Tag Archives: police

One True Thing

In every one of my novels–whether they are mysteries, fantasy, literary, or young adult—I draw upon reality. This may be in the form of location, items in a scene, laws, or investigative procedure.

In Attack on Freedom, my upcoming thriller, some of the reality that I inject into the story utilizes history and historic objects. One such object is the presidential desk known as the Resolute Desk that is currently in the Oval Office. This double pedestal, partner’s desk was commissioned by Queen Victoria and made from the oak timbers of the HMS Resolute, an Arctic exploration ship that was rescued by an American ship. After getting the ship safely to dock, it was returned to England as a gesture of goodwill and friendship during a time of tension between England and America.

After being returned, the British ship remained in service for an additional 23 years at which time it was decommissioned and salvaged. Queen Victoria commissioned William Evenden at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, England to use the best oak timbers from the ship to design and build what would become known as the Resolute Desk. In 1880, Queen Victoria sent the desk to President Rutherford B. Hayes as a gesture of goodwill between the two countries. The original design did not include the front panel. President Franklin Roosevelt had the front hinged panel designed as a way to hide his leg braces from view. Roosevelt did not live to see the panel installed. It was installed in 1945 under the direction of President Truman, who liked the eagle motif.

The Presidential Seal on the front panel shows the eagle with its head turned to the left toward the arrows of war. This positioning of the eagle’s head toward the 13 arrows is only found on three of the ninety-seven Presidential Seals in the White House. President Truman re-designed the Presidential Seal to have the eagle’s head turned to the right toward the olive branch that has 13 leaves. The now-official seal is the one designed by President Truman.

February 4, 1961, Jackie Kennedy discovered the Resolute Desk in the broadcast room of the White House. She had it brought to the Oval Office for the first time to honor President John F. Kennedy’s love of the sea and love of naval history.

After President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, President Johnson had a larger, plainer desk built for his use to accommodate his size. At that time, he allowed the Resolute Desk to go on a traveling exhibition with Kennedy’s Presidential Library. After the exhibition ended, the desk was displayed at the Smithsonian Institution. This was the only time the Resolute Desk was removed from the White House.

President Jimmy Carter brought the Resolute Desk back to the Oval Office in 1977. He used it from 1977 through 1981. Not every president wanted to use the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. The presidents who did use the desk in the Oval Office were: President Ronald Reagan from 1981 through 1989; President Bill Clinton 1993 through 2001; President George W. #Bush from 2001 through 2009. President Barack #Obama has used the Resolute Desk since arriving in the White House in 2009.

President Obama found himself in the middle of controversy when he was photographed with his feet up on the Resolute Desk while having a discussion. Some people railed that he was disrespectful and immature. What they seemed to forget, or perhaps never knew, was that President George W. Bush also propped his feet up on the Resolute Desk while having various discussions. President John F. Kennedy’s children often played beneath the Resolute Desk, opening the front panel as if they hid inside a fort.

obamafeetgwbushfeetdesk

It is interesting to note that President Bush has his feet propped up and pointing to the right while President Obama has his feet propped up and pointed to the left. I wonder if it is due to President Obama being left-handed and President Bush being right-handed?

What these men recognized was very simple: Though a beautiful piece of furniture with historic significance, the Resolute Desk still remains a piece of furniture. It was built to be used; not to be honored. Showing respect during our interactions with other people, with animals, and with our environment is much more important than worrying about someone putting their feet up on a desk during a hard day at the office.

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To purchase my books go to: https://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK
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#NewYear–New Challenges

this-moment
January 1, 2017—the birth of a new year. Each year is an opportunity to live up to our aspirations, our hopes, our dreams. Looking back on the past year we can evaluate what did we do right; what did we do wrong; what can we improve upon?
It’s not a time to judge; but a time to contemplate. It’s not a time to regret; but a time to plan.
All of us face many challenges in this coming year—personal, political, business. In order to be effective, we need to focus and to strategize.
For me, I will be attending to the political climate much more closely than in past years. (To find out more: https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan )It’s not to say that I ignored the bones of our country before, but I impacted it more with my work than with my direct involvement. I truly thought my days of protests, marches, and petitions had been passed to the younger generation; and they were doing fairly well with it. I can no longer absent myself from more direct involvement; however that might manifest.
My novels will continue to reflect the issues that women and girls face on a daily basis while entertaining women with great stories of action, adventure, and mystery with a touch of romance. In some ways, my politics intersect with my writing seamlessly as both are based on enlightening, encouraging, and empowering women and girls. I have spent a lifetime in this struggle; and, it’s a good struggle—one of which I am proud.
The schedule for publishing this year is a bit more lax; instead of putting out four books as I have done for the past few years, I will be releasing three books during 2017.
–The first book will be Attack! I have re-titled this book and it is now Attack on Freedom! In many ways, this is a timely novel; a political thriller with a scary premise—a president that intends to become a dictator.
President Anne Marie Xavier faces the most critical challenge of any president since the beginning of the nation. She must stop rampant terrorism while protecting the citizens from a power-hungry adversary who will stop at nothing.
–The second book is the long awaited Ariel Ascending, Book 3, Vampire War trilogy, the final book in this series.
Serena Longer must take the murdered Matriarch Belora’s position as the Matriarch of the North America Region while her daughter, not-quite-13-year-old Ariel, has to ascend to the position of First Councilwoman of the North America Region. Not since the Time of Hunting has such a young huvam held such a difficult position among the vampires.
While Ariel attempts to adjust to her exponentially growing Powers and deal with Serena’s overprotectiveness of her only biological child, Matriarch Helena Outerridge increases her guerilla attacks on Ariel’s People.
As bodies pile up, Ariel becomes increasingly determined to stop the aggressors—ancient vampires with incredible Power and their allies, Weres and witches. In a desperate attempt to crush her foes, Ariel takes four other young women with developing Powers to search for the perpetrators. Unless they find a way to overcome their enemies, they may not survive to return home.
–The third book on my 2017 schedule is Twisted Minds, Special Crimes Team series. This is the sixth book in this series—all books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read in any order or as stand-alones
Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team face a series of rapidly escalating crimes that begin with the vandalism of a Muslim women’s center. At the scene of each crime a Manifesto is left. Other than the Manifesto and the obvious signs of hate, the victims of the crimes appear to be randomly chosen.
Was this the work of a hate group or a single perpetrator? As the victim pool ripples larger, Sergeant Slowater and her team desperately race time before more victims are claimed.
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No one can tell the future. Though we may carefully plan our days, we cannot control all of the variables and will often wind up in places we never dreamed of being. As I face this year, I find that both scary and exhilarating.
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During this time of upheaval and change—both good and bad and neither–we are all presented with the opportunity to become more than what we are; to step beyond our own limitations; to be the person we’ve always wanted to become. I’m ready to learn and grow. Are you?
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it is the going ahead in the face of fear. Whether you fears are of the personal, political, or business variety, forge ahead. You can’t start a fire, if you don’t light a match.
Best wishes for a year of growth.
Aya

My literary novels focus on personal growth.
Good Intentions: Bev Ransom has a secret. Her mother has one too. No secret can remain in the dark forever. Their lives are about to be shattered by the secrets they harbor.
https://www.amazon.com/Good-Intentions-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00OLZYKPQ

Hard Road Home: The Story of a Young Girl’s Triumph: Cas Redner lost her beloved grandfather. Shortly afterwards, she lost her mother to addiction and bad men. Caught in the broken child welfare system, Cas opts for life on her own. But for young girls, freedom comes with a high price. Ultimately, the only things holding Cas together are the teachings of her Native American grandmother.
https://www.amazon.com/Hard-Road-Home-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00TLCRUFQ

Beyond the Silence: A Woman’s Journey to Freedom: In order to find herself, Barb Hensen must sacrifice everything in her life, including her child. But, she doesn’t have much choice. If she doesn’t leave, someone will die.
https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Silence-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B01ADRQ0K8

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#FREE #EBOOK FOR YOU!

Dear Reader,
Halloween is here! Time for a heart-stopping mystery. To download your FREE ebook:
deadMenCover june 2014 (5)
1.Go to: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/269625 (Book page for Dead Men and Cats, a novella)
2.Choose “Buy”
3.When the Shopping Cart page comes up: Go to “Price”. It should read: $0.99 USD. Right below it should be a box with “Coupon Code” next to it. Enter UH42Z
4.On the right side, it will have a box that says “apply coupon”. Click on this box.
5.The “Total” should now read $0.00
6.Click on the yellow “Checkout” button.
7.At the top will be a greenish banner that says “Checkout Complete”
8.Go to yellow box on right side that says “View Purchases in Library”
9.It will send you to a page which is your library of Smashwords purchases. Scroll down to Beyond the Silence. Hit the green “Download” button
10.Go to the box that says “Download full versions of this book” and choose which format works best on your device (ie: epub for NOOK, mobi for Kindle, or pdf. There are some other choices, as well; pick the one best for your device)
11.Once it downloads to your computer you can then load it on your ereader device. Or if you own a tablet reader, you can download by using the tablet to access the Smashwords site.
12.If these instructions fail, or if you need assistance, please contact ayawalksfar@gmail.com.
13.Enjoy the read!
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For those of you subscribed to my newsletter (Sign up with your email now!) this is one of the few times during the year when you will receive two notifications from me: one for this blog and one for your free short story in the newsletter. Enjoy!

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Scarier than #Halloween and Zombies!

Not all horror involves zombies and the undead. When you pick up one of my mysteries you will embark upon a journey that will horrify, terrify, and, ultimately, uplift you.

  1. Sketch of a Murder: When the legal system fails women and children, The Avenger dispenses a unique brand of justice. Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must stop the Avenger before an innocent man dies!
    In the real world, true horror occurs every day with the failure of our legal system to protect children from sexual abuse; and the failure of that same legal system to provide justice to women who have been sexually assaulted. All too frequently what happens is the child is told to stop telling lies and the women are interrogated as if they committed a crime by being assaulted.
    https://www.amazon.com/Sketch-Murder-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KU6AIPQ

  2. Street Harvest: A group of dedicated people frantically search for human traffickers targeting street kids in this fast-paced novel.
    In the real world
    of our modern-day United States, a child goes missing every 40 SECONDS! As a transient population, street kids are at the highest risk to go missing and become a victim of human trafficking. And, LGBTQ youth are particularly at-risk since they comprise over 40% of the street kid population.
    Children as young as six-years-old are raped, sodomized, tortured, and sometimes murdered in snuff films for the ‘entertainment’ of perverted men, usually Caucasians. Other children are shipped overseas to brothels for the perverted pleasures of men who fly in from industrialized nations to partake of that which is illegal in their own countries.
    https://www.amazon.com/Street-Harvest-Special-Crimes-Team-ebook/dp/B00KVREDIC

  3. Backlash: Success can be deadly…if you’re a woman. The clock begins ticking with the abduction of successful attorney, Eleanor Delaney. Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must piece together a puzzle that began thirteen years ago.
    In the real world successful women, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, are targeted for harassment that ranges from insinuations to verbal/emotional attacks, and sometimes to physical assaults. As an ordinary woman, I understand some of what such women endur for I, too,–like every woman–live each day never knowing if I will be harassed, sexually assaulted or physically attacked.
    Rape is a reality that overshadows women from birth to death. One in three women will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. No woman is safe whether she is on a college campus, working in an office, riding mass transit, broke down on a lonely road, or sleeping in her own home. There is no greater horror than to live with the knowledge that you never know when you might become a victim.
    https://www.amazon.com/Backlash-Special-Crimes-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B00W7UJAWA
    kdpcover

  4. Death by Dog: When savaged bodies begin piling up, Sergeant Nita Slowater and the Special Crimes Team must stop dog fighters who are turning dogs into deadly weapons.
    In the real world,
    #dog is man’s best friend, but man is often a dog’s worst enemy. Ghandi is credited with saying, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Here in the United States dog fighting is a thriving so-called ‘sport’. Dogs whose only crime is to be bought, raised, or sold to dog fighters will live a life in cages, beaten, starved, and set upon by larger dogs all in the name of ‘entertaining’ men.
    Like domestic violence and rape, dog fighting crosses all socio-economic strata. At a dog fight you can find a doctor, a lawyer, a judge, an athlete, or the CEO of a large corporation right alongside of all types of criminals, drug dealers, and wanna-be gangstas.
    https://www.amazon.com/Death-Dog-Crime-Team-Book-ebook/dp/B01B5NXY4E
    dbdcover1

NOTE: Set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, ALL books in the Special Crimes Team series can be read as STAND-ALONES. Grab your copy today!

  1. Run or Die: Jaz Wheeler never realized that farming could be hazardous to her health until six men issued the ultimatum: run or die!
    In the real world, there is nothing more horrifying, more frightening than to be attacked because of the color of your skin or because of your sexual orientation, and to know that those who are charged with serving and protecting you may be some of the very ones assaulting you. Not knowing if you will survive to see another sunrise, with nowhere to run, with no place to hide, and with no one to turn to, you face death truly alone.
    Run or Die is a work of fiction based on fact. Sadly, racism and homophobia are alive and deadly here in our country. The current hate-mongering election is feeding the flames of violence that could burn up all of us.
    https://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A
    ecoverrord
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Things That Go BOOM!

Lieutenant Chris Knurr took on the scary (nearly as scary as disarming bombs!)task of teaching a roomful of writers about things that go boom.
Here is the brave individual! Chris Knurr Bomb Squad WPA
I’m not real sure that he should have told us about Macgyver bombs, though. Those are things of which nightmares are made. These little explosive devices are also called acid bombs or bottle bombs. And, they are one of the scariest bombs out there. Why? Not because they are the most destructive–not even close. What’s so scary is that these highly unstable and unpredictable bombs can be made from readily available supplies found in many homes! Chris showed us a short video clip of one young man who put the chemicals for the bomb in a plastic bottle and then shook the bottle. The bomb exploded in his hand. Though these are not even close to the most destructive explosives, they can still maim and kill.

Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in thinking about the explosives used to create bombs–things like dynamite and C-4–that I, like many others, are unaware of the danger present in those small or long, thin devices called detonators. Chris passed a non-el or shock tube around so that everyone in the room was holding it and then he set it off. It was startling with a small zap, but if it had been part of a bomb it would have been used to initiate a detonator or blasting cap.(please note: things in bold are corrections made to original post per information from Lieutenant Knurr. Thank you, Lieutenant Knurr, for passing along these clarifications! You rock!)

Det cord is a high explosive wrapped in a plastic coating, needing a detonator or blasting cap to initiate it. When it is set off by a blasting cap, it sends a detonating wave to other blasting caps or explosive charges. This cord is commonly used to connect explosives together.

After that fairly benign demo of a shock tube, he passed around inert blasting caps—little metal tubes not more than a couple of inches long and smaller in diameter than my little finger. Though they look harmless, they are small, sensitive primary explosive–woe be to those who forget this part of the description–devices used to detonate a larger, more powerful and less sensitive secondary explosive such as TNT, dynamite or plastic explosives.

One man did forget the description of blasting caps. Chris showed us a photo of what was left of the man’s face after he bit down on a live blasting cap. We could just about make out his eyes above the ruin of his face. Nose, lips, mouth, cheeks, and chin were gone. Blood was streaming down the red mass that had been his face. It was nothing short of a miracle that the man survived.

Since I am writing a thriller where homemade explosives play a significant part, I was especially interested in the part of the lecture dealing with ANFO, or bombs made from ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Several thousand pounds of a slightly different formulation of this type of explosive–ANNM which is ammonium nitrate with nitro methane fuel–was packed in the vehicle that Timothy McVeigh parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19,1995. He lit a two minute fuse and when the explosion occurred it killed 168 people, including 19 children and injured another 684 others.

Two of the most popular, homemade high explosives currently seem to be TATP and HMTD, both hydrogen peroxide based. Chemicals to make these bombs are fairly common. Unfortunately for law enforcement, the labs producing these high explosives may appear to be meth labs since TATP is a white crystal and HMTD is a white powder. These explosives are unstable.

Chris’ lecture covered many other types of explosives as well as such topics as what defines the ‘explosive train’, but those things would require a lot longer post and much more skill to explain than I have to make it as understandable as Chris did for us. (Just because I could understand it, doesn’t mean I can explain it! Chris is a talented teacher and an accomplished expert in all things that go BOOM!)

There were some things that really snagged my attention, though.

  1. I had no idea that a suitcase full of firecrackers, if set on fire, could blow up a full size car!
  2. Car bombs in a downtown area is a bomb squad’s nightmare.
  3. It is way too easy to buy the ingredients to create a bomb! Scary!
  4. There are 2700 civilian bomb techs trained by the FBI.
  5. A “dirty bomb” is not one that needs a bath; it is an explosive that has radioactive material on it.
  6. Grenades, and high explosives, create pressure waves/shock waves that go through a body. This, in turn, creates fluid waves (we are mostly water) that shred the inside of the body. This is what kills.
  7. The bomb suit—Explosive Ordnance Disposal suit (EOD)–weighs over 80 pounds and someone has to wear it! It is hard to move in it and is very hot! (I tried on the helmet and the coat part. Do you remember what it felt like when you were a little kid and your mom bundled you up for cold weather and you could barely move? Yup, a lot like that.)The helmet weighs about 8 to 10 pouunds. The bomb suit, in order to maximize dexterity and mobility, has no gloves. This leaves hands and forearms exposed to danger.
    Aya bomb coat WPA
    (This photo is used courtesy of Tom Middleton)

EOD technicians wear the suit during reconnaissance, when trying to ‘render safe’, or disruption procedures on potential or confirmed explosive devices. These suits protect the wearer from fragmentation, blast overpressure, thermal and tertiary effects should the device explode. An interesting note: technicians back away from explosive devices not because they are “afraid” of the bomb, but because most of the protection resides in the front plate of the suit.
Tom in bomb suit WPA
Tom Middleton models the EOD suit next to the robot used by the bomb squad.

Though I have only been able to grasp a mere fraction of the information he conveyed, Chris gave me something more valuable even than knowledge of explosives; he gave me a better understanding of the dangers faced from international and homegrown terrorists who have easy access to the information and ingredients to create explosive devices; and he gave me a better understanding of the pressures the people of a bomb squad face as they work to protect the public.

Aya Bomb Squad helmet WPA

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#2016WPA A World of Mayhem and Murder

WPA—a world of murder, arson, guns and explosives! A place where at the next corner you’ll be faced with a man lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood; his brains oozing out of his eye socket, bits of brain matter flung across the floor.

This was the world in which I immersed myself for four days.

Writer’s Police Academy utilized the facilities of the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College where real cops, EMS, and fire fighters train. The first night of WPA, we were treated to a chance to interrogate police officers about the equipment they use—everything from guns, rifles, battering rams, (let me tell you—that battering ram was heavvvvy!) SWAT shields and vehicles. They went through the procedure for forced entry by SWAT.

Throughout our classes at WPA, our instructors were cops, fire fighters, arson investigators, ballistics experts, and emergency medical experts. John Flannery taught my first class, Blood Spatter, (spatter; not splatter!)
John Flannery WPA

Dry book learning was not on the menu at WPA. A homicide scene greeted us as we walked into John’s class. A bullet hole in the window, blood spatter on the wall behind the couch, the body of a male—late twenties—lying in a pool of blood, brain matter coming out of one eye socket, the skull and clumps scattered on the floor.
WPA Blood Spatter Victim

We were the officers investigating the homicide. What clues did we see? Who did we suspect was the assailant? Why was there a bloody handprint on the bookcase? Did the victim make it after being shot through the eye? Didn’t people immediately die from such a gunshot wound? Did the jar with marijuana have anything to do with the murder? Why was there a revolver close to the victim and a shell casing from a 9 mm off to one side? Did either have anything to do with the murder?

Those were the obvious clues as we first encountered the scene. Other clues slowly came to our attention under John’s careful guidance, as did the possible meaning of each clue as it pertained to the crime. Blood spatter behind the couch linked to the bloody handprint on the bookcase. The victim had been shot through the eye as seen by the blood spatter behind the couch. (No brains oozing out yet) Holding his bleeding head, he had staggered across the room, placing his bloody hand on the bookcase to stay upright, then eventually falling to the floor where we then saw his body. He was not dead at this point—contrary to what a person might think knowing about the grievous head wound.

Blood spatter WPA
Someone had entered or had been present in the apartment when the victim fell. That person had then proceeded to kill the victim. This person’s presence became clear from the blood spatter on the ceiling above the victim’s body and the spatter on the wall to the right of the victim’s body. The spatter on the ceiling created four dotted lines of blood. This pattern was also seen on the wall to the right. We learned that this was cast off blood—blood flung from the instrument itself– blood streaks made when a blunt instrument is drawn back to hit the victim again.

The assailant had used a blunt instrument to beat the victim once he had fallen to the floor. The beating was the cause of death, even though the head shot may have killed him eventually. What kind of instrument was used to beat the victim? Was it still in the apartment?

A pool cue was used to beat the victim. The blood had been carelessly wiped off, leaving a pale pink stain at the pointed end of the stick. The felt tip was responsible for the blood droplets on the floor, the droplets that were fairly round with just a faint tail. This let us know that the assailant, after beating the victim to death, had walked away from the body with the end of the cue pointed down toward the floor. The diameter and shape of the blood droplets told us that.
Blood droplets from weapon being carried

A bloody footprint indicated that someone, perhaps the assailant, had stepped in the victim’s blood. The shoe print had a pointed toe, was small—like maybe a size five or six—and had a definite heel which was square—like a woman’s pump.
WPA Shoe print in blood

After examination it was revealed that the victim had shot through the window at someone or something outside of his apartment. This accounted for the bullet hole in the window and the revolver close to the victim.

We still had the 9 mm shell casing which indicated that a 9 mm had been used inside of the apartment to shoot the victim. His assailant had then, after the victim fell, proceeded to viciously beat him in the face and head with the pointed end of the pool cue. This beating resulted in the brain oozing out of the eye socket and the caved-in look of the right side of the victim’s head. Further investigation revealed a woman’s driver’s license tossed or fallen in the trash can in the living room where the victim lay. The beating was vicious and had continued far beyond just immobilizing or killing the victim warranted. It demonstrated that this crime had been committed with passion; it was personal. We concluded that we should look at the victim’s girlfriend, wife, lover, and exes.

Though this murder had been a scenario set up by John, he also showed and explained real crime scene photos which were horrendous. The first crime scene photo was of a woman in a cabin. The woman’s body had been found crumpled between the wall and the bed. From blood stains on the bed it was obvious the woman had been resting or sleeping when the attack began. She next fell or rolled out of bed in an attempt to elude her attacker. She was standing when the attacker hit her with a sharp instrument in the head. Blood smeared down the wall as she crumpled to the floor.

The assailant continued his attack after the woman was on the floor. One of the wounds was a hacked open thigh which left the muscles gaping with blood pooled in the wound. The pooled blood indicated that the wound had been made perimortem. The heart had stopped pumping before the blood drained over the edge of the deep wound. The assailant had also removed the woman’s left hand—post mortem fortunately for the victim–and it was found next to the wall. The viciousness of the attack indicated that it had been personal.

This led the investigation to the woman’s estranged husband. The estranged husband had followed the woman to the cabin, waited until their children had gone down to the beach, and then entered and attacked the sleeping woman. The severed hand was the hand with the wedding band still on it.

Unfortunately, the couple’s young children found their mother when they returned from the beach.

In the second set of crime scene photos, a mother and her child had been killed in their home; their throats slit. John was sensitive to the fact that the death of the infant might be troubling to some people. He announced that in the coming photos that an infant had been killed and if anyone wanted to leave for this part, it was perfectly all right and they could return after this particular crime scene had been examined. A few people who had small children at home did leave for this part of our session.

John then walked the class through the crime scene photos, explaining what the blood on the woman’s arms meant—she had grabbed at her slit throat in a vain attempt to save her own life. Next we explored the baby’s photos. On the side of the child’s face, there was blood—which went with the slit throat—but there was also a clean space called a void where no blood had run. This indicated that the child had been sleeping with his head turned to the right side when his throat had been slit, but at some time after that—perimortem which means at or close to the time of death–the child had turned his head until his face pointed upward. The void occurred because when the blood was running, the turn of the head placed a small part of that cheek against some object that the blood ran around—the bed was most obviously the object. The child, before dying, had turned his head to where his face looked up and then he died.

The assailant, who turned out to be the estranged husband and father, claimed that though he confessed to the crimes that his sentence should be mitigated because he killed his wife and son with humane means that resulted in instant death and that they did not suffer—ie: a slit throat.

The woman’s bloody arms and the void on the child’s cheek proved that both victims had struggled after their throats were slit and therefore had not died instantly.

The Blood Spatter class was packed with information and this short blog post cannot give it justice. Suffice it to say that I learned a ton of stuff! John was one of the best instructors I have ever encountered. If you want to read about John’s extensive credentials go to http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/john-flannery/

Sisters in Crime was one of the sponsors for the #WritersPoliceAcademy. To learn more about #SistersInCrime go to http://www.sistersincrime.org/

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Hashtags

manydroplets
As an author, my work is motivated by passion. I care deeply about every novel that I have written. I feel strongly that I have a gift that must not be wasted.
Journey you make
Consequently, while my work entertains, it also tackles some difficult subjects. This can, of course, be more easily seen in my literary and mystery novels, but it even occurs in my vampire trilogy and my YA novel, Black Wind.
(http://www.amazon.com/Aya-Walksfar/e/B00CMVAKKK)

What does that have to do with hashtags? Hashtags highlight an important point in a subject so that it is more searchable on the internet and, therefore, can be more easily located by readers. There is a hashtag that sums up the major motivation behind all of my work: #WomensLivesMatter

As I was thinking about that hashtag and how it relates to my writing, I began to realize that there is a second hashtag that is every bit as important: #LGBTQLivesMatter

It is only recently that I began considering what hashtags relate to my writing. It was the advent of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter–coupled with the insistence of writing coaches that hashtags are important to authors–that finally helped me realize how important hashtags really are in this web-connected world. I began considering what the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter meant to me. The longer I thought about this hashtag, the more similarities I discovered between the occurrences that birthed that particular hashtag and the events that motivated my work. Let me start at the beginning.

I write to entertain, but I also write to empower women. Why do women need to be empowered?

Women grow up knowing that we are never safe: not on the street, not on college campuses, not in high schools; and not even in their churches. We realize that we face potential violence toward us whenever we do those ordinary things such as riding the subway, walking down the street, having a drink in a bar; and even in our own homes in bed asleep.
We are at risk for being beaten, raped, and murdered simply because we are women. The least dangerous thing that happens to us is being verbally harassed, but even that can turn deadly in the blink of an eye.

We are not safe from teachers, preachers, strangers, friends, lovers, or even family members from the time we are small children. And, all too frequently, we are not safe from the very ones society has placed in power over us; and policemen are all too likely to be a part of the problem, right down to actually beating, raping and murdering us.
There is simply no telling when or from where the attacks might come.

This situation has gone on for so long and has been so prevalent in our society that it has become normalized. Girls are warned about what they must do to lessen the risk of being attacked: don’t provoke them, don’t talk back, go along with whatever they are asking of you, don’t complain, be careful of what you wear, watch out for how you present yourself including how you walk, don’t go to certain places, never be alone as there is some safety in numbers sometimes, and if you are attacked, don’t fight back because they might kill you.
Of course, none of those things really work because the woman is not the perpetrator of the crime against them. We are the victim.

In order to break this cycle of victimization, the situations need to be brought to light. We cannot overcome that which we cannot name.

Just as women have experienced this level of potential violence all of our lives–consciously or subconsciously–black Americans also experience this level of violence. Simply take out the word woman and insert the word black in the above descriptions. And, as it is with women, it is with black Americans: they are warned not to provoke their attackers, to be careful where they go and when they go, to watch what they wear, and so on. Yet, as it is with women, it is with black Americans—there is nothing they can do to prevent those attacks upon them because they are not the perpetrators; they are the victims.

Women must measure the potential threat from all males in all situations. For black Americans, law enforcement officers have become a large, and very visible, part of the problem of violence against them.

A problem that is named is a problem more likely to be fought and overcome. Because the violence against black Americans has been coming, increasingly, from law enforcement officers, it has become important to name the issue: the issue is the casual and deadly violence with which police officers are confronting black Americans. Hence the need for a hashtag that refutes the police officers’ casual use of deadly force: #BlackLivesMatter

The more I considered the violence against women, the more I realized how the violence against black Americans contains strong similarities.

  1. Both situations occur with such regularity that they have become “normalized” and therefore, a nearly invisible part of society.
  2. Victim blaming occurs in both situations.
  3. These situations are not going to improve until certain conditions are met.

The conditions needed to resolve both situations are very simple, yet quite difficult to put into place. Think of these conditions as an arc, or an arch, beneath which justice and safety lie for all citizens.

A. Accountability: the perpetrators must be held to strict standards of accountability to the victim and to society.
B. Responsibility: the perpetrators must be given the absolute personal responsibility for their own actions against the victim, regardless of such irrelevant issues as what the victim was wearing, how the victim spoke, and so on.
C. Consequences: the perpetrators must face serious consequences that truly fit the crime they committed. For example, murder should result in very long prison terms, at the least, and should most often result in life in prison since the victim’s life has been cut short. Rapists should not be free to rape again and again and again.

Currently, perpetrators are not held accountable for the damage to people’s lives, and for the deaths they cause. They are not forced to stand responsible for their own actions. Excuses are presented to explain their behavior which then mitigates their personal responsibility; things like what the victim wore, how the victim spoke to them, why was the victim walking alone on the street at that hour (because they have a right to be there?), why was the victim standing on that corner.

In the case of law enforcement officers, there is the additional responsibility they assume when they begin wearing a uniform: they assume the responsibility to de-escalate situations so that the least amount of violence occurs.

And the perpetrators all too often do not face consequences commiserate with their actions. Rapists are given hand slaps and set free even when found guilty (after all who would think of ‘ruining’ a young man’s life when he is such a great athlete, regardless of the fact that he negatively impacted a woman’s entire life?) Law enforcement officers walk away from killings with a few weeks administrative leave and a bogus investigation into their crimes.

Our country does not face the greatest threat from outside terrorists. The greatest, most grave threat to our nation is the threat of home grown terrorists be they maniacs hiding behind religion or murderers hiding behind badges.

A good friend of mine, who also happens to be a very intelligent woman, pointed out that many people seem to demand that every Muslim who is not a terrorist should apologize for and condemn every terrorist who murders in the name of the Muslim religion while at the same time we do not hold police officers to that standard of behavior. For some reason, we don’t demand that all police officers apologize for and condemn every terrorist who hides behind the blue line and a badge.

Muslim civilians are not responsible for what others who claim that religion do. It would be like saying that all white Christians be held responsible for the actions of the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Church! However, when police officers take the oath to serve and to protect, they are accepting the responsibility to protect civilians against all threats, even if that threat comes from one of their own. Even moreso if that threat originates from one of their own.

It is time to demand that our police officers live up to that responsibility, or find new vocations. If there is a bad cop out there who pulls a gun on a civilian in a situation that does not call for that measure of violence, then it is up to the good cops to stop that cop before he murders a civilian; before he rapes a woman; before he beats up a queer.

To those entrusted with great power, rests great responsibility.

Yes, all lives do matter and that includes the lives of police officers. There are police officers—wonderful people who uphold the law and whom I greatly admire; people I am honored to call my friends—and I fear for their safety out there on the mean streets; however, until certain groups are no longer targeted, we must keep bringing to the public awareness that these groups are being targeted: women, LGBTQ people, and black Americans.

#BlackLivesMatter #WomensLivesMatter #LGBTQLivesMatter

As grave as these matters are, I am an eternal optimist. In every novel I write, the good/the light within people always triumphs. I believe our country will overcome this dark night and the sun of a beautiful day will one day shine upon all of us.
NoMatterHowLong

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