John M. Wills

Books and blog



Meet author David Coppage

Today I’m hosting David Coppage, author of They Paid Me For This?: Stories From Over Three Decades in Law Enforcement.

Tell us about your new book, David.

My book is a memoir of my more than thirty years in law enforcement, including five years as a local police officer in Montgomery, AL, followed by 28 years at the Federal level- 16 as a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service. Customs became ICE and then Homeland Security Investigations after the creation of the DHS following 9/11. I concluded with 12 years as a U.S. Federal Air Marshal before retiring in 2014.

91hhlneriwlThe book is a compilation of stories documenting many of the things I saw during my career, including casework, arrests and seizures, as well as a behind the scenes look at three law enforcement agencies for which I worked. Most people who have not served in law enforcement positions have a view of the job developed through watching movies and cop shows on TV. They Paid Me For This? is my attempt to give the reader a realistic look at what it’s like to be a cop and/or federal agent in the world of law enforcement, absent the dramatization and lack of realism found in most Hollywood depictions.

David, what prompted you to write your story?

My initial motivation in writing this book was to leave a written legacy of my career for my children (and future grandchildren) about what I dedicated my entire adult life to by way of vocation. Having no training whatsoever in the art of writing, I consulted years of daily journals I kept throughout my career (and thankfully saved) to recount the many individual stories that make up the crux of the book. Besides the specific stories, my book allowed me the opportunity to share my personal feelings about policing, and how for me it was never simply about doing a job. For me, my career in law enforcement was a true calling, doing what I had a passion for and doing what I believe God had put me on this earth to do.

How did you become published?

I consulted with and used the services of Booklogix, a self-publishing firm, to self-publish my memoir They Paid Me For This?: Stories From Over Three Decades in Law Enforcement.

Have you written anything else; are there future projects on the horizon?

Following the completion of my memoir, I wrote my first novel, Barbaric Justice, a political thriller set in Washington, D.C. Murder, conspiracy and intrigue directly impact the race for the presidency, as a secret cabal of former military heroes take it upon themselves to act as judge, jury, and executioner, attempting to cure the ills inflicted on their great country by those inside and outside of government trying to turn America into a socialist utopia. The Gavin Literary Agency (Mary Ellen Gavin, literary agent) is representing the Barbaric Justice manuscript, soliciting various publishing houses in an attempt to get the manuscript published. I’m presently writing the sequel to Barbaric Justice, a novel that will be entitled Barbaric Retribution.51wsqdzz0l-_ux250_

What about your personal life, David?

I live in Senoia, GA (home of The Walking Dead) with my wife, Melissa, and our two grown children, Casey and Kyle. When not working on writing projects, I work as a real estate agent with Keller Williams Atlanta Partners in Newnan, GA.

Thanks for a wonderful look into your world of writing–all of your books sound quite interesting. More importantly, thank you for your years of service as a law enforcement professional. Enjoy your retirement, David.






Bronx Justice: An NYPD Novel

Today I’m hosting Bob Martin, former NYPD captain, who has a new novel called, Bronx Justice. Bob, tell us about your book.

Sure, John. The book is based on a case I worked as a captain with the Bronx Homicide bronx-justiceSquad in 1990. We had a black drug gang, The Crew, team up with some white “wanna be”  wise-guys, The Cowboys.Rival drug dealers were targeted. The Cowboys, dressed as plainclothes cops, would arrest, read, kidnap the victim, and turn them over to The Crew. Ransom demands were made. If paid, the dealers were set free. If not, a bullet in the head and another body dropped on a Bronx street. The year 1990 saw a record 2,605 homicides, with the Bronx alone recording over 600 murders. With some great detective work, the case was solved and all were convicted in federal court. Years later, as I continued to share this story, people kept telling me, “This would make for a great book.” I agreed, and after sixteen years of starts and stops I finally wrote the story.

Bob, tell us how you got started writing.

My writing journey began with a story I did about legendary Queens Homicide Lieutenant, Dan Kelly. He had been doing homicide work in Queens for over thirty years when I became his boss in 1989. I was pursuing my college degree at the time and taking a course called, NYPD History. I interviewed Dan for a term paper. My teacher, an ex cop thought the piece was good enough to get published, and in 1991 it appeared in The Badge magazine. I have had numerous articles published in various newspapers and magazines. In 1999 my “The Joint Terrorist Task Force-A Concept That Works,” appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. Most are personality pieces, law enforcement, terrorism or sports stories. My first writing paycheck came from a story I did for New York Newsday, “A Team and a Family,” published in 2008. Sticking to the concept of “write what you know,” it was a story about the NYPD football team. I was a charter member, played for a dozen years and founded the team’s alumni association, so I was on very familiar ground. Most recently I’ve had three law enforcement related Op-Eds published in the New York Post. My next project will be to publish a series of NYPD short stories. This will happen after I take a much needed break, after finally seeing Bronx Justice published.

Bob Martin NYPD.

2016-11-11-09-43-33Served with the NYPD for 32 years in a wide variety of commands that included the fabled Tactical Patrol Force (TPF), the Street Crime Unit, Mounted Unit, the 72nd, 69th, 6th Precincts, Queens and Bronx Detectives, and finally as the CO of the Special Investigations Division. Martin was a charter member and played for a dozen years with the NYPD’s Finest Football Team. He served for twelve years on the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) “ Committee on Terrorism” and traveled extensively, in this country and abroad, speaking on the subject. He retired as a Deputy Inspector in 2000 and began writing. His stories have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. Bronx Justice, based on an actual case, is his first novel. He plans to continue his writing career.

 “There are no crime stories quite as good as a New York crime story. With Bronx    Justice, Bob Martin adds another good read to that list.”

Bill Bratton,former NYPD Police Commissioner





Marilyn Meredith On Tour

Please welcome my friend and fellow author, Marilyn Meredith. It’s my pleasure to introduce her new book, A Crushing Death, as well as a contest readers may enter.

The Basics of a Blog Tour

Fool that I am, I decided to embark on yet another blog tour. I put it that way because it’s a lot of work. So why do it? Because it’s fun and does introduce new readers to my books.

For someone who’s never done this on their own, here are the basics of planning one.

Don’t begin until you have a firm date for the publishing of the book you’re promoting. Then, set the beginning of the blog tour at least three weeks later, just in case things don’t go as plan.

Marilyn at CRSA ConfereinceFor each blog post you’ll need a recent bio—not too long, a short book blurb ( I say short because you’ll probably work things in about the book in some of your posts), a recent photo of yourself (I think it’s fun to use different photos for each post), links to your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, etc., and of course a links to buy the book, and a .jpeg of the book cover. If you are having a contest of any kind, include the rules on each post. At the bottom of the post put a line to the next day’s post.

Once you know the dates of the tour, start rounding up blog hosts. Where do you find hosts? Check your favorite blogs and email the hosts. Ask on your favorite listserves. How many? As many as you think you can write unique posts for. When asking each person, ask if they have anything in particular they’d like to write. Some hosts will send you questions or interview topics. Others have specific ways they want you to send everything in, follow their directions.

Most blog hosts would like you to put all the printed material on one page and send it and all photos as attachments.

One the tour begins you need to advertise everyplace you can think of—Facebook, Facebook groups and all the listserves you are on. This means posting every day to these places. Yes, it is labor intensive, but you want lots of visitors to each site.

All through the day, check the comments as you’ll want to reply to each comment and keep track of who is visiting. You’ll also want to keep track of which blogs had the most visitors for future reference.

One last tip. If you run a contest, don’t have the prize be the book you’re promoting—the idea is to intrigue the visitors enough to buy the book you’re promoting. You could offer an earlier book in the series, or a prize that has some relationship to the book, or maybe an Amazon gift card.

Scroll down and you’ll see what I’m offering for a prize.

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

A Crushing Death

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 attacking women, and Officer Milligan’s teenage daughter is has a big problem.A Crushing Death Right

F. M. Meredith:  also known as Marilyn Meredith is nearing the number of 40 published books. Besides being an author she is a wife, mother , grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty-years in a similar small beach town. Besides having many law enforcement officers in her family she is counts many as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board of Public Safety Writers Association.



Facebook: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: MarilynMeredith

Contest: Once again, the person who comments on the most blogs during this tour, can have a character named after them in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. Tomorrow you can find me here:


Thank you, Marilyn, it’s always a pleasure to host one of your tours! FYI, to purchase copies of  A Crushing Death, here’s the link:  or click on the title throughout this post.


Author Amy Bennett on “Keeping It Real: Using Actual Places In Fiction”

It sometimes unnerves me when people read my Black Horse Campground murder mysteries and ask if they’re based on true stories. If I knew that many murder victims (and, by extension, murderers), I would probably never leave my house!

The reason the question pops up so frequently is because I incorporate a lot of actual places in my stories. Locals who have read the BHC mysteries know exactly where the campground is located—even though it doesn’t exist—due to all the real-life towns and businesses I use to set the scene and give the stories a more true-to-life flavor.

In a way, it’s almost cheating to have real-life locales as the setting for a story. After all, you just have to visit the places to get the descriptions and “vibe” just right for the story, with actual details that make it ring true. But you have to know and even love the story’s setting in order to make it ring true, just as you have to know and love the characters to make them sound like real people.

In my fourth book, At the Crossroad, setting plays a major role in the story and mystery. J.D. Wilder, the newcomer from Houston, TX, is beginning to feel at home in Bonney County and develops a fierce sense of protectiveness of the place and people who inhabit it. Here is the blurb and a short excerpt:FC At the Crossroad

Trouble often comes in threes. It’s no different at the Black Horse Campground.

On his first day as detective with the Bonney Police Department, J.D. Wilder finds three cold case files on his desk—three women who have disappeared over a fifteen year period at five-year intervals. It seems that no one has ever taken the cases seriously… or even properly investigated them.

Then J.D. receives a visit from two former colleagues who inform him that he’s about to receive another visitor; a woman from his past who is in trouble and needs his help. Again. The timing couldn’t be worse, since he’s finally about to ask Corrie on a date, but then Corrie also has a visitor from her past show up… someone who’s hoping for a second chance with her. In the meantime, Sheriff Rick Sutton has his hands full dodging his ex-wife, Meghan, who insists on discussing personal business with him… business that has to do with digging up a painful past.

When three bodies are discovered that prove the missing women were murdered, J.D.’s investigation reveals that all of their visitors have some connection to the victims. But which one of them killed three women… and is prepared to kill again?

When trouble comes to Bonney County, Corrie, Rick, and J.D. band together to protect each other and their community. But can they solve the mystery before the murderer strikes again?

Excerpt from Chapter 14

J.D. returned to the Black Horse more wide awake than he had been in days. Amato’s words rang in his ears, while a voice in his head warned him that if he didn’t get some rest, he was going to be completely useless when the time came to have his wits about him and his energy. Still, a night spent in mostly inactivity wasn’t going to allow him to rest. He went into his cabin and changed into his running clothes. He needed to release some tension and energy if he was going to rest at all.

He slipped out of the cabin, casting a glance toward the campground store. It was almost six thirty a.m. and Corrie’s apartment light was on but the store’s lights were still out. He had missed the Friday night fish fry dinner, but he hoped to be back once she was open and be able to talk to her more. And get a decent breakfast.

He started out, following the path he’d taken a couple of days earlier. The cool morning air was amazingly refreshing, helping clear his mind while invigorating and relaxing him at the same time. His breathing eased as his strides became more purposeful. He was near a breakthrough in the cold cases. He could feel it. Officer Amato had information that could help reveal the truth about what happened to the three women. After that… he’d have to wait and see.

He rounded the curve where he had seen the small cemetery the last time he had run this path and he slowed to a stop. He had pushed it to the back of his mind and had all but forgotten about it until this moment. Now was as good a time as any to pay his respects. His run had already accomplished its purpose. He knew he’d be able to sleep when he got to his cabin and he’d probably stroll back to the campground after this. He allowed himself a grin as he left the path, picking his way through the tall grass and brush to where the grave sites were.

Unlike most small cemeteries he’d encountered, there was no fence surrounding this one. In fact, there were only three wooden markers, crosses, all of them uniform but in different stages of weathering. He stopped when he got close enough to make out the lettering and suddenly the breath rushed out of him, leaving him feeling weak and dizzy with shock.

The first marker, the most faded, bore the name Carla Sandoval. The second, Rosalie Edwards. The third, the one with the least amount of weathering and the least faded lettering, read Benita Rojas.

Beside the one for Benita Rojas was an open grave. A plain wooden cross lay nearby. Both looked recent. Only a few days recent.

J.D. stumbled back, afraid that his eyes were playing tricks. He fumbled for his cell phone and let out an expletive when he realized he’d left it in his cabin when he changed his clothes. He reached the path and took off at a dead run back to the Black Horse Campground.

He’d been right; there had been more to the disappearances than what was common knowledge.

He hated it when he was right.

Author Bio

Amy Bennett’s debut mystery novel, End of the Road, started as a National Novel Writing Month project in 2009.  It went on to win the 2012 Dark Oak Mystery Contest and launched the Black Horse Campground mystery series, followed by No Lifeguard on Duty and No Vacancy, which have both been awarded the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. At the Cross Road is the fourth book in the series.

img_6271When not sitting at the laptop actively writing, she works full-time at Walmart of Alamogordo (not too far down the road from fictional Bonney County) as a cake decorator and part-time at Noisy Water Winery in Ruidoso (where you can find some of the best wines in the state of New Mexico, including Jo Mamma’s White!)  She lives with her husband and son in a small town halfway between Alamogordo and Ruidoso.  Visit her website at  and The Back Deck Blog at

AS IS: Confessions of a True Fatty

My guest today is Linda Misleh Wagner who has written about her battle with food and weight. It’s a compelling story that will capture your attention. Hi, Linda, thanks for coming on my blog to talk about your book, AS IS: Confessions of a True Fatty. Let’s get started.

As long as she can remember, Linda Misleh Wagner’s life has revolved around food.  Her parents and uncles owned neighborhood grocery stores where the children in the family could claim countless treats.  Family gatherings were centered around the wonderful ethnic dishes they had brought with them from their homeland and the new specialties they developed as Americans.  And, of course, there were the treats.  Skin a knee or get a good grade, the treats were the same: food.  The message was clear.  Food made everything better. So, as with so many of us, Linda became addicted to food.  Whenever life’s vicissitudes hit – and they hit her often – she turned to food for comfort, eventually topping out at 415 pounds on her 5’6” frame.

Bimage010ariatric surgery cured the type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol that plagued her, and Linda lost 250 pounds.  With her doctor assuring her that she had twenty pounds of loose skin, in reality she was down to 145.  But while the physical was addressed with the surgery, what had driven her to obesity was not, and five years post-surgery food once again became her drug of choice with Linda going back up to 315.  She had joined the 95% of people who don’t keep the weight off.

Linda’s personal story is both moving and compelling.  And because it touches on our power to persevere, it is universal.  In writing AS IS, Linda sought the reasons for her dependence on food.  But while the particular story is hers, the experience is one shared with the more than 60% of Americans who are overweight – more than half of whom are obese.  And in the writing, Linda began her journey to becoming a Future Former Fatty, inviting others to join her quest for health.

With her signature humor, honesty, and intelligent insight, Linda has answered some questions for us.

More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight.  What do you believe are the three most compelling reasons for this?Food tastes good.  Food is so yummy that it is almost an erotic experience for most of us. Many of us would rather eat than have sex. When we eat, we are not thinking about how we look naked in front of someone else. We just eat and enjoy.

  1. A party is not a party without good food. Food is very social, and brings people together. Be it a celebration or a funeral, our society centers around food. It is the socialization of food that proclaims to others “I care about you. I love you. I want to comfort you”. Most people, no matter their size, love to eat and look forward to their next meal. Stand still in a group of people and listen. Usually the topic is about something fantastic they ate at a restaurant followed by how much weight they need to lose.
  2. Right or wrong, food fulfills emotional needs. Hence comfort foods, pig out parties, last hurrah. We all tend to feel better after we indulge in foods we know will lift our spirits. Heck, I have had many a food high.

Statistics show that only around five percent of people who lose weight keep it off?  Why do you think the success rate is so low?

The reason why the rate is so low when it comes to keeping weight off is because the addiction of food is like no other type of addiction. We need food to survive. And if we are a food addict and an emotional basket case from time to time, the first thing any of us will do is reach for the cookie that we remember mommy offered to us when we were children and had a scraped knee or a bad day. Eating is needed to live, and is habitual. It’s too hard to change ingrained habits.

A lot of attention is given to anorexia and bulimia as illnesses, but very few people speak of obesity with such considered concern.  Why do you think society is more understanding of anorexia and bulimia than it is of obesity?

Unfortunately, people see obesity as a lack of will-power and self-discipline. Most people who have never had a weight problem cannot comprehend that obesity is just as much as a disease as anorexia and bulimia. The problem is in our heads whether we suffer from obesity, anorexia, or bulimia.

To what would you ascribe your problems with weight?

Oh boy! Cry me a river. Really, I am an emotional eater. I stuff my feelings of anger, inadequacy, hurt.  Name it, and I stuff it down. I like my world pretty, meaning kind, nice, respectful. When I feel like things our out of sorts in my life, my drug of choice is sugar.

You finally succumbed to bariatric surgery.  What are the pluses of having had it?

I am so grateful I had bariatric surgery. Even though I am once again fat, I was one hundred and thirty-five pounds heavier than I am now before the surgery. But post-surgery and initial weight loss, no more diabetes, blood pressure is so much better, and I had so much energy. I felt good about myself. I could shop anywhere I wanted and wear shoes with a heel without worrying about falling on my duff. And most importantly, my surgeon and doctor told me I was truly healthy.

What are the drawbacks?

You can’t eat. And when you can begin to add foods back into your diet, it is very easy to go down the slippery slope of reverting to old habits.

I also have trouble absorbing nutrients. I tend to be very anemic, and I get dehydrated very easily.

You regained about half the weight you lost.  Why?

The surgery is only a tool. People think that having bariatric surgery is “taking the easy way out”. It is not. Rearranging your organs to lose weight takes a lot of guts – and the rearranging of those guts.

I regained half my weight back because I reverted to the familiar habits I had prior to surgery when I was hit with the first devastating life shocker. Unfortunately, most bariatric patients will regain about fifty percent of their weight back.

The multi-billion diet and exercise industry in this country is a failure.  Why?

Because the problem is not about dieting and exercise. These things are solutions. We have to address the real problem. And that problem that needs to be fixed is a problem that no diet plan or exercise routine or surgery will resolve. The solution is to fix what’s between the ears.

Whatever the issues in our lives, we have to change the relationship we have with food and truly fight the demons that call our name. Funny, but it is kind of like your first boyfriend. You decide to save yourself for marriage, but he is just so dog-gone cute. It’s hard to say no. The same goes for food. If you have a bad relationship with food, it’s hard to resist. If you have a good relationship with food, you are healthy. Simple as that.

The diet and exercise industry promises to fix the outside when it is the inside that needs fixing.

What does it really take to reclaim a healthy lifestyle?  And how would you define that lifestyle?

Commitment, kindness to self, and a desire to live far better than we are living now.  Making a commitment to one’s self is so difficult. It is easy to let ourselves down and deal with the consequences. Denial is powerful.

We have to stop being so hard on ourselves. We are not failures if we struggle to get a grip on our weight. We have a true medical problem. We need to start treating obesity as a disease. If we had a serious medical issue such as diabetes or heart problems, we wouldn’t hesitate to take the medicine needed to keep us healthier.

The same goes for obesity. We need to realize that a weight problem needs medical attention as much as any other disease. Let’s face it. Obesity leads to diabetes, heart problems, and so many other diseases.  Therefore, it is a disease with consequences like any other disease.

You are once again on a weight-loss track. What will make this time successful for you?

I am going to be real honest with you. I don’t know if this time I will be successful. I can only say that I really am trying to eat better, make better choices, move more, and take better care of myself. If the result is I lose weight and get healthy, then my day-to-day choices will make this time successful.

I don’t care about how fast I lose weight. I care more that I am aware of what I am doing to myself when I don’t eat right. Once we are aware, we are more likely to think twice before succumbing to anything that will do us harm. And make no mistake, eating poorly is something we all need to be very aware of and change. Successful weight loss is a byproduct of making a commitment and following through with taking care of ourselves.

What are your three top bits of advice for beating the cheat?

  1. Talk yourself out of it! Remind yourself how well you are doing and why you are working to lose weight. When we start to feel better about ourselves, we tend to forget the reasons why we know we need to lose weight.
  2. Get yourself away from whatever food is calling your name. Then stop. Breathe in and out a few times. And then ask yourself, why do I feel like cheating? Is it worth it, or will it only serve to make me feel guilty and bad about myself. If you are in the house, go take a walk. No money or debit/credit cards. It is too easy to give in to fast foods.
  3. Call a friend. If you have a good support team than can talk you out of it, then If you don’t have someone to talk you out of cheating, then beat the cheat by calling a friend and talking or go meet for a cup of tea or coffee. The cravings will go away after about twenty-minutes.

AS IS is not a diet book, it is a memoir. Who do you see as your primary audience?

Anyone who has ever had a weight problem, be it obesity, anorexia, bulimia. Food addiction is addiction, no matter what end of the spectrum you are at.

I know people who have never had food issues, but have family, friends, children who may have weight problems and they want to understand them better and find ways to help them. My book is relatable. There isn’t anyone who will not relate to everything I share, and trust me, I tell all my nitty gritty truths.

No matter what a person’s problems, if it has anything to do with food people will see themselves in my story, they will relate, and they will find they are not alone. We all are confronted with many different and painful life situations. As you read AS IS, you will learn I have had more than my share. With that said, somewhere deep down inside, when we must deal with difficult times, we find an inner strength to survive and overcome no matter what. There is something amazing and resilient in knowing this.

Why did you write AS IS?

At first, I thought to write a book that made fun of being obese yet with a very clear message that obesity is really not funny. It is serious. Sometimes it is easier to bring to light serious topics through humor.

But when pushed by my editor, Mark Clements, to dig deeper and get into the reality of my obesity, I found I needed to explore how the effects of obesity have contributed to my life and have been affected by my life.

It was time to bring to light the reality of the disease of obesity. It is not about a lack of will-power. If it was, it would be so easy to solve our weight problems. It is not that we don’t have the self-discipline to just push the plate away. It is because we can’t push the plate away because there is an addiction problem that needs to be addressed.

What do you hope readers take away from reading your book?

I hope readers will see themselves in my story, and that they will know they are not alone. They are not failures. That others share the same struggles as they do.

I hope readers recognize that as long as we keep fighting to be healthy, we will eventually succeed and do better than we were doing before. I may have gained some of my weight back after bariatric surgery, but I gained less than half of what I lost, and I have not gained weight since I began this new journey. Instead, I have begun to lose weight again.

If I can do it, my readers will be inspired and know they can too. We unite and work to go from future former fatties to former fatties. We can and will do this together.

Thanks, Linda. Your book is a topic that many Americans struggle with, I’m sure your insight will be a big help to those who may have lost hope.

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