FAQ / Recommendations

Are there educational opportunities in police/public safety or criminal psychology?

The Society for Police and Criminal Psychology has an extensive list.

My alma mater, the Wright Institute, offers a program in first responder psychology.

What are the best resources for first responders or first responder families?

I volunteer at the First Responders’ Support Network. FRSN sponsors six-day retreats for first responders with post-traumatic stress injuries and six-day retreats for their significant others and spouses.

Safe Call Now: a confidential 24-hour crisis referral service for first responders and their families.

1st Help: A free, confidential, searchable database dedicated to finding emotional, financial, and spiritual assistance for first responders.

Cop to Corporate: free advice and guidance for law enforcement officers who are considering moving to the private sector.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Anonymous, confidential help, 24/7.

What books do you recommend to first responders and their families?

Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement by Kevin Gilmartin addresses the dynamics that can quickly transform idealistic and committed law enforcement officers/employees into cynical, angry individuals who begin having difficulties in their personal and professional lives.

Increasing Resiliency in Police and Emergency Personnel: Strengthening Your Mental Armor by Stephanie Conn, PhD. Practical tips for officers, their families, and their supervisors.

Addiction and Recovery for First Responders by Drew Prochniak. A resource for emergency service personnel who struggle with substance abuse. Includes self-assessments and advice about seeking help and navigating recovery.

Hold the Line: The Essential Guide to Protecting Your Law Enforcement Relationship by mental health counselor and police spouse Cyndi Doyle.

The Dance of Anger and The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Goldhor Lerner. Two of my favorite self-help books.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman. John has written so many books it’s hard to select just one. Go to his website to find a clinician or download free self-assessment tools.

Flash Point: A Firefighter’s Journey Through PTSD by Christy Warren. A brave memoir that reads like a novel.

I want to write a novel/memoir, how do I start?

Read widely: find memoirs/autobiographies/novels that you love and learn from them. All writers are inspired by the work of others.

Join a group in your genre: I belong to Public Safety Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime.

Take a class, Get a writing coach.

Start small: a full-length book is heavy lifting.

Consider writing an article or a blog.

Read books about writing. My favorites are On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Try to write every day.

Writing is revision: Your first task is to get it all out on paper. Every writer writes a terrible first draft. I’m a pantser, I dive in before I know exactly where my plot is going. It’s inefficient, but it’s how I work. Some people make detailed outlines before writing a word. Find your own style. I have gone from hi-tech (using writing software like Scrivner and Plottr) to low-tech. Currently, I’m back to using 3×5 cards and highlighting as I write. Yellow for check this fact later (were his eyes blue or gray in Chapter 1?), green for what this chapter is about and from whose point-of-view, and scarlet for this section may need to be deleted.

Do you do workshops?

I am cutting back on traveling to devote more time to writing. I am happy to join virtual meetings with first responder and first responder family organizations, book clubs, and writers’ groups. I’m especially excited about presenting a workshop I call PTSD for Writers. I delve into rarely talked about psychological and cultural influences that will help writers build complex characters and avoid stereotypes.

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