The Freedom to Write

Today I shared a Fourth of July meditation about freedom and the writer over at the Classic and Cozy blog:

https://classicandcozybooks.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-freedom-to-write.html

 

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The Edisto Retreat

I love the beach!

I love taking long walks on the sand, dabbling my feet in the water, sitting on the porch sipping coffee or something stronger, depending on the time of day, lazing in the sun, and just relaxing.

Admittedly it’s not as relaxing when you go with a family that includes your husband, your sister-in-law, two of your children, their spouses, and their kids (three in one case, two in the other). But it makes for a grand and glorious time, with plenty of family interaction and all sorts of interesting things happening.

Plus you get these scenes:


Moonlight over the ocean.

Both pictures were taken by my daughter, Elizabeth Thompson

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Visitors from England

My son moved to England almost fifteen years ago now. He’d gone over to Wales to work on a degree in Writing and while there met the woman who would become his wife. After she finished her degree, they moved to Oxford when he was offered a job at Osprey Publishing.  They now have two children, Freya, three, and James, ten months.

I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, but they were here for several weeks in May.  We went to the beach and a few other places during that time.  Here are a few pictures.

 

   

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Carolina Crimes: 21 Tales of Need, Greed and Dirty Deeds, anthology sponsored by the Triangle Sisters in Crime chapter

Coming July 31 from Down and Out Books is a new anthology from the Triangle Sisters in Crime chapter titled, Carolina Crimes: 21 Tales of Need, Greed and Dirty Deeds.  I’m excited to announce that I have a story in this anthology.

“Dead Man’s Hand” isn’t exactly the story I set out to write when I heard about this anthology. But through multiple rounds of editing it morphed from a bit of a disorganized tale of family dysfunction into a story about how well one spouse knows their partner and the way little things can reveal truths covered up bigger things.

When Caroline’s husband is found dead in his home, all the evidence points to suicide. But Caroline knows it wasn’t. It’s not that she doesn’t believe he would kill himself, but she is quite sure that if he had, he would’ve left her a long list of instructions about what to do. That was George’s way.

Because he obviously knew his killer, there are only a few possibilities, and Caroline is determined to learn who did it.

Here’s a quick sneak peek:

Caroline ‘s hand shook as she stuck the key in the door of her home. She hadn’t been inside since that hideous night a week ago, when she’d found her husband’s body on the floor of his office. The police had kept her out while they investigated his death.

Emptiness echoed through the place as she walked in, the silence louder than her footsteps on the hardwood floor of the hall.

She stopped for a moment in the kitchen. She’d have to clean out the refrigerator, replace all the staples, sort through the accumulated mail, do laundry. The white board over the desk caught her eye. It bore a note from George reminding her to pick up his gray suit from the dry cleaner. He must’ve written that between the time she’d left to go shopping and his death a few hours later. A tidal wave of grief washed over her, blotting out everything else. What was the point of doing anything with George gone? She dropped into a chair and cried, letting the tears flow in a way she hadn’t been able to while staying with her sister-in-law.

When the spasm wore out, she blew her nose, and sat up straight.. Before anything else, she needed to face the hardest test, to go back into George’s office.

She steeled herself and opened the door. The strange aroma that she’d smelled in her dreams since that night lingered—gunpowder, blood, excrement—and there was something new, a chemical tang. Nausea surged through her. She covered her mouth and made herself survey the dark stains on floor and wall.

When she’d had all she could take, she backed out quickly. Everything else could wait until the cleaners who specialized in crime scenes had done their job. She retreated to the living room and sank into the couch. George had handled all the financial things, not just because he didn’t want to talk about the cost of his gambling, but because he was also a control freak and it made him nervous to leave it to anyone else. Before his death, she’d lived with the stress of his gambling addiction. When he locked himself in the office for hours, when he refused to discuss their finances, she’d tried to convince herself it was all right. He gave her a generous allowance and the credit cards were never refused; no bill collectors ever called. Now, not only did she have to grieve for the man she still loved, she had to come to grips with how he died.

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Why Do I Torture Myself?

Marilyn and family at home.

Despite all my positive words about how much I love writing and doing blog tours, as I’m working on this tour, I realize how time-consuming and mind rattling it really is.

Because I have this great compulsion to hurry up and get things done, instead of only doing a bit at a time, I find that impossible. When a big job like putting together a blog tour is on my to-do list, nothing will do except to get busy and tackle it.

And it’s not just blog tours, it’s any big project that I have on my list. Oh, I didn’t mention my list before?  I’ve always kept a list and it has on it everything I need to do, from the most mundane to my writing projects. I didn’t realize what a compulsion that is until my great-granddaughter who is four and likes to copy things I do, came to show me her list. Her mother helped her write it. She had a lot more fun things to do on hers than I have on mine like visit Trinity, tumbling class, watch her favorite TV show.

Frankly, I won’t be able to relax until all my blog posts are sent out to my hosts along with a picture of the cover and one of me. Then I probably won’t relax, but I can work on something else until the time comes for the tour to begin.

Since this post is nearly at the end of the tour, by the time you read this, I’ll nearly be through.
I hope everyone who follows along will either be entertained, learn something new about me or my writing, and/or be intrigued enough to want to read either the new book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Unresolved, or one of the earlier ones.

Do any of you other authors keep lists and have a compulsion to hurry up and finish what’s on your list?

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

#13 in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, Unresolved Blurb:

Rocky Bluff P.D. is underpaid and understaffed and when two dead bodies turn up, the department is stretched to the limit. The mayor is the first body discovered, the second an older woman whose death is caused in a bizarre manner. Because no one liked the mayor, including his estranged wife and the members of the city council, the suspects are many, but each one has an alibi.

Copies may be purchased from Book and Table by emailing bookandtablevaldosta@gmail.com with a 10% discount and free shipping as well as all the usual places.

Bio: F. M. Meredith lived for many years in a small beach community much like Rocky Bluff. She has many relatives and friends who are in law enforcement and share their experiences and expertise with her. She taught writing for Writers Digest Schools for 10 years, and was an instructor at the prestigious Maui Writers Retreat, and has taught at many writers’ conferences. Marilyn is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com
Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/marilynmeredith

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Getting Back to the Blog

My blog has been sadly neglected for way too long. Lots of excuses – family visiting, an unexpected overload of work, the temptation of the garden, a pile of contest books and chapters to read and grade. They’ve all seemed like higher priorities than keeping up the blog.

But I’ve made a resolution to do better. Expect to hear more from me in the near future. I’ll have some guest posts as well!

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Container Gardens – Authors In Bloom Blog Hop

This post is part of the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop. Read to the bottom to see how you can enter to win a number of great prizes!

As part of the hop, I’m supposed to offer a garden or cooking tip. I’m not much of a cook, nor a great gardener, though I enjoy the latter far more than the former.

In the last couple of years I’ve discovered the joys of container gardening – planting a variety of flowers and foliage in large pots that sit on my patio where I can see them easily through the French doors in the kitchen.

I still do plant in the ground, especially out along the fence in the back yard, but I find myself doing more an more containers these days. They require more attention since they have to be watered almost daily in our hot Southern summers, but the pleasure they supply more than compensates.

I’ve found that it pays to get the best possible potting soil, usually a brand that includes plant food mixed in for you containers. Then a mix of plants that look good together in the pot. I like to have one central tall, striking plant, a few lower ones around it, and some that trail over the side. It can be a good idea to consult with the people at the garden center for advice on what plants would do well with each other. My patio has sections that get full sun and another area that is in partial shade. Some plants don’t do well in one of the area, but will thrive in the other. The geraniums love the full sun, but the impatiens prefer the shady areas, so they never go in the same pots.

I also prefer to buy plants that have already started blooming for this purpose, so I can be sure that the flower colors will complement each other rather than clash.

This post is brought to you by most recent romantic suspense release. In, Hunter’s Quest, Kristie Sandford’s vacation is interrupted when a man jumps out in front of her car. She avoids hitting him, but when she stops to see if he’s hurt, he demands she help him escape from the people chasing him. Kristie has an odd “gift”-she occasionally gets warning messages, and she gets one saying he needs her help or he’ll die.

Jason Hunter is an SBI (N.C. State Bureau of Investigation) agent working on his own time searching for a friend, an investigative reporter who disappeared while tracking down rumors of corruption in the bureaucracy of a small, North Carolina mountain town. Jason is grateful to Kristie for rescuing him, but dubious when she insists she has to continue helping him. Kristie is attracted to Jason, but the edge of danger she senses in him reminds her too much of the abusive family she escaped as soon as she could. Still, the message said he’d die if she didn’t help him, and the messages have been right before.

Order from Amazon

How to win prizes:

First, I’m offering three free ebook copies of Hunter’s Quest to commenters. Also anyone who signs up for my newsletter will get extra chances to win a copy.

Hop Grand Prize: Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prizes – a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) along with a 2nd prize of $25 gift card. . Eligibility will be verified by hop’s end. Winners will be posted on both the first (Dianne Venetta) and last (BloominThyme) websites.

NOTE: Be sure to leave your email address in you comment so we can get in touch with you if you’re a winner!

Other Participating Blogs:



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Contest Alert

I’ve teamed up with more than 45 fantastic women sleuth mystery authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner! You can win my novel A Gift for Murder, plus books from a variety of other authors. Enter the giveaway by clicking here or on the graphic below

Good luck, and enjoy!

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A Tuesday Treasure Post

erasersI did a guest blog post at Pam’s Wild Rose Blog for her #TuesdayTreasures feature. Check out my unusual souvenir collection.

http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/tuesdaytreasures-guest-post-by-karen.html

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There’s Always Another Rung on the Ladder

When I first began writing seriously, many years ago, I dreamed of being published. That was the goal, the Grail, the thing all my effort was directed at. Then in 1988, I got “the call” from Avalon Books. The editor wanted to buy a novel I’d written. This wasn’t the first novel I wrote. It wan’t the second or third or fourth either. It was the sixth.  I made a few small changes the editor suggested, and I got a contract.

The book came out in 1990. By the time it was released, I’d sold a second book to them. I thought I had it made. I’d sell a few more books to Avalon and then I’d move on to a bigger publisher with bigger advances and wider distribution. I did in fact sell a couple more books to Avalon, but then the editor I was working with left and the new editor wasn’t as enamored of my writing.

But I planned to move on to bigger things anyway. At least that was the plan. The reality was that I had four teenagers living at home and a full-time job. There was no writing time. When I finally did have the time, the publishing industry had moved on without me and I was basically starting all over again.

It was hard. The track record I had was too old to impress agents and editors. I did eventually gain some traction just by my writing. Since then I’ve sold books to three New York publishers. One of them shut down the line before my book came out; one of them was bought out by another company that shut down the line; and finally I sold a mystery to Five Star, which brought out the first book in my Market Center Mysteries series, then shut down the mystery line while the second book was in the editorial process. It’s not an unusual story in this business.

By the standards of an unpublished author, just starting out, I’ve had considerable success in publishing, with something like a dozen or so novels and novellas published by companies large and small. I’ve had books released in hard cover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and ebook. I’ve won a few awards and been a finalist in quite a few contests, including some fairly prestigious ones.

Do I feel like a success? Heck, no. I’ve never had a book go into widespread distribution. Meaning I’ve never seen my book in an airport bookstore or the grocery store book rack. I’ve never gotten a five-figure advance. I’ve never made a bestseller list.

And when I look at it objectively, it’s pretty ridiculous. I’ve had all those books published. I’ve won awards. I’ve gotten a lot of good reviews and positive feedback. I haven’t earned a fortune, but I’m made some money on my books.

But what I have come to realize after twenty-some years as a published author is that success is all in how you define it. The business is like a ladder more than it is like a platform. There are lots of rungs and lots of levels. There are always some below you and some above you. Even for the unpublished who are trying to sell their book, there are the many writers who’ve never finished one, who are below them on the ladder. Only you can decide which achievements spell “success” for you.

I’ve decided to try to remind myself of all that I have achieved and how successful that looks to many others. I’ve worked hard for that success. I’ve shed tears for it and spent countless hours at the keyboard banging out stories I was never sure anyone else would read. But others have read them. Many have paid to read them. And that’s good enough for me.

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