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This week on the writer's detective bureau, stakeout locations, closing cases, writer's detective school and a 20 books, Vegas debrief. I'm Adam Richardson. And this is the writer's detective bureau. Welcome back to episode number 114 of the writer's detective bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. This week, I'm talking about stakeout locations.
When cases go cold, the upcoming writer's detective school live cohort, and a debrief of what I learned attending the 20 21 20 books Vegas conference. But before we get into that, I need to thank gold shield patrons, Debra Dunbar from Debra Dunbar com CC Jameson from CC jameson.com. Larry Keeton Vicki Tharp of Vicki tharp.com. Chrysann Larry darter, Natalie Barrelli Craig Kingsman of Craig Kingsman dot com.
Lynn Vitale, Marco Carocari of Marco Carocari dot com. Rob Kerns of night's fall, press.com. Mariah stone of Mariah stone.com and Aurora Jacobson for their support along with all of my Silver Cufflink and coffee club patrons, you can find links to all of the patrons supporting this episode in the show notes at writers, detective.com forward slash 1 1 4, and to learn more about using Patreon to grow your author business,
or to support this podcast, check out writers, detective.com forward slash Patreon, P a T R E O N. This week's first question comes from our old friend, Ryan Elder Ryan writes good day, sir. I hope things have been going well in your job as well as your podcast. I thank you again for your past advice for scenarios and my screenplays.
You're welcome, Ryan. I have another question on how the police would go about doing something first screenplay. I have a plot situation in mind where the police need to use a building for surveillance when it comes to a sting operation on suspects, if that's the correct realistic term. However, I was wondering how the police would convince a building owner for permission to use their place.
Do the police use training to try to charm the owner into a green or do they normally offer something in return? Thank you very much again, for any advice. I greatly appreciate it. Well, thanks for the question, Ryan. I wish there was a charm school for my coworkers to attend. Maybe they'd be a little easier to get along with.
I'm only kidding. I do have some great partners. The reality though, is that we rarely do have to do exactly what you described as surveillance and busts tend to be two separate operations for surveillance. We tend to be a mobile team rather than tied to a inside a building. Now, if we did need to set up a long-term fixed surveillance like that,
we may go so far as to covertly rent a space to set that up. Of course, that involves bosses approving that kind of expenditure. And depending on the case, we're working that may or may not get approved. There has to be a compelling reason to do that way versus our just using our cars to do the surveillance. We do run the risk of that property owner or manager,
landlord super or whatever you want to call the person at the building, but we run the risk of them tipping off the bad guys, especially if the people we're investigating are part of the neighborhood where we, as the cops are kind of viewed as outsiders. Even if we work in that neighborhood. Now, one compelling reason to covertly rent a place would be because those bad guys have the entire neighborhood dialed in.
As far as counter surveillance goes where they would know it immediately. If we came in as a surveillance team and started parking all around the neighborhood, trying to set up surveillance, but again, it would have to be a pretty significant kind of long-term investigation to justify going to that extent and expense of setting up a covert rental location. So I hope that gives you some ideas.
And our next question comes from Rob Kerns of nightfall press who writes good day to use, sir, wait a minute. That's two questions in a row where you guys are calling me, sir. I'm kind of uncomfortable. We're all friends here. You can call me Adam. All right, sorry. Back to Rob's question. Rob says, I'm writing with a question about the mechanics of how cases go from active or open to a cold case.
I think I understand that a cold case is an unsolved case with no new leads, please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure if I've found any information on how long a detective is allowed to keep a case on their active caseload before it comes a cold case, or if there are any special procedures related to that hope the holiday street,
you and yours. Well, Rob, thanks Rob. Actually, before I answer this, I also have a very similar question from author Antony Davies, AKA author, a D Davies who wrote hello? I'm hoping you can help fill in the process for when detectives conclude an investigation can be placed on the back burner or cold case storage. Is it their decision or a superior officers or even the DA's office?
And my story there been murders with a possible explanation, but the detectives haven't bought that explanation entirely. The protagonist knows of a supernatural reason for all that has gone on, but without conclusive proof, the detectives need to work. According to the evidence available note, this isn't an urban fantasy where magic is accepted, but a horror novel where real world detectives think the protagonist is guilty.
The conclusion sees the culprit disappear, leaving a secondary dead villain and the protagonist as the only remaining players, although they strongly suspect the real bad guy has run away without the prime suspect to arrest because he's banished to another realm, but the detectives obviously can't serve a warrant there. How would this case conclude? I know in the real world, detectives often work multiple cases,
so I'd expect the next urgent homicide would take priority while another department, maybe the FBI, if he suspected of crossing state lines conducts the manhunt. But when is this over? When can my protagonist consider himself off the hook and the detectives consider themselves no longer actively investigating? I know this is probably a bit convoluted question. So removing the specificity to my story,
if a prime suspect in a killing has disappeared without a trace, at what point will the police close or shelved the investigation? Many thanks, Anthony. Okay. To start with Rob's question where he said, quote, I think I understand that a cold case is an unsolved case with no new leads, but I'm not sure I've found any information on how long a detective is allowed to keep a case on their active caseload before it becomes a cold case,
or if there are any special procedures related to that, you are correct. Rob a case goes cold when there are no more investigative leads to follow. And at that point, the detective would essentially suspend the investigation pending any further leads, meaning we've determined. There's nothing left for us to do until something changes with the case until a new witness or new evidence comes to light.
Or there is a reason to re-examine the evidence we already have like emerging DNA technology did in the mid 1990s to two thousands that caused departments to go back into their old evidence and look for DNA samples that could now be tested due to advances in DNA testing capabilities to suspend a case like that. At least with my department, we had to write a follow-up report explaining that we were suspending the case because there were no more leads to investigate.
And then that report would be approved by the detective Sergeant. And then that would result in the case no longer being shown as active on my personal caseload in the computer system, which is how the detective Sergeant assesses, which detective is working on what, making sure that the cases are being investigated appropriately, you know, to make sure we're actually working cases and not just patting how many cases we have and not clearing out the ones that can't be solved,
you know, rather than keeping those ones open to look like we're busy with a big caseload. When in reality, we're playing solitaire on the computer rather than working cases. I wouldn't do that, but that's certainly the kind of stuff or the kind of reasons why we would suspend them in the system because they, it gives the detective Sergeant our supervisors a more accurate representation of what we're working on now in Anthony scenario,
that isn't necessarily a cold case to recap that question real quick, Anthony ended by asking a prime suspect in a killing has disappeared without a trace. At what point will the police close or shelve the investigation? So in that scenario, the case has pretty much been solved. We just can't find the primary suspect. So in that case, the detective would present the case to the da for filing in seek an arrest warrant for that suspect.
Once the arrest warrant is signed by a judge, it goes into the nationwide law enforcement telecommunication system. So if that suspect were stopped anywhere in the country, that weren't would pop up. If the cop ran the subjects name or related vehicle in the system, if for some reason, the detectives had reason to believe the suspect fled the country. They could reach out to the feds to obtain a federal unlawful flight,
to avoid prosecution warrant, which is how your local warrant can be flagged as an Interpol red notice, which would pop up if the suspect went through passport control coming into another country, once the investigator has a warrant out for the suspect's arrest, there probably isn't too much more for them to do until the suspect is captured. So at that point, the case could be suspended pending capture of the suspect,
but they may decide to leave it open and active on the detectives caseload and have that detective start working the fugitive angle of the case, which would start with reaching out to the feds for the UFac warrant. The process that is usually for that is usually to contact the FBI and provide them with the facts. In other words, the probable cause to believe that the felon intentionally fled the state or country to avoid criminal prosecution and the FBI would then present that case to the U S attorney for seeking that you FAP the unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant.
If you want to learn more about the whole process, Google the fugitive felon act or title 18 us code section 10 73, that will give you all the nerdy details to geek out on. But once the youth app warrant is issued, which results in that Interpol red notice, as I just said, then it's game on for fugitive hunting. So it could be the U S marshals who do the vast majority of the federal fugitive hunting,
or it could be the FBI using their Lee gets the legal attache. Is that us consulates and missions around the world following up on leads of sightings in other countries, or it could just be your local detective that gets involved in hunting down this fugitive felon, putting them on television and that kind of stuff. Now that said, yes, it is likely that the local detective will still be expected to get back to work on their own caseload.
In taking new cases. I realized that in your story, Anthony, the suspect is in another realm. But to answer the question about being off of him being off the hook for the murder, the answer is no that warrant will stay active indefinitely, especially for a murder case. So if the bad guy ever makes it back to our world, he's facing arrest and prosecution,
no matter where his interdimensional passport claims he's been, This week's next question was actually a direct message. I received on Facebook asking a question about a post I'd made on black Friday here in the U S, which was the day that we wrapped up. The first cohort of the writer's detective school. I had announced in the writer's detective Facebook group, that enrollment is now open for the January, 2022 live cohort of the writer's detective school.
And the DM wanted to know more about the details of this upcoming cohort and what it's all about and how long it takes to complete. And that sort of thing. I will be the first to admit that being a cop means my expertise is not in sales and marketing, as I'd clearly neglected to explain exactly what this cohort thing was all about. So the writer's detective school is a chance for fiction writers to partner up with me.
As we work a realistic homicide investigation together, we have a limited size cohort or class, and we meet on zoom usually twice a week. One zoom call is to talk about how we want to proceed in the investigation, given what leads developed through our investigation. And I will admit that it's a bit like a role-playing game to a certain extent. It's a lot of fun,
but how we go about solving this case is really up to those of you on the live call in this cohort. And I explained what the realistic parameters are when it comes to available resources, what our smartest use of time and resources are and what tools we have at our disposal. So if you've ever wondered how a detective character decides what to do next in a homicide case,
this is your chance to experience that firsthand. The second zoom call we do each week is an office hours call. This is basically an AMA, an ask me anything session where you can bring your questions relating to your works in progress. And we can do a deeper dive on working on your plot or character motivations or whatever you might be stuck on in your own writing than we can with one-off questions like we do on this podcast.
Then on top of those zoom calls, which are recorded and made available for replays, if you can't attend them live, or you want to watch them again, but on top of those, there are prerecorded lessons in writing assignments as well. And then when you graduate at the end, you get a pretty nice looking certificate. That's suitable for framing, as they say.
So that live cohort runs for six weeks. This next one, which we're calling cohort 22 dash one begins on January 2nd, 2022. And we'll finish on February 15th, 2022. The cohort is modeled on the way we teach police officers to become detectives. I used to teach at a few of those schools for the California department of justice. So when I saw that writers really wanted to learn how to run a case firsthand,
I thought, why not teach it the way we teach brand new detectives, how to do their job. So that's what the writer's detective school is all about. So if you're interested in checking it out, you can go to writers, detective.com forward slash school to learn more or to enroll. If the enrollment window is still open, when you're listening to this,
or you can get on the list. If you want to gift in enrollment to a writer in your life, there's an option for that as well, which includes a printable PDF gift certificate and a little survey to make sure there are no spoilers to the gift recipient, especially since we're coming into the holiday season, as I'm recording this episode in 2021 in November of 2021.
And then I also have the crime fiction guns course at crime fiction, guns.com, which is also available for gift purchase as well. Speaking of the holiday season, anyway, enough of the sales stuff. Before we wrap up this episode, I wanted to do a quick debrief of my experience at 20 books Vegas this year. First of all, it was great hanging out with those of you that made it to the conference and our happy hour that Patrick and O'Donnell and I hosted now,
I had a blast at my first 20 books conference in 2019 when it was at Sam's town. But this year, the conference was even better. I mean, there were a few key people that I met at 2019 that couldn't make it. And I was crushed that I didn't get to see them, but the conference itself was amazing this time. I mean,
the last one was great. This one was even better. It keeps getting better. First of all, being on the Las Vegas strip at Bally's was much better, a much better location. Nearly all of the conference sessions were recorded. That was another huge plus a huge improvement. This meant that I was able to prioritize which sessions were best seen live,
knowing that I wouldn't miss out on other sessions because those were also going to be recorded and posted to YouTube on more than one occasion, I was up really late in my hotel room, watching the sessions that I had missed earlier in the day, because I went to one session while another one I wanted to catch was being recorded at the same time. So that was awesome.
When I attended in 2019, I primarily focused on the sessions, covering the craft of writing. I wanted to absorb as much as I could in learning your craft really to better help you as a writer, learning what genres required, which tropes, understanding what all the sub genres were, that kind of thing. This year, I really focused on learning the business side of the self publishing author business.
I know it is tough to make money selling books, but I met so many self-published authors that really are making it. And I'm here to tell you it is doable. We all start out with the same number of fans, whether that means readers, listeners, followers, whatever we all start at, zero in 20 books is all about helping you leverage the collective expertise to turn your writing into a career.
Is it easy? Of course not. Is it a ton of thankless work? Of course it is. Yes. Is it possible? You bet it is because I just met a whole bunch of self-published authors that are seriously making it happen right now. And they too started with zero. Actually I lied. I started with one. Thanks, mom. I know you're listening,
but you get my point. This year's conference opened my eyes to what is possible for all of us. The first step is realizing that this is a business first and foremost. I know you love it. I know writing is what you're all about, but it is a business that we pour our hearts, souls, imagination, and creativity into. And that often means our self-esteem and our defensiveness in our dream crushing self-talk get poured into it too.
So I'm here to tell you, you can absolutely make a good living at this writing thing, but we need to start treating it like a business. That means objectively looking at how to improve the product. What does it take to improve your writing? How deeply are you deconstructing, analyzing and improving on the rebuild of your story? In that editing process,
we need to be like the factory making my wife's aroma therapy, diffuser that she bought on Amazon. They seriously do not care about one star random reviews, but when real flaws of the product are pointed out, they improve the design on the next product. What they don't do is take the one star review. So personally that they shut down production, right?
They iterate and they optimize. The other thing we should be doing is to start cheating off the smart kids. When it comes to selling stuff, never judge a book by its cover. How many times have you heard that? That's a great lesson for kids, but it is horrible marketing advice for authors because everyone judges actual books by their cover, the internet has leveled the playing field.
When it comes to book sales, you no longer need the big five publishing gatekeepers in New York to say yes to you to get your book to market. But you damn well need to make sure your self published book looks just as gorgeous, just as salable as those traditionally published books. And despite what your mom told you all those years ago, you do need to judge your book covers and judge them.
Honestly, when a reader looks at your book cover, and can't tell whether it's self published or traditionally published, you are on the right track to significantly more sales. Lastly, I highly highly recommend you watch the videos on writing to market by Chris Fox and Kyla stone. I attended both of those sessions in person and they are well worth your time to understand just what is possible for your writing career.
If you focus on a few key things to see those videos and all of the other sessions from the 20 books, Vegas conference for free, including the realistic police procedurals panel that I was on with Patrick O'Donnell, Scott Moon, Kathy Bennett and Paul Bishop to see all of those videos go to writers, detective.com forward slash 20 books. So two zero books and that link it's a pretty link.
So it will take you directly to the 20 books to 50 K live events, YouTube channel. Then once you're on that YouTube channel click, the little magnifying glass icon above the videos to search for Kyla stone, Chris Fox and our realistic police procedurals panel. And I am definitely going next year. So January 8th I think is when the tickets will go on sale for 20 books,
Vegas 2022. So I hope to see you there. And I hope I get a chance to buy you a cocktail. Thank you so much for listening this week. You know what? This show is powered by your questions. I say this every week. And so few of you send in questions and I know you've got questions. So go to writers,
detective.com forward slash podcast. You can hit the little record button and tell me your question and I can play it over the podcast, or you can just send it to me in the text box, but either way I would love to answer your questions. So hit me up writers, detective.com forward slash podcast. Thanks again for listening. Have a great week and write well.