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Guest Article: Getting It Write with Rick Anderson

by Michael 5/23/2012 1:44:00 PM

Once again, my friend and fellow writer steps into our guest spot -Michael

Getting it Write 

The great thing about Michael's site is the resource it provides for writers that want to write about cops—and for cops that want to write. To be more precise, writers can find opportunities to inject authenticity into the cop characters that they're creating. I'm retired after a almost four decades in public service, capping my career as a federal agent. I met Dr. Michael Thompkins two years ago at the Southern California Writers Conference in Sunny Sandy Eggo. We were teaching separate workshops but our topics had connections to police characters. Comparing notes later, we were encouraged by the large turn-outs that revealed a deep desire among writers to keep their characters honest. There were Q&As following the lecture portions and the questions came fast & furious. One example: "Can my hero use a silencer on his revolver?" The short answer is, no. Or consider this question: "My protagonist is a police officer. She has to take on four punks in a dark alley. What're her options?" I replied, "Multiple," and explained a few. 

Michael's premier novel Gun Play reveals the great effort he put forth to bring to life vivid characters that not only talk the talk, but walk the walk in all things related to the world of cops & robbers. His characters are original, their credibility as working cops faultless. And how did Michael accomplish this? Through research, by riding with working officers, and through social contacts. As a result he's nailed the procedures, the talk, and equally important, the attitudes. This last quality is important because cops do have attitude—and good cops have very healthy ones that enable them in their work.More...

Dog Whisperer Falls

by Michael 5/2/2010 12:26:00 PM

All too suddenly I received the following email:

"With mournful regret, the California Narcotic & Explosive Canine Association gives notice that Dan Lamaster tragically perished in a residential house fire on Saturday, April 17, 2010. The Canine Community has lost a pioneer, a, visionary, an icon, a true friend.  There are times when mere words are insufficient to describe a person's life contribution both personally and professionally.  It would be impossible to ever accurately determine the number of people and dogs that Dan has positively influenced during his career, his life.   Dan was an original founding member of the California Narcotic Canine Association. His twenty years of unselfish contribution both on the field and in the classroom has been an integral factor that directly contributed to the overall quality and success of CNCA. Dan contributed so much, quietly, behind the scenes, without any intent to seek any kind of recognition, but instead did it because he wanted to be part of something that in the end would make us all better handler's, better trainer's, better people.  His kindness and compassion will always be, in all ways, a testament to his true character.  As we slowly and over time come to realize what a substantial loss we have all incurred on so many levels, let's give pause, remember and reflect on the absolute kind Soul that Dan was and continues to be and together we all must celebrate his life. He would have not wanted or accepted anything less. "


I knew Danny for just a few years as I researched Explosive Detection K9 teams and training in the Southland.  We established a bit of a friendship based on his love of dogs and literature.  When I first met him, he was engrossed in Steinbeck's East of Eden-"for the 13th time!" Danny was a dog whisperer, a man who could train the most stubborn or inattentive puppy to hunt and find explosives, contraband or people.  He was, as CNECA points out, a precious resource to Law Enforcement; his shoes will never be quite filled. 

He was also the lover of books and a resource to this writer. Without his encouragement, I would not be writing my newest and third novel (on K9 officers and their handlers.)  Without his presence, I am forced to continue with just his last words to live up to.  Danny finished the first act of my new novel as an informal editor and told a mutual friend: "tell michael I want more!"

Sometimes, writers write for themselves--the very least important reason.  Sometimes, they write a story that honors others--the most important reason.

Writing Rivers with Craig Anderson

by Michael 4/27/2009 2:53:00 PM
     Here's a new addition to our little literary opus-in-progress, Shrinking Character: Richard Craig Anderson. After the February Southern California Writing Conference in San Diego, I planned on inviting some hot new names in crime fiction to write some pieces for   Rick and I were emailing back and forth in March so I just up and asked him. Rick is a retired Maryland State Trooper, who I met at the SCWC workshop for crime writers, where participants learned about tactical training scenarios, "Shoot, Don't Shoot" scenes. The first two volunteers (no names mentioned,) both managed to shoot an unarmed citizen played by one of us. Rick's debut blog for us is about writing his new novel Rivers of Belief, which I read and loved.   

“Writing Rivers” by  Richard Craig Anderson  

Hi everyone.  My name is Rick Anderson and Michael Thompkins invited me to discuss my latest novel, Rivers of Belief.  Like Michael’s Gun Play, it’s a crime fiction thriller with an emphasis on edgy characterization—characters fleshed-out until we see their souls, their dreams and even their nightmares—traits that humanize us all.  It’s not a new concept of course, but there is a twist and that’s what I want to talk about.

I met Dr. Michael Thompkins during the 2009 Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego.  We’d been invited as lecturers, our paths quickly crossed, and we formed the basis of a growing friendship.  As I read Gun Play, it became evident that he and I had parallel spirits—we’re both determined to write with authenticity, and we believe that crime fiction must explore more fully the idiosyncrasies that we experience as human beings.  Gone are the formula, two-dimensional caricatures; welcome instead irregular characters made strong by the very weaknesses they fight to overcome—and by the dreams they dare to live.More...

Amtrak Explosive Detection K9 Retires

by Michael 3/16/2009 9:24:00 AM
I opened my email over the weekend to find this note from a friend who handles an Explosive Detection K9 for Amtrak in the Los Angeles Metro area: 

"Mike, just thought you would like to know that they are retiring Benny. He will be living with me and my family.

Let me know when your next book is done, I can't wait for it.


Dr. Phil & Benny

Amtrak Police Department"


Officer Phillip Clark and K9 Benny

Amtrak Police Department



K9 Benny on the "Job" and on an Amtrak train

From these pictures, which Dr. Phil (to his friends) included, we can see that Benny truly enjoyed his job; he had a good role model in his handler. I know for a fact that Officer Clark loves his job and that he will miss Benny at work.  The good news is that Benny and Dr. Phil will still be partners in Benny's retirement and promotion to family dog.

According to Sgt. Mitch Spike of the Palm Springs Police Department...

by Michael 1/13/2009 9:46:00 AM

When CSI co-star Gary Dourdan was arrested for drug possession in Palm Springs, USA Today reporters called PSPD Sgt. Mitch Spike for official police information on the case. When police on stakeout outside a Palm Springs Casino shot and killed a man, reporters reached out to Sgt. Spike for an official PSPD statement. When this writer wanted to establish a literary presence and a research foothold in the real life department I was fictionalizing in the Shooting Shrink Series, I called the PSPD Chief and he referred me to Sgt. Mitch Spike.

Michael Thompkins and Sgt. Mitch Spike in his office at PSPD

Most mornings that I'm in Palm Springs, the first thing I do after I pick up my coffee at the same Starbucks my fictional heroes frequent, is to turn the radio on to 920AM KPSI and the Steve Kelly Show. When it's time for the news, I fully expect anything that is going down in the Palm Springs crime scene to include somewhere in the report: "according to Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mitch Spike."

...Stay tuned for more on Sgt. Mitch Spike. Perhaps you'll see Mitch and me having sushi together somewhere in the Springs.

Officer Reed and JAG, Palms Springs Police Explosive-Detection Partners

by Michael 1/29/2008 10:37:00 AM

Officer Harvey Reed and JAG on duty at the Palm Springs Airport

"We secured the tell-tale tapes, left police headquarters ... walked across El Cielo to the fountain. The spray from the fountain was caught by a westerly breeze and covered the walkway. We tracked wet shoes across ... the lot and walked into the main terminal of the airport…the overhead speakers reminded us not to leave our baggage unattended." - Doctor Tom Reynolds, Gun Play.

In Gun Play, the Palm Springs Airport fountain provides a meeting spot for Doc Reynolds and his team as they search for Bocca, a sociopathic hitman, and attempt to bring him to justice. In the real city, the fountain serves as resting and cooling off spot for my favorite black Labrador retriever in town, a police dog named JAG. His handler, Officer Harvey Reed, brings JAG there for a well earned break from their full-time job protecting the passengers that fly into or out of Palm Springs Airport.

In their daily schedule, Harvey and JAG, are responsible for hundreds of confidential tasks all designed to insure your travel safety. Some of these tasks involve explosive-detection. This summer this author was privileged to watch Harvey and JAG run through a detection exercise at the airport and ride-along on a reconnaissance tour of the airport. I can assure you that I sleep better and fly with less anxiety knowing that this dedicated team and others like it are doing their jobs.

Dog lovers might wonder if JAG, with all his serious police responsibilities, is any less a contented canine. Labs happen to be my favorite dogs and I can attest that JAG is good-natured and happy and SMART!



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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions.