Does your latest tall tale feature a beginning, middle, and end? How about characters, setting, and dialog? Have you been especially creative by inserting lots of sentences composed of various words with various meanings? Do you know the difference between a police chief and a sheriff? Are you aware that the FBI does not typically investigate local murder cases, that it is the duty of local police to solve those crimes?

If you answered yes to each of the above questions, well, you’ve taken a few of the appropriate first steps toward accurately writing about cops, crime, and crooks.

So, you conduct tons of research by visiting online websites and by participating in your local citizen’s police academy, and those are fantastic resources. But have you considered going the extra mile by spending a bit of extra research time to develop ways to activate the senses of your readers? After all, using the senses is a huge key to the success of showing, not telling. And the use of the senses creates an important emotional connection between the story and the reader.

How does a writer create scenes that ignite a reader’s senses of touch, taste, hearing, smell, and sight? Well, for starters, they should call on past life experiences and then translate those experiences into dynamic descriptive words and phrases. However, when describing mood, setting, to emphasize a point in dialogue, etc., writers should avoid using an abundance of clunky “ly” words.

Words ending in “ly” are often clunky and clumsy

Words ending in “ly” are often redundant and quite frankly, unnecessary. They can slow the reader and are often so jarring they could stop the flow of the story. Is it possible to draw on personal experiences and then to write those powerful scenes without the use of “ly” words? Well, let’s check in with a few top storytellers.

For example …

Patricia Cornwall didn’t invent rain, leaves, or playing fields, but she obviously drew on her memories to create the passage below. It’s a simple scene, but it’s a scene I can easily picture in my mind as I read. I hear the rain and I feel the cool dampness of the asphalt, grass, and tile roof. The writing also conjures up images of raindrops slaloming down windowpanes, and rushing water sweeping the streets clean of debris. The splashing and buzzing sound of car tires pushing across water-covered roadways. And she accomplished the imagery without using a single “ly” word.

 “It was raining in Richmond on Friday, June 6. The relentless downpour, which began at dawn, beat the lilies to naked stalks, and blacktop and sidewalks were littered with leaves. There were small rivers in the streets, and newborn ponds on playing fields and lawns. I went to sleep to the sound of water drumming on the slate roof…” ~ Patricia Cornwell, Post Mortem.

Sandra Brown takes us on brief “no “ly word” journey through a pasture on a hot day. We know it’s hot because of the insect activity. We also know the heat of the day increases the intensity of the odor of horse manure. And, Brown effectively makes us all want to help Jack watch where he steps.

“Jack crossed the yard and went through a gate, then walked past a large barn and a corral where several horses were eating hay from a trough and whisking flies with their tails. Beyond the corral he opened the gate into a pasture, where he kept on the lookout for cow chips as he moved through the grass.” ~ Sandra Brown, Unspeakable.


Here’s a decent rule of thumb – Write the scene and then remove all unnecessary flowery words, especially those that end in “ly.”

Too many “ly” words are often difficult for readers to take in. Besides, they can slow the story and do nothing to further it.


Lee Child is a master when it comes to describing a scene with few words. Here’s a fun exercise. Count the number of times Child uses an “ly” word in the text below. Then consider whether or not you would have used unnecessary “ly” words had you written this scene? Aha! Perhaps it’s time to step away from using clunky words.

“The bar was a token affair built across the corner of the room. It made a neat sharp triangle about seven or eight feet on a side. It was not really a bar in the sense that anybody was going to sit there and drink anything. It was just a focal point. It was somewhere to keep the liquor bottles. They were crowded three-deep on glass shelves in front of sandblasted mirrors. The register and credit card machine were on the bottom shelf.” ~ Lee Child, Running Blind.


Another example of effectively and masterfully projecting an image into a reader’s mind comes from James Lee Burke. Short. Sweet. And tremendously effective.

“Ida wore a pink skirt and a white blouse with lace on the collar; her arms and the top of her chest were powdered with strawberry freckles.” ~ James Lee Burke, Crusader’s Cross.

Okay, what does all of this have to do with writing about cops, you ask? Well, in the passages above, the authors created a micro world by using a few, but extremely powerful and carefully chosen words. And it’s obvious to the reader that each of the writers called upon their own experiences to write those scenes. They’ve been there and done that, and their imaginations have conjured up memories of things they’ve seen, touched, tasted, heard, and smelled. And all without the use of words ending in “ly.” Just simple, clunk-free writing.

Cops live and work in a unique world that’s generally not accessible to the average person, including writers. They experience things that most only read about or see on TV news reports. And that brings us full circle. How can a writer effectively write, and activate a reader’s senses, about something they’ve only read about or heard second and third hand from someone reading to them, word-for-word from a teleprompter?

I think Joseph Wambaugh, one of the best cop-writers of our time, offers a brilliant guideline to follow when writing cops. Wambaugh said, “The best crime stories are not about how cops work on cases. They’re about how cases work on cops.”

Paste Wambaugh’s quote near your computer. Glance it as you write. Keep it in mind while developing law enforcement characters and scenes.

To increase your knowledge of forensics and writing, I strongly urge you to attend courses and classes offered by Writers’ Police Academy Online. These sessions take participants behind the scenes to places typically visited only by law enforcement. The value of information provided is immeasurable, especially so for writers whose goal is to deliver top shelf material.

On January 23, 2021, Writers’ Police Academy Online will once again offer an exciting and unique daylong live and interactive seminar. This course, “Criminal Investigations: Writing Believable Make-Believe,” features three of the country’s top investigators and forensics experts who will present detailed sessions on cybercrimes and security, 3D crime-scene mapping using drones and lasers, and an in-depth, behind the scenes chronicling of what happens when a victim of sexual assault seeks care in a hospital setting.

As a bonus, USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author Lisa Regan details how to use the elements of fiction to craft a gripping crime novel.

Sign up today to reserve your seat!

On January 23, 2021, Writers’ Police Academy Online will once again offer an exciting and unique daylong live and interactive seminar. This course, “Criminal Investigations: Writing Believable Make-Believe,” features three of the country’s top investigators and forensics experts who will present detailed sessions on cybercrimes and security, 3D crime-scene mapping using drones and lasers, and an in-depth, behind the scenes chronicling of what happens when a victim of sexual assault seeks care in a hospital setting.

As a bonus, USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author Lisa Regan details how to use the elements of fiction to craft a gripping crime novel.

Sign up today to reserve your seat!

Meet Your Instructors:

I’m please to introduce you to …

 

Joshua Moulin

Acclaimed Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics Expert

Bio:

Josh Moulin is a recognized expert in cybersecurity and digital forensics and has been working in the field since 2004. His experience includes investigating and prosecuting cybercriminals as commander of an FBI cybercrimes task force; securing highly classified national security programs against nation-state cyberattacks; advising senior U.S. government and military executives on leadership, technology, and cybersecurity matters; and as a senior vice president for a global cybersecurity non-profit that protects U.S. state, local, tribal, and territorial governments. He also holds a master’s degree in information security and multiple forensic and cybersecurity certifications.

Class

Cyber Crimes and Investigations


Karmen Harris, BSN, RN, SANE-A
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Richmond & Moore County, North Carolina Medical Examiner

Bio:

Karmen is a native to the coast of North Carolina and is a Registered Nurse board-certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for adult and adolescent populations as well as an appointed NC Medical Examiner for two counties. As a forensic nurse consultant, Karmen provides expertise in matters of sexual assault, domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking. Karmen’s educational background includes graduating from East Carolina University in 2009 where she studied Anthropology and Forensic Science, an Associate Degree in Nursing from Carteret Community College in 2014, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University in 2020.

Class

Sexual Assault: When a Victim Seeks Care in a Hospital Setting

Based on a scenario, the class will explore what happens when a victim of sexual assault seeks care in a hospital setting. In this class, we will walk through the process of the medical-forensic exam and further explore how trauma is identified, the elements of documentation and forensic photography, evidence collection, and other aspects of the fascinating intersection of forensic science and nursing.


RJ Beam
Police Academy Training Supervisor

Bio:

RJ has almost thirty years of public safety experience. In his younger years, RJ spent time as a volunteer firefighter and driving an ambulance for a paid-on-call EMS service. A lifelong love of photography helped RJ to quickly become one of his police department’s evidence technicians. Currently, RJ is a training officer overseeing the recruits in the police academy.
In his free time, RJ is a writer and competitive CrossFit athlete.

Class

Using 3D Laser Scanners and Drones to Document Crime Scenes

3D scanners used by engineering firms have slowly been gaining traction in police work. Take a walk into a real homicide scene to see how the 3D reconstruction helped secure a conviction. Learn about how 3D scanners work and how drones can augment the creation of a 3D recreation.


Lisa Regan
USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Bio:

Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip.

 

Class

Creating Dynamic Crime Fiction: How to use the elements of fiction to craft a gripping crime novel

In this class you will learn how to combine several elements of fiction to create a crime novel that is authentic and riveting. You’ll learn tips and tricks for plotting effectively to keep readers turning pages. You’ll learn how to develop characters who are relatable and intriguing. We’ll discuss how to write believable dialogue that moves your story forward. You’ll also receive tips for incorporating information from law enforcement and other experts into you work. Finally, we will discuss advice on self-editing.

Visit Lisa Regan at www.lisaregan.com

And, Mr. Phillip …

Mr. Phillip is not fond of rainy days.


Registration is open. Sign up today to reserve your spot!

Writers’ Police Academy Online

 

*Remember, LOGIN first if you’ve previously purchased (attended classes).

 

Everyone likes to think their hometowns are the quintessential storybook villages from days long ago, back when we left our front doors unlocked and the car keys in the ignitions of the cars parked in our driveways. The times when kids walked to school, unafraid of perverts perusing the neighborhood. The days when the TV repairman came to your house to fix your set while you were away at work. He let himself in and locked up when he left.

Those were the days before school shootings and prior to the epidemic of human trafficking we see today. They were also the days way back when police recruits thought their towns and counties and states belonged to the Sweet-As-Apple-Pie Club, an organization consisting of towns and cities whose residents are clueless about the goings-on in their beloved “AnyTowns, USA.”

Drug dealers? In our town? No way! Murderers, rapists, robbers, and terrorists? Abso-freakin’-lutely no way! Not in our town.

Sure, we read the paper, but the bad guys who broke into old man Johnson’s house and killed him and stole all his prized collectible Elvis plates, well, they must’ve traveled here from another town.

However, it doesn’t take the police recruits—rookies—very long at all to learn that their sweet little towns are often hotbeds of rampant crime. Why, there are actual drug dealers who live down the street from dear innocent Aunt Ida. The hoodlums sell their wares—crack cocaine, meth, and weed—smack dab in the middle of the street. They shoot guns and they stab people and they rob and rape and steal.

There’s even a couple of gangs who rule most of the west side of town, and another on the east. The emergency room is busy with overdoses, wounded druggies, and cab drivers who were robbed at knifepoint. Gunshot victims and victims of sexual assaults. Shooting victims. Battered children and spouses. All of this from the onset of darkness until the sun returns to push away the night.

A rookie’s first few shifts are eye-openers. Who knew Mr. Perkins, the bank president, drank moonshine and beat on Erline, his loving wife of 30 years. And Mrs. Listickenpick, a chronic shoplifter? Why? She and her husband have more money than all the gold in Fort Knox. Then there are the drug addicts. Went to school with half of them. Embezzlers, nurses addicted to pills, doctors who prescribe drugs for their friends. Fights and arson and drunk drivers. Cop haters and school shooters. Pedophiles and stalkers. Killers who have no respect for human life. Baby beaters. Animal abusers.

Yes, these folks live in our towns. Our sleepy little villages where, in our naïve minds, crime doesn’t exist. But it does. They, the bad guys, simply walk the streets at times other than when you’re out. They’re the second shift. They punch the clock, signing on to work as we go to bed.

They come out in the darkness and, like roaches, scatter when an officer’s flashlight beam strikes their flesh. They crawl through windows to feast upon the property of others. They hunt and stalk prey, hoping to catch unsuspecting victims off-guard. They attack without warning. They beat and they steal and they bruise and they kill.

You may think your town is a card-carrying member of the Sweet-As-Apple-Pie Club, but the officers in your towns know differently. And even they, at times, are surprised by things they see out there in the darkness. Things that are sometimes the makings of a good nightmare.

It is the patrol officer who stands between us and them. That’s the line, our only line of defense against those things we don’t and/or choose not to see.

 


ATTENTION!!!

Special Event

Presents

Criminal Investigations: Writing Believable Make-Believe

A live and interactive virtual seminar

January 23, 2021

10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (EST)

featuring:

 

Joshua Moulin, Senior Vice President and Deputy of Operations and Security Services (OSS)

Josh Moulin serves as Senior Vice President and Deputy of Operations and Security Services (OSS) at CIS. In this role, Moulin provides executive leadership for OSS while focusing on the mission of improving the cybersecurity posture of state, local, tribal, and territorial government organizations. Moulin is responsible for planning, developing, and executing OSS products and services, some of which include the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), US Cyber Challenge, security operations, incident response, and the cyber research program.

Moulin has been working in the cybersecurity field since 2004. Prior to CIS, he was an Executive Partner at Gartner where he advised senior executives in the U.S. federal civilian government and Department of Defense to shape organizational strategy, improve executive leadership, change culture, drive innovation, maintain information security and assurance, and implement technology using best practices and Gartner’s research. Before Gartner, Moulin spent five years at the Nevada National Security Site, part of the Department of Energy / National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons enterprise. Moulin served in a variety of roles including as the Chief Information Security Officer and Chief Information Officer, responsible for all aspects of classified and unclassified IT and cybersecurity for this global national security organization.

Joshua Moulin will present “Cyber Crimes and Investigations.”


Karmen Harris, BSN, RN, SANE-A – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, Richmond & Moore County Medical Examiner

Karmen is a native to the coast of North Carolina and is a Registered Nurse board-certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for adult and adolescent populations as well as an appointed NC Medical Examiner for two counties. As a forensic nurse consultant, Karmen provides expertise in matters of sexual assault, domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking. Karmen’s educational background includes graduating from East Carolina University in 2009 where she studied Anthropology and Forensic Science, an Associate Degree in Nursing from Carteret Community College in 2014, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from East Carolina University in 2020.

Karmen Harris will present “Sexual Assault: When a Victim Seeks Care in a Hospital Setting.”


RJ Beam, Author and Forensics/Crime Scene Investigations Expert

RJ Beam has worked as both a police officer and firefighter. During his career he served as patrol supervisor, field training officer, evidence technician, firefighter II, fire department engineer, and fire/arson investigator. He is currently the Department Chair of the Forensic Science Program at a college in the U.S.

RJ Beam will present “Using 3D Laser Scanners and Drones to Document Crime Scenes.”

 

 


Lisa Regan, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Lisa Regan is the USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Detective Josie Quinn series as well as several other crime fiction titles. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Education degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Crime Writers Association, and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter and Boston Terrier named Mr. Phillip.

Lisa Regan wraps up this fabulous live, interactive seminar with her her presentation “Creating Dynamic Crime Fiction: How to Use the Elements of Fiction to Craft a Gripping Crime Novel.”

Writers are a curious bunch of folks who should never let walls, doors, locks, or the word NO stop them from producing high quality books.

The tellers of both tall and short tales, in fact, go to great lengths to find detail—the perfect setting, great, believable characters, and those wonderfully juicy tidbits of information that stimulate a reader’s senses.

With pen in hand and minds wide open, a writer will do whatever it takes to reach the last page of their work-in-progress, including hopping on a plane, train, car, or truck to travel to wherever information can be found. They walk, they talk, they telephone, they email, they read blogs and books, they ride with cops, attend court proceedings, and they attend awesome events such as the Writers’ Police Academy and/or Writers’ Police Academy Online courses. Again, they do what it takes and they do it all in the name of pleasing readers.

Many stories include prison and/or jail settings, as well as the residents and/or employees of each. So what do writers do? They meet with jail officials and arrange to tour their facility. Sure, it can sometimes be a very steep uphill battle to get a foot in the door to some places of incarceration. But, as it’s been said, where there’s a will there’s a way inside, or something along those lines.

Suppose, though, that you, a writer, find yourself incarcerated for a long, long time. Perhaps for the remainder of your life. What would you do? After all, your passion is the written word. You have so many stories to tell, especially the one that landed you behind bars. You’ve gotta write!

So how on earth would you obtain the information you need for your book(s)? The internet is often not available. No modern library (in many lockups you’d be fortunate if there’s anything more than a few tattered paperbacks stacked in what used to be a mop closet). You’d have very little, if any, contact with people on the outside. And, if your story involves law enforcement, forensics, etc., you can pretty much rule out the assistance of cops and CSI experts.

What would you do?

Well, one such writer, a prisoner, once reached out to me back a while back via my publisher. He sent a three page handwritten letter, complete with a very nice, well-written one-page introduction that explained the reason for his incarceration—murder. He went on to say that he’d been sentenced to life for killing a woman (a close associate of a well-known outlaw motorcycle club) during a heated argument. He also said he feels no ill will toward police. In short, he did what he did and accepted full responsibility for the act, but the circumstances hadn’t stopped his desire to write.

Interestingly, this fellow, the convicted murderer, subscribes to Writer’s Digest Magazine, which is where he read an article I wrote (published in the September 2014 issue). Yes, WD is delivered to prisons.

My article is what prompted the lifer to write me with an unusual research request. A request that I strongly considered. It was a consideration that went against the very grain of my being. However, I was inclined to help because his story could’ve very well been a good one … a life-changer for someone on the outside.

There was a small problem, however, with delivering my information to this prisoner. You see, he had no idea where I lived at the time and I didn’t want him to know (return addresses are required on all inmate mail at this and other facilities). In fact, the bio in my book about police procedure states that we reside in Boston. This is a book the inmate has in his possession and he mentions it his introductory letter to Writer’s Digest.

howdunit_PPI

Non-prisoners may also purchase my book!

Therefore, when the inmate wrote my publisher, he was under the impression that I lived somewhere in New England. However, it had been quite a while since we’d resided in Boston.

20141105_113239

As many of you know, we’re frequent re-locators (and that’s putting it mildly), so imagine my surprise to see a return address that just happened to be that of a state prison located very near where we lived at the time I received the letter. Very. Very. Near. As in less than fifteen miles away.

I finally came up with with a means to give him the information he needed, via an online source. I used the internet instead of snail mail to prevent him from learning our home address. After all, he had family and friends and “business associates” on the outside.

Anyway, the point of this long-winded story with no real end is that writers should never settle for an “okay” book when overcoming small obstacles is all that stands in the way of producing a really great story.

What are some of those barriers?

  • Too chicken to make contact with cops and/or other experts. Believe me, cops love to talk about their work and, if you let them, they’ll talk about it until the cows come home. So please don’t hesitate to approach a police officer. Of course, you may have to extend an offer of a cup of coffee to start the ball rolling, but after that, hold on because your mind will soon be filled with real-life tales of car chases, shootouts, drug raids, puking drunks, and struggles with the biggest and baddest bad guys who ever walked a dark alleyway. Of course, you should probably avoid weird and scary opening lines, such as, “Hi, my name Wendy Writer and I’m wondering if you would please tell me how to kill someone and get away with it?” Or, “Hi, my name Karla Killer and I’d really like to hold your gun so I can see how heavy it is.”
  • Procrastination (I was too busy to attend the Writers’ Police Academy. Maybe next year. In some instances, “next year” may never arrive. After all, we can’t do this forever!)
  • Fear of rejection by agents and editors. Settle for nothing less than a big fat YES, and don’t stop working and writing and bettering your craft until you reach your goals.
  • Television (Please STOP using TV as a source of information!! Easy isn’t always best).
  • Allowing life to run you instead of you running your life.

I guess what I’m getting at is that if a murderer who’s serving a life sentence in a harsh prison setting is willing to go far beyond the extra mile for a scrap of important information needed for his book, then why shouldn’t all writers at least make some sort of effort to “get it right?”

How about you? Do you go the extra mile for the details in your tales?

Speaking of details …

Coming January 23, 2021, a live and interactive seminar featuring crime scene mapping using lasers and drones, sexual assault investigations, the craft of writing with USA Today & Wall Street Journal bestselling author Lisa Regan, and more!

writerspoliceacadey.online

Below are excerpts From Katherine Ramsland’s Writers’ Police Academy Online presentation – “Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides.”

Pettler’s Staging Typology

The Cleaner: This is more alteration than staging, because this person cleans the scene to remove evidence

The Concealer: Hides or destroys items related to the incident to prevent discovery

The Creator: Adds items to the scene, or rearranges for a specific effect

The Fabricator: Relies on ability to verbally deceive as a means of deflection

The Inflictor: Might include self in incident, with self-wounding, or might claim self-defense

The Planner: spends considerable time preparing the incident to appear as something else instead of reacting, post-incident.

*Laura Pettler, PhD, CSCSA (Certified Senior Crime Scene Analyst) is the owner of Carolina Forensics, vice president of the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases, and was co-founder/director of North Carolina Prosecutorial District 20-A’s 2006-2010 Crime Scene Reconstruction and Behavioral Analysis Program, its Cold Case Task Force, and its 2009 International Forensic Institute. Pettler is a scholar-practitioner focusing on cold case homicide, crime scene staging, intimate partner homicide, and crime reconstruction. ~ bio, Evidence Technology Magazine.

Tips from The Psychology of Death Investigations, by Katherine Ramsland

 

Tips for Investigators to Evaluate for Staging

  • Beware of personal assumptions, especially those that attract investigative shortcuts.
  • Remember that the majority of stagers (except for suicides) had a relationship with the decedent.
  • The relationship is most likely intimate, past or present.
  • Stagers often discover the body or report the person missing.
  • The reason a body discoverer is at the scene should be legitimate.
  • Stagers might inject themselves into an investigation to “be helpful.”
  • Stagers often “find” a suicide note or other evidence they want police to see.
  • 911 calls from stagers will have unique elements common to “guilty” vs. “innocent” callers.
  • Besides manipulating the scene, stagers will reinforce it with verbal manipulation.
  • Their efforts to deflect might include an explanation for the incident.
  • The staging will probably feature mistaken notions about how such incidents occur, such as suicide notes that have more non-genuine indicators than genuine.
  • Learn the items that characterize genuine notes, rather than make assumptions.
  • Look for items that copy media reports or narratives.
  • Look for scene behavior uncharacteristic of decedent.
  • If a suicide note mentions a close associate, consider them a person of interest.
  • Stagers are most likely to be male.
  • Staging a suicide most often involves firearms.
  • Suspicious indicators are weapons positioned too perfectly, or positions do not match where blood spatter or shell casings are found.
  • Staged scenes are most often in a place familiar to the decedent, such as their home.
  • Watch for unexpected behaviors during interviews.
  • Match narratives about the incident against evidence.
  • Develop competing hypothesis to help highlight issues of concern.

Resources:

Ellis, T. M. (2008, July 18). CSI-like suicide ruled in death of Red Lobster exec Thomas Hickman. Dallas Morning News.

Ferguson, C. E. (2014). Staged crime scenes: Literature and types. In W. Petherick (Ed.), Serial crime: Theoretical and Practical Issues in Behavioural Profiling, 3rd ed., (pp. 141-164). Boston, MA: Andersen.

Ferguson, C. E., & Petherick, W. (2016). Getting away with murder: An examination of detected homicides stages as suicides. Homicide Studies, 20(1), 3-24.

Geberth, V. (1996). The staged crime scene. Law and Order Magazine, 44(2), 45-49.

Geberth, V. Practical Homicide Investigation. CRC Press.

Geberth, V. Sex-related Homicide and Death Investigations. CRC Press.

Greenwood, E. (2016). Playing dead: A journey through the world of death fraud. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Harpster, T., & Adams, S. (2016). Analyzing 911 homicide calls: Practical aspects and applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Harpster, T., Adams, S., & Jarvis, J. P. (2009). Analyzing 911 homicide calls for indicators of guilt or innocence: An exploratory analysis. Homicide Studies, 13(1), 69-93.

Pettler, L. (2016). Crime Scene Staging Dynamics in Homicide Cases. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Schlesinger, L., Gardenier, A., Jarvis, J., & Sheehan-Cook, J. (2014). Crime scene staging in homicide. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 29(1), 44-51.


Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared on more than 200 crime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,000 articles and 68 books, including How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and The Mind of a Murderer, she spent five years working with Dennis Rader on his autobiography, Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer. Dr. Ramsland currently pens the “Shadow-boxing” blog at Psychology Today and teaches seminars to law enforcement.

The December 2020 class lineup is amazing and the instructors are stellar. The combination is a live and interactive seminar designed for writers by writers.

To sweeten the pot, international bestselling author Tami Hoag wraps up the daylong session with a unique opportunity to learn insider writing tips from one of the best in the writing business!

Schedule and Class order:
(All times are EST)

10:30 a.m. – Login and Test
10:45 – Welcome

11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.

Little Known Facts About Crime Scenes – Instructor, Lisa Black
An in-depth look at the problems and challenges with crime scene evidence such as fingerprints, arson, bite marks, and more.

 

 

 

12:20 – 12:50
Break

12:50 – 2:10
Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides – Instructor, Katherine Ramsland
Death scenes have been staged in a variety of ways, and it takes an observant investigator to spot the signs. It might be a 911 call, an inconsistency between the scene and the narrative, an uncharacteristic suicide note, or a distinctive signature that signals something not quite right. Some set-ups have been ingenious! Ramsland uses cases to illustrate actual staged scenes, and describes the types of skills investigators need to be able to spot and reconstruct staged incidents.

2:20 – 3:40
The Call You Get is Not Always the Call You Get: When a Routine Death Investigation Crosses State Lines and Multiple Jurisdictions – Instructor, Lisa Provost
Case Study: On Valentine’s Day 2014 the staff of a dialysis clinic were worried. One of their elderly patients had missed three appointments. They called 911 and asked if officers could go check on their patient, wondering if maybe he’d fallen and needed assistance. When officers arrived on scene, they found the elderly patient deceased from an apparent medical apparatus failure. At least that’s what it looked like at first…

3:50 – 5:10
Not Just the Facts, Ma’am – Instructor, #1 International Bestselling Author Tami Hoag
How to take all your newfound knowledge of police and forensic work and carefully weave it into the tapestry of your story.

 

 

 

 

 

5:10
Final words


Sign up today to take advantage of the early bird special rate of only $99 ($125 after December 1, 2020).

writerspoliceacademy.online

Within the next couple of days Writers’ Police Academy Online will officially open registration for the daylong seminar called “Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction.” This incredible, one-of-a-kind event is scheduled to take place on December 5, 2020.

In the meantime, we’re hard at work adding the finishing touches—bells, whistles, and shiny doodads—the brand new website. I’m anxious for you to see it.

I’ll announce in advance, on social media and on this website, when the site will go live. When it does, registration will also be live and you may immediately sign up.

As always, the quality of our programs is more important than selling a gazillion seats; therefore class size is extremely limited to allow a better learning experience for all. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and will close when the maximum number of attendees sign up.

The exciting December session, featuring #1 International Bestselling Author Tami Hoag and top forensics and crime scene investigation experts Dr. Katherine Ramsland, Lisa Black, and Lisa Provost, is live and interactive. Instructors will deliver their presentations and respond to questions in real time using Zoom. Class size is limited and seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Again, registration for this fabulous and unique online event is coming within the next couple of days, so please watch for the announcements!


Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction

When: December 5, 2020


Classes and Instructors:

 

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am  

How to take all your newfound knowledge of police and forensic work and carefully weave it into the tapestry of your story.

Instructor, #1 International Bestselling Author Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag is the #1 International bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, with more than forty million books in print. Renown for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, crackling dialogue and well-research police procedure, Hoag first hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1996 with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller, including her latest, THE BOY. She lives in the greater Los Angeles area.

Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides 

Death scenes have been staged in a variety of ways, and it takes an observant investigator to spot the signs. It might be a 911 call, an inconsistency between the scene and the narrative, an uncharacteristic suicide note, or a distinctive signature that signals something not quite right. Some set-ups have been ingenious! Ramsland uses cases to illustrate actual staged scenes, and describes the types of skills investigators need to be able to spot and reconstruct staged incidents.

Instructor, Katherine Ramsland

Katherine Ramsland is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she also teaches criminal justice and serves as the assistant provost. She holds a master’s in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a master’s in clinical psychology from Duquesne University, a master’s in criminal justice from DeSales University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers. She has been a therapist and a consultant. Dr. Ramsland has published over 1,000 articles and 66 books.

Dr. Ramsland’s background in forensics positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects, and to co-write a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist.

For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on investigative forensics for The Forensic Examiner and a column on character psychology for Sisters in Crime; offers trainings for law enforcement and attorneys; and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder.


The Call You Get is Not Always the Call You Get: When a Routine Death Investigation Crosses State Lines and Multiple Jurisdictions

Case Study – On Valentine’s Day, 2014, the staff of a local dialysis clinic were worried. One of their elderly patients had missed three appointments. They called 911 and asked if officers could check on their patient, wondering if maybe he’d fallen and needed assistance. When officers arrived on scene, they found the elderly patient deceased from an apparent medical apparatus failure. At least that’s what it looked like at first; however, they’d uncovered a homicide. This convoluted investigation took Lisa Provost and members of her CSI team two states away during their investigation.

Instructor – Lisa Provost, Aurora Colorado Police Department Forensic Supervisor

Lisa Provost began studying Forensic Biology at Guilford College, in Greensboro, N.C., where she received a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Biology. In December 2012, she joined the Fayetteville Police Department as a Forensic Technician. 

During her time as a Forensic Technician trainee, Lisa completed a six-month instruction program with the Fayetteville Police Department which culminated with a one-week exam and oral review board. With the training and testing behind her, Lisa began working the road. Her passion for learning and for her work were the catalysts that pushed her to attend advanced training courses, in earnest. In May 2015, she was promoted to Forensic Supervisor overseeing Fayetteville PD’s Forensic Unit. 

Four years later, Lisa accepted a position with the Aurora Colorado Police Department as a Forensic Supervisor. So, she and her husband, an Air Force veteran, packed their belongings and moved to Colorado.

 In 2016. Lisa attended the Management Development Program at the N.C. Carolina Justice Academy. In its twenty-eight-year history, at the time the program was held, Lisa was the only civilian accepted into the program and, of the nineteen attendees in the program, Lisa was the only female. The five-hundred-hour leadership training program was completed over an eleven-month period and, besides the completion of her bachelor’s degree, is one of her proudest achievements.

In addition, Lisa has completed over five-hundred-hours of forensic training that includes basic death investigation, child death investigation, advanced child death investigation, and officer-involved shooting investigations.

Lisa Provost was was born and raised in NY state where she started dating the man who would later become her husband. The couple married in 1998, the time when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. In 2003, when her husband’s enlistment was complete, they moved to North Carolina.


Little Known Facts About Crime Scenes 

An in-depth look at the problems and challenges with crime scene evidence such as fingerprints, arson, bite marks, and more. Instructor, Lisa Black

Lisa Black is the NYT bestselling author of 14 suspense novels, including works that have been translated into six languages, optioned for film, and shortlisted for the inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award. She is also a certified Crime Scene Analyst and certified Latent Print Examiner, beginning her forensics career at the Coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and then the police department in Cape Coral, Florida. She has spoken to readers and writers at numerous conferences and will be a Guest of Honor at 2021 Killer Nashville.

In her August release, Every Kind of Wicked, forensic scientist Maggie Gardiner and homicide detective Jack Renner track down a nest of scammers. www.lisa-black.com


More spectacular online workshops, seminars, and webinars are on the way!! Details about the January and February daylong seminars are coming soon!

Research is the name of the game if a crime writer’s goal is accuracy about a particular aspect of their story, such as murder, cops, and investigations of crimes. Unfortunately, some writers avoid any and all cop-type research, believing they already have all the answers because they watch crime shows on television, and/or their BFF’s cousin’s next door neighbor once lived in the same town as a guy who used to work with a woman who dated the brother of a man who once stood in a grocery store checkout line next to a police detective’s auto mechanic. Well, that sort of connection won’t quite cut it if the desired result is realism.

So, to assist writers who may have incorrectly used one or more of the terms listed below, well, here you go. Yes, I’ve seen each of these used incorrectly. For example, no, transient evidence is not the evidence left behind by homeless criminals …

ABFO Scales: (American Board of Forensic Odontology scales). An L-shaped piece of plastic used in crime scene photography. Scales are marked with circles, black and white bars, and gray bars. These markings aid in distortion compensation and provide exposure determination. Measurements on the scales are typically marked in millimeters.

Bindle Paper: Paper that’s folded to safely contain, store, and transport trace evidence.

Crime Writer: Person who commits multiple murders within the narrow confines of book covers. Crime writers are known to leave behind scores of evidence and sometimes a handful of cliches.

Faraday Bag: Special collection bags for electronic parts. Faraday bags are lined to protect the contents from electromagnetic forces that could damage or destroy evidence.

Historical Fiction: The official residence of cordite. Actually, historical fiction is the ONLY place where cordite and its odor should be used by writers.

Latent Print: A print that’s not readily visible, or one that’s visible only by enhancement.

Odor of Cordite: An imaginary odor detected only by modern writers who should know better … but don’t.

Porous Container: Packaging through which liquids or vapors may pass (cloth, paper, etc.).

Presumptive Test: A non-confirmatory test used to screen for the presence of substances such as drugs or blood. Test kits used by officers in the field are presumptive test kits. Confirmation testing is conducted in official laboratories by trained and/or certified professionals.

Primary Crime Scene: In homicide investigations, the place where the body is found is the primary crime scene. Typically, this is where the investigation begins. Keep in mind, though, there may be multiple crime scenes (crime scene – any place where evidence of a crime is found).

Scene of the Crime: The location where a crime was committed.

Slide-Racking: The totally unbelievable action of pulling and releasing the slide on a semi-automatic pistol just prior to engaging a dangerous situation. Cops carry guns with a round in the chamber. To rack the slide would eject the pre-loaded round leaving them with one less bullet.

Tertiary DNA: DNA can be accidentally transferred from one object to another. A good example could be the killer who shares an apartment with an unsuspecting friend. He returns home after murdering someone and then tosses his blood-spatter-covered shirt into the washer along with his roommate’s clothing. The machine churns and spins through its wash cycles, an action that spreads the victim’s DNA throughout the load. Police later serve a search warrant on the home, seize the clothing, and discover the victim’s DNA on the roommate’s jeans. The innocent roommate is arrested for murder.

Tertiary Transfer of DNA Evidence

The same can occur with touch DNA. A man shares a towel with his wife and his DNA is subsequently transferred to her face and neck. Later, a stranger wearing gloves chokes the woman to death, transferring the husband’s DNA from the victim’s face to the killer’s gloves. The assailant removes the gloves and leaves them at the scene. Police confiscate the gloves, test them, and find the husband’s DNA. He is then charged for his wife’s death while the real killer is free to murder again.

The example above (the choking case) actually happened, and those of you who attended the Writers’ Police Academy session taught by DNA expert Dr. Dan Krane heard him speak of it. He was the expert who proved this was indeed possible and he testified to it in the groundbreaking case involving accused killer Dr. Dirk Grenadier.

Transient Evidence: Evidence which could lose could lose its evidentiary value if not preserved and protected from the elements or other hazards (blood, semen, etc.). This is not evidence left behind by homeless people. It could be, though, if the killer just happened to be someone who lives on the streets. If so, the items collected could then be called transient transient evidence.

White Horse Syndrome: No,  FBI special agents do not ride into town on white horses to take over cases from local cops, nor do they work local murder cases. And … they do not investigate all kidnapping cases. Many writers, bless their hearts, are infected with White Horse Syndrome (WHS). Fortunately, it’s an easily curable disease. Unfortunately, though, some refuse to seek help.

If you or someone you know is affected by WHS, immediate intervention is needed.

To help battle WHS I strongly urge you to attend the upcoming Writers’ Police Academy Online daylong seminar “Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction.” In this session you’ll learn behind the scenes tips, tactics, and techniques used by top crime scene investigators Lisa Provost and Lisa Black. Also, forensic psychology expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland is scheduled to teach a fascinating workshop about staged homicide scenes.

Then, in a rare learning opportunity, #1 bestselling author Tami Hoag wraps up the event with her class “Not Just the Facts, Ma’am.” Hoag’s amazing workshop details how to carefully weave all your newfound knowledge of police and forensic work into your story.

Attending Writers’ Police Academy Online classes could be the important first step on the road to recovery from the dreaded White Horse Syndrome.

Registration details and an all new website are coming soon.

In addition to Tami Hoag’s session, other classes include:

“Little Known Facts About Crime Scenes” – instructor Lisa Black.

Lisa Black is the NYT bestselling author of 14 suspense novels, including works that have been translated into six languages, optioned for film, and shortlisted for the inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award. She is also a certified Crime Scene Analyst and certified Latent Print Examiner.

 

 

 

 


“Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides” – instructor Dr. Katherine Ramsland.

Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared on more than 200 crime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,000 articles and 68 books, including How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and The Mind of a Murderer, she spent five years working with Dennis Rader on his autobiography, Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer. Dr. Ramsland currently pens the “Shadow-boxing” blog at Psychology Today and teaches seminars to law enforcement.


“The Call You Get is Not Always the Call You Get: When a Routine Death Investigation Crosses State Lines and Multiple Jurisdictions” – instructor Lisa Provost, Forensic Supervisor at Aurora Colorado Police Department.

Lisa has completed over five-hundred-hours of forensic training that includes basic death investigation, child death investigation, advanced child death investigation, and officer-involved shooting investigations.

 

 

 


Tami Hoag is the #1 International bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, with more than forty million books in print. Renown for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, crackling dialogue and well-research police procedure, Hoag first hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1996 with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller, including her latest, THE BOY. She lives in the greater Los Angeles area.

 

 

 


Here’s a brief video of crime scene processing, photography, and evidence collection.

For over a dozen years the Writers’ Police Academy has delivered sensational hands-on training, as well as the extremely popular Virtual MurderCon event that took place in August, 2020.

During those twelve-plus years, many writers, fans, readers, and law enforcement professionals requested that we develop online courses since many people would love to attend our in-person events but are unable to do so for various reasons.

A few years ago I asked our website guru, Shelly Haffly, to create an online teaching platform that would run in conjunction with this blog. Unfortunately, it has sat dormant since that day. My reason for not launching the program was that some of the pre-designed, built-in functions were a bit too complicated for my “tech-less” mind. However, with the rise of Zoom and other video conferencing and teaching programs, well, the time is now right.

So, without further delay, I’m pleased to announce that “Writers’ Police Academy Online” will officially open its virtual doors in October, 2020. The all new website is currently under construction and registration will soon be available for the first daylong seminar called “Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction.”

This first session is live and interactive, meaning that instructors will deliver their presentations and respond to questions in real time. By the way, the instructors for this first seminar are fantastic!

Registration for this fabulous and unique online event is coming soon!


Mystery and Murder: Transforming Reality into Fantastic Fiction

When: October 24, 2020


Classes and Instructors:

 

Not Just the Facts, Ma’am  

How to take all your newfound knowledge of police and forensic work and carefully weave it into the tapestry of your story.

Instructor, #1 International Bestselling Author Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag is the #1 International bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, with more than forty million books in print. Renown for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, crackling dialogue and well-research police procedure, Hoag first hit the New York Times bestseller list in 1996 with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller, including her latest, THE BOY. She lives in the greater Los Angeles area.

Sleuthing the Clues in Staged Homicides 

Death scenes have been staged in a variety of ways, and it takes an observant investigator to spot the signs. It might be a 911 call, an inconsistency between the scene and the narrative, an uncharacteristic suicide note, or a distinctive signature that signals something not quite right. Some set-ups have been ingenious! Ramsland uses cases to illustrate actual staged scenes, and describes the types of skills investigators need to be able to spot and reconstruct staged incidents.

Instructor, Katherine Ramsland

Katherine Ramsland is a professor of forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she also teaches criminal justice and serves as the assistant provost. She holds a master’s in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a master’s in clinical psychology from Duquesne University, a master’s in criminal justice from DeSales University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Rutgers. She has been a therapist and a consultant. Dr. Ramsland has published over 1,000 articles and 66 books.

Dr. Ramsland’s background in forensics positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness, to collaborate on A Voice for the Dead with attorney James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects, and to co-write a forensic textbook with renowned criminalist Henry C. Lee, The Real World of a Forensic Scientist.

For seven years, she contributed regularly to Court TV’s Crime Library, and now writes a column on investigative forensics for The Forensic Examiner and a column on character psychology for Sisters in Crime; offers trainings for law enforcement and attorneys; and speaks internationally about forensic psychology, forensic science, and serial murder.


The Call You Get is Not Always the Call You Get: When a Routine Death Investigation Crosses State Lines and Multiple Jurisdictions

Case Study – On Valentine’s Day, 2014, the staff of a local dialysis clinic were worried. One of their elderly patients had missed three appointments. They called 911 and asked if officers could check on their patient, wondering if maybe he’d fallen and needed assistance. When officers arrived on scene, they found the elderly patient deceased from an apparent medical apparatus failure. At least that’s what it looked like at first; however, they’d uncovered a homicide. This convoluted investigation took Lisa Provost and members of her CSI team two states away during their investigation.

Instructor – Lisa Provost, Aurora Colorado Police Department Forensic Supervisor

Lisa Provost began studying Forensic Biology at Guilford College, in Greensboro, N.C., where she received a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Biology. In December 2012, she joined the Fayetteville Police Department as a Forensic Technician. 

During her time as a Forensic Technician trainee, Lisa completed a six-month instruction program with the Fayetteville Police Department which culminated with a one-week exam and oral review board. With the training and testing behind her, Lisa began working the road. Her passion for learning and for her work were the catalysts that pushed her to attend advanced training courses, in earnest. In May 2015, she was promoted to Forensic Supervisor overseeing Fayetteville PD’s Forensic Unit. 

Four years later, Lisa accepted a position with the Aurora Colorado Police Department as a Forensic Supervisor. So, she and her husband, an Air Force veteran, packed their belongings and moved to Colorado.

 In 2016. Lisa attended the Management Development Program at the N.C. Carolina Justice Academy. In its twenty-eight-year history, at the time the program was held, Lisa was the only civilian accepted into the program and, of the nineteen attendees in the program, Lisa was the only female. The five-hundred-hour leadership training program was completed over an eleven-month period and, besides the completion of her bachelor’s degree, is one of her proudest achievements.

In addition, Lisa has completed over five-hundred-hours of forensic training that includes basic death investigation, child death investigation, advanced child death investigation, and officer-involved shooting investigations.

Lisa Provost was was born and raised in NY state where she started dating the man who would later become her husband. The couple married in 1998, the time when he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. In 2003, when her husband’s enlistment was complete, they moved to North Carolina.


Little Known Facts About Crime Scenes 

An in-depth look at the problems and challenges with crime scene evidence such as fingerprints, arson, bite marks, and more. Instructor, Lisa Black

Lisa Black is the NYT bestselling author of 14 suspense novels, including works that have been translated into six languages, optioned for film, and shortlisted for the inaugural Sue Grafton Memorial Award. She is also a certified Crime Scene Analyst and certified Latent Print Examiner, beginning her forensics career at the Coroner’s office in Cleveland Ohio and then the police department in Cape Coral, Florida. She has spoken to readers and writers at numerous conferences and will be a Guest of Honor at 2021 Killer Nashville.

In her August release, Every Kind of Wicked, forensic scientist Maggie Gardiner and homicide detective Jack Renner track down a nest of scammers. www.lisa-black.com


More spectacular online workshops, seminars, and webinars are on the way!! Details TBA.