Writer's Notes

Killing Your Darlings: or Whatever by Marilyn Meredith

By Marilyn Meredith

When asked if I’d like to join in on this discussion, my first thought was eliminating those pesky words and phrases that pop up almost unintentionally in everything I write—so, that, just, as, and any unnecessary adverbs and adjectives.

But instead of talking about them, I thought I’d like to bring up my darlings I don’t want to kill off.

I love writing about ghosts and spirits, and in nearly all of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries one or two make an appearance. (Oops, I guess I couldn’t really kill them off because they are already dead.)

In my latest offering, titled Spirit Wind, there is indeed a ghost, and something else that travels on the wind. Unfortunately, it isn’t available yet because I haven’t finished it.

AColdDeath-lgIn the most recent published tale, A Cold Death, the ghost of a young girl seeks Tempe’s help.

The one before that, Seldom Traveled doesn’t have a ghost, but there is definitely something supernatural watching over Tempe as her life is threatened by fire and a murderer.

I can’t imagine writing about Tempe and not including a ghost, spirit or something not quite of this world. Besides the fact that I like imagining what it might be like for Tempe to be confronted by these other worldly specters, it’s great fun to write about her encounters and weave them into the story plot.

To end this, I don’t want to write what everyone else is writing about. Keeping my darlings, in this case, ghosts and spirits, “alive” in Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s world is what I plan to do.


–Marilyn Meredith


Marilyn in Vegas 1
Marilyn Meredith


Bio: Marilyn Meredith is the author of over nearly forty published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series. She lives in the foothills of the Sierra with her husband, grands and great-grands, and numerous animals. Under the name F. M. Meredith, she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. She is a member of MWA, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board for Public Safety Writers Association.


Visit her at and follow her blog at


Latest books:

AColdDeath-lgA Cold Death


Seldom Traveled Front Cover

Seldom Traveled


Writer's Notes

I’ve Had Lots of Help on my Writing Journey

By Marilyn Meredith


Me at Art ConIn the beginning, my sister helped me connect with a critique group because I couldn’t locate one where I lived. She read my chapters and reported the problems and suggestions to me. My sister has been a great support to me in many ways.

Through that support group I met an agent. Though he never offered my book to any publishers, he gave me lots of help with my writing.

When I moved to another area, I joined a long established critique group. In that group was a multi-published author named Willma Gore who mentored me for a long time and I owe a lot of my writing ability to her guidance. I’m still in the same group, though the members have changed many times. But the focus has continued on, to help each writer make his or her work even better. Criticism is necessary, because we authors often don’t notice our own flaws. I want to know what’s confusing, what doesn’t work, if I haven’t accomplished what I set out to do. Every mystery I’ve written has been heard by members of this group.

While thinking about critique groups, I must mention that I learned more about writing from the various members than from any class I ever attended or the many writing books I’ve read.

Many years ago, I joined what was called The Police Writers Club which has now evolved into the Public Safety Writers Association and has members from all different law enforcement agencies and other public safety fields, plus a few mystery writers like me. I became friends with many of the members who in turn have helped me in so many ways: answering questions about police procedure and giving me ideas for my mysteries. These men and women have become important to me in many ways.

Like Thonie, I hire an editor to go over my manuscript before I send it off to the publisher. I found the editor through the PSWA group and I chose her for two reasons, one she knows law enforcement, but second, and probably most important, she’s young and will catch anything that sounds like it came from an old lady (me.)

Despite the help of my critique group and my editor, errors still slip by. When the publisher sends back the text block or what is also called a galley, it is important to print it out and go over it carefully for any mistakes or inconsistencies. It’s much easier to find them on a printed page.

And of course, I receive much support from my writer friends too—those busy folks who are willing to let me be a visitor on his or her blog like I’m doing today. We don’t get to see each other often, but when we do at conferences and writers groups and meeting, itUnresolved’s wonderful to talk about the writing life and share ideas with people who understand. Yes, the writing life is solitary, but it’s important to get away and mingle with others, including readers.

This is the last stop in my blog tour. I hope it’s been helpful to writers and intriguing to readers.

FM aka Marilyn Meredith


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

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.


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 and her blog at














Writer's Notes

Guest Post: How Real Life Propelled Me into Fiction

seldom-traveled-2By Marilyn Meredith

The easy answer to this one is that I was a committed reader from my early grammar school days and read everything I could get my hands on from 10 books a week from the library to my mother’s Book of the Month selection. (My favorites were those she told me not to read.)

Though I did write all through my growing-up years, fiction and non-fiction, real life actually got in the way of fiction writing. I married right out of high school and had a big family. As my children grew older and started school, my main writing was for the PTA newsletter which I wrote and produced for four years.

Next came writing plays for my Camp Fire Girls to perform. In the meantime I did write two fiction novels, sent them off, they were rejected and I decided to forget that aspect of writing. Which I did, until my sister did our family genealogy on both sides. When I read through the genealogy, I noticed so many unanswered questions.

What happened to the twin who disappeared when she was sixteen? Why did a mother give up her four girls? Why did the families move so much? What brought them to California? I decided to check the historical facts around the times and places that people were born, married, and died to see if I could learn any answers. In some cases I was able to make educated guesses in others, I made up the answers.

Of course, I had to write a book based on everything I figured out. One of the books was my first published. It is still available as an e-book, under the title Indian Paintbrush. Once both books were done, I really wanted to keep on writing, and since I loved mysteries, I wrote one. The Astral Gift.

My son-in-law, a police officer, interested me in police procedure by entertaining me with stories of what he did at work. My Rocky Bluff P.D. series was born.

Moving to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada with an Indian reservation nearby, sparked the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, along with my meeting a female resident deputy.

Many other events in my life have given me the impetus or idea for a character, scene or book plot.

Thank you for this great idea for a topic, Thonie.

Marilyn Meredith

Seldom Traveled Blurb:

The tranquility of the mountain community of Bear Creek is disrupted by a runaway fugitive, a vicious murderer, and a raging forest fire. Deputy Tempe Crabtree is threatened by all three.

Marilyn Meredith’s Bio:

me-at-ridgcrest2Marilyn has had so many books published, she’s lost track of the count, but it’s getting near 40. She lives in a community similar to the fictional mountain town of Bear Creek, the big difference being that Bear Creek is a thousand feet higher in the mountains. She is a member of Mystery Writers of American, three chapters of Sisters in Crime, and is a board member of Public Safety Writers of America.

Buy the book

New Contest:

Winners will be randomly picked from those leaving the most comments on the blog posts. Each winner can choose one of the earlier books in the series as either a print book or e-book.

You can find me tomorrow at




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