Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kristi and her K9s in the Tournament of Roses

Kristi Schiller brings us a crime-related story of good cheer for this Holiday Season. May you and yours, and Kristi and her K9s have a wonderful and blessed 2014. 


Kristi Schiller


Have you ever had a dream truly come to life?

“Dreams Come True” at the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade. They really, really do. I’m sitting here, with tears in my eyes, in awe of the sight before me in the staging warehouses of Fiesta Parade Floats as K9s4COPs comes to life in floral splendor. The K9s4COPs float honors those who work toward building safer communities—the gallant K9s and the men and women with whom they serve. With my personal protection dog and constant companion Johnny Cash at my side, I’m watching with pride as he comes to life in meticulous detail.

Lifelike fur made from seeds and grasses painstakingly placed in a 22-foot molded form—it’s somewhat surreal to look from the dog at my side to one coming to life before my eyes. My dream is coming to life, and I’m overjoyed. And, it’s amazing to think that this is all born from tragedy three years ago…. Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Ted Dahlin will be riding with us on the float with K9 Daisy, but the officer he credits with saving his life—K9 Blek will be with us only in spirit.

View image on Yahoo News websiteKilled in action while chasing a robbery suspect in late December 2010, it was K9 Blek’s heroism and tragic loss that has brought us here today, to this moment. Come the morn of January 1, the world will learn of his gallant sacrifice and how many lives he has saved since his death. K9 Blek’s death and Ted’s loss haunted me.

A consummate animal lover, I knew and understood the dog and human bond. I knew I couldn’t repair the hole left by K9 Blek in Ted’s life, but I could make his memory worth something and make sure more K9s were available to keep our law enforcement officers and our communities safe. Trained K9s don’t come cheap, ranging between $10,000 and $15,000.

Through the generous donations, K9s4COPs has placed than 60 dogs to law enforcement agencies and school districts. When you consider that just one dog alone confiscated more than $6 million in drugs last year, imagine that times 60! They have a tremendous impact, from detecting drugs and explosives to protecting our children in schools—and making sure that officers go home to their families at night.

The Tournament of Roses Parade offers us an unprecedented opportunity to share with the world how value, how important K9s are to our communities. The parade offers K9s4COPs more exposure than we ever thought possible with nearly million attendees along the 5.5 mile long route to more than 100 million television viewers worldwide. Not only is the Tournament of Roses Parade great for sharing our mission, it’s just plain old fashioned fun.

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Our mornings start very early—at 4 .a.m.—in the last minute rush to finish the floats. The entire float is made entirely of flowers or plant material, and to survive through New Year’s Day, everything comes together at the last possible minute. Employees and volunteers, like the local Girl Scout Troop, have worked seemingly around the clock to bring the float to life.

The day after Christmas we watched Johnny Cash’s alter ego get a base coat of Lentil seeds, onion seeds, toasted sesame seeds, Kelp and seaweed glued to the mold. By Friday evening, he had lifelike fur made of grasses. We are surrounded by all manner of flowers—and magicians. There’s no other way to describe how these floats come to life. It’s magic. The time and detail is truly a labor of love.

It’s the fruition of Dahlin’s desire to make sure that he would make things right after Blek’s death. It’s the fruition of my dream to help him make that possible, and make our communities safer for others. It’s dreams coming true before the world.

It’s been a treasure to share this experience with my husband John and daughter Sinclair as well as my dedicated K9s4COPs team—P+R Productions President Jenna Jackson and her husband K9s4COPs board member Brendan Gilbert, K9s4COPs Executive Director Liz Lara Carreno and her husband Hector, Deputy Constable Dahlin and his wife Jackie and their children Emily and Cole, Harris County Sheriff’s Office Sargent Mike Thomas and his wife Tamara, Mike and Brenda Tuttle, K9s4COPs board member Pam Mahoney and her husband, Tracy, Annie Kahn, board member Mark Spillard, my dear mother Jo-Jo Hoss, photographer Josh Welch, Jaz and Jason Stanze with Houston K9 Academy, K9s4COPs Operations Manager Melanie Orth and her husband Brady Boyd, the talented P+R Productions Team of Suzy and Anthony Jackson, Michael Spicer, Adrian Garcia, Matt Godwin, Chris Bell, Pierre Cardenas and Lauryn Sanford.

Kristie and her K9s is brought to you by FIREWALLS

"Packed with humanity, crafted with insight."

"Schuh has created a character worthy of being called a hero." 

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

"A gritty, fast paced thriller"

#PTSD #PoliceAction #CyberCrime #Gangs

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PTSD - leaving the pain behind

There have been many headlines lately about soldiers and police officers not receiving the treatment they need for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the emotional tension and pain that results from participating in unexpected (and usually violent) events--situations that our minds and emotions can’t make sense of.

Participation can mean we had a direct hand in the trauma as the perpetrator or the victim. Or we can participate by witnessing something unfathomable and traumatic, hearing about, or seeing it in the media. It may be something we have no words for, violent unnamed images racing around in our mind, causing reoccurring nightmares and daytime thought disturbances. We may carry guilt, justified or not, believing we caused the event or that we should not have been the one to survive. We may harbour ambivalence, as children of abusive parents often do—confused that those we love cause pain. We may regret our actions, or our in-action. We may disapprove of our emotional responses to the incident. 

Left untreated, PTSD often festers, balloons, becomes hellish and overpowering. There are effective treatments for PTSD (also known as post traumatic stress (PTS), post traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), and critical incident stress). In Book 3 of the BackTracker Series, my FIREWALLS characters, of course, get the best professional help available (thanks in part to my psychiatric nursing background). But as with all medical treatments, the patient must first give consent and that initial step toward recovery is a giant one for many with PTSD. Reluctance to accept treatment is part of the illness and should not be judged harshly. takes almost an entire novel before my young heroine is ready to leave the pain behind. This reluctance is not unusual. I notice when those in the headlines speak of the illness they are suffering, they often speak of it possessively—it is theirs.  They talk of people misunderstand their PTSD, they don’t get the treatment they need for their PTSD, their PTSD was misdiagnosed, is getting worse, is best handled with medicinal marijuana.

There are many reasons people cling to the pain of the past. The longer PTSD is left untreated, the more difficult it is for victims to recover. The most effective treatments begin immediately, but sometimes that is not possible especially in situations like out on the battlefield, or with children growing up with abuse. The pain becomes ingrained, the responses to it habitual.

In FIREWALLS, Katrina feels guilt about the prospect of leaving the past behind: “Laughing made her feel guilty because while she laughed, Lukas rotted six feet underground....” She feels any type of forgiveness or moving on, any acceptance of what happened shows disregard for the victims of the trauma she witnessed, dismisses them. Lends support and approval to the perpetrators. She’s bent on revenge, on seeking justice. She is angry and hurting and that’s the way she wants to be.

Of course FIREWALLS is not simply a story about PTSD. Those who read my novels, know I weave many threads through my plots. Just as in real life, daily routines continue for those with PTSD, relationships evolve, careers progress. These are police officers who are suffering from past traumas and they continue on, using their smarts to solve complicated crimes, establish complicated office relationships, seek love on the side. 

But as in real life, everything they do is tainted by the PTSD they are fighting. Their behaviours, their personalities, their goals. Their ability to love and be loved.

My characters are lucky that they have a strong network of peers and co-workers pulling for them. A whole crew willing to overlook their weaknesses, make allowances for their irrational behaviours, encourage them, eventually force them into formal treatment. These understanding and loving people give the PTSD sufferers a reason to look to the future, they will be there for them on the sunny side of the ordeal.

It is only when Katrina realizes she is on the brink of losing her career, her sanity, her freedom-- the love of her life-- that she finally agrees to take steps to end the pain. 

In the sequels to FIREWALLS, Katrina goes on to become a very successful and powerful woman. All people with PTSD should realize they, too, can have a bright future. The world needs their talents. Their love. Their ideas, caring, creativity.  If only they can agree to release the pain that’s binding them to the past.  If only their loved ones will stand by them, encourage them, accept them, understand them until they’re ready to do take that step toward freedom.

FIREWALLS: Dedicated to those struggling with past traumas and to their loved ones who share their pain.

Some recent PTSD headlines:

Pot-smoking Mountie can't smoke publicly in uniform

Pot-smoking Mountie Ron Francis charged with assault

 A warrior's rise  - Lt.-Col. Chris Linford and wife Kathryn shared their story of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a serious problem, says RCMP's top cop in N.B.

Military suicides sadly familiar for Windsor vets, family

Monday, December 02, 2013

You Write This Great Book, and Then... have to let people know about it.
Honestly? Yuck.
I'd rather people see the title (A LETHAL TIME AND PLACE--now, isn't that compelling?) and say to themselves, "The '60s? Murder? Plot twists? I have to own that book!"
But no. There are thousands of books and authors out there, clamoring for readers' attention.
So authors do stuff--promotion stuff.
*We do pre-release buzz: Little blurbs all over the place that say, "Hey, this book is cool and unique and you've heard of this woman if you're a mystery fan. She's gotten awards. She's gotten great reviews from all the big guys."
*We do specials. Amazon has a new thing: Kindle Countdown, and A Lethal Time and Place is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 3rd. The idea is that you get the book for 99 cents for the first few days of the sale, then the price starts to slide upward to its original amount. I guess the message is "HURRY! BUY IT NOW!"
*We do more. Announcements. Blogs. We beg for reviews (Please, just 20 words! You can do that!). We Facebook, Tweet, Goodreads, and onward. We get our name out there. We get our book's name out there.
But honestly? Yuck. I'd rather be working on the sequel.

Monday, October 21, 2013

How Much to Tell the Reader

A book has an intriguing subplot. It's cool. It's satisfying. It's unique.
So how much do you tell the reader?
When I introduced my Dead Detective Series, I thought it was essential to keep the fact that the main character was dead a secret until the reader got to know her a little. Not so the reviewers, who started with that, thrilled with the idea of dead people investigating crimes in order to provide answers for victims. The book got EPIC's Best Novel of 2012, despite the fact I thought the reviews spoiled the surprise for readers.

I'm about to send my next project into the world, A LETHAL TIME AND PLACE (December). It, too, has surprises, though they have nothing to do with the Afterlife. The lead characters have secrets, and it's obvious from the first they're desperate to protect them. That becomes difficult when they witness a murder and take in a young orphan. Murder will out, as they say, and secrets are hard to keep with a teenager around.

I'm having a little difficulty writing the promo copy. How do I get across how enjoyable the process of finding out about these people is without giving away the very things the reader will want to read the book for? I guess it's a good problem to have--so much mystery in the mystery!

I'm looking for reviewers who'd like a free e-copy, so contact me if you're the reviewing sort and this book sounds like something you'd enjoy. or find me on Facebook

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Discovered Talent

A funny thing happened on the way to promote my cluetrail writing class Mystery Bones. I teamed up with a friend who is promoting it for my and I swear this women has a killer talent. She's found an archive of old photos and is able to rattle off scenarios as they run down her fingers and escape via the keyboard onto the screen. Here's a sample of her stuff below. And oh yeah - if you're in the Canmore AB area on November 2 and 3, sign up for my class.

The building was old and well used, and finally slated for demolition. Parts of the brick fa├žade were crumbling away, and the memory of onions, garlic and spices mixed with the smells of dust and mildew in the hallways. Old mattresses and piles of trash said the building was now a refuge for the homeless and characters of ill repute.

This did not discourage the two men who entered the building that day. Climbing the stairs to one of the higher floors they found the elevator doors open, and the elevator itself above them. They leaned in, curious to view the inner workings that few get to see.

Suddenly something large and hard hit them both in the back, sweeping their feet from under them and sending them both to their deaths in the bottom of the concrete pit.

Why was the elevator door open? Why was the elevator above them? What or who hit them, causing them to lose their balance and fall?

Learn how to lay a clue trail and plot a murder at the Mystery Bones Workshop – Canmore – November 2 & 3. Visit
for more info.

And stay away from open elevator shafts.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In the Company of Others

I went to the Kerrytown Book Festival last weekend, and it was amazing. Not only did I share a table with three other authors (Patricia Batta, W.S. Gager, and Susan Froetchel), but I touched base with others, like D.E. Johnson. I talked briefly with publishers about how their business is going (they claim it's great) and with a bookstore manager who works very hard to get the festival ready every year (Robin Agnew of Aunt Agatha's).
It probably doesn't sound like much to some--a little conversation, a recognized face--but for an author who lives in (choose one) God's country or the Boondocks, it's wonderful to talk with people who know the kind of crazy I am. I know Bouchercon isn't going to help me sell hundreds of books, nor is Magna Cum Murder next month. I don't go for the sales. I go to connect with others in the industry, so I don't feel so all alone when I come back to this office and sit here thinking, "This book will never get done," or "This book is awful," or even "I should give up."
We all face the same trials. We all help each other through it. Book events are kind of like church for authors.

Friday, September 06, 2013

You find a body...then what?

Crime scene investigations

Although coming across a crime scene is probably not on most crime writers’ wish lists, it likely tops their “What would I do if...?” lists. Of course, me being the person I am, had to take that supposition one step farther and attend an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) presentation on what to do if one stumbles upon a crime scene...just in case. Because, for sure, I’d want to do everything right...and solve the case.

In the event that I never stumble across a crime scene, this information could prove useful should one of my characters uncover a murder. Although I write crime fiction, I’ve yet to make use of this info.

There was a gruesome gang slaying in THE TRAZ but I never wrote the scene where the investigators showed up. In FATAL ERROR crime are mostly cyberspace crimes, luring and fraud and such, and what one does when one stumbles on virtual crimes is a different story...that I might write about some day.

I attended that RCMP presentation some time ago but what brought it to mind was a recent news story about a collision between a vehicle and a tanker truck. A heroic construction crew dragged victims from the burning car and then with their heavy equipment pushed the vehicle into a pond to douse the flames that they were worried may set the tanker on fire.

“There goes that crime scene,” was my first thought, heroics aside. Pretty hard to investigate the collision once all that happened. On second thought, if everything had burned to cinders, the investigation would have been just as difficult. Perhaps.

Thankfully, in Canada saving lives actually does come before preserving evidence. First responders will save the guilty along with the innocent and destroy all evidence of wrong-doing if necessary to make their rescues.  However...

The cops do ask all those who arrive at a crime scene (or accident scene) ahead of them, to do what they can to preserve the integrity of the scene.

Step one is to ascertain it safe for you to be there. This is something the professionals do instinctively and quickly, observing, analyzing, calculating the risks. Those of us untrained, might need a little longer and may need to get  a hold of our panic, horror, or other intense reactions before making that decision.

If it’s safe for you to be there, don’t touch anything, kick anything, move anything unless necessary. On your way to assist the fallen pedestrian, do not gather up her shoes and purse to lay beside her. (Apparently, Good Samaritans often do this.)

Next, if you must enter a crime scene, establish a pathway, make note of it and relay that information to those who arrive after you. If there is mud around, perhaps keep on the grass so as to not disturb footprints. If everyone follows the same path into and out of the scene, more evidence can be preserved. If you let the investigators know where you walked and what you touched, it will help them sift through the evidence they collect—they won’t be making plaster impressions of your footsteps.

And above all, I was told, after anyone—you, a victim or a perpetrator--leaves a scene, do all you can to prevent that person from re-entering it. I don’t fully understand the legal consequences of re-entering a crime scene but apparently the court feels this contaminates site evidence.

If you leave a crime scene to call for help, do not re-enter the scene (unless you need to in order to administer First Aid or such). Similarly, if a lady runs out of a house and tells you her husband is in the bathroom  dying from a stab wound, call for help, ascertain it is safe for you to enter, ask her to give you directions to the bathroom and convince her to stay away. Perhaps suggest she stand at the curb while you check things out, to direct the police and paramedics when they arrive.

Crime Scene Investigations is brought to you by

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