Blog Archives

Blood, Fingerprints, and DNA

The forensics workshop at Moonlight and Magnolias conference.

For me, at least, the most fascinating workshop at Moonlight & Magnolias was Junkyard Forensics given by Sheryl McCollum . Fellow CARA members Laurie White, Kelle Z. Riley, and I had a great time learning.

Sheryl showed us how to take everyday materials and use them for forensic tools. Who knew cinnamon would show if there were fingerprints on a plate? Or that you could put food coloring in milk and use rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip, or even your finger, to make it spread out into a rainbow design? I didn’t, but I do now.
Other things I learned: fingerprint powder is really messy. Superglue really can uncover fingerprints. I got to see footprint casting powder. Found that 24 hours in a trunk and anyone can tell there was a dead body there. Flies tell the story of a dead body. That 24 hours is the life cycle of a maggot/fly. You can test ink and know if a pen wrote a certain document. That DNA can be processed in one day, but usually takes about 6 weeks.
We got to see touch and use those special flashlights (can’t remember the name) that show blood and stuff. Actually, they show blood, urine, bleach, and scorpions. Honest. And a few other things we won’t talk about. We  got to play a bit and discovered that the public bathrooms at our hotel were cleaned very well.

Food coloring and milk.

Sheryl is a wonderful speaker, and I learned a lot and had a great time. If I ever get another chance to hear her speak, I’ll be there.


Have a great week!


The Scary World of Editors and Agents

I am taking part in Row 80, the full name of which is A Round of Words in 80 Days. “The writing challenge that knows you have a life.” You set your own goals, which works for me. My goals for this round are here.

As I said in my last blog, I attended the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Decatur, Georgia. The conference was amazing, and I’d like to share some more of the fun—and the information—from that conference.
On Friday, the first official event took place. The Industry, AKA Editor-Agent, Panel is a staple at most writers conferences, and this one was no different. At a long table (in order of seating) were: Nancy Knight (agent with Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency), Michelle Grajikowski (3 Seas Literary Agency), Victoria Curran (editor, Harlequin), Leah Hultenschmidt (senior editor, Sourcebooks), Deidre Knight (agent, The Knight Agency ), Holly Blanck (editor St. Martin’s Press), Charlene Patterson (editor, Bethany House), and Laura Bradford (agent, Bradford Literary Agency). [I will hereafter refer to the panel by last name.]
I’ll try to decipher my notes here and pass on some highlights.
D. Knight said this is an exciting time for writers, with all the different paths to publication and success.
All of the editors seemed to agree that electronic versions of books is the wave of the future.
Blanck stated that St. Martin’s publishes print and electronic editions of books simultaneously.
N. Knight stated that she is a partner with Belle Books, and that she is always looking for new ways to sell books. She says a big part of market is e-books.
As for querying/submitting, Hultenschmidt says, “the query is what will get me.” She wants the query to “make me fall in love with hero.” She prefers a short synopsis.
In a synopsis, Curran wants to know what will keep the hero and heroine apart.
N. Knight Grajikowski, Curran, Hultenschmidt, and D. Knight respond to all queries.
Patterson says she only accepts agent queries unless she’s met the writer at a conference.
All of them are looking for historicals. They do have different needs/desires.
I hope this information is helpful to the writers out there. If you have questions or need more information, please comment.

Happy hump day!

A Wild Time Was Had By All

Sorry I haven’t been around. I had some health issues toward the end of last month. Just as I was feeling better, it was time for the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference in Decatur, Georgia. I’d been looking forward to this conference for a year. Georgia Romance Writers (a chapter of Romance Writers of America) put on one seriously awesome conference! When I got back I took my exhausted body and hid in my writer’s den. So shoot me (or leave snarky comments).

Since the conference was so wonderful, the next few blog entries will be about the trip. The plan is to put in some tidbits that will be of interest to writers while giving non-writers a glimpse into the crazy world of writers conferences. And trust me, writers conferences are like nothing else.

The first hurdle was driving from Chattanooga to Decatur. My good friend, and fellow writer, Stephanie Lilley drove down. I printed out the directions, so I have nobody to blame but me for landing us at the wrong hotel. I knew it didn’t look right, but we’d followed the directions. Turns out I’d printed directions to the wrong hotel. Hey, I’m talented, OK? The good part is that we were only two miles from the right hotel.

We finally got to the right place. Decatur is a suburb of Atlanta, and a gorgeous little town in its own right. The Decatur Hotel and Convention Center is downtown near the courthouse. There are all kinds of shops and restaurants within walking distance, but I saw very little, since I wasn’t there to sightsee, I was there to network and learn. I love smaller conferences, as this one is, since there is more of an opportunity to connect with new people and reunite with old friends.

Monday, I’ll tell you more about the conference.
Sundown tonight marks the beginning or Yom Kippur, the most solemn and holy day of the Jewish calendar. May your fast be easy.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend to those in Canada.
Have a great weekend everybody!