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

Fun and Learning Something New

A lot has been going on in my life this past month. We have a gigantic fire in the mountains above our foothill home, called the Sequoia Complex Fire, and at this moment we are still on voluntary evacuation alert. The smoke is horrendous.

We had a huge family celebration for my husband’s 90th birthday despite the Covid virus. Nearly 50 relatives attended our four living children, many grands and great grands, and four great-greats, plus in-laws. It was a wonderful party. Some of the relatives came a day early and others stayed a day later. Enough time has gone by that we know no one got sick from attending.

I’ve been working on my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery and since it’s set in real time, I didn’t see how I could write this one without including the virus. In some ways it’s been fun because I can use all the different views people have about the Covid 19. I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to my police officer grandson, and he shared some of what he has to do now because of the virus. He was most helpful.

But I really want to share something else. I’m reading a novel, not a mystery, which has more backstory, mostly in narrative, than what is happening “now.” I’ve never read a book quite like this before. What it is doing though is really building each character and showing why each one is like she or she are now.

I don’t think I would ever write like this author has, but for this story it is certainly working. It did make me think though how I could give a little more background to some of my on-going characters for people who haven’t followed my series from the beginning.

Isn’t it amazing how we can find-out new ways of doing things from how other authors? Plus, no matter how old we are, we can always learn something new.

Marilyn