Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cup of Demons, Christian Horror

What a surprise! I had no idea this one was available yet.

If you like to read really scary books with a surprising ending--you'll love Cup of Demons.

This is the first time I've seen the cover too--and I think it fits.

I broke a big writing rule with this book, there is a family whose female members have names beginning with M. And no, you won't get confused. There is a reason for it.

The story begins with Maginel as a little girl listening to her great Aunt Magda telling how her mother died. It's a tale she'd heard often and doesn't realize how much that old story will affect her own life.

I do hope some of you will try this tale.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Murder Amongst Angels by Tony Piazza.

I'm fortunate enough to have met Tony through the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He's now the president of the chapter. His latest book is now out and I think it has one of the best covers I've seen in a long time. I'm reading the book now and it reminds me a lot of the detective novels of the '40s and '50s.

I asked Tony what inspired Murder Amongst Angels and he gave me this answer:

"I had received numerous requests to bring my detective, Tom Logan back. In contemplating what kind of story I could weave around him to mark his return, I hit upon a real life mystery that had fascinated me for some time. In the 90s I saw a film called "Hot Toddy" based upon the 1935 death of actress/ comedienne Thelma Todd. The mystery haunted me. It had all the ingredients for a good story...gangsters, dishonest politicians, crooked cops, beautiful platinum blonde found dead under suspicious circumstances, and the smell of cover-up. Taking all these ingredients, placing them in a hat, and stirring them around with the magic wand of imagination I came up with the mystery, thriller, A Murder Amongst Angels."  

 About A Murder Amongst Angels:

Sexy, platinum blonde movie siren, Gertrude Hurd had it all- fame, men, and riches. But now she was dead. A fallen angel, whose broken body and tarnished halo was lying on a hillside behind her beach front cafĂ©. It’s 1931, and private detective Tom Logan is back, once again immersed in a perplexing mystery, that has him racing against time to track down a merciless killer. As the body count grows, so do the suspects, as his investigation soon has him bucking against corrupt city officials, the mob, and the Hollywood studio system. 

Tony Piazza Bio:

Tony Piazza is a mystery writer, film historian, and veteran storyteller renowned for his passion for writing and movies. He is the author of three mystery novels and a non-fiction work. Actor and stand-in for movies and television, Piazza has appeared in such notable films as Magnum Force and The Streets of San Francisco. From Clint Eastwood to Steve McQueen, Piazza’s stories read like a who’s who of Hollywood. He is also a member of Sisters in Crime and SLO NightWriters.

Tony’s books are available on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble websites. Also e-book format for Kindle.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How I Celebrated My Birthday

This was a momentous one--and we had great fun celebrating it with family.

Youngest daughter spent a lot of time in the kitchen. She's brought out her trays of homemade enchiladas and is getting the rest of the meal ready. This was our first night together.

A pool tournament followed dinner--hubby and middle daughter wipe out everyone. Won all but the last game.
I'm watching with one of my son-in-laws.

More of the pool game and me in the background.

Lori ready to take a shot.

Decorating for party.

Me and middle daughter on cruise.

My handsome hubby wearing his Hawaiian clothes for the party.

After a wonderful dinner, we all played Tripoli--it was fun even though hubby and I lost.

And that's  how I celebrated my birthday.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Two Big Writing Tips

I love reading books by writers that I know. Yes, some of them are self-published and some are with small presses and a few with "big" publishers.

When I'm reading for fun, I try to turn off the editing part of my brain and just enjoy the story.

Sometimes though, things just jump out at me. It happens in almost every book I read--but more often in the self-pubbed, small press group.

One thing that can be bothersome to a reader--whether they know anything about writing or not is paragraphs that are far two long. If a paragraph takes up half a page or longer--it should be broken up. Yes, even if the information is related.

White space is good.  It makes the reading easier on the eyes.

And tip number two. I've given this one before, but it's a good reminder.

When someone new does or says something, the writer should start a new paragraph.

Why? It gives that white space I just wrote about, but even more important it helps the reader know who is doing or saying something. Anything you can do to make the reading experience easier is good.

Do I think my writing is perfect? Far from it. I just went over the edits for my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and not only did the editor point out a lot of errors, when I was going over it again, I found even more mistakes.

All any writer can do is tell a good story and try to make it as error free as possible.

I hope these two tips will be helpful to someone.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My Upcoming Appearances

Everything is set for  the following in-person appearances.

Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, Wordstock, Portland, OR  I’ll be with the Oak Tree Press booth.

(This will be an adventure as I'm driving up with my publisher, Billie Johnson.)
Friday, October 11, Visiting with a Book Club in Porterville.

(I visited with this group years ago with my very first published book.)

Saturday, October 12, Mystery Writer Event, 12 p.m.- 4 p.m. The Book Barn, Clovis CA

(This will be my first visit to this book store and I'm looking forward to it.)

Saturday, October 19, Taste of the Arts, 10 – 4, Visalia CA, I’ll have my own booth.

(I'm doing this in place of the Apple Festival--only one day and I don't have to bring my own tent.)

And the whole month of October I’ll be on a blog tour for my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Spirit Shapes.

Hope to see some of you  in one place or another.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review of Final Respects, #1 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

Because this is such a great review of Final Respects, I borrowed it to post on my own blog.

This was posted on 
by  Lisa Swenson

We all remember the infamous quote, “God Created Firefighters so Cops Could Have Heroes Too” seems to be etched in our minds.

With Police Officers fitting snugly into our First Responder category, it felt only natural to share the stories that are written about them and how we all know they are everyone’s Heroes.  They lay their lives on the line to protect and to serve us every day.

In my recent review of  ”Final Respects” the first book in the Rocky Bluff PD crime series by F.M. Meredith, she gives us a peek into the lives of many:  Police Officers, their families, the Department, the community, answering “the” call and how they interface with each other.

From Chapter 1, the story and it’s characters held my undivided attention hostage until the very end.  This is the first book in the series, as the writer had no idea it would be a series!  The plotlines in this good read, definitely captivated my interest in seeking out other stories in this series, as well others written by the Author.

“Final Respects” is full of intriguing events that occur in how LEOs are affected by and from life-shaping experiences and how it makes them a better character in the world we live in today.  With that being said, there is a much greater appreciation for them and knowing the dangers that lurk against those in this honorable profession.  All in all, this is a great book and one worth reading!

F.M. Meredith, Author of the Rocky Bluff PD crime series, is also known as Marilyn Meredith, Author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.  With 35 titles under her name, she states, “My first home was in a neighborhood filled with Police Officers and their families.  I saw first-hand how their jobs affected the family and vise versa.”  
Meredith, is a member of the Public Safety Writers Association, as well as with Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Writers of Kern and Epic.  She resides in California with her husband of 62 years, has several children, grand & great-grandchildren.

Meredith’s next book is due out in the Fall.

Can’t get enough of this amazing Author’s work or want to find out more about the incredible books she writes? Check out her website at  She lists her Bio, Series Books, How to Order (, Links and other interesting facts.

Note: The Editor of this blog was not paid for the endorsement of this book or the Author linked to this post.  We feel very honored to have read F.M. Meredith’s book, “Final Respects” and highly recommend this book as a good read. We rate this as “4 Stars”.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Oak Tree Press Books

For those of you who are not familiar with the Rocky Bluff P.D.series, its much different than you might expect. Besides the fact that the police officer in these stories are confronted with crimes to solve, the spotlight is often on the officers themselves and what is happening in their private lives.

When I first started writing this series--though at the time I had no idea it would continue on past Final Respects, my goal was to show how the job affected the families and what was going on at home and in he officers' private lives affected the job.

Though many of the characters and their lives continue from one book to the next, the books can all be read as a stand-alone. Every mystery is solved by the end.

Though I've never been in law enforcement, I've always had people involved in law enforcement in my life. My uncle was a police officer and I babysat for the cop's family who lived up the street when I was a kid. We lived in a neighborhood full of cops and partied with them and I had coffee with their wives. My daughter married a police officer who liked to tell me stories and took me on a ride-along.

I joined Public Safety Writers Association back when it was The Police Writers Club--when it transitioned I took over planning the program for their conference. Of course I became friends with lots of police officers then, active and retired. Though I've now turned over the job as program chair, I'm still an active member of the group.

Some of the earlier books are a bit more graphic than how I write now--think I've softened a bit with age.

If you haven't tried one yet, now would be a good time. They are all available on Amazon as either paperbooks or for Kindle. And remember, I write them as F. M. Meredith.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gerri Finger Writes About The Devil Laughed

Thanks Marilyn for inviting me to once again share my news and views on your excellent blog.

I am a retired journalist and the author of nine crime novels in different subgenres. On August 21, the third in my Moriah Dru/Richard Lake Series will be published by Five Star Cengage Publishing Company. Let me introduce you to THE DEVIL LAUGHED.

Dru -- the owner of Child Trace, a specialty PI agency -- and her lover, Lake -- an Atlanta Police detective -- team up to solve the disappearance of the sailboat Scuppernong and three of the four people aboard her. The fourth, a man named Johnny, was found in the waters of the marina. In the reverse of her child-finder role, Dru is hired by Evangeline to find her mother, Candice, one of the missing and Johnny’s wife. Evangeline, a precocious yet annoying adolescent, has faith that her mother is alive.

My post today deals with a subject that has me going back to old mystery novels like Agatha Christie (read all many times), Ngaio Marsh and dozens of others. Their plots, their style and techniques are so different than those of today. Besides being masters at deception, they do something that is getting rare in today’s mystery fiction: they let us know their characters before one or more get what they (inevitably) deserve.

Writing original fiction is a tough business, and getting tougher. Especially for mystery writers. I consider myself a mystery/suspense writer on the cusp of thriller. Even my romance, WHISPERING, has a mystery/thriller aspect, as does my paranormal THE GHOST SHIP.

The reason it’s getting tougher to write with a degree to originality is the over-the-top produced movies, the myriad of mystery/thriller television series, ridiculous commercials, brutal video games, etc. -- and that more authors are taking their cues from the pyrotechnics of them all.

Take the opening scenes of NCIS. Now I like the series because of the stars, but within the first minute-and-a-half, the corpse makes an appearance like a jump ball that starts a basketball game. He’s human, I can see that, but I don’t know him. Blown up, shot, stabbed, garroted, buried alive -- for all that, she or he could be, well, a cardboard doll.

So you say, it’s a TV series. The corpse doesn’t matter. It’s the series stars. I say wrong. In the recent spate of movies, we hardly get to know the characters before they begin racing and chasing, with all of the uniqueness of NASCAR on Sunday. And the line between good guy and bad is so blurred, figuring it out has my brain rebelling.

This greed for action is sparking opening mystery chapters like a high voltage current. Corpse placement is becoming de rigueur with disposable pawns butchered on the first page before we get to know them. Having characters leap into jeopardy with no understanding -- other than we’re reading a thriller -- belies credible conflict-- a must in any novel. Why care about somebody dying that you don’t know yet? Might as well read the Sunday obits. When characters are cardboard, doesn’t matter how high the body count, it’s hard to be concerned. And when the author simmers down, inevitably the following scenes become boring. With no investment in the people of the plot, who cares what happens next?

Ebooks have a conspicuous affect on the need for lethal beginnings, too. Opening chapters are made to be seriously gripping on the first page in the free-sampling period of a novel’s life. Open your novel with the pace of a Dorothy L. Sayers, and today’s action reader will yawn and go to the next juiced-up first chapter.

Yeah, I know, the days of Chandler and Highsmith are over. Their style reflected their age, like ours do our era. Still creative writers today can mesmerize and make their characters come alive with hooks and plots that evoke mystery and dread, suspense and horror at what humans can do to their own species. After all, it is murder we’re talking about -- the ultimate taboo -- one life taken by another. We should be invested in that life.

I contend an author who has imagination, strong nouns and verbs, style and voice can fill his or her pages with characters who are fresh with life -- at least before they’re dead.
My advice: let the corpses fall where they may. Naturally and not placed to gin up immediate excitement. The letdown begins after that.

Happy Reading,
Gerrie Ferris Finger

The Dru/Lake Series:
MURMURS OF INSANITY (coming in 2014).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Importance of Reviews

Hard as it is to admit, reviews have great importance--not just on Amazon, but everywhere. Of course I'm speaking about good reviews. I've been fortunate enough to get mostly good reviews--but not nearly enough.

Does that mean not many people have read my books? I hope not.

I've never been a best seller, but I do have a loyal following. And though I do write for readers who say they are anxiously waiting for the next book, whether it be a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery (and yes, one is coming soon) or a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel (the next one is written just waiting for my critique group to hear it all the way through), I also write because I love my characters and want to know what is going to happen to them next.

Since I am their creator, I have to write another book to find out.

Not having many reviews can work against the promotion for a book in a couple of ways--too few and readers wonder why more people didn't leave their opinions.

There are some promotion sites who won't let the author promote unless they have a certain number of reviews, and for one I investigated recently, the required number was twenty!

One of my friends is trying to get 50 reviews for her book and is actively recruiting readers to write one in many creative ways. And she is getting close to her goal.

I'm not sure I could approach the dilemma in quite that way, but it would be nice to see more reviews on my latest books:

Dangerous Impulses written as F. M. Meredith and Raging Water written as Marilyn Meredith.

And on Kindle for only .99 you can try out Deadly Feast.

And if your tastes run more to the horror vein, check out my YA Christian horror, Deeds of Darkness.

 Hoping for more reviews, I am

Friday, August 16, 2013

What you Might Not Know About Working with Small Presses

Both of my series are with small presses: Oak Tree Press and Mundania. I've been with many others before these two.

I was fortunate to meet both of these publishers at writing conferences. I met Dan Rietz, Mundania's publisher at Epicon and Billie Johnson, who owns Oak Tree, at Public Safety Writers Association's conference. At these first meetings I had other publishers. As fate would have it, both of my publishers quit the business later on. It wasn't too hard to figure out where I should go next.

Because I had a track record, successful books behind me, I didn't have to go through the whole querying process. With Mundania, I saw the publisher at yet another conference and he told me to send my next manuscript. I spoke at a conference OTP put on, and signed a contract during that time period.

Querying and submitting a manuscript is so much easier nowadays. Most of it is done via the Internet.

When you submit a manuscript you want to make sure it is clean as it can be--this means edited. (Not by your mother who is an English teacher, but someone who knows about the genre that you write in as well as grammar, etc.)

The manuscript will be read by an acquisitions editor or maybe the publisher. If it's accepted, you'll receive an email and the offer of a contract. Read the contract carefully. If you have a problem with it, ask questions. (Check out other publisher's contracts--you can often find them on author groups' websites.)

Once the contract is signed, the following happens. (With a small press, you probably won't be receiving an advance of any kind. And, you shouldn't have to pay for anything either.)

The publisher will then edit your manuscript again, in a small house might be the publisher that does it. Some publishers send the manuscript back with editing comments for you to accept or reject.

Eventually, you'll receive what they used to call a galley to go over (it comes by email as an attachment). This document will look much like the book will look on the page. You, the author, must go over it carefully and make note of any mistakes and send the list in. (Believe me, there will be mistakes--the more diligent you are, the less mistakes will appear in the book.)

The book has to be set up properly for printing and for all the different e-book sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. The publisher may have this done in house, or pay someone to do it.

The cover must be done. Some publishers have cover artists they employ. You may or may not have input on how you'd like the cover to look.

A date will be set for the actual publishing of the book. Don't plan any personal appearances where you'll need books too close to that date because things happen to hold up the process. With a small press, if you'll be selling the books yourself or bringing them to an event to be sold, you'll want to purchase them and have them delivered to you on time.

Some things you might not know. If you think your cut of the pie is low, remember the publisher is paying out a lot of money upfront--perhaps for the editing, for the cover, for formatting and printing. When it comes to distribution (and make sure the small press does have a distribution system, preferable through Ingram) when the books go out, places like Ingram, Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc. all get their cut first.

When you buy books from your publisher, you buy them for a lower price--but they don't count toward your royalties.

Some publishers have a dollar amount you must reach before you receive a royalty check.

And how do you get the royalties up? Promotion. Yes, if you expect books to be purchased, you must let people know that you wrote a book, what it's about, where they can get it, etc.

Even if you were with a New York publisher and you're a relative unknown, you are expected to do the major share of promotion yourself. Yes, small presses have websites and they may do some promotion, but the reality is if you expect to sell books, you must get out there and promote, promote, promote.

And if people like your book, you'll be asked when is the next one coming. Hopefully, you were writing that next book while you were submitting, finding a publisher, planning your promotion.

And a word of caution: Be an agreeable client. If you are pushy, bad-mouth your publisher in public, send a zillion emails wanting the moon, you probably won't get a second contract. And a warning, many of the small press publishers communicate with one another and yes, they do pass on information about the author from hell.

One final word about small publishers--if this is the publisher's only means of income, he or she is probably operating on a very small budget. How well the publisher does depends on your books and how well they sell.


Dangerous Impulses (Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries) is published by Oak Tree Press.

Raging Water (Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries) is published by Mundania Press.