John M. Wills

Books and blog



Janet Greger’s New Offering Hits The Mark

Good friend and fellow author, Janet Greger, loves to create new ways for her readers to enjoy her mysteries. In her latest novel, Riddled With Clues, her tale is rife with riddles that challenge the reader and enhance the story. Join me in welcoming Janet to my blog as she explains her take on creating an interesting and dynamic protagonist.

In Search of a Protagonist

I can’t be the only reader tired of “dizzy” snoops who clumsily stumble into police investigations in cozy mysteries and of misunderstood police detectives with drinking problems in crime novels. I also don’t want to read about another neurotic genius, like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. Let’s face it – most problems are solved by normal people, albeit probably more observant than most.

What are the essential characteristics of a good protagonist for a mystery or a thriller (or more likely a series of books)? You might debate these points, but they should start you thinking.

  • The individual should be able to solve problems and be observant.
  • (S)he should have logical access to crime scenes, government secrets, or criminal information.
  • The individual should have at least one additional type of expertise (i.e. ability to induce others to talk too much, computer skills, martial arts prowess, etc.)
  • The character should have a quirk or two so as to be realistic.
  • (S)he will probably be gutsy at least occasionally.

Do you want to add other characteristics to the list?

51cGMjOuqrLSara Almquist, the lead character in Riddled with Clues, is an epidemiologist. She has creatively extracted information from large medical data sets to predict the incidence of diseases and the behavior of patients for years. With a few tweaks, she’s able to pry data on individuals from all sorts of datasets. In other word, she’s a professional busybody and a real asset during investigations.

She’s normal, but maybe a bit bossy and cranky. Doesn’t that sound like most middle-aged women? (Men, who are smart, won’t answer that question.) She’s dotty about her dog Bug, who is based closely on my real Japanese Chin. (Please note I use “who” not “which” when describing Bug.) Over the course, of several novels (I Saw You in Beirut, Malignancy, Coming Flu and Ignore the Pain), she has been a colleague of local police officers, FBI agents, and State Department officials. She’s found two of the men interesting in a romantic way. Both are characters in Riddled with Clues, and yes that does add a subplot to this thriller.2016a Bug

Now you can decide if you want to learn more about Sara’s in Riddled with Clues. Here’s the blurb:

A hospitalized friend gives a puzzling note to Sara Almquist. He received the note signed “Red from Udon Thani” while investigating the movement of drugs from Cuba into the U.S. However, he doesn’t know anyone called Red, and the last time he was in Udon Thani was during the Vietnam War. After Sara listens to his rambling tales of all the possibilities, both are attacked. He is left comatose. As she struggles to survive, she questions who to trust: the local cops, her absent best friend, the FBI, or a homeless veteran, who leaves puzzling riddles as clues.

I think you’ll find Sara is not the standard protagonist for a thriller, but she’s more than up to the task.

Riddled with Clues (both paperback and Kindle versions) is available at Amazon:

Bio: J. L. Greger likes to include “sound bites” on science and on exotic locations in her Science Traveler Thriller/Mystery series, which includes: Riddled with Clues, Murder…A Way to Lose Weight (winner of 2016 Public Safety Writers [PSWA] annual contest and finalist for New Mexico–Arizona book award), I Saw You in Beirut, and Malignancy (winner of 2015 PSWA annual contest). To learn more, visit her website: or her Amazon author page:

Thanks, Janet, I read Riddled and thoroughly enjoyed the story. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Sell a ton of copies!


Great New Mystery Novel

Today I’m hosting a fellow writer and good friend, Marilyn Meredith. I’ve asked her to tell us about her latest mystery offering.

MM author shotOnce again, I’m embarking on a blog tour, this time for the latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.

When I began this series with Final Respects I had no idea I would continue on writing about this police department set in beach community on the Pacific coast. Though it is an imaginary department in a fictional place, it is quite similar to the police department in the beach town I lived in many years ago.

The reason I continued writing this series is I fell in love with the place and the characters. I can see Rocky Bluff in my mind like a memory. The people who make up the RBPD and their families became important to me. After each book I wanted to write another to see what was going to happen to them next. The characters’ lives became as key as the mystery the detectives have to solve.

When I tell someone about the Rocky Bluff series I always say that it is as much about the police officers’ families as it is about the mysteries.

Though I titled this one Unresolved the mystery itself is solved, but there are still some loose ends, and the title seemed to fit.

Marilyn, give my readers a quick overview of Unresolved.

Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.Unresolved cover

Copies may be purchased from Book and Table by emailing with a 10% discount and free shipping.

Books may be ordered from all the usual places as well.

About the author:

M. Meredith lived for many years in a small beach community much like Rocky Bluff. She has many relatives and friends who are in law enforcement and share their experiences and expertise with her. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at and her blog at

 What’s next?

Tomorrow, April 24   I’ll tell you about my favorite characters in the series/

Interesting New Book by John Eldridge

Today I’m hosting John Eldridge, cop turned author, who is going to tell us a bit about his new book: Second Careers for Street Cops.

John, please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of who you are.

author picHi John. Thanks for the opportunity to let your readers know a bit about me and my book. I was a police officer in Vancouver, British Columbia, for 26 years. Policing turned out to be just the right type of career for me, always on the go and never knowing what each new shift would bring. After my police career, I went to work in the Investigations Division of the Workers Compensation Board where I led a team investing fatalities and serious injuries in the workplace. It was a good follow-up to my police career as I used many of the skills I learned in police work. A lot of our investigators were former police officers so I felt right at home.

During my time at the Workers Compensation Board, I hired police officers who were getting ready to retire from police work and wanted a second career. They had investigative skills and brought a great resumé to their job search, but here’s what I noticed about most of those retiring cops: they didn’t have a plan for a second career. I began to think about how I could help police officers plan for a second career.

When did you begin writing and why?

After I retired from my second career, it took about a year to transition and realize I didn’t have a full-time, high pressure job anymore. But I still wanted a challenge. I’d always enjoyed writing (yes, even police reports) so I thought I’d try writing a book.

Then came the big question: “What should I write about?” Someone told me: “Write what you know.” So, I thought about my most recent life’s experiences and concluded that what I knew most about was police work and moving from a police career into a second career. My experience hiring those police officers taught me some lessons about preparing for such a move. At that point I got excited about the writing project and figured I could produce a book that would help our current police officers get ready to move on to a second career.

Briefly describe you book.

I wrote Second Careers for Street Cops in a way police officers can relate to. It’s structured to roughly follow the pattern of a police investigation, except the investigation is about the reader’s own experience and career portfolio. Some of the chapter titles will be familiar to a police reader. Chapter Two is called Assess the Situation, Chapter Three is Gather the Facts, and Chapter Eight is called Every Investigation Needs an Operational Plan – Design Yours.second-career-cover

The big point to see here is the reader doing a self-investigation, assessing their own strengths and weaknesses, and gathering documentation to build a solid resumé. All that needs to be done before a police career ends so the officer is set up to plan and move into a second career smoothly. It’s way better than just hoping to get lucky and stumble into a new career they’ll like. That’s a key message.

Finally, my book gives the reader some resources to follow up with, places to get more information about planning for a second career.

Besides your book, Second Careers for Street Cops, have you published anything else?

I do a blog focused on second career issues at and from time to time I write articles on a site called Careers in Government

Do you write anything besides non-fiction?

Back in my policing days, I wrote a crime prevention column for a local newspaper. Now I’m working on a short story with a police theme set in Vancouver.

Briefly tell us about your family, where you live, and any hobbies or passions.

I live in Vancouver with my wife and our Golden Retriever dog. Like a lot of writers, I’m a big-time reader, mostly about crime, politics and our changing world. The great crime writers Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly are two of my favorites. I belong to the Public Safety Writers Association and enjoy my connection with other writers there.

I’d be happy to have your readers follow me on Twitter @copsecondcareer and you can find me on LinkedIn.

Do you have any new books on the horizon?

The changes in job seeking, second careers, and opportunities for police officers are ever changing. I’m watching what is happening and considering how I can update my book in a way that will be valuable to police officers looking ahead to a second career. I’m planning to start that update in the fall of 2017 so the second edition should be available early in 2018.


Amy Bennett’s Latest Black Horse Campground Mystery

Today I’m hosting my good friend and fellow author, Amy Bennett. Her latest mystery is now available and it’s sure to please readers who’ve followed Amy’s other novels.

It’s finally here!

As some of you know, I (and several fellow authors) ran into a snag with the release of our latest books last year. Our publisher experienced some severe health issues which halted production. Fortunately, a good friend who happens to be a fellow author and publisher, Mike Orenduff, offered to publish the books that our publisher had slated for 2016 publication. So, consider me fashionably late, but I can promise you….

“A Summer to Remember”!Adobe Photoshop PDF

It’s been a memorable year at the Black Horse Campground. But someone wants certain things forgotten….

After Bonney Police detective J.D. Wilder wraps up three cold-case murders, believing that the murderer was his former partner, he tries to focus on his personal life in his new hometown and his budding relationship with Corrie Black, owner of the Black Horse Campground.

When he receives information that proves his former partner wasn’t the murderer, the case is reopened with the knowledge and urgency that the killer is poised to strike again. But who held a grudge against the three cold-case victims… and who is that person’s next target? With the help of Bonney County Sheriff Rick Sutton, J.D. probes the memories of several Bonney residents who knew the victims and begins to make connections.

Then another death occurs and, while J.D. and Rick are investigating, Corrie is attacked. The attacker and the cold-case murderer could be the same person, but Corrie’s condition is critical and she’s lost her memories of the entire previous year… including the identity of her attacker and even having met J.D. Will she survive long enough to remember what happened? Or will she end up as a memory and the murderer gets away once again?

Join Corrie Black and her friends as they investigate mysteries at their home and business in Bonney County, New Mexico

More from Amy:Amy Bennett

“End of the Road”–A mysterious biker shows up just before a long-time guest ends up dead in his RV with a large amount of money missing.

“No Lifeguard on Duty”–A young woman is found dead in the pool and someone is using the campground as a base for illegal activities.

“No Vacancy”–A guest is found dead in a cabin and long-lost family secrets begin to surface as the hunt for his murderer is on.

“At the Crossroad”–Three cold case murders and several unexpected visitors add up to one big mystery—and another death.

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.






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