Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ways to Make Your Settings Memorable

When researching a place that you plan to use in your next book, pay attention to details. I don't mean that you should make the description of a place sound like a travelogue, but there are simple things that you can note and put in your manuscript that will deliver the essence of the place.

Decide on what time of year the story will take place--or the particular scenes and find out what the weather is like during that time period. If the area is prone to hurricanes, do you want to add a hurricane to the story? Or a tornado? Or a dust storm? Or a snow storm. Weather can add a lot to a plot. And if you are going to use something like that, then of course you must do some research as to what goes on during an event like this. What do people experience, how do they feel, what do they do?

Be sure to include colors in the descriptions of your settings. Too often people leave color out. When I see some of the wonderful photos of skies on Facebook, I often jot down the colors shown in the sunset, the storm clouds, the sunrise.

Sounds are important. Does the clock in the village square signal the time? Or does a nearby church/cathedral have chimes that play at the quarter hours? This could be important to the plot. An old car going down the road sounds different than a brand new one. Going back to storms, the all have significant sounds that go along with them--except snow which can be really quiet. When someone is walking through snow or mud, how does that sound? The sound of an ocean is very different from that of a river. Sounds should be part of the backdrop of your story.

And don't forget smells. When you near the ocean you can smell the salt water. A dead body smells after a few hours. A flower garden has wonderful scents. Every house has it's own smells. This morning I could tell my neighbor was cooking bacon. And people have their tell-tale smell: perspiration, sweat, perfume, shampoo. It's up to you to come up with the descriptive words to go along with whatever smell you're writing about.

I'm sure there's more I could say, but this gives you the basic idea. Let us experience the setting through the senses just as your character does.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Book Launch for Raging Water

What a good time we had at the book launch. It was held in the parlor of the Springville Inn. The Bear Creek Inn in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries is fashioned after this Inn.

We had a wonderful cake, three flavors, with a depiction of the Raging Water cover in the frosting.

Sheri Smith, whose personality is used for the character, Miqui Sherwood, was there and even signed books along with me. Many of her friends came as well as some others who are fans of the Tempe Crabtree series.

I talked about how the book came about and why Sheri's essence is one of the characters. We had a great time visiting and I answered a lot of questions.

When it was over, many of us stayed on at the Inn and had dinner together. So much fun! This is one of the pluses of being an author.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Moroni Deception by Jack L. Brody


“The DaVinci Code Meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

I asked the question I always want to know, "What inspired you to write the book?" This is what Jack told me:

 There were two things--first, and to a lesser extent, it was an economic decision.  I'd written screenplays for a number of years, and had made several half-hearted attempts at a novel, but I'd always found it so much harder than writing a screenplay (probably because I was more of a movie guy, and I'd seen so many that the film formula was practically imbedded in my DNA), so with the couple tries I made, I had tended to give up pretty easily.  

And speaking of the screenplays,  I came very close to producing my second one--an offbeat romantic comedy, and I had commitments from an up and coming director, a name actress, along with several companies that were willing to finance half the film.  The problem I kept running into, however, was that by the time I found a company to come up with the second half, the first one, each time, had gone belly up.  After several years of this (and probably getting jerked around more than I realized at the time), I decided to just concentrate on my writing, and produced 5--okay 4, pretty good screenplays. 

The thing I kept seeming to run into with my screenplays, however, was the old Catch-22-- that to sell a screenplay you have to have an agent, and to get an agent you have to have sold a screenplay.  I won't go into a lot of details, but in my attempt to navigate around this agent obstacle, I sent my very best screenplay directly to two different director/producers.  Both wound up "borrowing" very large and significant portions of this screenplay (although it's not yet been proven in court, since it's so hard to find an attorney that will take these cases since they're so hard to win), and they went on to make two different movies about 10 years apart. 

The good part, I guess, was I got to see quite a bit of my work up on the big screen. The bad part was, of course, I never saw the first dime.  The second film even went on to take in over $100 million, which was sadly ironic, because I had always jokingly referred to that script as my "$100 million dollar screenplay."  Those repeated episodes really kind of took the wind out of my sails and soured me on the film industry (or at least the seamy underbelly part of it), and so I thought, "Maybe the next time I need to try to write a novel," believing that it would possibly be easier to find an agent who could then also represent my remaining unsold screenplays.   

 My true inspiration, however, and what sparked the initial idea for the novel (although the story has almost completely changed from the way it started out) was after reading  Jon Krakauer's "Under The Banner of Heaven."  It's really great, if you haven't read it, and I think I even read that Ron Howard was going to direct the movie based upon the actual events.  From reading it, I got a brief education about the history and founding of the LDS Church-- although I should point out that most of the modern day stuff his book also dealt with, largely had to do with one of the LDS's rather extreme polygamous offshoots--more the "Warren Jeffs" branch of the Mormon family tree if you will.   

When I saw how much potential there was for weaving in some of the more interesting elements as part of a novel, I did about a year and half's worth of research in my free time before I ever wrote the first word (of course, I was taking tons of notes and printing off reams of internet research).  I  also should mention, I actually started this whole process over 5 and a half years ago--well before Mr. Romney made his run for the Presidency, which I thought I would bring up because I've been questioned several times about the timing of the release. 

The other thing that I have to 'fess up to is what lead me to having an interest in reading Krakauer's book--an episode of a little known show called "South Park."   Like a lot of people, I had never really given the religion that much thought and had always just kind of thought of it as one of the lesser know Protestant denominations, but the episode, "All About Mormons," actually did spark my initial interest in examining the religion much closer.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing that people know that this novel probably never would have come about had it not been for a South Park episode.  And of course the other ironic thing is that the South Park creators then went on to write and produce the Tony award winning Book of Mormon.

About the book: Michael Chenault, award-winning investigative journalist with the New York Times, is rousted in the middle of the night by NYPD detectives and accused of the bizarre murder of a complete stranger. After clearing himself, Chenault finds that Martin Koplanski, the retired history professor he'd been accused of murdering, was likely killed for a mysterious Mormon relic long thought to be just a myth.

Twenty-four hours later, Chenault receives an email with a photo of the recently murdered wife of Presidential candidate, Brockston Ratchford. She too appears to have been ritually killed in the exact manner as Koplanski, right down to having the same cryptic character scrawled in blood across her forehead. With way more than just a hunch to now go on, Chenault heads out to Salt Lake City, the site of the Ratchford murder investigation, to find out what, if any, connection there is between the murders.

With the help of a beautiful young reporter he meets along the way, Chenault comes to learn the dark family secrets of a rising political star, along with the rather strange but true history of the Mormon church. As he pieces the story together of what appears to be an ever-growing conspiracy, Chenault is pursued by The Brothers, two murderous zealots who will stop at nothing to retrieve the Mormon relic Chenault is also trying to find. What Chenault eventually discovers is that what he's uncovered may not only affect the outcome of the next Presidential election, but decide the fate of an entire religion--if he can manage to stay alive.

In the tradition of Raymond Khoury, Brad Meltzer, Dan Brown and Steve Berry, The Moroni Deception is a cleverly conceived, twisting tale of deceit, and political and religious intrigue by a new master of the conspiracy thriller.

Read the first chapters:

About the author:
Jack Brody is a writer, ex-military, and an avid traveler. After his Army stint and then deciding to pass on law school, he went to film school, wrote screenplays, and held a number of jobs which ran from everything to working for a newspaper for one day, to film production, to then going into real estate (with at least five others along the way).  He's fascinated by history, politics, and architecture, all of which play a part in his novels (yes, he already has two more in the works). When not writing, he can often be found hiking with his two faithful dogs, occasionally breaking out the old BMW bike for a ride though the mountains, or playing volleyball or bar trivia with his friends.  He divides his time between his home in the Southern Appalachians and wherever his passport will take him. After reading Jon Krakauer's bestselling "Under the Banner of Heaven," he was inspired to undertake a full year of research in preparation for the novel. Taking what he'd learned, along with a bit of imagination, the result was the conspiracy thriller, The Moroni Deception.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Last Day for Free Copy of No Bells on Kindle!

 Today is the last day to get No Bells free on Kindle. Remember to look for it under the name No Bells by F. M. Meredith. Try it--bet you'll like it.

How about a 21-bell-salute for NO BELLS by F.M Meredith? This latest addition to the Rocky Bluff Police Department saga welcomed me back into the lives of people who have seemed like fascinating friends since I met them in the first Rocky Bluff PD story. Truth be told,I cared about these officers and their families from the beginning. Finding them tangled in knotty problems similar to those real police officers may face on a daily basis gives me the feeling I’m privy to secrets the public in general is never aware of. I’m a fly on the wall; a hidden witness to secrets previously unknown; an invisible sprite watching crime happen. And then I am the invisible ride-along as RBPD officers work their way toward the “Who/Why/How solutions.Ah,what a gift to a reader!

NO BELLS is an especially moving addition to this saga, because Officer Gordon Butler leads the story. Gordon is not a slick, macho,hard-driving cop. He’s vulnerable, sometimes bumbling, (though still a good, try-hard officer). He’s often the victim of teasing and jokes from fellow officers. At times it seems like the poor guy just can’t catch a break. And, as you may well have heard along the grapevine, this time–just when it seems he’s finally found the love of his life–she becomes a prime suspect in a murder case.
Can you guess how he reacts? Of course!  Ignoring – - – - and high water, danger,and and warnings from senior officers, Gordon leaps on his white horse (literary license here),and rides out to solve the crime and clear the name of his lady love. WOW. Grab your steed and come along for the ride!  -- Radine Trees Nehring

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No Bells, Still Free on Kindle!

Long the butt of the police department's jokes, Gordon Butler never seems to catch a break. He gets sent on the oddest calls and manages to end up in some rather strange situations. It looks like his luck might be changing, though. A routine traffic stop introduces Gordon to Benay Weiss, a local hair stylist. He thinks he's finally found the love he's been seeking. But when Benay's best friend, Geri, is reported missing and then found dead, Benay soon becomes a prime suspect. Gordon puts his job on the line to prove her innocence.

I've read all the books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. Gordon has been my favorite character since he was introduced. I am so thrilled No Bells spotlights this great character.

The point of this series and what F.M. Meredith has always done well, is to show how the job impacts family life and vice versa. Even though we've gotten some glimpse of Gordon's personal life in previous books--the way his marriage broke apart, his falling in love with a fellow officer, and his living with Detective Doug Milligan--the reader didn't get a chance to see a whole lot of Gordon outside of his job. This book changes all that. In addition, we get to see Gordon from his own point of view. He knows the guys laugh at his expense. He knows they don't think he's the brightest bulb in the box. You don't ever see him stick up for himself or try to change their opinions.

In No Bells, we see Gordon going against the advice of his peers when he decides to try and prove his girlfriend's innocence. The evidence against Benay is mounting, but he just can't believe she's guilty. The reader has to keep turning the pages to see if Gordon is rewarded in the end.

This book has a lighter tone than some of the other books in this series. There's action, but it's not constant. The main focus is on the murder investigation of Benay's best friend instead of there being several different cases to be solved, as in some other books in the series. We still see a lot of the regulars and their lives, but Gordon is definitely the focus.

I can't wait until the next Rocky Bluff P.D. book comes out next spring. 

Remember, No Bells is free today and tomorrow!

This is a great way to try out the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Great Review of No Bells, Free Today on Kindle


A cop's life isn't all gunfire, sirens and squealing tires. In F.M. Meredith's NO BELLS, cops in a small Southern California beach community knock on doors the old-fashioned way. Investigating a murder, they suspect and question everyone who knew the victim.

NO BELLS reminds me of "Barney Miller," a low-key but thoroughly entertaining 1970s TV series. The setting was a squad room of New York City 's fictional 12th Precinct, located in Greenwich Village, with an ensemble cast working separately and together. In that small, confined setting the viewer got to know the players.

It's the same in NO BELLS, with an ensemble cast in a small setting that lets you get to know the players. Meredith takes her time unfolding the story, with careful attention to detail. In this community where nobody's business is really private, the answers are there for the asking. The trick is to ask the right questions. At the same time, the cops struggle to maintain some semblance of a home life.

Even in an ensemble some characters stand out. A female cop named Stacey is brought into the case because her feminine intuition picks up on the bits and pieces of human behavior. It pays off. A witness almost everyone overlooks provides damning clues when Stacey gains his confidence.

The most sympathetic character is Officer Gordon Butler, a hard-luck cop who gets calls ranging from an underwear thief who poops on a dining room table to a seagull who swoops into a beach bar and dive bombs the customers. Gordon's wife left him for another officer, and his new lady love is a suspect in the murder case. He's willing to risk his job, his friends and his life to prove her innocence.

I was smiling when I closed the book, and I do love an ending that makes me smile. 

No Bells is free today through Sept. 26th. Don't miss out!

F. M. Meredith, aka Marilyn Meredith