Saturday, May 30, 2015

What's Going in in My Life--Writing and Personal

I never, ever complain about being bored. Life is too hectic for boredome to set in, I'll be wornout long before that happens.

In my writing life, I'm still promoting my latest, Violent Departrues.  I recenlty offered a few Kindle copies free in exhange for honest reviews, and I've had some. Of course the hope is that the reader will like the book well enough to read some of the other books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

I also participated in a neighborhood book boutique in someone's lovely yard. The day was perfect, neither too hot nor too cold. Many people came to see what was going on, others to seek out particular writers. I met and talked to many interesting people including one long time fan who has every book I've ever written. 

I recently finished writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which is now titled Not As It Seems. Once my critique group has heard the last chapter, I'll go over it again, and send it off to my publisher. Something different about this Tempe is that it's set on the Central Coast and in particular Morro Bay and surroundings. 

Yes, I've started writing another Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. I do have a tentative title.but it might change by the time I'm done. 

Other writing chores include editing a quarterly newsletter for the Public Safety Writers Association. 

In my personal life, I'm still doing program designs for folks wanting to go into the residential care business, writing a monthly newsletter for administrators of residential care homes, Those of you who follow me on Facebook  know that I teach a children's Sunday School class and I have a big family.

My great-grandson and his bride have come to live with us for awhile--mainly because our upstairs guest bedroom offers them some privacy. It's fun to have them around.

We have a daughter and son nearby, and other grands and great-grands, meaning we aare fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with them.

We will soon be visiting our eldest daughter in Wildomar and be able to see more grandkids and their offspring.

And when I can, I squeeze in reading and writing reviews.

If you're not a follower of this blog as yet, how about signing up? I've been stuck at the same number for too long.

Thank you,

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Thursday, May 28, 2015


My name is Kathy Stevens.  I am a retired teacher with a passion for herbs.  Twenty-four years ago I planted my first backyard herb garden.  Small specimens of lavender, mint, rosemary and thyme were nestled in a raised bed not far from my kitchen window.

Watching those herbs grow and prosper, I wondered... what shall I do with them?  To answer this question I read books, journals, took classes, and joined an herb society.  Lots of useful information.  I learned dozens of ways to use herbs in the kitchen and throughout my home.  They scent my linen closet and infuse the water in both my teacup and bathtub.  I sprinkle them on popcorn and in salads and they flavor both honey and butter.  Sometimes I tuck a little bundle of them inside my pillowcase to sleep peacefully until morning.

Today I continue to grow herbs and learn all that I can about them.  During my years as a classroom teacher, I planted a school herb garden with students.  Now in retirement, I continue to visit and care for the garden.  Fourth and fifth graders join me on Wednesday afternoon for the herb garden club.  Together we explore the countless ways we can use the thirty plus herbs growing in our garden.

Last year I wrote and published a book entitled The Herb Garden Club.  It is available for purchase in my online store.  The book details all that my students and I have learned about seven of our favorite herbs: lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, chamomile, thyme, and rose.  There are stories, tasty recipes, herb crafts, and lots of ideas to inspire readers of all ages to enjoy these herbs every day.

About the author

Kathy Stevens is a certified Master Herbalist, educator, and speaker.  She lives in Visalia, California with her husband, Stan, and orange tabby George.  In addition to the work she does with the Crestwood Elementary Herb Garden Club, Kathy also gives lectures and workshops about herbs.  She enjoys teaching others to live a healthy, herbal lifestyle.  Kathy is past president of the San Joaquin Herb Society. The Herb Garden Club is her second book.  In 1990, she published Going Beyond Words, the art and skill of visual thinking with Zephyr Press.

Visit to purchase the book or to see a slideshow of the Crestwood School herb garden.

(Note from Marilyn: Years ago, Kathy was in a writing class I taught at a nearby bookstore. And recently, she came to a book event I participated in, and showed me the finished product of what she'd been working on way back then. The book is wonderful to read and look at.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Interviews Spark Novel Ideas by J. L. Greger

Have you noticed characters in some novels are boring? Be honest. Do a couple of your characters need more pizzazz?

Try interviewing others to get fresher characters. As a fiction writer, you aren’t held to the same standards as a journalist doing an exposé. However, good interviews take effort. Maybe, these suggestions will be helpful.

1. Explain what you want to achieve to the interviewee at the start of the conversation. Most people are open about past experiences, if you guarantee you won’t use their names. As a fiction writer, you can also assure them that you’ll change the facts enough so no one can identify them.

2. Determine your goals before the interview. Do you want to obtain specific information? On what? Are you trying to get a “mood?” I found little details help me catch the “mood” when I write. Accordingly, detailed descriptions of a favorite toy, a city park, or a grandmother’s parlor are helpful.

3. Be organized and control the flow of the interview. Plan your questions and arrange them into a logical sequence. A list of topics to be covered is usually more helpful than a written list of specific questions.

4. Vary your questions to fit the personality of the interviewee. A loquacious person could talk for thirty minutes in response to a totally open-ended question (“Tell me about your childhood.”) and not give you enough specific details to write an interesting story. On the other hand, a taciturn person might “clam up.” A more focused, but still open-ended, question (“Tell me about an incident in your childhood that made you proud of your mother?”) is apt to elicit a better response. Follow-up questions should be tailored to fit the interviewee.

5. Be conversational.

6. Avoid distracting subjects with your recording (whether by taking notes or taping) of the interview.

7. Thank your subject but don’t promise them editing rights to your story.

I hope these suggestions help you get “novel” ideas and perspectives for your next novel. Maybe you’d also like to read my medical thrillers/mysteries.

Blurbs: In Ignore the Pain, Sara Almquist couldn’t say no when invited to be the epidemiologist on a public health mission in Bolivia. Soon someone from her past in New Mexico is chasing her through the Witches’ Market of La Paz and on to the silver mines of Potosí. Unfortunately, she can’t trust her new colleagues, especially the sinister Xave Zack, because any one of them might be under the control of the coca industry in Bolivia.

In Malignancy, men disguised as police officers shoot at Sara Almquist twice in one day. The Albuquerque police suspect a drug czar, who Sara tangled with in Bolivia, will order more hits on her. Thus when colleagues in the State Department invite Sara to arrange scientific exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, she jumps at the chance to get out of town and to see the mysterious Xave Zack. Maybe, she should question their motives.

P.S. The background of Xave Zack in my novels is based on interviews with a real man.

Bio: J.L. Greger is no longer a professor in biology, but she likes to include tidbits of science in her medical thrillers/ mysteries — Malignancy, Ignore the Pain, Coming Flu, and Murder: A New Way to Lose Weight. Her two great passions are her dog Bug (who is a character in all her novels) and travel. Accordingly, the locations in her novels, include Bolivia, Cuba, Washington D.C., and Miami, as well as her native New Mexico. Website:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Am I Over Scheduling?

Or should the question really be, can I keep up the pace?

Maybe when I write it out, you won't think what I've got planned amounts to much, but the question is, will this old lady be able to do it all?

The first of June we're spending five days in Wildomar visiting our eldest daughter, two grandkids and their families. Though it sounds like a mini-vacation, when we're with family, it gets pretty busy--and fun.

On June  16th, I have a radio interview--that one's easy, I'll be doing it from home.

On June 20th at 10 a.m., I'm speaking to the Tulare-Kings Authors at the Tulare County Main Library in Visalia. Topic: How to Create and Sustain a Mystery Series. I've done this one before, so expect no problems--as long as I can get to the library, got lost the last ime I went there.

From July 15-20, we're headed to Las Vegas to the PSWA Conference (conference is from the 16th- 19th) but we'll also spend one afternoon and evening with my sister and family. 

Right now, August is free--of book events, that is.

On September 20th from 10 to 4, I'll be at the Central Coast Book and Author Festival at the SeaCrest Oceanfront Resort, Pismo Beach. CA.

Saturday, October 10th from 10 to 4 you'll find me at the Great Valley Bookfest at the Promenade Shops at Orvhard Valley in Manteca CA.

And that's it for now.

Sounds like a lot to me, but I know from experience, even though it is a bit of work, it's also a lot of fim and a chance to get my books into the hands of readers.

Maybe I'll see some of you while I'm out and about. Be sure and stop and say, "Hi."

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Friday, May 22, 2015


 by Steve Daniels

In 2006, after 26 years in the criminal justice system, I retired from my position of high-risk parole agent with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.  As virtually every offender on my caseload had at least one homicide on their record, my interest in this category of crime was deep-seated and hard to cut loose.

In approximately 2009, I approached a local publisher with an idea to write a book about some of my more egregious, eerie and high profile cases, of which there were many. The publisher offered that she would be interested, but wanted me to tackle her project of interest first. This began the journey that lead to my first book: HARRY: A Study of Teenage Mass Murderers. There was actually a hook to writing Harry as my father was the lead investigator on the case way back in 1963. Briefly, Harry Hebard, a 17 year old high school student murdered his family of five on a cold February day. This could very well be the first documented progeny mass killing in modern Wisconsin history.

At our first meeting, the publisher and I agreed to co-author the book. (Mistake #1). I would write the majority of chapters, and she, claiming a great ability to write about crime scenes suggested she would pen two chapters. As I maintained a excellent relationship with the district attorney's office, as well as the city police, I had no difficulty obtaining records, reports, transcripts, etc. After obtaining documents, the publisher and I met face-to-face to research the copious amounts of paperwork. This happened once, and we never met again. (Mistake #2).

After I trudged through boxes of reports, met with those in-the-know about the murdered family as well as the perpetrator, and made numerous trips to the library, museum, and the neighborhood surrounding the death house, I began writing in earnest. I would write in fits and starts as moods came and quickly vanished. But, I made progress, virtually hearing nothing from the publisher. Then, out of the blue, an e-mail arrived informing me that an ISBN number had been assigned and Harry was born.

Feeling I had written all I could without her chapters, I sent e-mail after e-mail, after e-mail with virtually no meaningful reply. Bizarrely, release dates were set, then moved back, then canceled. I would get e-mails from the publisher indicating reasons for the delays such as she was working on a blockbuster hard cover book with another author and that was her priority. Not knowing the business, I accepted reasons, but begrudgingly. Then, if what I believe to be attempts to assuage my trepidations, I would get e-mails indicating her plans for a multi-city book tour, a first check should be coming soon. This was strange as we had never discussed money, nor did we even have a written contract or agreement. (Mistake #3)

This cat-and-mouse game went on for about four years. Finally, I contacted the publisher, indicated I wanted some answers. Feeling pressured, she indicated she had not written the two chapters, so, in essence we had no finished product, and the book could not be released. I informed the publisher I was going to seek another person to assist me, I wanted out of our "non" agreement, and I would finish the book, alone. I luckily found a great publishing firm in M & B Global Solutions, and the rest is history. In about four months with these professionals, we had a written release from the first publisher as well a signed contract. Everything else fell into place. I wrote the remaining two chapters, the work was edited, the book was formatted, cover designed, and Harry was reading for a December 6th, 2014 book signing.

I learned much from this experience. Find a professional publisher. Have a written contract. I shouldn't have waited 4 1/2 years to make a move to help myself. But, Harry is "in the books", and I am in the early stages of researching my second, a true crime story of a serial killer currently in our prison system.

So, best of luck to all authors, both publishing and aspiring.

Steve Daniels


Steve Daniels

About the Author:

Steve Daniels retired after twenty-six years in the criminal justice system, the last twelve as a high-risk parole agent working with extremely violent and dangerous offenders. During that career, Steve and a colleague interviewed and researched nearly 200 murderers in an effort to develop a working profile for criminal justice professionals.

Steve is chair of the Cold Case Review Team for the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators, assisting agencies with old, unsolved homicides. He is also the author of numerous articles on various types of homicide, and is the coordinator of a nationally recognized annual homicide conference.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Am Crowing about a Dead Bird... by JoAnne Lucas

(In way of introductions, JoAnne Lucas is a friend and a fellow Sister in Crime in both the San Joaquin and Central Coast chapters.)
   . . . and I’m cackling with glee. My 2013 entry, “An Object Lesson,” will be published in Darkhouse Books’ new anthology, DESTINATION: MYSTERY, coming out this summer.
     “Object Lesson” has had an interesting journey. In 2013 Bird Boss Mary Redmond decreed the theme to be Water Rights and Wrongs. Water had to figure into the tale and of course it had to be set in the San Joaquin Valley. I wrote out a story that’d been buzzing in my brain a while, a tale interspersed with lines from the Preposition Poem I had to learn in 8th grade. Going back to junior high memories, I finally offed my old nemesis, but I had to move the story here to a nearby lake. Voila! Bass Lake. The entry didn’t win but it took honors in a new category made up just for my story – The Bricolage Award for construction or creation from a diverse range of available things. Really sounds like a sink full of dirty, greasy dishes before they’re finally rinsed off and put away, don’t you think?
     When Andrew MacRae (last month’s speakerat the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime meeting) put out the call for his newest anthology, “An Object Lesson” came to mind. Andrew was very specific that the story must take place in a definite location usually used for vacations. Hmmm, somewhere vaguely at Bass Lake wasn’t going to cut it. I needed a lake with a very small town of year-round residents and not so well to do. After researching less affluent resorts, I hit upon Lake Hughes in the high desert near Palmdale, California. It was perfect and it even threw in an extra lake in the middle of the town of Lake Hughes, Lake Elizabeth and its famous monster.
     Oh, boy!
     So I expanded my 2,255 word “An Object Lesson” to a 3,004 word “To Put A Monster In Its Place” story and made the final cut. The anthology, DESTINATION: MYSTERY, is looking at the end of June/first of July publication date.
     I’m jazzed.
     What am I going to do now? First I’m working on a special board at Pinterest where you can follow the first part of the story pictorially. So, go to   It’s the last board listed and it’s not without the usual Pinterest copy (sorry). It’s listed under the name Jay Lucas, but – hey! – it’s free.    
   And second, I’m adding another silver charm to my bracelet. It’s a special charm bracelet just for story sales. I’ve ordered a knight charm and can’t wait until it gets here. Why a knight? Read the story and/or visit my Pinterest board and find out.
   Now, if only I would hear something favorable from those other two stories I have out there, I could add a crown and a hamburger.

The photo is of JoAnne Lucas and Cora Ramos, both past presidents of SJ SinC.

Bio: JoAnne Lucas is a multi-published and award winning author of short stories. She is an Active Member of Mystery Writers of America, a founding member and 3 times past president of the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime, as well as a member of Private Eye Writers of America and the Yosemite Romance Writers of RWA.

She resides in Clovis, CA -- where a full size colored statue of Festus from Gunsmoke stands outside the downtown bank.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Last of Ways to Please an Author

Use your connections. We’re all six degrees of separation from someone famous. (Or, in my case, infamous.) Maybe one of them can help your favorite author!  Who do you know who might want to help your favorite author?

Ask your local library to invite the author for a reading.  We authors LOVE to talk about our work with readers.  Readers are, after all, what make our work come alive!  And why should library patrons miss out?  If your favorite author lives in your region, as your library to invite them in for a book discussion. You’ll get to hang out with them in person and introduce other library patrons to their work!

Ask your favorite store (book, grocery or drugstore) add a dedicated ‘local author shelf to their books and magazines section. It will highlight the many fabulous local authors, including your favorite, if they’re from your area.

Tell your Facebook groups what you’re reading!  Reading-related Facebook groups often ask what you’re reading at that moment.  Post a comment with the title and author, and tag the author if you can. That way if someone double clicks the author’s name it will take them to their Facebook page. Easy and a way to build your connection with your groups while giving your favorite author a high five!

Invite them to speak at non-writing events! At a recent signing, one of my fabulous readers asked me to speak at a women’s networking event.  They’re giving out my books as prizes and I’ll have a chance to tell about 40 professional women about my journey from being an executive to teaching yoga and writing.  Are there similar events that might connect your favorite author with new readers?  Invite them to come.  You never know what might happen and you demonstrate your love just by asking!

Ask for their Authorgraph!  It’s a total kick for your favorite author when a reader asks for their autograph.  But what if you read on an e-reader or can’t see your favorite author in person?  Authorgraph to the rescue!  Check it out and see if any of your favorite books are listed.  If you ask for an authorgraph, your favorite author will get an e-mail and oblige.  And what a kick for them to know a reader is looking for them!

And that's it. If you have any ideas to add, be sure to put them in a comment.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

The latest in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

And Even More Ways to Please and Author

Remember I got all these ideas from Tracy Weber.

 Say hi to them at a conference! There are fan conferences worldwide at which authors and their fans can gather, learn from each other, and basically have a good time.  If you attend a panel with your favorite author or see them schmoozing at the bar, go up and say hi!  Trust me, it’s not an intrusion.  Nothing is better than knowing someone appreciates your work. (I love meeting readers at conferences and conventions.)

Add them to your circles on Google Plus!  I have to admit, I’m not a Google Plus user, but many authors are, and it’s a “circle” of friends that may not already know about their next favorite author! Share news about your author to your circles, and invite your favorite author to join you. Any way you can connect is nothing but goodness!

 Follow them on Twitter.  I’m not the world’s best Tweeter, but many authors think Twitter is a great way to build and connect with a following.  Show them some love by becoming one of their followers.  Who knows what goodness may come your way? You can follow me at

Donate their books to fundraisers.  Trying to come up with a good auction item for your favorite charity?  How about a gift basket with some of your favorite books?  If you contact your author, they may even be willing to send you some cool swag to put with it.  Autographed bookmarks, bookplates….I know some authors that hand make really cool bookmarks and book related jewelry!  You’ll support your author by gifting their books to the charity, help a favorite cause, expose others to your author’s work, and get a tax write off all in one.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Let them know when you see articles about their book.  See a positive review of your favorite author’s work on a website or in a newspaper?  Stumble across an article about their work?  Let them know, with a link, if possible.  Your favorite author may not have any idea the article exists, and learning about it may well make their day!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bright Morning Star by Tom Coffey

I was pleased when my latest book, BRIGHT MORNING STAR, was accepted for publication by Oak Tree Press, but I didn't have the feeling of overwhelming joy that I did in 1998, when Pocket Books, then a division of Simon and Schuster, agreed to publish my first novel, THE SERPENT CLUB. I imagine it's the same feeling that comes over parents when they have their fourth or fifth child -- they're happy, of course, but the level of excitement just isn't the same. (For the record, I have one kid.)

While I understood that the nature of publishing has shifted radically in the last 17 years, I hadn't experienced that shift in a real way. My first three books were printed by traditional publishers, who have their time-honored ways of doing things or, more frequently, not doing things. Oak Tree is an independent -- a scrappy outfit based in California that does not have much of a budget but that does have, God bless it, much more of a willingness to say "yes" to writers than the old-line outfits do.

Oak Tree's acceptance of BRIGHT MORNING STAR meant that a project I'd spent years on would finally have a chance to find an audience. But I now realize it meant something else: My real work had just begun.

No writer in the world believes that his or her work is marketed properly by the publisher. I bet Dan Brown sits around at night muttering that his books would have sold a few million more copies if only Random House had tried harder. But going the independent route means this: When it comes to publicity, you have to do most of the heavy lifting yourself. (For the record, Oak Tree has been upfront about this, and has offered guidance on how to go about it.)

For the writer, this means getting a Web site going and creating events on  Facebook and arranging signings and readings and posting on Facebook and emailing local media and hanging around on Goodreads and tweeting. That's just for starters. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of things.

It has been a learning experience and, as my wife likes to say (quoting her late grandmother), "All education is costly." On the other hand, I'm a lot smarter about the process now.

This process can create a danger for the writer: You get so hung up on the marketing process that you almost forget what the book is about. So let's talk about BRIGHT MORNING STAR. It's is a historical novel set in early 20th century America. The protagonist, Emma Pierce, is a young journalist in New York who is determined to learn the truth about war crimes committed by U.S, troops during the nasty guerrilla war in the Philippines that followed the Spanish-American War. She focuses on the case of a soldier who has been court-martialed for atrocities -- a young man she knew quite well in her small hometown, and with whom she was once in love.

I've had the idea for the book for many years, and I'm grateful to Oak Tree for publishing it.      


And here's the author bio:

Tom Coffey's first two novels, THE SERPENT CLUB (1999) and MIAMI TWILIGHT (2001), were published by Pocket Books, and his third book, BLOOD ALLEY (2008), was printed by Toby Press. THE SERPENT CLUB and BLOOD ALLEY both received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly. A longtime journalist, Tom has worked as a reporter and editor at some of the leading newspapers in the country, including The Miami Herald, The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and New York Newsday. Since 1997, he has been a staff editor in the Sports Department at The New York Times, and he has been a member of Mystery Writers of America since 1999. Tom lives in Lower Manhattan with his wife and teenage daughter, who is also his tech adviser.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spring Book Boutique

We did a similar event, same location, last year and it was a great success. Not only did people from the neighborhood visit  and peruse and buy our books--we had many come from much longer distances.

People stayed around to visit with the authors--it was great fun.

Refreshments will be served. And there will also be several door prizes.

Do stop by and see what's going on.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Adventure of Offering a Free Book for Kindle

Offering a free book on Kindle was truly an adventure that began as a misadventure.

For the first five days of May, my publisher (at my request) offered Final Respects--the first book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, free on Kindle.

 The misadventure part:

First I thought it would be good if Final Respects was free period, not for a limited time. There was a place that would advertise it for free if it was always free. My publisher and her assistant tried to make it that way, but Amazon nixed it.

So, I told my publisher put it up free for 5 days, May 1-5 and I merrily went about setting up the promotion on every free and some paid sites I could find.

While I was busy doing that, the Kindle version disappeared from Amazon.

Well not at first, but in order to have the 5 free days, it had to be taken off then reinstated. When this happened, it got a new AISN--which meant the information I'd sent off to all the promo sites was now wrong.


And do you think I kept a list of all these promo sites? No. I did know which ones I'd paid money too though--so then I began the task of informing each place about the new AISN #. Some places I had to redo everything, others fixed it for me. And I did find most of the free promo sites which I fixed. 

This process took all day and I may have missed some.

Now the adventure part:

May 1 came and I got busy promoting on my own, Facebook, Twitter, my Facebook groups, the listserves I'm on. 

The end of that first day there had been 1400+ downloads. And the book was #70 in the free Kindle mysteries and #2 in mystery/police procedurals. And I also received one new review, a good one.

On the fourth day there were 4937 downloads, but the book had moved upt to #100 in the free Kindle mysterys and #3 in mystery/police procedurals. (Lower numbers are better than high ones.)

My publisher reported that there had also been 10 sales of other books in the series. (Which is the whole reason authors do the free book promotion, to interest people in their series.)

On the fifth day, there were 5,970 downloads and 25 sales of other Kindle books in the series.

So at this point, I was happy.

And don't forget, the latest book in the series is Violent Departures.

Friday, May 8, 2015

More Ways to Please an Author

Friend them on Facebook.  Not every author makes their personal pages open to the reading public, but many do.  I have a personal page.  And I love it when readers “friend” me!  My Facebook personal page shares more about my daily life and allow me to get to know my readers as well.  So…look for your favorite author on Facebook.  If they have a personal presence, consider sending them a friend request.  You can friend me at

Ask your local library to carry their books. Library systems vary greatly in budgets and ability to act on patron requests, but you never know until you try! Sometimes all it takes is a single request for a book to get placed in the ordering system.  And even if your library can’t carry THIS book, you’ll have put your favorite author on their radar screen for the next time they order.  Just think, you may be introducing  your favorite author to dozens of readers by requesting a single book!

Recommend their book to your book club. If you belong to a book club, why not have the club read one of their books? Book clubs are fun because then not only do people read your favorite author, but it gives you the perfect opportunity to gush about their work in a socially acceptable format.  And don’t we all love to gush about authors we love?

Pin their cover on Pinterest.  Why not create a board on Favorite Books, or “To-Die-For Reads” and fill it with your favorite authors work?  Let their covers help you do the talking!

Click on “get notifications.” Facebook algorithms are tricky beasts, likely to never even present a post for your viewing pleasure. If you want to see what your favorite author has to say, click on “get notifications” from them, and ask your friends to click on “get notifications” from you. That way you won’t miss out on your favorite author’s most brilliant posts, and when you share them with your friends, Facebook is likely to actually show them!

Write about their work in a blog article.  This one takes more effort than the tips I’ve posted so far, but you bloggers are always looking for something great to write about, right?  How about your favorite author’s work? Don’t have a review blog?  No problem!  If you’re a dog buff, write about your favorite dog writer in a dog training blog.  Like knitting?  There are lots of knitting cozies.  History buff?  There’s a TON of historical fiction out there.  Use your imagination!

Visit their website. When was the last time you visited your favorite author’s website? Chances are, you’re missing out on great information about their upcoming work, signings, blog articles, and news.  And how will you know if you don’t visit?  Your favorite authors put a lot of time and energy into those cyber-information warehouses.  Reward them by reading it!  You might find out something cool that you want to pass along!  Mine, if you’re interested, is

Talk about their work in Goodreads groups.  Goodreads groups exist for almost every genre, and then some! It is generally frowned upon for authors to chat up their own work, but members usually love it when fans chat about their favorite authors. (After all, that’s the whole point of the groups!) I belong to several great cozy groups, a dog writing group, and a yoga one, but groups exist for every genre.  Even better, the people who hang out in these groups are likely the very readers who would most enjoy discovering newauthors!

Remember, I got all these ideas from Tracy Weber.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Another Five Ways to Help an Author

Here are 5 more suggestion from Tracy Weber

Point out their books at your local bookstore.  Maybe your local bookstore carries their books, maybe it doesn’t. But booksellers aren’t always familiar with all of the books they carry.  Lord knows, they certainly can’t read them all! The next time you’re at a book store, talk up your favorite author with one of the employees.  Point out the cover.  Tell them what you love.  You might just provide the information that helps that employee connect a future customer with your favorite author’s work!

Tweet your heart out!  I have to confess—I’m a Twidiot.  I send out a Tweet every now and again, and I can retweet with the best of them, but I still need to learn more about this tool to use it effectively.  Particularly if your favorite author is a YA author, Twitter is crucial to their success.  So, Tweet about them!  Tweet links to their “buy” sites, links to their author pages, or anything else you think your followers would like.

Talk about them in Facebook groups.  Your favorite author’s genre likely has fan groups on Goodreads, and they are the perfect hangout spot to talk up your author with people who won’t roll their eyes and start snoring.  Share what you like about their recent work and browse other threads to discover new favorites.  You might even make a new friend or two!

Tell your friends and family about their books.  We all get so hung up on social media that we forget we have real live people that we talk to every day.  Word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell books, and when it comes in the form of a smiling face, it works even better.  If you contact your favorite author, she may be willing to send you bookmarks or other promotional material to give out.  (I know I am!)  Go forth and talk about books!

Shelf their books on Shelfari! I have to admit, this is a tool I’ve only played with, but it’s a goldmine of information for readers.  Books listed can have everything from character descriptions, to parent notes, to plot synopses, to reviews. And I haven’t even looked at the groups yet.  Check it out!

Buy Links:

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Dark Side by M. E. May

Purged is the fourth novel in the Circle City Mystery Series and the darkest of the group. As in book two, Inconspicuous, I feature a serial killer as my antagonist. Why, you may ask, is a sweet grandmother of four writing about such horrendous crimes? Unfortunately, they happen in real life much too often, and because not only do those who commit these crimes fascinate me, they fascinate many people.

I grew up in the 1960’s with college protests against the Viet Nam War, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy. With more widespread news coverage in the 1960’s and 1970’s came the stories of the murders by the Manson followers; Charles Whitman’s psychotic break which led him to a tower at Texas University where he shot forty-three people; and Richard Speck’s notorious murders of the nursing students in Chicago. All of these crimes and more repulsed me, but also sparked my interest in psychology of humans.

Often, the study of psychopaths, sociopaths, and those who have psychotic breaks leads us down a dark path. This is especially true when an author tries to observe the world from the killer’s point of view. In both of my serial killer novels, I used the antagonists’ points of view as well as those of the victims and the detectives. These killers each had different influences and mindsets and most people would view them as abnormal or “crazy.” However, that’s not always the case.

My antagonists have differing psychotic breaks, so yes, they are mentally ill. However, the sociopath and psychopath look at their killing as normal and can live amongst us without detection for long periods of time without our suspecting a thing.

The most normal traits are found in the psychopath. They tend to be very organized so they not only can hold down a job; they can have good relationships with family and friends, and are great neighbors. The psychopath often marries and has a family, all of whom are very unaware that this person feels absolutely nothing real for them. To the psychopath and the sociopath, feelings of empathy, sympathy, concern and guilt do not exist. However, they understand the “dictionary meaning” and like any good actor, can fake them.

Of course, not all psychopaths or sociopaths become killers. Some become high-level executives, politicians, and con artists, especially those with narcissistic personalities. Again, not all who seek these professions (except maybe the con artist) have psychopathic personalities.

Recluses who don’t fit well into society are often harmless and avoid other humans, but they would fit the sociopathic personality.

Keeping some of these personality traits in mind, it’s important for writers to evaluate their characters before they label them. We all strive to be as accurate as possible since our readers are so knowledgeable. If your character is organized, friendly, maintains relationships, and works well with others in his community, but has this one little flaw. For the pleasure of it, he takes women out to the middle of a lake, murders them and then dumps them there. He is probably a psychopath. If your character can’t hold down a job, stay married, and appears to be antisocial, he/she is definitely a sociopath.

Of course, you will have many psychotic disorders to choose from in order to have your character see things and do things he/she doesn’t feel they can control. In Inconspicuous, my character was physically and mentally abused as a child and has severe abandonment issues. He may even be thought of as paranoid-schizophrenic. A grandmother who has pounded her religious beliefs tainted by her hatred for others into his head since infancy has mentally abused the character in Purged. Now he believes he is an avenging angel who God has sent to purge the world of sin.

You can find a lot of information on the internet regarding serial killers, and mental disorders which might lead one to murder. The FBI has information and statistics on their website: You may want to search the for articles on serial killers and mental disorders. Search for the article “Portrait of a Psychopath” on WebMD. It is fascinating.

If you ever want to ask me questions about my research or comment on this article, please go to the Contact ME page on my website and I’ll be happy to give you an answer or recommend a website.

Michele (M.E.) May attended Indiana University in Kokomo, Indiana, studying Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her interest in the psychology of humans sparked the curiosity to ask why they commit such heinous acts upon one another. Other interests in such areas as criminology and forensics have moved her to put her vast imagination to work writing crime fiction that is as accurate as possible. In doing so, she depicts societal struggles that pit those who understand humanity with those who are lost in a strange and dangerous world of their own making.
In creating the Circle City Mystery Series, she brings to life fictional characters who work diligently to bring justice to victims of crime in the city of Indianapolis. Michele also hopes her readers will witness through her eyes, the wonderful city she calls her hometown. Learn more about Michele at
Twitter:  @memayauthor

Saturday, May 2, 2015


by  Jan Christensen


Some writers don’t seem to have any trouble carving out time most days to write. But my impression is that most of us do have some difficulty with that aspect of “the business.”

When you dissect it, the writing process is not as straightforward as it would seem. Yes, at some point we have to sit down and “open a vein,” letting the words come to us either agonizingly slowly, in a huge gush, or somewhere in between.

But there’s some things to be done before that even happens. Number one is to find the best time of day to write, and number two is to figure out if you’re a plotter or a pantster. And then, you do have to sit down in the chair (or stand at the desk if you’re into that way of writing now) and open that vein.

Finding the right time for you every day can be tricky. I’ve met some writers who thought they couldn’t write in the morning (“I’m not a morning person!”), until they had no other choice but to get up before everyone else and write for an hour or so without interruptions. I’ve met writers who swore they couldn’t bear to get on the computer after working at one all day and do some of their own writing. But once they decided to take a short break after dinner and got to it, they could. Others didn’t want to give up their lunch hours to write.

If you’re having trouble finding the best time for you to write, I suggest you try each one of those times for two weeks and see how it goes. Keep track of word counts every day. Then you will simply have to pick the time where you did the best.

Now, if you like to plot your stories out, you’ll have to spend time doing that. Will that be during the hour or so you found to be your best writing time, or will it be at some other time? Can you perhaps sit for ten or fifteen minutes at the beginning of each writing session and plot out what you want to accomplish that day? Or do you need to have the whole project plotted before you even start? If the latter, you’re going to have to decide how to get that plot crafted.

Most successful writers I know or know about do have a set routine. Hemingway would go to his office every morning and stay there for four hours. Mary Higgens Clark got up an hour every morning before her children awoke and wrote. Repeating the same routine very day becomes hypnotic.

Just remember. You cannot edit something that’s not written. So, you have to figure out how to get ‘er done.


Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey. She bounced around the world as an Army wife, and in Texas when her husband retired. After traveling for eleven years in a motorhome, she settled down in the Texas Coastal Bend.

Published novels are: Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, Blackout, Buried Under Clutter and most recently, A Broken Life. 

She's had over sixty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years. She also writes a series of short stories about Artie, a NY burglar who gets into some very strange situations while on the job. 

Learn more at her website:

Buy links for A Broken Life: