It’s getting close to crunch time, folks! Our 2022 Conference at the Orleans Hotel/Casino is only six weeks away—July 15, 16, and 17, and don’t forget the pre-conference workshop on July 14, also at the Orleans. There are still slots available. Sign up today at the PSWA website. Open the “Conference” tab for the registration form and info on reserving rooms.
To receive your special group rate members will need to enter the assigned Reservation ID: PSWG22C through the Hotel’s website at www.OrleansCasino.com/Groups. You may also call Hotel’s Room Reservations Department direct at (800) 675-3267 and identify yourself as a member of a group or convention with Reservation ID: PSWG22C.
As usual, the PSWA is hosting the Thursday evening reception, so drop by for snacks and drinks, and meet other conference attendees.
Mike Black, our Convention coordinator, is working on setting up panels and, as always, our members will be notified when he is ready to sit the panelists.
On a personal note, Charlene and I both came down with covid in mid-May. We were fully vaccinated and received the two booster shots. Because of that, it was like getting a cold. After self-isolation for ten days, we tested negative and are back to good health, plus now we have natural antibodies.
This serves to remind us to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so and get the boosters. Some of us are in that danger age where Covid can be a lot more debilitating, but with all the shots, even if you do come down with it, it is a much milder infection.
I completed my eight book a month ago, another Vince Torelli novel, titled Southern Justness (yes, justness is a real word.) I am doing a re-read, and re-write, then off to the publisher. In the meantime, I have started book #9, yet to be titled. It is the first in a new series of mystery thrillers. The protagonist is Detective Sergeant Louis Princeton, of the Richmond Count, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office. Affectionately known as “Louie” to her co-workers, she is a strong, smart, determined investigator.
SUPER SEVENTEEN PSWA CONFERENCE IS COMING UP
Locked and Loaded
Yeah, we’re locked and loaded, as we used to say in the army. The Super Seventeen PSWA conference is creeping up on us. It’s scheduled for July 14-17, 2022, at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Once again, I’ll be running the Pre-Conference Workshop, which begins at 9 am on Thursday morning, with my fellow instructors Marilyn Meredith and Kelli Peacock. Our presentations will be on Writing Effective Dialogue, the Muddle of the Middle, and Self-Editing. Workshop attendees also get a critique of their manuscript up to 30-some pages by one of the published author instructors. Last year we had a great turnout for the workshop, which runs from 9 am to 3 pm in the Conference Center at the Orleans. The fee is in addition to the conference registration, but it’s well worth it. Everyone who’s attended it has given it rave reviews, so please sign up if you’re interested in improving your writing.
The check-in procedure follows the workshop. It commences in the conference center at 3 pm and continues until the start of the Thursday night get together at 545 pm. The get together is an informal and cozy gathering with delicious snacks and a cash bar, if you’re so inclined. It’s a wonderful way to meet new people or connect with old friends.
The conference itself gets rolling at 9 am the next morning on Friday. We’ve lined up some fabulous solo presenters. Award-winning author and publisher Austin Camacho is going to be talking about improving your writing in his presentation, Write Better: Draft, Rewrite, and Edit. Considering Austin’s experience and superb writing skills this one should be very enlightening. Fellow publisher, Jo A. Wilkins (Mystic Publishers) will be giving her advice in Writing in Viewpoint: How POV Defines Your Work. Jo is well known in the Southern Nevada area not only for her publishing of great books, but also her many instructional seminars which have helped so many writers improve their craft. On Friday, the factual side of things, insurance investigator, Rick Wycliffe, will be talking about The World of Insurance Crimes: Invisible and Dangerous. Rick, who has worked in the field for decades, will provide a unique perspective about those crimes that most of us didn’t know existed. Also in the public safety arena, our own Robert Calkins has a fantastic presentation prepared titled, Contraband and Crooks: Working Dogs in the World of Police, Fire, and SAR. Make sure you ask Bob about his most recent experiences involving K-9 search and rescue.
I’m very pleased to announce that our publisher’s panel on Saturday will be one of the best ever. We’ve got Austin Camacho from Intrigue Press, Jo Wilkins from Mystic Publishers, and Jennifer Hendricks and Jake Bray from Wolfpack Publishing. Jennifer is in charge of Wolfpack’s Christian imprint, CKN, and Jake will be talking about the company’s Rough Edges imprint. There’s a possibility of one more publisher being there, but since it’s not yet confirmed, I’ll leave it at that. But keep in mind that all of the aforementioned publisher representatives will be taking pitches so get yours ready.
As I write this I’m diligently working on resurrecting our 1940’s style radio play, but it’s still touch and go, depending on attendance. But anyway, this year’s conference, Super Seventeen is shaping up to be one of the best ever. So please sign up today if you haven’t already.
See you in Vegas.
–Michael A. Black
PSWA Program Chair
FROM THE TREASURER
Not much from your humble Treasurer this month, but a reminder about the conference book store. If you have a PayPal account, please include the associated e-mail address on the 3×5 card you place in the books. Of course, please include all the other information like the name of the book, your name and address and the price. We’ll be able to pay you much more quickly. We know that some people still prefer checks and that’s OK, but PayPal is much easier for us, and faster for you. That is all.
FROM THE WRITING COMPETITION CHAIR
Wow, it’s been a hectic few months, receiving the entries for the writing competition and getting them sent to the judges. Now, it’s waiting for the results, recording them, and getting the awards ready. I am so happy to have the help of Tim Dees.
I always look forward to the awards ceremony, even more now that I’m its chairperson. I don’t read all the entries, I don’t have time before I send them out, but the ones I have read are great. One of the perks for receiving them is I have time to read them after the contest is over. Where the books are concerned, both published and unpublished, I’ve discovered new authors to enjoy. Even more so this year, since there are members that are new to me.
The competition for this year’s contest was fierce. If you receive an award for your entry, you deserve it. PSWA’s judges are strict, but fair. They have a scoring sheet to use. If your entry doesn’t score well, better luck next year. As it has been every year since I’ve been a member, there are categories that do not receive first or second place awards. Some categories don’t receive any awards at all.
The judges make the decisions. If they tell me that no award was warranted, that is the way it is. They are all published authors and know what skillful writing is.
Thank you judges, you know who you are. I couldn’t do this without you.
Our unpublished entries are judged blind. So, the judges don’t know the names of the winners they selected. They will find out when you do. Four authors, outside of PSWA, judge our published books. That is the way we make sure an author’s name does not influence the results.
I’m a past winner, so I know the thrill of hearing my name called. It’s been a few years, but I still am proud of my award. It’s satisfying to call myself, an award-winning author. The sticker also looks cool on my book cover.
The winners receive three stickers, but you can always get more. They are $1.00 each. There is also a graphic I can send you to use as your cover is designed.
July 14th will be here before you know it. I hope you’ve all signed up for the conference and reserved your motel room.
Public Safety Writers Association is a fantastic group to belong to, but it’s even more special when you attend the conference. It’s like going to a family reunion, but without a lot of the drama.
Until then, keep writing and learning.
–Barbara M Hodges
PSWA Writing Competition Chairperson
SOME TIPS FOR BLOG TOURS
Yes, blog tours still help sell books. No matter if you’re planning one yourself—which means you ask your favorite bloggers to host you for a tour or you hire a blog tour guide. I’ve done both.
Whether you arrange the tour yourself or hire someone who does it for you, you want the posts you provide to be interesting, and something people who follow the tour will be interested in reading.
Some blog hosts have definite questions or topics they want you to respond to, and you want to make the posts as interesting as possible.
No matter what the topic is always be sure to add at the end the following:
The link or links where readers can buy your books.
• A blurb about the book. You can use the one on Amazon or wherever else the book is for sale or create another blurb but keep it short and to the point.
• Links to your website, your Facebook page, and any other place where the reader can learn more about you or connect with you.
• Your bio, make it was unusual as possible. Always add the writers’ groups you belong to, such as Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and of course, Public Safety Writers Association. Give the reader some interesting information about yourself—and since many of the readers may be following the whole tour, you could change it up a bit.
• Send as an attachment a .jpg photo of you and one of the book cover.
Readers like to find out some unusual facts about you. Here’s something I’ve added to my bio a couple of times: “My husband and I share our home with one cat as well as our granddaughter and family and they’ve added a dog, three peacocks, two goats, chickens and ducks.”
Many blog hosts will ask what was the inspiration for your book, write it in as interesting a fashion as possible, but don’t give away the ending. You want to intrigue the reader so they will buy the book.
Another blog host may want you to interview your main character. Here’s another way to capture the reader’s interest enough to tempt them to buy the book. After all, this is the whole reason you’re doing this blog tour—to sell your latest book. Put your writing skills to work.
To intrigue readers even more, you might offer to name a character in your next book after the person who leaves the most comments on the different blogs. If you’re doing the tour yourself, you’ll want to put the link to where the next blog will appear. You might want to offer a give-away of an earlier book to one of the commenters via a random drawing. Don’t offer to give a copy of the book you’re promoting—it defeats the idea of the promotion.
Some may think blogging and blog tours have passed their prime, but with some folks still wary about Covid, it is still a viable way to promote your book. And frankly, I think it’s fun.
Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith
Latest Rocky Bluff P.D., Reversal of Fortune
Latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, The Trash Harem
–Marilyn Meredith, author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series and the Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries.
KILLING YOUR CHANCES
I’m surprised my sighing hasn’t caused me to hyperventilate. I’m a voracious reader and have added boxes and boxes of books to my normal reading stack because I have developed a passion for judging book contests. Rather unfortunate for me, because now I read everything with a critical eye while sorting books into categories: 1. A waste of paper 2. Needs help 3. Okay (but not quite there) 4. Go away, please, because I’m lost in a magical world.
Next week at the May meeting of Croak & Dagger, the NM Chapter of Sisters in Crime,
I talked about another, fifth, category. However, here’s a silly scenario below to illustrate common-type errors. These cause me to hurl a book into category 2 or 3. Can you spot the problems? I’ve listed some at the end of each paragraph.
Dora and Jack
Dora’s mind was full of questions. She pulled open the door to the anteroom of his office. There sat Ms. Prim, thumbing through piles of paper and as usual, ignoring her. She wouldn’t bother to question her about Jack. Instead, she’d just charged in and ask him. She flung his door open and screamed, “I have one question, did you or did you not sleep with Helda?” She fumed with fury.
(Redundancy “she” three times)
(Redundancy “door open” twice)
(Pronoun misuse “She” in the fourth sentence refers to Ms. Prim or Dora?)
(Redundancy “question” three times)
(Killed suspense by telling what she would do)
(Buried on-the-nose dialogue, (hidden at the end, asking if he did or did not sleep with Helda.)
(Redundancy and not necessary “ and screamed” “She fumed with fury.”)
Dora’s anger grew. She hadn’t been this mad since Jack did all that lying when he was sneaking about with some red-head two years ago. She had seen him sitting in Roosevelt Park one bright, golden, sunshiny afternoon, eating sandwiches, and laughing with her. A beautiful day, ruined. Jack denied anything was wrong, naturally. He said they were discussing business, but when he came home at night, she found red strands of hair on his jacket. She flushed and clinched her fists tightly, waiting for his answer. She tried to swallow but couldn’t.
***(Telling and misuse of adverb)
(Again, lots of redundancies—bright, golden, sunshiny—plus more)
Jack slowly rose from his desk, came around it—running one finger along the glossy edge—probably thinking of what to say next. He raised his hand to softly touch her cheek. She stepped back. He shook his head and did what she expected. He lied again.
What am I supposed to do? Dora thought. Just stand here and listen like I believe him? Her mind went back to the red-head incident. No, she decided, this time would be different. She angrily picked up a metal Eighteen-Wheeler paperweight and wacked him violently on his head.
(Explaining that she’s thinking Dora thought.)
“What the hell?” He stumbled to the floor before saying, “Why’d you do that?”
(Out of-order dialogue and “on the nose”)
Maybe instead, “You’re freaken nuts.” or a surprise, He pulled out his cell and punched in numbers.)
“Because you lied to me.” she said.
(On-the-nose dialogue. Maybe instead, “You can use that truck to haul your shit-load of lies out of here.”)
Redundancies, over explaining, passive voice, burying dialogue at the end of a paragraph, not taking opportunities to create suspense, and the boring “on the nose” dialogue bog down the stories and kill chances for the author to take home a winning trophy. Here’s to your great writing and hope you’ve found this entertaining. Connect with me on Facebook or https://inkydancestudios.com/
Charlene Bell Dietz, award winning author of three books, two have earned the coveted Kirkus Review (starred review) and were named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018. Her fourth book, a historical-suspense biography will be released in the fall of 2022: The Spinster, the Rebel, and the Governor: Margaret Brent: Pre-colonial Maryland 1638-1648. “Move over Susan B. Anthony, there’s a determined woman, fighting rebels and presenting cases in court, 400 year before you who also asked for the vote.”
— Charlene Bell Dietz
Bio: Donnell Ann Bell is an award-winning author of four bestselling romantic suspense novels and two mainstream taskforce suspense novels. Until Dead, a Cold Case Suspense, was released on May 31, 2022, and she is currently working on Book Three. Readers can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or BookBub. For social media contact or to learn more, find her at www.donnellannbell.com
About Donnell’s newest release:
Until Dead: A Cold Case Suspense
This killer won’t stop . . . until she’s dead
When Lt. Everett T. Pope is notified of an explosion in downtown Denver close to the judicial buildings, his first instinct is gas leak. No such luck. As Incident Command and Pope’s own Major Crimes unit move in, he discovers he knows the intended victims—an Assistant U. S. Attorney—and Pope’s former partner, now a private investigator, has died shielding the injured AUSA with his body.
As ATF and the FBI take over investigating the bombing and unraveling motives behind the murder attempt, Pope is relegated to a peripheral role. But the injured AUSA’s aunt is a United States senator used to getting results. She turns to the team that solved the Black Pearl Killer murders with a very big ask—find her answers and locate the bomber.
FBI Special Agent Brian DiPietro must recall his entire cold case team from their far-flung assignments knowing he’s being asked to do the impossible. The senator, however, doesn’t know the meaning of the word. All too soon, DiPietro finds his team working alongside ATF on a red-hot mission. One that uncovers a decades’ old cold case.
Great! Here’s the info on my May 6 release, a police procedural. And thank you! (If you need a more concise description instead: A third-generation police officer and a police reform activist spend a ten-hour graveyard shift in the small confines of a patrol car).
THE RIDE-ALONG by Frank Zafiro and Colin Conway (Charlie-316 #5)
Publisher: Original Ink Press (May 6, 2022)
Paperback: 319 pages
The Tyler Garrett scandal rocked the Spokane Police Department two years ago. Now, a consent decree governs the agency with Washington D.C. directing its reform. It’s a tumultuous time in the city, and public outcry over local and national events is high.
Change is in the air.
Officer Lee Salter is a third-generation cop who bleeds blue. Amid the departmental chaos, he does the only thing he can—be a good officer. That means showing up for every shift, responding to calls for service, and always doing the right thing. All the while, the Department of Justice and its local supporters hope to catch another officer in its net of reform.
Salter refuses to be that officer.
Melody Weaver is a teacher and activist who believes in a better way. Despite her demanding profession, she dedicates herself to the cause of reshaping policing in her city so that the terrible events—both local and national—can stop. To understand what needs to change, she needs to see the reality of the job up close.
That means a ride-along on the graveyard shift.
And a nation’s problems.
PSWA member Stacey Pearson, writing under the pen name Pearson O’Meara, has short stories in two crime fiction anthologies. “The Lady Smith,” appears in To Protect, Serve, and Write: Cops Writing Crime Fiction, a short story anthology featuring fifteen cops turned authors. Wearing their uniforms and carrying their badges across law enforcement in the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia, it is those brushstrokes of daily police life that bring a special and unique flavor to this assortment of crime fiction. Now available as e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Book Depository. “Routine Traffic Stop,” appears first in The Tattered Blue Line: Short Stories of Contemporary Policing, scheduled to be published on April 15th. It is available for pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Our Vice President RJ Beam has a short story in Perspectives, Volume I: An Emergency Medicine and Public Safety Anthology
Each story in this anthology was written by three authors, a police officer, a Fire Medic, and an ER nurse. These stories unfold from the perspective of the responders taking 911 calls. Readers get an inside look at how a scene progresses from the POV of each person involved. It also shows how their experience and perspective play into the response.