Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Triggered Some of the Plots for Rocky Bluff P.D.

The Rocky Bluff P.D. series has evolved over time. I never meant to write a series when I wrote the first one..

Final Respects, is about the death of a police officer during a domestic dispute. Though the circumstances are much different in the story I wrote, a real situation triggered the plot.

My son-in-law, who was a police officer, told me many tales about incidents that happened while he was at work, many of them have turned up in different forms in several of the Rocky Bluff P.D. books, and especially in Bad Tidings. The detective’s wife with breast cancer has many similarities to a good friend of mine and her bout with breast cancer.

Fringe Benefits is about Cal Sylvester, an officer in the Rocky Bluff P.D., despises Gordon Butler, who is his rookie partner. However,Cal thinks Butler's wife is hot and he pursues her romantically. Their affair heats up and Cal is hooked on the gorgeous Darcy. but Darcy wants more than love and passion...she wants fine things and high times which are beyond Cal's means. He figures out a way to do it and get away with it.
(I asked my cop son-in-law how he would do it and he gave me a terrific idea.

 Smell of Death is based on a real kidnapping of a child that happened long ago and I changed a lot of the most gruesome circumstances. It’s in this book that Officer Stacey Wilbur and Detective Doug Milligan begin to notice each other in a much different way than as fellow officers. The title and some of the plot came from my son-in-law telling me that movies and TV shows aren’t able to portray the worst part of a crime scene, that is the smell.

No Sanctuary is about two churches, two ministers, two wives and one death. Though I’ve never been in a church where the ministers were quite like these two guys, I once belonged to a church where the minister had an affair with the choir director and I learned about it from the church secretary. This book has a choir director and church secretary much like the ones I knew. One of the side plots about a pedophile came from a female vice-officer who told her stories at a Sisters in Crime meeting.

An Axe to Grind, also has a tie-in to a Sisters in Crime meeting. The guest speaker was a coroner and he delighted in showing us the grisly crime scene slides where the victim had been decapitated. The opening scene of this book is the discovery of a decapitated murder victim. (And I've been told, that made one reviewer laugh.)

A ride-along with the only female police officer on the department gave me a lot of fodder for writing about my character,  Stacey Wilbur. From three o’clock in the morning until six, the lady cop didn’t have a single call. As we rode around the city, she bared her heart to me, telling me all about what it was like to be the only woman with a bunch of guys, and how hard it was to be a single mom raising a son on her own. I used a lot of what she told me to create Stacey Wilbur.

Angel Lost Blurb: As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?

 And of course, the latest in the series is  No Bells. 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. Gordon has become a favorite of many of the years as things never seem to go right for him. You'll have to read No Bells to see if thongs are beginning to look up.

F.M. Meredith a.k.a. Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary was a finalist in the Epic 2009 best in e-book mystery/suspense category. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Epic, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association. She was an instructor for Writers Digest School for many years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writers Retreat as well as many other writers’ conferences.

All of these books are available in the usual places such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Marilyn a.k.a. F.M. Meredith

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


It was mid-summer in 1999 when I told my wife that we needed to drive to San Francisco and visit the Sutro's ruins adjacent to the Cliff House. The bathhouse had opened in 1896 and burned to the ground in 1966. Carol asked why it was so important for us to visit the ruins that day. I had no answer but knew we had to go.

Later that morning, we pulled into the parking lot that sat above remnants of a concrete foundation, splashed by cool ocean waves. We walked down the trail, then sat on the weathered concrete. That's when it hit me, and I was unable to hold back the tears that had been building on the hike down.

As a young boy, my father had spent time in each of the seven pools. It was also a place where my grandfather had visited prior to returning to Armenia to help fund the Armenian resistance during the genocide. Several months after his departure, my grandmother received word that he had been murdered by Turkish soldiers.

As I sat on the dampened concrete, I knew that I had to write "Bloody Soil," an historical fiction novel, chronicling the journey of several families through hell.

After much research online and at the University of California Fresno's library, words began spilling out onto paper. Tears often welled as I tortured my characters much like family members had been, beginning in 1914. Some of my ancestors had reached Ellis Island, while others lay bloodied on rugged trails.

I believe all of us have had events in our lives that can be woven into novels. My manuscript, "Possum Belly Queen," is fiction, but a few of the characters are modeled after individuals I met while selling amusement park and carnival rides. I also created Armenian characters who will appear in future books. What I have discovered in my writing is that I should visit my personal library more often and browse through sixty, plus years of heartfelt material, some worthy of publication, some not.

Robert O'Hanneson

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm featured author this week on author DelSheree Gladden's Edible Bookshelf.  Thanks, DeSheree.  Link below...

Monday, July 23, 2012

New interview

A western writer friend has posted a new interview with your's truly, if anyone would like to check it out. In it, I'm asked to identify my favorite character, a tough job. I love'em all!
And has anyone read the glowing reviews of Three Seconds to Thunder posted by Marilyn Meredith and Jason Hunt on Amazon? Lovely. Thank you, guys.



Friday, July 20, 2012

New BBF- American Caliphate by William Doonan

"Think Indiana Jones and The Da Vinci Code' rolled into one."...this clipped from the Early Reader Review on the back cover done by Mike Orenduff, author of the Pot Thief novels.

Here's the description...

Nothing decays on the north coast, not even faith. 

Archaeologists Jila Wells and Ben Juarez reluctantly return to Peru to join Professor Beckham's distinguished team at Santiago de Page pyramids. Jila is still haunted by the prior dig which ended in a near-fatal ambush. But the ruins hide a document that will shock the Islamic world. Details found in an ancient diary tell of an illegal expedition to Spanish Peru, intending to bring the word of Allah to the pagan Americans. As the archaeologists brace for the ravages of El NiƱo, Jila and Ben hurry to complete their excavations. But they’re not the only ones interested in this project. Other forces are determined that the document remain hidden.


 Doonan is a college professor and field archaeologist. For several years he's been involved in the excavation of an ancient Moche pyramid complex on Peru's north coast, so he writes from the perspective of one who has first hand professional knowledge, but Doonan handles it so that it fascinates while it educates, and the characters are completely accessible.

As our Blog Book Feature...the BUY button under the cover will garner you the book at the low, low price of $8...even less than our online bookstore www.ShopOTPBooks.com which is where you will go if you click on the book's cover. So, take an adventure from the comfort of your favorite reading chair!

Billie Johnson Publisher, OTP

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Behind the scenes at a film studio

As they say, “write what you know,” so for my next new mystery, The Sinister Sitcom Caper, I drew on my experiences as a page for Paramount Pictures. I created a fictional movie studio for my book but used some of the impressions and experiences of my Hollywood experience.

When I was at Paramount more than a decade ago, the pages had two main jobs: giving studio tours in the day and ushering audiences for sitcom tapings in the evening. At that time the tour consisted of a two-hour walk through the main areas of the 65-acre lot (in the current tour, the guests ride in shuttle carts). As the group walked, I talked about the history of the lot. As I talked, I walked backwards so I could face the group and make sure nobody wandered off (while doing this I only tripped over something once).

At some of the soundstages I was able to take the group inside to see an actual TV set (very few movies were shot on the lot and the ones that did were closed to visitors). A couple of sitcoms let tour groups come in and watch rehearsals.

Paramount has a huge backlot built to resemble various neighborhoods in New York City, including a “subway stop” that goes into the ground (and nowhere else). Trees, mailboxes, lampposts and signs can be added to “dress” the streets. The overhead pipe system can create “rain” or “snow” on cue. Cars can be driven onto the streets for a shot. Occasionally my tour group could watch filming on the backlot.

Shooting a 20-minute sitcom takes a minimum of three hours--the usual time was four hours. Some of the long running shows moved quickly and were fun to watch as they were made.  In some shows (which were not funny), the actors kept forgetting their lines or the writers revised the script between takes. I remember one especially lengthy night for an unsold pilot. After five hours the show had not finished, most of the audience had left, and the pages were sent home. That show is probably still taping.

 If you ever visit Los Angles, I highly recommend taking the Paramount tour and, if you can, making reservations to watch a sitcom taping. It's a terrific way to see the entertainment industry up close. 
Sally Carpenter
"The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper"
Eureka! Award finalist


OTP Authors at PSWA

On my own blog I've been posting something about the conference every day and will be continuing through July 27th.

One thing I didn't mention was how many of the OTP Authors were present.

Our wonderful publisher comes every year and she asked for a photo to be taken of the OTP Authors.

Here we are in all our glory.

Left to right:
Marti Colvin, Billie Johnson, Morgan St. James, Steve Scarborough, Marilyn Olsen (president of PSWA), Janet Greger, Marilyn Meredith, Susan Smily, Honora Finklestein, Mark Bouon, Michael Black.

And just for fun, I'm going to add this photo of Billie and me. We sat side-by-side during the conference and I must confess, sometimes we passed notes to each other.

It's not a wonderful photo, but shows what we were up to. I also took lots of notes about what was going on at the conference.

And if you'd like to check out what I've been writing about the conference, the link is http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest posts, interviews, reviews and 'death clues'

Guest blogging is twice as nice when you're on two blogs the same week! On Sheila Boneham's blog I discuss the "Paul is dead" hoax of the 1960s and the so-called "death clues" the Beatles left on their album covers and in song lyrics.

On DelSherre Gladdin's blog, I'll be the featured author all week with a new post each day. An interview and review will be up later. Those who leave a comment will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of my book. Enjoy!

Sally Carpenter

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Semicolons and special sales!

"I have grown fond of semicolons in recent years. It is almost always a greater pleasure to come across a semicolon than a period. The period tells you that that is that; if you didn't get all the meaning you wanted or expected, anyway you got all the writer intended to parcel out and now you have to move along. But with a semicolon there you get a pleasant little feeling of expectancy; there is more to come; read on; it will get clearer."
--Lewis Thomas

The not-so-humble semicolon [ ; ]. Use it:

to help sort out a monster list:

There were citizens from Bangor, Maine; Hartford, Connecticut; Boston, Massachusetts; and Newport, Rhode Island.


to separate closely related independent clauses:

My grandmother seldom goes to bed this early; she's afraid she'll miss out on something.

The semicolon allows the writer to imply a relationship between nicely balanced ideas without actually stating that relationship. (Instead of saying that *because* my grandmother is afraid she'll miss out on something, we have implied the because. Thus the reader is involved in the development of an idea: a clever, subliminal way of engaging the reader's participation as she reads.)

It is the balance of the see-saw. It joins related ideas. It prevents comma splices and heals your split ends. It's a useful mark that will NOT damage any reader's experience of a story as long as that reader has proper reading comprehension and has been taught the traffic signals of grammar (period, full stop; comma, pause; semicolon signaling a strong connection between two independent clauses, colon signaling that the second clause is explanatory in some way or illuminates the first clause, parentheticals for salient asides).

So fear not the powerful punctuation marks.

We have a roaring special bargain for readers of this blog!

Get NICE WORK, the award-winning debut mystery by Denise Weeks, for $12 when you pre-order at the Oak Tree Press site. It's a great beach read at 366 pgs trade paper and FREE SHIPPING for this special offer!


NICE WORK by Denise Weeks (winner of the 2011 Dark Oak novel contest) is a traditional mystery with an edge. Jacquidon Carroll could've killed her boss when he downsized her--or so the police think. Can she and her sister find the real killer in the maze of BDSM clubs and secret societies that her (ex-)boss turns out to have been involved in before it's too late? Edgy ideas, but NO explicit stuff--it's played for laughs. A "Snoop Sisters" sort of romp like Anne George's Southern Sisters series.

Page down to the N section (NICE WORK by Denise Weeks)--about 24 PAGEDOWN keystrokes and use the ADD TO CART button and then check out securely with credit card or PayPal in the PayPal cart window (DON'T WORRY about retail price listed--your price is $12 for special early bird deal, only on our site!)

Books will be delivered around the first week in August. This is before Amazon or any other link goes live, at this special price.

If you buy the book and email me, I'll send you an autographed bookplate. The first 25 responders get a free pen. A FREE PEN!! PRICELESS! (LOL) No, really, with ink and everything. If I get a lot of requests, I'll reorder the pens.

Bonus!! If you review NICE WORK on Amazon, you'll get a bookmark with the secret code for another FREE Oak Tree Press book. You can't lose!

This would make a great gift, because you know for sure your recipient doesn't have the book yet. No one does. You'll be among the first to help a struggling new author. I hope you do get the book, like it, and review it! Whether or not you do that, do stay cool in this heat.

The Book Pre-Ordered for $12

Free Read of First Three Chapters in PDF Form http://www.manicreaders.com/index.cfm?disp=bookdetail&bookid=26189

(I'm not sure whether you'll need to join MANICREADERS in order to download various FREE READ previews from their site. If you can't get that to work, request the PDF from me at shalanna.collins@gmail.com anytime. Yes--the secret is out--the elusive Shalanna Collins is actually Denise Weeks! Or the other way around.)

WHOA. You came here for a free poem, not a sales pitch. Okay, here are a few free poems.

My Haiku

Five syllables here
Seven more syllables here
Are ya happy now?!

Cat Haiku
You're always typing.
Well, let's see you ignore my
sitting on your hands.

Dog Haiku

My human is home!
I'm so ecstatic I have
Made a puddle.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book Signing and Launch a Success

I learned a lot from my children's, book launch and signing experience today: Pick a well-traveled spot; bring a camera; buy a large banner; bring balloons, stuffed animals and a colorful display; have book marks and business cards; bring plenty of books; invite lots of friends; have cookies and an activity for the children; and finally enjoy talking with customers.  If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

The children especially enjoyed making their own special hand-made book we called a "magic book form" because it can be made with any size paper and is easy to construct. Those who couldn't or didn't want to make a book, drew pictures on the back side of my book marks, which hopefully they took home as a reminder to their parents.

Of course, a special thanks to Lesa Smith owner of Whiz Kids Toy Store who sponsored this event. She was very helpful  in setting up the tables, etc and working with the children on book construction. Gini Griffin, the illustrator for one of the books we were launching "Camouflage", also came to sign her book and provide encouragement. The other book I launched today was "Ants on a Log". A third Oak Tree book, "The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake" will be launched in September in front of a traditional book store. I trust I will have as much fun at this event as I did today. Beryl

Friday, July 13, 2012


Got the URL wrong. Billie's post on small press Fridays is http://kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com/2012/07/small-press-friday-publisher-billie.html

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Did everyone get the word of Billie's post on Small Press Friday over at Kathleen Kaska's site? http://kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com/2012/07/small-press-friday-publisher-billie.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New post on my own blog.

I posted a short piece about an expected perk I received at a farmer's market last Saturday on my blog. Proof that you just never know what might happen. Here's the link if you care to check it out.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

GHOST WRITER Blog Book Feature!

Here is a chance to get Lorna Collins' delightful novel GHOST WRITER at an amazing low price...just pennies more than half the SRP!! Click on the cover image to go to a Pay Pal check out. Also available on Amazon and coming soon to BN.com and other spots...

GHOST WRITER launched OTP's latest imprint, MYSTIC OAK! Here's the description blurb from the OTP Bookstore:

When unemployed computer programmer Nan Burton inherits a California beach cottage from her great-great-aunt, she’s delighted. But she’s in for a huge surprise: The house is haunted by the ghost of famous romance writer Max Murdoch (pen name Maxine DuBois) who insists Nan complete his last novel, threatening to keep her from sleeping until she agrees. The ensuing clash pits youth against the long-dead but still egotistical author with humorous and moving results.

Lorna is another OTP author who really knows her way around book promotion. Take her to lunch and get some great tips!

And, in case you didn't know...our online bookstore has its own URL http://www.ShopOTPBooks.com This should take you directly to the bookstore on our site. What a fabulous way to strrrrreeetch your book budget!

Billie Johnson, Publisher

Friday, July 6, 2012

Amost Time for the PSWA Conference!

Yep, it's coming soon--the reception is less than a week away.

I've gathered a lot of what I need together--a bit more than most who are going because I'm the Program Chair--but not nearly as much as I used to bring because I've farmed out some of my jobs.

This is a most exciting time for me. I love this conference. There are so many exciting people who attend, people in all areas of law enforcement and other mystery writers like me--and also Billie Johnson, the OTP publisher. In fact, this is where I met Billie the first time.

Believe it or not, I sell more books at this conference than any other--because I have some fans who come and are looking for my latest books. No, I don't sell lots of books, few do, but more than the none at some conferences.

I've made some wonderful friends at PSWA--friends I couldn't possibly have met any other place.

I plan on blogging about the conference while I'm there. Start checking my blog around Thursday.


Isn't this cool? Has my all my Rocky Bluff P.D. covers on there.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Catalogue of Books for Young Children

I'm in the process of producing a catalogue of my books for young children. Because I've written and published over 35 titles, three with Oak Tree and the rest with Blurb.com, I decided it was time to print a catalogue of my books. I include a picture of the cover and then a short description, where each can be ordered and a short bio. I plan to give the catalogue to those outlets that are selling my books and have a few available for my book signings and other events. (I have one coming up on Saturday, July 14 at Whiz Kids Story Store in San Luis Obispo.) Hopefully this will generate more interest in my books and help with marketing. I'll send you a copy, Billie, when it is finished.

Oh, I've also developed a "logo" a drawing of Rocky Raccoon, one of my favorite story characters  (See above).  I've put him on all my material, including a banner for signings, my new business cards, bookmarks, etc. Beryl

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Hidden Values of Writers' Conferences

     Many of my writer friends have cut back on attending writers' conferences. And I know from comments I've seen by other writers, as well as from cancellations of conferences I've signed up for, that attendance has dwindled for many worthwhile ones. Yes, I know the state of the economy, and our desire to save money is largely to blame. But some things in life have values beyond what can be seen on their face, and I believe that conferences are among those items.

     I recently attended the Tallgrass Writers' Clinic in Emporia, Kansas, which is an economical, but valuable conference. They have many fine speakers there, excellent programs, and a fine atmosphere where they show the worth of learning the writing craft. I spoke to one young man in attendance there, asking him if this was his first writers' conference, and he replied that it was. I asked if he was enjoying it, and if he felt he was learning something. He told me, "This conference has changed my life."

     It seems that the young man was so inspired by the speakers and the atmosphere of interest in writing by the participants there, that he had decided he wanted to really work at becoming a writer.  
I recalled my first writers' conference in Kansas City, Missouri, and remembered the elation I felt on learning that more than a hundred people in attendance understood the feeling of writing something expressive and meaningful, knew how much knowledge and work it took to be able to do this, and were seeking to better learn how to do that. And, best of all, they were eager and willing to discuss any and all aspects of writing and any problems that were bothering others. There were no blank stares and awkward changes of subject when you told someone there that you were a writer, and you were working on a novel, poem, short story, or whatever. There were kindred spirits there who understood and encouraged a passion for utilizing the written word.

     I mentioned my experience in meeting with the young man at the Emporia conference in a post on Facebook. And I received a number of responses from people who were inspired by their first conference, who found new writing friends, and who made contact with an established writer who became their mentor. There are so many possible advantages to attending a conference that we sometimes overlook them.

     You can make writing friends who will encourage you, help you, and inspire you to write. You will learn various tips about craft that may help energize and improve your writing immensely. There are often editors, agents, and heads of publishing houses who speak about how the publishing business works, and who provide knowledge that will help you learn the system. You may be able to pitch your novel to an agent who will tell you to submit some chapters. You may meet an editor who is looking for your type of book series. And you'll definitely hear some amazing stories and wonderfully lively conversations from some of the most intelligent, interesting, and observant people you'll ever communicate with. Usually, the energy you take back home with you from attending a conference will carry you for a long time in your writing.

     I'll be attending two more conferences this year: The Public Safety Writers' Association conference in Las Vegas, 7/12-15, where my latest novel, The Sacrifice, will be launched by Oak Tree Press (Illinois), and where I'll participate in two panels, and the Kansas Writers' Association yearly conference in Salina, Kansas, October 5-7, where I'll make two presentations and be on a panel.

     And I know I'll learn some good writing tips, meet fascinating people in the writing world, learn some new ideas on promoting and marketing one's work, make some new friends, establish a few contacts with whom I can exchange ideas and suggestions about writing in the future, and just have a wonderful time learning, laughing, and having fun with lively and vibrant people.

    You can obtain all these hidden values and more from attending writers' conferences. Look some up at www.writersdigest.com or at www.shawguides.com. There should be some not that far from you at a reasonable price. Consider the many things you can take away from attending one, and then make your decision. There are a vast array of precious ideas, contacts, and inspirational messages you'll be attaining there. Save your pennies and treat yourself to a fantastic experience.