- CURTAIN CALL FOR THE CONFERENCE
- WRITING CONTEST
- MAKING THE SWITCH
- WHERE NO CRIME FICTION HAS GONE BEFORE…
- “IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME” –IF/NO, WHEN TERROR STRIKES, ARE YOU READY?
- GRAMMATICALLY SPEAKING, PART II …
- REVIEW OF CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO ARMED DEFENSE
- EXCERPT FROM A NOVEL IN PROGRESS
- OFFERING A FREE BOOK ON KINDLE
- PUBLISHING ON CREATESPACE
- FROM MEMBER JACKIE ZORTMAN
- MEMBER NEWS
- MEET THE MEMBERS
CURTAIN CALL FOR THE CONFERENCE
Those of you who will be attending the PSWA Conference, July 16th through the 19th, are in for a special treat. Not only do we have a fabulous line up of speakers and awesome panels, but it’s the 10th anniversary of the conference, so expect some special surprises.
Once again, the conference will be held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ve got a lot of new things planned for this one. I have it on good authority that there have been some great submissions to our annual writing contest, so we can all look forward to the awards ceremony.
Gorgeous Michelle Perin will be on hand as the presenter at the Awards Ceremony, and our tech guru, Tim Dees, has a special multi-part presentation unlike anything you’ve ever seen called “Keeping it Real.”
And, in case you haven’t figured it out already, the secret identity of our resident grammarian, Professor X, will also be revealed… Or will it?
Those in attendance who are seeking to learn more about writing and public safety subjects will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with experts in every field. As I’ve said before, the atmosphere is always friendly, and it’s a great place to network. The PSWA Conference is unique and certainly the best of its kind.
Our featured key note speakers this year are Marilyn Meredith, who will be giving us the benefit of her years of experience as a professional writer, Joseph Haggerty, who will be doing one of his polished performances on combating child pornography, Ron Corbin, who will be giving everyone pointers on how to be a good presenter, and Dr. Gloria Casale, who will be talking about aspects of bio terrorism. Additionally, we have a wide variety of panels set up covering topics ranging from writing techniques to various aspects of public safety service.
Every year the PSWA Board comers up with something unique for the conference. This time we’ll be doing an old time radio play. All the parts have not been cast, so if you’re interested, now’s the time to volunteer. I’m the director, and I still need people to be part of the production, especially for the audience jury, which will try to guess the mystery before it’s revealed in the final act. There’s a whole lot more planned. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. It may not be the biggest conference of the year, but it’ll certainly be the best.
I look forward to seeing you at the Orleans in July.
Excitement is in the air! The deadline for the 2015 PSWA Writing Contest has passed and all the entries are in. Our judges are working hard: reading, scoring and determining who will be this year’s Award-Winning authors in the variety of categories this diverse contest offers to our membership. Whether you write poetry or short stories, non-fiction books and articles or novels, even screenplays and flash, there was a category for you. Are you published or not-yet published? There was one for you too. As we count down the days to the Annual Writers Conference in Las Vegas, July 16-19th, we anxiously await the final day-Sunday. Why? Because this is when this year’s winners will be revealed! I hope to see all our contest entrants during the conference and definitely at the Award’s Banquet. Good luck to everyone and see you in Vegas!
MAKING THE SWITCH
I’m the author of three non-fiction books. A few years ago I decided to try writing fiction. As an avid reader and mystery fan, I have often felt that novelists come closer to the truth of human experience than do many psychologists. And, to be frank, I was tired of doing research. I actually thought it would be easier to make stuff up. Ask me today, I’ll tell you I was delusional.
The challenge of writing non-fiction is to get the facts right and present them in an understandable, readable package. Fiction requires the writer to capture the reader’s imagination. Get her to care so much about the story and the characters that she’ll bare her teeth at anyone or anything that interrupts her before she finishes the book. Non-fiction readers can and do pick up a book and put it down again at will.
My goal is to write mysteries that both capture the imagination and reveal something I know to be true about psychology and about police work. For example, my first mystery, Burying Ben, looks at police suicide. Most people don’t know that cops are two to three times as likely to kill themselves as they are to be killed in the line of duty. I’ve always wondered how I would feel if one of my clients took his own life. Or how much worse it would be if, as it happens to Dot, the officer left a note blaming me.
My second book, The Right Wrong Thing, (publication date, October 2015) drills down into the contemporary debate over police community relations. A young officer shoots and kills an unarmed, pregnant teenager. The officer, who suffers from PTSD, is determined to apologize to the dead girl’s family, despite everyone’s efforts to stop her. The results are catastrophic. Dot, ignoring orders from the police chief to back off, enlists some unlikely allies and unconventional undercover work to expose the tangled path of her client’s disastrous journey.
Readers ask me if my books are inspired by actual events. The answer is yes and no. There is truth in both my mysteries, real things that happened to real people. But the stories are embellished, disguised, and blended so that they are unrecognizable to the people who lived them. For years I’ve been keeping a file folder of the funny, off-the-wall things cops say. Officer Eddie Rimbauer, Dot’s occasional, and troubled ally, is a composite of many people I know. He sounds so real that there was an on-line pool of cops competing to guess his true identity.
If you’re writing fiction and want to get the details right, you don’t have to have a Ph.D or spend thirty years counseling cops. You could attend a citizens’ police academy at your local PD or the Writers Police Academy (www.writerspoliceacademy.com). Both will give you hands-on experience. Go on a ride-along. After all these years I still learn something new every time I do. Learn about guns. Practice on the range. Try your hand at a firearms training simulator (FATS). If you’re qualified and have the time to invest, think about becoming a reserve officer. Whatever you do, don’t watch cop shows on television. Most are so over the top, real cops can only laugh at them.
Join the Public Safety Writers Association (www.policewriter.com). You’ll meet a lot of active and retired public safety professionals who are also writers. Read widely. My books I Love a Cop, I Love a Fire Fighter and Counseling Cops all contain real-life scenarios that can enhance your stories and deepen your characters as does Sergeant Adam Plantinga’s highly readable book 400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman.
–Ellen Kirchman, Ph.D.
WHERE NO CRIME FICTION HAS GONE BEFORE…
My crime novel Guarding Shakespeare is in the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library’s Special Collection, consisting of works of fiction depicting scene(s) inside of the Folger Library or that merely make mention of the library. However, Guarding Shakespeare is the only work of fiction that is actually about the Folger Library.
On Thursday, April 23, 2015, I autographed 30 copies of Guarding Shakespeare for the Folger Shakespeare Memorial Library’s Board of Governors, and inscribed each book: “All the world’s a stage…”
Coincidentally, April 23rd is Shakespeare’s birthday, but it is also the day I retired from the Metropolitan Police Department 5 years ago, after more than 28 years of public service. It was a great day.
“IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME” –IF/NO, WHEN TERROR STRIKES, ARE YOU READY?
My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Europe, with visits in Ireland, France, Belgium, and England. In each of these countries, I felt a little uneasy about being in large crowds or popular places, like Piccadilly Circus. Probably due to my security background, my stress level was high and prevented me from truly enjoying some of the sites and activities. While riding the Undergound “Tube” (subway system) in London, I was cautiously concerned about acts of terrorism and constantly scanned areas for unattended packages and suspicious looking persons. Although similar acts of terrorism can and have occurred in the U.S., I’m glad to be home.
Whether it’s the threat of a chemical agent such as sarin, an IED (improvised explosive device), or some bio-terror agent such as smallpox, anthrax, or botulism (to name a few), renewed fears of a terrorist strike are being raised with the public because of recent incidents. If something terrible happens, like a dirty bomb or other radiological incident, many citizens would likely be on their own. First responders could just as likely have their own personal safety and family issues to deal with, and not be available to assist.
Would you know what to do in a major terror attack? Here is a special quiz designed to let you check your own preparedness. Take it yourself, then share it with your family and loved ones. See where they stand on their own knowledge. The answers are at the end of the quiz. [Source:www.nmha.org]
If Terror Strikes, Are You Ready?
True or False? You’re near an explosion. You should cover your nose and mouth with a cotton T-shirt or handkerchief right away. Why?
Which best describes a “dirty bomb”?
- An explosive device that is a miniature nuclear device.
- An explosive device that releases chemicals.
- An explosive device that releases a biological agent.
- An explosive device that spreads radioactive materials over a specific area.
True or False? A “dirty bomb” will kill everyone within five miles and make buildings uninhabitable for years.
If there is an explosion that may be a dirty bomb, or if authorities warn of a radiological release incident nearby, where is the best shelter?
- High up on a building’s rooftop.
- Low down in a basement or cellar.
- Enclosed in an elevator on the top floor.
- It doesn’t matter when radiological incidents occur.
The warning signs of a chemical attack include people suddenly becoming violently ill, choking, or passing out. If you see this, what’s the first thing to do?
- Leave the area as fast as possible.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a fabric, then run away.
- Head for a basement and seal all doors and windows.
- Cover your mouth and nose and wait for emergency people to arrive to be decontaminated.
In the event of a biological attack, which is NOT true?
- A biological attack may not immediately be obvious.
- During a biological attack, germs or other substances that can make you sick are released.
- You can become sick by inhaling, eating, or touching a biological agent.
- All biological agents create contagious diseases.
Unlike an explosion, a biological attack may not be immediately obvious. If you see signs of unusual illness, or if a biological attack is reported on the radio or TV, where is the safest place to seek shelter?
- High up in a building.
- Low down in a basement or cellar.
- Enclosed in an elevator on the bottom floor.
- It doesn’t matter when radiological incidents occur.
In the event of an explosion (or a natural disaster such as a tornado or hurricane), you may become trapped under debris. Which of the following steps is the WORST one you can take to alert rescuers?
- Tap on a pipe or a wall.
- Use a flashlight.
Which statement is false about sheltering during an emergency?
- You may need to create your own shelter in your home or workplace.
- Public emergency shelters must accept pets.
- When evacuating to a community shelter, bring a disaster supply kit.
- You may be instructed to shelter where you are during a chemical attack, even if you are in the area of the chemical release.
How can you find or create safe drinking water?
- Boil water for 3-5 minutes.
- Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon.
- Use water from a vehicle’s radiator.
- Use water from the hot water heater, if undamaged.
True. Covering your mouth and nose can help avoid exposure to toxic particles or radioactive dust.
4. A dirty bomb spreads radioactive materials.
False. As with any bomb, people will likely killed by the initial blast and some will develop radiation sickness. But how dangerous the bomb is and whether buildings are contaminated depends on how much radioactive material was used.
2. Being shelters by a thick wall and being below ground offers more protection. Your best option is a windowless room you can seal-off with enough air to last for several hours.
1. Unlike in an explosion with debris, dusk masks or cotton T-shirts won’t protect you in a chemical attack.
4. Some of the scariest biological agents, such as anthrax, are not contagious.
1. Biological agents will settle on the ground … so the higher up you can get, the better.
3. You should shout only as a last resort. You can inhale dangerous dust. Instead, you should try to keep your nose and mouth covered.
2. Pets are not permitted in emergency shelters for health reasons (“seeing eye” and service dogs may be an exception). A hotel or motel that accepts pets may be an alternative. Be prepared to have your pet’s shot records, leash or carrier, ID tags, and enough dog food for three days.
1,2 & 4. Radiators are NEVER a safe source of drinking water. Boiling is the safest method. Adding 1/8 teaspoon of unscented bleach can treat a gallon of water, but it won’t kill parasites.
How did you do on the quiz? If you’re like most people, you probably have some work to do. My purpose is not to heighten your fear level of a pending terrorist attack. It’s simply to show that we must all continue to educate ourselves on methods that terrorists may resort to using. It’s to help sharpen your senses and keep you alert to suspicious incidents that could lead to a terrorist attack.
If you haven’t thought about these things, you need to. Develop a good disaster plan and discuss it with you family, especially if you have children. Let them know that their schools have plans for specific incidents, and to follow the instructions of their teachers. Inform them that you may not be able to be with them immediately, but assuredly you will be there for them as soon as possible.
Local phone lines and cell phone systems will likely be overwhelmed in a major incident. It might help to have an out-of-town person you can call to check-in with and relay messages. If communications go down, and with children in different schools, decide who will be responsible for locating which children. Establish two family meeting areas, a primary and a back-up.
Be Prepared, Be Safe! It’s only a matter of time.
GRAMMATICALLY SPEAKING, PART II …
Hello again. This time I want to touch on a few more of those little grammatical mistakes that tend to bedevil us writers. While a good copy editor will hopefully catch these pesky errors, the goal of every professional writer should be to make his manuscript as perfect as possible. You’ll notice that I used the singular male possessive pronoun in the aforementioned sentence, rather than bowing to the corrupting and pervasive pressure of today’s political correctness, which would have most likely changed the phrase to the incorrect “their manuscript.” Another possibility would be to use both the masculine and feminine forms, thus changing the reference to the clumsy and bloated “his or her manuscript.” While satisfying the feminists in the audience, the additional words give the sentence a bloated feel, does it not? And lest we forget, the same principle of the singular, masculine possessive applies to those indefinite pronouns, everyone and everybody. Thus our current tendency to say, “Everybody has their own opinion,” should be “his own.” Where this unfortunate and current mutilation of the English language will end is anybody’s guess.
Let’s take a look at a few more that often get confused.
It’s and Its.
It’s is the contraction of “it is.” The apostrophe is used to indicate the omitted letter. An example would be: It’s almost high noon.
Its is the possessive form of the generic third person pronoun. An example of this would be: The cat scratched its back against my leg.
Egads! I suppose I should have checked to see if we were dealing with a male or female kitty in this instance.
But, let’s proceed.
Three words that often get mixed up in the haste of writing are there, their, and they’re.
(Parenthetically, you’ll also note that I used a third comma in the series, even though grammarians erroneously declared this third comma to be unnecessary years ago A case for keeping that third comma is best illustrated by reading the following sentence: Come to the family picnic where we’ll have plenty of food, beer and candy for the children. Beer and candy for the children? Doesn’t sound too family friendly to me.)
But, let’s get back to those three homonyms, there, their, and they’re.
There can be a variety of things, ranging from an indefinite noun when it’s followed by a form of the verb to be (There is the palace.), an adverb if it’s modifying a verb (She is there.), an interjection (There, there, little one.), or even a colloquialism meaning not in full possession of one’s faculties (He’s not all there.). In any case, let’s think of it as designating a place in this instance: There is the palace. Moran feared the helicopters wouldn’t get there in time.
Their is one our personal, possessive pronouns meaning something that belongs to someone.
Take a look at the following example: The crew ate their meal in silence.
And, finally, they’re is a contraction of the two words, “they are.”
“Zoom out,” Bass said. “They’re not onscreen.”
Hut, two, three, four, as they used to say in the army.
Let’s take a look at to, too, and two.
To is a preposition, which means it shows relationships between other words in a sentence.
We planned to get there on time. (I’ll bet you’ve heard that one before.)
Let’s not forget: To whom am I speaking?
Is this getting too complicated? Ha! I knew you’d catch that one.
Too is the equivalent of “also, or more than enough.”
Let’s look at a couple of examples: “I finished the cookies, and the carrots, too.”
“I ate too much, I ate too fast.”
“I was overloaded with too many assignments.”
Lastly, we have the number, two, meaning just that: a number.
Two redheads meant twice the trouble.
(Now, that could be interesting.)
(See the last PSWA Newsletter if you have any questions on lie vs. lay.)
Let’s round this column out by talking about subject/verb agreement. It’s pretty simple, really. Just make sure the subject agrees with the verb.
A singular subject needs a singular verb. A plural subject needs a plural verb.
Examples: Sebastian reads mystery stories, but Sebastian and William read mystery stories.
(An old rule of thumb is that a singular verb usually has an “S” as its last letter.
Don’t be confused by a long prepositional phrase inserted after a singular subject.
Example: Jim, as well as twenty members of his football team, is coming to the party. (Your basic sentence is Jim is coming to the party.) Don’t forget that our aforementioned buddies, everyone, everybody, as well as their kissing cousins, somebody and someone, take singular verbs. Example: Everyone has his own opinion. (Oh, wait, I mentioned that before, didn’t I? Ah well, some things bear repeating, from time to time.)
Well, I’ve tried to touch upon some of the most common grammatical mistakes writers make, but there’s no way to hit them all. A word of caution: don’t become overly reliant on your computer’s spelling/grammatical checker. Often times it is not able to ascertain the proper context, and may give you the wrong suggestion. If you’re weak on grammar, get yourself a good grammar rules book and study it. Then keep it in a handy place for reference. I’ll see you at the PSWA Conference in July where my true identity will be revealed … If you haven’t guessed it already.
REVIEW OF CITIZEN’S GUIDE TO ARMED DEFENSE
Kevin Davis has authored an impressive manual for citizen gun owners. Citizen’s Guide To Armed Defense has a plethora of information that, quite frankly, even cops will want to read. With a surge in gun ownership the past couple of years, there’s a need for quality instruction together with associated reading for people to maintain as a reference.
Inasmuch as no national or state standards exist for permitting concealed or open carry, books like Kevin’s are necessary to educate and inform those wanting to arm themselves. Some states require both classroom and range, while others only have applicants attend instruction in a classroom or online. Regardless, one day of instruction is hardly adequate to train someone to properly carry and discharge a firearm. Moreover, not requiring range time as part of the permit process is questionable at best.
Citizen’s Guide enumerates responsibilities armed citizens have, vis-a-vis the 2nd Amendment. Most importantly, the author emphasizes that citizens must know the law, be slow to anger, and conservative in their willingness to display or threaten with firearms, be prepared for police response, be educated about legal rights and the criminal justice process—particularly, liabilities, financially, politically, and more.
The author discusses, “The Reasonable Person Doctrine,” which essentially asks the question, “Would a reasonable person under the same circumstances, knowing what you knew at the time, likely have used deadly force in self defense?” And of course the bottom line is convincing each member of the jury that they each would have taken the same action. Davis reinforces his teaching points with case studies and law, as well as quotes from eminent trainers such as Mas Ayoob.
Chapter Four is an invaluable section dealing with the most common situations armed citizens find themselves confronting, e.g., a stranger firing at you, a family member, or someone else; a stranger attacking you with a knife or edged weapon; and incidents such as burglary. Kevin explains each scenario and defines courses of action within the law. This section also looks at stand your ground laws, which are recognized by 33 states.
Another chapter in this valuable book is dedicated to tactics. The author discusses things such as ambushes, particularly, clerks working alone in late night convenience stores. Davis references Gavin DeBecker’s book, The Gift of Fear, which reminds us to pay attention to “gut feelings.” Of course tactics mean nothing without the proper firearm, and Davis devotes time to this important topic the average citizen is most often confused about. He discusses semi-autos vs. revolvers, caliber and ammunition, and some myths about stopping power of certain rounds.
Cover and concealment are terms often misunderstood by the public. That said, the author gives a detailed explanation of both, and provides photos demonstrating each position. He also delves into shooting from and into vehicles, and the efficacy of handgun and rifle rounds—something cops should probably read.
Perhaps the most important part of Chapter Five: Tactics, is the dynamic of movement and how it affects shooting accuracy. Most CCW classes that include range time cover familiarization only. There is a static firing line (understandably) as well as static targets. However, as cops know, the real world is far from static. Bad guys are moving and so are we. Therefore, that perfect stance, grip, breathing, sight alignment and sight picture, and trigger squeeze are hardly perfect when the sh** hits the fan. Citizens need to know how to best operate their weapon when movement is involved. Kevin does a good job of explaining and providing case studies as examples.
Another important chapter in Citizen’s Guide is, “The Armed Citizen’s Response To The Active Killer.” This section lists a number of active shooter tragedies from past years, and perhaps how the outcomes may have differed if an armed citizen had intervened. The author points out that, “. . . when pressed by an armed response the killer often took his own life, thus ending his continued killing.” He then provides case studies proving the assertion and fact.
Cited in the book is a 2013 study by Texas State University which researched active shooter incidents from 2000-20013. Some of their findings:
- There were 84 active shooter events
- Business locations (37%), followed by schools (34%) were favored targets
- Pistols were used in 60% of cases, followed by rifles, 27%
- Attackers carried multiple weapons in 41% of attacks
- Attacks ended before police arrived 49% of the time
Davis points out that the armed citizen is not expected to hunt down active shooters, however, being armed and trained puts them at a distinct advantage over those unarmed. He advises some tactics when confronted by an active killer:
- Understand the killer wants nothing but a high body count
- The killer wants to go out in a blaze of gory
- They don’t want a fight
- The killer(s) are counting on their victims being compliant
- You must act aggressively and decisively
- Be aware of the possibility of multiple suspects
The above are but a few of the points Davis offers, and I might add that police officers should be aware of these points as well.
Citizens Guide To Armed Defense is a well thought out, well researched, and expertly written book for those willing to shoulder the responsibility of exercising their 2nd Amendment right. It’s a great reference book that should be on any armed individual’s bookshelf. Violence in our society is becoming ubiquitous and commonplace. The police, more often than not, will not arrive in time to prevent someone from robbing or assaulting you—it’s up to you to defend yourself.
If you don’t believe you can make a difference by arming yourself, consider what Detroit Police Chief James Craig said about armed citizens in his city: “Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon. I don’t want to take from the good work our investigators are doing but . . . criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.” Case in point—robberies, break-ins, and carjacking all declined in Detroit as a result of an armed citizenry.
Massad Ayoob Group: http://massadayoobgroup.com/
–John Wills (This review previously printed in Officer.com.)
EXCERPT FROM A NOVEL IN PROGRESS
Here is a brief excerpt from my latest novel in progress—The Tale of the Lizard. One of the characters, DeAndra, is a drone pilot suffering from PTSD. I just read yesterday that a movie with Ethan Hawke has just been released, in which he plays a troubled drone pilot. Guess they got a copy of my manuscript.
Becoming an RPA operator—a remotely piloted aircraft, as the Air Force called them—had seemed like the perfect move in DeAndra’s career. Some said that piloting a drone was a dead end in the military, but DeAndra didn’t care. Someone mentioned the long hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of high stress, but all that mattered to her was that the pay was good and that she wouldn’t have to face another foreign deployment. Becoming a drone pilot meant she could stay in the Air Force as a single mother and raise her troubled son in the suburban confines of Creech Air Force Base, outside Las Vegas. She didn’t even need real flight experience; in fact, they told her the people who grew up playing video games made the best drone pilots. After several months of training, DeAndra qualified to pilot a $15 million Reaper armed with Hellfire air to ground missiles and the larger, laser guided bombs.
Each morning, after she finished her coffee and donut, and sent her son off to school, she took the ten-minute drive to one of the air-conditioned trailers that housed the drone flight consoles. In a matter of minutes, she was 7,500 miles away in Afghanistan, providing “overwatch,” and tracking Taliban combatants across the sand and scrubby hills. For the next 10 hours, the distractions of her daily life and the concerns about her son were pushed aside as she piloted the drone and the sensor operator who worked next to her controlled the cameras, radar and targeting systems. They sat together in the semi-dark, in front of an array of computer screens and a communications console. Ninety-five percent of their time was devoted to surveillance and reconnaissance, directed by mission intelligence officers located in other places—men they spoke to but never saw. When a call came in from an attack controller on the battleground, instructing them to drop bombs or fire missiles at a target, the adrenaline kicked in. Sometimes the orders were specific—“Drop a guided bomb on that exact spot.” Sometimes DeAndra and her sensor operator had wide latitude—“I want you to kill those guys right there.”
In the beginning, she felt a spike of excitement when they confirmed a target and launched a precision strike, knowing they were making a kill to protect American troops. But before the authorization to fire came, they sometimes loitered in the sky and followed their prey for hours or even days at a time, studying the daily routines and waiting for their targets to separate from the other men, women and children around them. Eventually the personalized nature of the killing began to bother DeAndra. Even though she was sitting thousands of miles away, she had begun to feel an eerie familiarity with the people she was targeting, and watching them live and then die was beginning to trouble her. The “squirters,” the targets who squirted or ran away from the incoming missile, were the worst.
“You have to anticipate the sonic boom time,” her instructor had warned her. “Depending on the angle of your shot, it can be as much as eight seconds between the boom and the impact. When that happens, your target will run. Everyone in Afghanistan knows that when they hear a boom, they should run, because we’re overhead. Some of these guys can run fast. There aren’t any fat Afghans.”
More than once, DeAndra had sat transfixed, seeing a victim react to the sonic boom and look up seconds before the “splash,” or impact of the missile. Afterward, when the smoke cleared, the image of the human being had disappeared, and all she saw was a crater in the ground. After routinely raining down missiles and laser-guided bombs from the sky, DeAndra found it harder and harder to return to daily life at the end of her shift.
During that afternoon, on her last day of active duty, she and the sensor operator had been tasked with striking a high-level Taliban fighter standing in a compound. In the final countdown, following procedure, the sensor had clarified their aim point and kept the laser spot on the target, while she had called, “Three, two, one, rifle,” then pressed the red button on the joystick, and fired the missile. In the few seconds before the impact, DeAndra watched in disbelief as someone or something unexpected ran around the corner of the building. She was certain it was small and two-legged. It was a human being.
“Was that a kid? Did we just kill a kid?” DeAndra asked her sensor.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Jesus, was it a kid?”
“Yes,” she said. “I think it was a boy,”
“No it was not,” an intelligence officer interrupted. “It was an animal. That was a goat or a dog.”
The image had appeared quickly, and it was indistinct because it was dark and they were using infrared. But there was no doubt in DeAndra’s mind—it was a small person, about the same size as her 12-year-old son. She decided it was a boy, and after she watched the detonation of the missile warhead on the monitor, a cold sensation had crept into her body. She had killed a child.
Two years passed, and neither therapy at Veteran’s Affairs hospitals nor any of several different anti-depressants had helped DeAndra. At night, her dreams were haunted. During the day, she lost her concentration, suffered through dark moods and often cried. She left the Air Force and found a less demanding job with Customs and Border Protection. They chose to overlook her psychological issues because they needed experienced drone pilots. She moved from one Air Force base in Nevada to another in Southern California, where her new job was to fly a Guardian, the maritime version of the Predator drone. She felt much better about flying a drone without the bombs and missiles, and was thankful not to have to lase a human target and watch the splash of a deadly explosion. On her good days, when she scanned the waters off the west coast of Mexico and Southern California for the movement of illegals and drugs, she was alright, and she felt like a normal person. The problem was the bad days, when the image of the boy haunted her, and she was exhausted from lack of sleep. Those were the days when she struggled to just hang on.
OFFERING A FREE BOOK ON KINDLE
You may want to know why anyone would want to do this? Read on to the end, and you’ll understand why.
For the first five days of May, my publisher (at my request) offered Final Respects–the first book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, free on Kindle.
The misadventure part:
First I thought it would be good if Final Respects was free period, not for a limited time. There was a place who would advertise it for free if it was always free. My publisher and her assistant tried to make it that way and Amazon nixed it.
So, I told them put it up free for 5 days, May 1-5 and I merrily went about setting up the promotion on every free and some paid sites I could find.
While I was busy doing that, the Kindle version disappeared from Amazon.
Well not at first, but in order to have the 5 free days, it had to be taken off then reinstating. When this happened, it got a new AISN–which meant the information I’d sent off to all the promo sites was now wrong.
And do you think I kept a list of all these promo sites? No. I did know which ones I’d paid money too though–so then I began the task of informing each website about the new AISN #. Some places I had to redo everything, others fixed it for me. And I did find most of the free promo sites which I fixed. This process took all day and I may have missed some.
Now the adventure part:
May 1 came and I got busy promoting on my own, Facebook, Twitter, my Facebook groups, the listserves I’m on including the one for PSWA.
The end of that first day there had been 1400 plus downloads. And the book was #70 in the free Kindle mysteries and #2 in mystery/police procedurals. And I also received one new review, a good one.
On the fourth day there were 4937 downloads, but the book had moved up to #100 in the free Kindle mysteries and #3 in mystery/police procedurals. (In case you didn’t know, low numbers are better than high.)
My publisher reported that there had also been 10 sales of other books in the series. (Which is the whole reason authors do the free book promotion, to interest people in their series.)
On the fifth day, there were 5,970 downloads and 25 sales of other Kindle books in the series.
So at this point, I was happy.
–Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith
PUBLISHING ON CREATESPACE
Have you thought you’d like to try Indie publishing but didn’t know where to start?
I was in the same place, wondering how to publish my book without handing it over to a traditional publisher. Nothing against traditional publishers. I just wanted to stay in control of my book project and not end up on someone else’s schedule.
So … I talked to a couple of vanity press publishers, asked some author friends about their experience, and posted a question on the PSWA listserv. I found many self-publishing options. Then I discovered CreateSpace, a self-publishing company affiliated with Amazon.
CreateSpace isn’t the only Indie publisher around, but it’s the one I’ve heard the most about. Other PSWA authors have published on CreateSpace and report that it worked well for them. There’s no cost to publishing on CreateSpace. There are optional services available for purchase but it isn’t necessary to use them.
CreateSpace uses a print-on-demand concept that works like this:
Someone buys a book online.
The book gets printed and shipped to the buyer.
I liked the print-on-demand idea because my nonfiction book was written for a niche market that can buy it online. It isn’t going to be sold to the general public in book stores. Once I let potential readers know where they can buy the book, the rest is easy. No searching for it in book stores.
How did my manuscript go from a Word document to becoming a book for sale on Amazon? It was simple.
Taking the advice of other authors, I hired a professional book editor. This was after dire warnings of: “Don’t try to edit your own writing.” A couple of librarians told me that a nonfiction book should have an index if it’s going to be placed in a library. The editor did the index for my book too. Thank goodness. Have you ever tried to build an index for a book you’ve written? It’s painful!
Once the book had been edited and the index was in place, I was ready to hire a formatter. A small but important point: the page numbers in the index couldn’t be included until the formatter had done his work and all the page numbers were in place. It’s easy to see why. Page numbers can’t change once they’re noted in the index. Not a big problem. The editor and formatter sorted it out by email
Now my book was ready to go. It had been edited, formatted, and had a cover designed. Time to upload to CreateSpace.
This turned out to be the easiest part. I uploaded two files. One was the manuscript and the other was the cover. The CreateSpace software joined them to make a book. First though, the files went through two check points to confirm they met the requirements for production as a print book. The first check point was automated. The software checked the files and sent them on to the second check point, a person. Twenty-four hours later I received an email that my book was good to go.
It all worked out. My book is available on Amazon, right up there with the big kids. Now, as with a book published by a traditional publisher, it’s up to me to let readers know it’s available.
My next challenge is to make the book available on Kindle. It looks like a simple process but no doubt will be another interesting piece of my Indie, self-publishing journey.
FROM MEMBER JACKIE ZORTMAN
My second book, winner of the First Place Award in last year’s PSWA Writing Competition in the Fiction Non-Published category will be released on June. I only have the ARC cover to display at this time and don’t know if it will remain the actual cover or not.
Footprints in the Frost introduces homicide detective, Max Richards, and involves his life, both on the job and away from it. When he is hand-picked by the chief of police to work a long and complicated serial rape case involving five beautiful victims with whom he must spend much time, his life with girlfriend and bookstore owner, Sami Murphy, becomes extremely complicated.
Escaping from the city hustle and bustle to his beautiful and remote Colorado mountain cabin, the two of them attempt to relax and try to untangle the knots in their relationship. What will happen to this couple who are tremendously bonded, but have to decide if their jobs and lives can meld permanently or if it would be better to go their separate ways?
A few reviews:
Love Trumps Evil In Colorado
By John M. Wills (Fredericksburg, VA USA)
A hard-nosed detective meets his match in a beautiful bookstore owner. Max Richards is busy trying to stop a serial rapist terrorizing the women in a Colorado town. Despite the long hours the investigation requires, Max still finds time to carry on a relationship with Sami Murphy. Although both have been married before, each secretly contemplates a future together. However, they wonder if the stress and time spent by Max investigating cases might be a deal breaker.
Jackie Taylor Zortman expertly captures the flavor of scenic picturesque Colorado, as she describes the couple’s romantic escape to a mountain cabin. Her prose is beautiful, and the story has enough zip to prod the reader to turn the next page. It’s a quick, satisfying read most people will enjoy.
By M. M. Gornell – Published author with six books – latest “Rhodes the Mojave Stone”
Jackie pulls the reader right into Footprints in the Frost from page one, then continues to reveal the ups and down of a unique relationship between a very likable couple you can’t help but root for—while simultaneously enticing the reader’s sense of justice with “on the mark” and dedicated police work details. Didn’t want to stop reading until the satisfying end. And then there’s the added bonus of Lotus…
By Nancy LiPetri – Author of “The Wooded Path”
Jackie Taylor Zortman knows what real cops go through, both on the streets and behind the scenes. In “Footprints in the Frost,” she keeps you flipping pages to sort out a string of disturbing crimes, to see if Detective Max Richards will get his man…and also to see if his steamy relationship with lovely girlfriend Sami keeps its sizzle despite the challenges of a cop’s life. I was honored to receive an advance reader edition.
By Marilyn Meredith – Published Author – latest book “Violent Departures”
Though listed as a mystery, I’d classify this charming tale more as a romance with a touch of police procedure.
Bookstore owner Sami, loves Max who is a police detective, but not sure if she’s ready for marriage. Max loves Sami, but is too busy with investigating a serial rapist to spend the time with her he’d like. They share many common interests, but they have many obstacles to overcome before they can make a decision about their future life as a married couple. One of the big pluses of this story is the wonderful Colorado settings. I needed to keep reading not only to find out if Max caught his man, but also if how the relationship between Sami and Max would turn out.
Editor’s Note: All the reviews happen to be by members of PSWA.
— Jackie Taylor Zortman
Bio: Jackie Taylor Zortman is an award winning published writer/author. Her book “We Are Different Now” tells of her journey with grief after the accidental death of her 21-year-old grandson when he fell 100 feet off a mountain ledge in the pitch black of night on July 5, 2010.
She has written numerous articles and short stores for various publications via the Public Safety Writers Association since 1994 and has won five writing awards. She is a contributing author to the anthologies “Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides”, “American Blue” and “The Centennial Book of the National Society of Daughters of the Union”. She has poetry published in “Echoes From the Silence” and “Dusting Off Dreams”. She also contributed to Lyn Ragan’s book “Signs From The Afterlife” released in January 2015. In addition, she also writes genealogy and history.
In July 2013, she won two awards in the Public Safety Writers Association’s Writing Contest for her articles “Amache” and “The Siege at Cortez”. In July 2014 she won three awards, including First Place for”Footprints in the Frost” and articles “Just Routine” and “In God We Trust”.
She lives in a bustling quaint tourist town in the beautiful mountains of Colorado with her husband, and both are retired.
M. (Madeline) Gornell has a new book out, Rhodes, The Mojave Stone.
For sure, there are many events and stories hidden underneath shifting desert sands, and quite possibly many of these tales are doomed to ride ad infinitum on relentless desert winds—ghosts trapped on a plane-of-existence they can never escape. The town of Shiné (Shy-knee) is a fictional concatenation of several of these magical places, fanciful thoughts, and hidden dramas. A place where provocative and unanswered questions actually escape the entrapment of Mojave winds—and take center stage.
Hopefully, the small fact Shiné does not exist will not dissuade you from visiting…
My book, Harry: A Study of Teenage Mass Murderers was released last December in time for the holidays. It is published by M&B Global, a small publishing company dealing not only with true crime, as is my book, but topics of general interest. This publishing duo pulled me out of the morass of my first publisher, and relit the fire under me. The story of getting published is an interesting side story.
In 1963, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, 17 year old, Harry Hebard murdered his entire family of five, father, step-mother, step-brother and twin step-sisters. This could very well be the first documented progeny mass murder in the state’s history. Media from across the nation covered the story. Harry was arrested the day following the massacre, and has been institutionalized since; first in the county jail, then a state forensic hospital until he could aid in his defense, then the state prison system. Incidentally, my father was the lead investigator on the case.
Although Harry is the masthead case, he is not the only story. The book addresses the six types of homicide, school shooters, a timeline of mass killings in Wisconsin following Harry, a profile of the youthful killer by an FBI profiler (ret.), as well as a look into Harry’s psyche.
I am now in the very early stages of research into my next true crime book addressing a serial killer in our prison system.
Buy link: http://amzn.to/1vLo0cM
John Addiego has a new book too.
In The Jaguar Tree, tropical storm winds topple a tree in Nicaragua, unearthing the bones of three men killed 20 years ago. Frank Alvarado, an American cop who has come to Central America on a personal mission to retrieve a little boy, is urged by a priest to help in the murder investigation. Traveling down the San Juan River in search of the boy, Alvarado get entangled with drugrunners in a web of deceit leading to the boy’s whereabouts: the hidden compound of El Tigrillo (the Jaguar), a sadistic mercenary commander. Here, in the heart of the jungle, Alvarado finds the source of old crimes and new as he discovers the identity of the triple murderer.
Second Careers for Street Cops by John Eldridge
John Eldridge was a member of the Vancouver Police Department for twenty-six years. He followed that with an eleven-year second career. He wrote this book as a guide for law enforcement officers looking for a second career. Through his job search and transition into a career after policing, John realized the lack of second career information available specifically for police officers. Second Careers for Street Cops is his down-to-earth, practical advice for street cops who want to move on to a new work life after their law enforcement careers.
Learn how to draw on the best parts of your police experience.
Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Find the right resources.
MEET THE MEMBERS
Mysti Berry’s connections to Las Vegas are old and deep—she was a sixth grader here during the first year of the Sixth Grade Center Plan. Her mother’s death in an airplane accident a few years later sent the family to back to California, but Mysti’s affection for the desert and the people of the region has never waned.
Though she became a technical writer, working for companies as diverse as 20th Century Fox and Salesforce, Mysti has an obsession with financial fraud investigation. If she’d known there were such things as forensic accountants when she was young, she’d have chosen that field instead of software technical writing.
Understanding story structure and the intertwined relationship of character, theme, premise, and plot are Mysti’s favorite hobbies, followed by travel and arguing with her graphic novelist husband Dale Berry about the definition of “noir.” She is immune to Valley Fever and the siren call of gambling, no doubt due to early childhood exposure.
Mysti Berry has an MFA from the University of San Francisco, and a Professional Certificate from the UCLA Screenwriting Program, and has served on the board for Sisters in Crime Northern California. She’s spent the last twenty-five years as a technical writer for companies as diverse as 20th Century Fox and Salesforce, her current employer. Her first novella, The Last Vacation, is due out from Stark Raving Press. She has short stories published in anthologies, including the PSWA’s Felons, Flames, and Ambulance Rides. She’s currently working on the first in a series about a fraud investigator who stumbles across missing casino millions and murder. You can read more about her at mystiberry.com, or read her blog posts every other Wednesday on theLadyKillers.typepad.com.
Vicki Weisfeld writes crime and mystery stories, has six published short stories, two of which have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and has written a pair of novels near completion. She reviews books, movies, and a lot of et cetera on her website: www.vweisfeld.com and reviews crime novels and thrillers for Crime Fiction Lover.
Karen Solomon introduces herself this way:
I didn’t choose to become a writer, writing chose me. I’d been blogging about sick kids and underdogs for a year when the media brought Darren Wilson and Michal Brown to my house, my husband and my children. Frankly, none of us were happy about it. There came a point when I simply couldn’t take it any more and realized that I could do for policing what I had been doing for Mitochondrial Disease, Larsen’s Syndrome and more. I could tell the stories that no one hears, I could let people know that they simply need to listen and they will hear that there are things we don’t see in the news, things we don’t sensationalize.
Armed with a mission to let people know that police have more good stories than bad, I interview officers around the country and told short stories about them. Since they aren’t my stories, the proceeds of the book Hearts Beneath the Badge, are going to law enforcement charities.
In hearing those stories, I heard more – PTSI, Depression, lack of benefits, abandonment by their departments and death. So much sadness. That sadness is being compiled into a book The Price They Pay which will be released later this year; the proceeds will also go to LE charities.
I’m married to a police officer, have 2 young boys and belong to an online police wife support group. Having moderated the boards and getting to know the families, I wanted to do something simple for them, I wanted to thank them, thank my husband and reassure my children that everything would okay. That’s why I began writing. Now I can’t stop. Which is unfortunate because I work full time, who doesn’t want to quit their job and write full time?
As for me, I’m a Massachusetts native who’s traveled the world, attended college in Florida and lived in Georgia, Boston and Nantucket. Now I happily reside in my hometown on 2 acres of land with vegetable gardens, fruit trees and more snow than I’ll ever have use for in the winters.
I’ve had articles published on PoliceOne, UniformStories, Grieving Behind the Badge, Safe Call Now, PoliceMag, To Write Love on Her Arms and many other blogging platforms. My viral post (100K hits in 3 days) 10 Reasons You Should Not Care About Police opened the door and the gained the trust of law enforcement around the world.
I don’t know where writing will lead me but I am happy to have found it and to have found such a lovely group of people who are willing to support each other.