Friday, July 20, 2018

Adventures in the Amazon Day Two: Markets, Manatees and Misery

The prior night, our "Jungle Momma" told us to get lots of sleep because the next day would be jam-packed. I scoffed, nothing to it. Hey, I lived through a heart-pounding motokar city-wide trek!

Dumb. I'm soooo dumb. So very, very, very city-dumb.
I showed up in shorts. Jungle Momma chastised me, said "Nope. No. No way. You need two shirts, a long-sleeved shirt over a short-sleeved shirt. And long pants."

Grousing, dragging, I hauled myself upstairs and changed, wondering what the big deal was. I mean, it was a thousand degrees out and humid as Satan's sauna. Oh, what a naive, spoiled American I am!

First stop! The Belen market. The market is huge, supplying all of the food and goods for the entire city of Iquitos, population around 371,000 (plus ignorant tourists such as myself). 

But something didn't seem quite right. On the bus, there were two guards: one, a man strangely named "Clever" and a guy whose name I never caught. Clever warned us to watch our pockets, wallets, purses, and leave all but our necessities on the bus.

Hmm... Odd.

Ye gads, talk about overwhelming. More fish on display than an ocean could house, I wondered about the sanitation of it all. Clearly I needed to get over my Western way of thinking. Dogs and cats meandered about nonchalantly, inches away from food. Dead mice lay gutted at the foot of chicken corpses. Strange men mosied up, smiled, performed a kinda one-armed chicken dance. Ghastly things lay splayed out on merchant tables. Giant turtles were cut open with their eggs on display. Alligator heads and tails decorated tables.
 Thumb-sized larva and grubs ("Suri") wriggled about in baskets before being skewered and cooked. Like that annoying kid in eighth grade science class, I held one, showed it to the females until they "ewwwed." To get the full effect, I was willing to eat one until Jungle Momma shut me down.
Our guards stayed attached to us and I'm pretty dang glad they did. At the end of an hour-and-a-half, claustrophobia  set in. I couldn't move. An unwelcome realization dawned over me with the sledgehammer inevitability of a "duh" moment: "Hey, I think the locals might realize I'm a tourist." Not only am I the whitest guy in Kansas, but my Hawaiian shirt and camera were probably a giveaway.

Sweat began to percolate as we boarded the bus (air conditioning!). I thought I knew sweat. Turned out I hadn't even mounted the sweaty trail.

Up next was a visit to a medicinal herbal garden. (Our group was composed primarily of pharmacists, so it was kinda a big deal for them. Which made me arm candy, I suppose. Maybe more like an arm grub). But, I thought, "This will be a nice pleasant five minute stroll. We'll just drive up, park, get out, "ooh" and "ahh" over some plants, get back on the bus, and bask in air conditioning." Oh, naivete, your name is Stuart.
My wife grabs her purse, thrusts it at me to stuff into my backpack. (Embarrassing disclaimer: I've never worn a back-pack before. Back in my day {pay attention, whippersnappers!}, we carried our books.) Suddenly, Jungle Momma is tucking her pant legs into her socks. (The hell...?) Bug spray is lacquered on. Sun hats are strapped on. Shirt sleeves rolled down, buttoned, and double-checked. (Uh-oh...)

Just off the bus and already sweating, I follow the others' precautionary efforts. I don't really understand what all the fuss is for over a simple stroll through a garden. Right? RIGHT?
 That "simple stroll" turned into a three hour tour (worse than Gilligan's nightmares) through the jungle. And I'm wearing double shirts, long pants, and carrying my wife's forty pound purse (clearly she packed her bowling ball collection) in my backpack. Naturally, every intrepid explorer carries purses into the jungle.
On the left, my beautiful wife. I'm the guy wearing mustard so the anacondas can see me better.

We climbed up trails, slalomed down them, slipped through mud, dodged branches, the whole nine yards. I thought we'd never reach civilization again. I also thought a daily five miles of treadmill walking had prepared me for strenuous hiking. Such is the life of city sissies. Jumpin' Jehosophat, by the end of the tour--and with my "moobs"--I looked like I'd been hosed down for a wet t-shirt contest.
Tired travelers, weary pharmacists, and soaking wet big dumb guys in mustard.

Back on the bus, I sucked down a bottle of water and juice in seconds, dehydrated as a shrunken head. But relief was on the way as the next visit turned out to be a relatively low-key visit to a nature habitat dedicated to saving animals on the brink of extinction (due to hunting, eating, other "civilized" products) such as manatees, turtles (of which we saw the grotesque end result earlier), monkeys (monkey-head soup's big), and others. Great cause. Still, it's outside. And once I broke my sweat-seal, I never stopped draining. In fact, between the three men on the trip, we had a bit of a sweating competition. Hands down, I won, glad to know I'm good at something.
A tour of two museums followed. First up was the Museum of Indigenous Amazonian Cultures. Amazingly, there are still 200 tribes in the jungle who flat-out refuse to "civilize." The not so amazing reason is due to white man unleashing a lotta diseases and vile behavior on the indigenous in the past. Honestly, after seeing some of the lifestyles in Iquitos (and boorish American behavior), I kinda think the tribes made the right decision. 
Our final stop proved to be the most grueling one yet, the Boat Museum. While fascinating, the displays and tour took place on a boat. In closed, non-air-conditioned rooms. During the hottest part of the day. Give me the jungle heat any day. Now I know why they're called steamboats.
Finished! Back in the room, my shower was perhaps the finest I'd taken in my life, definitely in the pantheon of Top Three Showers ever.

On the next blog post, we travel down the Amazon River to...Monkey Island!

Speaking of traveling, you guys ever been to Kansas? No. What're you waiting for? Kansas is a nice, exotic, wonderful, getaway of a vacation for... Ah, who am I kidding? Kansas is downright frightening. But don't take my word for it. Here's a primer for you, a terrifying excursion into the twisted dark heart of the Midwest...Godland.
Plan your vacation now! Enjoy Godland!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Chillingham Chills by Catherine Cavendish

Stuart: Alright, not everyone enjoys looking at vacation photos, even if from the Amazon (what's wrong with you people??? I could be showing you pics of me and my cousin, Ernie, at the Wisconsin cheese factory while wearing foam cheese-heads.). SO I'm alternating weeks. This week we're still traveling but from the highly reliable tour guide, gothic horror author extraordinaire Catherine Cavendish. Journey with us, if you dare, as Cat takes us into a haunted castle. (And believe me, Cat knows about haunted! Check out her stellar books). 

Catherine Cavendish: Grinning skeletons, a radiant blue boy, tragic Lady Mary Grey and a crying baby. These are just four of the manifestations haunting Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, reputed to be THE most haunted castle in England.

With a history dating back to the twelfth century, its walls could tell tales of many a bloody deed committed on its fortified premises. In 1298, Edward I (the 'Hammer of the Scots' was based here, as he prepared do battle with William Wallace ('Braveheart') who, far from being that nice Mel Gibson with the blue face, was in fact a mass murderer, burning the local women and children to death. Since then, it has been the site of many a battle and many unfortunate souls were tortured and murdered here in cruel and imaginative ways I will not go into here!

The castle has been owned by members of the Grey family since 1246 and the present owner - Sir Humphry Wakefield Bt.-  has been renovating it for over thirty years. It is a curious place, much of it still derelict, and the atmosphere is one of quiet expectancy. But what of the ghosts?
Poor Lady Mary Grey was deserted by her faithless husband, Ford, Lord Grey of Wark and Chillingham, during the reign of Charles II (17th century), she can still be heard wandering the corridors in an endless search for him. Her dress rustles as she passes.
The radiant Blue Boy was frequently reported in one of the bedrooms. At the stroke of midnight, the agonising cries and moans of a child in pain were heard and, as these died down, a bright halo of light would form close to the old four poster bed. If anyone was sleeping there at the time, they would see a young boy, dressed in blue, surrounded by the light, approaching them. Curiously, in the wall of that room were found the bones of a young boy, along with some fragments of a dress. A blue dress.
Lady Leonora Tankerville, who documented the castle's ghosts in 1925, recalled having strange experiences of her own, including a manifestation of a nun praying on the battlements, accompanied, a few paces behind, by two young men dressed in clothes from the time of King Henry VIII. She also experienced a visitation by the ghost of a young officer who, so far as she knew, was actually alive at that time. Only later did she discover that he had died at the very time she had seen him appear in her room. Lady Leonora was also responsible for the discovery of the skeletons of a man and a boy who had been walled up in her bedroom. Indeed, there seems to have been a fair amount of walling up of people in this castle!

If you are brave enough, you can actually stay at the castle and many who have done so have reported strange events. Some have even left before morning, too scared to sleep! 

But if you do stay, think twice before taking the complimentary shower gel or shower cap home. In one of the rooms, letters and returned items are displayed (including a door knob removed 'by accident'). Reading these letters, you will see that the guests returned the items because no good came to them while they possessed them. Above the display is a portrait of a woman, reputedly a witch, who is said to take a pretty dim view of such thieves. She has a tendency to haunt them... and not in a friendly way.

Want to see more? Follow this link and scroll down to the clips Chillingham Ghosts

Meanwhile, my novella Cold Revenge, features ghosts, demons and a whole lot of vengeance. It has just been released in a new edition from Crossroad Press. Here’s what to expect:

Some dinner invitations are best ignored... 

For no apparent reason, Nadine, Maggie, Gary, and Nick are invited to dinner at the lavish home of top fashion writer, Erin Dartford. But why has she invited them? Why doesn't she want her guests to mingle? And just what is it about the mysterious Erin that makes them want to run for their lives? Little do they know that as they prepare to eat their first course, an evil as old as mankind is about to be unleashed. And revenge really is a dish best served cold...

You can buy Cold Revenge here;

About the author

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy - Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room,, The Demons of Cambian Street, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife have now been released in new editions by Crossroad Press.

She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:

Friday, July 6, 2018

Adventures in the Amazon: Motokar Madness!

I flew 3, 265 miles to Iquitos, Peru, and all I have to show for it is a case of diarrhea! I kid, I kid (not really). Just joking (no, I'm not).
My wife and I all touristy in a motokar death-trap!

But I survived! Barely.

Day one of our journey to Peru actually took a day-and-a-half, all of it travel. Three flights, three airports, three rounds of security and customs and trauma. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucktacular traveler: "Are we there yet?" "I'm bored." "Can't we just be there?" "He's looking at me funny!" (My poor suffering wife.)

At 6', 2", weighing in at 225 pounds, flight engineers clearly didn't have me in mind when they created their flying cracker-boxes. Our overnight flight to Lima was a contortionist's nightmare. At midnight, the flight attendants fed us dinner, then hurriedly shut out the lights, their intention to have us sleep for eight hours so they wouldn't have to deal with us. Sure, uh-huh, right. It's like trying to sleep in a bookcase.

When we finally landed at the Lima, Peru airport, I desperately found myself wishing I'd paid attention to my two years of high school and two years of college Spanish. Honestly, the local people in the airport put me to shame, most of them able to speak passable English. And here I am--ugly American--stomping around, adding "O's" onto the end of English words. ("Luggage-o?")

The Peruvian people were very helpful, even if all of them had different advice. Out of pure luck, we finally realized we had to reclaim our luggage and check it again. Total fish-out-of-water moment.

But once we hit the Iquitos airport, I was a whale-out-of-water, a (not so) Great White. The departure area was pretty much the size of a living room, hotter than asphalt on a Summer day, a crowded, sweaty hub of humanity.
Okay, about Iquitos... Hardly the touristy, exotic getaway locale I expected (man, I really should've done some research), Iquitos is over-populated, full of political corruption (citizens are forced to vote by law and bribed to swing a vote for the equivalence of twenty bucks), trash-strewn, crime-ridden, humid, terrifying, and absolutely exhilarating and thrilling in a roller-coaster, pants-wetting kinda way. Like an island, Iquitos is only reachable by boat or airplane.
History lesson! Years ago, Iquitos's citizens came out of the jungle and adapted civilization as they knew it (learned from TV) in their new city. Literally hundreds of tin shanties can be seen right next door to the few wealthy residents. Up to four families share the small, ramshackle dwellings. 
Yet even the worst tin shacks--holes and all--have direct TV dishes mounted on the roofs. Things exploded about six years ago when the former jungle dwellers discovered the internet and smart phones. Welcome to civilization.
The amazing Armando, motokar driver extraordinaire!
Unfortunately, as an adjunct to "civilization," unemployment (the rubber industry--Iquitos' past major source of jobs and income--dried up, leaving people jobless) prospered.

Unless you're a motokar driver.

We've all been in white-knuckled cab rides before. Now imagine that multiplied by 200,000 unleashed motokars.

What's a motokar, I hear you asking? Why, it's a three-wheeled motorcycle of sorts. Unprotected, the driver sits in front while the terrified passengers are sardined into a tiny cabin behind him. Different designs adorn the tarp (Spiderman, Scooby-Doo, appropriate flames of Hell), the driver's number posted on back.

It's the primary vehicle of choice (cars are a rarity) and a new source of income, drivers eking out enough soles for a day's worth of beans and rice.

And driving laws? Heh, don't be silly. Someone told us, "In Iquitos, there are no rules, no lanes, no lines, and no laws." (Check out the video below--supplied by fellow adventurer and friend Liz--if you don't believe me.)
On our trip from the airport to the hotel, I thought we were going to die (and here I figured the jungle would get me). Two-laned streets turned into five and six, hundreds of motokars jockeying for front position like a vicious roller-derby. Near misses were common, no sweat to the crazed, undoubtedly caffeine-infused drivers. From the left, hundreds more swarmed. On the right, a small dirt road unleashed another couple hundred. They fused together like a massive swarm of bees, all of them chasing the honey at the end of their furious flight.  They swerved, cut others off, bounced back and forth like pinballs. The song, "Ride of the Valkyries" played out in my head as I held on for dear, sweet life.

Miraculously, we arrived at the hotel unscathed. There we met the gracious organizer of our trip, our "Jungle Momma" and her husband. 
Then we slept.

The next morning, cocky and sure of myself, I proclaimed, "Hey, nothing to it! I survived my first day. Got this by the cajones! What could possibly go wrong?"

As it turns out, kismet's got it out for me badly.

For a different kinda trip, come on down to Missouri and visit the Dandy Drop Inn, a bed and breakfast with an absolutely killer reputation. Be sure to pick up the "Dread and Breakfast" brochure by clicking here!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Old Movies and the #MeToo Movement

Anyone who knows me understands the odd entertainment value I derive from crappy old movies. But I've been reconsidering that hobby. Recently, I watched a couple of old '80's teen comedies.
Bros being bros, yo! Fist bumps, beer bongs! Just joshing around! Ripping off unwilling females' clothing for yoks! Getting chicks drunk and taking advantage of them while they're passed out! Dude! Hilarity ensues!

The behavior on display from some of these cinematic so-called "heroes" is equivalent to rape.  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Back in the day, I thought Animal House was one of the funniest films ever made. (So much so, I even sent my parents to see it. WHAT was I thinking? Good God. But I digress...) There's a drunken date rape scene played for yoks.
Of course, the problem goes back even farther. Recently, my wife and I watched a '40's film, Mildred Pierce. The heroine acted like she had no say in the matter while suitors kissed, bossed, abused, and raped her (subtle in the '40's, but it's there). And she didn't have a say. With nowhere to go, no sense of self-worth, everything socially learned and reinforced, she was boxed in by men's sexist, antiquated rules.

Men were brought up on these movies, the lesson being: Hey, this behavior is admirable. And women had to put up with this awful behavior from men behaving badly, too, not much alternative in the way of female entertainment. A sad case of cinema trickling into--even forming--life.

Maybe I'm part of the problem.

In high school, I was unpopular. (I hear you all gasping.) I was SO unpopular I was unaware of the extent of sexual predators walking my high school halls. I had no female friends. The few male friends I had participated in the usual locker room boasting and shoulder punching and joshing and bragging about female conquests soon discarded. Even though inexperienced in the entire realm of sex, even dating, I just laughed along, wondered what it'd be like to be a "playah." I wanted to fit in.

Of course I never did. Fit in, that is. But I also didn't realize the only male behavior I witnessed was appalling. When you have no control group to base experiences on-- except for what you're told and learn all your short life--you pretty much accept what you know as the standard to live by.

When life lessons coming from your parents stretch to nonexistent or break down or are filled with half-truths, you turn to your friends. And when their behavior proves confusing, you gravitate toward movies for role models.

Entertainment's not the only offender, of course. These stone-age beliefs have been perpetuated through education, religion, and social standards since the beginning of time. By men, of course.

Despite the blatant messages hammered into us by ignorant beliefs of the past, I'd like to think there's some human decency inherent in all of us. Some inner censor that forms proper decisions--overuling popular entertainment, prejudices, stereotypes, beliefs, or a collective unconscious--and lets people, young and old and in power (and our current president's behavior certainly sends the wrong message) realize that sexual harassment, and especially, rape, is absolutely wrong. Honestly, there shouldn't be any doubt.

The offenders need to own, accept and pay. And, for the love of God, stop.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Journey into the unknown! And beyond?

Okay, folks, here we go. This Friday--today!--my wife and I are off to the Amazon (again, not the intronets superstore, but the real, terrifying, rain-jungled, third-world country).
While I thought something occurring during the trip might kill me, I hadn't considered the prep. When you're not ready for such a chilling venture? Here's what your front stoop looks like...
Remember when synthetic clothes were a laugh? Now, for our trip, we need to load up on them. The better the long-sleeved rayon shirts, the more uncomfortable the nylon pants, the greater chances the gargantuan monster sci-fi channel movie bugs will stay away. Oddly enough, though, you can hear me coming a mile away: whish, swish, whish, swish... Dunno if that's a monster deterrent or attraction.

Remember, gang, everything I know about science has been learned from old horror movies and cartoons. 

I think I'm in trouble.

SO, there's a thousand, kazillion ways to die in the rain-forest. The statistics are staggering; something, like, only 10% of white guys make it out alive. In case this should happen to me, here's my blog-posted last will and testament:

*To my daughter, I leave my (pretty much worthless unless you're a geek) comic-book and movie collection. You can have the house, too, as long as you want to deal with the upkeep.

*To my guy, I leave you nothing, but do please clean out the second drawer of my dresser, the one with literature meant for men (if you know what I mean and I think you do).

That's it! Hands clapped, washed, tidied, everything wrapped up!

Hope to see you all on the other side. And if not, maybe (if I'm deemed worthy enough), I'll see you on the OTHER other side.

Should I die, please make me posthumously famous and read my book, Dread and Breakfast

Friday, June 15, 2018

Swab the poop-deck! I mean, literally...

Dear bird:

Why do you hate me?

First, you dive-bomb my car. Three times. Then my house, because the car wasn't enough.

I've never, EVER, hurt one of you avian fiends.

Just look at my deck. Those spatters hardly evoke relaxation.

Well, I thought I'd show you! I rented a three ton power washer. Painstakingly washed every inch of the deck, a back-breaking ordeal. It looked great!

Until an hour later when you unloaded again.

But this time, you changed up your diet. You discovered berries of some sort, some exotic fruit that apparently doesn't agree with your intestinal tract. Seriously, bird, you've got some messed up bowels.

Which leaves permanent purple stains no matter how hard I scrub.

Perhaps you discovered the dumpster behind Taco Bell?
I needed to seal the deck, but I couldn't until 48 hours. Out of options, low on patience, we put down a tarp. Ten minutes later...
Next, we planted a fake, scary owl. The fright made you unleash your pestilence even more.
We even tried balloons! With faces on them! While we look like neighborhood maniacs, you've found new friends.
Bird, do you guys have doctors? I mean, come on. Get some help. Just because you have irritable birdy bowel syndrome doesn't entitle you to take it out on me.

Speaking of irritants, have you heard about the supremely annoying demon with a comb-over? No? What're you waiting for? Click here by cracky for laughs with your scares!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Writing a police procedural made E-Z!

That’s right! For a limited time only, I’m divulging the secrets to writing a successful police procedural for only ten—that’s right, ten!—easy installment payments (which we’ll discuss later)!

(Disclaimer: Although I’ve not written a true police procedural, I’ve had quite a few cops and detectives tumble in and out of my books. Besides, I’ve seen enough TV procedurals to qualify as an expert.)

Ready? Let's go!

Step #1) Pick Your Lead.
This is the biggest choice you’ll face as a writer: what gender to make your lead. Once you clear that hurdle, the rest of the book will flow naturally. It doesn’t truly matter if your lead detective is male or female because they’re going to share the same traits: hard-edged as granite, muscular, no-nonsense, tough-talking, swagger walking, alcohol-pounding, quip-dropping tough gals and guys. Note that it’s no longer politically correct to have your protagonist chain smoke, so don't even think about it.

Step #2) Pack Your Baggage.
Your protagonist needs baggage, HAS to have baggage. Lots and lots of emotional baggage, so much baggage, it’d put an airport baggage handler into traction. Said baggage may be due to a series of lousy, failed relationships (usually due to a combination of drink, infidelity, and the stress of being On The Job). Or maybe there's the unfortunate passing of a loved one. Maybe your hero has had too many bad encounters with cable guys and has snapped. It doesn't really matter as long as he or she is damaged as tornado debris.

Step #3) Choose Your Lead’s Police Partner.
Another simple step, really, because there can only be two choices. Your protagonist’s work partner is either a newbie, eager-to-please, green-around-the-ears rookie cop; or a slovenly, donut-eating, burned out cop just days away from retirement. There are no other choices. And it doesn’t matter because the partner’s doomed within the opening pages. He may as well wear a sign on his back reading “Dead Cop Walking.” For he will be shot early on, oh, yes he will. And prepare for your hero to raise his/her hands to the sky over the late partner’s corpse and scream, “Nooooooooo!” Bonus points if it takes place in the rain.

(Note: A lot of writers choose to have a man and woman, both from the hard-boiled school, as partners. Naturally while chasing the bad guy, they'll fall into bed. Should you choose to go down that path, it’s fine, but don’t forget to add a little Yin to Yang.)

Step #4) Position Your Police Captain (and Immediately Disrespect Him).
This is the guy in charge. Invariably, he's always bald, short-fused, sick and tired of your protagonist’s lone wolf ways, and one step away from a heart attack. His coloring tends to run stroke-red. It’s a must that your protagonist never shows the least amount of respect for the boss, treating him with cool disdain and quippy one-liners. And it’s important to remember your protagonist should only address the captain by his last name or a colorful nick-name.

Whether you choose to make your captain crooked is entirely up to you. It's a popular choice these days.

Step #5) Master the Maniacal Laugh.
Your good guys are in place. The stage is set. Now things get tricky.

Bad guys are tough to do on paper. The Maniacal Laugh is particularly tough to express in words.

“For you see, Trina, I’ve been killing ice-cream vendors because of a tragic bomb-pop incident in my childhood years. I despise sprinkles. Mwah-hah-hah-hahhhhhhh!”

See? Doesn’t exactly sing in the written word, does it?

But, like it or not, you’ve set yourself up to write a police procedural, and you need an incredibly unhinged villain, lest your tough-as-nails protagonist comes off appearing uncouth, particularly in these sensitive and politically correct times. Maniacal laughter is a must. Please do approach with caution, though, and strive for a modicum of subtlety.

Step #6) Uncomfortable Sex Locales.
I don’t know what it is about these tough cops and detectives, but as a general rule, beds aren’t their number one location to have sex (NOT make love; tough gals and guys don’t go in for that sissy stuff). No, like everything your tough protagonist does in life, there's a tendency to take the road less traveled, a rocky road indeed. The love/lust scenes play out in alleyways (again, cue the rain, thus making it even more uncomfortable), cars, against walls, any place sure to put a cramp in the reader’s leg.

Not sure why, really. I don’t make the rules.

Step #7) Make It Personal.
Your protagonist has to have a personal gripe against your bad guy. It’s nice to tie this into the hero's baggage (see Step #2). Maybe the current serial killer was the hero’s scoutmaster or paper-boy. This will involve the reader in an entirely new level, pulling them in by the lapels (but since Casual Friday is the current popular mode of wardrobe, I suppose lapels are rather dated). Be creative. 

Ta-dahhhh! There you have it! Everything you need to know about writing a successful police procedural. Now all you need to do is go publish and make a kazillion dollars. It's that simple.
A different sort of procedural...CLICKETY for mystery and larfs!