Showing posts from June, 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 wel…

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 hav…

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 c…

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 fingerprin…

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.)

a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

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…

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.


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

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 ca…

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 mys…

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 …

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 so…

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 …

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…

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 cha…

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…

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 enjoye…

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…

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 though…

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


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


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 c…

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.


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…

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 K…