Sunday, November 30, 2008


My husband is turning 40 in a couple of days. To celebrate, I (with the help of our families) threw him a surprise party last night. He was surprised. He never had any idea of what we were planning. We all had a blast. The months of planning that went into this event have been fun, crazy, and tricky to have him not catch on! I had to play my cards just right. I had to lead up to it very carefully, leaving some hints as far as people being out of town for the holiday weekend (so he wouldn't make other plans), setting up my reason for getting him to the party place (he almost bailed at the last minute), and orchestrating the timing of everything and everyone involved. Things had to come together just so to make it all work. And it did. It was a wonderful night!

It also got me to thinking. Planning this party was very similar to plotting a book. When I write I have an idea in my mind of how I want things to work out. I usually know how the book is going to end before I even start writing it. When I finally hit the computer and start getting the words down, I have to plan very carefully to make sure that everything that happens is leading my characters in the right direction. Sometimes they go ways I don't want them to go. (Often they seem to have a mind of their own.) I have to carefully steer them through their decisions so everything turns out right in the end. I have to coordinate secondary characters and their actions so they enhance, but don't get in the way of my couple's happily ever after. I have to give my reader every reason to believe that my couple can't possibly get together, and then of course bring all of the loose ends, plot points, and other happenings together to resolve their conflicts and give them the happy ending they (and my readers) deserve and are expecting.

Sometimes there are surprises along the way. Sometimes key plot points need to be kept secret from readers and characters. I can't give away too much too soon. I want people to stay with me and keep turning the pages. But it has to be done carefully, so the surprise isn't ruined or given away too early. It's finding that balance of hinting and hiding. Until finally, in the end, it turns into a wonderful story.

My latest story is a FREE read available through The Wild Rose Press. It's a Christmas story called "Mistletoe and Folly". Feel free to click on the link and enjoy! Who knows, maybe you'll find a surprise or two in it!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

We Bloody, Black-Hearted Killer Wannabe's by Robert W. Walker

As recently as Thanksgiving Day I hear that some teacher somewhere believes and tells her students that those among us who write about murder, death, killing, and killers are secretly want-to-be killers ourselves, and we curtain or control our killing urges by letting it happen in our imaginations and on paper in black and white. I have heard this or similar nonsensical claims in the past, such as I must hate women because women are so often victims in my novels—and furthermore that when coming to a conference or a book signing or a library speak to meet me, folks expect and are disappointed to find I have no horns on my head or a bifurcated tail trailing behind me, no pitchfork even.

Damn. Let’s take a closer look at this notion and ask ourselves do authors of romance novels want to have sex with stupid men 24/7? Is that a fair question? Do romance novelists want flowers every day, doors opened for them, men to fall at their feet? Or women in the case of those many male authors writing romance? Do romance writers want a rosy world or secretly believe that relationships can be as simple as 1,2,3-A,B,C?

Let’s take Mrs. Smith or Jones or whatever said teacher’s name is and apply the theory to those who write about trapped ghosts among us. Do authors dealing with ghosts secretly long to be ghosts? Do they secretly hope to inhabit a house or a car or a haunted trailer on blocks for eternity? Hmmm…makes one wonder if Dante secretly wished to fry in Hell or no.

Let’s take the teacher’s theory to horror novels about vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Do horror authors secretly long for the dark coffin by day, the party life by night—and to exsanguinations young innocents? When I wrote my Abe Stroud series, wherein archeologist Stroud dug too deep every time and came up with the supernatural did I secretly want to be the archeological “Indiana Jones” hero or the maniacal vampire? When Abe faced werewolves in Michigan and chased one to Chicago, did I secretly wish to live the wild and horribly afflicted life of the Indian guide who’d become a werewolf, the monster because I secretly wanted to become a hairy beast and feed on other people?

What about when Abe faced down all those NYC zombies in the third book? Oddly the vampires, werewolves, and zombies were all put down by Stroud. May perhaps I secretly identified with Stroud and not the monsters? I dunno but the theory put forth by the teacher and others says that if I write monsters, then I must secretly want to be a monster.
Man, I show a little sympathy for the beast and suddenly I am the beast. If this is so, what does it say of the author of Beowulf, who also created Grendel?

Let’s take the theory to Fantasy novels…OMG. Where do we begin. I want to be a dragon, a Hobbit, a troll, Harry Potter or one of a hundred or a thousand characters since Beowulf was penned (as all fantasy came out of this early Christian-based work). Does it make me secretly want to be a fire-breathing monster of destruction to create one out of my imagination and pen? Give me a break. Close but no gold ring.

Sorry but I gotta take absolute issue with this teacher. Does she also think that the old stupid maxim that "those who can't do, teach?" Think about what this theory of hers (and others) says, that there are then literally millions of readers who are wannabe killers. Let's take this logic to another arena. Everyone who gets on a roller-coaster for amusement (unforced that is) get on because they secretly want to DIE??? That's hogwash as they want to FEEL more strongly, feel the adrenaline rush, feel ALIVE, feel the emotions involved in the ride.

Readers and Writers who enjoy dark literature and serial killer novels should not have to make excuses for their taste, and all that I know identify not with the killer or the monster but with the hero and heroine. Readers and Writers of such works as my ME series, the Instinct books or my Edge books take an emotional ride. And guess what: Every major piece of literature on the planet is about, you guessed it, all the highest and noblest passions as well as the lowest and basest in human nature; literature is about life and death, and how we live our lives, and the choices inherent in our decisions from the obsessed Captain Ahab to the uneducated Huck Finn who "breaks God's and man's law" to help a slave to freedom.

Take that theory (and shove it) to another arena. Everyone who becomes a shrink really secretly wants her head shrunk. Dr. Phil doesn’t want to help others so much as he wants to be helped and “saved”. Mother Theresa, under this theory (of the crime) secretly wanted to be fed and clothed and pitied and helped—she could not have owned any other motive, so she wasn’t motivated by religious fervor but a secret need within to become a diseased and pitied soul like those in Calcutta she ministered to? I think not. I believe people and motivations are far more complex than that, and I believe I write about frightful people and events because I am interested in reflecting the complexity of this world and the human condition.

I could be wrong, of course. Everyone who becomes a McDonalds worker may perhaps truly really want to wear the outfit and pig out on fatty foods. Everyone who writes horror novels secretly is in league with Satan. It is the most feeble crapola I have heard in a long, long time. And I resent those who expect when they meet me that I will be wearing a hat to cover my horns. With all due respect, this so-called teacher sounds like a person full of platitudes, and she is likely a poster child for why education has been heading for hell in a hand-basket for decades now. Not that it upsets me or anything…

Hey if you are like me and you have the GIFT of creating creatures and monsters and villains unheard of, bad guys who boggle the imagination of readers who want their imaginations boggled, consider yourself most very likely far more well-rounded and healthy and as far from a killer or hateful person than those who run screaming from the realities of life, because as we see even today in Mumbai that the monsters we create cannot hold a candle to the monsters in the real world. Which begs the question do those who write True Crime books, are they bad people with secret desires to rape, pillage, kill, and destroy? Can this be said of the man who brought us the insights into Manson in Helter-Skelter? Vincent Boglioso—the man who put Manson away? Stephen King is known for having said, “I write about the storm that is out my window; I don’t create the storm.”

Have a great Black Friday, and the next time you hear someone put a single parent down because the model unit of the family in another’s brain is two parents, one male, one female, and two and a half children…think about authors who are confused with their monstrous creations, and ask yourself should readers and writers of such “fantastic trash” be prejudged anymore than a gay person, a black person, a single mom?

Rob Walker
- new eBook-pdf file ARC giveaway

Happy Turkey Day! by DL Larson

My dish to pass is made for the big family feast. My dish for our church's Thanksgiving dinner is also ready for the oven. My turkey for our Sunday get-together is thawed and awaiting the roaster, so for the moment I have no worries!

The sun is shining, always a good thing, especially during the holiday season! The simplicity of Thanksgiving Day lightens my heart. The bustling of the Christmas season is still at bay, at least for today, as we gather to share time with family and friends.

I plan to take a moment to give thanks for the wonders in my life. I sincerely hope you will find a time for thanksgiving as well. We are a nation of plenty. Each of us has so much. We are blessed. It is right and fitting to pause and reflect on our bounty. Many will not be home for Thanksgiving, but standing guard on foreign soil. I plan to offer a special thanks to our military too. With so much unrest in the world, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. feels all the more meaningful.

Yesterday I heard on the news an India woman talking about the terrorist attacks on her nation. She was distraught as so many are, but she also shared a bit about herself. She has been in our country since 1962 and mentioned Thanksgiving is an important day to her because of its clear message. We are a nation united. We celebrate together and Thanksgiving Day tells the world we are a caring people.

I couldn't have said it better. Happy Thanksgiving!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Do You Eat? By Morgan Mandel

What a person eats can say a lot about that person's lifestyle.

Vegetarians seem to be health conscious and also animal lovers.

I picture steak and potato lovers as large men who are not afraid to enjoy a good meal.

Then there are the soup and salad eaters. Discerning women, of course.

What about macaroni and cheese, or peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich gulpers? Kids, right?

Don't forget dishes that shout out a person's ethnicity, such as spaghetti and meatballs, matza balls, pierogis, won ton soup, gyros, and so on.

What I've offered are stereotypical examples of food preferences, but remember that stereotypes are often based on actuality.

When you describe characters in your books, be sure to include food preferences. If what your characters eat vary from the preconceived norm, have fun with that.

Some ways to do this:

A football player eating a salad so he can lose weight.
A kid who for some mysterious reason loves broccoli.
A vegetarian with a mysterious craving for a bologna sandwich.
A salad eater with ice cream binges.

I'll stop now. I'm getting hungry.

What about you - Are your eating habits different from the norm? In what way? Do you include food in your books? If so, how? Please share.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Being An American

I had the great fortune recently to attend the ceremony of a dear friend of mine who chose to become an American Citizen, a title that many of us take for granted. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those sappy, follow-the-leader types regardless what the leader says, but I do take pride in being an American. So, what does it mean to be an American? Well, for me it's the right to vote and have my point of view and allow others to do the same.

One of the problems I've had with the last many years is that I have encountered too many people that have tried to squelch this critical American attribute. Some of these folks have taken the position that anyone who disagrees with them is unpatriotic. Ridiculous, I say! Diverse points of view and civil discussion and disagreement are essential to a robust and free democracy. It's violence that I object to. But back to my friend who chose to become an American.

Since I work downtown Chicago and since my friend is 83 years old, I met her at the train and escorted her to the Federal building where she would be sworn in. The judge - and forgive me because I don't remember his name but I'll never forget his words - took a moment to tell his own story, or that of his ancestors who came to this great country and made it possible for him to be born an American. A point he made is that other than Native Americans, we are all immigrants. I agree. I am part Cherokee Indian but I'm as white as they come. If we all look at our ancestry I think we will find that we are more alike than we are different and we all have an interesting past. This is one of the lessons my friend has taught me. I visit her every summer in Canada where she lives part year on her family land and while I'm in another country I'm struck by how alike we are.

Now, you might say, dah! it's Canada! but I've also traveled in Great Britain and served in Korea with the U.S. Army. So, I'm here to tell you that we are truly more alike than we are different. Still, I think America is one of the best places in the world and instead of shoving this down the rest of the world's throat we need to embrace our great fortune in being Americans and use that to help others. That's what has and will continue to make this a great country and Americans great citizens, something to remember this Thanksgiving as we celebrate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Heppe Birfday to Me

For the second week in a row, I'm going to take a page out of Debra's book. A short blog, in this case.

For it's my birthday today ... I hit the half century mark. And I'm playing with family today.

Take care, and I hope your day is as good as mine.

The Adventures of Guy
The Next Adventures of Guy
Fang Face

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Hi All,

I just got in from out of town, and now I'm running out the door again (story of my life), so I'm going to cheat here a little for today's blog.

On Friday I was the guest blogger at Between the Lines (Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction), so I'm going to put that link here so y'all can read my blog.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Until next, time.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Book Clubs by Margot Justes

You never know when a simple sale will lead to greater exposure. This summer I participated in the Frontier Days in Arlington Heights, IL. along with June Sproat and Morgan Mandel; we sold our books to a woman who was chairperson of a book club, and she asked us to speak at one of their meetings.

I have spoken at a couple book clubs and expected eight to ten people to attend. The event was held at a lovely country club and we were asked to stay for lunch, so I was looking forward to a small intimate event.

What a delightful surprise when I walked into the room and found about eighty members in attendance and of course all book lovers. Nirvana.

It was absolutely wonderful, I sold quite a few books, all my promotional material went and the group thanked us for the informative and great presentation.

The one thing I always walk away with from a presentation like that is inspiration and motivation to finish my projects.

Books are an incredible escape to wondrous worlds, and I can’t imagine never reading a book-but since I started writing I find that writing holds the same form of escape for me, now I’m actually creating my own little heaven.

I’m very excited that A Hotel in Paris is now available in the Kindle format, and the link is already set up on my website.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Kaye Barley with her Aunt, Eve Burchette, Harly, and her Mom, Hazel Wilkenson.

Thanks to my friend Rob Walker for inviting me to drop by. Rob just recently celebrated a milestone birthday. And I’m following right on his heels. We both agree that we cannot possibly be . . . . . - forget it, I can’t even say it!Let me try again.Six . . . Six . . . Sixty. Sixty years old. HOW did this happen?! I don’t feel 60. And am often told I don’t act 60 (this has not always been meant in a complimentary way)

But oh well, there you have it. Birthdays happen. The milestone birthdays sneak up on us. And while we’re bemoaning those milestone birthdays, other things happen. Like your mom having a birthday. We recently celebrated my mom’s 83rd birthday. At least, I did - only to be told the next week that she had actually just turned 82. Oh, the guilt. Hopefully, she’ll forget that unforgivable lapse. Especially seeing as how I did the exact same thing last year!!

Mom-Hazel Wilkinson

Funny, though, for all the talking she does about her memory and how bad it is, there are things she never forgets. Her only child forgetting how old she is might just be one of them (and as it should be). Before you all start thinking I’m being unkind, please know that she and I have, and always have had, a great relationship. She’s my buddy,and I feel pretty sure she would tell you that I’m hers.

We have not always been best friends though. When I was growing up, she never once let me forget that she was “The Mom.” She didn’t give a twig about being my friend; figuring I already had lots of friends, but I only had one mom, and it was a job she took very seriously.

And she did it well. For one thing, she read to me. And took me to the library. And she taught me how to bake Snickerdoodles. Like some of you, we’ve passed that curve of our family growing larger, and are on the other side of the slope, where its getting smaller, so when we invite family to spend the weekend to celebrate the occasion of Mother’s birth its not as though there’s a house full of people. Just me and Donald and Harley. My mom, her sister Eve, and Eve’s husband J.T. A small little group.

My mom is the second oldest in a family of 11. They’re not all still with us, and those who are live pretty far away and aren’t able to travel long distances for get-togethers any more.

It was a fun weekend. We did all those things families do when they get together - whether they’re a big group, or a small group. We ate too much. We stayed up too late. We told the same stories we tell everytime we’re together. We laughed hysterically, and boo hooed a little.
And we missed the ones who were not there.

It was a perfect weekend, melancholy and nostalgia notwithstanding, and I loved every second of it. But oh laws, did I get tired. Seemed like every time I turned around someone was saying “sweetie, would you bring me a fresh cup ofcoffee/coke/wine/whatever, please.”

At one point during the weekend when I felt as though everyone was well settled,and that they were doing fine at entertaining themselves, and that they all had their beverage of choice, I slipped off to the bedroom to close the door and read. I’m used to a lot of quiet time, and quiet time is in short supply in an itty bitty house with three extra people.

This was just what I needed. I am after all, almost 60! I get tired too you know! But then, you know what? The door opened and peeking around at me was this very short little woman with fluffy white hair, and the sweetest smile and thebrightest eyes, wanting to know if I was O.K. I invited her in and she climbed up on the bed next to me, took my hand and thanked me for having her over for her birthday. And she told me what a good daughter she thought I was.

Next thing I know here comes another woman, this one a little taller, but with the same sweet smile and the same bright eyes - peeking around the door at us,wanting to know if we were O.K. We invited her in and she climbed up on the bed with us. She patted my hand and told me what a good niece she thought Iwas. I put my book away, fluffed up pillows for us all, and asked who might want a fresh cup of coffee.

Quiet time and that book would be there tomorrow when everyone else had gone home. Tomorrow I can go back to being almost 60. Today it feels nice being 6 and being told what a good girl I am.

Kaye Barley

Kaye -- this was lovely, well put, so well put. Loved the way it came full circle! - Rob Walker

TWILIGHT at Midnight Tonight! by DL Larson

If you're a Stephanie Meyers fan, you probably already have your ticket bought and will be standing in line at the theater before suppertime tonight! TWILIGHT has a midnight showing and folks, mostly teen girls and adult women, are anxious to see if the movie will be as good as the book.

It's science-fiction, vampires! Edward and his family live in Washington where the sun doesn't shine all that much. He looks seventeen and attends high school where Bella, a new student who just moved in with her dad, is trying to adjust to her new life. This budding love story has exploded into a series of books, four at the last count.

Here's the scoop on author, Stephanie Meyers:

~ she had a dream and had the foresight to commit her experience to paper.
~ she wasn't a professional writer and nearly gave up because she didn't understand the marketing process of publishing.
~ her family encouraged her to keep trying to get her work published.
~ she didn't know the first thing about queries, proposals or what a literary
agent is, or what they are needed for.
~ she sent her ideas out anyway. (to 15 top houses I believe)
~ someone noticed her work and asked for more!
~ they asked for a three book contract!

So, how does that affect us as writers? It means the American dream is still alive! We too can continue to dream, commit our thoughts to paper and, and .... work hard to get recognized!!!!! We don't need to have all the answers before we step into the publishing world. We just need a great story and the guts to show it to others. It always comes back to that.

Remember show and tell at school? Some kids were horrible at showing what they brought, no matter how intriguing the object was, while others could bring a dirty rock and make it seem the most interesting possession. The delivery was the secret to success. And so it is still when dealing with the publishing world. You gotta wanna! Gotta deliver the goods! Gotta believe in yourself! and ... Gotta have what others want! (I'm talking about a good story here:)

And of course I know about Stephanie Meyers TWILIGHT because I'm a children's librarian!! TWILIGHT is a best-selling YA book! (Young Adult for you nonlibrary type folks) I know all about "Opening Night" because it was on the front section of last night's paper! duh! And I went to the Stephanie Meyers you tube sight. (did I spell that right?)

And if you happen to be a young man, you might want to buy a ticket for tonight's showing, or read the book; for heavens sake, do something to get involved with all the hub-bub! Talk about a great conversation starter! Young women everywhere will be soooooo impressed.

Enough with the match-making. I can do no more here.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: sorry I didn't post an excerpt from one of my WIP, but I wanted to share this with you instead. So ... I'll keep in mind I owe everyone a WIP tidbit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Girl of My Dreams by Morgan Mandel Excerpt

Since a lot of us are doing excerpts, I may as well add one to the mix. There's an excerpt from my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams.


Groaning, Hollywood producer Blake Caldwell brushed a strand of black hair from his eyes. The latest news from his assistant, Jillian Baker, was grim. Scores of contestants from his premier television show had rushed from rehearsal and were crammed into the ladies room upchucking.

“I’ve called an ambulance. Do you want me to go with them?” she asked.

Her voice was muffled. He could hear toilets flushing in the background, along with other unmentionable sounds he didn’t care to identify.

“Can you give me a head count? How many are left?”

“Wait a minute. I’ll check.”

Blake’s heart pounded. His shirt stuck to his back as he awaited the verdict. A few days ago, before the power outages, he’d had time to spare, but now he was up against the wall. It was two hours before the audience shoot. The stage and script were set for twenty-five contestants. Could he deliver them?

“Twenty-six are gone between the originals and alternates,” was the answer.

Fresh perspiration sprang to Blake’s forehead. “We’re one short. We’ve got to do something.”
The ratings were down. Mecca was dying. It could not survive another season without a hit. Neither could he. He’d sunk time, money and effort into this project. The boys upstairs had given it a go, only if he’d produce and direct it. This was his chance to prove he could make it without the connections of his actress-mother Barbara Branton. A foul-up would turn him into a has-been at the age of thirty.

“Blake, should I go with them?” Jillian asked again.
Her voice was alert and in crisis mode.

“You’re not a doctor. I need you here. We have a show to run.”
Almost as soon as he’d hung up, he found Jillian standing before him. Through all the commotion, her hair was still pushed back from her face and her glasses perched firmly on her nose. He had to hand it to her for keeping her cool.

“I’ve called food management and alerted them of the situation. They’ve closed the cafeteria,” she said.

“Good. We don’t need anyone else sick. The coordinators were hit, too. What about the survivors?”

“They’re already in makeup.”'

Blake rubbed his chin. “Fine. Now, all we need is number twenty-five.”

Thinking, he stared straight ahead. He had a feeling the answer was right in front of his nose, if he could only see it. His loyal assistant stood at attention, ready to spring into action. Hard-working, intuitive, creative, Jillian was a miracle worker. She always came through for him, but this time he couldn’t fault her if she failed.

A gleam flashed in her eyes. “I’ll do it. I’ve read the routine. It’s only one episode. He won’t pick me. Then I’ll be through.”

He stared at Jillian. She wasn’t as striking as his hand-picked contestants or their twin-like alternates, but certainly she was no dog. Sure, her suit was circa 1980 and her shoes looked like they could stick out of the bottom of a nun’s habit, if nuns wore habits any more. Okay, so Jillian wasn’t the world’s greatest dresser. Wardrobe could fix that. She had a certain charm, was over twenty-one and legal. Ditch the Coke-bottle glasses, pat on some makeup and she’d pass. But…

“It won’t work. For one thing, there’s the employment clause. Mecca employees can’t enter.” Blake stood up. “I don’t have time to round up another contestant. Can you handle it? Just grab a good-looking, legal-aged girl from the lot. Give her the quick sell. Play up the part about hooking a millionaire. We’ll dummy down the routine, stick her last in line and let her take her cue from the others. Can I count on you?”

“You’ll have your contestant,” she said.

Something a bit off kilter flickered behind her glasses, then disappeared. Blake didn’t have time to analyze it. He had a show to run.

If you enjoyed this excerpt and want more, here are the buy links:


Hard Shell Word Factory:

Monday, November 17, 2008

My turn! Excerpt

Debra posted her WIP ... what a great idea!! So I'm going to copyright, er, copy her. Here's the beginning of my WIP, "The Adventures of Guy ... to hell and back."

Here goes:

“Did you know that there’s a plastic island in the Pacific Ocean?” Knob asked the checkout girl conversationally.

The girl had multi-colored hair, black lipstick, a bunch of piercings and … until Knob said something to her … a lidded look of boredom.

“Um,” she said, almost startled out of her teenagerism.

“Yeah,” I snickered, sliding a Snickers on the conveyer belt, “Ken and Barbie are its King and Queen.”

Behind me, Thurman was watching a commercial on a small television mounted next to the candy display. “They’ll put a television anywhere nowadays,” he muttered.

Knob looked back at me with the ‘teacher-look’ that he must have picked up during his three years as a college sophomore, “Seriously, Guy. There’s a plastic island about twice the size of Texas floating in the Pacific.”

“Um,” the checkout girl shot a nervous glance at the customers beginning to line up.

Thurman tore his eyes from the television and frowned, “A plastic island? I’ve never heard of that.”

“That’s because they don’t want you to know,” Knob said.


“Yeah, they.”

“Who’s they?”

“They, are, um…you know…”


Knob turned back to the Crayola-haired girl, “Yes?”

“Sir. All I needed to know was paper or plastic.”

“Oh, that. Neither. Give me one of those recyclable bags, okay?”

As we pulled away from the grocery store in the Quest Mobile, an old Town Car limo that Knob picked up for five hundred bucks plus a thousand dollars in interest, Thurman asked, “So tell me some more about this plastic island.”

“There’s no plastic island,” I sneered.

Knob navigated around a pothole and shot me a look. Swish, no rim.

After a moment he continued, “Actually, it’s been pretty documented. There’s a huge sludge-like island weighing millions of tons floating in the middle of the Pacific. It’s caused by plastic straws, bottles and other trash that rain washes from the storm drains in California and Japan into the harbors, which then float out to sea collecting where the trade winds converge. The sun’s UV rays break the plastic down into little pieces. Even worse, fish eat the pieces, so it all comes back to us in the form of our food.”

“Nice monologue, Knob,” I said.

“So we’re eating plastic fish?” Thurman asked.

“I’ve heard about that,” a voice said from the back of the car.

We all would have jumped … but didn’t … mostly because our last dose of caffeine was over an hour ago. That, and it’s kinda hard to jump while sitting in a limo. Instead we just kind of jerked like we’d been carpet shocked.

“Who …?”

“Huh …?”

“What …?”

“It’s me,” the voice said.

“Who’s me?” Knob demanded, viciously yanking the wheel to miss another pothole. His passengers rolled right like marbles in a box.


He swerved again. We marbles rolled to the left.


The car righted itself.

“Me … Seth,” Seth said.

Seth’s my little marble, er, brother. He’s not so bad for a little brother, so we let him hang around.

Knob grinned, “Oh, yeah. I forgot you were in here.”

“I was chilling to my i-Pod,” Seth said.

Another violent swerve and everyone’s marbles rolled again.

“What the heck is it with these pot holes?” Knob grumbled as he fought with the wheel.

“I can tell you about that, too,” Seth said.

“About what?” Knob asked.

“The potholes.”

“What about the potholes?” Thurman asked.

“I know why they’re there,” Seth was busy dialing up a new song on the I-Pod.

“Um, because of freezing and thawing and stuff like that, right?” Knob asked.

“Right. That’s how they happen. But the reason they didn’t get patched up is because patches are made from petroleum products,” Seth said.

“So?” Knob asked.

“So because of the price of oil it’s getting too expensive to fix potholes.”

Knob gave him a look through the rearview mirror, “Where do you learn this stuff?”

Seth shrugged, “Civics class.”

“ I always wanted to take one of those classes,” Knob mused.

“You did take Civics … three times,” I said.

“Oh, no wonder …”


The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment
Missing (coming Feb 09)
Fang Face (coming Aug 09)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Today I thought I'd share an excerpt of my WIP. I've been pretty good with my November goal of writing every day. (Some days it's only a line or two and I feel like I'm cheating, but at least it's something!)

The story I'm working on is about Zach and Jessica. (Some of you may remember Zach from "This Time for Always".) This particular scene is their first kiss. Enjoy!

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

Until next time, Happy Reading! (Oh, I'll be out of town next weekend, so I'll either be posting later in the day or not at all...but I'll try to get something to you.) I'll also be guest blogging at Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction on Friday, so be sure to pop in and say hello!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Buying Books by Margot Justes

Last week I read a blog-wish I could remember where-about the status of publishing. It is in trouble just like the rest of the businesses around the world.

The author of the above mentioned blog simply stated that if we each bought a book for this holiday season, we would have a tremendous impact on the publishing world and the domino effect of the economy-all the people in the periphery-from the printer to the stocker to ink and paper manufacturers-you get the drift.

I, for one think it is an excellent idea and have already done more than my share. My family loves to read, so it was a no brainer, I buy books.

For my grandchildren I always buy seasonal and holiday books, I think it makes the holiday that much more special. The kids see a celebration through different set of eyes.

So when you’re ready to do your shopping think about that book purchase, for yourself, family, friend or just a grab bag. Don’t forget Toys For Tots-books make great gifts.

On another exciting note A Hotel in Paris in now available in the Kindle format at Amazon-link to follow soon.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ever Write a 500 Word Story? Think It's Easy? By Robert W. Walker

Some time back a friend, who was putting together an anthology asked me if I would contribute. It was a horror anthology, so the story had to have a monster in it or some truly scary psychological thrills, or simply be a hoot, a laugh fest. Much of horror walks a tightrope and on one side is fright, the other side hilarity.

In fact, there is a long and noble tradition of humor linked to horror, and the best purveyor of such a seemingly wild mix was none other than the author of Psycho, Robert Bloch, whose short works are classic. You might call Bloch the Mark Twain of horror writing, as the man could make your cry, start, and laugh in the same paragraph.

Another great author of the sort who himself gets a good belly laugh at your goose bumps is Richard Matheson. These two men have been among my favorite authors forever.

Getting back to my friend who wanted a frightful story from me, he added, “And oh yeah, it has to be 500 words.” To which I replied, “You mean 5000, don’t you?” His response, “No, five hundred. Every story in the anthology must be kept to five hundred words. Short enough to read during a bathroom sitting.”

The gauntlet was thrown down, and I love a challenge; in fact, if an editor anywhere knew—just knew the secret—that when challenged by an idea, I go nuts and I must—absolutely must take on said challenge. My four novels in my DECOY series came by way of an editor’s challenge: Can you…in three sentences, she challenged me to create a series character that became Lanark, a Chicago Decoy cop and actor par excellence.

But this…five hundred words? Was it possible? It took rewrite afte rewrite when the story came in at 750 words. I believed after about the tenth rewrite there was nothing more that could come out if I wished to maintain the integrity of the story, but with the editor’s help on the final-final draft, I finally managed a five hundred word story, and I entitled it 500 words. By way of demonstrating a short-short-short story, I am herewith going to share Five Hundred Words with you, and I hope you know that I became a better writer learning to cut, then cut, then cut more, and when I thought nothing more could be cut, I remained open to someone else adding cuts. I learned so much writing this little story you have here:

500 Words
by Robert W. Walker

“In writing…500 words, Alfred! Now regale us.”
“The whole wretched story, yes. What precipitated Charlene’s murder,” asked Detective Kyle Begum.
“Self-defense,” bitched Alfred.
Begum, fed up, went for snacks. “Right back.”
With one hand to write, the other handcuffed to a bolted table, Alfred glanced at Detective Dick Trent. “She-bitch outta hell, cannibalized spleens and livers.”
Trent grumbled, “Write it.”
“Easy for you to say. When was last time you wrote 500 freaking words!
Look, Charlene became this godawful she-bitch. Whataya do when a wife becomes a were-dog and attacks you in the living room? Look, you want it from the beginning, it’s gonna require a 1000 words, sir.”
“500 ‘s all the computer can handle,” muttered Trent. “Just the facts.”
“Shit hit the fan when I accidentally broke her neon filigree-framed painting.”
“ Christ as Elvis; last supper at Graceland?”
“You saw it? Charlene insisted the thing proved the efficacy of the DaVinci Code.”
“—divinely guided, she said, but surely no way Jesus looked like Elvis.”
“And I don’t believe Jesus slept with a woman or sported sideburns.”
“Sideburns? Civil War,” Trent muttered. “Long after JC.”
“And long before Elvis.”
“Just write it.”
Trent had claimed that he and Begum had ‘heard it all before’. Nothing new under the precinct sun. “Put it on paper. Write….”
“Never was much of a writer,” Alfred offered.
“We found your wife’s body torn to shreds and smeared with salsa. Write!”
“I loved Charlene, but she was gonna kill me.”
“Yeah…we know…love is murder. Now, Alfred, write it!”

* * * * *

Detective Lyle Begun entered pissed that Trent didn’t open the door when he kicked at it. Begum had his hands full when he entered Interrogation Room #4. The cokes and chips went flying the moment he realized Alfred had somehow chewed off his cuffed hand and left it dangling, still in the cuff at the table. Blood and Trent’s body everywhere in pieces filled Begum’s vision, when suddenly the werewolf dropped from the ceiling overhead and onto him.
“Your turn now, Begum— take a seat!” the werewolf ordered, his face fierce, fangs bare, claws extended. Begum instinctively went for his gun, but the creature’s massive paw clamped over his hand and holster. “Go ahead, Begum, make my day.”
“What….what do you want from me? Safe escort? OK, OK…we’re outta here. Money, ransom? You got it. My wife? Take her. What?”
“Sit down at the table Begum.”
“I didn’t say shit.” The wereman that Alfred Holmes had become slapped the pencil and paper before Begum where he sat now at the bloodied table and chair. Trent’s blood. It was awful and the room reeked of it.
“What do you want from me?” asked Begum.
“Not much, but your buddy Trent couldn’t cut it.”
Begum begged him now. “What is it you want?”
“Just five hundred words.”

SO that’s it! Lots of fun around the blood and guts. Why humor and horror work in tandem like a good vaudville act, I don’t know. Will leave that to the psychiatrists.

Hope you enjoyed the story and perhaps, if you too write, you see the value of brevity. There does exist an old book out there you might find on a library shelf near you entitled How To Be Brief which I read as a kid. It didn’t take, to be sure, as my novels often run way past the number of words the contract called for, but I do recall it was great advice.

Not too long ago, I had to rewrite City for Ransom for HarperColllins down from 140,000 words back to the contract agreement of 90,000. We finally settled on 100,000 after three—count them—three consecutive rewrites after the many rewrites already done! Three in a row nonstop. Nonstop cutting, cutting, cutting. Is there any wonder that my editorial services are called The Knife Services?

This has been fun. Have fun with it, enjoy life and writing and reading,

Rob Walker -
for Dead On, Dead On artwork, and Knife Services

A Juggling Act for the Holidays! by DL Larson

When I look at my calendar I inwardly groan. I have too much to do and too little time to accomplish all that is scheduled. And I don't have 'Writing time' penciled in to any part of the day. I've never written time into my day, but I've always made time despite what was on the calendar. But with the holiday season upon us, I fear if I don't officially set aside writing time, I won't make the effort to put words to paper.

I've been pondering, what is different this year? I refuse to blame my frassled feeling on the aging process which ultimately leans toward the lack of energy level to complete a task in a timely fashion. No, it couldn't possibly be that I'm getting old. Must be something else.

Hmmm, I'm thinking here. Work! Yes, my schedule at the library is overly crowded with kiddy visits and holiday workshops, but then we have a busy season every year. And I have a wonderful new high school employee bubbling with enthusiasm which in turn feeds my eagerness to get involved with our programs offered. So I can't blame my frayed state of mind on work.

My family is disjointed right now. Geographically speaking. But otherwise we are doing fine. We may have over-scheduled a tad bit. This weekend we are off to see 'Wicked!" My third time for seeing it, but my granddaughters first time! Can't wait. We'll take the train into the city, have an early lunch and then show time. The next weekend we're back to the city for a weekend of shopping, eating at fabulous restaurants and we have tickets for "Dirty Dancing!" Big grin here!!! My sister and I take our daughters on a weekend get-away every year. It's tradition! One I hope we never have to give up. The following week my sister has surgery, not such a fun part of my calendar, but I wouldn't miss being there for her. And then comes Thanksgiving and on to December.

This time of year can be hectic, but now that I have had a few moments to think about my schedule, I also remember what I've done in the past to combat fatigue and the over wrought feeling of juggling too many things at once. I paced myself and I offer that suggestion to you too. Fretting never helps anyone, so don't go there. Instead make a plan that includes your writing time. If you usually spend two hours a day with your writing, trim it back but don't ignore it. I've learned the hard way when I push my work aside, I start to feel anxious, irritated even, and that sloshes over into other areas of my life. I'm not my cheerful self if I don't keep my priorities in order.

When I make writing a priority it's amazing how many other people accept and respect my decision. It frees me to be myself. Weird, I know, but every year I relearn if I'm true to myself, other commitments and obligations willingly take a backseat and it's okay. Because when I turn to those duties, I'm clear-headed, not fretting about plots and twists in some dialogue, but am able and ready to be a part of whatever holiday task is at hand.

Another thing I do this time of year, well, many times through out the year as well, is: use my crockpot! Instead of reaching for the phone to order take-out after a busy day, try a home cooked meal. The feeling of satisfaction can't be beat. All it takes is a few minutes of morning time to appease a hungry family at the end of the day. Here's a few recipes to try:

Hearty Beef Stew: (makes 8 servings)
5 cups cut up fresh veggies ~ carrots, clery, onion, and potatoes
2 lbs. beef stew meat - cut in 1 inch cubes (can usually buy it this way)
1 pkg. McCormick's slow cooker hearty beef stew seasoning
1 1/3 cups water

Place beef and veggies in crock pot; mix seasoning with water and pour over meat and veggies. Cook 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH. Stir before serving.
And guess what? It's best if the lid is not removed while cooking!

Cheesy Crock Pot Chicken
6 chicken breasts -boneless and skinless
salt/pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup

Rinse chicken and sprinkle with spices. Mix undiluted soups together and pour over chicken in the crock pot. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice or noodles.

And no, I don't think I'm Julia Childs or some other famous chef. But again, planning a day can make life so much less complicated. If I don't have to worry about some of those everyday chores, life is sweeter and more productive.

So before the season shines down on with that headbeam kind of glare, take a few precautions and get organized. Juggling is much easier with a well thought out plan!

If you have any time-saving techniques for the holidays, now's a great time to share them with us here at Acme Authors.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's my great pleasure to introduce this week's Man of Mystery, Sam Reaves. He's not only a great author, but also a really nice guy.

Sam Reaves has written seven Chicago-based crime novels, including the Cooper MacLeish series, the Dooley series and the forthcoming stand-alone Mean Town Blues.

In some circles, he's known as Dominic Martell. Under that pseudonym, he penned a European-based suspense trilogy. Although he's traveled widely in Europe and the Middle East, he's lived in the Chicago area most of his life. Besides being an author, he's also worked as a teacher and a translator.

Amazon link for Sam's book:

And now, I give you Sam Reaves.

Genre fiction is all about fantasy fulfillment. Maybe that’s what separates it from literary fiction. I’ll never concede that the essential difference is the quality of the writing—a lot of genre fiction is exquisitely written, even if more of it is not. Genre fiction can certainly display all the literary virtues, even if those virtues are not the point. And there’s no sharp line between genre and literary fiction. Isn’t Wuthering Heights a romance novel? And doesn’t, say, Mystic River have some claim to literary seriousness?

But if the mission of literary fiction is to tease the drama out of everyday life, genre fiction has to have that element of fantasy fulfillment. It’s obvious with romance novels and sci-fi/fantasy, but crime fiction relies on it, too. In a traditional mystery, justice is always served in the end. Now there’s a fantasy for you—that’s an element notably lacking in real life. But even the darker, less formulaic modern crime novel generally serves some fantasy in the reader’s psyche. Some of us wish we were tough guys, with a .38 in the shoulder holster and a wicked left hook. Some of us wish we were daring enough to pull off a big-time heist or a clever con. And did you ever notice how few crime novels involve protagonists in stable relationships? Who doesn’t like to dream of casual sex without ensuing real-life complications?

And then there’s revenge. From The Count of Monte Cristo on, rough justice has been a favorite topic of crime writers. In real life, the system fails us. Killers go free, thieves attain high office, stalkers ignore orders of protection. Who hasn’t fantasized about taking justice into his or her own hands?

I know I have. But a good crime novel, unlike a fantasy novel, has to at least nod at reality. Crime fiction is rooted in the real world. So a simple fantasy about shooting a stalker doesn’t make a crime novel. Shooting a stalker and finding out that your troubles have only begun is something to build a novel around.

That’s more or less how my new novel Mean Town Blues came about. It started with a simple idea: what if you had a friend who was being stalked, the cops could do nothing, and you just took care of it by taking out the stalker? You’d have to be a certain type of person to do that—say a just-discharged infantryman brutalized by a tough tour in Iraq. And you’d quickly find out that the cops are not stupid. But just shooting the stalker does not make a novel. What if you shot him only to find out you’d killed an organized crime figure and set off a mob war? Now we’ve got complications galore.

That’s the answer to the eternal question, “Where do you get your ideas?” You start with a fantasy. You give it a twist. And then you just watch what happens...

That’s genre fiction, and that’s why people like it.


Sam's website:
Sam's blog:
Amazon link for Sam's book:

We invite you to leave a comment or question below for Sam about ideas, fantasies, or whatever you like.

Why we SHOULD Honor Our Veterans

I'm in the process of helping judge the entries for the Patriot's Pen Essay Contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). I'm a member of my local chapter due to my two tours in The Republic of South Korea in the mid 1980's. Here's the link for this contest and while this years contest is closed, this is an annual contest that all middle school students really should enter. The link also provides information on other contests such as the Voice of Democracy for High School students.

As you would expect there are some interesting entries given the grade level of the participants but I have to take a moment and mention just how impressed I am with quite a few of the entries and the insight that these young people have as to why we should honor our veterans which is the theme of the contest. I want to say a great big thanks to all the students and teachers who put so much energy and attention into the essays that were submitted.

I recently gave a speech at a local middle school and when I introduced myself I shared with the students that there are many heros in society and my first heros were my teachers starting with kindergarten. I even remember most of their names. The reasons they're my heros are simple. They showed me attention and cared about my future while my parents did not. I've mentioned in previous posts that I grew up rough and tough in L.A. but that's mostly because of the chronic dysfuncitonal family from whence I came. In fact, today my parents - especially my father - would most likely serve jail time for what they did to their children.

So, on this Veterans Day I'd like to take a moment and say a great big thanks to all my teachers and to all the teachers out there who continue to touch a child's life. I believe that teachers have a very tough and challenging job and I don't think it's getting any easier.

So back to our veterans. Well, as I told the middle school class last week, the most important way to honor all veterans is to be an informed citizen and vote. You've also seen my posts about voting and I stand firm on my assertion that voting is the single most important effort any citizen can make to strengthen our democracy. Don't give into complacency and start chanting the mantra that your vote doesn't count. Of course it does! Change your mantra to "My vote counts!" and exercise it freely. If you don't exercise your right to vote then absolutely your vote doesn't count - you've just lived up to your mantra by not voting. Don't know much about the candidates then do your research. Read papers, talk to people, have a discussion along the way and you will know something about the candidates regardless the election. If military personnel - past, present and future - can leave their families to fight for their country then everyone can make the effort to vote.

Why should we honor our veterans? Take a moment and think about that question and explore your answers. But I want you to keep something in mind - politicians start wars, the military doesn't. The decision to go to war is not made by the military, it's made by the politicians who are the only ones that have the power to make the funding and deployment decisions to start a war on any level. By the time the military as a whole becomes involved, whether or not the military SHOULD go is almost a mute point. We had a saying in the military - "Ours is not to question why. Ours is but to do or die." So, honor our veterans, especially future ones by voting for politicians who will make the best decisions when it comes to going to war.

Happy Veterans Day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Signed books and all that stuff

On one of my author forums the subject came up of politics.

Ha, ha, ha !

No, we're all sick of politics. Let's move past the whole Republican, Democrat, Green, Independent and Left-Handed vs. Right-Handed schisms and talk about something way more important.

Signed books.

Yeah, signed books.

What is more special for a reader than actually owning a book that has a personal transcription from his favorite author?

I've got a small collection of such treasured books ... signed books by Lee Childs, Barry Eisler, Dave Barry, Garrison Keiller, Christopher Moore and ... um more ...

Oh, and my buddy Robert Walker and my friends on Acme Authors ... sorry, can't forget you.

Anyway, the subject came up today because as authors, we want to do the same thing for our readers. Get them books ... actually, they buy the books (grin) ... and then we deface the books in a way that would have gotten us in big trouble in grade school.

Yep, we get to scrawl in the books. Even better, someone will treasure our scrawl.

I love to sign my books ... try to write something witty and pithy inside ... try to spell their names right (do you know how many ways there are to spell Cathy or Kathy ... Ally or Allie ... Loren or Lauren ... John or Jon ... or Erin or Heron ... Norm or Knorm ...

Besides that little stress, give me a pen ... give me a book (preferably one of mine), and I'm thrilled to mark it up.

But there are only so many events that I can go to, and with the price of gas and travel and stuff nowadays, it's even harder to get around. And I know that some of my readers are in other states, and it's not very likely that I'll get out to their neck in the woods.

So the topic came up. How can we make signed books available to our readers?

For myself, I don't have an answer to this, but I'm sorta working on a couple things. My preference would be to find a nice little Indie bookseller near to my house who would be willing to accept Internet orders, stocking a bunch of my books, and handling the whole 'taking payment,' packaging and shipping thing.

I found one that plans on doing it eventually, but not yet. Another listened politely, but didn't seem all that interested.

Where does this leave me?

I don't really want to give out my home address and take payments directly, because this, well, means that I give out my home address. I mean, I love my readers, but I don't want any stalkers or anything. And I mean stalkers in the very best way ... like they bring me beer and stuff ... but I don't drink that much beer.

Plus, I don't take credit cards, so the options would be cash and checks. Cash I like, but checks can be, um, problematical. Hey, things are tough nowadays .. thanks to our fun little buddy George Bush and friends.

Oops, sorry, I said I wouldn't be political.

My website server has Paypal options, but here I am again, packing and mailing and stuff. Ask my wife, I am not good at packing. I've sent my books to a few people and I hear grumbling about how much tape I use ... I like tape.

Anyway, the bottom line is ... I'm going to find a way to sell autographed books by mail. It's going to happen one way or another by the time my next book comes out next year.

So if you're looking for an autographed copy of either of my Adventures of Guy books, or Fang Face, my upcoming YA humor/vampire book, fear not ... it's going to happen. Sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned.


Fang Face (coming Aug. 2009)
The Adventures of Guy ...written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ...more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Revisiting Goals

Hey All,

A couple months ago when I was in my Olympic swing, I posted about the importance of making goals. November is shaping up to be a goal-setting month for me, so I thought I'd revisit the importance of setting goals by sharing my current goals with you.

First, I've signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The overall goal here is to write 50,000 words in the month of November, essentially an entire book. When you sign up you're given a page where you can post information about yourself and your book, acquire writing buddies (If you're participating and want to add me as a buddy, I'm under debrastjohn.), and keep track of your word count. Now, in all honesty, I don't know if I'll make the entire 50,000 words. BUT, the concept has encouraged me to set a personal goal of writing something (some part of my mss) every day in the month of November.

You might be saying, big deal, you're a writer, wouldn't you do that anyway?

Nope. There are times I go days, weeks, months without getting anything down. So this has been good for me. And as we're about a third of the way through the month, I can proudly say that so far I'm on track. I've written something on my current manuscript every day this month. Some days I get on the computer. Some days I scribble on a pad of paper and transfer it later. But I'm writing. I'm getting somewhere. My word count is growing (3,929 so far this month). And that's how books get written. So even if I don't make that 50,000 word goal, I'll know that I've accomplished something. And that makes me feel pretty darn good!

Second, I'm following Jeannie Ruesch's series on marketing and promotion over at her Happy Endings Blog. All month long she's posting great tips and strategies for setting goals, promotion, and marketing yourself. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking it out.

And for now, those goals are enough to keep me going. Baby steps. I always find that if I try to take on too much, nothing gets done. But breaking things down into smaller steps makes things more manageable. I can see my progress, rather than seeing my list of things to do grow larger.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Paradigm of Existence by Margot Justes

My blogs are usually light and written so I may keep in touch with readers, writers and maybe a fan or two. This week will be a bit different.

A friend suffered a devastating loss and frankly I don’t know how to help except to be there for her when and if needed.

Often when faced with a tragedy we mourn, that goes without saying, we lose a bit of self and we question the existence of everything; because the loss is so great, so incredibly unimaginable and terrible.

I’m using the royal ‘we’ since it’s easier to do, and I assume most of us go through this period of doubt when faced with horror.

I lean toward the metaphysical aspect of self doubt. Do we exist? Is our reality everyone else’s reality? Is there life after death? Can we and do we face our own mortality? Is it easier to say there is life after death, because we cannot admit the fact that we will have an end just as we did a beginning? How do we acknowledge the unknown, that possibility of more?

It’s a huge universe and getting bigger with every scientific discovery that allows us to see more.

So maybe, to make our losses seem easier, we do accept the theory that our soul survives and lives on, or that we reincarnate and become another being. Hopefully we have learned enough in this life to become better in the next. So the soul (however that is defined) of our loved ones are going through the process of change rather than the finality of death. In other words, the distinct possibility maybe there is more.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The ADDiction of the ELection, Oh My! by Robert W. Walker

When did you first discover the George Foreman Grill? I bet it was on a TV ad. We are bombarded with ads and political pundits and election results and we get so much information from PSMs to Dancing with the Stars through the big and the small screens; as if TV was not enough of a monster gobbling up our time and our brains in many instances, now we have screens on our hips, on our wrists, on our phones, on the inside of our eyelids. OK that last was a horrid exaggeration but who knows, maybe the next gadget will be a screen we can slide onto the inner eyelid. Sound like science fiction? So much we are surrounded with now were once Star Trek gizmos.

I must admit for the final run to the White House, the contest between McCain and Obama, I was absolutely addicted. I'd get home from the job and immediately flip through the various channels to see who said what to whom, who did what to whom, who went over the edge, who insulted whom, ahhh the humanity and the soap opera of it all. I was deeply in, watching every hour I could: the left, the right, the middle of the road, as each seemed to have its own network. I couldn't get enough and now that the race is over, there's a hole left in my psyche. I can't
feed the addiction.

Strangely, I am turning back to my favorite TV dramas and comedies to help me soothe and smooth over the wounds of my now unfed addiction, my delirium tremens, my coming down. I am rushing back to House, my favorite show, House kinda reminds me of me if I could only get away with it, he,he,he! Maybe when I reach 70? At 70 Mark Twain tells us a man
has a right to be objectionable.

I rush back to Grey's Anatomy for some mindless fun and relaxation, realizing that so much of Keith Oberman's Countdown had me white-knuckled for an hour! Then the new Rachel Madow show pretty much extended the Countdown to TWO hours! More white-knuckled response from me. Watching the dirt and mud-slinging and nastiness between the two camps was ulcer inducing but addictive at the same time. I was out of control and I knew it. Night sweats and I
would flip over to the Daily Show and Colbert to relax the colon and the knuckles and just laugh out loud at the whole of it.

And I rush to Law and Order, The Fringe, The Eleventh Hour, TrueBlood where the blood and guts of fictional shows seemed tame by comparison to the NEWS and the pundits and yes the RADIO so-called experts (which I would flip to to see what kind of nutsy-ness was coming from that quarter.

But it's over, right? I can relax with my FUN shows now, right?
NO. Now there are factions the laying at the feet of Sarah Palin the entire cause/effect
of why the Republicans lost so dismally, not only the presidential election but so many
seats in the House and the Senate. They're throwing Sarah under the bus!

My God, now I have to turn on Count Down with Oberman, Madow, Daly, Colbert, and flip channels to see if O'Reiley is backing Sarah or changing his tune, as if my life depends upon it! To see what Hanity is saying about the in-fighting over the woman he pretty much swooned over when interviewing Palin.

I gotta get hold of myself; gotta find a Betty Ford type clinic for political airing addiction. I am sure I can't be the only one suffering from this horrid condition.

Can anyone help me? Who am I gonna call? I've given up writing time for this addiction, reading time, research time, time from my clients in my editing service, time to spend with the family watching Family Guy or The Simpsons, and for what?

I was once clean and sober before caught up in the rabidness of this political crapola. I was so carefree before, so normal. Not anymore. This life-long learner has fallen down on the job. The only good thing that has come of it all? I got out to vote and I voted with passion!

How about you?

The great hope for the future is that President Elect Obama has a name that the rest of the world is comfy with, as in China where there is a town named Obama, and in Obi-land, that is Nigeria, and I suspect the Middle East.

In brief, Obama represents something huge on the world stage as the face of a new America on a new day on a new page, and I believe the rest of the world, along with many millions of Americans of every size and stripe, age and color, religious and non-religious. Imagine how every little white girl in America would feel if our new president was President Hillary Clinton today? Now imagine how every little black and white girl in America, along with every little black and white and yellow and brown kid in America is feeling today.

Barney, the White House dog bit a reporter today, no doubt upset with the election results,
and I have run into some humans angry enough to bite as a result of the election, but I believe with all my heart that what happened here is no less important than the day America
beat the British in 1776 for freedom and equality. Perhaps now there is actual freedom and equality on these shores for all Americans.

Finally. And just maybe we can get back to paying homage to the US Constitution or at least READING it and trying desperately to live by its precepts. We're talking a new American day, a new American History, a real turn in the direction my son years ago promised me one day would come.

Thank God for our children and their naive and beautiful thoughts, eh?

Happy Writing all,
Rob Walker - new site, new giveaways!
See DEAD ON cover art, and get your early peek at this Spring release

Take a Chance! by DL Larson

The unusually warm Chicagoland weather has had me itching to play hooky; more than once I felt the urge to stretch out in a lawn chair to read a good book. Too bad my husband put away our patio furniture for the winter. And today, my day off, it's raining! So back to work it is...

When sifting through my few writer's magazines, I noticed several contest deadlines approaching. I know I've mentioned entering contests before, and I'm nudging you again to give it a try.

Here's a few to consider:

~ Silicone Valley RWA's 11th Annual GOTCHA contest
all entries are electronic
It's all about the Hook!
first 15 pages
deadline: Nov. 12, 5:00 pm, PST for details and entry form

~ 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence
sponsor: Southern Magic, Inc.
electronic deadline: Nov. 22, 2008
http://www.southern - for more details

~ Oklahoma RWA
National Reader' Choice Awards 2008
Deadline: DEc. 1, 2008 - for more infomation

~ North Texas RWA
Great Expectations 2009
Deadline: Dec. 28, 2008 - for more information

Already have a book, try one of these:

~ Colorado Romance Writers
Award of Excellence 2009
Entry: your novel
Deadline: January 9, 2009> - for more information
(many have copyright specifications)

~ Phoenix Desert Rose RWA
Golden Quill 2009: published - romance novels
Deadline: January 9, 2009>. - for more information

~ Orange County Chapter
Book Buyers' Best (BBB) Award
Romance novels
Deadline: January 10, 2009>. for more information

In most cases, if you type in the name of the RWA chapter, you will arrive at their home page and can navigate from there to the contest info pages. All entries
have a fee, from $20-30 per entry. But what a good way to invest in your writing career. Most contest judges give feedback on the work they have read. It's a valuable tool and you may learn something others were reluctant to tell you. Or, the better scenario, you may win.

That reminds me of the old story where a man was desperate to win the lotto. Every day he'd check the papers, watch the news for that minute when the numbers flashed. Every day he was disappointed, despondent even. He'd never win. God finally came to him and said, "meet me half way! Buy a ticket!"

Til next time !

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election Day Book Signing By Morgan Mandel

Today, I'm a little late posting, since I had a book signing to do this morning at Barnes and Noble, DePaul Center, Chicago, IL.

The fun thing about that place is it seems like most people going back and forth in the building are on a mission. Many are students or City of Chicago workers, so they're running out the door on breaks, or running in to report to work or class.

Also present are the lunch crowd and other Downtown shoppers. Today, being the day right after the election, some looked kind of tired. Others were searching for any kind of Obama books they could get their hands on. Others were asking for newspapers, which were already sold out.

Anyway, I had a great time observing and talking to customers, as well as Richard from Barnes and Noble who made sure I got a prime spot right in front of the Best Sellers, as well as a yummy strawberry frapuccino.

Despite the heavy competition from the President-Elect's books, I did manage to do quite well selling my mystery, Two Wrongs, and my romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams. I also unloaded lots of bookmarks. I came home with my carrying case much lighter, which I was thankful about.

For my before post about the booksigning, see my daily blog at:

For my new group mystery blogspot, come on over to:

For a great editing blogspot, check out:

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Although this blog is going to show up in order - on Tuesday - I'm actually writing it on Friday. Tuesday was something else and I think we all can understand why I was distracted.

The word "Historic" has been thrown around quite a bit lately and it is an appropriate word for what this country and the world has been experiencing and witnessing lately. But the most historic, even uplifting part of Tuesday for me was how many people turned out to vote, especially young people. As a veteran, I was deeply touched by so many Americans who did everything they could to make sure they exercised their right to vote. To me, this effort is a fundamental aspect of a democracy, for without this type of energy, democracy itself is threatened.

Showcased on various news programs were a number of people who had to confront dibilitating odds of even getting to the polls, let alone casting their vote. One in particular stuck with me and I will never forget it. A ninety something year old woman who JUST became a United States Citizen and who has advanced Parkinson's disease came out to vote. An immigrant from South America, she did something that so many natural citizens of this country take for granted -- she exercised her right to vote and let her voice be heard. Ladies and Gentlemen, if she can come out to vote then there is no excuse for the rest of us not doing so now and in the future.

I don't ask people who they vote for, sometimes it's obvious, but what I do ask is if they actually voted. To me that's putting your money where your mouth is. For those of you who just don't bother to vote, then stop complaining. If you can't take the time to make an effort to propel change by voting, then stop wasting everyone's time by complaining.

I believe voting is each persons effort in being part of the solution and not part of the problem, but like many, many solutions -- especially the long-lasting ones -- they often take time to be effective. We have become a society of short-attention spans and impatience and one of the changes I'm hoping to see is a return to cooperative efforts to help us all move forward. After all, isn't that we tell our children to do?

To everyone who voted - regardless of how you voted - I say thank you. You've made this veteran very happy.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blatant Self-Promotion ... yep, all about ME!!

I had last Monday off so that you guys could all read cool stuff by Austin Camacho. I'm sure you all enjoyed it as much as I.

Speaking of me and myself ... I, of course, spent the time productively and diligently working on my next book.

Hah, I'm lying, of course. I watched Monday Night Football.

Anyway, I didn't have anything to write tonight ... heh, lying again.

No, actually, I'm not lying, I'm not going to write today. I'm going to point y'all at a really cool interview that Billie Williams of Manic Readers inflicted on me, ... er, ... gave to me, ... er, ... interviewed ... uh...

Here's a slice:

The reason you find the humor in everyday life is because you examine it. Did you always write humor? If not, what did you write before humor? What genre haven't you tried that you would like to write? (Though I can't imagine that, I'm sure if you wanted to try something that you wouldn't have already done it.)

Yeah, humor's my thing. Let's see. I wrote a horror book ... didn't sell. Then I wrote a kidnapping thriller ... didn't sell. But don't tell anyone. (Wait... I just did). I didn't mention above ... mostly because I knew I'd mention here below ... that I write an award-winning humor/business column for a credit magazine. The subject of construction law is so dry that the Sahara would weep, so I spice up the articles by making them fun and breezy; and I pick on attorneys for their bad spelling and for being poo-poo heads. Well, a few people noticed and they sent me emails and money, not money ... anyway, they asked me to keep doing it. So I wrote a funny book where attorneys, telemarketers and Grand Prix drivers are the bad guys.

Fang Face is due out in 2009 - do you dare give us a sneak peek? I'm intrigued by the idea of "a funny vampire book" to use your own words.

I’m all a-trembly with excitement about it! Most writers just gloss over all of the funny things that can happen with vampires. Not me. The premise is that a teenaged girl … Erin, gets bitten by a vampire … twice. It takes three bites to turn her all the way. So her parents and sister go, “Nuh-uh, we’re not going to let her to over to the Dark Side.” So they start wearing garlic necklaces and making blood smoothies and stuff. Meanwhile, as she becomes more vamp, her fangs grow in (messing up her braces), she gets more Goth-like, darker, prettier. The guys at school, of course, start noticing … so do the girls. But here’s the kicker. Erin’s becoming so pretty, more than pretty …but she can’t see her reflection. Bummer. The book offers sympathy to vampires that you might not see in another book, like how important a clean neck is to good vampire hygiene. There’s a lot of other stuff, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

There's a lot more, too much for here, so go check out the entire interview:

(okay, I'm not very tech savvy, so do one of the three):

1) If the link is live, click this ...

2) If the link doesn't work, cut and past the link onto your browser.

3) If 1 and 2 don't work, go to - go to the 'authors' drop down menu - choose 'interviews' - then pick "Norm Cowie October 27, 2008" (easier than it sounds)

4) Try 1,2 and 3.. .and if they don't work, well, turn on Monday Night Football

A fun interview ... so I hope you check it out.


Fang Face (young adult - coming 2009)
The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment
Missing (coming 2009)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time of My Life

Okay, step into your time machine and head back to the eighties. Now remember heading into the theater and seeing "Dirty Dancing" for the first time. Remember that heart pounding, feet tapping, pulse racing, shivery sensation you had when it was over? How about the first time you saw it on VHS? Or DVD when that revolution came about? The feelings never changed, no matter how many times you saw it. The anticipation, the excitement, the feeling of being there.

Now it's moved on to its latest incarnation. Yesterday, my mom, my sister, and I went to see "Dirty Dancing...The Classic Story on Stage". Let me tell you, those feelings are STILL there. And seeing it live somehow increases them tenfold. (Of course it doesn't hurt that the guy playing Johnny Castle is HOT and he has the sexiest accent - Australian, I believe...yum, yum, yum.)

The notes in the program guide say that the creator wanted to move beyond the 2D experience you have while watching a movie on a screen and really bring the story to life. Make you feel a part of entire 3D experience. It worked. It takes you to all of the things you loved about the original movie and adds more to it. You really feel like you're right there at Kellerman's, dancing, crying, loving right along with the characters.

It got me to thinking, (After I came down - well as far as I'm going to come for now -from my excited, shivery, heart-pounding high and could think again!) As writers, isn't this what we're trying to do? Bring our characters and our stories to life. So that people can not only read about them, but EXPERIENCE them. Cry with them, laugh with them, love with them.

I've been hooked on this great set of books lately, (I've probably mentioned them before...because I'm a little obsessed.) The "Twilight" series by Stephenie Meyer. Talk about grabbing you from the get-go and sucking you into the story and the world and the characters she's created. I feel like Bella Swan and Edward Cullen could walk into my house at any moment, she's created them so vividly. I finished reading the books a couple of weeks ago, and the story is still in my head. The characters won't let me go.

I can only aspire to create a story like that. Something that people will remember and take with them long after they close the cover of the book. Although I will brag a little and say that people have commented to me that they really like Sharlie and Logan from "This Time for Always". And many have asked for Zach's story - I'm working on it!

And although I haven't had any offers for stage productions of my work (yet!), I am taking my show on the road, so to speak. This week I was honored to guest blog at Morgan Mandel's Blogspot. I have other spots coming up as well. In November I'll be at Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction, then in December I'll be at Jenny Gilliam's, and in January I'll be at Alisha Paige's. So I'm getting out there. Trying to make myself a bit more 3D.

And, I was thrilled that "Always" won the Reader's Pick of the month at Jennette Green's Blogspot this past week. Thanks to everyone who voted.

The next time you pick up a book, don't just read it. Imerse yourself in it. The experience will be well worth it!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!