Sunday, July 26, 2015

My Upcoming Events

California Writers Club, Saturday, August 15th, 10 a.m. Clarion Hotel, 3540 Rosedale Hiway, Bakersfield, CA

Topic: Creating and Sustaining a Mystery Series

Central Coast Book Fest,  Saturday, September 19, 10-4, Seacrest Hotel, San Luis Obispo, CA.

I'll have a lot of my books for sale. Stop by and say "hi".

Great Valley Book Fest, Saturday, October 10, 10-4, Promendade Shops at Orchard Valley (near the Bass Pro Shop), Manteca CA.

Holiday Boutique, Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7. 10 am. to 5. Porterville Art Gallery, Main St., Porterville CA.

Let me know if you need a speaker for an event or your organization. You can contact me at


Friday, July 24, 2015

PSWA Attendees

Because I don't want to violate anyone's privacy, I'm not going to name names, only tell where their expertise is to give you an idea of what kind of information was shared.

 A retired USAF Colonel and Special Agent for the OSI--which is the Air Force version of NCIS

A retired Air Force officer who specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence.

A TPSA Commander in Boston

Retired police officers from: 

New York City
Chicago (2)
New Mexico 
Deputy Chief from Irvine CA
Vice Detective from Washington DC
Northern California
World Airport Police, Los Angeles
Suffolk County PD on Long Island
Pleasant Hill P.D. CA
Ontario CA PD

Three retired FBI agents

Insurance Investigator

Former Assistant Attorney General


Former helicopter pilot.

 A paramedic and training officer for the federal disaters Medical Assistant Team in Calfornia.

A mountain climber and extreme adventurer who is also an expert on fraud.

Police Psychologist

An expert on health care and public health issues who is also a consultant on transitional threats.

Professor of Criminal Justice

Retired Biology Professor

Oak Tree Press Publisher

Parole and Probation Officer from Nevada

Two book editors

Dispatcher with AZPD

Volunteeer Firefighter


Mystery Writers

Many of the above were also in the military.

Everyone is writing something: pieces for online law enforcment publications, articles for printed magazine, how-to pieces, curriculum, all sorts of books fiction and non-fiction.

We had a couple of late registrants, and I don't have any information about their backgrounds.

This should give you an idea of the great expertise we are allowed to hear from.

As a mystery writer, I consider it a great privilege to be accepted into this group.

Marilyn Meredith

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Public Safety Writers Association Conference

The meeting room at the Orleans.

We had about 50 in attendance. It was a great conference and so glad to see so many returnees and a bunch of new folks.

This photo was of the panel on promotion. I think we could have gone on another 45 minutes in order to cover everything.

I gave a presentation on some of the mistakes I've made over the years. Mike Black kindly made the power point for me, and Tim Dees helped me through the process.

Here we are at one of our wonderful lunches. Great food and a good time to do some visiting. At our table from this vantage point were two retired police officers, a doctor who wrote a book about the abuse of prescription drugs, and a psychologist who works with police officers who have PTSD.

And this is what I did early every a.m.

Michael Black did a wonderful job with the program this year. I've been to many, many writing conferences, and this is my very favorite.

I'll have more pics later on, plus some of the great things I learned.


Monday, July 20, 2015

The Hook

Christopher Allan Poe and Bonnie Hearn Hill

At a recent San Joaquin Sisters in Crime meeting, Christopher Allan Poe and Bonnie Hearn Hill gave a wonderful presentation on Hooks. Some of the tips they came up with were things I hadn't even thought of as hooks, for instance:

The first two hooks are the title and the book cover.

Next comes the first line. Start the reader off with a question that pulls them into the story.

I still think my best first line came from Murder in the Worst Degree:

Except for the dead body washed up on the sand, conditions were perfect for surfing.

Next come the first couple of paragraphs.

Again, asking questions the reader wants to keep reading to find the answers.

Right away, will the reader know the time frame.

Voice of the protagonist.

Writer's style sensed right away.

First chapter must hook the reader into continuing on.

The popularity of genres seem to cycle.

Bridging Conflict means taking an unrelatd event that will take the story to leading conflict or story question.

The story question should appear right away. Characters should continue to grow.

Don't have a wishy-washy story question.

When the answer comes, that's the end of the story.

External conflict makes people turn the page.

How long does it take to get to the conflict? One character wants one thing, the other doesn't. Conflict needs to escalate. Reasoning, bargining, enticing away from main argument. Threat and big escalation.

Every sentence should push the story along.

The hook should be pulled close to the POV character.

Don't tell how the person reacts, show it through facial expressions and the body.

--Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What I've Been Up to by Marilyn Meredith

Many of you know what I've been doing because you are my friend on Facebook, but here's a quick rundown.

Because my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Not as It Seems,  is now with the publisher, I've been busy gearing up the promotion for it. As most authors know, planning for the promotion of any book should happen as soon as possible. Because I really like doing blog tours, I'm finding hosts for one now. I'm also looking for a place, or I should say places, for a book launch. I'd like to have one locally and another over on the coast, Morro Bay area, where this book is set. 

I'm not sure if I'll have a character naming contest or not this time. It is always popular, but haven't decided.

And always, while I'm working on promotion for one book, I'm writing another--a Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery and it's moving along nicely.

As far as family, we've had several birthdays and a big celebration for middle daughter who has reached the big 60. Eldest daughter and hubby made it up here for the party.

Hubby and I and middle daughter headed over to Vegas for the 10th annual Public Safety Writers Association conference. There'll be more about that in future blog posts.

While in Vegas we visited my sister and hubby and got to see some of her offspring.
Granddaughter, Melissa, who with her sister, Merenda, planned the surprise party.
Lisa's 60th surprise birthday party, she's being roasted here.

Big sis, Dana, telling what it was like to have Lisa for a little sister.

Sister-in-law Elaina, Lisa, Dana, and brother Matthew.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why Did She Skip Woodstock? by Kay Kendall

Why Did She Skip Woodstock?
By Kay Kendall

Historical mysteries provide a way for readers to refresh their knowledge of a time period, or learn about it in the first place. The 1960s gave rise to issues that are still relevant today, and in my Austin Starr mystery series I try not only to entertain but also to give gentle history lessons.

Rainy Day Women, new this month, takes place the second week of August in 1969. If you were a young adult or older back then, you are sure to remember some of the week’s highlights. Headlines all across the continent shrieked about the sensational murders in Los Angeles of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends, although Charles Manson and his gang had yet to be fingered. Apollo 12 astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins were back on Earth and cleared by NASA to rejoin their families. Lovers of rock music throughout the northeastern states were looking forward to a big outdoor concert scheduled for the coming weekend—posters called it the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

My amateur sleuth Austin Starr, however, is only dimly aware of all this. Her new baby is only three months old. She is sleep-deprived and barely learning to adjust her life to heavy new demands. That is when a phone call sends her scurrying thousands of miles to help find a killer. Her dear friend Larissa is suspected of murdering women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Then her former CIA trainer warns that an old enemy has contracted a hit on her. Her anxious husband demands that she give up her quest and fly back to him. Austin must decide how much to risk when tracking the killer puts her and her baby's life in danger. 

I set my second mystery against the backdrop of women’s liberation because I myself was involved in what has become known as second-wave feminism. My participation changed my life, as it did for countless others, and the ripples from those changes are still spreading, and the rightful place of women in society remains a point of much contention. My character Austin Starr knows very little about the movement, but as she questions members of the dead woman’s group, she finds herself fascinated with the new ideas she hears.

 Even though Austin’s young husband is an anti-war activist, she herself is not a radical. I wanted her story to be accessible to anyone today, of whatever political persuasion,  and I explore what life was like for a typical young woman—not a headline maker, not a Hanoi Jane or Angela Davis, but a moderate who nonetheless gets swept up by history's tides during the turbulent sixties. All that turmoil lends itself to drama, intrigue, and murder.

I don’t think this is a true spoiler when I divulge that the very day Austin discovers the murderer is the same day it rained hardest at the Woodstock festival. Later she decides she has no regrets at missing the event, saying, “I never liked mud very much anyway.”



Austin Starr is at it again, tackling a mystery in the heady days of budding feminism. But this time around she has to juggle her investigation with a new baby. A totally absorbing book.  ~~Terry Shames, award-winning author of A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge

Austin Starr is back, great news for mystery fans. Suspenseful and entertaining, this is a worthy follow-up to Kendall’s excellent debut, Desolation Row. ~~Miranda James, New York Times bestselling author of the Cat in the Stacks mysteries

Kendall's crackerjack amateur-sleuth novel, set in the days of Mad Men, reminds you how much has changed since then, but also that the rules for writing a knockout mystery remain the same: compelling characters, vivid setting, absorbing story. ~~Timothy Hallinan, award-winning author of the Poke Rafferty Bangkok thrillers and the Junior Bender mysteries

 Kendall paints a vivid portrait of the times – everything from macramé purses to bell bottoms and beads – but it’s her protagonist who wins our hearts in a mystery that explores issues as timely today as they were for the Woodstock generation.  Highly recommended. ~~Lynne Raimondo, author of the Mark Angelotti crime novels, Dante's Wood, Dante's Poison, and Dante's Dilemma

Vivid detail of the 1960s and a clever plot make Rainy Day Woman an outstanding follow-up to Kay Kendall’s strong debut, Desolation Row.  Austin Starr is a memorable protagonist, and Kendall’s skill at crafting a compelling mystery kept me turning the pages! ~~Robert Rotstein, author of The Bomb Maker’s Son and Corrupt Practices


Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. RAINY DAY WOMEN published on July 7--the second in her Austin Starr Mystery series. The E-book and paperback are available now, and the audio-book will be soon. 


(And by the way, I've read the book and loved it! My review will appear in Kings River Life.)


Monday, July 13, 2015

Anastasia Gets Swatted by Lois Winston

Anastasia Gets Swatted

When you live in New Jersey, you’re never at a loss for plot ideas. We’re a tiny state, but we’re also the most densely populated state in the nation, and many of our residents are up to no good. In A Stitch to Die For, the fifth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, I incorporated several recent news stories into the plot. One of them is the rash of swatting incidents that have taken place throughout the state over the past few months.

If you’re not familiar with swatting, it’s when someone phones in an anonymous tip to the police that a hostage situation or some other violent crime is in progress at a certain address. The caller identifies himself as either someone hiding in the house or a concerned neighbor who witnessed the break-in.

Swatting began with online gamers who would swat other gamers who were beating them. Search “swatting” on Youtube and you’ll find 34,000 videos. Often the victim of a swatting is online at the time. When the SWAT team burst in with guns drawn, the incident is captured on the victim’s computer camera.

Swatting soon spread to celebrity homes in California. More recently, the perpetrators have targeted schools and the homes of ordinary citizens. Here in New Jersey after a state assemblyman introduced legislation to toughen penalties for swatting, he became the victim of a swatting.

Because the police have no way of knowing if the calls they receive are hoaxes are real situations, they have to take each call seriously. Not only is that a drain on municipality budgets, it’s dangerous. It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or even killed.

Unfortunately, most culprits are never caught because they use computers to hack into phone lines. The police can’t trace the calls. The perpetrator could be the teenager next door but just as easily be someone hundreds or thousands of miles away. And it doesn’t take a computer genius to learn how to do it. Directions are only a click away on the Internet.

As awful as these incidents are, I knew I just had to have Anastasia and her family fall victim to a swatting.

A Stitch to Die For
Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. 

When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. 

Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

Lois Winston's Bio:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name.

Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.”

In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog,

Follow everyone on Tsu at, on Pinterest at, and onTwitter @anasleuth. 

( I absolutely love this great cover--and take my word for it, these books are terrific.