Friday, November 29, 2013

Death by Misadventure by E. E. Smith


People who don't know me very well will invariably ask what the word "caboose" is doing in my strange email address. That's when I have to explain that I used to own one, and so it came to mind when a young computer wizard was trying to concoct an email address for me and finding that anything with "Smith" in it was already taken. He asked for something absolutely unique, and "caboose" was the only word I could think of that no one else would be using. And it worked. My email address became
Why in the world would anyone want to own a caboose, you may ask. You might have to read my secondnovel, Times Like These, to understand such madness. In the book I explain that I grew up on the railroad, back when there were steam trains. As the daughter of a station agent, I was often allowed to ride in the caboose, along with the conductor and the brakeman, just for the fun of it. To me, it was like a playhouse, and I dreamed of having one of my own someday. A half century later, that dream became a reality. I hired an architect to find one and restore it for me. The one he found was an old wooden cupola caboose, built in 1912. It had long ago outlived its usefulness as the last car attached to freight trains and was sitting empty, vandalized and rotting on the fairgrounds in Calistoga, in the Napa Valley. I had it hauled up to Nevada City, a quaint little town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where it began life anew as a completely restored and refurbished writing studio. I bought a three bedroom house to have enough acreage to accommodate it as an "outbuilding" on the property.  When it was finished, six months later, it had a bathroom, complete with shower, a kitchen, a pellet stove/fireplace, and its own cable TV. It was very picturesque there, nestled among the pine trees.
I was a playwright at that time, and used my cozy little studio to write three plays in the years that I owned it. Eventually, I needed to move on. The summers were beautiful, but the winters in the foothills can be brutal, and the power outages frequent. During those times, the water lines to the caboose would freeze and break, flooding the bathroom and kitchen before becoming frozen ponds. The pellet stove needed electricity to operate, so there was no heat when the power went off. The walls of a caboose are not insulated, so the temperature inside was the same as the outside, often below freezing. 
I sold it along with the house, and have never been back to Nevada City to see what it looks like now. I want to remember it the way it was in the photo, the realization of a lifelong dream!  
Book Blurb: 

The sign on her office door reads  "ALEXIS J. SMITH - Discreet Inquiries, but a new client of her fledgling detective agency seems to think it means Murder Incorporated. The client, one Kate Faraday, is a former schoolmate (Sacramento High, class of '41) who wants to hire Lexie to find her husband, Frank. During their initial interview it becomes clear that she doesn't want him back "dead or alive," she wants him dead!  

If it were anyone else, the intrepid young private investigator would never have taken the job, but there is a problem. Lexie herself has been in love with Frank ever since they were all together in high school. She makes a desperate decision to find him and warn him of his wife's mad intentions.

She travels to England and finds Frank staying at a country inn called The Old Vicarage, next to a little Norman church still haunted by a 12th Century ghost. What she discovers reveals a woman bent on vengeance, not only on her husband, but on Lexie, as well. Are they both marked for murder? How all this plays out, and culminates in a shoot-out at The Old Vicarage, is the climax of the story -- but not the end. 


E.E. (Evelyn Eileen) Smith first attended the University of Iowa, and later received a B.A. in Fine Arts from California State University Long Beach.
Known earlier as a playwright, her works include PLAYTIME IN LONDON; BOARDINGHOUSE STEW;  WARTIME RECIPES;  THE TEMPERATE ZONE  (based on Edith Wharton's short story);  GHOST WRITERS  (based on two  stories by Wharton and Henry James);  RUNAWAY TRAINS;  A FLAG FOR MARIA;  PRIVATE LIES (a spoof on the play by Noel Coward);  REVELATIONS,  A GAME FOR THREE OR MORE COUPLES;  three one-act plays, together titled RYAN'S REUNION, and a collection of ten-minute comedies together titled THE BRITISH ARE COMING

Her plays have been performed in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and both northern and southern California. One play has been published. 

Writing credits include a Drama Award from FS Theatrebooks, New York,
(for BOARDINGHOUSE STEW);  awards from Writers Digest (for PRIVATE LIES and PLAYTIME IN LONDON);  and the Gem Award from Jewel Box Theatre,   Oklahoma City (for WARTIME RECIPES).

E. E. Smith lives close to her native San Francisco where she now writes   books and short stories instead of plays.  One story was published in Writers' Forum:  Britain's Best Magazine for Writers, in 2006. The play, WARTIME RECIPES, first performed in Oklahoma City in 1998, was reprised there in 2010. Her first novel, BOARDINGHOUSE STEW, was published in 2009, and the New Edition published in 2011. The second novel, TIMES LIKE THESE, was also published in 2011, and IN LOVE AND WAR, a memoir, was published in 2012. 

She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today. To see her blog, go to 

Her website is

Also follow her on Facebook.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Besides preparing and eating lots of delicious food, this is the day to give thanks.

We who live in this country have so much to give thanks for. Yes, there are problems, but we have the liberty to complain about the problems in so many forums and except for irritating people who might think differently, no one is going to come looking for us.

On a personal level, I'm thankful for each and everyone of my children, their spouses and all of their offspring. Each one has brought me and my husband great joy over the years.

I'm thankful that I have a personal belief in God and I can worship how I wish. And I'm thankful that He listens and answers my prayers. (Sometimes he says no, and other times, it's not yet, but oh, so many times, a miracle is given.)

I'm thankful for this day that I can spend with some of my family and enjoy their company. I'm thankful for the youngsters who still want to play games with their great-grandma.

I'm thankful for the granddaughter who looked forward to being home once again with us to celebrate Thanksgiving.

And I'm thankful for the little one who will be spending her Thanksgiving with us.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who read my blog today and other days.

What are you thankful for today?

This is an old photo for my father attacking the Thanksgiving turkey, years ago in the house I grew up in.
Thanksgiving in 2011 when we went to Camarillo and had dinner with youngest daughter's family, oldest daughter and some granddaughters and greats.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bellman and Black by Diana Setterfield, a review

What a Curious Book!

It almost defies description because it doesn’t fit into any specific category. Literary as far as the writing goes and compelling when it comes to the story. Diane Setterfield is an expert at enticing a reader into following a not particularly likeable but extremely ambitious man through his life. Along the way grand descriptions of life, death and mourning during Victorian times in a small town in England propel the plot.

Always hovering in the background are the mysterious rooks. Included are many interesting facts about these blackbirds--one of the main characters throughout.

Not a book I would picked up on my own, (it was given to me by the publisher) nevertheless, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. The writing is beautiful--and the message clear--don't let anything come between you and your family.

This is not a book for everyone: Though called a ghost story, it really isn't. It doesn't have a happy ending--but the ending is inevitable. However, if you enjoy learning about a segment of history, reading beautiful, almost poetic prose, and clearly defined characters, you'll enjoy Bellman & Black.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Flint House by Kathleen L. Asay

Sometimes a book is more than just a book. Sure, it’s the first book I’ve written that’s made it into print and it took long years to happen. It’s also the first book I’ve written that is not strictly a conventional mystery. To a reader, it’s only a few hours diversion. To the publishing world, the world in general, it’s barely a blink of the eye.

Still, this book, Flint House, is more than just a book, my first book, my first non-mystery, to me. Many years ago, when I was first married, I worked in an office building on a major boulevard in Los Angeles and across the street was a bookstore. In that bookstore, often enough, was an older woman dressed in yellow, with 1930s make up and yellow hair. A lovely looking woman, one you would notice even if you were twenty-five. I looked at her and I wondered who she was and who she had been since she was clearly trying to hold onto that person. Too shy to ask, I vowed to give her story someday.

I was writing mysteries, however, and I could see no place for her. Then we moved, Portland, OR, and I began to see pieces of a story: a few characters appeared and a setting, an old house. But still a mystery. How could I kill her off? I didn’t want to, but what else? We moved again, Kansas City, a dry well for me as a writer. Then back to L.A. Overwhelming. I couldn’t see her there, though that was where I had found her.

Finally, we arrived in Sacramento. Our son was in high school, and neither of us wanted to move again. I also now had health issues and no energy to start over making friends and learning my way around. I was unhappy. But among the few things I knew about Sacramento, the overheated capitol of California, was that it had blocks of old houses. I needed something to write. Could it work in Sacramento?

I sat down to my desk one day and there it was, Flint House and the curmudgeonly Maisie Flint. My woman in yellow lived upstairs. Flint House was a boarding house. In the first chapter I became Liz Cane, a burned out editor for The Sacramentan newspaper. Liz tells the story. I first went to Flint House on the blustery October day that was Maisie Flint’s last. When Maisie dies, literally at Liz’s feet, Liz is drawn into the effort to save the house for its tenants. I already had a few of the characters, but most of them were new to me. They came to me as I went. The whole story unfolded as I wrote it; as though I had written it before, it was always there. It took years, but I never lost it. I smiled when I opened up the file and added a few words or as much as a chapter. It made me laugh when I needed it.

Out of my unhappiness, came the most positive and hopeful book I’ve written. Life got better as I knew in my heart it would.



Kathleen L. Asay lives near Sacramento and is a writer and editor. She is a past president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento Chapter of Sisters in Crime and has a story in and edited both of the chapter’s member anthologies of short fiction, Capital Crimes and The Best of Capitol Crimes, just out. In moving around the west, she wrote for arts magazines, a newspaper, and volunteer publications in several cities. Flint House is her first published novel. You can visit her at .
(What a lovely post, Kathleen. The books sounds wonderful!)

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Do You Have to Do to Be a Published Author?

On Saturday, November 23 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. award winning authors Shirley Hickman and Marilyn Meredith will be at the Porterville Art Gallery, 151 North Main, Porterville CA. to answer that question.

Topics of Discussions:

What Does it Take to Write a Book?

Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing, Small Presses

What comes Next?

Question Welcomed

Both authors will have copies of their books available for purchase and signing.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tatiana by Martin Cruz Smith, review



With an amazing ability, the author creates a story about a side of Russia the majority of us will never see—and that’s probably a good thing.

Moscow investigator Arkady Renko can’t believe the famous reporter, Tatiana Petrovna would commit suicide by jumping from her sixth floor apartment. Like a pitbull, he won’t let loose as he tries to find out the truth despite warnings and attempts on his life.

Besides being a complicated mystery with many side trails and the most unusual characters, it’s a glimpse into horrific crimes, an unusual seaside city, corruption, bird watchers, and a strange puzzle in a translator’s book.

Both fascinating and gritty, Tatiana kept me turning pages and I felt like I was getting an insider’s peek into a country I know little about.
Simon and Schuster gave me this book.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Warning Shot by Tim Smith


I’m pleased to announce the release of my newest romantic thriller Warning Shot from eXtasy Books. This is the third installment in the Nick Seven spy series, featuring my two most popular characters, former CIA spooks Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens. They were featured in the best-selling books Memories Die Last and Never Look Back. Although this is part of a series, the books do not need to be read in order, as each one is a stand-alone adventure.

 For the uninitiated, Nick and Felicia live in Key Largo, Florida, where they fled to get away from the spy game and intrigue. Nick is a moody action hero plagued by memories of things from his past, and Felicia is the Barbadian beauty who was once his co-worker. This installment finds them helping Nick’s former mentor from his spy days when it appears that this person has gotten involved in something he shouldn’t have.

 Nick Seven and Felicia Hagens left the CIA for the laidback ease of the Florida Keys, leaving behind a life of intrigue. When Nick’s former mentor becomes part of a conspiracy with international repercussions, Nick breaks his self-imposed exile to stop him. The case throws Nick and Felicia into a juggernaut of espionage, government cover-ups and political assassinations. Will they succeed in stopping the plan in time? Can their relationship survive another unwanted adventure?

 I think this is the fastest-paced thriller I’ve ever written, with something for everyone – action, great atmosphere, realistic characters and dialogue, humor, and enough heat between Nick and Felicia to make Key West in July feel like Alaska. There’s also a very strong romantic element between the two leads, one that keeps evolving and getting stronger with each new episode. Here’s an example: 

Nick brought Felicia’s hand to his mouth then kissed it. “That’s one of the reasons I’m glad I have you around. You always keep me focused.”

“Is that the only reason you’re glad I’m around?”

“No, but it’s a long list.”

 She sat on his lap then ran her fingers through his hair. “I’ve got nothin’ but time, Tough Guy.”

 He caressed her cheek “You’re resourceful, self-confident and independent.”

“You just described a Boy Scout. Can’t you do better than that?”

He kissed her. “You’re incredibly hot, passionate about everything and waking up next to you makes all my teenaged dreams come true.” He paused. “Plus you make a mean stir-fried shrimp.”

Felicia laughed and lightly smacked his arm. “Is that the best you’ve got? You were always better at foreplay.”

“You make me feel alive and I can’t wait to start every day all over again with you.”

She cupped his cheek and peered into his eyes. “That’s what I was gonna say. It’s kinda hard to explain but when I first saw you, all that time ago in London, it was like a jolt of electricity went through me. Then when you quit and I went back to Barbados, I felt this big empty inside, like somethin’ vital had been taken away.”

He traced her jaw with his fingers. “Same thing I felt. I’m glad we finally got together.”

                                                                        * * * *

I’ve been asked why I chose the Florida Keys as the setting for this series. When I sat down to write the first one, I asked myself a question – if I were a former spy who wanted to start over, where would I go? Since I had recently returned from a trip there, the answer was obvious. The atmosphere lends itself to anonymity, because people basically don’t care who you are or where you came from. In doing research I discovered that the Keys have a lot of former cops and government operatives among its nameless residents. That sealed it for me.

 If you’re looking for an escape from the winter cold, take a trip to the Florida Keys with Nick and Felicia in Warning Shot. It’s a fun ride!


Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn’t pursuing those two passions, he can be found in the Florida Keys, doing research in between parasailing and seeking out the perfect Mojito. His website is

 Website -

Amazon Kindle -

Extasy Books -

Thanks for visiting today, Tim, Warning Shot sounds very exciting! Best of luck!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Inspired Helen Macie Osterman to Become a Writer

What inspired me to become a writer? It was certainly not an epiphany. I was a storyteller from childhood. On beautiful autumn days, I walked through the park, leaves crunching under my feet and adventures running through my mind: an African safari, a trip to outer space, being chased by a monster.
When I grew up and became a nurse, I wrote for nursing and medical journals. But technical writing is a far cry from fiction.
The years passed and I took a couple of courses in creative writing. That did it. My character, Emma Winberry, appeared in my mind. I visualized her: shaped like Olive Oyl, hair spiking every which way. But that wasn’t enough to make her different from other protagonists I read about.
Emma is in her 60s, has luminous gray eyes, and has a sixth sense. She converses with her Guardian Angel. I know this woman, her hopes and dreams. She loves the opera, but is not a singer. So I gave her the role of supernumerary, an extra in the opera.

Being an opera lover myself, I always wanted to be a supernumerary but life intervened: divorce, five dependent children, arthritic hips and knees. So I settled for achieving my goal vicariously through my character.
Emma lives in a posh condo on Chicago’s Lakeshore Drive with her wealthy significant other, Nate Sandler. When I give a presentation, women ask me, where they can find a man like Nate. I tell them he lives in my brain and belongs only to me and Emma.
I am now working on book number six in the series, and have a new character floating around in my head. More about her later.




Helen Osterman lives in Homer Glen, a suburb of Chicago. She has five children and nine grandchildren.
She received a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree from Mercy Hospital-St. Xavier College and later earned a Master’s Degree from Northern Illinois University. Throughout her forty-five year nursing career, she wrote articles for both nursing and medical journals.
She is the author of the Emma Winberry Mystery Series:

The Accidental Sleuth, 2007, The Stranger in the Opera House,2009, The Elusive Relation,2011 Emma Winberry and the Evil Eye, 2012. Locked Within, 1213

Notes in a Mirror, a paranormal/historical, 2009.

Song of the Rails, a love story, 2011.

Maker’s Mark, a cozy mystery. 2012

 She is a member of American Association of University Women, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime and The Authors’ Guild.

Blurb from Michael Palmer, MD

Praise for Locked Within

Locked Within is a simply wonderful story written by an author who clearly knows our craft.

I had a great time with this book and recommend it to any reader who enjoys clever plotting and vivid characters.

Osterman is a nurse who understands what it means to care and be cared for. Her writing is scalpel sharp and much more intelligent than some of the cozies I have read.

Locked Within is fun and fascinating. Fans of my books will have a great time with it.

Bravo, Helen Osterman!

Michael Palmer, MD

New York Times  Winning Author: Political Suicide

 Visit my website to learn more about me
Thanks for visiting today, Helen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Year Without Christmas by John M. Wills

John Wills has been both a regular attendee and presenter at the Public Safety Writers Conference and I'm proud to count him as a friend. I've read his other books, which I enjoyed, but The Year Without Christmas is outstanding. I asked him to tell me--and everyone who reads my blog--what inspired him.

 Why I wrote this book:

Having read a number of Christmas novels over the years, I have always been moved by them. My favorite stories come from Dan Walsh, a Christian writer. He inspires me to write with emotion. This year I had the urge to write a Christmas novel myself, and I had a number of ideas in mind as I sat down to share my story.
In The Year Without Christmas, the protagonist, Officer Doyle, is a cop—a darn good one—on a small department in Michigan. He unfortunately gets involved in a tragic shooting. Despite having followed his department’s guidelines, and even though the outcome was ruled to be a justifiable shooting, the man begins a downward spiral that eventually causes him to become homeless.

His family becomes a victim of the shooting as well. (This phenomenon often occurs when police officers are shot.) They have no idea where Officer Doyle, a husband, father, and grandfather, is at. Their life becomes uncertain at best, as they struggle with their new reality. In addition, the very pragmatic problem of the breadwinner’s check being no longer available, impacts the family’s immediate future.
Officer Doyle’s homeless journey is as real as it gets. In the book, I described daily life on the streets exactly as I witnessed them when I worked as a Chicago cop. My contacts with the homeless, and what happens at the shelters is real. Some of the resources today are much better than when I worked the streets. For those updates I contacted a close friend to ensure I got things right.

The struggle the alcoholic faces is a minute-to-minute battle, one that turns a person into an unrecognizable stranger. Family and friends helplessly look on as the alcoholic slips further and further away. Depressing stuff to be sure, but remember—this is a Christmas story, it has to have a happy ending.

The Year Without Christmas—blurb
A small town family’s peace is shattered by a tragic accident that sends them plunging into the darkest times they have ever known.  The members struggle with their new reality, as one of them goes missing and another faces a life-threatening disease.  A tale about loss and unwavering hope, The Year Without Christmas demonstrates the power of love, faith and a family’s will to survive.

About the author:

 John M. Wills is a former Chicago police officer and retired FBI agent. He is a journalist, freelance writer and award-winning author in a variety of genres, including novels, short stories and poetry. He has published more than 150 articles relating to officer training, street survival, fitness and ethics. John also writes book reviews for the New York Journal of Books and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. His book, Women Warriors, is available online and at the National Law Enforcement Memorial Gift Shop in Washington, D.C. John’s October 2013 release is The Year Without Christmas: A Novel. Visit John at:, or at his blog,, to learn about his other books, anthologies and an upcoming novella, Dancer. 





Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Book Party for Spirit Shapes

When: Saturday, November 16, 1 p.m.

Where: Fellowship Hall, Springville Baptist Church, Bogart Dr., (off 190 at the top of the hill) on the way to Springville. (CA)

What: I plan on telling what led to the writing of Spirit Shapes. I'll also have a few copies of some of my other books in the series.

Refreshments:  My friend Cheryl who bakes the most wonderful cakes is providing one for this event.

I realize my party is in competition with all kinds of Christmas bazaars and boutiques all over Springville and Porterville. But, remember, a book signed my an author makes a unique gift.

I'm looking forward to seeing a few of my friends.

(And for those who think once a book is out, the author can rest, I've already started the next one in the series, and I'm going over the edits of my next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.)


Monday, November 11, 2013

The Greatest Benefit of Virtual Book Tours

The Greatest Benefit of Virtual Book Tours

by Cheryl C. Malandrinos

I’ve been promoting authors’ books with virtual book tours (VBTs) since 2007. I could share numerous benefits of VBTs: promoting a book from the comfort of your own home, the vast audience they reach, and their longevity (I can type the author’s name and book title from one of my first clients into Google and still see results from her virtual book tour.). I might even discuss two detailed articles I wrote on why VBTs work and how to judge your VBT’s success from my own experience promoting Little Shepherd when it first came out.


But I’m not going to talk about any of that. Why? Because that’s not what I feel is the greatest benefit of virtual book tours.

 For me, the greatest benefit of promoting my work and the work of others through virtual books tours has been connecting with readers and other authors.

It’s easy to forget the hard-working people behind the blogs; but owning several blogs myself, I doubt anyone does it just to get free books. These blogs are labors of love where the people behind the computer screen relish sharing the books they read and spreading the word about their favorite authors. Some bloggers come and go, but many I’ve known for years. We chat about our families. We rejoice over special occasions and pray for each other in times of need.

 Then there are the authors. As a blogger and writer, as well as a book publicist, I’ve had the opportunity to correspond with hundreds of authors over the years. Some have become close friends and I’ve met a few in person. You don’t always know when it happens. One day you’re promoting an author’s book and the next you’re chatting online as if you’ve been friends since childhood. You celebrate each other’s achievements and give each other a virtual pat on the back when a rejection letter appears.

Take Marilyn. She hired Pump Up Your Book (PUYB) to promote Judgment Fire from her Deputy Tempe Crabtree series when it was released in 2007. I had been blogging about PUYB’s authors for a few months, and since mysteries are some of my favorites I requested to review it. The following spring, Marilyn released Smell of Death from her Rocky Bluff P.D. series. She returned to PUYB to promote it, and I was asked by our founder, Dorothy, if I would like to handle Marilyn’s tour. Since I loved Judgment Fire so much, I quickly agreed. Marilyn and I have journeyed together through many other book releases over the years. Always a joy to work with, I look forward to spring and fall because it means Marilyn has new books to share. She has been a blessing; a source of support as this novice author spreads her wings; and a wise and helpful mentor.

When I first started blogging and promoting books, I had no idea how many friends I would gain as a result. Guardian Angel Publishing released Little Shepherd in 2010. My three-month virtual book tour had more than 70 blog stops. All these people I had worked with over the years wanted to help me promote my book. I’m still humbled just thinking about it.

Yes, writing is a business. Marketing is an important part of your success. But nothing beats all the friends you make along the way.


Cheryl Malandrinos is a children’s author and freelance editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, released by Guardian Angel Publishing, and A Christmas Kindness, released by 4RV Publishing, under her pen name, C.C. Gevry. A digital version of A Christmas Kindness will be released in 2013.

Since 2007, Cheryl has been an online book publicist specializing in virtual book tours. She is a member of the SCBWI, a book reviewer, and blogger.

Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married. Visit her online at or

About the book:

Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior's birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?

Purchase your copy from:


Little Shepherd Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Nov 4

Book spotlight at The Story of a Writer

Nov 5

Book review and interview at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Book trailer reveal at 4 the Love of Books

Nov 6

Nov 7

Guest post and book review at Topsy Turvy Land

Nov 8

Interview at Between the Covers

Nov 11

Guest post at Marilyn’s Musings

Guest post at Authors and Appetizers

Nov 12

Guest post at Bookingly Yours

Book review and giveaway at Mom Loves 2 Read

Nov 13

Book review at Maureen’s Musings

Nov 14

Nov 15

Guest post at Paperback Writer

Book trailer reveal at Broken Teepee

Nov 18

Book review at Blooming with Books

Nov 19

Book review at Nancy Stewart Books

Radio interview at Stories from Unknown Authors at 1 PM.

Nov 20

Guest post at 4 the Love of Books

Book trailer reveal at Thoughts in Progress

Nov 21

Guest post at Literarily Speaking

Nov 22

Book review at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Nov 23

Book review at Freda’s Voice

Nov 26

Book trailer reveal at CelticLady’s Reviews

Nov 27

Nov 29

Book spotlight at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Note from Marilyn: Truly, Cheryl and I have become great friends though we live on opposite coasts and have never seen one another in person. Despite a big age difference, we have a lot in common. I have a copy of The Little Shepherd and it's a perfect book for mother's and grandmothers to give to their children and grandchildren who read--and to read to the smaller ones at this time of year. I highly recommend it.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Serial Killers and Criminal Profiling

By Pete Klismet

[Editor’s Note: Criminal profilers conjure up all kinds of images to the average person. Movies, television shows, and novels have often given us misconceptions of this special breed of investigator. Our guest writer today can help us understand this part of law enforcement because that is what he is trained to do—profile criminals. Pete Klismet, is a retired FBI criminal profiler who teaches, writes, and provides consulting services on this subject.]


Pete, can you tell us what some of the more common questions you hear about profiling are?

“How’d you know that?”

“Are you some sort of a psychic?”

“Do you have a crystal ball or something?”

Anyone who has been trained in criminal profiling and has worked with law enforcement agencies, or has taught about the concept in college, has heard all of these comments.  And many more.  The word “profiling” conjures up some sinister images in people’s minds, and seems almost devilishly frightening to some, but yet fascinating to others.  Once you’ve delved into the art of profiling, and have continued your interest and study, you never think the same way again.  I’ve told this to all of my students, and I think I accomplished that with some of them.  In fact I know I have, as you’ll see when you read through this article.

And still I hear, “Pete, are you profiling me?”  It never stops!


Criminal profiling is the art of developing a behavioral profile of an offender based on evidence from a crime scene, and many other factors involved in an investigation of a violent crime.  Profiling is sometimes done by a forensic psychologist -- someone who has studied the criminal mind. However, since the mid-1980’s, the FBI has assumed a prominent role in the use of this technique.  A profile may then be used by police departments to assist in apprehending the criminal.  But a criminal profile by itself, rarely solves a crime.  In most cases, that is accomplished by old-fashioned detective work.

A profile is intended to be a behavioral portrait of an offender. If done correctly, the profiler may be able to determine ‘why’ a person committed the crime he did.  If ‘why’ can be determined, then we may have motive, and thus help identify the person who committed the crime.  There is a lot that a crime scene can tell a profiler about the person who committed the crime. This is especially true in homicide investigations. Criminal profiling is often used to help investigators identify psychopaths and serial killers who may otherwise go free. It can also be used to help identify other types of offenders, such as serial sex offenders.

In criminal profiling, a crime scene often helps to label the offender as organized or disorganized. An organized offender will plan ahead, often choosing the victim ahead of time. Any tools needed are brought by the offender. He is meticulous with details, and it is clear that the crime was well thought out. This tells a profiler much about the offender.

Organized offenders tend to be high in the birth order of their family. They are very intelligent, but often were underachievers in both school and life. Most of them have a live-in partner, are socially adept, and will follow the coverage of their crimes in the media very carefully.  Contrary to popular belief, a killer of this nature, even a serial killer, is not ‘crazy.’  Quite the opposite is true.  They also ‘hide in plain sight,’ and when identified are a complete surprise to people who know them and thought they were ‘perfectly normal.’

A more spontaneous or impulsive offense is often the work of a disorganized offender. He will act impulsively, with little to no planning involved, and the crime scene will usually show this lack of planning. Seeing this, a trained profiler can draw some conclusions about this offender.  Disorganized offenders are often of average or slightly below-average intelligence. They were younger children, they usually live alone, and are not as socially mature or competent as an organized offender. They often live or work near the scene of the crime, and tend to have a poor work history. Typically, they are younger than the organized offenders.

Criminal profiling is used not only to find potential offenders, but also to narrow down a list of offenders that has already been compiled by the police. Although it doesn’t work in every case, criminal profiling has helped investigators to apprehend hundreds of criminals. By studying the patterns and motives of previous offenders, profiling may enable investigators to predict the characteristics of current and future offenders, allowing killers and other perpetrators to be caught before they can continue on to other crimes.


Serial killers are a fairly recent phenomenon on the American landscape, and many people are captivated by what they do and how they do it.  Some of them, such as Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez “The Night Stalker,” and Jeffrey Dahmer have even had cult followings, as odd as that may seem.  In some ways it seems ghoulish, and in other ways the allure of a person who commits multiple murders seems to present a fear of the unknown, of not being able to comprehend such irrational acts, and a desire to learn more about what makes these people tick.  To some it’s not all that interesting, but to many others it’s something they can’t learn or read enough about.

I became friends with the husband of one of my students, an Air Force major, some years ago.  We both enjoyed golf, and would get together once or twice every couple of weeks and play 18 holes.  After one round, we sat down and were enjoying a couple of cool, refreshing beers.  Without any prompting, and literally out of the clear blue sky, Paul said, “By the way, I want to thank you for ruining my love life.”

“Me?  What did I do?”

“Brandy lies in bed every night with a book about one serial killer or another.  I have a hard time getting between her and her books.”

“Sorry… bad.”

While we both got a good laugh out of that, I know I’ve had more than a few of my college students who were similarly absorbed with learning more and more about the dark and gruesome, illogical actions of people who kill others for “fun.”  It’s one of the most irrational things man can do, yet trying to learn what drives them to kill with such blood-lust can almost consume one’s life.

When I went through what we called “Profiling Boot Camp” at the FBI Academy in the mid-1980’s, I was the same way.  I’ve spent nearly thirty years reading virtually every book on particular serial killers that I could get my hands on.  To the present date, that probably numbers well over one hundred books.  With every book I read I learn something new, and I’ve continued to do the same thing for many years. 


But in my case, there’s a method to my madness.  When I combine my years of training and experience, it almost seems unfair to not share that with other people who may have a similar interest, or may be taking criminal justice or criminology courses in college.   There are books out there which some consider textbooks.  Some of these contain information which is not consistent with what I learned and practiced.  A few of these books offer the author’s own personal ‘spin’ on profiling, and more often than not, this is someone who declared themselves a ‘profiler’ because they read some books and perhaps took some psychology classes in college.

I suppose anyone can make the same claim, but relatively few of us can make the claim with the training, education and experience to back it up.  And I think that’s what’s driven me for so many years.  No one “knows it all” about criminal profiling, and I certainly don’t claim to.  In fact, one thing I’ve learned over the years is the more I learn, the less I seem to know.  But I continue to want to learn as much as I can.  And that’s what I hope to offer anyone who reads this book, whether you’re similarly fascinated or simply want to know more.

This is not an academic treatise in which you will have to review statistical tables with boring columns of numbers and percentages.  Unlike a college textbook, I’ve tried to write this in a conversational manner, or as if I was doing a lecture in my college classroom.  I hated reading textbooks when I was in college or graduate school.  This is a practical guide which, while it won’t turn you into an instant profiler, will give you considerable understanding into how our minds work, and why we work the way they do.  I will admit I’ve interjected a little humor, but I think we all need it to break the tension during stressful times.  Besides, I just can’t help myself.

I promise you that I’ve put as much of my learning and experience into this book as I possible, and if you study some of the concepts and cases I’ve studied or profiled, you may gain a similar thirst to know even more.  If I’ve made you think in a different way, I’ve done my job.  And an author or a teacher can’t hope to accomplish more than that.


Pete Klismet from the FBI in 1999, and retired as full-time Professor of Criminal Justice in \2013. While in the FBI, Pete was selected to be one of the original group of criminal profilers. He is the founder of Criminal Profiling Associates, on the web at Pete an award-winning author of FBI DIARY: PROFILES OF EVIL, available from, his publisher at or through the links on his own web site listed above.