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Thursday, January 26, 2012


Donnell Ann Bell is a debut author for Bell Bridge Books and a two-time Golden Heart finalist.  Her romantic suspense novel, The Past Came Hunting was released in September, 2011.  She recently sold another award-winning book to Bell Bridge, currently titled Deadly Recall, as part of a two-book deal to be released late 2012 with a third suspense in 2013. 
Through January you can find The Past Came Hunting at a deep discount for $1.99. at both Amazon Kindle and Kobo readers. 
Read more about Donnell at her website and her two blogs, Get Lost in a Story  and 5 Scribes. 

Donnell is awarding two $10 Amazon or B&N gift cards to our readers today. To learn how you can win, read on. -- AP

About The Past Came Hunting: Fifteen years ago a young Colorado Springs police officer arrested a teen runaway accused of aiding a convenience store robbery and attempted murder. She was innocent, but still served prison time briefly. Her testimony sent the real thief to jail for much longer. Now she’s a young widow raising a son, and the man she put in prison is free and seeking revenge. She moves to a home in a new neighborhood—then learns that her next-door neighbor is the by-the-book officer who arrested her. Now he’s a Colorado Springs P.D. Lieutenant. Like it or not, he may be the only one who can protect her and her son from the past he helped create.

How do they KNOW that?
Hi, everyone! I’m excited to be here. Thanks to Lois Winston for the invitation because this blog is right up my craft-deprived alley. Currently, I’m looking for centerpiece advice for my son’s and his fiancĂ©’s rehearsal dinner. It’s fun, but I sure could use some advice. The event will be held at a Mexican restaurant (so think Hispanic atmosphere). We’ll come back to this later <g>.

Right now, I’d like to talk about the crafty killer part of this blog. When I’m not involved with wedding plans, I write novels. I’m a huge fan of mystery/suspense and, as such, I read books, watch Law & Order, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Harry’s Law and more. 

But, while I enjoy these programs, I confess, I’m intimidated. I find myself curling up in a fetal position, thinking HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT? I’ll never be able to make my book sound as authentic as all these programs with high-paid experts at their disposal. Plus, I’m no spring chick anymore, I’ve got a wedding to help pay for; I can’t go back to school! I should give up right now.

Sorry. I love writing too much. So what can I do? Uncurl from my fetal position for one--that never helped anybody. Next, pick up the phone, call my local law enforcement, and request a ride-along. It’s a taxpayer’s prerogative, and if you can pass a background check, law enforcement agencies are happy to let citizens –er--ride-along. After all, it benefits them, too. It gives citizens an eye witness account and even helps LEO recruit volunteers. Did you know you can request a ride-along with the fire department, too? Both are fantastic opportunities.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, ride-alongs are a learning adventure. Have you ever been on a ride-along or considered going on one? Let’s chat. Next, if any of you have centerpiece ideas? I’d love to hear about them. I’ll award two $10-gift certificates to either Amazon or B&N, one to a commenter about ride-alongs, and one, to a crafty person who helps me with my centerpieces.

Thanks, Donnell! What a generous offer! So, readers, any ideas for Donnell on her centerpiece dilemma? Any thoughts on ride-alongs? Let’s hear from you. -- AP


Anonymous said...

It never dawned on me that any citizen could request "a ride along" with their local police department! Might be fun except that our city is really small and I'm not sure we've ever had a murder here. Although one lady did drown when a severe thunderstorm and flood knocked her off her porch and she landed in the River! Wonder though and idea, thanks. for a centerpiece I'd find a wonderful colorful pinata that could sit on the table and use that!


Kevin R. Tipple said...

I have thought a lot about doing the 'ride along" deal even though for a year or so I was a security guard and had a lot of contact with local police. But, as I understand it, one now that I use a cane to get anywhere it means I can't do it.

As far as the centerpiece idea---I am working on a short story idea where the hero finds a centerpiece on his table (a human head) that he could do without.


Donnell Ann Bell said...

Hello, Lynn! Hmmm, a small town ridealong might be fun. Especially for cozy writers. Honestly, police officers in larger cities have to deal with their share of mundane things too. I mean, if we had murder 24/7, I think we'd find people under their beds.

Thank you for the pinata idea. I hadn't thought of that. Will add it to our list! You're in the drawing for both certificates

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Hi, Kevin. Nice to see you. Gosh, I don't know about disabilities since I don't have one, but what you say makes sense. An officer take responsibility for the passengers in his/her vehicle, so not saying you can't but I would definitely mention it. Sounds like you have a lot of experience. Well done!

As for a human head...think I'll let you keep that for your story. Although the Kiss of Death Chapter uses glass skulls for the centerpiece at RWA National and Death by Chocolate. You're entered in the drawings. Thanks!

Autumn Jordon said...

Hi, Donnell. Thanks for the advice on the ride along. I'm rural and not sure if the locals would let me ride along to the doughnut bar. LOL. Just kidding.

I've actually thought of calling the city officers (about 25 miles away) and see if a ride-along was possible, since I don't live in their district. The newspapers are always filled with stories from the area, so it would be eye-opening I'm sure.

Centerpieces: It's a rehersal dinner, so I'd keep it simple. You don't want to outshine the centerpieces for the wedding. A simple glass cylindar with one flower, or herbs, submerged in water is lovely. If the resturant allows you could add a floating tea candle.

Or, do a candy dish. I've seen candy dishes at weddings and they were a huge hit.

I hope the wedding plans so smoothly.

Congrats on your new releases. I can't wait to read them.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Hi, Donnell! I didn't know any taxpayer could request a ride-along, and with the fire department too. Very interesting!

My brother-in-law is in law enforcement and took his wife on a ride-along once. ONCE. He did a stop, chased a guy down, only to realize the guy's partner was still in their car and could go after his wife, who was still sitting in the police car. Scary.

Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

Great idea on the ride-along, Donnell. Question: do you ride in the front seat or the back (=the cage part with no door handles)? I'm claustrophobic, so this would be a deal-breaker for me.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Oh, and good luck with the wedding plans! Not sure I'm much help with decorations... but now for some reason (probably because I need coffee!) I'm craving a Mexican mocha. If the weather's chilly, maybe you could make a "bouquet" of pre-prepared cocoa mixes with the chili powder... tied up with a pretty bow? Kind of a take-home dessert? I don't know... been up since 3 a.m., so I'm out of ideas. LOL

Good luck!!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Autumn, hi! What *fantastic* ideas for the centerpiece, and they sound like they're in my budget (gasp). I'll add them to the list.

I have rode with the Colorado Springs police and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

I'm in the process of requesting a ridealong in Denver because that's where my current WIP is set. They didn't give me one bit of flack when I explained I was from Colorado Springs. This is going to be exciting because even though C.S. isn't small, Denver is huge.

Wonder if they'd let me wear a Kevlar vest :) Thank you for dropping by!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I like Anne-Marie's idea for the centerpiece!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Anne, hi!!!So great to see you. For the folks out there reading, Anne Marie Becker was instrumental in me writing my Arizona highway scene in The Past Came Hunting.

Anne, I think that would make an amazing short story about the police officer and his ridealong. If an officer has a vested interest in the passenger, that would be tough in my opinion.

We have to be aware that something could go wrong at all times. I didn't know how much of an adrenaline junkie I was until I did a ridealong, or did a high speed chase over Roller Coaster Road. You sign a waiver that you understand the risks involved.

One time, the police officer told me to stay in the car, he also gave me instructions on what do as far as the radio in case anything went wrong.

Most times you go with them, but stand back and be exactly what you are, a citizen observer. You do get the oddest looks at times

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Dear Anonymous. You ride in the front seat beside the police officer.

Kwana said...

Wow I've never thought about a ride along. Thanks so much.

Janie Emaus said...

I had a friend who did ride-a-longs. It's a great experience.

Anonymous said...

For the cake-topper, how about a hollow heart or arch-shaped thingy: I've seen them with a pair of bells (usually silver) hanging from it, often with a couple standing beneath. But instead of the bells, how about a multi-colored mini-pinata? It doesn't have to actually have anything in it; I'm sure it would be recognized.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Kwana, if you're interested, I'll hope you'lll consider doing one ;)

Janie, I second that.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Hmmm, Sandra, it's a centerpiece for the table for the rehearsal dinner, but I agree, the pinata is a wonderful idea!

traveler said...

A centrepiece that I always thought was unique and attractive would be all types of fruit filling a lovely and decorative vase.

Linda Lovely said...

Donnell--Your advice on ride-a-longs is excellent. For those who want more of an "easy chair" look at real-life crime, invite a police officer, FBI agent, etc. to lunch. They're usually delighted to share information that makes readers better understand their challenges--and they're great storytellers. For those of you who haven't read THE PAST CAME HUNTING, Donnell's painstaking research comes through loud and clear. Kudos.

petite said...

What an enjoyable post. Lovely idea which I never knew about, ride along. As for centerpieces I would use lovely spray painted branches, pine cones and fill a large open glass vessel. Even tea lights are attractive.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Traveler, thank you for your idea! I may be giving a way a $10 certificate, but this is really helping me not having to spend going from store to store! Thanks again!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Linda, hi there, thank you for such a nice compliment on THE PAST CAME HUNTING. I sure tried.

And excellent idea! I hadn't thought to invite one to lunch. I'm curious if you know the person before you do that. I've found police officers to be suspicious sorts, with good cause. They really like to know the person who rides with them has been screened. Would love further clarification on this. Thanks again for your nice compliment.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Petie, I think that sounds breathtaking. Thank you. You're definitely entered in the drawing!

Linda Lovely said...

Donnell--The answer is "yes" I have a quasi introduction to forensic experts in advance. Over the years, our Upstate SC Chapter of Sisters in Crime has hosted some terrific guest speakers--medical examiners, police officers, FBI, DEA, DAs, sheriffs, US Marshalls, etc. Once you've met them, they're usually very open to providing more advice one on one.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Aha, Linda, once you've met them. Even a quasi introduction that shows you have a legitimate reason to connect with them. I can't imagine a police officer just accepting a random phone invitation out to lunch.

Okay, who's going to be our guinea pig and try it? :))))

Morgan Mandel said...

I don't think I'd want to go on one of those ride alongs. You never know what might happen!

Morgan Mandel

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Morgan, no pressure :) But if you do change your mind, how about a daytime shift? Generally, ha ha, the crimerate increases at night. Also, it increases exponentially over the holidays and New Years, etc. When I was checking into ridealongs, the former El Paso County sheriff said, choose New Years, all kinds of stuff happens then

Of course, it's up to you.

Jane R said...

I think it's great that you love your craft as much as you do and that has given you that motivation to find out more about your subject. The ride-along is a super idea! I can't wait to read your book. I have lived in Colorado and my daughter lived in the Springs for a time as well. For your centerpiece, I would recommend that you keep it bright. A sombrero, a colorful serape and flowers all add that element. You could also use small cacti, with raffia tied around the pots and grouped together. Large glass candle holders (think hurricane style) wrapped with raffia and filled with bright vegetables (peppers, etc) and/or fruits or just candles. Have fun planning!!

Pat Marinelli said...

Hi Donnell. I think a ride-along on mischief night or Halloween would be a great adventure, but then if the LEOs are too busy, they might not let you go with them then.

I'm voting for the pinata which was my first thought but the sombaro works, too. You could then put names in a hat to give it away or just let the bride-to-be have it.

Hi, Linda Lovely.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Hi, Jane! What great ideas for my center piece. And The Past Came Hunting takes place right here in Colorado Springs. I hope you will take a look and let me know how I did with my setting, and characters, of course. I've found law enforcement in my city entirely generous. Happy Friday!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Pat, you'll never know unless you ask them. If they'll take a rider on New Years, I'd suspect they'd agree to Halloween, then again, I can't swear to it. Hope you're doing well!

I have to transport the centerpieces to Fort Worth from Colorado. It'll be interesting to see what we finally come up with. These ideas are so helpful!

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I'll comment on both :-)

First, a centerpiece idea: There's a cute Sombrero with Serape Photo/Balloon Holder available; you could use them to hold a photo of the couple, and/or scratch-off lottery tickets, or a colored index card with Mexican recipes; or, use them to anchor a few balloons: red, white & green to represent the Mexican flag. Here's the link to the photo/balloon holder, which sells in quantities of six, priced per holder @ $2.92:

Ride-alongs: I am a retired 21-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department, the 10th largest police dept in the U.S. Policies regarding ride-alongs vary according to jurisdiction. Depending on the size/structure of the law enforcement agency, a citizen could check with the PIO (Public Information Office or Officer), Community Affairs, or the Chief of Patrol's office, or check for the existence of a department's web site and look for FAQs, or a "contact" email to request further information.

As an example, here's a link to a request form for a ride-along with NYPD, to give you an idea of what is required/expected:

Any portion of any tour certainly holds the potential for "action."

Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year, with the Fourth of July running a close 2nd. They are probably the two busiest days of the year, in terms of calls for service. Thanksgiving can be volatile, when families who are estranged most of the year finally get together; add alcohol, and family fights erupt. Always safer to stay out of the kitchen where knives are kept. New Year's Eve is amateur night ~ always best to stay close to home. New Year's Day is relatively quiet, people are hung over. There's no way to predict the kind of experience you'd have -- it could be back-to-back calls; you could roll up on crimes in progress, pull over a drunk driver, respond to a silent hold-up alarm (which may or may not be an actual bank robbery) make a death notification, deliver a baby -- or potentially be bored with mundane activities such as picking up prisoner chow, filling out reports, gassing the car -- the possibilities are endless. In any event, I can guarantee it would be interesting :-)

Polly Iyer said...

Enjoyed the post, Donnell. I think I'd be scared to death to go on a ride-along. With my luck I'd be in the middle of some major crime. Is that good luck or bad? Since I know what your next book is about, kind of, I can't wait to read it.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Kathleen, I love your centerpiece idea. Excellent!

And I bow to your 21 years of experience. Thank you for sharing those dates and that it's different in every agency.

Thanks for commenting and clarifying!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Polly, you would love it. I'm going to sign you up Can't of course, but according to Linda, ya'll have it all figured out how to go to lunch and pick LEO's brain. As a writer, I just wanted to experience what they experience on an eight-hour shift. It's eight hours by the way unless you arrange otherwise.

I was so pumped up after one ridealong... don't know why *I* had adrenaline, but I did. The deputies said, you're not tired? Well come on then, let's show you the jail.

Imagine at 1 a.m. taking a tour of the jail. Now THAT was an experience.

Thanks for stopping by!