Friday, October 29, 2010

So You Think You Can Write


So You Think You Can Write Event Allows Aspiring Writers To Spend A Week With More Than 50 Harlequin Editors TORONTO, October 27, 2010 – Harlequin Enterprises Limited (, a global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, is hosting a five-day So You Think You Can Write event, from November 1 – 5, 2010, to discover aspiring new authors. So You Think You Can Write allows hopeful novelists to spend an entire working week with more than 50 Harlequin editors and USA TODAY bestselling authors through social-media tools such as blogs, podcasts, webinars, community chats, community discussions and Twitter. Harlequin editors believe that by engaging unpublished writers, explaining the tremendous appeal of the romance genre and offering professional insights into crafting the perfect story, they can help promising young novelists hone their skills and get started on the path to publication. It’s incumbent upon Harlequin to seek out fresh voices,” said Loriana Sacilotto, Executive Vice President, Global Editorial. “Talented writers can bring with them an exciting new perspective, contributing to the evolution of the genre. So You Think You Can Write is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring authors and Harlequin editors because you never know where you might find the next Nora Roberts, Susan Mallery, Heather Graham or Nalini Singh.” Together with writing tips and tools, So You Think You Can Write also offers aspiring authors virtual “face” time with 50 editors who may want to buy their books, community discussions with USA TODAY bestselling authors, live chat with editors in the Harlequin community, podcasts with editors and authors, webinars with editors, daily challenges to test writing skills and a special in-box for unpublished writers to submit their manuscripts directly to Harlequin editors. A complete schedule of So You Think You Can Write events follows….

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rocky Mount North Carolina On Edge As 9 Women Vanish

From The Huffington Post,

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — They spent their nights jumping in and out of strange cars, trolling otherwise empty streets lined with decaying storefronts and boarded-up homes. Many sold sex to support drug habits or children left in the care of worried, hardworking grandmothers.

Even when they were picked up for drugs or prostitution, nights in jail looming, they called home to let their families know they were OK. Then, one by one, the calls stopped.

Since 2005, nine women who lived at the edges of the poor community in this small North Carolina city have disappeared. Six bodies were found along rural roads just a few miles outside town, most so decomposed that investigators could not tell how they died. At least one of the women was strangled, and all the deaths have been classified as homicides. Three women are still missing.

Police will not say whether they suspect a serial killer, but people in the community about 60 miles northeast of Raleigh do, and they're impatient with law enforcement efforts to investigate the slayings.

After the latest body – that of 31-year-old Jarneice Hargrove – was found in June behind a burnt-out house that was once a crack den, local law enforcement and state police formed a task force. In July, the FBI got involved.But friends and family say it didn't happen soon enough.

"We got someone out here that's snatching up females," said Stephanie Jones, a 28-year-old nursing student. "I mean, next person could be your grandmother, it could be me, it could be my mother, it could be my daughter."

Jones, who knew two of the victims, has founded a group that is raising money to publicize the slayings and search for those still missing. She says the cases are being swept under the rug because of the victims' lifestyles.

The lead investigator, Sheriff James Knight, said he cannot comment.

Rumors swirl about the identity of the killer, if there is just one. Some say he is an ex-military man or an ex-police officer because he leaves no evidence. Others believe he is exacting revenge on local women after contracting HIV from a prostitute.

Forensic psychologist Dr. Michael Teague said the killings are probably the work of one person.

"You're talking about a man who didn't finish high school, probably doesn't have a regular job, probably not married or in a stable relationship," he said.
Vivian Lord, chairwoman of the criminal justice department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said that if one killer is responsible, he is likely trying to cleanse the world of prostitutes or deliberately picking victims he knows won't be missed.

If it's the latter, he chose wrong when he killed Ernestine Battle. Her sister, Tynatta James, 64, remembers the February 2008 day the family reported Battle missing. It had been less than 48 hours since they last heard from the 50-year-old, but she always checked in, even from jail.

"We knew something wasn't right because she hadn't called," James said.
A month later, a man putting up a wire fence around his property down a rural stretch of road outside town found a badly decomposed body. The bodies of two other victims were found in the same area in 2007 and 2009.

In May, a DNA test identified the remains as Battle's. She was wearing only her underwear and police told James she was probably strangled, but they couldn't be sure because animals had dragged away a small throat bone that typically breaks when someone is killed that way.

"I'm still frustrated," James said. "I didn't really feel like they were doing all they could. I just feel like they recently started to get involved in the cases after the last lady."

For Alecia Johnson, the killings were a wake-up call. She knew most of the women: They all walked the streets of Rocky Mount together. She said she didn't wait for police to catch a killer. She stopped after the body of the first woman, 29-year-old Melody Wiggins, was found dumped in the woods in 2005.

"I used to walk these streets and jump in and out of cars. But then when that first girl Melody got killed I stopped that because I knew he would kill another," said Johnson, 41. "I hate for that to happen to her, but it probably saved my life. I have five babies."

Counting the names on one hand, she added, "There's probably five or six girls left around here that will jump in and out of cars. He really did kill the whole neighborhood."

Jones' group has raised enough money to post billboards with the faces of the missing and slain women. Now she is raising more to organize search teams for those whose bodies have not been found.

Juray Tucker, the mother of 37-year-old Yolanda Lancaster, missing since February, said she wants to help with fundraising but doesn't get much time now that she has to care for her daughter's children.

"Every day, every minute, every hour, I'm worried," she said. "It's constant on my mind and there ain't nothing I can do, ain't nothing I can do."

Friday, October 22, 2010

How about a short story?

For a change of pace, here's one that posted to an ezine, first serial rights, many years ago. It's now mine to print, so enjoy.


He’s done it to me for the last time. Now he’s going to pay.
I threw my briefcase on my desk and sat down in disgust. The guy gives new meaning to the words control freak.
Why do I let him get by with it?
I’m a professional. Why, I’ve been in healthcare far longer than he, know the clients better, and have better communication skills. Trouble is, he has the job. And since Becky and I, the two people who work for him, were raised with a real work ethic, no one knows the way he manipulates us and leaves us to complete his work.
I turned to my ancient, jumping computer screen, blankly staring at the piece I’d completed last night. Take for instance this latest article. He sprang it on me at four forty-five yesterday. Told me it had to be done for a nine-thirty presentation this morning. I’d stayed at work until eight finishing it, then left it on his chair. At eight-forty-five today, he called to say he didn’t have time to come pick it up, despite the fact he lives a mile away. So, could I please bring it downtown?
Steamed, I’d done as he said, only to find him absent at the meeting. Thirty minutes later he entered and took the article. “Thanks. Looks like I made it just before my presentation.”
I jumped up and paced the room. No one on the Board would believe his average work day. Fact is if someone had told me before I came to work here, I wouldn’t have believed it either. Jack’s day starts at eleven-thirty, barring no scheduled meeting, which is rare since he normally schedules them. Of course, during the abbreviated six-hour workday, he takes an average two-and-a-half-hour lunch break and also schedules his haircuts and massages. One massage a week, one haircut every three. Then there’re the errands. Dry cleaners, grocery shopping, taking friends to the airport. He claims he comes in late because he works for hours after the rest of us leave. But the truth is he only stays a half hour, maybe an hour longer. That is, if he doesn’t leave before we do. If he sticks around, he does it so he could snoop. That I know. Almost every morning the evidence of his sitting in my office from the night before is obvious. My computer screen isn’t on the same file where I left it. Candy’s missing from my front desk drawer. Sometimes the wrappers aren’t even discarded but thrown on top of my blotter.
“How do you want to kill him this time, Roger?” Becky asked from the doorway. “Electrocution or poisoning?”
“Both are far too humane.” I slammed my fist against the wall, and immediately shook my throbbing knuckles. “I’d probably end up killing myself if I tried to murder him.”
“But just think how relieved you’d be. How peaceful the office would become.” She sighed. “I swear I’d do it if I wouldn’t get caught and my conscience would allow it.”
“It’s tempting.” I rubbed the back of my neck. “You know, I don’t think my conscience would even mind. Not anymore. The truth is he driving me insane. Any jury would say it was a justifiable homicide.”
“True.” Becky laughed as she turned to leave. “If only.”
“If only.”

I jumped as my computer started to sputter and spark. “Not again!” I marched into Ruley’s office. “Jack, I can’t work on that damned computer anymore. It’s bad enough the company bought it eight years ago, and it has the memory of an ant. Now the thing is sparking.”
“Stop exaggerating,” he said as he balanced his checkbook. “A chip may be getting ready to go, and when it does, we’ll replace it.” He finally glanced up, one eyebrow raised. “Not until.”
“How do you expect me to get my work done?” I asked, throwing my arms wide in total frustration.
“Use Becky’s computer.” He looked back down at his checkbook.
“She’s using it herself.” I put my hands on my hips and groaned.
“You do have a flair for the dramatic, Roger.” He shook his head. “Don’t ask me about this issue anymore. Not until the chip blows.”
“Right.” I stomped out of my office and strode to the front reception area and poked my head into Becky’s office. “I’m going outside for a minute. Clear out the cobwebs.”
“And the steam?” She bit her lower lip to keep from laughing.
“This is not a joking matter. My mental health is at risk.”
“I know, Roger. Sorry. I just have to joke about it so I don’t cry.”
“Got that right.”
When I re-entered the office, Jack was hovering over Becky’s shoulders, his hands on the back of her chair. “No, that’s not the file. You saved the file! Where the hell is it?”
Becky’s arms quivered. “Jack, that document was written before I started to work here.”
“Well, Sherrill had to tell you where it was.” He looked up at me, and smirked. “Why is it no one around here can remember anything? Do I have to do everyone’s work for them?”
I grabbed the doorframe in a white-knuckled death grip. “Becky and I will find the file, Jack. Go sit down. It’ll just take a few minutes I’m sure.”
“Better not take longer than that, Roger.” He looked at his watch. “I’m supposed to join friends for drinks and dinner at six, and first I have to go home and change.” He straightened his shoulders and walked past me, brushing my side as he did.
I winced at his mere touch. Walking over to Becky, I patted her hand. “Let’s find the file and then scoot.”
She nodded, tears in her eyes. “You know what I said about conscience keeping me from killing him?”
“Not anymore.”

I’d stayed awake almost the whole night, replaying what Becky’d said over and over. How could we murder him? There had to be a way to do it and not be caught. But how? Strangulation was out. He wasn’t likely to choke on a wire like in the movies. At least not in the office. A wet floor might cause him to break a limb, but most likely wouldn’t cause death. Bullets and knives were a little too obvious.
Suddenly my eyes flew open, and I sat up in bed. My computer. That was the ticket. . . .
The next morning I whistled on my way to work. My step was lighter than normal when I entered my office. Even when I saw the porn website up on my computer and more wrappers than normal on the blotter, it didn’t matter. Not after tonight. I smiled as I sat down. I picked up the phone and dialed the owner of the company chuckling until she answered.
“Hi, Ann. I just wanted to let you know that Jack has asked me to price computers. This one of mine is sparking. I’m afraid it might short out on me any time.” I listened for her response.
“Cost? Oh, no problem. Jack built it into the budget.”
I smiled. “I’ll call you tomorrow and tell you what he decided.” I hung up and leaned back in my chair with my hands crossed behind my head.
“Hi, Jack.” Becky smiled broadly as she stood in the doorway, a paper bag in one hand, and a single cookie wrapped in the other.
“Well, you must have had a great night’s sleep. I thought after yesterday you’d still be stewing.”
“Oh no.” She shook her head. “That was yesterday. This is today. I just have faith things will get better.”
“Me too.” I sighed. “What a difference a day makes.”

Thankfully, Jack was out of the office when I was ready to leave, but I knew he’d be back tonight. His house keys were still on his desk. I waited to prepare everything until Becky left, and sure enough, she looked into the office shortly after five.
“I’m going now, Roger.” She smiled, and I swear she looked younger than she had in years. “By the way, don’t touch that cookie I put in the break room. Not that you would. It’s a test to see how greedy Jack is. I told him not to eat it.” She laughed. I put cat food in the middle. These little tricks make life a bit more bearable.”
I laughed. “Gotcha.” I sat quietly in my chair until I heard the front door close behind her.
I opened my briefcase quickly and removed a screwdriver, and began to perform surgery on my computer.

Three days later I stood next to Jack’s casket and shook his sister’s hand. “Sorry about your brother Mrs. Garner. That was an awful accident he had.”
She smiled weakly. “Thank you, Roger. I know he was a difficult man, but he was my brother.”
“He’s in a peaceful place now,” Becky said, as she patted the woman on her back. “Who would have thought he’d have a heart attack?”
“And then get electrocuted,” I added. We looked at each other. “Rotten luck.”
Mrs. Garner sighed. “I told him to watch all that fatty food.”
I shook my head. “Who knows what’ll kill you these days?”
We walked away from her and back towards my waiting car. “Becky?”
“Did you know the police found crumbs on my keyboard?”
“No kidding? It just gets weirder and weirder.” She stretched. “I wonder how that frayed wire shook lose from your CPU?”
“Got me. But you have to admit I warned him.”
“That you did,” she agreed. “And so did I.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mystery motive of the alleged multi-state serial stabber

Outside at night—alone
The knife attacks and killings attributed to a serial stabber, sometimes referred to as the "Flint serial killer," are believed to have begun on May 24, 2010, a Monday, in Flint, Mich. On that date, David Dwayne Motley, 31, was killed in an attack at approximately 6 a.m. on Leith Street and North Dexter Street. Police found his body in a residential yard a short time later, after receiving a call about "a man down." Motley had been stabbed repeatedly and died at the scene.

All of the violent attacks appear to have been committed on unsuspecting victims, and all of the victims seem to have been strangers to the perpetrator. The victims, as far as police have so far announced, were mostly men with dark skin. Police are uncertain, though, whether the attacks were racially motivated or the victims picked out at random. Flint's population is predominantly black, so some authorities do not believe that the victims were chosen because of their race. Many of the surviving victims' names have not been released, some at their own request.

The stabber's victims were outside at night, alone, and some were approached by their attacker using the ruse of either needing directions or help with a vehicle that had broken down. After gaining a victim's confidence, according to Flint police lieutenant T.P. Johnson, the attacker would then pull a knife and attack.
"A knife is a very personal weapon," Johnson added. "To stab somebody repeatedly, there has to be some rage going on."

The victims injured or killed in the attacks ranged in age from as young as 15 to as old as 67. Although detectives had been investigating the violent crimes from the time they began, it would be more than two months before the pattern of the attacks became apparent to them.

The second fatal attack came nearly a month later, on June 21, 2010—also a Monday—when Emmanuel Muhammad, 59, was knifed approximately 2:00 a.m. on Wood Street and Avenue B in Flint. His body was found a short time later; police had few clues and no suspects. At first, there was little to suggest that Motley's and Muhammad's deaths were linked, and at that time there was no evidence that a serial killer was at work.

The serial killings continued into other states over a three-month period.
The rest of this story can be read at:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Murder in Lynchburg, Virginia 1973

It happened in early spring, the actual murder occuring just inside the brick walls of what was then Randolph-Macon Woman's College. Cynthia Hellman, the daughter of the Hellman Mayonnaise millionaire was found dead with her face up against a steam pipe outside the science building. Many years ago I wrote a partial write-up of the events pieced from court documents. It's not perfect writing, folks, as it was many years ago, but it depicts the events from that evening. Interestingly enough, Douglas Wilder, later elected first African American governor of Virginia, was a defense attorney in this case.

Stan stood on his front porch and stared into space. Nothing had worked out the way he planned. His wife and kids were in New Jersey, and he was here. The job at the Post Office hadn’t worked out. He had kept the job at Vaughan’s Chevrolet longer. But, after all, he had been a Machinist in the Air Force. Even when he tried to go back to school, they had discriminated against him. He knew he deserved better grades than they had given him.

Now, standing on the porch, he knew it wasn’t his fault. It was all of those narrow-minded small-town middle-class Southern Baptist bigots that had caused everything. He needed a way to get his vengeance. Even his own family didn’t understand him. They had signed involuntary committal papers twice, sending him away to Central State for evaluation. Thank God the professionals realized the truth: he wasn’t crazy.

No one spent enough time to try to get to know him. His religion was all he had. That, and the little voice that had begun to come to him at dusk. “Go, ahead. Do it. Show her. Show them. You owe it to yourself.” The time would come soon. He could feel it. . .
He had known it the minute he saw her. There was another one of the bitches! Stan saw the girl with long auburn curls, clad simply in her red and black shirt, slacks, and clogs, enter the 7-11. They were always on his street - laughing - running around in sheets - going to the Dahlia for their stupid initiations. They were always making fun of him, telling him not to go into the Cellar or some redneck would beat him up! He was 6’ 4”, a sturdy 198 pounds - a lean, mean fighting machine! He had nicknamed himself “Big Stan,” and sooner or later he’d enter the Dahlia and show those assholes just who they were dealing with.

But first he had to stop the pointing fingers, the laughs, the stuck-up,rich Randy-Mac bitches. He had tried once up at old Ruffner School. Another blond-haired wench was trying to do her duty by helping out the “poor little black kids.” She didn’t know anything about his people. She didn’t know anything about his street. Why couldn’t they all stay away? If that damn Dahlia wasn’t there, they wouldn’t be infringing on his territory.

The Dahlia didn’t even encourage men of his color to come in anymore the way he used to when he was 18. And the new owner was catering to the college kids, setting up a band downstairs every Wednesday night, Wonderful Wednesday for the Randy-Mac girls, and also on weekends.

Well, he had spotted the little red-headed high-and-mighty, and this one was going to pay!

Standaly decided the best way to follow her was to go behind the 7-11, walk down Cleveland Avenue, and wait for her next to the Lexington Apartments. She wouldn’t make it past Randee’s Restaurant! Then he would show her how strong he was--prove to her that he couldn’t be laughed at! The rest of them would leave him and Bedford Avenue alone. He would see to it.

Poised at the top of Elmwood Avenue, Standaly looked up at the tower of St. John’s Church. Cars were milling around this Sunday evening, but no one really noticed him. He felt secure, as he blended with the twilight. But the bitch stood out like a neon light with her long auburn hair. He saw her round the corner from Bedford Avenue and approach his hiding place....

Cynthia walked slowly around the corner of Bedford. The air was slightly cool and clean, the promise of spring on its breath. The day had been beautiful, and she really didn’t mind walking all the way down to the 7-11. King’s Grocery Store always closed early on Sunday evenings, so if she wanted some munchies, she had to walk. All was very quiet, except for a few strains of organ music from the church down the block. All of the stores were closed on the Avenue on Sundays. After all, she was in the middle of the Bible Belt! It seemed like another planet compared to her hometown of Houston, Texas.

Out of the corner of her eye Cynthia saw a large fleeting shadow. She increased her step, but the clogs were cumbersome for fast walking--or running. She knew someone was watching her, but where? As she crossed to the parking lot next to Pearson’s Drug, she saw a black man cross from the bushes. She was sure she was being followed.

Cynthia tried to run, but the shoes wouldn’t let her. She slipped them off and tucked them under her arm, trying to hold onto her bag in the other hand. He was gaining on her. She began to sprint in her stocking-feet. Maybe the barber was in his shop around the corner. The campus was so close! Surely she could make it.

Charlie walked through the fragrant early evening dew around the corner of East Hall and started down the path to construction site for the new Physical Education Building. The air was humid, but cooling down after another record-breaking day of Lynchburg weather. Charlie took his job with the Pinkerton Agency very seriously. Sometimes it was fun. All of the college students had adopted him. He was the campus Teddy Bear, kind of chubby, but still very competent. They called all of the guards Pinkies, but he was different. Of course, he stretched the rules for some of them, helping them back into the dorms after closing hours, holding them up as they weaved back from the Pines after an evening of over-imbibing an yet another UVa fraternity party. He’d waited for more than one student while she puked her brains out, and then guided her back to the entrance of her dorm.

Tonight was a typical quiet Sunday evening. Most of the girls had returned from their roll down the road to the University of Virginia or to Washington & Lee. His walkie-talkie went off, paging him that there was a reported scream from down in the general vacinity of Martin Science Building. Charlie turned around and retraced his steps from behind East and crossed between the overhead trolley that held East and Main together.

As he walked down the hill next to the well-manicured lawn of front campus, he heard nothing but a still calm, and he felt the enveloping heavy fog which enshrouded the overhead lights, causing an aurora of color above.
The warm spring day became eerie night.

As he approached Martin, he felt an inexplanatory shiver shoot up his spine. He had never been afraid of exploring this campus before. How silly! He walked in front of the building, circling its right border into the naturally wooded area next to the school’s brick wall which bordered Norfolk Avenue.

The air began to fall heavier around his shoulders. He felt like a dead weight, an unwelcome demon, had settled upon him. Still no noises confronted him as made his way behind the science building. He thought he saw a figure across the wall. But the wall was too high to view the facing street.

Charlie continued on toward the pride and joy of Martin, the botanical section complete with a cross-section of flora and fauna inside its protective greenhouse. Still there were no signs of trouble. He stepped next to the greenhouse, just avoiding a small foot, partially obscured by the greenery. The body was small, stockings obliterated at the toes, almost flapping on the ankles. And the leg showed signs of beatings, bruises and mud up the slightly hiked pants leg.

Charlie ran to her head, and grabbed for a pulse. Could he save her? Was she okay? He prepared to undertake CPR, grabbed her head, pulled her toward him. Her head--her face--were next to the steam pipe from the greenhouse. She--didn’t have a face! Charlie fell to his knees and wept.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Serial Killer - Eight deaths in Louisiana small town. - Topix

They say truth is stranger than fiction. This seems to the truth on a regular basis. So, those people who don't believe the novels that speak about serial killers in small towns, listen up. Can murder and mayhem descend on the same town over and over again? You betcha'. I'll bring you stories that make you a believer.

Serial Killer - Eight deaths in Louisiana small town. - Topix