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The curtain rises on this collection of twisted tales, revealing the words of thriller author Lee Child. Child sets the stage for a series of mysterious and strange goings-on that occur between the hours of midnight and dawn … the graveyard shift.

After Midnighteditor Phoef Sutton guides readers through a riveting collection of stories written by bestselling mystery and crime authors, top television writers, a Nashville music legend, true crime experts and more.

Contributing authors in this first anthology produced by the Writers’ Police Academyinclude bestselling mystery and crime authors, top television writers, true crime experts, and more.

Included Stories:

Lucky Cop by RJ Beam
The Brass Ringby Michael A. Black
Sunshine Berkmanby Joseph S Bonsall
Ride Alongby Allison Brennan
The Bookends Murderby Robin Burcell
Gentrified Homicideby Marco Conelli
Prime Rib from Brahmaby Les Edgerton
Justifiable Homicideby Lisa Klink
Rookiesby Howard Lewis
LeishMANIAby Denene Lofland
The Trapper of Macabre Countyby Lee Lofland
Code Murderby Linda Lovely
Baddest Outlawsby Rick McMahan
Shared Secretsby Carrie Stuart Parks
The Case of the Staring Manby Katherine Ramsland
Panther Baitby Mike Roche
Disco Fries and Homicideby Shawn Reilly Simmons
3:45 in the Peacock Room of the Channel Grill on 6th Street 
by Phoef Sutton
Hostage (A Love Story)by Cheryl Yeko
With a Foreword by Lee Child

The Contest

A 3500 to 5000 word short story contest that lands two lucky winners in this traditionally published book. Yes, your story could soon appear alongside those of the popular authors listed above, and with a foreword by #1 internally bestselling author Lee Child. How’s that for exciting! Contest begins now and deadline to submit stories is midnight EST on April 1, 2019.

This could be your one chance in a lifetime to have your writing appear in a traditionally published book with Lee’s Child’s name on its cover. Let that sink in for a minute … and then get busy writing your winning story!

About the Editor

Phoef Sutton is a New York Times Bestselling author and winner of two Emmy Awards for his work on the classic television comedy CHEERS. Phoef also won a Peabody Award for the popular legal drama BOSTON LEGAL starring James Spader, William Shatner, and Candice Bergen. Lately, he’s been writing television movies for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.

Submit your stories online.

The Launch Party

Join the publisher of After Midnight, Level Best Books, and the Writers’ Police Academyto help celebrate the launch of this thrilling new book. Party takes place at the Friday reception at MurderConand books will be available for purchase at the event and by preorder, and later at all the usual book outlets, including Amazon.com.

Killers, both fictional and the real-life murderers who live and walk alongside us as we carry on with our daily activities, will seemingly do anything to cover their tracks in order to avoid capture by the police. They flee the country. They lie. They stage alibies. And they sometimes use fire to conceal their crimes.

Setting aside fictional characters for a moment, let’s examine the very real case involving Gwendolyn Bewley, a 67-year-oldCleveland, Ohio woman whose charred remains were found on the kitchen floor inside her burning home. At the time of death, the body was in such poor condition that the medical examiner was unable to determine the actual cause of death.

Investigators thought it likely that Gwendolyn Bewley might have been strangled to death before her killer arranged paper and pieces of cardboard on and around her body before setting them ablaze. The purpose of the fire, they believed, was to destroy any possible evidence.

In the weeks prior the deadly fire, a man named Timothy Sheline moved next door to Ms. Bewley, into a home owned by his brother. Sheline’s broad criminal history included a 1989 aggravated arson conviction.

A couple of days after the fire and the discovery of Bewley’s body, police saw Sheline driving a car that Bewley had rented. They learned that one day after the fire Sheline had called Bewley’s sister to inquire about a lockbox Bewley kept inside her home. After further investigation, police discovered that Sheline had been using the dead woman’s credit cards to obtain cash. They also found her computer in his possession.

He was arrested and charged with unauthorized use of the car. He was also charged with the use of Gwendolyn Bewley’s credit cards.

Due to the lack of adequate cellphone tracking at the time of the arson, detectives were unable to tie Sheline to the scene of the crime. The alibi he offered appeared to be legimate. But investigators, having that “cops’ sixth sense” kept the file open, hoping to someday tie Sheline to Bewley’s murder.

Ironically, during Sheline’s trial for the use of the credit cards and unauthorized us of the car, prosecutors questioned the son of a woman who dated Sheline several years earlier. He described to the court how Sheline stole money from his mother and when she found out and confronted him about the missing cash, he set fire to her house. The blaze killed their family pet.

As time had passed, the team of investigators working this case grew to include local detectives, the State Fire Marshall’s Office, and the FBI, and it was, in 2014, approximately seven years after the initial crime occurred when new technology to cull data from cellphone towers became available. Experts received the break they’d been hoping for and  immediately called on forensics expert Eric Devlin, who was able to successfully track Sheline’s cellphone. He discovered it had pinged off a tower less than two-tenths of mile away from Bewley’s house shortly before the time of the fire.

By utilizing that brand new cell-tracking technology process detectives were able to prove Sheline’s alibi was bogus. He was not out-of-state at the time of the murder as he’d claimed. The finally had the last piece of the puzzle needed to place Sheline behind bars for Bewley’s murder, the full “MOM”—motive, means, and … opportunity. He was in the area which meant he did indeed have the opportunity to commit the crime. The discovery shattered Sheline’s alibi.

Fire had not been enough to prevent this killer from serving the rest of his life in prison, where he now sits, day-in and day-out—24-7-365.

Arson Investigations Are Tough Work

Arson investigations are not fun. Not at all. Especially when they involve a murder where the killer used the fire to conceal the crime. Arson scene are extremely messy, smelly, and the evidence is unpleasant to handle and process, especially when the victim is badly burned. It’s horrid, actually, and the experience is one that is unlikely to leave the mind.

I’ve always said that it takes a special person to work an arson case. It also takes a special writer to effectively set those scenes to page, one who’s willing to do a bit of homework.

There’s science and a distinct discipline behind the solving arson cases. There’s an art to it, actually—to be able to iron-out the details and bring them all together to form a conclusion as to how fires start and the patterns that expose their sources.

That part I liked—the puzzle-solving that involves the combination of investigatory skills and experience along with modern forensic tools and equipment. After all, those puzzle pieces are in place at the precise moment the first ember begins to glow. They’re all there, ready for bagging and tagging, as long as everyone involved in the case does their part, correctly.

So how should authors approach writing about such complicated crimes? For starters, please do not rely on the internet to help you with developing sensation and emotion because you won’t find anything remotely close.

Sure, you’ll read about burn patterns and the tools used to delicately search through charred rubble in a search for evidence. But that’s not enough to take your readers inside a burning home where a murder victim was left behind to be destroyed along with a thirty-year old couch and the family photographs.

Why Attend the Writers’ Police Academy?

When we designed the Writers’ Police Academy, the very first one, we did so with writers in mind. We examined what it is that’s often lacking in so, so many books—real life experiences. The experiences that bring to mind the odor of burnt gunpowder (NOT cordite), the gut-wrenching feeling that occurs when a little one dies in your arms after being abused by a drug-addicted, extremely high parent. Yes there is a specific reason behind each and every session offered at the WPA, and typically each one has to do with something we’ve seen written incorrectly in someone’s book. We also keep writers up to date on the latest technology and procedures.

Bullets and Heartbeats!

The sound of bullets pinging and popping into the fender of a car you’re crouched behind as a crazed gunman lobs round after round in your direction. The sensation of your heart thumping against the inside of your chest wall as you search for an armed robber inside a dark abandoned warehouse.

Feeling the searing, unbearable heat that singes your eyebrows and warms your skin to temperatures you’re almost certain could fry eggs. The sight of what used to be a teller at a downtown bank, reduced to a blackened lump that resembles an adult-sized lump of scorched and charred charcoal. Fingers and toes separated from limbs due to ligaments and tendons having been burned away.

Seeing orangish-red flames undulate and spread across what was once a bedroom where a grandmother lay sleeping after enjoying an afternoon with her family. Those same flames push you back and back and back, choking off your oxygen and filling your throat and lungs with what feels like cotton soaked in molten lava.

You try and try and try until you succumb to the painful reality that there’s no chance whatsoever at saving the life of the elderly dear woman. You stand there gasping for fresh air while choking back tears, tears that when they’re finally released create tiny, curvy creeks in the soot staining your face.

But, unless you’ve, as they say, been there done that, you can only imagine what it’s like to experience these horrors.

So, that’s how and why we bring the Writers’ Police Academy to you each year. We want your stories to evoke emotion from your readers. We want your readers to know that you’ve done all you could possible do to entertain them in the ways they should be entertained. They’ll know this when they suddenly realize they’ve been reading your latest book until the wee hours of the morning, nonstop. Page after page after page.

We do our job so you can do yours. It’s as simple as that.

This year we’ve gone way over the top of what even we imagined eleven years ago when the WPA was nothing more than a wild idea in my mind. We’ve teamed up with a giant in the field of forensics and crime scene investigation, Sirchie, to offer to you, MurderCon, a special hands-on training event for writers of all genres, with a specific focus on solving the crime of murder.

Included in the MurderCon program is a one-of-a-kind class called Burn baby, Burn!!! Arson Investigation.

This is an outdoor session with live demonstrations of actual burns. Attendees will experience the effects of burning various pieces of evidence. Participants will learn the fundamentals of fire science, recognition of fire behavior including burn patterns and aftermath, and how fire is utilized by perpetrators during the commission of violent crimes and murder to attempt to conceal and/or destroy evidence.

Yes, you will receive instruction that not only covers the knowledge portion of fire and how it’s used to conceal crimes, we’re taking you on an adventure. A journey that delivers to you the sensations of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight.

You’ll also experience a bit of emotion as you witness actual burns while using your writers’ imagery to picture what it must be like to be a victim who’s trapped inside the flames and heat and smoke. You’ll hear their cries (in your minds) and their pleas for help. You’ll sense what it’s like to be the officer on the outside looking in, helpless against an inferno. And you’ll imagine the body of a murder victim burning along with floorboards and window and door trim.

Burn Baby, Burn is a hands on training event that’ll surely help you breathe life into what should be an emotional rollercoaster ride for your readers.

This exciting session is taught by Ken Andrews.

Ken has over 30 years of fire investigation experience, including 28 years as an agent with the ATF and as a private consultant. He is an International Association of Arson Investigator’s (IAAI) Certified Fire Investigator and Certified Fire Investigation Instructor.

Ken was a member of ATF’s elite National Response Team (NRT) and an ATF Certified Explosives Specialist for 18 years. He has conducted investigations related to fire and explosions involving vehicles and residences as well as large industrial and commercial scenes. Ken has also instructed fire and explosion investigators nationally and internationally. During his career with ATF, he was a regular instructor at the National Fire Academy, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, Thailand.


To register for MurderCon and to learn more about the exciting 2019 classes and workshops, please visit our website at …

https://www.writerspoliceacademy.com


BIG NEWS!

Writers’ Police Academy Anthology Full Details Released Today!

Writers’ Police Academy Anthology Full Details Released Today!

Details also include a short story contest that lands you in a published book, with foreword by Lee Child. Yes, YOU could have YOUR story published in this thrilling collection of tales written bestselling mystery and crime authors, top television writers, true crime experts, a Nashville music legend, and more.

Contest winners receive an invitation to sign copies at a book launch party taking place at MurderCon. Launch party and reception sponsored by the publisher, Level Best Books, and the Writers’ Police Academy.

AFTER MIDNIGHT: TALES FROM THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT

Edited by Phoef Sutton – Phoef Sutton is a New York Times Bestselling author and winner of two Emmy Awards for his work on the classic television comedy CHEERS. Phoef also won a Peabody Award for the popular legal drama BOSTON LEGAL starring James Spader, William Shatner, and Candice Bergen.

About the book – The curtain rises on this collection of twisted tales, revealing the words of bestselling thriller author Lee Child. Child sets the stage for a series of mysterious and strange goings-on that occur between the hours of midnight and dawn … the graveyard shift.

https://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/after-midnight-tales-…/

 

It’s a new year and soon I’ll be the proud owner of a brand new, shiny left hip. Yes, tomorrow is surgery day.

I’ve endured a couple of years dealing with pain that grew increasingly worse as the days passed by. Routine tasks and chores eventually became difficult to perform, at best. Things I enjoyed eventually became an impossibility—biking, hiking, kayaking, yard work. Even sitting at my desk to write now sometimes hurts badly enough to bring a tear to the eye.

I made it through the 2017 and 2018 Writers’ Police Academy and all the walking it entails, but it was tough, especially the event in 2018. I finally gave in and simply sat in the lobby or in the office areas. I caught rides to workshops that were easily within walking distance when I was able to do so back in the day.

I’d called on the assistance of Virgil, my trusted cane and new friend who now never leaves my side, while maneuvering and limping through airports during the trip to Green Bay and subsequently to Delaware. Airport officials provided a wheelchair when I could no longer make it to a gate or down a jetway. But while at the WPA, Virgil took a break. Couldn’t show that crack of weakness. It’s a guy/cop thing, I suppose.

The painful hip also caused me to go missing during nighttime mingling and networking at the WPA. It prevented me from hanging out with everyone in the bar area. I was unable to participate in many aspects of the event(s). By the end of the day I was in agony. Basically I was AWOL from an event I started and host.

Fortunately, the WPA, thanks to a wonderful and extremely hardworking all-volunteer staff—Linda Lovely, Howard Lewis, Cheryl Yeko, Denene, our fantastic group of core instructors who travel with us wherever we land, a host of other volunteers, and the outstanding staff and police academy instructors at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), the WPA flowed as smoothly as melting butter.

This says a lot considering the enormity of the event. The WPA is a massive hands-on conference to plan and produce and to do so while in constant pain would’ve been impossible. So I thank everyone involved for taking nearly the entire load from my shoulders.

The 2019 WPA, as many of you know, is a special event—MurderCon—and will be a different format from our previous ten years. We’re extremely excited to have the opportunity to host the event at the Sirchie training facility just outside of Raleigh, N.C.

Sirchie, was founded in Philadelphia, in 1927, to provide fingerprinting materials. Then, approximately 30 years ago, the company started training the experts who used their products. Now, each year, over 700 law enforcement professionals receive training at the Sirchie campus.  These experts come to Sirchie from  sheriff’s offices, local and state police agencies, federal agencies, state prison systems, airport security, FBI agents whose focus is primarily on counter terrorism, and Treasury and Secret Service agents.

Yes, writers will definitely receive the exact same homicide investigation training as those law enforcement officers/investigators.

“When writers graduate from MurderCon, they’ll have the knowledge to describe what really happens—and doesn’t happen—in a homicide investigation. When MurderCon attendees leave, they’ll know what it feels like to conduct an investigation.

Having first-hand experience will allow them to portray crime scene details realistically; and it will let them share with their readers how it feels to investigate a homicide. ”

~ Dyer Bennett, vice president of Sirchie’s Product Development and Training.

So today I’m sitting in a recliner, a new one we purchased to allow me some post-surgery comfort, listening to the buzzing of saws and the in and out flow of contractor foot traffic as they try to finish our bathroom. I’ve also been working with Sirchie and hotel officials today to plan and coordinate the 2019 event schedule.

Now, during a break, I’m thinking about tomorrow when, at this time of day, my faulty hip will be in a hospital garbage bag waiting for disposal while a new manmade hip is in its former location.

I’m truly anxious for the surgeon to rid my body of the intense pain I’ve experienced, especially over the past few months. And I know Denene is anxious to no longer have to put my socks on my feet (I can’t reach them), take out the trash, go to the grocery store, pick up Virgil after the seemingly thousands of times a day I drop him and, well, to not have to wait on me hand and foot.

And, I’m anxious to tell you about what happens “After Midnight.” Yes, in addition to the super exciting MurderCon, another BIG surprise is on the way!

So, the next time you hear from me will be after I’ve returned home from the surgery. Until then …

 

Each year on the last day of December I travel to a secret location where I meet with my friend Madam Zelda to learn her predictions for the coming year. The mysterious clairvoyant is so good at what she does that she’s rarely, if ever, wrong. The woman is uncanny.

So, in keeping with year-end tradition, Madam Zelda did a reading for us this morning and she’s confident 2019 will be fantastic. Here’s a list of her top fourteen predictions. Believe me, she’s always right … sometimes.

Here goes …

  1. California will enact new law requiring all laws to be law, unless exceptions and exemptions are needed to make the law a bit less lawful to avoid hurting the feelings of criminals.
  2. California police officers will no longer have powers of arrest. Instead, their new duty is to be the punching bags of politicians and criminals, which are often one and the same. Can’t tell them apart …
  3. Due to the large number of people now residing in California, the government will be forced to divide the land mass into two separate states—Regular California and the State of Homelessness.
  4. Since defecating on the streets and public sidewalks in San Francisco is legal, plumbing will be officially banned and become obsolete in California. Roto-Rooter will file for bankruptcy.
  5. San Francisco plumbers will assume lead roles in a newly formed San Francisco Department of Public Crapping, the SFDPC. Some spots will be filled by former Roto-Rooter employees.
  6. A murder will occur in Baltimore, D.C., and Chicago.
  7. Someone will cross the border from Mexico and the U.S. and someone will do the same in the opposite direction.
  8. Politicians will have better health care than the people who elected them into office.
  9. Someone will “sling mud” in an upcoming run for political office.
  10. Straw purchases take on a new meaning in California.
  11. Someone will believe everything they see on social media.
  12. A writer will have a character smell cordite at a crime scene.
  13. I will absolutely lose my mind when I see number 12 in a book.
  14. A BIG announcement is forthcoming. Madam Zelda believes it has something to do with “After Midnight.”