02 November 2018

The Complexity • Plausibility Intersection

by Janice Law

How about that title? In another life I spent time in academia and learned that a fancy title is better than an intelligible essay. However, pretension aside, the tension between complexity and plausibility remains one of the troubling features of our favorite genre.

It does seem unfortunate that the red herrings, misdirections, and deceptions of one sort or another so dear to the hearts of mystery writers and readers are usually the least plausible story features. Indeed, the more ingenious the puzzles the less realistic the plot. I may have been the only reader disenchanted with The DaVinci Code but I’ll bet I was not the only one who had to jettison all expectation of reality.

Worse, the more intricate the plot – and as someone who has always struggled with plotting I have the greatest admiration for the well-wrought narrative – the less memorable the story. Think about it: the great crime and punishment plots are the simple ones, in some cases, with the denoument foretold. In contrast, how many of us can remember more than the briefest impression of even the best crime novels? The reason, of course, is that in the service of mystification and suspense, the story inevitably loses simplicity in twists and surprises.
Don't listen to witches

This makes a good mystery fun to read but hard to remember, compared to say, Macbeth, which can be summarized in a phrase: witches’ prophesy drives noble Scot to regicide, tyranny and disaster. Try to summarize the life trajectory of the characters in Gone Girl, as compared to the biography of the ill fated Oedipus Rex: Abandoned king’s son returns to unknowingly kill father, marry mother; plague ensues. Simpler yet is the tale of Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment: Student kills pawnbroker and has regrets.

Oedipus
There is no suspense in any of these, except the uneasy anticipation of the worst, and red herrings and clever plot are superfluous. The narrative line goes straight to the jugular, and once the action gets underway, the narrative is not just plausible but inevitable.

Few modern mystery writers will be so fortunate as to construct a plot as simple, powerful, and memorable as the classic crime tragedies, although John Steinbeck contributed a great novella of crime and sorrow with Of Mice and Men. Instead, rather surprisingly in a genre so reliant on action and plotting, the lasting memories of our favorites really rely on atmosphere and character.

With the possible exception of Who Killed Roger Ackroyd, the clever twists of Agatha Christie plots are lost to oblivion. Fortunately she created two iconic detectives in Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. They are what one remembers along with those toxic country houses, vengeful small towns, and dangerous resorts.

Ditto for Raymond Chandler whose plots were never very watertight but whose Philip Marlowe, stylized diction, and lush California settings remain indelible. Dorothy Sayers, like Agatha Christie, was fortunate to create two great protagonists with Lord Peter and Harriet Vane. Their plots are forgotten but not her characters, nor her snobbish delight in top nation venues and the heyday of the class system.

More recently, we have had detectives like Kurt Wallander, Bernie Gunther, Thomas Lynley, Barbara Havers, Commissaire Adamsberg, and Adam Dalgleish, all enjoyable to read with delightfully complex – but ultimately forgettable plots. Instead, we remember Gunther’s ghastly WW2 East front setting, Adamsberg’s dreamy eccentricities, Wallander’s decline into dementia, Lynley’s romantic tragedy, Havers’ dogged persistence, Dalgleish’s poetry.

Clever devices and complex narratives propel novels to the best seller list. But what lingers in the reader’s mind are character and atmosphere. And what gives writers long careers are memorable protagonists. The plots can be – and maybe must be, given market trends – exaggerated, the characters must still be plausible if the work is to linger in the mind.

Getting the balance right is difficult. I suspect that the tension between exciting (and surprising) action and the plausibly human is the reason why, despite excellent, sometimes brilliant, writing even the best crime fiction is set a step below contemporary or literary novels.

01 November 2018

What It Means To Be A Veteran

by Brian Thornton

With Halloween in the rear-view mirror, and the centennial of the agreement which ended the "War to End All Wars" a scant ten days away, I've decided my blog entry this time in the rotation will be an adaptation of a speech I recently gave at a local high school, on the topic of "What It Means To Be A Veteran."

My name is Brian Thornton, and I am a veteran.

I am fifty-three years old, happily married and the father of a six year-old son. I am a writer and teacher: the author of nine books (with two more on the way) and it has been my privilege to teach Ancient & Medieval World History here in the Seattle area, for the past sixteen years.

But before I became a writer, before I began my career as a teacher, before my time in college training to be a teacher, before I moved to the Seattle area, before I got married and started a family, I lived a very different life, in very different locales, doing a very different job.

But more on that in a moment.

Now, I’m an historian, so I’d like to start off with a few words about the date on which we celebrate Veterans’ Day. It was only after my time in the military that I understood the significance of November 11th as the date we choose to honor our veterans. Far from being some random date on the calendar, November 11th was chosen for a very specific reason. Originally called “Armistice Day,” it marks the anniversary of the signing of the cease-fire agreement that effectively ended the First World War. Dubbed by turns “The Great War,” and “The War to End All Wars,”- this conflict resulted in the deaths of over 16 million people- only 9 million of them combatants- during its four years (1914-1918).

Nearly 20,000 men died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916: the single bloodiest day in British history.
The First World War redrew national boundaries, toppled empires, wrecked a continent, and wiped an entire generation from the earth as surely as the swipe of an eraser removes ink from a whiteboard. By 1918 society had been so thoroughly rocked by the havoc this conflict wrought, that many people began to believe that they were witnessing the death throes of society itself- that civilization would literally cease to exist.

United States marines engage German troops at the battle of Belleau Wood in 1918.

So the men who negotiated and signed this armistice (and they were all men. Human beings had yet to awaken to the importance of having the wisdom and experience of women at the table during negotiations like these), believed that with their actions, they were literally saving human civilization from eventual collapse and humanity itself from likely extinction.

Allied peace commissioners in November 1918
And so they arranged for the cease-fire to go into effect on a symbolic date: literally at 11 o’clock in the morning, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year- hence the phrase “at the 11th hour”- a phrase that we use to this very day, in describing disaster being averted at the “last minute.”

I cannot help but find it fitting that we choose such a date to pause and take note of the contributions made to this country by our veterans. After all, it is the most American of traditions to take a painful memory and to substitute a hopeful one for it.

And to speak of the contributions, the sacrifices, of our veterans, is to speak of hope. Hope is an aspirational emotion, born of a desire for something greater, something better. People motivated by hope can achieve incredible things. America itself was founded on hope. Countless millions have flocked to this country from every corner of the planet, motivated by hope- hope for something bigger, greater, deeper. And they hope to find what they’re seeking in America, a place that the great poet Bruce Springsteen has dubbed “The Land of Hope and Dreams.”

Over the past two-plus centuries our citizen soldiers have answered their country’s call time and again out of a sense of dedication to that country, and to that hope. Such loyalty, such patriotism makes of mere countries the greatest of nations.

As the service of veterans has helped to transform America, so, too has it had a transformational effect on those who served, as well.

With my maternal grandparents in 1987
I served as a quartermaster in the United States Navy from 1985 to 1989. A quartermaster’s job is to serve as principal navigator onboard ship, and as an expert cartographer (a “map maker”) on land.

During my time in the navy I visited every continent on the planet, with the exception of Antarctica.

I lived and worked with thousands of different people, from a wide variety of ethnic, economic, and geographic backgrounds. I experienced places and cultures and sights and smells and tastes that I never knew existed. It was a far cry from my childhood growing up in Eastern Washington.

I cannot overstate the effect that serving my country during those four years had on me. My worldview was radically changed as a result of that experience, and while it was not an easy journey, I cannot stress enough how important my military service has been to me in the years since my discharge in 1989.

My brother Paul–Christmas, Mid-1990s
The military taught me so much. Patience, mostly. And more patience. And then….still more. Those of you with a veteran in your family, ask them about the phrase “Hurry up, and wait.” See what reaction you get.

In the navy I learned to get along with people with whom I had nothing in common, other than the shared experience of serving our country. The navy brought me into close contact with people I might never otherwise have gotten to know. One of the life skills I value most is the ability to work well with people you may not like very much. Another is the ability to get past initial differences and find things to admire in others, things you might not have noticed on first acquaintance. The navy taught me how to do both of these things, and so much more.

My Dad graduating from flight school, 1969
None of this should have come as much of a surprise to me. You see, when it came to the military, I had a reservoir of previously acquired knowledge to rely upon at home while I was growing up. My father flew Huey gunships in Vietnam. Two uncles served in the navy. One retired from the Coast Guard. My grandfather was a tail-gunner in both B-17s and B-29s, flying bombing sorties over both Germany and Japan during World War II. Much of my childhood was spent listening to stories, not only of battle, but of boredom, “unintelligent” leadership, pranks played, and fast friendships formed.

Once I had served my own hitch, I had my own stories to tell. Tales of bad food, long work days, freezing cold watches stood on piers in faraway places with hard-to-pronounce names. And the exploits of “my buddies,” guys I served with. Guys I’ll never forget, like them, love them, or hate them. My younger brother did his own hitch in the army, serving as a crew chief onboard Chinook helicopters. And he in turn brought home his own stories.

My grandfather & great-uncle during World War II
I have a lot of veterans in my family, including ones like my cousin, Ronald Quigley, who never lived to tell their stories. You see, my cousin Ronnie died while serving as an artilleryman in Vietnam. You can find his name inscribed with those of the other honored dead from that war on the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I was three years old when he died. All I have left of him are some jumbled memories from his going-away party when he left for Vietnam.

And yet, my cousin, and those others whose lights were snuffed out too early, who never lived to tell their stories, the ones who, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, gave “the last, full measure of devotion” to this country, they deserve to be remembered. To be celebrated. To be honored.

And we, as a nation, have an obligation to keep their memory alive, to keep them from becoming just another name on just another war memorial. To help the citizens of this great nation remember the terrible cost incurred every time young people answer their country’s call to arms. To serve with honor, and to be transformed utterly by the experience.

And that leads me to the crux of this speech. Because, once you’ve lived it, once you’ve taken the oath, once you’ve stood the watches, and fought to stay awake, and been afraid, and laughed, and argued, and sweated, and ached, and bled, and loved and cried, all in the service of your country, like it or not, you’ve become a part of something larger than yourself.

A fraternity.

A family.

A group of women and men who have sworn to protect this nation. Who have made its continued existence their personal responsibility.

And it doesn’t change much once your hitch is up. Once you’ve done your bit, you’re a member for life. And for ever afterward.

That’s what being a veteran is.

31 October 2018

My Spooky Moment

by Robert Lopresti

Happy Halloween!  May you be visited by enough costumed children to entertain you and not so many that they get  all the good candy and leave you with the healthy stuff.

I have been pondering what to write about today and decided to tell about my one-and-only brush with the supernatural.

Now, I need to explain that I am not a fan of such stuff.  I have no belief in ghosts, an afterlife, or monsters.  Things that go bump in the night are, in my experience, usually restless cats.

But there was this one time...

It happened in late August, about twenty years ago.  I was bicycling home from work, my usual form of commute, and I was thinking about a couple of songs I had been invited to perform at a friend's birthday party that night.  I turned the corner onto one of the busiest streets on my city and--

After that everything fades away.  I am sure you are familiar with pointilism, those paintings made up of individual dots?  Well, that is how my memory of that moment feels.  I can see the city scene and then it shifts into individual dots and disappears to black.

As I found out later, I had fallen off my bicycle and sustained a concussion.

The next thing I remember I was in a long black tunnel.  There was a bright but fuzzy light at the end of it and I sensed that I was being drawn farther away from that light.  I heard someone call my name.

Some of you may recognize that this event contains many elements common to what are called near-death-experiences.  People who have had such events often report that their whole view of the world has been changed by them.

And indeed, if I had blacked out at that moment I imagine my philosophy might be quite different than it is now.

But I didn't lose consciousness again.  And I slowly realized that the dark tunnel was actually the inside of an ambulance.  The light at the end of the tunnel was the sunny afternoon outside.  It was fuzzy because my glasses were broken.  The sensation of being drawn away from the light was caused by my being strapped onto a gurney which was being pushed deeper into the ambulance.  And the voice calling my name?  A paramedic calling the hospital to tell them who was coming.

Disappointing, I know.  There went my one chance to write a bestselling memoir of my visit to the afterlife.

So, on the whole, not as spooky a story as you might have hoped for.  But there are pleasures to be found in the real world too.  Snag yourself a candy bar before the goblins grab 'em all.

Oh, and one last trick or treat.  What do these two book covers have to do with Halloween?  Answer will be in the comments.

30 October 2018

Lights, Camera, Action! My Experience in Making a Book Trailer

I can't remember when I first met Leigh Perry. Was it at Malice Domestic or at Bouchercon? Was she promoting one of her great mystery series (yes, plural!) or one of her award-winning short stories? That I don't remember either. What I do remember is how over the nearly two decades I've known her, Leigh has proven herself to be one of the kindest, friendliest people I've met in the mystery community. She's someone who stands up for what's right, who isn't afraid of taking a risk, and who encourages others to believe in themselves. I'm proud to call her my friend, and I'm so pleased that she's guest blogging for us today on SleuthSayers. Oh, and if you're thinking the name Leigh Perry is familiar, but isn't it a pen name? Why, yes it is. You may know this wonderful author by her real name, Toni L.P. Kelner, under which she's published books and stories, too. You should check them out. And with that, I will let her take it from here.  


--- Barb Goffman

Lights, Camera, Action! My Experience in Making a Book Trailer
by Leigh Perry

You know how in the movies, Mickey Rooney would suddenly announce, “Hey, my father has a barn! Let’s put on a show!” That’s about the same logic I used when deciding to produce a book trailer for The Skeleton Makes a Friend, my forthcoming Family Skeleton book. Only it wasn’t a barn that was available—it was an animator. My daughter Maggie has been creating artwork for book promotion for years, and she just happens to have a degree in animation. She’s mostly doing freelance work right now, so I knew I could sweet-talk her into animating a trailer for me. (I paid for her tuition to art school, and am not ashamed to take advantage of that.)

Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have done one. I’d never done one before, and I wasn’t sure how effective they are when it comes to selling books. In fact, one author I spoke to said she didn’t think hers affected sales at all—she only did them because her fans seemed to enjoy them so. Then again, I don’t think anybody knows how effective anything is when it comes to selling books, and I like trying different things. And Maggie was willing.

The first step was for me to write a script. I decided that it should be fairly light-hearted to reflect the tone of the books. You see, I write about a walking, talking skeleton named Sid. There’s a limit to how dark-n-gritty I can get. And it needed to be short. I polled authors and publicists, and while some trailers go as long as two or three minutes, the sweet spot is 30 to 40 seconds. For the format, Maggie pointed toward the script for the animated feature The Iron Giant, and I used that as my model.

So I wrote my first script since fifth grade (when I wrote, directed, and starred in “A Visit From Mrs. Santa Claus”).


MEET SID

PRODUCTION NOTE: I’m thinking using words instead of sound. Music in the background. Bad to the Bone? A 30-second video, 45/60 seconds top. It can be mostly black and white, I think, with some pops of color. Simple backgrounds like the art you’ve done for Sid in the past. Can even do some Ken Burns style fades and such, but would like some actual movement.

TEXT

Meet Sid.

Sid appears and does something… Opens a door from the attic and comes down or comes out of the armoire or looks up from a computer. And smiles. Perhaps waves

TEXT

Sid is not your typical skeleton.
He walks, he talks, he tells bad bone jokes.

Sid walks, talks (via a word balloon), and tells a joke in a word balloon (A skeleton walked into a bar and said, “Give me a beer and a mop.”)

TEXT

He lives with the his best friend Georgia and her family.

Georgia walks in, with maybe a family picture of the rest of the characters: Madison, Georgia’s parents, Georgia’s sister Deborah.

TEXT

And the dog.

Byron runs in and steals Sid’s leg. Georgia grabs it from him, and returns it to Sid.

TEXT

Together, Georgia and Sid solve crimes.

Sid pulls out the book covers from the first four books, and puts them where they can be seen. Ken Burns approach maybe?

TEXT

When one of Sid’s online gaming buddies disappears,
he and Georgia take the case…

Sid and Georgia walking down a hall in an old office admin building, looking stealthy.

TEXT

And find murder!

Sid and Georgia open a door labeled HUMAN RESOURCES, and looked shocked and/or scared. Maybe even appalled, with a word balloon: Coccyx!

TEXT

That’s when things get dangerous.

A burning building, with Sid and Georgia running toward it.

TEXT

Make Friends with Sid!
November 6, 2018

Maybe zoom in on the book cover. And fade out…



I sent the script to Maggie and after we tweaked it, she got to work on character design. Maggie had drawn Sid lots of times, but he lives with Georgia Thackery and her family, and we wanted them to look right, too. Maggie sent me a storyboard of the family:


It wasn’t quite right, so Maggie and I went back and forth a few times. The end result was this:


Then came discussions over the look of the family dog and other details. Once the design was set, Maggie created a kind of sketch cartoon called an animatic.



Maggie started actually animating scenes, and produced a number of drafts before I showed it to my agent, editor, and publicist to see what they thought. Though they liked the concept, they agreed that it went too fast—nobody could read the words as quickly as they appeared on screen.

Our choices were to either spend more time on each scene, which would make the trailer too long, or to trim the script. I decided to combine a couple of short scenes, and to delete the one with the burning building. That gave us more time per scene and kept it at 40 seconds total.

After a few more drafts, we had a full version we were happy with, but it was still silent. Maggie told me there were royalty-free music sites to go through to find music, and recommended https://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/. My first reaction was panic because there were so many choices, but it turned out to be easier than I’d feared. I only listened to about six before finding the perfect one. I played “Improbable” in one window while I played the latest version of the trailer in another, and not only was the style a great fit, but the crescendo matched the “MURDER!” scene. We had a winner! Maggie added it to the trailer, and we were ready to go!

But where were we going? How and when was I going to distribute the trailer? I did another informal poll of publicists and authors, and decided to wait until October 1, which was just over a month until the release date. Then I hit social media: Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. On Facebook, I made sure to post it in a bunch of different mystery-related groups, and I asked everybody to repost and retweet. I also paid for a Facebook ad to reach more people.

The reaction was gratifyingly enthusiastic. Not only did my existing readers say they enjoyed it, I got quite a few responses from people who hadn’t read the series before. My Amazon numbers improved for the week, too. Overall, I’m satisfied with the attempt.

Knowing what I know now, would I do it for another book? Honestly, I’m not sure. It was fun to work on a creative project with my daughter—Maggie said I was an excellent client. It didn’t cost much because Maggie didn’t charge me, so my only outlay was $30 to license the music and $60 for the Facebook ad. Plus Maggie has another piece for her portfolio, which helps as she seeks full-time work. (Which reminds me... Maggie is currently taking commissions for designs, logos, and other projects. You can contact her via www.dappercap.net.)

Of course, the real litmus test will be the sales figures when The Skeleton Makes a Friend comes out next week, and of course my finger-bones are crossed for that. In the meantime, let me present the finished book trailer. I hope watching it convinces you to make friends with Sid.

29 October 2018

I'm Only Fakin' It

by Steve Liskow

A few days ago, one of my favorite writing workshop venues announced that they're offering a four-week class in songwriting to start in November. It required no knowledge of music (Always a plus in my case), but said voices and instruments were welcome. How many of each will show up is an intriguing question--I love synecdoche-- but I won't be one of them.
Bill Arnold on the keyboard is a real musician and songwriter. Beldon the bass player is a multi-intrumentalist. I'm just trying to stay out of their way as we rehearse Bill's musical.


I play guitar adequately and have a keyboard I punish occasionally but can't really play. I have a basic understanding of music theory, too, but songwriting is a mystery to me, like brain surgery, drawing, and serious cooking. I have two recipes, and one of them is coffee. I already have enough skills I'm poor at without tormenting people with bad songs, too.

Oddly, I've written three stories with a fictitious song that's crucial to the plot. In Blood on the Tracks,
I wrote enough lyrics for a song so people could understand how Woody Guthrie put two and two (or maybe that should be four-four) together and tied the song to two characters he was investigating. I knew just enough theory to figure out how a good musician could make a mistake playing that song in the studio, too. I have a vague idea what the song might sound like, but that's all. It was enough.

A few years later, "Look What They've Done to My Song, Mom" used a non-existent tune, too. Someone claims the song was plagiarized from him and he ends up dead mere paragraphs later. That happens in my stuff. I didn't write the music, but I discussed the rhymes and rhyme scheme in the verses so people could fill in the blanks. I know most of the words but have never really thought about the melody or chords.

I have another story that's out looking for a home and gathering rejections along the way that has my most complete non-song yet. I wrote five verses that tell a story nobody understands (I was channeling the Sherlock Holmes story "The Musgrave Ritual") and the characters have to figure out the music by listening to an old cassette. The song is loosely based on old Appalachian ballads and I know the chords and melody pretty well. If that story ever sells, maybe I'll try to put the whole thing together and play it at an open mic--and see if I can pass it off as an obscure oldie.
Bill again, in the hat. Kit Webb, in red, plays about five instruments well.

I'd love to have people think it was a "real" song. I don't see myself writing any more of them unless I come up with another story idea that calls for it.

A little learning may be a dangerous thing, or it may be just enough to get by. What do you think?

28 October 2018

The Rashomon Effect

by R.T. Lawton

In 1922, a short story titled "In a Grove" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa was published in the January edition of the Japanese monthly, Shincho. This short story tells a tale about the rape of a samurai's wife and the subsequent murder of that samurai from the point of view of several different characters, and with contradictory information from one character to the next.

Twenty-eight years later, movie director Akira, Kurosawa (famous director of The Seven Samurai) used Akutagawa's short story as the basis to make his 1950 film, Rashomon. Similar to the short story, Rashomon is a tale told by four witnesses to a rape and murder: the bandit, the samurai's wife, the murdered samurai who tells his part through a medium, and a woodcutter who appears to have no bias in his telling. All of the witnesses seem to agree on some facts, but disagree on others. These disagreements on the same incident though, may be subjective, self-serving or due to the ego of that witness. Because of the contradictions in the stories of each witness, the actors in this film asked the director which version was the truth. Kurosawa replied that his film was meant to explore multiple realities rather than just one truth.

Then along comes Martin Ritt, who remakes the Japanese Rashomon into a 1964 American western titled The Outrage. Paul Newman is cast in the role of the bandit Juan Carrasco, William Shatner as a disillusioned preacher, Howard Da Silva as an unsuccessful prospector, Edward G. Robinson as a cynical conman. and Paul Fix as an old Indian shaman. Laurence Harvey plays an aristocratic Southerner married to Nina, who is played by Claire Bloom. At the bandit's trial, Juan (Paul Newman) claims he killed the husband (the Southerner) in a duel. The wife claims she stabbed her husband to death because he blamed her for encouraging the bandit, which led to the rape, while the dead husband (through the old Indian shaman) claimed he committed suicide as the manner of his death. The prospector has a fourth version for the trial.

In later years, television and movies used The Rashomon Effect to reveal "the truth" in the final version of some of their stories, which put a neat and tidy ending on those Hollywood's stories. However, in real life, a Rashomon effect is more like what cops deal with on the street whenever an incident happens, especially one that involves the emotions or prejudices of the witnesses. By the time interviews start with an incident involving law enforcement, the recollection of the events and timeline, descriptions of perpetrators and vehicles, types of guns or if there actually were any guns and/or the type and color of clothing worn by alleged suspects can vary quite a bit.

For our purposes as writers, The Rashomon Effect may be defined as a story told by several witnesses or alleged witnesses to the same incident. Each story as told by a separate witness and from their Point of View, will have some of the facts straight, but their story may also be colored or influenced by their personal biases, opinions, or even flavored to benefit themselves or others. Each witness story will contradict some of the alleged facts in the stories of other witnesses. The final version may be "the truth." Or not.

Curiosity led me to research The Roshomon Effect. And now that I have, I'm intrigued enough with the process to attempt a short story using that method. I already have the main characters and a skeleton plot mapped out. Now, I merely need to write my six-part story and see if all the contradictory parts fit.

But then, it's always something, isn't it?

#

And now for a little Blatant Self-Promotion:

The November/December 2018 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine has my story, "Vet's Day," 11th in my Holiday Burglars series. As with many of the titles in this series, I like putting double meanings into the title. In this episode, Beaumont finds himself compelled to do a favor for his old Army First Sergeant who once had Beaumont running an off-the-books NCO Club in a Muslim country in exchange for an early out from the military. Due to a lack of personal funds, Beaumont figures the only way he can complete the favor now asked by his old sergeant is for him to commit a strange burglary. And, in order to talk his partner Yarnell into going along with him on this job, Beaumont must agree to something that Yarnell wants in return.

NOTE: Fellow SleuthSayers Michael Bracken and Rob Lopresti also have short stories in this issue.

Catch ya later.

27 October 2018

Just in Time for Hallowe'en! Books I will Never Write Part 1: Dino Porn

By Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)

Apparently, I have been sounding too normal these days.  There have been complaints. The following is an attempt to rectify that.

People pay money for the weirdest reads.  Don't believe me?

DINOSAUR PORN

Yes, you heard that right.  This is a 'thing.'  No, I don't mean porn that randy male dinosaurs might read, involving somewhat sassy females of the same species who like a good time.  Last I checked, dinosaurs couldn't read.  Not even the urban ones.

But I'm not here to talk about that.  I'm not even going to talk about the weirdness of someone wanting to *write* about sexual relations between a human of today and a creature that might possibly have become extinct during an ice storm back in the good old days.  All writers are weird.  Some are more weird than others (thank you, George Orwell.)

Nope.  I'm here to talk about the blatant inequality in the dinosaur porn field.  Not only that, in ALL areas of human/not-even-remotely-human erotica.

Don't believe me?  Have you noticed that all these erotic books that star humans and some other race like Vampires or Werewolves or Aliens or Ducks (hey - has it been done?) always feature a girl with the Vampire or Werewolf?  Or in our case, a girl with the T-Rex?

Why is it always that way around?  Never do you see a young man being pursued by, say, a randy female dino.  I have to assume female dinos are more discriminating.

So in the interests of fair play, just in time for Hallowe'en, I offer my version of Dino porn.

It might go like this:

"La, la, lalalala, la, lala, la la..." <innocent young female stegosaurus frolics among the Precambrian (whatever) wild-flowers, unaware that she is about to be approached from behind>

"Hey hey," says health male homo sapien, who obviously time-traveled here from another era.  "You on Tinder, babe?"

"Tinder?" says Steggy-gal, unfamiliar with the vernacular.  "Isn't this a grassland?"


"How about I just show you my equipment?" says creepy guy, who might possibly be blind.  "I'll just take it out here...oops, no.  That's my phone."

"Oh! There's a butterfly!" says Steggy-gal, easily distracted.

"HA," says creep, lining up to do the dirty.  "Bet ya never had it like THIS before!"

"Gee, these flies are a nuisance," says Steggy, batting the annoyance away with her spiked tale.  "Why do they always hang around THAT end..."

"YEOOOOOOOW"

Okay, enough pastiche-ing around.  It's discimination, pure and simple.  Okay, maybe not pure.  And possibly more complicated than simple.  All those extra bits.  Which reminds me.  Girl with a Squid comes out in 2019.

Melodie Campbell writes some pretty wild comedy.  She even gets paid to do it, by poor unsuspecting publishers.  Check out her many series at www.melodiecampbell.com


26 October 2018

More about Rejections ... again

More about Rejections ... again
by O'Neil De Noux

Got a polite rejection the other day from the editor of a publication inundated with submissions. In the rejection, the editor felt I would, "... soon sell the story elsewhere."

I have great affection and respect for this editor and well, that's how it goes. Sometimes you get accepted, sometimes you don't. I know the story I sent is a good story. As I read the rejection, it felt familiar, like going into my bedroom to take a nap. Somewhere I belong.

The editor has accepted many of my stories in the past and it is always a thrill when a story is accepted. Sometimes you get accepted, sometimes you don't.

Having a story rejected is never as bad as walking across the dance floor to ask a girl to dance and having to walk back alone across the dance floor because there are witnesses at the dance.

The best part of it all is being in the game, being able to send a good story to a good publication. So, I take a nap (naps come easily the older I get) then get back to writing.

The bottom line is to write a story too good to be rejected.

It has been a long, hot summer of writing and more writing and getting the work done. I'm thankful for that. This week we had a couple cool fronts roll through New Orleans and when that happens in October it means (to us) hurricane season might just be over. No matter what we do down here, from June to November we check the National Hurricane Center and local weather channels regularly because a monster can be out there over the warm waters of the South Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Bay of Campeche or Gulf of Mexico. The ghosts of Hurricanes Audrey, Betsy, Camille, Andrew, Katrina, Rita and so many lesser storms haunt us.

We were lucky this year, not even a tropical storm came our way, and we fell terrible for those who got hit by the big water-big wind monsters.


Just a photo of trees in Covington, LA

That's all for now.

http://www.oneildenoux.com

25 October 2018

October Chills

by Eve Fisher

It's October in South Dakota, and the leaves are turning, where they're not just being whipped off the trees by bellowing winds.  It's pheasant season, so there are a lot of people in camouflage, carrying weapons, running around.  At least, I hope they're pheasant hunters.  Play safe, boys, and remember that pheasants are pretty dumb and pretty skittish!

It's also election season, and if I see one more political ad, it will be too late.  If I were god-empress of the universe, I'd ban them all.  For one thing, they cost a fortune, millions are being spent that could go to something useful, like education, or perhaps putting a few more poverty-level full-time employees (like teachers) back on Medicaid, now that the last shreds of the ACA is being gutted like a fish.

As a freeze-dried hippie liberal, I've been just standing in shock when I hear the President of the United States declare that we are all "radical socialists, Venezuela, open borders, the party of crime."  (Washington Examiner)  And then there's the Future45 (dark money super pac) "Any Democrat" ad runs every single morning on the national news, claiming that voting for "any Democrat" will lead to "screaming, violence, smears, and death threats..." if anyone votes for any Democrat.  Really?  As Bette Midler said, "What do they think we're gonna do, attack them with our PBS gift bags?"


Meanwhile, as of this very morning (October 24, 2018), there have been explosive devices mailed to the homes of George Soros, Bill and Hilary Clinton, and former President Barack Obama, as well John Brennan at the offices of CNN and Maxine Waters at her offices.  (New York Times)  Since I do not believe for one second that these bombs were manufactured and sent by liberal operatives, my question is,
"Has the Republican base been ginned up enough yet?"  
Or do we have to have another Charlottesville, this time with more victims?

Meanwhile, our South Dakota gubernatorial race has hit the national news, because for the first time in forty years, there's a viable Democratic candidate.
Billie Sutton (D) is running against Kristi Noem (R) and they both look good on a horse:

  Image result for kristi noem on horseback 
Noem retweets hubby's crop insurance biz 2016-05-30.
(In fact in one ad, Sutton had his whole family up and riding the ranch.)  They're both ranchers, they've both served for years in the South Dakota legislature, and Noem, of course, more recently was our Representative to the US Congress.

Sutton also has a strong personal story:  a professional rodeo rider in his young days (top 30 worldwide), in 2007, a horse flipped upside down on top of him in a chute, paralyzing him from the waist down.  Even though he's in a wheelchair for life (he rides in a special saddle) he still ranches, still rides, still works.  He is also an investment counselor.

Noem's husband owns and operates Noem Insurance, which sells federally subsidized crop insurance (see Rep. Noem's interesting retweet on the right, put out on her Congressional feed).  Kristi's family farm - the Racota Valley Ranch, still hosts fishers and hunters - pheasant, turkey and waterfowl - with a lodge and bunkhouse.

Disclaimer:  I have never voted for Kristi Noem, who has consistently voted against authorizing and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, for a variety of non-reasons.  (Dakota Free Press and its links)

Meanwhile, November 6th - election day!  And even better, November 7th - no more political ads!

Image may contain: text







24 October 2018

Wet Work Redux (the Saudi Sanction)

David Edgerley Gates

Russian military intelligence, the GRU, has always had an adversary relationship with KGB, state security, and in particular with KGB's foreign directorates. (Now known as SVR; the domestic side of the shop is the FSB.) GRU has an unhappy reputation for being ham-handed, and some of their more recent adventures seem to bear that reputation out. The poison attack on Sergei Skripal, in the UK, was reportedly a GRU operation, and certainly there have been others. But this quite possibly misses the point. Far from hiding their light under a bushel, GRU is going out of their way to sign their name.

(In my Cold War spy thriller Black Traffic, KGB general Rzhevsky uses GRU as a patsy in a deception operation, and refers to them as the 'Boots.' I didn't make this up. KGB has always thought these guys were knuckle-draggers.)

For all that Vladimir Putin himself is former KGB, he doesn't have a soft spot for his old crew. GRU and Spetsnaz units were deployed in Donbass and the Crimea, both as irregulars and in uniform, and got results. GRU's higher visibility and preference for muscle over mind looks like a sales strategy. It's no secret Putin favors the blunt instrument, but the new wrinkle here is the lack of plausible deniability. In the past, there was at least the pretense of maintaining a cover story. These days, nobody even makes the effort. The reasoning is brutally simple. Terror tactics don't work unless you show your handwriting. Give fear your own face.

Assassination as a covert means has a long history, but let's confine ourselves to living memory. Everybody's practiced it. CIA probably had a hand in Patrice Lumumba's death, and famously tried more than once for Castro. Mossad went after Black September, and decapitated the PFLP. It depends, to some degree, on whose ox is being gored. And you can argue that Israel, for example, is addressing a direct threat to its existence. But that's a kind of moral relativism. All the same, making it policy to murder reporters - instead of some guy who can design a gas centrifuge - is kicking it up a notch. Which brings us to Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi royal family.

Again, we have the Russian model to follow. Putin has supposedly sanctioned dozens of killings, aside from defectors, the Skripals and Litvinenkos of this world, but people like Anna Politkovskaya, who was targeted because of her writings about the Chechen wars, and her opposition to Putin's rebranded Stalinism. She's just one example, of course, and her death only painted on the radar because she was so visible, and her killing so obviously retaliation.

What makes the Khashoggi murder different, and why it's getting so much press, is that the Saudis set a trap for him, at an embassy in another country, killed him, and lied about it without the slightest embarrassment - clearly not expecting anybody to ask questions, because the lies were so obvious. They not only don't give a rat's ass about the consequences, they don't in fact understand what all the fuss is about. Khashoggi was a fly buzzing around the room. We smacked him. What do you care? In this sense, it's not even the murder itself that's startling, it's the Saudis acting aggrieved, as if they're the ones who've been done the injury. Sorry to say, this is genius.

Further reading, Christopher Dickey in The Daily Beast:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-real-reasons-saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-wanted-khashoggi-dead?ref=home




23 October 2018

To Speak or Not to Speak

by Paul D. Marks

I have several speaking gigs of one type or another coming up. And I’m looking forward to them. That said, it’s said that one of the greatest fears Americans have is speaking in public. I don’t really get nervous or uptight about speaking. But if I have to read a selection from my works then the palpitations begin. I don’t know why reading causes me so much anxiety, when just speaking doesn’t. I could speak to a group of 500 people and not be nervous, but if I read to a group of ten I would be. You’d think it would be just the opposite since when you’re reading you don’t have to come with answers on the fly. As the saying goes, go figure.

Newhall Library panel: Ellison Cooper, Carlene O'Neill (moderator, standing),
Patty Smiley, Connie di Marco, Paul D. Marks, Paddy Hirsch

I recently did a well-attended panel at the Old Town Newhall Library, that even included a dinner, with a moderator and four author-panelists. The moderator kept things moving, asking questions and everyone on the panel was fun and interesting and didn’t hog time, which sometimes happens. I sold more books than I usually do at these types of things. I was also recently on two panels at Bouchercon. I always feel lucky to get on panels at conventions since everyone is vying for those spots.

Coming up are several different kinds of gigs: One is another library event at the Studio City Library, a trivia night (https://www.lapl.org/whats-on/events/trivia-night-mystery-lovers-0) where a group of eight authors rotate tables with library patrons and try to answer trivia questions. I did this event last year and it was a lot of fun. Then another library event at the Agua Dulce Library (https://www.friendsacton-aguadulcelibrary.org/ )where I’ll be with one other writer, Connie di Marco. And instead of each of us just getting up and talking about ourselves, giving our this is the “wonder of me” speeches, we’ve decided to talk about each other, ask each other questions, and liven it up a little.

After that is Men of Mystery (https://www.menofmystery.org/ ), which is as their brochure proclaims, “the grandest gathering of gentlemen in the genre,” and which usually gets a huge crowd. Everyone has to stand up and tell a little about themselves. Last time I told about the time I pulled a gun on the LAPD and lived to tell about it. Afterwards a couple of law enforcement officers came up to talk to me about that... I wonder what I can do to top that?


Next up is The Palos Verdes Woman’s Club (http://pvwomansclub.org/home/fundraising-and-events/ ), which usually gets a few hundred people. I’ll be one of five authors there. I’ll have to speak about myself a little, which is always awkward. Fun, but awk.


And rounding out this bunch of events is a speaking gig at the Southern California Writers Association (http://ocwriter.com/ ). I’ll be talking about incorporating screenwriting techniques into the writing of short stories and novels.


I’ve also done a bunch of radio interviews lately to help promote the release of Broken Windows. It’s always fun doing these, whether in-studio or on the phone.

Each event is a little different, so the question is, how do I prepare for these events? For some, there really is no preparing, you just have to wing it. But sometimes, since I tend to even forget the names of my characters, I might give a quick glance to some cheat sheets I’ve made up over the years. It’s always embarrassing when someone asks you a question about this or that character or story and you have that deer in the headlights look, trying to figure out who the hell that is and what story they were in—and what it was about. For events where I’m actually giving a talk, I prepare notes on the subject of the talk. I can wing much of it, of course, but it always helps to have a plan and something to help keep you on track.

I always enjoy these events and it’s part of being a writer. A good part in that you get to interact with readers instead of hiding away in our writing caves. And I’m looking forward to all of these upcoming events. Hope to see some of you there.

What are your thoughts on preparing for events?

~.~.~

And now for the usual BSP:


I’m honored and thrilled – more than I can say – that my story Windward appears in The Best American Mystery Stories of 2018, edited by Louise Penny and Otto Penzler, which just came out this week. I wrote a blog on that on SleuthSayers if you want to check it out: https://www.sleuthsayers.org/2018/10/the-impossible-dream.html .

I’m doubly thrilled to say that Windward won the Macavity Award at Bouchercon a few weeks ago. Wow! And thank you to everyone who voted for it.

And I’m even more thrilled by the great reviews that Broken Windows has been receiving. Here’s a small sampling:

Kristin Centorcelli, Criminal Element

"Although it’s set in 1994, it’s eerie how timely this story is. There’s an undeniable feeling of unease that threads through the narrative, which virtually oozes with the grit, glitz, and attitude of L.A. in the ‘90s. I’m an ecstatic new fan of Duke’s."

"Duke and company practically beg for their own TV show."

John Dwaine McKenna, Mysterious Book Report:

"This electrifying novel will jolt your sensibilities, stir your conscience and give every reader plenty of ammunition for the next mixed group where the I [immigration] -word is spoken!"

Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine:

"Broken Windows is extraordinary."


Please join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paul.d.marks and check out my website www.PaulDMarks.com


22 October 2018

B~L~O~O~D !   part 2

Erythrocyte (red blood cell)
by Leigh Lundin

We return to the spell-binding basics of blood for mystery writers and readers.The previous article carried a simplistic table for matching blood donors:

Simplified Blood Type Transfusions by Phenotype
❤︎ blood r e c i p i e n t
blood type O A B AB
d
o
n
o
r
O
A

B

AB



That’s mostly accurate except the Rhesus factor isn’t taken into consideration. No donor with Rhesus positive blood can donate to an Rh negative recipient. This accounts for the gap in the upper right quadrant of the expanded table below:

Actual Blood Type Transfusions by Rh Factor
❤︎ blood r e c i p i e n t
blood type O+ A+ B+ AB+ O- A- B- AB-
d
o
n
o
r
O+



A+





B+





AB+






O-
A-



B-



AB-






Erythrocyte (red blood cell)
The Story of O

O represents the German ohne, meaning omitted or zero antigens. Some regions and countries code the O as a 0 (zero) or ∅ (null). Students familiar with binary recognize this as a 2-bit situation with four values. Russia and a few other countries label O, A, B, AB blood types as I, II, III, IIII.

Type O negative has been called the universal donor, although the reality is a bit more intricate. Type AB positive people might be considered universal recipients.

Scientists have worked out a method of stripping A and B antigens from other blood types to create an artificial type O. The Rhesus factor still remains, so Rh- donations are sought allowing transfusions to any blood type.

But what, exactly, is the Rhesus factor? And what happens when man meets woman?

Rhesus Thesis– The Dark Side of Blood

The Rh blood group system (including the Rh factor) is one of thirty-five current human blood typing systems, the most important blood group system after ABO. At present, the Rh system defines fifty blood-group antigens, among which the five antigens C, c, E, e, and especially D are considered the most significant. Commonly used terms Rh factor, Rh-positive and Rh-negative refer solely to the D antigen. In summarizing the Rh factor,
  • Rh+ means the Rh D antigen is present.
  • Rh− means the Rh D antigen is absent.
Besides its role in blood transfusion, a prenatal blood test can determine blood type of a fetus. As a result, Rh blood grouping determines the risk of hemolytic disease of newborns (erythroblastosis fetalis), emphasizing prevention where possible.

babies Rh±
When the mother is Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive, the fetus can inherit the Rh factor from the father, making the fetus Rh+ too. Problems can arise when the fetus’s blood has the Rh+ factor and the mother’s blood does not.

An Rh- mother may develop antibodies to her Rh+ baby, not uncommon if dribbles of the baby’s blood mixes with the mother's. The mother's body may respond as if it were allergic to the baby. The mother's body may make antibodies to the Rh antigens in the baby’s blood. This means the mother becomes sensitized. At that point, her antibodies may cross the placenta and impact the baby. Such an attack breaks down the fetus’ red blood cells, creating hemolytic anemia, a low red blood cell count. Severe cases cause illness, brain damage, or even death in a fetus or newborn. Allergen sensitization may occur any time fetus blood combines with the mother’s. Usually an Rh- mother miscarries an Rh+ fetus.
Most of us have offspring without thinking about such a subject, but problems do occur. When I was ten, a classmate’s family had struggled to have another child. They were devastated when attempts ended in perinatal deaths. We kids were saddened for our classmate, a boy we’d never before seen cry. At the time, we were told the problem was one of blood incompatibility. While we children weren’t privy to the particulars, something like the following probably occurred.
When an Rh- mother becomes pregnant with a Rh+ child, the mother’s immune system produces antibodies that attack the fetus’ red blood cells. A first child usually survives because the antibodies don’t appear until late in the pregnancy. However, in subsequent Rh+ pregnancies, antibodies are already in place. Even with extreme intervention, these children can die.

Blood Will Tell

Perhaps you’re writing a Halloween tale or a ghoulish Southern gothic involving a convoluted blood line. If you’re beset how a couple begets, check this handy table.

Blood Type Inheritance by Phenotype
❤︎ blood m o t h e r
blood type O A B AB
f
a
t
h
e
r
O O
    
O  A
    
O
B   
   A
B   
A O  A
    
O  A
    
O  A
B AB
   A
B AB
B O   
B   
O  A
B AB
O   
B   
   A
B AB
AB    A
B   
   A
B AB
   A
B AB
   A
B AB

For example, if Colonel D’Arcy is type A and Miss Annabelle Lee is type O and Baby Willie turns out type B… uh-oh. Oo-la-la as they say in N’Orleans, the colonel’s not the father he thought he was. A new tale is born.

——— Factoids ———

Bloodline Timeline

The type O bloodline was the original, dating back at least 200 000 years and likely two-million or more in ancestral primate lines. One theory suggest other blood types began to diverge as diet changed. Type AB arrived quite recently, only ten centuries ago, although a few researchers suggest an approximate AB date of 1000bc instead of 1000ad.
  • 1000,000 years ago, type O had long been the only type.
  • 100,000 years ago, type A appeared in Western Europe.
  • 10,000 years ago, type B appeared in Eastern Asia.
  • 1,000 years ago, type AB emerged as blood lines mixed.



Two blood cells met and fell in love…

Alas, it was all in vein.

I went trick or treating this year with friends. Good thing I dressed as a zombie… no one could tell it was their blood. My husband died when I couldn’t remember his blood type. I’d jotted A-positive on his donor card, but he kept whispering “Typo.”

My husband died when I couldn’t remember his blood type. As he gasped his last breath, he kept insisting for me to “be positive,” but it’s hard without him. My ex got into a bad accident recently. I told the doctors the wrong blood type. Now he’ll really know what rejection feels like.

Have a safe Halloween!

21 October 2018

B~L~O~O~D !   part 1

Erythrocyte (red blood cell)
Erythrocyte, Red Blood Cell with Type A+B Antigens
by Leigh Lundin

In the spirits of Halloween, SleuthSayers brings you a bloody fine tutorial, the basics of what an author needs to know about blood.

As crime writers, we often deal with blood, splatter, DNA and alleles in fiction and non-fiction. Today, we investigate a bleedin’ serious topic.

A+B antibodies
A+B Antibodies Schematic (Type O blood)
Bloody Detail

Erythrocyte is the technical name for a red blood cell. Scientists describe the shape as a biconcave disc or a toroid without a nucleus, meaning they’re vaguely shaped like a plastic kiddie pool or a fresh out-of-the-pack condom.

The cells contain the pigment hemoglobin that makes erythrocytes appear red. A cell’s primary duty is to carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body and transport carbon dioxide back to the lungs where the breathing process of ‘gas exchange’ takes place.
antigen
An antigen induces an immune response stimulating the production of antibodies. Blood antigens comprise types A and B. Either one, both or neither may appear as part of our blood cells.

epitope
The specific surface features of an antigen type are called epitopes. It’s debatable which is the key and which the lock, so it may be convenient to think of matching antigens and antibodies as jigsaw puzzle tabs. For convenience, our schema employs shapes of letters A and B to represent type A and B antigens.

antibody
Triggered by an immune response, antibodies individually key to epitopes. A particular antibody locks onto the shape of an antigen (A and/or B). Antibodies explain why care is exercised when matching blood donors.
They combine like this.

Blood Type Components and Characteristics
❤︎ ABO ABO blood constituents
blood type O A B AB
Erythrocytes (Red Blood Cells)
Red Blood Cell Antigens
Plasma Antibodies
blood type O A B AB
Blood Type Results Erythrocytes with neither antigen but plasma containing both type antibodies. Erythrocytes with type A surface antigens and plasma with type B antibodies. Erythrocytes with type B surface antigens and plasma with type A antibodies. Erythrocytes with both surface antigens but plasma without either antibody.

M-Mmm, Tasty

If you vampires think your honey’s blood is sweet, you have a point– the ‘A’s and ‘B’s in blood types are sugars. Moreover, under an SEM (scanning electron microscope), antigens lend red blood cells a sugary gumdrop look, quite unlike the glossy renderings we usually see.

Types A, B, and AB feature antigens on the surfaces of their cells. Notice how antibodies are ‘keyed’ to lock onto a particular type of antigen, kind of a socket. Antibodies in plasma can attack the wrong type antigens introduced into the blood stream.

Mayhap you feel it’s better to giveth than to receive. Not to be sanguine about these matters, we practice safe blood-letting. To help take the ‘ick’ out of ichor, following is a convenient Béla Lugosi table of tasty platelets for those special moments.

Simplified Blood Type Transfusions by Phenotype
❤︎ blood r e c i p i e n t
blood type O A B AB
d
o
n
o
r
O
A

B

AB



This explains why blood donations are carefully matched. A person with, say, type B antibodies in the plasma can’t mix blood with type B antigens (blood type B or AB): Only type A or O will serve. For practical purposes, a type O donor can give blood to everyone.

Contrarily, an AB- patient can receive from nearly anyone. Because of AB antigens, an AB donor can give blood only to another AB recipient.

——— Factoids ———

Bleeding Blue

Famously, Mr. Spock exhibited faintly green skin, purportedly because Vulcan blood flowed with copper-based hemocyanin rather than iron-based hemoglobin. Beyond Star Trek, other blood colors can be found. In fact, you’ve likely eaten some of them.

Creature copper carriers include shrimp, lobsters, certain crabs, some snails, crayfish, and squid. Octopuses are known for their copper-protein blood, albeit blue rather than green.

The New Guinea skink bleeds green, not because of copper, but because of staggering levels of biliverdin and bilirubin. The ocellated icefish, with neither iron or copper, carries clear blood in its veins.

Blue Bloods… and Green

Mention ‘blue bloods’ today and people think police. In centuries past, the term connoted nobility. Initially, ’sangre azul’ referred to Spanish royalty, whereupon the phrase spread throughout Europe. But why blue?

Serfs, slaves, and commoners typically labored outdoors in fields and forests, accumulating muscles, thicker skin, and tanned flesh. Such ‘rednecks’ looked markedly different from the aristocracy, usually known for their pale, sunless skin revealing blue veins.

Two other hypotheses about royal blue bloods prove difficult to verify. One suggestion premised that royalty often suffered from hæmophilia, rendering the skin and veins even paler. A somewhat more intriguing idea set forth the notion that a lifetime of exposure to silver serving dishes, wine cups, and table utensils, may have given the skin a pale blue cast.

green Leigh
[On a personal note, during school breaks in my teens, I experienced considerable exposure to copper. During those summers, I literally sweated green. Notice the pointy ears? The Frankenstein flair?]



Tomorrow, grab that sphygmomanometer. We’re bringing you more bloody information.