Category Archives: Crime Fiction

128 Words with Senses that Started out as Underworld Slang

This list of words is good for writers writing about the mob/mafia and want to use the correct wordage for the time period.

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From Daily Writing Tips, August 10, 2017

The slang senses of many words we use in conversation and in informal writing originated in jargon employed by criminals, often coined to disguise the activities they were describing when they spoke among one another. This post lists and defines a number of those words.

action: bet, or betting, or criminal activity
aggro: aggressive behavior
angle: approach, or plan
bananas: crazy (originally, “sexually perverted”)
beat: escape, avoid
beef: quarrel
blow: leave
boob: stupid person
boost: steal
bought: bribed
break it up: stop argument or fight
broad: woman
buddy: man (as in addressing a person the speaker does not know)
bum’s rush: act of being forcibly removed
bump/bump off: kill
bunk: nonsense
buy: bribe
case: check the site of a potential robbery
chisel: cheat
clam up: stop talking, or refuse to talk, to avoid giving information
con: scheme to trick someone into relinquishing money
con man: person who steals through trickery
cop/copper: police officer or private detective
crew: group of rank-and-file criminals subordinate to a leader; by extension, a group of people with whom one associates
crumb: worthless person; originally, a noncriminal
deep-six: bury
dive: low-quality establishment, such as a dark, dingy bar
doll: attractive woman
dope: drugs, or information
dough: money
dump: see dive
Feds: federal law-enforcement personnel
fence: trade stolen items, or one who does so
finger: identify
fix: situation in which law-enforcement personnel have been bribed to overlook criminal activity
fruit: homosexual (derogatory)
fuzz: police
glom: steal (by extension, “grab”)
go straight: cease criminal activity
goofy: crazy (by extension, “silly”)
goon: low-level criminal
graft: see con
grand: thousand (dollars)
grease: see buy
grill: interrogate
grifter: see “con man”
haywire: mentally unbalanced
heat: attention from law-enforcement personnel, or a gun (by extension, “psychological pressure”)
heel: an incompetent criminal (by extension, “a villain or someone who takes on a villainous persona or role,” as in professional wrestling)
hit: planned murder (by extension, “an attack on someone’s reputation”)
hood(lum): see goon
horn: telephone
hot: stolen
hype: cheat by short-changing, or hypodermic needle
jam: trouble, or a troublesome situation
jaw: talk
joe: coffee
joint: place
junkie: drug user
keister: buttocks, or a safe
kisser: mouth
knock off: see bump/“bump off”
knock over: rob
large: see grand
lay low: remain out of sight so as to avoid attention after committing a crime
legit: pertaining to legal business activities
lit: drunk
loan shark: one who loans money at high rates of interest
looker: see doll
lug: stupid person (by extension, “clumsy person”—often used affectionately and jocularly)
mark: person targeted to be a victim of criminal activity
marker: IOU, note acknowledging a debt
mitt: hand
muscle: force, or intimidate, or someone who forces or intimidates
mug: face
nail: capture
nick: steal
nix: no, or say no to something
on the carpet: situation in which a criminal is called on the carpet, or disciplined, by a leader (by extension, pertains to any similar event)
on the lam: moving secretly to avoid arrest after committing a crime
on the spot: targeted for assassination (by extension, pertaining to being held accountable for a failure or mistake)
packing heat: armed with a gun
patsy: person framed for a crime (by extension, “fool”)
paw: hand
piece: share of the proceeds from criminal activity (see action), or a gun
pig: police officer
pinch: arrest
pop: see bump/“bump off”
punk: see goon (originally, a submissive homosexual)
put the screws on: see grill
queer: counterfeit
rap: criminal charge
rat: give information about associates’ criminal activities to law-enforcement personnel, or someone who does so
ringer: fake
rub out: see bump/“bump off”
rube: easy victim
sap: stupid person
score: succeed in obtaining stolen money or goods
scram: see blow
scratch: money
sing: see rat (verb)
skip out: leave without paying
skirt: woman
slug: punch, or knock unconscious, or a bullet
snatch: kidnap
sock: punch
spill: see rat (verb), or talk (verb)
square: honest
stiff: corpse
sting: see con (by extension, “a law-enforcement operation to prompt and observe criminal behavior”)
stir: jail
stir-crazy: mentally disturbed because of incarceration
stool pigeon/stoolie: see rat (noun)
straighten out: resolve a dispute
string along: deceive
sucker: see rube
swag: stolen goods (by extension, “gifts offered to promote through publicity”)
tag: designation (by extension, “graffiti signature”)
tail: track a criminal’s activities, or a law-enforcement official who does so
take: share of profits from criminal activity
take a powder: leave
take (someone) for a ride: see bump/“bump off”
take the fall: be targeted for blame for a crime
tighten the screws: pressure
trap: see kisser
two bits: twenty-five cents
vendetta: vow of vengeance (by extension, “a passionate, sustained effort to avenge oneself or one’s family or group”)
yap: see kisser

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7 Upcoming Writers Conferences

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Los Angeles
July 7-10, 2017
https://www.scbwi.org/annual-conferences/

Thriller Fest, Grand Hyatt, New York City
July 11-15, 2017
http://thrillerfest.com/

Romance Writers of AmericaWalt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort, Orlando, FL
July 26-29, 2017
http://www.rwa.org/conference

Writers Digest Conference, New York City
August 18-20, 2017
http://www.writersdigestconference.com/

Killer Nashville, Franklin, TN
August 24-27, 2017
http://www.killernashville.com

Creatures, Crime & Creativity, Sheraton Columbia Town Center, Columbia, MD
September 8-10, 2017
http://creaturescrimesandcreativity.com/

Historical Writers of AmericaSanta Ana Pueblo, NM
September 21-24, 2017
http://historicalwritersofamerica.org/

 

 

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Spring Forward Book Attack

Do you like to read? Do you like free books? Of course, you do! This is Goodreads!
Support for Indie Authors is proud to announce our first Free & Bargain Book event of 2017!

Load up your Kindle with more than 125 free and 99¢ book deals in a wide variety of genres!

Details: For three days beginning Friday, March 31st and running through Sunday, April 2nd, visit our event website to nab a whack load of free and 99¢ Kindle ebooks by our indie author members.

That’s it! No RSVP, no obligation, and best of all, no need to put on pants!* Some books will be offered all three days, but there are many one day only freebies, so make sure to check the site each day!

*Pants are only optional if you are browsing our event from the comfort of your home. SIAFBB is not responsible for pantsless readers wandering aimlessly in public spaces.

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3 Ways to Create Red Herrings in Mystery Novels

Red Herrings plays two important roles in a mystery novel.  One, they heighten the suspense and two, add challenges to solving the mystery by misleading the reader/sleuth.

A writer can create a red herring with characters, the setting, and with objects.

Characters.

In many classic mysteries, almost every character encountered benefited some way from the crime.  Therefore, give them all motives.

Provide a character with the means and opportunity.  If a person appears capable of committing a crime but has no motive, there are two possibilities created.  The person has a motive that has not been discovered or the person is working with someone who has a strong motive.

Setting.

Place – Where did the crime happen?  Did it happen in the city, country, a small village? During a New Years Eve party? During Mardi Gras?

Date –  Was the bank robbed on Friday before a national holiday?  If so, who had inside information?

Time – Did the crime happen around a holiday or while the characters were on vacation?

Weather – Was it rainy, snowing or hot outside?

Objects.

What object appear and what objects do not appear?

What does the detective see at the crime scene? What is not at the crime scene that one might expects to find?  Could someone have removed an item?  Do all the items belong?

Introduce objects with more than one explanation.  Various nuts may be a common item found in a victim’s apartment, unless it is revealed the victim is allergic to nuts.  Does the nuts implicate the killer or did the victim have a visitor who brought the nuts with them?

The more ways a reader can interpret an item, better the chance they will make the wrong assumption.

Caution.

Do not place “red herrings” in a story just to mislead readers.  Always have an explanation as to why the objects are in the story.  After all, the purpose is to make the mystery more challenging and exciting for the reader.

 

 

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What is a Red Herring in a Mystery Novel?

What is a Red Herring?

A red herring is something in a mystery novel or story that appears to be a clue but instead is a false clue that sends readers apprehending someone who is not the real villain.

An example of a “red herring” would be to choose an innocent character and give them a motive that makes them a strong suspect as the murderer.

 

To study “red herrings” read Agatha Christie who has been dubbed “the Queen of red herrings.”

 

 

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Whomever Has the Courage to Read Part II

This is a story I wrote in the late 1980s for a Children’s Literature Class.

You can read the first part here.

A loud crack of thunder brought Matt back to the present with a start.  He felt his heartbeats quicken as shadows danced around the room and the light swayed from the ceiling.  A bolt of lightning flashed across the black sky and the wind blew the tree limbs across the bare windows.  He felt his heartbeats quicken and the hair on the back of his neck quivered.

As a bolt of lightning flashed across the black sky and the wind blew tree limbs into the bare window pane, Matt took in large gasps of air and slowly let them out trying to stop his pounding heart.  He looked around the room and found a safe place in the corner where he snuggled down underneath a heavy quilt and continued to read:

September 13th;

You think it’s all imagination, don’t you? It’s not you know.  You have psychic powers to help me solve this so long ago mystery.  The drowning of Judge Smith and the slaying of Doc Baker.

Continue reading

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Whomever Has the Courage to Read

Whomever Has the Courage to Read is a short story that I wrote in a Children’s Literature class in the late 1980s.  Over the years I have thought about turning this story into a book.  Maybe, someday.

***

Being thirteen was difficult, thought Matt.  Too old to play with electric trains and too young to have a car. And, being stuck at Grandpa’s lake cottage for the summer and having it rain all day didn’t help.

Rainy days were easy to fill if you like to sleep, like Grandpa Henry did, listening to the squeak and hum of the fan, or sew like his ten-year-old sister Amber did on a scrap of fabric she had found in the attic.

“Attic.  A great idea,” Matt said to himself.  He climbed the old wooden staircase slowly, hoping he would not wake Grandpa, with the squeaking sound of the floorboards.

The heavy door groaned as Matt swung it back.  He reached for the light switch just inside the dark musky room.  Suddenly, the room filled with shadows by a long single bare light bulb swaying down from the rafters in the center of the room.

A huge cedar trunk stood in one corner.  Matt made his way to it watching the shadows lurk about and lifted the heavy lid.  Instead of patchwork quilts, the trunk was full of old books.

One book, in particular, caught Matt’s eye.  It was not very large and bound in soft leather the same yellow color of Grandpa’s work gloves.

Matt felt strange as he looked at the book.  He started to tremble and got the feeling he was trespassing.  Curiosity on what the book contained had him shoving aside his feelings and when he opened the book he read:

“To whomever has the courage to read me.”

“I have plenty of courage,” Matt said softly into the stale air.  He felt a breeze that caused the hair on the back of his neck to rise.  Matt looked around the room as though he was being watched and wondered where the breeze came from since the small windows were nailed shut.  Once he reassured himself he was alone, he took a deep breath and turned the page to read:

“July 9th;

“On the night Judge Smith drowned in Stockdale Bay, I saw you.  You were with him in his green beat-up flat-bottom boat.  Old Sheriff Taylor said Judge had whiskey bottles in the boat.  He then concluded that Judge Smith went out fishin’ alone, got drunk, fell overboard while trying to pull in a fish, and was, by then, too drunk to swim.

“But you know and I know Judge Smith was a good strong swimmer and drank nothing stronger than black coffee.

“Guess you had your reasons.”

Matt gasped, trying hard not to believe what he was reading.  Who was this Judge Smith and who was the author of this diary?  Scared and puzzled by the whole thing, Matt continued to read hoping he would find some answers.

“August 11th;

“Ma took me to see one of them new-fangled doctors they call psychiatrists.  I overheard them talking and they say I am crazy, but I’m not and you know it.

“Why did you kill Doc Baker?  Was he getting close to the truth about poor ole Judge Smith?

“Now you shouldn’t have killed Doc like that.”

…to be continued…

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Featuring Children, Tweens & YA Authors

Are you a Children’s Author?

Do you write for tweens?

What about Young Adults?

I am paying it forward in 2017 by featuring authors on my blog.

Sign up for me to feature you on the Feature Calendar page!feature-md

Occasionally, there will be bonus material, giveaways, reviews and more!

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American Book Awards Program

From the website of – Before Columbus Foundation

The American Book Awards Program is not associated with any industry group or trade organization. The American Book Awards offer no cash prize nor do they require any financial commitments from the authors or their publishers. The Award winners are nominated and selected by a panel of writers, editors, and publishers who also represent the diversity of American literary culture.

Submissions

There are no application forms, fees, or any other restrictions for submissions, nominations, or recommendations to the panel. The book is what matters, not the procedure. The only requirement is that two copies of the book must be mailed to the Before Columbus Foundation by December 31st for consideration for the following year’s Awards. Anyone may make a submission (it does not have to be the publisher). There is no limit on the number of titles that may be submitted. All genres are accepted (including anthologies, children’s books, and multimedia). You may include reviews, publicity, or other informational material with your submission if you wish.

American Book Awards
Before Columbus Foundation 

The Raymond House
655-13th Street, Suite 302
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 268-9775
beforecolumbusfoundation@gmail.com

For more information visit – http://www.beforecolumbusfoundation.com/american-book-awards/

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St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition

smedhead-e1371623899716St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition is open to any writer, regardless of nationality, aged 18 or older, who has never been the author of any Published Novel (in any genre), as defined by the guidelines below, (except that authors of self-published works only may enter, as long as the manuscript submitted is not the self-published work) and is not under contract with a publisher for publication of a novel.

All Manuscripts submitted must be original works of book length (no less than 220 typewritten pages or approximately 60,000 words) written in the English language.

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