Thursday, March 31, 2011

Domestic Terrorism and Writers

By Mark Young
Hate crimes and domestic terrorism investigations came to my mind  recently from two different sources— an arrest of a man accused of planting a bomb during a Martin Luther King Day celebration near my home and a recent airing of the television series Justified. That’s right—my mind works in strange ways. Just bear with me for a moment.

The first case involved a 36-years-old man recently arrested at his home and charged with planting a bomb along the route of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane, Washington. Fortunately, the bomb failed to go off and an alert city worker informed the police before anyone was injured.

Earlier, I watched a segment of the Justified television series—the story of a U.S. Marshal disciplinarily sent back to his home state in Kentucky to work after killing a Miami fugitive in a justified shooting. One scene shows a heavily tattooed man in the bar talking to another parolee. The tattoos reminded me of  some of the Aryan knuckleheads we investigated in our organized crime unit, gangs perpetuating domestic terrorism.

I thought about how hard some mystery writers work to conjure up criminally-bent characters for their novels, trying to create an outlaw that has some resemblance of reality. Writers: I want to make your job a little easier. I know you might use any number of sources to create your own conflict-bent antagonist, but I wondered if you have thought of one of the easiest sources.

The FBI.

A few years ago as an organized crime investigator, sine of the web sites I regularly visited were the FBI's most wanted lists—Ten Most Wanted, Most Wanted Terrorists, and Domestic Terrorism, to name just a few. International manhunts for terrorists—like Usama Bin Laden who orchestrated the 9/11 tragedy; or Ayman Al-Zawahir for his alleged part in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nariobi, Kenya—often overshadow our own national manhunts for  homegrown domestic terrorists.

These domestic terrorists are great sources of information for character development and plot ideas. Each face posted on this list always seems to carry a fascinating story. I thought I pass on the lastest list of home-grown terrorists to help you conjure up some ideas for your next bad guy. Save a few brain cells and let the FBI create these scenarios for you. Just make sure you change the names and the specifics, unless you’re thinking of writing a non-fiction crime story like In Cold Blood Here is the current Domestic Terrorism list, compliments of the FBI:

Act of Terrorism - Domestic Terrorism; Unlawful Flight to Avoid Confinement - Murder
REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1,000,000 for information directly leading to the apprehension of Joanne Chesimard

Joanne Chesimard is wanted for escaping from prison in Clinton, New Jersey, while serving a life sentence for murder. On May 2, 1973, Chesimard, who was part of a revolutionary activist organization known as the Black Liberation Army, and two accomplices were stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two troopers with the New Jersey State Police. At the time, Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery. Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers, seemingly without provocation. One trooper was wounded and the other was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range. Chesimard fled the scene, but was subsequently apprehended. One of her accomplices was killed in the shoot-out and the other was also apprehended and remains in jail.
In 1977, Chesimard was found guilty of first degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon, and armed robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison.
On November 2, 1979, Chesimard escaped from prison and lived underground before being located in Cuba in 1984. She is thought to currently still be living in Cuba.
Chesimard may be living in Cuba. She may wear her hair in a variety of styles and dress in African tribal 


Conspiracy to Commit Arson; Arson of a Government Building; Arson of Property Used in Interstate Commerce; Use and Carrying of a Destructive Device During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence...
REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Justin Franchi Solondz

Justin Franchi Solondz is wanted on multiple charges related to his alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. On May 21, 2001, the University of Washington, Center for Urban Horticulture, in Seattle, Washington, was destroyed by fire during the early morning hours. At the same time, in Clatskanie, Oregon, several buildings and vehicles were also destroyed by fire. Fire investigators determined that both fires were the result of arson by use of timed improvised incendiary devices. Shortly thereafter, a communication was released stating that both fires were committed by members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). The combined loss from these two arsons totaled over five million dollars.
On October 15, 2001, an arson and attempted animal release took place at the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Corral in Susanville, California. Investigators found multiple improvised incendiary devices at the crime scene. This arson was claimed to have been committed by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The damages from this arson were estimated to be eighty five thousand dollars.

On April 6, 2006, and May 17, 2006, federal grand juries in Sacramento, California, and Seattle, Washington (respectively) indicted Solondz on the following domestic terrorism related charges: Conspiracy to Commit Arson; Arson of a Government Building; Arson of Property Used in Interstate Commerce; Use and Carrying of a Destructive Device During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence; and Making Unregistered Destructive Devices.
Solondz may be traveling in Canada, Europe or Asia. 

Conspiracy to Commit Arson of United States Government Property And Of Property Used in Interstate Commerce; Conspiracy To Destroy An Energy Facility; Arson Of A Building; Attempted Arson Of A Building

REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Rebecca J. 

On January 19, 2006, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Rebecca J. Rubin on multiple charges related to her alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. Rubin was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents and two counts of arson. These crimes occurred in Oregon and date back to 1997. Many of the crimes she is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Rubin may have returned to Canada in 2005. She may have light facial hair


Conspiracy to Commit Arson of United States Government Property and of Property Used in Interstate Commerce; Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Destruction of an Energy Facility; Attempted Arson of a Building; Arson…

REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Josephine Sunshine Overaker.

On January 19, 2006, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Josephine Sunshine Overaker on multiple charges related to her alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. Overaker was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents, five counts of arson, one count of attempted arson, and one count of destruction of an energy facility. These crimes occurred in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Wyoming, and date back to 1996. Many of the crimes she is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Overaker is fluent in Spanish. She is known to use illegal narcotics. Overaker may have a light facial moustache. She was a vegan and may still be. Overaker is an American citizen.


Unlawful Possession of United States Identification; Conspiracy; Unlawful Storage of Explosives; Unlawful Possession of Firearms and Destructive Devices; Storage and Concealment of Stolen Explosives; Unlawful Possession of Five or More False Identification... 

REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading directly to the arrest and conviction of Elizabeth Anna Duke.

Elizabeth Anna Duke is wanted for her alleged involvement in a series of criminal activities during the late 1970's and early 1980's. She was allegedly a member of the radical group known as the May 19th Communist Organization which advocated communism and the violent overthrow of the United States Government. Duke was arrested in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in May of 1985 for her alleged participation in this group, but was released on bail. She later fled the jurisdiction and has been a fugitive since October of 1985. A federal arrest warrant was issued for Duke in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on November 13, 1986, charging her with the aforementioned federal charges.
Duke is known to speak fluent Spanish. She has ties to Texas and is known to travel in the northern United States.

Conspiracy to Commit Arson of United States Government Property and of Property Used in Interstate Commerce; Conspiracy to Commit Arson and Destruction of an Energy Facility; Arson of a Building

REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of Joseph Mahmoud Dibee.

On January 19, 2006, a federal grand jury in Eugene, Oregon, indicted Joseph Mahmoud Dibee on multiple charges related to his alleged role in a domestic terrorism cell. Dibee was charged with two conspiracy violations related to seventeen incidents and one count of arson. These crimes occurred in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado, and Wyoming, and date back to 1996. Many of the crimes he is accused of participating in were claimed to be committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) or the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Dibee may have fled to Syria


Bank Robbery; Aggravated Robbery; Conspiracy to Interfere With Commerce By Robbery; Theft From Interstate Shipment; Foreign and Interstate Transportation of Stolen Money

Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio is allegedly a member of a clandestine Puerto Rican terrorist group which has claimed responsibility for armed robberies and terrorist bombings. A federal arrest warrant was issued on August 23, 1985, in Hartford, Connecticut, charging Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio with obstruction of commerce by robbery and conspiracy. Another federal arrest warrant was issued on March 21, 1986, in New Haven, Connecticut, charging Gonzalez-Claudio with bank robbery, aggravated robbery, theft from interstate shipment, foreign and interstate transportation of stolen money, and conspiracy to interfere with co


Sabotage; Destruction of Government Property; Conspiracy
REWARD: The FBI is offering a $150,000 for information leading to the arrest of Leo Frederick Burt.

Leo Frederick Burt is wanted for allegedly participating in the bombing of Sterling Hall, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, on August 24, 1970. The blast from the explosion, combined with the fire, resulted in the death of a 33-year-old researcher. Additionally, there were several injuries reported and an estimated $6 million damage to the building and its contents. Reportedly, explosives had been placed in a stolen panel truck, located three blocks from the building, just several days before the blast. Also, a light-colored, late-model vehicle (Corvair) was seen leaving the vicinity of the bombing, and Burt was identified as being in the car.
On September 2, 1970, Leo Burt was indicted federally in Madison, Wisconsin. He was charged with sabotage, destruction of government property, and conspiracy.
Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution - Assault on a Police Officer

Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth is wanted for his alleged involvement in attacks on law enforcement officials in California, including the August 29, 1971, attack on San Francisco's Ingleside Police Station in which a Police Sergeant was shot and killed. Law enforcement investigation determined that this act of violence was committed by members of an extremist group known as the Black Liberation Army (BLA). The BLA had undertaken a series of attacks on police targets consisting of shootings, bombings, and attempted bombings beginning in the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s. These attacks resulted in the deaths of several police officers around the nation.

Bridgeforth was alleged to be a member of the BLA and was detained on November 5, 1968, in South San Francisco after attempting to purchase merchandise with a stolen credit card. During questioning, Bridgeforth pulled out a revolver and fled the area. A pursuit ensued, followed by a gun battle in which Bridgeforth was wounded. He was taken into custody and charged with attempt to kill a public official and assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon. He pled guilty to these charges and was ordered to appear in court for sentencing on April 11, 1969. Bridgeforth failed to appear for sentencing and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. A federal arrest warrant was issued in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco, California, on June 18, 2004, charging Bridgeforth with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Additionally, on January 18, 2007, California state arrest warrants were issued for Bridgeforth charging him with murder and conspiracy to murder police officers based on the multiple attacks/murders and bank robberies committed by the BLA, and in connection with the 1971 attack on the Ingleside Police Station allegedly committed by Bridgeforth and other members of the BLA.
Bridgeforth may be traveling with his common-law wife, Julie Ann Small, who is not a fugitive from the law. Bridgeforth is balding and wore eyeglasses or contact lenses. He has been known to travel internationally, including Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Ghana, Tanzania, France, Belize, and Zimbabwe.

See what I mean. Now—go forth and write a great novel.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ebooks and Self-Publishing - A Dialog Between Authors Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath

Editor's Note: Would you turn down $500K and a two-book deal with a major publisher and self-publish these books yourself? Well, one NYT bestselling author made such a choice. In an unusual move, I have linked today's post to an article that appeared on A NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING last Saturday as NYT bestselling author Barry Eisler and self-publishing advocate Joe Konrath  discuss this decision and the reasons behind it. Part of the interview appears here, with a link back to the rest of the article. This article helps authors and readers learn about what is happening in the publishing industry today. (Warning: A little profanity slips through in their excitement).

This is a live Google docs discussion. It examines the history and mechanics of the publishing industry as it exists today, analyzes the way the digital revolution reflects recent events in Egypt and the Maghreb, and considers a completely inappropriate YouTube video featuring a randy monkey and an unlucky frog. It clocks in at 13,000 words, and reveals some pretty startling things.
We encourage everyone reading the conversation to comment, and to tweet and otherwise link to it. You also have our permission to copy all or any part of it, provided you link back.
If you'd prefer to read this on your ereader, you can download various versions for free here. This zip file (you need WinZip to open it; a free trial is here) contains doc, pdf, epub, and mobi formats, so it can be uploaded to Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, Kobos, and pretty much any other device.
You can also go to Smashwords and get various formats for free, or to Amazon or B&N to get those formats for 99 cents (they wouldn't allow us to post for free.) It's also posted in full on Barry's blog.
Our goal is to get this information out there, because it benefits authors and could theoretically make legacy publishers smarter. Please help us spread the word. Thanks.

And I almost forgot. This recent blog post of mine where I mentioned my anonymous friend? It was Barry.

Joe: To the casual observer, you appear to be heavily invested in the legacy publishing system. They’ve been good to you, they helped you get onto the NYT bestseller list, made you wealthy with several large deals, and seem to have treated you fairly.
Barry: Well, I don’t know about wealthy, but I’ve been making a living writing novels for almost a decade now, which is a pretty great way to live.
Joe: You had six-figure and seven-figure deals. Logic dictates anyone offered a deal like that should leap at it.
Barry: You wouldn’t.
Joe: But I never had the treatment you had from legacy publishers. I would walk away from a big deal now, most certainly, because I have two years of data proving I can do better on my own.
However, what if a NYT bestseller were offered, say, half a million dollars for two books?
Or, more specifically, let's say you were offered that.
You'd take it. Right?
Barry: Well, I guess not... ;)
Joe: So... no BS... you were just offered half a mil, and you turned it down?
Barry: Yes.
Joe: Holy shit!
Barry: I know it’ll seem crazy to a lot of people, but based on what’s happening in the industry, and based on the kind of experience writers like you are having in self-publishing, I think I can do better in the long term on my own.
Joe: Holy shit!
Sorry. That needed to be said twice.
Barry: It’s okay, I like when you talk dirty.
We are living in remarkable times, aren’t we?
Joe: Indeed. "Barry Eisler Walks Away From $500,000 Deal to Self-Pub" is going to be one for the Twitter Hall of Fame.
Barry: Here’s something that happened about a year ago. Anecdotal, but still telling, I think. My wife and daughter and I were sitting around the dinner table, talking about what kind of contract I would do next, and with what publisher. And my then eleven-year-old daughter said, “Daddy, why don’t you just self-publish?”
And I thought, wow, no one would have said something like that even a year ago. I mean, it used to be that self-publishing was what you did if you couldn’t get a traditional deal. And if you were really, really lucky, maybe the self-published route would lead to a real contract with a real publisher.
But I realized from that one innocent comment from my daughter that the new generation was looking at self-publishing differently. And that the question--“Should I self-publish?”--was going to be asked by more and more authors going forward. And that, over time, more and more of them were going to be answering the question, “Yes.”

This is exactly what’s happening now. I’m not the first example, though I might be a noteworthy one because of the numbers I’m walking away from. But there will be others, more and more of them.

Joe: Over a year ago, you wrote a Huffington Post blog called Paper Earthworks, Digital Tides. You basically predicted that digital would become the preferred reading format...
Barry: You’re being kind to me--you predicted that switch way before I caught on to it. In that blog post, I was more building on what I’ve learned from you. But my general point was that digital was going to become more and more attractive relative to paper. First, because the price of digital readers would continue to drop while the functionality would continue to increase; second, because more and more titles would become available for digital download at the same time more brick and mortar stores were closing. In other words, everything about paper represented a static defense, while everything about digital represented a dynamic offense. Not hard to predict how a battle like that is going to end.
Apple sold 15 million iPads in 2010, and the iPad2 just went on sale. And Amazon sold eight million Kindle books in 2010--more digital books, in fact, than paperbacks. Meanwhile, Borders is shuttering 224 stores. So I think it’s safe to say the trends I just mentioned are continuing. And the trends reinforce each other: the Borders in your neighborhood closes, so you try a low-priced digital reader, and you love the lower cost of digital books, the immediate delivery, the adjustable font, etc... and you never go back to paper. The reverse isn’t happening: people aren’t leaving digital for paper. There’s a ratchet effect in favor of digital.
Joe: In the history of technology, when people begin to embrace the new media tech, it winds up dominating the marketplace. CDs over vinyl and tapes, DVD over VHS. The Internet over newspapers. Even Priceline over travel agents--
Barry: Yes! Sorry to interrupt, but this is something that interests me so much. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard saying, “But paper isn’t going to disappear.” That isn’t the point! If you ask the wrong question, the right answer to that question isn’t going to help you. So the question isn’t, “Will paper disappear?” Of course it won’t, but that’s not what matters. What matters is that paper is being marginalized. Did firearms eliminate the bow and arrow? No--some enthusiasts still hunt with a bow. Did the automobile eliminate the horse and buggy? No--I can still get a buggy ride around Central Park if I want.
Now, some new technologies really have completely displaced their forebears. For example, there’s no such thing as eight-track tape anymore. And yet some people still do listen to their music on vinyl, despite the advent of mp3 technology. The question, then, is what advantages does the previous technology retain over the new technology? If the answer is “none,” then the previous technology will become extinct, like eight-track. If the answer is “some,” then the question is, how big a market will the old technology continue to command based on those advantages?
Joe: You’re talking about niche markets.
Barry: Exactly.
Joe: We’ve discussed this before. Paper won’t disappear, but that’s not the point. The point is, paper will become a niche while digital will become the norm.
Barry: Agreed. Lots of people, and I’m one of them, love the way a book feels. I used to like the way books smelled, too, before publishers started using cheap paper. And you can see books on your shelf, etc... those are real advantages, but they’re only niche advantages. Think candles vs electric lights. There are still people making a living today selling candles, and that’s because there’s nothing like candlelight--but what matters is that the advent of the electric light changed the candle business into a niche. Originally, candlemakers were in the lighting business; today, they’re in the candlelight business. The latter is tiny by comparison to the former. Similarly, today publishers are in the book business; tomorrow, they’ll be in the paper book business. The difference is the difference between a mass market and a niche.
Joe: I also love print books. I have 5000 of them. But print is just a delivery system. It gets a story from the writer to the reader. For centuries, publishers controlled this system, because they did the printing, and they were plugged into distribution. But with retailers like Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords, the story can get to the reader in a faster, cheaper way.
And publishers aren't needed.
Do you think publishers are aware of that?
Barry: I think they’re extremely aware of it, but they don’t understand what it really means.
Joe: I believe they've gotten their business model mixed-up. They should be connecting readers with the written word. Instead, they're insisting on selling paper.
Barry: Yes. There’s a saying about the railroads: they thought they were in the railroad business, when in fact they were in the transportation business. So when the interstate highway system was built and trucking became an alternative, they were hit hard.
Likewise, publishers have naturally conflated the specifics of their business model with the generalities of the industry they’re in. As you say, they’re not in the business of delivering books by paper--they’re in the business of delivering books. And if someone can do the latter faster and cheaper than they can, they’re in trouble.

For the entire article click on this link to A NEWBIE"S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ex-FBI agent and Chicago Cop: Are You A Writer?

By John M. Wills
Editor’s Note: Today’s guest blogger is a man of many talents and experiences. John M. Wills is a retired FBI agent and former Chicago police officer with military experience. He is also a writer—a subject John shares with us today. In short, he writes from experience. Mystery writers: Tuck away information about this guy as you slog your way through another crime mystery manuscript.You may need his help someday to make your cop character emerge as more than a comic-strip figure, or need a law enforcement scene to read like the real thing.

I’m a writer. I finally feel comfortable saying that in response to people who ask me what I do. It wasn’t always that way, and I would venture to say that many of us who write may be reluctant to describe ourselves as such. Why? My sense is that there is no clear definition of a writer, no bright line of delineation that marks the point when one may claim the title of writer.

If you’re expecting me to make clear the ambiguities as to when one becomes a writer, let me disabuse you of that notion immediately. I don’t know the answer. I do know that there are many questions from not only ourselves, but from others, as to what makes someone a writer. Is it when one is paid for a particular work? Or is it perhaps, when one becomes published, regardless of whether compensation has been received? Again, I don’t know.

I tend to think that being a writer is a state of mind. Sure, there are those who write for a living—technical writers, columnists (I’ve written monthly articles for since 2004), freelance writers who are published in magazines and online. But what about so many others who write and perhaps are never paid or published? Are they writers? I would say yes, they most certainly are. They create works of art, just as an artist who paints and never sells one painting is still considered an artist.

Being a writer is a persona one creates. Certainly, someone who has been writing since childhood is a writer. He has probably shared his poetry or prose with family members and friends. He becomes known as “the writer in the family,” or “my friend, the writer.” Writing doesn’t necessarily have to be your career, but it must be your passion.

I write fiction, thrillers, to be more precise. The third book in a series I created, The Chicago Warriors™ Thriller Series, is called TARGETED; it will be released April 6th. My ability to write convincingly about police work is a product of my thirty-three years in law enforcement. Working the streets as both a Chicago cop and FBI agent, allowed me to draw from experience and not have to invent characters and situations. It’s a perfect example of having not only talked the talk, but having walked the walk.

As with the first two books in the series, TARGETED contains plenty of action but it also has its share of emotion. On more than one occasion while I was writing this series, I had to take a break. My characters had become real to me, so much so that when I was forced to cause them pain and anguish, or even have one killed, it affected me emotionally. Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” He’s absolutely correct. I found myself grabbing for tissues as I wrote, indeed, even as I did rewrites, the words on the page brought me to tears.

Perhaps I’ve turned into a softy in my later years, but some of my readers have told me that they’ve had the same reaction—they’ve had tears in their eyes as they read some of my work. Priceless.

Writing has been cathartic for me. I’ve been able to work through some of the darkest moments from my past and come to terms with them through my characters. My experiences in life, both good and bad, have allowed me to create interesting characters and stories. I’m reminded of a quote from Ernest Hemingway: “In order to write about life, first you must live it.” Good writers are those who write from experience, and those of us who have experienced long, full lives will have much to share.

My novels are full of suspense, it’s an element that makes the reader want to continue to read and not stop simply because the hour is late. Suspense can be included in any genre; it ramps up the readers’ interest. So how does one create suspense? Last summer, I attended a writers conference in which this element was discussed on at least two panels. On one of those panels, Simon Wood, a well-known author, provided some simple guidelines.

Give the reader a lofty viewpoint. Provide your audience with both points of view: protagonist and antagonist.

Use time constraints. Time should favor the bad guy, while the clock works against the protagonist.

Consequences or high stakes. Some dire consequence must be the outcome, one that will devastate the hero.

Creating dilemmas. Constant challenges laid down in front of the hero, causing him to make tough decisions and costing time to solve.

Unpredictability. The protagonist should be unable to solve every problem he faces.

These are some of the elements that go into the mix of creating a story with suspense. And, if you're able to pull it off, using first person POV will allow your reader to get inside the heads of your hero and bad guy.

Another key element that adds to the value of suspense is authenticity. I can’t tell you how often I’ve paused while reading an otherwise good mystery or thriller, to question a term or technique. As a writer you must strive to ensure your terminology, lexicon, vernacular is/are correct. Example: writers who are describing a scene with a pistol (not a revolver) and write the word “clip,” rather than the proper term—magazine. Anyone familiar with firearms or law enforcement will blanch at that word. Do your homework. Consult someone in law enforcement, or go to a local gun shop or range to ask if what you’re describing is technically correct. Small things like incorrectly describing a weapon or technique will detract from the flow and stop a reader in their tracks.
Now, if I may, a bit of shameless self-promotion. I am working on a non-fiction book, Women Warriors: Stories from the Thin Blue Line. I am seeking submissions from women in law enforcement, active or retired, to share their true stories in a book that will be published this fall. I’m including not only police officers, but corrections officers, dispatchers, chaplains, and prosecutors. The stories will be written by them, and will include ones which are funny, sad, oddball, tragic, in other words all of the interesting things and people that women encounter on the job. If anyone knows of a woman who might like to share their story, please have them contact me through my website:

Writing is a gift that should be shared with as many people as possible, It’s a way in which we create a legacy, a tool with which we help craft not only our own history but that of our country. Writing allows us to pass on to others certain traditions and practices that sometimes might never be known to future generations if we don’t memorialize them by writing them down. I hope those of you reading this will take time today and write something, anything. Writing: priceless!
John is a retired FBI agent and former Chicago Police Officer who also served in the Army. He is a freelance writer, book reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, and an NCAA authorized speaker. His experience teaching street survival around the world has allowed him to publish more than 100 articles on law enforcement wesbsites and magazines. He has created The Chicago Warrior Thriller Series, consisting of three novels. He's published a story in the book, True Blue To Protect and Serve, and is an award-winning writer of short stories. In the Fall of 2010 a devotional, Stories of Faith and Courage Cops On The Street, will be published; John has several stories contained therein.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kay's Words blog interview: Mark Young

Editor’s Note: I am taking a break. My friend, Kay Marshall Strom, posted an interview today on Kay’s Words about … me and Revenge: A Travis Mays Novel. You got it, a little promo. I promise we’ll get back to mystery crime writing, publishing, and law enforcement in the very near future. Click on the link at the end of this post if you’d like to read the interview in its entirety. Otherwise … go ahead and take a break. You deserve it.
Glowing Author: Mark Young

Glowing Author #29

Looking for an entertaining mystery, dripping with suspense and spiced with a dash of romance?  I thought you might be. Which is why I’m glad Mark Young stopped by to tell us about his debut novel.  So, without further delay…
Heeeeeere’s Mark!
Congratulations, Mark! 
Thank you.  And thank you, Kay, for the opportunity to tell others aboutRevenge: A Travis Mays Novel.
So, tell us a bit about your new book. 
Here’s what the backcover says: When a trained killer threatens ex-cop Travis Mays—and those Travis loves—he finds a skilled adversary and an unexpected fight. 
Haunted by his past, Travis begins a new life and a new career, teaching criminology at a  university and building a cabin in the Idaho Mountains. He hires a beautiful river guide, Jessie White Eagle from the Nez Perce tribe, to steer him safely through raging whitewater, only to find that this trip changes everything—for Travis, for Jessie, and for those they hold dear. In the shadows lurks a man—calling himself Creasy—determined to make sure Travis pays for past sins.
It’s a fast-paced thriller that takes readers on a wild ride down Idaho’s whitewater rivers, along the historic Lolo Trail once tread by the Nez Perce nation, and onto the city streets of California. Tighten your helmet. This ride never stops until the last shot is fired and the final body falls. 
Wow!  Not the kind of plot line just anyone could pull off!  Could this be influenced by your “day job”?
Six years ago, I ended a twenty-six year career in law enforcement. It was a challenging and fulfilling mission, but my body finally told me it was time to change direction.
During those years in law enforcement, I was afforded many opportunities as a detective and sergeant not normally available to cops in mid-sized agencies like my own— the Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) in California. I worked on several law enforcement task force operations, including the presidential Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force targeting major drug traffickers, and the federal Organized Crime Task Force charged with identifying and prosecuting prison gang leaders.
So when I sat down to write my first crime mystery novel, I was able to draw upon years of experience—people from all walks of life, crime cases, personal impressions, and a little police humor gathered from real characters.
How did you come up with this specific plot line?
Actually, my attempt to learn to fly fish led to it. After leaving law enforcement, I needed to move my family from California to a more rural setting. So we packed up and moved to a small town in eastern Washington, a few miles from the Idaho border.
One of the things I promised myself was that I’d learn to fly fish. One of the fishing areas lay in central Idaho, along the beautiful Clearwater, Selway, and Lochsa rivers. Truly God’s country. The Nez Perce (NP) Indian reservation straddles a good chunk of these mountains, and I developed an interest in their culture and history. I began to envision a story where a character from my law enforcement world connects with a character from the NP law enforcement world, and they work together to solve a crime while learning about each other’s way of life.
I began to research the cultural, historical and present-day challenges of the NP. I interviewed the chief of the NP Tribal Police, members of the NP tribe, spiritual leaders in the community, and one individual who headed up archeology projects of this Indian culture for more than thirty years. Unfortunately, I could not use most of what I learned for this novel. I hope to dish out additional morsels of information in upcoming sequels to Revenge.
My interest in cultural history arises from my own personal history and experiences. I can trace my heritage, through my mother’s side, back to the Cherokee nation, with roots in Oklahoma. And, in 1973, I had an opportunity as a reporter to travel to South Dakota where I interviewed American Indian Movement (AIM) leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means during the takeover of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During the standoff between AIM members and federal authorities, I was able to move into the town during the siege and interview members of the Oglala Sioux Nation about conditions they faced on the reservation.
The plot for Revenge was spawned from this background.