More Forensics and Fiction by DP Lyle, MD…the things I read for FUN!

While I write romantic suspense (which some of them are a little heavier on the romance than the suspense) I have a bit of a morbid curiosity. While Researching for THE BUTTERFLY MURDERS, a novel I’m shopping around to agents and editors, I needed to understand how bodies decade…yep. So I did some research on-line, but also turned to DP Lyle, MD, a fabulous writer I met years ago at Thrillerfest who has some really great books for writers and found out what I needed to know…and more.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-11-40-09-amThen I pulled out one of his books titled MORE FORENSICS AND FICTION: Crime Writers’ Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered. He had me at Morbidly…

I love how the book is set up and in the Table of Contents are all the questions that are answered, so you can quickly read through those and then flip to the one you need answers to. Just a couple of questions that caught my attention are:

Can injected Alcohol kill an already intoxicated person?

Will snake venom injected into fruit cause death? (I need to use that one!)

Can stored blood be used to fake a death?

What cause of death is difficult to determine at autopsy?

Could DNA from spontaneously combusted vampire reveal their age? (Love that one!)

And so many more. Even if you’re not looking for something specific, just reading parts of this books can spark a million different ideas! I highly recommend it!

Read on people….

Get the first book in The New York State Trooper Series: IN TWO WEEKS for free!

#amwriting differently during #JeRoWriMo17 30K Challenge

I’m almost 20k into this challenge and feeling quite good about my progress. When I commit to writing, I can write fast. Very fast. Doesn’t mean it’s good, but I can crank out 30-50k a month, but I write SEMI-BLIND. I don’t mean literally, but while I consider myself more of a plotter than a pantser because the first thing I have before I start writing is the climatic scene. I have something to write. That means, I generally have a good idea of my character’s goals, but not always their motivation. That usually comes as I read.

That said, when I was writing Murder in Paradise Bay, I write to a climactic scene that when I got there I said, “huh, that doesn’t work”. It didn’t work because my bad guy wasn’t the bad guy, it was someone else, which threw me. But once I figured that out (and accepted it) it didn’t take me but a few days to fix the rest of the manuscript because all along my subconscious mind was dropping little seedlings through the manuscript.

I’m currently working on the 6th book of the New York State Trooper Series, tentatively titled: DEADLY SEDUCTION and I have no clear picture of the climatic scene, so that makes me a little nervous. Then again, there is no real mystery in this book, like there was in MURDER IN PARADISE BAY or some of my other work, where the killer should come as a bit of a surprise at the end. The bad guy DEADLY SEDUCTION is clearly defined in the beginning of the book because he’s seeking revenge on my hero. I have my short one sentence summary of the book: What if the woman you’re currently sleeping with was sent by the man who vowed revenge to ruin your career.

I know my heroine is being forced to do things in order to save her brother…or so she thinks. I have a step-outline that takes me through just past the middle of the book. I even have the epilogue perfectly visualized in my head…but not that damn climatic scene.

But I will keep plugging away because I know that scene will reveal itself as I keep pushing forward. So, onward I go…

Get the first book in The New York State Trooper Series: IN TWO WEEKS for free!

#Music and #Writing…Does it matter?

For this writer…YES!

Every book has a different feel, even when they are in the same world and have some of the same characters. The “feel” of the two main characters when I first start thinking about them and their story dictates the type of music I’ll be listening to when I write. If there was ever a muse for me…it would be music. I can certainly write without it, but the right music helps me dig deep into the character and story.

Once I know what music is going to drive the character, I pick a “station” on iTunes and then as I plot and develop characters in my spreadsheet, I weed out the songs that seem to scream to me they are the best fit for my people.

What is the most interesting to me is that each book has a couple “kick off” songs. Songs that always trigger (even years later) that story and every emotion I felt about the characters.

To Protect His OwnWhat shocks me sometimes is the drastic switch in types of music from one book to the next. When I was writing TO PROTECT HIS OWN, which comes out 20 March 2017 (you can pre-order your copy now, wink wink) the kick off songs were I Want Crazy by Hunter Hayes, Redneck Paradise by Kid Rock, and Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy by Big and Rich. Lots of other country songs on this list but those just scream to me Kenzie and Jake!

TO PROTECT HIS OWN is currently going through edits, so while I wait to get them back, I’ve dived into my next book in the NY STATE TROOPER SERIES, which is tentatively titled THE PAY BACK GAME. Josh and Delaney are both approximately 29. Josh is a State Trooper who just a year ago had five bullets pumped into his chest by the woman he’d been sleeping with. That sucks. But he was undercover and thought the wife of the man he was to bring down was terrified and going to help him…only she didn’t…but she died in the car bomb that was meant for Josh. This is all backstory, FYI. Anywho, Josh opts for a less exciting post and moves to Lake George. The man he was supposed to bring down only did a little time for a nothing crime and now is out, so when Delaney shows up and immediately flirts with him and she’s from the city where he’d been nearly killed…he’s a tad suspicious. And rightfully so since Delaney was sent there to destroy Josh…only Delaney is being forced to because if she doesn’t, the bad guy will kill her brother…The story begins where Josh and Delaney meet for the first time. I’m only 10k words into the story, but its fleshing out nicely.

The music for THE PAY BACK GAME is very different from the last book. Kick off songs are: Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Run the World (Girls) by Beyoncé, Bye Bye Bye by NSYNC (yeah, I know must be a Timberlake thing) and then oddly, Gold Digger by Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx. I found a great Apple Music station for this book, which is the Trolls Station. Sometimes I must hit the “skip this song” button, but I find myself listing songs like F.A.M.E by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, which is like WTF? That’s the kind of music I used to tell my boys to shut off or turn it way down because I can’t stand listening to it! My husband sent me a text the other day asking me to dial down the screaming. He’s not a fan of country, but he’s not a fan of this music either and wants to know when I’m going to write a book where my muse consists of Genesis, Styx, Eric Clapton, CCR and the like…

What kind of music do you listen to when you write and why?

Rochester, New York…Dangerous city…or great place to raise a family…

I just finished a rewrite of a draft of a book titled: The Butterfly Murders, which I set in Rochester, New York, which has always ranked high in most dangerous cities in New York State.

Grunge rubber stamp with name of Rochester, New YorkRochester is the 7th largest community in the state with a population of 209,802 (this does not include the surrounding areas (like the suburb that I live in).

I found this statement at onlyinyourstate.com: “…in Rochester you’ll only be safer than 6% of our other cities in the United States. The largest city included in our list, your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime here are just 1 in 119. The city also has a high number of reported rapes, murders and cases of arson.”

For years, it has fascinated me that so many people say (including myself) that Rochester is such a great place to raise a family, I mean, I did raise mine there…Forbes actually rated Rochester in 2010 as the third-best place to raise a family. Yet, the city is considered one of the more dangerous cities…

Roadsnacks.net ranks Rochester #3 of the most dangerous cities just behind Buffalo and Niagra Falls.

I95rock.com has Rochester ranked at #4, stating that: “The chance of being a victim is 1 in 16…” That statistic isn’t just for violent crimes, but all crimes…

One site that I found very interesting regarding Rochester is the neighborhoodscout.com. The crime index for Rochester is a 7, which means it’s only safer than 7% of all cities in the U.S. Ouch!

Some of the more notable murderers in Rochester were the Alphabet Murders, which a movie was made about and the killer was never caught. Then there was Arthur Shawcross, who was nicknamed The Genesee River Killer.

The most memorable for me was the Mark Christie, who killed a 4 year-old girl named Kali Ann Poulton in 1994. It is a heart-breaking story. My daughter was just 3 years old when it happened.

We also had some interesting Mob murders in Rochester. Salvatore Gingello, Jake Russo, Thomas Didio, Vincent (Jimmy the Hammer) Massaro, and Dominic Chirico…

So, is Rochester dangerous? Or a great place to raise a family?

Where is your #happy place?

I’ve lived almost my entire life in Rochester, NY. I was actually born there. Moved to Wilton, CT when I was 1 until I was 3 where we moved to Albany, NY where I lived until I was 14. I spent every summer in Lake George, NY until I was 18ish, but lived in Rochester, NY from 14 to present…(almost 51).

I used to listen to people talk about season depression and I thought year right, winter is great. My husband and I were avid snow skiers by winter and water skiers by summer. We had a place on Owasco Lake for about 28 years and spent a good 10 winters skiing as much as we could at Bristol Mountain. I had my kids on skis/snowboards by the time they were 2 (on a harness…I had wicked strong legs snowplowing the whole way down). When number #2 kid decided he wanted to play hockey, it put a damper in our winter skiing. But in true Talty form, we switched gears and the ENTIRE family gook up hockey. Yep.

From there I spent a good 12 years or so in hockey rinks almost EVERY DAY! Weekends were nuts, traveling with 3 different hockey teams across two countries. Who needs sunshine? Who needs heat? I joked that at least I didn’t have to deal with the weather at like football, soccer, or lacrosse in Rochester. I just knew I was going to cold. Its why then invented UGG boots, just saying.

Then, one day, my kids grew up…WTF? Why!? We were having so much fun…

Now, you’re all asking what does this have to do with my happy place? Because being able to reach your happy place, wherever that is, helps changes in life go a little easier…a little smoother…

I’m so insanely thrilled and proud of my children. They are all succeeding in life. They are healthy, happy, and making their own ways.

That said, when you spend 25 years with your children as the center of your universe, the transition, though gradual as they left over the course of 6 years, kind of sucker punches you and you’re left with your spouse…har har.

img_2840Anyway, as a kid, whenever I was feeling sad, or blue, I always went for the water. If it was winter, I’d day dream about being at the lake. Perhaps this is why ALL my books are set near a lake, or have scenes at the lake. I’m obsessed with water. Its my happy place. I’ve always been able to give myself a few months enjoying the water. I’m lucky…very lucky…so for the next few months, this is the few from my office. The Ocean is just past this little stretch of water and I went there this morning to walk  and watch the sun rise. As I was walking, I realized just how much more upbeat I had become over night. I felt more positive. Happy.

Its odd, because during the summer, at home, I’m very happy. My husband and I have lived in the same house since 1992 and have intention of moving anytime soon…just visiting places that allow me to be near my happy place and hubby to be near his…(the golf course, a different kind of beach!).

img_2835 img_2836 img_2837 img_2838

#Death by #Rattlesnake?

People always ask me where I get my ideas from for my villains or the things my villains do to my hero and heroine. My answer is always the same…from real life.

One way the villain tries to injure the hero and heroine in To Protect His Own is by using rattlesnakes. Not a very effective way to try to kill someone, but its been tried before…

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-2-39-52-pmIn 1935, Robert James wanted to kill his wife in a way that would be viewed as an accident. This is actually a very sad, but comedic murder. Robert’s wife Mary was pregnant, but agreed to have an illegal abortion. One should note that it was believed that Robert drowned one of his previous wives. Anyway, she was told she had to be blindfolded then the Robert’s hired hand stuck Mary’s foot in a box with a rattlesnake, that bit her…but she didn’t die. So Robert had to drown her then left her in his lily pond in the garden. The death was originally considered a suicide by drowning, but after an anonymous letter Mary’s corpse was exhumed and traces of the rattlesnakes venom had been discovered. Robert was lated executed for his crime.

So there you have it…death by rattlesnake…

Fun Television equals #LethalWeapon

I’ve always been a big fan of action movies with a sense of humor. Beverly Hills Cops, Die Hard, Red, Lethal Weapon (the movie) are just a few that I could watch over and over again, never getting tired of them.

I was very excited to start to watching the show Lethal Weapon, based on the movie. First, I think the casting of the show was excellent. Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford have great chemistry and the rest of cast complement them quite well.

I really enjoy the show. I think it has just the right blend of action, humor, and serious material that I find myself wanting to spend more time with these characters, perhaps more so than in the movies, wishing I had saved up the first season so I could binge and not have to wait another week for a new episode.

This morning, I watched the latest episode and I won’t ruin it for you, but watching the character arc for Riggs is interesting and this episode, the ending of the episode, was very insightful into this complex man who struggles with day to day living. This show has me on the edge of my seat, laughing, and crying all in less than an hour. It really is a fun show. It might not be the best show on TV, but it is one of my favorites.