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John M. Wills

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Halloween Memories

Today, my good friend and fellow writer, Marilyn Meredith, joins me to talk about her HALLOWEEN MEMORIES, as well as to introduce her newest novel, Bones in the Attic. Enjoy!

Times were different when I was a kid. We went trick-or treating in groups. And I mean 10, 11, 12 year olds ventured out alone, and we also took younger ones along with us. The word was passed when we ran into other bunches of kids where the homemade goodies were being handMarilyn in Vegas 2[1948]ed out: fresh baked cookies, candied apples, popcorn balls. (Sadly today, no one would eat a homemade treat.)

One time, my group went home and I decided to continue on alone. (I was far too brave as a kid.) I went into a different neighborhood, climbed a flight of steps, knocked on the front door. I was answered by a man with a rifle in his hand. He glared at me. “Do you know what I do to trick-or-treaters?”

Believe me, I was scared. With a trembling voice, I said, “No, sir.”

He put down the rifle. “I give them candy.” And he did.

I nearly ran all the way home.

I also remember Halloween parties where we bobbed for apples and had scary, dark passages filled with spider webs and scary creatures to venture through.

We went all out when our kids were trick-or-treaters. We never bought costumes, but always made our own. The cleverest was when we made one of the boys a bookworm. He had a book made out of cardboard around him, wore green pants and painted his face green.

We decorated the front door, and sometimes the young visitors had to put their hands inside a scary looking box to get their treats.

My cousin still decorates his house as scary as can be with moving ghosts and graves with skeletons popping out, and he dresses up like a ghoul to greet the children—some run away in fright.

When we moved to the country where we are now, no one is brave enough to venture down our long scary lane except for grandkids whose parents bring them.

Bones in the Attic, Marilyn’s latest novel

Bones in the Attic[1947]
The discovery of a skeleton, a welfare check on a senior citizen, and a wildfire challenge the Rocky Bluff P.D.

Buy link: https://tinyurl.com/yxpd8mxy

Marilyn Meredith, who writes the RBPD mystery series as F.M. Meredith, is the author of over 40 published books. She once lived in a small beach town much like Rocky Bluff and has many relatives and friends in law enforcement.

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/
Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith
Twitter: https://twitter.com/marilynmeredith/
And she’s a regular on these blogs:
2nd and 4th Tuesday: https://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/
4th Monday of the month: https://ladiesofmystery.com/
Thanks, Marilyn, I’m sure readers will enjoy your latest offering. Please visit again!

Time For A Good Read

It’s summer, and it’s a great time to read entertaining books at the beach, on vacation, or just lounging around the house. My friend and fellow author, Jackie Taylor Zortman, has a newly released novel. I’m sure many of you will enjoy her style of writing and have a hard time putting this one down. It’s called, JAKE-Whiskey, Water & Wildfire (Book 1 in The Drifter Series)1437254200

The story

Jake is a woman’s wildest dream and a hotshot firefighter with a Harley. He has a tendency to be a drifter and rides for miles under miserable conditions until some place mentally flags him down. He’s never been married and intends to keep it that way.

The day he rides into Kimble, Colorado he wants nothing more than water with a lot of ice in it and food for his rumbling gut. But inside a cafe, he finds someone in a short uniform and cowboy boots that makes his heart leap and the sparks fly. Try as he might to avoid it, their relationship sizzles.

When a sudden wildfire ignites, Jake is the only one on the scene prepared to fight it and he immediately takes control. It’s not the first fire he has battled and it’s what he loves and is trained to do.

What makes Jake certain that Kimble, Colorado is the place he is meant to be? Why does Miss Berta adopt him as her pseudo-son and why is he so drawn to her as a mother figure? Are the answers simmering inside the fire or is it something more? The ending will both shock and surprise you.

About the author

Jackie Taylor Zortman is an award winning published writer/author.  She is the author of a non-fiction book “We Are Different Now,” two award winning fiction novels, “Footprints in the Frost (Detective Max Richards Book 1)” and “Snow Angel (Detective Max Richards Book 2),”and a novella “JAKE-Whiskey, Water & Wildfire (The Drifter Book 1).”

Jackie by AmyJackie has had numerous articles and short stories published over the past 25 years, is a Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is a contributing author to the anthologies “Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides”, “American Blue”, “The Centennial Book of the National Society of Daughters of the Union” and “Recipes by the Book, Oak Tree Authors Cook”.  She also writes poetry, genealogy and history. She has won 10 Public Safety Writers Association Writing Competition awards in the last five years.

She lives in a bustling quaint tourist town high in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and their Siamese cat. When the deep snows of winter blanket the terrain surrounding her home, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.

Find JAKE at www.amzn.com/B07PG3F47J.

Science Makes a Great Mystery

Today I visit with J.L. Greger a fellow novelist and member of the Public Safety Writers Association. I’m sure you’ll find her new novel intriguing. Enjoy!reduced flu

Do you realize how many mystery and thriller writers have science backgrounds? Consider Arthur Conan Doyle (physician), Agatha Christie (apothecaries’ assistant during World War I) Michael Crichton (physician by training), Kathy Reichs (forensic anthropologist), and Robin Cook ( physician). Thus, it’s not surprising as a retired biology professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I write mystery/suspense novels with tidbits of science.

Scientists, especially physicians, write mysteries and thrillers for several reasons: 1. Science is a way to add intriguing bits of reality to fiction. 2. Nothing is scarier than a disease which resists known medical treatments. 3. Finding a cure for a new disease or making a vaccine against a new virus is an example of problem solving. That’s pretty similar to solving a fictional mystery but with higher consequences. 4. The stress of medical emergencies bring out the best and worst in real or fictional characters.

Let me tell you how science is integral to the plot of my new thriller: In The Flu Is Coming, a new type of flu — the Philippine flu — kills nearly half of the residents in an upscale, gated community in less than a week. Those who survive become virtual prisoners in their homes when a quarantine is imposed. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recruits Sara Almquist, a resident of the community and a scientist, to apply her skills as an epidemiologist to find ways to limit the spread of the epidemic. As she pries into her neighbors’ lives, she finds promising scientific clues. Unfortunately, she also learns too much about several of them and violence ensues when they try to escape the quarantine.

The flu I describe in my thriller could happen.

CDC and the World Health Organization are constantly watching for emerging flu viruses, fearing one will emerge with the virulence of the virus that caused the flu pandemic of 1918. Did you know: One-third of the world’s population was infected with that virus and 50 million died worldwide?

All it would take for another flu pandemic are small mutations in avian or swine flu viruses (not previously occurring in humans) that allowed them to be transmitted among humans. In The Flu Is Coming, those mutations occurred in the Philippines. While scientist like, my heroine Sara Almquist, struggle to find clues that will allow the development of effective vaccines and antivirals, the flu spreads rapidly. Scary but real?

Of course, Sara gets involved in a lot more than science in The Flu Is Coming when she learns too much about the criminal activities of a couple of her neighbors. So, fans of police procedurals won’t be disappointed. They’ll get a snap shot of the problems faced by law enforcement agents during a quarantine.
Why don’t you read The Flu Is Coming and learn a little thrilling science?

Thumbnail of the new novel: In The Flu Is Coming, epidemiologist Sara Almquist is trying to stop two killers: the Philippine flu, which is rapidly wiping out everyone in a walled community in New Mexico, and a drug kingpin determined to break out of the quarantined enclave.

The paperback version of The Flu Is Coming is available at: https://www.amazon.com/Flu-Coming-Science-Traveler/dp/0578423251. The Kindle version at: https://www.amazon.com/Flu-Coming-Science-Traveler-Book-ebook/dp/B07KX3J37W

Bio: J.L. Greger is a scientist and research administrator turned novelist. She likes to include tidbits of science in her award-winning thriller/mystery novels: Murder: A Way to Lose, Riddled with Clues, and others. To learn more, visit http://www.jlgreger.com.

Why She Writes Police Procedurals

My good friend Marilyn Meredith shares her thoughts on this topic. So pleased to have her visit my blog today.

I thought the most appropriate place to give my thoughts on this to be right here on John Wills’ blog. Besides serving many years in various kinds of law enforcement, John is great family man, strong in his faith, and a friend to many—including me.

In addition to putting their lives on the line, men and women in law enforcement have to deal with people who have absolutely no respect for them.

Marilyn in Vegas 1What I’ve tried to do with my Rocky Bluff P.D. series, besides write an intriguing mystery, is to show the family lives of the characters and how what’s going on affects them on the job, and how what’s happening on the job affects their families.

Yes, I do know what I’m writing about. My uncle was a motorcycle cop and later a detective with L.A.P.D. When I was a kid, I had a regular babysitting job with the children of the police officer who lived two doors up the street. My son-in-law was a 15 year veteran of the police department and lost his life in the line of duty. I have a grandson who is a police officer and a grandson-in-law who is a deputy sheriff. I’ve had and still have many friends who work in law enforcement.

No, I don’t think all police officers are perfect, no more than any of the rest of us are perfect. What I know is they have one of the hardest jobs there is, and I’m so thankful there are still people willing to do this dangerous and often unappreciated job.

In this latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, every family is dealing with something: Sergeant Navarro’s mother has broken her hip, Sergeant Ryan Strickland is appalled by atangled web front cover jpeg stranger’s reaction to his baby, Officer Gordon Butler’s wife is not enthusiastic about his trainee, Detective Milligan is worried about his teenaged daughter, and even Chief Taylor has some doubts about her new love interest. And yes, there is a murder to solve.

Marilyn, who writes the RBPD series as F. M. Meredith

What’s inside? Too many people are telling lies: The husband of the murder victim and his secretary, the victim’s boss and co-workers in the day care center, her stalker, and Detective Milligan’s daughter.

Link: : https://tinyurl.com/yabj9z9f

Meet Marilyn: F. M. Meredith, who is also known as Marilyn, once lived in a beach town much like Rocky Bluff. She has many friends and relatives in law enforcement. She’s a member of MWA, 3 chapters of Sisters in Crime and serves on the PSWA Board.

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com
Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com
Facebook: Marilyn Meredith
Twitter: @marilynmeredith

I’m headed over to Creatures and Critters https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/ where I wrote about the real murder that may have influenced my mystery writing.

EDITING TIPS

My good friend and fellow writer, Marilyn Meredith, has recently written a postMe at Danas quilt containing quick editing tips. Marilyn is an award-winning author and prolific novelist with decades of experience. Whether you’re writing your first book or your twenty-first, these quick tips are a great guide or reminder on how to make your work stand out.

First off, if you are self-publishing do not leave an extra space between paragraphs.

Indent for paragraphs. Take a look at a book on your shelf and see how it looks inside.

Read books in the genre you are writing in.

Start your book with something exciting happening to your main character(s).

Make sure the reader can tell right away who the main character is. Don’t wait for several pages to introduce him or her.

Don’t begin with pages of back story, the back story can be added in appropriate places along the way.

Eliminate most exclamation points. Don’t ever put one in the narrative. And if the dialogue is exclamatory enough, you don’t need the exclamation point.

In most cases, stick to “said” and “asked” for dialogue tags–better yet, use action and description as a dialogue tag. Example: “Get out of my way.” Pete shoved the big man in the aisle.

Use the word all right–not alright.

All pronouns refer back to the last person or thing mentioned.

For a quote inside a quote, use a single quote mark. Example: “My dad told me ‘Get out’, and I did.”

Eliminate the word “that” when you can. It, like “just” are often over used. Often that isn’t necessary. There are synonyms for “just”.

Take a look at see what other words you overuse–like “so.” Do a word search to replace some of your “favorites” with other favorites.

Use descriptive actions words rather than adverbs. Look in your thesaurus for other words for walk, run, look etc. Find the word that best describes you character’s action.

Weave your dialogue, action and narrative together. Show us what’s going on.

Never have a character tell another character something he/she already knows.

Don’t use parenthesis in a novel. If something needs to be explained–explain it in the narrative.

Be sure to self-edit. When you think it’s as good as you can make it. Hire an editor.

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