Showing posts with label Scott Silverii. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scott Silverii. Show all posts

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Who Has Jurisdiction? A Question for Crime Writers with Tina Glasneck

This post was written by ThrillWriting friend Tina Glasneck, who jumped in to help me out as I am furiously trying to meet a deadline for my publisher. So a big thank you and welcome to Tina. Tina's other articles on ThrillWriting are: Paralegals 101  and Prepping the Alleged Perp.

Who has jurisdiction?

Being a part of a writing community provides opportunities that are not always possible to enjoy alone. This past weekend, I attended a wonderful workshop regarding the Cop Culture and the Organizational Differences in Law Enforcement.This workshop was about getting the details right.

There are different branches of law enforcement including, Tribal, Federal, Task Force, State Police, Private Security, Sheriff, Local Police, and even Campus Police. When creating a crime story, a mystery that entails that a crime occurred, it is important for to question jurisdiction, and to know which law enforcement agency might respond.

In understanding the jurisdiction issue (and it is not always based on county, city, state or country lines), let's look at the example of a laptop being stolen. If it happens on a college campus, it’s usually something reported to Campus police, but it could also be reported to the city or county police who have jurisdiction over that campus, based on where the campus is located.

What about the state police? Would they look into something as benign as a stolen laptop? Well, it all depends. For example, in Virginia, Virginia State Police would be called in “to investigate any matter referred by the Governor.” Additionally, “[t]he Attorney General, commonwealth's attorneys, chiefs of police, sheriffs and grand juries may request the Department to investigate matters that constitute Class 1, 2 or 3 felonies.”

Class 1, 2, or 3 felonies include: murder, and malicious wounding, and although it does not include burglary or grand larceny, I think that if it is connected to such a matter, it could then still fall under the perview of the State Police.

Now let’s suppose that this laptop has something egregious on it – say it is connected to a serial killer, and all of his victims, for such a matter the FBI would be quite interested. According to the FBI’s website: “The Bureau concentrates on crime problems that pose major threats to American society. Significant violent crime incidents such as mass killings, sniper murders, and serial killings can paralyze entire communities and stretch state and local law enforcement resources to their limits. Particular emphasis is put on criminal street gangs, bank robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, interstate transportation of stolen property and motor vehicles, assaults and threats of assault on the president and other federal officials, and the theft or destruction of government property. As part of this priority, the FBI also investigates crimes against children, art theft, child prostitution, fugitives and missing persons, and crimes on Indian reservations.”

Can you see where we're going with this? It is not just the object but how it connects to the overall crime.

And what about these organizations working together. Borders do not always stop one law enforcement's jurisdiction. This is called concurrent jurisdiction. Concurrent jurisdiction means: "The authority of several different courts, each of which is authorized to entertain and decide cases dealing with the same subject matter.”

It is important to understand concurrent jurisdiction, especially in our understanding of the FBI, DEA, and others working in a task force. “In law enforcement, “concurrent jurisdiction” may exist, where a crime may be a local, state, and federal violation all at the same time.” See FBI on task force.

This is where task forces come into play, and there will be agents from multiple agencies on the task force.” Task forces typically focus on terrorism, organized crime, narcotics, gangs, bank robberies, kidnapping, and motor vehicle theft. “Ibid. As a side note, the FBI does investigate matters which take place on Tribal land, as well, just as it can have an attache in the embassies located outside of the US borders..

Another jurisdiction to consider is the sovereign jurisdiction of the Tribal nations. The Federally recognized tribes, who have reservations, are their own sovereign nations. While some of these reservations have their own tribal law enforcement officers, those that do not have their own police force use officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). For more information, see BIA.Gov

When writing that next piece and working on solving that next case, consider that question of jurisdiction. Not only do we have to look at the crime itself, but as to the severity of the crime and if concurrent jurisdiction is indeed possible. The theft of this laptop can, from my understanding, be a jumping off point for multiple agencies to get involved in the investigation, and it will depend on the details on who actually takes the lead.

A special thanks to Lilianna Hart and Scott Silverii for leading such a wonderful workshop in making sure us writers get it right, and can take our writing and careers to the next level!

 (Look for Scott Silverii ThrillWriting articles by doing a search at the top right-hand side of this blog)


TINA GLASNECK writes in an array of genres and loves a good story. She appreciates a good cup of coffee, characters that cause visceral responses, and a nice helping of laughter to balance it all out. Learn more about Tina and her writing at

Some things are worth killing for.... Alexandria "Xandy" Caras was charged with murder - a mass murder. The charges were dropped; the case dismissed. Or was it? A serial killer with a "Moses complex" is out for blood - Xandy's blood - and the blood of those who have sinned against the 10 Commandments. The bodies are piling up, and he's getting closer to his number one target: Xandy. Only her death will make it all stop, silencing the deranged killer who thirsts for far more than just revenge.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

An Alpha Male Character in Retirement: Info for Writers with Retired Chief of Police, Scott Silverii

A Farmer Reading His Paper. Photographed by Ge...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You have the perfect-for-your-plot character planned for your WIP. It's an alpha male in retirement. Maybe a soldier. Perhaps a cop, or fireman, or any other career that attracts a certain kind of "I'll stand against evil/bad things" type of guy.

I'm talking about males here. Yes, there are alpha women - you can find lots of articles about them on my blog - just check the archives. But today, I'm going to focus alpha males in retirement.

To this end, I am visiting with ThrillWriting friend, Scott Silverii. No, he would never call himself an alpha-male. He's an extremely humble guy and that might feel like bragging to him, so I'm going to call him that, and I do have a graduate psych degree, and he does meet all of the qualifications. So you can trust me here, I picked the right guy for this interview.

Fiona - 
Scott, today, we're talking about alpha males in retirement.

Scott -
Sure - from an outsider's perspective - Ready.

(See? Humble. Note that for your character - this is a quality I see in good-guy alpha males. And I guess, I should have included that in the article descriptors. If you're writing a bad guy alpha - braggadocio and megalomania would replace humble.)

Scott, I know several writers who are working on plots that include protagonists who have retired from jobs that are high adrenaline and also have a hierarchical structure in place -- the police, the military. And now these men have retired from that line of work.

Scott -
It's funny, but now that I've retired from that life, I notice so many more books with "retired" protags having left an adrenaline-fueled occupation.

Fiona - 
Can you talk about the transition?

Scott - 
I'd once feared leaving law enforcement, but as I began to see the possibilities for a life on the other side, the dread gave way to optimism. I retired in August 2015, and have experienced a bit of stress that was associated with leaving the structure of command and the constant camaraderie with other alphas.

Fiona - 
And adrenaline? - Do you seek that out in other areas? Do they have adrenaline junkie clubs?

Scott - 
Oh goodness, I do and don't miss the adrenaline moments - a total double-edged sword. 

I don't miss the slow build up to a crisis event that culminates with just seconds of action (sometimes terror - Ha!!). I do miss being the go-to guy when the poop hits the fan. I thrived on the stress and potential for danger. Not that I was a risk taker, but I enjoyed removing the risk as much as possible and executing a sound operational plan.

Fiona - 
In your doctoral thesis, you wrote about the sheep dog mentality (for more about sheep dogs go to THIS TW blog article. For more about Scott's thesis and book go to THIS TW blog article) where the alphas -- or sheep dogs-- think of themselves as "other" In your experience with friends and colleagues, does this continue after you leave the job? If yes, how does one cope? If no, how does one integrate?

Scott - 
The Sheepdog mentality is something that I've been able to witness from a distance. While it's vital for cops and 1st responders to have a winning mindset and also understand that often times society doesn't fully understand how difficult it is to remain in the social margin, I also think it's counterproductive for law enforcement to adopt a separatist ethos. 

I mean, I see young officers' not even in the basic academy yet who are posting and getting tatted about being the protector and about civilian sheep. they've not even investigated a garden hose theft yet, and already they've assumed this us versus them ideology - it too is a double - edge sword.

How to reintegrate? Working with writers has been my anchor back to society. I meet and work with people who are just as intense and willing to take risk as I am - most just don't carry the weapons. Sharing my experiences and knowledge of over nearly 26 years also helps me to ease into the "white picket fence" life. 

I'm not 100% percent cozy yet, but I believe that once you've had your eyes ripped wide open to life's realities, they can never filly rest or blink at what goes on around you

Fiona - 
I'm thinking about soldiers now - I've read many of them wishing they were back in the fight, not for the fights sake but to support their fellow soldiers. They feel like when they are out being civilians they have left the burden to someone else. Is this something you've seen in the police world as well? Some guilt?

Scott - 
Good point. It's a form of Survivor's Guilt. You see the cops shot and attacked across this country and you hurt. I mean crying tears of sadness and guilt about "leaving" them on the street. 

As a Chief and Commander in various divisions since 1992, I've always carried the burden of concern and guilt for everyone. I still stare at every traffic stop I pass, just in case the officer needs help. Yes, the bonds of this fraternity don't stop when the pay check stops, but I fully understand that it's no longer my job, but protecting others will always be my duty.

Fiona - 
How often do you see things happen and feel compelled into reflexive action and then think, wow - that's not my responsibility anymore? And the follow up question - what could you see that would make you jump in and at what level would you jump in? A phone call? A take down?

Scott - 
Funniest examples are traffic violations. I was never a traffic cop, but now that I'm in a personal vehicle, I see all the reckless things people do and they continue doing them because they don't see a police unit. It's like I'm a ghost who gets to see the reality of life. If I saw a drunk driver, I'd make a 911 and follow from safe distance. If someone was injured I'd stop to render aid. If I saw a cop in a struggle, I'd flash my badge and join them in any situation. I'd also, always defend the innocent. Thankfully, I'm still commissioned as a retired officer and authorized to carry.

It wasn't the uniform that drove me to help others.

Fiona - 
I'm not going to ask you about your own personal EDC, (it's dangerous to let others know what you carry, folks, just like it's dangerous to announce you're going out of town on social media). But what are you aware of others carrying as part of their stay-safe strategy after years of being exposed to the worst? D
o they have go-bags in their trunks?

Scott - 
Honestly, some still use the old stash the pistol in their wife's purse method. I know its crazy, but it's true. Retirement is about minimizing the clutter of life. That also includes your gear. Cops wear it strapped around their waist for the life of their career. I think most go back to the basics. A commission card / badge, weapon / magazines and handcuffs.

Emergency preparation once retired is more about reacting to your families needs. The tools to get you and them out of a fix. First aid kit, tools described above - not for enforcing the law, but protecting self and others.
Scott and his wife, Liliana Hart, together they make SilverHart.
I can't imagine that Liliana would let Scott
 slip a gun into her purse. Just sayin'

Fiona - 
Wait - they stash their gun in the wife's purse? She has to carry that weight and responsibility????

Scott - 
Ha! You've never heard about that?

Fiona -
Pshhh - Carry your own gun - I have my own stuff to carry.

So, this gives a whole new insight to the guy standing outside the dressing room while his wife tries on clothes. He wasn't being helpful - he just didn't want his gun to be out of sight.

Scott - 
True! But many a rookie has their wife carry in her purse. And the rookies also have more negligent discharges in bathrooms than on the firing range.

Fiona - 
Ha! Noted.

Why are you guys playing with your guns in the bathrooms?
Shhh. I don't really want to know.

You mentioned at the beginning of this interview that you've been reading a lot of plots that include retired alpha males. What are the things that make you scoff and say - that's not what happens! And conversely what has a writer gotten right about the nuances of an alpha in retirement that you thought, huh, that's pretty insightful.

Scott - 
One thing that's incorrect is that a retired alpha has the same access to resources as while they were active. The reality is that policing is an all or nothing fraternity. Once you leave, they may like you and hang out, but it's very clear you're no longer one of "them"

Fiona - 
That must hurt.

Scott - 
Yes, it does a bit, but you come to understand and expect it. If cops are honest, they/we had the same attitude while on the job when others left it.

What I see getting it right is the culture of the retired alpha - often solitude, inability or unwillingness to fit into the mainstream. But I love that despite it all, the retired book alpha still has a burning heart for service and a kick ass skill set

Fiona - 
Yes, I love that.

Scott -
Me too - can't beat experience

Fiona - 
So the alpha male retired. He's out of the fraternity. He doesn't fit in with society per se, describe a normal retirement day that might lead to an interesting plot line (just to put you on the spot) what would a retired military/police see that the normal public wouldn't and would they feel compelled to follow the bread crumbs or would they say f-this it's on someone else's shoulders. Not to group everyone into the same corner -- just maybe triggers that he had to act on.

Scott - The New Normal - It's funny, but after you've been in charge of others for you entire adult life, you still have the calling to command. So your kids become your Unit. That in and of itself is a story line. They refer to drill sergeants and have learned about pressure point control tactics, and even how to properly hold a knife in a fight. I can see the 12 year old in her cafeteria with the blade protected.

So the retired alpha plot involves the need to supervise and keep the new Unit safe. While we're at the movies or getting gas, the alpha's head is ALWAYS on a swivel. I see drug deals that are obvious to me because I worked undercover for 12 years. We don't voluntarily go into bad areas, but I witnessed two outside of a gym - probably steroids because they looked young, red and puffy - Ahhh - youth.

Unless it was something about to go down at my home, like a person casing the place with multiple pass-bys or bogus door knocks, I wouldn't get too jazzed up. the biggie is watching who interacts with our kids - mostly what adults are in their spheres of influence and why are they there.

Fiona -
Here's where I punt - What should I have asked you? What did you want writers to know about? 

p.s. Scott is a writer, too. Check out some of his titles:


I'd like writers to know that most of you do an amazing job getting it right. 

The truth is, they are under no obligation to "document" the police or military as a researcher or reporter. Yet, I've found no other documentor of the professions that take as much care to capture not only the procedures, but the nuances of alphas. I don't tell war stories, but because I love and respect the care writers give to their own stories and the people they reflect in their work, I'm always happy to share.

Fiona - 
Scott, you have a program to help writers write this kind of thing right. Can you tell me about your SWAT Academy? What can writers try on their own - whose brains can they pick. . .

Scott -
Thanks - in addition to the always accessible SilverHart Writers website featuring experts from police, fire, forensics, military and law, we're hosting the SWAT Academy in October 2016. 

The Suspense Writers Adventure Training (SWAT) is a writer's fantasy camp where they'll get to live the alpha-life they create. 

Drive high-speed police cruisers, raid drug dens, and become part of a SWAT tactical unit that searches for the fugitive, shoot weapons on the range, work actual crime scenes, and much more - also we have learning labs in between the field activities featuring the best in their fields to teach authors what to do with the awesome experiences they have. 

The best part is everyone actually lives, eats and trains on an actual law enforcement special operations complex. Even the instructors live on site. It's the only event like it in the world, and it's open for registration.

Fiona - 
How awesome is that? Very fun!

So here's some contact information:

As always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, 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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Walking Around Naked at Authors' Combat Academy

-- not for real, but it sure felt that way.

I arrived in Nashville, Tennessee for Authors’ Combat Academy and the whole weekend I felt like I was walking around naked. It was a little bit like that feeling you get when you’re dreaming about your glory days in high school, standing at the blackboard solving a problem for physics class, and you realize that you’re only wearing your underwear -- and it’s the orange and purple granny panties your mom bought you at a 10 for 1 sale at JC Penny’s. Yeah that dream – or maybe your reality. Hey, I’m not here to judge.

The reason for my distress was that I traveled for the first time by plane in fifteen years. I like to drive. I like packing whatever the heck I want to pack, pace my trip at whatever speed I want to pace, and tool around whenever I want to tool around. Okay, I just like control.

Remember this is a non-judgement zone.

Also, by driving, I would have avoided the drunken giant who sat next to me on my last leg, who opened with "Hey, my wife just left me, and I’m messed up – I hope I’m not inappropriate." 
"Dude. . . "(shakes head, takes notes for future novel.)

No car keys. No EDC (save my paracord -- which, by the way, came in handy when an instructor was building a booby trap). . .

Missing those things which I usually have on or about my body was really uncomfortable for me and left me with that "I forgot to pull on my pants" feeling. (And again, I’m noting this feeling for a future novel.) It was slightly discombobulating, a low hum of “something’s wrong”. But believe me, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the weekend that I just spent with the fabulous people at Authors’ Combat. WHAT A BLAST!

You all know that I am a HUGE, VOCAL, possibly even OBNOXIOUS advocate of hands-on experiences for writers. I know many of you, for reasons of health, location, and laws, may not get to try everything you’d like to in your novels, but I truly support and believe that if you can swing it, SWING IT! And Authors' Combat gave us the opportunity to do just that.

There are conferences that will put you in front of readers; they are important. There are conferences that will put you in front of publishers and agents; those are important. But honing your craft will make the agents more interested in your excellent prose and the readers thrilled with the realism that you are only able to capture when you know what the heck you're talking about. 

I was at 
AUTHORS' COMBAT ACADEMY to present. My talks included such topics as understanding the psychology behind violence and trauma. We also talked about how humans approach each other with the possibility that an interaction ends very badly, but also the path to a happily-ever-after at the end of your story.

Chief Scott Silverii, Sgt Derek Pacifico, Liliana Hart

There was a wealth of information available from professionals who did both presentations and one-on-one question and answer sessions with authors like --
Scott Silverii from SWAT ACADEMY and 
Lilliana Hart who has sold a bajillion novels (that translates to “shit-ton of books” here in beautiful Nashville) as an Indie author and their SILVERHART resources for authors. (I'm a member, are you?) 

And too, there’s an enormous amount of camaraderie that’s developed when you're being tossed (with your permission) to the ground and handcuffed by Sgt. Derek Pacifico from WRITERS' HOMICIDE SCHOOL, or learn to throw a knife from world knife throwing hall of famer Jack Dagger (hilarious, by the way. If you can get to his shows please do – and tell him I sent you. And if you can't catch his show  but your hero is throwing a knife to take down your bad  guy, Jack has a DVD on his website so you can try it at home and know how to write that move and make the knife stick). 

Jack Dagger - the importance of distance

Jack Dagger teaching the art of the knife throwing
 so now you know how to write it right!

Imagine, if you will, how edifying it would be not only to experience the hands on opportunities so you know:

the heft of a sword, how it reverberates after you hit a shield.

but you’ve also played with the weapons in the weapons room. You've had ninjas help you choreograph your big fight scene. You've learned how a self protection move can take down your bad guy. And you get to try it yourself!

Imagine that you got a chance to talk to Sgt Pacifico or Police Chief Silverii and you not only heard what an alpha males voice sounds like (it’s a particular timbre), but you've seen how they move about in a public space. You might notice that they choose their seats facing toward the room with their backs to the wall (and how subtly stressful it is for them when someone else takes the alpha seat first.) Talk about fodder for character development!

Or you got to hear Liliana Hart give the keynote that was deeply inspirational and affirming and made me want nothing more than to leave the room immediately and start putting words on the page.

Really good stuff.

Huge kudos to Eli Jackson and AJ Scudiere – what a marvelous, smooth, laid back, fun, interesting (delicious!) event they put on. I am so looking forward to going next year. And seriously, as soon as Authors' Combat Academy announces sign up for next year, mark your calendar (right now it's being planned for March 31- April 2nd) and stake your claim on a space. You definitely want to be here.

Upcoming hands-on conference that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND:

And as always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, 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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Intelligence World à la Hildie McQueen: Info for Writers


Fiona - 
Today, we're visiting with author Hildie McQueen.
Hildie, you have an unusual back ground. You started off your career in army intelligence, turned successful romance writer, turned suspense writer.
I'm sure you've found at all these turns that once in a while, circumstances line up and a hero emerges.

Sometimes they are not your every day heroes. I usually ask this question at the end, but could you tell us your favorite scar story 
and how the soldier and his dogs showed up at just the right moment?

Hildie -
My life has always been about going with the flow. Following my instincts to see where they land me. Usually, it works out. I'm super excited about this new turn, a try at romantic suspense.

How I got scar on my forearm (hidden by tatoo now)

One evening back in 1982, I was heading back to my Army kaserne (post) from a beer fest. A girlfriend and I were especially proud of having stolen large beer steins. We were, I'm sure, talking obnoxiously loud as we walked down the street. About four blocks from the front gate, a group of Turks happened upon us. I'm not sure if they meant us harm or were just having fun. What I do know is that we were not about to find out, so we took off running. And they chased after us, cat calling and saying things in Turkish.

It was not that hard to get away from them. And since we were both Army soldiers, that part didn't worry me. What did bother me was the possibility of having to drop my prize stein, and it breaking.

When we got to the back wall of the Army kaserne, we split. I decided to scale the wall, while my friend Lori (the smarter of the two) sprinted to the front gate. I got to the top of the wall, used the mug to hold down the barbed wire as best I could and jumped down.

Out of breath, I straightened to find that I had jumped right into the K-9 kennels. The dogs didn't bark at first, most cocked their head to the side and stared at me with puzzled expressions.

"Hands in the air!" a military police guy came to my rescue. (Sort of, I think his gun was drawn.)

He later told me, I was a sight. Obviously drunk, pants torn, mug in the air, blood dripping down my arm.

He was nice enough to let me stagger to my barracks, and I was nice enough not to mention his dogs were not very good watchmen since not one bit me.

Fiona - 
Hildie, what was it like being young in Germany working in Army intelligence?

Hildie -
It was an adventure. I hung out with German friends and got to know the locals, which was super cool. Germany is a beautiful country. I enjoyed traveling to Spain, France, and Italy. The only regret was that I was so young, I didn't appreciate so much the beauty of the architecture and such. At that age, my German friends and I spent most of our time jumping trains and having a great time.

The interesting part, was that I couldn't do some of the things they did because I had a Top Secret clearance and could be tested at any moment. So I stuck to the legal pursuits.

Fiona - 
Did you need to go through any specialized training or background checks to take on you duty?

Hildie - 
Oh yeah, everyone in my neighborhood was questioned. My mother was beside herself trying to explain to them that I wasn't a murderer, but had a special job in the military. LOL 

Besides random drug testing, I have been polygraphed about ten times! I hate those things

Other than my job training, I also had to do special anti-terrorist training yearly.

Fiona - 
Tell us about the polygraphing process and how you felt during the procedure.

Hildie - 
The first time, I wasn't sure what to expect. They sat me in a chair with a special cushion on it. Then a strap across my chest and wrists. Some sort of other monitors. Then they begin by telling you to lie. Those polygraph technicians were sneaky bastards, too. They would ask the same question over and over and freak you into thinking, "Oh no, am I lying?" LOL It's unnerving. But most of the time, I was done within an hour or so.

Fiona - 
Why a special cushion?

Hildie - 
I think people clench their butt cheeks when they lie.
I never even thought about practicing butt cheek relaxation. LOL

Fiona - 

An hour seems like a very long and exhausting time - did you head to the bar afterwards?

P.S. A valium will take care of all that. Did they do drug tests at the same time?

Hildie - 
Nah, it was usually during work hours. Go get tortured, then back to work. I know some people had a beer right before. Not sure if it helped.

But they asked about drugs

Especially if you started clenching because you needed a restroom break.

I did fail once because I wanted to cough and kept holding back. They got mad at me and kicked me out of the room. I tell you those polygraphers are buttheads! ;-\

Fiona - 

So you passed with flying colors because you're such a good girl err, were such a good girl (I'm posting photos of you - so you can't lie about this)

Hildie - 
I passed because I didn't lie. Not because I was a "good girl." There's a difference ;)

Fiona - 
What did you do during the day. And what would have happened to you if you smuggled files out in your boots?

Hildie - 
I was a captains assistant. He was hot too, had one blue eye and one brown eye. I still remember him. Captain Carson. He was blond... 

Oh yeah about the job, I did all kinds of things, mainly briefings and security - administrative type, not walking around with a weapon.

I was taking paperwork to headquarters one day and didn't realize there were a couple of classified documents mixed in. That was not a fun day. They wrote me up and made me go through refresher training, which was funny since I normally did that. So I counseled myself! LOL

I've never met a man with different colored eyes - what a fun detail. Have you worked it into any of your books? 

Hildie - 
Yeah, I wonder where he is now. I am going to write that hero. Not sure but he'll probably be a cop or a cowboy!

Fiona - 
What are the different file classifications and what puts material into these categories?

Hildie - 
Confidential, Secret and Top Secret, then there's some super duper one called *****. 

(Fiona's note - references to this top secret name had to be redacted for national security's sake - I was warned that if I posted it, the baddies would come after me and try to milk me for other information. If you are a baddie and think I have any kind of information at all - I DO NOT. And everything redacted is erased from my memory. But Hildie knows - go for her.)

Hildie cont.
 I never saw one of those. Usually it depends on the measure of how much damage would be caused to National Security.

Fiona -
*****! HOLY MOLY, girlfriend. I wouldn't look at a file called ***** if you paid me my weight in gold.

Hildie -
I never got any closer than a rubber stamp with that on it. It was still new when I transferred.

No telling what evil would be after me and mine to give up the goods.

Yeah, most of us only knew a bit of the puzzle, rarely enough to be taken hostage by any baddies

Fiona - 
How would they transport ***** files - in a tank?

Hildie - 
LOL Probably a special courier. 
Whose job I would never want.

Fiona - 

Were you trained for that - what to do if a baddie snagged you?

Hildie - 
Give your name and serial number. That's it, can't say anything else

Personally I'd offer them sex and to cook or clean their house. I was not about to die

Fiona - 
As if you could "offer" something. If the baddies had you, they'd make you do whatever they wanted.

You have to come up with a contigency plan - quick! What would you do?

...besides make a killer salsa.

no wait!

That might just do it.

Hildie - 
Hey, Mr. Badman, how about if I tell you what I read on an ***** file once? Plus, I'll give you Captain Carson's address.

I'd make some crap up about ships and air craft carriers!

Fiona - 
Captain Carson appreciates your loyalty. You don't have my address do you?

Did you learn ways to do research - find information that isn't readily available to lowly writers such as myself?

Hildie -
In a way. I haven't used any. I don't find that world as fascinating as perhaps the world of police officers, snipers, and black ops. They are the ones that have all the fun!

Fiona - 
Did you think the world of intelligence would be more exciting - were you disappointed?

Hildie - 
Not really. I think I was a bit paranoid at first. But I got used to it. There were times I was a bit nervous like when spies were caught or when we had certain threats, but for the most part it was not as exciting

Fiona - 
Can you tell me about spies being caught?

Hildie - 
Not any specifics. But I did work with a traitor for a short time. I don't understand people who do that.

Fiona - 
Can you tell us about that experience?

Hildie - 
It happened in the 80s. Boring normal guy. 

One day we are on shut down, can't leave the building. I was in Germany at the time. People that knew him were taken to be questioned. The rest of us were screened and released. I think I got home the next day early morning. It was strange, no one trusted anyone, and we all felt suspicious and paranoid. Didn't learn until months later what exactly happened. I'd only seen him in passing, so I wasn't one of the unlucky ones who was held for days. I remember being so mad at him. So angry that someone would do something that could potentially get us all killed. For money.

Fiona - 
What are three things that writers get DEAD WRONG about military intelligence.

Hildie - 
I haven't read much, but people assume everyone with a clearance has had a super secret mission. That military intelligence doesn't help as much as they should during war time, when in actuality, many of the servicemen and civilians in MI are first ones on the ground. And lastly, that MI folks are smart! LOL Nope mostly just crazy!

Fiona - 
Awesome. You are awesome, Hildie.

Hildie - 
Thanks! It was fun, had me reminiscing ! I'd like to mention the three cops I'm dedicating my book to. My friend Sheriff's Deputy Keith Warner, a guy that pulled me over in Alabama, and then became my FB friend. Officer Ryan Key. Scott Silverii. They're all heroes!

Fiona - 
They are indeed! Before you go, tell us about your novella.

Hildie -
The last twenty-four hours have been hell, between a fight with her ex that left her with a bruised face and now finding a dead body. Somehow Eliza Brock still manages to feel the undeniable attraction to the handsome deputy in charge of the investigation.

Sebastian Castro planned for another slow week in Lovely, Tennessee. Instead, the first murder in twenty years happens. Eddie Mason is dead, Eliza's ex had an ongoing feud with him and the widow is making the moves on Castro.

It's definitely not a normal week in the small town. But it's the week fate decides to bring two solitary people together. Just when neither of them needs it.

Heroine (Eliza) finds a dead guy, and her ex is one of the people of interest.

She'd convinced the deputy won't ask her out now, so she's bummed.
The Hero (Sebastian) while caught in the middle of investigation finds his attraction to Eliza distracting.

I have a funny scene where they're kissing. She puts the breaks on it, and he falls off the couch! It cracked me up while writing.

Fiona - 
Ha! Thanks for sharing, Hildie.

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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Is Death Growing in Your Garden? Information for Writers with Teresa Watson


The hazard symbol for toxic/highly toxic subst...
The hazard symbol for toxic/highly toxic substances.
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
DISCLAIMER - This site is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes: this is for informational purposes only to be used for your fictional stories. The information is just a tiny bit about poisonous plants that is available. There is so much more that you can learn with a simple search. But this needs to be taken seriously, especially to protect your children and pets. These plants, while beautiful, are DEADLY, particularly to children and pets. Just licking some of these poisonous things can quickly CAUSE DEATH. Always check the toxicity of a plant before you add it to your
garden or home.

The following article was written by Teresa Watson.

Growing Death in Your Garden 

We all know the familiar nursery rhyme:

Mary, Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

      But do you know just how deadly little Mary’s garden really is? Cyanide was a particular favorite of Dame Agatha Christie. In her mystery And Then There Were None, the first death was from cyanide poisoning. And who can forget those lovely aunts from Arsenic and Old Lace, who used arsenic, cyanide and strychnine in the elderberry wine to kill their gentlemen callers? (I highly recommend you watch the movie with Cary Grant and Josephine Hull; it’s one of my favorite movies!) In the 1962 movie Dr. No, the cab driver, after a fight with James Bond, kills himself with cyanide in a cigarette rather than tell Bond who he worked for. But not all victims who use cyanide die. Such is the case with Raoul Silva from the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall. Silva’s suicide attempt by hydrogen cyanide failed, and it burned his body internally, forcing him to wear a prosthetic face to hide the disfiguring injuries.

It was suggested to me that I use poison to kill off a character in my next novella, and I was shocked to discover just how toxic the plants are in flower and vegetable gardens. Take a look for yourself; I guarantee you will be totally surprised. I’m going to mention just a few in this article. I’ll talk about which parts of the plant are toxic, how toxic they are and the symptoms. At the end, you’ll find general treatment for these types of poison. 

Water Hemlock/Spotted Parsley

English: Cowbane or Northern Water Hemlock (Ci...
English: Cowbane or Northern Water Hemlock (Cicuta virosa) a. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Let’s start with what the USDA rates as “the most violently toxic plant that grows in North America”:
Water Hemlock/Spotted Parsley (Latin name: cicuta maculata). It doesn’t look deadly, with its tiny white flowers and umbrella-like appearance. You’ll find it growing near the edges of your property in pastures
and meadows.

Toxic parts of the plant:
 The whole plant - especially the roots of early growth. 

How toxic
Deadly to take by mouth or to apply to the skin. Death occurs within a matter of minutes, depending on the dosage.

* The first symptoms include drooling, nausea, vomiting,
   wheezing, sweating, dizziness, stomach pain, lethargy, and
* More serious symptoms include trouble breathing, convulsions,
   heart problems, kidney failure, coma, and death.

Foxglove (Latin name: Digitalis purpurea)
English: Foxglove Foxglove in hedgerow
English: Foxglove Foxglove in hedgerow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sure you all recognize the word digitalis. Doctors use digitalis to strengthen the heart and regulate the heartbeat. The most commonly prescribed drugs are digitoxin and digoxin, and patients using these medications are carefully monitored by their doctors to make sure they suffer no ill effects. In your garden, they are tall, thin plants, with white, pink and purple bell-shaped flowers.

Toxic parts of the plant: the entire plant, especially the leaves of the upper stem.

How toxic: 
As mentioned above, it is used for medical purposes. But, if you need a quick, effective way to kill off a character, a high dose of foxglove will effective dispose of them.

Blurred vision, confusion, depression, disorientation or hallucinations, fainting, headache, irregular or slow heartbeat, lethargy, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, rash or hives, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea or diarrhea, weakness or drowsiness.

 (***Children have been known to die by sucking on part of the plant.)

Hydrangea (Latin name: hydrangea macrophylla)
Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangea, Hort...
Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangea, Hortensia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My mother grows these in her garden in the front yard, and I think they are beautiful. They grow so big, and the flowers in colors of pink, blue or white are simply gorgeous (hers are blue). So I was shocked to discover that they are poisonous!

Toxic parts: 
The entire plant, especially the flower buds.

How toxic: 
Think cyanide.

* Itchy skin, vomiting,
   weakness, sweating. 
* More serious symptoms
   include shortness of breath,
   dizziness, fainting, rapid pulse,
   a drop in blood pressure that
   can cause convulsions and death.

Mistletoe (Latin name: Phoradendron flavescens)
Mistletoe berries in Wye Valley
Mistletoe berries in Wye Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all know what mistletoe looks like: a cluster of green leaves with white berries. A popular holiday decoration, all couples in love want to get caught standing under it for the kiss. But beware, looks can be deceiving, and enough mistletoe could give you the kiss of death.

Toxic parts: 
All of it, especially the berries.

How toxic: 
It depends on the dosage. Drinking anything containing mistletoe, or munching on the leaves, berries or shoots will, at the very least, cause abdominal pain and diarrhea (I’ve never tried mistletoe tea, but apparently people do drink it.)

Stomach irritation, intestinal irritation, abdominal pain, diarrhea, reduced blood pressure, slowed pulse, nausea, vomiting, slowed heart rate, cardiovascular collapse, and seizures. 

(***This is VERY potent for pets, so keep this away from them!)

Lily of the Valley (Latin name: Convellaria majalis)
Convallaria majalis cv. Plena
Convallaria majalis cv. Plena (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How could something with a name that sounds like it should be in a song be so deadly? They are very sweet smelling, and look like tiny white bells.

Toxic parts: 
The entire plant, especially the leaves.

How toxic: 
Even the water you put the flowers in will contain
deadly traces of toxins. 
One bite will give you a
headache, hot flashes, hallucinations and irritability (sounds like menopause!). Enough of the toxins will slow your heart rate down, potentially leading to coma and even death.

Besides the ones mentioned above, symptoms could include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, confusion, fatigue, dizziness, and reduced blood pressure.

Nightshade (Latin name: Atropa belladonna)
Atropa belladonna or Atropa bella-donna, commo...
Atropa belladonna or Atropa bella-donna, commonly known as Belladonna, Devil's Berries, Death Cherries or Deadly Nightshade (Solanaceae), Flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 I've personally never seen
 a nightshade plant, but I
 have heard of belladonna. Mostly found overseas, it can now be found in North America, especially in areas rich with limestone. The berries are various colors of red, orange and green, and when they bloom, the flowers are purple with green pollen bulbs.

Toxic parts: 
The whole plant, especially the berries, roots and leaves.

How toxic: 
A single leaf can be fatal to an adult. You probably won’t even have time to call for help.

Unable to speak, respiratory problems, intense digestive distress, and violent convulsions. 


* CALL 911 or Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. 
* Try to find out how much poison the victim ingested and their
* DO NOT make the victim vomit unless instructed to by
   emergency personnel.

An antidote depends on the type of poisoning, and with all the medical advances that are happening every day, an antidote could have been discovered as I write this. General treatment is aggressive supportive care by paramedics in the field, and then by hospital personnel. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, treatment could include:

* Activated charcoal
Gastric lavage
* Blood and urine tests
* Breathing support
* Fluids
* Medication to treat specific symptoms.

Quick treatment improves your characters chances. But even then, the symptoms could last 2-3 days. The important thing is to get treatment for your victim as quickly as possible. But since this is for fictional writing, it might be better to let them die…

Fiona - 
That was very interesting, Teresa. You put your research to work for you in your new Novella, can you tell us about your story?

Teresa - 
It's time for the county fair, and things are heating up for the coveted "best pie" blue ribbon. But two competitors, Gladys Norwell, and Durlene Snodgrass, are disqualified the day before the fair. 

During the pie eating contest, Gladys' husband, Harold, falls face first into his blueberry pie, and Gladys is the prime suspect. Did our beloved Gossip Queen kill her husband, or is someone setting her up? It's up to Lizzie, her beloved dogs Babe and Mittens, and the rest of the gang to
sniff out the truth before the Queen
is dethroned...permanently.

Fiona - 
Very fun! You know here on ThrillWriting we always like to ask about the story behind your favorite scar. Would you share yours?

Teresa -
Known to my friends as Queen Klutz, my scars (and casts) are many, but the favorite scar story belongs to my son. 

When he was 18 months old, he wanted juice one night before bedtime. I told him no, and went upstairs to get his pajamas. Alas, my son has his mother’s stubborn streak. The one time I had to buy a glass jar of juice was the time he decided to pick it up. I heard a crash, and came racing down the stairs. There was a trail of blood from the kitchen, across the living room, ending at my recliner, where my son sat on the floor. A bloody handprint was on the seat of the recliner. I grabbed the phone and a beach towel, wrapping it around his right hand as I called my parents. After I hung up, I looked at his feet, and noticed a pool of blood under his left foot. Another beach towel went around his foot. 

Picking him up, I went outside, holding him in my arms while I waited for my parents to show up. When they did, my mother got out with tea towels and a box of Band-aids because she thought I was overreacting. When she saw me standing there with him in my arms, she immediately opened the back passenger door so I could get in. Three hours later, seven stitches in his hand, and five behind the toes of his foot, we were back home. The middle finger of his right hand is slightly bent because of scar tissue, and is a reminder of that night.

Before we end, could you tell us a little about you?

Teresa -  
Teresa Watson
I’m the daughter of a retired Methodist minister, so I moved a lot when I was a kid. Familiarity with small towns and the people in them have helped me with writing my stories. There are plenty of characters to draw from for inspiration! I’m a wife of a wonderful man, a mother to a hard-working, sweet, kind and caring 20-year-old son, a granddaughter to an awesome 95-year-old woman who is the basis for a character in my new series, a daughter to two wonderful people who have been so supportive, a sister to a few, and a friend to many.

Fiona - 
Thank you so much, Teresa.

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.