Showing posts from July, 2010

Developing Characters

Recently I received a wonderful review from New York Journal of Books for Lingering Spirit and at the end, the reviewer wrote "Meredith is a master of characterization. She fully rounds out the facets of her protagonists' personalities and richly develops the details of the supporting case. She does not hit any false notes with her dialogue and builds strong relationships among her characters...."

Great to read about one's work, of course, but thought maybe I should write a blog about developing characters that might help aspiring authors.

When I'm thinking up a characters, I visualize the person in my mind. Once I've got all the physical characteristics set, then I choose the name that I think fits that character. Always be sure when picking names not to use names in the story you're writing that have the same first letter, sound alike, rhyme or all have the same number of sy…

John Bray, New PSWA Member

Marilyn: This is an introduction to one of the Public Safety Writers Association's newer member, John Bray. John, tell us a bit about yourself.

John: I joined PSWA sometime last fall. I have been lurking, as it were, reading all the e-mails and occasionally taking advantage of some of the suggestions and insights.

I was sworn into the New York City Police Department in May of 1959 and was assigned to a Queens precinct after the Academy. After about two years, I wangled a transfer to a new unit called the Tactical Patrol Force. We worked in all the high crime areas in the City, both in uniform and civilian clothes.

When I graduated from John Jay College and got admitted to law school, I transferred back to a quiet command in Queens. I got promoted to sergeant in 1966 and was sent to the Manhattan precinct that covers Chinatown and Little Italy. That was an adventure. The sergeants’ “club” arranged for my (ahem) transfer to a Queens precinct for reasons we won’t discuss here.

After I gr…

Booksigning at Willow Bridge Bookstore

Last Saturday, hubby and I headed to Oakhurst which is about a three hour drive from out house. We have to drive down from the foothills, get out on the 99 freeway (always exciting, especially when a big truck decides to tailgate you going over 70 miles an hour), through Fresno and up 41 into the mountains on a good but winding road.

Oakhurst is really a thriving city and has everything anyone could want--unlike Springville where we live--including a movie theater, all sorts of restaurants, medical care, two big grocery stores with shopping centers, and best of all, a book store. (I might add that Oakhurst is the gateway to Yosemite National Park which brings in many tourists.)

Willow Bridge Bookstore is now in its second location, on Hwy 49 in the Von's Shopping Center. It's everything you hope for in a small, independent bookstore, starting with a pleasant owner who loves having book events.

When we first arrived in Oakhurst, we met good friend and fellow author, Sunny, and h…

Introducing, Author Augustus "Gus" Cileone

Today I'm interviewing author Augustus "Gus" Cileone.

Marilyn: Gus, please tell me and my readers about your background.

Gus: I was born in Philadelphia and attended public schools there. I received undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Temple University. I later studied at Saint Joseph’s University and acquired teaching certificates in elementary and secondary education. I am widowed and have one daughter. I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and am now retired. I now live in Montgomery County, just outside of Philadelphia.

Marilyn: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Gus: I was the odd student who actually enjoyed writing essays about literature in high school and college. My teachers would single out my writing, and I started to write some bad poetry and short stories during my college years. I continued to write as an adult, and have won literary prizes in fiction competitions and playwriting, having been recently cite…

The E-book Revolution

Seems everyone is discussing e-books and e-readers lately.

I've heard arguments that e-books are definitely here to stay and well eventually wipe out paper books. Frankly, though I believe e-books and readers are here to stay, I doubt regular books will disappear.

On the other side, believe it or not, there are many who think the e-book and readers are only a fad and will disappear much like the 8 track tape and wants happening with VCR videos. I definitely think these folks are wrong.

For one thing, e-books have been around for 10 years--though not a lot of people knew about them, except people like me who were published in e-books. The Rocket E-Reader came along about that time too--and it was great way to read e-books. Unfortunately, Sony bought them out and then didn't come out with another e-reader until a couple of years ago. By that time Amazon had started selling the Kindle.

Frankly, e-books are shaking up the publishing industry. I'm not going into all the interesting…

Elaine Cantrell and A New Leaf

Today, my guest is Elaine Cantrell, a fellow Oak Tree Press author, whose written the book, New Leaf.

Marilyn: Tell me about your background.

Elaine: I'm a Southern girl, born and raised in South Carolina. I hold a Master's Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and am a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary society for women educators. I'm also a member of Romance Writer's of America and EPIC authors. At present I teach high school social studies. When I'm not writing I enjoy books, flowers, vintage Christmas ornaments, and playing with my grandchildren.

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

Elaine: I guess when I was maybe four years old. I dictated a story about Woody Woodpecker to my father who laughed hysterically the entire time he was writing it. He wrote that story in pencil on notebook paper and kept it his entire life. After his death my stepmother found it in his papers and gave it to me.

Elaine: What inspired…

Dreams and the Movie Inception

Hubby and I went to see Inception the other day. Our eldest daughter had emailed us that it was a good movie but to be sure and pay attention in the beginning or we wouldn't understand the end.

There was a lot going on, but at times it seemed slow. Hubby fell asleep several times. I tried to nod off but forced myself to stay awake. The pace picked up and became action packed--hubby stayed awake through all that. It's definitely a movie of many layers--maybe too many. Though, I will say this, it's the kind of movie you think about afterwards. That says a lot for this movie, because often times I can't even remember what a movie was about.

I couldn't begin to give a synopsis of the movie except that it was about tampering with people's dreams.

I've always had an active dream life. Sometimes I can remember what I dream about, but sometimes not. The most vivid dreams are those I have just before I wake up in the morning--and they usually involve trying to find a b…

General Hospital, the soap opera

I've admitted that my husband and I both watch General Hospital every afternoon that we're home. It's kind of our rest period--and I say that because we both tend to fall asleep.

But while we're not sleeping we're often laughing or saying something like, "Oh, sure that would happen."

For instance, they had a scene once, where the very sexy Samantha went into the police station, flirted with an officer at the front desk and stole a gun that was evidence in an important case. Never happen.

A couple of days ago, Carly, the mother of three children--whom she seldom spends anytime with, in fact the youngest boy seems to have disappeared and no one has noticed--spoke about her son Michael's ankle monitor. I had no idea he had one--and if he had he'd be back in jail, because this young man goes everywhere, including on a boat ride with his step-father, mother and kids.

When people are in jail everyone gets to go in and see them and spend private time with th…

Author Adrienne Jones and her book, The Hoax

Bio: Adrienne Jones is author of the books Brine, Gypsies Stole my Tequila, The Hoax, and editor of the collection Grimm and Grimmer. She lives in Rhode Island and writes full time. Her website:

About The Hoax:
Bored accountant, Joey Duvaine, needed a career change. World domination seemed like a fun gig. Allowing himself to become a puppet in his genius friend’s religious con, Joey plays his part in a fraudulent miracle devised by a private special effects team. As the media and the public are divided on whether he’s a modern prophet or a clever scam artist, an FBI agent becomes interested in Joey’s financial transactions, possible terrorist motives, and the overnight popularity of his new cult.

But the agent’s investigation leads him down a path he’s unprepared for, as Joey’s benefactors have barbarous motives beyond the smokescreen of the hoax, and for them, humanity is merely a disguise.

Marilyn: Adrienne, tell me about your back ground.

Adrienne: I have a…

What's Gotten Into the Birds?

Remember that scary Alfred Hitchcock movie about the Birds? If you're too young, in a small town, the birds went nuts and attacked everyone. They managed to find their way into houses where people were hiding, pecked and pecked until they killed everyone.

Saturday, while I waited for someone to show up at my book signing, I was sitting where I could see out the glass top of the door and across the street. What once was a lovely restaurant, ultra posh, used to be on the top floor of the building.

Being able to go to this wonderful place was an experience. The food was always delicious, cloth tablecloths and napkins were on every table along with fresh flowers. When you were there you were sure to see some of the "social elite" of the community. On Friday and Saturday nights a piano player at an old grand piano entertained with all the romantic tunes from the 40s and 50s. We ate there on only on special occasions because it was a bit on the pricey side. Our writers' gro…

A Sense of Place and the Impact on Writer and Protagonist

A Sense of Place and the Impact on Writer and Protagonist
Guest blog by Carolyn J. Rose

From the moment I opened a book by Zane Grey at the age of ten, I wanted to escape from the Catskill Mountains, to go west, to live beneath a huge expanse of sky. I dreamed of being away, of setting myself loose from the hold of family and place, of floating like a milkweed seed to some new place with a future only I would determine. I gave that same desire to Dan Stone, the protagonist of Hemlock Lake, knowing it would lead to conflict.

Like me, he headed west when high school was finished. Like me, after a few years his visits home were infrequent. Like me, he found that he could leave the place, but that the place never left him. A break with the past is seldom clean, wounds inflicted then can fester for a lifetime, love given or withheld can change the course of a life.

My memories of the hollows and ridges, the creeks and rills, are like stones in those centuries-old walls piled up when fields we…

Evaluating Book Promotion

That seems like all I've been doing this month.

Doing a blog tour like I am, I'm spending a lot of time promoting the blogs I'm on each day. First thing in the morning, I go online and check the blog myself. I didn't do that at first, and sometimes the blogs haven't been posted yet. No sense in promoting it, if your particular blog has made it yet.

Once I know the blog is up I let all my social networks know often using but with extra reminders to my Facebook friends.

I always like to leave a thank you to the blog host as a comment. Through the day, I drop back to see if anyone has commented or asked a question I should answer. With this particular tour because of the contest I'm running, I am keeping track of everyone who comments and how many blogs they comment on.

Because I'm also doing in person events, as each one comes up I need to promote those too--on face book and anywhere I that I know people are who live near the area of the event.

When those…

Lauren Carr Interview

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

Lauren: I have come to believe that writers are born writers. It is who we are. A writer can’t stop writing anymore than a singer can be made to stop signing in the shower. It’s too bad they haven’t made laptops waterproof so that we can write in the shower.

I remember as a child reading The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore and realized that I was rewriting the book in my mind while I was reading it. After I had finished, I set the book down and sat back and totally reworked the plot and characters in my mind. I had so much fun that it became a common thing for me to do after reading a book, watching a television show, or seeing a movie. By the time I was ten years old, I was carrying a notepad around and writing up stories on my own.

When I was twelve years old, I sent off one of my stories to a teen magazine that was holding a short story writing contest. My story was about a kidnapping mystery. A love story won. While my friend…

This Week's Blog Stops and Book Signing

As you can see, there are a lot of blog stops this week. Hope you can find time to visit them all and leave a comment.

July 19
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 21
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 23

Now my successful launch for Lingering Spirit.

It was a much too hot day--anyone with good sense stayed home with their a.c. However, thanks to a nice article in the paper Friday morning and an announcement on the radio (I had no idea that was going to happen), and all my Facebook appeals, and some invitations I sent out, we had a really nice group of people who arrived--mostly right at the same time.

However, some good friends braved the scorching sun and turned up. The bookstore pr…

Launch for Lingering Spirit

The first place Lingering Spirit will be available is Books Off Main on Oak Street in Porterville this Saturday, the 17th, from 1 to 4. Today.

I've done everything I know to do to promote the event. I took a book to the editor of our local newspaper and sent information. There was a nice article in there on Friday. I've sent letters and emails to local folks who might be interested. And of course, I've done a lot of promoting on the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks that I'm on.

I've got my books packed up ready to go.

I do hope I won't be sitting there alone with the bookseller and my husband.

I'll let you know how it goes on Sunday. Hopefully, I'll try to remember to take some photos. I'm not the best at that.

Besides my blog tour, which I'm on at the present time, I have events lined up for the six Saturday this month and next.

And if you're not going to be near any of the spots I'm going to be visiting and you'd s…

I Love My Writers' Group

A bit of history first: When I moved to Springville I looked in the paper to see if they had any kind of writing group. Almost immediately I found an announcement about a group in Porterville. Of course I joined them. First they met in authors' homes in the day time which meant most of the writers were people who didn't work and teachers off for the summer.

As time moved on, so did the group, meeting at night and in a public building. From there it was back to people's homes, then a senior center, and finally a small group who really were intent on writing began meeting.

Over the years (about 30 for me, though the group began even earlier)many have dropped out and new folks have joined. Some were not serious about writing and were merely looking for a social time. Others couldn't take being critiqued. And there were always those who never got around to writing anything new. And once in awhile, someone who wrote wonderfully well, sent their work off and after a couple of …

An Interview with Author Mark R. Conte

Marilyn: Tell me something about yourself.

Mark: I am a graduate of the Florida State University creative writing program. I have been published in 47 publications, including Yankee, Crazy Horse, Potomac Review, Apalachee Quarterly, and Poetry International under two different names.

I have a poetry book, Walking on Water, Cross Cultural, 1986 and a novella, Delilah, Oak Tree Press, Kindle, 2009. I also have three other novels, In the Arms of Strangers, Gaius, Five Days to Eternity and Of Flesh and Stone.

I won Honorable Mention in the PEN awards for short fiction and first prize for poetry from Barbwire Theatre.

I was appointed Master Poet by the Florida Arts Council in 1976, and was director of the FSU Poet Series. I am a member of the Authors Guild and Academy of American Poets.

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

Mark: When I was eight years old, old Italian women would come over to my house at 8 PM every Saturday and I would tell them a new story every week.


More About My Contest on My Blog Tour

Evidently I didn't say what I meant--a failing I have from time to time--about the contest going along with my blog tour. I know my blog tour director sent to all the blogs exactly what I sent to her, so the fault is mine.

So--I'm going to explain it the way I meant to in the first place.

I'm visiting many different blogs during this tour, every weekday. When the blog goes live, I always hope people will read it and leave a comment so that I know what people thought. I always go back to check and if someone asks a question, I'll answer it while I'm there.

This time on my tour, I'm holding a contest for someone to have their name used for a character in my 2012 Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel--the one I'm writing now.

The winner will be the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs. Just leaving a comment on a blog will not mean your name will be in the book--only the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.

I hope that makes it clearer. I've already h…

Interview with Author Marja McGraw

Marja and I have known each other for awhile, first through the Internet, then met at a mystery con and I did a book signing at a library in her hometown. Here I learn more about her and you will to.

Marilyn: Tell me about your background.

Marja: I have a background in both civil and criminal law, and in state transportation. I’ve worked for a city building department and owned my own store (Antique Store/Tea Room), and there were a few little jobs in between.

I was a divorced parent who raised a child alone and learned a lot of hard lessons over the years. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to try to keep a sense of humor through all things -- that will help keep you sane during the worst of times. Well, that and hormone pills (if you’re a woman). Consequently, my stories are generally lighter with a little humor.

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

Marja: Writing and sharing ideas has always been a part of my life, but books weren’t a part of that until a frie…

Good Advice from Author, Kit Sloane

THE ERROR-FREE MANUSCRIPT, or how to TRY to make your manuscript as
perfect as possible in an imperfect world

So here I am, just finished with proofing the EIGHTH in my mystery
series. I emphasize the 8th because by now you’d think I’d have this
error-free, writing process figured out. Well, I don’t!

I found 52-errors! These ranged from the sublime (a horrible gaffe in
the plot that was fixed by changing ONE word!) to the ridiculous (an
extra space here or there, the usual extra “the” in a sentence, silly

Now I am not a fast writer. It takes me a good year to finish a
75,000 word story. One reason for this is that we live on a working
horse ranch and there are lots of chores to do on a daily basis. I
fit in my writing when I can. And I self-edit as I go, reviewing and
rewriting whatever I wrote the day/week/month before. So this
manuscript, as all seven others, was gone over and over and over by
me before being printed out for the 2nd or 3rd time. (I find it a
good e…

Eclipse and What Writers Can Learn From It

Hubby reluctantly trotted along with me to see Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight series. He didn't fall asleep, though I don't think it was his favorite movie.

I enjoyed it, like I did the first one--a pure fantasy, but it had all the elements that we need to put in any book we write.

One of the things both movies did super well was the setting and the atmosphere. Who wouldn't expect vampires and super wolves to live in a place where rain drips from the trees in the forest and mystical mist floats all around.

And what great characters. No wonder the female populations is swooning over Jacob with his muscular torso and unrequited love for Bella, the heroine. And Bella, a sweet girl who looks like a normal girl-next-door type--certainly not a diva with her scrubbed fresh face look and a wardrobe that seems to consist mostly of hoodies and blue jeans. And of course, there's Edward. Despite his pallor that suggests he might be suffering from a deadly disease, he has a …

My Advice to New Writers

I've written these things before, but I keep getting asked the same question, so here goes again.

1. Read the kind of books you want to write.

2. Learn the writing craft by:
a. Reading books on how to write
b. Go to writers conferences
c. Join a critique group

3. Be willing to take criticism.

4. Write the whole book. The first book you write may not be one you will sell.

5. Once the book is done, start at the beginning and edit--you may find yourself rewriting, and that's okay.

6. When you think you are all done, have someone read it who knows about writing and the genre you are writing in. (Not your mom or your husband or best friend, unless they are an expert in writing.)

7. Listen to what they have to say.

8. When you think your book is ready to send out, find an agent or publisher who publishes the kind of book that you've written, follow their guidelines for submitting. (If you don't, you might as well forget it, you'll get a rejection right off.)

9. Once you'v…

On With Blog Tour

It's not too late to visit this week's blogs:

July 6
July 7
July 8

July 8 Paperback Writer
July 9

Remember the one who visits and leaves a comment on the most blogs gets to have a character named after them in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel I'm writing now. It'll be out in the early part of 2012.

Blog Tours are fun but also a lot of work--for the author and the blog host. When you are hosting someone, it's always great if a lot of comments are left.

Thank you for participating with me on this blog tour.


Juggling Writing, Promotion and Life

This juggling business seems to get harder and harder.

Though I know exactly how the book I'm writing know is going to go, I can't seem to find big enough blocks of time to really get much written--it's been two or three pages at a time.

What's interfering? This month, the blog tour I'm on is one biggie. Because when you're jumping from blog to blog, if you want your tour to be successful, you need to visit each blog the day you're there, add a comment, check comments to see if anyone has asked a question your should answer, and because I'm running a contest on how many people comment on every blog, I need to keep track of names.

Also, I have some physical events that I need to publicize to at least try, if not ensure, that people will come.

Next will be the physical launch for Lingering Spirit on Saturday, July 17 from 1-4 at Books Off Main (the store is on Oak Street, right off of Main St.)in Porterville CA. I've put it on Facebook and will be sending…

Me and My Booth and New Banner

Hubby and I celebrated the Fourth of July at Channel Islands Harbor, sitting in my booth and selling my books. Having this kind of booth means putting up a tent, bringing a table, chairs, and of course, my books.

We were fortunate this year, because daughter Lori and her hubby Rick, not only helped up put up our tent but take it down as well--and they sat and kept up company all afternoon long.

An wonderful addition to my booth was a new banner that my publisher, Oak Tree Press, contributed to the cause. It really made people pause and take a second look.

We like to do events in Ventura County because we have two grown daughters who still live in the area and it gives us a chance to spend some time with them and their families.

Don't forget to follow my virtual blog tour and leave a comment on as many as you can. Who knows, you might end up finding yourself in the book I'm writing now.


Contest for Those Commenting on my Blog Tour Stops

Yep, I'm having a contest for my blog tour which begins today.

I'll name a character in my 2012 Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel that I'm working on now after the person or persons who comment on the most blogs on my blog tour.

Here's the schedule for the tour. If you're interested in being a character in my book, you might want to make a copy of the schedule so you can make your visits.

July 6
July 7
July 8
July 8 Paperback Writer
July 9
July 12 Writing Daze
July 13
July 14
July 15
July 16
July 19
July 19
July 20 If Books Could Talk
July 21 http://edn…

My Blog Tour Begins Tomorrow

On July 6 and 7th I'll be visiting

Though I can't remember exactly what I did for these two blogs, I can assure that each one is different.

I do hope that you will visit and leave a comment or a question. I'll be visiting from time to time, so if you leave a question, I promise I will answer it.

And so my blog tour is off and running, I do hope you all will visit some of the my stops along the way.


Happy Fourth of July

When we celebrate the Fourth of July we should remember how fortunate we are to live in the U.S.A.

So many lives have been sacrificed over the years to keep our nation free. My husband served three tours in Vietnam so I feel like I did a bit of sacrificing myself--and there are lots of families still sacrificing.

No matter what your politics might be, today is one day you should forget about whether you are on the left or the right and just be proud that you are American.

Happy Fourth of July to you all!


Memorial Service

Sunday evening our church held a memorial service for the two women who died within hours of each other. The eldest of the two had no family. The other woman's family said they had no plans to have a memorial.

Our pastor, my son-in-law, God bless him, decided our church should give both these women a memorial service. He let everyone know that he'd been in contact with and found out some information about the women. Church members were asked to bring cookies.

The church began to fill before six p.m. People who lived in the senior apartment complex and knew the older woman arrived, along with some other friends.

All of the relatives of the younger women, most none of us knew anything about, also came, plus many of our church family.

My daughter, the pastor's wife, led several songs throughout the service, Amazing Grace, Fly Away and other appropriate songs.

Pastor gave a talk about the first woman then asked if anyone else wanted to tell something about her. A woman and her adu…

Strange Deaths in our Little Town

Recently two women, best friends, died within hours of each other in our little foothill town.

One came to our church regularly. She was somewhat handicapped and had to have someone come and get here and take her home, but she participated in everything.

The elder of the two lived in a senior facility that once had been a TB hospital. The younger woman lived in a duplex.

The Sunday morning they died, the deputy sheriff who was called to the first one's home by a neighbor, called the church to see if we had any next of kin information. The pastor told him to get in touch with her friend. The deputy couldn't get the friend on the phone so went to her apartment and found she'd died about 12 to 16 hours earlier. The first one had only been dead a few hours.

Unfortunately, no autopsies were done on these women. The older woman probably died of natural causes as she had cancer and spent a lot of time in the hospital. The younger woman, only 46, had lots of ailments, but none life th…

Packing Up for Our Visit to Oxnard

Actually, we're going to Camarillo first where we'll be staying with our youngest daughter, her husband and our youngest granddaughter. We don't get to see them much so are looking forward to the visit. Daughter's hubby usually barbecues salmon for us and he does a wonderful job of it. My mouth is watering already in anticipation. We ought to go there more often, they have a bedroom with it's own bath downstairs and the family's bedrooms are upstairs, so it's really private.

On Sunday we'll be leaving at 8 a.m. in the morning to go to Channel Islands Harbor to locate the spot in the parking lot for our booth.This time it's on the far side of the Farmer's Market. We'll need to pack our tent, table, two chairs and all my books. We're also taking a new banner my publisher had made for me advertising An Axe to Grind. It's really big so it should be plenty noticeable.

This will be a long day because we're expected to stay until 8 p.m. w…