Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting Back To Work! by DL Larson

I'm not feeling it, the "getting back to work" initiative.  It's time to settle down into my routine of working on my WIP each morning before I head to the library to my paying job.  But I'm not feeling all that inspired to dig in again.  That's not like me.  I'm usually eager to get back to work, challenge my characters and get on with the story they have to share.  I have big plans that include sending my completed manuscript out for publishing, work on getting my published books into e-book format, and finishing my WIP by spring 2013.  I should be excited about my plans, but after running to the garage to the frig several times this morning to put items into my new refrigerator, then climbing over several boxes of toys in my office and other debris left over from our remodeling, I can see I need to get organized before I can get down to the business of writing.

I need to de-clutter.
I need to re-assemble my kitchen.
I need to re-claim my back porch and dining room.  They overflow with kitchen items that have been homeless for quite awhile now.
I need to find a better place for toys rather than my office.
I need re-inforcements.
I need to call my kids to come help ~ er, visit me!

I think I'm on to something.  With a little help I could be clutter-free and organized again.  I'm starting to feel the itch to get writing again ...

Hope you do too!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Monday, August 27, 2012

Before the Story....

How many times have you written a story or book and then wondered, what happened before the story began?

Ok I admit, it hasn't happened - yet.

But it can.

I realized that the way my girl zombie novel opens, it offers the perfect opportunity to offer a prequel, the set-up before the actual escalating event when the girl's cousin, who is turning into a zombie, comes home.

I've mapped part of it out but I still question - how much is too much? How much detail takes away from the other story?

Of course, writing a prequel means sticking to just that - the events and facts before the main escalating event in the book. It is a stand-alone story and using only events leading up to the one main event in the other story/book can help limit you so you don't go off on other unrelated tangents.

Some of these thoughts here are to help me as I figure out my prequel, and maybe they will help you if you are writing one.

** If you have written a prequel, share the points you took into consideration.

* What did your prequel contain?
* What is it about?
* How does it relate to the main story/book?

Some pros on writing a prequel:

* You can present some of the details that would have bogged down the beginning of the other book or story.

* You can share more about the main character and what prompted them to do what they did.

* You can show more about a character by the actions they take - or don't take.

* You can show more about the family dynamics before this event.

Cons on writing a prequel:

* You can get bogged down in details that don't matter.

* You can repeat some things already covered in the main story.

* ?

Tell us about your prequel!

* See other fiction by Christine Verstraete


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Whodunnit?

My first reading love was mysteries. I cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew so to speak. On any given library trip I made a bee line for the corner section where a multitude of the yellow-spined books waited. As I grew up and my reading tastes evolved, I turned to romance. I started reading romance in high school. The Harlequin American line was my genre of choice.

Now that I'm all grown up, I'll still pick up the occasional Nancy Drew to read. It brings such a sense of nostalgia. As an author, romance is a big part of my life. I still love to read romance, but I find that if I'm in the middle of writing a particular story, reading a different romance often confuses the issue. So I've turned back to my first love.

Lately I've been reading a lot of cozy mysteries. I don't like graphic blood and gore, but ordinary, everyday heroines caught up in life's happenings with a little bit of romance thrown in are perfect for me.

I actually started a couple of years ago with Joanna Carl's "Chocoholic" series. I also read Lois Greiman's series featuring Chrissy McMullen. Just this past spring I sat next to Denise Swanson at a book signing and grabbed a bookmark for her new series. After reading Little Shop of Homicide, which I loved!, I went and read-through her (so far) sixteen book Scumble River series this summer. These days I'm delving into The Flower Shop Mysteries by Kate Collins. I've also read the Charlaine Harris series about a small town librarian. Also on my radar for my Kindle is the Grace Marsden series by Luisa Buehler.

Any cozy series you've read that you can recommend? I'd love to add more to my list.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From Orange Beach, Alabama!! by DL Larson

I'm supposed to be getting ready to go out for dinner, but the warm ocean breeze and setting sun are too perfect to stir from my deck chair.  I'm eleven stories above the sand and sea, looking out from the condo balcony porch.  My friends and I have spent the last several days playing at the seashore and walking through the many quaint shops. 

I have to admit I have not worked on my WIP as I had intended, nor have I finished the Heather Graham mystery novel I brought with me.  I've actually taken the time to relax and enjoy being with my husband and friends. 

We have an on-going challenge, girls against the guys while playing cards, dominos and other silly games.  We girls are winning of course, just like we do every year, even though the winners round will be tonight after dinner.  I'm confident we will be victorious, but the important thing is my husband and I have reconnected with our good friends.  Friendship is one of life's blessings and I don't want to ever become too busy not to spend time with my friends. 

So please forgive me if this blog is not about writing.  My friends are more precious than my life's goal to become a well known writer. 

Enjoy the day!

More next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Update


I've sent Her Handyman off to my editor, the talented Helen Ginger.
While I had a little downtime on Tuesday I gathered everything together about the book and put it into a 7 pocket folder.
I also sorted out lots of other papers on my desk and put them into two pocket folders with huge mailing labels stuck to their tops saying what they were about.
For a brief time I'm organized, but soon I'll be going  at Blessing or Curse, the sequel to Forever Young.

Then once again chaos will reign!

Morgan Mandel

Monday, August 20, 2012

Random Thoughts on Writing....

Writing is not a linear activity. Well, for some it may be, but most of us write a little, go to the bathroom, write some more, get some water, etc. Then there are the emails and all that other stuff which can interrupt writing.

Kind of.

Most of us have that little computer going in the back of our heads while we do other things, that internal editor still constantly at work, rephrasing, thinking, stewing....

So, while your muse is mulling over your latest project, what are your favorite ways to avoid the keyboard?

One is writing posts like this apparently. ha!

Now back to work!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Remembering...

Yesterday I accomplished one final goal for the summer. And it didn't have anything to do with writing.

I got a tattoo. I never thought I'd be one of those people who wanted one, but the desire hit me a few months ago, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I wanted it to be meaningful, not just a random, generic picture, so I put a lot of thought into what I wanted. I had a general idea, but then one night a vision popped into my head. I sketched it out, and then went on the net and did some cut and paste to put together an example. I sized it and cut it out and wore it on my ankle to make sure it was what I really wanted.

Finally, the big day came. Yesterday, I went and did it. The hubby got a new tattoo as well. He got one right after we got married, so this was his second. Mine took about fifteen minutes...his took two hours.

Here's how mine turned out:

It's a bouquet of six tulips done in pink and blue with a purple ribbon with a cross on it. The six blooms stand for our babies. We lost three to miscarriage, donated two embryos to science when we knew we couldn't use them, and had one failed invitro attempt.

Not that we'll ever forget, but this way, others will remember too. Everyone who's seen it so far loves it. A few have cried. It means a lot that they understand what this means to me/us.

Until next time,

Happy Reading,

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hi, Y'all! from Nashville by DL Larson

I'm looking out from the shaded porch of my cabin, watching the Cumberland River mosey by.  The cicadas never stop clicking yet a silent peacefulness surrounds me.  Yes, my hubby is clanking around in the kitchen, promising me a wonderful homemade breakfast of eggs and sausage, but his actions have become part of the backdrop as well.  Nashville is just down the road waiting for us to further our explorations today.  But right now, I'm enjoying the solitude of doing nearly nothing.

The place we're staying is called "End O' The Bend Lodge and Landing," sited as top-notch in the book titled, "The Best Places to Stay in the South," by Carol Timblin, published in 1992 by Gambit Books, distributed by Houghton Mifflin Company.  It's still a 5 Star place to be!  It is more a home in a quiet neighborhood than a cabin for rent.

The cabin is rustic with luxury.  The cathedral ceiling, plush furniture and spacious rooms along with a modern kitchen and baths make me wish we could stay more than the few days we have scheduled.
Later we plan to ride a Delta boat through the Opry Land Hotel, take an excursion on the General Jackson riverboat and visit the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson.  Tomorrow it will be backstage tours of the Grand Ol' Opry and a show, plus more bar hopping on Broadway and 2nd Street, where every bar has a band playing. 

Next week I'll be in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Alabama, meeting up with college friends for a week. Our little group tries to get together every year, each taking a turn to host and plan where we will gather. It's always a fun time, full of "glory days" and nonsense.  I can't wait to hug my old pals.
But right now, I don't want to rush through these few days we have to relax.  I'm going to put this computer down and watch the river for awhile.

 I love rode trips. 

More next week ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Free Again!

Come and Get It For Free Today!

If you haven't sampled The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories, you'll find it free today, Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at   http://amzn.com/B0085YDO7E

18 authors, 15 short stories.

Both I and Christine Verstraete have contributed stories to the collection, by the way.

It won't cost you anything today to download. Works for computers, if you don't have a kindle.

Can't beat free!


Find all of Morgan Mandel's reasonably priced full length novels at http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

Monday, August 13, 2012

Great new reads at Author Snapshot at Mysterical-e


Just wanted to share the great new reads and authors I featured in my Author Snapshot column at Mysterical-e.

Includes:

* The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories (BBT Cafe Authors)
- Stories by 18 authors including myself set in or around the corner cafe. .

* In "Perfect Timing" by Christine Verstraete, a rescued pup helps cafe owner Gina Mason find love and thwart a would-be robber.
(** NOTE: The Corner Cafe will be free on 8/15 on Amazon )

* Death Legacy (Five Star Mystery Series) by Jacqueline Seewald

* DREAM ANGEL -- A Circus Novella by Mary Ellen Dennis

* Killing Ways: Stories by Steve Torres

* The Mystery Writers (Interviews and Advice) by Jean Henry Mead

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Final Entry

Yes, sad but true, in a sense summer is over. Oh, I'm sure we'll still have warm (hot) weather and we're still a few weeks away from Labor Day weekend and then a few more away from Autumn, but for me, I go back to work tomorrow and summer as I've known it is indeed over. *sigh*

In a way I'm ready to get back to a routine, but I've accomplished so much writing-wise this summer, I'll be a little sad to lose that momentum.

But I do have a doozy of a way to close out my journal for the summer.

The other day (about a week and a half ago now) when I brought the mail in, I had an interesting envelope. It was addressed to me and also had my own return address label on it. I knew immediately what it was. My return correspondence from Harlequin. I'd sent in a query with a synopsis back in May and had included this self-addressed envelope with the letter. I didn't open it right away. Honestly, I'd gotten a similar envelope before, and it was a rejection. So, I opened the other mail first, and then finally got around to opening the Harlequin missive. Which I then had to re-read twice to make sure I wasn't seeing things: they had read my synopsis and were interested in seeing the full manuscript!!!!!

A few moments of Happy Dancing ensued, and then the work began. I immediately got to work doing a read-through. And then another. Now this book has been finished and edited for a while now, but with something this big on the line, I wanted to make sure all of my i's were dotted and my t's crossed, to say the least. I also enlisted the help of fellow Chicago-North chapter mates to do a read-through. (A big thanks and lots of hugs to Pamala Knight and Jennifer Stevenson for doing an ASAP read and offering suggestions on the mss.) Then I edited some more, revised some more, edited again, rewrote and added scenes, and then did a final read-through. While all of this was going on I wrote a full-synopsis and another cover letter.

Finally, it was time. I printed out the mss (almost 300 pages worth), got my mailing label ready (I'd pick of the envelope at the post office), typed up the self-addressed envelope for return correspondence, signed the cover letter, and headed off to the post office. My goal was to have it in the mail before going back to work on August 13, and I was so excited to be ahead of my dead-line.

I'd like to report that all went off without a hitch and that as we speak the mss is winging it's way to Canada, but, alas, it isn't so. The post office was out of IRC (International Return Coupons) which is the postage I need to provide for my self-addressed envelope. They wouldn't be getting any in for another few weeks. I didn't want to wait that long, so I tried a different post office. They don't sell the IRCs at all anymore. After a third post office didn't have any either, and getting more and more frustrated by the minute...was this a sign this wasn't mean to be?...I remembered I was living in the 21st century and went home and ordered an IRC on line. It should arrive in 3 to 5 business days. Now why didn't I think of that in the first place?

So, the mss is all bundled up, complete with a custom's form, and ready for a trip to the post office as soon as my Priority Mail arrives next week. Once it's in the mail, the waiting will begin. The letter I got said it takes from three to five months for a response, even for requested materials.

In the meantime, I'm still looking forward to finishing up the final stages for An Unexpected Blessing (galleys, cover, etc.) and beginning promotion on that. And I have a WIP I set aside to get "Family Secrets" ready to send to Harlequin. So, I'm sure I'll have plenty to do to keep my mind of off waiting. Plus, like I said, it's back to work for me, so the real world will provide plenty of distraction and keep me from waiting by the mailbox every day.

All in all, I have to say it's been a productive writing summer. It doesn't get any better than that. So, if you'll keep fingers and toes crossed for me, I'll let you know as soon as I hear back from Harlequin.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Wonder of Travel by Margot Justes


My roots go back to Europe, and I've always been kiddingly (I hope) told that for me it's not a vacation unless I cross the pond, aka the Atlantic or any other ocean. I've been blessed in being able to travel. I seek out the best deals in hotels, air fare and anything else needed to keep the price down and affordable; of course that is all relative. We have to plan according to our budgetary constraints. The idea is to be able to go somewhere and see something new and have an adventure and still be able to afford it.  
That adventure can happen right in your own backyard, all it takes is a bit of research and voila, there are things to do. Everyplace offers something new to discover. I'm not at all interested in beaches, not my choice, but I have made an effort and have seen a few. Okay, I'll admit to the old adage if you've seen one beach you've seen them all. Well except the beaches in Santorini, Greece, it is black sand because of volcanic activity. That was unique. Here is my point, it was different and I learned a bit about Santorini's history because of that beach.  

The same can happen right here at home. A beautiful building, an enticing restaurant with a terrific view, an age old bookstore filled to capacity with history and books, local history museum and yes, bars and beaches. No matter your interest, there is always something new to see. It doesn't have to cost a lot, just a bit of your time.
Not everyone likes museums, I've heard a great deal of disdain in my life from people who do not want to waste their time in a museum. My philosophy is, if you don't try you'll never know. Stretch the imagination a bit. Many museums charge a fee, some nominal and others not so nominal. If you're in the DC area, the Smithsonian is free and the museums are unbelievable, you hop from the National Gallery to the American History Museum , and so many others in between-and they are all amazingly free.

As the proverbial saying goes, I cut my teeth in museums, but my palate was severely limited to Polish food. That is what I grew up on. There was no exposure until I was on my own, timid and afraid slowly I ventured out, now there is not a cuisine in this world that I would not try. I'm grateful that I took that first step. I apply that same process to a vacation, whether it's in other parts of the world or right here at home.
Cheers,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
www.mjustes.com

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Details! by DL Larson

This last week I have been doing a last look through of a manuscript I am sending out for publish soon.  Something kept nagging me and I knew some little but significant tidbit was missing, but I couldn't grasp what it was.  Since I was looking at the hardcopy and not the computer file, I was slow to realize the problem. 

I've always kept my hardcopy in three sections, one on top the other in a criss-cross pattern.  Only when I was stacking the papers did it dawn me.  In my mind the book is in three parts, but I had yet to do a Part One, Part Two and Part Three in the computer to signify the division in the book.  That little detail makes a big difference in my story.  It will keep readers on track and not wonder why the big transition without some indication of a shift in the book. 

In my everyday life I was lacking a small detail as well.  My granddaughters and I are going swimming today and they requested chicken wraps for our picnic.  I liked their thinking and thought what a treat that would be come lunchtime.  Except I forgot my kitchen is still under construction.  I have no stove to bake the chicken and I was feeling too lazy to go to the store to purchase cooked chicken.  After the storm passed last night, I grilled the chicken and all was well, or so I hoped.

This morning I had to wait for my girls to arrive because I couldn't remember which they preferred on their wraps: mayo or ranch dressing!  I sure didn't want to go to all the trouble of making a fresh chicken wrap and have the wrong sauce on it!  Little details make all the difference.

So for those looking for an easy and tasty lunch, below is my simple recipe for chicken wraps:

2 cooked/grilled chicken breasts, season as desired, shredded
one avocado
bacon, cooked, crumbled or sliced into small pieces
spinach or your favorite lettuce, (paper towel to dry)
onion (opt) my girls said NO to that!
ranch dressing or another dressing of your choice
black olives
grape-size tomatoes
tortilla shells (I prefer the refrigerated ones)
shredded cheese (I prefer a blend of cheddar and jack)


Assemble:
spread dressing over tortilla
layer ingredients starting with cheese and spinach
add the other ingredients: the trick is not to fill it too full.

Fold the ends in and roll, secure the edge with a dab of dressing or stab with a toothpick.
Cut in half about 3/4 way through
store in a water/air tight container and refrigerate until time to eat
This usually makes 4-6 wraps, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.
Serve with more sauce if desired.

Enjoy!

Don't forget the napkins!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Remember the Shoes by Morgan Mandel

Shoes say a lot about a person. So don't forget to mention them when you're describing what your characters wear.

Why am I thinking about shoes? That's because I spent all morning cleaning out the bottom of my closet, where the shoes collected over the years were running amuck.(figuratively speaking)

The result is I'm donating four bags of shoes to Goodwill, and I have more room in the closet. No, I'm not buying more shoes to fill any of the empty spaces. At least not for now!




For excerpts and buy links to Morgan's novels,
check out http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vacation

I'm out of town this weekend for one last summer vacation. We're in Springfield, IL, checking out the Lincoln sites.

Next week I'll be back with my final summer writing journal entry...there's lots to tell, so stay tuned!

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Hotel in Paris by Margot Justes

As promised I have a picture of the new orange couch.

The rest of the blog is an excerpt of the 1st chapter of A Hotel in Paris. I started editing A Hotel in Bath, before it goes to the editor, and re-read Paris. It made me feel as if I were there.

***
      The shrill wail echoed in the hallway, Minola Grey slammed the door to her hotel room and followed the sound of distress. She saw the maid dart out of a guest room in sheer panic.  Minola reached her in a few brisk strides and asked, "Yvonne, what's the matter?"  She didn't detect any sign of injury, just pure terror in her eyes.  This type of behavior was unlike Yvonne, who was always steadfast.  Nothing ever ruffled her.

"Mademoiselle Grey…body…blood…" she sobbed.

    "Body?  Blood?  Whose body?  Yvonne, please…please sit down."  Minola led her to the plush oversized chair near the elevator.  "Tell me what happened," Minola pleaded.

"Lord Yardleigh.  In his room…dead…blood," Yvonne said, her voice shook, but the weeping now dwindled to a whimper.

"Yvonne, knock on Dr. LeBrun's door.  See if he's in.  I'll go to Lord Yardleigh's room."  Minola's voice quiet and subdued, she thought to offer comfort to the distraught maid. “Please call the front desk for help, and get Security up here, fast."

Lord Yardleigh's open door allowed Minola to walk in, and what she saw left no doubt in her mind.  Lord Yardleigh was dead.  The body splayed out on the floor did not diminish the quiet elegance of the room.  Minola’s stomach twisted in a knot, her muscles tightened and nausea rose in her throat.

She'd never seen a body, much less in this bloody state.  Think!  Don't touch anything.  She shook her head, as if to clear any lingering cobwebs.  Get hold of yourself. Where is the gun? I don't see a gun. Murder? Must be. He didn’t get up and dispose of the gun and then conveniently lay down and die. Not with that wound. A great fan of the mystery genre, Minola knew enough not to disturb anything in the room.  The crime scene needed to be preserved. 

Reluctantly, Minola looked at the body again and noted how impeccably dressed he’d been–crisp white linen shirt, gold cuff links, and an expensive watch still on his wrist–impeccable except for the bloody stain that had spread beyond the hole in the shirt and created a crimson river against the achromatic background.  To relieve her queasiness, Minola swiftly glanced at the rest of the room.  As an artist she focused on the de rigueur hotel furniture, then on the few contemporary canvases displayed on the walls. These were not hotel issue, and were good.

The colors and textures of the paintings strangely complimented the hues of the grim, yet powerful, scene before her. Contemplating the pieces on the wall gave Minola a much needed reprieve from the ghastly outline on the floor.  Her hands clenched as she began to shake.

Nothing appeared to have been disturbed in the quiet, serene room.  The curtains were open, and the sun filtered through to cast a warm dappled glow over the body.  Minola shuddered, turned and without touching anything walked out of the room.

Back in the hallway, she patiently waited for what she knew would be a barrage of questions by hotel security and the Police Nationale de Paris.

This hotel is my home.  What happened here?  To give her an essential, although temporary, reprieve from the tragedy, she focused on yesterday’s idyllic day sitting in a cafĂ©, in a cozy secluded booth across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens. Through the gilded wrought-iron fence she gleaned the contemplative and everyday life of the Parisiens unlike today, where the horror of sudden death intruded on her contemplation.

As she waited for the police, she relived the relaxed pace inside the gardens, so peaceful and calm.  She remembered the old couple who sat on a bench and held hands, a woman watched her child play, and on another bench, two women sat in comfort and rolled the prams containing their precious cargoes.  Their hypnotic movements, back and forth, back and forth, helped lull Minola into utter contentment as the mesmerizing and soothing minutes flicked by. 

The image of Lord Yardleigh's body intruded on her thoughts.  So peaceful in repose…so still, so sanguine, except for the blood.  Go back to the gardens.   Go back to the gardens.

"Mademoiselle Grey…pardon, Mademoiselle," she faintly heard a voice call her back to reality.        Art drew her to Paris, so well represented–not confined to museums, but present everywhere, and always in the gardens which peppered this amazing city.

 "Mademoiselle Grey…Mademoiselle, s'il vous plait."  She heard that voice again, faint but urgent calling her.  Her serenity shattered, she faced the certainty of a gruesome murder in her quiet hotel.  Slowly Minola opened her eyes, and noticed the hallway was filled with police and crime investigators.  She recognized what looked like a solitary pathologist carrying a black medical bag.  The police did not block his entry.

"Mademoiselle Grey, are you all right?  I need to ask you a few questions."  The gentle yet insistent voice persisted through her hazy reality.  "Yes, of course.  I am sorry," she replied, and again clenched her hands to keep them from shaking.

"I'm  Luc Dubois with the Police Nationale.  Mademoiselle, we already have a statement from the maid.  She said that you went into the room.  Did you touch the body?" he inquired politely.

"I didn't touch anything…no…nothing at all.  I went in to see if I could help.  Yvonne had said blood…I just wanted to make sure…  I…"

He nodded his head and continued, "Did you notice anything unusual?  Did you see or hear anyone come up to this floor while you were waiting for the police?"

"The room appeared undisturbed.  So clean.  I didn't see or hear anyone, but I closed my eyes because I needed to escape. I am sorry, but I believe I drifted off a bit.  Maybe Yvonne heard or saw something.  Not a robbery…"  Her calm voice belied her distress. She looked down and tried to still her quaking hands.

"Yes, I know.  I had a difficult time bringing you out of your reverie, Mademoiselle.  The maid had gone downstairs to summon help; she could not get the phone to work.  I believe she was too agitated.  Pourquoi?  Why are you so certain that it was not a robbery?" he queried.

"You must have noticed he wore a gold Rolex.  There are also several very worthwhile contemporary art pieces on the wall.  A thief would have certainly stolen these items.  No self-respecting crook would leave a Rolex on his victim's wrist.” She said. “The Luxembourg Gardens are a far more delightful escape than seeing a murder victim." Her voice was wistful as she looked up, her eyes shimmered, but she refused to let the tears fall.

"There I would agree with you, Mademoiselle.  I am sorry you were a witness to such a tragedy."

"Merci.  Thank you for understanding."   

Minola closed her eyes and saw the sun filter through the pool of blood–a macabre scene, one that would stay with her forever.  She blinked twice and looked down at her watch. "Pardon, but I am already late for class.  May I please go, unless you still need me for any reason?  I will be back this afternoon.  I can leave my passport at the front desk."  As an afterthought she added, "If necessary."

"That will not be required, Mademoiselle.  You may go.  I understand that this is difficult for you.  There will be more questions for you this afternoon; please do make yourself available.  Merci, Mademoiselle."  He moved on to speak with another policeman.

* * *

Yves Lanier, of the Police Nationale, was a man with a mission.  His dingy grey office with matching furniture was so littered with papers and books that he couldn't find the phone on his desk.  It was here somewhere, he knew.  Damn it, I used it yesterday.  He briefly stared at the mess…then, with quiet efficiency, slid everything off his desk to the floor, and heard the ping of the phone hit the ground.  He bent down, picked it up, and dialed a London number he knew well.  A quiet voice answered: "Peter Riley."

"Bonjour, Peter.  How are you, my friend?"

"I know that tone, Yves.  Interpol at your service.  What's going on?"

"Peter, Yardleigh was murdered sometime late last night or early this morning.  I think your investigation into money laundering just veered off track."

The silence at the other end was palpable.  "What the hell happened?  He was cooperating.  What do you have?"

"We have nothing, mon ami.  He was shot once in the chest with a small-caliber gun.  No exit wound–the lab's still working on that.  Purely as an observation, it looks like he knew his killer.  No surprise or fear…there's nothing reflected on his face.  Nothing stolen.  Everything, as you English say, was neat and tidy, save for the corpse on the floor.  We secured the crime scene and did all the lovely things we are supposed to do.  The bastard was not nice enough to leave any clues."  Lanier spoke with the confidence of a seasoned cop.

"Let me talk to Clivers, my superior.  Murder is out of our jurisdiction.  I suppose that leaves Scotland Yard in the game."

"Peter, this started in England."

"Don't I know it.  I will call you back."  Lanier heard the phone click in his ear.

* * *
Cheers,
Margot Justes


Friday, August 3, 2012

Rewriting and Remodeling! by DL Larson

Yesterday my new kitchen floor was installed.  It looks wonderful and I'm glad I stayed with my initial instincts and made a contrasting floor to the rest of the house rather than trying to match it with the existing wood floors.  The carpenter wanted to finish the edges with corner-round and I wouldn't let him.  A test of wills, friendly to be sure, ensued.  He stated it was the best way to finish off the room.  I wanted him to pull off the front kick panels of the counters and baseboard in the few areas that needed it.  He was surprised I knew something about wood and how decorative pieces fit together like a puzzle.  The finished look is now professional with no easy patches to cover imperfection.  The make-over was done the right way!

The process of remodeling has been exhilerating and exhausting.  Trying to improve a part of my house and making it blend with what's not being remodeled was a big challenge.  It reminded me of editing and rewriting bits of my book.  Whenever rewriting is needed, one has to be careful not to destroy what is already established and good.  The new words need to feel as if they were always a part of the original plan, much like my new kitchen floor. 

My best advice when rewording or rewriting is to take the time to establish the scene already set and then visualize what is missing.  A light touch, usually, is all that is needed to expand the image.  It may be a dialogue that needs tweaking or better description to clarify the setting.  Once that is done, I normally let the work rest a few days before reading it aloud from the beginning to the end of  the scene.  If it flows without a hiccup, then I know I succeeded in my task.  If not, I do the process again.  There have been times when I've needed to throw out whole paragraphs and start over with fresh words in order to get the job done.  Sometimes I realize I've overworked a spot and removing redundant images makes the reading flow. 

Whenever re-writing, it is good to understand what is needed before diving in. Take the time to assess the problem asking if the section is over-worded or lacking depth.  Is diaglogue weak or stilted?  Is the character focused?  Once the problem is decided, the progression to making it better is already set.

Good luck!

Til next time ~

DL Larson




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ways to Attract Readers by Morgan Mandel

When I was walking Rascal this morning, I noticed a bunch of ants on the sidewalk, all gathered around a piece of candy. My mind flashed back to last night. I was sitting at an outdoor concert, put down my pop can beside me on the ground, and before I knew it, the ants were swarming onto it.

If only it were that simple to attract readers!

Here are some methods, some of which I admit to be lax about, some I do faithfully.

1. Updated website - I confess to not getting around to changing mine in a while.
2. Personal and/or group blogs - I belong to quite a few. That's good and bad, because I can't focus on them all at once.
3. Social networks - I pay more attention to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, although I'm also on
others.
4. Egroups - I belong to quite a few, try to keep up with them, but usually don't succeed
5. Updated Amazon Author Central Page - Yes, I've done that
6. Using KDP Select program at Amazon - No, because my books are all over the place and it would be too hard to reign them in. I plan on trying it for my next book.
7. Blog Book Tour - Yes, I've done that for each book.
8. Book Launch Party - Yes, I've done that each time I have a book in print. The last one was for Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. It took a while since I made it available as an ebook first. The one for Killer Career was the opposite, since I put it in print first.

What about you? Do you use any of these methods, or can recommend others?
What works best for you?




Find excerpts and buy links to Morgan Mandel's books at
http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com