Resolutions for 2020

2020 Happy New Year

I just wanted to write 2020. I can’t believe that amazing year is almost upon us. Frankly, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, never have and not going to start now.

However, I do have some plan in place for the coming year—some are on my calendar already, others are what I’m hoping to do.

I am signed up for the PSWA conference in July, I haven’t missed one since I began as program chairman years ago—thankfully someone quite capable took my place a few years ago. If you’re interested, go to and check it out. It’s a great conference for mystery writers. You get to hear from and mingle with law enforcement and other public safety experts, and you can share your writing expertise by serving on a panel if you so desire. The early bird registration fee runs out at the end of December 31.

I have my regular writing meetings to attend: my weekly critique group, the Tulare Kings Writers and the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime monthly meetings. Hopefully I’ll make it over to the Central Coast Sisters in Crime meetings a couple of times.

I hope to finish and get my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery finished, edited and published, and have plans to write the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. (Ideas are churning around in my head.) And of course, I’ll have to make plans for promoting both.

I’m planning a panel with two other writers to give at our local library, it’ll be called “Ask the Author.”

Hopefully, I’ll be participating in various book and craft fairs throughout the year.

That’s what comes to mind at the moment. I’m sure some of the more organized writers who participate on this blog have far more to report about their plans for the coming year.

No matter what comes up, whatever I do, I’ll enjoy every minute of it. Writing is my passion, meeting readers and writers is something I love.

And now, I’ll wish you all a wonderful New Year.





A Bit of This and That

person picking food on tray
Photo by Craig Adderley on

Thanksgiving is upon us, the time to reflect on all we have to be thankful. I have so much: a wonderfully big family, a loving husband, and a long life full of memories. And a biggie for what is happening on Thursday—I do not have to cook. My grandson who lives in the mountains has invited all of us to his house for dinner. After years and years of being the main Thanksgiving feast cook, I am truly grateful!

Of course I’m thankful for my writing career—though I’ve never become famous or a best seller, I have loyal fans for both my series and have had a great time writing, The creation of two different worlds with interesting characters has keep me busy.

With my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, I’ve created a small beach town that seems very real to me, as well as the people who inhabit it—members of the police department, their loved ones, and the members of the community, and of course the villains and the victims.

Of course there’s the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series mainly set in a mountain community much like the one I’m living in now though I’ve made some major changes. I’ve grown to love Tempe and her husband, Hutch. I’m always eager to see what’s going to happen with them next.

However, as I’m writing the latest, which will be #18, I realize that Tempe is reaching retirement age, is it time to end the series? I’m going to have to make a decision about that. Maybe it’s time to move on, perhaps write a stand-alone. I don’t know.

Something else being a writer has done for me is being able to share what I know with other writers. I’ve been able to do that at writers’ conferences and conventions, in smaller groups and one-on-one. I’ve also enjoyed being a speaker at various venues, especially when I can make people laugh.

Over all, I have so much to be thankful for.

Marilyn Meredith who also writes as F.M. Meredith

Latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series:

Bones in the Attic

Buy link for Bones in the Attic: 

Latest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series;

Spirit Wind cover

Buy link for Spirit Wind:







A Free Kindle Book and Some Halloween Trivia



For Halloween I’m offering a free kindle book, Calling the Dead, one of the early Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries. It is free now through Halloween.

In Calling the Dead, Deputy Tempe Crabtree is challenged by a death that looks like suicide and a suicide that looks like murder and putting her job on the line when she investigates both on her on time, and jeopardizes her marriage to her pastor husband when she uses Native American ways to call back the dead.

orange and white squash
Photo by Tim Mossholder on

Now for some fun trivia about Halloween:

  1. Halloween originated in Ireland
  2. A pumpkin is a fruit.
  3. The round orange pumpkin is a native to North America
  4. The first individually wrapped candies were Tootsie Rolls.
  5. Alabama doesn’t allow Halloween celebrants to dress up like priests or nuns.
  6. In 2020, there will be a full moon on Halloween night.
  7. In 2017 the most popular Halloween candy was Kit Kats.
  8. Jack O Lanterns were first made out of turnips.
  9. To protect yourself on Halloween you should carry salt in your pocket.
  10. Male witches are called Warlocks.
  11. The word witch comes from the Old English meaning Wise Woman.
  12. Trick or treating evolved from the Celtic culture.
  13. If a person wears his or her clothes inside out and walks backward on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.

A bit more about my free Kindle book offer of Calling the Dead.

I did not use BookBub to promote—two reasons, it wouldn’t have been accepted because of not enough reviews, though what I do have are great, and I can’t afford a BookBub promotion.

What I did do is pay for some much less expensive advertising through places that promote free-e-books. And of course I’ll do my own promoting on Facebook, Twitter, and the various Facebook groups I belong to.

And you may ask, what is the motive for giving away copies of the Kindle version of the book? Hopefully, readers will like it and buy others in the series. Calling the Dead seemed like the perfect tale to offer for Halloween.





Boo! Just in Time for Halloween

Bones in the Attic

Though I’ve written several scary novels, some more horror than anything, Bones in the Attic, my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery is the first that focuses on Halloween.

When I first started writing it, I wasn’t thinking about it being a Halloween book, but it definitely is, but not in the way you might think.

For those of you who have read any of the RBPD mysteries know that a lot of every book is about family issues, and this one is no different. It begins with Detective Milligan’s daughter Beth and her high school art club decorating an abandoned house for Halloween. They intend to make money for their club by selling tickets to their Haunted House.

When one of the members decides to explore the old house and finds a skeleton in a trunk in the attic, their plans are doomed. Or are they?

Of course the majority of the book focuses on the RBPD trying to find out who the bones belong to, and why were they in a trunk?

As always, there is more about what is happening with the various families of the police department:  There is an issue with Sergeant Abel Navarro’s widowed father, more about Sergeant Strickland’s daughter with Down syndrome, the romance between Police Chief Tucker and Mayor Devon Duvall, and a crisis with the mayor’s daughter.

And, to make it even more intriguing, there is a bit threat to all of the beach community of Rocky Bluff.

I hope some of you will try it out! Though it is a series, each book is complete when it comes to the mystery.

Buy link:

Marilyn who writes this series as F. M. Meredith





Between a Rock and a Hard Place or…

I could have written standing at a crossroad. “So what is the problem”, you ask?

I’ve sent my next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery off to the publisher, hoping for a before Halloween release. (I had it edited professionally.) Publisher sounded willing, but haven’t heard any more from him. I would like to set up some promotion, including a blog tour, but I really need more reassurance about when (and if) there actually will be a book.

Anyone who knows my history as a published writer, knows that I’ve had to climb over many stumbling blocks over the years. (I’m having fun with all these cliches.)

To understand why I said the title of this post could be standing at a crossroad is that I also need to be writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I have a title, the main setting, some of the new characters, and some great ideas about how this one should go.

The problem with this is for some reason, I can’t seem to get moving on it. I’ve jotted some notes, even written the first paragraph. However, I already want to change it.

My advice to self is open up the document and get started.  And yes, that’s what I should do but life keeps getting in the way. Because hubby and I are getting older, there are doc appointments. Shopping for food seems to be a biggie too. And I guess the real problem is I don’t have the energy and drive I once had.

Before you think I’m complaining too much, believe me, I know how blessed I am to still have my husband and my health. I’m also thankful that I still like to cook. And most of all, I’m grateful that I still have the ability to write.

Okay, that’s it. I’m going to get with it and see what Tempe is up to now.







Do You Ever Use Real People in Your Mysteries?

Do You Ever Use Real People in your Mysteries?

The reason I’m asking, I’m contemplating doing exactly that in my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

Oh, I’ve based characters on people I know or have known and made enough changes the person would never recognize him or herself.

I’ve used real crimes I’ve read about in the newspapers or someone has told me about, and changed the people and the situations enough that no one ever said they knew where my plot came from.

Once, at the request of a friend, I put her into one of my mysteries, described her as she is, and included her dogs and cat. The only thing I changed was her name. She loved it, and her friends all recognized her.  I even included her in another book because she asked.

As the result of contests, I’ve used the names of real people, but the descriptions and personalities came out of my imagination to fit the book I was writing.

In the next Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, (which I just sent off to the publisher) I used two real situations I knew about in the plot, but changed both radically.

Recently, I met the strangest group of people in an even stranger situation. I don’t want to say any more because I truly want to use them in the next book I’m planning. In order to make it not obvious what I’m doing, of course the names and descriptions will be much different than they are, as will be the setting.

I’m not sure I can pull this off—but the big thing I have going for me is I know none of them read my books.

I’m eager to hear what my fellow authors have to share. And readers,  have you ever recognized a real person or situation in a mystery you were reading?

Marilyn, whose latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is Spirit Wind.

Spirit Wind cover

Blurb for Spirit Wind: A call from a ghost hunter changes Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s vacation plans. Instead of going to the coast, she and her husband are headed to Tehachapi to investigate a haunted house and are confronted by voices on the wind, a murder, and someone out to get them.

Buy link:



The Highlights of June by Marilyn Meredith

As far as my writing life is concerned, the month of June has been most exciting.

Because I’m still promoting my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Seldom Traveled, I’ve been a guest on several blogs—which of course means promoting those blogs.

My first book signing was a success mainly because I picked a popular chocolate shop in a nearby city. (We don’t have any bookstores nearby). When I first got there, a local video reporter stopped by to interview me and later in the day a reporter from the newspaper stopped by. Besides readers, a group of my family members also stopped by.

Next up came a book signing at the Tehachapi Museum, located in the town where Seldom Traveled is set. Tehachapi is about a 2 ½ hour drive from my home. I was thrilled they invited me to come.

And I have a final signing at the end of this month set at a local coffee shop in the community where I live.

As part of my ongoing promotion, I offered the first book in the series, Deadly Omen, free on Kindle for five days. Over 1,600 copies were downloaded which I feel was quite successful. Of course now the hope is that after reading Deadly Omen other books in the series will be ordered. This seems to be happening, slowly, but it is happening.

While all this is going on, I’ve been working on the latest mystery in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, as yet unnamed.

Also, I belong to a small writers group that meets once a month. I’m not always able to attend, but this month’s meeting was absolutely delightful. We all shared what motivates us to keep on writing and where we do our writing. Everyone had such different ways of doing things.

However, my life is not all about writing. I have a big family and I enjoy spending with them. I think it’s important that writers take time off from all the business of writing and promotion to enjoy life. The great-grands that share out home and their parents, keep me busy and entertained.

To the other writers out there, what is your favorite get-away from writing?



Lately, that’s been my writing life, good stuff and not so good.

My long-time publisher for my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series has closed its doors. I asked for and received my rights back for the series and the covers. Because the cover had been designed for the latest book and new designs done for some of the older books, I was pleased.

So what to do next? I decided the best route to take with the series was self-publishing, though I didn’t really feel up to the task. One of my friends, an expert at self-publishing, is taking on this huge job. I say huge because there are 17 books in this series.

The latest book, Spirit Wind, is now published and available in print and on Kindle.

The first batch of the printed books didn’t have the appropriate headers—so I’ve used most of them as review copies—and sold some at a big discount.

A few of the other books in the series have been done, but the old publisher’s copies are still the ones upfront and available. So far, we’ve been unsuccessful at getting them taken down or at least the latest ones the first to show up.

I’d like to do a .99 cent deal for one of the series, but that will have to wait until some of the problems are fixed.

How am I feeling about all this? I’m happy the latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is now available. Though a bit frustrated about some of the other problems, I’m not going to lose sleep over them. One thing I’ve learned over the years, the author’s path is never smooth. I’ve had crooked publishers, and publishers who were friends die. This happened with the first publisher of this series.

I’m going to book fairs (I have plenty of books to sell) and giving talks to writers groups and others. The promotion goes on. And I’m working on a book in my other series.

One thing I can assure you, I’m never bored. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

The official blurb for Spirit Wind: A call from a ghost hunter changes Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s vacation plans. Instead of going to the coast, she and her husband are headed to Tehachapi to  investigate a haunted house and are confronted by voices on the wind, a murder, and someone out to get them.


Getting the Details Right


Recently I was asked to be a speaker at a writers’ conference—the topic being character and setting description. The chairperson titled it “Getting the Details Right.” Because I have messed up on the details in a few of my books, this is the perfect topic for me.

First off, two of the biggest mistakes I’ve made:

  1. Changing the type of car someone drives. In my first Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, the car changed from a Blazer to a Bronco several times.
  2. Names of people—giving new characters in a story more than one name.
  3. Leaving out an important day of the week in a book that moved day to day through the week. (I fixed that before it got published.)

What I’ve seen in other people’s books:

  1. Giving a Japanese character a Chinese last name.
  2. Putting in details about a real city that are totally wrong. (And this is why I created my own cities even though they have a resemblance to a real place.)
  3. Setting a story in a fictional mid-west town with the wrong kind of geography and kinds of trees.
  4. Having too much happen in a much too small amount of time.
  5. Changing an important piece of description of a main character such as eye color

Let’s start with setting. I love books that clearly describe the places where the action takes place inside and out and also includes the weather (because this can be an important part of the plot), and different smells (which also can be an important part of the plot, or merely a means to evoke another sense of what the setting is like).

With characters we don’t need to know every detail of a person’s look, but enough to create a picture of the person in the reader’s mind. Along with the outward appearance, the personality is even more important. What in the person’s background would make someone do certain actions? Think about triggers to behaviors and motivations.

All of this is important, but to make sure not to get things wrong as I and many other authors have done, some means of keeping track of all these details needs to be used. Authors do this in many different ways from simply keeping written notes or an elaborate computer system. This is even more important for those of us who write series.

Anyone want to share how they keep track of the details? Or a mistake you’ve found in a book you’ve read


P.S. Though it’s been fixed now, I mixed up some character’s names in my last Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery. No one noticed ahead of time–my critique group, the editor I sent it too first, or the publisher who thought it was my best book in the series.


Yep, this is the one.




Oh, My Goodness, What We Authors Do for Promotion


After all the work we’ve put into our latest mystery, we’d certainly like to have people read it. At least that’s my hope. In order for that to happen, we have to figure out ways to get the word out. And sometimes we have to keep at it in order to try and reach more readers.

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, Tangled Webs, made its debut last fall, but so far I only have 4 reviews, good ones, but it would be nice to have a few more. My publisher agreed to make the Kindle version only .99cents for four days, the last day for this bargain is today, January 28th.  If you want to take advantage of it, here’s the link:

In order for people to learn about this price I had to do a great deal of promotion—I found sites that promote .99 cent books and filled in all the blanks and paid the fees. I also wrote blog posts about it, promoted on Facebook and Twitter. Besides hoping to get people to read the book and maybe write a review, of course there’s also the possibility that they may read some of the other books in the series.

Besides all that, and believe me it takes time away from writing which is what I’d prefer to be doing, my calendar is filling with in-person events, places where I plan to have my books for sale. A few are close to home, but others are places where I’ll have to stay over one or two nights. And no, I’ll probably not sell enough books to pay for the trip. (I have to confess though, I really enjoy these occasions, getting to see old friends, fans, and meeting new folks.)

But that’s not the point, as I said in the first paragraph, what I really want is for people to read my books and that’s why I’m doing all these things

All right, fellow writers, I’d like to hear you chime in on this subject.

Marilyn who writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series as F.M. Meredith