Sunday, November 30, 2008
Don't know what this stuff is that I have, but it sure does hang on. Stayed home from church--didn't want to pass on my germs. Family brought me dinner from the Mexican place.
I managed get a huge and difficult project done this a.m. that I've been working on for several days. Also got some end of the month stuff done. Spent the afternoon in bed and will be crashing again soon. Tired of blowing my nose.
I need to be tackling a new Rocky Bluff P.D. book but so far only have some wispy ideas floating around in my head. Hopefully, I'll feel more like doing some real work on it tomorrow.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I woke Thanksgiving morning sick! We managed to pack our things and get on the road by 9. It was a bit foggy, rained some, but we arrived in Camarillo--though our Magellan certainly took us on the scenic route-- in plenty of time for our Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunate for me--and everyone else--daughter Lori had everything organized and cooking away. First time I haven't had to cook Thanksgiving dinner in years. Certainly worked out for the best.
Those who joined us for the feast were Lori's family, husband and two adult sons (one was home from the Aspen Police Academy, in two weeks he'll be graduated), the other is an electrician and their daughter, Alyssa, a sophmore in high school. Our eldest daughter, Dana and hubby Mike, arrived with their always present companion, Archie, the golden retriever. Son, Matthew, his wife, and daughter, Jessica, were with us too.
The food looked wonderful. Unfortunately, nothing tasted wonderful until the next day, when I thoroughly enjoyed the left-overs. The granddaughters and Lori left at 11 p.m. to hit one of the stores that opened then--can you imagine?
In the morning, all of us girls and Matthew went to Target and then to the Oaks mall where no one had been told anything about the economy since it was crowded and people were buying like mad. (I should have stayed in bed but wanted to buy the girls their Christmas presents.)
Matt and his family went home, but the rest of us went home long enough to gather the men and went to see Four Christmases. Pretty funny and an easy thing for a sick person to do.
Despite being sick, I had a great time hearing everyone's news and getting to see those I don't get to see often.
Friday night I had the weirdest dreams and remember them when I woke. We all had a delicious breakfast (yes, I could taste stuff by this time), said our goodbyes and headed home.
I am so thankful for an uneventful trip there and back, and for such a wonderful family.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
From this historical fiction she branched out, with a range of titles including the Tempe Crabtree mystery series, set in the community of “Bear Creek,” which bears a resemblance to Springville.
Marilyn and I have talked about writing from time to time. I told her once that my own attempts at fiction had been blocked by my failure to understand the concept of theme.
“Oh, I don’t worry about all of that,” she told me. “I just write stories that people might like to read.”
That’s true, and Marilyn’s prolific list attracts readers with online books and paperbacks. She’s also a teacher of writing and lectures at writer’s conferences throughout the country.
I settled in one recent evening to enjoy Kindred Spirits, Marilyn’s latest novel, expecting a good read and to wonder who the characters might resemble in real life or what local landmarks might find themselves transformed to her fictional setting.
I wasn’t disappointed.
But Kindred Spirits rises above Marilyn’s previous work.
Just as heroine Tempe Crabtree expands her horizons, traveling from Bear Creek to a special assignment on an Indian Reservation on California’s north coast, Meredith seems to have expanded her story-telling ability in Kindred Spirits.
Tempe comes into her own as a law enforcement officer, balancing her heritage, professional and personal relationships better than she has in the past and Marilyn skillfully weaves her character’s metamorphosis into a story which also introduces readers to the plight of the Tolowa Indians who live near Crescent City where part of the story is set.
For those, like me, who enjoy novels with realistic and somewhat familiar settings, Kindred Spirits offers the locale represented by Bear Creek along with Crescent City and Santa Barbara.
Meredith’s latest work is richly textured with interesting, well developed characters and a story line that leaves you guessing to nearly the last page. It’s her best work so far.
More information about Meredith and her work is available online at fictionforyou.com.
--Claudia Elliott, Editor, Southern Sierra Messenger
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I was thrilled to receive this review:
"I recently had the pleasure of reviewing KINDRED SPIRITS, the seventh title in Marilyn Meredith‛s well-received Tempe Crabtree series. Tempe must deal with the history and culture of the Tolowa tribe in this latest case involving an artist found dead in her studio after a forest fire. Husband Hutch is a Christian minister whose views on Indian culture and spirituality have sometimes been problematic, causing tension in his and Tempe's marriage. But in this novel, Hutch becomes more supportive of Tempe‛s work and her views on life and religion.
"I enjoyed this book mainly because of the unique characters involved in the story. Meredith's knowledge of Native American history and a plot involving several suspects added much appreciated depth of the story. If you'd like to read my full review of the book, please visit Reviewingtheevidence.com and search under 'Authors' for Marilyn Meredith."
Mary V. Welk
Friday, November 21, 2008
Because I'll have a new book in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series I've been thinking about ways to promote it. Of course once I have a copy of the cover, I'll be making business cards. I've been thinking about where to have a book launch in my town, and where it should be. Because the book is called, No Sanctuary and about two churches, two ministers and their wives, and murder, I'm toying with the idea of having it in the fellowship hall of my church. Of course this is dependent upon whether or not the pastor is willing. We'll see. Haven't broached the subject with him as yet.
I have an author friend who was once the pastor at our church (when he was very young with a wife and three little girls) and when he first began writing I helped him--almost every day. He moved, pastored another church, and then got into writing full time. He's done quite a few spiritually oriented books, but lately has branched out a bit. He co-authored Steven Baldwin's story, and Alec Baldwin's latest about his messy divorce, and he also wrote a mystery with Steven. I'm anxious to read the mystery.
Tomorrow I head to the Chowchilla Library at Kings Ave. and 3rd St., where I'll have my books for sale along with other authors from 10:30 to 2:30. I'm pretty much ready for that.
Next week will be taken up with preparations for Thanksgiving--though I'll not be cooking, we're headed for our youngest daughter's for the big feast.
I've got about four pending jobs for writing program designs for people desiring to go into the residential care business. Though it's not my favorite kind of writing, it does bring in money. The hardest part is getting these people to give me all the information I need to write the program. For some reason, they seem to think I can read their minds.
And that's what I've been thinking about.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
As it happens, this now grown-up man plays keyboard for a Christian Rock Band that's been playing at my daughter's church. He told the pastor he thought he knew her, called her the carrot-top (she has red hair) and said he played at our house all the time when he was growing up.
Lydell was a skinny black kid. We lived in this marvelous mixed racial neighborhood during the 60s and 70s. I ate chitterlings for the first time at his house when visiting his mom.
Of course we were all poor, but we'd all managed to buy houses for little down. I was PTA president at the grammar school for two years. I remember one of the black mom's telling me, "All you white PTA ladies look alike." Made me laugh.
Our kids didn't see color. We had all shades running in and out of our house, spending the night, eating with us. It was strange, because it was during a time of really strained racial relations, but our neighborhood, black, white, Mexican, Oriental and who knows what else, managed to get along.
I can remember hoping that each of my five kids would marry someone of a different race so my grandkids would all look different. I managed to get part Native American grandkids and some part Mexican, but that's all so far. (I don't have any trouble telling anyone apart--though I do have trouble coming up with the right names sometimes.)
My son, Mark, who was friends with Lydell is no longer with us. At age 42 he lost his fight with multiple myeloma. Of course we miss him. But it was fun and a bit of tug on my heart to take this stroll down memory lane where Mark is still alive and well and bringing home all sorts of friends to meet his family.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Today I was fortunate to read The Frugal Editor for the first time. Every author, published or not, should have a copy of this guide to editing. Not only are the usual problems with editing covered: from the proper use of pronouns, how and when to use quotation marks and ellipses , when to use lie and lay, to finding your writing idiosyncrasies–and yes, we all have them–also included are many amazing ways to use your word processing program to help with your editing.
The book is easy to use and one of the most comprehensive instructions to editing I’ve ever seen. I should have had this one in hand when I edited my last book. It might have helped me to prevent the gremlins that crept into the galley.
I highly recommend The Frugal Editor.
The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success at
Monday, November 17, 2008
Though I’ve read other books about Billy Graham, Billy takes an entirely different look at Billy Graham through the eyes of a good friend and fellow evangelist, Charles Templeton. Unfortunately Templeton loses his faith and tries to convince Billy that he’s naive to continue believing in the Bible as truth.
The story begins with Billy reveling in a baseball win at high school and follows him as he attends his first revival meeting–the beginning of his search for what he should do in life. While attending college he meets the love of his life, Ruth.
Billy’s faith develops and grows as he becomes a successful evangelist while at the same time, as Charles also becomes a successful preacher, his faith is shattered. While at Forest Home, a mountain top retreat, Charles does his best to shake Billy’s faith and nearly succeeds. Billy calls out to God and God speaks to him.
From the retreat, Billy goes on to have his first tent meetings in Los Angeles. He preached to drunks and movie stars as well as the ordinary person, offering them the chance to accept Jesus Christ as their redeemer. I particularly enjoyed this part as I attended a few of these meetings when I was fifteen and my parents were volunteer workers for this first Billy Graham Crusade.
I remember the huge tent and all the people, and the spiritual excitement as throngs who went forward when Mr. Graham called people to come forward and accept Christ as their Savior.
The book ends with a final meeting between Billy and Charles when both are elderly. Despite Charles’ lack of faith, Billy still loves his friends.
For those who like to read about influential people who are guided by their faith in God, I recommend Billy. http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=0849920671
Saturday, November 15, 2008
After I finally was able to print out the writing job I'd been paid for (Word was giving me a hard time with page numbers--it was like a gremlin was at work busily changing numbers like crazy) and getting it ready for mailing, I headed down to Porterville to take care of some business. I was so frustrated I needed to get away from my computer for awhile. (I have three more writing jobs pending plus a ghost writing gig that may or may not come through. I need to get started on a new Rocky Bluff P.D. book. I do have ideas racing around in my head.)
Today I'm headed to Russo's Books on Ming in Bakersfield for a book signing from 12 to 2. As I've stated before, bookstores are my least favorite places for promotion. However, I love Russo's and lovely independent store. I try to do at least one signing there a year. I've sent out lots of email notices and a few snail mail letters. We'll see how that works out.
Next weekend I'll be with several other authors at the Chowchilla Library for a book festival from 10:30 to 2:30. I've done some online promo.
We have no bookstores in either Springville where I live or Porterville which is the nearest big city. I have to find other places to have signings. The weekend of December 6th I'll be in the Jenuine Junque (a unique second-hand store) from 10 a.m. to 5. Advertised as a time to come talk to me about my latest book, Kindred Spirits, buy a book for a Christmas present, and talk about writing or just visiting. I'll be bringing cookies. (In case you're near Springville and want to come, the store is on Highway 190 next to the parking lot of Sequoia Dawn.)
The following weekend, December 12 and 13, from 10 to 5 both days, I'll be in Porterville at the Art Association's Gallery. While the artists are selling their wares, I'll have a table with my books available. I'm taking cookies there too. (This one is located on Main St. in Porterville. There is parking behind the Subway store, the Art Gallery, is across the street, but on the same side as the Subway.)
For both events I should have some publicity in the local newspapers. I've given books and information about both my book and what I'll be doing to the editor of one and the events editor of another.
For me, these events are far better than getting my books in bookstores. I recently received a royalty check from one of my publishers for the sale of two older books both in the $13 range that sold through regular bookstores. The check was for $1.26.
That's when reality sets in. Even if my books were selling big in regular bookstores, by the time the bookstore gets its cut, then Ingram, then the publisher, there's not much left for me.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Part of my schedule is reading emails. I get work through my emails: I work for a ghostwriting company and I always receive my jobs through email and I usually do all my back-and-forth interviewing for the ghostwriting the same way. I'm still doing program designs for people wanting to get into the residential care business--and I'm continuing on as the newsletter editor for one of the organizations for that industry. Besides getting queries for the program designs via email, that also is how I receive most of my news about the industry.
Of course email is the major way of keeping up with the writing industry as well as major promotion.
Though I still go out and do lots of personal promotion--more than half of my promotion is done online.
This Saturday (the 15th) I'll be at Russo's Books in the Marketplace on Ming Ave. in Bakersfield. Though this date was set during the summer, I went to their website and noticed my signing wasn't on the calendar. Since I've been plugging the signing for awhile, I quickly emailed Mike Russo who apologized and immediately put me on the calendar--oversight on his part.
Email is how I find out about many of my in-person gigs. Next weekend, Saturday, Nov.22) I'll be at the Chowchilla Library (10:30 to 2:30) at a bookfair. Notice of this came to my in-box.
I'm going to have a get-together and book signing at Jenuine Junque (a fun up-scale second hand store) in my hometown of Springville on Saturday, December 6th. I'm putting up posters and handing out flyers--but the majority of my promo is and will be via email.
The following Saturday (December 13th) I'll be joining artists from 10 to 5 in the Porterville Art Gallery, my books will be on sale along with the paintings. I met the president of the Porterville Art Association when I was selling books at the Apple Festival and she mentioned me joining them as a possibility and gave me her card. I followed up via email and was given the go-ahead the same way.
After all this I must confess that I have a phobia about making phone calls, email has been wonderful for me. Not only that, I can write an email anytime of day or night without worrying about finding someone home or disturbing a meal.
Email is probably the most wonderful invention to come along--at least for me.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Though he spent time in other countries: Spain, Cuba, Bermuda, Greenland, Alaska and three tours of duty in Vietnam during the war, once he got out of the service he moved on. He finally devoted his time to being a dad to his five kids, learning how to fix washing machines etc. for Sears, and after 15 years of that, moving with me and the one teenager left at home to Springville, where together we owned and operated a home for six developmentally disabled women. We did that for 23 years.
Now, in our senior years, he mostly does chores around this old house of ours and goes with me on book selling trips and mystery conventions. We've had a great time--flying to cities we'd never even thought about visiting, making all sorts of new friends. We're having fun and isn't that what you're supposed to do when you're in your 70's?
When we're flying somewhere though, and he's wearing his Seabee cap, he can't help being pleased when some young person thanks him for his service--something that never happened during the Vietnam War.
To all of the veterans and their families--enjoy the day and enjoy one another.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
While I'm gone, I'll have my Blackberry with me for emails, but I don't take a computer which means no blogging.
I don't mind taking a break from blogging. Sometimes it consumes my day, and right now I have two books to finish and need to start planning two more. May do some of that while we're driving to Temecula--and maybe not since the traffic is horrendous going in that direction.
The first night we'll be spending with one of our granddaughter and her family. It's a good time to catch up with them. They have two delightful children: Peyton and Garrett, 6 and 2. Peyton does those Irish dances and competes and she's a Brownie. Garrett is all boy.
The second night we'll go to our grandson's and he has three kids: Emily, Olivia and Ethan. Great kids--lots of talent and extremely loving. We have a favorite Mexican restaurant we like to take them to down there.
So, as you can see, it'll be an extremely busy weekend--one I'm looking forward to.
Now, back to my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery in progress. Have to do the edits from last night's critique group.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I wasn’t thrilled with either of the candidates. Unfortunately, the old saying, “politics corrupts” is all too true. In order to even run for office, a candidate has to make concessions, often concession that even he doesn’t believe in.
But no matter, that’s not my point here, I’m supposed to be talking about blogs.
I try to put something on Twitter.com every day. I have no idea whether that’s helpful or not, but I have a lot of followers though I don’t know if that means they read my posts or not. I glance through the posts of people I’m following and most of what they have to say isn’t very interesting–I hope I’m doing a better job.
Every Tuesday, I post on the Stilleto Gang.
It is is a blog for cozy writers. I never thought my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries were cozies–but I don’t use bad language or write about explicit sex–so maybe that’s why my series qualifies. On that blog, I’ve noticed that some of my fellow authors have beliefs quite different from mine though no one has come right out and said they are for or against anything–but I’ve learned to notice the nuances. That’s what makes it fun. We are all unique.
I’m very fond of this blog because of the diversity of the topics and the bloggers, and I hope that readers enjoy the diversity.
Another fun post I do regularly is Make Mine Murder.http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/ . I post on the first and third Tuesdays with that one.
There are other blogs that I post on ever so often. The one thing about blogs is that it helps if people make comments–so I try to make a comment on every post I read. You also should sign up to be a follower of any blog you really enjoy.
Some blogs are just fun to read. Others are more promotion than anything. When I go on a blog tour, I get interviewed, am asked to post first chapters, tell where my plot came from and all sorts of interesting things. A lot of blogs have writing tips, or grammar and punctuation rules.
Times have truly changed. Whether or not blogging helps with the promotion of one’s books, I have no idea–but it has certainly created a community that no one even imagined merely a couple of years ago.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sue: Thanks, Marilyn. I really treasure our friendship and all the direction, guidance and inspiration you've given me over the years. You're definitely on my short-list of heroes. As you say, I've written short stories, mostly mysteries as well as a passel of freelance articles. I've also completed a middle-grade novel set in the WWII timeframe, SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR. It's kind of a cross between Nancy Drew and A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. At this writing, it's still "pre-published" as they say.
Will you please tell me what inspired you to write this story?
Sue: A combination of several things. At the risk of betraying my technical-writer background, here's a numbered list.
1) After meeting an ex-nun married to an ex-priest (they were 60 when they married) and reading SPIRAL STAIRCASE (a true story about leaving religious life), I became fascinated with what a woman's life would be like after 25 in the convent. How would she adjust to the fast pace of secular society? What about making a living, dating, sex? What if she married an ex-cop, since law enforcement comes with its own set of baggage?
2) Most of my writing "situations" are based on their real-life counterparts. As you know, my town, Los Osos, California, is infamous for its wastewater crisis, which has gone on for 35 years. One day I thought, "Someone could get murdered over this," and that started a "What if?" train of thought, the genesis for all fiction.
3) The loony-tunes family, the Mercados, were a composite of several dysfunctional families I've read about and known over the years. Family dynamics fascinate me and at some point they became very important to the story. And I had fun with the Los Lobos Coast Region Utilities District (CRUD) and all its foibles, not to be confused with my own hometown's sewer politics, you understand. Actually I went out of my way for obvious reasons to invent original CRUD characters.
Marilyn: Describe your heroine. Is she like anyone you know? You, perhaps?
Sue: Well, like the Mercados, Bella Kowalski a composite character. Outwardly feisty and no-nonsense, she struggles with an undercurrent of nameless, formless anxiety due to the murder of her sister. She also struggles with her faith, and has real doubts about the role of God in her life. I see this as a series of three. I've almost finished the second book and I'm still not sure how her crisis of faith is going to be resolved, or if it is. Mike, her husband, is a complex character and I'm not sure what happens to them as a couple either.
She's like me I guess in her love of tea. Bella and I can out-tea-drink the English and that's saying a lot. She and I have many good conversations over a "cuppa" and we help each other a lot. I never thought of this before, but I suppose she's the sister I never had. Due to her time in religious life, Bella has the strongly developed sense of justice that in the best Nancy Drew fashion, gets her into all kinds of scrapes.
Marilyn: Is Los Lobos a real place?
Sue: Sort of. It's based on Los Osos, of course, but to drive the story I added things that don't exist, like a cemetery on a hill behind the Catholic church and Connie Mercado's thrift store and wedding chapel across from Volumes of Pleasure, a real bookstore. The wedding chapel looks suspiciously like the one at Coalesce Bookstore in nearby Morro Bay.
Marilyn: The cover is absolutely gorgeous. Do you want to tell me a bit about how it came about?
Sue: You bet. The cover was done by Terre Dunivant of Gaia Graphics in San Luis Obispo. The first murder takes place in Escarpa el Dorado, which is really supposed to be Montana de Oro, a drop-dead (no pun intended) state park just outside of town. I wanted the cover to depict the murder scene and Terre took my ideas and just ran with them. The "dead" body on the rocks is my 21-year-old granddaughter. Terre took 200+ shots to get that great cover photo. It took three hours on a cold and windy February afternoon. My granddaughter got so wet and cold she changed her clothes three times. We went out for menudo afterwards to warm up.
Marilyn: What are your writing habits? Where do you write?
Sue: I pretty much write first thing in the morning before my head gets jumbled up with other garbage. If I start writing, even if it's only for an hour, I'll come back to it later. But if I start something else first, I seem to end up not writing at all. Lately, it's been harder, because there are so many details to attend to with the book coming out. I guess that's not news to you. One thing I don't do—wait for inspiration to hit. It's been my experience that it almost never hits if I don't sit down at the computer. I guess that comes from making a living as a technical writer. Due dates didn't allow time to wait for inspiration.
Marilyn: What kind of things are you doing to promote Murder in Los Lobos? I know you have a book launch planned. Will you tell about that?
Sue: Of course, my dear. We're having a "Scene of the Clue" book launch at the previously-mentioned Coalesce Bookstore and Wedding Chapel, 845 Main Street, Morro Bay, info: 805-772-2880. The date is Sunday, November 9th, from 1-4 PM. Food and drink, readings, a signing, the whole thing.
The book is going to be carried county-wide in the SLO library system and I'm giving a book talk at the Los Osos library on December 4th, at 6:30 PM. I also plan other library appearances, as many as possible. I'm making a brief speech about how the book got published at the Central Coast Writers Conference at Cuesta College September 27th. I'm passing out author postcards everywhere including the Los Osos Chamber of Commerce. I also plan to contact various civic organizations about speaking engagements. I have a huge To-Do list at this point.
Marilyn: Do you have a webpage?
Sue: Is the Pope Catholic? www.suemcginty.com It's done by Karen McCullough of Karen's Web Works and it's just beautiful. There's another Sue McGinty who's an Australian anthropologist and prolific author and that makes Googling my name difficult.
Marilyn: What plans do you have for the future? Is this book the first in a series?
Sue: As I said, I see the Bella Kowalski mysteries as a series of three. The second one, which I'm plugging along on, deals with murder and exploitation among the homeless, some of whom are sheltered in the churches in our area. It's working title is MURDER AT CAYAMACA BEACH. I'm also planning a prequel about what happens to Bella when she's still in the convent and her sister is murdered. Bella is from Detroit and her parents lived the whole immigrant experience and this in turn has shaped her worldview, which I think is pretty much the same as mine.
Thanks for the opportunity to do this, Marilyn. Some surprising things just kind of popped out.