Tuesday, December 31, 2013

J.L. Greger- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am excited to welcome writer, professor, and biologist J.L. Greger to Twelve Question Tuesday.

J.L. and Bug
1. Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.1. I don’t like science fiction with Martian creatures, but I like science in fiction, even when it’s stretched to the limit. By my standards Jurassic Park is interesting because scientists now have extracted enough DNA from fossils to make cloning a mammoth possible. However, it’s doubtful scientists will find usable DNA from dinosaurs.  

2. My best friend (my apology to my sister and human friends) is my dog Bug. Just look at him. He’s the only character in my novels based on a real individual. As the picture shows, he’s a real character with a mind of his own. 

3. I value my privacy.

2. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

3. Tea or coffee?Neither, Diet Coke is my favorite source of caffeine.

4. Boxers or briefs?
Doesn’t matter. 

5. What was the first thing you wrote?
My third grade teacher assigned me to draw a picture and write a report on every story we read in class. She was trying to keep me busy.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
When Coming Flu, my first novel, was published.

7. Which of your works are you most proud of?
The last one out because I learn from the mistakes in previous books. So that means my current favorite is Ignore the Pain.

8. What is the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
Someone tried to attack me physically; he didn’t succeed.

9. How did you end up getting published?
I joined PSWA (Public Safety Writers Association) and got advice.

10. Would be food or a fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?

11. What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
Depends how you look at it. Maybe it was being in China in 1983 unintentionally without a passport. The Chinese officials believed me that the travel agent in Hong Kong took it. Or maybe it was taking a consulting assignment to the United Arab Emirates (UAR) in 1991. The officials in UAR invited me as the scientist J. L. Greger and were surprised when they saw the photo in my passport.

12. Would you rather be rich or famous?
Neither I’d pick powerful, actually only the power behind the throne. I’d pick that because there are a lot of things I’d like to try to fix.


In Ignore the Pain, epidemiologist Sara Almquist couldn’t say no when invited to participate in a survey of children’s health in Bolivia. Soon someone from her past is chasing her through the Witches’ Market of La Paz, and she fears her new colleagues are controlled by the coca industry of Bolivia.


J. L. Greger, as a biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her novels.

Website: www.jlgreger.com

Blog: http://jlgregerblog.blogspot.com

Amazon sales link for Ignore the Pain: http://www.amazon.com/Ignore-Pain-J-L-Greger/dp/1610091310/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385498311&sr=1-1&keywords=Ignore+the+Pain 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


This post was inspired by the book LEAN IN, by Sheryl Sandberg. It isn’t a review, because I haven’t actually read the book. In fact, the post was more inspired by some of the reviews of the book, which is apparently about the inequality women still face in the work force and how to overcome it.  It may even be broader than that, possibly about the inequality women face in life in general. 

It also, according to the book’s own blurb, gives examples of things women do to hold themselves back.  It seems there are some things people do that are seen as positive attributes in men but seen as negative in women.  I can guess a few–or at least, what I think would be included.  Perhaps cursing? Being direct? Standing to pee?

I am not trying to minimize the message of this book. And actually, I probably will buy it and read it because now I’m curious.  But so far, I haven’t seen myself personally affected by the inequality in the sexes in the work place.

I’ve had jobs varying from waiting tables (my first job), to dancing in a can-can show (my college job), to collecting child support (my law school job), to being an appellate public defender (my current job.)  In none of those jobs did I feel men were making more money, getting better promotions, or reaping any benefits I wasn’t by virtue of the fact that I was a woman.  In fact, some of those jobs were not even available to men, such as the can-can job.

While there was an unofficial Boy’s Club at the D.A.’s Office in New Orleans when I was a prosecutor in the late ‘90s, Boys Club is probably a misnomer.  The group of the elite was not at all limited to men.  It was limited only by one’s ability to suck up.  Thus, anyone willing to kiss enough booty would be granted privileges.

The odd thing about the elite group was that sometimes they got screwed by the bosses as an inside joke.  The two male prosecutors who sucked up the most and spent the most time hanging out with the chief ended up getting assigned, together, to the absolute worst section of court that no self-respecting attorney wanted to get stuck in–a section where the female judge was crazy.  She soaked her feet– in pantyhose, mind you– in a water-filled foot spa that made noise and attracted gnats and made the entire courtroom smell like Fritos.  Her chambers were decorated with gigantic blown-up photos of her, and she had wigs lined up on her shelves where other judges had law reference books.

Worse than all of this, she hardly ever went to trial.  The two attorneys assigned to her section were in a contest to see who could do the most jury trials that year, 100 being the ultimate goal, a goal they were not going to reach in this section.  And when a case did go to trial, it was painful, with bad rulings, long, irrational comments that had nothing to do with the case at hand, and the judge playing solitaire on her laptop and staring at herself in a handheld mirror so much she would often ask for testimony to be read back to her by the court reporter because she had missed it.

So I can’t say that any of my past jobs were impacted by the fact that I’m a woman.  It could be I was just lucky in my job choices.  But reflecting on the equality or inequality of the sexes in the area of employment has me wondering if there is any truth to the theory when it comes to writers and writing. 

Do publishers judge female writers differently from male writers when they are considering a manuscript? Do more readers tend to buy certain types of books because they believe the writer is male than if the writer is female and vice versa?  Why do some female writers use gender non-specific names than their real name? Do they know something I don’t?

I can’t imagine sexism exists in the world of book publishing and book purchasing.  But maybe there is and no one has written a book about it yet.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sara Rose Salih- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am excited to welcome Sara Rose Salih to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you. 
I’ve been writing since I can remember, whether it was short stories, songs lyrics, poetry, novels or journaling. Writing has always been my number one passion. Besides writing, music is a very important part of my life; I don’t go more than a few hours without enjoying the tunes on my iPod. Lastly, I’m obsessed with everything teen! I still listen to boy bands, get a new pair of Chucks every fall, and love to capture that frenzied, fun and emotional window of time between childhood and adulthood in my writing.

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I am most definitely a dog lady for life.

3.  Tea or coffee?
I love caffeine in general, but if I had to choose I’d probably say tea. 

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando?
Boxer-briefs is always a safe happy medium.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
A “song” called “I was a Kid” when I was 4 years old. Hah! It had some super deep lyrics.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
I’ve always referred to myself as a writer, but I suppose I didn’t really feel like one until I decided to write my first book in 2011. 

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
Right now, my first book Tales of a Sevie.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
I’m sure I’ve got something much better but what comes to mind today is a childhood birthday party. When I was about 6 years old my dad dressed up as a witch for my party. It was suppose to be fun. My friends and I all had water balloons to throw at the “evil witch.” One of the girls ended up being so terrified she ran through our sliding glass door. It was a bloody mess and she had to get stitches. We were all pretty horrified; I can’t even imagine how she felt.

9.  How did you end up getting published?
I decided to self-publish my first book.

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
I’m not going to lie, probably food.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
I was once dared to go to a public pool in a boy bathing suit. I was like 9, but still. The best part was it was late July and I failed to notice the tan lines from my bathing suit top. I also didn’t exactly have a buzz cut. People totally knew, it was pretty embarrassing. I was very fortunate to have my best friend do it with me. I keep bringing up my childhood in this interview…*yikes*.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
I would rather be famous or “well-known” (that sounds a bit more humble, right?) I would rather be known for my work without being financially successful, than wealthy without a good well-known cause.


It’s the first day of junior high school. Imagine yourself lost, overwhelmed by new people (especially cute boys), scared of strict teachers, and nervous over the sudden changes from the comforts of elementary school. That’s the situation that hysterical Christina, scattered Daisy, and self-conscious Mallory find themselves in as they enter the intimidating new world of junior high school. Without the use of modern day technology (e.g. cell phones), the girls release their concerns in the form of handwritten notes to their fourth bestie, Summer. Discover the pressures they face, boys they date, laughs they share, and obstacles they overcome as they survive their first year of junior high in Tales of a Sevie, the first book in the new series, Life As We Note It.

Find out more about me at:





Purchase my book at www.Amazon.com

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Some locations breed intrigue. The steamy and seamy sides of New Orleans have been featured in many novels. Think about: Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes, Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, The Pelican Brief by John Grisham, and Jambalaya Justice by Holli Castillo. None of these novels would have resonated with readers if they were set elsewhere.

Similarly it’s hard to generate a more creepy setting for horror novels and mysteries than the slums of Victorian London as a dense fog blankets the foul cobblestone streets.

Other locations breed nostalgia for a happier or perhaps simpler time. Western fiction can be set in a number of states (Kansas, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, or New Mexico), but generally the setting is the same – a spare, dry land that exudes loneliness. The protagonist generally looks like the land. He’s spare, often almost gaunt, dry with little to say, and independent because he has to be to survive on the land.

Occasionally a location resonates with a writer and suggests a story. That’s what happened to me several years ago when I climbed the narrow stone steps to the roof of Iglesia de San Francisco in La Paz, Bolivia and looked down on the Witches’ Market. I thought of so many “what if” questions as I compared the chaotic, colorful scene below with the cemetery-like roof.

The availability of coca everywhere, the press accounts of deplorable conditions in the silver mines of Potosí, and the lurid stories of life in San Pedro Prison as detailed in the best seller Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America’s Strangest Jail presented me with more scary questions about Bolivia. I added to it public health data on the poor indigenous people of Bolivia and a little bit about the politics in modern Bolivia. Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, is the first indigenous person to be elected to lead a nation in South or North America in modern times. Then I spun a story.  The net result is Ignore the Pain, my new medical thriller.

In Ignore the Pain, epidemiologist Sara Almquist couldn’t say no when invited to participate in a survey of children’s health in Bolivia. Soon someone from her past is chasing her through the Witches’ Market of La Paz, and she fears her new colleagues are controlled by the coca industry of Bolivia.

I think this story is scary because it is so realistic, but maybe it is because Bolivia is such an interesting character.

Please note: I enjoyed my visit to Bolivia and would recommend it to adventurous travelers.

J. L. Greger, as a biologist and professor emerita of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, enjoys putting tidbits of science into her novels. To learn more, check out her website www.jlgreger.com or blog www.jlgregerblog.blogspot.com 

Ignore the Pain is availabe on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Ignore-Pain-J-L-Greger/dp/1610091310/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385498311&sr=1-1&keywords=Ignore+the+Pain

The previous novels in this medical thriller/mystery series: Coming Flu http://www.amazon.com/Coming-Flu-J-L-Greger/dp/1610090985/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363872699&sr=1-1&keywords=Coming+Flu 

and Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight http://www.amazon.com/Murder-New-Lose-Weight-ebook/dp/B00DFCC3IM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1372715439&sr=1-1&keywords=Murder%3A+A+New+Way+to+Lose+Weight are also available at Amazon.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Michael A. Black: Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I am pleased to welcome Michael A. Black to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
I’ll steal that line from the old Bill Murray movie by saying that “chicks dig me because I seldom wear underwear, and when I do it’s usually something really wild.” Seriously, I’m a very private person, it takes a while to get to know me, and I like to help people.

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I’m both, actually. I’ve had a variety of both dogs and cats as pets and companions, but at present I only have cats. Dogs require more attention and I’m not in a position where I could give one the care it needs. Cats are more independent and are more adaptable to my current life.

3.  Tea or coffee?
Again, I like both. Coffee in the morning is preferable, but there’s nothing like a cup of tea in the afternoon to relax and contemplate the day. 

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
Commando? Hey, I’m not that absent-minded. I wear briefs. 

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
I wrote my first short story in the sixth grade. It was a mystery with a private eye hero and a crooked cop for the villain. I kept badgering the teacher to let me write something other
than the “What I did on my summer vacation” type essay, and she told me one fateful Friday that I could write a story as long as I read it front of the class on the following Monday. I labored all weekend and finished it. After proudly reading it aloud in class the teacher summoned me to her desk, took the story, and scribbled D—Poor work across the top in flowing red script. “Don’t ever try this again,” she said. I was crushed, but little did I know that it was to foreshadow my entire writing career to come. I got my first assignment, deadline, and rejection all in the space of a couple days.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
After I got my first rejection slip—I just didn’t call myself a published writer.

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
I’m proud of all of them, but perhaps the one that meant the most to me was an article I wrote on preventing police suicides called “Darkness, Come Take My Hand.” I wrote it in the hope that it would acquaint people with the danger signs of someone contemplating taking his own life as my ex-partner on the force did. I was the last person to talk with him and missed all the clues.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?

There have been a lot of them. Getting shot at wasn’t as scary at the time as it was afterward, thinking about it. Most of the time I didn’t think about the danger when it was happening. I almost got dumped over a second story railing during a fight with a big ex-con I was trying to arrest, but once again, I can’t recall feeling fear until after it was over.

9.  How did you end up getting published?  
After about ten years of getting rejection slips, I decided to attend conferences and go to author signings to get advice on what I was doing wrong. It was a matter of getting through the University of Hard Knocks. I got one story back from a magazine with a few words scribbled on the return envelope: Close, but no cigar. Too long. Try again. I immediately revised and tightened up the story and sent it off again. It was accepted and became my first published work.

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
I hate zombies. I’d mow through them like they were dead. Oh wait, they’re supposed to be, aren’t they. Actually, I would call Brad Pitt.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
The fine line between daring and stupid is sometimes hard to discern. I’d have to say it’s between using both hands to pull myself up on top of a roof where a bad guy was holding a gun, to wrestling a razor blade out of the hand of a 300 pound mental patient in a small washroom of a half-way house.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
I’d rather be rich. Then I could buy my own fame. 


My most recent novel is Sleeping Dragons, which is a Mack Bolan Executioner novel. The Executioner series was begun in the late 1960s by author Don Pendleton, but has evolving and continued to this day. Although Pendleton passed away in 1995, the publisher, Gold Eagle (Harlequin) has continued the series with several new authors. In Sleeping Dragons Bolan is sent to Hong Kong to investigate the “accidental death” of a CIA agent and finds that some Libyan terrorists are trying to acquire a devastating binary nerve gas, known as the Sleeping Dragons, from the Chinese gangsters and military. Bolan must face an array of Triad goons as well as PLA soldiers in his effort to keep the gas from being used in Tripoli as an international humanitarian mission, led by a beautiful female movie star, is about to begin.

Website: www.MichaelABlack.com

Blog: The Ladykillers Blog (http://www.theladykillers.typepad.com/)

You may purchase my works from any bookstore, Amazon.com, or directly from publishers Oak Tree Press (www.oaktreebooks.com/Shop OTP) and Crossroad Press (www.crossroadpress.com). I also have a new e-book, Dark Haven, available on Amazon.com. I also have three audio books available on Amazon or directly from www.booksinmotion.com

Michael A. Black is the author of 20 books and over 100 short stories and articles. He has a BA in English from Northern Illinois University and a MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. He was a decorated police officer in the south suburbs of Chicago for over thirty years and was awarded the Cook County Medal of Merit for his police service before his retirement in 2011. His most current books are Sleeping Dragons in the Mack Bolan Executioner Series and Pope’s Last Case and Other Stories.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunny Frazier- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I welcome Sunny Frazier to Twelve Question Tuesday. 

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.
I served my country during the Viet Nam war (Navy).
I have been doing astrology for 43 years.
I worked 11 years with an undercover narcotics team. 

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
With 12 cats currently in residence, I think it's safe to say I'm a feline person.

3.  Tea or coffee?
Tea. English or Irish Breakfast tea.

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
Do granny panties count? So comfy.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
A story my older sister needed for a class assignment. She cheated--and then became a nun.

6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
When I got my own column in the high school newspaper. I was the editor of the Tiger's Voice.

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
A children's book that has yet to be published.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
I nearly got thrown into prison in Haiti for taking a photo of the armory. The people in the Iron Market rioted and got me out of there.

9.  How did you end up getting published?
Two friends and I collected our prize winning short stories and co-published with Fithian Press. The book is calleld "Valley Fever: Where Murder Is Contagious."

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?
I'd be food.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
Ran across the tarmac, barricaded the luggage door of a plane in Bogota, kicked a Colombian guard while my friend searched for our baggage with our passports and had to turn myself in to the JAG at my Navy base in Puerto Rico. We were NOT smuggling cocaine or emeralds. Total misunderstanding.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
Famous. Nobody cares if you're rich when you die.


A Snitch In Time, the third book in the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, explores the possibility of using astrology to profile a serial killer. The book will be out around Thanksgiving and will be available on Amazon.


Saturday, November 23, 2013


A friend recently read a Facebook status I posted and commented that she wished I could live inside her brain.  It made me realize that the distinction between writers and non-writers isn’t just that we write things other people don’t, but that we see the world differently.

I hear a chainsaw break through the sound of the wind chimes hanging from my porch one blustery, chilly morning.  My dogs stop, stare at the window, emit low growls.

My sister would dismiss this whole scene as a neighbor working on his house and tell her dogs to shut up.  To me it’s a psychopathic killer, making his way house by house, killing anyone he finds. He uses the chainsaw to cut through the front doors he can’t break into or kick down.  And then–

If you’re a writer, you can imagine what comes after the “and then.” 

As writers, nothing we see, hear, or otherwise experience, can be taken at face value.  A speeding driver isn’t just an obnoxious danger to the road–he is a spy on a mission, a man rushing to the hospital to see the birth of his son, a robber eluding police.
That light moving through the sky is a Delta Airlines plane to some people.  To a writer it is a spaceship from another universe, the plane of a super hero or super villain, or an experimental, top secret mode of military transportation being tested.

To a writer, a cigar is never just a cigar.  Even Freud might be surprised at everything a cigar could be or might mean to a writer.

It isn’t just wild imagination that sets us apart–if that were the case, 2-year-olds  would be excellent writers.  It’s seeing realistic possibilities within our wild imaginations and being able to describe it and share it with others, to give these possibilities form, a plot, characters, and if we do it right, a theme, the whole raison d’etre of our work.

I don’t think my friend would really want me living in her brain. I think it would scare her to see things the way I see them.  Or possibly make her slightly schizophrenic, the way I sometimes feel.  But I really wouldn’t mind sharing some of my imagination with her, especially when I hear a thump and start imagining all of the possibilities that I know my friend can not.
If I can’t share my brain, at least I can share the crazy ideas that I can formulate into my stories, and hopefully entertain people in the process.  And if not, at least my life never seems as boring as it actually is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

John R. Lindermuth- Twelve Question Tuesday

Today I welcome John R. Lindermuth to Twelve Question Tuesday.

1.  Please tell me the three most important things people should know about you.   
JRL: I’m curious about everything. I’m not fond of change, but adaptable. And I’m patient. 

2.  Are you a dog person or a cat person?
JRL: Definitely dog.

3.  Tea or coffee?
JRL: I’ll drink both, but coffee (black and strong) is preferred.

4.  Boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, or commando? (Either what you prefer or what you prefer on others.)
JRL: Briefs, please.

5.  What was the first thing you ever wrote?
JRL: Aside from my name? I started drawing stories as soon as I could hold a pencil. When I’d accumulated some words, I started adding captions. Then at some point (pre-high school—I’m so ancient I can’t recall exactly when) I got the itch to emulate some of my favorite writers and began doing stories without pictures.

 6.  When did you finally decide to call yourself a writer?
JRL: Though I was already writing, my initial goal was to be either (or both) an artist and archaeologist. When our mutual uncle drafted me he didn’t need any artists and sent me to journalism school. That led to my becoming a newspaper reporter and later an editor. Stories and books were accumulating and I started seeking publication. A reporter is a writer. Somehow it didn’t actually feel official until that first magazine acceptance.

7.  Which of your works are you most proud to have written?
JRL: Writers love all their children. But one I especially favor is Watch The Hour, a historical novel about a police officer sworn to protect property of mine owners in the 1870s. His job makes him the enemy of Irish workers and he’s in love with an Irish lass.

8.  What is the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?
JRL: Visiting the DMZ in Korea.

9.  How did you end up getting published?
JRL: Perseverance.

10.  Would you be food or fighter if the zombie apocalypse were to happen?JRL: I don’t believe in zombies, so I’d probably end up as food.

11.  What is the most daring thing you have ever done?
JRL: Raising children as a single parent.

12.  Would you rather be rich or famous--and you could only have one-- and why?  The fame would be based on something good, not something like being the best serial killer or anything like that.
JRL: If I were rich I’d only buy more books or make more visits to Mexico and other favorite places. I think I’d prefer the type of fame that comes with having done something people respect.


Sooner Than Gold:

Sylvester Tilghman, sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, has a murder victim with too many enemies.

There’s Claude Kessler, who is found standing with a knife in his hand over the body of Willis Petry. There’s Rachel Webber, Petry’s surly teen-aged stepdaughter, who admits an act intended to cause him harm. Then there’s the band of gypsies who claim Petry is the goryo who stole one of their young women.

Website: http://www.jrlindermuth.net

Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/author/jrlindermuth

Blog: http://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Words Count

Some writers seem to write just to get attention.  Obviously, writing for the public presupposes on
some scale that the writer wants attention.  Whether posting on a blog or publishing a novel, the writer wants people to read it, which necessarily involves seeking and getting attention.

But some writers, particularly on public forums, seem to post things just to get others riled up, and to get responses from people with diametrically opposing viewpoints.  Take the newspaper forums.  In New Orleans, we have nola.com. To be honest, even the most innocuous response to a story causes a shit storm of responses on the site.

Some responses are from buffoons, for lack of a better, more technical category– you know, those people who will say anything just to cause trouble, whether they believe it or not. They will comment on race, sexual orientation, physical beauty, weight, especially if it has absolutely nothing to do with the story. These people never progressed emotionally beyond a sixth grade level.  Maybe in middle school other kids laughed at the comments because they wanted to fit in, or maybe 11-year-olds really do think some of those things are funny.

Then there are the politically motivated, the people who believe politics have something to do with everything.  A typhoon just struck the Phillippines? Someone will blame the inclement weather on the democrats or republicans. Earthquake? Must be something George Bush did. Or Obama.   

The religious zealots also crave attention in the forum world.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to offer prayers to a cause or victim.  What I find annoying are the comments like, “Katrina was a punishment from God.”  Or attempting to justify terrorists attacks by calling it God’s will.  Do these people think they are convincing people of their viewpoint on God? Or do they just want to aggravate the crap out of everyone else?

The worst, however, are the people who have to argue an opposing view point just for the sake of argument.  As a criminal appellate public defender, my job is nothing if not playing devil’s advocate, but I’ve seen people on list serves or public forums who always argue against what the masses seem to agree, even when the argument is nonsensical and unsupported by any actual evidence or facts.  These people can have no other goal than to get people to notice them.

The U.S. is a great country to live in, in part because of the rights we have.  Consequently, it’s kind of difficult to complain about someone exercising their First Amendment right to free speech.  The Framers' intent in drafting the original Constitution was actually to limit the government’s involvement and intrusion into our daily lives, not necessarily to give us extra rights.  The amendments contained in the Bill of Rights, adopted more than a decade after the Constitution was signed, was designed to enumerate specific rights the government could not infringe upon.

Interestingly, the Bill of Rights also includes the Fifth Amendment, which gives citizens the exact opposite right, the right not to speak.  While it involves the invocation of the right of an individual suspected of a crime not to be forced to incriminate himself, sometimes I wish the individuals who relied so much upon the First Amendment would take a hint from the Fifth Amendment.

(As a short aside, if you ever want to get freaked out, watch a British cop show.  When they arrest the suspect, the first thing they do is ask if the arrestee wants to say anything, and advise him that remaining silent can be used as evidence of guilt.  Whoa is all I can say about that.  But I digress.)

Normally, commenting on public forums won’t result in criminal charges so the Fifth Amendment wouldn’t be implicated.  New Orleans is anything but normal, however, and we have had U.S. Attorneys get in trouble for comments about pending cases they made on public forums using pseudonyms, so it’s always wise to be careful.

Did the U.S. Attorneys involved crave the same attention the way the buffoons and trouble makers on the forums seemed to crave attention?  Or did they comment in order to tip the scales at trial time, to give them a leg up in the prosecution?

At least one federal judge seemed to think the latter was correct when he set aside convictions that he felt were influenced by the U.S. Attorney’s comments on these same forums.  So commenting is not always innocuous and not always victimless.

As writers, we get attention whether that is our ultimate goal or not.  Our work should affect people, hopefully in a good way, but not necessarily so.  While everyone might not like what we’ve written, just as we sometimes might not be able to stomach comments made by racists, zealots, or just plain crazy people, it’s important to remember that our words matter, and can sometimes have effects we haven’t anticipated. 

While the government prosecutors involved in the posting scheme likely didn’t realize they would eventually get in trouble for posting their comments– mainly because they made up fake names they thought couldn’t be traced– anyone who puts anything in writing, whether in a book, on a forum, or in an old-fashioned hand-written note, should realize that someone on the other end is going to read it. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ron Corbin- Guest Blog

Ron Corbin
Today I am excited to welcome Ron Corbin, who explains his road to becoming a writer.

Path to Publication
by Ron Corbin  

Army helicopter pilot, Vietnam vet, police officer and helicopter pilot/instructor, school teacher and principal, counter-terrorism trainer for nuclear facilities, security consultant and lecturer, security director, guard service manager, crime prevention specialist, editor of a police training magazine, police academy training manager…these are the “hats” I have worn for the past five decades. On “face value,” it would appear that I can’t hold a job…right? But actually, events of my life have opened many doors of opportunity for new adventures. 

Interspersed with all these careers, I started college after completing my military career in 1969 as a 23-year-old. Being on a college campus as a Vietnam War “baby-killer” in the early 70s was not a good place to be. I worked my way through college without any student loans for the next eighteen years. In other words, I went to college for a long time, not a good time … no frat parties and such … and my wife saw to that.

As varied as my job professions have been, so are my degrees. I have an AA in Physical Education, a BA in Child Development, an MS in Elementary Education, and a PhD in Security Administration. I think that all I am really qualified to do is to teach counter-terrorism to those little “terrorists” running around pre- and elementary school.

I retired three years ago for the third time in my life, only this time it is for good. I was a sworn officer for LAPD, a federal security contractor, an honorary captain for New Orleans PD, and a civilian employee for Las Vegas Metropolitan PD. Although I hope that I never need them, maybe my ID cards from these agencies…these “get-out-of-jail-free” cards… might come in handy someday.

After working forty-seven years, my immediate goal upon retiring was to not drive my wife crazy and to keep from getting a divorce. Which this almost happened when I started reorganizing the freezer contents by meat type, arranging the dishware in the cabinets by color, and telling her how to do things more efficiently around the house. I couldn’t believe how she had done this without my help and advice for forty-five years.

Being home 24/7, I was having adjustment issues to my new world of not having deadlines and projects to meet on a daily basis. I was waking up early each morning, realizing that the alarm was not set, and that I could actually sleep-in. I was becoming a couch-potato, getting hooked on TV shows like “Army Wives” and “Dance Moms.” So, it was my wife, Kathy, who encouraged me to do something productive and to write a book. I think that she believed this would probably just get me “out of her hair” for a few months; it took only three before I finished.

Experiences of a Los Angeles 
Police Officer protecting 
and serving the various 
communities within the 
Los Angeles Metropolitan area.
Although I have written short stories for several anthologies and have been a columnist for a magazine, I didn’t consider myself a good writer. Not wanting to be an embarrassing failure to family and friends, I thought that I would simply document some thoughts on paper. If nothing else, I’d staple at the top left corner and leave some readings for my children and grand-children. But through a mutual acquaintance and a social event, fortunately I was introduced to Billie Johnson, Publisher for Oak Tree Press. After sharing some casual conversation, she asked me to send her the manuscript that I had written. And now, thanks to her, I have my first book released…Beyond Recognition.

In my military flying career, I had experienced a complete engine failure (at night), an in-flight cockpit fire, loss of tail rotor control, and a couple bullet holes. In June 1976, I was instructing an LAPD pilot trainee when we experienced a loss of power while landing to the top of a mountain pad. Coming just four-inches short from making the pad, my trainee and I impacted and rolled down the mountain 167 feet, exploding in a ball of fire. Tragically he was killed, but I was more fortunate and walked away with nearly 70% second and third degree burns. 

Beyond Recognition is a memoir and expose` of my accident. It begins with a few police street stories that I encountered working as a patrol officer in LA. As a survivor of Hamburger Hill, I also incorporate a few combat incidents from my two tours flying combat missions in Vietnam. But overall, the book is a non-fiction account of the jealousies and animosities I encountered as a military-trained pilot in a civilian organization. It tells of my experience in the burn ward, a few of my rehab issues and my wife’s emotional ordeal, but mostly it’s a legacy of the misled post-accident investigation and false accusations by the chief pilot. It is also a story of sadness and survivor’s guilt.

However, now that my ego has been fed with that successful publication, I am concurrently working on two manuscripts. One is a short book for adolescents. It’s about growing up in a small, farming community in southeastern Kansas during the 40s and 50s. It will be titled, Why All the Elm Trees Died. If you like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer tales, then I think you will like this.

The other is a historical fiction account titled, Bullet Points. This is a murder mystery about a retired and widowed Los Angeles Police Officer, Russ Corbett, who moves back to his small home town in southeastern Kansas. He quickly finds himself involved in chasing a serial killer who is murdering some of Russ’ school classmates. The method used is a gunshot to the head, but no bullets are ever found in the victim.

My retirement is spent enjoying my family; wife, children and six grandkids. Personal pleasure comes from being a USO volunteer at the Las Vegas McCarran Airport, assisting troops and welcoming our heroes when they return from combat duty overseas. I like cruising, and occasionally am a guest lecturer on cruise ships in the subject matter of Personal Safety and Security.

Ron Corbin, PhD

Member of the Public Safety Writers Association (Winner of 2 Awards)

Member of the Wednesday Warrior Writers

Author of: “Beyond Recognition” - First Place Award Winner

Contributing Author of:

“We Gotta Get Out of This Place” (Anthology of Vietnam helicopter pilot stories)

“Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides” (Anthology of police stories)

“I Pledge Allegiance....” (Anthology of patriot and hero stories)

“True Blue--Police Stories by Those Who Lived Them” (Anthology of police stories)

“True Blue--To Protect and Serve” (Anthology of police stories)


Compared to other pilots in LAPD’s Air Support Division who had received their flight training from civilian instructors, Ron’s’ military training and Vietnam flying experience as a combat helicopter pilot goes beyond recognition. He immediately becomes the target of jealousy by the unit’s chief pilot, whose animosity leads him to do everything he can to undermine Ron’s skills.

After an aircraft accident that claims the life of Ron’s police pilot trainee, and one which puts Ron in the hospital with 70% burns, the Chief of Police assembles a Board of Inquiry into the cause of the accident. The chief pilot sees his opportunity to seek jealous revenge by feeding misleading and false statements to the investigators about Ron. The board’s investigation eventually turns into an exercise of “finger-pointing.”  But that quickly backfires as Ron exposes a department “cover-up” that has city attorneys scrambling to make a settlement with Ron and his trainee’s widow.

Available from Amazon.com and direct from Publisher.
Publisher: Oak Tree Press (2013)
ISBN 978-1-61009-070-4 ~~
Trade Paperback


Ron goes into great detail expressing his thought process, emotions, techniques used to evaluate and diagnose the various situations confronting him. Eventually, Ron was assigned to the Air Support Division as a helicopter pilot and later became an instructor. During a training session, Ron’s helicopter crashed killing his student pilot. Ron survived with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 70% of his body. It is hard to imagine the mental stress, pain and suffering he felt during his recovery in the burn center. Ron expresses his feelings on the emotional impact of the tragic accident, the findings of the Board of Inquiry, and the “CMA” attitude that various individuals had on him and his family.


Albert Ellis, FBI Special Agent - Retired 

"BEYOND RECOGNITION is a must read. 

If Michael Connelly or W. E. B. Griffin wrote non-fiction, you would think this is one of their books; however, it is Ron’s. I know, I have read this book once and can’t wait to read it again.  You will not put it down until you have worked your way to the last page, and then still want to know more."

Keith Bettinger, author of Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny, and End of Watch.