Category Archives: On Writing

So you wanna be a paperback writer?



(The New York Times is always a great source of news and (usually) thoughtful commentary on literary matters. I thought this brief overview of the differences between the two main types of paperback books out there — mass market and trade — might be of interest to readers and authors alike. So with the indulgence of our friends at the Times, here it is — and by the way, be sure to check out the Times’ various best-seller lists at the end of this post).


Besides being somewhat larger in size, trade paperbacks are generally printed on more expensive paper and with sturdier binding. Because they are more expensive to produce they are higher in price and often (not always) printed in smaller numbers. Unlike mass-market paperbacks, which are usually sold on racks, trade paperbacks are sold in bookstores (“to the trade”) and are shelved with their spines facing out, like hardcovers. Sometimes they are sold on display tables, lying flat so that customers can respond to their cover art. Trade paperbacks may be originals, which are not preceded by a hardcover edition, or reprints of hardcovers. A trade paperback, in short, is the book you’d want to be reading if you were sitting at Les Deux Magots and Simone de Beauvoir was looking straight at you.

In recent years, the distinction between mass-market and trade paperbacks has been eroding. So while content and genre no longer determine whether a book is a mass-market or trade paperback, the book’s size, the quality of its paper, the way it is displayed, its price, the way it is distributed and the place it is sold all go into the definition. R. R. Bowker, the company that assigns International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) to books published in the United States, has developed codes and identifiers that define which books are trade paperbacks and which are mass-market.

You may still wonder why we decided to separate the mass-market and trade best-seller lists. The reason is that mass-market books — no surprise — tend to sell in larger numbers than trade. A list based on the number of copies a paperback sells will usually be dominated by mass-market. (Similarly, advice and self-help books sell more than most general nonfiction, and they dominated the nonfiction best-seller list until they got their own property in 1984.) But the Book Review — like most review media — focuses on trade fiction. These are the novels that reading groups choose and college professors teach. On the paperback best-seller list for Sept. 16, the week before we switched to the new system, only 7 of the 15 entries were trade fiction, but the new list of Sept. 23 presents 20 trade paperbacks. The seven books that made the list the week before, including “The Kite Runner” and “The Alchemist,” are still there, near the top of the list. But now there’s also room for Irène Némirovsky’s “Suite Française” and Kiran Desai’s “Inheritance of Loss.” And there’s a fuller listing for mass-market novels and paperback nonfiction as well.


Thoughts in rhyme and prose by Robert F. McMeekin

A 2009 photo of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck as he makes his way through rows of officers at the Devonshire Division police station in Northridge in 2009. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer, Los Angeles Daily News)

Robert F. McMeekin grew up in Brooklyn, New York and went on to attend Syracuse University and Cal State University, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal State. Now a retired Los Angeles Sergeant of Police, Mr. McMeekin is married with three grown children.



How proud I am, how proud I be

To be retired from the LAPD

I have fondest memories of the Academy

Most of my classmates still remember me

I learned my craft in a radio car

I thank my partners who took me this far

From a shy wiseass from the streets of Brooklyn

I learned to deal wit crime and sin

The men I worked with thru years of strife

Are now good friends for now and life

There is a terrific bond you do cultivate

From all your partners who shared your fate

For all who read these thoughts in rhyme

I think you’ll agree we had a hell of a thyme




I woke up this morning and let my dog out the door

That’s when I saw a pretty lady leave apartment four

“Good morning” sez I, “Hello,” sez she

My dog then trotted over and jumped on her knee

“He thinks you brought him a treat”

“I have no treat, but it’s a nice way to meet”

The next morning I let my dog out at the same time

And there she was—so very pretty—it was a crime

As my dog jumped on her knee, she gave him a treat

“You’re gonna spoil him, now he’ll expect a treat whenever you meet”

“That’s okay,” sez she. “I’ll get even when you take me to dinner.”

“That’s fine with me—I can’t lose, so I’, the winner”

One year later she and my dog were friends for life,

Her and me were also friends but more importantly—man and wife



Back in the ’seventies, I was a sergeant of police assigned to Wilshire Division, working the night watch, PMs. One spring night, as a field supervisor, I was cruising along Olympic Boulevard just west of Western Avenue. A radio broadcast came out giving info on a 211 (robbery) that just occurred on Western, not too far away.

The broadcast gave descriptions of two male-black suspects, plus the make of their car and its license number.

As I approached Western Avenue, I turned north, reasoning that it was still early and the suspects would probably head towards Hollywood with their loot.

After about two blocks, I spotted the suspects in their car ahead of me.

I radioed my location with the request for backup, flipped on my overhead red lights and cut the suspects vehicle off at an angle. Using my car as a shield, weapon drawn, I ordered the suspects out of their car one at a time, driver’s side, hands up.

Both suspects complied when they saw me with my shotgun pointing at their heads. At this time, several police units arrived at the scene and took custody of both suspects. Policy dictated that supervisors turn over custody of arrestees to a field unit for arrest booking and reports.

I then continued on my shift as a field supervisor.

At end-of-watch, EOW, I drove to the station, gathered my gear, and headed to the watch commander’s office to go off duty. As I entered the w/c’s office, change of watch was taking place as the morning watch supervisors and w/c relieved the night watch supervisors and w/c.

There were six sergeants, two lieutenants, and several police officers in the office as I entered. Much to my surprise and delight my contemporaries and supervisors soundly applauded me!

I was officially relieved and was the man of the hour. To be truly recognized by my peers and supervisors was the proudest moment of my life.

I never forgot it.


LAPD authors…

I would like to plug my fellow retired LAPD authors, so I am listing their works below:


The Oasis Project by Art Adkins  (May 17, 2010)  $14.00

Power Grid by Art Adkins  (Sept 10, 2010) $14.99 – Kindle $2.99

A Dozen Deadly Roses by Kathy Bennett  (Jun 4, 2011) Kindle $2.99

A Deadly Blessing by Kathy Bennett  (Apr 8, 2012) Kindle $2.99

Sand Against Time by Paul Bishop (1990) Hardcover (used) $24.95

Chapel of the Ravens by Paul Bishop (Oct 1992) Hardcover $18.25 Paperback $4.87

Croaker: Grave Sins by Paul Bishop (Jun 28, 2011) – $2.99 Kindle

Bluff City Brawler (Fight Card) by Heath Lowrance, Jack Tunney, Mel Odom and Paul Bishop (Sep 1, 2012) – $2.99 Kindle

Felony Fists (Fight Card) by Jack Tunney, Mel Odom and Paul Bishop (Nov 11, 2011) – $0.00 Kindle

Get Hit, Hit Back (Fight Card) by Jack Tunney, John Kenyon, Paul Bishop and Mel Odom (May 26, 2013) – $2.99 Kindle

Hot Pursuit by Paul Bishop (Jun 19, 2011) – $2.99 Kindle

The Other Side of Truth by Paul Kimball and Greg Bishop (Apr 3, 2013) – $9.39 Kindle

The Cutman (Fight Card) by Jack Tunney, Mel Odom and Paul Bishop (Nov 11, 2011) – $0.99 Kindle

Deep Water by Paul Bishop (Jun 19, 2011) – $2.99 Kindle

Penalty Shot by Paul Bishop (Jun 23, 2011) – $2.99 Kindle

Welcome to the Octagon (Fight Card MMA) by Jack Tunney, Gerard Brennan, Paul Bishop and Mel Odom (Apr 17, 2013) – $0.99 Kindle

Fight Card: Against the Ropes by Jack Tunney, Terrence McCauley, Paul Bishop and Mel Odom (Feb 11, 2013) – $2.99 Kindle

The Knockout (Fight Card) by Jack Tunney, Paul Bishop, Mel Odom and Robert J. Randisi (Dec 1, 2012) – $0.99 Kindle

Golden Gate Gloves (Fight Card) by Jack Tunney, Robert Evans, Mel Odom and Paul Bishop (Oct 21, 2012) – $2.99 Kindle

The Centurions’ Shield by Keith and Jake Bushey

Uniform Decisions by John Caprarelli and Lee Mindham  (Dec 27, 20110 $11.80 – Kindle $7.99

Criminal Justice Administration by Clyde Cronkhite (Oct 15, 2007) $84.28

Law Enforcement and Justice Administration by Clyde Cronkhite (Jan 15, 2012) $126.95/$58.25pb

Fallen Angels by Connie Dial (Apr 20, 2012) $22.04 – Kindle $9.99

Internal Affairs by Connie Dial (Jun 1, 2009) $21.29 – Kindle $15.40

The Broken Blue Line by Connie Dial (Jun 1, 2010) $21.28 – Kindle $15.40

The Buffalo Rock by Bob Faulkner  (Aug 8, 2008) $30.00

The Warrior in Me by David E. Gray (Mar 9, 2010) $19.99 – Kindle $7.69

True to the Blue by David E. Gray

Eclipse of the Blue by David E. Gray (Oct 28, 2012) $29.99 – Kindle $3.99

Images of America – Los Angeles Police Department by Tom Hays and Art Sjoquist (Oct 10, 2005) $19.99

Black Dahlia Avenger by Steve Hodel (Apr 11, 2003) $11.18 – Kindle $0.99

Most Evil by Steve Hodel (Sep 22, 2009) $3.99 – Kindle $7.99

Black Dahlia Avenger II by Steve Hodel (Mar 13, 2012) $19.11 – Kindle $7.99

Thicker’n Thieves by Charles Stoker and Steve Hodel (Mar 13, 2012) $23.00 – Kindle $7.19

Islam and Barack Hussein Obama by Stephen M. Kirby, Ph.D. (Jul 20, 2010) $8.75

Letting Islam Be Islam by Stephen M. Kirby, Ph.D. (Oct 1, 2012) $18.18

Orphan’s Asylum by Mike Krecioch (Feb 20, 2008) $19.99 – Kindle $3.99

“G’d Up” 24/7 – The GHB Addiction Guide by Trinka Porrata (Jun 1, 2007) $34.99

War Stories Lived by a L.A. Cop by Robert E. Reynolds (Aug 1, 2012) $19.95 – Kindle  $19.95

Good Cop Dead Cop by Bob Ruchhoft and Phil Smith (Apr 4, 2011) $13.95 – Kindle $4.99

The BCMC – The Big City Motor Cop by Gary Smith (Jul 29, 2009) $19.99 – Kindle $9.99

Hide and Seek – The Warrant Game by Gary Smith (Apr 6, 2011) $19.99 – Kindle $9.99

Casey Teel by Dale Sprinkle (Sep 29, 2011) $28.95/$17.95pb – Kindle $3.99

The First Crime Scene by Frank Tomlinson  (Oct 17, 2009) $19.99

No One Escapes by Frank Tomlinson  (Nov 24.2011) $18.99

The SWAT Pioneers – A History of the LAPD’s SWAT Program 1965-1972 by Rik Violano (Jan 1, 2006) $30

To Ride a Hurricane by William L. Walker  (Mar 3, 2008) $28.80 – Kindle $15.95

To Ride a Hurricane II The Redemption by William L. Walker (Dec 6, 2011) $29.95 – Kindle $29.95

Gene Roddenberry’s “Earth Final Conflict” (Bk. 1) by Gene Roddenberry (Out of Print)Gene Roddenberry’s “Earth Final Conflict” (Bk. 2) by Gene Roddenberry (Out of Print)

THE MAKING OF STAR TREK : The Book on How to Write for TV! by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry (Jul 1, 1970) (Currently unavailable)

Star Trek 5, The Rift, Chain of Attack, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Deep Doma by Peter David, Gene DeWeese, Gene Roddenberry, David Dvorkin, Melinda James Blish (Jan 1, 1972) (Currently unavailable)

The Star Trek Reader I by James Blish and Gene Roddenberry (Sep 1976) Hardcover $30.48

Star Trek: The New Voyages by Sondra Marshak, Myrna Culbreath, Gene Roddenberry and Cast of Star Trek (1976) Paperback $39.99

The Star Trek Reader II by James Blish and Gene Roddenberry (Apr 1977) Hardcover $11.65

The Star Trek Reader III by James Blish and Gene Roddenberry (Aug 1977) Hardcover $12.99

The City on the Edge of Forever (Star Trek Fotonovel, No. 1) by Harlan Ellison and Gene Roddenberry (Nov 1977) Paperback $8.30

Where No Man Has Gone Before (Star Trek Fotonovel, No. 2) by Samuel A. Peeples and Gene Roddenberry (Nov 1977) Paperback $47.99

The Star Trek Reader IV by James Blish and Gene Roddenberry (Mar 1978) Hardcover $20.93

The Devil in the Dark (Star Trek Fotonovel, No. 9) by Gene L Coon and Gene Roddenberry (Jul 1978) Paperback $10.00

Day of the Dove (Star Trek Fotonovel No. 10) by Jerome Bixby and Gene Roddenberry (Aug 1978) Paperback $40.56

All Our Yesterdays (Star Trek Fotonovel #6) by Gene Roddenberry (Sep 29, 1978) Paperback $14.99

Amok Time (Star Trek Fotonovel, No. 12) by Theodore Sturgeon, Gene Roddenberry and DeForest Kelley (Oct 1978) Paperback $39.95

A Piece of the Action (Star Trek Fotonovel #8) by David P Harmon and Gene Roddenberry (Nov 24, 1978) Paperback $10.00

Star Wars The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry (1979) Hardcover (Used) $0.88

Star Trek the Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry (1979) Paperback $13.46

Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry (Jan 1, 1980) Paperback(used) $1.21

The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry and Susan Sackett (Feb 29, 1980) Paperback $81.52

Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry (Mar 28, 1980) Paperback $15.85 Hardcover $84.40

The Making of Star Trek by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry (1986) Paperback $19.99

Envoys of Mankind: A Declaration of First Principles for the Governance of Space Societies by George S. Robinson, Harold M. White and Gene Roddenberry (Nov 1986) Hardcover $17.00 (Collectible)

Star Trek Novel by Roddenberry (Apr 2, 1987) Paperback $15.85 – Hardcover $19.99

Star Trek: the Making of the TV Series by Gene Roddenberry (Sep 12, 1991) Paperback $66.64

GENE RODDENBERRY: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry). Engel, Joel (1994) Hardcover $44.95


Errand of Fury by Gene Roddenberry Kevin Ryan (2007) Paperback $4.98

Star Trek, the Next Generation: Before Dishonor by Gene Roddenberry Peter David (2007) Paperback $12.05

Star Trek Vol.1 (Graphic Novel) Gold Key (The Key Collection) by Gene Roddenberry (Jun 30, 2011) Kindle $6.99

Star Trek Vol.2 (The Key Collection) by Gene Roddenberry (Jun 30, 2011) Kindle $4.61

Star Trek Vol.3 (The Gold Key Collection) by Gene Roddenberry (Jul 14, 2011) Kindle $8.99

Star Trek Vol.4 (The Key Collection) by Gene Roddenberry (Jul 14, 2011) Kindle $8.99

Star Trek Vol.5 (The Gold Key Collection) by Gene Roddenberry (Jul 14, 2011) Kindle $8.99

Out my window…

The view out my window.


I am gazing out my office window at the Pacific.  It’s four o’clock and the sun finally has burned through. Whitecaps glisten about five miles offshore. The wind has yet to reach the beach, a normal occurrence along the southern Oregon coast. It’s a pleasant Sunday; the nip of fall is in the air, to be expected. It’s Labor Day weekend.

Quiet times like this I thoroughly enjoy life. It is a time to relax, to put worrisome thoughts out of my mind. Tomorrow, although a holiday, will start a new week and bring new challenges, hopefully easily surmountable.

My Sundays have not always been so idyllic. For too many years, actually decades, I dreaded this hour on Sunday afternoons, because it meant being taken away from my mother’s arms and being delivered to a foster home over the hills, far away.

Being a working, single parent, Mother had little choice but to have me cared for on weekdays. I never fully understood being “farmed out” until I became a dad.

In my novels, Mike Montego shares that difficult part of my life. Some of what I experienced in those days is revealed in my fiction. Still, Mike is not Jess Waid.

As a young boy, like so many kids, I read a lot of books suitable for my age: Bambi, Call of the Wild, Robinson Crusoe, Smokey, White Fang, Zane Grey’s many westerns, any story that would take me away from reality. As a result, I dreamed about being a writer who told stories that transported the reader away from his or her current circumstances, especially if they felt lonely and/or unhappy.

When I took up writing, rather late in life, it was as a hobby. I soon found it gave me a means to fantasize and reshape earlier parts of my life to my liking; not my police career, even though I write police procedurals, but other experiences where I had either screwed up, or had not taken full advantage of whatever life threw at me.

Writing allows me to recapture those fleeting moments. For me, writing is a discrete form of daydreaming . . . something I did way too much in my pre-college days, mostly because I was bored in school.

Three years in the armed forces, however, changed that. I had to perform

After boot camp I was sent east to the Army Information School on an island in the Sound just off New Rochelle, New York. Then I shipped out to West Germany, where I was sent to the Seventh Army’s NCO Academy in Munich. The training in both schools was academically intense, with very little physical exertion.

The best part of the NCO Academy was the three-day weekend break we got. It occurred during the Oktoberfest. Munich had turned 800 years old that year. That’s a story in itself. As is the marriage that ensued.

Mike shares a bit of that time in my life in that he, too, gets married, but literary license allows me to modify what I experienced and have fun reshaping the scenarios Mike Montego lives.

At writing seminars one constantly hears, “Write about what you know.” I can’t disagree, but for young people with a desire to become authors, I suggest this: do not wait to write. Take notes. Write about what you’ve encountered in your young life, it might bring about an appreciation you otherwise might miss. Everything that happens to you is a memory, sometimes a pleasant one, sometimes not. Write about them.

It’s those events that often make great stories. Besides, it’s fun to fantasize about them.