My guest today is F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn is the author of over thirty published novels—and a few that will never see print. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is No Bells. Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional beach community between
and Ventura and F. M. once lived in a similar beach area. Santa Barbara
Marilyn is a member of
EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves as the program chair for the Public Safety Writers of America’s writing conference. She’s been an instructor at many writing conferences. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Welcome, Marilyn. It’s always a pleasure to have you drop by my little corner of cyberspace. I’ve asked you to discuss your writing routine, and I’m excited to learn how you do it. You are a true inspiration and roll model.
Thanks, Anne. First, I think I should tell how I go about writing a new book. I’m always on the look out for ideas for both of my series. For the Rocky Bluff P.D. series I collect stories from the newspaper and Internet about interesting crimes, especially those that happen in a small town, and if it’s a beach community all the better.
I begin putting the ideas together, trying to figure out a plot. Because No Bells focuses on Officer Gordon Butler who started out as a minor character and began getting more and more importance as time went on, I figured it was time to give Gordon a starring role.
One part of his persona is that nothing ever seems to go quite right for him. He’s wrecked brand new police cars, arrested the son of a Rocky Bluff dignitary, his wife ran off with his training officer, and he fell for fellow Officer Stacey Wilbur who only had eyes for another.
Because it’s fun to give Gordon the worst calls to investigate, I asked my friends of the Public Safety Writers Association to give me some ideas. A former police officer gave me a great idea, and when you read No Bells you won’t have any trouble figuring out what it was.
Though I already know my main characters names and personalities, new characters are introduced. This means finding exactly the right name and knowing enough about each person to make them credible. Once I’ve got all that, I’m ready to begin.
I always keep a timeline so I know what happens each day--it’s too easy to forget where you are when you really get involved in the writing. (At least it’s too easy for me to forget.)
Mornings are the best time for me to write when my brain is fresh. I have to confess, though, I usually check my email before I begin. If I don’t have too many interruptions, I’ll write for three hours or four hours. Yes, I get up and do other things at times, like move the laundry along, answer the phone, talk to my husband. Fortunately, I have no trouble getting right back to work after an interruption.
I seldom continue writing after lunch. I might do some research and editing, but usually I get busy with other things. Because I write two series, I’m often promoting one series while writing the new one in the other.
My critique group is the first to see the new chapter of any book. They are invaluable for finding mistakes, telling me what doesn’t work and pointing out holes in the plot. I always rework the chapter the next morning.
Once they’ve critiqued the whole book and I’ve done the editing from what they’ve said, I print out the whole book and do another edit, often more than once.
When I think it’s ready, I send it off to my publisher. As it gets close to publishing time, she’ll edit, sometimes telling me something she doesn’t like and would like me to change—which I will. Once the galley proofs are sent to me, that’s the last chance to find any typos or needed changes. I’ll put a galley proof in front of anything else I’m doing.
My writing usually is done during the week, sometimes Saturday. It doesn’t always go smoothly. I always stop for the day in the middle of a scene so I always can pick right up where I left off.
And that’s more or less my writing routine.
Excerpt from No Bells:
GORDON BUTLER AWOKE to the blues’ riff that signaled a call coming in from his girlfriend, Benay Weiss. He squinted at his digital clock. Tuesday, his day off.
Yawning, he flipped open the phone. Before he could say anything, Benay sobbed, “Geri is missing.”
He sat up. “What?”
“My best friend, Geri Rowe. She disappeared.”
“How do you know?”
Benay sounded near hysterics. “Her husband just called to find out if she might be here with me. She isn’t.”
“Did they have a fight?”
“He just said she didn’t come home last night.”
Gordon switched into police mode. “You two are so close. Did she say anything about marital problems?”
“Nothing new. Gordon, I’m so scared for her.”
“Has her husband reported her missing?”
“I don’t think so. He was going to call her relatives next to see if they’d heard from her.”
“He should make a report. Nothing will be done until she’s gone for 24 hours. They’ll want to make sure she didn’t just leave on her own.”
“She wouldn’t have done that without telling me. Gordon, we share everything. We’ve been friends since high school. I was her maid-of-honor at her wedding.”
“Do you want me to come over?”
She didn’t answer for a long while. “No. Philip said he’d call me back in a little while.”
“I’ve got the day off. I could spend it with you.”
“No. I have to work. I’m so worried about Geri, she’s all I can think about. I’ll call you if I hear anything from her.”
Gordon knew if something bad had happened to Benay’s friend, he’d hear about it first. “Chances are she’s okay.”
“I hope so.” She hung up.
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Saturday morning, Officer Gordon Butler approached the scene of his first call of the day, a body found by teens in the nearly dry stream bed running along the rocky bluff that gave the beach town its name
Parking his blue-and-white police car, Gordon climbed out. He surveyed the area, trying to find the young people who’d called in their gruesome find. A forest of native oaks, junipers as well as tall eucalyptus and clusters of evergreen shrubs blocked the view of the place where the body reportedly had been discovered. The strong scent of the eucalyptus overpowered the saltiness of the ocean drifting in on a slight breeze. He inhaled deeply and detected the sweet, sickening odor of decaying flesh.
No Bells Blurb:
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.
CONTEST: The person who comments on the most blogs on my tour will win three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series: No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost. Be sure and leave your email too, so I can contact you if you are the winner.
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Thanks, Marilyn. No Bells is going on my TBR list, and I’m looking forward to joining you on the Mystery We Write Blog Tour that begins April 16.
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