Back to Normal for Mystery Writers—Mostly.

The big mystery cons are ready and waiting for writers and fans to enjoy mingling, meeting authors and readers, and enjoying being together.

I have wonderful memories of the Bouchercons and Left Coast Crimes I attended over the years. Sometimes going to one of these events was like attending a family reunion. Often I was greeted with a big hug by someone I’d met the year before, and we’d have a wonderful time chatting.

There were also several smaller mystery conferences I attended that are no longer happening. My favorite was Mayhem in the Midlands, which happened in Omaha. I met so many wonderful people there, fans and authors. It’s where I first met Wm. Kent Krueger and his wife. And it’s where my husband and Kent vied for the best actor at the mystery dinner and play. Sometimes Kent won, and other times it was my hubby.

Once Kent’s wife and my husband were on a panel with Jan Burke’s husband and another spouse I don’t recall right now. The moderator asked great questions, and it was a hilarious panel.

My husband and I had a wonderful time hanging out with the most interesting people, and also traveling to many places in the U.S. we’d have never visited if it had been for these mystery events.

Now, hubby and I no longer fly, and I am only planning on attending one writing conference, the one put on by the Public Safety Writers Association in Las Vegas. (My daughter will drive me there.) This conference is small, attended by many still active and retired persons in all different types of law enforcement and other fields of public safety who are writing or aspiring to write, and mystery writers. The speakers and panels are a mixture of writing and publishing, and law enforcement information. Four publishers are expected to attend. https://policewriter.com/

What was once my normal, attending many mystery cons during the year, is no longer possible for several reasons, but I encourage those of you who can. And my advice to those of you who attend one or more event, don’t merely hang out with those you know, reach out and talk to everyone. Yes, I always did and shared some wonderful conversations and meals with interesting people for all parts of the country. You might become friends with a reader who will become one of your biggest fans.

Marilyn who also writes as F. M. Meredith

The latest and last book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series if Reversal of Fortune. And I’ve received lots of help for this series from folks I’ve met through the Public Safety Writers of America.

What Being a Writer Means to Me

I started writing stories when I was a youngster. I wrote my own versions of the books I read. My first original was a story about fairies which I illustrated. My mother sent it to a publisher, who sent back a nice note telling me to keep writing, and I did for a long time.

My first efforts as an adult were rejected and I’m sure because I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t get serious about writing until I had grandkids. My sister did our family genealogy and I decided to write an historical family saga based on both.  I had to do lots of research about places and times my ancestors lived and believe me it took a long, long time.

The second one I wrote was published by a major publishing company. I had no clue about marketing or promotion and did one book signing. When the 2nd was published, I knew a bit more.

Next came my first mystery, and another.  I’ve been at this a long time, and now have 50 published books all available on Amazon. Along the way I’ve learned so much about writing and promotion.

Besides the fun of writing and creating characters who seem as real as the people I know, I’ve had a great time over the years traveling all over the county attending writers workshops and mystery cons—Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime, plus many of the smaller ones  that have disappeared like Mayhem in the Midlands and Crimefest.

I was able to meet some of my favorite authors like Mary Higgins Clark, William Kent Krueger, Craig Johnson, Naomi Hirahara, and so many, many more. Plus, I made friends with so many other writers and more importantly readers.

When I read about how much writers and readers enjoyed this most recent Left Coast Crime, I was a tad envious, but then realized I had so many great memories of conferences past and all the interesting people I’ve met over the years.

I’m now in the process of my two favorite writer pursuits: 1. Planning for and promoting my latest book, the last in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Reversal of Fortune and 2. Putting together ideas for my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Being a writer is a wonderful and rewarding part of my life in so many ways.

Reversal of Fortune is about the death of a fortune teller. It’s available in paper and for Kindle on Amazon: (I wrote this series as F. M. Meredith)

SAYING GOODBYE TO ROCKY BLUFF

Rocky Bluff, California is not a real place, but it has been alive and active through sixteen Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries with one more yet to come. The fictional beach town is much like the one I lived in many years ago although located a little farther up the coast. It seems quite real to me.

The decision to end the series came to me while I was writing the newest, now with my editor. My reasons to do this are many.

First, I’m up there in years, and much slower in so many ways.

Second, policing has changed so much since I first started writing this series. I’ve been fortunate to have many persons to call upon for research, starting with my now deceased police officer son-in-law, plus the wonderful members of the Public Safety Writers Association who’ve always answered my questions.

Third, though I’ve always had my police department be understaffed and underfunded and using the nearest big city for many of their needs such as the coroner, forensics etc., it limited much of what I could include in a plot.

Fourth, I’ve been reading some of the big name author’s police procedurals and I feel like I’m not up to addressing the modern day issues for police officers in the outstanding way they’re doing.

As I was writing this last RBPD, I decided to tie up some loose ends for some of my characters, part of why I came to my decision to end the series.

No, I’m not giving up writing. I love to write and I can’t imagine not having a writing project. I’ve got some ideas for a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery floating around in my imagination. (I truly thought I’d ended that series with End of the Trail but ended up writing The Trash Harem.)  I’m also considering writing a young adult mystery set during WWII—and yes, I will use a lot of my memories of what it was like to be growing up during that time period.

I’d like to hear from other authors who’ve decided to end a series, and how they felt about it.

Marilyn

February Sped By–

So much so, I forgot I needed to write a post for this blog. The main reason for my forgetfulness is I attended a board meeting for the Public Safety Writers Association last week. I’ve been a part of this group since its formation, first as the program chair for their annual conference and second as the newsletter editor. I’ve since passed on both jobs to other younger and quite capable members. I’m still a member-at-large on the board.

I must confess though, I mainly wanted to attend because the board members are all good friends and I wanted to see them all again.

PSWA is a group for anyone writing with a connection to public safety, and this included all kinds of law enforcement, fire, EMTs, military, dog handlers, etc. and for anyone writing about any of these including mystery writers.

The conference is my favorite for various reasons: interesting speakers and panels on different aspects of writing and public safety, and a place to ask all those law enforcement and other related questions.  Mystery writers are welcome on appropriate panels and encouraged to bring books for sale in the bookstore.

This is an affordable conference, always in the Orleans hotel and casino in Las Vegas. The night-before reception and delicious lunches are included in the price. A writing workshop before the conference is offered for an extra fee.

Take a look: https://policewriter.com/events/pswa-summer-2022-conference/

And that is my excuse for being late.

Marilyn

Another Month Gone

Can you believe it? January of 2022 is almost over. And unfortunately, a whole lot hasn’t changed from 2021.

I miss our monthly chapter’s Sisters in Crime meetings, and I fear this long hiatus has probably meant the end of this group. Our newsletter stopped and we’ve had no other contact. Another chapter I belong to has continued with Zoom meetings.

A local writers’ group I met with on a monthly basis is no longer meeting either, though members are in contact with one another.

The critique group I belong to is still meeting, but they meet at night, and at this time I need to be home to assist my husband in the evenings. However, a handful of us are meeting once a month at a local restaurant to enjoy each other’ company, have conversation, and have a nice lunch together.

I have been asked to be a speaker at a writers’ group on the coast, and it may be in person.

A women’s group here where I live has invited me to come to their regular meeting in May and tell them which of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries were inspired by real events. They are interested in the subject because that series is set in a town much like the one the members and I live in. I’m delighted and will bring copies of the books I’m going to tell about. Plus I’m invited for lunch—always a plus.

This tells me not to give up hope, things are changing, though at a much slower pace than I’d like. However, I’m grateful for what little is happening.

What about the rest of you? Are you seeing any signs of life getting back to normal where you live?

Marilyn