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Guest post: Getting It Right (part 3) by Neil L. Yuzuk

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of getting your facts right is brought to you by crime novelist Neil Yuzuk who brought us Getting it right (part 1) and Getting it right (part 2) in October and November respectively.

Getting It Right (part 3 of 3)

How to get your facts straight?

RESEARCH – PEOPLE – RESEARCH – PEOPLE – RESEARCH – PEOPLE

Here’s another way to get information—talk to people. They love to share information and I promise to use their names in the books—they love it and they’re a great resource.

Reluctant KnightI met “Phil the Armenian” when we were waiting to be served at the deli counter and we got to talking. Phil is a Teamster. In my third book, “Beachside PD: Undercover,” Danny is going undercover as truck driver. Phil offered to help me and I told him that I would write him in as a character in the book, as Phil “the Armenian” O’Brien (Armenian mother and Irish father)—He loved it.

I needed “behind the scenes” information on TV broadcasting, so I called a former student, Basche Warner, who works as a cameraman/producer and we met for pizza. He brought along a friend of his, Jack Shipley, who is also in the industry and they briefed me for two hours on procedures and equipment. I ended up using just a bit, but I have it if I ever need it. They’re in the book as a combined character, Basche Shipley.

We have all of these people in our lives and in exchange for using their names as characters, they are more than willing to help. And, if you don’t know a cop or a truck driver, ask your friends. Two fellow authors helped me and now I have a police secretary named Morgen Dingli in my books. Morgen did a beautiful podcast of a short story I wrote and Ms. Dingli has been generous with her writing advice.

In “Beachside PD: Undercover,” Danny was shot. I brought that chapter along on a physician visit. My Internist read it and suggested inserting a chest tube for Danny’s collapsed lung. For the description of Danny in his post-surgical ICU bed, I turned to another former student who is a Nurse Practitioner and she helped me brush up the scene.

People love to tell their stories. I just received an email from my son’s lieutenant that he has more cases for my next visit. In “The Gypsy Hunter” I gave a big plug to his wife’s charity, Bit-By-Bittherapy.com. It’s an organization that uses horses to help people with special needs; their “Horses For Heroes” is for military veterans & their families. I used it to rehab a Seminole coed whose sister was murdered.

I met author K.B. Schaller (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0TkzdG2bbI) on LinkedIn and she was very generous in helping me be accurate when it came to the Seminole Tribe and its culture. She’s also helped me create a Seminole thread in the new book. In return, my son David designed a video trailer for her.

We are and can be resources for each other, the key is to keep it within reason.

There are real cases in the news all the time—use them. Learn about forensics, it’s a great case solver, often in unique ways.

Use the real detective TV programs to inspire your stories. I said “inspire” and not “copy.” On one program, there was an interesting case that was solved by finding a wristwatch at the crime scene. I liked the concept and took it several steps further, so in the end, I had an important sequence of forensic evidence to solve the case.

A warning about forensics, they are fallible. So much depends on how it’s gathered and how it’s interpreted. For example, a man was arrested for an act of terrorism where hundreds were killed, because his fingerprint was found at the scene in Spain. However, he was five thousand miles away in Colorado when it happened . . . and, he’d never been to Spain—never, ever.

If you’re writing about Bobbies and Blaggers—talk to the constables you might encounter during your day. Stopped for speeding? Try, “Officer, I’m so glad you pulled me over. I’m writing a book about police procedures and I was wondering if you could take the time to give me some tips on what Road Patrol officers look for, and what are the proper stop procedures.”

If that doesn’t work, ask to be arrested so you can see the inside of the stationhouse and experience arrest procedures first hand.

If this has helped, then Bob’s your uncle. If I can ever be of help, please let me know.

Oh wow! I’m in a novel… I’m famous. 🙂 What can I say? (usually a lot)… thank you, Neil.

Neil and DavidNeil L. Yuzuk (pictured right with son David) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Now retired after twenty-two years, as a SPARK Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor, he wrote Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight, after collaborating with his police officer son on a screenplay of the same name. The book was a finalist in the Global eBook Awards in the category of suspense / thriller.

The second book in the series is Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter and third book is entitled Beachside PD: Undercover. He has also written a screenplay: Fade To Light. Another book, Zaragossa: Fruit of the Vine is in the works.

Gypsy HunterNeil and his co-author son David are the authors of the Beachside PD series and their website is http://www.BeachsidePDBooks.com. You can also watch their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20e_i39GaQA and their print and eBooks are available at Amazon.com.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with memoirist, poet and fiction author Barbara Morrison – the five hundred and eight-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words). Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in ebooks, ideas, novels, recommendations, tips, Twitter, writing

 

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Guest post: Getting It Right (part 2) by Neil L. Yuzuk

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of getting your facts right is brought to you by crime novelist Neil Yuzuk who brought us Part 1 in October.

Getting It Right (part 2 of 3)

How to get your facts straight?

RESEARCH – GOOGLE – RESEARCH – GOOGLE – RESEARCH – GOOGLE

Even though I have police at my fingertips, eager to share their information and stories with me, I can’t bother them for every little thing. And sometimes I find things they didn’t know. I needed a revolver with a silencer, so there wouldn’t be any spent shells at the crime scene. I was told there are no revolvers with silencers—there are. I also needed information about automatic weapons and a sniper rifle and sight.

I found, through Google, an arms dealer who sold surplus Israeli weapons. They were perfect for Beachside PD’s new SWAT team. The arms dealer was more than happy to give me the information I needed and he described a revolver that took a silencer. His name? I only know him by “Double Tapper.” A double tap is killing someone with a .22 caliber pistol—two shots to the back of the head. The bullets rarely exit, they just bounce around inside the skull turning the brain into . . . you get the picture. I used the gun he suggested, a Smith & Wesson Combat Model 18, .22 LR revolver, in an assassination: ‘In one quick move, the gun was put behind Smithers’ ear, the hammer cocked, the trigger pulled once, twice and the sound of the two shots were reduced to pfft – pfft by the silencer. Smithers’ body spasmed briefly and then he was dead.’

I needed a second silenced pistol. More research took me from Google to YouTube and led me to the Nagant M-1895 revolver. It is an elegant weapon and was used widely by the Soviets during World War 2. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, it began to show up in the U.S. It worked perfectly in a murder attempt and was easily traced because of its unusual bullet shape . . . the sound of its firing mechanism—it sounds like a toy pistol without the bang. It totally muffles the explosion, but not the mechanism’s, click – click.

When I needed information about vineyards and wines—a subject I know nothing about—Google. But when I say Google, I mean spend long periods researching. Don’t go with the first thing you find. I contacted several vineyards who were more than willing to help and I also watched several TV programs on vineyards.

Here’s another bit of help. The only reason why I was able to get the Gypsy crime cases and stories for “Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter” was that I researched Gypsies before we met. When I told him that I knew where Gypsies originated, he folded his arms and gave me the, “I can’t wait to hear this piece of nonsense” look. I blew him away with the correct answer. After he picked his jaw up, he said, ”You are the first non-Gypsy I’ve met in almost twenty years, who knew that.” I won his respect by doing my research.

Do you know where the Gypsy people originated? Research it anyway, as you’re most probably wrong. In addition to the information he gave me, I continued research on Google re culture and customs, took two books out of the library and bought two more on-line at Amazon. My research lent authenticity to what I wrote. Here is a meeting between my Gypsy hunter and the hunted Gypsy’s father. The parenthetical remarks are not in the book, but for your information. ‘I was sitting in a back booth drinking iced tea when he came in. He spotted me and walked over a bit slower than usual. I offered him tea, and he asked for it in a disposable plastic cup. To use utensils that had been used by gadje (non-Gypsies) was marimé (a multi-use word, used here as forbidden). The Rom (Gypsies) consider the gadje as unclean and diseased. They had a lot of rules about cleanliness, but the disposable plastic cup and straw was kosher to his way of thinking—although, he was drinking tea with a gadjo (non-Gypsy).’

In “The Gypsy Hunter” I used photos of Gypsies (Google) when I needed to physically describe certain Gypsy characters. I also used an actual Renaissance Faire that is in Fort Lauderdale for a crime scene. I downloaded (Google) the map of the actual Faire grounds and was able to use it as a guide when I described the search for a missing Seminole Indian coed.

If the book reads authentic and believable, it comes from a lot of research.

GETTING IT RIGHT (the conclusion), out next month, will discuss how to use people in your research.

Thank you, Neil.

Neil L. Yuzuk was born in Brooklyn, New York. Now retired after twenty-two years, as a SPARK Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor, he wrote Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight, after collaborating with his police officer son on a screenplay of the same name. The book was a finalist in the Global eBook Awards in the category of suspense / thriller.

The second book in the series is Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter and third book is entitled Beachside PD: Undercover. He has also written a screenplay: Fade To Light. Another book, Zaragossa: Fruit of the Vine is in the works. Neil and his co-author son David are the authors of the Beachside PD series and their website is http://www.BeachsidePDBooks.com.

You can also watch their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20e_i39GaQA and their print and eBooks are available at Amazon.com.

Since Neil sent this guest piece to me, I learned that he and his family were badly affected by Hurricane Sandy and I understand they’re now staying with friends. We wish you well, Neil.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with biographer Gearoid O’Dowd – the five hundred and forty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
 

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Guest post: Getting It Right (part 1) by Neil L. Yuzuk

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of getting your facts right, is brought to you by crime novelist Neil Yuzuk.

Getting It Right (part 1)

Just the facts. ma’am. So what do you write, Neil, what is your genre?

An interesting question, that’s hard to answer. My Beachside PD series is a writing enigma:

They are Police Procedurals, but they go beyond that genre.

They aren’t Mystery Novels, but they have mysteries in them.
They are not Suspense Novels, but they are suspenseful.
They are not Thrillers, but they have thrills in them.
They are not Romance Novels, but they contain romance.

They are not Action Novels, but they have action in them.

Someone recently asked me, “You’re not a cop, how do you get it right? If a writer can’t tour a police station, how do you describe what it’s like inside? Do you go “Touching Evil” or “Law and Order;” “New Tricks” or “Inspector Lewis;” “Luther” or “Foyle’s War”?  Are any of those correct?”

The answer is quite simple, all are correct. You will find those examples and dozens more. It’s almost impossible to be wrong. The things that are consistent are:

1. There is usually a front desk sergeant (or officer) when you walk in.

2. There are temporary holding cells.

3. There are telephone operators/dispatchers.

4. There are locker/bath rooms.

5. There are desks for the detectives.

6. There are typewriters and/or computers on those desks.

7. There are all types of electronic equipment including fax machines, etc.

8. There are weapons lockers.

9. There are evidence safes.

10. There are people: police, support staff, bad guys, witnesses, etc.

If your police station contains the basics, take it wherever your story needs to go. Even without my list, you know what your police station needs, so write what you need. A wealthier department will have more toys and conversely, a poorer department will have less. Wealthy departments are rare. I have the inside track on police work, that most of you don’t have. My son and co-author David is a police officer in southern Florida.

For our series, I created a fictional small city, loosely based on the city where he works. How do you create a city, if you are not an urban planner? We have common knowledge about cities, we know what’s needed. However, your city can be new and shining or old and gritty—it depends on what does your story need.

Beachside is a city in southeastern Florida. It has streets, highways, nightclubs, strip malls, beaches, hotels, restaurants, garbage trucks, condos, a big mall, pools, a fire department, etc. Oh, and I threw in various national chains, CVS, Hooters, et al. I also used real restaurants in their real cities, when my characters travel outside of Beachside. Product Placement—I use real places and products all of the time; it gives a hint of authenticity. When I needed a unique restaurant with a signature dish. The dish was a beef chimichanga and I moved the restaurant, Casa Guadalajara, from San Diego to Beachside.

“Write the Truth”—That’s what Robert McKee wrote when he autographed his book, STORY, for me. I took it to mean get your facts right. Make sure you follow a proper timeline. Make sure your fiction is believable.

The original concept of “The Reluctant Knight” was “Schindler’s List with cops.” If Danny Phillips is going to change from a con-man and womanizing rogue, then it needs to be a series of events that change him from his arrogant ways. I refused to use “Deus ex Machina.” His final epiphany needs to be the result of a series of smaller ones, if it’s to happen, just as it does in real life.

Believability—when Danny has a concussion and broken ribs, he doesn’t leap tall buildings at a single bound the next day. If he was invulnerable, he’d be boring.

Timeline is important in keeping your story straight. You need to be consistent in your facts and characters. I read a novel recently where the author couldn’t keep facts about the characters straight. In three different places, three different reasons for a divorce were given as if each one was the only reason for the divorce. Other times information was presented as if it was new, when we already knew it. It was as if three different people wrote the book without consulting each other, ugh!

The key to getting it right is research and in parts 2 and 3 I’ll take you through some of my steps.

Thank you, Neil. I look forward to parts 2 and 3. 🙂

Neil L. Yuzuk was born in Brooklyn, New York. Now retired after twenty-two years, as a SPARK Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor, he wrote Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight, after collaborating with his police officer son on a screenplay of the same name. The book was a finalist in the Global eBook Awards in the category of suspense / thriller.

The second book in the series is Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter and third book is entitled Beachside PD: Undercover. He has also written a screenplay: Fade To Light. Another book, Zaragossa: Fruit of the Vine is in the works.

Neil and his co-author son David are the authors of the Beachside PD series and their website is http://www.BeachsidePDBooks.com. You can also watch their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20e_i39GaQA and their print and eBooks are available at Amazon.com.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with non-fiction and story author Bob Feller – the five hundred and ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 

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