Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Is Almost Here!

You’re probably in a rush of baking, shopping, and either traveling to homes of relatives or getting your home ready for company. Breathe deeply.  Do something for yourself. Order a book that will take you away from the holiday hubbub. If you order it now, you’ll have it as you clean up (or procrastinate from cleaning up) after the first onslaught of the holidays.

Here’s your escape plan: The Flu Is Coming.

In The Flu Is Coming, a new type of flu — the Philippine flu — kills nearly half of the residents in an upscale, gated community near Albuquerque in less than a week. Those who survive become virtual prisoners in their homes when a quarantine is imposed.

The Centers of Disease Control recruits Sara Almquist, a resident of the community and a scientist, to apply her skills as an epidemiologist to find ways to limit the spread of the epidemic. As she pries into her neighbors’ lives, she finds promising scientific clues. Unfortunately, she also learns too much about several of them and violence ensues when several try to escape the quarantine.

Available in print and ebook at:

Try to relax and have a happy holiday!

If you doubt you’ll have time to read a medical thriller, try short stories (4 -10 pages each). The characters in Other People’s Mothers may remind you of your relatives or make you appreciate your more. 

Available in print and ebook at: 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Books are easy to wrap and ship. They aren't perishable or fattening. You don't need to guess at sizes. Why not give books as gifts during this holiday season?

She can enjoy a mystery and guess whether an ambitious young doctor or old-timers with buried secrets killed the "diet doctor" in Murder...A Way to Lose Weight. And she'll learn about recent scientific research linking body weight and gut bacteria.
Kindle & paperback at:
1st prize in the 2016 Public Safety Writers’ Association contest and finalist for a 2016 NM/Arizona Book Award.

He can race to solve the mystery faster than police in Riddled with Clues as he interprets riddled messages from homeless veterans. He also will learn a bit of history. The scenes in Laos during the Vietnam War are based on the memories of a New Mexico veteran who was a medic. 
Kindle & paperback at:
Finalist for a 2017 NM/Arizona Book Award.

They'll want to know whether a woman was killed to hide the secrets of polluters and an environmental test lab in She Didn’t Know Her Place?
Kindle &  paperback at:

May be they'll enjoy short (4-10 pages) stories at bedtime and gain an better appreciation of their parents and grandparents. 
Kindle & paperback at:

While you're shopping for everyone else, why not get one or two books for yourself?

Friday, October 26, 2018


You're in for a treat. Marilyn Meredith, author more than thirty mystery novels, is giving tips on how to develop interesting characters today. Her newest mystery is Tangled Webs. Enjoy.

Marilyn Meredith's comments: How do I develop my characters? I’ll describe my process, which I admit has changed through the years. At one time, I kept a notebook with pages about each character, I no longer do that.

Because I’m writing a series, the main characters are pretty much set at least in the way they look and often act. However, because this is a long ongoing series, of course each one has matured, and in some cases made some drastic changes.

Probably the one who has changed the most is Ryan Strickland. His marriage and the birth of a daughter with Down syndrome truly affected him.  And then there’s Gordon Butler, popular with readers, whose life has become far less traumatic. 

Two of the newer characters in the series are the RBPD Police Chief, Chandra Butler, and the mayor, Devon Duvall. They’ve begun a romance, a romance that might not happen thanks to some surprising news. Though I know a lot about these two, there is much more to be explored.

Two teens play an important part in this latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, one is Detective Milligan’s daughter, Beth, and the other, her new friend, Kayla. Fortunately, I have a good memory of what it’s like during those teen years and I have enough friends and relatives who are still in that age group if I need to ask any questions. 

No matter what character I’m writing about, I try to get inside their head, see what they are seeing and how they see it, how any new events affect them considering what has gone in their lives. 

What new characters arrive on the scene, I jot down important information about them in a notebook I keep beside my computer where I keep other notes about the book I’m writing. 

In the case of all my characters, I see them as real persons. I know what they think, how they will react in certain situations, and how they view their world.  And that’s the way I develop my characters.
Marilyn who writes this series as F. M. Meredith

Blurb for Tangled Webs: Too many people are telling lies: The husband of the murder victim and his secretary, the victim’s co-workers in the day care center, her stalker, and Detective Milligan’s daughter. 


I apologize to Marilyn and the readers but I can't get the comments section to work.

Monday, October 22, 2018


I doubt many novels have been written in which characters didn’t interact (actually or virtually) with other people or animals. Think about it. Relationships, not really appearances or jobs, make characters interesting to readers.

I looked at dozens of columns written by psychologists, experts on managing stress in the workplace, and writers of columns to the “lovelorn.” In essence, they mentioned three key issues central to all relationships. You can add depth to characters in your novels by showing their relationships in terms of these parameters. 

1) Communications
A sympathetic protagonist listens patiently to others. He/she communicates through actions as well as orally. 

Characters not interested in a relationship interrupt, raise their voice, doodle, look at their watch, or pick at their nails when others are talking. They nag their cohorts. These are good traits for villains.

In Murder...A Way to Lose Weight, Abel Raines never really listens to Richard Varegos. He's always busy cleaning his office or doodling. That's how I hint the two colleagues (who are both faulty members at the university hospital and apparent confidants) might not be friends. While the main question in Murder...A Way to Lose Weight is who killed the diet doctor? One of the subplots in this mystery is: what do these two men have in common, besides work? Can they trust each other?

2) Goals 

Allies or lovers, who have no shared goals, are not realistic partners on a long–term basis. The dissolution of shared goals (divorce, business failure, or war) is the basis of strong plots. If one of your character steamrolls the rights of others to attain a shared goal, you have created a villain.

3) Struggle for control
This is universal to all relationships. If you doubt the statement, think about raising children or training a dog. These struggles, when mainly petty bickering, can add humor to fiction or can foreshadow a crisis. 

In She Didn't Know Her Place, the heroine, Dana Richardson, doesn't share the same goals as many of her colleagues at State U. Yes, she wants the university to enlarge its research portfolio but not at the cost of all ethics. She also wants to discover who killed Sally Stein. Most of her colleagues don't care. 

Think of your favorite fictional characters. How do they interact with others? Now think of your neighbors. Which are your favorites? Do they interact with others in a manner similar to the way your favorite characters interact with others?

Friday, March 30, 2018


If you love historical mysteries, you're going to love my guest author. This retired newspaperman - John Lindermuth - can really write a good yarn. His location is in rural Pennsylvania but it feels like a "western" set in a greener setting. I let you tell the story about his new book - The Bartered Body.

Equally with real estate, the phrase can be applied to story. Every story needs a location in which to take place and, in some instances, it can be is as important as characters or plot.
One can choose an actual place as setting for a story, thought the writer runs the risk of being called out for errors by others more familiar with the location. A reader can be jarred out of a story should your character drive the wrong way on a one-way street or dine at a restaurant not on the block where you place it.

I've written stories set in actual locations and--so far--have not had the unpleasant experience of being challenged on my descriptions of the setting.

But I think it's much more fun and challenging to create your own little slice of the world. 
I created the town of Arahpot in Jordan County (both are fictional) and set them down in my neck of Pennsylvania as the location for the novels in the Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series. Some readers in my region may recognize aspects of the place. Yet they won't find the town or county on any maps.

Actually, I'd created Arahpot for an earlier book (Watch The Hour). The town happened to have a lawman named Tilghman, so it was convenient to borrow the place and have Syl be that man's son.
Arahpot sits on an elevated terrace between two forks of a creek of the same name. It's a rural community, the economy equally dependent on agricultural and coal mining. I've become quite familiar with the place as I name its streets, create its business places and the home of the principal characters. Occasionally my characters will journey to Shannon, the county seat, or Masonville, a neighboring village (both as fictional as Arahpot).

There are now three novels in the series: Fallen From Grace, Sooner Than Gold and The Bartered Body.

Here's a blurb for The Bartered BodyWhy would thieves steal the body of a dead woman?
That’s the most challenging question yet to be faced by Sylvester Tilghman, the third of his family to serve as sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, in the waning days of the 19th century.
And it’s not just any body but that of Mrs. Arbuckle, Nathan Zimmerman’s late mother-in-law. Zimmerman is burgess of Arahpot and Tilghman’s boss, which puts more than a little pressure on the sheriff to solve the crime in a hurry.

Syl’s investigation is complicated by the arrival in town of a former flame who threatens his relationship with his sweetheart Lydia Longlow; clashes with his old enemy, former burgess McLean Ruppenthal; a string of armed robberies, and a record snowstorm that shuts down train traffic, cuts off telegraph service and freezes cattle in the fields.
It will take all of Syl’s skills and the help of his deputy and friends to untangle the various threads and bring the criminals to justice.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Do most books fit into literary genres?

Publishers think genres are a way of classifying fiction in order to target marketing of books to receptive audiences. Fine. What if a book or a collection of stories fits into more than one genre?

So-called literary experts say “genre fiction” (as opposed to literary fiction) is plot-driven. That bothers me. I thought the plot was pretty important in The Sun Also Rises, although perhaps not as much as the characters, and I’m pretty sure it’s an example of literary fiction. Oh well. Let’s not argue that point.

Let’s try to  classify The Good Old Days? The short stories in this collection occur in the past, ie. 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. I guess that means the stories are historical fiction. 

However, the stories are based on familiestheir thrilling escapes from war, their secrets which mystify current generation, and their romances. So, the some of the stories are plot-driven romances, mysteries, and thrillers. Other stories are character-driven and resemble literary fiction. 

But wait, these stories might be called memoirs (a form of nonfiction)—most of the stories are snapshots of real events and have the idiosyncratic tone of memoirsI interviewed dozens of people about their childhoods to get ideas, but I turned my notes into fiction as I added plots, developed characters, and changed details. 

By now, you’re bored with this literary discussion. Please note I was much briefer than most writers as they debated the differences between narrative memoirs and historical fiction. Gee, I hate trying to fit into a box defined by someone else.

Blurbs don’t really work for short story collections. So, I included the first page of one of the short stores.

I Still Want…
“I still want a hula hoop.” The chipmunks—Alvin, Simon, and Theodore—screeched slightly out of harmony on the Saturday morning cartoon show. There were lots of things I still wanted, too: the winter to end, Mom to get well, and anyone to talk to me.
When I was eight, neither of my parents spoke much to me. They avoided me, except at suppertime. Then Mom stared at the black cat clock, with its red eyes rolling back and forth and its tail swinging, while Dad and I silently ate supper. When I put down my fork, Mom sent me outside in warm weather and to my bedroom in winter. Dad seldom protested her decision. He only hung his head.
As soon as I exited the kitchen, Mom usually screamed or cried, often both, as Dad droned on about what the doctor said and how she should eat more, stop smoking, drink less, and get out more. I agreed with Mom. Dad’s litany was boring. Anyway, most nights after about an hour of hysterics, he went out to the garage to tinker on his carpentry projects.
For about fifteen minutes after his departure, Mom slammed doors in the kitchen before she shuffled to the bathroom. The next ten minutes were the most important of the evening to me. If I managed to open my bedroom door, slide down the hall to the kitchen, and sneak through the living room to the garage while she was in the shower, I was free…

Other stories in the collection include: Smell of Fear, The Bronx Revisited, I Look Like Papa, and Dirty Dave. All have bits of humor and make you think. You may recognize your relatives or neighbors in these stories.

To read the rest of the story: