C. M. Wendelboe: Author

Writers: Get It Right

by C. M. Wendelboe

A jet trail across the sky. Tire tracks in the sand. A Casio wristwatch. A fifty-star American flag. At first glance, they appear unrelated. But, in fact, they are all related: all things that I have spotted in western movies and all out of place for the era the movies depict. And all represent movies that have soured me on their directors.

Novelists are no different. Even name-brand writers make such glaring mistakes. As a writer of police procedurals and murder mysteries, I read a lot of other writers in these genres. A lot. I've found major mistakes in the way forensics and crime scenes are depicted, and how day-to-day police tasks are distorted. And I won't even mention how many writers get weaponry wrong.

Yet all these mistakes that distract from the story could have been prevented many times by simple internet searches or talking with law enforcement officers or attending a citizens' police academy that are popular across the country.

Do I put these book aside and abandon the author when I find these inaccuracies? With several authors I have, only because there were multiple mistakes throughout the book that changed my perception as a reader. With others containing a few errors, I have continued being a reader of that author.

This illustrates why it is so important for writers to "get it right." In public events that I do, I recognize what I call the 10 percent rule: if I am talking about a murder mystery I can count on 10 percent of the attendees being first responders or other law enforcement professionals. If I write glaring mistakes in my books, that could put off those professionals and they never would come back to me.

This is why I don't write in subgenres such as medical mysteries or legal mysteries or cozy mysteries set in New England. I'd just get things wrong.

I'll leave those mysteries up to other Encircle authors.

C.M. Wendelboe has written standalones and series including:

Spirit Road Mystery Series (Encircle Publications; Berkley Prime Crime)

Bitter Wind Mystery Series (Encircle Publications, OrangeSky Audio)

Nelson Lane Frontier Mystery Series (Five Star)

Tucker Ashley Western Adventure Series (Five Star)

The Man Who Hated Hickok (Five Star)

An Extralegal Affair (Speaking Volumes)

C. M. Wendelboe, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a prolific author of murder mysteries with a Western flair, as well as traditional Westerns.

He entered the law enforcement profession when he was discharged from the Marines as the Vietnam war was winding down. During his 38-year career in law enforcement, he served in various roles for several agencies. Yet he always felt most proud of "working the street." He was a patrol supervisor in Gillette, Wyoming, when he retired as a sheriff’s deputy to pursue his true vocation as a fiction writer.

C. M. Wendelboe (Portrait)

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