Monday, August 3, 2015

Some Advice to Those Who Are Planning to Write a Book

Number one, learn about the craft of writing. Yes, there are rules--and rules can be broken, but not before you know what they are.

Read books and magazines about writing, go to writers' conferences, join a critique group. Read the type of books you want to write.

Know the basics.

Do you know what POV means and how to use it correctly?

Do you know how to use dialogue effectively and how to use actions and description as dialogue tags?

Do you know how to develop interesting characters?

Do you know how to balance action, dialogue and narrative?

Do you know how to get rid of your pet words and phrases?

If you plan on self-publishing at the very least your book should have:

Page numbers

Chapters that begin on the right hand page.

No page numbers on the first page of the chapter.

Alternating the title and the author's name at the top of the page, not appearing on the chapter page.

A separate page for each, title page, dedication and acknowledgements.

Indentation for the beginning of paragraphs, not 2 spaces between paragraphs.

(Save the 2 spaces to indicate a new scene or change of viewpoint.)

No matter how good the book is, if it's not fromatted right people do notice. It will cause a mark down in contests and by reviewers.


Get rid of repeated words and phrases.

Only keep what's important to the story.

Eliminate empty adverbs--use descriptive verbs instead.

Get rid of "to be" words, replace with active, vivid verbs.

Describe the scene as the POV character sees it.

Show what's going on--don't tell about if after the fact.

* * *
Be professional.

Be careful what you say online.

Don't badmouth other publishers and authors.

And never get into a conflict with a reviewer.

Hope this helps someone.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

LINCOLN 9 by Dave Freedland

Dave Freedland is one of the members of PSWA who attended the recent conference. It's a pleasure to have him visit my blog and discuss his book.

Lincoln 9

It had always been my plan to write following retirement; but I chose fiction because I thought that it might be an interesting way to be creative. I had saved most of my “day-timer” calendars and steno pads over the years with the cryptic notes chronicling my numerous calls for service, crimes investigated, and SWAT call-outs.

I wanted to write something which I felt had not been sufficiently covered in works of either fiction or non-fiction. For years, the image of Special Weapons and Tactics teams members had been that of knuckle-dragging, heavy handed individuals whose only solution to problems was the application of force. However, over time that stereotype began to evolve as more educated, problem-solving leaders filled the ranks of SWAT operators, as evidenced by their frequent top tier placement in supervisory promotional processes.

In Lincoln 9, I created a story about one such individual who, through his experiences in special operations, became the leader of a team of detectives charged with the identification and apprehension of a serial killer.

I took three (3) actual homicide cases that occurred in the City of Irvine, California over a twenty year period and combined them into a plot involving one suspect responsible for all three. It is my hope that readers will develop a greater appreciation of the complexities of homicide investigations, and that the characters will present the sense of tension, teamwork, and professionalism that accompanies elite law enforcement units.

 Based upon its ratings and the comments made by several reviewers, Lincoln 9, appears to have, thus far, achieved its desired results.
Lincoln 9


When Bethany Crutchfield failed to show for Sunday brunch, and her father’s phone calls remained unanswered, it became apparent that his concern was justified regarding her welfare. Police officers from “America’s Safest City,” Irvine, California, discovered a gruesome homicide scene which established Bethany as the first in a series of murders that would ultimately span over two decades.
Lincoln 9 takes place in a city whose reputation for safety and affluence overshadows the fact that the relatively few homicides are among the most vicious and complex cases of human brutality. This is a story of three such cases, combined into a fictional plot and characters, but based upon actual crimes and police officers who risked their lives to bring justice to the perpetrators of these heinous acts of violence.

The story follows the career of Lieutenant Scott Hunter, the consummate cop who ultimately leads a team of detectives in connecting the clues toward solving these murders. His talents not only instilled confidence in the members of his elite unit, but drew the attention of an attractive co-worker remarkably matched in interest and intellect.

Amazon Buy Link: 


Dave Freedland

Dave Freedland is a 34-year, decorated law enforcement professional, having served with the Irvine Police, and the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Departments. Following a competitive athletic career culminating with the award of “UCLA’s Most Valuable Gymnast,” he graduated first in his Sheriff’s academy class.  While serving with the Irvine Police Department he managed a variety of assignments including Detectives, Patrol, Internal Affairs, SWAT, and retired at the rank of Deputy Chief of Police.

Deputy Chief Freedland was raised in Long Beach, attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on an athletic scholarship, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He earned a Master’s Degree in public administration from Pepperdine University, and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

As a competitor in martial arts, he is a former Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national karate , and has trained in Japan, earning a 6th degree black belt in Japanese Shotokan karate. His first novel, Lincoln 9, was published October 2014, by Oak Tree Press.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Men As Well As Women Are Taking The Wooded Path by Nancy LiPetri

While you’ll find The Wooded Path listed under the genres “women’s fiction” and “romance” (in addition to contemporary fiction and mystery), it is receiving some surprising reviews from male readers. Case in point:

“…Once I picked up it was hard to put down. I don't usually read fiction but my wife recommended it to me and after the first few pages I was hooked. Mysterious, sensuous, well written. Waiting for the next book.

I also had a local reader tell me he was impressed with my obvious research about the lake. He found the accurate facts to enhance the mystery in the story. And another said he found it fun, if not a bit frightening, to discover what his wife might be thinking about sex and marriage. 

As the writer, I am absolutely thrilled when any reader picks up on the underlying messages I enjoyed weaving into the story of a disappearance in a tight-knit Carolina community. My fascination with psychology and the power of the subconscious lead my characters to struggle with confusion and temptations. I am happy to hear that my characters often reassure women that they are not alone in their secret dilemmas and midlife experiences, and that they see some of themselves or their friends in the story. 

The wooded path that leads from the protagonist’s yard to her horse becomes a metaphor in more than one way. I invite you to come see how the journey pans out, and decide for yourself if you would take the straight and narrow…or the winding one. 

Ever wonder if you’re normal? Laine McClelland sure does. When the mysterious disappearance of a bunco friend, Paula, shakes her Lake Norman neighborhood, her seemingly perfect world is suddenly filled with dark thoughts, dangerous temptations and surprising confessions. What is normal once you realize life’s short, anyway? Was her marriage ever enough? She finds herself risking it all…and afraid of what really happened to Paula.

Buy Links:

TheWoodedPath  (paperback and Kindle on Amazon)

Paperback at


Nancy LiPetri lives on Lake Norman, North Carolina, and shares her passion for the region in her debut novel, The Wooded Path. Lake life and the dynamics of a neighborhood group of women helped inspire the story.  Originally from landlocked Iowa, she has enjoyed living on both coasts and in her husband’s native Chicago in between, taking her family and freelance copywriting career with her, and gathering inspiration for her fiction along the way. She appreciates realism in her favorite movies, television shows and books, and strives to entertain readers with believable characters experiencing a spectrum of issues people don’t always reveal to others. 

You can find Nancy by name on Facebook, Amazon’s Author Central, Goodreads, Twitter and Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Are you a Plotter or Pantser?

It was interesting to find out some of the people at the PSWA conference had not idea what being a pantser meant. In case you don't know, it comes from the phrase, flying by the seat of your pants. In other words, writing without having an outline of your plot already figured out.

The panelists who discussed the subject were:

Thonie Hevron, Eileen Magill, Mike Brandt, Joe addiego, Janet Greger, and Barbara Hodges.

Some plotted, some were pantsers, and a couple were a combination of both.

They felt the pantsers might have to do more rewriting.

One panelist didn't like not knowing what to write.

Another felt that the author should have the arc of the story pretty much in mind.

Which is easier? Mixed feelings.

And one reported tha outlines are not perfect and will probably have to be changed as the writing moved along.

What about you? If you're a writer, do you plan ahead, making an outline to follow as you write?

Or do you just start with some ideas in your head and move on from there?

Or do you do a combination of things?

Let us know in your comments.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Upcoming Events

California Writers Club, Saturday, August 15th, 10 a.m. Clarion Hotel, 3540 Rosedale Hiway, Bakersfield, CA

Topic: Creating and Sustaining a Mystery Series

Central Coast Book Fest,  Saturday, September 19, 10-4, Seacrest Hotel, San Luis Obispo, CA.

I'll have a lot of my books for sale. Stop by and say "hi".

Great Valley Book Fest, Saturday, October 10, 10-4, Promendade Shops at Orchard Valley (near the Bass Pro Shop), Manteca CA.

Holiday Boutique, Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7. 10 am. to 5. Porterville Art Gallery, Main St., Porterville CA.

Let me know if you need a speaker for an event or your organization. You can contact me at


Friday, July 24, 2015

PSWA Attendees

Because I don't want to violate anyone's privacy, I'm not going to name names, only tell where their expertise is to give you an idea of what kind of information was shared.

 A retired USAF Colonel and Special Agent for the OSI--which is the Air Force version of NCIS

A retired Air Force officer who specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence.

A TPSA Commander in Boston

Retired police officers from: 

New York City
Chicago (2)
New Mexico 
Deputy Chief from Irvine CA
Vice Detective from Washington DC
Northern California
World Airport Police, Los Angeles
Suffolk County PD on Long Island
Pleasant Hill P.D. CA
Ontario CA PD

Three retired FBI agents

Insurance Investigator

Former Assistant Attorney General


Former helicopter pilot.

 A paramedic and training officer for the federal disaters Medical Assistant Team in Calfornia.

A mountain climber and extreme adventurer who is also an expert on fraud.

Police Psychologist

An expert on health care and public health issues who is also a consultant on transitional threats.

Professor of Criminal Justice

Retired Biology Professor

Oak Tree Press Publisher

Parole and Probation Officer from Nevada

Two book editors

Dispatcher with AZPD

Volunteeer Firefighter


Mystery Writers

Many of the above were also in the military.

Everyone is writing something: pieces for online law enforcment publications, articles for printed magazine, how-to pieces, curriculum, all sorts of books fiction and non-fiction.

We had a couple of late registrants, and I don't have any information about their backgrounds.

This should give you an idea of the great expertise we are allowed to hear from.

As a mystery writer, I consider it a great privilege to be accepted into this group.

Marilyn Meredith

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Public Safety Writers Association Conference

The meeting room at the Orleans.

We had about 50 in attendance. It was a great conference and so glad to see so many returnees and a bunch of new folks.

This photo was of the panel on promotion. I think we could have gone on another 45 minutes in order to cover everything.

I gave a presentation on some of the mistakes I've made over the years. Mike Black kindly made the power point for me, and Tim Dees helped me through the process.

Here we are at one of our wonderful lunches. Great food and a good time to do some visiting. At our table from this vantage point were two retired police officers, a doctor who wrote a book about the abuse of prescription drugs, and a psychologist who works with police officers who have PTSD.

And this is what I did early every a.m.

Michael Black did a wonderful job with the program this year. I've been to many, many writing conferences, and this is my very favorite.

I'll have more pics later on, plus some of the great things I learned.