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