Friday, December 30, 2011

New Amazon/Kindle FREE Bks. PROGRAM

"Does it make sense to give away the store?"
"Are you nuts?"
"What's your new address? Bellvue Hospital?"

These are typical responses to the ebook Indie author who 'buys' into this newly put together brainstorm-result program that is a sly deal between authors and Amazon.com/kindle store  where I have an end-cap, a table in the coffee shop, and where I do a lot of time promoting, so when I saw this program come along, I was all-in from the get-go, placing up a number of my titles for the FREE 5-Day promotions push on Amazon (the largest display case for your book in the world!). HOWEVER, as I have said all over the internet, BEWARE and know what you are getting yourself into, for this program is NOT ripe or right for every Indie author.  READ the following to follow me on this:

This program is not for everyone but it suits my purposes perfectly as it does Joe Konrath's and many another author who has created a long list of titles on their dashboards. When one or two titles can be put up, others rotated in, it works wonders in garnering huge numbers of new and old readers. Amazon sold 4 million kindle/fire readers in December alone, so consider the numbers if you could get even a small slice of kindle-folks buzzing about your titles. I say it is not for everyone as meaning those who have titles on Smashwords and other ebook stores as part of the agreement is that you have to be exclusive to Kindle for 90 days (3 months), so you have to take down your titles elswhere to participate in this and the loan program attached to it. NO you make no cash on the freebies, but again if you have a lot of books to work with and they are on the kindle shelf (I have close on to 50 odd titles up there) then it can be a great way to garner new
eyes on your titles, covers, descripts and while most will place the book in a to be read stack, you just never know in as big a crowd as these freebies are generating who your book is going to find - reviewers, buzz-byters, screen writers, producers, agents, maybe even an open minded publisher, and certainly a few editors. Maybe. It is all a gamble but then so is any promotion.

For me it is the perfect solution to getting things moving to a new level of sales, I hope....but it was little skin off my nose to jump in with both feet -- all in. Why? Because for 3 years now I have promoted myself as a Kindle Original -- an author who is Exclusive to Kindle. I have not branched out from that in all this time. So I did not have to take down titles from B&N or Smashwords or elsewhere (which is another gamble and not very nice!). My last six finished novels have not even sought out the months of rejection slips or the waiting for a year and a half to see the contracted for title in print!

I saw that Joe Konrath leapt in with both feet as well; I had made my decision independent of Joe, a good friend, but I have followed Joe's advice about ebook publishing from the outset. In fact, Joe dragged me into ebook publishing kicking and screaming and I thank him all the time for doing so. Joe has put up 27 titles on five day promos, maybe more by now. I have put up 30 titles since Dec. 15th which has translated into an amazing 53,794 books given away -- no money changing hands, not a cent.

One title alone went to 20,000 bks. gone after it was placed up on Dec. 18th. UK numbers are added in here. So between US and UK, I have gained a lot more eyes on my pages...or will as time goes by. Never in 30 years of working on and off with traditional publishers have I ever known any author to have that many books go out for 'reviews' and reads -- in fact, I believe most author advance copies go out to approximately 50-150 reviewers. Not that all those takers of my books will review it but every reader is in a sense a 'buzz' reviewer. Gotta give me that, and I have to believe that months from now, I will still be reaping benefits from having placed my titles into this program. Two books I have as yet to enroll in the program but that was only due to some technical problems. I am all in. But as I said at top of this post, it all depends on YOUR circumstances. You may want to do as others have and place one of your titles, a leader for a series for
instance up. If you get five free promotion days for said title, that is money you could not have afforded for the book, so in a real sense, some cash is flowing to you in this to some sweetheart deal.

We've been discussing this up and down on my "What Moves Kindle Bks. off the Shelf" at KDP Community Threads a lot. There are many who see this as authors committing mass suicide, and maybe we are all lemmings going over the edge, but my gut tells me otherwise. Besides, there has got to be a way for a guy like me to make HAY with these numbers just on the face of it. Doing some of that already here and there. Still the numbers of ACTUAL book sales, as predicted by naysayers of the program, have indeed SHRUNK, so I expect any paycheck I get for the month of December will reflect that. As a result, I am taking in laundry and book editing again, pressing the pants and pleats for anyone you might know who needs a book or story autopsy or resuscitation. Send 'em my way. Still working the DAY JOB.

Rob Walker
www.robertwalkerbooks.com
WWW.RobertWalkerbooks.com

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This or Next? Which is it? by DL Larson

Have you ever been in a conversation that left you more confused than usual? Consider the following ...
"I'll see you next Saturday, then," said John.
"I thought we were meeting this Saturday the 31st," Rachel replied.
"That is the next Saturday on the calendar."
"Next Saturday would be January 7th."
"Don't be silly, we'd miss the new year party. I'll see you next Saturday."
"We're talking about this week? Right?"
"Of course."
"Good. I'll see you Saturday."
"That's right, next Saturday!"

You may think this is silly or irrelevant, but I can tell you my husband and I have had this on-going confusion for nearly forty years. I've tried to set him straight many times, but some things one just can't fix.

Webster doesn't help us much either. The definition of NEXT: coming just before or just after; nearest or closest/ the next person in line, the next room; next Monday.
adv. 1. in the nearest place, time, etc. She sits next to me in school. 2. at the first chance after this/ Please wait on me next. What should I do next?
And then Webster describes THIS:the person or thing mentioned or understood/This is Juan. This tastes good./ 2. being the person or thing that is present or nearer. This house is newer than that one.

Not much help from the dictionary. The Elements of Style doesn't discuss the problem, nor does my trusty handbook on Errors in English. But my old English professor talked about it in her list of things to remember. She called them her nuggets of gold.

When talking about time ~ the current week a person is in is called "This week," therefore next is not needed. One could say "I'll see you this Friday," or "I'll see you Friday." The understanding of the immediate upcoming Friday is understood. Next is not needed. Next is best left to standing in line, waiting ones turn, or when discussing the future past the present week one is in. Next week would mean the week beyond the one one is in presently. "I'll see you next week," means the week following the one a person is in. Not this week, but next week.

I feel so much better now that we cleared the confusion over this and next. This weekend we will celebrate the end of this year and welcome in the next one! Right?

Anyway, Happy New Year!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Going on a Tour

I'm going on a tour soon. The great thing about this tour is I'll be out of the country, yet in it at the same time. That's right, thanks to the Internet, such miracles are possible!

In case you haven't figured it out, I'll be taking a blog book tour, also known as a virtual tour. I'll be visiting various blogs, and doing posts about these hot topics and more:

Are You Comfortable With Your Age?
What's So Great About Being Young?
When Did I Get Old?
What Are the Advantages of Growing Old?

Okay, maybe such topics don't seem too important to you right now. If that's the case, they will someday. (g)

Be that as it may, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse is not only for those who wish they were young again, but also for those who still are. More to follow, but if you can't wait, follow this link at Amazon and you'll find out more about my thriller.

http://tinyurl.com/6tsntn6

Thanks,

Morgan Mandel - http://morganmandel.blogspot.com/
Forever Young: Blessing or Curse on Kindle & Smashwords
Killer Career 99 cents on Kindle & Smashwords
Two Wrongs 99 cents on Kindle & Smashwords
Girl of My Dreams 99 cents- Kindle & Smashwords

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Naughty or Nice? by DL Larson

If you grew up in America, then you know Santa is checking his list this week, twice, no less! No crying, no spying, in other words, you better watch out ~ Santa is coming to town!

That all sounds great and inspirational, except for us writers, nice is boring! We need a little naughty, we crave exciting spices to mix and spread around, and we need inspiration in the way of mischief to keep the pages turning.

So in addition to wishing everyone a BLESSED CHRISTMAS, I also wish for you enough spice and trouble to keep your characters moving in the direction they need to go!

Enjoy this time with family and friends ~ enjoy this special time given to us ~ it is the best gift of all. Take a moment to remember ... whether you are naugty or nice, Christmas is for everyone. Christmas is Love!

Merry Christmas!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas


The last few weeks have been hectic as I got my backlist books and then my new thriller, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, ready for Kindle and Smashwords, and also tried to get ready for Christmas. I did get them all up and am still working on the getting ready for Christmas. I have made some progress on clearing my house clutter, and soon will be wrapping presents, so it appears the Christmas goal may also be reached.

Next, I'll be lining up reviews and going on a Blog Book Tour for Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. Full details will be available when they are available. In other words, I don't have everything lined up yet.

Going to relax and watch TV now, unless I fall asleep first!

Have a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shameless Holiday Promotion

If you have someone in your life who loves a good romance or someone who loves to eat, have I got the last minute gift ideas for you!

My latest release A Christmas to Remember is available in e-format from The Wild Rose Press.


Newly single, Heather Morgan gathers her courage and decides to take a Christmas ski vacation on her own. However, the festive holiday atmosphere reminds her how dispirited and alone she feels. When she meets a mysterious stranger, her lonely vacation takes an unexpected turn.

Sam is at the resort at the urging of his brother, who thinks he needs to get out and have a little fun. Having no desire to get involved with anyone, Sam needs a way to get his brother off his back. The intriguing Heather seems like the perfect solution to his dilemma, so he makes her an offer she can't refuse.

Sam restores the joy of the season to Heather. Their time together is magical, something she'll never forget. Soon her feelings for him deepen beyond their romantic holiday fling. But Sam has a secret, one that could prevent the fantasy from ever becoming real.


Still available is my FREE read from TWRP Mistletoe and Folly.


A chance meeting. A friend of a friend. Mia Preston hasn’t been able to get Ethan Chase out of her mind. A cozy coffee house leads to a night of romance. But will their kiss under the mistletoe lead to heartbreak or the love of a lifetime?







And for those in your life who like to eat, the 2011 Garden Gourmet FREE cookbook is just the ticket!



Until next time,

Happy Reading (and Shopping!)

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Two Wrongs Now on Kindle and Smashwords -- 99 Cents

I'm happy to report my first published mystery, Two Wrongs, has now been re-released on Kindle and Smashwords at the very reasonable 99 cent price.

For those looking for Christmas references, the climactic scene takes place in the Christmas Season at Marshall Field's in Chicago, in the days when it was still called Marshall Field's and not Macy's. Mentioned are the Walnut Room, ice cream snowmen, and the ever popular Frango mints.

Many Chicago area landmarks are included, such as Chase Park, Senn High School, DePaul University, St. Vincent DePaul Church and Our Lady of Lourdes Church.


HERE'S A SHORT DESCRIPTION:
An innocent girl is slain. Her brother knows who did it—or does he?


LONGER DESCRIPTION:
Kevin loses his cool when Mary Alice turns him down for the senior prom. Her brother, Danny, hears them arguing. Later that night Mary Alice lies dead in the alley. Danny is furious and determined to make Kevin pay for his crime, but did he do it?

Prison can transform the most innocent human being into a killer, and Kevin is no exception.

EXCERPT FROM BEGINNING OF BOOK:

February 12, 1996 – Back when Marshall Field’s wasn’t Macy’s and texting wasn’t popular.


“WHAT’S GOING ON down there?”

Danny Callaway heard the question, but couldn’t answer. His brain froze in the cold February air as he stared at the broken rag doll that had once been his sister, Mary Alice.

In his sixteen years he’d never witnessed death first-hand. Until now.

Mary Alice’s still form lay sprawled against the alley’s cement. Her head stuck out at a crazy angle like the girl in the Exorcist movie.

Hoping against hope, he checked for a pulse at her neck. Nothing. He tried her wrist, but got the same result.

His mind was all jumbled. All he could think of were stupid things, like how he’d heard guys call Mary Alice a prude because she closed the top buttons on her blouse and never wore mini-skirts.

She’d sure be embarrassed not to have anything on at all. Someone had to cover her up and make her look presentable. Maybe Mom could help.

But how could he tell her? A sob tore through his throat. He clamped his mouth shut to keep the bile from rushing out.

Through the shock and pain, one thing remained clear. Kevin would pay for this.


For more, see Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/7whvzkj
or Smashwords http://smashwords.com/books/view/113202


Morgan Mandel
Killer Career - 99 cents on
Kindle & Smashwords, $13.95 print

Girl of My Dreams - 99 cents on
Kindle & Smashwords

Two Wrongs - 99 cents on
Kindle & Smashwords

Forever Young:Blessing or Curse
Soon on Kindle & Smashwords

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Reading and Writing - or not?

We know most everyone is hustling and bustling, getting ready for the holidays, but work, alas, continues. Or does it? Who is still writing during the holidays, or not?

I admit my creativity slows down towards the end of the year with the projects I was working on now completed. But the nonfiction, bread-and-butter work continues.

What about you? What do you like to read or write as the year's end approaches?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holidays by Margot Justes


It seems strange that with the struggling economy our Costco was packed by nine thirty this morning, but maybe not so strange, maybe we've realized what is important-family and friends- and that you don't have to spend a bloody fortune to make someone's day.

A bit of thoughtfulness goes a long way. Let's say you have a friend who loves Ghirardelli chocolate and glass, two stops will give you the perfect gift and you haven't spent a fortune.

Costco sells a big bag of assorted Ghirardelli chocolates, of course it's oversized, it is Costco after all.

Home Goods sells beautiful Italian glass, there is plenty of stuff made in China, but if you take a bit of time to look around the store you will find lovely Italian pieces.

A perfect delicious gift that will be appreciated immediately and remembered long after the holidays are over. Just a bit of thought goes a long way.

I have friends who love my poppy seed cake, this year they will get the cake and a rectangular glass tray that will fit the cake. I'm very partial to glass too.

Simplification is good, making life easier and less stressful is good, but it shouldn't mean sacrificing a bit of the holiday spirit, a bit of the kindness, a bit of that extra effort that we seem to extend to others.

Wouldn't it be nice if that holiday spirit continued throughout the year.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
www.mjustes.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another Idea for the Season! by DL Larson

Last week I was looking for a short skit for my Sunday School class about the Mary and Joseph story (prequel to the Baby Jesus' arrival.) I found several, but didn't see anything that talked to me. Nothing was quite right for my age of children. Then I did the big DUH! and wrote the skit myself!

Sometimes I feel like the Little Red Hen and simply end up doing the work, use it once and file it away. I've done this for years in various areas of my life. I realize now, I should share these tidbits I've put together. As I remake my website, I plan to add a place for skits and other writings for folks to use. It may take me awhile, as does everything, but sharing these skits may help others and offering them could become a valuable connection to readers.

There are times when I forget my gift of writing is a talent to share. I see the knitting group at our library, occasionally visit the knitting or sewing group at our church and know I will never be that good with my hands. I look at their progress, value their talent of making prayer shawls, and sigh at the gift of 125 blankets hand-made by our sewing ladies that will go to far off places around the world. I have no expertise in such undertakings. It's easy to feel inadequate when others gifts are so visable. A friend of mine makes jewelry, her husband tumbles and polishes the stones. They've made a business out of their hobby.

Yes, it's easy to get discouraged, but remember writers make something from nothing. Wordsmiths have no yarn, no bits of material or thread. Writers have a dictionary and thesaurus. And most importantly, ideas! My suggestion for this season is to collect ideas like bits of thread. Build a tapestry of ideas to make a holiday story. Then when the ornaments and decorations are back in their boxes and things have quieted down a bit, write, write, write. Create a story from nothing but ideas, memories and experience.

Writers are the opposite of magicians. Magicians make things disappear. Writers turn ideas into reality. The work is hard, but stories appear from thin air, and characters come to life!

That's a pretty special talent!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Please Welcome Romance Author, Mona Risk, Who Offers Her Views on a Trendy Topic

About Our Guest, Romance Author, Mona Risk -

Mona Risk never thought that hazardous waste analysis would lead her to writing novels! When her Ph.D. and work in chemistry landed her international contracts to refurbish laboratories, she traveled to more than sixty countries on business or vacation. To relax from her hectic schedule, she avidly read romance novels and mentally plotted her own books. Eventually she left a successful scientific career to share with her readers the many stories brewing in her head. M. Risk likes to set her stories in the fascinating places she visited from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles.

Mona speaks to us now on a trendy topic -
A new trend: Self-Publishing ebooks
by Mona Risk

Five years ago, the Romance Writers of America, RWA, refused to consider ebook- published authors on an equal foot with NY published authors. Two years ago, when Harlequin created its electronic-published book line, Carina Press, and then other NY publishers followed suit, RWA faced a monumental dilemma. They changed the wording of their regulations, declaring that they recognized ebooks providing they produced enough royalties to be taken seriously.

In the December 2011 issue of the Romance Writers Report, RWR, there is a whole survey dedicated to self-publishing ebooks. Now, RWA calls the new ebook revolution an exciting change in the industry.

Not only are ebooks invading the publishing market, but self-publishing is now very fashionable, with big names having a taste of it and publishing their backlist for prices as low as 99 cents.

I’ve uploaded two books on Smashwords and Amazon. Yes, it took time to thoroughly edit and format the manuscripts, and prepare book-covers that look attractive and professional, and finally upload text and pictures according to direction. But it’s all doable and I’m thrilled with the experience of self-publishing two romantic comedy novels, both offered at 99 cents.







The first one, NO MORE LIES, http://tinyurl.com/3lenmfd  sold many more copies in two months than in two years at my publisher.

Tag line: A lie that brings a smile... or a truth drawing a tear?










The second one, RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN, http://tinyurl.com/85o4wg7 was not published before and is doing well.

Tag line: What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancĂ©’s arms?



To find a fantastic list of ebooks at 99cents, please visit the
99cent eBOOKS blog

Mona Risk
http://www.monarisk.com/
http://www.monarisk.blogspot.com/

Please welcome Mona and offer your own thoughts on this trendy topic.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How do you share your hobby?

Have any special things you do for the holidays?

For fun and something different, thought I'd share a couple online miniatures Advent Calendars. As you know I write about my hobby, via my nonfiction book IN MINIATURE STYLE II. (eBook or print).

* Mini Treasures Advent Calendar

* Artisans in Miniature Advent Calendar

** If you're a writer, how do you share your interest or hobbies in your books or stories - or don't you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Reviews Are In!


I've always bemoaned the fact that reviews are difficult to come by. I totally understand the reason, with time in such short demand for many, many people (including reviewers), even the couple of hours it would take to sit down and read a novel might not be feasible.

Perhaps the secret then lies in writing a shorter book, which thus can be read in a shorter amount of time. A Christmas to Remember, my latest release and first novella, has already garnered four reviews since its release last month. This is more than I've gotten for any of my previous books. And I'm thrilled. Not only in the quantity of the reviews, but in the quality as well.

This morning I woke up to a Five Lip/Recommended Read review from "Two Lips Reviews". Talk about a great way to start the day! "A Christmas to Remember is a delightful story which expertly draws the reader into the joy and excitement of the Christmas season."

Manic Readers gave it four stars and said, "A very nice fireside read, at Christmas or any time."

Mystic Reviews said, "A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER is the perfect story to get you in the holiday spirit!"

And it grabbed three-and-a-half stars from Night Owl Reviews. "A Christmas to Remember by Debra St. John is a very nice romantic read. It is a short novel that is perfect to read in one evening while sitting on the couch covered up in a comforter, sipping hot tea."

Needless to say...my Christmas season is off to a great start! Merry, merry to one and all!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com
A Christmas to Remember from The Wild Rose Press

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Holiday Season by Margot Justes


During the holiday season there doesn't seem to be enough time to do everything, and every year the pressure mounts to do more, shop more, plan more activities until there isn't enough time to take a breath. By the time the holidays arrive, we're too exhausted to enjoy.

This year I decided to simplify my life and really enjoy the season. I'll still have my holiday party but only for family and really close friends. Most of it will be catered by Giacomo's, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Des Plaines. The food is delicious and tastes as if home made, and prices are very reasonable.

The decorations will still go up, but fewer little ornaments all over the place, lights will make up the difference. I'll still bake most of the standard family favorites, but will shop at Costco for a few of their seasonal delights. Love Costco!

Made reservations for tea at the Drake Hotel and a short hop to visit old friends at the Art Institute. My favorite holiday tradition and one I plan to keep.

I'm all set with presents for the munchkins, my daughter bless her heart, did all the shopping on-line and I just wrote a check. This way I know they will love what they get and it made it very easy for me. I'm all in favor of that ...

So far, it's been less hectic and I actually have written a few words here and there.
I even appreciate a bit of rain-like today, it's lovely, a perfect fall day

I wonder how others are handling the holiday season.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
www.mjustes.com

Friday, December 2, 2011

Garnering ebook eReviews fr0m Joe/Jane Q. Public


Originally posted on April 15, 2011, but this may be of help to some of you!

Using Twitter and Facebook effectively can gain reviews for your ebook. While such prestigious outlets as Publisher's Weekly and even the New York Times have announced (finally) that ebooks will be reviewed by them, the number of slots for such reviews are miniscule at best, and I suspect most such reviews will go to the authors who least need the extra toot to their horns. I mean does Dean R. Koontz need another place to be reviewed? Evanovich? Now, you and I and many another upstart Indie author or midlist author with an ebook -- we are the ones who need a review outlet.  There is Mysterical-e and a handful of others reviewing online but for ebooks and kindle books, the place where you will most likely be seen if you do garner a review is on Amazon.com.

But then how do you get people to review your book on Amazon?  I recently put up new books for sale from the Kindle shelf, and to entice eReaders to review my books, I announced on Facebook and Twitter that I would gift a copy of a book to anyone interested in then reviewing -- FREE copy of Children of Salem or Titanic 2012  and the eReader need only review it in some venue, preferably Amazon.com.

I recently received on April 14, 2011 -- the 99th year of Titanic's launch and demise -- another review of my T2012. The reviewer, a Chris Gibson, eReader, Joe Q. Public, remarked on how chills went through him when he realized he had placed up the review on April 14th--the exact night 99 years ago when Titanic sank.  Next year at this time it will be the 100th year of Titanic. One of the reasons I tackled the manuscript which posed huge challenges.

The reviews I have recieved from this process have been terrific and detailed for the most part. in which I said I would prefer an ugly, nasty, bad or tepid review to NO review but that I would take my chances as I believed strongly in the novel. They also inform me that I was on the right track with these two titles and offer some strong vindication as both books were repeatedly shunned by brick and mortar publishers, but in the case of querying myself as Independent Publisher for Instinct InK, I sorta knew I was not going to get a rejection slip or a pleasant 'no thank you'--HA!


It is rather nice to know your book is accepted by the publisher even before you have completed the thing. Independent authorship/publising with Amazon.com/Kindle. Nice to know you will be all-in on the cover art, the script/lettering, and no one to fight you on your title. All copy writing in my hands, so the description is precisely as I want it to be. Marketing director, PR person, responsible for it all, and oddly enough it frees me up from a myriad of problems faced when dealing with brick and mortar publishers, includinng no confusion on earnings and no delays on earnings. No more waiting six months or a year to learn of the progress or lack thereof of the book. Instead of royalty statements, I have unit sales reports. Instead of an agent and a publisher, I have a partner in crime who allows me to take 70% off the top to his 30%.

It is all so remarkable that even after placing up 46 booklength works on the Kindle shelf, I am still flabergasted that I am realizing a childhood dream--to be able to afford to publish myself so I don't have to cow-tow to anyone or wait on others I consider far, far too slow as I write too fast for brick and mortar stores but never too fast for the Kindle Store.

People looking for advice on practical methods for selling ebooks/kindle titles, find me on Kindle Community Forums. Hope to see you there.

Robert W. Walker
Killer Instinct, Cutting Edge, and Thrice Told Tales

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's That Time of Year ... by DL Larson

It's that time of year when so many are thinking about buying or making gifts for another, attending holiday parties, school and church pageants, and spending time with family and friends. Writing schedules become harder to keep and that's okay! Everyone needs a break now and then. So instead of feeling guilty or upset, take a deep breath, and enjoy this Christmas season.

We've been talking about Christmas books this week at Acme Authors, so why not use this time to explore and dream about what your Holiday book could be. Take a few notes, visit a place you haven't in awhile. Take in a new play or an old favorite. Think about characters, ordinary people with a life to live, problems to solve and how it all might make for an intriguing plot.

The other day some friends and I walked to Daley Plaza on Washington Street in Chicago. We visited the German American Holiday Market. It's been there every year for fifteen years, yet I had never been. What a delight, what wonderful smells, and I enjoyed talking with many of the friendly merchants, many with heavy accents and ready smiles. I imagined several holiday plots as I sauntered along. We met up with a friend who mentioned she was returning to one of the stores to purchase the ornament that looked like a diamond ring set in a heart-shaped box. Her son had just gotten engaged and it would make a wonderful gift for him and his fiancee. Romantic ideas surged through my head. What if ...

Each year our local library pulls holiday books out for display. Favorites are read and reread, new ones are always sought after as well. There will always be a market for a good Christmas story. Folks may be busy, but they also find time to read. I've had moms tell me they may be exhausted, but they will stay up late to read, even during the Christmas season; especially during the Christmas season. I think the stories recharge them somehow and it helps keep the holiday in perspective. Not many want to rush through the hoilidays without feeling and caring and wanting to give of ourselves. Good stories fill that need.

Perhaps next year at this time some of us will have written our own Christmas story or have one started. Now is the perfect time to jot down ideas as we pass through the days, taking in the scenes of Christmas, the anxiety, the excitement, the overwhelming feelings we have. Now is always the perfect time for research.

Enjoy this Advent Season!

Til next time ~

DL Larson