Posts

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 …

 

Using common sense when writing about cops

Detective I. M. Manly here, and I’ve stopped by today to tell you about a serious situation concerning today’s protagonists.

We, the heroes of your stories, have been meeting in secret, trying to figure out ways to put an end to the torture you force us to endure. For example, and this is indeed a sad, sad, case. I ran into Biff Steele a few days ago and within a matter of seconds I knew I’d caught him at a weak moment.

He’d barely spoken two sentences when his emotions came spilling out. Right there on the sidewalk in front of the Piggly Wiggly, for everyone to see, including Pastor Ben Theredunthat who went inside to purchase a tin of foot powder for his wife. On the way out he offered a quick blessing, an act Biff sorely needed at that moment. Pitiful is what he was, I’m here to tell you.

Attack of the Killer Typewriters

I. M. Manly looking especially tough on the set of his new film, “Attack of the Killer Typewriters,” a gripping thriller based on the book of the same title.

Biff is typically a tough-as-nails protagonist. He rolls with the punches and quite often delivers a few hay-makers of his own. But on this day, Biff was pretty down in the dumps. He was feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. Feeling blu … Well, you get the idea.

I asked him why he was sporting such a long face. His response was stunning.

He said he’d had about all he could take from his writer. She’d stopped conducting any real research and turned to the internet for every scrap of crappy information. Then he paused a second before delivering the really big bombshell. He said he was thinking about leaving, maybe even killing himself off in the final pages of the next book.

I couldn’t believe it. Not Biff Steele! I asked what, if anything, could be done to make things right again. That’s when he told me everything. Then he drove straight home to confront his writer. One of his co-characters was there, sitting on the typewriter, when Biff burst through the front door and started his rant.

This, she said, is what Biff told yelled at their writer.

1. Quit having me smell the odor of cordite at crime scenes. For goodness sake, I’m not that old. Actually, even my parents hadn’t been born when they stopped making that stuff. No. More. Cordite!

2. I love tense moments in stories as much as the next character, but having me kidnapped in every other book? Come on, you know me better than that. Having me abducted so often makes me look weak. And, quite frankly, a bit stupid.

3. Don’t you remember the discussion we had the last time you had me draw a chalk outline around a dead body? Oh, it’s coming back to you now … That’s right, they don’t do that anymore! Yep, doing so could destroy or alter evidence. Geez … pay attention.

4. For the last time, the FBI does not have the authority to take over my murder cases, my office, or my entire department. Stop sending them into my scenes!

5. Speaking of the FBI … NO, they don’t investigate all kidnapping incidents. So please let me solve my own cases. Your friends stopped writing that garbage years ago and their heroes are looking pretty sharp because of it.

6. So you insist upon writing me as a stupid, bumbling, idiotic clown who can barely find my way home at night, huh? Well, you’re showing a lack of knowledge there, Sunshine. You are aware that I had to pass a ton of tests and show an outstanding ability to solve crimes in order to land the promotion to detective, right? It’s not a job for dummies. Tell me, what are your qualifications that make you an expert on my career?

7. Let’s do this one more time. My sidearm is a Glock semi-automatic. It does NOT have any type of safety that I can “thumb-off.” No Way. No How.

8. Remember book three, back when I carried a revolver, a Chief’s Special? Think hard. Yes, that’s the one. Now think about the scene on page 87 where you MADE me say, “The sunlight reflected hotly from the brass casings as they automatically ejected from my revolver?” Remember that? Well, to this day I’ve never lived it down. Reacher and Bosch and the other guys bring it up all the time, and it’s embarrassing. Why, just the other day I overheard sweet little Kinsey Millhone cracking a joke about it. For the last time, revolvers do NOT automatically eject spent cartridges. I have to push them out manually, using the extractor rod.

9. While we’re on the subject of Kinsey, why can’t I have a steady girlfriend? You know, someone nice, like her? I’m pretty tired of living alone and drinking by myself in dark, dreary bars. I want to have some fun for a change. What don’t you ever let me go dancing, or to a movie? Anywhere where I don’t end up fighting or blasting someone’s brains all over the ceiling. That’s no way to live.

10. You never take me anywhere. I’m tired of living on dusty bookshelves. So I have an idea. I heard the Writers’ Police Academy is teaming up with Sirchie to host a special event called MurderCon Why don’t you do us, and your readers, a favor and sign up the second registration opens? Then you’ll see first-hand all the things you’ve been writing WRONG all these years. All the other writers will be there.

Reacher has been to the WPA. So has Bosch, D.D. Warren, Dance, Rhyme, Jordan, Longmire, Brennan, and, well, the whole gang has been. It’s where all the cool kids go to learn how to “get it right.”

So I’m going. How about you?


It’s Black Friday, so to help out, here are a few recommendations.

By the way, someone asked why I post all Amazon links for the books I recommend. The answer is that they work well for and with this site, but by all means feel free to purchase books anywhere you like. But why not here by simply clicking the links I provide?