Tag: WPA

Why I ditched Michael Connelly

Mike Roche moderating a Q&A with the Michael Connelly at the 2014 WPA. Photo courtesy of Robin Templeton

Mike Roche moderating a Q&A with the Michael Connelly at the 2014 WPA. Photo courtesy of Robin Templeton

Yes, that Michael Connelly. He of Harry Bosch fame. The Lincoln Lawyer…yeah you know the guy. Mr. Connelly was the guest speaker at the 2014 Writer’s Police Academy and I was stoked to meet him. Was planning on carrying a couple of his books that I own with me to the Saturday night banquet and ask him to sign them.

Spent good money on a banquet ticket when I registered for the academy fully expecting to enjoy the crap out of the chicken dinner and gourmet dessert.

But something came up. Death in the family? That might be understandable, but no, everyone is still living and breathing. Wedding I was obligated to attend? Not to my knowledge. A virus that came on suddenly that I didn’t want to spread? Nah. It was an 11-year old’s text message that changed my plans.

Grandson Landon’s 11th birthday was September 3rd. Trying to plan his birthday party was like trying to plan a military operation. This friend could come if the party was Labor Day weekend but that friend couldn’t; that friend could come the next weekend, but those friends couldn’t. And the weekend after labor Day…was the Writer’s Police Academy so Grandma couldn’t be there. But—I told Nina to go with it. Plan it when his friends could be there, not his grandma. He is, after all, getting to that age where his school buddies are important to him.

So his party was set for Saturday afternoon with some swimming, a cookout, and laser tag. Just family and three or four of his friends. But anyone who reads my posts on a regular basis knows “just family” constitutes about 30 people. And that’s immediate family.

I hated I was going to miss it, but…Michael Connelly!

At registration Thursday night, I get a text from Landon thanking me for my gift. Sweet. I’m sitting there among friends and peers all talking about everything writing and I’m floating on cloud nine. When you spend twelve hours a day talking to toddlers, you welcome any adult conversation and to have that conversation centered around the writing business, it was pure heaven.

But I kept going back to Landon’s text. It would be the first party I would miss. Screenshot_2014-09-14-09-54-59 (2)

All day Friday during the classes and at the reception that evening, I mingled a little but I felt off my game. Couldn’t shake the feeling something just wasn’t right. I had a competition-winning book being released in two months by one of the major publishing houses and I barely mentioned it. I had postcards promoting the book—they’re still in my bag.

On the way home Friday night it dawned on me what the problem was. While there at the academy among my peers, I might have been where I was supposed to be—but my heart was where I needed to be. I decided then I’d skip out on the Saturday night banquet for hot dogs and birthday cake. One of the advantages of living thirty minutes away from the host hotel—I was never very far from home.

Whether I was at the banquet or not probably made little difference to Michael Connelly; but my presence at an 11-year old’s birthday party made a difference to me and Landon.

Photo courtesy of Shaw Photography Group

Photo courtesy of Shaw Photography Group

The proper way to kill people

On paper of course. In fiction. Like in a murder-mystery. Now that we’ve got that cleared up.

Crime shows like Castle, Bones, Blue Bloods, Southland, Hill Street Blues, and the list goes on and on…make up a good portion of most watched television. Why? Because they’re entertaining. Some aren’t entirely believable, but they are fun to watch. gmom is amazing and i love her very much – HA! – editorial comment inserted by granddaughter Ava. Back murder1to the story…mystery writers love crime/detective/police procedural shows and that’s great. As long as you’re just watching to enjoy and not using them for your research. If you are, it’s a lazy way of writing. Stop doing it right now.

There are way too many resources available to help with your research for you to write your mystery using a television show as a guide. Because most of the shows on television get it wrong. Sometimes with cringe-worthy results.

Many moons ago when I first turned in a manuscript for critique, I was scolded for having a flower bloom at the wrong time in the wrong place. The critique partner wasn’t being picky—she was being thorough. I was being lazy and picked some random flower that didn’t even grow in my settling. I lost a little bit of my butt and a lot of my credibility.

And as writers, we know what happens when a you lose credibility with a reader. They put the book down and will hesitate, if not refuse to, read your next one.

murder-mystery-partyLearn the difference between a revolver and semi-automatic. Learn the dynamics of what happens to a person when shot—no, they aren’t blown backwards like you’ve seen a thousand times on television. They drop straight to the ground. Learn terminology. Learn the legal system—no, you don’t have to study law but knowing when a warrant is needed and when it’s not is a good thing.

Two of my favorite resources are Crime Scene Writer Yahoo Group and the Writers Police Academy. The Crime Scene group is populated by experts in many fields and they’re more than willing to help with your questions. No matter how odd. Trust me. Murder-graphic-008

And as a side note, I’ll be presenting a program for my Sisters in Crime/Murder We Write chapter on writing crime fiction and getting “it” right Sunday, Nov. 17 from 2-4pm at the High Point Public Library. I’ll be discussing some of the resources available to help you get it right.



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