Sunday, June 30, 2013

Better Late Than Never

I thought I had a guest blogger for today, but when I emailed her I learned that she had decided not to visit me today because her book was no longer available. So rather than do nothing, I've decided to bring everyone up to date on what's been going on in my life.

First, I can't seem to get nearly as much done as I used to. Even though I am retired from a very time-consuming profession, I seem to have less time than I ever did. Why? I have no idea. It almost feels like the hours have shortened.

Saying that, I do manage to accomplish quite a bit--but anything that uses my brain I like to get done in the early morning hours.

So what do I need a non-fuzzy brain for? Writing, of course.

My main writing is my work-in-progress, which right now is the next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel. I love being in Rocky Bluff and finding out what is happening to all the folks who live there--especially the police officers of RBPD and heir families. And right now, a major disaster is going on. Fun to write, not to fun for the people who live in my imaginary beach communty.

Of course I like to have a new post on this blog every other day. If I have a guest coming up, it means putting the post and the accompanying photos on the blog--and I like to go over it and fix any typos that might be there. (Wish people I guested with did that for me--seems like I always miss something.)

It won't be long until I receive the edits for my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Spirit Shapes. And as usual, I'd like to do a blog tour which means I need to get buy planning on. That also isn't easy. First it means deciding on a safe time period--by safe, I mean when books will actually be available. I suspect it will late summer, early fall. (Not really good enough for planning, is it?)

I already have some in-person events set up, not specific for Spirit Shapes, but if the book is available, of course I'll be promoting it along with my latest Rocky Bluff P.D., Dangerous Impulses. I write that series as F. M. Meredith.

If you haven't tried the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series yet, Raging Water is the latest. Tempe is a Native American resident deputy of the Bear Creek and the surrounding mountain area.

Both books, along with the rest of the series are available as ebook and trade paperbacks from Amazon.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Me in My Characters

by Carolyn J. Rose

Let’s admit it. When it comes to creating characters, most of us “borrow” from real life. And often we borrow from close at hand.

We borrow from relatives, mixing Aunt Molly’s determination with Uncle Joe’s sense of humor and a young cousin’s ability to turn every recipe into a culinary disaster. And we steal from friends, putting Cynthia’s curls, Brenda’s expressive hands, and Joan’s eyes onto a character named Phyllis.

We collect attributes from co-workers: the woman who pops her gum to punctuate each sentence, the man who cracks his knuckles after every phone call, the office manager who rules like a despot, the salesman who never turns off the smarmy charm.

We pick and choose characteristics from strangers we encounter: the parents at the next table trying to find something on the menu their kids will eat, the bickering couple in line ahead of us at the grocery store, the angry man who can’t wedge his enormous carry-on case into the overhead compartment, the woman on the bus with the black eye.

We also mine deep character traits from ourselves. And why not? We’re familiar with those traits, and familiar with the benefits and consequences of having them.

I’m determined—or pigheaded as my father often said—and prone to impulse and to trying to do things myself even when I shouldn’t. When I wrote An Uncertain Refuge, I wanted to create a female protagonist who had those traits. And I did, but I gave Kate Dalton more confidence and physical presence than I have because, at the start of the book, she makes a rash decision. She jumps in to balance an unfair fight—a big man intent on killing a small woman. I wanted it to seem plausible that she could win that fight and possible that she also had a chance in the conflict at the end of the sequel, Sea of Regret.

When it came to No Substitute for Murder, a comic cozy, I wanted a woman who loved dogs, tended to be sarcastic, wasn’t all that physical, was a shade uncoordinated, and who might need to be rescued. Fortunately I meet most of those criteria and, although I usually rescue myself, I’ve been in situations where a little help would have been . . . well, helpful.

When readers meet Barbara Reed again in No Substitute for Money, she’s embarking on a program of water aerobics and having many of the same problems I had when I started—including difficulties with muscle coordination and self-esteem issues brought on by wearing a bathing suit.

Elizabeth Roark in A Place of Forgetting is 19, the same age I was in 1966 when that story takes place. Like me, Liz grew up in a small town and longs to escape, but feels awkward and unsure, and is relatively na├»ve. Unlike me, she doesn’t always blurt out what she’s thinking—at least not at the beginning of the story. That was a challenge. I’d have to think, “What would I say?” And then, “What would Liz want to say but not say?”

More challenging was creating a male protagonist, Dan Stone. I wanted him to be tormented and obsessed by the death of his wife, so deep in an emotional dungeon that he wouldn’t see what was in front of him. I’d been there once or twice and knew how hard it was to break out. I knew that my job and relationships suffered because of it.

Unfortunately, I went a little overboard in Hemlock Lake and let him wallow too much. Some reviewers called Dan whiny and weak and not much of an investigator. Others said they were impatient with him. Looking back as I make notes for a third book in the series, I see their point. Dan came out of his funk and got more focused in Through a Yellow Wood; he’ll be more in charge in book three, tentatively titled The Devil’s Tombstone.

What traits have you put into your characters? Stop by and tell us and we’ll put your name in the drawing for a copy of No Substitute for Money.

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of several novels, including Hemlock Lake, Through a Yellow Wood, An Uncertain Refuge, Sea of Regret, A Place of Forgetting, No Substitute for Murder, and No Substitute for Money. She penned a young-adult fantasy, Drum Warrior, with her husband, Mike Nettleton.

She grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She founded the Vancouver Writers' Mixers and is an active supporter of her local bookstore, Cover to Cover. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

Carolyn J. Rose
Mystery Writer

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Working on the PSWA Conference

It's almost time for the PSWA Conference to begin.

As usual, there have been a few blips.

The biggest one this year was having one of my keynote speakers having to cancel. Certainly not his fault, family emergencies happen to all of us. Fortunately, one of our members was willing to step in and fill his spot.

We have more people coming than ever before--57 as of today. Some signed up at the last minute. Not a problem unless they'd like to be on a panel which took some juggling.

This was the last day for anyone to send their information and pictures in to be in the program book. Anyone else is out of luck. Of course we've sent out reminders.

What I've learned is that not everyone checks/reads their email in a timely manner. This ought to be a priority for anyone who is in the business of selling their own books.

This is my last year to be in charge of the program for the PSWA conference. My own choice because I think I am getting too old and it's time for someone else to get the experience.

I'm proud of what I've done. When we started right after the reorganization of the Public Safety Writers Association, we had 12 people come to that first conference. For the next one, 16 attended. Then into the 20s and the numbers steadily climbed.

I wanted to make it like some of the better writers' conferences I'd attended over the years and with some similarities to mystery conventions. I wanted it to appeal to writers who had law enforcement backgrounds and wanted to improve their writing skills, and to mystery writers who wanted to learn more about the ins and outs of law enforcement.

My goal was to have a good balance between learning more about writing and about law enforcement.
We've had some great panels and speakers on both subjects.

I'm ready to turn over my conference chair to someone else.

It's been a fun job and I'm proud of what I've done. And I'm looking forward to enjoying my last conference as the chairperson.


Monday, June 24, 2013

How Much of Yourself is Revealed in Your Books?

Certainly, I am not any of the characters in my books, nor are they based on me.

As far as Deputy Tempe Crabtree is concerned, we have but one resemblance to one another. Certainly it is not in ethnicity--I have no Indian blood whatsoever. My ancestors came to the states in the mid to late 1700s from places like England, Holland, Scotland and Ireland. Or at least that's what I've been told, and in some instances searching genealogy has proven.

I don't look anything like Tempe either, I'm short, she's tall, I'm chubby and she's not, and she's nearing middle-age and I passed that up long ago.

I've never been in law enforcement either. The closest I've come is to have many relatives, past and present, who have served as police officers or deputy sheriffs.

What Tempe and I, and some of my other female characters, do have in common is a strong streak of independence, bravery and willingness to stand-up for those who are falsely accused.

Though I am writing fiction, ever so often something that has happened in my life or the life of someone I've known, will creep into what I'm writing. Of course it won't be a retelling of the actual incident, but rather the essence of what happened.

I always draw on my own feelings and emotions when I'm writing, asking myself, "If that were happening to me, how would I feel, how would I react?"

What about you? How much of yourself makes its way into what you write?


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hotline Girl, YA by K. Dawn Byrd

I am delighted to have K. Dawn Byrd visiting with me today and I asked her a few questions about this latest book, Hotline Girl.

1) What would you like readers to take away from your book?

 It's important that when Christian teens choose a boyfriend or girlfriend, they choose someone who shares their Christian faith.

2) Why did you write this book?

I thought it would be fun to explore how a couple could fall in love on-line. When my heroine's high school begins a counseling hotline, she's chosen to work it anonymously. She finds herself giving advice to a guy she's had a crush on forever. Once she knows all the hero's secret, will love blossom or fail? When he divulges the problems he's having with his girlfriend, she's tempted to give him advice that will break them up. Will she do the right thing?

3) What did you learn while writing this book?

I really love writing for the young adult market. Bouncing back to YA after writing suspense is a refreshing break.

4) What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Finding time to write. I work a full-time job and am on call a lot of weekends, which means that I have to be really devoted to my writing time. I set aside at least an hour every night, six days a week if possible. The fact that I start with a well-developed plot makes things move faster.

5) What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

I fill out character sketches in order to get to know my characters better. I ask myself what their goals are, what motivates them, and what's keeping them from reaching their goals. Sometimes, I start by writing a synopsis. This gives me information about the plot as it develops. I usually have a pretty strong plot before I actually begin the story.

6) Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

A big time plotter. Because I write all of my books in 30-day marathons, I have to start with a thorough plot. That doesn't mean that sometimes the story doesn't take a life of its own, surprising me when it takes me down a road I hadn't planned to travel.

7) What are you working on right now?

I'm working on a thriller about a serial killer. It's a difficult story because there are several twists and turns and I have to be careful how I write it for everything to fall into place correctly.

8) Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what kind of music – or do you find it  distracts you?
I must have total peace and quiet when I write. I hate it because it keeps me from writing sometimes when I'd like to.

9) Tell us about your latest release.

Here's the cover blurb:

When the school counselor asks Abby to work a counseling chat line, she begs her to choose someone else. When Race, Abby's three-year crush, begins using the chat line to talk about his girlfriend problems, can Abby be impartial when she really wants to tell him to dump her?

Race notices Abby after she has a complete make-over. He begins to spend more time with her and feels like a cheater because he likes the hotline girl too. How can he like two girls at once?

Abby is thrilled when Race begins spending time with her, but she's crushed when he tells the hotline girl that he likes her and wants to take her out. Is he a player? Will he even want to be with her when he finds out that she is the hotline girl and knows all his deepest secrets?

10) What is your personal definition of success?
My personal definition of success has nothing to do with money. To me, a successful person is one who is happy and enjoys life.

11) How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational novels in several genres, including historical, suspense, romance, and young adult. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, sports cars, and her pets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and riding down country roads in the passenger seat of her husband's Corvette Stingray. When asked why she writes, her response is, "For the simple joy of placing words on the page!"

 Author Links:

Facebook Christian Fiction Gathering:

Thank you so much for visiting me today, Dawn, this was a great interview. Here's hoping for great success with your latest venture!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Time Out

Yes, I actually took some time out from writing and promotion.

I know some folks think I push on relentlessly--which certainly isn't true. I take lots of time outs. I work best in the mornings so that's when I try to cram in everything: answering emails, checking Facebook, writing, and even household chores.

After lunch, I really need time out. Usually I watch General Hospital which my husband and I think is funny. Nothing that happens is real: what goes on in the hospital itself would never happen and the same with the police station. People are shot in the heart and recover in a few days. Others die and come back to life. No one stays in a relationship for any amount of time. Affairs abound. People lie. Good characters become bad. The plots are outrageous and unbelievable.

Hubby and I laugh.

But there are some great actors on this soap--though I wonder how they can keep a straight face. The villains are the best. Oh, do they know how to milk a scene. One of the most fund times to watch was when the actor James Franco placed a horrible bad guy named Franco. He was fantastic, but he was killed. But guess what? The character has come back to life and is now played by someone else--who not long ago was another character. His hair is dyed but he still looks the same. Fortunately, he's a good actor too, sort of over the top and funny.

But, as I do so many times, I digress. By the time this is over I usually go back to the computer, maybe some writing or answering emails. I cook dinner and we eat. After the kitchen is tidied we almost always watch a Netlix movie. Right now we're watching last season's Downton Abbey. I might watch or try to watch something else on TV, but usually I do this in bed and I fall asleep. By 4:30 or 5 a.m. I'm up and at it again.

Once a week, hubby and I try to go to the movies and have lunch out. We go to church on Sunday.

Yes, I know, rather boring.

This past week we spent with our eldest daughter and her hubby in Murrieta and had a great time. Went to a car show, had a great meal in an Irish pub and saw our great-granddaughter doing Irish dances. We spent a lot of time with granddaughter and her family and some with grandson and his. We went to the movies and saw Superman, had lunch at a 50s diner, watched movies on TV, played Estimation with the grandkids and great-grands, went to frozen yogurt bar for lunch--lots of flavors of frozen yogurt and toppings, and we shopped. Didn't write one thing. (I confess I was on my iPad checking and answering emails and looking at Facebook, but did that early in the a.m. before anyone was up.)

I'm a firm believer that we all need time out every so often to revive us.

What do you do for time out?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I'm Sticking with My Two Small Publishers

The first reason is time. Yes, time. I barely have enough time to write the two books a  year that I want to write. I am not ready to try and figure out how to format a book for Amazon and all the other places that you are expected to post it, design a cover, and do everything else that needs to be done.

Let me back up a little. I began writing in the typewriter, carbon paper, submit you manuscript in a box with another box inside with return postage days. I sent out queries and then the whole manuscripts, more time than not, having the manuscript bouncing back covered with wine and coffee stains and smelling like cigarette smoke.

I've been through crooked publishers, those that have died, at least three that have just decided to quit the business. Which of course results in looking for new publishers.

I've been through the do-it-yourself phase when it was costly and really you weren't doing it yourself, you were paying for someone else to do it for a certain fee--or a share of the fee.

For the last few years my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has been with Mundania Press. They've been really good to me. My books are edited, the covers are beautiful, and all the formatting and production of the books for paper and e-books is done. My books can be purchased from a good looking website or from several online bookstores including Amazon. Most of the promotion is left up to me.

When I lost the third publisher for the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, I already knew Billie Johnson, the owner of Oak Tree Publishing. I asked if she'd be interested in picking up the series. She not only has published the latest but she republished all the earlier books too. And again, OTP has been good to me. My books are edited, I love the covers, all the formatting and production of the paper books and e-books are done. The books are mainly available from Amazon. OTP does some promotion and I do a lot myself.

I'm at a stage in my life where I am happy to let someone else do the publishing work for me. And besides, I want some time to enjoy my family and have a bit of a social life too.

My latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is Raging Water if you'd like to see what kind of work they do--and me too. and of course you can check it out any of the other places that sells books and ebooks.

Early fall I'll have a new Tempe Crabtree mystery out called Spirit Shapes. I need to begin my promo plans for that one soon.

 Or take a peek at my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Dangerous Impulses. Remember, I write this series under the name of F. M. Meredith.

I am writing the next in the series now and I'm reading early chapters to my critique group. Once they've heard them all, I'll have to do some serious editing and possibly some rewriting.

I don't have time to publish my own books.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Tips for Writing Your Bio

When I have a guest on my blog, I always ask for a bio. The length doesn't matter for the blog--but what I've learned about blog posts is that they are more apt to be read if they are short rather than long--and in my opinion that goes for the bio too.

It is helpful when I've asked for a guest post if everything is put right on the post itself--whether it be an interview of an original post, at the end put the bio along with the book blurb and any links. This saves me having to open 3 or more attachments.

You may be asked to write a bio for a conference. ALWAYS read the instructions. Usually there is a word count--stick to that.

Remember a bio helps readers or in the case of pitching to a publisher see what a fascinating person you are. Putting in the right stuff and leaving out the wrong stuff is important. What you write should be relevant to the book you are promoting or pitching.

When sending your bio off to someone (other than to a blog host--I told you how I'd like it to come to me) name the file so that the person receiving it will have a clue who it came from. For instance: Bio-Meredith and the date.

What to actually put in the bio? Could be any number of things, but it should be written in third person with your name and the put what you are most famous for or proudest of as far as your writing world is concerned. If your occupation or past occupation is relevant to what you are writing, but that in. Or what makes you the person to write the book you're promoting. You could list the writing organizations you belong too--don't list the social or hobby groups--unless they are relevant to what you've written. You could put where you live--again though, this really depends upon if it has something to do with the book(s) you've written.

In other words, stay relevant to what you want the particular recipient or readers might find interesting.

If you've been using the same bio for a while, check it over before sending it out again. See if it needs updating or a bit of sprucing up.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Meet Christy Dyer, the New Kid at Oak Tree Press

Christy Dyer

Oak Tree Press now has an intern, Christy Dyer, who will be working with acquistions. I was curious about her so decided to ask a few questions which she was kind enough to answer.

Marilyn: Tell us something about you, such as where you are from and what are you doing now.

Christy: I am from New Lenox, Illinois. And I am just currently working at Oak Tree Press, but looking for a job. Gotta move on in the "real" world.

Marilyn: What did you always want to be when you were a kid.

Christy: I knew I wanted to work with books. I was a huge reader when I was a kid. I was entertaining the idea of becoming a writer, well actually I still am! It's just hard actually writing down the story!

Marilyn: What do you do for fun?

Christy: Read, write, watch movies...I pretty much live a boring life at the moment!

Marilyn: What kind of books do you like to read and do you have a favorite author?

Christy: I really enjoy fantasy. I like to go to a completely new world as see what authors can come up with using their imagination. And there are the small town murder mysteries that I enjoy reading with my mom.

My favorite author...that's a tough one. When in doubt, I turn to J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, or J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter series.

Marilyn: Christy, exactly what will you be doing as an intern?

Christy: I will reading over people's queries that they send to OTP and answering them, reading over manuscripts, and any other odd job that someone needs done. I am also looking for editorial work, like reading people's pieces to find any copy editing mistakes, so if anyone needs that I would be happy to do that! 

Marilyn: Will this experience be helpful toward your future goals?

Christy: Yes, because I want to work in a publishing house and help authors bring their story to life so others can read and enjoy them. Also, it gives me the other view on what publishing houses are looking for in authors so when I actually write down that story, I know what to send them.

Marilyn Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?

Christy: Just that I am excited to do my work here and hope that I can do well!

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Christy. It was great getting to know you.

And a note from Billie Johnson, Publisher: We encourage all authors who have a submission pending with Oak Tree Press to give Christy an email to introduce yourself to her at Since Christy plans to be in the book biz for many years to come, getting to know her now might be a plus for all concerned!