Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cleveland Really Does Rock!

Here are some scenes from my recent visit to Cleveland, where I attended Bouchercon with too many famous writers to even begin counting. I had to pull Lee Child aside and tell him to stop stalking me, that if he wanted an autograph all he had to do was ask. Jeez.

Of course this is my fevered imagination, fueled by the scrumptious creation to the right -- a chocolate martini from The Chocolate Bar.  New York Times best-selling author C. J. Lyons bought it for me. I owe her one. Eventually. Once I make the NYT-bestseller list. Until then, I'm gonna go buy some of her books because they sound awesome, and because buying them helps her change the world. Seriously. Go see how you can enjoy a great read and help save lives here.

Downtown Cleveland Lights up on Fifth Street

Guitar Art at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Monument to Ohio's Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War

Another view of the monument, which contains a museum below it, and Freedom with her sword atop it.

Sunset from The Chocolate Bar

For those of us in the South, this is what autumn in October looks like for most of the rest of the country.

I think this is a statue of Mr. Cleveland. You know, the guy who . . . well, of course you can figure that one out. Sorry to be pedantic.

Cleveland also rises.

Flowers in bloom in the same park where The Avengers was filmed. So if those blossoms look familiar, that's because you saw Loki stomping all over them. They're much nicer now, once he got finished with his demi-god temper tantrum.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Writers' Police Academy Strikes Again!

How was my weekend at 2012 Writers' Police Academy? My final official report includes details on my Building Searches workshop and Police Gunfighting class, research into outlaw motorcycle gangs and undercover work and forensic identification, chance meetings with both Lee Child (very tall) and Marcia Clark (very smart), and yet another showdown in the Firearm Training Simulator between me and several villains (this time I took down two bad guys -- a switchblade-brandishing husband killer and an ax-wielding meth-head -- with no damage to innocent bystanders).

In short, EXCELLENT! But let's turn to the photographic evidence:

Ah, there's nothing like the smell of mystery writers in the morning.
A well-deserved Krispy Kreme break during my workshop on suicide and hanging investigations (what did you think a bunch of cops and writers would eat, granola bars?)
Then a little pretend bang-bang after lunch with ATF Agent Rick McMahon. Don't worry -- the gun's unloaded. Despite how things look, Agent McMahon isn't running for his life, he's just . . . walking very quickly and urgently away from me.

Meet the first guy they send out to get the explosives. Imagine if you crossed Wall-E with a SWAT team. He's controlled by an officer in the Hazardous Devices Van (look in the background to see that) and has a delicate touch (you would too if your job was picking up pipe bombs and unexploded grenades).

Just in case, though, they insisted I put on a bomb suit. Insisted, I tell you.

There. I feel much safer now. So does the free world.
See this ginormous backpack? This is an ER in a bag. It's carried by SWAT team EMTs when they charge into bullets and smoke to save not only civilians, but law enforcement officers injured on the scene. You want a tough job? Try hitting a vein when someone's shooting at you.

Forget all those mood-lit lab rooms you see on CSI: Wherever -- this is the nuts and bolts of crime scene investigation. Yardsticks and Super Glue, and above all, serious smarts.

So you wanna be a sniper? Meet your equipment, including a Heckler and Koch rifle (the black one there). I'm kinda in love with H&K firearms (so is my guy protagonist) and being up close to one made my heart go pitty-pat.

This is Lt. Randy Shepard. He led our class on a Building Search workshop through an unoccupied condominium complex. I'd tell you all about it, but then, Lt. Randy would have to kill you. Or me. Probably both. So I'm not chancing it. Here he is trying to give a nice informational talk on snipercraft when all of a sudden . . .
BANG-BANG-BANG! A felon on the run makes a tire-squealing turn into the parking lot, with several officers in hot pursuit, including the K-9 unit. Things end badly. Very badly.

For the felon anyway (she said she wasn't going back to prison. And she's not).
Good boy get bad guy. Good Mikey. Good dog. Here's your ball (Mikey proceeds to fluff ball in seventy seconds). He's a sweet dog. Speaks Dutch (since he's from the Netherlands) but you wouldn't want him apprehending you. So stay out of trouble, okay?