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How To Handle Obstacles & Major Setbacks

How Do You Handle Major Setbacks

You can see from my previous post that I failed to complete this years A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I won't bore you with the details, but I have a redemption plan and I'm working my way back to some resemblance of my former self. 

Have any of you ever wanted something so badly that it occupied you every waking moment? Duh ... of course you have, many, if not most of you are writers. You're well acquainted with the feeling of rejection. My latest sense of failure, while not exactly related to writing, hurts just as much and has knocked me down with a jolted impact I didn't expect. I've worked several years toward something that I can't go into right now, but I intend to write about it as that's the outlet I know. 

I've experienced an unusual share of disappointments, tragedies, and let downs, but I never let go of my goal. I never gave up because I knew I was doing the right thing and working the plan toward the goal. Then wham, I felt the wind knocked out of me. A hockey stick sliced into my kneecaps as I sprinted toward the finish line. My arms pumping ... my heart racing even faster than I could run, I hurled my leg into the air about to finally cross the finish line I've been eyeing for years, but someone ... something whacks me and I tumble face first to the ground. The skin ripped from my face as my body drags across the asphalt. There will be no finish line for me. Not this time.

How do I pick myself up and begin again. How do we, any of us start over, with seemingly all obstacles stacked against us? It's difficult enough when you or your protagonist is your own worst enemy, but when someone yielding all the power over you, is dead set on holding you back, refuses to believe you, refuses to ever give you any benefit of any doubt, seems to have an enormous personal dislike and mission to stop you, what do you do?

How do you handle obstacles and major setbacks?

That's the question I pose to writers and bloggers: How do you handle major setbacks? Obstacles? How do you handle the real life antagonists?

A to Z blogging - Letter J: Jury Nullification

Letter J - Jury Nullification:

This post is for entertainment purposes only for the A to Z Blogging Challenging. It is in no way intended as legal advice or my legal opinion.

Is Jury Nullification Legal?

Is it morally or ethically right?

During closing argument, a good prosecutor will always remind the jury that they "Must follow the law, whether they like the law or not. They can hate the law, disapprove of the law ... but this ain't the time to quarrel with the law or try and change the law." 

If they feel strongly enough about changing the law, then after the trial, get busy writing their congressmen and do something about it. Be proactive. But there's a time and place for everything. Now is the time to listen to the judge read the jury instructions and apply them to the facts of THIS case and if the state proved this case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, "You must Remember the Oath you Swore when you became a juror ... your oath to follow the law. Follow the law. Not only if you agree with the law, or if you like the law ... you didn't take an oath to follow the law, only if you agree that the sentence won't be too harsh. You cannot sit there and know the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but say, hmm, I sure do hate for him to have a criminal record ...  and ... that law doesn't seem fair. I'm voting not guilty. Because if you do ... guess what? You've violated your oath." If every jury did that, we would never have law and order. We wouldn't have a need for juries." That's what a good prosecutor would hammer into the minds of every juror during her closing argument.

And when the judge reads the jury instructions to the jury in a hushed courtroom. He reminds them that it is their sole duty to determine whether or not the government has met their burden? Proven their case? He tells them they must weigh the credibility of the witnesses. They have an awesome responsibility. They should not be influenced or swayed by emotions, prejudice or bias for or against anyone. They must base their decision solely on the evidence or lack thereof, presented at trial and are not permitted to consider any outside evidence or any outside knowledge of the case.

Jury Nullification ... is the power to nullify a verdict? Is the power to nullify a verdict the same as the right to?  

Jury Nullification: When a jury returns a verdict of "Not Guilty" despite being convinced the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. The jury in effect, nullifies a law that it believes is wrong, immoral or has been wrongfully applied to the defendant whose fate they have been charged with deciding.

 I remember two specific cases of jury nullification. In the first a jury acquitted a woman charged with murdering her abusive husband. The evidence clearly showed a pattern of horrific injuries sustained over the years her robust husband who lifted weights, boxed and had recently taken up martial arts. In addition to the physical abuse, sexual abuse, he tormented her verbally, and got off putting her down in front of others. He terrorized her with his new martial arts hobby. He had no criminal record and just days before his death he purchased two pistols and and several rifles, he claimed he needed for hunting.

Regrettably, self defense did not apply because the woman was not technically in fear for her life at the exact moment she chose to kill him. Her fear and panic intensified  over the years and she could no longer live with the horror and dread that any day might be her last. She armed herself with two handguns and waited until he was passed out drunk until she shot him. The photos offered into evidence combined with her mutilating injuries, medical records, doctors' testimony and throngs of witnesses who came forward on her behalf from the apartment complex and both her place of work and the decedent's had the jury in tears. There was no way that jury was going to send that petite, fragile girl to prison for the rest of her life. She'd already lived through nine years of hell. Her once quite attractive face was permanently scarred and disfigured and she walked with a limp. She was twenty-six years old, and no longer able to have children because of the abuse. The law required the jury to convict her of murder, but they found her not guilty.

The second case was an elder woman in her sixties, charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. The only reason she caught the intent charge was the massive quantity she had in her home and her refusal to name the person she bought it from. Tragically, she was suffering -- dying from cancer and the pot eased her pain and nausea from the chemo. We live in a state that hasn't legalized weed even for medicinal purposes. The jury found her not guilty in less than half an hour

Do juries have the right to nullify?

There is no question that juries clearly have the power to nullify, but do they have the right to nullify?

Jury nullification occurs when a jury concludes the defendant is technically guilty, but fails to convict on the grounds that the law in question is unjust. While jury nullification is technically legal, most judges refrain from informing the jury of their inherent super power. Some judges go a step further and deny defense counsel the right to share this information with the jury
Check out this First Punitive Response to Jury Nullification, That's taking things a bit far.

Some judges flat out prohibit defense attorneys from mentioning or making reference to jury nullification. 
But check out this jury instruction, it appears to encourage jury nullification ... without actually saying the words.
This is probably a proposed jury instruction from a defense attorney, but from my reading, three or more states are close to adding it to standard jury instructions and individual judges have already permitted it on a case by case basis.

Compare & Contrast to the Florida Jury Instructions:

Once a jury returns a verdict of "not guilty"that verdict cannot be disturbed or questioned by anyone and double jeopardy prohibits them from ever being re-tried. A not guilty verdict is the end of the case. So it is easy to see that any jury can exercise their "power" of jury nullification without any recourse.

If juries have the "power" to nullify, shouldn't they be told?  Not only are they not told, some courts go so far as to tell a jury that they may not exercise jury nullification.

Jurors must learn of this power from outside sources such as the television or from lawyers or other jurors.

So what do you think?  Should jurors be told of their "power" of jury nullification?  Does the power of jury nullification make it a right? Can you think of any circumstance that may cause you to render a verdict of not guilty despite knowing that the government proved the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?

Do you support or oppose jury nullification?

Can you foresee a situation that you might return a not guilty verdict even if the government proved the defendant's guilt and you were convinced of the defendant's guilt? Please share in the comments a situation you would exercise jury nullification.

This is not offered as legal advice or my legal opinion. I'm not currently practicing law and this post is strictly for the A to Z Challenge ... entertainment purposes.

A to Z Blogging - Internet Connection Delay

Ugh - Another Problem 

Sorry everyone! I finally catch up and a serious car accident yesterday (Car struck a telephone pole (I thought it was the weather) knocked our Internet Service out for most of the evening, all night and it’s still not back on. No electricity either. I’m told we should have it back up by tonight . So I’ll post more letters tonight  and announce the mini mystery amazon gift card winner. I’m posting this short update from my phone. 

Thanks for your patience and understanding . Hope you’re all enjoying the challenge. 

There’s still not a definitive winner for the letter I $25 Amazon Gift Card mini mystery challenge. There’s one person who may take the prize sort of by default, but hey it’s an easy win. Try it out before my next letters got up this evening or tonight. 

Letters H & I -- Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Letters H & I

In the spirit of catching up so I can begin visiting more blogs, I'm combining two letters today.

Letter H - Holly Lisle

Holly offers so many terrific courses, there are too many for me to cover. I first learned about her when another blogger bragged about her How To Revise a Novel (HTRAN) Course. Which is a lengthy, in depth, intense course, but by the end you'll have a damned good revised novel. Holly does things very differently than any other writing coach or writing teacher I've come across. She really encourages you to tap into your imagination and creativity. If you aren't ready for one of her intense courses, check out her blog and she also offers extremely inexpensive books on Amazon. 

My two  favorite things that I learned and now use when writing every scene is her Sentence for Revision and the sentence for creating a scene when drafting. I used to do this on real note cards, but not I do it on Scrivener.

Remember the sentence by (PACTS) PACTS = Protagonist with a need vs Antagonist with a need in a unique setting with a twits.

Conflict = your Protagonist need vs Antagonist need. 
You should this sentence for every scene when writing your draft. If you don't have these elements, your scene is lacking something. You should always use the SFR sentence for revision during your revisions.

Letter I - I Have a Mystery for you -- Guess the Culprit for an Amazon Gift Card

Detective Denver was called to a theft or fraud scene. Seems one of those strip clubs or video poker clubs that pull in boatloads of cash got robbed. Apparently the driver was robbed on his way to make the nightly drop. Detective Denver interviewed the man who normally makes the drop. 
"Evening sir, I'm Detective Denver and you are --"
"Um, name's Wayne. Wayne Brook." He started to get up from the chair, but Denver motioned for him to remain sitting.
"How long have you worked at the club?"
"Seven years?"
"And it's your job to make the nightly deposit?"
"Yes sir." Wayne stood and paced, scraping his fingers through his greasy hair. "I know I should'a dun it myself. I ain't never supposed to let no one else do it. Damn. I can't lose my job. My little girl's sick. She's in the hospital."
"So what happened, tonight."
"I loaded all the cash. Was ready to go, but my damn car wouldn't start. Tried it a few times."
"Uh huh. The other fellow that works with you ... said he suggested you call Uber or a cab. Is that right?" 
He didn't look up or answer, like in another world. Rubbing the back of his neck with such force, Detective Denver figured his skin was raw, Wayne closed his eyes, took in a deep breath, opened and exhaled loudly.
"Well." The detective gave him nudge.
"Oh, Yes. Think he did. Yes he did. But we aren't allowed to put the money in anyone else's car. Against company policy. If it got stolen or something Mr. Gus ... the boss man wouldn't be insured for it. He wouldn't get his money back."
"I see. But it was okay to put it in the other guy's car -- even though he's not allowed to take it to the bank?"
Wayne fell back into his seat and stared up at the detective. "Uh yea, cuz Reid works for Gus, so his car would be covered under the insurance policy." He swiped his palm down his jeans again.
"Why didn't you just borrow Reid's car?"
"I'm the manager. Have to lock up." He fished his phone from his pocket and checked the time again.
"But earlier you said, you had to be home to take care of your sick child."
"Yea ... yea. I got confused. Look. How much longer's this gonna be. My wife needs me home to help with my daughter."
"What's wrong with your little girl?"
"Oh she has diabetes and we're on a waiting list for a kidney transplant. Gotta get one. This dialysis isn't gonna work forever and it cost a fortune."
"Sorry to hear that. Won't be much longer. Do you know of anyone who knew that your boss made large cash deposits when he did?"
"Just his wife -- I mean ex wife. Well technically they're still married. They're getting divorced. She's got a new boyfriend. Some mechanic dude. The boss's trying to hide how much money the poker machines bring in, Says he ain't about to finance a new bike shop and garage for that guy. Some ex con, just got out. Did a dime upstate. Not sure what for."
"Thank you, I'm going over to speak to Reid."
“Have a seat please Reid. I need you to run through the sequence of events for me … one more time.”
Reid slumped into an outdoor lounge chair and began patting his jean pockets then his shirt pocket as if searching for something — a pack of cigarettes maybe. “Look I’ve told you guys everything two times already. I’m exhausted. How’s repeating the story a third time gonna change anything?”
“You seem upset. Surely you want to help.”
“I do. Of course I do. But, I already told the other police everything I know. I don’t know anything about guns or cars."
"Let's just give it a go, what'd ya say?" 
He exhaled a deep sigh
“So what were you doing tonight?”
“The police brought me here — after the — the — um robbery. I got held up. I got robbed.” He twisted his wrist with the palm of the opposite hand.
“I understand how you feel, Reid. Thing is. I’ve been a police officer for a long time. In this line of business I’ve found that the more often a witness repeats a story, they sometimes remember little things they’d forgotten or little things that may not have seemed important before.”
“I don’t know. I don’t see how.”
“You might have seen something that you don’t even realize that you saw. But when we go back over it, its’s called a cognitive interview. It similar to watching a movie. Memories will jump out that you had hidden or repressed. 
He propped his cheek into his fist and gave a half hearted up and down nod.
“Start from the beginning. Were do you work?”
“I’m a bartender at Jose Mexican Cantina.”
“And Dr. Gus Neil is the owner?”
Reid shook his head. “But he never comes in. He stops by the ... the uh, the gentleman's club in the back, but never comes up front. If you know what I mean." 
“Do you normally make the bank deposits. How does that work?”
“No. I’ve never done it before. That’s why the manager had to tell me how to do it. I’ve told you guys this already. We’d just closed up. We cashed out all three video poker machines so we had a pretty good loot. Wayne… he’s my boss, had all the from bags loaded in his car. Told me to lock up. He comes running back inside. Said something’s wrong. His car won’t start. He made a few calls. I couldn’t tell what he was saying. All’s I know is he’s in this big custody battle with his wife and if he’s even one minute late she take him to court and he won’t get to see his kid.”
“Who’s idea was it for you to make the deposit?”
“I dunno. He was pacing back and forth. Making calls. Freaking out.”
"I thought he and his wife had a sick child."
"Yea, that's his kid with his second wife. She's nice. His first wife's always giving him a hard time about being late on his child support so he has to go to court to see his kid."
“Why didn’t he call a cab?”
“That’s one of our main rules. Never make a cash drop in a cab. Or Uber. But we don’t have Uber. We have Lyft. Same thing. We can’t ever make a cash deposit even if someone we know like even a wife of sister gives us a ride. We’d lose our job.” His eyebrows raised and Detective Tanner noticed how animated the witness became when demonstrating how versed he was in the rules.
Detective Denver took a swig of water from his bottle and handed an unopened one to the witness. “Could you hear any of the conversations your boss had?”
“No, Never standing close enough to make out the exact words.”
“Ok. So then what?”
“He told me how to make the deposit. Lucky for me it was my same bank so I knew how to get there. I left right away and he waited for a cab to go get his kid.”
“And you were robbed at the bank”? He pressed his lips into a a fine line.
“Yea … I mean no. Not exactly at the bank.” Reid made a Hmm sound as he cleared his throat. Pinching his bottom lip he lowered his eyes away from the detective. “I pulled over to take a piss.” He mumbled almost inaudibly.
“The empty building across the street from the bank. I had to go real bad.”
“You didn’t think that was maybe a dangerous idea?” The detective said, baring his teeth.
“I didn’t think anyone was gonna rob me. How’s I supposed to know that. I couldn’t have known.”
“So you got out of the car to … relieve yourself. I take it you left the money bags in the car?”
“Uh huh”
“I’s bout to get back in and I hear this car pulling up. I didn’t see no lights. Then the car pulls up on the other side of what used to be the place you order food in a drive through window. I turn and all I can see is the barrel of a gun in my face. The man, I say man because he just seemed like a man, but the person had on a ski mask and the voice was manly. He said ‘Don’t be stupid. Give me that video poker money.” I just froze”. The witness raked his hand through his hair and with an exaggerated puff blew his stringy bags from face. “How much longer’s this gonna take. I wanna help. But I’m tired, man.
“Not much longer. How far from the bar to the bank?”
“Maybe three miles. Like I said, I’m not good at judging distance.”
“Did you notice anyone following you from the bar to the bank?” 
“No, but I don’t really pay attention to other cars. I’m in my own world when I drive. Listening to my tunes.”
“Is it one straight road or do you turn left and right a few times?”
“One road and one turn. Why does that matter?”
“Easier to spot a tail, if you they follow you through lots of turns.”
“Did you stop at any red lights or stop signs?
“Yea. A couple.”
“Anything unusual happen. Did you notice anyone paying attention to you?”
“No, man. I don’t really pay attention at red lights. I’m not real observant.” Denver opened his mouth to criticize, but thought better of it. He’d never get anything out of the witness that way.
‘What kind of gun?”
“Oh, I don’t really know guns?”
“Really. Well do you know the difference between a shotgun and a handgun?”
“Yes. Definitely a handgun. He told me to hurry and I got nervous. I kept wondering how he knew I had the poker money. He said something like get the bags now and throw ‘em in the backseat. That’s when I realized the window was open. I was thinking maybe I could throw a bag and hit him in the face and grab the gun. Then he said, ‘Don’t even think about it’. He told me something else I didn’t think of earlier. ‘Hey boy, don’t miss because a Glock never misses.’”
“See, its working. You’re remembering details you didn’t earlier.”
“That’s good, huh.” His eyes widened. “I’m helping the investigation.” He licked his lips into a smile.
“That you are. Anything else?
“No. Can’t think of anything. I was just so dang scared you know. After he told he how accurate his Glock was, I was shaking. Heard him disengage that safety and I thought I was a goner. That he was gonna kill me, ya know.  
“Here we go. That’s something else you didn’t tell us in your earlier statements.”
“I guess this special interview technique is good. They do it on my favorite show, Criminal Minds. I’m just so happy I’m part of the investigation. I’m really helping.” He drummed his feet along concrete and inched closer to the detective. Their knees now almost touching. 
“You’re a big help.”
“Yea. You know that clacking sound when he released the safety. That was do or die for me. I knew I might die and I had a choice to make. My life or the money — and ain’t no amount of money worth a man’s life. Know what I mean?”
Detective Denver nodded, pat him on the knee . “Now what kind of car was it again?”
The question squeezed the earlier excitement out of Reid as if his belly’d been pricked with a pin. “Dang. I told you. I don’t know cars. Can’t tell a sports car from a — whatever car.”
“Let’s narrow it down a little. Color? Size?"
“I already said this. Medium. Sedan … that’s what they call a four door right? Black … hmm … or maybe dark navy blue. Just a car shaped like a box.”
“But you didn’t see the license plate?”
“No. None of it. Soon as I tossed the bags in the car, he backed up and peeled out.”
“Do you think your manager told anyone about you taking the money to the bank?"
“I dunno. Suppose he could’ve. Anything’s possible. But he’s a nice guy.”
"Oh, Yea ... I just remembered something else."
"Really. You did, did you? Let's hear it?
"Well I also remember hearing the rumble of a motorcycle.But it was kind of in the distance when I was throwing the bags in the car. What made me think of that was because there was a motorcycle on the side of the building when I left, but no one on it."
"You ever see it before?"
"Do you know Dr. Gus Neil's wife?"
"Uh, No sir. I know he's married, but I've never met her."
"Heard anything about her?"
"Like what?"
     "No sir?" He said rubbing his chin
Detective Denver wondered if Detective Tanner had any luck locating any more witnesses
Tanner hadn't been able to locate the wife or the alleged boyfriend.
We don't even have the boyfriend's name and the wife left on a two week cruise.

Who do you think stole the video Poker drop money?


Letter G - Gideon Vs. Wainwright -- Landmark U.S Supreme Court Case

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Letter G

Gideon vs. Wainwright (1963)
Right to Counsel, Due Process

"If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in his prison cell ... to write a letter to the Supreme Court ... the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed. But Gideon did write that letter, the Court did look into his case ... and the whole course of American legal history has been changed." -- Robert F. Kennedy

Face of the Case:

Gideon was arrested for stealing from a pool room in Florida, in 1961. When his case was called for trial he told the judge he was not ready to proceed and asked that a public defender be appointed to represent him. He stated that he lacked the funds to hire an attorney on his own. The judge denied his request on the grounds that only people charged with capital offenses were entitled to court appointed attorneys. Gideon was forced to trial without an attorney and he represented himself. After being found guilty the judge sentenced him to five years in prison.

While in prison Gideon filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Florida Supreme Court. He challenged the validity of his conviction. He also filed a handwritten petition with the U.S. Supreme Court. The court agreed to hear his case because of the pressing question:

Q: Was his right to counsel violated under the 6th Amendment to the Constitution as it applies to defendants in state court via the 14th Amendment?


In a unanimous decision (unanimous decisions are rare) the court held that Gideon's 6th amendment had been violated. The 6th amendment's guarantee of counsel is a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial. His case was reversed and remanded.

This was the beginning of what many referred to as the Warren Court Rulings

I realize we're all short on time this month, but if you're interested, there's a cool trial scripted re-enactment of Gideon Vs Wainwright. If you have some time, you may want to take a look

Letters H & I tomorrow 

Letter I is the first chance to win an amazon gift card. 

First person to solve the mystery wins.

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Letter F -- Favorite Writing Resources

Update: Letter F 

Originally scheduled to offer readers the first opportunity to solve a Mini Mystery for chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. 

B/C I'm two letters behind I'm working my butt off to catch up and I will be caught up by the end of the day Tuesday or hopefully no later than Tuesday. Unfortunately, I'm just now publishing my post for Letter F ... two days late and if you live on the other side of the world, it's already Tuesday, so my Letter F, is coming to you, four days late. I don't like the idea of offering a prize on a post that I failed to timely publish and therefore readers weren't given ample opportunity to read. I'll still offer the same number of gift cards and all of the other letters will remain the same in the give-a-way, but I'll select another letter as I catch up and add another chance to win. Sorry for the confusion and inconvenience.

Today you get Letter F:

Tonight  Letter G

Tomorrow Morning  Letter H

Tuesday Afternoon or Evening Letter I

Then I'm back on schedule

And the next chance to win a gift card is for the Letter K. 

I will make up the missed opportunity for the letter F. I would like the post to be up longer and timely. Thanks for your understanding.

Some of my Favorite Writing Websites, Writing Tools, & Resources for Fiction Writers:

  1. I truly don't know how I ever lived or assembled anything remotely organized enough that anyone in their right mind could put it all back together again (like after Humpty Dumpty and his great fall) and managed to refer to my upside down, flying chaotic paper trial as the rough draft of a future manuscript  ... that is ... until ... some genius invented the greatest gift mankind. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a tad little bit, but Scrivener is the real deal. Now that I use it, I cannot imagine how ever wrote anything without it. Scrivener 3.0 just came out & I've already upgraded. The first two years I barely used any features. Overwhelmed and afraid, I simple stuck with a few minor areas where I felt proficient. Little by little I began exploring and each day I discovered more amazing  features and portals. I was like the Alice in Wonderland, traveling down a new hole each day and discovering a wealth of magic. After using each feature, now multiple times, I have to say the color coded index cards, the status labels and meta data remain my favorites.

  2. I feel certain most of you have heard of Kim Weiland and if you've been living in an underground bunker waiting for the 2016 Presidential election to skip ahead 8 years and perhaps you actually haven't heard of this brilliant author, blogger, writing coach ... make a point of getting to know her -- the sooner the better. She offers a wealth of information on her website/blog for both the novice and experienced author. 
  3. Check her out at Helping Writers Become Authors thank me later. Kim's a fighter, a writer, and a child of god, and a good friend to have in your corner. She's the author many fiction bestsellers, but I'm plugging her non-fiction ... her writing craft books and software today. She's the award winning author of Outlining Your Novel and the accompanying Workbook (I also have the audio version), but what I like best is her newest release. Weiland has released software, available at Amazon Outlining your Novel Workbook Software.  available for a $40 fee can be downloaded on to Mac or PC and you  will be guided to create an outline, premise, general sketches, a plan to get to know your characters, plus and follow the character arcs and a way to keep track of your settings.
  4. This is a secondary site set up by two of the most intelligent, informative, most helpful ladies I've had the pleasure of getting to know since I started blogging. Man, they've come a long way. At One Stop For Writers  Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi allow you entry into their private, magical writer's kingdom. Writer's must contribute a nominal monthly fee, but it's definitely worth the surplus of quality information for members only. Access to a multitude of worksheets, all of the thesauruses that put the girls on the writer's map: including but not limited to:The Emotional Thesaurus, The Setting Thesauruses (my fave), Positive and negative character traits +more. And don't forget to visit their daily blog ... they still post writing advice on a routine basis and share many Writing Tools over @ Writers Helping Writers (Formerly The Bookshelf Muse) 
  5. 750 Words
  6. Susan Dennard Resources for Writers
  7. Creative Writing Solutions
  8. Auto Crit
  9. When you're ready to Publish ... if you don't go the traditional publishing route Fast Pencil
  10. For fun and for brainstorming  ... Random Plot Generator
  11. Joanna Penn
  12. 100 Story Ideas ... How to Write a Novel ... Free Novel Outline & More @ Eva Deverell (You don't want to miss this one)
  13. Writer's Knowledge Base

Again, my apologies for the delay. Letter F's mini mystery has been postponed until another day to be announced. The remaining days are still as they were.

The first (next) letter for readers to win a gift card is for the letter K -- help spread the word. The minimum prize is a $25 gift card  to AMAZON,  but depending on how many players we have the amount of the gift card may go up.

This evening I Will post letter G, Tomorrow H and then I be caught up tomorrow,

What is your go to website resource for writing? You know the one you can't do without? The one you always go back to every time you get stuck writing? Do you have a favorite?

Letter E - Elizabeth S. Craig

Letter E

Today's Letter is Easy & a quick read for you. A quick read because you'll want a lot of time to read the links I'm sending you to ... after the blogging challenge of course. 

Letter E is for a Website/Blog that as a writer/reader I can't live without. This amazing mystery author compiles a weekly list of the best blog posts for writers/authors and she covers everything. By everything I mean

The Creativity of Writing
The Business of Writing 
Indie Publishing
How to Query
How to pre-write/draft
Character Arcs
How to get an Agent
She covers all the different genres

I look forward every Sunday to this List
Click on the little Tweety Bird and You'll be there

If you haven't guessed who my Letter E is

Letter D - Minimize Your Risk Of Becoming a Date Rate Victim

Letter D - Date Rape Drugs

During Casey Anthony's Trial Trial we discussed how difficult it is for the government to prove a case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Remember? And that case had witnesses & evidence. The jury had to choose whether or not they believed Casey's mom was really the person looking up chloroform on the computer even after the prosecutor presented evidence that grandma's work time card showed she was at work at the time of the chloroform search.

But hey -- how do you prove someone raped you when there's NO evidence?


The victim has no real memory of the crime occurring?

Are Date Rape Drugs Still used on unsuspecting Victims? Absolutely. On College Campuses. Frat Parties, Raves, Nightclubs, home parties, bars.  Anywhere you find male and females mingling combined with alcoholic beverages you run the risk of someone slipping a "Mickey" into someone else's drink.

Date Rape Drugs You Might Know:

The three main date rape drugs most of us are familiar with: 

1. Rohypnol (roofies, date rape drug, Mexican Valium, R2) is a strong benzodiazepine (10 X stronger than Valium) prescribed in many countries (not legal in the United States) for severe insomnia and is used during the pre-op period of certain medical procedures requiring anesthesia. The effects begin about 15- 30 minutes after injection and last four to eight hours. This heinous crime is exacerbated because the drug is an amnesic. 

Manufactures of Rohypnol have instituted a recent change to the pill. The previous white tablet, without color or taste made it a weapon of choice for opprobrious rapist. It's now available as a caplet that when dissolved in a clear drink will turn the liquid a blue color

2. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate "GHB" (Cherry Meth, Everclear, G, Griffic, Candy Raver, Fantasy, Georgia Home Boy, Goop, Liquid E, Liquid X) Can be used in liquid or powder form and causes enhanced libido, euphoria, and disinhibition.

3.  Ketamine (Special K, K, Cat Valium, Green)  Ketamine is a "Dissociative Anesthetic." It can be used in either powder or liquid form for humans or animals. In addition to snorting, it can be added to cigarettes or sprinkled on top of marijuana making it a choice date rape drug. 

If the victim is drugged with Ketamine she/he is highly unlikely to realize they've been drugged until after the crime. Ketamine is an anesthetic so the victim will not feel drunk. It is like being placed under anesthesia for surgery ... sole purpose for the patient not to experience any pain or discomfort and hopefully not remember experiencing anything unpleasant. It's unlikely a person drugged with ketamine can move on their own. A dissociative drug makes a person feel disassociated from their surroundings and self.

Date Drugs Your Might Not Know:

Some date drugs now as common as the top three listed above:

Ambien -- A sleeping pill 
Alprazolam -- Another benzodiazepine 
lesser known benzodiazepines, like temazapam or midazolam (versed) -- used in hospitals pre-op

How Can You Protect Yourself?

The Buddy System  -- one of the oldest yet still most effective ways to stay safe. Go out in pairs. Always have someone watch your back, while you watch theirs. Your friend can eyeball your beverage if you must leave it unattended. Of course your friend must be someone your trust 100%

Never leave your drink (even a non alcoholic beverage) unattended in a public place -- even a party where you know the host, but couldn't possibly know all 150 guest.

Don't hand your drink to someone in the ladies room while you enter the stall

Keep your hand over the top of your drink

If you notice that your drink appears to have changed colors, looks cloudy, darker, don't chance it. toss it and get a new drink. I don't care if you're drinking a $25 Cosmo, you're worth it! Never risk it.

Don't let strangers buy you a beverage unless it comes in a can or you personally witness the drink being made, mixed or poured.

Many merchants, like Amazon now make testing strips and other devices so you can easily, quickly, and discreetly test for substances like GHB, Ketamine and Rohypnol. Have peace of mind. Know if someone tampered with your drink. Click on the photo of the book on your left and it will take you the a website that sells Date Rape Drug Detectors.

Remember Letter F will be your first chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift card with a mini mystery.

This post is for entertainment purposes only for the A to Z Challenge. It does not contain any legal or medical advice.


Casey Anthony Trial - Letter C

  1. State of Florida vs Casey Anthony
Letters F, K, O, S, X, Y will offer mini mysteries and an opportunity to win prizes, First prize will be during the letter F ... a $25 Amazon e-gift card

  1. Casey Anthony was charged with 1st degree murder for killing her daughter in 2008
  2. Little Kaylee’s body was found in a trash bag within a mile of the family home
  3. The M.E., couldn’t provide a true and accurate cause of death
  4. They found no weapon, No DNA tied Casey to the crime and she never confessed    
  5. I believe the state seriously underestimated Jose Bias, the defense attorney and his ability to connect with the jury. 
  6. The new scientific evidence introduced in the Casey Anthony Trial was the“Death Smell Test.” 
  7. What is the Death Smell Test? Many witnesses — even Casey’s mom, claimed they smelled “death” in the trunk of Casey’s car. How many of you have smelled a dead body? Well, I have. If you’ve ever smelled a dead, decomposing or decomposed body, I assure you, it’s an odor you’ll never … ever forget.
  8. Can you scoop air from the trunk of a car into special vacuum sealed container and send that apparatus via mail to a specialist and have said specialist test the “trapped air,” for the “odor of death?’ Or the odor of “The presence of a decomposed or decomposing body?” I don’t know. That’s what the state and defense experts argued about in the Casey Anthony Trial. And how long would the Death Smell remain in a car after the body was removed? A day? Week? Month? Year? 
  9. The Verdict — how many of you were truly shocked? I knew in my heart the jury would find her not guilty of first degree murder. If the jury did their job and followed the law, they would not convict her. I prosecuted too many cases and had my heart broken too many times. Of course, juries have voted guilty despite the evidence, even when the state failed to prove the case — when it was a close call — and that was still likely here. I mean, Casey Anthony was the most hated woman in America. But, the judge was fair & he went out of his way to clearly explain everything to the jury. I had faith that this particular jury would do the the right thing. Sadly this time, I didn’t like the right choice.
Problems — As I saw Them:
  • The State failed to Prove the case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Without being able to prove cause of death, there was just no possible way the jury was going to find that girl guilty of first degree murder
  • The state over charged the case. They went for the death penalty. I don’t blame them. A precious little girl was dead. A mom didn’t even report her missing. She is finally reported missing 31 days later — then only by the grandmother. While that sweet girl is supposedly missing, her mom is out partying — doing body shots of liquor. Hell, she knew her kid was dead and she’s partying like it’s 1999 (that’s just a little throw in for old folks), stealing, booze and cigarettes and cashing hot & stolen checks at Target (on video).
  • Watch any of those jail house interviews with Casey and it’s all “Me … Me … Me.” Never a word about her daughter.
  • She made up a fake kidnapper. 
  • Then how dare she throw her own family under the bus at trial. (Her defense attorney’s strategy is my guess, but she fed it to him)
  • But did she intentionally murder her daughter — I don’t think so — I could be wrong.
  • Did she drug her with chloroform so she could go out and party? I believe so. Was it the first time? Probably not. 
  • But this time she probably gave her too much. She returned from partying & found her ole standby babysitter (chloroform wasn’t all that reliable). Maybe she gave her a double dose so she could stay out a little longer … who the hell knows. But she found her baby girl dead or not breathing and panicked. 
  • If the DA hadn’t jumped the gun and demanded the death penalty and just gone for second degree murder, manslaughter being an automatic lesser included offense, I truly believe the jury would have convicted Casey. It’s only my opinion, but I believe the jury was so focused on having to choose whether or not Casey would live or die that they only focused on whether the state had proven the elements of first degree murder. 

  • The state had not. 

  • As much as it pained me and as much as I wanted Casey Anthony to rot in prison, I cannot fault the jury for following the law.

  • ◆ If the District Attorney had slowed down and spent more time educating the jury on second degree murder and manslaughter — instructing them that even if …  Casey didn’t intend to kill her daughter … but, she had given her chloroform or any other medication with the intent to cause her to go to sleep — so she could leave her unattended and instead it caused her death then she, Casey Anthony was guilty of aggravated child abuse and that was an underlying felony offense that would bump her charge up to guilty of 2nd degree murder.  

What do you think? Did the jury get it right? Do you agree with their verdict? Do you think Casey Anthony was guilty or not guilty of murdering her daughter Kaylee? Do you think she murdered her in cold blood? Did something else happen? Do you agree with letting the system work? Because if the system doesn’t work for the guilty it won’t work for the innocent either. Think about that. It’s important to understand that. Yes, people who commit crimes will be found not guilty when the state fails to prove each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt. But would you want it any other way? 

What happens when it’s you or you loved one being falsely accused? Don’t you want the state to have the same tough burden? Don’t you want the prosecutor to prove the case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt? This is where many people get confused and think it’s innocent vs guilty. It’s not. It is guilty or not guilty. 

No legal advice or opinions offered in this post.

Letter B ... Just Beat it "Beat Sheet" & What's the difference between Bribery & Blackmail

Letter B: 

Sorry folks, I'm already playing catch up. I was thrown off with day 1 beginning on Sunday, but add to that Easter Sunday ... my daughter in town from college ... plus family members in town who I only see once a year, plus the kids grandparents (this being their first Easter without their son) and I really needed to dedicate my time all weekend and yesterday and even today to family. So, I'm basically a day behind. I'll make it up in a day or two.

Can I Bribe or Blackmail Larry Brooks into Creating a BeatSheet for my Story?

Key Difference – Bribery vs Blackmail


Bribery and blackmail are two legal offenses that involve an exchange of money.

]Bribery involves exchanging money or other valuables in order to get one’s work done. Blackmail involves extortion of money or something of value by the threat of exposing discreditable information.
How many of you use a beat sheet. There are numerous beat sheets and they all help in the pre-drafting stage, by my favorite was created by Larry Brooks @ 

Brooks uses his Beat Sheet to sequence his story with bullets instead of whole sentences. It's equally helpful for plotters and pantsers. If you don't plot or if you write by the seat of your pants, a beat sheet is a kick ass way to kick off your revisions.

Open a document in word,  pen and paper or Scrivener. 

Title your 1st Beat: Opening 

2nd Beat: Hook

Scene 12 - First Plot Point (PP1)

Scene 20, 21, or 22 First Pinch Point

Scene 30 MidPoint

Scene 36 or 36 Second Pinch Point

Scene 44 Lull

Scene 45 Plot Point 2 (PP2)

Larry Brooks Beat Sheet Examples


1.         Prologue – preview of forthcoming problem.
2.         Intro character and his life prior to facing problem.
3.         Show character’s life, what his stakes are.
4.         Off-stage flash of approaching antagonism.
5.         Hero’s first hint of darkness.
6.         Hero timidly enters the darkness.
7.         Hero is warned to stay away.
8.         Hero confronts the jeopardy.
9.         Hero falsely reassured.
10.       Hero doesn’t buy in, goes stealth to see for himself.
11.       Major darkness thrust upon him, everything changes.
12.       He finds himself unjustly accused (this is Plot Point One).
It’s interesting to note that this generic Part 1 beat sheet could be applied to any number of stories.


1.         Man and woman in hotel room, wildly making love; we see her wedding ring on the counter next to the man’s wallet.  This is a prologue, we aren’t sure who is who.
2.         We meet our hero, who runs a successful retail boutique founded and owned by his wife.  She’s the face of the business, he does all the hard work.
3.         We see that she gets all the glory and money, while he gets little credit or appreciation.  But the employees know.  There’s trouble afoot.
4.         Wife says she’s got a meeting downtown.  Kisses him, leaves, but goes to hotel rendezvous with lover.  One of the other employees sees her there.
5.         That employee tries to tell hero what’s up, but without betraying the wife, who is the Big Boss.  She has a crush on hero herself.  (Foreshadowing here).
6.         Hero now follows his wife a few days later, but finds nothing wrong.
7.         Hero confronts his wife with his suspicions, she denies.  They argue.
8.         Hero goes to hotel, shows bellman his wife’s picture, he recognizes.
9.         Confronts wife, she says this was where her meeting was.  More anger.
10.       Employee assures him she’s lying.  She saw her with a lover.  There are seeds of an attraction between them.
11.       Days later, he follows wife to different hotel on a tip from the employee, breaks into room… finds his dead wife inside.  Touches things, incriminates himself carelessly.  Calls the police, then…
12.       Employee finds him waiting in lobby, whisks him away… says police are already looking for him, they think he did it,  he’s been framed by his wife’s lover, and she’ll help him until he can prove his innocence.  She’ll explain how she knows all this later

Think of the Beat Sheet as your Story Skeleton and think of Larry Brooks as your Story Guru. I kid you not. I was lost until I read his books and signed up for his Story Concept Analysis and later his Professional Story Coaching.  What an eye opener! I realized how much I did not know. He didn't make me feel stupid, but he banged it into my head and let me know that I didn't even have a grasp of some of the simple concepts ... like the difference between the story concept, premise and theme. Once he broke through or forced me to look at story in a different way so that I had that magical breakthrough, I never read a book or watched a movie the same way again. The man's a genius, a master storyteller and a brilliant teacher. If you only read one writing craft book, I highly recommend Larry Brooks Story Engineering

Another author/blogger I hold in awe, has a Writer's Worksheet page on her website where she shares a plethora of valuable worksheets. Among those worksheets,  The Magnificent Author and Blogger Jami Gold has prepared story and emotional arc beat sheets which include a Save the Cat and a Larry Brooks Beat Sheet that you can download. She even has a Scrivener Template. I'm telling you this girl has super powers. If you're old enough to be from my era, I think she's the Bionic woman ... gone into hiding, except she's too young, so I'm still trying to figure out who she is.

Are you new to Beat Sheets? Never Fear Jami's got ya covered with this intro post showing you how to use a beat sheet and explaining all the benefits. Jami Gold's Beat Sheet 101 Post

So, I'm fairly certain we can't bribe or blackmail our way into writing the next creepy, bestselling thriller fully equipped with multi dimensional characters that you love or love to hate and numerous plot twist that you never saw coming which keep you guessing until the very end. Nope. We're going to need help.  I strongly recommend a writing coach like Larry Brooks and reading books he authored such as Story Engineering, Story Physics or my favorite Story Fix.

If we want to write a disturbing psychological thriller, like B.A. Paris's Behinds Closed Doors, I suggest using Beat Sheets during the pre-draft stage and doing revisions. And wow, Behind Closed Doors was her debut novel

If you haven't read this book, you'll want to grab a copy now and read it. I couldn't put it down, but occasionally I forced myself to set it aside to catch my breath. I ordered the book without knowing much about the plot and I''m glad I did. The surprise made it all the more terrifying. I don't want to give anything away, but on the outside Jack, a lawyer and champion for women's rights and his lovely bride Jane appear to have the perfect marriage. Jane has a sister with down syndrome and Jack even takes special care of Jane's sister. I had to go back and read several parts of the book a second time (so I gave in a just re-read the entire book) to see what I had missed ... why had I not suspected this or that sooner? If you are a fan of domestic noir, domestic suspense, psychological thrillers, this is one of the best ones I've ever read.

I'm trying to decide on a weapon for the killer to use in my book. What do you think about a female using a bow and arrow? Too masculine?

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