Monday, July 30, 2012


  Lee Lofland is the author of the Writers Digest bestselling book Police Procedure and Investigation, a Macavity Award nominee for best non-fiction mystery. As an expert, Lee has appeared on national television, BBC television, and on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. His articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, newsletters, blogs, and in magazines such as The Writer. 

The Writers’ Police Academy, an exciting, hands-on event where writers train at an actual police academy, is Lee’s creation. He currently serves as director and host. Welcome to Book Blather, Lee.

Marilee, thanks so much for giving me this wonderful opportunity to spread the word about the Writers’ Police Academy, one of the most exciting and fun events a writer could ever attend.

First of all, I’d like for everyone to know the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) is not a typical writers conference. We don’t do author or agent panels. Nor do we do the typical breakout sessions where agents, bestselling authors, and even local cops stand in front of a hotel meeting room to talk shop. Instead, the WPA is all about learning the behind-the-scenes details about police procedure, forensics, firefighting, crime scene investigation, and EMS, and having a ton of fun while you’re doing it. And the best part is that the WPA takes place in an actual police, fire, and EMS training academy.

The idea for the Writers' Police Academy first came to me while attending Sisters in Crime's Forensic University in St. Louis. And, as a speaker I'd attended numerous writers’ conferences all over the country, where I also took advantage of sitting in on police officer-type workshops. I always learn something new everywhere I go. Anyway, while at those events I realized that each presentation, no matter how good, was missing something.

Sure, the material presented was excellent, and the slides were always informative, but the information was delivered in only two dimensions. There were no concepts of depth, touch, smell, or emotion. And seeing a picture of a crime scene, no matter how graphic, well, it's just not the same as getting your hands dirty with fingerprint powder, smelling the real odors associated with a murder scene, shooting guns, feeling the recoil and seeing the suspect fall as the round hits, wearing a Kevlar vest, handcuffing a suspect, driving police cars and fire trucks, etc. Yes, that’s what writers were missing, the third dimension and beyond! After all, writers are supposed to excite the senses of their readers, and how could they expect to write something they’ve never experienced personally?

So, that's what I put together in Ohio back in 2009—a hands-on event—, and man has it ever grown. In fact, it’s so large we moved the event to an actual police academy that’s located on the Campus of Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) in Jamestown, N.C. There, we have access to a driving track, an on-site working fire station, a burn building, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, firearms, and, well, if it’s public safety-related, we’ve got it, and it’s available to our writers/recruits.

The WPA is absolutely huge. In fact, when the tour buses carrying our recruits first round the corner and everyone sees facilities and all the police, CSI, and other emergency vehicles and equipment for the first time, well, it's a sight to behold.

You know, I sometimes hear the remark, “I don’t need to go to the WPA because I’ve already attended my local citizen’s police academy.” Well, I definitely encourage every writer to attend anything offered by their local police department, especially when you have the opportunity to learn the basics of police work, tag along on a fun ride-a-long, and maybe even fire a handgun or two. However, the Writers’ Police Academy is NOT a watered down citizens police academy. Instead, our event is the real deal. A one of a kind event, featuring real police, fire, forensics, and EMS training, using authentic equipment, at an actual police academy with classes and workshops taught by active-duty police academy instructors, officers, and top well-known experts from around the country. We offer the same “behind-the-scenes” instruction taught to seasoned investigators, officers, and others in the field. Believe me, there is nothing else like the WPA anywhere in the world. The only thing you can’t do at the WPA is to see and do it all in a single weekend. But the best part about the whole thing is that it’s extremely fun. It’s Disneyland for writers!

Here’s what you can expect at the 2012 Writers’ Police Academy:

Top instructors and experts for the 2012 WPA include Marcia Clark (former OJ Simpson prosecutor), experts from Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories, world-renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray, author Kathy Harris (marketing manager for the Oak Ridge Boys), ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan, NYPD Detective Marco Conelli, cold case and bloodstain pattern expert Dave Pauly, Author/Detective Lee Lofland, bioterrorism and DNA expert Dr. Denene Lofland, author and forensic psychology expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland, GTCC police academy instructors, and literally dozens of active duty police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers.

Workshops include (and there are many more other than the ones listed here):
- Interview and Interrogation
- Cold Case Investigations
- Special guest speakers
- Firearms
- Bloodstain pattern investigations
- K-9′s
- Dive teams
- Arson investigation
- Federal agents
- Undercover officers and UC investigations
- Bioterrorism and DNA
- Gangs
- Firefighting
- Treating gunshot victims
- First responders
- FATS training (firearms)
- Driving simulator
- Arrest techniques and Handcuffing
- Defensive tactics and self defense for women
- Women in law enforcement
- Jail tours
- Polygraph
- Responding domestic violence calls - role play (onsite scenario rooms include a residence, store, etc.
- Suicides and Hangings
- Shallow grave investigations
- Explosive and bomb squad
-Jail searches - we have fully-equipped onsite jail cells
- Underwater evidence recovery (we have an onsite pool!)
- Onsite working fire station includes hands-on tours and equipment demos
- tons of police equipment and dozens of vehicles for demos and for your up-close inspection, including helicopter, command posts, patrol vehicles, bomb disposal trucks, firefighting vehicles and equipment, SWAT vehicles and equipment, motorcycles, sniper equipment, riot gear, armored vehicles, and much, much more.

And police ride-a-longs with local police and sheriff’s deputies (by lottery)!

Literary agents from the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency will be on hand to take pitches!

Our 2012 Keynote speaker is international bestselling author Lee Child.

And much, much more, including a special surprise guest!

Here’s a link to photos from the 20111 WPA (it’s my website, The Graveyard Shift)

For additional details about the 2012 WPA, please visit us at

Lee’s next release is a true crime story in an anthology called Masters Of True Crime: Chilling Stories Of Murder And The Macabre. The book is scheduled for release in July 2012 by Promethus Books (already available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble). His current project is a thriller set in Coastal Georgia.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Brad Cotton's Work in Progress

A Unique Lit Fiction Novel with Moving Dialogue!

A Work in Progress is a new literary fiction novel by author Brad Cotton. The book has received great reviews and is on sale from July 23rd to August 3rd! Download your copy here.

In addition, Brad is doing a big giveaway, including a $100 gift certificate to Amazon and signed copies of his book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tweet, like, follow, share, blog and grab a copy of his book to enter.

Get your copy of A Work in Progress today! On sale on Amazon only.

About A Work in Progress

Writer Danny Bayle’s life is in shambles. His true love has left him and his grandfather — the last and most important influence in his life — has just passed away. Danny has spent the last few months languishing, unable to write a single word, but at the urging of a friend ventures out into the world in an attempt to jumpstart a new life, befriending in the process an interesting assortment of characters including an author, a musician, an artist, and an elderly retired nurse. Garnering the attention of more than one woman, Danny sees his new friends unwittingly begin to shape what could just be the story of his life. But will he ever let go of the girl that got away?

About the author

Born and raised in Toronto, Brad Cotton has been writing professionally for over a decade. An average guitarist, a subpar painter, and a horrible juggler of anything larger than a tangerine, he is currently married to a woman, but does not have a cat, a drum set or any children. A Work in Progress is his first novel.

Learn more about the author and his work at:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Husband and Wife Writing Team

Mike and Cynthia Arsuaga are the first husband-wife writing team featured on Book Blather. Each has written solo books but, in the process, they’ve discovered they enjoy collaborating. Welcome, Mike and Cynthia.

How we select topics and began working together:

We discovered we were each other’s best editors. Each of us had expressed a desire to write a story about shifters. While kicking around ideas for animals a shape shifter could turn into, besides the usual wolves, bears, and big cats, our Yorkshire terrier pranced into the room. A light went off simultaneously. It was an "Eureka" moment. Together, we banged out a rough plot for Top Dog. Cynthia wrote the prologue. I completed the draft. She edited and inserted her own touches, to the book's benefit. The rest is history. We’re currently working on the sequel. Cynthia will write the love scenes when she edits.

How Mike Selects Topics:

I sort of fell into the Subspecies series. I wrote a short story titled "The Girl in the Library" for an informal contest on a writer's review site. A male vampire stalks a winsome red-haired young woman, conflicted as to how much he did it for sex and for prey. The hook is that she's a lycan, stalking him as he did her. The story went over very well. Encouraged by the comments I received, I turned it into the novel Subspecies. In the process of creating the world of subspecies, the other four books wrote themselves. I discarded many of the standard vampire/lycan legends in an attempt to create a world where subspecies could plausibly exist, as a mutation within humanity. Until the present century, never more than 600 of each type have ever lived at one time. They’re physically strong but not superhuman and live 250 years. With these limitations, and a few more to round out the scenario, they live unobtrusively among mankind for two thousand years until The Girl in the Library changes everything.

How Cynthia Selects Topics: 

I began my writing after helping Mike with Subspecies. I’m a retired business owner and quite frankly had nothing to do. Mike’s story expanded and I helped him format and edit in order to submit to publishers. I had my own ideas and began to write. My first manuscript was accepted on the first try, which shocked me. The rest is history. I have five full-length books and one novella and one short story under contract. Many more are under Works in Progress. My ideas come to me out of nowhere. I never thought I’d write about vampires, but my daughter introduced me to her library of paranormal books and I was hooked. I couldn’t get thrilled by the ages of the heroines–young, virginal, and experienced in sex. Didn’t make sense to me, so with Mike’s encouragement I began to write and six months later I had The Cougar and Her Vampire complete and ready to submit. Before I completed it, I had another idea for another world of vampires and Born to Be Wild materialized as I drove home after dropping my daughter off to get her car out of the auto shop. A bright, sunny day in Central Florida and the music playing on the radio had my mind buzzing. I wrote the entire book in about three months!
I have since created two totally different vampire worlds and each is a series, Born Vampire and Forces of Beauty. The Born Vampire series is edgier, dark, and as some reviewers have suggested not for the faint of heart. The other series is edgy, but I think more palatable.

 Mike and Cynthia welcome visitors to their websites. and


Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Rosetta Stone Moment

We recently travelled to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle to take in the King Tut exhibit. Truth time. Until now, the name King Tut always brought to mind the image of Steve Martin’s goofy Egyptian dance as he sang, “He coulda won a Grammy, Buried in his jammies. King Tut.” Yes, my education in the field of Egyptology was sadly lacking.  
Needless to say, the exhibit was fabulous. Listening to an audio narration by Harrison Ford, we strolled through room after room filled with priceless, jewels, golden masks and even an alabaster toilet seat.
 But, my jaw-dropping moment had nothing to do with the riches unearthed in King Tut’s tomb. In fact, I almost missed it. One of the displays featured the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. This unimpressive-looking hunk of rock was the key to deciphering the ancient Egyptian history etched in stone. In 1822, Jean-Francoise Champollion, using his knowledge of Greek, demotic and hieroglyphics, brought to life the words written over 3000 years ago. That which had been a mystery became crystal clear.
I’m not sure why this impressed me so greatly. Maybe it’s because I had my own Rosetta Stone moment. I’d almost given up my dream of publication. I’d written a couple of books and had a file folder crammed with rejection slips. My family, though supportive, tried to soften the blow with comments like, “Did you know 99% of the books submitted to publishers are rejected?”
Yeah, I did. Then, I received one more rejection slip, but this one was different. The editor said, “I love your voice but you’re writing in the wrong genre. Write a young adult book. Now.”

 Suddenly, all that had been blurry, mysterious and out of reach became crystal clear. I took her advice and started down a new path. I wrote Moonstone, the first in the five book YA fantasy series published by Bell Bridge Books.

I believe every one of us have Rosetta Stone moments in our lives. I would love to hear about all of yours. Who knows? Maybe I’ll write a book about them some day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mauli the Muse

According to the dictionary, a muse is a guiding spirit, one who inspires an artist or writer. Most of you know I dubbed our Labrador Retriever, Mauli the Muse, simply because she parked her big hairy self directly behind my office chair while I wrote six books. It was easier to keep on writing than to get her to move. She even had her own byline in my newsletter, News from the Muse.

Sadly, Mauli has crossed the Rainbow Bridge where, I trust, she will be waiting for us someday. (If not, I plan to cancel my reservations) A week has passed since her unexpected death. We miss her terribly but know the pain will pass and we’ll be left with eleven years of wonderful memories. Joyful rolling on the beach. Licking the very last morsel from an empty peanut butter jar. The dog wedding!

Can I write without my muse? Yes. Remember, a muse is a guiding spirit and her spirit is still with me along with the tufts of black fur remaining in my office. 

 My sister said it best. “No dog ever had a better life.” That statement has comforted me beyond belief. To that I would add, “No family ever had a better dog.”

Rest in peace, Mauli the Muse.

Friday, July 6, 2012

More Recipes from Chef Jean

Once again, I’m delighted to introduce you to my longtime friend, cookbook author, Chef Jean Denham. While I’m spinning fictional tales set in worlds of my own making, Jean’s books are more on the practical side. Keep reading for some wonderful ways to fill your tummy. For more information about Jean and her books, please visit her website at Welcome back to Book Blather, Chef Jean. 

* Exported from MasterCook *


These little goodies are wonderful with a glass of wine, coffee/tea or hot chocolate.

     1/2          cup  butter or margarine
     1/2          cup  shortening
     1/2          tsp.  baking soda
  2 1/2          cups  powdered (confectioners) sugar
  2 1/2          cups  flour
     1/4          tsp.  salt
  2                eggs
  1                cup white chocolate chips
  1                cup  chopped ROASTED macadamia nuts.

Combine dry ingredients, except the chips and nuts. Mix butter, shortening and eggs until smooth. Combine with dry ingredients, mixing well. Add chips and nuts.

Drop 1 heaping teaspoon of mix on ungreased cookie sheet, placing each portion 2 inches apart. Preheat oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 10- 12 minutes.


  1       pkg  cream cheese -- (8 oz)
  1       cup  mango chutney
  2       tablespoons  crisp bacon bits

Place block of cream cheese on serving dish or board. Spoon chutney over cheese. Top with bacon. Serve with crisp crackers. Makes 12 appetizer servings.


                   CHICKEN SALAD WRAP

  2               cups  chopped cooked chicken
  3               medium  green onions -- chopped (3 tablespoons)
     1/4         cup  chopped walnuts
     1/2         cup  creamy poppy seed dressing
     1/2         cup  cream cheese spread (from 8-ounce container)
  2               flour tortillas (10 inches in diameter)
  6               leaves Bibb lettuce
     1/2         cup  finely chopped strawberries

Mix chicken, onions and walnuts in food processor bowl. Cover and process by using quick on-and-off motions until finely chopped. Add 1/3 cup of the poppy seed dressing; process only until mixed. Mix remaining dressing and the cream cheese spread in small bowl with spoon until smooth.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over entire surface of tortillas. Remove white rib from lettuce leaves. Press lettuce into cream cheese, tearing to fit and leaving top 2 inches of tortillas uncovered. Spread chicken mixture over lettuce. Sprinkle strawberries over chicken.

Firmly roll up tortillas, beginning at bottom. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Trim ends of each roll. Cut rolls into 1/2- to 3/4-inch slices.


Who knew buttermilk would make such a wonderful flavor addition to French toast – we all thoroughly enjoyed this brunch.

1/2                cup  buttermilk
     1/2           cup  milk
  5                 eggs
  1                 T.  granulated sugar
  2                 T.  all-purpose flour
     1/8           tsp.  baking powder
     1/8           tsp.  salt
  1                 Pinch  nutmeg
  1                 tsp.  vanilla (or rum -- Bailey's, Cointreau, Frangelico, Chambord, Crème de Cassis, Grand Marnier, etc.)
10 slices  day old bread preferably cut 1-inch thick; enough to cover bottom of dish in one layer
Toasted chopped walnuts

Combine the batter ingredients together and set aside.  In a well greased 9X13-inch baking dish, layer the slices of bread and sprinkle the walnuts over top.  Pour batter over; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove the plastic wrap and bake at 375°F. until puffy, brown and done.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Makes a Great Wine Great?

Once again, I'd like to welcome Durella DeGrasse, my long-time friend and certified wine professional, to Book Blather. If, like me, you're a certified wine idiot (think Two Buck Chuck) you'll enjoy the following article.

Those of us who drink wine on a daily basis (it's part of my job...I'm doing research!) don't think too much about the five elements of a "great wine" but rather just want to enjoy a glass or two of wine while making dinner and to enjoy with the meal. But every now and then, maybe when we've read about a special wine and we find it at the wine shop, or when dining at a restaurant that offers a distinctive selection of wine, we might want to take a moment to analyze that wine we purchase. Here is my guide for what makes great wine great:
    Distinct varietal character: Each variety of grapes presents itself in a unique way. When a young wine that has been made from a single variety of grape presents its inherent grape aromas and flavors in a straightforward, clear, and focused way, it is said to have varietal character.
    Integration: All components of a wine (acid, tannin, alcohol, fruit, sugar) are so impeccably interwoven that no one characteristic or component stands out.
    Expressiveness: The quality a wine possesses when its aromas and flavors are well-defined and clearly projected.
    Complexity: Not a thing but a phenomenon. A force that pulls you into a wine and impels you to repeatedly return for another smell and sip because each time you do, you find something new.
    Connectedness: The most elusive of these concepts and the most difficult to ascertain. It is the sense you get from the wine's aromas and flavor that it could not have come from just anywhere but rather is the embodiment of a single piece of earth. Connectedness is the bond between a wine and the plot of land it was born in.
I don't think spending $75 for a bottle of wine is a guarantee of a great wine. I've had some great wines for under $20. Continue to read about wine, to visit your local wineries/wine shops and to enjoy wine!

Durella DeGrasse
Certified Wine Professional