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January 12, 2012

Phyllis Middleton tells all: How FATE worked in my life

How FATE worked in my life.

It was suggested that I should write about what I know best. I call it my other life. Crime. Cops. Death. Investigations. Crime Scenes and Crafts! Yes, Crafts.  So my topic is about FATE…how my life was guided by it.

Let’s go back in time…like 40 years ago. I wanted to work for the airlines and spent my senior year going through an airline training program where I completed the program doing my residency in Kansas City, MO. As FATE would have it, I was visited by the FBI while there and within two months I reported to Washington, DC to become the newest member of the FBI card filing team. Within 6 weeks there, I continued my training into their fingerprint program and six months later, I was qualified as a fingerprint examiner. Problem was, I hated Washington DC and longed for my home back in Colorado.  At eighteen – let’s call it what it really was…homesickness. I quit and moved back.

I then applied to every airline and the local law enforcement authorities. I decided that whoever gets me first that is the career I will follow. I answered the call of FATE.  Within six months, The Pueblo County Sheriff’s office hired me as a civilian into the newly created Crime Lab/Scene – primarily the fingerprints field. Over the years, I learned all aspects of our Crime Scene Investigations Department, becoming an expert in courts for fingerprints, and learning all the other aspects. I was noted to be the first woman patrol officer Pueblo County ever had.

I never really had the low-keyed police life that some officers were blessed to experience. I’ve been shot at, held hostage, and had a boatload of fights over the years. I also had experiences that not many can boast about…how about leaning out the door of a helicopter taking aerial photographs? Or while at a bar fight on New Years Eve a drunk decided to take me for a spin on he dance floor – in uniform!  I spent 36 hours in the Colorado Mountains searching for a lost little boy – good news, we found him alive.  I was also slated to be on the Colorado Disaster Response Team, and I later became a Police Instructor. 

I few years later I joined the Denver Coroner’s Office as one of six Senior Criminal/Civil Investigators, becoming Colorado Certified Death Scene Investigator.  I handled on average 600 deaths a year…just me. The other 5 handled the remaining 3200 deaths occurring in Denver,

So FATE?  Guess what I do now?  I teach writers about Crime and Death Scenes, getting them right and realistic. I’ve help authors with their writings and have been surprised by their acknowledgements in their books. Cool stuff.

Funny how things come together.

My play life included all sorts of craft making. Currently, my biggest passion in crafts is jewelry. The more bling, the better! But I also make wreaths, work with clay, paint with acrylics, and fix just about anything. When I am making jewelry, my mind drifts off to my writing and how to work out a scene or dialogue.  I call it my ‘therapy session with my muse’.

And what about my working for the airlines? I did eventually work as a ticket and gate agent for a defunct airlines named Western Pacific and United after I ‘retired’ from law enforcement.  I hated it! 

Just another sign…I was FATED for a life of crime…of sorts.

So, how did FATE affect your life?


Sasha Summers said...

Holy cow Phyllis, I had no idea you've had such amazing adventures. Your life is several romantic suspenses in the making, I'll wager.
Fate, hmmm. Well, Fate introduced me to Diana Cosby when I was giving up on writing. She brought me to DARA for the first time. So I'm Fate's fan - for the moment. Fate's a tricky thing sometimes :)

Kathy Ivan said...

Fate can lead us down paths we don't expect. Right out of high school I got a job in a hospital. I was hired to start in the Data Processing department. The day I showed up to start work, they asked if I'd mind changing to another department because someone else wanted to work in Data Processes.

Heck, I was fresh out of high school. I didn't care as long as i had a job! So I quickly moved into medical records and I've been involved in that area in one form or another ever since.

It was through working in the medical field that I got back into writing. I worked from home and another person worked in the actual office for the same company. She sold her first book and invited me to a book signing. The rest as they say is history. (Thank you Jane Graves!)

So you never do know where life is going to take you--just hope it's a great ride along the way!

chris keniston said...

somehow I've missed the taken hostage part- we'll have to do that one over a glass of wine!

oh how fate is an intersting thing. the walking talking version of life is what happens while we're busy making other plans.

After college I was supposed to visit an aunt in spain. Flight was over sold - got sent through london - sat next to a girl on the plane who talked me into spending the day in london with her family- met a woman from france and her daughter on the bus ride back to Heathrow airport after my day n london - two months later I went to visit that same french woman outside paris for a weekend and stayed three months- fulfilled a lifelong dream of learning to speak french- and fifteen years later landed a huge business deal with an italian company because the wife was french and it turned out my french was better than the italians english- fate is definitely interestng- so many things I would have missed out in ife if my flight to Madrid had not been oversold - sigh

fate and writing - well - that would be thanks to a tv show- imagine that. but that's a story for another day- LOL

Liese Sherwood-Fabre said...

It's amazing how one little action can lead us down a path we never even saw. While studing in Mexico City one summer, I recognized and spoke to a girl from the summer school I was attending. She invited me to her birthday party and set me up with a friend of her boyfriend. I married the man four years later--my first and only blind date.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

I think Fate leads us on the most amazing life adventures. If someone hadn't made a comment on an author post, I wouldn't have written a short story.

Pamela Stone said...

Fate - oh yes, fate. Interesting paths it takes us on. I also dreamed of working for an airline. Worked for AA for years and enjoyed the flight benefits. But as fate would have it, they spun off Sabre and Sabre was bought by EDS and EDS was bought by HP.

My life in coprorate America isn't nearly as interesting as yours, but I have survived change after change.

I too always wanted to write, or at least tell stories. Working in corporate America certainly taught me what I don't want to write about. I write to escape it. Ha!

You've had an amazing life!

Phyllis said...

Sasha, Glad you came by to visit!

Funny, I don't think about my life being all that amazing until I put things down on paper like this. When I do, I'll admit I do wow myself! I will say for sure that the suspense aspect of my writing is authentic!

Yes, Diana has been very inspirational to many of us. I'm glad she's brought you into the welcoming arms of DARA.


Phyllis said...

See Kathy...Fate took you on a ride from medical records to Jane Graves to DARA to your first manuscript published...yep, so cool!

Phyllis said...


Again I love how fate turns your life around. You think "Ah man!" whenever the situation MAKES you change plans, meet someone your weren't meant to and puts your on a life totally away from your plans! Usually, things turn out for the better.


Phyllis said...

Liese - Good for you! Landing a husband in a fateful turn is great news.....sounds very much like a romance story to me!


Phyllis said...

And Vicki...look where your short stories have lead! A novella and perhaps a novel next?


Phyllis said...


I personallly think surviving change is very hard. Believe it or not, I really dislike change and when it ivolves your livelihood it can be stressful. Since you meationed Sabre, were you in reservations or a ticket agent? I was on the "front lines" and found my patience sorely tested by the people. The flight benfits were cool - if you could get out.


Kathy Bennett said...

I'm going to combine my fate story with romance!

All my life my eyes have been very sensitive to the sun. I really have a have a hard time being out in the sun without sunglasses.

So there I was...a brand new LAPD officer working the day shift. As I was finishing for the day and going inside the police station, a male officer came out the door I was about to go in. As soon as stepped outside, he squinted with onslaught of the sun in his eyes.

Without hesitation I offered him my sunglasses saying, 'My eyes are very sensitive to the light so I know how you feel.' He declined the sunglasses saying he had a pair in his patrol car. But...

After that incident, I kept running into that officer on a lot of my radio calls and in the report writing room.

This coming February, we will have been married for 17 years - and that's a long time in the cop world!

This is a fantastic topic! Good job Phyllis!

Anonymous said...

Wow!! How exciting! I'm just a paper pusher and live my life through outs and books. Keep writing everying. But I know that I have seen the hand of Fate (or God) in my life. I know that I am a very blessed woman. I'm adding you to my list of people to ask if I have a question about the law.

Phyllis said...

Hi KB!

How's my critique partner? I know you've seen your share of stuff at LAPD too! Thanks for stopping by.

I like how you met your hubby.


Phyllis said...


Glad you came by to say hi.

I am more than happy to help with any crime scene issues you may have, just give me a shout!


Sylvia said...

Hi Phyllis,
Great subject. You have led such an interesting life. Wow! BTW, hubbie is from Pueblo, Colorado. His sister lives in Penrose.

Fate...twenty years ago, I was sick of my job, my life and everything else and decided to take a class on writing. I'd always wanted to write. From there I went to an RWA chapter meeting and while there, I met my first critique partner and the cycle of life as a writer began. Love writing and dream of the day I can do it full-time. It's coming.

Sylvia said...

Hi Phyllis,
Great subject. You have led such an interesting life. Wow! BTW, hubbie is from Pueblo, Colorado. His sister lives in Penrose.

Fate...twenty years ago, I was sick of my job, my life and everything else and decided to take a class on writing. I'd always wanted to write. From there I went to an RWA chapter meeting and while there, I met my first critique partner and the cycle of life as a writer began. Love writing and dream of the day I can do it full-time. It's coming.

Pamela Stone said...

Hey Phyllis,

I started out doing billing and customer service for travel agents who used Sabre. But my little bit of airport experience was after I became an account manager for desktops. So when a computer went down at the counter or gate, our team had a short time to get them back up and running. That was in my techy days. But Sabre was a good company to work for. And like you said, the flight benefits were really nice when you could get on a plane. Ha!

Karina Fabian said...

Phyllis and Sylvia,

Small world. I'm from Pueblo, and my Dad was a state trooper for 30 years, mostly in Pueblo. Phyllis, did you ever meet him--Steve Lumbert? (You'd most likely remember--he's a character, and loves to talk!) Sylvia, where did your husband go to high school?

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