Sunday, April 15, 2012

How I Manage My Time

I met Marilyn Meredith six or seven years ago in Vegas. Sounds like the opening line in a Fawcett Gold Medal paperback? She'd invited me to be on a short story panel at the PSWA (Public Service Writers Conference) held each year in the same Las Vegas hotel. The friendliest bunch of crime writers, and Marilyn – the Joyce Carol Oates of Police Procedurals – is the heart of the organization.

F. M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of over thirty published novels — and a few that will never see print. Her latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is
No Bells. Rocky Bluff P.D. is a fictional beach community between Ventura and Santa Barbara and F. M. once lived in a similar beach area.

F. M. (Marilyn) is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and serves as the program chair for the Public Safety Writers of America’s writing conference. She’s been an instructor at many writing conferences.

Visit her at and her blog at

– Robert Knightly

I had a difficult time figuring out what to write for Robert’s blog. His mysteries are wonderful police procedurals, gritty and realistic. My Rocky Bluff P.D. mysteries are a form of police procedurals but I tend to focus more on the characters and what’s going on in their private lives, and they aren’t particularly gritty, and I suppose to be honest, they border on cozies — though no one knits or runs a bookstore. Another big difference between Robert’s mysteries and mine are his are centered around the NYPD and New York, mine are focused on a small police department located in the fictional town of Rocky Bluff on the California Coast.

By the way, I love Robert’s books.

So, I’ve updated my list of what I do to manage my time as a writer, beginning with what I don’t do.
  • Stay up late and stay in bed late.
  • Sit around in my p.j.'s all day.
  • Watch TV in the day time with one exception.
  • Visit on the telephone.
  • Have people over for coffee--or go to others’ homes for coffee, except on rare occasions.
  • Work on Sundays.
  • Do my own housework, except for my bedroom and bath.
  • Belong to any social clubs.
  • Play Facebook games.
  • Do craft projects, paint, knit, or sew.  I realized that if I wanted to be a writer, I ought to concentrate on writing.

(Sounds boring, but it works for me)

What I do:

I read at spare moments and in bed. I also check my email in bed at night.

I do watch DVD movies in the early evening because my brains turns to mush after putting in a certain number of hours writing and/or editing.

I go to bed early.

I get up between 4:30 a.m. and 5 and shower and dress--then I'm ready for whatever might happen during the day. (This is an old habit from when we owned and lived in a residential care home and we got surprise visits from licensing and the placement agency at any time.)

I start my day with whatever Bible study I happen to be doing, or just reading a chapter in the Bible.

I make a list of what I hope to accomplish.

I check my email and take care of it and do a quick peek at Facebook and tell the world what my plan for the day is because then I feel obligated to do what I wrote. Fix my Chai latte to drink while I'm working. When I get hungry I fix my breakfast. Once in awhile hubby fixes a big breakfast for both of us.

Sometime I glance through the paper while I'm eating, other times I'll read a book.

I write, either before breakfast or after, starting wherever I left off the night before. (A trick I learned long ago was to quit in the middle of a scene then it's easy to begin again the next day.) Fortunately, I can be interrupted and go right back to whatever I was doing. (That's from raising five kids and always having a houseful of my own and everyone else's.)

When I've written as much as I feel like for the day – or that time period – I'll move on to other things that need to be done, like writing blog posts, book reviews, some editing, whatever happens to be on my list.

I eat lunch and take care of other little jobs – or maybe big ones, depending upon what has popped up.

My daytime TV watching exception is General Hospital, sometimes I sleep through it, sometimes I fold clothes; in any case, it's a nice break. (It’s fun to see the outlandish plots they think up.)

Then I'll finish up whatever and move onto cooking dinner. Cooking is something I enjoy most of the time.

And that more or less brings me full circle.

When I was younger I had my finger in more pies than I do now. The hours and the days seem to have gotten shorter and I can't accomplish as much as I used to. Sometimes during the week, hubby and I will take time off and go out to lunch and to see a movie.

We also go to writers and mystery cons together. He doesn't write, but he enjoys the traveling and meeting new people.

I do belong to writing related organizations like Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Epic authors, and the Public Safety Writers Association.

This is what works for me. It might not for you, but if you really want to be a writer, you should be writing on a regular basis.

No Bells – Officer Gordon Butler has finally found  the love he’s been seeking for a long time,  but there’s one big problem:  she’s the major suspect in a murder case.

CONTEST: The person who comments on the most blogs on my tour will win three books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series: No Sanctuary, An Axe to Grind, and Angel Lost. Be sure and leave your email too, so I can contact you if you win.

Marilyn Meredith


  1. I enjoyed this visit with you! You sound like a person I'd like to know in person - maybe one day we'll meet! I was fascinated by why you get up early - that must have been quite a job - your residential care home! I wish you all the best of luck in your blog journey, which I've followed on your SinC blogs. Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  2. You put me to shame. I don't get up as early as I should and I don't write as regularly as I should. Thanks for getting me back on track.
    Robin Hathaway

  3. Bob, I want to thank you so much for letting me visit on your blog--I had trouble finding it at first, but I see others did plenty early.

    Thelma, thanks for visiting. I've only been to New York once and that was during Edgar week--and I must admit, this California girl was a bit overwhelmed.

    Hi, Robin, glad to help.

  4. And then Wednesday nights she comes to our writers critique group and helps other writers be better at what we do. Marilyn is an amazing woman and fabulous writer. This list has taught me a lot about taking my craft more seriously.

  5. Thank you, Lisa. I go to the critique group for me too, you know. If you ever want to finish that wonderful book of yours you have to write on regular basis.

  6. Another outstanding interview. Truly enjoyed. Jake

  7. Great stuff, Marilyn. Such practical advice. I follow most of it, except I have to do my own housework and I'm too easily distracted by the Internet. I'm still hard-wired and I find if I actually disconnect the darn thing I'm more disciplined.

  8. Glad to see you stopped by, Jake.

    And Sue, I don't always follow my rules.

  9. Hi Marilyn! Better late than never. Please enter me in your contest for the free books at scrapgirl1467 (at) yahoo (dot) com.


  10. Busy schedule Marilyn! It sounds like you are enjoying your life.


  11. I've got you both down for the contest Maureen and Janet.

  12. It sounds like you've gotten into your "groove." And Bible study or reading in the beginning of the day is best for me too. Those "cozy" police procedurals you write are getting more and more inviting....