Monday, March 25, 2013

More Pieces in the Quilt

Last week we were in Vancouver, WA for EPICon, the annual conference for EPIC, The Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition.

Once again, we enjoyed spending time with writers, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals, many of whom have become good friends.

After the conference, we were invited for dinner at the home of one of the guys who worked in Japan with us. He invited another of the USJ team. Loved getting to know their wives and reminiscing about our time working on Universal Studios Japan.

The following evening, Monday, we drove to Mt. Angel, OR to see a girl I went to grammar school with. The last time we saw her was when she was a bridesmaid in our wedding. Although we've stayed in contact over the years, we'd never met her husband. So the evening was very special, and I was thrilled to know our friendship remained strong.

On Tuesday evening, our last in the Portland/Vancouver area, we drove into Portland to see a dear friend who used to live in our area. We reminisced about old times and enjoyed a meal together.

Wednesday was travel day, and we arrived back home in the early afternoon. The remainder of the day was spent unpacking and doing laundry.

Thursday morning, while slaying email and catching up of Facebook, an instant message appeared from a second cousin, Cindy. Our mothers were first cousins. She and her sister Connie were driving from Camarillo to San Diego and wanted to stop on the way. My answer? A resounding YES!!!

They arrived mid-afternoon, and although we'd never met face-to-face, we had been corresponding via email and Facebook for several years, so it was as though we already knew each other.

I remembered their mother and was amazed at how much Connie resembled her.

We went to an early dinner at the Wind and Sea at Dana Point Marina and compared notes on family stories. Once again, pieces of my personal family story were filled in.

What an amazing month March has been! So many reunions and wonderful times with old and new friends and relatives. It doesn't get much better than that

So how was your month?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Family Patchwork

I think of families like old-fashioned crazy quilts. The people are all different shapes, sizes, fabrics, and colors. They're joined together with colorful stitches in a variety of styles. Some are green chains, others are blue buttonholes, still others are yellow lazy daisies, green stems, etc. All those unique pieces, stitched together tightly, represent the totality of each family.

But sometimes, pieces are missing, stitches are frayed, and the quilt loses some of its integrity.

My father died when I was seven and large sections of his family disappeared from my own quilt. For most of my life, I lived with huge gaping holes. But, through Facebook, we were able to close the gaps.

However, a couple of weeks ago, two of those pieces were permanently restored.

My cousins, Margaret and Suzanne grew up close to one another. (Their mothers were my dad's younger sisters.) They knew each other all their lives. But my family lived at a distance.

Prior to 2011, the last time I'd seen Margaret was when we were about eight, and I hadn't seen Suzanne since she was three. But in 2011, over Memorial Day weekend, Larry and I were invited to Suzanne's brother Roger's home for a barbeque. The three of us made a great start at reconnecting and discovered we had a great deal in common. A couple of weeks later, Margaret joined us to visit my mother in the nursing home, and she was also restored.

However, the three of us girls had never been in the same place at the same time. That all changed a couple of weeks ago when the other two came to our house for a few days of 'cousining.'

I got practically no sleep the entire time they were with me. We stayed up late talking, and then I was so wired, I couldn't settle down. I didn't want to miss a second.

One day we visited the Dana Point Marina and Mission San Juan Capistrano. The next, we picked up my brother and drove to San Gabriel Mission where we finally found our grandmother's grave along with those of our great grandparents. I knew my great-grandfather was there, but I couldn't find any online records about my great-grandmother. There she was!

The most important thing we discovered was how much we genuinely loved each other. It was more like being reunited with long-lost sisters. We were supposed to go to Catalina one day, but the boat was broken down. It was okay however, because we still have the tickets, and 'the girls' have promised to come back soon. It gave us more time to compare memories and stories.

My family is like a true crazy quilt—including the 'crazy.' But it feels as though the pieces are coming together and are now stitched tightly. I'm confident we won't lose each other again! Now we just have to get Ted and Steve to come next time so all six of us can finally be in the same place!

Have you ever lost family members or good friends and had the joy of reuniting with them?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fringe Benefits of Being a Writer

Today I welcome mystery writer and good friend Marilyn Meredith (F.M. Meredith) back to my blog to talk about some of the benefits of being a writer. Hope you enjoy meeting her.

If I hadn’t been a writer, I’d probably never have learned all the things that I now know how to do on the computer and the Internet. (Believe me, I’m far from an expert, but because I am a writer, I know lots of experts to ask when I have a problem. Lorna is one of these.)

Being a writer has afforded me the chance to travel to many places in the U.S. that I would have never even thought to visit on my own. On March 13, I go into detail about this at

Because I’ve had the opportunity to give talks about writing and my books in different venues, I’ve become confident doing this and enjoy it.

I’ve taken on jobs I’d never imagined I’d do, such as being the program chair for the Public Safety Writers Association’s Conference. Because of this association, I’ve become friends with law enforcement officers from every conceivable branch including the military. You can check out who we are having this year at

Best, though, is all the friends I’ve made along the way. I am a founding member of the San Joaquin chapter of Sisters in Crime and have made wonderful friends there and look forward to seeing them whenever I can attend a meeting. When my first books were published, I made trips to the Central Coast Sisters in Crime to give talks and grew close to many of their members—and I ended up joining that chapter too.

We attended the now-defunct Mayhem in the Midlands every year and made so many good friends among readers and writers, most of whom I’m still in touch with even though they live far away. Radine Trees Nehring and her husband John are stand-out friends we met at Mayhem.

 At a Left Coast Crime in Anchorage, I met two young Native sisters who are avid readers. We stayed in touch and when Bouchercon came to Anchorage, I was invited to stay at one sister’s home, Katina, and had some great times with the whole family. I keep up with them on Facebook—and it’s great to hear what they are doing. Mom, Ruth, is a fan of my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series.

Attending EPICon, which meets in many different places around the country has resulted in many great friends, way too many to list, but two of them are Lorna and Larry Collins. We were together at several more EPICons and the most fun of all, were invited to be guests at the Collins’ lovely home one weekend, where we participated in a book and art fair one day, and enjoyed the launch for one of Lorna’s books. [We also celebrated our mutual birthdays that weekend! Lorna]

And to tie this up, if I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t have met so many other writers and had the opportunity to enjoy so many wonderful books.

Thanks for hosting me once again, Lorna.

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.

Buy the book here: 


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. Meredith’s Bio:
F.M. 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. She’s 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.

And I’m on Facebook and Twitter as MarilynMeredith