A Blend of Life, Family, Awareness & Tales

Writer’s Police Academy

When I used to think of Police Officers, honestly, I usually thought one of two things:

  • “Oh shit, am I driving too fast?”
  • “This is a great character in this (book, movie, etc.)”

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That’s it. Kind of sad, right?

Very few things in my life have actually felt life-changing. (I’m not talking about meeting and marrying my husband, or the birth of my children, those are a given.) But honestly, the Writer’s Police Academy is one of them.

Sunday I returned home from my 2nd Writer’s Police Academy (WPA). For those of you who don’t know, or may have forgotten, my dream is to get published some day.

The WPA is a writing conference for writers who want to make their books more believable, readable, and realistic in regard to anything regarding law enforcement or other first responders.

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When I attended for the first time last year, the respect I felt for law enforcement changed from that of a ‘normal’ law abiding citizen to one of great respect, and a kinship to the men and women who wear a badge.

We learned how to load and handle a gun, how to look at a real crime scene, undercover work, arson, SWAT, blood spatter, pursuit immobilization techniques (in a real car!), etc. That was all really cool.

However there were things that I didn’t expect to learn:

  • For example, how my heart would pound so fast that I felt sick when faced with a ‘shoot, don’t shoot’ scenario. We had to decide, for example as a suspect’s hand came up, was he holding a cell phone or a gun?
  • Or how my back ached, and I got caught in doorways when I volunteered to wear the duty belt for a day, and it wasn’t even as heavy as a real one.  (And how the hell are you actually supposed to go to the bathroom with that thing on?)
duty belt

Photo credit: Mike Riegel

  • How someone reacts when a suspect ran at us armed with a knife from 20 feet away. Know how long that takes for the bad guy to reach you? About two seconds. Know how long it takes a WPA attendee to release their gun from their holster? About five seconds.

There has been a lot of bad press about the police, and I do not want to debate that here, I just want to give you my impressions. Every shift, the officers are out there, protecting us, not knowing what the day might bring. The majority of the officers are folks who really care for the people they protect, and believe me, they do not want to harm someone.

The biggest thing we attendees probably brought home with us is this: Just like you and me, a Police Officer simply wants to go home at night.

So what happened at the WPA this year?

Thursday afternoon, I attended the Kooky Cop Carnival. The conference hadn’t officially started, but we were provided with some entertainment. We had a chance to try on different equipment, pull a dummy to safety, even take fun mug shots:

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The real deal started Thursday evening with opening ceremonies. Our hosts, the Oneida Nation opened the conference with a blessing and entertainment by tribal dancers.

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Then over the next days, until Sunday at noon we participated in such cool classes. There were some that were held for everyone at once:

  • Drones
  • Writing for Television
  • Interview and Interrogation
  • Officer Down!

And there were break out classes for small groups. This year, I attended:

  • Blood Spatter (not splatter!)
  • Death Scene Investigation
  • Defense and Arrest Tactics
  • Fake vs Genuine Suicide Notes
  • Talking to Serial Killers
  • CSI: From First Responder to Evidence Collection
  • SWAT Explosive Entry
  • Long Gun: Live Fire with an AR-15

It was nearly impossible to narrow it down to those classes, there were about 40 to choose from. Time is limited though, and I wanted to take the ones that were most helpful to my current work in progress.

Finally, an unexpected bonus of the WPA for shy, introverted me was all the great people I met. The writing community is really generous and open, and it was great to feel a part of that. Whether published or not, everyone was there to learn, and we were all equals.

As Saturday night rolled around, we had a banquet, silent and live Auctions, raffle items, and a fantastic Guest Speaker, Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire book series on which the TV show is based. He was funny, warm, and inspiring to all of us there that night. If you haven’t read his books, you should!

As I sat at my table, trying to soak in every last morsel of the conference, I felt melancholy, mostly because I had made the decision that I should take a year off from WPA. As I am not yet published, attending can get expensive when you add up everything involved. Fortunately, the WPA fairy was watching over me that night, and I learned that I won the free tuition package to next year’s conference in the raffle. Phew!

Thank you to Lee Lofland (founder of WPA), and all the law enforcement, NWTC Faculty, speakers, volunteers, K-9s, police horses, and anyone else I missed.

WPA 2018, I can’t wait to return!

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are again! Apparently, I haven’t been blogging much, or at all. A little update to the Bio:

The Basics:

  • I am almost 47, having completed my first novel at age 43, so I have a bit of a late start.
  • I have a wonderful husband and two awesome kids, all very supportive of my writing. The best part of all this writing is that I have inspired both my children, ages 11 and 13, to write too!
  • I have a BS in Agricultural Journalism (that is a thing) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. buckybadger.gif
  • We currently live in a small town in Southern Wisconsin, but I grew up on a horse farm near Green Bay (Go Pack Go!). I spent my childhood showing horses throughout the Midwest. What a fantastic ride! (see what I did there?!)
  • I usually hide my nervousness with humor. (and again…)

A Few Things I love:

  • My Family. They are the best I could ask for!
  • Books: If it’s fiction, I probably love it. Lee Child, Susan Mallery, all the PitchWars mentors…  Seriously! The great thing about the writing community, especially Twitter, is getting to know so many authors and reading their books!
  • TV: Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, House of Cards, probably anything on the Hallmark channel on Saturday night, and “Making the Team” – Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
  • Gardening
  • Animals: Especially my stinker of a rescue dog, Cosmo and horses.

stinker

My Novel:

 

My Pitchwars manuscript, IF WISHES WERE HORSES, is categorized as Women’s Fiction with an element of romance.

Olympic gold medal winning Equestrian, Willa Wray leads a dream life until she and her horse fall while going over a jump, both suffering career-ending injuries. While still in the hospital, reeling over her horse’s fate, and the loss of her life’s work, her boyfriend informs her he is leaving her for another woman. Feeling like everything she has ever loved is lost, she moves back to her childhood home in small town Emerald Bluff, Wisconsin to find a way to rebuild her life.

Back on the farm, physical therapy and hard work heal Willa’s body. A young girl who needs Willa to teach her to ride, helps her regain her confidence. Farm farrier and childhood crush Shaw McAlister, shows up to heal her heart. 

With the encouragement of her family, she finds the courage to go back out to the barn to face her injured horse. Making baby steps, eventually she takes on her new-found fear of riding by mounting the farm’s quietest mare. 

Willa’s journey with the little girl transforms her outlook on life, when the girl writes about how Willa has inspired her. Realizing she too has been inspired, she decides to start her own riding school. 

Willa and Shaw’s relationship blossoms, and soon Willa learns that he is an amazing metal sculptor. She wants to help him show his work, even if it means reaching out to the only person she knows who has contacts in the art world, her ex-boyfriend. Unfortunately, Shaw has trust issues stemming from his abandonment by his father, and when he sees her with the other man, he assumes Willa will leave him too. While everything else in her life is finally falling back into place, can Willa find a way to save her heart?

I would love your criticism, prospective mentor, it will make me a better writer, and this story that I love, a better story. I’m a hard-working Wisconsin girl, and have a positive attitude so I think you would enjoy working with me.

I look forward to pitching to you and (crossing fingers) working with you! Thanks for taking the time to read my bio.

-Jodi

Thank you Brenda for putting this together!!

Whew. Here I go. Nervous as hell. Pitchwars first timer.

squidward.gif

The Basics:

  • I am almost 46, having completed my first novel at age 43, so I have a bit of a late start.
  • I have a wonderful husband and two awesome kids, all very supportive of my writing. The best part of all this writing is that I have inspired both my children, ages 10 and 12, to write!
  • I have a BS in Agricultural Journalism (that is a thing) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. buckybadger.gif
  • We currently live in a small town in Southern Wisconsin, but I grew up on a horse farm near Green Bay (Go Pack Go!). I spent my childhood showing horses throughout the Midwest. What a fantastic ride!
  • I usually hide my nervousness with humor.

A Few Things I love:

  • My Family. (Duh!)
  • Books: If it’s fiction, I probably love it. Lee Child, Emily Giffin, and everything in between.
  • TV: Dexter, House, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, House of Cards, Mad Men…
  • Movies: Anything with Ryan Reynolds.

RyanReynolds.gif

  • Animals: Especially my stinker of a rescue dog, Cosmo and horses.

My Novel:

My Pitchwars manuscript is a Contemporary Romance, about a woman, her horse and a man.

When Willa Wray, Olympic Gold medalist, falls off her horse, she suffers a career-ending injury and a heart-breaking breakup with her boyfriend. She goes home to her parent’s horse farm in Wisconsin to heal her body, but childhood crush Shaw McAlister shows up to heal her heart.

I would love your criticism, prospective mentor, it will make me a better writer, and this story that I love, a better story. I’m a hard-working Wisconsin girl, and have a positive attitude so I think you would enjoy working with me.

I look forward to pitching to you and (crossing fingers) working with you! Thanks for taking the time to read my bio.

-Jodi

Thank you Lana for putting this together. Check out all the other great bios here.

Pedicure.

“I want to polish your nails, Mom.”

For just a second I flinched. It was the beginning of summer, flip flop season and I didn’t really want to walk around with toes like that… Wait a minute, I thought to myself, Toes like what?

Toes painted lovingly by my 10 year old daughter? Toes with slightly crazy colors? Toes with designs I would never think of or dare to paint?

What would people think of a 44 year old woman wearing such a pedicure? Suddenly I realized who was going to see my toes; a bunch of moms like me at Target on a Tuesday morning, or maybe at the school gym during my son’s basketball practice. Who cares what they think? (Well, I did.) But I realized I cared more about what my daughter thought. Weren’t the thoughts flowing through her head and heart more important than what a bunch of strangers think of my polish choices? And again, who really cares what someone thought about my nails, if they even noticed them at all.

I had quite an “aha” moment right there. Since when was worrying that someone may find me a little eccentric more important than allowing my daughter the joy of doing something special for me? How often had I said no to her doing my hair or makeup or makeup because I might leave the house later? The time we spend together is so much more important.

Right then and there I had an attitude adjustment.

“I would love for you to do my nails, sweetie.”

“Really?” She sounded astounded. “You’re sure it’s ok?”

She ran to get the polish and by the time she returned, I decided she would do my nails the entire summer.

This was the first, and I thought it was marvelous!

This was the first, and I thought it was marvelous!

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And the second also very fun!

Fun for a vacation to the North woods.

Special for a vacation to the North woods.

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Photo pre-clean up, but you get the idea!

So I have to say, I was a little self conscious of this one, only because it was worn to my Grandma's funeral. Grandma would have loved the artistry though, I am sure.

So I have to say, I was a little self conscious of this one, only because it was worn to my Grandma’s funeral. Grandma would have loved the artistry though, I am sure.

Probably my favorite!

Probably my favorite!

Although this one was awesome too!

Although this one was awesome too!

 

Geometric!
Geometric!
And lastly, the one my daughter calls the

And lastly, the one my daughter calls the “Galaxy.” It was a beauty.

I’m going back to boring old single-color nails for the fall. They hardly ever peek out anymore now that the weather has gotten cooler, but they had a good run. If I am lucky she will offer to do my nails again, and you can bet there will be no hesitation from me.

Grandma.

Today I lost my Grandma. Actually nine of us did, and 10 more lost a Great Grandma. We each have our own memories. These are mine.

She was 91. I was lucky, I had her in my life for almost 45 years.grandma and grandpa

Grandma was always a part of a set: GrandmaandGrandpa. One’s name always went with the other. They were married nearly 70 years, and still living at home together until recently when Grandma became ill.

Grandma was a beautiful woman and a woman of great faith. She attended church every week, the same church her entire life. She married Grandpa in the same church as her mother, and both my mom and I were married there as well.

There is a story that a football landed right in her lap at a Green Bay Packer game. I believe she was at the Ice Bowl.

My earliest memories of Grandma are at their house on the farm. In the kitchen with it’s painted white cupboards, I would beg for cookies from the cookie jar, or a piece of red licorice from the shelf highest up.

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She always had the radio on, an old one that only played AM stations. It seemed to perpetually play Paul Harvey.

When I “helped” Grandpa with the cows, Grandma always put plastic bread bags over my shoes and secured them with rubber bands. That way I wouldn’t get manure on my shoes when I went out to the barn.

When mom and dad went on vacation, I always stayed with Grandma and Grandpa. They would take me to Ponderosa for dinner and if it was Saturday, we would watch Lawrence Welk.

Grandma and I often explored the attic or she would let me try on her sparkly clip on earrings. She often brought geraniums in the house in fall. Go ahead, break a branch of geranium and take a whiff. Every time I smell that smell, I think of her, probably because Grandpa and I had a record of hitting and breaking them with a stray ball thrown in the house.

More recently, my husband and children have gotten to know “Great” Grandma. Their memories are different, whether at Christmas or the family wiener roast, but plentiful. I am glad they all had the chance to receive her love and feel her hugs just like I did.

Goodbye Grandma. I am sure you are in Heaven watching over us.

Run!

gotr1

About a year and a half ago, my daughter asked if she could join our local chapter of Girls on the Run (GOTR).

What is Girls on the Run, you ask? GOTR is a fantastic organization, and if you haven’t heard of it, here is a quick down and dirty right from the website:  Girls on the Run® is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams. In other words, an awesome program that helps girls build character and confidence, culminating with running a 5K.

So, as I said, she asked me if she could join this great program.

My brain froze. “How is she going to do this with Type 1 Diabetes. I can’t run with her, how will I know she is ok? She’s only in the 4th grade, I can’t expect her to take care of this on her own.”

Then the voice of reason reminded me of something our endocrinologist always says, “What would you do in this situation if she didn’t have type 1? Whatever that answer is, that is what you should do.” I took a deep breath and realized that if it weren’t for type 1, I wouldn’t have hesitated. What gave me the final boost is that a friend who also has type 1 was a coach.

My daughter loved the feeling of freedom she gained from GOTR. She loved running. She loved being with her friends without me lurking in the background.

Fast forward a few weeks. My daughter asked me to be her running buddy for the 5K. My brain froze. “I don’t run. My daughter runs, I have friends who run. I don’t run.” My best friend (a runner) offered to run for me, but when I sat down and really thought about it, I reasoned with myself. “I should run with my daughter. What a great bonding experience. How hard can it be, I mean she’s only in 4th grade.”

We had a practice 5K. My daughter left me in the dust, but I was able to slowly jog about half of it and walked the rest. The real GOTR 5K was next, and I was so inspired by GOTR that half way through the run I committed to coach the next season. (The endorphins made me do it!)

Last fall I helped coach my daughter’s GOTR team, and what a great experience that was. We started as a group of girls and women who may or may not have known each other. We had some girls who had never run any distance before. We had girls who were shy or maybe had only a few friends. We had girls who had no confidence in their ability to run 3.1 miles. Over the ten weeks we became a group of friends. A group of girls and women who supported and cheered for one another. A group of girls who, no matter what age or grade they were, had something in common with one another.

Our fall practice run was on a crisp autumn afternoon. We had some veterans on the crew, some 4th or 5th graders who knew what to expect, but we also had girls who had never run as far as we were about to. We set off and what a sight to behold, girls who had just weeks before, never run more than across a playground, were completing their goal of running a 5K. One by one they crossed the finish line, breathing hard but with smiles on their faces. They had done it.

Days later, we completed the GOTR fall run, and those darn endorphins took over again. I volunteered to be the head coach for our GOTR chapter for the spring session.

Yep, you heard that right. By the time the race was over, I was convinced I had what it takes. I still couldn’t run an entire 5K, but somehow I felt moved to be a bigger part of this organization.

I never regretted that decision. It was a little bit of extra work, and a little bit of extra worry for all those girls, but what I got back was something so fulfilling. I felt like maybe I’ve made a difference in even one of those girls lives. I like to think that the support that I gave helped them in some way. And I hope that my involvement made my daughter proud.

I was my daughter’s running buddy again last Saturday, and again she left me in the dust. But you know what is cool? My son was inspired by all this running, and he entered the run too. He’s nine years old, but that day he was my support system, my running buddy. He kept me running, he kept himself running, and the three of us all reached our goal. We all were able to run the entire 5K without any walking, some of us slower than others, but we ran. I am so proud of both of my children, and I am proud of me.

Nevertheless, the time has come to hang up my coaching sneakers, as my daughter has come to the end of her GOTR career. I will always look back fondly to the miles I shared with her and all the girls on our team.

 

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