Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oop! Internet Explorer Could Not Find by DL Larson

Well, it's happened again ~ my website is down. I don't want it to be down, but it is down and I can't fix it without help. I feel helpless and a little "blonde" because I don't know what to do to resolve the problem. What's even more embarrassing is my sister, yes the one who had the heart attack, brought it to my attention. I didn't know it was down. Bless her healing heart for informing me, but shucks, I feel really dumb just now.

My lovely daughter takes care of my website. Yes, the daughter who last week had a baby. Guess we have been so "baby" oriented we forgot all about paying on-line bills, not just this month, but last month as well. Geesh! I'm a platinum blonde at this point!

So how do I get out of this fix and move on? The bill is paid. Still, no website. I don't want to bug my daughter about my non-existing website, so perhaps I should hire someone else. Where does one go to find a reputable web master? I'm really unprepared for this. I don't want to hire the first person I stumble across. I don't want to pay a lot of money either. What I really want is my old web page back. I feel like a little kid, "put it back! Put it BACK!" But I don't know how to do that either.

So, I'm looking for advice. Good, sensible, EASY answers! Is that being realistic or not? I don't know. I don't know, I don't know! Maybe web pages are hard to maintain. My daughter always said, "send me what you want and I'll do it." That's the extent of my involvement of web paging.

I know it's time to take control of my website. It's time to get a handle on this. Does anyone have any suggestions? Are there any simple steps I could master without losing my mind? Please ~ share your knowledge with me!

Oh, one last thing - I don't want to be a "blonde" anymore!

Til next time ~
DL Larson

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Can We Talk

In real life I don't say much. I have to be very interested in a topic to open up.

When I read or write a book, I'm the opposite. I must have lots of dialog or the book will bore me.

What about you? Are your own habits different than what you expect from a book?

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Life REALLY Gets in the Way!

I had set many goals for myself over the past decade or so, both personal and professional, but when my life took an abrupt turn a few years back, I thought at first it had me down for the count. As I pulled myself up from the mud where I was thrown, bruised and confused, I was scared. Really, really scared. Then as the next years went by, and mostly as this last one unfolded, I saw so many more opportunities in my life than I have ever seen before. This presented a different kind of confusion, but almost of a fun nature, in trying to sort out which direction to go first. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, looking for the shiniest wrapping paper and hoping the present was mine.

Well, sometimes you find that shiny wrapping paper and read the tag and see that it is meant for someone else. That’s okay. Part of my healing these past few years has been to wish the best for everyone in my life, past and present, even my “enemies” or those who’ve - at the risk of turning this into a country western lyric - done me wrong. I reserve the right to exclude those people from my life, but I can wish them well at a safe and very great distance. It’s such an emotional burden to carry around hate and anger, and now that some people are no longer in my life I realize just how much hate and anger was part of them, and how much time I have wasted walking beside them and helping them carry their load. Part of my journey these past few years has been to stop carrying anything for anyone else but myself. I breath much better now - both physically and emotionally.

So, I started filling up my life with events and causes that meant something to me and became extremely busy but happy in the frenzied energy of my life. Then, BOOM - and there always seems to be a BOOM - a number of things happened almost at once. From my elderly dog passing away to my elderly friend going towards the end of her life with much difficulty, I haven’t quite had the peaceful year of growth that I had hoped for. Still, I’ve learned quite a bit about life in general, and pet and elderly health care in particular. My writing this year has suffered greatly as I’m simply exhausted at the end of the day. However, I have a wealth of knowledge now to write about many of the things I’ve experienced.

Now to find that peace and quite to do so. I’m getting close, and as I get closer and closer I realize that life really is a journey full of great things, bad things and everything in between. Partly out of frustration and partly out of a need to be free I just want to take my shoes and socks off and run through the rain water. BTW - it’s raining in the Chicago area today - has been for the past two days, on and off, but mostly on.

Oh, and that shiny wrapping paper? Sometimes you also find out that the shiny paper is the best part of the gift. We always say, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Well, we can add, “Don’t judge a gift by it’s wrapping paper,” or even the person who gave it to you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Crossing Over

Last month I submitted my latest mss to my editor at Wild Rose for consideration. This is Jake's story: the last in my series.

This week I got an e-mail from an editor at the Yellow Rose line at TWRP (Normally I write for the Champagne Rose line, which is contemporary romance.) Since Jake is a bull rider, and his riding is an integral part of the story, the mss was transferred over to the Yellow Rose line which is designated for contemporary western stories: in other words, the cowboy line. She said she was looking forward to reading the mss and would get back to me no later than December 1.

In some ways, December still seems so far away, but it was nice to know things are moving along. I'm excited that my series (If this story gets contracted!) will be somewhat of a cross-over at Wild Rose, spanning two different lines! Maybe it will even increase my reader base.

To celebrate, I thought I'd share some of the pictures I've taken at the rodeo over the past couple of years, featuring my favorite kind of cowboys: those bull riders!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Endings & New Beginings! by DL Larson

I'm happy to share good news that my sister is recovering from her heart attack! She is one tough and very special lady and will be back to "normal" very soon. As for my daughter, she managed to worry my family profoundly and bless us endlessly with a baby boy ~ born just yesterday afternoon. Baby was a hefty 8 lbs. 10 oz. and 22 inches long and rather unwilling to be born. He is finally here, healthy and beautiful, cone-head and all! His name .... well, we're waiting to hear. I call him precious baby!

In the midst of these last stressful weeks, I was asked to critique a children's book. called, "14 Cows for America." It too explains tragedy and the goodness that comes despite the devastation of disaster. The author, Carmen Agra Deedy, wrote a moving story about a Kenyan village and their extraordinary gift to America after the 911 attack.

Kimeli wins a scholarship to study in the U.S. He witnesses the attack in New York and sees how police officers and firemen risk their own lives to help others. He wants to help America too. He learned as a child "to heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own." Kimeli returns to his Kenyan village and tells his people what he intends to do. He wants to give America one of his most prized possesions, a cow. The village cows are the most important commodity they own. The villagers hear the story of the two towers toppling and the sadness of America.

An American diplomat visits the village, expecting to meet a few people and accept the cow as a token of friendship. He is greeted by hundreds of people who want to share in the sorrow the United States suffered. Not one cow, but fourteen are given in friendship.

The story ends with a simple, yet poignant statement, "Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort."

I highly recommend this children's story to those interested in talking about friendship, hardships and how the rest of the world was affected by 911.

We may not always get the "happy ending" we wish for, but I pray goodness will always prevail, whether with families or nations.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset, Let it Rain

This morning, around five-twenty, I could hardly tell where I was going when I walked our dog.  Rascal doesn't like walking in the dark, but today she was in the mood for forging ahead. Wouldn't you know it, we got a few blocks away from the house when I heard a rustling in the trees, followed by rain falling right on mine and Rascal's heads. If there's one thing Rascal hates more than the dark, it's getting wet. Needless to say, we headed back.

Why was it dark today, when it hadn't been a few months ago? Well, I live in Illinois. Friday is the first day of Autumn. The sun now comes up later and sets earlier. Also, with rain in the offing, clouds obscured whatever light we might have had.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, you need to check the visibility ratio for the area and Season you're writing about before you make a flub and say it's dark when it's usually light, or vice versa. People who live in that location would definitely know the difference. You might also want to research whether or not that area is prone to draughts or heavy amounts of rainfall, since clouds can also diminish light.

If you don't have firsthand knowledge, you can ask a friend who lives there, or check the Internet.

Speaking of asking friends, How early does it get light around you these days?

Morgan Mandel

Monday, September 19, 2011

Update! Update!

Over a year ago my publisher decided to close their YA line. I was upset, but understood. I’d written one book and one short story in an anthology that they published. It was my dream to get published and I’d done it. When I received the email that the line was closing I was devastated. Sure, I knew that I had accomplished what I wanted to do, but now what was going to happen to my book? Was it going to disappear into the great abyss? Would it be as if my book never existed?

I had my choice, leave the book in their catalog until they decided to pull it completely (they were keeping the YA book in their lists, just not publishing new titles) or get my rights back and move on. After the grief, (really, I felt like my dream was dying – rapidly!) I realized I needed to move forward. I asked for my rights back and a year ago I put Ordinary Me on kindle.

It was the best thing I could have done for my book. My baby was alive and kicking. Over the past year I've sold just over 1350 copies of Ordinary Me on Kindle alone.

Last month I took another step and made the book available in paperback. The cost is a little higher for the paperback version, but not everyone has a kindle or an app for it, so I wanted to make it available for those readers as well.

It’s amazing to me as an author…there are over 1300 people that have my book. I am just amazed and grateful that this avenue was available. My dream is still alive and building. I received my rights back for the short story I wrote, and I am planning for that story to make its debut on kindle soon.

It’s been a fun ride and I am not ready to get off yet. I hope it goes on and on.

Thanks for checking in and have a great week!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Operation Paperback by Margot Justes

I’ve mentioned Operation Paperback before.

To use their words, “Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization that collects gently used books nationwide and sends them to American troops deployed overseas.” Since 1999, the organization shipped over 1.3 million books to our soldiers.

We collect books at work and to date have shipped 1,026 books. We accept donations from our employees and a few libraries have given us their ‘withdrawals’.

I love books and for me there is no greater pleasure, than to see someone else enjoy the escape from reality that a book provides. I assume that is especially true for our soldiers. If anyone needs an escape from a brutal reality, it most certainly would be a soldier in the middle of a war, or a soldier confined to a hospital bed.

There are many VA Medical Centers that need books, and it’s not difficult or expensive to send a box. The US Postal Service provides free shipping supplies, and if you ship via Media Mail and use a plain box it is much cheaper.

If you send the books outside the US, there is a special flat rate for the boxes earmarked for the military. Joining the organization is easy, just go to:

I was asked not to provide the name of the facilities however if you e-mail me at, I will be able to give you the name of one medical center, or if you prefer to send the books to me, I will give you my shipping address. I’ll make sure the center receives them.

For just a little bit of an effort, you can make a difference in a soldier’s life, make it a bit more palatable for them and let them know we care.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When Anticipation Turns To Shock by DL Larson

The last few days have been harrowing at my house. My daughter is nine months pregnant and we're all very excited to see and hold this new addition to our family. It's also stressful because her husband is working in Indiana which leaves her alone at night. As a mom, I worry. I worry for reasons only another mom will understand.

We have been focused on the future, looking forward to this special time when new life will be a part of our family. That's perhaps one of the reasons I was so shocked to receive the phone call from my niece. She wasn't asking about the upcoming baby, she had her own news to deliver. My sister had a massive heart attack!

The gears in my mind refused to turn. I couldn't grasp the severity of my niece's words. My sister is healthy! She's active and social, she eats right, exercises daily and has never smoked!

My sister will roll her eyes when she realizes I have compared her health problems with book writing. But great suspense has a way of leading us down one trail only to jerk us into another reality. The reality is my daughter is fine, my worry is frivolous compared to my concern over my sister. The shock of what happened has me thinking and pondering a different scenario. Good writing not only captures our attention, it also lures us in, only to shock us to our core. We love the unexpected. We thrive on surprise. Shock is a readers adrenalin fix. The suspense of what will happen next, drives us on, propels us to find out more.

In a perfect world, my sister will be fine with no complications and my daughter will deliver a beautiful healthy baby! Unlike my books, I can't write the ending to this suspense. But I can ask for guidance and ask that my prayers be heard. Have I mentioned, I like happy endings?

Or would that be new beginnings? I ask for that too.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


As usual, I took Rascal for a walk around the neighborhood. Also as usual, I saw many For Sale signs, most of which had been up for at least a year.

Then I noticed something different. One of the signs said SOLD! That was a happy surprise. It feels good to witness someone's success, even if I don't know that person. I have no idea about the circumstances behind the sale. Perhaps the seller had to lower the price drastically. Maybe the seller decided to make further improvements to make the property more eye catching or up to standards.Maybe a new realtor entered the picture. Maybe the right advertising was done. Whatever the case, the end result was a sale.

It didn't take me long to make the connection betweem that and the author situation. Many of us are either doing what we can to get noticed by an agent or editor, or going through the steps for self-publishing. Whatever the case, our manuscripts need to be in tiptop shape, and appealing. It doesn't stop there. Once our books are published, be it electronically, in print, or both, we need to get noticed. We need to spread the word our books are quality and are really great reads.

One way is to find our target audience and go after it, so our books can be SOLD, like that house.

What other ways are there?
Morgan Mandel

Killer Career is 99 cents on
Kindle & Smashwords,
Also in print at $13.95
Forever Young-Blessing
or Curse coming soon.
Two Wrongs also to be
re-released at
99 cents on Kindle
& Smashwords.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Adventure Back in Time

I joined a friend of mine at the Bristol, Wisconsin Renaissance Faire over labor day weekend. His daughter was one of the performers. As we “traveled” back in time through the plays at the Globe, wandered through the vendor displays and interacted with the street performers, we were pulled into the character and atmosphere of what it was like to live in a different era and a time when the average person was worried more about how to make it to the next day alive than the war of words among detached politicians.

For those who’ve attended a Renaissance Faire somewhere in the world you know what I’m talking about. Just like the Civil War Re-enactments, the Ren-Faire performers strive for authenticity even if that long-ago reality is sometimes interrupted by the plethora of attendees saying those now infamous words, “Can you hear me now?” as they try to locate family and friends.

There was also a touch of modern day humor among the performers and vendors. One of the jewelry shops we visited had a most humorous sign posted. It read, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy.” Now that strikes fear in every parents heart! Signs proclaiming “Lady Visa and Sir MasterCard are honored here” also reminded participants that despite it’s authenticity the Ren-Faire is indeed a business.

I was reminded as I wandered around the grounds of Ren-Faire that as writers we are trying to achieve this same sense of presence in our stories with our readers. Our challenge of course is that we are limited to words in a traditional book format and the words we choose need to be powerful enough to ground our readers in our story through all their senses. If we embrace more multi-media formats for our stories there will still be challenges but we might have better success at provoking more senses with not only our words but visual and aural cues as well.

As a writer, who hasn’t heard the phrase - “Show Don’t Tell!” The performers at Ren-Faire have the benefit of giving visual cues from their costumes to their mannerisms and, of course, the way in which they speak. The first “Me Lady,” from a costumed gentleman made me feel pulled into the experience of being in this different time and place. A kiss on my hand as he bowed in respect sent a tingle up my spine. Ah, it was nice!

And, that’s the feeling we strive for our readers, at least I want to believe so. I want the reader of my stories to come away feeling pulled in, and yes for them to even think and feel - “Ah, that was nice!”

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today as we remember...


And to all of those who protect, serve, and fight, we remember you, too.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Honoring One of the Great Authors! by DL Larson

This week many of us are reliving the tragedy of 9/11, watching documentaries on TV, reading articles in newspapers and sharing with others what we remember of that day. Our way of life was threatened, is still in jeapardy as our soldiers continue to defend us and our beliefs in freedom.

Freedom! Our forefathers cherished that word. They were not perfect by any means, but they held a belief that life could be better if governments got out of the way and let folks run their own lives. Love of country and respect for fellow man was a priority. Freedom of religion too. They needed to put into words what they held true. They needed a writer.

The writer chosen was an energetic man; by age nine he had studied Latin, Greek and French. By fourteen he added other languages and classical literature. At sixteen he entered the College of William and Mary. By nineteen, he studied law for five years and opened his own practice at twenty-three. When he was twenty-five he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He wrote extensively and by thirty-one was well known for his views of the "Summary View of the Rights of British America." By the time he was thirty-two he became a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress. When he was thirty-three he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson wrote down the ideals of the young nation. Those words he committed to paper have been tested many times during wars and disputes with other nations. If the British had won over the Continental Army, Thomas Jefferson most likely would have hanged for treason.

Jefferson used his writing skills throughout his entire life. He served in Congress, became an American minister to France and negotiated treaties with other European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams. When he was forty-six, he served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington. He became an active head of the Republican Party and at fifty-seven became our third president.

One would think after two terms of presidency, he would slow up a bit. But Jefferson had other goals as well. When he was sixty-six he sold his extensive library of books to the government which spiraled into what is known today as the Library of Congress. He then founded the University of Virginia. He campaigned for its charter, secured its location, designed its buildings, planned the curriculum and served as first head master.

Jefferson is also known for his many quotes. One of my favorites is: "My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."

Thomas Jefferson died on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Long Weekend Equals Busy Weekend

It sounded nice at the outset. A three day weekend. Ahhhhhhhhh. Time.

Trouble is, the more time I 'have', the more I seem to pile on my plate. Take today for example. I have church this morning, a community service event in the early afternoon, and then we're heading out to Ravinia to see Carrie Underwood. Don't get me wrong, it will be a fun day, but all told I'll probably spend an hour at my house today.

So, having tomorrow off is a good thing. Maybe I can get caught up with my usual weekend things then!

Happy Labor Day weekend! Whether you are relaxing or busy, busy, busy, I hope you enjoy this last unofficial weekend of summer...can you believe it?!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chicago North RWA Spring Fling by Margot Justes

The Chicago North RWA Spring Fling is a huge event for our chapter. It is also a tremendous amount of work to put on a conference of this caliber.

I mention this now, because our registration opened up September 1st; but it takes about two years to plan the event-a lot of work is involved.

This year we have a committee of very dedicated members who are doing an amazing job. They lined up bestselling authors and fantastic editors and agents.

The SF Ladies-as I like to call them-signed a great contract with the Marriott, keeping in mind the current difficult economic times.

The publicity, the registration, arranging the panels, picking up our guests at the airport, and all the tiny details that are so important to make the conference a success are being done.

There are a multitude of e-mails, meetings, ideas being tossed back and forth, all of that takes a tremendous amount of time.

I am not a member of the committee, but as chapter president I am privileged to read all the e-mails going back and forth, and I am truly amazed and in awe at the dedication of the SF Ladies.

This promises to be an amazing conference, and if you're a writer, a reader, a fan, you will enjoy the time spent with the CN RWA Spring Fling...Cool City, Hot Romance is our motto.

Here is the link to register :

Hope to see you April 27-28 at the Chicago Marriott NW in Hoffman Estates.

SF Ladies, thank you for an inspiring job.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going Out Of Business! by DL Larson

I'm sure most have heard Borders Bookstores are closing. I've mixed feelings on seeing the stores empty their shelves of books, games and magazines. I get a fluttering in my stomach each time I return to the store and see less than I did before. My first trip I was disappointed because most items were discounted only ten percent. Now the cut it up to seventy perecent. Great bargains for sure, but the emptiness is vast and certain the days of purchasing are limited.

No one knows how this closing will impact writers. It may be only a ripple of discontent that another store is closed and book signings will be fewer than before. It certainly means one less chance for selling or promoting our work in a local mall or town. Other avenues will have to be found to sell a book.

I know many will say books can be purchased on and other internet avenues, and as a librarian, I purchase on-line a great deal. BUT I'm old school, and love browsing through the stacks of new books. It doesn't much matter what isle I stroll through, I enjoy looking. I enjoy the feel of the books. I enjoy the weight of them, flipping through the pages, seeing firsthand if I like the print or weight of the paper, the binding and spine. Guess I like touching, deciding for myself if I want hardcover or paperback.

My wallet will hold one less discount card, guess I should be happy about that. I will no longer need to spend my money to be a member of their book club. I won't receive any more flyers or notices via my email of upcoming events. I'll not be privy to upcoming local sales. Another empty building will set along the road to remind all of us that life is not always easy, let alone fair.

Yet in the midst of this downsizing and going out of business, the writing world struggles on, trying to recoup its former glory. Agents and publishers keep looking for the intriguing story, the thriller that will make national news. Money will be made and life will continue on, much as before, despite the loss.

Til next time ~

DL Larson