Friday, March 1, 2013

F.M. Meredith On Writing Multiple Series

One of the pleasures of blogging is welcoming authors to Thoughts in Progress on virtual book tours with their latest release. Today, I’m delighted to welcome author F.M. Meredith as she returns to talk about the newest novel in her Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime series, Dangerous Impulses.

F.M. (aka Marilyn Meredith) has graciously answered some questions about her writing for me. In addition, she has a most intriguing contest she’d like to tell you about.

Mason: You have two series (Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime and Tempe Crabtree mystery) ongoing. Do you write for both series at the same time? If so, how do you keep the characters and locations separate?

F. M. aka Marilyn: I don’t write for both series at the same time, but there is some overlapping. For instance, I’m promoting the latest in the RBPD series, Dangerous Impulses, right now. My next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery I’m reading to my critique group a chapter a week. Which means after I’ve read the chapter, I edit it and make necessary changes. I’m also in the process of writing a new RBPD. All the while I’m participating and promoting on Facebook and Twitter and some of the lists I’m on. Believe it or not, I do have a life aside from writing.

Keeping the characters straight is easy—it’s like putting on different hats. When I’m writing a RBPD novel, I think about the setting, the beach and include the smells, the fog and all the elements that go along with a small town police department. This series has many ongoing characters and the focus changes depending upon whose point-of-view I’m writing.

In the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, the main character is Tempe and the story is almost always told solely from her POV. When writing that series I think about where I live and the mountains, what time of year it is and how weather might affect what is going on in the story. Because Tempe is a resident deputy and mostly operates alone, the law enforcement element is different.

After saying all that, I have made mistakes. What I’ve done is called Tempe and Stacey (from the RBPD series) the wrong names. My critique group has caught the error several times. What these two women have in common is being female in male dominated careers and both are strong individuals. Other than that, they are very different in looks, ethnic backgrounds and personalities.

Mason: In writing your Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime series, do you have a schedule or plan as to who you will write about in each installment or do the characters decide as you finish the book?

F. M. aka Marilyn: I wish I were that organized. Though each book in the series is written as a stand-alone, in that the crime or crimes are solved by the end of the book, what is happening in the characters’ lives is ongoing. I think that is part of the reason I keep writing this series, because I want to find out what is going to happen next. I do need to keep track of the characters so I can continue whatever I started with each one. I have ideas about what I want to happen, but as you hinted, sometimes they do something that surprises me.

Mason: With Dangerous Impulse’s release, as you look back what was the biggest surprise that occurred in writing the story?

DAngerous Impulses, New CoverF. M. aka Marilyn: I introduced a new character, Lizette Gibbs, who played a far more important part in one of the story lines than I expected. I can’t really say what it is as it happens near the end.

Mason: How has the writing industry changed since you wrote the first installment in the Rocky Bluff P.D. Crime Series?

F. M. aka Marilyn: Oh, my, things have changed tremendously. The publisher that accepted the first book, Final Respects was an e-publisher—but at that time there were no e-readers, no easy way to download the book and it had to be read on the computer. (There was no Amazon at that time either—shows how long I’ve been at this.)

I’ve had three other publishers for this series since that time and now Oak Tree Press has republished them all in paper and e-books.

Print-on-demand technology is another big change. This has helped small presses tremendously. The ability to only print the number of books needed saves lots of money for the publisher.

And one more biggie is the promotion side of publishing. This chore rests mostly on the author’s shoulders and it is very demanding if you want readers to know about your books.

That’s barely hitting the surface of what all has been going on.

Mason: What message, if any would you like readers to take away from reading your books?

F. M. aka Marilyn: In this series, I wanted to show the personal lives of my police officer characters and how the job affects the families and what is happening at home affects the job. I have relatives and many friends in law enforcement and I wanted to write about what I’ve observed.
Mason: What can readers look forward to next from you?

F. M. aka Marilyn: Speaking as the author of the Deputy Crabtree series, Marilyn Meredith: Spirit Shapes is next.

Now a bit about Dangerous Impulses:
    An attractive new-hire captivates Officer Gordon Butler, Officer Felix Zachary’s wife Wendy is befuddled by her new baby, Ryan and Barbara Strickland receive unsettling news about her pregnancy, while the bloody murder of a mother and her son and an unidentified drug that sickens teenaged partiers jolts the Rocky Bluff P.D.

The Contest:
The person who comments on the most blog posts on this tour may have a character named after him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel or choose a book from the previous titles in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series in either paper or for Kindle.

Rocky Bluff P.D. Series:
Though each book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is written as a stand-alone, I know there are people who like to read a series in order. From the beginning to the end:

Final Respects
Bad Tidings

Fringe Benefits
Smell of Death
No Sanctuary
An Axe to Grind
Angel Lost
No Bells
Dangerous Impulses

F.M., thanks so much for answering these questions and giving us a look at what goes on behind the series. The writing industry has definitely made some changes over the last few years and it seems the changes are coming faster and faster.

Now let me tell you a bit more about F. M. She is also known as Marilyn Meredith, the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. She first became interested in writing about law enforcement when she lived in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their families. The interest was fanned when her daughter married a police officer and the tradition has continued with a grandson and grandson-in-law who are deputies. 

Marilyn also serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and has many friends in different law enforcement fields. For twenty plus years, she and her husband lived in a small beach community located in Southern California much like the fictional Rocky Bluff. She is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Epic, and Mystery Writers of America.

For more on F.M. (aka Marilyn) and her writing, visit her webpage at and her blog at She is also on Facebook and Twitter as MarilynMeredith

Tomorrow, you can find Marilyn at

Thanks everyone for stopping by today. Remember Marilyn’s contest. What are your thoughts on the writing industry and the changes you’ve seen as either a writer or a reader?


  1. Marilyn, thanks again for stopping by today. It's always interesting to learn more about how books come about and how you divide your time between the series. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason, I am delighted to be visiting you today and I think you for your hospitality.

  3. Marilyn,
    I've said this before and I'll say it again. I am in awe of you! Writing two successful mystery series and doing everything else you do constantly amazes me. You wrote, "I wish I were that organized," but you MUST be extremely organized (and versatile) to accomplish all that you do! Love your books!

  4. Marilyn, it's the lives of your characters that keeps me coming back for more. I adore Tempe and her family as well as the RBPD officers and their lives. You write real people your readers care about. You're my hero!

  5. Ah, Pat, you are too sweet. If I have a secret, it's writing lists of what I have to do. Otherwise I'd forget.

    Lorna, love you, glad I'm going to get to see you son.

  6. An awesome juggling act well done.

  7. Juggling isn't easy, L.D. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I become engrossed in both the characters and the plot lines when reading your books. I sincerely appreciate that your characters' lives move on instead of becoming stagnant. This makes them real to me. (You're my hero, too.)
    Marja McGraw

  9. Oh, Marja, I've just been at this for a long, long time. I'm flattered that anyone thinks I'm their hero.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.