. Even DNA sharing identical twins’ ridge patterns differ.
Certain nefarious individuals try to eliminate their ridge patterns by burning or shaving off the pads of their finger. Unfortunately for them, you can never permanently remove your fingerprints. They always come back after some healing time. 
I’m going to give you a quick break down of the three patterns, so take a look at your fingers while you read.
Arches (5% of population): “ridgelines that rise in the center to create a wave-like pattern.”


Loops (60% of p…

Q is for Quixotic

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kwik-ˈsä-tik
The adjective quixotic derives from the novel Don Quixote. It describes an impulsive, unpredictable, idealistic, extravagantly chivalrous person. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of how I would approach this topic today. Then, yesterday morning, an idea rushed into my head leaving me mentally occupied all day, ignoring all of my writing class obligations. (The process of balancing work, creation and a TV addiction takes longer than expected. Moving on…)
The personality appealed to me, and I couldn’t wait to attach it to a new character. My idea involves developing a female amateur sleuth with a quixotic personality living in Philadelphia. I’m still improving my characterization and story development, so an earlier post of mine discussing the infusion of a borrowed idea with my own experiences and perspectives lead me to make the connection with Don Quixote.
I plan to read the novel and loosely base the personalities and characters on those Miguel de Cervantes created. Th…

P is for Psychopath

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Good morning! Today’s post comes to you a bit late. I’m still recovering from my novel workshop on Saturday. Elizabeth Mosier, through Philadelphia Stories, guided 14 novelists through writing exercises and deconstructing our novel. A great learning opportunity, but, as my once broken coccyx will tell you, an uncomfortable and mind-numbing 8 hours spent sitting in a hard, wooden chair conceptualizing my novel.
I would like to apologize to all my visitors for the amount of time it’s taking me to respond to your comments. I love to read the goings on in your life and writing. Please bare with me.
Ok, on to another mystery/thriller topic. The past few posts dealt with methods a suspect might use to render someone weak or even kill them. So, who is this unknown suspect (unsub)?
According to Forensics: A Guide for Writers, a psychopath “tends to be self-centered (egocentric and narcissistic), manipulative, emotionally shallow, and devoid of empathy and remorse (p.407).”
They like to r…

O is for Oxybenzene

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Another poison today from Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers. It's incredible how many poisons we store under our roofs. Makes it easy for the villain to harm and/or murder a person. The book provides scientific information, so I won’t attempt to paraphrase, but give you direct quotes.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt the method discussed. The information provided is meant for fiction writing only. Please keep it on the page.


Oxybenzene or Phenol (p. 47-48):
Other: Carbolic acid, phenic acid, phenylic acid, phenyl hydroxide, hydroxybenzene, oxybenzene
Toxicity (scale of 1-6; 1=almost non-toxic, 6=super toxic): 5
Form: A white crystalline substance that turns pink or red if not completely pure, phenol has a burning taste, a distinct, aromatic, acrid odor, and is soluble in water. In addition to the household uses listed the notes below, it is used in production of fertilizers, paints, paint removers, textiles, drugs, and perfumes. All equally deadly are inhalation of mist or vapor; skin a…

N is for Nightshade

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Here's another poison from Book of Poisons: A Guide for Writers. Miranda Bliss featured this poison in the first novel, Cooking Up Murder, from her Cooking Class Mystery Series. The book provides scientific information, so I won’t attempt to paraphrase, but give you direct quotes.

Disclaimer: Do not attempt the method discussed. The information provided is meant for fiction writing only. Please keep it on the page.


Nightshade or Belladonna (p. 55-56):
Scientific Name:Atropa belladonna
Other: English nightshade, black nightshade, nightshade, banewort, deadly nightshade, dwale, sleeping nightshade, belladonna lily, Barbados lily, cape belladonna, devil’s cherries, naughty man’s cherries, divale, black cherry, devil’s herb, great morel, dwayberry lirio, naked lady lily, azuncena de Mejico.
Toxicity (scale of 1-6; 1=almost non-toxic, 6=super toxic): 6
Deadly Parts: All, especially roots, leaves, and berries.
Form: Reddish purple flowers appear June through July and the plants are sprinkle…

Prose from the Pros #9: M is for Monroe

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On the Train By Harriet Monroe
I
THE lady in front of me in the car, With little red coils close over her ears, Is talking with her friend; And the circle of ostrich foam around her hat, Curving over like a wave, Trembles with her little windy words. What she is saying, I wonder, That her feathers should tremble And the soft fur of her coat should slip down over her shoulders? Has her string of pearls been stolen, Or maybe her husband?
II
He is drunk, that man -- Drunk as a lord, a lord of the bibulous past.             [sic] He shouts wittily from his end of the car to the man in the corner; He bows to me with chivalrous apologies. He philosophizes, plays with the wisdom of the ages, Flings off his rags, Displays his naked soul -- Athletic, beautiful, grotesque. In the good time coming, When men drink no more, Shall we ever see a nude soul dancing Stript and free In the temple of his god?
II
She comes smiling into the car With irridescent bubbles of children. She blooms in the close plush seats Like a narcissus in …