Thursday, January 31, 2008

Deadlines everywhere! by DL Larson

One task I have every morning, Monday through Friday, is to see my granddaughters off to school. Doesn't that sound fun? My very own little cupie-pies, rosy cheeked, sparkling eyes and the attention span of a gnat.

Let me explain. It's a bit of a time-warp thing. My daughter was a dawdler in her younger years and the gene that lacks time management skills is so deeply a part of her, it sizzles in stereo with her daughters.

To great credit to my daughter, she sees they are dressed, hair done and eating breakfast by the time she leaves for work. My job is simply to walk dirty dishes to the sink, and get the girls on the bus. It sounds so simple. So innocent.

But putting on their snowpants becomes a swim fest on the hardwood floors in the foyer. Then, Corbin Dallas, my cat, decides it's time to play with two pairs of mittens. He attacks them and stalks off with one or two dangling from his mouth as if he's a great lion just capturing his breakfast. The girls love Corbin and swim after him, sometimes scooting across the living room carpet to slide across the dining room floor to reach him. Okay, they only did that once, and Grammie (that's me) hollered that the bus was coming. A small lie in the great scheme of things.

Every morning it's different yet so familiar it feels like a rerun of I Love Lucy. The hat from the bin must be replaced with another because that one doesn't go over pony-tails. Those mittens are too hard to get on for recess, but the others will get wet and so begins the great debate which mittens to wear. Somebody needs to poke their head out the window to see if the bus is coming and putting on boots with snowpants has never been an easy task, no matter what age one is. And Grammie's fingers don't work so well in the early morning, and once again we forgot and put our mittens on before we zipped our coat and "Grammie, will you do it?"

I've been told by my daughter not to baby the girls. Hmmm. But the bus is coming. I can see the big yellow barge up on the highway. We have less than one minute before it pulls up in front of our house. If we run we'll make it. I zip the coat.

We shuffle outside, Corbin Dallas sneaks out with the mitten still hanging from his mouth. Leigh-lu, the family dog, sniffs and patters everywhere at once as we trip down the steps. The bus is now flashing yellow lights, meaning it's approaching a stop and all beware the confusion that will soon ensue.

I hug each of the girls, realize Alex is not feeling as round as a snowman and discover she is backpack-less. She realizes it about the same time. "I have cold lunch today, Grammie!" Of course she does. The flashing lights are zooming closer, but have yet to turn red. So off I go - sprinting, shuffling in my slip-ons, mumbling that I should be so silly as not to wear proper footing when racing back for said backpack. Corbin Dallas beats me into the house, the mitten no longer in sight. I'll worry about that later.

The backpack used to be a soft purple with Tinkerbell on it. It now has a gray smudged look and Tink is in desperate need of a bath. But I'm used to the look because that's what happens to children's belongings when trudged to and from a bus every day. I sprint back to the drive, wave at Alex who's jumping up and down as if saying she wished I'd hurry. I nod. Yes, Grammie is hustling as fast as her stiff knees will allow. I feel like an olympic runner passing the baton to the next racer. Alex grabs the bag, I reach to hug her, but it's fumbled. She hollers, "Love you, Grammie!!" And with boots scuffling across the pavement, she climbs into the gaping doors of the bus. Barb, the bus driver, smiles and waves and I do the same. The bus pulls out and I sigh, another deadline met without -, without -, well, I beat the clock again today.

As I shuffle back to the house, I realize meeting any deadline is a hassle. My writing deadlines are met with a flurry of fuss and last minute changes too. Many times something important is forgotten and I have to shuffle through papers and files to find it.

I guess life is just messy. And meeting deadlines, whether it's the school bus or a manuscript to the editor, complications will abound. Wherever two or more gather ... chaos is the spice waiting to give it flavor. And that makes ordinary stories memorable.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: Mark your calendar: Feb. 7th, 7-9:00 pm at the Barnes & Noble, 20600 N. Rand Road, Deer Park: DL Larson, Margot Justes and Morgan Mandell will be at the book signing. Join Us!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Today, Acme Authors Link is very happy to welcome our virtual tour guest, Anita Hackley-Lambert.

About the Author
Anita Hackley-Lambert
F.H.M. Murray: First Biography of a Forgotten Pioneer for Civil Justice

Anita Hackley-Lambert has overcome many obstacles and has never lost focus. Today, she is an entrepreneur, researcher, genealogists, biographer, writer, publisher, and business owner. Her personal motto is "You can become as big as you can dream." Despite numerous personal tragedies, she is a Stage III, breast cancer survivor and has emerged victorious.

She is now a published author and is CANCER FREE!

She owns several businesses and has written numerous technical publications and manuals for the federal government. She is the mother of four and resides with her husband in Maryland.
She has always dreamt of becoming a published author since the age of twelve when she wrote her first unpublished book, No Where to Run--a gripping story of rape and sexual abuse she endured from the age of five. Fortunately, her desire to write is a dream realized with the publication of her first book, F.H.M. Murray: First Biography of a Forgotten Pioneer for Civil Justice (released in July/August 2006).
Hackley-Lambert is the first author to bring this story and legacy to the forefront to embellish American history. Her extensive research is a masterful contribution to the African American race. She lectures on the subject of F.H.M. Murray who happens to be her great grandfather and brings attention to his numerous contributions and accomplishments. And, her book has already received the praise of other esteemed authors, Pulitzer prize winning author/historian David Levering Lewis; awarding winning author/historian Charles Patterson; Niagara Gazette columnist Bill Bradberry; and New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Tanner Marsh.

Article: Writers Groups

Are you a writer seeking to join a writers group? If you are female, is there a local group, for women? Is there one that matches your needs? If you are an aspiring, published, unpublished writer, there is something you may not know about writers groups. Many are incomplete and may not provide the complete support and services you need.
I thought a local writers group could provide adequate support. I was wrong. During my long journey as a researcher and writer, I sought local writers groups but could not find one to assist me with my manuscript.
As an unpublished author, with a large historical manuscript to compile, there were no local groups (male, female, or unisex) that could offer the type of coaching and support needed. In fact, there were no women writer groups in a 50-mile radius. Nor could any of the available groups provide advice beyond general instructions. I was alone, like a small ship in a huge ocean.
It took a decade to find my way and to teach myself how to mesh all the pieces together and get published. Along the way, I had envisioned starting a support group to help women writers avoid the pitfalls and delays I encountered. My primary focus was to start a unique women writer’s chapter to include all the missing components and programs other groups lacked.
That vision birthed into Women Writers United (WWU), a support group for professional and non-professional women who write and dream to have their work published. So in 2006, WWU got its initial start, but the group did not become official until August 2007. After a slow beginning, WWU is now well on its way with a clear focus on its mission to provide complete support programs to its members. These programs include one-on-one and group training, workshops and seminars, plus other services such as researching, coaching, critiquing, editing, marketing, promoting, publishing, website development, pre and post branding, plus community support through sponsoring affiliates.
Fortunately, the new year has started enthusiasm. Several members, as well as non-members, have submitted manuscripts for publication in 2008. As a bonus to members, WWU expects to invite first-time published authors, speakers, and presenters who can share the pros and cons of writing and publishing in the traditional and independent publishing industries.
WWU hopes to start new Chapters in each state across this country -- with the potential for global outreach. Women writers interested in learning more about becoming a Chapter Representative can contact the Maryland Chapter via email at . Be sure to put “Chapter Rep Inquiry” on subject line.

Anita Hackley-Lambert
President and Founder
Women Writers United – Maryland Chapter
P.O. Box 442164
Fort Washington, MD 20749-214
www.WomenWritersUnited.Org (coming January 31, 2008)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Muttering to myself

Hmmm, there has to be some way to capitalize on this... or, um, CAPITALIZE. yeah, I want to CAPITALIZE, not capitalize.

(rubbing my hands and muttering to myself)

You know what I'm talking, er, typing about, right?

No, how can you? It's just a thought.

Unless you're reading my mind. You'd better NOT be reading my mind. You aren't reading my mind, are you?


Heh, heh... why am I worried? Of course you aren't.

Are you?

Anyway, I'm wondering what to do with my overwhelming victory! Yep, I won a contest. My second book, The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness, took first place in the Sci/Fi Fantasy category of the Preditors and Editor's Reader's Choice awards.

First Place!


Okay, fine... maybe it's a bit of a popularity contest, but is it bad to win one of those? Unless you're a cheerleader. they are popular ... but in a very unpopular way ... especially with the other girls.

And that's not all, The Heat of the Moment, was a top Ten finisher in the anthology category!

Woo-hoo, again!

But the contest was a lot of fun. I got to rally the troops, get people thinking about my books, and they responded. And I ended up winning! Out of maybe one hundred fifty other entrants.

So now what? Do libraries care about this kind of thing? Readers? Aardvarks?

I put the award up on my website, my Myspace account, the Goodyear Blimp, my cat's butt ... oh, wait, same thing... have you seen my cat?

What to do now? Can I capitalize somehow? I will be at Love is Murder this weekend, and I am having some spiffy new postcards made up, and I mentioned the awards on the cards ... in twenty-four point font ... just kidding.

But it's in red ... not kidding.

So it's cool. I'll see what develops ... use it in my BSP (blatant self-promotion), and see what comes of it.

Hope to see you this weekend!

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Think I Found My Niche Market by Margot Justes

I scheduled a book signing in Lafayette, In. The reason I am so delighted is very simple, it is in an art gallery called Artists’ Own.

My heroine is an artist, and I have been trying to do something different and creative. Book signings in art galleries fits perfectly.

This is my breakthrough, and what a breakthrough it is, they are willing to sell my books on consignment, do multiple appearances, and offer contacts to other Lafayette resources.

Hopefully with one gallery on board, others may follow. Then there is travel, but I’ll save that for another blog.

If you find yourself anywhere near Lafayette, IN. do stop in at Artists’ Own, you will enjoy the experience, even better stop in March 15th and I’ll be there all day, signing and most likely looking around to see what’s new. Artists’ Own is located on 518 Main St. # B, Lafayette, IN.

To say I am excited would be an understatement; I will be signing my book surrounded by art. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
The Heat of the Moment
Echelon Press LLC

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why Johnny and Joanie Can't Be Bothered to Read by Robert W. Walker

Why Johnny and Joanie Can't be bothered to read

A chat friend asked today, "How do our kids build their
vocabulary today?"

How do kids build their vocabulary today? Short answer RAP...
pop culture and anything off a screen, and if it isn't visual (on
one or more of their screens), it isn't in the frame, so to
speak. Not on their radar, not going to get their attention.
That's true of a lot of kids today, certainly not all but far too

TV used to claim our attention as kids, remember? And a single
screen it was that did not travel with us. For travel we had the
amazing transistor radio to pull us away from school work;
imagine today how "wired" kids are with the proliferation of
devices, widgets, and necessary equipment, including the
telephone with IPOD and picture send features, Myspace social
networking, Facebook, Wii's, etc. The language of the young is,
for many, abbreviated OMG and even the abbreviations are
misspelled. Shame of it all is that when we in Education find
something that actually works, like separate classrooms for boys
and girls, or say Dance in Detention, we can't implement it for
the hue and cry that revolves around doing anything that WORKS or
has educational value.

Kids eagerly learn so very much, eagerly and hungrily, from
Kindergarten to about sixth grade and are "lovin it" because it
is all a fresh adventure and it is remarkable how their minds
grow along with their vocabulary, but once puberty kicks in
National scores plummet like a stone, around 7th and 8th grade
for most kids, and through high school there is a "hate school,
hate reading, hate writing, hate math" attitude that our schools
have been "designed" to foster even in the architecture and size
of these places. We think bigger is better but not so in social
situations and learning environments. We create havoc in
Wal-Mart sized facilities housing not hundreds but thousands of
kids, places that act as holding pens and warehouses in which
eveyone, from student to administration and many teachers just
struggle through each day looking at the clock, and kids of the
sort that I was in Chicago in the sixties, we find our own path
generally through reading, setting our own goals due to the
destructive nature of the assembly line system that was bad when
I was a kid and has only gotten worse each year since the
sixties. How do kids learn anything under the circumstances we
place them in?

In the end, real learning in the upper grades takes individuals
getting passionate about some area of learning. A kid's
fascination say with Oceanography might pull him or her out of
the mire of what goes on in high schools daily in this nation.
This is when a teacher can inspire, (When the student is ready,
the master appears). But the system is dead set against teachers
taking time to inspire anyone these days. When do editors edit
nowadays is a question in the publishing industry, and in
education it is when do teachers get a chance to teach? Sadly,
with all the nonsense, paperwork, hand-tying that goes on and is
piled on for teachers to do, there is little time for real
teaching to occur. Teaching to the test has become the reason
for being on hand. That and babysitting duties.

At a school I recently taught at every teacher I spoke to ended
our conversation with such lines as, "Well ... I only have one
more year and I'm outta here." Sad reasoning and no passion in
that, just waiting for the pension. It is like watching the
burnt out cops on David Simon's The Wire.

What can we do about it? We can only encourage a kid when we
find his or her passion, and we can only hope to lead other kids
without a passion for some aspect of life or career to find that
passion. For without a passion, there is nowhere for a young
person to go but down. As a writer, when I get a letter or a
note from a young reader, I do all I can to encourage their hopes
and dreams. As a teacher, I do all I can to do the same. Our
educational system is so rigid that passion about one area of
learning is beaten back by the necessities of SATs and PSATs and
all the nonsense of No Child Left Behind funding, and monies
based on attendence policies that true learning takes a back
seat, and sadly many a fired up teacher is faced with a dousing
from the very system he or she works under. To end on an up
note, there are always kids who somehow do both--fulfill the
requirements (often rudimentary) and find their own goals, make
their own reading lists, complete their own self-appointed tasks.
I know a few.

Rob Walker
City of the Absent -- vote for it at Love is Murder for best
historical fiction 2007

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writing: Heaven or Hell? by DL Larson

An author died and St. Peter offered the option of going to hell or heaven. To help decide, she asked for a tour of each destination. St. Peter agreed and decided to take her to hell first. As she descended into the fiery pits, the author saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes by demons. "Oh, my," the author said, "let me see heaven."
A few moments later, as they ascended into heaven, the author saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes by demons. "Hey," the author said, "this is just as bad as hell."
"Oh, no it's not," St. Peter replied, "Here your work gets published."

I have that joke taped to my computer desk along with another cartoon of a doctor x-raying a patient, and the doctor says, "By george, you do have a book in you!"

The slapstick humor usually makes me smile and I'm reminded that writing is not an easy task, nor a simple path to making money, but it is a calling. And not writing isn't an option for me. Probably isn't an option for you either.

The thorny lashes beating down on me do become burdensome. If I don't find time to write, I'm cranky and feel stressed. Missing a deadline is as bad as a rejection, and weights me down. Filling my calendar with booksignings is fun until I have to fulfill those commitments despite bad weather, colds, or I'm just not in the mood to fight traffic or chat with folks about my book. But as an author, I must persevere and push forward to fulfill all aspects of my career.

So, I pace myself. I've realized building a career doesn't happen over night; at least for most of us it will take time. I needed a firm foundation and that began with telling a good story. Marketing my novels has taken me in several directions, some productive, others not so. But along the way, I've learned what works for me.
With my historicals set in Indian times, PowWows have been a fun and lucrative place to promote my work. Mystery conferences, not so, even though my book is flavored with who-dunit aspects.

Deciding where and when to promote your work is much like discerning where to solicit your manuscript. Everything needs to match up. Again, it could be heaven or hell, so take the time needed to decide where your book fits in the marketing world. And find your own stride.

And like the joke with the thorny lashes slapping down on you, it's all in your perspective if you've landed in heaven or hell.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: Fight the cold weather and be welcomed with warm smiles at the Booksigning on Thursday, Feb. 7th:
2600 N. Rand Road, Deer Park, Barnes & Noble, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

DL Larson, Margot Justes & Morgan Mandell will be there. Come visit! Buy a book!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Girl of My Dreams - Blog Tomorrow - Remember Love is Murder Con. By Morgan Mandel

I'm happy to report my new romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams, is #1 at my publisher, Hard Shell Word Factory,, and #28 in the Romance category today at

For everyone who has purchased a copy in print or ebook, thanks a bunch. I hope you enjoy the read. Also, if you really liked it, I'd appreciate your putting up a review.

Thursday, which is tomorrow, I'll be guest blogging at If you have some extra time, stop by and read my blog about Living My Love Story. It would be great if you left a comment also so I know someone came over to read it.

I've also been promised a book review. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it's a good one.

My next stop after the blog is the Love Is Murder Conference, Feb 1-3, 2008, at the Wyndham O'Hare, in Rosemont, Illinois.

That Friday at 2pm I'll be a panelist on the Promotion Panel with Barry Eisler and Austin Camacho and that Sunday at 9am, I'll join Karen Syed, Terri Stone and Julia Buckley and speak about Media Frenzy, covering Internet marketing. That means Saturday I can enjoy the other panels! Anyway, we'll also be doing book signings.

You'll also be treated to words of wisdom from other Acme bloggers, Rob Walker, Todd Stone, who puts on a mean Novelist's Boot Camp, Margot Justes and Norm Cowie.

Last count, I heard 269 people had signed up for the conference, so it should really be something. I believe there's still room for more, so get on over to if you've been hesitating to make a decision. With Tess Gerritsen and Lee Child as headliners, how can you lose!

I'm looking forward to seeing all the mystery authors and fans again, plus a great many romance authors will also be present from Chicago-North Romance Wriers of America, my local chapter.

If you see me there, stop by and say hello.

Gotta go now. I'm so far behind on my promo, it's unreal...and I'm on a panel about promo, wouldn't you know.

Morgan Mandel
PS Stop on by Barnes & Noble, Deer Park, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, 7-8:30pm
to meet Morgan Mandel and fellow Acme blogger, DL Larson.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Tax Man Cometh

Are you ready?

Most writers don’t realize that at some point they can become a small business, especially if they want to be a career author. As writers, we struggle for so long to become published - taking classes, attending conferences, listening to those who've made it tell us their story in the hopes that they will reveal the secret of how they 'made it' so we can follow suit.

If only it were that easy.

We often go from dreaming about becoming a pubished author to actually writing - often as a hobby - and the next thing we know we're a small business.

So, at what point are you as a writer a business?

Basically when you have a realistic expectation of earning money from your writing and intend to make a profit. And it's not something you choose. Within the context of the federal tax code you are what you are based on definitions set forth in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publications that exist because Congress has passed laws that the IRS must enforce.

As a writer if you receive any kind of compensation - monetary or not - you are either a hobby, a business, or in rare cases receving what the IRS defines as royalties, not to be confused with the publishing industry's definition. How you report this compenstion to the IRS and other government agencies will depend on how it is recieved and structured. It is critical that writers understand this concept because reporting compensation as a hobby that should be reported as a business - and vice versa - can result in potentially significant monetary setbacks in an audit.

There are pros and cons to acting as a hobby and there are pros and cons to acting as a business. This blog is not the place to go into all the details that address these points, but a good place to start is with select IRS Publications that can be found at At a minimum writers need to review IRS Publications 334 (Tax Guide for Small Business) and Publication 535 (Business Expenses). In addition, every year writers need to download a copy of Schedule C and the Schedule C instructions and review both for any changes that are reflected.

Sounds complicated - doesn't it?

So remember when writing and becoming a published author was just a dream? Remember thinking that once you were published everything would be so easy? Just like in marriage the real work begins when the honeymoon is over and the reality of the relationship sets in. It's important to start your relationship as a writer with not only an agent or a publisher or even other writers on solid ground, but also with the IRS.

Careful what you wish for!

Monday, January 21, 2008


You ever watched a vacuum before?


You're picturing dirt getting sucked up into an Eureka, aren't ya? The death of dust bunnies.

But I'm not talking about your Hoover. I'm talking about the vacuum cleaner of the brain ... yep, the TV.

So not seriously after all.

Anyway, it's Monday evening, so it's ....(drum roll) ... time for Brainless Monday!


Why Brainless Monday, you ask? Because it's my day. So no matter what, I have this certain privilege that I get to do every Monday. And that's blog. I'm the Monday blogger on the wonderful Acme Authors blog.

Woo-hoo, again!

But sometimes you don't feel, well, creative. Or you feel distracted, and you need something that will let you focus. Well, maybe not you, but me. Anyway, that's where the boob-tube comes in. It has certain properties that affects the brain in a seductively wonderful way.

So I turn on something absolutely awful. Something so mind numbingly ridiculous and aardvark frightening that my brain will quail in mortal fear and try and bury itself in the laptop my heat seeking cat is maneuvering to find a way to lay on.

And if I turn the television to a channel with absolutely worthless programming, it should enable me to spend time writing. Right? My mind should repel the drivel on the screen and find itself engrossed into my laptop instead.

You can guess what really happens, can't you? Yep, I get sucked into the shows!!

(big sucking sound that really can't be duplicated by written word)

It doesn't matter where I go, there's reality show everywhere. If not reality, I turn to C-Span. Yep, I start watching. British Court TV? Fascinating. Cooking shows? I'm taking notes. Cartoons? Loves myself some Sponge Bob. ESPN? I'm an addict. Infomercials? I learn so much.

So here I am, somewhat typing, at least during commercials, while watching Little People, Big World.

So what is it with all of these shows? They are all definitely a step - or an elevator - above Jerry Springer, but if you're sitting in a room somewhere, and the Jerry Springer Show is on, your eyes will invariably wander towards the TV.

Why? Because the TV is the biggest vacuum cleaner in the world!

If the TV could clear your room of the dirt the same way it clears your mind of thought, Hoover would go out of business in a week.

In other words, it doesn't work. Turning on the television is the most absolute way to suck every creative thought out of your brain. Who needs a lobotomy when you have a TV on near you.

And I'm done with it. You hear? No More!!!

I'm quitting!

All done ... forever

... um ...

... right after Celebrity Rehab is over.

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Personal Marketing by Margot Justes

When I get stuck in my story, my husband and I go to breakfast on Saturday. I talk he listens and frequently helps me out of a rut or a plotting problem. That is what happened today.

We sat, ate, I talked he listened, of course it would help if I had let him read what I had written so far, then he wouldn’t be lost-but that is a story for another time.

Our waitress was warm and friendly, so before paying I asked her what she liked to read and gave her my business card. She got all excited and said her sister and friend read a lot-so, of course I reached into my bag and took out bookmarks and gave them to her. She was absolutely delighted. The story does not end there.

On our way out, I made a stop, and my husband waited for me, by then he was surrounded by women asking him questions about the book, how it came about, etc.

He passed out some more bookmarks, by the time I got back, I received a very warm reception and a promise to look for the book and checkout my website. Yes, I did mention The Heat of the Moment.

I plan to learn a lot more about this type of marketing by attending a Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association seminar given by co-founder Michael Rubin.

It is personal, and if you make a connection, hopefully the goodwill will spread.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
The Heat of the Moment
Echelon Press LLC

7 or 8 Deadly Sins of Writing by Robert W. Walker

There ain't but one Rule of Writing that is set in stone,
carved in cement, and engraved in granite, and here it is:
*Whatever works. If you can write it and make it work, it's

True enough but there are 7 Deadly Sins that authors from
bestsellers to up and coming and newbies commit that deep-six
their stories and turn off readers. Despite the huge success of
The DaVinci Code for instance, every one of the following sins
can be found in that bestseller.

This notion that there's no rule but "What Works" resonates well
but God spare me the student manuscript or the one sent in by not
one but TWO authors collaborating and I find in chapter one six
pages riddled with 500 verbs to be. Maybe there ought not be any
rules, but unless you make the verb to be work as say the first
person narrator's TICK, then please God spare me the WASes and
the WEREfors.

If a manuscitpt is riddled with pronouns to the degree we no
longer kow who the hell you'r talking about in a scene because
all three of the male characters are being labeled He, him, his,
himself or even hisself....then you have committed not a rule
infraction dealing with weak substitutes for names but one of the
7 Deadly Sins of writing -- which all amount to the sin of being
UNclear, lazy, and downright confusing.

If a script is riddled with flashbacks to the point of making
one ask why aren't you telling THAT story, it is a deadly sin.

If a script is riddled with prepositional phrases that keep
telling the reader such phrases as He got up off the couch ...
She backed up into the garage ...when one prepositon will do as
in She backed into or He stood, or just a proliferation of
prepositonal phrases that have to remind me that it was TO her or
TO me or To God that she went or spoke after it's been made clear
already to whom she is speaking, that is a deadly sin, and God
forbid the sentence with five, six prepositions within it. Preps
are like leeches and they can leach the power right out of a

If a script is ridddled with LY words -- adjectives and adverbs
up the wah-zoo, this is a deadly sin.

If a script is riddled by a single pet word or phrase (The 12
Judge of Hell in one novel I read became like Chinese torture)
the author has unconsciously latched onto whether it is tarmac or
oatmeal, the repitition becomes as tedious as a nail through the

Finally, the 7th Deadly Sin is in the dialogue. Diaogue should
be couched in activity and action. Few real people speak in
whole sentences while standing still. This is where the fragment
really shines and run ons are fair use. People rant, rave, and
to do so inside the quotation marks, please, not outside them.
Inside is character speech, outside is narrative. Inside is the
way to do it and not by using an LY word just the other side of
the quotation mark.

If one intentionally commits one of these sins or more because
the narrator or one of the characters TALKS this way, fine.
Commit all the sins you want but do so knowingly. One final 8th
Sin -- Shifts. Whether it is a time shift, a geographical
location change, or a shift in point of view, the author must
work extremely closely with words that indicate that a shift is
taking place. Those who use flashbacks take heed. But at any
juncture where a major shift takes place, the author needs to
carefully take the reader by hand -- using transitional language
(plus or minus words, add ons or subtractions, numbers, dates,
and swing words or hinge words) and such things as cut lines or
date lines if necessary to bring about a smooth shift, else the
reader is again lost or confused.

These are not RULES but common sense for those with a proficiency
with language. These are not rules but SINS thrown at
unsuspecting readers who deserve better.

Happy Writing
Rob Walker
meet me on Myspace or Crimespace and see you at Love is Murder

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 Caldecott Winner is a keeper! by DL Larson

The American Library Association recently posted their medal winners for Children's Literature. They offer some great awards, one being the Caldecott finalist for best illustrations in a children's book. Artist, Brian Selznick, stepped through a new door of creativity with his children's novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Selznick is the illustrator and author. In years to come, many will imitate his methods, but let me explain what he has done.

First: The Art Work
If you have a reluctant reader from third grade on, this is the book that could get your child excited about reading. The story starts with full blown illustrations on black cardstock. Page after page draws you into the story set in Paris, 1931. Each drawing steps closer to the mystery unfolding. By the time the words form on paper, the reader already knows there is a little boy with a secret, an old man watching him closely in the train station, and clocks all through the station mean something very important. By this time, the words nearly jumped off the page and are gobbled up by the curious reader.

Second: The Storyline
'This little boy, Hugo, is a recent orphan, secretly living in the walls of the train station where he labors to complete a mysterious invention left by his father.' (taken from book description at ALA.)
The suspenseful text is in conjunction with the artwork. Neither the drawings nor the words tell the complete story. One has to use both to understand the tale. Selznick uses cinematic intrigue from the time period as well to bring his story to its climax. And this is no small book; J.K. Rowlings has nothing on Selznick; his book is more than 500 pages long. Imagine how triumphant a reluctant reader would feel after completing such a huge book.

So why am I sharing this with you today? Yes, as a children's librarian, I like to keep up on the latest medal winners. But this artist has done something no one else has done. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not a graphic novel, it is not a picture book. This is something new and different. Selznick took a chance; he created a new genre no one visualized or dreamed of. That's exciting news. We too can paint new doors and step into strange worlds where no one else has ever been. Our imagination is our biggest tool and as Albert Einstein has been quoted in saying: "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

The other day, I received an evaluation of my work I'd sent to a sci-fi manuscript contest. I didn't win anything; actually, the judges couldn't see what I saw. They liked certain parts, others they didn't. And I will use their comments to make my make-believe world a more see-able reality. Since I'm not an illustrator, I will have to rely on precise words to create my world, but in my mind I see it all unfoldling ... and it is very clear to me. And real. I imagine that's how Selznick must have felt when he visualized his book too.

So take encouragement that new ideas in writing are still happening. Your work in progress, no matter how obscure to some, may prove to be the next award winning novel for its creativity.

How fun is that?

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: The place to be Feb. 7: Barnes & Noble, 20600 N. Rand Road, Deer Park ~ Book signing for DL Larson, Margot Justes, and Morgan Mandel. MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Chicago-North RWA By Morgan Mandel

Left to Right: June Sproat, author of Ordinary Me, Morgan Mandel, Margot Justes, author of a Hotel in Paris.

To become a published author, you can try going it alone or you can join a support group for discipline, reinforcement, comfort and fun. After stumbling along, doing some writing here or there and making amateur mistakes, I realized I needed help.

Since I joined RWA over 12 years ago, I've learned more about writing than I ever have from how-to books, magazines or conferences. Each meeting is like a class, with writing discussions and critiques, writers encouraging other writers, and ideas flowing. We share our disappointments, along with our victories. Also, our celebrations.

The top photo and the one below are from our annual Holiday Party.

Left to right: Lindsay Longford, In back: Suzette Enderlin, Margaret Watson, In back: Christy Fixemer, Myrna Mackenzie, Morgan Mandel.

If you're serious about being a writer, consider joining a writing group such as Chicago-North RWA like I did. For more information on Chicago-North RWA, check out our website at

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just a wee dram after a hard boot camp, if you please

Just a note as I'm pulling out my kilts and shining my combat boots to remind both aspiring and published writers that there is a reward for hard work. That reward could be publication, or it could be your own self satisfaction, but on February 2nd you can make that reward some of the finest Scotch Whisky on the planet. After the Novelist's Boot Camp workshop at this year's Love is Murder ( conference and convention, we're very happy to once again have Martin Duffy, Master of Whiskeys, as the host for our annual Scotch tasting. Marty has promised to bring samples of the Classic Malts, a great lineup of fine Scotch from all over the isles. You'll get a bit of history, a wee dram of several malts, a bit of instruction on how to sample Scotch and bring out its true character, another wee dram, have a few laughs, have another bit of a dram, and repeat.
It's a great time and a great event, and even if you're not a big fan of Scotch before the tasting, you will be afterward!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Friday the 13th and stuff like that

Didja ever have something go wrong on Friday the 13th?

Yeah, I know it's not Friday the 13th right now. It's, um, what... Monday the 14th. But indulge me for a bit, okay?

Some buildings won't even admit to a 13th floor... the elevator skips right over it to the 14th. And it's not always that the building owners are superstitious, it's just that they know that a lot of people won't take a room on the 13th.

Of course, do you think the people happily sleeping, or not sleeping, on the 14th floor, realize that they are, in fact, on the 13th floor of the building? Okay, now everyone's going to be afraid of the 14th floor, huh? Heh.

I never understood the whole rationale of being afraid of a number. Now, if the number was over six feet, armed and had the ability to throw a banana peel under my feet, sure, I'd be afraid of it ... maybe.

And I never got the whole banana peel thing either. Do you know anyone that ever slipped on a banana peel? I mean, where did that whole thing come up from?

I did some scientific research, consisting of just thinking, and gave this whole banana peel thing a thought or two. Okay, I've eaten my share of bananas, and don't see all that much in the nature of viscosity in the peel.

Sure, it's a little slippery, but if it was really as good as advertised, wouldn't you see the people using it for lubrication in gears, motors, sex ... er, okay, maybe not sex. Okay, yes, maybe sex, but we won't talk about it here.

Someday I'm going to do a test and see if banana peels are any more slippery than apple peels, plum peels, kumquat peels, potato peels, bad sunburn skin peels or peals of laughter.

Well, enough of this... I just kind of felt like rambling today. I'm going to finish this up with a quick request for a favor. My second book, The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness, is currently in second place in the SciFi/Fantasy category of the Preditor and Editor Reader's Poll. I'd kinda, sorta like to win the thing.

If you don't mind, go here and vote for it, okay?

Here's the link:

The poll ends at midnight on Tuesday, January 15, which is a really lucky day ... at least if I win.

Anyway, see y'all next week. A real scary day ... Monday the 21st! (shiver)

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Attending Conferences by Margot Justes

It is the New Year, and New Year means this year’s round of conferences that we as writers need to attend. My first conference this year will be Love Is Murder (LIM for short). It is always the first weekend in February. Friday February 1st is registration. The Rosemont Wyndham (IL) is the place to be.

It is a relatively small conference in comparison to the mammoth Bouchercon, but it is an awesome one. Dazzling guests, great panels, a Whiskey tasting accompanied by a bag piper, (I don’t like the taste of whiskey, but love the sound of pipes) camaraderie and just plain friendly folk.

It is a fun conference, but it also is a teaching conference, a networking conference and a great way for the introverted writer (like many of us) to feel comfortable or at least to fake it.

It is an intimate get together of authors, writers, publishers, agents, librarians and the reading fans. What more could one ask.

It you were thinking or just considering attending. Please do it…you will not regret it.

Name tags are de rigueur at LIM, so if you see my name, stop by and say hello.

Till next Saturday,

Margot Justes
The Heat of the Moment Anthology
A Hotel in Paris June 2008
Echelon Press LLC
Available for order on

My Last Post -- by Larry D. Sweazy

Janus, the Roman God, has two faces. One looking back, the other looking forward. I think it is natural this time of year for us all to the same. There is nothing like a fresh start to re-energize, re-focus your dreams, your ambitions, and the path that you would like to take. All the while, looking back, learning lessons from the past (hopefully), and carrying forward any wisdom that has been attained over the year. The diet and stop smoking ads have replaced the warm, gooey, feel-good Christmas ads on TV. In other words, you had your fun, now it’s time to buck up. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut used to say…the cycle continues. Happy New Year.

I’m usually not prone to major shifts in my life at the beginning of the year. Resolutions have never worked for me. The joy of past January's have arrived comfortably in the presence of the ever increasing daylight, and knowing in the coldest nights of the year that somewhere a pair of great horned owls are performing their mating rituals. They will soon begin searching for a nesting site. New life and warmth are on the horizon—that’s usually enough change for me.

My fresh starts have come in the form of my freelance spreadsheets starting at zero—with confidence and ambition assured that they would quickly fill up to match or exceed the previous year. January has previously passed too quickly in a flurry of work. In a blink, the daffodils would be ready to bloom…in another blink the warblers would be migrating north, and in another it would be time for summer vacation—the memory of the cold nights in January stored away with the sweaters, and the next January not even on the radar screen.

But this year seems different for me. I have a nagging feeling to change some things in my life.

In many ways 2007 was a triumphant year for me.

As a freelancer I maintained my pace from the previous year, and I hit the milestone of 500 projects in my career. The deadlines were countless…and I didn’t miss a one. The fourth quarter was brutal. More brutal than I can ever remember. Maybe I’m just getting older…my pace slowing, but it took something out me that I have yet to replace.

As a fiction writer I had my best year ever. I was nominated for a Derringer, and I had short stories accepted by Ellery Queen, Boy’s Life, and Mysterical-E (all to be published in 08). I was also invited into an anthology that will be published by Kensignton Press in the spring of 08. And I began to spread my non-fiction writing wings. I wrote an author profile that appeared in December in Roundup magazine, and I contributed to the upcoming Encyclopedia of the Western Expansion to be published by M.E. Sharpe.

As a novelist, I wrote 2 new proposals, so including the 2 novels my agent is currently shopping, I now have 4 chances at selling a novel.

Like I said, a triumphant year—I can’t complain.

Which, of course, brings me to the present—to looking forward and hopefully to being a little less—busy. It would be nice to focus on one project instead of 50 or 60 over the period of a year. Have one deadline instead of countless ones. As happy as I am with 2007, it wore me out. For the first time in years, I took off 2 weeks over the holidays. I didn’t realize how burnt-out I was.

So I’m taking my cue from Janus—for once—and I’m making some changes at the beginning of the year. A fresh start. My goal?

Write more.

Live more.

Have more fun.

And face less deadlines.

Unfortunately that means I have decided to end my weekly run here at Acme Writers.

I may drop in from time to time to bring you up to date on my comings and goings or comment on Norm’s antics, Rob’s wonderful instruction, DL's beautiful slice of life stories, Todd and Terry's adventures, Margot's lessons, or Morgan's tireless energy.

It has been a great pleasure to share the stage with my fellow writers, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

So, be well. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Work less, have some fun, and I’ll see you around...

All my best,


Friday, January 11, 2008

Subject: Re: Ghost Stories and Umbrellas - the Horror of It All at LIM & Beyond

Guess what -- Love is Murder ( has Mystery
Writers of America's Of Dark & Stormy Nights as a parter, which
means plenty of thriller, mystery, suspense, intrigue and romance
talk, but LIM also has the fearful Twilight Tales as a partner,
and Twilight Tales is about ghosts and goblins both horrendous
and slapstick. Horror and humor often combine with the
supernatural, and I'd like to go deep into the horror and the
humor of it all at LIM in its 10th year at Chicago, first weekend
of February, for Love is Murder is also presenting an Edgar Allan
Poe Book Discussion with excerpts read live (hopefully live)
authors William Kent Kruger, Tess Gerritsen, and Barry Eisler.
But there will be a lot of live authors on hand at LIM and LIM is
hosting the Horror Panel which I will be sharing with moderator
Scarlet Dean, Tracy Carbone, Marilyn Meredith, Wally Cwik, and
Michelle Gagnon--and we intend to blow open wide the preconceived
notions of what constitutes horror.

In addition at LIM there's a panel entitled Feel the Terror (JD
Webb, Darren Callahan, Wally Cwik, Sherry Scarpaci, moderated by
Jennifer Jordan of Crimespree Magazine. Another panel is on
Magic & Sex! This with Scarlet Dean again, Honora Finklestein,
Sue Smily, Rebecca Kholes, Jana Oliver and moderator Carren
Callahan. And interestingly enough one entited When You Know the
Moment is Right (I kid you not!) And of course Joe Konrath is a
one man "horror" show. Of course, Lee Child will be on hand for
the ladies who love suspense with a British accent. But you know
what? Not everyone understands the huge scope, sweep, and power
of ghost stories, supernatural tales of revenants, vaults,
disturbed graves, and horror or reality-based terror. Herein, I
hope to shed some light:

Ghost stories are a natural for the larger umbrella of horror.
Horror is not a genre first but first and foremost an emotiobn;
it is the only genre named for an emotion. Horror appeared on
stage in plays as far back as the Greeks, and I am sure it played
a large part in the gruntings of cavemen about the fire when they
retold the hunmt. It is not so much a category of fiction as it
is a fact of life and an emotion. The word romance is not an
emotion. Western is not an emotion, nor is mystery. Fear is
another word but so far we don't have a section in the bookstore
for Fear books. Under the large umbrella of what constitutes
fear and terror and horror in a reader\person certainly a serial
killer must fall, so the forensic-serial killer chase novel
certainly overlaps with horror. When I began writing the serial
killer series for Dr. Jessica Coran, my eleven book Instinct
series, it was a natural offshoot of having written books wherein
the central antagonist was a monster. It was not much of a
transition to work into human fiends.

The ghost road, ghost hotel, ghost house on haunted hill, the
modern day haunts like the underground parking lot, the
unfinished room, the local Starbucks, etc., all the supernatural
tales are, in my opinion, difficult to pull off. Creating this
niche of horror can go into what we call the psychological
chiller or the physiological chiller, that is a story hinges on
some psychological turn of the screw, or it can hinge upon an
actual, physical presence. There are legitimate ways to terrify
your reader, and there is "going for the gross out" to horrify
your reader. Or as in the best such horror, BOTH. It can be
taken on both levels, leaving it to the reader to decide how much
happened in the mind, how much in this world. And so often much
more reaction can be had from that which is offstage than on,
that which is subtle as opposed to a hammer over the head. Jay
Bonninsinga said of my City for Ransom that "this book will beat
the hell out of you." Music to my ears, and I trust he meant it
in the best most complimentary way but last time I saw Jay, he
was sporting a bandaged head (just kidding here).

When some of us horror authors insist that horror must have a
monster on stage, these folks are being narrow-minded and
somewhat bias as to what the category can and does aspire to in
its best moments. The Horror Writers of America not too many
years ago awarded their highest honor, the Stoker Award (Bram
Stoker, Dracula creator), to Thomas Harris for Silence of the
Lambs. Was that horror? In my and many an author's mind, the
answer must be a resounding yes. Horror is what makes the reader
jump and gasp and start and shakily go on to the next line. I
have had readers tell me they've thrown the book across the
room--my book! This delights me, and when the reader adds, "But
I crawled over there a little later and continued to read" --
well that is music to my ears. At an author's party in Chicago
an 8-year-old sauntered up to me and asked, "Are you the man who
scares my grandma?" I knew her grandma, wife to a writer friend
named Tom Keever, Aurelia. So I confessed up. Then the little
girl conspiratorially added, "And you know what, Mr. Walker?"
What? I asked. "Grandma, she reads your books, true, but each
night she puts them out on the porch. She can't sleep with them
in the house." More music to my ears. I created a sense of fear
and terror in the reader. No apologies.

A really truly wonderful ghost story can have that quality--that
it creates fear or a sense of wonder, or cause beads of sweat at
the back of the neck. Supernatural and ghost stories, I cut my
teeth on them with such shows as One Step Beyond, The Inner
Sanctum, Twilight Zone, and untold numbers of books, one fo the
best being the first Haunted Heartland. Ghost stories do indeed
fit snugly beneath the large, large umbrella of the horror
category in that they can and do induce terror from the reader.

Then again there are humorous ghost stories and inspirational
ghost stories that do not frighten but enlighten and touch upon
the endearing spirit of mankind and womankind. If you've ever
seen Hume Cronin and Jessica Tandy in that wonderful Hallmark
tale wherein Hume's the ghost and Jessica can't leave the old
home because she fears he will really be gone and lost and unable
to find her...that is not terrifying yet it is about a ghost, and
of course you have the Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Disney's Bluebird
or was it Blackbird--comedy. These kinds of ghost stories fail
to horrify yet they do other things as important--maybe more
so--as in make us laugh. You might call these ghost stories
romances, or at east romantic and you could call this one
intrigue, and this one slapstick humor, and this other one
deviously clever literature.

Interestingly enough, just about every author considerd a classic
from Twain to the first novelist and back again has tried his
hand at the ghost story in one fashion or another. Frankenstein
began as telling tales in the dark, remember? So the ghost story
too is a large, large umbrella but most certainly the most
terrifying ghost stories fall into the horror category. In the
end, it is all to do with the author's skill and purpose.

For those looking for folks really into ghost stories go to Tell 'em I sent ya!

Rob Walker
Chicago Tribune calls Rob's Inspector Alastair Ransom Serues
"arguably the most underappreciated series in historical fiction."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Do-Overs!! by DL Larson

No, I don't mean a new hairstyle, I'm talking about the writer's gift of re-doing something when the plot, the characters, the whatever in your story doesn't work the way you envisioned it in your mind. Photographers call it touch-up, race car drivers call it souped-up, actors refer to it as rehearsals. Everyone has the opportunity to work and twist and tweek until their product is as perfect as they can make it. Writers are no exception.

Except too many of us think we're the only ones who have to rearrange words over and over and over and over again. And the sentences still don't read as we intended. Well, let me tell you a little secret ... if you want to succeed, then learn to enjoy the process of revisions. It is a great big part of writing. Revisions are too often compared with the one being stuck taking out the garbage. But what would our books look like, read like, if we didn't clean them up? Ugly, is the answer that came to my mind.

So, add garbage man to your list of duties as a writer. It may be hazardous on occasion, but the benefits are worthwhile. A good garbage man (woman if you prefer) is never in a hurry. Have you ever noticed the garbage truck racing down the street, the worker jumping from one dumpster to the next. No, he lumbers along at a steady pace, dumping every can, leaving nothing behind. You too can be an expert garbage man. You simply need practice.

Yep, you guessed it, the only way to become a great garbage man is by doing. No, you don't have to follow the big stinky truck around town to learn. Try reading your work aloud. You've probably heard this before, but have you actually spoken the words, listening for good cadence, weighing the length of your sentences, judging the variety of your action words? If you can't read but a few pages before stopping, your inner revisionist is trying to tell you something. Perhaps the words are too repetitive. Or you just don't have enough umph to your descriptions. Perhaps the storyline is not clear enough to keep the reader enthralled. Only you, garbage man, can decide what is trash and what is treasure.

Of course, another technique is to let your work set awhile, weeks if need be. And just like trash that's been around too long, the rot will curl your toes as it sits there on your page, ruining your great American novel. Most times you'll spot it quick, the clunky wording, the gaping jump from scene one to scene two; or the awkward transition from paragraph three that read so beautifully in your mind.

When I revise, I read my work over several times, each time looking for something specific. Verb usuage is a biggie, so are pronouns. Try this exercise: take a page of your manuscript and circle all the was, is, to be variations, those passive verbs. Then circle all the he, she, it was, there was, type of words. If many of the he/she begin your sentences - this may cause for boring reading. Try re-arranging your sentence structure to add variety and depth to your storyline. If you have several circles with it is/it was, there was, then you need to throw most of them out and find stronger words to continue your plot.

One last tidbit to share with you; again look over your pages and if you have lines up lines of paragraphs with no dialogue, decide if there might be a better way to extend this information rather than dumping it all on the reader. Ask yourself, am I showing the reader, or telling the reader? For me, I'd rather show the reader, than tell, if at all possible.

When I revise, I do the above techniques through several chapters at a time. I call it getting in the groove . I don't try to rush through, and after awhile it becomes a game like I SPY. I've gotten pretty good over the years, but something will inevitably sneak through. Please don't obsess. It's only words on paper. You can always do a do-over!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: DL will be at the Authors Night, at Barnes & Noble in Deer Park on Feb. 7th, 7-9:00 p.m. Please stop by!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Campaign Has Begun by Morgan Mandel

Politics are monopolizing radio and television shows. The candidates are out selling themselves.

So am I. My romantic comedy, GIRL OF MY DREAMS, about a straitlaced assistant who turns vamp in a reality show to save a dying TV studio, just got released.

My main campaign stumping goes into full gear in February, when I'll meet and greet readers to convince them to buy my book. Right now, I'm in the trenches setting up the booksignings, planning strategies, amassing campaign literature, such as book marks, business cards, flyers, brochures. My husband acts as publicity manager, passing out cards to everyone and sundry.

Here are the campaign stops I've set up so far. More will follow. I hope to see some of you there.

Love is Murder conference - Friday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 3
Wyndham O'Hare Hotel
Rosemont, IL

Barnes & Noble - Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008 7-8:30pm
20600 N. Rand Road
Deer Park, IL 60010

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2008 1-4pm
Arlington Hts Hist.Museum
Dunton Room 110 W. Fremont
Across from the Library)
Arlington Hts., IL 60004

Barnes & Noble - Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008, 12-2pm
DePaul Ctr, State & Jackson
Chicago, IL

Barnes & Noble - Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008, 12-3pm
13 W. Rand Road
Arlington Hts, IL

Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling Conference - Saturday, April 26, 2008
Panel & Signing
The Hyatt,

Fremont Public Library - Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 7 - 8:30pm
Inside Writing & Publishing Series
Back to Basics
1170 N. Midlothian Rd.
Mundelein, IL

Girl of My Dreams is available to, (print & Kindle),,, by order at bookstores.

All the best,
Morgan Mandel

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm not Richard Nixon!!

Okay, maybe by the end of this, you'll be going, 'sure, he's a politician like all the others."

Well, maybe, I have been kissing some babies lately. Their heads are all fuzzy and soft, so it can get kind of addicting. I guess I can understand why the politicians do it all the time.

But why don't they kiss old people, or people with body odor? Old people need comfort and love ... stinky people need, um, well, they can be lovable, too ... from a distance.

If I've offended anyone, I'm sorry.

And you know why I'm sorry?

Because I want/need/desire/crave/ask for your vote!!

'Your vote for what?' you ask. 'Are you running for Congress, President, PTA, your life?

None of those, my second book The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness is entered in Preditors and Editor's Readers Poll Awards for Sci/Fi fantasy.

And get this ... after a week, it's in first.


But I need your help, because I've run all out of friends, relatives and total strangers who can't outrun me on the streets. And I'm not sure I can hold off the ballot-stuffers forever. So if you like what I write here, off the cuff mind you, help me out and go here to give me a vote.

It will only take you about 30 seconds from start to finish. After you vote, for me hopefully ... please ... grovel ... um... you'll get an email asking you to confirm your vote , so don't forget to click the link.

If you're saying to yourself, 'self, I haven't read his book. How can I vote for him in good conscience?'

Never fear, click on the link next to my book to read an excerpt. And believe me, the rest of the book is just as fun.

So go out there and vote!! Do your patriotic duty! And I promise, I'll kiss babies, old people and stinky people. My lips'll be flying. I'll be wrestling Huckabee and Obama for the privilege.

While you're at it, how about a vote for Echelon Press's The Heat of the Moment, the anthology where all profits go to the victims of the California wildfires? Here's that site

Okay, I've bugged you long enough with this.

Gotta go ...


The Adventures of Guy ...written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The New Year by Margot Justes

It is 2008. The New Year is upon us and just as quickly everything else settles into place. It is back to the proverbial grind. Work and more work, along with my paying job, I have a book release to get ready for…and believe it or not, it is not too early.

Small press or big press, the author has to be available, and has to spread the word. That means reviews, press releases, gigs, advertising and anything else that comes along. That is my agenda for this year.

The great news that absolutely delights me is my short story in The Heat of the Moment (the Echelon anthology –where royalties go to San Diego to help the fire victims) I’m sure I mentioned it once or twice, all right, more like a dozen times, but I digress, a few people have read the short story, (a plug here-A Gallery in Chicago) and have loved the story, the characters and can’t wait for the book to come out.

I expect that from family and friends, but praise came from very unexpected circles. Now that is exhilarating, and that helps me to spread the word and promote A Hotel in Paris and of course The Heat of the Moment..

Happy New year to everyone.

Till next Saturday,

Margot Justes
The Heat of the Moment Anthology
A Hotel in Paris June 2008
Echelon Press LLC 2008
Available for pre-order on amazon

Friday, January 4, 2008

Proofreading work and rewriting pleasure by Robert W. Walker

Here is the difference between proofreading (work) and rewriting

Proofreading as a word has always sounded like work to me, work
someone other than a novelist ought to be involved in. Don't get
me wrong. ReWriting is Writing in my book. But please! It is
notproofreading in the manor of a copyeditor because there is a
significant difference if you take the right attitude and turning
oneself into a proofreader, and defining oneself as such by
"putting on one's proofreading hat" seems to me to be defining
that part of the process of writing as a negative instead of a
positive. And as all the self-help books say, negative never
works, and a double-negative is not so good neither. So
already--already--you are in the wrong frame of mind simply by
thinking proof and read rather than rewrite and discover.

Other ways to be in the wrong game or frame of mind when
reWRITING is to think you must do it as soon as your script is on
paper. It is not stretching a point too far to say that you need
to put the script "on ice" either literally as in your freezer or
figuratively as in your drawer for two weeks, a month, two
months? Whatever you are comfy with but you need to get AWAY
from this mountain you've built so as to allow time not to
work on the script but to work on you and your objectivity.

Allow time to work on your less than keen eye for typos and
missteps and wooden dialogue and wrong turns. Time will have
improved your eye for detail and error and new ideas; it will go
from 80-20 to 20-20 or at least much closer to 20-25 if you get
yourself out of the way for a time.

Now what I am about to say is going to sound the opposite of that
last proposition, but really it isn't at all, so bare/bear with

As you write, you may not correct and rewrite while writing--as
that of course sets up a battle between you and yourself, your
creative side with your analytical side--right brain, left. So
while you do not edit and write simultaneously, you CAN and I DO
rewrite in a parobala fashion. This works well for me, and
probably has been developed over a series of books, and not sure
if it is for everyone--most certainly there are many rivers to
the ocean and no one has a lock on how to float there with ease.

However, I have discovered later in my career that I gain
momentum and cleanliness in my manuscripts by writing up to say
chapter three, going back to one and rewriting to that point,
going on to six chapters, swinging back to page one, rewriting up
to that point, and doing the rewrite along the way. Now this
sounds the opposite of "freezing" the results and coming back to them
later, but really is not in opposition to that step which comes AFTER
the entire manuscript is cooked. The parobala rewrite is part
and parcel of my method in my writing process. I don't allow
the editor's hat to go unused for the entire manuscript but
rather don it many times throughout the process, making rewriting
a continuous thread or part of the process of writing. Nothing
negative in this as I "discoveer" and "build" and almost always
lengthen the work as I get more detail on top of detail in, more
triangulation of the five senses, more in the head of characters
gets said, and dialogue is improved on the fly.

Think of it as building a house, but you at first don't have all
the materials and tools necessary to complete the job, so when
you are faced with a stop work order, you don't pack up and
leave; rather you go back to chapter one and recall to mind what
your original room (scene, chapter) required, and you find the
materials and tools at hand to truly fix that first room and by
this time you arrive at room number two (scene or chapter two),
and you are moving forward again, and serendipity plays a major
part as you find the tools and materials you needed for chapter
four where you'd been stymied for lack of building ideas. In the
meantime, you've really cleaned up after yourself while
finishing--up to a point.

Writing is easy, just open a vein, said one old author lost in
time. Who was it? Charlie Wileford maybe? Can't recall. Red Someone?

Have also heard that writing is like lifting a raw egg off a
linoleum floor with your bare hands. Writing is more than just the physical
process as we know. It is a mental process as well, and when an
author says he put in blood, sweat, tears on a script, you can
believe it. He's also put in time, energy, efforts of a
superhuman. Clark Kent would be proud. And he or she does this
without ANY guarantees the effort will ever pay off, and the
payoff for an author might be as simple as getting a thumbs up
from an agent or editor and yet years go by and the script
remains unsold and so unread. Are the "unread" any better off than the
"undead"? Just kidding.

Rewriting is not the same as proofreading. Toss the idea of
proof and reading (the whole thing again?) which only makes
you gnash teeth. Think instead as I do: My best twists and
turns, my best wrought sentences, my best foot forward comes of
writing-rewriting-writing-rewriting. I had done the parobala
thing as I wrote it, and I had put it away for nearly a month,
and now I can SEE the typos far more clearly as I am not as close
to the trees as before, and I have seen where I have belabored a
point or used a line or a word too often, and I have seen
characters change, and what is really fun is having a line or two
attributed to one character that gets sliced and diced so that
two and sometimes three characters are going to share those
lines. Makes for faster and more natural dialogue and keeps you
from creating the "blow-hard" character who goes on for
paragraphs giving a speech or lecture. Break up those Obi-wan
character lines. Recall that Obi-wan was the guy who had all the
answers but he did not reveal them all at once.

As to what I've been doing for the past week as well as this
weekend, I have been RE-WRITING my DEAD ON manuscript. Man this
would make a great movie staring Jennifer Gardner, Ben Afleck,
and Matt Damon.

Hey, I have been busy so have failed to answer everyone in timely
manner. I cope with the Holidays by gettting work done. At any
rate, Happy Holidaze to one and all, and I have enjoyed the fried
chicken stories. Watched as a child my dear, beloved grandmother
go out to the chicken coup in Tuskeegee, Alabama to break a few
necks with her bare hands so's we'd've food on the table that
night while visitin from Chicago (my mom's family). Remember
proof-readin is work but rewriting is fun and filled with aha
moments and discoveries and revelations!

Rob Walker (new stuff up there!)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Contests and Cliche's!! by DL Larson

Happy New Year!!

This week I've been reading humorous fiction for a contest I'm helping to judge. I've truly learned to appreciate the hard task it is to find the best book in each category, so I was especially elated when I received an email notice that my upcoming book, Promises My Love won an award in the Brighid's Fire Book Fiction Contest. Promises My Love, a historical romance, won second place! I even get monetary reward, yippee! The first place winner is Lunar Mourning by Laurie Albano, a horror romance; and the third place is titled, Beyond the Morning Star, by Alex Watson, a science fiction. I don't know either one of these authors, but a big Congrats to each for their hard work. Better yet hard work that someone took notice of. That's really rewading!

So that brings me back to the current book I'm reading/judging. I so badly want to tell this author about the simple, but frustrating mistakes made in editing. The CLICHES! This could have been an awesome book if only someone had told this writer to pull the over-used phrases and insert something fresh, something the character in the story might use. Instead, one hand tied behind her back, eating out of the palm of her hand, no problem, damned if she did, damned if she didn't, made a pact with the devil, lightning strikes the same place twice, slow this book down to ordinary and not very exciting, or funny.

Please understand, I want to like this book. I want to really like this book, but as a writer, I find myself mentally fixing these bumps in the road. It doesn't matter if one has a top paying publisher or self-publishing was done, every writer needs an objective eye to sift through their storyline and pick out the deadwood. If this writer had paid a professional editor to catch the ordinary phrases, or had their high school English teacher help them, or found someone bold enough to say it needs work here, here and here,then this novel would have been in great competition form.

So, my New Year's Resolution is to be as conscientious about my own writing. Finding new and exciting, silly, or provocative ways to say something ordinary is what makes for good writing. Lazy writers may hate cliche's, but a good writer hunts 'em down, and kicks 'em out of their book.

How do you change a cliche'? Consider the infamous: "It was a dark and stormy night." Here's a few examples that may give you an idea or two.

Cowpoke version: "That durn storm turned meaner than an angry sweetheart."
Dainty and fussy version: "Why those clouds rushed up so fast, I thought I'd lose my petticoats."

Cliche's can be the place where your character's personality comes alive, the reader gets an insight to the character they wouldn't be able to grasp in an ordinary, over-used phrase. So, be the good writer, and kick them no good critters (sorry, Norm) out of your story. You'll be glad you did.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I, like so many other people, am starting the New Year with some New Year's Resolutions. Here are my personal goals, as well as how they jive with my writing goals.

Personal Goals:

1. Lose Weight - If I like something, I tend to go overboard.
2. Lower my cholesterol - I eat too many things that are bad for me.
3. Get more exercise - I should exercise at home when I can't walk on snow or ice.
4. Be more organized - Wow, this I try, but never seem to master.
5. Clean my house better - This goes along with the organized part, but deeper. I need to clean the parts of the house people who visit never see!

Writing Goals:
1. Gain Weight - I need to add more details to my work-in-progress, round out, add depth to the characters, add more chapters, spend more time on my WIP.

2. Lower my cholesterol - I need to eliminate passages and phrases I like but shouldn't be there.

3. Get more exercise - I need to get out to more booksignings.

4. Be more organized - I really need to find a way to control all the paperwork involved with promotion. I've got business cards, postcards in a box on one table, mailing labels I just printed on another, copies of e-mails and answers from reviewers and blogspots on another. I'm so afraid I'll forget something, everything's in the way. I really should get some clear folders together so I can see what's in them, yet they won't be scattered.

5. Clean my house better - Not only should I do #4, but I really should go through my e-mail messages and eliminate a great many of othem. Other people don't see them, but I do and they get in the way!

What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

From dissonance to consonance

Whether you were happy to see 2008 arrive or looked back at the last twelve months and wish you could have stopped the clock, you probably marked the coming of the new year with a set of resolutions.

We all make these--eat better, spend less, exercise more, lose weight, write more, and so on.

It's also a tradition that we make these resolutions with the almost sure knowledge that we're going to break them. Oh, we'll last two weeks, maybe a month, but soon habit or life or the combination get in the way. It's probably safe to say that many of us make the same resolutions year after year, and year after year we break them in short order.

At least we're consistent.

So we make and then break our resolutions. Then comes guilt, and with guilt comes--well, cookies. And so we feel better.

In Novelist's Boot Camp we teach and preach methods to discipline your creativity and so make more progress. In the book and accompanying workshops (the first of which will be the first weekend in February at the Love is Murder readers' and writers' conference--ya'll come) we offer strategy and tactics to get your imagination and creative energy in formation.

At the same time, a key point in the book and the workshop is that while writing a novel is hard work, it should be rewarding, pleasant hard work. One of the key principles is to celebrate success. This is critical for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that life is short and success is much more fun that failure.

So how does this philosophy impact on making--and perhaps even keeping--New Year's Resolutions?

One way would be the strictly logical method of breaking your resolution into very small, very attainable steps or goals and then rewarding yourself for achieving those goals. In so doing, you'd set yourself up for success and increase the likelihood that you'd take the next step, meet the next goal, and eventually achieve what you resolved to do.

That's a perfectly sound method--except that it overlooks the fact that New Year's Resolutions are made to be broken and that what we offer in Novelist's Boot Camp is to have fun, be mischievous, let your creativity loose, make not just waves but trouble, and think bigger and bolder and more exciting.

And in Novelist's Boot Camp we also tell writers to stop doing what doesn't work.

Therefore, in the spirit of resolutions that we all make only to break and with an eye to making progress and reinforcing success (and making trouble), here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2008.

I will write less, and if I do, it will be junk.
I will eat like horse--and junk food only. If it says "natural," out it goes!
No fun this year--nope, none. Done with that.
I am definitely staying out of the health club.
I refuse to deal with things in my life that bother me--I'm gonna let 'em fester good.
I'm closing my mind to new ideas and experiences--don't bother to even suggest any.
No promotion for the next 12 months--you want my book, look for it on your own.
Patience-hah! I'm gonna be cross and grumpy.
Forget reading--turn on the TV! I'm going to record episodes of "Maury" for playback!
I will make the credit card companies adore me.

There, that's a start.

I see a great year--and cookies--in my future. I hope there's a great year, great writing, great progress, and cookies in your future as well.

See you at Love is Murder