Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Christmas Season is Upon Us

Are you rushing around trying to get your house decorated and buy and wrap Christmas gifts?

As an author, I would encourage you to buy books for some of the people on your Christmas list. you might try some of the books by the authors who write for this blog.

When I was a kid, my favorite gifts were books. My mom always gave me the latest Nancy Drew mysteries--and I'd usually read them through by the end of the day. Of course I read them again--and again. And believe me, as an adult, I've always loved receiving a book or a gift card where I could choose books for myself.

May I suggest any of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, and especially for those who enjoy books with Native American elements. And of course, there's my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, about a police department on the Pacific coast, the men and women and their families. I write that one as F. M. Meredith.

Though both are series, the mysteries in each book are finished, so they don't have to be read in order.
But for those who really like to start in the beginning, Deadly Omen is the first in the Tempe series, and Final Respects the first in the Rocky Bluff series.

Buy link for Deadly Omen:


Buy link for Final Respects:


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Heroes and Villains

Make Mine Mystery

December 5, 2019

Linda Lee Kane

When I begin a story, I like to create the scenario, then the names of my heroes and my villains. These are some of the things I ponder when writing and I thought it might be helpful to some of you.

Most thrillers tell the story of a hero who leaves the comfortable, known world and ventures into the dangerous unknown, often at risk to his/her life, to bring benefit to humanity. As such, thrillers hearken back to myth is that span all cultures and epochs. Look at Wikipedia’s list of Heroes and World Cultures and Heroines in Folklore and mark those that appeal to you the most. Keep a list of ideas and heroes in a notebook to refer to later.

When creating motivations for heroes and villains, a fundamental principle to remember is that making a decision between good and evil is never really a choice. All humans will choose well as they see it. You must tell why your villain is picking his own right (which your reader will perceive as evil). This is where your moral gray area becomes essential.

In the Black Madonna, A Popes Deadly Obsession, the moral gray area is whether or not to bring the last written words by Jesus to light. An offshoot of the Catholic Church doesn’t want it to come to light, but Luci, in her naivety believes that by doing so it will bring truth to the bible and in doing so bring light to all mankind.

All stakes, no matter what kind of novel you’re writing, should involve death. This can happen physically (the hero's life is in danger, (psychologically) the hero stands to lose his identity or a vital aspect of his soul) or circumstantially (or at some point of the hero’s life will be lost forever-a career, a marriage, his family, etc.). When you’re designing your hero’s central conflict, ask yourself which kind of death your hero is going to confront.

Sometimes a moral gray area turns a hero into a villain. In fiction, this is known as an anti-hero. Check out these television shows as an example:

Tony Soprano of The Sopranos
Walter White of Breaking Bad
Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and observe how the character of Indian Jones is revealed. Which personality traits are shown first? Which ones come later? What motivates Jones in his quest?

What aspects of your hero can be reflected through your villain?

What aspects of your villain’s personality and life could create relatable motivations for what they do in your novel?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

And a Promo That Didn't Work

As the saying goes, there's a sucker born every minute--and this time the sucker was me.

Most writers receive all kinds of offers to promote their books, usually the latest, but I get them for all my books, even some of the oldest.

Because my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series is now self-pubbed, I can check to see how any promotion I do is working.

When I got an offer from an outfit who said they'd put my book on Twitter and other sites for so many times a day for a week--the most expensive offer--I decided to go for it with Spirit Wind, the latest in the series.

I monitored sales the whole week--not a single one for Spirit Wind. I did have a few sales for others in the series, but I think that happened because of the earlier promotion of a free book in the series, and the flyer I hand out at in-person events with a list of all my books.

Maybe this kind of promotion has worked well for others, but it did nothing for me.

I will know better next time.

Buy link for Spirit Wind.



Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Perils of Having a Writing Wife

by Janis Patterson

I married late, well after my writing career was started, so The Husband knew exactly what he was getting. Sort of.

A down-to-earth and sublimely practical man of science well into a long and honorable military career, he knew I was a writer of fiction. He also knew that writers were thought to be eccentric. He just didn’t know how much.

Luckily he is a courageous and adaptable man, for as our marriage progressed, he learned more than I think he ever wanted to know about the unknown side of writing.

For example, he will leave in the morning after kissing a pajama-clad me in my office, already sitting eye-to-eye with the computer. He will come home some eight or nine hours later to find a pajama-clad me in my office, exhausted and emotional, sitting eye-to-eye with the computer. The laundry is undone, the bed unmade, dinner is a frozen lump still in the freezer, and I will look up in surprise, asking if he didn’t leave just a little while ago.

He has gotten used to me murmuring the name of my hero (or villain) in my sleep without wondering about the possibility of infidelity.

He has finally learned to accept that when I am asked what I do, I smile sweetly, give the questioner my best grandmotherly twinkle and say in soft, mellifluous tones, “I kill people.”

He no longer becomes alarmed when he finds books on poisons larded among my cookbooks.

He has become accustomed to my handing out business cards (with my websites only – no phone or address) prodigiously and has even learned to carry a few of them in his wallet. Apparently being married to a multi-published novelist carries a certain cachet.

I’m glad, because on retrospect I’m not sure writing is a lifestyle I would have chosen. I believe that almost anyone can write, given enough time, training and work, but that writers cannot help but write – it is an inescapable part of them, like some sort of birth defect. He has learned that when I stop in mid-word, my face goes blank and my eyes focus on some distant point that I am not having a fit, merely an idea. This is usually followed by a frantic scribbling on anything around, from a cocktail napkin to the back of my hand. He realized early on that I carried enormous purses not for make-up or other feminine junk, but to accommodate my tiny notebook computer, which he called my ‘purse computer.’ Now that my uncertain back has put paid to large purses, he never sees me without a pen and scratch pad – and usually a few choice (and unacceptable) words, because I loathe having to handwrite anything.

Unfortunately, the creation of worlds and populations on little more than caffeine and imagination can be an unsettling process for a non-writer. Currently I am working on a book set in contemporary Egypt – yes, yet another one. One of the side effects is a profusion of photographs of obscure archaeological sites blooming all over my office. Another is that our dinner menu has suddenly leaned heavily towards kushari, kibbe, hummus and tabouli. Luckily The Husband is as big an Egyptophile as I (doesn’t everyone know by now that he proposed to me in Egypt?) and he takes this with equanimity.

I’m not always that lucky. While writing Dark Music before my marriage, I lived in an apartment. The hero was a concert pianist who specialized in Chopin. I played Chopin almost 24/7 for the three months it took to write the novel. Though I tried to be quiet and respectful, before long my neighbors were begging to know when I would finish the book.

When I was writing The Hollow House, a cozy mystery set in 1919, I pestered The Husband about WWI and suitable firearms. Being something of a WWI/WWII historian, he happily complied.

He was less happy when, at a very crowded local gun show, we saw an automatic M96 Mauser Pistol Rifle, the firearm I had decided on for my villain to use. It’s a very distinctive and rather rare piece. I pointed it out gleefully and said to The Husband, “Look, darling, isn’t that what I used to kill Jake?” The gun show might have been packed, but suddenly there wasn’t a single person within arm’s length of me for a long time.

Due to several ancient accidents, I sometimes have a slight limp, especially when I’m tired. In Exercise is Murder, the heroine has a severe limp, though hers was caused much more dramatically by a bullet wound. As my tattered and beloved sweatshirt says, “It’s All Research.” The Husband has become accustomed to my asking all kinds of sometimes bizarre questions wherever we go.

I’d like to say I’m strong-minded enough to keep control of my characters, to keep them on the page instead of letting them seep into my life, but I’m not. As every character, good and bad, shares at least a few aspects of its creator, so does the creator reflect – at least temporarily – a modicum of the character. We create our characters from the inside out, and I believe Loucard’s Principle, that when two things touch, there is inevitable transfer from each to the other, however small. 

I realized that The Husband has not only learned but accepted this, for when I am in full damn-the-torpedoes-and-write-mode, so submerged in the story that I never get out of my pajamas and we survive on take-out suppers, he has developed the habit of peering around my office door and asking, “And who are we today?”

Maybe he’s lucky. He remains faithful, but still gets to live with a wide variety of women, all in one package.  He married a writer.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Report on My Recent Promotions

Though most of us would rather write than spend time promoting, it is a necessary part of being a writer.

Over the last month or so, I've done lots of promotion for my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery Bones in the Attic and tor the freebie of the second book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, Calling the Dead.

Because Bones in the Attic is published by Aakenbaaken and Kent, I'll have no way of knowing if my promotion has resulted in sales until I get my royalty report. I didn't do a book launch for this latest book but I did have several in-person appearance where I did sell the book.

This is only half of my display.

Because of my promotions, I did receive a wonderful review on Amazon--and here it is:

November 3, 2019

I've been a fan of Marilyn Meredith's books for a long time. This one is her newest entry in the Rocky Bluff series. The characters encounter a skeleton in the attic of an old house and summon the police and the mystery takes off from there as he characters struggle with their own personal issues while at the same time are working at solving the crime. If you're familiar with the series, it's like visiting some old friends. If this is your first time reading Meredith's writing, you're in for a treat. Hers is the work of a master craftsman who knows just how to combine the perfect amount of characterization, description, and plotting to make her novels refreshing page turners. Do yourself a favor and read this book. --Michael A. Black

I know it came from my promotion on my groups, because Mike Black told me he bought the book.

For my freebie, Calling the Dead, when my former publisher closed its doors, all of the books in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series were re-edited and self-published (with a lot of help from a friend) so I confess, I tracked what was happening every day. By the end of the final day, 527 copies were downloaded! For two days, the book was #1 in Native American Literature, and was in the 20s of female sleuths.

Of course the whole idea of offering a free book in a series is that after reading the freebie, people will buy other books in the series. Is that happening? Yes, slowly, everyday one or two or three of the other books has been purchased. So I would say the promotion has been successful.


Monday, November 4, 2019

Eight Rules of Writing by Neil Gaiman

Make Mine Mystery
November 1, 2019

Linda Lee Kane

I purchased a series of classes from Neil Gaiman and I was not disappointed. There are other authors that I’ve been listening to, they always give you something to think about, put into practice, or just enjoy listening to the author talk about their great works. Something I thought I might share is

Neil Gaiman’s Eight Rules of Writing:
1      Write (very important)
2.     Write one word after another, find the right word, put it down.
3.     Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do, just finish it.
4.      Put it aside, later pick it back up pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends you respect and like what you’re writing.
5.     When someone tells you something is wrong, or it just doesn’t work, usually their right. When they tell you exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, usually their wrong.
6.    Fix it, remember that, sooner or later before it ever reaches perfection, you’ll have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7.     Laugh at your own jokes.
8.    8.  The main rule of writing is if you write with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That might be a rule for life as well as for writing). So write your story how it needs to be written. Write it honestly and tell it as best as you can. I’m not sure there are any other rules, at least one’s that matter.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Well, I've Gone and Done it Now!

Not sure what I should use as an excuse--not paying enough attention to my calendar, I suppose.

But here's what's happening:

On March 18th a blog tour I planned for Bones in the Attic began. It is a bit shorter than usual, thank goodness, but on the 2nd day of the tour, I'm heading to Visalia, leaving at 7, to take part in Taste of the Arts to be in a booth with several other writers.

For those of you who have ever done a blog tour know how vital it is to promote each day and respond to any comments people make on each blog. I'll have to promote really early, and when I come home, respond to comments.

The day this post appears I wrote about A Little Help From a Friend for John Lindermuth: https://jrlindermuth.blogspot.com/

And because I suppose I wasn't thinking clearly, I planed a free e-book promotion for October 27 through 31 for Calling the Dead one of my earlier Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.I suppose you can figure out that I am doing all this to ride in on the coattails of Halloween.

And yes, that means plenty of promotion to make sure people take advantage of the offer.

Hope some of you will take advantage of it too.

After this is done, I am spending two days with my books at the Porterville Art Gallery for their holiday boutique--November 1 and 2, 10 to 5.