Thursday, March 22, 2012

The trouble with drugs...

PMMA linked to 9th drug death in Calgary ~ CBC News

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2012 3:02 PM MT

"Lab results from three recent ecstasy busts confirm that the drugs were tainted with PMMA...The presence of PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine, in ecstasy has now been linked to nine recent deaths...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14 - International Time Travel Day - Free eBooks

International Time Travel Day is March 14th and a bunch of my author friends and I are celebrating it with free ebook giveaways. Keep reading! :-)

By no coincidence, it is also the birthday of Albert Einstein, author of the “space and time bend" theory.

Join 12 Time Travel Authors across North America as they celebrate International Time Travel Day with great giveaways!

More info on Cheryl Kaye Tardif's blog.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Real Life of This Author

Of course I can't speak for other mystery authors, but I know from comments made by non-writer friends, that there is a big misconception about the life of an author.

Despite what some believe, I don't make huge amounts of money. Sometimes when I get a royalty check I laugh because it might be enough for a dinner for hubby and me at a nice restaurant. (The question that might follow is, "Then why do you write?" My answer is because I want to see what's going to happen next to my characters.)

I do what most everyone else does: pay bills, do the laundry, prepare meals, shop for groceries and do errands. (I pay someone to do my housework--there's only just so much time.)

I have a big family and I spend time with them off and on and here and there. For added fun, hubby and I go to town about once a week and have a nice meal and take in a movie.

Now the writing part. At the moment I'm getting ready for my latest Rocky Bluff P.D. cozy procedural to come out, No Bells. I've been busy planning the promotion, both on the Net via two blog tours and my in-person appearances.

At the same time I'm reading the next in the RBPD series to my critique group, chapter by chapter. Something I do with every new book. I consider them my first editor. When I've considered all their fixes and ideas I'll edit again and probably do some rewriting.

I'm also writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. I try to work on it for two or three hours at least five days a week.

I'm also the program chair for the Public Safety Writers Association's conference which is in July. As it draws near, I have more and more to do as I have to plan the schedule for the speakers and the panels. If you want to know more about that conference (it's small but terrific) visit the website at and while you're there see who we've got lined up as speakers and read the latest newsletter.

Being an author is not easy work.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Molly Maguires

Was the purpose of this secret society of Irish immigrants, The Molly Maguires, to fight oppressive mine owners in the mid 1800s in Pennsylvania - or were they a Death Squad? Killings by the Molly Maguires were as common as slagheaps in coal country. Twelve unsolved murders took place at the headquarters for the Coal and Iron Company in the first 8 months of 1867. Pinkerton's Detective Agency was called in. Irish newcomer James McParlan, standing 5'7" was assigned to the case. He got paid $12 a week.

Disguised as a clean-cut Irish dandy, McParlan rolled into Pottsville. A large bankroll in his pocket he headed to the Sheridan, a bar where the Mollies were frequently found. After buying drinks for everyone in the house he then took everyone's last penny playing poker with them - then he announced "I kill an English bastard in Buffalo. And I play with counterfeit money. But you boyos needn't worry - my counterfeit is perfect." The bills, later carefully examined by a bank tell with a magnifying glass, were pronounced perfect. McParlan later commented "Of course it was perfect. It was good US money."

After two years undercover as Jimmie McKenna, secretary for the secret society, the detective was distressed to find himself named as the leader of a three man execution squad. He hoped for circumstances that would prevent his carrying out of the orders - and he got his wish. The 'fingerman' James 'Powderkeg' Kerrigan got impatient waiting for their arrival and took care of the execution himself. Powderkeg later turned stool pigeon and was the only one of the Mollies to walk away from a death sentence. James McParlan went down in history.

The Hand of the Writer

We still speak of writing in the old way, although the process is different for most of us these days. Saying, "The keyboard is mightier than the sword" just isn't as poetic. Write refers to composing, arranging words in order, whether we use an old-fashioned, #2 pencil or the latest toy from the wonderful world of technology.
The hand of the writer, then, is metaphorical. It operates in the background, creating a world for readers to dive into and remain immersed in for a while.
Nothing makes me happier than when a fan says, "I lost all track of time," or "I couldn't put it down," in reference to my work. If I'm doing my job, I cast a mini-spell over a reader, and she's pulled into the world I create. She shouldn't want to leave, at least until I'm done with her.
There are times, however, when the hand of the writer is visible in a book, when a reader feels it pushing her in a direction or pulling the narrative down a path that doesn't feel natural. At that point the spell breaks, and the reader is aware she is being told a story. If the story is good enough, that might not matter a great deal, but if the writer's hand is seen pushing and pulling a second time or even a third, the reader begins to feel that things aren't quite right.
Sometimes it's a plot device that isn't natural. It might be a character who acts in ways contrary to what we know of him. It could be a detour from the storyline so the author can tell us what she knows about popcorn production or slavery in ancient Sumeria. Anything that niggles at the reader's bubble of concentration can pop it, and she looks around and thinks, "Wait. All this isn't real. I can see the writer's hand between the lines."
At that point, she might put the book down and go make supper. Good for her family, maybe. Not so good for the author who allowed that hand--or keyboard, or whatever--to peep through the magic.