I have a WIP. Not unusual here at Crimespace, with everyone either in the middle of one, or planning one out. It's just unusual for me, since it's my first. And this first novel-writing stuff is for the crazies...luckily I lean towards insanity to start with, so it's a pathway I'd venture towards anyway. But I tend to be a bit shy. I have a lingering fear of appearing an idiot, so I tend to keep my mouth shut rather than put myself out there. Until you get to know me. Or put me at the anonymous keyboard. I became instantly aware of my lack of knowledge of police procedures as I started to put this story down. And I've come to the point where I need the help. But the idea of approaching a station, like a complete maroon, was intimidating. Then I remembered my sister's boyfriend. Ex-cop, now arson investigator, former partner to 2 women cops. Ideal. Yesterday I gathered up my courage and approached him. And BAM! He was thrilled to become my first source ever. He has read my short stories and has already become a fan of sorts, so we plan to have a good home cooked meal, then the 2 of us will ditch the spouses and talk shop. Easy-Peasy...this time around. So how do I start to find these sources without having the family advantage? What do you guys do? Do you just march in, introduce yourselves as writers, and say, "Hey, I'm writing a book, may I pick your brain?" Are there public relation liasons that you contact first or do you just approach a desk sargent or and hospital receptionist? What sort of reception do you get? Does it depend on what type of group you approach? Are there times you may just volunteer some help and keep ears and eyes open and not annouce your intention, especially if the group could be less receptive to a writer among them? Is there an average amount of time you spend with a group or individual or do you just try and sense their tolerance points? There is only so much research you can do on the Net before you need that personal experience. Stuck in the mountains, having to work at jobs while writing limits, time for me. So trips to Denver to seek this help will be time-consuming. But not a problem. You do it for the WIP. So, I guess, here I am, seeking sources on seeking sources, from the Barflys. Thanks for the help you guys, drinks are on me!

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Comment by DADavenport on April 11, 2007 at 2:32pm
Great tip, Steven. One I hadn't thought of. LMAO about the Cornwell sentence. Very funny!
Comment by Steven Torres on April 11, 2007 at 1:25pm
I also have family members who were or are police officers. There is also a Criminal Justice department in the community college I work for and the professors were cops.

For the most part, however, I've avoided the level of detail that would force me to rely on research beyond these sources and the internet. Even when I have done research and know the details, I usually find they get in the way of the story - clutter it up.

Whenever Patricia Cornwell writes "she pulled her Sig Sauer P229 out of her dark Moroccan leather hip holster..." I roll my eyes and thanks God I'm not her...for those lines. The royalty checks would be sweet though.

Anyway, about sources - any college with a CJ department would have professors happy to talk (in fact, the college probably has a list of speakers ready to talk about different subjects - usually this is for the media, but no doubt they'd be happy to talk to you.) That's my tip. Ask a professor.

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