Friday, October 31, 2008

Where Dead Authors Go by Robert W. Walker

Here it is Friday again, and I am stuck for something to blog about, but the entire week a chat group I am involved with has been talking about the passing of Tony Hillerman and another author, Elaine Flinn. I know both through their books but unfortunately did not know either personally. I will say, however, that at any time I hear of the passing of an artist, an actor, a muscian, a doer of good deeds, and a writer, I feel a deep personal loss, and I don't exaggerate the sense of loss I feel for the Earth...for the world...that disturbance in the universe that Obi Wan Kenobi of Star Wars fame speaks of.

Not that all life isn't important, but writers are purveyors of entertainment and enlightenment, and so often they are also purveyers of truth and like the best of our comedians in a sense, the voice of our consciience -- as most good stories are about doing the wrong thing and doing the right thing, good vs. evil, smart vs. dumb.

Most certainly Tony Hillerman was a storyteller first but I am willing to bet that his many millions of raders would agree that his stories depicted the consequences of our actions, the consequences of greed and theft and deviousness and the consequences of good-heartedness, a positive belief in right, and he sent these "messages" adroitly through his fiction. The irony of it is that people think fiction--at least many folks do--think it frivolous, when in fact it is about life and death and every huge and enormous passion in between--vengeance, love, hatred, wonder, you name it.

Elaine Flinn was about the same kind of work --entertaining and informing. Writers either have a special place in Heaven, in my book, or they "write" themselves a space. I recall as a child in junior high school deciding that being a writer was the most noble profession of all. I believed that then, perhaps naively, and you know what? I have not lost that naivete. Books inform us, stories tell us who we are at bottom. Novels and mysteries absolutely touch on our best and our worst qualities; they condemn and they uplift us, often in the same paragraph. Such men as Tony Hillerman and ladies as Elaine Flinn act as a gauge and a focus for all who pick up their books and read. Authors, so far as I am concerned, are the voice we give to reason, and the light we shine on insanity and obsession and the human condition.

Those who devote their lives and their waning years to such an effort we can only applaud, admire, and aspire to.

Robert W. Walker
eBookARC giveaway at - new site, new deals!
NetDrag indepth interview on ipodcast at

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! by DL Larson

The year was 1966, on October 27 when America witnessed Peanuts first Halloween special. Since then, I and anyone else as old as me, could have watched it every year for the last forty years! That's a lot of peanuts!

What makes a classic anyway? Is it when innocence is destroyed as when Linus realizes Lucy has killed the giant pumpkin by stabbing it and then scooping out the guts?

Or is it the humor of it all, and seeing ourselves portrayed in others? Like when Linus jumps into a pile of leaves with his sticky sucker, or Charlie Brown inevitably ends up on his back when trying to kick a ball? Those familiar mishaps happen to us all and we laugh at the absurdity of it being acted out.

But there has to be more for a cartoon/animated special to last forty years. The message, perhaps rooting for the underdog is universal too. Linus wants the Great Pumpkin to be as famous as Santa Claus. He even proclaims those in second place try harder! And so year after year, we watch Linus hunker down to wait for the Great Pumpkin's coming. And year after year we see Charlie Brown trying to console him when once again, the Great Pumpkin fails to show. Forty years and Linus refuses to give up!

I love that story! I too have been waiting a long time for my dream to become a reality. But I've learned something Linus hasn't. I can't wait beneath my blanky for a miracle to happen. I have to nurture my dream, I must cultivate it into something worthwhile. I prune, and tweak, and rewrite my dream until it is more than a wish, but a plan. I've taken my dream and worked it into something three dimensional.

And then, then I must show my plan to others besides my family and friends. That too reminds me of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, because I've received my share of rocks in the form of rejection letters. Over the years I've gathered a grocery bag or two, just like Charlie Brown receiving rocks when he went trick or treating. There's been friends too, who have helped me to come in out of the cold and misery when my efforts, my hopes didn't materialize as I thought they should. Lucy was there for Linus and I'm thankful for the friends and family who have helped me not to give up either.

Someday the Great Pumpkin will arrive! And I will be cheering right along with Linus, saying "I told you he was coming!" Until then, I plan to work hard, get the words on the paper the way I want them to read, and do everything in my power to keep my plan growing, letting folks see my work, and most of all, enjoy the journey.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo with an Outline by Morgan Mandel

I don't know how I'm going to juggle this into my schedule, but I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo anyway. In the next few days, I'll get some posts ready ahead of time for my blogs and schedule them, so I'll be able to concentrate more on getting a new novel of 50,000 words done in one month's time!

Sounds daunting, but it's a challenge. I'll see how far I can get. If you care to join in the challenge, here's the link: You can sign up to be my buddy also. Just look for MorganMandel.

Anyway, for this NaNoWriMo thing, I'm going to get an outline and synopsis ready, with major characters, plot points, conflicts, anything else I can think of included, so when it's time to write, hopefully I can do just that.

I usually don't have to worry about deadlines and the boring necessity of an outline or synopsis, but I've got to do as much as I can ahead of time. I can't wait for inspiration to strike me, since it may happen in December and not November, which won't count for this undertaking.

I've got to ask. How many of you use an outline or synopsis, or do you just rely on inspiration?

Back to my outline now. I'll let you know how things are going.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Everything We Do Makes A Difference

It's not uncommon to think that as one individual, what we do everyday, the choices we make, the words we say do not make a difference in anyone else's life. Well that's not true. Want to test this theory? Smile at someone next time for no reason at all. Just smile at a stranger. Don't feel comfortable doing that? Then say thank you. Say thank you to the clerk who helps you at the store, say thank you to the person who answers the phone when you have a question. Say thank you to the waitperson the next time you eat out, just say thank you to anyone who provides a service to you in your everyday life. They're all people too - just like you and me. Say thank you and see what a difference it makes in someone else's life and see just how powerful that is. See what kind of energy flow you ignite by saying two little words - Thank You.

Okay now here's the real test.

The planet is overly stressed and one of the most stressed resources is potable - or drinkable water. Think about what you can do everyday to make a difference for the planet. Think about what you can do to say thank you to the planet, to mother earth. Having a tough time? Then go to this link and find out when this program is playing in your area or order the DVD.

I was born and raised in Southern California but now live in the Chicago area. I arrived here almost two decades ago after leaving the military. I noticed the differences between the regional philosophies almost immediately, especially with regards to water consumption. During my school years the idea of water conservation was heavily promoted. I turn the water off while I brush my teeth and I don't let the water run in the kitchen at work like a number of folks do. I know there are limits to this resource having grown up with droughts.

Often when I'd point out these habits to folks they'd laugh at me and point to the Great Lakes as if they were an endless source of water. I countered with the argument that if overnight hundreds, even thousands of bottlers setup shop around the lakes and produced around the clock then the Great Lakes wouldn't be so great anymore. I was told that would never happen. Well, that particular scenario didn't but something else did and something else threatens to happen. More and more municipalities are switching over to lake water and guess what? States from other regions are asking to tap into the Great Lakes to solve their own water shortage problems. The lakes have lowered due to this and the fact that rainfall has fallen short over the years. That day that so many said would never come is bitting us in the back side.

As serious as I know this problem is I started to succumb to some of the same complacency that many others do. I like the conveinence of bottled water and like to keep several cases around for going to the gym and long road trips. I rationalized that since I recycle the empty bottles, the impact is at least mitigated to some extent and perhaps it is. BUT, cost aside, I'm using less bottled water and drinking more from the filter I put on my kitchen sink's faucet. Ironically, I've had a filter on the faucet for years and I've even put one on the faucet at work but I still kept lots of bottled water around just in case. I still have some bottled water but have reduced it significantly. This is my way of saying thank you to the planet and mother earth.

Think what you do doesn't matter? Well it does and just think how important you are when you do the right thing - when you say thank you to someone or the planet for helping you get through your day. Want to be even more impressive? Followup with an email or a hand-written note. Now, talk about a resource that is in peril! The hand-written note is something to be cherished these days as it is much more of a rarity. I'm hoping that this note I've written today will inspire everyone who reads it to say thank you and actually pick up a pen and write. Have a glass of tap filtered water while you're at it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Austin Camacho About Branding, Trailers & Publicists

Acme Authors Link Again Welcomes Austin Camacho, who has more questions to answer for our readers.
Austin is the author of four detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series plus a great marketing book, Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century.

Hello, everyone,

I’m back to respond to a few more of your comments left from my marketing-oriented
blog last week.

Marvin asked about branding, which I think a 2-sided issue. For us fiction guys it’s about giving our characters or our series an identity. I do it with this logo that should make everyone think of the Hannibal Jones Mysteries. The logo goes on mugs and tee shirts I use as giveaway incentives. Hannibal, as a character, is branded by a pair of Oakley sunglasses, black gloves and the Sig Sauer P-220 he carries.

But if you want to be known as “THE GUY or gal when it comes to such and such, which you just happen to be an author on the topic” then I suggest you give your expertise away. Write articles and offer them to all the free posting places on line and all the appropriate blogs. Start your own blog answering questions sent in. Maybe start a podcast on which you give some valuable info every week. And consider linking your name as much as possible to more recognizable people in your field, if there are such.

Brian mentioned his success with book trailers, and introduced the idea of updating them regularly. This may have the same effect of doing a video blog – new content regularly does hold an audience. That could be as simple as setting up a camera and talking to it about your book or your writing every week. I hope we hear more about this new idea.

Helen’s comment about the look and feel of self-published books made me want to expand a little on my camouflage principle. She’s probably right that many consumers are just as likely to give a new author a try whether they’re published by Random House or self-published. But first they have to see it. If you want your books to be in bookstores, the bookstore manager needs to be comfortable stocking them. If they look amateurish to him or her, they won’t get ordered.

There is also the matter of genre. If you look in the different sections of your local bookstore you’ll see that SF books just don’t look the same as mysteries and romances have a whole different look. Each genre has a predictable range of page count, typeface, margins, the way chapter headings are set up, cover style, price – a number of little indicators that are almost subliminal to readers. If you want strangers who are looking for a new thriller to pick up your book, it needs to carry those little clues that say “thriller” to that reader.

L.J asked the big questions: Have I ever spent money on a publicist. Well, yes I have and mostly regretted it. I soon learned that anything they can do, I can do just as well or sometimes better. But I made the mistake of expecting someone else to drive my success. Today I would not hire anyone to do anything without some sort of guarantee. Then I can see if what I’m paying for is worth the money. So, for example, if you’re too busy to book your own blog tour, don’t pay someone to do it unless they commit to getting you on a minimum number of blogs within a predetermined timeframe.

I do believe in hiring independent contractors to do publicity support work. For example, you might pay someone to do the research on which magazines reach your chosen audience best if you plan to invest in print advertising. I pay someone to schedule bookstore signings for me. I pay her a set amount for each manager she contacts and an additional amount for each event that she schedules. I suppose that makes her my publicist, and I find that managers respond differently to a call from your “publicist” than they do to call from an author.

But as they say on TV, your results may vary. I’d love to hear from anyone who has had real success that they attribute to a publicist’s work.

Again, thank you all for being such good hosts. And keep writing – that’s the best way to promote yourself as an author!

Austin S. Camacho
Purchase Link:

He's back - Austin S. Camacho is Here to Answer Your Questions

Acme Authors Link Again Welcomes Austin Camacho, the author of four detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series plus a great marketing book, Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century
Signings, conferences and good word-of-mouth.

First, thanks to everyone for their questions and comments. You’ve really made me feel welcome here!

Morgan asked what single marketing action has sold the most books for me and I admitted it had to be book signings. I’m pretty extroverted and do best face to face, but I hope that doesn’t discourage the wallflowers among you. My book, “Successfully Marketing your Novel in the 21st Century” divides tactics into “active” and “passive” marketing. I’m more an active guy, but both are important.

However, you can’t just show up at a bookstore and expect to sell books. You need to make sure the manager knows you’re there to help him or her, not just yourself. Send bookmarks and posters in advance. Posters announce that something special is coming. Bookmarks dropped in every bag are good reminders. When you arrive have a table sign or wear a button that says, “Author” so people don’t think you’re just the Wal-Mart greeter. And speak to every person who comes thru the door. I like to link myself to the store name, since they already know the store. Something like,

“Hi, Borders is featuring my mystery novels today. Are you a mystery reader?”

Newt asked about a different face-to-face interaction: conferences. I love them, and I go with an agenda, and it’s NOT selling books. On the one hand, I want readers to remember me and my books, so I get on panels if I can and between panels I walk around, making myself available for people to talk to.

The other side of conferences is networking. You want other writers to remember you too. At Bouchercon I got commitments for blurbs for my next book from 2 guys who said nobody ever asks them for blurbs. Bob Randisi founded the Private Eye Writers of America. Jon Jordan publishes Crimespree Magazine. You might not know the names but their titles sure will look good on my book. And I didn’t meet either of them at Bouchercon. We had met at previous events. They know me as part of the community.

New writers should be networking too… with editors and agents who also hang out at cons. At writer events they’re like scouts at spring training. I’m not sure buying a 10-minute chat helps, but sharing a coffee with an agent between panels can separate you from everyone else. When your manuscript lands on their desk it helps if they recognize your name.

Newt also asked about making the writer’s name stick in people’s mind. I think repetition is the key here. (Remember the Saturday Night Live skits written by “Me… Al Franken.”) So blog. Do guest blogs. Send a newsletter. Sit on panels at cons. Review other peoples’ books. Just toss your name around like confetti and it will stick.

And if you want word-of-mouth for your books, ask people to do you the favor of mentioning your books to others. And consider giving something in return. The official members of “Austin’s Army” might get a Hannibal Jones T-shirt or mug. How about a contest? Maybe free books for the winner, but to enter people have to send in two links to social media web sites where they mentioned your book. I plan to try that with the next book.

Be creative, and don’t be shy about asking readers for their help.

I’ll address more of your questions on tomorrow’s blog. Meanwhile, keep writing!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We Need More, please! by DL Larson

The best advice I can give today is to re-read our guest blogger from yesterday!!!
Austin S. Camacho, man of mystery and marketing, shared valuable information for all writers.

Take notes, study his methods, buy his book! Ask him questions. He'll be back here at AcmeAuthors on Sunday and Monday to share more of his ideas with us. Mark your calendar!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MEET AUSTIN S. CAMACHO, THIS WEEK'S MAN OF MYSTERY AND MARKETING - and see him again This Coming Sunday & Monday!

Acme Authors Link Extends a Warm Welcome to
this week's guest, Austin Camacho, the author of four detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series -

Blood and Bone, Collateral Damage, The Troubleshooter, and Damaged Goods, plus two action thrillers, The Payback Assignment and The Orion Assignment. Active in several writers’ organizations, Camacho is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, and teaches writing at Anne Arundel Community College. After a career as a military news reporter on the American Forces Network, Camacho is now a public affairs specialist for the Defense Department.

Austin has sold thousands of his novels as a Print-On-Demand author, a self published author, and as a writer published by a small press. He also wants you to succeed as an author, and he shares everything he has learned in a decade of self-promotion in his new book, “Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century.”


And now...Some words from Austin About Marketing....

Basic Principles for Book Marketing

My latest book, “Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century” is filled with the specific details of what has worked or not worked for me since I first published a Print on Demand mystery in 1999. I’d love to share it all with you here, but that would take me 240 pages. So instead, I decided to share three basic principles I use to guide my marketing decisions.


Step one: decide what tools and techniques you’ll use for promotion and write a marketing plan. Map out the timing of your marketing strategy. Study what the big publishers do. For example, why do they say the release date is in November when they have books to sell in June? It’s because reviewers want the Advance Readers Copies that far in advance. If your book looks like an ARC and they get it that far out, reviewers might mistake it for a big publisher’s book and review it. That’s how my Collateral Damage ended up in Library Journal. My book contains a sample marketing plan to help get you started.


First, your book needs to look like the others in your genre. Big publishers ensure this as a matter of course, and small presses usually do pretty well too. Their experienced book designers, artists and marketing teams create the standard look and feel. But if you’re self-published or a POD author, it’s up to you.

Why must your book look, feel, and smell like everyone else’s? Because readers decide to buy based on a large number of subconscious signals a book sends them. They’ve been trained by publishers to expect certain things. They’ve also been conditioned by those same publishers to believe that any book worth reading will be published by them. We know that’s not true, of course, but a book that says “self-published” to the consumer also says “amateur.” The same applies to booksellers. Your focus should be to make your book look as professional as possible, from the layout of the words inside to the cover art you choose.

And of course the author needs to look, sound, and act like a professional writer too, but that should not be camouflage. That’s what you are, right? So solicit blurbs and reviews the way the pros do. Approach speaking and signing engagements like the pros do. For example, I don’t think James Patterson makes those calls for himself, so I don’t either.

Evidence-based Marketing

Put simply – Don’t spend money on any marketing technique unless someone can show you proof that somebody has made money doing it. There are a lot of predators out there hawking radio interviews, blog tours, web site advertising, and who knows what else. But unless you can speak to a satisfied customer don’t plunk down your dollars. Besides, there isn’t much some publicist can do for you that you can’t do yourself.

Book trailers are the hot new thing, but I don’t know anyone who has told me they saw a spike in sales when they put on out on the internet. I won’t pay to have one produced until I do. However I was able to barter some writing work and exposure to get a tech-savvy friend to video tape me introducing one of my books. Then I posted it on about 30 web sites - for free. If you e-mail me thru my web site - - I’ll send you the list.

Those basic concepts will take you a long way in marketing your fiction. If you have specific questions, about book signings, readings, internet marketing or anything else, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to respond to them in a later blog.
Thanks, Austin.

Sign of the Times

Everyone it seems is having financial difficulties. We can't turn to any form of the news without hearing about how bad the stock market is, how much trouble small businesses are in or how much more heating and medical care will cost. So what's a person to do?

I've often talked about how I grew up without much of anything. I started working at eleven years old to buy my own clothes, food and lots of other things but I don't remember worrying as much about medical care as I do today for my daughter. Don't get me wrong - we often didn't receive medical care because we didn't have the money but it wasn't as disruptive as it seems to be these days and obviously I'm alive to talk about it. I actually remember as a young child when I was ill that the doctor made house calls. I also remember my mother taking me to the doctor and the office visit cost $10.00. That wasn't the co-pay, that was the cost. Even then my mother still had to work out a payment plan because after all there were seven of us - children that is.

Now, I'm only 52 so we're not talking that long ago - not really - but it makes one wonder as to what happened to our medical system and living environments that it costs so much money to receive any kind of medical care and that we need so much of that care. Interestingly, clinics are popping up in pharmacies and other places to offer more convenient and affordable care to the masses. Now there are critics of this system of course, but I'm a fan of my local convenient care medical facility, especially on the weekends. I always followup with my primary doctor but then I have health insurance and a stable job AND I live in a community that has lots of resources.

Whatever the reasons are that we have the medical care system we have, something needs to be done about it. It's gotten to the point that people are afraid to retire, not only because of the economy and the loss in their retirement funds, but because most companies no longer offer medical care into retirement. So, if you retire prior to 65 (when you're first eligible for medicare) you have very limited and very expensive options. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years, but I'm significantly disappointed that we've reached the point we have. I think there's lots of blame and responsibility to go around, including with each of us.

I decided several years ago that I needed to be my own advocate when it comes to health care and many, many other aspects of life. I've been modifying many areas of my lifestyle in terms of nutrition, exercise, mental and emotional awareness, and overall quality of life. I often tell people the best way to stay afloat in retirement is to stay healthy and happy. One of the best ways to do that is with exercise activities such as yoga. I'm declaring myself an unofficial cheerleader of yoga - except no pom poms. (I actually had pom poms in high school when I was a member of the school drill team but these days they seem to have a very different and cruder meaning. Okay, so I have those too!) A sense of humor is also extremely important in living a healthy life.

I attend two different yoga classes right now and have two different instructors and sometimes there are substitutes for my weekend class. But I especially like my one instructor during the week. His yoga class is one of the highlights of my week. He just has that right blend of knowledge and funness (okay, so that's not really a word - is it?) that makes the class a pleasure. Sometimes it's a painful pleasure depending on what he has us do to include attempting to stand on our heads. I strongly believe that with something like yoga one has to make it a part of their lifestyle for the rest of their life and having an instructor one can emotionally and mentally connect to is, well priceless.

So, get out there and take care of yourself. This financial crisis will pass. It may take a few years but hopefully we're all learning something about ourselves and our world as a result, and that we will make the changes we need to make to live a life that can withstand the ups and downs that are always going to be a part of it. My prescription? Take two yoga classes and don't call me in the morning!

Stay healthy and happy.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What's a Little Goose between Friends

I’d pay money to see it I thought to myself, looking through the glass at the goose. And I wouldn’t get mad about it, either.

The goose in question was guarding the office door one day last spring, between my car and me. He was nibbling at a cigarette butt, probably trying to figure out why we stupid humans take a perfectly good leaf, wrap it in paper, put fire on one end and suck on the other end. Put that way, it’s a pretty good question, even for a bird-brain.

Anyway, what I would pay money for would be to see this big guy do a flip. Or even a cartwheel. That’d be okay, too.

I’m sure most of you are following me, but the rest of you, I’ll give you some background.

The Canada goose and his wife have taken up residence under a sign, just twenty feet away from a busy highway. The nearest body of water is a dried out drainage ditch, and thousands of cars and trucks rumble past every day. But Mrs. Goose doesn’t seem to mind the hustle and bustle, and even went ahead and laid two eggs in the dirt at the base of the sign. They take turns sitting on the eggs and pooping out huge goose speed bumps in our parking lot.

I tried to imagine how they ended up here, and could only come up with two different scenarios. The first has them flying back up to Wisconsin from their winter home in Tennessee, and while banking through a turn, Mrs. Goose squawks, and honks, “Oh, no, my water broke.” So, Mr. Goose glides down with her to the nearest patch of green, where she does Lamaze before finally laying her eggs.

Or, in my opinion, more likely, Mrs. Goose, tired of life in the country, with marsh grass, bugs and cow manure, convinced her husband to move her to a condo in the big city, close to Starbucks.

So while I waited for Mr. Goose to mosey away, I wondered what it is about acrobatic birds that cause road rage. Sure, I wasn’t happy that he was keeping me from my car, but I wasn’t about to pull a gun and shoot anything. But there are a lot of people out there, especially the ‘alleged’ people who drive Grand Prix’s, who wouldn’t hesitate to run over granny if a bird was flipped at them.

Not me though. If I saw a bird flip, I’d just have to stop and applause. Think about it. Birds just aren’t equipped for that kind of physical feat. Sure, wings help, but still it’d be a difficult maneuver. So if a bird flipped at me, I’d just have to stop and give it some money or some Canada Goose Kibbles & Bits or something. Make it feel appreciated.

So I’m going to watch and wait for the chicks to hatch. Then, when they leave their nest and waddle off towards the nearby highway, maybe they’ll put on a show worth watching. Road rage indeed.

I’ll be rooting for Mrs. Goose.


Fang Face (Young Adult humor/vampire – coming August 2009)
The Adventures of Guy … written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy … more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back in the Saddle

...or should I say back at the keyboard.

I had a great day yesterday! Want to know why?

I actually did some writing. Real writing. Not a blog, not a promo, not e-mails (although I did those, too!) I was finally able to make some progress with the manuscript I'm working on. Believe me, it was no mean feat. I've been going through a frustrating, pull-my-hair-out, dry spell for months now.

Finally yesterday, something clicked and I was able to get pages of work done. That's right. Pages. Not just some words, but actual pages that move the story forward.

You'd be proud of me. My husband and I went out with a group of friends for dinner last night. I opted out of the "after party" at a friend's house to come home and write. I even gave up some of my precious reading time to write. Easier said than done as I'm in the middle of a fabulously addictive series that I literally can't put down.

And even better than getting that satisfying hour and a half at my computer, I now know how to get my story where it needs to go. The ideas are spinning and things are starting to come together.

See, I always have a general idea of where I want my story to go. Then I "simply" need to figure out how to get it there. Over the last few months, that hasn't been working for me. The story wasn't getting anywhere fast. I knew if I was patient and waited it out, something would click, and away I'd go.

I'm going all right. Trouble now is finding the time to get all of this down on paper. As usual, it's a busy Sunday. (What ever happened to that day of rest from long ago?) Bt as long as the thoughts and ideas keep spinning, I know I'll find time to get them down. Whether it's at my computer or scrawled on notebook paper, those words will flow.

And I couldn't be more excited.

So, now I need to sign off so I can put my pencil to paper, or my fingers to the keyboard in this case, and keep my flow going. Now that the gates have finally opened, I don't want to impede them in any way!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hello from the Hoosier State by Margot Justes

It's Saturday night and it has been a long day, therefore it will be a short blog.

I had a book signing at the Barnes and Noble in Lafayette, IN. I was made to feel very welcome, signed all the books I didn't sell and was told they would go in the mystery section and put on the shelf.

Went to dinner with my daughter at Bea One and had great Sushi and now it's late and I'm tired.

I'm using a lap top that I do not really feel comfortable using, so I will say goodnight.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How I Learnt to'Write or Read as Writers Read by Robert W. Walker

You read. If you want to be a writer, you read. Then you read more. After this, you sit or stand or lay down on the hammock with a book and guess what, you read. Writers who eventually get published have been lifelong readers and so lifelong learners. But writers who succeed not only read, they read as a writer.

If you are confused by that last statement, pick up ten or so How To Write books from your local library and look at the last chapter of each. Most will end with READ like a WRITER, and if they don’t end the book with this chapter, they will begin with it, and if not, look for this chapter somewhere in the How To. Read like a writer, which could be extended to OBSERVE like a writer, be tuned in like a writer. Reading like a writer means keeping a close pulse on how the guy who wrote the book I just read moved me…moved me to laughter here, to tears there, to mixed emotions in another scene—intending it so. Read with a close eye to how another author, someone who has come before you created a memorable character, a hated character, a beloved character, a beloved or disturbing setting, a fight scene, a love scene.

I “cut my writing teeth” on Dumas, Twain, H.G. Wells, Conan Doyle, Dickens (all of whom moved me). If I was particularly moved by a scene or a dialogue section or the setting of the stage, or the language itself, I would re-read that “moving” moment in the story, asking “How did Dumas do that to me?” or “How did Twain pull that out of me?”

With my City Series – City for Ransom, Shadows in the White City, and City of the Absent—soon to be E-books from HarperCollins, I began to fulfill a prophecy by none other than Dean R. Koontz. Dean said to me once, “Calm down, kid. You don’t do your best work until you turn fifty.” He was so right (by the way, Dean Koontz was one of the many authors I READ as a WRITER reads, to learn from). The City Series came after I had come well into my fifties. What I learned from writing this trilogy was that I could take ALL the lessons learned from the masters before me and put those lessons to work for me. I believe the City books my best work to date. I hope that some young writers some day pick up one of the City titles and reads it as a writer reads and sees clearly how I managed to pull tears or fears or both from him or her.

My next title returns me to the present and back from the year 1893 to 2009, current day Atlanta and the darkest woods anywhere on the Georgia-Tennessee border area in DEAD ON. Dead On was intended to please another author I call friend, Ed Gorman, founder of Mystery Scene Magazine and a man who has helped more mystery and horror writers than anyone on the planet. DEAD ON is dedicated to Ed who called me up and asked me to please send him something he could publish for me via Five Star/Tekno Books.

Now it may seem less than humble of me to offer anyone here who is a young author an opportunity to learn from me in a fun-filled way, but as Twain was loathe to say, “I was born humble, but it wore off.” Such is the case with my turning 60 on November 17th – cards and letters welcomed. I have been putting fiction on blank pages now since my 11th birthday. That’s about fifty years. I submit to you that reading DEAD ON could well teach you something about dialogue (Tess Gerritsen, who loved Dead On, particularly loved the dialogue, calling it rapid-fire fun), setting—Atlanta and the Georgia woods—characterization (Ken Bruen particularly loved the characters), the voice, plotline, beginning, ending, and more. And you can do so FREE, as the book is being offered to any reader willing then to say a word—either pro or con—about the book to one other person, book club, chat group, or other party. The free form is in the form of a pdf
file which with the click of a click goes right to you, and you can convert it to use on a palm pilot, a sony reader, a kindle or your PC and printer.

If you are seriously interested in improving your writing, you could not do better than to get your hands on the pre-publication E-book ARC (the final version), and it is available right beside the fantastic cover art that goes along with it at

Rob Walker

The Dreaded Curse! by DL Larson

It starts with the moaning, then moves directly to groaning. The slightest noise grabs my attention. What was that? I discern the clunk over and over, making no progress as to its origin. I rest my head again, punch my pillow to get it just right. Next comes the deep sighs. All is well, go to sleep. I toss, I flip, then flop. Bedcovers get mussed and that brings on more sighs. Yes, relax, that's it, I simply need to close my eyes and rest.

The moon is too bright, casting shadows all over the room. A blood red glare reaches out of the dark corner. My feet are hot, my feet are cold. The goulish crimson beacon ticks another minute past. If I could scream without waking my husband, I would! It maybe Halloween time, but that's not what scares me. No, not a bit. It's ... it's ... INSOMNIA! eeeeeeeek!!!!!!!

It's not the insomnia that teases me to stay up late to finish a book. No, not that. It's not the insomnia that tricks me into finishing the chapter I'm working on because the words are flowing. Nope, not that either. It's not even the type of sleeplessness where ideas are dancing in my head and I just have to write them down before they're gone. Oh, how I wish it was one of those insomnias. They at least make me feel productive and creative. After a long night, I have something to show for my tiredness.

This was the I'm so tired, I could drop insomnia, yet the revved up merry-go-round in my head wouldn't land on one lucid thought for more than a moment. And then off it went surging up another thought, then another, then another, then another. Well, you get the idea.

I got out of bed, slushed down the stairs and nuked a cup of tea. No teapots, nothing so cozy as that. My stomach growled and my eyes landed on the pan of cinnamon rolls I'd made earlier that day. I ate a banana. I would not reward myself for being out of bed in the middle of the night. I read more of the Ranger's Apprentice, Book Two: The Burning Bridge, by John Flanagan. It's pretty good, evil trying to outwit the good, the characters just reaching maturity. Mr. Flanagan writes in the omnipresence - or is that omnipresent? I'm too tired to remember. He resides in Australia, writing is a second career for him after years in advertising. But even his book couldn't keep my interest long in my state of fuzziness.

I stumbled back to bed; my little preschool song floating about in my head. "All the leaves are falling down, falling down ..." to the tune of London Bridges. Bridges shot my thoughts to the castling we've been working on in Chess practice at the library. Good strategy to get a rook out of the corner and into the game. Games, and off I went on the Mario Kart Race my Teen Advisory Board and I had been playing. I couldn't stay on the road, just fell into the canyon at every turn. Canyons and cliffs, oh my, I was worrying about my son out in California driving down the coast road to Palm Springs, driving through the fogged-haze smoke from the burning mountains. Then my worry slid over to my brother-in-law who had surgery yesterday.

So, I was worried. Ta-daaa! I knew that! This was no big surprise, but the startling aspect was I guess I hadn't verbalized it enough. It had morphed into that creepy, ugly, itchy, bitchy mind twisting insomnia! I decided to take action.
I said, "God, I gotta get some sleep."

He's up all night anyway! And besides, He knows that zombie day after look isn't very attractive, Halloween or not.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Meet Woman of Mystery, Marilyn Meredith

Blog Address:

Marilyn Meredith is the author of the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series as well as over twenty published novels. The latest is, Kindred Spirits, from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, the latest, Smell of Death, from Tigress Press.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, EPIC and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at

Kindred Spirits
Click Here to Order
Trouble in Deputy Crabtree’s marriage is soon forgotten when the body of a murder victim is found in the wake of a forest fire. Sent to Crescent City in search of information introduces Tempe to the victim’s Tolowa relatives and friends–along with two stalkers and Big Foot.

Upon her return home, a pig’s heart on Tempe’s front porch serves as a warning. Detective Morrison becomes an unusual ally, and the victim’s spirit visits Tempe in the night. She and husband Hutch set off for Santa Barbara in an effort to flush out the murderer and once again she finds her own life threatened.

And Now, Here's What Marilyn Shares With Us Today...

Why on Earth Would You Do Something Like That?

Recently I flew all the way from California to St. Louis MO, rented a car and drove two hours to be a presenter at a small writers conference in Illinois. My husband went with me because I really don’t like to drive places I don’t know anything about. We suffered on the airplane in the extremely cramped seats and brought our own snacks because nothing is free on an airline flight.
This was an expensive proposition. I only sold one book and not to one of the attendees but another presenter. An $11 book didn’t come anywhere close to paying back what I’d spent for the airplane tickets, the rental car, the motel and meals. While there though, I signed a new contract for a book and went to dinner twice with my new publisher.

Like many other writers, I’ve gone to mystery conventions in Alaska, Chicago, Milwaukee and other places scattered around the country and I’ve never ever come anywhere near selling the number of books to pay for what the trips cost.

My best event happened recently when I launched my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Kindred Spirits. Hubby and I drove two days to reach Crescent City, CA. Two luncheons were held back-to-back in a lovely Victorian Bed and Breakfast. Included in the price was an autographed copy of the book. I spoke at both sessions and so did the Tolowa woman who had inspired part of the story. We also appeared at the library and I sold more books. That was the most money I’d ever made at any event, but still didn’t pay for all our expenses.
Most of my friends and family think I’m a bit crazy to do these things. Though most authors probably understand, here are my reasons.

When I go to a writers conference, I have the opportunity to help aspiring authors just like many others helped me over the years. There’s nothing I like better than talking about writing except discussing my latest book–which is what I have the opportunity to do when I attend mystery conventions.

At both of the above, I have the opportunity to meet a lot of potential fans and I always make new friends and get to see a lot of writing friends that I’ve made over the Internet and at various cons and conferences. Hubby and I’ve seen a lot of the country we’d never have seen any other way, we’ve made a lot of friends that we enjoy being with, and possibly most important, we’ve had a great time.

So maybe I am a bit crazy to spend so much money and time on such promotional endeavors, but I don’t think so–I think the pluses far outweigh the expense and discomfort.

Now it’s time to get back to writing my next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery. You can find out more about her and read the first chapter of Kindred Spirits at

Marilyn Meredith

Information Overload

To say there is a lot going on these days is an understatement. There's the upcoming election, the turbulent economy, the wars, global warming, the sky-rocketing cost of college tuition, etc., etc., etc., (you subsitute). The challenges of decision making are well beyond the paper or plastic question that has stymied so many at the checkout line. (I choose paper whenever possible or bring a reusable bag. If plastic is the only choice then I make sure I properly recycle that plastic or reuse it somehow. I takes about 1,000 years for plastic to breakdown in landfills, so it's best to keep plastic bags and other items out of the landfills if at all possible. Okay, that's my environmental plug!).

Fear not, there are so many people right, wrong and everywhere in between that want to influence your decision regardless the topic. I find that for those who are generally indecisive and insecure tend to be the most susceptible to information overload. You can tell because they get that glassy look in their eyes and basically become paralyzed when asked to make a decision -- or they panic. I've noticed a lot of that lately. I dared to look at my retirement account over the weekend and I lost more than $30,000 in value. Normally, that would send anybody into a tizzy but then I sat back and put everything into perspective.

I have at least 15 more years of an investment horizon and employment future. I happen to have one of those jobs that's fairly secure, at least as secure as they come, and I actually like my job. I also know that the stock market will rebound. Now, I believe we won't be seeing the extreme highs we've seen the past decade because I've always believed that we've been living in a state of excess for the past many years - me included - but I believe it will be okay and more stable in the future provided we learn our lessons from the past decade plus of financial overindulgence. I know I'm learning quite a bit.

I remember when I was first commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army back in the late 70's, I made a whopping $10,050 for my basic pay that first year and I thought that was a ton of money. I grew up poor, babysat for $.50 an hour and in college gave blood plasma with the winos to get money for my textbooks. So, I lost more money last week than I actually made my first year as an army officer. Really puts things in perspective doesn't it? I still have a chunk left in my account and I will absolutely continue to contribute as I'm now getting more shares for my dollar but I've always watched my account and know that timing is a critical part of investing whether inside a retirement account or not.

I think the one thing we all need to do is step back and assess our own situations. As indicated, I know that I have time to recover most of my losses. I also know that I am now buying shares at a reduced price and believe that those shares will gain value over time. Basically, I have time on my side and not everyone is so fortunate. At some point I will shift my account to more conservative funds but now isn't the time. In my opionion, now is the time for me to continue to take some calculated risks.

Now I'm not making this decision lightly. I've made it a point to learn as much as I could about investing over the past many years. I've allowed myself to absorb information at a mostly comfortable pace and develop an almost organic sense of what to do. I feel confident in my choices and most of all I count my blessings. I know what it's like to be dirt poor. I know what it's like to not know if I'd be alive the next day let alone have something to eat. I feel very fortunate for everything I have and for where I'm at in my life. I think about all the generations that have come before mine and recognize the struggles they've had to endure and believe it or not most Americans have more than most others in the world, despite the recent economic woes.

So, the moral of this story? Learn what you can at a comfortable pace, especially concerning the critical issues such as health, retirement and family. Appreciate everything that you have, especially your loved ones. As the commerical would say - they are priceless. Money really can't buy you happiness, it can buy you things, but it can't buy you happiness. I'm as motivated as the next person to earn what I think I'm worth but I keep it in perspective now, a lesson that has had some remedial sessions with me.

I use to be in information overload, now I'm in information flow and loving every minute of it. I like my life, my neighbors, my friends, and am excited about my future. I wish the same for everyone else.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Clean air, my patooey

I'm kind of ticked about something ... just call me a clock, a watch, a digital timer ... wait.

Anyway, it's distracted me so much that I can't think of anything else to blog about, so here goes:

A Rant Blog !!!


(clap, clap)

I took my wife's car to work today for its yearly oil change.

(okay, the gearheads out there are scoffing at me)

But here's the thing, it's two years old and has less than ten thousand very gentle miles on it. It even still smells like a new car ... which is part of the problem.

Anyway, I took it to an oil place that I won't name because I'm sorta, kinda going to accuse them of something.


I pulled in, got ushered to a seat and I sat down to write some of my book.

Just kidding, I was reading a book.

A bit later, a guy pokes his head in the waiting room and says, "Sir, can you come out here?"

Now this is the thing that I hate about Jiffylube, er, I mean, certain oil places. They have you come out, look at some computer saying when the factory says you should be doing things, and then they upsell you to something that the factory doesn't realize still has some life in it.

But it's a nice upsell for, oil places, and I'm sure they scare a lot of people into keeping their cars nicely maintained before their times.

I mean, this is good for you too, right? You don't want to break down in front of a strange McDonalds restaurant and have to eat another town's French fries.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good about my wife's car and pretty sure that the attempt to add more mechanics stuff to my bill will be easily thwarted.

So we meet at the open hood and I quickly take a peek at the exposed air filter, which looks strangely naked. It's clean.

"Yeah," I thought, "don't need no stinking air cleaner yet."

And then the guys holds up a small plastic bracket.

"You need a new cabin filter," he said, an apologetic look hiding his true look of triumph.


"A cabin filter."

"What's a cabin filter?"

"It goes under your glove box. It cleans the air coming into the cabin from the air conditioner and vents."

I frowned, "Where's the old one?"

He shifted a bit, "Uh, there wasn't an old one."

"Shouldn't there have been?"


"So, um, you're saying that the factory forgot to install it?"

"Um, yeah."

It's just a cheap, plastic looking thing, I thought to myself. I'll just get new one and forget about it.

"So how much does one of these cost?"


My eyebrows shot up into what's left of my hairline.

"Fifty bucks?!" I sputtered.


"Forget it. I'll just go back to the dealer and take it up with them."

"Oh, okay, I guess," he said, looking disappointed.

Twenty minutes later, I was pulling into the Toyota dealership figuring no problem, they will want to take care of me. When I explained my problem to the service manager, he smirked, "In all my days here, I've never heard of them forgetting that filter.

"But, but ..."

"Where'd you get your oil changed?" He picked up the, oil receipt and snorted, "Oh, I see..."


"We see this all the time from them. They probably took out your air filter and told you it was never there."

"But, but ..."

Then I figured, what the heck, just get the part and leave.

"So how much for ..."

"Seventy bucks installed."

My eyebrows shot up again, knocking off my glasses, "What?!"

Suffice to say, if clean air was all that important, George Bush would never have been elected, so I decided not to replace it right then and went home and Googled it.

This particular air filter, the Googled page said, is specially formulated to keep the new car smell in the car.

"Hmmm..." I thought to myself ... "two years old and it still smells new."

So the question is ... did Toyota forget to put the filter in the car, or did, the oil place toss it and try to rip me out of fifty bucks?

This story ain't over ...


Fang Face (young adult humor/vampire coming Aug. 2009)
The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Sunday, October 12, 2008

No Filter

Do you know people who have no filter? That is, they say whatever is on their mind without thinking things through, without thinking about how those words might sound or be taken by others? Most of the time they have no idea that what they say might be offensive to others. They don't mean to be mean, they simply speak before thinking. We all do it sometimes. Some of us more than others. And some are prone to do it all the time.

Writing a first draft is a lot like speaking without a filter. Any thought that comes to mind simply goes down on the paper or onto the screen. Writing in the non-filter mode is nice. The thoughts flow. Page numbers increase.

And with the written word, we have the opportunity to go back and make it sound better. Take out everything that doesn't quite go or can be taken the wrong way.

In everyday life, it's wise to think about how your words might be taken. Think before you speak, or so the saying goes. In the writing world, let those words flow. No one but you will ever need to see them until they are just right. There will be time later to "filter" what you've written.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


from The Wild Rose Press

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The End

I’ve often heard writers say that those are their two favorite words. Why? Because that means the story, the thing that may have had them in tears or caused them to pull out their hair, was finished.

For me, it means I am moving on. Starting a new idea. Taming the wild frontier…er, never mind that one.

So I finished my YA short story. I’m happy with it. I’m moving on. Or back in this case, to finish the book I started and had to put on hold to write the short story. And of course I feel so empowered. Hey, I just finished writing a short story. If I were a bird I’d be strutting around like a peacock! Okay, maybe not. But still, it’s pretty darn cool if I do say so myself. And this whole “I’ve finished” rush will last, oh about sixty more seconds, cause that’s when I will realize I have another entire story to tell and that one starts with what have become MY two favorite words lately---Chapter One.

Thanks for reading—until next time,


Friday, October 10, 2008

To Preach Or Not To Preach, Do You Need Ask? By Robert W. Walker

An interesting discussion arose on a chat group I am a member of regarding the author's politics and if his novels ought be politiking for him, and if said author politics ticks you off to the point of never reading said author ever in life again. My quick and dirty reply was fast in coming -- if a story or novel is a set up for me to have to SWALLOW a certain political point of view--even if I agree with it--no, I hate to see it overtaking an otherwise perfectly good story.

The key word in fiction is storytelling, not non-fiction or essaying, or telegraphing messages. While a fictional piece of work cannot but have political points of views and ideiology embedded as say within the worldviews of the various characters-- reflecting life thereby by the by, that same fictional piece better not be peopled with cardboard cutouts of supposed representative ideologies, that is characters who are simply propped up and propelled by the author's personal political views for the express purpose of pushing an agenda be it Scientology or liberalism or facism or any other sort of ism, including Christianity in my view.

The novel may have a Christian message but if the entire thing is a prop job for religion, yeah, it will turn me off and away from its author or authors. In fact anything heavy-handed in a story will do that to me or for me.

Too much historical matter that may overtake the story element that is ongoing now, too much science in a science fiction tale, too much gadgetry in a submarine WWII tale, too much pontificating, lecturing, gouging, or just plain blow-hard stuff on the part of a character who is obviously set up as the blow-hard mouthpiece for the author.

Now of course authors can and will get their digs in, and information of one sort or another favoring their worldview or politics will most surely be embedded in a novel or story, be it Hemmingway or Faulkner or Twain or me, Rob Walker, but I detest the notion that a story is built around a political rant--or any sort of rant, quite frankly. If a story illustrates, demonstrates feminism--shows me, fine, ducky, wonderful then it works. However, if another author dealing with the same subject rubs my nose in it, pushes it as a platform, TELLS me what to think, I'm gone, out of there. No thank you. Does not matter the subject. If I am involved in the lives of the characters, I care about what they care about, and that holds true for good and evil characters. If I feel their pain, not if I am forced to sit through a lecture on the childhood that lead them into goodness or into evilness.

Does it make sense? There was a lot of contention and back and forth over this issue and so am hoping to shed light on it here as I feel if you want to send a telegram use Western Union....spoken by a quite famous filmmaker to his writers once upon a time. In my estimation, there are huge differences between an Oliver Stone film than a Roger Moore film--his name's Roger, right? The docu-drama that gets me inside the heads of the characters as opposed to the documentary that does not show me a life but rather tells me how to think and perhaps react to the same subject.

Does it make sense? Whether does or nay, happy writing anyway! And oh, say, I charge HALF, half what Donald Maas and his group of "novel editors" charge you for developmental and line editing, and I do a better damn job, so there! Check out The Knife Editing Services when you're ready to go under the knife for the "book autopsy."

Rob Walker is at - new site, new novel, new cover art!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Enthusiasm! by DL Larson

Yesterday started out ordinary enough, but it soon took an upswing as I stood in the gravel driveway with my granddaugters. We were waiting for the bus, practicing spelling words for their very first spelling test! The weather was damp, almost rainy with patches of clear. I started singing, "The ants go marching one by one." Alex and Kylie joined right in. We marched about, waving our arms at "hurrah, hurrah." We continued belting out the verses, ten of them, all ending with the ants marching down into the ground to get out of the rain. We practiced more spelling words, wondering why the bus hadn't arrived yet. The girls were eager to get to school before they forgot how to spell give, with it's tricky silent e. They were sure they could get all ten words correct if they could just take that pesky test now. Their eagerness to succeed was contagious and we went over the words a few more times.

Mrs. Barb, the bus driver, finally pulled up to our house. She was more chatty than usual. The coal train had caught her on the wrong side of the tracks! We laughed, knowing those early morning trains have more than 100 cars, all poking along at a turtle's pace. Mrs. Barb was animated, anxious to get back on schedule, eager to deliver her cargo as promptly and as safely as possible.

About midmorning little Rylinn burst into the library with her mom. Rylinn stood at my desk, eyes bright with something special she wanted to share. "Mrs. Deb, guess what I get to be for Halloween?" Before I could contemplate a choice, she burst out, "I'm going to be Glenda the good witch!" She flung her arms out, twirled about and gave a little hop. "I am sooo excited!" Her enthusiasm filled the room and I wanted to be Glenda the good witch too.

The afternoon crowd at the library ended up being the usual suspects, those addicted to MySpace and general horsing around on the internet. But one young boy who has recently joined my chess team hung around my desk, then started following me as I put away books. We chatted til he finally blurted out, "Chess is so awesome." I smiled, agreed. "No, I mean it's really awesome." I think he wanted me to play him a game, and I would have gladly had I had the time. Instead I put him on a chess computer game and watched his eyes brighten to the fact there was such a thing as a computer chess game. His hunger to learn and grow and do well was a strong pull to do better myself.

I thought my day of enthusiastic people had come to an end, but when I went to choir practice, Laurrel, our director handed out new song sheets for us. Her love of music is such a blessing and she pulls harmonic sounds from us that no one else ever could. It's her dedication to her profession, her love of what she's doing. She makes us better together than we ever could be on our own.

The day didn't end there, even though I was tired and wanted to collapse. But my husband made me go back to town to meet the people who were renting our house. It was nearly nine and I hadn't had supper yet. My husband would have said I was crabby for having to go out again. When I pulled up in the driveway already full of cars and a big moving truck, I thought how silly to move so late in the evening. Then I met the young couple Nikki and Josh. This was their first home! They couldn't wait to move in. They were giddy, their friends just as animated. Excitement whirled about us and the happiness in their eyes was contagious. They were truly anxious to begin living in their new home.

So, today, my mission is to spread a little enthusiasm of my own. Take a moment to remember why you like to write. Reach down and find that bubble of excitement and pour all that energy into your writing. Get excited! Be animated. Be the one in the room that shines, from the inside out. Let your words work and twist, building conflict or resolution. No matter how light-hearted or serious your topic, without enthusiasm your work is dry bones. Be the writer whose words come to life right off the page.

Now that's something to get excited about. Enthused even.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Get a Job

For some reason today I started thinking about the different jobs I've had. The first I remember, I had to be in eighth grade or so, I worked at Carmen Manor Convalescent Home in Chicago. My duties were taking trays to the patients' rooms. One patient, who had Parkinson's Disease, I spoon fed. I had no idea that many years later I'd be doing the same for my own mother when she fell ill to the same disease.

During high school, I worked at House of Chan in Wilmette, Illinois, with my good friend, Barbara Chinn. We made egg rolls, won ton, even pizza. We packed rice into containers. We took phone orders and brought the food to the customers and counted change the old-fashioned way. During the evening hours, I always got great meals as part of the job. Much later, Bob Chinn, her Dad, started Bob Chinn's Crab House, an extremely popular restaurant in Wheeling, Illinois.

As part of my tuition at Immaculata High School, I remember dusting the music room with all its metal chairs I had to go over with a cloth. Very dull work. I was glad to get through each day.

Also in high school I worked for Tony the Tailor in Chicago. I took in clothes and phone orders. I sewed hems on men's trousers. I don't know how I did that right, since I can't do it now. Tony would custom fit clothes for men and women. One day a customer came in and he was doing a fitting for her upstairs. For some reason, I thought she had left and I made some remark about how I'd never liked that woman. How mortifying to realize she was still there!

In high school, I took shorthand and typing and dreamed about being a secretary, which I did become. I still am, many years later. It's the day job that pays my bills. Writing is my current dream, which I do out of love, not as a job.

That's a bit about my jobs.

When you write a novel, make your character work. Pick jobs that reflect how you want readers to perceive your character. Even if you're writing a romance about a person with a large inheritance, a job in some way is still involved, such as living up to expected standards and performing and/or attending certain functions.

If you're writing a comedy, think of a job that lends itself to funny mishaps, such as a cab driver, a waitress, a wedding planner. If you're writing about a serious character, you may wish to make him or her an engineer, a lawyer, a CEO. Or, you can bend a serious job into a funny one and vice versa for contrast.

Another option is to have your character lose a job and go on unemployment. Or, that character may be someone who enjoys living off the system. That's a job in itself just to survive.

So, if you haven't already, get a job for your character.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Okay - the second presidential debates are on and I'm not watching. I'm my neighbor's basement and we're going through the process of how to setup a blog. So, why in the world would anyone want to blog?

Well to share thoughts and ideas, hopefully with like-minded people but also to stimulate discussion.

So, here I go again on my rant about registering to vote and actually voting. I get frustrated, tired and almost balistic when people say that they don't vote because it doesn't count. WELL, it ain't gonna count if you don't exercise it. Kinda of the same thing for your brain.

So, please, please, please, get out and vote. It's not only your right but your duty and it will encourage you to be a much better and informed citizen.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I know a guy when I see one

(my apologies if you find this too political .. I posted this on Myspace and received favorable reaction from both Republicans and Democrats. We're just having fun, y' know. Anyway, it'll get pulled if it's too much)

My wife and I were watching the Vice Presidential Reality Show the other night, and then my wife grinned and said, "She reminds me of you."

"How's that?"

"She doesn't have any clue what she's talking about."

"Huh? Oh... wait ...yeah, I think I know what you're saying."

And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Sarah Palin is just like me.

She has a pretty good sense of humor, she's not an idiot, she knows that 'icing' is a hockey term, not just something for a cupcake. Not only that, but she's an engaging speaker and she has nice legs. Um...well, okay ... that's her virtue, not mine.

Anyway, besides the stuff above, the other thing we have in common is she's a guy.

Yep, a guy.

Think about it.

I mean, sure, she doesn't look like a guy. In fact, she's quite pleasant to look at, and I, like most guys, wouldn't mind seeing her naked.

But she is a guy ... and I can prove it.

Here she is, vying to become second banana to the most important person in the world, interviewing with national political consultants who make politics their life, then debating ... well, in word only ... that was no debate ... anyway, she's getting ready for the biggest event in her life ... and ...

... she 'winged' it.

She didn't know a thing. Her vague generalities, refusal to answer questions that she couldn't answer anyway, emphasis on misleading points, ... well, that's 'winging' it.

Ask any guy who comes home from having sneaked out to play golf, and forgets to think up an excuse beforehand. Or the guy who has an important meeting on Tuesday morning, but stayed up too late watching MNF. We know 'winging' it when we see it.

A woman never 'wings' it. They treat life and important events like Thanksgiving meals. They prepare, get ready, obsess, think, exchange ideas ... and nothing goes in the oven until it's ready.

But not Sarah Palin.

She 'winged' it.

Does this bother me? Not as much as you might think. I mean, the political pundits and Republicans were raving about what a success she was because she didn't perform to their lowest fears. And, as history has shown us, a low bar doesn't seem to be an obstacle to being a Vice President. I mean, ... can you say, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle, Richard Cheney?

You can't get worse than these three stooges.

Oh, and were they all Republicans? My bad.

And she ignores facts. How 'guy-like' is that? I almost thought I was watching myself on television. Remember when Palin chided Biden for comparing McCain to Bush. She said something like this, "There ya' go again, Joe, looking to the past..."

The past? George Bush is the standing President.

Then she goes off to extoll the virtues of Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan?! That was almost twenty years ago.

I nearly swooned in admiration of the deft way she pulled this off.

But then another thought occurred to me during this whole debacle. As you know, Republicans have been rallying around her, calling her a fresh outside voice, a breath of fresh air ...

What kind of attacks do you think we would have seen if someone exactly like Sarah Palin ... had been the DEMOCRATIC candidate?

Yep, it would have been ugly.

But I'm not calling anyone a hypocrite ... nope, not me. I'm just saying that she's a guy.

But I'd still like to see her naked.
(don't tell my wife)

The Adventures of Guy
Fang Face - coming Aug 2009
(check out my new website:

Sunday, October 5, 2008

New Review

Howdy All,

I am blogging quickly today, as I'm running out the door to church and then to my nephew's baseball game.

Every time TWRP (The Wild Rose Press) lists their new crop of reviews, I always check the list with bated breath. I'm always hoping to find a new review for THIS TIME FOR ALWAYS. Nine times out of ten I'm disappointed. But yesterday, I opened the post, and there, sitting on the top of this list was a new review from The Romance Studio. For me. For my book.

I took a deep breath. As much as I wanted to have a new review, one does tend to bring about a certain shortness of breath and heart pounding in the chest kind of feeling. Would it be a good review? What if they said my book sucked?

I exhaled. And clicked the link...

To the best review I've gotten yet. It was so wonderful, I even got misty-eyed.

So, as I'm running out the door here, I'll let you read it for yourself!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Author Fair by Margot Justes

I had the pleasure of attending an Author Fair at the Joliet Public Library. No idea what to expect, nevertheless, I was prepared, books and promo material was all I needed. Once I walked in, I was very well taken care of; a smiling staff member showed me to my table; my name in a frame and balloons on said table made for a very pleasant welcome.

It was an unusual format, tables were set up everywhere in the library, every corner, every empty space was occupied. It allowed the people to browse and meet the authors, chat and even buy a book or two. I thought the set up was a great idea, and was very well received judging by the comments I overheard.

The best part was the welcome and the effort on the part of the library staff to make the authors comfortable and glad to be there, and seeing many familiar faces.

Even lunch was offered to the participants and their guests. Staff members walked around offering water, making sure we were happy, no doubt about it, we were pampered. I could get used to that.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Author Fest at the Joliet Public Library, the Black Road Branch! by DL Larson


So come on out to the Joliet Library (the Black Road Branch) and meet a great many local authors. Oh, yeah, bring your $$$$$. There's bound to be a few books you'll want to take home with you. Yours truly will be there, plus Margot Justes, and Norm Cowie!

The festivities begin at 10:00 a.m. with a special presentation by Great Reads author Gary W. Moore. Then from 11:00 - 3:00 p.m. more than forty local authors will be selling their current books, adult fiction as well as juvenile nonfiction and fiction. What a wonderful opportunity to chat with writers, ask the questions you've been wanting to ask. Don't be shy, come, visit, learn, and spend a few bucks on a good book or two.

I have only one request. It's not a difficult one, and no one ever wants to bring it up. And I may be shooting myself in the foot by doing so. But here goes. Writers need sales. period. Yes, an author will stand there and answer as many questions as they possibly can to a budding writer. And yes, nearly every author I know wants to offer whatever bit of advice they can to others. But they still need a few sales. So if you find yourself asking a multitude of questions and then walking away empty-handed, you're the one I'm talking to. Just remember the do unto others quote. Someday it may be you standing in the author's spot talking to novice writers, handing out free advice, while looking for a sale.

Another incentive to visit Author Fest: a free writing critique by Plainfield author and writing expert Deb DiSandro. Bring a writing sample with you, maximum of three pages. Free feedback! How cool is that?

As if that isn't enough to bring you out in your jammies on a Saturday morning, I need to mention the door prizes. Drawings will be held toward the end of the day, and you need NOT be present to win.

A BIG thank you to the many libraries who are hosting Author Fest 2008: Joliet Public Library, Plainfield Public Library, Shorewood Public Library, and Des Plaines Valley Public Library District.

What a win-win day! And not surprising since winning is in the air in the Chicagoland area. You know, the Cubs! The Soxs! Big time winners all around. So don't miss out on this winning day: Saturday, October 4th, 10:00 - 3:00 p.m.

See you Saturday!

DL Larson

PS: need to mapquest Joliet Public Library?
The address is: 3395 Black Road Branch, Joliet IL 60431
for more information, call: 815-846-6504

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh What A Tangled Web...

I got a book deal!

Okay, I didn’t. I lied.

How terrible. Why would I lie?

Well, to get a reaction of course.

Oh, come on. We all lie every now and then. Whether it’s a little white lie, a lie of omission, or just an untruth so we don’t hurt someone’s feelings, we all do it. And why?

To get a reaction.

It could be a positive or negative reaction, but it’s something.
I had a writing teacher tell me once that if I got stuck in a story, have the character lie.

It works.

Meg Cabot even wrote an entire YA book about a character that lied. A lot. It’s called Pants on Fire. As in liar, liar pants on fire, and it’s really quite good.

So we lie. And when we lie things happen. Seriously, I’m not lying. Things happen.

For one thing, the characters character is brought into question. Are they reliable? Will this change the way the reader understands the story because the character is unreliable? I would say yes.

The lies could also make the character more interesting because you never know what they will say next or where the lie will lead them. Trust me; these crazy characters can really take you by surprise. I’m not lying, they can.

Then of course there is the whole idea that now the character has to get himself/herself out of the lie. Maybe. Either way the story might go in a whole new direction.
And how about the fact that the lie can come back and bite them in the butt! It could happen. Maybe. I’m not lying. Really. Do you doubt me?

Now, as I tell my children, and my parents told me, it’s not right to lie, but with fiction, it’s a whole different game. So go ahead, give it a try, and lie. I won’t tell.

Seriously, I’m not lying, I won’t tell.

But please, don’t tell my mom, she doesn’t know I’m a fiction liar and I don’t want her to know.
Seriously, I’m not lying.

Until next time—