Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Christmas, Greenhouses and Life

by Janis Patterson

Am I the only one losing it this Christmas? We’re doing less, but everything takes more time - and a lot more money. Of course, The Husband’s Physical Therapy for his injured shoulder takes a lot of my time, since he isn’t supposed to drive, so I have to take him and wait. There is truth to the old saw that every cloud has a silver lining. His sessions aren’t long enough to justify taking my travel computer and working (besides it would be terribly inconvenient, as the waiting room is small and not well equipped) so I take my phone and read, something I never have time to do. I’ve read more in the last eight weeks than I have the entire rest of the year.

We still have no refrigerator - 100+ days from ordering and nothing. I still can’t get over the fact a simple white refrigerator is a special order, especially when they seem determined that you should be happy with a stainless or black one! You’ll forgive my glee when I heard a couple of days ago that style maven Martha Stewart has declared both stainless and black kitchen appliances to be horribly dated and no stylish kitchen will have them. It probably shows the smallness of my soul that in my secret I heartily wish both Lowes and GE be stuck with hundreds of them!

We have a small greenhouse-type thing I constructed in sheer desperation one freezing night years ago from PVC pipe, sheet plastic, spring clamps and a heat lamp, and it has kept plants alive through the winter for years. However, this summer The Husband has started raising hot pepper plants in big pots and now that the cold weather is on the way our little greenhouse is woefully inadequate. So we simply got more pipe, more plastic, and have been trying to adapt the design. It’s almost finished (REALLY cold weather is coming in tomorrow) and I think it’s going to work. I hope so... I’m also hoping the plants keep producing, because I’m accustomed to having a continual supply of yummy fresh hot peppers!

Now I know this blog is to be about things writerly, but let’s face it - life is writerly. Life is where we get our ideas. Life is where we do our research. Life is everything... especially this wonderful, crazy, overstressed time of year! 

And life is what gets in the way of us writing. I’m not proud of it, as I’m a hard-working professional writer, but I’ll admit I haven’t written a word for three weeks. Life - and the holidays - just got in the way. So - I’m just going to do what I have to, and enjoy my family and the season, and get back to writing after the first of the new year. 

I hope that each and every one of you has the happiest holiday season and the best of New Years... and I’ll see you in January, with a talk about something writerly!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The First Book in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series

The aftermath of giving away free Kindle copies of RAGING WATER, is readers bought what they thought was number one in the sries, DEADLY OMEN. But that book was not the first in the series.

The first book is DEADLY TRAIL, but it's listed as #0.

The reason is, it didn't get published until long after the first four book in the series came out.

Anyone who knows me and my publishing history are aware I've had many publishers along the way. The wonderful woman who published the first four books and became a friend, passed away unexpectedly. DEADLY TRAIL was picked up by a populare independent publsiher. Unfortunately, this publiher had a death in the family and closed the doors to her business. 

The series was picked up by another quite renound small press, but after a few years, they shut down too.

My friend suggested I go the self-publishing route. Frankly, at my age I didn't want to learn how to do what had to be done.  My friend said she'd help--and help she did. I got the rights back for the books that had been published as well as the covers--and she and her husband did the hard work of getting this series published again. Needless to say, they've been a great blessing to me and my publishing life.

I guess Amazon didn't want to make changes as to the number of the books and DEADLY TRAIL became  #0.

This first book introduces Tempe, her son, Blair, the man she's engaged to, Pastor Hutch, and Nick Two John. I got the idea for the wonderful garden in the book from an Indian and his wife I met at a friend's home. They described their garden and I knew it belonged in a book. 

Here is the link to DEADLY TRAIL

Available on Kindle and in print.


Monday, December 5, 2022

Another Freebie


Once again I'm offering a free book on Kindle.

This time it's RAGING WATER, a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery.

The mountain town of Bear Creek is cut off frome town because of a massive mud slide during a monstrous rain storm. Bear Creek is flooded and many homes are threatened. And to complicate matters, a murderer is trapped along with everyone else.

Tempe has her hands full--and she has a target on her back.

Do try it.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Public Safety Writers Association's Annual Conference

This is a repeat from my own blog. This is my favorite conference--where mystery writers can learn more about law enforcement.

Sign up now for the early bird fee and more information: 

These are the four main speakers for next year's conferende:

The Seven Touchstones for Writing a Crime Thriller by Nick Chiarkas

Nick Chiarkas grew up in a housing project on New York City’s lower east side. Called “hopeless” by some uncaring teachers, he went on to become a celebrated author as well as a U.S. Army Paratrooper; a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President's Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency. On the way, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University; a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. He shares with us his writing process called The Seven Touchstones for Writing a Crime Thriller.

Criminal Profiling for Mystery/True Crime Writers, by Pete Klismet

While many people, and certainly police officers, profess knowledge about "Criminal Profiling," very few understand what the concept is about, or how determinations are made. Former police officer, retired FBI agent, and college professor Pete Klismet practically wrote the book on criminal profiling and has put together a shortened presentation of the course he once taught at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Pete designed this presentation specifically for those writers working on mysteries and true crime projects. A distinguished author himself, Pete has been published both foreign and domestically and this presentation is guaranteed to knock your socks off as well as giving you a factual baseline to add credibility and realism to your writing.
Join us as he presents the 'nuts and bolts' of how trained profilers look at circumstances involving a crime, or evidence from a crime scene in a completely different manner and use these observations, behavioral clues to provide insight into the personality of the offender.

Modern CSI Skills and Technology by R.J.Beam

Crime Scene Investigation has come a long way from messy fingerprint powders and feather brushes. Modern TV and movies show cops using magical gadgets to find evidence and solve cases in an hour. Real life police officer and police academy instructor, RJ Beam knows how to separate fiction from fact. A published author and expert police detail editor for a publisher, RJ is ready, willing, and able to break down some of the latest technology in use today at real crime scenes. During this presentation, he will also explain how some of what you see on TV while real is not in use at the average department just yet. With luck, RJ's boss will be cool (and the TSA won't pester him) so he can bring a few "toys" to Vegas for demonstrations

Your Book From Inception to Marketing By Jo Wilkins and Jenni Curtis

The tag-team presentation by these two industry professionals from Mystic Publishing starts with the introduction of how your book idea can be spread across a marketing platform and progresses into a full-scale explanation of how such a platform might intertwine with the publishing process from beginning to end. Well established author, editor, and publisher, Jo Wilkins is the Chief Executive Officer and Acquisitions Editor for Mystic Publishing. She, along with published author and marketing expert Jenni Curtis will demonstrate how these principles apply whether you are going to use the traditional publishing route or are contemplating taking the plunge into self-publishing. Jo and Jenni will review the necessities that every author should and must consider and how to apply them to your marketing plan up to and beyond the release of your novel.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A Post About Censorship

by Janis Patterson

I know this is not a political forum, so I’m not going to be political... just bear with me.

I’m not much on social media - in truth, I hate it. It’s a timesink and sometimes it’s frightening to see what’s going on out there. I use it for two primary purposes - family/friends contact and publicity on my books. More, if I am to be honest, of the former than the latter. 

However, I am human, and when I see an egregious lie posted as fact I have to respond. (And it has to be a really BIG lie to make me comment.) This time I simply stated an irrefutable, provable scientific truth. So guess what? The platform froze my account, then sent me a cloyingly polite little note saying my post had been flagged as being hurtful of some people’s feelings.

What? An account is frozen because a factual statement of truth is ‘hurtful to some people’s feelings”??? It is indeed the truth...

They then said I could be completely reinstated by deleting the ‘offensive’ post. 

Hmmm - so if I want to be allowed back in the ‘tribe’ all I have to do is deny an irrefutable scientific fact - and agree to a deliberate untruth. Bad bargain. I protested, telling them I was not going to defame my honor by underwriting a lie, and since my account was locked I had no way of closing/deleting the whole account - and believe me, I tried. So I asked them to close and delete the account for me and we could call it quits.

Not surprisingly they refused. Apparently I not only have to sacrifice my honor and honesty, but I have to kowtow to their rules and delete the truth before I can sever our relationship. That’s scary. Needless to say, we are at a stalemate - I will not sacrifice the truth to have a platform on which I can sell my books. Period.

So what is the purpose of this little screed besides some personal venting? Well, this attitude affects every writer out there. Why should we be expected to allow someone - censor, Mrs. Grundy, monolithic corporation, government, anyone - to dictate unilaterally to us what we can and cannot write - especially when it is the truth? And before you say ‘truth is relative’ sometimes it isn’t. An irrefutable fact is an irrefutable fact - if you turn loose of a rock, it will fall down, not up. If you cut a piece of meat in half, you cannot make it truly whole again. You cannot cut off a person’s head then stick it back on and expect him to be the same. More frivolously, you cannot eat your cake and have it too. Some things just are, and cannot be changed simply because we want them to be - or because they “might hurt someone’s feelings.”

Now there are those who will say social media is a contract between individuals and media, meaning the individual corporations which have the freedom to say what will and will not be said upon their platforms, and in a way that is true - I am a great believer in corporate freedom. If this or any social media platform chooses to play that way, I can choose not to play with them. However distasteful I might find their actions, they are certainly within their rights to be as dictatorial as they choose. If someone doesn’t like what they are doing, they can leave and go to another platform they find more to their liking. What I object to is that this repugnant practice is it is becoming so prevalent over every branch of communication - including magazines, movies, television and books.

What if someone decrees you cannot write a mystery with a ____ (insert classification of choice here, such as man, woman, child, straight, homosexual, black, white, Asian... whatever) as the villain? Or that you cannot ever have more than two dead bodies in a single book? What if we are ordered that no one in a story can come from a such-and-such background, or be of (or not be of) a such-and-such socio-economic/racial/sexual group? That’s censorship, plain and simple.

Nor is the problem confined to social media. Not long ago a scandal erupted in Romance Writers of America about their yearly award. It used to be called the Rita, but I believe now the name has been changed to the Vivian, but egregious as the change was, that’s not the problem. The book which won was about the romance of a man who had years before as a soldier had taken part in a military action against some Indian tribe. In the intervening years between then and the beginning of the book he had reformed and found the love of his life, which was the main thrust of the story. 

The fact that this book won enraged the PC agitators in the crowd, who claimed that since he had once been involved in a massacre of Indians he should never be a romantic hero, whether he had reformed or not. He didn’t, according to some of the more vocal critics, deserve a happy ending and could never even receive redemption or God’s forgiveness. 

In a free and sane society such hysterical blatherings would have been ignored as the self-aggrandizing lunacy they were, but sadly and disturbingly RWA chose the ‘woke’ side and rescinded the award. They couldn’t ban the book altogether, though I believe they would have if they could, but it was stripped of the award in spite of the fact it was well-written enough to have won in the first place, it adhered to every rule of the contest and was by a well-known and well-respected writer. But it displeased a minority of the membership, so it had to go. Now one cannot help but wonder how many writers are hesitant to submit their books to the - or any - award for fear it won’t pass the muster of the PC hysterics even if it does follow every rule of the contest.

So far as I know the mystery community has not succumbed to such lunacy, but one never knows. We can only hope it stays sane and free of such irrational control.

I believe such blatant censorship is something against which all writers should fight, whatever they write. BUT in spite of that statement I will say there are some things which definitely be kept out of some hands, such as pornography and children, for example - after all there are the structures and decencies of civilization to consider - but as writers we exist to communicate. If that communication is stifled, distorted, controlled, or negated, the world is doomed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

When Life Gets Bumpy

 Though I’ve hoped to be nearly finished with what I’m planning to be the latest and last of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, life has gotten in the way.

Hubby when I first met him on a blind date.

October 24th was our 71st wedding anniversary, and we didn’t do anything special to celebrate. We’d had a huge family celebration for our 70th, but the bumpy part to life interfered with any desire to celebrate other than to congratulate each other for lasting as long as we have.

Now the big bump—our second oldest daughter, Lisa, was having trouble breathing, she went to a local clinic and was sent immediately to a bigger hospital than the one nearby. She was admitted with having heart problems. They kept her a few days, sent her home, and two nights in a row she couldn’t breathe. She sat up all night. Went back to the same hospital where she had open heart surgery and it was discovered she had scar tissue on her heart which meant she’d had heart attacks in the past. She was in the hospital for many days—had fluid on her heart and in her lungs. Believe me when I say it was a very scary time; I prayed and prayed.

She finally got to come home but has many restrictions as to what she can and can’t do including what she eats, home health nurse and physical therapist visits, lots of medication, and doctor appointments. But she looks and sounds so much better.

Lisa drove me to all my book events and conferences. We always had so much fun together. Now I’m thrilled to be able to go to her house and have a long visit.

Life has changed in so many ways.

Since Lisa is getting better each and every day, I will get back to my writing now.

And since since Veteran's Day is coming up, I'm reminded my hubby is a 20 year veteran having served in the Seabees all over the world, including three tours in Vietnam. I'm blessed to still have him with me.



Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Another Free Book inTime for Halloween


Because this has so much to do with Halloween, I thought I'd offer it free again staring today at 8 a.m. and through November 2.

Sometimes people ask why I'd give a book away for free, but there is a very good reason. If someone likes this book, they may buy some of the others in the series. Also as more people get the book, it's status on Amazon gets better. 

Here's part of a review of Bones in the Attic:

Detective Doug Milligan’s daughter, along with her high school art group, just started to decorate an old abandoned house for Halloween, when one of the students finds a large chest in the attic with a skeleton inside. In this continuing glimpse into the lives of the Rocky Bluff Police force, this is just the first incident in a hectic week. A missing neighbor, thieves disguised as police officers, and a wild fire threatening to wipe out the town, not only keep these law enforcement individuals hustling, they also keep the reader turning pages. This is a fast-paced police procedural that kept me up well into the night.

The big reason I've been so behind is because my middle daughter has been in the hospital twice because of heart failure, two big surgeries, including open-heart surgery, she finally got to come home. Needs lots of help, fortunate her husband is there and her oldest daughter is a great help.

And of course, I have to do a lot for my husband who has a hard time getting around, is losing his sight and his memory--but for the most part in good spirits. Life has been complicated.

Marilyn, who writes this siers as F. M. Meredith

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Of Very Big Trips and Refrigerators

(NOTE : For the very first time - and hopefully the last - I am posting the same blog the same month on two different blogs, It's not because of laziness - though the idea of such idleness is seductive - it's just that (1) it's a very good blog and (2) the events herein are so big and important to my personal and my writing life that I would have said the same things just with different wording... but that's hard work, so here it is. I hope you will understand and enjoy.)

by Janis Patterson

Well, we are back from our Very Big Trip, and a Very Big Trip it was, too. Two and a half weeks cruising the Nile from Cairo to Luxor. Our ship was modest but still luxurious and only for our group, the staff eager to please, the food 4 star delicious, the accommodations more than comfortable. We were met at the airport in Cairo and when the tour ended in Luxor flow back to Cairo on a chartered plane to begin our trips home. Our ‘shore excursions’ were spectacular; even though this is my seventh (and The Husband’s eighth) trip to Egypt, we saw things we had never seen before, such as the ruins of the Hawara Pyramid of King Amenemhat III and the gloriously painted images of the foreign dignitaries in the tombs of Beni Hassan. We were accorded the rare (and almost never granted) privilege of going down into the Sphynx precinct where we could stand between the paws (almost twice as tall as I) and touch the Dream Stela of Thutmosis III. This was The Husband’s and my second time in this carefully guarded area, as before we were married my darling friend Zahi Hawass had given us permission to explore. And of course we saw the must-sees of Karnak Temple, Deir el-Bahri, Amarna, Abydos and the Ramesseum. And more.

If you would like to know more about our incredible trip, you can go to my website ( and subscribe to my newsletter, where I will write about it in more detail. Originally I intended to do just one newsletter about it, but it looks like it might become two, because my personal Trip Diary is now topping 40K words and even a truncated version will be most healthily-sized!

However... lest you think life is perfect, my life had problems. About ten days before our departure, our aged HVAC went out, for five days leaving us with no AC during the early September heat of Texas. Worse, my hot tub (a necessity for my arthritis-ridden body to exercise) died. Our similarly-aged refrigerator died. Even our landline phone needed work! We soldiered on, though - the HVAC was replaced, my wonderful hot tub man had it fixed, filled and ready for me to use when we returned, the phone was taken care of, and we had decided to leave the fridge problem for when we got back.

Then two days before departure Lufthansa cancelled our DFW/Frankfurt flight and switched us to United (meh - not my favorite airline) for DFW/Houston/Frankfurt. Well, okay... except the DFW/HOU flight was ONE AND A HALF HOURS LATE taking off, giving us just 26 minutes to get all the way across the Houston airport. We managed, though - barely - and made the HOU/FRA flight with four minutes to spare. Once we finally arrived in Cairo everything was fine.

Our return flight was not cancelled or rearranged (thankfully) but because of the screwy flight schedules we had a 14 hour layover in Frankfurt. For years and years I have insisted that Frankfurt airport is one of the seven circles of hell, and this trip just underscored my belief. Rather than book into the airport hotel, we decided to save the $250+ it would cost (saving it for our next trip in 18 months or so) and just find a comfortable customer lounge to wait in. Except we came in after midnight and landed in one of the most remote and unused terminals. The train connecting the terminals had stopped running, there were no food or drink kiosks and no customer lounges... just a small customs station which would take us out of the security area and miles of brightly lit marble halls. Oh, the AC was on full blast and it was both chilly and raining outside.

A kindly driver of one of the little electric trams in the terminal was off duty, but he volunteered to take us to an area several floors up where passengers and short-layover crews could sleep. Good on them if they could sleep there, because I barely managed a short nap. This was a hallway, a plain open hallway, with about 20-30 army-style cots. No pillows, no blankets, no nothing but a bunch of very uncomfortable cots. And no people. After the tram driver left we saw no one until after 6 am except a Japanese couple who appeared to be in the same fix we were. There was a restroom, though, some 50 yards and two hallways away. It was sort of like being in one of the grimmer Twilight Zone episodes.

Now it’s a funny story to tell. Then it was pure uncomfortable, teeth-chattering misery.

So how does this all relate to writing? It’s obvious - when you really really really want something in life (writing or anything else) you do whatever you have to do, endure whatever you have to endure in order to get it. This trip to Egypt was important to us, and whatever the gods flung at us we handled because that was the way to get what we wanted. And it was worth it. If you want to write, you must write, no matter what life throws at you. Only you can decide if your writing is a hobby you dabble in when the conditions are perfect or if it is a career where you forge on through in spite of everything. Your choice.

By the way, The Husband bought me a refurbed MacBookAir to take on this trip mainly so I could keep a comprehensive trip diary to share with my readers. I wasn’t going to write a book; I was going to take a rest, as I don’t have any contracts until January. I don’t have to tell you what happened, do I? And I’m already 8K words into a new story about a murder on a Nile cruise ship...

A final word about the refrigerator. The day after we returned we went shopping, not illogically expecting to have a new refrigerator within a couple of days. My kitchen is very bright and light, so of course I wanted a white refrigerator. We were shocked to find that all the off-the-floor ones with the features we wanted (French door, bottom freezer, ice and water in the door) are available only in stainless steel or rarely in black. Well, that’s fine for those who don’t mind looking like they live in a laboratory or a morgue, but I wanted white. Finally after a day of searching we found a place that agreed to special order a white one for us. White - a special order! (And at a cost roughly twice that of my first car!) Who would have thunk it? As you’ve probably guessed, I will do what is necessary to get what I really want, so we’ll have our new refrigerator in three weeks. I hope.

The next three weeks are going to be interesting.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Naming Characters

Giving your characters names that fit them isn't always so easy.

I'm writing what I am sure will be my last DeputyTempe Crabtree mystery, and I had to name some new characters in Tempe's world. (I thought End of the Trail would be the last one, then I wrote The Trash Harem.)

Over the years I've saved graduation programs nad the casts in various plays. Lately, I've been paying attention to the credits of TV shows--and my goodness, what a variety of names are there.

If an author is writing a book set back in time, it's important to not use modern names--for instance a Buffy, Candy, Dusty, etc.

You don't want to give away the villian by an obvious name that will pinpoint him or her--unless it's known from the start who the bad guy or gal is. 

Heroes and heroines need strong names. And I must confess, if I didn't like someone with a certain name, I'll certainly be influenced by that.

It's a good idea to try not to use names that begin with the same letter or rhyme or you'll confuse your reader.

Also try not to use names for your main characters with the same number of syllables. A variety is always better. 

Just a few tips I've learned over the years. 

Happy writing.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Weather As Character

by Janis Patterson

As you probably know, I'm out of the country now, enjoying my Very Big Trip, so I'm reprinting one of my more popular blog posts from not-too-long ago. I'll be back in October and remember, I'll be writing about the VBT in my newsletter, in case you want to subscribe! There's a sign-up box on my website. 

Picture a bright blue sky glowing with golden sunshine and dotted with friendly, fluffy clouds. Now picture dark grey looming clouds hanging so low you can almost grab a handful of them, while an icy wind scours the land with frigid teeth.

Which would you think of as setting for a lighthearted romantic comedy and which for an angst-filled mystery where terrible things lurk just under the next breeze?

Admittedly, those are two extreme examples, but weather does affect our perception of genre and tone. Now before you jump all over me crying that so-and-so did a terribly horrifying story set on a sunny beach or a rom-com in a storm-lashed castle, I will agree with you. There are always those writers who can take a trope and turn it on its head with great effectiveness. A truly skilled writer can do almost anything – as all of you skilled writers know – but the stormy rom-con and the sun-drenched murder have been done so often that they are almost tropes in themselves. 

It’s a lot harder to take a pleasant, sunny location and make it a place of crime, apprehension and horror. I say let your setting work for you – sometimes. Never do anything exactly the same way every time. Keep your reader on her mental toes. And let’s face it, it’s easier to ratchet up the tension in a dark and shadowy place where who knows what is lurking in that lightless corner we must traverse, just as it’s delightful to see the hero’s eyes crinkle in appreciation on a sunny beach. Proper use of the weather can almost turn it into a character in and of itself, and give both depth and foreshadowing to your story.

People have certain expectations and reactions to the weather. I say use them, or, if you use them in reverse, do it whole-heartedly. One of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever watched was the end of the old movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where George Peppard (a singularly interesting bit of casting) and Audrey Hepburn find the cat and declare their love in an ugly NYC alley in a pouring rain. Switch upon switch upon switch. 

On the other hand, most readers have certain expectations; I’m a firm believer that as writers, especially genre writers, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. At least, not every time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

I'm Woefully Behind


And I blame it on birthdays. We had one after another--geat grands, mine, my sister's and my hubby's/

Mine was fun and different. Grandaughter who lives with us, along with her three girls, treated me to a haircut at the beauty school where another great-granddaughter is a student. Of course, she's the one who cut my hair. She always has unusual hair--this time it was half blonde and half dark brown. After, we all had lunch at a hole-in-the wall Chinese restaurant with wonderful food. We had a great visit.

From there we went to a bakery and picked out my birthday cake which we had after dinner that night.

For hubby's birthday, first he was celebrated at church and received a miniature pie for himself. After we went to Thai Kitchen and shared our favorites.  The next day, which was his actual birthday, he received lots of phone calls, even one from one of his old Seabee buddies. They haven't seen each other for years.

I am doing a bit of writing on my new and probably last Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, but have been so busy with other tasks, I've not gotten very far.

I really thought End of the Trail would be the last one, but then I came up with the idea for The Trash Harem and just had to write it. Then my friend, who has appeared in several of the Tempe mysteries under a fictional name, has asked to be in another, with a special request, so that's what I'm working on now. 

And I supposed to be honest, I should just admit, I'm slowing down.

Happy Reading,


Wednesday, August 17, 2022


by Janis Patterson

Today as I write this (yesterday as you read this) it is my birthday. A birthday with a distressingly large number attached, which I do not intend to reveal. Let it suffice to say that instead of celebrating birthdays, I’m ready to start handing them back!

I have been working frantically to finish the new book - and it’s going to be a photo finish, I’m afraid, as I’m up to my earlobes in trying to get ready for a Very Big Trip. Sorry, no other information at the moment.

Which brings me to the subject of this sadly truncated post. Deadlines happen. Birthdays happen. Very Big Trips happen. LIFE happens, and all we can do is handle them the best we can. Sometimes it’s good enough, sometimes it isn’t. The verdict is still out on this one.

When I get back I’m going to write a good account of the Very Big Trip as a lead article for my new newsletter. If you’re interested you can subscribe by going to . I’ll even give you your choice of a mystery short story or a short romance novella. If you don’t want to subscribe, I’ll put something about the trip on my website as well. 

This trip is half vacation and half research - but then I do research on every trip we take. You never know when something is going to spark an idea or even just provide an interesting snippet of verisimilitude. 

Anyway, that’s the reason this post is so short and disjointed. Thanks for reading this far, and hopefully forgiving me. More to come...

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


My guest is J. L Greger today: 

The key questions in any newspaper article are how, what, when, why, and how. In most murder investigations, the how and what questions are answered when a dead body with bullet holes or stab wounds is found. Accordingly, most murder mysteries address the questions of who and why.

How becomes a key question in medical mysteries.

The question of how becomes important when a poison is used to kill one or more individuals. In my new mystery FAIR COMPROMISES, twenty resident in New Mexico come into clinics and doctors’ offices complaining of double or blurred vision, sagging eyelids, and headaches the day after a political rally. Public health workers quickly hypothesize the cause was botulism toxin in improperly home canned food served at the rally.

There’s just one problem. One individual’s symptoms are much more severe. She is suffering paralysis of her arms and legs and having trouble breathing. New Mexico health officials contact the FBI because that patient is a candidate for the U.S. Senate and they fear she may have been targeted. Moreover, the available botulinum antitoxin can prevent worsening of symptoms but cannot repair nerves damaged by the toxin. The Senate candidate is apt to die or be permanently disabled.

The mystery turns from being the analysis of a severe food safety breach to the investigation of a diabolical murder attempt using “cosmetic” botulism toxin when scientist Sara Almquist with the help of a talented FBI lab crew discover a more sinister source of the toxin at a health and beauty spa in Santa Fe.

A little science is needed to explain the how in this mystery.

Scientists have known for a hundred years that a bacteria (Clostridium botulinum) could grow in improperly canned vegetables and meats and produce a poison that was lethal. However, this bacteria was sensitive to acid and didn’t produce the toxin in acidic canned tomatoes and fruits. Despite the education efforts of  Cooperative Extension agents, a few home canners have continued not to use pressure cookers when canning non-acidic vegetables and have killed their relatives.

In the 1980 and 1990s, physcians discovered they could cure certain neurological conditions by injecting tiny amount amounts of botulinum toxin into spasmed muscles of patients. Scientists also figured out tiny injections of botulinum toxin would prevent the muscles contractions that caused crow’s feet around the eyes and worry wrinkles on the forehead. Thus a whole new cosmetic product line (BOTOX and other botulinum toxin products) was discovered.


After the how is answered, Sara and her FBI colleagues must discover the who and why  in this mystery. It’s not easy. The villain or villains are clever and ruthless.


Sara Almquist and her FBI colleagues rush to find who endangered the lives of a hundred attendees at a political rally by poisoning the food with botulism toxin. The poisoners’ target was a woman candidate for the U.S. Senate; the rest were just collateral damage. As these agents track clues from a veterans’ hall in Clovis, New Mexico to health spas in Santa Fe, they must make a multitude of personal and professional (perhaps too many) compromises.

FAIR COMPROMISES is available at:

Bio: J.L. Greger is a scientist turned novelist. She includes tidbits of science in her award-winning mysteries and thrillers: The Flu Is Coming, Malignancy, Games for Couples, Dirty Holy Water, Fair Compromises, and six others.


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

I'm Home After a Great PSWA Writing Conference

 No, I didn't take any pictures. Many did, however, and I'll probably "borrow" some as they get posted.

One thing I learned that kind of goes along wiht Janis Patterson's last post, is one of the publishers who spoke said that for her house they would like 3 or more books from an author a year. And her specifics for the books were 80,000 words or more. This was for the Christian Imprint for Wolfpack publishing.

Never, ever could I put out three of more books a year--not even when I was much younger.

When would the author who churns out one book after another have time to live?

I need to write one more Tempe Crabtree mystery, and I've been gathering ideas, but I have so much other stuff to do that I haven't had time for much more than that. Even though I don'thave to cook dinner anymore there are still two other meals to prepare. My husband needs my help these days. And I have other jobs that make more money than writing and need to be done as they come in.

And wwhat about just living? Chores need to be done, bills have to be paid, all the little things of life that pile up if you don't tackle them right away.

Everyone needs to take the time to be with loved ones and friends, to enjoy good conversations and read other authors books. Reading is probably what got you hooked on writing in the first place. 

Taking 6 days off to attend the PSWA Conference was wonderful. I got to see many old friends and catch up with them, and I made several new friends. The food was great everyplace we ate, and most especially the conference's spectacular lunches. The speakers were great as were the panels, and I learned a lot.

I'm still not totally unpacked--have books to put away--I'll get around to them eventually.

I will get back to writing, but have a long list to complete before I can.

Happy Writing and Reading,


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Inviolate Writing Schedules and Other Fictions

by Janis Patterson

There are those who say that the success to writing lies only in following a strict schedule. So many words per day, every day, or writing X number of hours without deviation, or... whatever. On the other hand, there are an equal number of equally fervid writers who are convinced that no good writing ever comes from being forced. One should wait for the magic touch of the muse, as anything which is worked at, which happens without fiery and flowing inspiration is unnatural and bad writing.  

Give me a break. Or two.

That said, I will admit that my writing is easier when I am in the throes of inspiration, and that I do try to write a certain number of words every day. Keywords here are 'easier' and 'try.'

Like all of life writing is uncertain. You can vow that you will write a minimum of 5,000 words a day, every single day without fail. If you can, good on you. The rest of us have lives. We have families, cars, homes, jobs... all of which seem to go maniacally wonky just at the worst times. There are things in life that should come before writing - family comes to mind first.

So - you've set a schedule and stuck to it pretty well, then something overwhelming happens and until it is resolved the writing goes out the window. Then what? Your rhythm is off. You haven't kept your word, and if you're so unreliable why go on? Obviously you aren't a real writer unless you .... whatever.

Yes, there are people who actually believe that. I look at writing schedules sort of like I do at a diet. They can be wonderful things from which you can benefit greatly. Depending on your attitude, they can also make your life miserable. If you break a diet, you don't just give up and wallow in a slough of chocolate (however delightful that might seem), you admit what happened, then pick up and go on. Or at least you should. At least, I do. Most of the time. 

Being a writer is a life and career choice - it shouldn't be a sentence. Yes, we have deadlines, and yes, if we've given our word that so-and-so will be done by such-and-such a time, we should honor it, no matter what it takes. That's a sprint, though, not a way of life. 

So am I advocating heedlessness, hedonism, laziness? No. If you are a writer, you must write. But... if you are a human, you must also live. As the Facebook meme says, Eat the chocolate, drink the wine, smell the roses. 

It's all about balance. I am a firm advocate that family comes first. Yes, you owe dedication to your craft, but you also owe dedication to your Self. And your family. And your life, however you choose to live it. But you must also be disciplined and productive in the way that is right for you.

Besides, there is a extra - if rather naughty - benefit to having a writing schedule. When something comes up that you should do, but don't really want to, but can't say no gracefully, you can always say, "I'd love to, but I haven't made my word count for today." Works every time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

I'm Busy Packing Today

I'll be headed to Las Vegas and the PSWA Conference early tomorrow morning. 

This will be my only writer's conference this year, but fortunately it's my favorite. It will be like seeing family--and there are new people coming too, so I plan to make some new friends.

The first day I'll be helping with the pre-conference workshop and giving some tips on dialogue. I also critiqued three partial manuscripts and will meet with the authors to give them some ideas about what they can do to make what they've written even better.

That evening there is a get-acquainted gathering with food and drinks available. Always fun.

The conference begins Friday morning. There are some great speakers and lots of panels. I'm on three panels--more when I get home.

There is another plus to this conference, my sister lives in Vegas, so I'll get to see her too.

While I'm gone, our son will care for my husband here at home. 

I am truly hoping to get my imagination fed so I can come up with ideas for a new Tempe Crabtree mystery.

I'll give a report when I return.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Have Neglected My Turn to Post

 And I have a lot of excuses--I've really been busy. Unfortunately, not from writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I wish that were the excuse.

No, I've had many other things I've had to get done, including caring for my husband, the most important of all. We're both up there in age which means it take me long to do most anything.

Happily, I am in good health and my brain still functions--though I confess a bit slower.

Yes, I rally want to get back to writing.

I have been doing some promoting on the Internet for my latest and I think, last Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, REVERSAL OF FORTUNE. I've nearly finished a virtual book tour--which has resulted in some sales. 

I had so much fun writing REVERAL OF FORTUNE, and using what I learned about fortune tellers in this tale. I also tied up some loosed ends, and I think I left the readers enough clues that they can imagine what happens next in the personal lives of the ongoing characters. Believe me, it is hard to leave all those people.

And I've been lamenting the fact there hasn't been many opportunities for in-person events. In the past, there were always some library events to participate in. Covid ended most of those in our part of Califonia. 

My author's life has definitely changed. 

Marilyn who also wrote the Rocky Bluff P.D. series as F.M. Meredith

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Deus Ex Machina Temptation

by Janis Patterson

Writers have been lazy for a long time, even back to the earliest days of literature and drama, like the Ancient Greeks. They weren’t so much into novels - though they did have a form of them - but they were very big into theatre. Some of their plays are still performed in their original (albeit translated) form today.

One thing, though, that does not translate well is the concept of Deus ex Machina - i.e., god in the machine. The Greeks loved multi-thread stories, and they did so love to complicate them, crossing storyline and storyline and getting everything so mixed up that the action looked like a snarl of delicate yarn after three rampaging kittens have finished playing with it. 

It got to the point where it would take another play longer than the first one to get everything unsnarled - if it could be in direct action at all - that the concept of Deus ex Machina evolved. Some god or another would come down from Olympus at the moment of maximum confusion, deliver a trenchant little homily on the fecklessness of man and sort things out with direct action. In other words, he would say ‘you go with you, and you go with you, and you are a criminal so you need to go to jail...’ etc. Morally and romantically satisfying, I guess, but really really bad drama.

These days we aren’t so big on gods coming down and meddling in our business - though at certain times I really think we could use some! - but writers have been known to substitute Great-Aunt Debbie or sweet old Professor Smith or even a talking cat for Zeus or Apollo. And that is not only a disservice to the readers, it’s a cheat, which is an insult to the reader. Worst of all, it is terribly lazy writing. Our characters need to work out their own problems in a rational and logical manner - and our readers need to see them do it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Tips for New Writers

 Recently I did some editing for a new writer and some of the problems I noted and jotted down were the following:

Character development:

Let the reader visually see the characters either through the POV character's eyes including clothing, or in the main characters case, there are ways to let the reader know how he/she looks by problems if he/she is extremely short or tall, and preferred choice of clothing--why?


How do people speak? Short sentences, clipped words, if they have an accent needs to be the same all through the book, use cliches, big words, incomplete sentences.

Dialogue tags:

Use the speaker's action, or what he does with his clothes, etc. as action tags.

Leave out the boring stuff. 


Description of what color things are--surroundings, clothing, cars, etc.


Can be important in setting a scene--good smells and bad.


Weather can add complications to the plot. 

Where the heck are they?  Give some descriptions of the scene. 


Need to have conflict to make the story interesting.

If you can change a sentence around to get out of using the word "was", do so. Makes for better writing.

Just a few things I noted while going over the chapter I was editing.

Bet you could add some other good ones.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Of Raptors and Writers

by Janis Patterson

I had a visitor this morning. As usual, I was out in the hot tub fairly early, doing my exercises. (Arthritis makes dry-land exercising both harmful and painful.) After finishing I sat in the water relaxing and drinking the last of my coffee, when there was a loud squawking of many different kinds of birds and while I watched a great hawk landed on the top of our fence. I don’t know what kind of hawk it was - as Egyptomanes The Husband and I simply call all hawks ‘Horus-birds’ - but it was definitely a hawk and a fairly large one. Even though we live close to the center of a very large city, hawks are not unknown in our neighborhood. Every so often in our secluded back yard we find evidence of a hawk’s meal - no body parts or bones, just a large circle of disarticulated feathers, rather like a fairy ring made of feathers instead of fungus. I will admit that though this is a normal and expected part of the natural world it is still unsettling.

I can see why ornithologists say birds come from dinosaurs... this beautiful specimen of Horus-bird paraded up and down a short portion of our fence, its head always moving, its ophidian gaze sweeping the entire yard with the bearing of a conqueror, all very much the pattern card of a raptor. Its attention seemed most drawn, however, to a small Indian peach tree sitting on the other side of the fence which divides the back yard from the parking area.

Suddenly there was an explosion of blue jays swooping around and screaming. There must have been at least half a dozen of them, all the brilliant blue of the male, and they were dive-bombing the preening hawk. The aerial show must have lasted a full two to three minutes before the hawk gave way and flew off. While I have not gone to investigate, I surmise that somewhere in that little Indian peach tree is a blue jay nest and do not wish to disturb the inhabitants further. The jays have nested in this area in the sixty-odd years since my parents built this house, so it is not an unreasonable theory.

So what does this digression into nature have to do with writing? The jays are each smaller and weaker than the large and powerful predator hawk, though combined they dominated him into if not submission at least to departure.

Sometimes the little guy does win, though almost never in the publishing industry. Right now I’m all incensed about Amazon’s buy-read-return for full refund policy. Amazon says it wants to provide the best experience it can for its customers/readers... but is dead silent on the experience of its writers, without whom they would have no readers.

It seems they neither realize nor care that the buy-read-return for full refund is simply straight-up theft. Now I will admit that over the years I have returned a few books - either they were misrepresented, or my sometimes unreliable arthritic fingers have mis-clicked, or some other out-of-normal circumstance, but NEVER (and I repeat, NEVER) have I bought one, read it and then returned it for credit. That’s plain dishonest. There are those who start with the first book in a series then work their way through the entire series, buying, reading completely, then returning for full credit before they repeat the crime with the next book. For those of you who say it is not a crime as Amazon allows it as part of their TOC, just remember there are legal crimes and there are moral crimes. Legal crime - maybe, maybe not. Moral crime - definitely, as it is deliberate theft from the author, who deserves to be paid for the work the serial returners are enjoying.

Apparently these people neither know nor care that what they are doing is dishonorable, or that it makes a big and often uncomfortable difference in the writer’s income. Amazon has to know, though, and honor and honesty aside, this constant full-refund bit has to be affecting their money, too - unless they are using the ‘read time’ income as a form of float, which I doubt.

So what are we as writers to do about this serial theft of our work? There are always out-and-out pirates who steal our work and give it away for free, but they’re obviously criminals... not the organization we’re trusting to sell our books for us. And I’m not ragging just on Amazon - maybe the other etailers do the same thing - I don’t know. Amazon’s buy-sell-return for full credit policy is well known and has never been a secret.

So what can be done about it? I have no idea. Amazon is the 9000 lb gorilla in the electronic book world and individual writers have no say.

But - if a handful of blue jays can protect a nest from a sizeable Horus-bird hawk by banding together, perhaps we should start talking about into banding together. If the vendors won’t protect our income, should we not at least look into what is necessary to protect our own? 

Let’s hear it for blue jays!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Promotion Experiments

 Over the last two months, I tried two different types of promotion.

The first was offering one of my books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series free for Kindle. This one attracted the most takers, and resulted in people buy other books in the series--which of course is the reason for doing this.

The second was offering one of the books in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series for .99 cents. 51 copies were purchased and soon after 3 of each of two other titles, and 2 copies of three others, and one copy of others.

And as usual, my cookbook, "Cooking for a Big Family and a Crowd" is my best seller for Kindle and in paper.

Though I haven't really done any promotion yet for the latest and last of my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, two Kindle copies have been purchased (and more since I wrote this.)

My big promotion for Reversal of Fortune isn't going to happen until June. Why? Because I have too many other things I have to take care of first.

Oh, I"ll probably mention some things about it on this blog, maybe when my turn comes again. We'll see.

In case  your interested, here's the cover:

It's following the same theme of all the other covers in the series.

Marilyn, who wrote this series as F. M. Meredith

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

MeToo Moments Develop Characters


One of the reasons I wanted to write novels was a #MeToo moment that occurred when I was a young scientist. However, I didn’t want my writing about this incident to be an exposé on sexual harassment but rather a way to show a character’s motivation. I also didn’t want to rush to write about this incident until I was an experienced author. Hence, I included the incident in my tenth novel Games for Couples.

I think you will be surprised as you learn which characters were sexually harassed in this murder mystery. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of Games for Couples: 

A biotechnology company is desperately racing to develop cultured meat products—meat made from cells in a test tube—-before their competitors. Disaster strikes. A subject in a clinical trial testing one of their new cultured meat product dies. Was his death caused by lethal compounds in the cultured meat, sabotage by a competitor, or the spite of battling couples? 

I hope that convinced you the plot is strong. Now let’s talk about Me Too moments and why they might be good writing tools.

Consider this:

Sexual harassment in the workplace is common. A 2017 poll found that 54% of American women report receiving "unwanted and inappropriate" sexual advances with 95% saying that such behavior usually goes unpunished. A number of well-publicized cases have occurred in the entertainment industry, but many have also been documented in the scientific community.

One purpose of the Me Too Movement is to highlight the difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is understanding someone else’s misfortunes from your own perspective. Empathy is understanding the plight of others by putting yourself in their shoes.

All authors struggle to engage readers by developing multi-dimensional characters. A plot is generally not believable without realistic characters. A common maxim among writers is: Don’t tell me. Show me. In essence, that’s a simplistic way of saying authors need to build empathy for their characters, not make them objects of pity.

Many Americans think sexual harassment is bad because it is painful and illegal. They forget that harassment has long-term consequences and affects many important life decisions made by women.

In Games for Couples, I tried to show how several characters developed because of MeToo moments. I hope you’ll be surprised and agree MToo moments can supply the motivation for many actions by characters.

Book at:


Bio: J. L. Greger writes is a biologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who consulted internationally. The pet therapy dog Bug in her Science Traveler Series novels is exactly like her own stoical Japanese Chin.

Marilyn Meredith says, Janet is my guest today, she's a good friend and Games for Couples is a fascinating mystery--Do give it a try.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

What Makes A Professional?

by Janis Patterson

Not long ago on another forum there was a discussion (really it wasn’t that polite, I’m just using that word because I’m a lady) about what makes a writer. A professional writer. I suppose anyone who scribbles down the idea for a book they’re going to write when they have the time or even pens a grocery list can technically be considered a writer because they have committed the act of scribing words in a line... just not, in my estimation, a professional one.

Writing is unfortunately like the other artistic professions such as musician or dancer or actor in that what seems like everyone in the world wants to do it - or more honestly, to reap the rewards for having done it - but they don’t want to put in the time and effort necessary. To them it looks easy, so they should be able to do it right out of the box, shouldn’t they? (This is when I usually start to growl...)

On the internet there is a photograph of two views of a ballerina’s feet. One side shows how they appear on stage - delicate white hose, pink toe shoes intricately tied with perky pink ribbons, feet delicately arched as she stands gracefully en pointe. On the other side is a picture of those same feet naked - blisters and raw spots, bloody band-aids, deformed toes and other horrors. This is the price ballerinas pay for those seemingly perfect moments on stage leaping apparently weightless from toe to toe.

Writing is not as physically brutal but is equally demanding in other ways. First you have to learn your craft, and for some people that is the hardest part of all. Writing a book is a lot more than writing X number of words about a series of incidents that may or may not make sense. You have to know grammar and spelling - and while editors and proofreaders are there to catch our mistakes and omissions, they are not there to do the heavy lifting. Word choice is important, for with it comes nuance, and so much of telling a good story is nuance.

Even assuming you have the soul and skills of an English teacher and can spell obscure words and place every comma correctly (an art in itself!) does not make you a writer. You have to be able to craft a story that is logical, cohesive and interesting, which is an intimidating juggling act. Understanding and properly using backstory, foreshadowing, pacing, characterization, research, character interaction and a hundred other different tools go into making a good book. These are skills which do not come automatically, no matter how much one wants to be a writer.

And don’t forget imagination, the ability to create believable, relatable worlds and populations out of little more than imagination and (in my case) caffeine. It’s amazing how many people cannot think of anything outside of the pedestrian everyday.

But writing is so simple, cry the wanna-bes. It’s just English, and I speak English. 

No, it’s not, and even having a book out there does not make you a professional, as the flood of self-published dreck flooding the internet proves. Now there are wonderful things about self-publishing - it broadens the readers’ choices, which before the self-publishing revolution were pretty much confined to what the traditional publishers thought would be profitable for themselves. Even though there are expenses to be borne, self-publishing gives the writer more money, and so many truly professional writers are expanding into this brave new world. On the other hand, it allows a bunch of ‘writers’ who should not be doing anything more than a Christmas card or a grocery list to say “See? I’m a published author.”

Desire does not equate professionalism. For confirmation, just think about someone walking into a hospital saying, “I want to be a surgeon, and I’ve watched hundreds of tv medical shows so I’m ready to do an operation now.” Perhaps an extreme example - no one dies of a badly written book - but the principle is the same.

So what does constitute professionalism? In a broad sense, control of the writerly tools - spelling, grammar, story construction - and a willingness to work, both at learning the craft and the acceptance that it is a job. No one works at a job only when they feel like it (at least, not if they want to keep their job) or their private muse graces them with the urge. No, being a professional means you work at it like any other job, which means you will miss lunches with friends and other pleasurable amenities because you are working. Writing is even more demanding, because the majority of it is done inside your brain, which means you are working pretty much all the time. 

To make it even more confusing, there are different kinds of professionalism. I know of a woman who for many years made very good money as a top-notch corporate PR person doing all kinds of writing and doing it extremely well. She has been working on a novel - the same novel - for almost nine years, and it still isn’t finished. Is she a writing professional? Definitely. She is just not a professional novelist, which is a shame, as she is a gifted wordsmith. There is more to being a novelist than just writing skills and the ability to craft a believable story.

Obviously I am finding it difficult to define exactly what makes a writer a professional novelist. Making money? That’s one metric, but a sort of shaky one; there are working novelists who turn out exquisite books but who are making little more than coffee change. There are writers who churn out undeniable schlock yet bring in the money hand over fist. Unfortunately, writing is one of those arts which is totally dependent on public acceptance and let’s face it, the public is sometimes an unreliable judge. 

Perhaps the best defining attribute of professionalism is attitude - the willingness to learn the craft and to work at it like the job it is instead of a glorified hobby. And believe me, it isn’t easy.

Friday, April 15, 2022


    You haven't seen me blogging here very often. It's a mystery to me, but lately it seems I'm more interested in writing romances. Since this is a mystery blog, I can't pretend my current romance books could be classified as mysteries.

    Still, I can share one mystery about writing. It seems many books are geared toward a younger generation. That's not me anymore. True, some older people want to escape and pretend they're younger while immersed in fiction. 

    Often I find when a book does contain an older person as a main or secondary character, the author uses depictions of people that may have been true years ago, but not anymore. It's time for some writers to look around and discover that the older people of today are not cardboard cutouts, but people much like themselves, just older. 

    Granny, Grandma, Grandpa, etc. to describe a character is missing the essence of what today's older folks are really all about. We're not all sitting around knitting, though I don't knock that hobby for those who have the talent. We're not sitting around in rocking chairs all day and imparting wisdom when called for. 

    Sure, some of our clothes don't fit like they used to, but they're not much different than anyone else's. We don't need a younger person to help with computers. We can do fine on our own.  

    Many, depending on our age, can still drive. We attend festivals, even participate at times. Some of us even know how to play instruments, such as pianos or guitars. Others decorate, paint or do repairs. We like going to Fitness Classes to stay in shape. We go out to eat when we feel like it.

    Shopping is a fun sport for many of us, though finding the right clothes to fit is sometimes a challenge. We bond with our neighbors. Some of us still have jobs, though in my case I'm retired and just write books when I feel like it. 

    Many of us own dogs or cats, even both, or birds or other animals. We like to read, watch movies and TV. Some of us even like cooking, though I admit that long ago I did, but now it bores me. Luckily, I have a hubby who likes taking over that chore. 

    Yes, some are married still, while some have lost their spouse. Others are looking for a soul mate or don't want one. Anyway, you get the picture. We're normal people, not stereotypies.     

    Now that I've had my say, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that in Found At the Pound, A Senior Romance Featuring 2 Dog Lovers, you'll find ordinary people, who just happen to be seniors. I'm also in the midst of a spinoff on one of the characters in that book.

Thanks for letting me vent a little. 

                               Morgan Mandel


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Fun Part of My Writing Life has Changed

Back in the day, I went to many writing conferences and mystery conventions. I never missed a Bouchercon or Left Coast Crime and my all time favorite smaller con, Mayhem in the Midlands, which is now defunct.

Because Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime move around, hubby and I saw a lot more of the country, visiting places we'd have never gone to otherwise.

I can't say I ever sold many books, but I always learned a lot, laughed a lot, enjoyed meeting many famous authors: Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, Wm. Kent Krueger, Lee Childs, J.A. Jance, and so many more. I made lots of friends both writers and readers, and it was so much fun to see them again at the each con.

I belonged to three Sisters in Crime groups: the Los Angeles chapter and actually visited several meetings and was the speaker at one, explaining about E-books which people weren't ready to embrace at the time. I met Naomi Hirahara there, way back before she'd done much writing. Because of this membership, I went to three  different LA Times Book Festivals.

I was one of the founding members of the San Joaquin Sisters in Crime chapters who met in Fresno. I went to as many meetings as possible and gave many presentations. Sadly, the Covid wiped out the chapter.

Nearly the same fate has befallen the Central Coast Sisters in Crime. I loved going to their meetings and staying on the coast and visiting with the friends I've made in the chapter. They've dwindled in size and are not having regular meetings though they've attempted some Podcasts. 

Other conferences that were planned were cancelled because of Covid, and now some, but not all, are being revived.

Sadly, I won't be going for many reasons: I can't afford the expense of the conference and the hotel to stay in and another biggie, I no longer fly.

There is one writer's conference I do still attend and that's the Public Safety Writers Association annual conference. They had one last year even though none of the other cons had been revived. It was small but wonderful. (My daughter is willing to drive me there and she helps out with the book sales.) I'm signed up for this year: if you're interested. There is also a very inexpensive workshop before the conference, and the first night's reception and all the conference lunches are included in the price. 

And i guess I should admit one of the big reasons I haven't mentioned yet, is I'm just getting old.