Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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

    "How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike."

    Available on Kindle

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    It has come to our attention that people are illegally copying and using the black and white private eye at a keyboard image that is used on our site. NOTE: This image is protected by copyright, property of Colleen Collins.

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Private Eye Writers of America: 2017 Shamus Award Winners

Posted by Writing PIs on September 27, 2017

Winners are in bold type, below. Nominees are listed alphabetically by authors’ names. Congratulations to all of the finalists and winners!

Best Original Private Eye Paperback

Winner: Vaseem Khan, The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown. Red Hook Books
Michael Craven, The Detective and the Chinese High-Fin. Harper Collins
O’Neil De Noux,  Hold Me, Babe. Big Kiss Publications
Erle Stanley Gardner,  The Knife Slipped. Hard Case Crime
Manuel Ramos, My Bad. Arte Publico Press

Best First Private Eye Novel

Winner: Joe Ide, IQ.  Little, Brown
Tim Baker, Fever City. Europa Editions
L.P. Lyle, Deep Six. Oceanview Publishing
David Swinson, The Second Girl. Little, Brown
Richard Vine, Soho Sins. Hard Case Crime

Best Private Eye Short Story

Winner: Brendan DuBois, “A Battlefield Reunion in AHMM, June
Lawrence Block, “Keller’s Fedora” (e-publication)
Ake Edwardson, “Stairway From Heaven” in Stockholm Noir, Akashic
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, “A Dangerous Cat” in The Strand. Feb-May
Dave Zeltserman, “Archie On Loan” in EQMM, Sept.-Oct.

Best Private Eye Novel

Winner: Reed Farrel Coleman, Where It Hurts. Putnam
Lindsey Davis, The Graveyard of the Hesperides. Minotaur
Timothy Hallinan, Fields Where They Lay. Soho Crime
Al Lamanda, With 6 You Get Wally. Gale Cengage
Robert S. Levinson, The Stardom Affair.  Five Star

All images are licensed by Colleen Collins, who does not have legal authority to share with others, so please do not copy or distribute any images, thank you.

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Hurricane Irma: Recommended Supplies, Prepping Emergency Kits

Posted by Writing PIs on September 4, 2017

Florida Department of Emergency Management: Recommended Supplies

Hurricane Irma via NASA

Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
– non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
– foods for infants or the elderly
– snack foods
– non-electric can opener
– cooking tools / fuel
– paper plates / plastic utensils
Blankets / Pillows, etc.
Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Special Items – for babies and the elderly
Toiletries – hygiene items
Moisture wipes
Flashlight / Batteries
Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Cash – Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods.
Keys
Toys, Books and Games
Important documents – in a waterproof container
– insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
– document all valuables with videotape if possible
Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
Vehicle fuel tanks filled
Pet care items
– proper identification / immunization records
– ample supply of food and water
– a carrier or cage
– medications
– muzzle and leash

Related Articles

Hurricane Irma: How to Prepare an Emergency Kit (USA Today)

Everything You Need to Survive a Storm (Miami Herald)

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Summer Surveillances: Lessons Learned

Posted by Writing PIs on July 13, 2017

Updated July 13, 2017: This article was originally written in July 2010 after one of the Writing PIs experienced heat exhaustion while conducting a daytime surveillance. At the time, we had conducted dozens of surveillances, many during the summer months. Both of us knew what precautions to take during summer surveillances, but nevertheless the heat took its toll on one of us while on an outdoor surveillance. As summer temperatures are rising, it’s more important than ever to caretake one’s health when outdoors.

Summer Surveillances

Every summer, the number of surveillances we conduct increases. We figure this is due to people being out and about more in the sunny weather, parents not being tied to their kids’ school schedules, people taking vacations, and so forth.

This past summer, we learned (or in some cases, re-valued) some lessons in conducting successful surveillances, which we’ll share in today’s post.

Lesson #1: An investigator needs to respect the heat! While conducting a days-long, grueling surveillance this summer, one of us had issues with heat exhaustion.  It was a strong reminder that any work conducted outdoors in the summertime means staying cool & staying hydrated.  Here’s a few ideas for staying cool: bringing ice packs along on the surveillance, picking shady spots to park in, ensuring there’s adequate ventilation, if appropriate running air conditioning (there’s also portable units investigators can purchase that help keep the inside of a vehicle cool), when possible taking breaks in air-conditioned buildings, wearing a rimmed hat and sunglasses.  Staying hydrated includes such safeguards as drinking water, Gatorade or fruit juices (not sodas or coffee!), as well as wearing loose-fitting and cool clothes.

Lesson #2: Mine your client for details. It’s funny how many people call and ask us to follow someone without any suggestions or knowledge about the subject’s schedule or habits.  Maybe in the movies a PI can jump into a car and follow someone for hours without any idea where that person typically goes that time of day, or is scheduled to go on that particular day, but it’s asking for failure in real-life surveillances.  It aids the surveillance significantly to have an idea where the person might be travelling, or if they have a set appointment (hair dresser, exercise club, therapist) for that day and time.  How does a PI find this information?  It’s critical to interview the client and ask about the subject’s habits, schedules, work routines, and so forth.  Sometimes we’ll work on an “on-call” basis with a client (he/she calls us when they have information where a subject will be that day–of course, this doesn’t mean we’re available at that particular time, but this is an understanding of the “on-call” approach).

Lesson #3: Stay in close touch with your PI partner.  We conducted multiple two-car mobile surveillances this summer, and we re-learned the value of staying in constant touch when we’re both “rolling.”  Before we drive through traffic following a vehicle, we’ll call each other on our cells, then leave that line of communication open as we drive.  We put our phones on speaker, set them on our laps, then talk to each other as we drive.  This way, we can immediately inform each other if the car is turning, if we’re playing “leap frog” with the vehicle, and so forth.  In the “old days” we used our two-way radios, which got problematic if we got out of the range of the signal (it also was difficult to be pressing the talk button at times while driving).

Note: In our state, any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission. Adult drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone to text message, or send similar forms of transmission, while behind the wheel. Regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted. Drivers of any age may use a wireless device in the case of an emergency.

Tips From Other Investigators

We’ve heard other investigators talk about using tinted windows, installing a roof vent in the vehicle, wearing canvas shoes, if possible working at night vs. the day, one even swore she remained cool with a bandana filled with ice wrapped around her neck (an interesting image!).

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Please do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of this material without written permission from the author. Unless an image is noted as being in the public domain, please do not copy or use any graphics/photos, thank you.

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Case Story: The Spied-Upon Spy

Posted by Writing PIs on June 16, 2017

A Homeland Security federal agent (whom we’ll call “B”) was on her first day of vacation in Cripple Creek, Colorado, a historic town where gambling is legal. B had played slot machines throughout the day, followed by dinner with her spouse, after which she played more slot machines.

The Arrest

Around 9:30 p.m., a state of Colorado gaming officer approached her while she was playing, and asked her to please step away from the machine. The gaming officer informed B that a casino security camera had taken footage of her cheating at a slot machine within the past hour.

When B asked for specifics, the gaming officer said that a security camera had captured video of B observing a player walk away from a machine without pressing the “Cash Out” button. B immediately sat down at that machine and started playing that slot machine, therefore stealing the previous person’s money.

B was surprised, said she had no idea there had been money left in the machine when she sat down to play, and hadn’t the camera also captured B putting in her own coupon to play?

Gaming officer claimed client had stolen another customer’s gambling coupon (image in public domain)

The gaming officer remained adamant that B was under arrest for thieving a game device, a class 6 felony in Colorado. Being a federal agent, B knew it was wise for her to remain silent, and peacefully allowed the officer to arrest, cuff, and take B to jail.

Lawyer Enters the Case

Within hours after being arrested, B posted bond, and returned with her spouse to their home state. A month later, after reviewing the Colorado division of gaming reports about her arrest, B decided to hire a Colorado defense lawyer and contacted Colorado defense attorney Shaun Kaufman (one of the authors of this blog).

Note: If B, a Homeland Security federal agent, were to be found guilty, she would automatically lose her security clearance and job, in which she’d accrued 18 years. By the way, the government doesn’t differentiate between a misdemeanor or felony—if an employee is found guilty of either one, they lose their job.

Defense Investigation

The defense investigator, Colleen (the other author of this blog), conducted surveillance in the casino regarding security practices for machines, and learned that casino security was lax in regard to reminding players—either by signs or verbally—to remember to take their money coupons before leaving slot machines.

D.A.’s Case: Intention

Shaun drove three times, back and forth, to Cripple Creek (229 miles each round trip) to meet with the D.A. Third time was the charm as he finally agreed to dismiss the charges based on the prosecution’s inability to prove B’s intent to steal.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes Ranked #3 in Top PI Blogs

Thank you, PINow, for ranking Guns, Gams, & Gumshoes as #3 in the top 10 private investigator blogs for 2017.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. Please do not copy or distribute any images unless they are noted as being in the public domain, thank you.

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Book Giveaway for Gums Gams Gumshoes 8-year-blogiversary

Posted by Writing PIs on June 9, 2017

Thank you, readers, for visiting us over the last 8 years!

A lot’s happened since 2009, from Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes getting tapped twice by the American Library Association’s Booklist site as its “Web Crush of the Week” during Mystery Month (2011 & 2014), to teaching courses to fiction writers at national conferences, to writing a handful of nonfiction books about private investigations and the law.

Blogiversary Book Giveaway

Click on book cover to go to Amazon page

To celebrate our 8-year blogiversary, we’re giving away 8 copies of How Do Private Eyes Do That?, a nonfiction book written by one of the Writing PIs, Colleen Collins.

Click Here to Enter

“A must-have for any writer serious about crafting authentic private eyes. Collins knows her stuff.” ~Lori Wilde, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

It’s an Amazon ebook, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. Amazon provides a free, easy-to-download app that makes the book readable on a variety of platforms, from your browser to your computer (PC or MAC), even your smartphone.

Giveaway ends Jun 24, 2017 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. No purchase necessary.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

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Private Eye Writers of America: 2017 Shamus Award Finalists

Posted by Writing PIs on June 8, 2017

Winners will be announced this October at the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) Banquet at Bouchercon in Toronto, Canada. Congratulations to all the nominees!

PRIVATE EYE WRITERS OF AMERICA SHAMUS AWARD NOMINEES 2017
(For works published in 2016)

The below lists of nominees are in alphabetical order by author.

Best Original Private Eye Paperback

Michael Craven, The Detective and the Chinese High-Fin. Harper Collins
O’Neil De Noux,  Hold Me, Babe. Big Kiss Publications
Erle Stanley Gardner,  The Knife Slipped. Hard Case Crime
Vaseem Khan, The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown. Red Hook Books
Manuel Ramos, My Bad. Arte Publico Press

Best First Private Eye Novel

Tim Baker, Fever City. Europa Editions
Joe Ide, IQ.  Little, Brown
L.P. Lyle, Deep Six. Oceanview Publishing
David Swinson, The Second Girl. Little, Brown
Richard Vine, Soho Sins. Hard Case Crime

Best Private Eye Short Story

Lawrence Block, “Keller’s Fedora” (e-publication)
Brendan DuBois, “A Battlefield Reunion in AHMM, June
Ake Edwardson, “Stairway From Heaven” in Stockholm Noir, Akashic
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins, “A Dangerous Cat” in The Strand. Feb-May
Dave Zeltserman, “Archie On Loan” in EQMM, Sept.-Oct.

Best Private Eye Novel

Reed Farrel Coleman, Where It Hurts. Putnam
Lindsey Davis, The Graveyard of the Hesperides. Minotaur
Timothy Hallinan, Fields Where They Lay. Soho Crime
Al Lamanda, With 6 You Get Wally. Gale Cengage
Robert S. Levinson, The Stardom Affair.  Five Star

All images are licensed by Colleen Collins, who does not have legal authority to share with others, so please do not copy or distribute any images, thank you.

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Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017: Half-Day Workshop on Private Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on April 22, 2017

On Thursday, April 27, 2017, the Writing PIs, Shaun Kaufman & Colleen Collins, are presenting a half-day workshop at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. These “prequel” workshops are for one day only, prior to the official start of the conference on Friday, April 28, 2017. Attendees may register for these prequel workshops separately, or add the prequel workshops to their regular conference registration.

To register: PPWC Prequel Programming

Below is the syllabus for our workshop.

Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the Truth from a Criminal Lawyer & Private Eye

Prequel Afternoon Session #4

Shaun Kaufman and Colleen CollinsPresented by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman

“Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the Truth from a Criminal Lawyer and Private Eye” covers the history of private eyes, popular misconceptions of PIs, types of investigators, tricks of the trade, crime scenes, the relationship between PIs and police, legalities, and breakdowns of real-life investigative/criminal cases. At the end of presentation will be a Q&A.

At the end of the workshop, there will be a drawing for copies of our nonfiction books How Do Private Eyes Do That? and A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms.

Syllabus

  1. Introduction
  2. History of the Private Eye
  3. Types of Private Investigators: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
  4. Misconceptions About PIs: Don’t Let Your PI Character Become a Cliché
  5. Tricks of the Trade: Trash Hits, Spy Gear, Apps & More
  6. Breaking the Law: Don’t Make Your PI-Character Look Like a Legal Dummy
  7. PIs and Police: Debunking Myths
  8. PIs and Crime Scenes: Cold Crime Scenes vs. “Hot” Crime Scenes
  9. Examples of Real-Life Investigative Cases: Breakdown of PI’s Tasks (Misdemeanors to Attempted Homicide)
  10. Examples of Real-Life Criminal Litigation Cases: Breakdown of Defense Lawyer’s & PI’s Tasks (Misdemeanors to Murder 1)
  11. Research Sources for Writers: PI Blogs, Websites, Online Magazines
  12. Q&A

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. All images are either copyrighted or licensed by the authors, who do not have legal authority to share with others, so please do not copy or distribute any images, thank you.

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Book Sale: How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Posted by Writing PIs on April 10, 2017

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

How Do Private Eyes Do That? by Colleen Collins, one of the Writing PIs, is on sale for $1.99 (regular price $5.95) through April 14. Click on the cover to go to the Amazon page.

Book Topics

Subjects include:

  • History of the private eye
  • Public vs. private investigators
  • Several dozen articles covering investigative techniques, complex investigations and other case studies, pop culture private eyes, and more
  • Links to PI blogs, online magazines, and websites
  • Glossary of PI terms.

Praise for How Do Private Eyes Do That?

“A must-have for any writer serious about crafting authentic private eyes. Collins knows her stuff.” ~Lori Wilde, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“If you’re looking for the lowdown on private investigations, this is it.” ~Bill Crider, author of the Truman Smith mystery series
“I am an attorney who uses PIs from time to time. This is a great book that details the mentality of PIs.” ~G. McFadden, attorney
“I picked my copy up as a whim to flesh out the background of my own fictional PI and, after reading the book, trashed just about everything I had written. It is a spectacular bargain. It will help sweep out misconceptions, empty the waste bin of trite, worn out clichés, and give you plenty of room for fresh ideas. Man, it’ll save your life.” ~C.M. Briggs, writer
To download your copy, click here. No Kindle? No problem. Amazon offers free apps for reading Kindle books on your browser, computer (both PCs and Macs), and a variety of other devices.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. All images are either copyrighted or licensed by the author, who does not have legal authority to share with others, so please do not copy or distribute any images, thank you.

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Senate Resolution May Eventually Allow ISPs to Sell Sensitive Customer Data

Posted by Writing PIs on March 23, 2017

Browsing History and Your Privacy

March 23, 2017: Today the Senate passed a resolution that would overturn an FCC rule that requires internet service providers (ISPs) to get customers’ permission before ISPs sell sensitive consumer data, such as browsing histories. You can read more in the LA Times article Senate votes to kill privacy rules meant to protect people’s sensitive data from their Internet providers.

Mystery writers often joke that if the government ever looked at their browsing histories for stories, the writer would look like he/she wanted to murder someone through his/her searches on poisoning, bombing, knifing, strangling, and on and on…

But it’s not so funny that a Minnesota judge recently approved a warrant to retrieve people’s Google searches on variations of a victim’s name over a 5-week timeframe. Google was to provide the court each searcher’s name, email address, account information, and IP address. Think about that. What if you had Googled a name of a second cousin, a potential employer, even the name of a character in a book, and what you typed just happened to be similar to that victim’s name? Your name and personal information would be provided to the court as a possible suspect.

But, there’s no need to panic. Instead…

Be Proactive with Your Internet Privacy

The Senate’s resolution hasn’t gone to legislation yet, of course. So this is an opportunity to think about ways to protect your internet privacy and browsing history. For example, are you using a private search engine? Good. If not, consider using a private search engine like DuckDuckGo or StartPage.

Articles on Internet Privacy

Some private search engines, such as StartPage, also encourage users to take additional steps to limit cookies as a second line of defense. I wrote about how to set up Do Not Track options, add-ons, extensions, and more in my article Tips for Keeping the Cookie Monster Out of Your Browser.

Below are more articles that offer tips for protecting your internet privacy:

How to Browse the Internet Anonymously by Natasha Stokes (Techlicious)

One setting to protect your privacy on your iPhone or iPad by Mark Jones (Komando.com)

Computer security tips for whistleblowers and sources (The Guardian)

Have a good week, Writing PIs

 All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. All images are licensed by the author, who does not have legal authority to share with others so please do not copy or distribute those images, thank you.

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International Women’s Day: Honoring Female Investigators

Posted by Writing PIs on March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s. On this day, thousands of events occur around the world to celebrate women and their accomplishments.

For International Women’s Day, I’m honoring several women PIs through articles written about them to radio shows hosted by them. This post isn’t meant to be all-inclusive by any means, just a cross-section of outstanding women investigators, including their fictional counterparts.

Radio Shows: New and Old

Below are two radio shows, one hosted by a contemporary female PI, the other about a old-time radio female private eye.

PI’s Declassified

California PI Francie Kohler hosts this weekly Internet radio show where she interviews private investigators and other professionals in associated fields. The show airs every Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time: PI’s Declassified.

Old-Time Radio: Candy Matson Yukon 2-8209cover ebook 2000px longest side

This old-time radio show kicked off in 1949. Every show opened with a ringing telephone with a female answering, “Candy Matson, YU 2-8209,” after which the theme song “Candy” played. According to the Internet Archive, Old Time Radio (OTR) researchers view this radio show as the best of the female private eyes. It ran until 1951. Listen to single episodes here: Candy Matson YUkon 2-8209.

Articles About Real-Life Female Private Investigators

Possible sketch of Kate Warne, the first U.S. female PI

Possible sketch of Kate Warne, the first U.S. female PI

Below is a sampling of articles written about female PIs:

The First U.S. Female Private Eye: Kate Warne (The Zen Man)

Q&A: Norma Tillman–Right and Wrong (Pursuit Magazine)

What Does It Take to Be an International Private Eye (interview with international private investigator Yin Johnson and her husband Phil, via RC Bridgestock Blog)

The PI Wears Prada: One Woman’s Midlife Career Change (What’s Next)

What Is It Like Being a Female Private Investigator? (The Zen Man)

This Private Investigator is One of the Few Jersey Women Working as Sleuths (NJ.com)

Articles About Fictional Female Private Eyes

There are many entertaining female “eyes” in literature, going back to the mid 1800s.

Dangerous Dames: A Timeline of Some of the Significant Female Eyes (The Thrilling Detective – if you haven’t checked out The Thrilling Detective, you’re missing out on one of the most comprehensive and entertaining sites about fictional private eyes on the ‘net)

Female Private Eyes in Fiction: From Lady Detectives to Hard-Boiled Dames (by Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’s Colleen for Festivale magazine)

Did you know a well-known writer of private eye novels based a female PI character on a real one? Check out the interview “Susan Daniels: If Sam Spade Had Been Samantha – Cleveland’s Female Private Eye”

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

“As an experienced private detective and a skilled storyteller, Colleen Collins is the perfect person to offer a glimpse into the lives of real female P.I.s”
~ Kim Green, managing editor of Pursuit Magazine: The Magazine of Professional Investigators

 

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority.

Posted in Private Eyes in the News, Real-Life Private Investigator Stories, Secrets of a Real-Life Female Female Private Eye | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on International Women’s Day: Honoring Female Investigators

 
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