Author of the Month

Marilyn Meredith
[April 2007]
Chosen by columnist and reviewer, Carolyn Howard-Johnsont, MyShelf.Com


The Powerful P's

Marilyn Meredith Proves Persistence and Promotion Are Path to Success

Here we are at MyShelf.com's author of the month page. So many wonderful authors to choose from! I chose Marilyn Meredith because she personifies the successful author who makes it, not because she is talented (which she is!) but because she has worked at building a career. It is my theory that what appears to many of us as luck or overnight success is really the result of an effort to learn one's craft, hard work, motivation and persistence.

Marilyn tries to write every day but Sunday and sometimes she writes on Sundays, too. She says she breaks her Sunday rule, "if the spirit moves me." Writing as a calling. Maybe that's the spirit that has gotten her where she is. She tells me she ghost writes and edits a newsletter for the developmentally disabled--other writing besides her novel. Many writers find that cash flow demands that kind of dedication or, if not finances then the urge to spend their time writing rather than doing something less inspiring.

She has written books based on her genealogy, had one publisher abscond with her money, switched to mysteries, has unpublished books and even had one of her publishers pass away.. In other words, she has paid her dues, still writes and deserves every bit of her success including her many awards.

Speaking of dedication--that persistence thing. When she and her husband owned a facility for the disabled, she wrote at night when what she calls her "gals" were in bed. Coupled with her almost-never-on-Sunday schedule, readers will be able to see why she has written 17 books in an office that looks out to the foothill of the southern Sierra and snow-capped mountain. The Tule River runs behind her house and in the summer she can hear it speaking to her.

That office is filled with shelves of writing and promotion books, including, she says, "Carolyn's Frugal Book Promoter."

Gotta love that gal.

I know you will enjoy reading this interview. Marilyn's advice to any writer is to never give up. My advice to any writer or reader is to read one of her books.


Interview

Carolyn Howard-Johnson: Meredith, I met you when we were both signing books at the Authors' Coalition booth (http://redenginepress.com/chjohnson) at the LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books a couple of years ago. At the time, you were also signing at the Sisters In Crime booth. What do you think of fairs as a way to promote your work?

Marilyn Meredith: Book fairs are great. I do far better at them than I do at bookstore signings. I've done the Sisters in Crime booth several times, though some -- as far as selling books -- were better than others. Other kind of fairs can be good too. Every year I have a booth at the Apple Festival here in Springville (CA) and I always sell lots of books there.

 

Carolyn: You also recently had a video made--a la a movie trailer--which is up on YouTube.com. Tell us how you got this idea, how you use your trailer and if it is helping you get the word out. Include a place where our readers can go learn more about you, too!

Marilyn: I saw a book trailer Michael Connelly did for his latest book and thought it was a great idea, but then heard he'd paid $1,000 for it. On one of my lists a gal named Julie D'Arcy offered to do book trailers for people for a price I could afford. She's done three for my latest books.

Your readers can see the trailer for Calling the Dead at ww.youtube.com
Wishing Makes It So's trailer is at www.youtube.com/
Fringe Benefits is at www.youtube.com

 

Carolyn: Interested authors can find Julie D'Arcy at www.juliedarcy.com.au/Videopage.htm. As an aside, she is doing one for my new book The Frugal Editor. It will be released this spring. Marilyn, other than Authors' Coalition (www.authorscoaltionandredenginepress.com) , do you belong to any other writers' groups. What do they do for you? How do you choose which ones might benefit you and which ones are less likely to?

Marilyn: I belong to lots of writers' groups. The one I've belonged to longest is Porterville Writers' Workshop which is a critique group and I joined 25 years ago when I first moved to town. I also belong to Epic (Electronically Published Writers). I've learned a lot from this group about promoting e-books and I attend their yearly conferences and am usually a presenter. I belong to Mystery Writers of America and have for years, they have benefits for their members and a good newsletter. I also belong to Public Safety Writers Association (http://www.policewriter.com/ ). Most of the members are law enforcement officers though they accept members who write for law enforcement magazines or write about law enforcement in fiction. I am the program chair for their upcoming conference in Vegas. I love these folks and they are very helpful and they buy my books.

I belong to Sisters in Crime too, international, and three chapters--my local one, San Joaquin which meets in Fresno. I go there quite often because they have speakers from law enforcement who give me ideas for my books, and I usually am asked to be a speaker for them once a year. I also belong to the L.A. chapter because if you belong to them you can sign at any of their group signings including the L.A. Times Book Festival and they have a great online group. The other one I belong to is the Central Coast Chapter. I've got short stories in both their anthologies. The one that's out now is called "Gone Coastal." There are other online groups I belong too, some of the same ones you belong too.

 

Carolyn: Yes, I think online groups are a wonderful way to help others and to learn from them in return. I'm a literary writer and use lots of my own experiences as a basis for my novels, short stories and poems. Tell us how what you experience in daily life affects your books on crime.

Marilyn: I know people wonder why on earth a great grandmother writes about crime. Years ago, when we purchased our second house in a new housing development, the down payment was only $100. Many of the folks who bought those houses were all the lowest paid--Navy (us), police and firemen. We partied with all the policemen and their wives and they became good friends. Later, one of my daughters married a policeman and he told me all his stories when he got off work. I went on a ride-along with him and in later years, when on ride alongs with other police officers, male and female.

When we first moved to Springville, I did personality pieces for the local newspaper and wrote about a female resident deputy. What she told me was the genesis of my character Deputy Tempe Crabtree. All of these elements influenced both of my series.

 

Carolyn: You and I are both, shall we say, mature writers. Do you write differently now than you did back then? When did you start writing? Do you think maturity has made you a better writer? Different?

Marilyn: Mature writer--that's a nice way to put it. <G> I know I write better than I did in the beginning. I've written since I was a child. Mostly fiction, though I wrote plays for the neighbor kids to star in, and when I was in Jr. High I put out a magazine that I charged a nickel for. When my kids were young, my writing was mostly for the PTA newsletter which I edited for more years than I can remember and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to put on in order to earn money.

 

Carolyn; You have lots of grandkids. Did you find time to write when your children were growing up? How?

Marilyn: I actually wrote the first book that was published while I was working part time and still had three of my kids living at home. I also worked on it when I was babysitting three pre-school aged grandkids. I worked at the end of the dining room table. I'm very good at multi-tasking. Still am.

 

Carolyn: Aha! See? More proof of my persistence theory!

What is your favorite way to reach readers?
What is your most successful way?


Marilyn: I hope I'm reaching readers through the pages of my books. I think though, you meant how do I reach them to let them know about my books. I do lots of things, many of which are outlined in your Frugal Book Promoter.

I have a monthly newsletter that I sent out to people who have signed my guest books at signings or books fairs. It's mostly chatty about what I've been doing, but I always mention my latest books. When I have a new book, I always have a book launch somewhere in town. I give a book to the two local newspapers so I can have a review of sorts along with an article about the launch. I've had launches in our local inn, a recreation center, an art gallery, a coffee shop, a used book store, and the next one is planned for a floral and gift shop.

I send out postcards when I have a new book and hand them out at conferences. I also have business cards made up for each book. If I send out a flyer about a new book, I always have an order form on the bottom. Of course I have a website, http://fictionforyou.com/ where people can read the first chapters of all my books. And of course, I have those three book trailers. I have a blog, another blog I contribute to and a MySpace.

My favorite way is to talk to readers whether it be at a library, service or social club, chamber of commerce, or writers' group.

I'm not sure what works best.

 

Carolyn: And now? What do the grandkids think of a sexy grandmother with red hair who writes mystery novels of all things?

Marilyn: I have one granddaughter who has read nearly all my books. When she was going to Springville school, K-8, I went to every one of her classes to give a talk. She was a great promoter. She always told her teachers about her grandma the writer. The problem was only the teacher was new, the kids were always the same so I had to think up new subjects to talk about.

Another granddaughter, one with kids, had me come talk to her English class in college and set me up with a booksigning at the local Wal-Mart.

Some of my kids and grandkids are fans, some have never looked at one of my books.

 

Carolyn: You've written 17 published books. Do you have a favorite plot scheme or setting that you tend to use more than once or dress up in a different guise?

Marilyn: I've written four books that will never see the light of day. I have four books that I've signed contracts with publishers, and one I'm in the process of writing right now. When I'm writing my Tempe Crabtree books, because she's part Native American, I always try to find some Indian legend or something that's going on at our nearby reservation that I can incorporate into the story. I use a town very much like the one I live in though I've moved it into the mountains about 1,000 feet so I could have better trees. The reservations is very similar to the Tule River reservation, though it's the Bear Creek reservation in my books. I am writing fiction and I don't want anyone to think I'm writing about anyone or any place that I know. I do use the real name for the county and most of the outlying towns. I've used the same setting for my Christian horror novels and Wishing Makes It So, changing the name of the town to something different for each one. I'm fascinated with small town dynamics. I grew up in Los Angeles and lived for years in Oxnard, the town where I live now is much, much smaller and very different than a big city. My Rocky Bluff P.D. series is located in a place located near Carpenteria on the coast--but it isn't based on Carpenteria, the geography is much different. It also is a small town and the books are about the police officers and their families--with a mystery or two thrown in.

See what's new at: www.fictionforyou.com/ and www.marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

Carolyn: Thank you so much, Marilyn. May you win many more awards and write many more books for people to enjoy. You certainly deserve you success.


Reviews

Click on the covers to read the reviews by MyShelf.com


Wingbeat

Intervention

Deadly Omen

The Choice


Cup of Demons


WEB SITE

Email

Booklist -Amazon.com-

Wishing Makes It So (winner of
USA Book News Best Books of 2006, Horror category)

Wishing Makes It So {Best Thriller Novel 2006
from American Authors Association)

Deeds of Darkness (honorable mention in
genre fiction from the Hollywood Book Festival)

Marilyn Meredith and F. M. Meredith

Demon Fire
Crabtree: Tule River patriarchs : early Springville history
Two Ways West
Trial to Glory
Kachima Spirit
Guilt by Association

Bad Tidings

Wingbeat
Final Respects
The Astral Gift
Gone Coastal w/, Kit Sloan, and Margaret Searles
Fringe Benefits
Wishing Makes It So

Horror
Deeds of Darkness
Cup of Demons
The Choice


Tempe Crabtree Series

Intervention
Deadly Trail
The Choice
Unequally Yoked
Deadly Omen
Calling the Dead

2007's Honorary List

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