Monday, January 31, 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 having a character wear a certain color all the time can add to the personality.

When you're writing, think color--all different shades of color. It will add so much to your writing.

Marilyn
Books by Marilyn

Sunday, January 30, 2011

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 behind it is a guest house. The daughter of the family and her husband were staying in the guest house. The couple became friends with a man who ultimately became the daughter's lover and murdered her husband.

The next murder I heard about happened higher in the mountains at a lodge. The female owner of the lodge had become the lover of one of her employees, a handsome Indian. Her husband hired a killer who shot them both. The woman died, the Indian survived. Eventually the killer tried to blackmail the husband and was shot for his trouble. The whole story came out then and the husband went to prison.

One of the wealthier landowners was going around collecting rents from his various renters and had the money in a roll in his pockets. One of the male renters killed him, took him and his truck and left both on a country road. The murderer spent the money in town on silver belt buckles, expensive boots and the like. It didn't take long for the authorities to figure out "who done it."

I've used bits and pieces of the second murder in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.

Within the last year, two women who attended our church died within hours of one another under what many of us think were suspicious circumstances. However, the deputy who found the bodies declared them death by natural causes and that was that. No big investigation despite the obvious coincidence and missing medications at one of the victims' residence. This can happen because in our county deputies are also coroners.

Yes, I'm going to use this in a book--in fact it's the one I'm writing now.

Marilyn
Books by Marilyn

Saturday, January 29, 2011

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 city" was there and protested, gently, of course. The local deputy's boss was there and explained that most of the crime in "the city" was due to gangs. The shooting being gang members shooting at other gang members.

Gang members do visit the area (especially in the summer because we have some great camping, fishing, and swimming spots a bit higher in the mountains) and it was stated that they leave courtesy of the CHP.

Our deputy told about an occasions when a suspect was being chased through the nearby low income housing complex and people came out and sat in their lawn chairs to watch.

Someone asked, "How far do I have to let someone come onto my property before I shoot them?"

Our deputy said, "How good a shot are you?" He went onto say that we have every right to protect ourselves and our property--but make sure the person or people are really a threat, that he doesn't want to shoot a group of Jehovah Witnesses.

He also said he likes to greet new people who drive though the area--especially those who look like trouble. His greeting: "Welcome to our town. This is a rural area and everyone has guns and practices using them."

I went to the meeting to hear what everyone had to say, but I also was looking for material for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series since Tempe is the resident deputy of the fictional town of Bear Creek. I certainly got some, but Tempe would never say the things our resident deputy did. He was definitely entertaining.

Marilyn
Books by Marilyn

Friday, January 28, 2011

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, coming out in March.

A dust storm can do much the same as it blocks your vision and can make you feel like your isolated even though you may be surrounded by cars--or the bad guy is hot on your trail.

Snow is the big weather problem back East as I write this--and being snowed in with the wrong people or trapped in your car on the highway can also give you plenty of ideas for suspenseful plots.

Rain can bring the threat of flooding--again more ideas to incorporate into a book.

But what about when the weather is good? Sometimes it is--how can you use that in a mystery? A contrast is always a good tool: even though everything seems pleasant and the weather is marvelous, it's hard to keep one's mind on the threat at hand.

And from nice weather let's move on to summer, what if our story is going on during a heat wave? Think of how cranky you feel when it's too hot. You take a cool shower and come out and feel just as hot as you did when you went in. How do you treat others around you when it's hot like this? What kind of a threat can you think up that would be complicated by the temperature being too hot?

No matter what's going on in our lives, weather affects us and it should also affect your characters.

Marilyn
Books by Marilyn

Thursday, January 27, 2011

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, those next six books don’t seem as shiny as they used to or maybe they do, but another idea has suddenly taken cuts in line. Maybe someone has seen your stuff and wants to collaborate. Maybe your publisher wants your opinion on something.

When writing my first novel it was extremely easy to focus. I had no side projects, no one looking for me to meet any deadlines or vying for my attention. All I had to do was write. Now as I’m winding down the promotion thing for The Ghost Toucher and turning the page to my next project I find myself hovering in the first third of the sequel to TGT. I wrote two short stories and had them published preceding the publication of my novel, started a website, chocked it full of content and do my best to blog every day and set up various accounts in Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook, etc., etc. My novel is on consignment in about a half dozen stores, I’ve done signings in a few places and I’ve chipped in on some stuff my publisher needed help with. Oh yeah, and I was on TV a few days before Halloween, talking about my book.

All that has mounted up to a tremendous amount of time not writing The Golden Ones, my next novel. A couple months ago my wife bought me a word processor and I have been able to do a good deal of catching up as I can write much faster with it than in my notebook, but what may on the outside look like a lackadaisical approach to writing the next one is actually me biting off and chewing a tremendously unexpected amount.

Aside from the sequel I am currently blogging a story on my website, formulating a new story and gearing up on a collaboration. By my third or fourth novel I should have it all worked out.

The Ghost Toucher

http://www.feelmyghost.webs.com/

Thanks for being a guest today, Gerald. I enjoyed reading your post. And your books sounds intriguing, come back and visit one day and talk about it.

Marilyn

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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 until 11. I've tried to watch it at the regular time but never could see the end of a segment because I always fell asleep.

My sister tapes all of her favorite night time shows (she has five TVs she tapes on) and then she watches them all in the daytime. That's far too much trouble, and I never really learned how to set up the VCR to tape at a particular time. As you can guess, neither of us have a TIVO or DVR. Mainly because we hate learning how to use all these new-fangeled contraptions. I feel proud of myself that I can work the DVD player.

If nothing else is on Sunday afternoons, I've been known to sit through two or three Lifetime movies--but a lot of them are too much alike--especially when the beloved husband turns out to be the bad guy out to kill the wife, or the wife's best friend is having a secret affair with the husband. It's too easy to figure out how all these will end.

My TV watching usually comes when I'm too tired to do much of anything else--but I would like to see something that's entertaining.

What TV shows are your favorites?

Marilyn
Books by Marilyn

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

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 the phones are loving this new way to read.

Others are arguing there is nothing like the touch and smell of a paper book.

Personally, I like them both. I have a Kindle and I love it when I know I'm going to have to wait somewhere like a doctor's office, an airport, etc. I love books and have a stack waiting to be read.

Frankly, I mostly buy books for my Kindle these days except, and it's a big except, for those books written by authors who are my friends. I still love owning autographed books.

I also love how my own trade paperback books look and I hope when Angel Lost is available some folks will buy it with its wonderful cover--but I'll be happy when people buy an e-book copy too.

I have no predictions as to how this is all going to continue--I'm just paying attention.

No matter what, I'll keep on writing my mysteries.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Monday, January 24, 2011

Global Belly Laugh Day



GLOBAL BELLY LAUGH DAY

Today is the fifth anniversary of Global Belly Laugh Day. No kidding. According to the official website -- http://www.bellylaughday.com -- 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. Serious business, right?

I won’t disagree. However, the classic “fish out of water” story by its very nature is humorous. And what is an amateur sleuth mystery if not a fish out of water story? In ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series, Anastasia is the crafts editor for a women’s magazine. She doesn’t know the first thing about murder and mayhem, yet she finds herself plopped down right in the middle of both. On one hand, she’s the prime suspect in the murder of the magazine’s fashion editor. On the other, she’s being shaken down for fifty thousand dollars by her dead husband’s bookie. Not your normal day at the office for someone far more comfortable with pompoms and felt squares than hit men and Glocks.

And if that weren’t enough, dead hubby has left her up the wazoo in debt AND stuck with his curmudgeon of a communist mother and her devil dog. Add two teenage sons, a mother who thinks she’s descended from Russian royalty, Catherine the Great white Persian, and a Shakespeare quoting parrot, and how can you not laugh as Anastasia stumbles her way through trying to catch the real killer to prove her innocence?

ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and Kirkus called it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Since we all could use a little more laughter in our lives, and since today is Global Belly Laugh Day, I hope you’ll give ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN a try.

***
Lois Winston is an award-winning author and designer as well as an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.

In celebration of the release of ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, Lois is doing a blog tour throughout January. You can find the schedule on her website, http://www.loiswinston.com, and at Anastasia’s blog, http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the tour will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email Lois privately at lois@loiswinston.com to let her know you’ve entered. In addition, she’ll also be giving away an assortment of crafts books on various blogs, so look for those if as well.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

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?

Marilyn

Friday, January 21, 2011

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 distance. Looked good, but heroine never walked and the person had on long pants. Okay, but not what I wanted.

The one publisher and I both liked best is colorful, gal jogging looks like my vision of Stacey. Soon as I can I'll post it.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

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 the only chapter written in first person and from a character who is falsely accused of murder later in the story. The purpose of this chapter is to give some insight into this character. The rest of the book is told in close third person from the POV of the heroine and sleuth, Deputy Tempe Crabtree.

Tell me what you think, do you like prologues or do you think the book should start with Chapter 1?

Marilyn

For a copy of Invisible Path as a book or e-book go to http://www.mundania.com or Amazon.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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 audience to put some effort into great dialogue. I realize that swearing in movies wasn’t acceptable at the time, so think of some current catch-phrases from a modern movie, words that stay with you long after the film has ended. 

“You had me from Hello.”  Not “You had me from effing Hello.”

“Show me the money!”  Not “Show me the effing money.”

If the words are strong enough, the emotion high enough, and the characters well-drawn, the profanity punctuation isn’t necessary. 

I know a play reviewer who was chastised for being a prude when she commented that a certain play relied too much on profanity. Playwriting is the pinnacle of good dialogue, and peppering everyone’s vocabulary with swear words WAS lazy. This writer took the easy way to show that a character was angry or upset or frustrated. Instead of creating great dialogue, he chose to fall back on the lazy way to express emotion. 

A gang-banger is probably not going to say “Shoot” or “Darn”, but wouldn’t it be refreshingly original to show a gang-banger who didn’t swear? Who spoke eloquently about his darkest deeds? That’s a character that would stay with me. 

When profanity enters the picture, my respect for the writer goes down.  I assume that they didn’t work for a creative word choice and just threw in a swear word. 

Alluding to foul language can be funny, such as when comedy skits bleep over the swear words and the bleeps keep on coming. You get the gist that this character is extremely foul-mouthed without being pounded over the head. The idea is funny. The reality is not. It’s like Alan Alda’s line in “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. If it BENDS, it’s funny. If it BREAKS, it’s not.

Jacqueline Vick
www.jacquelinevick.com
(Jackie Vick, a friend I made on the Internet and a member of Sisters in Crime is guest posting today, and I totally agree with what she has to say.)




Tuesday, January 18, 2011

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.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Monday, January 17, 2011

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 was rejected and you wanted it back, and a larger box to mail the whole thing off in the first place. Writers Digest Market so you could find the publishing houses looking for your kind of book along with their guidelines. You needed to buy a new one every years as things changed as quickly as the book came out.

Most of what I just wrote has been eliminated because you can find it all on the Internet, submit your manuscript as an attachment to email, and find out exactly what each publisher wants.

And now to the critical issues, many if not all publishers today ask for a marketing plan along with the submission. This means they want to know how you plan to sell your book if they publish it. They want to know if you have a webpage, blog, use Facebook, Twitter or other social networks as well as what you might do in-person. The publisher is going to put notice of you book on its own website, maybe even have a place a reader can purchase there, it will be on Amazon and other major bookstore sites, including whether or not it is also available as an e-book. The publisher may also send it out a few places to review--but will also want to know if you plan to get reviews and where.

Telling a publisher you aren't willing to market at all is like saying,"I don't really want you to publish my book."

Hard to believe in this Internet day and age.

Marilyn

Sunday, January 16, 2011

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.

We stayed until until the cake was cut and passed out, but I faded after that. When we left everyone was still having a great time.

So now I have another grandson-in-law.

Marilyn

Saturday, January 15, 2011

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 important they can leave a message for me at home. Oh, yes, my family has my number, and if I'm on a trip I'll have my phone on most of the time. If I don't, whoever calls can leave a message and I'll get back to them. If I'm not at home, I probably can't do whatever it is they want anyway.

When I'm visiting with folks in person, riding with them in a car, or out to lunch with them, I think it's rude when they answer the phone and carry on a lengthy conversation while I'm sitting there twiddling my thumbs. If I'm not as important as the person on the phone, why did you ask me to come to lunch? I could've found someone else to spend time with who would enjoy just talking to me.

End of rant. I think cell phones are fantastic for emergencies and certainly helpful when you want honey to bring something home on the way from work, but goodness spare us the rest of the time.

Marilyn, who is looking forward to a great day.

Friday, January 14, 2011

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 and that's all I wanted.

So today, when you're out and about, find people to smile at and see what happens. Believe me, it'll make you feel better too.


Marilyn

Thursday, January 13, 2011

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. Of course I had to have a copy, so I used carbon paper with each of these pages. (There was no such thing as a Xerox or any kind of copy machine.)

Sending off this manuscript to a publisher meant writing a cover letter, putting it in a box with my own address and enough postage for it to be sent back to me, and then the whole thing into another box addressed to the publisher and mailed off. Unfortunately, that book inside the box came back to me many times. After about five times, it began to look a bit shabby and I'd retype the whole thing again--often rewriting as I did so.

Before this book actually found a publisher, I'd written another and started the whole process again. And in the meantime, we moved from southern California to the middle of the state. After nearly thirty rejections, I finally received an acceptance letter and my first book was published.

The one I'd written first, took a bit longer.I also graduated to an electric typewriter with a correction ribbon. Oh, I thought that was so modern and so much better. Plus, I could take the manuscript to a place where they had Xerox copiers and I threw away my old carbon paper.

I began writing mysteries and a friend said I ought to buy a computer, it would so much easier than using a typewriter. I purchased a computer through a catalog. When it came, the instructions were so complicated, after trying to figure it out and feeling like my brain would explode, I sent it back to the company. I knew someone who sold computers and I bought a Kaypro with the understanding that he'd show me how to use it. What a wonderful invention! It had two floppy discs, one to write on and one with the writing program. Things went well after I learned what seemed like a secret code to operate the whole thing. And oh, yes, I got a printer to go along with it. I could make my own copies.

Of course the Kaypro kept improving and I bought newer and easier to use models. Then computer stores and better computers came on the scene and I kept upgrading as I kept writing.

Somewhere along the line, I hooked up with the amazing Internet. Ah, email, what fun was that. Surfing the web was amazing.

I'd begin to write mysteries and studied the Writers Digest Market book and found publishers who might like them. The first in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series was accepted by one of these publishers. The book was edited, the best job I'd ever seen. Then I learned that he planned to publish the book on the Internet and call it an electronic book. What on earth was that? How could people buy it?

As it turned out, his process was far too complicated and didn't work at all. And even if someone did manage to figure out how to buy the book, I was the only one, the only way to read it was on the computer. Who would ever do that?

Then I ran into a group of other electronically published authors who formed an organization called Epic. Finally, I had people to talk to (on the Internet) about electronically published books and I found other publishers for my books. By this time I'd written lots. An E-reader called the Rocket came along and made it much easier to read an e-book, though e-books weren't selling as well as we all hoped.

Finally, these wonderful new e-publisher started doing print books along with the e-books. That was great, then we had "real" books to sell at book signings and other events.

Along came the technology called Print on Demand which made it even easier for books to be printed and only the amount that was needed at any given time. Fantastic!

Other e-Readers came along, and then Amazon came up with the Kindle and all sorts of e-readers came along and we're up to the present.

What is going to happen next? I have no idea, but it's sure been exciting so far.

Marilyn

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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 so there are secrets and problems at times. I'm a great believer in not hanging our dirty laundry out for everyone to see. (One of my dear departed mom's favorite sayings.)

But, basically, I am a writer and I love to write. When I was growing up I kept a daily diary which I protected from prying eyes. Writing a blog is like keeping a diary except I don't want it to be kept secret.

If you'd like to be a guest on my blog, all you have to do is email me and we'll work out a date and the other details. mmeredtith@ocsnet.net

Marilyn

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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 major colleges in the Washington Metropolitan area and for the U.S. State Department, U.S. Postal Service and the National Center Missing and Exploited Children.
  • I was honored with an award “Heroes of the Heart” from the organization “Children of the Night,” for rescuing children from prostitution.

Marilyn: When did you know you wanted to write?

Joe: In my younger years I was a movie buff.  I didn’t read much.  I used to make up movies in my head and cast my fellow co-workers in the various roles.  My darling wife got me into reading a lot more.  Two book really influenced me toward writing.  One was “The Stand,” by Stephen King.  He created such great characters in that book.  I’m not a big King fan, but the characters he created in “The Stand” were fantastic.  Another book I read called “Cathedral,” by Nelson DeMille was excellent.  The flow of the story and the characters were so enjoyable and exciting.  I’ve read all of Joseph Wambaugh’s books and I just felt like I could do that.    

My biggest hang-up with writing was I was so afraid that no one would want to read what I wrote.  I began by writing poetry.  It was well received, I started writing some short stories and articles for our Union paper, “Simulcast.”  I got a lot of positive feedback so I decided to try and write a novel.  I was working two jobs, but one them afforded me some time to write.  I was so fed up with the Hollywood representations of prostitution and pimps, I wanted to write what the street was really like.  I started three times, but could never get past the second chapter.  Then one night everything just fell into place and I knew exactly where I wanted to go and how to get there.  It took me over a year to write “Shame,” and it was all in long hand.  Twenty-two years later, “Shame: The Story of a Pimp” was published.

Marilyn: What book are you working on now?

Joe: I just finished my second book, which is tentatively titled “Pimp-El,” which stand for pimp eliminators.  It’s about two private investigators, who specialize in finding juvenile runaways.  If the child has been victimized by a child predator, the investigators offer the family an extra service that will guarantee that their child will not return to the predator.  It tells the story of how the investigators locate these children, how they eliminate the predators and how the various police departments try to identified who is doing these eliminations.  I’m still in the process of trying to locate a interested publisher.

I am about to start my third book, which will be about a male prostitute who becomes a professional informant for various police department across the country.  This is based on a real person, who was a source of mine and has passed away, but it will be fiction.

I also have another novella that I’m thinking about expanding into a novel.  It’s about four young women who got involved with a pimp and the subsequent trial that they all testified.  This too is based on a real case, but again I will write it as fiction.  I’m changing a lot of what happened to them because I feel to write what really happened would just further the exploitation they suffered.

Marilyn: What inspired you to write what it is you are or have written?

Joe: Hollywood and television have portrayed prostitution in a light that is so far from the truth that I just could not say or do something.  The daily amount of violence, the sexual exploitation of children, the control these pimps have over these women is so misrepresented by movies and TV.  The psychological damage that is done to these children is tremendous.  The Stockholm Syndrome the Battered Woman Syndrome, these are everyday occurrences within prostitution, not to mention torture and slavery.  Charles Manson was arrested for pimping in Denver, Colorado, and you saw the kind of control he exercised over is followers. 

When I was doing these types of cases, I had to fight tooth and nail with the U.S. Attorney’s office to get them to prosecute pimp cases.  The policy in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia was they wanted at least two victims before they would open a Grand Jury investigation or more forward on a prosecution. 

I interviewed well over 5 thousand prostitutes that came through D.C.  I didn’t try to arrest them, I tried to convince them that if they had trouble on the street with customers or pimps they could come to the police, specifically my partner and I.  In doing this and identifying the pimps and their habits and modus operandi, I learned a great deal about the culture of prostitution in the United States.

Marilyn: What are your writing habits?

Joe: I try to carry a notebook with me wherever I go.  When I have down time, I observe where I am and if it’s an interesting setting or one that I think I could use in a story then I write as complete a description of the setting as possible.  Frequently I get idea for a story, usually a short story or I am prompted by the writers’ group I belong to.  We have contests on various types of writing.

Before I start a story whether it’s short story or a novel I want to know in my head where I want to go.  I may not always get there the way I had originally planned, which is part of the fun of writing.  Sometimes you go where the writing takes you and it’s not always where you thought you would go.

I also don’t worry about punctuation or grammar when I’m into a story.  After I’ve got the story down and am satisfied with the beginning and the end, I’ll go back and make the necessary corrections and make sure the middle has the proper flow and that I didn’t get ahead of myself or create the same character twice.

Marilyn: What is most important in your life?

Joe: I will be 65 years old in a couple of weeks and I hope to retire for good in another year.  I just want my wife and I to have a comfortable retirement and to be able to help my kids and grandchildren if they need it. 

I hope to be writing on a full time basis and to have a publisher who will be a good listener, an open mind and great marketing skills.

Marilyn: What are your writing goals?

Joe: I want to find a publisher that will be interested in the kind of books I write.  I want to get more education on writing and expend on the topics I write about.

Marilyn: What do you do for fun?

I still like to watch old movies, football and baseball.  I am a scrabble nut.  I play at least one game a night against the computer.  I love to travel, but I’m more interested in seeing parts of the United States that I haven’t seen than Europe or Asia.

Joe: What brought you to join PSWA?

Joe: Quintin Peterson told me about PSWA.  Quintin is a fellow police officer from DC and when I checked PSWA out, I was so excited.  I thoroughly enjoyed being at the Las Vegas conference last year, even though I got very sick and missed one whole day of the conference.  I fully intend to attend this year’s conference and maybe I’ll have my second book available by then. 
    
Marilyn I want to thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog.  Hopefully I can get a picture to you, but I have been having trouble with my computer lately and had to do a recovery on it.  As a result I lost, photographs and some programs to download pictures.  I am on Facebook and my picture is there, if anyone is really interested, but I would suggest they come to this years conference and see all of us in person.  

Marilyn: I found this photo of Joe on my computer from last year's conference. And I echo what he has said, the PSWA conference is great. Check it out at http://www.policewriter.com

Thank you Joe, for this great interview and what a great job you've done.

 

Monday, January 10, 2011

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 going to be a series, it would likely need to be someone on the management staff of one of the large “market center” buildings or convention centers where trade shows are normally held. I knew I wanted my detective to be fairly young, but competent and confident.  She had to be in a position where she could spend a lot of time with the exhibitors, where it would even be part of her job to handle “problems” that came up during the show.

I thought about making her the Center’s director, but I felt that would actually constrain her with too much administrative work. I considered having her be the head of security, but that didn’t seem to fit the personality I wanted for her. I needed her to be someone who would seem non-threatening to the exhibitors, someone they could talk to and share their problems, complaints, and worries. At the same time, she had to have some authority to get things done while using her judgement to solve problems.

I finally decided to make her the assistant to the director, the person the director relied on to handle problems because she was good at it.

That put her in a position to know the businesses and people she dealt with well enough to make her credible. It would also make it part of her job to solve the kind of issues that might lead to murder.

Finally she had to be intelligent and possess a strong sense of integrity and desire for justice.  Thus was born Heather McNeil, assistant to the director of the Washington DC Commerce & Market Center, and the protagonist of A Gift For Murder, the first of my Market Center Mysteries.

About my guest: 

Karen McCullough is the author of a number of novels in the romantic suspense, fantasy, and mystery genres, including A Question of Fire, Shadow of a Doubt, Wizard’s Bridge, and Witch’s Journey. Her novella “Heart of the Night” is part of the Shadowed Hearts series of Gothic romance novellas, and “Vampire’s Christmas Carol” was published in the Beneath a Christmas Moon anthology of paranormal Christmas stories.  More information on her books can be found at http://www.kmccullough.com.

The heroine of A Gift for Murder, Heather McNeil, is assistant to the director of the fictional Washington, D.C. Commerce & Market Center. In that role she gets to mediate disputes between feuding exhibitors, field complaints about dirty carpet, deal with malfunctioning popcorn machines, and generally provide a sympathetic ear to unhappy clients. Finding the body of a murdered executive during the biggest show of the year isn’t part of the job description. Nor is trying to find the murderer, but from various things she’s heard, Heather is pretty sure the authorities are off-base in their suspicion that the executive’s wife killed him. If she doesn’t identify the real murderer herself, the odds are that person will get away with it and possibly kill again.
A Gift for Murder is projected as the first in a series of “Market Center Mysteries,” with additional books and stories to come.  A website for the series is now open at
for more information about the books, settings, and characters.

 Thank you, Karen, for visiting today.
Marilyn

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lots of Excitement Going on Around Our Place

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) confessed to be being a nervous wreck.

Merenda had her wedding outdoors at a gorgeous church camp where she'd gone as a kid and worked at when she grew up. The surroundings were gorgeous. Lots of the family were in the wedding--but oh, was it ever hot! I think her mom wasn't quite as nervous as when her sister got married.

Only one grandson has married that I know of, and it wasn't a big wedding.

We didn't get to go to Jessica's sister's wedding either.

We  have great-grandkids getting up to that age, and one that is engaged.

But the countdown is for Jessica and Jerry. This wedding is to be held in the Elk's Lodge. This is a merging of cultures--as a lot of wedding is being sponsored by Jerry's Hispanic relatives and friends. Our pastor (who is also my son-in-law) will do the wedding part, but much of the wedding will have a definite Hispanic flavor. I'll report back once the knot is tied.

Marilyn

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Off Visiting Again

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

http://bethhull.com/2011/01/07/nifty-author-marilyn-meredith/

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.

Marilyn

Friday, January 7, 2011

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 over the years, writer and readers. One of our favorite conferences is Mayhem in the Midlands and we've made friends we look forward to seeing every year, some who live in Omaha, and some who come just for the conference. Mystery author Radine Trees Nehring and her husband John are a couple we look forward to spending time with. Mother and daughter Benay and Sara Weiss from Texas are avid mystery readers we love to go restaurant tasting with, and the only time we get to see them is in Omaha. There are many, many more, of course.

I've flown to places I'd never gone to if it weren't for mystery conferences. I flew to Anchorange for Left Coast Crime and met two darling Native girls and kept in touch over the years. When I returned for Bouchercon, I spent a few days with one and met the whole family.

Together, hubby and I have gone to conferences all over the U.S. visiting cities we'd never have seen otherwise, always seeing old friends and meeting new.

I flew to New York and roomed with a gal I'd met on the Internet for Edgar week and Malice right afterwards. Since then we shared a room in San Francisco when we went to Bouchercon.

I've had the opportunity to give talks about writing and my books to libraries all over Central California, spoken and taught at writing conferences, Sold my books at book and craft fares from Sacramento to Temecula.

There is so much more, but I think you get the idea that my life has been enriched because of being a writer.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

I can't name everyone I've met

Thursday, January 6, 2011

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, or will we just hear in passing what he's doing in his pursuit to become a firefighter? What horrendous murder will happen in the town of Bear Creek? Will everything be peaceful on the reservation? And the ideas starting popping into my head. The one that will be out this fall, Bears With Us, began from things that were happening with my grandson who is a police officer in a mountain community.

The same thing happens with the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Right now I'm reading the latest to my critique group and I have no idea what will happen in this beach community next or which police officer and his family I'll be showcasing, but I know that I will start having ideas about what might be happening in that little town on the coast. In the book that will be out soon, Angel Lost, Officer Stacey Butler is planning her wedding with Detective Doug Milligan--and of course, all will not go well. The one I'm editing now will feature Officer Gordon Butler. He's become a popular character among my readers and I thought it was time he had a starring role.

In some ways, these people in my head are more real and distinct than my family members. I know how each of them think and will react in certain situations. How can I leave them?

So that's why I keep on writing.

If you are looking for my books, use my name for the Tempe books and F.M. Meredith (also my name) for the Rocky Bluff P.D. books.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Going Visiting Today on Nevet's Blog

If you'll hop on over to http://nevets-qst.blogspot.com/ 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 forget, jog on over to http://nevets-qst.blogspot.com/ to see what kind of writing advice I'm giving. Be sure and leave a comment, so I'll know you went there.

Marilyn
http://fictionforyou.com/

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

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 celebrated his birthday on the 28th of June. One of his birthdays we put a tent up in the backyard and all of his friends slept over, except sometime in the night, they all brought their sleeping bags inside and finished up on the living room floor. When he became a teenager he told start celebrating on the right day.

He was in Cub Scouts and Indian Guides.

By the time he was 12 he had his first job as a dishwasher in a friend's restaurant. That was something about Mark everyone remembers, though he had a difficult time in school, he always managed to have a job. When he graduated from 8th grade, he wanted to learn how to read better and he paid for tutor.

During the summer months he often went out on a fishing boat really early in the morning (I had no idea he was doing this for a long time) and he'd filet fish for the fisherman and got paid for doing it.

While still in high school, he worked as a janitor on the Hueneme Seabee base.

He got married and became a father while he was still a teen. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last and he no longer was able to see his son.

Some of the many jobs he had were being a janitor in a hospital (and in this particular hospital they were short-handed one night, only one nurse on duty and he assisted with a birth), made doughnuts at Winchell's, he worked as a carpenter and repairman for a condo complex, did landscape work at a golf course, drove a bus for traveling camp for developmentally disabled children and adults, drove a bus for a sheltered workshop, worked as staff for several care homes, was a fork-lift driver and mechanic for Wal-Mart Distribution Center, and his last job was as a fork-lift driver for a corrugated box company.

He met a wonderful woman with three grammar school age children and they married. He loved those kids like they were own--and even became a very young grandpa. They bought their own home, tiny little place, but oh, how he loved it. It had once been a walnut grove with still lots of walnuts on it and he learned how to harvest and sell them.

Church was important to him, and for awhile he sang in the choir. He had a good voice and could remember the words to all his favorite songs. He was also an artist, able to draw most anything.

One of Mark's biggest attributes was he was happy with whatever he had. He never drove a new car, but he loved the old cars and trucks he did have and knew how to work on them. He and his wife didn't have a lot of possessions, but what they did have he enjoyed. He never envied anyone.

He began having back trouble and finally, after visiting several doctors, he learned he had a form of cancer called multiple myeloma. There is treatment (chemo) but no cure and most people die within 7 years of diagnosis. Mark was one of the youngest ever to have this form of cancer. He underwent the treatment which was really hard on him.

Because his wife had to continue working to keep their medical insurance, he came to stay with us from Sunday night through Thursday. I cherish those days and nights he was with us. When he felt good enough, we'd take him to the movies during the day and out to lunch. He couldn't eat much, but he did love going out to eat.

Mark's wife, his oldest step-daughter and I were with Mark in the hospital when he finally left this world. For the first time since his illness, he looked at peace. My prayers were answered, Mark was healed.

One thing I know, is one day I'll see my son again.

Marilyn

Monday, January 3, 2011

Friends

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 husband. He's the one I can say anything to about anything or anybody. And as my children have grown into adulthood, they've become friends too. I have a great time when I'm with them.

I've made a lot of friends along the way who are there for certain things like my writing friends. There are certain female writers that I know I'll have a great time with whenever we are together. I don't get to see them often, but when we have the chance to be in the same place at the same time we have a wonderful time.

There are some people who are fans of my books and one in particular has become a special friend. I know whenever I have a booksigning in our local area she will make an appearance. We also get together a couple of times a year for other occasions.

Then there's my critique group friends--I love them all. I consider them my first editors, but they are also friends and we always share what's going on in our lives for a few moments before we get to work.

Last, but certainly not least, are the friends in my church family. Many of these I can count on for prayer when it's needed, for great exchanges during Bible studies, and for being there at the most difficult of times.

Thank you for being my friend.

Marilyn

Sunday, January 2, 2011

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 http://www.mundania.com  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.

Marilyn

Saturday, January 1, 2011

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 a Western, but it is entertaining.

We plan to continue our celebration today by going to the movies again to see The Fighter. Oh, and today we'll eat Thai food, our favorite.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Marilyn