Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Behind the uniform...

 Legalities and illegalities play big roles in all my novels. The BackTracker Series centers around the lives of a group of officers with the Northern Alberta Police Service. Although most are morally upright and very dedicated to their jobs, they are also emotional, vulnerable and human. In this scene from FIREWALLS Book 3 in the Series, young Constable Katrina Buckhold struggles with her romantic feelings for the much older Corporal Chad Leslie, a struggle so intense it eventually requires intervention from Calgary's men in blue.

Katrina & Chad
He didn’t even move when she wound up and tossed the wine at him. She flung the empty glass to the floor and half-rose from the bench. No longer feeling the need to whisper, she began to yell. “Why are you sitting here telling me this? Can’t you fucking leave me alone?” With one sweep of her hand, the crystal salt and pepper shakers joined the wineglass shards on the floor. By the time she decided to leave, the manager was at Chad’s side.
“Get her under control!” the guy demanded. “Or I’m calling the cops!”
“I can’t control her,” Chad said. “Do whatever you have to do.”
“Fuck you, Chad!” Katrina scrambled off the bench, cast the manager an apologetic glance and headed for the exit. She wasn’t sure if it was low blood sugar or emotional turmoil, but she had trouble getting her feet to take her where she wanted. It seemed she managed to knock something off every table she passed. When she finally got to the door, she fell into the arms of a uniformed police officer. The rough feel of the man’s jacket against her cheek reminded her of her father and she wrapped her arms around his waist and began crying.
“Take her to the car,” she heard the officer’s partner order. “I’ll check what’s going on inside.”
The cool evening air felt good and Katrina pulled away from the officer, tilted her head to the heavens, and felt the breeze brushing at her tears.
“You can wait in the car until my partner comes back,” the officer said, opening the rear door of the police cruiser.
“No, it’s okay. The fresh air feels good.”
“Are you old enough to have been drinking?”
“Yes, but I wasn’t drinking.”
“Weren’t drinking? Can I see your ID?”
Katrina rummaged in her vest pocket for her driver’s licence. “For fuck sake, where is it? I know I have it. I had to show it in there. I told the idiot I don’t drink, but he made me give it to him anyways. Idiot!”
She patted down her pant pockets and then tried her vest again and pulled it out. “Oh, it is here. Right where I put it. I always have it handy, you know. Because I’m always getting asked for it. People don’t believe my age. Some idiot in class today asked if I was finished high school for the summer! People are always saying I look older than I am.”

“Older?” the officer asked, shining his flashlight on her ID.
“Younger,” she corrected. “How old do you think I look?”
“Oh, I don’t think you look old.” He handed her the licence.
“That’s not what I meant!” Katrina felt tears gushing forth once again. “People are always taking my words the wrong way!”
“I understand what you meant. Just have a seat in the car. You’re a little unsteady on your feet.” Katrina took him up on the offer and he closed the door and then got in behind the wheel. “So, what happened tonight in there?” He nodded toward the restaurant.
“You ought to arrest him. He’s stalking me.”
“Who’s stalking you?”
“Chad. He’s a married man, fifteen years older than me, and he’s stalking me. He won’t leave me alone and it’s not even my birthday.”
“What do you mean that he’s stalking you?”
“He’s drives three hours one way to tell me his wife is screwing around on him. Why the fuck does he think I care? I don’t feel so good. Take me to the hospital.”
“Don’t you be getting sick back there!” the officer warned. “Why did you drink so much?”
“I didn’t drink. I never do. My mother was an alcoholic and her mother was, too. She died from it and then mom killed dad because she was driving drunk. I never drink. I’m not feeling good. At all, good. At all.”
“Do you have a medical condition?” the officer asked. “Epilepsy? Diabetes?”
“No, just shortness.”
“Shortness of breath?”
“No, just the regular-type shortness. Take me home, now. I think I’ll be okay if I can just sleep for a while.”
“Where’s home?”
“Three hours, that way.” She pointed around in a circle. “Which way is north? That way! Take me that way!”
“How can you say you don’t drink when you’re obviously intoxicated?”
“If I’m drunk, and I just might be, it kind of feels like the one time I drank. I was thirteen, you know, and my mom and dad both got killed and I drank a bottle of rye. A whole fucking bottle of Gibson’s Finest. That’s kind of how I feel. If I’m drunk, it’s because Chad spiked my drinks! You ought to arrest him for that. That’s not legal you know.”
“Chad spiked your drinks?”
“He must have, if I’m drunk. Because I was drinking Caesars. I thought I was. It’s what I ordered. Virgin Caesars, you know, like no alcohol.”
The other officer climbed into the front seat and Katrina couldn’t make out the words that passed between them.
“We’ll take you down to the station to sober up,” the younger officer offered.
“No,” Katrina moaned. “I have an idea, take me to my hotel. It’s closer than my home. Not such a long drive for you.”
“I can’t do that,” the officer explained. “The waiter claims you assaulted him. He wants to press charges.”
“Assaulted him?” Katrina wailed.
“Says you threw a wineglass at him. Cut his leg.”
“No, No. I didn’t do that,” Katrina protested. “Where’s Chad? He can tell you I didn’t do that! I wouldn’t throw something at a waiter! No!” The cop car pulled away from the curb. “Oh, fuck.” Am I in trouble now.

“I can promise you Katrina will get under your skin and into your heart.”

"FIREWALLS takes you on a journey and leaves you to clean up your own mess.”

 "Schuh is raw, she's real, and she packs one hell of a punch." 

 "A tale of comfort and hope that we, too, can slay our own dragons." 

 "A gritty, fast paced thriller."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oh, shoot!

Ooops! Sometimes we think we know something and we don't. Research is a vital part of novel-writing. When my editor questioned a passage in my work in progress (tentatively entitled SHADOW RIDERS) that referenced a revolver, I began a research race through cyberspace. As anyone who has surfed the net knows, one thing leads to another and I was soon immersed in videos, diagrams, blogs...headlines, anything and everything online that relates to handguns.

Subsequently I had the good fortune of being invited to touch and sniff several restricted weapons and one prohibited weapon that were part of a good friend's legal collection.

Although not all this handgun trivia makes it into the novel, here are some of the more fascinating facts I uncovered:

Although both are handguns, pistols and revolvers are not the same thing. Revolvers have a 'revolving' cylinder for ammo whereas pistols have magazines.

Even though pistols have a safety lever and most revolvers don’t, pistols are considered more dangerous to use. A revolver’s ammunition is loaded into its cylinder while a pistol’s is loaded into its magazine. A revolver’s ammunition stays in the cylinder until fired, whereas a pistol’s cartridge (bullet) moves from the magazine into the chamber in preparation for firing. Thus, removing a pistol’s magazine can make the gun appear harmless when in fact it has a bullet in the chamber and is still loaded. This could also be why pistols have safeties and revolvers generally don’t.

When firing, a shooter should focus on the near sight. To aim a handgun, the gun’s near sight, far sight and the target should be aligned. However, the human eye can only focus on one of those three thing at a time. This FBI instruction video advises its agents to focus on the near sight.

A perfectly steady hand is not possible. Marksmen are advised to ignore the wobble that inevitably occurs when aiming a handgun. It is impossible to control, says this FBI video, and doesn’t affect one’s aim to any great extent.

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, semi-automatic and automatic firearms are significantly different. Weapons that aren’t automatic or semiautomatic must go through a process between each shot. Depending on the firearm, that process could involve such things as ejecting the spent bullet, loading a new bullet and/or cocking the gun. Semi-automatics get rid of all those steps. After firing, one only needs to pull the trigger again to get off the next shot.  Automatics get rid of the need to even pull the trigger again. They will keep firing until the trigger is released…or until they run out of ammo. 

These are just some facts I learned or confirmed on my way to answering my editor's question about how my heroine knew how to determine if the bad guy's revolver was loaded.

I've also done some research on CT Scans for my other work in progress, a thriller novelette. Visit the DID YOU KNOW page on my website for fascinating trivia about this medical procedure.

Oh, shoot! has been brought to you by FIREWALLS Book 3 in the BackTracker series.
"takes you on a journey and leaves you to clean up your own mess."

"I am in awe of the depth of [this] work."

"[Schuh] is raw, she's real, and she packs one hell of a punch." 

"action packed with emotional lies, love, hate & survival"

“Intense & sensual”