The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

Showing posts with label SilverHart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SilverHart. Show all posts

Monday, May 15, 2017

Space Archaeology? I dig it!

As many of you know, I'm on a Virginia Search and Rescue team and am training as a man tracker. One of the fabulous people that I've met during my time there is a Search Manager, named Mary Beth, whose job is to map. 

Maps are a problem, a BIG problem when we're on a search. Most of the US maps with contour lines (so we know where the cliffs are), called topographical maps, were developed in the mid-twentieth century. Things have changed a bit. Whole cities now take up spaces where my map tells me there is forestation.

Enter GPS information and satellites. We use a combination of the two to try to find our missing person. As you might imagine, my friend Mary Beth is stellar at this because she manipulates GIS information every day for her day-job. Geographic Information System, GIS, is "designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data." (1)

I was so interested in this topic that I was doing some reseach, and I learned that all kinds of jobs depend on this information - the military, government, farmers, NASA and archaeologists. Yes, archaeologists! 

Archaeologists can develop the coloration that is produced by the GIS system, and they can tell where a "tell" is located. A tell in this case being an area that has been built up by a civilization and then covered up by earth over time.
Uncommon Enemies

I used this information to start my research for my book RELIC, where two space archaeologists (archaeologists who use GIS to find dig sites) pit their expertise against ISIS who is unearthing and selling relics on the black market to fund terror. 

Another group who uses the satellite imaging information are animal migration scientists and those who are working to stop the extinction of many beloved species. Jane Goodall Institute, for example was able to show images of forestation several years ago and then newer images of the area to tribespeople so they could see the changes in the landscape. There was a massive deforestation area. The tribes were destroying the chimpanzees habitat. 

Armed with the information shown in the pictures, the tribes developed new policies and already they are seeing the brown and barren areas returning to green. This not only helps the animals in the area but also the people.
Uncommon Enemies

In DEADLOCK, available now for pre-order, animal migration specialist Dr. Meg Finley is using GIS imaging to help her help the tribes in Tanzania. Unfortunately, while Meg and her fellow scientists are trying to bring peace and prosperity, there are those who want to make sure things remain turbulent. 

In both of these novels, Iniquus special ops are on the scene and adding their areas of expertise to that of the scientists to try to stop those whose aim is death and destruction. 

If you're interested in finding out more about GIS follow this LINK

Happy Reading!
~ Fiona


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.