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Posts tagged ‘Fiction’

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?)
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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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Pitchwars 2016: #PimpMyBio

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

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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.

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  • 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.

Finished!

It has been a long time since I’ve been here.

Where have I been you may or may not be asking? Well, I have been raising my kids, working a little bit, and probably wasting a lot of time. It’s been five years in the making, but I am very proud to say one thing did get done:

I finished my first novel!

I’ve been celebrating for about a week, but have a feeling the tough part is ahead of me. First of all, no one else has read it yet.

Is it good you ask? Well of course it is, and my children are the smartest, best behaved, sweetest in the world. (I may be a little biased.) So now I have the hard part, submitting it to someone who knows what is a good book.

What do I do next? I need to have an editor look it over, write a summary, find an agent, etc.

Do I know what I am doing? Not really, but I am learning quickly! I’m not naïve enough to think my first book out the gate will be a winner, but I still have fantasies that it will be! No matter the outcome though, I am really proud of myself. I finished a novel which contains 50,000 words that are all mine, written in a document that tells a story that has never been told before. I’ve created people who I sometimes forget are fictional. I even slipped up once and shared an anecdote with my family, forgetting that the person in question was simply a figment of my imagination.

The more I write, the more writing is becoming part of me. I am finished with my first book, but have only begun my life as a writer.

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Chicken.

I am a chicken. I have piles of half written stories and novels, but I have never been able to finish one. I am pretty sure it is because I am a little scared to find out I might not actually be a good writer.  I don’t show people my stories because I am always fine-tuning my writing, and therefore it is never ready to show. Well that’s it! In my own personal multi-step program I am forcing myself to get out there and write.  This blog is the first step, and now today I am sharing a short story I have written as  well. Thanks for reading!

Yours and Mines

“Your fetus is not viable.”

 The physician continued on, “We should schedule a D & C as soon as possible…”

 Not viable?

 Rachel did not understand. The only thing she expected to hear was a fluttering heartbeat, not those incomprehensible words. She needed a point of reference for the phrase, ‘not viable.’ Rachel thought back to a research job she had in college. For just a moment she was back in the lab studying berry seeds, recording whether they were ‘viable’ or ‘not viable.’ In that moment she remembered ‘not viable’ meant the seeds were unable to grow.

 Unable to grow.

 “Oh my God,” were the words that ran through her head, but no words could escape her mouth. She looked at her husband James, and then at the ultrasound monitor. She began to shake, and then simply wept. James wrapped his arms around her, his eyes moist from both sadness and the knowledge that this was one time he could not protect her.

 A half an hour later, Rachel was dressed, back in the exam room. Quietly, James and the nurse scheduled the “procedure” to complete the miscarriage. There were forms to sign and pre- and post-procedure instructions to review. There were some pamphlets and telephone numbers for grief counseling. Rachel, unable to cope, sat curled in a chair.

 When the nurse was completed with her paperwork, she turned to Rachel and asked if should like to keep the ultrasound picture.

 “I don’t know.” Rachel whispered. James reached for it, “Sure, we’ll keep it. Thank you.”

 Rachel and James had both driven separately to the appointment with plans to return to work afterward. Instead of showing off her baby’s first picture to her co-workers, she drove home alone with her baby’s last picture sitting on the passenger seat.

 She tried her hardest to concentrate on the ride home, grasping at any thought to keep her mind off of the horror that she just experienced. She turned on the radio.

 Since you’ve been gone, all I’ve been is blue

I wish I would have said how much I love you

You left me all alone, before we got to know

The funny little ways that our love would grow

 The song was unfamiliar but spoke to her. As she listened, she couldn’t shake the incredible feeling that this song was sent to her by the child she had just lost.

 It’s as if I did not know you, never spoke your name

I miss you so completely; life will never be the same

 Grief overtook Rachel. She pulled the car over on a side street and wept for the loss of her child. She tried to comprehend why it happened.

 Where did you go, the dreams seem so real.

When did you leave, how did it feel?

 The weeks passed and Rachel often heard the song on the radio, and if the radio was not on, the song simply played in her head. Though the song was said to be about young love, Rachel thought only of the child she would never know.

 Sometimes I still feel you here, breathing next to me

Why do we always miss the love not meant to be?

 By midsummer, the radio stations stopped playing the song so frequently, and time was beginning to heal Rachel’s emotional wounds. By late autumn, she would have been lucky to catch the song on the radio. Rachel’s head began playing other songs as she made it beyond the lost baby’s due date.

 

Three years later, the sun was warm, the air was fresh. It was spring again. Rachel took a deep breath and smiled as she closed the back door of her SUV. She hopped in the front and put on her sunglasses. She turned the key and as the engine started, she once again heard the song.

 Since you’ve been gone, all I’ve been is blue

I wish I would have said how much I love you…

Rachel breathed deeply, almost a sigh, and for a moment her heart felt heavy. “Gosh, I haven’t heard this in a couple of years,” she thought. As she put the car in reverse a tiny voice came from the back of the car.

 “That’s yours and mines song Mommy.”

 Startled, Rachel said, “What did you say sweetie?”

 “That’s yours and mines song.”

 For a moment Rachel did not respond, and then tears welled in her eyes as she looked in the rear view mirror. “Yes sweetie, I guess it is. It really is. Let’s go home and see daddy.”

 I know someday I’ll find you, that our paths will cross

Then we’ll love each other once again, with never an anguished loss.

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