Sandra Orchard
Personal Safety & Self-Protection Tips for Women

At the Writers’ Police Academy, I had the privilege of attending a class on this topic taught by Master Corporal Dee Jackson. And I’d like to share some of her excellent tips with my female readers.

Dee emphasized that an encounter will last at least two minutes and helped us experience the stamina that takes by having us high step in place for only one minute. Many were winded after that short time, which helped illustrate why she teaches self-protection as opposed to self-defense. She says, if you can’t last two minutes, you need to be able to disengage quickly.

The key to avoiding an encounter is hyper-vigilance.

You should be aware of your surroundings at all times. Swivel your head and look. If anyone is closing in within an arm’s length, turn to face them on a diagonal, with your strongest arm and foot back, your weight evenly distributed, your palm raised and firmly say “Stop” as loudly as deemed necessary for the situation.

You shouldn’t care if the person thinks you’re crazy or rude. Someone who means no harm will stop and back up. You can apologize later with a “you can never be too careful these days” if need be, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Think the best, but plan for the worst.

Facing the person who makes you uneasy and demanding they stop with your hand blocking them also serves the purpose of attracting attention from others, which will further discourage the perpetrator who may move on to an easier mark. And the dramatic move will hopefully prompt others to help.

Always park beneath a light standard, preferably one with a video camera.

If the person continues to approach, take a step back and say more forcefully, “I said get back.” For added shock value you might add some more colorful language.

What if an attacker grabs you by the throat?

Do not let him get you to the ground. The ground is your enemy. Remember your hands are free. Don’t use them to grab at his hands. Slam them down on his elbows to break the hold.

Or if he’s too tall, grab his shirt, dig in your fingers, pull him close and knee his groin as often as needed until he releases you. Then run.

If he grabs from behind, use one hand to try to ease his hold off your throat, use the elbow of your other arm to smash his head.

You can see how in a panic situation that unless you’ve practiced this over and over and built muscle memory, you are unlikely to react quickly enough, which is why hyper-vigilance is so important.

Additional tips

Long before you get close to your car, scan under it and around it. At a distance, you can do this without leaning down. Remember, the ground is your enemy.

The only door you unlock should be the one you are using and not until you’ve done a visual check of the interior.

If you have stuff to put away in your trunk, open your driver’s door first, shove your purse under the seat and relock. Next, lock kids in the car. Then put your purchases in the trunk.

When you leave the house, note where things are. When you return, pay attention. Is anything out of place? If so, take appropriate precautions.

One last tip from Eli Jackson, a martial arts expert and founder of the Authors Combat Academy, is run from a knife. If you engage, you will be cut. If you can’t get away, take advantage of pivot points to push the knife away. Swing your side being attacked out of the way and grab wrist with other hand, with thumb at back knuckle. This is a pivot point that will force the knife a different direction.

pivot point

She demonstrated various other pivot points that can be used to advantage, but to do this in the middle of an attack takes continual practice to build muscle memory.

Your Turn: Any tips or stories to share from your own experience?

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How to Have Fun Researching a Book

Attend the Writer’s Police Academy.

pic of simulated crash scene

Only at the Writer’s Police Academy would you come across a scene like this and think “oh, cool!” while you’re waiting for these guys to arrive:

pic of firefighter raising car

Or think it’s fun to be arrested.


And yes, a pretty woman can get out of a ticket by agreeing to a date. ;-)

Still friends

I’ll share more about “romance behind the badge” in a post at Craftie Ladies on Thursday. :lol:

explosive breach

And of course, watching things blow up is always fun. Well, if you’re a safe distance away. This was a demo of a door breach. No battering rams for this SWAT team when you need to make a quick entry.


I took a lot of notes on the EMS ridealong, since I’m putting the polishing touches on my paramedic story. Gotta say that if I was a victim and this guy was my local EMT, I might have a lot of medical emergencies. ;-)

I learned lots of fabulous details, brainstormed bombs with the chief of the airport’s security. Quizzed a group about a scenario in my current wip, including a former secret service agent, a retired police officer who now teaches munitions amongst other things and a retired officer/air force/swat guy who even found me the next day with a better idea he’d come up with while thinking over my dilemma since we’d last talked.

Since I didn’t get in until 2 am, I’ll save more details for future posts. I’m saving lots of pics for future bonus features in my books.

Next week, I’ll share important strategies the female attendees learned for self protection and defense.

Lee Lofland - He's the man

Lee Lofland – He’s the man

And I’ll close by thanking Lee Lofland, author of the fabulous Police Procedure & Investigation book for organizing this incomparable academy, Sisters in Crime and Ninc for helping to support it, the Guilford Technical Community College/Public Safety for hosting and the participation of too many fantastic instructors to name.

For the writers amongst my readers, word on the street is that not only will this event be held in NC again next year, Lee is also taking it on the road.



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What I Learned This Summer

First the Story

Remember your first day back to school when the teacher would ask you to write about your summer? Well…have I got a story to tell.

“He’s gone over!” my daughter yelled as we walked along the windblown beach and glanced behind us at the choppy water where my son had been playing in the waves with his kayak, confident he could handle them and well-protected from the chilly water by a waterproof boat skirt.

As my gaze lurched from the overturned kayak to the surrounding waves, my heart slammed into my ribs.

Close-up Image of Water

I was desperate for a glimpse of my son’s face.

We had no idea how long ago he’d flipped—a split second before we’d glanced over? Or longer? Much longer?

Too long?

The previous day, when the water was calm, he’d been practicing flipping his kayak, trying to master rolling it back upright. He never managed to do it, but the practice helped him learn how to react to flipping over.

Picture him clamped into a kayak by a tight-fitting rubberized skirt.

image of kayak skirt

Then picture him hanging upside down in choppy water, trapped by that same skirt. Yes, he’d had lots of practice yanking the release strap so he could escape, but that had been in planned flips.

Flips in which he’d had the chance to take a full breath and hold it before going under.

Not being sideswiped by a strong wave and then held under by the unusually high undertow.

Finally his head broke the surface, not because he’d managed to get out, but because the water was shallow enough that he could brace his hand in the sand and push his head above water.

It took another couple of frantic seconds to release the skirt.

Perhaps only nanoseconds, but it felt a lot longer to him and to a mother torn between crashing through the water fully clothed to haul him out and trusting her adult son to do what he’d trained himself to do.

Why have I shared this story?

Because it is a snapshot of my summer. I was working on a manuscript that didn’t come together the way I thought it would, drowning under waves of doubt, desperate for a glimpse of light, a snatch of breath, divine help.

Even though my son had practiced capsizing, it did little to temper his panic when he couldn’t escape. But sheer determination and the steps he’d practiced served him well.

In the same way, I’ve studied writing craft inside out and, this summer, read a few more books on the topic. And I’d long ago formed the habit of turning to God in times of trouble, both big and small, especially with my writing struggles. But when weeks at my keyboard went by with few new words, that I actually liked, to show for my time, my prayers started to sound like a broken record.

Yet… I had a quiet confidence that the right words would come.

My deadline wasn’t that ominously close…yet.

And this wasn’t the first time I’d gotten stuck in a story. In fact, I flipped back through my journal and found that I had similar desperate moments at some point with just about every book I’d written.

And God had always answered my prayers…eventually.

The eventually part relates to me, the mother, standing on shore, trusting my son to apply the skills he’d learned.

God doesn’t always choose to give us what we ask for in the way we want or hope or expect, but He promises to never leave us.

Perhaps, as with my son…

Our small “capsizes” are practice rounds to equip us for the storms ahead.

Which begs the question: Why doesn’t He just take away the storm and calm our turbulent seas?

I think, because…

Sometimes, it takes coming to the end of ourselves to know He’s always near.

Your Turn: What did you learn this summer?


Water image courtesy of my talented daughter JL Orchard

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Feeling Creative? and… One Day Sale!

Wow, this summer has flown for me. And once again, I’m breaking my blogging break to bring you breaking news.

How’s that for a tongue twister?!  :-)

Cover Pic of Blind TrustOn Tuesday August 26th

The Ebook version of Blind Trust will be on sale for only $1.99 at participating retailers. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’d really appreciate it if you tell your friends about this great deal.

And… I’m on another search for a great TITLE

This one is for my paramedic story for Love Inspired Suspense. I’ve received some great suggestions on my Facebook page, but I’m not quite sure that we’ve hit on one that my publisher will latch onto just yet. If you’d like to offer some suggestions, I’d appreciate it. If my publisher chooses your suggestion, I’ll mail you a copy of the book when it’s available.

The basic plot is…

My paramedic heroine is threatened by an unknown stalker. But with his brother the prime suspect, can the sheriff’s deputy determined to protect her win her trust and his brother’s in time to save her from the real bad guy?

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

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Big Thank You & Giveaways This Week

Thank you so much to all who voted for


Blind Trust

at Clash of the Titles.

Conqueror ButtonIt won!


To continue the celebration…

Visit me this week at

International Christian Fiction Writers

 and leave a comment for a chance to win an E copy of Blind Trust (or other Orchard title of your choice) ;-)


for a second opportunity…

on Friday, August 1st hop over to

Suspense Sisters

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Please Vote

Hi All…I know I’m supposed to be taking a blogging break over the summer and I keep popping in here with news.

Blind Trust is on Clash of the Titles this month (where you vote for the books based on cover and description that you want to read this summer.)

Clash of the Titles

If you’ve read, plan to read or would like to read Blind Trust, I’d appreciate it if you popped over to the page and voted for it:

No email etc required. You just click the title then “next” then “done.” Easy peasy.


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Giveaway this Week

Visit me this week at

MBT Ponderers

 and leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of Blind Trust ;-)


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One Day Only Super Sale


Ebook Lovers here’s your chance to get Blind Trust for a steal!

And…it’s a cheap great way to gift Aunt Martha who got that Ebook reader for Christmas a great book. ;-)

It’s $2.99 or less wherever Ebooks are sold.

Here are some of the most popular links:

Amazon US
Amazon Canada

Amazon UK (£1.44 Kindle)

Amazon Australia (Epub version) only $2.39!

If you enjoyed Blind Trust, I’d love it if you’d tell your friends about this great deal! There are share buttons below to make it super easy. Of course…I highly recommend reading Deadly Devotion first. :-)

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Be Inspired This Summer

rainbow over fallsLast week, I was able to enjoy a few days away with my hubby at Letchworth State Park to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was so nice to spend hours of uninterrupted time together, hiking through God’s beautiful creation, being awed by sights such as the rainbow above or soothed by the sound of waterfalls.


I was reminded of Jesus invitation to his disciples at a time when they were very busy with people coming and going:

“Come with me

by yourselves to a quiet place

and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

I don’t know about you, but I can be a bit of a workaholic, so I find it reassuring that Jesus stressed the importance of taking time to rest, to renew and refresh your spirit, soul, mind and body. With edits to do on one novel, another novel to finish, and my thoughts eagerly jumping ahead to a future series I’ve proposed, I know that this verse is talking to me. So…

My blogs may be sparse this summer as I’ve scratched “write this week’s blog” off my to-do list for the summer.

But…I loooove having conversations with my readers and with aspiring writers, so please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions here or via email or on my Facebook page (where I will continue to check in each day).


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Brainstorming Characters

What a whirlwind this month has been! Can you believe we’re already in the last week?

I want to send out a huge thank you to so many of you who have already read Blind Trust and taken the time to blog about or post reviews. I really appreciate your support!

As I await edits on the third, and last, book in the Port Aster series, I’m enjoying brainstorming characters for a new series.

jennifer-connelly-people-in-tv-photo-u47.jpg"}}}I’ve copied and pasted a slew of handsome male actors’ pics into my male characters’ file,  :lol: and I think I’ve settled on Jennifer Connelly as the model for my heroine.

I love this part of writing, when ideas come fast and furious and it feels as if they’ll never stop.

I literally had to set a notepad and pen outside the shower, because all these punchy comebacks that I imagined she might say kept popping into my head. My notepad is now a tad soggy, but I’m not complaining!

Of course… the reality of publishing is that the Port Aster series needs to sell well for my publisher to want to start another with me. But I’m happily ignoring that minor detail at the moment.  ;-)

If you’re an aspiring writer and would like to learn a little more about how I create characters, join me at the Faith, Hope, Love blog on Monday where I’ll be sharing Keys to Creating Compelling Characters.

And I can’t resist sharing a pic of the biggest ‘character’ in my life these days–my soon-to-be-one grandson:

"Oh, nana, I know you just cleaned these all up, but I'm not tired enough to go to bed!"

“Oh, nana, I KNOW you just cleaned these all up, but I’m not tired enough to go to bed!”

Your Turn: What’s the most interesting character in your life these days? Real or imagined. :-D



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Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard

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