PSWA Newsletter — January 2013

PSWA Newsletter
January 2013



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We are, unfortunately, all familiar with the term writer’s block.  Those occasions when, usually with a deadline looming, no matter how long we stare at the blank screen, the words just aren’t there.

I submit that just a disconcerting are those times we find ourselves experiencing what I’ll call writer’s doubt.  When we go over the words that did appear and have to wonder, “Is that really what that character would actually do?”  Or, “Is that the agency that would really deal with a crime like that?” Or, perhaps even worse yet, “Is this story/article/book something someone would actually buy/read?”

Fortunately for PSWA members, there’s a solution to the problems associated with writer’s doubt.

The members-only listserv can instantly put you in touch with experienced writers and experts who can answer just about any question you might ask about characters, weapons, or the criminal justice system and even suggest insidious plot ideas.

By submitting your manuscript for a free review by an experienced editor, you can find out what the strengths and weaknesses of your writing are, what errors need tidying up and even how likely it is that a publisher would be interested in your work.

By entering the writing competition, you can see just how your work stacks up against others writing in your genre and, if you win, the chance to add “award winning author” to your resume.

By attending the annual conference, you will have the chance to learn from the experts and, as importantly, become part of a network of writers, like yourself, who will give you advice, encouragement and support.

Don’t let writer’s doubt become a roadblock to your writing success.  Join PSWA today.  There is no doubt you’ll be glad you did.

Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President, aka "The Queen"For 15 years, Marilyn Olson was publisher and principal writer for Indiana’s Finest, an 80-page quarterly magazine about the Indiana State Police.  During that time, she published more than 400 articles about law enforcement.  She is the author of two published books, Gangsters, Gunfire and Political Intrigue, the Story of the Indiana State Police and Women Who Risk: Profiles of 11 Women Who Do Extreme Sports.  She is co-author of two medical books, Living with Chronic Heartburn and Living with Chronic Sinusitis and is co-editor of CopTales 2000, an anthology of 37 police stories.  For 10 years she was co-owner of a public relations and graphic design firm and for five years, national director of public relations for a retirement community development company.  Currently, she is a free-lance editor, ceramic sculptor and textile designer.  She is one of the founding members of the new PSWA and has served as president since that time. She is also the immediate past president of the Washington Press Association.  She and her husband live in Bellingham, Washington. Email:


Once again we will be hosting our annual conference at the Orleans Hotel and Casino on W Tropicana Avenue.  The prices are very reasonable for your stay, $35 per weekday night and $80 for Friday and Saturday.

They have also been gracious enough to hold the prices for a week on either side of our conference if you would like to make a working vacation out of the conference.

The Hotel provides shuttle bus service to the famed Las Vegas Strip and their other hotel properties.  However, they do not provide shuttle service from the airport. There are taxis and shuttle bus services that will transport you to the hotel from the airport.

We will start registering attendees at 3:00 pm in the upstairs lobby. We will have your conference schedule and other materials in goodie bags for you.

The hotel has a buffet which even though Tim Dees doesn’t like it, it really isn’t bad.  I’ve eaten there many times.  It also has any number of different restaurants and snack bars to entice your appetite and treat your wallet from the inexpensive to the expensive.

If you wish to take in a movie, the hotel has 18 different theaters to pick from.  It also has 64 bowling alleys where you can bowl the night away. There is a showroom right in the hotel for weekend entertainment.  Sorry, but I don’t know what show they will be booking in for our weekend in July.

Remember to take advantage of the hotel pool.

If you have any materials you want to share with your fellow attendees and don’t want to carry on the plane in your lugKeith Bettinger, PSWA Secretarygage, ship them to my house at the address below.

Looking forward to seeing you in July.

Keith Bettinger
9669 Vista Crest Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89148

Secretary – Public Safety Writers Association Author of: Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny Author of: End Of Watch Winner of 18 awards for writing


One of the greatest things about being a member of the Public Safety Writers Association is the inclusion. We have writers from many different walks of life, ages, geographic regions and experiences. Our body of work crosses genre lines and includes fiction, non-fiction, technical, poetry and screenwriting. What we have in common is that we love telling stories (many of us both on paper and vocally. If you’ve ever listened to a room full of cops, you’ll know what I mean). Another thing we have in common (myself included) is we are “Award-Winning Authors”. We have entered and won in the PSWA Annual Writing Competition. As a member of the PSWA, you can be a part of this sub-group within our group as well.

The 2013 contest opened on November 1, 2012 and includes a variety of entry categories. Published and non-published work is welcomed. If the work is going to be published, but is not yet published at the time of the contest, it is considered non-published. You can enter it as published in the next year’s competition. A hard copy of the entry and the entry form need to be sent to me at the address listed on our website. I also request an electronic copy as well. That can be sent via email or on a CD.

All work must be public safety related somehow. We keep this very broad but also narrow enough to make our contest special to our organization, we are the Public Safety Writers Association after all. If you have a question about whether a work qualifies, please email me and I’d be happy to screen if for you. To enter the contest, you must be a member in good-standing.

All entries must be post-marked by May 1, 2013. Enter as many categories as you’d like, especially since 2013 will be the inaugural year for a “People’s Choice Award”. This award recognizes the member who enters a variety of categories. We love to encourage feats of daring and often like to push our colleagues off cliffs (literary cliffs, of course).

I hope to see entries fMichelle-Perin-new-250rom all of our membership (especially since the piles of entries that take over my office/kitchen make my adolescent boys crazy and antagonizing my children is one of my favorite pastimes). The winners will be announced and awards given at the ceremony in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 14, 2013. Hope to see you all there and good luck!!!

–Michelle Perin, MS
Chairperson PSWA Writing Contest, Volunteer Firefighter, South Lane County Fire & Rescue &


My experience on Amazon

I’ve been writing short stories for several years, accumulating dozens of them in varying lengths and about different subjects. I had the idea that perhaps rather than let them collect dust on my computer’s hard drive, it might be a good idea to put some of them together in a collection.

What prompted me to finally do just that was when I received an email from Amazon about their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program. The first thing that struck me about KDP was the royalty structure. The author receives 70% of all sales. “That’s an offer too good to pass up,” I thought.

Still, I wondered about the process, and how involved it might be. Although KDP advertised as “free, fast and easy,” I was skeptical.

Nevertheless, I went to the website and read through their “Getting Started and FAQs” section, which answered many of my questions. Next, I downloaded the 30-page “Building Your Book for Kindle” PDF, which incidentally, can be downloaded on your computer or Kindle. And there is also an audio version. The guide proved to be a simple, easy to follow tutorial to assist in assembling your book, to include formatting, creating a cover and inserting a table of contents.

Next, the guide walks you through the process of publishing your book by uploading it to Kindle. Once that’s finished, you can preview your book and make any necessary edits. If you’re satisfied, you can then set the pricing, royalty and where your book(s) will be sold. You can make your book available world-wide.

There is also a feature called, KDP Select. If you enroll your book in this program, it becomes available to be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which means you can earn a share of the $6 million annual fund dedicated to independent authors and publishers. Another advantage to joining KDP Select is that it gives you access to a new set of promotional tools, such as offering your book free to readers for up to five days.

I found the process of assembling, formatting and publishing my book to be simple and straightforward. After publication, you can easily check your sales on your Kindle page and get month-to-date reports, prior months’ royalties and prior six weeks’ royalties. It is also possible to publish print copies of your book as well.

KDP is cjohn_willsertainly an option to be aware of, particularly if one wants to create something on a smaller scale than a full-length novel or a non-fiction book containing many photos. However for what I did, which was create an intimate collection of prose and poetry (55 pages), KDP was the ideal vehicle to use as a potential moneymaker and advertising tool to further get my name out to readers. Kindle and other ereaders don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Why not experiment? You may like what you see.

Here’s the link to my Kindle book:

John M. Wills  Award-winning Author / Freelance Writer Reviewer for the New York Journal of Books  Read my monthly article on


This is for those of you who haven’t heard or, or attended, Men of Mystery in Irvine, California.  Men of Mystery is the brainchild of Joan Hansen who was the founder of the Literary Guild of Orange County with its Festival of Women Authors held every year.  She felt that the men mystery writers weren’t getting their share of attention and hosted the first Men Of Mystery event in 2000.  (Some of you were still teenagers at the time.  But if you look at the 2011 photos you will see a smiling Michael Black.)

That first event had 25 authors with over 250 guests and if you go to their website you can see photos.  On November 17th, 2012 the 2 day event boasted 50+ authors with over 500+ devoted readers.  Guest speakers were Joseph Finder, John Lescroart, and James Rollins. The networking possibilities were worth the trip, not to mention the fantastic food and drinks (make mine Scotch please.)

This event is very inexpenRick Reed-250sive, and near Newport Beach where you can take the ferry to Balboa Island.  If you have kids, this is the perfect trip.  I plan on attending next year, and hope to meet some of you there.

You can find out more at their website:

Rick Reed:  (The most hated man on the Evansville Police Department, now retired.)



When I first found out my book would be published, I planned for a long career as an author. I wanted to be like Janet Evanovich or Sue Grafton with a naming convention for their titles. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series uses progressive numbers like One for the Money, Two for the Dough. Sue Grafton’s alphabet mysteries are A is for Alibi, B is for Burglary, etc. When I submitted A CASE OF INFATION to Oak Tree Press, the name I gave it was Infatuation. It was a perfect name with a double meaning. However, my publisher brought up a good point in that it sounded like a romance and not mystery.  She suggested adding “A Case of” in front of it.

That worked so when the second book came out I wanted to keep the same theme running through the title. Book 2 became A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION.  I really liked the double meaning again. (I don’t want to say what the double meanings are because that would give away some of the mystery!) That name is quite a mouthful and many times I wondered whether adding the beginning was worth it. Try saying it fast when you are nervous and standing in front of people.  Let’s just say it could become a tongue twister with a bit of profanity thrown in.

Book 3 was A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES. That one was easy to say and was an apt title for the story.  The only problem is it takes me five minutes to say the titles of my three books. Book 4 comes out in February and I struggled over this title. I finally found what I was looking for but didn’t learn from A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION. Book 4 is called A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS. Not quite the amount of alliteration but quite a number of syllables to spit out.

W.S. Gager-250I’m gearing up for my launch in February and I’m practicing my annunciation. I don’t want anything to slip out accidentally when I start. The bonus is if books are listed in alphabetical order, mine are all at the top and all in a row. Hopefully that will make buyers stop and see what they are about. Then it doesn’t matter whether I can pronounce them or not.

–W.S. Gager (aka Wendy)
Author of Humorous Whodunits: A Case of Infatuation, A Case of Accidental Intersection, A Case of Hometown Blues-Now Available  A Case of Volatile Deeds – Coming in February


For authors who would like to autograph their customers’ ebooks. Go to: and follow the simple instructions. This process works for ebooks and those in print. Great idea!

I’ve discovered a way for authors to accept credit cards. It’s a small device (provided free) that you plug into your smartphone’s earpiece port, and it allows you to swipe credit cards. Each transaction costs you 2.75%, small change for the ability to now accept credit cards.

You create your own account, and transactions under $25.00 do not require a signature. For anything over $25.00, simply have the customer sign your phone. Receipts are emailed to customers via your phone. I’ve used this system–it’s simple and it creates the ability to accept credit, which means more sales. Here’s the link:

Both of these are thanks to John Wills


As usual, we have some great speakers lined up for the annual conference. If you haven’t checked out the lineup, go to  and you can read all about each one and what they will be presenting.

As for the panels, we’ve had some great suggestions—and will always take more—the panels themselves won’t be worked out until June 1. You must be signed up before then to be on a panel. We do our best to put people on the panels that will work best for them.

We’ll be having more panels on the craft of writing and on promotion as requested.

The Early Bird price for registration only lasts until the end of the month, so get your registration in soon.  YouMarilyn Meredith, PSWA Director can pay via PayPal or print out the registration form and mail it in.

If you have any questions, you can email me at

Looking forward to a great conference.

–Marilyn Meredith, PSWA Program Chair, and author of the Rocky Bluff P.D. series and the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. and

Sadly, Mom wasn’t always right.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are probably the most memorable holidays of the year. It’s a time when we gather together with family, friends and co-workers to celebrate. These special occasions invariably include lots of high fat, high-calorie food, along with things like eggnog and liquor. Many of us think, “Hey, it’s the holidays. I can make an exception and eat and drink what I want.” But, can you?

What are the implications to your waistline of eating and drinking in excess on holidays? Conventional wisdom, as well as many of our friends and family, tells us that eating all that extra chow will put on at least five pounds of holiday weight. But, does it really? Not according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Their study suggests that few data support this accepted assertion, debunking the notion that we gain weight during the holidays. Holiday weight gain is a myth.

Let’s explore another oft-heard bit of advice. Wear a hat outdoors to stay warm. Anyone who runs or walks outside in the winter has heard that you must wear a hat to keep warm. If you fail to wear one, you’ll lose up to 75% of your body heat. True or false? False. The correct figure is probably closer to 10% for an adult.

The old adage about losing 75% of one’s body heat applies only to newborn babies, and is predicated on their head size, which is a much greater percentage of their total bodyweight at birth. Thus, the reason we see babies in the hospital nursery wearing caps. Truth is, adults lose body heat through any part of their body that’s exposed to the cold (arms, hands, feet). Therefore, the no-hat rule is a myth.

Holidays can be a difficult time for some folks. It is said that the suicide rate increases during the holiday season. If you’ve lost a loved one, or have other stressors such as health issues or loss of a job, depression can become overwhelming. However, a 35-year study of Minnesota residents found that suicide did not increase during the holidays, or other important events such as birthdays. Another myth.

Everyone loves brilliant red poinsettia plants at Christmas. These beautiful flowers decorate homes, businesses and churches throughout the holiday season. However, I remember my mother telling me to keep my younger brothers and sisters away from the plants because they were poisonous. She also warned us to keep our pets away as well. But is the poinsettia plant really harmful to our health? No, not according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In 1996, their analysis of 22,793 poinsettia cases reported no significant poisoning. It is possible to become ill by consuming large amounts of the plant, however, that is also rare. Poinsettia poisoning is, therefore, a myth.

Don’t go outside with wet hair—you’ll catch a cold! Ever hear that warning? I have. But what about that, will you really get sick by going out in the cold with wet hair? No. You will feel cold, but feeling cold does not affect your immune system. According to Dr. Jim Sears, co-host of the TV show, The Doctors, going outside with wet hair is harmless. Sears cited a Salisbury, England study that proved the wet hair notion was indeed a myth.

Feed a cold—starve a fever. Which one is correct? Actually, Dr. Sears advises that in both cases one should eat and drink, and then drink some more. “Staying hydrated is the most important thing to do, because you lose a lot of fluids when you’re ill.” However, should you drink special beverages such as Gatorade? Sears advises that unless you’re severely dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea, there’s no need to drink anything containing electrolytes.

Have you ever heard your parents tell you that if you swallow your gum it stays in your stomach for seven years? It’s true, they explained to you, because gum isn’t food, therefore, the stomach has a difficult time breaking gum down in the digestive system. Myth or fact? That is another myth. Most non-food items swallowed by kids will pass through the system in a couple of days, and won’t even cause a tummy ache.

How about this one? You should wait an hour after eating before going swimming. True or false? False. The digestive system will not make your muscles cramp and cause you to drown. Blood flow to the muscles will decrease, since more blood is directed to the digestive system to break down the meal you just consumed, meaning you may have less energy. However, swimming immediately after eating will not cause one to drown. Go ahead and dive right in after enjoying that cheeseburger.

We all know that eating at night makes you fat . . . or does it? That is a myth. According to registered dietician, Dr. Jeannie Gassaniga-Moloo, who is also a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, don’t worry if you are forced to eat dinner later than usual. “The time of day a person eats is not as important for overall weight gain as the amount of calories eaten during the day.”

During the holidays, we feed our children much more sugar in the form of cakes, pastry and candy. Does sugar make the kids hyperactive, or is that a myth? You’ll be happy to learn that according to twelve placebo-controlled studies, kids who eat sugar do not act any different than those who did not. Another myth.

And speaking of kids, did your mom ever tell you that if you cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way forever? Well, according to Ophthalmology Professor W. Walker Motley, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, that warning is yet another myth. “There’s no harm in voluntary eye crossing,” the good doctor tells us. But it sure did sound scary when mom said it.

The bottom line about myjohn_willsths is that any advice that is anecdotal in nature should be researched. Don’t take advice at face value every time someone tells you something. Ask an expert, or research it yourself. The internet provides instant access to authoritative sources that can help you decide what is a myth and what is not.

John M. Wills  Award-winning Author / Freelance Writer Reviewer for the New York Journal of Books  Read my monthly article on  This article reprinted from


PSWA Award-Winner Quintin Peterson’s short story Hope to Die is featured in Issue #3 of Sanitarium, a monthly horror literary magazine founded and edited by Barry Skelhorn and published by Eye Trauma Press, West Sussex, England.

No One Else to Kill-250Bob Doerr is happy to announce the December release of the fifth book in his Jim West mystery/thriller series. Titled No One Else to Kill, in this book, Jim West travels to a small, remote hunting lodge in the Pecos Wilderness area in New Mexico to rendezvous with an old friend and do some hiking. His friend stands him up, and Jim is about to return home when a murder occurs in the lodge. Law enforcement umps in, and Jim’s early departure plans are scrubbed. When a second murder occurs less than twenty-four hours later, things really start to get dicey. Both crimes were intricately planned to mislead the authorities, no one appears to have a motive for the killings, and everyone has an alibi. Up against a wall with time running out, the deputy-in-charge asks West to be their man on the inside, but West is adamant that this is not his case to solve. Since his retirement from the Air Force, however, Fate has had her own plans for West. Why should this be any different?