Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Sanctuary Book Launch

Today is the day! I have no idea whether anyone will come or not. I sent out invitations both by snail mail and e-mail. I've had two notices in our weekly newspaper and at least one in the daily. I've got posters up in the coffee shop and the post office.

The fellowship hall of our church is decorated a big poster of my book, with signs appropriate for a police station including wanted posters. The refreshment table and table for people to sit at have black tablecloths and crime scene tape on them. The plates and cups for the food and drink are crime scene tape yellow.

I'm serving smoked salmon (sent to me by my friend in Wasilla AK), crackers, a plate of meats and cheese, and delicious cookies from Coffee Etc.

The scene is set. Hopefully between 11 and 4 some people will show up to hear about my book, maybe buy a copy, sign up for the drawing for the first four books in the series and lunch out with me at Coffee Etc. (Love that place and the people who own it).

I'll give a full report, good or bad.

If you happen to be in the area of the Springville Baptist Church today, Saturday, Feb. 28th do drop by. (The church is on Bogart Dr. off Highway 190, 1 mile before the town of Springville. You can't miss it the church is at the top of the hill.)

aka F.M. Meredith

Friday, February 27, 2009

Making Up Names for Characters

Characters names should really be special in one way or another. I have a system for picking names. I save graduation programs, Christmas programs, lists of names in the newspapers. When I'm trying to come up with a new name, I go through these and find a first name I think fits the character's personality and another last name that goes with the first name.

I try not to have characters whose names start with the same letter, however I have two detectives with last names that begin with M. Detective Milligan and Marshall. This is what happens when writing a series. These characters had prominent spots in other books, not the same one, and then ended up together in the last couple.

To complicate it even more, there's also Chief McKenzie. Probably when I started writing this series I didn't even think about having rules about names starting with the same letter. (I think I favor the letter M because of having two names myself beginning with M.)

Another thing that's important is not to have names that rhyme or have the same number of syllables--though I'm sure I've broken the second rule too.

It's also helpful if you have names that people can pronounce. That's my gripe about too many of the fantasy and science fiction--if I can't pronounce a name, I'll never remember it.

But if you name all your characters simple names like Jane, Mary, Bill, Bob and Jim, the reader will have a hard time remembering those too.

The great mystery/thriller writer David Morrell says when he starts a new book, he puts all the character names on a spread sheet and checks to see that he hasn't broken any of these rules.

That's what I have to say about naming characters.

Marilyn aka F.M. Meredith

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review of Rachel's Tears

Rachel’s Tears
Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott

This is a reprint of the same book that came out after the tragic Columbine school massacre with some added interviews.

Though I read the book the first time it came out, watched lots of TV coverage, including talks given by her father after the shooting, the story of this young woman and her tremendous faith, brought me to tears once again. Losing a child is one of the most horrible things any parent can go through.

What Rachel’s Tears does is let the reader know what the parents and siblings experienced and felt during this excruciating ordeal. More important though, is what they found out about Rachel through her own words in her journals and from her friends.

This young woman’s faith was far stronger and more real than many adults who profess their Christianity. Through the few years she had on this earth, she touched many lives. Through her death, she touched many, many more.

Rachel’s Tears is well worth a second read. For teens growing up now, this would make an excellent gift.

Marilyn Meredith
Author of Kindred Spirits, a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery
and No Sanctuary, a Rocky Bluff PD Crime novel.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Choosing a Roommate From Those Who Plot Murder

Doesn't seem like anyone with good sense would actually do that, but it happens all the time among the mystery community.

Every time a mystery convention draws close appeals for roommates turn up on various lists, they usually say something like:

Looking for female roommate, Non smoker--or male roommate,non smoker. What makes it so intriguing, is that among these potential female or male roommates are people who figure out ways to kill people. I know this, because these same folks turn up on the same or other lists asking questions like: What would be a good poison that would look like natural causes? Or what kind of medication put into a drink wouldn't taste bad and would knock a man out for at least two hours? What kind of gun could kill someone who was shooting from 50 yards away? Actually the questions posed are far more intricate than what I made up here.

So, you ask for the roommate and hope he or she doesn't want to experiment on you, right?

Actually, I've been one of these people who actually had a mystery roommate, more than once.

The first time was when the one I'd planned to room with backed out and a friend suggested a woman from Sisters in Crime who was also attending the conference. I didn't see her for the first time until midway through the first day. She turned out to be a wonderful roommate.

Once I roomed with a lady I did know vaguely and she wasn't quite as good a roommate since her belongings took up the entire room and even spilled onto my bed. I had to ask her to move them.

I made arrangements with another gal via the Internet to be roomies at a conference in Burlingame WA. Her name sounded so familiar I was sure I'd met her before. I hadn't. We had a great time together, in fact we went on to be roommates in New York City for the Edgar awards and then on down to Arlington VA for Malice Domestic.

Hubby and even stayed at her house for a booksigning in Glendale and the L.A. Book Festival. Needless to say we're good friends now. We plan to be roommates for Bouchercon in 2010 in San Francisco.

Another good roommate was a fellow Sister in Crime--we knew each other from several venues, book signings, talks at libraries and other conferences. We did Bouchercon in Alaska--fantastic experience all around.

Usually I take my regular roomie with me--my husband. He likes to attend most of these conferences, but it can be expensive.

I have heard of some of these roommate pairings that haven't been so wonderful, but as yet haven't heard of a murder coming from one.

The whole idea struck me funny last night and figured I ought to write about it.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Review for No Sanctuary and Stuff

Received a new review for No Sanctuary.

A car accident or a murder? That is the question Officer Stacey Wilbur faces when she find a car smashed into a tree while working the night shift for the Rocky Bluffs Police Department. Stacey immediately phones Detective Doug Milligan who responds to the scene. It doesn’t take long to figure out that the victim had been shot in the head.

The victim is identified as Mallory Cookmeyer, wife of a prominent local minister. Rev. Paul Cookmeyer is shocked to hear of his wife’s death but can offer no suggestions as to who might want her dead. As Doug and Stacey and the other detectives work the case they find that there are a number of suspects including Paul Cookmeyer, his secretary, Ms Danfelt, the choir director, a minister of another church as well as that minister’s wife. When it is revealed that Mallory was pregnant, the case becomes even more complicated.

Stacey and Doug work together but are also romantically involved. Their relationship has not progressed rapidly since Stacey has a young son to rush home too and since they both work different shifts, their hours make dating difficult.

No Sanctuary is a good mystery with a bit of a surprise ending. Peeks into the lives of some of the other officers in the department make for interesting reading. Stacey leaves the investigation for a brief stint as an undercover officer, which adds another dimension to the story.


This is the hard part after sending out review copies, waiting to see what the reviewers have to say.

I enjoyed writing No Sanctuary and I've really had a good time promoting it. Right now I'm in the process of writing a new book in the series. It's been difficult. Besides losing the first eight chapters and regaining most of the first seven, I still had two missing scenes. I've now rewritten them.

Writing this book has not been easy. I'm in the midst of another remodeling project. This time my grandson and a friend are doing the work, much more pleasant than our last project with people I didn't know running in and out. However, it is distracting, plus grandson wants me to come and take a look every now and then.

A step-granddaughter and her two darling little babies are visiting with my d-i-l next door. They eat many of their meals over here with us. I think my husband would prefer if we were along, but I like having people around--that's the way it was when I was growing up. We always had family or friends over for dinner and raising five kids, it was the same through our younger married years.

The only thing, when I'm working, I wish everyone could be a tad more considerate.

Now it's time to cook dinner. I enjoy cooking and my d-i-l always cleans up, which is a win/win situation as far as I'm concerned. Tonight it's pineapple, green pepper chicken with rice. One of my made-up recipes.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars/Little Slow This A.M.

What I'd most like to do when I come downstairs is get right to my writing. Instead, today I had to do some household chores and laundry.

When I downloaded my email, I saw that I had several things that needed tending. My wonderful Oak Tree Press publisher is putting some of my older books on Kindle and wanted a cover. I'm helping a fellow who is going to teach a class for residential providers spruce up the outline and he had a new one for me to look at.

I had a couple of posts that needed answers right away.

I'm presenting at Epicon (the conference for those who are electronically published) and the chairperson needed my handouts for the conference booklet.

And I suspect you've already guessed that I'm going to blame all this on the Oscars. Yep, I did stay up later than usual to watch them. I've always been a movie buff. Hubby and I try to go at least once a week, though sometimes there isn't anything we really want to see and in that case we watch whatever Netflix movies have arrived in our mailbox. (I have a penchant for weird movies--titles no on has ever head of, or foreign films--and we've some terrific ones, but also some that were awful.)

My dad worked for Paramount when I was growing up and we went to the movies every Friday night. I collected movie star autographs and cut photos of my favorites out of movie magazines and put them on my closet doors.

Unfortunately, this year I haven't seen many of the Oscar choices--and some of them I know I won't ever see. The winners last year didn't appeal to me at all. I've seen lots of movies last year I enjoyed, but hardly any of them made it to the Oscars.

It seems the winners have to be terribly sad movies with lots of angst. Or movies about people who aren't likable. Frankly, I'd rather laugh, cry and be entertained.

We loved Australia for instance...and we saw Mama Mia with our grown daughters who sang and danced down the aisles.

I like scary movies too, as long as they aren't too gory.

After saying all that, I still sat through the Oscars, enjoyed seeing the stars and their clothes, hated the political statements, don't think the Oscars are the place for such--movie stars don't have a clue--and thought the production itself was great. Hugh Jackman was terrific--who knew he could sing and dance?

Now, it's time to really get to work.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Learning More About Myself and How I Write

When I lost eight chapters of the book I'm working on, I was devastated. I used the Search tool on the computer but couldn't come up with anything. I'd about decided to forget the whole thing as I was sure I couldn't reconstruct what had disappeared into cyberspace.

Then I remembered that I had an off-site back-up. All I need to do was figure out how to use it and find what I'd lost. That took a long time. I'm slow to catch on to all this new-fangeled computer stuff. But, finally, I found and restored it, all but the last two scenes I'd written. They are gone forever.

I had big plans to rewrite them the very next day--but one thing after another happened and I couldn't get to it. I tried again the next day. Realized I had to go through everything I'd already written to get up to speed and of course there were lots of interruptions while I was doing that. By the time I actually had time to write, my heart wasn't in it.

What I was able to do, though, was jot down what I knew the next scenes were about.
What's complicated about this book, and all the Rocky Bluff P.D. books, is there are multiple points of view--things are happening to different people at the same time.

When my son-in-law was a police officer what he thought was the biggest flaw in books about police work and TV shows was that they don't work on one case at a time. Lots of stuff is happening all the time. And while stuff is happening at work, stuff is also happening with the families. Both affect each other. That's what I'm trying to show in this series.

Another thing, that my first reviewer didn't get, and I'm not sure why, is that each scene is from a different view point character and the narrative is essentially that character's thoughts and feelings.

No matter how much I wanted to recreate those missing scenes today, when it got to be afternoon, I just couldn't do it. As Scarlett said, "There's always tomorrow."

Just to give you an idea of the kind of interruptions I had:

My fax quit working and I was supposed to send a fax to a bookstore about consignment for books I'll be selling at a conference.

Got an email from the conference that my handouts for classes I'm giving were needed this weekend--the classes were not the first ones I was asked to do, so had to write new handouts.

My daughter-in-law's mother and step-father arrived for a surprise visit (her birthday is this Sunday) unfortunately my daughter-in-law didn't plan to be home all day. Called d-i-l and spoiled surprise but thought she ought to know since they'd come from a long ways away. She said she'd call them--but their cell phone doesn't work up her in the foothills. Sent husband out to find them and give them a message of where and when to meet daughter.

A young man arrived to do some weed-whacking but husband wasn't home to give him instructions so I had to do it.

That's the way it goes around here most of the time. It's a wonder I get any writing done at all.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

First Review in for No Sanctuary

The first review of No Sanctuary was on DorothyL this morning. DorothyL is a list for mystery readers and writers. Readers tell about books they've read and so do writers who also promo their own books. I offered a copy of No Sanctuary to the first three people who asked. This is the first review from that offer.

"As far as I could determine, one did not have to have read the earlier books in order to understand or appreciate this one. The book itself is an easy-to-read trade paperback with a very large typeface and good quality paper. It is a police procedural with a decidedly cozy feel.

Stacey Wilbur, a police officer in the Rocky Bluff Police Department, comes across a car accident. She finds a woman dead at the wheel. The cause of death is not the car crash but a bullet behind her ear. The victim is the wife of a popular minister, Paul Cookmeyer. Who would want this beautiful, sophisticated woman dead? When Stacey delivers the news of his wife's death, she finds the minister strangely unmoved by the news. As the investigation proceeds, we find that Mallory Cookmeyer was not the perfect minister's wife and that hers was not the perfect marriage. As the detectives unravel the strands of the mystery, several threads lead to members of the church family, other churches, and the community at large.

It is difficult for me to write about this book because I felt as if it were written for a far less sophisticated reader than me. In fact, I think it would be the perfect book for adults in a literacy or ESL program. The language is very simple. The plot is very straightforward. The characters are very one-dimensional. There is one subplot that makes me question whether or not the book would be suitable for a Christian audience or for very young middle school readers. The romance in the book never goes beyond hugging and light kissing. I thought the family relationship between Stacey, her parents, and her son was somewhat unrealistic, but then I'm not used to books where everyone is so good. There is very little internal dialog, so we never quite know what the characters are thinking in any given situation. The somewhat limited cast of suspects made the villain fairly apparent about halfway through the book.

I would recommend this book for those who prefer a sanitized view of murder, for those who like very linear reads, for church reading groups, for older readers who dislike reading about physical intimacy, for adults who are learning to read, and for ESL students who are learning to read English with fluency.

Jan Watson, who hopes this review will not be perceived as negative because, once she adjusted her mind set, enjoyed the book."

Since I've invited all my church friends to the launch for this book I thought the part about the church reading groups was good. And I admit, I shut the door of the bedroom, don't use bad language though the characters do sometime, but I just don't quote them. And I really do know cops who don't use bad language all the time.

All in all, it wasn't a bad review. Keep them coming.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Religious Icons, a Nightmare and a Tasty Lunch

A good writer friend invited me to visit the religious icon art exhibit at the Porterville Museum with another writer and herself and go out to lunch.

I've been really swamped, but decided I ought to go just to take a break and I could do a couple of errands. The night before I dreamed I did all the errands but forgot to meet the ladies at the museum.

This is what really happened. The woman who invited me told me she and the other writer would arrive at the museum around 10:30. I did my errands and arrived at the museum on time. The only folks in the museum were the docents. I went ahead and started viewing the icons. Someone from the museum told me I had a phone call, it was the woman who'd invited me to say the other lady hadn't arrived yet. If finished enjoying the museum, looked at everything and the first woman arrived to tell me she didn't know what to do as the one we were waiting for hadn't arrived but she'd left a note on her front door. Her cell phone rang and of course that was the missing person.

Since I'd already seen the exhibit, we all went to lunch together first, I went home and the other gals returned to the museum.

We ate at a cute restaurant with good food that always puts alfalfa sprouts on their sandwich. Years ago I took a five-year-old granddaughter there for lunch and she ordered a tuna sandwich. When she saw the sprouts peeking out around the sides, she asked, "Grandma, what are those weeds doing in my sandwich?" She's now 18 and we still laugh about the "weeds."

Back to the religious icons: They were painted by local artists, but looked just like icons of old--quite beautiful. Explanations accompanied each one, telling what they represented: most were Bible scenes of familiar stories, or Mary and Jesus, but there were a couple of the angel Gabriel telling Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, and several of angels.

At lunch we talked about writing subjects, a book someone had written about her grandmother that was a serial killer, different poets, and mutual writer friends.

All in all it was an interesting afternoon.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Disaster While Reworking a Chapter

While writing my latest Rocky Bluff crime novel, I've gotten as far as Chapter 8.

But I realize that I've put in something far too soon, so my project for today will be taking that out and finding a replacement. I'll save what I wrote though because it does need to be there, just not yet.

As usual, I'm far too anxious to get to the most exciting parts of the story. I love writing the suspenseful, dramatic scenes.

As I was working on this, I got distracted by an email sent to me with a movie clip--showed it to my husband and then something horrible happened. What I was working on completely disappeared. Eight chapter in my new novel no longer existed on Word. I did a Search, nothing.

Frustrated and heart sick, I refrained from screaming and crying, though I certainly felt like it. I prayed. I felt if I couldn't find the chapters, I probably wouldn't rewrite. The notes I'd written for the previous chapters I'd thrown away which included some research items.

A light dawned. I have a long-distance back-up service, Mozy, and if I could figure out how to find the file on yesterday's back-up and then how to restore it, the day might be saved.

It took a lot of work, but I did find it and then finally figured out how to restore it. All eight chapters are back, just not what I added this morning. I can live with that.

Wow! That was truly scary.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When to Take a Break

After all the problems we had yesterday which were finally resolved thanks to my handy hubby,last night I went to Bible Study--doing a great session on Esther and How Hard It is to Be a Woman. Most calming. Though it was pouring outside, it was nice and cozy in the house where the study was being held. Afterward, my granddaughter drove me hom.

Today I went to the bank and did some grocery shopping. Granddaughter Niki is here from Georgia with her two little ones and had to get some milk. Actually they are next door with my daughter-in-law, but they eat most meals over here. While traveling, Niki lost her ID, so that will have to be taken care of before she goes back home.

When I got home I finished my income tax which gave me a headache.

Pretty soon I've got to start thinking about our trip to Las Vegas. We're going to Epicon which actually is in Henderson NV--but we'll stay one night before and after the con with my sister. More about Epicon as it gets closer.

Received an e-mail from a writer friend I don't see much lately and she and another writer are going to visit the local museum on Thursday to view the icon art display and she asked if I'd like to join them and go to lunch afterward. My first instinct was to say no, but the more I thought about it, I decided it was about time to take a break from my computer, so I'm going.

But to kind of bring me back down to earth, my printer/fax had a blinking light that said the phone was off the hook. This fax isn't hooked to a phone--it has a separate line. Again I hollered for hubby. He has no computer savvy whatsoever, but he wiggled connections and the blinking message is no longer there.

Anyone wonder why I've been married to the man for 57 years?

Now I'm going to watch the tape I made of Medium last night.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Challenges and More

Glad this is a short month and once my commitment to blog every day is over, I can take a breather now and then.

It's not that easy to come up with something interesting to say each and every day--and maybe what I do say isn't that interesting.

We've had some challenges in our personal lives lately: heater went out during the coldest weak, telephone quit working, oven in stove quit working, well went dry. Thank God for a handy husband who manages to figure out how to fix things.

One of the toilets overflowed at church during the service--everyone pitched in to take care of that problem.

My daughter-in-law had to drive to the L.A. airport to pick up her daughter and children and I-5 is closed due to snow and she's having to drive through Tehachapi where there's probably even more snow. How she's going to get home, I have no idea.

And while all this is going on, I'm trying to squeeze in moments to do some promotion for No Sanctuary.

As Scarlet said, "There's always tomorrow" or something like that.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Just When I Think I'm Caught Up...

Feeling proud of myself because I'd written a couple of blogs ahead of time and had the set to go on the right date, twittered, put a new comment on Facebook, edited the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series and sent it off to the publisher--it's the 2010 offering, worked on the one that will follow a bit, did the laundry and other mundance tasks suddenly I realized there were some important things I need to do.

Every month I write the newsletter for the California Residential Services Association. I usually have it started by the middle of the month (now) and have gathered pertinent information to put in it. Haven't started, but do have some information, so tomorrow, working on that newsletter will be my first chore.

Of course, anyone who reads my blogs knows that I'm planning for my big launch for No Sanctuary the last Saturday of this month. I've made some flyers to mail out, they are in addressed stamped envelopes waiting for the time to get closer. I've given a book to the newspaper editor in hopes she'll put a review in the twice-monthly local paper, I've sent information to the next town's daily paper to put in their What's Happening section. Tomorrow I'm going to order cookies for the event from my favorite baker at our local coffee shop and put up a poster there, will put one in the post office and hopefully in the beauty shop window.

The first week in March, hubby and I will be driving to Las Vegas where we'll first visit my sister and her husband and then head to Henderson for Epicon. This is a convention for e-publishing. I know we'll be seeing some good friends we only see at this event and hopefully I'll be learning a lot more about promotion. I'll also see the publisher of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Mundania Press and the publisher of my Christian horror novels, Lee Emory of Treble Heart Books, over the years we've become good friends.

This means I need to get wtih it to figure out what clothes to pack--clothing is an important part of any convention and how many books to take for the bookstore.

In order to keep up with blogs, tweets and such, I'm taking along my new wireless mini-laptop. Hope it works okay. Of course I'm never without my Blackberry to receive emails.

And--I have a Deputy Tempe Crabtree manuscript to edit one more time before sending it in.



Sunday, February 15, 2009

At Last, Sunshine!

We live in the foothills of the Southern Sierra (Central California) and for the last two weeks we've had gloomy weather, lots of rain and a smattering of snow. There's lots of snow in the mountains making beautiful views. We really needed the rain because we're in our third year of drought. Weather man promises the biggest storm of all is coming tonight with snow levels perhaps down to 1000 feet--we live at 1000 feet.

Our weather is sort of like life--especially now with the economy the way it is--gloomy for awhile, then bursts of sunshine. Having lived through World WarII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Cold Wars and now what's going on in the Middle East, I can tell you that through all the gloom, there are always bright splashes of sunshine and happiness.

We've heard sad things like friends losing their jobs, salaries being cut, stocks in the toilet, and on a personal note, the lower oven in our wonderful stove pooped out on us yesterday while granddaughter was making a cake. We bought that stove new when we moved into our house in 1981 and it's helped me prepare thousands of great meals. Hubby is going to try and fix it. He is a fix-it person. Sometimes it works--he put a new pilot light igniter in our gas heater yesterday and fixed it.

Our son and grandson made it home over the grapevine despite predictions of snow. One of the bright spots.

I've been plugging along with my latest work-in-progress and hope to do more today.

Everyone in my family is healthy at the moment, always a bright note.

Plans for the launch of my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, No Sanctuary, are coming along great. For anyone interested, the book is now available at Amazon, at the and click on Dark Oak Mysteries, and to read the first chapter and order an autographed book, my website,

Even when it's dark and gloomy, I can usually find a bright spot of sunshine in my life. As I'm fond of saying, "I'm too blessed to be stressed."


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day and Other Stuff

Our church is having a Valentine's dinner, not sure exactly what's happening. Last I heard the men were cooking--but my husband knows nothing about it. Paid my money so I'm going.

In year's past, they've had other Valentine's dinners--great food and lots of silly games. One of the women who did a lot of it is now in the hospital, so makes me wonder if it's really going to happen.

We live in Central California, in the foothills, east and north of Bakersfield. During the winter, the mountains surrounding our 1000 foot location are covered with snow. Once in awhile the snow comes down right here. That's what's been happening. For those of you who trudge through snow all winter probably can't appreciate how delighted we are when it does snow here.

One year it snowed a lot. The school closed. Of course all the kids were everywhere playing in the snow--including the school yard. At the time we had two grandkids living with us, one in grammar school and the other in middle school (same location). Older one, grandson, had all his friends here most of the day because their mothers were at work. They used our trash can lids to slide down the hills. They built a huge snowman by the road (it lasted for days after the rest of the snow was gone).

Of course none of these kids had proper snow clothes so they kept coming in and changing clothes and I'd have to wash and dry the wet ones.

They had a great time, me not so much. However, looking back, it was a fun memory.

Happy Valentine's Day!

And remember, No Sanctuary is now available as an e-book on Kindle, a trade paperback on Amazon and the publisher's site: and click on Dark Oaks books or an autographed copy from me at:

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bucket List

On other blogs people are doing this blog list, checking the things they have done. The hook is you're supposed to send it to 20 people, not something I like to do, so decided to do the list here and I added a few that I have done and took off the ones I haven't.

Things you have done during your lifetime:
(x) Gone on a blind date--sure have, that's how I met my husband.
(x) Skipped school--only did this the last week of my senior year in high school. Teachers weren't paying any attention, almost every senior was missing.
(x) Watched someone die--yes, my son from multiple-myeloma, it was a blessing, though he is truly missed.
(x) Been to Mexico--went a lot when I was a kid, went once on a date with an older boyfriend, and several times on cruises.
(x) Been to Florida--to Tampa and Orlando, both to writers conferences.
(x) Been to Hawaii--with my mom when she was 80 and my sis--we had a wonderful time. Back again with hubby when I was fortunate enough to be teaching at the Maui writer's retreat.
(x) Been on a plane--many, many time.s
(x) Been on a helicopter--did this in Kauai with my mom and sis.
(x) Been lost--several times while driving.
(x) Gone to Washington, DC--yes but only while passing through never the tourist thing.
(x) Swam in the ocean--oh yes, Pacific Ocean many, many times and the Atantic.
(x) Cried yourself to sleep--Nope
(x) Been to New York--to go to the Edgars, loved it, would like to go again.
(x) Been to a nudist colony--many, many years ago.
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn'--yes and wish I hadn't.
(x) Made prank phone calls--when I was a teen.
(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose--who hasn't?
(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue--would love to do it again.
(x) Written a letter to Santa Claus--way long time ago.
(x) Been kissed under the mistletoe--also long time ago.
(x) Watched the sunrise with someone--do when we go to Easter Sun Rise service.
(x) Blown bubbles
(x) Gone ice-skating--once and it was disastrous.
(x) Gone to the movies--we try to go once a week.
(x) Been deep sea fishing--when we lived in Oxnard went a couple of times.
(x) Driven across the United States, three times, once in a VW and we tent-camped every night.
(x) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars--best time was in the mountains when the stars were racing across the sky, spectacular.
(x) Seen a falling star and made a wish--of course.
(x ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser--on a great camping trip with husband and youngest son.
(x) Been on a cruise--to Mexico several times.
(x) Traveled by train--all the way from California to Washington DC to get married. Have gone to Sacramento to meeting via train, once in a train wreck.
(x) Traveled by motorcycle--when I was 8 months pregnant, we had no car at the time.
(x) Been horse back riding--yes, but I don't like it.
(x) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR--lots of fun.
(x) Been to Disneyland, several times, with my kids, grandkids, and my developmentally disabled women I was caring for.
(x) Seen whales and dolphins in the ocean--from a cruise ship and from shore in San Luis Obispo County.
Never been to the Olympics but my dad won a silver medal for weightlifting in the Olympics.
(x) Been water-skiing and jet skiing, but those days are over.
(x) Been to a Major League Baseball game--years ago, back when I worked in L.A.
(x) Been to Alaska--twice, been to a remote village and Wasilla. Rode in a Suburban as it was being driven on a frozen river.
(x) Had over 20 books published--need to count them one of these days.

Silly thing to do, isn't it?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Working on Virtual Blog Tour

I know why I forgot to post on Tuesday and it wasn't merely because of going on errands all day.

Because I'm going on a virtual blog tour the month of March, I've had a lot of assignments to write articles for different blogs. Of course they all have to be different and unique--and sometimes it's hard for this old brain to come up with something that might be entertaining, instructive, and/or amusing. I worked on a couple yesterday evening--then I went to bed and watched NCIS and part of another show, but fell asleep. At 4 a.m. I was wide awake--and came downstairs and wrote two more articles that I'd thought of during the night.

So I'm blaming not writing a blog for Tuesday on just having too many other things to write.

Blog tours are fun, and it's amazing the kind of things the different bloggers want you to do.

Oh, and to add to my confusion yesterday, the copies of No Sanctuary that I ordered from the publisher arrived. They look great!

Now it's time to send copies out to reviewers.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Darn, I Missed A Day of Blogging!

I don't know what happened, I was sure I'd blogged yesterday, but it didn't show up--and I probably didn't do it.

Yesterday was a busy day. I had a doctor appointment in the afternoon so we decided to go to town and do a bunch of errands. The bank was first, then we headed to Smart and Final where I purchased some supplies for my physical book launch at the Springville Baptist Church. I'm going to decorate the room sort of like a police station--at least I'm planning to put up signs like Rocky Bluff P.D., Interrogation, Fingerprinting, etc. Using the colors from crime scene tape, the table cloths are black, napkins, dishes, cups, yellow. Hoping to get some crime scene tape from a friend.

From there we went to Office Max and picked up some more supplies, paper, and the kind of sticky stuff you can use to stick posters to the wall that won't leave any marks. Had two prescriptions to pick up. We ate lunch at Rosa's Italian Restaurant where an ex-daughter-in-law works and had delicious individual pizzas. Then we went to Target for some personal items. We had about 40 minutes to kill before my appointment so we stopped at McDonald's for our favorite flavored ice coffee.

We enjoyed them while waiting in the Doc's parking lot until time for me to go in. There I had to wait an hour before I saw the doc--learned it was time for another colonoscopy--oh joy, and he's going to also look at my esophagus at the same time, so I be having both ends checked out at the same time.

We came home, had dinner, and I did some computer work, but obviously forgot all about this blog.

But, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.


Don't forget, you can order an autographed copy of No Sanctuary from my website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kindle, Amazon's e-book reader and Lingering Spirit

My new publisher, Oak Tree Publishing, put an old romance of mine on Kindle--and amazingly it was there in a matter of hours. Lingering Spirit, and be found here: A romance with a touch of the supernatural the story was based on a family tragedy. Of course I fictionalized it, but it is based on fact.

My daughter was married to a police officer who wanted to move where there was less crime and became a deputy in a mountain community where he was killed in the line of duty.

This son-in-law is the one who sparked my interest in writing about law enforcement and the people who serve. He loved to come to my house in the a.m. after his shift, have a cup of coffee and tell me what he'd encountered the night before. Because his own mother had deserted him and his brother when they were little children, I became a mother figure to him. Losing him was tragic to all who knew and loved him.

I do hope some folks with Kindle will read Lingering Spirit and enjoy it.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Review: The Great Eight--Scott Hamilton

How wonderful to read a story about a celebrity who really is the kind of man we all thought him to be. Anyone who has been a fan of figure skating, recognizes Scott Hamilton’s engaging smile and his voice when he is an announcer at a skating competition. And if you’re old enough, like me, you remember how much fun it was to watch Scott skate.

The Great Eight, Scott Hamilton

How wonderful to read a story about a celebrity who really is the kind of man we all thought him to be. Anyone who has been a fan of figure skating, recognizes Scott Hamilton’s engaging smile and his voice when he is an announcer at a skating competition. And if you’re old enough, like me, you remember how much fun it was to watch Scott skate.

I learned a lot I didn’t know about Scott reading The Great Eight, which represents the figure eight which he practiced and practiced while learning to skate–and his eight secrets for living a happy life.

Though I knew about the cancer which afflicted him in his later years, I knew nothing about the illness he suffered as a child, or how short he is–a fact that didn’t keep him from achieving his dreams. His philosophy and the secrets he shares about how to live a happy life no matter what sadness or affliction might be are wonderful tools that can be shared with anyone.

This book would make a wonderful gift for anyone–a young person struggling with the problems of growing up, someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, or for just for a fun read about someone who almost everyone knows about.

Marilyn Meredith, as F.M. Meredith, author of No Sanctuary
Marilyn Meredith, as F.M. Meredith, author of No Sanctuary

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Ghostly Encounters

Because of a fascination with all things ghostly, I'm always delighted when we're going to stay at a hotel and learn that it's haunted.

The Queen Mary, permanently moored in Long Beach, CA has a long history of being haunted. Once a troop ship during WWII, it was attacked and many died. They have a ghost tour (phony, but fun) which of course I took. We went to a convention of the Queen Mary and stayed for three days and four nights. Believe me, you can feel the presence of other beings--or at least the echo of former presence. Everything on the QM is more or less as it used to be. One night I took the elevator to my deck and found myself all alone in the long corridor. Believe me, it was definitely eerie--even more so when I couldn't find my room. I had to go all the way to the middle of the ship and walk back in order to find it. Someone took photos and the awards ceremony and interesting little phantom blogs showed up all around people.

The old hotel across from the Alamo was said to be haunted. In the night, someone kept knocking on doors. My thought was, why didn't people give their roommates or kids a key so we didn't have to put up with all that annoying knocking? Finally I peeked out--the knocking continued, but no one was there.

We stayed at the Bella Magfoire Bed and Breakfast in Ventura CA--once a hotel, a rooming house, then a flop house that was said to have a ghost. The room we stayed in definitely had an aura--but it wasn't the haunted room. The next time we went we asked for the haunted room 17. It was dinky and shared a balcony with another larger room. Because the hotel is near the beach, it isn't air-conditioned. But our room was overly warm despite two fans. The only window was a transom over the door, so we left the door open. At least until our neighbor warned us he was having a surprise birthday party on the balcony at 10 p.m. for his girlfriend with live music.

We shut the door when we went to bed. At 10 the party began, lovely music actually with a Spanish harp and a guitar and romantic songs. The party only lasted about an hour. Finally, to sleep but no ghost, not even any feelings of a ghost.

My daughter said she looked up the hotel and learned Room 17 was haunted by a prostitute who had committed suicide, but she only appeared to men. My husband slept through the party, so he probably slept through any attempts the ghost made to seduce him.

My son-in-law, a law enforcement officer, was killed in the line of duty. Terribly sad time, my daughter was devastated as were her three young sons. I went up to be with her and took care of her 3 year old son and a friend's five year old daughter at her house while everyone went to the rosary. I was in the living room where I could see both outside doors, the little girl came out from playing in the bedrooms and said, "Marilyn, there's a big man in Lori's bedroom."

Though I didn't see him, I knew it was my son-in-law. Later, when everyone came back to the house, his radio in the garage came on really loud on the Country Western station he loved to listen to. I think he wanted people to know he was still around.
My daughter and her children all felt him kiss them goodbye.

(I wrote a book with some similarities to what happened called Lingering Spirit that will soon be available on Kindle.)

We live in a very old house where many people have come and gone. All my grandkids say it's haunted. All I can say is doors do open and close when no one is there.

What do I believe about ghosts? One, I don't think they can hurt you. I think sometimes people are surprised when by their death (as in cases of accidents) and are reluctant to move on. I'm a Christian and definitely believe in Heaven and everything else the Bible says, but even the Bible talks about spirits and admonishes us not to call spirits back.

I also think that echoes of people who once inhabited a place can be felt--as on the Queen Mary. It is so much the way it used to be when it was the famous luxury liner, the past radiates from within its walls.

And if I have the opportunity to stay in another haunted hotel, believe me, I will.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Contrast of Movies

We went to see Coraline, the 3D animated movie. Yes, we enjoyed it, though it would've been just as good without the 3D. Admission cost more because of the 3D glasses. Reminded me of a kind of scary children's book, but it was beautifully done--and hours and hours of work had to have gone into this movie.

When we came home, we had a new DVD from Netflix, 88 Minutes with Al Pacino. Wow! That was one intense movie. A mystery, my favorite kind. This is the kind of movie that even if you're sleepy, there's no way you will fall asleep.

Action packed and full of twists with the suspense mounting to a really surprising and intense climax.

I'm writing this on Friday, what has come to be our day off. Tonight we'll watch Ghost Whisperer and then Friday Night Lights. As you can tell, we both like contrasts.

Tomorrow, I'll be back at work on my latest--and probably do a bit more promo--but Friday was my day for fun.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Learning to Juggle and TGIF

That's what it seems like I'm doing.

I've always had to juggle my writing life and my regular life. Now, the juggling is going on in my writing life.

Having to series going at the same time is interesting--can't think of a more descriptive word--though I could have used any of the following: terrifying, frustrating, mind-boggling. I'm sure you get the idea.

This is what I'm doing right now:

Working on the promotion for No Sanctuary. Books don't sell without promoting them.
Doing a lot of online promo and planning a book launch.

Doing edits on the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. It's done, I just need to check it before sending it off to my publisher at Oak Tree Press. And--I'm writing another in that same series. I have a great plot going and don't want to lose momentum while it's percolating in my brain.

In the mean time, my wonderful publisher is putting some books that I've gotten the rights back from the former publishers up on Amazon's Kindle. Before she does that, they need to be looked at one more time. That's what I did this a.m. That book is a romance with a touch of the supernatural, Lingering Spirit.

And I've made a commitment to do a new blog everyday--that takes time to. I don't want to just babble, I want to put up a blog someone might be interested in reading.

That's my juggling act and I hope I don't drop the ball.

And TGIF as this is the day hubby and I take off to be together, go to the movies, eat lunch out, and do a few errands.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Public Safety Writers Newsletter

As many of you know, I've been promoting the Public Safety Writers Association's writing conference coming in June. I'm the program chairman and I can tell you that we have some wonderful people coming to share their expertise. Everyone who wants to be on a panel will have that opportunity.

But right now, I'd like you to know that a brand new newsletter is on the website:

This can be read by anyone and there are some interesting articles in it, just click on Mid-Winter Newsletter.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Love with My Blackberry but...

Anyone who knows me also knows I'm never without my Blackberry. I seldom use it for a phone--but receiving and sending email is wonderful. This is my second Blackberry--this one is red. My first one was blue. Why do they call them Blackberry?

With the first one, I thought it was magic. All the way in New York City (I live in California) my email came to me and I could answer it.

This new one is even better than the first one--Internet comes in better and I can get rid of emails either off the device or off the device and off the computer at home. (More magic.)

Guess what? I just got a new mini-laptop to take with me on trips. It's wireless so I should be able to get emails and post with it, keep up to date with my blogs and twitter (main reason I got it) and keep working on whatever manuscript I'm in the middle of. (I know never end with a preposition, but too bad, I'm in a hurry.)

Will I give up my Blackberry--heaven's no! I can peek at my emails during boring presentations at conferences (fortunately they aren't many of them), read and answer emails in the doctor's office (did that yesterday), and just peek at it anytime that I have to wait for something.

So now I have two loves--the Blackberry and the mini laptop. Oh dear!

Marilyn and that's where you can order No Sanctuary.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

LIfe Once Again Took Over

I'm determined to post every day. However, I had the opportunity Sunday to hop in the big SUV with my granddaughter Melissa and great granddaughter Carolyn to head up to Lake Don Pedro to see another granddaughter's Merenda) brand new baby! Of course I grabbed my nightie and a few essentials and went.

Melissa is an exciting driver--at times I felt like I was on Toad's Wild Ride.

I'm using everyone's first name because it gets to confusing with all the grands and greats. Melissa and Merenda are sister and their mom (my daughter, Lisa) was already there and had been for about a week helping out.

Merenda live in a brand new house that her husband built and what a house it is! A great pastoral view looking over grazing land, rolling hills and all the way to the valley. I hadn't seen the house before so I got the grand tour.

The baby, Jaslyn, is darling and very good...always nice with a first baby.

We had a great time gabbing, eating, more gabbing, oohing and ahhing over the baby. When it was time for bed, midnight, (haven't stayed up til midnight for years) Lisa and I retired to the guest bedroom, however sleep wasn't easy because the younger ones stayed up most of the night gabbing and playing and caring for the baby. Then the alarm rang at 6 a.m. for new daddy to get up for work.

Sleep deprived, we did a whole lot more gabbing and oohing and ahhing over the baby. We brought lunch in and then reluctantly left in the mid afternoon. Melissa and I talked all the way home (Carolyn slept) to make sure we didn't go to sleep.

It was fun and I'm glad I went.

Now back to work.


Monday, February 2, 2009

My Best Advice to New Authors

1. If you want to be a writer, you must write. Too often I run into people who say they are going to write a book, but haven’t even begun. Being a writer means that you write. You need to write nearly every day. It’s best if you pick a time that works best for you, even if it means getting up two hours before your usual time.

2. Keep on writing until you’re finished with your project. It’s far too easy to quite when you’re only half way done. There are some books I’ve written that never got published, but I did finish them.

3. Once you’re done set aside for at least two weeks. When you pick it up again you’ll either be surprised by how much work it needs, or that is a pretty good book–or story.

4. No matter what you’ve decided about the value of your work, now is the time to do the real work. Edit your project.

Look for and eliminate overused words and phrases.
Get rid of adverbs and replace with the verb that accurately describes the action.
Like everyone will tell you, “Show, Don’t Tell.” That means let the most exciting scenes unfold on the page for the reader to read what happens as it happens.
Make sure you’ve stayed in the point-of-view of the character who has most at stake in a scene.
Is there enough white space?
Do pronouns refer back to the correct noun?
Is the dialogue realistic and does it move the plot along?

Of course I could write much, much more on each topic, but that gives you a brief idea of what you should be looking for.

5. Join a critique group, either one you can attend in person or on line.

6. When you think the work is ready to be sent out, if you can afford an editor, hire one to go over the work. If you can’t afford one, perhaps you can exchange editing services with another author.

7. Research agents who are interested in the kind of work that you write. Of, if you are going the small press route, research publishers who publish the kind of book you’ve written.

8. Write the most outstanding query letter possible with absolutely no errors. It should only be one page whether you’re mailing it or sending via email. (Be sure you do whatever the agent or publisher’s guidelines ask.) A query should have one paragraph about the book, one paragraph why you were the one to write it, and one paragraph about your writing credentials. Send lots of queries at once.

9. Once you get a go-ahead send exactly what the person asked for and in the format in the guidelines.

10. While you are waiting for an answer, start another book. Don’t let rejections stop you. If the rejection has criticism that will help the book use it. Otherwise, just keep sending out queries and when asked, manuscripts. Write, write, write.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Taken, the Movie and Other Tidbits

Hubby and I went to see Taken starring Liam Neeson. This movie will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. Neeson did a tremendous job--but let me tell you that if you have teenage daughters you'll never ever let them go on a vacation out of the country unless you are along!

It was our day out--we always go to the movies in the day time for several reasons; it's cheaper, we can do errands on either side of the time spent in the movie, and we can have a nice lunch out--and still get home early.

Of course while I'm out, I always get messages on my Blackberry of things I really need to take care of. Received a message from each of my publishers that I had to take care of.

Back to movies, we like to see an exciting movie one time and funny or light-hearted one the next. While watching the previews though, we always decide which movie we'll try to see in the theater and which ones we'll wait to watch on DVD.

Anyone else do that?