Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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

  • 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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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction books for writers’

#BookGiveaway! Happy 7-Year Blogiversary to Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes!

Posted by Writing PIs on June 8, 2016

Your Writing PIs, Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins

We started Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes on June 9, 2009

To celebrate Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’ 7-year blogiversary…

We’re giving away 7 copies of A LAWYER’S PRIMER FOR WRITERS: FROM CRIMES TO COURTROOMS. Audiences: #Crimefiction & legal-thriller writers/readers, armchair legal-eagles, and those wanting a high-level tour of the U.S. legal system. Contest ends June 12, 2016 at midnight.

To enter the giveaway, click here

“A LAWYER’S PRIMER FOR WRITERS is an entertaining, knowledgable, must-have research tool for writers of all stripes!” ~Dennis Palumbo, author of the Daniel Rinaldi mystery series

“Whether you’re writing fiction, journalism, or advertising, there are times when you really need to know the in’s and out’s, not to mention the ‘lingo,’ of the legal world. That’s when I always crack open A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers. Written by a defense lawyer and a bestselling author, its clear, well-written explanations lend my own prose authority and authenticity.” ~Suzanne Doyle, President High-Low Communications

Sampling of Book Topics

  • A Lawyer's Primer for WritersA History of Trials
  • Players in the Courtroom
  • The Courtroom Setting
  • Jury Experts
  • Types of Courts
  • Types of Lawyers
  • Lawyers and Ethics
  • Lawyers and Technology
  • Trial Preparation
  • The Steps of Civil and Criminal Trials
  • Appeals
  • Articles on Crimes, DNA Testing, Forensics, Personal Injury Cases and More
    Recommended Legal Films

To enter the giveaway, click here

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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Get a Bad Online Review? Three Tips to Minimize It on the Internet

Posted by Writing PIs on April 12, 2012

The Internet is full of reviews, from the best and worst cars to lawyers to books.  And just as the Internet is full of reviews, it’s also full of all kinds of people and varying tastes.  Some people like Chevys, some like Hondas.  Some people dig romance novels, some only read horror tales.  With all these varying tastes and styles, it’s inevitable products and people get varying reviews, too.

Sometimes even bad reviews.

Tips to Make Search Engines Not So Interested in That Bad Review

Rather than focus on the bad review, you can take steps to make it less interesting to the Internet.  Less interesting to the Internet = lower rankings in browser searches.  We’re talking some simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips here:

  • Don’t click on that bad review link.  I know, it’s tough.  You want to.  You’ve seen the “1” ranking and the first few words of the review and you want to know more what that idiot said.  But if you click on that link and open the review, guess what? You’re sending a signal to search engines that people find that review interesting.  You don’t want to do that.
  • Oops, I clicked that bad review link!  Okay, click the back button and navigate to one of your stellar reviews.  One of those 5-starred ones where somebody gushed about your product/service/book. Then close your browser.  This sends a signal to search engines that the second review, the better one, had more impact that that almost-insignificant bad one.
  • Don’t search that bad review again.  Or search for keywords within that review. If you do the latter, you’re again signaling search engines that those nasty keywords are important to readers.

Steps to Boost Postive Reviews of Your Product/Service/Book on the Internet

These actions can help “push down” any negative reviews:

  • Set up different profiles (from a blog to Twitter) and fill them with unique content.
  • Ask satisfied clients (or book fans) to post favorable reviews of your product/service/book.
  • Do not post a rebuttal to a bad review.  I know, it’s tempting.  But don’t.  This adds relevant content to the bad review, which signals search engines that people find this review interesting, which boosts the ranking of that bad review…you’ve just been your worst enemy.

May the Force of the Internet Be with You, Writing PIs

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A Couple of Private Eyes Are Guests This Week at Tyrus Books & Defrosting Cold Cases

Posted by Writing PIs on October 18, 2011

The authors of Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes are guests this week at two of their favorite sites: Tyrus Books and Defrosting Cold Cases. Click on links below to read the posts:

Tyrus Books The Guest House: Colleen talks about some of her favorite Tyrus Books’ authors and books, how she became a PI, and chats about her newest nonfiction eBook How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Defrosting Cold Cases: Colleen & Shaun offer a condensed version of one of their online classes about various tools and techniques private investigators use to research the Internet.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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Tips and Techniques for Interviewing Witnesses

Posted by Writing PIs on August 25, 2011

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

Today we’re guests at mystery writer Pat Stoltey’s blog, where we offer a few tips and techniques for interviewing witnesses. Because so many readers of Pat’s blog are mystery writers, we slanted the blog toward writers writing fiction, but there’s handy info there for investigators and others.

We’re also giving away a free Kindle version of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths to one of today’s visitors at Pat’s blog. We’ll pick a name at random from one of the comments/questions posted today at her blog — winner’s name will be announced later this evening.

To read the blog, click on below link:

Pat Stoltey’s blog: Tips and Techniques for Interviewing Witnesses

Have a great day, 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.



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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Answering Writer’s Question: How to Find Someone from a High School Photo

Posted by Writing PIs on August 1, 2010

We’ve been “out in the Internet” teaching classes, meeting writers, fielding questions about private eyes and portraying them in stories.  We’ve had some great questions, one of which we’re sharing today on Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes.  A writer has a situation in a story where the only piece of evidence is a photo from an old high school yearbook, with girl’s first name written on the back of the photo.  The name of the high school is known, as well as the year the photo was taken.  The question: How would the PI in her story go about finding this person?  Below are a few ideas we offered:

Conduct an online reverse search on the photo: There’s an online reverse photo search engine ( where one can submit a photo image, then search for other instances of that photo on the Internet. If all a PI had to go on was a photo, this might be a first search. For example, instances of that high school photo might show up in someone’s webpage, blog, a family reunion site, one of the many high school reunion sites, etc.

Research that high school’s yearbooks: A PI could go to the library in the town where that high school is located. Many libraries keep yearbooks for their local schools going back many years, sometimes decades. A PI could retrieve that high school yearbook, get a list of classmates’ names, find those individuals and interview them about the person (his/her activities, associations, romantic liaisons, and family members).  The PI’s search can be augmented by the use of online proprietary databases to search for the person’s classmates’ current locations as well as his/her current location.

Check with high school alumni organizations: A PI can check if there’s a high school alumni association (often, a high school website will also have a link to its alumni association). Then the PI would contact alumni members who are listed as contacts for the year/s the person attended high school, and ask these contacts about the individual (again, his/her activities, friendships, romantic liaisons, family members). We once found a person this way who’d attended a certain high school back in the 1960s.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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Answering Writers’ Questions: Finding heirs, expectation of privacy

Posted by Writing PIs on May 16, 2010

Today we’re answering some writers’ questions about finding heirs and expectation of privacy when searching for an adopted child.

Writer’s Question: Maybe this is a question you can answer.  Let’s say a couple are married and the husband makes out a will.  If the wife is aware of how the estate is to be distributed and does not like that an estranged child from the husband’s first marriage is to receive money, could she pretend there is no will?  (Let’s say the child would not know the father died, so doesn’t know he/she inherited anything.)  Or when someone dies, how would it be made known if that person had a will or not?  Attorneys would not automatically be notified if a client died, so therefore would not intervene in the distribution of assets.  Could you be hired to find out if there actually WAS a will?

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: Could the wife pretend there’s no will?  Yes, the wife is welcome to pretend there is no will, however, should one of the heirs find that out, they can enforce the will.  When someone dies, how would it be made known that they had a will?  Generally, they have already informed an attorney or an executor of their estate or their will that they have this will.  Could we, as PIs, be hired to find out if there actually is a will?  Yes.  We’d first check with the county clerk of court where the decedent lived.  Frequently, a will is lodged with the clerk of court.  But, if the will isn’t found there, we’d interview whoever might know who the attorney was that drew that will up, and then we’d contact that attorney.  If that even failed, we’d look for records of trusts in the county clerk and recorder’s office where the decedent last lived.  Frequently trusts are established by the same people who draft wills, and we would then have a good chance of locating that attorney through the trust documents on file with the county clerk and recorder.

Writer’s Question: This is a question about a client hiring you to find a child given up for adoption–if you found the child, would you tell the child that  someone asked to have them tracked down?  Does it depend on the child’s age (very young as opposed to a teenager)?  Or would you have to advise the child’s guardian that someone hired you?  Would the situation be different if it wasn’t a child given up for adoption, but a child who belonged to a family member?  For example,  a sister’s child who remains with the husband’s family after the sister dies and perhaps the husband moves away and loses contact with the sister’s (his wife’s) family.

Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes’s Answer: We cannot talk to children under the age of 18 about adoption issues.  We would speak to the adoptive parent/guardian and they would make the decision whether or not the child would be informed, and if yes, they would do the informing.  The situation wouldn’t be different if it was a family member because the law considers a child who is residing with a relative on a long-term basis the same as a child in foster care or in an adoptive relationship.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

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