Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge – Criminal Revenge

Photo by lckidwell

Photo by lckidwell

Are you ready for our Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge? Remember, this is the last week in the challenge this month. Next week I will announce the winner to become our next Super Sleuth Challenge of the Month. This month’s prize is:

Book Description:

“After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Agent Grayson Hall’s number-one priority is to catch those responsible for the day’s act of terror. All evidence is pointing to Taryn and her new husband. But his instinct tells him her pleas of innocence are genuine. Is her naiveté just for show, or could she truly be another victim of a master scheme, possibly linked to the software she recently developed for her company?

With both their lives and reputations on the line, and the media outcry for justice increasing with each passing minute, Taryn and Grayson have no choice but to trust one another . . . and pray they can uncover the truth before they become two more casualties.” (Amazon Description)


Photo by nigeldy

Photo by nigeldy

Criminals aren’t always the brightest bulbs, as we’ve shown here on my blog before, at least not the ones who get caught. In fact, today’s culprit put revenge over brilliance.

A Kentucky man was arrested for shoplifting alcohol from a local convenience store. A short time later, he and his friends were discovered drinking it in a public place.

Note: This was not the first time that he had stolen beer from the same convenience store that day.

Even though this individual’s own choice to rob the same store multiple times in one day led to his arrest, of course he blamed the law enforcement official who arrested him.  The criminal decided to get even with the arresting officer.

Which of the following did the criminal do?

A. Use his one phone call to order pizza under the arresting officer’s name to be delivered to the precinct.

B. Steal the officer’s car once he was out on parole.

C. Key the entire length of the arresting officer’s squad car.

D. Have his buddies torch the officer’s mailbox.

E. Smash in the officer’s car windows with a baseball bat.

Guess the correct letter for your chance to win the Super Sleuth of the Month Award.


4 Tips To Establishing A Threat To Your Character Hawaii Five-O Style

Photo fcl1971

Photo fcl1971

Whether you write romantic suspense, romance, speculative fiction, young adult, or another genre of fiction, establishing a credible threat to your character is essential to building the conflict in your story.

It may be a conflict as a love triangle is built, another race is threatening to anialate your own, or a villain is threatening to kill the heroine. Regardless of the type of danger you are inflicting on your character, it is important that you establish a strong threat.

The following Hawaii Five-O Clip gives us a few ideas of how this might happen:


Four Tips To Establishing A Threat To Your Character Hawaii Five-O Style:

1. Establish Believable Placement of Characters – Notice that Catherine is invited to be logically headed to a place with purpose when she is abducted. Establishing the reason for her placement at the convenient place and time for catastrophe to occur is essential.

2. Establish Credible Threat - The phone call made to Steve from his enemy establishes the threat to his girlfriend. Notice how there are time lines for the threat turning deadly to increase the sense that Catherine could die.

3. Intensify Threat - The villain intensifies the threat by showing just how evil he is when he hits Catherine. If he didn’t do this, his power seems to be less in the scene. Also, note that Steve hears this taking place, making his concern for Catherine’s safety feel even more real.

4. Show Why We Should Care- This component happens a bit earlier in this episode where Steve shows he cares for Catherine. We all want to cheer for love, so we care if something happens to her because it will hurt him as well.

Note: The first three tips build the conflict and the last one develops tension. Susan May Warren helped me understand this difference between conflict and tension. Conflict is what stands in the way of a character reaching their goals and tension is established when we show why the reader should care.

A few of my favorite movies and books for establishing a threat to the victims are:

*”Love Comes Softly” – Marty is left alone without her husband. Each of these steps are here. If you can’t remember, the fourth is showing that she is pregnant which makes the reader care.

*”Star Wars”

*”The Client”

*”Lorenzo’s Oil”

*”The Pelican Brief”

*”Vertical Limit”

What are your favorite books or movies for establishing a threat to the victim?

Super Sleuth Challenge Answer – Wedding Frosting Caper Bandit

Photo by xoasleigh

Photo by xoasleigh

Can you believe the audacity of some people?

What would seem like a perfectly safe thing to ask a friend to do turns into a moment of disappointment for this newly wedded couple. Check this out.

Recap of the case:

The newly married couple cut the top couple’s cake to their 75 cupcake layered wedding cake. Intending to pass out the cupcakes to the wedding goers, the task was forgotten as they enjoyed the festivities of the day.

At the end of the reception and a friend helped them box up the cupcakes. Later when they went to retrieve them, they were gone.

What happened to the wedding cupcakes?

1.The catering crew thought they belonged to the catering materials and removed them at the end of the meal.

2. Two of the kids that attended the wedding smuggled them home in their car to nibble on later.

3. The best man took them home to his bachelor pad to share with buddies.

4. The friend took them to her boyfriend’s job to pass out as a treat.

When the young couple realized that they had forgotten to hand out the cupcakes, the friend assured them that she would take care of them until after the wedding night. The next day when they had tried to call the friend, she refused to answer the phone.

The bride was so angry that she stopped at the woman’s house the next day before leaving on her honeymoon. The woman didn’t answer the door. Finally, she left 25 of the 75 cupcakes on her doorstep and texted the bride that her boyfriend had them at his job at the police station.

As you can imagine, the bride remained miffed! She tried to file a police report, but they said a crime wasn’t committed.

To read more about this story click here.

Would you remain friends with the cupcake bandit if you were the bride? Why or why not?


Wednesday Super Sleuth Challenge – Wedding Theft Saavy

Photo by Greenbay

Photo by Greenbay

My wedding day there was a snow storm. Several of the guests were stuck in rush hour snow as they tried to make their way across the cities on slick roads. I’ll never forget starting our ceremony late because part of the wedding party had not yet arrived.

Despite the weather and a few other glitches, it is still one of my favorite memories. The dress, the songs, my hubby in a tux, the cake, and the moment my Prince Charming became my spouse.

As a Pastor’s daughter, I saw all kinds of wedding snafus; everything thing from melted cake that made you lean to take a photo that looked even, to a flooded church basement that unfortunately held the church restrooms.

Since summer is a big time for weddings, I thought I’d pull out a Super Sleuth Challenge for you Wedding Theft Saavy Sleuths.

Nothing says forever like a sweetly frosted taste of wedding cake bliss.

The newly married couple cut the top couple’s cake to their 75 cupcake layered wedding cake. Intending to pass out the cupcakes to the wedding goers, the task was forgotten as they enjoyed the festivities of the day.

At the end of the reception and a friend helped them box up the cupcakes. Later when they went to retrieve them, they were gone.

What happened to the wedding cupcakes?

1.The catering crew thought they belonged to the catering materials and removed them at the end of the meal.

2. Two of the kids that attended the wedding smuggled them home in their car to nibble on later.

3. The best man took them home to his bachelor pad to share with buddies.

4. The friend took them to her boyfriend’s job to pass out as a treat.

Which number do you think is right? What kind of cake did you have at your wedding?

What To Do On A Bad Manuscript Day – Bad Hair Day Lessons For Writers

Have you ever had a bad hair day? I have. In fact, if we look at my childhood photos I had bad hair years, if you know what I mean. We’ve got all of the right hair products, all of the best intentions and we are left with this. Sigh.

There are some things so universal that we all understand them. Bad hair days are one of them, but that is just the beginning. There are other times when we have all the right tools and the best of intentions, but at the end of the day our efforts are left in a tangle with stand up appeal.

Take for instance that new makeup you bought, that made the model look so great in the magazine. And because you would look so amazing, you bought the dress she was modeling too. Yeah. And then to make it better, you asked your spouse, “Honey does this make me look fat?”

Sometimes it is the small frustrations in life that make us crazy. There are much bigger things than our hairdo, but still we let it define our days from time to time.

Have you had a Bad Manuscript Day lately? Where you are seriously considering burning it, feeding it to the neighbor’s dog, or letting your toddler use it for coloring practice?

Then you are truly a writer. We have the tools and the best of intentions, but some days our manuscript doesn’t smack of brilliance. It is in a tangle with stand up comedian appeal.

What do you do on a Bad Manuscript Day?

*Use the Buddy System. Find a critique partner or friend to share the ups and downs of the writer’s life. To remind you that you really DO NOT want to shred your manuscript.

*Return to the Source. Remember, God is the source of all creativity. Sometimes we try to be amazing all on our own, but we need the Savior to inspire us. Find quiet time to refresh our creativity.

*Destroy the Lies. Lies often make us doubt ourselves and our God-given talent. Take the lie that is making you feel defeated and write it on a piece of paper, then shred it into pieces. Throw it away. Determine you are not going to believe the lies that destroy your self-confidence.

*Cling to the Dream. Dreamers have disappointments. They have to work hard to achieve their goals. If you could climb the mountain in one minute, there wouldn’t be much victory. Writing takes time and hard work to develop. You’re going to have set backs. Think of it as Mt.Everest. Pace yourself and expect set backs, but don’t let them sabotage your victory.

How do you cope on a Bad Manuscript Day?

Linguists of the Intelligence Community – Guest Post with Joe Courtemanche

Photo by joako13

Photo by joako13

Guest Post by Joe Courtemanche

Last month we covered some of the military intelligence types and what they do, how they think. This month we pick up with the linguists.

There are a few levels of linguist. When you enter the military you take the DLAB link: to find out what your aptitude is (hence the eponymous Defense Language Aptitude Battery.) This test, which is really fun and non-stressful, gives you examples of a made-up language in both aural and written forms.

When I took it, it seemed to follow Arabic grammar rules, so I did pretty well. Many who have taken it in years gone by feel a strong need to drink immediately afterward. Once you’ve taken the test the smiling recruiter will let you know how you did compared to others.

Yes, like the rest of life, it’s graded on a curve.

Photo by lm913

Photo by lm913

The knuckle draggers will be given languages in the Romance group. This is not to say that being a Spanish speaker is easy, it’s just that the odds are better that you’ll succeed in this versus Korean.

The middle group will get languages like Norwegian, German, Greek, Portuguese, and so on. The final group, the profoundly damaged test-takers, will be accorded the right to take Korean, Chinese (several different language courses,) Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Urdu, Dari, and other languages that require an especially facile mind with elastic capabilities above most mortals. (Did I mention that I speak Arabic?)

In all seriousness, the linguists are a strange group. We’re kind of proud of it. In fact, it’s a point of perverse pride that we can do everyone else’s job in addition to translating. This makes us very versatile – or very annoying. I even learned Morse Code to get a radio license and make it official: I am a know-it-all. I think my comrades would have said that in 1988 but now it’s on paper.

Let me tell a linguist story and then we’ll finish this part of the series out today. When I was in language school there weren’t enough instructors or classrooms for the Arabic students. So we had a different class schedule than all the other languages. We shuffled in and out of different rooms and buildings throughout the day, as opposed to most languages that camped in the same classroom for 50 weeks (shorter for some, longer for others.)

Photo by foxumon

Photo by foxumon

We were nomadic, just like some of our language targets. Because our day was an hour longer than everyone else, the Navy put us into a separate part of the barracks so that we wouldn’t disrupt the other students.

Fast forward to just before I left the Defense Language Institute and you will see a failed experiment. Someone had the bright idea to integrate all of the Arab linguists into the rest of the barracks. Seems we were a bit “high-spirited” and having our own little club house on the third deck of the building was frowned upon.

That integration lasted about three months. At the end of that time, the powers-that-be realized that we were corrupting all of the other students. There was no change in the Arab linguist survival rate, but their roommates were dropping like flies. We, rather proudly, were a bad influence on all of the others.

When I shipped off to the next school, all of the Arabs were back in the ghetto at the rear of the building on top of the perch. Kind of like segregating gangs from the rest of the inmates in a prison. Sometimes certain things are best not scrutinized too closely.

Photo by flaivoloka

Photo by flaivoloka

Military linguists have two functions: interpretation and interrogation. Some go to schools where they learn how to break codes, figure out what’s happening on the radio the enemy is using, and be passive in their actions. No speaking (for the most part,)just listening.

The other group, the interrogators, were the guys that talked to prisoners, went along on patrols to talk to locals, sat with the commanders to fill in the local blanks after talking to the village elders. Very different ways to use the language, very different personalities.

Like most people from the intelligence world, I lied. I can’t finish up this month. I’ll be back next month with another installment about the other folks that work in the field.

Until then, keep these folks in your prayers.

If you were a linguist, what language would you want to learn?


Joseph Courtemanche

Joseph Courtemanche

Joseph Courtemanche is a former Police Officer and certified Middle East, North Africa analyst. He is a distinguished veteran of the Naval Security Group of the United States Navy and is an Arabic linguist with training at The University of Minnesota and The Defense Language Institute. His linguistic and intelligence experience include multiple deployments to surface, submarine, and land based intelligence collection platforms. Joseph holds several military awards including two flag letters of commendation for his work in providing real-time intelligence support to commanders in the field.

Joseph’s experience provides the background that’s crucial to his writing in the Thriller genre from a Christian perspective with the gritty realism that modern readers demand. His  Assault on Saint Agnes won Second Place in the prestigious Athanatos Christian Ministries 2013 Christian Novel Contest, and was a 2013 Final Five Finalist in the Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel.

His Facebook fans find him at  and he blogs several times a week at You can follow him on Twitter @joecourtemanche.

“Somebody Like You” – A Brilliant Masterpiece by Beth K. Vogt

824607c5e41015ab5013fbe67ea773d5Not so often I read a book that leaves my jaw dropping at the beautiful words and metaphor. In fact it happens so rarely I can count it only on two hands that is why today I wanted to share with you Somebody Like you by Beth K. Vogt.

Why is this book so amazing? 

*The Characters.

Both the hero and heroine in this story gripped me with their originality.

Haley is a bit of a tom-boy, which I love, who grew up with a passel of brothers. She is spunky and tough. She works at a shooting range as an instructor.

Stephen is the twin brother of Haley’s husband who died in Afghanistan. He is tender and knows how to cherish a woman in a way that his brother never did.

*The Premise.

The whole unexpected twist of falling in love with your deceased husband’s twin and how to handle regrets of the past while still living for the future make this story unlike any other I’ve ever read. Vogt takes a difficult concept and weaves it beautifully into the lives of two characters we love.

*The metaphors and words. Let me share a few examples with you of the words in this book that really struck me:

“She was a shaky bridge to the twelve years of silence, but he had to try.”

Patches of leftover snow dotted the faded brown grass, and she had no idea what, if anything, would bloom in the flower bed beneath the front bay window.”

Her words, rough as unsanded wood, scraped at the wound Stephen still didn’t know how to live with.”

*The tug-at-your-heart emotional moments.

Several times during this book, my heart ached and soared with the character as she struggled to come to grips with her life. All the while, her hero made me a champion for their love for each other.  Be ready to laugh, cry, and say, “Aww.”

Have you read Beth’s book? If so, what was your favorite part? 

(If not, here is the link to buy her book on Amazon: )