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Author: Troy Lambert

Troy is a freelance writer, editor, author, and blogger who lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho with the love of his life, his son, and two very talented dogs.

Passionate about writing dark psychological thrillers, he is an avid cyclist, skier, hiker, all around outdoorsman, and a terrible beginning golfer.

Making time to Write

When I was young, I was told that I would never be able to make money as a writer. My stories were creative, cute, compelling, and any list of other words. But when I said I wanted to do it for a living, people laughed. Laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. Maybe they were […]

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Pet Organ Transplants

If you are like me, you love dogs. I love the dogs have at home, that I meet at the dog park, and that I meet on the street. In fact, I have been told I may have a problem. Because when I say, “I love this dog!” I get only one response from my wife and my friends. Pretty much whoever is with me.

“You love all dogs!”

It’s pretty much true. There are limits though, even though my current pup is the dog I have spoiled the most. But he is a German Shepherd with a delicate stomach and the kindest, most loyal disposition of any dog I’ve ever had.

People love dogs too and will go to extraordinary lengths to save or extend their lives. Pet insurance has become a standard offering, much like human health insurance. As more dogs are insured, medical science in veterinary practice also gets more sophisticated. Chipping your dogs, having DNA testing, cancer screening, prevention, treatment, and surgery all come into play.

But while doing my research for Harvested, I came across something even more astounding and sophisticated. Pet organ transplants.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read Harvested yet, go grab it and read it now before you finish this post. Otherwise, it will spoil one part of the plot for you. Here’s the link in case you need it. Buy on Amazon.

The Pet Medical Industry

Not only do we love our pets, but there is a lot of money involved in their care. It’s become a huge industry, from nutrition to massage to grooming and other essentials. Allergy testing, new vaccinations, and new medications are emerging all the time. That, and the pet medical insurance industry is booming. What this means to pet owners is that big pharma and other research companies are working harder than ever to provide sophisticated and expensive pet medications and surgeries.

Studies are being conducted similar to human medication trials, All that research is expensive, labels need to be crafted and meet regulations, and vets and pet owners need to be educated about what is available.

Pet Organ Transplants

One of the more sophisticated things being developed is organ transplants. We already know that sometimes, pig organs are compatible with humans, and can even organs from other animals may be substituted if human organs are unavailable. But there is also a huge human organ donor base. When many people pass on, they elect to donate what of their organs are viable for another person.

The organ transplant list for animals started with cats. There are a few simple reasons for that. Kidney disease in cats is quite common, an if left untreated, fatal. An organ transplant can save them at a cost of $12,000 to $15,000 if there are no complications. If complications do arise, the cost can go higher.

Donor cats are not hard to find. Most shelters have a large selection, and like humans, cats can live with one kidney. So usually the deal is that the owner, if the surgery is successful, actually goes home with two cats rather than the one they came with: the donor and the recipient. The donor cat essentially trades one of its organs for a permanent, loving home.

The cost of transplants is prohibitive for most owners, but with the right pet insurance, you could have to pay a deductible and then part of the surgery out of pocket.

Around 84% of donor cats had no follow-up problems in a study by the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. Only 7% had serious or fatal complications. Those odds are good, but not ideal.

Dog Organ Transplants

Canine organ transplants are much rarer. While certain breeds have a propensity toward kidney disease, there are fewer matching donors. Part of the reason is that donor dogs are harder to match unless the donor is related to the recipient pretty closely. This is where fiction takes over, but it is something that is not too far fetched. Ready for your spoiler?

There is a theory, although an obscure one, that mutts might be the best source of organs for transplant: the mix of several breeds could make them more universal donors. Of course, mixed breeds are the most plentiful of dogs, so if true, this could open up a new avenue of organ sources. But at least initially this process would be experimental, and finding dogs to put into the study, especially if there was a high demand, might be more of a challenge. Success rates and survival rates for donor dogs would be lower as well, at least in theory.

The solution, at least a partial one, might be a dognapping scheme like the one outlined in Harvested. The big money involved might be motive enough for researchers to take matters into their own hands. Add in a little organized crime and some crooked vets, and voila!

The Truth Behind the Fiction

There is no canine transplant clinic in Maine or in Seattle. There have been odd disappearances of dogs in various areas for various reasons in the past, but often unless they are a certain breed that is valuable, there is little that police can and will do. The exception is if they suspect a dog fighting ring, in which case there is a sterner investigation.

There are P.I.’s who specialize in pets, the truth that is behind the Ace Ventura story: people will go through a lot to get their dogs back if they are lost and missing as well. So while there is some truth in the plot to Harvested, there is some fictoin there as well.

What do you think about pet organ transplants, pet insurance, and other such issues? Let me know in the comments below.

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What Do You Do If You Have No Choice But To Make Everyone Work Remotely?

As a concept, remote working certainly appears to be great on the surface. After all, it’s cheap, and it allows you to work in the comfort of your own home. But time and again, there have been difficulties in harnessing our employees’ talents by remote working alone. But if you’ve got no other option, and you need to make it work, what are the fundamentals that need addressing?

Set The Template

One method of working is what needs developing. Everybody works in their own specific way, but because communication is a major barrier, if there are members of the team that works in their own way and on individual projects, they can feel like they are the exception to the rule. You don’t want to discourage people from working their own way, but you still need to set a certain template, because remote working is such a different beast. Having a morning meeting via Skype, even just for fifteen minutes gives everybody the opportunity to check in with each other, and see if there are any pressing problems, so everyone is able to get on with their day. The other added benefit of having a meeting via Skype is that it’s a lot quicker than sending an email! Sending an email means that you’ve got to wait for a reply, but if they add something extra that you need to answer, this back-and-forth will waste so much time.

Get The Right Tools For The Job

It all depends on what you do. If you are sending large files, the Jetdrop file transfer program can help, but also if collaboration is a crucial component, finding ways to make it feel like everyone is in the same room is as important. Tools like Evernote have been shown to be more than useful in this respect. And while there are plenty of tools out there, it’s not about getting the most expensive, but it’s about the ones that will really suit you and the team.

Share

It’s in the name, remote working. People can feel on their own, which may be good in terms of focusing on the job, but if everybody is working in an isolated fashion, certain self-absorbed habits can creep in. This is why it’s important, not just to have a meeting at the very beginning of the day, but to give people the opportunity to share information as and when is necessary. If you run the team, giving others that opportunity to open up if they have any misgivings will always benefit. But by giving them the chance to do it in a more personal manner, rather than in an email, will help to build bridges.

Remote working is one of those essential components now, but there can be a lot of mistakes made. Sometimes people go into it for the wrong reasons, thinking that it will just save money, when in fact, remote working is most definitely a cheap approach, but you can still use it to bring out the best in people.

 

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How To Create The Perfect Rental Property

You’ve decided you’re going to take a little dive into the world of rental property and you want to figure out just how to build a genuinely efficient money-maker. Well, like any business venture, it’s going to take some thinking – it does not just fall on your lap, and you’re not just going to hit the big time out of nowhere.

Within the rental property business, you can delve into something residential or you can own premises like offices, warehouses, and other stores. Your mission is to make sure you can secure a place or places of your own and turn them into something that people will want to work in or live in. The better the property, the most success you’re going to have. Let’s have a little look into some of the aspects that go into creating a fantastic rental property.    

Know Your Market

Before you decide to make any commitments, you’re going to want to think about the type of person or business that you’re trying to attract. It doesn’t have to be a completely strict and set-in-stone attitude, but you’ll want to align yourself somewhat with a particular group. You won’t want to have a certain layout and realize that it doesn’t match what any potential buyers want or need.

Choose The Right Property

When you have a certain idea noted down, you’ll then want to consider how the property is going to look. Consider the location: is it going to be in a densely populated area or do you want it out of the way where there’s more space to operate. How big is the property going to be? What style would you like it to have? Is there any potential for it to be built on further? These are all good things to think of.

Execute Your Renovations

Picked a good spot to work with? Good. Now it’s time to shake things up a little. If it’s a residential property you’re going to be working with, then you’ll want to make sure things are perfect for whoever wants to settle in there – we’re talking about the electrics and the facilities. If you’ve bought an office or a warehouse, then you’ll want to have everything functioning so that workers can operate properly. You’ll also want things to be safe: you could get help from things like floor safety services as well as running through all of the safety checks yourself. You don’t want any legal problems on your hands.   

Manage Your Budget

Whilst we’re talking about making sure that the bedrooms or the shop floors are perfect, it’s also wise to consider the money involved. Sure, we want it to be a good unit, but you have to make sure you’re making money, too. Note down where the money is going and make sure you have enough room for profit!

Market Your Rental

When everything’s ready, you’re going to want to get someone in straight away – there’s no point having it if it’s just going to be sat around idling. You can attract people and business by using ads in papers and magazines as well as social media – there are tons of ways to get it out there for the public to see.

 

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Don’t Turn A Blind Eye To These Office Blunders

Office blunders are happening all over the world right now, and both the business owner and employee are completely turning a blind eye to them. Why? Because telling the people at the top that there’s something wrong, is actually so scary. It makes it so much worse if the people that you’re dealing with are super hard to communicate with as well.

So whether you’re a business owner, or reading this from an employees point of view, we’ve got a few tips for you. There are some businesses who are really leading the way with what they’re doing, especially when it comes to the care and attention that employees receive. So what we’re going to try and show you, is some of the biggest office blunders that a business owner will make, and that an employee will too. Hopefully, this will give you an insight into what needs to be changed in the future! So keep on reading, and don’t be afraid to speak up after reading this!

Business Owner Blunders

The stress you feel as a business owner is so huge. Every single day you’re faced with a new challenge, and your employees definitely fuel a few of those. Managing a team of people as well as your business is hard, but there are some blunders that you might be making, that could make it so much worse. One of them is opening yourself up to a bit of trouble in terms of office safety. All it takes is for someone to fall the wrong way, because of the organization of your office, or perhaps there are some wires out, and workers compensation lawyers will come knocking at your door. You wouldn’t believe the number of businesses who are facing lawsuits, simply because they don’t know how to make the working environment safer. So take some time to review yours, and make it a far more positive environment by making it safer!

Employee Blunders

Being an employee is just hard work. You will usually take the brunt so much because business owners can just be so tough to deal with, especially when they’re having a hard day. So, you might want to think about how you can work a bit more efficiently, because one of the biggest employee blunders that can be made, is not paying enough attention to your role. There is most likely a lot of room for progression within the company you work in, you’re just not actively looking for it. But with more responsibility comes a better job role, and more money. So put some time and energy into your job, and see if being a little more motivated pushes you towards a promotion. If you simply can’t because the career doesn’t excite you, don’t make the second blunder of staying in a job that will get you nowhere, just because you don’t want to find a new one.

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Six Ways To Make Your Business Stand Out To Clients

Running a business is not an easy thing to do. You have a lot of plates to balance, from clients you work with to the customers who want something from you. On top of that, you’ve got to keep the business running successfully and stand out among all the other companies in your industry. Every company will claim to be the best in their field, with the top customers being told that everyone is number one. You could spend all the time in the world building a brand that people can relate to, but that’s not going to make you the best in the world.

A big part of being the best business out there relies on your image and how people perceive you and what you do. So, you need to stand out from the crowd as best you can, with your brand and the way that you deal with people, you want to make your business stand out to your clients. Here’s how you can do it with six tips!

  1. Legendary Customer Service. Your people on the phone who are providing the customer service need to be perfect. They need to think they’re being treated like royalty – it’s the only way to create a loyal customer base who care about what you’re selling and what you’re doing for them. If you don’t have the right customer service, you’re not going to have customers at all.
  2. Face Mistakes. People love a business who own their mistakes and learn from them. If you make a mistake, publicize it, own it, apologize and move forward. You’ll be respected.
  3. Keep A Clean House. Your business location should be impeccable, from the carpets to the wiring. Everything should be ship-shape, particularly if you’re going to have customers and clients in the building. Bring in the right janitorial cleaning company, and you’re not going to have to worry about it anymore. Cleaning may be low on the agenda, but it’s a must!
  4. Stay Honest. Your customers deserve your honesty, so be as honest as possible about your services and products on offer. Don’t ever tell fibs about what you can offer; you WILL get caught out and pulled up on it, and that’s just embarrassing!
  5. Be Innovative. Coming up with new products and diversifying is essential for your development as a business. You want to continue to solve problems for your customers, and you can only do that with something impressive.
  6. Use Your Voice. Be the company that blogs with content stuffed with humor. Be the company that vlogs the silly days in the office and lets people see the real business behind you. You have a voice, and you should use it.

Each of these points will help you to impress your clients and make your business somewhere that they would want to interact. Take a moment and make a list: your business needs to make waves, and you have the power to do it.

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Writing is a Business

As I often say, and as I stress in my new book, Writing as a Business, coming soon, writing is a business. If you have published a book, you now have a product to sell. That means you have started a business, and you are an entrepreneur. Congratulations! “But I am not a good business […]

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Chasing Down a Killer Explained

What does it really mean to chase down a killer? Here’s the thing: violent crimes are rare in some places, not in others. Serial killers are not rare in that world, they are just rarely caught.

This is true for a number of reasons. This blog will explore some of those, and some other practical aspects of being a private investigator and what that really means. Here are a few of the reasons which we will explore as we go.

Agencies Don’t Communicate as Well As You Think

Despite what they show you on TV, police and other law enforcement agencies often do not communicate well, and if a murder goes cold quickly or there is little what is considered meaningful evidence, it may never get into a national database. What does this mean? This means if a killer travels a lot, as Nicky does in the upcoming Max Boucher Mystery, Teaching Moments, they may get away with killing for years without anyone connecting the dots.

The good news is that these killers do make mistakes. Their routine or their trophies are actually their downfalls, and we will talk about those things there.

Warrants Matter

Often in fiction and on TV, evidence is collected by someone who makes up a reason for “probable cause” or even fakes one. Not so fast. This is not usually the way things work in real life. Evidence that is collected against legal means is often thrown out and can ruin the chances of a conviction. Seldom does a cop really have the opportunity or the means to execute a revenge spree, going after those who have escaped justice.

There are few, if any, ways around this. This means a private citizen cannot swoop in and grab evidence or a confession without police help and a warrant, not one that will stand up in court. Warrants matter, and getting them can be much trickier than portrayed in movies and various forms of fiction.

Killers are Smart, Sometimes

Many murders every year go unsolved or unprosecuted. This is because sometimes, killers are smart. Other times, they are just lucky. Or police departments are busy, response times are slow, or one of many other factors.

The truth is that many serial killers are pretty sharp though. They know how not to get caught, how to move around, what methods and weapons to use, and even how the police work. Today, that study can be pretty simple with a lot of that information available for free on the internet.

Killers are People Too

Just because a person is a killer does not mean they are a machine. Most killers are the heroes of their own story and feel like they are really doing the right thing. Many have family, friends, jobs, and the same things other people have. If you met many of them, you might even like them.

This helps bring them down too. Sometimes people notice things. Sometimes they have simple needs like eating, drinking, or getting some kind of supplies that gives them away. Often you can even empathize with them, but they are far from normal in other ways.

Cops and Killers are Cut from, the Same Cloth (Sometimes)

This has been shown in many studies, and we will talk about them later. Similar personality types and other things make cops and robbers a lot alike. Many of them have the same mental issues. Usually, they have just chosen to apply some of their skills in different ways: one for the side of good, the other for evil.

We will explore these and other fascinating topics here. Want to contribute to the discussion? Come on over and let me know. I would love to hear your ideas. Contact me at [email protected].

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Introduction to the Facts Behind Fiction

Have you ever heard that the truth is stranger than fiction? That is often the case. We can’t even use some of the best true crime cases to model our fiction stories after. Why? No one would believe things happened that way.

However, there are facts behind the fiction we write. When we talk about guns and shooting them, we need to be accurate. Because readers, at least some of them, know how these things work. We must also be careful with things like how people die, what they look like, and how we find the clues and solve the mysteries we create.

Did you ever wonder about some of the research, and why your favorite thriller and mystery author is being watched by the government? This blog will explore some of those themes and ideas.

The Police and Law Enforcement

Even though sometimes it might not seem like it in real life or on TV dramas, the police and law enforcement officers have rules they need to follow.  Most of the time, they do follow those rules. The exceptions are rare. Those exceptions make TV and fiction fun to read, but they are not really consistent with how the real world works.

That is why we, as authors, are careful about what we put in our books and what we say. We want to respect those who protect us, and we want you to understand that they are people just like you and me. Most of them are honest and good at what they do. Like any other profession, there are bad examples though.

Processing Evidence

For the sake of fiction, we often process evidence quickly. But it doesn’t happen that way in real life. Most smaller cities do not have a forensics department and often have to wait for help. DNA labs are extremely busy and backed up, and if the person’s DNA is not on file, police have to wait until they can match it to a potential suspect. To do that, they need enough evidence for a warrant to collect it.

It’s all rather challenging, and now juries, thanks to fiction, expect this kind of concrete evidence in most cases. It is problematic for both police and attorneys. When we try to be more realistic in fiction, it often makes our books seem slow or dull. So we have to bend the rules just a little.

We’ll talk more about this stuff in upcoming posts, at least once a week, where we deal with the reality behind fiction.

Murder, Serial Killers, and More

Crime is rare, kinda. And violent crime even more so. But many murders every year go unsolved. Want to know why? There are actually a whole host of reasons, and soon we will talk about some of them here, some related to today’s headlines, others related to cases in the past. You won’t believe some of what you will read.

Want to Contribute?

Want to be part of the discussion and share your knowledge in this area? Contact us at [email protected]. We can talk about your story, and even get you published here. For authors and others, this is a great opportunity to promote your books and reach a new audience.

Watch this space. Subscribe to our newsletter. We will be in touch!

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Should We Start A Business If We Don’t Like Our Jobs?

We’ve all been there, endured that daily drudge to the office and thought to ourselves, why am I even here? If we don’t like our jobs, we start to think about what else we can achieve in life. As our brain starts to daydream more and more, we could very well think of pragmatic approaches to appease our frame of mind. Starting a business is one of those things that we will give consideration to for the very simple reason that we’ve got some control over our lives because we set the hours. But if we hate our jobs and we really think that starting a business is a viable approach, should we dive right in?

Plotting Your Course

You’ve still got to work hard at your day job but give yourself the space to plan every single particular of the business. Whether you want to start a business yourself from scratch or go for a home based franchise, these questions all need answering. The great thing about having a job that provides a steady income means that you can focus on what is feasible and remain pragmatic.

The Big Mistake Most Budding Business People Make

It’s that notion of time. We may very well feel that we’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, but if we jump ship from our current job and think this will give us the fear to put our plans into overdrive, the fact of the matter is there’s a lot that we don’t have control over. It can be very motivating to get a home office set up, and making it an efficient entity, but there are so many other things that have to align to make the business work, but also profitable. It’s far better for you to start planning your business when in the security of a job. And the added bonus of this is that you will feel a bit more motivation, so the daily drudgery won’t feel so bad.

You Have Something To Fall Back Onto

As exciting as it is to finally take control over your life, you’ve definitely got to think about if it will take off. Leaping from the security of a full-time job into something that will be considered risky could mean you end up with nothing. Your business could go down the tubes and you have no means of earning money if you leave your job. The best approach is to have your full-time job but also start your business as the equivalent of a part-time one or side hustle. That way, you are gradually building up your knowledge and skills on a part-time basis, and when it gets to the point that the business becomes viable, this can start to take over your life. And when it gets to the point that you are so busy you cannot realistically keep both aspects going, then you will have the confidence to say goodbye to your job.

Unfortunately, not liking your job isn’t reason enough to get going. But if the job is taking over your life in an unpleasant way, you should focus on getting a better job that will still give you some sense of accomplishment, but also enable you to push forward with your true passions.

 

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