Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Denver Workshop - ATF

I’m back from Denver. Met up with friends attended workshops and had fun. The first workshop was with the ATF, which is the Bureau Alcohol, Tobacco firearms and Explosives.  They come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.  It was an all day workshop and we had seven different members of the ATF speak to us and answer questions during the day. It was a very educational day.
The agents who presented during the day were with the Denver office.  The Denver Field Division covers large area which includes Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. According to the speakers, Wyoming has the lowest crime rate after Rhode Island. Utah has the highest crime rate, especially in the Salt Lake City area.
The first speaker was Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Debbie Livingston. The training academy is is S. Georgia. Training takes seven months and includes 100 hours of firearms training, including low-light shooting. They also train in arson, explosives, understanding fire dynamics, breaching doors, etc. The physical training includes push-ups, sit-ups, pool swimming and rope climbing as well as documentation in law, like writing subpoenas. They don’t hire people over 37 years of age except for some exceptions, such as persons with military or law enforcement backgrounds. Physical fitness testing isn’t required after hiring and training. It’s voluntary but comes with a one hundred dollar incentive. (But most of the speakers look in very good condition) Everyone must score 80% in all areas to pass.

That’s a quick introduction to the ATF. There’s more to come. Check back for more info, including accelerant and explosive sniffing dogs.  

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Meet Robb White and Dangerous Women

Under the names Terry White, Robert White, and Robb T. White, Robert White has published dozens of crime, noir, and hardboiled short stories, and three hardboiled private-eye novels. A lifelong reader of crime fiction, he published his first story in Gary Lovisi's Hardboiled magazine. Since then, he has published several dozen crime stories, and a collection of mainstream stories in 2013. An ebook crime novel, "Special Collections," won the New Rivers Electronic Book Competition in 2014.
White was born, raised, and continues to live in Ashtabula, Ohio. Blurb: Weaker sex? Not hardly! The female is definitely deadlier than the mail. Short stories about ladies who can hold their own. 

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why? 
Robb: I would have to say crime fiction, but I have a stronger impulse toward noir (I beg you not to ask me to define that term). I started with a hardboiled private-eye series, which I still intend to continue, but I’m much less inclined toward plots with raw violence as in my reckless youth (mid-forties, that). 
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer? 
Robb: I’m still reluctant to call myself a writer and writing fiction something other than a passionate hobby. I think years of reading literature, not the kind I write, but serious books must have laid the groundwork somewhere back there. I’m content with carving out my own little niche in pulp fiction without pretensions to being a “real” writer. 
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing? 
Robb: I would love to know the answer to that because those long, irritating interludes of wanting to write, having the time to write, but being unable to write because the mind won’t cooperate is the most frustrating thing about it. 
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why? 
Robb: I could never replace Daffy Duck in my heart. He tries so hard and wants to win, and yet he fails every time because of his character flaws. Yet he comes back for more and somehow manages to find another excuse to get back into the fray as if the ending won’t be the same. 
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet in person and why?
Robb: Of real, living people no one. People always disappoint. Of the fictional dead, a tossup between Dostoevsky’s Svidrigaelov and Camus’ narrator in The Stranger. The former because he’s a charming sociopath, and I’ve never met one up close; the latter because his evolution in the second half of the novel into an existentialist calm, a joy, although he’s facing his own execution, is one of the great feats of modern literature and breath-taking to experience (vicariously, of course). 
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it? 
Robb: Being retired, I treat every day as “free,” barring the quotidian tasks of living, and I still savor each day’s gift despite the fact my retirement is now three years old. It took a long time and many jobs, some lousy, a couple good, to get to this point. I’m too much of a recluse to do anything special. Besides the forays into writing, gardening, tackling fix-it jobs around the house, reading in my backyard hammock, I have all I need to keep me content. 
Beverley: What are you working on now? 
Robb: I’m working on the outline to a sequel to my latest hardboiled novel, Northtown Eclipse, just published yesterday. Unlike Thomas Haftmann, my first series detective and a throwback to Chandler’s wisecracking Marlowe, Ray Jarvi is half-intimidated by the world and its capacity to betray dreams; he’s out of his depth all too soon and very much aware of it, but like Daffy, I suppose, he won’t quit or back down until he knows the truth. 

Excerpt from Dangerous Women: 
     Be careful what you wish for, Regina.
     Her mother’s words. Sometimes she could hear her mother’s voice in the house.
     The Vindicator piece on Bodycomb’s death was two paragraphs.
     He was found floating in Lake Milton, a popular summer resort area for fisherman seventeen miles east of Austintown just off the Interstate 80 overpass. Shot by a small-caliber weapon in the back of the head. The important information was in the second paragraph: Bodycomb, it noted, was running a dog-fighting network among three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia for a loose-knit West Virginia crime family connected to the Pittsburgh LaRizzo family.
     Damn you, Leo.
     She was blowing through caution lights, ignoring the honking of cars, as she beelined for the office on Market.
     Like a script from a cheap thriller, he was there, wearing the same clothes and unshaven, big jowls dark with stubble, pong of body odor in the overheated single room.
     “You promised me full disclosure, total honesty,” she said.
     She threw the paper across his desk.
      “Here it is in case you missed it.”
     Be calm, Regina, she told herself. She wasn’t going to lose her temper and a new job in that order.
     “I did and I meant it, Baby,” Leo said.
     He glanced at the paper sideways and pushed it back to her. He’d obviously read it.
     “You asked me—no, you demanded I call somebody. I did,” he said.
     He disgusted her with those wagging jowls and big stomach. She noticed his belt was undone and a patch of curly belly hair exposed.
     Probably jerking off in here, the freak.
     “I suppose you’ll tell me when the mood strikes.”
     “I meant the second case—your next case,” Leo said. “Full disclosure, just like you want.”
Her indignation petered out at the prospect. “So tell me about it,” she said.
Bodycomb was moving in on Donnie Bracca’s territory with his dog-fighting, Leo said.
“He can kill all the dogs he wants in West Virginia,” Leo said. “But Donnie B. controls gambling around here.”
“Donnie Bracca was your real client all the time,” Baby said.
“It’s like this, kid. They don’t blow each other up in cars no more. Gentlemen’s agreements, all nice and polite. But rules have to be followed. Bodycomb went rogue.”
She bit back a retort: You mean, like your own father?
Leo went on, waxing large, a hopeless Mafioso lover, although a real mafia man, a made man, could see Leo couldn’t be trusted. But even the Aryan Brotherhood used outside associates to get things done. Leo could be useful if you couldn’t buy a cop or scare off an investigative reporter snooping in shady politics or business deals.
She didn’t feel bad about Bodycomb’s death. After all, she'd wanted to kill the guy herself.
“Damn it, Leo,” she said. “You should have told me this in the beginning.”Baby moved in the direction Bodycomb’s vehicle had taken. After A couple of hundred yards through meadow grass up to her knees, she stopped and listened. Moving on, she dodged stunted bushes that popped up out of nowhere to snag her clothing. The foliage grew less dense. She found the parallel ruts of the Road Runner’s tracks and kept moving, straining her eyes to see light ahead. If Bodycomb was hiding assets from his soon-to-be ex-wife, he was taking a lot of trouble over it.
After five minutes of faster walking in the grooves, she heard barking coming from the right. She saw the first glimmer of light in the distance. The terrain was sparse but small slopes refracted the light source so it appeared and disappeared with every rise of the ground. A single dog barking became two, then three and finally a pack. Beneath their howls, men’s voices.
When she got close enough to make out words, she lay flat on her belly and put the binoculars on a cluster of men beside a ramshackle barn surrounded by cages of dogs in the beds of trucks beside a squared string of light bulbs a dozen feet from the ground. It looked like a crude boxing ring for backyard brawlers.
Its purpose became clear in the next few minutes. It was a dog-fighting pit.

Buy Link for Dangerous Women:

Off to Denver

Off to Denver

I’m heading off to Denver.  I probably won’t be blogging next week. If I get a chance I’ll try and update you on how the conference is going.
When I get back I hope to have a few pictures to share and lots of information on what’s going on in publishing and especially indie publishing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I'm Going to Denver

This week is a little hectic. I’m getting ready to head to Denver for the RWA National Conference.

It will be a busy week, but I get to meet up with old friends and make some new ones, plus, hopefully, I will learn something to improve my writing or my marketing. If I do, I’ll share with you when I get home.
Tuesday my online chapter, Kiss of Death is presenting a workshop. The Denver Field Office of the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) will be sending Special Agents knowledgeable in many of their areas to the workshop. We’ll be able to ask lots of questions, especially related to our WIP’s. Just some of the areas they will cover are criminal profiling, firearms and ammunition technology, explosives, firearms trafficking, financial investigative services and the K-9 program.

Wednesday we have a board meeting and our awards ceremony, Death by Chocolate. And yes we have so much chocolate. We also have many pubbed authors, editors and agents attend.
Thursday the RWA workshops begin. About two years ago they finally recognized Indie authors and started to provide some workshops for them. They have some interesting ones this year, besides the building characters and basic writing tips here are a few that I’m looking at, from where I am in my career. I’ve done very little advertising or promoting so that’s one of my aims to learn more about that. Make Your Ads More Effective, A Walkthrough of How to Set Up a Facebook Ad, a BookBub Ad and an AMS Ad Speaker: Mark Dawson, Grow Your Global Sales with Kobo,  and Making Good Money in Self-Publishing. There are a few others that interest me, Conflict Is Key, Because You Said So! Creating Your World for Series Success and since I write westerns, There's Something about a Cowboy.

If anyone has any particular topic they have a question about, let me know and I’ll see what I can find out.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Check Out Sherry Derr-Wille and Mistaken Identity

Sherry Derr-Wille lives in a mid-sized Southern Wisconsin with her husband of 46 years, Bob, whom she deems a saint for putting up with a crazy writer.
With three children, seven grandchildren, more book signings than she can sometimes handle, she puts out four to five books a year and loves writing in her hot pink office.

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write?
Sherry: WOW! That’s a loaded question. I love writing Time Travel, Historical, Native American, Futuristic, Murder Mysteries, Crime, Older Heroines, in other words, everything I write.
And why?
I love what I write when I’m writing it. I don’t write what people tell me to write I write what I want to write.
Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?
Sherry: My Sophomore English teacher in high school, Earl Brockman. On the first day of class, he gave us a test. If you got an ‘A’ you could sit in the back of the room and write for a year. I wanted that ‘A’ and got it. 45 years later I learned I was the only one who liked the assignment and since no one ever told me to stop the assignment, the rest is history.
Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?
Sherry: I used to try to write 1,000 words a day, but I’m getting older and I have to be in the mood. Unfortunately, last year my muse went on vacation to the South Pacific for over a year and didn’t even send me a post card. Guess she didn’t want to have to deal with the cancer I was going through. Just recently she came back and I’ve been averaging about 6K a week.
Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character?
Sherry: I’m old school. I love Buggs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.
They are the cartoons I grew up with. Back in those days they were the cartoons they showed in the theatres. They weren’t on TV until much later. Add to that is the fact we didn’t get TV until I was already in grade school and they didn’t show many cartoons at that time.
Beverley: Who would you love most to meet 'in person' and why?
Sherry: Sandra Hill – I love her Vikings and time travel books.
Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?
Sherry: I have a lot of free days because I’m retired. I love spending my time with an author I mentor, friends from high school and grade school, or just meeting new authors and talking about writing.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Sherry: The working title is The Return of the Ancients. It’s based on the ancient alien theory. In this book, people come from outer space to 3 planets where they helped civilizations to begin. 1/3 of the population went to Seros, 1/3 to Earth, and 1/3 to Nalo. Ragnar goes to Seros, leaving the woman he loves as she, Nina, goes to Earth. The book follows Nina and Ragnar as they build new lives, but since all communication with the contingency to Nalo is nonexistent, both parties assume they have become lost and never made it to Nalo.
I can see that the end is in sight on this one, but last year when my muse went on her little trip, I left my poor little aliens in the Santa Fe airport from March of 2017 until just recently. I love my characters and can hardly wait to see where they take me next.
Blurb for Mistaken Identity:
Katelyn Devereaux needs a vacation. More than a vacation, she needs to put Denver behind her as well as the man who wants her as his wife and the birth family who is insisting on finding her.
Seth Miller knows the reason that he mistook Katelyn for Genean is his knowledge that his best friend’s wife was adopted by strangers at birth. Of course he can’t change the facts that Genean and Katelyn are sisters, especially after he learns that the company she wants to visit in Wisconsin is owned by Genean’s brother, Randy, and her husband, Brad.
Excerpt for Mistaken Identity :
Sunlight shimmered across the lake and it glistened as though it had been scattered with diamonds. As she stood there in awe, taking in the beauty from the cottage, the dock invited her into the picture of beauty. Taking her sketch pad and pencil with her, Katelyn Devereaux walked across the lawn and sandy beach until she reached the pier. Settling into the deck chair, she gazed out across the water.
It was such a beautiful morning. She was so glad she’d taken the advice of her friends and accompanied Suzie Branch to this secluded Wisconsin lake. She certainly needed a vacation and could think of no place more relaxing than this quaint cottage hidden away in a different world.
In the distance a loon called to its mate, waited for a few moments for a reply and called again. This was the kind of peaceful exchange she had not taken the time to listen for in months. She knew nature was all around her back home, but there never seemed to be time to sit and listen for it. In Denver she was nothing more than a machine pumping out sketches for her clients, and on occasion, playing the gracious hostess for Martin.
No, I don’t want to think of the daily grind of running the Devereaux Agency, nor Martin Collier’s marriage proposal. I need this time to figure out just who Katelyn Devereaux really is.
Katelyn turned away from the peaceful scene before her. Why can’t my life be this peaceful?
You know why, Katie. The sound of her father’s voice within her head caused a tear to escape from the corner of her eyes. She’d lost both of her parents at Thanksgiving and never really gotten over their deaths. The only thing that kept her from going completely over the edge was work, work and more work.
I don’t think I can do this, Daddy. I don’t love Martin. I haven’t even given him an answer concerning his proposal. Maybe I’m not cut out for the wife thing. Even if I did marry Martin, I wouldn’t be a wife, not in the conventional way. With him gone so much, life as his wife would be no different than life by myself.
    Katelyn’s thoughts came as a shock. Never before had she admitted her true feeling for Martin. More than anything else in the world, she wanted to be a little girl again without all the problems of being a responsible adult. Back home in Denver, her life had become too complicated to allow her to rest. For the past eight months she’d been running the Devereaux Advertising Agency, and then there was Martin Collier’s marriage proposal. The fact she had just learned of the fact she was adopted, only added to the crazy quilt her life had become over the past few months. Perhaps if her parents had told her the truth the shock wouldn’t have been so profound but they hadn’t. She’d learned of her adoption only days after their funeral.

Buy Links for Mistaken Identity:
Publisher’s website:
Barnes & Noble:

Monday, July 2, 2018

Self-Editing Tips

I finished the damn book.  And it’s off to the editor.

I thought I’d finished weeks ago, but kept going back and making changes and reading it over and over. Every time I’d find something new. Here are some of the self-editing I did in no particular order.

I had a couple of names that were very similar. It could be confusing to the reader so I went back and changed them. Thank heavens for find and replace.
I also used find and replace for those lovely words like - as – just and - the ings.

I cut and moved sections so the book flowed better and it fit the timeline.
I checked for spelling, both with spell check but also by reading it through.

I checked for grammar and punctuation. My grammar is good (I think) but my punctuation is my weak point. And I find Word and I sometimes disagreed on what I thought it should be.  We’ll see what the editor says.
I made notes and went back to check eye color stayed the same for each character, if one man drank scotch and the other whisky, I made notes and made sure it stayed the same through the book.

I went back and read each person’s journey to make sure it made sense and I made sure the conflicts between the characters was resolved by the end.
And I’m listening to the reading of the book. People have suggested three different methods of doing this. I’m going to try all three and see which works best for me.  The ones recommend were Autocrit, Wordpress and Office 365.

I’d love to hear what other people check for when they self-edit.