They Wrote the Dam Story!

A drive down a dirt road overgrown with tall weeds, honeysuckle, and goldenrod revealed an old water and rust-stained dam, a deserted factory engulfed in vines, and a secret fishing spot. In all the quiet it was easy to imagine smoke billowing from the stacks, water rushing over the dam, and a line of workers standing in line to punch a time clock. Nevermore.

Nowadays, in addition to being the spot for catfishing, the off-the-beaten-path location is a breeding ground for fictional murder, macabre hiding spots for imaginary dead bodies, and an idea prompt for a popular 200-word short story contest.



2013 Writers’ Police Academy Golden Donut Short Story Contest



The rules were simple—write a story featuring the image we provided. The catch—the story must be told in exactly 200 words.

As always, we received a mountain of entries. And, each story we received was a nicely-told tale. But there could be only one winner.

So, without further ado, let’s bring Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys to center stage to announce the winner of the 2013 Golden Donut Short Story Contest.

The Echo

by Nancy Sweetland

I told my psychiatrist I was coming back here to banish my demons, stop the bad dreams.

He said he’d come along.

I wondered why he cared.

Mama’s long dead, an unsolved homicide. But if I remember anything to identify her killer even after all these years, I know I’ll end my misery.

Inside the rusted, screechy gate, my psychiatrist says, “There’s nothing here to help you remember.”

But he’s wrong! I catch my breath. In this dingy, unkempt area behind the abandoned building the haunting memory of a deep, coaxing voice echoes off the stark cement walls.

I shiver.

“Look under the stairs,” I say. Someone huddles there, shaking, tears rivering down his face.


Six years old.

Hiding from the man that hit my mama, bloodied her face, twisted her arm, made her scream. I hear the echo of his voice, wheedling, “Come on out, Kid. I won’t hurt you.”

I know that voice, so familiar to me now. Fury boiling up from years of lies, I step toward my psychiatrist.

I know now why he cares about my memories.

Know who he is.

Know how I can banish my demons, make the bad dreams stop.

Nancy Sweetland

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The 2016 Golden Donut Short Story Contest is OPEN! For details click the link below.

Golden Donut

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WPA Instructors Give Back: SWAT Officers Run for Kids with Cancer

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Many of the officers who taught workshops at the 2015 Writers’ Police Academy recently participated in the 50-mile Snowdrop Run, a charity fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and care. SWAT team members/WPA instructors ran in full SWAT gear. This, my friends, is exactly what the WPA is all about. We exist solely to help others—writers, student scholarships, etc.—, and thanks to you and our generous instructors, sponsors, and academy, we’re able to do just that. This further validates our decision to move the WPA to Appleton and FVTC.

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To date we’ve donated well over $70,000.00 to our host colleges/academies. The funds go toward student scholarships (both degreed and certificate programs), and to help with funding for police, fire, EMS, and forensics education and training. So, when you sign up to attend the WPA, your dollars and donated raffle and auction items are used to help enrich and better the lives of others, and we thank you for your continued support.


Read more about the Snowdrop Run here.


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TBT: 7 Years of Writers’ Police Academy Memories


The annual Writers’ Police Academy is now in its seventh year, and the memories we’ve created together are nothing short of wonderful.

Each year we strive to top the last, which is an extremely difficult challenge, but we always come through. The 2015 event is absolutely over-the-moon exciting! Believe me, we’ve pulled out all the stops.

The 2015 WPA is THE most action-packed, thrilling event we’ve ever produced, and due to a couple of recent cancellations we now have a few openings. So please hurry and sign up before those are gone. You do NOT want to miss this one of a kind event. There is nothing else like the WPA on the planet! Not even close.

But today, on Throwback Thursday, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few moments we’ve shared over the years. You know, those quiet and lazy times when the crickets are chirping, gentle breezes caress, and soft and soothing…gun blasts, police sirens, and laughter, lots of laughter are heard just outside your window.

Here’s how we roll…

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*Images by a variety of photographers, including Patti Phillips, Julie Goyette, Quay Williams, and Molly Weston. I apologize if I’ve neglected to mention anyone. Thanks to you all!

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Cops As Romance Cover Models: You Asked For It!

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What do you get when these guys, Rick McMahan and Mike Roche, are on the same program? Easy answer. Nothing but trouble! Well, trouble and over the top practical joking.

Last year at the Writers’ Police Academy, ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan (above left) decided to pull all the stops and go for the gold. With a little help from bestselling author Lori Foster, Rick “uncovered” the secret lives of a few WPA instructors/cops.

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Yes, during the Saturday night banquet, in front of everyone, Rick had the nerve to “bare” his friends’ hidden “treasures.”

Who knew…

Former Secret Service Special Agent Mike Roche was named The Love Doctor.

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Since Mike’s WPA appearance, his modeling skills have been in high demand.

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But Rick didn’t stop with Mike Roche. Oh, nooooo….

Next was the always-hot Captain “Honeybuns” Shepherd.

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Not to be outdone, Rick decided to display his own six pack to the banquet crowd.

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Of course, my friend Rick didn’t forget me, The Big Kahuna, in his twisted plan.

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Rick, I do hope you realize that someday, somehow, the “big one” is headed in your direction…


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