Friday, May 27, 2016

On the Road Again

We've spent a delightful 5 days in Murietta, California, southern end of the state, with our eldest daughter and family.

Our first day here besides catching up on all the family news, we ate dinner at Bob Has Crabs--a fun fish place and hubby and I had crab legs.Yum! When we got home we were visited by our first grandson, Patrick, and wife and one of their daughters, Olivia. 

Hubby went to the March Airplane Museum with son-in-law the next day and went to Tom's Farm. In the evening, we went to granddaughter Genie's and enjoyed celebrating great-grandson's 11th birthday and of course got to spend time with great-granddaughter Peyton. It is amazing how much the kids have grown since we last saw them.

On Wednesday, I made a trip to Urgent Care. Nicest one I've ever been in. My problem was taken care of, and then from there to the AT and T store as my phone was not acting like it should. That problem was also taken care of quickly.

That evening we headed grandson Patrick's to see his new condo and visited with his wife, Lucy, and all three kids--Emily (who is now a cosmetologist and hair-stylist), Olivia who is going to be a senior in high school and has a part time job, and Ethan who is now 6 foot tall and a basketball player, but he's only 13. We had dinner there and lots of fun visiting.

Thursday was a trip to Old Town Temecula and we're headed north to Camarillo Friday a.m. We'll be visiting our youngest daughter and another grandson--love getting to see so much family.

It will all go by too fast.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"It Ain't Over Till It's Over' or...

When You Get to the End, STOP WRITING! by Gino Bock.

Among the authors I know there is no consensus about using story outlines. Some writers use outlines, some don’t. I’m one of those that don’t. I always plan to, just like I plan to put money aside to pay my bills or plan to lose weight so I’ll fit into that suit I don’t want to send to Goodwill, but the truth is I never do it. I jump at the keyboard, excited because I thought of a great, exciting issue or problem, usually from an incident in my own memory—something  that actually happened to me. Then I just start writing. After all, with such a great party-starter of an idea, this just has to result in a great story, right?

Uh, not necessarily. To me a great story needs two things. A terrific beginning, which grabs readers and drags them into the story, hungry for what happens next. But  it needs a greater, even more terrific end, something that resolves the plot, does something unexpected and leaves the reader with some lesson learned or a new way to look at life…in other words, it changes the reader, maybe just a little or maybe a lot. That’s a GREAT ending.  The middle, where everything happens, has to be good- good enough to get the reader to the great ending and good enough to justify the terrific beginning. But the middle can be complicated and confusing (that’s why it’s referred to as the ‘muddle’) and doesn’t get the fun job of resolving all the conflicts and solving all the mysteries. 

If I were a part of a story, I wouldn’t want to be the middle. I’d have to do all the work and I’d get none of the credit. Too bad. There are no unions in Storyland. Tough noogies for the middle. I’d want to be the end. That’s where the goods get delivered. That’s what people remember. If the end of the story makes the reader stare at the last page, wailing, “NOOOOOOO!” then I can count on at least one sale for my next book.

That’s a heavy burden to put on a few pages or even a few chapters. That’s  asking a lot from a thousand words or so, many of which didn’t even plan on being in the book. The ending has a few big jobs to do. Primarily it must resolve the main plot- in a who-dun-it, we learn the who. In an on again-off again romance the couple either winds up together or apart, decisively, this time. Lassie finds Timmy and helps him climb out of the well.  The bad guys get punished, the good guys get rewarded (or vice versa, that makes a good ending, too) and all the subplots that are wandering around unattended like children at a carnival must be hunted down, corralled, fed, diapered and driven home for a nap.

The action comes to an end and all the questions are answered and everything is neatly tied up with a big bow. Does that mean it’s a great ending? Not to me. I’ve done all that stuff and more, yet still I kept writing because it didn’t feel like the book had ended. Something big was missing, like instead of finding an amusement park at the end of the road, I drove through the sign that said ‘bridge out’ and…well,  there ya go…that only really worked for “Thelma and Louise.”

Maybe an outline would have helped. But even if every line on the “Ending: To Do” checklist was marked complete, it still wouldn’t feel right. After all this blathering, what did I really want to say to the reader? Have I said it? Has this long journey been productive? What EMOTION is missing here? Does the end fulfill the promise made by the beginning? If not, I keep writing…and writing… I can’t end the book till I can figure out what’s missing.  When I find  it,  I put it squarely where the reader can find it. Then I go back and remove everything that doesn’t need to be there, no matter how much has to go. If I walk away, because everything’s been checked off so I must be done, the reader will disagree and  turn the page looking for the ‘real ending.’ If I do the job properly, the only reason I’ll write  “The End” is because I’m dying to see those words on paper. But they won’t be necessary. Both of us—the author and the reader--will know exactly when the story ends.

And when that happens, if I’m smart and paying attention, I hope I’ll STOP WRITING!

Bio: Gino B. Bardi was born in New York City in 1950, and lived on the South Shore of Long Island until he attended Cornell University in 1968, during the tumultuous era of Vietnam War protests. Armed with a degree in English/Creative Writing, he diligently sought work in his field and soon wound up doing everything but. For the next forty-four years he cranked out advertising copy, magazine articles, loan pitches and short stories while running a commercial printing company in Upstate New York. Along the way, he married his college girlfriend, became father to three lovely daughters and decided that winter was an unnecessary evil. In 2008 he sold the printing business, retired, and now writes humorous fiction in his home on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Two signs hang above his desk: "Bad decisions make good stories," and Mel Brooks' advice that "You only need to exaggerate a LITTLE BIT."

The Cow in the Doorway is his first full-length novel and won the statewide Royal Palm Literary Award for best unpublished New Adult novel for 2015.
Twitter:   ‘ginobardi1’   (just got it, nothing posted)
LinkedIn:  Gino Bardi
Skype:  gino.bardi
Buy link:


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries By Heather Haven

When I started the humorous mystery series revolving around the Alvarez Family, I wanted to show a family that wasn’t the traditional husband, wife, two kids, station wagon, and dog. Even when it starts out like that, life happens. At the very least, your car breaks down and your dog gets fleas. What we discover along the way is you need to hold on to what you have with a lot of love, humor, and flea powder.

Also, as a child, I heard stories of how hard life was for my Italian ancestors who immigrated to this strange but beckoning land during the early part of the twentieth century. My grandfather had two dollars to his name when he stepped off Ellis Island! Can you imagine? Not speaking the language, not knowing anything about the culture, but having the guts to seek out a better life, with only two bucks to your name? But he not only survived, he thrived. This determination was and is shared by many ethnic groups. I wanted to highlight one of the current ethnic groups making inroads into the fabric of American society, the Latinos from Mexico.

Everything I’ve said so far sounds serious, right? But humor is built on serious subjects. So enter a ½ Latina, ½ Palo Alto Blueblood, but 100 percent detective, the quirky Lee Alvarez. She’s bright, funny, loving, and driven half mad by the members of her family that own a detective agency in today’s Silicon Valley. It’s sparkly, humorous, and positive, with always the thrust on the family unit that makes her nuts, even when Lee's falling over dead bodies.

The first book of the series, Murder is a Family Business, won the coveted Single Titles Reviewers Choice Award 2011. The second, A Wedding to Die For was a finalist for the EPIC and Global Best Mystery of the Year Awards 2012. Death Runs in the Family, the third of the Alvarez series, won the Global Gold for best mystery novel, 2013. DEAD…If Only, taking place in New Orleans, Won Global Silver, 2015. I am currently working on the fifth of the series, The CEO Came DOA. The Alvarez, Family. I love ‘em.

I am proud to say Murder is a Family Business, Book 1 of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, is included in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries. The lineup of the other nine authors is impressive. It includes Lois Winston, Jonnie Jacobs, Judy Alter, Maggie Toussaint, Camille Minichino, Susan Santangelo, Mary Kennedy, RP Dahlke, Vinnie Hansen, and yours truly. We are a murdering lot, but fun!

Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by ten critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in the set is the first book in an established multi-book series—a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars. Titles include:

Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery by Lois Winston—Working mom Anastasia is clueless about her husband’s gambling addiction until he permanently cashes in his chips and her comfortable middle-class life craps out. He leaves her with staggering debt, his communist mother, and a loan shark demanding $50,000. Then she’s accused of murder…

Murder Among Neighbors, a Kate Austen Suburban Mystery by Jonnie Jacobs — When Kate Austen’s socialite neighbor, Pepper Livingston, is murdered, Kate becomes involved in a sea of steamy secrets that bring her face to face with shocking truths—and handsome detective Michael Stone.

Skeleton in a Dead Space, a Kelly O’Connell Mystery by Judy AlterReal estate isn’t a dangerous profession until Kelly O’Connell stumbles over a skeleton and runs into serial killers and cold-blooded murderers in a home being renovated in Fort Worth. Kelly barges through life trying to keep from angering her policeman boyfriend Mike and protect her two young daughters.

In for a Penny, a Cleopatra Jones Mystery by Maggie Toussaint—Accountant Cleo faces an unwanted hazard when her golf ball lands on a dead banker. The cops think her BFF shot him, so Cleo sets out to prove them wrong. She ventures into the dating world, wrangles her teens, adopts the victim’s dog, and tries to rein in her mom…until the killer puts a target on Cleo’s back.

The Hydrogen Murder, a Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino—A retired physicist returns to her hometown of Revere, Massachusetts and moves into an apartment above her friends' funeral home. When she signs on to help the Police Department with a science-related homicide, she doesn't realize she may have hundreds of cases ahead of her.

Retirement Can Be Murder, A Baby Boomer Mystery by Susan SantangeloCarol Andrews dreads her husband Jim’s upcoming retirement more than a root canal without Novocain. She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it—until Jim is suspected of murdering his retirement coach.

Dead Air, A Talk Radio Mystery by Mary Kennedy—Psychologist Maggie Walsh moves from NY to Florida to become the host of WYME's On the Couch with Maggie Walsh. When her guest, New Age prophet Guru Sanjay Gingii, turns up dead, her new roommate Lark becomes the prime suspect. Maggie must prove Lark innocent while dealing with a killer who needs more than just therapy.

A Dead Red Cadillac, A Dead Red Mystery by RP DahlkeWhen her vintage Cadillac is found tail-fins up in a nearby lake, the police ask aero-ag pilot Lalla Bains why an elderly widowed piano teacher is found strapped in the driver’s seat. Lalla confronts suspects, informants, cross-dressers, drug-running crop dusters, and a crazy Chihuahua on her quest to find the killer.

Murder is a Family Business, an Alvarez Family Murder Mystery by Heather HavenJust because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez, has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve.

Murder, Honey, a Carol Sabala Mystery by Vinnie HansenWhen the head chef collapses into baker Carol Sabala’s cookie dough, she is thrust into her first murder investigation. Suspects abound at Archibald’s, the swanky Santa Cruz restaurant where Carol works. The head chef cut a swath of people who wanted him dead from ex-lovers to bitter rivals to greedy relatives.

Buy Links

Bio: After studying drama at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, Heather Haven went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, novels, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced at Playwrights Horizon and well-received. Once she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.

One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote "The Sands of Time" with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio - where she wrote comedic ad copy – helped develop her long-time love affair with comedy.

Heather lives in the foothills of San Jose with her husband of 34-years and her two cats, Yulie and Ellie. She is currently writing her ninth novel.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Heading Off for Some Fun

Hubby, daughter Lisa and I are embarking on another adventure. A mild one compared to those I read about from my friends--but an adventure nevertheless.

We'll be spending a several days with our eldest daughter and her hubby in the southern part of the state. She always keeps us busy with interesting places to visit and see. Best of all though is we'll bet to spend some time with two of our grandchilden and their families.

From their we'll head north, up the California coast to stop overnight to visit our youngest daughter and a grandson and granddaughter. The next morning we'll drive by the place where my fictional Rocky Bluff is set and on up to Nipomo to attend the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Their speaker will be Sheila Lowe who is a handwriting expert and also a friend. Lunch follows with CC SinC friends. I hope we'll get to do a bit of sight seeing afterwards. 

The next day, Sunday, May 29, from 1-3, I'll be joining some of the CC SinC members at a group signing at Zaca Mesa Winery in Los Olivos. We'll head home the next day.

Because we share out home with so many, son and wife, granddaughter and hubby, great-grandson and wife, don't have to worry about leaving our house. They'll all be there "holding down the fort."

I'll be letting you know how things go as we enjoy our adventure.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why Do I Keep on Writing?

A similar question was on one of the other blogs I appear on, except it was why do WE write.

I'm only going to speak for myself, but I must admit there are times that I wonder.

I received a quarterly report and royalties from one of my publishers--and it was just about enough for a nice dinner out for husband and me. Not much of a reward for all the time I put in writing.

On the good side, several of the books in that particular series were purchased--both paperback and e-books. That means people are interested in the series.

As for my true motivation--writing is what I do. Everyone knows I'm a writer and that's how I spend a great deal of my time. (Another batch is spent in promoting--but I wouldn't even sell as many books as I do if I didn't spend time promoting.)

Because I'm invested in my characters, I need to know what is going to happen to them next and the only way to do that is write the next book.

I love my writer friends--and I have lots of them. Ones I actually get to see in person--once a week with my writers' group, ever so often for the two Sisters in Crime groups where I actually attend meetings and events, and the writers I've met over the years and still am in touch with And I have a whole bunch of writer friends that I connect with on Facebook.

And last, but certainly not least, there are the readers who follow my series and let me know when they really like the latest book.

Simply, that's why I keep on writing.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

P. S. It won't be too long before I'll be promoting another Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

And the Winners of my Contest Are...

Yes, winners, there were two people who won the contest by posting a comment on every single blog post during my tour. And there was someone who came in a close third, but it's hard enough fitting two new characters into a series. However, I did appreciate her comments.

And I know this wasn't an easy tour to follow. There were two big glitches--one person never posted at all--and another didn't post until late in the day and didn't use my book cover or my photo. When hardly anyone commented, I knew she didn't have much of a following.

The lesson there is even though someone volunteers to be a host on a blog tour, check them out and make sure they have a blog that is followed--and they have the concept of how to set up posts.

Okay, enough chatter, here are the winners:

Joseph Haggerty and Susan Tuttle.

I know both of them because of my ties to the mystery community. 

Joe is a fellow member of the Public Safety Writers Association, and though he lives on the east coast, I've met him several times at the PSWA annual conference. He's retired law enforcement and really wants to be a villain. I'll be glad to grant his wish.

Susan Tuttle is a fellow member of the Central Coast chapter of Sisters in Crime. Though it's on the coast and I live in the foothills of the Central Valley,  I try to get to a couple of meetings a year and have given presentations to them many times.  Susan also doesn't want to be a nice person, so I'll try my best to do what I can for her.

Despite the glitches, the majority of blog hosts were wonderful! And, I had a lot of fun. 

Yes, I am writing that book now with these two not-so-nice fictional characters.

Congratulations Joe and Susan, and thanks for following along as I talked about my new book:
A Crushing Death.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Writing Rituals--Do You Have Any?

Some writers do their best work in coffee shops. I can't imagine that. I can write most anywhere, but I know I'd be far too distracted by people watching. My preference for working on a book is in my office--no, I don't shut the door and lots of people come in and out--but that I'm used to.

Some writers have certain music that they like playing in the background. My house is noisy enough without me playing music.

Some writers do their best work late at night--I work best in the mornings. My mind seems to turn to mush in the afternoon. However, if ideas are tumbling, I might do some writing anytime.

Ideas seem to pop into my mind at odd times--and often when I'm lying down to sleep. That means if I'm going to remember, I need to jot down what has occurred to me.

When I first begin in the morning, I make myself a cup of Chai latte. I'm a slow drinker so I'm usually still sipping on it for a couple of hours.

When I work at the computer, I always have a notebook next to me to jot down character's names and descriptions, what day I'm on, and things I know need to be put in later. It's kind of a back and forth thing. I've always done it this way.

Even when I'm on a trip and trying to do some writing on my iPad, I still have the notebook beside me. 

It's interesting to me how different writing rituals and habits are among those of us who write.

Tell me some of the things that you consider your rituals.

Marilyn who is now at work on her 13th Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery.