Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Sunday, November 27, 2016

How Safe Is Your Character? Information for Writers with Jacqueline Ward

Jacqueline Ward is a Chief Executive Officer at the Safety and Reliability Society, in England. This is a membership based organization that deals with major hazards. She is a Chartered Health Psychologist and has done research into women's health, domestic violence, missing people, Alzheimer's, central nervous system, and disaster management & human factors in engineering. How cool is that?

(This article was edited for American spelling)

Fiona - 
Does any your work background show up in your writing, or do you use your writing to escape from these subjects?

Jacqueline - 
I have used my knowledge of missing people and domestic violence extensively in my writing, and I'm currently writing a psychological thriller where the central character is a psychologist studying psychopathology! Not based on me though - honestly.

Fiona - 
Let's chat about trauma psychology. I bet you've had some experience with TV, movies, and books, where you're thinking - in no universe is that how it happens. Can you start with some of the common mistakes creative types make when they're putting their characters into a highly charged atmosphere? 

Jacqueline -
I have a lot of experience of what happens step by step in major disasters. Part of my work is to read and evaluate major incidents reports and to draw out lessons learned, so I understand them at a deep level. 

It just happens that major incidents with lots of danger and fatalities are the subject matter for books, TV and movies. 
  • One of the most common mistakes I pick up is alarms. It's either no alarms at all, or all the alarms go off and everyone runs in all directions. There is never a procedure that everyone follows. Quite often this mayhem is portrayed as the cause of the disaster and fatalities, when it definitely isn't. 
  • Also, when one person is bellowing orders to lots of people in a noisy environment, I am shouting at the screen. It is usually massively oversimplified, in film and TV. I guess to save money, but in books it's usually lack of research.

Fiona - 
In some people, they follow the rules - you mentioned the alarms - surely there have been times when a group has practiced evacuation  and even though someone is new (perhaps visiting) but enough people know the process that the new players can be herded along.

But what happens when the way the populace has been taught to respond is thwarted? The exit they were aiming for is ablaze. Can you break down what kinds of reactions might happen - are there in your field specific "types" that you plan to accommodate or even depend on emerging?

Jacqueline -
A lot of this is cultural. 
  • Firstly, alarms. When an alarm is put into place and it has a process around it (alarm sounds, employees/staff exit and guide the public out) it is rehearsed. The problem comes usually at the first stage when the initial alarm goes off to indicate something is wrong. 
  • Quite often and a real problem is alarm desensitization. The person in charge of the facility or venue may have rehearsed the alarm so often that the populace is used to it and begin to perceive every alarm as a rehearsal. This is a direct reversal of what should happen biologically in the flight or fight. 
  • Then there is the reaction to an alarm by the crowd. This differs significantly in different disasters. 

That's so true, and obvious when you say it. I might have understood how one of my characters would act/react - but I also need to be cognizant that they are acting within a group that will have its own personality traits. Can you give us a couple of cultural examples?

Jacqueline -
Let's take the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster, the incident was caused by alarm desensitization. Alarms were possibly overridden by the survival instinct. The individualistic culture of the UK might have played a role. This is an example of the exit that is ablaze. In this situation, the crew had fairly clear instructions about how to leave the rig but fire blocked their way. So their fight or flight instinct was invoked. Their lives were threatened and their senses heightened to find any way to survive. Sensory amplification in hazardous situations in common. In this case, they had no choice but to jump into the sea that was on fire.

Alternatively in Japan with the Fukushima nuclear incident, all procedures were followed to the letter and fatalities were extremely low (from the nuclear incident, not for the natural tsunami incident).

Major hazards are so rare that there is not enough data collected to assign types to people who have survived or perished. This is also why there are very few prediction models.

Fiona -
Let's talk about prediction models - what elements are involved?

Jacqueline -
Taking infrastructure hazards as an example, a big focus has been on the safety and reliability of the engineering of things like trains, planes and buildings. Many prediction models focus on the performance of the complex system and its parts - how the materials have performed in the past. This is combined with the past incidents and near misses with similar vehicles or buildings.

It is only fairly recently that human error has been taken into account when predicting disasters. 

The people who design and operate prediction models to prevent accidents and disasters are just as much heroes as the people who act when the hazard happens - without their foresight there would be many more disasters. 

I'd like to see more of them in books, films and TV, but they are not as sexy as someone who (often unrealistically) runs in and rescues someone from a burning building. Believe it or not there are whole teams of people who are responsible for keeping military vehicles safe and reliability so as to protect the lives of the people who operate them in war zones. 

Part of my rationale for working in this field is to keep nuclear power safe. I used to be against nuclear power, but as it is here to stay we need to be able to manage it in order to prevent a major accident with lots of fatalities.

Fiona - 
I can totally see a lone hero on a planning committee trying to bring a flaw to the attention of those who'd rather turn a blind eye.

Okay ThrillWriters, we have a new hero! Maybe it's our beta heroine, who knew the risks the whole time. The alphas are in high gear, and she's running into the fray with blueprints in hand. "Listen to me!"

So Jacqueline, let's make you in your position into a character. What common qualities do you see in someone who is working in your field?

Jacqueline -

  • Someone in my field would probably have a science background and a deep concern for the safety of people and for the environment, so they'd be compassionate
  • There is a certain amount of confidence needed as 'speaking up' is part of the job description, but also being able to operate on a national level, as the work involves understanding and reporting on the National Risk Register to government. So resilient also.
Fiona - What would you like to teach us about your world that I would never guess or know to ask about?

Jacqueline -
That major incidents are a lot less frequent than we think they are and that they can almost never be predicted. There is a book called Black Swan by Naseem Nicholas Teleb that anyone interested in risk and disasters should read.

Fiona - 
In the ThrillWriting tradition, it's now time to share your favorite scar story.
Jacqueline -
It's horrible. I've never been good with electric knives and one day when I was heavily pregnant with my third child I was chopping cabbage, and I cut my arm open with the electric knife I was using. As if that wasn't enough, I ran to the bathroom to wash it and even though there was no one in the house I locked the door behind me. I couldn't get out as the lock stuck. I was bleeding badly and then I felt labour pains. It took three hours for my partner to come home and find me, and the ambulance was accompanied by the fire brigade who had to break the bathroom door down. I was OK, my baby son was OK, but I have a big scar on my arm to remind me of that day. People sometimes ask me about it and ask if I tried to commit suicide, which is ironic as I was actually giving birth, but it gives m an opportunity to open a conversation about mental health and have been able to facilitate healing through it. So all's well that ends well!

Fiona - 
Thank you.

I'm sure you are all anxious to learn about 
Jacqueline's writing.
Why not check out her work RANDOM ACTS OF UNKINDNESS

DS Jan Pearce has a big problem. Her fifteen year old son, Aiden, is missing. Jan draws together the threads of missing person cases spanning fifty years and finds tragic connections and unsolved questions.

Bessy Swain, an elderly woman that Jan finds dead on her search for Aiden, and whose own son, Thomas, was also missing, may have the answers.

Jan uses Bessy's information and her own skills and instinct to track down the missing boys. But is it too late for Aiden?

Set in the North West of England, with the notorious Saddleworth Moor as a backdrop, Random Acts of Unkindness is a story about motherhood, love and loss and how families of missing people suffer the consequences of major crimes involving their loved ones

Her website,, is a great way for you to get in touch with her also her Twitter - @jacquiannward

Cheers! And thanks for visiting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bounced: An interview for Writers with Bouncer/Author Bill Carson.

Fiona -
Well, hello there - who are you and why are you here?

Bill -
Hi all, My name is Bill Carson writer and ex- bouncer among other things. I worked as a nightclub bouncer for about five years back in the nineties.

Fiona -
Good to have you here. You know, I came across your book, Modern Warrior Handbook, and I was a little dubious, so I only got the Kindle free sample. It was tasty though - so now I have the whole platter. You're very violent.

Bill - 
It's a good book, and I have to disagree with the last statement, Fiona. I'm just quite good at defending myself.

Fiona - 
I don't mind the correction - violence is often required to defend oneself. How did you get this good?

Bill - 
Amazon Link
I started to learn Karate as a teenager I was bullied a few times and decided to take up Karate and was lucky enough to have an excellent teacher. I have been training ever since.

Fiona - 
How old were you when that turned into a career as a bouncer?

Bill - 
Oh I was pretty old for this game probably about thirty I think

Fiona - 
So you had some wisdom behind your techniques. What is life like for a bouncer? Can you walk us through a typical night?

Bill - 
Well it's dangerous, as you might imagine.
I always wore a bulletproof vest. 
Two of my compatriots had been stabbed to death, so that 
type of thing was always in the forefront of my mind. I would park my car in different places vary my arrival times.

Fiona - My understanding is that a bulletproof vest does not protect against stab and slash wounds - did your vest also have stab plates? Was it cumbersome?

Amazon Link

Bill -
 I had a stab proof vest with the ballistic trauma plate in the front pouch. Yes, it was a little awkward, but it definitely was a great piece of kit. 

I would recommend that anyone in that line of work to obtain one.
Fiona - Anyone trying a rabbit punch would have had broken knuckles - just another bonus for the vest.

So you were making enemies - people who would want to get back at you? Why did you need to vary time and route to work? Were you concerned that the issues would follow you home?

Bill -
You will inevitably run into a few lunatics in this line of work. I lost count at the amount of death threats. I employed a whole range of techniques of avoidance.

Fiona -
I assume you never sported a fake mustache. Can you add a few to the list you started?

Bill -
I learned from the mistakes of others. Well, I never went in for disguises, but I didn't use my real name,

for example; you could get away with that in those days not so now though.

Amazon Link

Fiona - 
Yes, well now you're a famous author. Can I just pause here to say that your book is very accessible to writers who need to write a fight scene and they have never had to fight - or had any training. There are great graphics to make the move visual. You really go step-by-step. I would caution those who think that reading your book will give them superpowers - you can't read about a move then apply it under bad circumstances.

These are skill sets that are trained and practiced.

Bill - 
Thanks, I tried to show the reality behind a violent confrontation. There's so much rubbish out there on this subject.

Fiona - 
Sadly true. Okay so back to bouncing. You arrived safely with your vest in place. Now what?

Bill - 
When I arrived at the door, I would have a little briefing with my team to remind them to stay switched on. The thumping soundtrack would then start up the noisy punters (patrons) would begin to arrive. You spend half the night checking ID's and staying on the lookout for drugs and the dealers.

Then the tell tale signs of a fight - the breaking glass, the high pitched screams - that was our cue. We would go in.

I had a system. Basically if a fight broke out, we were alerted by an alarm or the lights would flash on and off at the front door to alert me. I would always sneak in around the back of the disturbance and take down the troublemaker from behind with a technique that we had developed back at our little gym. Then I'd show them to the nearest exit.

Amazon Link

Fiona - 
How often were these women?

Bill - 
Quite often I found some women to be most aggressive.

Once, I was called to a disturbance where two women were fighting. They weren't pulling hair and scratching one another; they were throwing punches like boxers. And one of them was heavily pregnant!

Fiona - 
How do you unravel the girls who have entwined themselves into each others' long hair? Do you just jerk them apart and let them rip each others' heads?

Bill - 
I tried to be as gentle as possible. When fisticuffs broke out between the ladies, it was difficult to know where to put my hands. But yes, we just yanked them apart basically.

Fiona - 
Bahaha! And did this ever cause "wardrobe malfunctions?"

Bill - 
I've seen some sights Fiona, scary. Yes, interestingly not so much with women,

but almost always when guys had been in an altercation their shirts would end up in shreds.

Fiona - 
Why does that surprise me? That seems more of a cat fight kind of move - nails and all.
What sort of place is this? What kinds of clientele?

Bill - 
I worked in a huge night club at Kings Cross in London. Rough was not the word to describe it.

I have worked in lots of different venues some were rough, some really rough, and some that were okay.

Fiona - 
And you mentioned drug users and pushers - what cued you in about them?

Bill - 
Well they are not very bright, or they just don't care. But if you are vigilant enough,

you can spot them dealing and also cannabis smokers usually reek of the stuff. 
Horrible sickly bitter sweet smell.

Fiona - 
Eventually, you decided to impart your wisdom and write a book. How did all that come about?

Bill - 
I always took a small diary with me and entered the nights shenanigans into it. One of my brethren saw it and suggested that it might make a good book. After I hung up my stab proof vest and gum shield, I wrote Show No Fear a bouncers diary.

Amazon Link
Fiona - This quote from Amazon gets to the core of it:

"Time for a bit of scum bag cleansing." In this eye-opener of a book, the author records the "more unusual and violent incidents" in his career as a bouncer. It may shock you to realise exactly the risks that bouncers take on the doors of night clubs and pubs, and even at private functions. If the bouncer is to "show no fear", he must build up strong mental and physical toughness through disciplined training. The author gets plenty of opportunities to try out the techniques he learns in the gym, whether it's a stranglehold or a right hook. If you have a run-in with some "weekend warriors", words are simply not enough to deal with it. But this is not a disheartening story of mindless aggression. Some incidents are really funny, and the author's colourful language and wry humour help soften the blows when they come. Read this book, and next time you'll spare a thought for the bouncer who takes the crap so you don't have to.

Fiona - I'm sure it's a fantastic resource for people who want to write bouncer characters correctly in their books. You have been awesome Bill, and I know you are hot and sweaty from your workout - I really appreciate your stopping what you were doing to chat with us. I will just keep you for this one last question. Can you please tell me about your favorite scar?

Bill - 
I have a few, not sure about having a favorite though. I do have one just above my right eye. A chap punched me in the face one day, not an unusual occurrence in that job but the problem was that the had two sharp door keys protruding between his fingers which left a nasty little scar. He had one two though afterwards.

Fiona - 
Oh you know that the ladies love it - it makes you very rakish. Bill, thank you so much for your time.

HERE'S A video of bouncers talking shop and how to avoid a bad night.

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. And they're FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Home Invasions: Information for Writers With Anti-Terrorist Expert Rock Higgins


English: A photo of S&W Mountain Gun M625-6 .45 LC
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fiona -
This week, I posted an article on FB/Twitter about a recent home invasion, and Rock Higgins and I thought it would be an excellent blog topic.

Although I have written on this subject in my book, Meditations of a Modern Warrior, LINK there is more that can be discussed on this issue and here, Fiona Quinn and I will shed some more light on the subject of home defense.

Fiona -  
Let me say that my remarks are geared towards writers who are trying to write their scenes right, and Rock is the professional who will keep real humans alive and well. To learn more about Rock and his book go to this  LINK 

Let's take a minute first to explain the difference between a burglary and a home invasion.

A Burglary -

* Happens when there is no one home.
English: A door lock broken during an attempte...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Usually happen during the day or when you
   are out of town. (So please don't put your
   fab plans for going to Paris out on social
   networks or make your plans generally
   known - you can share afterwards when
   you have the photos.)
* While some burglaries are done by
   opportunists, typically they are planned and
   the criminal knows quite a bit about you,
   your set up, your schedule, and your
* If you get home and find something off - do
   not go in and investigate it alone. Call the
   police. Maybe you think one of your kids
   just accidentally left the door open.
   Minimally, you can get a neighbor to hang
   outside with your kids and the phone ready
    to dial 911 while you go do a 

Home Invasion - 

* Happens while someone is home. 
* A criminal who is coming into your home
   at night will assume that there is going to be a confrontation.
* Confrontations are to be avoided when possible. So it is important
    to be a HARD TARGET.
* Reason they might choose a home invasion:
   `Their plan may be to get someone to open safes or give pin
   `They plan a rape
   `They plan to inflict harm/kill the people inside

Being a hard v soft target

English: The "YL88 Digital Lock Adjustabl...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Lock your solid-core doors with quality
   locking systems.
* Drill peep holes at your level and the
   children's level so they can see who is
   there, too.
* Lock your windows on all levels of the
   house not just the ground floor.
* Plant thorny bushes under your windows -
   and trim other bushes so that the criminal
   can not use them as a shield to hide behind.
* Motion detection lighting covering the 
   whole yard.
* Dogs 
* Consider a security system especially one
    that includes cameras. But if you can't afford a whole house
    system that is monitored, you can purchase the stickers and yard
    signs to put up. There are also portable alarms, designed for hotel
    stays, that are very inexpensive and can be used where alarms are
    not allowed (a dorm room, and apartment). 

    Remember noise and light make you a hard target. dark and
    quiet make you an easy target.  Link - this link takes you to a
    security store so that you can see the wide range of options. 
    (not an endorsement)
* A safe room set up. 
   `Simply a designated area to retreat to in an emergency. 
   `The children are taught to go there. 
   `The hinges are placed so the door swings out. 
   ` Some things that you might include: 
      A land line phone.
      Fire extinguisher
      Escape rope ladder

Our Home Invasion Stories:


      I was a young boy before my teenage years, my dad worked a shift system. My mom hated the night shift. At certain times when my dad was at work, someone would ring the front door bell or bang on the front door. As my mom went to answer the door, someone would climb over the rear wall and bang on the back door. When my mom went to the back, the front door bell would chime again and so on. This went on for quite some time. The local police were unable to catch whoever it was, and the neighbors never saw anything.

     My mom took to sleeping with a large carving knife under her pillow. My younger brother and I had no idea what was going on. Would I have liked to have been forewarned of events? Yes, definitely. Anyway, one night, my mom had had enough. When the front door bell rang (remember this is in the early hours so no one was coming round for a visit), she went to the front door and waited. When the back door was banged, she waited by the front door with the nib off so the door was open. On the next ring, she threw open the door; with  knife in hand she lunged. The guy had already taken a couple of steps back, and as he was confronted by a screaming woman wielding a blade, he legged it and would have been an Olympic sprint champion according to my mom.

     They never did come back after that and were never caught. When I learned of this story from my parents years later I asked my mom what she would have done that night, ‘I would have killed them’ she said and left it at that.

Are you trained in the weapons you have and are you mentally prepared to kill if it comes to that?

Fiona -

One day, I was home with my four small children when the bell rang. I went to the door and looked through the peep hole to find a man in a phone company uniform. I went to the window and saw that there was a company vehicle parked in front of my house. This was odd because we weren't having an issue with our phone. 
     So I called through the door, "May I help you?"
     "I'm here to fix the phone line..."
      My radar was up - something wasn't right. "We're fine. No issues with the phone. Thank you, anyway."
      He explained to me that it was my husband who had called, and he told me my husband's name. My instinct was that something was not right. I used my cell phone to call hubby to ask him what the issue was with the phone. My husband explained that he had switched our phone service, and we didn't even use that company anymore. My next call was to the police. I yelled through the door that the guy should get off my property, and he started kicking the door in, cursing at me, and ordering me to let him in. I had one of my children go press the panic button on our alarm. With the sirens wailing and whole house flashing red lights, I announced that the police were en route, and I had my gun aimed at the door, one more kick and I would shoot. He sprinted away, and the police congratulated me on not becoming a statistic.

So here I would caution you to  (or if you are writing this into a scene, then apply this to your character) premeditate a strategy. Know the applicable laws in the area you are staying and make decisions. Many of my friends will say, "I'd rather face 12 than be carried by six." My plan: I walk away, and my family is safe.

So Rock, what sparked this whole blog article for us was the story of the home invasion where the mother protected her family by firing at (and missing) the three teens who kicked in her door. Can you talk a little bit about guns and home safety?

English: Picture of a standard 'K Bullet' as m...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Firearms and Home Defense

Fiona has done a great piece on choosing a firearm for a heroine in a novel, and you can see it here: Choosing a handgun link

There is an inordinate amount of literature on firearms for home defense: rifle, shotgun, pistol. With the amount of choices, how do you really decide what is right for you? Well let me say this from the start, stick with a pistol, or a short barreled pump action shotgun at the most. Why? Well the tactics and the training to use a ‘Long’ effectively is 
far more complicated than using a ‘Short’. 

In this post I am going to ask more questions than give advice. This is because I do not know your circumstances. It’s your life, your home, your family. I can help point you in the right direction with questions you can answer.

Before you purchase your firearm get down the range and have a go with a few different types. Your hand size, strength and where you live (I will explain this a little later) all have an effect on the weapon of your choice. Also, take into consideration weak hand drills, that’s your none dominant hand, the weapon should feel comfortable for use in both hands with mechanisms that suit both dominant and none dominant hand firing.

But as you will see you may need to purchase two weapons, one for home defense and one for personal defense while out of the home.

Once you have chosen your weapon and are comfortable firing it on the range, the next step is to plan how you are going to defend your home.

Where you live will have some way to go in your weapon of choice and the rounds you use. Do you live in a block of flats, a house on a street, a semi or detached house? 

What are the walls like in your house, solid brick, plaster board, wooden or other? I ask this because if you live in a block of flats with thin walls, you don’t want a round hitting your next door neighbor while they are reading Virginia is for Mysteries, do you?  LINK

So two firearms: home defense may need .22 or a subsonic frangible round where as a CCW (concealed carry weapon) would employ a standard round for your weapon of choice. Bullet turorial

I have planned homes and night clubs for violent encounters. Why? Most home invasions happen at night and night clubs are dimly lit.

What is the first thing most people do on hearing a noise either outside, downstairs or in another room? You guessed it. They put the light on. This has now put the home owner on an equal footing with the intruder. You must get used to fighting in the dark. In the house it may be pitch black, or there may be ambient light coming in from outside. Either way, this is where the combat must take place, here you have the advantage.

When planning on low light combat, here you will also have to think about any attachments for your weapon:
* Torch (flashlight)? Not a good idea in my book. Remember you want the advantage, giving away your
   position is not having an advantage. 
* Laser dot light? Good if trigger activated, and you are already on target.

Your home must be planned with combat in mind.

* Can you move around your house in the dark without tripping
   over furniture, kids toys, cats or dogs? You should be able to. 

Fiona - Gosh Rock, and here I've been using the kid debris to make us a hard target. There's no way you could steal quietly through the room - and the thousands of lego pieces and marbles are special bonuses.

Rock - Yes,  toys make great noise traps when placed at points of entry. 
* Can your partner or kids move around in the dark to a safe room or escape from the home? 
* Do you have a plan for where you should meet up to count heads 
   in any emergency be it a home invasion or fire? Not next door for
   obvious reasons. 
* What about those who either don’t like guns or live, as I do, 
   where firearms are illegal? Well you are going to have to train in
   other weapons, knives, sticks, batons... Weapons can be placed 
   around the home either as ornaments or as purposefully located 

Fiona - 
Ha! Don't break in at Rock's house. It will go badly for you. Here's hoping you all stay safe and sound. 

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.

DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right, presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way are we advocating any position or personal decision.
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Heroine Should Always Carry a Condom - How to Save Your Character's Life


English: Unwrapped condom
English: Unwrapped condom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the things that I enjoy about developing a character is figuring out what she might carry in her EDC (Every Day Carry). What tools could she pull out of her purse to save her life?

One of the smallest and most practical pieces of EDC your character could carry is a non-lubricated condom. Many survivalists pack the condoms into their pocket-sized EDC tins that they have on them at all times. (More about this in an upcoming blog). But why? Do these burly SEALS think they're going to find a heroine in the middle of the jungle who needs stress relief? Not so much. Here are some of the ways your girl can make her day a little smoother with a condom in hand.

English: An example of an EDC or 'Everyday Carry'
 An example of an EDC or 'Everyday Carry' (Photo credit: Wikiped

English: Used condom
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Perhaps she is a drug mule  Sad but true, she could
    pour her powdered drug into the condom, knot it off,
    and swallow it. This would also work for a
    micro-chip, camera memory card or other tiny object
    with which she needed to escape. Dire straights call
    for dire choices.

2. Retaining DNA samples.

   * Cut the end off and slip over a cast or bandaged
      area so that one could bathe or shower.
      Video Quick Study - wound protection
   *Make shift/last resort rubber glove when
     staunching blood.
   * Make shift tourniquet - while this may sound like a
      stretch (no pun intended), imagine how helpful this
      tool would have been at the Boston Marathon
   * When no tape is available, cut off the end and use it
Front of package for LifeStyles condom
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
      to slide over a leg or arm to hold a cloth in place.
      Even  without a cloth it will help keep debris and
      bugs out of the wound and apply pressure to the
      area. Helpful for burns, as well.
      (See above video quick study.)
    * If someone had a tooth knocked out, put the tooth
       with some milk (or water if no milk is available) into
       the condom and tie it closed. Go immediately to an
       emergency dentist.
   * If a character has a sucking chest wound from an
      accident or gun shot etc., your heroine would see air
      bubbles and blood. Place the condom (in its
      package) over the wound and tape three sides of it
      in place. It is important to leave the bottom untaped.

4. Speaking of gunshots, a condom will protect a gun from water, sand, and other debris.

Sex is Dangerous 2
(Photo credit: timtak)

5. Dry Is Good!
   * If your heroine is an actress/singer/PI/Operative, she might know the little trick of putting her microphone
      in a condom and taping it to her skin. This prevents sweat/rain/moisture from messing up the feed.
   * If she breaks down on the side of the road and decides to hike to an area where she has cell reception in
      a rain storm, she might just stick her phone, GPS, matches, and other supplies into the condom she
      keeps in her wallet for just such emergencies. It is surprising how much volume a condom can hold!
      (Think one gallon of water)
   *  If your heroine is a bad-ass, she might use the condoms to keep her detonation fuses dry.

6. Survival  -Okay - now you've put your heroine into a zombie apocalypse survival situation. She may
     be the hottest babe left alive, but she's smart enough to put her condoms to use in keeping her that way.
     There are four basics to survival: shelter, food, water, fire. A condom can help with all of these.
     * Shelter - A condom can be used as cordage to tie limbs together for a debris hut.
English: Used condom Slovenčina: Použitý kondom
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     * Water -  You can carry about 2 liters of water
       safely. While condoms are very stretchy they
       are also easy to break. To prevent a loss, make
       sure that you insert the condom into a sock before
       the condom is filled. The sock will help provide the
       needed structure as well as help prevent something
       from piercing the condom. If your heroine is trained,
       she might just have a water purification tablet or two
       with her EDC.
       VIDEO QUICK STUDY (1:07)
     * Fire
       1. Make a fire using a water filled condom like a
           magnifying glass.
           VIDEO QUICK STUDY (0:48)
       2. Store dry kindling - it may be dry now, but your intrepid heroine knows nothing goes well for her.
           Was that a roll of thunder she hears? Or, if she is without dry kindling, the condom itself will serve the
Camp Fire at Yelagiri
 (Photo credit: Sylvianism1)
           VIDEO QUICK STUDY (0:34)
       3. "But wait!" you say. "It's overcast. My heroine doesn't
             smoke and doesn't have her EDC. Her boyfriend is
             passed  out. The only thing in his pockets is a bunch of
             condoms. How could she start a fire?"
             Your heroine can still cook her caught bird and make a
             roaring signal fire if she uses the condoms to make the fire
             drill that she saw someone use on one of those survivor
             shows. Sure it's hard to do - but what else does she have
             to do with her time?
             VIDEO QUICK STUDY (3:08)
       1. Condom Slingshot - Yup. She played with slingshots as a kid, and was pretty good! Why not have
           squirrel  for dinner?
            VIDEO QUICK STUDY (1:11)
       2. Blow up the condom a little and tie a knot. Now you have a fishing bob.

* Other ways to save herself and the guy she loves?
   1 Well, "fishermen in certain parts of the Amazon have found a way to protect their privates from one of
      the scariest fishes of all - the candiru. Nope, candirus don’t bite and eat you up like piranhas, but they
      can be scary in the sense that they can enter through your genitals and make their homes in your body.
      Candirus entering the penis can be very painful, as you feel them wriggling inside of you. By putting on a
      condom every time you go fishing or wading in the waters, you are saving yourself and your penis from a 
      lot of hurt and pain."  LINK
   2. If she falls in the water she can blow up a dozen condoms and use them as a flotation device. (Yeah - I
       know. Why would she have a dozen condoms on her? Maybe she stole them from the Amazon
   3. If push comes to shove, a condom can be used as a garrote to choke the assailant.
   4. And of course - to protect your heroine from STDs and unwanted pregnancies

Photograph of unrolled Durex condom
Photograph of unrolled Durex condom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fun Facts:
* The Danish word for condom is Svangerskabsforebyggendemiddel.
* In 1844 Charles Goodyear got a patent on crepe rubber condoms. Yes a VERY good year! LINK

Prezerwatywa, z angielskiej wiki
Prezerwatywa, z angielskiej wiki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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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Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Man Had His Penis in His Hand - How NOT to leave dance class.


parking lot with unknown crime scene
 (Photo credit: useless no more)
I know I usually post on Mondays, but something happened last night, and I thought that I needed to share this with you all, in the hopes that beyond using the information to write a good scene, maybe it will help someone stay safe.

I'm just going to tell you the story, then I'll break it down and give you some insights.

Last night fairly late, tired and ready for the day to be over, I left the dance studio with my daughter, and her medical alert dog, T. My arms were full. I had T. on his lead, his "place" which is a large quilted pad, my backpack with my computer in it, and my car keys. I moved into the parking lot with my teen yammering about her costume fitting, walking behind me. We walked toward my mini-van that was parked nose in on the side of the lot next to the woods.

As we moved forward, away from the studio and the lights, my focus was on a man that I saw easing quietly to the side of my van. I stopped short. I hadn't seen him move into the woods. There was a large black truck in the driving space just to my left. I gave myself a second to assess. Did the truck belong with that man? The truck's door popped open, and I took a step back to gain distance. I immediately recognized the man emerging as one of the other dancers' fathers.
      "Where'd he go?" he asked.
      "To the right. The light hasn't come on, so he's not in my vehicle."
We moved cautiously together to see. And there was the stranger in all of his glory, leaning against my door, 6'4", out of his freaking mind on some drug, penis in hand.
      At that point I wanted out of there. I hand unlocked the door, shoved everything in, including my kid and her dog. I hit the lock button and peeled out of there with Crazy-man holding on to my door handle and explaining to me about his penis in a very loud voice. I had a window-breaker, a very nasty tool that would easily crack a skull, in my hand by this point and thought,  "Wow, I'm doing everything wrong."
      I drove home and had a rum and coke.

This did not go well. And as a trainer, I would say I did not perform well. I want to break this down so if this is you, you can do better than I did. And if this is your character? Well, good luck to her.

Parking Lot at Night
Parking Lot at Night (Photo credit: VinceFL)

1. I ALWAYS park pointing
   outward, (first mistake was to
   break my rule) because in an
   you don't want to be backing up
   (ask my friend Cathy who blared
   her horn, so I didn't smash into her
   new car in my haste).
2. Park under a light/camera and
    away from landscaping that can
    obscure your view.
3. No matter how tired and
    distracted you are, you must
    remain vigilant. I make a habit of
    scanning every time I'm out in
    public. For decades I have been
   scanning, but this night, it made the
   difference. My daughter didn't
   walk, alone, around to the passenger side to find the crazy man with his dick in his hands when mom was
   out of reach.
4. Develop a strong arm. Your non-dominant arm should have your carried items, your keys should be easily
   accessible, and your weapon should be in your dominant hand. I have several blog articles about weapons
   that are easy to carry, as well as their pros and cons.
   * Kuboton
   * Asp batton
   * Stun Guns and Tasers
   * Pepper Spray and Mace
   * Conceal carrying a gun
5. Move with focus to your car. Everyone in, doors locked immediately, and pull out. This is not the time to
   text and read mail etc.

What does it mean to move with focus?

Parking Lot at Night
Parking Lot at Night (Photo credit: David H. Chu)
1. Scan the area to get a good feel for who is there and
    who is moving in a way that your paths will cross.
2. Be aware of the cars that are parked beside you.
    If someone is sitting in the passenger seat next to
    your driver's door, you may want to get in from
    your passenger side or go get someone to escort
3. Be aware if the cars beside you, or your car
    allows enough space for someone to easily lie
    underneath. Glance under the vehicles as you
3. Briefly check the floor boards front and back for
    unexpected visitors. and get in quickly.

God forbid something go wrong for you, but if someone tries to abduct you in the parking lot here is a LINK with some strategies.

As you drive home, be aware if anyone is following you. This happened to me once, so I drove an extra block and visited the fire station.

Now as you go through a list of possible weapons, everything from concealed guns to knives, from electronic weapons to mace, you may feel uncomfortable with any or all of them. Babies in arms, curious children, and pets, as well as a willingness to use a weapon and having the training to do so effectively come into play.

At night, I am now carrying (except for last night - when it would have been the perfect weapon) a high powered handheld (4") flashlight with enough lumens to blind a person if it is dark outside.
* A lumen is simply the measurement of a light's brightness.
* A high-powered tactical flashlight is easy to find on the web. I happen to use Autocraft.
* In a dark environment, the light is intense enough to blind someone. They cannot see past the light to know
   what you are doing. It is disorienting and gives you an authoritative posture.

Your number one weapon is your awareness and focus.

Your number two weapon is your posture and your voice quality 

Though maybe yelling at the guy, "Hey! Get off my car!" was not the very best tactic. The best tactic at that point was to back away and go to the studio to call the police. But hey, hind-sight...

And it's always good to have a physical weapon at the ready, something you are comfortable with deploying be it a high pitched siren or bear spray.

Sunset Police Car
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The dance school owners did call the police. When the cops arrived, they found the guy with his pants around his ankles, his shirt pulled up, lying in my parking spot, rubbing his belly next to a pile of poop. The crazy guy spent the rest of the night in jail.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to help.

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.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Self-protection in Fiction - Pepper Spray - Information for Writers

Pepper spray Demonstration; U.S. Marine Corps ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DISCLAIMER - 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.

I was alone on a moonless night, driving down the highway and rubbing sleep from my eyes. Horrifically, my pepper canister, dangling from my key-chain, had leaked. I had wiped blinding fire across my eyes and spun off the road...

Because of this incident, pepper spray and mace are not part of my EDC. But for a writer, these products in a plot line can be awesome, indeed.

Pepper spray and Mace come in canisters of varying sizes. What is Mace? Mace is a name brand for defensive sprays. The Mace canister can contain pepper spray, tear gas or both. Mace and pepper spray affect mucus membranes causing inflammation and burning sensations. The affect lasts 20-30 minutes unless washed away. Milk is effective at removing the sting of the pepper spray. Water and mild soap are also helpful.

Bush Inauguration11
Bush Inauguration11 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writers who use this self-defense weapon in their writing can either use it to help or thwart a character's plight.

USE  - Aim for the eyes and spray left to right. If you missed, spray back from right to left.


RSG-3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* It is legal in most areas (though, as always, check
  your story location's laws for accuracy).
* It is inexpensive, easy to obtain, needs little in the
  way of training.
* It is effective at 8 feet - 20 feet depending on your
  brand/container size, so there is physical distance.
* It can be used against more than one attacker at a
   time. Also, it is effective against animals, including
  werewolves. (Though double blind experiments
  shows these products to be ineffectual against
* Portable and easily carried on a daily basis.

CONS (Poor character, never gets a break!)

* The stream is visible and can be averted.
* Wind is not your friend. It can make the shot
   ineffectual. It can also blow the stream back on you. It
   can blow the stream towards your friends/helpers/pets.
* You can quickly run out of product - esp. when using
   key-chain sized canisters
* The attacker might be high, drunk, or impervious.
* It must hit mucus to be effective - eyes, nose, mouth,
   lungs. A hat, hoody, or other clothing often prevent
   this with a mere duck of the head.
* Aim is key - and this is often difficult in a high-
  adrenaline situation. Especially if the character is
* Most people buy the canisters and never test them out
  or practice (which is why I recommend buying 2).
* Some canisters have a protective clip - and this can
   get stuck or be difficult to manipulate when in danger.
* The spray needs to be in hand - bottom of the purse is
   not helpful.
US Navy 050511-N-3394D-007 Master-at-Arms 2nd ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Kids and pepper spray are a BAD combo.
* Not legal in some places - like courthouses.


Video 1 (3:05) Basics -
Video 2 (3:10 start at 1:30 mark) Watch pharmacist use bear spray against robber.
Video 3 (1:50) Police pepper spraying a crowd.
Video 4 (2:36) Shows various sizes and uses. Also, gives considerations for choosing the proper weapon
or your character.
Video 5 (3:12) Getting sprayed.

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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