Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

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Posts Tagged ‘fiction writing’

Answering Writers’ Questions: Tips for a Private Eye Doing a Winter Surveillance

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.

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Denver’s Nick and Nora: Real-Life Private Eyes in the News

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

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The Story of a Private Eye: From Romance Writing to Private Investigating

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: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Motivations and Power Plays in Murder

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

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From Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes: Three Nonfiction Books on Private Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on August 13, 2011

Hello readers,

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.

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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

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How a Private Investigator Conducts Surveillances in the Country

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: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chasing Cheaters in Fiction: Electronic Investigations or E-Catching

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: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Historical Investigations: Handy Links for Researching Family Histories

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

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Upcoming Virtual Book Blog Tour for HOW TO WRITE A DICK

Posted by Writing PIs on June 16, 2011

A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

eBook Available in July!

Upcoming Virtual Book Blog Tour Schedule

Below is our current schedule for HOW TO WRITE A DICK, with more blog stops coming. At each stop, we’ll be posting new articles on investigative tips and techniques (with the occasional true-crime PI story).  Mark the dates, baby.

BOOK BLOGGERS: If you have a blog geared to writers who write sleuths or readers who love reading about sleuths, crime and gumshoe techniques, and you have a spot for us in July or August, drop a comment and we’ll get back to you (be sure to leave an email address and your blog url).

Thursday, July 7: Jungle Red Writers

Thursday, July 14: Mystery Writing Is Murder

Wednesday, July 20: Poe’s Deadly Daughters

Thursday, July 21: Cold Case Squad

Friday, July 23: Stiletto Gang

Tuesday, August 2: Mystery/Romance Writer Terry Odell Terry’s Place

Thursday, August 11: Defrosting Cold Cases

Thursday, August 25: Mystery writer Patricia Stoltey’s blog

Date TBA: The Biting Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein

Posted in History of Trials, Writing About PIs, Writing Legal Characters/Stories, Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Answering Writers’ Questions: How Long Does an Area Remain a Crime Scene?

Posted by Writing PIs on April 9, 2011

Writer’s Question: Is there a time frame that an area remains a crime scene? I’m picturing the yellow caution tape in a public place and wondering how long that remains up.  What kind of time frame might apply to a crime scene in a residence (for example, if someone is found dead in a family room, how long do the residents of the house need to stay out of the room?) I’m thinking that from the time the police leave to when a PI shows up, a lot could happen in that room if a family member so desires.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: A police crime scene excludes all but those who are trained to respect procedures for preservation and collection of evidence.  Generally speaking, after a period of approximately 1-24 hours, the area is returned to normal use.

Regarding a crime scene in a residence, specifically (per your question) a dead body found therein: Be mindful that police will remove those parts of the family room that they consider important evidence (for example, blood-stained carpeting and drywall spattered with blood).  Also, police will photograph/videotape the family room in the exact state in which they found it.  In other words, by the time the family returns and changes anything, the PI will have copies of police photographs as well as access to physical evidence that’s within police custody.  There are certainly instances where PIs would still seek access to the home (for example, to photograph the layout, measurements, etc.) but that is accomplished through court order or consent of the victim’s family.

Writing PIs

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