Category Archives: novel


Marilyn Meredith now lives in the foothills of the Southern Sierra, about 1000 feet lower than Tempe’s Bear Creek, but much resembles the fictional town and surroundings. She has nearly 40 books published, mostly mysteries. Besides writing, she loves to give presentations to writers’ groups. She’s on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and three chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Central Coast chapter.

marilyn #3

Taking What the Publishing Industry Throws at You

This is the last topic for my blog tour for Not as it Seems, and a fitting subject to end with.

When I first dipped my toes in the publishing pool, it was a much different business than it is now. This was back in the days of typewriters and carbon paper. There were only a few major publishers to go to, and every submission had to be sent in a self-addressed box with return postage inside of a larger box. A self-addressed envelope would be included too in the hope that instead of the return of the manuscript, an acceptance letter would come instead.

Small publishers began to pop up and could be found in the big Writers Digest book of agents and publishers.

As time went on, big conglomerates bought the larger publishers bringing them down to even fewer places to submit.

The Internet came along and e-publishing was born and along with it publishing on demand. What a change that made. Small publishers could compete with the bigger ones.

The birth of Amazon brought about the biggest changes of all. Some good and some not.

Many authors have become self-published mainly so they don’t have to split their income with anyone but Amazon or Barnes and Noble or one of the other online bookstores.

To bring this down to my own personal journey, my first book was accepted by a New York publisher. 2nd one turned down by that house, and I found a small press. I had several agents over the years, but none ever found a publisher for whatever they were representing. I found several small publishers on line, a couple turned out to be crooks, three died, three quit the business, I met publishers at conferences who gave me contracts. I’m with two of those now and content.

Mundania Press publishes my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, and I met the publisher at a conference. When the former publisher decided she no longer wanted to be in the publishing business, Mundania signed me on. Needless to say, I’m happy with them.

As for the self-publishing, I’ve tried it and it’s not for me.

Writing and promoting take up enough of my time, I’m happy to leave the final editing, formatting of the book, and doing the cover to the publisher. As for the promoting, no matter who you are published by, the major part of the promotion is up to the author.

This is how I’ve handled what the publishing industry as thrown at me, and I suppose it all comes down to accepting what I’ve had to and making the best out of the rest.

I’d love to hear other’s opinions about this subject.

–Marilyn Meredith




  Not as It Seems Blurb:

Tempe and Hutch travel to Morro Bay for son Blair’s wedding, but when the maid-of-honor disappears, Tempe tries to find her. The search is complicated by ghosts and Native spirits.

Character Naming Contest:

Once again, I’ll name a character after the person who leaves a comment on the most blogs.

This is the last place on my blog tour. I’ll be figuring out who won the contest and naming them on my own blog in the next few days. Keep an eye on


Dual diagnosed* from an early age, Matthew Peters dropped out of high school at sixteen. He went on to obtain a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught various courses in a variety of disciplines throughout North Carolina. Matthew is committed to increasing the awareness and understanding of the dual-diagnosed.

*The term dual diagnosed refers to someone suffering from a mood disorder (e.g., depression) and chemical dependency (e.g., alcohol-use disorder).




by Matthew Peters

I have a confession to make.

I can’t write a novel.

It’s true, I really can’t.

The fact that I’ve had two novels published and am working on a third does not make my confession false.

But what’s going on here?

Either I’m mad or I’m lying.

The fact of the matter is that writing a novel is a maddening prospect.

As George Orwell said, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

typewriter 2

The thing is, I doubt Orwell could write a novel. Or Dostoevsky. Or Tolstoy, for that matter.


But these are some of the greatest novelists the world has ever known!

Now, you say, that Matthew Peters has certainly gone off the deep end.

What I mean is that writing a novel is too difficult to consider as a whole. There are simply too many things to keep track of, including word choice, pacing, characterization, character arcs, plot, subplots, theme, imagery, when to reveal what, how to build to a climax, how to provide resolution, etc., etc., etc.

What we writers are capable of doing is writing a single chapter or, as I like to think of it, a single scene.

And, that to me, is one of the most important things I’ve learned about writing: you just do it one scene at a time.

To do otherwise is too daunting a prospect.

Breaking things down to their component parts helps me a great deal.

Anne Lamott, in her incomparable book, Bird by Bird, admits that writing can be a daunting endeavor. She talks about how she keeps a one-inch picture frame on her desk.

Lamott says of the one–inch picture frame: “It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.”

She also recalls E. L. Doctorow’s sage advice that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Lamott adds, “You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

When all else fails when it comes to writing, I break it down to its most essential and smallest component: the word. One word. I use a trick I call the one word challenge. It works like this:

Open up your WIP (yes, I know, this is often the most difficult part, but trust me on this one).

Read the last sentence you wrote (not more than this, because then you’ll want to start editing and editing can be a form of procrastination if you haven’t finished a complete draft of what you’re working on).

Now, write one word you feel could come next.

Force yourself to stop with that one word.

Here’s the thing: I’ll bet you can’t stop at just one word. Just like potato chips it’s hard to stop at one.

Try this next time you’re stuck, and please let me know how it works out for you.

All the best and keep writing,



Book Cover

Blurb about the book:

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe-inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.



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Rick Taliaferro is a freelance writer and editor (TextPosit). In his spare time, he spends one hour, or one page, or 200 words per day on fiction. He recently had a novel published,           Cascades, and is currently rewriting the first draft of a new novel. Before he became the Associate Editor at Bartleby Snopes, several of his stories appeared in the journal.

rt_boat   TECHNOLOGY’S GREAT WHEN IT WORKS  by Rick Taliaferro

(This blog originally appeared on
Katie Carroll’s website at

We know this phrase, usually muttered when technology is not working. But, here’s one case where it did work, usually very reliably and consistently. And I have the feeling that it’s more the general case than an isolated, personal case.

In the past several months, I’ve been thinking up ways to publicize my newly available teen/YA novel, Cascades, in addition to studying and emulating what other writers are doing to promote their publications.

A really great idea that I had was to streak a well-attended public event here in the Raleigh area, wearing just a t-shirt or carrying a sign with quick details about my novel. A friend could video-record it and post it to YouTube. Then I’d sit back and wait for the post — and sales of my novel — to go viral.

My wife thought otherwise.

“How about if I could get Justin Bieber to read it and tweet about it?” I suggested.

“Uh-huh, sure.”

Another idea that I had was to pitch the following proposal to local media here in the Raleigh metropolitan area. In a nutshell: “Local author gets first novel published, and credits current technology as helping in that achievement.” I haven’t heard from any one of the media yet, and perhaps won’t; they might rightly view my proposal as a self-serving attempt to get free publicity. Which it is. But I think there’s a broader general interest element to the proposal, which goes beyond an author’s desire to sell books, and which applies to writers today, especially aspiring writers.

So, in lieu of an appearance in local TV, radio, and newspapers, here’s what I would have covered in the hoped-for interview. And these observations are not original, nor new (some of you might call them ancient history by now), and don’t cover various other recent consumer-tech advances of which I’m an ignoramus and which you’ll notice by their conspicuous absence. But perhaps we can generalize the specific devices noted here and extrapolate their positive effect to other technological advances in this post-Guttenberg-paradigm that we’re in. I’m inviting readers of this guest blog to fill in the consumer-tech gaps that I’ve left, and note the positive effect technology has had on their writing efforts — as soon as they stop guffawing that I haven’t used them, yet.

Naturally, it’s possible that technology exerts a negative influence on one’s endeavors, such as writing, but let’s save that topic for another blog. By coincidence, there’s a thought-provoking article on this topic in the “Related articles” links below.

Alright, the technological devices which contributed to my getting published are email, the Internet, and perhaps most importantly, the e-reader, as described here. Again, please jump in with your thoughts and arguments.

  • Email

Email has improved the communications between authors and editors/publishers. The quality of the communication still depends on careful wordsmithing, but turnaround time in submitting and receiving responses has become more efficient. For sure, online journals can still take several months in which to respond to a submission, but the advent of email has enabled a more efficient submission-and-response apparatus. You’re no longer tasked with putting pages and SASEs in an envelope and posting it; neither is the editor when responding. The transmission of your submission is nearly instantaneous, as is the response (that is, the transmission after the writer or editor gets around to processing the email and clicking Send). And, though some journals still take months to respond, I think email, by its instantaneousness, has encouraged a faster response time. At Bartleby Snopes where I’m an associate editor, our usually met target for responding to submissions is 3-5 days, and usually quicker than that, even with requested feedback. Part of this response rate is because of email.

  • Internet. Several characteristics of the Internet are serving the aspirations of writers.

–   Publishing opportunities. With the increased use of the World Wide Web (WWW) — thanks to Tim Berners-Lee — came an increased number of publishing opportunities. (Probably also an increase in the competition, too, but undoubtedly an increase in opportunities.) Imagine the number of small literary magazines, of varying quality, before the WWW, and then exponentiate that number (by what factor, I don’t know, but you get the point) after the invention of the WWW. Anyone can start an online journal, more efficiently and very cheaply relative to paper-based and paper-mail-based journals. As a result, many talented and astute editors have founded such journals, to the benefit of readers who enjoy fiction and the writers of that fiction. (I’m one of those writers. My first story publication was online.) To use the example of Bartleby Snopes again, we publish eight stories a month, opening up 96 publishing opportunities for story writers and readers during a year. This number doesn’t take into account our special projects such as our annual Dialogue-Only Contest and our recent Post-Experimental Project. o   Exposure.  Another salient feature of Internet-based journals is the greater exposure afforded to the writer whose work appears online. To save space in this blog, I refer you to Jason Sanford’s essay on this characteristic, “How to Expose New Writers: Online Versus Print Magazines,” below in the “Related articles” section. (By the way, if the links are problematic, let me know, and I can provide PDFs of the linked-to articles.)

–   In addition to publishing opportunities and exposure, the underlying code that provides part of the WWW infrastructure can also provide opportunities for creative experiments in narrative form and structure. For example, in the use of linking, and forward and backward referencing. There’s lots of examples of this. My short story, “Keynote Address,” attempts to use HTML coding in several narrative places to tell the story (in one example, the story links to a description of what is generally regarded as the early example of hypertext fiction, “Afternoon”). I think the point I’m trying to make here is that with HTML, there are new opportunities for narrative form and structure, so that we can produce works that are more than just a traditional, paper-based story in an online medium. There are technical features of HTML that can serve story-telling.

  • E-readers. The advent of e-reader technology combines and extends several of the characteristics discussed above. But I think the most salient characteristic is the lower publishing costs. In the same way that a journal editor can easily and relatively cheaply start an online journal, so can a publisher of e-books and print-on-demand books. The costs for such an enterprise are higher than a small journal, of course, but much cheaper than traditional paper book publishers. With cheaper production costs and a greater number of publishers, come greater opportunities for book writers. (Here again, my first published novel is an e-book.)

So, in reading over this blog, it appears that the primary benefit of recent technological developments   is an increase in opportunities for aspiring writers. That’s true in my writing efforts. I can’t say whether I’d have been published in the olden days. Maybe, but chances were against it. However, I can say that I am getting published now, and technology gets some of the credit.

As this blog started with a common observation about technology, I’ll end it with a more general folkism that also applies to technology: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” As helpful and facilitating as technology can be in a particular project, writers still need to persevere, accept rejection and, if possible, learn from it, and above all to keep writing. That’s old school advice that’s timeless. You combine that counsel with technology, and you’ll get published.

Okay, it’s your turn to fill in the gaps. That’s right, please add your experiences with cellphones, Facebook, Twitter. All that.

Related articles:

Here are links to just several of numerous articles that provide interesting points and counterpoints to the discussion of technology in the context of writing endeavors. The last article has a broader thesis, but is relevant to the discussion.

Cascades_3rd_and_final_cover_mockup SMALL


When Karen dumps Greg, he tries to keep the relationship going with a simple plan: become the kind of guy she wants. He needs to prove he’s decisive and can take initiative, qualities she admires. Not to mention he needs to read Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls for a class presentation. Middle-aged Victor arrives at the local hangout, a dam called The Cascades, giving Greg the means to succeed in the plan. Victor has a romance problem of his own, as well as a drinking problem. Greg attempts to help Victor sober up and reunite with his estranged wife, all in hopes of winning back Karen. Then tragedy strikes at The Cascades, and Greg is left to question love, the value of a life, and how he will ever finish his book presentation.


Buck’s Barber Shop

An Inquisition

The Underground Fort

Keynote Address

CASCADE is available ON Amazon


Though Thelma was born in in Massachusetts, she considers Norfolk, VA., the Outer Banks of NC and the mountains of Sewanee TN, her home training grounds. A member of the Mystery Writers of America and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, she writes novels of espionage, psychopaths and human trafficking. She is a former Executive Management Consultant, poet, dramatist and book reviewer.



Few of us have dry eyes when we gaze on the stunningly beautiful site of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Pacific Arch and the Rainbow Pool, set between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, are breathtaking. . .

This incredibly moving site, a national memorial dedicated to Americans who served in the Armed Forces and labored as civilians during World War II, the 56 pillars and a pair of mall triumphal arches draw our attention and quiet thanks for all who served. . . the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, all fought and died to preserve our lives here now. The names are visible … of the 48 States of 1945, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska Territory, the Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealths of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin islands … each a reminder of what might have been lost – had we lost the war. . . . . .

I stand in awe of this hallowed place, not only for what it represents, but for the long, deep personal memories it evokes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Those days and nights of “The War” were filled with sights and sounds that remain as long as life. . .

– The sight of the German prisoners, each no older than we were. . . imprisoned in the rear of Navy trucks on the streets around the Naval Base in Norfolk. Were those KIDS the Hated Nazis????

– Whining sounds of air raid sirens at dusk, when Civil Air Patrols roamed our quiet streets at Willoughby Beach, ordering black out curtains nightly.

– The constant we-are-at-war reminders, indefinable yet unmistakable, bombarding our inmost privacy everywhere.

– Collecting tinfoil, conserving food, keeping supplies in the kitchen closet … in case the Germans invaded. . . yes, the fears were terribly real to us on the beaches…

– Daily finding the stuff from ships and sunken submarines… washed up on our own beach … supplies of Nazi food and weapons, uniform shreds, body parts, garbage from the subs with German language stamps. . . .

– Forced shortages – especially gas for the old car. . .

– Entertaining the foreign boys at the U.S.O. dance hall. . . especially the cute French sailors…

– Everywhere, the smells and sounds of W-A-R… and the worry that an invasion would tear down our homes and lives. . .

This September 2, 2014, very few men and women who fought in World War II were able to be present at this year’s memorial service. . . the few who came could not walk on their own. . .

Our eyes were filled with tears, not of sadness but of gratitude, as we watched the sunlight on this exquisite citadel of memory, in the sacred capital of our beloved country.

God Bless America, Land That I Love. . . . .

Thelma welcomes inquires and comments at and