PSWA Newsletter–September 2012

Table of Contents

PSWA Newsletter


















As many of you know, in addition to being president of PSWA, I often review the manuscripts members send for review.  More often than not the errors I find in them are not a lot of different errors but the same error made many times.  Clearly, the spell check feature on our computers has its limitations, as does the online thesaurus.

While most readers have, alas, come to expect a few errors in most books especially in e-books, that as our mothers always said, doesn’t make it right.

Perhaps it might seem old fashioned in these days of apps for basically any subject but my recommendation for writers who really do want to make their manuscript error-free is to invest in some good printed reference books.  One of my favorites is Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer’s Guide to Getting it Right by Bill Bryson.  In addition to helping you avoid using farther when you should use further or talking about koala bears, since koalas are marsupials and not bears at all, or how to correctly spell nincompoop, this little book is just a lot of fun to read.

In addition to eliminating errors in your manuscript you can also amaze your friends by knowing that aroma only applies to pleasant odors or that there is no such thing as very unique.  Something is either unique or not unique.  See?  Isn’t this fun?

If you have other reference books to recommend please let me know and I’ll share them with our members.  Contact me at



by Michelle Perin

From a poem about children donating toys, to a novel where the protagonist is killed but walks-in to the body of a feisty young woman, to a hands-on manual for how to save your partner when the medics can’t get into the scene, the 2012 PSWA Writing Contest had it all.

The contest awarded sixteen PSWA members First Place certificates in a myriad of categories both published and non-published, Book, Short Story, Creative-Technical, Poetry, Flash Fiction, Screenplay, Creative-Non-Technical and Technical Manual. Twelve members walked away with a Second Place certificate, nine a Third Place and eight took Honorable Mention. Along with the certificate, each winner got the coveted (okay, maybe only by me) gold sticker announcing he or she was now an “Award-Winning Author.

As the Contest Coordinator (I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so many years now. By the way, I AM NOT getting older), I’ve seen this contest grow in ways more than the number of entries. Our membership continues to increase and I get to see works come through my mailbox from a wide-range of our authors, from new recruits to those who were there at the beginning of the original Police Writers Club. Each Fall, I can’t wait to set aside the spot in my office where the pile of entries lives while the contest runs (I’m sure my small-town postmaster and my children who can’t walk through our horse-shoe kitchen for about eight months are less excited.) Each year, (and I know I say this every year, but it’s true), the number of entries but also the quality of the entries increases. We have some fantastic writers in this group. Although, my judges do most of the work (Thank you! Thank You! Thanks You, Judges!), I read almost every entry that comes in. After all, I am a writer and I love to read. During the last month of the contest, it’s like Christmas every time I open the mailbox. I get to see what our members have been working on– Who’s been published—Who’s trying a new genre—Who’s written a sequel. I can’t express how excited I get about watching our membership and our published credits grow.

What happens during the crazy time during the contest months? The entries come in, I assign them a number and once the deadline passes I send them to my judge for that category with guidelines. The judges return them to me where the first places are then judged for Grand Prize and I get to sit on the exciting knowledge of who will be honored at the PSWA Writer’s Conference in Las Vegas. Those of you who know me know I’m a talker and I love to encourage people and tell them how amazing I think they are, so you can imagine how hard it is for me to keep quiet especially during the three days preceding the Awards Ceremony. One year, I even shared a room with one of the winners and I just couldn’t say anything. It almost killed me, but I’m willing to suffer a bit for the good of the association (Love you Wendy).

So, in closing, congratulations to all of the 2012 PSWA Writing Contest winners. It was a pleasure to meet those of you who were at the Conference and I hope to meet all the rest of you next year. Remember the awards are always given out after lunch on Sunday. It’s my favorite time of the contest and I hope to see all of you there in 2013 (After all, I’m a writer and everything is always about me.) As far as earning a trip up the aisle to come stand by my side (not in the way Marti has possibly made a marriage during the conference a new tradition in our group), the 2013 contest will open in November. This year, we’re adding a new category as well honoring an author who tries out new things and crosses over categories. More specific details will be coming so keep checking the PSWA website. You can also see great photos of the 2012 Ceremony on there (many of them of me. Did I mention……me.). Happy writing and good luck.


Once again those of us in New Orleans are watching a hurricane, waiting to see if Hurricane Isaac is going to show up at our doorstep or pass us up.  We’ve been here before, watching and waiting.

In 2005, we did the same for Katrina. Only then we really didn’t think it was going to hit. While we evacuated, we brought only enough clothes (and diapers, because I had two little ones) for a long weekend. We left on a Saturday, before a mandatory evacuation had been called.  We planned on returning home Monday or Tuesday, believing deep in our hearts that a hurricane would never hit us.

My mother, my two daughters, and I stayed at the Embassy Suites in Houston. Houston was THE place for New Orleans people to evacuate. Most of us vacationed there frequently, a sort of home away from home.  Our hotel had swans in the lobby, which tickled my children, a clown who made balloon animals, who terrified me, and was something like 40 steps away from the Galleria shopping mall, which thrilled all of us.

By the end of it, we were there for two weeks. Two weeks in a nice hotels sounds like fun, but it really isn’t. Especially when you’ve made your husband join you at the 11th hour and he’s brought along his younger brother, which infuriated your mother (who is a little odd to begin with), and you have no idea if your house is still standing or not.

The hurricane made landfall on Monday. Everything seemed fine until the levees broke. We watched CNN and the Weather Channel in horror as the city filled with water.  My husband went home on Tuesday.  As a deputy constable he was allowed to go back into the city before the general public.  He soon texted us– there was no other viable form of communication at the time–that our house was fine, some roof damage, a few books and toys wet, but otherwise okay.  Same with the rest of the neighborhood.

We went back two weeks later, when the electricity was back up and a few stores had reopened. Two weeks after that my daughter’s school reopened.  A few months later our neighbors started coming back with their families. For months it was mainly only men working on their homes and law enforcement.

Law enforcement was everywhere. Local police, police from other parishes, police from other states, even the National Guard.  It was hard to feel unsafe with so many police personnel everywhere.  You literally could not drive a block without seeing some type of police officer.

While the police weren’t able to protect us from the giant flies that took over for several months, and couldn’t prevent the maggots in our refrigerators when we got home, at least we didn’t have to worry about copper being stolen from our homes when we were inside them, nor of someone breaking into our homes and doing God knows what to us, as had happened to many unfortunate women during the actual hurricane.

So now, seven years later, we are in the position once again to decide should we stay or should we go. Today is Sunday. The storm will hit Tuesday in the middle of the night or early Wednesday morning.  Wednesday will be the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  Scary.

So my thinking, with a now 10-year-old and 13-year-old, and now having an evacuation house in North Alabama, I will probably leave.  The big difference this time is that I’m not dreading leaving, because I’ve faced the most uncertainty a person can face having dealt with Katrina and its aftermath.

I’m looking forward to visiting my vacation house in the hills, and while I will worry about what is happening back home, I will also use the time, and especially the emotion, to write more of my third novel.

 Chocolate City Justice takes place during Hurricane Katrina, bringing my protagonist, Ryan Murphy, into the present days. So everything I learn about that happens, especially if the hurricane hits, will be more fodder for my novel, and jog my memory about the things I learned happened seven years ago.  As I am planning what I will pack, Katrina is not seven years ago for me, but right now, while I am loading my car with the things I want to save should a worst case scenario occur.  And I will use it as much as I can, extracting as much good as I can from a potentially bad situation.

Holli Castillo

Holli Castillo is the author of Gumbo Justice and Jambalaya Justice. She is an appellate attorney for the State of Louisiana and a former New Orleans prosecutor. Her third novel, Chocolate City Justice, is scheduled for an end of the year release.


Luckily the road of life has been long. Memories of crawling around on the floor are dim, but they were the first steps in exploring the trail to be traveled. Grade school established lifelong friendships. Ralph became my best friend. We played tag, read comic books, and roamed the empty fields of southwest Detroit. The teenage years were like being a part of a sky rocket. As we soared skyward I became aware of the most beautiful people on the road of life. They were girls and at the end of high school they burst forth in radiant splendor as we exploded on the world with determination and purpose.

My world was full of beautiful individuals as we traveled upward. The sky was filled with the brilliant light of my friends and loved ones as we soared toward the stars. The trip was exhilarating. Life was like riding a train. We picked up new people at every stop. Some were interesting, some were fun , and yes, some were mean and ornery. I was lucky and always tried to keep my mix of friends and loved ones close to my heart.

I fell in love and married my wife Jo. She was one of the brightest glowing embers of the sky rocket. We were bathed in the glittering light of our friends as we hurtled upward. God added children to the mix and I could see each of their exploding sky rockets moving off in different directions. Life was good and full of adventure. As my trip starts to slow down I realize my energy is waning. The sky is starting to darken as the glowing lights of lifelong friendships start to disappear. The road of life is littered with high adventure and the good and bad decisions I have made.

One of my better decisions was to join the Public Safety Writer’s Association. It was like igniting a second stage of my rocket ship of life. I have found a whole new universe of stars and heavenly bodies. As I grow older I have found that time becomes a factor in my choice of things I want to accomplish. Being with the super stars of the PSWA has given me hope and aided in my objectives. I intend to go out in a blaze of glory like an exploding super nova. Along the way I hope to sell a few books.

Bob Haig
The Firewriter


by Billie Johnson

Pitch sessions are usually offered at the fabulous PSWA conference in Las Vegas, and this year was no exception. A flattering number of authors signed up for a meeting with me, and I am hopeful that some of this work will show up soon on a ‘forthcoming titles from OTP’ list.

These meetings, among other things, prompted me to think about authors pitching their work, and how vital it can be to a career. It’s one thing to see material in its dead tree format, or as a zillion dots forming email on the monitor, but an eyeball to eyeball, one-on-one session can present your project in vivid terms and give the pitch recipient the opportunity to gauge your commitment and enthusiasm – priceless!

Here are some tips about pitching:

  1. Start as early as possible to perfect your ‘elevator pitch’. Work on it often, recite it aloud to your cat, in front of the mirror after brushing your teeth, write it down and memorize it, rewrite and memorize it again and practice it some more. Get organic with it! And remember, if you have to take a breath in the middle, it is probably too long to be an elevator pitch.
  1. Develop some follow-up comments so that if the pitch recipient asks, after hearing the pitch, “What happens next?” or “Is there a subplot?” or “What’s the character arc?” …then you have a ready answer, a nice brief ready answer. Avoid launching into a long, detailed exposition of the book.
  1. Know your goals for your project, and be prepared to articulate those to the pitch recipient. We DO want to know. If this is part of a proposed series, say so. If it is important to release before Christmas, you gotta share that detail.
  1. Be prepared to relate a few thoughts on promotion of the book. Ideally, have a written overview of your plans. Even a one-page outline will be a plus.
  1. Have some materials to leave behind. There are dozens of options – a presentation folder with a synopsis, a few marking comments, a short bio and contact information is perfect, and very complete. A business card with a note on back “met at PSWA conf July 2012, discussed Frida’s Treasures” can work too. A complimentary copy of a previously published title with a note on the title page similar to the business card note. In short, a little info to spark the memory of you and your project.

Consider for a moment the ratio of pitchers and pitch recipients…we are quite out-numbered in these settings, and once we are back to our offices, sometimes memory fades a bit, or one finds there is no contact information. Like Jerry Maguire says, “Help us help you!”

Billie Johnson, Publisher ~ Oak Tree Press


by Keith Bettinger

Keith Bettinger, PSWA SecretarySometimes cute things come out of verbal or written mistakes.  Other times it comes out as verbal sarcasm.  Many times we steal it from someone else and use it.  As my writing mentor Bob Cawley has told me many times, “If you’re going to steal, steal from the best”.  In other words, browse the works of Steinbeck or Hemmingway instead of using your brother-in-law’s bright retorts over Thanksgiving dinner.

Recently I sent out a cute one liner that law enforcement can understand and laugh over.  For most of my civilian friends it went right over their heads.  The line was, “When the man at the door yelled, ‘Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms!’ I thought it was a delivery.”

From a high school classmate, who was discussing the size of the babies her daughter had, four children each in the 10 pound range, she said, “My daughter doesn’t have infants, she has toddlers.”  Having been a parent of small children and watching them grow to adulthood, it made me laugh.

A couple years ago, while outside Ventura, CA I found a sign in the Loose Caboose roadside stand where my friend, Nancy Farrar worked.  The sign now hangs in my garage.  It is a great reminder when dealing with people and especially when someone says something you want to include in one of your stories.   The sign reads, “Everyone has a photographic memory.  Some people just don’t have film.”   (I think some of those without film became my bosses on the police department.)  If you don’t write down the cute line for your story – Poof!  It will be gone when you need it.

Maybe at one time or another you’ve seen the commercial on television where the power goes off and the people are “trapped” on the escalator and calling for help to rescue them.  Dave Smith, known in law enforcement training circles as BUCK SAVAGE, writes a monthly column for POLICE Magazine.  He “borrowed” a line about being trapped on an escalator that belongs over every writers work space.  It is; “You can stare at the steps or step on the stairs.”  This means don’t procrastinate.  Get to work.  Fame and fortune await you when you finish your writing project.  The sooner you step on the stairs instead of staring at the steps, the sooner you will have a solution to your writing problem.


By John Wills

We’re all members of the PSWA, which means we share some connection with public safety. As a result, we write about things we know, things we’re comfortable with, e.g., police work, firefighting, dispatching, etc. I’m not saying it’s easy to write a novel, an article, or short story, but being intimately familiar with the topic about which you are writing is certainly a plus.

There’s an old axiom advising writers to “Write what you know.” Good advice? Maybe. While writing about things you are familiar with makes the task less arduous, it also makes your writing more predictable. I think a better piece of advice to writers might be, “Write what you feel.”

In the past couple of years, I’ve been travelling that path. Having written several thrillers and dozens of training articles, I began to realize my writing was becoming too pre-packaged. It all seemed to reflect the same theme. So, I started to experiment. I discovered a genre called flash fiction. This particular short story template limits the word count to a paltry sum of less than 1,000 words. Some formats, I found, were even more stringent, allowing less than 500 words.

Daunting as it seemed, I nonetheless accepted the challenge. To my surprise, the words flowed quickly and easily on to the page. Being constrained to a word count made my writing much tighter. My prose was crisp; my characters and scenery fresh and vivid. I wrote about love and hate, about loss and renewal. My endings were sometimes happy and other times sad and unpredictable.

In short, if you find yourself in a writing slump and everything begins to look the same, try something different. Write a love story or a piece of science fiction. Tackle a topic you never thought you’d ever write about. This past year I even wrote several technical manuals—boring, but challenging nevertheless, and the exercise took me out of my comfort zone.

Writing is a gift we should never take for granted. This unique craft gives rise to emotion and passion, not only in those who write, but also in those who read. As with any living thing, writing needs nurturing. Don’t ignore your muse. Tend to it; baby it. Don’t ever let the writer in you become apathetic or comfortable. Challenge yourself, you won’t be sorry.

September 11th is the release date of John’s new book, WOMEN WARRIORS. The book’s website is here:            


Frank Borelli, editor, is looking for new contributors.

“I am in need of more editorial contributors. If you know someone who is interested and WHO WOULD BRING VALUE TO OFFICER.COM, please contact me. I am not looking for people who are trying to break into the industry and want to use as a stepping stone. I am looking for established writers who bring value and will produce. I don’t care if they also work for our competitors.”


by Kathy Cottrell

Having attended a number of writers conferences over the years, I’ve had the privilege to sit in on any number of workshops, the Craft Tract being a personal favorite. One which stood out the loudest came when New York Times Best Selling Author Nora Roberts told the audience, ‘write what you know.’

Coming from one of my writing heroes, the advice made sense―except I wondered how I, as a nurse [then] could ever turn a doctor into a hero. If you don’t know where someone had their hands last, well . . . not an appealing thought as far as I was concerned.

Then came the day when I heard another NYT best seller, Tess Gerritsen, speak at a New Jersey Romance Writers conference. She shared about her roots which dated back to her medical residency days in the ICU and observing what the nurses―whom she spoke of with great respect and affection―were reading: category romances. Wow. A physician who spoke of nurses with respect. I had to read one of her books. Let me tell you, after devouring “The Apprentice”, I was hooked. Tess Gerritsen writes what she knows.

As a teenager, living in an isolated rural area with little to do and no way to get anywhere, I read anything I could get my hands on. I discovered a book by Frank G. Slaughter in my parents’ library, a Civil War story about a female spy and a male battle surgeon. Very bloody, lots of spilled guts, gore and suffering. Right up the alley of a fourteen year old with an over-active imagination and way too much time on her hands. Thoroughly hooked, I proceeded to sign out every one of his books from the school library as well as the library in a neighboring town. It wasn’t until I later that I learned Mister Slaughter was actually a medical doctor. This man had the ability to put me in the moment of a battlefield hospital scene, suffering right along with the physician and his patients.

One of Dr. Slaughter’s contemporary novels, “Daybreak” featured the trials and tribulations of a physician working in the mental health system prior to the advent of effective anti-psychotic medications when pre-frontal lobotomies and electroshock therapy were considered last ditch efforts to treat intractable psychiatric problems. Very chilling stuff for this young woman who was about to head off for three years of nursing school in―you guessed it―a state psychiatric facility. By the end of my schooling, I’d passed more Thorazine and Mellaril than any ten nursing students―and no fresh lobotomies, thank you very much.

As a young wife in Rochester New York, with a graduate student husband and two small kids, money was tight. I lucked out when I discovered a second-hand book store which stocked copies of  Robert K. Tannenbaum’s legal thrillers featuring Assistant District Attorneys Butch Karp and Marlene Ciampi. With each book I learned about the steps in the legal process, evidence that can degrade over time or be lost by dumb luck or stupid accident, “eye witnesses” who don’t see everything, and a how-to manual for criminals who want to beat the system. It came as no surprise when I learned attorney Tannenbaum spent many years in the Manhattan DA’s office, prosecuting the worst of the worst. Writing with a sharp wit and biting sarcasm, after more than thirty years, his books continue to hold my interest. Another instance of writing what one knows.

Lastly, I’d like to blow the horn for one of my nursing as well as writer heroes: Eileen Dreyer. After many years in category romance [writing as Kathleen Korbel], Eileen¯an experienced ER nurse¯was called up to the bigs with a series of medical thrillers set in and around St. Louis, Missouri. Invariably her heroines are nurses with advanced training [such as Eileen herself] in forensic evidence collection,  death examinations, and critical incident management. Using gut-busting humor, Eileen makes the everyday come to life and answers the question, “What if?”

In closing, I challenge any author to look at their everyday life and incorporate something they find there into his/her writing. Okay, so maybe you don’t have an exciting job which includes passing bed pans or inserting suppositories, but do you have a volunteer job you really love, something that gives back ten times more than what you put in? I have a friend who volunteers at a soup kitchen, another takes calls on a domestic violence crisis line, a third takes an AA meeting into the county jail every week.

Do you have an Aunt Helen [like me] who retired from the Navy Nurse Corps at the rank of Lieutenant Commander after serving in World War II and Korea? Do you have religious connections you might tap for a secondary character? I know an author who pumped her priest uncle for the scoop on how to get around the priest-penitent privilege and the sanctity of the confessional–and yes, under certain circumstances, it can be done.

Where do you live or go for a vacation? Can that be turned into a setting so vivid readers want to move there? I am currently working with an author who set her story in the Adirondack Mountains of  Northern New York state–and believe me, she nailed it.

What turns you on? How do you fill all those empty hours in your life? Do you attend festivals or state fairs? How about protest marches? I edited a September 2010 release for a Wild Rose Press anthology which featured a protest march that turned into a riot. The author was a veteran of protests from back in the 80’s and 90’s; it was clear she knew what she was talking about. The description spoke to me as an editor as well as a woman.

As an editor and a reader, I have developed a second sense for what rings true and what comes from someone who took the easy way out when it came to doing his or her homework¯and not all were unpublished. Do not depend on legal whodunits on the big screen or mystery illness of the week on TV for accuracy. If you want to know which shows portray accurate situations, ask someone who’s already in The Biz.

As a registered nurse Kathy Cottrell has a varied clinical background from the Operating Room, Labor and Delivery and clinical instruction to nursing administration, investigating allegations of medical malpractice and, most recently, a legal nurse consultant on personal injury and negligence cases.           

For twelve years she was affiliated with the Regional Rape Crisis Service of Rochester, New York, first as a volunteer advocate, then worked her way up the ladder to staff coordinator and eventually director of the four county crisis intervention program which served an average of 1,000 victims of sexual violence and their significant others. Her most recent role with RCS was as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE.         

A published author in her own right, Kathy uses her experience in her books and also in professional workshops with the goal of helping authors to incorporate authenticity into their writing. Particularly, she speaks to the impact of sexual violence on victims, the community and advocates.  


Las Vegas is Chuck E. Cheese for adults. I know that now. I knew it from the moment I walked into The Orleans and was immediately disoriented, like in one of those horror movies where the circus is scary and the carnival is loud and the clowns are mean. Except this was fun! Just a LOT of stimulation in one place. Chuck E. Cheese’s slogan is Where a Kid Can Be a Kid, and it stands to reason that Las Vegas could have a slogan Where an Adult Can Be an Adult. I think all the alcohol, which, personally I like, even though I only had two alcoholic beverages the whole time I was in LV, must serve the same function as Ritalin for kids. It tampers the stimulation and helps people focus on whatever task is important, which seemed mostly to be gambling.

Gambling holds no interest for me, but I am not a virgin. I went to Lake Tahoe in my twenties, back when I was a commercial real estate appraiser and way before I had any inkling I would become a psychologist. I was at a two-week training course at the University of San Francisco and during the interim weekend several of us went up to Tahoe. That was my first introduction to one-armed bandits. I liked the scenery better.

Fast forward twenty years, and I’m a prison mental health counselor, pre Ph.D., and working with two-armed bandits. The Deputy Warden of Security took me on a one-day junket to Biloxi for my birthday, to an off-shore casino. Sadly, I was bored all day, and I do mean all day. And there was no scenery. But on the plus side, I won $100 on the flight down to Biloxi, so the day was not a complete loss. Maybe I should have had more alcohol.

Now, as I walked through The Orleans casino, I don’t think I would even know how to gamble. Same as with high tech smart phones and twitter, I am so far behind. It did look like with some of them (what are they? machines?), a person just pushes a button. I think I could do that. Maybe next year I’ll consider branching out. And actually go outside the casino. See what else Chuck E. Cheese has to offer.

by Emily Simerly PhD.



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

Rick is a retired Evansville Police (Indiana) detective.  Not being one to play politics, it took him ten years of testing to be hired by the police department. During those ten years he worked as a special investigator for a “hanging judge” for Circuit Court, as a Veterans Employment Specialist, and as a Deputy Sheriff of Vanderburgh County.  During his time as a Deputy Sheriff he worked the jail where he discovered that “you never turn your back on a naked woman.”  The saying came about when he and a matron processed such a woman into the jail, and being a gentleman, he turned his eyes away for a delicate moment and was cold-cocked by the female prisoner in question.

Rick was a detective for the EPD for seventeen years before making Sergeant and being promoted into the Internal Affairs Commander and becoming the most hated man on the department.  Even the Chief of Police, his direct boss, hated him because of his unnatural ability to find problems.  Not to give you the wrong idea, Rick received several awards over the years and one after retirement, for cases he solved.  Including solving a 30-year-old murder that involved the current Assistant Chief of Police as a suspect.

But his big break came in 2000 when he began an investigation of a “fraud on financial institution” case and ended up capturing a serial killer.  In 2005 he was contacted by Kensington Books in Manhattan and asked to write a true crime book about this serial killer.  The book was a hit and he was later requested to write serial killer fiction.  This request resulted in the Detective Jack Murphy series, The Cruelest Cut and The Coldest Fear.

The Cruelest Cut was also sold to German Publishing house, Weltbild, and was translated and released in late 2011.  In 2012 this book was also sold to Poland to be released in 2013.

Rick is proud to be accepted as a member of Public Service Writer’s Association, and hopes to attend future conferences.

Visit Rick’s website at:

Below are his current books and short descriptions:

BLOOD TRAIL (True Crime)

In 2003, sadistic sexual predator Joseph W. Brown claimed to have strangled prostitute, Andrea Hendrix, in 1997 after she stole money from his wallet in a $12 dollar room he rented at a sleazy motel.  Ginger Gasaway, 53, met Brown at a Gambler’s Anonymous meeting. She didn’t know that when she took up with him, she was gambling with her life. On August 30, 2000, Brown murdered Gasaway and scattered her body parts across three Indiana counties. For this grisly crime, he would be sentenced to life in prison without parole. But it wouldn’t be his first time behind bars…In 1977, Brown had been sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery. In 1995, he was released despite the fact that he’d beaten a fellow inmate nearly to death. Brown later confessed that during the next five years, he indulged in a seven-state rampage of torture and murder, his victim’s, female hitchhikers and prostitutes. He is now doing time at Michigan City Prison, after strangling his cellmate in the Ft. Wayne prison.  Brown maintains that he murdered no less than thirteen other women from West Virginia to Las Vegas.  

THE CRUELEST CUT (Serial Killer Fiction:  Intro to Jack Murphy Series)

The first victim is attacked in her home. Tied to her bed. Forced to watch every unspeakable act of cruelty – but unable to scream. The second murder is even more twisted. Signed, sealed, and delivered with a message for the police, stuffed in the victim’s throat. A fractured nursery rhyme that ends with a warning: ‘There will be more’. For detective Jack Murphy, it’s more than a threat. It’s a personal invitation to play. And no one plays rougher than Jack. Especially when the killer’s pawns are the people he loves…

THE COLDEST FEAR (Serial Killer Fiction: Book 2 in Jack Murphy Series)

The first victim is murdered in a Marriott Airport hotel room on the outskirts of Evansville, Indiana. Her eyes and the left hand are removed from the scene and her tongue has been cut out. Jack Murphy realizes that this is not just another vicious murder when the body of a second victim is discovered only hours later on the floor of her kitchen in the south-side projects. The missing hand from the first victim is propped by the victim’s bloody head, the middle finger prominently displayed to those finding the body. A day later a third victim is found, this time gutted and strung up from the bottom of a bridge, left to bend and sway with the current of the Pigeon Creek. With all of these murders, one newspaper reporter seems to have a direct line to the killer, and a secret of his own.


Review in Chesapeake Style Magazine by Feather Foster of John Bray’s, The Confidential.

There are cop stories and then there are New York cop stories. THE CONFIDENTIAL is a 1973-era cop story based in New York by an ex-New York cop, turned lawyer, and every line evokes images of Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino in top form. Jack Bray knows what he’s talking about.

One of the most thankless assignments of any undercover agent is being a part of a sting operation against their own comrades. Dante Falconieri is one of the best undercover guys in the business, but the sting has gone wrong. His career is in limbo. His trophy girlfriend adds to his cynicism. In a rare moment of guy-camaraderie–especially for a loner like Dante–he lets his disillusionment find words and he himself will become the target of a sting operation to test his integrity. Or is it entrapment?
There are stories within stories and author Bray, the former cop and attorney, has the eye and the ear to make it all fit together. It moves fast, and you can visualize it like a movie full of the usual goodfellas and badfellas and a few so-sofellas. There is the cop sting that backfires, the DA’s office full of corruption, the overseas drug cartel that gets so fouled up that it will crumble the entire task force, the stings-on-loan against the judges, lawyers and who knows who else-and don’t forget the gal on the side.

Poor Dante. He’s a man with few friends other than his Italian father–in Italy no less–an ex-cop himself who will come to New York to be “Papa”. No wonder Dante is jaded and in desperate need for some time off–hopefully with the trophy gal.

Cop-story lovers will gravitate to THE CONFIDENTIAL like a duck to water. It has everything you would expect: plenty of rough-em-up, more than a handful of rogue cops and other law enforcement types on the take, two–or is it three–murders, a mysterious-but distinctive hit man who doesn’t understand the concept of “blend in”, a suitcase of marked bills, a complicated foreign drug cartel, drive-by shootings, a clean-up crew of feds, an addict witness who escapes from the Marshals, and the beautiful “cherchez la femme”. There are enough twists and turns to make a reader wonder if a) there is anyone like you and b) more importantly, anyone you can trust. Except maybe Papa.


The old adage is true: it takes one to know one, and the author certainly has his era, his eye and ear right. He is probably a little kinder to the language than most modern cop writers, but then again, forty years ago, perhaps all of us were a little gentler with our speech. But the descriptions are spot-on, and the type of cases and particularly the overlapping cases, seem to ring true. THE CONFIDENTIAL is a book you don’t just read. You can see it and hear it as if it were a movie. THE CONFIDENTIAL by John A Bray available at all online booksellers, both in paper and as an e-book.




Bob Doerr is happy to announce that in November or December 2012, his fifth Jim West mystery/thriller, No One Else to Kill, will be released.  In this one, Jim travels to a lodge in the Pecos Wilderness of New Mexico to meet a friend and to do some hiking.  His friend stands him up, and before West can return home, a murder occurs in the small lodge. Needless to say, West’s trip is shot, no pun intended.  Sharing the lodge with a handful of dysfuntional characters, only makes matters worse.  When a second murder occurs, things really get dicey.

“ Although this is the fifth book in the series, each book is a stand alone story.  If you’ve read any of the others, I know you’ll enjoy No One Else to Kill.  If you haven’t read any, this one is as good as any to get started.  See you all next year.”

– Bob Doerr



Marilyn Meredith is proud to announce that the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Raging Water, is now available in all formats from all the usual places as well as directly from the publisher.

First review says, “This latest entry in Marilyn Meredith’s long-running Tempe Crabtree series will keep you glued to your seat and turning pages right up to the end.”

–Pat Browning-



Marti Colvin writing under the name of I.C. Enger is announcing the publication of her book, Blue Ice. If is available from Amazon and Oak Tree Press.

A much anticipated new start for Brooke Breckenridge erupts into an explosion of murder and international intrigue when she travels from Seattle to an isolated lake on the Canadian border to find seclusion and healing. Strange and dangerous things begin to happen, soon events at the lake house attract the attention of Homeland Security Special Agent Jack Strickland and she finds herself entangled in suspicion, crime and dangerous attraction. As more agents are brought in and the web unravels, the true plot is revealed and life in the small town of Three Cranes Lake will never be the same..

What the agents discover at Three Cranes Lake will change how you view terrorism…forever.



3 thoughts on “PSWA Newsletter–September 2012

  1. This was a really interesting and entertaining newsletter. I liked ALL the articles, and learned quite a few things. Continually impressed by all the information and support our membership provides. So glad I joined…

    Excellent job, Marilyn, and I really, really like seeing the pictures. It’s like re-visiting the last conference.


  2. Great information, especially from Billie. We are doing a presentation at EPICon next March on pitching (what it is, what it isn’t, why do it, how to be prepared, etc.) and this is helpful.

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