Monday, November 12, 2018

Mystery Music

My heartfelt thanks to all veterans, past and present. God bless you!

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I turned on the local news on Saturday morning and heard a story that should pique the interest of most mystery writers. Imagine that.

The Delaware River runs between New Jersey and Delaware. For the last couple of weeks people have been hearing loud (lots of base) music. It starts in the early evening and ends around two or three o’clock in the morning. It’s equal opportunity music, meaning it’s rock, jazz, salsa, classical and who knows what else?
The people in both states hear it, and it sounds like it’s coming from the Delaware side of the river.

Needless to say, it’s driving people nuts and interfering with their sleep. There have been numerous complaints to the police about the noise, and yet no one has been able to determine where the music is coming from. Apparently the music suddenly stopped, but many people have said they’ve heard it occasionally over the past few months. It was only recently that it became a nightly event.

By the way, I don’t live in either state, but across the country. However, how could I, in good conscience, pass up sharing this story?

Would this inspire a mystery? Of course, it would. The story could take so many different directions.

Ghostly music trying to lead the authorities to a murder scene? Maybe someone is purposely trying to drive people nuts. It could be an elderly woman who can’t hear the music without the volume turned up. She could be a little crazy and she’s buried bodies in her basement over the years. Maybe someone is trying to make some kind of point.

If you presented the original scenario to seven hundred mystery writers, they could probably come up with at least five hundred ideas. (You have to draw the line somewhere. I figured five hundred was a good cutoff point.)

You could add something to the music. Maybe the music suddenly stops and a loud scream is heard from one side of the river to the other, and then the music starts in again, like nothing ever happened. Or a dog could howl soulfully.

Anything can inspire a good mystery, so why not music with a secret source? I kind of like the little old lady idea, although it reminds me a bit of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” which you should watch if you haven’t seen it – talk about crazy people and good laughs.

There’s always the possibility that some kids are playing a prank. What if that prank went awry?

Oh, here’s one. What if it turned out the music was coming from an old cemetery and the only music anyone heard was from a specific time period, like the 1880s or the 1920s? Since I don’t believe in ghosts, I’d have to come up with another idea for the source of the music. I know, plenty of people do believe in ghosts, so I’ll leave those story ideas to them.

If an individual decided to look for the source of the music, bear in mind that curiosity killed the cat, figuratively speaking.

I wish someone would take this news item and run with it. Create a good mystery. I’d probably read it.

Can you think of a good storyline with the music in mind?

Until next time, pay attention to any unusual stories you hear on the news. You might come up with a unique idea.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to

A Well-Kept Family Secret and Bubba’s Ghost are now available in audio format. Prudy’s Back! is in the works. Just thought I’d mention it.

If you’re looking for something light, you might give One Adventure Too Many a try. These are all Sandi Webster Mysteries.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Personal Choices

I’ve read a lot of traditionally published books that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve also read traditionally published books that, to me, were clunkers. The same thing applies to self-published books. Some good, some clunkers.

For years, self-publishing has been given a bad rap. It’s time for that to stop. I wish I had a way to change minds, but other than talking the talk, I don’t know how to do that. So for today I’ll do a little cheerleading.

I will say that I know a number of authors (including me) who had traditional publishers and decided to take a different path. You can relate it to someone changing jobs because they didn’t see eye-to-eye with their boss, or maybe they simply want to be their own boss. That’s the way of life sometimes.

I’ve started doing something different. When I read the book of an author who’s new to me, I find myself checking to see if they’re self-published or traditionally published. We all have different tastes, and you might rave about a book that I don’t care for, so the writing isn’t always the issue, nor is who published the work. In the end, I have to say I’ve read some books I truly enjoyed that were written by self-published authors. There were others that were well-written, but not to my taste.

You might complain that you’ve found typos in self-published books. Fair enough, but I’ve found typos in the books of well-known authors. It happens.

There’s another issue which many people wouldn’t think of, and that’s the fact that traditionally published authors have a publisher to promote their books. Self-published authors don’t have that luxury. Many of these authors can’t afford to hire a publicist, either. Thank heaven for social media.

Word-of-mouth is an important factor. If you read a self-published book that you truly enjoyed, tell your family and friends about it. Do a review for it. And try another book by that same author.

I once submitted a book to a traditional publisher and was told that since I’d self-published when I started writing, they’d never handle my work. I was told they’d never, ever publish a book written by a self-published author. When I started writing, I knew nothing about the process and a relative told me about this “new process” called self-publishing. What a cool idea! Wrong. It seemed to be the kiss of death. Years have gone by. It’s time to step up to the plate and try some new, self-published authors. If you don’t like the book you’ve chosen, try another author. It’s simple. With ebooks being so popular, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a book, either.

By the way, the book that the snooty publisher wouldn’t look at? I ended up finding a different publisher who was happy to work with me. I did okay. When I started self-publishing, I reissued the book and did better than okay. I’ll never be rich, but that’s okay. I’m not writing for the money. I’m writing in the hope of entertaining readers. So far, so good.

Patricia Gligor, Evelyn Cullet and F.M. (Marilyn) Meredith have self-published some books, and they’re all authors whose writing I enjoy. As time goes by, I’ll add names here and there, and if you find a self-published author you enjoy, by all means, spread the word.

It’s time to enjoy good books for what they are, no matter who they’re published by. Let’s get rid of the stigma attached to self-published books.

Okay, that’s my cheerleading effort for this week.

Until next time, try something new. Read a self-published book and see what you think. If one author doesn’t float your boat, try another.

CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw’s website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to

Speaking of trying a self-published author, you might try One Adventure Too Many – A Sandi Webster Mystery. It might give you a chuckle while you try to figure out the mystery.

A Well-Kept Family Secret and Bubba's Ghost are both now available in audio format.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Marilyn Meredith, Guest Author

Today my guest is Marilyn Meredith (F.M. Meredith), a long time friend and one of my favorite authors. I asked her what's coming up now that Tangled Webs has been released and, by the way, it's a book I just started. Welcome, Marilyn!


That’s the question Marja asked me to address.

Several things come to mind. First, I’m going to be busy promoting Tangled Webs. October was chock full of events and I have a few lined up for this month. Plus Thanksgiving is always a big celebration at our house, so preparations for that have to be taken into consideration.

Will there be another Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery? I certainly hope so, and by the time this blog appears, I should have some basic idea of what the next mystery should be and what might be happening in the lives of my ongoing characters. (Actually, I’ve got a good start on it, though haven’t a title in mind yet.)

Oh, and I didn’t mention that I soon will have a book coming out in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series too, so plans will have to made for promotion for that one too.

After saying all that, I’m going to put a disclaimer in here—because life happens, and none of us really know what the future holds. If there are no unexpected happenings, the above is what’s next.

I want to thank Marja for hosting me today—she’s been a friend for a long time, one I’ve actually met in person and had several conversations with.

Marilyn writes the RBPD series as F. M. Meredith

Blurb: Too many people are telling lies: The husband of the murder victim and his secretary, the victim’s boss and co-workers in the day care center, her stalker, and Detective Milligan’s daughter.

Bio: F. M. Meredith who is also known as Marilyn once lived in a beach town much like Rocky Bluff. She has many friends and relatives in law enforcement. She’s a member of MWA, 3 chapters of Sisters in Crime and serves on the PSWA Board.

Facebook: Marilyn Meredith
Twitter: @marilynmeredith

Next I’m hopping over to and revealing my Writing Habits.


CLICK HERE to visit Marja McGraw's website
CLICK HERE for a quick trip to