“Survivor”–Sisters in Crime version

Vinnie Hansen is starting off our August blog schedule with a bang today, with her own version of a reality show. And she’s got some really BIG news to share!

Shh, not until the end of the post though. But it’s definitely something she can BRAG about.


by Vinnie Hansen DSCN0415What would happen if a villain dropped one of our protagonists into the wilderness? How would our heroine survive?

That question and a love for camaraderie propelled 13 brave members of my Sisters in Crime chapter to attend a Wilderness Survival Camp.

Dan, our fearless leader

Dan, our fearless leader

We met our fearless leader Dan, a consultant to various reality television shows, in the redwood forest of a private vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The first rule for survival is: Don’t Panic.

Air is our most essential element. We can live for only a few minutes without it. Adrenaline sucks up oxygen.

Lack of oxygen can make our limbs go numb and our brain lose perspective. Perfectly outfitted hikers have been found dead in the wilderness because they became disoriented, forgetting where they set their pack or the direction back to their shelter.

After some deep breathing, the sacred order for survival is:

1. shelter
2. water
3. fire
4. food

Before our training, I thought water was the most important concern, but a person can go for days without water. Exposure, not dehydration, is the leading cause of death in the wilderness. Shelter allows one to thermo regulate, which conserves water, and protects against heat or cold.

Dan divided us into three teams, and after a brief lesson set us off to build shelters given the materials at hand. Some simple rules: create plenty of insulation under and around the body, and create a small area of dead air space for one’s body heat to warm. In other words, the shelter should be a snug fit.

DSCN0420 shelterHere’s what my team built. Dan tested the shelter by standing on top of it. All three teams built “tents” that withstood his test

Next we tackled finding water, easy in our spot with a river flowing below us. But even in the desert water exists. Look for the lowest point, signs of vegetation, and animal tracks. Animals have to drink! Even butterflies and bees need water. You can collect water by running your shirt through dew points.

If you have a choice, choose running water over still water, and water that supports algae and tadpoles over water that appears devoid of life.

Boil if possible. We learned how to rock boil water even without a pot.

That brings us to fire.

Dan showing our Sister in Crime Jenny Carless how to make a friction fire.

Dan showing our Sister in Crime Jenny Carless how to make a friction fire.

Making friction fire is an arduous task, involving many steps. Nonetheless, a couple of my sisters did create fire before our camp ended, lifting them to goddess status.

Most of us left vowing to carry matches–everywhere.

Jenny, aka the SiN Fire Goddess

Jenny, aka the SinC Fire Goddess




One participant already reported back that the TSA allows one book of matches.

This was a rewarding experience even if not a single detail finds its way into one of my mysteries. I came home exhausted, but in the way one does after a day outdoors in the sun with a lot of good friends.

Have you ever taken any survival training? How well do you think you’d do out in the wilderness on your own?


And now the news… Drumroll please. Black Beans and Venom, the most recent book in my Carol Sabala mystery series has won a B.R.A.G. medallion.

This honor is bestowed on top quality indie books by the Book Readers Appreciation Group, and I’m thrilled to have received it. Check out the gold medallion that now adorns the book cover. 😀


Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her cozy noir mystery series, the Carol Sabala mysteries, is set in Santa Cruz, California.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

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  • Reply
    shannon esposito
    August 4, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    You are so brave! LOL! Actually, it sounds like an amazing experience and hanging out with other mystery writers anywhere would be fun. I would’ve thought water would be the number one priority also… followed by making weapons to ward off snakes, monster alien spiders and saber-tooth tigers. Oh and alligators. Yeah, I’m doomed. But thanks for sharing your experience and congrats on the B.R.A.G award, it looks smashing on your cover. 🙂 *runs to put matches in my purse*

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    August 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    You have such a great sense of humor, Shannon. I hope we have an opportunity to meet at some point–doesn’t have to be quite so adventurous. With Kass, it will simply be lunch in Half Moon Bay. 🙂

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    August 5, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Congrats on the medal, Vinnie! What a way to celebrate – I would have chosen dessert and a good bottle of wine, LOL. Great dedication to your craft! *wink*

    • Reply
      Vinnie Hansen
      August 9, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks, Kathy. After the adventure, I celebrated with a shower–not too long because of the drought, and not hot, to avoid spreading around poison oak oil. Poison oak abounded, so I’m amazed I didn’t get any!

  • Reply
    Kassandra Lamb
    August 8, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Congrats on the BRAG award, Vinnie!! Very impressive.

    But do tell, how does one “rock boil” water without a pot? Sounds like a pretty useful skill to have!

  • Reply
    Vinnie Hansen
    August 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Well, first one makes a bowl. 🙂 No joke. Find a big hunk of wood. Drop hot coals on top. Let the wood char. Scrap out the char. Repeat the process. This can take hours, but as Dan assured us, you won’t die of thirst in a few hours. Fill the bowl with questionable water. Put rocks into the fire to heat. Find a couple of good-sized branches and using them like chopsticks, pick up the hot rocks and lower them carefully into the water. The water will boil.

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