Sunday, May 31, 2009

Busy Bees

Hey All,

Sorry for the late post today. It's been a busy weekend!

My hubby and I have been busy as bees getting our yard ready for summer. It's amazing how much weeding, planting, and construction goes into each new season. It's hard work, but we have a blast doing it. And our yard is starting to come together.

The annuals are all in. The vegetables and herbs have been planted. The bushes (well, most of them) have been trimmed. And the pond is in working order for the summer. All we need to do now is add the fish. The roses are blooming and the peonies are just about there, waiting to add their splash of color to the scene.

I hope where ever you are that you are enjoying the fruits of a new season that's bursting wide open!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


coming soon from The Wild Rose Press
Wild Wedding Weekend

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Too Many Things To Do by Margot Justes

Nice to know some things never change. I have so many things to do and projects to finish that I find I’m not doing anything at all.

Last night I needed to get a couple of books from Barnes & Noble, so I called my friend Miriam and said ‘Do you want to meet for coffee?’ The coffee thing I have going is real, my heroine Minola Grey would attest to that...

At any rate, Miriam said sure. So we met up for coffee after dinner and we sat and talked. I complained about the things I must finish, all the while sipping my coffee and having a good time. And yes I felt guilty that I was sitting in the café enjoying myself when my projects weren’t getting done. Odd.

I wonder if it’s procrastination. I’ve always told my inner voice that I work best under pressure. Lately my voice has been telling me, yeah, you’re lying to yourself and get to work, the pressure is already here.

So, today while writing this blog, I set out my list of things to do-have a cup of coffee, finish editing A Fire Within, have a cup of coffee-make a serious dent in A Hotel in Bath, have a cup of coffee-write a travel article about Paris, have a cup of coffee-do some marketing, have a cup of coffee-or I could just forgo everything and drink the darn coffee in peace and quiet.

But, my inner voice won’t let me, maybe more coffee…

Till next time,
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

Friday, May 29, 2009



by Robert W. Walker

Once you have a book on the way—that is during this long, pregnant period between signing a contract and seeing an actual baby book born, there are limited activities an author can take advantage of save talking about the book’s “evolving” and “coming” --and you can go to conferences, get involved online, give away chapter(s) on your website, talk it up and use a signature line. However, once the baby has developed to the point of having an ISBN# and a NEWS RELEASE and a SALES SHEET (which is often done by a publisher in a single business letter format), now you can introduce your child to the world. But why send out a separate and different invitation to all the different aunts, uncles, godparents, grandparents, family and friends? After asking yourself the key questions: Who are those interested in the birth of a newborn book? Who would be interested? And what do they need to know about the child? Have they a special interest as in they are the Society for Whatever, you want to provide them with Sales Info and News of the baby book. A logo would be nice; a photo might be nice—cover art if available (a sonogram?) —but most important at this stage: the Sales Sheet-News Release.

The family of interested folks in the case of a newborn novel will be reviewers, feature news reporters, special interest groups, bookstore managers, e-Zine and hardcopy magazines, and library acquisition people, and anyone interested in the “platform” or threads in your novel that you feel comfortable in sending news and information to—as in your local Friends of the Library or perhaps the Chamber of Commerce or every local coffee shop or bowling alley depending of course on the nature of your baby story. Of curse, a single sheet, ONE-invitation for all may not work for ALL the family interested in this baby, so some individualizing (fresh angles) of the material may be necessary in sending out the baby invites and the book launch invites or blog tour invites.

The single-sheet News Release/Sales Sheet is a great way to reach a lot of people with the information you want to convey—and the info that they need for their reviews, articles, invitations, orders, orders, and more book orders. In order to convey how very useful a Sales Sheet combined with a News Release can be of help to you when the time comes I am attaching the Sales Sheet/Release put together by Five Star/Tekno Books for my upcoming Dead On. Notice the sales information needed by everyone is at the forefront, a brief description of the book (synopsis) and a blurb follows the salutation. This one runs slightly over a page as I modified it to send out Advance Reader Copies directly from my location, but in its original, the Sales Sheet Release was a single business letter size. If you put one together for your title, try to keep it to a single sheet.

Here is the Example/Sample for your perusal, and if it helps to organize your own Sales Sheet Release steal it! Then I have done my job in helping you get underway in the most difficult and frustrating activity writers gotta do these days – promote. Many complaints I hear is “how do we know what works” in the way of promo? This works! Trust me!

An Imprint of Gale

May 28, 2009

Title & Author: Dead On: A Marcus Rydell, Kat Holley PI Thriller by Robert W. Walker
Publication Date: July 17, 2009
Format & Price: Hardcover, $25.95
Genre: Thriller
ISBN 13: 978-1-59414-781-4

Dear Reviewer:

Five Star™ and Chicago author Robert W. Walker are pleased to enclose an advance reading copy of this title for your review consideration. This is one of FS’s lead titles for July – a little dark summer reading; or summer reading with an edge!

“Walker’s whip-smart dialogue, vivid characters, and ever-building tension make
Dead On a terrifically compelling read.”
—Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of The Keepsake

PI Marcus Rydell is out to reclaim his hold on life. Dr. Kat Holley seeks a fiery revenge on a maniac who has destroyed both their lives. Together, hero and heroine hunters come to respect and understand one another, and to share a bond that colors this suspenseful thriller filled as it is with bright touches of romance, light banter, and laugh-out-loud humor alongside terror. And as in any good noir thriller, there figures a black dog; this one’s named Paco.
Just when disgraced Atlanta cop-turned-PI Marcus Rydell prepares to eat his gun, a kid in trouble, a call to duty, and a dirty blonde named Kat Holley stop him cold. Kat Holley pulls Marcus from a suicidal depression, and his soon-to-be demolished apartment building—only to make him face a past he cannot come to terms with without her. But not before she leads him on a deadly hunt deep into the blackest forests of the Red Earth State. Near the Georgia–Tennessee border in the breathtaking Blue Ridge Lake countryside, the pair witness a safe paradise become their death trap, as their prey is no ordinary man. They seek to destroy a local legend, a cave-dwelling ex-marine who happens to be a multiple murderer. In fact, their prey is a monster whose instincts and military training have allowed him to survive in the wilderness for four years, eluding the Feds as well as the Atlanta PD.
However, the hunt for the evil torturer and executioner, Iden Cantu, pivots. And now Cantu comes for them, leaving the dead in his wake. In the end, they must duel with this psychotic deviant, who is equipped with night-vision, a high-powered Bushman and a cruel intent to kill by means of mental and physical pain.

Robert W. Walker, Chicagoan, now resides in West Virginia.

We appreciate your review consideration of this title, and invite you to contact us if you have any questions. To learn more about Five Star, you can visit our website at . Thanks again!


Tiffany Schofield
Acquisition Editor, Email:

Robert W. Walker

Robert W. Walker, author of City for Ransom, Dead On, phone: 304-419-3550

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer Time Activities! by DL Larson

The first summer holiday weekend has come and gone, and I spent the time painting instead of relaxing and having fun. But wait, I did have fun, mostly because I was with my family and we were sprucing up my daughter's townhouse. And beer was involved so it couldn't be considered entirely work related. But that got me to thinkin' ... where does work stop and fun begin? I also worked on my gardens a few days ago, a horrible chore with the weeds weeks ahead of me, but my husband came to my rescue and helped plant the hostas I'd purchased. We celebrated by sitting on the porch cooling off with a beer. I'm starting to see a pattern here.

We're a family of beer guzzlers, er, let me rephrase that. We enjoy alcoholic beverages now and then, especially in warm weather. Yes, that sounds much nicer, not as revealing as the other. It's one of our favorite summer time activities.
Wait, that didn't come out right. Let me try again. When two or more of us are gathered together, beer is there too. NO, that's not right either, well, it's true, but not what I wanted to reveal in public.

But it is a fact, drinking is a summer time activity for many and my family is no exception. And the mother in me, and the writer too simply wants to offer everyone a word of caution - be smart! Have a great time this summer, but awareness is the key.

Be aware that not every beer in the cooler has to be drank. It will keep for the next get-together. Having a good time also means being able to get home safe. Being safe is good. It's one of my favorite summer time activities!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Card Games

Video poker may become legal at many restaurants, bars, gas stations and other locations in Illinois. That got me thinking about card games with actual cards.

When I was young, I had a good time with my Dad and brothers playing Gin Rummy. Mom had better things to do. After that, I learned a smattering of Bridge, but never got hooked on it.

In college, most students in the cafeteria played Crazy Eights, another game I enjoyed. Now I don't even remember how to play it.

Then our good friend, Henry, introduced us to Pinochle. We had some very intense games going for pennies as rewards. On vacations, we also played Poker.

Then came casinos. After that it seemed card games weren't as much fun, perhaps because the stakes weren't as high. I can't remember the last time I played an actual card game with real cards.

What about you? Did you used to play cards? Maybe you still do. Or, maybe a character or characters in your book or one you've read plays cards, as an addiction or just for fun. Please share.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Lovin'

It's officially summer!

You know what that mean don't you? It's time to pick up some great beach reads for the months ahead. Well, even if you aren't going to the beach, great reads are a given.

Summer Lovin', the anthology of young adult summer short stories from some fabulous authors, (Dara Edmondson, Laurie J. Edwards, Mona Ingram, Kimberlee R. Mendoza, Sydney Shay, and June Sproat), was released in digital format on Friday. It's already #6 on the YA bestseller list over at The Wild Rose Press website.
A good way to start my summer indeed.
So, if you are interested in checking out some fun YA reads this summer, stop over and check out Summer Lovin'--you won't be sorry.

Enjoy the rest of your day,


Sunday, May 24, 2009


Ah, we've reached it. What many think of as the official start to summer. Memorial Day weekend.

And while it's nice to have a day off on Monday (if you do!), many forget to stop and remember what this weekend is really all about.


Those who have come before and fought and died for the rights we have and the things we believe in. The things we so often take for granted. And those who continue to serve. To fight.

This weekend is about much, much more than an extra day off.

Did you go to church this morning? Or not? Someone fought and died to give you the right to choose.

Have you read (or written?) a good book lately? A book of your choice? Romance, mystery, thriller, fiction, non-fiction? Someone fought and died to give you the right to do so.

Have you walked down the street, in public, and had a conversation with a friend about a topic of your choice? Did you agree with your friend? Did you disagree? Did other people perhaps overhear you? Someone fought and died to give you the right to do that.

Are you reading this blog? Will you comment? Someone fought and died to give you the right to express your opinion.

Many wars and battles have been fought over the years to secure and preserve the rights and privileges we have here in the United States. We might not always agree on the whys or the wherefores, but that's our right as well. Often we forget to think about those things as rights. They are so much a part of our lives. Things we take for granted. The way we live. But it wasn't always that way. It isn't that way in many places. And we need to remember those who fought, and continue to fight, to keep those things we hold dear. That let us live our lives the way we do, in whatever way we choose.

This weekend, it doesn't matter what religion you are or what political party you endorse. We all have so much in common. The right to have things in common and the right to disagree about the things we don't.

So as you enjoy the extra time for play or work or both, and no matter what you believe in or cherish, remember to remember.

Until next time,

Happy Reading! (Whatever you choose.)


Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Long Weekend by Margot Justes

This weekend marks the traditional beginning of the summer season, At least for me.
A few people I talked to said they are going to relax; grill and basically veg out.
Sounds good to me, I decided to write the blog on Friday because I don’t get to veg out.

I have a book signing Saturday, and if you’re in the area, please stop by and say hi at the Borders on 49 S. Waukegan Rd in Deerfield, IL Saturday May 23rd 1:00 -2:30 pm. I’ll be on hand as will a few other authors among them Joe Konrath, Luisa Buehler, Robert Goldsborough, Mary Welk, Susan Gibberman, Norm Cowie and we’ll be signing the Missing Anthology. All royalties are going to the missing and exploited children foundation. How is that for a plug?

At any rate, Saturday I’ll be signing, writing and spending time with my daughter who is visiting. Sunday, the same except for the signing substitute a birthday party.

Ah, Monday! I get to veg out-not so fast-I have to finish a couple of projects and do some marketing. And I haven’t mentioned the condition of the house where I happen to live-the dust bunnies are having bunnies. Come forth and multiply and they do…

And so it continues, this thing we call life-but it beats the alternative. Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Till next time,
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

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Fully Realized, Completely Materialized Character by Robert W. Walker

THE FULLY REALIZED, COMPLETELY MATERIALIZED CHARCTER (finally steps up and onto the stage) by Robert W. Walker

You hit on an idea, and it surrounds a character, right? Something in his swagger, his manner, his appearance, his carriage, his stage presence…or something in the way she talks or walks or balks—something undeniable in the sense she will not be denied as the one character that insists on being fleshed out, fully realized, completely materialized. The one of many “character” voices that claims the LEAD role in your next story or novel. She steps up and onto the stage of your mind—right smack dab at the frontal lobe, and when you either wish her away or try to put her off, or go off and do various chores to put her out of your mind, because you had other plans for the story or a life to live, she is still there, lurking—if not in the frontal lobe, someplace else in there, and you know it because she isn’t going anywhere until you pay her the attention she demands and claims of you. She may flatter you, call you her creator, her God, or she may bedevil you and claim she is your creator, your God. Either way, she or he or it has a stranglehold on you.

I know it sounds weird, especially to those who do not write but it’s oh so true. When you listen to a psychic like John Edwards speak of those “spirits” who are all rushing in at him at once, all of them demanding attention and shouting, “Take me! Take me!” –you understand where he’s coming from even if you don’t understand where the “spirits” are coming from. Picture Whoppie Goldberg in the film Ghost—channeling. Writing can and does often feel like channeling spectral voices out of the past or out of the psyche or out of the collective psyche, but that’s too deep to go into here. But…well it is a lot like that when an author is fishing around for a new lead character to cast in his next novel or story. And sometimes the casting couch gets extremely crowded, but always one voice, one powerful character drowns out the rest for the duration of a story or in the case of The Root Mon from the Root Heaven Store – a poem crafted around such a truly noisy, irritating character that not only demanded to be heard but demanded it at the oddest of times and over a long, long period of time that I NOT shut him out try as I may….

In fact, I wrote the poem many long years ago just in order to get The Root Mon out of my line of vision and out of my head, so that I could go on and live a normal writerly life, if there is such an existence. But before I banished him, it would take months and many return engagements, and just recently he mysteriously returned when I picked the poem up again and read it, enjoyed it, and was suddenly smacked on the back of the head by none other than the Root Mon. He had yet two more stanzas to add to the piece! After all these years! He’d been lurking in the dark recesses of my mind all this time, awaiting the day that I revisited the poem and in a sense revisited him, and bada-bing, he jumps out at me and claims my frontal lobe again and makes me come to terms with two stanzas that needed adding. All this and I have not cracked up in the F. Scott Fitzgerald fashion of the term.

Now mind you, when he first showed up, it was just to do three stanzas and boom, I was to be done with The Root Mon and poetry! How very often had I been warned off the writing of poetry as anything I attempted stank to high heaven. Warned off it as a tone deaf person is warned to stay away from any attempt at music or song. So after those few stanzas, I felt confident that The Root Mon’s visit had come and gone, and that bye-bye meant bye-bye. That I could write something I was somewhat good at now—a novel. The next in my Instinct Series. Besides, I wasn’t terribly impressed by The Root Mon’s poem anyway. But like a horror film, I found him in my head again while I was trying to sleep, while I was trying to shower, and while trying to dress! This crude guy demanded another stanza at every turn of my day. Done—give it to him. Go away now! Again I was done with him. Went out to hoe the garden out back and wham, he came again with yet another stanza. Standing in the check out line at Wal-mart, bam, another stanza. Just demanding as hell.

This went on. At breakfast another stanza, at lunch, on the job, at the dentist office, in the library while researching a medical mystery point of fact for Dr. Jessica Coran, my true love (main character in my Instinct titles). At the beach…in the ocean…no pen at hand! Again and again he came back at me, always demanding: “You gotta do dis one, mon? Dis gotta be in de Root Heaven mix somewhere!”

My wife was beginning to become suspicious. I was distracted to be sure. I was living with this wild and crazy Root Mon in my head, and he was telling me that I had not “fully realized” who he was or just how much “ju-ju” he possessed, and that he wanted to “completely materialize” on the page I prayed, so I had to put up with him until he was fully fleshed out (on the page). And that meant another stanza, and another, and even now years later, he has COME BACK! Scary, yes. Exhausting yes, but in the end I am proud to present The Rootin’ Tootin’ Root Mon of Root Heaven below and you tell me if “living with your characters” for a time does or does not pay off. I think this is a great example of what is meant by the “fully realized, completely materialized” character in something of a nutshell, something we authors strive for in our prose as well. Here is the Root Mon in his own words and on the stage that he built:


by Anton “Mystic Ruler” Dupree a.k.a The Root Mon, a.k.a. Robert W. Walker

(*to be read to the sound of Reggie music playing in you head)

You carrying a curse?
Got urgent pain?
Can’t make de water?
Head a bustin’? wife a-fussin’?
Jus’ you come to Root Heaven…
the famous Root Mon’s Store
Here’s a broth,
here’s a stew
you want both
for what you gotta do.
You got needs?
Plannin-a-big sacr-o-fice?
We god seeds
and chickens on ice!

We got bugs, scrubs, and herbs,
and all ll kinna spice!
Need dem magic words?
Have a dose-a-crawlin’ lice.
Eat a canna magic rice,
a-pinch of snuff
for dat ol’ wart
to kick-start the heart.

Toad sweat’ll get you up’n’fit
wid no shivers, shingles, or sneeze,
so get whatever you please
wid heavenly-heavenly ease
at the Toot-ah-Root Mon’s store—
Root Heaven.

We got fat slugs
and tobacco plugs.
Got fuzzy cut worms
for cuts, scrapes’n’burns.
for fever it’s the poltice
and the crucifix cross.
Got many things for stings:
herbs, toots, roots’n’things.

Go-head, make my day
wid dat bottle
of turtle-nip-spray.
Toss a snake rattle
o’er your left shoulder
onto a big boulder
beside a flowin’ river
at the midnight hour.

So get whatever you need—
no talk, guilt, or greed.
Join de Root Mon’s club!
Special on de belly rub,
and on de herb’n’potion.
Jus’ whisper who gets
Dis notion, dat lotion.
Hex on/off as you please.

Get stalks and stone,
min’rals and bones,
cat tails in pails
Wid good’n’plenty snails!
Got a clip of royal bangs,
eyelashes from de King,
Bob Marley’s gol’ ring!
All’s at Root Heaven!

Take dat magic tobacco,
Wrap it in calico and
file it wid cat gut.
Find a cemetery,
dig a deep rut,
and bury it up.
Prescription filled!
Got de enemy killed!

Fix you up wid a hex sign,
Tack it to de nearest pine.
Throw a magic lotion
into the nearest ocean.
Chew eyes of black raven
Whenever your cravin’
the really big ol’ cure.
All at your Root Mon’s Store!

Swallow de snail slime!
Ain’t no crime
to be fit and prime,
and in self-help
there’s protection
and at once
you be sheddin’ dat
godawful middle-section.
In de health we trust.

Guard your fleas
Curses come in threes!
Get even however you can,
And glory-be, mon
If’n you want
To regain health,
Joy, and prosperity
Then you lis’n to me!

Forget dat ol’ 7-Eleven!
Get y’self to my Root Heaven!

THAT’S my story and I’m sticking to it. Happy Writing and Reading
Rob Walker

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Place Your Bet, And Cross Your Fingers! by DL Larson

Awhile back I mentioned how nerve wracking entering writing contests can be, plus being expensive and always a big gamble. I shared how in the summer of 2007, I entered my unpubbed work, Promises My Love, in a literary contest, a whole manuscript type of thing. I was informed that fall I was a finalist and the winners would be announced January 1, 2008.

I won Second Place, a $250 award. But I never received the money. I waited months, wondering if I should bring this to the publishing house's attention. By May 2008, I wrote and asked for my prize. What I received shocked me. They didn't have the money to pay me. I would have to wait.

Months passed and I noticed they were calling for entries for their next upcoming contest. How could they do that when they hadn't paid me for the previous year? So I wrote again that fall. Again, I was taken by surprise. They still did not have the funds to pay me, but promised to do so - as soon as possible.

Well, another contest came and went - other winners were announced January 1, 2009 and I wondered what would happen to their faith in contests. I'd become cautious and had decided many contests were merely a means to make money at the expense of the foolish writers trying to get recognition.

Then the oddest thing happen this week, Monday, May 18, 2009; I received a check for $250 and a letter of apology for waiting so long for payment.

I was dumbfounded! I cashed the check. My belief in this crazy business has been restored. I had never truly believed I would see that money. Writing such a letter must have been difficult, but I am tickled to receive it. I value the letter as much as the money. I know it will be around long after the cash has been spent.

The salutation at the end of the letter said, Cheers! And so I will, cheer for this company who certainly had financial trouble, but rode it out and maintained their integrity. They kept their promise.

And I'm wearing a smile, and doing the happy dance.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Works for You? by Morgan Mandel

Just wondered where you've had the most success attracting readers. I have a website and several blogspots. I belong to Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Book Place,other ning networks,, GoodReads, many egroups, such as Blog Book Tours, Pump Up Your Blog, Write, Publish, Market, and Dorothy L, plus many writing organizations, such as RWA and MWA. I also participate in conferences and book signings. I do lots of other promo stuff. It's hard for me to tell which is the most effective, or is it all of them combined?

What about you? How do you promote? What works best for you to attract readers and buy your books? Please share.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Salute to Heroes

One of the many organizations I belong to is the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). I qualify because of the two tours of duty I spent in the Republic of Korea (ROK) - South Korea. Most of my VFW experience is with my local post and it’s been an exhilarating experience being around and associated with the many veterans in this group. BUT there are some unfortunate aspects of being a member of this group in that there has to be a war - or occupation - outside the US in order to qualify to join. Ironically many of the members in the group are WWII veterans followed by Korea and of course Viet Nam. Another sad irony is that as these veterans age and pass away we need the newer veterans from wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan to join and help keep the organization viable. The VFW exists to help veterans and their families and while we’d like nothing more than to see the need for this type of effort to fade away, we know that wars will continue to occur and veterans and their families will continue to be in need.

I’m also a member of the American Legion. So what’s the difference? Well, as stated earlier, the VFW represents veterans of foreign wars but the American Legion is open to all members of the military and of course there are the auxiliaries for the spouses of these veterans.

All these organizations provide much needed services and friendship for the military, our veterans and their families. So, as Memorial Day approaches please take a moment and visit the following links and see what opportunities exist to help and support our military and our veterans. The opportunities range from attending events open to the public that are fund raisers to donating blood at drives designated to helping the VA Hospitals and active duty military personnel.

I can’t think of a better memorial to these folks than to support these organizations not only on Memorial Day but each and every day. So, thank a veteran and their family for their sacrifices that have given us all the freedom we live with each day.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) -
American Legion -
Operation Support Our Troops (OSOT) -
United Service Organizations (USO) -

See you there.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Lovely Saturday by Margot Justes

I was asked recently for a blog thingy what makes me feel sexy-and the immediate response was-shoes, shoes and more shoes. I certainly wasn’t going to get personal.

Somewhat wired this morning, too many things to do and not enough coffee. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere today but stay home and work on A Hotel in Bath, write an article about Paris and finish editing A Fire Within and of course write my weekly blog. So, I had a few more cups and got ready to write. I’ll get back to the shoes-promise.

My friend Miriam called and asked if I wanted to go to Old Orchard. I said sure, I’ll meet you.

We had a bite to eat at Nordstrom’s café; it’s a lovely, sunny day, everything is lush and green so we ate outside.

And of course we’re at Nordstrom’s, so we went to the shoe department-see, we’re back to shoes. Nordstrom and shoes go together. It’s a must visit. Tried one pair after another, and Miriam looked at the shoes I was trying on and said-those look really sexy on your feet. Sold.

I’m going to Killer Nashville in August and needed a pair of brown sandals. Tried a pair and they were lovely. And sexy. Sold.

In the process of trying shoes and chatting with people, I met a teacher from Park Ridge, gave her my business card and told her about the upcoming signing at Borders in Deerfield on May 23rd. She told me she’d share the information with her high school students.

All in all a pretty good Saturday, and I still have time to write.

Till next time,
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

Friday, May 15, 2009

Why do I write crime fiction?

Morgan asked me to fill in for her today, so I thought I'd tell you why I write crime fiction.  Aren't you curious???

When I was ten years old, I started reading detective stories. The first ones were Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle, but I also read the Hardy Boys books, and stories of Encyclopedia Brown and the incomparable Brains Benton. I always envied Brains Benton, and tried to style myself after him as a twelve-year-old, without much success. But my first actual detective work came much later in life and inspired me to write crime fiction.

It was raining that night in the city by the bay.... no, wait a minute, wrong story.

It was a clear, late-spring Wednesday morning, and the first thing I saw as I walked out to my car was the TP carnage. Yes, we’d been hit. Toilet paper was festooned across our cars, across the trees and hedges--everywhere. But there was an added evil dimension: bright orange spray paint ran in jagged lines across the tall arbor vitae that fringed the front of the property, and a malediction had been painted on the paved driveway.  In bright blaze-orange letters, two feet tall, it said:

Penis wrinkle.

Not a common insult, and not one I had heard before. But I was a high-school teacher at the time, and as such had an inherent troop of suspects. Also, on Monday I had reprimanded one of my students severely—a senior with a strong intellect, great potential, but also a great predilection for goofing off in class. He had been very upset at being disciplined, and I was betting he was involved somehow.

When I checked things in our yard, I found that the miscreants had been in a hurry.  Two rolls were thrown without even being unwrapped. I recognized that the packages were of an institutional variety.

That day at school, I learned that others had suffered similar fates. Another teacher had her lawn rolled and her lawn and mailbox defaced with orange paint. And more seriously, the home and yard of a young lady had been defaced with orange paint, with very unflattering insults spray-painted on stonework and a privacy fence. 

My inner Sherlock Holmes took over.  I asked a few discrete questions.  I discovered that the young lady whose house was vandalized was the ex-girlfriend of the senior I had reprimanded.  I also discovered that he and two other young men had gone out “cruising” together the night before.

The family of one of the other two young men owned a motel on the outskirts of town.  I called them and pretended to be someone who had stayed there a month before, and that I owned a motel in another state.  I was “impressed with the quality” of their toilet tissue, and wondered what brand it was.  She told me over the phone.  It matched the brand of unopened tissue I found in my yard.

I got together with the other teacher, and found that she had also reprimanded two of the three students a couple of days before.  All three were now tied together with motive and/or means, as well as opportunity.

I went to the local sheriff’s office and filed a complaint, with all the evidence neatly presented.  The three lads were brought in for questioning.  There was quite a bit of dollar value of damage, when one considered the stonework and the privacy fence, so it could conceivably have been felony-level charges of destruction of property as well as malicious mischief.

The next day, three shivering seniors sat across a conference table from the other teacher and myself at the local sheriff’s office.  They confessed.  Their excuse was that they had been drinking and made stupid mistakes.

The sheriff’s department had allowed them to spend about eight hours the night before in the jail, as none of them were minors.  They were separated from the other prisoners, but they were alternately propositioned and threatened by some large, homely and lonely guys.

The young men were very, very anxious.  One young man was the president of the local National Honor Society and had been accepted at a prestigious university.  Another of the trio was headed for a full NROTC scholarship at another fine university.  Those two were scared witless that these charges would somehow lose them their places at these schools, while the third was simply scared of spending any more time in jail.


In the end, the other teacher and I accepted their confessions and agreed to drop all charges if: 

  1. The boys would do a total cleanup and repair, with their own hands.
  2. They would replace the mailbox they damaged at the other teacher’s house.
  3. They would resurface my driveway.  
  4. All of this would be done on Saturday mornings, supervised by their respective fathers.
Nobody lost their place in university, though the Honor Society president had his office stripped from him.  Gilbert and Sullivan had it right: let the punishment fit the crime.  The family of the young lady negotiated their own terms, as her father was too angry at the time of the meeting to sit down with the boys.

I believe the boys learned a valuable lesson about doing stupid things while drinking and I gained a real taste for criminal investigation. After that point, my stories took a turn for the mysterious. 

What To Do With a Bad Review by Robert W. Walker

Laughter is the best medicine but it may take a while and some distance after you read a nasty or awful or even a mildly critical review of your brainchild….your Baby….the one you watched being produced over nine months, and this after you oversaw the creation for some two years or more previous, and your Baby is now in the world on wobbly legs, and it is getting hard knocks and bottles and knives thrown at it. Whataya gonna do? Who you gonna call? I sometimes call Joe Konrath, a writer friend, and he calms me down, and I do the same for him. That helps. A comfort group. Friends, family….they all come to the funeral.

I have been maligned and have had some of the most awful reviews on record alongside of the most glowing blush-inducing reviews of my career written about the same book—same characters, setting, same story—but opposing (re)views. What can a writer do about bad reviews? Look the other way? Read them and try desperately to figure out the thinking that is so opposite to one’s own view? Get angry? Get upset? Get over it? Get even? Get drunk? Get to the container of ice cream in the freezer?

It’s been my experience that none of the above works. What do we do when we hear some Senator say from Minnesota speak of a clear and present danger and a clear and present NEED for a clear and present Witch Hunt that needs be done in the House of Representatives and the Senate to weed out “socialists”? Do we ponder what we might do with such “socialists” and perhaps hang them on the nearest American flagpole? OR do we ignore it and go on with our lives and trust that such Witch Hunt Mentality and McCarthyistic thinking no longer attracts or attaches to the human psyche the way a rhinovirus attaches to our noses? We can only pray or put it in our books as I am doing with my current work in progress – Children of Salem (intrigue and love in the time of Witch Trials circa 1692).

But let us return to that tricky question for a new writer we began with: this question of what to do with a bad review aside from the obvious—or a review that seems to be critical of someone else’s book because the review sounds as if this person has read another book altogether, and s/he has gotten yours confused with the other, and then the question comes up about the reviewer’s state of mind and the amount of meds he or she is on, and so it goes. And sometimes one can read between the lines and realize that the reviewer has a personal bone to pick with this author, which has nothing to do with the quality of the work. Sometimes it becomes obvious the person who penned this review is a jealous back-biting neophyte unpublished author herself! Truth be told, the same can be said of some rejection letters that come out of editorial houses.

Ever wonder why so many rejection letters are so cold and calculated to say as little as possible and most often nothing? These are in fact more professional than some rejection letters I have had over the years. Most competent editors are a lot more cautious of offending authors, and they are also typically “burned” earlier by some author that they did find something in the work they call praiseworthy. They are then inundated with questions or more of the same from the author. So they have developed form responses to “protect” themselves from all contingencies. To some degree reviewers are even more insulated from “responses” or “attacks” or counter-attacks from authors who may very well have good reason to be upset with something a reviewer says—which may be an inaccuracy that will be sitting there on forever. Again nothing author Rob Walker, you, or your friends can do about it. It just is.

For things that are “Just Is” in this world, there really are no helpful steps to take and brooding over a review—any review—is both counter-productive and living under a negative cloud, expending negative energy, as my son would say. It hurts only me…or in your case, you. The person who lets a review get under her skin or stuck in his craw.

In the end, in the larger scheme of things, a bad review is not so bad as no review—and frankly, I have had readers who have written to me that they HAD to read this or that title after having read this horrid, putrid review that dragged me through the mud and stomped me into a hole because the book was that bad, one saying “Read any other book on the planet before wasting your time with this bleep_______bleep.” The reader always ends with, “But I LOVED your book, man! Keep on writing!” To that I say, do you recall how horrible the critics were to Stephen Spielberg in his early years? Now that I am sixty and have written a few books, I think I know better what I am doing today than I did in 1979.

When Dickens wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls” – okay if it wasn’t Dickens – whoever wrote the line, s/he had to be writing about a book review. I am on pins and needles right now as ARC’s for DEAD ON have gone forth, not to mention several hastily got up homemade galleys to some who needed it six months in advance. I am certain I will get the full “arc” of opinions: The good, the bad, and the ugly but the name of the game is to GET REVIEWED these days as everyone with “half a mind” to write a book nowadays HAS! The swamp waters out there have become extremely crowded and getting serious reviewers to pay serious attention to one’s baby has only gotten harder and more difficult since my first book came into publishing-being in 1979.

But final word on reviews is that you can’t STEW over them, and you can’t wallow in them, and you can’t look back or pity yourself for the poor or even vicious review. Your final fall back plan it not to kick the reviewer but to protect your own psyche. Never take any review – even the most glowing too seriously as in the end when you begin to believe your own press you might begin to sound like a certain Senator from Minnesota.

Cheers and Happy Reading
Robert - what ever happened to your dreams of an online course you missed taking with Stephen King before he left teaching? Why not take Write to Sell online with Robert W. Walker (who knows more than King and Kipling and Twain).

--For a peek at Children of Salem, contact me at with query line COS.
--For an ebook ARC of Dead ON go to

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have A Little Fun! DL Larson

Last Saturday our church hosted a mother-daughter luncheon. Over one hundred people attended, from the very young to the elderly. All were happy to be there. It's been three years since we all gathered together to celebrate our womanhood. Before that, it had been nearly fifteen years since the last mother-daughter banquet. When my daughters were younger it had been a yearly event, and quite formal and long, and the girls usually went home hungry because they didn't eat yucky salads.

Three years ago several ladies my age got together and decided to try again with the mother-daughter banquet, which we promptly renamed luncheon. We reminisced on what had been so draining for us as mothers and how if we ever got the chance to change things we would. So we did. We invited a few younger moms to join us and a new era began.

We changed the menu to include a "little ladies buffet" just for kids. It has been a big hit. We lightened the entertainment to skits and poems with audience participation. Another welcome change and surprisingly funny. Add a few songs by local musicians and our luncheon was complete. In other words, we decided if we were going to do something worthwhile, we just as well have a little fun doing it.

As a committee chair and MC, I was in charge of finding the skits and poems, etc. while others were working on decorations, door prizes and all that goes into making a luncheon special. My task was time-consuming but also something I enjoy doing. I found so many great skits, wrote a few as well, then had the difficult decision of which ones to use for this year's luncheon. Here's one I found, don't ask me where, I don't remember and there was no author, so feel free to use it for your own special occasion. We did it in skit form, but the idea is still the same ...

'Two little old ladies were sitting on a park bench outside the local townhall where a flower show was in progress. The thin one leaned over and said, "Life is so boring. We never have fun anymore. For $10 I'd take my clothes off and streak through that stupid flower show."

"You're on! I got a ten right here," said the second lady waving her money.

The first lady fumbled her way out of her clothes and completely naked streaked (as fast as an old lady could) through the front door of the flower show.

Waiting outside the second lady heard a huge commotion inside the hall, followed by loud applause and shrill whistling. The smiling and naked lady came through the exit door surrounded by a cheering crowd.

"For heavens sake, what happened in there?"

The thin lady waved a purple ribbon. "I won first prize as Best Dried Arrangement!"'

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: whatever you do today ~ put a little fun in it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Online Marketing - How Much Is Too Much?

I own a daily blog, Double M. I also belong to this group blog, Acme Authors Link, another at Make Mine Mystery and yet another at The Blood-Red Pencil.

Besides my blogs, I'm also the network creator of two ning networks, Book Place and Sixty & Savvy.

In addition to my own Morgan Mandel egroup, I belong to a great many egroups, some of which are Pump Up Your Blog, Blog Book Tours, Murder Must Advertise, Long and Short Romance Reviews, to name a few. There are way too many to mention here. Then, the writing organizations I belong to also have egroups, namely Chicago-North RWA, MWMWA, EPIC, and Sisters in Crime.

I'm addicted to Twitter and twit constantly to draw attention to my blogs and also just for the fun of it. I have Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, Hi 5 and other social network accounts.

I enjoy marketing, but sometimes it gets in the way of my writing. For a few weeks, during vacation and in the midst of my edits, I took a lot of time off from online so I could get Killer Career into shape. I've pretty much got a handle on the novel now and hope to get it out by September. After all, what good is marketing if you have no product to market?

What about you? How much marketing do you do? Does it interfere with your writing? Where do you draw the line? Please share.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Release date!!

Big news for this Monday!
I finally have a release date for the Summer Lovin' anthology!

The book will be released in digital format on May 22, 2009 and in print in July!

I am so excited. Here is the cover:

So, make sure to mark your calendar and get a copy!
I also received a new review for Ordinary Me from That Teen Can Blog, read it HERE.
Hope you have a wonderful week and thanks for letting me share my news!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Garage Saleing

Next weekend is the big community garage sale in my neighborhood. I used to love shopping it. I could always find loads of fabulous stuff for bargain prices.

But for the past several years I've been organizing our local Historical Society's part of the sale. So instead of buying, I'm selling.

It's interesting to have been on both sides of the table, so to speak. Both things have been fun.

What do you like best about garage saleing?

Do you like the shopping? What do you look for? Specific items? Impulse buys? What's the best thing/bargain you've ever gotten at a garage sale?

Or are you a seller? What's the strangest thing you've ever sold? What are people usually looking for when they shop? Are you willing to bargain or do you stand firm with your prices?

Well, if you're "in the neighborhood" next weekend, maybe I'll see you!

Until next time,

Happy Reading (or shopping!)

coming soon from The Wild Rose Press

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Special Sunday by Margot Justes

This will be a short blog. I would like to extend Happy Mother’s Day greetings to all moms.

I’m cooking today, because I refuse to cook tomorrow. My older daughter (she happens to be a mom) is recovering from surgery, so I thought I’d bring dinner over on Sunday. I have no other plans. Well, except to write in the morning.

This is a perfect opportunity-at least I’m making it the perfect opportunity-to mention the May/June issue of Crimespree Magazine and my article on Bath, England. Can I say Yipeee!

I’m in the process of wrapping up A Hotel in Bath, but I have not been idle; I finished the novella, A Fire Within and hopefully someone will want to publish an article on Paris that I’ve been working on.

Now back to Mother’s Day.

My friend Gina said she’s leaving it up to the men in her life to make plans, and as an afterthought she said, “I hope I won’t go hungry and be lonely.” Hmmm. I’ll follow up with her on Monday.

At Costco this morning, I found many men carrying flowers and Godiva chocolates. Not a bad beginning…

Till next time,
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

Friday, May 8, 2009

The All-Important Cover Art, Title, Lettering & More by Robert W.Walker

“A Bic Lighter held menacingly at the viewer? Nah, please tell me, no!” – Rob Walker to art director at Zebra Books circa 1982

I’ve blogged here on just about every aspect of marketing and selling and publishing and craft, but while I have touched on “title” fights and cover art fights with various publishers over the years, I have not blogged expressly on the importance of cover art. It is after all the FIRST IMPRESSION your book makes—a visual one in a visual society.

The cover art design is all important and your publisher may want you to change your title so as to present a better or more commercial appearance on the cover, and the very lettering—size type, style, etc. along with your very name and size, type, style becomes part of the artwork. Designers working with cover art are not simply working with the images you or they want to see on the cover but the lettering. This covers every letter on the cover, including a subtitle if there is one, and a quote if there is one. On my DEAD ON for instance there is the title, my name, and a quote from Tess Gerritsen. The designer(s) has/have to decided where they can place lettering—in and around—the images, which image to bring to the forefront, which to the background, and how all those troublesome words get placed. Not unlike working with building blocks.

My son who has his own graphics design business in Atlanta, Stephen Robert Walker ( is a genius at developing cover art; he worked up covers for 13 of my titles that went into eBook at and all of them are unique—some extremely so. I have studied what Steve’s done with my concepts for the cover art. I think far too complicated and give him far too much detail for a cover, then he comes along and simplifies and thinks image is everything. From the jumble of ideas I throw at him, he works his magic.

The artwork is key to book sales; it gets readers to pick up the book and check out the copy on the back. My City for Ransom, Shadows in White City, and City of the Absent were designed in-house by HarperCollins art department and they are lovely, beautiful “paintings” into which my Inspector Alastair Ransom was dropped—right down to his cane and watch fob, and as backdrop scenes from the Chicago World’s Fair. With DEAD ON, Stephen placed a victim in the forefront in a horrible plight against the backdrop of a serene, moonlit lake and the warm lights of a cabin home in the darkness, and a touch of fire to one side. The composition on the cover is everything. It can indeed be a work of dark art as the HarperCollins covers and Stephen’s covers display a terrific sense of color and depth that draw the reader in.
My wife’s cover art for her The Well Meaning Killer designed by Krill Press is a terrific cover as well, and talk about a cover that “sucks” you in! It depicts the gaping maw of a well shot from overhead looking down into the darkness, Miranda Phillips Walker printed across the top and the title along the bottom with subtitle: A Megan McKenna Mystery. The color scheme is black at the backdrop center, blue-cast brick circling in foreground with stark red lettering.

So much depends on one’s relationship with one’s publisher. HarperCollins kept me abreast of the cover art from beginning to end, and Five Star took my “suggestion” of what the cover might look like—Stephen’s first workup—and the final version so well that they wanted to use it. Conventional wisdom is to not even bother, especially with a large NYC publisher as they have an art director who runs an art department, and said art director is not so easy for the author to get to, and often that’s the way they want it.

The cover is all-important, and it appears the larger the publisher, the more they feel they MUST control it entirely as it is a sales tool—which it is. They see it as one of the most important sales tools they have to work with, and since they have degrees in this sort of thing—from art to marketing.

In the end, no title—no matter how many years you have lived with it and loved it is worth losing good working relationships with (as I’ve regrettably done in the past), and no specific image on the cover is worth losing good rapport over—but if it really is BAD, if it is horrible (as has happened to many an author, myself included), you do need to stand up for what you believe. It puts the author in a difficult position, standing up for a belief in a title or cover art or both. However, in the larger firms, despite what your contract might say about cover art “say”—well by the time you see it –even in its so-called early stage—it’s pretty well a done deal, a decision made in-house and often a committee one at that.

Final word, you normally have a lot more input with the smaller publisher on such matters of cover art and title. In fact, you can also often write the cover copy. What a dream for a writer and my advice to every writer—write the back-flap copy for your own book…Wow! Just exactly what you envision your book to be, top to bottom. Five Star allows for that kind of creative cooperation for me and many other Five Star authors (some truly stellar writers in this stable!). And Krill Press allowed a great deal of input from Miranda along these lines.

So what’s my point? Well when you are setting out to sell your idea to an editor at a major NYC publisher don’t bother to send them your “vision” of the cover as they will take it as an affront (or many will) – but don’t hesitate with the smaller presses, especially if you have had a “professional” craft the cover. Even more important, however than sending a cover to your publisher is to “SELL” your novel on the basis of the most important short story you will ever write—the story about your story that fills up the two or three paragraphs you ENVISION as the back-flap copy, and if you write it as well as I wrote it for DEAD ON, you just may find it actually put to use—right there on the back of the book—like a dream!

My first book, the back copy told me the copywriter had not read the book and did not know what he was talking about, and it was misleading to the reader. After that I began writing my own—crafting it as a pitch or synopsis. It’s a real bonus when you see all or part of your pitch on the book itself!

Dead On and The Well Meaning Killer due out July – Summer Reading with an Edge…
Happy Writing one and all,

Rob Walker - for more on Dead On and my other works!
Miranda’s myspace –

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Your Vision, Your Work! by DL Larson

If your revisions are making you writhe in agony, that's your gut telling you something important. Keeping your vision while making revisions is essential.

So many times a writer is anxious to make whatever changes a publisher or agent suggest they don't consider if it will benefit the story being told. The author has some difficult choices to make. And a few questions to ponder before ever changing a word.

~ how will this change make the book better? Will the heart of the book remain?
~ is the writer still in control of these changes? Or does it feel mandatory in order to make a sale?
~ has the publisher/editor/agent simply pointed out a problem or a hot spot that needs fixing? Or would this change be a significant transformation to the script?
~ Is the publisher/editor/agent trying to make this book fit a popular trend or would the reworking open the eyes of the reader in a way the author hadn't considered?

I'm sure you could add several more scenarios to those questions mentioned. And I'm not saying to ignore good advice. I'm suggesting the writer take into account what's at risk and think through the purposed revision before tearing into it. If the feedback feels genuine, ... "the dialogue is stilted, your character lost her pazazz, you need more here, this is too long ..." are all great pieces of advice to make a book better. Most writers would readily set those mistakes right.

If the revisons requested feel off target, talk about it. Defend your work, politely of course, but defend it, discuss solutions that will work for everyone. If you don't speak up, you'll have no one to blame but yourself for not acting on your instincts to protect your storyline.

Working with others regarding your manuscript is called teamwork. Group effort will make your book the best it can be. Just remember to keep a hold of your voice, the heart of your story and your style. That's your vision, your work!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

I Write, Therefore I Read

Some say that when a fiction writer is creating he should not read anyone else’s fiction because it might color his own work. But like most of my fellow Acme Authors I’m always writing, so I don’t necessarily take that advice. Even if I did, I would never completely stop reading. There is a real world we writers live in, and every author should be aware of it.

I belong to a lot of support organizations, but I’m not much on attending meetings. However, the newsletters these groups publish help me keep track of what’s happening in the writing community. Local news comes through the newsletters of the Virginia Writer’s Club (The Virginia Writer), Maryland Writers Association (Pen in Hand) and American Independent Writers. Those last 2 are kind enough to send electronic copies.

I also joined genre-based groups, as I think all writers should. Larger groups like the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime offer national newsletters (The 3rd Degree and In SinC respectively) plus the ones the local chapter puts out (for Mystery Writers that would be Capitol Crimes.) International Thriller Writers Incorporated does it all electronically too in The Big Thrill.

If you self publish you should join the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN) and the The Independent Book Publishers Association (formerly the Publishers Marketing Association) to read their marketing-oriented newsletters.

And then there are the publications that can help us improve our craft. Writer’s Digest is probably best known, but I get more out of The Writer, although I’ll admit that is very subjective.

I also like to keep an eye on the magazines the fans are reading, and that’s genre-based too. For me those would include Pages, Crimespree, Mystery Scene and the tightly-focused Black Issues Book Review. Aside from keeping my finger on the pulse, I enjoy them. After all, I'm a fan too. (Check Crimespree and Mystery Scene for ads promoting my new novel, Russian Roulette!)

You'll notice that Publishers Weekly and Editor & Publisher are conspicuous by their absence from my reading. They are the absolute sources for news on the industry, book publishing and book selling, and they’re probably the first two pubs others would mention, but to be honest I have never learned anything of value from either one. I certainly expect my agent and my publisher to read them, but they don’t help me write or market any better. Still, check them out and decide for yourself.

And that last bit of advice applies to everything else I said. You owe it to yourself to check out these publications for knowledge, awareness and inspiration.

Keep writing, but also keep reading!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

To judge or not to judge, is it really a question!

I belong to a number of writing-related organizations and one is the Windy City Chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). I’m also the program coordinator for this chapter and one of the many activities that our group organizes each year is a writing contest. Important to this contest is having enough people from the group to actually judge the contest. It’s a lot of work but it is very rewarding work and each year the contest becomes more challenging because the entries are better every year.

After reading the entries I was assigned this year I just have to say that there are many talented and creative writers out there and it was a great pleasure to read their work. I’ve been feeling this more and more each year. I’ve always enjoyed reading contest entries and there have always been a fair number of gems but this year there were quite a few. In fact, I hope many of these entries become published so I can actually read the entire story.

For our contest, we receive the first twenty-five pages so we don’t have the opportunity to see where the story goes and how the characters are further developed unless the contestant contacts us separately or the manuscript is published.

So, why do so many talented and creative writers rarely or never join the ranks of the published? This question can probably be asked of any of the creative fields of study including music and art. Many a talented musician or group of musicians has released only one album, even successfully, and then faded into obscurity.

And, yes, writing is an art, especially when the writer is creating the book, novella, short story or whatever form his/her creation takes, but the actual production and selling of these works is a business and because it’s a business it’s a matter of supply and demand - and costs. So, if a publisher doesn’t believe he/she will recoup the money invested plus profit it’s difficult to justify taking on the project, especially to the marketing and sales departments.

Some of the latest surveys have indicated that more people want to write a book than want to read one. The last such survey showed a slight upswing in those who indicated they actually want to read a book but the gap is still a very narrow one, especially with regards to fiction. But what about all those big name authors receiving multi-million dollar advances and cranking out books like a factory? Well, they are few and far between resulting in a small number of authors pulling in the majority of the money and readers thus leaving a smaller pool for the rest of the authors to swim in. Add to this the narrow distribution channels controlled by a small number of players and the situation worsens.

It’s possible that the internet will help level the playing field, particularly with regards to distribution, but one of the concerns about an environment where just about anything can be thrown up and posted is that it creates a different type of challenge for the truly talented writers to endure. Now instead of wading through editor and marketing obstacles, a writer must wade through a plethora of words and works that may do more to turn off a searching reader before that truly talented writer is discovered.

In theory we all want the reader to be the judge of our work, but in reality reaching that reader isn’t so easy to do. Measuring it is even harder - and measure it the publishers do via such databases as the Nielsen Book Scan. The saying goes that an author is only as good as his/her latest Nielsen Book Scan numbers. Touted as “The worlds' largest continuous sales analysis service,” Nielsen’s Book Scan is a costly database utilized mostly by publishers, booksellers, librarians, and the media. For more information go to

So, weather or not a writer is truly worthy of a reader’s time ultimately is up to the reader but connecting with that reader is where the business side of writing is most profound. The question is finding a balance between the publishers and editors and booksellers filtering the readers choices and these same people actually assisting the reader by filtering out the dregs. Just how and when should this be done? Well, you be the judge.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I appreciate you Ms. Riley

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week at my daughters’ school this week, and in honor of that I wanted to talk about someone special who has touched my heart with her kindness, caring, always present upbeat attitude, and a bright smile for everyone.

Her name is Kerrin Riley and she is the Library/Learning Center Director. I first met Ms. Riley a few years ago when I attended a curriculum night for my oldest daughter. The meeting was held in the school learning center which is also the library. When the meeting was over I was scanning the shelves pretending to be an interested parent. Quite honestly, it was close to Banned Books week and I wanted to make sure I saw certain Judy Blume books on the shelf.

Ms. Riley approached my husband and me and asked if she could help us find anything.

“Yes,” I boldly said, “I want to make sure you have certain Judy Blume books here and I’m thrilled to see that you do.”

Ms. Riley was appalled. “Of course I have them.”

I smiled. I was kind of giddy. “Well, I just wanted to check, you know, and make sure that they weren’t banned or anything. Cause if they were I’d have to raise holy heck.” (Not exactly what I said, but I’m keeping it clean!)

Ms. Riley smiled back and we launched into a Judy Blume lovefest which had my husband rolling his eyes skyward, or I guess it would be ceilingward since we were inside. We were instantly friends. I mean how could you not bond with a fellow Judy Blume fan!

About a year later I received a contract for my book Ordinary Me. I was attending another curriculum night, which my daughter assured me that Ms. Riley would be attending. I’d been waiting to share the news with her in person and when I told her, she started to cry a little bit. She was more excited than I was! From that day forward she was my biggest fan and I was hers.

Ms. Riley immediately went into help mode. She wanted me to come and talk to the students, have a signing, anything I wanted she would try to do. I told her I was too nervous to talk in front of people. “Then you should practice among friends,” she said. And I did. She arranged for a small group of students to come and see me in the library. It was wonderful and really prepared me for another school visit I was going to do. I know I wouldn’t have been able to survive it without her support.

I had the opportunity to view Ms. Riley “in action” so to speak when I dropped in unexpectedly to see her. She was reading a story to a first grade class with such enthusiasm that I found myself enjoying the story right along with them. She would ask questions and encourage the students to ask questions. She wanted them to learn and love reading. But her passion for teaching did not end with the learning center. Her lively spirit overflowed into the school’s extra curricula activities as the cheerleading coach.

Recently I learned that Ms. Riley will not be returning to the school next year and I was deeply saddened by the news. My girls, who went to the learning center to visit with Ms. Riley, or just to talk when they needed a friend, will surely miss her. As will I. She is a friend, a fan, and a wonderful teacher. She is someone we could all learn from.

So, three cheers to you Ms. Riley, I will always remember how you helped me, my girls and numerous other students with your unconditional kindness. I will miss you and I wish you nothing but the best in the future, but I wanted you to know you are definitely appreciated.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Musicals or Plays?

As an early Mothers' Day present, my mom and I are heading out this afteroon to see a production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". I love that musical. So much in fact, that this is my second time seeing it in about two weeks.

I love musicals. I've seen several in the past year. There's something about the music and dancing that gets me going. I'd much prefer to watch a musical than sit through a play.

Which is funny, because I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I've actually been in several church musicals. I can handle the dancing part, no problem. As for the singing, I usually go the Milli Vanilli route.

Maybe that's why music in general appeals to me so much. A living vicariously type of thing. Music inspires a lot of my writing. A song, or a line from a song, can start visions of characters and conflict and happily-ever-after dancing in my head. I'm especially fond of country music. A friend once said, "There's a story in every song." And it's true.

So what about you? Are you a musical or a play type person?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


coming soon from The Wild Rose Press

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Simple Pleasures by Margot Justes

Yes, simple and inexpensive pleasures can be found in Paris; anywhere you may find yourself. Take a few moments and make them uniquely your own. Don’t neglect them.

You have to be willing to by-pass the tourist frenzy-the bus waiting to take somewhere else-the time crunch because said will leave without you. Take timeout, by yourself and get to know Paris, you won’t be disappointed. The intimate side streets, the age old buildings-the charm of the city awaits you.

I found I love writing travel blogs, but if you’re tired of them already, drop me a line and I’ll write about something else. For now we’re going back to Paris.

It is early morning-the city is asleep, yet on the brink of wakefulness. You’re strolling along the Seine, alongside the closed bookstalls. Peaceful. Quiet. Serene.
You glance at Notre Dame before the tourists storm the place.

Yes, sort of like storming the Bastille, but without significant damage and destruction. In the early morning mist, see the flying buttresses of Notre Dame glisten, as the sun rises and casts a spell on the stained glass windows; see the colors sparkle and glow in the early morning sun.

That little walk will cost you nothing, but you’ll never regret it. Listen to the bells peel. The steps quicken. The stalls open, one by one. The tempo picks up and life resumes. The pulse of this vital city is alive and well.

You will be seduced by Paris just by walking down a street. Stop in a café and order a ham sandwich and be satisfied, it doesn’t have to be an expensive restaurant. Don’t forget the coffee; if your tastes run to the brew; as mine do.

Personally, I love the early mornings. As the city wakes, I head to a café for a respite and of course coffee, listening to the abundance of life around me.

There is a reason my heroine is addicted to the brew.

Till next time,
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