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John M. Wills

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Writing

Go Inside The FBI

Today I’m visiting with William Larsh who has a new book out, The FBI, They Eat Their Young.

Hi, Bill, I’ve read your book and found it interesting and intriguing since it affords readers a glimpse into the FBI most have never seen. Please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of yourself.

Sure, John, and thanks for hosting me on your blog. I was born and raised in Perry Hall, Maryland, graduated from Towson State University, Towson, Maryland, and beganBill Larsh author pic working for the FBI in 1984.  In 1987, I was appointed as a Special Agent and was assigned to several different cities throughout my career.  I retired as a Supervisory Special Agent in 2012.  I currently live in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

How did your writing journey begin?

I honed my writing skills during my long career in the FBI.  I told countless stories of my FBI experiences to other FBI agents, friends, and family, throughout my career.  Nearly everyone seemed interested and amused by more stories.  Many FBI agents said to me, “Bill, you should write a book.  The public would never believe it.”  Following retirement, I wrote the book!

Tell us a bit about your new book, The FBI, They Eat Their Young.

fbi book larshThis book is an honest and detailed memoir of an agent’s career, providing the reader with the unique and amusing story of one agent’s journey from his first day of work until his retirement.  My story, however, exposes a dark side of FBI management in a callous bureaucracy, illustrating their pettiness, vindictiveness, massive egos, and retaliatory nature.

Have you written any other books?

I published my first book in December 2016, a novel entitled “L’Archevêque” based on the true story of my ancestor, Paul L’Archevêque, a French fur trader who traded with the Shawnee Indians in the Ohio Valley in the 1700s.

What are your passions, hobbies, family?

Golfing has always been my passion.  I also enjoy traveling, working out, bicycling, watching old movies, and listening to my favorite music.  My favorite travel destination is the Highlands of Scotland, where my grandmother, Elizabeth Chisholm Larsh, was born.  My family and I enjoy visiting our Chisholm cousins in Scotland, hiking the mountains in the Highlands, and playing golf on Scottish Links courses.  I have been married for over 33 years to my wife, Cindy.  We have two grown children, Ethan, age 27, and Mary, age 26.  We also enjoy visiting our extended families that live mainly in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

What is life after retirement like?

Besides writing two books, I have been able to enjoy all my interests full-time.  I have played approximately 1,500 rounds of golf since retiring, many with my children and wife.  I have traveled to see my Chisholm cousins in Scotland four times (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) for as long as 30 days.

Any new books on the horizon?

My nephew (by marriage) has requested that I write his biography.  He is a full-blooded native Indian from Canada from the Métis Nation.  Following his birth in 1973, Canadian social workers forcibly took him away from his mother.  He has recently learned of the identity of his mother and other relatives in Canada and is participating in a class-action lawsuit filed against the Canadian government for their unconscionable policy of separating indigenous children from their families and then putting them up for adoption to white families.

Bill, thanks for visiting my blog today. I’m sure readers will find your book as fascinating as I did. Best of luck on your future endeavors. Visit Bill’s Amazon author page for more information.

Choosing Book Titles

Today, my good friend and award-winning prolific author, Marilyn Meredith, visits my blog to discuss how she comes up with titles for her novels. Having written dozens of books, she knows what she’s talking about. Tell us how you do it, Marilyn.

Thanks, John. Every author has his or her own way of doing this—but for me it’s been different for each of my books. When I started the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, the first book I wrote, Deadly Trail, was not the first book published. Deadly Omen was the one my then publisher wanted. With two books having the word deadly in them, for a few short moments I considered having the word Deadly in every title. However, I realized that would be quite limiting.

Unequally Yoked is about a problem in Tempe’s marriage to Hutch because of his Christian beliefs and her using Indian mysticism to solve crimes. This becomes an ongoing problem for them.AColdDeath-lg

The title Intervention refers to something that happens in the story. The Wing Beat is the wing beat of an owl, the harbinger of danger. I don’t think Calling the Dead needs any explanation. Judgment Fire is about fires and in one case the judgment that comes along with it. Kindred Spirits refers to Tempe and new friends she meets—but it also is in honor of the Tolowa woman I met and who gave me some great ideas for this book and became a close friend.

Dispel the Mist and Invisible Path come from Indian sayings and they fit what happens in the mysteries.

Bears With Us is both a play on words and describes what is happening when bears invade Bear Creek. Raging Water is self-explanatory.

Spirit Shapes involves a haunted house, ghosts and spirits. And yes, River Spirits is just that, spirits that come up from the river.

Seldom Traveled is also based on an Indian’s philosophy and fits the places where Tempe has to go. The latest in the series, A Cold Death can be taken two ways.

Some of these titles are what inspired the book, others came to me while I was writing. It isn’t a mysterious process to me, though some titles I know from the beginning, others come later.

For you writers out there, do you have a particular formula for creating a title?

Marilyn

A quick look at Marilyn’s new release: A Cold Death.

Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her husband answer the call for help with unruly guests visiting a closed summer camp during a huge snow storm and are trapped there along with the others. One is a murderer.

Anyone who orders any of my books from the publisher’s website: https://mundania.com

can get 10% off by entering MP20 coupon code in the shopping cart.

This is good all the time for all my books, E-books and print books.

On Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074XNP87Z/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1503149760&sr=1-1&keywords=a+cold+death+by+marilyn+meredith

Marilyn Meredith’s published book count is nearing 40. She is one of the founding members of the San Joaquin chapter of Sister in Crime. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taMe at Danas quiltught 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, a place with many similarities to Tempe Crabtree’s patrol area. Webpage:  http://fictionforyou.com Blog:  http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/ and you can follow her on Facebook.

Contest: Once again I’m going to use the name of the person who comments on the most blogs on my tour for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery—which may be the last in the series.

Tomorrow I’ll be here: http://evelyncullet.com/blog/ talking about, “Lessons I Learned Along the Way.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Story About Cops

Today I’m hosting Ben Celano, author of BEAT COP, CHICAGO BLUE, Reflections of a “Street Grunt,” books one and two. As a former Chicago police officer, I enjoy reading books written by my former colleagues. Please join me as we  learn a little bit about Officer Celano and his books.

Ben, please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of yourself.

61dlBaRiisL._SX800_Thanks, John. I’m a 22 year veteran of the Chicago PD. Prior to becoming a cop I had a series of marketing jobs for major corporations. After serving in the Army from 1963 -1966, I set my sights on becoming a Chicago police officer, something that had been a life-long aspiration of mine.

I served the city of Chicago as an officer from 1982 – 2004 in one of the busiest districts in the city, working both a beat car and squadrol (prisoner transport). My entire tenure in the department was spent on the street. Along the way, I met many interesting people, some of whom I had to arrest. My stories, and the stories of the officers I worked with, are the brutal truthful reality of those experiences.

When did you begin writing and why?

My first attempts at writing occurred when I was 16-years-old. I attended a YMCA English class in night school. Our teacher asked us to write a short story, which I did, and that’s when I got the bug. After that, I dipped in and out of writing for personal enjoyment. While a police officer, I wrote articles for a local newspaper, “The Austin Weekly.”

When I retired, I wrote in fits and starts until this past year when I wrote my two books. Because I am an avid reader, I admire James A. Michener, Leon Uris, Ian Fleming, Rod Serling, Ed McBain, and Joseph Wambaugh, to name a few.

Briefly describe your books.

My books illustrate what beat cops do every day. We see a side of society that most will51--L+MvvSL never know. It is the truth of the “street” where mistakes can be deadly. The stories in both books are not sugar coated politically correct versions of the truth. Like it or not, the truth of a police officer’s job is the stark ugly reality of aberrant human behavior. These books rip off the bandage of sanitized news, and give the reader a glimpse of the festering wounds of society’s downtrodden and the police interactions with them.

Besides these books, have you published anything else?

Only the articles I wrote in “The Austin Weekly.”

41wQIfCw5rLDo you write anything besides non-fiction?

Yes, I’m working on a fictional police procedural.

Family, where you live, and any hobbies or passions?

I’ve been happily married for 32 years and live in the western suburbs of Chicago. My hobby, or  obsession  as you might say, is writing.

Any new books on the horizon?

I may possibly write a Book 3 in my Beat Cop series since some of my old comrades want me to tell their stories as well. Right now, that idea is in its embryonic stage, but who knows?

Thanks, Ben, it’s been an interesting interview, and I’m sure those who enjoy true police stories will find your books fascinating. Please let us know when your next book will be published.

Ben’s books are available on Amazon at this link: http://tiny.cc/7neqny

 

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

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