Tag Archives: detective

#2016WPA A World of Mayhem and Murder

WPA—a world of murder, arson, guns and explosives! A place where at the next corner you’ll be faced with a man lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood; his brains oozing out of his eye socket, bits of brain matter flung across the floor.

This was the world in which I immersed myself for four days.

Writer’s Police Academy utilized the facilities of the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College where real cops, EMS, and fire fighters train. The first night of WPA, we were treated to a chance to interrogate police officers about the equipment they use—everything from guns, rifles, battering rams, (let me tell you—that battering ram was heavvvvy!) SWAT shields and vehicles. They went through the procedure for forced entry by SWAT.

Throughout our classes at WPA, our instructors were cops, fire fighters, arson investigators, ballistics experts, and emergency medical experts. John Flannery taught my first class, Blood Spatter, (spatter; not splatter!)
John Flannery WPA

Dry book learning was not on the menu at WPA. A homicide scene greeted us as we walked into John’s class. A bullet hole in the window, blood spatter on the wall behind the couch, the body of a male—late twenties—lying in a pool of blood, brain matter coming out of one eye socket, the skull and clumps scattered on the floor.
WPA Blood Spatter Victim

We were the officers investigating the homicide. What clues did we see? Who did we suspect was the assailant? Why was there a bloody handprint on the bookcase? Did the victim make it after being shot through the eye? Didn’t people immediately die from such a gunshot wound? Did the jar with marijuana have anything to do with the murder? Why was there a revolver close to the victim and a shell casing from a 9 mm off to one side? Did either have anything to do with the murder?

Those were the obvious clues as we first encountered the scene. Other clues slowly came to our attention under John’s careful guidance, as did the possible meaning of each clue as it pertained to the crime. Blood spatter behind the couch linked to the bloody handprint on the bookcase. The victim had been shot through the eye as seen by the blood spatter behind the couch. (No brains oozing out yet) Holding his bleeding head, he had staggered across the room, placing his bloody hand on the bookcase to stay upright, then eventually falling to the floor where we then saw his body. He was not dead at this point—contrary to what a person might think knowing about the grievous head wound.

Blood spatter WPA
Someone had entered or had been present in the apartment when the victim fell. That person had then proceeded to kill the victim. This person’s presence became clear from the blood spatter on the ceiling above the victim’s body and the spatter on the wall to the right of the victim’s body. The spatter on the ceiling created four dotted lines of blood. This pattern was also seen on the wall to the right. We learned that this was cast off blood—blood flung from the instrument itself– blood streaks made when a blunt instrument is drawn back to hit the victim again.

The assailant had used a blunt instrument to beat the victim once he had fallen to the floor. The beating was the cause of death, even though the head shot may have killed him eventually. What kind of instrument was used to beat the victim? Was it still in the apartment?

A pool cue was used to beat the victim. The blood had been carelessly wiped off, leaving a pale pink stain at the pointed end of the stick. The felt tip was responsible for the blood droplets on the floor, the droplets that were fairly round with just a faint tail. This let us know that the assailant, after beating the victim to death, had walked away from the body with the end of the cue pointed down toward the floor. The diameter and shape of the blood droplets told us that.
Blood droplets from weapon being carried

A bloody footprint indicated that someone, perhaps the assailant, had stepped in the victim’s blood. The shoe print had a pointed toe, was small—like maybe a size five or six—and had a definite heel which was square—like a woman’s pump.
WPA Shoe print in blood

After examination it was revealed that the victim had shot through the window at someone or something outside of his apartment. This accounted for the bullet hole in the window and the revolver close to the victim.

We still had the 9 mm shell casing which indicated that a 9 mm had been used inside of the apartment to shoot the victim. His assailant had then, after the victim fell, proceeded to viciously beat him in the face and head with the pointed end of the pool cue. This beating resulted in the brain oozing out of the eye socket and the caved-in look of the right side of the victim’s head. Further investigation revealed a woman’s driver’s license tossed or fallen in the trash can in the living room where the victim lay. The beating was vicious and had continued far beyond just immobilizing or killing the victim warranted. It demonstrated that this crime had been committed with passion; it was personal. We concluded that we should look at the victim’s girlfriend, wife, lover, and exes.

Though this murder had been a scenario set up by John, he also showed and explained real crime scene photos which were horrendous. The first crime scene photo was of a woman in a cabin. The woman’s body had been found crumpled between the wall and the bed. From blood stains on the bed it was obvious the woman had been resting or sleeping when the attack began. She next fell or rolled out of bed in an attempt to elude her attacker. She was standing when the attacker hit her with a sharp instrument in the head. Blood smeared down the wall as she crumpled to the floor.

The assailant continued his attack after the woman was on the floor. One of the wounds was a hacked open thigh which left the muscles gaping with blood pooled in the wound. The pooled blood indicated that the wound had been made perimortem. The heart had stopped pumping before the blood drained over the edge of the deep wound. The assailant had also removed the woman’s left hand—post mortem fortunately for the victim–and it was found next to the wall. The viciousness of the attack indicated that it had been personal.

This led the investigation to the woman’s estranged husband. The estranged husband had followed the woman to the cabin, waited until their children had gone down to the beach, and then entered and attacked the sleeping woman. The severed hand was the hand with the wedding band still on it.

Unfortunately, the couple’s young children found their mother when they returned from the beach.

In the second set of crime scene photos, a mother and her child had been killed in their home; their throats slit. John was sensitive to the fact that the death of the infant might be troubling to some people. He announced that in the coming photos that an infant had been killed and if anyone wanted to leave for this part, it was perfectly all right and they could return after this particular crime scene had been examined. A few people who had small children at home did leave for this part of our session.

John then walked the class through the crime scene photos, explaining what the blood on the woman’s arms meant—she had grabbed at her slit throat in a vain attempt to save her own life. Next we explored the baby’s photos. On the side of the child’s face, there was blood—which went with the slit throat—but there was also a clean space called a void where no blood had run. This indicated that the child had been sleeping with his head turned to the right side when his throat had been slit, but at some time after that—perimortem which means at or close to the time of death–the child had turned his head until his face pointed upward. The void occurred because when the blood was running, the turn of the head placed a small part of that cheek against some object that the blood ran around—the bed was most obviously the object. The child, before dying, had turned his head to where his face looked up and then he died.

The assailant, who turned out to be the estranged husband and father, claimed that though he confessed to the crimes that his sentence should be mitigated because he killed his wife and son with humane means that resulted in instant death and that they did not suffer—ie: a slit throat.

The woman’s bloody arms and the void on the child’s cheek proved that both victims had struggled after their throats were slit and therefore had not died instantly.

The Blood Spatter class was packed with information and this short blog post cannot give it justice. Suffice it to say that I learned a ton of stuff! John was one of the best instructors I have ever encountered. If you want to read about John’s extensive credentials go to http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/john-flannery/

Sisters in Crime was one of the sponsors for the #WritersPoliceAcademy. To learn more about #SistersInCrime go to http://www.sistersincrime.org/

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4 Whys & 4 Hows of #Journaling

worthRemembering

Writing is not for the faint of heart. When words are put on paper, or computer screen, we are opening our minds, our emotions, and our souls to the reader. In journaling, the reader is also the writer and that is what makes journaling a powerful tool in #StressManagement, and in dealing with our daily struggles and triumphs, among many other uses.

There are 4 strong reasons to journal:

1.Express negative emotion safely. Have you ever said something then wanted to take it back, erase it? Once journaling becomes a habit, these unfortunate situations decrease drastically. You write out those hasty, and not so hasty, comments and then take the time to re-read and evaluate them. Should they be said? How could this be said in a more tactful manner? Am I simply venting my frustrations inappropriately?

2.Track progress in a project or toward a goal. In our very busy world it is easy to get sidetracked by an avalanche of things we need to do. Buried beneath this avalanche are those projects we hold closest to our hearts; ones that often get neglected. One way to insure that a project, whether large or small, reaches a successful conclusion is to track the progress of the project. In a journal, you can do that on a daily, or a weekly, basis. It is especially helpful if we sketch out our plans in the journal first, such as build tree house for the children. From that broad goal, you can then write out the steps to accomplish the end result and what materials will be needed. This is simply one way to track progress toward an objective.

3.Think ‘out loud’. We all occasionally need a sounding board, but there are times when the person we normally go to is either inappropriate or unavailable at the time of our need to ‘think out loud’. Thinking out loud is easily accomplished through writing in a journal. You put your thoughts, however rambling, into the journal and then leave them for a few hours. Go back and re-read what you have written. Often new inspirations or simply a new perspective will give you much needed feedback on the issue at hand.
Use these pages to record your emotions; even the ones that seem difficult to share such as the feeling of being vulnerable when you look up at the stars flung across the vast heavens; the heart-stopping joy at seeing the first butterfly of the season; the sadness of seeing a small animal dead along the road; the love for that special person that you haven’t yet found the courage to shout from the rooftops. Record those dreams that seem so out of reach that you fear to share them with anyone.
Use the journal to capture the moment; record the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings evoked as you catch a glimpse of a wild mountain goat in his natural habitat, or see the eagle soar above the raging white waters of a river. Life has a way of obscuring these moments. When we journal we capture the essence, what the moment means to us, more surely than any photograph.
manydroplets
Capture those droplets of life in your journal where you can revisit them from time to time.

4.To record our daily struggles and triumphs; our accomplishments, large and small. One of the easiest things to do is to tell ourselves that we have not ‘accomplished anything today’ (or this week, this month, this year!) All too frequently, the large and small triumphs get washed away on a flood of things we still need to do. Once we lose track of those triumphs, we forget how much we have actually accomplished. By journaling about large and small triumphs, we can use our journal as a tool for positive motivation. Record the fact that you got the kids to all their games on time; that you cooked a wonderful dinner for your significant other; and that you finally got that raise you deserve.
Use your journal to record struggles, self-doubts, and worries. A week or a month later go back and review these things. How were issues resolved? Was that self-doubt something that you needed to analyze and address? Time and again, you will discover that you have made good choices; you have overcome what could have been crippling self-doubts; and you have moved forward in spite of worry and obstacles. This will reinforce the fact that you are a capable person, and it will give you ideas on how to handle similar situations in the future.

There are 4 easy steps in journaling:

1.Choose a journal book that best fits you. A journal can be a spiral bound notebook or a bound and covered book with blank pages. It should at least be the size of a paperback book, but don’t use three ring binders as they don’t feel ‘intimate’ enough for personal thoughts and expression of emotion.

2.Dedicate a specific amount of time for journaling during a quiet period of the day—this can be once a day or once a week. It should be at least once a week as beyond that we forget the important things we want to say in our journals and journaling won’t become a habit.

3.Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or any other grammar boogeyman. Just go with the flow. This is not the final draft of a novel. These words are for your eyes only. Sometimes, the flow-of-consciousness—just allowing yourself to write without any specific purpose or goal—is a great way to discover subconscious thoughts and feelings.

4.Keep your journal somewhere safe from prying eyes. It’s for you, to share parts of it or to not share it at all.

There, you have it–four strong reasons why you should journal, and four easy steps to start your adventure today! Happy writing!

Go to http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK to check out my work.
Sketch of a Murder, the first book of the Special Crimes Team series, is FREE. Go to http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ ALL the books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read out of sequence or as stand-alones.

Just like journaling, reviewing a book is best done in the heat of the moment. So, when you reach that last page, shoot over to wherever you purchased the book–or if it was a gift, shoot over to Amazon or Goodreads–and leave a review. An author will thank you.

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#Reviews: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

REVIEWS: The Good, Bad, and Ugly
Your opinion counts—especially with Independent Authors AKA #IndieAuthors—those of us who choose to write and to publish our own work. I read every review I receive, and I take them seriously. What the reader says matters to me.
What is even more important for the reader to understand is that reviews and word-of-mouth can make or break an Indie book. We swim, or drown, in an ocean of books. creeping fog on ocean
Between 600,000 and 1 million new books are published every year. With limited advertising budgets and no large house to create “buzz” for us, we have to depend on rankings, especially rankings on Amazon, to have our books placed far enough toward the top of the queue that readers who are randomly searching–say ‘mystery’–will happen upon our books. Two ways to get good rankings on Amazon is to either sell a lot of books every day and/or amass at least twenty-five 4 and 5 star reviews.
Unfortunately, Indie authors also face the terrible monsters of the deep. Beneath the choppy waters of the ocean of books lurk Review Trolls. Here is a rare photo of a Review Troll, note the wide open mouth getting ready to gobble up a Indie Author: Sea Monster Yawning
Review trolls are people who purchase a book, keep it a day or two and then return the book without reading it. That person can now post an Amazon VERIFIED purchase review. The reviews that trolls publish are always meant to wreck an author’s ratings. Like black hat hackers, review trolls are about unnecessary destruction. Their ratings, however, will pull down the ranking of the book that they attack unless that book has enough 4 and 5 star ratings to successfully counterbalance the trolls’ attacks.
With the challenges involved in getting very busy people to write and post reviews and fending off troll attacks, Indie authors face advertisers who won’t even consider their book for their publications and email blasts unless the book has at least ten 4 and 5 star reviews on AMAZON! They don’t count Barnes and Noble or Smashwords reviews. Everyone knows that advertising is one way to get your book in front of a larger audience. Classic chicken and egg situation. Advertising could result in more reviews, but you can’t advertise with the really good advertisers without ten reviews.
You see, a reader’s opinion really does matter, especially to an Indie author. The next time you finish a book, please consider zipping over to Amazon and quickly posting an honest review.
For me, and for many Indie authors who put in incredibly long hours, we thank you!
AMAZON REVIEW EXCERPTS FROM READERS:
STREET HARVEST (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, SECOND BOOK. ALL BOOKS IN THIS SERIES CAN BE READ OUT OF SEQUENCE) Pat Rummenie says:
Everyone with a social conscience who also loves a good mystery should read this well written book.
OLD WOMAN GONE (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, THIRD BOOK) Amazon Customer says:
The mixture of police procedures and Native American spiritualism are needed to solve the crime and rescue the two women. The author knows the setting well and uses it to enhance the story.
BACKLASH! (SPECIAL CRIMES TEAM, FOURTH BOOK) Coppercreek says:
I love crime novels, and this really hit the spot.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONG MYSTERY/THRILLER) KtHack8 says:
I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a story about life and finding the will to overcome adversity.
RUN OR DIE (STAND-ALONE MYSTERY/THRILLER) Denise Gayl says:
Thought provoking about the injustices of bigotry and racism, and the ray of sunshine that there are people “out there” willing to accept, love, and help others even though their lifestyles are unlike their own. Well done.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) pwindsinspirations says:
This story brought out emotions in me I had hidden away. I, too, was abused and afraid to tell anyone for fear of only making it worse for myself….. I liked how it took me from despair to triumph and the way the writer brought that about.
HARD ROAD HOME (LITERARY, COMING-OF-AGE) Denise Gayl says:
A very good read. As a mother of 2 girls, the subject matter is a bit difficult at times. But, in the end, it shows that young women pitted against adversity through no fault of their own can come back strong and live good lives. Is thought provoking and makes me realize there is much that needs to be done in this society to help young people thrive.
THIS is why I write! Thank you, Readers! YOU are my inspiration!
katrina leavereview

SKETCH OF A MURDER, Special Crimes Team, is FREE. Run over and grab your copy! http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

To view my other titles go to: http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK

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Reporters: Truth Tellers Or…?

BeautyWillPersist

Every time that I read headlines in the newspaper, I recall Sergeant Nita Slowater’s feelings about reporters. In Sketch of a Murder the protagonist, Sergeant Nita Slowater, doesn’t like reporters; in fact, she despises them. Her introduction to Dawn Samira, investigative reporter for the Seattle Times, reinforces Nita’s attitude.

Excerpt from Sketch of a Murder:
As they emerged from the car, she spotted a woman standing outside the yellow crime scene tape. A five-foot nothing blonde bomb that was roughly two seconds from explosion, if the hand waving and the foot stomping at the patrol officer told a true tale. Must be the reporter. They always act like the police should fall over their own feet giving them access to crime scenes. Arrogant asses.

After leaving the crime scene, Nita is told by her superior, Lieutenant Michael Williams that she will be the liaison with Dawn. Nita is far from pleased.

Excerpt from Sketch of a Murder:
“I don’t do politics and I don’t play ‘meet-the-press.’” She yanked on the snug lap belt and shifted her body away from him.
He slammed the heel of his hand against the steering wheel. “What’s such a big deal about this, Sergeant Slowater?”
Body stiff, she swung around to face him. “What’s such a big deal? Do you know why I got exiled to SCaT?”
He gave a one-shouldered shrug. “Governor Marleton didn’t think I needed that kind of information at this time.”
“I’ll tell you why—I slugged a fucking reporter and knocked him on his skinny, white ass.”

Still the lieutenant insists that she be Dawn’s contact during the case. Finally, Nita tells the lieutenant why she despises reporters.

Excerpt from Sketch of a Murder:
“I heard an undercover man was found dead when the doors got busted open.”
For a second, she closed her eyes then the images on the back of her lids forced them open again. “Yeah. My best friend, Ed.”
He scratched his jaw, fingers rasping against his five o’clock shadow. “What happened?”
She redirected her attention to the side window, watched the trees and bushes flash past. The memory hit her in the chest like someone hammering on a punching bag.
In the pre-dawn hours of that February morning, a drizzle of cold rain had weaseled its way down the back of her Kevlar vest as she waited for the go command. She’d been in the second wave to spread out through the blackness of the sprawling warehouse. Flashlight beams bounced off of stacks of boxes, pallets of crates. Barrels took up one large, roped off area. She recalled thinking how easy it would be for a sniper to pick them off. Only the first wave had night vision goggles; everyone else was pinpointed with flashlights.
Static nearly made the terse commands coming over her radio unintelligible. No need to answer. The office door loomed ahead of her, its pebbled glass bouncing the light into glittering fragments. The darkness looming all around them gobbled it up like a hungry beast. Head low, she reached over and twisted the knob. Locked.
Her partner, Ricky Day, held his gun in the ready position and tilted his head at the door. She nodded back. He swung in front of the door and kicked. The wooden jamb splintered. The door flew open, slammed against the wall hard enough to crack the glass in the upper half of it.

Even facing straight ahead she could feel the lieutenant stealing quick looks at her. The smells of that day wafted up from her memory. Technicolored pictures in her mind ran on fast-forward in an infinite loop, complete with surround-sound. Over and over. The coppery smell of Ed’s blood. The sour smell of a rookie puking. The echoing of the empty warehouse—empty except for Ed’s body still strapped to a battered wood chair in the main office.
The words clawed their way up her throat. “Those bastards tortured him. Cut out his eyes. Sliced off his lips and tongue and hacked off both ears.”
“Shit!” The curse exploded from him.
Her eyes darted toward him. Staring at his face, she felt the tie between them. Cops. In spite of their differences, they were cops. “Staub printed an exposé the day before—pretty much told them that one of our people was on the inside. No one could prove how he got his information, but the FBI agent working with us disappeared during the raid.” Silence pooled between them. She refocused her gaze on the roadside racing past the side window.
Miles later they ran into Seattle’s normal late afternoon gridlock. Taillights flickered. They coasted to a stop. Heat wavered up from the asphalt and mixed with the ghostly gray wisps of exhaust from the car in front of them.
“Dawn’s not like that.” His words hung in the stuffy air as the car crawled along.
She didn’t look at him. “They’re all like that, sharks without a conscience. All they care about is the blood, and they don’t really care whose blood it is.”

There is a segment of the population who believe that news reporters seek sensationalism rather than reporting objectively, and that such biased reporting negatively affects the information the general public receives about important events.
What do you think? Have you read about events in the newspapers or heard about them on television broadcasts that you feel are biased reports rather than actual reporting of events?
Do you feel that Nita’s attitude about reporters is accurate?

Don’t forget to get your FREE ebook copy of Sketch of a Murder and see if Nita ever finds a way to get along with Dawn.
http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

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STOP! We Need Strong Female Characters

front cover artemis (One of my favorite book covers)
http://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6

So here’s a quick questionnaire for filmmakers who’ve created a female character who isn’t a dishrag, a harpy, a McGuffin to be passed around, or a sex toy. Congratulations, you have a Strong Female Character. That’s a great start! But now what? Screenwriters, producers, directors, consider this:”

I decided to compare my books to this standard to see how my strong female characters rate: (also please remember that my protagonists are all female)

1.“After being introduced, does your Strong Female Character then fail to do anything fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot? Anything at all?”

My strong female characters, even the secondary ones, always have a reason for being that is significant to the plot.

2.“If she does accomplish something plot-significant, is it primarily getting raped, beaten, or killed to motivate a male hero? Or deciding to have sex with/not have sex with/agreeing to date/deciding to break up with a male hero? Or nagging a male hero into growing up, or nagging him to stop being so heroic? Basically, does she only exist to service the male hero’s needs, development, or motivations?”

Even though some of my female characters—protagonist or secondary–are raped/beaten/kidnapped it is to advance the plot; not to advance a particular character.
Interactions in life are about the two people who happen to be in the same “story” as the other one. As in Street Harvest when Eleanor Hasting is kidnapped–she is in that position because of her personal beliefs.
I don’t create characters who primarily are there to motivate others. I don’t think life of a strong woman allows for that type of relationship, and all of my women are strong in their own way.

Street Harvest

3.“Could your Strong Female Character be seamlessly replaced with a floor lamp with some useful information written on it to help a male hero?”

NOT LIKELY!

4.“Is a fundamental point of your plot that your Strong Female Character is the strongest, smartest, meanest, toughest, or most experienced character in the story—until the protagonist arrives?”
Since my protagonists are female, I will answer this in regards to secondary strong female characters: no, the women I write about are complex, capable people who make mistakes, suffer and learn along with the protagonist who also suffers and learns.

5.“…or worse, does he enter the story as a bumbling fuck-up, but spend the whole movie rapidly evolving past her, while she stays entirely static, and even cheers him on? Does your Strong Female Character exist primarily so the protagonist can impress her?”

Dawn Samira, secondary/supporting character to protagonist Sergeant Nita Slowater, would really laugh at this one! Dawn has been called lots of things, but static is not one of them. She is Nita’s biggest cheerleader—as Nita is hers–but they grow together.

6.“It’s nice if she’s hyper-cool, but does she only start off that way so a male hero will look even cooler by comparison when he rescues or surpasses her?”

I love novels where the characters are not so much rescuing each other as they are growing together. These are the types of novels I write. Like in Run or Die when protagonist Jaz Wheeler interacts with supporting character Aretha Hopewell, both women come out better than at the beginning of the book. Learning and growing is a cooperative endeavor.
http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

7.“Is she so strong and capable that she’s never needed rescuing before now, but once the plot kicks into gear, she’s suddenly captured or threatened by the villain, and needs the hero’s intervention? Is breaking down her pride a fundamental part of the story?”

The only pride that gets shattered is the pride of the bad dudes! My protagonists and her supporting characters, kick the bad dudes butts!

8.“Does she disappear entirely for the second half/third act of the film, for any reason other than because she’s doing something significant to the plot (besides being a hostage, or dying)?”

Even my hostage in Old Woman Gone, Grandma Greene at 85 years old does not sit back and wait for rescue. She acts on her own behalf and on the behalf of others.

“If you can honestly answer “no” to every one of these questions, you might actually have a Strong Female Character worthy of the name. Congratulations!”

Yep, I think my female characters rank among the most complex, significant characters in fiction.
To read the entire article from which this standard was copied, go to: (it is well worth the time to read!)

http://thedissolve.com/features/exposition/618-were-losing-all-our-strong-female-characters-to-tr/

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Sexy #Vampire Novels from #Mystery Writer

How does a mystery writer wind up writing a sexy vampire series? Isn’t that a bit far off the beaten murder path?
Yes, and no. In my writing, I adhere to a specific underlying agenda.
Sketch of a Murder2 ebook
http://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

front cover artemis
http://www.amazon.com/Artemis-Warriors-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B0158NZ1L6

My agenda is to 1. entertain 2. enlighten 3. encourage and 4. empower women. Every novel I write must do these four things. (Those of you who know I am part Native American, probably suspected that there would be four–a sacred number–parts to my agenda! LOL!)

  1. Entertain: Every book I write–whether is a part of my Special Crimes Team mystery series or part of The Vampire Wars series or a stand alone literary novel–must first entertain the reader. Does it hook the reader? Can the reader identify with, and/or care about, at least one of the characters?
  2. Enlighten: What could possibly be enlightening about a mystery series or a vampire series?
    With each novel that I write, I attempt to challenge some long held beliefs or to bring some bit of knowledge to the reader. In Sketch of a Murder, Special Crimes Team, I shine a light on how the perpetrators of sexual violence against women and children all too often avoid prosecution or receive light sentences for their crimes. In Backlash, I highlight how ongoing violence and harassment is aimed at forcing women “back to the kitchen”. (I also highlight a practice among some police since 9/11 where they stop motorists and rob them of cash. True stuff! Read my past post on that. http://ayawalksfar.com/2014/12/03/cops-stealing-from-motorists/)
    In Artemis’ Warriors I explore creation myths and history from a matriarchal viewpoint rather than a patriarchal viewpoint. While some might feel this is blasphemy, there has been some evidence that matriarchal societies did exist in the far distant past. Granted this question is hotly debated. As is to be expected since no ruling class, including the patriarchy, willingly preach the history of the classes they rule over.
    We know from more recent history, that women have been largely erased from the historical narrative in many instances. Did you know that Margaret Hamilton was the Lead Software Engineer on the Apollo Project in 1969? (Follow this link to my Pinterest Board “Great Women” and see the Pin of Margaret Hamilton https://www.pinterest.com/pin/453737731188529025/ )
    Were you aware that Elizabeth Blackwell, born in 1821, was the first women to receive a medical degree in the United States? ( https://www.pinterest.com/pin/453737731181212469/ )
    If such recent history is missing from most textbooks, it is easy to understand why women’s ancient historical contributions might also be completely “missed”, or maybe deliberately forgotten.
    3. Encourage: Because I write of current issues, I validate those issues for women who are struggling with them. It is very discouraging for women to feel isolated; to constantly hear that what they are experiencing is only a figment of their minds. I bring issues forward so women know they are not alone; other women face these same issues. Some of the issues I write about in my Special Crimes Team mystery series are: women in the work place; sexual violence; age; and beliefs. In Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire Wars, I explore what it means to love; bonding between women; female sexuality; and, sacrifice.
  3. Empower: Every novel I write must in some way empower women; therefore, each book has a strong female protagonist, as well as other strong female supporting characters. It is well understood that what we read has an impact on our self-image. If women only read about helpless women who never direct their own lives and are forever victims, then that is what we internalize. Women need to see females as capable, intelligent, decision-makers so that our subconscious minds can integrate that into our views of what it means to be female. In the Special Crimes Team mystery series, Sergeant Nita Slowater struggles through her discoveries about herself while trying to find killers and rapists. Her major supporting female characters are Dr. Irene Nelson, FBI profiler, and Dawn Samira, lesbian investigative reporter. In Artemis’ Warriors, Book 1, The Vampire Wars series, Serena Longer struggles with her heart while fighting invading vampires who want to turn humans into blood cattle. Her major supporting female character, Alexis Night Runner, is also the cause of Serena’s soul searching about love.

Have you read one of the books from the Special Crimes Team series, The Vampire Wars series, or the stand-alone literary novels? If so, would love to hear from you. Leave a comment or email me at ayawalksfar@gmail.com !

UPCOMING BOOKS!
Beyond the Silence: Available for pre-order http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8 Release date: Feb. 14, 2016 ecoversmaller (2) Beyond the Silence
Death by Dog, A Special Crimes Team Novel: Coming April 3, 2016! DBDCover(1)

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Death by Dog Ch. 1

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Death by Dog
Chapter 1
WEDNESDAY
When the cold rain stopped, the sun peeked through gray clouds and painted the horizon over Puget Sound in slashes of orange and red. Soda stepped out the door of the First Avenue bookstore as she brushed her thick chestnut hair away from her face. It fell in waves to the middle of her back. She dug a scrunchy out of the pocket of her faded jeans then fisted her hair and tied it so that it fell under the collar of her hoodie.
Mid-March in Seattle, Washington, breathed an early spring chill on the city. She flipped her hood up then zipped the sweatshirt and stuffed her hands in the pockets. Shoulders hunched, she walked briskly south. Before long, she left the restaurants and boutiques and shops that had pulled steel mesh across their entrances for the night and entered an industrial area that had seen better times. Warehouses and abandoned buildings with busted windows hulked in the darkening evening.
The sound of rough male voices drifted across the narrow street. Soda edged into the deeper shadow of a crumbling, brick building; its windows like blinded eyes stared blankly out on the littered street. Between the black jeans and the navy blue hoodie–pulled close around her pale face and with her white hands stuffed in her pockets–the shadows swallowed her form. Standing perfectly still, she listened as they drew closer. Eyes straining, she peered from her spot, trying to make out what swung between the two men.
A few street lamps–not yet vandalized–spilled watery yellow light on the dirty sidewalk and the green dumpster that squatted at the mouth of the alley across from where Soda hid. The men sauntered into the light. Soda squinted. Her heart pounded when she finally realized what they carried.
The body of a large dog hung between them as they made their way to the dumpster. They swung the body back and forth until enough momentum had built and then let go. The animal sailed over the edge of the dumpster and thumped into the trash. They pulled off their gloves and stuffed them in jacket pockets.
The hum of traffic from several streets away sang a muted song, but the men’s voices–harsh and loud–rode over the top of it. The shorter, thicker man dug under his jacket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He lit one and the ember glowed as he inhaled. Grey smoke drifted up toward the circle of lamp light, but disintegrated when a slight breeze puffed off Puget Sound. The breeze smelled of dead fish. “Damn, that was some sick bitch. Shortest fight I’ve ever seen.” Admiration sounded clear in his gravelly voice.
The taller, thinner man accepted a cigarette from the other man and lit it. “Short for damn sure. Only thing that bitch,” he jerked a thumb over his shoulder and toward the dumpster, “good for was a trainin’ fight. Can’t believe that other’n; not even two years old, yet. Man, I want me one of them dawgs.” He snorted a laugh.
A shiver ran up Soda’s spine. She pushed against the brick; the cold that seeped through her hoodie felt reassuring.
The shorter man shook his head. “In your dreams.” He finished his smoke then flicked the butt out into the street.
A cramp seized Soda’s calf muscle. Afraid any movement would draw their attention she clamped her teeth and pressed her lips together, willing herself not to move.
“What you think one of them dawg’s worth?” In imitation of the other man, the taller man flicked his cigarette butt out into the street. For a moment, he seemed to be looking straight at her and Soda thought her heart might stop.
The other man shook his head. “Way outta your league. I heard some of them cost as much as fifty big ones.”
The taller man shifted his attention to his companion and Soda sucked in a silent breath. “If I had me a dawg like that…”
The shorter man guffawed. “You wouldn’t know what to do with it. Them things are the devil’s own dogs. One of them would eat you up, bro. Come on. I’ll buy you a beer.”
They sauntered away into the dark created by busted street lights. Snatches of their words faded until only the hum of the traffic from nearby streets filled the air. A couple of minutes later, a truck roared. Soda shuffled to the edge of the cracked sidewalk and watched as a block north a large, dark colored pick up pulled into the street. She waited until she could no longer see the red of the taillights before she hustled across the potholed asphalt.
Hand on the dumpster side she let her head drop back until she stared up at the faded sky. “Why am I doing this? It’s not going to change anything. She’s dead, or they wouldn’t have thrown her away.” A lump swelled in her throat. She swallowed hard. Taking a deep breath, she tried to steel herself for what she knew lay in the garbage. With an exhale, she clambered up the side of the dumpster. Balanced on the inches-wide lip of cold metal, she stared down as the odor of rotted food wafted up to her. Pale light glinted off black plastic bags of garbage.
The dog had landed on top of several black bags. “You poor dog,” she said as tears quickened in her eyes. She readied to hop off the metal container then stopped. Holding her breath, she leaned forward. A faint movement caught her eyes.
Without hesitation, she dropped into the garbage and waded to the animal. One dark eye blinked slowly up at her. “Poor baby.” She eased down close to the dog. Papers rustled and a puff of something rancid reached her nose. She ignored it. Gently lifting the dog’s head, she scooted her legs underneath and laid the big head on her lap. A whine whispered from the dog. With light fingers, she stroked the dog’s face between gaping wounds. At least, the bleeding had stopped. A pink tongue slowly snaked out and rasped along Soda’s hand.
Even in the faded light from the street lamps, she could tell that the dog’s coat had once been a sable color, a mix of light brown and black hairs. Now a spray of drying and dried blood matted the fur with dark splotches. One of the muscled forelegs had been gashed and the muscle ripped open. The jagged point of bloodied bone jutted out of the skin. The dog had once been a beautiful animal with a well-built body that looked bigger than most German Shepherds that Soda had seen, but it was definitely a German Shepherd. She’d always loved the regal look of German Shepherd dogs.
Another shuddering breath pushed the dog’s ribs up and down. Soda swallowed back her tears as she recalled a lullaby that her mom had sung to her when she was young and had awakened from a bad dream. She petted the dog’s big head and stroked her side as she sang in a quavering, soft voice. Before she’d finished the song, the dog licked her hand once more, looked into Soda’s eyes and breathed her last.
Tears coasted down her cheeks as she wiggled out from under the dog’s head and laid it on a pillow of garbage. She reached out and stroked the still side. “Maybe you’ll see my mom when you cross the Rainbow Bridge, girl.” Jaw clenched, she struggled to her feet. With the sleeve of her hoodie, she scrubbed the tears away.
She had always loved dogs. Had one that had died a month before her mother died; a little dog shelter mutt, but Soda had loved Cindy. After her mother passed, she was glad that Cindy had died of old age first. She couldn’t have taken care of Cindy while she lived on the streets and she wouldn’t have left her dog alone with her abusive stepfather.
Fists knotted at her sides, she vowed that even though she was only a street kid she’d do something! She didn’t know what, but she would do something to stop those assholes from slaughtering any more dogs.

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