Famous Authors Say Writing is Easy

file0001608482449

We all know that writing a book is the simplest and easiest way to earn a few bucks.

Actually, writing is a bulls**t job that even a trained monkey could do, right?

After all, how hard can it be to plop your hips down in the old easy chair and pluck out a few thousands words. Shoot, it’s all a bunch of made-up gobbledy-goop, anyway.

So here’s the real scoop on how this pie job really goes down. And, to back me up on these few simple steps to “Writing Made Easy,” I went to the pros to get their opinions on the process. And they agree, writing a novel is a piece of cake that anyone can do in in their spare time.

Don’t believe me? Well, see for yourselves. Here are the quick and simple steps to penning a bestseller …

Writing Made Easy

1. Whatever you do, do NOT write every day. In fact, once or twice a month works best for the writers who’re serious about their craft. Do you honestly believe people like Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, M.J. Rose, Shirley Jump, Chris Grabenstein, Donald Bain, and Laura Lippman chain themselves to a computer seven days a week, hours upon hours per day? Puhleeze …

Yes, writing a novel is a silly little project you can do in your spare time. In fact, anyone can pen a 300 page book in … say … a couple of weeks. Of course, we’re speaking only of writing after dinner, between commercials while binge-watching episodes of Chopped, and after you’ve gone to your favorite club to whip and nae-nae yourself into a dabbing, Shomony frenzy. Right, Lee? MJ?

New-Picture-1

Lee Child

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.38.38 PM

MJ Rose

2. Again, writing is simple and it’s quick easy money, and it’s a silly little project that’ll quickly take you from blank page to zillion-dollar paycheck in no time at all.

new-picture-44

Tess Gerritsen

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.24.12 PM

MJ Rose

3. Never, ever try to spread out the writing process. Instead, bang out 10,000 – 20,000 words each day and you’ll have your totally finished manuscript almost before you can mumble the phrase, “Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.16.33 PM

Laura Lippman

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.28.49 PM

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.44.40 PM

Donald Bain

4. Always, always, always listen to music while writing, especially head-banging metal or classic rock. Of course, a few of the big-shot, fancy-smancy writers prefer Bach or Mozart, but they’re … well, you know. Anyway, music, and the louder the better, sends the creative juices into overdrive!

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.50.40 PM

Chris Grabenstein

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 12.50.19 PM

Shirley Jump

What about you, Laura? Surely, you’ve got The Ramones cranked up to full volume while you’re hard at work, right? So …

Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 1.14.25 PM

So there you have it, writers. You may now safely step away from the keyboards because those books will write themselves while you head out to the club to drink yourselves silly while Texas Two-Stepping Gangnam Style, or Moonwalking the Macarena.

Read more
Friday’s Heroes: Remembering the Fallen

New-Picture-22

c_2016---steil,-kenneth-2

Sergeant Kenneth Steil, 46

Detroit Michigan Police Department

September 17, 2016 – On September 12th, Sergeant Kenneth Steil was in a foot pursuit of a fleeing carjacking suspect who turned and fired a sawed-off shotgun, wounding  Sergeant Steil in the upper torso. He succumbed to his wounds five days later.

Sergeant Steil is survived by his wife and two young sons.

officer-kenneth-bettis

Correctional Officer Kenneth Bettis, 44

Alabama Department of Corrections

September 16, 2017 – On September 1st, Officer Kenneth Bettis was attacked and stabbed by an inmate after he denied the prisoner an extra food tray. Officer Bettis was transported to an area hospital where he succumbed to his wounds fifteen days later.

sgt-kerry-winters

Sergeant Kerry Winters, 51

Ulster County New York Sheriff’s Office

September 22, 2016 – Sergeant Kerry Winters drowned during a training exercise with the department’s In-Water Rescue Team. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

patrol-officer-jason-gallero

Officer Jason Gallero, 45

Cook County Illinois Sheriff’s Department

September 15, 2016 – Officer Jason Gallero, a police academy instructor, suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in a morning run with cadets and other instructors. He is survived by his daughter.

Read more
**UPDATE** – Tulsa: The Shooting of Terence Crutcher … #STOP!

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 1.08.49 PM

**UPDATE**

Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby has been formally charged with manslaughter in the shooting of Terence Crutcher.

~

I rarely speak out about police shootings until ALL facts are in, and I don’t for good reason … because I, like the rest of the population, was not there, meaning I do not know any more than my neighbors, you, or anyone else who wasn’t at the scene. I also cannot begin to know what was going through the officers’ minds at the time the triggers were pulled.

Even when a shooting is captured on video we still don’t have all the facts, and we certainly do not know what the officers were experiencing. And people who have not been trained as police officers absolutely have no clue what police officer training entails. Not. A. Clue. So for those “not in the know” to say that police officers receive poor training is an irresponsible statement at best.

However, in the wake of the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, today I have to somewhat/sort of agree with a portion of a comment posted to Twitter by Middleton, Ohio Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw.

As an officer I am so sick and drained of some cops doing things like this. You are making us all look bad. STOP.  #TerenceCruthcher

— R_Muterspaw (@RodneyMute) September 20, 2016

Here’s where the chief and I agree, and that’s in the sense that everyone needs to STOP … but to examine all facts before making decisions.

The shooting of Crutcher is a situation entirely different than other recent police shootings. Entirely different.

Crutcher, as you’ve probably seen by now, held his hands high in the air while walking away from officers, disobeying several commands to stop. The reason for the officers’ interaction with Crutcher has been described as “a vehicle broken down in the roadway.” Crutcher was the driver of the disabled SUV.

There’s no doubt that Crutcher was acting oddly and the vial of PCP found in his vehicle could certainly explain the behavior. But is odd behavior alone just cause to prompt the use of deadly force?

Let’s take a quick peek at what we know based on a few minutes of video from the scene, along with post-event statements made by officers who were actually on the scene.

Crutcher was first TASERED by one officer and then immediately shot by Officer Betty Shelby when, after walking slowly away from the officers, he reached the driver’s side/door of the SUV. Remember, this was not a criminal suspect, nor was Crutcher doing things like making threats, charging the officers, reaching to his waistband (a convenient spot to hide a firearm or other weapon). Nothing remotely close either of those things. He simply walked to his vehicle in disobedience to what the officer commanded him to do, which, by the way, she had just cause to do. She needed information about him, the driver of a car parked diagonally in the center of the roadway, crossing a portion of both lanes. This is not how a rational person parks a vehicle. Even if it had stalled, why stop in the center of the roadway, partially blocking all lanes?

Officer Shelby said she thought Crutcher reached inside the vehicle to get something and it was that particular action that caused her to fear for her life. At the same moment that Crutcher reached for the car door, window, or whatever it was he reached to do or for, one officer deployed a TASER. Officer Betty Shelby then fired her pistol, shooting Crutcher. He died.

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 1.08.59 PM

This is a perfect example of two officers perceiving a threat differently. Entirely different, actually. One officer, the one who used the TASER (a less than lethal weapon) apparently saw Crutcher as someone who was disobedient but needed to be detained by using a device designed to bring about compliance.

The second officer, Betty Shelby, thought deadly force was warranted. The difference between the two reactions is H.U.G.E. HUGE!

As a former police academy instructor who taught officer survival and defensive tactics, the two distinct differences in reactions is extremely troubling to me, and it’s confusing. What did she see that the others did not? Why was she concerned and fearful that Crutcher planned to severely injure or kill her or the other officers? Why did one officer believe all that was needed to quell the situation was the use of a non-lethal weapon, while a fellow officer believe she needed to stop a “threat” with the use of deadly force? This is totally a case of apples and oranges. Polar opposites that I believe could aid in the prosecution of Betty Shelby, someone who is most likely about to become a former police officer.

I have no doubt in my mind that the officers on the scene that day each received very similar, if not identical academy instruction. They each went through practical, hands-on training that includes role playing and firearms simulation training (those of you who’ve attended the Writers’ Police Academy have seen first hand what this training involves and how extremely realistic it can be).

Officers are tested and tested and tested and they must pass each portion of the training before they’re certified as police officers. Again, they must successfully pass each portion of the testing process. If not, they’re discharged from their employment.

Once the new recruits pass all tests and become certified police officers, they work under the direct supervision of field training officers for a lengthy period of time. Afterward, the officers go out on their own to perform their individual duties as police officers.

Officer Shelby was not a rookie by any means, and that includes my “5-year rule of thumb” guideline, the time it seems to take many officers to finally transition from rookie status.

So what happened that caused Shelby, a seasoned police officer, to pull the trigger? Could it have been the sound of a TASER deploying? They are a bit noisy and, if your nerves are already on edge due to all the recent cop shootings/ambushes, the sound could have been the catalyst, possibly? Did she actually believe that Crutcher was reaching for a gun, something she couldn’t have possibly seen because there was no gun found, yet a threat seemed very real to her.

I do know that it’s impossible for us or even the officers on the scene to know how Betty Shelby perceived the situation that unfolded so quickly. But I do wonder why she was the only officer out of four who fired her pistol. Actually, she fired her pistol, one officer deployed a TASER (pictured center below), another had his pistol in-hand and aimed at Crutcher, while the fourth officer had a hand on her/his gun belt and a radio mic in the other hand while standing in a hot/danger zone (dangerous if the suspect was a threat to life, and the latter—one hand on the belt and the other holding a microphone—is absolutely not a response you’d expect to see in a deadly force encounter).

The officer standing to the left in the image, the one speaking into her/his microphone, is the one that makes this entire incident seem so odd to me. Again, I wasn’t there so I have no way of knowing how either of the officers perceived the situation. But standing in the wide open spaces, unprotected from what appears to be a threat to the other officers, makes no sense, at least not to me.

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 1.13.26 PM

So four very different responses to the identical situation. Which was the right one and which was wrong, if either was wrong or right?

Perception is key. How did the Betty Shelby perceive the encounter? Did she fear for her life or the life of others? Or, did she respond to a sound (the TASER)? Did she shoot because of a “fear” living in her mind, the thoughts of recent officers killed in the line of duty?

If an officer fires her/his weapon because of a fear that’s frantically clawing at the inside of her/his skull, a fear that’s based on an incident not relevant to the one at hand, well, police work may not be proper line of work for that particular individual.

Sure, officers must be mindful of all potential threats, and they must use past experience as a guide as to what could happen “if,” but they absolutely must treat each individual incident as what it is at the precise moment it occurs.

Why Betty Shelby fired her weapon is a question each officer must think about right now … today. And, like Chief Muterspaw said, “Stop!” Because you’re not trained to shoot people when a situation clearly calls for other solutions.

So yeah, STOP!

And to the media who have no clue about what they’re pushing as “news” … you need to STOP as well. Spend a few days at police academy. Ride with cops for a few nights. The same goes for the armchair and Monday morning quarterbacks. STOP!

In fact, everyone needs to STOP. Take time to think before reacting with such hate, fear, and anger. Don’t let agendas shape your thoughts. Think for yourselves.

To my fellow officers who’re still out there on the streets. Remember and use the training you received at the academy. I know it’s tough and sometimes scary, but you do what you do because you love your jobs and you truly love people. If that’s not the case, then please do STOP right now and seek other employment.

Those who do belong behind a badge, well, be safe, wear your vests, and watch the hands. Always watch the hands.

Remember, if or when a suspect’s thumb and forefinger move inward toward the center of the body and the elbow moves outward, away from the body, then there’s a good chance they’re going for a weapon of some type.

Watch the hands.

Good point to consider when examining the shooting of Terence Crutcher. Where were his hands and what did Officer Shelby see, if anything, that her fellow officers did not? The answer to this question could either save or destroy Betty Shelby.

Either way, Terence Crutcher is dead.

#STOP!

Read more
Okay, I’m Going There: Bathroom Breaks – Where Do Officers Go?

20140526_162833

Sure, duty calls, but so does nature. And sometimes nature calls quite loudly. In those instances, it is imperative that an officer find the proper location to meet the need, especially in this dangerous times where ambushes are, sadly, a very real possibility.

So how do cops handle those “immediate needs?”

Well, deputy sheriffs are most often found patrolling rural areas.

Therefore, a stop …
 

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night …

 
to “water the cacti alongside Route 66” is more often the norm than not. Of course, if the deputy, especially a female deputy, is able to hold on until they reach the lobby of the Hotel California, well, I hear the restrooms there are nice, and they have real towels available instead of those hot blowy things mounted to the wall.

Sometimes, when stopping at hotels for “the break” hotel staff will offer a free cup of coffee and maybe a freshly-baked (microwave) cookie, if you’re lucky. But yes, roadside watering is a regular thing for those who wear the star. It’s as much a part of the job as arresting drunks and … hmm … those who urinate in public. Well, that’s awkward.

  • Go home! Yes, deputy sheriffs are fortunate because they often have the option of using the restroom in the comfort of their own homes, or the homes of family and friends.

Officers working in urban areas have to be a bit more creative. Sure, there’s always a dumpster to pee behind or …

He goes on the prowl each night
Like an alley cat
Looking for some new delight
Like an alley cat ~ Bobby Rydell

And there’s always:

  • the firehouse
  • the police department
  • all-night diners
  • truck stops
  • construction site porta-johns (while your partner stands guard at the door, of course)

Keep in mind, though, that other bathroom concerns are:

  1. Ambush while your gun and other tools are not at your side (you have to remove the gear from around your waist—all of it).
  2. While standing in a stall, you are typically facing away from the door.
  3. While sitting in a stall you must do something with your gun belt. Hanging it on the wall or door hook makes it practically impossible to access your gun. However, it would be easy for someone to reach over the wall/door to steal the entire belt leaving you with your pants down around your ankles. There would be nothing worse for the ego than having to chase after guy who’s stolen your gun belt, especially while your pants are dragging the ground and your bare hind parts are jiggling and wiggling around for all the world to see. It wouldn’t be a pretty sight. And you’d never live down the exposure of your strategically placed butterfly, Disney Princess, and I “Heart” Mom tattoos. Oh, the same would be true for the female officers.

And, then there’s a bigger problem. One of huge proportion—female officers and their bathroom needs!!

Watering the cacti is not an option for female officers, with the exceptions of extreme and dire emergencies. Neither are peeing in alleys and behind dumpsters.

Gun belt placement while tending to personal needs is always a concern for female officers, and truck stops and other places of similar … well, let’s just say they’re not always “lady-friendly.”

So what are the options for female officers?

  • police department restrooms
  • home
  • businesses (while your partner stands guard at the door, of course)
  • fire stations
  • construction site porta-johns (while your partner stands guard at the door, of course)

And … Go Pants.

 

 

Read more
I, Too, Took a Knee … But for a Different Reason

1411422153evx9h

I remember the day quite well. Hot and humid and both made worse by the fact that I was wearing the brown over khaki polyester uniform of a sheriff’s deputy. I also wore brown shiny shoes, a leather gun belt with a basket weave pattern imprinted on it and the attached tool holders—holster, handcuff case, etc.

Since we often worked an entire county alone, I carried a leather SAP in my back pocket, the kind with the spring-loaded handle, and a kubotan with an attached key ring stuck between my gun belt and the belt holding up my pants, the trousers with the dark brown stripe down the outside of each leg. I sometimes used the kubotan as a means of persuading criminal suspects to see things my way when they opted to resist arrest by doing things such as refusing to release the death grip they had on my throat.

Hey, when you’re alone and the difference between survival and its opposite is to deliver a tap on the noggin or a bit of pain to the wrist, well, it was what it was and I’m still here. With lots of scars, but here.

But back to the day in question.

It was shift change time in the sky. The sun was on its way down toward the horizon and a nearly full moon was well on its way upward. In fact, when I arrived on the scene, the location where a high-on-crack, uzi-toting, barricaded suspect had taken his girlfriend and small children hostage, the large, whitish-yellow moon was peeking above the rooftop of the two-story ramshackle farmhouse that sat at the end of a long dirt lane off the blacktop country road.

The moment my car stopped in the driveway to the right side of the house, the suspect, the shirtless man with close-cropped hair and muscles any pro-wrestler would love to show off, fired a few rounds in my direction.

Not being a guy who enjoys searing-hot puncture wounds, I climbed across the center console and out the passenger door. Once outside I sort of “duck-walked” to the rear corner of the car, near the trunk, and called for backup. Unfortunately, my location was 40 minutes away from the nearest deputy or trooper.

The man fired again. I took a knee and kept my head down. I did, however, take a few quick peeks to see if I could pinpoint the shooter’s location. Pow, Pow! Two more rounds. A scream. Children crying.

Just my luck. He was in the room nearest my patrol car. I was seriously wishing dispatch had provided me with a few more details. Important information like, “Female caller states the suspect is ARMED!!!”

I knew I had to get closer, so I kept low and waddled to the right front of my car behind the wheel and tire, where I again took a knee and kept my head down. It was slightly comforting to know the engine block was between the suspect’s gun barrel and my flesh.

POW, POW, POW!

This time I saw chunks of dirt and dust kick up not more than five feet from where my knee rested on the ground.

I took a quick look and saw the shooter turn away from the window, so I ran as fast as I could toward the house while crouching down. I stopped directly below the window where I’d last seen the man. I took a knee below the window sill. My heart thumped furiously against the inside of my chest wall—so hard that I seriously wondered if the bad guy could hear the beating.

Inside, the suspect yelled at his hostages between firing a few willy-nilly rounds. Next I heard a loud THUMP followed by sobbing. Then quiet.

The front door opened and the man stepped out on the porch. He began yelling and firing more rounds in the direction of my patrol car. Obviously, he was not aware that I’d taken position beside the house where, by the way, I was still resting my weight on my knee. The position provided stability for both my body and to help with steadying my aim. Yes, at that point I’d trained the barrel of my own weapon at the corner of the house where it met the porch. I was prepared to shoot the suspect, if necessary, and it looked as if that would be the case.

POW, POW, POW!!

Surely, he’d run out of ammunition at some point. And certainly backup would soon arrive. I so longed to hear the sound of sirens wailing and yelping. Until then, well …

I carefully eased along the front wall toward the porch. Still on one knee with my pistol aimed ahead. Left foot forward followed by the right knee. Slowly and quietly.

Pieces of gravel dug into my knee and I had to be careful to not cry out when a jagged piece of broken glass worked its way through meat and into bone. But I pressed on and I remained on the knee. I had to focus. One mistake and the people inside could die, as could I. And I was a single dad at the time, raising a young daughter.

Ten feet from the corner. POW!

Seven feet from the corner and the man started yelling. Then …

POW, POW, POW!!

I remained on one knee.

POW!

Then he stepped out into the yard.

I quickly holstered my pistol and tackled him.

POW!

We wrestled for the gun.

POW!

I knocked the gun away and we wrestled some more and more and more.

The guy was tremendously strong. Far stronger than I and at the time I was bench-pressing just under 400 lbs.

I managed to apply handcuffs to his wrists.

Again, I took a knee. This time I did so while gathering my strength and to allow my straining lungs to suck oxygen like the bellows of an antique pump organ.

The battered girlfriend and her kids came outside where she begged me to not take “her man” to jail. She cried and bawled like a baby, and she hugged and loved on him, and she spit and cursed at me, while the kids stood there watching. She called me names and praised him as a “good man” who was being arrested solely because of his race. Not because he’d beaten her and the children and shot up the place and taken wild shots at me. Not for beating on me and for trying to take my gun from its holder. Not for punching my face until it was so swollen I could barely see out of one of my eyes.

I stood up. My legs felt like rubber, I was filthy, my hands shook a bit, and my uniform was a mess. The pins and medals and my badge were torn from the shirt. My shoes were dusty.

My pants were grass-stained and the left knee was blood-soaked and tattered. The flesh beneath the mangled cloth, the knee that had supported my weight while bullets zipped by me and while I feared that I and the innocent people inside the house might be killed at any moment, was bruised, cut, and bloody.

And my car had a bullet hole near the left front fender.

At the time, my pay was $6,700 annually. We were paid monthly back then, which = $558.33 per paycheck—a little over $3.20 per hour.

The entire situation lasted approximately twenty minutes. So, for somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.06 (one-dollar and six cents), I’d been shot at, beaten, spit on, name-called, cut, and bloodied.

So yeah, I took a knee.

I took a knee so that young woman and her kids could live to see another day.

I took a knee for them and was spit on afterward.

I still don’t understand the hatred toward me that day, but I’d do it again—take a knee to save a life—just like the cops who’ll do so today and tomorrow and the next day.

And they’ll continue to be spit on for simply wearing a uniform.

Nothing new there.

* Please, let’s keep our comments civil, as always, and not turn this post into something racial or political. Instead of slinging more words and gestures of hatred we should be working toward solutions to our troubles.

Read more
Carfentanil and Narcanning: The Elephants in Heroin’s Room

Heroin (r) south east asian (L) south west asian

Heroin.

It’s an opioid.

Opioids are powerful painkillers.

Heroin is highly addictive and its users crave it.

In the 1960’s, most heroin users claimed they had not used other drugs before trying heroin.

In the 2000’s, 75% of heroin users in treatment programs said they first abused prescription opioids (Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, etc.).

During that time period, the most commonly prescribed and abused opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, were involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid type.

So the government cracked down “over-prescribing” painkillers.

As a result, addicts, including some of the everyday moms and pops who’d developed their addictions due to treatments for chronic pain, etc., then turned to the easier to get and less expensive heroin.

It’s believed that 1 in 4 people in Huntington, W. Va, for example, is addicted to heroin or some other opioid.

Heroin dealers, as an attempt to increase potency, up the profits, and possibly to increase the number of addicted users, began “cutting” their products with fentanyl, the most potent opioid available for medical use. Actually, Fentanyl that’s produced in illicit clandestine labs can be up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin. It’s lethal even at small doses.

Needless to say, heroin mixed with Fentanyl is a deadly combination. In Massachusetts alone, the number of opioid-related deaths in the first half of 2016 was estimated to be as high as 986, a 26 percent increase over the first six months of 2015.

Now, to further add to the trouble, there’s a new “elephant” in the room—Carfentanil, a synthetic opioid thats’s so potent that just a few granules the size of grains of salt can be lethal.

Carfentanil is an analog of Fentanyl, which means it’s sort of the same synthetic drug but with a twist, and in this case the twist is that Carfentanil is one of the most potent opioids known to man—10,000 times stronger than morphine (100 times stronger than Fentanyl). It is used as a tranquilizer for large animals, such as elephants. It’s use/abuse by humans is extremely deadly. But, dealers have turned to the synthetics because they’re easy and cheap to produce, unlike having to tend to poppy fields and the subsequent conversion to morphine and heroin.

To compound this new trend, users are often buying Carfentanil laced with heroin instead of heroin laced/cut with another substance.

According to a recent Times Magazine article on the subject, approximately 300 people in just four states have overdosed within the past 30 days from heroin laced with Carfentanil and/or Fentanyl. In Hamilton County, Ohio alone, 48 people overdosed in a single day.

Since only a few specks of Carfentanil can be deadly, first responders have a fear of accidentally ingesting the drug and overdosing when helping patients.

The problem has grown to such overwhelming proportions that many police and EMS personnel now carry Narcan, a powerful nasal spray that counteracts opioid overdose. It’s use has now become so commonplace that a new slang term—Narcanned—has emerged.

“Man, I was so out of it last night the cops ‘narcanned’ me.”

“I’ve been narcanned four times in the past thirty days.”

What’s the solution? Well, I wish I had the answer because this terrible trend is hitting us all, and loved ones are dying. Because, well,  sometimes “narcanning” simply doesn’t work.

Read more
Read More Posts