Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Going Off On a Totally Different Subject

Last week I helped out at Vacation Bible School. My great-grandson Aaron, who is only 13, was filling in for his grandpa who was sick, teaching the Bible Story class. He did great with the little kids, but he's really short--the same size or smaller that the two oldest classes--that's why he needed my help. We worked well together.

At the end of one of the stories--you can find it at the end of the book of John--there was a passage that really struck me. I'm sure I've read it before, but I certainly didn't remember it, probably because I was younger at the time.

What it says is when you're a young person you dress yourself and go where you please, but when you get old you must hold out your arms for someone else to dress you and go wherever anyone takes you.

How true is that? It immediately made me think of Aaron's other great-grandma who lives at his house. Once a vibrant lady, who worked in a factory for years, then cleaned houses for professional people well into her 80s, now 90 plus is suffering from dementia and must go wherever my granddaughter takes her. Sunday, before church, her daughter came to take her for two weeks and I don't think she had any idea what was going on.

Aaron and I talked about it and he asked who was going to take care of me when the time came. I told him I hoped that I could take care of myself until I died. I probably have a 50/50 chance. My mom was very independent until she reached her late 80's. She lived in the little house next door to us for several years, then moved in with my sis and lived there until she died--she dressed herself, but was no longer independent. Her sister, my aunt, is now 97 and still living alone. She no longer drives, but did until she was 95, but she has lots of friends who take her where she wants to go when she wants to go.

I took care of developmentally disabled women in my home (it was a licensed facility at the time) for 23 years, they ranged in age from 19 to 60, and though I only had to dress one young lady, I did a lot of supervising as far as what to wear. When it was time to go anywhere, no one wanted to stay home.

Because I'm in my mid-70's, that Bible passage really made me think. Hubby is approaching 80, but we still love to go. He can't climb on the roof anymore, would if I let him, but he can fix about anything--he's just a bit slower doing it.

We love to go to the movies and watch them at home. He's so supportive of my writing and likes to go help me at any selling event and gets a kick out of mystery cons and conferences.

I'm praying for many more years where I can dress myself and go where I want to go.

Marilyn

Monday, June 29, 2009

Betty Webb Gave Us Some Wonderful Tips



The most wonderful Betty Webb added so much to the PSWA conference. She gave a dynamite keynote speech about the creation of both of her series, the darker Lean Jones series and her new, lighter Gunn Zoo mysteries.

She gave us a wonderful handout which I am not going to put here as it is hers and if you're lucky, you might hear her give the same presentation one day.

What I am going to do is give a few extra tips that I wrote in the margins of the hand out.

The first page of your novel is a promise to your reader.

The first page should have action, action, action--a crisis not of the main characters own making, and he or she should solve the problem him or herself. The first page better be the best possible.

There are two elements to a story: style and structure.

Don't make the mistake of having the female sleeping with the bad guy unless there's a good reason for her to do so.

She suggested having a dead body on the first page and another in the middle.

Always a good idea to have the detective or sleuth be the one to discover the body.

Tension should build on every page.

Strong arc of action is what sells books.

Only use one or two sentences for back story.

Good books are not written, they are rewritten.

Circle all the "was" or "ing" words and replace with active verbs.

Betty told us that she writes every day from 8 to 5.

To learn more about her and her books, go to:

http://www.bettywebb-mystery.com or http://www.bettywebb-zoomystery.com

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Notes from PSWA Conference

Editors and Publisher Panel:

Query letter must be free of typos.

Must have a marketing plan, many publishers want to know what you plan to do to promote your book ahead of time.

Must have your book edited before you submit. Get recommendations for an editor from someone you know and trust.

Beware of agents who take you on then recommend an editor.

Character Panel:

The main character should have flaws and reasons for not wanting to do what he will have to do.

Ask questions of your character so you know it all and will be able to know why the character acts as he or she does.

Characters do make mistakes and character makes the book.

Side-kick character should be off to the side.

The characters should be surprising.

Must make the person become real, including the physical reaction to things around them.

In plays or script everything happens through dialogue.

You can build characters on people you know--though there was some disagreement about this.

In my own experience, when I have based a fictional character on a real person they didn't recognize themself.

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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Steve Scarborough's Tips on Getting Forensics Right

Steve was wonderful. He's been an expert forensic witness on all kind of crimes. I'm just going to mention a few of the things he told us.

Forensic Evidence can narrow the leads and eliminate suspects.
Forensic facts can make your story come alive, but you need to be careful.

You should know the direction your story is going before you do the research.

Fingerprints are the most conclusive form of forensic evidence though Fingerprints and DNA should get equal billing.

It's hard to get fingerprints off of towels, the sofa, etc. metal and glass works better.

Ballistics evidence depends upon certain conditions of the bullet.

Other types of evidence are hair, fiber, glass fragments, ABO blood type, shoe prints.

Everything is circumstantial evidence except an eye witness.

What you must have is Means, Motive and Opportunity.

It's a myth that anything can be done--nothing is proven quickly, and some of the science seen on TV is make-believe.

You can't tell race or sex from fingerprints.

There is no such thing as a three point or four point match in fingerprints.

Detectives don't follow the evidence to the lab.

And the labs don't have everything they need in forensics. The smaller the place, the less they will have in the way of crime labs.

Steve was fantastic, worth the price of the conference.

In my books, the police officers use old-fashioned detective work--I never use much in the way of forensics, found it easier that way.

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

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Joyce Spizer-Foy on Screen Writing



Joyce's suggestion was when writing a screen play have the actor(s) in mind who you envision as playing the parts.

Don't put in any sound effects. Get rid of the word "up".

110 to 115 pages. One page equals one minute.

Dialogue nor more than four lines long.

Hero must be on the first page.

No typos or the script will go in the trash.

Use Final Draft or Movie Magic to learn how to format a screen play.

Don't date it, ET was shopped for 22 years!

Don't put any copy write information on the page.

Don't give the director or the actor stage directions.

Pump up the tension!

Scripts are hard to sell.

(I'm not interested in writing scripts, if you are, I suggest you take a class and get the software Joyce mentioned. I wouldn't mind having one of my books optioned though.)

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mistakes That Make Us Cringe

This is my first report on the PSWA Conference. This is from the panel with police officers and a prosecuting attorney and it was about what really bothered them that was wrong with what happened on TV and in movies and books.

Procedural problems like using lights and sirens when going to the scene of an ongoing crime, like a bank robbery. Not knowing the difference between the police and sheriff's departments, parole and probation. The fact that lieutenants don't go to the crime scene or do the leg work, they take care of the paperwork and procedure.

Not portraying Crime Stoppers correctly. CSI people do not walk all over the crime scene or go into the evidence room. Ties with short sleeved shirts. Police continuing to question after the attorney gets there--once the attorney arrives, questioning is over. Female cops with long flowing hair and no bullet-proof vest.

Lack of research by the author especially with the use of guns: a magazine is put into the gun, not a clip, .38 has no safety. No one in police work has an empty chamber in his/her gun.

Every state has different laws--but constitutional law is always the same. A non-officer gathering evidence is against the law like what happens on The Mentalist.

In the '70s and '80s, cops didn't wear bullet-proof vests. Have to be half psycho to be undercover, no one knows what you're doing or where you're going, often the other cops don't even know who you are.

Most of the people on the panel said they lost interest when the book was wrong.

An author needs to use the correct jargon for the area. Big difference between the words used, on East Coast cops make a collar, West Coast cops make an arrest. Number codes are different within jurisdictions too.

Because suspects talk different depending upon the time period, don't use too many slang words.

One of the funniest comments was when a cop was asked if he used his flashlight to check out an indoor crime scene at night. The answer was, "No, I turn on the lights."
How many times have we watched the CSI team on TV doing their entire crime scene investigation using only flashlights?

What I learned most from this panel was to make sure to check out anything that I wasn't sure about and never ever depend upon TV or movies for your research.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm Back!

Because the hotel charged so much for the WiFi, I didn't bother to do anymore blogging.

The PSWA Conference was outstanding! I'm so pleased with how everything went.

At the moment, I'm exhausted and haven't unpacked all the goodies from the conference. I intend to put much of the information I learned into my blog as time goes on.

We had such wonderful people in attendance and the experts who share with us were so generous of their time.

I promise tomorrow I'll have much more to share.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

We're Here!

Yes,we're in Vegas. not at the hotel until tomorrow. having fun visiting with my sis. surprised I got wifi here, got to go yo bed now. Marilyn

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two More Days and We Leave Again

It's truly countdown for the Public Safety Writers Conference--and yes, I am mightily excited!

This is my second year of planning the conference program and I thought last years was good--but we have so many outstanding speakers and people coming this year, I can hardly wait!

Now if we can just get through everything without too many gliches, I'll be happy.

Though there are quite a few people coming that I know--and I've had the good fortune of meeting two already that I hadn't met before--there are some new folks that are coming for the first time. I'm not only anxious to meet them, but hoping they have an outstanding experience.

Wonderful author, Betty Webb is not only giving the keynote speech at Saturday's lunch, but she also offered to teach a class--and I never turn anyone down who volunteers. I've already seen her handouts and this will be a great class for both unpublished and published writers.

I hope I can get my camera on my Blackberry to work so I can send photos back to my email so I can display them on this blog. (I'm notoriously obtuse when it comes to using all of my electronic toys--and can do some things well and others not at all.)

I've had what I need for the conference program and registration packed for awhile, my clothes are out that I'm planning to take, suitcase almost packed and I'll be ready to go bright and early tomorrow morning.

Not looking forward to the long drive to Las Vegas, but am looking forward to visiting with my sister, our first stop.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

California Crime Writers Conference

We traveled down to Pasadena on Saturday without incident, arriving at the hotel around 1 p.m. Hubby took a nap and I wandered around. Right off, I ran into Madeline Gorning, a new author friend who I will also see at the Public Safety Writers Conference. I was able to get my name tag and program book and ran into Naomi Hirahara, a wonderful writer and one of the coordinators of the event.

In the book room, I met a darling sixteen-year-old named Jade who had already bought Kindred Spirits. Yes, wonder of wonders, the book store had both that book and No Sanctuary.

I also ran into Gary Phillips and told him about buying and reading his latest book on Kindle.

There was a buffet that evening which hubby and I enjoyed. We sat with Madeline and Shelia Lowe--a forensic handwriting expert--who is going to be one of our speakers at the Public Safety Writers Association's conference this week.

Gayle Lynds, the thriller write, sat with us for awhile too. We reminisced about one of the first mystery cons held at a mountain retreat in the Soquel/Aptos area that we'd both gone too a couple of times--over 20 years ago.

My panel on e-publishing was the next morning at 9 a.m. Gary Phillips was the moderator--a very good one--and Marci Baum, an e-publisher and one of the acquisitions editors from Poisoned Pen Press was the other panelist. It was a lively panel and I think the audience learned a lot. My new young friend, Jade, was in the audience. The room was full.

We had a signing right afterward and I got to catch up with another old friend, Tom Griffith.

We left after the signing because we had to be home for an important church meeting by 4--and we just made it. I'm the church clerk and the one who takes minutes.

And once again we thank Mrs. Magellan for helping us find the freeway entrance.

I'm enjoying my Kindle, but it's much too easy to buy books. I have enough on there now to read for the next couple of months. And I know I'll be buying books at the PSWA conference.

Marilyn

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Traveling Once Again and Taking My Gadgets

Saturday we head off to Pasadena. We're going to the California Crime Writers Conference though I do not expect to go to much at the conference. I was asked to be on a panel about e-publishing on Sunday morning and could attend anything I wanted that day and pay for the day before. Since I'm going to the Public Safety Writers Conference the next week, I didn't feel the need or desire to spend that much time conferencing. Plus Sunday afternoon we have an important council meeting at church and being the church clerk I should get back for it.

I'm not even putting my books in the bookstore. What I will do is hand out postcards with ordering information about my books. I'll be showing off my Kindle too.

We'll use our Magellan to take us there stress free. Hubby listens to Mrs. Magellan as he calls the voice on the GPS device--never listens to my directions, so I appreciate having her tell us what to do and where to turn.

I'll be getting my email via my Blackberry and maybe reading some on my Kindle on the way down.

I suspect we'll see people we know roaming around the hotel and I'm hoping to meet with Sheila Lowe, the plan is to have dinner with her, a forensic handwriting expert, author, and one of the speakers at the Public Safety Writers Conference. I met her briefly at the Sisters in Crime Booth at the L.A. Times Book Festival but we didn't really get a chance to talk as we were kind of back-to-back, plus at one of those things you don't chat with other authors, you're too busy talking to potential book buyers.

I'm also hoping to run into my dear friend and former roommate for the Edgar Awards and a couple of other mystery related venues, Gay Kinman, one of the most well-educated women I know.

And if there's time, and wi-fi, I'll use my mini-laptop to do some blog posting.

What on earth did we do before they came up with all these electronic gadgets? Do they make our life easier or more complicated?

I hate learning how to use everything, but probably it's good for me to have to do it.

Figuring out what I'm going to wear is another problem. But that's a topic for another post.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Bedroom

For the last twenty years our bedroom has been upstairs. We loved it. The view from the bedroom windows is spectacular: the Sierra, the foothills, the river, a ever-changing sky. We've even sat out on the balcony and watched thunderstorms happening down in the valley.

But hubby and I are getting older, this year he'll be 79! Going up and downstairs has been hard on his knees and I must confess, at times mine too.

Earlier we had one of the downstairs bathrooms remodeled, a nightmare that finally turned into a dream. My office and two spare bedrooms are in that section of the house. We decided to make the two rooms into one--sort of--and have that for our bedroom.

Grandson Nick and friends came and did the remodel for that. They put in new floors, patched holes and painted. We bought stand-up closets for one of the rooms. Nick and friends hauled our bed downstairs--we got a new mattress too. They young men also took the bed that had been down here up.

It's all done now, with some new bed stands, lamps, curtains and TV. It looks great. My daughter-in-law said it reminded her of a beach cottage--probably because everything is blue. We haven't hung up any pictures yet, I have them, but as yet hubby hasn't brought down all his clothes so I'm not going to bug him until he's through. (I did, I could hardly wait to be all moved down.)

We lost the great view--oh, we can still see the mountains, but not the river.

Upstairs we didn't have air conditioning only fans and no heater--though I never missed either. Downstairs we're close to the heater and hubby is putting an air conditioner in.

The room is so comfortable I look forward to bedtime.

It was lots of work and I'm glad most of it's done.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My New Kindle

My new Kindle arrived and I was thrilled. I opened the package, read the directions, did what I was supposed to--and darn, the Whispernet which downloads the books doesn't work up here in where we live nestled between the mountains.

I should have guessed, the same thing happened with my wireless laptop. The only cell phones that work up here are with AT&T because we have and AT&T tower behind the post office in town.

Oh, I still use the laptop--take it with me when I go out of town so I can blog, write if I need to, and son on. Love it.

The Whispernet of the Kindle, of course, is associated with another wireless company.

So, last night, when I went to my Writing Critique group I took it with me. Everyone oohed and ahhed over my new gadget. I turned it on and viola, like magic, the books I'd purchased before I received the Kindle appeared like magic! Now I can read them up here in bed without being connected to Whispernet. Whenever I want to buy new books, I'll head to town for some errand or other and sit in a parking lot to download books.

I love it. It's light and a cinch to work with. Of course there are all sorts of features on it that I probably will never use--just like my Blackberry, I do email with it and use the phone once in awhile, and I do get on the Internet with it at times. Oh, it does work up here in the foothills because I have it with AT&T.

Now I can demonstrate it at my e-publishing panel Sunday morning in Pasadena at the California Crime Writers Conference and the following Sunday morning at my e-publishing workshop at the Public Safety Writers Association Conference.

Before you ask, most of my books are on Kindle already. I even bought two just to see how they looked on it.

Marilyn
http;//fictionforyou.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Active Dreamland

Whenever I'm getting ready to go somewhere--especially when I have to do something important, I have bad dreams about everything going wrong.

This has gone on since I was a kid. One dream I remember is going to school having forgotten to wear my underpants. This was a big thing back in those days, because girls had to wear dresses.

When I'm flying somewhere I have dreams about the alarm clock not going off and the frantic drive to get to the airport on time. We always have to be at the airport by 6 a.m.

I dream every night, several times a night. I always wake up before there is any satisfying conclusion to the dream.

This weekend we're driving to Pasadena for one night because the next morning I'm on a panel about e-publishing and I don't think we're necessarily going to be welcomed. I've already heard negative comments about reading books on the Kindle etc. Much different from what I hear from all my fellow members of Epic. (Authors published electronically and e-publishers make up the membership.) Haven't had any dreams about it yet, but I'm sure I will. The panel is at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning--so I'll probably dream about not getting ready in time. Or not being able to work my new Kindle which I'm taking with me.

The following week we leave for Las Vegas and the Public Safety Writers Association's conference. I'm really looking forward to that one because I have so many good friends attending, several I haven't seen for awhile. It'll be a reunion of sorts. Always enjoy going to Las Vegas because my sis lives there and we always spend a couple of nights with her too.

I'm in charge of the programming, so no doubt my dreams will consist of not being able to find the room (last year they kept moving us around), someone not showing up when they were supposed to (last year I kept having to rearrange the schedule thanks to one fellow not being able to make it the day he was speaking), losing my cell phone (I did, I'd misplaced it at home but didn't know that.)

Because I always worry about what clothes to take, I'll probably dream about a problem with clothes. Spilling, not fitting, all those kinds of things.

Wish I could turn off the dream mechanism, but wild dreams have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ten Writing Tips

Over the years I've learned a lot as a writer. That doesn't mean I'm an expert. I still make plenty of mistakes, but I've been around long enough to know that I do have some tips that I can share.

#1. If you want to write a book, don't talk about it, sit down and start writing. Outline if you want, make a story board, put your ideas on 3X5 cards, or just sit at your keyboard and begin. The method doesn't really matter, what matters is doing it.

#2. Plan your characters ahead of time. Make notes about them that so you won't forget things about them. They need to have a back story, but you don't need to put it all in the book. The reason you need to know is so you'll know how each character will react to the events that happen in the book.

#3. Pick appropriate names for your characters. A person's name should reflect them somewhat. If writing a historical piece, don't pick a name that wasn't in use at the time. Be careful not to have your characters' names begin with the same letter, sound too much alike, rhyme or all same the same number of syllables. (Collect names from graduation programs and the like, you can also find names on the Internet, Names for Babies, Ethnic names, etc.)

#4. Whose story is it? Decide who will be telling the story. Will it be in first person, close third? Learn about staying in POV. It's okay to have more than one Point-of-View, but stay in one per scene. It should be the person who has the most at stake in that particular scene. You never want to confuse the reader. The best way for me to do this is to climb right inside the POV character and see, hear, feel (touch and emotionally, smell etc. what she or he is.

#5. Begin when something exciting is going on. You want the reader to be intrigued from the first sentence.

#6. Have a good balance of dialogue, narrative and action.

#7. The dialogue should have a purpose--revealing character or moving the plot along. It also should sound natural, but leave out all the mundane things we say all the time like "Hello, how are you?" "I'm find, how are you?" People speak in fragments, men more than women. Listen to people around you, yes, go ahead and eavesdrop. You don't need other words besides he said or she said, but better yet, have the character do something to use as a dialogue tag--or take the opportunity to describe the speaking character a bit.

#8. Where are the characters having their conversation? Don't just have talking heads. Let the reader know where the characters are. Some authors are so great at describing setting such as James Lee Burke and William Kent Krueger that you feel you are right there along with the character. Setting is as important as the characters.

#9. Let us see the exciting things as they happen. Don't tell us about it afterward. This is the famous, "Show Don't Tell" rule.

#10. Write, write, write. Then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. But at some point stop and start sending out queries. Never let rejections get you down. When you finish one novel, begin another.

Good luck on this great adventure called writing.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Monday, June 8, 2009

Scary Driving Adventure

Wednesday evenings are when my critique group meets. I live in Springville, a foothill community which is called the gateway to the Sierra. (Sierra means mountains--many people mistakenly write or say Sierras.)

We've been having very weird weather for June in Central California. Thunderstorms, wind, lots of rain, cool temperatures. The lightning started lots of fires, especially in the mountains, wind blew down trees, broke off branches, and lots of other damage that I didn't know about.

To get to Porterville where the group meets, I have to drive 17 miles down the hill and past Lake Success. As I neared the lake signs warned of a single lane ahead. When I reached the lake, cars were being guided by the CHP past a place where three telephone poles had been blown down and rested against the bridge.

I expected the same to happen on the way back. Instead, when I reached the road up the hill it was blocked off with a Detour sign pointing to the right. There was nothing I could do but go that way. It was pitch black out and I was now on the Reservation Road. The name is apt since it winds round and round to the Tule River Reservation. I don't like driving that road, or the other one I'd have to take to get back to the highway, in the day time. It's two lane, the people who live on the rez drive really fast and resent slow pokes like me, and of course there are all the people anxious to get to the casino--or home again after losing all their money.

So I made a choice. When I reached the next place where you could go left to the reservation or right, to I didn't know where, I turned right. I drove up and down, round and round, some curves were marked 10 miles an hour so that tells you how sharp they were, past orange groves and ranches, and I had no idea where I'd end up. Mind you, I was heading in the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to go.

Finally, I was shocked to find I'd ended up at the entrance to the Porterville Developmental Center, another right turn and I ended up back on the highway, less than five miles from where the detour was. No point in going back that way.

I turned left and headed back to town, when I got to the first street I could turn right on I did. I knew that if I took this one and kept on it past the three four major streets that go through Porterville I'd eventually hit a road that goes over a big hill and ends up on another two-lane country road, but one that I could take all the way to where it dead ends on the highway I needed to be on and way above the lake and the problem.

Finally, I was in familiar territory and on my way home. This all took about 45 minutes, though it seemed more like two hours. Those really are the only ways to get to Springville, a fact I've used in several books where I've set the location in a place similar to where I live.

I wasn't scared, but I do know my limitations--driving at night on roads I'm not all the familiar with is not something I choose to do. And, even in the daylight, I do not enjoy driving on winding roads with drop-offs like I know the road to the rez is.

Anyway, that was my scary driving adventure.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Super Review for No Sanctuary

As seen on DorothyL:

What a fabulous book by F. M. Meredith (Marilyn). I enjoyed the
characters (esp. main one, Police Officer Stacey Wilbur), as well as
the intriguing story and the atmosphere of Rocky Bluff,
California. Officer Wilbur comes upon a one-car wreck when she's on
patrol and discovers the body of a local minister's wife in the
car. Further investigation reveals the woman did not die in the
wreck. She was shot. Without making either devout Christians or
non-believers squirm, Meredith takes us into the lives of two
pastors and their wives, two churches, one a mega-church with a
charismatic pastor, the other a now smaller church in the same
town. (This smaller church had the most attendees until charismatic
pastor came to town.) Lots of sanctimony to go around, and
believable situations, including a pastor's secretary so devoted and
protective of her "boss" that she's obnoxious to everyone else and
hence, becomes one of the suspects.

I enjoyed the "real life" feeling and the suspense, which kept me
wondering "who dun it" to near the end. I also enjoyed the wonderful
personality development, the emotions, and definitely the unfolding
story of Stacey and her police detective boyfriend. With varying
shifts and long hours of duty, will those two ever get together?

Marilyn Meredith creates marvelous characters and stories. Her Rocky
Bluff series is new to me (I bought NO SANCTUARY at Mayhem in the
Midlands) and I'm not sure but what I like it even better than the
Tempe Crabtree series...and again, maybe not. Whatever. I
certainly look forward to continuing in both series!

Radine Trees Nehring
http://www.RadinesBooks.com
Blog for readers and writers: http://radine.wordpress.com
The "To Die For" mystery series...touring the Ozarks, one crime at a time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blogging for Readers



Recently a discussion on Crimespace sparked a lot of attention. The question was Are All Readers Writers? The talk ranged from the idea that no one but us writers read to the economy and its effect on sales to how to make the jump from mid-list to bestseller or even from selling tiny amounts to mid-list. I, of course, had to jump in the middle to offer my two-cents.

But the discussion was extremely thought provoking in another sense. Because really this bunch of mystery writers were figuratively scratching their heads about promo. It seemed to them, literally, that the only people they sold books to were writers.

Maybe that's because that is the only people we're marketing to--at least on line. Think about it. Many of us blog but the subject of our blogs is generally--writing. And who reads that??? Writers. Many of us tweet on twitter--about our blogs naturally. And (having already established that the blog's subject is writing,) so we tend to find groups of other writers on Twitter to tweet to. And on-line, we hang out at places like Crimespace and Dorothy L where we tend to find...other writers.

It is all really understandable too. If you want to find a topic to write about, day after day, week after week, you want it to be something you know something about, right? So of course, many of us blog on the various aspects of writing. Occasionally someone will venture out of their comfort zone a bit and do interviews of other writers, because readers should be interested in that, right?

I'm thinking if we want to attract more readers, we have to direct our work at them. I don't have all the answers, but maybe we need to talk about what we're reading and spark a book club like discussion. And maybe we need to keep our incessant promo down--so that every other post is not another plug for our books. We need to participate. What do you think?

Christine Duncan
http://christineduncan.com/

Safe Beginnings, A fire, a murder, a battered woman's nightmare
Safe House, Life--and death--in a battered women's shelter. In print soon from TrebleHeartBooks.com

Friday, June 5, 2009

Be Careful With Your Emails!

I wrote something so insensitive and hurtful in an email, I can't believe it. I won't go into it, it's enough to just say I didn't think before I wrote and fired off actually too things about someone that went right to him because the original post cc'd him and others.

I'm humiliated, upset, and of course I've apologized--I hope he and all the other who read it will accept my apology--but won't be surprised if they don't. I certainly know better.

In light of what's been going on on one of the lists I'm on, you'd think I'd have sense enough not to write anything like that to anyone.

I could come up with all sorts of excuses, I'm old, I'm tired, trying to do too much both physically and mentally--but none of it excuses being insensitive and what really came off as cruel.

Hopefully, I've learned something from this. Never, ever put anything in an email that I don't want everyone to see. It's like sending out your thoughts over the airwaves.

I have a relative who loves to gossip--seems like every time she is talking about someone, that someone pops up and is close enough to overhear what's being said. Embarrassing for my relative and for me when I've been the one she was talking to.
This amounts to about the same thing.

Learn something from this and don't go through what I went through. I feel sick--and though I've apologized, I know the person still feels bad too.

Not a good day.

Marilyn

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Notes About Authors Turned Up!

Can't believe it, I finally found the notes from the Mayhem panel called, "The Me You Don't See." They were right there in front of me.

So here we go:

The panelists were Sharon Newman, Sean Doolittle, Donna Andrews and Dana Stabenow. Wm. Kent Krueger asked the questions.

What is your favorite food?

Donna Andrews: Diet Coke and French Fries.
Dana Stabenow: Philipino Food
Sharon Newman: Eggplant and spices.
Sean Doolittle: Burgers

Favorite Movies:

Kent said his was the Wizard of Oz.
Dana: Star Wars
Sharon: Lady Hawke
Donna: Bedazzled and Twelve Chairs

Signs:

Sharon: Mad Bull
Dana: Dragon
Donna: Saggitarious
Sean: Cancer (said that explained why he was crabby)

Childhood:

Dana: Raised by a single mother on a boat. Decided not to marry or be a mom.

Donna: Raised in a small town where everyone knew her family--similar to what is in her books.

Sean: Bucolic and bubbly childhood. Surrounded by farmland, alone a lot of the time.

Sharon: Eldest of four females. Brought her sister with her to the conference, but she didn't attend any of Sharon's panels.

First piece of fiction:

Sean: In third grade wrote, The Great Popcorn Caper.

Donna: In third grade wrote stories with a clam as the main character.

Dana: Raised on a 45 foot fish trawler, wrote stories about normal kids who lived on shore.

Sharon: Forged a letter to her teacher.

Wm. Kent Krueger confessed he was worried about people not recognizing him when he went to his 40th class reunion.

Dana: There were only five people in her graduating class.

Sharon: Wore a sword to school.

Sharon Newman: Serial dates, never married.

Donna: Patents took her career seriously.

Sean: Married his high school sweetheart.

Happiest Memory:

Donna: Reading in a hammock, playing imaginative things, pretending to be someone else.

Sharon: Had a lot of angst, but favorite memories all about reading books.

Embarrassing moments:

Sean: Slugged someone, wasn't who he thought it was.

Sharon: Mistook a monk for the Dali Lahma

Dana: Three years of pitching LCC, spoke before a group of 1000 people wearing her grungies.

A few highlights of a fun panel.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Just a Bit About My Family






The lovely bathing beauties are my daughter-in-law, great-granddaughter, and granddaughter. They were celebrating the great-granddaugther's sixth birthday and our youngest son's birthday (he's the grandpa).

They went to Universal Studios. It looks like they are having a wonderful time. Frankly, I'm glad I didn't have to go.

I love them all a lot. We're had our granddaughter around a lot, she lived with us during the school year from second grade through sixth and next door from then on. She's now going to college and engaged to be married.

Our great-granddaughter belongs to son's youngest son. We've been fortunate to have her around quite a bit too.

Love seeing the, hearing all that's going on, but quite happy to remain in the background at this point in our lives.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Old Movies and Fond Remembrances

Last night I was channel surfing and came across an old movie I'm sure I must've watched years ago when it was new, the main stars were Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson. The movie was When I Last Saw Paris.

When I was about twelve, I was in love with Van Johnson. I had his photographs all over the door of my closet.

I was an autograph collector too. My mom and I used to go watch the live radio broadcasts of the Lux Radio Theater which starred many movie actors. I was able to get autographs of many of my favorites.

Van Johnson was the star of one show. I raced around to the back of the theater once the broadcast was over as that's where I caught most of the stars to obtain their autographs. Unfortunately, Van Johnson was already in his car and driving away. That didn't stop me, I raced after him on foot, out of the parking lot, down the middle of the street, until he had to stop at a stoplight. I came up to the driver's window, stuck my autograph book and pen in front of him. "Please sign."

He looked at me in surprise and amazement. I'm sure he was completely shocked to see this nerdy pre-teen out in the middle of the street asking for an autograph.

He smiled and signed. I said thank you, and gazed after him when the signal changed and he drove away. I'm sure I got out of the street--but don't remember much after that. I certainly showed off his autograph to all my friends.

When he passed away this year, my eldest daughter who had heard this story many times, called to offer her condolences.

As I watched the movie, I wondered what made me so enamored of him all those many years ago. He was the boy-next-door type, although in this particular movie he wasn't a nice man. He was an alcoholic and unfaithful to his wife. He changed at the end, but not soon enough.

The acting wasn't very good--on any of the stars part--but I've noticed that with a lot of the old movies. I think it's overacting, something we don't see much of anymore.

Elizabeth Taylor was absolutely stunning. The first James Bond, very young, played a gigolo. And the set was laughable. It was supposed to be Paris, but the outside scenes were obviously sets in the studio.

Watching the movie brought back a lot of memories of my childhood years and my infatuation with movies and the stars.

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

Monday, June 1, 2009

Still Can't Find My Notes and Other Nonsense



This is a photo of me and my hubby and Radine Trees Nehring and hers, taken after the spouse's panel at Mayhem.

It's really frustrating that I still can't find my notes from Mayhem.

I've been very busy working on the ghost writing project that has consumed me during the time that I'm home. It is drawing to a close and I believe it is what the client was hoping for. It will be up to him to find a publisher.

We took our son and wife out to dinner for his birthday. We went to his favorite Thai place. We don't get to see him or her much because he's a truck driver and salesman for Bonnie Farms and works down in the southern part of the state. His wife works with him, though she takes breaks ever so often. Since coming home from Mayhem, that's the only fun thing we've done.

Hubby is busy finishing up on the bedroom remodeling while I've been writing.

Because I'm going to be giving two talks in the near future about e-publishing, I go ahead and buy a Kindle to use for demonstration--and to see what my books look like on it, and just to read on it.

While we were flying home from Mayhem and got stuck in the airport, I finished the book I was reading, bought another book and a magazine and read both of those. A Kindle would have certainly come in handy there. I did break out my mini-computer and use it a bit--most of the airports now have wi-fi making it handy.

I'm really not a gadget person--I hate to learn new things, but I wouldn't be without my Blackberry and I love my mini-computer when I'm on trips. I suspect I'll be raving about the Kindle next.

That's it for now.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com