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John M. Wills

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Thirty Years Worth of Cop Stories

stories chicago officer bookToday I’m pleased to host retired Chicago Police Sergeant Larry Casey. His book, Stories of a Chicago Police Officer: Serious, Hilarious, Unbelievable, but True, is a collection of personal anecdotes culled from his 30 years’ experience working the streets of the ‘Windy City.’

By way of background, Larry’s grandfather and father were both Chicago cops, therefore his career path seemed predestined. That family history was carried forward in 1977, when at the age of 25 Larry embarked on a three-decade journey that would shock, surprise, humble, and entertain him as he pushed a blue and white around what Frank Sinatra referred to as, That Toddlin’ Town in his iconic song, “Chicago.”

His quest to be the best led him to earn his B.A. and M.A. from Lewis University while still working on the job. That prescience enabled him to begin a new career after retiring from the police department. Larry is now an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice at Wilbur Wright College.

After reading the stories in Larry’s book, some might consider it a work of fiction rather than a memoir or autobiography. But having been a Chicago police officer, I can attest to the validity of the author’s experiences. My colleagues and I used to look at each other constantly and say, “You can’t make this stuff up.”Larry Casey

The book consists of two sections—the first recalls the author’s experiences working as a patrol officer, while the second concerns his tenure as a sergeant. Both offerings are equally entertaining, and at times, eye opening. His stories are a no-holds barred look into the machinations of both cops and bad guys. Larry gives a down and dirty look at what really happens in big cities, and how cops deal with incidents that most people would never imagine happen.

The bulk of the stories are just one or two pages in length, making the book a perfect beach read or nightstand book. One might read several stories before turning off the lights for the last bit of entertainment of the day. Stories Of A Chicago Police Officer can be purchased from the author’s website: Buy the book, from Amazon: Amazon.com, or from Barnes and Noble.

 

How Do I Become A Writer?

You’ve finished your book, editing and proofing are completed, cover is finished and it’s on its way to the publisher. Now the big question—Will anyone read my work? Chilean author, Isabel Allende, once said that writing a book is like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it in the ocean. You never know if it will reach any shores.

Writing is time consuming and tiring. For many, writing is a full-time job in addition to their “real” job. Some call writing a hobby, but putting up to four or five hours a day doing something is actually more like a job than a hobby. We put so much time and effort in creating our stories that the art of writing can be physically taxing. Writing involves a myriad of components that all shape the successful writer. Many well-known authors home-office-336377_1920such as Stephen King insist that to become a good writer, one must be a good reader. You must read not only the genre in which you write, but read everything—poetry, prose, non-fiction—to be exposed to the art of writing. How do others reach out to readers, how does their writing style compare to your own, and is there one thing in their technique you can incorporate into your own writing style?

I’m sometimes asked by aspiring writers how to get started. I don’t know of any template that exists for the beginning writer, but I do know the first step is simply, to write. Begin to put your ideas on paper. Make daily writing a habit. Don’t write in a vacuum, have others read your work, ideally someone not related to you because you want an objective opinion of your work. Family will most often always tell you your work is great. Sometimes they’re right, it is great, but more often than not it needs tweaking. Take criticism well, don’t argue with feedback. Remember, you asked for someone’s opinion so be gracious in accepting their suggestions. Keep your expectations low. Don’t expect everything you write to be a best-seller or award-winning. Be proud of your work and promote it.

Most of all, think of yourself as a writer and make it part of your persona. Be confident in your abilities and soon others will begin to see you as a writer as well.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood

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: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1938436237

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: http://www.jlgreger.com or her Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008IFZSC4.

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 bookandtablevaldosta@gmail.com 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 http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

 What’s next?

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

http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/

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 http://secondcareersforstreetcops.com/?page_id=36 and from time to time I write articles on a site called Careers in Government https://www.careersingovernment.com/

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.

 

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