Praise for


"Shaun and Colleen are amazing—their course was fun, accessible, and loaded with useable information. So much more than I expected!”
– Maria Faulconer

“Absolutely loved the course!”
– Robena Schaerf

“This was an excellent class and I learned a lot.”
– Maureen Dowling

“An eye-opening class that made my fictional PI come alive.”
– Laura Domino

“…one of the most useful courses I've ever taken.”
– Karen Docter

“Thanks so much for this VERY informative class.”
– Beth Groundwater

“I found Writing PIs in Novels, presented by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman a perfect backdrop for anyone considering establishing a character as a private investigator. The lectures, the links and the question-and-answer sessions covered a broad spectrum of this often stereo-typed career. In this world where research counts and readers are quick to point out an author’s flaws, this course is a must for getting it right. ”
– Donnell Bell


Home | Registration Form

Writing PIs in Novels
by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman

Registration now open for 2009 classes!
Quick Studies on the Shady Side: Tips and Techniques for Writers Developing Sleuths and Villains

Article: Writing the PI Genre (copyright 2007 Colleen Collins)

Class descriptions: This year we designed a series of quick-study courses that typically take one week (two classes/week) that focus on specialized areas of investigations. Handy info for writers developing sleuths or villains, and interesting tid-bits for readers who want to better understand some of the tricks of their favorite sleuths in books/movies. Below is our class schedule, including dates, costs, and registration deadlines.

June 22-29, 2009: Surveillance 101 ($15.00)
An overview of surveillances, from stationary to mobile to electronic, plus pointers on the legalities of surveillance. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: June 20, 2009

July 20-27, 2009: Finding Missing People 101 ($15.00)
Tips for finding people, from researching the Internet to interviewing witnesses to digging in trash. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: July 18, 2009

August 10-24, 2009: Skips, Lies, and Videotape ($30.00)
How a sleuth finds the missing, nails the fraudulent, and obtains the proof. Topics include skiptracing electronically vs. on foot; fraud investigations from white collar to black market; and venues for obtaining proof, types of proof, direct vs. circumstantial evidence Two weeks, 4 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: August 8, 2009

September 21-28, 2009: Your Cheatin' Heart: Infidelity Investigations ($15.00)
From signs of a cheating spouse to techniques and tools for catching a cheater. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between. >>Registration deadline: September 19, 2009

October 19-26, 2009: Crime Scenes, Homicides, & DNA ($15.00)
An introduction to crime scenes and homicide investigations (topics include key tasks covered by law enforcement, a general introduction to estimating time of death and types of wounds, and how a PI might be called upon to aid in a homicide investigation). Class concludes with a discussion of DNA, its testing, how it might be deposited by a suspect, and how it’s used in court proceedings. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: October 17, 2009

November 16-23, 2009: Surfing the Web & Digging for Dirt ($15.00)
Ways a sleuth uncovers data, from Internet/database searches to getting down and dirty in someone's trash. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: November 14, 2009

December 14-21, 2009: Trials 101 ($15.00)
Writing a story with a courtroom scene and need to add some realistic touches? Or perhaps you're fleshing out a trial attorney, or maybe just want a handle on a few terms for when your protagonist makes a court appearance? This class is an introduction to trials (U.S. legal system), outlining the key players in the courtroom, the history of trials, a few reasons why trials happen (as well as some wrong reasons trials happen, which could provide great story conflict), and ends with several examples of outstanding trials in books and movies. One week, 2 classes, questions answered by email in-between.
>>Registration deadline: December 12, 2009


Bios: Colleen Collins is a PI by day, a multi-published author by night. Her articles on private investigations have appeared on various sites on the Internet as well as in PI Magazine, NINK (Novelists, Inc.), and other publications. Her accomplishments as a PI include uncovering bogus identities, locating an abducted child, catching cheating spouses, and taking videos of an injury claimant throwing a burning fastball. A member of the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she's written 20 novels for both Harlequin and Dorchester and has spoken at conferences and workshops (Pikes Peak Writers, Colorado Gold, Left Coast Crime) about writing private eyes in fiction.

Shaun Kaufman has worked in and around the criminal justice field for nearly 25 years, as a former trial attorney and a current investigator. He's published articles in PI magazine, the Denver Law Review, and authored numerous briefs for the Colorado Court of Appeals, Colorado Supreme Court, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Shaun is a popular speaker at conferences, entertaining and educating writers with his insights and expertise about investigations, crime scenes, how PIs effectively testify in trials, and more. His father always told him to be a writer, not a lawyer.


Classes will be conducted via a yahoogroups loop set up for the class.

Click here (or go to "Click to Register") for registration form. All class attendees must submit a completed registration form along with a payment by PayPal * or by check **.

* If paying by PayPal, go to "Pay via PayPal".
Note: Non-US Residents Must Pay by PayPal (sorry, all non-US checks, money orders, and postal orders will be returned).