Today I am taking down the war board for my newest novel, Dead Too Soon (out May 12, preorder now). The war board is a tool for keeping track of the overall plot for the novel-in-progress, see the examples below. When writing a story that's 75,000 words (Burned Too Hot), 85,000 words (Dead Too Soon), or a really outrageous 150,000 words (Codename: Chandler's THREE), it helps me to write a brief description of each scene on notecards. I use a different color card for each character's point-of-view, so I can see the direction of the story with just a glance. I always have liked maps, and this is my way of mapping my book before and as I write it.
When fighting fires in rural areas, firefighters have to bring in their own water. As part of my local fire department's citizen's academy, I not only got to see how this was done, I got the opportunity for a little hands-on learning. Good thing, since Lund and the Lake Loyal Fire Department had a rural fire to fight in Burned Too Hot. Check out the pictures and how I used what I learned below.
Excerpt from Burned Too Hot:
Next to Pumper One, Dempsey, Johnson, Blaski, and Sandoval spread out what looked like a giant kids' swimming pool made of thick yellow rubber. The portable tank was used to hold water in rural areas that weren't equipped with fire hydrants. Each truck would empty its water tank, and then race back to town to fill up. Even now, Lund could hear two more sirens on the air, another truck from their district or one from a neighboring district bringing more water.
A truck-sized bucket brigade.
They caught up to Jerry Fruehauf as the fire chief circled back in front of Engine One.
"The fire is pretty far along. I don't think we'll be able to save the second floor," the fire chief said.
"There's a chance we can salvage whatever's downstairs and the outbuildings. But the fire is spreading, and with this drought..."
Lund stared at the house that was more a torturous prison for Kelly Ann growing up than a home until Lund had talked her into accepting his ring and getting the hell out. From here, he could see the farm yard where Old Man Meinholz used to keep his burning barrel, the one where Lund had discovered the scorched bones he'd thought belonged to his then estranged wife. A tilt of the head, and he could also see the rickety front porch where he'd gotten his last glimpse of a woman he knew only as Chandler—a mistake he'd been lucky to survive.
"Lund? Did you hear me?" the chief asked.
"Keep it from spreading."
"You realize that means—"
"Let it burn."
He could feel Val's eyes on him. "You sure?"
"Down to the fucking foundation."
Read the rest in Burned Too Hot.
I do a lot of hands-on research for my thrillers. Take a look at some of my adventures and how I've used them in the books.