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I admit, I was not aware of the Writers’ Police Academy until Longmire author Craig Johnson posted the upcoming event on his Facebook page. My curiosity led me to check out the WPA website, and I was hooked. As an aside, it is my dream to become a successful crime/mystery author. I grew up in a law enforcement family, and my role models as a boy were deputies and state troopers. More lacking in my repertoire is actual hands-on training in police procedures and methods, so the prospect of just such an experience was exciting, to say the least.

During the registration process, I had some choices to make, including the purchase of souvenir items, meal selection for the closing banquet, and an optional entry in the “Golden Donut Short Story Contest” (more on that later). The registration sells out quickly, I might add, as well as the block of rooms reserved by the conference, so procrastinators may come up short!

Ry Brooks

The real challenge came when my wife noticed I had signed up for the 2017 WPA conference.

“You’re doing WHAT?”, she asked.

“I’m going to the Writers’ Police Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin.”

“Umm hmm.”

“No, seriously. It’s a great way to learn the details of police procedure. Also, I might get to drive a police car in emergency scenarios. Every kid’s dream!”

“So, is it a course on writing?” She was confused.

“No, not exactly. It’s a learning environment for authors to help them inject more reality into their writing.”

“Shouldn’t you get established as a writer first?”

“What’s the fun in that?”

I was registered for the conference, had requested my preferences from among the most popular workshops, and had just one thing left to do. The “Golden Donut” short story contest entries are strictly limited to exactly 200 words, not 199 or 201. My first draft was exactly 200 words, counting contractions, and it was a great story (in my mind) but for one thing – I had somehow overlooked the requirement that the subject of the story had to follow a specific provided photograph. That first effort thus was deemed a practice run, so I wrote a couple more for submission that fully met the contest rules. Truth be told, I had some concern that my fledgling foray into mystery writing might prove an embarrassment. It was comforting, however, that the identities of the submissions are kept anonymous from the judges, so if my entries were bad, I would be anonymously awful.

The first day of the conference opened with a choice of workshops, the Kooky Cop Carnival or Drones!, and I chose the latter. I later heard I’d missed some comic moments involving famous authors’ hijinks in the other workshop. Never mind, the drone presentation was awesome!

Opening ceremonies included a blessing and wonderful ceremonial dances from the Oneida nation representatives.

Oneida Nation dancers

The conference hotel, along with many of the training facilities, are situated on Oneida native lands and many of the instructors are associated with the Oneida Nation police. Host Lee Lofland opened the conference with introductions and orientation, and we were treated to writer Lisa Klink (Star Trek), who related how she went from a wanna-be script writer to having her work produced on screen.

Day two began in earnest on the campus of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, with an exciting traffic stop takedown and wounded officer extraction demonstrated by the police instructors. After things calmed down, I proceeded to the Blood Spatter Analysis workshop (shades of “Dexter”!) — and discovered most of what I “knew” was wrong!

Bloodstain pattern investigation workshop #2017WPA

This was to be a recurring theme, and that is part of why the WPA began. We were able to participate in a realistic simulation that graphically demonstrated the way blood droplets can indicate height of the assailant, the type of weapon, even whether an attacker was right or left handed.

Bloodstain pattern session. Dexter-style

I noticed some, if not all, of the invited presenters were also participants in the WPA workshops. Many of them are published writers themselves with years of experience, but the lesson is, what you think you know may not be what you should know. I heard over and over, from conference attendees and seasoned authors, “Wow, I wish I’d known that before I wrote…”.

Over the course of the Academy, I had the chance to learn the history of police firearms, techniques of fingerprint analysis, and arson investigation scenarios, including a live demonstration fire set deliberately and surreptitiously. I got to fulfill the fantasy of driving Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuvers and received hands-on training in emergency driving situations and arrest takedown techniques.

PIT Maneuver – #2017WPA

In fact, I enjoyed being a passenger in the PIT target vehicle so much, I volunteered for extra rounds. If there was a ride at Disney World like that, it would have a five-hour waiting line.

One evening, we heard from master interrogator Paul Bishop. You guessed it, most of what we see and read of police interrogation is less than accurate. Following that was a sobering presentation of officer-down scenarios and the equipment used in those situations.

Our last full day culminated in the banquet and “An Evening With Craig Johnson”. I have had the privilege of hearing Mr. Johnson speak before, and it is always entertaining, humorous and thought-provoking. Frankly, I am a big fan of the Longmire Mystery novels and the opportunity to meet authors such as Craig Johnson and Tami Hoag was a big draw for me.

Craig Johnson and Tami Hoag

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. My “Cinderella story” as a first-time participant in the Writers’ Police Academy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the results of the “Golden Donut” short story competition. No, it wasn’t a Hollywood ending — I didn’t win the top prize. I got Third Place, which was a Pulitzer, far as I’m concerned. See, even if you haven’t been to the WPA before, you can have beginner’s luck! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Many of you have sent questions regarding what to expect next week during your thrilling experience at the Writers’ Police Academy.

I hope the following addresses at least most of your concerns and will also alleviate any anxiety you may be experiencing at attending THE most exciting event on this planet (for writers). No need for anxiety. It’s like Disneyland for writers!

For starters, the WPA is an extremely casual event where everyone is on the same playing field. No matter where a person is on their road to publication, all of your co-recruits are attending basic training right alongside you.

No agents to impress. No editors to woo.

The WPA is an action-packed and thrilling weekend of playing real-life cops and robbers.

Here are our recommendations to make your weekend go smoothly and fun:

  1. Wear comfortable clothing. After all, it is nearly impossible to duck live ammunition, crawl under loops of barbed wire, and defend yourself against twelve knife-wielding attackers while wearing heels and a skintight sequined ball gown. See, I told you it’s laid back!
  2. Bring only the things you need to the academy grounds. It’s tough to kick in doors and perform a PIT maneuver with a mini-fridge, desktop computer, and your three small kids strapped around your midsection.
  3. Speaking of kids, there are no childcare options at the WPA. We only have room in the timeout corner for misbehaving adults (those of you who insist upon breaking our ABSOLUTELY NO VIDEO rule). Again, ABSOLUTELY NO VIDEO! NONE!!!
  4. Camping is not allowed at the academy. Why not? Because we need the open spaces for hiding explosives. Yeah, you might not want to stray away from the group. I’m just saying.
  5. Please bring a photo ID and keep it with you at all times while at the police academy. Police officers are used to arresting people who have several aliases, so it’s best for them to know upfront who you really are instead of thumbing through a list of pen names and “writing as” monikers. Book covers/dust jackets do not count as official ID. We need your real names, please.
  6. When participating in the emergency driving workshops, please keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times. And no mooning your fellow recruits as your car passes by them while spinning wildly out of control.
  7. If you plan to drive to the academy, please remain inside your cars until the buses arrive and your fellow recruits begin to exit. No exceptions. Potty breaks will have to wait!! There’s a very good reason for this rule and I think it has something to do with the armed tower guards who’re trained to pick off anyone moving around outside the academy.
  8. Thursday night orientation is where and when we provide secret details about the event—where to go, when to go there, what to expect when you arrive, receive your instructions regarding what to do and say if captured, schedule changes, classroom number changes, and … You should be there, if possible. Besides, it’s fun.
  9. The hotel bars and casino are well-stocked with alcohol, so pace yourselves. They will not run out of your favorite beverage. Keep in mind, too, that the next morning will indeed arrive and it will include lots of loud gunfire, sirens, and barking, snarling police dogs. Just saying.
  10. Be prepared for whatever weather Wisconsin plans to toss our way. We are a rain or shine event, meaning if it’s raining you will get wet. So rain gear, umbrellas, etc. As of today, rain is indeed in the forecast, for Saturday. Cloudy on Friday.
  11. We are currently seeking volunteers for the following:
  • Twenty attendees to wear a fully loaded duty belt … all day (Ten will wear it on Friday and then pass them over to the next group of ten to wear on Saturday. The two groups will share their experiences during the Sunday debriefing panel. Should be interesting and fun.. We’ll ask for the twenty volunteers at the Thursday night orientation.

12. Buses will depart the hotel at 7:30 a.m. each morning.

Depart – to leave, typically in order to start a journey.

Again, buses depart at precisely 7:30 each morning. The WPA operates on an extremely tight schedule. This IS an actual police academy!

13. Please remember to bring cash and/or credit cards. You never know when you may need an extra dollar or two. Besides, you’ll want to unload a boatload of dollars at the raffle, auction, and silent auction.

The prizes are unbelievable (a cool guitar signed by the Oak Ridge Boys, a PR package worth nearly $3,000, manuscript review by a top Harlequin editor, signed Murder, She Wrote Scripts (yes, actual scripts from the show),

Indoor/outdoor pond with filter, fountain and ready for fish and plants!

a huge, super cool indoor/outdoor pond (we have one and love hearing the water sounds and watching the fish swim awhile we relax on the deck), two seats available to a “law enforcement only” gang conference (this is over the moon cool, and special). I’ll post them and others later in the weekend.

To add to the fun, we will also be hosting a live auction of a few special items. Tami Hoag (that’s right, THE Tami Hoag) is the 2017 auctioneer. She is joined by author JD Allen. This is going to be a real hoot!

Tami Hoag has donated two character names in her next book. Yes, your name and physical description could appear as a deputy or a coroner in Tami’s next release! The prizes this year are crazy good! And, if you don’t shell out at least a few dollars to support such a worthy cause, well, you’ll see Tami Hoag again. She has ways to help you see the light …

Tami Hoag

14. Waivers – Each of us, staff included, are required to sign a general waiver. Each of you should have received a copy by today. If not, please check your spam folders, or you can pick up at copy at the Radisson, just outside the door where check-in takes place. Someone will be there to assist. You must have the signed waiver with you at check-in to receive your packets.

15. Reminder – If you are scheduled in a HIT class that involves shooting (live pistol and/or rifle) you must complete a background check. Most of you have already completed these, however, a handful of you still have not responded to our messages. Without the completed background check, prior to the WPA, you will not be permitted to shoot.

16. Drivers License checks – Those of you scheduled to participate in driving sessions (PIT, etc.), you must submit your license information to us prior to the event to allow enough time to run the checks. Some of you still have not responded to our pleadings. Again, no check = no time on the driving track.

Well, it’s almost time. Are you ready for the THE most exciting event on the entire planet, for writers?

Writers’ Police Academy

 

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Tribbles have not taken control of my computer.  Yes, Star Trek is indeed coming to the WPA, and in a big way!

With that said, those of you attending the Writers’ Police Academy this year should be ever mindful that, at any moment, you and your fellow academy recruits could be pulled deep into the Delta Quadrant, some 70,000 light years from earth.

Fortunately for us, Lisa Klink, writer and producer of the Star Trek juggernaut, has arranged for her personal transporter to “beam” her to Green Bay in time to stop any alien attacks on the event. In fact, while she’s there in Green Bay to save the day, she’s delivering an absolutely fantastic Thursday evening presentation titled, Pitching, Selling, and Writing for Television.

This is a presentation straight out of the 24th century. It’s epic. It’s … COOL!

For those of you who may not know Lisa Klink. Here’s a sample of her work:

Lisa Klink began her career in the world of Star Trek, writing for the series Deep Space Nine and Voyager before coming back to Earth for shows such as Martial Law and Missing.

Lisa Klink

In addition to her television work, she’s written short stories, graphic novels, a theme park attraction and three books in The Dead Man series, as well as co-authoring the novel “All In” with Joel Goldman. Lisa is currently writing an FBI thriller for SerialBox.com, which will be released one chapter per week starting this fall.

Lisa’s TV credits are vast, including writing and producing some of the most popular television shows in their genre, such as:

1-800-Missing

Earth: Final Conflict

Martial Law

Star Trek: Voyager

Flash Gordon

Painkiller Jane

1-800-Missing

Star Trek: The Experience – Borg Invasion 4D

Roswell

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

Martial Law

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Earth: Final Conflict

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Roswell

Martial Law

And, to add to her already impressive resume, Lisa appeared on Jeopardy! (Contestant and Tournament of Champions contestant).


Thomas B. Sawyer

Now, as you know, each year, we strive to bring attendees the very best instructors, presenters, teachers, volunteers, material, information, and more. Well, the lineup this is no exception to our rule. The 2017 schedule is packed to the brim with superstars in their fields. And we were over the moon excited when Thomas B. Sawyer, head writer and producer of the Murder, She Wrote television series, accepted our invitation to present three wonderful workshops.

Unfortunately, I am the bearer of bad news. My good friend Tom experienced a very serious medical event this past Saturday and was immediately rushed to the hospital. The good news is that he’s on the road to recovery and should be back at home with his wife, Holly, in the coming days.

Toms sends his best to each of you and wishes he could there wth us.

Well, we have some exciting plans in store for you in 2018 and I’m thinking Tom will be a part of at least some of it.

Fortunately, for us and you, Lisa Klink stepped up to the plate to fill in for Tom.

So thank you, Lisa. and please , all of you join me in wishing Tom a big GET WELL SOON!

*Tom sent two signed scripts for the WPA raffle/auction. Break open the piggy banks this year folks, we have some cool items up for sealed bid, auction, and raffle.

 

In the world of make believe, the place that exists in the minds of writers and readers alike, THIS is how the story begins … for the savvy writer. So go full screen, crank up the volume, and hit the play button. Oh, and please do watch to the very end (after the credits). You know how I like twists and surprises!

 

For details – Writers’ Police Academy

 

Before you read the first word word of the article below, I want you to know that it’s far from what I normally present to you. If the following text offends you, well, let me say right now that I apologize. I do not, however, apologize for the message. So here goes…

There’s been lot’s of name-calling and outright hatred spewing from the mouths of many people who are totally against law enforcement agencies utilizing what some are calling military-like equipment—armored vehicles, camouflage and/or night-black uniforms, Kevlar helmets and other protective gear, and automatic weapons. Those are only a few of the despised items, by the way. The list is long.

Police Equipment is Scary!

I recently read an article where the author, a “news” reporter, wrote that police officers absolutely do not need any of the aforementioned gear and equipment, nor should any of it be made available to them. The writer went on to say that officers should return to the days of six-shooters, avoid physical confrontations, and never, ever use deadly force. Instead, the writer suggested that officers should simply talk bad guys into giving up their weapons and ask them to surrender. No surrender? In that case, he stated that officers should be taught to passively disarm and handcuff the naughty folks and cart them off to jail.

Bearcats are nothing more than metal boxes on wheels

Obviously, this person lives on a planet other than earth. And, there’s no doubt the author of that ridiculous piece has never, not once, come face-to-face with the business end of a gun or knife. Well, Mr. Don’t-Know-S**t, I’ve ducked a few rounds in my day. I’ve been cut and stabbed more than once. And I’m only one of thousands of officers who’ve “been there, done that”, and in my day things were nowhere near as bad as they are now.

It’s not a good feeling to think you’re about to die because some two-bit thug would rather shoot you or stab you than be arrested. By the way, a thug is a criminal. The term has nothing to do with race. Skin color makes no difference to me. A thug is a thug is a thug—green, blue, purple, or pink.

Metal boxes on wheels are soooo …. spooky, right? No weapons whatsoever! (Writers’ Police Academy photo)

Okay, where was I? Stabbings, I believe, and I’ll be the first to say that those particular wounds hurt. Knife wounds are extremely painful, actually. I occasionally feel/imagine the pain from my old wounds. It seems very real, at times. And to make stabbings and cuttings even worse, I’m not fond of bleeding so profusely that my hands are slimy and slick to the point where I can’t hold onto my pistol or handcuffs, not to mention struggling to arrest and handcuff the bad guy who’s trying to puncture my liver with his mom’s best carving knife.

Today’s bad guys are armed to the teeth. They train to fight and they practice shooting. They study police officers, trying to find their weaknesses. They develop ways to beat the system. And they kill cops. Let me say that again to be sure you heard me, Mr. Anti-Cop-Writer.

BAD. GUYS. KILL. COPS.

It’s almost like a game, or a badge of honor. Many of these killers are cowards, so they use high-powered rifles to ambush officers from safe distances. Some even ambush cops while they’re enjoying a meal, like the two cop-killers in Las Vegas a while back. Of course, there are the baby and child murderers who go to schools and shoot little kids to death. They, too, have used high-powered rifles. Whatever it takes to kill.

Do you think it’s fun entering a building not knowing what, or who, is waiting on the inside? How about entering a school full of kids and teachers, knowing a killer is there salivating at the idea of killing you. Sounds like a great time, doesn’t it?

Do you, Mr. Article-Writer, truly believe that cops enjoy the fear that causes them to sweat when the temperature outside is below freezing? Is it the perfect day when you tremble and feel your heart pounding against the inside of your chest because deep inside you know you could be shot and killed at any moment?

Save a Cop, Ride a Bearcat

Even more horrifying is knowing that children are being slaughtered while you step across the lifeless bodies of those already dead. Sure, you’re hoping to save those still alive, but will you get to them in time? If only you had some of that protective gear, like the Kevlar helmet that would stop a bullet from ripping through your skull like a hot knife through butter. A real hoot, isn’t it? Yeah, a real knee-slapper. Fun, fun, fun.

The mere sight of the rear compartment of a police Bearcat is terrifying to all who enter. OMG, It’s a freakin’ metal box that stops bullets. That’s it!

Image this, just for a second, Mr. I-Hate-Cops. You’re at work, clacking away at the keys on your laptop, when the guy in the next cubicle stands up and yells, “I hate you!” Then he pulls out a pistol and shoots you and your coworker, Bobby Jenkins. No warning. Just four or five rounds to your head. The same to Mr. Jenkins, the former father of three little girls.

Or, your boss sends you to a client’s house to pick up some paperwork. You knock on the man’s door and the last thing you hear in your short 37 years of life, is a shotgun blast. Just like that, Mr. Do-Not-Know-What-I’m-Talking-About, your wife is left to raise your kids and care for your elderly mother while maggots feed on your flesh and beetles slurp up what’s left of your internal organs.

MRAPs Need Love, Too!

Would you not want all the protection you could possibly have to prevent being killed? Is it really so horrifying to see a cop wearing a pair of camouflage pants and vest, knowing that those simple things would help him make it home safe and sound, where his kids could feel his arms around them one more time?

In 2016, Dallas police were ordered to leave their protective gear behind during a protest. Five officers were killed and nine others wounded – because politicians thought the protective equipment might offend someone.

Are you, Mr. Cold-Hearted-and-Clueless, so offended by a bulletproof steel box on wheels that you don’t value the lives of the men and women inside?

MRAPs save officer lives. They are not TANKS!! No weapons. none!

Those tools—that’s all they are, you know, not some evil contraptions built by a zombie king—keep officers safe. They keep the officers inside safe, and they keep them alive.

I know, you’d rather that police officers run into a hail of automatic gunfire carrying only a whistle and some really stern words. Well, Mr. S**t-For-Brains, I invite you to search for an armed cop killer in a dark warehouse, carrying only your mighty keyboard for protection. And when a robber kicks in your door and grabs your wife or daughter, don’t call 911. Instead, I want you to aim your computer mouse right between the rapist’s eyes and tell him to drop his weapon and leave your home immediately. Better yet, grab a whistle and blow it. I’m sure he’d tuck his tail and flee. Be sure to tell him he’s a naughty boy as he runs away.

Your argument, Mr. Chicken-S**t, about law enforcement wasting your tax money on those “so-called” toys is totally invalid. The equipment you see making its way into police departments is mostly surplus military equipment, and it’s free to law enforcement through various grants. I was in charge of the program at my department, and I made regular trips to a DOD warehouse to pick up various much-needed items.

Sure, I could’ve grabbed a hovercraft or a couple of armored vehicles because they were there for the asking and taking. Otherwise, the stuff just sits and collects dust and rust. Actually, there are acres and acres of unused rusty and dusty military equipment, so why not put it to good use protecting the lives of the men and women who keep even your sorry hind parts safe.

It’s Free and It Saves Lives

So there, I’ve had my say and I probably won’t address this topic again. As for the author of the article I read, well, it was obvious he’d used only the information needed to push his one-sided agenda (and possibly to sell a book or increase ratings). Unfortunately, people will read the piece and form a conclusion based on nothing more than one man’s hatred of something he knows nothing about. Absolutely nothing.

Finally, and this is to Mr. I-Hope-We-Never-Meet, I want you to understand something—many good men and women have died this year in the line of duty. They were out there protecting us.They did not  deserve to die.

Some of those murdered officers were shot to death by ambush or other means. But it doesn’t matter how they were killed. What does matter is that they died while running toward the gunfire, when necessary, not by running away from danger. Had they been inside one of those free armored vehicles at the time, Mr. Article-Writer, well, chances are they’d still be here with us and their families, including small children.

Important facts

German book translator Jeannette Bauroth behind the wheel of a police MRAP – No on-board weapons. None!

– One police officer dies every 58 hours.

– Nearly 60,000 officers are violently assaulted each year.

– There are are occasional stories about “bad cops.” Perhaps two or three in some weeks and none in others. Out of 900,000 police officers in the U.S., those numbers, even though bad, seem a bit smaller when looking at the whole picture. But the public rarely ever sees the big picture.

How many of these lives could have been saved had the officers been issued better protective gear/vehicles? Does the appearance of the equipment really matter more than the lives of good men and women who work long hours for low pay while protecting our families from harm? Wouldn’t you want your husband, wife, brother, sister, daughter, son, father, or mother to have everything possible to help keep them alive? Or, is a personal agenda/opinion more important than the healthy heartbeat of someone’s loved one?

I’ve heard this advice many times, Mr. Is-Probably-Afraid-of-Puppies-and-Rainbows, a real super-duper keyboard warrior, and it’s something you should try at least once … and that’s to write what you know. Hint … this topic wasn’t it.

Now I’m done…

*Please, no debate or arguments about gun control issues, or to bash cops. Take those things to your own sites, if you don’t mind. This stuff wears me out. Oh, no politics, race, or religion. They, too, wear me down.

*Photos of the police vehicles – Writers’ Police Academy. The reporter – typical keyboard warrior. No clue what life is like outside mom’s basement.

Thursday at the Writers’ Police Academy promises to be an exciting and wildly fun opening day, starting with renowned drone expert Bill Bongle’s fascinating presentation on … all things drones. Bill will discuss (and demonstrate):

  • Drone basics and the fundamentals of unmanned flight
  • Overview of current technology, capabilities, emerging technologies and trends
  • Brief overview of drone laws and regulations
  • Case studies of high profile incidents involving drones and how these cases are shaping the regulatory environment
  • Privacy issues and case law regarding surveillance from the air
  • Practical applications for village/municipal government, police, fire, rescue and emergency government
  • The emergence of civilian Search and Rescue Groups

Next up is the Kooky Cop Carnival, an event that will surely leave attendees with a better knowledge and understanding of the special challenges officers face daily.

Run, don’t walk, to the Kooky Cop Carnival!

You know, things like (we are not explaining this stuff prior to the event because we want you to experience the surprises officers encounter when responding to calls):

–  Setting a live trap

–  Handcuffing Cuff Man (and he really doesn’t want you to apply those pesky cuffs)

–  Using a “Come-a-long around a stuffed K-9

 

–  Interesting “Duty Belt Techniques”

–  Animal Control

–  21-Foot-Drill

–  Drawing (from the holster) and firing the SIRT gun

–  Drug ID (test your knowledge of common street drugs, and more).

–  Animal ID – Identify the types of animals officers often encounter

And much, much more, including lots of surprises. This hands-on Kooky Cop Carnival is going to be a real hoot!

Immediately following the carnival is sign-in/registration (4-5:30 p.m.), and then comes the laugh-fest we call orientation. Sure, we spill details such as classroom numbers, where restrooms are located, what to expect in each session, what time the pool closes, schedule changes and updates (if any), etc., but this is the time when you should be prepared to let down your hair and enjoy the laughs … and the much-needed information, of course.

6:30 p.m. marks the official opening of the event, and this I believe is a first for any writers conference anywhere—the blessing of the Writers’ Police Academy/Opening Ceremonies. This spectacular ceremony is presented by the Oneida Tribal Dancers, elders, Miss Oneida, and more. Please do feel free to photograph and/or record video (this ceremony is only time during the weekend when video recording is permitted). Remember, the WPA takes place on the Oneida Indian Reservation. Our event hotel is also situated on tribal land.

To wrap up day one of the 2017 WPA, the star of the Thursday night festivities … Thomas B. Sawyer,  head writer/showrunner of the hit TV show Murder, She Wrote.

Thomas B. Sawyer


Thursday night at 8:30 p.m., Tom presents …

“How Jessica Fletcher and Murder, She Wrote Made Homicide Fun – Without Science, Crazy People, or Gore.”

In this entertaining and informative session, one of this classic 12-year TV series’ original group of writers, Tom Sawyer, lays out the early history of Murder, She Wrote, from the casting of its star and its subsequent effect on one of Broadway’s megahit Musicals, to Dashiell Hammett’s influence on the show, the show’s influence on Tom’s career both as Showrunner/writer, and – inadvertently – as a lyricist – and much, much more.


Tom also returns to the spotlight twice during the weekend.


Friday at 12:45 p.m.

CINEMATIC WRITING TECHNIQUES THAT WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER STORYTELLER ~ Tom Sawyer

THINK Picture/THINK Action/THINK Dialogue

An Approach to Both Screen-and-Narrative Writing

Techniques I learned in TV & Film. From that Super-Critical Opening Grabber, to creating enigmatic bad guys, to “writing to the money,” and more – stuff every writer should have in the bank.


Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

PACKAGING YOUR BABY FOR HOLLYWOOD

How to write loglines, Movie treatments, synopses and TV series pitches with the Sizzle that’ll convince them they’ve got to seriously consider putting your novel, story or concept on the screen.


Just think, this only the first day, BEFORE the actual event begins!! So, are you ready for an extremely thrilling and fun weekend? Yes, we still have a few spots left open. Hurry!

Writers’ Police Academy

By the way, we’ll soon be announcing details regarding how you can have a chance to get your hands on a Murder, She Wrote script signed by Tom Sawyer!

Are you a storyteller? Do you want to have a lot of fun? Up for a challenge? Do you like to win cool things? Would you like to have superstar author Craig Johnson read your very own writing? Well …

Sponsored by the Writers’ Police Academy,  the Golden Donut Short Story Contest sounds like it’s right up your alley! This fun contest requires authors to write a story that’s EXACTLY 200 words, based on the photo posted above (and at the end of this piece – not the typing pooch image).

Yes, this year’s final judge is Craig Johnson, author of the best-selling Walt Longmire mysteries and 2017 WPA Guest of Honor. The Golden Donut winner earns a free 2018 registration to a Writers’ Police Academy ($395 value) event as well as a nifty trophy and bragging rights (priceless!). You can enter the contest even if you can’t attend the 2017 WPA.

So sharpen those pencils and write your way to those bragging rights and to the most exciting event on the planet for writers, the Writers’ Police Academy.

For details about the Golden Donut Short Story Contest,  please click here – Golden Donut Short Story Contest.

*Submission deadline is July 2, 2017.

As an added bonus, we now have a few available slots for the Writers’ Police Academy. This is an event you do not want to miss! For details and registration information, and to view the exciting schedule and lineup of top instructors and workshops, please visit …

2017 Writers’ Police Academy

Once again, here’s the photo prompt for the Golden Donut Short Story Contest. Good Luck!

2017 Golden Donut Photo Prompt

When it comes to the convoluted business of writing, a few things immediately come to mind. Such as …

  1. Being a writer is like being a politician. You get to make up @#$! and your fans love it.
  2. Being a writer is like being a plumber. Somewhere around the middle of the job you find yourself elbow deep in @#$!
  3. Writers are like prostitutes. They do it for money but the income arrives in small amounts at random times.
  4. Agents are like pimps without the purple suede leisure suits and feathers in their hats. Oh, wait …
  5. A good book is like a large pot of coffee. It keeps you awake all night.
  6. Sitting at a keyboard while clacking away at random characters is something an illiterate chimp can do. Much of today’s media is proof that chimps are better at it.
  7. Autocolonoscopy  Autocorrect is great, except when it isn’t.
  8. A great book is a like a fine statue. Their creators started with an idea and then carved away everything that didn’t help tell the story.
  9. Writers are like cops. They like coffee and whiskey and telling tall tales … and whiskey. I know, this one was an eye-roller …

10. A bad story is like a snow skier. They’re both start at out on a slow upward climb toward the summit. Then it’s all downhill from there until they reach the end, which is often totally uneventful.Unless it’s not. But you’ll never know what it’s like until you start the climb.

11. The words of a good book remain forever. The words of a politician remain only until the next big donation comes along.

12. Real-life bad guys, to save themselves a lot of grief, should take the time to read a mystery book. By doing so they’d know the good guys always win in the end.

13. Good books are like the bed in a by-the-hour motel. Lots of action between the covers.

14. Great ideas make great books, except when they don’t.

15. Social media can be like a cancer. No punch line. It truly can be like a cancer.

16. The bravest men and women in the world today are currently sitting at home, ranting and raving away on Facebook, telling people just how brave they are. Then they play video games like the popular Conquer the World Using Really Big Fake Guns and Lots of Noise and with People Who Live and Die a Bunch Each time the Game is Played. So march on, brave basement warriors. March on. Oh, the next time you go upstairs … get a job! There’s always greeting customers at Weirdomart, or selling fries at Booger Joe’s Burger Joint. They’re both hiring.

17. Lone literary agents at writers conferences are like the innocent fawns that tiptoe through the forest—they both know an attack could come at any moment. This is why experienced agents travel in packs. A herd of snarky, seasoned literary agents typically fares well. It’s the newbie who chats with anyone at any time who falls prey to the predatory writer(s). This is the agent we’ll not see again until they receive intensive retraining. He or she will need to hone the skills of avoiding writers at all cost. They must polish the combined technique of how to say, “Send me twenty pages of this delightful manuscript,” while simultaneously devising a clever means of destroying the pages before he/she heads back to their hotel room. Then comes the most difficult lesson of all—how to never, not ever, answer an email or phone call from writers. This one is tough, at first, because the natural instinct is to pick up when our phones jingle, and to open emails as they arrive in our inboxes. However, agents have managed to acquire the ability to ignore writers without a speck of remorse for their rudeness. Amazing ability. simply amazing.

18. A firefighter and a police officer enter a bar at a mystery writers conference. They’ll know better next time.

Finally …

19. Two drunks and a writer enter a bar during a writers conference. Three drunks come out.

20. Twenty separate news articles about the same topic are written by twenty different “reporters” at twenty different media agencies. Each of the twenty stories are dramatically different. Neither relay sthe same “facts.” Some offer praise. Some are dark and dreary. Others are light and happy. Some are filled with opinion (hatred or love). None, however, are accurate. The story is all over the place. Unfortunately, this is today’s reporter. Bull … loney.

And I know exactly what he speaks of, and it’s not something you’d want to step in …