PAMELA CHARTRAND – You Are Never Too Old

I got the writing bug in second grade, after writing a poem that the teacher loved and asked me to read to the class. I still remember classmates’ encouraging comments on the playground afterward. Writing seemed pretty cool!

I majored in English in college and thought about becoming a novelist, but it seemed too uncertain a profession. Then I moved to Silicon Valley in the early days of the tech boom and became a technical writer. After over a decade of high tech, I traded in my steady paycheck to become a licensed therapist, which I love and still practice today.

While my love affair with writing never left, I wasn’t a very nurturing partner. Over the years, I started a few novels. I wrote the first few chapters of a couple of “self-help” books and the occasional magazine article when I was “in the mood.” Mostly, I didn’t write much – I was busy finding my place in the world. Besides, if I’m perfectly honest, writing wasn’t fun, and I was frustrated and depressed when I sat down to the page because I didn’t know how to finish writing a book. I could never figure out what came next in the story. The first chapters flowed, but I hit the wall and stopped writing. I expected it to be as easy as that first poem I wrote in second grade.

But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t ignore that niggling voice in the back of your head that says “write.” Especially when you have a friend looking out for you.

This friend knew of my interest/frustration in writing, and she knew that I even had an idea for a novel in mind. So she encouraged me to go with her to a writing class at Stanford University. At the time, I was sixty years old. I had no plan to become a novelist. But it sounded like a fun thing to do on a Saturday, so I said Yes.

My first Stanford instructor wrote, “Your subconscious knows more than you do” on the whiteboard. As a psychotherapist, this completely resonated with me. What she was saying was that I didn’t have to know what came next, that I could leave that up to my subconscious and ultimately to my characters. I excitedly thought, “Maybe THAT’S how I’m going to finish a novel!”

I jumped into writing with both feet. Over the next couple of years, I took other classes at Stanford. I took seminars and did something I hadn’t done since I was a child – I went to camp – a five-day writer’s camp. I bunked with a stranger, who became a friend. I learned new things, and I wrote.

One “hallelujah!” moment was learning about plotters and pantsers and discovering that I’m a pantser! No wonder I never knew what happened next! I never would, and now I felt freed from the quicksand!

I took a “Novel in a Year” class and finished a book. I revised and rewrote it. I sent it to beta readers and incorporated their wise comments. Friends and family read it, and I sent it to two professional editors. Everyone loved it except the agents.

After thirty rejections, a few agents were kind enough to send encouraging ideas, but with the last really nasty rejection, which included “I don’t like your main character, and I don’t like your writing,” I gave up. I put the manuscript “in the drawer” and returned to quilting!

But unlike in decades past, I couldn’t stop thinking about writing. I guess that when you finally nurture something, the niggling voice becomes more persistent and more demanding. And it brought me a new idea for a story.

It took me well over a year to write the novel, but by then, I had a group of people who would help me when I was stuck, or something didn’t work. I rewrote, revised, sent it out again for critique to editors, and finally had something I thought MIGHT work.

By then, I was in my mid-sixties and wondered if I wanted to go through the rejection process. I wondered if Indie was the way to go. But only briefly. Instead, I set myself a goal of one hundred rejections and began the tedious task of preparing queries and looking at agents’ wish lists — preparing for the day I would send out my queries.

Then, I began to hear horror stories from writers about their experiences with agents and ultimately not getting a book deal.

Several of my Sisters-in-Crime buddies had great success going Indie. They encouraged me to try, and after looking into it, I hired a marketing coach and a cover designer. I was advised to enter the intimidating world of self-promotion. I didn’t want to be on social media, set up and manage a website, or learn formatting software. Whatever it was, I resisted. And I routinely asked myself if I was too old. But I persisted even when I didn’t think I could ever learn how.


And as I could see seventy approaching a few stops down the tracks, I became an Indie writer. Amazingly, my novel, The Herbarium, sold well, had tons of great reviews, and wonderful comments from readers asking for a sequel. And as a side thrill, Tantor Media acquired the rights to the audiobook version. I received an advance and now have an “entertainment attorney.” The second book in the series, The Stone of Time, has just been published, and I’m working on the third. And maybe I’ll open the drawer and dust off the first novel!

If you are on the fence, think you are too old, don’t have the skills, or aren’t sure how to finish a novel, be true to that writer’s voice, no matter how small or fragile. After all, you are never too old to learn new tricks!!

Website: Pamela Chartrand
Facebook: (1) Facebook

Links to novels:
The Herbarium (The Herbarium Chronicles)
The Stone of Time (The Herbarium Chronicles)



  1. Kathy McIntosh

    This is a wonderful statement about finding your way and pursuing your dream. Your success has inspired this over-70 indie author to keep at it! Yay, you!

    • Pam

      Definitely keep at it, Kathy! I’m so glad my story encouraged you! And thank you for your comment. Yay for you, too! Pam

  2. Donnell Ann Bell

    Pamela, I love this blog. What an intelligent comment from your professor “Your subconscious knows more than you do.” That falls in line with the well-known quote, “I write to know what I think. And just for the record, technical writers make the very best novelists (and, no, I do not belong to this esteemed group.) 🙂 Lovely to “meet” you. Keep writing.

    • Pam

      What a lovely comment, Donnell Ann. My professor’s comment was a game-changer for me and sent me on a path I would never have imagined. Thanks for taking the time to write. Pam

  3. Ginny Burns

    As a senior writer myself, I identify with your story, Pam. After retiring from my long career in corporate communications, I finally had time to write the novel I always wanted to write. I’m still working on it with my critique group, and have yet to send it out to any agents. Your story gives me hope that someday (hopefully soon) I’ll become a published author like you!

    • Pam

      Hi Ginny (fellow tech writer)! Glad you have a critique group. It makes all the difference. You can never have too many writing buddies! Good luck with your book! Pam

  4. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Pam, this post was inspirational. I wonder, though, did you ever start sending out the 100 queries to agents? I myself sent out nearly that many and found that some rejections hurt a lot more than others. That “I don’t like…” rejection you received sounds devastating and cruel. You show we can heal and come out stronger on the other side. Thank you.

    • Pam

      Hi Pamela Ruth, I did send out a few queries, but not with the same gusto as the first time. Once I decided to go Indie, I didn’t bother. Good luck with your novel. I hope it finds the right home! And thank you for your comment. Pam

  5. Cindy Johnson

    The PERFECT blog of me to read as I walk in your shoes — nearing 70, several rejections from agents, undecided about self-publishing, and wondering if I should just chuck the mystery series into a drawer and snap it shut with finality.

    I deeply appreciate hearing about your journey, Pam. It is so heartwarming to know that others have walked along this same path of uncertainty.

    • Pam

      Hi Cindy! I’m so glad this post came at the right moment for you. Whatever you do, don’t chuck the novel without being able to go back to it when you are ready! Listen to your writers voice…it’s the one that matters! Pam

  6. Kathy Crabtree

    So delighted to hear of your success-better than the praise of your second grade teacher! Looking forward to reading your books-

    • Pam

      Hi Kathy, I didn’t think anything could be as rewarding as that second grade experience. But finishing a novel and having people respond to it…kinda knocks it out of the park!! I hope you enjoy the books. Be sure to let me know! Pam

  7. Pam

    Thank you so much for your good wishes, Michael! And I’m so glad you found my story inspiring. I’ll definitely keep writing…it’s finally fun!!

  8. Victoria Kazarian

    Pam, this is such an honest, encouraging post. I was there the day you said, “That’s it. I’m going back to quilting!” I’m so glad you pushed through and that you’re seeing such success now.

    • George Cramer

      I’m not sure I was there for the quilting comment, but I certainly heard about it. I echo Victoria’s comment. Glad you kept writing.

      • Pam

        Thanks, George! And thank you for the honor of being featured on your blog! What you do is inspiring! Pam

    • Pam

      Thanks for the comment, Victoria. You are definitely among those I consider cheerleaders and writers offering wise counsel! You’ve been there almost since the beginning!

  9. Michael A. Black

    What an inspiring story… Pam, I salute your tenacity and sticking to your dream. Best of luck to you. Keep writing.


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GEORGE CRAMER – Shares His Latest Work

The first book in the Hector Miguel Navarro Series, New Liberty,  is available from many sources. I’m taking this opportunity to share a teaser and Chapter 1.




Outside Phoenix, two gangs rule…

…and one police officer is caught in the middle.

How will he stop them?

Hector’s parents, wealthy east coast college professors, raised him to work towards making the world a better place. In New Liberty, Arizona, gangs have ravaged the city. As a young police officer who lost his mentor, he struggles with the question.

Why did his partner kill himself?

Across town, a small sickly-looking man approaching fifty is about to make a move. DeShawn “The Knife” Galloway has a reputation as a contract assassin who prefers to kill with the Japanese Tanto. And It’s time to take control.

The war will start on his terms.

In a world of human trafficking, drugs, and violence, two people’s lives are about to be intertwined in a way where only one can survive.

But this story isn’t all black and white.

This dark urban crime novel will grab you as it reveals far more than just greed and power. This one will keep you turning the pages.

A Hector Miguel Navarro Novel

And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and
Hades followed him. And they were given authority . . . to kill with sword
and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. Rev. 6:8


They were alive moments ago.

“I told you to use the GPS. Why’d you buy a Lexus if you aren’t going to use the gadgets?” The old woman chides her even older husband.

“The map program takes too long. Besides, the boy’s graduation isn’t until tomorrow.”

“I know, but we’re not even in Phoenix. We should have been there an hour ago. Admit it. We’re lost.”

“Okay. I’ll pull over and set the GPS. Will that make you happy?” The man was tired from the long drive. Even breaking the drive into two days from Oakland to the Arizona city was more than he should have undertaken at seventy. His wife had suggested they spend a few days in Los Angeles, maybe even visit Disneyland, but the old man had insisted. She had been right. I should have skipped poker with the boys this time.

“Now we’re lost, exhausted, and you finally agree with me. That doesn’t help much.” She was younger by a decade and had offered to help with the driving. The old man was always stubborn and refused to give up the wheel. “This neighborhood looks pretty sketchy. I don’t think we should stop here?”

“We’ll be fine. Besides, there’s no one around.”

A minute later, absorbed in entering the address in the GPS, it’s difficult for the old man with his arthritic hands and new trifocals. Hearing a banging on his side window, and without thinking, he hits the down switch.

“Hey, old brother, whatcha doing?” Standing next to the car door is a skinny kid, fifteen or sixteen. It’s hard to see his face. He’s wearing a dark hoodie with the front cinched down. His hands are jammed deep into the pockets.

“I’m checking my map. We’ll be going.”
“I don’t think so,” the kid says as his right hand appears. He’s holding a small pistol, barely visible in his large hand.

“He’s got a gun,” screams the woman.

“That’s right, Bro. You and the sister get out and walk away.”

The man may be in his seventies, but he’s not about to let a teenage punk rob him. Reaching to put the car in gear, he says, “No.”

The old man doesn’t hear the shot or feel the twenty-five-caliber bullet that passes through his skull and into his brain. The small lead slug comes to rest against the right side of his skull, ending his life. His wife screams as another teenager opens the passenger door and drags her out of the car. Drawing her head back exposes her neck. She sees the Ka-Bar. The blade, dull and heavy, is meant for work, not slicing throats. As the boy saws her neck open, cutting the carotid arteries, blood gurgles until she is dead.

“Don’t get blood on the seat,”

“That’s why I pulled her out. What about the old dude?”

“He didn’t bleed much.”
* * *
Now that they have killed the old couple, they aren’t sure whether to run or take the Lexus. Their problem worsens when three men emerge from Ernesto’s Pool Hall.

“What’re you doing?” demands Jerome. “Geronimo” Dixon. The easily recognized president of the 4-Aces. Even at fifty, he is an imposing figure towering over the men behind him. The man stands six feet five and carries three-hundred pounds—no fat—packed on a muscular frame.

The frightened shooter’s answer is a whisper, almost apologetic. “We jacked them for the Lexus. The old man gave us shit. We had to off him and the old lady.”

“Who the hell gave you permission to jack a car in 4-Aces territory?”

“No one, we didn’t. . .”

“Shut up and gimme the piece. What else you got?”

The boy hands over the small pistol and the other gives up the K-Bar, “All we got.”

Geronimo turns to one of the men standing behind him. “Get DeShawn.”
Within minutes, DeShawn “The Knife” Galloway is at his side—Geronimo motions for the young killers to stand behind the Lexus. Out of earshot, he hands their weapons to Galloway. “This’s going to bring a load of shit our way. Make the idiots disappear.”


“Forever.” The tone of Geronimo’s voice leaves no doubt.

“The old couple?”

“I ought to. If they weren’t innocent civilians, I would.” Geronimo lets out a sigh. “Leave them.

“Don’t nobody touch da bodies, nothing. No DNA to tie the Aces to this shit.”

Galloway calls the other men over and tells the first, “You drive. We gotta clean this up.” To the second, “Put the fools in my Escalade. You ride with me.”

Showing false bravado, the shooter speaks up. “Why?” Stepping close to Galloway, he looks down at the much older and shorter man and repeats, “Why?” adding, “I ain’t no fool, old man.”

Galloway raises his head and gazes into the face of the shooter. His expression is as lifeless as his eyes. The shooter does his best to maintain a defiant pose and succeeds for perhaps three seconds. His body begins to shake. The shivers betray the boy’s fear; without another word, he walks to the Escalade and death.

Here’s the link to the trailer created by Lisa Towles:





    Draws the reader right in…arresting dialogue.

    Kudos to you, George!

    • George Cramer

      Thank you Marijo. Glad we got your attention.

  2. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    George, your dialogue is gripping! The trailer spooks the hell out of me and the bible quote under the picture of the tiny book in your hand spooks down into the bones. Truly, well done. Best of Luck with NEW LIBERTY.

  3. Thonie Hevron

    This has my interest, George! I’ll be buying it so I can find out what happens.

  4. Donnell

    Intriguing George! And of course fearless creating. Congratulations!!!

    • George Cramer

      Intriguing and fearless are not words I would use to describe my work. WOW!! Thanks

  5. Michael A. Black

    I was privileged to be able to read an ARC of this one and enjoyed it immensely. i’d certainly recommend it, and enjoyed it so much I bought a copy at the PSWA Conference last month in Las Vegas. It’s the first book in what will no doubt be a great new series.

    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Mike. This is indeed high praise coming from you. Take Care & Stay Strong.

  6. Margaret Mizushima

    Plenty of action in the opening chapter, George! Great beginning! Thanks for sharing!

    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Margaret. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  7. Shelley Lee Riley

    What a great idea, a look inside. This first chapter showcases the depth of evil that lies in waiting for the most innocent among us. I was gripped by the sheer horror depicted on these pages. Explosive and compelling. I’m hooked.

    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Shelley. I wish I could take credit for the idea. A great friend suggested I make the post. But, thanks again.


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JAMES L’ETOILE – When Fiction and Reality Collide

There’s the devil you know and the devil within
—when the two collide; no one is safe.

James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an influence in his award-winning novel, short stories, and screenplays. He is a former associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, and director of California’s state parole system. Black Label earned the Silver Falchion for Best Book by an Attending Author at Killer Nashville, and he was nominated for The Bill Crider Award for short fiction. Dead Drop garnered a Lefty and Anthony Award and Silver Falchion nomination. Devil Within is his most recent novel. Look for Face of Greed, coming in 2023.

Hundreds go missing each year, making the dangerous crossing over the border. What if you were one of them?

That’s the back cover copy from DEAD DROP, my novel, which looks at border violence, border politics, and who is really caught in the middle of that struggle.

The impetus for the series came several years ago when I worked in the California prison system. I was leading an audit at a prison near San Diego when a very odd set of circumstances revealed themselves. The prison is near the border, and you can see “The Wall” from the yard. Undocumented migrants use the trails around the prison’s hills to make their way north.

The type of audit I was conducting was a stressful event for the administration at the prison. They want to make sure everything is running smoothly and got to great effort to make sure The Guys From Sacramento don’t find any security issues. When I arrived, the warden’s office was frantic for the most basic reason—they could not clear their count. That meant the official number of inmates the prison was supposed to have didn’t match the official records.

As you can imagine—this is a bad thing, and the warden had visions of his career crashing on the rocks.

They soon isolated the problem to the minimum facility, a smaller 250-bed unit housing low-risk inmates outside the main prison fence. After several more counts, they found they had one more person than they were supposed to have. Finally, they discovered the reason for the bad count. An undocumented migrant was so cold and so hungry he broke into prison for a warm place to spend the night.

How difficult was the crossing that breaking into prison was his best option?

That stuck in my mind as I wrote DEAD DROP. I don’t pretend to portray the migrant experience—that’s not my story to tell. But I can reflect on the desperation and hardship I witnessed for those leaving everything familiar to come to a strange new land.

That’s where DEAD DROP begins when Detective Nathan Parker discovers a series of undocumented migrants buried in the desert. The forces behind the murders might not be who you’d expect. We learn early on that Detective Parker’s partner was murdered by a coyote smuggling the undocumented over the border, and as you can imagine, that colors his perspective of the immigration issue. He follows the evidence to find his partner’s killer, only to become trapped on the other side of the border. He needs to rely on the undocumented to get him safely back home.

This first book in the Detective Nathan Parker series garnered a Lefty Award nomination for Best Mystery Novel of the Year, an Anthony Award nomination for Best Paperback Original Novel, A Silver Falchion Award nomination for Best Investigator Novel, and the Public Safety Writers Association awarded Dead Drop with the Marilyn Meredith Award of Literary Excellence as the best-published novel.

The sequel, DEVIL WITHIN, was released on July 18th. It takes the story further when Detective Parker finds a connection between a series of shooting victims—each of them held a role in an organization founded to help undocumented migrants make the crossing. Where there are vulnerable people, isolated from their own culture, predators line their pockets, offering hollow promises of jobs, housing, and hope—all at the expense of the most helpless. Parker soon discovers no one is exactly who they seem.

You can find out more at


  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    James, your book addresses an incredibly tough topic and a heartbreaking one. Thanks for bringing a touching dose of humanity to an issue that strains so very many while breaking the spirit and bodies of so many more we will never even know about.

  2. Peg Roche

    Congratulations, James! I’ll look forward to reading both. I enjoyed your presentation at PSWA this month!

  3. Vicki Weisfeld

    This sounds like a great read! Such a difficult subject, worthy of whatever attention we can give it.

  4. Lisa Towles

    Great interview and congrats on your successes!

  5. Margaret Mizushima

    I’m thrilled by the success of this series, James! Looking forward to seeing you soon at Bouchercon. Thanks for sharing your experience and talent with us!

  6. Robin Somers

    James, your series sounds (and looks) intriguing. Congratulations on your award and nominations! Sad stories set in a sacred desert place hooks me, especially fiction inspired by reality.

  7. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    I’ve read Dead Drop and it is great. The characters are real, the story is current and the settings vivid.

  8. Thonie Hevron

    Great to see you again at PSWA! Congrats on your well-deserved awards. I’ll be following up the second Nathan Parker novel soon. Can’t wait~

  9. Bob Doerr

    I’m definitely looking forward to reading them! James, it was great to meet you at the PSWA conference.

  10. Marilyn Meredith

    I have to get this one still. It is on the tope of my list.

  11. Michael A. Black

    I’m really looking forward to reading Nathan Parker’s latest adventure. Dead Drop was excellent and deserving of all the accolades it received. James is a fabulous writer, so if you haven’t read his stuff yet, don’t delay. You won’t be disappointed.

  12. Valerie Brooks

    James, fantastic ideas, themes, and story. You have the cred to write such stories and I thank you for that. We only hear what the news lets us hear and fiction often captures the heart and soul of a story that is missing with the media. Congrats on your success!

  13. Francelia Belton

    Hi James! Both of these novels sound like interesting reads! I’ll be sure to check them out. 🙂

  14. Pat Weill

    Looks great!

  15. Donnell Ann Bell

    James, what a fantastic impetus for a book! Congratulations on all your success! Well done. Thanks, George!


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JAMES T. BARTLETT – Journalist – Public Safety Writers Association Member

Originally from London, James T. Bartlett is the author of Anthony Award-nominated The Alaskan Blonde: Sex, Secrets, and the Hollywood Story that Shocked America, a true crime book reexamining a scandalous 1953 murder that began in Alaska and ended with a suicide in Hollywood.



As a travel and lifestyle journalist and historian, he has written for the Los Angeles Times, BBC, Los Angeles Magazine, ALTA California, High Life, Hemispheres, Westways, Frommers, Crime Reads, American Way, Atlas Obscura, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, Real Crime, Variety, Whitechapel Journal, Sunday Life, History Ireland, and Bizarre, among others.

He also wrote the Gourmet Ghosts alternative guides to Los Angeles and has appeared on Ghost Adventures and The UnXplained, while his short story “Death Under the Stars” features in the recent Sisters in Crime Los Angeles anthology Entertainment To Die For.

The Alaskan Blonde: In October 1953, Alaskan businessman Cecil Wells was shot dead in what his badly-beaten wife Diane said was a home invasion turned deadly, but then the police got a tip she was having an affair with Black musician Johnny Warren, and the murder became a national sensation. Seventy years later, The Alaskan Blonde reexamines this unsolved cold case.

My main job is as a journalist covering travel and lifestyle, but I have managed to carve out a small niche in true crime, as it was initially a big part of the two alternative Gourmet Ghosts guides I wrote about Los Angeles in 2012 and 2016.

I have only written one mystery short story, but I get to live vicariously in that world through my wife, Wendall Thomas. She has just finished Cheap Trills, her fourth book in the Cyd Redondo Mysteries series, and I am in awe of people like her who can create fictional stories out of their imagination.

Working in true crime means there is usually no need to create a killing, a suspect, evidence, or the complex machinations of how it gets solved by the end of the book. Life is not that simple, but history is bursting with real examples of murder and mayhem, lots of them unsolved or unresolved.

Also, as I am sure many PSWA members know, things happen in actual criminal cases that you could never write as fiction because people would not believe it. I came across a number of those with my recent book The Alaskan Blonde: Sex, Secrets, and the Hollywood Story that Shocked America, so buy me a beer one day, and I will tell you about them!

What brought you to writing? My paternal grandfather Jim – who died before I was born – was a respected daily newspaperman in England, where I come from, and that may be where the seed of my being a journalist/writer began.

Otherwise, it comes from being naturally curious. I like to meet people and want to know how things work – the stranger or more obscure, the better. To that end, I always try to write like I talk, with enthusiasm, and I try to write about things I am interested in and would want to read about.

That curiosity certainly led me to The Alaskan Blonde, which reexamines a sensational murder case that happened in Fairbanks in 1953 and ended with a suicide in Hollywood six months later.

What kind of research do you do? For The Alaskan Blonde, I came across a brief article about the murder in the Los Angeles Times archives while I was writing Gourmet Ghosts 2, and had thought: “Well, what happened next?”.

When I couldn’t find anything more substantial about the investigation on Google, I was hooked, so I initially requested police/FBI/archive files as a jumping-off point and then tried to track down living family members to ask them what they remembered about the case.

Being a complete outsider – not family, not from Alaska, not from America, not even born when the murder happened –helped, believe it or not. My English accent did too, but after meeting initial skepticism about why I cared about something that happened so long ago, I was astonished to find out that no one I talked to really knew what happened in 1953. It was simply not talked about and had even been brushed aside as Alaska fought for statehood.

Assembling as many pieces of evidence as I could, I went down many rabbit holes on the internet and, as is necessary, became somewhat obsessed with it all, but by the final chapter of the book, I felt that I could write what I think happened on the night of the murder.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? For The Alaskan Blonde, the hardest thing was interviewing family members and friends and then deciding what was necessary to go in the book, which, after much structural re-arranging, I felt needed a chronological narrative.

Most of the interviewees had been children in the 1940s and 1950s, and almost without exception, the shock waves from the murder still affected them today and had affected their entire lives – and that of their children, too. As such, I often felt uncomfortable and wondered why I was bringing up something so many of them still found it difficult to talk about who I was.

How long did it take to get it published? It took five years of work before the book was ready for people to read. After publication, I was relieved and pleased to get several supportive emails from those family members, thanking me for what I had done: they felt they could finally talk about something that had been a black hole in their history.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? The everyday life of a journalist is about finding and researching ideas, then pitching them in a way that intrigues an editor. The research and writing are the fun part; getting a paying gig is a challenge!

I tend to write at home, as I don’t like to be too far from teabags, milk, and a kettle, but just as often, you’ll find me at the library. Sometimes I’ll listen to music, as it can give me an energy boost and make me write like a demon, but just as often, I’ll wear noise-canceling headphones so I can have silence. I don’t have a set schedule, but I like to work late when the mood takes me. My wife prefers to write in the early morning, and we often pass each other like ships at night.

What are you currently working on? Most recently, I published a Gourmet Ghosts (Pocket Guide) featuring some wild Los Angeles true crime stories about a Catalina Island pirate, a 1930s “Bonnie & Clyde,” and the rumor that Jack the Ripper was in the City of Angels before he bought death to London.

As for my next book project, it may be another Fairbanks story (a suspicious suicide from the 1970s), but that depends on whether my friend at Fairbanks PD finds anything on microfiche that was in cold storage – literally.

You can find out more at and and email him at



  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Thanks for this, James. I enjoy learning about a book’s origin story. It’s also interesting how sometimes what we expect to work against us (like you NOT being from Alaska) ends up being a plus rather than a negative. Best of Luck with ALASKAN BLONDE.

    • James T. Bartlett

      Thanks Michael – they’re certainly easier for me than fiction, because the structure etc is already in place. And honestly, as we all know, there’s nothing more fascinating and strange than what people will do in real life…

  2. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like you’ve got a lock on those true crime mysteries, James. Best of luck to you.

    • James T. Bartlett

      Thanks Michael – they’re certainly easier for me than fiction, because the structure etc is already in place. And honestly, as we all know, there’s nothing more fascinating and strange than what people will do in real life…


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Eighteenth Annual Public Safety Writers Association’s Conference

This last week was the Eighteenth Annual Public Safety Writers Association’s Conference. Among the many accomplished authors there, I spent time with three friends from afar. It is always great to put real-life faces on our Zoom contacts. All three have been generous with their friendship, not to mention being awesome guests on my blog.

Peg Roche – Vicki Weisfeld – George Cramer – Sally Handley

SALLY HANDLEY – South Carolina

My introduction to PSWA came about when George Cramer contacted me to learn how his book, Robbers and Cops, could be considered for our Upstate SC Sisters in Crime Mystery Book Club. I invited George to be our moderator for the second quarter of 2023. In addition to his book, he chose books by two other PSWA members, Donnell Bell, and Michael  Black. As a result, many PSWA members attended our monthly book club that quarter. When I learned about their conference, I joined PSWA and registered to participate. I’m so glad I did. The panel discussions have been terrific, and I’ve met so many wonderful writers and public safety professionals. The conference was a great experience. – Sally Handley

Where to find Sally:

M.E. (Peg) ROCHE – Florida

I really enjoy and learn from George Cramer’s blog, and it wasn’t until I read his glowing report of the last PSWA conference that I learned of the Public Safety Writers Association. I immediately applied to join and registered for this year’s conference. Because my novels involve law enforcement characters, and my own experience is somewhat limited, I was thrilled to learn of this untapped resource. In addition, Mike Black wrote a wonderful welcome email to PSWA and encouraged my participation in the upcoming conference; I felt I’d possibly found my niche. This year’s conference has been a great experience, providing me with a wealth of information and the enjoyable opportunity to meet writers who share my goals. – M. E. Roche 

Where to find Peg:



Vicki was a member of the conference panel about The Art of Revision. Here she shares some of the panel’s conclusions.

The discussion, moderated by Frank Zafiro, began with a discussion of “pantser” versus “plotter.” While this often comes across as a divide between two groups of authors, in truth, most of those on the panel seemed to adopt a more hybrid approach. The pantsers, who love the thrill of discovery and the spontaneity of their process, sometimes have to take stock of where they are in a story and proceed with a bit more of a plan. The plotters, no matter how detailed their outline or how many post-its and 3X5′ cards they have created, often are open to ideas and directions they could not initially anticipate. Suffice it to say, whatever the chosen approach, the author must work out a way forward through the thicket of fictional possibilities that best suits them.

Much the same goes for editing and revision. Reading the manuscript multiple times, on the screen or aloud, focusing on different aspects (dialog, flow, language), using a critique group or beta reader—whatever it takes to give a manuscript the attention it needs. My novel, Architect of Courage, had numerous readers of all or a portion, plus a review of the policing aspects by a New York City detective whose specialty was terrorism. All this input is essential to shaping the final product like any other research.

Vicki did not mention that her novel, Architect of Courage, was awarded second place in the stiff competition for the best-published novel.

Where to find Vicki:

The PSWA is an association of writers existing to support people involved in creating content about public safety:

People with public safety careers who write stories, poetry, or non-fiction about their incredible experiences.
Mystery, thriller, and other writers who write about public safety characters and situations.
Publishers, editors, and other professionals

If you wish to learn more about the Public Safety Writers Association, follow this link  



  1. Peg Roche

    Thanks, George! It was your blog last year that prompted my joining and it was great to finally meet. Everything about the conference was wonderful and I feel I really learned a lot. Everyone was so welcoming. I’m already looking forward to next year! Peg

  2. Jim Christ

    Unhappily, I had to miss the late morning sessions on Sunday, including the one on blogging, etc. I wish I had been able to attend that one, for sure. I enjoyed meeting several talented authors, and I learned a great deal from the knowledgeable presenters and panelists. A big shout out to the skillful moderators for “my” two panels–Frank Scalise and Kelli Peacock. I also want to recognize Kelli for putting together an outstanding conference program. This was my first PSWA conference, but I’ve been to dozens of national conferences for administrators and school board members, and the PSWA’s printed program was one of the best I’ve seen.

  3. Bob Doerr

    George, Good seeing you again, and I second everyone’s comments on the conference and PSWA.

  4. Marie Sutro

    PSA sounds fantastic!!

  5. Marilyn Meredith

    George is a gem and good friend. Loved meeting these three authors in person at our wonderful conference.

  6. John Schembra

    Was nice to meet you all at the conference. Thanks for joining us in Las Vegas, and I’m glad you had a wonderful experience! Welcome to the PSWA!

  7. Barbara Hodges

    Loved seeing all of you. What talented authors.

  8. James L’Etoile

    Wonderful to meet all three of your guest bloggers at PSWA. I appreciated their enthusiasm and contributions on the panel sessions. George, it was great to see you recognized for your ongoing efforts and incredible support.

  9. Donnell Ann Bell

    I am so sorry I missed it! My goodness, George, are you really that tall? You’re towering over those women. Peg, Sally, and Vicki, congratulations! Hope everyone had a wonderful time and learned lots. Best,

  10. Thonie Hevron

    These three authors are indicative of the talent in the PSWA. I’m thrilled that each one of them has joined. They all bring a unique perspective and expertise to our group. Besides, they are nice folks!

  11. Jim Guigli

    Thank you, George.

    For Vicki: When is the editing finished? Someone said, “When you stop editing,”

  12. Michael A. Black

    My thanks to Peg, Sally, and Vicki for their participation at the conference and the panels. They were all outstanding. And thank you, George, for all that you contributed to the panels and the conference as well. George was awarded a PSWA Appreciation Award this year for his constant and unwavering support of authors on his incredible blog. He was also a big hit on the panel about AI. His participation on that one was done as a favor to me. Thanks, George. Stay strong.


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