Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Busy and Productive Thursday

Last Thursday, I was away from home most of the day. I drove down to Florence, CO for a program with the library's Book Club and Writing Group, followed by lunch, then I attended the dinner meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America (RMMWA) in Denver, CO. Both excursions were interesting and productive.

The Book Club in Florence had read my book, A Real Basket Case, and wanted to discuss it with me at the library meeting. Along with going through the discussion questions I provide on my website for the book, they asked quite a few other questions about the locations (especially the 5-star Broadmoor hotel) and characters in the book, the next book in the series, To Hell in a Handbasket, etc. The writers who attended were interested in my quest for a literary agent, my writing process, my experience with a critique group, etc. We also got on the topic of the history of Colorado Springs and Florence, and I learned quite a few things. Lastly, as usual with my book club visits, I left with a list of books to read! The hour and a half just flew by, and before I knew it, it was time for a lovely group lunch at the Mainstreet Grille. The weather was sunny and warm, perfect for the beautiful drive down and back on highway 115.

Prior to the start of the RMMWA meeting, I had a lovely chat at the bar of the Denver Press Club with two staff from the Canadian Consulate in Denver and my fellow mystery author, Mike Befeler. The Canadians left with information about our books and recommendations about visiting Colorado locales. I found out from Mike that his upcoming geezer-lit mystery, Living With Your Kids is Murder, was given a wonderful review in Kirkus Reviews. Congratulations, Mike!

Our speaker at the RMMWA meeting was Denver District Court Judge Robert McGahey, who turned out to be very engaging. He teaches classes to young lawyers on how to "tell a story" during a trial, because the better a trial lawyer is at telling stories, the more likely they are to win cases. He told quite a few interesting stories to us that evening about his time on the bench. He's a fan of Colorado's boot camp program and wishes it could be expanded. Of the 60 people he's sentenced to serve there, only 3 have exhibited recidivism, which is an amazing statistic. He hates sentencing drug addicts to the penitentiary, because they don't get treatment there. He never gives a sex offender probation, and in Colorado, a felon has to serve 65-70% of their sentence before they are eligible for early release. One last tidbit is that he thinks jury consultants are "snake oil salesmen."

Judge McGahey said what he most dislikes in mystery/suspense/thriller fiction is when the authors get the rules of court procedure or rules of evidence wrong. He told us where we could study these rules to educate ourselves better. At the website, on the Media page can be found the useful "Courts At a Glance" summary document. On the "Self Help/Forms" page, click on the "Search Rules and Statutes" line in the Documents window. This will bring up a new page from Michie's Legal Resources, and clicking on the "Colorado Court Rules" directory gives you access to three documents recommended by the judge:
Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure
Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure
Colorado Rules of Evidence

Now I just need to find the time to study all of these!


Anonymous said...

Evidence was my favorite class in law school!!

Morgan Mandel said...

You are one busy girl, but sounds like you're having a good time doing it.

Morgan Mandel

Bob Sanchez said...

Beth, what a great post. Your link to the court info should be very helpful; I have always avoided courtroom scenes in my crime stories because I know how ignorant I am.

lucia said...

What an interesting blog post. You talk to writers and a judge the same day. I agree re telling a story during a trial's direct exam. Thanks for this! lucia

Helen Ginger said...

Beth, sounds like you had a fascinating day. I loved reading about it.

L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks for a great post. It reminded me to get out there more. Now I'm working on speaker presentation.

Chester Campbell said...

Your book club visit really sounded interesting. I'd like to do more speaking engagements, but my old voice is so worn out I do good to get past 15 or 20 minutes. I did one yesterday that I mention on my blog, but my voice was about gone when I finished.

Sounds like you're doing great.

Joan De La Haye said...

That sounded very interesting. Good luck with all that research.

Joan De La Haye

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this post. And this-

"the better a trial lawyer is at telling stories, the more likely they are to win cases"

True with anything in sales. Lawyers, just like authors trying to get known, are in sales. An old saying goes, "Facts tell, stories sell."

True dat.

Dani said...

What a great bunch of information. Would love to see the reader questions you put together for the book. I think it's one of the best things an author can do to inspire loyalty.

Nice job!


Angela said...

Be sure to touch base with me about HELL IN A HANDBASKET when it comes out later this year. We would love a review copy for Pop Syndicate. And I always have a place for you at the Book Addict blog.

Take care!