Saturday, February 14, 2009

"It's not possible that she..." [p. 12]

"It's not possible that she poisoned him with ricin" Henry said. He was quite animated on the subject.

Sherlock Holmes is an expert on poisons, and so is Henry, but I am not. So when I had to figure out what Ian died of, I needed a poison quick. So I got hold of a copy of Serita Debora Stevens and Anne Klarner's Deadly Doses, a Writer's Guide to Poisons (Cincinnati,Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1990) which on p. 54, outlined all its properties and attributes. I'm sure now poisons are all over the Internet so it's probably easier to figure these thing out than when I wrote.

Anyway, ricin stuck out. It's easy to put in a drink or something without being noticed and it's effects don't kick in for a while. But, it comes from the castor bean, and you have to want to get it out. You have to smash the bean to get it. No job for a dainty cellist. And you have to know what you're doing. The bean is the seed of the plant and it's distributed by birds eating it and pooping it out somewhere else. Then the outer casing rots away and a new castor bean plant emerges. It turns out that the poison is one of the deadliest on a planet. It takes only a little to do the trick and death is sure once the powder is ingested.

The thing is, though, if you can't find a poison that does exactly what you need it to do, make one up. Hey, it's all fiction anyway. If it makes sense and you're consistent throughout the story, that is you don't have it working in 1 hour in one place the story and then have the solver of the mystery solve it because the stuff took two days to work, who cares as long as it advances the story and keeps them reading.

What do you think? Can we talk about writing here? Post a comment.

Writing is, to me, an entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurial ideas are the life's blood of my writing. For my entrepreneurial course, Entrepreneurship on Line, go to For entrepreneurial real estate to


Ian Kearney, the director of the Kearney Music School, an elite musical training school in Philadelphia, dies after a fall from a balcony during a recital. World-famous cellist, Henry Harrier, recently forced from the faculty, returns to investigate Ian's death when his prized former student is arrested. Henry shows through his brilliant and single-minded pursuit of the truth that, as usual, they have it all wrong. This Sherlock Holmes-type mystery leads the reader through the world of classical music and lays bare the conflicts which dominate the lives of talented adolescents when placed under the pressure of studying for a demanding, stressful, and often elusive career as a classical music performer. Henry Harrier is part John Le Carre's George Smiley, part Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes, and part Orlando Cole the beloved teacher, renowned chamber musician, and until his own retirement, the premier cellist of the Curtis Institute.

Author Profile:

Tim was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on January 30, 1946. In 1951 he moved with his family to Schenectady, New York, where he lived through high school. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, from 1964 to 1968. He graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in history and philosophy. He received his Ph. D. in history in U.S. history in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after spending 2.5 years in the U. S. Army. Most of his army service was completed in Wuerzburg, Germany, from 1969-1971. In 1972 he returned to Madison to complete his doctoral study. His dissertation, Those Who Moved; Internal Migrants in American 1607-1840, combined the statistical analysis of genealogical and biographical data with the study of traditional literary diaries, letters, and journals.

Tim was a market and survey research consultant from 1983 to 2000 and a smoking cessation researcher from 2000 to 2003. His consulting practice focused primarily on conducting community health needs assessment. He authored hundreds of market research reports and published a number of his assessments in Community Health Needs Assessment published by McGraw Hill in 1996 and in a revised volume published in 1999. In 2000 he joined the staff of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he conducted smoking cessation research. He published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and spoke at national smoking cessation conferences.

In 2003 he moved to Philadelphia and earned his real estate license. He now practices real estate, works on publishing his novels, and studies and teaches entrepreneurship.Tim has written a dozen novel-length stories, a volume of short stories, and about a 3-foot stack of pages poetry. He is currently working on earning his 4th million in real estate sales, publishing his novels, and working on an entrepreneurish handbook as a support for his students.

Tim is a trained violist and an experienced string quartet player. He is an avid listener to classical music and regularly attends classical music concerts. He has two grown children by his first wife and a stepdaughter with his second wife. He likes to cook, read, write, entertain, develop relationships, and help other people. Formerly Tim used to travel frequently. He doesn't so much anymore. Now he regards the combination of real estate practice, writing and publishing, and the teaching and studying of entrepreneurship as enough of a trip.