Marilyn Meredith is the author of award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series as well as other novels. The latest is, Judgment Fire, from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the latest, Smell of Death from Tigress Press. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, EPIC and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. For many years, she lived in a beach community much like Rocky Bluff.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Marilyn! Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
I’m along way from my first time. I’m not exactly sure which published book this makes, over twenty. It’s just as thrilling now as it was then.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Trail to Glory was my first published book. The two I wrote before that I threw away when they were rejected once. (Something I definitely regret.) Trail to Glory was an historical family saga based on my family’s genealogy.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
I received nearly thirty rejections before I received a contract. However, I must tell you that I rewrote the book several times. After I joined a wonderful critique group (one I still belong to, by the way) and they gave their input and I rewrote it for the final time, that’s when it was accepted for publication.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
Different from how I’d acted from previous rejections, I just kept sending the book out. Of course I was busy writing another book at the same time.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Dorchester published Two Ways West. I picked them out from the publishers in Writers Market.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I walked out to the mailbox and got the envelope from Dorchester. I opened it on the way back from the house and started jumping up and down and screaming. I’m sure the neighbors thought something bad happened. When I actually held the book in my hand, it was absolutely thrilling. I can’t really remember what I did to celebrate. Probably husband and I went out to dinner. It was back in the days before email so I’m sure I made a lot of phone calls.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
Unfortunately, I had no clue what should be done for promotion. The free books that the publisher sent me I gave away. I knew nothing about reviews. I did have a booksigning at our local bookstore and gave a talk at a writers group. I sent out notices to people. This was all in the days before the Internet. No one I knew had a clue about promotion and the publisher didn’t give me any suggestions.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
That was my first and only experience with a New York publisher. What I should have done differently was to get an agent before I signed my contract.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I’ve been published many, many times since then—and many bad experiences along with the good. I was published by two publishers who turned out to be crooks—one even spent some time in jail. I’ve had two publishers who died and publishers who didn’t pay royalties like they should.
As far as growing as an author, I’m definitely seasoned. I know that no matter how good I think a manuscript might be, besides running it by my critique group, I need an editor who knows what she is doing to go over it before I sent it off to my publisher. I also expect the publisher’s editor to make changes.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
Except for being an avid reader, I didn’t know much about the rules of writing. I learned the most from my critique group and writing conferences and also an agent I had for awhile. If I had known more about the rules of writing before I started sending my manuscripts out, I might not have received so many rejections.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I’ve won some great awards for several of my books. Probably one of the most fun things was being asked to be an instructor for the Maui Writers Retreat. Whenever I finish a book, I feel like I’ve made a big accomplishment.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I’ve had several different professions: Telephone Operator, Pre-School Teacher, and for twenty-two years, my husband and I owned and operated a licensed facility for the developmentally disabled.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
Because I always wrote even while I was employed in other professions, I definitely combined the best of both worlds. Even today I have other side jobs that I do—mainly to help pay for the promotion of my books.
I’m a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and I do enjoy being around all of my off-spring. My husband and I do a lot of fun things together. We love going to movies and he almost always goes with me to mystery cons and conferences.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
I hope I’m still able to do what I’m doing now.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Never give up! But also, make sure your manuscript is as good as it possibly can be before sending it off. Have someone check it over who knows about editing and writing. Be sure you follow the publisher’s guidelines for submission.
My latest book is Smell of Death written as F. M. Meredith. My son-in-law was a police officer and always mentioned how phony police TV and movies were because the police never have one case they are working on. We were friends with may police officers and there families and I saw first hand how the job affected the family and what was going on in the family affected the police officer. I tried to portray this in all of the Rocky Bluff P.D. novels. To learn more about me and my books, visit http://www.fictionforyou.com.
Marilyn’s virtual book tour is brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Cheryl Malandrinos.
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