Monday, December 17, 2007

The One Week Countdown to Christmas....


I must confess: I really, really, envy my writer friends who're still going strong and have not just one, but many stories in the works...in spite of the Christmas rush. So there, you know my terrible secret. I'm envious!

Maybe it's because I've been feeling so lousy for two weeks, hobbling around like an old lady, and taking enough Robaxecet to choke a horse. Maybe it's because our lives have been turned upside down this fall by the military yet again!

I just can't think of one, single, original plot line. I can come up with characters...they fall on to the page at will. But can I put them together into some kind of twisted, original, never-before-thought-of, plot line? Nope.

I have some writing talismen over my computer though - a card of a medieval maiden my MIL sent me, beside my medieval print of a damsel giving her knight a ribbon to wear before he goes off to joust. And a picture of one of my best friends and I. Her dedication to her writing inspires me.

But as we count down to Christmas Eve next Monday, I'm enormously happy that my daughter is still thrilled to make a gingerbread house with me. I love wrapping presents, and have time to actually bake cookies this year - something I've missed the last few years. I think I'll even try to bake my old-fashioned tortieres for Christmas Eve.

At church these past four weeks we've been studying "practising Christmas" throughout the year. I guess I could start by not being envious of my writer friends! Lol! And thinking of the little things that keep my family foursome happy, and taken care of, because that's my job. Christmas isn't just one day to open presents. It's a religious celebration that alot of Christians don't stand up for these days. It's a state of mind. It's the way you live with your fellow humans - kindly, friendly, helpful when others are in need.

So, to all my good writer friends who're deep in the midst of your books - I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and all the best of the publishing world in 2008. And maybe, just maybe, I'll get an idea over the holidays that'll get my blood racing at the computer again. If not, I'll have a gingerbread house to eat. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Time to Deck the Halls



I realize I've been MIA for three weeks. Sorry about that - I had a fender-bender which gave me whiplash and the inability to sit at the computer for any length of time. The painkillers also didn't help. I'm on the mend though, and ready to get back to regular posts.

A friend sent me this Christmas meme, so I thought I'd share it. I've put my own answers in after the questions - please feel free to put your answers in the Comments section. :) If you feel you're ready to change a family tradition maybe someone elses' answers will give you some ideas. Or, this may help you to appreciate your own traditions even more.


1. Wrapping paper of Gift Bags?

Definitely wrapping paper - it takes longer to get to the gift and therefore makes it more satisfying! Plus, there's nothing like the sight of a Christmas tree with lots of wrapped boxes piled under it.

2. Real Tree or artificial?

We've had an artificial one since the kids were toddlers. We succumbed to the fear of fire. In the interest of "being green" for the environment, however, I got it second-hand and it's about 15 years old and still going strong.

3. When do you put up the tree?

December 1st if I can manage it. This year it was December 7th due to my accident.

4. Do you use collectible ornaments, theme ornaments, a collage of memorabilia, or traditional glass ornaments?

We have memorabilia from various places we've visited, ornaments the kids made in grade school, and collectible Disney ornaments that mean a lot to my children (and me - a perennial Disney lover!) Someday maybe I'll have a smaller "theme" tree, if I ever have a house big enough for a front hall. :)

5. When do you take the tree down?

January 3rd or 4th. I always feel it's such a shame to put it all away, when we use Christmas decorations for such a short time.

6. Do you like eggnog?

Bring on the RUM and eggnog! Of course, if you're counting calories this is a pass, and the lower-fat variety tastes like yuck.

7. What was your favourite gift received as a child?

I got a "real" Raggedy Anne Doll (shows you how old I am!) with a "real" heart on her chest and lovely pioneer clothing. I'd asked Santa for it, and it was the first Santa gift where I remember actually getting what I asked for - usually Santa brought "surprises" at our house.

8. Do you have a Nativity Scene?

I have a Precious Moments one, given to me by my in-laws the first Christmas we were married, and an Ecuadorean one made of hand-crafted baked and glazed figures. Also given to me by my in-laws after a trip down there.

9. Hardiest person to buy for?

Parents and In-laws - they already have everything they need, so you have to get into theater tickets, trips, spa days, etc. :)

10. Easiest person to buy for?

My kids. They start making their lists in November and seldom change anything.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

A see-through mint green robe (NOT my colour!) minus the nightie that went with the set...and it still had the sale price tag attached to it!

12. Mail or email cards?

We always make up personalized photo cards to mail. We also make calendars for the parents of pictures taken during that year. So far, they've been a big hit.

13. Favourite Christmas Movie?

Got to love the old-fashioned "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" :)

14. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

In November, once I know my kids aren't likely to add anything else to their lists. Earlier, when I find gifts that might suit parents or siblings.

15. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? :)

I can proudly say "never", although I know I've been *given* recycled gifts. I have a friend who loves to tell you that she got this gift from so-and-so, and now would like you/me to have it. Also, a relative once dug out an evening bag that I'd seen her with, and gave it to me for Christmas. (always remember how often you've used the "gift" previously!)

16. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas?

Apart from the traditional turkey dinner, my passion is SHORTBREAD, either home-made or store bought, I don't care! Just give me that buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie and I'll make a glutton of myself. :)

17. Clear lights or coloured on the tree?

This year, I bought new lights that rotate between red, blue, and green - fade away and then start over. We love them.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?

Definitely stay home, although we usually have Christmas dinner with relatives.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? :)

Ummm...Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Blitzen, Comet, Cupid...he has more, doesn't he?

20. Angel or star on top of the tree?

I used to have my parents original star with Santa on it - it got broken one year and I replaced it with an angel. Some year I'll replace her with a fancier angel.

21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning?

All the presents go under the tree Christmas Eve while we fill stockings. Then we open presents Christmas morning, coffee with liqueur in hand, and take endless pictures of the kids opening every present. I used to wear my PJ's, but now I think I should start getting dressed for those "candid" shots, lol!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

Working in a retail store with miserable, angry, pushy customers who treat you like some mindless idiot because your store a) doesn't have, or b) never had, some bizarre item they HAVE to have RIGHT NOW! Eg. burning logs that have coloured flames, right now, for a party TONIGHT!!!

23. What I love most about Christmas?

Buying and wrapping presents, decorating the house, the anticipation on the day of Christmas Eve, making chocolate-chip cookies on Christmas Eve with my daughter - to leave for Santa on her "Santa plate".

24. The best Christmas you've ever had?

The Christmas my husband gave me my "Millenium" ring - a ruby and diamond ring that was a *total* surprise. He's never been so extravagant. (sadly, the ruby fell out of it and was lost - I hope to replace it one day)

How about you?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Death of an Innocent Man - Canada's Shame



This picture shows Robert Dziekanski in Poland where he worked as a construction worker. I realize he died over a week ago, but I wanted to wait till the furor had eased off so that my blog on this tragedy wasn't overridden by the thousands of other bloggers who've already commented on his death.

Regular readers know that I'm pro-police (having been one) and pro-military. I told myself I wouldn't watch that terrible video showing his death - "the original Canadian snuff film", as someone called it. Being human, I finally watched it on the Globe and Mail main page and was sickened by it.

Back in the dinosaur age when I was a police officer, we were taught certain strategies in a) self-defense, b) defusing situations with mentally/emotionally/distraught people, and c) using *real* police techniques like "talking a person down" and entering into a situation in a way that safeguarded us and the person in question.

RE: a) self-defense. If someone came at you with fists, or hit you in any way, you pulled your baton. I became quite good with my baton, as I only weighed a measly 120 lbs. at the time and let's face it - when you're a cute but skinny woman in uniform, it's every rednecks dream to take you on in front of his drunken buddies. But, I digress. If someone came at you with a tire iron, plank, or other large weapon, you pulled your revolver. (yes, back then we carried .357 Magnums) IF you pulled your revolver, you had to be prepared to use it. And no, we weren't taught to shoot someone's knee out or hit their shoulder, we were taught to aim at center mass and shoot to kill. Most people don't realize that alot of people who're shot will still come at you - it can take several shots, even emptying your weapon, to put down a suspect who's drunk or high. Their adrenaline's flowing and they don't feel pain.

RE: b)defusing situations with mentally/emotionally/distraught people. Unless there was immediate danger to someone's life, or the person was about to jump off a bridge, you took your TIME. You ASSESSED the situation, and you sure as heck TALKED to the person(s). You gave them SPACE so they didn't feel cornered; you called them by name (if they gave it to you, or someone supplied it) so you could connect with them. Your *best* weapon was your mouth and how you used it: no macho talk, no threats, and you told them whatever was necessary to calm them down. Sometimes you might tell a white lie, but if it defused the situation, who cared?

These skills required THINKING on the part of the officer. Also, being able to think quickly on your feet - both in connecting with the person and engaging them in eye contact and emotion. My best weapon was my mouth - I was a good talker, had been great in theatre arts and various stage plays, so I could *act* and put myself into whatever role was necessary. It was something that boggled the guys I worked with, and sometimes ticked them off too, as I was very good at defusions.

RE: c)I think I've already covered the main points in "talking a person down". The main thing is: you WAITED. No pressure - get the wife there - we took off our hats so we weren't an authority threat, we took the bullets out of our guns before getting out of the car so if the person managed to get our gun off us, no one would get shot. Does this seem foolhardy? No, it was common practice back then, and even if we were scared, we STILL dealt with the person humanely. If they eventually (or suddenly) needed to be jumped on and subdued, that's where four guys and a baton came into play. And usually me, being the smallest of the pack, on top of the persons' back putting handcuffs on him/her. (seriously though, I never lost a fight -even one on one - and I *always* got the arrest. I got injured plenty of times - broke my wrist twice for eg. - but I always used a) and b) and got the job done.)

Now, contrast the good ole days with the RCMP debacle committed at the Vancouver BC airport in regards to Robert Dziekanski.

If you saw the video, you saw several people try to calm him down. God bless the woman who came up to him, gesturing with her hand, and putting her hand out to him. She deserves a medal for her compassion.

The security guards were useless and obviously had no training to do any of the above. THEN, we have four RCMP cowboys on the scene, and we hear a male ask them as they go by, "are you going to taser him?"

We can't hear the answer, but hello, in they go, force Dziekanski up against the counter with his back to the glass and immediately zap him with 50,000 volts of electricity. Then, because he's screaming and rolling around on the ground, the guy zaps him again for good measure. THEN, the four of them jump on top of him, hit him with a baton (once or twice) and when he finally stops moving and screaming, get up and decide - hey, maybe we should check his pulse!

Dziekanski was a) obviously agitated and emotional so he falls under the category of a mentally/emotionally/distraught person. Did they do b) above? or c)? No, too trigger-happy with the latest technical toy, they figured zapping a grown man at point-blank range would solve the situation when all the guy had done was put a few chairs in front of the door, and throw a computer (not even a harddrive) on the ground. He was sweating, speaking a foreign language, and trembling. Did even ONE of the four officers (they looked quite young, so I'm guessing they might've been inexperienced) do a), b), or c)? Obviously, they weren't looking at him for clues as to his emotional state, they didn't listen to what the people looking on were telling them ("he speaks Russian" and "can somebody get an interpreter down here?") - they didn't give him space or time.

They just Tasered him. In my day, they would never have lasted on the street. Someone would've chucked one of them under the nose and then sucker-punched him. And he would've deserved it. Why? Because he didn't have the skills necessary to survive on the street - no common sense, no ability to connect with people, no ability to *listen* and *learn* about what was happening before he decided to take action. Sometimes you only had a split-second - but more often, you had plenty of time - 2-3minutes would get you all the info you needed to deal with a situation.

If you saw TV reports, or read reports about journalists who "volunteered" to get Tasered in order to "prove" how safe they are, remember this - NONE of them were Tasered without being held UP by two officers. They didn't feel the full effect of 50,000 volts hurling them backward to the ground, and once hitting the ground, it would have the same effect as a lightening bolt hitting a metal pole. It would be nothing like what Robert Dziekanski experienced in his last four minutes of life.

He wasn't screaming because he was afraid, or at the cops to scare them. He was screaming because of the pain. Anyone feel like volunteering to get zapped with 50,000 volts of electricity, just for the heck of it? I didn't think so.

Too bad no one took those four losers back to the detachment garage and Tasered them.
I'm not always pro-police. When a travesty occurs such as this, and innocent people are killed/hurt, the police should be held to a higher standard then the general public. If they were under my command, these four would be suspended without pay, and about to face a police tribunal. At least Stockwell Day, our Public Security Minister, called for a complete inquiry. How could he not? The rest of Canada and the world saw every mistake those four cowboys made, and we're ashamed of them.

May Robert Dziekanski rest in peace.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Keeping Your Brain Fit - Keeping Your Creativity Alive



I've been bugging my dh for a Nintendo DS Lite for Christmas - I mean really bugging him! There are lots of games for adults on this system - which is a compact-put-it-in-your-purse harddrive for video games, and comes in white, black, red, and pink. You use a stylus to maneouver through the games. (I'm probably not telling you anything new if you have kids - this is one of the best-sellers out this Christmas)

There're three "Train Your Brain" type games for the DS Lite: Brain Age I, Brain Age II, and Brain Academy. These games are based on the research of a Japanese neuroscientist, Professor Ryuta Kawashima, who's work in neuroscience has proven that the more we exercise our brains via puzzles for memory, concentration, spatial awareness, and math, the "lower" our "brain's age" will be and the higher our mental acuity.

So, this is what I wanted for Christmas and have been ceaselessly mentioning the pink version to my dh, , as a way to help get back some of my creativity and concentration.

Always the enterprising fellow, my dh found an online version of the DS Lite game, which you can download for $20.55 Canadian to your PC, as opposed to paying $139.99 for the DS Lite, plus $17.98 per game. (The other games are higher prices and vary considerably, but I'm only dealing with the Brain Age games here).

I've been doing the 14 day free trial of the PC version, and I must say it's fun, clever, and does challenge you considerably as you move into the higher levels. You get 30 free sessions of five different games to work on math, language, perception, attention, and cognitive reasoning. You can play these games as many times as you want to in the 30 days. Frankly, it's a real bargain. (so much for my dh's research abilities!)

The link is:
Brain Train Age, which is a slightly different title to get away from copyright issues with Nintendo. However, Professor Kawashima designed both versions.

I highly recommend trying the 14 day trial as a "wake-up" to your daily writing regime. It's already helped me tremendously and I'm only on Day Three. It's fun, addictive, and challenging. And let's face it, the price is right. If you have a laptop, you can take it with you the same as carrying that cute pink/red/white/black compact computer in your purse. But if you want to splurge and get yourself one of those Nintendo DS Lites, you may have to share it with your kids, as they'll find out quickly enough how many fantastic games you can play on it, besides Brain Age!

P.S. If you lose your stylus, you can buy them three for $5.88 at WalMart, plus the DS Lite comes with two already. So, don't let anyone talk you out of it if you want to splurge on something fun and different for yourself this Christmas. We can all use a mental work-out that's more fun than banging our heads against the wall over plot points and descriptive narrative.

Have fun!

P.P.S. I have no idea why half of this post is under-lined. I couldn't fix it, and apologize for making it look like I've been writing for half-wits! If anyone knows how to fix this problem, plse put instructions in the Comments Section.

Again, have fun, and let me know if this works for you!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Veteran's Week and Not Writing


Yes, I missed blogging on Remembrance Day - I know, unheard of for me to let a military highlight go by. I claim innocence by the fact that I actually had 3 days off work, one of them being Remembrance Day, and that was my last weekend off till after Christmas.

However, this is "Veteran's Week", so I thought I could throw something against the wall and hope it sticks. We attended the city-wide Remembrance Day ceremony at Winnipeg Convention Centre, with my dh in full dress blues, as was everyone else - army and air force. Funny, only Sea Cadets in attendance out here on the Prairies - no Navy.

It's actually a good thing I'm blogging about this late. I was offended and irritated at the same time by the hour-and-a-half long ceremony that was obviously put on for political purposes to satisfy every special interest group in the city, and NOT our vets. It was put on by some "Joint Veterans Committee", so maybe that's where the problem started.

It took an actual twenty minutes to lay the wreathes; every Nurses Association, Kiwanis, whoever, had to lay a wreath. Ridiculous. The speaker's remarks were cut to almost nil, but there were so many people "participating" that it strung out the service to the breaking point. The final insult was the traditional "March Past". Normally, it's made up of a Colour Party (military personnel carrying flags), veterans, and military people serving now. This travesty included not only the Air and Sea Cadets (okay, maybe if you stretched it, they're "serving" members), to Girl Guides, Brownies, Sparks (5 yrs old), Cub Scouts, and Boy Scouts. These children "marched past" the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, supposedly to pay tribute to his office and the solemnity of the day.

It was an insult to everyone there wearing a proper uniform, and serving in the Canadian Forces. I've never seen anything like it. Perhaps the idea was to teach the kids about what Remembrance Day stands for, but seeing parents take pictures of their kids as they marched by left a bad taste in my mouth.

It was bad enough that no acknowledgement of our current war in Afghanistan was made, nor the names of our dead veterans of this war read out, but the whole thing smacked of everybody fighting to get in their little bit. Contrast this to the ceremony held in Ottawa on Capitol Hill, where the crowd chanted "We support our troops! We support our troops!" at the end.

That is the sentiment of Remembrance Day - remembering what came before and the sacrifices made for all of us, and remembering the current soldiers fighting in the cold of Afghanistan (it's winter over there - people I know are sending mittens for the local kids) and facing IED's every day.

Off my soapbox now.

Re not writing - I have no idea what's wrong with me. I know I'm curdled by my wicked hours at this job that started out part-time and has grown two heads. I know we've had two cross-country moves in two years, and the stress is starting to show. But, I also know of other authors who've been able to write through tragedy, illness, and divorce. So, what's my problem?

I have to refocus. Start remembering when I found joy in writing, and wasn't just churning out yuck. (well, it's yuck to me anyway) With having to work up to and including Christmas Eve I doubt the "Christmas spirit" will inspire me very much. I'm lucky to have good friends around me, who still encourage me, and believe in me. I'm going to focus on that, and write down the many, many stories that could come out of this job experience.

The other day I confronted two identified "cruisers" from a professional theft-ring and made sure they left my store without stealing anything. It gave me great personal satisfaction, and the thrill I used to feel back when I wore a uniform and gun to work. And it felt good indeed. One for the good guys!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

We Mourn Another Slain Mountie


Two of our RCMP officers have been murdered this month in our remote Northwest Territories. For those of you who haven't been in touch with the news yesterday, Constable Douglas Scott was shot in the head at approximately 11 p.m. Monday night, while answering a possible impaired driving call. He had been in the village of Kimmirut, on Baffin Island in the Arctic, for only six months and had just graduated from RCMP Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan. His picture above is his graduation photo from Depot. He was only twenty years old.

The RCMP have announced that they were intending to put "through" a policy next month that would make it essential for two officers to answer nighttime calls in remote regions. Kimmirit is only a village of four hundred people. It proves again that it only takes one person with a gun to undue all the great work Cst. Scott had done with the village youth, at the school, and in his daily contact with friends and villagers alike.

This new policy comes too little, too late, for Constable's Worden and Scott. It's another example of the government's actions well after the fact of a tragedy. I'm sure it'll be little consolation to Cst. Scott's family and friends.

They announced that he worked in this tiny village with an "experienced Sergeant". Two officers to two hundred people, so it was deemed appropriate staffing. When I began policing in 1984, there were forty-four officers on our municipal force, with a ratio of one officer to one thousand people. However, although we were one-man cars, we could count on back-up from anybody else on our shift, and we were obviously in a smaller area.

An inexperienced officer - with only six months service - shouldn't have been stopping an impaired driver without back-up. We don't know yet whether this man was impaired, mentally ill, on drugs not alcohol, or why he felt compelled to shoot this officer while he had his child in the car. So far, he's in custody but not charged, which raises a number of questions I won't go into here.

The fact remains - another young Mountie's life has been cut short. A young man who'd dreamt of being a police officer since he was ten years old, and who comes from a family of police officers - a long, and proud, tradition.

If you want to send Cst. Scott's family your condolences, you can go to Canada.com, find his name, and sign the guest book. I'm sure his parents, siblings, and extended family will appreciate it.

Rest in Peace.

Monday, November 05, 2007

New World, Different Time


I'm supposed to be doing a 50K word novel this month during National Novel Writing Month. I've joined up, and am reading and responding to alot of threads on historical fiction. I haven't gotten much writing done, due to the new job and my inability to concentrate as I try and pull the family into another "Mommy's working" routine. I likely will get something written, as I'm an over-achiever and don't want to admit I've missed this golden opportunity. But, having a day job (which really means working till 11 p.m.)sure is a kicker for your Muse! Only having half an hour for lunch doesn't allow for any creative scrawlings, even on a napkin.

My big interest today is the revealing of King Tut's full mummified body. Now we know the poor King had buck teeth and an underbite. That he was nineteen and probably not murdered, although the anthropologists haven't figured out yet how he died. (If they have, plse point me in the way of an article, because Egyptology truly fascinates me.)

What struck me is that the body didn't look any different than the creations of such bodies on shows like BONES. My husband and I never miss a show, and I've read all her books, including Bones to Ashes. Obviously, their special effects team on that show have done their homework! King Tut could just as well be a corpse on Tempe's autopsy table.

The ancient Egyptian obsession with life after death, and preparing for life after death, has no equivalent in history. You were "wealthy" if you could prepare a reasonable family tomb for yourself and your extended family. The treasures in King Tut's tomb have been eulogized for the past 85 years. Whatever he died of, his family and immediate people around him loved him very much to have ensured he would show up in the land of Seth (right god?) with such an extravagant face mask, gold, and treasure even our modern world has trouble calculating. The beauty of his tomb lends a beauty to his mummified face, if I can put that idea forward. Most mummies are horrible charicatures of the people they once were - how can they not be?

King Tut, on the other hand, has lost none of his majesty because his Egyptian guardians have removed his death mask and robes. A boy of 19 years, not a fabulous King, but likely destined to rule quietly and justly. A peek into a 3000 year old past, brought to life again with modern day technology.

This is why I love time travel novels so much. We get the joy of a look at the past, along with a good story in the present. Hmmm, maybe there's something there for NaNoWriMo!

At any rate, I hope his mummified body survives in that air-controlled glass case, and we can learn more from him about his culture and his life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dumbledore Is Gay...

Sorry, I've been away for awhile, adjusting to a new day job (and probably have lost half my readers!), but I couldn't let this go by.

Before anyone accuses me of being homophobic, I'd like to weigh in on JK Rowling's US/Canadian tour, and her "huge" revelation that all this time, inspite of never mentioning it in her seven books, Dumbledore is/was gay and in love with Gellert the wizard.

How's that for a publicity stunt? Because, that's all it is - a way of shocking/stimulating people into talking about her books again, and hopefully, buying more to go back and read where she may have dropped "hints" about this so-called love relationship. I suspect she fought with her publisher over the idea of having the teacher/wizard gay relationship, and lost to them. Now, she's happy to spread the "news" that she really had gay characters all along, and stir up some much-needed publicity for Deathly Hallows.

I mean, PULLEEEZE! The woman is the richest author/woman in the world. Isn't that enough? She has to have the last word on her characters, despite the fact her publisher's made her deliriously wealthy?

The Toronto media is busy wasting ink and web space on this mighty revelation - wondering how it'll "affect" the children who've read the books, whether it'll bring a "new generation" into accepting homosexuality as a responsible lifestyle.

I can't wait to see Craig Ferguson (comic) make fun of JK in his monologue tonight. Anybody with any common sense can see this for the cheap trick it is, and how shallow it makes her seem. Because she's going for shock value - not true compassion about gay people - and she's trying to broaden her market to sell even more books.

I'm all for promotion and publicity - but it would be nice to see someone with her kind of success go for the high road, especially when she's dealing with the children's market. Just my humble opinion, of course!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Another Cop Killer on the Loose


All right, those of you who read me regularly (or fairly regularly!) will know I couldn't leave this death of a young Mountie alone. There were 40 comments on the Globe and Mail Forum regarding this senseless death, all armchair quarterbacks with political comments on the Canadian gun registry, the 3 strikes law, putting drug dealers in jail for life, etc. Nowhere did I read that putting cop killers in mandatory 25 years to life was a great option for reducing police officer shootings. Or perhaps bringing back the death penalty - which we used to have for cop killers and prison guard killers.

One idiot actually commented that the media was making too much of this, as firefighters and construction workers have just as dangerous jobs! And someone (who obviously thinks alot like I do) replied that the difference is no one is SHOOTING at firemen or construction workers while they're working.

Most of my readers know I'm an ex-police officer. I can tell you that at two times in my career I was in dire straits needing back-up that didn't come on time. Once I was in a life and death fight with a guy bigger than me, but hopped up on some drug that made him ten times stronger. I had a cadet with me, and between the two of us we couldn't subdue him. The dispatcher did the same thing as the dispatcher in this sad case: she continued to call "Car 3, what's your location? Car 3, what's your location?" for about ten minutes. Not as long as the 45 minutes this RCMP dispatcher kept calling Worden. I've no doubt she's got her butt in a sling for her stupidity.

In my case, it took cars over 20 minutes to reach me, and the guy nearly strangled me to death. If I hadn't been able to pull my gun, and have him realize in his drugged state that it actually *was* a gun, I have no doubt he'd have finished me off. Timing is everything. In a medium-sized city, ten minutes on the dispatcher and 20 minutes for my back-up to get there was not acceptable in terms of getting help to me. I only had a cadet with me because it was summer time - all other seasons we were one-man cars. Or in my case, one-woman cars.

Cst. Worden should've had back-up when going into a well-known drug and weapon-related area. The problem was, there wasn't any to be had. The Ontario Provincial Police operate in the same way in small towns and have large areas to cover in between them. It's not unusual for an OPP constable to be an hour or more away from another one.

Five a.m. is what we used to call "the twilight hour", even though it was in the morning. People who've been up all night drinking and doing drugs are at their most dangerous then. People who've been fighting all night with their domestic partners are their most dangerous then because they're over-loaded on adrenaline and short on sleep - not to mention, alcohol is usually a factor as well.

No doubt that apartment complex seemed quiet on an early morning at 5 a.m. Most cops don't go to the door of an "unknown" complaint with their guns drawn. If someone's waiting for you on the other side with his gun drawn, you've got exactly two seconds to draw and fire. In that two seconds, he'll have fired and the shot will be on it's way to you, unless you can duck and weave at the same time you're drawing and firing.

I doubt Cst. Worden had a chance. Even the fact that he was found beside a spruce tree "next" to the complex shows the suspect or others pulled him over to the tree and left him there to die. He might have been concious enough to hear his dispatcher "calling" him, on and on, but obviously couldn't respond. Or, we can hope he died instantly and didn't suffer.

If the person(s) who dragged him over to that spruce tree weren't the suspect...and they didn't call it in, I hope the RCMP find them and charge them as accessories after the fact.

The RCMP has a massive recruiting drive on right now. They need a minimum of 600 recruits per year for the next four years to compensate for the retirement attrition.
It's a wonderful career for someone who wants to "live on the edge", help their communities, and do some good. If you fall within the 19-35 age bracket, consider it as a valid choice. More cops live then die. We only hear about those tragic deaths, like this one; not about the quiet heros who go about their business keeping the rest of their communities safe.

May they find "Justin Elise" quickly and deal with him severely.

My sincere condolences to Cst. Worden's wife, daughter, family, and friends.

Friday, October 05, 2007

An Unknown Tragedy

Woman Arrested in Airport and later died in police custody

When I look at this video, the first thing I notice is that you can't see what the woman is doing to cause a commotion. No one's looking at her; people are walking by her with their suitcases; suddenly we see a couple of cops approach her and talk to her. This quickly turns into one grabbing her right arm, one her left arm, and before you know it, she's face down on the floor.

You'll also note that it takes about four officers to "subdue" her, before she's raised to her feet, in handcuffs, and taken off to "wherever" - likely a cruiser waiting outside. I also note with interest, how many airport security guards stood around and watched the police "arrest" her.

With no knowledge of what "disorderly" conduct the woman was doing at the time of her arrest (that was the reason given for her arrest), we can't tell if she was "high", intoxicated, suffering from a diabetic or epiletic seizure, or other health problem. That she was only in police cells for 6 to 8 minutes, allegedly yelling her head off, and it was only when things got quiet that a cop went to investigate why she'd suddenly shut up, is a very small amount of time to transpire.

The fact that officers were in the vicinity but not looking directly at her contravenes just about every normal police department protocol I've ever heard of - even back in 1984 we stationed an officer on a chair, within 3 feet of the person in the cell, in order to assure their safety. Later, video cameras where set up in the cell block, so that officers were protected from legal action in cases that were "he said/he said".

This report makes no mention of a video camera being used, and that is in itself suspicious. A police department the size of Phoenix should be able to afford video cameras, and not doubt the family's lawyer is busy asking the hard questions.

This should never have happened, and regardless of what life-saving measures were taken to save her, the autopsy results should prove interesting.

Having been an officer wearing a blue uniform and having to cuff a suspect facedown on the floor, I know that it frequently takes four or more people to subdue someone who doesn't want to be arrested. Did they check her over for health issues *before* putting her in the cell? Was she searched properly to see if she carried pills, small items to choke on like paper clips, pins, gum, small pieces of paper (you'd be surprised what people will swallow to bring attention to themselves)...you get the idea. My guess is neither was done, or not done well or according to procedure.

On the other side of the equasion, the officers involved will all be suffering from shock and fear concerning what happened. In a case like this, there are no good answers, and only the tragic early death of a woman who didn't even look like she needed to be arrested in the first place. Was she screaming obscenities? The video doesn't let us hear that - was she delirious? Delusional? Hallucinating?

If you ever use a similar situation in a MS, you can be sure that the human element of inaction, over-emotion, negligence, or officers relying on others to do what they should be doing in the first place, are all things that are realistic. On the other side, the fear and "what could I have done?" haunt most officers that find themselves in such a situation.

For the "suspect" who dies, their final moments haven't been seen, but we can only add our imaginations to what might have been, what did happen, and what should've happened.

Rest in Peace, Carol Anne...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Canadian, eh?


Well, it's official. There's a full-time cop patroling my kids high school hallways, and the city's putting full-time cops in most high schools across the city. What seemed to be an American phenomenon has finally reached our fair cities, and we now work with "lockdown" procedures in case of stabbings or shootings.

Last week, a student was stabbed in the chest with a butcher knife at a local high school. Over a girl, no less. Kids seem to be carrying knives, machetes, and brass knuckles as their weapons of choice - to "feel safe". Schools are clamping down on Facebook accounts, and cell phones for their picture-taking abilities. Kids bully other kids by setting up Facebook "groups" to target unfortunate kids, and put cell-phone pics on YouTube and the net in general, as bullying tactics.

A teenage girl was attacked in the bush are behind her school, by a 14 yrs old, 16 yrs old, and another 18 yrs old. They tortured her, and beat her face so badly she's almost unrecognizable. This also happened back in Barrie, Ontario when I was running the street crisis shelter for youth. That particular young teen was attacked at a "party" because she refused to take an Ecstasy pill. She was beaten to a pulp also.

I have no answers, only prayers that my kids, and all the kids at their high school will be safe.

When we put violence in our novels, it's imaginary, happening to characters who're fictional even if they seem "real" enough to us as writers.

When the violence reaches out to our kids, it becomes something different. It feels like a Steven King novel, except that every time you see your kids get on their bus, you know they're not "characters" in a fictional world. They're your kids, your flesh and blood, the ones you love more than anything in the world.

And violence takes on a whole new meaning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Daily Drama and some new Links...


There I am, falling off the balcony of my real life...a dear friend wrote to me "This too shall pass", and I know she's right. Will it pass soon enough? is the question!

While tripping around the blogosphere, I came across two new crime writer links I just had to add to my list of Favs.

There's EVIL-E, a refreshing look at an anonymous writers take on what's going on in the Thriller World. It looks like it's going to be worth taking a daily, or at least a twice-weekly look.

Also, I found a terrific new crime writer (and cop) at JAMES O. BORN He's got three books out and the next one in the series is coming in February 2008. Check out this blog for worthwhile information on his pet peeves about mistakes TV and book writers make in their research.

In the meantime, I'm tying a knot in my rope and hanging on! I've always been a tough cookie, and I'm not going to change my MO now.

Have a great writing day!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bad Week for Commenting on the Globe and Mail...

I rarely post on the general forums re articles in our national newspaper The Globe and Mail. In fact, these forums are so ferocious as boards go, I use another name. This week I got slammed on posting about two major articles. That's okay, I've got broad shoulders! However, I thought it might be interesting to comment on them here as well.

The first article was about the Ontario Supreme Court striking down the recent addition to the Adoption Act. This addition allowed birth parents to locate their adopted children, and vice versa, freely with complete identification. The law was struck down on Constitutional grounds - the right to privacy.

Imagine my surprise when the usual liberal blatherers on this forum attacked this because of the prevailing belief in the "right of adopted children to know their heritage". Okay, before you throw tomatos at me, let me say that I have nothing against people knowing "their heritage". I *do*, however, have something to say about birth parents or siblings arriving on my doorstep to check on my adopted teenagers. I'm *thrilled* this law was eliminated, as I believe strongly in my right to privacy, and the privacy of my children.

My post on the forum was shot down by several sarcastic and nasty people who told me I was "insecure" and "paranoid" about whether or not my adopted children love me. Well, I know they love me, my husband, and we love them. We're just a regular family. :)

The reason I was protesting on the forum was to try and educate these lunatics: at adoption, adoptive parents are provided with as complete a file as possible on their child's birth family - right down to extended family, their "heritage" in terms of ethnicity, the facts surrounding their health at birth, the health of the birth family - even what city/town/county they came from. How is having this information not letting an adopted child "know their true heritage"??? I found it ludicrous.

We even know that my son's extended family members were good at woodworking. My son loves to do woodworking shop. Obviously, a talent passed on. If such detailed information is given at the time of adoption, I fail to see why birth parents/family should have the right to check on my address. They received just as detailed a dossier on us as a family, minus that kind of identifying information.

I say kudos to lawyer Clayton Ruby (a very controversial Canadian lawyer) who worked hard to have this law struck on Constitutional grounds. My children know "their heritage". Every adoption is different - the circumstances, the extent the birth family wants to be involved or not involved, and whether the records are sealed.

Am I insecure and paranoid? Nope - I just expect the laws of my country to protect my privacy and that of my family.

The second article had to do with genetic research. It stated that Geneticists are against using their research to screen pregnancies for rare diseases, or conditions such as Down Syndrome. In this case, they were talking about Gaucher's disease - a common disease found in Eastern European Jews and their descendants, which is quite treatable. However, the number of abortions obtained by expecting parents who think they "can't cope" with this disease is scary.

"Selective abortion" in the case of multiple births is common knowledge. Every woman who "tests" positve for a Down Syndrome baby is given the option to abort. However, it's also common knowledge that these genetic tests done in utero are not infallible - whether for Downs, Gauchers, or spina bifida. And yet thousands of women abort in the fear of having an "abnormal" child.

So, I got on my soapbox (anyone who regularly reads this blog knows I have one!) and protested that the Nazis murdered thousands of "mentally retarded" and "mentally ill" people, while they were busy gassing Jews. They also murdered as many gay people, or people accused of being gay, as they could get their hands on. People were outraged, once the Nazis started zeroing in on those with brown hair and brown eyes. They ignored the suffering Jews and the above people, until the Nazis started rounding up those who didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes. And yet, what were the Nazis practising? "Selective cleansing" based on genetics.

My point? If we start using genetic testing in utero, we're playing God and deciding what's "normal", what's "appropriate", and who can or can't "cope" with various medical conditions their child may have. Who's to say a person who's disabled can't have a full and worthwhile life? Hello, Steven Hawkins!

Should society project fear on to parenthood? Should we allow ourselves to be brainwashed that it's not "possible" to cope with various medical situations that may rear their heads when our babies are born? Are we that weak? Are we so used to being pushed around by our governments that we can't think for ourselves at all?

Rhetorical questions. If the geneticists in Canada are afraid of the ethical use of their research, then society should take note, and doctors should do some serious thinking before they counsel parents to abort what may or may not be a healthy fetus. We're not God, and we can't predict the future happiness and well-being of a child who may be born with some kind of "defect". If people are so unwilling to accept anything less than a "perfect" baby, I suggest new parents look in the mirror and decide whether their less than "perfect" medical history would have been grounds for aborting them. (cancer, anyone? high blood pressure? heart disease in the family?)

Instead of testing pregnancies already in progress, it makes more sense to test a couple's DNA before they create a baby. If there's problems with their DNA combining, that's the time to find out. Not when mom is carrying a four month old fetus.

Okay, off my soapbox now!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PRISON BREAK


Prison Break premiered last night - did you catch it? Another heart-pounding episode guaranteed to suck you back in to the story. The writing on this show is tight, the dialogue smooth and exactly the way editors tell us to "do it", and I love the characters and their conflicts.

Last night's highlight for me was the FBI agent intervening in Michael's fight and killing the henchman. Maybe that sounds bloodthirsty on my part, lol, but the set-up to his saving Michael was solid and made me think about some of my foreshadowing and character actions. Watching a show like this can teach you alot about writing. JMHO.

And if fall and winter have to come upon us all, at least fall brings all the great shows back to help us get through another long, dark, winter.

What's your favourite TV show in the current line-up?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sweet, sweet, Madeline....


I know I'm not the only blogger to post about this ghastly situation involving Madeline McCann, the four year old all of Europe has been looking for since May. The kidnapping of a child is a parent's worst nightmare.

As an ex-police officer, I knew immediately that the Portuguese police would be looking at her parents in regards to her disappearance. Parents and close family are always the first suspects in a family members disappearance. They're normally grilled for hours - right away - and the only explanation I can think of for the McCann's not making it into the interrogation room before this past weekend, is that the police had their suspicions but no hard evidence. They obviously do things differently in Europe, or the McCanns would have been held for a bail hearing and not allowed to return to England. And I think the McCann's will find out that the DNA evidence is damning at best. But for the police and prosecutors, knowing something is true, and proving it to be true, are two different things.

Their pitiful story about leaving Madeline and their 2 yr. old twins asleep in their hotel room while they went to dinner, would earn them a "child endangerment/abandonment" charge in Canada. People do all kinds of stupid things, but leaving three children four and under alone in a strange hotel, has to be #1 on David Letterman's Top Ten List of "Reasons Some People Shouldn't Be Parents".

I've heard people on the news say that "no mother could have pleaded so convincingly" for her child to be returned. Ridiculous. Susan Smith did it, and she'd pushed a car containing her 3 yr old and 1 yr old boys into a lake and watched their frantic little faces screaming at her as they went under the surface. Diane Downs, a famous US killer, murdered one daughter, paralyzed another, and traumatized her 4 yr old son when she pulled over on a dark, back road, and shot them point blank in the rear seat of their car. Her story was that a black man had tried to car-jack them (on an unlit and untraveled road), and shot her in the forearm (it was later proven she shot herself, giving herself a flesh wound) while she was trying to protect her kids. Strangely, he disappeared in to the bush and didn't take her car after all.

So, is it so bizarre that these parents would try to palm off the story that an u/k kidnapper took their four year old out of a locked hotel room, and she hasn't been found in the past four months?

I only wish the "kidnapping" had happened in Britain, Canada, or the US, where our laws would prevent them from being out on bail, and they'd face the investigation they undoubtedly deserve. Whether Madeline died "accidently" or not, these two doctors have had a part in conspiring to hide her body, have hid her body, and at the worst, have murdered her.

It's Jon-Benet Ramsay all over again. And in the justice system, it's unfortunately true that some people can get away with murder. If in later months, I'm proven wrong, I'll gladly say the same on this blog.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My New Home


It's taken a couple of weeks, and long days packing and unpacking, but we're finally in our new home. Our kids are in a fantastic school program, the city is gorgeous, and I can't believe that it only takes five minutes for me to drive to ten stores all in one place.

I loved Saskatchewan, and I'm sure glad we lived there, but this new adventure promises to be an exciting and invigorating environment. I do hate unpacking, reorganizing, putting up pictures, hanging blinds, and figuring out how to find new doctors, dentists, and dance classes. However, the kids are so happy, my dh *will* be happy once he gets his teeth into work again, and I'm happy to be somewhere where I've got friends and relatives once again.

And my computer's finally hooked up and ready for me to hit the keyboard again. I've got some thoughts for a new story, and am searching for an agent - someone who'll see my potential and if my first or second submission isn't quite right for her/him, will still let me learn on the fly. I know this is possible, because it's happened to other author friends of mine. I'm looking for an agent with sales, great contacts, and who'll have faith in me.

It's going to be a fast and furious September! How was your summer?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Taking a Break...


We're finally moving to Winnipeg, where I'll be so happy to join fellow author Toni Anderson! I'll be gone for a week, so will return when I'm online again.

Meanwhile, I've added two links at the right: TITLE WAVE and LONE STAR MEANDERINGS. These are great new blogs I discovered and they're well worth a look.

Have a great week, everybody, and I look forward to being back online asap! :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Welcome to my special guest...JUDITH ROCHELLE

LW: Judith, please introduce yourself to our readers. How did you start writing in this genre and what drew you to it?

JR: I live in the Texas Hill country with my husband and our three little kittens. All of our children are out on their own so our time is pretty much as we choose it. Writing had always been my secret passion but although I worked as a journalist and wrote for several magazines I had to wait to begin writing fiction until I retired. My wonderful husband is my Number One fan, and very supportive. I always thought I’d write mysteries, because that’s what I always read. But after three months when I was still looking at the same three dumb chapters, I figured out I was doing wrong,. My introduction to the romance genre came when I read Cry No More by Linda Howard and after that everything changed for me. I finished my first manuscript in two weeks – of course it was so gawdawful I had to rewrite it about twenty times to submit it, but I felt so accomplished!

LW: You have an exciting new romantic suspense coming out - REDEMPTION. Can you give us a blurb about it? When is it coming out?

JR: REDEMPTION is built around a man named Ethan Caine, a mysterious, burnt-out warrior who has a murky background. Ethan is based on the friend of my son’s and the book was exciting to write. My heroine is a woman who has suffered unbelievably through a destructive marriage, the murder of her husband, and now the kidnapping of her son. Three months after the ransom’s paid, Jamie has still not been returned. When everyone else fails to find him, her only recourse is through Ethan Caine. As they search for Jamie together in the lush Quintana Roo jungle, barriers begin to fall and they wonder, with a successful rescue, can they each put their lives back together and move on together? As I wrote it, it was interesting to me to watch Lisa, my heroine, driven out of her shell by anger, become this very strong, very determined woman. And to see Ethan barely hope that this is the woman who can pull him back from hell.

LW: What was the "idea" behind the book?

JR: I’ve become really fascinated with Special Ops and covert operations. My model for Ethan Caine is someone I’ve known for ten years and one day just had the itch to put him in a book. When I started I had just his profile and one line. See if you can guess which line when you reads the book. I’ll send a pen and maybe some other goodies to everyone who sends in the right answer.


LW: You told me there are two more books in this series - what characters are you featuring in each book?

JR: In book Number 2 a woman from Ethan’s past arrives on his doorstep afraid for her life. With her is a child, who turns out to be Ethan’s. Killers are after them, and Ethan keeps the child at his home but gives the woman for safekeeping to Dina Brancuzzi, from REDEMPTION, a supposedly retired covert operation running fishing charters but doing black ops contract work for the government. This is his story.

LW: How did you present this series to your publisher?

JR: I sent the manuscript for REDEMPTION and when they bought it and it was released, I told my editor I had ideas for sequels,. She asked me to send them to her, which I did, and she wants me to write the next two books. So that’s very exciting!

LW: You also have a brand new book out in September. Tell us about this book and the series that's sprung from it!

JR: This is an exciting new genre for me – psychic romantic intrigue. The book is called ALWAYS ON MY MIND. I was asked to write it by the managing director of The Lotus circle, sister imprint to Ellora’s Cave. It’s an area I’ve always been interested in but never explored. The hero and heroine discovered in their teens they could communicate telepathically. They are very tight as friends, but suddenly that friendship turns into something much deeper. But Mark is in Delta Force and unwilling to make a long-term commitment while in the service, so Faith works very hard at writing successful political thrillers. Then Mark’s mission is leaked and almost all the men on his team are killed. He’s captured by the terrorists he was there to eliminate and his only contact with the outside world is through Faith. The story is about how she finds a way to rescue him. In the course of that, she meets the men of Phoenix, a covert agency doing contract work for the government and corporations. Now each of those four men will have their own book, and the women they find will have some type of psychic ability. The second book is called VISIONS OF DARKNESS, and my heroine, Mia Fleming, has precognition. I am very, very excited about this. The books are being released by The Lotus Circle, sister imprint to Ellora’s Cave.

LW: How did you get the idea for this series?

JR: The idea for the first book came from a song by the late Townes Van Zandt called, IF I NEEDED YOU – “If I needed you, would you come to me, would you come to me, for to ease my pain.” Lying in bed one night, with that song playing in my head, the story line just popped into my mind. Then as I wrote the book, the men of Phoenix became very personal to me and I thought they should each have their own story. The director agreed so we’re on to the next one.

LW: How do you like to write - are you a plotter or a pantser?

JR: A little bit of both. I start with an idea and much of the time will write some sort of synopsis, just so I don’t forget where I’m going. But otherwise I’m really a pantser, letting my characters take me where the need to go.

LW: Do you have a strict routine? How long does it take you to write one book?

JR: That depends. I can actually do it in one month if pushed and I put everything else aside – like eating and sleeping, LOL! - but two months is more realistic.

LW: What advice can you give unpublished writers? (beyond, never give up!)

JR: Definitely that. The other thing is figure out what kind of books you like to read-those are what you should write. I was so in love with the hero in Linda Howard’s CRY NO MORE that I wrote RUN FOR YOUR LIFE to create my own hero. Don’t be discouraged. Check the web for romance writers Yahoo groups. There are always helpful discussions going on. Find a critique group. You really need other input into what you right. And don’t let rejection letters get you down. We all have tons of them. Just keep on writing.

LW: What kinds of things do you like to do when you're not writing?

JR: That’s easy – read, read, read. Play golf. And from August through December I watch every football game eon television. I am the original football maniac. I take my laptop and sit on the couch, writing and watching two games at a time.

On the 23rd I’ll be blogging at the Killer Passion Blog and on the 24th I’ll be doing an author stint on ebooklove. I’m also running a contest through August 31 to celebrate the release in print of LOVE WITH A PROPER RANCHER, the first in a trilogy, and two weeks later, CUTTER’S LAW in ebook. Jump on over to my web site at www.judithrochelle/com and get the details and enter the contest. Lots of great prizes. Rancher, like REDEMPTION, is available at amazon.com and barnes&noble.com

I have also started a Yahoo group, just for announcements and for my readers to discuss my books. You can register at

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/authorjudithrochelle/ And I’m running a contest there for signed books just for members of ther group. All you have to do is join.

Below is an article I wrote on Where Do Ideas Come From:

So many people ask me the question “Where do writers get their ideas? How do they come up with plot lines? With characters?” I used to ask the same question myself before the writing bug bit me, and I took all the suggestions I’d been given and figured out how to use them.

For one thing, always carry a notebook with you – big, small, tiny enough for a purse, it doesn’t matter. Just something to keep notes in. Say you’re in a restaurant having Shrimp Louie and a chilled glass of Chablis and the people at the next table begin arguing about wine. Okay, what if they are co-owners in a winery. One wants to sell, the other doesn’t. And if it’s a family winery all the more intense. So you jot down the gist of their conversation and maybe a word or two about the people themselves so you have character references.

Another good place to people watch is a mall. Every kind of humanity will pass before your eyes in the space of an hour. You can look at each one and play the “What If: game. What if that guy covered with tattoos is really part of a biker gang running drugs? What if the couple looking so romantic are actually married – to other people? What if the old woman sitting across from you is really a millionaire looking for someone to give money to, but her family is fighting it, trying to have her declared incompetent? Well, you get the idea.

Newspapers are a great source, too. Even letters to the editor. I read one in our local paper from a woman who had just moved to town and was renting a house, gone jogging and was caught in a downpour and a very nice man in a truck – with a dog – gave her a ride home. From that I came up with the idea for a romantic suspense about a woman who returns to her hometown after leaving it twenty-five years before. No one knows her after all this time. She’s changed her name, she’s a true crime writer and she’s back to solve the mystery of her sister’s murder.

You can even steal a little bit from television. I watched an episode of CSI in which a couple left their dead baby for the police to find and faked a kidnapping. The baby was actually killed by their five-year-old child. It was an accident but they didn’t know what to do. Okay, here’s where the “What If” came in for me. What If a family had a child that was really a bad seed, had would they find a way to remedy the situation? Watch for ECHOES OF THE PAST, out in May from Triskelion Publishing, to find out how far I took the “What If” game with this one.
When something triggers an idea in your mind, pull out that little notebook and jot it down. You never know how you can flesh it out at a later date. Describe people you see who fascinate you, places that might make good settings for stories. Anything that you find interesting, someone else will like, too.

But the most important thing to remember is that ideas come from YOUR MIND. So give your imagination free reign. Nothing is too absurd or off the wall. New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart said, “If you write a page a day, at the end of the year you’ll have a book.”

So start watching what goes on around you and putting those ideas down. Maybe at the end of the year you’ll have finished your book.

LW: Judith, thank you for spending the time with us today! Good luck with your new series. Again, anyone who wants to check out Judith's website for book or contest information, visit
JUDITH ROCHELLE

Friday, August 17, 2007

Make Sure You're Here!




On Monday August 10th, JUDITH ROCHELLE will be my guest blogger. She writes erotic romantic suspense under her pen name Desiree Holt, and inspirationals as Emily Brevard. Her sexy romances are published throughThe Wild Rose Press, and we're going to talk about her new book due out in September, as well as the two series she's got on the go!

I'll be giving a prize randomly from any comments or questions put on my Blog.

Make sure you check in Monday to learn about Judith's approach to writing, and her essay on "Where Do Ideas Come From".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

THE AUTHORS ASSISTANT


I've put a link through to my friend Pollyanna Lundy's site under LINKS at the right hand side. She's a fantastic web designer and offers full services to authors. You can see samples of her work at her site. She's very reasonable, which is helpful to budding unpubs or debut authors.

I recommend her highly! Check out The Authors Assistant if you're new, or are looking to change up your website.

WHAT YOU DISCOVER WHEN PACKING



1) You decide you'll never be a size 10 or 12 again (never mind a "medium"), so you clean out your closet ruthlessly. You end up with two garbage bags for Sally Ann.

2) You have renewed angst over the fact that out of you and your two sisters, you received the ugliest silver ware and silver tea set to be had in the family.

3) You discover bags and bags of school memorabilia for both kids - dating back to 1998. Oh yeah, you planned on sorting all that out when you moved here a year and a half ago - stuff everything back in the bags!

4) Your dh refuses to give up his MBA textbooks, which are taking up a whole shelf of your "writing" bookcase. This means you'll finally have to pick up the piles of writing books on the floor of your office and stick them ????

5) You find a whole file of notes for your fourth novel, which you thought was "lost". Great rejoicing ensues!

6) Your movers inform you that contrary to your LAST move, you now have to take apart your entire patio set (make sure you keep your bolts yourself), and ALL your Canadian Tire metal shelving in the basement.

7) Your movers inform you that now they no longer transport photo albums, scrapbooks, or photos of any kind, in case they lose them. Piles of these will have to go in your own vehicles - since when are movers supposed to "lose" anything???

8) You have to count every DVD, video, CD, and Playstation game in the house and list them on a new form: the "highly valuable" form. When you're done that, you can list all your signed, limited edition prints, and collector books too.

9) Your mother chooses this time to have a major "crisis" - and you're 3000 miles away so it stands to reason you're the one who has to talk her through it.

10) You discover your file of contest certificates. You realize that in spite of it all, you'll still be a writer no matter where you live - it's all just a matter of getting from Point A to Point B. :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

BEFORE THE MOVE.....


I know I've been MIA for a few weeks, but it's been crazy here trying to coordinate everything before we move, *and* trying to keep up on my revisions. Moving creates "Lists of Things To Do", and I keep crossing things off, and finding even more things to put on another List. Thankfully, dh is great on helping organize and take things off my plate, such as booking reconnections for utilities, the "Net", etc. at the other end.

I can't believe how much stuff we still have to "purge" - things we don't need/use anymore, that I don't want to drag with us this time. It's definitely true that we're a consumer society and have too many material things piled up. I didn't think I could ever accuse myself of that, but as I make lists for the movers of DVD's, videos, our Folio collector books, my writing books....it's clear we've fallen into the entertainment trap just like everyone else we know.

We went to a formal Mess Dinner last Friday p.m. for the graduation of three of my dh's classmates who're going on fighter jets. It was wonderful to take part in all the Air Force traditions, even the "stranger" ones such as the men/women in uniform getting up on their chairs and putting their right foot on the table (white linen, no less) while the Air Force Anthem was played, and then yelling "AIR FORCE!" before pouring a shot down their throats. I was wishing I'd known about it before hand and gotten a quick picture of it.

At Mess Dinner's there's an empty table set, with a chair leaning up against the table as though it's "saved" for someone. The glasses are all turned upside down, to symbolize that no one will sit there, there's a wedge of lemon on a plate to symbolize the bitterness of the loss of our comrades in arms, a bowl with salt in it to symbolize the tears shed by the families of lost loved ones, a single red rose to symbolize the blood shed for our country, and a red ribbon around it's vase to symbolize the current member's pledge to shed their blood for their country. The description of this table setting is read at the start of every Mess Dinner, and it's very touching.

I'll try and pop in and keep up with other's blogs and news before we move. Sorry it's sporadic, but those closets are calling my name right now! Hope everyone's having a great August, and getting every last squeeze out of your summer. :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why Criminals?


Someone asked me why I talk about criminals and crime so much on my Blog. Well, I'm a crime/suspense/romantic suspense writer, and I find news stories to be inspirational. I also scope out research on how the criminal mind works.

Most importantly, I used to be a police officer, and I also worked as Program Director for a Young Offenders correctional facility. In 1991, I opened the first street youth crisis shelter in my home city, and received a Governor-Generals' medal for the honour.

I've had significant experience with crime, criminals, and what makes them tick. Of course, I have personal opinions on these issues, which most cops/ex-cops do. For example, I have a sister-in-law who's a clinical psychologist and specializes in treating sex offenders. She believes they can be rehabilitated - from my experience, in my opinon, they cannot be. She's much more liberal in her thinking than I am, but we all have our different perspectives!

So, I hope I can percolate your thinking with some of these posts, as to what happens in true crime situations. I hope this is useful to suspense/romantic suspense writers. Like everything else, there's the victims story, the suspects story, and the police who deal with both of them. Their stories; how police officers cope, and their unique views on the world, are what I try to recreate in my books.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Police Capture Wanted Murderer


This week on the Clues-N-News eloop of the Kiss of Death Chapter we've been debating the differences (if any) between a sociopath and a psychopath. The man above is James Imeson, 22 yrs old, who was finally captured today after nearly two weeks on the run. He was heading east to Quebec, when all police forces thought he'd head west because he had family out here.

This man allegedly murdered three people - one in his own apartment, and an elderly married couple in their home, during what was likely a home invasion to find food and money.

So, look into his eyes. What do you see? Evil? Despair? A con man? A ruined man? A man with no conscience?

I see a young man with nothing to lose. He's likely a sociopath due to the fact that he allegedly killed two unarmed retired people by shooting them - something he didn't have to do, but they were in his way. He'll show no remorse for any of the murders, and the murder in his apartment in Windsor was probably personal in nature -a debt, something about his two year old daughter, a rival for his lover...a writer's mind can go on and on with the possibilities.

His was the last face those three people saw. Now, we'll see his face on the news for the next month or so, while he's arraigned, bail is set, his lawyer hired.

We discussed the nature or nurture question, regarding sociopaths. In his eyes, I see the lack of nurturing, the abusive background, the jail time, and solitary living. His one redeeming feature may be that they think he was going back to Windsor to get his little girl.

It was time he was caught - a desperate man with nothing to lose is dangerous, especially when he's already killed three people. Whatever has caused James Imeson to be what he's become, he's going to spend most of his adult life in federal prison.

Such a waste of a life.

Jason H Presents Canadian Forces Tribute

The news is full of the political posturing between our Defense Minister, Gordon O'Connor, and our Chief of Defense Staff, General Rick Hillier. Personally, I believe Gen. Hillier is the only one with a true vision of what it's going to take to get the Afghan Army up and running. In the meantime, I've posted this tribute to our Canadian Forces to remind us all that this mission is worthy of Canadian participation.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A New Woman's Sport

HighHeelSprint

Click on the link above to see what's new in Russia - a Chick-Lit writer's dream event! Personally, I confess to a shoe addiction which I've never been able to afford - I love shoes; high heels, glitzy, red, gold, satin, stiletto sandals, you name it - I love it! Guess that's why my current heroine wears stilettos while undercover.

Unfortunately, I'm usually stuck with a SAHM's usual runners or slip-on sandals. But the day is coming.... :)

What kind of shoes do you favour? Are you a secret collector? Do you still have your prom shoes? (I have my wedding pumps securely tucked away in tissue in a sealed box)

Some women collect charm bracelets, earrings, shoes, or rock concert Tshirts. What do you like to collect?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Collateral Damage


Eleven year old Ephraim Brown was slain this past weekend when two gangs opened fire on each other outside a kid's birthday party. Ephraim had the misfortune to be standing on the wrong spot on the sidewalk, and was shot in the neck, dying almost instantly.

His older sisters were interviewed on TV asking the North End Toronto gangs to break their code of silence, so police could find the killer(s) of their little brother. So far, the police have arrested one suspect, Akiel Eubank, aged twenty-one. "Mr." Eubank's well-known to police as a gang-banger with a long criminal history.

As usual, I'm "preaching to the choir", as I did last Dec.26th, when I say that until the black community comes together and does something about their gang problem, more shootings and deaths will continue. Ephraim's sisters are correct - the black community must stop living in fear of retaliation from these animals, and take back their neighborhoods. Easy to say, maybe not easy to do. Ephraim's not the only child to die this year from a gang shooting. If the black community leaders who lobby City Hall constantly for other considerations do their job, Ephraim will be the last child murdered by Toronto gang-bangers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Week of Holidays....




Saskatchewan truly is the "land of living skies". I love the huge vistas of grain edging upon the horizon. The skies are either pure azure blue, blue with fluffy clouds, or splashed grey with thunder coming. The sun never seems to stop shining, and the breeze Saskatchewan is known for, never stops blowing, whether softly or in wild passion among what few trees there are here. I'm going to miss the wide, open spaces so much when we move.

I wanted to share the beauty we've found on our holiday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WORKING AWAY...



I had a great writing day today - 15 new pages! At this rate, I may make my personal deadline yet.

How's everybody else doing? Or is everyone at RWA Nationals except me? :)

NEW DEBUT AUTHOR!!!


MIRA books has a new debut author - Rachel Vincent. Her book STRAY is out now and she's got plans for a trilogy on this fantastic heroine who's a grad student by day and a werecat whenever the situation calls for it. Her next book is ROGUE, to be followed by PRIDE.

Her world-building is spectacular - I don't think I've ever read an author who can pull you in so quickly to accepting the laws and boundaries of this world she's created. It's nice to see a change from werewolves too, although they have their place for all you paranormal lovers out there! Werecats are sleek, sexy, and heavy on the mystique.

I urge you to run, not walk, to your nearest WalMart, Borders, Barnes & Noble, or get on Amazon.com to get this book before copies are sold out. You won't regret it. I promise.

Click on RACHEL VINCENT to visit her website and learn all about this fascinating new author. She's going to be to the paranormal, what Lisa Gardner is to romantic suspense thrillers. And you heard it here, first!

Monday, July 09, 2007

TRUE CRIME


Canadian justice has come into it's own at last. Today a court convicted a 13yr old girl on three counts of first-degree murder. And boy, did she have this coming to her. She's the youngest person ever to be convicted in Canada of such a heinous crime.

For those of you who don't read online or get Canadian papers, let me just say that this little psychopath cooked up a plot to murder her parents and eight year old brother with her then 23 year old boyfriend. They sent emails and love letters back and forth figuring out how to do it - she was upset because she was being grounded all the time, and she "hated" them. She even drew a picture of the three members of her family being burned alive, which was admitted into evidence.

The maximum this chickie'll get is 10 years, with only 6 yrs to be served in a maximum jail setting. Luckily, they didn't buy her meek, whispery voice, or the defense that she was caught up in a sexual/co-dependent relationship with an "older man".

Right after the murders, she took her mom's ATM card out of her purse, called a cab, and went to a friend's house. She partied with her now cleaned up boyfriend (he did much of the stabbing and killing - she held her eight year old brother down in a choke hold just to help her boyfriend along.) She even copped to stabbing him once in the chest, but the killing wound was a throat slash that severed his jugular, and larynx. Eight years old, and she testified that he was pleading with her to save him.

Karla Homolka has nothing on this kid - at least Karla was 19 or so before she offered up her drugged little sister to her then-boyfriend, Paul Bernardo, as a "virgin offering".

What can possibly explain this kind of psychopathic behaviour in a 13 yr old girl?

Evil. Pure, unadulterated evil. We don't like to talk about it, we like to sugar-coat things and put psychological labels on them.

But these two are evil. Plain and simple. If any of us had thought up this plot, it's grisly details might have turned most editors off.

Six years from now, she'll have finished high school in prison, because in Canada we pay for things like education, both high school and university for our prisoners. She won't be rehabilitated because no system can possibly reach a girl who can coldly, and callously massacre her entire family.

For her mother who was a naturopathic healer, her father who was a hard worker in an industrial field, and her poor, innocent little brother, I can only hope that somehow they're at rest and at peace.

Evil. Sometimes we don't like to face it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

We're Making Progress!



Yesterday I wrote 10 brand new pages, which is alot considering the small amount of time I've got alloted during the day. That's approx. 2500 words, whoopee! I know alot of writers can go faster, but I'm realizing that I've taken this story in a much farther direction than I first thought. That's what happens when you let your characters do the talking. :)

I've put up new pics of JC, my hero, and Leanne, my heroine, to keep me inspired. Hope your characters are behaving for you all!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

AGGRAVATING WEDNESDAY....


I've just had two major things happen - well, they're major to me, lol! and I figured, why not share them with you? :)

1) My 14 yr old washing machine died in the middle of a load. A load which included most of our towels, and is now sitting there half full of water. Anything like this ever happen to you? The repairman can't come till 10 a.m. tomorrow, and as it sounds like the motor's seized, we'll likely have to buy a new one. Just when we're moving and have all THOSE expenses to consider. (Like paying $300.00 for our pets to be vaccinated and documented just so we can cross the Saskatchewan border into Manitoba - give me a break!) So, ARGH!! It's ruined my stream-lined writing day, not to mention if we have to buy a NEW washer, it won't get here till next Tuesday. (see Laurie in the town's seedy laundrymat - we only have one, and I'm afraid we'd pick up iggly-wiggleys, and goodness knows what else!)

2) I just called our Worship Pastor (who's the only guy around - our new Senior Pastor doesn't start till Sept.1) to rant about our church having to cancel the final week of Vacation Bible School - we only run three weeks, and they had to plead from the pulpit this past Sunday for more volunteers just to get through next week. (I'm one of the volunteers) We only need 14 people to run a week, we've got kids on a waiting list, and only four people volunteered for the third week. It seems most women like dealing with the preschoolers, and not the grades 4-6 kids.

I'm absolutely appalled that a church with over 500 people can't come up with 14 for a week of volunteering. And I know the problem isn't just with my church - it's a universal problem to get volunteers out of the pews and off their butts in just about ANY church. I "volunteered" to speak on the platform about how the congregation needs to be held accountable for this unbelievable lack of desire to minister to children - and they're not just "church" kids, which is the whole point of having a Vacation Bible School. (He just laughed, and I know he won't let me anywhere near the platform! But he did promise to address it)

How does a church solve this problem? How can a church get people motivated to actually *serve* in their churches??? Back in Ontario, we belonged (over the years) to two churches who had to BUS kids in from the country, and run shuttles from meeting points like shopping malls to the church. People signed up in March to be volunteers, and we had an average of 180 kids per WEEK!!

I don't think this is just because Saskatchewan is an under-populated province. This is a 35,000 person city, and also draws from the rural areas. I think it's the old "someone else will do it", syndrome.

If you're reading this, and you haven't volunteered to do something at your church for their Vacation Bible School, please reconsider your time commitments and get out there to help your leaders. VBS reaches children in a different way than just going to Sunday School, and it's easier to get their friends to sign up with them. VBS can have a direct impact on a child's spiritual journey. It's a crucial program in any church.

Okay, enough ranting. If you're not serving in some capacity in your church already, please check your Biblical concordances and look up "servanthood" and "ministry". Maybe it's time to get out of the pew and into the trenches. Just think about it, and after that, like Nike says, Just Do It!!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

A BELATED 'HAPPY CANADA DAY' !!


On Saturday, June 30th, Margaret Wente, a columnist with the GLOBE AND MAIL - one of our national newspapers, wrote "254 Solitudes, and Counting". It was a dreary, depressing, and cynical essay on why Canada's not working, and why we've lost our "values and aspirations". Let me quote:

"If Canada has one claim to fame, it is as the immigration country that works. Wherever I travelled in Europe last fall, people would ask me, "How do you do it?" And I would smile sweetly and pretend that Canadians are simply more tolerant, more welcoming, and more eager to celebrate diversity than any other nation in the world. Let's hope they don't find out the truth...In 1981, Statistics Canada identified six "ethnic enclaves" across the country - communities where a single visible minority group made up more than 30 per cent of the population. Twenty years later, there were 254."

Margaret doesn't list which 254 minorities comprise Canada today, but she has alot to say about how "the job of civic society is to overcome these tribal resentments (she's talking about how people of one ethnic group tend to live together and resent the "majority"), and replace them with a set of values and aspirations that are shared. But our age is all about accentuating differences. We're supposed to not just recognize and tolerate these differences, but to embrace and celebrate them."

Hmmm, good thing you "smiled sweetly" last fall, Margaret. It is a fact that Canada has the highest immigration rate in the world. It's also a fact that yesterday on CTV Live, I saw many, many, different races of people, and their children wearing red and white hats, wash-off tattoos of our flag, and waving flags vehemently as our Governor-General arrived on Parliament Hill. Why were they all waving flags and happy to be here?

Because Canada does have strong values and aspirations that our immigrants have come here for,and for good reason;

1) Freedom of speech, liberty, and safety of persons. Ask anyone from Afghanistan, Somalia, the Czech Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba (need I go on?) how they feel about residing in a country where they're not afraid of soldiers taking away their children, they can practice their religion in freedom, and don't have to submit to policed road checks, whether they enjoy living here. Bet they'll say "Thank God!", Margaret.

2) Class-free education for everyone, universal health care, and suitable housing. We Canadians put a high price on our educational system, health care, and keeping our homeless off the streets.

3) We value dignity for all, the *inclusion* of all in our society, and educate our children to value this as well.

Margaret Wente would have us believe that the only values taught in our schools today are "anti-bullying and recycling. These are good things, to be sure. But maybe not quite enough to build a whole society on."

A "whole society"? We have a whole society, Margaret. We're not perfect, and there is some inherent racism, as there is in any society. But I'd submit that by celebrating and tolerating the differences in the immigrants who come here, we're preventing the repression of the second and third generations of immigrant's children who rise up in search of their "real" identity. The UK and Europe have taught us that much.

Our "whole" society allows people to be who they are - and if they feel divided between being "Afghanistan-Canadian" or "African-Canadian" or "First Nations Canadian", then that is their personal problem, not the society they live in.

If we fail to tolerate each other's differences, we are on the slippery slope to something the '40's called "Nazisim" - the idea of a supreme race over every other race. And that is something Canada will never tolerate - our Charter of Rights and Freedoms attests to that.

I know several family members, and friends, who don't share my views. They're afraid of the "Asian incursion", the "al Quada kids" who live in the projects (referring to Muslims, of course), etc. They feel they're in the minority where they live. Well, there's a solution for that - if you don't like living in "Chinatown", then move. If you can't stand the sight of little girls walking to school wearing head scarves, then move somewhere else.

The first immigrants to this country were French and English. Then later, the Irish, the Hutterites and Mennonites running from religious prosecution, the Germans and Ukranians who populated our Prairies, the Chinese who built our trans-Canada rail road, the blacks who came North during the Civil War...they built this countries economy, infrastructure, and developed it into what it is today.

Let's face it, Margaret, the only people who weren't immigrants, were the First Nations peoples. And their history and inclusion in our society is our only weak link in an otherwise empowering, tolerant, and compassionate Canada.

But that's the source of another blog! I hope everyone had a great Canada Day and long weekend!