Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

  • Writing a Sleuth?

    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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    All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content on this site (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any violations of this reservation will result in legal action.

    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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Archive for the ‘Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK’ Category

#WritingTips Two NonFiction Books for Writers Crafting Sleuths

Posted by Writing PIs on September 13, 2016

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-00-51-amWe at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes had a lovely surprise this morning—author Tina Russo Radcliffe recommended our two books, How to Write a Dick: A Guide to Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths and How Do Private Eyes Do That? to her writing community on Facebook (see her message on the right side of this post).

Book Excerpt: How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Below is an excerpt from How Do Private Eyes Do That? by Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Colleen Collins.

A Pet Is Lost Every Two Seconds

I recently read that in the US, a family pet is lost every two seconds. That’s astounding, and yet within our own neighborhood we see lost pet signs posted nearly every week. According to the National Humane Society and the National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy, one out of every three pets is lost at some point in its lifetime, and only one out of ten is found.

Our neighbors’ lost cat was found after four months—it had been living in a fox hole several miles away! A man saw one of their “Missing Cat” posters and recognized it as possibly being the cat that was living in a fox hole on his elderly neighbor’s property. The older woman had been leaving cans of cat food and water outside the fox hole for the cat, who refused to leave its sanctuary. Who knows what that poor cat went through during those months, but it managed to stay alive and find protection.

We Once Found Four Missing Dogs

A few years ago we accepted a missing pet case to try and find four dogs, all the same breed. Our client was elderly, didn’t own a car, and although we weren’t pet detectives, we felt sorry for him and wanted to help.

PIs often use people-finding techniques when looking for lost pets (Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

PIs often use people-finding techniques when looking for lost pets (Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

We started out by contacting local rescue shelters, putting up flyers, calling vet hospitals and clinics; unfortunately, no one had seen the dogs, but they were willing to put the word out. By the way, the flyers had a large picture of one of the dogs, the date the dogs went missing, their names, and our phone number (a special one we set up for this case).

We then drove around the area where the dogs had lived and handed out more flyers. Then we went on foot into a large park near the elderly man’s home, and again handed out flyers and asked people if they’d seen any of these dogs. This is one of the tasks we would have conducted to find a person, too (canvas neighborhoods, show photos of the person, ask if anyone had seen him/her, and so forth).

We Found a Lead

While canvassing the park, we met a man who recognized the dog in the poster. He pointed out a remote, corner area of the park where he had seen several of them a few evenings prior.

From our research on this type of dog, we knew its history went back to the Vikings, who used these dogs to hunt moose. These dogs were known to be hardy, with thick fur to protect them from the cold, had above-average intelligence, and were pack animals. We returned to the park that evening and found all four dogs, happily hanging with their pack, foraging for food.

Writing Tips

(Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

(Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

If you’re writing a character who’s a pet detective, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does he/she own a search dog?  Many real-life pet detectives do.
  • What tools does your pet PI use? For example, night-vision binoculars, motion-activated surveillance cameras, a bionic ear to amplify sounds?
  • What investigative traits does your fictional pet PI use? As with other PIs, they might rely on their reasoning; analysis of physical evidence; and interview, interrogation, and surveillance techniques to recover lost pets.
  • Where did your fictional pet PI learn about animal behavior—for example, in college, in a veterinarian’s office, or while growing up on a farm?

Pet detectives are generally caring, tenacious, and often earn certification in the field. A well-qualified pet detective can make between $300-$1,000 a day.

There’s one last point about writing a pet detective: He or she probably has a big heart. After all, animals possess all that is best in humans.

—End of Excerpt—

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any articles without written permission from Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman. Do not copy/distribute or otherwise use any mages noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

Posted in HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT? Second Edition Aug 2016, Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK, Nonfiction Books on Private Investigations, Realistic Private Eye Characters, Writing Legal Characters/Stories | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on #WritingTips Two NonFiction Books for Writers Crafting Sleuths

Celebrate Our 6-Year Blogiversary With a FREE Book on Private Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on June 7, 2015

happy-birthday-picture

Guns, Gams and Gumshoes turns 6 years old on June 9! To celebrate, we’re giving away our nonfiction book How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths. It is FREE on June 8, 9 and 10.

To get your free Kindle book, click on the below book cover or click here.

FREE june 8, 9 & 10

Free june 8 – 10

“If you want authenticity in creating a fictional private investigator for your stories, then this is a must-have reference book. Its authors, Colleen and Shaun, are living breathing PIs with years of actual experience in the PI game.” ~ R.T. Lawton, 25 years on the street as a federal special agent and author of multiple series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

Note from authors: As our investigations business only operates within the United States, this book is more helpful to those writing U.S. private eye characters. However, there are other topics that are universally applied and useful worldwide, such as the history of the PIs, equipping a PI business, finding people, conducting trash hits, handling surveillances, how a fictional PI might work with a crime scene, homicide or DNA gathering and analysis, culling tips from our answers to writers’ questions, and the Gumshoe Glossary.

vintage writer at old typewriter

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority.

Posted in Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK, Nonfiction Books on Private Investigations | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Celebrate Our 6-Year Blogiversary With a FREE Book on Private Investigations

Two Nonfiction Books About the Real World of Private Eyes

Posted by Writing PIs on December 10, 2012

Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins

Here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, one of us, Shaun, is also a criminal defense attorney, the other, Colleen, a multi-published writer.  After teaching classes to writers at various conferences about developing realistic private eyes in fiction, we co-authored a nonfiction book geared to writers, and later Colleen wrote a second nonfiction book packed with articles she’s written on the art of private investigations.  Below are details about both books.

How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life SleuthsHow to Write a Dick cover
Available on Amazon for $4.99 at http://www.amazon.com/How-Write-Dick-Fictional-ebook/dp/B00595K1UK

This nonfiction research book for writers, co-authored with attorney and former investigator Shaun Kaufman, provides facts and guidance for novelists, scriptwriters and others who are crafting mystery, legal thriller or suspense stories. This book also appeals to readers who are simply curious about the techniques and tools of real-life private eyes. Topics include a history of private investigators; descriptions of various specialized fields and how to gain experience in them, from insurance investigations to white-collar crime investigations to pet detection; how private investigators conduct surveillances on foot and in vehicles; the basics of homicide investigations and how private investigators might be involved; a gumshoe glossary and much more.

“If you want authenticity in creating a fictional private investigator for your stories, then this is a must-have reference book. Its authors, Colleen and Shaun, are living, breathing PIs with years of actual experience in the PI game.” ~ R.T. Lawton, 25 years on the street as a federal special agent and author of 4 series in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

“Forget Google and Bing. When you need to research PI work, go to the experts, Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman: they live it, they teach it, they write it. 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. This will be the industry standard for years to come.”
—Reed Farrel Coleman, three-time Shamus Award winner for Best PI Novel of the Year and author of Hurt Machine

How Do Private Eyes Do That?HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT cover
Available on Amazon for $2.99 at http://www.amazon.com/How-Private-Eyes-That-ebook/dp/B005SSZJM8

This nonfiction book is useful for writers conducting research for mystery, thriller and suspense novels, as well as for readers interested in learning about real private detectives. The book provides dozens of articles on the art of private investigations, including case examples and a listing of recommended writers’ and professional private investigators’ sites. Topics include how to locate missing persons, how to find cell phone numbers, tips for catching cheating spouses, where to access free online research sites, techniques for conducting successful witness interviews, tips for investigating white-collar crime and more.

“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

“Real-life private investigator Colleen Collins spills the beans.”
~The Thrilling Detective

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK, PI Topics, Writing About PIs, Writing Mysteries | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Two Nonfiction Books About the Real World of Private Eyes

Hot Research Sites, Tips from a Lawyer and Support for a Fellow PI

Posted by Writing PIs on June 23, 2012

Today we have some educational and heartfelt tid-bits to share, from hot research sites to tips from a lawyer to a fellow PI who’s undergoing a bone marrow transplant and needs our support.

Hot Research Sites

This past week, one of the Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s authors, Colleen Collins, was a guest blogger at Jersey Girl Book Reviews, run by book reviewer Kathleen Anderson.  Colleen’s article “Be Your Own Investigator: Four Free Online Resources” is excerpted below–click on the link at the end of the excerpt to read the entire article.

Be Your Own Investigator: Four Free Online Resources
by Colleen Collins

Besides being a multi-published author, for the last nine years I’ve also co-owned a detective agency with my husband (probably no surprise my current book, The Zen Man, features a private eye man-and-woman team).  As a private investigator, I’ve discovered dozens of online research sites that are handy for such tasks as locating people, digging up historical data and finding owners of cell phone numbers. For my guest blog at Jersey Girl Book Reviews, I thought readers might enjoy learning about four of these online resources for their own use. Best of all, most of these resources are free!

Search the deep web with 123people.com: With more than 50 million searches each month, 123people.com claims to be the largest real-time people search engine in the world. It’s also what is known as a “deep web” search engine, which means it often finds data not indexed by more traditional search engines. Search results might include images, network profiles, blog entries, documents, e-mails, addresses and phone numbers.

Note: Some advertisers, such as peoplefinders.com, promote pay-for people search services on 123people.com. The problem with such pay-for services is that there’s no guarantee how relevant or current the information is, and there’s no live source to interpret the results. My advice: Don’t waste your money. If you’re tempted to pay money to one of these online services, you’re better off hiring a professional private investigator.

Research multiple social networking sites at SocialMention.com: According to Silicon.com, there are nearly 4.5 billion active social networking and other online accounts! Therefore, it can be beneficial to conduct a search in a social media search engine, such as Socialmention, that concurrently checks dozens of social networking sites. Search results include blogs, networks, images and news.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Tips from a Lawyer

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s author Shaun Kaufman is the managing partner at Shaun Kaufman Law. On his site, he’s been writing articles with tips on such topics as what to say (or not say) to a police officer, how to not be a victim of copyright trolling, mistakes people make when representing themselves at a DMV hearing and more.

Below are links to several of these articles — to read an article, click on the link:

Should You Lie or Not Talk to the Police?

Meet the First Amendment Free Speech Guarantee

Do It Yourself DUI/DMV Representation: Three Top Mistakes People Make

How to Say No to a Vehicle Search

Copyright Trolling: Don’t Be a Victim

Support for Steven Brown

Steven Brown, a well-respected private investigator and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating is undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Steve has been a guest here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes, and his informative and interesting articles on private investigations are included below, as well as links to his blogs about the current transplant experience.  The operation is expensive (half a million dollars) — here at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes we’ve donated to help out Steve. If you’d like to also donate (ever bit counts), a donate button is on the left side of his website, Handcuffed to the Ocean.

To read Steve’s blogs about his bone marrow transplant, click here.

To order his book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating” click here.

Links to Steve’s guest posts at Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes (click on link to read article):

Interview with Steven Brown, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating”

Part 2: Interview with Steven Brown, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating”

Congratulations to The Three Winners of Our Third-Anniversary Giveaway!

This month Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes celebrated its third blog anniversary. Congrats to B.V., J.C. and Guillaume, who each won a copy of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.

Have a wonderful weekend, Writing PIs

Posted in Be Your Own Investigator, Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK, Steven Kerry Brown | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hot Research Sites, Tips from a Lawyer and Support for a Fellow PI

Excerpt from How to Write a Dick: Historical Investigations – Traveling Back in Time

Posted by Writing PIs on May 27, 2011

Private investigators sometimes specialize in historical research, typically for cases involving genealogy research or environmental investigations.  An investigator’s research might include meticulous reviews of such documents as census records, archives of newspapers, old city directories, special collections housed at libraries, obituaries, birth and death certificates and probate records. Fortunately, many of these records are becoming available online.

Genealogical Research

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 obiturary 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 five 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 Austrailia and features obituaries and guestbooks 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. If your story involves extensive historical research, we suggest you contact The Association of Professional Genealogists. 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.

Libraries

Besides offering resources for historical research, libraries sometimes house special collections. For example, the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy, has a vast section on genealogy, including the ability to search its obituary and funeral notice indices. Don’t forget specialized libraries such as historical museums, university medical libraries, law school libraries and business school libraries, which also offer special collections. As private investigators we’ve learned that sometimes our best investigative tool is the reference librarian.

The above excerpt is from our book HOW TO WRITE A DICK: A GUIDE FOR WRITING FICTIONAL SLEUTHS

Available on Kindle and Nook

Posted in Historical Investigations, Nonfiction book: HOW TO WRITE A DICK | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Excerpt from How to Write a Dick: Historical Investigations – Traveling Back in Time

 
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