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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Oct 18, 2018

In this episode Mark chats with Dave Sweet and Sarah Graham about their new book SKELETONS IN MY CLOSET: Life Lessons from a Homicide Detective, an unorthodox police memoir taking readers on a ride-along like no other, revealing poignant truths about life and death, and how we can all work and live together. Danger and grit pair with humour and compassion in this gripping, fresh read.

Dave Sweet, a conservative, veteran homicide detective has teamed up with Sarah Graham, a liberal, optimistic author to write this unconventional universal life-lessons book.

Before the interview, Mark shares a personal update which includes:

  • Why he is pushing back the release date of his book INDIE PUBLISHING INSIDER SECRETS
  • Some reflections on how previous Stark Reflections podcast guest Dana Pharant turned a mistake into a win
  • Mark's forthcoming trip to Las Vegas to teach at a WMG Publishing Master Class about the business of writing and publishing

This episode is sponsored by Findaway Voices . . .

In the interview, Mark and Dave and Sarah talk about:

  • How Dave and Sarah first met and then decided to work on this project together
  • The work Dave has been doing with local area writer groups looking for insights and realistic detail related to actual police work
  • The dichotomy of "Homicide Cop" and "Life Lessons"
  • The importance that this book be optimistic and not be gratuitous in its portrayal of Dave's experiences
  • The transformation that is witnessed in the various people involved in a homicide investigation and the lessons learned along the way
  • The early reader expectation of "more grit" and how the authors responded to that with respect for the victims and their loved ones
  • The decision to release this book as by Dave with Sarah rather than keeping Sarah's name hidden like a more traditional "ghost written" book, because of the way that Sarah's voice and influence helped to smooth out some of the rougher edges that come from Dave's experience
  • The processes and different techniques used in how they wrote this book together (actual writing, raw words, interactive presentations, phone calls)
  • What Dave learned about writing through this process
  • What television actually gets right about police work and police life
  • How Sarah's experience as a writer was different than the writer/cop partnership seen on television programs like Castle
  • The publishing options, agent feedback and choices made for the publication of this book
  • The intriguing "sneak peak" preview eBook their publisher created in a "Behind the Scenes" chapbook
  • The comparison between when Sarah is all-consumed when working on edits and Dave is all-consumed when focusing on a case
  • The "Reading Guide/Study Guide" section at the end of the book
  • Forthcoming books in this series which will each explore courage and death

After the interview, Mark reflects on how Dave and Sarah kept working at testing out different ways of making the collaboration work, not giving up, but continuing to experiment and find new ways for the process to happen smoothly. He discusses their publishing path as well, which was a series of learnings and tweaks and changes, until they found the one that suited them best.

He considers how they applied patience, persistence, partnership and progression in their path towards publication.

Mark then thanks Patrons for their sponsorship of the show via


Links of Interest:


The music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0