Monday, November 30, 2015

Homicide Hunter

Homicide Hunter Joe Kenda
I visited my in-laws over the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed a good dose of Cable TV. I'm a true crime junkie and fell in love with the Investigation Discovery channel. I turned my kids into true crime junkies too, as we watched several episodes of Homicide Hunter.
I find what drives people to commit violent crimes to be pretty fascinating.  Also, as I'm crafting my next mystery, learning about the psychology of the criminal mind helps a lot.
If you're not familiar with the show Homicide Hunter, here's an article about it and star Joe Kenda from The Columbus Dispatch (by way of McClatchy-Tribune News Service) by Luaine Lee. 
Retired homicide detective Joe Kenda is an unlikely TV star.
With straight gray hair, a hounded look in his eyes and a minimalist way of speaking, he probably wouldn’t succeed at a casting call.
Yet he stars on Investigation Discovery’s Homicide Hunter, which began a new season this month.
Kenda narrates re-enactments of the crimes he covered from his years on the police force in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“When I arrested somebody, I’d have a gun in one hand and a badge in the other,” he said. “I say very quietly: ‘My name is Kenda. I’m with the police department, and you’re under arrest for murder. If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to kill you right here and right now.’”
Kenda spent 19 years on the force, working his way up from patrolman to commander of the major-crime unit at the time of his retirement at age 52.
There was no magic, he said, to his solving 92 percent of assault cases.
“I’m a student of human nature. People do stupid things; they do. And if you watch them and observe them and talk to them and deal with them — hundreds of different people — you become a student of what they do. And that’s all this work is.”
Kenda said he could sense when he was being told the truth — or just a story.
“You know when you’re getting lied to and when you’re not, based on what ... (people) are telling you, because you know what people do. Even though this person believes he’s very different, he’s very much the same.”
Kenda didn’t envision doing police work. He and his wife of 45 years, Kathy, met at college in their native Pittsburgh, where he tried for a time to work for his dad’s trucking business. They had two children, a boy and a girl, and struggled financially.
Finally, he said, his wife gave him an ultimatum.
“I couldn’t make ends meet, and I’m really good at making ends meet,” said Kathy Kenda, a nurse. “If he wasn’t working, he was with the boys, golfing and stuff, and I was stuck with the two kids. So he came home, and I was drunk one night, and I said: ‘This has got to change. I never see you. You never see the kids.’
“He said, ‘OK, I’ve always wanted to be a policeman.’”
So he applied and was accepted on the force.
Kenda’s brief official appearances on television in Colorado are what prompted producer Patrick Bryant’s idea for Homicide Hunter.
When his query letter arrived, however, Kenda ignored it.
His wife insisted that he reply.
When he arrived for the tryout, Bryant instructed Kenda to talk to the camera about murder.
“So I did, for about an hour — whatever came into my head. I reached what I thought was a natural stopping place, and I stood up and said, ‘Is that what you had in mind?’
“Everybody’s standing there with their mouths open. And I’m thinking, ‘Well, this didn’t go well.’ Nobody said a word. I said, ‘Let me ask you again: Is that what you had in mind?’ ‘Oh, yeah.’ And here we are.”
I loved this show, and if you love true crime and learning about what makes people tick, this is definitely a program for you!
Have you ever seen Homicide Hunter? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off this week getting ready for the holiday. I'll be back next Monday, so until then Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2015

From Cad to Cadaver: Now Available!

My newest novel, From Cad To Cadaver, is now available at Amazon!  It's the first in a new mystery series I've created called Black Ops Detective Agency. This is also an IR clean romance that I classify as African American Hysterical, NOT Historical.

This novel is a contemporary mystery, which is a change from the historical fiction I write. It's a lighter read with lots if humor and features ex-cop and former FBI agent Tracy Black, along with ex-Navy SEAL and all around tough guy Adam Slade.

She's black, he's white, but the situations they stumble into are hardly just black and white!

Check out the synopsis below and keep reading for a brief excerpt!

Ex-cop and former FBI agent Tracy Black is plagued by serious trust issues stemming from two horrific failed relationships. Leaving behind the memory of one bad relationship, along with the excitement and high voltage sizzle of Atlanta, Tracy moves back to her hometown to pursue a career as a private investigator. Cincinnati’s atmosphere is low-key and uncharged, and unfortunately not great for Tracy’s new business. Yet her sister knows someone who can help. In addition to a chiseled set of GQ cheekbones, all around tough guy and ex-Navy SEAL Adam Slade is tall, built and hot. On the mend from a broken engagement, Adam, who works as a PI and security consultant, is eager to meet Tracy. With his connections and their combined investigative skills, he thinks they’d make a great team—and that picture he saw of her in a sexy sweater wasn’t bad either. Tracy, however, is convinced she can get along fine without Adam’s help, especially since their first meeting left her utterly humiliated. Eventually, Tracy is willing to lend a hand when Adam offers her a chance to work alongside him in a lucrative out-of-state gig. Once back home, Tracy is convinced that things are looking up, until she is accused of murder. What will it take to get her off the hook? As Adam puts his life on the line for her, will he die, or at the very least die laughing, in a series of mishaps to help Tracy clear her name?

Chapter 1
   “Traceee-babeee, you are one hot mama!” Dr. Terrance Jackson says to me.
     But how can I be a baby and a mama at the same time without literally being a “baby mama?” Which I am not! Which brings me to another question: Why did I agree to go out with this clown in the first place?  Oh, yeah, that’s easy—I have no life.
     “That little black dress,” Terrance goes on, “hot, baby; looks like it’s painted on in high gloss!”
     Okay, so my dress is a little form fitting, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it looks painted on.
     As Terrance’s wolf eyes continue to rove over me, I say, with a pronounced lack of luster, “You don’t look half bad yourself.” And actually, he doesn’t.  He sports a simple black tux with black bow tie on his weasel-thin frame. 
     “Hey, you like this?” Terrance sweeps his hands over his tux. “Vera Wang, baby.  It takes a woman to dress a man!  Tracy-baby, before we go, I need to ask a favor.”
     “Anything, if you’ll stop calling me ‘Tracy-baby.’ ”
     He laughs.  “You’re a funny one—no, you’re unique!  There’s only one Tracy Black.”
     “Not if you look in The White Pages.”
     “Seriously, Tracy-baby, here’s the favor:  Don’t tell anyone you’re ex-FBI.  All my partners are gonna be seated at our table tonight, and I told them I’d be bringing the real deal—a real FBI agent.”
     I’m speechless. At one time, I was a real-life agent. 
     Terrance has just arrived at my apartment, and this evening he’s taking me to a black tie gala at Queen City University Hospital where he works as an orthopedist.  The guest of honor is a Saudi sheik whose son attends the university.  After an automobile accident six months ago, the son had life-saving surgery at the university’s hospital.  To show his gratitude, said sheik donated like a gazillion dollars for a new medical research facility.
     “It’ll just be more exciting that way,” Terrance continues, “you know with our special Saudi guest and his entourage.  I thought it’d be fun to have people think I’m bringing along a spy just to keep an eye on things, you know Arabs—terrorists.” He laughs. “My brother’s gonna be there too.  He’s the only one who knows you’re not still FBI, but I told him mum’s the word on that.”
     Disgusted, I cross my arms and sigh. “Terrance, I could get arrested for impersonating an agent.”
     “I’m not asking you to impersonate one, just don’t tell anyone you resigned from the Bureau.”  He gives me that smarmy smile of his, then offers the crook of his arm and escorts me to his silver Saab, a Swedish car that has some type of mysterious prestige.  Any time he passes another guy in one, they give each other a signal that implies how special they are. 
     Terrance once told me, “Every black man working has a BMW, get it? Black Man Working. BMW.  But only a fortunate few have discovered the wonder of the Saab.”  Whatever.
     Once at his car, he opens the door for me, saying, “Our carriage awaits.” He bows, then makes a sweeping motion with his arm, like he’s Prince Charming or something. Right.
     And the evening is off to a lovely start.  NOT!

Please be sure to check out From Cad to Cadaver at!

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Real James Bond

The new James Bond Movie Spectre was recently released. As always, I'm dying to see the latest Bond flick! I love all the non-stop action and adventure. Oh, and let's not forget Daniel Craig--he's wonderful as Bond! But just who was the "real" James Bond? Although a fictional character, was he based on the most exciting, fearless, charming and most handsome man that ever lived? Check out the article below from Wikipedia to find out just how Ian Fleming was inspired to create Bond, James Bond...

Ian Fleming's image of James Bond; 
commissioned to aid the Daily Express comic strip artists.
As the central figure for his works, Ian Fleming created the fictional character of James Bond, an intelligence officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond was also known by his code number, 007, and was a Royal Naval Reserve Commander.
Fleming based his fictional creation on a number of individuals he came across during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, admitting that Bond "was a compound of all the secret agents and commando types I met during the war." Among those types were his brother, Peter, who had been involved in behind-the-lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war.[2] Aside from Fleming's brother, a number of others also provided some aspects of Bond's make up, including Conrad O'Brien-ffrench, Patrick Dalzel-Job and Bill "Biffy" Dunderdale.
The name James Bond came from that of the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies. Fleming, a keen birdwatcher himself, had a copy of Bond's guide and he later explained to the ornithologist's wife that "It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born." He further explained that:
When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument ... when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, (James Bond) is the dullest name I ever heard.
— Ian Fleming, The New Yorker, 21 April 1962
On another occasion, Fleming said: "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'James Bond' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers'. Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department."
Hoagy Carmichael—Fleming's view of James Bond
Fleming decided that Bond should resemble both American singer Hoagy Carmichael and himself and in Casino Royale,Vesper Lynd remarks, "Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless." Likewise, in Moonraker, Special Branch Officer Gala Brand thinks that Bond is "certainly good-looking ... Rather like Hoagy Carmichael in a way. That black hair falling down over the right eyebrow. Much the same bones. But there was something a bit cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold."
Fleming also endowed Bond with many of his own traits, including sharing the same golf handicap, the taste for scrambled eggs and using the same brand of toiletries. Bond's tastes are also often taken from Fleming's own as was his behaviour,with Bond's love of golf and gambling mirroring Fleming's own. Fleming used his experiences of his espionage career and all other aspects of his life as inspiration when writing, including using names of school friends, acquaintances, relatives and lovers throughout his books.
Check out the rest of the article here!
Is this information new to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hedy Lamarr: Beauty and Brains

What does a 1940's glamour girl-superstar have to do with Bluetooth technology? Keep reading to find out!

Hedy Lamarr was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen. If you've never heard of her, here's some information, courtesy of Wikiepedia:

Hedy Lamarr (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, 9 November 1914 – 19 January 2000) was an Austrian and American film actress. She appeared in numerous popular feature films, including Algiers (1938) with Charles Boyer, I Take This Woman(1940) with Spencer Tracy, Comrade X (1940) with Clark Gable, Come Live With Me (1941) with James Stewart, H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941) with Robert Young, and Samson and Delilah (1949) with Victor Mature. After an early and brief film career in Germany, which included a controversial love-making scene in the film Ecstasy (1933), she fled with her husband and secretly moved to Paris. While there, she met MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who offered her a movie contract in Hollywood, where she became a film star from the late 1930s to the 1950s.

Okay, so now you're wondering about her relation to Bluetooth technology. Here's more from Wikipedia:

At the beginning of the World War II, Lamarr was told that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell war bonds, which she did with great success. But she wanted to do more, particularly by using her interest in science to aid in the defeat of Nazism. This desire only intensified as Hitler continued his relentless attacks on Europe. When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she said at one point, "I've got to invent something that will put a stop to that". This desire would give rise to the invention for which she would become famous many years later.
Lamarr's reputation as an inventor is based on her co-creation of a frequency-hopping system with George Antheil, an avant garde composer and neighbor of Lamarr in California. During World War II, Lamarr was inspired to contribute to the war effort, and focused her efforts on countering torpedoes. In her home, explains author Richard Rhodes during an interview on CBS, she devoted a room to drafting her designs for frequency-hopping.

Lamarr and Antheil discussed the fact that radio-controlled torpedoes, while important in the naval war, could easily be jammed by broadcasting interference at the frequency of the control signal, causing the torpedo to go off course. Lamarr had learned something about torpedoes during her marriage to Friedrich Mandl, a wealthy munitions manufacturer. Lamarr and Antheil developed the idea of using frequency hopping to avoid jamming. This was achieved by using a piano roll to unpredictably change the signal sent between a control center and the torpedo at short bursts within a range of 88 frequencies in the radio-frequency spectrum (there are 88 black and white keys on a piano keyboard).

The specific code for the sequence of frequencies would be held identically by the controlling ship and in the torpedo. It would be practically impossible for the enemy to scan and jam all 88 frequencies, as computation this complex would require too much power. The frequency-hopping sequence was controlled by a player-piano mechanism, which Antheil had earlier used to score his Ballet Mécanique.

On 11 August 1942, US Patent 2,292,387 was granted to Hedy Kiesler Markey, Lamarr's married name at the time, and George Antheil. This early version of frequency hopping, although novel, soon was met with opposition from the U.S. Navy and was not adopted. The idea was not implemented in the U.S. until 1962, when it was used by U.S. military ships during a blockade of Cuba after the patent had expired. Lamarr's work was honored in 1997, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave her a belated award for her contributions. In 1998, an Ottawa wireless technology developer, Wi-LAN Inc., acquired a 49% claim to the patent from Lamarr for an undisclosed amount of stock.

Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea served as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as GPS, Bluetooth, COFDM (used inWi-Fi network connections), and CDMA (used in some cordless and wireless cell phones). Blackwell, Martin, and Vernam's 1920 patent seems to lay the communications groundwork for Lamarr and Antheil's patent, which employed the techniques in the autonomous control of torpedoes.

So, Hedy Lamarr wasn't just another pretty face! Had you ever heard of her? If so, have you ever seen any of her movies? Did you know she was an inventor? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!