Can Being Barefoot Improve Your Writing?

bare_feet_in_grassYou know that exhausted and tired feeling after a long day of standing on your feet?  You come home and immediately kick your shoes off and peel off your tired old socks.  Ahhh, now that’s relief.  You even feel a little bit lighter and brighter in spirit – perhaps a spring in your step.  There’s nothing better than pressing your bare feet into a plush carpet or thick grass.

It’s been no secret that when I write my novels, I’m barefoot.  Why you ask?  The only answer I can convey is that I like it.  I feel more relaxed and ideas seem to flow easier.

Once something grabs hold of my curious mind, I can’t seem to let it go until I’m satisfied with the answer.  I began to think about the “barefoot syndrome” and here are a few things that I found out that I wanted to share.

There’s actually a society called Society for Barefoot Living founded 1994 with over 1,400 members from around the world.  Here’s a quote from their homepage, “Set your feet free and your mind will follow…”

According to an article written in the New York Magazine, we walk wrong and we’re hurting our feet by wearing shoes.  This immediately caught my attention and I probed a little bit further in this phenomenon to find out exactly why.

 “Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person,” wrote Dr. William A. Rossi in a 1999 article in Podiatry Management.

There are definite health benefits to going barefoot.  I was amazed to find out that my quirky writing habit actually has some scientific merit to it.  Think about all of the cultures and martial arts disciplines that involve being barefoot.

Kicking off your shoes can actually:

  • Keep your feet properly exercised, agile, and in shape.  Stronger feet help to make a stronger body.  Wearing shoes can actually make your feet lazy and potentially increase the risk of injury.
  • Fight varicose veins by improving circulation.
  • Relax the body and mind.  It changes the mindset that we associate when we’re wearing shoes.

I don’t know if I’m ready to toss all my shoes for the barefoot lifestyle, but I do know that when I’m writing I feel more relaxed and ready to take on any challenge with ease.

What do you think?  Are you going to go barefoot more often?

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Research and Writing Tip:

Situations involving feet are something that most writers rarely think about incorporating into a storyline. I can think of a few storylines where feet or shoes made a lasting impression. Take the movie DieHard for example, John McLean had to deal with being barefoot while fighting the bad guys in a high-rise building. Do a little research on feet ailments or the benefits of different kinds of shoes. Maybe a hitman character has plantar fasciitis, or a supporting character has difficulty finding a shoe in his/her size, or a love interest has an insatiable foot or shoe fetish. Do a little research – and have fun with feet. All of these little details give characters more depth.   

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The Bystander Effect and What it Represents in Society Today

BarfightIn my Emily Stone Series, my protagonist is a woman who has made the decision to get involved when she knows a crime is being committed. Emily Stone uses her intelligence, her intuition, and a few helpful pieces of technology to track the most dangerous predators in our society. She does all of this work anonymously, and forwards the evidence and entire investigation for the local police department before moving onto her next case.

What about people who make the decision NOT to get involved? We have all read or heard about instances in which horrifying crimes were taking place and bystanders did nothing to stop the violence. There was an incident in which a teenage girl was gang raped for more than two hours outside of her high school homecoming dance in Richmond, California. More than two dozen people witnessed the attacks and did not bother to call the police. The media reports were everywhere—what is wrong with our young people today that they can be so callous and apathetic when a heinous crime is being committed in front of their very eyes? There have been many of these cases reported, including a famous New York case of Kitty Genovese.

The decision to not get involved when you see a crime taking place is known as the bystander effect, which is broken down in two major factors. It is a term developed within the field of social psychology and it refers to the hesitancy of a person to take action during an emergency situation when other people are present. Sometimes, we assume that another person will help, especially when the situation is chaotic. In other instances, the bystander effect can occur because we are waiting to see how other observers react and, as a result, no one acts at all. This behavior represents the need to act in a correct and socially acceptable way.

Doesn’t this really mean that we all should take responsibility? Everyone should have an idea of what should be done in case you are in need of assistance or if someone else needs our help. If you take the bystander effect in another perspective, wouldn’t it be the same if you see anything that is wrong, i.e. work related, school, politics, etc. that we should step up? Are we becoming a society of victims suffering from the bystander effect?

Do you know that you would act if you saw some being violently attacked?

Are there circumstances in which you would hesitate?

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Research and Writing Tip:

Think about a bystander effect situation that you have personally witnessed or have seen in the news. Dissect it and make a list of everything that happened. Use key descriptive words to describe the event. Make a list of things that you want to research further: such as psychology, crime stats, penal codes on specific crimes, etc. You will then be able to incorporate a portion of the bystander effect or the entirety into your novel.

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New Book Release: DARK PURSUIT, An Emily Stone Thriller #NewRelease #Crime

DarkPursuit***OFFICIAL BOOK RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT***

From the International Award Winning EMILY STONE THRILLER SERIES comes a new serial killer crime novel: DARK PURSUIT

Synopsis:

Vigilante detective Emily Stone EmilyStone_Stills_009has covertly hunted down killers and closed more serial cases than most seasoned homicide cops combined.  Her exceptional profiling skills and forensic techniques, along with deductive crime scene investigations, have made her a compelling force that cannot be beat.

She has reached her ultimate breaking point and now must face her toughest opponent yet – her fears.EmilyStone_E

EmilyStone_Stills_008With preciseness, the Tick-Tock Killer has taken his next child victim and promised to dump the body exactly four days later, mocking police and the community. Stone struggles to balance her inner demons and ghosts from the past, against the wits of a brutal and cunning serial killer in an all-out battle of psychological warfare.

Can Stone save the next child in time? DARK PURSUIT is an action-packed cat and mouse game that will take you to dark places rarely explored.

Available NOW on AMAZON KINDLE:

US Amazon Kindle

UK Amazon Kindle

COMING SOON to PAPERBACK and ADDITIONAL E-READER FORMATS!

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Writing in the Moment

A few years ago, I discovered the term “mindfulness” and incorporated it into my everyday life.  It has help me to combat my anxiety issues.  It basically means what it implies.  On one level it means paying attention to details of what’s going on around you at any given time, but on a much deeper level it brings your conscious awareness to a “moment-by-moment” basis.  It’s where you pay attention to what’s happening right now, but in a non-judgmental way and allowing things to be what they are to you.

Writing is a demanding, but absolutely a fulfilling profession.  I’ve found myself taking part in standard Yoga stretches to ground myself and begin my day.  I’ve recently taken it a step further by using the meditation technique to mindfulness to de-stress and balance my mind and body.  It’s been quite effective and I look forward to it several times a week.  I highly suggest checking out Mindful Yoga on a CD or DVD.

I wanted to take the “in the moment” or “mindfulness” into my writing.  I’ve finished my fifth Emily Stone Novel, where the term “thriller” is taken to new levels as she chases after serial killers and she sometimes gets too close to them, almost feeling their breath or touch.  By taking an experience along with emotion and observation, you can build a thrilling scene.

As I’ve briefly outlined my chapters and scenes, I’ve found myself creating the suspense and tension of the storyline.  I take a moment to view things from Emily Stone’s perspective of “in the moment” techniques.  It gets the writing juices flowing.

For example, she’s found a new clue that can track down the killer.  What does she do?  How will she move forward in a moment-by-moment way?  I break down the scene into action/reaction from beginning to end.  The beginning is when she finds the clue and the end is the result I want her to accomplish.  What are some of the observations, emotions, and details she can accomplish in this particular task?

Take this writing task a step further into your own day.  Write the “in the moment” observations of a typical day for you.  Create a scene when you run errands, watch your favorite movie, or take a lunch break with a friend.  Write everything down that you observe.  What are the moment-by-moment actions that happen?

I’ve found that by writing in the moment, you discover not only things about yourself but also about your characters in your stories.  The next time you feel that little procrastination bug nipping at you, pull back, and write in the moment.

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The Art of Impression Evidence

There is no branch of detective science that is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps”, simply stated by the fictional detective character, Sherlock Holmes, from A Study in Scarlet written in 1881.

How important is impression evidence?

The shortest answer, it is extremely important to any crime scene investigation.

I find the various types of impression evidence to be a fascinating study in crime scene investigation.  This is the one area, with exception to the study of the psychological aspect of a criminal, which really piques my forensic interest.  Impression evidence comparison is based upon the details of the particular object of interest that can be examined for distinctive and unique details.

Various impression evidence left behind at a crime scene is similar to fingerprint evidence in that it is in two or three-dimensional form. The most common types of pattern evidence found at a crime scene are footwear and tire track imprints and impressions.  Footprints or tire tracks can lead investigators through the actual path that the criminal took, to finding secondary crime scenes, and even indicating the criminal’s height, or whether they were running or walking.

It is imperative that the crime scene detective be attentive and mindful of not disturbing any of these types of important impression evidence so that each clue can be documented, collected, and preserved.

What falls into the impression or pattern evidence category?

  • Footwear Imprints/Impressions in dirt, mud, or snow
  • Tire Track Imprints/Impressions in dirt, mud, or snow
  • Bite Marks found on a victim or food items
  • Lip and Ear Impressions
  • Fingerprints
  • Glove Prints
  • Tool Mark Impressions from prying, breaking, cutting, and scraping a surface
  • Shoe Impressions
  • Barefoot/Sock and Foot Impressions
  • Contusion and Abrasion Patterns
  • Fabric Impression/Transfers
  • Various Typed Documents

Imprints are two-dimensional markings that have only length and width; they are usually made in residue, such as blood, dust or mud and can either be positive or negative markings.  Impressions are three-dimensional markings that have length, width and depth. They are most commonly found in soil, sand, or snow and are negative markings.

The most common methods of collecting, documenting and preserving impression evidence includes the various processes:

  • Seizure of a particular item (e.g. doors, window glass, sections of flooring, etc.) containing the imprint/impression.
  • Photographing the imprint/impression at the scene utilizing special photographic and lighting techniques.
  • Making a cast of the impression using various casting materials and methods (e.g., dental stone, plaster of paris, or paraffin wax).
  • Lifting imprints using appropriate materials and equipment (e.g. rubber or adhesive lifters, Electrostatic Dust Lifter, fingerprint dusting powders, etc.).
  • Enhancement of particular areas to develop latent or low quality imprints using various chemicals and alternate light sources.

In 1968, James W. Osterburg, author of many criminal investigation textbooks wrote this in his preface of his first edition of “The Crime Laboratory, Case Studies of Scientific Criminal Investigation”, wrote “The adaptation of science to the needs of the law seems an obvious step that must be employed to assist in the administration of justice.  However, with the exception of medicine, only in recent times has science been enlisted to enlighten the problems of investigation and proof in criminal law.”

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Book Trailer Love Fest Needs Your Vote!

Book Trailer Love Fest 2Show your support of over 30 authors including USA Today bestsellers by voting in the first ever Book Trailer Love Fest. Watch the trailers, vote in the polls, and share the contest with your friends! The voting is live from February 15th to February 22nd. Winner will be selected on the February 23rd. This is a fun, free contest made to support all authors! So hop on over to booktrailerlovefest.com and get your vote on!

Vigilante Detective Emily Stone is proud to be a part of this great line up of book trailers and would LOVE your vote!

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Here is a list of authors participating in the contest:

USA TODAY Bestselling Authors:

DelSheree Gladden

Noree Cosper

Rainy Kaye

Angela Fristoe

Amazon Bestselling Authors:

Devorah Fox

Alesha Escobar

Emerald Barnes

Fiona Skye

Frank E. Bittinger

Award Winning Authors:

J. Andersen

Jennifer Chase

Also featuring these fabulous authors:

Charles Ray

Jennifer Fisch-Ferguson

Susan Laqueur

L. Bachman

J.R. Smith

Lindsey L. Loucks

Sessha Batto

Angelica Dawson

Yolanda Renee

Katherine Jean Pope

Jamie Marchant

Everett Robert

Charity Tober

Tam Linsey

W K Pomeroy

Jordan Mierek

Elle Boca

Isabella Tredway

Elle Jacklee

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Forensics and Criminology: How Did They Do That?

MME078As we go about our daily routines, there are scientists hard at work trying to discover answers for the criminal justice arena, as well as breakthroughs to improve our way of life.  Many of these tests, studies, and theories aren’t reported in most areas of the mass media.

When I have a moment, I love to peruse the scientific world of forensics and criminal psychology to see what is new.  I found three interesting scientific studies that caught my immediate attention and I wanted to share.

Predicting Aggression in Boys

Predicting potential violent behavior in young men and boys has been the forefront of many studies for quite some time now.

Photo: APOne such study, I became aware of a few years ago, was conducted by Joel Norris who wrote the book: SERIAL KILLERS.  He was the founding member of the International Committee of Neuroscientists to study Episodic Aggression.   He began to find connections between episodic aggression and serial killers.  It is a fascinating read into the complicated mind and impulses of serial killers.

A study published in Psychiatric Quarterly with research led by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, suggests that a simple saliva test could be a tool used in predicting violent behavior in boys.

Saliva samples were collected from boys between the ages 7 and 9 years old, three times on the day they were admitted.  The test was for three hormones: testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and cortisol.  The levels of hormones coincided with the severity of aggression.

“… It could offer a quick way to anticipate violent behavior in child psychiatric units.  Eventually, we hope this testing might also provide a tool to help improve safety in schools.”  According to head researcher, Drew Barzman, MD, a child and adolescent forensic psychiatrist.

Plentiful Trees, Shrubs, and Grass Deters Crime in the City 

urbangardensAn interesting article about how the presence of maintained green areas with trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in the Philadelphia area.   It has made an impact on crimes, such as robberies and assaults.  It raises some interesting questions about sustainable green areas in urban locations

According to an article published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, it states that there is a deterrent effect rooted in maintained greenery as well as a potential calming effect, which have led to reduced violent crimes in the Philadelphia area.

I’m not quite sure how they can accurately gauge this theory, but it certainly poses an interesting concept as a contributing factor in deterring crime.

Spider Silk Repels Slow .22 Caliber Rifle Bullet

Some of the arachnids have the strongest webs, and scientists have been looking to all of the potential benefits.  SPIDER WEBSA fantastic study has been released where by grafting a spider silk between the epidermis and dermis, it produces an extremely strong skin.

While it failed to repel a .22 bullet fired with normal speed, it did stop a .22 bullet at a reduced speed.  That’s amazing.  Although not quite bulletproof, it still poses some interesting attributes about what it could mean for safety in the future, such as with law enforcement and the military.

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More articles that might be of interest:

Why Do We Cringe at Terrible Sounds?

New Forensic Technologies Could Improve How Crime Scenes are Processed

How Can Henna Help Catch Criminals?

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