The Saturday Writing Quote — commitment

IMGP1940This month’s theme: Commitment and practice

“The daily habit of committing one’s thoughts to writing doesn’t come easily. Writing is a craft that demands daily cultivation and application. One’s mind begins to expand the more one submits oneself to this notion of rigorous, constant craftsmanship.”

— Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette, in Blessings of the Daily: A Monastic Book of Days, entry for 6/26

Hat-tip to reader P.J. Coldren

Carried to the Grave — A Food Lovers’ Village Short Story — free!

CarriedToTheGrave_final_1875I am delighted to announce the release, next week, of CARRIED TO THE GRAVE, my first Food Lovers’ Village Short Story, featuring Erin Murphy and her village neighbor, Wendy the Baker. When Wendy’s family gathers after her grandmother’s funeral, she and Erin discover a decades-old secret that could prove still deadly.

The story will be available free to my newsletter subscribers. The summer edition will go out Tuesday, August 9, and will include the link and password to the Members Only page of my website, where you’ll be able to download the story in mobi, epub, and pdf formats. Newsletter subscribers receive seasonal updates, announcements of new books, and news of special events and giveaways. Subscribe on my website or through this link.

After writing only full-length novels the past few years, I wrote TWO short stories in June! The other is a historical set in Montana in 1885—more on that later!

And if you subscribe to this blog, thank you! The newsletter is separate, and I hope you’ll join my little community. Nonsubscribers will have a chance to buy the story later.

Many thanks!

Leslie 

An interesting experiment with 3D printers and fingerprint locks

medium_706401207 (1)Advances in technology can offer a writer a road block — highly desirable in fiction, where we want to complicate our characters’ quests, unlike real life, where we crave simplicity. But it can also offer creative solutions. That’s one reason I like this story from NPR about two Michigan detectives who sought help from a computer science and engineering prof to print 3D fingerprints to help them unlock a phone belonging to a murder victim. It took the prof, Anil Jain, and his team three tries to find the right combination of printing techniques. Jain says he was happy to help, but also hopes that the work highlights the security limitations of fingerprint locks.

Note, as the story stresses, that this phone belonged to the victim, not a suspect, and the police thought it might hold clues to the killer’s identity, so the privacy concerns presented in other cases weren’t a factor. And there is no word on whether the phone did provide helpful clues.

But the story may give writers a clue: Could your fictional detectives seek help from unlikely sources? Ask yourself what role technology plays in your investigation, and what creative means your detectives—amateur or professional—use to get around the obstacles, or take advantage of them?

E-book sale on Assault & Pepper!

assault and pepper

Great news for readers who prefer to start a series at the beginning, or who haven’t yet taken the trip to Seattle with me! The e-book version of ASSAULT & PEPPER, first in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, is on sale for 1.99 at Amazon,KillingThyme_FC.indd B&N.com, and Kobo!

Not sure how long this bargain will last — but I can tell you the fun continues this fall with the third installment, KILLING THYME, to be released in paper, ebook, AND audio on October 4!

Update: For those of you who love reading on paper, there’s also a price reduction on the 2d book in the series, GUILTY AS CINNAMON! 

Crime and Facebook

medium_706401207 (1)Today’s edition: Can your fictional lawyer tell a fictional character to take down incriminating photos on Facebook? And does a party in a civil lawsuit have to produce social media records?

Short answer: Hey, why not? It’s fiction!

Long answer: 1) Not if you want the lawyer to be smart, upstanding, law-abiding, honorable, ethical, and a candidate for Girl Scout troop leader of the year. And you do, don’t you? That is, of course, a rhetorical question. 2) it depends.

As you’ve heard me say before, your characters can make bad choices about the law and legal ethics, but as the writer, you need to know the consequences. The basic rule is that a lawyer cannot advise a client to do something illegal, including destroying potential evidence. And that applies whether the evidence is a blood-soaked shirt or a photo showing himself with stolen cash. That last is a real-life example, mentioned in a recent article in NW Lawyer, the Washington State Bar Journal, analyzing a lawyer’s ethical duties. In my opinion, there’s no real debate: If a lawyer anticipates that a civil suit or criminal charges may be filed, even if they haven’t yet been filed, she cannot advise her client to take down an account or a posting, and should affirmatively advise him to not do so. Continued posting is probably okay, as long as the lawyer makes very clear that the client should not post on any thing remotely related to the case — because that can be hard to define, I’d go further and suggest a social media moratorium, except perhaps for business purposes if the legal issues didn’t involve the business.

So, does a party to a civil lawsuit have to provide the other side access to his or her private Facebook account? (Or Twitter, or Instagram, or any other social media platform.) I researched this issue when the plaintiff’s lawyer in a personal injury case requested all social media account info, including passwords, and postings from my client, a truck driver and defendant in a suit over a relatively minor car-truck collision. My client did have a private Facebook page; as soon as suit was filed, I advised him to make no updates or changes to it, and not to post on it, and he complied. (Although some changes aren’t in the account holder’s control; he’d just gotten married, and when his wife changed her page to mention marrying him, the change occurred on his, too — but I wasn’t worried about explaining that if we had to!)

The general rule, in Montana and other states, is that a party can’t go on a fishing expedition in social media accounts any more than it could do so in other records. Account holders are allowed a certain measure of privacy. Note that an account isn’t protected simply because it’s been designated private. In most states, courts generally require a requesting party to make “a threshold showing that publicly available information on those sites undermines the [other party’s] claims.” Keller v. National Farmers Union Property & Casualty Co., decided by the U.S. District Court for Montana, Jan. 2, 2013

In our case, the plaintiff made no effort to show that the driver’s postings were relevant, and I had no trouble refusing access. (Never would I have provided passwords without a court order.) But situations differ, and so does state law. If a party’s physical condition or injuries are at issue, I can see a court granting a request to produce photos posted online after the date of the alleged injury — it’s relevant to know whether a plaintiff claiming a wrist injury returned to her weekly bowling league shortly after the accident, or now sits on the sidelines lifting only a beer.