Showing posts from July, 2011

Subtext Through Dialogue and Action from PSWA Conference

The delightful Holli Castillo presented an interesting segment on sub-text. I'm going to give a few of her points here.

Sometimes dialogue may mean something different than the words.

May display some relationship issues when there is a romantic subplot, perhaps some strife going on.

In a thriller, you might introduce the bad guy early, but find out more about him later.

Plant clues and seeds as you go along.

Instead of a character answering a question, could ask one, or change the subject.

Use subtext to cut down on some of the dialogue. Could be displayed through body language.

When you set things up, be sure they pay off.

A character may say something that seems innocent, but when more information is given, the meaning of the message is changed.

Men don't always pick up on social clues.

Holli suggested taking a screen writing class so you can see your book as a movie.

Use the same character traits all the way through the book. If you know your character well, using the traits will bec…

A Plus and a Minus About Doing Book Reviews

Lately I've done a lot of book reviews--and I haven't purchased any books.

I was given a wonderful book by one of the men at the PSWA Conference, an ARC of a thriller that won't be available until November. I read it and wrote a review to appear when it does comes out.
At the conference I purchased member Robert O'Hanneson's Possum Belly Queen. I had two reasons for doing it, one was the title, the other is the book was published by Oak Tree Press, one of my publishers. I'm only about 1/2 way through but it's a good--but definitely not a cozy.

Lately Simon and Schuster has been sending me mysteries--really good ones by big names even one of my favorites--but they are coming so fast I can't keep up with them.

I also belong to Amazon Vine's review program. I was invited and decided to do it. You get to choose from more than books, 2 items at a time, and you must review them. I always choose food because you can eat some and write a review and it doesn'…

How to Do it All/Time Management

If you think I'm going to give you some wonderful secret about how to manage your time, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. What I am going to do is tell you how I do it.

When I was younger, I did far more than I can manage now. I've learned that my mind works much better in the morning then it does in the later afternoon or evening though so I center my biggest jobs and those that require more intelligence soon after I'm up.

I've always been a person who showers and dresses right after I get up--which is usually around 4:30 or 5. I'd certainly like to sleep longer, but it doesn't happen. I started the getting right up and dressed soon after I had kids. With children, you never know what the day may bring, who'll you have to take or pick up from school, or take to the emergency room. Already being dressed helps in these situations.

When I had my care home, my ladies left for work around 6:15 a.m. Licensing liked to make unannounced visits arou…

Announcing Great Grandbaby #12

Julius Matthew Meredith was born on 7/19/2011 at 8 pounds 4 ½ oz.His father is my grandson, Nick Meredith. Nick lived with us from the time he was 11 until he was 20. We enjoyed having him. This is his second child, he also has a daughter named Kay’Lee who is 8. I think he named his son after a character in a football movie, Remember the Titans. When he was around 15 and 16 and even older he watched that movie over and over. While in high school he was a quarterback and played other positions too for the Porterville team. This makes the 12 great-grandchild for hubby and me. Our oldest great graduated from high school this year. A proud great-grandma Marilyn

Sometimes I Get Overwhelmed

My goal is to write or have a new post on my blog every single day. I thought I'd done one for today, but obviously I didn't.

I make lists every single day about what I need to get done. Actually, I have a small tablet by my computer and it's an ongoing list, I cross of what I've done and add what needs to be done. Most of it is writing stuff.

At the moment I got write 2 blogs. I need to do one for the Stiletto Gang and another for Make Mine Mystery. Both are blogs that I appear on twice a month.

I need to write a letter to Barnes and Noble in Las Vegas as they owe me for four books that were purchased while I was speaking to the Sisters in Crime group that met there on Mother's Day.

I've already written a short article about the PSWA conference for my chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Then there is the not so small chore of toting up receipts of what I made selling books and other writing related items and what I spent going here and there to sell books. It's a lot …

Bringing Fictional Characters to Life

One of the presentations at the PSWA conference was on characterization and given by author Michael A. Black. Here are some of the notes I took:

Who are your characters? Do you have a picture of each one? (Some cut pics out of magazines for their characters.) It's important to have a good description and you need to know what each one is like.

Give the physical characteristics early on, before the reader has a chance to form his own mental picture that might be totally different from yours.

You should have a back story for each character--a character sketch. Things like: Name, where he grew up, what was his home like, who were his family members, who is still living and he interacts with, what kind of work does he do? Hobbies? Etc.

Always a good idea to keep a list of characters' names so you don't repeat.

Maintain a character bible including minor characters.

Important to know the motivations of each character: greed, anger, jealousy, revenge, pride, to cover another crime, etc…

Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Meet Mary Martinez, author of Classic Murder

Marilyn:Thanks for visiting today. I absolutely love your photo. Looks like you love life.I hope you’re enjoying the Mystery We Write Blog tour. Can you tell everyone a bit about yourself?
Mary: I grew up in a small town in Utah on a forty-acre farm. We had Black Angus, chickens, dogs and peacocks. Yes, I said peacocks. And I have a bunch of their feathers in my office. I’ve lived here my entire life, and I love it.
I am married to my best friend and together we have six kids. We have both been married once before, so we have the Brady bunch, three boys and three girls. And now we have seven grandchildren. They are the best. We have such fun with them. We have Papa and Nana nights where everyone comes for dinner and play.
My husband and I love to travel, and one of our favorites, is Italy. I gather a lot of fodder for my books by travel and friends.
Marilyn: Mary, please tell us about your newest release.
Mary: Thanks for having me. I am having fun on the blog tour. It has been a lot o…

Balancing Your Time

Authors complain a lot about how much time must be spent on promotion and how that takes away from their writing time.

In this day and age with so may writers self-pubbing and their books appearing on Kindle and Nook and other e-readers, if a writer doesn't promote he or she will not even be noticed.

So what's the answer? It's a dilemma I face every day. When you write two series a year, as I do, you have to spend at least half of your writing time producing a book.

As any writers knows, writing the book isn't just sitting down and cranking out the chapters. A lot of thought and research must happen first. In my case, I start developing characters and what I think will happen to them.

Once I'm actually writing, often I have to stop and do more research. When the first draft is done, taking about three months, I read it chapter by chapter to my critique group and then fix the things they've suggested and other things I've found along the way. When that's don…

What are the Most Important Things in Your Writing Space and Why?

Carolyn J. Rose said:
A few days ago I took a look around my office and was amazed by the amount of stuff packed into that 10x12 space. I’d be at it for days if I had to pack up and move to a less high-maintenance home—something we consider when we’re overwhelmed by encroaching foliage, stampeding dust bunnies, and windows with enough smears to make a CSI technician rethink his career.“Don’t worry,” the optimist side of my brain said, “A move is years away. Housing prices are still in the toilet and you’re a long way from downsizing.”Downsizing!?!That means not only moving, but also minimizingAnd that’s a word that can strike terror into the heart of even someone with the habit of going through closets each spring and finding new homes for clothing, books, cooking utensils, and Christmas gifts from Aunt Belinda that can only be described as “unique.”But, terrifying as the thought of winnowing, packing, lifting, lugging, and unpacking may be, someday we’ll bite the bullet and move int…

Keith Bettinger, End Of Watch

Keith Bettinger's book, End of Watch, doesn't take long to read, but it's a real tribute to police officers everywhere. I've been a friend of the Bettingers for several years and I hope you enjoy this interview I did with him.
Marilyn: Hi, Keith, we had such a great time at the PSWA conference. You always do such a super job taking care of all the hotel arrangements and any problems that might pop up. What I want to know now, what do you do when you aren’t working on the conference?Keith: I try and keep busy.I spend quite a bit of time on my next book which I am writing with a murder victim’s son.I work around the house trying to keep the Nevada dust out of it.I also take care of my three dogs as well as my son’s. I like to participate in adult education courses at the College of Southern Nevada.Marilyn: Tell us a bit about your background. When did you first decide you wanted to be a police officer?
Keith: I was in high school in the late 1960s.Viet Nam was going on at…

Rowena Through the Wall - Inspired by Anxiety!

By Melodie Campbell
Sometimes, a girl just needs a good adventure.
I was sitting at my desk at work having a meltdown one day - okay, not a total meltdown, but a pretty significant panic attack, as anyone totally overwhelmed by work, kids, and parental caregiving will occasionally do.  I looked up from my desk and thought – if I could walk through that wall over there into another world, I would do it right now.  That night, Rowena got her start.
Simple choice really:  I could run away from home, or I could create a lovely world of my own where all the characters had ripping adventures.  That’s why I write – to provide readers with a fun escape for a few hours.
Rowena is a college instructor who falls through her classroom wall into an alternate world that resembles ancient Britain.  But it’s not our ancient Britain…the history differs somewhat and that makes all the difference.  When you deal in alternate world fantasy, you can make the adventure more fantastic.  You can include magic…

Mystery We Write Blog Tour: The Inconvenient Corpse by Jackie King

The Inconvenient Corpse is a great title and I asked Jackie to tell us what inspired her to write this book, and here she is, Jacking King.
Good Morning Marilyn, I’m delighted to spend a day with you and your and Readers. Thanks so much for inviting me into your world of musings. Nothing more exciting to me than to be privy to what a writer is thinking.
You asked me what inspired me to write my book. What a fun question! My writer’s mind (and perhaps yours too) is a bit like the kitchen sink…everything drains through it (or flows, if that’s more pleasant to your sensibilities). Unusual thoughts and ideas and stories flash through my imagination. This has been true as far back as I can remember. My earliest memory (I must have been about three) was lying in bed imagining myself to be a princess who lived an adventurous life. Sometimes I had beautiful blond hair and sometimes I had beautiful black hair; never red, my natural color. (God forbid we women should like anything about ourselves…

Saturday at PSWA

Another frun and productive day!

We learned what people are doing to promote their books and about all the big changes in publishing from authors and publishers. We also heard what turns off editors and publishers in
manuscript submissions.

Holli Castillo explained about adding subtext to dialogue to layer your story.

We had deputy coroner who showed us slides of a crime scene and had us analyze it. And he passed around an old skull with bullet holes in it and again made us figure out what had happened.

At the end of the day too experts (because they lived it) told us about working undercover, Great stuff and if either one needs a career change, acting would be a good choice.

In coming days I'll share more details. Right now it's 5:24 a.m.andI'm working with the lights off so I don't disturb those who are still asleep.


Friday at PSWA

What a great day! Guru Tim Dees entertained us before we started with a Power Point disp;ay of cop cartoons. He also prepared great intros for the speakers on the screen. It added a lot. Thanks, Tim!

We began with evryone introducing themselves and giving an elevator pitch if they have a book or wer writing one. What a great array of folks...cope.FBI. OCS, CIA. retirees of different services, lawyers, forensics, probation, Red Cross. firefighters,and more.

First panel had various experts telling us how moviea and TV get it wrong.

I don't have the program in front of me so may forget someone so will only mention a few.

Ellen Kirschberg. uthor and polive psychiatrist was terrific. I'll share more in future blogs.

Christopher Scott Wyatt, college professor, ghostwriter and much much more explained about screenwriting for TV and movies,

Mike Black, retired cop and a mystery author gave great pointers about creating believable characters,

We had a heart rendering panel on firefighying wit…

Despite nightmare all went well!

Why is it so hard to find the entrance to the hotel part of the Orleans Hotel? We had trouble last year too. From then on it was easy.

We registered and got our room key. Interesting, we don't have a number on our room. Found it by process of elimination.

Went to the convention center and the registration table was right there. Hubby and I put out name tags and people started coming. So much fun seeing everyone.

Good food and conversation at the party tho hubby and I faded fast.

Loking forward to tomorrow.


Registration for PSWA

After lunch at my sister's, hubby and I will head to the Orleans Hotel and get registered.

At 3 p.m. we'll head up to the conference area and get the registration table set up with name tags etc.

For me this is one of the most exciting parts of the conference. I get to greet everyone as they arrive, meet people I only know by name, and see old friends. Some will hang around for awhile, others will leave and come back for the cocktail party and goodies. That's when a lot of catching up and getting acquainted will happen.

By this time though, I'll be fading fast. I hope to take some pictures that I can share later.

And for those of you who wonder about letting everyone know I'm not at home, we're leaving behind my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter and her husband and a whole bunch of dogs.


When I get back to the room I plan to blog a bit about what actually happened.

On the Road Again

The plan is early rising and getting on the road.

We usually drive as far as Bakersfield and make a rest stop at McDonald's and get a tall cup of our favorite vanilla flavored iced coffee to carry us up over the Tehachapi mountains and then out onto the desert for the long, long drive to Las Vegas.

There is always traffic on that road, but not so much during the week--and we always avoid weekend travel.

Lunch is usually in Barstow if we can make it that far before having to stop. We have a favorite Chinese restaurant there.

We'll land in Vegas in mid afternoon if all goes as planned--and descend upon my good sisters and brother-in-law. It's always great to catch-up with them. She used to live only 8 minutes away and I miss having her so close--though email and Facebook help.

This is the best place to stay in Las Vegas.


Packing for PSWA Conference

The Public Safety Writers Association's Conference is right up there with my favorite things to do.
As program chair of course I do have a lot of responsibility and things I have to take that will keep the conference running smoothly.

For the conference I'm taking the list of registered attendees, my copy (plus a few more) of the program, name tags for everyone, time cards to remind people when their speaking or panel time is up. I've also tucked in a book for the raffle. We aren't charging anything for the raffle, it's just going to be a fun thing to add to the conference.

I'm also taking some copies of my own books (two titles) to have for sale at the book table.

And of course you always need clothes. We'll be at my sister's the day before and day after which calls for different clothes than what I'll wear at the conference itself. No, I don't get "dressed up" but I like to have clothes that will look good in photos and not the same outf…


by Sharon Ervin

My private pilot’s license was brand new when a friend crashed in a forest in southeastern Oklahoma. Searchers on foot and horseback tracked the weak signal from the plane’s transponder to locate her. Critically injured, she died leaving a husband and three young daughters.

Weeks later, a commercial pilot crashed a small plane, again into heavy woods. The transponder’s signal was weak, then gone. The search lasted days before the wreckage was located and the bodies of the pilot and our congressman’s two teenaged children recovered.

Those incidents prompted much grief long before they stimulated book ideas.

I wondered if tiny devices similar to those airplane transponders might be in our future.
AFTERMATH, my eighth published novel, began there.

Of course, such devices are now available in dog collars, children’s jewelry, and even implanted. Our heroine’s interest preceded that technology.

In AFTERMATH, Anna Fulenweider, a gutsy newspaper reporter, was investi…