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Thursday, April 28, 2016

David Mugridge and Myrl Stebbens--San Joaquin Sisters in Crime May

Our special guest (with our speaker) will be David Mugridge.  He has more than twenty years experience and is a top rated criminal defense attorney.

Since Myrl Stebbens has been with us last:

He consulted on the church shooting in South Carolina (9 victims) for the Boston Herald.

He was consulted on ballistics issues on a case of an assassination of a CIA agent in Georgia (Russia).

This week he is acting as a forensics expert in a New Jersey case of a police officer shooting (Federal Civil Rights case).

When he is not working on a case in one of the six categories he is qualified to be an expert witness in, he likes to umpire softball games.  He was inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame as an umpire in 2003.

To make reservations for the meeting email: by the Wednesday before the meeting with your choice of:
Turkey Burger, French Dip, or Cashew Chicken Caesar Salad

$16.50 for members.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How the Rocky Bluff P.D. Mystery Series Began by Marilyn Meredith

My son-in-law, Mike Cole, was a police officer for Oxnard P.D. for 15 years. When he was a new officer and worked the graveyard shift, he’d stop by my house when he came home from work for coffee. He’s always ask, “Do you want to hear what happened last night?” Of course I did.

He told me lots of exciting tales—some funny and some sad. Always a writer, I began to weave ideas together for a mystery novel. He let me look at some of his case notes, giving me even more ideas.

The first book, Final Respects, deals with a tragedy concerning a family dispute call, a main character who has a wife who hates his job, an officer who is a publicity hound and involved with a woman with a serious problem, a family who lose a husband and father, and three little girls whose father owns a mortuary and torment the mortician who works and lives there.

When I wrote that first book, I had no idea that it would become a series, but I wanted to know what happened to those characters I created, so I had to write the next, and the next and so on.

Here are the titles in order:

Final Respects
Bad Tidings
Fringe Benefits
Smell of Death
No Sanctuary
An Axe to Grind
No Bells
Angel Lost
Dangerous Impulses
Murder in the Worst Degree
and now:
A Crushing Death

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

Blurb: A Crushing Death
A pile of rocks is found on a dead body beneath the condemned pier, a teacher is accused of molesting a student, the new police chief is threatened by someone she once arrested for attacking women, and Detective Milligan’s teenage daughter has a big problem.

To buy: 


F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn Meredith is nearing the number of 40 published books. Besides being an author she is a wife, mother , grandma and great-grandmother. Though the Rocky Bluff she writes about is fictional, she lived for over twenty-years in a similar small beach town. Besides having many law enforcement officers in her family she is counts many as friends. She teaches writing, loves to give presentations to writing and other groups, and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, three chapters of Sisters in Crime and on the board of Public Safety Writers Association.

Facebook: Marilyn Meredith

Twitter: MarilynMeredith

Tomorrow you can find me here:

Monday, April 11, 2016


I headed south to Universal City two weeks ago and met other authors who harbor that dream of seeing their novel on the big screen, or at the very least on T.V. or Netflix.

Sisters in Crime-National put on an exciting conference that drew people from around the country to pitch to Hollywood. Across from Universal Studios we honed and practiced our pitches ad nauseam in the hotel where the event was housed. The intense conference started on Friday, so we drove up on Thursday, settled in and had a few cocktails to psyche ourselves up.

And then Friday came and things got serious real quick. After the nice breakfast compliments of Sisters we listened to an hour of pitching advice before we were grouped into about 7 or 8 people.  We began honing our pitches with an industry veteran who mentored us.

In the pitch-practice group, our mentor asked questions about our stories, pulling out pertinent information to target more succinctly what the film producer, agent, etc. needs, which (Takeaway #1) is not the same as what a book publisher is looking for.

We worked to condense our story into two sentences; boiling it down to its essence; a visual snap shot—the log line. Yeah, right? Your whole story that has taken you a year to write smashed into two sentences? But we did it—because that will hook your listener (insert agent, producer) to want to know more (Takeaway #2).

After lunch we met the buyers for film and television through a panel of those movers and shakers giving us their backgrounds, what they do and what they are looking for. Their backgrounds were amazing, intimidating and awesome. I listened intently to the president and producer of the film company I would be pitching to.

In the afternoon we re-grouped and were taken to wait outside the room in which we would individually pitch for five minutes. Everyone’s nerves were on edge—there was nail biting, pacing, nervous chatter until our time came. Even the pros who’d had multiple books and series were nervous—no one escaped the anxiety.

And then it was my turn. And the producer /president of the film company I pitched Dance the Dream Awake to was wonderfully calming and engaging. I was instantly at ease, chatting a bit before I gave my pitch. And she wanted to read my book! WOOT! Of course that’s only the first step in a series of many steps that are yet ahead, if I am so fortunate to go all the way. The reward for braving the pitch was a cookie and a free drink at the bar.

The next day we could all relax and listen to information from more industry experts and gatekeepers; the film and television writers who talked about the developmental process, and the story analysts, producers and developmental executives explain their role in the process and what they look for when they evaluate books—the process of getting a film made from our stories, entails sooo many people. (Takeaway #3) It became clear why it takes so long and why it’s often derailed.

If someone wants to put your book to film, you will have to let go of any expectations as to what the final product will look like. You will no longer have any say unless your name is Diana Gabaldon. This panel’s unanimous advice: LET GO of your own expectations, take the check and cash it because from that point on it’s out of your hands—if you are so fortunate to sell to Hollywood.

See more about my trip on my blog, my website.  

Author Bio:

            Cora J. Ramos writes short stories and novels of mystery and suspense.
Her first novel, DANCE THE DREAM AWAKE is a paranormal romantic suspense, set in present day, but with a past life set in the ancient Mayan history of the Yucatan, Mexico.
Her second novel, HAIKU DANCE, is a historical romantic thriller set in 980 A.D. in one of Japan’s unique times—the Heian era. To be published April 16, 2016,  by Black Opal Books and available at all ebook outlets.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

SAVE THE COZIES by Sunny Frazier

 Well, Big Publishing did it again. With the merge of Penguin and Random House, the powers that be decided there were too many cozy mysteries on the market. Now it’s slash & burn time as authors find their series discontinued.

I’m having déjà vu. In the 90’s, as I was finishing my first Christy Bristol mystery, the bottom fell out of the mystery genre. All the houses were cutting out one mystery line and retaining only the top selling authors. Midlist authors were abandoned.

People stepped up to the plate and created independent houses. With print-on-demand technology and computers, anyone could be a publisher. Amazon gave validity to ebooks and self-published authors.

I have felt the cozy market was saturated. Every hobby has a mystery, everyone is an amateur detective with a law enforcement boyfriend or ex. Authors were even assigned subject matter. The main readers are women. Perhaps this is an effort to give hard-boiled mysteries a stronger market. Men who write them already make more money.

If you love mysteries, there are things you can do: follow authors you love on their Facebook page, webpages, blogs and twitter. Subscribe to their newsletters. Pre-order your books—first week sales are important. And complain! Let Random House know how you feel. Here’s the link:

(Editor's Note: Great and timely article, Sunny. And another thing we should all do, whenever we finish reading a book we enjoyed, go on Amazon and write a review.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A MOST DEADLY MEETING reported by Sunny Frazier

Sunny Frazier, Dr. Eric Hickey, Lorie Ham

 The topic was necrophilia. You never know what you’re going to hear at a San Joaquin Sisters-in-Crime meeting. And when the speaker is Dr. Eric Hickey, all bets are off!

It’s been three years since the chapter has hosted the doctor. He was the Dean of Forensic Science at Alliant International University until his job was eliminated. It took him a whole 20 minutes to find a new job teaching psychology online for Walden University and doing their curriculum development. He also teaches Psychology of Crime at CSUF. 

“When God passes you something you think is really bad, it’s really good,” he said of his changing lifestyle, which includes perks such as teaching from his home computer in his bedroom slippers.

He also has a book coming out in 2 months on necrophilia and is co-authoring a book on female sex offenders. On top of that, he has signed on as a consultant for a TV show (but won’t name it yet).
Hickey described the Hare Scale for evaluating psychopathy. Most people score a 5 on the scale (although Hickey thinks we mystery writers/readers are probably a 10). Sociopaths are around a 20, psychopaths are around a 30. While Jeffrey Dahmer, who practiced cannibalism, was a 22 on the scale, serial killer Ted Bundy was rated a 35. True necrophiliacs actually score very low. Interesting to note that women are never necrophiliacs and nearly all the men are Caucasian.

I won’t go into the gory details of the different types of sex with the dead, but we got an earful. And, we had lots of questions. Inquiring mystery minds wanted to know.  

Despite his extensive study of criminal behavior, “I don’t believe people are born bad,” said Hickey. “I want to understand the dark side, and I want to understand it better.” His research will help law enforcement understand these types in their interrogations.

How does Hickey protect himself from the effects of contact with perverts? “Lots of chocolate.” We thanked him with a box of Sees. 

Editor's Note:

Despite the subject manner, Dr. Hickey manages to describe all these subjects in a manner that doesn't gross out the audience.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Free Kindle Book: Murder in the Worst Degree

This is the third of the free days on Kindle for Murder in the Worst Degree

And if you’d like to know more about it, check out my blog for today:

The book will be free until April 5.

Be sure and pick up your copy. 

Book Blurb:The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.

Things to look for:

  • Probably the best first sentence I've ever written for a book.
  • The three old guys at McDonald's.
  • A crisis for Officer Rick Strickland.
  • A natural disaster.
Marilyn Meredith who is also known as F. M. Meredith