Weekend Road Trip: The Pacific

The Pacific


Take a drive along the coast of California and you’ll see lots of footpaths leading from the roadside into tall weeds and thickets. Do yourself a favor sometime and venture down a few of those trails. We did, and these are photos of what we found on the other side.

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Writers’ Police Academy

* Please, please, please register for your hotel rooms! They’re going fast, and I’ve only managed to secure a limited number. There are several other large events in the area the same weekend as our event. The hotel will not bill you for the room until check in. Remember, the hotel is providing free shuttle service to and from the airport, and to and from the academy. They’re also providing free breakfast for registered guests who’re attending the Writers’ Police Academy. All that for a mere $79 per night. I’ve never, ever seen a deal like that at any other writer event.


* Important Notice – We are very, very close to reaching capacity for the FATS training. So close, I can actually see the last seat in the class. Please register now to reserve your spot!


The Don Knotts Silver Bullet Novel Writing Contest is now open! Enter to win free academy registration, the Silver Bullet Award, and a special surprise involving Algonkian conferences.

13 replies
  1. Gwen Hernandez
    Gwen Hernandez says:

    Thanks for another trip down the Cal coast. I miss it every day! We lived about a 20 minute drive from Pismo Beach, and I drove past it on my way to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo every weekday for two years.

  2. Niagarasailor
    Niagarasailor says:

    Heh… Timothy McVeigh actually attended my school, his parents lived down the road from me (until they divorced) and their name was listed directly after my family’s in the town phonebook. I was in 5th grade when the Oklahoma City bombing occured and I remember the news people outside the school and in our town trying to get some story about him.

    I even saw a few textbooks with ‘Timmy McVeigh’ scrawled in the front, but who knows if they were the real deal or not… Just an interesting story. He graduated and left Pendleton long before I even was born I think.

  3. Becky Levine
    Becky Levine says:

    Okay, totally off-topic, but, Lee…I tagged you for a meme at my blog. I promise, there’s not a single question about DNA in the whole thing!

  4. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Thanks Lee & Dr. Ramsland.

    I guess that could be fascinating furtile ground for a writer, but you’d really have to know your stuff to make those switches and have it be plausible.

    As for my 1950’s detective, his response is “who the hell cares why they did it, we just gotta prove who did it.”

  5. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Dave – I asked Dr. Katherine Ramsland to answer your question since this is her area of expertise. She’s written numerous books on the subject, such as THE HUMAN PREDATOR. Here’s her reply:

    Dr. Katherine Ramsland says:

    We have had serial killers turn into spree killers (Malvo and Muhammed are recent examples), and we’ve had mass murderers turn into serial killers (they kill in groups and then move on, but it’s rare); but it’s difficult for spree killers, whose identity is generally known, to then become the more secretive serial killer, although they could end it all with a final mass murder. (There was an Arkansas mass murderer, Simmons, who then went on a spree to end it all.) Some people say that Andrew Cunanan is an example of a spree-turned-serial killer, since there was a lot of time between his initial spree and the final murder, but I would say that’s not true, since he didn’t really have a psychological “cooling off” period. His final murder was motiviated by the same precipitating factor as the the earlier ones.

    Too often people think that numbers of victims and period of time spent killing are determining factors for these three categories, but there’s a psychological component as well. That being said, no killer is wondering what category he or she fits: they kill according to their own patterns, needs, and compulsions, so crossover is certainly a possibility, and has been done in a number of cases. As they evolve and fail to be caught or end it with suicide, their MO might evolve as well. Starkweather, who’s usually viewed as the spree prototype, actually killed one man in December 1957, and then three late that January, and after a week, THEN went on a quick spree with his girlfriend. The December killing was psychologically unrelated to the rest.

  6. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Very interesting blog, Lee.

    You’re right, most folks wouldn’t make the distinction between spree & serial killer.

    Question – do these different kinds of killers ever move from one type to another? For instance a spree killer who decides to “go out with a bang” and kill large numbers of people, or do their psychological profiles generally keep them in their specific category?

  7. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Will – Parking is very limited at Kate’s since her store is directly on Mass Ave. There is a small lot beside the book store, but it’s shared with another business, and is usually full. Parking on the side streets is nearly impossible, and they’re all one way, too. The T might be your best bet.

  8. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Ken – First of all, congratulations on your success at the Willamette conference. Angela Rinaldi is very sharp. I think you’re in great hands. Maybe we can talk Angela or Lisa Cron into doing a guest blog for us.

    I’ve seen a few books that featured serial killers who should have been labeled as mass murderers or spree killers. To me, that’s the same as authors writing about Glocks and Sigs with safeties.

    By the way, folks, Ken is a chief of police in Oregon. You can read about him at http://www.kennethrlewis.com/

  9. Ken Lewis
    Ken Lewis says:

    Now THIS is interesting, Lee! I think “serial killers” have stolen the spotlight in American crime fiction for way too long. So long, in fact, that the majority of the public believes they are the only type of repetitive killers out there. I specifically made the bad guy in my novel a spree killer, and believe it or not this small, subtle touch ended up being a huge factor in me getting an agent. In 2006 I went to the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland (OR) with the sole mission of pitching my book to six different literary agents. During my ten minute pitches I opened each one with the statement that my book was about a flawed police officer investigating a series of “spree” killings and because of a horrible, dark secret from his past, and even though he eventually came to realize that he knew who this spree killer was, he was about to let him get away with even more murders rather than face an ugly truth about himself. Every one of those agent’s faces lit up when I mentioned the word “spree” and every single one of them queried me, at length, about what the difference was between a serial killer, and a spree killer. Two weeks later I got a phone call from Los Angeles and was signed by the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency.

  10. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    SZ – That was a frightening time for everyone in the area.

    Will – Sometimes there’s a bit of overlap between spree and serial killers, but if you take the time to analyze the case you should be able to come up with the proper classification.

    By the way, I should be at Kate’s book store tonight around 6pm.

  11. Wilfred Bereswill
    Wilfred Bereswill says:

    Good stuff, Lee. For my next project I’m planning a suspense. I’m trying to classify the type of killer he would be considered.

    Technically, I’d have to go with the serial killer. Thanks, Lee.

  12. SZ
    SZ says:

    I was in Orange County when Richard Ramirez “The Night Stalker” was at large. Right before he was caught, a single friend and I had been staying at her house. We were checking the windows all the time. It is hot in OC.

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