Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writers’ Police Academy 2015

L to R: Terri Reed, Debby Giusti, Margaret Daley,
Tina Radcliffe, Christy Reece, and Rhonda Starnes
Watch out WPA! Here we come!
By Debby Giusti

For the second year in a row, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Writers’ Police Academy—a favorite with suspense and mystery writers—and wanted to provide the Seekerville community with an overview of this amazing conference and what makes it so special. I’ve asked Tina Radcliffe, Rhonda Starnes, Margaret Daley, Terry Reed and Christy Reece to provide input as well.

According to the WPA’s website
The Writers’ Police Academy offers the most hands-on, interactive and educational experience writers can find to enhance their understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics. This is a one of a kind event, featuring real police, fire, and EMS training at an actual police academy.

Registration for the WPA fills up fast, often within hours. Some classes and activities require advance signup, such as ride-alongs, jail tours, JAWS of life extraction and MILO shoot/don’t shoot simulation, but the majority of workshops are open to all those attending and are offered a number of times throughout the weekend. I filled a spiral bound notebook with information and wished I would have had time to take all the classes…but that’s why folks go back year after year.

Could this fireman be a hero in your story?
The WPA is the brainchild of retired law enforcement officer Lee Lofland (check out his blog, The Graveyard Shift). For the last seven years, Lee has been the coordinator and driving force behind this one-of-a-kind, interactive opportunity for writers.Throughout the year, Lee recruits experts in all areas of law enforcement, fire and EMS rescue to present workshops. In addition to classroom sessions, those attending have access to live demonstrations, tactical scenarios as well as hands-on opportunities to experience law enforcement in action.

The goal is to come away with a better understanding of the men and women in uniform so writers can “get it right” when they feature public safety personnel in their stories. Not only does the staff and faculty share information about the various jobs within law enforcement, but they also provide a behind-the-scenes look at what drives and motivates them, their successes, their joys but also their frustrations and even their failures. Writers learn what makes those who wear the uniform unique and heroic as well as the struggles that come with the job.

L to R: Margaret Daley, Tina Radcliffe, Terri Blackstock
and Debby Giusti
Terri sat across from me on my flight from Atlanta to
Appleton. She's an amazing author and a lovely lady!
This year, the WPA was held at the Fox Valley Technical College and Public Safety Training Center in Appleton, Wisconsin. The 78-acre campus trains police, fire and EMS recruits and includes a firing range, six-story burn building, forced entry building, a scenario village, a Boeing 727, an emergency driving course and skid path, in addition to indoor classrooms and training areas.
The Fox Valley Technical College Campus
The conference is fast paced and packed with information. Those attending WPA 2015, nearly 300 writers, arrived at the Radisson Hotel in Appleton on Thursday afternoon in time to pick up registration packets. Some folks, like Tina, headed off for ride-alongs while the rest of us attended a talk and demonstration on 3D Crime Scene Mapping. The next morning we boarded buses and left the hotel at 7:30 am and were on the go all day, returning just before dinner. Later that night we had a K9 demonstration, involving a take down and arrest. Saturday was an equally full day and included a talk by New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan on how to “Get It Right.” Saturday concluded with a banquet and speech by 2015 Special Guest, NY Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter. A two-hour Q&A with the law enforcement faculty ended the 2015 event at noon on Sunday. Those attending went home tired but happy about what they learned and experienced.

Charlie's Angels pose for a photo shoot after they do a
building search. But wait! Is that Debby Giusti?
What's up?
Here's a peek at a few of the classes I attended:

Espionage, Cons and the Anatomy of Betrayal. The session was taught by a former undercover cop who still keeps a low profile and asked that no one circulate his picture on the Web. He talked about his “life on the street” that successfully brought down a NYC drug ring. He showed real footage of various drug deals and tactical operations that led to arrests.

The instructor talked about dressing down while undercover and wearing clothes that were offensive and unwashed. He marked his veins with graphite pencil to look like tracks and cautioned that drug dealers don’t want to work with flamboyant folks, instead they’re looking for someone who’s not imposing and isn’t a threat to them.
K-9 Arrest Scenario
An Insider’s View to the World of Women in Law Enforcement: The first female officer hired in Lodi, California talked about the beginning days of women in law enforcement and some of the problems they still face. Slender and petite, she shared the tactics she used to subdue and control suspects who were twice her size. She also provided a real look at prostitution and what she her job entailed working as an undercover hooker.  

Something we discovered outside the classroom...
Wisconsin Cheese Curds! YUM!

From Crime Scene to Autopsy. Coroner Amanda Thomas shared photos and information about her job and what she has seen and experienced at various crime scenes over the years. As coroner, she orders autopsies and toxicology tests on body fluids, takes samples, calls the funeral home and notifies the family.             

Bloodstain Pattern Investigation Class.

Interview and Interrogation. This workshop went into the tactics and techniques used by investigators in what the instructor called a "psychological fight" between the suspect and interrogating officer. To get a confession, an investigator needs to convince the suspect that it’s in his or her best interest to confess.

Debby's in jail!
I also attended classes on Forensic Art and Witness Recall, the SWAT Experience, and Fingerprinting 101 and participated in the Building Searches/Door Breaching live scenario and toured the mock-up jail on campus.  

Margaret Daley's ready to join the SWAT team!

USA Today Bestselling Author Margaret Daley, had this to say about her experience: “The absolute best thing I did in the name of research is going to the Writer’s Police Academy. This year was my second time—the other two years ago. Every class was full of information I can use in a book (or not—remember not all your research goes into the story or it would read as a non-fiction book). While at the police academy (in a real police academy with police, fire and paramedics training at the same time), I cleared a building looking for suspects and learned different things from what a SWAT team does to teaming with a police K-9. My favorite class was learning about virus and bacteria that can be modified and used to kill someone (example anthrax). Fascinating information.”

Christy Reece snapped these photos at one of the K-9
demonstrations. As you might imagine, the dogs stole the show!

NYT Bestselling Author Christy Reece was equally as enthused: “WPA was so much more than I expected. I'd heard from other writers about their positive experiences and as a romantic suspense author I knew it would be helpful. It was so much more. The instructors were excellent, professional but approachable. The Fox Valley training facility was the perfect venue. I learned so much and left the beautiful town of Appleton, Wisconsin, inspired and motivated. I recommend WPA for all writers who want to learn more about all aspects of law enforcement. I will definitely be returning next year!” 

Tina Radcliffe sporting a new hat and ready for any
Award winning author Tina Radcliffe provided her favorite tips from the Fire Fundamentals session she attended:
1. Fire personnel wear shorts and a t-shirt under their gear. (Turnout coat and pants.)
2. When a fireman/ woman dons a mask they have no peripheral vision.
3. Firemen are not allowed to have whiskers (ala 
Chicago Fire characters) That would be considered unfit for duty. The mask cannot properly seal on the face if the face is not clean shaven.
4. A firetruck has a ladder. An engine has no ladder.

Tina Radcliffe (L) and Terri Reed (R)
Award winning Love Inspired Suspense author Terri Reed added the following: "The Writer’s Police Academy is a must for any writer who wants to depict the various law enforcement and emergency personnel in a realistic and believable manner. I was overwhelmed with the professional knowledge of the instructors and the variety of classes offered. I enjoyed the K-9 demonstrations. I was able to ride in a fire truck which was awesome and learned the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine. I cleared a smoke filled room (filled with theatrical smoke). The smoke was more disorienting than darkness, which was not what I expected. I also was able to meet many fabulous writers whose work I admire. There was no way to attend every session so I’ll definitely be going back. I can’t wait until next year!"

Rhonda Starnes in the restraining chair!
What did you do, Rhonda?
Suspense writer Rhonda Starnes had this to say about her experience: "My number one take away from the Writers’ Police Academy was don’t rely on television shows and movies for your facts when it comes to writing crime scenes. This was repeated over and over again throughout the weekend, and it was reinforced when instructors taught us proper procedures.

"What did I learn at WPA? Fingerprints aren’t washed away by rain, blood splatters that have been “cleaned up” will have more of a fireworks type pattern when Luminol is applied, and I really want to write a book with a SWAT team hero who wears glasses. LOL!" 

The SWAT hero in Rhonda Starnes' next story!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos and have a better idea of what writers experience at the WPA! To learn more, visit the WPA website. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the home page and sign up for their newsletter and Facebook page.

Fingerprinting class! 
What types of hands-on research have you done in your local area? Does your police force offer a Citizen’s Police Academy or any other program that brings law enforcement and citizens together? Does the WPA sound like a conference you'd like to attend? Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of my latest Love Inspired Suspense, PERSON OF INTEREST, and a $10 Starbucks' gift certificate! 

God bless the men and women in
law enforcement and all our first responders!
The men and women I met at the WPA were a cut above. They selflessly sacrifice their own well-being to protect and defend the citizens they serve! Recently, our brave men and women in uniform have come under attack. I mourn those who have lost their lives in the line of duty and pray for the safety of all law enforcement, fire and emergency rescue personnel. May the Lord protect them and keep them in His care.

Wishing you abundant blessings!
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti

While babysitting a young servicewoman’s infant, Natalie Frazier hears a murder in the neighboring army duplex. Convinced her former commander is behind the crime, the ex-soldier bolts with the baby. But who will believe her story? Army investigator Everett Kohl deals only with the facts, but this time his gut instincts can’t be denied. Is the attractive Natalie a cunning killer, as his ranking officers believe, or an innocent victim? Ordered to bring her in, Everett has a decision to make. Helping her could cost him his job…but not protecting  Natalie and the baby could get all of them killed…

Order your copy in digital or print format: Amazon.

Also, available in digital format, COFFEE SHOP ROMANCES, featuring "Stolen Kisses."


  1. Gosh, great post and I could share more and more about what was so great about the conference:

    The food was great.
    The people were friendly and welcoming in Appleton.
    The hotel was wonderful and accommodating and not expensive (and had a Starbucks).

    More great things I experienced included my five hour ride along with the Appleton PD and Officer Mallory DePetro and an hour with Officer Rohm and his K9.

    The coroner Amanda Thomas was fantastic too.

    Banquet speaker Karin Slaughter was a surprise, she looks so serious and she had us crying with laughter at her speech.

    Allison Brennan was a hoot and a real kick of a speaker too. Ask her about why her kids Christian school never invites her to speak anymore. LOLOL.

    I could go on and on and often do!!

  2. What a fun post Debby! Please enter my name in the drawing for a book and Starbucks card!

  3. What a fun post. I want to do it all except the autopsy. I spent a hot Georgia summer studying a cadaver in pharmacy school, and I think that was enugh for me. Great pictures and everything looks so fun and informative! I'm sure your writing will be even stronger.

    I loved reding Person of Interest!

    Thanks for sharing the pictures and the fun!

  4. Oh, the WPA sounds fantastic! I'd love to attend one year. In the meantime I'll live off your posts. Thanks for sharing the wonderful time you had and the pics and links to the WPA site.

    As you can see, I have a propensity to stay up too late, so definitely put me in for the Starbucks card.

    Does this mean Ms Tina is going to try her hand at suspense?

    1. And Debby, I always love a copy of your books!

  5. Looks like a lot of fun, Debby. Can't wait to see how you translate your new police knowledge into your next books. I would have loved to see the dog demo.

    Cheese curds sound like punishment, not a treat...and I LOVE cheese. Maybe I'm tainted by my dd,the food scientist/cheese expert who readily explains the difference between ropey cream and rancid milk - (it tastes like ammonia). She explained the change in chemical make up of the cheese as it's fried. Yikes. Just give me a slab of plain old Wisconsin cheddar on a butter cracker. ;)

  6. Hands on - the best way to learn. What fun this would be.

  7. Oh.My.Gosh. It sounds and looks like you all had a wonderful time. It must have been interesting to be able to see what the police, fire and EMS personnel do every day up close. Thank you for sharing.

    Blessings to everyone.

    Cindy W.

  8. You are the cutest inmate I've ever seen, Debby! Thank you for sharing the experience with us. What a fun and educational way to learn the behind the scene workings of law enforcement. Since I work for the police department, I know the daily struggles they and their families face.

  9. Wow, that looks and sounds absolutely amazing!!! SO much information!!! I would love to go to that. Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Oh my stars, this is a totally wonderful overview of an amazing learning experience. Deb, I loved the pictures, and I loved your take on the worthiness of the WPA. It's the kind of learning experience every writer can use, hands-on, crazy worthwhile and the kind of lessons an author never forgets. None of this is subjective, and that's the Return on Investment right there. Objective skills are things we can whip out of our writing arsenal and apply from the day you get home.

    I love this so much! I'm not a suspense author, but the value of this academy would be worthwhile for any author.

    But the pics totally made me love, love, love this!!!!

  11. Oh, cheese curds. These are not easy to make. To get them to be individual like that, you have to double coat them and fry them so the cheese doesn't melt all over the fryer.

    Now I need a trip to the great Midwest!!!

  12. Tina, glad you mentioned the hotel. Everyone was so helpful and welcoming. Lots of nice eateries in the area for dinner. Sunday, Margaret, Christy and I had lunch before heading to the airport. The big game was on everywhere we stopped. Wisconsin loves football!!! And cheese curds. :)

  13. You're in the drawing, Loves to Read!

    The breakfast bar is open so, please, help yourself! Scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy, scones, fresh fruit and grits! Cheese curds, too, in honor of the WPA!

  14. Thanks, Jackie, for your kind words about PERSON OF INTEREST!

    The coroner showed a number of pictures of crime scenes and provided so much information. She was a cute blonde and a mom...and loved her work. It's always refreshing to see folks who are passionate about their jobs. Hers is tough at times, especially with death notification. She talked about a tragic accident in her neighborhood. As difficult as it was for her, she knew the family found comfort in having a dear friend working the crime scene. A number of us were wiping our eyes as she related that case.

  15. This was interesting. Please enter my name in your drawing.

  16. Terri, you're in the drawing. The coffee's hot this morning. I'm ready for a second cup.

    Tina is a suspense writer at heart! :) I'm expecting a fireman hero in one of her next stories. She was rockin' that fireman's hat! :)

  17. Lyndee, I wasn't sure about the cheese curds, but Tina ordered them and we all took a bite...then we couldn't stop. They're like chips...almost better! Not sure about the rancid milk. Perhaps that's more than I need to know. LOL!

  18. Mary Preston, you're so right. Hands-on learning is the best!

  19. Sounds like so much fun.
    I'd LOVE to go next year.

    And we don't need to rely on tv shows and movies to get our information? I remember watching an interview that talked about how the shows like CSI has made an impact w/jurors. They are starting to believe every case should have evidence like they present on the show.

  20. Cindy, they provided so much information and were willing to answer any questions. Some of the classes involved a look at the personal lives of officers, such as "The Mindset of Cops" and "Romance Behind the Badge."

  21. Jill, how wonderful that you work in law enforcement! What an opportunity! I'm sure you share my gratitude to all those who wear the uniform. Law enforcement is a tough and dangerous job. They see so much about the underbelly of our world. I'm sure that's hard to shake off. Good families and faith are so necessary, in my opinion.

    The young guys on the SWAT team talked about praying before they go into a situation. They were all church-going Christians. That warmed our hearts!

  22. Jessica, it's a one-of-a-kind conference. No wonder registration fills up so fast. :)

  23. Ruthy, you would love Appleton. The first night Christy and I only had an hour to grab some dinner before everything started. We raced down the street to a cute Italian restaurant. The waitress was a doll! Loved her accent too. She set a timer to ensure she brought our bill and got us on our way within the allotted hour! So friendly. So accommodating. All the folks were like that. Great people. Great place. Great conference.

  24. Debby, excellent job bringing the WPA experience to life! It was such an amazing weekend of learning and fellowship. I definitely plan to go again one day. I just need to get published first so Mountain Man will see the value of my WPA education!!

    Waving to you and Tina from Alabama! Miss you ladies!!

  25. Wow! What a wonderful experience. I wonder if there's a 'school' like this about the military?

  26. wow. I so want to go to a WPA conference. I love all the pictures and info. I love Police and Fire personnel, they are always so approachable (or perhaps it's the cute five year old boy dragging me over to talk to them that does it). Little man has made friends with the folks of the closest fire station (Station 8) and will tell anyone who will listen that they are the best station. They still have the card he drew for them two years ago on their bulletin board. We always pray for them when we hear their sirens or see them on the road.

    Thanks for this great post. I'm always in the draw for a Debby Giusti book.

    Now back to my now seemingly boring GA job... *heh*

  27. Looks like a wonderful time! Toss me in for the draw for a Debby Giusti book :)

  28. An informative post, thanks Debby!

    I loved the photos of the dogs, guys, and you gals—it looked like a fun time for all involved. :-)

  29. Debby, I'm so jealous!!! Even though I'm not writing contemporary or suspense, I'd attend just because the WPA conference sounds like so much fun! I especially like the name of that one workshop: "Romance Behind the Badge." LOL Loved all the great pics.

    The only experience in my life that ever came close was attending a two-week version of boot camp on an Air Force base when I was 13 and a member of the Civil Air Patrol. We got to tour an underground missile silo in Kansas and learned to shoot an M-1 rifle. I think they're up to M-18s or something these days, so you know how long ago that was.

    I've already won a copy of PERSON OF INTEREST, which I can't wait to read, but I'd love a Starbucks card.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  30. Those pictures bring back so many fond memories. I had a great time with some wonderful folks. I learned so much the day after I got home, I was wiped out. It took several days to recuperate and get back to work. Thanks for sharing this, Debby.

  31. Oh, and that autopsy class? I'd avoid it like the plague. I even have to cover my eyes at the opening credits of BONES lest I get the dry heaves. LOL

  32. Debby, thanks for sharing this terrific overview of the conference and your photos! What a fabulous educational opportunity for those writing suspense/crime novels. Kudos for Lee Lofland for giving authors information that ensures they'll "get it right."

    When our grandkids were young, we bid on a tour of a firehouse. Our entire family saw the facility, watched a fireman don his garb and could try on the heavy coat. We rode in the fire truck with the siren briefly turned on. Some of us went up in the bucket and handled a gushing hose. We ate burgers and dogs with the crew and had time to ask questions. Just a wonderful experience that made me appreciate firemen even more. The conference had to multiply that feeling ten-fold.


  33. Wow, utterly fascinating, Debby! What a great experience--almost makes me wish I wrote suspense!

    I was looking for something on my office bookshelves yesterday and realized I have almost an entire shelf devoted to the crime, forensics, and law enforcement research books I had collected over the years while I was a member of the Writers Digest Book Club. Have I referred to them much? No! But I just always thought they looked so interesting!

  34. Back from church and grabbing another cup of coffee!

    CathyAnn40, you're in the drawing. Did you try the Wisconsin Cheese Curds?

  35. Connie Queen, I've heard the same thing. Jurers expect the rapid results and without-a-doubt evidence they see on TV dramas. Unfortunately, that's not true to life.

  36. Rhonda, sharing the weekend with you made it so much more fun!

    Actually, we had a lovely group, as pictured in the first photo. We shared info and input about which sessions we had attended that shouldn't be missed. Plus we saved seats when the rooms started to fill. The SWAT team was a big hit! Great guys. So dedicated and hard working. Praying for their continued safety!

  37. Thanks for all the detail about WPA! Yes! It sounds wonderful, I'd love to go, and I think even my non-writer hubby would enjoy attending. Please enter me for a chance at winning your book.

  38. Cara, I haven't heard of any organized classes...but I'm sure many military folks would welcome visitors and would be happy to share info, at least non-classified info. :)

    When we lived at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, CA--think Mojave Desert--Tom Clancy came out and rode with my husband over the miles and miles of battle terrain. Tony, my hubby, was the head Armor Task Force Commander and coordinated and oversaw the live training and battles involving Armor Units, again think tanks. Tom Clancy was in awe and sent hubby an advanced copy of his next book. If you remember a Colonel Antonio Giusto in Clancy's books, that character was based on my hubby.

    Just a bit of trivia I thought I'd share. :)

  39. DebH, God bless your little guy! How special that he prays for the firemen when he hears sirens. We do that in our family too.

    For my grandson's birthday party a few years back, the children had a tour and talk given by the folks at the local Fire Station. The guys were great. The kids tried on their gear and were able to crawl around the engine and fire trucks. The kids were enthralled. Plus, the firemen provided great tips for fire safety that children need to know so it was a win-win on a number of levels.

  40. Hi Mary Hick,

    Everyone loved the dogs. That's a given, right! One of the handlers talked about the close relationship he had with his dog. The dog goes home with him at night and is part of the family. He also mentioned how the K-9s can go into situations that would be extremely dangerous for their human handlers.

  41. Barbara, sounds like you had a great adventure with your Air Force boot camp. I'd love to go into one of the silos! Were you an Air Force brat? My dad was Army. As a child, he took me for rides in his tanks. Lots of fun, but I doubt anyone does that now.

    BTW, I met folks attending the WPA who weren't writers. They just wanted to know more about law enforcement, so the program is open to anyone...even historical writers! :)

  42. Margaret, we worked hard, didn't we! I was tired too when I got home. Long days, but lots of great info and experiences that were priceless!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the WPA and for the great SWAT picture. Lookin' good, Margaret!

  43. Janet, what a great opportunity for your family. I love how firemen and folks in law enforcement want to share information with the public. I know lots of little boys dream of being firemen after a trip to the fire station!

    My nephew's chief of a fire department in California. We always pray for his safety, especially in times like these with all the forest fires. The pictures on the news have been horrific. I wonder if anyone in our Seekerville family has been touched by these current fires. If so, we're praying for you and your homes and the safety of all.

  44. Myra, is a suspense author lurking beneath all those wonderful historical stories you create?

  45. Dana, sharing the WPA with your hubby would be fun. I'm sure he'd love everything...lots of testosterone at the Academy and so many things guys love, like fast cars and fire trucks, sirens, ambulances, SWAT equipment, rescue apparatuses, etc.

    Love your picture holding an umbrella. Is that part of your brand? So clever and so unique! :)

    You're in the drawing.

  46. Good morning, Debby! I followed all your posts on FB while you all were there, and it looks terrific!! If it's going to continue to be in Wisconsin, I can drive. If my husband is willing to take a day off to stay with the children, I might be able to swing it. :-) I signed up for the newsletter. Thanks for the informative post!

  47. Meghan, Lee is planning to stay at the Appleton facility. It's lovely and the folks were all so accommodating. I know you'd enjoy the conference. I'm hoping to return, although August is sometimes a busy month. FYI, members of Sisters in Crime get a discount on registration. So it's worth joining that group before you register for the WPA. And be sure to sign up as soon as the registration opens. Three years ago, I couldn't get in. Also, they usually have a waiting if you're blocked from registering, get on the wait list. This year, they were able to take more folks due to the larger facility and hotel so people were added some months after the initial registration.

  48. Debby, this is amazing! I want to go! I wasn't sure it was something I could use in the stories I write. But I've always wanted to write about a firefighter hero or heroine. Now I think I need to attend this before I attempt it. Thanks for sharing!

    I LOVED the photos! What fun. :)

  49. Debby, we lived close to Fort Leonard Wood in Waynesville, MO, and I went to school with a lot of army brats. I learned survival skills and how to repel down cliffs out on the post in Civil Air Patrol.

    Good to know WPA accepts historical writers! Who knows? Maybe I've rewrite that suspense novel in my bottom drawer and whip it into shape.

  50. I'm also going to add that you get a coooool t shirt like CASTLE'S that says WRITER on the back!!!

    And Ruthy is right, if you have a cop or a fireman in a story, this is the conference for you.

    Seekerville Retreat. Next year in Wisconsin.

  51. Debby, those wildfires in CA are so scary and destructive! Praying for your nephew.

    Hugs, Janet

  52. Wow, Debby, that looks like so much fun! Do you think they have one of those for historical writers? :-) I'm glad you got to go, and Tina looks SO CUTE in that fireman's hat!

  53. WOW, DEBBY, This is one of the most incredible learning experiences I have ever read about, and think it must be an absolute MUST for suspense authors to attend. I can't imagine fitting all of that in in 3 nights and four days, so you guys must have been absolutely EXHAUSTED on Monday!! But, OH, SOOOOO worth it, it sounds like!

    TINA SAID: "Allison Brennan was a hoot and a real kick of a speaker too. Ask her about why her kids Christian school never invites her to speak anymore. LOLOL."

    NO FAIR, Tina -- As a mom of former Christian school students, I would LOVE to hear what she said, so pretty please???


  54. Missy,

    Yes, it's great research for all writers! We could get a big group of Seekers and Villagers! What fun that would be.

  55. Barbara, I lived in Kirksville, Mo, for three years. That's not too far from FT Leonard Wood. In fact, Leonard Wood was the closest Army post. Hubby was teaching ROTC at NE MO State Univ, which is now Truman State. Small world! :)

  56. Love the idea of a Wisconsin Seekerville Retreat, Tina! Woot!

    Cheese curds for all!!!

    Plus, it's Tina's birthday! Have a wonderful day, dear friend!

    The guys from the SWAT team are serving birthday cake and ice cream at the buffet bar in honor of Tina! Who wants cake?

  57. Thanks, Janet! Praying for containment...and rain!

  58. LYNDEE ... I'm with you ... you simply canNOT put the word "curd" anywhere near something edible and expect me to eat it Period. :)

    DEBBY SAID: "The coroner showed a number of pictures of crime scenes and provided so much information. She was a cute blonde and a mom...and loved her work. It's always refreshing to see folks who are passionate about their jobs."

    You know, Deb, I would think EVERYBODY in this field would be passionate about their work because it's not a field people go into lightly, without thought. Most people don't just wake up and say, "You know, I think I want to cut up dead bodies for a living in a forensics career." You have to have a passion that drives you there or an avid interest in forensic shows/book to go in that direction, I suspect. Which means you've chosen your career based on interest and fascination, so it's fun for you most of the time rather than grueling work you hate.

    BARBARA SAID: "Oh, and that autopsy class? I'd avoid it like the plague. I even have to cover my eyes at the opening credits of BONES lest I get the dry heaves. LOL"

    LOL ... move over, Barbara! I had to close my eyes in all the autopsy scenes in NCIS the first couple of years my hubby and I watched it together. And even now, I squint real tight if it's too bad. :)


  59. Melanie, historical authors are welcome! Next year in Appleton!

  60. You're right, Julie! Someone has to love the work to go into death investigation! That's a given.

    I'll let Tina answer your question about Allison. :)

  61. Julie, Allison was sharing some fun details and let an oopsie word slip. Then she said. THAT is why her kids Christian school no longer invites her to speak.


  62. Happy Birthday Tina!

    As much as I would love to win...I just won a few weeks ago so I'll pass...for now.
    Thank you for sharing about the Writer's Police Academy. I have wanted to attend since I first heard about it last year, and I wait patiently for that. It love how very in depth it all is.

    This post was also a great reminder about getting out there and talking to real people to make our writing more authentic. Thank you so much!

  63. So true, Kelly, about making our stories authentic. Interviewing an expert makes the difference! Plus, the WPA is like a giant brainstorming session. Story ideas abound.

  64. Blogger has not been letting me post so I will try again. I love this post and can see advantages for both the writer and the reader. Thank you for sharing it. I will keep this in mind for the future.

  65. Debby thanks so much for sharing the photos. All those smiling faces indicate everyone had fun while they learned. Maybe a bit too much fun since you landed in jail? :-)

    Nancy C

  66. Wilani, sorry Blogger was causing you problems. So glad you finally got to comment. Thanks for being with us today!

    You're in the drawing!

  67. Hi Debby,
    It looks like you and the group were having a great time! I'm amazed the lengths writers go to in order to make their stories credible and authentic. That's what I call dedication, I'm adding MORE admiration to what I'd already felt for writers!

  68. Nancy C...

    You've got me laughing!

    The mock-up jail was so interesting. They told how folks are brought in and patted down, then fingerprinted and placed in the holding cell. Later, they might be booked at the long-term center. All the police lock their weapons in a special "safe" that's outside the jail, so the jail is a gun-free zone. I thought the guards had guns, but they don't. They also talked about suspects hiding guns on their person. I'm sure you can imagine where...which takes a more thorough body cavity search. Oh my gosh! I can't imagine. God bless our police!

  69. Tracey! Thanks for the kind words about writers. The more we know, the easier it is to weave a story that resonates with readers. Plus, we like to get together with other writers and talk "shop," and we love to learn new things. Suspense writers love anything involving law enforcement, firemen and EMS. The WPA provides all of the above. :)

  70. Wow Debby, Great post. What an interesting time you all had. I was really curious to know more when I heard you all were there so I'm delighted you wrote about it in this post. What an exciting adventure. And I've heard that also. "Don't believe what you see on TV." Great advice.

    Our local RWA group, the Desert Rose Chapter, often brings in men and women from the criminal justice positions to speak at our meetings. In my hometown in Tempe the police force offers ride-alongs. These are great opportunities to speak to officers and see them work first hand.

    My favorite part of writing is the research. I can see why you had such a great time. Makes me want to write suspense so I will have an excuse to go. LOL

  71. OOOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!!Been waiting for this. Sounds positively amazing! I'd have loved the K-9 demonstrations the most. Might have tried to sneak one of them home with me. LOL Thanks for sharing for those of us who couldn't attend.

  72. Jumping in after a full morning of writing to say HI and thank Debby for posting about the WPA. It was a fabulous experience and I'm already looking forward to next year. I'm a roll right now as I'm attending my local county sheriff's citizen's academy. Its a thirteen week, one night a week and three full Saturday gig. Free to the community and totally worth going to. If you can't make it to the WPA check to see if your local police department or country sheriff's department has a citizens academy. And you can check with your state's FBI location which also has a citizens academy. I'm hoping to take the local one here in Oregon in the spring. I've learned so much in the past few months my head is swimming with information.

  73. Thanks for sharing your WPA adventure with us, Debby - - looks like a very informative and fascinating weekend!
    Great photos - - and I have to say that Tina wears that fireman's hat very well. ;)
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    p.s. Speaking of Tina - - HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TINA!!!! :)
    Enjoy a warm, Georgia Peach Cobbler - - baked just for you!

  74. Yay! Seekerville Retreat at WPA in Wisconsin!! Count me in!!!

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Tina!!!!! I hope you've had a fabulous day!

  75. Sandra,
    How wonderful that your town offers ride-alongs! Something to consider. I did one in my local area as part of the Citizen's Police Academy. That was such a wonderful opportunity to get into the officer's mindset and to experience what they do patrolling at night.

  76. Kav, anything like this available in your part of the world?

    Everyone loves the K-9s. So lovable but such a threat to the bad guys!

  77. Terri, thanks for the tip about the FBI opportunity. I'll check in my local area. Would love to know more about their operation! Glad we could share the WPA 2015 experience. :)

  78. Patti Jo!

    Tina does look cute in the hat, doesn't she! Hope she shares the peach cobbler with all of us! :)

  79. Rhonda, same place, same time next year! :)

  80. I would love to one of these!!!! It would be awesome! BUT, I would much rather go with your group because that would be the best! You all looked like you had a blast! It really shows in your writing because all of your books are fantastic in the "reality" basis!!! Loved the post!


  81. Peach Cobbler. In my dreams. Thank you, Patti Jo.


  82. Thanks for your kind words, Valri!

    Join us next year!

    Anyone else in?

  83. Great recap, Debby. Thanks! I do hope we'll see each of you next year. We've got plenty of excitement in store for you guys.

  84. Wow, Lee stopped by! Waving.

    Terri, I signed up for Phoenix Citizen's Academy, it's only four weeks, and there is an FBI one here too, that I am looking into. GREAT IDEA!!!!

  85. Lee, thanks for stopping by and thanks especially for hosting the WPA! Such a great conference! Many of us hope to return next year. See you in Appleton!

  86. Debby, I started reading this yesterday and never finished. Hope it's not too late to be entered for the drawing for Person of Interest and the Starbucks card. I love reading about your time at WPA. It sounds fascinating.

  87. Thanks, Sandy, for stopping by. It's never too late. :)


  88. This is a very interesting post!! & fun photos, too.

  89. This sounds like so much fun and educational too! I would love to go to this conference sometime!

    Please enter my name for the drawing of your book and the $10 gift card!

    Thanks for sharing!