Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eves Past and Non-Resolutions

We've gotten to the stage in our lives that we don't do anything spectacular to celebrate New Year's Eve. In fact, I'm usually in bed and asleep long before the clock strikes twelve.

When hubby was still in the Seabees he was gone a lot of New Year's Eves. The big treat for the kids was root beer floats and watching scary movies. Sometimes I took care of all the neighbors' kids too and it was like a giant slumber party.

When he was home, we had New Year's Eve parties at our house. In fact, we used to have parties at our house all the time. When we lived in Oxnard we had a great party room with plenty of space for dancing.

One year we went to a formal party in the Bard Mansion on the U.S. Seabee Base in Port Hueneme. I don't remember a lot about it except for some of the people we went with and that the dinner was wonderful. The Bard Mansion is supposed to be haunted, but I didn't see any ghosts that night.

After we moved to Springville and had our licensed care facility, we always celebrated New Year's with the women we cared for by having special treats to eat and a great movie to watch--but no one ever made it to midnight.

This is also the time of year when people make New Year's Resolutions, but I'm going to pass. I quit smoking years ago. I'm not going to try to lose weight, after all, I'm a Great Grandmother, I'm supposed to be nice and soft for the great-grandkids to cuddle up with. I could resolve to be nicer, but I'd probably break that one right away.

I think I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing, loving my husband and family, writing my books, and as long as I'm able, traveling around to promote them.

Happy New Year's everyone, and I wish you all that you hope for.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grandaughter Begins a New Christmas Tradition

Granddaughter Genie planned a trip for Christmas for her family and kept it a secret until a few days before Christmas. She told her hubby (yes, she kept it a secret from him too) and two kids, Peyton and Garrett, that they were celebrating Christmas early and kids got to open some presents. One of the gifts told them where they were going to spend Christmas--Oahu, Hawaii!

In fact, they were leaving the very next day! I don't know everything they did yet, only bits and pieces as she's posted on Facebook.

I know they stayed at a resort that catered to the kids. It rained a lot but didn't stop them from doing all that they planned, including a maze through a pineapple plantation. They snorkled and played in the surf.

One day, the four of them climbed to the top of Diamond Head to see the view. (top pic.)

Peyton decorated a hat which she's wearing in picture #2.

The final picture is of 15 foot waves at the North Shore.

I'm anxious to hear more about their adventure.

Next year it will be hubby's turn to come up with a Christmas trip that has to be a surprise. How the kids are going to pull it off when it's their turn, I'm not sure--but I have a sneaking hunch their grandma (my eldest daughter) will have a hand in helping.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mundania's Big Sale

From 12/25/2010 through 01/02/2011, readers can take 20% off all Mundania Press, LLC ebook and print titles purchased directly from the Mundania Press website. At checkout, use discount code: SANTA. All my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries are available at Mundania.
The latest is Invisible Path and the one right before that Dispel the Mist.

And all you new Kindle owners and other e-readers, most of my books are available in all different formats—including the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, under the name F. M. Meredith. And others of my books under the name everyone knows me by, Marilyn Meredith. Look for No Sanctuary and An Axe to Grind, plus there's Lingering Spirit too, and others that might interest you.

Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Dead of Winter by my guest, Kate George

The Dead of Winter

Here I am in the dead of winter thinking about the dead of winter. Writers’ brains do that kind of thing, probably other people’s brains too, but I can only speak for myself. Words are a writer’s life. Playing with words comes naturally and what starts as a simple title can morph into something more, given the slightest bit of encouragement.

I was going to talk about winter here in Vermont. How the snow is barely covering the ground at the lower levels of central Vermont so that stalks of wildflowers and harvested crops are still sticking up making the landscape look barren and more than a little creepy in places. Gloomy. Like a setting for a horror flick.

I hear that there is more snow north of here. So they probably have the pristine white and sparkly landscape, the kind that we enjoy at the beginning of winter, when the snow is new and beautiful.  It’s what we expect this time of year. Snow, and snowmen, snow balls, snow tunnels, snow forts. Even snow sculpture on occasion. A transformation of landscape.

But instead of visions of Vermont farms and hills my brain is filled with questions. Who are the dead of winter? This is only partly rhetorical. The “dead of winter” refers to the lack of life during the winter months. Nothing grows. It’s dark and frozen. But some other part of me is intrigued by the dead of winter.

Jacob Marley from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol seems like he qualifies as one of the winter dead, but are there others? The wood nymphs that can’t inhabit frozen trees, perhaps. The spirits of the river frozen out of their home? Are human dead frozen out of their graves? Now I’m getting even to morbid for me. I’m not really talking about human dead here, but something more.

During a winter storm faces sometimes appear in the snow, when it falls thick and fast shadows form and reform as it swirls, creating the illusion of someone standing just out of sight. A benevolent phantom watching to make sure we don’t lose our way. Or maybe a not so benevolent phantom hoping to make us lose our way. There are voices in the wind as well. The icy wind that pushes around the house, roaring through the trees and rattling down the chimneys. A chimera whispering to us as we huddle around our fires. Okay, so maybe it’s our televisions and computers we’re huddled around these days, and we’re distracted and much less likely to notice the spirits around us.

Late in the game I’m realizing that what I’m writing about are not the dead of winter. The wind and the snow, the river and the trees are very much alive. So what would the true dead of winter be? I don’t really know, and it’s likely I don’t want to. Maybe Jacob Marley gets to be the only true dead of winter. What do you think?

Kate's Bio:

Ms. George began writing novels in her twenties when she wrote a truly horrible novella about a marine biologist. She eventually earned her Bachelors degree in Anthropology from UC Davis but there aren't a lot of jobs for a budding anthropologist so she tried a number of different careers. Think police dog trainer and answering service operator and then let your imagination go wild. You couldn't possibly be far from the truth. Originally from California, Ms. George is currently living in Central Vermont with her husband, four children, three dogs, and two cats. She once had 28 chickens, none of which seemed especially keen to lay eggs. Unfortunately, Hermione and Speckles were eaten by coyotes. The rest of the chickens were given to good homes to avoid any further emotional distress. Ms. George currently has two novels; Moonlighting in Vermont which is available from Mainly Murder Press, Amazon and wherever books are sold. Moonlighting’s sequel, California Schemin’ will be available March first, 2011.

To purchase Kate's books:


What a fascinating bio and thank you so much for being my guest today, Kate. I do hope you'll come back again when the next book is available.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Some Photos from Christmas Eve

Great-granddaughter Kay'Lee in her Christmas finery. She served as Santa's helper and handed out the gifts.

Son Matt and his wife Elaina. No smiles, that's what I get for shooting photos when no one knows I'm going to do it. Note bottle of Ranch Dressing, son puts it on everything, no matter what.

Granddaughter Jessica, who has already eaten, Grandson Nick's girlfriend Crystal, they got there a bit late.

We did have a great time, others there were my hubby, of course, Nick, my other grandson, Nathan, and grandson, Chris, who lives with us.

Christmas Eve is when we always open our presents. We never have the same menu. Over the years we've had a full blown Christmas dinner--too much clean-up afterwards and people are too anxious to open gifts; pizza; Chinese food. This time is was a Honey-baked ham, buttered red potatoes, sour cream and chives, cheesed brocolli, and green bean casserole. We also had a very interesting cake made with Pillsbury biscuits, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Who knows what we'll have next year.

Counting down to New Year's Eve.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After Christmas

We survived. We fed tons of people at church but this year it turned out to be mostly our church family. We expected so many more--so guess what? Today after church we'll be eating leftovers at the church.

Yesterday, I was up at 3:30 putting the turkey in the oven. And yes, I went back to bed. When I got up, I started in on everything else. I made big batches of dressing, green bean casserole, and candied yams. Because hubby had an eye doc's appointment, son and daughter-in-law helped me haul everyhting to the church. I'd sliced the turkey and put it in a big roaster. Other folks brought turkeys too, so we had plenty to eat.

What we didn't have was many off the streets despite hanging posters all over. When I finally gave up and came home, I know that we'd put together about 10 to-go dinners that were delivered to our folks living at the low-income place in town. (Seniors and disabled folks.)

I understand that today, after church, we're going to eat leftovers. Sounds good to me.

So, it's time I got things together to teach my kids at Sunday School.

Hope you all had a great Christmas.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas One and All!

Today I'll be up really early to get a 20 lb. turkey in the oven. I'm also making a large trays of dressing, candied yams, and green bean casserole to take to the church. Everything has to be over there by 11 a.m. So you can see I'll be hustling.

Our church has invited anyone in the community who has no place to go for Christmas dinner to come to our church between at 12 and until we run out of food. We did this last year too and it was great fun.

So that's what I'll be up to and I don't think I'll be messing around with blogs, Facebook or anything else.

I hope all or you have a wonderful day and have family and friends to enjoy it with.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve

Our plans for tonight are a wonderful ham dinner with new potatoes, brocolli and cheese. We'll have Christmas cookies and a homemade Christmas cake (new recipe.) This is when we get our Christmas gifts.

Leading up to tonight has been a bit more difficult than usual since hubby had eye surgery (cataract) and we've spent hours waiting in the doc's office several times and of course in the surgery center too. And believe it or not, he has to go back to the doc's on Christmas morning! My son-in-law is going to take him down and back because I'll be busy cooking food for the free Christmas dinner we're having for whoever has no place else to go on Christmas Day.

Back to Christmas Eve--we're expecting son, his wife, granddaughter and her fiance, and three grandson's. Should be fun.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Tourist, Movie Review

I loved this movie on many levels.

First, it was very much like the old Alfred Hitchock movies in that you never were quite sure what was happening--and it had a great surprise ending.

Johnny Depp was his usual wonderful self. He's one of the best actors around. He really gets into his characters, he's not just Johnny Depp, he's someone new in each movie.

Angelina Jolie is not one of my favorite actresses, but she did a good job in this one. Her wardrobe added to the '40s effect--but no matter what she wears, she's still gorgeious.

The movie reminded me a lot of a '40s movie with better acting and special effects.

There was NO bad language, none. It shows that a movie can be plenty exciting, this one was definitely a thriller with lots of action without all the language.

The scenery was gorgeous, it's all set in Venice. Absolutely no car chases, instead there were plenty of boat chases.

The Tourist is not getting the praise it deserves. I recommend it highly and if you get a chance do see it.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Life Getting in the Way of the Holidays

I know this isn't the least bit Christmassey, but I wanted to show a picture of me and my hubby and I like this one.

We've spent two days now waiting in the eye doc's office and finally today, I waited alone while hubby had his cataract removed. This has all been hard on hubby because he love to drive and I've had to do the driving at night because he can't see good at night, and then going to the surgery and coming home. The fact that it's been raining non-stop and the roads are a mess, didn't help. But though I drive myself many places in the dark and the rain, he's always the driver when it's both of us--but for awhile he'll have to depend upon me.

What he seemed to be most interested in after the surgery was going someplace to eat. So after we picked up a medication he needs, we headed to a little cafe that has great breakfasts. Both of us were hungry because I didn't eat either. It doesn't seem fair to eat when the other half can't.

We have to go back to the doc's in the a.m. to have his eyes checked and learn what has to be done next. So poor hubby will have to suffer with me being the driver once again.

In the meantime, things I should be doing for Christmas just aren't getting done, neither are my regular chores.

Oh well, that's the way it has to be.

In any case, I hope your holiday preparations are going better than mine, but I'm thankful that so far all has gone well with hubby's eye surgery.

Merry Christmas,


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Completed Another Christmas Tradition

One thing I've learned through the years is that traditions are never really quite the same.

Yesterday started out with everyone in our writer's group agreeing to meet at a restaurant in Porterville (17 miles from Springville where we live) for our annual dinner get-together. Before the day was over we learned that our leader had a health problem she was dealing with and wouldn't make it for the dinner but invited us all over for tea and cookies afterwards.

Via e-mail we agreed we should still meet at the restaurant. It had still been raining and there was lots of flooding everywhere so our son decided we should not drive ourselves. Hubby can no longer drive at night and I really wasn't looking forward to driving through flooded streets, so we agreed to let him take us.
It was pretty bad in places. Two roads that lead to bridges going over the river were closed (not ones we had to take) and there was a lot of standing water on our way to our destination.

He dropped us off at the restaurant and old us to call when we were ready to go. Everyone showed up including one of our members from Springville who I often ride with to the writers' group. His wife came from work in another car. He offered to drive us and we took him up on the offer.

A call to son and I think he was happy not to have to hang around town (actually he and his wife were doing errands) and we rode in our friend's big truck. Standing water, no problem.

After a great dinner and being entertained by a hilarious waiter, we all went to our critique group leader's home where we enjoyed yummy cookies and drink and of course lots of conversation.

So the tradition wasn't exactly as before, but we all got together and enjoyed one another's company and that certainly is a big part of what Christmas traditions are all about.

Merry Christmas


Monday, December 20, 2010

The River is Rising

It just keep raining and raining. This is how the river looked yesterday afternoon.

Usually the Tule River is not much of a river as compared to rivers in other places. It comes down from the mountains, fed by snow runoff mostly, and it runs behind our house. We're up above it, but there are many, many homes that are built on low ground.

So far I've heard that the two bridges crossing the Tule going to Globe Drive have been closed off to traffic.

The hill leading up to the Eagle Feather gas station is slowly dropping down onto 190.

We haven't driven anywhere except to take these pictures, so I don't really know anything about flooding condtions first hand. I did hear that 198 in Visalia was closed in place due to big-time flooding.

We've been through other flooding times here in Springville, some have been disastrous for people in the low-lying areas.

I've even written about flooding in my books including one called Guilt by Association where the deputy I was writing about at the time while trying to warn people about the flooding is trapped on the wrong side of the river and takes refuge in a home with a lot of other people who have nowhere else to go. I have copies of it still and it can be purchased from

I'll keep you posted how we're faring here in the foothills.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Do Doctor's Think We Have Nothing to Do But Wait?

This is another rant. Hubby had an appointment with his eye specialist to view a movie at 4:30 p.m. about his upcoming cataract surgery. Right after we ate breakfast, his regular doctor's office called to say the eye doc wanted hubby to come in for a pre-op exam and she suggested a time around the first appointment. When I told what we had to do, she made it for 1.20 p.m. Then we had a call for the eye doc asking us to come in earlier than the appointment. We didn't eat lunch just hurried to town figuring we'd do one then the other and go eat.

We really didn't have to wait long for the pre-op exam, altogether we were about 45 minutes. We picked up a prescription and headed to the eye doc's, only a block away. Hubby was taken right in to see the movie. While I waited in the lobby with my Kindle, many more people came in and came out. I began to think perhaps hubby had fallen asleep and no one realized. Finally he came out and I thought, "Hooray, we can go eat."

No such luck. Now we had to wait for the doc to give some instructions. We waited and waited, More people came in and came out. Twice I had hubby get up and ask when he'd get to see the doc. Finally at 15 of 5 we were called in. Yes, the instructions were important, but seems like we could've been squeezed in somewhere. He has prescriptions to pick up and of course the pharmacy we use (in the same building as our primary physician) was closed.

Starving, we headed to our favorite Thai restaurant.

My point though is why on earth did we have to wait so long, because we're old? There was another doctor who came in who had to wait a long, long time too for his appointment, so I thought well at least he'll see what it's like to have to wait.

I might not be as important as the doctor but I have lots to do and had thought I'd get home in time to do some of them.

At least it feels good to gripe about it.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

I couldn't write that it looked a lot like Christmas unless you think fog is the kind of weather you should have on Christmas. There's plenty of snow on the mountains surrounding our valley but with a cloud or fog touching the ground, that snow isn't visible. Of course many people have decorated the outsides of their houses which can usually be seen through the fog.

I've decorated inside as much as I plan to do. We no longer put up a big tree because our cats thought it was a play toy for them to climb up and down and knock off all the ornaments. Instead, we have three smaller ones here and there and three manger scenes on the mantel. A collection of stuffed moose, a snowman on skis and
several Teddy bears are scattered around the hearth.

Christmas Eve a few relatives will be over to eat and unwrap gifts.

I'll be up early Christmas morning to put a 20 lb. turkey in the oven, make a large batch of dressing, candied yams, and green bean casserole. At noon we'll cart everything over to the church. This will be our 2nd annual free Christmas dinner for anyone who has no place else to go. We even deliver dinners to those who can't get out and pick up those who want to come who don't have transportation.

My job last year was to help dish up food. Many of my family come to help: husband, son and daughter-in-law, granddaughter and her fiance. You have no idea how fulfilling this is and I'm truly looking forward to it.

Merry Christmas everyone.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Things I Can Do Now I Couldn't Do When I Was Younger

After complaining about getting old in yesterday's blog, I figured today I'd talk about what I've learned over the years.

In my twenties and thirties I was introverted. Most people who know me now find that hard to believe.

Oh, I could always figure out ways to do things I wanted to do, but when I was elected PTA president for my kids' grammar school the first time, I truly wondered how on earth I could get up in front of all those people and run the meeting. (Back in those days lots of people attended PTA meetings.) I struggled through that presidency and another, then was elected to the PTA for the Junior High, I was even more afraid because a lot more people attended those meetings. The wonderful woman I took over from told me, "No one wants to be up there doing what you will be doing. Remember that." I did and it worked.

Since that time I've spoken in front of all sorts of groups without fear. What I learned was that as long as I really knew what I was talking about everything would go fine.

Another fear that I got over was driving. My husband was gone a lot when the kids were growing up so I had to drive everywhere. I was scared to drive to L.A. where my folks lived, but the only way to get there was for me to take the wheel. I started out driving there by leaving at 3 a.m. in the morning when there wasn't as much traffic. My confidence built in my driving ability and soon I was going all over the place.

Kids grown and living in a new place, it wasn't long before I was taking long driving trips and I knew I could drive as well as the next guy and better than a lot of them.

Over the years I've tackled all sorts of big jobs and succeeded. The more I did, the more capable and confident I became.

I suspect what this all boils down to is my advice to others is don't think you can't do something until you try, you will probably be surprised.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Know When You're Getting Old When---

Oh, boy, I did it again. I sent an email out to the wrong place. You have no idea how upset it made me when I realized what I'd done. Even worse, I didn't realize it until it also came to me. Of course a young person might do the same thing, but probably not with something as important as this was. It made me come to a decision, I'm doing far too many things for a woman of my age and I plan to do something about it.

Of course I've had plenty of other big hints about getting older--all I have to do is look in the mirror and see all the wrinkles. I dye my hair but know I'm not fooling anyone, but it does make me feel better.

How about going into a room and not remembering why you came there? The only way to get the memory back is to leave the room, then it's "Oh, yeah, I was going after..." And it's possible, you might forget the second time around.

I have tricks I use to make sure I've taken the pills I need to take otherwise I truly wouldn't remember if I took them or not.

Whenever I'm going somewhere I make lists to remind me of what I need to take--and I make lists about what I plan to do each day. Sometimes I even post these lists on Facebook. Though it makes people think I'm a dynamo, I'm just writing what I plan to do so I'll do it. After all, if you tell the whole world then you're obligated, right?

I'm still putting on the right amount of clothes and in the right order, so that's a good sign. I don't get lost when I'm driving around--of course Mrs. Magellan helps with that.

Having taken care of people with Alzheimer's I do know all the signs, so far most of my failings are I can chalk up to old-age.

When you've been around as long as I have and been through as much, I guess one has to expect some slow down and making mistakes.

I've been blessed with a great husband and best friend, a wonderful family, lots of great memories, abilities that I've been able to use all my life, so I'm going to quit griping and just go on enjoying each day as it comes.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Edge of Whiteness by Joe Montaperto

THE EDGE OF WHITENESS, although sort of a quirky coming of age story, is also a humorous and edgy social commentary on one community’s reaction to the inexorable march of change which defined a unique time period - the funky early 1970’s.

1969 Brooklyn smolders in the volatile aftermath of the recent race riots. The family of young Joey Montaperto flees their beloved Italian neighborhood for a New Jersey suburb so painfully white that it makes the TV show “My Three Sons” seem exotic. Ironically, when the high school there is then later forcefully integrated, the sensitive Joey in confronted with an even more brutal racial conflict. Unexpectedly rescued from a hallway ambush by a murderous yet artistic loner, though, he is subsequently introduced to a fascinating new world of black culture. Finding his soul and “soul” in the writings of Malcolm X, a doomed first love with a sizzling but heroin plagued Puerto Rican hairdresser, and ultimately, a spiritual journey into the study of Islam – it all causes a major conflict within his Catholic family, and the Mafia restaurant where he is employed as a dishwasher.

 Joe Montaperto's Bio:

Joe Montaperto, a proud native of Brooklyn, studied and performed drama and improv before embarking on the New York City comedy circuit in the edgy, crack riddled era of the 1980’s. He later applied his training to perform his one man shows in theaters in and around the city before becoming burned out and heading to the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle for some serious soul searching. An avid traveler and spiritual seeker, Joe also prides himself on having lived in some of the worst places in the world, and still still thoroughly enjoys making prank phone calls.

 Marilyn: Wow, what a biography. I asked Joe to tell me why he wrote his book and this is what he told me.

 Joe: I wrote it because I think it was a story that needed to be told, not from an academic or political viewpoint, but from a kid who actually lived the experience. the 1960's are written about ad infintum, but it was the early years of the 1970's when alot of those ideals and experiments were actually put to the test. I believe it was quite a fascinating and unique time period in our country's history that h been kind of glossed over in my opinion. I learned a lot of things, met a lot of interesting people and those years ultimately shaped my life and world view. Although not politically correct, I try to present the story honestly humorously and directly, as I experienced it.

Joe Montaperto
Marilyn: This sounds like a tale well-worth reading. Thank you, Joe for visiting my blog today.

To learn more about Joe and his book, visit his website at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time to Start a New Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery

I just received a contract for the Tempe mystery that will appear in the fall of 2011, and I'm working on the edits for the next Rocky Bluff P.D. novel which I don't have a title for yet. Now it's time to start gathering ideas and doing a bit of brainstorming about the plot for the next Deputy Crabtree tale.

One thing I know is that I'd like Nick Two John to play a bigger part in this tale. Another thing I know is that there won't be a murder on the reservation this time around. My murder victim will be someone who lives in Bear Creek and perhaps more than one. I do have to be careful though, I don't want Bear Creek to become another Cabot Cove of Jessica Fletcher fame.

I need some interesting and colorful characters who people will enjoy reading about whether they end up being murder victims or suspects.

In the next few days I'll start jotting down ideas, playing around with scenarios and see what I can come up with.

Anyone with some good ideas, feel free to share them. If I use one I'll acknowledge you in the front of the book. Is that incentive enough? You can leave a comment or send me an email.

I'll be looking forward to hearing from you.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Porterville Art Gallery Boutique

After spending two whole days at the Art Gallery from 9 to 5, I must tell you, that though it was slow at times, we had two fun days--and sold a lot of books.

As usual, the best customers were the other vendors. Many of them have bought previous books in the series and wanted the next one. There were other people who read about me being there in the paper and came just to buy the latest book.

One nice thing was when anyone asked where they could buy my books at other times, we told them about the new used bookstore in town, Books Off Main, which is located right around the corner from the Art Gallery. Most of the people had no idea it was there. On my way home, I stopped in and the owner told me she had three new customers we sent over.

There was a man there, a potter, who played guitar and clarinet, who serenaded us with Christmas songs and also told some funny stories.

Hubby bought me a gorgeous cross from one of the jewelry makers for Christmas.

I enjoy being around all the artists and we had some great conversations.

Definitely a pleasant way to spend a couple of days.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Invisible Path, First Chapter

This in the beginning of the latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and this chapter introduces one of the major characters, giving some insight to his background and an explanation of why he's where he is today.

Chapter 1

            “Jesus, I need to talk to you.”
            My grandma was the only one who could get away with pronouncing my name like Jesus in the Bible. My friends say it like “Hay-soos.” Grandma didn’t like it when she heard someone say my name like that. She usually corrected whoever it was by saying, “My grandson is not Mexican, he is Indian. His name is Jesus Running Bear.”
             I don’t know what inspired my mother to give me such a name, and she wasn’t around to ask.
            Grandma fixed her small dark eyes on me. When she smiled her eyes became crescent moons. She wasn’t smiling now. Whatever it was she wanted to say, it had to be important.
            I put down the bowl I’d gotten out of the cupboard. Breakfast would have to wait.           “You’ve been thinking about something a lot. Something that’s going to give you problems.” Grandmother’s face was round, weathered, and brown as a nut. Her gray hair was pulled straight back and arranged in a bun. Wiry strands escaped and poked out around her ears and the nape of her neck. She wore a man’s red plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, over a pair of faded blue jeans. Beneath the baggy clothes, she was slim and muscled. Her toes peeked out from a pair of worn leather sandals.
            I loved my grandma; after all she was the one who raised me after my mother left me alone while she went on a three day drunk. My uncle found me and brought me to grandmother’s house where I’ve been ever since. No, I don’t miss my mother because I don’t even remember her. I only know what I’ve been told about her—not much of it good.
            I wasn’t sure what kind of problem Grandma meant. Sure, I’d been going down to the beer joints with my cousin and friends even though I knew she didn’t want me drinking. Maybe that’s what this was about. I respected my grandmother, but I hadn’t obeyed her warning about never touching alcohol. She hated alcohol. Grandfather had died from drinking too much. Maybe my mother was dead too. No one had heard from her in years.
            “Come. Sit down.” She motioned to the chair where I usually sat. In front of her was a cup of tea. “We’re going to find out exactly what is going on with you.”
            I sat on the edge of the seat. She was going to do some weird Indian stuff. We were Miwok—though we didn’t live on or near a reservation. We lived in a small town in the foothills above Modesto which is in the Central Valley of California. Frankly, I didn’t know much about my heritage except what my grandma told me.
            She was an amazing woman, and could do so many things. I was proud of most of what she did. She knew how to gather herbs that could cure most sicknesses. She wove beautiful baskets that she sold at Pow Wows and to tourists in gift shops in Yosemite and other places.
            When I was a kid, she took me on camping trips into the back country. She could out hike me even today. But I wasn’t crazy about all the Indian stuff she did that I didn’t understand.
            Grandma stared into the cup and began speaking in her native language. That’s what she always did when she was concentrating on something.
            She lifted her head and fixed her eyes on me again. “You’re looking for a girlfriend. That’s it, isn’t it?”
            Well, sure. What young guy isn’t trying to find a girl? But for once I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut.
            Again, she peered into the cup. “I see all kinds of women. Be careful not to choose the wrong one. If you do, you’ll be miserable.”
            She stared and her eyes looked funny, like she was seeing something far, far away.
            I squirmed, wondering where this was leading. Maybe she already had someone picked out for me.
            “I see a pretty girl with a nice figure. She has long straight hair, clear down to her waist. She’ll wiggle her plump bottom and you won’t be able to think. Women have power–especially young pretty ones. Don’t you so much as give her more than a passing glance. If you do, you’ll be miserable your whole life.” Grandma didn’t look up.
            In my mind I could see the pretty girl walking down the street, her shiny black hair swinging back and forth like her hips.
            After a few minutes my day dream ended when Grandma said, “There’s another one. Short and skinny like I was when I was young. But beware, she’s nothing like me. This one is sneaky. She’ll act like she cares for you when she has lots of other men.”
            Interesting. This was more fun than I’d expected.
            “I see another one, curly headed and laughing. She’ll welcome you to her bed.”
            This was sounding better and better, and I risked a smile.
            “Take my warning, grandson. Don’t marry her. She knows nothing about being a wife or taking care of children. She only knows how to have fun. She only wants to party, party, party. She’s not for you.”
            I was beginning to wonder if there was anyone Grandma would see in that teacup who was good enough for me.
            “Ah, there’s the one you must look for. She’s a sweet girl, with dark brown wavy hair and a dimple in one cheek. She knows and respects the old ways.”
            “Where is she? Does she live around here?” I was ready to introduce myself to this wonderful woman.
            “No, she lives far away. It may take a long, long while before you meet her.”
            That wasn’t such good news. “How will I find her?”
            “The path lies straight ahead. Sometimes it will be invisible, but it’s always there.”
Grandma’s discussion about my future seemed to be over.
            She picked up the cup and dumped the dregs in the sink. Wiping her hands on a tea towel that had been draped through the handle of the old refrigerator, she asked, “Are you ready to eat?”
* * *
            I almost forgot about Grandma’s predictions, because I started drinking more and more with my buddies. I became an embarrassment to her and my other relatives, and I didn’t care.

Invisible Path is available on Kindle and other e-book sources including the publisher's website at and also as a trade paperback also from the publisher and the usual places.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Porterville Art Museum Boutique

Today and tomorrow I have a table with my books at the Porterville Art Gallery's Christmas Boutique. I'll be here from 9 to 5 both days. If you are in the are do stop by. The Gallery is on Main St., on the east side close to Oak St.

This is the third year I've joined the artists and crafts people who are selling the most delightful gift items. Sometimes the traffic is great and at others not so. One day it poured down rain all day and barely a soul was out on the street. Last year it rained too, but we had lots of customers.

I'm looking forward to it. There are cookies and hot drinks to enjoy and lots of fun conversation with interesting folks.

This is one of the many in-person things I do throughout the year to sell books. I'm grateful to the members of the Porterville Art Gallery for asking me to join them.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Coming Soon, the Next Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime Novel

Angel Lost is the title of  the next in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. As yet, there is no cover and the release date should be sometime in March.

I had a great time writing this book. Though I do write each book in both series as stand-alones, the characters continue. Anyone who has read previous books in the RBPD series knows that there has been an ongoing romance between Detective Doug Milligan and Officer Stacey Wilbur. In Angel Lost the wedding draws nigh.

There's something quite unusual about this book and I'm anxious to see how many readers point it out.

If someone asks me where one of the ideas came from for this book, it was something that happened right in the closest city, unusual and ongoing. When I drove by it one night, I knew I had to put it in a book.

So, I suspect that's enough to say about Angel Lost at this point. You can read the earlier books on Kindle but be sure to put in the name F.M. Meredith. If you prefer paper--check out my website or the other book buying spots on the Net.

Marilyn Meredith

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Figuring Out Why Things Happen

Before you get started and think I'm going to give you the answer, let me warn you, I have no idea.

Why do some people die long before their time? Or why do some of the worst live many years longer than the rest?

I don't know.

Sunday, one of the young men who goes to our church and we've know since his days at Springville School died in a motorcycle crash. It was a horrible, probably avoidable accident, since he was going way too fast--but what young men don't drive too fast? He was a good kid, newly married and his wife is expecting their child.

Besides the family of  the young man, many of his friends congregated at the scene of the accident. Fortunately, the police kept them away from the body. His grandmother just died the week before, and he lost his mother only a couple of years ago.  His bride is having a problem realizing it's really true.

My granddaughter was his friend all through school and his sister her best friend. She was devastated by the news.

Losing someone you love no matter what their age is always difficult. What do you do?

In my case, I lean on the Lord. I feel sorry for someone who doesn't have that sort of relationship with God because it helps so much. Life continues for those who are left behind. If you can rely on God's love and grace it truly does make grief easier.

Tomorrow, I promise, I'll talk about something a bit more joyful. After all, this is the holiday season.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grrr! I am so Frustrated!

I've go the new e-mail program, Microsoft Outlook, and it's driving me nuts.

What I can't figure out is how to just find an email address in the address book. When I write one in it always says it's not there.

I do a monthly newsletter and have lots of people subscribed, but when I get a can't deliver the mail from somewhere unless I have the person's name, I can't find the email address to delete it. Sometimes, even when people ask me to delete the address I can't find it.

This was so easy in the old Outlook Express.

Anyone have any answers to my dilemma?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day

I was a kid, but I do remember the broadcast that Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

Life changed a lot soon after that broadcast. We lived in Los Angeles with the very real possibility we might be attacked. (In fact, shells were fired along the coast.) We had to put blackout curtains over our windows and during an air raid or what they thought might be one, the only place we could have any lights on was an inner room. We had one, a hallway that opened to the front room, bath and 2 bedrooms. Mom kept games in there and a camping light and also a stash of food including yummy snacks. We spent many an hour in there playing board games.

Food and gas were rationed and we had to use stamps to buy both. Dad rode his bicycle to work so we could save gas stamps for our vacations. Sugar and chocolate were in short supply so stamps were saved for special treats and birthday cakes.

At school we had air raid drills which meant we all went to the first floor hallway (in a two story brick building--how safe was that?) and sat on mats which we all brought from home. A few times they weren't drills so while we were down there, we were entertained by some of the talented of our school chums.

Mother grew a Victory garden and tried to raise chickens. (She wasn't successful at the latter.) Our grammar school also had a huge garden and all of us kids worked in it. Don't remember if we ever got to take home any of the food.

Every neighborhood had a Block Warden and there were meetings where everyone who lived there attended. The grownups learned first-aid and other important things while all of us kids ran around and played hide-n-seek and had a great time.

We had interesting meals and ate lots of beans with no meat. Mom was the champion at making casseroles and using left-overs.

Sunday dinner was our big meat eating day--often chicken or roast beef.

We went to the movies every Friday night and watched frightening news reels about the War. I really thought we'd be invaded by Japan and figured I'd make a pretty good spy since who would suspect a young girl. A friend of mine and I also concocted poisons to be  used to kill the enemy--a mix of various insecticides we found in her basement. We also dug some tunnels in a vacant lot for our hideout.

I was in Junior High and at our graduating classes trip to the Griffith Park Zoo when it was announced the war was over.

That was an exciting and scary time of my life.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Life Getting in the Way of Writing

I've written about this before, but it seems like a good time to write about it again.

It's holiday time, I have presents to wrap, meals to plan. I'm the chief cook around here (because I like to cook) and that means grocery shopping and coming up with ideas for what to fix.

My granddaughter--the one who lived with me off and on during her growing up years--is getting married. There is lots of excitement and planning in the air about that--though all I'll be doing is attending the wedding. Since she and her mom and dad live in a house on our property, I get to hear a lot about what's going on.

Hubby will be having cataract surgery some time soon. That's going to be something I'll have to deal with too--I've had two cataract surgeries and I know he won't be up to doing a whole lot for a few days.

At the end of the week I have an event, on Friday December 10 and Saturday December 11 I'll be spending all day at the Porterville Art Gallery on Main St. It's the Art Gallery's annual Christmas boutique and I'll have a table near the back with all my latest books.

Son, Matthew, who is a great help, is off trying to get a job in L.A. which means he won't be around much. His wife is always helpful, but with the wedding plans I doubt she'll have much time for me. No, I'm not complaining, just trying to point out how things come up that you don't expect and change what you thought you'd be able to do.

I'm putting the finishing touches on a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel and mulling over ideas for my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. That's what I'd really like to be doing, but I think most of that will have to be put on hold while I tend of life.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas After Marriage

After I was married and had children, as often as possible we tried to get down to Los Angeles and spend the holiday with my parents.

Because hubby was a sailor there wasn't a lot of money for Christmas. I usually made a lot of gifts and charged some too. One year I ordered everything out of a catalog--and I learned my credit wasn't approved too late to do anything about it. My mom gave me $25 and believe it or not, I managed to buy some fine gifts for everyone. (I think I only had three kids at the time.)

After that I started buying gifts all through the year.

The year I was pregnant with my third child due on Christmas day, everyone including my grandparents came to our house in Oxnard for Christmas. I suspect I did the cooking though I don't really remember.

Another year I was working and had to go to work before the kids were up on Christmas day. I missed the present opening and we had to go out to eat. Not one of my favorite Christmases.

The last year we went to my Mom's for Christmas, my big present was a $1000 check. Wow! What to do with it. We decided to use it for a vacation. Amazingly that money paid for a trip to Busch Gardens for hubby and me and 4 of our kids, a motel near Disneyland, Disneyland, Japanese Village, Knott's Berry Farm, and the Wax Museum and all of our food. When we got home we had enough money left over to take our married daughter out for a nice dinner. (Money stretched much more back then.)

By this time we had all our Christmases at our own house. I hid presents all over the house--learned in later years, the kids found most of them, unwrapped them and wrapped them back up.

We often had guests for Christmas dinner who didn't have anywhere else to go.

When the kids were grown and we'd moved to Springville as did my sis and all her family, we had drew names and everyone came to our house before Christmas for the gift exchange. The families kept growing and we moved to a recreation room at a trailer park one of my sis's kids lived in.

Sis and her entire family moved to Las Vegas. By that time we were running our care home and had Christmas Eve with our family in Springville and a big Christmas morning with the ladies we cared for along with a traditional Christmas dinner.

We are retired from the care business but we still have our family Christmas Eve. and we're never sure who will show up.

A new tradition for Christmas Day began last year, instead of having dinner at home, I cook a turkey, dressing, candied yams, green bean casserole all in big quantities and take it over to the church. So do a lot of others. We serve a free Christmas Dinner to anyone who has nowhere else to go. We loved it last year and are looking forward to doing it again this year. Our whole family goes and helps serve.

What are your Christmas traditions?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Reminiscing about My Childhood Christmases.

When I was a kid the first part of Christmas began at the evening service at our church where Santa Claus handed out a bag of Christmas candy to each child. My parents always took us to their friends' home where all the church people gathered for hot cider and everyone went up and down the street Christmas caroling.

We never opened presents on Christmas Eve so sleeping was difficult. My sister and I were not allowed to go into the living room until our parents were awake. We usually managed to get them up close to 5 a.m. Dad had to go into the living room and turn on the tree lights and get his movie camera ready before we could enter and see our gifts.

We always got great presents. The ones I remember most are a wonderful Shirley Temple doll with a baby carriage. Unfortunately, the doll had a China head and I broke it one day taking her for a walk in the carriage. I always received about three books which I usually had read by the time the day was over.

My dad built me a two story doll house and my auntie made all the furniture for it.

During the war no one could buy a bicycle so my dad built two (one for me and one for my cousin) out of pipes and parts he scavenged from here and there. Wow! That was a great present.

As I got older, clothes were the favored gifts. I remember angora sweaters and of course, more books.

On Sunday afternoon we went to my grandparents in South Pasadena for a big dinner, using all of Grandma's good China and glassware. Dishes had to be done before we once again opened gifts from our grandparents and our aunt and uncle.

Later in the day, my sis and I often walked up Grand Avenue and peeked in the gates of all the mansions.

What great Christmases they were. Looking back, I know my parents didn't have a lot of money, but they managed to provide wonderful memories for us.


Friday, December 3, 2010

The Jelly Belly Challenge

You've all heard about the disgusting tasting jelly beans in the Harry Potter books, well it seems Jelly Belly manufactures some of these jelly beans.

Thanksgiving Day one of the games we played was a challenge to see who got the icky jelly belly. It's pretty easy to figure out in these photos.

The first is granddaughter Alyssa and her boyfriend Healy.

The second is me and hubby, I got the bad one. I'm not sure hubby had a clue what was going on.

Daughters Lori and Dana both got centipede guts, which obviously tasted horrible.

Grandson in law got the bad one, great grandson Garrett's was fine.

Caitlyn is accusing grandson (her beau) Gregg of pretending to have a good one.

Both granddaughter Genie and great granddaughter Peyton had good ones.

Alyssa challenged Gregg to another try and Healy is glad not to be in on this one.

Some of the tastes were dirt, booger, and other disgusting flavors.

Oh, what interesting things the Meredith family does for holiday fun.

Yes, we ate the traditional dinner, folks poured over the sale papers, we played a romping game of Estimation, and some left at midnight to go shopping. Not me.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Terrific Review of Invisible Path

With no mental or physical demands on my time since my work at Ozark Folk Center finished a day early, I picked up my copy of Marilyn Meredith's new Tempe Crabtree novel, INVISIBLE PATH. If I am counting correctly, this is number nine in the series. I own and have read all of them, but staying with the story allowed me to live inside Tempe's life in a way I never have before.

I have learned to trust Meredith's insight into we how we humans tick, and her knowledge of American Indians and life on a reservation. In this novel she adds many today issues, including fear of "the other," and the clearest look inside a white supremacist para-military group I've ever had.

When the body of Danny Tofoya is found on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation near Tempe's home, an Indian "from away," Jesus Running Bear, is named as the killer by many living there. Detectives also believe Running Bear is the likely suspect, and Sheriff's Deputy Tempe Crabtree, who is half Native-American, is assigned to do research on the rez. In a parallel situation, when exploring for fun in the mountains near Bear Creek, Tempe, her husband Hutch, her son Blair, and Blair's visiting college roommate, discover the compound of a para-military group. Men at the compound, carrying guns, warn them away.

Tempe soon comes to believe in Running Bear's innocence, but danger escalates when friends of the dead man seek out the suspect to take care of justice in their own way. Tempe protects him, and insists that nothing has proven he is guilty. Proof in any direction is hard to find, partly because many people Tempe questions are either lying or hiding what they know. And, are the white supremacists in the mountains involved in the crime? Some clues suggest they may be. Another worry is that Blair and his friend are very interested in the case and are doing some investigating on their own. Meanwhile, Christmas is approaching, and when will Tempe find time to buy gifts and prepare for the holiday, let alone enjoy time off with her family?

Now I wish I could read all novels by authors who know how to build "real" characters in one sitting. Reading for hours, I was able to stay inside Tempe's life without distractions. The puzzle was fascinating, the interwoven pieces of plot well created, the social commentary compelling, and the mystery . . . well, what a mystery! During most of the novel's pages I was in the dark, unable to see through all angles to identify the killer, though I had my suspicions!

But I will say this. I WAS able to unravel the plot and clearly identify the killer at the same time Tempe did! I am glad, however, that I didn't actually face the dangers she experienced getting there, though I was firmly convinced she was really facing them.

(For readers familiar with the Indian legend of the Hairy Man from an earlier Tempe novel, you'll be glad to know he shows up again in this story. And a favorite character from earlier novels, Nick Two John, is very much in evidence.)


How many of you have noticed a difference in your depth of involvement in a story when you can read for a long period of time, rather than taking in a chapter or two between work and other demands?

I recommend this novel to all. Radine Tress Nehring

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Of Good and Evil by Gerald G. Griffin

My interview of Gerald Griffin:

Marilyn: Tell me something about your background.

Gerald: Born in Flint, Michigan. Attended Mandeville High School there, where in addition to being a member of the track team, I was a varsity athlete on the football team. Received AS from Flint Junior College; BBA from GMI; and my MA and Ph.D. (both in psychology) from Michigan State University. Also, I attended one year at the University of Michigan Medical School.

I was a consulting psychologist in private practice --- individual counseling and therapy, testing, diagnosis, and consultant to industry --- for 14 years in Atlanta, Sandy Springs, and Marietta, Georgia, during which time I wrote the professional, non-fiction book, THE SILENT MISERY -- WHY MARIAGES FAIL. Then I eased out of
private practice and more into full-time writing, doing ghost writing, screenplays, and writing several novels, three of them published --- THE CORRUPTORS. THE DEATH DISCIPLE, and THE LAST COMING. For more serene surroundings, I moved to Gainesville,Georgia, where I wrote my novel OF GOOD AND EVIL, and am now finishing its sequel, A TIME OF RECKONING.

Married and divorced, with two grown sons. Presently engaged to an English woman.Love traveling, dogs, and networking. I've been in Who's Who, and was honored with the award of being an Outstanding Atlantan, and was listed in Notable Americans of the South and Southeast.

Marilyn: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Gerald: In the ninth grade, when I made my first attempt to write a book
(fiction), and its chapters were read one at a time to my class by my teacher.

Marilyn: What gave you the idea for this book?

Gerald: Members of the Special Forces of the U.S. Military. I wanted to dedicate a story to them by writing a gripping book about one of them.

Marilyn: How much of you is in the book?

Gerald: Hard to say. Most of it came out of my imagination, knowledge, and research. Possibly a hint of myself in a few of the attitudes of some of the characters, especially the protagonist.

Marilyn: What was the road to getting published?

Gerald:Rough! An ordeal of rejections until the right publisher was found.

Marilyn: Have you any advice for aspiring writers?

Gerald: Yes, Be certain you have a passion for writing before you begin. You will need it to develop the discipline and dedication --- no matter what --- to see you through.

Then get a good agent. You'll need luck on that, but that's part of seeing it through!

Marilyn: What's up next for you?

Gerald: I'm just beginning marketing efforts for OF GOOD AND EVIL --- looking more and more for ways to market the novel on the internet, while finishing its sequel,
A TIME OF RECKONING. Then a deserving vacation; perhaps a trip abroad.

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Gerald, you are a most interesting person and the book sounds terrific. Best of luck on your journey as a writer.

Synopsis of OF GOOD AND EVIL
A tormented Green Beret who is plagued by suicidal guilt uses his special gifts to fight tyranny and overcome personal demons.

In Of Good and Evil, author Gerald G. Griffin immerses us in a spellbinding story of good versus evil as seen through the eyes of a Green Beret who was discharged
from the army after the men under his control died in fierce combat and his ensuing anguish becameunbearable.

The characterizations of decency and depravity ebb and flow as Green Beret Ron Sheffield battles mobsters, terrorists, and a government cell while, at the same time, he falls in love, develops mental gifts, and works with the Mafia as a hit man.

This intriguing book will captivate you with accounts of a powerful and humane secret society and mental powers that extend beyond our imaginations. In Of Good and Evil, the lines separating decency and corruption blur, but the message is commanding and clear. In the battle of spirit versus tyranny, an honorable soul is destined to triumph. Don’t miss this chance to see life and its challenges more
clearly. This is a gripping tale of the potency of nobility and humanity.

Of Good and Evil
(ISBN: 978-1-60976-014-4) is for $17.95 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: or at or

“In this age there is nobility of spirit and the courage to preserve and protect that nobility. In the field of fiction we have men of great stature . . . To that list add the name of Gerald
Griffin . . . .” – Nancy Cline, MENSA

About the Author: Gerald G. Griffin grew up in Flint, Michigan, and
graduated from Michigan State University with a Ph.D. He then moved to
Atlanta, Georgia, where he set up a private practice as a psychologist. Gerald
now resides in Gainesville, Georgia where he is working on Of Good and
Evil’s sequel, A Time of Reckoning

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Julie Egert Reveals Some Secrets About Her Writing

Julie Egert's book, "The Left Side Of The Stairs" is now available on,, and It was published by Aberdeen Bay. Anyone interested can read the first two chapters of "The Left Side Of The Stairs" on her author's site,

Here is what Julie is sharing with us today:

Hi everybody, and thanks, Marilyn, for having me. I started out my writing career as a journalist, looking to parlay my love of writing into a way to support myself. I quickly found out that it was more fun to choose my own topics, and eventually decided that I loved writing my own (fictional) stories even more. (Yes, I know that there are those who would argue that journalists write plenty of fiction). But the ability to research, which I learned in J-school, can serve a novelist well, too.

I think the trick, like so many things in life, is to find that balance, and to know how much is too much. When I started writing "The Left Side Of The Stairs," my first foray into the world of publishing, I started to research in earnest: I filed away as many interesting tidbits about my setting, Atlanta, as I could find. I read about the marvelous, historical Fox Theater on Peachtree Street, where Kenny Rogers performed and insisted that his socks be ironed before the show. What a fun tidbit!

But did it belong in my story? Did it add to what my character was going through at the time? I had to delete a half a page when I went back to edit this part of the manuscript, where I'd gotten just a tad bit overzealous with fun facts I'd learned. (Overusing my research had made that part bo-ring). Being diabetic, I had no problem with making my main character Shelby's struggle with the disease believable. But I realized my readers didn't exactly need to know how many units of insulin Shelby took at bedtime, or read a list of all of the symptoms of low blood sugar.

I also agonized over getting details about my character Miranda's addiction right. Getting it right can add authenticity to your story, give the reader a sense of place, and make your words resonate with somebody who has been through the same thing in real life. But something struck me when I was watching The First 48, one of my guilty pleasures on TV, last night! (LOVE that show). The homicide detective was lamenting the fact that he'd been investigating for months to crack a case; in the meantime, the forensic evidence had been sitting right there, in a lab, containing the crucial answer...but he'd had to wait on the results of the DNA testing...for months. Well, any responsible crime novelist knows DNA testing can take forever. If they've done even the first bit of homework they're privy to this. However, in some cases, the novelist may not want their story spread out over the space of months, and they have to (gasp) fudge things or speed things along to bring their story to fruition. Here comes the "rush" on the testing or the strings a detective is able to pull that doesn't often happen in real life!

Start to over-think or work within the strict confines of the research you've done, and you'll find your story coming to a screeching halt...quickly. I also took medical research I had done and used it as inspiration for what could be possible for a character who was facing a medical crisis. I journeyed into a somewhat spiritual realm. I certainly didn't find out about the spiritual aspect of what one of my main characters was going through in the research I did, but it certainly did offer up plenty of inspiration. In a nutshell: Make the research your own and stretch it or change it up a wee bit if it suits your story to do so. Just make sure readers know that's what you're doing!

I'm all for being responsible with research, but sometimes the little "creative license" disclaimer you see at the beginning of books is a powerful tool. Author's disclaimer: Imagination at work!

Julie Egert

And a bit about her book:

The Left Side Of The Stairs

by Julie Egert

A reporter in over her head…
Meet Shelby Norris, a small-town reporter without a beat. Shelby wants to write CNN-caliber news, not stories about new park benches in town. But she’s unprepared for the devastating crash course in “real” journalism she gets with her husband’s sudden death. A snap decision to start over at a popular Atlanta paper brings her one step closer to the big stories she’s been craving, and a life-altering friendship…

A girl in crisis…
19-year-old heroin addict Miranda Linn is a girl who wears a Lord’s Prayer cross around her neck and a chip on her shoulder. When Miranda’s chance at a future starts to slip away, her family will look for help in the unlikeliest of places…

A recipe for healing…or disaster?
With one controversial article Shelby finds herself dragged into Miranda’s world, and a vicious public backlash. After getting caught up in an emotional tug-of-war between Miranda’s devastated parents and angry boyfriend, Shelby’s on a personal mission to help them heal. But first she’ll have to survive her daily crash course in being a “real” journalist, sort out some complicated feelings for a doctor with a connection to Miranda, and save herself from her own small-town baggage. Shelby’s about to learn what it means to no longer walk on the left side of the stairs.

Thank you so much, Julie, for your interesting revelations about yourself and you book.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Silence or Surround-Sound

--Guest Post by Carolyn Rose

How do you do your best work? While tapping your toes to the Motown beat? Howling along with Howlin’ Wolf? Listening to the slosh of the washer and the whisk of the dryer? Monitoring the kids’ conversations? Talking back to Talk Radio or keeping an ear cocked for that recipe for cheese and cantaloupe soufflĂ© “coming up next” on a TV interview show?

Or do you require silence to concentrate?

I used to think I did.

In fact, I insisted on my own office space, a floor above my husband’s and at the opposite end of the house. Mike, who is the co-author of our cozy mystery series set in the fictional Oregon coast town of Devil’s Harbor, likes music, lots of it. His office shelves hold at least 300 CDs and he’s got a TV, a piano, and a pool table in his space.

After a long career on the air at radio stations in three states, he’s lost a lot of his high-end hearing, so he tends to crank the dials up. The Spinal Tap musicians who had amps that went up to 11 have nothing on him. When noise leaked up the stairs—as it did almost daily—I’d snatch up the intercom and carp at him to keep it down.

The more I became obsessed with my need for silence in order to write, the more I blamed everything and everyone else for my lack of progress.

And then one day, frustrated because my latest novel was not only going nowhere but not even making good time in the process, I sat and listened, really listened.
And I found out that silence—at least in my office—is anything but silent.

First, I heard the breathy hum of the computer and the clicking of the keys beneath my fingers. I heard myself swallow. I heard my stomach rumble and a crackling sound in my sinuses as I drew in air.

A jet flew over, the roof creaked as the sun warmed it, and outside the window a bird skittered along the patio roof. A neighbor cranked up his lawnmower and another revved the engine of his truck. Someone trundled a garbage bucket down to the street. A dog barked and a woman called for it to come. A squirrel jumped from branch to branch in the pear tree. A jay complained that I hadn’t filled the feeder.
After a few minutes, I tuned out those noises and listened more intently to the words spoken inside my head by my characters and, beyond that, the sounds created inside my mind by my imagination—the cheese puffs calling out from the fresh bag “hidden” in the closet above the refrigerator, the chocolate pudding easing past its expiration date, the last cranberry muffin shivering in a plastic bag at the back of
the freezer.

Suddenly, I was awash in a sea of sound. Waves of sound rose higher. An undertow of noise pulled me down.

I clamped my hands over my ears, but the surf sucked me under. I heard skin rub on skin, my tongue rasping against my teeth. I heard the thud-thud-thud of my heart pumping, the suck of air in my lungs.

These tiny sounds grew louder, reverberated, resonated, resounded.

I leaped up, turned on the TV, then dug an ancient boom box from the closet, slapped a Rolling Stones CD into the slot, and began singing along with Mick and the guys.
In a few minutes, I’d drowned out the sound of what I’d thought was silence.
In a few more minutes my fingers were tapping out the rhythm of “Start Me Up.” Words stutter-stepped onto my computer screen. I filled a page. I filled another.

A figure loomed in the doorway and my husband raised an eyebrow.

“Silence,” I shouted over the music, “is vastly overrated.”

Carolyn's Bio:

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She teaches novel-writing in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She is the author of Hemlock Lake, Consulted to Death, Driven to Death, and Dated to Death, and the co-author of Sometimes a Great Commotion, The Big Grabowski, The Hard Karma Shuffle, The Crushed Velvet Miasma, and The Hermit of Humbug Mountain.

Visit her virtual home at

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amazon Ratings and Blog Tours

I love doing blog tours. They are a lot of work. First you have to write something interesting for the places you are going to be blogging on, then the day each blog comes out you need to promote the blog at least on Facebook and Twitter and any other social networks you might be on and also any of your listserves. This takes a lot of time.

It is also important that you check the blog during the day so you can answer the questions commenters asks, plus acknowledge each one who asked a question.

One way to see if the blog tour is working is to check your stats on Amazon. One day while on my blog tour for Invisible Path I checked during the last blog tour the stats for the trade paperback were 728,581. The lower the numbers the better. I know that doesn't sound low but it's a lot better than the million plus that the books began with. The Kindle version was even better at 201,739. How this will play out in sales I have no idea. What I do know is when I do nothing, the numbers remain in the millions.

Of course the book is sold other places besides Amazon. A good place to purchase Invisible Path and any of the other books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series in either trade paperback or e-book is directly from the publisher at

Any bookstore can also order the book too.

In my opinion, doing a blog tour helps sell books so I'll probably keep right on doing them.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

For the First Time I Have ARCs of a coming book

Angel Lost is the next book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. For the first time I actually have ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of the book. There is a plain cover with just the title and my name on the front and information about the book on the back.

My publisher, Oak Tree Press, will be sending them out to places like Publishers Weekly and Library Review, but it's up to me to find other appropriate places for them to go--places that will review them.

I've never done this before but not quite sure who to approach with them.

Anyone have suggestions?


Friday, November 26, 2010

Latest Harry Potter Movie

Hubby and one of my friends, who also happens to be a fan of both my series, went to see the new Harry Potter movie.

Here are some of my thoughts. This one is definitely not for younger kids because it's much darker than the previous ones. It also isn't a place to begin watching the series because you need to know who all the characters are or you won't be able to make sense of what is going on.

It's been fun watching the actors grow up just as the characters they play do in the movies.

We were all entertained and the only reason I knew it was really long was because my bottom began to ache. It definitely kept my interest.

Of course it stops at a most scary spot that looks like everything is going wrong and how on earth will it be righted. I will definitely go to see the next one.

We did not wait in line, we went to a Monday showing at 10:30 a.m. and the theater didn't have many people in it. Great time to see a movie.