Showing posts with label Facebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Facebook. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2014

Firearms, Self-Defense, and the Law: Information for Writers Plotting a Gun Scene


Image found publicly on Facebook
Your heroine is in a spot she could never -
would never - imagine finding herself. Sure, when she bought her gun  it was with the thought that it was for self-protection - but it was a distant thought, one that didn't comport real conviction. Now here she was loading her ten precious silver bullets into her magazine, sliding it into place, ready to take out the werewolf pacing outside her bedroom door.

In your fictional work, laws don't just go away. You will need to research the area in which your heroine lives and have her come to some decisions about her own conduct. In Janet Evanoviche's Stephanie Plum series, Plum disobeys the law by carrying a concealed gun - that she has no intention of shooting or even brandishing. Plum relies on the fact that she has dumb-luck (and a hunky police investigator boyfriend) on her side to keep out of jail.

What choices will your heroine make? 

Legal or Illegal? How does your heroine get a gun in her hand?
 * If she is buying a gun she must  fill out BATF form 4473. 
    This form includes information about the buyer, the serial
    number, and a description of the firearm. (Not applicable to
    private sales - obviously, if your heroine is getting it from 
    Crud Murphy in the back alley, she won't be filling out a form)
 * There are legal reasons why your heroine may not be able to
    follow the straight and narrow. It is illegal for her to buy a gun if 
    she :
     ^ Was convicted of domestic violence
     ^ Has ever had a court ordered restraint
     ^ Was a United States Citizens then renounced their
     ^ Was discharged from the armed forces dishonorably
     ^ Is addicted to a controlled substance
     ^ Is illegally in the U.S.
     ^ Is fugitive from the law
     ^ Was convicted of or under indictment for a crime that carries
        over a year in jail.

Legally possessing and legally transporting a gun are two different things.

Federal law prohibits guns in federal buildings such as
   post offices, some military installations, some public lands.
* The area your heroine lives will determine if she can open carry,
   conceal carry, whether she can only have her gun in her home or
   if she can have it in her yard/on her property.
* Gun safety laws are important to how you lay out your plot line.
   If your heroine's jurisdiction requires her to have a gun lock - can
   she get access to it in time? Especially under high-stress 
   circumstances? Remember that violent acts usually happen close 
   and quick. Did she prepare for that by having her bedroom set up
   like a safe room with steel doors? Does she decide to ignore the
   law and keep the gun under her pillow? You might just have her
   shoot the serial killer and have her butt dragged to jail. Isn't that 
   an interesting twist?

Image found publicly on Facebook

The Use of Deadly Force in Self Defense

The "Reasonable Man" Standard - What would a reasonable man (or heroine) do in a given situation. This is the standard that is placed before a jury. What seems reasonable to a person in the heat of the moment - with tunnel vision and other physiological and psychological factors running amok - may not seem so reasonable to those 12 who are rendering a verdict.

Reasonable Force -  The amount of force your heroine uses to defend herself can't exceed what is called for to get out of the situation. If the heroine hit the guy on the noggin with her fry pan, she can't pull out her gun and shoot the unconscious villain in the head to have it over with. While she may feel it's a reasonable response after all the heartache he's caused her, the courts would disagree.

Use of Deadly Force 
Image found publicly on Facebook
- In order to lawfully use deadly force. Your heroine must be the innocent victim of an imminent attack that threatens her life or the lives of those around her (her children for example). The threat has to be deadly and not about property. Sometimes other responses are requires by law - living outside of D.C. I would be required to attempt a retreat prior to using force, for example.

Brandishing - Is when your heroine displays her firearm in a threatening or aggressive manner; this action is illegal for the most part. Let's assume for a minute that your heroine is confronted by her crazy ex who hisses in her ear, "I'm coming after you. I'll toy with you then kill you and laugh as I burn your body." YIPES! Your heroine cannot pull out her gun and point it at him and say, "I'll be waiting." 1) that's brandishing and 2) that's provoking which means that if he does come after her, she is not an innocent party. So if anyone heard that exchange, she's in deep doo-doo if his body is splayed across her kitchen floor.

Castle Doctrine - "a man's home is his castle" and he has every right to defend it. This is the law in many jurisdictions such as Texas. In your home you are not required to retreat from an attacker. Also, in some places this law protects you wherever you are staying such as a hotel or friend's house.

Cessation of Threat - Your heroine is entitled to use deadly force against the attacker as long as she is still being threatened. If the zombie fled, surrendered, or collapsed in a pile of entrails, lethal force must stop.

So Your Heroine Shot the Bad Guy, Now What?

* In all jurisdictions if a shooting results in injury or death it will be
   investigated by the police.
* Anything your heroine says can be used against her
* She has the right to be quiet - though she may not have the right
   mental state to exercise her right. But sometimes less is more
   until she talks to her attorney. Yes, she is going to need one.
* If your heroine knew the person or quarreled with the person
   even if she was protecting herself - she may have acted illegally.
   (though many will say they'd rather be tried by 12 then carried by
   6) your heroine needs to think about that in advance and take
   precautions. In the trial was her only precaution to buy a gun and
   take one-on-one classes in quick draw? Uh-oh. Putting in a
   security system, getting a dog, putting up lights, filing for a 
   restraining order all of the OTHER steps she took to harden her 
   surrounding against attack will go in her favor.
* Your heroine is not going to get a pat on the back and a 
   handkerchief handed to her. She will probably be arrested, 
   booked, fingerprinted, and photographed. She will be put in a
   cell where she will wait until charges are dropped or bail posted. 
   This could take several days.
* The police may take the heroine's gun and any other gun in the 
   house since she is a suspect in a homicide (or if the villain lives
   she will have committed assault with a deadly weapon). And if
   the villain lives, his side of the story might be vastly different
   than your heroine's. (ballistic forensics LINK)
* They will probably fire her guns for ballistic impressions if they 
   are trying to make a case against her.

* An area where a shooting took place may (probably will be)
   treated as a crime scene. As the police run through their normal
   evidence collection (crime scene 101 information), they will
   cordon off the area and only the police will have access. This can
   go on for days or even weeks. Does your heroine have someplace
   else to stay?

* If your heroine carries in a state that requires a gun permit, she
   may have that permit suspended. Uh-oh. She killed the villain 
   and now his brothers are after her in retribution. Now what 
   choices is she going to make? 

* Criminal Trial - is possible

* Civil Suit is almost inevitable - as the family steps forward and
   tries to sue your heroine for killing their sweet baby. Just the
   legal bills will be thousands. (Check state law.)

I hope everything turns out great for your heroine and she gets to live happily ever after. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

As always, this is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.
Information for this blog article comes from NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home, (2000) National Rifle Association of America

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dynamic Handguns and Shooting in a Structure: Information for Writers Prt 1 - Plotting Gems

graphic found on Facebook
This blog article is based on my experience at an all-day dynamic gun training class that I took at 
Nottoway Wildlife Association, LINK  called "Personal Protection in the Home," following NRA curriculum. 

These are the same folks who taught me about rifles in this article: BLOG LINK

You are writing a kick ass heroine. Woot! And while everyone loves a beautiful, smart, effective heroine, and I have one as the main character in my Lynx series, it also adds dimension and reality if she struggles a little bit. One of my writing coaches told me that if things are going well for your heroine, you're writing it wrong. Your girl should be constantly struggling.

Well if I were a template for a heroine in a dynamic gun situation, believe me there was a whole lot of struggling going on. 

Before your heroine even brings a gun into her home she:

* Understands that using a gun or any lethal weapon
   is a tool of last resort - though your heroine doesn't believe this
   standard applies during a zombie apocalypse.

* Understands that gun laws and her decision making is
   based on locality; she should know her laws and have made her
   decisions in advance. How your plot advances depends on the
   reality of those laws.

The focus of this first blog in the three-part Dynamic Handgun series is take-away plotting gems that I picked up through hands on practice and lecture.

Found on Facebook

Things I learned: Or, Why your heroine can't go out and buy a gun today, and blow away the bad guy who jumps out of her closet with a machete in his hands tomorrow.

* Firing on a range and
Indoor Shooting Range at Sarasota, Florida, US...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
   (moving/situational) firing
   are vastly different.
* Firing on the fly without
   lining up the sites and
   having time to
   check stance, breathing, etc.
   will definitely effect your
   heroine's ability to hit the
   mark dead center. 
   Her goal is merely center-
   mass. As a range shooter, I
   hit bulls' eyes. That day? 
   Eh, not so much.

* I am a dancer/MA fighter; you'd think that I had control over my
   body. When my focus was on the "bad guy" also known as the
   little piece of paper in front of me, my coordination was off. Way
   Watch this video that was taken on the archery range.

   Here you can see the technique while focused on a single task.
   My right elbow is down and back. Then I was asked to perform a
   memory task and a speech task with the second shot. Even
   moving with plenty of time and deliberation, you can see my
   practiced body mechanics shift; my right elbow went above
   my head. The point here being - your heroine must practice
   situational, all components put together, tactics if you are going to
   write her a successful outcome. Doing it first time on-the-fly
   just won't fly with your readers who know anything about tactical

   * Past injuries can effect your character's ability to move fluidly
   into certain dynamic poses. For example, as I tried to follow the
   instructions to go down on my right knee, I felt like and old rusted
   gate. My ACL (central knee ligament) is made from a cadaver
   ligament after a fight that did not end in my favor. Who knew this
   would impact anything? In MA practice and dancing, I simply
   don't make that move. For me everything was very crunchy
   granola, and I lost my balance on the way down. So think about
   your character's past injuries and how they could effect her
   present-time shooting scenarios. Did something happen in the past
   that could trip her up now? Remember, nothing should come easy
   for her

   Brian Coates, whom you will see in the ThrillWriting 
   inset video at the bottom of this article, is a U.S. Marine Corp.
   veteran. He moved into place and dropped to his knee smoothly.
   (I'd say gracefully, but I think that would paint the wrong 

   Video Quick Study (3:46) Shooting on the move

   Practice makes perfect. Practice on this specific move - not just a 
   generally fit/sportive heroine. While being an active person might 
   make the learning curve quicker, there will still be a learning

* In my mind, switching to non-dominant hand shooting was no
   big deal. When I was actually asked to perform the task, I had to
   stop and look at my gun and figure out how to change my
   fingering, my left finger on the trigger felt really odd and pulling
   the trigger with my left index finger felt even odder. Did your
   heroine sustain an injury to her dominant arm/hand
   necessitating a switch? It's not going to be as easy or effective as 
   it is in the movies unless she trained this action.

English: Naval Station Everett, Wash (Jan. 29,...
) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Eyesight matters. I know
   you're thinking, no duh. But
   what if your heroine wears
   glasses or contacts? Does
   she have time to grab her
   glasses and her gun? 

   What if there is low light/no
   light? Did she practice 
   aiming with her eyes 
   closed? Does she have 
   a light attached to her gun? 
   A laser?

   Consider not  just eyesight
   but visual dexterity. 
   How quickly can your
   heroine spot and decipher a 
   potential threat especially 
   in an adrenaline impacted 
   situation? This is a trained
   response. Maybe not 
   necessarily combat training
   but some discrimination training

   Did her past job/conditioning make certain eye patterns difficult? 
   Let me give you and example: 
   One of our tasks was to not aim the gun with sights but merely to
   look at the center of the target and pull the trigger. My paper had 
   bullet holes neatly placed all the way around the outside of the
   target circle not a single shot made it to the inside. 

Image found publicly on Facebook
I feel his pain

   When my instructors talked to me about focus, I realized that I 
   could not perform this task because I have done neuro-plasticity 
   training that required me to look at a center point and focus on
   the periphery. Something I will now train to overcome. Gamers
   might have this kind of reaction and certain sports. 

Image copied from Facebook

* While revolvers are predictably reliable, automatics fail. My gun
   needed oil, so it failed quite a bit. (Lesson learned.)
   ` Stove pipe - when a bullet sticks straight up in the chamber
   ` Two bullets in the chamber
     Video Quick Study (10:37) malfunctions and clearing
     instructions notice he says to practice at home with snap caps.
     Your heroine must practice to be effective.

graphic found on Facebook

* They ran a drill that demonstrated a knife wielding villain can get
   to and injure your heroine before she could get a shot off (with
   the gun already in her hands). This might be good news for a 
   heroine who attempts to flee a gun scene. It might be bad news to
   your heroine if she is all that's standing between the bad guy and 
   the future of the world as we know it.

* Being shot is not as effective as one might be lead to believe by
   watching video games, movies and the like.
   ^ It is typically not bloody or even visible. If you need a bloody
     crime scene try a knife. (Homicide Scenes Blog Link, Blood
     Spatter Blog Link)
   ^ The person does not blow backwards as if there was a bomb.
     They collapse if the bullet was well placed like a shot to the
   ^ Often the person who is experiencing adrenaline will not even
     realize they've been shot ( read about that under scar story at
     bottom of this interview Blog Link)
   ^ Multiple, well-placed shots must occur in order to down your
   ^ It will take several seconds for the impact of those shots to take
     effect. In those seconds the villain is still functioning and can
     still harm your heroine.
   ^ Your villain's physical response will be effected by drugs or
      alcohol use. (Illegal Drugs 101 - choosing a drug for your
      villain Blog Link)
     - was he wearing a bullet-proof vest and merely stunned?
     - is he faking the collapse so that he can get your heroine to
       lower her guard?
     - Have your heroine cover the guy with her gun, stay vigilant,
       and wait for the police. She shouldn't go up and frisk him - he
       may grab her, take her down, and take her weapon --or maybe
       that's what you want to happen next. Or maybe she's in a
       remote area with no hope of help. Now she has to make some
       darned hard choices.

* Knowing that an attack happens quickly, and your character
   needs to get her bullets in even more quickly, I shot my entire 
   extended cartridge (16 count) of bullets as fast as I could with 
   some semblance of hitting central mass. I knew I was being taped 
   and therefore could time it. 10 seconds and I was empty. I was 
   fortunate that I didn't have any malfunctions while firing those 

Brian Coates demonstrating a behind barrier strategy discussed in
Prt 2 of Dynamic Handguns. Fiona Quinn emptying her mag.

You were not a very benevolent author and decided that your heroine would not be attacked by one but several assailants all at once. What's your girl to do to save her skin?
* She should engage the most hazardous threat first. 
   Things which might inform her assessment include:
   ^ How close are the attackers to her and which is closest
   ^ What kinds of weapon are they wielding? 
   ^ How fast are the attackers coming at her?
      We know that the police with all of their training only have a
       20% impact rate. And we know that you can survive and act
       after being hit by a bullet. Since the guy with the machete is
       barreling towards her, she might chance the bullet hit to stop 
       the machete-swinger.
* How many bullets does she have? If your girl is unloading on
   thing-one, then thing-two ran round the corner, she's left with
   a not particularly useful empty gun
   Another strategy would be to try to put a
   bullet in each of the ogres and then assess. Was she successful?
   Yes? Call the police and wait. They're still attacking? Shoot
   another round into each and so forth.
* Remember, even the best of the best get tunnel vision and train
   strategies to prevent this from happening. While she has the ogre
   in her sights his troll partner could be sneaking up behind her and
   she'd never know he was swinging his club - lights out. 

Some of my articles you might want to review along with this information -

About guns:
Found on Facebook
Bullet Tutorial
Choosing a Handgun
Shotguns and Rifles
Shooter Simulation 
       (tunnel vision)
Carrying Concealed (interview)

About forethought/preparation:
Home Invasion - Hard v. Soft Target
Home Invasion - Setting Up a Safe Room & Creating an Escape Route

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

This article was informed by the NRA Guide to the Basics of Personal Protection in the Home (2000)
As always, this is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.
Related articles

Sunday, June 1, 2014

How to Get Your Villain to Confess His Crimes - Info for Writers w/Sgt. Pacifico

ThrillWriting welcomes back Sgt Derek Pacifico from Homicide School for Writers. Today, we are taking the next step in interrogations: the questions.

image found on Facebook

If you need to know the difference between an interview and an interrogation go HERE

If you need to build rapport before you start the questioning phase go HERE

Fiona - 
Sgt. Pacifico I would like to know what the TV shows, movies, and books are getting wrong in terms of the questioning phase. Can we talk about that aspect of the interview/interrogation?

Sgt. Pacifico -

Sgt. Derek Pacifico - Writers' Homicide School
Most people think interviewing is asking questions.

Most cops make this mistake too. Why? Because they've seen a thousand interviews done by television cops for years before they were old enough to become a cop themselves. 

Real interviewing requires a lot less talking from the cops then you'd think or expect. When we ask questions, we are requesting an answer to the question. 
* But what if we are asking the wrong question? 
* What if we don't know that there is a hidden topic
   to even ask about? 
* What is the suspect is expecting the questions and has
    the answers quite rehearsed? 

The most valuable asset to interviewing is listening skills. The best thing, I tell rookie detectives, that they can do, is SHUT THE HELL UP! That's right, quit talking. Now this is of course after the rapport building stage when we have been chatting about "sports and horses" and everyone is all friendly-like. Now that it's time to get him/her to talk about the event we are investigating, we need to go after narrative responses. 

The method for doing that - pay attention those of you who interview in a human resources job, are a supervisor who needs to get to the bottom of the problem, or a parent trying to figure out which of your kids broke the vase - is to simply start with this: "So, tell me what happened." This will force the person into speaking in their language in a narrative format. 

Not answering direct questions with a yes or no allows the investigator to compare the speech pattern to how they were speaking just moments ago about their favorite food, best movie they've seen or what ever it was during sports and horses.

Fiona - 
Shutting the hell up is very difficult - I know this as a counselor. When there is tension in the air, our socialization is to fill the void. I imagine the longer an officer practices this technique, the more comfortable she is in allowing the person being questioned to sit in discomfort.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Absolutely. It is a practiced skill to "actively listen." It's not simply sitting there looking bored and confused. It's the act of leaning in with an engaged and smiling look, nods and gestures to allow the person to feel comfortable to keep speaking.

Fiona - 
That level of attention must be exhausting.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Some of my interviews have lasted six hours and yes when completed, I'm first exhilarated to have gotten the confession, but then when the high falls off, I'm spent. 

Actually, my last stint as a full time homicide detective, I interrogated 5 suspects in a row for the better part of an entire day. I could barely drive home after we got through with the booking process. 
English: Star Trek style 3D chess board
 3D chess board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most police work, including street interviews is checkers. Detective work is chess. Sometimes, in some cases, a homicide interrogation is like playing 3D chess. For those of you who know what 3D chess is, you know what a mental workout it is.

Fiona - 
One is always trying to out maneuver the opponent. So, open ended questions versus closed ended questions - tell me about leading questions.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Leading questions are BAD! Very BAD! Extremely BAD! Yet, it's all that I see on television and movies, and the reason why real cops don't like most shows that claim authenticity. 

Here is why. 

If I have not said anything about the crime at all, and we've only spoken about sports and horses, now during the actual interview, I ask you to tell me what happened, and you say you got a ride to the party in your friends blue Mustang, you are introducing that information into the story. The fact that I knew this from a video or previous testimony only bolsters the fact you are thus far being honest. If however you had lied and said a red Camaro, I would know the lie. BUT, if If asked you, "Did you get a ride in your friend's blue Mustang?" You would know I know and wouldn't try to lie. 

You see, I don't want the suspect to know what I know so they don't know what to lie about and when. If I lead them with a piece of evidence, I'm essentially putting words in their mouths and with enough of it, I can lose an interview legally for being coercive. Or the defense will simply argue to the jury that the defendant didn't admit to anything, he only agreed with the detectives version. But that can't happen if I don't lead and don't' include any info until he has admitted it.

Fiona - 
And you're trying to catch them lying to you? As in you want to know if they are honest and you can believe their statements on the whole? (The guy could be color blind, just sayin'.)

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Well if a guy is color blind, that will come up, and that's not the issue. But yes we are always testing the honesty, even the confession. 

We don't want false confessions. We don't want some poor kid to come in with a prepped story and being forced from his gang to admit to a crime he didn't commit because he is young and first timer, taking the blame for a seasoned and career criminal. If the guy in the room was the one who did it, his version will match the evidence in every detail. If it doesn't then we start to suspect he is a patsy. It's happened. 

We want the truth and real resolution. I tell the guy in the room, "Listen, I get paid by the hour not whether I make an arrest or not. There are no bonuses for arrests and no penalties for not making one. I'm after the truth and resolution to the case. That's it."

Fiona - 

What happens to that kid if his story didn't wash, you send him back on the street, and the gang thinks he didn't do his job?

Sgt Pacifico - 
It's a Rat!!
It's a Rat!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yeah, we just toss him back out there with a pound of cheese and say, "Thanks rat!" It's usually not quite as dramatic maybe as I inferred. Often, the false confessor is indeed involved in the crime but may not be the main player. So he is going down for lesser included crimes or accessory, but we go after the main player. But yeah, if you are in a gang and rat on the other guy, which they almost always do, there are bound to be repercussions when everyone is in the jail together.

Fiona - 

Sgt. Pacifico - 
It's funny from my perspective that the gangbangers still to this day think they are bold and brave, and believe that they nor anyone else would every tell on them. Well how do you think I got your name, address and started my investigation in the first place? From your brother gang members. Outsiders don't know who the bad guys are. The shop keep and the taxpaying neighbors don't know who did it. Gang members rat. Everyday, all the time. They just tell themselves they don't.

Fiona - 
What time frame seems the most reliable for having a clear memory? For example if I speak to someone the day after I get good info, but if I wait .... then I get garbage

Sgt. Pacifico - 
There are some studies I've read, but can not cite since they were years ago and I didn't keep them, that say immediately after a traumatic or exciting event is NOT the best time to do the interview. But for understandable reasons, its really the only time we will get quick information to find a suspect and/or be able to keep witnesses around, e.g. car crash witnesses, bank robbery witnesses, etc. Once the adrenaline has worn off and they have had a chance to process the information they are often better. In murders and other serious crimes,, we have commonly called witnesses back the next day and done a whole complete interview again, usually getting a much richer in detail set of facts.

Fiona - 
In the interview what is the criminal's mind set?

Sgt Pacifico - 
With suspects, it goes in one of two primary ways. 
* They "don't know nuthin' bout' nuthin!" and the interview ends
   pretty quickly and then goes into the next phase. 
* The suspect tells a version of the story he knows he can't get
   away from but excludes himself from the bad thing.

There are five phases in an interrogation/interview
* The First phase if you recall is interview prep.
* The second phase was rapport building.
* The third phase is the interview (which can last 10 seconds or
    multiple hours). 
* The fourth phase is "the break"
* The fifth and final phase is the interrogation.

Fiona - 
Ah - so now I know what we'll talk about next month.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
The break is right after the interview be it a short or long one. The break is caused by some ruse, I always used needing to go to the bathroom as the excuse - which more often than not was indeed true. During the break we take the suspect to the bathroom, allow him to get a drink from the fountain if he wants and if he smokes a (final) cigarette. Then he goes back into the room. We detectives go and huddle up and talk with our peers and the sergeant and make a game plan for the interrogation - which we will get into more detail next time.

Fiona - 
Do you often ask people to sketch, or act out an event? Have you ever used hypnosis to help a witness remember a crime or to allow a suspect to try to remember some detail that would exonerate them?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Yes we do ask them to sketch. It has multiple purposes and begets various helpful responses. When they are lying about their actions and we ask them to sketch it, the drawing is usually very confusing because demonstrating it on paper is a lot more defining that just trying to double speak and dance verbally around the specifics in an attempt to confuse the interrogator. Sometimes the sketch can be the trigger for a liar to start confessing as they see the futility in how their ridiculous story sounds. But when they are telling the truth, sketches drawn by the suspect that match crime scene photos we took weeks earlier are magic in court!

Fiona - 
How does this change if they lawyered up?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
If a suspect, at any time requests a lawyer, all questions stop and we are done. Hardly ever happened to me. Cops are stupid donut eating jocks who couldn't make it in pro-ball. Crooks are clever, conniving thieves who can surely buffalo the jerk with the badge in the room. At least that's what they think. I don't mind it. Kind of Columbo-like.

Fiona - 
OK but say they did and now the lawyer is in there with the questioning - do they usually allow that or just say no?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
First, the suspect may request a lawyer, but on high average, he ain't got one he can call. The interview ceases and we will decide based on our case and timing whether or not arresting and booking the suspect is the proper thing to do. Sometimes we aren't successful with an interrogation of a guy we KNOW did it, but don't have enough information so we release him. Murder warrants can be obtained and plane tickets purchased if he fleas.

Fiona - 
I want to make sure we have time for you to talk about Homicide School.What classes are you teaching? What do participants get to try themselves?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
June 9-10 I will be in LAS VEGAS putting on my WRITERS HOMICIDE SCHOOL. We are at the D Las Vegas, downtown's newest and hippest attraction. Sunday the 8th, we are having a private reception in the VUE bar. Monday morning, we get going at 9am - 3pm with open Q&A from 3-4pm. 

Then Monday night we are going as a group to the award winning "Marriage Can Be Murder" dinner show! There are still seats available! Please checkout THIS LINK to buy your tickets.

I've read reviews - your students love you.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
I love speaking to writers, they come with an open heart and mind, wanting to be taught something new. They are excited about some of the things I might find routine and it makes it so much fun to watch them get all excited about the new info!

I start the class with some basic information about police work in general, crime codes and some other myth-breaking information and then we delve right into crime scene investigation, case reviews, blood spatter interpretation and exercises, interview and interrogation and stories, stories, stories!

Fiona - 
I love stories. Share a quick one then I know you need to run.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Sure, here is one about a FEMALE murder suspect! 

This woman, her hubby and teen-aged daughter lived out in the desert area of our county. Dirt lot with a dirt driveway from a dirt road. Pavement was hundreds of yards away if not more. That's important because she calls 911 in the morning to report her husband was the victim of an overnight intruder style burglary/homicide. 

Only she didn't realize that the rains from three days prior had completely washed the desert tracks clean and the only shoe and tire tracks within a thousand yards of her residence where her's, hubbie's and teen-ager's. Oh, and she forgot to have any forced entry. Oh, and she forgot to have stuff stolen. Oh, and she forgot to have a reason why he is dead yet she and teenager were asleep in the bedroom down the hall, and they were unharmed. Oh, and she forgot to destroy the credit card receipts her hubby was laying on showing the incredible gambling debt she had incurred. 

She kept her cool and never confessed and actually fled to Georgia for a few weeks when we weren't looking. Once we had enough evidence, we went and got her. She is doing life in prison...

Fiona - 
YAY! On that happy note, we thank you for your time and expertise. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Want to Try Something Knotty? Five Helpful Knots to Save Your Heroine's Life


I was going for an interpretation of nobody li...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You've put your heroine in a bind.
Tsk tsk tsk. Why am I not surprised?
Luckily, you write kick-ass heroine's
who know how to leap in and save
the day.

And of course, if she can tie the knot,
she also understands how to untie the
knot and escape.

Here are five easy knots that she might use.

NOTE: I put up a video of my tying each knot, so you can see how quick and easy they are to do. It should be enough information to understand the knot for writing it into a scene. I also put up a quick study with better camera angles, in case you actually wanted to try them yourself.

Bowline knot Português: Nó lais de guia
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Bowline Knot - 

* A bow line knot is an
   essential rescue knot
* Makes a loop that does not
   slide up and down
* Used for emergency
   extraction from holes,
    water, etc.
* Your heroine can then throw the rope to the
     person in trouble. That person can wrap the
     loop around their torso, or grab hold of the
     loop like a handle and be pulled to safety.

A clove hitch formed in the bight and slipped ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Clove Hitch

* This is a knot that can attach an item
   such as a carabiner or stick to a
* Used frequently by characters who are

Deutsch: Zimmermannsknoten, zum Befestigen ein...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Timber Hitch

* When you need to tie a line to an object
   such as a rope to the balustrade so your 
   heroine can climb out of the window and
   away from the bad guy.

4. Taut Line Hitch (also written Tautline Hitch)

English: Taut-line hitch (ABOK #1856)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* This knot slides to adjust
    the size of the  loop
* It is usually used for tent 
* Can be used to throw over
   an object such as a post, 
   then pulled tightly to make
* Good for bringing things up a tree or for 
   throwing over an object then pulling
   toward the heroine if she can't reach it.
* Helpful when making a tarp wind shield
   because it is adjustable.

Sheet bend
Sheet bend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Sheet Bend

* A sheet bend is a secure 
   way to take two shorter 
   pieces of rope and make 
   them into one longer piece.
* This can be used, for
   example with the paracord 
   that your heroine pulls from her 
   paracord bracelet (Blog Link)
Double sheet bend
Double sheet bend (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* If someone's life is on the 
   line use the double
   sheet bend for extra
Video Quick Study (4:43 go right to the 1:45 

By the way:
A hitch is a knot that ties a rope to an object
A lashing ties two  ropes together

ADDENDUM: After two authors left questions below about a heroine getting untied, I made this video for them. Things I learned:
* It is actually not as easy as one would think to effectively tie
   someone's hands behind their back. There is a
   fine line between secure and no circulation. Hubby actually had
   to try several times to get it right - while he
   ties knots all the time, he's only tied people to secure/save them
   never to restrain them.
* Room is required for flailing about. LOL
* Certain clothes/shoes would make this move impossible.
* This video was edited to accommodate for your time. I actually
   had to gnaw at the knots for quite a while.
   You're heroine should anticipate this taking time and being

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.