Monday, August 31, 2009

Hoping to Get A Buzz Going

Not only did I have a good time researching Dispel the Mist, it was a fun book to write. How could I miss when one of the characters is a cousin to Big Foot.

Yes, indeed, the Hairy Man is the legendary, or maybe not so legendary, fellow who roams the mountains above the Tule River Indian Reservation. I can see the backside of those mountains from the windows of my house.

When I was talking to the Tolowa women who gave me ideas for Kindred Spirits they shared many stories about Big Foot.

While researching for Dispel the Mist I learned and heard about Hairy Man sightings.

Anytime I write about Tempe and Hutch I feel like I'm visiting with old friends. Friends I know far better than any of my flesh and blood friends--because I can get right inside their heads.

I hope a lot of people will want to read what happens when Tempe encounters the Hairy Man.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to Waste An Afternoon

Oh boy, I did a good job of it yesterday.

I did accomplish a few things, like toting up my writing expenditures for a month. Unfortunately they are always more than what I brought in from my writing.

I spent way too much time on Facebook--but isn't it fun? I found out my niece made tacos and baked cookies for the neighborhood kids--and her own two, of course.

My grandson, the Aspen CO cop, posted a photo of two bears up a tree, a mom and cub. These you could see quite plainly. I hope he keeps his guard up since he has bear encounters every night while he on duty.

I learned his little sister loves school--she's a sophomore in high school.

And of course I found out all sorts of interesting things from the many friends (some I know and some I don't) on Facebook.

I tried to make postcards for Dispel the Mist and failed. So, I order some from VistaPrint. Much easier to do.

Received two books I ordered from Amazon, one the latest Wm. Kent Krueger mystery and I already read a few pages.

Another granddaughter came over with her friend and the friend's newborn and of course I had to hold him and do some cooing and gooing.

I read the Fresno Bee, the Porterville Recorder and the Sierra Messenger. The Messenger had the best news, a bookstore is opening in Porterville. We've been without a bookstore for a long, long time. Grand opening is September 1. I can hardly wait.

And did some sporadic Internet promotion for Dispel the Mist. Ideas popped in my head and I acted on them so I wouldn't forget.

Since today is Sunday, I don't plan on anything different than my usual Sunday fare since we'll be home.

I'll teach my 3rd through 5th grade boys at Sunday School and go to church. Since we went to church in San Juan Capistrano last Sunday it'll be nice to see and worship with our own church family.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

I've Turned into a Prude

Well, I'm not really sure that I've become such a prude as TV shows and movies have just gotten far worse than they used to be.

I was all set to watch the first and second episodes of an HBO show created from a book series written by someone I know. The books are clever, unusual and funny. I could only watch about fifteen minutes of the TV show which had unnecessary bad language, nudity, people having sex and not much about the main character or the story that I suspect was still to come.

At this stage in my life I don't really like to hear bad language, nor do I enjoy seeing people without their clothes, and I already know how to have sex, thank you very much, I don't need to watch people doing it. And that's what they are doing is just having sex, there certainly isn't any love making in the way most TV shows and movies depict it.

Frankly I yearn for the old movies filled with romance and when couples went to the bedroom to make love, they shut the door and you used your imagination for what happened next.

Don't get me wrong, I love movies. I've always loved movies. My father worked for Paramount Studios and he believed in supporting the industry. We went to the movies every Friday night except when we were on vacation--and if there was a movie theater where we vacationed we went to one or two movies there.

Back in the olden days for the price of a movie ticket you got to see two movies, a cartoon, previews, and the newsreels. Sometimes they played Keeno too, a version of Bingo--the winners received a set of dishes. If you went to a movie in downtown L.A., you might be treated to a vaudeville act or two. Only did that a couple of times.

I guess I need to start believing the R ratings. Used to be that only meant maybe some bad language, violence, or brief nudity. Now, it seems that R is what the old X rating used to be.

The main reason I don't like to see that stuff is the bad images stick in my brain--and I don't want them there. Life is too short to focus on the seamy side of things.

So there, I've put it out in the open, I've become a prude.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Still Working on Finding Places to Make Appearances

Today I sent an email to the Eagle Mountain Casino on the Tule River Indian Reservation. This is the reservation that I've patterned the fictional Bear Creek Indian Reservation after.

I also want people to realize I'm writing fiction and though the Bear Creek Indian Reservation bears some resemblance to the Tule River Indian Reservation it is not an exact replica--nor is anything on the reservation including the characters who appear in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.

I've often been asked if I'm Indian--and the answer is no, I'm not. One of my great-grandchildren is 1/4 Tule River Indian with ties to the reservation. I have much respect for our local Indians and what they've managed to do to improve their lives on the reservation. Not only do they have their casino they also have other enterprises which have given their citizens more opportunities for work as well as others in the surrounding communities.

With my latest book, Dispel the Mist, I borrowed one of their wonderful legends as a large part of the story. The Hairy Man is a cousin to Big Foot and the wonderful pictograph in the Painted Rock shelter gave me the incentive to include him in the book.

Is he real? Certainly he's real in Dispel the Mist. The mountainous area surrounding the reservation makes a wonderful habitat for this legendary creature and it's far more interesting to believe he's out there than not.

Whether or not the reservation will want me to do anything with the book in the casino is debatable. I'll accept whatever answer they give me.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Deaths of Famous People

Once again we've had two famous people die--Senator Kennedy and Dominick Dunne.

Though I'm sure Senator Kennedy did many good things in his long career of politics--unfortunately what I remember about him most was his wrong-doing.

I so vividly remember when he let that young woman drown and didn't bother telling anyone when it was too late because he was afraid of what being with her would do to his reputation. I have no doubt that he would have run for president and probably succeeded if he hadn't had that in his past. He was unfaithful to his first wife enough to make the news--and poor woman became an alcoholic.

Dominick Dunne was a famous writer--and the murder of his daughter certainly caused him to write about people who got away with or almost got away with murder. I'm sure the fact that his daughter's killer only served a short sentence had a lot to do with it.

I remember seeing him at the O.J. Simpson trial day after day. He later wrote about that trial.

No matter the legacy left by these two men, what we have to realize that they have loved ones they left behind. Loved ones who are now grief-stricken.

I've lived long enough to have lost a few loved ones in my life and know that their indiscretions are easily forgotten when we realize the person is no longer with us, that all we have left is their memory.

Everyone will have something to say about both of these departed souls, but we should all remember that they have family and friends who are saddened by their deaths.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plotting the Course

What does the phrase really mean? I have no idea.

Plotting a book means to figure out what you are going to write and how you'll get there. I have my own manner of plotting and I've written about it before.

Some people plot their entire lives--risky since things seldom turn out the way we expect them to.

Lately I've been plotting the course for the promotion of Dispel the Mist. and I have some great events lined up, but would really like some more--especially during the week.

Because I don't have the books yet I can't start the process of sending out books to reviewers, an essential part of the promotion.

I'll be having a blog tour in October--waited until then to make sure I had books by then.

Since my in person promotion officially begins with my talk at the Porterville Library I'm hoping I have books by then.

I've also been plotting the course as far as writing and mystery conferences go. I passed on Bouchercon in Indiana this year because it is the same weekend as the Apple Festival, an event where I always sell lots of books. We are going to Epicon in New Orleans in March--plotting that course means making a hotel reservation and figuring out how to get there by air that doesn't cost a fortune and won't mean making three or more stops along the way.

Not going to Left Coast Crime in L.A. either, the reason is because my granddaughter is getting married during that time period.

We do hope to get to Mayhem in the Midlands in May, one of our favorite cons--and then of course, there's PSWA in June.

Whether I know exactly what the phase means to others, this is what plotting the course means to me.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Now I'm Getting Nervous

After spending the weekend with the Collins' and all their wonderful plans for introducing and selling their new book at two occasions with no books arriving, it made me take a second look at my calendar.

Of course I don't have any copies of Dispel the Mist yet either. Once they are printed they don't just fly through the air, they have to ordered, the number of copies paid for have to be printed, the books are boxed and then sent on their way via truck from somewhere in the Midwest, all the way out here to California.

Next week I head out to Ridgecrest to speak to the Ridgewriters. I did not expect to have books for that engagement. It's been two years since I've spoken to them so I have plenty of books to take that no one has seen before.

On the 12th of September, I'm headed to Nipomo Library for an all day event. Though it would be nice to have copies of Dispel the Mist for that event, again, I have plenty of books to display and sell.

But then we get to September 19th where I'm speaking at the Porterville Library, my own stomping grounds, and having books for this event is essential. That is the book they've asked me to speak about.

When you look at the calendar, that isn't really a whole lot of time. I've been promised that I'll hear the minute the books are ready to order and I'm sure I will. I'm just hoping it won't be too much longer.

When I told Lorna I knew exactly how she felt, I meant it, having gone through this more than once. It would help if an author could wait until books were in hand to set up events, but it must be done ahead of time.

This is just another part of being an author--a part most of us would rather not have to experience--every single time we have a new book out.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Today is My Birthday

Yep, I was born 76 years ago today. I can't believe it. Looking back, it certainly doesn't seem like 76 years. My sister called and sang "Seventy Six Trombones" to me instead of Happy Birthday.

We spent the day driving. After a wonderful weekend with Lorna and Larry Collins at their gorgeous home in Dana Point--despite the trauma of their book not arriving for their book signing or book launch--we set out for home around 7:30 a.m.

We stopped for breakfast, not wanting to be on the freeway with all the people rushing to work. Our drive home was actually better than the one there except for the fact two vehicles tried to change lanes right into our car this time--only one on the way there.

I feel so sorry for anyone who must drive the L.A. freeways everyday of the week.

My daughter-in-law is cooking dinner tonight so that's something to celebrate too.

Of course anytime you leave home, when you return there is always lots to do, but I'm going to save the majority of that until tomorrow.

So, Happy Birthday to me, this had been a good one.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Mixed Day

We are here in Dana Point partly yo celebrate Lorna and Larry Collins new mystery. today was the big Fine Arts Fair Lorna organized and her book was supposed to arrive last week. they didn't show up. So disappointing, but the fair went on.

Lorna and Larry slaved away setting everything up in the front yard of the church. a
Artists and craft people set up their tents. Authors tables were om the porch. It rained for a bit--maybe in sympathy for the Collins disappointment. People came to buy their new book.

Tomorrow they are having a launch for the book that isn't here. Impossible to cancel>

Despite all this we've had a great time with them. We've been celebrating Lorna's and my birthdays--same day and had fun gabbing, two great dinners, and we've been helping as much as possible.

These things happen in the book business--but it is sure awful when it does.

Tomorrow we'll have a good time at the launch without books.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Writing Process

When this appears I'll be in Southern California. Tomorrow I'll report about what went on at the Fine Arts Festival, but today I'm going to tell you how I go about writing a book.

Because I write two series, how I begin depends upon which series I'm going to be writing. If it's the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series I'm going to be researching and thinking about Native American legends and in particular, Yokut or Tule River Indian legends. My latest, Dispel the Mist is about the legendary Hairy Man who roams the mountains above the Tule River Indian Reservation.

I have some great research books with essays by and about Native Americans. I like to look for key phrases that might trigger an idea or a title.

I have a folder where I keep magazine and newspaper articles about small town crimes that might work for the beginning of a mystery since my Tempe mysteries are mostly set in the mountain community of Bear Creek in the Southern Sierra.

As ideas begin to form, I begin jotting notes down on a legal pad. The next step is thinking about the characters I'll need for that particular plot, murder victim or victims, people who would like to see the victims dead for one reason or another and who also had the opportunity to do the deed. Besides motive and opportunity, I have to decide on a way to kill the victim.

Picking names of the characters is important too. I have gathered graduation programs and other such things over the years and I like to mix and match names that sound like they might belong to the characters.

When I have that much done, I pretty much know how I want to begin. I write on the computer, but I keep the legal pad handy to write down ideas that come to me about what needs to happen later. As I get further along in the story, I might job down things I know I need to put in earlier.

While I'm writing, I take a chapter to read at my weekly critique group meeting. The next morning I go over the suggestions they've given me and either use what they've said, discard the comment, or maybe I'll write something completely different because the group has triggered another idea. I'm usually far ahead of the group because I don't just write one chapter a week. I write as much as I can every day.

The process is much the same for my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. One difference is I have a cast of ongoing characters and often spotlight a different one in each book, though I seem to favor Detective Doug Milligan, who began as a street cop in Final Respects, and Stacey Wilbur, who had a small part in Bad Tidings and a much bigger part in Smell of Death and a starring role in No Sanctuary.

And I've got to admit both of them have the largest roles in the next two books.

In the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, I also focus on small town crime, but the location is a beach community in Southern California so I like to research crimes that occur in such areas. In all of these books, though, I always try to show how the job affects the police officers' private and family life and what happens in the family also affects the job.

I write every single day that I'm home. But because I am always promoting one book or another, that takes some of my time too. Once in awhile I take on a writing job such as a ghost writing project, or writing program designs for people going into the residential care business. I also judge a couple of contests on a regular basis which means reading a lot of books--something I love to do.

Once I'm actually finished with a book, I usually find an editor to go over it for me. One that I pay. When that is done, I make the suggested changes and then send it off to the publishing company. For my Tempe Crabtree mysteries, it's Mundania Press and the Rocky Bluff P.D. manuscripts go to Oaktree Press.

Both publishing houses want the manuscripts to be delivered via attachment to email. And of course, both have guidelines that need to be followed.

Mundania has a great questionnaire about the cover where you can give your preferences about all sorts of things and what your vision of the cover might be.

Oaktree is a bit more informal, but the publisher and I more or less brainstormed what should be on the cover.

With both houses, there is an editing process, the in-house editor goes over the book and suggestions and corrections are made. I'm always amazed at how much is discovered even after I've paid an editor to go over the manuscript.

While all this is going on, I'm planning my strategy for promotion. Figuring out what in-person events I'll be doing and signing up for a blog tour. I could plan one myself, I suppose, just haven't wanted to take the time to do it.

Then the ARC or galley proof arrives and this is the time to go over the book once again, looking for typos, glaring errors, and some typesetting problems.

Once it goes back, then it's out of my hands. When the book is actually printed, with both houses, I always buy books at author discount so I have books to send to reviewers and to sell at events.

Then the cycle begins again, while I'm promoting I'm starting the next book or working on one from the other series.

And that's how I do it.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Once Again We're Off

We will be leaving this morning for Southern California and Saturday's Art Festival at the San Juan Capistrano Community Presbyterian Church which begins at 11. I'll be giving a presentation on How to Write a Mystery with group participation as we brainstorm ideas for one.

First though we'll be stopping at Lorna and Larry Collins' home. This event is their baby and they've invited hubby and me to stay with them. We're excited to be spending time with Lorna and Larry. We first met them at Epicon (the conference for e-publishing) though I'm not sure exactly which one. The one I remember the best was held in Virginia Beach in March. We had a wonderful oceanfront hotel, but it was too cold to enjoy being outside. Of course we've seen them at others, including the last one that was held at the Montelongo Resort in Henderson, NV.

They are a fantastic couple and it'll be wonderful to get to know them better.

The drawback is getting down there. We'll be driving and wherever you go in Southern California you have to do it on the freeways. The freeways are so crowded and some people drive like they are on a raceway. No one drives the speed limit and if you try you may get run over. That part I'm not looking forward too. Though we'll certainly take the Magellan to help us get there, we may peruse a map and see what might be the best way to travel. We're not in a hurry.

And that's my post for today.

If you want to know more about the Fine Arts Festival, scroll down.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Public Safety Writers Conference

We are thrilled to have mystery, thriller and horror writer Simon Wood as a keynote speaker for our Public Safety Writers Conference, June 17 -20 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

We have a great line-up, you can read what we've got so far at and I can tell you that there is more to come, just haven't received all the information I need as yet.

The registration form is live and you can either print out the form and sent in a check, or register on line and pay via PayPal.

There is an early bird fee that is good until October 31. If you want to bring along someone who isn't interested in the conference but would like to enjoy lunches with the group, there is a place to sign up for that too.

Don't miss out on this fantastic writing conference.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writing a New Blog Post Everyday

When I started doing blogs, I sort of went at it haphazardly. I didn't have a plan nor did I have special days to blog.

The more I got into it I realized that having new content on one's blog everyday is important. Well, not earth shattering important, but enough that I would like to keep people coming back and reading.

A blog is a bit like writing in a diary. I kept a daily diary until I met my husband-to-be on a blind date. That's when my life got interesting and when I quit writing.

What I decided I wouldn't be doing on my blog is writing political stuff. I'm not going to tell you how I voted, nor how I feel about the health care plan. I learned a long time ago many friends I cherish--both in person and on the Net don't all share the same political views I have. I learned long ago that arguing about them won't change anyone and it can certainly ruin a friendship.

I also don't talk about religion except to say that I am a Christian, I hope that I act like one. Again, though I'm not going to argue with anyone about their beliefs, I will talk to someone if they want to know how and why I believe the way I do, but again, arguing can ruin friendships.

I cherish my friends and so those two topics are taboo as far as this personal blog goes.

So that's my blog for today.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Emotional Freedom by Dr. Judith Orloff

A Guide to Staying Brave and Positive During Stressful Times

Picture yourself in a traffic jam but feeling utterly calm. Or not letting your supervisor’s bad mood frustrate you. Imagine being peaceful instead of worrying. Or enjoying nurturing relationships and a warm sense of belonging in the place of loneliness. This is what it feels like when you’ve achieved emotional freedom.

National bestselling author Judith Orloff MD presents new solutions for dealing with emotions in our hyper-tense world. She invites you to take a remarkable journey, one that leads to happiness, serenity, and a mastery over negativity that pervades daily life. You possess the ability to liberate yourself from worry, anger, and fear. True emotional freedom is closer than you think.

Synthesizing neuroscience, intuitive medicine, psychological and subtle energy techniques, Dr. Orloff maps the elegant relationships between our minds, bodies, spirits, and our environments. With humor and compassion, she shows you how to identify the most powerful negative emotions and how to transform them into hope, kindness, and courage. Compelling patient case-studies, stories from her on-line community and workshop participants, and from her own private life illustrate the simple, easy-to-follow action steps that you can take to cope with emotional vampires, disappointments, and rejection.

Emotional Freedom is a road map for those who are stressed out, discouraged, or overwhelmed as well as for those who are in a good emotional place but want to feel even better. As Dr. Orloff shows, each day presents opportunities for us to be heroes in our own lives: to turn away from negativity, react constructively, and seize command of any situation. Complete emotional freedom is within your grasp.

A Guide to Staying Brave and Positive During Stressful Times

Picture yourself in a traffic jam but feeling utterly calm. Or not letting your supervisor’s bad mood frustrate you. Imagine being peaceful instead of worrying. Or enjoying nurturing relationships and a warm sense of belonging in the place of loneliness. This is what it feels like when you’ve achieved emotional freedom.

National bestselling author Judith Orloff MD presents new solutions for dealing with emotions in our hyper-tense world. She invites you to take a remarkable journey, one that leads to happiness, serenity, and a mastery over negativity that pervades daily life. You possess the ability to liberate yourself from worry, anger, and fear. True emotional freedom is closer than you think.

Synthesizing neuroscience, intuitive medicine, psychological and subtle energy techniques, Dr. Orloff maps the elegant relationships between our minds, bodies, spirits, and our environments. With humor and compassion, she shows you how to identify the most powerful negative emotions and how to transform them into hope, kindness, and courage. Compelling patient case-studies, stories from her on-line community and workshop participants, and from her own private life illustrate the simple, easy-to-follow action steps that you can take to cope with emotional vampires, disappointments, and rejection.

In Dr. Judith Orloff’s Emotional Freedom you will discover:

Four practical secrets to empowering your emotional life

Your emotional “type” (to better understand why you feel the way you feel and how to feel even better)

How to understand and protect your sensitivity

The way to face fear and build unstoppable courage

How to stop absorbing the emotions of others

How to communicate with compassion

...and so much more!


“Dr. Orloff shows you how to achieve a lightness of being and feel more positive and peaceful. Highly recommended.”
—Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul

“Spectacular! I recommend it to everyone who wants to overcome sabotaging emotional patterns to achieve self-mastery.”
—Candace Pert, Ph.D., author of Molecules of Emotion

“Emotional Freedom is a heartfelt, accessible guide…loaded with nuggets of practical and profound healing wisdom.”
—Christiane Northrup MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

“I couldn’t put this book down!”
—Caroline Myss, Ph.D., author of Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul

“This book offers you a path to greater health, intimacy, and compassion.”
—Dean Ornish, M.D., author of The Spectrum and Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease

“Dr. Orloff’s wise insights about emotions serve us with wonderful clarity.”
—Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God

"An invaluable book written by one of the finest psychiatrists of our time."
—Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

"This book is a lifesaver for people who are frustrated, stressed, and anxious. If you long for more joy, give yourself a gift and read this book!"
—Marci Shimoff, bestselling author of Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul and Happy for No Reason

"A valuable guidebook for anyone who believes that greater possibilities await them, but has not yet realized them."
—Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things

""[B]oth intensely informed by the wealth of Dr. Judith Orloff's professional experience and resolutely compassionate."
—Mary Oliver, Pulitizer Prize winning poet

"This well-written book is full of good advice for anyone who wants to take more control of his or her emotional life."
—Library Journal


***To purchase “Emotional Freedom” with 100 free gifts from noted transformational leaders such as Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Michael Beckwith, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Shirley Maclaine and more go to:

Working on the Public Safety Writers Conference for 2010

Since I got my correction for my galley proof off, I've been dabbling in this and that.

One of my priorities has been working on next year's conference for PSWA. I'm thrilled because I already have the beginnings of a great line-up.

Suspense and thriller author, Simon Wood, is going to be a keynote speaker.

Forensic expert, Steven Scarborough will be back to impart some of his vast knowledge.

Mystery author Michael A. Black is going to tell us how to plot a book in an hour.

Author of The Pot Thief, Michael Orenduff along with his wife, are going to show us what makes a good cover and what doesn't.

Joyce Spizer Foy asks the question, "Is your hero too good and your villain too bad?"

And most fun of all, Sunny Frazier is going to tell us "How Much Sex is Too Much?"

Keep checking the webpage, for the information about the conference. It should be up sometime this week.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

You Are Invited!

Community Presbyterian Church of San Juan Capistrano
Fine Arts Festival 2009

August 22, 2009 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

San Juan Capistrano Community Presbyterian Church
32202 Del Obispo Street
San Juan Capistrano, California 92675
Phone: (949) 493-1502

Workshops to be presented throughout the day by artists and writers
Artists, crafters, and writers to sell their creations
Lunch and snacks available for purchase
Musicians to entertain
Learning opportunities and entertainment for the entire family
Invite your friends and neighbors!

Featuring award-winning mystery writer Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn will present her workshop on “How to Write a Mystery” and be on hand to autograph copies of her books.

Award-winning artist Robert l. Schwenck will describe how he creates a painting and then create one during the event.

A new mystery, Murder…They Wrote by authors Larry K. & Lorna Collins will be launched. Be the first to own an autographed copy.
And much, much more!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Flying from a Remote Location

We live in the sticks.

So many of the things I want to go to, mystery cons and the like are places where I have to fly. Because we're getting older, I'd like to do as many of these as possible while we can.

I was checking on flights to New Orleans from Bakersfield--eek, the prices are horrendous. I don't have enough miles to help. I've already signed up for Epicon which is in New Orleans this year so guess I'll wait awhile and see if prices come down. Not likely, but I am going to wait.

A group I belong to wants to meet in Ontario CA. To get there I'll have to either fly to Phoenix AZ first or to LAX and then Ontario. The price for that was almost as much as the one to New Orleans.

When I went to Alaska, I had to fly out of Fresno, then to San Francisco, then to Seattle and on to Anchorage. Coming home it was Seattle to Portland, Portland to San Francisco, and then Fresno. That trip cost a fortune.

We drive to a lot of places, Las Vegas, down to Southern California, up to Sacramento, even to Crescent City--which takes us old folks two days to get to because we have to stop so much.

I realize you always have to think about the cost of gas, meals on the road, hotel rooms when you drive vs airplane ticket and the time you save.

Anyway, it's just a dilemma and something else for me to complain about. And as an aside, I don't mind the actual flying at all. I'm not fond of long layovers, or having to run to another terminal when there's only a short amount of time between fights. It's a pain to take off my shoes and pull my computer out of my carry-on and I suppose I'll also have to pull out my Kindle too. Oh well.

And that's my blog for today.


Is Any of This Worth It?

Of course I'm speaking about all the time, effort, and yes, money that's invested in writing.

I can answer this question in several ways depending upon what is meant by worth.

If it means money--no, it isn't worth what I make. I end up spending a lot more on promoting--biz cards, going to conferences and conventions, book festivals, etc. than actually comes in on royalties and what I sell myself.

Is it worth it for the fun I have? Yes, indeed. I've made so many friends over the years going to conferences, conventions and the like--friends who have become really close and I keep in touch with through email and Facebook. Many of these friends are other authors, but just as many are readers and fans of my books. (Oh and by the way, the author friends also are readers and some of them are fans of my books and vice versa.)

Hubby and I have visited many place in this country of ours we'd have never even thought about if it hadn't been for mystery cons. Omaha Nebraska comes to mind first. That was a place I'd never even considered as a fun place to go. Mayhem in the Midlands is held there and I wouldn't miss it. The Old Marketplace has the fabulous restaurants and the zoo is the best I've ever visited. We loved San Antonio and Tampa FL and of course Seattle. Our most exciting time was when I was invited to be an instructor at the Maui Writers Retreat and my way was paid--brought hubby along too and though I worked all week, he and I both managed to have a fabulous time.

Because I write mysteries about people in law enforcement I'm grateful for the friendship I've made in the Public Safety Writers Association and working on the program for the yearly conference has been a challenge and fun all at the same time.

And now down to the real worth--being able to write and tell the stories bouncing around in my head. Now writing two series, the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries and the Rocky Bluff P.D. has crowded my brain with such a large group of characters all crying out to be written about.

Yes, it's all worth it. I make sure to take time for my family and to have fun. Hubby and I try to go out once a week together, for dinner and a movie when possible.

But yes, despite the downside, it has all been worth it.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Having Books On Kindle

Yesterday on Facebook, someone mentioned they'd read Wishing Makes It So on their Kindle and truly enjoyed it.

This is the thing about e-books, they don't disappear. Wishing Makes It So, a book that came out in 2006 is still being bought and read as an e-book. I won several awards with this book.

It's about a very bad little girl and was inspired by something that happened in our family--fortunately without such dire results.

Many of my books are available on the Kindle and in other e-book formats. This is thrilling to me. I've been writing for years, but because I've always been with small, independent publishers, I've never attained best seller status--though I've had a loyal following of readers, especially with my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series.

Yes, I do have a Kindle and I even bought a couple of my own books just to see what they looked like on it.

The majority of my books are under my name, Marilyn Meredith, but my Rocky Bluff P.D. series is under the name of F. M. Meredith.

Ten years ago when I was telling everyone about e-publishing I really had no idea that one day there'd be such a thing as the Kindle. Readers have come and gone, but none have ever attained the popularity of the Kindle.

I couldn't be happier.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Watching Reality TV

Yes, I confess, I love Reality TV. I'm a morning person, usually roll out of bed around 5:45. By the time I'm through cleaning up after dinner,I'm done. Ready to watch a movie on DVD or some mind-candy TV.

I'm fond of Big Brother, Survivor, The Great American Race, and I've been watching the new RV Family show. The only ones I don't watch are the dating ones and the crazy competition where people can't help but being hurt.

Now, you might say, what a waste of time for a writer. Maybe, maybe not. My mind is no longer fresh enough to do any real work by the 8 p.m. And if you want to gather up information for characters for novels, nothing beats reality TV. Sometimes I can't believe such people exist!

There's always some self-absorbed male or female that can't see beyond his or hers looks or great physique or curves. When you get into the shows where there are couples, you can always see the potential for disaster in their mis-matched futures--or the ones who obviously made a great choice.

Family dynamics are even more fun. I applaud those who work together and seem to genuinely love being together. Some families you just thank God they don't live in your neighborhood.

One thing I have to say about most of these reality shows is that contestants need to pay attention to the rules. If there are rules to be read, read them all the way through and make sure you understand what you can't do before rushing off into the unknown.

Believe me I've found great fodder in reality shows for character traits that find their way into my books.

And just for fun, I watch Dancing With the Stars--even got my husband hooked on the show.

And that's my big confession for today.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What You Should be Doing While Writing Your Book

Writing your book is only part of what has to be done. Of course you want to write the best book possible, we all know that. Once it's done, you're going to want someone who knows the genre you're writing it in to give it a first edit. Pay someone if necessary. If you really want your book to be accepted for publication, it needs to be as free of flaws as you can make it.

Meanwhile, do you know who your audience for the book is? That's always important because that's who you will primarily be focusing your marketing on.

Have you written an elevator pitch that you can easily roll of your tongue?

What about the book blurb for the back of the book?

Do you have a one page synopsis that you can use for blogs and other places for promotion.

Do you have a website? A blog? Are you on Facebook? You should be if your not already.

Have you figured out your marketing plan? What kinds of things will you do in person? Book signings? Library talks? These need to be set up way ahead of time.
Are you going to make a book video or hire someone to do it? Have you thought about a virtual book tour? If so, are you going to find blogs and schedule it yourself or are you going to hire someone to set it up for you? Have you checked to see what book fairs and festivals are close enough to where you live for you to participate in?

Many publishers want to see this marketing plan right along with your query and synopsis.

Are you watching how either authors are promoting? Write things down that you thing you might like to try.

Is your bio up-to-date? You may need more than one--a short 50 words or less, or one with more information.

Once your books are published, you'll want to buy some at author discount for yourself. Some larger publishers have restrictions on authors' selling books, but small publishers encourage the practice. Even if a bookstore orders your books, they might run out and having some in the trunk of your car could be a saving grace.

Hand out bookmarks and/or biz cards with the cover of your book and ordering information to everyone you run into.

That's just a few things to get you started.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going Over a Galley Proof

Yesterday I received the galley proof for Dispel the Mist. I was happy because that's the next step to having the books actually published.

This manuscript was read chapter by chapter by my critique group. Many changes were made. Then I paid an author friend who has done much editing to edit the manuscript. I made the suggested changes and fixed the typos.

The book was sent off to my publisher. An editor was assigned. A great editor, I might add. I was pleased with all she found--many typos and even some inconsistencies. She went over it twice as did I each time she sent it back.

When I went over the galley, some of the things I found were gliches because of the typesetting (which is what they seem to still call it even though no type is being set), but I did make some changes, minor, found more typos, and once when a wrong name was being used.

Now, of course, all those things will have to be fixed, but I won't see it again.

After that it will go to the printer and I can order books for all the places I've set up for appearances. It's always a bit nerve-wracking when the time draws close.
I know the publisher is putting together many more books than mine, and some of them will be bigger sellers--but I have high hopes for Dispel the Mist. Not everyone has the Hairy Man as one of the characters in his or her book.


Monday, August 10, 2009

My Eldest Daughter's Birthday

The photo is of me, hubby, daughter Dana, and her hubby Mike. She says she's 57 today but I don't know how that could possibly be. As my sister said, "If our kids keep getting older they'll soon pass us up."

It doesn't seem possible that it's been 57 years since I woke up with labor pains, had to ask my father-in-law and his new bride to take me to the hospital since I'd spent the night at their house and didn't have a car anyway.

The hospital was in Cambridge MD and I was 3000 miles away from my home in Los Angeles and my family. Hubby was stationed in Norfolk VA and couldn't come when he was called as he was the bus driver on a trip to and from North Carolina. He didn't make it until the next day.

Dana Kathleen was the first of five children, all the rest born in California.

Always an easy child, she did have her quirks. She didn't speak in a language others could understand--she had an array of strange words that her grandparents, aunt and I understood. Hubby went overseas when she was 6 months old and we lived with my folks though he came home often enough that I became pregnant with our number two daughter.

When hubby came home when she was nearly three, we moved on the Seabee base in Port Hueneme. Dana made friends with a little girl who lived across the way who asked, "Why do you talk like that?" From then on, Dana spoke like all the rest of us.

After I had number two daughter, Lisa, we moved into a little house in Los Angeles and hubby was gone again. I became deathly ill to the point of not know what was going on. Three-year-old Dana took care of her infant sister and got a neighbor to call my grandmother to come help because my parents were on vacation.

Dana has been an amazing person ever since. She helped take care of her siblings as they grew up. And she babysat in our neighborhood from the time she was eight-year-old.

Her high-school sweetheart was and is her true love. They married right out of high school. She began her working career as a Kelly Girl. She and Mike have two children. Mike was nearly killed in a horrific accident with the truck he drove and Dana stayed at the hospital the entire time he was there. His recovery was miraculous.

She recently retired from the Oxnard School District after nearly 30 years working as a secretary in various positions. Now she and Mike, who is also retired, love traveling in their RV and spending time with their five grandchildren--who, of course, are also are great-grandchildren.

Yes, it's hard to believe we could have a daughter this old--but I guess it's true.

Happy Birthday Dana!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Brand New Week

Every morning when I wake, I praise God that I'm still here. When you get as old as I am, every day is a gift. I'm always anxious to see what is in store.

This week will be pretty calm (at least that's what I think looking at my calendar).

We're sharing our home for a week with a young man who has been staying with my daughter and son-in-law. He's been in the foster care system most of his life--and at 18 those kids are shoved out on the street. We have a foster home near the church and those kids have been attending both Sunday School and church service as well as Awana on Wednesday evenings for several years now. Some of the young men have been fortunate enough to return home. Others have joined the service. This particular youth has no where to go, so my son-in-law, who is the pastor of the church, took him in. He and my daughter have gone on vacation this week, that's why he's with us.

Our day will begin by heading over to the church where both hubby and I teach Sunday School (hubby the senior adults, me the 3 through 5th grade boys) and then church. We're eating leftover lasagna and a big salad for lunch. I'm sure granddaughter who lives next door will be joining us.

In the middle of the week I have a lunch meeting with folks who are in the residential care business. Though I retired from same several years ago, I still put out their newsletter and prepare program plans for people wanting to go into that business.

I have a radio interview on Friday at ten in the morning on West Coast Authors Blog Talk Radio with Robin Gorley.

I'm sure as the week progresses, all sorts of interesting things will happen.

I'm hoping to be booked with more libraries and service groups to talk about my new book when it comes out this fall. If you know anyone in the Central or Southern California area looking for a speaker, send them my way. They can email me at

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kids and Grandkids

As anyone who has read my posts knows, I have a huge family. Seems amazing to me since I only had one sibling, my sis.

My very first grandson, Patrick, was born on my husband's and my anniversary. He's the bare-chested fellow with his beautiful wife Lucy. The two kids with medals are their daughters, Emily and Olivia. The girls are following their father's footsteps in the sport of shot-put and discus-throwing. They also have a younger son, Ethan, who is into martial arts.

The other photo of me and hubby is with Alyssa, our youngest grandchild. She belongs to our youngest daughter. (She's also the same age as our oldest great-grandchild.)

Alyssa doesn't usually wear glasses, she bought these non-prescription glasses because she likes how she looks in them. I'm on Facebook with her and its fun seeing the photos she posts and hearing a bit about what she's doing.

I really do enjoy hearing about all of these offspring of ours--and it's even better when we get to spend some time with them.

And that's my musings for today.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Tolowa Dancers Photo

Isn't this a beautiful picture?

I decided to share another today as I'm going to be busy most of the day and won't have time to blog.

Again, this is in the redwoods up near Crescent City--a most gorgeous place. These are the coastal redwoods, different than the big Sequoias near where I live.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Visit with Daughters, A Book Launch, Movies

We arrived home this after noon after three days away.

Our primary purpose was to visit our two grown daughters who live in Southern California. We stayed with our eldest daughter because our youngest was involved helping out with the funeral arrangements for her best friend--the young woman died after a heroic battle with cancer.

On our first evening we took our eldest and hubby out to dinner to celebrate their wedding anniversary. We went to Joe's Crabshack where I thoroughly enjoyed the Dungeness Crab Bucket.

Besides visiting lots, we went to the movies twice. We saw Public Enemy which the men enjoyed more than we did, and on the next day we watched 30 minutes of Funny Man and walked out--it was far too raunchy for all of us. We then went to the Ugly Truth--that one was funny--though it had its raunchy moments too.

Daughter and I attended Sheila Lowe's book launch for her latest, Dead Write. It was a lovely event with many, many people. Since it was in another beach city didn't expect to see anyone I knew, but I saw and visited with two women from the L.A. chapter of Sisters in Crime that I've seen from time to time over the years.

That evening we raided daughter's refrigerator for left-overs.

The last evening we were there we had dinner with youngest daughter and hubby and our granddaughter at Outback. Since we don't have any of these chain restaurants near where I live, it was a treat. We caught up with everything that's going on with this part of our family and had a lovely meal.

We no sooner arrived home and learned that the same granddaughter we'd just seen last night may have broken her arm while on a hike and mother and daughter were in the hospital. Haven't heard the outcome as yet--but it does seem that my daughter has far too much on her plate.

And that's what I've been up to since I last wrote a blog.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Reality Check for Fledgling Writers

Lots of people put tips on their blogs so I'm not going to put the usual ones, you can find wonderful blogs about writing many places including

To be a writer, first you must be a reader.

Oh, I know, most anyone can use a computer these days and write a lot of words and call it a book.

Because I've judged a lot of self-published books in contests, I can tell you that right off the bat I can tell which author is a reader and which one isn't. It's nothing magical about the words, a reader knows what a book is supposed to look like on the inside. A reader knows about margins, paragraphs, quotation marks, what dialogue is supposed to look like. Do you think a book without any white space will win a contest?

If you really want to be a writer you will set aside a time period everyday or at least five days a week to write. I've heard many, many people say they plan to write a book, but they are just too busy right now. Those folks will always be too busy and never get around to writing.

After you've finished with your manuscript, get someone to read it who has knowledge about writing and the type of book you've written. Listen to their criticisms and suggestions with an open mind.

If you've written a book, you'll do some research to find out which publishers or agents might be interested in your work. Before you send anything to either, you'll check their guidelines and make sure that you are sending exactly what they want in the format they've asked for.

Too many novice writers don't bother with that step. If a query or submission arrives by email to a publisher that doesn't comply with the guidelines, you will be rejected without your manuscript or query even being read. Every agent and publisher receives so many submissions, they are looking for a reason to reject a manuscript. That sounds harsh but it's reality.

If your book gets accepted be prepared to spend a great deal of time and some of your money doing promotion. Did you think the publishers was going to do all the promoting? Doesn't happen that way. In fact, many publishers want to see your marketing plan right along with your submission.

And what was that about money? At the very least you'll want to buy business cards with the cover of the book on it and all the information about where it can be purchased along with your website. Oh, yes, you must have a website. You also might want postcards and/or bookmarks.

If your writing genre fiction, you might consider going to one of more of the many conventions around the country to let readers know about your book.

There is much, much more you'll want to do to promote your book, you might take a look at some of the things I've planned for promoting my latest, Dispel the Mist for ideas.

If you want to be a writer, writing itself has to be an important part of you life.

Put yourself in front of the computer and write, write, write.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dispel the Mist

Dispel the Mist is the latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. I'm truly excited about this book which should be available in September.

The cover depicts the pictograph of the Hairy Man as it looks on the Tule River Indian Reservation. The Hairy Man is a legend comparable to Big Foot in other areas of the county. Of course he plays an important part in Dispel the Mist.

Dispel the Mist is being published as a trade paperback and an e-book by Mundania Press.

I had a great time researching this book and I hope that everyone who has the opportunity to read it will have as great a time.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Gearing up the Promo for Dispel the Mist

Even though I've not yet seen the galley proofs for my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Dispel the Mist, I'm planning the promotion for it.

The cover is great, I'm hoping to get a .jpg of it soon so I can let people see it.

The book is supposed to be available by September. I have not actually set the date for the launch party here in Springville, but it'll be in October and that's because other events became available for September and of course I signed on.

I got invited to the Nipomo Library to be a part of their parking lot sale--which will have all sorts of things on display besides books. I'll promote like heck though in hopes that people will look for me there. That's Saturday, September 12th from 9 to 3.

The Porterville Library called and asked if I'd like to come and speak for them, so I'll be doing that on Saturday, September 19 at 2 p.m.

Our family is having a reunion in Barstow at the Holiday Inn Express, the one right off the freeway, not the one in Barstow proper, on the 25th and 26th, so on the 26th, I'm having a mini-booksigning at 2 p.m. either in the lobby or the room we've got for the reunion. I'll have a sign up to point the way.

On Sunday, October 4th, we'll be in San Luis Obispo for the Central Coast Book and Author Festival from 9 to 5--it's right next to the Mission. There's more in October, but that's enough for now.

I will also be doing a virtual book tour in October. Those are a lot of fun.

And that's my promo plan so far.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Time to Dance

The Bible says, "There's a time to live and a time to die."

The time to die will come to all of us. Yesterday, one of my daughter's best friends passed a way after a not so long but brave fight against cancer. She suffered through many painful treatments, not just to live longer but because her daughter was expecting a new baby. Fortunately, she did get to see and hold her new grandchild.

This woman was special. She was a hard worker, loved her family and her friends, volunteered for all sort of things. But what I will always remember her best for was how she helped my daughter when her husband was killed in the line of duty as a police officer. Not only did she spend hours on the phone with my daughter, but when my daughter wanted to move back to her hometown, her friend found the perfect house. I know there was lots I didn't even know, but what I do know made her a special person to me.

We lost our eldest son to cancer a few years ago. He suffered through all sort of painful treatments but eventually succumbed. I was at his bedside when his soul left his body to go to Heaven, along with his wife and step-daughter. We'd been singing, "Fly Away,Oh Fly Away Home" to him.

Not long ago, my mom went to her heavenly reward at the age of 97. She was anxious to leave this world and at times said, "I wonder if God forgot about me."

Of course He didn't. As the Bible says, "There's a time to live and a time to die."

It also says, "There's a time to dance." I take that to mean while we are here on this earth we should enjoy our lives. Yes, we're all going to die one day, but while we're here we should make the most of it. Live each day to the fullest. Let people you care about know you love them. Enjoy the beauty of this world. Be kind to people who cross your path. Do something nice for others.

I'm going to take the time to dance--so should you.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Some of the Changes I've Seen in My Life Time

I was born at the end of the Great Depression. Though sometimes my dad didn't have a job, we always had a roof over our head and food on the table--though sometimes it was odd. I remember suppers of milk toast--buttered toast in warm milk. I thought it was a wonderful treat. When I gave it to my own kids once, they thought it was horrible.

We listened to the radio--my first memories of the radio are the soap operas my mom listened to: Ma Perkins, My Gal Sunday and others I can't remember the names of. Later I remember listening to all sorts of mysteries, The Shadow, Inner Sanctum, Perry Mason.

For Christmas one year my dad made me and all cousins great scooters. Another Christmas he built me a two-story doll house and my aunt made all the furniture.

My dad made a contraption for our early camping trips that was a trailer that opened up like a tent. Too bad he didn't patent it since later a commercial model almost the same became available.

Dad made lots of things, a small row boat out of a gas tank from an airplane, an outboard motor boat, and finally a great inboard ski boat--he also made our water skis.

We had the first TV in the neighborhood because my dad made ours from a Heath Kit. Sister and I helped--we brought him all the wires he asked for nearly all night long. We also helped with the guide wires for the antenna on the roof--as did all the kids in the neighborhood. Everyone came to our house to watch TV--we watched what ever was on, Beanie and Cecil (hand puppets), wrestling, variety shows, roller derby.

Dad also made my two wheel bike because during the WW II, you couldn't buy bikes. He made one for my cousin too. Dad was a plumber at Paramount studio and he fashioned the bike frames out of pipes.

We also had an automatic washing machine as soon as they were available, my father liked to have anything that was new.

When I was in Jr. High (that's what middle school was called back then), I put out a teen magazine. There was no such thing as a copy machine. I used a hectograph, which was a jelly like substance that you heated up and put in a pan. When you typed the original you used a special kind of carbon that you then pressed into the jelly. You could make about 15 decent copies that way. If you wanted pictures, there were special colored pencils to use. Each time you did a new page you had to melt down the jelly and start over. I charged 5 cents for each copy.

Our telephone number was Blanchard 71848. You dialed BL and the numbers.

We lived in Los Angeles and rode the bus that connected with the red car (streetcar) that went downtown.

Our house had two bedrooms and one bath--so did most of my friends' homes.

Movies had two features, a cartoon, newsreel, and Keno which was much like Bingo and winners got prizes like a set of dishes.

After I got married and started a family, my babies wore cloth diapers, when we went somewhere and my husband drove, I held the baby in my arms, the other kids sat in back without seat belts.

The first apartment I lived in had an ice box, no refrigerator.

I didn't get a dryer until I had my fifth child. My grandfather took pity on me hanging up a huge wash every single day and bought me a dryer. I've never been without one since.

My first airplane flight was out of LAX and I had to walk across the tarmac and climb the stirs to the plane that had two engines with propellers.

When my husband was in Vietnam, we wrote letters and occasionally talked via ham operators. Service men can now talk and be seen by their wives via computers. Wow!

When I first started writing I had a portable typewriter. To make copies I used carbon paper. I sent out my manuscripts in a box with another box inside with enough postage for it to come back to me if it was rejected and I could send it out again.

Next I got an electric typewriter that made corrections. Was I thrilled when the computer became something ordinary people could buy. My first one had two floppy discs (and yes, they were really floppy) one with the program on and one that copied what you were working on.

And everyone knows how much the computer and printers have changed since then. My life as a writer became so much easier. When I submit a manuscript now it's as an attachment through e-mail.

I'm not even going to talk about the other wars, the space programs, changes in our government, it's all too mind boggling.

And that's just a tiny bit of the changes and I'm thankful for them all.