Jan 4, 2021 | Thriller, Uncategorized |
Marilyn Meredith Writes the Rocky Bluff PD Mystery Series as F. M. Meredith
Marilyn is here to tell you about the latest: Not as We Knew It. It’s #16 in the series, but all the mysteries are solved by the end of the tale. Like all the stories in this series, it is how what’s going on in the small beach community of Rocky Bluff affects the officers and their families.
The challenges come one after another for the Rocky Bluff P.D. to handle―from a missing woman to a fatal house fire. Detective Doug Milligan is faced with new and unusual problems to solve, some on the job and others related to his family. With the department shorthanded because of the Covid virus, Chief Chandra Taylor must make some hard decisions in order to protect the town of Rocky Bluff.
I’ve written in one form or another since I was a child. Because I had five children and now share my home with three great-grandchildren, I’m used to distractions and have no problem return to whatever I’m working on.
George asked if an association membership has helped me or my writing. I can honestly say being a part of the Public Safety Writers Association has certainly given me a big boost in writing about folks in law enforcement, answers to many questions, and sometimes even a plot idea.
Many of my characters are based on real people or combinations of folks. No one has ever accused me of writing about him or her. One exception is a friend who wanted to be a character in my other series. I didn’t use her real name, but I did describe her and her personality, and she loved it. I’ve also held contests where the person who one had his or her name used in a book. That’s fun, too, and the character never is anything like the real person.
Though I usually know the main theme of the story I’m going to write, I don’t outline. I do keep notes as I go along, especially about new characters, so I don’t forget some important detail.
I’ve written and published over 40 books, mostly mysteries but some in other genres. My other series is the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, the latest being End of the Trail.
Rocky Bluff is a fictional small beach community along the Pacific coast, set between Ventura and Santa Barbara. It has some resemblance to another town but has its own characteristics. To me, it feels like a real place. When I’m writing about it, I can see it in my mind’s eye, and I can smell the ocean and feel the dampness of the fog. I feel the same way about the characters, and I’m compelled to write the next book, so I can find out what happens to them.
To buy: https://www.amazon.com/Not-As-Knew-F-M-Meredith/dp/B08NDT3FW5/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Nov 23, 2020 | Uncategorized |
Scott Decker’s first book is a true crime memoir,
Recounting the Anthrax Attacks—Terror, the Amerithrax Task Force, and the Evolution of Forensics in the FBI (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). I attempted to write it as creative non-fiction (see, creativenonfiction.org).
“The book is fascinating and absolutely authentic—a behind-the-scenes account, never before told in such detail, of the FBI’s forensic detective work into the chilling anthrax bioterror attacks after 9/11. Decker, who ran the “dark biology” part of the FBI’s investigation, recounts how agents and scientists used cutting-edge tools of biology to narrow down the search for the perpetrator and finally focus on one suspect. I don’t think the world realizes just what the FBI accomplished or how they did it, or the pitfalls and difficulties of the investigation, but Decker tells us the story from the inside.” —Richard Preston, NY Times Bestselling Author, The Hot Zone and The Demon in the Freezer.
Do you write in more than one genre? No, just one genre, memoir, as narrative non-fiction. I am a stickler for historical and technical accuracy.
Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I converted the spare bedroom at the end of our house to an office. I have a 27″ iMac that allows me to have two or three documents or Internet sites on the screen at once. I have a printer hard-wired to the Mac and a hardline phone next to it on an antique desk with an antique NYC Public Library table forming an “L” shape.
Distractions are numerous. Probably my two rescues, a beagle mix and a miniature pinscher, are the biggest. They really are high maintenance. They keep me company, sleeping on a day bed next to my desk, but if I ignore the pinscher when I am lost in the writing, he pees in my office. Then I have to stop typing and clean it up.
What are you currently working on? These days I free-lance for Security Management magazine and Knife Magazine. I am also researching for a second memoir. The working title is Papermaker—A Memoir of the Ups and Downs in an American Industry. Papermaker will discuss the dangers of working in a paper mill, one that an entire community depends on for their livelihood—the maimings and fatalities notwithstanding.
Has an association membership helped you or your writing? I have to give a shout-out to the Public Safety Writers Association. I joined when my book was in the very early stages. Over a couple of years, my writing improved with the help I found attending their annual conference. They also held a writing workshop the day before the conference, and it included the opportunity to submit writing samples for critique. I submitted my first book, two chapters, which had undergone numerous revisions. The instructor had only one minor suggestion for my dialog. I entered my unpublished manuscript in their annual writing competition. It won first place in the non-fiction book category. At that point, I felt I was ready to query publishers in earnest.
Who’s currently your favorite author? I’ll list two. The first is Linda Greenlaw; she has authored three or four memoirs about fishing the Atlantic. Linda is portrayed in the Warner Bros movie, The Perfect Storm as the woman swordfish captain opposite George Clooney’s character. The second is Colson Whitehead. He has authored both fiction and non-fiction books and is an excellent writer.
How long did it take you to write your first book? I began in 2012, and Recounting was published in March 2018. During that time, I got married, my wife and I moved three times, took two family estates through probate, and put the family farm in preservation. I stayed busy.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I am an outliner. I begin with a timeline of events. I then go down the timeline and make chapter breaks at places I think will lend themselves to a cliffhanger. Following that, I write one-half to two-thirds of a page summarizing each chapter. The chapter outlines will comprise a large part of my non-fiction book proposal. A book proposal is mandatory for publishing non-fiction—all publishers require it.
A proposal is a fair amount of work in itself, but I find it makes writing the book easier. I take each chapter outline and fill in between the sentences to build a chapter.
What kind of research do you do? These days most is over the Internet. Sites like fold3.com and the National Archives (archives.gov) contain loads of information. Even the FBI has a ton of case histories available on their site, vault.fbi.gov. I read books on the same subject I want to write about; these books become part of my book proposal’s “Comparable Books” section. I request books through the Inter-Library Loan process at my local public library or buy them outright.
What is the best book you ever read? I’ll list two again, first is John Conroy’s Belfast Diary—War as a Way of Life (Beacon Press, 1989). The second is Craig K. Collins’ Thunder in the Mountains: A Portrait of American Gun Culture (Lyons Press, 2014). Both are narrative non-fiction memoirs.
The second, Thunder in the Mountains, had a great effect on my writing and encouraged me to embrace writing about myself in the first-person—memoir. Collins’ book showed me how to speak to my audience in a personal way, which I think appeals to most readers.
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? I’ll continue to free-lance for Security Management magazine and Knife Magazine and research for a second memoir. I have partnered with an established producer who optioned my book. We are pitching networks on both a documentary series and a scripted narrative series.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Don’t give up on publishers versus self-publishing. Going with an established publisher, even a small house, has advantages. The first version of my book, or rather my non-fiction proposal, was rejected over and over by small presses. I finally sat down and rewrote it using much more first person and ending each chapter with a cliffhanger. I submitted the revised proposal to a dozen small presses and received three contract offers. I went with Rowman on the advice of a fellow author. Working with both my editor and production manager at Rowman was great.
How do our readers contact you? Your website, blog links, any links you want to be posted? Readers can contact me through my Internet site: www.rscottdecker.com. The site’s “Contact” page is forwarded to my email address, which I check several times a day. The site is low cost, and I edit it myself. The Authors Guild (authorsguild.org) hosts it.
Scott Decker with Robert Mueller
Nov 17, 2020 | Uncategorized |
Into Madness (Born from Stone Saga – Book 1 of 3)
After a decade in hiding, captured, and imprisoned, Ravin Carolingian believes she has nothing more to lose. Instead of the execution she expected, Ravin faces a forced marriage to Brakken, the son of the man who killed her father and toppled her kingdom. Blinded by hatred, Ravin vows that marriage will never take place. Instead, she will exact revenge, no matter the cost.
Following a series of magical attacks, and as she fights the unnatural attraction she feels for Brakken, Ravin is left to question everything she thought she knew about herself. Still, as the line between ally and enemy blurs, one thing becomes clear, if she is to help the Carolingian people, Ravin must escape the evil that walks the halls of the palace she once called home.
The second book in the trilogy, Heart’s Divided, is due to be published in May of 2021, and the third, The Reckoning, later that fall.
Do you write in more than one genre? Memoir, short stories, and fantasy.
What brought you to writing? As a child, there wasn’t much I loved more than reading. Actually, there was nothing I loved more than horses. In my youth, I didn’t have a horse; I fed my passion by submersing myself in books: My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty, and any novel where the protagonist was a girl with a horse.
As an adult and a trainer of racehorses, I started writing freelance for industry publications, like Backstretch Magazine, Bloodhorse, and The Racing Form. From there, I branched out and started writing special feature articles for local newspapers, like The Contra Costa Times, Tri-Valley Herald, and Valley Times.
When I joined the Tri-Valley Branch of the California Writers Club, I was encouraged to write a memoir. My book is about the horse I owned and trained to run in all three legs of the American Triple Crown of Racing—the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
With international recognition for Casual Lies – A Triple Crown Adventure, I tried my hand at telling stories. Short stories kept my interest until a close friend encouraged me to try the NANOWRIMO challenge. Four years later, I published my debut novel, Into Madness.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? I would have to say hybrid. Literary agents, through their query submission standards, make it difficult to hire them, emphasis on hiring them. To send a query, you must follow their detailed outline—and whatever you do, don’t deviate from their outline—and, by the way, don’t expect to get a response unless they pick you. Still, I prefer a readers’ opinion over an agent who’s looking for a reason to reject rather than enjoy.
Where do you write? And what about distractions? I sit at my kitchen table here in Central Oregon and gaze out at a bucolic scene for inspiration. Here are my distractions:
- I get to watch as the deer clear cut my garden.
- Squirrels chew off the sprinkler heads, trim the siding, and shorten the roof’s metal exhaust pipes.
- Don’t even get me started on the Robins.
- Pine needle hurricanes.
- Still, the quail and their walnut-sized babies are as cute as all get out.
Do you ever develop plots or characters around real-life experiences? Memoir aside, in my first book of short stories, For Want of a Horse, I drew on my twenty-four-year experience with training racehorses. Some of the stories were real-life incidences, though a few I embellished.
The current novel that I’m writing and have tentatively named ‘Out of the Blue’ is a middle-grade novel about training and racing dragons. So, of course, after more than one-third of my life spent at the racetrack, I change everything that has to do with hoofed animals to winged animals.
Since dragons don’t eat hay and grain, I doubt children will like the idea of leading lambs down the shedrow at feeding time. Feeding the dragons was a problem to overcome. An essential part of the story, it had to be ironed out right from the start.
How do you come up with names for your characters? That’s the easy part of the creative process, at least for me. I develop a character in my head, and then the name comes easy. I Google popular names for specific eras in history—for instance, Irish names in the 8th century. I don’t use character names that aren’t easily pronounceable. To me, those types of names tend to slow down the reader.
Do you use real settings or make them up? Unless it’s a massive city like New York, London, Beijing, I like to make up a name located in a recognizable area. Heaven forbid that a real town resident reads my book and calls me out on a lake that doesn’t exist.
In my historical fantasy, Into Madness, I loosely based the world I built in a Baltic region. The landmasses and names are all created. However, there was a Carolingian in history. I liked it, so I used it. (My sister, who I lost to cancer, was named Carol. Might have something to do with the name choice and why I liked it.)
Have you ever developed a quintessentially eccentric character? At first read, this question seemed simple, but I found myself stumped. Once I begin to interact with them within the story, my characters become very real to me, and I don’t think of them as quirky or eccentric.
What is one of your favorite books? Why? Lonesome Dove — If I had not seen the mini-series first, I would’ve put this book down in the first chapter―pigs, dust, and rattlesnakes. For me, it started so slow; it was an effort to turn the pages. When I finished the book, I grieved. I grieved because there was not another page to turn, I grieved for the loss of the friends left behind within its pages, and I grieve even now―because I wasn’t the one who wrote it.
What’s your biggest pet peeve? As an author? Literary agents. ?
Looking to the future, what do you see? Finding within myself the focus necessary to finish the three novels I have in the works. And in particular, I am excited about the dragon racing novel. The characters are so endearing, and the plot elements are so current. My characters face prejudice, racism, bullying, climate change, species extinction, fair play, and hope within the story’s overall umbrella.
Any other thoughts you care to share? I have heard many reasons why writers write—the list is long. A good story is a gift. A gift that you get to share over and over again. And each time you share it, you enjoy it once again along with the recipient.
We don’t need to ask a comedian what’s the best part of his performance. It will always be the audience’s laughter, right? As an author, I find no greater pleasure than the thought that my words, my story, brings a few minutes or a few hours of entertainment into someone’s life.
What do you find to be the best part for a writer? A review. A five-star review was recently posted on ‘Into Madness,’ in the comment section was a “ :)” and nothing more. While I like to hear my readers’ opinions, what they liked, what they wanted, still that smiley face was just as encouraging as any other review. It told me so much about how my story had affected my reader. And, just as important, that smiley face encouraged me to get to back work.
For those of you who hesitate to take the time to post a review, remember even something as simple as a smile is manna from heaven for the writer who has spent hundreds of hours alone bringing words to life.
How can our readers contact you?
Sep 17, 2020 | Uncategorized |
Teacher, Author, and Story Coach
Julaina, please tell us about yourself and your writing.
For the last twelve years, I’ve taught creative writing classes. My attendees have published several books during that time, and I’m always delighted to hold their finished products in my hands. Many of their short stories, memoir-essays, and poetry are in three anthologies that I published on Amazon.
Genre/genres you write in: My stories are in the creative non-fiction, science fiction, and women’s fiction genres. Two of my novels are in the editing stage: Hada’s Fog and Norman in the Painting. The book I’m planning to publish by the end of this year, 2020, is My Mother’s Cancer ~ What Worked and What Didn’t.
I understand you were interviewed by Dona Kozik earlier this week. Please tells us about that. The interview is about me and the first chapter of my book, My Mother’s Cancer ~ What Worked and What Didn’t which will be published in January 2021. This chapter is published in an eBook called Rising Stars, A Kindle Sampler by Donna Kozik. There are 4 other featured authors’ chapters in the book. https://amzn.to/33HjqRk. It was fun being interviewed by Dona. The interview is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/7LRK59ISU7s.
Most people know someone who has cancer. In 2020, the estimated number of new cancer cases is 1.8 million. I am writing my mom’s experience with this rampant disease to tell about the effects of crucial delays in diagnosis and treatment decisions. I also share how we dealt with it physically and emotionally. Our story could help other people who have a loved one and feel alone in the struggles to keep that person alive.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels? In 6th grade, I wrote a story that my teacher took away from me because I was writing during his lessons. He wanted to check out what I was writing. He returned it without any comment.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication? It took about four years before any of my stories were accepted for publication. Then I won awards for stories in a few contests.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? My stories and essays are traditionally, and hybrid published depending on where I submitted them.
I indie published three anthologies that are on Amazon. The first one is Written Across the Genres for readers to experience a variety of genre examples. The second anthology is Captivate Audiences to Create Loyal Fans. I accepted some stories the members of my writing class wrote to illustrate techniques that improve writing skills.
The third one, published in 2019, is called The Choice Matters about how some choices we make change our lives.
Where do you write? I like to write in my home office. Many of my writer friends write at a café, but I find it too distracting.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? Silence is golden for me to concentrate on my writing.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? Probably 50% of my characters are based on people I know, but I change how they look, their backstory, etc. so they aren’t identified. I’m a pantser, so my plots write themselves.
Describe your process for naming your characters? My process for naming my characters is that I listen, and the name comes into my mind quickly.
Real settings or fictional towns? Usually, my settings are real places I’ve been to, but I fictionalize the names. The sci-fi novel I’m writing takes place in the small town where I live, but it goes way beyond as the story progresses.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read? The best book I’ve read is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’ve read all of her books, and I was delighted when she came to a local book shop to promote her newest book, and I had my picture taken with her.
What’s on the horizon for you? I will be publishing my latest non-fiction book, My Mother’s Cancer ~ What Worked and What Didn’t by the end of the year. I was chosen as one of five authors who had a chapter published in an anthology, Rising Stars, by Donna Kozik, available on Amazon now. My first chapter about my mother’s cancer, was accepted.
Also, I’m launching my online writing course: “Tell Your Irresistible Story” in a couple of months.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and your books? I enjoy teaching writing classes and supporting the members in their writing goals.
Contact Information: You can find me at https://www.timetowritenow.com
Sep 7, 2020 | Uncategorized |
Lani Longshore introduces us to science fiction, quilting and writing about life (blog)
The Chenille Ultimatum (with Ann Anastasio). Susan thought she was done with space aliens when she sent her mother, Edna, and daughter Cecily as ambassadors to the planet Schtatik. Instead, she must travel across the galaxy to stop a civil war that Edna started when she made herself queen of one of the clans. As Susan struggles to make everyone calm down, she learns how strong she really is, and how important it is to carry an embroidery project wherever she goes.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels? I’ve thought of myself as a writer since elementary school. In high school and college, I produced short stories, poems, essays, and news articles. I was fortunate enough to find a good writing support group as an adult and wrote my first (still unpublished) novel.
How long was your road to publication? The first book in the Chenille series, Death By Chenille, was published twenty years after I began writing novels. I’m working on the fourth novel in that series with co-author Ann Anastasio.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author? I am indie published.
Where do you write? I write at my computer desk in the family room. I transitioned from writing by hand to a typewriter when I interned at a local weekly newspaper while in high school. In college, my portable typewriter took up most of my desk.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? Since I write in the family room, I write to all sorts of sound. Sometimes there is music, sometimes the television is on, sometimes there is only the drone of the dishwasher from the kitchen. As other people are often in the room, the choice of music isn’t entirely up to me, so I’ve learned to embrace all genres.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? While aspects of the plots and characters’ are drawn from life, I avoid pulling too much from my own experience. My co-author and I used to perform on the quilt lecture circuit, producing 1-act musicals about quilts and the women who make them. The real story behind a quilt isn’t always entertaining. We took the part that fit our needs and made up the rest, a process we’ve continued in our cozy sci-fi novels about quilters who repeatedly save the world from alien invasions.
Describe your process for naming your characters? I go through a baby book first. If that fails, I start searching the bookshelves for author names I can adapt. If that fails, I go to actors’ names I can manipulate. There was an old movie on TV when I needed a name for a secondary character in the first Chenille novel, Death By Chenille, so Randolph Scott became Scott Randolph.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has? One of my aliens puffs out colored smoke from his body whenever he gets emotional. The colors match the emotion.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why? There are many books I wish I had written, but I am reading A Gentleman in Moscow now by Amor Towles and would love to have written it. His character studies are brilliant, and his plot devices are amazing.
What’s your biggest pet peeve? Complicated punctuation in dialog. People speak in pauses and full stops. Who do you know who speaks in semi-colons? No one, that’s who! It’s rare enough to find someone who speaks in full sentences, so I prefer authors to stick to dashes, commas, and periods (with the occasional exclamation point and question mark where required).
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves? I don’t suppose I could pull an ocean-going boat, fuel for me and the boat, and a really strong radio from a parallel universe, could I? Okay, then I’ll want a food replicator because I’m a vegetarian, so all the fish in the sea won’t do me any good, and what’s the use of life without chocolate? I’ll also want embroidery supplies to make fiber art to decorate my hut (I get a hut, right?), and a crate of notebooks and pens.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read? I’ve never been able to answer that question because there are so many wonderful books available and more on the way. I also can’t settle on a favorite color or even a favorite candy bar.
What’s on the horizon for you? If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll finish the fourth book in the Chenille series, The Captain and Chenille, by spring.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books? When I finally outgrew imagining I knew everything, I realized if I wanted to know anything at all, I should say yes whenever someone offered to teach me. It’s why I know how to quilt when I don’t have a domestic bone in my body (okay, I love to cook, but that’s a survival skill), and why I’m a black belt in karate when I come from a long line of pacifists. Three bits of trivia: I’ve seen Lenin’s Tomb; two of my quilting students were recipients of presidential pardons for federal crimes; both sides of my family have scandals regarding running away from the clan and taking the reasons why to the grave. As to my books, The Chenille series came out of a failed plan to create a platform for a quilting technique book. Ann and I had a great idea, and our proposal received favorable comments, but we weren’t famous enough in quilt circles for a publisher to take a chance on us. We decided we would write a novel to get some publicity. Quilting mysteries were just starting to take off, but neither Ann nor I had enough confidence we could write a good mystery. Since we had already created quilting vaudeville with our 1-act musical comedies, we decided to create quilting science fiction. We still aren’t well known enough to get our technique book published, but we’re working on our fourth novel. The remarkable thing about our collaboration is that Ann and her family moved several states away before we had finished our second book, and yet we still managed to get that one and the third book completed.
Fun to hear about your process and how you see your setting of Rocky Bluff. Yours are fun books and I’m adding this to my TBR list.
Thanks, Thonie. If you do read it I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Marilyn, I like your books, but I admire your generous spirit more. That’s what makes your books so enjoyable. Keep up the good work.
Thank you, J. L., what a nice thing to say!
Marilyn, I like your books, but I admire your generous spirit more. That’s what makes your books so enjoyable.
I so much enjoy reading Marilyn’s books. She’s a great talent who writes in pictures making it very easy for readers to jump right beside the characters to witness the action first hand. And for her to be able to write around any distractions only makes me admire her more.
Lida, thank you. I do try to put into words what my characters see and experience as though I am seeing their surroundings and experiencing what they are. Hope to see you sometime during this coming year.
Madeline, you’re always so gracious. Sure hope one of these days we will be able to get-together again.
Marilyn, you already know I love your series–nonetheless, it’s great hearing from you via George!
Thank you, George for hosting me today. And thank you, Michael for your kind words.
Thank you, George, for hosting me today. I am a little late getting here, but will be letting people know where I am.
I’m to blame for Marilyn’s being a bit late. For some reason, my blog schedule clock changed time zones. I had to go to my designer, who figured it out. Hopefully, it won’t happen again.
Virgil Alexander has been trying to leave a comment. When a person, usually a first-timer, posts and is not recognized, I have to approve. I try to check several times a day.
When posting a comment, scroll down and click the box to save your name, etc.
Sorry for any inconvenience.
You’ve published TEN TIMES more books than I. I would be interested in how you have had the most success in marketing your books. Do you feel that sales are boosted by being a series?
I have felt that if people read one of your books, they will likely want to read the others; how true is that assumption?
Virgil, I do think having a series boosts sales, especially when you promote one in the series as free, or only .99 cents, then people tend to buy others in the series. That’s not why I keep writing new books in each series though. I do because I want to know what’s happening with the characters next.
Having read Marilyn’s great books I can say she’s an excellent writer who knows just how much detail and description to put into a scene to make the reader feel he or she is right there. She’s an amazing writer who captures the essence of her characters so effectively that they seem like old friends you want to revisit with each new book.
Michael, I truly am humbled by your kind words.
I read several of Marilyn’s wonderful books. She is a great author, and a very nice person. Her characters are believable, the scenes vivid, and her stories will delight the reader. You can’t go wrong with her books!
Thank you, John, nice words to warm a writer’s heart.