It’s a pleasure to welcome Marilyn Meredith, a longtime friend from California. We both belonged to San Joaquin Sisters in Crime, headquartered in Fresno. The old snapshot here shows just how far back we go!
Taken at a meeting in Fresno, we are, from left, Marilyn Meredith; Victoria Heckman of Los Osos, CA and author of the K.O.’d in Hawaii Mystery Series; Jo Anne Lucas of Clovis, CA and immediate past president of San Joaquin Sisters in Crime; Lorie Ham of Reedly, CA. and author of the Alexandra Walters Mystery Series; and Pat Browning, then of Hanford, CA., who is still working on her second book … and working … and fidgeting … and pondering … and working … and out of excuses …
Other photos: Arnold “Hap” and Marilyn Meredith at the EpiCon conference in Oklahoma City, 2004; Hap, the cute sailor Marilyn met and married so long ago; Marilyn at the book signing table, Left Coast Crime-Monterey, 2004
Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 30 published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest being Bears With Us from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Angel Lost. NO BELLS is a Rocky Bluff P.D. novel focusing on Officer Gordon Butler whose new love is the prime suspect in a murder case.
Marilyn is a member of EPIC (Electronically Published Internet Connection), three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. She is also on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America.
Marilyn and her husband Arnold–known as Hap to their friends—met on a blind date 60 years ago. “He was a cute sailor from the Port Hueneme Seabee base and I was a high school senior in Eagle Rock,” she recalls. “Three of my friends met me with their dates, also servicemen, and we all took the streetcar to Chinatown in downtownLos Angeles, where we ate, danced and got acquainted.
A few months later, Marilyn and Hap were married. Marilyn picks up the story:
(Quote) We lived inOxnard(California) for over 20 years, where I had four of my five children and my husband served in the Seabees, going to Vietnam three times during that war. I PTA’d, edited the PTA newsletter, served as a Camp Fire leader, wrote plays the kids starred in, went to college at night, taught for ten years in a school for three- to eight-year-olds with development disabilities, and wrote two historical family sagas.
One was about my father’s family, who came to Springville (inCentral California’s Sierra Foothills) in the early 1850s. Researching, we visited Springville. My husband didn’t like how big Oxnard was getting and wanted to move. The only place I would agree to was Springville. The house we wanted on the river was too expensive, but the people who owned it were in the residential care business. One thing led to another, and we jumped through all the necessary hoops, moved to our home on the TuleRiver, and started a new career. The residential care business was very compatible with my writing, as the women we shared our home with went to work every weekday, leaving me time to write.
We recently retired from the residential care business, and for the first time in 17 years we’re both free to travel together. He’s been having as much fun as I have. You should have seen him demonstrating how to read books on the Rocket eReader at the Hard Shell publishing table in the booksellers area at Bouchercon! (End Quote)
Marilyn makes good use of California locations in her books. LINGERING SPIRIT, a romance with the touch of the supernatural, now both in paper and on Kindle, begins and ends in beach town much like Oxnard, and the middle is in a mountain community with a resemblance to El DoradoCounty. All of the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, including the latest, NO BELLS, are set in a fictional beach community located between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
All of Marilyn’s Deputy Tempe Crabtree books, including the latest, BEARS WITH US, bear a striking resemblance to the foothill community where Marilyn lives now, which includes the nearby Tule River Indian Reservation.
About her Rocky Bluff series, written as F.M. Meredith, she says: “I became interested in writing about law enforcement when my son-in-law was a police officer and over coffee told me all about his adventures. He also took me on a ride-along and I was hooked. I belong to the Public Safety Writers Association and have many friends in law enforcement.”
Time now for some Q and A:
Pat: Marilyn, you have a full calendar. This past year you’ve given presentations in various places in Central and Southern California including a Readers Club, a Historical Society, a couple of libraries, two colleges, and you’ve traveled to Sedona AZ to give talks at the library and the Well Red Coyote Book Store. Then there’s the Public Safety Writers Association’s conference inLas Vegas and the Killer Nashville Conference, the Cuesta College Writers Conference inSan Luis Obispo as well as the Central Coast Book Fair. And I hear you also went to Epicon inSan Antonio and Left Coast Crime inSacramento this year. Good times aside, why so many conferences and conventions?
Marilyn: I began going to writing conferences to learn–and learn I did, plus I increased my circle of friends. At a writers’ conference, everyone understands what you do and what is important to you. Once I got published, I looked for opportunities to be a speaker at conferences, where I could acquaint people with my books and gain new readers.
Mystery conventions are a bit different, though I have learned some from them, the main point, I think is to meet readers and promote your books. (And yes, they are fun too.)
I also found a critique group, and still belong to it after 30 years. I learned more from the group than from any class or book.
Pat: Can you tell us a little more about your critique group?
Marilyn: My critique group at the moment consists of six people: a retired high school English teacher who has published two books, a woman who recently published a memoir, 2 young teachers, and one has published several children’s books and does a regular column in the newspaper, and one man who keeps us straight on male subjects. The group has changed over the years as people have come and gone, but all have been helpful. I think of them as my first editor.
Pat: Your books have been e-published since the beginning and now most are available on Kindle. How did you get started with e-publishing?
Marilyn: My first dealing with an e-publisher happened by accident. I submitted a book to a publisher I found through the Writers Market and I didn’t know he was an e-publisher until he sent me a contract. I thought, “Why not?” He was a bit before his time, and before hand-held readers. He eventually went out of business.
My second e-publisher also bit the dust. But then others came into the field with a little more knowledge about formatting the books for the new e-readers, and how to publicize them. And now, of course, nearly everyone is savvy about e-pubs and e-readers.
Pat: What practical advice would you give someone who is just starting to write a mystery novel?
Marilyn: Develop your characters. Decide who to kill, and why they should die. Find several people with the motive and opportunity, and get started. Don’t be surprised if the killer is someone you didn’t suspect.
Pat: Do you have a writing schedule? A home office? What are your thoughts on the writing life?
Marilyn: I have a home office, and I do some form of writing every day. If I wrote for the money, I’d have quit long ago. I write because I have to. The story pops into my head and I have to put it down on paper. There are many perks to writing besides money–the people you meet, both readers and other writers.
Pat: Any closing thoughts?
Marilyn: I think the writing community is probably the most supportive of any that I’ve been a part of–which is amazing, since essentially we’re more or less in competition with one another. I don’t know any other business where the competition is so helpful and in many cases, actually loving.
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Books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime series by F.M. Meredith
No Bells, Angel Lost, An Axe to Grind, No Sanctuary, Smell of Death, Fringe Benefits, Bad Tidings, Final Respects
No Bells Blurb:
Officer Gordon Butler has finally found the love he’s been seeking for a long time, but there’s one big problem, she’s the major suspect in a murder case.
F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels—and a few that will never see print. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is No Bells. Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional beach community betweenVentura andSanta Barbara and F. M. once lived in a similar beach area.
F. M. (Marilyn) is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves as the program chair for the Public Safety Writers of America’s writing conference. She’s been an instructor at many writing conferences.
CONTEST NOTE FROM MARILYN: The person who comments on the most blogs on my tour will win three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series: No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost. Be sure and leave your email too, so I can contact you.