Monday, February 27, 2012

Planning Blog Tour for No Bells

My blog tour for No Bells,  the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, is set and ready to go.

I found blogs willing to host me and wrote whatever they asked for, topics in some cases, in others interview questions to answer. I sent a short blurb about the book and a bio about me. Of course I sent a .jpg of the cover. I sent different .jpgs of me--several are with me at a book event and a couple are with other authors.

I'm hoping some of you will follow me on my tour.


CONTEST: 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.


April 7  Click on "guest author blog." 

May 1 Mike Angley (to be announced.)

During part of this tour I'll also be participating in another one, more about that one later.

Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can handle.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stereotypes in Writing

I am guest blogging at another site today about stereotypes in writing. Something I didn't mention in the guest blog is how I came to arrive at this topic, and it ain't really pretty.

I received a review for Gumbo Justice a long time ago (maybe 2009, possibly 2010) from a writer/reviewer who didn't say anything too good about the novel, but that I showed "promise" as a writer. A backhanded compliment for sure, but with this guy, I took it and ran with it.

One of his complaints was that he felt my protagonist was cliche. Ryan, at that time in life, was a hard drinking, competitive, chain-smoking prosecutor, trying to fight demons from the past by getting drunk and taking attention where she could get it, all the while trying to stomp on the other prosecutors on the climb to the top.

The reviewer thought she had been written before, like all the MEN who have been written the same way.

Right there I was kind of thrown. Maybe some of her personality would be cliche for a male prosecutor, but the very fact that she's a SHE makes it a completely different dance party. I was a female prosecutor. We had more than one male assistant district attorney climbing his way to the top, drinking too much (although most of them didn't smoke), wearing their promiscuity like a badge of honor (even the married ones. Or maybe, especially the married ones.)

We didn't have female prosecutors like that. The women were less interested in getting promotions than they were in getting engaged. While most of the men were thinking of getting better jobs after their 3 year commitment, the women were mostly thinking if they would be able to quit work or find jobs working less hours so they could start having families.

There were no women trying to fast track it to the top, no females who cared enough to compete with the boys in their own territory. Sure, a few of them would drink with the chief of trials after hours with the boy's club, even go to strip clubs with them occasionally, to stay in the loop and maybe get cut a break by not getting put in a section with one of the crazier judges, but it was more about survival than winning for the women.

Maybe it's a southern thing, but women down here are vastly different from men when it comes to life priorities. And that was why when I wrote Ryan as a female with what is perceived in our region as primarily male personality traits, I thought I had created a distinct and unique character.

No so much, according to the reviewer. He also didn't get Ryan's motivation for her bad behavior, which explains in part why he saw her as a cliche, and that is something I have to accept. If he didn't get it, he didn't get it, and maybe there was something I could have written differently to make him see the light. But then again, I can't please everybody, and really have no desire to. (I had one girl write that she couldn't finish the book because she was afraid she was going to throw her Kindle across the room and break it because she hated my protagonist so much. Of course, this girl did use little twinkly **asterisks** to highlight her every thought, so I took that one with a grain of salt. And I'm assuming Ryan must have been incredibly realistic to this girl if she actually drummed up enough hatred toward her to want to throw things. Kind of a compliment, actually, when you think about it.)

But I digress. So the idea of cliches has been in the back of my mind for a while. And now, this week, we have Mardi Gras. If ever a holiday has been presented as a cliche in books, television, and movies, it's poor misunderstood Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

So with those two thoughts floating around in my head, the logical topic for a guest blog was stereotypes. I'm not going to repeat here what I wrote on Terry's blog, but you can go there to read it if you like (and maybe leave a comment to let Terry know you were there), at If you're a writer, you also might want to consider looking at Terry's blog to request a guest blog spot- she does them on Tuesdays.

Stereotypes and cliches exist in real life, and often serve a purpose in writing. While I hope my main characters are not perceived by anyone else as stereotypes or cliches, the familiar does resonate with readers, and as I explain on Terry's blog, stock characters can sometimes serve a legitimate purpose.

Holli Castillo
Jambalaya Justice
Gumbo Justice
Coming in 2012- Chocolate City Justice

Sunday, February 19, 2012

“Hi. I’m Joe and I’m an … e-reader.”

Well, sometimes I’m an e-reader.

And, despite the headline here, I'm not calling for an E-Readers Anonymous group to be formed. But is a guilty apology necessary if one shifts, occasionally, from the paperback/hardcover format to the e-reader for book reading?

Well, maybe “guilty apology” is a bit dramatic. But with the plight of bookstores these days, I do feel a modicum of guilt at using one of the presents that Santa brought me this past Christmas.

But after almost two months of using the Barnes & Noble NOOK, there’s no hiding from the fact it brings a certain convenience.

For example, I’ve recently finished reading the last of the Parker series of mysteries written by the great Richard Stark (pseudonym for Donald Westlake). All 24 of them. The University of Chicago Press has done a great job with the re-issues, adding informative introductions by Terry Teachout and Lawrence Block, among others.

However, while I purchased hard copies of the Parker books for the first 21 in the series, the final three, for a reason no one has explained to me, are only available as fairly expensive out-of-print editions; unless one is lucky enough to find used copies. Alas, none of Boston’s excellent used book stores had them.

Yet, via NOOK, these last three Parkers were all available as e-books. So a click or two and there they are, delivered right to my desktop (NOOK-top?).

So I wondered if I should perform some act of private apology and buy something … anything … when I next visited my bookstore.

Then I looked around my residence. I’ve got the new Walter Mosley book. And next to it, is the recently purchased (and just-finished) copy of “Jambalaya Justice” by Oak Tree sister-in-crime. Holli Castillo. (And, by the way, Holli, it’s terrific!)

What else did I find? Other favorites were strewn about here and there. (I’m more Oscar Madison than Felix Unger, as you can tell.) James Lee Burke. Henry Chang. Hank Phillippi Ryan. Others.

So am I an e-reader? A book buyer? Or what?

The hell with it. I’m like the rest of you – I’m a reader. Like I’m a music lover. Maybe my vinyl record days are over but I still buy CDs at least—as well as download material here and there.

Do I feel guilty when I pay for and then download a couple of songs from iTunes? Nope.

But why am I kind of, sort of on-the-verge-of guilty if I download those Richard Starks—or something else—to my e-reader? And should I be?

As they say in college essay exams … discuss.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New blog post

I wrote up a few thoughts on the art of submitting today for my own blog. Check it out if you like. You might find it a little bit amusing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

OTP Blog Hijacked?

The two comments from my post yesterday are from “” and “buy term papers.” These are not human beings; they are websites that sell term papers. How did they get past the word ID test?  Maybe they have actual people who read blogs then comment using whatever company pays them to do so. There are a lot of people out of work. Maybe some are willing to sacrifice their personal integrity for a minimum wage job. Personally, I’d rather starve.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

LCC, interview and excerpt from Pot Thief #5

The new issue of Kings River Life magazine from Sacramento, site of the upcoming Left Coast Crime meeting, has an interview with me as part of their series leading up to the Conference. Lorie Lewis Ham is doing a great job publicizing LCC. I know Billie and the OTP authors who are attending will have a great time.

Lorie also posted an excerpt from, The Pot Thief Who Studied D. H. Lawrence. This is the first appearance anywhere of an excerpt from this 5th book in the Pot Thief series (the excerpt on my website is from an early draft; I have to take that down when I get a chance). Check it out: 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Conferences are great times

Just last weekend I was at Love is Murder conference in Chicago and had a great time and actually accomplished some terrific things. The biggest was getting a chance to talk with Billie Johnson, our beloved Oak Tree Publisher. Anytime I can talk about the book business, it is a great day. (I kept Billie up until the single digits in the morning.) The other bonus was meeting Jeana, who helped keep Billie alert on the drive. She is as nice in person as she is at getting us all the reviews, interviews and other gigs that she does.

Other highlights were the FBI agent who did a great presentation on cyber crime fighting and then was in the bar for several hours talking about his life and answering many of my questions and showing me his credentials which was huge for my current work in progress. The beauty is that the FBI rules prohibit him from accepting free drinks so for cash strapped writers, it was a double bonus. Mitch Malone will be fighting cyber crime soon and his FBI femme fatale will be on another mission. Actually the conference had a whole Forensic track that was filled with experts from coroners, to accountant specializing in finding hidden assets, fingerprint specialists, former undercover police officers and much more.

Billie has mentioned how much you can get out of conferences and for me, this one is relatively close to home, rooms were less than $100 per night, and it has some great names and contacts. I will never sell enough books at the conference to pay for my expenses but what I gain in knowledge and friendships is priceless.

Marilyn Meredith is working on the speakers for the Public Safety Writers Conference in Las Vegas and I’ve attended that one for the past three years and it has some great advice and wonderful people. I’ve gotten more than my monies worth in that one as well and lots of time talking with Billie there too.

Also on my calendar for this year is Bouchercon in Cleveland. This one features thousands of people and is drivable for me, a big expense saver. My first one was three years ago and I had no idea what to expect. My first book was only just out. Luckily I ran into Mike Black (an Oak Tree author now) who I had met at the Public Safety Writers Conference. He invited me to dinner and I met some great fellow authors and from there the conference was great.

Meeting Other Authors

During my years as an author, I've met so many wonderful authors. I've met them at book fairs and festivals, at writers conferences and mystery conventions. Many of them are OTP authors and many of them aren't.

I once had someone ask me why writers supported one another since we are essentially in competition. My answer, because we are also all readers and we are happy to see someone's success.

I met Mike Orenduff before few knew about his wonderful Pot Thief books. Now his series has become quite popular and he's won several awards for his various books. I've written reviews of his books because I love them--and he's done the same for me.

At the PSWA conference PSWA I've met even more OTP authors. I've also met other authors there who have become my friends.

M.M. Gornell is an author friend I met first at a book festival organized by OTP acquisitions editor and author, Sunny Frazier. Madeline (M.M.) have since been at several other book festivals and writing conferences together including PSWA. Today she's featuring me on her blog at and while I'm mentioning that, remember, any OTP author who'd like to be featured on my blog all you have to do is email me at

I could go on and tell you about other OTP authors I've met who are now my friends, but the post would be far too long.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Society for Children Book Writers and Illustrators

I just joined the SCBWI with a view toward extending my professional reach to other children book authors and illustrators. I think I've been working in isolation too long. Those of you who have joined other writers groups can appreciate the need for networking and learning from others. Although I am a member of another local writers group, Night Writers, it seems to be geared toward a more general writing population. Hopefully, turning my focus to a children book writer's association may be more productive.

PR in the weirdest places

Tooooo funny. A Canadian writer friend sent me a URL about a mystery writing resource online that she was looking at and, yes, there at the bottom is a blurb attributing an Alfred Hitchcock quote to me with the E left off my last name. You gotta love it all!

"It's not the murder. It's the waiting for the murder."
~Kit Sloan, mystery writer

Kit Sloane (with an E on the last name!)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Marilyn Meredith Is Guest Blogger at Notes Along the Way

Today Marilyn Meredith is the second ever guest blogger at Notes Along the Way. She is telling about her publishing journey from early on.

The publishing world has changed with amazing rapidity since we all began working in it. The youngest writers probably have no idea how much change has taken place, so I appreciate Marilyn explaining a little of it.

When I talk with my young (kindergarten through fifth grade) students, I realize they have no idea what a typewriter is. I'm sure they are also clueless about a dial telephone. The list goes on. There are hardships (like carbon copies) they will never face. If they go into media work, they will never have to dictate a news story over the telephone (as I did in my first reporting job).

Please stop by Notes Along the Way and read about Marilyn's experiences. If you'd like to leave a comment, both Marilyn and I would appreciate it.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

DorothyL Best Reads of 2011

The results are in for DorothyL's annual compilation of the best reads of the year submitted by participants on the largest listserve of mystery readers in the world. Readers submitted books by 787 different authors. No wonder most of us don't make much money. It's a crowded field.

The list is sorted by how many readers mentioned a particular author. Louise Penny ranked number one. No surprise there. Not only is her latest, A Trick of the Light, doing extremely well, but she has many books out, and the list counts all books by an author that are on any reader's top reads list.

I am pleased to report I was tied for 38th. Not bad for a list that contains 787 authors. And each of my books was on at least one list.

Of course the drop off from Louise Penny at number 1 to Mike Orenduff at number 38 is steep. She received six times as many mentions as I did. I only wish I had one sixth of her royalties.

Mike Orenduff