Friday, July 31, 2009

My Favorite Things

Thought I'd done a post for today, but I didn't so for fun decided to list my favorite things not in any particular order, just how I thought of them.

1. Spending time with my hubby away from home and projects that need to be done.

2. Newly remodeled bedroom.

3. My Blackberry, couldn't manage without it.

4. McDonald's iced coffee, vanilla flavored with an extra shot.

5. Good food, whether I fixed it or someone else did.

6. All the new things we can do on the Internet these days, blogging, Facebook, e-mail.

7. Having a car I can depend on. (For years I drove clunkers that had to be pushed to get started, or stalled on a distant freeway.)

8. All my family including in-laws and especially the little ones.

9. My writing critique group.

10. All my friends, church friends, old friends, author friends, new friends.

11. My faith in God and His answers to my prayers.

12. My country.

13. My Kindle and books to read. (I still buy paper books too.)

14. People who like my books and tell me so.

15. Movies

16. The Bible

There are lots more, but that's enough--and remember, this list was not in any order, just what popped into my mind.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tolowa Dancers in the Redwoods

In Kindred Spirits, the latest of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, there is a lot about the Tolowa people.

My friend, Junie Mattice, the wonderful Tolowa woman who is featured in the story as two women, sent me this photograph. Many of the dancers are her relatives. Check out the great outfits.

I loved learning about these wonderful, brave people.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Grandson Gregg and an Angry Bear

My grandson is a police officer in Aspen Colorado. He's been relating stories to me about the bears breaking into people's houses and getting into their refrigerators. Their preference seems to be ice cream.

I've been enjoying reading his escapades, as he and his fellow officers chase the bears out of houses. Unfortunately, too many residents have left doors unlocked and the bears have become quite adept at opening doors. Of course if the door isn't locked, they don't have any problem climbing through windoes.

A few years ago, many of my family members were at a camp in the Angelus National Forest. We'd been told to put any snacks we'd brought into the old lodge for safe keeping. My mom and aunt and another lady, all in their late 80s at the time, slept in the lodge.

Sometime in the night my mom got up to go to the bathroom which was down the hall a ways from where she was sleeping. She stepped out without her glasses on and saw what she thought was a very large dog. She woke my aunt and told her, my aunt looked and said, "My dear, that's a bear. You can't go to the bathroom now."

The bear ate all the snacks including a huge jar of black licorice, he tasted the red licorice but left it--the only treat that wasn't eaten. He finally left and mom got to go to the bathroom.

After that we kept our snacks in the individual cabins even thought we were told not to. We figured we could yell loud enough to scare a bear away. Never had a problem after that.

Hope my grandson keeps me posted, I'm beginning to get an idea for another Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And Another Great Review for No Sanctuary

Subject: SMELL OF DEATH by F. M. (Marilyn) Meredith

"WOW, what a fabulous book! In the very beginning I wondered if I was going to enjoy this book as much as I have Marilyn's other novels, but before long I was absolutely gripped by the unique plot and didn't want to put it down to work, eat, or sleep. Truly.

The main character, as in the other Rocky Bluff P.D. series, is Officer Stacey Wilbur. But other officers in the department are along for the ride and a thrilling ride it is. The books slips easily from one to another of the men working in the RBPD, letting each tell his story (Stacey seems to be the only female officer) and bringing family members and situations into the plot. Point of view moves smoothly from life to life as we learn the problems and joys--at home and at work--that the several officers face. They are working on several cases, and we go back and forth from one to another, making progress, experiencing frustrations, and always digging and digging for clues and answers. Its like the world's best ride-along!

I became involved with each of the men and their families--not to mention Stacey and her growing relationship with Detective Doug Milligan--and felt I understood very well much of what a law enforcement career involves. It goes right along with and helps verify all I have learned from my law officer friends and my own research into the life of Henry King, (from the "To Die For" series) now retired from the Kansas City Police Department. My next series novel is set partly in two police departments, Van Buren, AR (small town) and Kansas City (very large department) so this was a wonderful return to all that I enjoyed discovering while writing that story.

Anyone who has the slightest interest in anything to do with police work will love SMELL OF DEATH by F. M. Meredith. As you can tell, I sure did.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Give it a few pages and you'll be hooked like I was."

Radine Trees Nehring
Blog for readers and writers:
The "To Die For" mystery series...touring the Ozarks, one crime at a time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Great Review of No Sanctuary

Just had to share this terrific review of No Sanctuary I found on my publisher's blog.

"Crime fiction readers will find F. M. Meredith’s No Sanctuary deeply satisfying. It is an excellent police procedural and worth reading on those grounds alone. But there is so much more. Meredith rivals Ed McBain in her ability to create convincing cops and lead us through the twists and turns of investigation. She draws her characters and her setting in prose reminiscent of the British novelist Barbara Pym who was noted for her style, characterization, and sketches of village life. In short, Meredith has risen above genre fiction and created in Rocky Bluff a place you will enjoy visiting. Indeed, as I read the book, I kept having the strangest feeling that I had been there – this despite the fact that the place is fictional. Make no mistake, mystery aficionados will find their fixes in the intricate plot, the well scattered clues, the ‘aha moment’ (I almost missed it because it is so teasingly subtle), the suspense at the end, and the final resolution. But even people who don’t normally read mysteries will enjoy this book for its deftly drawn “slice of life,” a sort of updated Our Town. And finally, it has what every successful book of any genre must have – romance. I look forward to reading the four other books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series and hope more are forthcoming from this prolific and talented writer."

Posted by Mike Orenduff, author of The Pot Thief

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Romance in a Crime Novel

(I wrote this article awhile back, not sure where it appeared, but thought it was good enough to repeat.)

Though I write mysteries and crime novels, I’m a firm believer that romance needs to be in every book, no matter the genre.

In my latest Rocky Bluff P.D., No Sanctuary, which I wrote as F. M. Meredith, there is an ongoing attraction between Detective Doug Milligan and Officer Stacey Wilbur.

In earlier books, Stacey had a strict rule not to date anyone who worked on the Rocky Bluff P.D. Because she was the only female police officer, her fellow police officers at first weren’t thrilled when she turned up as back-up for them because of her small stature. However, it didn’t take long for her to prove herself. Of course the single guys flirted with her, and the bumbling Officer Butler actively pursued her to no avail. A widow with a young son, she didn’t want a relationship to complicate her life.

When she first worked with Doug Milligan she found herself attracted to him, but didn’t break her rule. Though they enjoyed each other’s company, Doug was still hurting from his divorce and the fact that his ex-wife quickly remarried and took their children to live in San Diego.

In Smell of Death Stacey and Doug succumb to the attraction and begin dating, though many obstacles pop up—including the fact that Doug rents a room of his house to Officer Gordon Butler. Gordon still has feelings for Stacey though it’s apparent her affections are directed toward Doug.

The romance heats up in No Sanctuary as Stacey helps Doug investigate a murder case. They continue to find it difficult to have any time alone as their jobs interfere, and she needs and wants to spend time with her young son and her parents.

Having Doug and Stacey fall in love has added a dimension to the Rocky Bluff series and is definitely influencing the way things are going to develop in future books. Doug is the perfect man for Stacey—he misses his own children and will love helping raise Davey—that is if Davey embraces the idea of having a step-father.

Stacey is a fun heroine to write about. She’s gutsy and works on being the kind of police officer who helps people. She also is willing to take chances—chances that in No Sanctuary give her the opportunity for a new and better paying job—and another that will nearly cost her life.

To order No Sanctuary you can get it through the publisher at or or for an autographed copy, from my website:

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Making Myself Do what I Need to Be doing

I have my latest book to edit. There is a big time-line problem that I need to get busy and tackle. Instead, this is what I've been doing:

Laundry--well, after all, we need clean clothes.

E-mail--something important might be in there that I need to take care of right away. And yes, I do need to comment on things from Facebook, don't I? While on the Net I might as well Twitter and let people know what I wrote about today.

Goodness, the bathroom needs to be cleaned. It's the one we remodeled, I want to keep it looking beautiful. While I'm at it, might as well do the floor. As long as I'm dry and wet mopping, I'll just go do the bedroom floors.

Now, here I am writing this blog.

Okay, I've done all this, NOW I'll get busy on the editing like I should have been doing in the first place.

Signing off,


Friday, July 24, 2009

Mom's 100th Birthday

If my mom were still alive, she'd be 100 today! She lived to be 97. Her sister is that same age and still living in her own home. Amazing.

I was missing my mom today. I miss writing her letters and receiving letters from her. She lived with my sister in Las Vegas.

We did have some quality time toward the end of her life. My sis went on an Alaskan cruise and I went to stay with mom. We had a great time. I cooked all the food she asked for. Twice we had lamb chops, baked potatoes and asparagus. I watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeproady with her. We talked about old times.

After that my sister celebrated her 50th anniversary by going on a cruise and taking her four children, most of their children and the great grandkids. One of my daughters and I went along. I'm so glad I did because again I spent some quality time with my mom. We had all our meals together and sat around and did a lot of visiting.

Mom was so good about listening to people's troubles and never passing judgment. Anyone with problems called on mom for prayer--she was known as a prayer warrior. Oh, my sis and I might be asked to pray, but everyone knew mom's prayers were far more powerful.

At the last, mom wondered why she was still here. Once she even said, "I wonder if God forgot about me." She was definitely ready to go home to be with God and to be reunited with my dad.

I miss you, Mom. Happy Birthday.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Firty-Seven Years as Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Yep, that's how long it's been that I've shopped for groceries, cooked the meal and cleaned up afterward. When I began as a new bride I knew nothing about cooking. What I did know how to do was making fudge, baking cookies and cakes.

The first chicken I fried for my husband looked great on the outside but wasn't cooked on the inside. Yuk! I finally began to get the hang of cooking by watching other people--and figuring out what worked and what didn't.

Our first years of marriage we didn't have much money and the children kept arriving about every two and half or three years. I became a wizard at fixing one dish meals that used not much meat but lots of other filling ingredients. Chili with beans was a favorite, of course spaghetti--which my husband is not fond of to this day, beef and vegetable stew, fried rice with onions and whatever bits of meat we had and lots of soy sauce, tacos and I put the meat in each tortilla to make sure everyone got some. I've always been able to make the best tasting soups using up little bits of left-overs and that was before the days of buying chicken and beef broth off the shelf.

Some of the best dishes can be prepared with cheaper cuts of beef like Beef Stroganoff. My recipe came from a Russian fellow in the Air Force who made his stroganoff with round steak, lots of mushrooms and onions, tomato soup and sour cream. Much better than some I've had in restaurants.

We always seemed to have company for dinner along with five of our own kids--sometimes their friends, other times grown-up friends.

When we took over a residential care facility for six developmentally disabled women, all my practice of cooking hearty and nutritious meals on a budget served me well. The women loved my cooking and began asking for their favorites, like my homemade macaroni and cheese with lots of cheese and slightly burned on top.

Now, most of the time it's just my husband and me and occasionally my granddaughter who lives next door. We eat a lot of chicken. Last night I made lemon chicken using three chicken breasts, no bones, baked in a glass baking dish with melted butter, lots of lemon pepper seasonings, dried parsley flakes and lemon juice squeezed all over. I baked it for about 45 minutes, turning the last 15, in a 400 degree oven.

Tonight it was hamburger fried with chopped onions and celery served in a hand-made corn tortilla (no, I didn't make them) with lettuce, shredded cheese, tomatoes and salsa. Yum. And we have enough left for tomorrow. Easy and delicious.

I've had to cook so much I'm always delighted when we're invited somewhere else to eat or have a meal in a restaurant.

Can't believe I've really been cooking that long--and believe me, I'm no Rachel Ray though I have tried a few of her recipes, but she makes things far more complicated than I do and I think my meals turn out just as well--at least I've never had any complaints.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Doing More Reading Than Usual

Whenever I go to a conference or convention I end up buying books written by people I meet and like. (Yes, I must confess, if I don't like someone, I don't buy their books.)

At the PSWA Conference I purchased two of Betty Webb's books, Desert Cut and Anteater of Death and enjoyed both of the very different books.

I also bought Michael A. Black's, Chicago Knights, which reminded me of the detective stories I read a lot of a few years ago. It was action packed, the hero was likeable and multi-faceted--and realistic, plus there was a touch of romance woven through the complicated plot.

The Pot Thief by Michael Orenduff was a terrific book! I had no idea what to expect when I started reading it, and it was definitely a unique book with captivating characters and an unusual plot.

Now I'm half way through Robert Haig's Fire Horses. Robert is the first fire fighter to attend the PSWA conference, and as you might guess, his book is about fire fighting. This is really a page turner and an eye opener as to the danger fire fighters go through when on the job.

When I'm finally through all the books I've got stacked up, I have a few waiting on my Kindle. I'm trying to save the books there for reading when I'm out of town and I did manage to read two while I was in Santa Maria.

Our next trip is to visit our girls in Oxnard and I'll take my trusty Kindle along, but I doubt if I'll have much time to read.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009


“While email is the most widely used communication tool for business, its remote nature - which eliminates tone of voice and body language - presents a huge potential for mischief, misunderstanding and misinterpretation. This online program will help you go beyond basic email etiquette, to the proven principles and practices for gaining mastery and saving time over your electronic mail box.”

Please note that this article is excerpted from the book Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day and is copyrighted by Karen Leland and Keith Bailey. If you would like to reprint it on your blog or website you are welcome to do so, provided you give credit and a live link back to

Available now, this new book is one that every author or busy person should have on his or her bookshelf. Take a look at the table of contents and you can see that the topics could definitely help you take charge of your life.

Book Summary -

Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day

In today’s hurly-burly work environment many business people find it challenging to avoid distraction, stay focused, use their time and energy to maximum benefit, and gain ground on important goals and outcomes. One study by the Families and Work Institute found that one-third of Americans are overworked and more than 50 percent of those surveyed say they are either doing too many tasks at the same time or are frequently interrupted during the workday – or both. In short, we are overloaded!

Time Management In An Instant helps the reader to overcome this feeling of overload and avoid the traps that lead to an unproductive relationship with time. It offers field-tested time habits and expert advice based on the latest research that will help the reader better manage, create and spend their time with more satisfaction and results.

Time Management In An Instant
Table Of Contents




1. Achieve Your Goals Everyday
2. Apply the 80/20 Rule
3. Assess Your Time Management Skills
4. Assign Every Meeting A PAL
5. Beware The Stop Goal
6. Break The Habits That Hold Your Back
7. Broaden Your Definition of Finished
8. Capture Your Open Items
9. Choose The Perfect Planner
10.Chunk Down
11.Clean Out Your File Drawer
12.Consider Both Paper and PDA
13.Control Incoming Calls
14.Create To-Do Lists
15.Cultivate Time Efficient Conversations
16.Decide Who To Delegate To
17.Delegate Like A Pro
18.Design Goals In All Areas Of Life
19.Determine What To Delegate
20.Don’t Get Caught In The Yes Trap
21.Fight Distraction And Find Your Focus
22.Forecast The Success Of A Solution
23.Generate Energy With Your To-Do List
24.Get A Good Nights Sleep
25.Get Out Of Time Denial
26. Give Yourself A Procrastination Inoculation
27.Hone The Habits Of Meeting Management
28.Identify Your Interruptions
29.Keep An Activity Log
30.Lay Out Your Long-Term Goals
31.Learn From The Masters
32.Make The Most Of An Off-Site
33.Make Your Goals Specific
34.Manage Outgoing Calls
35.Minimize Unfinished Business
36.Move Your Body
37.Organize Your Email In-Box
38.Overcome Multitasking Madness
39.Plan Your Daily To-Do’s
40.Polish Up Your Delegation Delivery
41.Process Your In-Box
42.Promote Participation In Meetings
43.Put Together A Workable Planner
44.Reorganize Your Filing System
45.Retool Your Priority System
46.Save Time In Your Personal Life
47.Set Solid And Stretch Goals
48.Size Up Your Delegation Skills
49.Sort Your Stuff
50.Stay Sane Getting Back From Vacation
51.Step Back And Problem Solve
52.Streamline Your Email
53.Strengthen Your Meeting Facilitation Skills
54.Support Your Goals
55.Take A Real Vacation
56.Take The Pulse Of Your Procrastination
57.Try A Staycation
58.Understand Your Relationship With Time
59.Use Your Conference Time Wisely
60.Utilize The Four D’s

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For more information on this book, please visit:

For more information about the virtual book tour, please visit:

I recommend this book for all the busy people I know

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Bit About the Setting for the Rocky Bluff Series

While at the Santa Barbara County Fair, I quite often explained to people who stopped by, that my Rocky Bluff P.D. series is set in a place sort of like Carpenteria. The real town of Carpenteria is located on the ocean side of the Pacific Coast, south of Santa Barbara and north of Ventura. There are other smaller towns perched on the hillsides here and there along the way.

Rocky Bluff really is nothing like Carpenteria, except for the fact that it is a beach community located between Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Actually, I've moved it closer to Ventura so it could be in Ventura County because I knew more about that county than Santa Barbara county. I also wanted the town to be smaller with more of the problems of a small town police department.

Another thing that is quite different is the geography. Rocky Bluff has a yes, rocky bluff on the north side and where it gets it's name. The richer folks of the town have their houses up on the bluff, and the most popular of two Protestant churches i located there.

I couldn't ignore the 101 Highway as it does happen to run up and down the coast, so it does run above the town with on and off ramps. On the hillside are ranches and orange groves.

Like I often remind people, remember, I'm writing fiction, and as the writer I can make things be the way I want them to be.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Thursday at the Fair

Though I am now home, thought I'd share this photo of me at the Santa Barbara Fair. Though it looks okay, we're hidden behind a plexiglass wall with nothing to let anyone know we are there.

A few people wandered back there to see the photography entries hanging on the wall. I went out everyday with my cards and handed them out and told folks we were back there. Oh yes, a few paused on their way to the restrooms.

In the hotel we were staying in, the shower didn't work right. Had a terrible time washing my hair because the water only dribble out of the shower head. We complained about it and were told it was fixed--oh was it, no water came out at all the next morning. I had to wash my hair under the bathtub spigot which did have some water pressure. The only way I could do this was to lean over the tub.

Finally, on Friday night someone came in and fixed it--we were able to have a decent shower the last day we were there.

On the way home, we stopped at McDonald's to get an iced coffee, mine vanilla flavored. It tasted horrible and there were brown things floating around in the bottom. Hubby took it back and got me another--this one had so much vanilla flavoring in it I couldn't drink it until the ice melted and watered it down.

Despite all that, we really did have fun. We were with a nice bunch of authors, I did sell a few books--though I really had to work to do it--I read a whole book on my Kindle, sure is handy for traveling--and I'm catching up on everything here at home.

Hap and I had a good time together too--always a plus.


Friday, July 17, 2009

What a Day!

We'd been having trouble with the shower, little water, and we reported it, told it would be fixed while we were gone. This a.m. when we got up, no water came out of the shower!

Washed my hair bending over the bathtub using the bathtub spigot and to wash up. Taking a bath was not an option, I couldn"t have gotten out of the tub, no grab bars.

At the fair today we did sell books. Hooray.

Had our last meal at Gillis, wonderful place, delicious food, friendly staff, especially Maria.

Going home in the a.m.


Thursday, July 16, 2009


Yesterday was our first day at the fair. Difficulties from the beginning. Had to wait for stickers for the car and passes to get in. Someone had to lead us to the Art Pavillion (really the skating rink) and we were set up way in the back> few people ventured back there.

I went out with my business cards to drum up some business. that helped.

The people who ventured back there either came to see photos on the wall or use the restrooms. Took a lot of work to get people interestede enough nto buy a book.

we stayed until 4, the others with us stayed on. we've found a neighborhood cafe with great food and eaten breakfast and dinner there.

Heading back to the fair this a.m.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


We put shortest distance in the Magellan tofind our way to Santa Maria. We wandered through farm roads we've never been cown before, finally ended up in Taft (Meteor the TV show is in Taft a lot) then up and over the coastal mtns> forever and ever. when we finally reached the 101 Hwt the GPS quit working. We had to look for the address the old fashioned way.

Used little computer to find out how to fix problem. got the answer and fixed it.

Little computer is hard for me to use, too touchy and keyboard is not quite the same as big one. taking it with me to the fair tomorrow.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Photos from the PSWA Conference

Since I'm traveling today, thought it would be fun to show you some more pictures from the PSWA conference:

I'm not very good at placing photos, so these are kind of backwards. AJ Farrar are most competent MC is at the far left then we have Holli Castillo, Mike Orenduff,Me, Michael Black, and Marilyn Olsen. This was a panel about the importance of setting.

The one that kept everyone's interest here was the Publisher, Editor panel, with Billie Johnson, Oak Tree Press, Marilyn Olsen, and Joyce Spizer Foy.

This one should have been first since it is of our first get-together, at the time the photo was taken, this table had the largest group, however, people kept shifting places. We had registration from 3 p.m. on. When people started registering, they just sort of hung around until our party at 6.

It was a great conference, loved every minute of it.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Planning for the Next PSWA Conference

No, I'm not really ready to start--need a for sure date and place first. However, I am thinking about what we should do this next year and have some ideas.

Think we'll once again do the let every author give an elevator pitch about one book they have out or are writing. That's a good way to break the ice.

Also have had two people offer to talk about quite exciting topics.

I'd like to find a blood spatter expert. Of course I'm always looking for people who have an expertise in writing or law enforcement. And I'd love to have a fire person come talk about arson and fighting fires.

A literary agent would be nice too.

The drawback is the speakers are not paid, they have to pay to come to the conference and all their expenses. However, that didn't keep Sheila Lowe, the forensic handwriting expert, or the most wonderful mystery author, Betty Webb, from coming--and besides being great assets to the conference, they had a good time too.

I'm thinking and planning. Anyone want to volunteer? Check out the PSWA website:

PS, the photo is of Sunny Frazier giving advice to Keith Bettinger at the conference--lots and lots of networking goes on at this conference.

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Yesterday I went to the library in Bakersfield. This was the main branch and the biggest library I've been to in years. It seemed to me like there was quite a bit of activity for a Saturday afternoon.

I'd been invited to give a talk about my books and in particular the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. I brought the last three, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire and Kindred Spirits. Plus, I had copies of Deadly Omen to give to anyone who came.

We were directed upstairs to a small meeting room. (Never a good sign, though I understand why, the air conditioning had to be turned on and it took a shorter time to cool a small room.)

As it turned out, we could've been in an even smaller room. Two women and a young man arrived and along with the librarian and my husband (who periodically nodded off, poor thing has to listen to my talks all the time).

Despite the fact it was small, the people seemed very interested, especially the librarian. Lots of questions were asked, and they seemed reluctant to go home.

Afterward, I had an opportunity to talk to the librarian and she told me that the library system is in trouble just like everything else in California. Librarians have been let go along with other staff. She told me that library usage is also down.
She didn't think people were reading much anymore.

How sad.

As for the reason there was such a small crowd, I have no idea. I know the library had flyers about my event and I certainly publicized it a lot myself to the people I know in Bakersfield.

One talk that does bring in lots of people always is, "How to Get Published Today." Maybe I should stick to that one. I'll just not tell them what the librarian said about people not reading much.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

What I'll Be Talking About at the Library Today

The librarian asked me to speak about how I came to write my books--and in particular Kindred Spirits, the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

Of course it all began like it does for most writers, I was an avid reader. At least ten books a week when I was a kid growing up--that's all the library would let me take home at a time.

Writing began as soon as I could write. I rewrote my favorite stories like some of the Little House on the Prairie tales. Wasn't long before I came up with my own ideas. From there I wrote short stories and plays.

Though after I graduated, I married and had a large family I continued to write--not very interesting things, PTA newsletters, some pieces of the newspaper. But I did write two novels that were immediately rejected and I threw them away. (Wish I had them today.)

My first books that were published were historical family sagas. Because I was reading so many mysteries decided to take a turn with them. We had a lot of friends who were police officers--and later my son-in-law became an officer. As I've said before, I've done ride-alongs with him and later a female police officer who more or less bared her soul to me as the night went on.

An article I wrote about a female resident deputy influenced me a lot, as well as a lovely Indian woman I met who told me about growing up on the reservation.

I wrote two mysteries about Tempe but she didn't develop into the Tempe in future novels. No, I didn't throw those away, instead I changed the locations and the names and descriptions of the major characters and turned them into stand-alones.

As Tempe became a "real" person, I began doing a lot of research about our local Indians and the reservation. Much of what I learned has gone into the mysteries.

I'll tell about some of that research, I've written about it here before. I'll also talk about the research I did for Kindred Spirits, and the Tolowa woman who was the inspiration for two characters in the book.

For me, it's fun to talk about my writing and my books, I hope the people who come to the Beale Memorial Library today at 2 will have as much fun listening to me. I'm looking forward to questions.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Researching for Your Novel

On one of the lists I'm on they are discussing research--how much and watching out not to dump what you've learned into one spot in your novel.

When I wrote my two historical family sagas I did lots of research, I wanted to know what the places the families lived in were like at the time they were there, what kind of food they ate, what they took with them when they traveled, what they saw along the way. I hoped that I could tell a story that the reader could actually see what the characters experienced. I learned far more than I could have ever put into the book.

Now that I'm writing mysteries with a certain degree of law enforcement in them, of course I've done quite a bit of research. With the law enforcement part, I do stretch things a bit, and as I remind my friends in law enforcement, I am writing fiction.

With the Native American tidbits in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, though I call the Indians Yanduchi, the real tribal name is Yaundanchi and they are a part of the Yokuts. Bear Creek Reservation in the book is very similar to the real Tule River Indian Reservation. I borrow a lot from the Indians who live there. But again, I'm writing fiction.

For my next book, Dispel the Mist,the legendary Hairy Man plays a big part. I researched the legend, saw the pictographs, heard stories of sightings, and I think the Hairy Man is every bit as real as Big Foot.

My desire is to put enough of my research into my books to make them seem real even though I am telling stories.

If you want to know more about either of my series do visit my website at

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

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Phone Calls

I am not a phone person. I seldom call anyone to chat. I love my Blackberry but I use it mostly for emergency calls and to read my e-mail when I'm on the road.

Yesterday while I was writing my blog, my cousin, Barbara, called me. She is exactly 11 months younger than I am and we grew up one block away from each other. We played together a lot when we were kids, our mothers told us about the Birds and Bees at exactly the same time, told us not to tell anyone, and we cousins immediately met to discuss our new knowledge.

We both were married young, but I started my family right away, she went to work as a dental assistant and put her husband through college, including his doctorate. With the exception of her eldest grandson, I have great-grandchildren the ages of her grandkids.

We don't get to see each other a whole lot since she lives in L.A. and I'm about 3 1/2 hours away, but we have spent one week many summers together with our families or parts of our families at church camp, and of course there have been family weddings and funerals--including her husband, my eldest son, and her younger sister.

She called to tell me she'd moved, actually traded houses with her eldest son and his family--about two blocks apart. She brought me up on all the news of her family and the next trip she's going on to Tunisia. She just returned from Russia. She's been everywhere and is determined to continue world traveling until she can't walk. I think that's a great ambition.

My traveling will be confined to things I do for my books and within the United States--but like Barbara, I'll do it until I can't anymore.

The phone call lasted an hour and I loved every minute of it, and I think that's why I didn't finish yesterday's blog--though it is now.

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Reminiscing About the Old Days

On another blog I told about my childhood during World War II. Actually it was a great childhood. You can read about it at

But that made me start thinking about my husband and my first home we owned. Hubby was a career Seabee and didn't make much money. The home was in housing development called Rose Park, down payment $100 which we didn't have an easy time scraping up. Our neighbor on one side was an older retired couple (probably the age hubby and I are now) and the woman became a surrogate grandparent to my kids, and on the other side a young couple who had just got married. Across and down the street were two cops, one the corner a fireman. Other Seabess, cops, firemen were scattered here and there.

When we moved there we had three kids, two young girls and a baby boy.

The house itself was three bedrooms, two baths, living room and kitchen. Every house in the tract was the same, the only difference was which direction it was laid out and where the garage was. As time moved on, and our family grew, we added on a family room and screened in patio.

We had a great time in that house. We had lots of parties, in the backyard, in our big family room, parties for adults, parties for all the kids.

Of course hubby was gone some of the time because of the Vietnam War. Every time he went overseas things weren't quite so fun or easy. But I can remember the officers' wives on the base would call me to find out what I knew--which was kind of dumb since they were right there where they could hear all the scuttlebutt and I only knew what I heard on the news.

We did have some friends who did some secret stuff that they kind of hinted at, but nothing I passed on to anyone.

We lived in that house for 12 more years after my husband retired from the service. We had wedding receptions for three of the kids in the family room.

Our youngest daughter and her husband bought the house from us when we moved. They lived in it long enough to have three boys, then they sold it and moved.

It was a great house. Of course we've gone by and looked at it when we've been back in Oxnard--it's gone through lots of changes but still brings back great memories.

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

What's Important to Me

Not Michael Jackson or all the tributes. Though the man's music was wonderful, his life left a lot to be desired.

Watched a Captain Sullenberg tribute--a real hero who actually lives a life to emulate.

But bringing it even closer to home, what's most important to me is my belief in God and the Bible is His word. Next comes my family with my husband at the top of the list. He is a true hero. He served over 20 years in the Seabees, with four tours of duty in Vietnam. He's managed to put up with me for nearly 59 years and believe me it hasn't always been easy. He's been my lover and my true friend all these many years.

He's the father of our five children and was a disciplinarian, just ask them. He's a grandfather of 18 and great-grandfather of 11. (Because new ones keep being added we have trouble keeping track of the actual number.)He has been there for everyone when they needed him, whether it was a helping hand with something, or just a lap to sit on and cry.

All of those children are important to me. I want them to have good lives and to contribute to the community they live in. Some have already done that.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I love my friends and I have some wonderful ones. I love being a published writer, I've certainly enjoyed all that comes with the writing, holding the finished book in my hand, and the promoting.

I'm proud of all the things I've managed to accomplish in my life and the different tasks I've taken on being a Camp Fire Leader for 10 years, from beginning college when my youngest started kindergarten, teaching in a pre-school for developmentally disabled kids for 10 years, teaching in day cares for disadvantaged kids, then having my own care home for six developmentally disabled women for over twenty years, and much much more.

But most of all I'm proud of my husband and my family and they are what's most important to me.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Plan for the Day

Since I felt lousy most of yesterday, due to my heat exposure from the day before, today I plan to tote up the money I made at the book sale on the 4th and organize books for my next event at the Beale Memorial Library in Bakersfield this coming Saturday, the 11th at 2p.m. This one's inside, hooray, hooray!

Once that's done, I hope to finish the book I'm working on. I've made it to the last chapter. When I type THE END, then it's time to start all over again and do some major rewriting. Actually, I like doing that.

This is when I can check what phrases I used over and over, if there are inconsistencies, things that need to be added or taken out, watching out for clunky dialogue--all those important things.

Of course I'll also be doing the laundry and what other household chores really need to be done.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July Review

We spent the fourth setting up our tent and selling my books in the City Park in Exeter. It got to be 108 degrees, or some such horrible temperatures.

We'd planned for a hot day, brought lots of cold water and misters.

Around two I began feeling bad and told my husband we should pack up. The whole thing was over at 3.

We hadn't done badly, we made back the money we paid for our spot on the grass and then some. I love talking to people about my books, but as it got hotter and hotter I knew I should get out of there.

By the time we drove home, I was really sick. Hot and cold, sick to my stomach, bad headache.

That continued most of the evening and night, didn't even watch the fireworks on TV.

Not much of a way to celebrate. One thing I know though, I won't be doing anymore outdoor events in the middle of summer. Give me a nice air conditioned library or bookstore from now own.

Happy Fourth a day late.

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

Friday, July 3, 2009

Juggling--an important part of being a writer

Sometimes I feel like I'm juggling. Yes, juggling.

I have all these things that I have to do every single day. I'm not going to include all that it takes just to live, be married, and run a household.

At the moment, I'm finishing up my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel. No, it's not the one that will be out in January. That one is already with the publisher. Once I've finished, I have some things I need to plug in, then I'll do an edit. After I think it's in pretty good shape, I'll have someone else take a look at it.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about ideas for my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. And again, not the one that will come out in September, that one is being edited by the publisher right now, but the one that I will ultimately begin once I'm through with the Rocky Bluff novel. (Haven't got a title for that one yet, so something else I have to do.)

Oh, and I do have another Tempe ready to send to the publisher. I'll take one final look at it and get it off.

While all that's going on, I need to plan my book launch and promo activities for Dispel the Mist.

And as anyone who has been following my activities knows, I'm still in full promotion mode for my last two books. I try to blog nearly every day, I'm active on Facebook and Twitter, I blog on two other blogs regularly, and physically, this month, I'll have a booth on the Fourth in the Exeter Park, I'm going to be speaking at the Bakersfield Beale Memorial Library on July 11th at 2 p.m., and I'm spending three days in Santa Maria at the county fair, July 15, 16, 17 from 11 to 4. I'll be in the Fine Arts Building.

Whew! Makes me tired just writing it all.

Now you see what I mean about juggling.

Time I got moving on some of my other jobs.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Keep Most of it To Themselves Authors vs Tell All Authors

Ever so often I visit websites and blogs of big name authors. Some of them have very little about their private lives for readers to peruse. I might be the same way if I were a famous author.

I follow some of my favorites on Twitter and Facebook--but again there are those who tell all--or at least a lot--and those who keep private things close to the chest.

Some spout off their political views about global warming, what politicians we should love and who we should hate, what we should do about whatever war we happen to be involved in and what our spiritual beliefs should be, and yet don't tell one thing about their lives, who they care about, what they love to do, eat, listen to, watch on TV or movies, visit, plan for.

I tend to be one who keeps to myself my political feelings--I know I'll never change anyone over to what I think and might make them mad trying--and though I've probably said enough that most people know how I believe, I'm not going to rant and rave about my spirituality though it is a very important part of my life.

What I do like to write about is all the people I love, those I really enjoy being around.

In the photo is a family that I enjoy being around: Kate Anderson, her daughter Kim and granddaughter Ashley. They like me and I like them. I met them through Sisters in Crime and they were at the Public Safety Writers Association conference--Kate as an attendee, Kim and Ashley just enjoying what the hotel had to offer.

So I suppose I fall in-between those how keep most of it to themselves and those who tell all.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Why Did I Choose to Go With a Small Publisher?

My very first book, an historical family saga was published by Dorchester Press, not the biggest New York Publisher, but right up there. It actually did pretty well--and might've done better if I'd had a clue about promotion back then. This was before everyone had a computer and no one knew anything about the Internet.

Right after the book was published, my editor left and that was the end of my association with Dorchester. I had another saga published by an outfit that the owner and son turned out to be crooks--yes, crooks, they gambled away all the royalty money in Vegas and ended up going to jail.

Oh, and my time with crooks wasn't over, my first mystery, The Astral Gift, was published by a co-op publishers who did well at first, then absconded with everyone's money. In my case, only 50 books were printed and ordered by a bookstore where I had my first signing. The 50 books were sold and no more could be purchased because the publishers had disappeared.

Golden Eagle Press, small pub in Bakersfield, republished the book. She also went on to publish four of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.

Sadly, this publisher passed away unexpectedly. We'd become good friends, so this was doubly sad.

In the meantime, I found an e-publisher for my Rocky Bluff P.D. series who also published in trade paperback. This publisher also redid The Astral Gift. I left this publisher.

Another e-publisher published the first book in the Tempe Crabtree series, Deadly Trail, and also published a couple of others of my books, Kachima Spirit and Wishing Makes It So--these are also available from me in trade paperback.

I wrote three Christian horror novels which got great comments from both Christian and regular publishers, except they were too scary for the Christian market and too Christian for the regular market. I published one myself, The Choice, and still have some copies. Treble Heart Books published Deeds of Darkness and Cup of Demons as e-books and trade paper and are still available.

Mundania Press is now publishing my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries and I'm looking forward to the next one coming out sometime in September, Dispel the Mist, which has Tempe learning about The Hairy Man, the Bear Creek Indians version of Big Foot.

Oak Tree Press is now publishing my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, with No Sanctuary being the latest.

Of course I have to do lots of promoting--but guess what? So do authors with the New York publishers, unless they are really big name.

With all my small, independent publishers I've had input in the covers, been able to e-mail all my questions and get answers back, been edited, and I've met all my publishers in person.

Hard Shell Word Factory has recently been purchased by Mundania Press, a good alliance for me.

If anyone wants to know anything about working with e-publishers or small presses, ask away. I've probably had every experience possible.

And remember, this all happened beginning with the first book being published in 1982. No matter what obstacles I met, I kept on writing the next book, and the next one--something I'm still doing.

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