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
As long as you stay out of the Police Log, your profile will be fine, Alison. Wait! Why don't you write the release as if that's exactly where it needs to go! In this day of so much fake news and biased reporting, small town newspapers are the very best source of real news. Thanks for sharing.
What a great idea for a series, Alison...good for you for thinking ahead and gathering vignettes for your newest novels! A 100 year old small town newspaper is a treasure. Do they stay away from nation/world politics? Love Police Logs, especially the stories of stupid criminals.
We have a small town paper, too. Apparently I've been missing out by not reading the police logs... I'll have to remedy that! Hey, maybe we can do something wild and crazy on our retreat and end up in the Pine Cone...
Haha, Margo! I love the idea of my news release showing up in the Police Log. That would be classic Pine Cone.
Rolynn, the only politics is found in the editorial, and everyone knows the owner/editor is a nutter, so his column is generally considered a joke.
Jannine, I don't know if your local newspaper is as colorful as ours, but you should check it out. We can get you a souvenir Pine Cone while you're here. LOL
You could name your fictitious small town in your next series Pine Cone. The man who was dragging his leg...was it still attached to his body? My warped mind at work here. Loved the post. Our local paper like that is The 'Burg since we live in Lynchburg. It caters to artists and artistic businesses.
Vonnie, I don't know about the man's leg. We can only speculate. LOL
I have the same sort of paper here in East Hampton, only they enhance it in the summer with the celebrities who have homes and their goings on. This reminds me that apparently when the Titanic went down, a Warwick (England) paper ran the headline, Local Man in Sea Tragedy.
Andi, we have our share of visiting and local celebrity sightings, too. I love the Titanic headline! The most important attribute of a local paper is its local perspective. LOL
Those girls and the father's friend doesn't sound like such a brush-off story. I'd wonder what was going on. Love the police log for learning what's going on in town. Full of story ideas.
Great post, Alison! As I've mentioned before, I work at our daily newspaper and am responsible for answering the newsroom's tip line! Although we're not really a small town paper, people are people no matter where you go, and some of those tips are doozies! (One time a woman came into the lobby asking us to write a story about her oddly shaped yam....I'm not kidding.)
Can't wait for the third book in your series! Happy writing.
Diane, those girls and their father sounded like a potentially very serious situation to me, and I was surprised the police didn't send and investigator from CPS. I might well have to right that wrong in an upcoming book.
Leah, I thought of you while I wrote this post. LOL
How cool! I love that you have such a quaint little local newspaper. Yep, definitely a book in those reports. :)
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