It probably comes as no surprise, but the Upper Arlington Public Library has cancelled all meeting room reservations and use of meeting rooms in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. We hope to reschedule our ATF agent/guest speaker for a future date. Stay tuned, stay safe, and stay well. And keep writing!
The original program information is below.
On Saturday, 3/21/20, 12:00 p.m., at the Upper Arlington Library (2800 Tremont Road), BCW is going to host (drum roll): Jon McPherson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) with the Columbus Field Division of the ATF, a.k.a., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. We at BCW (speaking in the first person plural here) tend to think of all of our events kind of like our kids, e.g., we love them all. But secretly, there’s always one that’s a little special. And this is that one. Because it’s the ATF! You know . . . that ATF!! Elliot Ness and Al Capone. The Atlanta Bombing. Waco. The Oklahoma City bombing. The people on the front line of some of the most serious shizzle going on, and they’ve agreed to talk! To! Us! So to prepare you, we’ve put together a little quiz to calibrate your knowledge of this federal agency:
How many ATF field offices are there in
the U.S.? A. 12, B. 18, C. 25, D. 30.
A certain comic strip was based on the
famous ATF agent Elliot Ness and his group (“The Untouchables”). Which was it? A. Dick Tracy, B.
Pogo, C. Superman, D. Dilbert.
There are three levels of explosives
defined by the ATF: high (e.g., dynamite), low (e.g., black powder, fuses), and
blasting agents (e.g., ammonium nitrate-fuel oil). Can any of these legally be
stored in a residence? Yes/No
The ATF has a canine training center that
trains dogs to sniff out explosives. What’s the name of the 80-lb. yellow Lab
assigned to the Columbus field office? A. Kira, B. Andi, C.
Martina, D. Opey.
Elliot Ness began his career with the
ATF at the tender age of 23. 10 years later, after cleaning up Chicago and
putting away Al Capone, he resigned to become the Public Safety Director of
which city? A. Cincinnati, B. Detroit, C. Cleveland, D.
Ohio ranked where out of all states in
bomb threats (2016) and guns stolen from dealers (2018)? A. 1st,
B. 3rd, C. 5th, D. 7th.
The ATF is the sole federal agency
allowed to trace guns used in crimes. True/False
A typical ATF case is open (on average)
for how many years? A. 2, B. 4, C. 5, D. 7.
Basic training at the ATF National
Academy requires 37 weeks of intense specialized training. Where is the Academy
located? A. Quantico, Virginia, B. Oakland, California, C. Fargo,
North Dakota, D. Glynco, Georgia.
Although the ATF now investigates bombings,
arson, acts of terrorism, trafficking of firearms, narcotics, gangs/criminal
organizations, and provides criminal profiling and forensic laboratory services,
its earliest roots are based on what? A. taxes, B. British spies,
C. piracy in the Caribbean, D. cattle rustling.
Answers: 1) C, 2) A, 3) No,
4) D, 5) C, 6) B, 7) True, 8) B, 9) D,
Happy New Year, everyone! Our next meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Old Worthington Library.
Your book is finally in print — hooray! It’s the end of the long, difficult process of writing and rewriting — then rewriting again. But are you really finished? What comes next?
Authors know that publishing a book is only the first step in establishing a writing career. Join us on Jan. 25 for a discussion with Connie Berry, author of the Kate Hamilton Mystery series (Crooked Lane Books) about publicity, marketing, networking with other authors, setting goals, and creating a productive writing life.
Me (BCW President Patrick Stuart): Wake up. It’s time for NaNoWriMo!
You (you): NaNowuuuhhhhhh?
You heard me; NaNoWriMo. National. Novel. Writing. Month. That
time of year where you burn incense to the writing gods, sacrifice a Stephen
King novel or two, and start warming up the Keurig maker. Because you’re
going to be rocking that caffeine to get a 50,000 word rough draft done by the
end of November.
Hahahahaha! (wiping tears from eyes). I thought you said ’50,000 words.’
Holy (word redacted). You’re serious!
Damn straight. We do this every year. It’s a 30-day writing marathon
that started in 1999 with 21 people in San Francisco. Fifteen years later
there were over 400,000 participants.
And how many met their goal? (skeptical face)
About one in ten.
That’s not very many.
It’s the journey, not the destination, grasshopper.
I hate it when you do that pseudo-Buddhist (word redacted). Besides, I’ll
bet those manuscripts sucked.
That’s not the point. The point is to end up with a rough draft, or at
least a good start on one. Which can then be refined into something beautiful
Me:Water for Elephants , by Sara Gruen. The Night Circus,
by Erin Morgenstern. Or The Darwin Elevator series, by Jason
Hough. All of those started as NaNoWriMo manuscripts.
So you’re saying if I finish 50k words, I’ll soon be sitting on a six-figure
Hahahahaha! (wiping tears from eyes). That’s funny!
You’re a terrible president.
True dat. But NaNoWriMo is about starting, not finishing. Or as my grandpa used
to say, when the ‘poop hits the propeller.’ So go to the Bexley Library, 2411 E. Main Street, Bexley, Ohio on
Saturday, November 16, from noon to 4:00 p.m. BCW has the Technology Room reserved, so you can sit with your
fellow writers and write your fingers to the bloody nubs. We’ll even have
refreshments, and a cattle prod in case you fall asleep. Would you like a
Yeah, right (zzzzzzzzzzzz-snap). Sweet (several words redacted). That
Pain is just weakness leaving the body, grasshopper. See you there.
Gillian Flynn and Gone
Girl. Paula Hawkins and The Girl
on the Train. Lee Child, Patricia
Cornwell, Jo Nesbø, Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, Sue
Grafton, Stieg Larsson, or (insert your favorite author here). But what makes them special? Do the quirky British characters of Agatha
Christie awaken your inner Anglophile? Are
the pages of a Carl Hiaasen book tinged with sultry weirdness, coconut oil and
mosquito repellant? Or does Janet
Evanovich’s over-the-top bounty hunter protagonist make you secretly wish for
big hair, hoop earrings and a Joisey accent?
(hint: you know it does)
And more importantly,
as writers how do we tap into this nebulous and diabolical vein of readership desire? After all, we can string words together too. But it’s concocting that #%$*& secret
sauce. That pinch of missing ingredient,
to create the perfect combination of plot, dialogue, mood, character, setting .
. . whatever. Crafting the right
proportions to make people feel. Think
about us on the subway ride to work. Taking
a shower. Being trapped in a
conversation with a boring neighbor. Having
that last, final conscious thought before drowsing off to sleep at night. How do we occupy that space?
If you want to know,
join us on Saturday, October 19, at the Hilliard Library (4500 Hickory Chase
Way), from 12:30 – 2:30. Together we
will discuss our favorite authors, what we like about them, then list and compare
those traits to (hopefully) create a roadmap for how to reach that same
rarified level of Hamilton-like popularity.
Note: whether you’re a reader,
writer or both, novice or expert, this will be an interactive discussion so be
prepared to participate. Pinkie-finger-promise
though, it will be an awesome, transformational and inspiring experience (or at
the very least, a good way to kill a couple of hours). And as usual, please feel free to join us for
lunch afterwards, where we will discuss writing, the Buckeyes, home repair, Balinese
shadow puppetry, or whatever else strikes our fancy. But until then . . . keep writing.
Writing a book is a huge challenge, of course, but once you get there, the next trick is – what to do with it? More importantly, how do you sell it? There are many answers (and all of them take some work), but one of the cheapest, yet hardest, is to promote it on social media.
Three of Buckeye Crime Writers’ members will lead this session on how to make the best use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and will touch on some other methods, such as joining podcasts. These are all free (unless you choose to pay for additional advertising). Dan Stout (author of Titanshade), Eileen Curley Hammond (author of the Merry March series), and Jim Sabin (longtime journalist and public relations professional) will share their tips for finding your social media voice, knowing which social media to use (and how), and how to deal with the inevitable trolls. Join us at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Old Worthington Library, and stay tuned to this space for more details.
Quick, which writer invented the Church Lady Bandit?
How about the Droopy Drawers Bandit?
How about the Two-Hat Robber?
These are not characters from a cozy or the latest murder mystery. They were actually real people, though their nicknames were conveyed upon them not by some enterprising journalist, but by an FBI agent. Contrary to what you may have heard in Men In Black, FBI agents DO have a sense of humor that they’re aware of, and now-retired FBI Special Agent Harry Trombitas used his to humanize the bank robbers he was charged with catching.
Trombitas will bring those stories, and many more, to our
next meeting, and we can’t wait to hear them!
Trombitas served in the FBI from 1983 until his retirement
in 2012. He worked in Omaha, Nebraska, St. Louis, and New York before coming to
Columbus in December 1991, and he served as spokesman for the Columbus office
from 2003 until his retirement. Before that, he worked as a police officer and
detective at Northwestern University and director of public safety at Creighton
University. He has a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Ohio State and a
master’s in counseling and psychology from Creighton, and is a lecturer in
sociology at Ohio State. He is also the system vice president of security
operations at OhioHealth and director of the Police Executive Leadership
College for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.
His wife of 40 years and his two children all graduated from
Ohio State, so he’s clearly a Buckeye through and through.
Please join us Aug. 17 at the Old Worthington Library, 820
High Street, Worthington, at 12:30 for your chance to hear about Harry’s career
Now that summer’s kicked off, we’re diving in, ready to soak up all the info we can about cybercrime! How DO criminals surf the web and use the internet to steal and wreck havoc on people’s lives? On July 20, from 12:30 – 2:30 at the Bexley Library, our guest speaker, Jessica Kim, will supply the answers.
Description:As the public employs emerging technologies to prosper and improve the quality of life, criminals target and employ those same technologies as instruments of crime. Since the early 1990s, cyber crime, also known as internet and high-tech crime, has rapidly increased, posing grave threats and corresponding challenges. This presentation will highlight the following topics: Social media and online investigations Cryptocurrency: a primer and current issues Theft of intellectual property Cyberstalking Phishing and business email compromise Cyber crime cases and coordinating with DOJ Obtaining electronic evidence in criminal investigations Venue in cyber cases (including international challenges) The presentation will also highlight how to identify and investigate a crime, who is involved, and what roles different players serve, including the criminal, law enforcement officers, and attorneys.
Bio: Jessica Kim is an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Ohio, where she focuses on white collar crimes, public corruption, and cybercrimes. Since December 2016, she has served as the district’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) coordinator for the Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton offices. In 2018, Jessica was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions by a New Employee for exemplary work as an AUSA, including the landmark prosecutions of the district’s first two cyberstalking cases. She was also awarded the Federal Bar Association’s 2018 Younger Federal Lawyer Award, a national award for government attorneys who have exemplified outstanding legal ability and commitment to the community. Prior to joining the USAO, Jessica served as a law clerk to the Hon. G. Steven Agee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Hon. Edmund A. Sargus Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Jessica received her B.A. from Miami University in three years and her J.D., with high honors, from the Ohio State University. Since 2014, she has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where she teaches white collar crime. Jessica also currently serves as President of the Columbus chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
And as a preview for August, we’re sticking with the federal law enforcement theme. Retired FBI agent Harry Trombitas, former leader of the Columbus bureau of the Bureau, will join us Aug. 17. Let’s just shatter any illusions of a stuffy federal agent, though; this is the man who brought us the Droopy Drawers Bandit and other colorfully-named criminals! The location will be announced soon.
No sunscreen needed for this meeting. Hope to see you July 20! The BCW Board
It’s that time of year
again. No, not taxes, baseball season, Cinco de Mayo, National Scurvy
Awareness Day (May 2nd, look it up), yadda yadda. It’s the
annual Buckeye Crime Writers writing critique! Where you submit your work
to a bunch of sadistic creeps your fellow writers! To
have them pick it apart and rip it to pieces carefully read it
and offer constructive criticism! So that you can go home and cry
yourself to sleep gain useful advice and improve your writing!
Hey, wait! Hold up! Where you goin,’ Owen?
No, really, this is what
you’ve been waiting for. One of our biggest and most popular events of
the season. If you’ve been working on a manuscript, novella, short story,
rough draft, revision, whatever, this is el momento de la verdad.
The way it works:
Rule #1: submit up to roughly 10
pages (more or less) of whatever you’re working on. Send it to email@example.com by Wednesday,
Rule #2: if you submit, you will
then receive copies of everyone else who submits material.
Why? Because if you want to be reviewed, you also need to review.
Rule #3: meeting is Saturday,
5/11/19, 12:30 – 3:00, at the Northwest Worthington Library (2280 Hard
Road). Show up with printed copies of everything you’ve
reviewed, with your comments. After each submittal is discussed by
the group, you’ll give your copy to the particular author.
Hint: using the ‘comment’ feature in Word and then printing
submissions is an easy way of doing things. Or you can print first
and handwrite comments as you read. Your call.
Rule #4: be cool. Critique
professionally and accept critiques of your work with the same
composure. It’s all good, we’re here to help each other, and then we
all go out afterwards to eat, drink and be merry.
Here are the guidelines:
Everyone who submits a writing sample will receive all the
samples from each participant, and you’re kindly expected to provide feedback
Writing samples should be submitted in Time New Roman or Courier
font, 12 pt., with 1″ margins.
Your Name and Title should appear in the header.
Pages should be numbered and double-spaced.
So that’s it. Easy
peasy, lemon squeezy. Show your work to your peers, get some good advice
and progress as a writer. And remember: we’re taking June off (our
summer break) so you’ll have you’ll have lots of time to think, ponder and
revise as you develop that million-dollar hit with your new-found knowledge.
So come out and waste a Saturday afternoon in the literary arts with us.
And until then? Keep writing.
Another one of our members, board member Connie Berry, has her first book, ‘A Dream of Death,’ publishing in April! Find out more in her interview with fellow board member Kandy Williams.
KW: Ms. Connie Berry has done the near-impossible–she’s gotten a book published! Not only that, she has a contract for the sequel and has signed an agent. This is a feat that many writers aspire to, so it makes sense to begin by asking, her: Could you please share the story of your journey? How long did it take you to write your book and find an agent?
CB: I know writers who claim to have dashed off their first novel in three months. My journey took a bit longer—ten years, as a matter of fact, from the moment I first typed Chapter One until the day I signed my publishing contract with Crooked Lane Books.
My initial problem was time. Lecturing on theology by day, writing was relegated to evenings, weekends, and summers. That in itself wasn’t insurmountable. Lots of successful writers have day jobs. My biggest problem (although I didn’t recognize it at the time) was impatience — or maybe stubbornness. I just wanted to write, and worrying about peripheral stuff like story structure and pacing slowed me down. Or so I thought.
didn’t know what I didn’t know.
thing I did know: my book wasn’t ready for submission. Once I realized that
writing a good book required learning the craft, I began to educate myself.
Little by little I learned. Around Christmas of 2017, after many rounds of
revision, I decided I’d done everything I knew how to do. The following
February I attended Sleuthfest, a writers’ conference in Florida, and met my
editor, Faith Black Ross, from Crooked Lane Books. She read my manuscript and
offered me a two-book contract. With contract in hand, I contacted my agent,
Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary, and she took me on.
One in the Kate Hamilton Mystery series comes out in April. Book Two will be
published the following October.
KW: Now that you’ve gone through the process of writing a book–from idea to finished product–what advice would you give to writers who are still working to make the dream come true?
CB: Learn from my mistakes. Take time to learn the craft of novel writing. Writing to please yourself is a wonderful thing, but if you want to actually sell that book, you must learn what today’s publishers, agents, and readers want. Breaking the rules is okay. Not knowing the rules isn’t. Fortunately this information is readily available. Attend writers’ conferences, take online classes through Sisters in Crime and other writers’ groups. Find out what story structure is all about. Join a critique group. Find a couple of beta readers (not your spouse or your mother) who will tell you the truth. And read, read, read. Notice how authors you admire use setting, character development, point-of-view, dialogue, and description. If you need somewhere to start, I recommend Don’t Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roerden, and Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot by Jane K. Cleland.
KW: What can readers expect from the Kate Hamilton Mystery Series?
I hope readers will find an engaging protagonist and a mystery that keeps them
guessing until the end. Since Kate is an antiques dealer, antiques will play a
role in each book along with a sense of history. Readers who enjoy stories set
in the UK will spend time in the Scottish Hebrides and a village in rural
KW: Can you share an excerpt from A DREAM OF DEATH?
BC: I never wanted to return to Glenroth.
Three years had passed since Bill’s death, and the veneer of coping I’d laid over my grief was as thin as eggshell porcelain and every bit as breakable. It didn’t take much — the smell of the sea, hearing a snatch of a Scots accent, finding one of Bill’s distinctive doodles on a scrap of paper — and there I was, back in the land of memories and regrets.
That was the problem. On the Isle of Glenroth, memories and regrets lay as thick on the ground as yellow gorse in autumn. Still, a promise was a promise. Even one I’d never intended to keep.
“Going somewhere fun?” my mother had asked.
“Scotland. Glenroth, actually.”
There’d been a moment of tactful silence. “Sure that’s a good idea, Kate?”
Of course I wasn’t sure. Especially at the moment. Thick curtains of fog swirled across the deck of the car ferry, swallowing the landing ahead. I was the only passenger, and I’d been instructed to set my emergency brake and remain in the driver’s seat for the duration of the twenty-minute voyage. The boat lurched, and I gripped the wheel of the hatchback I’d hired at the train station in Fort William, grateful for the metal railing dividing the deck of the small craft from the icy depths of Cuillin Sound.
With a long blast of the ship’s horn, the fog parted and the Isle of Glenroth rose before me like Brigadoon materializing in the Highland mist. Trees lined the banks, their bare limbs dark and lined with snow. An old movie in black and white. The bell sounded, and I started my engine.
“Take care, lass,” the burly ferryman called through my partially open window. “Roads ’re slick.”
My second warning. The man at the car-hire desk had made a point of telling me about the “wee airly storm” that had blown through the Inner Hebrides the previous night, surprising the islanders with a layer of wet snow.
“Could I talk ye into waitin’ till mornin’?” he’d asked in a wheedling tone. When I explained that I’d learned to drive in snowy Wisconsin, he’d shrugged. “Whit’s fur ye will no go past ye.” What will be, will be.
I closed the window, tasting the salty tang of the sea on my lips. Ahead to the north, I could just make out the rocky peaks of Skye. Behind me, although I couldn’t see them, were the islands of Rúm and Eigg. The car bumped over the ramp onto solid ground.
Twenty-two hours after leaving Cleveland’s airport, I’d arrived—by plane, train, automobile, and ferryboat — on the small Hebridean island where my husband was born. And where he died.
KW: You’ve been hard at work on book 2 in the series. How different was the experience of writing that book compared to writing the first?
CB: Writing Book Two, A Legacy of Murder, took far less time because I didn’t make the mistakes I made with Book One. I plotted out the whole book in advance, so I knew where I was going and how each scene fit into the whole. Nevertheless, my characters sometimes said or did things that surprised me. That made writing an adventure.
KW: Fun question. You’re locked in a castle for an escape room-style adventure. What authors (living or deceased) would you want on your team?
CB: Obviously I’d enlist the help of John Dickson Carr, king of the locked room mystery. If he couldn’t get me out, no one could. And I’d invite Agatha Christie with her well-known eye for details and hidden clues. I’d include James W. Hall, author of the Thorn, P.I. books, would keep us all laughing. And Michael Crichton — just because he’s nice to look at.
Hi, everyone! Did you enjoy our first winter blast? Ready for the next one? The good thing about all that snow is, it’s a great time to stay at home and get some writing done.
And if you happen to be writing a murder mystery, and someone happens to get, ahem, poisoned, then our next event is right up your alley.
Dan Baker is the Chief Toxicologist at the Franklin County Coroner’s Office. Mr. Baker earned a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science from Youngstown State University, a Master of Science in Pharmacology & Toxicology and a Graduate Certificate in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense from Wright State University, Boonshoft School of Medicine. Mr. Baker is a Board Certified Fellow in Forensic Toxicology by the American Board of Forensic Toxicology. Mr. Baker has co-authored publications in The Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Case Reports in Medicine, and the journal Clinical Toxicology on subjects such as opioid related deaths, novel psychoactive substances, carbamazepine metabolism, and fentanyl intoxication. Mr. Baker has 18 years’ experience in various toxicology specialties including postmortem toxicology, human performance toxicology, pre-employment drug screening, probation/parole compliance drug testing, and professional sports doping control.
This event will be held Feb. 16 at the Bexley Library. So please, join us, and… BYOB! 😉 (But seriously, folks – this is a public library, so make sure it’s non-alcoholic. Just in case!)
On March 30, we have Katharine Weber, the Richard Thomas Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Kenyon College. She’ll be with us on March 30 in the meeting room of the Gahanna Library. And April 20, Linda Kass, founder and owner of Gramercy Books, is coming to visit.
As always, our meetings are from 12:30 to 3 p.m., with a lunch afterward in which we ask our guests all the questions we were afraid to ask them in front of people, but are perfectly fine with discussing over, say, food. Mark your calendars!