Showing posts from January, 2011

Using Color in Your Writing

Lately, I've been asked to review several books. There are some that I wished I could've edited.

What I've noticed is many is the lack of the mention of color. Color adds so much to the reader's enjoyment.
Besides the obvious, the color of the characters' hair and clothing, think about all the other colors you come across every single day. Maybe you don't notice the ones that surround you all the time, but pay attention when you go new places.

When I was in New York my one and only time, it was spring, tulips bloomed in the median of the street in a glorious shade of pink--but everyone wore black. Doesn't that give you a visual? I also was astounded at how bright the colors were--Manhattan looked just like it does in the movies and TV. (That may sound silly, but that's what I thought.)

Colors of the landscape can add a lot to the mood--if everything is grey and dark the reader will know that something mysterious or bad is about to happen.

Sometimes hav…

Cabot Cove Syndrome

Remember Jessica Fletcher who lived in the small New England village of Cabot Cove? So many murders happened in that tiny town when Jessica Fletcher was around, it was a wonder she wasn't the prime suspect. It didn't get any better when she started traveling. Wherever she went someone dropped dead of suspicious circimstances.

My little town of Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree is the resident deputy has some similarities to Cabot Cover in the sense that it's unlikely that many people would be murdered as has happened over the years in my books. Fortunately, Tempe is never on the scene at the time of the murder, she is always called in after the discovery.

We've had three murders that I know of and they happened over a long period of time. The first a book was written about it, Murder in California, and a movie from the book. It happened right across the river from where I live. A large ranch owned by a prominent family in Beverly Hills sits atop a hill. Right behi…

Local Resident Deputy Entertains

Last night hubby and I attended a Town Hall meeting intended to inform all the good citizens in our foothill community about how we can protect ourselves. Besides our resident deputy we had personnel from the Forest Service, California Highway Patrol, the local fire chief, Fish and Game and the local game warden, and others.

Most of the meeting was informative and stuff we've heard before: Don't advertise when you're away. Don't leave your garage door open. Clear the brush and debris 100 feet from your house, etc.

One big plus is in our area all the agencies work together because none of them have enough staff.

But what I want to write about is how funny our resident deputy was.

He read the statistics and most crime had gone way down and there were no murders in our area in the last three yeas. Then he said, "We take all the bodies to the city." He named it, I won't.

He also remarked that "the city" was a crime capital. The mayor of "the ci…

Using Weather in Your Mysteries

No, I'm not advocating beginning a book with "it was a dark and stormy night" or any kind of weather report. However weather can add a lot to your story.

Lately, in the Central Valley we've been having our annual dose of Tule River fog. If you've never experienced it, it's the most frightening stuff to drive through. Sometimes you can only see a few feet in front of you and it doesn't matter if it's day or night. I drove to a city about an hour away starting at 9 a.m. Though I always knew what road I was on, I didn't really know exactly where I was. Unless a car was right in front of me or one was passing on the opposite side of the road, it was like I was on the highway by myself. On foot this can be even more unsettling. Just think of the potential for adding fog to a mystery plot. There is fog on the California coast too, but at a different time of year. I've used it to add suspense to my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, Angel Lost, com…

The Sophomore Slouch by Gerald Rice

Any first time author can tell you the layout of the next half dozen books he plans to write and the timeline in which they’ll be finished. He’s got characters in mind, what they’ll do, how the stories will end—hell, maybe he even has an idea for a spin-off series.

But that’s just after he’s finished that first novel.

Things happen after publication that derail all those lovely plans.

First there’s promotion. If a small print publisher has picked up your novel you’re going to have to do a significant amount of it yourself. That means calling up local bookstores to see if they’ll take your novel on consignment, finding places to do book signings, getting newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews.

There’s developing your own website and (hopefully) blogging every day. At the onset, it may not have seemed like much to do, but as you are drawn into the promotion machine you see just how time-consuming it can be.

But then there’s also what to write next, exactly. Suddenly, thos…

TV Watching

Confession time, I do enjoy watching TV. I'm picky though, and what I like most is to order a whole season of one show from Netflix and watch it that way.

Even bigger confession, when we're home, hubby and I watch General Hospital. It comes on at 2, an ideal time for us to take a pause in our day, put our feet up, and watch the most outlandish goings on, improbable plots, and things that would never be allowed in a hospital or police station which often make us laugh, or just say, "Oh, sure, that would happen." Despite all that, the actors are really good though I wonder sometimes what keeps them from bursting out laughing. Sometimes we even snooze through most of it.

Hubby likes to watch reruns--yep, the same shows over and over, his favorite is NCIS. We both like the Closer and loved Ghost Whisperer before it went off the air. I loved Medium, but hated the way the writers ended the series.

We're loving The Good Wife, but watching it on DVD sure beats staying up…

The State of Publishing

Goodness, things are changing so fast it's hard to keep up with it all.

Not too long ago, authors published electronically only (e-books) were looked down upon, now some of the e-book authors are the ones making the most money. I mean those who are either self-publishing e-books or are with a small e-publisher. Those who are with a big name publisher who is putting their books up as e-books are not making all that much money because the publisher is keeping the bigger percent of the profit.

And unfortunately, some independent bookstores are going under--except those who are doing other things besides selling books. Some of the big chain bookstores are going under too, even those who are doing other things besides selling books.

Chain bookstores are not having booksignings for anyone but big name authors. Independent bookstores are having booksigning for lesser known authors--and the ones who are doing so are hanging in there.

People who have Kindles and the Nook and read books on …

Global Belly Laugh Day


Today is the fifth anniversary of Global Belly Laugh Day. No kidding. According to the official website -- -- it’s listed in Chase’s Calendar of Events published by McGraw Hill. Why January 24th? Apparently, it’s the most depressing day of the year, again, according to the website, but they give no reason. Since Global Belly Laugh Day is celebrated worldwide (hence, the “Global” part of their name), I have to wonder just how depressing January 24th is in the southern hemisphere. After all, it’s summer down there.

Nitpicking aside, though, as global days go, I think it’s a great idea to celebrate laughter. After all, I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries, and my goal on January 24th and every other day of the year is to make people laugh when they read my books.

Some people think it’s a bit odd to have humorous mysteries. Mysteries are all about finding the heinous people who commit murder and mayhem and bringing them to justice. Se…

And the Winning Cover is...

And here it is--isn't it great!

In the book, it never mentions Stacey jogging at sunset, but who cares, she probably does and this looks terrific.

The book won't be ready until March, but here's the blurb:

As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?

PIcking the Best Cover for Angel Lost

Angel Lost is the next in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. Since I have a blog tour coming up in March and my tour guide does my book trailers and is anxious for the cover, it's time to have one. Of course I don't design the covers but I always give suggestions. The suggestion I had for this one isn't one that the cover designer went with, but the publisher sent me five possibilities.

One I didn't like at all. It had a woman jogging along the beach (the heroine does jog along the beach several times in the story) but the this person had on long pants and had long hair. My heroine has short hair and jogs in shorts. Nixed that one though I loved the ocean background.

Second one I didn't like had just the very muscular legs of a gal jogging on the beach.

Third had a gal with short hair jogging on the beach with what I thought looked very much like the rocky bluff in my books, so that was a maybe.

Fourth had footprints in the sand with someone walking off in the dist…

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

On one of the many lists I'm one there was a big discussion as whether or not to use prologues.

There are those who are adamant that there never should be a prologue, even if it's a back story, the book should begin with Chapter 1. There are even editors at publishing houses who frown on Prologues and might even reject a book because of it. A few readers said they always skipped the prologue.

Those in favor of prologues felt that it could set the tone of the book. In case of a historical period that it could give the background of that time and make it easier for the reader to get into the book itself. Others felt it was a good way to introduce something important to the story that had gone on years prior to the beginning of the book.

In the end, my feeling it all depends upon what you as the writer thinks works.

In my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Invisible Path, the first chapter could easily have been a prologue, but I chose to have it be Chapter 1 even though it is…

Swearing: The Lazy Writer's Choice

I know a lot of four-letter words.I’ve been known to send out a blue cloud myself. But is swearing the best way to express a thought?

One of my favorite shows--a well-written show--is “Deadwood”. The f-bombs are as deep as the mud on the town’s streets. It took some getting used to, but people talked like that back then, and though laced with profanity, the language is poetic in many ways. If they’d just used everyday dialogue filled with the “F” word, the “C” word and a whole lot of other words I wouldn’t have thought to string together, it would have been an unpleasant gimmick.
My late Great Uncle Joe said that swearing was lazy. “There are so many other creative words in the English language.” I think Uncle Joe makes a very good point.
As writers and storytellers, I think we have a responsibility to make an effort for our readers. One reason old movies such as “His Girl Friday” and “Philadelphia Story” are so enjoyable is because the screenwriter thought enough about us as an audienc…

More Wedding Photos

Everyone will probably get sick of the photos, but people took such good ones. And we haven't even seen what the wedding photographers took yet.

 These are my grandkids--Nathan, Jessi, Genie, and Nick. Nick and Nathan are Jessi's brothers, son Matt's kids. Genie belongs to my eldest daughter, Dana.

In front, left to right, Lori, youngest daughter, Lisa, middle daughter.
Top row: Dana, first born, Matthew, baby and father of the bride.

We had such a great time at the wedding. So much fun to be with everyone.


Nothing Like Killing Your Publishing Chances

A friend of mine is an acquisitions editor for a small publisher. She just rejected a manuscript that not only had grammatical and punctuation errors, but the author declared that he/she knew little about the computer, nothing about the Internet and did not intend to do any kind of promotion because that was the publisher's job. Not the exact words of course, but that is the meaning of what he/she had to say.

If that is the attitude this person displays to every publisher he/she submits to he/she might as well forget it, tuck the manuscript back in the drawer and take on a new hobby.

A computer is a writer's best tool. If you were a writer back in the 70s, things were far different. A writer's tools consisted of a manual typewriter, typing paper, carbon paper, an SASE (business size envelope with postage and your address) in hope that instead of a rejection letter you'd get an acceptance, a manuscript box with your address and return postage in the event the manuscript…

The Wedding

Top photo of course is the bride and groom, Jerry and Jessica, taking their vows. Second is my son dancing with his daughter. And third, Peyton and Kay'Lee two of my beautiful granddaughters. Lots of people took photos, but these are the first.

One hitch was the disc jockey had a flat tire, then got lost, so the wedding was delayed until he got there because he had the music for the processional. I offered to sing, but my granddaughter said "No, thanks, Grandma." ( I can't sing and she knows it.)

After he made it and got all set up, things went quite smoothly. It was a bit of a different wedding as it combined two cultures--ours and Mexican.

The grooms' family and friends contributed much to the wedding or it wouldn't have been so big. The groom's
mother prepared the food, a wonderful Mexican dinner with tri-tip, beans, rice and tortillas. Everyone jumped in and helped serve.

When it came time for dancing, the music was varied between modern and Mexican.

What About Those Cell Phones?

When this posts I'll be getting ready for granddaughter's wedding, but someone who commented on my blog about smiles, made me think about this subject. What on earth is so important to talk about that you have to have your phone plugged into your ear while your shopping? And what makes you think I care about what your granny did or someone's husband when I'm two aisles over? Why do people talk so loud into their cellphones?

Even stranger is when you are in an airport and an obvious business man discusses what sound quite important in a voice that can heard all over. What about business secrets? Aren't they afraid someone might steal that highly confidential plan that they just let 100 plus strangers know about?

I don't even know my own cell number, I always have to look it up. I don't turn my phone on until I need to use it or I want to read my email. I don't want people calling me to chat when I'm taking care of business in town. If it's import…

A Smile Goes a Long Way!

Even when you don't feel like it, smiling will brighten your day and possibly someone else's.

I actually get a great deal of satisfaction out of smiling at the grumpiest of looking folks I encounter when I'm out and about. When I smile at them I almost always get a smile back and what I've noticed is the big improvement in the person's looks.

I also smile when I could feel intimidated. I've smiled at the fiercest of looking young men gathered around a car in a parking lot and made a comment about what a great looking car. I've even complimented one of these fellows on their nice-looking tatoo. It is really disarming, and fun when they blink and smile back.

I've been in hotel elevators with folks who I know though I might be afraid of them. Instead, I've smiled an started chatting, and guess what? Yep, I got smiles and friendly words back.

No doubt some of these folks might have though I was just a crazy old lady, but who cares. I got a smile back an…

Changes I've Seen During My Time as a Writer

When I began writing as a kid, I wrote with a pencil on lined notebook paper. There was no such thing as a computer, only typewriters and hey were huge and you had to have a lot of strength in your fingers to make the keys work.

I took a typing class in Junior High, a half semester. And I have to say, that's one class that has served me well through the years. I only got up to typing 140 words a minute, but I bet if I took a test today, it would be much higher. In fact, I type too fast for Facebook sometimes and have to slow down so the words aren't all jumbled.

My mom got one of the first "portable" typewriters. It was in a case with a handle so you could tote it around. Typing was easier, you didn't have to pound quite so hard. She gave me that typewriter and that's what I typed my first books on.

When I became serious about getting published, my first book, a 500 page historical family saga, was typed over and over until there were no mistakes on a page. O…

On Blogging

Since I blog nearly everyday, I have to say I enjoy blogging. I love having people visit my site and read what I've written. I love it when they leave a comment. There are some who do so regularly and I recognize their names and I feel like I know them.

I'm a little surprised when a guest doesn't come and visit at least once when her or she is being featured on my blog. When I go visiting someone, I love to acknowledge those who bother to comment and answer any questions asked.

Yes, I use my blog to promote my own books at times, I like to give writing advice because I know there are many out there hoping to have a book published some day, and sometimes I just write about what is going on with me and/or my family. Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I have a big family and I like to write about them.

I would never use this blog to reveal family secrets or when someone isn't getting along with someone else, and yes, we are a normal family…

Meet Joseph B. Haggerty Sr.

This photo is when Joe won a prize in the Public Safety Writers Association's writing contest last July.

Marilyn: I asked about Joe's background and this is the answer--frankly I'm truly impressed.

    I was born in Washington, D.C.I’m married with six kids (5 boys and a girl).I have eleven grandchildren. I was a D.C. police officer for 35 years ( 3 yrs in uniform, 24 as a vice detective and 8 years as an instructor at the police academy).In the mid 80’s I was chosen to be a senior investigator with U.S. Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography.I am now with Office of the Inspector General for Amtrak as a Special Agent doing investigations.I’ve sworn in a deputy U.S. Marshall six times (twice with Amtrak, once with the FBI,twice with U.S. Attorney’s office and once for the U.S. Attorney General.I’ve a been a guest lecturer on Prostitution and Pornography and the sexual exploitation of children at most of the maj…

Creating a Detective

Creating a Detective by Karen McCullough
I’m sure there was a time in my childhood when I didn’t read, but I can’t remember it. By second grade I was reading Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, initiating my lifelong love of mysteries and detective novels. A few years later I graduated to raiding my family’s library and discovered Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, among others.
There have been others since-lots of them. Stephanie Plum, Jack Reacher, Tempe Crabtree, and others have given me fascinating and fun adventures.
When I began writing, mysteries were a natural. In my career in trade publishing, I’d realized that a trade show would make a great setting for a mystery novel. The stakes are high for the exhibitors and attendees, the time is short, the place is constrained normally to one (large) building, and the cast of characters limited to a group of people who’ve often known each other for a long time.
The only question was: who would be my detective?
If this was…

Lots of Excitement Going on Around Our Place

I It's countdown time. Jessica and her fiance, Jerry are going to be married next Saturday night.

We've had lots of weddings in our family--because it's a big family. One thing that I've noticed is how harried the mother's of the brides get--even more so than the brides sometimes.

First granddaughter to marry was Melissa. Her wedding was in a church, the reception at the fairground. Her other grandmother prepared all the food. (When my kids were getting married, I was the one who prepared all the food so this was a great joy to me.) Her mom, my daughter, hardly knew what was going on or who came to the wedding. Thank goodness there were photos so she could see who all came.

I think Genie's wedding came next. Genie is most organized person so she did all the wedding planning, with help from her Aunt Lori (my youngest daughter). The wedding was at her church and the reception at a country club. Everything went off extremely well, but her mom (my eldest daughter) c…

I'm Off Visiting Again

This time I'm visiting Beth Hull's Blog and she did a terrific job interviewing me.

As anyone knows who follows my blog, I like to interview authors and find out about them and their books. I also like to visit other blogs and be interviewed. So when I'm invited, you can be sure that I'll certainly say yes.

It was fun doing this interview. Hope you'll check it out and see what she asked and how I answered.


What Writing Has Given Me

Yesterday I confessed that writing hadn't brought me fame or fortune--but there have been many pluses along the way, besides the actual joy of writing.

At my first mystery writing conferences, probably in the early 80s, I met Mary Higgins Clark and Sue Grafton. Since these conferences were small (30 people at most) and in a campground setting we not only heard writing tips, but there was ample opportunity to visit. Year later, I saw Ms. Clark at a cocktail party during Edgars week and she graciously said she remembered me from that long ago conference.

For ten years I was an instructor for Writers Digest School. While my students learned, my own writing skills were polished. Because I was an instructor for WDS I was asked to travel to Maui and be an instructor for the Maui Writers week long retreat. Of course I said yes, and brought my hubby along with me. I worked hard at the retreat--but I met some great people and at a lot of wonderful food.

I've made so many good friends o…

Why I Write

Is it for fame and fortune? If so, I would have quit a long time ago. I made more money working at the piddly though fulfilling jobs I had in the past. I've been a telephone operator, pre-school and day care center teacher, and owned and operated my own licensed residential facility. And yes, I wrote during the times I had those jobs too.

Even though I have nearly thirty books in print, many of them on Kindle, I'm not a well-known author. I do have a small following for both of my mystery series, but it's a long way from any kind of fame. When I receive my royalty checks, sometimes I have to laugh they are so small.

So, why do I do it?

I can't seem to help myself. When I've finished writing a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery I begin wondering what's going to happen to her next. Are she and her preacher husband going to continue getting along, or will there be bumps in their marital travels as there have been in the past? Will her son, Blair, make an appearance…

I'm Going Visiting Today on Nevet's Blog

If you'll hop on over to you'll get a little writing advice--well maybe more than a little. I think I got carried away.

In case you don't know who Nevets is, he writes wonderful reviews for the books he likes, and he liked Invisible Path. He also won a contest to be a character in my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which will be out sometime next fall--it's called Bears With Us. You'll have to get the book to find out which character I gave his name to.

He won the contest because he made a comment on the most blogs on my blog tour for Invisible Path. This is the second time I've had a contest like that, so I need to put on my thinking cap and come up with another idea for the next blog tour.

Oh sure, I'll be on another one, this time for Angel Lost, the next in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. I'm anxious to see what people think about this one because I departed a bit from the standard mystery.

Anyway, don't for…

Rememberting my Son, Mark

Mark Shannon Meredith was our third child and first son. He was born back in the day when you didn't find out what sex your baby was until he or she was born.

He was born on the 28th of December, soon after I arrived at the hospital. (I finished watching the entire episode of Perry Mason though before I was willing to leave.)

My mom and dad had our girls because they'd both come down with chicken pox and the doctor said it would be best for them to stay away until they were well.

Hubby was so proud to finally have a boy and ran around handing out cigars. (Do they still do that? He gave doughtnuts out for the girls.)

Mark was a really good baby. Of course I have lots of great memories of his growing up years. When he was around three, we had a birthday party for him and at first every gift he opened was clothes. When he got to the first toy he got up, took it into his bedroom and we didn't see him again until it was time for the cake and ice cream. For a long time we celebr…


Let's talk about friends today. My kids like to tease me about all the friends I have on Facebook. Of course I don't know them all, but some of them, even though I've never met them in person seem like real friends. They take the time to comment about the good things that happen in my life as well as the bad. I try to do the same. I consider many people who visit my blog as friends-and those who have been kind enough to let me be a part of their blog.

Years ago when I was in high school, I hung around with the same girls that I went to grammar school with along with a few additions. We weren't the popular kids--but we had a good time together and that's what mattered.

I used to always have a best girlfriend but as time went on I found I had a lot of friends who were there for the fun times, but disappeared when the hard times came along. I learned from that and have tried to be the kind of friend who is there for the tough times too.

My very best friend is my husba…

Attention New Kindle, Nook, Other E-Reader Owners

Happy New Year to All my Followers! For those of you with new Kindles, I hope you’ll try some new authors on Kindle and the Nook and other e-readers. I’ve heard that the New York best sellers are the ones that are being downloaded. This is really frustrating to those of us who have been e-book pioneers. Take a chance, try some of us.
You can find my books: the Tempe Crabtree mysteries available for Kindle and other e-readers by checking by my name, Marilyn Meredith. The latest is Invisible Path. A tip, these mysteries can also be found at the publishers website  I also have a romance with a supernatural twist called Lingering Spirit on Kindle. And for my Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novels, you need to find them under the name F.M. Meredith—the latest being An Axe to Grind.
Happy Reading to all of you.

Happy 1/1/11

That was fun to write.

Our big celebration yesterday was to go to town, eat lunch and go to the movies. We saw True Grit.

It reminded me a lot of the first one but with better acting. Yes, I know that may be heresy to some of the old True Grit fans and the actors, but John Wayne always played John Wayne in movies. That's the way it was and how everyone liked it. Jeff Bridges has become a fine actor--and he's able to really get into the character he's playing. He made a perfect Rooster Cogburn.

Frankly, I was never the True Grit fan my husband was so one the way home, he pointed out the differences between the two movies. I've heard that this new one conforms more to the book--including much of the dialogue.

I've not been the fan of westerns that my husband is, but I'll watch anything that is a good movie. True Grit is well-done and if you have nothing to compare it with, you should enjoy it. There is a bit of language, and plenty of violence--after all this is …