What’s In A Big Mac?

If you’re about my age, I bet you know the answer to this question.

I can’t remember if it was the 80’s or 90’s when McDonald’s ran a series of commercials with the song listing the items in a Big Mac.

Sing along with me:

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun.

Did you hear the music?

Are you wondering why I care about Big Macs?

I used to love them but haven’t eaten one in a while. My daughter and I were talking about fast food this week and as soon as she asked about the Big Mac, the song came to mind and I instantly remembered every item they put into that sandwich.

What a testament to the food giant’s ability to educate me. And the pile of money they spent doing it.

How many other nonsensical factoids do we have crammed in our heads from television commercials, radio ads, and cartoons?

I’m wondering how to feel about this. Should I be annoyed that a bunch of companies filled my head with information about their products? Or is that the price of living in our consumer culture?

Sound off. Tell me how you feel.

 

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Welcome Marilyn Meredith!

INTRODUCING DANGEROUS IMPULSES LATEST IN THE RBPD CRIME SERIES

First you might ask, what does RBPD stand for? It’s Rocky Bluff Police Department.

Rocky Bluff is a small, fictional beach community located on the California coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara.  The police department is also small and inadequately staffed. They lack the latest technology and anything requiring lab or forensic work must be sent to the Ventura Police Department. Because of this, most of the RBPD work is done the old fashioned way, collecting clues, questioning by-standers, suspects and anyone connected to the victim(s).

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My goal when I began this series was to show how what’s happening on the job affects the family, and how what is happening with the family affects the job.

The series has a large cast of characters, some of whom are featured in one book and not the next, but will probably make an appearance.

In the latest, Dangerous Impulses, you’ll find the following ongoing characters:

Detective Doug Milligan, his new wife, Stacey, and her little boy, Davey.

Detective Frank Marshall, Doug’s partner and nearing retirement.

Officer Gordon Butler, a “by the book” policeman who doesn’t have it easy.

Officer Felix Zachary, his wife Wendy, and their newborn, Ruby.

Sergeant Abel Navarro, his wife, Maria, a nurse at the local hospital, and their daughter, Lupe.

Ryan Strickland, RBPD’s Public Relations Officer, who also fills in when needed. His wife, Barbara, and her three sons.

Officer Vince Aragon who is on limited duty.

And making her debut in this book, the new hire, Lizette Gibbs.

Though this is a police procedural and the solving of the crimes is important, what is going on with the characters in their private lives is equally as important.

When I wrote the first book, Final Respects, I had no idea it would be a series. However, once I finished I knew I wanted to know what happened to all these people and the only way for that to happen was write another book.  And I’ve kept on, right up to Dangerous Impulses which is #9. And yes, I’ve started another one.

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.

 

Contest:

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

 

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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.

 

Webpage: http://fictionforyou.com/

Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

And I’m on Facebook and Twitter as MarilynMeredith

Tomorrow you can find me here: http://bloggingwebbb.blogspot.com/

 


Cruising in your Eighties!

Please welcome Mike Befeler. Mike was a tennis prodigy in his teens, but that was a very long time ago. Now Mike writes Geezer-lit, books about old folks with a touch of mystery and humor. He’s a riot in person. The last time we were on a panel he made a joke about geezer sex and I offered to meet everyone in the bar afterward so we could rinse the idea out of our minds.

Here is Mike talking about his latest book, Cruising in Your Eighties is Murder.

 

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The best part of writing my most recent Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery, Cruising in Your Eighties Is Murder, was doing the research. Since the novel takes place on an Alaskan cruise, I forced myself to take a cruise in preparation for writing the book. Reluctantly, my wife and daughter agreed to accompany me so I wouldn’t be lonely.

Our cruise started in Seattle with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria before returning to Seattle. We also spent most of a day sailing through Glacier Bay.

And what a coincidence—my protagonist, Paul Jacobson, happens to take the same route. The main difference is that I didn’t encounter any murders along the way. But because Paul is a dead body magnet, he comes across several as well as becoming enmeshed in international intrigue.

Paul is in his mid-eighties and has short-term memory loss. I’m younger and can remember things most of the time.

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The morning before I got on the cruise ship, I walked around Seattle. Nothing happened. The morning before Paul embarks, he takes a walk around Seattle, gets into an argument with a street person and later finds the same man dead in a garden. Go figure.

In Juneau, we visited a fish hatchery and saw the Mendenhall Glacier. A calm tour. Paul accidently knocks a woman into the fish hatchery and is chased by a bear near Mendenhall Glacier. He leads a more exciting life than I do.

The rest of my cruise was enjoyable and calm. Paul’s cruise goes downhill from there, ending with an encounter in Victoria’s Butchart Gardens with a Latvia mob boss and a cast of supporting characters who decimate a section of the gardens. I enjoyed my cruise more than Paul does, but his trip is certainly more entertaining.

 

Mike Befeler writes the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series including CRUISING IN YOUR EIGHTIES IS MURDER, SENIOR MOMENTS ARE MURDER, RETIREMENT HOMES ARE MURDER and LIVING WITH YOUR KIDS IS MURDER, which was nominated for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery of 2009. Mike is vice-president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. http://www.mikebefeler.com

 


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When Fans Become Friends

Several years ago I joined Myspace and learned how to make friends using a tool called Friendblaster. I hoped my new friends would buy and love my books. I soon learned they all wanted something different. Some wanted to pass the time. Many wanted to sell me something. Some wanted advice. A few even wanted to sleep with me. That was a shock! I never expected women to solicit sex online, but now nothing surprises me.

At first I saw my new online friends as customers, but over the years I began to connect with many of them as true friends. I’ve learned so much from my friends in the medical, legal, and law enforcement communities. I’ve been counselor, mediator, and book reviewer to many. My most enjoyable role is still game show host. I love running contests and giving something back to those who have supported me most.

Writing in my office at home there is no one down the hall to chat with. No one stopping by the water cooler. But Facebook and Twitter are never far.

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Nancy, me, Sue

This last weekend I drove to Lisbon Falls, Maine to spend time with someone that goes back to those early days on Myspace. The whole family welcomed me in. Friday featured a birthday party with about 50 guests. Normally when I’m in such a large gathering of people I don’t know I’m “on,” telling people about my work and selling books, but this weekend I was part of the family.

It was a joy to sit back and meet everyone. I put my writer hat on a few times. I’m always curious about family dynamics and it was interesting to take in all the personalities. It’s also heartwarming to be surrounded by a loving family that truly cares for one another.

When I told people on Thursday it was going to be a relaxing weekend, they warned me it would be hectic and chaotic with all the little ones around, but we lounged by the pool, watched fireworks and took in the Moxie parade without a single tantrum. My kids are nearly grown, so one of the true joys of the visit was watching the little ones play in the pool. Those little giggles never get old.

Today as I go back to work I’m truly thankful that my circle of online friends has gone far beyond the typical author/reader relationship. I count myself lucky to have so many good friendships that have blossomed from a simple friend request.

What unexpected blessings have you found in your online life?

 

 

 

 

 


MANday Week 11 – Finding Balance

It’s frustrating to sit on the sidelines. To watch your work slip away and know you could have continued to improve day after day. That’s how I’m feeling after a week without any strenuous exercise.

But there is good news.

What I thought was a stomach ulcer has turned out to be a nasty muscle pull.

I’ve had to stop pushups, planks, and runs while my muscles heal. This weekend would have been my photograph, but I’ve been off my regular workout regimen for weeks and I’m gaining a bit of weight. I feel like I can attain a much better shape given a few more weeks of rigorous workouts, so I’ve decided to wait until I can get back into working out before taking that photo.

Today I’m thinking about finding balance while I wait.

I’m a huge fan of the blog Zen Habits and this week while relaxing with my daughter at the beach I focused on my breathing. Leo talks a lot about breathing and how important it is for us to relax and just breathe from time to time.

I noticed my breathing has become more steady and powerful as a result of my running over the last three months. Try it. Close your eyes, relax and breathe. It’s very centering. Life affirming.

Last night I took a long walk through a cornfield. Walking used to be great exercise, but now no matter how fast I walk, my breathing doesn’t change. It doesn’t feel like exercise anymore, but I am burning calories, stretching my legs and taking in the scenery. I really enjoyed the sweet smell of corn. The rows stretching as far as you can see. And the rabbits and birds darting everywhere.

Today I’m embracing my need for a little balance.

Part of balance for me is eating chocolate. And if you’re going to eat chocolate, why not make it something fantastic? For those of you who’ve been eating chocolate every day, go out and run. For the rest of you, check out this fantastic recipe for a great Friday treat.

 

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Peanut Butter Squares
Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey graham crackers (1/3 box) – crushed
2 sticks margarine – melted
Between ½ and 1 lb confectioner’s sugar
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate morsels

Mix well – peanut butter, graham crackers and margarine.
Add confectioner’s sugar until firm, but not dry.
Spread the mixture in a 13 x 9 pan and compact.
Best results when the top is level

Melt the chocolate chips and spread evenly on top.

Cool this mixture for about 15 minutes in your freezer.
If you cool to the right temperature, the squares cut easily.
Serve slightly cooler than room temperature.

Do not serve frozen!

 

 


Lost in Space

In the late seventies my great grandmother was the oldest living person in Rochester, Massachusetts. She lived in a trailer outside my grandparents’ house and I remember her cruising back and forth from the house to the trailer even at ninety-six years old.

The trailer had a distinctive air inside. After so many years have gone by I can’t tell you if the smell came from cleaning products or moth balls or something else she used , but when I think of her, I’m immediately back in the flimsy trailer and I smell that same old scent that reminds me of her.

Today I’m wondering how much our space tells us about who we are. My youngest daughter is a good example. She hates change but lives in a house where the furniture, plants, and pictures regularly cycle in and out. The change is a source of stress that she can’t get away from until she grows up and moves out.

 

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My environment screams temporary. My clothes are packed in plastic bins and stacked around my room. My desk, writing chair, and filing cabinets are squeezed into a room that was full before I arrived. If you look closely at the surfaces you’ll see that I’m working on many things at once. I’ve got five different notepads all open and half full of scribbles. Standing there for a few minutes you could tell a lot about my state of mind. I’ve tried many times over the years to organize and declutter, but it seems I default to a state of chaos where I can see lots of tasks at once. I’m comfortable in my clutter, for now.

My brother’s house is a more interesting example. He’s the focus of my new Deadly Junk
series and right now if you look around his place you’ll see Matchbox cars scattered all around the living space as they wait their turn to be listed on eBay. Those cars were a purchase I captured on my blog and in the first Deadly Junk book. If you venture into the spare bedroom or the cellar, you’ll find mountains of stuff he’s bought either at a yard sale or as part of an estate. His love for junk defines him and it’s visible everywhere you look.

You wouldn’t expect to find the massive television, the new furniture and all the cool electronic gadgets in the same house. All this stuff clashes with my brother’s love for junk. If you didn’t know my sister-in-law, you’d be puzzled about where it all came from. It would be hard to believe junk sales could pay for all that gadgetry. After following my brother’s hobby for several months I know he could afford those things with the money he makes selling junk, but that’s not the answer.

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My sister-in-law is a contester. If you’re running a giveaway and you’re offering a good prize, there’s a really good chance she’s entered. She’s won two cars, countless televisions and electronics, and more gift cards than she can spend. We like to think she’s really lucky. Maybe she is, but a lot of it comes down to determination and the patience to enter thousands of contests. Her success fills the living room.

As I was sitting at the dining room table talking to my daughter this morning, she told me all about how she would create her first apartment to be just the place she wants to live in. I wonder if we all start out that way and how long it takes for our space to take control and begin to tell the world who we are.