Thursday, February 11, 2016

Heading Over to the Coast

Everyone who knows me, knows that I love the coast--meaning the Pacific coast. My destination is Ventura.

I'm not going for pleasure, though I know I'll have a great time. Our annual PSWA board meeting begins tomorrow--and believe me, we work.

However, I'm also going to see two of my daughters (the other one will be with me as she's driving.) One  youngest daughter lives in Camarillo which is nearby and the eldest is coming to Ventura and will be camping at the beach.

I'm also going to see friends (the other board members) who I only get to see twice a year--at the PSWA conference and this board meeting.

The Rocky Bluff P.D. series is set in a fictional place above Ventura.

This first night, I'll be having dinner with family.

Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Semi-Colon or Not?

On one of my lists there's been an ongoing discussion about the use of semi-colons.

At one time I liberally sprinkled all my writing with semi-colons. Not anymore.

For one thing, I think they tend to stick-out and be far more noticeable than a comma. An if you really think a semi-colon should be there, why not just make the phrase into two sentences?

What really cured me was when I had an agent many years ago and he scolded me for using semi-colons in dialogue. What he told me was, "People don't speak with semi-colons."

When I'm writing dialogue, I hear the character's voice in my head. When he or she would pause for a breath, a comma seems to work best to convey this. Of course a period follows a complete sentence.

Frankly, unless someone sprinkles semi-colons throughout his or her writing, I seldom notice. The key really is if the writing captures my interest enough that I don't pay attention to things like the use of semi-colons.

What do you think? 

Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith

Coming soon, A Crushing Death, #12 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What I've Been Up to Lately by Marilyn Meredith

Yes, I've been busy--but I always am.

In the writing part of my life, I've been working on my blog tour for A Crushing Death. The schedule is set, the posts are all written and I've sent off most of them. Before I send each one, I carefully go over it, trying to eliminate all typos and other errors. From much experience, I know that I'll miss some that I won't see until the day they're printed.

I've also been working on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I'm at an exciting part, but haven't really had much time to write. I read a chapter each week to my writing group, which means I do have to be at least on chapter ahead.

Those who are my real life or Facebook friends know there are many other things that take my time:

Number one is family--and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my family and spending time with them.

Number two is my church. I teach a Sunday School class of 3rd through 5th graders, most boys. I've had anywhere from 14 to 8 every Sunday. Some of these kids have rough home lives--I like to remind them that Jesus loves them no matter what--I do too, but sometimes neither of us likes what they do.

I'm still active with the residential care business and write a newsletter for them once a month which means I need to keep up with all the changes that come along. I answer lots of question via email and over the phone. Plus, I write program designs for people wanting to go into the residential care business.

I'm also the newsletter editor for the Public Safety Writers Association. I gather articles from the members, edit them, and get them ready for the guru who posts thems on the website. This newsletter comes out quarterly.

I love to read, go to the movies, and have dinner out. Actually, I don't mind cooking-but I get tired of doing it. I not only like to try new foods and like to try new recipes. So you can see, I don'thave my nose to the grindstone all the time.

Tell me what keeps you busy?

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Favorite Writing Conference

Over the years, I've attended many mystery and writers conferences. A couple of my favorites have disappeared.

Organizing and putting on a conference or convention is a major undertaking and depends upon willing volunteers. Sometimes, the volunteers wear out or get too old, leading to the demise of the event.

The two biggest mystery cons, Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime are going strong. I've attended many of both and they are great if you like to see many mystery writers and fans gathered together. Both are big events with lots of people. 

This year I'm only attending one conference and it's my favorite, the Public Safety Writers Association's writing conference. This one is small with only one track, and believe me everyone stays for everything.

Though the program isn't up on the website yet (will be soon), it will have a good mix of writing presentations and public safety topics, including some panels. Anyone who wants to be on a panel, just marks that on the registration form.

Something new: before the conference begins there is a writing workshop from 9 to 3. For anyone wanting some good writing tips and comments on their work in progress, this would be good to sign up for--and yes, I'm one of the facilitators.

Registration begins at 3, followed by a get-acquainted reception at 6, with snack food and a no-host bar.

Bright and early Friday at 9 a.m., the first session begins. Friday and Saturday go until 5 p.m. or so, and Sunday ends after the writing awards are handed out after lunch.

The conference is always held in the Orleans hotel in Las Vegas in July which means great hotel prices. Frankly, I never step out of the hotel until the conference is over, there is plenty to do right there, but it's easy enough to get a shuttle to go elsewhere in the evening if you're so inclined.

What I like about this conference is you really have the opportunity to get acquainted with other mystery writers and all sorts of experts in many law enforcement and other public safety fields.

And yes, you can bring books for sale.

For details and registration about the conference go to

If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

One of our great lunch times.
Me at the bookstore with two of my books

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On the release of my second Indie novel and what I've learned...

by Linda Hall

Its relatively easy to get your first book out there as an Indie author. You probably already have that one novel in a drawer which has been through the rounds of agents, editors, elevator pitches, and fifteen-minute-conference-sessions-with-experts. Despite all the good advice, you still dont have a publisher. So you decide to follow the lead of many modern authors and self-publish it. After hiring a cover designer and editor, its out there. And it wasnt so hard. Its really not rocket science. Getting that second one out there, however, and the third one, the fourth, can be more challenging.

After publishing twenty mysteries with traditional publishers in the Christian/Inspirational market I was ready for a change. I wanted to branch out and write not romance, but mainstream mystery. Everyone was down on the idea, though. My agent told me I would lose readers. Writer friends would say, “What if you lose your fan base. Do you really want to do that?”

Yes. I really wanted to do that. If I had to stay one more day in Inspirational Romance, well, Im afraid I would go screaming into the night with my can of spray paint.

When my agent couldnt sell it, my only recourse was to strike out on my own and publish it myself. Well, I digress, I did publish something else first. As a sort of experiment, I put together a bunch of short stories that Id had in drawers and notebooks and file cabinets and entitled it Strange Faces. That was a few months before I released Night Watch. I guess I wanted to see what would happen. When the sky didnt fall, I got Night Watch ready for publication.

Night Watch, the first book in my new mystery series had gone through so many edits and agent edits that I was pretty confident of the story and the solidness of the writing.

That was fall of 2014, and then it hit me. I was in this. I had to come up with a second book. Fans were already emailing me! With a bit of fear and a lot of trepidation I started on The Bitter End. But, this time I was really on my own. I had no agent to bounce ideas off of, no in-house editor to brainstorm with.

I used NaNoWriMo to get the bones down for the story. I rewrote and polished and rewrote and polished and paid for a professional editor and cover designer was able to release it this past November, just about a year after I started it. Now, Im working on a third. Maybe there will even be a fourth.

Heres what Ive learned:

1.As an Indie author, you are chief cook and bottle washer, table setter, waitress and sign painter and ad copy writer. You are everything. If there is a typo, you cant shake your head and say, “Oh, that stupid publisher of mine.” But have no fear, there are a whole lot of good people (editors, designers, formatters, publicists) out there waiting for you to hire them. 

2. Write your heart. I had all sorts of people, which included fans and readers, who wanted me to continue in Christian romantic suspense. I could not. My heart wasnt there. (Cue the spray paint.)

3. Use NaNoWriMo each November to get down the skeleton of the book. At the end of that crazy month you will be surprised at how much work is done on the book.

4. Hire professionals. I shouldnt even have to say this - but get professional editors, cover designers, formatters, proofers etc. 

5. Schedule your days as if you had a contract. Back when I was writing for publishing companies, my normal output was a book every twelve to 18 months. Im a slow and careful writer, and it does take me that long. No matter what I do, I can’t make that timeline any faster. The time it takes is the time it takes.

6. Dont let people tell you that good writers always outline. Dont let people tell you that good writers write never outline. Your book is your baby. About a hundred years ago when I was a young mother and had small babies, I remember all of the “advice” that threatened to turn me into a neurotic new mother. I finally learned to simply smile and thank  people for their unsolicited advice, and then do my own thing regarding my child. Your book is your baby. You know whats best for it. 

7. Give yourself permission not to do any of the above. Writing should be a joy not a burden.

Linda Hall
Award-winning author Linda Hall has written twenty mystery novels plus numerous short stories. She has written eighteen novels for traditional publishers like WaterBrook Press, Random House and Harlequin. In the last couple of years, however, she has decided to go it alone, and is now Indie publishing her mysteries and stories, and loves the freedom and control this brings.
Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. She grew up in New Jersey and it’s along it’s shorelines that her love of the ocean was born. during the summer they basically move aboard their 34’ sailboat
Linda has achieved the rank of Senior Navigator, the highest rank possible in the national boating safety organization. CPS. Her Senior Navigator diploma hangs proudly on her  office wall. What this means is that she knows how to use a sextant and can ‘theoretically’ find her way home by looking at the stars.
Her new mystery series, Night Watch and The Bitter End feature a female boat captain who happens upon mystery and murders on the high seas.
During the summer she and her husband basically move aboard their 34’ sailboat aptly named Mystery. and sail down from their home province of New Brunswick, Canada
She and her husband Rik have two grown children, seven grandchildren and one very spoiled cat named Captain Hook.
The Bitter End -

Twitter: @writerhall

Monday, February 1, 2016


So, as I was trying to decide what to write for this post, I took a very unscientific and short poll of the people around me.  I asked; What’s one question you’ve always wanted to ask a writer?
The results were…interesting.
You see, unlike a lot of full-time writers who work from home or coffee shops, I’m lucky enough to have a co-working space near my home.  Co-working is a relatively new concept where people who are freelancers, or who spend a lot of time telecommuting, can have access to a shared workspace outside the home without the expense of trying to rent a whole office.  I know, working from home sounds fantastic, but after awhile with no one to talk to but the cat and the fridge, it can get a little lonely.  And the laundry can start to seem more important than meeting the deadline.

On top of that, there are fewer people you can consult when it comes to questions for blog posts.

The question my co-workers agreed on was this:
Do you start at the beginning, the middle, or the end?
That one’s interesting for me, because it’s entirely different when I’m writing mysteries than all the other kinds of writing that I do. 

I’m a multi-genre author.  I have at one time and another written Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Romance and a few things that cross the boundaries between them.  I love them all, but I have to admit, mystery has a special place in my heart.  I’ve always read mysteries and loved mysteries.  I grew up on Sherlock Holmes, of course, and there was this strange story my dad gave me called The Nine Wrong Answers by John Dickson Carr that I must have read a dozen times.  I discovered Agatha Christie browsing the shelves at my grandmother’s house in the country.  I found Dorothy Sayers in college and I was recently introduced to the wonder and delight that is Josephine Tey. 

But when I’m writing mysteries, I do the one thing I don’t do when I’m reading them.  I skip straight to the end.
Okay, maybe not straight to the end, but pretty darned close.  I will sketch out a few beginning scenes to get an idea of who I’m “talking to” and where things are happening.  There will probably be some research at this time, and, if I’m writing about someplace like Portsmouth, say, where I’ve visited (and loved), but don’t live, there’ll be a lot of time with Google Street View.  Of course, there’s always going to be something new about the means, the motive or opportunity that has to be — you will forgive the expression — dug up. 
But as soon as I’ve got some names and faces, I flip through straight to the end, and I write those chapters, solidly and in detail.
Why?  I don’t do this with anything else I write. In fact, I kind of can’t.
But mysteries are different.  For every scene in a mystery, there are actually at least two scenes.  There’s the scene on the page, where all (well, most) of the characters know is going on in front of them.  Then, there are the invisible scenes, which are just as important, if not moreso.  The invisible scenes are the ones that are happening inside the characters, based on the things only they as individuals know. These scenes underpin the entire book, and drive the plot.  The only way I can write them properly is if I know where the plot is going. This means I have to have the ending solidly fixed in my head before I can write the beginning.

I suppose it makes sense, though.  I mean, what is the first, and last question in a mystery?
If I don’t know that, how can I tell you my story?
Thanks for stopping by, and here’s hoping you enjoy the latest.

Delia James writes her magical mysteries from her home near Ann Arbor, Michigan, assisted by her loving husband, Tim, her magnificent son, Alex, and her vocal cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer. 

A Familiar Tail is the first of her Witch’s Cat mysteries.  To hear more about the series and read a sample, you can go to, where you’ll be able to seen the latest news, order the latest book, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

A FAMILIAR TAIL (Witch’s Cat #1)

Unlucky-in-love artist Annabelle Britton decides that a visit to the seaside town of  Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is the perfect way to get over her problems. But when she stumbles upon a smoky gray cat named Alastair, and follows him into a charming cottage, Annabelle finds herself in a whole spellbook full of trouble.

Suddenly saddled with a witch's wand and a furry familiar, Annabelle soon meets a friendly group of women who use their spells, charms, and potions to keep the people of Portsmouth safe. But despite their gifts, the witches can’t prevent every wicked deed in town....
Soon, the mystery surrounding Alistair’s former owner, who died under unusual circumstances, grows when another local turns up dead. Armed with magic, friends, and the charmed cat who adopted her more than the other way around, Annabelle sets out to paw through the evidence and uncover a killer.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Short Break in Guest Posts

Hasn't this been great? An opportunity to meet so many authors and read about their great books? What's that great saying: "So Many Books, So Little Time", it truly fits in this situation.

While all this has been going on, I've been working on my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and gearing up for the launch of my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, A Crushing Death, which will appear in March--not sure exactly when.

I can't believe it's #12 in this series. I'd found a great photo for the cover, but didn't know where I got it, so we had to go for another--but this one fits. There is a condemned pier in the story, and this pretty much gives the impression of having seen better days.

And yes, I've been planning another blog tour--more about that later.

I've also been slowly, but surely getting some in-person events lined up.

The first one will be in March--fingers crossed that I'll actually have books by then--when I'll head over to the coast to speak to the Central Coast Sisters in Crime about, drum roll please, Putting Together and Promoting a Blog Tour. That's scheduled for March 26 at 10 a.m. at the Nipomo Library.

I belong to the Central Coast Chapter but don't live near there so I don't get to meetings often.

A high school teacher emailed and asked if I'd come speak to a couple of her classes about writing--of course I said "yes." I only know it'll be in April.

I'm also going to have a booth at the Jackass Mail Run here in Springville--it's only a half day affair--also an April event.

The only conference I'm planning to attend this year is the Public Safety Writers Association's which is always held in July in Las Vegas.

I'm sure as time passes, I'll have a lot more appearances to add to my calendar.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith