I attended the Writers Police Academy during August. In a quick background, the Writers Police Academy got its start when a group of law enforcement officers recognized too many authors got the details wrong because they’d never had the opportunity to interact with professionals who knew–and were willing to share–the correct procedures.
That germ of an idea—allow writers to ask a million questions and try their hand at skills taught by active-duty police academy instructors and law enforcement experts—outgrew its beginnings at Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina. The 2015 version, with the entire cast of experts, descended on the Fox Valley Public Safety Training Center in Appleton, WI.
The buses rolled in–and so it began…
What a great training facility with room for fire vehicles, ambulances (they mapped every bump in Main Street and programmed the sequence into the vehicle’s shocks to simulate actual road experience for EMTs-in-Training), skids pads, firing ranges and even an airplane for hostage and terrorist training.
There’s a lab for CSI techniques, classes on interview/interrogation, fingerprinting, autopsy and booking techniques, firearms and drug identification, and the challenges women face in the field and workplace. Secret Service and undercover cops talked about what makes their missions succeed–and the mindset of the law enforcement professionals. Firefighters demonstrated rescue techniques and handlers put their K-9 partners through drills from finding drugs (oops, dog nails scratch unmarked cars) to taking down uncooperative Bad Guys.
The collection of buildings dubbed “River City” (you can see a portion above with the airplane) gets burned, stormed and robbed on a regular basis, as police academy cadets learn their craft and nearly three hundred writers watch, take notes, and try their hand at those same skills.
While I didn’t get to attempt the Shoot/Don’t Shoot simulator (damn lottery!), I tested for blood in the CSI lab, learned about blood splatter, and tried out the cooler replacement to Luminal. I breached buildings, learned how to make things go BOOM, and (my favorite) discovered the beauty and control of flow martial arts.
(Note to the master – I’m trying to locate a dojo for Aikido. If not, there’s always Tai Chi.)
Mostly though, I talked with terrific instructors and listened to their stories. I connected with friends and made new ones. What a great weekend.
Thanks to all the folks at WPA and its host of volunteer organizers for providing a unique opportunity to “get it right” in future stories.
What about you? Is there a law enforcement experience you’d love to try first hand?
It’s hard to believe 14 years have passed since the terrorist attacks against the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. We also remember the bravery of our American heroes on United Flight 93 and our first responders.
This tribute is moving – and a commentary on hope for the future. We need more than hope, though. We need people committed to leadership and doing what’s best for our country and our world instead of only focusing on what’s in their best interest.
It barely seems possible that a year has flown past since CYPHER released.
Celebrating with a sale this weekend – pick up your copy and let me know what you think!
When a hit-man kills the wrong person, a Greenville, SC detective confronts hidden agendas and conflicting motives in a powerful local family, while trying to control his attraction to the intended victim—a woman who should be dead, but instead is hell-bent on saving the remnants of her family.
Unwilling to stand by while her family and world are destroyed, she rips apart the secrets surrounding Cypher, the company her father built—and will take any measures to defend.
Do you have your copy?
A HUGE thanks to all the readers who bought our set!
Get your heartbeat racing with 13 romantic-suspense novels from USA Today, bestselling, and award-winning authors. Nerve-wracking thrills and dangers, heart-melting romance and love–enjoy them all in this outstanding collection of DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS….
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XV8N5XC
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00XV8N5XC
Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/dangerous-encounters/id996262614?mt=11
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1R4py8H
Last night I watched HEAT for the first time. My husband had seen it multiple times before and at one point, about halfway through, I asked him, “So, who are we supposed to be rooting for, Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?”
He shrugged and said, “Which one hasn’t murdered anyone?”
Well, I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler alert to say that Robert De Niro, the criminal to Al Pacino’s cop, was the one who had killed people. Still, I was kind of rooting for his character. He possessed intelligence, nobility, and a loyalty to his “coworkers.” He also seemed to be against killing people, unless, you know, he really really had to…or they were really annoying. Whereas Al Pacino’s character seemed kind of crazy, agitated, and unkind. (According to IMDB, in an earlier draft the character had a cocaine habit and, even though that was later removed, Al Pacino kept the erratic outbursts.) So, I still kind of rooted for De Niro’s character right up to the end.
Currently, I am also in the middle of the THRONE OF GLASS series by Sarah J. Maas, which revolves around Celaena Sardothien, a vicious assassin who has brutally killed people for money and out of pure anger. Sure, she has always had “rules” for herself, but they are so minimal they are obvious (e.g., she won’t kill kids.) I won’t get into all the changes the character goes through, partly because I’m only in the middle of book two, but I will say that despite her past actions and her current fiery anger, I’m enjoying it enough to keep reading. Sure, some of her thoughts and actions bug me, but not enough that I can’t ultimately root for her. Her past was so awful, you can see her as a victim, and she has other qualities, like loyalty and even compassion, that come through.
I tend to like “good” main characters. Of course, they should be flawed, but I don’t usually like it when the “flaw” is that they mercilessly inflict excruciating pain before killing their enemies. But, obviously, I have my exceptions, which has me thinking, why do these characters work as protagonists when they are so well suited to being villains?
Here are a few ways to have your bad character thrive as a protagonist.
Use a Bad/Good Scale (think Barney’s Hot/Crazy Scale). Your character can be as bad as you want, as long as he or she has an equal or more amount of good qualities and actions to balance it.
Make the actual antagonist worse than your bad character. If the bad character’s murderous rage is used against a group who would harm thousands of innocent people if they aren’t stopped, suddenly that murderous rage seems more like an asset.
Explain why the MC is the way she is. What has happened in her past that has sculpted her bad motivations and behavior? This doesn’t equal absolution, but it can help the reader understand that these negative actions don’t take place in a vacuum.
Have the MC strive for good. He is trying to be better, even in his own way. He is trying to help others, even if those others are also “bad” characters.
Now go have fun writing your bad boys and girls! 🙂
I met my hubs on the 4th of July a very long time ago and in what seems like a galaxy far, far away. Coming up on that anniversary romance has been on my mind. So I’m going to share my thoughts on what it is and isn’t.
I feel very strongly romance in a book can’t be legislated by ANYONE but the author. Their world-view feeds the romance. Nourishes it until it blooms. What romance is to one may not be to another. Some romance books have no sex, others have it behind closed doors. Then there are those that go from hot to off the charts steamy. I can tell you right now I consider abuse of any kind and or cheating between an H&H not romance, not love and not an enjoyable read for me. That book will immediately be returned. Sure people can screw up their lives and relationships. If they’re lucky, they get a second chance to make it up. Haven’t we all been there? I love it when an author brings a couple through bad times to grow their love.
Those who speak as authorities on the subject of romance in books say what I think of as romance is in fact a love story. Romance MUST follow a certain criteria says a deep voice from behind the curtain. Well, guess what? Plllaaaatttttttt! Raspberries to you all. Not saying it’s bad to meet that criteria but I don’t care if a book does or doesn’t. Do you think a reader cares? I think not.
For me romance in books is like this line from the song Thinking Out Loud, “I’m thinking ‘bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways. Some couples can take years to fall in love others know in seconds. I love the thrill of discovery for the couples in the books I read.
RAINWATER by Sandra Brown does not have an HEA or the possibility of one. It is one of the most poignant romances, love stories, whatever the freak you want to call it, I’ve ever read. Are J D Robb’s books romances using the criteria? Hmmmm?
When an author does a good job of drawing me into a couple’s romance/love arc I don’t care if it takes up ten or ninety percent of the story. Make me feel something for those characters and I will remember them forever. For…ev…ver.
I also don’t care if the romance drives the story. More and more I see love and romance being added to books not in the so-called romance genre. Those other genre authors are beginning to take romance seriously. Is it because romance sells or because love is a real human emotion that readers can connect with? I don’t care. Do you think the reader does? I think not.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So everybody write on. Call it what you want. I don’t care. Just write me a good story.
Rita writes about extraordinary women in the military and the men they love. Call it what you like. She doesn’t care. She only wants you to enjoy it.
Everybody wants a website that is easy to use and effective as a sales or information tool. All these things are within easy reach whether you do your own, have someone do it for you, or a combination of both. All of it depends on your technical abilities and knowing what a good website requires. Having designed several websites, I’ve put together a list of my top eleven tips for an effective website for authors.
1. Make sure your name and what you do (author, writer, cover artist) are across the top, in an easy to read font, and against an eye-catching background. The header above with Sandy Parks has “Author” in the header. On the header below for Sandy Moffett, I waited and put the info as a header in the first column to the left. Why the left? In a responsive or mobile ready site (ie. your cellphone), your left column is usually the one seen first.
2. Have simple clean navigation on every page and even at the bottom if it works for your site. You should be able to reach all the pages on a website from any page on the site. That also goes for your blog. Many times I have left a website to check out an authors blog and then can’t find a link back to the website or vice versa. I leave frustrated and they’ve lost a potential fan/sale. The header photos both have an example of a navigation bar that should be on all pages. This one is horizontal, but they can also be vertical. Some fancy sites even have a floating navigation box. Personally, I find them distracting, but others love the convenience. What is not obvious in the photos, is that on the website the navigation bars have more drop down choices when you roll a cursor over them. Too many choices on the main bar can clutter the page.
3. If you link to locations off your website (Amazon, blog, information, favorite authors), those should open in a new window so viewers can easily tab back to your page (not using back arrows). When you add links in most programs it will ask if you want to open on a “blank” page or in a “new window.” Answer yes, and your link will open a new tab and window on your search engine. Easy. Try out this link to Anne Marie Becker’swebsite and see if it opens in a new window (but please come back for the rest of the tips).
4. Make your website compatible with mobile devices! This is extremely important as Google and likely other search engines are giving ranking priority to “mobile ready” or “responsive” content. What does this mean?
If you search for your website on your phone or tablet, the columns should automatically condense to one or two columns (as in the photo to the left). For example, if you have a three column site, it should realign to one long column for those reading on a smart phone. Or perhaps two columns for ease of reading on a tablet.
5. Also important with a MOBILE compatible website is the navigation when in mobile configuration. It should show at the top of the window at all times, rather like when viewing Facebook or Twitter on your phone. The screen shot below shows three small bars in the upper right, and the selections that would normally be across the top of a wider website are now stacked up and still accessible. I’ve clicked on Books & Writing so submenus are visible (in light blue). You can also hide the menu’s to see more content.
6. Have a Newsletter Signup on the FIRST PAGE, not the Contact Page. Some viewers never click on the Contact page and thus will never see your sign-up notice/link/form. You can see an example in the photo above. Mine links to MailChimp, but there are many sites/methods which can help collect the information. Many successful authors will tell you these lists of readers can make or break their sales.
7. Add Twitter feed (example below). It updates your website whenever you post on Twitter so search engines note your site is active and that helps keep it visible to searchers. You can find the information on how to add it from the Twitter site.
8. Place links to buy books at every available vendor on every page where that book is mentioned. This is not as easy as you think. On my websites books are mentioned on the home page, a separate book category page, and a separate book excerpt page. There are places where I have added new book material and have yet to add a link. That’s why I also keep a website To Do list. When you add links they should include your affiliate link for the vendor. That is another source of income for an author whether indie or traditionally published, so check it out if you haven’t set up an account with a vendor. If you use icons for the vendors on your website, you should double check if the vendor has a required style. Several of the ones on my site need to be updated to reflect recent changes.
9. Your most recent book cover, if not more, should be displayed on the HOME page. The whole purpose of your website is to encourage sales and make the title of your book and your name familiar to the person stopping by.
10. No flashing, twinkling, constant motion on your site. These type things can be terribly distracting and actually drive people away (music is also a touchy subject and not recommended). Photo or banner rotators are fine if they are set to move or change slowly and have professional content (photographs that relate to subject, book covers, etc). You can also have some quick initial or introductory motion, but once people are on the sight and looking at content, that should be it. For example, Julie Moffett wanted something geeky for her website (about a geek sleuth) so she has motion as you load the site and particular pages.
I could go on and list many more examples, but have to do some website tweaking of my own. So I’ll close with this last tip.
11. Check out all your links and other things on your site once in a while, especially after adding new content and updating the old.
Hope these tips help. You can check out my less than perfect website at Sandy Parks or Sandy Moffett. I’d also love to hear your website tips or opinions.
Get your heartbeat racing with 13 romantic-suspense novels from USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors. Nerve-wracking thrills and dangers, heart-melting romance and love–enjoy them all in this outstanding collection of DANGEROUS ENCOUNTERS….
Fallen Idol – Nikki Lynn Barrett
Sparks ignite between a single father and a singer making her musical comeback, but danger lurks in the distance, only getting closer as time goes on. For two people who want different things out of life, it’s possible to find healing together…
Cross Examination – Denise Moncrief
Tamara Slay moves to Louisiana, hoping for a fresh start. An unexpected phone call from a Sheriff’s deputy in Florida shatters her new sense of security.
Lt. Martin Beck has been investigating the death of Brandy Fuller for years. New evidence leads him to meet the estranged wife of his primary suspect. Together, Beck and Tamara conclude that her husband Scott murdered eight women on the Florida Gulf coast.
Carnival Tricks – Jade Kerrion
A fight during Sofia’s waitressing shift turns fatal, and a dying scientist launches her into the shady world of scientific espionage. The unwilling trustee of research that people would kill to obtain, Sofia turns to the man who steps out of the shadows to protect her, even though he appears as dangerous and disreputable as the people who hunt her.Together, Sofia and Kyle must unravel the truth behind the illicit information she carries before one or both of them are killed.
Height of Danger – Nancy and Nolan Radke
Someone is killing construction workers at a Central American dam site, and CIA operative Owen Putman is sent in undercover to discover the who and why. The boss’ lovely daughter picks this time to visit her father, and Owen kidnaps her to keep her safe. He finds himself juggling his mission, her safety, and his identity – and she manages to endanger them all.
Six Days of Memories – Stacy Eaton
When Detective Foster responds to the scene of a crash, she finds the female passenger dead, a bag full of money in the back seat and a body in the trunk. It is only when the driver, whom she nicknames Jay, wakes up with no memory that she must go with her instincts and continue the investigation in a way that was never taught in the academy.
Broken Lies, by Sharon Coady
After training with an Elitie unit of the Irish Special Forces, Niall is sent by his father to New York to be a bodyguard for Mr. Pierce. Abby is a woman with an abusive boyfriend and a painful past. She catches Niall’s eye and he finds himself drawn to her.
Their lives change forever when they are drawn into a battle of deception, lies and murder. Can Niall keep her safe from whoever seems Hell bent of keeping them apart?
Don’t Know Jack – Amy Manemann
Special Agent Jack Hamlin is a risk taker who isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to bring criminals to justice. Until he meets small town bakery owner, Kate Monroe. Danger, white hot romance, and stress baking ensue as Kate is swept into Jack’s dangerous world—and Jack’s loyalties and training are put to the test when his cover is blown, and Kate’s life is on the line.
Cypher – Cathy Perkins
When a hitman kills the wrong person, Detective David Morris confronts hidden agendas and conflicting motives in a powerful local family, while trying to control his attraction to the intended victim—a woman who should be dead, but instead is hell-bent on saving the remnants of her family.
Unwilling to stand by while her family and world are destroyed, Cara Wainwright rips apart the secrets surrounding Cypher, the company her father built—and will take any measures to defend.
Murderous Lies – Bestselling Author Chantel Rhondeau
Imprisoned for murder and exonerated after eight years, Max Kensington returns to his hometown. His return forces Rosemary Spelling, his ex-fiancée, to confront the past. The day Max allegedly killed her sister destroyed her life, ripping apart her family and landing her mother in a mental institution. When murders start again and all evidence points to Max, Rose must team up with him to catch her sister’s real killer.
Tidal Falls- Jacquie Biggar
Sara Reed is on the run from an abusive ex with ties to organized crime. Mistakenly thinking her and her daughter would be safer if she had some kind of leverage, she takes a copy of some valuable files. Files that make her a target.
Nick Kelley is an ex-marine trying to find his place now that his career is over due to injuries suffered from an IED. When the two of them meet in the pretty little town of Tidal Falls, the experience is explosive.
Suspended Animation – Sylvie Grayson
Katy Dalton worked hard and when her friend Bruno talked her into an investment in Rome Trucking, it seemed like a safe bet. But when her job disappears and she needs her money back, Bruno stops answering his phone and bad things start to happen.
The last thing Brett Rome wants to do is leave a promising career in hockey to come home and run his ailing father’s trucking company. What he discovers is not the successful business that he remembers, but one that is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and a young woman demanding the return of her money. But danger lurks in the form of Bruno’s dubious associates. What secret are they hiding and why are they willing to kill Katy? Can Brett put this broken picture back together, and is Katy part of the solution or the problem?
Knowing Vera – Award-Winning Author Rachelle Ayala
Vera’s dating Zach, casually, not committed, when she discovers her long-departed father is the killer of Zach’s mother many years ago. Meanwhile, Zach reevaluates his life after losing his leg in a tragic accident and realizes he’s falling in love with Vera.
Can their timing be so wrong? Vera and Zach must depend on each other for survival and find a dangerous killer before he can kill again.
Special Agent Francesca – USA Today Bestselling Author Mimi Barbour Is action her thrill of choice – or his lips?
Violence, suspense and sizzling romance explode during Special Agent Francesca’s humorous journey, fighting off the mob! Dr. Sean Collins wants to tame her! Yeah-like that’s gonna happen. Only one thing keeps Francesca motivated. Proving to her mother, the FBI “Snow Queen,” that working undercover is where she belongs.
**B&N link will be available shortly
USA Today Bestselling author Nikki Lynn Barrett
I’m an avid lover of books. I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember, completing my first “book” by fifth grade in one of those one subject spiral notebooks. I have a passion for music, photography, jewelry and all things creative. I live in Arizona with my husband and son, but dream of being somewhere much colder and stormier. For now, I’ll have to live that life through my characters and stick it out with the summer heat.
Denise Moncrief is a Southern girl who has lived in Louisiana all her life, and yes, she has a drawl. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children, who not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her writing passion. Besides writing romantic suspense, she enjoys traveling, reading, and scrapbooking.
Jade Kerrion writes award-winning and occasionally best-selling science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary novels anchored on unlikely romances you will root for and happy endings you can believe in. Her favorite romance is the Double Helix love triangle between Galahad—the lab-created perfect human being; Danyael—an alpha empath and Galahad’s physical template; and Zara—the woman who can wreak more havoc with love than most people can with hate. Visit her website for a free copy of Perfection Unleashed, the six-time award winning novel that launched the Double Helix series.
Nancy and Nolan Radke are a mother and son team who write individually, checking each other’s books, and who have now collaborated on a mystery/thriller. Nancy draws upon a teaching background and Nolan has a law enforcement background and is now a building contractor.
Stacy Eaton is an International Best Selling Amazon author of eight books and a full-time detective who has a passion for putting the pieces together while investigating the crime. She is also a wife, mother, business owner and on the board of directors for her local domestic violence center. When she’s not ‘working’, she’s ‘writing’. Stacy loves chilling with her family and photography.
Sharon Coady lives in Florida with her husband, three of their daughters and five of their eleven grandchildren. She wrote two books before discovering Romance novels. She has now written a romantic suspense, a romance novella and is currently writing a Christmas novella. She has two published novels. When not working as a nurse for the Veterans Administration or writing she enjoys spending time with her family and riding behind her husband on their Harley.
Amy Manemann is an International Best Selling Author who writes sexy and intriguing romantic suspense, young adult paranormal romance, contemporary romance (NEW), and dabbles in children’s books. She resides in her hometown along the Mississippi river with her husband and their two children. When she isn’t plotting her next book, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and diving into a good book.
Amy is also a site administrator for the World Literary Café, an online literary community for authors and readers. www.worldliterarycafe.com.
Award-winning author Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she’s observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters’ lives. When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.
Best-selling author Chantel Rhondeau once thought a great mystery or fantasy book with strong romantic themes was the highest level of reading bliss. After reading her first romantic suspense novel, she never looked back. Chantel is author of six romantic suspense novels, a Christmas novella, and the new McCallister’s Paradise series. She lives in the western United States, and when she’s not writing she loves playing cards with her family, bowling on leagues, and snuggling with her lazy kitties.
Jacquie Biggar lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her husband, daughter, & grandson. She loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. Spoils her German Shepherd, Annie, and Calico cat, Harley. And can’t function without coffee.
Sylvie Grayson has published romantic suspense novels, Suspended Animation, Legal Obstruction, and The Lies He Told Me, all about strong women who meet with dangerous odds, stories of tension and attraction. She has also written The Last War series, a romantic fantasy set to be released in 2015. She has been an English language instructor, a nightclub manager, an auto shop bookkeeper and a lawyer. She lives in southern British Columbia with her husband on a small piece of land near the Pacific Ocean that they call home, when she’s not travelling the world looking for adventure.
Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.
Mimi Barbour is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author and the author of: The Vicarage Bench, Angels with Attitudes, Vegas, Elvis and the new sizzling Undercover FBI Series, Mimi lives on the East coast of Vancouver Island and writes her various romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. “If I can steal a booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fictional love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”
I recycle glass, metal and plastics, newspapers, advertisements, and circulars, and use USDA certified biobased products but—when it comes to writing I print out page after page of my stories and articles. Reading what I’ve written on the computer works for my first few drafts but after that I need to look at the print on the page even when the piece is meant for an e-book or an on-line site.
Mistakes I hadn’t noticed when I read the words on the screen jump out and accuse me of carelessness. I cringe when I notice a dull sentence—so dull I know a more active word must be found, and often I discover I’ve repeated words or a descriptive phrase more times than I thought humanly possible.
Characters scold—telling me they would never use certain expressions or behave in a manner so completely removed from their reality. Sometimes my protagonist encourages me to change the direction of the plot or forces me to alter the antagonist’s motivation.
Courtesy Terry McAllister Dreamstime Stock Photos I may find I haven’t clued my future reader into something they need to know—that would be a disaster and sometimes I’ve said too much—why would someone bother reading to the last page if they’re way ahead of me? Times and dates urge me to double and triple check and make sure the actions and events I’ve planned could have possibly happened within the period written about. Was that dish served or that special gown worn in that particular country, in that particular century?
I print out chapter pages or an entire article, make sure I have a pen and take it with me to work on in another place. Perhaps a ride on a bus, a park bench, or a coffee house; then it’s back to the computer to make changes and begin again—begin at the beginning.