Tomato – To-mah-to; Tornado – Tor-nah-do!

Literature Blogs

You know the lyrics from the song: “You say ‘tomato.’ I say ‘to-mah-to.’” Well, around Battle Creek, it seems our song is, “They say ‘tornado.’ You say ‘tor-nah-do.’”

I’ll call it a storm for now.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, a storm came through our neighborhood. (Can it truly have been that long ago?) It hit two other neighborhoods in town as well, but people say our particular neighborhood got hit the worst. We haven’t gotten around to confirming it ourselves. But I do know that nearly every house in our formerly wooded neighborhood had huge trees crash into them, and cut tree trunks and shoulder-high brush litter our curbs. Also, only ten miles away is a Recreation Area (i.e., state park) where friends were camping over Memorial Day Weekend. The winds clocked there were only 15 mph. Our roads are now pretty much cleared for traffic, except when blocked by numerous trucks.

I first heard from a Canadian friend that she’d heard a tornado had struck Battle Creek, and were we okay? We were without home Internet for 12 days, so tornado was the word I was using, without realizing there were differing opinion. Since most of the trees lay in one direction, with winds coming from the southwest, ‘officials’ changed their tune and sang, “Nope. It was 100 mph straight-line winds.” I’m sure the terminology has to do somehow with money. But straight-line winds doesn’t explain one witness seeing three funnels over our neighborhood, nor another catching a funnel on tape, nor the fact that some trees tops were twisted off and flung far away, nor that a fishing boat ended up in someone’s swimming pool, and no one in his neighborhood owned a fishing boat.

I don’t really care what people call the storm. My guess is that it was both – 100 mph straight-line winds with at least one tornado. You know what? Semantics doesn’t really matter to us homeowners. Our house had two large trees crash through it. Both our house and yard will be a mess for a long time. A long time. At least there were no deaths. At least it isn’t winter. This is merely inconvenient. I can say that when I’m not giving in to emotional breakdowns, which hasn’t really happened yet, because I think that even two weeks after the fact, so many new things are happening around here that I’m still in shock, or at least in surprise.

This morning, I’m taking a break from the chaos around my abode. I’m attending a newly formed chapter of Sisters in Crime. I don’t really write mysteries, nor crime stories, but I think I need to huddle with fellow writers, and just talk about writing for a bit. I need to be somewhere where I don’t turn in a 360 degree circle to see things needing to be done in absolutely every direction. So, see ya, tor-nah-do area. Hello, blood and bad guys, and the heroes who take them down!

4 Agents and Michigan Sisters in Crime

Literature Blogs

Admittedly, the past two weeks were overwhelming with writing activities — that is, attending writing activities, not writing writing activities. It started with Miss Snark’s Secret Agent contest on Monday (I got my first 250 pages in for critiques — very helpful). Monday night WriteOnCon held a chat with three agents (interesting to discover their likes and visions for the future). I planned to get a post in on both those events, but sadly, like jokes, the timing is now past.

And then last Saturday, local writer Suzanne, hosted our first Sisters in Crime Michigan chapter (not counting the organizational one) with Bill Howe, a retired crime lab supervisor with the police department and currently the investigator for the county prosecutor’s office. I am not normally a mystery or crime writer, but, hey, these were local writers willing to get together right here in my home town, some coming from two hour’s away.  And learning new things is always interesting to me, especially if I can use some of the facts I glean to put into my fictional characters.

Bill’s presentation dealt with interviews and interrogation skills. Interviews are made with anyone involved, but interrogations are reserved for suspects. Bill addressed the importance of non-verbal communication, and that as one policeperson interviews the suspect, two others are watching the nonverbals. For instance, self-grooming or stalling to give answers (repeating the questions) are signs of deception. Bill explained how the eye direction of a right-handed person (v.s. left-handed) indicated truth or fiction. Interestingly enough, I learned that police are allowed to use trickery during the investigation. Sometimes the interrogator also uses sympathy, relating to the person and why they may have done such a crime.  Bill never felt good about doing this. In fact, it made him feel dirty. But if it got a confession by giving the suspect a way to save face (Bill: I can understand why you would ***. I feel like that all the time.”), it is a good interrogation technique.

The time with Bill passed in the blink of an eye. (Oh, no. Was I looking up and to the right, or down and to the left when I said that?) Will I ever use this information with my own writing? I don’t know. But now that I have it, watch out. I’ll be watching. Are you telling a truth or a lie? (Hee-hee-hee.)