The Blog Tour, Day # 12: Marilyn Meredith

December 5th, 2011

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Bears With Us from Mundania Press.

Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Angel Lost, the third from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was a writing instructor for Writers Digest School, Maui Writers Retreat, and many writing conferences.

So naturally, I wanted to know how she does it.

What’s your writing routine?  Why does it work for you?

Mornings are the best time for me to write—the earlier the better. I sit down at the computer and begin. When I know I’m getting tired and it’s time to quit, I always stop in the middle of a scene so I know exactly where I’m going when I start the next day. I like to accomplish things—it makes me feel good. If I can write four or five pages a day, I’m happy. The only thing that gets in the way is all the other things I have to do as a writer—promotion takes a lot of time. (I’m also a wife and run my home, so I have to take care of other stuff from time to time.) From writing for blogs like this one and my own, posting on Facebook so people know I’m still here, and the many in-person things I do, it’s all time I can’t spend writing on my manuscript. While I’m writing, I’m reading a chapter a week to my critique group (one I’ve belonged to for nearly 30 years) and I think of the members as my first editor. Once that’s done I’ll edit again—and again. For my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series I have a great editor at Mundania who then sends me her input.

How do you develop your ideas?  Do you plot in advance or write by the seat of your pants? Once again, how did you evolve this approach and why does it work for you?

Because I write two series, I already know my main characters. In my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, I look for a crime that might happen in a mountain community or on the Indian reservation. If I can find one, I like to include an Indian legend which sometimes gives me the title for the book or an idea to include in the plot. In Bears With Us my story began to develop when my grandson (an Aspen CO cop) began posting photos on Facebook of bears he chased out of people’s houses. I emailed back and forth with him about the details of what he did and the bears. From there I did more research on troublesome bears and the idea began to form. I always collect many thoughts and ideas and new characters before I start, but I don’t actually outline. As I go along, I jot notes down of new ideas that pop into my head. This process seems to work just fine for me.

Do you have an ideal reader in mind while you write, and if so, who is it?  (For example, mine is either male or female, younger than I am — who isn’t? — interested in a wide variety of things, because I salt my books with all kinds of info, etc,. etc, and DOESN’T LOOK AT THE ENDING FIRST.   That last one is in caps because my wife does it and it drives me crazy.)

I’m writing for the reader who loves solving a mystery right along with my heroine. Because I don’t use bad language and shut the bedroom door, I know I’m writing for those who prefer this kind of book. I know that I have kids who are reading my books. And I hope I’m appealing to those who like a touch of the Native American mystique. I don’t think about my reader when I’m writing, though, I’m only thinking about what’s happening in the story and how Tempe will react and what problems will be caused for her and her preacher husband.

Tim asked for my best advice for new writers and here goes:

Read the kind of books you want to write.

Write as often as possible.

Attend writers’ conferences.

Read books on writing.

When you think your manuscript is finished, go over it again.

Hire an editor or have someone who really know about writing read it and give you some suggestions.

When you’re ready to submit, read the agent’s or publisher’s submission guidelines carefully and follow them.

Once you’ve sent your queries off, start something new.

Never get discouraged about rejections, my first book was rejected nearly 30 times before it was accepted—after much editing and revision in between rejections.

Keep writing and submitting—never give up.

You can visit me at

Check my blog at and become a follower.

Oh – I’ll be picking a winner for a copy of Bears With Us from one of the people who comments on my posts during this blog tour.

In Bears With Us, Deputy Tempe Crabtree has her hands full when bears turn up in and around Bear Creek, a young teen commits suicide and his parents’ actions are suspicious, a prominent woman files a complaint against Tempe and her preacher husband Hutch, a love affair from long ago comes to light, and a woman suffering from dementia disappears.

Thanks, Marilyn, and the advice is great.  I actually had to miss Marilyn’s visit because I’m hanging out in the 1920s with Alice Duncan at where I seem to be talking about stone walls — the ones writers bang their heads on every two or three days, in a good week.

12 Responses to “The Blog Tour, Day # 12: Marilyn Meredith”

  1. Marilyn Meredith Says:

    Thank you so much for inviting me to visit today. I loved your questions.


  2. Jean Henry Mead Says:

    Very good advice, Marilyn, and you defininitely write the kind of books I like to read (and write).

  3. m.m. gornell Says:

    Always good hearing more about “how” you do so much. Like your idea of leaving in the middle of a scene–gonna steal it!


  4. Jenny Milchman Says:

    I’m with you on the mornings thing, Marilyn. And I love your advice for emerging writers–especially to read, read, read.

  5. EverettK Says:

    I agree: mornings are best! I’ve never quite been able to figure out how “night owls” operate successfully. I wake up in the morning feeling like a well-oiled machine running “balls out,” and then as the day progresses some little devil keeps shoveling more and more sand into my gears. Sigh.

  6. john m. daniel Says:

    Marilyn, I agree wholeheartedly with your advice: “Read the kind of books you want to write.” May I add to that: “Write the kind of books you want to read”?

  7. Alice Duncan Says:

    Excellent advice, Marilyn. I like the way you go about writing your books.

  8. W.S. Gager Says:

    Marilyn: I agree you need to know where to pick up the next day and if you don’t get to it, it is even harder the next day. I need to remember to quit in the middle.
    W.S. Gager on Writing

  9. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Super advice about stopping mid paragraph, Marilyn. I’ve asked Santa for another Tempe novel! (I have it on good authority he’ll deliver.)

  10. Donna Says:

    Hi Marilyn, what excellent advice–applies to us old-timers as well as new writers. I enjoyed reading about your writing process. And about the bears!

  11. Marja McGraw Says:

    Marilyn, Your blogs are always so interesting. I, too, appreciate the advice you’ve offered. And to reiterate, I couldn’t put Bears With Us down.

    And, Timothy, I’m with you. As a writer my pet peeve is readers who read the ending first. As a reader, it seems to me this would take all the fun out of the story.

  12. Marilyn Meredith Says:

    Thanks to everyone who commented. You are a great bunch. And thanks to Tim for hosting me.

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