Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Brief View of All the Jobs I've Had

My most important job for many years and one that's continued on is being a wife, mother, grandmother and now greatgrandmother.

I began in the working world--meaning that I got paid for what I did as a babysitter at the age of 10. Yes,, 10. I took care of a girl with developmental disabilites who was the same age. Quite an experience--and I earned a whopping 50 cents. I never went back.

The next baby sitting job I was nearly 12 and took care of 5 little ones one evening. We did okay though I don't remember changing any diapers--and also don't remember what I was paid. I continued babysitting all through my teens, earned the money to buy clothes my mom throught were too expensive. (And I'm sure she was right.)

I did housework also for one of the women I babysat for--didn't like that at all.

When I was a senior in highschool, I did inventory one night at a big deparment store in downtown L.A. I also worked for a time in a hot-rod store.

After I was married and had a child, I worked for the telephone company in downtown L.A. as a file clerk. A while later I became an Information Operator for the phone company in Glendale.

When hubby and I and all the kids lived in Oxnard, I worked for General Tel and Tel as an information and long idstance officer off and one. (Left everytime I was going to have another baby.)

During this time period I also served as the newsletter editor for the local PTA for 4 years as well as other jobs, and was PTA president at the grammar school for two years and the junior high for two years.

I had a Camp Fire group (Blue Birds to Horizon Club) for 10 years. I aslo had a Camp Fire group at the Camarillo State Hospital for girls with developmental disabilities, and later one at the Ventrua School.

While still in Oxnard, I worked ten years as a teacher in a pre-school for childen with developmental disabilities--a job I adored.

After a falling out with my boss, I went on to work first in a pre-school on the Seabee base for one semester, but I didn't care for it much. Then I substituted as a teacher in various pre-schools and Head Start. From there I went to work full-time as a teacher in a day care in La Colonia. Loved that one too. Moved on with the same company as a teacher in their day care in Ventura--also a great job. 

Then I was offered a job as a teacher in a pre-school (more money) back in La Colonia. Loved tht one too and got to use my Spanish--though not for long, soon had all my students speaking English.

We moved to Springville where we bought and took over a residential care facility for women with developmental disabilities. (Much more complicated than it sounds here.) Hubby and I loved this work. We shared our home and lives with these women.

Along the way I became the president of the regional provider association, organized and became an instructor for mandantory training for all administrators, and did that for many years. Illness of family members brought the need for us to retire, but I continued to teach for a long time, still do the association's newsletter and serve as a consultant.

Way back when I was in Oxanrd I was writing, writing, writing. I continued to write--and finally got published soon after we moved to Springville and I've been writing ever since.

Probably more than you ever wanted to know, but many of my experiences have influenced my writing and certainly helped me with many phases of my life.

Marilyn Meredith

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Using a Real Place for a Setting

Anyone who is familiar with my two mysery series knows that I don't use actual places for the settings, though in both cases they are similar to places that I know.

In my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Rocky Bluff is a Southern California beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara--and no, it is not Carpenteria. Rocky Bluff has it's own geography, street names and history. In many ways it's similar to two other beach towns, Ventura and Oxnard.

The action in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series usually happens in a fictional town called Bear Creek and the surrounding area. Sometimes the story centers on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation.
Bear Creek is similar to the town where I live except I've moved it into the mountains another 1000 feet in order to have "better" trees and more weather.

The indian reservation has many similarities to the Tule River Indian Reservation--but it's not exactly like it. I've given Porterville the name Dennison, but kept pretty much to what the nearby city looks like. I've also had Tempe visit Crescent City in Northern California and Santa Barbara and was true to both areas.

Now I'm writing the next Tempe adventure--and it's all taking place in Morro Bay, Los Osos and San Luis Obispo. I am familiar with all three places having stayed and visited those areas many times. However, there are many things I don't know and have had to research. Some I have been able to learn about from the Internet--but others I've had to ask friends for information.

 I'm fortunate that I'm a member of the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime. I've been emailing members and asking them questions.

I'll probably have one of them take a look at it when I'm through to make sure I haven't made any big errors.

Oh, I still have fictional places--especially house where people live. 

The plot itself has been fun--but I do want to get where things happen right.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What to Do When You're A Guest on Someone's Blog

If you have the date, be sure and put everything together as soon as possible and send it on. Sometimes I have people scheduled at their or their publicists request, and nothing arrives.

What to send:

In one attachement, a word file with the post--either a topic the host asked for or one you wanted to write about, a blurb about your latest book, a buy link, your bio and your links like webpage, blog, facebook etc.

Other attachements should have a .jpeg of your books cover or covers, and one of you, the author.

On the day the post appears, be sure and promote it.

I always promote my guest's blog on Facebook and Twitter, but since it's your post you should be promoting there and on all your groups on Facebook and listserves you belong to.

Check back on the blog from time to time and if anyone has left a comment, acknowledge it.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

A RATION OF REALITY TV by Gerrie Ferris Finger

Wikipedia defines reality TV as “Television programming that documents unscripted situations and actual occurrences, and often features a previously publicly unknown cast. The genre highlights personal drama and conflict to a much greater extent than other unscripted television such as documentary shows…”

Just a minute. With that definition, I part ways with Wikipedia, a people’s encyclopedia I rely on for information in writing my novels.
Reality television is about as real as Bugs Bunny. I’ve never watched a full episode of Survivor, but I’ve seen enough outtakes to detect manipulation, scripting, coaching, editing and lines said straight from a story board. I know I used to write them.
A fired cast member of Storage Wars alleges in his lawsuit that producers staged entire storage lockers that were the subject of the auctions with valuable or unusual items to create drama and suspense for the show, sometimes faking scenes of bidding.

No doubt from this scribbler of fiction. Who wants to watch other people’s real trash? I have enough of my own. And Hoarders. Are people that hungry to see others wading through garbage for an entire show?

There’s sex aplenty in reality TV. It appears for some “stars” to start with their debut of “leaked” videos where they’re having explicit sex with their boyfriends. (Who else?) These untalented, fame-hungry people are turned into infamous personalities when they are awarded their own reality TV shows. I know, they really care what I think. Certainly, Paris Hilton and her best friends forever do not, nor would Kourtney and Kim when they take Miami. (These shows I have never seen. I am a dedicated researcher.)
If the producers of Duck Dynasty wanted to humiliate (as was alleged a few yeas ago) a class of people, it backfired. I don’t know right now, but it was one of the most popular shows on television. I’ll say this for the show, it was boring enough to be reality.
But I’m not a total naysayer of the genre.
My first remembered TV experience (after the real western, Gunsmoke) was when my parents could not wait to see Candid Camera. I researched when it came on air—in 1948. (I’m not that old, but was this the dawn of reality TV? Some say it was the earlier live comedy shows with Sid Caesar’s and Milton Berle, where anything could and did go wrong.)
Candid Camera (and its copycats) had a renaissance in the seventies and was re-reincarnated again in 2014.The original Candid Camera got old with the its staged practical jokes, but people’s reactions were real—as far as my childhood memories recall. Maybe I’ll tune in to the new edition. But what’s that they say? You can’t go home again—or something old is old again?
Speaking of old reality TV, The People’s Court became reality for me when my cousin was sued and tried on air by a roommate over a couple pieces of furniture. He had to pay.
Are there current shows purporting to be reality TV that I like. Yes. My husband is a devoted fan of Deadliest Catch. I’ve watched a few episode—seen one, you’ve seen them all. I like The Next Food Network Star, not because I don’t believe it’s staged, but because I like food shows. (My husband, OTOH, does not. Unless it’s grilled or breakfast food, which he does quite well, he’s not interested, and he thinks his food from the grill and griddle couldn’t be beat.)
Along the byways to my becoming a sophisticated TV watcher (by my own account), my reality television consisted of documentaries, television news and game shows. Today, game shows not so much. About documentaries—favorites of mine—Wiki, says they are in the gray area of reality TV. Ask the producers of true documentaries (not docudramas) what they think!
 My husband has added sports to my watching reality pleasure. I play golf and I watch golf. If spitting into the grass and muttering the F word isn’t reality, I don’ know what is. (Tiger Woods has paid handsomely for his profanity—in cash. He doesn’t care. He’s a big reality star.) If a fight on the baseball diamond isn’t real, it’s really good to watch.
Lately, I’ve gravitated to talk shows. Bill O’Reilly can get riled up and Morning Joe can get into Mika’s face. Makes me wonder about the survivor there, and which one will get voted out with show’s next edition?

Bio and links Gerrie Ferris Finger:
Retired journalist for The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, in 2009, Gerrie Ferris Finger won The Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Minotaur Best First Traditional Novel Competition for THE END GAME, released by St. Martin's Minotaur in 2010. She grew up in Missouri, then headed further south to join the staff of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There, she researched and edited the columns of humorist Lewis Grizzard and co-wrote a news column with another reporter for three years. The series that started there is still going strong today. Running with Wild Blood is scheduled for release in January 2015.

My Review:

Gerrie Ferris Finger never disappoints and Running with Wild Blood is no exception.

Richard Lake, of the Atlanta Police Department, gets a cold case when a witness suddenly gets his memory back. Lake recruits MoriahDru to look into the murder of Juliet Trapp, 16 when she died, and a student at Winters Farm Academy.

Juliet Trapp had told her mother she was going to Bike Week with Wild Blood, an outlaw motorcycle gang, over the Christmas break. The police were unable to solve Juliet’s murder after interviews with the bikers. The case roars into high gear when Juliet’s father, Sherman Trapp, is murdered in Chattanooga where Wild Blood is the predominant motorcycle club. Dru discovers that Trapp was trying to find the killer of his daughter, but got too close.


That's the official blurb, but this mystery is so much more.

Dru, is a licensed private detective and the owner of Child Chase, specializing in finding missing children. 

She and Richard Lake are romantically involved which adds a bit of spice, especially when FBi Agent Grady Locke becomes in involved in the investigation and takes a liking to Dru. 

Besides descriptions of mouth-watering meals eaten by Dru and Lake, the couple’s involvement and riding with motorcycle gangs during the investigation, will all keep you turning the pages to see what happens next. 

And yes, there are some great gun battles. Dru is no wimp when it comes to hand-to-hand combat or handling a gun.

I loved everything about this book. The dialogue and action ring true, and it’s obvious the author knew of what she was writing about.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Writing Advice from Two Pros

I recently attended the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime meeting where Simon Wood and Catariona McPherson were the guest speakers. Both were charming and were there to promote their latest books. However, during their talk, they dispersed some nuggests of writing advice.

Both of these authors treat writing as their full-jobs--an occupation.

Catriona has a goal of so many words a day--though admitted sometimes she doesn't quite get there.

Simon works 9 to 5 or 6 on his writing.

Both authors do a lot of research. Catriona admitted to writing about a place that was no longer existed, but she learned a lot about what it was like and used it all in her latest book.

Simon likes to go to the places at the time of day or night that he's writing about. He also likes to intereveiw people, people with the ssame kind of problems his characters have or professionals who understand the problems.

One thing he cautioned about was that every police department is different, so if you're writing about a real police department, you better find out what they do and don't do, have or not have.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

ROLES by Charlene Wexler

My life has had me play some diverse roles that have brought me to my latest career as a writer.
  Daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, wife, mom, caregiver, grandmother, teacher, and dental office bookkeeper are some of the roles I’ve played in my life. Those roles affect my writing.

Some people think my writing is all over the map—funny, serious, murder mysteries, and a family saga. My writing varies a lot because it is affected by all of those diverse roles and experiences.

My first murder mystery, Murder on Skid Row, is predominantly set in a dental office. In Milk and Oranges, my book of serious and funny essays and short stories, you’ll see just about all the roles I’ve played in my life.

Lori, my family saga, reflects all those roles too. Murder Across the Ocean is my latest murder mystery. It deals with how a modern seventy-something woman like me and my friends might handle solving a murder. Not by sipping tea like Miss Marple, good as those mysteries are.

People find that they relate to my writing. Take my book Milk and Oranges. The section “How’s Your Love Life?” features fiction that causes women to nod their heads in agreement. “Family and Friends” describes some of the fun and quirky characters in my life and makes you think of similar loved ones in your own world. The “Animal Magnetism” section shares some stories about animals that pet-lovers enjoy. “The Cruel Club” section is about death, a subject we all deal with at one time or another. And “The Passing Parade” section offers a few observations to which readers who’ve been around the block for a few decades can relate.

Lori, my family saga, affects people the same way. It deals with family and friends, divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, homosexuality, the judicial system, the Holocaust, financial booms and busts, and cancer.

But it’s not a downer. It’s the story of a woman gaining strength she never knew she could achieve and of victory over diversity. You could describe Murder Across the Ocean the same way

My writing features tragedies and triumphs to which every reader is able to relate. Whatever I write seems to trigger interesting memories in my readers, and I hope my writing helps give them the confidence to deal with whatever is going on in their own lives

A critic once said that Murder On Skid Row doesn’t follow the typical murder mystery format. 

That’s actually one of the best things anybody ever said about my writing. I hope my novels, essays, and short stories don’t follow a typical format. If you’re just going to do what everybody else does, why bother?

So, my latest role is to be different. For most of my life I was more of a conformist. This is more fun!

A clash of cultures. A domineering mother-in-law. An alcoholic husband. A fatally ill child. The possibility of economic ruin. 

            The sheltered, comfortable, liberal upbringing undergone by Lori in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago in the United States did not prepare her for marriage into the difficult and quirky working-class family of her husband, Jerry—or for the sweeping societal and social changes of the last quarter of the 20th century.

            Lori deals with relationships between family and friends, divorce, alcoholism, infidelity, homosexuality, the judicial system, the Holocaust, and financial booms and busts. Most importantly, it deals with cancer from the points of view of both the victim and the survivors.

            Lori’s seemingly perfect suburban world is in constant peril. Fortunately, her lifelong best friend, Adele, is there every step of the way to provide support and advice—until Adele faces her own tragedy. When separated from Adele by thousands of miles, Lori also finds she can count on her new friend, Rain—an ex-flower-child with a surprising connection to Lori’s past that holds the key to Lori’s future.

            Lori is the story of a woman gaining strength she never knew she could achieve, and of victory over adversity—a story with tragedies and triumphs to which every reader will be able to relate.

Seventy-something American Lori Brill thought she’d have a pleasant, uneventful vacation in London visiting her granddaughter, Cate.

Lori’s trip started out even better than she could have imagined when she ran into Josh, her old high-school boyfriend, in line for the same flight at the airport—resulting in an unexpected night of passion in a London hotel room. Lori was all smiles as she stepped out of the shower the next morning, ready to slip back into Josh’s arms—until she saw his bloody corpse lying in the bed where they had made love only a few short hours before.

The London police naturally suspect Lori of murdering her lover, but the case becomes more complicated when it is discovered that international ladies’ man and real estate mogul Josh has swindled millions of dollars from hundreds of people—a fact that broadens the case beyond the Scotland Yard team led by Inspector Geoffrey Holmes and brings in American FBI agent Jordan Gould.

Also on the case are Lori’s granddaughter Cate and Cate’s fiancĂ© Joseph, two London solicitors. Complicating matters are Cate’s and Jordan Gould’s growing mutual attraction as the investigation progresses; another growing mutual attraction between Lori and Inspector Holmes; and Lori’s family’s unexpected connection to Joseph’s father, Lord Roger Lunt, and to the wealthy German nobleman Baron Joseph Braun and the horror of the Holocaust.

So who killed Josh? Was it Josh’s beautiful girlfriend Suzi, who unexpectedly appears in London? Was it Josh’s Chinese financial backers? Was it British mobsters, led by the evil Roland McKeifer, who kidnap Lori in an attempt to find Josh’s hidden millions? Was it Baron Braun, who summons Lori to Germany to tell her a 70-year-old secret? Was it someone whose money had been stolen or heart had been broken by Josh? Or was it someone else? Find out in Murder Across the Ocean.

Biography of Charlene Wexler

Charlene Wexler is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She has worked as a teacher and dental office bookkeeper and as “a wife, mom, and grandmother,” she said. In recent years, Wexler’s lifelong passion for writing has led her to create numerous essays as well as fiction.

She is the author of the books Lori, Murder Across the Ocean, Murder on Skid Row, and Milk and Oranges.

Her work has appeared in several publications, including North Shore Magazine; the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry’s Vision magazine; Alpha Omegan magazine; the book and CD Famous Poets of the Heartland: A Treasury of Beloved Family Poems, Talent, OR: Famous Poets Press, 2014; and the Gazette newspaper of Chicago.

She also has had essays and fiction published on the websites, The Best Short Stories (, Cat Stories (, Cats and Dogs at Play (, End Your Sleep, Funny Cat Stories (, Funny Cats Playing (, Funny Passport Stories (, How Old is Grandma? (, Laughter Is My Medicine (, Moral Short Stories-Ethical Tales (, One Bright,, Short Stories for Women (, True Cat Stories (, and Way Cool

Wexler’s first novel, Murder on Skid Row, was published in 2010. It is the story of a double-murder on Chicago’s Skid Row in the 1960s. Murder on Skid Row won an international Apex Award of Excellence from Communications Concepts, a writing think tank outside Washington, DC.

Published as an e-book on Smashwords and as a print edition by Central Park Communications in 2012, Milk and Oranges, is a collection of her short fiction and essays examining life, love, and the tragedy and comedy of the human condition. Whether she is tackling fiction or essays, Wexler writes from the heart. With a keen eye for detail and a way of looking at the world a bit sideways, Wexler’s writings in Milk and Oranges entertain while they make you think.

Milk and Oranges received a Bronze Award in the Women’s Issues category of the eLit Book Awards competition sponsored by the publishing services firm Jenkins Group Inc. of Traverse City, MI, and a rare international Grand Award in the Apex Awards competition by Communications Concepts in 2012.

In 2014, Charlene published two novels as e-books on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle: Lori, a family saga spanning several decades, and Murder Across the Ocean, a murder mystery set in England. Murder Across the Ocean also is available from Amazon as a paperback.

Her short story Abracadabra Magic received a “Very Highly Commended” rating in the Tom Howard Prose Contest, 2009.

Wexler is active with the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity, the Authors Marketing Group, the Chicago Writers Association, Children’s Memorial Hospital philanthropy, the Geneva Lake Museum, Lungevity (an organization that fights lung cancer), the McHenry Bicycle Club, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Mystery Writers of America, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Richmond IL Book Club, the Jewish United Fund, and the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

“I have always used writing as therapy,” Wexler said. “Now I have the time and opportunity to pursue it as a career.”

Her advice for other aspiring writers—even grandmothers like herself—is to “follow your dream. You can do it, and it’s never too late.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


I’ll admit:  my favorite parts of the writing process are research and editing. Writing that first draft? That’s my version of walking through water deep enough so it’s hard to keep your head above the waves.

So when I started thinking about writing a new series I first thought about what I’d like to learn  about. The bigger excuse to do research, the better!

I thought about writing an historical series. I even picked a time and place. (I won’t share more, since I still may write that series!) But my first mystery series (the Shadows Antique Print series) had a background of antique prints, so I decided to explore another area of antiques or art in my new series.
I thought of many possibilities. Antiquarian books had been done. China and glass didn’t fascinate me. Some antiques were wonderful, but I didn’t think I could sustain interest in them for a whole series. I kept thinking, as I walked through antique shows and attended auctions. And then, at a show in Vermont, I saw an entire booth full of samplers.  

I’ve always loved old stitching:  I grew up with samplers on the walls of my home, and as a child I saw them at the antique shows I attended with my grandmother, whose expertise was in old dolls and toys, but who also loved the “womanly arts” of embroidery, tatting, knitting, and needlepoint. She tried to teach those skills to me, but, sadly, my skills were with words, not needles. (I can knit pretty well, but that’s the end of my needle craft skills.)

In past generations, women were expected to know how to sew. Embroidery was an embellishment; a way to demonstrate high levels of those skills, as well as a woman’s artistic creativity. Needlepoint decorated clothing and homes. (In Elizabethan times wealthy families often retained men or women whose only job was to embellish wall coverings, bed hangings, gowns and vests.)

I knew those things. But I didn’t know much else about needle crafts. If I wrote a series with a background of needlepoint, I’d have a great excuse to learn more. A visit with the head of the Textile Division of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston convinced me: I’d found the background for my series.

And, since I was still learning about needlepoint, I decided my protagonist, Angie Curtis, would also be learning.

So Angie’s grandmother, an expert needlepointer, has a small Maine business with several employees who do custom needlework for designers and high end shops. One of the needlepointers is also an antique dealer, and she suggests they also identify and restore antique needlework.
The Mainely Needlepoint series was born.

In TWISTED THREADS, the first book in the series, Angie Curtis is called back to Haven Harbor, Maine, where she grew up … and where her mother disappeared fifteen years ago. Now her mother’s body has been found and Angie, who’s been working for a private investigator in Arizona, is determined to find her mother’s killer. To do that she has to face her own past, and get involved with her grandmother’s needlepoint business.

And I’m sharing the results of my research not only with Angie and the others in Haven Harbor, but with my readers. At the beginning of each chapter I’m including a quotation about needlework, or words from an early sampler. A glimpse of the past, although the mystery is today. In some books Angie will even find clues to the killer in needlework.

Am I having fun? Absolutely. And I’m learning a lot along the way.  I hope my readers will enjoy the result.

In addition to the Mainely Needlepoint series, Lea Wait is the author of the seven-book Shadows Antique Print mystery series, and has written five historical novels for young people. She herself is a fourth generation antique dealer, and lives on the coast of Maine with her artist husband, Bob Thomas, and their black cat, Shadow. To learn more about Lea and her books, see her website, She also welcomes readers to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads. The second in the Mainely Needlepoint series, THREADS OF EVIDENCE, will be published in August, 2015, and is now available for pre-order at bookstores and on-line.