I’m attending the Writer’s Police Academy!

I’m all signed up for this year’s Writer’s Police Academy in North Carolina. I’m looking forward to flying across the country to learn how the East Coast handles crime. There will be police, fire, crime scene investigators and science experts. So much information and hands-on activities are planned.

I also get to meet two wonderful writers I haven’t had the chance to meet before, Lisa Gardner and Kathy Reichs. These are two of my favorite authors to read.

The Conference sold out in six days and the agenda hasn’t even been finalized yet. An amazing testament to the work they have done the past few years on this conference. This will be my first time attending and will blog about it for you while I’m there.


How I Would Re-Write the Manhunt

Yesterday, as the massive LAPD manhunt scoured the Southern California region for fired LAPD officer Chris Dorner, I realized this was an amazing story. I mentioned to several people that this would have been a great suspense or thriller novel. A disgruntled and dishonored veteran and ex-police officer releases a manifesto and attempts to clear his name by resorting to the only option left, a vengeful campaign against those that have wronged him. A city is on edge as the manhunt and the attacks escalate. It would have made a great novel.

But today, as the story continues to play out, I realize I would have made some creative detours.

For one, I would want the reader to connect with the bad guy. Running around and killing innocent people doesn’t make him likeable at all. And let’s be honest, here. Despite what I’ve read on social media from people defending his actions, he is attacking innocent people. The ex-captain’s daughter and fiancé that he killed on Sunday had no idea who he was. They had no direct impact on his life. The officers he shot had no personal grudge with him. They had never met him. Yet he made them targets. If he had truly gone after the people who had wronged him, he might get some sympathy or understanding from readers. In reality, he is seen by most as a homicidal mad man.

The ex-officer talks a lot about racism in the police department. This is actually no surprise to most people. But he loses creditability when he says is targeting all officers. Sure there are some officers that are bad, but just as many are good. Just as many knew the LAPD had a bad reputation and joined to try to make a change from the inside out. We shouldn’t judge someone by the color of their skin and we shouldn’t judge someone by the clothes they wear or the profession they choose. Again, his actions would lose most readers.

The mistaken identity situation where three innocent people were shot at by the LAPD is pure gold for suspense writing. It is sad and I am glad to hear no one was seriously injured. I’m sure the LAPD (and the tax payers) will have to pay dearly for the mistake. In a novel, the incident would be important to show the tenseness in the force as well as indicate the possibility that the ex-officer could be right about his corruption claims. Unfortunately, in real life, it just shows how worried the officers are for their own safety and how easily one mistake can further ruin the reputation of the department.

The search moving from coastal San Diego to the mountains of Big Bear are also a plus in a fiction novel. The disabled boat and the burned out truck could be great plotlines if these connected to his character in some way. If these events could be used to show his planning and cunningness, the reader might root for him. Unfortunately, it looks like the San Diego spotting was a failed attempt to flee the country. Still no word on the reason for torching his vehicle. If he ends up still in Big Bear, it was probably another mistake that only caused the police to move in faster.

Although this story is still unfolding, it probably won’t end well for the fired officer. Sources say much of what he claims in his manifesto isn’t accurate. We’ll have to wait for the media to dig in for the truth. And don’t fear. They will, because there is a very interesting story here.

 As for the ending I’d write?  I’d probably have him find the only cop willing to listen to him. After a week-long manhunt and trust growing between the ex-officer and the cop, he’d turn himself in as the cop agrees to look into the corruption, and with the media behind him bring down any guilty parties.

Again, the important part is that this would end with no loss of innocent lives.


*Remember: This is not fact or fiction. These are just my musings.


Check out the LA Times Festival of Books

On Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22, the USC campus will be transformed into a giant festival celebrating books of all genres. There will be 8 stages with readings, performances, and demonstrations throughout the weekend. Below are a few of the stage performances expected on Saturday.

To see the entire schedule visit http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/program-schedule/.

Los Angeles Times Stage


12:10 pm

Ricki Lake, author of “Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits”




1:20 pm

Tori Spelling, author of “Celebratori: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner to Entertain Friends and Family”



2:30 pm

John Cusack discusses Relativity Media’s “The Raven”




3:40 pm

Marilu Henner, author of “Total Memory M

akeover: Uncover Your Past, Take Charge of Your Future”



4:50 pm

Sugar Ray Leonard, author of “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring,” interviewed by Randy Harvey

Target Children’s Stage

10:00 am

Roger Day, Why Does Gray M

Musical Act



10:35 am

Marc Brown, If All the Animals Came Inside




10:55 am

Eric Litwin & James Dean, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons



11:15 am

Philip & Erin Stead, A Sick Day for Amos McGee




11:40 am

José-Luis Orozco, Caramba Kids

Musical Act



12:15 pm

Michael Buckley, The Sisters Grimm Series




12:35 pm

David Shannon, How Georgie Radburn Saved Baseball



12:55 pm

Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

Cooking Stage

  11:00 am

   Michael Voltaggio, author of “VOLT ink,” Gives a Cooking     Demonstration



12:30 pm

Gail Simmons, author of “Talking with My Mouth Full,” Gives a Cooking Demonstration




2:00 pm

Nancy Silverton, author of “The Mozza Cookbook” and Michael Voltaggio, author of “VOLT ink” Discuss the LA Food Scene, interviewed by Betty Hallock



3:30 pm

Anne Burrell, author of “Cook like a Rock Star” Gives a Cooking Demonstration

Etc. Stage

  11:00 am 

   Three-minute stories read by various artists



12:00 pm

Hangdog Expression
Musical Performance




1:00 pm

Fresh From Figment: Top Comic Actors Read from Young Writers’ Works Featuring Michael Ian Black, Michael Hitchcock , Nick Kroll, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Andrea Savage, Martin Starr & Michaela Watkins

Booksigning - LA Times Festival of Books

Crime Author, Melissa M. Garcia will be signing her novels, FALLING ANGELS and STRANGER: A DEATH VALLEY MYSTERY at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 21.

Melissa will be at the Sisters in Crime Booth #373 from 10:00am to Noon on Saturday at the USC Campus in Los Angeles. Both novels will be on sale (25% off list price) during that time only.

The Festival is free all weekend  with numerous writing sessions, entertainment stages, and booths to visit. Parking is only $10. A great event for all ages!

The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books will be held at:
University of Southern California. Click here for map.

 For more information on the the Festival visit http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. -Mark Twain

Mark Twain was born 176 years ago today. He died in 1910, long before I was born. Yet his writings live on and have inspired many. Including myself. I still remember reading the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a child. The imagination, the adventure, the excitement in one book. I read it again in high school as a class requirement and found the story more meaningful, and followed closely the themes of freedom and morality. The numerous controversies surrounding the novel made it so much more exciting. 

The novel made me interested in Mark Twain’s writings, and I read anything I could get my hands on. It also made me start writing myself. I’m always searching for the same excitement and meaning that Mark Twain produced, seemingly effortlessly, in his novels and short stories. 

I plan to re-read Huck Finn this winter as well as his biography. The man was so interesting and left us with some great words. (Also, check out the Google page today in honor of Mark Twain.)