Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jigsaw part 2

Got the corners and edges. Is that how you start a jigsaw?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday Writers... Title brainstorming

After more than two weeks without my computer, I'm catching up. My novel A DADDY FOR LUKE will be mailed to my final proofreader today and will publish soon. My novella A WARRIOR'S VOICE is just about ready for my critique group.

I'm starting the formatting on a memoir to be published in November and I'm trying to come up with a title. I would love to hear some suggestions.

The memoir is about Alec who was born in China to Russian parents. His father was working on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the early 20th century. The family emigrated to Alberta, Canada where they homesteaded for several years struggling to make a living. During the depression they had to sell their farm and move to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When he was a teen, Alec got a job as a courier for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. He was promoted to the supply department and through the years worked his way up to fuel buyer for Canadian Pacific Airlines. He traveled the world procuring supplies and fuel. It's a fascinating rags to riches story. Alec called his memoir The Story of an Immigrant. That is a rather broad title and I would like to narrow it down so readers will have a better idea what it's about. I will probably use Alec's title as a subtitle.

So if you have any ideas, I'd like to hear them. I can offer a free copy of the book if I choose to use your title suggestion.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday Writers... K-9 Demo at the Sheriff's Office

A few Wednesdays ago my writers tip was: Go Out and Do Things. Last week I did. I signed up for our local Sheriff's Office Senior Citizens Law Enforcement Academy. From 1 to 5, Monday thru Friday we met in the Jury Assembly Room in the Judicial Building. Each day was intensive in the amount of information that was shared with us.

Many of the 20+ participants were retired residents interested in volunteering for the Citizens Patrol. These volunteers support the patrol deputies buy taking care of the less important details like parking tickets, VIN checks, etc.

I went to the Academy for a different reason. As a writer, I want to make my stories as authentic as I possibly can. That means I need to do research, either on-line or in person. I'll report about these lectures from a writers POV. Since I'm working on a series I call the Cottonwood County Sheriff's Office, I was extra interested in this academy.

Today I'm going to share my notes from the
K-9 Narco & Patrol Demo. 

First, in every lecture, I noted the uniforms and took notes for future reference. Not pictured here, the deputy who was giving the lecture was wearing a long-sleeved navy T-shirt.  "... CSO K-9 Sheriff" was silkscreened in white along the sleeves, which he pushed up when we stepped outside in the hot sun. The sheriffs star was silkscreened over the left chest. He wore black cargo pants and on his belt was attached: holster, cuffs and a leash wrapped around his waist, clipped in front.

As you can see in on the left of the photo, the second deputy is wearing a khaki button-down short-sleeve uniform shirt and cargo pants.

Other notes from the demo:

The deputy in the attack suit is the decoy, teasingly called the "Chew Toy". The suite protects him from the dog's sharp teeth but not their strong jaws. Decoys do end up with bruised arms and legs. When a deputy wants to become part of the K-9 team s/he has to spend two years as a Chew Toy. At the same time s/he learns the basics and still does his/her regular duties. Being on the K-9 team involves a lot of extra hours. Once the deputy is assigned a dog, they are together 24/7. The dog and the K-9 unit go home with the deputy.

In my county there are 6 K-9 teams, 5 for patrol and one in the jail.

The deputy explained that there are two ways to train a K-9 to attack. Compulsive, beat it until it fights back. Or Impulsive, use the dog's natural desire to play and chew and encourage it to do it on command. This way the dogs are easier to control. They are obeying their alpha male (the trainer/deputy) and are rewarded with praise. There's nothing more a dog wants to do than please its alpha male. Of course our deputies use the second technique. As twenty or so of us stood out in the gated parking lot listening to the lecturer, the second deputy walked his dog around us, very close. I was really impressed with the dog's total concentration on his trainer. With just a click of his tongue the trainer could send the dog on attack and just as easily call him off. Because the dog was trained with praise/reward, he has no grudge against his target and doesn't feel the need to continue attack.

It was very impressive to watch a dog sent to attack, then called back so easily. The handler could stop the dog at any point in the exercise.

The dogs are trained in a different language, usually German, so that they don't get their commands mixed up with commands called out to other personnel.

Sometimes all a deputy needs to do is show his dog and a suspect will give in. They'd rather be shot than attacked.

Patrol dogs save lives, Narcotics dogs make money. As in confiscated property.

One dog can search the same area that would take 25 humans.

Their primary purpose is to locate.

An increase use of force (dogs) reduces the amount of force (humans) needed to arrest.

The dogs are issued Kevlar vests but seldom wear them. The vests incumber their movements and most dog are shot in the head, not the chest.

Dogs are certified in locating drugs like marihuana, meth, heroin, ecstasy.

They learn to sniff vehicles, buildings, outdoor areas, boats, aircraft, etc.

Patrol dogs search buildings, outdoor areas, high risk vehicles, help with crowd control, and tracking.

Sheriff's officers prefer dogs bred in Europe. Dogs bred in the US are usually bred for looks, in Europe they're bred for intelligence and temperament.

And those are my notes from the K-9 Demo. Hope you found it interesting and maybe some day the information will come in handy.

If you have any experience with K-9 Law Enforcement, I love to hear about it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday Writers...

This is a busy week and my second without a computer. However, my new one has arrived at the dealer in the city and my files have been transferred. Hopefully all of them. My last several MSS are on DropBox so I'm not too worried about them. It's all the other stuff I'm concerned with. I'll head to the city tomorrow morning to pick it up. I'll be glad to get back to my 23" monitor and my ergonomic key board. My iPod Touch has been a life savor through this, but it's so tiny!

This is the week I'm attending the sheriff's office Senior Citizens Law Enforcement Academy. Each day this week from 1 to 5. Most attendees at there to prepare for or refresh their knowledge of being part of the Volunteer Patrol, which supports the sheriff and fire agencies. We learned the structure of both agencies and their services to the community, learned about gang activities (luckily its low in our area due to the task force's efforts. Yesterday we got to tour the jail, which was of special interest to me as the hero of my next to be released book, A DADDY FOR LUKE, ends up in the Cottonwood  County jail. We also learned investigation and evidence procedure. Today we'll have four hours with the SWAT team and after that we'll do some finger printing.

Have you taken any classes or attended any lectures that would normally be out of your comfort zone just to get more information for something that you're writing? I'd like to hear about.

~ Christy

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - What to DO when your computer DON'T

I took my computer to the shop and left it there. That was a 55 mile trip ONE WAY, that I left work early for so I could get there before they closed. I was hoping they could diagnose it then and there, but I guess not. I left a deposit even though they have my computer - "In case you decide it's not worth fixing." I'll hear back by Thursday, hopefully. That will be a week that I've been without my most addicting crutch - it's right up there with snack foods. Eek!

Besides trying to work on my mom's machine I've thought of some other things I can do while I wait.

Things to DO when your computer DON'T:

1. Listen to audio lectures on writing and take notes on action items.
I recently downloaded several audio lectures from the RWA Conference on to my iPod Touch. I listened to several about indie marketing.

2. Read trade magazines. 
My RWR arrived over the weekend and I read it with highlighter in hand. BTW, Sharpie makes a great liquid highlighter.

3. Read writers craft books or books about how writers live and work. 
I just started Don't Quit Your Day Job, Acclaimed Authors and the Day Jobs They Quit, Edited by Sonny Brewer. Look for a future blog about this engaging book.

4. Plan your ideal computer set up, or plan your most efficient work space, or plan a remodel of you 'office' to be the ideal writer's retreat. I.e., daydream a little.
I tossed a bunch of old photos and negatives, which made a small dent in all the stuff that clutters my office/studio/crafts room. I hope to get rid of years of unfinished projects, or left overs from projects long ago to make my writing space more comfortable and efficient.

5. Brainstorm your next mss on graph paper.

6. Read a book from the bottom of your TBR pile. 

7. Reorganize your TBR pile and reacquaint yourself with the reasons you bought those books in the first place. 

8. Fume and fret and expect withdrawal symptoms.
My symptoms are to wander around the house aimlessly wondering what to do. I wander right past the laundry basket, past the cat box, past piles of catalogs that come in the mail everyday, past the mixed up recycling bins.

9. Give thanks, be grateful for a 'forced holiday' from the computer.
I also spent time reading for pleasure.

10. Go shopping. 
I posted a photo on Facebook Saturday of the items I bought at a local antique mall. Besides the computer problems, we've been living under a plume of smoke from the Rim Fire 200 miles SW, right in line with our prevailing winds, for over a week. Can anyone say: SAD? And my cat has been sick for a couple of months and needs another steroid shot, but the vet was closed for the holiday.
Saturday winds had carried the smoke to the east for most of the day and going out, seeing the mountains again, breathing clear air and shopping helped to lift my spirits.

I've got a few days or maybe another week without my computer.
Can you add some ideas, writer related, to DO when your computer DON'T?

RWA - Romance Writers of America
RWR - Romance Writers Report  official magazine of RWA
TBR - To Be Read
SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder