The Writers’ Police Academy conference (held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, August 11-14) started with a bang on Thursday afternoon. The attendees explored armored, S.W.A.T, and bomb squad vehicles. Lesson: my characters will need a lot more agility than I have to get inside those vehicles, especially the armored one. The first step into the driver’s seat is waist high on me.
Tried on a flak vest and crowd control shield. Didn’t even attempt the battering ram. Heavy is the theme with this equipment, including the bomb squad suit. Lesson: My characters will need physical strength to handle this stuff.
For a plastic gun, the Glock 17 was heavier than I expected, but has the sweetest trigger action. Now, when I put a Glock in a character’s hand, I know what that gun feels and shoots like, with every expectation my character can be as deadly as I was.
I learned how to poison a person with bacteria from my own cupboard or the woods out back. Useful information for any amateur sleuth that might turn up in a new series. TIP: mushrooms are unreliable, even the known poisonous ones.
I finally found a use for geometry in self-defense. It’s all about the angles. No doubt I’ll have a character using these techniques. TIP: when fighting an attacker, fists to flesh, palms to bone. Meaning, don’t punch ’em in the face and injure your knuckles. Use the heel of your palm against the jaw and cheekbones.
Friday started with a mock crash scene which involved a variety of triage scenarios, among them a trapped man needing the Jaws of Life to extricate him, testing a drunk driver, and a dead guy and his hysterical and combative mother. Yes, combative is among the normal reactions in these scenarios. We got the full show of rescue vehicles arriving with lights and sirens. Even the evac helicopter dropped in. Helpful should one of my characters get in an auto accident or come across one.
Saturday kicked off with an interactive mock lockdown. No narration. Minutes into the lecture, it just happens. A knife wound victim staggers into the lecture hall. The instructor calls for help from anyone with medical training. When three more victims stumble in, it’s a lockdown situation. Belts are used to tie shut door hinges and objects jammed into the opening mechanisms. Warnings sound over the P.A. A suspect is apprehended. But, is there an accomplice?
S.W.A.T. explodes into the room, guns drawn, shouting, “Hands on your heads!” Their presence is so commanding seven men instantly control a room of hundreds. I am experiencing an adrenaline rush, just as any character I put into this situation will. I also now know what it feels like to get frisked. Told you it was interactive.
There’s much more I could share, from Lee Goldberg (author of the Monk Series and scriptwriter) who delivered his How to Use Research speech like a comedy routine and Tami Hoag (does anyone not know who this author is?) sharing a personal story about using research in one’s private life. Our instructors included an ATF agent, an arson investigator, a Private Investigator, and the amazing officer Colleen (The Rock) Belongea who my six foot plus defense instructor said he would not mess with. She was a favorite with everyone, and as much a face of this conference as organizer Lee Lofland, author and detective.
To view more pictures of this event, go to www.leelofland.com, The Writers’ Police Academy, or my author FB page. This excellently organized event will be repeated in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2017.
by WisRWA member Barbara Raffin
We all know what it’s like to feel lonely. You can be in a room full of friends and family, people you love, and still feel lonely. They can all be talking, laughing, having a good time, and you feel like you’re outside looking in through glass. Being lonely is not the same as being alone.
Being alone is taking a much needed break from everything outside ourselves. It’s going for a long walk. It’s reading a really good book without interruption or making a jigsaw puzzle while watching a movie marathon. We all need a day like this now and then, a day where we can shut out all the worries and concerns of our everyday life. Doesn’t matter how you unwind, the point is we all need to unwind…alone.
As writers we cherish our alone time, hoard it hungrily and protect it with the ferocity of a well-trained watch dog. This is the time we can most clearly hear our characters speak to us. This is the time we can let our muse take over our thoughts, the time we can allow our plot to percolate through our brains and out our fast-typing fingertips. Writers are by nature solitary creatures. Oh, we do seek each other out from time to time to compare notes, share tips of the trade, and to reassure ourselves that we aren’t truly alone because all mankind has succumbed to a zombie apocalypse except for us and we somehow missed it while we were being alone. It’s why I belong to a number of writers’ organizations and critique groups. These are the people who help me remember WHY I write. Conferences and workshops are an excellent opportunity to not be alone.
My Chippewa Falls area of WisRWA is sponsoring a one-day Fall Into Fiction Workshop, on Saturday, October 8th, and I’m looking forward to meeting others who feel the creative urge the way I do. I’m hoping to put some faces to the names.
Come join us at The Plaza Hotel & Suites, 1202 W. Clairmont Ave, Eau Claire to hear journalist, author, and editor Candace Havens speak. In the morning it’s about “The Book Map: Plotting Your High Concept Ideas,” and in the afternoon “Fast Draft and Revision Hell.” (We all know what that’s about, right!?) Arrive early and join us for book signings and a pizza party Friday night.
I hope to see you there, but hurry! Seats are limited and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this wonderful opportunity to not be “alone” on October 8th.