Wanta buy a courthouse?

Have a hankering to pound a gavel on a bench? To slide your bottom across old wood pews made glossy with decades of use? To huddle in your own private holding cell? Or just to own a former federal courthouse? Now’s your chance. The GSA is selling the 221,000 square foot building in Billings, Montana to the highest bidder. It even comes with a sculpted metal wall mural of Montanans at work. (And with a ton of asbestos, although if the buyer doesn’t alter the building much, removal is apparently not required.) More specs and photos from the Billings Gazette.  And no, I have no idea how you might use this in your fiction — but I thought you’d want to know anyway!

(Photo of Lyndon Pomeroy mural from the Billings Gazette.)

Discounted pre-orders for Death al Dente

Planning ahead? Love a bargain? Amazon is currently discounting all paperback mysteries from Berkley, Obsidian & Signet (all part of Penguin) by 10% — including pre-orders on Death al Dente. So pop on over and place your pre-order now—which will give you plenty of time to plan how to spend the 80 cents you save!

Seriously, pre-orders are hugely important—especially to new authors like me—because publishers use them to gauge which books are more likely to succeed, and give those books an extra boost. So if you place a pre-order, Ruff the Cat (seen at left, disguised as Mr. Sandburg) will be eternally grateful.

Crimes beyond explanation: horse hair theft

We’re talking horse manes. Seriously. Last summer, 63 horses in Wyoming got their manes and tail hair cut mysteriously. According to this report in the Billings Gazette, three more horses were victimized in February, again near Casper. Horse hair is used for musical bows, hat bands, paintbrushes, bridles, and even jewelry.

This Toronto Star account says there’s also a growing trade in horse hair used to make show horses tails and manes appear fuller.  Thefts have been reported in Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, and British Columbia, but likely also occur elsewhere. Regrowing the hair can take years.

If you’re inclined to make such a purchase, consider asking for assurance that the horse hair was collected legally and humanely.

Go ahead. Use that in fiction. I dare you.

Another prosecutor killed — and a prayer

Two months ago, I wrote twice in two days about lawyers who were shot and killed because of their work — Mark Hummels, a civil attorney in Phoenix, and Mark Hasse, an assistant county attorney in Texas, in a county near Dallas.  And in March, Colorado Director of Corrections Tom Clements was murdered.

Now it seems that Hasse’s boss and his wife, Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia, have been murdered in their home. Here’s the Washington Post account. Why? We don’t know yet.

Because I believe everything we do and say has reverberations in the world far beyond what we know, I urge you to find a way to transform your anger and fear into a deep desire — the deepest desire you can muster — for peace and justice in the world. Because anger and fear do us no good unless we use them for good.