PSWA Newsletter-September 2016

PSWA Newsletter
September 2016


  • “ON THE ROAD AGAIN…” Safe Driving Habits (part 1)


After 11 years as PSWA president, Marilyn Olsen is stepping down this month and will be succeeded by current board vice president, Michelle Perin, who for several years has managed the association’s writing competition.

Marilyn will remain on the board as vice president and will become writing competition chair.  Mike Black will continue as conference program chair, Nancy Farrar will continue as Treasurer and Marilyn Meredith, as newsletter editor.  Tim Dees will also remain on the board and will facilitate the AV portion of the conference as well as maintain the organization’s electronic equipment.  The board will be selecting a new secretary, a post held for many years by Keith Bettinger.

The Board is pleased to welcome two new members:  Mysti Berry and John Shembra.

Mysti holds an MFA from the University of San Francisco as well as a professional Certificate from the UCLA Screenwriting Program and has served on the Board of Sisters in Crime Northern California.  All of this year’s conference attendees gave high marks to the writing clinic created and hosted by Mysti and Mike Black as well as her excellent role as moderator of several panels. Mysti’s short story, “The Johnny Depp Kickline of Doom” was published in the June 2016 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and she is currently working on the first in a series about a fraud investigator who stumbles across missing casino millions and murder.

John Shembra has been a member of PSWA for many years. A Vietnam veteran and combat MP, he retired in 2001 after 30 years as a Pleasant Hill Police officer and now is an instructor in at the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department’s Emergency Vehicle Operations Course as well as a prolific writer whose books include, MP, A Novel of Vietnam, Retribution, Diplomatic Immunity and Sin Eater.

We greatly look forward to the expertise and enthusiasm Mysti and John will bring to your board.

Major tasks for the coming year will involve improving and updating the website as well as planning an even better conference for 2017.

If you have any ideas for ways your organization can better serve its members, we are always open to suggestion.


Michelle-Perin-200Hello fellow PSWA members. Many of you know me but let me tell you a bit more about myself. I am a Navy brat. I’m also a Navy veteran. At 17 I signed my name (actually my mom had to because I couldn’t legally enter a binding contract because I was a minor) and spent 4 years shipboard. I love the ocean and all bodies of water actually. I spent most of my time floating around the west coast. After the military, I moved to Phoenix and joined the police department. In 2008, I finally came back to Oregon where I was born and most of my family resides. I have two sons, Marc who will be 21 next month and Dean who will be 16. Many of you have met Dean at the conference. In 2010, I earned my Masters in Criminology & Criminal Justice from Indiana State University. In 2012, I joined South Lane County Fire & Rescue, a combination fire department responsible for 300 square miles of fire coverage and 800 square miles of medical coverage. The two cities we cover, Cottage Grove and Creswell have a combined population of about 15,000 people. We are certified to do both structural and wildland firefighting as we have a lot of urban-wildand interface. I earned my Firefighter I certification, then went back to school to get my EMT certification. I’m working on my Firefighter II task-book. Although I am technically a volunteer, I work 24 hour shifts alongside my career counterparts. Let me tell you, it is a real challenge for this confirmed bachelorette to try and sleep in a dorm full of snoring, farting men. We all get along and they’ve learned not to talk to me before I’ve ingested my first cup of coffee in the morning. I’ve continued writing in the public safety genre exploring new non-fiction opportunities such as writing for Survivor’s Edge and Tactical Knives, as well as, doing some corporate projects.

For the last ten years, I have been a proud member of the PSWA. I remember going to my first conference in 2006. I had just left my job as a 911 Dispatcher and moved up to Lake Linden, Michigan (my parents were there at the time having retired from their last duty station in da nort’) to pursue my dream of writing full-time. I found the PSWA on-line, discovered the upcoming conference and knew that if I wanted to take my writing career seriously I needed to gain some contacts, get a support group and network. When I got to Las Vegas that first year, I realized I gained all of that and more with this wonderful group of people. I pitched a column about communications to Tim Dees who was the editor-in-chief of at the time. He told me to send him six months worth of ideas and a bit more about my background. I have been writing that column every month since then. In the last decade, I have grown as a writer with hundreds of credits to my name, a story in two anthologies and am in the process of writing my first book-length work. In the organization, I took over the annual writing contest, became the Contest Chair, and joined the Board eager to help make the PSWA the best it could be and make sure that we continue to offer the same support to others that was offered to me. Last year I took over as Vice-President.

Now I come to you, the members and backbone of this amazing organization, with a humble and grateful heart, an eye towards improvement and a head full of ideas. With fire and grit, I’m taking over the position of President from Marilyn O. who has led the PSWA for years with class, poise and energy. She will always be the Queen.  I am more of a Xena, Warrior Princess-type. Hear me roar.

As many of you are aware, we are in the process of making numerous positive changes within the organization. We have asked Mysti Berry and John Schembra to join the Board. Welcome! At our last meeting, we also outlined all the different areas of the PSWA and what we can do to make each area better. Our main goal is to offer the most valuable organization to you our members. We will continue to focus on being inclusive and welcoming, putting on the friendliest, most valuable conference we can, offering a writing contest allowing you to become an Award-Winning author and just being a great organization with fabulous people. We are always open to feedback so if you have ideas you want to have considered, let me know. I hope to carry the torch proudly and represent the best of the PSWA. Thank you for this opportunity, keep writing and stay safe.

Michelle J.G. Perin, MS, Firefighter I/EMT


Mike-Black-200Our eleventh annual PSWA Conference last July 14th through the 17th went off flawlessly and got overwhelmingly positive reviews from those who attended. That’s not to say that there weren’t a few behind the scenes glitches, but those were handled with aplomb by our excellent conference organizers. My hat goes off to our alpha geek, Tim Dees, who worked tirelessly to keep the tech stuff going. Tim also prepared all of our visual stuff for the conference and the presentations. Another thanks goes to our Las Vegas ground team, Jack Miller, Scott Decker, and Ron Corbin, who not only acted as the board’s representatives in dealing with the hotel, the Las Vegas tourism center, Houdini Press, and a host of others, but did a lot of extra work as well assisting both Nancy Farrar and myself with bulletproofing the essentials in Vegas. A special thanks to both Jack and Ron who graciously allowed books and conference material to be sent to their homes. (I gave each of these fine gentlemen a special Superman pin that was affixed to their badge holders in recognition of their “superhuman” efforts.) Former PSWA Secretary, Keith Bettinger, was recognized for his long service to the organization in a brief ceremony, and he was given a well-deserved life membership award. We also did moments of silence for our fallen brothers in law enforcement from Dallas and Baton Rouge.

Each of our presenters this time was outstanding. Mysti Berry led off with her excellent and informative session on “Writing Effective Dialogue.” Scott Decker gave us an exciting and excellent insider’s view of the Anthrax Attack Incident, and provided a one-of-a-kind perspective of someone who was involved in the investigation. Doug Wyllie, editor of PoliceOne, provided an excellent program of how to write non-fiction articles for the web, and Larry and Lorna Collins did their well-known, “Writing the Perfect Pitch” presentation on Sunday morning.

Additionally, we had a variety of great panels, which were informative and entertaining, and led by skilled moderators who kept things on track. This was the first year we offered a pre-conference writer’s workshop, which was taught by Mysti Berry, Marilyn Meredith, and me. We were able to cover some of the writing techniques we have found successful, and also offered personal, one-on-one critiques of submitted manuscripts.

Our Saturday night presentation of the old time radio play, “Ellery Queen and the Mystery of the Murdered Ship,” was performed to hilarious perfection by our group of PSWA players. Steve Scarborough, who also helped me with the rewriting of the play, reprised his starring role as Ellery Queen. Joe Haggerty once again played Sgt. Velie, and Bob Haig did another crucial role as the unnamed Government Man. First time players, John Wills played Inspector Queen, and Elena Hartwell assumed the role of Ellery’s affectionate and starry-eyed secretary, Vickie Porter. We also had some fine character based performances by our own Queen, Marilyn Olsen, as a Southern Belle, Mrs. Brown, and Barbara Hodges as Mrs. Smith, a widow who was lamenting her late husband, “Dick.” Rabbi Ilene Schneider turned in a convincing performance as “Reverend Jones,” and Bob Doerr played it cool as the villainous Mr. Green. Tim Dees provided some excellent sound effects, as well as an old Bromo Seltzer commercial that had the announcer, me, chugging along.

The final event of the conference was the awards ceremony announcing the winners of the PSWA Writing Contest. Gorgeous Michelle Perin made the announcements and handed out the awards. A special thanks to Gloria Casale, who stepped in to be our official conference photographer when Sam Bradley had a conflict that prevented her from attending. I’d also like to thank Mr. Geno Munari, who not only appeared on our publisher’s panel, but did all the printing of the conference booklets gratis. Special thanks also to Austin Camacho, who was also on the publishers’ panel, and to Marilyn Meredith, who stepped in to represent Oak Tree Press when illness prevented Ms. Billie Johnson from attending. Best wishes to Billie on a speedy recovery.

We were on our way to a record number of new attendees this year, when unfortunate illnesses and medical issues, as well as sudden family concerns, caused an unexpected number of cancellations. Despite all of that, the “Lucky Eleven” PSWA Conference was one of the best ever. We’ve already reserved the block of rooms at the Orleans for next year’s conference, which will be held from July 13th to the 16th, 2017. Believe me, we’re already working to make it even more spectacular than the past one. Get ready to make your reservations soon.

Take care,
Michael A. Black


Marcia-Rosen-200Now what? Indeed!

There are numerous options for authors today to get their books in print, but many people have a room full of good-looking printed books they wrote and wonder, “What do I do now?”

From traditional publishing, self-publishing, independent publishing, and university presses to e-books, it’s important that you be sure your publisher will pay attention to your requests and needs, that they offer the expertise and experience to help you publish your book the way you want. However, it is also essential for you as an author to realize that publishing is only the beginning. You need an aggressive and comprehensive marketing plan incorporating traditional and social-media options and opportunities.

Who is going to read your book? Who will buy it?  Oh yes, of course some friends and family.  All traditional and self-publishers will tell you, “You need to market your book. YOU need to promote it, tell your story and create a buzz about it.”

I know you’re a writer. You’re a creative person. You really don’t want to do this. However, more and more, it’s a proven fact that writers do have to promote their books.    No matter how wonderful, interesting, compelling your book might be you still have to let the reading world know it exists. Ask any publisher or literary agent, and they will agree with me. Unless you market your book, chances are it will fall through the cracks of literary chaos.

Following are a very few of the many options now available. Good luck!

Marketing Options/Opportunities for Authors
Initial Concepts for “Creating A Buzz”

Traditional Marketing Actions

Author Book Launch

  •  Schedule book launch event, time/place and details
  • Develop invitation list, sign-in sheet, have books on-hand to sell
  • Send releases to media, announce on website and e-mail personal contacts

 Author Public Relations Actions

  • Develop “Pitch” letters for speaking opportunities
  • Develop press release to get calendar listings for signings and speaking dates
  • Submit online calendar listings on websites in target market
  • Issue press release for story pitches and review requests
  • Arrange to speak at target-appropriate conferences
  • Develop an “eye-catching” sell-sheet with your book cover, about your book and author. Great to add to online pitches media/publisher pitches

 On-Line and Social Media Actions (Just a few ideas)

Be sure to have some Book Swag (bookmarks, cards, flyers, pens, even t-shirts, etc.)

Goodreads Giveaway Programs

USA Book Awards

Kirkus Reviews

You can pay for a Kirkus review through their Indie program. Information about Indie reviews can all be found here:

There are many more to explore and consider.

Facebook Author Fan Pages; Post with Boosts

Costs vary. Can spend $5 per day or $100 for United States and any other country author wants to reach. Can be very effective in building social-media and website traffic. By the way South America countries provide huge responses.

Posts can include: Reviews, announcements, new books, links to book chapters, event dates, press releases, etc.

Blog Tours

If you can’t do your own I really liked In-tribute Blog Tours. Nicole was very helpful and responsive and I think that’s important with anyone we work with.

–M. Glenda Rosen (Marcia G.Rosen)
Author, Mystery Series, “Dying To Be Beautiful”
“Eliminate The MindBlocks and RoadBlocks to Success”

“On the Road Again…”

Safe Driving Habits (part 1)

ron_corbin_200Currently employed as a vehicle shuttler for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, I drive the streets and freeways of the Vegas area at least 19 hours a week, and that doesn’t count personal driving. And this being a city of many relocated residents and nearly 40 million visitors each year, I see the full gamut of driving attitudes and skills (or lack thereof) from all over the globe. So I’d like to share with you some things I’ve learned over half a century of driving many different kinds of vehicles…from compacts to commercial trucks.

Maybe you are the “World’s Best Driver,” but if nothing else, there might be one or two techniques that I can share, and which you can apply in your driving skills that will make your driving a little more pleasurable…and safer.

For a little credibility, I have been driving for fifty-five years without a traffic violation. I have been the primary teacher for my three kids and numerous grandkids when they got their first driving permits. I was also a high school drivers-ed teacher. The two non-injury accidents that I have been involved in, were both here in Las Vegas while I was stopped at a red light. The first time, two other vehicles collided and one side-swiped my truck. The second was when a DUI driver ran into the rear of my truck. (I think that I will quit stopping for red lights.)

3 Basic Causes to an Accident

Accidents are attributed to a lot of things: speed, DUI, following to close, inattention, distractions, running stop signs or red lights, unsafe lane changes or merging into traffic, etc. However, all of these things can basically be covered in a simple little catchphrase that’s easy to remember. It’s also one that you need to emphasize to your new teenage driver that just got their driver’s permit.

  • Hands off the wheel,
  • Eyes off the road,
  • Mind off the driving.

Any one of these has the potential to cause an accident, but adding the second and/or third tremendously enhances the danger odds of injury or fatalities from a car crash. Some common examples of each of these that I see every day are:

  • Hands off the wheel…putting on your makeup, eyelashes, or lipstick; a Big Mac in one hand and a Big Gulp in the other.
  • Eyes off the road…tuning the radio; setting or re-calculating the GPS; turning around to yell at the kids who are fussing and fighting in the back seat, or attending to a fussy baby.
  • Mind off the driving… You can see how these examples above also become a distraction that easily blend into this risk category. But there’s also a million other personal and work-related issues that causes one’s mind to wonder and lose focus on the task of driving.

So, can you tell me, what is the one common activity that most people are guilty doing and that encompasses all three of these risks at the same time? That’s right…TEXTING! But as a result of that law, guess what has happened? States that have made texting while driving illegal have actually created more propensity for people to get into accidents. That’s because people used to hold their cell phones above the steering wheel with some semblance of using their hands to steer and a little easier to keep their eyes on the road. Now since you can get a ticket with using a cell phone, drivers still do so but try to hide it from the police and they text with their phones in their laps, causing their eyes to shift down and away from watching traffic.

Mirror Adjustment

One thing that most drivers are deeply concerned with is “blind spots”; missing a motorcycle driver, another car, or a child or person to the rear and side of them. Here’s the best way to adjust both side mirrors and the rear view mirror to help eliminate this problem.

While sitting upright and comfortably in the driver’s seat, adjust the rear view mirror so that you can basically see the entire rear window. Adjust the mirror’s height so that minimal headliner and the back window ledge is seen.

Now lean a few inches to your left, almost placing your head against the driver’s door window. Adjust the left side mirror so that the left edge of your car just disappears from view. Now lean to the right about the same distance and adjust the right side mirror in the same manner. Properly set, this should allow a car that begins to pass you on either side to disappear from your rear view mirror and become visible in your left or right side mirror respectively.

In coming months, I will continue this safe driving discussion on:

  • Creating a Bubble of Safety & 12-Second Rule
  • Backing Into a Parking Lane
  • SMOG (changing lanes)
  • Stopping in Traffic
  • Hand Positioning on Steering Wheel
  • Getting Stopped by the Police
  • 65 mph vs. 80 mph
  • Finding Your Parked Car with the Key Fob

Until the next time, Stay Safe!

Ron Corbin


At the PSWA conference, I had a few people ask me the same two questions. First, they wanted to know how I got over 100,000 followers on Facebook. Secondly, people wanted to know how many hours a day I spend on social media because my page is always so active.

The short answer to both questions was, I automated my social media.

There are only so many hours in the day for working, writing, gym, and when possible sleep. So to create time I started looking at scheduling programs that automate posts going out on Facebook.

There are many automation services out there, and I have tried about a dozen. The two, in my experience, that are most worth it are Hootsuite and MeetEdger.

Hootsuite was one of the first automation systems I used, and somewhat still use. The best part of Hootsuite is it is free. They have paid plans, but the free one will do well for many.

When using Hootsuite, you get to schedule individual posts for up to a month out. Meaning every few weeks, you need to take a few hours to generate a calendar of posts.

MeetEdgar is what I currently use and love. Edger allows you to build a schedule template. On specific days at set times a type of post is sent out.

For example, every weekday at 11 AM I post an inspirational quote, at 3 PM on Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday a funny photo goes out. I have a template on Edgar that sends out five posts each day to my social media.

Edgar then also allows you to build a library of content. I currently have over 90 quotes, 120 funny photos along with other content in my library. Anytime I stumble on something new it takes me less than a minute to add it to the library.

So when I am working, sleeping, or taking my kids to the park posts are going out on social media. I can market myself 24/7 even when I am getting my much-coveted sleep.

There is a downside. Edgar costs $45 a month. For me, it is worth for others it might not be an expense they can justify.

  • You can find
    Hootsuite –
  • MeetEdgar –

–RJ Beam


Marilyn-Meredith-200This is a good time to write about a blog tour because I’m getting ready to embark upon one on September 3rd for my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.  My first host is PSWA member, John Wills. John has hosted me several times on his blog.

My first topic is about having two different publishers.

I started planning this particular tour a long time ago—when I knew Seldom Traveled would be published in mid-August. Because pub dates are never totally accurate, I decoded the tour would begin in September.

The next chore was finding all the hosts and settling on the dates. Some bloggers confine guests to certain days, so that has to be worked around. For me, it’s important to find bloggers who know what they are doing—believe me, not everyone does—and I also want those who are interested in mysteries and mystery writers.

Once I had the calendar lined up, it was time to write the posts for each blog. Some had given me topics for others I was on my own. Besides the topic at the end I included links including a buy link, a book blurb, and a short bio, I needed to send a .jpg photo of the book cover and one of me (I tried to send a different shot for each blog), and in some cases a photo pertinent to the blog topic.) This takes a lot of time—so I started right away.

Now, that the time is upon us for the tour, it’s up to me to promote where I am each day. I begin by making sure the post is actually up. Sometimes it’s not which means I have to email the host with a reminder.

On the day of the post, and a couple of days after, it’s important that I keep checking for comments and respond to them. And also to keep track of the names of those who comment, because I have a contest going. To see what it is, check out the tour.

Here are the first few stops after I visit John Wills:

September 4, Fiction Too Close to Fact

September 5, How Does a Mountain Setting Define Character?

September 6, How Real Life Propelled me Into Fiction

September 7, Promotion Over the Years

September 8, Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s Back Story

On each blog at the bottom is a link for the next day’s blog.

If you’d like, follow along, and see how it’s done, and if you’d like to do one. I’d love to host you on my personal blog:

–Marilyn Meredith


John-Wills-200Kevin 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.

–Review by John M. Wills


The-Storm-200x300John M. Wills has a new book coming soon called The Storm. Anna is struck by lightning while jogging. She lies in the hospital unidentified and in a coma before her husband locates her. When she finally awakens, she has no memory of her life with her husband, Mark. Anna suspected Mark may have been having an affair. She recorded her thoughts in a journal. On the day she was injured, she had planned to confront Mark about her suspicions. Mark, however, discovers his wife’s journal and hides it while she is hospitalized. Anna’s memory slowly returns in bits and pieces, but Mark is uncertain as to whether or not he should confess or wait and see if his wife’s memory includes her journal.



Seldom-Traveled-200Seldom Traveled is the latest in Marilyn Meredith’s Tempe Crabtree mystery series. Blurb: The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

Available in all the usual places, and directly from the publisher at:






CongraCode-Black-200x300tulations to PSWA member William Fleming!


Local Author receives national recognition from the 10th Annual National Indie Excellence® Awards!

BOSTON — The 10th Annual National Indie Excellence® Awards recognized Code Black by William Fleming and Joe Peters in the category of “Crime Fiction” as a winner in this year’s competition.

This prestigious National award is open to all English language books in print from small, medium, university, self and independently publishers.

The National Indie Excellence Awards exists to help establish independent publishing as a strong and proud facet of the publishing industry. Recognizing authors that put their heart and soul into their work, the NIEA is proud to be a champion of self-publishers and small and independent presses that go the extra mile to produce books of excellence in every aspect. Established in 2007, the NIEA competition is judged by independent experts from all aspects of the indie book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters.

Winners and finalists are determined based on ‘overall excellence of presentation in addition to the writing.’

Code Black is a crime fiction novel about an apparent terrorist strike one of Boston’s MBTA transit stations during the famed St. Patrick’s Day parade. The onslaught of federal and state officials turns the city into a chaotic police state. Only a veteran transit cop, jaded by his memories of growing up in the shadows of Boston’s forced busing and desegregation, knows the truth: The enemy is not some international terrorist cell but the politics and hubris that continually pit the haves and have­-nots against each other in one of the country’s oldest and most ­congested cities. Code Black delves into the many contradictions that shape Boston: wealth and poverty, liberal and conservative, academia and workin­g-class, and even black and white. Recipient of third place in the 2015 Public Safety Writer’s Association contest, Code Black is an historical fiction thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.

We are proud to announce the winners & finalists whose books truly embody the excellence that this award was created to celebrate, and we salute you all for your fine work, said NIEA Award sponsor, Ellen Reid, President & CEO.

2016 Writing Competition Winners

Fiction Book, Published
First Place J.L. Greger Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight
Second Place John Taylor OIS: Officer Involved Shooting
Third Place Nick Chiarkas Weepers
Honorable Mention J.L. Greger I Saw You in Beirut
Fiction Book, Non-Published
First Place Bruce O’Rourke Helicopter Hayes
First Place Gloria Casale Bioterror: The Essential Threat
Third Place Thonie Hevron With Malice Aforethought
Honorable Mention Kurt Kamm The Lizard’s Tale
Non-Fiction Book, Published
First Place Victoria Newman A Marriage in Progress
Second Place Kate Flora A Good Man with a Dog
Third Place Karen Solomon The Price They Pay
Honorable Mention John Eldridge Second Careers for Street Cops
Fiction Short Story, Non-Published
First Place Jim Guigli Blood on the Stairs
Second Place Gavin Keenan Unguarded Moments
Third Place Barbara Hodges Legacy
Honorable Mention Michael Brandt Whine & Wine
Creative Non-Technical, Published
First Place Jackie Taylor Zortman Memoriam
Second Place David Cropp Not ‘just the facts’: How cops can effectively communicate
Third Place Joseph Padilla The Shells We Wear
Honorable Mention Jackie Taylor Zortman The Legacy of a Fallen Comrade
Creative Technical, Published
First Place John Bellah The Vehicle Speaks
Second Place John Bellah LASD 2015 Police Vehicle Tests
Creative Non-Technical, Non-Published
First Place Ron Corbin When Pigs Fly
Creative Technical Non-Published
First Place John Bellah Hurlbut PBSC
Poetry, Non-Published
First Place Joseph Haggerty Sr. Walking a Beat
Second Place Joseph Haggerty Sr. My Smokey Mountain Woman



PSWA Newsletter–June 2016

PSWA Newsletter
June 2016





MikeBlack200x200Get ready…. Next summer’s PSWA Conference is right around the corner. On July 14th-18th we’ll once again gather at the beautiful Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas for the eleventh annual PSWA Conference. This year we’ve got some special things planned, including a pre-conference workshop that will offer some one-on-one instruction and critiquing to improve your writing. I do the programming for the conference, and I hope to have the program posted on the website shortly, if it’s not up there already. I’m always interested in hearing the topics you’d like to see on the agenda. Remember, the conference is all about the attendees. My fellow board members and I strive to keep the conference informative and a friendly, and I guarantee that it’ll be one of the most enjoyable and fun conferences you’ll ever attend. These are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Our diverse membership helps make the conference better each year.

Besides the workshop, which offers individual instruction and feedback from three professionally published authors, we’ll have some great speakers lined up, and we’ll be doing an old-time radio play once again. The panels are a mixture of sessions on writing and public safety topics, and don’t forget about our annual writing contest and awards ceremony. The contest offers opportunities to submit both your published and unpublished work in a variety of categories and possibly become an award-winning author. It’s a great opportunity to rub elbows with professionals in the fields of both writing and public safety. It’s also great chance to learn more about topical subjects and research that book you’ve been planning. The networking opportunities are fabulous, and the atmosphere is always cordial and friendly.

This year we’ll have three publishers in attendance, and they’re willing to hear pitches on your proposals. Although they’re happy to talk to you, we do ask that you have your “elevator pitch” ready. If you’ve got a manuscript that’s completed, and well-polished, they’ll be glad to hear about it, but please don’t approach them with “ideas for a great book” that you intend on writing one day. And resist the temptation to hand that hard copy to them at the conference. The old horror story of an anxious writer shoving a copy of his manuscript underneath the washroom stall while a publisher was taking care of personal business comes to mind. (You can imagine how that one turned out.) So, like I said, please have your act in order, which should include an elevator pitch, a completed manuscript ready to send upon request, and perhaps a synopsis that will sell your project.

The pre-conference workshop has a full house, but we might be able to squeeze in one or two more. As I said, it will be taught by experienced, published, professional writers. It includes personal instruction on writing techniques, and offers a chance to receive individual feedback on your writing. This is the kind of workshop that can take your writing to the next level.

And last, but certainly not least, think about the overall experience. You’ll have a chance to stay in a luxurious hotel for very reasonable rates, get some great meals, meet some fascinating and friendly people, and have some time to explore one of the most fascinating and energizing cities in the world: Las Vegas, Nevada. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot to see and do there, including many unique sights such as Hoover Dam, the Mob Museum (which contains an actual wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre), and many great shows to see. Many conference attendees tack on a couple extra days to explore the town and take in a show.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to send me an e-mail at and I’ll get back to you. As I’ve said before, the PSWA Conference may not be the biggest one of the year, but it’ll certainly be the best. If you attend, you won’t be disappointed.

I look forward to seeing you at the Orleans in July.

–Michael A. Black


Dees-200Most everyone who has ever used a computer is aware of computer viruses, and what they can do. You may be less aware of a relatively new type of virus or “malware,” called ransomware.

Ransomware installs itself on your hard drive and then starts encrypting either your files or encrypting the master boot record (MBR) at the root of the hard drive. The latter method is faster and more effective. Without the master boot record, your computer may know there are files on the hard drive, but doesn’t know what or where they are. Your files are essentially locked away from you.

A separate file, also stored in the root of the hard drive, displays a message that lets you know you have been had. Some versions appear to be from the Dept. of Homeland Security or the FBI, telling you that child pornography has been found on your computer, your computer has been locked down as a result, and that you will have to pay _____ to get the hard drive unlocked. Other versions just tell you to pay up or lose all your data.

Some earlier versions could be removed with software tools available on the web, but they took a long time and didn’t always work. My employer had this happen to his personal machine, and I was fortunately able to get the malware removed without having to pay.

The more recent refinements are not so easy to get rid of. So far, a sheriff’s office and a hospital, among many others, had to pay out five-figure ransoms to get their data back. The payments are demanded in Bitcoin, which is virtually untraceable.

The source for these malware attacks is usually in Russia or Ukraine, well out of reach of U.S. law enforcement authorities. They get to your computer by sending a “phishing” email message that asks you to click on a link that looks innocent. When you do that, the code downloads onto your drive, and the mischief begins. The bad guys have also been known to post file attachments that appear to be JPEG (*.jpg) images, attached to messages on a discussion forum. You click on the link that you think is a photo of some classic car or a fancy gun, and you get malware instead.

If you get one of these, chances are you will have to pay the ransom or lose your files. Older versions were removable with some effort, but the more recent attacks have been more durable. If you pay the ransom, the crooks usually will send you a code you can use to decrypt your data. However, they may leave behind code that they can use later to victimize you again.There are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Use a good antivirus program. Windows Defender comes built in with Windows, and it’s better than nothing, but still inadequate. My personal choice is Norton Security, which will cost you around $50 per year. If you have more than one computer (including tablets and smartphones), consider their Deluxe or Premier versions, which allow for five or ten installations, respectively. Run a full scan of your computer when you first install it, then later whenever it reminds you to do so.
  1. Also get the free versions of MalwareBytes and CCleaner (don’t bother with the paid, premium versions unless there is some feature there you truly need). Install these and run a scan with them about once a month. Both have features that will pop up at the appropriate times and remind you.
  1. Have a backup strategy for your files. You may not need to back up everything, but you no doubt have a book or articles you’re working on that are critical. Make sure your backup provides for saving past versions of files. If you have only one version and it gets encrypted and overwrites the non-encrypted version, you’re no better off than you were without the backup. One free option is to save your critical files to a cloud service like Dropbox or OneDrive, which preserve past versions of files for 30 days or so. These services also allow you to access your files from any internet-connected computer, and to share them easily. Make sure you use a good, secure password that you don’t use for anything else.
  1. Another backup option is Carbonite, which is as easy as backups get. Buy a subscription to Carbonite, install its software, and it will continually back up an unlimited number and size of files to the cloud, preserving previous versions as you go. This is the most expensive backup method, at about $60 per year, but it’s also fire-and-forget. Once you set it up, you’ll never have to worry about it again.
  1. Have a backup for the backup by making an archive drive. Large-capacity external hard drives are relatively cheap and smaller than a pack of cigarettes. You can get a 1TB (probably more than you will produce over your entire lifetime) external hard drive at Costco for less than $100. Once a month or so, preferably just after the security programs have run scans and given you a clean bill of health, copy your files to that hard drive. If you know how and there is enough space (buy an external drive at least as large as the one in your computer), make an image of your hard drive, and you’ll be able restore your programs, settings, and files later if something goes sideways, without having to reinstall everything. Put the external hard drive someplace very safe, or, better yet, store it off-premises. If your house burns down, your archive will still be safe.
  1. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, regard it with great suspicion. This goes triple if a link or the return address ends in a top level domain from a Slavic country, like .ru (Russia), .cz (Czech Republic), or .ua (Ukraine). Do not, under any circumstances, click on a link in those messages. If you get a message from someone you do know that looks suspicious, it may have come from a “spoofed” address. Your correspondent didn’t send it, but it looks as though he or she did. If the body of the message doesn’t look right, delete the message. Send a separate email message (do NOT just hit “reply”) to your friend and ask if the message really did come from them. The answer will almost always be “no.”

For as long as I have been doing this, I have regularly heard from one colleague or another that they lost all their emails, contacts, files, photos, whatever, due to a virus or a hardware failure. There is just no good reason for this to happen. Please take some steps to protect yourself and preserve your work.

–Tim Dees


I have been asked why I write books and stories, and I have asked others that same question. What I found was a similar reason among several of these writers and authors. I am going to take a wild stab and try to describe that reason.

One weekend my great grandson and my grandson came for dinner. I caught myself looking at both of them, especially my great grandson, and wondered at life. How great it is. How complex the human body is. How wonderful that a man and woman can create this. Then I had thoughts of how a woman must feel when she is pregnant. I put aside the morning sickness, the discomfort of swollen ankles, the cravings, the flux of hormones, and of being off balance with a bowling ball stuck out in front of her.

I wondered how it felt to bring life into the world, to feel life inside you, to feel that life grow, getting larger and larger. Then the strawberry shortcake arrived.

I lay in bed that evening running the day’s events through my mind. The thought of bringing life into the world returned.

My wife needed me at home due to illness and I felt I needed to do something constructive. I had thought before about writing the story of my childhood, my troubled teenage years and being in the service. I wanted my kids to know what I went through and how easy they have it now. But now, being retired, I had the time to do it although I did not have a thought of how to go about it. It sounded like it might be a fun thing to do and beside the soap operas were leaving me restless.

I found myself comparing writing a book to a woman’s pregnancy. Not that they are anything alike, but in my mind they could be similar. Both a baby and a book start with an idea, a plot and a desire. I had all three.

So I started to put words on paper and let them grow. There were discomforts along the way. No matter how hard I tried, some words seemed wrong or they did not seen to flow. Should that be a comma or a period? Is that word used properly? Eventually over a period of time, I had a manuscript. Not about my childhood but of a single situation I had been thrown into and I had to give birth to it. I loaded up the printer and pushed the button. Unlike the real thing, the only pain I had was the paper jams.

Then I read what I wrote and like a baby, it needed changing. Words, sentences, rearranging thoughts, lots of changes and some of them stunk as a child does on occasions. But I wanted my toddler to grow so I kept at it. Eventually my baby grew to be a complete story. A story so interesting that I felt it was something the entire world should read. Instead of giving it to my off spring and heirs I had it published. When I got my first hard copy I became a male mother. What a feeling.

Since then I have been a male mother seven additional times and God it feels good! Now my children, my books, are being exposed to the elements of society. I can only wish them success. Each is on their own just like my real children. They will be loved or tolerated or hated based on what they do, where they go and what others think of them.

And that is why I and many others write. We envy mothers. My great-grandson and my books will live on after me both carrying my name, and, after all, I think they both are the products of some pretty good genes.

Jack Miller, Retired Special Agent of, AFOSI & NSGCB; member VFW, TREA, Nellis Lodge 46 F&AM, FOP, AFRSV, Public Safety Writers Assoc., (PSWA) and Wednesday Warrior Writers. Author of Cold War Warrior; Cold War Defector; The Master Cheat; Operation Switch; The Medal, and Peacekeepers.


In the September 2015 issue of PSWA’s newsletter, Professor X wrote under his/her article titled “ANOMYMITY HAS ITS VIRTUE” suggesting the guideline for how to use an ‘s to form the plural of letters and words used as words in the context of the sentence. He/She gave this example:

“Jim got all A’s and B’s on his report card.”

Being the “trained investigator and security professional” that I am (tongue in cheek), I was able to discover Professor X’s identity and, as most “Professors” do, had an educated discussion with him/her on his/her suggestion. So with Professor X’s encouragement, I would like to supplement that tip with some additional guidelines on this grammar point.

First, let me emphasize that Professor X is correct with the example he/she gave. Let me repeat, Professor X gave correct information. But he/she left-out some relevant information with this grammar tip that might create some confusion when it comes to using figures or multiple letters, and particularly when used to show possessive forms.

According to “The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual” (copyright 1994), when single letters are used in a sentence, an ‘s should be used.

Mind your p’s and q’s.

He learned the three R’s in school.

The Oakland A’s won the pennant.

However, irregularities and exceptions to rules sometimes will come into play when using single letters and trying to show possession.

The Oakland A’s uniforms were stolen from their locker room.

or should it be…

The Oakland A’s’ uniforms were stolen from their locker room.


The double use of an apostrophe might meet basic grammar rules, but it’s obvious how awkward that looks. And I can’t find any rule as to how this dilemma would be handled. My personal recommendation is to NOT use two apostrophes. It looks like a typo.

Again, according to the AP, the next thing to consider is when using figures or multiple letters, add just an s to numbers or figures. 

The custom began in the 1920s.

The airline has two Boeing 727s.

Temperatures will be in the low 20s.

There were five size 7s. 

She knows her ABCs.

 I gave him five IOUs. 

However, using this rule for figures and multiple letters used as acronyms and abbreviations, adding apostrophes then become a little easier to apply and separate from the plural form of the word.

The Army GIs marched to the chow hall.

The GI’s rifle malfunctioned.

The GI’s M16s failed to pass inspection.

The GIs’ M16s were all dirty from the rain.

Notice the different placements of the apostrophes, or lack of, in the examples above.

The first example is easily understood to be more than one soldier marching.

The second example indicates there is one soldier with only on weapon.

Example number three still indicates one soldier who possesses multiple firearms.

And finally, the last example shows that there was more than one soldier with more than one weapon.

It should be noted at this time that some of these guidelines by the Associated Press are exceptions to Webster’s New World guidelines. So, there may be other reference sources that suggest other than what is mentioned here.

In summary, I just want to leave you with this. Thank goodness there are not several PSWAs around the country, because surely then all these PSWAs’ members would want to add their comments to this PSWA’s newsletter.

In keeping Professor X’s secret identity intact,

Respectfully Signed…

“Professor Y”


john_wills_200Your memory plays a very important role in your life as a cop. There are thousands of things a police officer needs to remember on a daily basis. Laws, both state and local, as well as department policies, can by themselves be overwhelming. While those are indeed important, the rules that govern our survival on the street trump all others.

How does memory fit into survival? Read on. By way of explanation, there is a distinction between short-term memory (also known as primary or active memory) and long-term memory. The simplest explanation of short–term memory is any information we acquire which is not rehearsed or actively maintained; it lasts mere seconds. Short-term memory is also limited—it can only hold about seven items for about 20 or 30 seconds.

If you were to ask someone about their understanding of what long-memory is they’d likely shrug and tell you it’s simply memory, or better yet, remembering things. However, before information can become long-term memory, most experts in the field believe information must first pass through sensory and short-term memory.

To illustrate what short-term memory is, think about the difficulty in remembering a phone number. After hearing it, you try to make a mental note, but seconds later when you try to dial the number, you’ve already forgotten it. Unless you’ve repeated the number and committed it to memory, the information is gone.

Now, let’s compare short-term memory to long-term memory. Since short-term memory is limited in both capacity and duration, for retention purposes, we must somehow transfer the info to long-term memory. How do we do that? Rehearsal. A good analogy of this procedure is studying for an exam, perhaps a promotional exam. You review the relevant information repeatedly until the facts are committed to memory. Unlike short-term memory, which is limited and disappears rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

What does all of this mean to you? Simply this—rehearsal, i.e., training, is the pathway to remembering the skills you may need to survive. For instance, range time assists us in permanently marking our mind with regard to firearm skills. Drawing from the holster and getting quickly on target each time is a skill that needs to be filed in our long-term memory. Wearing your weapon in the same spot, along with spare mags, taser, cuffs, etc., and practicing deploying them the same way each time, saves valuable time. When your training is consistent, your reaction time is reduced. As police officers, we know the quickest reaction time to obvious stimuli is ¼ – ½ second. We certainly don’t want to add to that time.

There’s an interesting process known as Myelinization. It causes the brain to quickly process sensory data, via synapses, by building direct pathways between neurons. This process enables us to act quickly and efficiently as the brain sends signals to the muscles to perform a particular motor skill. This Myelinization occurs through repetition in training. Again, firearms, DT, traffic stops, arrest plans, etc., all need constant review and rehearsal in order to fortify our long-term memory. This automatic response to stimuli gives us the ability to act without having to think about it first.

One last thing … how does sleep affect memory? Recent studies have shown that adequate sleep enhances memory for things such as word associations and virtual navigation tasks. The old adage, “sleep on it”, is good advice since the benefits of sleep on declarative memory performance (test taking) have been shown to improve with a good night’s rest. Conversely, sleep deprivation adversely affects hippocampal activation, resulting in poor memory retention. The conclusion—sleep is essential for committing important information to long-term memory.

–John Wills


Scientific American 2/26/07

About health 6/29/15

HowStuffWorks SCIENCE 5/8/07



Leaving Home on Vacation

RonCorbin200x200Summer typically means “vacation time.” The kids are out of school, the weather is warm, and the tax returns have provided some extra cash. So like Clark Griswold and his family, many people head out on a “quest for fun”!

However, unlike what was seen in the 1983 movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” where the Griswolds experienced predicaments on the roads, some families return from their happy outing only to the shock and distress of finding their homes burglarized or vandalized. Besides a home security alarm system, here are some simple and inexpensive tips that will help deter criminal activity and better secure your house when you’re on vacation.

Newspaper and Mail Delivery: If possible, have a family member or trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspaper. Do Not Stop newspaper service. If you do, all you’ve done is alert the paper boy that you will be gone for a certain period of time. If you must stop mail to avoid over-stuffing the mail box, a card can be filled-out at the post office without any declaration as to the reason, and thus not really disclosing your absence. 

Light Timers: Use light timers inside your house. Place these devices on lamps, or radios and TVs. Set the timers to go on and off at the normal hours of your daily routine; that is, to come on at dusk and go off at bedtime. If your blinds are down, open them slightly to allow the light to be seen from the outside. It is also a good idea (from practical experience) to use lamps that have more than one bulb, since one light bulb could burn out while you are away. 

Lighting: Do not leave the front entry or porch light on. Lights at the front door that remain on 24/7 for several days in a row are a sure indication that the residents are away. In fact, if you typically don’t leave any outside or backyard light(s) on, then don’t while you’re away. Instead, install motion sensors that will activate when someone is in an area around your house that they shouldn’t be. 

Side Gates: Locking side gates giving access to your backyard should be an everyday practice. But if not, especially do so when you’re away for an extended time. Yes, burglars can climb fences and gates, and often do in order to gain unauthorized entry into your house without being seen from the front. But climbing a gate is more suspicious to nosey neighbors than simply opening and strolling through it. 

The “Lived-in” Look: Have a trusted neighbor monitor your house. Tell them that they can place their garbage cans in front of your house on trash pick-up day. Let them park their car in your driveway. Tell them they can have their kids play in your front yard. Do not close your blinds or window coverings if that is not your normal practice. 

Social Media and Your Kids: A lot of home burglaries are committed by young people. Strongly impress on your kids that any pre-discussion of their trip at school or via social media is advertising that your house is going to be vacated for a designated period of time. And that this can increase the potential for break-in’s and theft. Tell them they can share their trip with friends once they return home.

Until the next time, Stay Safe and, oh…have fun at Wally World!
Ron Corbin __.___


john_schembra200x200When talking to friends, family and strangers about my books and writing in general, the first question they usually ask is “How do you come up with your ideas?”

I tell them I have no specific process in figuring out what the plot will be.  Inspiration seems to come to me out of the blue when least expected.  It could be something said in passing by people around me, or something I heard listening to the radio in while driving.  It may be an obscure back page news article in the paper.  Maybe something said by a character in a movie or television program catches my attention, or a story told by a friend at dinner.

Whatever the source, it’s whether it piques my interest.  My latest novel, Sin Eater, which will soon be released, came about as I was half listening to a movie on television.  Though I can’t remember what the movie was, I know the scene was two men, one of whom may have been Robin Williams, sitting in a bar talking.  I don’t even remember what they were talking about, but one of them said something about a sin eater.  There was just that one quick reference but it caught my attention.  I had never heard of a Sin Eater and became very curious about what it, or he, could be.  A bit of research and I thought, Hmmm, this might make a good book.   A few months later it had been written.

There are accepted and recommended procedures writers can use in their writing endeavors to enhance and polish their skills and the pace and fluidity of their writing.  However, if one does not choose to use those procedures, it doesn’t mean they are doomed to failure.  Included in those procedures are ways to select a plot theme.  I found, in my case, that spontaneity works best. I don’t wrack my brain for hours trying to come up with a fresh spin on an established plot, or in coming up with a new idea.  Too much hard thinking about those things makes my head hurt!

The bottom line being that if one tries too hard to come up with a plot, or, for that matter, a character, it makes the writing process less enjoyable, and in my opinion, there is less chance of success.

Let those creative juices flow.  If something seems interesting to you, it will be interesting to your readers.

I consider myself a writer.  I don’t have to be normal!

John Schembra

Author of M.P. – A Novel of Vietnam, Retribution, Diplomatic Immunity, and Sin Eater

Coming soon- Blood Debt (Vince Torelli #4)


diana_sprain200x200I’ve been involved in Public Safety for 30 years now and nothing frustrates me more than watching a show or reading a book with incorrect procedures. Now, I understand in most cases the writers are creating a fictional department and have to come up with policies and procedures to support their story line. Most readers have never worked in any of the three branches (law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services) and therefore don’t know when a procedure is incorrect. For those of us who have however, it is extremely frustrating. In this article, I’ll touch upon a couple of examples of what I am referring to.

I’ll start with emergency medical services. A short-lived show on television called “Trauma” about the ems system in San Francisco aired an episode called “Crossed Wires”.  The basis of the episode was a glitch in the dispatch system computers. During the crisis, dispatch ‘lost control’ of the ambulances. This led to on air arguments between a crew and a dispatcher.  One of the paramedics ended up at the communications center at the end of the show to complain about the call taker, where the dispatch supervisor set him down and let him take a call with a person who spoke Russian. The caller was reporting a shooting. They sent an ambulance and hung up. That’s it.

No folks. That’s not it. First – even if the dispatch system goes down, the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), or communications center, has a back-up in place to handle and manage the radio traffic and units. Dispatchers don’t “lose track” of units. Second, anyone arguing on the radio, no matter which end of the radio it originates from, is immediately dealt with by a supervisor.  Thirdly, field units may come in to sit down with a dispatcher, but they would not take a call. Finally, answering a call for a shooting would require a series of questions and require law enforcement response.

Fire calls are different as the service is generally more regimented. The fire service follows a chain-of-command and most large departments now use the Incident Command System (ICS). One should know the terminology when writing about the fire service. The Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) offers free on-line classes that anyone can take to learn about the program.  Why is ICS important? During the Oakland-Berkeley Hills Fire in 1991, a request was made by a field commander for water support. At the time, dispatchers weren’t trained in ICS. The communications center mistakenly dispatched a water tender (truck with water tanks) instead of air support (helicopters or planes). Big mistake!

Fire Officers don’t always listen to dispatchers. During a riot when the crowd started breaking into business and looting, the police pulled out to the station. The Lieutenant called for mutual aid. Meanwhile, I was on the fire desk. We had fire companies on scene because the crowd had started multiple fires. When I advised the Chief the police were leaving to get their riot gear and wait for help, he said they weren’t leaving due to the fires. That changed when the rioters turned their rage to his vehicle. Once the Chiefs car was turned upside down and set on fire he ordered his men to abandon the area and wait for police support before returning.

Law enforcement incidents get my goat more than anything else. I’ve been dispatching for 27 years and have handled everything from riots and disasters to officer-involved shootings.  Reading a bad in-progress call can turn me off from a book just as quick as seeing the wrong armor or weapons in a historical movie (another pet peeve). Of course, individual departments have their own policies and procedures so if you are writing and using a real agency – consult with a person from that department! If not, consider a few facts. First, from my experience (at multiple agencies), the first officer arriving at an in-progress incident is the one who is assigned to do the paper unless the “beat” unit stands up and accepts the duty.

One night, while I was lucky enough to “escape” dispatch for a couple of hours and go out on a ride-along, we were assigned to cover on a shots-fired call. We showed up first, much to the annoyance of my officer friend (he proceeded to curse rather loudly once he realized he had the assignment). Of course, there was a body in the street. Once he determined the shooter was gone, we pulled up and I checked the victim (at the time, I was still a certified EMT and moonlighting as such).

When writing pursuits, consider checking with your local departments to see how they handle them. Due to concerns with safety, many agencies have severely limited when units can chase vehicles. Examples of when a pursuit can be initiated may include subjects wanted for major felonies or in-progress crimes (bank robberies, shootings). I remember when officers would chase a car for running a red light or stop sign. Those days are gone. Keep in mind, plain clothes officers are generally supposed to DROP OUT once a marked unit arrives to join the pursuit. The first police unit follows the suspect and the second unit calls the chase progression. Classic dispatching repeats the locations with occasionally throwing in the suspect vehicle description and reason for the chase.

As for the initial calls coming to 911, dispatchers are trained to ask questions. We’ll keep a caller on the line for in-progress events as long as it is safe to do so.  For fore calls, I used to tell folks to get others out but we changed the policy and told them to leave, letting fire do the job of getting others out (we decided it was a liability to tell reporting parties to bang on doors or try to help others out of a burning building). We didn’t provide medical instructions, so you’re own your own – sorry. For a suspect in an incident, the format is head-to-toe for clothing. We try to stick with generalities. Instead of asking how tall a person is, I’ll ask if a man is tall, medium, or short. Most folks don’t know how to gauge height and giving a general range is better for the field unit. Don’t forget to consider including tattoos or scars. Those are great helpers. For vehicles, use what we refer to as CYMBL: Color, Year, Make/Model, Body style, and License with state. Again, most folks won’t know all of the information but can give part of the data.

–Diana Sprain

by Joseph B. Haggerty Sr.

joe_haggerty200x200They come to the hot sands to relax and play
Some stay for a week, a month, some just for the day
They wander the boardwalk and eat the delites
Enjoying the sunning days and the partying nights
She walked in the place knowing it was Mick’s
She found the jukebox and selected  B6
The familiar tune made Mick turn with a sigh
As the jukebox played “As Time Goes By”
She sat at the counter and said you know what I eat
He felt the hurt renewing, he remembered her deceit
Of all the pizza joints in the world she walks into mine
Instead of a romantic rendezvous she left him behind
He knew she liked her pie with sausage and pepperoni
And he’d make it for her even though she was a phony
He still remembered Vegas and what he thought was love
The nights they spent together, what was he thinking of
She took all his money and left him all alone
With no transportation and no way to get home
He spit on her pizza and slowly closed the lid
And handed it to her smiling, here’s looking at you kid

I wrote this as a parody to the classic movie Casablanca. I hope everyone remembers the movie.”




Shots fired on the far side of the building. I held tight in the southeast stairwell assured there was no way the police could enter the exterior door without cutting tools.

Screams. Gunshots. I clutched the AR-15 to my pounding chest.

Muffled shouts came from downstairs. Over the racket, I heard, “Help, I’m bleeding.”

Everything happened so fast that my hands started to slip on the rifle.

“Fuck you,” my buddy yelled, still on the move. More yelling. Shooting.

Feet pounding up the stairs. They were coming my way.

When I saw a face at the opposite end of the hall, it was time to run for it. I raced down the dark stairwell and pushed outside into the sun.

I threw my weapon to the ground and ran. Putting distance between me and the hotel, I scrambled to escape.

Cops. Two black and white cruisers sped toward me. I turned off the pavement. They followed. The highway was close. If only I could get to the fence ahead of them.

“Stop. Police,” a voice commanded over the loudspeaker. “Stop. Put your hands up.”

Damn. I raised my hands and gasped for air. The perimeter officers had gotten me. They handcuffed and searched me. I’d have to wait out the rest of the scenario from the back of their cruiser. Unlike the other scenarios in which I was a victim/witness, this time I had been shooter


Ten days of joint active shooter training in March 2016 brought together the city police and firefighters in Lincoln, Nebraska. The training objective was to move beyond a solitary focus on neutralizing the shooter. After a morning of emergency medical instruction using tourniquets, officers had an opportunity to contain a shooter while getting medical help to victims as soon as possible.

All police officers carried tourniquets with them. The simple devices were quickly applied to those bleeding profusely. Victims with minor injuries were helped out of the scene by police and walked to medical crews. For some of the most critically injured, police provided protection and led paramedics to the victims.

It was a drill to allow Lincoln Police and Lincoln Fire & Rescue to work together to square terminology, so they could communicate clearly and quickly. They worked to re-envision the way active shooter scenes are handled. First responders practiced saving law enforcement and civilian victims in the event one or more shooters strike the community.

Lessons learned from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and the bombing at the Boston Marathon emphasized the importance of stopping blood loss for victims with serious gunshot or puncture wounds. If applied within minutes, tourniquets are an important tool in preventing mass casualties.

No longer in law enforcement, I was there as a volunteer and did not hear the insights gained in each of the debriefing sessions. From past experience, I know it is unlikely mistakes made in training will be replicated. Officers will punish themselves for failing to search and find a bleeding victim. They will always remind themselves to make sure they have someone watching their back before trying to carry a victim out of an active scene. They will keep in mind that a distressed victim without apparent injuries could still die of shock if left unattended too long.

As a writer, this experience gave me a chance to reignite my writing with tension and realism. It suggested hundreds of things that could go wrong for my fictional characters. Unfortunately, this kind of incident happens too frequently in real life.

Law enforcement and firefighters have always collaborated, but now they will begin working more closely when dealing with one of the most volatile situations they are likely to face. During an active shooter incident, the lives of victims are on the line. The lives of police and EMS crews are on the line. Let’s work together to save as many as possible.

— Laura L. Cooper


hilary_romig200x200Every piece of evidence found at a crime scene is crucial. Fingerprints have been one of the oldest sources for identification and are still one of the most effective today. Collecting fingerprints even partial ones are an effective way to catch culprits. While there is stock in other forms of evidence be it DNA or otherwise, fingerprints are a reliable source since each individual has their own unique print.

The law enforcement world has come a long way when it comes to processing prints. Before each fingerprint had to be carefully looked at using a magnifying glass and a pen or stick to count ridges, compare minutia and more. This took time, effort and patience. Comparing fingerprints today is much different however I have found it still takes time, effort and patience. First of all, you still have to go through the whole print and mark important areas in order for the computer to run a match. Often the computer will now mark the points of the print that stand out however, since it is a machine, the human eye still must check the computers’ work. Once that is done the computer will run matches to see if there is a hit in the database. Though this process is much quicker, I feel that the human eye is able to compare fingerprints much more accurately. The computer helps to sort through potential candidates that may match a latent print.

The science and the art of fingerprints are fascinating. Each element must be taken into consideration even down to the substance or surface, which the latent print was found on. Technology may be advancing but the use of fingerprints remains the same. We are now seeing smart guns that use biometric technology in order to operate. Phones and even cars are beginning to use this form of science.

The world of law enforcement may change in the sense of how we acquire evidence or process it. However, what remains the same is the simple yet complex science of fingerprints and their power to help to bring justice to the world.

— By: Hilary Romig


 FAMILIAR EVIL by Louisiana Author Rannah Gray Wins Three National Awards

 Familiar Evil, by Louisiana author Rannah Gray and published by The Lisburn Press, has received three top honors, earning a Gold Medal for True Crime at the 20th anniversary Independent Publisher Book Awards, or IPPY Awards, the world’s largest international book awards competition.

Familiar Evil has also earned top honors in two categories in the 10th annual National Indie Excellence Awards, named as Winner for best New Non-Fiction and True Crime.

Gray, a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) since February 2016, attended the IPPY Awards ceremony in Chicago in May and held a book signing event at the New Title Showcase of the Book Expo America, the leading book and author event for the North American book industry.

Familiar Evil is the chilling true story of the international search for TV personality Scott Rogers that exposed his dark side as a child predator. The book goes inside the investigation that sent shock waves from Louisiana to London when a young British businessman coincidentally connected with Gray, a Louisiana public relations consultant, and the two worked with authorities in two countries as the investigation built to an explosive conclusion. Mary Jane Marcantel, a key figure in the investigation, and the British survivor known as Ethan collaborated with Gray on the book.
Familiar Evil is available in the U.S. through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and at the book’s official website:

It is also available in all eBook formats in the U.S. and the U.K. through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks by Apple.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Familiar Evil are donated to programs that benefit survivors of child sex abuse

One Dead, Two to Go by Elena Hartwell

one_dead_two_to_go200x300Book One in the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series, published by Camel Press (April, 2016)

Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Then her client disappears and Eddie finds herself knee-deep in dangerous company. Spurred on by her card-counting, poker-playing mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas, Eddie has to wonder, is her client the latest victim? Or the killer?

“Eddie Shoes is the most fun detective since Richard Castle stumbled into New York’s 12th Precinct.” –Peter Clines, author of 14, The Fold, and Ex-Heroes

One Dead, Two to Go is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and fine bookstores near you, along with ebook and audible formats.

Review & Praise for Dying to Be Beautiful Mysteries by M. Glenda Rosen

dying_to_be_beautiful200x30DYING TO BE BEAUTIFUl is a fascinating look into the multi-million dollar world of beauty and the things people will do to attain it. You are a fun and engaging storyteller who clearly knows her way around a plot twist or two. Jenna manages to be both tough and glamorous in her role as a private investigator.”   New York Publishing Agent

Love the term “arm candy.”  You must have lived through lots of gossip when you were in the Hamptons.  Don’t want to put the book down.–Rosemary L.

Omg book is great!!! Love it!!!!!–Darla D.

Amazon Reviews:

What a great view of life in the Hamptons – with a couple of gory murders added for excitement.

“Dying To Be Beautiful” Mysteries: Without A Head

“What a fun read! It’s an unpredictable plot, starting with a severed head in the sink of a beauty salon! The contrast of life on the East End of Long Island, between the rich summer visitors, and lowly residents, adds an interesting dimension to the book, and the characters, including a beautiful setter dog named Watson,(smart, protective, and necessary to the plot) – brings humor and humanity to the whole. I loved it.”

Applause and more applause for “Dying to Be Beautiful.” I really enjoyed the book, how you thought of all the ins and outs I don’t know but you sure did.  The descriptions of the Hamptons were great, I feel like I’ve been there.  The best are the sentences at the end of most chapters, very clever!  Now ready for next book. –Joyce O.

We’re thrilled to have your book in our store!—Book Soup, Los Angeles CA

Dying To Be Beautiful

The Hamptons are known for the high dollar residents, both permanent and seasonal. With ridiculously large houses, high standards, and a need to have it all, it is not surprising that owning a salon there would be a very lucrative business. After all, everyone wants to be beautiful, no matter what the cost. In Dying To Be Beautiful Mysteries: Without a Head, the matter of the cost of being beautiful is put to the test. Upon opening her salon one morning, Darcy discovers a severed head in one of her shampoo sinks. She immediately contacts her friend, Jenna Preston, a local private investigator. Although born into an affluent family, Jenna has chosen to become a private investigator, and, through her work, has developed a sound reputation as well as a good working relationship with the local police department. Together, with the help of Detective Troy Johnson and the police department, Jenna tries to piece the clues together and catch the murderer. When another body turns up, it seems that what was once thought of as a simple murderous act of jealousy might be more than what they first thought. The closer they get to the killer, the more in danger Jenna finds herself. As she pieces the clues and the victims together, she finds a trail of sex, money, and more that might land her next on the list of victims.—Manhattan Book Reviews

Dying To Be Beautiful: Without a Head by M. Glenda Rosen is a quirky fe- male private investigator novel that will keep readers hooked with its charm, wit and suspense. Private Investigator, and main character, Jenna Preston is someone that readers will be able to relate to and will enjoy following, as she uncovers the clues needed to solve the crime. The connection between Jenna and the police department is well-written in that you see them working together and not stepping on each other’s toes. This makes the charm and wit of the suspenseful story line easier to see and enjoy. What seems to be the first book in a series, I look forward to seeing what falls into Jenna’s lap next.– Faith Lewis, Editorial Assistant

Mike Black reported that his novel, Desert Falcons, is a finalist for the Best Original Novel Scribe Award. The award is given each year by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and the winner is announced at the San Diego Comic Con in July. He is thrilled to be nominated. The novel was written under the name Don Pendleton, and it is part of the Mack Bolan Executioner series.

the_group_cover200x300PSWA Member Bob Doerr is happy to announce the release of his new Clint Smith thriller titled The Group.  In this second book of the series, someone is killing off the world’s rich and famous.  The murders are sophisticated, requiring precision and skill, and the killers have a global reach. The international community is in an uproar but surprisingly can develop no leads in its attempt to develop any information on the assassins.  The victims are members of the Bilderberg Group, an international, loose knit group of the uber-rich who meet annually.  While the attacks have not had a direct impact on the U.S.,  Theresa Deer, Director of the Special Section, a small unit whose existence is known by only a handful in the U.S. government, sees this new age League of Assassins as a national threat.  She sends her hunters out.  Clint Smith finds their trail in Switzerland where his discovery almost results in his own death.  The hunt next leads him to Mallorca, Spain, where he witnesses a helicopter attack on a villa where a number of attendees from the Bilderberg conference were holding a smaller, follow-on meeting of their own.  Smith picks up the trail a couple weeks later in Las Vegas, NV, and pursues his targets up to Whidbey Island, Washington.  In this final stage of the hunt, Smith discovers that he is no longer the hunter.  He has become the prey.






PSWA Newsletter–March 2016

PSWA Newsletter
March 2016




molsen-200As most of you know, the Public Safety Writers Association is governed by a volunteer board of directors currently consisting of Marilyn Olsen, president, Michelle Perin, vice president, Tim Dees, secretary, Nancy Farrar, treasurer and members Mike Black and Marilyn Meredith (see our bios on the About Us page on the website).

Our annual calendar for planning purposes is the calendar year and 2016 promises to be a great year.  As you can see by scrolling through the website, we’ve made a lot of changes.  If you see we’ve overlooked something or there is something you members of PSWA would like to see changed or added, please be sure to let us know.   While there are, of course, many things we could add, our goal is always to keep the costs of our activities as affordable as possible, so, sorry, no PSWA video games to play online, no matter how exciting we know those would be.

As you can see from the home page, we’ve already announced our featured speakers for the July 14-17 conference in Las Vegas. Another goal is to provide our attendees with a wide variety of topics covering both writing style and subject content so in addition to our featured speakers, we also offer a number of panels consisting of registered conference attendees.  If you’d like to be considered as a panelist, the deadline for your request is March 15.  The panels fill quickly, so be sure to register early.

Another highlight of the conference for many is to see their book cover up on our big screen.  If you’d like to see your book cover there, the deadline is June 1.  Information about panels and book covers is found on the conference page of this website.

Also, we’re pleased to announce that the annual writing competition is now accepting entries.  We accept fiction and non-fiction, published and non-published work.  See the writing competition page for specific details.

For those of you who choose to send your books to our bookstore for sale, please note that there has been a change this year.  Books must now be sent to the Orleans instead of to Keith Bettinger.  (See conference page for details).

Another change has been made to the manuscript review process. Whereas in the past you were invited to send an entire manuscript for review, we are now switching to the format most publishers use, which we think gives our new authors a better sense of what any publisher, large or small, would expect.  Again, check the website for specific details.

In fact, since we’ve made a lot of great changes to the website, why not take a few minutes to peruse the entire site?

If you are already a member, we hope to see you in Las Vegas in July and participating in our other options as well.  If you’re not a member, hey, what are you waiting for?

Marilyn Olsen

MikeBlack200x200Please look now… The registration form for the 2016 PSWA Conference is now available on the PSWA website, thanks to a lot of hard work by our techno wizard, Tim Dees, who never gets enough credit for all his hard work on the website. The conference is still the most reasonable conference around, and the hotel rates in Las Vegas are nothing short of phenomenal.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this year’s conference will be the most ambitious we’ve ever tried. It begins on July 14th and runs through the 17th.

This year we’re offering a new program: the amazing, pre-conference Writer’s Workshop. In years past we had comments on the evaluations of not enough presentations and panels dealing with improving one’s writing. Well, this program is specifically designed to give you some personal feedback on your writing, as well as provide some interesting new techniques. All of the instructors (Mysti Berry, Michael A. Black, and Marilyn Meredith) are professionally published and have also taught writing classes. The pre-conference workshop starts on Thursday, July 14TH, at 9:00 AM. There is an additional fee for the workshop of $35.00 for PSWA members and $40.00 for non-members, which is necessary to cover the cost of the additional conference room.

This workshop will offer a chance to get one-on-one feedback and instruction on various writing techniques. Those signing up for the workshop will have the opportunity to send in advance up to 25 pages of a manuscript, and will receive a personal, one-on-one critique of their work. (Opportunities like this usually run between $50.00 and $100.00 at other conferences.) So once again, keep in mind, this is not your usual writer’s class, and the workshop is not just for beginners. It’s a chance to learn new things and hone your skills. Although it’s primarily geared for fiction writing, all of the instructors have extensive writing experience in both fiction and nonfiction. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain a new perspective on the craft of producing the written word. The Workshop runs from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Thursday. If you want to sign up for this great opportunity to expand and enhance your writing abilities and bring your writing to the next level, sign up for this special, pre-conference class now.

Immediately following the Writer’s Workshop, the conference check-in begins. It starts at 3:00 PM. Stop by the hallway on the second floor in the conference center and get acquainted with some of the other members and attendees. You’ll also get your PSWA conference packet, as well as your special invitation to the evening get together, which immediately follows the check-in. The evening get-together features snacks, refreshments, and a cash bar. It’s a great way to introduce yourself, if you’re a first-time attendee, or to catch up with old friends, if you’ve attended before. It runs until 9:00 PM.

After that, you’re on your own until the next morning when things begin in earnest the next morning (Friday, July 15th).

The conference starts promptly at 9:00 AM and runs until around 5:30 PM, you’ll be entertained the entire day. Lunch is included all three days, and the food is fabulous. The panels will explore topics of interest in both the field of public safety and writing. Additionally, both Friday and Saturday have special presentations given by engaging, professionals speaking on topics of interest. In the past, these presentations have dealt with such things as crime scene processing, terrorist attacks, undercover police operations, and various aspects of writing. We’ve got a whole new crop of topics for this year. The PSWA bookstore is also open during this time, displaying the books of the attendees and presenters. The friendly, courteous staff does the selling, and yes, they do take credit cards… One slight change this year is that it’s up to you to bring a supply of books, or have them shipped to the hotel. If you’re a published author, and wish to bring some of your books to sell, decide on an appropriate number.

Topping things off on Saturday is our special end-of-day event. Last year the PSWA Players performed an old, radio mystery play. The year before we had our version of CSI Jeopardy, based on the TV game show. This year we have we have something equally engaging planned.

Sunday morning opens with more panels and concludes with our PSWA Writing Contest Awards Ceremony, which announces the winners of the annual writing contest. It’s your chance to become an award winning author, and there are numerous categories to enter. Information on the writing contest is already posted on the website under Writing Contest. Check it out. There are multiple categories for both published and yet-to-be published authors.

Lunches are included on each day, and the food is usually fabulous.

The program will be posted after the Board meeting in February, but rest assured, the PSWA Conference is always a great time and a lot of fun.

I guarantee that this will be the best and the friendliest writer’s conference you’ll ever attend.

Michael A. Black
Program Chair


Diane-Kratz-200As an author, published or unpublished, I’m sure you’ve considered what social media you will get involved in. There are two you should already have: Facebook author page and Twitter. But you might also consider starting a blog. A blog can showcase your book even before you publish it and bring in readers who will buy your book.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog, consider this: According to, there were 152 million blogs on the Internet in 2013 with over 1.13 million blogs posts every day. Wow! That’s a lot of blogs and blog posts.  So how can you start a blog that will pull readers in? There are a few of things you can do to help steer people to your blog and keep them coming back.

  1. Decide on what kind of blog you want to create. There are a couple of ways you can write a blog about your books. If you write historical romance, write a blog about historical events that tie into your books. All that research you did while writing your book can be put into a blog. It will draw in history buffs as well as other historical romance writers and readers. I write crime fiction so I blog about crime, serial killers, mental health, criminal profiling and the FBI. All of these topics are in my books.  There are different types of blogs out there. Find your niche and blog about it. If you’re still undecided, think about the types of blogs you visit and ask yourself why you visit them.
  2. Use pictures and numbers! Do a half paragraph and include a picture. It helps break up the words on your blog. Without pictures readers only see the vast amounts of text and will check out. Blog readers are busy and don’t have hours to read. But with pictures, all that text helps the eye move down to read more. It’s the same for using numbers. 3 is easier on the eye to read than three.
  3. Be there to respond to your readers when you post.  There’s nothing more frustrating than leaving a comment or asking a question and getting no response.
  4. Create a killer title for your blog post. Think of a tag line that will capture attention and entice people to want to click on the link to your blog.
  5. Advertise, advertise, and advertise!  Most blog servicers provide links (widgets) to your social media that it will post to them when you post your blog. Use them and make sure they are linked to your blog in your settings. Also consider posting a link to all your writing groups and any other group you belong to. The more you advertise the better your chances that people will visit your blog.
  6. Pay it forward. If you visit other people’s blogs and leave a comment, chances are they will do the same for you.
  7. Post your blog on a weekday and NOT on the weekends. Most people spend the weekends with their families and don’t get on their computers like they do during the week. You’ll find you’ll get a lot more traffic during the week.
  8. I know lots of writers like to blog about writing, conferences they’ve attended and other authors interviews. I’ve found I don’t get very much traffic when I do a blog on those topics. The exception is if you combine anyone of those topics with some kind of new information that the reader would be interested in knowing. Think about whom you advertise to and who visits your blog. What might their interest be? Try to include that information. You’d be surprised at the results.
  9. Blog from your heart. Some of my most successful blogs have been when I blogged about issues that are personal to me.  My son’s suicide and how to cope with grief were my most visited and re-blogged, blog. Even a year later, it still gets re-blogged.
  10. Have guest bloggers when you run out of topics. I wanted to do a blog on PTSD.  Although I’ve treated people with PTSD, it wasn’t my typical client.  I asked a psychologist who clients were cops and counselor from the UK who worked with vets and abused children. That blog has been my most visited blog I posted.
  11. Get an editor to check your grammar. Nothing turns an audience off than misspellings and poor grammar.

Blogs are a way of letting your readers get to know you. It’s a wonderful way to start your writing career.

Diane Kratz

Germ DisPURSEal

(Tests Show How Filthy a Woman’s Handbag Can Be)

ron_corbin_200My grandmother called it her pocketbook, but more typically today it’s referred to as a purse, handbag, or evening accessory. In any case, and whatever you call it, most women are rarely seen without one. Starting as little girls playing “Mommy, Dress-up,” women quickly learn that a purse is going to become s natural a part of the human anatomy as the bent arm upon which they carry it.

As a former cop, I was always amazed at some of the things I would find when searching through a lady’s purse. Some of these things made contraband seem minor in importance. And it seemed that the older the woman who was carrying the purse, the more unusual the objects. Such as the death certificate of a late husband, the first tooth that her toy poodle Fifi lost as a puppy, a partial dental plate that wasn’t hers, a toilet paper roll with one sheet remaining (your guess is as good as mine on this one). You name it, I’ve seen it.

Most times that I had to touch a woman’s purse, I was somewhat reluctant and fearful as to what germs I might get on my hands. But during my time working patrol, before HIV and AIDS, it was unusual to see a cop wear gloves for protection. It was just something that wasn’t typically considered important. However, it’s not the inside or contents of a woman’s purse that I want to discuss here; it’s the outside.

Recent studies have shown that most women’s purses are crawling with “creepy crawlers” of the dangerous kind. University of Arizona Professor Charles Gerba says, “This is one of the most germy (sic) objects we’ve actually ever tested before…the bottom of a purse.”

After conducting lab tests on samples of purses, microbiologists have found pseudomonas, staphylococcus aureus, E.coli family, salmonella, and hepatitis. Even more disgusting to the thought, fecal matter from human and animal waste was found in some cases. Obviously all of these nasties can make you very sick with cold and flu-like symptoms, as well as causing eye and serious skin infections, and a host of other physical ailments. Apparently “Louis Vuitton,” “Gucci,” and “Dooney & Burke” are carrying more than just a woman’s personal items; they are becoming disease carriers.

Transference of Germs

Think of all the different places that your purse might touch, and how bacteria can be transferred from one place to another:

  • Kitchen counters
  • Public transportation (taxi, bus, tram, subway, streetcar)
  • Baby car seats (where the wet or dirty diaper sat)
  • Public restrooms (stall floor; lavatory counters, diaper changing stations)
  • TSA airport X-ray security scanning belts and plastic tub containers (* more about this later)
  • Movie theater floors and adjoining seats
  • Restaurant floors and booths
  • Hotel rooms
  • Escalator handrails
  • Office desktops and drawers
  • Medical office reception counters
  • Shopping carts

If you think that you are taking precautions with where you put your purse, even at home, let’s consider this scenario:

Do you have cats or dogs as pets? If so, where do you set your purse? On a fireplace hearth? A coffee table? When you do, you’re probably not thinking about where the cat or dog has walked, right? Cats do climb on furniture and jump on table tops and counters. Dogs jump on sofas and beds. And we all know where their feet has been … in litter boxes and dog runs.

Unless you sanitize your pets’ feet every time they come into your house, fecal matter and urine residue is being carried into the home and could be getting transferred indirectly onto the bottom of your purse from where you set it down. The purse then becomes a carrier for the bacteria into your car, onto your workplace desk, and possibly onto the table where you spend your lunch or break time.

Shocking Facts

Now that you’re aware of all the places your purse comes into contact with, here are some startling facts that should open your eyes even more to this health issue. Studies by GoJo Industries have shown that some purses have been found to be 100 times dirtier than the average toilet seat (toilet seat averaged 49 germs per square inch).

Shocking? Then how about this? Another recent study showed the average toilet seat is much cleaner than your workstation desk. There are over ten million germs on the average office workplace desktop. Why? Think about it. Your housekeeping staff cleans toilets regularly, but personal work areas like desktops are rarely ever cleaned.

  • Telephone averages 25,127 germs per square inch
  • Desktop averages 20,961 germs per square inch
  • Keyboard averages 3,295 germs per square inch

If you’re still not convinced, then remember this the next time you go to the store and place your purse on the fold-down child’s seat of shopping carts (where the diapered bottoms of little ones have likely been placed by a cart’s previous user). Gerba says one of the dirtiest things you can touch is a supermarket shopping cart. His tests found more than fifty were contaminated with, among other things, bodily fluids. (Thank goodness, most shopping areas are now providing sanitary wipes for shoppers to use on carts.)

Protective Measures

Leather or vinyl purses tend to be cleaner than cloth purses, and lifestyles seems to play a role. People with children tend to have dirtier purses. Still, your purse won’t kill you, but you might want to be a little more mindful of where you place it. Experts said that if you plop it on the kitchen counter or kitchen table, that’s not very sanitary. That would be like rubbing your hands on the soles of your shoes before eating a sandwich, because the bottom of purses usually end up touching the same places that your shoes do. Keep your purse cleaner by hanging it on hooks at home. It also doesn’t hurt to clean the bottom of your purse every so often with a disinfectant wipe of some type to cleanse away the bacteria.

Please understand that I am not attacking ladies because they carry purses, because these thoughts also apply to backpacks, “battle bags,” fanny packs, and brief cases …used by both men and women. Nor am I saying that your homes are unclean. My wife has a “million” purses (and shoes), and she is just clean enough to make our house a home … the way I like it. And as far as I know, none of our family members have ever gotten really sick from germs being found in our home.

I am not a “germaphobe,” but hopefully this information will provide a little “food for thought.” In fact, having been in combat, I’ve eaten out of containers that haven’t been washed in days. I have raised kids and grandkids, and because of this experience, I am a firm believer in the “3-second rule” when pacifiers and food items have been dropped on the floor.

For my final discourse on this, here is something that I know you will think about when you come to Las Vegas for the conference in July, or the next time you fly anywhere. Did you notice the asterisks I placed above in the list of places that transfer germs to purses? This is my all-time favorite place to make people gasp!

Do you ever wonder how many shoes are placed in those gray, plastic tubs that TSA runs through the security scanner over and over, without any evidence of cleaning them? The same tubs that you place your purse, cell phone, and laptop are the same tubs where thousands of shoes from men, women, and kids have been placed, and from those people who likely have walked into an airport restroom before entering the security lines. And ladies, here’s a little secret. Beneath the urinals in any public “Mens’ Restroom” is …well, should I say, not completely dry.

Until the next time…Stay Alert and Stay Safe!
Ron Corbin
{Statistical data from and}


Marcia-Rosen-200There are numerous options for authors today to get their books in print, but many people have a room full of good-looking printed books and wonder, “What do I do now?”

From Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing, Independent Publishing, University Presses and Print on Demand to E-books it’s important to know that your publisher will pay attention to your requests and needs, that they offer the expertise and experience to help you publish your book the way you want.

However, it is essential for you as an author to know publishing is only the beginning.

No matter who the publisher of your book they will ALL tell you, you need to go out and market your book. YOU need to promote it, tell your story and create a buzz about it.

I know you’re a writer. You’re a creative person. Can’t believe you have to bother yourself with the promotion of your book. Well you do. Yes, writers do have to promote their books.  Believe me when I tell you, no matter how wonderful, interesting, compelling your book might be you still have to let the reading world know it exists. Ask any publisher, or literary agent, they will agree with me that unless you market your book chances are it will “fall through the cracks of literary chaos.”

Don’t like to do it? Don’t have the time? Don’t want to do it yourself?

Find someone you trust to help you!

Some Basic Book Marketing Tips and Websites

  • Pre-Book Launch
    • Create website
    • Develop email lists (contacts, bookstores, organizations, etc.)
    • Use site and lists for ongoing marketing
    • Do a book giveaway on Goodreads
  • Book Launch
    • Schedule book launch event, time/place and details
    • Plan and coordinate media and public relations for the event
    • Send out invitations, distribute flyers when possible, ask place your having launch to put up flyers and large poster, and promote in their own newsletter
  • Traditional Public Relations Actions
    • Distribute releases to media, announce on website, and to personal contacts.
    • Develop “Pitch” letters for articles, book signings and speaking opportunities.
    • Develop press release regarding your signings and speaking and distribute for calendar listings
  • Social Media and Online Actions
    • Announce book launch through website and social media
    • Keep providing marketing content and posts
    • Be relentless in your outreach and output
    • Set up your own blog and/or be a guest on others blogs


And…don’t be too proud to ask for help!!!

M.Glenda Rosen (Marcia G.Rosen)
Author, New Mystery Series, “Dying To Be Beautiful”


I’ve always been fascinated by etymology, or the study of language, and how our native tongue is in a virtual state of flux. Language is constantly undergoing subtle changes, brought about by necessity, since our society is constantly evolving as well. While some etymologists may cringe at some of the more recent evolutions, such as texting, or Facebooking, I take a more avuncular view. As I said, our language has never been a static thing. Subtle changes in meaning have always been with us, and such enhancements tend to enrich our speech, for the most part. After all, is not communication the primary purpose of language?

Anyone who doubts this need only to take a look at the Oxford English Dictionary, which was a massive undertaking initiated in 1857 to document the changes in word meaning and usage in the English language through the ages. It took a legion of scholars until 1884 to complete the first version, which was composed of 27 volumes. Obviously, the OED was not meant to be your quick-reference dictionary.

Over half of the words in the English language are products of affixation, or the process of adding prefixes or suffices to root words: The sailors disembarked from their port; The flight attendant will tell you when to deplane; or, He is semi-retired. Reversing the process of affixation is known as back-formation. This term was originated by the principal editor of the OED from 1879 to 1915, Scottish lexicographer, James Murray. This process refers to the invention of new words by removing parts of words that appear to be prefixes or suffixes, and coming up with root words that never existed. Thus, removing the lance from the noun, surveillance, gives us the back-formation, surveil. Stripping off the iasm from enthusiasm gives us enthuse. This process works with adjectives as well as nouns. An example would be peeve, which is taken from peevish. The process of back-formation has also provided us with such shining jewels as diagnose from diagnosis and burgle from burglar. Many adjectives are also created by adding suffixes to preexisting nouns or verbs, such as milky, greenish, and useless.

Colloquial usage often influences back-formations, to the degree that the presumable affixes that are removed are, in some cases, not really affixes at all. The or removed from orator to form orate, is not a suffix, but rather a part of the root or the word. The same goes for lecher becoming lech and peddler becoming peddle, editor to edit, and sculptor to sculpt. These new words further clarify our need to communicate in a better fashion in that they fill a void brought about by inevitable societal evolution. After all, think of what we would be missing if our culture had not spawned such innovations as televise from television, revise from revision, afflict from affliction, and donate from donation.

We can also be thankful that our language, English, is the only European language that doesn’t assign gender to nouns. Otherwise, we would be in the same boat as the poor French, Italians, and Spanish with their maddening clutter of varying, gender-specific definite and indefinite articles, such as el libre, una mesa, or la ciudad. As I previously stated, clearer communication is the goal, which is often furthered by the shortening of words, or “clipping.” Thus a zoological garden is clipped into zoo, web log becomes blog, and influenza becomes the flu. Compounding, on the other hand, combines two non-related words into one to create an entirely new meaning; backseat driver and tramp stamp are two examples. New words are also formed by the process of conversion, which entails a functional shift, such as turning a noun into a verb (Let’s party) or vice-versa (They were doing the do.) During the latter, the subjects were obviously being surveilled. Prefixes may also be added in the process of neologism, or the creation of new words: She was being disrespected because of her gender. Once again, colloquialism plays a big role in this process.

Thus, as surely as nouns generally precede verbs in English, one thing is certain: language is constantly changing, and as native speakers, we should revel in this enrichment of our native tongue, and reflect this etymological evolution on our writing. Just make sure you make the effort to get it right on the page.

On another, unrelated matter, I seem to be under a modicum of pressure to reveal my true identity prior to the next conference, but I haven’t decided if I will do this as of yet. Thus, until next time, I will continue to bask in my anonymity.

Write well.
Professor X


john_wills-200It’s February and those of you whose New Year’s resolution was to lose weight and get in shape should be assessing your progress. This popular perennial topic reminded me of an idea I’ve heard tossed around for discussion on a regular basis, “Is it possible to be fit and fat?”

I’ve spoken with a few individuals that swear even though they’re overweight it doesn’t matter because they’re in shape. That notion seems plausible, and I’m of the opinion that being fit is important, particularly if you’re in law enforcement. But being overweight, or worse, being obese, must surely have a negative effect on one’s well-being. After a bit of recent research on this subject, it turns out that being fat but fit is a myth. Moreover, if you’re overweight, lots of exercise will not prevent an early death. And here’s a surprising conclusion from researchers in the field—it’s far more important to be slim, even if you are unfit.

So how does one determine a healthy body weight, and what does it mean to be slim? The conventional standard of measure used to be the old height and weight chart. That archaic method has been replaced by the body mass index (BMI). Go to this site to calculate your BMI quickly. This tool is used for both males and females, and is a ratio of height to weight that helps assess body fat, if one is overweight, and any associated health risks. The BMI method is accurate for most people. However, for some individuals who are muscular, elderly, or of short stature, the BMI measurement may not be as accurate. A good example of this is a male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 220 pounds, and having 12% body fat. This person is not obese with a 12% body fat, even though the BMI chart would place him in the obese category.

Being obese is fraught with hidden dangers such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. That’s why a person’s waist measurement is also factored into their risk assessment. Those with BMIs of 25-29.9 (the overweight category) and 30-34.9 (a level 1 obese category) should have waist sizes no more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. People with BMIs over 35 don’t need to consider waist circumference.

One surprising finding in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association was there is no increased risk of death for people in the overweight category (BMIs of 25-29.9), those who carry a few extra pounds around, but who lead an otherwise healthy lifestyle. However, this is true only if other factors are in order: regular physical activity, non-smoker, waist circumference, healthy diet, and no significant medical problems or family history for chronic diseases.

A Swedish study conducted by Professor Peter Nordstrom, Umea University, of more than 1.3 million men indicates heavier adults who thought carrying a few extra pounds didn’t matter as long as they exercised regularly were wrong. His study found that fit men were generally far less likely to die than if they were inactive. However, being fit and overweight changed the result. Men who were slim and inactive were 30% less likely to die than those were fat but fit. Nordstrom’s findings also pointed out, “Unfit normal-weight individuals had a 30% lower risk of death from any cause than fit obese individuals.” His findings contradict the belief that obese individuals can fully compensate mortality risk by being physically fit. Additionally, having a low BMI was more crucial in preventing early death than keeping fit. His study suggests that low BMI early in life is more important than a high degree of physical fitness.

At the University of South Carolina, a study was conducted on 43,000 men and women. The study found the risk of developing heart disease and cancer was the same for fit fat adults and slim adults who did no exercise. Some experts argue that excess fat tissue triggers cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, regardless of whether one exercises or not. Others suggest inactivity is as harmful as smoking and contributes to 1 in 6 of all deaths. Needless to say, experts are divided as to whether being a healthy weight is more important than being fit.

Exercise recommendations for adults range from 30-90 minutes each day. Everyone should exercise daily for 30 minutes; 60 minutes is recommended for people to prevent weight gain; 90 minutes of exercise for those trying to lose weight. My old standard for weight management has always been simply this: calories in, calories out. The problem, however, is everyone is different insofar as their genetics and how they burn calories and exercise. The important thing to remember is healthy eating and regular exercise will always benefit you in terms of your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

“It’s clear that both fitness and fatness are important,” said Walter Willett, an expert on nutrition and health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s definitely good to be as fit as possible no matter what your body weight. But it’s also clear that it is optimum to be both lean and fit. It shouldn’t be a question of one or the other.”

Keep exercising my friends.



National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Harvard School of Public Health

–John M.Wills


I recently heard democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton state, “There is systemic racism in law enforcement all across this country.” Really? I guess I’m just suffering from a bit of naiveté and complete misunderstanding. After having served for 38 years in municipal law enforcement in three states and most of those years as a Chief of Police in five different agencies, it seems my officers and employees in all of those localities spent most of their time serving those very same people whom the politicians and the media now say we have mistreated and “systematically” discriminated against based on their race. I reject any notion that law enforcement  as a whole in this nation has ever endorsed, knowingly practiced, focused on, or accepted racist behavior or acts on the part of its’ officers.

A blanket and damning statement by Ms. Clinton, the media, and other political grandstanders who view and demonize the work of the men and women in law enforcement in this country as patently racist is just plain wrong and insulting on its face, to the very people who are taking the real risks every day.

There is no denying that events have occurred in recent years and throughout the history of American law enforcement that clearly impinge on the rights and freedom of Black, Hispanic and Asian citizens as well as police actions that negatively impact many other segments of our society. Yes, at various times in history, specific local law enforcement agencies that lacked proper leadership and focus have generated repetitive practices that targeted minorities and or people on the edge of societal norms.   Yes, cops do make serious mistakes. The world in which they work allows very little room for error.  Sometimes their actions are not mistakes, and are intentional, unethical behaviors that result in the death of someone. When their actions reach a level of misconduct, gross negligence or are criminal in nature, they of course should be held accountable. When charged with crimes, they should be prosecuted and tried as appropriate. All well-led police departments and the officers who work for those agencies understand that. Those that don’t get it should be excised from the profession.

A reality check. After 50 years of failures to effectively address long standing sociological conditions that contribute to crime and create large sections of cities across the nation that suffer from blight and deprivation, the results fall to the street. Informal structures develop to fill the gaps in those places. Those realities by default go to the police. To the cop in the street. These cops generally respond to people who are under stress, emotionally at their highest levels of agitation, angry, despondent, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or just plain old criminals and dangerous thugs who have committed crimes and desire only to get away, regardless of what they have to do to resist law enforcement intervention.

At the same time an officer is entering a situation that in most instances is an unknown or at the very best he or she has been provided with limited or erroneous information. Fraught with tension, stress and regardless of the amount of training or personal resolve, the situation in some instances becomes a life or death scenario. With the thousands of encounters between law enforcement and citizens every day across this country, it’s amazing that more deadly force tragedies don’t occur. For those uninitiated or unfamiliar with the work of a street cop, the real facts are that the level of restraint that is practiced by officers sometimes under highly stressful conditions, as a standard, is nothing short of heroic. They don’t use excessive force or deadly force because the great majority of cops use their training, innate judgment, good sense and  desire to simply end the conflict without serious injury to themselves or the perpetrator.  They do it every day across this country.

Yet a critical issue remains for those who are charged with dealing with the most volatile and or dangerous people and circumstances in their respective communities.  It is absolutely essential that a police officer or deputy sheriff not be put in a position of asking the question every time they engage in a high threat situation:  If I must use deadly force or some level of force to make this legal and justified arrest, am I willing to accept the ancillary effects of my actions and have confidence that I will be treated fairly in the context of what is really happening in the street? When I act in defense of my own life, or in a fashion in keeping with my training, my understanding of the legal requirements in place and  a mandate that I use a decision making process that is consistent with what my department and the courts’ rulings, can I expect a comprehensive review of the facts that reflect the real life circumstances I found myself facing? Are those reviewing those facts acutely aware that I made my decision in seconds, not the hours, days and months allowed the reviewers in the comfort of their podium, offices or TV studios? Frankly, in real life, that kind of second guessing by the individual officer in a highly charged violent situation can have catastrophic results.

The great majority of the cops I had the honor of working with over my career respected the community, the diversity of that community and the epic responsibility that comes with the badge they wear upon their chest. To paint law enforcement as a group in the negative and divisive fashion that has become popular in current times is more than sad. It is shameful.

John M. Wolford, Chief of Police (Ret.)


Vicki-Wisefeld-200Point of view is one of those tricky concepts for writers that is easier to talk about than to accomplish. I’ve recently spent a lot of time in POV purgatory in my own writing and seen a heavenly example, as well.

It is, of course, possible to write with an omniscient POV —with the narrator “the voice of god” that sees all, knows all, and can delve into anyone’s and everyone’s thoughts at will. I’m very comfortable writing in the omniscient POV, moving my characters around like chess pieces. Unfortunately, the omniscient POV is out of style these days, and the closer in to a single character the writer is (though that character may change from scene to scene), the happier readers are thought to be.

I see the scenes in my novel unfold in front of me like a movie. And like in a movie, I “know” what each of my characters is thinking and why they say and do what they say and do next, and I have a bad habit of writing that down. Fortunately (for me), my talented editor is a bear on POV and dings me for all sort of infractions I would have thought, “Hey, that’s OK.” And fortunately, I cannot peer into her mind when she’s had to flag a POV problem for the umpteenth time. I can only guess what she’s thinking—and it ain’t pretty.

Here are a couple of examples, from obvious to more subtle. For all of them, imagine you’re writing a scene in which the POV character is a chef named Tony:

  • Tony sat across the table from his best customer. Mr. Fatwallet studied the menu, trying to decide between the grilled halibut and the sweetbreads. (DING—Tony doesn’t know what Mr. Fatwallet is trying to decide between, unless Fatwallet says so. Solution: the writer could put that as a piece of dialog. “Tony, help me out here. I’m trying to decide between . . .”)
  • Tony sat across the table from his best customer. Mr. Fatwallet hesitated, then said, “I can’t decide . . .” (DING—Tony doesn’t know Mr. Fatwallet is hesitating—which comes out of his internal uncertainty—until he speaks. The delay could have occurred because his attention drifted to the dishy new server. Solution: Don’t describe it as a hesitation, but as a pause: After a minute, Mr. F. said . . . Or, put the problem in Tony’s head: Tony could have chopped three onions while waiting for Mr. Fatwallet to speak.)
  • Tony was in the kitchen, chopping onions. He ran cold water on a clean towel and brought it to his reddened eyes. (DING—I can hear my editor saying, “He can’t know his eyes are red unless he’s looking in a mirror!” Solutions: a] new text – Chopping onions always turned Tony’s eyes the color of a slab of ham; b] someone else notices – Mr. Fatwallet stuck his head into the kitchen. “Tony, have you been bawling?” c] take the easy way out –  He ran cold water on a clean towel and brought it to his streaming eyes.)

I’m sure my editor was tearing her hair out at the merry way I delved into the thoughts of everyone in scenes, at least in these more subtle ways, and here I thought I was POV-savvy! But that’s called head-hopping and roundly frowned upon.

The other reason I’ve been thinking about POV is writing the review of David Gilbert’s & Sons yesterday, I was reminded how the author used POV shifts to make his first-person narrator invisible. Philip Topping is the “I” on the opening page of the novel: “I myself remember watching friends . . .” We’re definitely in Philips head as the funeral of his father gets under way. “All this happened in mid-March, twelve years ago. I recall it being the first warm day . . .” And then, seamlessly, we are in the head of Andrew Dyer, the famous author, reduced to trolling the internet to crib a suitable eulogy.

In the first chapter, when I realized I was in Andrew’s thoughts, I had a “what just happened?” moment, so I turned back and noted how deliberately and subtly Gilbert had made the transition, erasing Philip from the scene. Repeatedly in this novel, Philip is there, then events occur that he cannot have been witness to. Where did he go? Is the fly on the wall, the ear at the door? When the author returns to Philip’s voice, the reader is as startled to encounter him again as the Dyers, father and sons, are, when they run into him in the hallway of the apartment, at the breakfast table, on the stairs.

Near the end, Philip says “ . . . I see Andy Dyer in the distance . . . I lift my head to be seen, but he doesn’t see me, like all those goddamn Dyers. He doesn’t even see me when I wave.” The effect is heartbreaking and so are the consequences of Philip’s invisibility. By Gilbert’s manipulation of point of view, he’s made the character like Philip truly work. (David Gilbert responded to this post saying, “The POV was a real struggle and a bit of a risk, but it seemed important to me exactly for the reasons you cited”)

–Vicki Weisfeld
This article appeared originally on Vicki Weisfeld’s regularly updated website,


Guarding-Shakespeare-200x300On Friday, February 5, 2016, James DeVita and PSWA Member Quintin Peterson were in conversation about their Shakespeare-inspired novels A Winsome Murder and Guiding Shakespeare at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

Murder and Guarding Shakespeare:

In Guarding Shakespeare, Special Police Officer Lt. Norman Blalock has been guarding the Folger Shakespeare Library’s priceless collection for 25 years. Nobody alive knows the library better. That’s why he is the perfect candidate to pull off an inside job and heist from the library’s underground bank vault a priceless artifact that can rock the foundation of English Literature. –Quintin Peterson

Author Noir

Marilyn Meredith, writing as F. M. Meredith, announces the publication of her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, A Crushing Death, published by Oak Tree Press and soon available on Amazon. Blurb:  A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for violent attacks on women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has problem.

Without a Head in the “Dying to be Beautiful” mystery series was published, February 1, of this year. Fashion Queen will be published on June 1, 2016. M. Glenda Rosen (Marcia G. Rosen) is the author.

When terrorists apparently strike one of Boston’s MBTA transit stations during the famed St. Patrick’s Day parade, the onslaught of federal and state officials turn the city into a chaotic police state. Only a veteran transit cop, jaded by his memories of growing up in the shadows of Boston’s forced busing and desegregation, knows the truth: The enemy is not some international terrorist cell but the politics and hubris that continually pit the haves and have­-nots against each other in one of the country’s oldest and most ­congested cities. Code Black delves into the many contradictions that shape Boston: wealth and poverty, liberal and conservative, academia and working-class, and even black and white. Recipient of third place in the 2015 Public Safety Writer’s Association contest, Code Black is an historical fiction thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.”

Code-Black-200x300Code Black, by PSWA member, Bill Fleming is now available at: – Code Black   and – Code Black

2016 Conference Program

Improving Your Dialog
Mysti Berry

WritMystiBerry-200ing effective dialogue is crucial in the art of fiction, and most writers can improve their dialog no matter how far along they are on their writing journey. Join award winning author, Mysti Berry, as she shows you special techniques to enhance your writing. These techniques, which have been devised from a combination of applied linguistics and screenwriting, can be used on any dialog problem. From the basic to the advanced, no matter where you are along the creative writing spectrum, these tips will improve your ability to write effective, natural sounding dialogue while advancing the plot. Bring pen and paper or a short (half page) scene with dialog you’d like to improve, and be prepared for an interactive writing session.

  Mysti Berry is an award-winning writer of screenplays, short stories, and novels. She earned a BA in Linguistics from UC Santa Cruz, and an MFA from University of San Francisco. She lives in San Francisco’s storied, forgotten neighborhood, OMI. Her latest short story, ”The Johnny Depp Kickline of Doom,” will appear in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 2016.

Investigating the 2001 Anthrax Attacks – An Evolution of Forensics
Scott Decker

ScottDecker200On October 4, 2001, a bio-terrorist attack reared its ugly head and struck our nation, which was still reeling from September 11th. FBI Agent Scott Decker was assigned to this new terrorism investigation and spent several years tracking the deadly microbe, anthrax, which was used in the attack. Knowing this silent and deadly weapon was capable of causing immense suffering in the wrong hands, the dedicated investigators were determined to leave no stone unturned, but traditional forensic methods were leading nowhere. Learn the real, inside story of what happened and what really was discovered inside the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation–An Evolution of Forensics.

Scott Decker joined the FBI as a Special Agent in 1990 and was first assigned to the Boston Division’s Bank Robbery Task Force. In 1997, he became the fourth member of the FBI’s new Hazardous Materials Response Unit and took the lead in developing the Bureau’s protocols for detecting, collecting and preserving evidence contaminated with biological threat agents. On September 12, 2001, he led a team of FBI Hazmat Officers to Ground Zero where they established a command post at the edge of the destruction. He returned from New York to head up a squad of agents—each with an advanced degree in science—at the Washington Field Office and coordinated the evolving forensics of the 2001 anthrax attack investigation. Decker retired from the FBI in 2011, holds a PhD in genetics, and is writing a book: ATTRIBUTION—A Living Weapon, Terrorism, and the Evolution of Forensics.

Writing for the Web—What it Takes to Get Published on the Web
Doug Wyllie

DougWyllie-200Getting published in the nonfiction market is a great way to establish yourself as a writer and build an impressive resume, but it’s no secret that it’s both problematic and difficult. One of the top editors and columnists from a leading media company gives you his unique insider’s perspective on what it takes to break into this competitive market. In this special presentation, Doug Wyllie, award-winning columnist and chief editor, will share his insights from both an editor’s and a columnist’s point of view, providing invaluable tips and detailing what it takes to get published in today’s tough and competitive nonfiction market.

Doug Wyllie, the editor-in-chief of PoliceOne, the leading digital media company for Public Safety & Local Government, is responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website as well as managing the planned editorial features by the roster of expert writers. Also an award-winning columnist, Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community. He is a past winner of the prestigious “Maggie Award” for the Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column, among his many other accolades.

Schedule of events

Thursday, July 14, 2016
3:00 PM-6:00 PM Registration—check in, get your conference bags and reception wristband
6:00 PM-9:00 PM No-host opening reception (wristband required for entry)
Friday, July 15, 2016
8:30 AM-9:00 AM Registration and check-in
9:00 AM-9:30 AM Opening reflections on the PSWA by our President/Queen, Marilyn Olsen
9:30 AM-10:15 AM Featured speaker: Mysti Berry

Writing Effective Dialogue

10:15 AM-10:30 AM Break
10:30 AM-11:15 AM Panel: Anatomy of a Murder

Moderator: Michael A. Black

Panelists: Mike Brandt, Dave Cropp, Robert Calkins, Steve Scarborough, Robert Haig, Gloria Casale

11:15 AM-11:30 AM Break
11:30 AM-12:15 PM Panel: The Writing Craft

Moderator: Mysti Berry

Panelists: John Schembra, JL Greger, Elena Hartwell, Barbara Hodges, Rick Ollerman

12:15 PM-1:15 PM Lunch (furnished)
1:15 PM-2:00 PM Featured speaker: Scott Decker

Investigating the 2001 Anthrax Attacks – An Evolution of Forensics

2:00 PM-2:15 PM Break
2:15 PM-3:00 PM Panel: Promotion

Moderator: Marilyn Olsen

Panelists: Marcia Rosen, Thonie Hevron, Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Barbara Hodges, Ellie Oberth

3:00 PM-3:15 PM Break
3:15 PM-4:00 PM Panel: Writing True Crime

Moderator: Marilyn Olsen

Panelists: Rannah Gray, Scott Decker, Pat McCarthy, Robert Haig, Gloria Casale

4:00 PM-4:15 PM Break
4:15 PM-4:45 PM An examination of point of view

Michael A. Black, Mysti Berry, Marilyn Meredith

4:45 PM-5:00 PM Book signings and one-on-ones
5:00 PM Closed rehearsal for actors in the radio play. Everyone else: dinner on your own
Saturday, July 16, 2016
9:00 AM-9:15 AM Welcome and housekeeping items
9:15 AM-10:00 AM Panel: Real-Life Stories of SWAT, Firearms, Less Lethal Weapons and Tactics Along the Use of Force Continuum

Moderator: Michael A. Black

Panelists: Dave Freedland, R J Beam, John Wills, John Howsden, Pat McCarthy

10:00 AM-10:15 AM Break
10:15 AM-11:00 AM Current Trends in Publishing

Moderator: Michelle Perin

Panelists: Austin Camacho, Billie Johnson, Geno Munari, Marcia Rosen, Marilyn Meredith, Michael A. Black

11:00 AM-11:45 AM Meet and greet the publishers and authors
11:45 AM-1:00 PM Lunch (furnished)
1:00 PM-1:45 PM Featured speaker: Doug Wyllie

How to write for the web

1:45 PM-2:00 PM Break
2:00 PM-2:45 PM Panel: The art of writing short stories

Moderator: Michael A. Black

Panelists: Mysti Berry, Bob Doerr, Joseph B. Haggerty Sr, Austin Camacho, Larry Collins, Rick Ollerman

2:45 PM-3:00 PM Break
3:00 PM-3:45 PM Panel: editing your work

Moderator: Michelle Perin

Panelists: Elena Hartwell, Marcia Rosen, Molly Knop, Rick Ollerman, Lorna Collins

3:45 PM-4:00 PM Break
4:00 PM-4:45 PM Panel: Jurisdictionally speaking

Moderator: Marilyn Olsen

Panelists: Jack Miller, Scott Decker, Rannah Gray, John Wills, Joseph B. Haggerty Sr, Bob Doerr

4:45 PM-5:15 PM Break
5:00 PM-5:45 PM Old Time Radio Show: The Adventures of Ellery Queen

The Players: : Steve Scarborough, Joe Haggerty, Sr., Thonie Hevron, Barbara Hodges, John Wills, Bob Haig, Bob Doerr, Illene Schneider, Elena Hartwell

The Jury: Ellen Kirshman, Marilyn Meredith, Janet Greger, Marilyn Olsen, Barbara Lloyd

Special Effects: Tim Dees

5:45 PM Book signings, dinner on your own
Sunday, July 17, 2016
9:00 AM-9:15 AM Welcome and housekeeping items

Marilyn Olsen

9:15 AM-10:00 AM Panel: Reflections on writing

Moderator: Mysti Berry

Panelists: : Lynne Hesse, Mar Preston, John Schembra, Elena Hartwell, Rabbi Ilene Schneider

10:00 AM-10:15 AM Break
10:15 AM-11:00 AM Panel: Writing what you know and what you don’t

Moderator: Marilyn Meredith

Panelists: Ellie Oberth, R J Beam, Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Mike Brandt, Mar Preston, Elena Hartwell

11:00 AM-11:15 AM Break
11:15 AM-12:00 PM Writing the perfect pitch

Larry and Lorna Collins

12:00 PM-12:15 PM Final book sale

Books must be picked up immediately following lunch

12:15 PM- Awards luncheon


PSWA Newsletter–December 2015

PSWA Newsletter
December 2015




molsen-200For many of us December seems to be the busiest time of the year with holiday events, finishing up end-of-the-year work-related business or, for some of you, digging the car out of the earlier than expected snow. Although the operators of the ski area about an hour or so from where I live in the Pacific Northwest were delighted by the several feet of snow they got a few days ago, maybe not so much for those of you, like Mike Black who lives in Chicago.

With all that’s going on, it’s always a temptation to put off working on that book, article, poetry or other writing you’ve been, well maybe, putting off since September. Hopefully, however, for most of you this is the time you’ll be the most inspired. Because, January 1, 2016 marks the day PSWA Writing Competition chair Michelle Perin will begin receiving entries. Details about the categories and deadlines will appear on the website soon. As always there will be a wide variety of categories, so no matter what you like to write, there is sure to be something there for you. As we’ve stressed each year, the competition also gives you the opportunity to stretch yourself a bit by entering work that is new for you. If you’ve only written fiction, try some non-fiction this year. If you’ve only written books, try a few short stories or some poetry. Or even some flash fiction. There is no limit to how many entries you submit.

At the end of February, also check the website for all the details about the up-coming July conference. Want to be a speaker? Want to suggest a speaker? Want to serve on a panel? Want to make suggestions for topics to be covered? Better yet, want to help out at the conference? Again, check the website for information on how to do this.

Meanwhile, take that nice cup of holiday eggnog over to the keyboard and settle in for a long winter’s night of writing. Come competition entry deadline time you’ll be glad you did!

–Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President


MikeBlack200x200It’s never too early to start submitting those ideas for next summer’s PSWA Conference. Our tentative dates are July 14-18, 2016. Once again, the gala affair will be held at the fabulous Orleans Hotel and Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. For those of you who don’t know, I do the programming for the conference, so I’m always interested in hearing the topics you’d like to see on the agenda. Remember, it’s all about you. The board members and I strive to keep the conference both an informative and a friendly event. I guarantee that it’ll be one of the most enjoyable conferences you’ll ever attend. We keep things devoid of pretension, and it’s made up of some of the nicest people you’ll meet. Although many of our PSWA members have backgrounds in public service, it’s certainly not a requirement. We’ve got a diverse membership, which helps us make the conference better each year.

As I said, the conference is all about the attendees. It takes an enormous amount of planning and work, but believe me, you won’t be disappointed. For those of you who haven’t attended before, you’ll be in for a special treat. As always, we’ll have some great speakers lined up, and the numerous panels are a mixture of sessions on writing and public safety topics. In addition, we also offer our annual writing contest and awards ceremony. The contest offers opportunities to submit both your published and unpublished work in a variety of categories and possibly become an award-winning author. You’ll also have the chance to rub elbows with professionals in the fields of both public safety and writing. It’s a great chance to learn more about topical subjects and research that book you’ve been planning. The networking opportunities are fabulous, and the atmosphere is always cordial and friendly.

We also have publishers with whom you can talk, and they’re usually happy to give you advice on any elevator pitches. We’re also mulling over the possibility of including a pre-conference Writer’s Boot Camp, taught by experienced published professional writers. It not only will include personal instruction on writing techniques, but will also offer you a chance to receive individual feedback on your writing. Last, but not least, you’ll also get some great meals, have a chance to stay in a luxurious hotel for very reasonable rates, and have plenty of time to explore one of the most fascinating and energizing cities in the world: Las Vegas, Nevada. There’s a lot to see and do there, including many unique sights such as Hoover Dam and the Mob Museum (which contains an actual wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre). Many PSWA Conference attendees tack on a couple extra days to explore the town and take in a show.

Every year we plan something unique spin for the conference. In years past we’ve had an interactive crime scene, a game show (CSI Jeopardy), and last year we did an old-time radio show. I’m still in the process of assembling the suggestions and topics, so if you have something you’d like to see addressed, send it to me at I hope to see you there. I promise, if you attend, you won’t be disappointed. So if you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to register for the conference as soon as the registration form is posted. There are early bird rates coming up, so keep checking the PSWA website. As I’ve said before, the PSWA Conference may not be the biggest one of the year, but it’ll certainly be the best.

I look forward to seeing you at the Orleans in July.

–Mike Black, PSWA Program Chair


Michelle-Perin-fire-200x200Hello fellow PSWA members. I’ve seen some wonderful discussions on the listserv. Members are also using their Facebook pages to share their successes. It’s great to see new members welcomed heartily and for long-term members to continue assisting each other with their writing goals. Books are being written and published. Marketing is happening. Money is being made and fame being had. After all, that’s why we’re in this business, right? Even if we’re not becoming legends with the general public, we can be legends with each other. So, what’s on the horizon for the PSWA? In my realm, several things are coming up and I’m seeking assistance from the membership.

First, the PSWA Writing Competition will begin on January 1st, 2016. Rules and entry forms will be posted on the PSWA website prior to that time. Remember there are categories for almost every genre and for published and non-published. Keep in mind that the writing has to somehow apply to publish safety. Have an ambulance drive by in one of your scenes? It’s related. I will be seeking qualified judges to help me out again.

Second, since I’ve taken over the reins of Vice President I have been remiss in continuing the great marketing work A.J. did before me. I would like to make that right and start putting together a plan. I will need people to help me in this endeavor as well. If you are interested in helping with either judging or marketing let me know. Either would be a great way to get involved in the organization. After all, it is YOUR organization. Hope to hear from many of you soon. Until then, keep up the great work.

–Michelle J.G. Perin, MS, Firefighter/EMT
Vice-President, Contest Chair, Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA)
Fundraising Coordinator, Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue
Visit me at


ron_corbin_200It’s late at night, and while driving home you suspect that you’re being followed. After a couple left and right turns, you see that the vehicle behind is still following. You slow down, they slow down. You speed up, they speed up. Naturally, to compound matters, you take out your cell phone and see that the battery is low or is not receiving any signal … of course, “Murphy’s Law”. A slight panic begins to take over, causing your heart to race as you stare more at the rear view mirror than the road ahead. What should you do?

With the advent of setting our clocks back to standard time in the autumn of each year, it is not uncommon to find ourselves driving home during the hours of darkness. And this scenario can occur for many of us when coming home from work or shopping, or even from one of the seasonal holiday parties.

For most women travelling alone late at night, this can be a frightening situation and create a sense of anxiety or minor panic. Suspecting that someone may be following you will initially cause a range of conflicting thoughts and emotions; flipping back-and-forth between being overly suspicious to overly cautious…fighting a case of denial, and trying to assure yourself that it’s all in your imagination.

Unlike most women’s fears, however, when this type of incident happens to men they will often put on their “cloak of bravado” and do something stupid…like stop and get out of their car to confront their perceived followers, or even play some road rage games. But men are “stupid,” right ladies?

So what is the best course of action if you find yourself in this situation? First, keep calm. Take some slow, deep breaths. Slowing your breathing down and getting more oxygen into your system makes a person think more clearly and able to make better decisions.

Ensure your car doors are locked and windows up. If you have to stop at a red traffic light signal, watch your side and rear view mirrors to observe if the suspicious person behind you exits his car. Be ready to run the red light if necessary, but by all means, do not cause an accident. Otherwise, honk your horn; flash your bright lights, and activate your four-way emergency flashers. In other words, create a scene of “Notice Me”!

A primary rule is … “Do Not Drive Home.” If someone is following, you do not want to let them know where you live. And don’t think you can possibly park and get into your house before someone can approach you. If you already happen to be on your residential street when all this occurs, continue driving past your house and go back onto a major roadway. And whatever you do, don’t get yourself boxed-in to a cul-de-sac or dead-end street.

So what are some other best options? Continue driving to a place that will provide some degree of increased public attention without the need for you exiting your vehicle.

How about driving to the nearest police station? Sounds good, but even that might not be the best idea, and here’s why. Many police stations are not open to the public except during normal daytime business hours. Believe it or not, even in a “24-hour” large city like Las Vegas, (due to budgeting) the local police stations are only open weekdays during business hours.

Okay then, what about a fire station? Again, not really a good thought since the firefighters and EMTs may be out on a call… another Murphy’s Law. And when you’re in a concerned or anxious state-of-mind like under these circumstances, can you even remember where the nearest police or fire station is located?

The best place to drive to in this incident is the nearest location open 24-hours where there is a lot of activity; where you can achieve immediate attention by honking your horn … places like 7-11s or other convenience stores, gas stations, or a major hotel. Some of the best places here in Las Vegas are hotel/casinos because they have valet parking. Another place for increased safety and immediate attention is the emergency room entrance at a hospital. Frequently these will have an armed security guard posted.

Although it’s illegal in most states to use a “hands-on” cell phone while driving, and dangerous for increasing the risk of a traffic accident, you can consider this a valid emergency. Call the police. Tell the dispatcher what you feel is happening and advise of your “roving” location. Stay on the line and, through the dispatcher, the police will rendezvous with you to check-out your concern.

Some other things to think about to help in this situation. Always keep your vehicle’s fuel tank at least 1/4 filled, and the engine and tires in good condition.

Finally, if you do get to your house before noticing a suspicious person following you and you have an automatic garage door, pull into the garage. Stay in your car with your doors locked until the garage door has been completely closed. Watch your mirrors to ensure nobody attempts to sneak in under the garage door. Most garage doors have a sensor that will cause the door to raise if someone tries to slip underneath. And remember, if you have the right car alarm system, you can use your key fob and activate the car alarm to attract attention from your neighbors.

Until the next time…Stay Alert and Stay Safe!
Ron Corbin


I read a book that says writers can—and even should—write just about anywhere and everywhere. We should write in cafes, restaurants, and coffee shops; on buses, boats, trains, and planes; and where beauty surrounds us in museums, art galleries, parks and of course libraries.

What a lovely idea to be able to write anywhere! One can even compose comfortably in a public place in full view and with full view of passersby. We can watch people moving at their own pace giving us impressions and insights for stories and for characters whose voices and personas we want to create.

We can write from the coffee shop down the street or from a café somewhere across the world. Sometimes we just move from idea to idea. Sometimes, in a precious moment, we find a concept that takes hold of us and we cannot let go of it until we have explored it and given it breath of life. Then we must determine whether we should support its development or let it die so we can move on unhampered to the next moment.

When I began to think about this, and then to write about such thoughts, I wondered, “Does it really matter where I write? There might be something special about a person or place that could become the focus of where I might begin, or even end, a story. However, the most important thing was not where I write, but that no matter where, I keep writing.

“I’m a writer,” I repeat aloud to myself when no one is near to wonder whether I might be crazy. I introduce myself as a writer to people I’ve never before met. I need them to believe this. I need to have others believe it so I will also be convinced of its truth. Call it what you may: ego, desire, or wishful thinking.

However, one day, on a vacation, I realized I needed a pen. For some reason, I could not find any of the several pens I had brought with me. So, I went into the office like a pilot on a mission and helped myself to one of their free pens. With it already in my hand, I said to the desk clerk, “I’m taking one of your pens. Writers shouldn’t be without a pen.” She smiled in apathetic agreement.

I had noticed the pens when I walked into the lobby earlier that morning. There they were: Vermont green pens with white stenciling on them that promoted the Inn’s name and phone number. Its web address was clearly imprinted on it as well. It’s a new world.

Yes, I could have used my computer and ultimately I do. But it’s just not the same for me. It’s not the same to someone who feels about pen and paper the way I do. I write on lined pads of beautifully colored paper. I have them in purple and blue and pink. I love the way it feels when my pen touches the paper. I know that when the words appear they are from my voice. Sometimes the words and phrases seem to spread across the colored paper as if by magic!

It was right then and there in the Vermont Inn that I decide to begin “A Collection of Pens.” It would be both a story and a real collection. I would collect pens from everywhere and anywhere that I wrote. Then, I would write about my collection of pens. “After all, I’m a writer.”

I decided I would also buy a “special pen” in each city I visited. My collection of pens would remind me of the dreams of my youth and the belief of that dream becoming reality in my older age. The pens would be my brush as if I was an artist.

Together, we are in this pursuit of words and sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters that become a book filled with human dignities, and at times, even indignities. In books, we can find ourselves or lose ourselves. We pretend and envision that we could lead that life and occupy a special place in the book.

When people at my book signings tell me about themselves and their dreams, I feel a connection. I understand their hunger. It was my hunger as well to have a dream fulfilled. Too often we writers do not have people who encourage us. Sometimes we have one or two, but it is not always enough. There are those people in our lives who have told us we are foolish or unrealistic. We often give them too much power.

People who should have supported me said: “Who do you think you are?” Although I long ago I shook that voice, beat it, drowned it and buried it beneath layers of hopefulness. I answered by reminding myself of my accomplishments: “I’m a writer. I not only have my collection of pens, I also have books I’ve written and ones I’m writing now to prove it.”

So do many of you!!!

–Marcia G. Rosen
Author, New Mystery Series, “Dying To Be Beautiful”
“Eliminate The MindBlocks A COLLECTION OF PENS©
By M. Glenda and RoadBlocks to Success”
“My Memoir Workbook”
“Living An Illuminated Life”


CroppDave200x200FBI Director James Comey recently painted the police across America as anxious (fearful) in doing their job. He suggested the “Ferguson effect” as the culprit in influencing this anxiety. The result: cops not doing their jobs—rising murder rates and violent crime in cities including Chicago, Milwaukee, and Baltimore.

As veteran public safety professionals who now make up the literary society known as the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA), we have seen plenty of anxiety-producing events. And yet, somehow we always find ways to do our jobs. We know the risks; maybe we’re attracted to the excitement of the job, or we value the risks of helping others above the risk of personal harm. Many have paid dearly. We mourn our losses.

However; these incidents influence stories and novels, articles and books. We store away memories and emotional tangents like anyone else, and when the time is right, we bring them up from the darkness like a phoenix, and they take form and flight in our prose.

Officers always weigh the pros and cons of any situation—this is what we’re trained to do. The advent of smart phones and instant social media simply provide us with new challenges. I don’t think that “fear” is the right word. Perhaps it’s caution or a new level of assessment. Or perhaps it’s just another challenge in the face of a constantly evolving social climate. So be it.

One bittersweet way to cope with this sociopolitical challenge is to write about it. Writing helps us understand things more effectively; it allows us to vent and create a higher level of cognitive reasoning in the face of difficult situations. Writing has long been recognized as an effective intervention in managing grief and loss.

Personally, I look forward to reading more about this so-called “Ferguson effect.” I’d like to encourage young officers to write about what they see and hear … and feel. Put it down on paper, write about it and explain it—and tell us what to think about it. They listen to veterans, like us with the PSWA, lament the good-old-days, maybe it’s time we listen to what they’re going through.

–David Cropp

David Cropp is a 36-year law enforcement veteran—34 of those years spent with the Sacramento Police Department (SPD); retiring as a detective sergeant in 2008 – David continues today as a retired reserve for the Citrus Heights, CA Police Department. David has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in behavioral science, and is a CA POST Master Instructor.

David’s articles have appeared in various publications including the CA Narcotics Officer, the International Journal of Police Science and Management, and Police One:

David’s first novel, Valley Heat is due out in June 2016. Visit David at:, or at Amazon,


Hilary-Romig-200x200When it comes to policing, fire-fighting, EMS work, or any other type of first responder work, there comes safety in numbers. Public safety employees are supposed to implement their knowledge and training into their daily lives to ensure safety for their respective communities. However, we must ask ourselves are our first responders safe? Their safety is equally important since they are the ones who keep us safe.

Lately, the news has been filled with stories of attacks on our police officers. These stories while sad, should give us insight into how people in many communities perceive our officers. It also gives us great insight into how departments can increase the security and safety for their own. One precaution is to ensure that no officer is left alone at a scene. This may seem a bit extreme in some cases, but two is always better than one. If this is an imposition, for some departments, perhaps other first responders can rely on each other. For example, if a lone officer is called to a domestic disturbance scene, perhaps a fireman can be dispatched as well. This would not only ensure safety for the responders, but it would allow a health aid to be on the scene as well if the citizen should need help in that regard.

Officers are always trained on how to handle a variety of situations. This tactical training should be updated and refreshed often so that if faced with such a situation, the officers will know how to handle it.

With all of the negativity that has been surrounding police departments across the nation, it is important to regain strength in numbers within the community. The more a community is educated on the positive side of policing, the more potential of keeping the officers safe as well. Many cities have civilian training programs offered at their police departments. While these give civilians education regarding law enforcement from the source, it also gives law enforcement the chance to partner with the people of their community.

Just as it is important to keep our streets safe, it is equally important to keep law enforcement safe. If everyone does their part, we can make it happen.

–Hilary Romig


john_wills_200When writing fiction, be it a short story, mystery, suspense, horror, or thriller, you will want to include scary stuff.

How do you figure out what might scare people? How about focusing on the things that scared you?

All of us have had things that frightened us when we were children, things like insects (spiders for me), darkness, imaginary creatures in closets or under beds. How about getting lost in a bad area and not being able to find your way home? Or perhaps the fear of heights or of flying? All of these fears can be the basis for a great Halloween story, since many of our childhood fears follow us into adulthood.

Can you recall a time when you were scared? Maybe when you were out and a stray dog snarled and almost attacked you? How did it make you feel? Frightened, nervous—were you sick to your stomach, pulse increase, did you begin to sweat? All of these responses are the perfect way to involve the reader in your story and have them feel the same way.

Have you ever had a confrontation with someone who wanted to harm you? Perhaps you experienced the “fight or flight syndrome.” You may have been scared to death, but your fear helped you overcome the situation. An instance such as this can be the basis for an excitingly frightful tale.

If you involve a likeable character, one the reader can accept, and then involve him or her in a tension-filled situation that evolves slowly, you will have a killer story for Halloween. Make sure you leave some room for imagination. Sometimes things left unsaid are the scariest, for it leaves the reader to imagine the worst.

Good luck!

John M. Wills
Member: National Book Critics Circle
Latest novel: HEALER


I debated titling this article “The Cadence of the Written Word and the War on Adverbs.” The versatile modifier has been under fire the past few years due to an onslaught by currently preferred styles, made virtually sacrosanct by certain self-proclaimed experts, who unfortunately are the current heavyweights in the field of writing. Perhaps the most fatuous example was provided by bestselling author, Stephen King, who made the officious pronouncement that “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” While I believe that Mr. King was intentionally being a bit hyperbolic in that statement, it’s certainly true that the hapless adverb has fallen out of favor with current writing stylistic preferences. This is due, in part, to how the written words sound. Nothing can ruin the cadence of a sentence faster than a misplaced or superfluous modifier. This brings us to the topic of this piece.

A lot of beginning writers overlook the fact that the written word is actually “heard” as well as seen. What I’m referring to is the cadence of your prose. How does it sound to your “writer’s ear?” Certainly, a good writer should consider this in his writing. (You’ll notice I used the masculine pronoun, his, as my standard default; I simply deplore the current trend of political correctness that is corrupting the standard reference by claiming “sexism,” and deferring to the dreaded third person plural, their. That, however, a subject for another time, but while I’m in this parenthetical break, I’d also like to point out how much those occasional adverbs in the preceding passages actually enhanced the cadence.)

I know you’re probably thinking, I wish he would get back to the primary topic, and I shall. Perhaps an illustration of the subject matter would be in order here. Let’s take a look at one of the most enduring quotes from master essayist, Henry David Thoreau.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Now Thoreau was, among his many attributes, a skilled observer of the cadence of the written word. The aforementioned sentence is a perfect example. He could have easily written it as The majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation, or Most men lead lives of … These two substandard variations illustrate perfectly the importance of choosing the right word. (You’ll note, once again, the enhancement of the previous sentence by the inclusion of still yet another adverb, Mr. King.) By using the monosyllabic mass instead of a multisyllabic word such as majority, Thoreau demonstrated his keen knowledge of the “writer’s ear.” While the two, aforementioned, substandard substitutions, majority and most, still offer the same meaning as well as the alliterative impact of mass, neither has the sibilant smoothness that allows the gliding cadence of the words as they couple with the subsequent, assonant S sounds of lives and desperation. Try reading the original sentence along with the two ersatz variants and you’ll see what I mean.

The late, great Truman Capote was another master of creating sentences that flowed with the easy cadence that was so pleasing to the writer’s ear. Take a look at these examples from his magnificent memoir, “A Christmas Memory.”
Long after the town has gone to sleep and the house is silent except for the chimings of a clock and the sputter of fading fires, she is weeping …

The onomatopoetic chimings of the clock and the sputter of the fading fire enhance the sentence by letting the reader “hear” the imagery, even though chimings is a bit of a backformation, changing the intransitive verb into a noun for the sake of the imagery. He repeats this tendency in the following example, as well, with shrillings, but what’s a backformation here and there when it’s done for the sake of preserving the eloquent cadence?

Here, there, a flash, a flutter, an ecstasy of shrillings remind us that not all the birds have flown south.

Observe how the sentence, which is also from “A Christmas Memory,” mimics the frenetic activity of some startled birds as the narrator and his companion walk in the woods. One can almost ”hear” the frenzied flapping of wings

Thus, in summation, an astute writer should remember that we read not only with our eyes, but with our “ears,” as well. Additionally, please keep in mind that an occasional sprinkling of adverbs, while currently frowned upon by stylists, should be done with appropriate circumspection. After all, even a master chef knows when to toss in a little salt to flavor the soup.

Until next time, I remain basking in my anonymity.

Write well.

–Professor X


Lynn-Hesse-200x200I joined a creative process group thinking that I didn’t need to dwell on the writing process as much I needed to do it. Yes, of course, I wrote, but I found that documenting the process allowed me to see the amount of time I spent on research, editing, and pondering the next milestone in the plot or character development. I was writing in my head most days, all day long, no matter what activity engaged my body.

I write fiction filtering reality and that tests my patience. It is a useless exercise to wish I could outline and write a scene each day. Basically, I write a paragraph, and then if I am lucky, another paragraph. I make myself sit for an hour, but sometimes in fifteen-minute intervals. I rewrite, check the facts, ponder the right word for the meaning I want, rewrite, try to write the next scene, read it out loud, yuk, horrible, rewrite, let it sit, rewrite, ask myself why, scream, take a walk, an idea bubbles, write some, dream about the work, write a new scene, feel gleeful, get stuck, realize that plot line can’t happen in that year and so on.

On most days I would compare writing a book to childbirth with the gestation periods marked in chapters. Most of the growing goes on inside me without my intervention and seems miraculous or alien–depending on the day. The good days are when my characters speak to me. I lose track of time. I write four hours without looking up at the clock. The protagonist insists on going her own way in the plot, and I gladly follow, because I am lost in fierce wonder. I am at the bottom of the ocean watching the seaweed bend in the current toward the shore and holding my breath while trying to have faith, give in, and float back to dry land.

–Lynn Tharp-Hesse


In most cases you probably asked to be a guest. They may have guidelines for you and if so be sure to follow them. In my case, I always ask the guest to put all the information into one WORD file: The title of the post, a brief blurb about the book they are promoting, a short bio, and all links. It can be sent as an attachment, and a .jpg of the cover and a photo of the writers should also come as attachments.

I like the post to be in New Times Roman, 12 point, but some hosts may prefer something else. I also want the post to be set up like this—no indents for paragraphs, single spaced, and a space between paragraphs.

The post should be sent as soon as possible, never wait until the last minute.

On the day the post comes out, make sure it’s there. Leave a comment thanking the host for inviting you. Copy the address and promote the blog on Facebook, Facebook groups, Twitter and all the listserves you belong to.

It is up to you to promote you guest post, not the host—though he or she will probably promote some too.

I love having guests on my blog, all you have to do is email me and I’ll set something up:

–Marilyn Meredith, Newsletter Editor
My Blog:


Extreme-Medical-Services-20Jamie Davis is a new member this year, and with a new book, Extreme Medical Services









Elena-Hartwell-200x200Another new member is Elena Hartwell. She has a new book out, One Dead, Two to Go, published by

Blurb: Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye.

The last anyone will see of the woman … alive.



Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Eddie hates to be stiffed for her fee, but she has to wonder if Kendra could be in trouble too … or is she the killer?

One Dead, Two To
Go is smart, page-turning fun, with the most feisty and likable P.I. since Kinsey Millhone. Looking for your next favorite detective series? Look no further.” —Deb Caletti, National Book Award finalist and author of He’s Gone




Michael Brandt (Ret. LAPD) took first place short story winner for “Tomo Dachi” from the U.S. Section of the International Police Association.

“Tomo Dachi” is a short story about a World War II Marine that must emotionally come to terms over a Japanese War Memorial Shrine on Corregidor Island; honoring the enemy while he suffered physically and mentally at the hands of his captors.

Diana-Sprain-200x200What is your Emergency? The History of Public Safety Dispatching in America by Diana Sprain is now available. I trace the history of dispatchers from the beginnings of radio to today’s specialists (Tactical, Incident Management Teams, and Emergency Medical Dispatchers). I review some major incidents, dispatchers in the media (television and films) and go over hiring & training.









PSWA Newsletter–September 2015

PSWA Newsletter
September 2015


  •  “HE’S GOT A GUN!”


molsen-200Fellow PSWA members,

No matter who we are or how old we may be, around this time of year, we can’t help but start thinking about the upcoming fall months the way we always did when we were kids and began looking forward to the new start the school year would bring.  Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had an unseasonable amount of summer, starting with warmer winter temperatures and a disappointing snow pack in the mountains that took the “ski” out of our annual “ski to sea” relay race in June.  The hot and dry weather that usually begins for us in July even came as early as mid-May.  So I’m extra ready for cool nights and yes, rain.

Whatever the weather is like where you live, however, it’s time to get serious about that writing project you’ve been putting off all summer.  So, no more excuses.   Those of you who now have bright gold award winning author stickers on your books as a visible recognition of placing in the PSWA Writing Competition should now begin looking forward to another winning entry.  Will it be a sequel to a book you just completed?  The start of a new book with a new plot and characters?  Will this be the year you decide to try writing in a different genre?  Poetry?  Flash Fiction? Non-fiction?  More and more PSWA authors are beginning to take on this challenge and have enjoyed the experience.

Or maybe this is the year that you really WILL finish that manuscript that has been languishing in a folder on your computer, patiently awaiting your resolve to get on with it!  Or maybe this is the year that you actually start that novel or biography or magazine article you’ve so far just been thinking about.

If the upcoming fall isn’t enough of an incentive for you, consider joining other PSWA members who find inspiration by becoming active on the list serve.  Or, if you attended the 2015 conference, getting in touch with the people you enjoyed meeting there.  One of the major goals of the conference is providing a networking opportunity for members, building relationships that continue on long after we eat that last yummy piece of chocolate cake at the awards ceremony.

Whatever you decide to do, or whatever inspires you, make this the time of year you get out those proverbial new crayons and create something new and wonderful for yourself and the readers out there eagerly awaiting your work of art.

We all look forward to reading it!

–Marilyn Olsen, President


Well, the 10th Anniversary PSWA Conference is now in the history books and I must say, I’m breathing a bit easier these days. To say that producing a conference of this size and quality was a daunting task is an understatement, but it was also a labor of love.

First of all, I‘d like to thank all of you who came and participated. By all indications, the conference was a big success, and everyone in attendance seemed to have had a good time.

I know I did. Second, I’d like to give a special thanks to my fellow board members, our Queen, Marilyn Olsen, alpha geek, Tim Dees, Newsletter Editor, Marilyn Meredith, Writing Contest Coordinator, Michelle Perin, Treasurer and book store manager, Nancy Farrar, and our man on the ground, PSWA Secretary, Keith Bettinger.

Thanks, too, to Madeline Gornell who worked so hard on the PSWA welcoming committee, only to have an unexpected health issue conflict with her attendance. Steve Scarborough also gave me a hand in organizing the radio play (mustache and all), and I’d like to express my appreciation to all of the PSWA Players who participated.

Believe me, a lot of work went on behind the scenes to keep things on track and running smoothly. We also had a fabulous line-up of speakers and panelists this time around. Kudos to all of them as well.

We did a preliminary examination of the conference evaluations, and once again, they were overwhelmingly favorable. While we strive to make it an outstanding conference and try to make everyone happy, it’s virtually an impossible task. Nevertheless, we’re always out to improve ourselves and do listen to all those comments, both positive and negative. So thanks for your feedback.

Along those lines, I’ve already started to make plans for next year and have received some ideas and proposals. I’d like to encourage everyone to send me your suggestions at I’ve been toying around with a few new ideas for the conference including the possibility of doing a special writer’s workshop session next year.

Immediately following the PSWA Conference I had to travel to Gunnison, Colorado to the Writing in the Rockies conference. It was hosted by Western Colorado University, and I was the keynote speaker. Between the thin air and exhausting schedule, I was practically a basket case by the time July was finishing up. Plus, I have a September 1st deadline for my latest Executioner novel (working title, Cold Wars) and I’ve been working non-stop on that since I returned. I even managed to write in the various airports and hotel rooms. (That’s the definition of real desperation.)

Anyway, thanks again to everyone for making our 10th anniversary conference so memorable. Next year will be “lucky eleven,” which fits our Las Vegas location. In the meantime, like old Dean Martin used to say, “Keep those cards and letters coming, cause I read every one.”

Mike Black, Conference Chair


CroppDave200x200We used to be a “club.”  Now we’re an “association.”  But if you ask me, the Public Safety Writers Association feels more like a literary society.  The diversity of its members, their individual passions and publications expand one’s literary horizons.  When you see the extent of experience represented therein you cannot help to feel inspired, and without a doubt, come away from the annual conferences with a renewed sense of what it means to be a writer.

There is no need to feel anxious, or threatened.  True; many PSWA members are successfully published authors with a gift for prose that is on one hand inspiring and on the other, intimidating; however you can relax; you’re among friends—socialize—discuss contemporary concepts of public safety, or learn about developing dialog from the many presenters. You won’t be bombarded with monolithic egos and you won’t be dismissed at the expense of self-serving promoters. You’ll be among friends.  You’ll be supported and valued.

Come on out—be inspired.  Be a part of the 2016 PSWA conference and learn what took me twelve years to discover—be a part of the PSWA literary society, you won’t regret it.

–David Cropp, an award winning writer and contributor to several law enforcement anthologies, and to Police One News

David’s first novel Valley Heat—will be coming out in summer of,

Visit David at, or at Amazon:


Victoria-Westfield-200The late Elmore Leonard advised budding crime-writers, “when your story starts to drag, have someone pull out a gun.” Maybe too many of us have been following that advice, because several recent books aim to inject more accuracy into the portrayal of guns (and other weaponry). Errors make some readers swear off a writer and, as the introduction to Benjamin Sobieck’s The Writer’s Guide to Weapons explains, “no wrath is greater than that of firearms enthusiasts.”

According to a recent post in Jane Friedman’s excellent “Resources for Writers” blog, written by Sobieck, here are key points about guns that writers should keep in mind to avoid those credibility-shattering results:

  1. Clip and magazine are not the same. A clip holds cartridges that go into a magazine. Most modern firearms don’t require a clip. But it sounds good, no? Clip: Manly. Magazine: Better Homes & Gardens
  2. Bullet is not the same as shell, round, or cartridge. You never find empty bullets on the ground after a shooting. Casings, yes.
  3. The whole pumping of a shotgun or cocking the hammer of a handgun is a sound cue from the movies, intended for intimidation, but, as Sobieck says, “less to do with looking tough and more to do with being stupid.” These extra and in most cases unnecessary pumps/cocks just “dump unfired ammunition onto the ground.” Why would anyone intimidate another person with a firearm, if it weren’t ready to fire? Good question. Ask your author.
  4. While this would seem to be an “it goes without saying” kind of thing, a character should never look down the barrel of a gun to see whether it’s loaded. Who’d be that stupid? I had a clip showing a TV character actually doing this, but it has disappeared. Sorry!
  5. And, perhaps the most pervasive of all gun errors in both news and entertainment media currently, the term “assault weapon.” This actually is meaningless. ANY weapon can be used for assault. The industry doesn’t use it. Sobieck says “tactical rifle (or shotgun), machine gun, submachine gun, fully automatic rifle,” or even “gun” are more meaningful than “assault weapon.”
  6. The term “automatic weapon” is often elided to mean either a semi-automatic weapon (which shoots one time with each trigger pull) or a “fully automatic weapon” which fires many times with a single pull. The idea of “automatic” weapons needs to be well defined. Fully automatic weapons are not very accurate after the first few shots because of recoil, so long, Rambo-inspired bursts of fire are actually useless if the goal is to hit anything.

Finally, in his book, Sobieck includes “Ten Golden Tips for Writing about Weapons,” which includes this advice: “If it’s in a movie or on television, it’s probably inaccurate.”

Vicki Weisfeld

PSWA member Vicki Weisfeld writes mysteries and thrillers and has an active website with writing tips, book & movie reviews, and other good stuff. Visit her at


Joe-Haggerty-200We seem to live in a society that is more interested in celebrity than principles.  Demonstrating your opinion is easier when you’re deciding who the winner is on “American Idol” or “Dancing with the Stars”. I understand that these shows are an escape from reality and don’t require much thought in decision making, but if these are the only incidences in which a person votes or expresses an opinion then our country is doomed. It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican or if you choose to be neither. Having a general knowledge of what is happening with your Government directly affects your future and the future of your family.

Different shows have had on the street interviews with various people. The questions asked of these people were related either to history, current events or in recognizing various political figures or celebrities. The answers these people gave were sadly incredible and demonstrated a total lack of knowledge or concern for the actions of their Government. I think most people take the position that there is really nothing they can do to alter or prevent the actions of the Government, so they would rather put their efforts in enjoying themselves with entertainment or as spectators to sporting events. Too many of our teenagers and young adults are completely addicted to video games. Spending most of their time in front of computers or their phones, searching for fun. In my day television was our outlet from the rest of the world. Technology has always provided ways for us humans to escape.

Today technology provides us with news in real time, but too many times that news has done more to depress us or wishing that we lived in a better world. Again, we feel helpless. What can we do about what’s happening? How can we make the world a better place? Those questions are rarely answered. Instead, we go about our lives and think this won’t happen to me or my family.

For a country to be strong, its citizens must be educated and support its Government. Whose responsibility is it for us to be educated? The Government, whether it be State or Federal?  How do we support our Government? Paying taxes or voting for our representatives to run the Government? Education should be easy, we have required schooling from first to twelve grade. We have many colleges and universities to further that education strictly on a volunteer basis, if you have the money or the time. But, education is not just about academics, its learning how to survive. Getting a job, supporting yourself or a family, having a place of your own. Shouldn’t learning to survive also include educating yourself about your Government? After all, who makes the laws, who decides what taxes we pay and doesn’t our Government also supply the means by which it protects the citizens? Are these things important towards our survival?

Our Government representatives make the laws, determine our taxes and maintain the armies and law enforcement that protect us. These Government representatives are elected to their positions by the citizens. How do the citizens know which person to vote for? Unfortunately it is usually based on celebrity rather than the character or achievements of the candidate. Sometimes it is based on what particular political party the candidate represents, again, disregarding their character or achievements. In Maryland, signs were posted at polling stations and along highways that said vote democrat. No candidate’s name was mentioned, it just said vote democrat. I thought that was an insult to voters. Don’t concern yourself with integrity or achievement, just vote for the person because he or she is a democrat.

I believe everyone should vote, but they should vote based on their knowledge of the person running for office. Whether that person is white, black, Latino or Asian, male or female, democrat or republican should not be the reason you vote. What are the issues in your county, state or country? Determine their positions from various sources; newspapers, television, or the internet. Talk to other voters or citizens. There are always biases. Learn the facts. If they previously held an elected office, how did they vote on issues you have an interest. During the presidential election in 2008 a black reporter went to Harlem and interviewed several black citizens about the upcoming election. He purposely lead people to believe that Barrack Obama was supporting certain policies or changes to policies. Every person he interviewed agreed that these policies were good or that the changes Obama wanted to make were sound. All of these policies and changes to policies were espoused by Sarah Palin not Barrack Obama. This is not meant to belittle President Obama or his campaign, but rather to demonstrate that the people this reporter interviewed were basing their opinion on celebrity not substance.

The information put out about a candidate may be true or it may be false. If it is something you find offensive, dig deeper, attempt to find out the truth. Everyone has heard something about a candidate, if they listen, but was it based on prejudice or propaganda.  There is saying that opinions are like assholes everyone has one, but what is that opinion based on? I believe everyone should have an opinion, but that opinion should be based on information they gathered however it obtained. To be apathetic or to have no opinion is worse than having the wrong opinion.

Obviously, this is my opinion, but will respect and appreciate yours.

Joseph B. Haggerty Sr.

Author of the novels: Shame: The Story of a Pimp and An Ocean in the Desert

Contributor to the PSWA anthology: Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides

Award winning poet and lecturer on the sexual exploitation of women and children in prostitution and pornography


Not having enough to do with trying to finish my third book (which I’m been trying to finish for four years now), I decided a few months ago to put my writing skills to the test by entering my first film contest.

For full disclosure, I’ve been writing screenplays for about as long as I’ve been a published author. In fact, in 2008, when the publication of my first novel, Gumbo Justice, was put on hold while I recovered from a head-on collision with a drunk driver, I decided to try my hand at screenwriting.  I was immobile for months with a broken left femur, a broken right tibia and fibula, and a shattered left elbow. The one thing I could do was peck at my laptop from my bed.

So I wrote my first screenplay, a big budget science fiction named Angel Trap that did relatively well in the contest circuit and prompted me to keep writing screenplays. This past year, however, I decided to go a step further and write and produce a short film for a local film festival, Timecode Nola.  My husband Julio has previously acted for other producers in the festival, but this would be the first time we would be completely in charge of a production.

Timecode Nola is unique in that the films must be five minutes or shorter, and the top fifteen films are selected to be a part of a feature film that Timecode Nola submits to different film festivals around the world. They have a different requirement each year; this year, it was time of day. We drew three o’clock a.m., so we had to create a five minute film showing something that could happen in New Orleans at three in the morning, and we had two weeks to get it done.

First, we began assembling our team. I was amazed at the number of talented people who will work for free just to be involved in a production.  We were also lucky that Julio has made friends with a cameraman/editor for one of the local news channels who is nothing short of genius.

We next found a location, a bar owned by one of our friends, and worked out the details.  In the meantime, I wrote the script, edited, and sent it out via email to our cast and crew.

When it was time to shoot, we had a few issues, such as the bar was still packed with last night’s drunk crowd at 6:00 a.m.  We ultimately had to kick them out because the owner had to close the bar so my daughters, who are both underage and were involved in the production, could legally go inside. We ended up getting signed waivers and writing three or four of them into the script because they wouldn’t leave.  We shot from 7:00 a.m. until around 4:00 p.m.  Our bar scene included a big shoot out with prop guns, which was really loud and smoky. The New Orleans Police Department never showed up to check it out. Kind of scary, but not totally unexpected in the neighborhood we were in.

Our camera guy started editing that night. The following Saturday night we shot all of the exterior scenes and night scenes.  By the following day, the film was edited, had the sound cleaned up and a soundtrack added to it–Julio’s brother is a local music producer– and we turned The Shylock’s Daughter in on time. The following week it was screened and seeing that short, five minute movie was amazing. At the end, we learned that ours was chosen to be one of the fifteen, so it will premiere in other festivals this year as well, which is really exciting.

We’ve since produced another short film, titled Famiglia, this one for the New Orleans 48-Hour Film Project last month. For that one, each team had to draw a genre at the Kick Off event, and had to write, film, edit, sound design, and turn in the film in 48 hours.  There was also an assigned prop, character, and line of dialogue that had to be included in the film. Unfortunately, we were twelve minutes late turning our film in. This meant that we were not eligible to compete in the individual prize categories, but our film was still screened in the Solomon Victory Theater at the World War II museum, which was a big deal.

Seeing a film you’ve written and directed on the big screen is a lot like seeing your book published for the first time, except with a film, there are a lot more people involved and a lot more people counting on you to be successful. Fortunately, I think our team has been happy with what we’ve created with them, and all of them have said they will work with us again when we do something else.

And while we were working on these films, I learned that a TV. pilot I wrote and another pilot I wrote with Julio, both made the quarter finals of the Page International Screenwriting Awards, and a feature I wrote, Proclivity, won first place at the PSWA writer’s conference. It definitely took a little of the sting out of not having our film judged because of being late.

Now we are thinking of starting our own contest, where people would submit short screenplays and we would choose a winner, with the prize being we produce the short and give the writer the reel so he or she would have a produced film.

But first I have to finish writing my third book.

Holli Castillo


Victoria-Westfield-200CSI’s wise-cracking investigators, expensive cars, and sexy co-workers with great hair? High on the drama scale, low on reality. Crime and mystery writers striving for drama and accuracy have to get past such exaggerated expectations. Deborah Cole, a forensic scientist with the New Jersey State Police, spoke to a recent meeting of the Liberty States Fiction Writers Group about forensic science myths.

The first is how television has primed people to believe that forensic science is infallible. The reality is that it cannot always provide definitive answers. Nor is it true that scientists never make mistakes or mess up the chain of custody. Sometimes “a good defense attorney can find holes,” she said. (Interestingly, criminals have become aware of the power of forensics and have learned from TV how to cover their tracks more effectively.)

Response is not as fast as people expect. Some states have only one crime laboratory, and crime labs are often small and outfitted with, well, not-the-latest equipment. As a result, they may have a backlog of testing to do, which adds to the time needed to complete tests (or whether they are ever completed at all, with unexamined rape test kits a prime example). Some tests themselves take a long time to produce results. Tests for different toxic substances must be conducted individually, and all this may take a month or more to complete.

Forensic scientists do not interrogate suspects and witnesses, regardless of what TV suggests. Not their skill set. And they certainly don’t make arrests. They may be called to a high-profile crime scene, but they aren’t there first (unlike in the UK’s Midsomer Murders TV series where the ME and crime scene team is always working away—with findings!—by the time the investigating detectives arrive). When they do visit a scene, they collect evidence to bring to the lab for analysis by someone else.

One scientist cannot handle an entire case. Forensic scientists are specialized (in the lab, their focus may be toxicology, chemical analysis, ballistics, and so on), which means that the evidence from a single case may be tested by a number of different scientists. The New Jersey State Police lab employs 130 scientists in different disciplines, and they are involved in some 35,000 cases a year.

Another reason one person can’t do it all relates to the Locard exchange principle: “whenever two objects come in contact with each other, there is always an exchange of material.” The practical application of this principle is that material from the clothing, floor, furniture, car, or other environs of the crime, which is gathered from the scene, from the victim, and from the suspected perpetrator (if there is one) must all be processed in different rooms and even by different people, in order to avoid cross-contamination.

Finally, Cole said (and she laughed when she said this), tv gives the impression that every day is exciting!

Further Information:

Victoria D. Weisfeld

My writing website:


I was all set to reveal my identity at the tenth PSWA Conference this past July, but at the last minutes I decided against it. For one thing, there was so much going on that the opportunity never seemed to present itself. I came away feeling that perhaps this was indeed a stroke of luck. In one of my more ribald moments, I once composed an aphorism that the definition of a gratifying experience was to be able to fart in a crowded bus or elevator and remain anonymous. Not that I am comparing the writing of my various commentaries to the act of passing gas, but there are certain similarities.

Let us dispense without further ado to this edition’s grammatical reflections. By examining the title, it seems apropos to an examination of the use of the possessive apostrophe. Basically stated, the possessive apostrophe is used to form the possessive case for nouns and indefinite pronouns. Thus, a pen belonging to John, is John’s pen. Possessive pronouns also are used in various degrees of designation. John’s pen is in his pocket. Mary’s keys are in her purse. When gender is non-specific of unspecified, an indefinite pronoun is used: This must be someone’s pen. Really? It could be anyone’s pen as well.

Forming the possessive of singular nouns ending in s is formed by adding ‘s. Thus, that looks like the boss’s pen. Elvis’s home was called Graceland. Now sometimes, the sound of a pronunciation is taken into account, and the s following the apostrophe is omitted: The men listened to James’ speech.

Another bit of confusion can result in forming the possessive for plural words. Add only the apostrophe after the s: The girls’ soccer team is in first place.

Don’t use the possessive apostrophe with possessive pronouns (his, hers, its, ours, yours, theirs, and whose). The bird is in its nest. Many people confuse the contraction, it’s with the possessive pronoun, thereby erroneously writing, The bird is in it’s nest. No, no, no… This is totally incorrect. And never write, Who’s responsibility is it? By this time, it should be clear whose responsibility it is.

In way of review, a contraction is the combination of two words; in the aforementioned case these two words are pronoun and verb, “it” and “is.” This turns up on the list of bugaboos for many writers, and since they’re actually words, and not grammatical aberrations (such as “irregardless”), they often slip by the computer’s spell check process.

Use the ‘s to form the plural of letters and words used as words in the context of the sentence.

Jim got all A’s and B’s on his report card.

A polished speaker will not use words or phrases like you know’s, huh’s, and well’s. (Note the proper use of italics.)

All right, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to keep doing columns for another year, and next time, I promise to reveal my identity at the eleventh anniversary of the PSWA Conference. Until we meet again…

Professor X


RonCorbin200x200In this year’s April newsletter, I discussed some basic tenets of CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design).  One vital element of this crime prevention concept and philosophy was “natural surveillance.” So now I’d like to continue with a little more discussion on this aspect.

One of the common threads about crime is that “no criminal, vandal, or mischievous person likes to be seen committing their illegal act or dirty deed.” There are a lot of security measures designed to reduce crime; CCTV systems, audible alarms, locks, fencing, lighting, just to name a few general categories. Yet the lucrativeness of the target for theft or ego bypasses the risk element, and the “bad guys” will still take a chance of not getting caught. That’s why there really is no such thing as “crime prevention techniques,” only crime reduction methods.

Convenience stores are robbed, even though typically there are video recording devices installed within the stores. Sophisticated alarms, cameras, and vaults help prevent bank robberies, but the underlying need for secreting identities is why bank robbers wear disguises; so facial recognition is difficult for federal investigators. It’s why residential burglars break-and-enter when nobody is home; to eliminate a witness’ identification. And it’s why graffiti taggers opt to vandalize someone else’s property in the wee-morning hours and darkness of night … to prevent being seen.

Here in Las Vegas, it’s common for casino gamblers wanting to get lucky and see those “Three 7s” roll-up and stop center-line on their slot machines. Three 7s usually means some large winning for the gambler. So when it comes to CPTED and a natural surveillance technique for your home, I want to introduce you to what I refer to as my “THREE-7 RULE”.

Based on the obvious understanding that a burglar doesn’t want to be seen by neighbors when he breaks into your house, what should you do to help deter this criminal act? Look at the front of your house. Can the front door and all windows be seen while standing across the street? Does any of your front yard landscaping or tree foliage block the view? What about the sides of your house? Are there bushes or shrubs overgrown to the point that they block windows?

A clear zone of surveillance should be visible to all entry points into your house; from side and rear neighbors, as well as from across the street or those people driving in front of your house. To ensure this, implement my Three-7 Rule. Cut all low-hanging limbs and branches from trees so that they are 7-feet or higher. Trim bushes and shrubs so that they are three feet or lower, especially around windows. This creates a visible space of three to seven feet for your house and eliminates any hiding space for burglars trying to gain entry via windows or doors. Could they still break-in? Certainly, but this Three-7 practice becomes a deterrent.

So the next time you come to Las Vegas, I hope your houses will be safe and secure by the Three-7 Rule, and that you have “Slots of Fun” winning Three-7s.

For comment on this subject or viewing more crime prevention tips, go to my Website at

and meanwhile… Stay Safe!

Ron Corbin

(Six-time PSWA Award Winning Author)


The Right Wrong Thing will be launched on October 6 and is available for pre-order now.
Oceanview has bought the rights to Burying Ben. It’s being re-issued soon.
Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D.

Not as it Seems
The latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Not as it Seems, is now available in all the usual places and formats. Blurb: Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.

The blog tour for Not as it Seems begins on September when I visit Madeline Gornell and answer how do real people figure into my books?

Marilyn Meredith



From Diana Sprain:
On-the-Trail-of-Yesterday's-Rose-200On the Trail to Yesterday’s RoseGreycliff’s Chronicles, book one
Not all dreams lead to a happily-ever-after.
21rst century Gaelynn Blackwood dreams of being a knight. As long as her family could remember, Gaelynn has been obsessed with the medieval period. She claims she was born in the wrong time. Martial arts, archery, and survival skills are her focus as she grows to adulthood. When Gaelynn casts a traveling spell, she is sent to Thaelia’s World where she comes across a band of knights. Seeking answers to her purpose, Gaelynn must set aside her beliefs and earn the knight’s trust but enemies lurk in the darkness and secrets threaten to destroy her. Will Gaelynn make the ultimate sacrifice for the man she loves?

Sir Braeden du Faucione yearns to leave the desert Firelands of Livanya and return to his home in Greycliff. His brother, Gregory, will do all he can to stop Braeden from riding through the gates of Faucione and taking his place as heir. Braeden expects intrigues, assassins, and the rigors of the journey to stand in his way. What he didn’t expect was to fall in love with Gaelynn.

Despite the odds, can Gaelynn and Braeden survive to make a life together?

In the King’s Shadow: Greycliff’s Chronicles, book two
Four years have gone by since Gaelynn Blackwood was sent from Vallejo, California to Livanya in Thaelia’s World.  She can’t catch a break. Fitting in as a medieval wife was never in her plans, neither was having a bastard daughter sired by Greycliff’s King Arken. Her husband Braeden is not the man she fell in love with. He has multiple lovers and wants to keep his wife in a gilded cage. He is quick to enforce his will with his fists. Unhappy, Gaelynn desperately searches for happiness. She finds her soul mate in Braeden’s best friend & second-in-command, Sir Ranulf de Corbeau. The two lovers struggle to keep their affair a secret.

Meanwhile, King Arken can’t get Gaelynn out of his mind. Arken wants to possess the woman who showed up at his castle dressed as a squire. Before the King can have Gaelynn, there is the matter of her husband. How can the King of Greycliff get the woman he is obsessed with?

Can Gaelynn find hope and true love in a world full of deceit, intrigues, and violence?


On September 22nd, Dave Freedland will be one of several featured presenters at the California Association of Tactical Officers (CATO) annual conference in Anaheim, CA.  He will be de-briefing a barricade / hostage / homicide event that occurred in Irvine, CA in 2009, which is set for trial this coming November.  He will also be giving away copies of his book, Lincoln 9 , for promotion.



Mike Black was the keynote speaker at the Writing in the Rockies Conference in Colorado July 24-26. He also did two panels and a reading.

He did a CSI presentation at the Schaumburg, Illinois Library on August 12 with his buddy, Dave Case (CPD).

He also taught two classes at the Police Writers Academy in Appleton, WI. (August 20-23).

His new Executioner novel, Uncut Terror is due out in October. His previous novel, Desert Falcons, debuted in June and was featured at the PSWA Conference.

Next month he’s headed to the C3 Conference in Maryland and hope to do some sight seeing,

CAFFEINE_CAN_KILL-200Bob Doerr recently announced the release of the sixth book in his award winning Jim West mystery series, titled Caffeine Can Kill

This Jim West mystery/thriller finds Jim traveling to the Texas Hill Country to attend the grand opening of a friend’s winery and vineyard. Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, Jim witnesses a brutal kidnapping at a local coffee shop. The next morning while driving down an unpaved country road to the grand opening, he comes across an active crime scene barely a quarter mile from his friend’s winery.

A Fredericksburg policeman, who talked to Jim the day before at the kidnapping scene, recognizes Jim and asks him to identify the body of a dead young woman as the woman who was kidnapped.  Jim does, and as a result of this unwelcome relationship with the police is asked the next morning to identify the body of another murdered person as the man who had kidnapped the young woman.  A third murder throws Jim’s vacation into complete disarray and draws Jim and a female friend into the sights of one of the killers.

(Inside the Investigation and Greatest Manhunt in the West)

May, 1998 – Three heavily-armed, survivalist, para-military men steal a commercial water truck and ambush Cortez, Colorado Police Officer Dale Claxton.  This is the complete inside story of that cold-blooded murder, decade-long investigation and search as only a few can tell it.  And until now, no one involved in the case has.

Pete Klismet was one of the original FBI Special Agents to arrive in the hours after the death of Officer Claxton, which was followed by a wild, bullet-riddled chase through Cortez, rivaling anything seen in an action movie.  Three officers were seriously wounded, seven police cars were put out of commission, and an entire community and region of the west was terrorized.

Award-winning author Klismet captivated readers with his books FBI DIARY: PROFILES OF EVIL and FBI ANIMAL HOUSE.  He has done it again with his latest release by Global Publishing Group.  Readers will step into the shoes of an FBI Agent as he works with many others to put together the pieces and uncover the clues the killers have left behind.  FBI DIARY:  HOME GROWN TERROR is spine-tingling suspense that heightens the senses and creates awareness of what really happened behind the scenes.  It is a meticulously-researched book, with every chapter ending in a cliff-hanger that drives the reader on to the next.

Information on Available in print and Ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. the Author and his latest release can be found at:

Contact the author via eMail at to schedule an interview about this riveting book.

From Thonie Hevron:

Unpublished With Malice Aforethought has been selected as the third place winner in the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards, Category II, for 2015.

Here is the link to the official announcement on Venture Galleries.

Director Caleb Pirtle said, “We were honored that you entered the contest with such fine writing.”

2015 Writing Competition Results

Fiction Book, Published
First Place J.L. Greger Malignancy
First Place Lonni Lees The Corpse in the Cactus
Second Place J.K. Royce PILZ
Third Place John M. Wills Healer
Fiction Book, Non-Published
First Place Ellen Kirschman The Right Wrong Thing
Second Place Ed Traylor The Crossing
Third Place William Fleming Code Black
Honorable Mention Albert vande Steeg The Black Band
Non-Fiction Book, Published
First Place Kate Flora Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice
Second Place Adam Plantiga 400 Things Cops Know
Third Place Karen Solomon Hearts Beneath the Badge
Honorable Mention Pete Klismet FBI Animal House
Non-Fiction Book, Non-Published
First Place Pete Klismet FBI Diary: Home Grown Terror
Short Story, Published
First Place Gavin Keenan The Letters of Patrick Bushell
Second Place Quintin Petersen Damaged Goods
Short Story, Non-Published
First Place David Cropp Sushi with Jack the Ripper
Second Place Joseph Haggerty, Jr. A Father’s Honor
Third Place George Cramer Why Me?
Honorable Mention David Cropp Vegas, Interrupted
Non-Fiction Creative Non-Technical, Non-Published
First Place Jackie Taylor Zortman The Beginning and the End
Second Place Joseph Haggerty, Sr. Justice Undone
Third Place Ron Corbin Go FISH
Honorable Mention Jackie Taylor Zortman The Ride to Hell’s Fire River
Non-Fiction Creative Technical, Published
First Place David Cropp Domestic Violence Prevention & Investigation
Second Place John Bellah LASD Vehicle tests
Third Place John Weinstein 8 Trends that Will Shape Policing in the Next 50 Years
Non-Fiction Creative Technical, Non-Published
First Place Ron Corbin It’s Just a Matter of Time
Flash Fiction, Non-Published
First Place John M. Wills Monica’s Surprise
Poetry, Non-Published
First Place Ron Corbin Tell My Wife I Love Her
Second Place John M. Wills Goodbye
Third Place Joseph Haggerty, Sr. Working the Street 24-7-365
Honorable Mention John M. Wills First Responders
Poetry, Published
First Place Joseph Haggerty, Sr. To Live and Die in DC
Screenplay, Non-Published
First Place Holli Herrle-Castillo Proclivity


PSWA Newsletter–June 2015


PSWA Newsletter
June 2015




MikeBlack200x200Those 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.

–Mike Black



michelle_perinExcitement 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!


–Michelle Perin


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 ( 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 ( 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.


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.

–Quintin Peterson
Author Noir


RonCorbin200x200My 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. []

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”?

  1. An explosive device that is a miniature nuclear device.
  2. An explosive device that releases chemicals.
  3. An explosive device that releases a biological agent.
  4. 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?

  1. High up on a building’s rooftop.
  2. Low down in a basement or cellar.
  3. Enclosed in an elevator on the top floor.
  4. 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?

  1. Leave the area as fast as possible.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose with a fabric, then run away.
  3. Head for a basement and seal all doors and windows.
  4. 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?

  1. A biological attack may not immediately be obvious.
  2. During a biological attack, germs or other substances that can make you sick are released.
  3. You can become sick by inhaling, eating, or touching a biological agent.
  4. 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?

  1. High up in a building.
  2. Low down in a basement or cellar.
  3. Enclosed in an elevator on the bottom floor.
  4. 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?

  1. Tap on a pipe or a wall.
  2. Use a flashlight.
  3. Shout.

Which statement is false about sheltering during an emergency?

  1. You may need to create your own shelter in your home or workplace.
  2. Public emergency shelters must accept pets.
  3. When evacuating to a community shelter, bring a disaster supply kit.
  4. 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?

  1. Boil water for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon.
  3. Use water from a vehicle’s radiator.
  4. 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.

–Ron Corbin


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.

–Professor X


john_wills_200Kevin 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.


Amazon book page:

Massad Ayoob Group:

The Gift of Fear:

–John Wills (This review previously printed in


kurt_kamm_200 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.

–Kurt Kamm

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.


mmeredith-200Offering a free book on Kindle was truly an adventure that began as a misadventure.

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


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.

–John Eldridge


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:

–Steve Daniels

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.


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, or read her blog posts every other Wednesday on

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: 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.