Exchange of Fire and Hands On Experiences with @PADePaul

As many of you may remember from some of my experiences, including this one, research has a way of happening in all sorts of interesting settings. What I love about authors is that they also find unique and interesting ways to bring their books together as well!

Speaking of…. I get soooo excited when I have an opportunity to introduce you to new things and new people. Especially fellow authors. Have y’all met P.A. DePaul? If not, you’re about to. And if so? Stick around. She’s got some cool stuff to share with us!

Hello Kitt!!! Thank you so much for allowing me to take over today and talk about how hands-on experiences have impacted my writing! Who am I?

Are you sure you’re not psychic…. because I was soooo about to ask you that question. 😉

So glad you asked! My name is P.A. DePaul and I’m the author of the Romantic Suspense, SBG series. Exchange of Fire, SBG #1 introduces a clandestine Black Ops team working for SweetBriar Group (AKA SBG), a corporation the rest of the world believes is an environmental company.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to gain knowledge about a topic is to experience it. Sounds reasonable, right? Common sense, really. But what if you write about a Black Ops team who run covert missions? Hmmm…now that simple sentence gets a little trickier. Enter the Writer’s Police Academy.

Oooh! I’ve heard about this. Another author friend of mine went to one this last year as well. Wonder if she was at yours? Anyway. Back to you. It sounds like things are about to get exciting!

For two years I’ve been able to attend this awesome academy (which is getting harder and harder to do since attendance is limited and its popularity is increasing). What is the Writer’s Police Academy (WPA)? Great question! To quote their website (because they define it best) “The Writer’s Police Academy offers the most hands-on, interactive and educational experience writers can find to enhance their understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics. This is a one of a kind event, featuring real police, fire, and EMS training at an actual police academy. Top instructors and experts!”

Now we’re talking! While I may not need every aspect in that definition for my SBG Series, I’m able to surround myself in a world where I would normally be shut out.

Now, as I said in the opening line, gaining knowledge through experience is the best way. In WPA, they offered Hands-on training. I can’t stress how valuable this was for me. In the two years, I got to perform building searches (you know, like on TV when the police are stacked outside a residence and they burst in and begin searching the home for the suspect), use a Glock in “real-life” simulations (the gun was modified with a laser “bullet” so when I hit the screen, I didn’t actually put a hole through it <grin>), put on the bomb suit and pass their “test” (the suit is over 80 lbs and they lay you on your back and you have to stand up without help…I did it! Wasn’t pretty, but I did it!), drive an ambulance in a specialized simulator to rescue victims, sit in a surveillance plane as the instructor described all the aspects regarding aerial searches, hand-to-hand combat where I disarmed “bad guys” of their guns and knives, and a self-defense class that allowed me to yell and curse at the top of my lungs while I beat the snot out of an assailant. Whew! And this is only what I participated in. There were so many more hands-on activities I just couldn’t get to.

What did all of this mean for writing the SBG series? Everything! Before I attended WPA, I could not fully describe any of the above situations. Sure, I could technically state the Glock was black but not how it felt in my hands or how nervous I was as the real-life scenario burst up on the screen and I had seconds to react or how I had trouble releasing the magazine because my hand was too small for the grip. All of this gave me so much more perspective. It allowed me to add emotion and a deeper description to every nuance of the scene. I also never would have been able to put on a bomb suit anywhere else or truly feel how claustrophobic that suit was and how heavy! I could go on, but I think you get my meaning. Having the hands-on experiences have helped me take my scenes to the next level.

Thank you so much for taking the time to experience one of the nuances of attending the Writer’s Police Academy with me! Do you have any questions? I’ll promise to answer almost anything (I have to put “almost” in there because I know you crazy (wonderful) folks can come up with some doozies, so I want to reserve the right to make up an answer for those).

By the way, I’ve got pictures to share with you guys, too!

Ambulance simulator and real-life EMT:

kitt photo 1
Me getting “suited up” in the bomb suit:

kitt photo 2Wow! Now that’s taking your art seriously. What an exciting class to take. Now I need to find an excuse to take a class like this, too! It sounds like such a cool experience. Soooo…. you gonna share with us a hint of how you brought all this together?

If you get a chance, you really should. As for bringing everything together, how about an excerpt and teaser? Heck, I’ll even throw in a giveaway opportunity at the end!

I’m totally good with that!

Exchange of Fire Cover

Intro:

In the following excerpt, our heroine, Wraith, and our hero, Casper Grady, have just escaped an assassination attempt when they were inside Wraith’s apartment. Wraith knows she needs to disappear and has to convince Grady to join her in order to keep him safe.

A little background: Wraith (sniper of Delta Squad) faked her death after her last mission went horribly wrong in order to escape SBG (or more accurately its CEO). The CEO got wind that she’s still alive and instead of celebrating, he sent assassins after her to rectify her still breathing status.

Blurb:

Faking her death was easy, living with her past is harder, but nothing is more dangerous than falling in love…

Sandra Walsh was a deadly sniper for the Sweet Briar Group, a covert agency with assassins for hire, until her last mission went horribly wrong, accidentally killing an innocent girl. Knowing she’s a danger to her team, Sandra goes off the grid, becoming a Shade—an agent declared dead but secretly hiding among the living. She intends to honor her vow never to pull another trigger or have contact with the spy world again. Until she meets Casper Grady…

Grady is a former Marine with a troubled past and a debt to pay. His life mission has gone from protecting the nation to helping local children and their families. The moment he meets Sandra, he knows there’s more to her than meets the eye, but he can’t help but be drawn to the mysterious femme fatale. And when Sandra’s past suddenly catches up to her, Grady is determined to protect her at all costs, no matter how dark and dangerous her secrets are.

As the danger increases, so does their intense attraction. But when they’re forced to choose between each other and the people they’ve sworn to protect, their growing love might not be enough to keep them together—or alive…

Excerpt:
[Grady] “So what’s your plan?”
Just like that, the spell was broken.
“We go underground.”
“I’m assuming you don’t mean that literally.”
“Unless you know of bunker in the mountains that still has an Internet connection, no.”
“What’s so important about the Internet? You jonesing for a sale?”
“Ha. Ha. I need to jump on a message board.”
He crossed his arms; the position just served to show off his biceps. She suspected that’s why he did it so much. He leaned on the back of the couch. “And?”
“And don’t worry about it yet. I really need you to pack. I’ll raid your kitchen for nonperishables.”
He didn’t budge.
Damn. The first part of the evening she couldn’t convince him to go away. Now she couldn’t convince him to stay by her side for his own protection? What the hell? “Time is not on our side here. We gotta go.”
He dropped his arms and stalked forward. She held her ground. Just watching him move closer had her adrenaline pumping and her skin tingling in anticipation. He stopped inches away, his height looming above her. So not the time to notice how full and inviting his lips were. Nor the time to breathe in his addicting scent and instantly be ready for him.
His gaze darkened as it captured hers. He raised a hand and traced a finger down her cheek. “Since you’ve made it clear time is of the essence . . .” he said, his voice low and husky.
Her heart skipped a beat. Damn her for that statement.
“I’ll make this brief.” He leaned down until he was a breath away from her mouth.
Her lungs stopped working.

Buy Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance | Goodreads | BAM | Kobo | iTunes

Giveaway:
PA is offering a tour wide giveaway of 5– $10 Amazon or B&N gift cards (winner’s choice) plus 4 e-copies of Exchange of Fire (sent via Netgalley). Just check out today’s post, leave a comment, and then fill out the giveaway widget!

Follow the Tour!

Be sure to check out all of the stops! Read fun,new content at each stop plus learn extra ways to enter the giveaway! For the main event page please visit… this page.

Author-PA DePaulAbout the Author:

P.A. DePaul is a multi-genre romance author including paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense. She originally hails from Carroll County and Baltimore County, Maryland, but also lived in Macon and Warner Robins, Georgia. She currently resides in a beautiful community just outside Philadelphia. Exchange of Fire is the first novel in the SBG series with the second novel, Shadow of Doubt, releasing April 2015

 

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Worlds Collide in a Winter Wonderland

The last month or so have been an adventure.

Yes, sunny Florida girl, yours truly…was sent off to the “Great White North” for three weeks between December and January for new day job training. And by GWN, I mean Syracuse, New York. Okay, so I’m a Chicago transplant to Florida. You’d think that would mean I’m used to winters, right?

Wrong!

Jaunty Hat

Winter Selfie in Jaunty Hat

I haven’t lived in a state that has winter since 1999. I didn’t really even own a “real” coat anymore. My sister had to shop for one for me up in Chicago. Because, you know, Florida sells winter coats in the dead of summer, then gets rid of the inventory. True story.

So the first week up there I realized the weather was bi-polar. I arrived to 50 degree weather. The next morning it was in the 20’s. Here’s a picture of me in my jaunty winter hat.

Yes, that’s snow in the background. Not only did the weather drop 30 degrees overnight. It also snowed…but it was a light, slushy snow and the weather was back up into the 40’s the following day. Like I said. Bipolar weather.

Wegmans

Definitely NOT a Castle

But there were some good things about not being overly cold. It enabled us to explore.

And thus my first Wegmans experience was born. Sadly, apparently it was nothing like it should be. I was told Wegmans looks like a castle and is an amazing place to shop.

As a girl who has Publix supermarkets every couple of miles, I’m not easily impressed. I was told that this particular store was a bit old and not in a great neighborhood, so not to hold anything against the franchise. It was not a “true” Wegmans experience. The store was dingy, the employees weren’t overly helpful….so I’ll trust my friends and reserve judgement. Still, a cherry popped while in New York.

Rockin the Boys

Cowboy Plane Selfie

But despite the cold, both the final game of the season and the first playoff game for my ‘Boys were going on. That meant I wore my Cowboy love quite literally all over my body.

Of course, the first person to taunt me?

The TSA agent. Before I even left Sarasota.

When hubby asked how I responded to the “Go Lions!” taunt, I told him I kept my mouth shut.

Let’s be real for a second…. No matter how much one might love their home team, how likely is a person to respond with a return taunt when the person calling you out is the TSA agent at the gate of the airport? While you’re being patted down…

Even I’m not that brave. Not after a friend of mine practically got cavity searched for forgetting she had a bottled water in her carry on luggage. Nope.

Cold Selfie

Bundled Up Selfie

But finally, January came to Syracuse…and brought me back into the cold. This time, sis had come through with a cute winter coat and hand knit scarf. By then, I’d gotten smart enough to buy boots and gloves. At home, such articles are only purchased for fashion purposes.

These were meant to keep my feet warm and dry. Utilitarian. What a novel thought, right? Well, maybe if you’re from the south.

And I discovered that gloves have come a long way! Now they have these little spots on the finger tips that allow you to work digital devices like touch screens without taking the gloves off.

Who knew?

Well, I do now. And I own a pair. A girl’s gotta stay on the cutting edge of technology, don’tcha know.

WindySnow

This is both wind and snow

I confess. I watched my weather updates on my phone like a hawk. When I started seeing sub-zero temperatures I admit it. I got a bit whiny.

And what’s with these reports telling us what it “feels like” outside? They calculate in the wind, etc. Do they really think that telling me that 0 degrees is going to feel like -14 degrees is going to encourage me to step away from the warmth of my hotel room? Eek!

Windy, Snowy Selfie

Windy, Snowy Selfie

I was just relieved that the couple of feet they forecasted didn’t come while I was there! The wind was bad enough.

You see the picture on the side? My hair was blowing sideways, and so was the snow! Yes, I found a way to keep my ears warm…. Unfortunately, I also forgot my jaunty hat at home this trip.

Just a little hint? That face is not my happy face. It’s my “damn, this is cold” face.

If it weren’t for a friend asking me to take snow pictures of myself and the weather, there’s no way I would’ve been out of doors for more than the short time it took to get from indoors to the vehicle, and back inside.

And, believe it or not, despite having not driven in snow in about 20 years, I drove in this weather. Yeah, I’m feeling pretty proud of that, too.

But none of that compared to the coolest experience of the trip, ever!

It had everything to do with this guy….

Meeting my friend, author Mark Bialczak

Meeting my friend, author Mark Bialczak

My friend, fellow author and blogger, Mark Bialczak braved the freezing cold (and I mean freezing literally) to come out to meet me for dinner. First, if you haven’t met Mark yet, you should check him out HERE. He’s a fun, engaging blogger and an all around great guy.

Syracuse guide

He remembered I love my sports, and was generous enough to bring me a copy of his book, also now a memento of my 3 week stay in Syracuse, and autograph it for me! How cool was that? He even teased me a bit about the book not being about my Cowboys!

Even better, despite the fact that the only place we’d interacted was online via our blogs, it felt like meeting an old friend. We never ran out of things to talk about. There was no awkwardness. Just a lot of good conversation and fun!

Have you ever met any friends from online? What was your experience?

Me? Talking Zombies? No WAAAAY!

But I am!

TheDeadSurvive

Okay, so you all know I’m not exactly the Walking Dead fanatic most people (including the hubby) are. Well, except for maybe Warm Bodies, Resident Evil (because who doesn’t like Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, or Wentworth Miller), and Army of Darkness (Hello! Bruce Campbell!).

But other than that? Nope. Not interested. To be honest, I don’t tend to like the gruesome or creeptastic most of the time.

But I love the creativity of my pal, author Lori Whitwam. So I thought I’d introduce her most recent work to you guys. Plus, she doesn’t only write zombies. It’s just her most recent release, The Dead Survive!

So check her out!

Loribackblurbclip

Here’s a little bit about my pal (and fellow dog lover), Lori.

Lori spent her early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found her and her husband moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, she fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. She will never leave, and if you try to make her, she will hurt you.

She has worked in public libraries, written advertising copy for wastewater treatment equipment, and managed a holistic veterinary clinic. Her current day job, conducted from her World Headquarters and Petting Zoo (her couch) is as a full-time editor for indie authors and small publishing houses.

Her dogs are a big part of her life, and she has served or held offices in Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees rescues, a humane society, a county kennel club, and her own chapter of Therapy Dogs International.

She has been a columnist and feature writer for auto racing and pet publications, and won the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Award for a series of humor essays.

Parents of a grown son, Lori and her husband were high school sweethearts, and he manages to love her in spite of herself. Some of his duties include making sure she always has fresh coffee and safe tires, trying to teach her to use coupons, and convincing the state police to spring her from house arrest in her hotel room in time for a very important concert. That last one only happened once—so far—but she still really, really appreciates it.

Where can you find her and follow her? I’m so glad you asked!

Lori Whitwam Official Author Website: http://www.loriwhitwam.com

Lori Whitwam, Author, on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/loriauthor

Lori Whitwam on Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/author/loriwhitwam

Lori Whitwam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ripleygold

Lori Whitwam on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4696047.Lori_Whitwam

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thanks for all the love & support this year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 48,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.