Today my guest is author, F. M. Meredith. Earlier in the week, I reviewed her mystery novel, An Axe to Grind.
Marilyn has agreed to answer some questions about her writing life.
1. What writing organizations do you belong to?
I think I’m a writing organization junkie. I belong to four chapters of Sisters in Crime (San Joaquin, Central Coast, L.A. and the Internet Chapter.) I’m also a member of Mystery Writers of America, Writers of Kern (chapter of California Writers Club), Epic, and Public Safety Writers Association.
2. What advantages do you see to belonging to these organizations?
There are various reasons depending upon the organization. I have friends in all the Sisters in Crime chapters. I’ve gotten ideas for books from attending my local chapter meetings and I often do events with the Central Coast chapter as well as the L.A. chapter. Mystery Writers of America offers a lot of information that I might not get elsewhere. Writers of Kern has generously had me as a speaker for the group several times. Epic is the international organization for electronically published writers. I’ve been e-pubbed since before anyone knew what that meant. I’ve learned a lot from that group and attended nearly all of their conferences around the country and been a workshop leader.
I’m the conference chair for PSWA and as such have met and become friends with the most interesting people in all areas of law enforcement and other public safety fields.
3. Why do you enjoy writing mysteries?
Mysteries are what I read. I like figuring out a puzzle that I hope others will enjoy following. I also like to write about people and how what happens to them and others affects their lives. Another big reason, is I have some control over the worlds I write about—and none whatsoever in the world I live in.
4. You use different pen names for the different series you write, Why did you choose to do this?
When I began writing the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, I used the male point-of-view so much, I thought men would be more apt to buy the books if you couldn’t tell I was a woman. Then the publisher put my photograph on the back of the book, so it was done for nothing. I’ve continued to use F. M. Meredith for this series because it seemed logical.
5. You have more than one series. What is your technique for keeping the characters organized?
In an Axe to Grind, there is an ensemble of characters. Different characters have bigger parts in each book. The last couple have focused a lot on the romance between Detective Doug Milligan and Vice Officer Stacey Milligan, though the main plot is always about the crime. I have 3 X 5 cards with information about each of the characters, major and minor, for both series.
In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Tempe is always the main character and the story is told through her.
6. What do you do to ensure your settings in the different series don't blend or become confused?
Though both settings are small towns, they are very different. Rocky Bluff is a beach town in Southern California and close to two large big cities, Ventura and Santa Barbara. In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, the setting is a small mountain community and its surroundings, including an Indian reservation. Bear Creek is a much more rural environment than Rocky Bluff.
7. In An Axe to Grind, you have a number of Hispanic characters. What research have you done to be sure of authenticity in these ethnic characters?
I don’t really have to do research for Hispanic characters. I have a son-in-law who is Hispanic and now many grand and great grandchildren with this heritage. I also have a daughter-in-law who is Native American and grand and great grandchildren from this marriage. For several years I worked in day care’s with a majority of Hispanic children, and once I was the only non-Hispanic teacher. I also had a Camp Fire group for ten years with girls of all sorts of ethnic backgrounds.
8. What is your marketing plan for An Axe to Grind?
Besides this blog tour, I’ve already been to one writing conference, spoken to a writer’s group, sold books at a craft fair, and I have two book launches planned, one in my little town in a bakery-deli, and one in the nearest city at a used book store. Also on my calendar is a joint booksigning with other mystery authors on the coast, several craft and book fairs, and another writing conference, and two mystery conventions.
9. What was your process for locating your publisher?
The Rocky Bluff series has had four publishers. When the last publisher decided to close the business, I approached Oak Tree Press with the next in the series, No Sanctuary. I’d met the publisher, Billie Johnson at the Public Safety Writers Association’s conference several times. She read the manuscript and offered me a contract.
10. Where can readers learn more about your work?
On my website, http://fictionforyou.com are all my books along with their first chapters and how to order them.
My blogs http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/ and
Stiletto Gang: http://thestilettogang.blogspot.com/
11. Any tips for writers wanting to break into the mystery genre?
First, read the kind of mysteries you’d like to write. Learn as much as possible about the writing craft. There is a wealth of material on the Internet. Read books about writing. Go to writers’ conferences. Join a critique group. Write, write, write. Then polish your manuscript. Have someone go over it who knows something about mysteries and writing. Whether submitting to an agent or publishing house, follow the guidelines exactly. Once you’ve sent off your work, get started on the next book.