Wednesday, February 9, 2011




Just so our readers will know, Cheryl Norman and I met through Facebook several years ago. She has been a huge inspiration in my writing career. However, for those of you who don't know her, Cheryl is also a breast cancer SURVIVOR.

In true CHERYL NORMAN form, she turned her writing skills in another direction from Romantic Suspense to Cookbook Author to help others who are walking in her shoes or who have loved ones facing that scary path.

Cheryl has combined her passion for writing and healthful cooking by publishing two cookbooks (both finalists in the EPPIEs in the self-help category). Currently, she is writing a cookbook for patients with suppressed immune systems, a subject she knows well after recent chemotherapy treatment. She works with other breast cancer survivors to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of the disease. She also helps writers with her Grammar Cop blog, newsletter articles, and workshops.

Cheryl Norman grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where she wrote her first mystery at the age of 13. She earned a BA in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta. After a career in the telecommunications industry, she returned to fiction writing and won the 2003 EPPIE award for her contemporary romance, Last Resort.

Her debut with Medallion Press, Restore My Heart, led to a mention in Publisher's Weekly as one of ten new romance authors to watch.

Running Scared, a romantic suspense set in Jacksonville, Florida, and Washington, D.C., received a Perfect 10 from Romance Reviews Today.

Reviewer Harriet Klausner calls her writing "Mindful of Linda Howard..."

Her latest romantic suspense novel for Medallion is Reclaim My Life,
and Cheryl has two novellas in the anthology Romance on Route 66.

Rebuild My World, the sequel to Reclaim My Life, will be published by Turquoise Morning Press.

Cheryl, what was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

To relax and let the characters lead me. This requires a lot of prep work, of course, where I allow myself to get acquainted with my main characters completely. I have pages and pages of "interviews" with them, along with character worksheets and picture boards. It helps me to "see" my characters in my head and let the story scenes move in my mind like a motion picture.

If I try to manipulate the story or push the writing, it shows, and I have to revise. Nobody likes to read contrivances and cliches, and that's what forced writing produces.

How interesting. You truly do your research. What book or project are you currently working on?

RECIPES FOR RECOVERY. After surviving breast cancer and its treatment, I want to help others by passing along cooking tips and recipes I learned while weak from chemotherapy and radiation. These are shortcuts that save effort and time while boosting the patient/cook's nutrition. Anemia, for instance, is a common side effect from treatment. I learned ways to enrich the diet with iron without increasing one's serum cholesterol.

I realize this is a departure from romance writing, but I am a cookbook author, too. I have two cookbooks out now, "CHEF" CHERI'S HASTY TASTY MEALS and HASTY TASTY MEALS IN THE RV. Check out my cooking blog at

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Obviously, you need to write and produce. The more you write, the more you learn. Get feedback (other than your best friend or sister) from another writer or two whose work you respect. It's like learning to play tennis. You'll never improve if you don't play against stronger players. Finally, accept feedback and learn from it. Don't be defensive or sensitive to critiquing. The way to hone your craft is to learn. Using the tennis analogy, you need to practice, challenge yourself, learn, and apply what you learn. Sound easy? Well...

I will admit that a good writer never stops learning and growing. If she does, it will show, and readers will stop buying her books. We all have room for improvement, even those on the NYT Bestseller list.

So practice makes perfect...or at least better, right? What do you think makes a good story?

Character growth. If your protagonist hasn't learned some kind of lesson by the end of the story, it's not a satisfying read. Of course, he/she has to suffer a lot first! *LOL*

I'm such a great fan of yours. Do you hear from your readers much?

I do, and I love the feedback. One reader, who was disabled, wrote to compliment me on the realistic and sensitive way I dealt with my heroine's disability in RESTORE MY HEART. Another, a marathon runner, wrote to say she was re-reading RUNNING SCARED because it inspired her. Those comments remind me why I love writing so much.

I'd like to share with our audience, Cheryl and her husband, and me and my husband, have a deep bond because of our love of cars. RESTORE MY HEART grabbed my attention with just the title. I love all your work, but this one is my favorite. I'm inviting everyone to buy and read it!

Tell us about your newest book. When will we be able to buy it?

REBUILD MY WORLD will be out April 11 from Turquoise Morning Press. It's available in all formats, including print. Although it connects to my previous book (RECLAIM MY LIFE), it stands alone. My heroine is a survivor of a brutal crime that leaves her suffering from agoraphobia. She still feels in danger and is hiding out in the little town of Drake Springs, Florida, where she encounters the chief deputy. Naturally, there's a romance developing between them. Unfortunately, he can't get past his hatred for her family. Even if he learns to forgive, he first has to catch the killer who's after her.

I dedicated REBUILD MY WORLD to the memory of one of my high school classmates who was brutally murdered in 1992. The case is still unsolved.

Thank you so much for this awesome interview, sweet friend!

Visit Cheryl at her website:
and Facebook:

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Marilyn Meredith, mystery novel writer, public speaker, and writing teacher, caught my attention about 4 years ago with her TEMPE CRABTREE MYSTERY SERIES. At that time, our granddaughter, Tempe, was about to celebrate her 1st birthday. When I contacted Ms. Meredith to purchase my first book, I explained my interest to read and collect them for our Tempe. Marilyn graciously autographed it as though Tempe herself had bought it and wished her a Happy Birthday.

The classic question "what inspired you to write" is one of my favorites. To me, everyone has a story, and it's their story to tell.

I started writing way back when I was a kid. I learned to read right away, but my true inspiration was listening to the soap operas on the radio that my mom always had on while she worked. Before I could even write, I was drawing my own picture stories based on one of those soap operas. From then on, I've always been writing something: stories, a magazine for my friends, plays for the neighborhood kids to perform, and as an adult when my kids were young, it was the PTA newsletter and plays for my Camp Fire Girls to be in. I wrote two novels which were rejected, and I threw them away. I started writing again seriously when my youngest child was in grammar school.

Do you have a writing quirk? Time of day, weather, a cozy corner, a full cup of coffee, a favorite t-shirt that starts the creative juices to flow, etc.

Mornings are my best time to write, and I always write in my office though I may take notes or edit in other parts of the house. I begin each day with a cup of Chai Tea Latte.

Chai Tea Latte sounds delicious, Marilyn. Can you tell me what surprised you the most about your own writing?

How the ideas keep flowing. Because I write two series, the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries and the Rocky Bluff P.D., I write one and the other. While I'm writing a Tempe book, ideas pop in my head for the bunch who work for the Rocky Bluff P.D.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Ideas and information come from everywhere: newspapers, news on TV, people I meet, speakers at Sisters in Crime meetings, PSWA writing conferences, mystery cons, and of course, the Internet.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love to read and spend time with my family. Hubby and I enjoy going to movies and eating out a couple of times a month. He's great about going along with me to mystery and writing conferences.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in crating your books?

Back when I first started writing, I found out that I didn't know anything about Point of View. Oh, I knew what having a point of view meant, but not about the POV in a story. It means staying inside one character's head during a scene-the person who has the most at stake in the scene. Once the writer can master that, writing is much easier.

I agree. There was a time when I truly struggled with POV in my own writing.
What projects are you currently working on?

I've started a new Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, as yet unnamed. At the same time, I'm doing first edits on the next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel called No Bells. I've sent the Tempe book off to the publisher that will come out this fall, Bears With Us. While all this is happening, I'm also planning the promotion for Angel Lost, Rocky Bluff P.D. due out in March.

Wow! You really are a busy person, Marilyn. Can I ask if you have any suggestions to help me or others become a better writer?

Read what you love the best. Then write on a regular basis. Writing gets easier and better the more you write. What helped me the most in the beginning, and still does, is my writers critique group.

I am part of a great critique group, too, and it is definitely a big benefit.
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read so you know what goes into a book. I've read manuscripts where the writer had no clue about paragraphs or how dialogue should be written. Pay attention to how your favorite authors do things. That doesn't mean for you to copy them, but learn what makes the book enjoyable. Learn the rules before you try to break them.

What do you think makes a good story?

Something that grabs the reader right off and characters the reader can identify with.

Do you hear from your readers much?

I don't hear from readers all that much, but I must say when I heard from you, and what you had to say about my Tempe books , it certainly warmed my heart. I've met some of my fans at book signings, book fairs and mystery conventions. It's always great to know that there are people out there who love my books.

What does your family think of your writing?

Not everyone in my family reads my books-my sister and my eldest daughter are about it. My husband has read some, but he's a slow reader, and I guess I write too fast for him.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

I've written nearly 30 books, and my favorite is always the last one I've written.

Tell us about your newest book. When will we be able to buy it?

My latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery is Invisible Path. It can be purchased at all the usual places including the publisher's website: The next one coming out in the Rocky Bluff series is Angel Lost and should be available in March from Amazon and can be ordered through other bookstores.

You can read the first chapters of most of my books on my website:

Here are some review snippets from Invisible Path:

Meredith blends police procedural with a traditional mystery that includes subtle examples of prejudice--both against Native Americans and within their own community. Her characters are likeable, and her incorporation of Indian beliefs and superstitions help to immerse the reader in the world of Bear Creek. "Invisible Path" will make a nice holiday gift for any mystery reader. ~~by Jacqueline Vick on A Writers Jumble.

Invisible Path is phenomenal! The series improves as time goes on. The last book, Dispel the Mist, included the Native American legend of the Hairy Man. He also helps to move the plot in this new installment along. This, and Tempe's continued confusing dreams, which Nick Two John (the innkeeper and Tempe's friend) doesn't really help Tempe decipher, give this mystery series a unique element. ~~by Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection

Meredith skillfully weaves her knowledge of Indian customs and law enforcement into an intriguing plot as various suspects are investigated, as well as the murder scene. Deputy Crabtree stubbornly follows leads that place her own life, and that of Running Bear, in danger as all the mysterious elements come together in a surprising conclusion. Readers who been following the series are sure to want this book and recommend it to others. I'm certainly looking forward to the next one. ~~by Jean Henry Mead.

And some review snippets for Angel Lost:

In ANGEL LOST, author Marilyn Meredith has created a thrilling adventure that weaves together the lives of several point-of-view police officers, with Officer Stacy Wilbur and Detective Doug Milligan, in starring roles. I truly, truly, TRULY loved every minute of this terrific story! So there! Read it yourself and find out why. ~~by Radine Trees Nehring Author of the Carrie McCrite and Henry King "To Die For" mystery series
F.M. Meredith has another hit on her hands with her latest installment of the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. A fast-moving mystery full of suspense, well-developed characters, and realistic interpersonal relationships, Angel Lost wants for nothing. Meredith weaves a compelling story that keeps you guessing with a satisfying ending guaranteed to please even the most discerning mystery lover. Impossible to put down, Angel Lost is the first must-read of 2011. ~~ by Holli Castillo Author of Gumbo Justice
Reading a F.M. Meredith Rocky Bluff novel is like having a wonderful family visit -- without having to travel farther than your favorite chair. Once again, Marilyn delivers a story you want to get into, a mystery you want to unravel (several actually), and characters you like and want to root for. In "Angel Lost," F.M.'s Rocky Bluff Police Department "family" must really come together to save one of their own-- with a little help from an angel. A most enjoyable read. Thank you Marilyn! ~~ by Madeline (M.M.) Gornell, the author of "Uncle Si's Secret", "Death of a Perfect Man", and "Reticence of Ravens".

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I have several author/friends I only know through the internet. In a recent conversation with one I said..."I'd hate to lose a friend I've never met." That birthed the idea to interview a few of these fascinating people.

Stay tuned as I introduce my first guest author!