Sunday, December 30, 2012

Writing Goals for the New Year

As the new year approaches, I've had resolutions on my mind. Or maybe goals is a better word. I thought it would be fun to look back and see what I'd hoped to accomplish this past year. I was pretty sure I'd blogged about it. Here's what I found from my first post in 2012:

All in all, it told me to not bother to make any New Year's Resolutions. Too much can happen in every day life to make the best of plans go awry. Don't get me wrong, I still would like to accomplish certain things in 2012. I'm just not going to put anything definite in stone. Because things change. Often. And a lot. Which I guess is what makes life exciting and unpredictable. So I'm going to go with the flow and see where it takes me...

I kind of laughed. Writing life did take me in a bunch of directions this past year. I submitted a Thanksgiving novella to TRWP and had it published in November. I submitted a query to Harelequin and had a request for the full, which I also sent. I submitted my bull rider novel to TWRP and it's currently in its second set of revisions.

All in all, not too shabby.

But I decided I wanted to be a bit more decisive this year. So, here goes:

I want to submit that bull rider novel to the editor as soon as the Press opens again after the holidays. That's January 2. It's in pretty good shape. It just needs that final (ha ha) read through, which I plan on doing tomorrow.

I want to write a Halloween novella and get it submitted. This one might be trickier. The deadline for Halloween stories is January 28. Can I write a story in twenty-eight days? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I have a somewhat 'crazy' idea for a submission to TWRP. I'm going to polish the idea up and send it off to my regular editor. I'd like to get that done by the end of the week.

I'd like to be a better commentor on Blogs. I tried this over the summer, but my computer wasn't cooperating. Now that I've figured out that glitch, I figured the new year was a great place to start.

Those are my immediate goals. Other than that Halloween one, they seem pretty doable at this point. But I might even surprise myself with that!

In general, over the course of the year. I'd like to be able to devote more time to my writing without sacrificing other things...and without stressing myself out.

Until next time,

Happy Reading and Happy New Year! I wish you and yours many blessings and success in 2013.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 Goals by Margot Justes

I've often heard it said that time flies. Today I would have to agree. We have two days left in 2012, and I wonder where the year went. It disappeared. Most of us have a routine, we get up we go to work, we come home, we work at home, and so on and on. The hours roll into days, the days into weeks, then months, and once again we're saying Happy New Year to one and all.

I don't remember making serious resolutions at the end of each year. This year I'd like to change that. My copy of the South Beach diet book made it to the kitchen table, for me that is indeed progress. 
Step number one is to read the book and adapt my eating habits. The second thing on my agenda is to finish A Hotel in Venice, and start my new paranormal novel. I don't even have a working title yet, but characters and plot are already in my head, and itching to get out. Love being a writer.

I'm not a fast writer and while I'm still gainfully employed it will be a challenge, but it's on my list nevertheless. The third and most important is to spend as much time with my munchkins as possible, busy schedules sometimes make that difficult, but we're already setting time aside. The last and least important goal is to learn how to use a smart phone. I haven't even bothered to learn how to use my un-smart phone. I wonder if that will be the real challenge?
The goals I set for myself are not impossible, and quite doable...She wrote hopefully

Have you set any goals for yourself? If so, would you like to share them?
Happy New Year!

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas all! Original Christmas story by Robert Walker

To celebrate the season, I've linked on my blog to the annual Christmas Miniatures story, The Thief of Christmas Present, by Robert Walker!

It's in two parts, so be sure to follow the link at the end of the story.
The post is here with where to start.

Have a wonderful Christmas and fantastic New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Waiting is Almost Over

It's hard to believe that the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping, and anticipating is almost over. Another Christmas is upon us. Some people say that as they get older, the magic disappears. I don't agree.

I'm still just as excited Christmas morning to open my presents as I was when I was a kid. And now as a grown up, there are even more opportunities for opening. The hubby and I open our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve morning. We don't do one big gift for each, but a lot of little gifts. I've had his gifts wrapped and under the tree for a week or so, and he finished mine this past Friday, so every time I walk by the tree, a little thrill of anticipation runs through me. I don't know if I'm more excited to open mine or to see him open his!

Then we head to Mom and Dad's and spend Christmas Eve with them and my sister. It's a casual kind of day. We'll eat a lot, play some games, and maybe watch a movie. We sleep over there, and then open presents with the family in the morning. After breakfast, we head to the hubby's sister's house, where we'll spend time with his family. There are seventeen of us there, so it's much more chaotic than at my folk's.

Spending time with the families is just as much fun as opening presents.

But even as we'll close our eyes Christmas night, it's not really over. The decs will stay up for a least another week until the start of Epiphany, there will be new things to put away and ooh and ah over some more, and of course there's more shopping. I'm a sucker for those after Christmas sales. That's when I stock up on my wrapping paper, ribbon, gift bags, etc. at 50% off (or more!)

How ever you are celebrating with you and yours this year, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! God bless you as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


A Christmas to Remember
Mistletoe and Folly

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Wish List of Another Kind! by DL Larson

We just finished our annual Caroling Party/Charity Drive this last Sunday.  My Granddaughters, Alex and Kylie, eleven, have just completed their 5th Charity Drive.  Each year we've asked our guests to help by donating to the cause my girls select.  This year they chose Safe Passage, a safe house for moms and kids in a town nearby. 
The first picture is my Christmas Tree.
The second picture is all the goodies my girls received from donations! The back end of the truck is FULL.
The third picture is at Safe Passage, the two gals on the left are workers at the house and the other two smiley ones are Kylie in the center and Alex on the right.
We've all learned a great deal about giving since these charity drives have started.  We've always been generous with donations and supporting organizations that help others, but doing one first-hand and then delivering the goods is a special feeling knowing we've made a difference in someone's life.
Maybe someday I'll write about a charity in one of my books. 
Or maybe I'll simply use the sense of compassion it evokes and make my characters aware of the needs surrounding them, if only they bothered to look.

Til next time ~

Have a wonderful and Blessed Merry Christmas!!

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Are You Ready?

It dawned on me that next Tuesday is actually Christmas, and I'm not ready. Fortunately, the remaining gifts are gift cards, but I still need to get them. Then there's that matter of a snowstorm happening tomorrow, which will get in the way of accomplishing much outside my home.

Today, I just finished calculating my plan of attack on the monthly and yearly bills, which isn't easy for me, since I'm a word and not a numbers person. Amazing how many bills decide to happen in December!

Anyway, I'm almost ready to relax and celebrate Christmas when it happens next Tuesday.

What about you?

Whether or not we are, it will still happen, so Merry Christmas!

Morgan Mandel

Morgan Mandel writes romances, thrillers & mysteries.
Find her romantic comedy, Her Handyman, at

Website showcasing all 5 of Morgan's books: 

Monday, December 17, 2012

I've been Nominated for a Dog Writers' Assn. Award!

I just learned that a story I wrote on Wisconsin dog rescuers and fostering ("Foster Families for Pets," by Christine A. Verstraete, Jan/Feb. 2012 PRIME Magazine) has been nominated for a Maxwell Medallion in the Feature in Mainstream Magazines category of the 2012 Dog Writer's Association of America awards competition.
Winners will be announced at the association's banquet on Feb. 10, 2013 in New York City.
* See images and story links at my website nonfiction page.    

** See awards announcement at

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Almost There

With just over a week away, I'm almost ready for Christmas. The house is decorated, the cookies are baked, about half a the presents are wrapped, and most of the shopping is done. I just have a few more things to pick up.

Last night we went to an annual Christmas party at our friends' house. The week ahead is the last one before Christmas break. It's definitely the home stretch.

I'm also in the home stretch of the revisions for "This Feels Like Home". It's almost there. The trouble lately has been finding time to work on it. All of those holiday things are taking priority. Yesterday I snuck in about ten to fifteen minutes while dinner cooked. I got a page or so done, so that was pretty good.

I feel like I'm heading in the right direction, so that helps as well. At this point, I pretty much know what I need/want to do, it's just a matter of doing it. A nice change from previous moments of staring at the computer willing an idea to come.

My goal is to have the revisions done by the end of the year and to the editor by the time TRWP comes off of its holiday shut down at the beginning of January. Right now I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll make that goal.

After that, I'm pretty sure some of my New Year's Resolutions will center around writing: especially a kind of wacky idea I've been mulling over. But that's a topic for another time!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


For your holiday reading pleasure:

A Christmas to Remember - from The Wild Rose Press - On sale for 50% off!
Mistletoe and Folly - a FREE read

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Interview with author, Helen Ginger, by DL Larson

An Interview with author, Helen Ginger:

A mermaid?  In a bar?  That's a concept few of us have ever considered as a premise for a story, but Helen Ginger's first novel, Angel Sometimes unfolds in these unique surroundings. Her main character, Angel, struggles with her past as an abondoned child.  Now that she's grown up, she decides to face her family and ask the big question why?  Or maybe she'll use the gun in her purse.

 Helen hails from Texas, has three nonfiction books published that she admits were more for works-for-hire and she is now eager to venture into the fiction world. 

My first question to Helen: What inspired you to write about a homeless girl?

"I didn't set out to write about a homeless girl. In fact, I wasn’t even sure where Angel's story would go. I started writing her as a twelve-year-old. She lived in a neighborhood of primarily older residents, so she mostly entertained herself swimming in the creek in the woods next to her house and finding things people had tossed in the dump in those woods or helping her mother plant vegetables and flowers in the garden. The more I wrote her story the clearer it became to me that something horrific would happen to her and her life would forever change. After writing what was long enough to be a book, I realized her story needed to be told through her adult eyes, so I began writing her as a twenty-two year old."

How did you become interested in writing about a bar mermaid of all things?

"When Angel is abandoned on the streets, she is still twelve and scared. Four years later she hitchhikes to Austin, TX -- her first step toward going home to confront her mother. She lives on the streets for two years in Austin before she manages to get the job as a mermaid in The Aquarium, a bar/restaurant. I gave her this job because on my blog I sometimes tell Mermaid Tales -- stories from my three years swimming at a mermaid at a resort in Texas. I got to the point where I quit writing those since I thought, man, people have got to be tired of reading these. But followers kept asking when the next Tale would be, so I decided to tell all (and make up some new tales) by having Angel work as a mermaid. Plus, it was a good fit for her since getting a job as a mermaid at a bar wouldn't require a college degree, and Angel never got past the sixth grade."

So you were a mermaid!  What a unique job!  Tell us how you developed your character Angel from a homeless girl to a strong-willed young woman.

"In my mind, any young girl who could survive on the streets for six years would be strong. Through it all, she endures. In the book, there are a few flashback scenes showing snippets of what happened to her on the streets. In the beginning as a young child, she feels she probably deserved to be left on the streets. But she comes to see that she did not and that fuels her determination to confront her parents, get her high school diploma, and go to college."

Do you have a writing schedule?

"Nothing rigid. I turn on my computer every morning, check email, and then write. Some days the words flow. Others, they don't. One fortuitous thing that helped when I first began writing Angel as a child was that the Brown Foundation awarded me a 4-week Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center. I spend those weeks writing. No cleaning to do, no washing clothes, no cooking. Just writing."

That sounds wonderful!  Tell us about your next writing project.

"My next book, Dismembering the Past, should be out early 2013. Private Investigator Hallie McAllister is working the case of a missing 67-year-old woman when she becomes entangled in the FBI's hunt for a serial killer."

We look forward to seeing Dismembering the Past in print.  Where are you currently promoting Angel Sometimes?

"I'm not the world's greatest promoter by any means. My three non-fiction books were works-for-hire, so I didn't do any promotion. I'm having to learn as I go with Angel Sometimes. I recently put up a Facebook author page and I have a regular FB page, as well as a blog, Straight From Hel. I also send out a newsletter to writers around the world. Doing It Write is about to start its 14th year. I don't mention my own books on that very often, unless it's something about promotion or writing that I think would be helpful to others. I’m hoping to get more speaking engagements. I spoke at a Literary Salon in Austin and will be doing a reading/signing at BookWoman, also in Austin. In April I will be the speaker at the Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas meeting."

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

"The most obvious advice is to keep writing. My other piece of advice is never throw anything away. If you've written stories or even entire books, and you think, oh, this is not any good, don't delete it and don't throw away the hard copy. I can't tell you how many computer crashes I've had over the years. Several manuscripts would have been forever lost if I hadn't had a print copy."

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

"I love meeting and defining the characters. They become almost real in my head. I do a lot of my plotting in the morning while I'm walking. Right now, I walk four miles. That's the perfect time to think about the plot and what the characters will do to move the story forward or get out of difficult situations, or for the book I'm plotting now, Deadpoint, what the opening scene will be."

Tell us something we don't know about you.

"I’m 5'8" and the shortest in my family. My daughter is 6'1". My husband is 6'6". My son is 6'10"."

I love tall people!  My family is tall as well. Any last comments you'd like to share:

"In this day and time, writers have to be strong. It's very difficult to find an agent, so writers tend to plunge ahead on their own, but that, too, is difficult. So it often falls on the writer to make things happen, to get an agent or to research how to on your own publish your book or e-book. When Angel hitchhiked to Austin, her goal was to get a job so that eventually she could afford a place to live and a car. She tried many places, but was always turned down. One day she saw a Help-Wanted sign in a bar/restaurant. She sat down and waited for the owner to open up and she asked for the job. He said no, you're too young. She came back every day and asked him for a job and every day he said no. One day she asked, and when he said no, she told him it was her 18th birthday. She got the job and it saved her life. If it's something you really want, don't accept a no."

Thank you, Helen for being with us today.  Congratulations on your book and for those wishing to purchase a copy of Angel Sometimes, follow the links below.


Helen Ginger

Doing It Write

Angel Sometimes

Straight From Hel (blog)


Til next time ~

DL Larson

Monday, December 10, 2012

Don't mess with the Classics....?

A post in today's Dear Reader column excerpting a new version of the classic Little Women story (Little Women and Me from Bloomsbury) had me thinking - is it a good idea to mess with the classics?

While the concept is nothing new, this book offers a time travel and interruption of the characters' romances, and does sound intriguing, but it made me think about the idea of recreating the classic.

The new stories may be well-written and have an interesting premise, but we love the classics for the story that is there. I loved Little Women and still cry whenever I reread it. Scarlett should've left Rhett alone.

Then there are the "mash-ups" - classics on horror steroids -  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.... Vampires and .... The Mummy and....

There are a ton of them. Good idea, bad?  I will be reading the Pride-Zombie book next though I have not read any others.

While some are good and come up with interesting, unique ideas, doesn't it still feel like - gasp - sacrilege - messing with the classics? We form a certain relationship with those books we grew up with or read at special times in our lives.  Sometimes we may want the book to have ended differently, so voila! A new version - so now we can?

But, it isn't what the author intended, is it? What about intentionally changing things that may be considered "offensive" today?  There was that move to "update" Twain's Tom Sawyer to remove the N words... but is sanitizing history, changing it to suit our modern sensibilities really the answer? Should publishers change classic books to suit today's readers?

Food for thought.... so what do you think?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Cookies

For me, Christmas is all about traditions. One of our favorite ones is baking cookies. Yesterday was baking day. Earlier in the week I got out the recipes, checked what ingredients I had on hand, and Friday we went shopping for the things still needed. Saturday morning, we got right to work. It was quite the festive day as we listened to Christmas music and made five different varieties of cookies: peanut butter blossoms, chocolate mint Kiss cookies, homemade poptarts, chocolate peppermint crunch, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I did sample a couple as they came out of the oven, but for the most part, we managed to wait and indulge for dessert after dinner.

Here's a peek at what we did.


Mixing station.


Cooling station.


Since it's just the two of us, we won't eat all of these ourselves, but we'll share some with family, friends, and coworkers.

So how about you? What cookies are your Christmas favorites?

Until next time,


For your holiday reading pleasure:
A Christmas to Remember from The Wild Rose Press (also on Kindle and Nook)
Mistletoe and Folly - A FREE read

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Procrastination by Margot Justes

I procrastinated and waited until this evening to write the blog, instead I edited about seventy pages in my current WIP, A Hotel in Bath. The editor had a go at it, and now it's my turn to make the suggested changes. At the moment I couldn't think my way out of a paper bag, I'm so tired.
I kept thinking, I have tomorrow to finish, what is the rush? Of course I forgot that tomorrow I'm going downtown with the kiddies. We're having lunch in the Signature Room at the 95th in the John Hancock building.  One of my favorite Chicago buildings.

The munchkins have never been there and it will interesting to see their reaction. In any case, tomorrow is pretty much a family day, because we're also planning on visiting the Christkindlmarket at the Daley Plaza. The place is usually mobbed and for the most part, I can't wait to get out. However, the kiddies love it, and they'll get cute mugs filled with hot apple cider.
In the meantime, I have to seriously make a dent in the last book in the hotel series, A Hotel in Venice, finish the novella, and start my second paranormal, plus I'm slowly making progress on my non-fiction Memories of a Country Long Ago.

I always find it amazing, that I can spend a whole day in my writing cave and wonder where the day went. It's an amazing feeling to love doing something so much that time seems to disappear.
There are so few days like that, but I never take them for granted. In fact, the older I get the fewer things I take for granted. That is a good thing.

I'm really looking forward to the release, the cover is stunning, the setting amazing and the romance delicious.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Writing Detours! by DL Larson

I bemoan that I never have enough time to write, yet when I stop and review what I have done in the last few months, I realize I have been writing.  I'm just not writing I what intended to.  I was asked to write a skit for our Harvest Celebration and I did.  It turned out to be a great piece to perform to folks who don't realize how the weather affects our livelihoods as farmers.  It had purpose, a bit of humor and educated folks in a nonintrusive way.  I was glad to have shared my talent to help others.

This time, I rewrote a Christmas skit for the kids at our church.  Any writer will tell you it's easier to write an original than remake one already done.  But I was given this skit made for older kids and asked to make it fit for the younger crowd.  The task was to move the youngsters into the sanctuary before they grew too restless waiting for their parts to appear.... aka ... rowdiness having its way off stage in the narthex.

When one asks a third grader to recite, "And in those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken... so Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David..."  one is asking for a butchering of words that really should not be mutilated.  I checked three different versions of Luke's story of the nativity and all had tongue twisters.  Still I simplified as much as I thought I could get away with and hope the powers that be understand. 

I ended up penciling in the phonics of pronouncing some of the tough words.   The girls (angels) grinned wide.  One said, "Oh that's better.  I keep forgetting how to say Caesar.  And now Augustus doesn't remind me of August."

We have one more practice before our Christmas program.  We know most of the songs and have yet to get comfortable with our reading parts.  But enthusiasm is high and I figure that will see this Christmas program to its finale.  And I am glad to be a part of it.

Maybe I'll get to my WIP after Christmas!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Please Welcome J.W. Nicklaus, Who Shares Christmas Past and His New Book

About the Author:

J. W. Nicklaus
J.W. Nicklaus attests to living somewhere between the city closest to the Sun and upon the precipice of Hell—but the winters are mild in Arizona. An avid reader and peerless amateur philosopher, he is “DNA and energy. I am cellular and soulful. I am shadow and light. I am carbon and water . . . and I am stardust. As are we all.” His singular ambition is simple: to leave the world a slightly better place than when he came into it.
J.W. latest book is the fiction drama novella, The Apocalypse of Hagren Roose.
You can find out more about J.W. at

The Many Essences of Christmas Past by J.W. Nicklaus

A small boy sits in a living room, awash in the low-tech fidelity of late 1960′s television. The CBS Special Presentation intro plays as his five-year-old eyes soak up what will become in his world, and many others, one of many Christmas season classics. Warm pajamas and blinking lights upon the tree don’t prevent the night from ending, but rather allow all the senses to coalesce into the makings of a wistful childhood memory.
There is no one particular Christmas memory I cling to. Frankly, I’m not a huge holiday person—I don’t even decorate, for any of the holidays. Not one. But I do retain the many essences of seasons past. See, I don’t live in a place where a child can recollect Currier and Ives type holidays. Snow doesn’t fall Three Feet From Hell. No need for horse-drawn sleds or warm woolen mittens, scarves, or snow boots. The weather can turn cold, yes, but not like northern and eastern winters do.
The Light, The Dark & Ember Between (if you like this story, click on cover to purchase for gift giving!)
My brother and I grew up being told the same legend of how Santa gets into the house and puts presents under the tree; as we all know, he comes down the chimney. Well, we didn’t have one, but we did have a faux, cardboard hearth. It was set up each year, close to the silver tree (yes, I said silver). I’m not sure what it was made of, but I remember it was shiny, and I recall at some point being able to help assemble it. We always got to help decorate it, although I’d bet that like most children we’d place a few ornaments on the tree then lose interest.
There was a cotton-poly thing we’d place under the tree to represent snow. When you live in a desert the holidays become more about symbols than actualities where matters of nature are concerned. And sitting underneath the tree was a small lamp with a multi-colored screen which slowly rotated in front of the light, casting shades of red, green, yellow, and diffused light upon the tree.
These trappings, albeit egregiously man-made, were the essence of what Christmas portended. With all the decorations, lights blinking (those big-fat ones—remember those?), tinsel gently moving and shimmering with the air current,  and the television event for the evening—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman,  or maybe Santa Clause is Coming to Town—about to stun us with it’s state-of-the-art stop motion animation . . . how could a child not remember such things?
I submit to you that the simple reason why we retain not just these memories but their nuances is  . . . magic. Especially as children, we’re fascinated by the illusion and sleight-of-hand which life and holidays bring us. There is no shortage of magic in the innocence of youth. We take these moments and build upon them, hopeful that someday far in the future we can instill higher definition memories and warm thoughts which our children will call to mind every so often.
As children we latch onto the mystery of it all; as adults, we need the magic.

About J. W.'s Book:

Once a small town success and happy family man, Hagren Roose finds his slide backwards at once abrupt and wrenching. His small-town mentality sets him on a journey of his own making, of which he has no control--and only he can atone for.

See Below to follow the Tour About This Fascinating Book. 

The Apocalypse of Hagren Roose Tour Page:

Please Welcome J. W. Nicklaus by Leaving a Comment.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Being a "real" writer...

Saw this cartoon and thought, how true! Mention you're a  writer and most people have so many ideas other than the reality of simply sitting and putting words on the computer screen.

 In reality:

 * Many think unless you're Stephen King or wrote Harry Potter, you're an unknown. Not  a "real" writer?

 * You don't get paid like the above so you're not a "real" writer...

 * You don't get a weekly paycheck, see above....

 * You are published online, again, it's not a "real" book, although with the continuing growth of e-readers and the iPad hopefully this concept is beginning to fade....

 * Care to add any other fallacies about being a writer?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

An 'Unexpected' Review

As I was updating my web-site yesterday with some permalinks for blog stops I'd done for my An Unexpected Blessing tour, I came across a review at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews for the title. It hadn't showed up in my Google alers, so I didn't know it was out there. I was delighted!

Here are a few of the highlights:

Debra St. John built a really beautiful love story in the contemporary novella entitled An Unexpected Blessing.

As far as characters go, I'd have to say that Joe was by far my favorite of the two. He was so loving and sweet and generous, that I couldn't get enough of him!

With two very well developed characters and a plot line that was easy to follow as well as fall in love with, I found An Unexpected Blessing to be a beautifully written romance, that will surely touch the hearts of many readers out there.

Kudos to this author for bypassing the typical holiday theme of Christmas and focusing more on the Thanksgiving holiday as well. I was ready for something new and refreshing for the season, and An Unexpected Blessing was exactly that.

Overall, the reading gave it four stars, which at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews means: Great! Move it up to the TBR pile.

To read the full review, click here.

An Unexpected Blessing is available from:

The Wild Rose Press
Barnes and Noble

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Traditions by Margot Justes

The munchkins (aka granddaughter and grandson) are spending the weekend. It's our time to decorate trees and gingerbread houses, bake cookies and make floral arrangements. All of which they'll take home with them. Afterward I'll clean up, take a deep breath and say 'that was so much fun. I'm soooo tired.'  It's the best feeling ever.

I'm eliminating all the little decorations and sticking to stuff that is easily stored. My way of downsizing, but still keeping the holiday spirit.   
Growing up I didn't have many traditions, or special set-aside days. With my own girls, I established long standing rituals. Fortunately to this day, my very adult  daughters are keeping them up. It's nice to see.

I think traditions are important; they form long lasting memories, and time is set aside to appreciate family and friends, at least during the holiday season. Hopefully more often than that, but at least during the holidays that special time is there.
In this day where everyone is working long hours, keeping a family together, running from one place to another, it's important to take time out and just relax and appreciate those around us.

I'm grateful for my family and friends.  Now, I have to prepare for the whirlwind that is scheduled to arrive in fifteen minutes, namely Sydney and Anthony.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Angel Sometimes, a Review by DL Larson

Helen Ginger, author of Angel Sometimes, has been writing since she was a child.  This is her first published work in fiction.  Helen holds a Bachelor's in English and a Master's in Speech Communications.  She admits two things she loves to do is write and talk! 

My review of Angel Sometimes:

Angel Sometimes is not a quick read, but it is a thought-provoking one. Angel was abandoned at twelve years old. Her struggle to survive is never fully described, we simply learn she lived on her own, making friends that shaped her future. She has come to a fork in the road; she can earn her GED and get on with her life and goals to become better educated, or she can buy a gun and make the long trip back to her childhood, back to her parents.

Angel Sometimes is heartbreaking at times, but as the story unfolds hope filtrates through the pages that Angel may chose wisdom rather than wrath. Bravery jumps from the pages as Angel travels back to her childhood, the bad things that happened, the death of her little sister, the sadness of her mama and the flowers they planted in the small garden in the backyard. It’s all there, just as she remembered, but her folks are gone.

How Angel handles this second abandonment will stretch your heartstrings and make you cheer for this young woman who faced too much alone. Angel Sometimes is an intriguing read with a satisfying ending that will have you thinking of Angel long after the last page is read. Helen Ginger has proven she is adept at weaving real life issues into page turners.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. 

My copy of Helen Ginger's book will be going to the Earlville Public Library, snuggled in the Young Adult section.  It could find a home in the Adult Stacks as well, but I know teens will eat this story up.  I also hope teens who read Angel Sometimes will reflect on their own past, perhaps re-evaluate some uncomfortable memory and see with clearer eyes the events of their younger years.  Perhaps some misconceived notions of how things "really were" will allow them not to be so judgmental.  We all have baggage from tender years and this book forces us to wonder if we missed an important detail in understanding why something happened the way it did.  Helen Ginger has opened the door of doubt and we readers have the choice of peeking through our own past and sifting through old memories to decide if we too are missing an important piece of information that forced a turn of events in our lives. Not many books have us wondering about the accuracy of our own memories.

For those wondering, Angel Sometimes is available in paperback and e-book form.  Search Amazon to purchase your copy today. 

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: something to smile about in this hectic season ~
No matter how big and bad you are, when a 2 year old hands you a toy phone ~ you answer it!

Now go write something worthwhile!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Another Transition

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was putting out my turkeys and Pilgrims in anticipation of Thanksgiving. No, wait, it seems like just yesterday that I was putting out my pumpkins, witches, and ghosts in anticipation of Halloween.

And here we are getting ready to celebrate Christmas one month from today.

Seriously...where does the time go? This time of year seems to slide into a time warp and the days fly by in a quick blur. Almost like those lines we use in our stories to transition us from one scene to another: A week later, the days sped by, over the next few weeks etc.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving here on Thursday. It was our first year hosting, and everything was simply perfect. A small group of family and friends gathered and we indulged in turkey, stuffing, corn, beans, two kinds of potatoes, rolls, and cranberries. Then of course there was dessert: homemade apple and pumpkin pies. After dinner we watched a bit of football, and then everyone headed out, stuffed and content.

Less than twenty-four hours later, the turkeys (both food and paper decorations) were packed away and the Christmas decs were in place. Two trees, outdoor lights, and a plethora of other decs went up. We took a break and had turkey club sandwiches for lunch, but went quickly back to work. All the while, Chrismas music played in the background. That night we watched our first Christmas movie: Christmas with the Kranks.

I even have some of my shopping done! Most of the nieces, nephews, and Godchildren are finished, and I have a few other presents already stashed away. There's still quite a bit to be done, but it's nice to have a head start. (And I am not one to brave those Black Friday sales...)

So, we've transitioned into another holiday here in this season of holidays.

Are you ready?!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Holiday Stories from Debra St. John and The Wild Rose Press
An Unexpected Blessing - a Thanksgiving novella
A Christmas to Remember - a Christmas novella
Mistletoe and Folly - a FREE read

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Is Your Dream? by DL Larson

Happy Thanksgiving America!

The turkey is cooking in the roaster, filling the house with tantalizing, take a deep breath, aroma.  We're having dinner at our church today ... we're providing the turkey.  Tomorrow the family will fill our house with their lively banter and the table will overflow with yummy things to eat.  It will be a great weekend of family and friend fellowship. 

I encourage you to take a moment to appreciate all the many blessings you have, and then take another step beyond to think about your future.  What is your dream?  What do you want most?  I've always wanted to be a published author.  And I am, but I also need to expand that dream.   Perhaps you need to expand yours too.

In such trying times it's easy to focus on the immediate problems of the day, and our dreams, although precious, tend to slip to the back of our minds.  They become neglected and turn into a "someday" goal or even a wish-like symmetry.  If you're serious about fulfilling your dream ... don't allow that to happen.  Stay focused.  Keep your dream alive.  Think about what you want to accomplish - every day.  Make the necessary changes to find time to do something to reach your goal.  I've spent much of my adult life working on being an author, have had encouragement from my family and friends, but my goal still ends up slipping off my "To Do" list.  When my kids were younger I wrote every day, faithfully.  Now that I'm a grandma I thought I would have more time and yet the opposite is true.  There are more people in my life that I want to spend time with and I struggle with keeping up on my writing.  I never had that problem before.  I hate to say age is a factor, but it probably is. 

It takes strategy to accomplish any goal.  Keep that in mind as you work toward fulfilling your writing goals. What will it take to complete part one of your goal, then part two and so on.  Devise a plan.  Anything worthwhile doing is never easy and takes great amounts of effort to achieve.  Someone famous said that - sorry I can't remember who! 

I am in the process of revising my priorities in order to keep my dream in focus.  It won't be easy, I know I'm a stubborn subject who does not enjoy change.  But if I want to reach my goal I have to change my attitude of "someday" to "today!" 

How about you?  What do you need to do to keep your dream alive? 

I'm thinking of using the "carrot on the stick" theory!  I love rewarding myself.  Silly but effective.
Good luck reaching your goals.

Blessings America ~

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Zombies and mysteries, oh my!

The blog event, The Next Big Thing, is the gift that keeps on giving!

Recently, Peg Herring talked about her new mystery and links to me where I talk about my upcoming YA book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie

I also link to a couple other authors, including Stephen D. Sullivan, who’s writing sci-fi and horror, and Gail Ferrelly, who talks about her Thanksgiving-themed short story... See details and links on my website blog -

* If you've got a Next Big Thing post - share the link! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

You've Got the LOOK!

Thanks to fellow author, Jennifer Wilck, for tagging me with the ziggy zig zag tag—“You’ve got the LOOK!”

As part of this tag, I have to take my most recent work in progress or my current manuscript and search for the word “look,” then post the surrounding paragraphs/text.

Since I've been blogging a lot lately about my new release An Unexpected Blessing, I decided to do the search on my WIP, "The Feels Like Home". This mss is in a second round of edits for an editor at Wild Rose. It would be the completion of the series begun with This Time for Always. This Can't Be Love was the second installment.

I found the word look in the second sentence! So here are the first two paragraphs:

Jake Hawkins spotted the newcomer right away. Her fancy clothes made her look as out of place as boots on a chicken. No one from town would wear a fancy sweater and dress slacks to The Corral. Not to mention heels so thin they looked like they’d snap if she tried to walk on them.

But his gaze didn’t linger too long on her attire. Instead, he studied her as best he could from across the bar. She leaned toward her friend, elbow on the table, chin resting in her hand. Her legs were crossed. One foot waved in the air. She wore her dark hair up in some kind of twist. As she gestured, her features settled into a frown. He wished he could tell what color her eyes were.

And now, the fun part–why should I be embarrassed on my own–I get to tag five more authors. So, Morgan Mandel, Calisa Rhose, Isabella Macotte, Margot Justes, and Sherry James, tag, you’re it! You can post in your blogs, website or on your Facebook pages. And the rest of you, these ladies are great writers, so check them out!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Gracious Holiday by Margot Justes

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, it is a day to give thanks for our many blessings. It is a gathering of family and friends and most of us adhere to old established traditions. Breakfast with family, setting the table, stuffing the turkey, enjoying the wafting smell coming from the kitchen as the turkey is basted; all those memories to appreciate and treasure.
It is a gracious holiday, with none of the chaos of the holiday shopping frenzy, where people will do anything to get that  super deal; people have actually been killed for a sale item during the so called 'black Friday.  There is not a single material possession that is worth someone's life, at least to me.

The traditional 'black Friday' now starts Thanksgiving Thursday, and earlier every year. I know the retailers want to make the most of the holiday season, they must make a profit during a very short period of time. I understand the economic process of retail survival. But is that profit margin enough to disrupt the actual day of Thanksgiving for their employees? Have we lost track of what this holiday is all about?
I will not be going shopping on Thursday or Friday. I will spend that time with my family and friends giving thanks for what I have; a terrific family and life-long friends.

How do you plan on spending your holiday?
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Line Up and Sneak Peek at Blessing or Curse by Morgan Mandel

Blessing or Curse
by Morgan Mandel

Since I'm in the last legs of finishing up Blessing or Curse before sending it off to my editor, Helen Ginger, I thought I'd share something about it, and a small excerpt, which may change in the editing process, maybe not.

What Blessing or Curse is:

Blessing or Curse is the sequel to the science fiction thriller,  Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. This book can be read as a standalone or part of the projected three-book series.

In the first book, the emphasis is on a 55-year old widow, who takes the young pill turning her back to 24. All should have been wonderful, but then she makes a discovery which has her fleeing both from the villains and the law.

Blessing or Curse, the new book, is chiefly a romance, with a smattering of science fiction, since no one yet has invented a Forever Young pill. It's broken into five separate stories depicting how the pill impacts the lives of five test market subjects, and whether or not their choice was the right one. These participants come from differing ethnicities, ages and classes, yet all have a reason to be young. The loved ones of these characters are also at some point in the stories impacted by the test subject's age reversion.

Here's the lineup of stories:

Desperation forces Consuela to order the Forever Young pill to cure her husband, Diego, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease; but will the cure become a curse?

Ezekiel, an African-American male with  E.D. difficulties, sends in for the young pill to prevent his lady love, Luana, from discovering he can’t get it up. Will the pill draw her closer or drive her away?

Strawberry blonde model, Sherri’s popularity is fading with her looks. The pill can bring her fame and fortune, but what about love?

Overweight Chicago Police Officer Walinski must pass a new physical or lose his job, along with his canine partner. Will the young pill provide security, when danger lurks in the line of duty? 

Downtrodden going-on-sixty housewife, Dee Dee Marshall, suspects her husband of infidelity, and will do anything to keep him, even take an experimental pill. What she really needs is self-confidence.

A Sneak Peak at the Consuela and Diego's Story: 

First Trial Run -  Albuquerque, New Mexico

Consuela & Diego Morales

Ah, the wonderful love they’d shared. Why must it end this way?
“Diego, eat,” Consuela Morales said, holding out a spoonful of puree to her shrunken, wheelchair-bound husband. His dry parched lips remained obstinately shut, his gray eyebrows furrowed. He wanted to die and she didn’t blame him. God help her, sometimes she wanted him dead too. Till death do us part seemed a long time to live with half a man.
Placing the spoon into the jar with a klunk, Consuela gazed morosely at her husband. Mamacita, God rest her soul, had warned her not to marry a man twenty years older, but the ripe, chestnut-haired Consuela had paid no heed, choosing passion over common sense. Diego of the raised eyebrows, straight black hair and cocky mannerisms had fevered her blood, making her come alive as no other man could.
She remembered the exact moment he’d strode into the basement of her friend, Isabella’s brownstone. As their eyes met, her heart raced beneath the confines of her ample breasts, almost drowning out the background sounds of New Year’s Eve TV reveling.
Quickly averting her eyes, she whispered to her friend, Isabel, “Who is that studly guy?”
Isabel glanced at the new addition and frowned in concentration. “Oh, that must Diego, Alessandro’s cousin. He broke up with his girl and asked if he could come with tonight. He’s hot, if you go for father figures.”
 “My father never looked that good his entire life. That man steams. I need to cool off some.” 

Hope you enjoyed the Sneak Peak. If all goes well, this book will be available on Kindle in December, fingers crossed!

Morgan Mandel
The thriller, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, the first in the trilogy, is available at Amazon at 

If you prefer humorous romance, check out Her Handyman at

Morgan's Amazon Author Page: 

Excerpts, Buy Links, All Venues of Morgan's Books:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making Progress...

It was a week of making progress writing-wise. I have a blog tour coming up (starting this week actually) for An Unexpected Blessing.

If you want to check it out, this week I'm at:

Tuesday - Tuesday's Table
Thursday - Romancing the Book
Friday - Sizzling Hot Book Reviews

I have a few more stops later on in the month. By the end of the day today I hope to send out two more posts I've already written and write two more. Then I'll be finished with the initial set up and will just need to check in on those places on the respective dates.

I also made some headway on the revisions for "This Feels Like Home". I really hope to get those done before the end of the year and get them sent off. That said, it's one of those busy weeks coming up where I'm not home at all at night, so that particular project might come to a grinding halt in the next seven days. But there's always the week after that.

All in all, I have to say it's been a productive week. I hope the momentum can keep going!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


An Unexpected Blessing - Coming November 21 from TWRP

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Forgotten Civil War by Margot Justes

The non-fiction look at South Africa in the early 80's is painstakingly slow, but I'm working on it. The working title Memories of a Country Long Ago brought back another memory, this one belongs to my father and also takes place in Africa.
There are very few memories for me of the time he spent in Biafra in the late sixties and early seventies. He was a very private man and never shared much of his life with others, and that included his daughter.

His decision to sell his practice and head to Nigeria and the Biafra conflict was made on the spur of the moment, one day I was getting ready to head to Paris to study-and I use the term loosely-the next day my father announced he was going to Lagos for an extended stay. There were no conversations, no further plans, just an edict that he was going.
Doctors were needed, there weren't many available and the conflict was brutal.  This was a time when we didn't  really hear much about what was going on in other parts of the world. We didn't live in a global society as we do today, but it was indeed brutal.

I've recently started doing some research about that conflict, civil war, whatever you want to call it. In about two and half years, a million or so people died as a result. The Republic of Biafra seceded from Nigeria because of cultural, economic and religious differences.  In many cases much has not changed, sad to say we still fight over the same things.
This was about the time that Doctors Without Borders came into being, but I don't even know if he went through that organization or another one. All I know is that he went there to help set up a hospital, I want to learn more about his time there.  

He was a remarkable man, and it would nice to share some of his life with my daughters, but I'm starting from scratch and so far have not made much progress.
If anyone can point me in the right direction, it would be greatly appreciated.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes, Cool Chicks
and coming soon A Hotel in Bath

Friday, November 9, 2012

Get-Away Weekend! by DL Larson

My suitcase is packed - in my dreams it is!  Does that count?  My "L-Girl" weekend starts tomorrow when my daughters, niece and sister meet up in Chicago for fun and frolics.  "L-Girl" came about since we all have L in our last names and we wanted to spend time to officially kick-off the holiday season.  And so L-Girl weekend came to be. We usually meet the 3rd weekend in November, but we had a clash of commitments so changed our time to get together.

We are celebrating our 13th Anniversary of L-Girl weekend.  Lots has happened, missing the train, singing happy birthday in the middle of downtown, finding $400, giving it all away, laughing til we cry and crying until we laugh.  We have eaten at so many fantastic restaurants I can't remember them all, the plays have been plentiful and some more comical than they should have been simply because we were together.  We unanimously agree we could decorate the Macy's Christmas tree better in one afternoon and continue to wait for them to call us to intervene for them.  Doing the windows would come later.  Someone always buys shoes, someone always loses something, and we eat what we want, when we want.  We even have our favorite spots for a potty stop, er, rest stop!

This year we are going to Orchestra Hall for the symphony, after dinner at Carnivale. (sp?)  Our biggest worry is: 1.  can we be quiet enough?  2. can we get there without being late?  3. can we sit still long enough?  and 4.  are we really ready for a symphony? 

I should mention we are rather a rowdy group.  That's a polite way of saying we are LOUD.  We try to be quiet, but we are not quiet people.  We are boistrous.  We are big laughers.  We are the table at the restaurant who bursts out in high pitched chortles and snorts.  We talk over each other and rarely take turns when we should. 

It's awesome!  It's absurd.  It's who I belong to ... and I can't wait to be with them again.

Til next time ~
DL Larson

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNo Monday....

Well more like no... at least officially.

I'm trying it for the first time to finish up an idea I started.

The outline is sitting ready, most of it anyway.

Just have to get to it once edits on the zombie book are sent in and several stories are written and I have a show to attend on Friday....

Makes it hard to work on another long project and stick to it.... but if I don't do it now....

So nose to the grindstone.

What do you do to keep motivated?

Who else is in NaNoWriMo? Buddy me - chrisv07

Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Extra Hour

Although it's bittersweet in some ways to see Daylight Savings Time end, I do love getting an extra hour this time of year. It's most apparent for sleeping. For about a week or so after the change, it still feels like sleeping in everyday, even though I'm getting up for work.

I'd like to say I did something really productive with my extra hour last night. I have blogs to write and revisions to make and new stories to create. But I didn't do any of those things. (Well, actually, I wrote this blog, but that didn't take very long.)

What I did...was sit on the couch and relax. The hubby and I watched the CMA's we'd DVRd earlier in the week. (The best part of the show was that Taylor Swift did NOT win any awards.) After that was done, I turned all of the clocks back so they'd be ready in the morning. Hubby took one look at the new time and said, "Wow, it's early. I'm going out to the garage to hang out." (He loves the garage...hopefully he's doing some cleaning while he's out there!)

I thought, okay, I have the house to myself for a while, I can get some work done. But it had been a busy day: laundry, raking leaves, baking, cooking, and updating my web-site and sending off some guest blogs. All in all the day was very productive. I even put away the Halloween decs and got out the Thanksgiving ones.

So, instead of working, I let the couch call my name and I ensconsed myself there for some R & R. Which really is what the weekend is all about...right?!

So, what did you do with your extra hour?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


An Unexpected Blessing - A Thanksgiving novella - coming November 21