Brenda Novak’s On-Line Auction — the fun continues!

NY Times best-selling romantic suspense author Brenda Novak’s annual online auction returns this May — the entire month — with an amazing array of prizes for writers and readers. All proceeds go to juvenile diabetes research — a cause prompted by Brenda’s own son, who has Type 1 diabetes — more than 1.6 MILLION has been raised so far! More from the auction website. 

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My contribution: a signed copy of Death al Dente and a basket of Montana goodies!

Malice Domestic 25

Malice Domestic celebrates the traditional mystery–and those who write, read, sell, publish or otherwise enjoy it! A few photos from the 25th Annual Malice, in early May:

Malice 2013 with Daryl & Debra

With Debra Goldstein and Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames). Daryl, Peg Cochran, Nancy Parra, and I had a fun panel discussion, “Cooking Up Murder,” talking about kitchen disasters, why our mysteries  are filled with food, how we create the recipes, and more.

 

Malice 2013 with scarf

 

Showing off “that scarf!” Isn’t it fab? A gift from my  friend Lita, whose late mother-in-law had a marvelous collection of hand-painted silk scarves from the 1960s, created by a California designer who signed herself “Helène.”

 

 

 

Folio authors

“Paige’s pages:” Connie diMarco (writing as Connie Archer), Paige Wheeler (our agent), Ellen Byerrum, Linda O. Johnston, Nancy Parra, me, and Roberta Isleib (writing as Lucy Burdette)

 

(Photos from Debra Goldstein and Connie diMarco)

Criminal Opportunities: Swatting — a high-tech hoax

OldMTPrisonA new high-tech hacking scheme, called “swatting,” is emerging, and it’s scary as, well, He Who Must Not Be Named or whatever nightmare makes you sweat. The Bad Guys use computers and other equipment to make emergency calls that appear to come from their target’s phone. They then report an ongoing crime that triggers a law enforcement dispatch — and occasionally, armed officers break down a door to stop a crime in progress.

In one recent incident, swatters targeted a man known for his work exposing web hosts and others involved in making it easier for web creeps to scam us, post child pornography, steal credit reports, and do other Bad Things. Read the details on Ride the Lightening, a lawyer’s blog focusing on electronic evidence and security, and ars technica, a blog focused on tech issues.

Then think about what trouble you can cause — on the page.

(I do not personally know either of these bloggers nor their work, and have not verified their accounts. Remember that the purpose of THIS blog is solely to provide information and ideas for fiction writers. People who make stuff up. Swat in Real Life, and you may find yourself in the Big House with Really Bad Guys.)

(And if you’re new to reading Law & Fiction: the Blog, welcome! You can get new posts delivered to your email inbox by subscribing to the email feed, in the gray column on the right side of the screen. Thanks!)

Bail, juveniles, and judicial compassion: a tough intersection

Update 2: The Missoulian reports that on May 24, Isaiah was released following his evaluation, and went home with his grandmother, where his first priority was to get back on his skateboard.

Update: The day after I posted this, Isaiah was transferred to a residential facility for evaluation, and the $500,000 bail was removed. More details from the Billings Gazette. 

I’ve written occasionally, here and in Books, Crooks & Counselors, about factors that go in to decisions on bail, on the juvenile court system, and on the hard decisions judges sometimes have to make. A case playing out in my county right now illustrates the particularly tough situations that sometimes arise.

A young boy — 10 years old — is currently being held in the juvenile portion of a state mental health facility pending a psychiatric evaluation. He has a history of escalating violence, including throwing chairs at school and kicking other students. For a prior incident, he and his family agreed to probation — which he violated through the latest incidents. The District Judge set bail at $500,000 — an amount the family cannot meet — to ensure that he gets a psychiatric evaluation, which cannot be held for at least two more weeks.

Hal a million dollars? For a juvenile? For relatively minor incidents, with no personal injuries involved? It seems extreme, at first glance, and the family is protesting mightily — in court, outside the courthouse, and on Facebook.

But it makes more sense when you hear more facts — especially because a psychiatric evaluation is key to determining what treatment the child needs to resolve his problems — and the family has missed getting him to many of his regularly scheduled counseling sessions and three previously scheduled psych evals. The judge appears to be properly focused on the boy’s best interests, drawing on her experience and compassion as a judge, and no doubt, as a mother.  Story here from the Billings Gazette. I’ll keep you posted.

(Astute readers may wonder why this case is in state court, not tribal court, which typically handles juvenile cases on reservations, like the Flathead, which have ceded felony jurisdiction to the state but kept jurisdiction over misdemeanors and juveniles. Apparently the child is not an enrolled member of a tribe, although he is eligible for membership in a tribe in another state; he is considered a “descendant,” not a member, so jurisdiction belongs to the State of Montana rather than to the local tribal authorities.)

The Case of the Beauty Queen who Turned to Crime

Update: The Daily InterLake reports that on July 30, two days before her scheduled sentencing, federal judge Donald Molloy reversed the former Miss Montana’s conviction by jury and entered an order acquitting her; a detailed order explaining Judge Molloy’s reasoning is expected soon.

Call it Schadenfreude — the pleasure taken from the misfortunes of others — or “downward comparison” in modern psych-speak, but there’s something about a headline proclaiming “Former Beauty Queen Faces Criminal Charges” that draws us all.

medium_3245279438 The Kalispell Daily InterLake reports that a federal jury recently convicted the 1997 Miss Montana of seven counts of mail fraud and one count attempted mail fraud for attempting to defraud her homeowner’s insurance company. Her home, a historic 1903 mansion that once belonged to a sawmill owner but has lapsed far from its once grand state – I’ve been in it, though years before she bought it – was damaged in a windstorm and again in a minor fire. She claimed $15,000 a month for a rental replacement – roughly equivalent to the mansion – when she was actually renting a small cabin with no indoor plumbing. The total was more than $130,000. Her defense included a claim of mental impairment from carbon monoxide poisoning by equipment used in the initial repairs, before she vacated the mansion. She has since lost the home to foreclosure. Its new owners plan the restorations “the yellow house on the hill” richly deserves.

And the Seattle Times reports that in February, on Whidbey Island near Seattle, the 2000 Ms. Washington pled guilty to “rendering criminal assistance” for her part in a murder plot. She was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Her co-conspirator had already been convicted of murder and sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Makes Miss America 1945 Bess Myerson’s shoplifting convictions look like the Amateur Hour.

Once again, you can’t make this stuff up – but have fun trying! Your stories will have that extra bit of appeal – okay, schadenfreude – that will keep us reading!

photo credit

Malice Domestic & Killer Characters — plus a book give-away!

MaliceNow there’s a subject line to catch the eye! If you’ll be at the 25th Annual Malice Domestic convention this weekend — celebrating the traditional mystery — the cozy writers of Killer Characters have a deal for you! Find one of us — we’re all listed on the Killer Characters website — and get a game card listing us and our books. Get two of us to sign it, and put the card in the Killer Characters box in the Silent Auction area of the Hospitality Room. (Cards will also be available there.) Saturday afternoon, we’ll draw three winners.

And what a prize do we have for you! KCbanner 2.5

The grand prize winner will get two books a month for a year — 24 books! Two additional winners will get a book every other month! And we may toss in the occasional bonus book. All books are new releases from the Killer Characters authors.

That’s an opportunity to die for!

Brenda Novak’s On-line Auction for Diabetes Research — win a Montana prize!

NY Times best-selling romantic suspense author Brenda Novak’s annual online auction returns this May — the entire month — with an amazing array of prizes for writers and readers. All proceeds go to juvenile diabetes research — a cause prompted by Brenda’s own son, who has Type 1 diabetes — more than 1.6 MILLION has been raised so far! More from the auction website. 

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My contribution: a signed copy of Death al Dente and a basket of Montana goodies!