I have always been a writer. I have always loved books. When I was three years old, my idea of writing a book was picking a bound book from the library at my house, opening it up and adding some illustrations, via crayons or a number 2 pencil. From there, I ventured into poetry, short stories, articles for school papers, and the senior class song and play.
My first piece of fiction was (is) an adult novel. I had never taken a novel writing course – so I was intimidated! My thought: I will start writing a children’s book! That will be easier! Ha! Was I mistaken! I stumbled into the vast wonderland of Children’s Books.
As a teacher of Language Arts and Social Studies, I was familiar with children’s books. Good books! Great books! Charlotte’s Web, The Wind in the Willows, Goodnight, Moon, Bridge to Terabitha, Little Women, Tuck Everlasting, to name a few. But talking about them after they are written is way different than writing one from scratch! I had a lot to learn about the field of Children’s Publishing!
As I said, I was a teacher for many years. Then I became a school psychologist. And although I had retired from my job as a school psychologist for the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, I still wanted to work with children. I had been mentoring students at Logan Elementary in Columbia for several years. One of the students was enrolled in the FBI Junior Special Agent Program. A program for the fifth graders at Logan. As I closely watched his participation in the program, I was intrigued. The idea for Sean began to dance around in my writer head! I told the Special Agent in charge of the program about some ideas I had with Sean’s character development. He invited me to FBI Headquarters in Columbia.
I interviewed special agents at the FBI Columbia Field Office about their Junior Special Agent Program, which led to negotiations with the FBI Office of Public Affairs (OPA) in Washington DC about my story and an endorsement with them to collaborate on a series of at least 4 or 5 more books based on my protagonist.
I was then nominated to become a member of the FBI Citizens Academyand received training in all areas of the FBI, including terrorism, counter-terrorism, gangs, and hate crimes, kidnapping and cyber-crime. This has given me personal insight into the inner workings of the organization and a great trove of stories for the potential series! Storylines I wish to develop include bullying and hate crimes; chat room lures and cyber-stalking; kidnapping; witness protection; and violent gang and organized crime.
About the FBI Citizens Academies
Want to find out first hand how the FBI works? Hear how the Bureau tracks down spies and terrorists? Learn how to collect and preserve evidence? See what it is like to fire a weapon and put yourself in the shoes of a Special Agent making a split-second, life-or-death decision?
If you are a leader in your community, you just might be able to do that and more––through an FBI Citizens’ Academy, open for business in all 56 of our field offices.
Who attends? Business, civic, and religious leaders. You must be at least 18 years old (with no prior felony convictions) and must live and work in the area covered by the field office sponsoring the academy.
Who teaches? Special Agents in Charge of a field office, their senior managers, and senior agent experts.
For how long? Classes generally meet 10 times (eight on weeknights and two on Saturday) for three hours each session. Each session has around 20-30 students.
The curriculum? Fascinating!
- Practical problems involving evidence collection and preservation.
- FBI jurisdiction and congressional oversight.
- Structure and operation of FBI field offices and resident agencies.
- Fingerprint, forensic, technology, training, and other services
- Policies and issues: ethics, discipline, communications, civil rights, and criminal trends.
- Firearms training.
To find out more about Citizens’ Academies, contact your local field office.