Showing posts from April, 2009

Coming Next

We have a busy weekend planned.

Saturday, May 2nd it's back to Fresno and the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime. I'm the speaker this month--and I've been asked to answer lots of questions about writing, how I schedule my writing time, how I handle writer's block and various other topics. Of course I'll be bringing copies of my latest two books, No Sanctuary and Kindred Spirits. I'm always tickled to see all my Sisters.

When we get home, we'll attend our church's youth groups' Spaghetti Dinner, a fund raiser for the kids to go to camp this summer. Hubby does NOT like spaghetti, but he'll bite the bullet and attend. It's only $5 a plate, so who can complain?

On Sunday, we're attending the wedding of an ex-daughter-in-law. She and our son divorced years ago--but she gave us two grand-sons who are now grown. They are both participating in the ceremony. Afterward, the reception is being held in the Italian restaurant where she's been …


Yesterday visiting daughter and son-in-law, hubby and I went to the movies and saw Earth. Documentaries are not my usual choices for movie viewing. However, to truly enjoy the amazing film, seeing it on the big screen is the better choice.

James Earl Jones narrates as the camera catches spectacular images of this amazing planet we live on. It's not the Seven Wonders of the World, but it covers Antartica, the Arctic, the desert and rain forest and some of the creatures who live in each place.

If you go to see it, stay through the credits--shows you some of what the people who took the photos went through--entertaining stuff.

Off to prepare breakfast for my family.

Mary Higgins Clark and Other Famous Writers

Over the years I've met several authors who fall into the category of Best Selling and Famous.

Probably the one who falls into the category who has the most recognizable name is Mary Higgins Clark. I met Ms. Clark for the first time when I attended my very first mystery conference. It was held in a camping center with rather primitive accommodations. We did have rooms that you had to share and not necessarily with someone you knew--there were only a certain amount of beds. My sis and I shared our room with a stranger who wasn't at all happy. The ground was uneven and sensible shoes were needed.

No one bothered to tell Ms. Clark what the area was like. Her clothing was what you'd expect someone to wear in a much classier environment. She had dressy outfits, wore nylons and high-heeled shoes. Despite this, which I knew must've made her uncomfortable, she was a nice and approachable as could be. It was a small conference and everyone had the opportunity to get to know her.


Back From L.A. Times Book Festival

If possible, every author should try to go to the L.A. Times Book Festival. It's eye and mind boggling. Thousand and thousands of people attend. Is it worth it as far as welling your own books? No, because there's far too much competition from all the big name authors like Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter. (They also appeared on stage and if you had gotten a free ticket ahead of time you could of seen them being interviewed--same with many other celebrities who have written books.)

I've been three times and I've decided this was my last. Not because of low book sales because I did fine in the Sisters in Crime booth, but I'm too old to be walking about a mile from the parking garage pulling a load of books in a carrier down hill to get to the venue and up hill to get back to the parking garage at the end of the day. (Plus it's scary driving around in L.A.)

Just being on the UCLA campus is wonderful. The buildings are old and beautiful. Seeing the sea of thousan…

Missing a Unique Time at Church

Because I'm at the L.A. Times Book Festival on the UCLA campus today, I am unable to attend church services at the Springville Baptist Church--the church where I've been a member since 1981.

Today is Youth Sunday, and our little church is celebrating by having the youth take over the entire service. Kids will be collecting the offering, singing and leading the singing, giving the announcements and the missions moment. And yes, two young men are each giving a sermon. One is sixteen and my great grandson, Brandon. The other is my granddaughter Jessica's fiance, Juan. Juan is nineteen.

Oh, how I'd love to be there and see and her how these kids do. I've heard Brandon preach before. He gets nervous and paces a lot.

Once his younger brother preached at one of these Youth Services, he was about 10. He preached about adultery. (The kids get to write their own sermons.) That was quite interesting--certainly kept everyone's attention.

I won't miss out completely as my …

L.A. Times Book Festival

I'm writing this in anticipation of what I'll be doing today. I'm attending the L.A. Time Book Festival on the U.C.L.A. campus today, Saturday the 25th and tomorrow, Sunday, the 26th.

I'll be signing copies of No Sanctuary in Booth # 610 in Section F from 1 to 2 on both days.

On Sunday, I'll also be at the Sisters in Crime booth from 10 to 12. That booth is located right in the middle of things. I'll be signing copies of Kindred Spirits as well as No Sanctuary.

Anyone who buys a book from me at either booth will get a free copy of Deadly Omen, the first book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

If you are there, please stop by and say "hi."

Earth Day Thoughts and My Sarcastic Views

While Earth Day was being celebrated, I thought about the people who were telling all of what we ought to be doing to "Save the Planet." Oprah had a program with all sorts of tips. My first thought was, "And what pray tell is Oprah herself actually doing to save the planet." I suppose her answer might be, "Through my very popular television show, I'm letting people know what they ought to be doing." Okay.

President Obama and his wife, Michelle, had a vegetable garden put into the White House lawn. Whoopee! I can't quite see Mr. President and his Mrs. out there wedding the garden. Oh, I'm sure they'll show their girls how to do this and that, but the back-breaking, sweat inducing real work that it takes to care for a vegetable garden? I don't think so.

What about all these movie stars who rant and rave about what "we" ought to be doing and have two or three private airplanes to fly wherever they want to go? I never have figured …

Forensic Handwriting Expert and Author, Sheila Lowe

Long, long ago and far, far away (well, Anaheim, CA) when I was a senior in high school, my boyfriend’s mother analyzed my handwriting from a book she’d read. Fascinated with the things she wrote about me, when I found a 25 cent booklet at the grocery store (this was 1967, when you could still find things for 25 cents) called Handwriting Analysis, a Guide to Your Hidden Self, I grabbed it up and started studying. For the next ten years I haunted the library and bookstores and read everything I could about handwriting analysis. When I finally discovered there were courses in this field, I was thrilled to bits, and the rest is, well, history.

Eventually, I became certified by the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation and a few years later, an attorney contacted me to handle a forgery case. I said I didn’t do handwriting authentication and couldn’t possibly testify in court. The attorney disagreed. He asked, “Do you know handwriting?” Well, yes. I’d been studying and working with hand…

Chester Campbell, author of The Surest Poison

Welcome to Chester Campbell, today’s guest blogger, whose writing career has spanned sixty years. His latest work is a mystery novel titled The Surest Poison, just published by Night Shadows Press. In it, three seemingly unrelated murders crop up during the investigation of a toxic chemical dump that plagues a rural community west of Nashville. PI Sid Chance is hired to find the party responsible for the pollution behind a small plant whose current owner is being harassed by the state. Sid is tailed, threatened, and shot at before encountering some nasty guys from his past.

In her Agatha Award-winning book Don’t Murder Your Mystery, Chris Roerden says, “Talking that offers no resistance, no characterization, and no meaningful interaction to move the story forward is not dialogue.”

So what is dialogue? To start with, it’s one of the most potent arrows in the writer’s compositional quiver. Dialogue is a form of action that can make your characters come alive.

If your dialogue is snappy, a…

A True Confession

As a kid, I was such a liar, telling such tall tales, complete with description and dialogue, that looking back, I remember some of those lies vividly like a true memory.

Sometimes the lie was to talk myself out of punishment. Back in those days, we could pretty much wander all over the neighborhood as long as we were home by dinner. My father wanted me and my sister at the dinner table, no matter what. There were limits though, my mom really didn't like for us to go visiting beyond the grammar school which was about three long blocks away. On this particular day, I went way, way past the school. First I visited a school friend named Marilyn Benedict (see how well I remember this?) and it was the first time I'd ever been there. Having gone that far, I though I'd visit a girl who was a year older than me who lived in a house that looked like a castle--much, much farther than I was allowed to venture. She wasn't home. But by this time is was getting very late and I knew I…

Hanford Book Fest Huge Success!

I've done a lot of book festivals and fests and you never know how they will turn out.

Sometimes the people who come are not the least bit interested in buying books. Sometimes the organizers haven't taken important details into account. Sometimes the event it outside and the weather discourages visitors. Sometimes the venue is far too small for the number of authors.

And sometimes everything is perfect! Such was the Hanford Book Fest. Fantastic for a first time event. It was inside, the room was large, though not many people came but more than I expected, they seemed to be interested in the books and purchased some.

Sunny Frazier (who spear-headed the whole thing) and the Hanford Libary and the woman who is in charge of the Veteran's Center and the vets who volunteered and helped out in so many ways are all to be commended.

And what a variety of authors and books! It was fun just to walk around and look at the books and talk to the authors.

Though I wasn't happy about havi…

Yosemite Romance Writers and Crazy Drivers

Yesterday I went to the Yosemite Romance Writers meeting and together we brainstormed about writing a romantic suspense. They came up with three very good ideas, complete with sleuth, side-kick or romantic interest and ideas for the crime and/or murder victim. We also talked about what had to be in a mystery to make it a mystery, as well as all the different genres.

It was a lot of fun for me as well as the members. What a friendly bunch--with one male attendee who is a new member.

We had a lovely lunch, what else at Marie Callendar's, complete with yummy pie for dessert, and they bought a lot of my books--always a good thing for an author.

The only drawback was driving to Fresno--not my favorite thing to do, but the traffic wasn't bad, even though everyone thinks they need to drive 80 plus miles an hour. And there were the few crazies on the road mostly after I go home and was driving on a two-lane rural road--one nut who kept passing over the double line even when cars were on…

Has Anything Disappeared From Your Computer?

I'm always diligent about saving things I'm working on--but a couple of times within the last few months, the gremlins have been busy.

First, was about 4 pages I'd written on my latest manuscript. Actually I lost the whole thing, but because I use Mozy to back-up while I'm sleeping, I was able to find the manuscript--just not the last four pages.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I did a five page program plan for working with diabetic clients and thought I saved it, to wait for the check to pay for the job. Check arrived today, do you think I could find the plan? No! And yes, I did a Search on the computer, nothing. Then I went to Mozy, not there.

So guess what I did tonight? Wrote the five page program plan from scratch. I've sent it off as an addendum.

Part of my problem is I'm stretched far too thin, this is what I'm doing or have recently done:

Reviewed 10 books for American Authors Association.

Read two mysteries and reviewed them for Simon and Schuster. Have one…

Family Matters

The title of this blog has a double meaning, family really does matter a lot to me as anyone knows who has been reading this blog. And family matters have been complicated as well as wonderful of late.

I'm not going into details, but sometimes family members clash and the fall-out is hurtful and especially to those who love them. The ones who are acting out never seem to realize that they are hurting far more than just the person they are lashing out at. We recently went through just such an incident.

On the other hand, family members sometimes do incredibly kind things. This one I will give the details about. One of my grown grandsons, his idea, brought four of his friend up. One brought along a riding mower. Armed with weed-whackers and walk-behind mowers, these young man tackled the weeds that had grown knee-high all over our nearly 2 acres. They did this for a tri-tip and chili bean dinner. Hubby barbecued the meat and I made my famous chili beans. We had tortillas, garlic toast…

Busy Weekend Coming Up

Saturday I'll be going to Fresno to present a program on "How to Write a Mystery" to the Yosemite Romance Writers. I've given this program a lot and it's great fun. Once we talk about the ingredients for a mystery, we'll come up with the idea for the sleuth, the murder victim, the possible murderers, the motive, and the location. Of course for romance writers, they'll need to be the added flavor of romance.

Sunday from 11 to 3, I'll be at the Veteran's Center on Irwin St., in Hanford CA's Heritage Park for a book fest. Thirty authors have signed on for this event, so if nothing else we should have a great time visiting with one another and looking over each other's books.

I'm going to be taking two members of my critique group, Shirley Hickman, who also will be bringing two of her books, and Lisa Duncan who is tagging along to see what we're up to.

This is all part of what authors must do to get their books out to the readers. At the …

LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books

Marilyn Meredith Featured Author
at the
LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books
Booth # 610
She will be signing her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime Novel, No Sanctuary

Signing Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26 at 1-2 p.m.
In Association with Authors' Co-op

UCLA Campus, Sat. & Sun, April 25 and 26
FREE Admission/Parking $9.
Easiest Parking at Structure 3 Near Hilgard & Sunset Boulevard
Westwood (Los Angeles Area), CA.
For a map of the on-campus event go to:
Look for the Authors' Coop banner in the F section near the food booths

Get a FREE gift book with your purchase of any book while supplies last.

Browse books of other authors.

Sign for Free handouts on promotion, editing and more (to be sent by e-mail).

P.S. If you miss Marilyn at either of those signings, you can find her at the Sisters in Crime booth on Sunday from 10 to 12.

Booth Sponsored by:
Marshall Turner's, Red Engine Press. Seri…

Leaving the Last Two Posts Up

Because I'd like everyone to have the opportunity to read Rob Walker's post about the background to his trilogy, I'm not posting anything new today.

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Rob Walker

Because I didn't manage to get Rob's photo on the preceding blog, here it is.



Ever wonder what goes on BEHIND the BOOK?Here is a behind the scenes look at how myHarperCollins Trilogy (City for Ransom, Shadows in WhiteCity, and City of the Absent – recently released for Kindle sales all over again) came about in the first place:
City for Ransom by Robert W. Walker, Avon\HarperCollins, 349 pgs., $6.77 pub. Date Dec. 28th2007I wrote City for Ransom, a big departure from my Instinct and Edge series work largely out of frustration that’d set in around the forensic novel right about the first CSI episodes and all the clones. I asked a simple question:“What’d the cops do before forensics?”

The answer sent me to gaslight Chicago 1893, a time when animal and human blood remained a mystery!Instantly, I knew I’d have to act the detective to ferret out the retired owner of the defunct Chicago history only bookstore--Chicago Book Exchange.Ieventually learned that the bookstore “lived” in a small bungalow in Evanston, Illinois, a house that held the Exchange stacks!Mr. Kenan …

A Quick Preview of Tomorrow's Blog

Today is one of "those" days. Had planned to have a great blog from guest Rob Walker about planning a triology.

Since both of us are a tad disabled when it comes to putting photos and book covers on blogs, I haven't been able to get the covers of all three books in the triology that he's writing about. If I still can't by tomorrow, I will be putting that most interesting blog up tomorrow.

As for today, I have a doctor's appointment. I'll get some reading done as I always have to wait at least an hour at the doc's.

Also, I read another wonderful book this weekend, not a mystery, Saffron Dreams, about a Muslim woman, her life in Pakistan, her marriage, her move to New York, and how 9/11 totally changed her life. It's a wonderful book with insights into a culture must of know nothing about.

The author is Shalia Abdullah and the book was published by Modern History Press. By the way the cover is absolutely gorgeous.

Remember, tomorrow a very special blog.


He is Risen!

I hope that's one of the songs we'll be singing this a.m. at the Easter Sunrise Service at our little church in Springville. I doubt we'll have much of a crowd since we didn't have any publicity that I know of--too much was happening to church members.

Our pastor and his wife are having big time car problems. Wife (who is also one of our daughters) borrowed our car to drive up to wear her daughter lives in order to care for new baby while daughter had a dental appointment.

Their other daughter (my granddaughter too of course, as is the new mom) has been horribly ill all week as well as her husband. They are finally on the mend.

The woman who has always been the one to spearhead all of our fun events is traveling with her husband. Another member who is a big worker, has also been sick.

Some sort of flu has been really making its rounds. Not only among church members, but everywhere it seems.

Mostly, I've just been playing catch-up. I have about ten books I need to read a…

Critique Group Celebrating Birthday

This is my wonderful critique group. We're celebrating the birthday of our founder, Shirley Hickman who is standing in back. From left to right, Jann, Kristi, Shirley, me and Brent.

We finished our session and were getting ready to eat the most delicious lemon cake I've ever had.

My critique group serves three purposes:

1. They are my first editor and they keep me on my toes.
2. They give me a chance to use my own editing skills.
3. They've become good friends and I look forward to spending time with them once a week.

They've listened to nearly all my books as I'm writing them, and then, God bless them, they end up buying a copy too.

I wish every author could be a part of as wonderful a critique group as I am.

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

Time to Do Some Cleaning

Yes, I do some chores every once in awhile. When I can, I hire someone else to do them. My d-i-l was cleaning for me regularly, but now she's gone to work with her hubby (my son) on a job where she's away from home weeks on end. Last week one of my grandsons did the floors and dusted--he's good at it, but he didn't get around to the bathrooms. We have three--all well used.

I'm really hard at work on a new book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, but my mind only works well on that sort of creative process in the mornings.

I try to write something new for this blog every day, not easy either. And then there's the twitters to come up with--and on and one.

Not only that, I just received a box of books, about 10, from the American Authors Association for who I do book reviews, so sometime I must tackle that. Oh, and I recently received 3 books from Simon and Schuster to review. (I read while I'm eating and in bed.)

I'm going to be speaking for my chapter of Sisters…

My Take on the Economy

Yes, I know the country is in bad shape. Making money to help it certainly isn't the answer.
Talking about how bad it is, isn't either.

Instead of looking at the glass half empty, we should start looking at it half full.

We've been through all this stuff before. During the 2nd World War my mom never put her money in the bank--she and dad came through the depression and didn't trust banks. She kept her money in a secret hiding place instead. She managed to save enough for them to buy a house.

She was always frugal. Never spent a dime unless it was needed. She taught my sister and I how to sew. We made some of our clothes and so did she. When we wanted something she didn't think we needed, we bought it with our own money that we earned babysitting.

Most of the companies that are in trouble did it to themselves by paying their top people huge bonuses that they certainly didn't earn. The automakers made far too many cars--who on earth did they think would buy them all?


The Saga of the Tarnished Silver

Through the years I've put one many dinner parties, prepared buffets and hosted numerous parties.

Nothing pleased me more than preparing two main dishes and side dishes to go with them, setting a table with the China my husband brought home from Vietnam, the real silver dinnerware I collected from high school on, and later using the wonderful crystal and silver pieces I'd been given at various times including our 25th wedding anniversary.

When we lived in Oxnard, I prepared the food for four of my kids' wedding receptions. We often had other families over for dinner. (Remarkable, since we were probably the poorest of all our friends). We had a party at our house nearly once a month. Of course most of these were potlucks and bring what you want to drink type of parties.

After we moved to Springville, another of our kids got married, again I prepared the food for the wedding reception which we had outside in our carport, minus the cars. Despite the fact our home at that time …

The Loss of Another Friend

Jo Ann was one of my friends all through grammar, middle and high school. I was the first to marry. When Jo Ann met her true love, Jim, my hubby and I did a lot of fun things together, going to Knott's Berry Farm (much different than it is today), camping in the middle of the desert, exploring old mines, going to the movies. I was privileged to be a bridesmaid in their wedding.

We went to visit them when they lived in Lancaster and they come to see us in Oxnard. Jo Ann and Jim had three kids, we had five. We didn't see a whole lot of each other until Jim retired and they moved to Cambria. They came here to see us and we went down there and spent a weekend.

As the years passed, Jim began to grow frail in both mind and body. He always remembered us though because of the time we'd spent together in our younger years. He was still handsome with his silver hair and beard, a twinkle in his eye, and his wonderful smile.

Whenever we were over on our way home from the coast, we'd…

Photos from San Joaquin Sisters in Crime Meeting

Top photo is of the infamous Henry Hill of GoodFellas fame. Despite his gangster pass, he's now reformed and quite a nice guy. Enjoyed listening to his stories and visiting with him over lunch.

Next photo is of good friend Denny Griffin, retired New York police officer, who started rubbing elbows with the "bad guys" after he started writing the history of the Las Vegas P.D. and needed to do some research into the gangsters who invaded the city.

As you can tell by the first photo, we had a huge crowd at this Sisters in Crime meeting--mostly women though we do have a few Mister Sisters. Denny actually belongs to the Las Vegas chapter of Sisters in Crime.

I took these photos with my Blackberry and had a terrible time getting them from the phone to my computer so I could put them on this blog.

Now back to my normal life.


Sitting Between A Reformed Gangster and a Retired Cop's Wife

What a fun day! Besides getting to see lots of old friends I met Henry Hill of GoodFella's fame. In the movie, Henry was played by Ray Liotta. The movie and book by the same name are about Henry's three decades in the Mafia.

He gave a speech about how he became a gangster beginning as an errand boy when he was a kid. Of course he spent time in prison, but used that time to get an education. It is obvious he does regret some of the things he's done--and he's definitely reformed.

One of my grandson's argued with me that Henry Hill wasn't a gangster, he was a mobster. He thinks of gangsters as being the low-life's who belong to gangs now and stake territories. The gangs of earlier times also staked out territories, but have you ever tried arguing with a young person?

This is why I love Sisters in Crime--gives me an opportunity to meet people I never would have any other way.

The retired cop, Denny Griffin, who I wrote about yesterday, became friends with Henry bec…

San Joaquin Sisters in Crime

Today hubby and I drive to Fresno to the monthly meeting of the San Joaquin Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The speaker will be Denny Griffin who has written several books, fiction and non-fiction. His fiction are mysteries set in Las Vegas. His non-fiction is about crime in Las Vegas.

He's probably the most famous for writing the biography of Frank Culotta, big time gangster who turned state's evidence against other gangsters resulting in a shorter sentence--but also making him a target and putting him into the witness protecting program.

We met Denny and his wife Faith (more commonly known as Bear) right after 9/11 when we flew to Orlando FL to what was the called The Police Writers Conference. Everyone was surprised to us there--guess they figured non-law enforcement folks would be afraid to fly. We figured that was probably one of the safest times.

At that time, though I usually volunteered to give a presentation of some sort, I wasn't involved with any of the planning for t…

And On the Personal Side

The cute little girl with the puppy is my granddaughter Jessica (we call her Jessi) a few years back. Now Jessi is all grown up and in love. She and her beau Juan are planning their wedding.

We've had Jessi around us since her birth. While she was going to grammar school through eighth grade, she stayed with us during the week as the school in our mountain community was much better than the one where she lived with her folks. She and her folks moved into our little house next door by the time she graduated and they all still live there.

We had slumber parties at our house for her birthdays. She asked me to come to every class and talk about writing. (Same kids, new teacher each year so would have to talk on different subjects.) We went to her soccer games in middle school and high school.

When she started high school she met Juan. At first she wasn't interested, though she did go to a couple of formal dances with him. When he started coming to church every Sunday and then helpin…

More About Prep for PSWA Conference

Over the years I've been to lots of writers and fan conferences: Mayhem in the Midlands, Maui Writers Retreat, Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Win/Win, Malice, Epicon and of course, I've been to the Public Safety Writers Association's conferences starting back when it was called the Police Writers Association.

The conference has grown from small to medium then back to small, though this year we've already doubled the amount of registrants from last year. A good thing about being small is we'll only have one track which means we'll have the opportunity to get to know everyone who comes and do some real networking.

Because of all the conferences I've gone too, I think I know what works and what doesn''t. Of course I have no way of knowing how things will go, but we have a line-up of interesting and qualified speakers--forensic experts (two), a former P.I. who is now and editor for a mystery publishing company and a screen writer, a well-known award winnin…

Getting On With Life

Lots of stuff going on right now, some of it mundane like laundry, paying bills, etc.

Of course I'm still busy doing lots of promoting for No Sanctuary, the next phaze being more events where I'm there in the flesh.

Because I'm the program chair for the Public Safety Writers Association Conference in June, I'm always doing lots of preparation for that too. Working on the actual timing for the program speakers and panels, getting volunteers to time each sequence, and making sure it is all well-balanced. Also making folders for the handouts, tent name plates and name tags. Because we have an extremely limited budget, can't do the fancy stuff the big conferences.

Whenever I'm working on these type of things I dream about them. Last night I dreamed about my publisher, Billie Johnson, of Oak Tree Press and a good friend and fellow OTP author Sunny Frazier. Have no idea what the dream was about, but I'd been in touch with both of them by email yesterday talking abo…