Saturday, April 21, 2018

Visalia Library Book Festival 2018

The Book Festival at the library in Visalia was a huge success with lots of browsers and many, many children. Tulare-Kings Writers were well represented as you can see by the pictures. The library plans to make it an annual event.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Celebrate Library Week 2018

In Meiners Oaks, where I lived during the biggest portion of my school years, our library was housed in a Quonset hut less than two blocks away from my home. I wish I had a picture of it. It was a branch of the Ventura County library system and is long-gone now.

I spent many evenings there, especially during the summer months, perched on a stool sampling books I wanted to read. The librarian was a older lady (I thought she was ancient) by the name of Mrs. Lett-Haynes. She was a not only nice to children, but often made suggestions about books she thought I’d like. And during my high school years, she kept an eye on the subject matter I chose. But I’ll get to that later.

During 5th and 6th grade, I favored animal books—Spike of Swift River, Lassie, Lassie Come Home, Call of the Wild, Bambi, Black Beauty—all the kids classics. When the movie Little Women came out, I launched into Louisa May Alcott’s books and read them all. I also became interested in historical novels, like the Hornblower series, and those about well-known people, such as Lady Jane Grey. I even named my cat Emma after a character in a book.

After I saw movie From Here to Eternity, I decided to read the book. At the time, the book was considered unsuitable for someone my age. One day Mrs. Lett-Haynes stopped my mother on the street and said, “I thought you ought to know Gloria is reading From Here to Eternity.” My mother never censored the books her children read, and she told her it was okay, since I’d read the first half when I was visiting my sister in Lake County.

If it hadn’t been for the little library in a Quonset hut, I probably wouldn’t have been able to read all those books, far too many to mention. Libraries, how I love them.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Calculated Risk, A Deena Powers Mystery

There’s such a great sense of elation and relief when a book you’ve been working on for two years is finally finished and published. On the other hand, it’s like saying goodbye to your neighbor. The people I’ve created are as real to me as the people next door. In most cases, I know the characters better. And I like them, even those with serious flaws.

A Calculated Risk is available on Amazon right now, but will soon be available as an e-book.

Marriage and motherhood aren’t enough for Deena Powers. Anxious to re-establish herself as a capable professional investigator, she opens an agency in Four Creeks where she now lives with her husband, Avis “Buzz” Walker.

One of her first cases is for the Grimes Corporation, a property line dispute, simple enough, but when the CEO is killed in a plane crash, she soon learns that farming is not a tame business. While juggling life as a working mother, she finds herself drawn into the turmoil within the grieving family.

To complicate matters, a shadow from her past reemerges, posing a threat to her and her family, and she is forced to summon the courage to do the unthinkable.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Murder in Visalia

One October morning in 1979, a stamp and coin dealer was gunned down in his Visalia shop. There were no witnesses. Persistent police efforts connected it to another death two months earlier when the body of a Fresno coin dealer was found locked in the trunk of his car. This true crime story, recounted by Ronn M. Couillard, Assistant District Attorney at the time, and now, retired judge, lays out the twists and turns of the investigation, the court proceedings, and a conclusion that almost didn’t happen.

This book will be available at Taste of the Arts in Visalia on Oct. 14, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A PI Caper Worth Reading

When Mystery Readers of Visalia picked the theme of foreign intrigue for the month of September, I went to my book shelf thinking I must have a book that would fit the category. We could pick a story that had taken place in a foreign country or written was by an author from another country. Sure enough, I found Dying Day by James Mitchell. Written in 1988, it’s one of his older mysteries. This author wrote some 36 other mystery/suspense novels under several pseudonyms, including James Munro.

The main character in Dying Day is Ron Hoggart, a London based private investigator who specialized in finding things for people. In this case he was hired to find a lost airplane, one that had been lost 40 years earlier, a daunting task. But with the help of his friend and sidekick, Dave, he digs into finding information about the plane and the former RAF pilots involved.

As he pursues a trail that leads all the way back to World War II and the Berlin Airlift, it’s evident that something very valuable was on the lost plane, and someone is willing to kill to keep Hoggart from finding it. Within a few weeks, the bodies pile up. Each time he interviews someone with information he needs, they end up dead. Before long, he finds himself a target.

At the center of the puzzle is the pilot, Bill Day. The question that surfaces is whether or not this Royal Air Force hero had turned smuggler and thief before landing at the bottom of the ocean off Scotland. Hoggart stalks the ghosts of wartime England from Italy, Scotland and southern France to uncover the reason behind the murders, a fortune in gold.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a fast-paced caper designed to keep the reader turning pages. I liked the puzzle, the action, and the humor. The first-person style was fresh and lively. I’ll put James Mitchell on my list of writers I want to read again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Value of a Critique Group

Marilyn Meredith (aka F.M. Meredith) has another new Rocky Bluff mystery! This is number thirteen in this series. She also writes a second series with many books. I asked her how she keeps her characters interesting in such a long series.


The hostess of this blog and I go way, way back. Gloria was in two different writing groups that I taught. The second one operated like a critique group. As the instructor, I got to make my suggestions first, but everyone else could do so also.
When I first started writing with the hopes of being published, I couldn’t find a critique group so my sister took my chapters to one in her area. They seldom praised anything, though perhaps she only told me the criticism, and I learned lots.

The critique group I belong to now, I joined way back in 1981. The members have changed over the years, in fact except for the founder, I’m the most consistent attendee. I’ve learned more from this critique group than from any other source including conferences, writing classes and books on writing.

Early on, I learned that the praise was nice but the criticism and suggestions were the helpful part. If I attended and read my pages and didn’t hear what to the other members seemed confusing, or didn’t make sense, or the grammar was flawed, I wouldn’t waste my time.

That doesn’t mean I always agreed with every bit of criticism, but if something was pointed out, I took a long look at it to see how it could be fixed or written more clearly.

I’ve always considered my critique group my first editor. They don’t catch everything, but I’m thankful for what they do point out. Even the paid editor doesn’t find every error, and often not the publisher. In the end, it’s up to me to make sure the work is as error free as possible.

A good critique group can be a valuable asset to your writing journey.

F. M. aka Marilyn Meredith

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

Copies may be purchased from Book and Table by emailing with a 10% discount and free shipping as well as all the usual places.

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

Tomorrow, I’m visiting where you can read a short excerpt.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

After speaking at the Kingsburg Library yesterday, I began thinking about libraries I have utilized and loved.

Libraries have been an important part of my life. My family were readers, and though there were only a few books in our home when I was a child, we frequently went to the Carnegie library where we lived.

It was an adventure for me. I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of a shelf of children’s book while my mother and my older sister perused the adult section. At the time I hadn’t learned to read, so I looked at the pictures and imagined the stories. It never occurred to me to ask to take one home. I guess I thought that privilege was only for adults.

But when I was about five, I was allowed to borrow a book. It is still a vivid memory.
The cover was illustrated in red and green Scotch plaid. Of course, the story had to be read to me. It was about a Scottish boy whose parents had died. His father was from the highlands and his mother from the lowlands. The families of the parents argued over which branch would have custody of the boy, and a big argument ensued. As the story came to a close, a compromise was reached. The boy would spend the summers with highland family and the winter with the lowland branch.

I was hooked on stories and books ever after.

My sister, fifteen years older than me, was a teacher with much experience with children. Worried that I might damage the library book, she said, “Don’t open the covers too far, like this.” She gave a partial demonstration of what I was not supposed to do. “The book will cry,” she said. “You don’t want to make the book cry.”

Up to that moment, it had never occurred to me to bend the book covers back like that. But as soon as she was out of sight, I had to test it. I opened it until the covers touched. Alas, no tears appeared. I remember thinking it was a silly to imagine a book would cry.

How about you? Do you remember your first book? How have libraries impacted your life?