Friday, August 28, 2015

Calling the Dead by Marilyn Meredtih

Anyone who has read many of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series knows that Tempe is often visited by spirits. This began when she called back the dead to find out the truth about a murder and suicide in Calling the Dead. 

From that time on, Tempe has had regular visits from the dead or other spirits in nearly every book

In Spirit Shapes, it's not only ghosts but also evil spirits who confront Tempe in a very haunted house.

A different kind of spirits greet Tempe in this story about a movie being made on the Bear Creek Indian reservation.

In the latest, Not as it Seems, ghostly visitations abound when Tempe visits Morro Bay and becomes involved in a murder investigation.

All the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, are avaiable in various formats direction from the online bookstores, by ordering through a physical book store, or visiting the publisher:

Marilyn Meredith

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Last Two Free Days for No Bells

When I was planning No Bells I went to my police buddies and asked for a funny vice crime.

And boy, did I get one. When you read NO BELLS you can't miss it--and it was perfect for this book. 

As usual, Officer Gordon Butler is sent to tackle the strangest crimes. Besides the one I mentioned above, he also has to tackle a trespassing seagull.

In case you didn't know, Rocky Bluff, the setting of these mysteries is a small beach town between Santa Barbara and Ventura. It is also a fictional town with a fictional police department. You won't find either one if you travel down 101. 

However, it has some resemblances to other small beach towns in the nearby areas. Though because it's between two big tourist attractions, it doesn't  receive much attention or tourist dollars. 

I hope you'll try NO BELLS--free on Kindle only today and tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

One of my Favorite Characters--The Hairy Man

The Hairy Man, similar to Big Foot, is legendary on the Tule River Indian Reservation. Many sightings have been documented. In a rock cave on the reservation there's a pictograph of the Hairy Man, his wife and child.

The Hairy Man makes his first appearance in Dispel the Mist. On the cover is a depiction much like it looks on the rock wall--except there he's 8 foot tall!

and of course on Amazon.

He also is mentioned in Invisible Path.

River Spirits is he latest book where the Hairy Man shows up.

Because the Hairy Man is such an important part of the Tule River Indian Reservation, of course he needs to be an important part of the Bear Creek Indian Reservation too.

If you haven't already, you might enjoy reading about this mythical (or not) legend.

Marilyn Meredith

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Gift to You on My Birthday

Yes, that's right, from today, August 24 through August 28th, NO BELLS will be free on Kindle!

Officer Gordon Butler is a hard-luck guy. Things just never go right for him, but he's won the heart of many of my readers.

In NO BELLS Gordon meets the woman of his dreams but she's a murder suspect.

If you haven't met Officer Butler yet, this is a good way to get acquainted.

And if you've never read a Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, you might start here.

F.M. aka Marilyn Meredith

This is a great way to wish me a Happy Birthday!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Another of my Favorites: Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits is high on my list of favorites in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.

Not only are there many kindred spirits in the book, I met a kindred spirit who was the inspiration for this book. Junie Mattice, a Tolowa Indian, who hosted a book signing for me, told me all about the history of the Tolowa people, and became an instant friend. She has such a strong personality, I created two characters based on her in the Crescent City part of the book.

Junie is no longer with us, but her spirit certainly lingers on. 

Besides the history of the Tolowa, some of which is included in Kindred Spirits, she also told me about her knowledge and experiences with Big Foot. (This led me to learning more about the Big Foot legend and a similar character who lives on the Tule River Reservation, the Hairy Man. I'll write about him in the next blog post.)

When the book came out, I had a wonderful book launch at a bed and breakfast in Crescent City. Junie and I both spoke at the event, and we signed books side by side. We also did an event together at the Crescent City Library.

My life was enriched by this wonderful woman and I can truly callher a kindred spirit.

This is one of the books where Tempe travels to real places in order to solve a mystery: Crescent City CA and Santa Barbara, CA.

Kindred Spirits is available in all the usual places as well as from the publisher in many formats.

Marilyn Meredith

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which Book is Your Favorite? by Marilyn Meredith

When I have my book on display, readers often ask me this question as a way to decide which of my books they should purchase.

That question is much like asking a mother which of her children is her favorte.

Frankly, I don't have a favorite. For the next few days I'll write about some of the books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, and what I like about each one.

Today, I'll write about Bears With Us.

First, I really love this cover!

Right now, we're in the middle of a drought here in the foothills of the Sierra, which means we've had several fires around us--and the wildlife has come down to find water and food. And among this wildlife, of course are bears.

Neighbors have reported bear scat on their patios. One scared woman posted that she had a mama bear and two cubs roaming around her house and was afraid to come out. Trash cans have been overturned. Yes, the bears are with us again.

Some of that was going on while I was writing Bears With Us, but the real impetus came from my grandson who at the time was an Aspen CO policeman and spent a great deal of time chasing bears out of people's homes.

I also had just learned about an interesting form of Alzheimer's, Lewy Body Dementia.

I managed to come up with a plot using both topics--and had a lot of fun doing it.

So, if you haven't read, Bears With Us yet, hop on over to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to get a copy--available in print or as an e-book.

And for all the different formats, head on over to the publisher's site: 

--Marilyn Meredith

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It Won't be Long Now

Not as it Seems, the latest in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries will soon be available.

Exactly when, I don't know yet, but things are moving along as they should be. My best guess is sometime before the end of this month.

I did something different with this book. It's not set in the Sierra. Tempe and her husband Hutch have gone to Morro Bay to participate in their son, Blair's wedding. Hutch will officiate. This is the first time they get to meet Blair's fiance, Amaresh. 

Of course there's a mystery to solve--Amaresh's maid of honor is missing.

Usually I write about fictious places with some resemblance to real places. This book is different. Morro Bay is a very real place--one that I love to visit. I've included many of the real places to visit and eat in and around the area.

I do hope that I got everything right. I had a lot of help from my friends in the Central Coast Sisters in Crime who live there--but if I got something wrong, it's my fault, not theirs.

I'm hoping that the story itself will be fascinating enough to keep my readers from worrying about how accurate I was.

 Marilyn Meredith

Monday, August 17, 2015

Working on Two Mystery Series

The last of my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series has been out for a half a year. During that time I've been promoting it a lot.

A writer today spends as much time promoting as writing. And believe me, we'd all rather be writing. But--how are readers going to know about our books unless we tell them?

While I was busy promoting Violent Departures I was writing the next book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series--Not as it Seems. While writing I was reading it chapter by chapter to my critique group.

One all the chapters had been read and worked over, I went over the whole book again, and finally sent it off to my publisher, Mundania Press. I soon received back the edits, agreed with most, and sent it back. Got it back a second time and found a few things to change. Next was the galley proof--again I found some mistakes. 

Now, it's waiting time. I haven't seen the cover yet, and I must confess, I'm anxious to see what the cover artist will come up with.

But no, I'm not resting. I've been busy writing the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. In fact, I'm nearly through with the first draft. And my critique group has heard and seen a few of the first chapters.

Because this is a different publisher, once I've gotten it edited to my satisfaction, I'll send it off to another editor I've used several times. She's good at catching consistency errors and things that just aren't right. And then, and only then, I'll send it off to the publisher, Oak Tree Press.

And oh, yes, I've been planning the promotion for Not as it Seems.

In case you haven't figured it out, this whole process is like a round robin with speed bumps along the way.

If you're behind in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, last year's book was River Spirits.

All my books are available on Kindle and in paper from Amazon.

The Deputy Tempe Crabtree books can be ordered in various formats from Mundania. 

Marilyn who is also known as F. M. Meredith

Saturday, August 15, 2015

HEALER by John Wills, an update.

Hi Marilyn. Since we last talked, my novel, HEALER, has done quite well. In fact, it won an award at the 2015 Public Safety Writers Association Conference in Las Vegas. For those who have yet to read HEALER, here’s a short blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Billy Anderson’s short life has been full of daunting challenges. A birth defect, and later, the death of his parents, has forced him to live with his Aunt Staci who serves as his guardian. That situation becomes untenable for Billy and he chooses to live on the street, rather than suffer the humility and neglect from his own relative. One day things change dramatically for Billy when he receives the “Gift of Healing.” Not only does Billy’s own life take a dramatic turn, but also his new gift affects those around him. Is this gift a blessing or a curse?

I’ve had many favorable reviews. said, “The hardest thing for Christians to comprehend is the mind of God. The most common question asked of Him is “Why?” At the heart of this uplifting novel, Healer, author John M. Wills explores these themes in a heart-warming and heart-breaking story.”

The Catholic Writers Guild review just blew me away. “Healer reminds me of a Norman Rockwell print. Rockwell could transform the most ordinary, everyday events into the most extraordinary images. He filled his portraits with warm, happy, generous, uplifting people. . . Wills finds the extraordinary, the superhero — the healer.”

One thing I didn’t realize when I wrote this book was its broad appeal. I have had many people tell me it’s appropriate for the entire family, particularly young adult readers who seem to favor the story. I shouldn’t be surprised since I had my 17-year-old grandson, Colin, read each chapter to ensure I was accurate with the teen lingo and mannerisms. By the way, Colin appears on the cover of HEALER.

Not only did I win an award for my novel, but I also won awards for poetry, flash fiction, and non-fiction. I think one of the ways of becoming a good/successful writer is to challenge yourself by writing in different genres and experimenting in areas that are not  quite as familiar. My biggest fear in writing was poetry. I’ve never taken any writing classes, nor have I ever studied poetry. Yet I find the challenge of conveying feelings and emotion through poetry to be one that helps me grow in other areas of my writing. I’d recommend this approach to all authors, particularly, those who may feel their writing has become stagnant or who may have writer’s block.

Another key component to becoming a better writer is to become a better reader. Not only should you read books within your own genre, but also include those that aren’t. Seeing how others write, how they develop plots and characters, is almost akin to taking a writing course. On the flip side of that is being able to see flaws in the works of other writers. The ability to discern writing mistakes can only improve one’s own skills. I’ve also been a book reviewer the past seven years for the New York Journal of Books. I credit that endeavor with improving my own writing.

As always you can follow me on Facebook (John M. Wills), Twitter (@johnmwills), my website:, and my blog:

Thanks, Marilyn, for allowing me to share with your readers!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Paths to Publishing from the PSWA Conference

A popular panel at the recent PSWA Conference was about publishing. Those on the panel were:
Billie Johnson, Geno Munari, Mysti Berry, Thonie Hevron, Bob Doer, Kathy Ryan. Michelle Perin moderated.

How to get a publisher was discussed.

Panelist also talked about their own paths to publishing.

Munari said he'd print a book at a competive price and do it quickly.  He is also becoming more selective about what he's publishing, would like more unusual topics. But the author needs to do his own marketing.

Kathleen Ryan told about writing stories of 20 words or less led to a New York City booksigning.

Billie Johnson, publisher of Oak Tree Books, said you need to know your market and to look for a publisher who has good distribution.

Bob Doer reminded authors that they need to have their book edited before looking for a publisher.

You need to understand the publisher's contract.

You need a marketing plan ahead of time. (Many publishers ask for this when you submit your query or proposal.)

Michelle said, you need to make sure the publisher is right for you.

At this time, Mysti just publishes graphic novels, but is thinking about going into traditional publishing.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Good Writing is Rewriting

This was another panel topic at the PSWA Conference this year.

On the panel were Eileen Magill, Bob Doerr,  Scott Decker, Michael Brandt, and Sam Bradley. Marilyn Olsen moderatied.

  • Get everything out first--then do the rewrite.
  • Different author do things their own ways, some editing as they write.
  • Discussed who else might be involved in the rewrite:
An editor, critique group, readers.
  • Be careful who you use as an editor.
  • Don't over analyze.
  • One writer sees the story in his mind, then blazes his wayt though the story.
  • Need to make it clear for the reader.
  • Be sure to incorporate dialogue.
  • Be careful not to rearrange chapters ot that big clues come to soon.

What to avoid when rewiring.

  • Don't fall in love with the first draft.
  • Don't keep rewriting the first three chapters.
There was more, but that's all I managed to catch in my notes.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


My recently released book FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST has a bit of history…about 17 years’ worth, to be honest.  I actually first wrote the original manuscript and title for this book back in 1998.  At that time, I was only writing articles and short stories, mostly through the Public Safety Writers Association (known as the Police Writers Club). 

Having never written a book before, I spiral bound it at home and put it aside.  I ran across it again early in 2014, sat down and read through it one more time.  That’s when I decided to give it the acid test and submit it to the Public Safety Writers Association’s 2014 Writing Competition.  My decision was, if it bombed there, that was to be the end of it.  Imagine my surprise when it won First Place in the Fiction Book Non-published category.

At that point, I was inspired to see if I could have it published.  So,I  rewrote it until a fellow author told me to stop  because I could rewrite myself into eternity.  Since I respect his opinion on such matters, I ceased and sent the manuscript off to my editor.  

When she was finished,  I submitted it to my publisher to see if she wanted to publish or reject it.  Again, to my shock, my soon-to-be book was accepted immediately. 

I do believe the award helped that along tremendously.  Six months later, it was on the market in mid-June 2015 with the award sticker proudly on the cover.  I live in a tourist town that has a “season”, so the publisher accommodated that for me.  Such co-operation is very much appreciated, I have to add.

The message I want to convey is to never give up on your work.  You may be surprised when an item you have tossed aside evolves into something totally unexpected.


First place award winning fiction novel, “Footprints in the Frost” introduces homicide detective, Max Richards, and involves his life both on the job and away from it.  When he is hand-picked by the chief of police to work a long and complicated serial rape case involving five beautiful victims with whom he must spend much time, his life with girlfriend and bookstore owner, Sami Murphy, becomes extremely complicated.  Escaping from the city hustle and bustle to his beautiful and remote Colorado mountain cabin, the two of them attempt to relax and try to untangle the knots in their relationship.  What will happen to this couple who are tremendously bonded, but have to decide if their jobs and lives can meld permanently or if it would be better to go their separate ways?

Award winning writer and author, Jackie’s first book is "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey With Grief.  Her first place award winning fiction novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" was released in June 2015. She is also a contributing author in the anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865." She has poetry published in "Echoes From the Silence" and "Dusting Off Dreams".

Writing professionally for the last 25 years, she’s had numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990 and has been a member of the Public Safety Writers Association since its inception as the Police Writers Club in 1994. In the last three years, she has won seven writing awards.

A native of Kentucky and raising her family in Cincinnati, Ohio,  Jackie has lived in a beautiful tourist town high in the mountains of Colorado with her 42-year veteran law enforcement husband for the last 34 years and both are now retired.

Buy Links:  Trade paperback & Kindle –;
Trade paperback:


Friday, August 7, 2015

Spicing up Presentations by Ron Corbin

This came from my notes taken at the PSWA conference. This was an excellent presentation.

Ron's stated goal was to improve our presentation skills and grab the attention of the audience.

Start and stop on time. 

Difficult times for presentations:

Right before lunch.
Last time slot of the day.
Last day of the conference.

Emotions/Connected to Topic

Your Dress
Your Attitude
Audience Needs to be Able to Understand you
(Don't say ah)

Audience Participation

Set guidelines for audience questions.
Walk toward the person and make eye-contact.
Walk backward, respond to the audience.

Control Stage Fright

Know your target audience
Make eye contact.
Use Humor

Use Training Aids

Flip charts
Overhead projector
Video Equipment
Actual Objects

Be prepared for problems

Summarize what you said.

Questions and answers

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

You Based that Character on Me!

Yes, I have based lots of characters on people I know.

I have a friend who asked me to put her in a book, I didn't use her name, just everything else about her: her looks, her personality, her dogs, her house. All of her friends said I did it perfectly. I followed up by putting her in a second book.

One of the main characters in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries is Nick Two John--his looks came from a local Indian whom I've never met in person, but have seen numerous times from afar.He called me once and I thought he was going to say something about that, but he didn't. He wanted to compliment me on what I wrote about a Pow Wow.

Bits and pieces of people I know or met along the way from appearance to personality quirks I've borrowed for my characters, and no one has ever recognized themselves.

But recently, my sister read my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Violent Departures, and she mentioned on Facebook that I'd used her as a character. If I did, I certainly didn't do it on purpose.

I did use an incident that happened in one of the houses she lived in--she'd baked a cake and it was sitting on the kitchen counter and without anyone close by, it flipped off and landed upside down on the floor. Perfect, for what I was writing about.

Here's an excerpt about the character that my sister thinks I based on her:

The living room of Gladys Greenwalt’s house wasn’t anything like Stacey expected. Dolls of every kind from Cabbage Patch to historical figures crowded together in large and small curio cases and glassed-in cabinets. One built-in wall cabinet held every kind of Barbie doll Stacey had ever seen and many she hadn’t. The rest of the room was filled with color and clashing fabrics. Except for the blue plaid matching chairs which Stacey and Ms. Greenwalt sat in, the rest of the furniture was covered in orange, green and brown stripes. Pillows and afghans with flowers and polka dots were tucked in corners and draped over sofas and chairs.

Yes, my sister has a collection of dolls that is in a built-in glassed cabinet. But there aren't an other curio cases with dolls, nor is her living room filled with clashing fabrics.

I reread the description of Gladys Greenwalt and I can assure you, she looks nothing like my sister.

Sure the doll collection had a similarity to my sister's, but I really wasn't thinking about it when I wrote it. But it does show how everything sticks in the writer's mind and is liable to come out at the most unsuspecting times.

I love my sister, and I am happy she enjoyed the book.

Marilyn Meredith

Violent Departures by F.M. Meredith (yes, that's me) is available on Amazon on Kindle or in paper. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Some Advice to Those Who Are Planning to Write a Book

Number one, learn about the craft of writing. Yes, there are rules--and rules can be broken, but not before you know what they are.

Read books and magazines about writing, go to writers' conferences, join a critique group. Read the type of books you want to write.

Know the basics.

Do you know what POV means and how to use it correctly?

Do you know how to use dialogue effectively and how to use actions and description as dialogue tags?

Do you know how to develop interesting characters?

Do you know how to balance action, dialogue and narrative?

Do you know how to get rid of your pet words and phrases?

If you plan on self-publishing at the very least your book should have:

Page numbers

Chapters that begin on the right hand page.

No page numbers on the first page of the chapter.

Alternating the title and the author's name at the top of the page, not appearing on the chapter page.

A separate page for each, title page, dedication and acknowledgements.

Indentation for the beginning of paragraphs, not 2 spaces between paragraphs.

(Save the 2 spaces to indicate a new scene or change of viewpoint.)

No matter how good the book is, if it's not fromatted right people do notice. It will cause a mark down in contests and by reviewers.


Get rid of repeated words and phrases.

Only keep what's important to the story.

Eliminate empty adverbs--use descriptive verbs instead.

Get rid of "to be" words, replace with active, vivid verbs.

Describe the scene as the POV character sees it.

Show what's going on--don't tell about if after the fact.

* * *
Be professional.

Be careful what you say online.

Don't badmouth other publishers and authors.

And never get into a conflict with a reviewer.

Hope this helps someone.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

LINCOLN 9 by Dave Freedland

Dave Freedland is one of the members of PSWA who attended the recent conference. It's a pleasure to have him visit my blog and discuss his book.

Lincoln 9

It had always been my plan to write following retirement; but I chose fiction because I thought that it might be an interesting way to be creative. I had saved most of my “day-timer” calendars and steno pads over the years with the cryptic notes chronicling my numerous calls for service, crimes investigated, and SWAT call-outs.

I wanted to write something which I felt had not been sufficiently covered in works of either fiction or non-fiction. For years, the image of Special Weapons and Tactics teams members had been that of knuckle-dragging, heavy handed individuals whose only solution to problems was the application of force. However, over time that stereotype began to evolve as more educated, problem-solving leaders filled the ranks of SWAT operators, as evidenced by their frequent top tier placement in supervisory promotional processes.

In Lincoln 9, I created a story about one such individual who, through his experiences in special operations, became the leader of a team of detectives charged with the identification and apprehension of a serial killer.

I took three (3) actual homicide cases that occurred in the City of Irvine, California over a twenty year period and combined them into a plot involving one suspect responsible for all three. It is my hope that readers will develop a greater appreciation of the complexities of homicide investigations, and that the characters will present the sense of tension, teamwork, and professionalism that accompanies elite law enforcement units.

 Based upon its ratings and the comments made by several reviewers, Lincoln 9, appears to have, thus far, achieved its desired results.
Lincoln 9


When Bethany Crutchfield failed to show for Sunday brunch, and her father’s phone calls remained unanswered, it became apparent that his concern was justified regarding her welfare. Police officers from “America’s Safest City,” Irvine, California, discovered a gruesome homicide scene which established Bethany as the first in a series of murders that would ultimately span over two decades.
Lincoln 9 takes place in a city whose reputation for safety and affluence overshadows the fact that the relatively few homicides are among the most vicious and complex cases of human brutality. This is a story of three such cases, combined into a fictional plot and characters, but based upon actual crimes and police officers who risked their lives to bring justice to the perpetrators of these heinous acts of violence.

The story follows the career of Lieutenant Scott Hunter, the consummate cop who ultimately leads a team of detectives in connecting the clues toward solving these murders. His talents not only instilled confidence in the members of his elite unit, but drew the attention of an attractive co-worker remarkably matched in interest and intellect.

Amazon Buy Link: 


Dave Freedland

Dave Freedland is a 34-year, decorated law enforcement professional, having served with the Irvine Police, and the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Departments. Following a competitive athletic career culminating with the award of “UCLA’s Most Valuable Gymnast,” he graduated first in his Sheriff’s academy class.  While serving with the Irvine Police Department he managed a variety of assignments including Detectives, Patrol, Internal Affairs, SWAT, and retired at the rank of Deputy Chief of Police.

Deputy Chief Freedland was raised in Long Beach, attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on an athletic scholarship, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He earned a Master’s Degree in public administration from Pepperdine University, and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

As a competitor in martial arts, he is a former Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national karate , and has trained in Japan, earning a 6th degree black belt in Japanese Shotokan karate. His first novel, Lincoln 9, was published October 2014, by Oak Tree Press.