John M. Wills

Books and blog


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New Release From Successful Author

What’s it Like Having Two Different Publishers? That’s the question I posed to talented author, Marilyn Meredith. She honored me by being the first to host her on a brand new blog tour. Enjoy her comments below.

Marilyn at CRSA ConfereinceOver the years I’ve had many different publishers for all sorts of reasons. For my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the first publisher was a pioneer in e-publishing. The problem was no one had a clue what e-publishing meant. Because there were no e-readers at the time, the book had to be read on the computer and didn’t catch on. From there I went to another novice e-publisher, though by that time, print on demand had come along. I switched publishers and had two more books in the series published, but the publisher decided to move on to other pursuits. Of course I found another publisher.

My Deputy Tempe Crabtree series had a bit of a different history. The first publisher had four books in the series printed as mass-market paperback. Sadly, she passed away unexpectedly. The next publisher knew all about e-publishing and print-on-demand. Life became a problem, and she gave up her business. It was purchased by Mundania Press who has continued to publish the series.

Both my present publishers are savvy about the publishing business, but tackle things in totally different ways. Because I am friends with the publisher of the RBPD series, we discuss both publishing and other topics on a regular basis and even have lunch together now and then. I hire an editor to go over my manuscript before I send it on to the publisher, because she doesn’t have a big staff.

I’ve met the former and present owner of Mundania at different conferences. I’m Facebook friends with both. Mundania has a huge stable of authors and professional editors and cover artists on staff. I’m very fond of covers of my books done by one of their artists.

My feeling is the biggest difference between the two publishers is the size of the operations. I’m happy with both.

The latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series is Seldom Traveled.Seldom Traveled Front Cover

The tranquility of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

Who is Marilyn Meredith?

Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains. She is a member Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

New Contest: Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

Tomorrow’s stop is here:




A visit with Author Tracy S. Deitz


Please introduce yourself, when you began writing, etc.

My less-than-glorious start involved writing obituary announcements for a small daily newspaper in the 1980s, but I worked my way up to full-page feature stories. Since those early days, I’ve written two nonfiction books. The debut work, Employed by God: Benefits Packaged With Faith, focuses on how faith secures us in times of turmoil; the second book, Break The Cycle: Healing From An Abusive Relationship, shares healing resources with families suffering from domestic violence.

Do you write every day?

Since I teach full-time, I don’t always have the creative energy needed to write daily. Sometimes, I go in spurts and write six or more hours on weekends, then rest a few days and start again. I need down time to enjoy life and have new experiences that infuse the writing with vividness and freshness.

I know you have a recent book released. Please tell my readers about it.Tracy Dietz pic

Break the Cycle: Healing From An Abusive Relationship recounts the true story of a woman trapped in domestic violence and how she found solutions. The book began with my work as a trained advocate for survivors of domestic violence and includes resources for help. According to A. S. Gottlieb’s September 2008 article “Intimate Partner Violence” posted in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, one in four American women will be physically assaulted or raped by an intimate partner during her lifetime ( Because concerns about domestic violence are widespread, the United Methodist Women’s Reading Program selected Break the Cycle for its national 2014 reading program.

What inspired you to become a writer in your chosen genre?

My works revolve around my Christian belief that God is good and present with us every day. If we can hang onto our faith, He’ll carry us through every difficulty. I want to share hope with everyone who faces despair when life and circumstances beat us down.

What is your most rewarding writing experience?

I absolutely adore it when people in our Monday night critique group recognize a humorous section and laugh out loud at a never-before shared draft. Their affirmation keeps me working the long hours in solitude trying to create engaging characters and capture a moving scene.

Do you belong to any writing groups, or critique groups?

Yes, our Fredericksburg group meets at Books-A-Million. We have all ages, colors, sizes and genre writers, and we all respect each other’s efforts to hone our craft. I worked more than a year with this group slaving over draft after draft before ever a page saw the light of day in publication. I treasure the protection in the group’s feedback, knowing my colleagues will point out troubled areas before I go public and embarrass myself.

Are you working on a new project?

Yes, I’m contracting with a literary agent to solicit a publisher for a 300-page novel about three women in a small-town community who operate a modern underground railroad to rescue victims of domestic abuse.

Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?

Thank you for sharing life’s journey! Each of you enrich someone else’s day in a special way. Books open an avenue for us to confront our inner demons and embrace the best of who we can become. I appreciate the opportunity to fellowship and grow with you.

Please provide the readers with a link to your website, and links to your books.

My website is

Free resources for dealing with domestic abuse can be found at

Both books are available through Amazon via print or Kindle. Online reviews are very helpful, and I welcome your feedback.

Break the Cycle

Employed By God


Author Interview with J. Allen Hill

Please introduce yourself, and tell us about your background.

My name is J. Allen Hill. I am a first time novelist with a PhD in Living – a little conceit of mine, as much like my secretly adopted mentor, John Steinbeck, I have never completed a degree program. A Midwesterner by birth, an East Coaster by choice, writing has been both a source of income and a lifetime’s pleasure. If experience has anything to do with putting words on paper, I’ve probably done it or taken a class in it: newsletters, white papers, administrative, technical and financial reports, government proposals, user guides and training plans, software test plans, meeting minutes – facts, protocols, standards. My only relief from this routine was working in the theater and trying my hand at drama. These days I can indulge full-time in short stories, poetry, and novels.

When I sit down to write, I draw on my pool of distilled experience: everything from people I have known to places I have been to achievements and DIARY cover jpgfailures, pleasures and pain. The memory bank can be a strange place to visit, but so much of what I dredge up from there often lands on the page – a fit of laughter, a painful affair, the scent of a long desiccated sprig of lavender plucked from a childhood garden, all woven together with fragments of truth and wild sprints of imagination. And that is why I write. It is such an adventure.

When did you begin writing?

Around the age of ten. I wrote a play about a band of gypsies gallivanting around a forest – kind of a cross between Carmen and Robin Hood.

Do you write every day, and are novels the only things you write?

One way or another, I do write every day, much of the initial drafting taking place in my head, getting acquainted with prospective characters and working out plot problems.

I prefer writing novels but am also working (slowly) on a novel constructed of short stories – somewhat in the style of Olive Kittredge. Sadly, I do not put pen to paper every day. It’s a form of writer’s block, I suppose, but I write chronologically, and am completely unable to begin a piece until I have worked out the beginning in my mind. I have, however, usually written the main character’s back stories and know the end of the novel before I begin.

I know you have just released a new novel. Please tell my readers about it, and what your inspiration to write it was.

The Secret Diary of Ewan Macrae was originally inspired by my reading of Born Fighting:

How the Scotch-Irish Shaped America, by Virginia Senator James Webb, as well as my love of the story of the founding of America, and my own trip to Scotland where I unexpectedly discovered that my family name, Allen, has Scottish roots. Wanting to tell the story of an early Scottish immigrant and how he might have influenced future history, I decided to tell two stories of one family spanning two centuries.

The novel, set in 1946, is the story of two very different people. Margaret is an abused small town North Carolina mountain girl. Phil is a Manhattan writer running from the law. Both are launched on journeys of self discovery. Together they search for the answers to a mystery, the solution probably buried in the past. Along the way they uncover a conspiracy, overcome conflict and fall in love. A source of strength and inspiration for them both is the 200-year-old diary written by Margaret’s Scottish ancestor who fled to America in 1746. The accounts, spanning two centuries have amazing parallels.

I chose to construct the novel using these particular dates that I find quite significant in the history of our country: 1946, when the United States, victorious in World War II, is poised to take over the leadership of the world. And 1746, when waves of immigrants were arriving in America just as it is poised to launch the war from which it will emerge as that fledgling power.

What is your most rewarding writing experience?

There are many, but probably the best is the satisfaction in completion of a project lovingly crafted for (in my case) well over 5 years.

Do you belong to any writing groups, or critique groups?

I am a past member of the Playwrights Forum, Washington, DC, a member of the Writers Center in Bethesda, Maryland, the Virginia Writers Club and its chapter, Riverside Writers. I also participate in Riverside critique sessions and a local novel-writing group named SCADR.

Are you working on any new project?

Yes. Several years ago I discovered the tomb of an unknown Revolutionary War soldier in a churchyard in historic Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. Apparently, he was first discovered buried in an “ammunition box” wearing a “Patriot uniform with Kentucky buttons.” After polling every organization involved in his dis- and re-interment for information as to who he might have been and I found, while there is much speculation, it appears he really is unknown. I decided to write a story of what his life might have been and how in the world he ended up in that box. The Unknown: An American Odyssey is due out in 2014.

Is there anything we have not covered that you would like to share with our readers?

It has been said that writing is a lonely occupation. However, it is also a collaborative life and for that I thank all of my cohorts. So many have given generously of their knowledge, skills, and support to this project – it could not have happened without them.

Please provide the readers with a link to your website, and a link to your book.

As The Secret Diary was released just days ago, my website is in the design stages. The book can be found on Amazon at the link below:



PSWA Results

John's yet to be released novel.
John’s yet to be released novel.

What a wonderful conference I just attended! My writing network continues to expand, as I met several new members to our organization: the Public Safety Writers Association. One couldn’t help but improve their writing after all of the excellent presentations and panels. Truly a worthwhile event.

I was blessed to have won multiple awards for my submissions to the writing competition. However, what pleases me most is that my next book, The Year Without Christmas: A Novel, won an award. It is set to be released in October, and tells the story of a family’s struggle to recover from a tragic accident. Two prevalent problems surfacing in our society today–PTSD and homelessness–themselves become characters in this compelling read. Watch my blog for further details.

The Conference

Casino logo
Casino logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the first day of the Public Safety Writers Association Conference. We’re at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, where we’ve held the conference for the last several years. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

Meet Author Bob Doerr

Today, I’m pleased to welcome a friend and fellow author to my blog, Mr. Bob Doerr. Bob served our great nation for twenty-eight years as a criminal investigator in the Air Force. His background is exceptional. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and also later received a Masters in International Relations. Bob is a counterintelligence expert, having worked espionage and terrorism cases all over the world. Learn more about Mr. Doerr at his website: Bob Doerr, Author.No One Else To Kill

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your writing journey.

I grew up as a kid in a military family and then spent nearly thirty years in the Air Force in a small organization known as the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. After the Air Force, I spent eight years as a financial advisor. For the past five years, I’ve been writing professionally and have thoroughly enjoyed it. To date I have had five books published, all in the Jim West mystery/thriller series.

Do you write every day, and are novels the only things you write?

I try to write just about every day, but probably average five days a week. I have written short stories and have been published in two anthologies, but for the most part I write novels.

I know that you recently won a prestigious writing award for one of the books in your successful Jim West series.

My book, No One Else to Kill, was selected as runner-up to the winning book in the commercial fiction category of the 2013 Eric Hoffer Awards. The Eric Hoffer Awards are held annually and are open to any book that is published in English by anyone except for those books published by the big six publishing houses. The books can come from mid size presses, university presses, very small publishers and can even be self-published. This is a very large contest with 1000 – 1200 books submitted for consideration each year, so as you can imagine, I was extremely pleased to have my book selected as runner-up. No One Else to Kill was also selected as a Finalist for the DaVinci Eye award in the same contest that is awarded to the book with the most outstanding cover.

What authors most inspire you?

Tough question! I read a lot when I was younger – guess I still do, so it’s hard to pick out the authors that have inspired me the most. Guess I would pick John D. MacDonald, Rex Stout, and maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

What is your most rewarding writing experience?

Getting emails from people I don’t know who say they have just finished one of my books and have really enjoyed it. I’ve gotten comments from India, Australia, and Canada, in addition to those from here in the USA. I have also found it very rewarding to have met other authors and people involved in the writing world.

Where and when do you write? Do you create a certain environment for writing, i.e., certain music playing, favorite chair, etc.?

I like to go out to a coffee shop and write. It gets me away from everything, and I seem to be able to focus better despite the crowds or noise around me. I do most of my rewriting at home where I have a large desk in our master bedroom. I don’t put on any music, nor do I create any special environment to help me in my writing. I enjoy writing and find it easy to dedicate time to do it.

Are you working on a new project?

I wrote a short novel with the assistance of my twelve-year-old granddaughter. It’s a fantasy targeting middle grade readers and should be out late summer. Currently, I’m working on an international thriller that will not be part of my Jim West series. Hopefully, that book will be available by the end of the year. I do plan to write more books in the Jim West series, but not this year.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I like feedback and would encourage any of your readers who happen to read one of my books to kindly let me know what they think. I also want to thank you, John, for having me on your blog.

You’re welcome, Bob. Thanks for sharing your background and writing career with my readers, and good luck in all your future writing endeavors.

Police Week

If you have not had the chance to attend any of the ceremonies at the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., you have missed out on meeting a superb group of individuals. The Candlelight Ceremony in particular is moving and profound, as tribute is paid to our fallen heroes and their families. My article this month on relates to the Memorial and the heroes who have given all. Please take a moment to read it: “Why I Became A Cop.”National_Law_Enforcement_Officers_Memorial_Lion

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