Why You Should Attend the Writers’ Police Academy – #WPA2016

WPA 2016If you write mystery or crime fiction, or romantic suspense, or anything where bad stuff happens, you need to know about police procedure and investigation, forensics, arson investigation, how PTSD affects law enforcement officers, emergency response teams, and all that stuff.

The best way to learn, hands down, is the Writers’ Police Academy, founded and run by Lee and Denene Lofland, with major sponsorship from Sisters in Crime. As you can tell from the photo, tThey make sitting in the BACK of a police car something to GRIN about!

The 2016 WPA was held at the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College outside of Green Bay, home to a terrific law enforcement training academy. It’s a hands-on, action-packed weekend. A few of the topics covered: Arson investigation; Asian and Native gangs; the Steven Avery investigation; ballistics; blood spatter (surprisingly popular!), courtroom testimony, common mistakes writers make about the law (I taught that one), death scene investigation, defense and arrest tactics, PTSD, drug ID, explosives, fire 101, force on force room clearing, forensic art, poisons, police talk, private investigation, undercover work, and more.

Hands-on sessions included driving, shooting, a shoot-don’t shoot scenario, and defense tactics. Each day, real-life scenarios were played out in front of us—a fatality collision, a stabbing on campus—so we could see who responded and what they did. The drone demo was great, and I’ll tell you, the SWAT armored vehicle is huge!

WPA 2016 2My personal favorite was the PIT maneuver driving class. I did it! I intentionally hit and spun another car! (Not easy for a personal injury lawyer to do that, but the instructor, Colleen Belongea, absolutely rocks!)

For perspective from other writers who attended, check out these blog posts:

Jessica Ellis Laine: Top Ten Reasons I Love the Writers’ Police Academy

Stacy Green: Writers Need the WPA Because Readers Are Smart

Terry O’Dell: Why Writers’ Police Academy? (This woman is serious—she’s attended 5 of the 8 WPAs!)

WPA Banquet photo #1I had a great time meeting so many Sisters in Crime—more than two-thirds of the attendees are members—and am gratified to know how valuable the experience is for Sisters, and others. (Banquet photo by Ohio Sister Jan Irvin.)

 

Planning for the 2017 WPA is underway. Watch the WPA website-–registration will open in February 2017.

The Saturday Writing Quote — commitment

IMGP1940This month’s theme: Commitment and practice

“The daily habit of committing one’s thoughts to writing doesn’t come easily. Writing is a craft that demands daily cultivation and application. One’s mind begins to expand the more one submits oneself to this notion of rigorous, constant craftsmanship.”

— Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette, in Blessings of the Daily: A Monastic Book of Days, entry for 6/26

Hat-tip to reader P.J. Coldren

Carried to the Grave — A Food Lovers’ Village Short Story — free!

CarriedToTheGrave_final_1875I am delighted to announce the release, next week, of CARRIED TO THE GRAVE, my first Food Lovers’ Village Short Story, featuring Erin Murphy and her village neighbor, Wendy the Baker. When Wendy’s family gathers after her grandmother’s funeral, she and Erin discover a decades-old secret that could prove still deadly.

The story will be available free to my newsletter subscribers. The summer edition will go out Tuesday, August 9, and will include the link and password to the Members Only page of my website, where you’ll be able to download the story in mobi, epub, and pdf formats. Newsletter subscribers receive seasonal updates, announcements of new books, and news of special events and giveaways. Subscribe on my website or through this link.

After writing only full-length novels the past few years, I wrote TWO short stories in June! The other is a historical set in Montana in 1885—more on that later!

And if you subscribe to this blog, thank you! The newsletter is separate, and I hope you’ll join my little community. Nonsubscribers will have a chance to buy the story later.

Many thanks!

Leslie 

An interesting experiment with 3D printers and fingerprint locks

medium_706401207 (1)Advances in technology can offer a writer a road block — highly desirable in fiction, where we want to complicate our characters’ quests, unlike real life, where we crave simplicity. But it can also offer creative solutions. That’s one reason I like this story from NPR about two Michigan detectives who sought help from a computer science and engineering prof to print 3D fingerprints to help them unlock a phone belonging to a murder victim. It took the prof, Anil Jain, and his team three tries to find the right combination of printing techniques. Jain says he was happy to help, but also hopes that the work highlights the security limitations of fingerprint locks.

Note, as the story stresses, that this phone belonged to the victim, not a suspect, and the police thought it might hold clues to the killer’s identity, so the privacy concerns presented in other cases weren’t a factor. And there is no word on whether the phone did provide helpful clues.

But the story may give writers a clue: Could your fictional detectives seek help from unlikely sources? Ask yourself what role technology plays in your investigation, and what creative means your detectives—amateur or professional—use to get around the obstacles, or take advantage of them?