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Ground-truthing with a camera…instead of a magnifying glass! Creating Yoga Mat Mysteries by Susan Rogers and John Roosen #guestpost #writing #mystery #suspense

Ground-truthing with a Camera … Instead of a Magnifying Glass!


Creating Yoga Mat Mysteries


By Susan Rogers and John Roosen


The quintessential picture of a detective looking for clues is Sherlock Holmes with his magnifying glass in hand. Many stories have their protagonist wrapped in an Inverness coat or encased in an evening gown where they are fixated on some plant in the library or a doorknob in a darkened alley. In a steady voice they announce some profound observation deducing the single bloody grey hair found is paramount to unravelling a portion of the plot.


Watson called Sherlock “a well-trained foxhound” and while this is useful in detective or crime solving work, it is also essential in building a mystery series. In our case there are two well-trained foxhounds.


Ground-truthing Means Being There


While the internet, key experts and a wide array of research tools are incredible resources for authors, there is nothing like being there that gives us the reality that we are after in the Yoga Mat Mysteries series.  We love it when readers say: “I felt like I was standing right there,” or “I ate at the same restaurant that Ric and Elaina did and had the same meal,” or “I was on … the Sydney Bridge … the runway on Stradbroke Island … or the lookout at the Bay of Fires and saw what Ric or Elaina did.”


We want our readers to feel like they are part of the story, not just as readers of an eBook or listeners to an Audiobook.  We want them to feel like they have unlocked a secret magic door and are listening, learning and watching the lives of the characters as they struggle to find out what is going on. Or laughing when the characters are having fun with a disguise used in teasing out another clue.


Ground-truthing can be thought of looking at things by direct observation as opposed to information provided by a reference or even an inference. We will say right up front it is time-consuming and requires us getting out and where possible actually being in the exact location we want to describe.


It is not always easy, and often we find it is different than what we may have expected, even when we researched the location, building or street corner online.


We have been Cleaners, Law Enforcement Officers, Café Servers and Sailors


We have done many jobs in our careers, often completing one and swapping out that career for another. And we have different skillsets, so if one of us was a gardener, the other was a cleaner. 


In one sting operation which we conducted, one of us was the ‘pretend land developer’.  The other person arrested that land developer complete with handcuffs.  (We won’t reveal the exact details on that one … until that story gets into a book down the track line!)


But in another example, cleaning and shredding paperwork has been in both our job descriptions at one time or another.  So, in Dead Man’s Pose, Ric and Elaina have jobs as cleaners, and she asks:

They returned the rest of the ripped paper and assorted documents to the bin and Ric snapped the lid shut.

‘What are you going to tell Jack?’


‘I always find the truth is a productive method when dealing with the police. I’ll tell him we were going through this bin while at work on our paid job of cleaning. That’s legitimate.’


Been There, Seen That


We have been fortunate to have lived and worked in a wide variety of places around the world.  We have taken jobs we weren’t sure we could do; or seemed impossible to complete at the time. No matter, we’d give anything a go.


A key feature that boosts the precision and accuracy of our writing is that much of our ground-truthing has already been built into our past lives.   


Our stories introduce an abundance of locations—from gritty to glorious, from stunning to scraggy. We are committed to explore the locations that we write about.

For example:


·       It may mean driving across the Story Bridge in Brisbane not once or twice but multiple times. “John drive across again, we didn’t get a good picture!” John has counted three times in both directions.

·       Or walking up a hillside in Wagstaffe, New South Wales where we know Mr Green, the Python lives. “Susan, he’ll never come out … unless he’s hungry.”

·       Or stopping at four cafes in Launceston, Tasmania because: “You know Ric loves coffee … We have to try a few to see which one is the place Ric would go.” Susan rolls her eyes at this point.



Ground-Truthing is in our DNA


It is a bit unusual for both authors to have been in the military, both were enlisted and became officers, both served as Commanding Officers of two different military units.  Detailed studies on the origin of the term ‘ground truth, ground-truth, or ground truthing’ point to a military origin.


As such, it is only natural that two military officers want to check out the ‘lay of the land’ with increasing regularity. [“John, I don’t care if you want to go back to Antarctica to take a swim in the cut-out pool in the sea ice. I’m not ground-truthing there.”


To ground-truth often refers to the facts of a tactical situation. You can have all the intelligence reports, mission plans, and other descriptions reflecting the connotative or policy-based projections of situations, but when you walk the airfield on Stradbroke Island, you know exactly what aircraft and equipment can land and take off from there.


“Take Everything on Evidence”


We even provide the importance of taking things on evidence not only in what we write, but what our characters think.  Maximillian Oliver Williams (Elaina’s uncle) loves everything about England. So, one of the characters in Tree Pose (Zara) quotes Charles Dickens in Great Expectations:


“You should take the advice of Mr Jaggers. He gave Pip some sound advice you may want to follow.”


And Oliver does pay attention to this advice from Zara.


“After Oliver’s meeting with Zara, he figured out how the information was flowing. Zara had said “take everything on evidence” and he had sifted through the collection of data. The answer was blatantly simple, as good spytech usually is.”


Strewth – And That’s the Truth


We have found instead of a magnifying glass that Sherlock had in his pocket, we use a camera.  Make that two mobile phones with cameras.  We often have duelling phones at the ready while we try and find the best image which depicts the location, food, flower, boat, bridge or rock. From these images, we might talk about a scene and then describe it.


So, do we use our finely honed observation and tracking skills for what John is cooking for dinner, or where Susan hid the chocolate?


You bet we do. Strewth, mate!





A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has Watson observing Sherlock Holmes and noting … “he trotted noiselessly about the room, sometimes stopping, occasionally kneeling, and once lying flat upon his face...  As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded well-trained foxhound as it dashes backwards and forwards through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent…”


Title:       Tree Pose

Authors:    Susan Rogers and John Roosen

Genre:        Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Thriller, Adventure

Publisher:    G-EMS PTY LTD and PS LLC


Book Blurb:


Escape to Tasmania they said … But what was supposed to be a dream for Ric Peters and Elaina Williams has turned into a nightmare.


The Devil’s Island is living up to its name, serving up the ghosts of its dark past, while Ric is haunted by his own demons. The truth is unravelling, and death is closing in from all sides. And now, it's stalking Elaina.


Ric's past is catching up to him, with a vengeful man seeking retribution for a catastrophic blunder in Indonesia. Ric has kept a secret hidden from Elaina, fearing that she will not … cannot, forgive him. That after all they’ve been through, he’s not the man she believes him to be.


In the shadows, a hitman lurks ¬… waiting for the time to strike, unafraid of collateral casualties.


As corrupt officials pull strings and innocents are sold, Ric and Elaina’s life together is threatened. Detective Inspector Jack McMasters races against time to piece together the clues before it's too late.


A sociopath and an anguished man are closing in. As the lightning strikes, the uncertainties remain … revenge, redemption, or devastation?


Tree Pose is delivered hot with twists and turns, mixed with secrets and attractions, tossed with suspense and revenge, then blended with classic storytelling.


The third book in the Yoga Mat Mysteries series takes readers on a thrilling ride through the beautiful and mysterious island of Tasmania, Australia. The story follows Dead Man's Pose, set in Sydney, and Cobra Pose, set in Brisbane.


BUY Tree Pose for a captivating mystery with murders, ghosts, and a past that won't stay buried.


A special note from the authors:


“Lose yourself in our stories, get to know our characters, prepare to be entertained, travel to another place for a while. Come to the world of make-believe, to believe in afternoons of delight and evenings of being enchanted.”


Yoga Mat Mysteries is a series of books that are literary, carefully crafted, that rely on strong characterisations, richness of language and the sound and arrangements of words to entertain and enlighten the reader.


We believe our writing has a fresh approach to storytelling that is not bound by traditional rules or genres. While we follow some aspects of Crime Noir, we regard this as a spice to enhance the writing. Our writing stands on its own legs and we are not afraid of being different.  


Because we don’t follow the rules, anything can happen in our stories and usually does. We push boundaries, we think differently, we challenge the status quo.


Our writing is a composite of being entertaining while being introspective to help the reader make sense of the world by exploring our characters. Which leads to the fact that our stories are character driven with some plot. The characters are important in our writing sometimes more than the plot. The characters are explored, defined and in some cases dissected.


The story takes you through the action but more importantly it shows the characters in action and how the actions and plot change the characters.  We weave a story with the strands of mystery, adversity, evil, romance, love, change and light into a fabric to wrap around the reader as they read.


One final note.  As writers we physically ground truth every millimetre of the locations of our stories and the places we write about. Topography, geography, roads, transportation, services, government, physical layout, timing distances and locales.  We insure the accuracy and realism of our stories. 


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):









Author Biography:


What do a woman, who used to train military personnel how to shoot straight, and a man, skilled at eradicating all sorts of hazardous materials safely, have in common? Both were designated law enforcement officers and they have now written three ‘knock ’em dead’ books and produced three audiobooks … together!


Susan Rogers


Susan Rogers already knew she was a writer at age six, but as an adult she took a major detour in becoming a commissioned naval officer and  a designated law enforcement officer. She has conducted sting operations, run extensive weapons training programs and directed the restoration of a Presidential yacht. In between, she has written a number of  books. Susan’s work has taken her into  government operations in the United States, Australasia, the South Pacific and the Middle East.  She has  run health and safety operations for multi-billion-dollar projects in Abu Dhabi and worked for engineering and environmental firms in the Middle East on projects across the region.  She also  revamped a South Pacific maritime service with responsibilities for local trade vessels and an international fleet servicing the maritime industry. Susan continues to write: whether braced against the hull of a sailing vessel on a hard tack, during a crossing of the Middle East’s empty quarter in a Mini, or bouncing around in a troop carrier in Australia’s outback. 


John Roosen


John Roosen started his career as a biologist, served as a commissioned naval officer, designated law enforcement officer  and environmental emergency specialist in the United States, and has lived and worked in Australasia, the Americas, Antarctica and the Middle East. At a moment’s notice, he would respond to chemical and refinery plant explosions, deal with rocket fuel plant meltdowns and dismantle illegal drug labs.  John worked in the Middle East on a number of projects in Iraq, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and several conflict zones and other locations.  As a change-up, John switched careers to chasing pirates and dueling with a con artist extraordinaire on a remote South Pacific island as the Commissioner of Maritime Affairs. In between, he organised jungle expeditions and deep-sea scuba diving. However, John’s experience extends beyond responding to cataclysmic disasters and includes mastering the intricacies of making soufflé omelettes without burning the edges.


After writing Surviving Paradise about their life in the South Pacific, John and Susan created the concept of their mystery series. Dead Man’s Pose is first in the Yoga Mat Mysteries’ line-up, with Cobra Pose as the second in the YMM series, this was followed by Tree Pose and coming soon is Warrior Pose.


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1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Apr 22

Thank you for the outstanding guest post!

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