Like any other self-respecting small town, Carmel has its own newspaper. The Carmel Pine Cone has been informing residents and tourists alike of the goings on about town since 1915, a year before the city was incorporated on October 31, 1916. The paper is a free weekly, available at numerous businesses in the area, but it takes itself VERY seriously as the main source of local information.
OG and I first discovered the Pine Cone as tourists and got such a kick out of it we signed up for an online subscription. Now that we live here, I make every effort to ensure I never miss a single edition. Like most small town papers, it covers every major occurrence in the area--which includes the towns of Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove and Big Sur, as well as Carmel proper and Carmel Valley. There are regular features, such as the column entitled "Sandy Paws", which profiles one canine the reporter met at the beach during the preceding week. Because we're a tourist destination, there is ample advertising for local restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as a huge real estate section featuring color photos of many of the spectacular estate properties currently for sale in the area (because who wouldn't want to live here, right?) And the prices are always good for a laugh.
However, my favorite section of the Pine Cone by far has always been the Police Log. It's a day-by-day account of calls to the local police and county sheriff's office from each of the local communities. OG and I have always joked that our goal is to never end up in the Pine Cone, and so far, we've succeeded.
At least 50% of the calls are a combination of tourists losing their cell phones or passports at the beach or some sort of dog incident. The rest are a mix of everything from DUI arrests to confused elderly residents who are certain someone has been in their house moving things around. (Because we are a bastion of the very old, the police here are remarkably patient and understanding.) There's even a cartoon drawn by a local artist illustrating one of the more colorful entries in the blotter.
Every now and then, however, an incident appears that catches my attention as a writer. The account might only be a sentence or two, but it sparks an idea. Take this for instance, from last week's paper:
"Four juvenile females came to the police department to speak to an officer. The females reported that a friend of their father's has been showing up at their apartment when their father is not home. They also reported that he has broken into their home two times. Father was contacted and did not feel his friend was a threat. The females were told to call 911 if the male returns."
Tell me there's not a story there.
Or what about this one?
"Report of a man walking in and out of traffic on Forest Avenue at 1138 hours. The subject was described as wearing all black and dragging one of his legs."
Zombie apocalypse, anyone?
I'm currently at work on the third, and last, book in my female bodyguard series, and I plan to set my next series in a fictional small town around here. Every week, I scan the Pine Cone for story ideas and cut out anything that sounds promising to add to my growing file. By the time I write those books, I certainly won't have to worry about writer's block. I'll have a more than ample supply of possible plot points, courtesy of the Carmel Pine Cone. When the first book comes out, I'll have to send them a press release. Who knows, maybe they'll want to profile me in the paper. Then I'll have to face one of my greatest fears--appearing in the Pine Cone. LOL