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Archive for October 1st, 2012

Guest Blogger: Melanie Atkins
Monday, October 1st, 2012

The Writers’ Police Academy: Hot Cops + Cold Steel

Really? Yes! The last weekend in September, I attended Lee Lofland’s Writers’ Police Academy near Greensboro, NC. I went the past two years as well — but this year’s conference was the best ever! I had such a good time, met some big name people, and learned so much. I was even able to interview a SWAT Team sniper in a search for info about my current WIP. Awesome!

The Firearms Training Simulator (FATS) was a literal blast, as usual. I didn’t do so great when I faced the first scenario; guess it took me a minute to get back in the groove. In the second one, however, I didn’t shoot the hostage I thought I’d brought down. Turns out the hostage taker knifed the guy after I nailed the bad guy in the crotch. Then once the hostage hit the floor, I shot the hostage taker in the chest and that was that. Two direct hits. Woot! So. Much. Fun!

Some of my favorite classes were Underwater Evidence Recovery, courtesy of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office dive team; Suicides, Hangings, and Autoerotic Deaths, with one of my favorite instructors, Bill Lanning; Personal Protection for Women, taught by the unshakable Dee Jackson; Drug Interdiction; How a Case Works, by Marcia Clark, the woman who prosecuted OJ many moons ago; and Forensic Identification, taught by the estimable Dr. Elizabeth Murray. To top it off, Lee Child of Jack Reacher fame was the keynote speaker at Saturday night’s banquet. Wow. I could go on and on… because really, I had the time of my life.

In addition to the classes and the firearms simulator, this year I was also able to  ride along with a member of the Greensboro Police Department. I rode with Officer Ashley Hawkins and got to see a good sized section of the city. She and some of the other officers I met during the evening were all so young, I felt as if I’d been dropped into an episode of Rookie Blue. Too funny. And unfortunately for me, the few hours I tagged along with her proved to be relatively uneventful.

Officer Hawkins couldn’t even find anyone with an out of date car tag. We did investigate a supposed gunshot, however, and near the end of my ride, she got a call to check out a burglar alarm at a really creepy empty warehouse. When cops get an alarm call like that, they have to search the entire building, just in case; the place was huge, so she asked another officer for help, and he showed up with a trained K-9 — a beautiful German Shepherd used to doing building searches. The alarm kept shrieking, though, and they couldn’t hear the dog bark, so they still had to go through the entire place. That took a while. Another cop drove around to the back of the building and checked the ancient loading dock. They didn’t find anyone inside, and I guess that was good… although I would have loved a little more excitement. As it was, I was late getting back to the pickup point. Oops.

I tip my hat to Lee Lofland, the extremely competent staff of the Highpoint Public Library, Sisters in Crime (a wonderful organization that subsidized the conference fee for their members), the folks at Guilford Technical Community College, the men and women of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the Greensboro Police Department, and the staff at the Embassy Suites Hotel. What a fabulous few days it was for all of us! I know I’ve missed a lot of people, so please forgive me.

I recommend this conference to anyone writing crime fiction. Can’t wait for next year if Lee, SinC, and the library folks decided to tackle this again.

Meanwhile, I’m in promotion hell. I have a new book out this month… and more coming soon. So much to do, so little time.

HAUNTED MEMORIES, my October book from Desert Breeze Publishing, is a re-release, and I’m so happy to have it back out there. When it was out before, it got excellent reviews. In this story, Olivia Bartlett is stunned to find her old friend, Deputy Tucker Hawkins, living in the house she has inherited, but she’s even more shocked to glimpse her cruel stepfather lurking in the shadows. Has Walter come back to haunt her, or is he really alive–and trying to kill her? To survive, she must turn to Tucker, who not only stakes his claim to the old house, but also to her heart.

The book is available at Desert Breeze, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online outlets.

Also, my book SKELETON BAYOU is at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only $.99. Hope you’ll check it out!