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How my day job inspires my writing by Alexis D. Craig (romance author and police dispatcher)

csi-miamiWhen I first started at police dispatch, ER was still on. As was Third Watch, NCIS, & CSI. I am a procedural junkie.

er2I love everything about them. Their formats, their crisis of the week, all of it, but what I love most are the ongoing, longterm character arcs. Seeing the life beyond the craziness of their daily grind.

ncis-tony-ziva-reunionPeople are fascinating creatures to me. I like to see & understand all the parts that go into the facade we show the world. What makes an elementary school teacher become a cop, what a hard-charging cop does to unwind. I like seeing who the characters are when they’re most vulnerable. The chinks in armor are what makes them more real to me.

And I approach my work this way, too. I’m all about the action, I love a good chase or fight scene. A countdown to an apocalypse that only the protagonist  can solve. But at the same time, I want to know what they read, what they drink, what makes their world a little more sane. Then my job comes in translating this understanding of them as whole people onto paper.

swatThe technical aspects of the job are the tricky part for me. It’s one thing to have a grand idea of a kidnapping and hostage rescue with all the bells and whistles. It’s something else when you try to write it and not sound like a goof with no idea of how any of that actually works. There are a ton of moving parts to any large operation and conveying them to the reader can be difficult if you’re not clear on it yourself. This where I’m truly lucky.

images-1The unmitigated bonus of 13 years in law enforcement is connections. All kinds of them, and for the type of writing I do, they’re priceless. You want to plan a siege of fortified building with SWAT? One phone call, and it cost me lunch one summer afternoon. Want to learn the finer points of homicide investigation? I have folks who’ve done nothing but hunt killers for over a decade. It doesn’t matter how outlandish the idea, there’s someone available to help you build the framework to make it happen.

820_dwayne-johnson-samuel-jackson-are-hot-rod-cops-in-the-other-guys-wife-289322900I wanted to plan a hostage situation/SWAT rescue for a story, so I called a friend, we’ll call him Anton. Anton is smoking hot eye candy in addition to being a great tactician & SWAT operator. We came out on the job at the same time, same district, but opposite sides of the radio. He let me pick his brain for 90 minutes at lunch, walking me through every scenario I could think of, even walking me through the finer points of shaped charges and explosive entry (he really didn’t need to be any hotter). Then after all that, he hooked me up with a hostage negotiator. I spent about two hours grilling him for info.

All that research and all it cost me was lunch. I love my jobs.

Give Me Shelter COVERLachesis Publishing author Alexis D. Craig writes sultry and funny romantic suspense (Give Me Shelter and Imminent Danger) featuring the brave men and women in law enforcement.  She also writes super hot erotica featuring sexy cops (Undercover Seduction). By day Alexis is a police dispatcher so she knows her cops!

You can get Alexis’s romantic suspense Give Me Shelter at Lachesis Publishing and on amazon.com, at Barnes and Noble and Kobo.

Connect with Alexis D. Craig on her website, and on facebook,  twitter and goodreads.

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The First Book I Ever Wrote  by JoMarie DeGioia (Regency historical romance author)

Image: www.reading-with-kids.com
Image: www.reading-with-kids.com

I’ve always been a storyteller. Every single report card throughout elementary school stated (alongside darn good grades, I might add) that I was a “chatterbox.” I didn’t just talk, though. I listened.

Even before going to school, when I was very little, I delighted in the stories told over and over again around the table. Think really big table here, since I grew up with a large extended family of talkative Italians! I soon began to relate my own stories, telling tales with embellished details. It was inevitable that I would want to write one of my very own. I did so at the age of ten. My very first book.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a ghost story and a romance
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir a ghost story and a romance

I came up with a story about a ghost. I don’t know why. I don’t remember being particularly fascinated with ghosts. I’d just seen The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, so maybe that had something to do with it. And this one was a hidden ghost, actually. He resided in a greenhouse behind an estate where two boys, best friends, had a sleepover. The kids were also around nine or ten years old, like me. The big house belonged to the family of one of the boys, and I know it was a very big house because in the story I pointed out that they had five telephones!

spooky greenhouse image: www.pinterest.com
spooky greenhouse image: www.pinterest.com

The ghost made several appearances over several nights before the boys discovered him. Thumps on the back porch. Shadows at the window. You know. The usual creepy stuff.

Now, the greenhouse was overgrown. Plants and vines choked it and snaked up its metal frame. Strange things happened during the day, too. Clay planters shattered for no apparent reason. Windows cracked or broke completely. And more shadows at the windows at night.

The boys explored the huge backyard, but couldn’t find anything to pin the mess on. They thought that maybe it was a raccoon. Or a pack of mice. When they discovered the truth, they could hardly believe it. It was a ghost!

Image: www.kidzworld.com
Image: www.kidzworld.com

It turned out that the ghost was that of a young man who used to live in the main house. An ancestor of the family. I think he might have died when he was going to meet his love in the greenhouse many, many years ago. I can’t remember exactly why he haunted the place, since I never wrote the reason, but the romance writer in me so wants that to be true! I do remember that he became friends with the boys. They had picnics with him, of all things. Played games. They even played hide-and-seek, which I stated was very easy for the ghost. So there was a happy ending of sorts. For the kids, anyway.

Image: www.flickr.com
Image: www.flickr.com

I’m very pleased to say that my mother, a voracious reader and lover of books herself, typed up my story for me and had it bound. On that fancy cream paper with the torn edges. I had illustrated it as well, believe it or not. I still have that book tucked in a drawer in my office.

Maybe one day I’ll rewrite this book to make sure that the melancholy guy in the greenhouse finds his happy ending. When I wrote the story I was a child, so I had no idea about attraction or devotion of the romantic kind. That sensibility would come a few years later when I started sneaking pulp romances from my mom’s nightstand. So, what do you think? Should I, ahem, resurrect, this story and give it a new twist? A proper, romantic ending?

A Hero and a GentlemanI know I can’t write it as a scary ghost story. Nope. No thrillers for me. I like a touch of mystery in my romances, though. Just look at my latest release, A Hero and a Gentleman, the first in my Gentlemen Undercover Series series from Lachesis Publishing. I call this my Regency Private-eye series, so you know there will be lots of cloak-and-dagger stuff and a pretty big mystery. So, no. This ghost’s story must be romantic. Something that flashes back to the twenties, with a Gatsby-like feel, lol.

Hey, I’m always up for a story idea, no matter where it comes from. Or when. Most of the time I don’t know where my ideas came from anyway. I’m just so grateful that they do!

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.14.41 AMJoMarie DeGioia is the author of the Dashing Nobles Series, which follows the love stories of four dashing gentlemen of the ton in Regency England and the Gentlemen Undercover Series which follows the stories of three brave investigators fighting crime in Regency England and falling in love of course.

You can get her books right here at Lachesis Publishing, or on Amazon, Nook, Kobo and Itunes.

Connect with JoMarie DeGioia online on her web site and on facebook and on twitter.

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