Have You Talked to a Green Witch Today?

Have you talked to a Green Witch Today?

In the introduction to my latest Det. Annie Avants crime fiction novel, GREEN WITCH, DEAD WITCH, I said this:

green witch“Yes, there really are green witches.  But they aren’t made of chocolate and won’t melt when you throw water on them.  In fact, there are many green witches around the world . . . and white witches, gray witches, good witches, evil witches, garden witches, kitchen witches, cottage witches, and many more.  Each person who makes the decision to follow the path of witch, creates his or her own journey.

A green witch is a nature-based witch.  Green witches believe that all things are connected and have their own energy.  When they perform magic, they use the gifts of nature – herbs, crystals, rocks, plants, flowers, etc.  They respect and follow the phases of the moon.  They respect the four elements – air, water, fire, and earth.  Some add a fifth element – spirit – the universal life spirit that lives in all things.

They have a code – “An Ye Harm None – Do What Ye Will.”  What does this mean?  Some translate it to mean:  “if it is not going to hurt anyone, it’s okay to do.”.

The witches in this story are green witches.  I haven’t made up a “witch persona” and I’m not making up a mythical world that my witches inhabit.  They live in Kern County just like anyone else.  They live among us.  They are our friends and neighbors.”

When I first thought about writing Green Witch, Dead Witch, I was making the attributes of my witches as I went along.  (In fact, Lily Rose was NOT a witch, she was a fairy named Fiona who could unpack her wings and levitate on the spot).    Then, for over a year, I researched green witches.  Along the way, I decided to keep Clem Moonstone realistic and change Fiona into a witch just starting her first year of training.  Like a real witch would do.

I learned a lot during my research.  For instance, if you are familiar with the Law of Attraction, casting a spell is basically the same as invoking the Law of Attraction to bring something into your life.  Many real witches know this.  In fact, an excellent book on the subject is “Magick and the Law of Attraction: A User’s Guide” by Maggie Shayne.  It can be found at Amazon along with other books on the same subject.

Why am I explaining all of this?  One of my beloved beta readers was concerned that I was drifting off into the genre of “fantasy.”  Here’s what she said:

I think about your target audience being those that liked the first three books or at least they read likely one of them. The books, being a police mystery type book. So that being said, I am concerned that the ending is almost purely fantasy. What I mean is that since I was reading a true to life type mystery I expected to find a realistic type ending. (Cops save the day example) So even though it was great to understand what and how green witches live and learn etc. I thought that the ending of the book would be based in more realism instead of fantasy so that kind of seemed un-natural. I could, kind of, relate if the girl that was kidnapped thought that was true but…. All the cops believing the fantasy was real??  If your target audience were fantasy readers then they would love the ending you have.

The key word in her comment was “fantasy.”  I tried my darndest not to include any “fantasy” in my book.  I based it on real witches and experiences they had.  When I explained this to her, she understood what I was trying to accomplish.

I guess my point is that there are people who follow the path of witch and they are real, everyday people.  Whether you believe or not, they exist and they’re really caring women.  One of my reviews, which is in another blog post I wrote, said “This story is entirely about Magick – Green magick. The concept is put across very strong that witches do exist among us today and most of them are good witches. The idea is put across very subtly and nicely. In fact it makes you want to meet a green witch.”  (Review by Devi Nair).

So, there you have it.  If you read Green Witch, Dead Witch, I hope you enjoyed it.  If not, and I’ve piqued your curiosity, you can find it here:

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
iBooks
Barnes and Noble
KOBO
SmashWords

Happy reading!
Renee

Great Review for Green Witch, Dead Witch

Green Witch, Dead Witch by Renee Benzaim

Review by Devi Nair 

January 9, 2015

JPG Cover NEW 270 X 400 24 Dec 2014

This story is entirely about Magick – Green magick. The concept is put across very strong that witches do exist among us today and most of them are good witches. The idea is put across very subtly and nicely. In fact it makes you want to meet a green witch.

Witches are being killed and it all appears to be accidents. Only someone is suspicious that they are not accidents and witches are in fact being murdered. Detective Annie Avants is dealing with a personal crisis of her own. This case gives her a break from her crisis and she dives nose down into it. However, the murderer appears to be someone of Magick background. Will Annie be able to catch hold of the murderer? Or her lack of magick lead to the murderer going scott free?

Annie is not someone you instantly tend to like. She has all the features of a detective – fierce, independent, brave and at the same time, a bit too careful. Her thinking process is relatable, but there are times through the book when you feel like telling her it is OK to let go and live life spontaneously. And that makes Annie a human. Renee has done a good job creating a detective who is as much human as anyone of us. She is afraid of making mistake, just like any one us.

The book is really nice. I am looking forward to understanding the characters more by reading the previous parts of the series.

Available here:

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
iBooks
Barnes and Noble
KOBO
SmashWords

Crime Fiction and the Chain of Custody

crime writing

Photo Credit: Julie Elliott-Abshire

Introduction

When writing crime fiction, it’s important to make sure your characters don’t do anything that would compromise the evidence and cause it to be inadmissible in court.
One way this can happen is if the chain of custody is broken.

What is Chain of Custody?

Chain of custody, according to FindLaw, is defined as “. . . the documentation and proper care of evidence, from its seizure by police to its presentation at trial. If the chain of custody is broken, the evidence may lack credibility and could be deemed inadmissible.”

Why is this Important?

Every case that goes to trial is controlled by the evidence that is introduced. This is the only criteria that a judge in a bench trial or a jury in a jury trial are to use to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. They are not allowed, by law, to use any other means to come to a conclusion.

The evidence your characters collect and handle throughout your novel have a large bearing on the outcome of your book, especially if there will be a trial.

You also want to think about the credibility of yourself as a writer and your novel. Readers are more sophisticated these days with criminal investigation and will call you out on it.

How is Chain of Custody Established?

The chain of custody starts with the officer that finds it. Here is a list of a personnel that could be part of the chain of custody:

  •  The officer / investigator who recovers the evidence. This could be a uniformed officer, Deputy/Coroner, Medical Examiner, Crime Scene Investigators, Detective in charge of the scene, or someone else;
  •  The person who takes charge of the evidence at the scene. Again, it could be someone listed in Number 1, or an evidence technician designated to take charge of the evidence at the scene
  •  The person who transports the evidence to the Laboratory. Ideally, it should be someone from Number 1 or 2 above;
  •  The person who receives the evidence at the Laboratory. In my story, it went to the Laboratory Director;
  •  The Laboratory scientist who will examine the evidence;
  •  Whomever retrieves the evidence from the Laboratory after it has been processed.

Chain of Custody Form

Chain of custody labels are good for the permanent marking of evidence. They are printed on tamperproof stock and stick to almost anything. They can be used for marking individual articles, packages and containers.

This form must be attached to each evidence container. It is the job of your characters to properly document who found the evidence, who has it and where it is. If this isn’t done properly, your evidence may not be admitted at trial.

Since any person who handles the evidence has to be able to show an unbroken chain of custody, it’s a good rule of thumb to minimize the number of people who come into contact with the evidence. The shorter the chain the better.

Who is Responsible for the Chain of Custody of Evidence?

The Prosecution must account for the evidence from the discovery, collection, analysis, storage, and transfer to the courtroom. Throughout the entire process, including court proceedings and appeals, the prosecutor is responsible for securing the evidence.

If the defense cannot get the evidence excluded pretrial, they will look to discredit how it was handled during the investigation.

Example from my book, Cause of Death

In my book, Cause of Death, I had a sub-plot that involved a piece of evidence. It was a knife with the fingerprints of the defendant who was on trial for a robbery. It was the only piece of physical evidence the prosecution had. Unfortunately, when it was time to introduce the knife into evidence, it couldn’t be located. Even though it was eventually found, the fact that it was missing even for a short time caused the chain of custody to be broken. The evidence wasn’t admissible and the defendant walked adding to the plot.

Summary

Ensuring that your characters don’t accidentally cause a break in the chain of custody of evidence will protect them from charges of tampering, planting, theft, substitution of evidence, and contamination of evidence.

Any time you have a character who has anything to do with evidence at a crime scene, or after, make sure they take the necessary precautions to honor the chain of custody.

(I originally wrote this blog as a guest post on www.coldcasesquad.com, the blog of Joe Giacalone in July 2013.)