Monday, November 30, 2009

A Sweet Taste

A little taste of something sweet from my YA Ordinary Me.

The main character Kate is with her drivers ed instructor and...

Coach must have seen me eying the backseat because he said, “Got a big game Friday, wanted to strategize a little with Minder here.”

I nodded and drove; they strategized. This was fine with me. I thought Steve would be busy talking and not looking at me, but every time I looked in the mirror, there were his brown eyes looking back at me.

I was so going to melt.

Of course I didn’t, melt that is, because I was distracted by the sirens. They sounded like they were coming toward us. Then I heard more sirens coming up behind us. I um…I kind of panicked. Yeah, I panicked. But not as much as when I actually saw the squad cars heading toward us from both directions. Then I would have to say I was beyond panic.

“Make a right here, Sterns, and get out of their way.” Coach said.

I clenched the steering wheel and felt my stomach tighten. I don’t know if the coach knew that I was in a state well beyond panic. He didn’t sound like it and I couldn’t look over at him because I was not taking my eyes off the road.

I moved the car forward to follow his easy instructions. Easy, that is, if they were given to anyone other than me! The problem was quite simple; sometimes, when I get nervous, I get a little confused about the right and left thing. This, I found out, happens to other people, too. I know because I Googled it. I’m a Googleaholic.

I was totally nervous. I mean I thought I had done something really wrong, not to mention the really hot stowaway in the backseat.

I gripped harder trying to keep my sweaty hands from slipping off the steering wheel. I hit the gas and pulled the wheel hard to the left, instead of the right.

Coach totally did not expect this, since he told me to go right. It seemed like it took forever for this to register in the Coach’s brain, which gave me enough time to hit the gas again—hard. Coach was slamming that extra brake on the passenger side that’s installed on Driver’s Ed cars; and our car started skidding.

I jerked the wheel back the other way, still sliding across the wet pavement like we were on ice, and stopped directly in the line of the police cars. Oh yeah, we also did a complete 360. This was actually kind of cool, except that is for the sirens and the cops.

I couldn’t help but think this day couldn’t get any worse. I was losing control of the car, my mind, and I guess, my mouth, too. I started babbling about Chemistry and Mums, and, oh yeah, the cute guy in the backseat, who doesn’t even know I’m alive. It really doesn’t matter because I’ll probably be dead soon anyway!

I prayed this wouldn’t affect my grade, although I knew it would. I mean who could make a mistake this huge and still pass Driver’s Ed? Not me, that’s for sure! I didn’t see that the car the police were chasing crashed into a fence and that the driver jumped out and was running full speed—in my direction!

The driver, or I guess now the runner, was looking behind him, instead of looking where he was going.

I just want to say that that is what normal people do; you know, look where they’re going. Before I even knew what was happening, the driver/runner ran smack into my car. He turned his head at the last second, ran right into the driver’s side door, banged his head on the roof and fell backward to the ground.

I’m totally sure he broke something.

I stared out the window. Now I’d really done it. Not only was I going to fail Driver’s Ed, but I think I just killed someone and I wasn’t even moving!
Is it still a moving violation if I wasn’t technically moving?

I dropped my head down against the steering wheel and closed my eyes. I fought the urge to pinch myself. Well, really, it could have all been a dream.

“Sterns, you ok?” I heard Coach say. Nope, I sighed, not a dream.

I just nodded my head yes; I knew if I said anything I would cry. That was just one more thing I couldn’t handle right now.

“Stay in the car,” Coach said and got out.

Outside on the ground was the driver/runner the police had been chasing. He was laying there with blood running from his nose. They rolled him over and put handcuffs on him, which to me was a good sign. Not for him, of course, but for me, because it meant I hadn’t killed him!

I heard a throat clear behind me and looked in the rear-view mirror, directly into the brown eyes I’d been staring at right before the accident.


He was in the car, which means, he totally saw everything.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!


Sunday, November 29, 2009


In keeping with the Acme Authors excerpt share going today, I have two excerpts to share with you. The first is from my upcoming release WILD WEDDING WEEKEND. It will be available April 23, 2010 from The Wild Rose Press.

“I really am sorry.” Abby's mind whirled. The thoughts tangled. The Noah she’d spent the last couple of days with wasn’t anything like the man she’d imagined him to be. The man even he claimed to be. Who was the real Noah?
She didn’t have time to ponder the question, because he took both her hands in his, drawing her attention back to him. “Know this. While we’re married. For this week, this trip, this asinine show, I am committed to you.” He paused and raised one hand to tuck a wisp of hair behind her ear. “Totally. Completely. Committed. To you.” With each word his voice and head lowered, until the last was a whisper against her lips.
His hand slid around to the back of her neck, then up into her hair, unfastening the clip and tossing it aside. He tangled his fingers in the strands that fell free, using enough force to keep her from pulling away as he deepened the kiss.
Abby had no thoughts of moving even the slightest bit away. She wrapped her arms around him as the tip of his tongue teased the fullness of her bottom lip. When she opened to him and he dipped inside, she almost melted from the instant flood of liquid heat that suffused her body. The warmth spread to her limbs and made her pliant as, his mouth never leaving hers, Noah lowered them both to the bed.

Then I'd like to share an excerpt from THIS CAN'T BE LOVE. This manuscript is currently under consideration with my editor at Wild Rose. It's a spin-off of THIS TIME FOR ALWAYS and features Zach as the hero. This is Zach and Jessica's first kiss.

They laughed together, then fell silent. Crickets chirped in the darkness. The scent of Zach’s aftershave drifted to her on the light breeze.
After a while, he turned toward her. “Do you?”
“Do I what? Like apple pie and ice cream?”
“No,” he said softly. His gaze dropped to her lips. “Do you kiss and tell?”
Jessica’s heart kicked into a fast rhythm and she caught her breath. “I…”
“Shhhh.” He leaned closer. “I won’t tell if you won’t,” he whispered before his mouth claimed hers.
His lips stroked over hers, not aggressively, but softly, tenderly. He didn’t touch her anywhere else, but brushed her mouth with gentle intent.
Her first instinct was to pull back, but something stirred deep inside her. A feeling she’d nearly forgotten. Whispery shivers danced along her nerve endings and fluttered in her stomach. Without meaning to, the action was purely a reflex, she opened to him.
The kiss deepened. Their breath mingled. Her palm slid up his chest, feeling the play of muscle beneath his shirt. she fisted the flannel of his open collar in her hand.
His knuckles grazed the sides of her face.
Her body tingled with awareness. Scattered thoughts flitted through her mind, but she couldn’t hold onto any of them. Not while Zach kissed her. Not when his mouth fitted so perfectly against hers. Not when the pulse racing at the base of his throat matched the cadence of her heartbeat.
She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt like this. Had felt anything.
Should she be feeling this way about Zach?
Almost as if sensing her conflicting emotions, he softened the kiss, tenderly brushing his mouth over hers one last time.
She waged a silent war within, trying to calm her racing heart.
She still clutched his shirt. She relaxed her fingers one at a time, releasing the twisted fabric from her grasp. Finally she drew in a deep breath, then slowly let it out.
Her eyes found his.
Zach’s gaze searched hers, then he smiled. A smile as soft and tender as his kiss. He touched his finger to her lips, then rose. “Good night, Jess.”

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, November 27, 2009

A Taste Of ...Rules of Fog by Robert W. Walker and Jerry Peterson

Today's Blog and Some Others to Follow are short stories and excerpts by ACME Authors. Jerry Peterson Is a fellow Five Star author of Early's Fall. This is a Dr. Jessica Coran, FBI ME short story Scene One…to read the entire short story visit me at and thanks all --

R U L E S of F O G
by Robert W. Walker & Jerry Peterson
short story inspired by the fog and medical examiner Dr. Jessica Coran of the Instinct Series files

Dr. Jessica Coran lifted the lungs from the dead man’s chest cavity. As she did, she marveled at the shredded condition of the pair of sacks now like pizza dough without cohesion, threatening to slip through her gloved hands. The lungs, pockmarked with countless rents and tears where membrane walls had caved in, was the worst she’d seen in her twenty-five years of autopsying questionable deaths.

Jessica guessed that this one had chained smoked five, maybe six packs a day, the sort unfazed by the Camel Tax, undeterred by reason or facts or statistics. Jake Helspenny, the paperwork said, nickname’d “Smoke.” Coran guessed he’d lived in a perpetual fog of cigarette exhaust and carbon monoxide. He’d traded breath for addiction.

Her auburn hair tied back and tucked beneath a surgical cap, Jessica stowed away a fact that Smoke Helspenny’s lungs told her: he’d’ve been dead inside a year or two had nothing untoward happened. But what had happened?

The ex-marine had been found dead in Arlington National Cemetery, once General Robert E. Lee’s family homestead, confiscated by the US government as “payback” Lee’s having commanded the Southern armies in the War Between the States – Arlington, a cemetery consecrated to the dead of all wars, where heroes slumbered within sight of the tomb of the Unknowns.

Jessica examined Smoke’s liver. She concluded it had been in less peril than his lungs, but not by much. The man had been also been a heavy drinker. The organs never lie, she thought. The condition of a man’s organs at death stood testament to his life and frequently his character. Often the sum of the injuries a man did himself damn near outweighed the thing that killed him.

Jake Helspenny’s epitaph: He’d come out of the Marines a broken man, missing far more than his left leg, right hand, and a piece of his skull and brain from what his wife called “the incident” in Iraq.

Jessica had met the woman before she had begun the autopsy, had interviewed her – a buxom blonde, whose once pretty features sagged from forehead to jowls, telling the tale of a rough life alongside Smoke.

“All that Jake’d gone through in Iraq,” the woman – Katherine Helspenny – said, “tooth-to-nail fightin’, facing death every day, acceptin’ the death of buddies—brothers.”

An Arlington homicide detective – Kyle Jensen, in possession of his gold shield for less than a year – had been with the wife. He’d pushed Coran, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s medical examiner, to do the autopsy rather than assign it to one of her juniors. “Sounds like he was a good marine,” Jensen had said to Mrs. Helspenny.

“He was.” Katherine Helspenny dabbed at tears. “But Jake never got over being the only survivor in his squad. Had nightmares. . . . Now this.”

Jessica studied the woman. “Do you know anyone who’d want to harm your husband?”

“Not a soul, except Dooley.”

Jensen, a thin, wiry youngish George Carlin-type, swiveled. “Dooley, ma’am? You didn’t mention a Dooley before. Who’s he?”

“Went by the nickname Spider. It was always Smoke and Spider in their time in the Marines. . . . Dooley blamed Jake for walking out of ‘the incident’ that killed all the others.”

Jensen and Jessica exchanged looks of concern.

Katherine Helspenny pulled at a her wedding band, as if by habit, but it wouldn’t come off her pudgy finger. “Yes, Smoke’s so-called best friend, Dooley was.”

Jessica turned to Jensen. “Looks like you’ve got a lead. Find Mr. Dooley and you may well close your case.”

“Maybe?” the wife said. “What do you mean ‘maybe.’ Dooley hated Jake.”

“Enough to kill him, his old war buddy?” Jensen asked.

“That ‘buddy’ business was a long time ago. People change. Dooley sure did.”

“Devolve,” Jessica mumbled.


Jensen put up a hand. “Never mind that, Mrs. Helspenny. Do you know where I can find this Dooley.”

“I’m not sure. Somewhere out in the cemetery, in the fog.”

“He’s not likely still out there.”

“Dooley wanders among the graves – reads the headstones, searching for men from his old outfit, the outfit Jake was in before ‘the incident.’”

Jessica motioned for Jensen to step aside with her. “Were you in the military?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“I’d go out to Quantico, get someone to pull up Dooley’s service record. That might get you a lead on where this guy ended up.”

A fourth person bustled in, a stubby little man named Roth – Mrs. Helspenny’s lawyer. Moments before, on seeing the corpses on gurneys parked in the autopsy room, Roth had run for the men’s room and retched. “Theopolis,” he said, picking up on the end of Jessica’s and Jensen’s conversation. He mopped at his face with a lavender handkerchief. “Theopolis Alexander Dooley is the man’s full name.”

“You’re sure?” Jessica asked, a slight smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.


“Jensen,” she said, “there can’t be two with that name in the record dump. Your job just keeps getting easier.”

Roth wound himself up, to earn his fee. “This woman’s suffered long enough.” The lawyer waved a hand in the direction of Mrs. Helspenny. “Dr. Coran, I expect you to get on this autopsy right away, and I expect you to give it your top priority. Anything less and you can expect to see Mrs. H and me on the Today Show with Katie and Matt.”

Now it was Jensen who raised a hand. “Back off,” he said. “I’ve been told Dr. Coran doesn’t respond well to threats.”

“There are rules – protocol,” Jessica said, her hands braced on her ample hips.

“Rules?” Katherine Helspenny asked.

“This office’s policy book says we don’t autopsy a body unless there’s clear evidence of an unnatural death. The detective told me on the phone, before the three of you came here, that when he examined the deceased at the cemetery, there were no gunshots, no knife wounds, no signs of a struggle, nothing but a body slumped over a grave stone.”

Roth pushed into Jessica’s personal space, his face inches from her. “Mrs. H found her husband dead in Arlington cemetery. She’s convinced this Dooley character lured Jake there to kill him. That’s premeditation!”

“All right, the body’s here somewhere. I’m willing to do a preliminary, but if I don’t see any obvious indications of murder . . .” Jessica turned palms up, as if to say ‘that’s it.’

Roth’s face hardened. “We don’t want a preliminary, we want a complete autopsy, down to examining the man’s last whisker.” Roth tried a mock softening of his voice, adding, “Look, we were told you’re the best, and that you deal in unusual cases. This is an unusual case, doctor. The man was killed in the most famous cemetery on the planet.”

Which explains your interest in the case—potentially high profile, she thought but said, “Be that as it may, counselor, the Commonwealth doesn’t just start cutting on a corpse without some probable cause, some indication of foul play.”

Roth, angry, took to pacing like an Irish setter in heat, his long, flowing gray mane whipping about.

Jessica thought she’d won the argument, but then Mrs. Helspenny shouted, “You government types’re all alike! Took us forever to get the VA to deal with Jake’s depression, his panic attacks, the living pain in his stump, all of it. Maybe if you’d stepped in earlier – maybe he’d never’ve felt compelled to…to go out there to find Dooley.”

Roth placed an arm about the distressed wife and helped her into a seat. Jensen offered her a stack of napkins, and she began blowing her nose. The wife looked up at Jessica. “Took us even longer to get my Jake’s pension, and they give it out like it was some kinda fund he had no right to, like he didn’t have it comin’.”

Jessica held up both hands as if under attack. “Please, Mr. Roth, Mrs. Helspenny, let me put this as simply as I can. Until I’m satisfied that Mr. Helspenny died a questionable death, he stays on ice. I did take a quick look at him, and I’ didn’t find a mark on him to suggest murder.”

“But you have my word,” Mrs. Helspenny said.

“Alone that’s not enough, ma’am.”

“Rules is rules, huh?” The woman’s glare cut wounds in Jessica.

“To you, the rules may seem a bit absurd, but they are in place for a reason.”

“It’s protocol first,” Roth offered up, “before the wishes of the surviving spouse?”

“Procedure, yes.”

“So what you really need to do a full autopsy is a go-ahead.”

Jessica didn’t respond, and her silence only fueled Roth’s ego and tongue. “Well, by damn,” he said, his nostrils flaring wide, “I’ll get you your go-ahead. I know your superior.”

“Bully for you, counselor, so why don’t you just do that?”

“Good Lord, hasn’t anyone ever been murdered in a National Park before?” Mrs. Helspenny asked.

Jessica shrugged. “Many times. The most egregious are the young women and girls who go missing, their bodies are found in shallow graves.”

“Never happened in Arlington – ever,” Jensen said. “Hey, I looked it up on Google. No one in the history of the cemetery has ever mugged, raped, or murdered within its confines.”

“If Google says so, it must be true,” Jessica said. Google. She didn’t know whether to laugh at that one or cry.

Jensen went on, an enthusiasm building in the detective. “You see, I belong to a Confederate reenactment group. Relieves tension.”

“Playing soldier, no real consequences.”

“If by that you mean no one gets hurt – ”

“That’s what I mean,” Jessica said. “All the battlefield dead get up after it’s over and walk off to the nearest bar for lite Bud.”

“Well, it’s fun. How about you join me some weekend? You’d look great in the uniform.”

Ooo, was that a pass? A bit obvious. She frowned rather than smiled. “My interest is in the genuinely sincere dead, detective.”

“Ahhh…the authentic murder.”

“Besides, if I went to one of those things, I’d stand with the North.”

“You’d look just as good in a blue uniform.”

“OK, I’ll make myself clearer. I’m not interested in those who feign death. I’m too busy with the real thing, detective.”

Comments are Welcome...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks for the Gift of Writing by Morgan Mandel

Sometimes I get aggravated when I can't think of the words to say exactly what I want. Often, I wish I had more time to spend creating new worlds for others to enter.

I've faced discouragement, wondering if I can complete a manuscript, wondering if I have enough talent to whip it into shape, wondering if readers will like it after it's been released.

I've been plagued by worries about book covers, blurbs, reviews, and all sorts of other concerns, like how to tell others about what my books are about so they'll want to read them.

Despite all the scary or bad times, I still can't deny I love writing. Now that I'm hooked I can't conceive of ever doing without it.  Writing is a friend I can turn to through tough times. It's an escape from the real world into whereever my imagination will take me. When I write, at times I can express myself better than in person. It's an outlet for my emotions, be they happy, sad, envious, angry, or confused.

This Thanksgiving, I'm not only thankful for the blessingsof my family, my dog, my house, my friends, food on the table, a job, my relatively good health, but also for the joy of writing. I'm very lucky to have this wonderful gift. My life would have a big hole in it if I couldn't write any more.

If you're a writer, have you ever stopped to think about what a wonderful gift you have?

Monday, November 23, 2009

A London Adventure

I've returned from London, which was just as rainy as Chicago but slightly warmer. I found that just like Chicago, if you wait a few minutes the weather will change. We had one day with heavy rains, but other than that, it was very nice. But I digress, as we are not standing in an overcrowded ballroom being forced to make polite conversation about the weather, I will share the adventure.

Just to make it interesting, meet Lady Rosalind Reming from the historical romance I'm writing.

ME: Lady Rosalind, thank you for assisting me with my blog today.

LADY ROSALIND: Certainly, I am pleased to share what I can with your delightful readers. Having lived most of my life in London, except for rusticating in the country for the summer, I am sure I can share some delightful insight into a few spots our author has encountered.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, which I know as Buckingham House, is the home of the current Queen, Queen Elizabeth II. Although I am not familiar with this woman, as King George III is the current monarch and Prinny (the Prince of Wales) lives at Carlton House It does appear that this Elizabeth takes great care of the place. Everything is so shiny.

This lovely monument sits across from the palace and is honoring another great monarch I do not know, a Queen Victoria. Although this is the first I have seen of the sculpture or heard of this Queen, I must say, it is truly marvelous and this Victoria is a lovely woman I am sure.

This serene setting is in the oldest Royal Park in London, St. James's Park.
To see the park in this light it is hard to imagine that, and this is just a bit of gossip, a certain Lord R was in this park creating a bit of scandal. However, being a victim of a vicious scandal myself, I am loath to repeat the details, at least just yet.

And now, I must part as my cousin Louisa is preparing for her come out ball and I, unfortunately, must participate in the grueling preparations. One would think I would enjoy the preparations, however spending any time in the presence of the ton is never pleasant for me. Even after six long years, they never forget.

ME: Thank you Lady Rosalind, and readers, I hope you enjoyed the first look at what is only the beginning of a wonderful adventure.
Thanks for reading,

Sunday, November 22, 2009


So, this weekend was fabulous. It brought about the culmination of several things I've been looking forward to for a long time.

First, on Friday night, we celebrated my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. We've been planning this for almost a year now, and the event was everything we wanted it to be and more. The night couldn't have been more prefect if we had scripted the entire thing.

Secondly, NEW MOON finally came out. The long awaited next installment in the Twilight saga hit theaters on Friday. If you've read my blog before, you are familiar with my obssession. My girlfriends and I went twice...yesterday. We hit a ten o'clock show in the morning and then an 8 o'clock show later that evening.

The movie was fantastic...again, the build up and hype definitely lived up to the real thing. But the two movie-watching experiences were very different. The morning showing had an atmosphere of excitment that was palpable. The viewers really got into the could almost feel the tension, feel the emotion at certain times during the movie. The evening crowd however, was completely different. This crowd was made up of mostly teenagers, which made the experience an interesting one. There were screams and shouts when the wolf-pack stripped off their shirts. There was laughter during some of the more emotional scenes. The crowd had a very "Team Jacob" feel to it, which was "difficult" for those of us in the audience who are definitely and wholey committed to "Team Edward". I was really glad we had chosen the morning showing to be our first experience with seeing the movie.

But it got me to thinking. What goes on around us shapes the way we experience things. Watching a movie, reading a book, even creating a scrapbook. When I'm reading a book, if I'm out on the porch with a glass of lemonade on a hot July day, is my experience different than if I were curled up in front of the fire with a cup of hot tea in January? If I'm reading on a crowded plane, am I experiencing the book differently than if I were curled up in my recliner at home?

When I look through the scrapbooks I've created over the years, there are some pages that evoke not only the memory of the event being preserved, but the memory of where I was and who I was with when I created it. And music can really call to mind memories of times gone by.

Our experiences shape us. In writing, our characters have those life-changing experiences as well. It's up to us as the authors, to make those experiences as real and authentic as possible, perhaps even taking note from our own real-life experiences.

So, go out today, and experience something. You'll be glad you did!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving by Margot Justes

Between scheduled events every weekend this month and working, November slipped by and seemed to disappear.

I do want to acknowledge an incredible holiday, one where at least this time of year we give thanks, and no matter how tough it is out there, we still have something to be thankful for.

I’ve been blessed with a loving family and great friends-friends I’ve kept for many years- decades, and new friends and acquaintances I’ve made since I started writing. My world has only gotten richer, and I’m thankful. I’m not cooking on Thursday, that tradition now belongs to my older daughter, but given the special holiday, we celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday at our house as well.

On that note, I would like to wish everyone a truly happy and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3

Friday, November 20, 2009

Writer's block - Real or Not? by Robert W. Walker

Psychiatry has weighed in on the question of creative blocks and have suggested that they have a beginning in the brain, while writers of poetry, story, and novel tell themselves they just need to get out of their own way and just write. We are at once crafting a story that must allow no wires or strings to show; we attempt to stay off stage, behind the curtain, but at times we see ourselves as did the Wizard at the pulleys and gears and we wonder if we may not simply be frauds at work. Then the doubts seep in like water through rock. It’s been done before by better men than me…TV and Film have eaten up and spit out every idea, so why bother? I can’t compete with CGI effects and CSI effects. Why bother. Who do you think you are anyway? Perhaps a man in need of a vacation, a swift kick, a well-meaning nag to thunder and rail at you at such moments? Some external force to challenge you? And if all fails? Are you left on that lonely street called Writers’ Block, and is there or isn’t there such a place?

Although it has been written about in newspapers and magazines, science journals, books on the creative geniuses of our species, books on inventors and sculptors, depicted in untold films and TV programs including Seinfeld, and although a scadfold of medical/psychological articles have been devoted to it along with entire books and a Woody Allen Play, and despite that it has its own Wikipedia page, and that Google has enough entries in it along with ten-step cures for it for hopelessly ‘blocked’ professional…in fact, enough entries to paper a writer’s walls, DOES this thing really exists…or is it all in our heads?

A great many more people believe it is just a writer’s self-serving indulgence, even sloth, that is at work—even in a writer who has penned untold full length, complex novels. Many naysayers point to any other profession and claim these other professions, say pharmacist, bookstore owner, book reviewer, bank teller, even journalist never cry “blocked” and, I presume then, they believe no person in any other profession has ever quit, given up or in, lost days or weeks due to forces within their craniums, had love and hate drive them from a full day’s work or a divorce, the birth of a child, the death of a child, the loss of a job or health..That no journalist ever missed a deadline, no bookstore owner ever closed up shop or the fight against the big box stores and Wal-Mart—forces outside one’s control.

Regardless, there is more than scant evidence and anecdotes about writer’s block that it also occurs with lyricists, poets, and any creative writing arena. If you disbelieve it, Google it. Here below are a handful of the reams of pages on the ‘malaise of the artistic mind which may actually differ from the mind of a McDonald’s worker, a journalist, a shopkeeper, or a news anchor woman; it may be the same difference one finds in a student who can and does complete an Independent Study project and one who is absolutely incapable of completing work wherein s/he has to craft the project, determine its every part and the sum of all, its every parameter from beginning to end with no guarantees of success or payment or heat for the night or pension or percentage or anything.

FROM GOOGLE – selected from hundreds of pages:

1. Writer's Block -- Practical Tips for Beating Your Writer's Block

Though some people say that writer's block doesn't actually exist, the fact remains that most writers have trouble with writer's block at some point in ... - Cached - Similar

2. News results for writer's block


Pete Wentz : Pete Wentz suffered writer's block after Mowgli's birth‎ - 1 day ago

Fall Out Boy member Pete Wentz has revealed that after his son Bronx Mowgli was born last November he was unable to write a song for six months. ...

Entertainment and Showbiz! - 41 related articles »

3. Book results for writer's block

Writer's block: and other problems of the pen - by Jenna Glatzer - 250 pages

Writer's Block: The Cognitive Dimension - by Mike Rose - 160 pages

Writer's block: two one act plays - by Woody Allen - 75 pages

4. Image results for writer's block

- Report images

Books From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

For other uses, see Writer's block (disambiguation).

Writer's block is a condition, associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task in hand. At the other extreme, some "blocked" writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.



• 1 Causes of writer's block

• 2 Notable blocked writers

• 3 Writer's block in Music

• 4 Writer's block as depicted in other media

• 5 References

• 6 External links

[edit] Causes of writer's block

Writer's block may have many causes. Some are essentially creative problems that originate within an author's work itself. A writer may run out of inspiration. A project may be fundamentally misconceived, or beyond the author's experience or ability. (A fictional example can be found in George Orwell's novel Keep The Aspidistra Flying, in which the hero Gordon Comstock struggles in vain to complete an epic poem describing a day in London: "It was too big for him, that was the truth. It had never really progressed, it had simply fallen apart into a series of fragments.") [1]

Other blocks, especially the more serious kind, may be produced by adverse circumstances in a writer's life or career: physical illness, depression, the end of a relationship, financial pressures, a sense of failure. The pressure to produce work may in itself contribute to a writer's block, especially if he is compelled to work in ways that are against his natural inclination, i.e. too fast or in some unsuitable style or genre, and he or she is not willing to adapt. In some cases, writer's block may also come from feeling intimidated by a previous big success, the creator putting on him/herself a paralyzing pressure to find something to equate that same success again. The writer Elizabeth Gilbert, reflecting on her post-bestseller prospects, proposes that such a pressure might be released by interpreting creative writers as "having" genius rather than "being" a genius [1]. In George Gissing's New Grub Street, one of the first novels to take writer's block as a main theme, the novelist Edwin Reardon becomes completely unable to write and is shown as suffering from all those problems. [2]

Recently, the writer and neurologist Alice W. Flaherty has argued that literary creativity is a function of specific areas of the brain, and that block may be the result of brain activity being disrupted in those areas. [3]

[edit] Notable blocked writers

Well-known writers who have suffered from block include George Gissing, Samuel Coleridge, Ralph Ellison, Joseph Mitchell and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Writers who overcame block and published new work after a hiatus of decades include Harold Brodkey, whose novel The Runaway Soul appeared some 30 years after it was first projected, and Henry Roth, whose first novel, Call It Sleep, was published in 1934; his second, Mercy Of A Rude Stream, did not appear until 1994.

[edit] Writer's block in Music

The album Black Clouds & Silver Linings by the progressive metal band Dream Theater contains a song called "Wither", which is about the fear of having writer's block suffered by the guitar player of the band John Petrucci. It is said that the songs in this album are about personal experiences.

[edit] Writer's block as depicted in other media

In works where writers appear as characters, writer's block has often been shown as part of the story.

This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy certain standards for completion. You can help by expanding it with sourced additions.

• 8½

• Adaptation

• Ask the Dust

• Apur Sansar (The World of Apu)

• Bag of Bones

• Barton Fink

• Californication

• Deconstructing Harry

• El Goonish Shive

• Finding Forrester

• George Lucas in Love

• I Capture the Castle


• Kaiyoppu

• Leaving Las Vegas

• October Road

• The Lost Weekend

• Masters of Horror: The Black Cat

• Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities

• Misery

• Quills

• Read or Die

• Secret Window

• Sex and Lucia

• Shabd

• Shakespeare in Love

• Stranger than Fiction

• Swimming Pool

• Sylvia

• The Golden Notebook

• The Shining

• Throw Momma from the Train

• Woman on the Beach

• Wonder Boys

[edit] References

1. ^ George Orwell, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, Chapter 2.

2. ^ George Gissing, New Grub Street.

3. ^ Joan Acolella, "Blocked: why do writers stop writing?, The New Yorker, June 14 2004.

[edit] External links

• Psychology of Writing & Revising

Retrieved from ""

Categories: Writing

But still some will adamantly deny the existence of this nebulous gadfly of a disorder that comes and goes, and many of these same people will accept that a writer may have a Muse or may Channel some force from beyond. I leave it up to you, but it has been my experience that those who have never suffered a serious, long-running bout with the Block may well not understand J. Alfred Prufrock’s disconnect with the world either.

I invite you to leave a comment, no matter which side of the discussion you fall or stand on.

My latest e-book is 160,000 words, divides into three books in one and Children of Salem saw many years of being a blocked book and fitting it should hold a curse on it as it details the terrors of a Witch Hunt and subsequent trials, all the while a devil called Block whispering in my ear that I was incapable of crafting this complex story, and yet readers call the control of the material nothing short of genius – enough to make even a jaded old writer blush pink.

Happy Blockless Writing, and do leave a comment for me!

Rob Walker

"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are you Happy being a Writer? by DL Larson

I've never been asked such a question, but after reading an article about what makes people happy, I have to say I'm more satisfied being a writer than anything else. Maybe it's the same for you. The journey for many writers is long and grueling, but I have experienced untold hours of happiness while churning out words that twist and mesh together. To create and shape conflict, or brew trouble out of nothing but words is powerful stuff. To use my voice to enlighten the reader to my character's insight delights me as if I'm at a candy counter and have all the time in the world to decide what delectable item I need to express just the right emotion.
The process of writing makes me very happy.

Unfortunately, for some of us, what comes after the initial writing is not so fun. The rewrites or fixing technical problems becomes a burden. It's no longer as intriguing as it was when I first started. Now I must face the fact my writing is not perfect; I spent too much time at the candy counter or not enough time chosing diversified words. I left holes in the script, my point of views aren't quite right, and the plot sagged toward the end. Now's the time to get serious and fix the problems I created.

I realized long ago I needed to change my attitude when it came to rewriting and editing my work. And I found happiness once again. The idea is simple and if you like sweets as much as I do, this process might make your rewrites more enjoyable.
I generally let my work sit for awhile, I walk away from it and begin a new project. It may be for a few days or longer. The point is I focus on something else. Then, I go back. Standing before the candy counter in my mind, I re-read my work and the old feeling of excitement for my story floods back because I've allowed myself to have fun with the words once again. I'm back to picking and chosing just the right phrase, inserting whole bits of diaglogue or backdrop that was overlooked before. I think of myself as my assistant, perfecting my work with a critical eye for detail. I even laugh and poke fun of my own mistakes. What was she thinking? Can you believe she actually wrote that? It's proven to be so much more beneficial than being self-critical and beating myself up for not writing my story correctly the first time around.

Writing has so many layers to it few of us get it right the first time the words land on the paper. Finding satisfaction with the process of story telling is much healthier than demanding perfection with every sentence I write. Words flow easier if I'm not scrutinizing each as they enter my mind. I give myself permission to have fun with my writing. Afterall, the plot, the setting, the characters are only words on paper. They can be rearranged any time, over and over and over again. They can be taken away or replaced. I am the one who breathed life into them, no one but me. I have the power to form them to fit my needs.

I've never once run out of words, there's so many to chose from. When I start a new project the candy counter is over-flowing once again. I pace back and forth, wondering, pondering, thinking of all the delectable possiblities. What a wonderful dilemma. I'm a happy writer indeed!

How about you? Are you happy being a writer?

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Julie Lomoe, Morgan Mandel's Guest at Double M Today

I'm hosting Julie Lomoe today at my personal blog,
Julie sent me so much wonderful information, I decided to share part of it here. If you feel so inclined, by all means hop on over to Double M at for the rest of the story and read her blog post.

About Julie Lomoe -
Julie Lomoe knows home health care from the ground up. As President of ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York, she became certified as a Personal Care Aide and filled in frequently for absent aides. The experience inspired Eldercide, the first in a mystery series featuring the staff and clients of Compassionate Care, an agency in the fictional town of Kooperskill, New York.

Julie’s first published novel, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders is set in a social club for the mentally ill on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The work was inspired by her many years of mental health experience, both as a professional and as a consumer. Both books are available online from Virtual Bookworm, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard College, Julie received an MFA from Columbia University and an MA in Art Therapy from New York University. She lived in SoHo for many years, exhibiting at the Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, and many Manhattan galleries. She showed her paintings and won a prize at the Woodstock Festival of Music and Art in 1969, an experience she blogged about in a three-part series this past August.

Julie has published poetry as well as articles on home care, mental health, aging, and women’s issues. Visit her blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso ( to learn more and read the first chapters of her novels.

You're invited now to hop on over to to read Julie's post and learn a little bit more about her.

Morgan Mandel\

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I’m involved with a number of writing groups and events one of which is the Love is Murder Con (LIM CON) held during the first weekend in February. We’ve held it annually until now, taking a break in 2010 to reorganize and the decision was an appropriate one for the board, the conference and the attendees. Just wait until you see what we have planned for 2011.

We had our most recent board meeting last week to go over a variety of issues that conference boards usually discuss and I left the meeting feeling quite excited about the 2011 LIM CON. As we continue to hear of other CON’s folding or taking even longer breaks than just the one year we did, it’s becoming clearer that our 2011 LIM CON will be a well-attended and high-energy event.

We’re working on a new web page so check the website from time to time, especially in Jan 2010 for updates. The url is

In the meantime, I’ve been happily working and writing and cooking. I’m working on a cookbook that I’m very excited about and hope to have it available for the 2011 Holiday Season. I continue to plug away at my fiction and have started writing more poetry and short stories.

I say happily working because I do have a good job. It’s hard and challenging work, but I’m happily and gainfully employed with benefits and I have a job that is as about as guaranteed as they come. Given the cost of my daughter’s education, a recent divorce and so many other issues, I doubt I’ll retire anytime soon, but that’s okay since I do actually enjoy my work and I receive bi-annual feedback during reviews that my work is appreciated. I count my blessings each and everyday.

While I’ve hits some bumps in the road these past two years, 2010 and beyond is shaping up to be incredibly rewarding on all fronts and I have to say that I’m excited about it, especially the time I’ve been able to carve out for my writing. Interestingly enough my yoga practice has facilitated this more than anything else. I’m a yoga cheerleader these days because the yoga process and philosophy has provided me with a foundation to accomplish many things I only dreamed about, and more importantly, helped me through some difficult times.

So, as I continue to be busy with work, writing, and living my life, I’ve finally found a peacefulness that I’ve never known before and a sense of living consciously that has kept me safe from some very negative energy from people that have unpleasantly surprised me of late. To these individuals and everyone else out there I wish only good things and positive energy and will genuinely end this entry on a yoga note - Namaste.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Do The Right Thing

No, I'm not talking about the Spike Lee movie.

In addition to that movie, those four words mean a lot. Of course, Doing The Right Thing can mean different things, depending on whom you ask. Sometimes it means paying your taxes. Sometimes it means volunteering in your community in some way. To some people it means going to church and putting money in the offering plate. For others it may mean simply being fair and honest with customers and others.

Anyway, I want to talk about one more way you can Do The Right Thing. But first, a little background.

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have a heck of a lot. Seriously. My dad and mom both worked in textile mills in the South, and neither had a high school diploma. When I came along, it meant mom couldn’t work for a while, but finally she was able to get back into harness and let my grandparents watch me.

We had a string of bad luck there for about a year when I was five. First of all, our house burned down with just about everything we had in it. At that time, there was no county fire department, and the city limits ended about a half-mile away. The city firetruck stopped at the city limits and watched to make sure the fire didn’t spread to any homes in the city limits, while the house burned to the ground.

During the months following that, we were living with my grandparents, and late one night we were involved in an accident that totaled the car and put all three of us in the hospital. That meant neither my mom nor my dad could work for several weeks.

The years before that had not been easy, but that Christmas was a really tough one. Minimal insurance and being out of work meant that there simply was no money for gifts. That’s the way it was.

But relatives and friends of the family came through. Though I neither knew nor understood until much later, all my gifts that year, and many the following year, came from outside the family. We were lucky… no, blessed… to have a support structure of people who both cared and were able to help a five-year-old boy have a Christmas that was not a disappointment. And a disappointment like that, on top of losing everything in the fire and being on crutches from a broken hip, would have been pretty rough on any kid.

Fast forward 48 years. Times are hard now--probably a lot harder for many more people now than they were in 1961 when we had our series of catastrophes. And because of the way families have dispersed across the country now (due to job moves or joblessness, ease of travel, etc.), many hurting families don’t have the kind of support structure that helped us through that rough time. These families need help, and the most vulnerable members of these families are the children.

No, I’m not trying to turn on your tear glands. I’m trying to make you think a little about how you might be able to help someone. There are lots of ways, really, for you to Do The Right Thing. But I want to talk about one specific way you can Do The Right Thing and even enjoy it.

This is the fourth year that Wolfmont Press has published an anthology of holiday-themed crime stories with the intent of helping kids, and its title is The Gift of Murder. The first year Wolfmont was able to contribute $1,365 to Toys for Tots. The next year, we got it up to $2,000. Last year, with Dying In a Winter Wonderland, we managed to raise $3,300 for Toys for Tots. This year, we’re shooting for $3,400 so we can hit our target of $10,000 in toto over those four years.

The nineteen authors in this year’s anthology have donated their stories, and much of their time to promoting the book. The editor, John M. Floyd, did an awesome job of choosing from the approximately sixty submissions and in editing the book as well. The publisher is not making any money from the sale of this anthology. All the money over and above the cost of producing and selling the book goes to Toys for Tots, just as it has for the three previous books.

Your purchase of a copy of The Gift of Murder will help us to donate more to the Toys for Tots. Oh, I did say enjoy it, too, didn’t I? Well, this 278-page book has some awesome stories in it--stories that range from hilariously funny to darkly macabre, from day-to-day realism to extreme fantasy--but all crime stories that revolve around the winter holidays of Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa.

And remember: one thing it will NOT do is to put a cent into the pockets of the publisher. I want to reiterate that all publisher profits from the sales of the 2009 anthology go to Toys for Tots. And I'll tell you the truth right now: at this point we're not even close to our goal.

The nineteen authors are: J.F. Benedetto, Stefanie Lazer, Stephen D. Rogers, Anita Page, Randy Rawls, Earl Staggs, Peg Herring, Deborah Elliott-Upton, Bill Crider, Carolyn J. Rose, Elizabeth Zelvin, Barb Goffman, Austin S. Camacho, Sandra Seamans, Steve Shrott, Gail Farrelly, Herschel Cozine, Kris Neri, and Marian Allen. These folks are talented, and generous, since they contributed their stories AND their time in promoting the book in various ways.

How do you buy a copy?

1. Get with one of the authors--some of them have a few copies left.

2. Order from The Digital Bookshop, which partners with Wolfmont to maximize the profits from the book, and thus increase the money that goes to Toys for Tots.

3. Order from your favorite independent bookseller.

4. Order online through Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

5. Oh! If you prefer an ebook version, it's available at The Digital Bookshop in ebook form, too, as well as in Kindle version on Amazon.

And if you don’t need another book, or don't want to do any of those things, how about this? Go by your local toy store, buy a couple of toys, and take them by the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots collection center. It’s relatively painless, and you’ll feel better after you do it.

Copyright ©2009 Tony Burton

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Catching Up

Remember last week when I said I was under the weather and thought I might be coming down with something? Well, I came down with something all right. I spent the better part of last week in bed with the flu. Not fun. Not fun at all.

So this weekend has been somewhat of a catching up time for me. I've been trying to catch up on household chores that have been neglected. (This includes all of the extra loads of laundry to be done in order to purge the germs from the house.) I've been trying to catch up on paperwork from school (I think I have about a million assignments to grade!) And I've been catching up on e-mail.

It's amazing to me how much e-mail comes in and goes out of my box on a daily basis. I guess I never really realize it until I go several days without checking it. Then the number in my inbox astounds me. (Talk about "You've got mail.") Some of it is junk and can simply be deleted without even a read-through. Other messages need to be at least skimmed to make sure I didn't miss anything vital. And then there are those that need immediate attention. (Or as immediate as it's going to get after four days.) The internet certainly has changed the way we do business, communicate, live...

Too bad it can't do the laundry.

On that note, I need to run. The washing machine is calling. (But my inbox is empty, for now, so that's a good thing.)

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ivan Mestrovic by Margot Justes

Split has many treasures and one that was a delightful find for me was sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. His work can only be described as monumental, towering, imposing and beyond life size.

His home, a villa that sits on a hill overlooking the Adriatic is, as the saying goes, beautifully situated. Converted to a museum, the home is surrounded by luxurious gardens, one could not ask for a more creative muse. Everywhere you turn, the view is magnificent.

The small more intimate museums like the Mestrovic museum do not leave you breathless and harried but instead leave you with a sense of greater awareness of the treasures shown, and I was enthralled.

Mestrovic worked in bronze, marble and wood. I enjoyed the wood pieces the most, the work seemed more defined, gentler and tactile. No, I did not touch, but I wanted to. His bronzes spoke of power, survival and dominance, the marble pieces on the other hand were romantic, flowing with gentle curves, yet dominant and compelling. You were left with a sense of wonder at the dynamic strength and sheer size of his sculptures. These are my impressions.

Born in 1883, he lived through wars and religious upheavals, his work reflected the times. He died in the US in 1962. There is a great deal of information available on his art and life, and just to give you a glimpse of some of his work, I posted pictures.

Chicago, a city well known for its love of art, has two magnificent, gigantic pieces sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic, The Bowman and The Spearman; perfectly positioned at the Congress Plaza entrance to Grant Park.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3

Friday, November 13, 2009

Raising the Dead (Manuscript) PART II by Robert W. Walker

Yes, more about the novel I dug out of its grave to breathe life into it and reshape it and publish it. I have kindle-lized my so-called “dead” novel that would never see print according to the powers that be—the people who determine for you and me what is bestseller material, what they will get behind, what they will put on shelves for our reading pleasure. I am still waiting for a green light from a traditional publisher for Bloodroot which is now Children of Salem, but now it is a different book as a close friend and fanatical reader on finishing the last rewrite of this cursed book said to me, “This is an historical romance, Rob.” And she gave me a number of points in the novel where the romance could and should come to the forefront and such things as the geography of a witch hunt needs find the backdrop. She was right, of course, and I changed the title thereafter from Bloodroot to Children of Salem and subtitled it “Romance in the time of the Witch Trials.” And thereafter on the final final rewrite, I transformed this opus (160,000 words that breaks down in three books – another reason for its being a cursed book in the eyes of agents and editors I have known).

I transformed Bloodroot from a seriously wrought historical novel pitched on the fork of one attitude on my part to an entirely different pitchfork…the attitude of the writer of romance and intrigue, and a far less serious-seeming attitude it is.

I use the term serious here to describe my approach, my internal dialogue with myself about the nature of the novel that changed so much over the years from a dissertation –literally as it was my dissertation at Northwestern University in first draft in 1972 that set me to work on this accursed journey to craft a truly worthwhile novel that would go well beyond the famous play, the Crucible written by Marilyn Monroe’s husband as an allegory for McCarthyism. Arthur Miller did his homework and crafted an amazingly close to the truth play, and I suspect he read Francis Marion’s nonfiction work on the subject in order to write his play. I was determined to write an expose to shed light on every aspect of the event, something no play could do but perhaps a novel might.

Of course while putting the novel away and taking it out every couple few years to rewrite it, I wrote other titles—in fact over forty-five—and I honed my craft, and in writing my Chicago City series begun with City for Ransom and the award-winning Shadows in the White City, and the trilogy ender City of the Absent, I realized that what I took to 1893, I needed to take (this attitude) to 1692. Finding the right attitude toward the work and going back in for a final time to rework it as a thriller yes but a romantic thriller and a romantic historical changed everything down t the title – Children of Salem.

Not that the curse has been lifted as it sits on the desk now of one agent for what will be a year in February….and it has continued to be turned down with a lovely note attached but now I KNOW it is not the work that is cursed but the so-called business of traditional publishing that is cursed. And so it was with absolute confidence that I set myself up as my own digital publisher and published Children of Salem via the Kindle store where it is available on the Kindle and in many another format for a modest price. And I have also placed it on the paperless, virtual shelf at

Admittedly, in its earlier permutations and form, Bloodroot should most certainly have been rejected but not Children of Salem. I had every reason and the some to give up on this novel; I even began to believe it had a curse on it and did not want to be told—that perhaps the villains in the piece, based on real historical people, were working against me. But by the same token, Jeremiah Wakely would not let me off so easily; he kept coming back at me and demanding my attention and time and devotion to this story. A good thirty years later I don’t need traditional publishers to finally get this tome, this opus, this book I was born to write out of my bottom drawer forever and into the hands of readers. It is outselling all my other ebooks put together, including the HarperCollins pubbed City Series books that have been priced to high for the typical kindle reader’s liking. Bottom line is that technology I could not have imagined even a year ago has given me a platform and a publication springboard for Children of Salem. And now a first review of the book has popped up on Amazon and it is vindication balm for its author—a FIVE-STAR review. You can read the review and see the great artwork at:

Thanks for reading this obsessed author’s blog and happy reading and writing to you. Do leave a comment and let me hear from you.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

SALUTE to our Veterans! by DL Larson

Did you hug a Vet, yesterday? Or tell a Vet thank you for their unselfish service? Perhaps you attended a community parade honoring our fallen veterans. Maybe you watched a bit of the service at Fort Hood, heard the President's solemn words about sacrifice and the convictions we hold dear regarding freedom.

Our freedom is a precious commodity. It may never be paid for in full. Seems with every generation a new crop of radicals find ways to sabotage our basic rights to live as we see fit. We retaliate by defending our beliefs, because if we don't, freedom would perish and with it all we as Americans cherish.

Last evening I attended the WindyCity RWA monthly meeting where a Vietnam Vet and his wife of 40+ years were the guest speakers. They talked of "how things were back then," meaning the late 1960's and early 1970's. My generation. Many Vietnam vets have in the last ten years started talking about their experience. Before that time, very few spoke up. Maybe they couldn't verbalize their fears and trials of war because no one wanted to listen; maybe the WWII vets didn't consider Vietnam a REAL war and so the Vietnam vets went underground. Maybe the media had caused too many hearts to harden and the general population thought they knew too much about that ugly war and simply wanted to move on.

Regardless of the reason, I hope we see more Vietnam vets speak up, admit they served our country. We, as citizens can in turn say "thank you" for standing guard during such turmoil. Maybe this blog will encourage a Vietnam vet to wear his veteran's hat in public, or give him the nudge he needs to tell his children he served his country and why. I pray all our vets, men, women, young and old, know how much they are honored and appreciated for keeping our freedom alive.

God Bless and SALUTE to each!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Advertising Can Be Obnoxious by Morgan Mandel

As I sit in the commuter train on my way to my day job in Downtown Chicago, I can't help but be annoyed. That's because on select cars at varying times, a bunch of signage covers the car. Today, it's the one I'm in. When I glance out the window, it's like looking through a screen door. Apparently, aesthetics aside, Metra has found a way to get advertising dollars, which in this day and age are sorely needed. If it keeps the fares from going up more, it's worth the inconvenience.

When he sees a commercial come on, my DH grabs the remote and flicks to a different channel. I'm more willing to watch, but what drives me crazy is when a short commercial comes on, is followed by a different commercial, and then after the second one, the very same first one appears. At that point I'll get up and let the dog out or do some other chore because it's just too irritating.

As an author, to get my brand out I'm forced to do advertising, which we like to call promotion. How else will the public know that I've so far written three books? So, I do book signings where people will still stop by and say they've never heard of me before. "That's why I'm here," I usually tell them.

I hand out bookmarks, I get reviews and post them, I send out postcards, I do presentations at libraries, I do so much networking online on blogs, egroups, and networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever have time to concentrate on my work in progress.

Lots of authors find the promotion side of the coin obnoxious. Most of the time I have to admit I enjoy it, maybe even too much - Except for those times when I see thirty emails waiting to be opened so I don't miss something important and I just don't have time to open them, or when I just want to spend time with my husband and our dog child, Rascal and I have to tear myself away from the computer and ignore it.

A happy balance would be nice, but in this competitive day and age, somehow that doesn't seem possible.

What about you? Do you enjoy promotion? Or do you consider it obnoxious? Please share.

Morgan Mandel

Monday, November 9, 2009


At Bouchercon I saw convincing evidence that the paper book was not dead, as hundreds of fans hauled away rolling cases filled with new acquisitions. But there was also much talk of the popularity of e-books, which got a dramatic boost from the Kindle.

A completely separate ongoing conversation had to do with the threatened death of the short mystery story. The most vocal proponents of this form belong to the Short Mystery Fiction Society which gives out the Derringer Award for the best short mystery of the year.

The challenge with short stories is that there are precious few places to get them published. Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines have little competition these days. The Strand is a larger, slick magazine that also publishes some fiction among other things.

So the question arises, will people buy short stories the way they buy novels in e-book format? Perhaps the short story form will gain even more popularity if the stories can be purchased individually.

If short fiction sold individually is the leading edge of the new wave of reading options, then Echelon Press is standing at that edge. Their new line of Echelon Shorts allows readers to download quick reads for small money – much like downloading the songs you like to make your own IPod mix instead of buying whole CDs.

I loved the idea I decided to submit a story myself and was pleased to be accepted. So now, for a couple of bucks, new readers can get the flavor of a Hannibal Jones novel in a few thousand words. My short story, “A Little Wildness” has all the basic elements of a Hannibal Jones novel in a bite-sized package.

Naturally, I hope you’ll give the story a try. But more to the point, I hope you and others will step further into the 21st century and sample other short stories on the site. This could be the reading plan of the future and we get to be there today.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What I'm Reading

I'll apologize in advance for the brevity of this post, but I'm feeling a bit under-the-weather today, so I've curled up on the couch with a good book. I chose "According to Jane" by Marilyn Brant (a friend and fellow Chicago-Norther).

So far I'm about 100 pages in, and I'm hooked. Marilyn has spun a marvelous tale of a young woman's journey to find love. I highly recommend picking it up for yourself.

For more about the book and Marilyn herself, visit her website at www.marilynbrant.comUntil next time,

Happy reading!


Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Palace by Margot Justes

My fascination with ruins is relatively recent. My first trip to Athens a few years ago got me started. Age may have something to do with it, I look at history with a bit more depth now and ruins are the ultimate show and tell in history, at least for me.

You can see how a society lived, the order that existed and your imagination takes root at the endless possibilities. I wonder if I’m stepping where a scholar stepped, walk the path of a Roman Soldier, an Emperor, the possibilities of historical footsteps are endless, and as a writer that appeals to me.

Diocletian’s Roman Palace is just such a place, filled with history, well preserved, just simply magnificent. His retirement home was built near the place of his birth, Salona close to Split and was ready for his occupation in 305 AD.

It is massive, a fortress as well as a palace originally with entrances on three sides, two on land, one from the sea. Incredibly well preserved and to this day it blends in with centuries of various architectural styles, and the best part, it is woven in with the contemporary life style. People live and work in this gigantic remnant, this incredible relic of ancient Rome.

We were given an impromptu concert-for lack of a better description-in a rotunda, its top long gone, but the sound of the voices echoed thought out and rose to the heavens, poignant Croatian folk songs stirred the emotions of the people standing and listening enthralled to the angelic voices. A memory never to be forgotten.

I'll be in Galena tomorrow signing A Hotel in Paris, at Book World in case anyone is in the area, please stop by and say hello. And the CBRNE threat presentation is posted on my website.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3

Friday, November 6, 2009

Raising the Dead Manuscript from Its Grave: Part 1 by Robert W. Walker

I published myself after a lifetime of eschewing any sort of vanity press. And I did it using a “dead” manuscript about a “dead” subject filled with “dead” historical characters in a “dead” time period which one editor, a true pro, said of: “It is the hardest time period to write about, to make come alive, and especially to display any sort of sexual encounter, but in your hands Rob, if anyone can pull it off, it’s you.” That sort of trust and confidence in my writing and even rejection letters laced with lovely and positive remarks has kept me going back and back to the grave to unearth this dead manuscript. Rejected hundreds of times and stowed away off and on for some thirty years or more. I had every reason to lower it into the ground of my past writing attempts and leave it buried and chalk it up to part of that large graveyard of previous work that stays in the grave but represents lessons learned, craft-building, and I am a firm believer that book X could not have come into being as it is had I not failed on book Y from which I learned so much of what to do and what not to do.

Recently as July I began putting up ebooks on the paperless bookstore called Kindle (for the Kindle reader) and I put up a number of out of print titles, and a book of short stories, and a how-to book that is doing well there, and then I decided to place up an original never before seen anywhere else title – Children of Salem, one of my books that had been buried by a stack of rejections so heavy as to be used as the headstone.

Why put it up on Kindle, a book rejected by EVERY New York publishing house twice over in various permutations? A book turned down in fact by any and all publishers, editors, and agents who ever took a look. Was I just being arrogant and publishing the work out of anger or angst or what? No frustration is the word. Fed up with traditional publishers who could not SEE the possibilities of this novel, a novel I had kept faith in for over thirty years, with agents who loved it but couldn’t sell it…with editors who could not turn it down without writing personal notes about how it affected them, etc., etc., I saw the new technology as a godsend for Children of Salem and decided to take the bull by the horns and put it out there. My risk? Only my reputation.

Maybe all those people who had rejected the novel were right, but I didn’t think so and I trust that readers will agree with me, and at least one has! One who has given it a Five-Star review on now finally. It feels freeing and great to have taken control and vanity or not, whatever you call digital publishing, for me it was and is VINDICATION as Children of Salem is outselling all my other ebooks save my how-to (Dead On Writing). To see the review and the fantastic cover art my son, Stephen, designed for Children of Salem you need only click here:

I kid you not, I never give up on a novel idea once I have determined it is a worthwhile project, worthy of my time, energy, blood, sweat, and rewrites. This goes for this manuscript that may even be thirty years old, rewritten countless times, given the “drawer” countless times, but never thrown into the flames or fed to the landfill. Is this a good or a bad thing? I suppose it depends on the idea and the execution of the novel, the crafty crafting of the craft.

I bring this up because my Children of Salem, which for decades went by the title of Bloodroot, and I tenaciously held onto the title until I changed my attitude toward the novel. Bloodroot as a title for me was a double entendre: poisonous nightshade or bloodroot posed the idea of a poison in the blood of Puritanism, and it held the image of a rooting in the old world, a poisonous idea that followed mankind on the ships that led us to America and the Bay Colony of Massachusetts.

The title simply felt like a good fit, and the novel was a serious, heavily-heavily researched and layered tale of the Salem Witchcraft episode as it was never portrayed before—a unique look at the economics, the politics, the theology of witchcraft, as well as the geography and history and sociology of the belief and use of that belief during an election year to condemn and thus win reelection. I saw so many connections to modern life in what happened to “us” in 1692.

I can’t count on two hands the number of editors and agents who turned the manuscript down with the proviso that it was a great book “But I can’t sell it.” So it was stashed away again and again, trotted out every couple-few years and rewritten again and given its chance with a new agent or another editor only to chalk up more rejections than Babe Ruth strike outs. But always with the warmly worded, “I can’t get the scenes out of my mind and I loved the book BUT I can’t sell it.”

Again to the bottom drawer, literally. It fit no “commercial” needs or cubby holes, no pigeon holes and no category. It was historical but scary as in real—reality-based terror in which neighbor hangs neighbor but it was also a sociological tract that shed a light on human activity that points a finger at us all. No one was safe and everyone was guilty, and even our hero, Jere Wakely, had unspoken issues that only helped to fan the flames; and it was a condemnation of church and state in bed together, and it was multiple point of view, and somewhere in there a romance was at work….

Little wonder it has always been a hard sell; loved ones considered my angst with this novel as simple—the book had a curse on it, and it had control of me, and it would never give me my freedom. It was a deep well and I was its ghost with chains upon my feet. Loved ones confused my passion with obsession, and at times I too decided it was all a cursed foul matter that I should burn in the nearest roaring fire. Instead I would pull on something within me that insisted this story could be reshaped to get something other than a wonderfully kindly gently worded rejection.

I intend to carry on this discussion NEXT FRIDAY here at Acme so do return. There is a great well of resolve required to have faith in your own work for as many years as I held this belief for my Salem Opus. And so this blog needs be split. Hope to see you back here then and in the meantime do leave me a comment as we make it soooooo easy to leave a comment here.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Windy City Authors & Local Libraries! by DL Larson

Good golly, I love libraries! Look at all this free publicity for the local authors of Illinois who belong to the WindyCity RWA Chapter! The displays have been going on for several weeks in the branch libraries in the Naperville area: 95th Street, Nicols, and Naper Boulevard. I believe the displays will be up for a little longer, so if you get the chance, check them out!

The timing on these displays couldn't come at a better time for me. Just when I'm thinking I'm standing at a crossroads and getting nowhere, some kind souls do this and there my books are standing face out for all to see! There are so many great writers in the WindyCity chapter and I'm proud to be a part of them, glad my books belong with this family of authors.

I'm a great believer in asking for and receiving signs. I know we're not supposed to talk religion on this blog, but I want to share with you what happened recently. I've been asking the good Lord to give me a sign if I'm on the right path, with my life and with my writing. Imagine the pestering child pulling on mama's skirt while she's doing a dozen other things that HAVE got to get done. But I persist; I'm a stubborn child.

I get my answer, not in words, but through action. A RWA friend sent me nine pictures of the WindyCity Author displays. I don't go to Naperville very often so seeing these pictures is the closest I will get to being there. I'm thrilled! My books are right there in the thick of things. But it doesn't stop there.

Two days ago I had a few free moments to chat with my fellow librarians between our preschool visits to the library. We were chatting at the circulation desk when a lady stepped off the elevator and approached us. "I've been looking for you," she said to me. "Would you autograph these for me?" She had two sets of my books, Memories Trail and Promises To Keep. She'd purchased them through She had the urge to do some Christmas shopping and decided on books. My books.

I didn't know this lady, but somewhere she heard about me. It's been two years since my last book was published, so my books aren't in many stores, and I have to admit I haven't been pushing them like I did awhile ago.

Some might call this coincidence and that's okay. I like to believe it's an answer to a question. All this happened at the right time for me. I simply needed a little nudge to remind me, yes, I'm right where I'm supposed to be, and yes, struggling is part of being an author. If only I could remember that!!!

Til next time ~

DL Larson