Monday, September 29, 2008

Going on Another Blog Tour

This is where I'll be visiting all month long. Hope I'll see you at one of my stops!

Oct 1

Oct 2

Oct 3

Oct 6

Oct 7

Oct 8

Oct 9

Oct 10

Oct 13

Oct 14

Oct 15

Oct 16

Oct 17

Oct 20

Oct 21 and

Oct 22

Oct 23

Oct 24

Oct 27

Oct 28

Oct 29

Oct 30

Oct 31

First Review for Kindred Spirits

Reviewed by Cheryl Malandrinos on The Book Connection.

Murder, ghostly visions, and a quest for justice are woven together to create an engaging story in Kindred Spirits, the latest in Marilyn Meredith's Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

A forest fire rushes through the mountains of Bear Creek as Tempe searches for local artist Vanessa Ainsworth. When Vanessa's body turns up inside her burnt out studio with a bullet hole, Detectives Morrison and Richards seek Tempe's help in finding out who could have behind what might have been a perfect murder.

Even though Tempe and Hutch's marriage is on the rocks, Tempe takes a trip to Crescent City to visit with Vanessa's family and friends to see if she can find any clues to who might have wanted Vanessa dead. Tempe's involvement in the case puts her in danger, but she knows she'll never be rid of the ghostly visions haunting her until she brings Vanessa's killer to justice.

In this installment of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Meredith brings back Tempe, Hutch, and members of the Bear Creek Sheriff's Office and gives them a mission: to prove who killed local artist, Vanessa Ainsworth. While in Judgment Fire--the book before this one in the series that I reviewed here--Tempe and the gang had a full slate of suspects, in Kindred Spirits their efforts are combined to prove the one person who couldn't possibly have committed the crime, did it. And even though I typically prefer a "who done it" kind of mystery, this novel had me on the edge of my seat as Tempe dodged threat after threat to bring Vanessa's murderer to justice.

Again Meredith has woven Native American history, small town charm, and a quest for the truth to provide an entertaining read for mystery and crime fans. And while Tempe is still dealing with the prejudice of being the only woman in the Bear Creek Sheriff's Office, she finds Detective Morrison an unexpected ally in this latest installment, perhaps forever changing their working relationship and making me eager to see what the next book will bring for Morrison and Tempe. True to form, Meredith has made the personal lives of her characters an integral part of the story and the reader is eager to see if Tempe and Hutch, her minister husband, can find their way back to each other. Involving Hutch in Tempe's case makes for many tense moments as they each deal with concern for the other's safety, even though they are worlds apart on issues that might have forever changed their marriage.

A great read that mystery and crime readers will certainly enjoy, Kindred Spirits proves why Marilyn Meredith's fans keep coming back for more!

Title: Kindred Spirits
Author: Marilyn Meredith
Publisher: Mundania Press, LLC
ISBN-10: 1-59426-735-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-59426-735-2
U.S. Price: $12.95

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Almost Too Much to Do

In my efforts to really promote Kindred Spirits, I've almost bitten off more than I can chew--and more than my husband is willing to chew along with me. (Pardon the cliche.) We just got back from Taylorville, fun but tiring, now this weekend we're headed to Barstow for a family reunion. Not a promo thing, but I've been asked to bring books--and the date was set nearly a year ago.

The following week we're supposed to go to Bank of Books in Ventura where I was to give a talk about Creating Believable Characters but there may be a snag in that one. The publicity person who set it up is no longer there so I'm having someone check on it for me.

Anyway, there's something every weekend or during the week all through October and November. Hubby is getting frustrated because he can't get any of his own projects finished. Of course he's so worn out form all the dragging around I've done with him, he spends a lot of time snoozing in front of the TV. Of course this is after he's done all his regular chores which includes feeding the inside and outside cats and his dog.

I was supposed to go to my critique group tonight, but I'm exhausted too. I had a meeting this a.m. I had to attend and then write a newsletter from information gleaned from the meeting.

Tomorrow I must cook up the hamburger and cut the onions and green peppers for the chili I'll be making for the reunion. That will have to be put together on site. And of course, there's packing to be done. Thank goodness for a college age granddaughter who is willing to feed the cats and dog while we're gone.

Anyway, instead of writing this blog I need to get back to work.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Home from Taylorville IL

We left early Thursday morning (3:30 a.m) to head for the Bakersfield airport to go to Phoenix and then St. Louis MO. From there we rented a car and drove to Taylorville IL and got there without a problem, thanks to our handy portable Magellan that told us exactly what to do wand when to do it.

Once we found our motel, I called Billie Johnson, publisher, Oak Tree Press, to let us know we were there. The purpose of the trip was to attend the Prose in the Park writers conference where I gave two presentations, one of How to Write a Mystery and the other, Creating Memorable Characters.

Hubby and I joined Billie for dinner in a really nice restaurant, enjoyed good food and lively conversation.

The next day we roamed around Taylorville for awhile. In the late afternoon, Billie came to our motel and brought me a contract to publish the next book in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series. (The former publisher has closed her doors and given me back the rights to the books already published in the series.)

I took the signed contract back to the get-acquainted party that evening. One of the attendees and fellow presenter was J.D. Webb, fellow mystery writer and Internet friend I'd met at Luv is Murder in Chicago.

Unfortunately, the conference wasn't as well attended as Billie had hoped for--but those who did attend were attentive and eager to learn. Despite the small numbers, we all had a great time.

That evening, we again enjoyed our dinner meal with Billie and her friend.

The next day, we packed up the car but before we left, we returned to the conference site where we perused some of the queries Billie's publishing house has received in recent weeks. One thing everyone learned is that before you send out a query, you certainly need to read the publisher's guidelines and learn what should be in a query.

We told everyone goodbye, plugged in our destination on the Magellan and headed back to the airport and returned our rental car.

It was a good weekend. It was fun meeting new people and seeing a part of the country we'd never visited before. Best of all, I can continue on with the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.


Friday, September 19, 2008

First Chapter and Contest to Win Calling the Dead

If you'll go to the Stiletto Gang blog: you'll be able to read the first chapter of Kindred Spirits and if you post or send me a private email message you'll be entered in the draw for an autographed copy of Calling the Dead. Two copies will be given.

The drawing will not be held until September 24th and the winners posted on the Stiletto Gang blog.

Good luck,


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Susan Wingate Interview

Susan Wingate has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her new book, Bobby's Diner.

Marilyn: First off, I love the title and cover. Will you tell me how you happened to come up with the title, Bobby's Diner? And what's the story behind the cover.

Susan: Yes, I love the title and cover too. Well, as these things go, the story started with a different title. My starter title was “Sunnydale”. Then, it became “Kiss of a Doe” which changed to “A Doe’s Kiss” and finally it changed to “Bobby’s Diner.” I felt “Bobby’s Diner” was more representative of the metaphor and action surrounding the story. Also, I think it prevents the reader from forgetting why the two main characters, two women – Bobby’s widow and an ex-wife – are at odds.

Now, the cover art was something the editor at came up with. Shelley Chase asked me if I had any ideas or images I wanted to use or, at least, have them consider using. When I did not she told me she would “come up with something” and, boy, did she. I showed my husband the cover art at a minimum fifteen times when I first got the galley from her. I was so excited. But, Shelley Chase gets complete and total credit for that genius. I LOVE the cover art. I’m so glad you asked about it.

Marilyn: Your book has been compared to Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle stop Cafe. I loved both the book and movie, did either have an influence on the writing of Bobby's Diner?

Susan: I loved the movie and book also but, no, that story (Fried Green Tomatoes) had no influence on the writing of Bobby’s Diner. In fact, it was after I finished and read the book that I could tell it had the same “flavor” (excuse the pun) as Flagg’s. I just set off on another adventure and Bobby’s Diner is what unfolded.

Marilyn: What is the inspiration behind your book?

Susan: Well, my inspiration became my husband, Bob (note the similarity? Ha!). So far he’s been appearing more and more in my writing but the actual idea came to me in a dream. I woke up with a scene playing out in my head about this young woman arriving in Sunnydale, Arizona. It’s the scene you’ll read in the book, the one with the skanky trucker. That started the ball rolling.

I’d visited several small towns in Arizona about five months before on research for another story and drove through several towns on that trip. I took my sister, Elizabeth, with me and we ended up quite unplanned at the Ben Avery Shooting Range just the two of us and her .357 magnum. Anyway, we walked in, me in my high-heeled boots and she in denims and a blouse. There were about thirty men there and us. It was quite a juxtaposition of sorts. That scene shows up in Bobby’s Diner.

Marilyn: Would you say the book is more character driven or plot driven? And who is your favorite character? Do you ever base a fictional character on someone you know?

Susan: The story doesn’t lend itself to being plopped into any commercial genre such as mystery or sci-fi, it’s more mainstream women’s fiction about a relationship between two women and, so, I’d have to say Bobby’s Diner is a character-driven plot with Georgette as the narrator AND main character.

Who is my favorite character? That’s a toughy. All my characters, throughout the writing of any novel, become objects of my love. However, I had most fun with the Mayor and his wife, Helen. In fact, I think there’s another entire story Helen should have written about her. That may take me a couple more years to get to but she definitely left a lot of questions floating around in my mind.

I usually do not have someone in mind when a character presents herself but I do bring people I know into characters I create. Usually, any one character is a mix of several people I have either seen or know somehow. With Bobby, his physical “being” is definitely my husband but he’s nothing at all my husband’s personality – not much anyway. I think it’s very important in character building to be able to see someone when you’re working. It seems easier for me to add character traits and background about the character after I actually lock-in on a visual.

Marilyn: You have an amazing background. And it sounds like you are very busy now. Tell us something about your writing schedule.

Susan: Well, yes, like any working writer I’m busy. I consider writing to be a job, one I get up and begin immediately and continue to work until the end of the day, just like any other person’s full-time job. When I’m involved in writing a story, my day goes like this: I usually edit the work from the day before which allows me to “catch up” on where I left off in the story. Then, I write new work for the rest of the day. I basically work non-stop until the inevitable stall-out when I get to around pages 40, 100 and 160. At these points I do different things. At page 40, I ask myself “Where are you going with this story and where will it end?” I make a very skeletal synopsis of what I think the rising conflict should be and the ending (I already have the beginning). This sets up a basic road map for me.

When I answer those questions, I can write without stopping until I get to around page 100. At that point, I make a chapter outline with brief notes about it and look to see if my organization is correct or if chapter 2, say, should actually be slotted somewhere else. I always find my story changes slightly around this point and that’s okay. If I realize I have to bag a couple of chapters, so be it. But, being able to see if you’re on the right track or completely changing something integral to the story line at page 100 is a much easier pill to swallow than finding out that at page 250 you took the wrong turn.

At page 160, I’m almost to the finish line and so I read the entire piece again and put post-it notes on pages with changes and also on pages that need more information and layering. After doing this, it’s a matter of getting to the end and then doing a little back filling with subplot and smoothing out.

Marilyn: Do you have any writing tips you'd like to share?

Susan: Yes! I do! The most important part of writing is writing. I’m not being coy. You’d be amazed how many people say they are writers (or who want to become writers) who don’t write. My motto is this: If you don’t sit on your butt and type, nothing will appear on the page! Plus, finger curls are good if you’re not used to typing a lot – not really, I’m being a jerk. Seriously, however, if you think about it, if you wrote one page a day by the end of the year you’d have 365 pages and just think what it could be during a leap year! J One page a day is not a lot of time for those people who must work another job to support their home and family. It’s a very doable goal. Sit down and write!

Marilyn: I'd like to know more about your online newsletter, "Sincerely, Susan." How does one become a subscriber?

Susan: Oh, yes. Sincerely, Susan is a great source for writing tips and also a great promotional vehicle for my writing. I had a bit of a slip on its regularity last year when I got super busy but I’m back in the swing of things. It’s once again a monthly eNewsletter thanks to some wonderful software that made things go a bit smoother for me. The software, if anyone would like to know, is called Constant Contact and no, I have zero interest in that company.

The newsletter is available on my website and my blog In fact, my blog is the home for Sincerely, Susan.

Marilyn: When you're taking a break from writing, what do you do for fun?

Susan: Well, Bob and I have five beautiful acres of land and we love to entertain here. So, when I’m not busy with writing we have some lovely parties. We travel too. In fact, outside of a 2-week business trip in October, we’ll be heading for Mexico in November, Palm Desert in February, Phoenix in March and Tuscany in May. And, yes, I’ll be taking in the sights and, oh no dare I say, writing!

Hmm, what else do I do? I watch anywhere from five to thirty movies a week. Movies give me great ideas for moving into conflict scenes quickly. Plus, I just love movies. Oh, and of course there’s always reading. I spend a bunch of my free time reading. Right now, and for my 2 weeks in October, I’m on a reading binge – twelve books!

Marilyn: A woman after my own heart. I love movies too.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with any of my blog visitors?

Susan: Maybe just one thing. When I first started out I had the fortune of meeting Michael Collins who mentored me along for almost two years. Now, we’re dear friends. If anyone can meet an established professional writer, editor or agent and they are willing to help you, take them up on it. They won’t offer if they don’t think you have value so always but always agree to contact them. And, maybe more importantly, when you do become a full-time established writer, offer the same consideration to someone else. We can only make it in this business with help and mentorship so keep the ball rolling and your eyes open to new talent.

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Susan.

Susan: Thank YOU, Marilyn. These are some great questions and I had a lot of fun answering them. Take care.

Susan Wingate’s website -

Susan Wingate’s blog -

For more information about Susan Wingate’s virtual book tour and her full schedule at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crescent City and a Wonderful Book Launch

I can't begin to explain how wonderful the whole of last week was. Driving to Crescent City is a pleasure after you reach Willits--from their on the scenery is spectacular driving through redwoods, and I spotted a bull Elk in a river bed, and ocean scenery along the way.

When we arrived at our friends the McKinseys home, after the hugs it was time to play catch-up on all that's transpired in the last four years. Later that day, Junie Mattice, the Tolowa woman who inspired part of my latest Tempe Crabtree mystery and two of the characters, came to visit. Even though we'd spent only about three hours together the time we met, we've kept up our friendship through emails and it was like seeing an old friend. I gave her a copy of Kindred Spirits which she managed to read over the night.

The next a.m. when we met again at the Ana Wulf Bed and Breakfast, she told me she loved the book and about a mistake she'd found. There already was one mistake I knew about--a biggie--her last name is wrong in my dedication to her.

We had two sittings for the luncheon and both were filled. People actually paid to have lunch, receive a book and talk to Junie and me--and they seemed thrilled. After the good food was consumed both Junie and I spoke--me about Kindred Spirits and Junie told about her life as a Tolowa, their near extinction through genocide by the white folks who wanted the Tolowa's land.

In the second session, Junie's sister, a Tolowa storyteller, graced us with two stories.

The luncheons were a huge success and I know Junie was a pleased as I was. One thing I know, Junie and I are kindred spirits as well.

The following evening we met again in the Crescent City Library where we talked about the book, the Tolowa and a little bit about writing and getting published. Some of the guests from the luncheon came to hear it all over again.

It was hard to tell Junie goodbye. She was heading off to Chico State where she's working on her Masters Degree. We left the next morning.

I can't thank my friend Ellen enough for all the work she put into making these events so successful. She is about ready to promote a book of her own, which I'll write about in another post.

Hubby and I decided to come home another way, through Oregon and down to 5 and past Mount Shasta (a dormant volcano which is huge and beautiful), past Crater Lake and on down through mountain communities and then farm land--lots and lots of farm land.

I'm exhausted but truly happy--what a wonderful time I had.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hooray for Sisters in Crime!

Today I gave a presentation to the San Joaquin Chapter of Sisters in Crime. I belong to several chapters of Sisters in Crime: Central Coast, L.A. and I'm the president of the Internet Chapter. However, I was one of the founding members of the SJ Sinc and it has a special place in my heart.

I don't get to as many meetings as I'd like, but I count the members as my friends. This was the first time anyone outside of my chapter saw copies of Kindred Spirits. Though the launch for the latest in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree book will next Wednesday in Crescent City, this was the debut.

They asked me to talk about my bumpy road of publication--easy enough--nearly 30 rejections for my first book before it was accepted, 4 agents--most of whom didn't even send my book out--two crooked publishers, one went to jail, the other skipped the country--two publishers who died--publishers who decided to find a new way to make money that didn't involve books--e-publishers before there were any e-readers.

Sounds funny when I'm telling it, but it was rather painful to experience.

Then I told the story of how I came to write Kindred Spirits and about the Tolowa Indians.

Such a supportive group--they asked great questions and purchased books and asked me to sign them.

And my husband had a great time too--he has his own fans among the sisters.

Next stop, Crescent City. I'll post about that when I return.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

PSWA Fall Newsletter

The fall issue of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) is now available on the website:

The website also contains information about the writing contest–be sure to read the article in the newsletter written by the contest chairperson–and the PSWA conference coming in July of 2009. There is an early-bird price break on the registration fee until September 30. I hope a lot of you will take advantage of this.

I’ve been a member of PSWA for over ten years and watched it evolve into an organization with great resources for anyone writing either fiction (mysteries, thrillers, etc.) or non-fiction about crime, law enforcement or any other public safety entity.

I’d be glad to answer questions about the conference or the organization either on list or off:


Monday, September 1, 2008

Reader Views, Good and Bad

While I was in Elk Grove at the Fine Arts Festival, I received an email from a reader who was disenchanted with my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. Among other things, she didn't think I'd developed the character enough and she felt that Tempe wouldn't have married Hutch, a Christian pastor, because of his strict beliefs.

She isn't the only one who isn't crazy about Hutch. Frankly, I love him. He's a great husband, supports Tempe in nearly everything except when she dabbles in the spiritual side of her Native American heritage. Of course, this is because he worries about her soul. He also worries about the danger she's in because of her job. They are in love, so having some problems in the relationship add conflict--and from an author's point-of-view--makes it more fun to write. Because I've been friends with and have a son-in-law who is a pastor, I know these guys stick to what they believe in. I've also known enough spouses of people in law-enforcement to know that they do worry about their loved one's safety. And at times, get irritated when the job takes them away from the family unexpectedly. I explained some of this to this reader. Not sure it will help.

The very next day I received this:

"Want to do some fun reading? If so pick up Marilyn Meredith’s Tempe Crabtree series. I have read each novel and enjoyed every one of them. Marilyn has made her characters so different than those we are to reading about. Another great thing is there is no specific order you have to read them in. Each one is a separate story that doesn’t depend on a previous Tempe Crabtree adventure. They are also a fast read. Marilyn’s stories flow and you don’t want to put the book down. I can’t wait for the next one to go on sale."

Keith Bettinger, Author of: Fighting Crime With "Some" Day and Lenny, or What Happens When Car 54 Where Are You Meets Dragnet

Keith is a fellow member of Public Safety Writers Association and works with me on the PSWA conference. He's also a retired police officer. I'm always worried when cops read Tempe stories because she does far more sleuthing than any deputy would ever do, obviously Keith recognizes that I'm writing fiction and just enjoyed the story as it was told.

Is there a lesson in this? Guess it's simply that readers have different tastes and there's not much I can do about that.

What I'll continue doing is telling a story the best I know how.

You can go to my website, and read first chapters of most of my books.