Archive | October 2014

An Endless Sea of Stars blog tour – Tabitha Davis

I’m honored to be Tabitha Davis’s first ever guest author at her blog! Many thanks for hosting me for my LAST STOP on my tour for my new m/m novella An Endless Sea of Stars.

Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride and for everyone who purchased my book!

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Police Academy – Week 5


Last night’s topic at my citizen’s police academy class was firearms and firearm safety. Yes, we got to play with guns. 🙂

First thing we went over were the types of weapons that our police department uses:
• Smith and Wesson (Sam? Dean? Is that you? *g*) .38 revolver
• Glock G17 semi-automatic 9mm pistol (#1 gun for law enforcement in the entire U.S.)
• Remington 870 shotgun (going by the wayside, mainly used for blowing apart doors now to gain entry)
• AR-15 semi-automatic rifle (accurate up to 500 yards)
• Remington 700 sniper rifle .30 (politically correct term is “police marksman” not “sniper”)

Three of the guns were there for us to look at and handle – the revolver, the AR-15 and the sniper rifle. What I found surprising was that you think of revolvers as this little gun, but this thing was more than hefty and quite large. And for the AR-15 being mostly plastic it was darn heavy! Loved the sniper rifle because it reminded me of my own .22 rifle that I own. But with a much more wicked scope!

We also went over the FOID cards (Firearm Owner Identification) of which I have one myself. Illinois is now a “concealed carry” state and some people mistakenly think that the FOID card automatically grants you that privilege. No, you have to go through a 16 hour class and then apply for a concealed carry permit card. I for one am not happy that IL passed this law and I’m thankful that most of the retail stores/restaurants have it clearly marked that NO firearms are permitted on the premises. One guy in class has a concealed carry permit and he admitted that he rarely carries his gun because he can’t take it inside anywhere. Good! I don’t need to be grocery shopping next to someone with a .38 strapped to their side!

Next we went over firearm safety rules that all officers follow:
• Assume all guns are loaded
• Don’t point the muzzle at anything that you’re not willing to destroy
• Keep your finger off the trigger until you set your sights on your target
• Be sure of your target and beyond

Then there were the marksmanship basics:
• Stance (stand straightforward but not locked in position – always be ready to move)
• Presentation of weapon (don’t windmill your arm around pulling your gun out – it’s straight up and straight out)
• Grip (tight and high – gun can easily jam if you grip the handle too low – the recoil won’t eject the spent casing)
• Breathing (don’t hold your breath – shoot at the bottom of your breath as you exhale)

The last thing we did was watch several training videos that the new recruits go through. It’s called F.A.T.S. – Firearms Training Simulator. It’s where the officer stands in front of a large screen with a laser gun and must react to the situation presented to them (Shoot/Don’t Shoot senarios). I was bummed that we weren’t able to try this ourselves, as I did this in a previous class and it was amazing. It’s where I got the nickname Dirty Harriet for shooting one armed man in the head twice and another right in the groin. [snerk]

All in all another informative night! Next week is going to be great. We’re doing crime scene processing which will be hands on. Can’t wait!

An Endless Sea of Stars blog tour – Ilona Fenton

Continuing on with my blog tour for An Endless Sea of Stars, today I’m at Ilona Fenton’s blog.

Stop by to read a really neat interview she did with me and get to know me better!

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An Endless Sea of Stars blog tour – Carly’s Book Reviews

My blog tour for my new m/m sci-fi novella “An Endless Sea of Stars” continues today over at Carly’s Book Reviews!

Stop by for an interview with me, enter to win an Amazon gift card and read the 5 Star review!

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Romance Among the Stars: Guest post and excerpt from “An Endless Sea of Stars” by Jamie Lynn Miller

Many thanks to Sara for hosting me today!

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Sara Testarossa's Blog

Please welcome Jamie Lynn Miller to the blog today! She’s talking about her new m/m sci-fi release, An Endless Sea of Stars and her relationship with science fiction. There’s an excerpt from the novella, too, and all the info you need on where to get your own copy and follow Jamie online. Check it out!

Romance Among the Stars

Many thanks to Sara for having me here today to talk about my new novella, An Endless Sea of Stars. I’ve been a sci-fi fan since 1977, the year that a little film called Star Wars hit the movie screens. I was only six years old back then. While my friends wanted to go see Bambi I was begging my dad to take me to Star Wars. My mother thought I was nuts and refused to go, saying my dad was just wasting his money because I wouldn’t understand the movie…

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Police Academy – Week 4


It’s taser time! LOL! This week in my citizen police academy class we talked about Use of Force / Liability / Defensive Tactics

The first part on use of force and liability was a lot of information and a long Powerpoint presentation. It wasn’t boring, by any means. Two hours went by in the blink of an eye! But it was mainly focused on the different levels of force, the statues by which officers are held to and the legal ramifications/civil rights/liability issues in the aftermath. A lot of…definitions.

Here are a couple things of interest, though:

I liked this quote from our instructor: “Police work is not very pretty”   And it’s true. They see people on their worst days.

Some felons will paint the tips of their REAL guns bright orange to try and fool the officers that they’re carrying a toy gun to lower the officer’s guard so that they can then shoot them. That just makes me sick and so angry.

We all hear the terms “battery” and “assault”. Do you know the difference? “Battery” is doing actual physical harm to a person, usually with a weapon, but it can be your fists, feet, etc. “Assault” is an intent to harm, usually a verbal threat.

Illinois is a mandatory arrest state for domestic abuse. The victim does not have to press charges. The state does it for them and takes away the abuser if there is probable cause.

Then we moved on to Defensive Tactics. This was pretty cool. The instructor started off with showing us the proper procedure for handcuffing a suspect so that he can’t try and either pull away or use his arms or hands to assault the officer. Now I have tiny little wrists. So I asked if they use those zip-tie plastic cuffs in instances like that. He said that usually no, the regular cuffs will actually close down very small. Or they could possibly put both of my wrists in one cuff. At this point he then held the cuffs out to me and with a smile said, “Here, want to try?” Damn, I really wanted to take him up on it! LOL!

Then we had two officers demonstrate nearly a dozen different take-down moves. Some simple, some complicated. Now I know this was totally inappropriate, but being a slasher is hard-wired into my brain so I couldn’t stop the thoughts that popped into it. I SO wished I could’ve been taking pictures, because these two good looking guys were basically enacting every possible gay sex position you could come up with as they wrestled around on the ground and sat on top of one another, etc. The one officer even said, as he lay on his back with his legs wrapped around the other officer’s waist – “This is my favorite position”.   I swear to God! LOL! Yeah, I got more out of that section of class than anyone else, I guarantee it!

We ended the night with an impromptu demonstration of how a taser works. Class went late (we were already past 9:30 pm) but I didn’t care because this was pretty freaking cool. I mean, I’ve never been up close and personal when a taser gets fired. And it’s LOUD! It’s like this really big firecracker going off as the darts eject. And all this…stuff shoots out, too, like confetti. Everything took everyone in class by surprise and we all jumped.

Turns out the “confetti” is actually very small paper dots that have a number on it – the number of the taser. These little tiny pieces of paper are collected as evidence to show which taser was fired. Which I thought was kind of odd, since it’s completely obvious when one is fired since you can’t put the darts back in and you’ve got 25 feet of wire hanging out. So I didn’t understand the point of the confetti. The taser itself also has a mini computer that registers and records the date and time the taser was fired. Again, for evidence purposes.

The darts (which are larger and longer than you think) don’t actually have to penetrate your skin to work. They can snag in your clothes, too. It’s all about the “arc”. When the darts are fired they shoot out in different directions. Because they need distance from each other to work properly. If one hits you in the shoulder and the other in your leg, that’s perfect because the electricity now has a very large arc to run through your body. If the darts are too close together it’s not as effective. Oh, and if they do penetrate your skin? It hurts a LOT worse pulling them out than when they went in! And even though you can only fire the the darts out once, as long as they’re still attached to the person, the officer can pull the trigger as many times as needed to deliver the electric charge.

So yeah, another interesting, informative class! Next week is Firearms. Sweet!

4 Star review for An Endless Sea of Stars!

Another great review at Amazon – 4 Stars!

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4.0 out of 5 stars Reach for the stars! October 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I admit I was drawn in by the beautiful cover – and then I got involved in the story!
When dive instructor Toby meets his hero, Cade Flynn, the sparks fly right from the start. A feel-good love story, until – but I won’t spoil it for you! Well worth a read.

GayRomLit 2014 – the Good and the Bad – a Newbie’s Perspective

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Wow, what an interesting five days it’s been! I was attending the GayRomLit writers conference here in Chicago from last Tuesday night until Saturday night. It was the first of this kind of event I’ve ever been to and I came away with mixed feelings about it.

I was really hoping for workshop panels every day (like at the RWA Spring Fling conference), but those were only on the first day, and the majority of them were pretty basic, if you were just starting out as an author. So unfortunately I didn’t really get much out of those. Though I did enjoy the one on writing different POV’s.

Thursday was my busy day since that was the Supporting Author book signing and the Author Lounge. I’m totally kicking myself for forgetting to take a photo of me and my table set up to show you guys. I thought for sure I’d be sitting there for two hours and no one would even approach me, but it didn’t turn out like that at all. I was busy talking to people nearly non-stop and signing books and tote bags and even a few iPad cases! Had quite a few people compliment me on my book cover designs, which makes me happy since I’m the one who made them. 🙂  I talked to many people who weren’t familiar with my writing but who were interested. Always great to get new fans! I even sold some books! I didn’t quite understand the purpose of the Author Lounge (especially being directly after the book signing) but it did give me an opportunity to hand out my eBook sampler booklets. I printed 20 and only came home with six. So overall I’d say that Thursday was a success.

As for Friday and Saturday – I went to a couple of author Q&A’s and discussion panels but they nearly always strayed from what the topics were supposed to be, which disappointed me. Those that did stay on track I enjoyed very much. Especially the “Snark” panel with K.A. Mitchell, Jordan Castillo Price and Z.A. Maxfield. I totally fangirl’ed all over K.A. and Jordan in the Featured Author book signing. 🙂

For me, there was just a lot of downtime in general. Which for most of the people there it was a good thing since they were all in groups talking, catching up with one another. But since this was my first GRL and I’m fairly new to Facebook, I barely knew five people out of the 300 that were there. Thank goodness my friend Gina Storm Grant was there! We spent a lot of time together. 🙂  But it was nice to see gals from my local Chicago m/m book club. And I did make some new friends and got to talk to several reviewers who have hosted me on their sites, giving me the chance to say Thank You in person, so it wasn’t all bad.

I just felt like a fish out of water, you know? I’ve been so used to attending fan cons for the past 15 years and being so comfortable at them and knowing everyone that this was a new experience for me and I felt…adrift. But speaking of fans – I met two very well known Supernatural fanfic writers! One of whom is now a professional writer like me. It happened totally out of the blue simply because of a comment I said to that said writer when she was describing her latest book to me. She said it dealt with ghosts, etc and I’m like, “Oh I know I’ll enjoy it. Supernatural is my favorite TV show.” Her eyes got huge and next thing I know we’re having a major SPN fangirl moment! She then whispered to me that she writes fanfic and is on LiveJournal. When I said I was too she confided in me her LJ name. Out of respect I will not out her or her lovely friend that Gina and I spent time hanging out with and chatting sitting next to the fireplace. But you know who you are! [waves]

The best part about the conference were the parties on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday we had the Casino Night party where we were given $500 in play money that we turned in for chips. They had actual dealers there for poker, blackjack, craps and roulette. What was great was that the dealers were basically helping us cheat to win, since most of us had NO idea what we were doing! It was awesome and a lot of fun. Then on Saturday it was the Time Travel costume party. It was really neat to see the vast majority of people dressed up and the music was all from the 70’s and 80’s. Gina and I danced the night away!

Here are a couple of photos of us all dressed up for the parties:

Barb and Gina casino night      Barb and Gina costumes

At this point I’m not sure I’ll attend another GRL. I had major issues with the way the organizers treated the authors in regards to selling our books, all of which was sprung on us at the last minute. Had I known it all up front I never would’ve signed up as a Supporting Author and saved myself a lot of money. But in the end I am glad that I did go to at least experience what GRL was all about. And I didn’t have a horrible time. I really didn’t. I did meet people and sell books. I just learned that I’m more suited to a convention about TV shows and movies. 🙂

This entry was posted on October 20, 2014 and tagged . 4 Comments

Police Academy – Week 3


Last week at my citizen’s police academy was extra special because my good friend Gina Grant was down from Toronto for GRL and I got special permission for her to join us. And she had a good time and even asked questions! 🙂

The three topics we covered were: Traffic Stops / DUI Investigation / Radar Enforcement

Things I learned:

Two hazards officers face during a traffic stop: felonious assaults and accidental assaults. The first meaning the person the officer has pulled over attacks with or without a weapon and the second is that the officer is struck by an oncoming car by a motorist who isn’t paying attention.

We went over the different ways an officer can approach a car without being seen in the motorist’s side mirror until the officer is right next to them and also how officers set up their cars when they are pulling over a person suspected of a felony. We went outside at that point where a minivan and a police car were parked. A couple of people took turns being the “cop” and the “motorist”, running through different senarios of situations officers find themselves in when pulling someone over. Very enlightening!

Back inside we spent a lot of time on the DUI portion. Officers are scrutinized more on a DUI arrest than on any other type of arrest. You should see the paperwork! Takes them a minimum of 2-3 hours from start to finish on a simple DUI with no type of accident involved as well.

Two officers are always called for a DUI stops/sobriety tests, mainly for the officers’s safety in case the motorist becomes violent. Contrary to what people believe, the portable breathalyzer tests the officers perform there on the street is not admissible as evidence but is mainly used as probable cause to arrest the person.

At this point the sergeant giving the talk asked for a volunteer and I got picked! Man I was up in front of the class for a long time! LOL! He used me as an example of the different types of sobriety tests they give. And I found one of them pretty fascinating. We’ve all seen the police hold their finger up and tell the person to follow their finger with just their eyes, not to move their head. What they’re looking for is how much your eyes are jerking and WHEN they start jerking. They can tell how much you’ve had to drink by at what point from center your eyes start moving. It’s been scientifically proven to be almost as accurate as a breathalyzer test. I thought that was really cool.

Then he had me put on the “drunk goggles” which simulate how off your balance and perception becomes when you’re past the legal limit. OMG, that was freaking bizarre! He gave me a simple instruction to just turn and face him and even though to ME it looked like I was staring right at him I was totally wrong! Then I had to do the “heel to toe” test, aka “walking the line”. What a disaster that was! LOL! I took one step and almost fell over! He told me to not wave my arms around to use them for balance. Yeah, forget that! LOL! I’ve never been drunk in my life, and if that’s what it’s like, I never want to be!

The last thing we did was go back outside with the radar gun, which is actually a laser gun, which is extremely accurate, unlike a radar gun. We stood at the curb in front of the police station and clocked people going by. Most were well below the speed limit because honestly, aren’t you going to slow down when you see a bunch of people standing at the road, wondering what’s going on? 🙂  But we did get a few that were well over, which is pretty stupid seeing as you’re speeding right past the police station! At that point one of my classmates asked the sergeant at what point do they pull people over – going 5 mph over, etc? He said he’s extremely generous and will give people up to 12 mph over. Wow! That kind of shocked me!

Overall a really interesting night with a lot of hands on things, which is always great.