Saturday, September 29, 2012


Last Saturday, the Autumnal Equinox, Susan and I spent the day attending and exhibiting our wares at the Sonoma County Book Festival, in a public square in downtown Santa Rosa, California. The weather was  perfect: a bright blue sky, and the air warm but not scorching. The staff running the show were friendly and helpful. We enjoyed getting to know some of our fellow exhibitors, and it was, as always, a pleasure to show off our Perseverance Press mysteries. 

We’ve done a lot of exhibiting at trade shows and book fairs over the years. We’ve displayed at ABAs and BEAs all over the country, we participated in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for its first ten years. We showed at the Santa Barbara book fair, and early in our company history we even organized that event for two years running. We’ve had tables at Left Coast Crimes and Bouchercons.
Why do we do this?
It ain’t cheap. The cost of a space is substantial, and then there’s the equipment rental cost. (Oh? You wanted to put your books on a table? That’ll cost…) Plus travel expense, plus lodging.
So far we’ve never sold enough books at any book fair to make back our investment. (At the trade shows, you don’t sell any books on the floor.) I won’t tell you how many books we sold at the Sonoma County Book Festival last week, because I don’t know the number. I do know how much cash we took in, and I won’t tell you that number because I don’t want to.
But we had fun. We took turns strolling around and looking at the wares and services on display by other vendors. A lot of one-book self-publishers. Some religious cult publishers. A staff member of Pathfinder Press tried to enroll me in the Communist Party. There was a small press who specialized in books about vampires, Satan, and gore. There was a publisher of exquisitely written and illustrated children’s books; Susan bought a book from them (Barefoot Books) for one of our granddaughters.
It was our (good/bad, you decide) luck to be positioned next to a poetry slam in the midafternoon.
Most of all, we enjoyed talking to those several people who stopped by to chat about books. Our books, and books in general. And best of the best of all, occasionally after such a conversation somebody reached into a pocket and pulled out money. Books and smiles for money and smiles: an exchange remarkably like romance.
But there comes a time at every one of these events, usually late in the afternoon, when there’s a lull in the traffic and we’re tired of standing and tired of sitting and tired of smiling at looky-loo passersby, when one of us will turn to the other and say, “We’ll never do this again.”
And then somebody who was at the table hours ago will return, and buy a book, or another copy of a book she’s already bought.
And later, after we’ve packed up our wares and left the show, as we lift our glasses in a nearby bar and grill, one of us will turn to the other and say, “When we come back next year, let’s…”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Visit with Marilyn Meredith

This post is a visit with my friend, prolific mystery author Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn has a lot to say about writing in general (where plots come from, for example), and she has a lot to tell us about Deputy Tempe Crabtree and her mountain community of Bear Creek. Marilyn Meredith has a great sense of place! And as she well knows, the most intriguing feature of any place, factual or fictitious, is its people.

So take a moment and get to know Marilyn Meredith. And if you haven’t already read her books, get busy! She has a new one out now, set in Bear Creek and featuring Deputy Tempe Crabtree.

Marilyn, I’ll turn this over to you…

Revisiting Deputy Tempe Crabtree

People often ask, “How can you keep writing about the same characters?” They are referring to the characters who inhabit the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, and I have an easy answer.

Tempe, her husband, Pastor Hutch and all the people who live in the mountain community of Bear Creek are real to me. When I finish writing one book about them I begin wondering what is going to happen to them next. And the only way to find that out is to revisit them by writing the next book.

Before I begin, I often think about what was going on the last time I visited. What time of year it was and if there was anything happening that I need to find out more about. As I’m putting my mind back into Bear Creek I begin to see the town as it is with the CafĂ©, the Inn, the Fire Station, the trailer park and the cluster of low rent houses. Hutch’s church is located a bit farther up the highway.

Because life is a serious of dilemmas (at least mine seems to be) I wonder what crisis may hit Bear Creek and some of the people who live there.

Often my story telling is influenced by events that really happened to people I know. Because we had what I thought were two suspicious deaths a few years back—two friends who were found dead in their respective homes on the same morning that were determined to be from natural causes with no investigation at all—I decided Tempe should get involved in something similar.

Weather is often an important element in the mountains and since this story began to evolve a couple of weeks after Christmas, I knew an unrelenting rainstorm would not only complicate the murder investigation but also the lives of everyone living in and around Bear Creek as the river began to flood.

A non-writer may not be able to understand how exciting it is to have all the parts of a new story begin to fill your mind and then the pages of the manuscript. When I’m writing about Tempe and everyone in Bear Creek, I feel like I’m home and among friends—except for the bad guy, whoever that might be.

Want to know more about Marilyn's community of Bear Creek? Check this out!

A bit about the latest, Raging Water: Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation of the murder of two close friends is complicated when relentless rain turns Bear Creek into a raging river. Homes are inundated and a mud slide blocks the only road out of Bear Creek stranding many—including the murderer.

Contest: The person who leaves comments on the most blogs will have his/her name used for a character in my next book—can choose if you want it in a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery or a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel.

And now, meet the author!

Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Raging Water from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is No Bells, the fourth from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and follow her blog at

I know there are some people who like to read a series in order, but let me reassure you that every book is complete. Though the characters grow through each book, the crime is always solved. Here is the order of the books for anyone who wants to know: Deadly Trail, Deadly Omen, Unequally Yoked, Intervention, Wing Beat, Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire, Kindred Spirits, Dispel the Mist, Invisible Path, Bears With Us, Raging Water.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Three Rites of Passage

Life stories are made of turning points, which in many cases are also rites of passage, those turning points that everyone in a shared culture is familiar with, either by direct experience or by common hearsay.
And since a lot of fiction is to some extent autobiographical—inspired by the authors’ own life stories and turning points—rites of passage are a common ingredient of our novels and short stories.
To illustrate this point, here are three experiences I’ve had during my life, which I call not only points of change, but also rites of passage.

1. In 1959, when I was seventeen, I had my first summer romance. I was working for a hotel in South Texas, and I fell in love with a nineteen-year-old waitress. This thrilling summer fling was a breakthrough for me. Fortunately for me, the fling ended with the summer, and nobody got in any trouble. I went off to my senior year in boarding school with some sweet memories and some bragging rights.

2. In June 2010, I attended the 50th reunion of my class at that boarding school where I had been cheerfully incarcerated for four of my teenage years. I went to this class reunion with considerable trepidation, because I expected that all my old friends and classmates would have by this time become world leaders, academic geniuses, and powerful lawyers who drove Lexuses. I, on the other hand, had spent the past 50 years studiously underachieving. I was afraid that at this gathering I would be barely acknowledged, that I would stammer in every conversation, and I might drink too much to quell my nerves, and then I’d throw up in chapel.
Turns out I got along just fine with my old gang. The only person who was in the least competitive was me, and the only person I was competing with was myself, and once we got over that, we had a great time.

3. The following year I had a book published, Behind the Redwood Door. Having a book published was not new to me, so that wasn’t the rite of passage. The rite of passage I experienced in 2011 was a relatively new one in our culture: I joined Facebook. I learned and practiced the art of blatant self-promotion and social networking via the Internet.
This passage was not an easy one for me. I’d been raised to be modest, no matter how brilliant I thought I was. My public motto has always been “Aw, shucks.” But I felt I owed some BSP to my indie publisher, Oak Tree Press, so I bit the bullet. I joined Facebook. I also did an email blitz; I created and maintained a blog, visited the blogs of my colleagues, and participated in an exhausting blog tour. Signings. Conferences. Panel discussions. But the big one was joining Facebook, something I’d sworn never to do.
The big promo for Behind the Redwood Door is over, but I still check out Facebook once a day.

So there they are, three rites of passage: a summer romance, a 50th reunion, and joining Facebook. The reason I clump these three rites of passage together is because they all drive the plot the novel I’m currently writing.
In the novel, Kit Sawyer, a has-been popular folksinger in his late sixties, is trying to make a comeback. His domestic partner (Kit’s bisexual, and in a committed relationship with another man) is running this campaign, and he persuades Kit to get on Facebook. Kit does so, reluctantly, and then discovers there’s an audience for his new recordings among his classmates from boarding school. He’s lured into returning to the school for the 50th reunion, mostly because of what else he learns through Facebook. What is that? It involves an affair he had—his first affair—with a sassy and pretty housekeeper at a Colorado dude ranch, back in 1962, when Kit was twenty years old.
How do these rites all intersect in the plot of my novel? I won’t tell you any more, partly because I don’t want to give away any surprises, but more because I’m only halfway through my first draft, and my characters have the irritating but charming habit of making their own decisions, so I’m sure to be surprised myself.

One thing I’ll make clear now: I’m not a bit like Kit Sawyer, and the events in my novel are entirely fictitious. But I do confess that had I not had a summer romance in South Texas in 1959, if I had not attended my 50th school reunion, and if I had not joined Facebook in the fall of 2011, I wouldn’t be writing this novel.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


For this month’s invitational blog post, I invited writers to imagine going to a familiar place and being surprised to meet someone they hadn’t seen in a long, long time. The stories I received are posted below.
For next month, here’s the assignment and the challenge: write a Halloween story. Anybody reading this is welcome to submit a story. Send it to me as an email. My email address is The deadline is October 1, 2012.
As usual, your story must be 99 words long, and it must be a real story. What does that mean? In a real story, something has to happen to somebody. Somebody needs to change. And remember: a story needs conflict.
So when you write your Halloween story, make it scary. Don’t just write about having fun dressing up and eating candy. Surprise us. frighten us! Use your wild imagination and have fun! Believe in magic, and don’t be afraid of the dark.

Now, as promised, here are the stories submitted for this month, on the theme of chance encounters…


by Marie Rose Elias

Fondest memories of childhood are  times at my grandparents’ house “in the country.” 
Grandpa came to Brooklyn before dawn to drive the lot of us out there. The trip was long, and he never drove over thirty miles an hour. Cookouts, the beach, and our cousins awaited.… We endured  watching the sunrise over the woods on Route 27. 
One early morning cars parked were up to the lawn, down the road, and around corners on both sides. Tumbling from the Comet we saw every one of our cousins, aunts, uncles! 
All thirty-seven first cousins together!
Let’s party!


By Denise Dreany

The leaves had turned red in Algonquin Park.  The sky was as blue as I remembered and I could smell the sharp pine.
Along the shore of the lake I saw my father skipping stones.
“Dad,” I asked.  “Why did you leave us?” 
We talked for a long time.
“Who was that with you on the streets of that stark Ontario town?”
The stars came out and time flickered like the northern lights of my childhood.  We sat by a fire and roasted potatoes as we used to.
“Dad,” I asked, “were you happy?”


by June Kosier

I was at the church I attended as a little girl. As I was saying a prayer, my father arrived.
“Dad, what are you doing here?  You never went to church except when I received one of the sacraments.”
“Those were very special times and I wanted this day to be one also.”
We talked and then he said goodbye and left.
I woke up to remember that the church is gone, sold by the diocese and torn down to build a grocery supercenter. And Dad had been dead for twenty years.  
Yet, it was a very special day.


By Jerry Giammatteo

 I haven’t eaten here since school,” I told my wife, entering the Gray Wolf, near St. John’s University. Actually, I drank more than ate following basketball games and exams.
She walked in with her husband. It had been years. We had been close; not romantically, but she was funny and we made one another laugh. Until we had a falling out. 
 “They let anybody in nowadays,” she said and we laughed.
An after-dinner drink; more laughs. We exchanged email addresses. She turned serious. “What happened,” she asked?
“I don’t remember,” I said.
Staying angry is a waste, isn’t it?