Looking Back

As an author, one of the biggest rewards for me is all the wonderful people I’ve met over the year. Famous authors, not so famous authors, and so many wonderful readers who’ve become my friends.

On the famous author list is Mary Higgins Clark who I met at my first mystery weekend, a small conference at a rustic venue in the hills. She seemed a bit out of place dressed stylishly in a suit and high heels. Didn’t matter, she was charming and friendly and willing to share so much with the handful of hopeful writers. I didn’t see her again until years later at an Edgar award cocktail party. She greeted me with a big hug and treated me like an old friend as she introduced me to her—at the time—new husband.

Another famous author, Ian Rankin, invited my husband and me to sit with him and his two agents, and various others of his entourage when we couldn’t find seats at a Bouchercon luncheon. He included us in his conversations.  Charming man.

I was a panelist with Lee Childs at another big mystery convention (why I was put on it I’ll never know) and it was nearly impossible to understand the questions asked by the moderator. It was obvious, the panelist were having troubles. When it was my turn, I just said whatever came into my head. After it was over, I was in an elevator with Childs and he asked me how I knew what he was asking. I told him what I’d done. He laughed, and said he wished he’d thought of that.

Me and William Kent Krueger

Wonderful writer, William Kent Krueger, became friends with my husband and me at Mayhem in the Midlands in Omaha. Hubby and he competed several times to be the best actor (over acting) in the annual mystery play sponsored by the Omaha Library.

Before Craig Johnson became as popular as he is now, I was on a panel with him and the room overflowed. Some of the other panelists had no idea who he was and thought people had attended because our topic was writing about Native Americans. Johnson was oh so charming and made sure everyone on the panel had their time to shine.

Twist Phelan and I connected at a mystery conferences in Idaho. We had a great time, and I remember we laughed a lot. At other conventions where she was on several panels, she always made sure to point out my husband and I were in the audience.

There are so many other not quite as famous mystery writers I’ve become friends with over the years, some were roommates at conferences and conventions. I met several publishers who became friends. Some I’m still in contact with—though Covid put a halt to a lot of opportunities to reconnect with these folks.

Best of all are the readers I’ve made friends with over the year including the wonderful Alaskan who invited me to stay with her when I had several days after a Bouchercon and was supposed to visit schools but somehow was left out of the planning. And another woman from Alaska found a school for me to talk to, drove me around, and showed me the sights.  What started out as a disaster became a wonderful adventure. Husband and I connected with so many other mystery lovers and hung out with them at other conventions, and are still in touch with a few.

I have lots of wonderful memories of time spent with mystery writers and readers.

Marilyn

NOT THE THANKSGIVING I HOPED FOR

We’d been invited to have Thanksgiving with one of our grandsons and family and I really looked forward to it. We’ve gone there in the past. He lives in another foothill community, up a winding road to a hill top retreat. His father-in-law, a master chef, prepares the feast—always gourmet.

Besides the wonderful food, many other relatives and friends join the festivities.

However, this year for us it wasn’t too be. I came down with a vicious bug. No way could I go anywhere.

All was not lost, however. We share our home with our granddaughter and family and she looked forward to doing her own Thanksgiving. She and her hubby made the food with the help of her two oldest daughters.

Though I didn’t have much of an appetite, what I did eat was delicious, and hubby didn’t miss out on a Thanksgiving meal.

What does this have to do with writing? Not much, only that I haven’t felt like doing any. I’ve kept in touch with family members via Facebook. I learned my brother-in-law was too sick to go to their big family feast. One of my author friends has the same symptoms as I do, and she had chicken soup for her Thanksgiving meal.

I’ve had many great Thanksgivings in the past, many I prepared myself. These days, I’m happy that the younger generation is taking over those duties.

Despite not feeling well, I’m thankful for so much in my life, having my husband of 71 years, my big family, and my friends including all my author friends, the joy of creating a fictional world and sharing it with others, and still being able to enjoy life.

My hope is that all of you who read this post, had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to what’s coming next.

Marilyn

WHY KEEP WRITING?

Reasons for me not to write any more:

  1. Reached retirement age long ago.
  2. I’ve never been a best-seller.
  3. If I didn’t write I’d have more time to enjoy life, family and friends.

Despite the three reasons I listed, I still have  a need to write the last Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. She’s retired now and I want to send her off into a happy future and tie up a few loose ends for her and her husband. I’ve been hanging out with them both for so long, it is hard to say, “goodbye.”

I did manage to end my Rocky Bluff P.D. series (written under the name of F. M. Meredith) with Reversal of Fortune.

In case you might wonder if I have plans for another series, the answer is probably not.

I do want to write another mystery, a young adult set in Los Angeles during World War II. Why, you might ask. Because that’s where and when I grew up. It was a different time in so many ways and I have some great memories of what went on: Air raid drills at home and at school, Block warden meetings where the kids had a great time playing in the dark while the grown up learned to roll bandages and other tasks, victory gardens, food and gas rationing, being free to go wherever I wanted all day as long as I was home in time for dinner, and telling my friends wild stories like what I said was the truth.

Not sure if it will interest anyone, but I plan to write it anyway.

Marilyn

BACK IN THE GROOVE—SORT OF

Attending the PSWA Annual Conference was wonderful. So rewarding to see old friends and make some new ones—plus talk writing and hear speakers and panels on various writing topics.

I need to write another—and the last—Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. Tempe is retired now and I’m ready to let her enjoy her retirement. Though I’ve had a request to put one of the ongoing characters in, one who is based on a real person and would like to see something specific happen with the character, that’s all I had. (I thought End of the Trail would be the last and then The Trash Harem had to be written. Now I need to send Tempe off with one last adventure.

In my newsletter, I asked my readers for ideas and did the same on Facebook. More ideas, but nothing that appealed.

While I was at the conference I some thoughts about what might be good in this final visit with Tempe started to pop into my brain. I even thought of a good beginning. No, I haven’t written anything down yet as I’ve had too many other things to do. When you come home from being gone six days duties pile-up: unpacking, laundry, and all the mail.

Frankly, I’ll be glad to actually be in the writing groove again, it’s been far too long. In the past, I’ve managed to write and publish two books a year. Nothing so far this year.

I’ll start like always, jotting notes down. Eventually getting to who turns up dead—where, and all those who might have wanted the victim dead. Naming and writing all the new character descriptions often comes next. Usually while I’m doing it, plot ideas will come tumbling unbidden but quite welcome.

Because I have other work I do for folks, sometimes it takes a while to get started on a new book. I am hoping for the best. I really, really want to get back to writing.

Marilyn

COMING UP DRY

It’s time for me to write a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, or at least I think it is. I thought I’d finished the series when I wrote End of the Trail, but then I got the bright idea for The Trash Harem. I was pleased to see a photo of a Facebook friend reading it while on the beach in Hawaii. The caption said she always took my latest Tempe book with her on vacation.  Well, if I don’t write one, she won’t have one next year.

I enjoy being with Tempe, but I haven’t any ideas for a great story for her. I was desperate enough to explain this dilemma on my Facebook page. Many of my friends gave me ideas—some pretty good—but nothing that really made me want to get busy jotting down notes.

In mid-July I’m headed to the Public Safety Writers Association’s annual conference. I’m hoping listening to the speakers and the panelists will give me some ideas. Most of the participants are great story tellers.

Truly, I’ve never had this problem before. And no, it’s not writers’ block because I’ve been doing plenty of writing, just not the fiction kind. Maybe all that extra brain and computer time has taken away my incentive for spinning a tale around my now retired deputy, Tempe Crabtree. I hope that’s all it is, and when my life calms down a bit, my imagination will be ready to give Tempe a grand adventure.

Anyone else have their imagination go dry? If so, what did you do to pump the well?

Marilyn