Posts Tagged ‘fiction writing’
Posted by Writing PIs on January 13, 2012
Writer’s Question: My PI is doing surveillance at night, in a vehicle, in the winter (temperature about 30 degrees). My research has turned up some inventive ways for him to keep warm and to keep the windows clear of fog. I’m wondering what you might suggest in addition to appropriate clothing, warm beverages, etc. One of the simplest things I read for warmth was an electric blanket, plugged into the lighter with an AC adapter. I saw mention of heat-generating packets, too.
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Well, we watch how much we drink (whether it’s water in hot weather or warm beverages in cold weather) because it can really hinder a surveillance if you need to go to the bathroom all the time. Yes, there are “wide-mouthed cups” that PIs often take with them on surveillances, but those can be a hassle to use (for women anyway) and what if you fill your cup and need another? Sorry to be so graphic, but it’s the reality of longer surveillances, so think about this as you write your surveillance scenes.
What else about surveillances at night during the winter? Hunters’ hand-warmers and foot-warmers are handy (and they don’t cause moisture). We’ve tried not to turn on the heater unless it’s absolutely necessary (a dead giveaway if a sitting car suddenly starts running). Some PIs use portable heaters that plug into the AC adaptor. Some cars have heated seats (a turn of the ignition, without turning the engine on, can heat the seat from 85 degrees+).
Those are a few ideas.
Writer’s Question: I was wondering about the windows fogging during winter. One article I read said a small fan unit, also plugged into the lighter, can keep windows clear. Another said a very small electric heater will also keep the windshield from frosting over.
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Those sound good. Once, early in our business, we were conducting an all-night surveillance during a chilly spell in December and Colleen decided to talk about plotting a story…Shaun asked her to stop talking because she was fogging up the windows. True story! So if you’re with a PI partner, don’t talk too much Or maybe use something along those lines for a humorous scene.
New review of The Zen Manby Gerald So: “an homage and update of Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles, a well-paced mix of banter, action, and New Age philosophizing.” .99 through January 18 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: Colleen Collins, fiction writing, Kindle mystery books, Nook mystery books, private investigator tips, Smashwords mystery books, surveillance, The Zen Man, writers tips | Comments Off
Posted by Writing PIs on November 6, 2011
Today we’re answering writers’ questions about private forensic labs.
Writer’s Question: Where can one find these forensic labs?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Personally, we network with other private investigators, lawyers, addiction treatment personnel, even coroners about good DEA-approved private forensic toxicology labs. We searched to see if there’s a list of these labs online and found the following:http://home.lightspeed.net/~abarbour/labs.htm
Writer’s Question: Are ALL of them available to civilians?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:In the link above, the specification to be on the list requires that the lab routinely performs tests for private as well as public agencies.
Writer’s Question: How expensive is it?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:In our personal experience (working with civilian client-cases that require chemical analytics), the cost has been about $250 per sample for drug testing. Urine testing is between $20-$150. Hair sample testing in the $120 range. If you’re needing more specific info for a story, contact a local lab and ask their prices (our experience has been that lab personnel are very accessible and can clearly explain testing methods).
Writer’s Question: What if a civilian suspected a poisoning was occurring and wanted to find out?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:Funny you should ask. We actually had a private lab chemist chat with us about a case she recently had that came into her office…a mother suspected her daughter was poisoning her (chemicals into a substance…we forget exactly what this substance was, but we think the daughter was putting something into her mother’s nightly glass of wine). The chemist at the lab told us the mother was right — they had found toxic chemicals in the sample the mother had brought into the lab.
Writer’s Question: What is the process? What paperwork would the PI/civilian have to complete? Does the lab call/mail results? How long (if they aren’t very busy)?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: All that’s necessary is chain of custody material: that the sample was seized and handled carefully by the PI, and that the same is sealed and sent in a bag to the lab. In our experience, the lab has faxed us a simple form where we document what we want tested, and how we’re paying (like any other business, they want the money upfront). Regarding how the lab sends results, we receive it by fax & email (we’ve also found we can call at any time to check on their research, and they’re very accommodating to take our calls, answer our questions, explain their turnaround time for results, etc). If they aren’t busy, we typically get results in 72 hours, sometimes a bit longer.
Writer’s Question: What evidence, if any, would the lab be required to report to law enforcement officials?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:They don’t have a requirement to report to law enforcement.
Writer’s Question: Is there a time limit/conditions beyond which results would be unattainable or inconclusive?
Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes:Samples don’t lose markers for chemicals unless they are kept under poor conditions (moisture or heat such as light).
Have a great weekend, Writing PIs
Posted in Q&As, Writing About PIs, Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, fiction writing, mystery writers, PI genre, private forensic labs, private investigator | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on September 1, 2011
You know us as the Writing PIs. In this week’s Westword, Denver’s weekly independent newspaper, we’re also “these married Denver detectives” in the paper’s cover story:
That cover is pretty cool (see above). They made it look like a beat-up dime novel with a tough, noir-ish private eye in a fedora and trenchcoat, holding a gun. The top right “page” corner is folded over, like you’re keeping your place in the paperback story. The reporter, Melanie Asmar, met with us between three and four times for interviews…toward the end she told us of her vision for the story (layering a writer’s PI story, based on one of our cases with us as the story’s protagonists, with interviews with us). She did a fantastic job.
To read about our cases, how we became PIs, and more than you probably ever wanted to know about a couple of married Denver detectives, click on the below link:
Westword: The Plot Thickens
Have a great week, Writing PIs AKA Denver’s Nick and Nora
Posted in Westword: The Plot Thickens | Tagged: articles, blog, books, Denver detectives, Denver legal investigators, Denver private investigators, detective fiction, fiction writing, Highlands Investigations & Legal Services, Inc., mysteries, mystery writers, PI genre, Westword: The Plot Thickens, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 29, 2011
Before we started our investigations business nearly 8 years ago, one of us was a full-time writer (with 20 published novels to her credit) and the other a trial attorney turned legal researcher (who had trained many private investigators in his decades-long career in the criminal justice system). Today at New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde’s blog, the writer half (Colleen Collins) tells the tale of how the Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes team decided to start their own private investigations business. Leave a comment & be eligible to win a Kindle version of How to Write a Dick.
Click the below link to read the article:
From the Desk of New York Times Bestselling Author Lori Wilde: From Romance to Surveillance
Have a great week, Writing PIs
Posted in From romance writing to private investigating | Tagged: blog, detective fiction, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, Lori Wilde, private detective, private investigator | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 17, 2011
On Thursday, August 18, we’re guests at Handcuffed to the Ocean, a blog about “crime, mysteries and adventures on the high seas.” One of the blog authors is our friend and peer, Steven K. Brown, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating. Steven Kerry Brown began his investigative career as a special agent for the FBI. For the past 18 years, he has successfully managed his own private investigation firm, Millennial Investigative Agency. He’s also appeared on such television programs as Hard Copy and 60 Minutes, and speaks frequently before civic and professional groups.
On our guest blog at Handcuffed to the Ocean we’ll be discussing several real-world examples of motivations for murder, along with our lessons learned as PIs. Because mystery writers sometimes use organized crime as a tool for creating compelling plots, characters and conflicts, our case examples focus on organized crime and how it employs power plays in murder. Click below link to read the article:
Handcuffed to the Ocean: Motivations for Murder
Have a good week, Writing PIs
Posted in Writing About PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, fiction writing, Handcuffed to the Ocean, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, private investigator, Steven Kerry Brown, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 13, 2011
Here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes we enjoy blogging about private investigations, many of our topics geared to writers writing sleuths/private investigators. We also walk the talk as we co-own a legal investigations firm. If in the near future one of us returns to also practicing law, we still plan for both of us to conduct investigative work, too.
How to Write a Dick
As our motto says, we also happen to be writers. A few months ago, we finally published an ebook that’s been in the works for years: How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths. This was truly, as they say, a labor of love. We’ve enjoyed answering writers’ questions over the years, presenting workshops at writers’ conferences, writing articles about investigations and crafting plausible PI scenarios…and all that and more went into How to Write a Dick.
Currently available on Kindle and Nook.
How Do Private Eyes Do That?
As we’ve compiled dozens of articles here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, we imagined it’d be kinda cool to put “the best of Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes” into a book, too. But we’re not going to call it “The Best of…” because maybe some of those “best” ones are still to be written. After we pondered what the title should be, we decided something straight-forward and to the point was best…something like How Do Private Eyes Do That?
How Do Private Eyes Do That? Articles on the Art of Private Investigations, available October 2011 on Kindle.
How to Be a Lawyer’s Dick
We have a third book we’re working on, geared to legal investigations which is our field of expertise. What do legal investigators do? We specialize in cases involving the courts and we’re typically employed by law firms or lawyers. We frequently assist in preparing criminal defenses, locating witnesses, gathering and reviewing evidence, collecting information on the parties to the litigation, taking photographs, testifying in court and assembling evidence and reports for trials.
When it came to a title, How to Be a Legal Investigator
was too boring, Legal Investigations 101
was too obvious. Then we decided to follow-up our first Dick book with a second one: How to Be a Lawyer’s Dick
. Definitely eye-catching.
How to Be a Lawyer’s Dick: Legal Investigations 101 will be available spring 2012 on Kindle and Nook.
Have a great weekend, Writing PIs
Posted in Writing PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, Legal Investigations, nonfiction books for writers, PI genre, private investigator, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on August 2, 2011
Today we’re guests at Terry’s Place, writer Terry Odell’s blog, where she’s posted our article “Writing Rural Surveillances.” Writing a sleuth who needs to conduct a stakeout in the country? Curious how a private investigator might prepare for such a surveillance? Drop by and check out the article. We’re also giving away a Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.” If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem. You can download a free Kindle app for your PC or Mac.
Terry’s Place “Writing Rural Surveillances”
Have a great week, Writing PIs
Posted in Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: articles, blog, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, mystery writers, private investigator, surveillance, Terry Odell, Writing a Rural Surveillance, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on July 22, 2011
We’re guests today at the mystery writers’ blog Stiletto Gang, where we’re talking about chasing cheaters in fiction (“Infidelity Investigations: E-Catching the Cheater”). What’s “e-catching”? Loosely, it’s an abbreviation that encompasses various means of electronic investigations. In our post, we address requests we commonly receive from prospective clients, such as:
“I see a new cell phone number on my husband’s cell phone history. I think it’s this woman he’s seeing. I want her name and address.”
“I think my fiancée is fooling around. I want to download spyware on her phone, listen in on her conversations.”
Drop by the blog and see our answers. Today, July 22, we’re also answering questions about infidelity investigations, so ask and we’ll answer! Plus at the end of the day we’re picking a visitor’s name to be gifted a free Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide to Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.
Stiletto Gang post: Infidelity Investigations: E-Catching the Cheater
Have a great Friday, Writing PIs
Posted in Chasing Cheaters in Fiction | Tagged: cheating spouse, Colleen Collins, fiction writing, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, infidelity investigations, mystery writers, private investigator, Shaun Kaufman, Stiletto Gang | 1 Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on June 28, 2011
- Available in July 2011
(Excerpt from our upcoming book How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, available July 2011 on Kindle and Nook)
Writer’s Question: What makes fraud different from an average garden-variety argument over a broken-down business deal?
Answer: We look for signs of one person (or several persons) who hide important information or who abuses his/her position in a business relationship. An example of this would be an accountant who knowingly misrepresents the financial condition of a company. Another example is a business manager who willingly hides lawsuits against his/her company from a potential purchaser.
Writer’s Question: Can someone be guilty of fraud in a divorce proceeding?
Answer: Yes. When one partner hides income or assets, or even hides the fact of remarriage (when that remarried partner is still receiving maintenance from the former spouse), you find fraudulent misrepresentations that can be the subject of a separate civil lawsuit for fraud. Keep in mind that any divorce proceeding is the dissolution of a marriage partnership that mimics a business partnership. In both instances, you can have misrepresentation and reliance on those misrepresentations.
Writer’s Question: As investigators, what do you look for when you are asked to find fraud?
Answer: Like most investigations, a fraud investigation begins in public records, where we look to uncover business acquisitions and acquisitions of personal property that show an unusual amount of income that the partner investigated is otherwise unable to access. For example, if a business owner who is selling a corporation that’s in financial trouble, has recently purchased a new car, a new house, and a boat — information we’ve dug up through property, vehicle and boat ownership records — we know that he/she is likely to have emptied corporate assets to make these purchases in his/her name. What did the owner think h/she was accomplishing by purchasing these personal property items? Hiding money. Why didn’t h/she think they’d be caught? Well, sad to say this, but often people just do dumb things, probably because they’ve gotten away with such acts in the past, too. The flip side is people often don’t think someone else, such as a law firm/investigator, is going to dig for this information.
Have a great week, Writing PIs
Posted in Investigating Fraud | Tagged: articles, blog, detective fiction, fiction writing, fraud investigations, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, mystery writers, PI genre, private detective, private investigator, writing PIs | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Writing PIs on June 21, 2011
Private investigators sometimes conduct historical research, often for cases involving genealogy research. Such research might include meticulous reviews of such documents as census records, archives of newspapers, obituaries, birth and death certificates, many of which can be found online. The following websites offer comprehensive research into family histories.
Ancestry.com offers links to census records, immigration records, photos, maps, old school yearbooks and more. Ancestry.com claims it has the largest repository of military records, including draft registrations, pension records and service records. It offers a free 14-day trial membership.
Obitsarchives.com provides offers links to newspaper and obituary archives, death notices, funeral arrangements and more. Some libraries also contain hard copies of obituaries.
Familysearch.org is a service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and offers a network of nearly 5 thousand facilities all over the world that offer public access to genealogical records.
Legacy.com collaborates with hundreds of newspapers in North America, Europe and Australia and features obituaries and guest books for more than two-thirds of the people who die in the U.S.
Usgenweb.org is a volunteer-driven site that lists free genealogical websites throughout counties and states in the U.S.
Some genealogists also work as private investigators. Writers, if your story involves extensive historical research, consider contacting The Association of Professional Genealogists at Apgen.org. Look up a genealogist in your region who specializes in the era you’re writing about and request an interview to help you flesh out your story.
Have a great week, Writing PIs
- A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths
Coming in July on Kindle and Nook
Posted in Finding Family Histories | Tagged: fiction writing, genealogical research, historical investigations, how to find family histories, How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths, private detective, private investigator, writing mysteries | Leave a Comment »