Hoping for the Best

Plans are being made starting in August for  book fairs and mystery and writers conferences. Do you think it will happen?

Not being able to see into the future, I have no idea, but I can assure you that I am really hoping it will.

I’ve really missed all the in-person events.

Book fairs are a great place to sell books because the attendees who come are folks who are readers and seeking new books. I’ve gone to many over the years. One in particular I’ve really enjoyed is held in Manteca CA, and they are planning one for this fall. Another group is planning one the same day in Elk Grove CA.

In the past, the Visalia Library (much closer to home) has hosted a book fair on their large front lawn. But the library has been closed all these many months because of Covid—and I’ve heard nothing about future plans for a book fair.

I know one of the bigger mystery conventions has plans to convene in August. I haven’t heard about many other mystery or writer conferences future plans.

I’ve missed them all. Writers conferences are great, a place to learn new things about writing and what’s going on in the profession and industry. Believe me, there are always changes.

Mystery cons are more of a showcase for writers and a place for them to meet other writers and mystery fans. For years I went to so many, that each occasion was a bit like a family reunion. I met so many writers and readers and it was a delight to see them again and catch up on their news.

Public Safety Writers Association’s writers’ conference is my favorite and they are shooting for the end of September. I like this conference because so many people in law enforcement and other fields of public safety are involved.

Whether or not this is the year we’ll  see the writers’ world return to normal, I have no idea. We can always hope, though can’t we.

Marilyn who also writes as F.M. Meredith

Latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, End of the Trail

Latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Not As We Knew It

An Unusual Month

Not  sure how I feel about the first month of 2021 starting off with some strange happenings. I’m hoping it isn’t a forecast of things to come.

My latest book, Not As We Knew It, made its debut. My sister ordered a book immediately, read it, and reported a couple of typos. Told my editor/publisher and she fixed them. Then my daughter read the book and found more typos and other errors. (Both said they really liked the book despite the problems.) I also heard from other who said they loved the book and ignored the typos. All has been fixed and the new version available on Amazon.

Others have bought copies, and of course, I purchased copies to sell. My editor/publisher is sending me some of the fixed copies to replace the ones with errors. I’ve offered to replace the books of others who bought from the first batch. Only a few have taken me up on the offer.

I’ve been complaining about being unable to participate in any in-person events—and in this case, a good thing, until my new books arrive. However, I was invited to give a presentation on writing at the local Art Gallery, and told to bring some books. Once a month, different artist demonstrate new techniques, and this time it was me to talk about writing. A huge article was in the paper about my appearance along with a warning that everyone had to wear a mask and social distancing would be in place.

Frankly, I doubted many, if any, would come. To my surprise the room already had about a dozen people in it when I arrived; more sat in the next room to listen. (One of the members of the art association said 20 in all attended.) All wore their masks. Among those there were a teenage boy who wants to write mysteries, a young man who is writing a book set in World War II, two older men writing their autobiographies and another writing non-fiction. None of the women spoke up about what they were writing or wanted to write, but may have been there just to support me. However, they were the main book buyers. I also gave away copies of the book with the typos and errors to everyone’s delight.

I spoke for two hours mainly about writing in general and answered lots of questions. I had a great time, and I think those who came did too. Hope I can do it again somewhere in the not too far future.

And if anyone is interested in the re-edited Not As We Knew It, it is available on Amazon for Kindle and in paper. (I write this series as F. M. Meredith.)

One more thing, from February 1-5, I’m offering Kindle copies of Seldom Traveled for .99 cents.

Marilyn

REFLECTIONS OF MY 2020 WRITING LIFE

As you may have already guessed, this past year was nothing like I expected—and no surprise to any of you because your lives weren’t anything like you expected either. For this post, I’m going to stick to what happened or didn’t happen as per my writing life.

Before I’d made up my mind whether or not to attend the two big mystery cons, Left Coast Crime and Bouchercon, both to be held nearby, the virus struck and they were both cancelled.

I’d signed up for a local writer’s conference in March, and it wasn’t long before it was canceled too, as well as the wonderful Central Coast Sisters in Crime conference in April.

My favorite conference of all, the Public Safety Writers Association’s, held in July in Vegas. was axed too. Two big book fairs in October disappeared from the calendar.  In November, I was supposed to be the speaker for the Nightwriters in San Luis Obispo—but of course, that was cancelled too. 

The only in-person event that survived was a two-day holiday boutique held in the Porterville Art Gallery, and yes, I had a booth. People wore masks and kept their distance. I sold books and others sold crafts. No one got sick.

My latest book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series came out, End of the Trail, and I really thought it would be the last in the series. However, I’ve changed my mind, because when I made a trip to visit my eldest daughter, I got a great idea for another  mystery in the series.

I also finished Not As We Knew It in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. I did the forbidden and included the virus because I felt I had to—the series is in real time and to be honest, I had fun writing it.

This is where a problem came along. I’ve always had parties on the occasion of a new book coming out, held in various locations. Of course, this year it couldn’t happen. This meant all my promotion efforts had to be online, and online they were.  I did a free e-book promotion for one of my favorites in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. It did a fairly good job enticing people to buy some of the other books in the series.

With End of the Trail it was mainly Facebook and Blog Posts. Certainly this was not nearly as profitable as doing in-person events.

What I’ve missed most is my writers’ critique group, being with my writing friends, and sharing out writing.

Lifting my cup of Chai latte, “Here’s to a better 2021 for all of us.”

Marilyn who also writes as F. M. Meredith

Guess What I Just Realized

My latest mystery in the Rocky Bluff Police Department series, Not as We Knew It, is now available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.

Of course, this means it’s time to promote it. Since in-person events are for the most part no longer available it means relying on the Internet to let people know I have a new book out.

I’ve always enjoyed visiting other’s blogs to talk (write) about my latest books, and as I’ve been thinking about what to write, I realized this was the second time I’ve done something odd in a mystery.

There is no murder!

What a shocker. There is definitely plenty of mystery, and as in all the Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries, a lot about the officers and their families and how they are dealing with what’s happening in their lives. And since I’m writing in more or less real time, you can guess what the biggest problem going on that they must cope with.

And, there was no murder in my last RBPD mystery either, Bones in the Attic.

Maybe that’s a good thing since Rocky Bluff is such a small town, but I am a tad worried about my readers. Almost all mysteries revolve around murder. A missing woman is the main mystery, but other crimes are committed like happens anywhere.

The book is done and being read, waiting for the reviews to come in.

Not as We Knew It is  #16 in the series.

 Marilyn who writes this series as F. M. Meredith

My Mentor

Reading Susan Oleksiw’s post about writing mentors made me know I had to write about mine–Willma Gore.

I met Willma when I moved to Springville and joined a Porterville writing group. (I’ve belonged to this same group since 1981 though the members have changed through the years.) Willma had many articles published in West Ways magazine, Guideposts, farm journals and many other publications.

During our critique group meetings , she pointed out many ways for each of us not so well-published writers to make what we were working on better. New people joined the group, others dropped out, but Willma and I remained. I learned so much from her such as how to better handle point-of-view, making the setting real, creating believable characters, dialogue that moved the plot along and revealed character, using sounds, smells, taste, touch as well as what things and people looked like, and so much more.

We became good friends and traveling companions as we attended various writing conferences. She eventually moved to the coast where I visited her when I attended various conferences there. Time passed, we both grew older, and she once again moved, this time to be near a son in Sedona Arizona. I was able to visit her several times and sat in on a couple of her regular writing classes where she was continuing to teach writing skills to other aspiring authors.

Willma is now in her late nineties and living in an assisted living facility, where she still holds weekly writing classes. We still keep in touch via email and she’s one of my biggest fans, always reading my latest book.

I owe so much to Willma, not only for what she taught me, but also for a wonderful and long friendship.

Marilyn