Crime Scene Investigator & Author Offers Tips on Making Fictional Crimes Realistic

CSI for authors crime-scene-30112_640At the October meeting of the Maryland Writers Association (Howard County), John L. French, a crime scene supervisor for the Baltimore City Police Department, offered writers some tips on making their fictional crime investigations more realistic.

French explained that the phrase “crime scene investigation” coupled with what people see on the TV show of the same name has led a touch of confusion about what CSI do. In Baltimore City, as well as many other municipalities, the CSI staff aren’t police officers. They’re civilians who work for the police department. As such, they don’t interview witnesses, canvas the neighborhoods, or generally investigate the crime. Detectives and officers do that kind of work. While CSI folks are investigators of a sort, they are tasked with investigating only the scene and the clues it has to offer. Continue reading “Crime Scene Investigator & Author Offers Tips on Making Fictional Crimes Realistic”

Getting It Right: U.S. Military – Service Uniforms

kathy rowe bdusOur last episode discussed combat uniforms. Today we move on to my least favorite uniform: service uniform. Okay, I joined the Air Force so I could wear camouflage. I’ve always thought it was cool looking. And in my 20 years, I wore it a lot — and loved it. But when it came time to “dress up,” I was less than excited. Military service uniforms have a reputation of being ill-fitting, hot, uncomfortable, and downright costly.

Most services have three variations: a service uniform, a service dress uniform, and a mess dress uniform. What’s the difference, you ask? It all depends on how formal you need to look. A service uniform is considered “office” type clothing. You wear this uniform when working in non-dirty jobs like personnel and admin, finance, and public relations. The basic uniform consists of a hat, shirt (short or long-sleeved), nametag, tie or tab (sometimes optional), slacks (trousers), belt, and dress shoes. Depending on the branch of service, you may be required to wear your ribbons on a service uniform. Most services other than the USAF call their service uniform “Class B’s.” Continue reading “Getting It Right: U.S. Military – Service Uniforms”

Getting It Right: U.S. Military – Combat Uniforms

Last month we covered personnel, customs & courtesies, and some drill. If you missed out on that post, you can find it here. This month we’re going to cover combat uniforms. There’s probably nothing more annoying (from a prior service standpoint) than reading a book where the author has obviously not taken the time to research the various uniforms the U.S. military has employed. Over the years, combat uniforms have changed. And the services have a multitude of clothing to suit just about every environment.

OD FatiguesSo, let’s say you’re interested in writing a Vietnam-era war novel. You know, something along the lines of Forrest Gump or Platoon. Most of your character’s time will be spent in the bush. So what did they wear during combat? Combat forces (all branches) were outfitted in what was called “fatigues.” They were simple OD (olive drab) uniforms that were intended to resemble foliage found in most temperate regions of the world. Soldiers would enhance their uniforms with dirt, soot, dust, mud, and sticks of foliage stuck here and there to help break up their outlines. These are the predecessors to what became BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms). The OD duds were used in 3 wars until the BDUs replaced them. Continue reading “Getting It Right: U.S. Military – Combat Uniforms”

Getting it Right: Recognising a Crisis Part 1

minMeet Minnie. She ruled my household for the last three years of her life and here’s how she adopted me.

I had a part-time job back then, teaching people how to use Lifeline’s emergency call buttons. You might have seen the ads, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!!” Yes, those things. It was a nice job as jobs go; you helped people a lot but you also walked into many a family meltdown — as the reality of someone’s increasing vulnerability hit home.

This particular day, I’d walked into a displacement activity. Mum had just been told she was officially palliative, which came as news to the adult kids. They’d had no idea she was ill. Everyone was struggling to take in the news and they coped by worrying about the cat. Continue reading “Getting it Right: Recognising a Crisis Part 1”