Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween by Margot Justes

This is one of those life interferes blogs. I thought I'd get my blog written yesterday, but alas, I spent the day at the Daley Center doing my civic duty, as in jury duty.

Silly me, I thought I'd be able to write while waiting, no such luck. I actually made it to a courtroom, a couple of hours later I was not chosen, and was told to go back downstairs and wait for another panel assignment.

And wait I did, till 3:30 when we were told we could all go home. The jury room had a television on all the time, I couldn't concentrate, I'm used to peace and quiet, so no writing. By the time I got home, I was drenched, the proverbial drowned rat look was not pleasant. My daughter came home late last night, and today we're having friends over for pizza, so we have to get ready.

I did start my blog about Diocletian and promise I will post it next Saturday, but for right now Happy Halloween everyone.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Magic of a Facebook Reunion by Robert W. Walker

Confession: I FREAK OUT a little whenever I see someone from my checkered past suddenly dropping in on me unnounced—or rather announced—online. Suddenly “in my face” on my computer “in my living room” – whoa! OUT OF THE BLUE, seeking “only” to say a hardy HI-HO hello, and I’m immediately circumspect and wondering for what reason is this happening? Why and how come? AS MY FIRST IMPULSE (MY BAD) IS TO ASSUME THE WORST. Did I fail to pay a debt? Did I hurt someone’s feelings? Does she wants to know why I put her in my last book and slandered her—despite the fact it’s NOT her. Or is it someone desperate and seeking a loan? Relatives are good for this one. And on and on my fevered mind runs; yet another part of my brain is shouting, “Nah, man, this is cool! This is no Trojan Horse; this is a gift as when I heard from Owl Goingback, the only Native American I know who writes horror novels. So….Open that package. This is a gift. Someone who thinks enough of you to make first contact, and what are the chances it’s not good news?

Well in all instances of such contacts that I have indeed opened and read, they have all worked out wonderfully, and perhaps I have been lucky but those from my past who have either looked me up or stumbled upon me on Twitter or Myspace or Facebook have turned out to be great friends who merely wished to renew an acquaintance; folks who at some time shared moments with yours truly and it is complimentary that they wish to know how you are doing years later. Says something about you actually. Something good.

Most recently a wholly great reunion was made, one that has taken ten years and still Steve and I picked up as if it were yesterday –and in fact, we are throwing in with one another to collaborate on a novel. Oddly, it came about slowly and without a plan, and it was the last thing on either mind as we had chatted over months about all the trivia and news one expends time and energy on on Facebook. The idea to collaborate came about as an afterthought. But think about that. Two friends reunite online, one in Sweden, one in America, one a Brit, the other a Chicagoan, and whamo they are in business together.

Ten years ago I said yes to an online contest wherein the winner won the dubious honor of becoming a character in my next Instinct title. Steve Savile won the prize, knowing my stipulation—that I’d have to create his character free of any stipulations, and so I made him a London cop’s peg-legged snitch whose nickname was Dot’n’Carry for the noise he made coming and going with that wooden leg. Steve loved it; so much so that he read passages from the book to his students, despite the poking fun at him. He took it so well but I always warn people to “be careful or your might wind up in one of my novels”—so he wasn’t a complete innocent on arrival.

I also knew that Steve aspired to be a writer of thrillers, suspense, and horror as well, and when he showed up at DragonCon Atlanta one year maybe eight years ago and found me at my signing, we had a warm first face to face meeting. I was so impressed with Steve that I decided to revive Dot’n’Carry in City for Ransom and its two sequels a couple few years ago. I contacted Steve to warn him that the Dot man was back but set back in the 1800’s. He was again thrilled and a sport about it.

Now on the tenth year anniversary of Steve’s debut as a character in Blind Instinct, we have teamed up—due to conversations on Facebook—to do a collaboration on an idea we began kicking over online. How cool is that? Really?

Then I hear from Adam Pepper—another great young writer. We met at Love is Murder years ago—maybe five or six years. Again Adam simply wanted to give me a shout out and to say hello. It was great to reminisce about our meeting in Chicago as we shared an adventure there—getting lost on a snowy night in my own damn city; we had a wild ride that night, one that I still call Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I was told by Steve that he felt “honoured” to be working on a book with me, honored with a U. Then Adam boosts my ego by calling me “Royalty” with a capital R. They both have told me that despite what any publisher decides as in ending a series with my name on it, that they know from whom they have learned…who they read in order to master their own skills. You can’t buy that kind of thank you from readers who became writers in part inspired by you.

I have always said the same was true for me when reading John Lutz, Ed Gorman, William Bayer and certainly Dean R. Koontz, and a long, long list of other authors ranging from Martin Cruz Smith to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Two lessons or morals of the story here: Don’t fear old friends looking you up online unless you know them to be psycho, and secondly: learn all you can from the authors who came before you.

Happy Writing and Reading everyone,


"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Plans! by DL Larson

The Children's Department of my library has been transformed. It now has the ghoulish look of an abandoned building. The windows are blacked out, cobwebs abound across every book case and an influx of spiders has encroached on the area. In other words, we're ready to have some fun.

Our Teen Advisory Board decided to host a haunted house. It's called 'The Abandoned Library Walk-Thru.' We have creepy music, including Marilyn Manson stuff - G rated, yet full of creeking, moaning and eery sounds. We have a fogger ready to disorient our guests, but the most exciting is the large strobe light. If only I had dug that out of my supply box first, none of the other props would have been necessary. As we set up last night, we had to take strobe-light run throughs, which meant turn off all the lights and dance around to the flashing, jarring light. I have to admit, the hippy girl in me enjoyed it immensely and I busted a move or two. I'm thinking the kink in my neck this morning may have something to do with that.

We have all our props ready for the adult section upstairs and will finish that area on Friday before our event begins. The weather has threatened to be soggy if not darn right wet and cold, so we opted to leave our back entrance for our guests to wait in case of inclement weather, which is all we've had in the midwest lately. We've sent out numerous flyers around town and take home notes to school kids. We decided to charge $1/person with all the proceeds going to our local Helping Hands. All we need to do now is get our costumes ready.

The kids don't need any help in that area, they have too many ideas and struggled in deciding what they really wanted to be. I am wearing a hockey mask and something black with a cape. I don't want my little friends to think I actually had anything to do with this project. I want "Mrs. Deb" to hear about it rather than be visible to them and have them become afraid of me. I got this idea from a school teacher friend of mine. She's taught for over twenty years and said the kids loved telling her about their Halloween program, thinking she hadn't attended because they never recognized her in her costume. She's a clever woman, a little devious too.

Halloween night is another costume change. My family has decided we all need to be pirates for trick or treating! There are seven of us and I will undoubedly be the oldest and scraggliest-looking one who refused to cough up a lot of money for her attire. I'd rather spend my booty on more worthy endeavors - like candy, and drinks, and supper.

What are your plans for this Halloween? Are you hosting a party? Going to one? Hitting the streets with your little ones? How about a costume? What's the child in you want to be this year?

Share your Halloween plans with us!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Please Welcome My Guest, Marilyn Meredith, Mystery Author - Morgan Mandel

A Tulare County Supervisor, with both Native American and Mexican roots, dies under suspicious circumstances. Because of Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s own ties to the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, she’s asked to help with the investigation. To complicate matters, besides the supervisor’s husband, several others had reason to want the woman dead.

Tempe has unsettling dreams, dreams that may predict the future and bring back memories of her grandmother’s stories about the legend of the Hairy Man. Once again, Tempe’s life is threatened and this time, she fears no one will come to her rescue in time.

Now that you've heard something about Marilyn's latest book, here's some great advice from Marilyn about Critique Groups.

The Value of a Writing Critique Group By Marilyn Meredith

Though I certainly realize all critique groups are not the same, I couldn’t get along without my critique group. I’ve belonged to it for twenty-eight years. I found it through an ad in the newspaper when I first moved into the area.

The group began as a college creative writing class that kept attracting the same students. It evolved into a group that met in the instructor’s home. When I joined, the group moved from home to home and the instructor was taking a break. At that time, there were at least ten members, often making it impossible for every writer to read what they brought. In that case, the ones who were left out got to read first the next week.

For a short while, the group consisted of people who were more interested in getting together than writing. One fellow couldn’t stand to be criticized. The new facilitator suggested that we move to her home and handpick who should join us—those who were serious about their writing. From that time forward nearly everyone who has become a regular participant really wants to improve their writing.

People move on for one reason or another, and at this time we are now meeting in the originator’s home, the instructor who started it all. We have five regular participants. Each one brings a chapter, about ten pages or so, with pages printed out for everyone to follow along as the author reads and writes comments.

We have some loose rules. No interruptions while the author is reading. When he or she is done, we take turns critiquing the piece—again, no interruptions. After, if the author wants to explain something, that’s allowed. However, we’ve all come to realize that if an explanation is necessary, some rewriting is needed.

I’m the most published of the group, but I find its help invaluable. I consider them my first editor. I’m the only one writing mystery, but that hasn’t been a problem. One member is great at finding grammar mistakes and inconsistencies in content. A younger author always picks up on dialogue or clothing that’s old-fashioned or doesn’t fit the piece. She also gave me some great tips on how to describe running on the beach. Our one and only man is invaluable for problems with firearms, cars, and male dialogue. Another member doesn’t give much criticism but writes great comments and suggestions on the chapter itself.

When I’m home, usually the next day, and start going through the chapter, using the papers they’ve made their notes on, I’m amazed at the different mistakes they’ve found and the variety of comments. Of course there are some I don’t agree with, but usually just the fact that something bothered the reader gives me a nudge and I find a better way to write the sentence or paragraph.

At my most recent writer meeting, I thought what I’d brought was a truly exciting action scene. When I was through, one of the members said, “You’re not going to like what I have to say.” Gulp. He thought the whole chapter was too choppy. I had to think about that for awhile. The others voiced their opinion and more or less agreed. I know that when I’m writing something exciting, I don’t write as much as I should. Most authors seem to have the opposite problem and become too wordy.

So now it’s up to me to flesh out the chapter, develop it so it won’t be “choppy.” I can do that.

Thank goodness for my critique group because I honestly thought it an exciting piece. Oh, the excitement was there, I just left too many questions unanswered as the others pointed out one by one.

Yes, they heard every chapter of my latest book, Dispel the Mist, as well as most of the others in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. In fact, they know Tempe almost as well as I do. Besides being critique partners, they’ve all become good friends despite having different backgrounds. We all have one thing in common—we want to be the best writers possible.
Marilyn Meredith

Dispel the Mist is available from the publisher as an e-book and trade paperback as well as online and your local bookstore.

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Dispel the Mist from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.

She is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, WOK, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at and at her blog -

Please leave a comment for Marilyn. Maybe you have some good or bad experiences with critique groups you'd like to share, or maybe you'd just like to say hello.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Worst Blogger Ever by June Sproat

I have to be the worst blogger ever. No, really. I’m not very good at it. But I’m hoping to change that because I’ve got big news. I’m going to London, as in England!!

I know, I can’t believe it myself, but it’s true. And, I’m going next month.

Yep, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a pantser. I write like I live, by the seat of my pants. (It drives my mom nuts!)

So, I’m going to London and I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’ve got the passport, the hotel, the plane tickets -- I sort of have a plan. I know for sure I’m going to Bath. I mean I love Regency historicals and I’m dieing to write one, so this will be the idea location for research. Other than that the plan is open.

I know Margot shared her adventures, so I will be blogging about mine, planning and surviving stages.

Anyone with any advice or knowledge you want to share, please feel free, (like getting from the airport to my hotel—I’m going to have luggage and don’t want to take the underground.)

Thanks for reading!


ps: Mom, I did get really good walking shoes!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Theory

Lately work has been stressing me out. There's a lot to do, not enough time to do it, and to top it off, my computer at work crashed about three weeks ago and I haven't gotten a replacement yet. I'm sure many of you can relate. Because of all of this, my attitude hasn't been the greatest on some days. I'm just tired.

But, last week I discovered something. I'm sure this isn't anything new, but for me it was like a lightbulb went on.

If I like my outfit for the day, my day is a little brighter, the frustrations aren't so grating, and my whole attitude is better. Now I'm a decent dresser. I tend to like what's in my closet comprising my wardrobe. But I am finding that my clothes are getting old. They still look nice, but I'm simply tired of wearing them. I've had them for a while and it's kind of a case of same-old-same-old.

Last week I made an effort to only wear the outfits that I really, really liked. And you know what? I had a great week!

I figured the same concept could be applied in my writing. In historicals, the description of characters' clothing is very important. It helps to set the scene and ground us in the time period. But even in contemporary romance, clothing can play an important role. If my heroine is down in the dumps, she's probably not all gussied up, but dressed in sweats and an old ratty T-shirt. If my hero is coming to pick his girl up for a date, he's probably shined his boots and pressed his shirt, not come striaght from the barn. It's those little things that make my writing authentic.

So the next time I get time to sit down and write, I think I'll pay attention to what my characters are wearing. And, I think it's time to go shopping and spruce up my wardrobe. A bit of "out with the old and in with the new".

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Split by Margot Justes

There are many pluses to cruising; it is a great way to visit many places, see many things, there is no checking in and out of hotels and the luggage stays put. You spend a few hours in the port you happen to be visiting, get a feel for the local pulse, see as much as you can, go back to the ship and you’re ready for the next adventure.

Sort of like the movie ‘If this is Tuesday it must be Belgium’ except there you had something like seven cities in seven days and you had the luggage sightseeing with you.

With the visit to Split, Croatia, there was a drawback to cruising-I wanted to stay longer as in a few days not a few hours. Split is enchanting, beautiful, ancient yet modern and the two co-exist beautifully. It is the only city that I have ever visited with a living museum.

Why call it a living museum? Because it is a Roman Palace dating back to 305 AD designated a World Heritage Site in 1979 and it is still being used today by merchants, shop keepers and residents in apartment buildings and let’s not forget the many tourist that visit. All within the walls of the palace.

Split not only has a magnificent ancient building but also striking contemporary architecture. It is a stylish, delightful, vibrant city. A leisurely stroll on the gorgeous wide avenue bordering the Adriatic Sea is a must. They haven’t gone the Euro way-Croatia has its own currency, the Kuna and seemed like a thriving industrious town, very aware of the tourist trade and the impact on its economy.

One interesting thing I found out from our tour guide-the cravat-otherwise know as a tie, originated in Croatia not Italy or France.

Croatia was never on my list of must see places but it is now. I will go back to Split, but will include Dubrovnik and Pula as well. If I hadn’t gone on the cruise, I would never have seen Split. Cruising is a wonderful way to ‘discover’ the world one wonder at a time and you can decide if a specific place is worth a more thorough visit.

More about Roman Emperor Diocletian and his palace in the next blog.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3

Friday, October 23, 2009

Waxing Philosophical: Life's Beginnings, Endings & All of That Lies Between by Robert W. Walker

The subject on my mind this day is what happens when we stop to think about the hard face of reality in questioning our birth, our beginning, our personal GO on the Monopoly board of life? Gawd but that is an awful metaphor….life as a monopoly game, and yet had I paid a good deal more attention as a child to the absolute truth of it—how to crush others and become a profit-driven human being in the process, perhaps I would have a good deal more money in the bank today; might own a property or two, charge rent, get that extra income and ignore my renters when they call about the busted widgets.

Can you guess that I was the kid in the family of five who always stank at Monopoly and Parcheesi and other cut throat games like Sorry? That I spent a lot of time in jail? That I loaned money to my little sister when she was completely depleted of the green stuff? I lost a checkers too. I lost at Chess. I was a born loser, and I can recall as a child feeling sorry when watching baseball or tennis or football or Roller Derby Queens because I hated the thought that someone must lose—one player or one side wins, the other loses. The only sport I didn’t feel so bad about was golf as I could see no clear sides; it was every man for himself and amid the ensemble anyone could win but the loser could not be pinpointed so clearly as when two opposing teams hit the field of battle.

I was born with such empathy in fact that when someone—a school bully or gang member—decided to wail on me, I’d pick up the stick with the nail at its end to defend myself yet I couldn’t bring myself to use it, as I could imagine the pain it would inflict. I could feel it and see the blood gush before it gushed. As result, I soon learned the only way I could win a fight was with my mouth, with words. So that was my initiation into the power of words—make ‘em laugh and walk away. Not that I didn’t also learn to ingratiate myself with the biggest kid in class, help him with his homework, and enlist him as my bodyguard. It’s how I survived Skinner Elementary, later Carpenter Junior High, and still later H.G. Wells High as I called Wells High, inner city Chicago.

This was the fifties and sixties, a rough place to be born and raised, but I hadn’t been born in Chicago, so I fought it the entire time growing up. I was born in Corinth, MS and some of my siblings in Tuskegee, AL. Mom from Alabama, Dad from Mississippi. so I learned how to spell these magical faraway places with their strange-sounding names, and I dreamed of escape from Chicago, and a couple of times I tried, once with plans to escape with a friend to his hometown of Hazard, KY. Finally, I got on a train and did escape midway through my high school years, winding up in hardscrabble, tiny Screven, Georgia. I climbed into life with my cousins, my wonderful Aunt Sadie and equally wonderful Uncle John and a lifestyle totally remote. Still, their home was a haven, a place to heal for as long as I wanted. It was a new beginning and in their home, listening daily to my cousin Dennis’ drawl and Deep South accent, I decided to create my first novel using his voice and basing the character on Dennis Hodges. It became Daniel Webster Jackson & The Wrongway Railroad, a mix of homage to my spiritual mentor and hero, Mark Twain, and an historical novel about the Underground Railroad.

Talk about Beginnings…it began as an exercise I set for myself to see if I could write one page and pull off sounding like Mark Twain…but one page evolved into a scene, and soon I realized it was not going to let me off so easily. It became a chapter, and what happens when you write a first chapter? Of course it begs for the second, and the second the third, and so on. Just as Twain’s tale of Huck Finn is episodic, I followed the episodic method I had learned from reading Dumas, Doyle, Dickens, Stevenson, Hawthorn, Poe, and of course The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. In fact, the entire idea came about when I went searching for the third in Twain’s boys’ adventure “series” and learned there was none. Unable to accept or believe it, and armed with the arrogance of youth—what is more powerful? Youth being what it is, I sat down to determine if I could write that third book which Twain had simply failed to produce.

And people wonder why I love writing historical fiction, why I turned from doing serial killers to my Chicago Inspector Alastair Ransom trilogy and more recently Children of Salem, “love in the time of the witch trials”. Here is the answer: From time to time, I remind myself of my reasons for getting into writing fiction—my passion for it, why it sustains me more than winning awards or passing Go or making a bundle of money or hobnobbing with Matt Lauer or Ms. Oprah. I remind myself that “in the beginning” I wrote for the sheer love of putting words, sentences, paragraphs, scenes, and chapters down to see—to literally SEE—on paper what I had already spilled over in my mind. I face it— nothing else I do on the planet pleases me more than the precisely NAILED down images, dialogue, setting, plot, character with all the accoutrements…and to see it all come alive and dance from my head to my fingers to the page or rather the stage which the page represents. I adopted the novel? Well yes, but it also adopted me. Here was something that from the outset I was in charge of; here I rigged the game, made the rules, and won every race, fight! Every Monopoly game I laid out. Here I could be as slick, elusive, and deadly as a James Bond or as filled with as much joy as a Civil War vet who has managed to save one of his legs!

Endings in life and in fiction need be as perfect as we can make them, and while I am not contemplating ever ending my writing career—“You will have to rip my cold dead hand from this computer!”—I do continue to believe that there’s a reason beyond the pettiness of making a “killing” in the “writing game or casino” (it’s hardly a business like you find in Monopoly, this crazy roulette wheel we call publishing with its inherent defibs and heart murmurs and cardiac arrests; it’s only a business if you have a shtick or a TV or film tie-in, then you are welcomed into the board room end of things and only then.).

My own writing middle years have been a roller-coaster to say the least. One step forward, three back, and the “game” is never won-won, and one can never make enough money to satisfy the needs of home and ego if a midlist author. No your life is far closer to Van Gogh’s than the commercial artists whose fifteen minutes of fame net them large dividends. You write for food on table and to feed spirit. In my case, I keep reminding myself again and again what were my passions as a young, starry-eyed wanna-be newbie author, the kid whose first rejection came from Scholastic? What did the kid want? Where is the kid now? Is he worth unearthing to tackle yet another project? Can his passions be revived? Can the curious, easily fascinated kid be got at and the cranky, jaded, cantankerous old veteran be controlled so the kid can get back in the ring to fight another day?

Well sure he can and damn right! The eternal optimist, the eternal seeker. That’s what a writer is despite all his innate and deserved skepticism and cynicism about the playing field in publishing and in the broad world that Shakespeare warns us so often about—the one filled with slings and arrows; the one that overtakes us all at times, and in the end we are left with what? —two dates on a tombstone with a dash between. It is what we do with the time that this dash represents that is most important. Getting back to one’s inner child, one’s roots, one’s early powerful passions, and dealing with where one is at this moment—in the NOW—and determining a good outcome—an ending one can live with…these are all such important and huge questions to ponder and come to terms with. Wax and wane.

When I was at my deepest, darkest depression as a young unpubbed author the fear I would never be a published author controlled me and my work! Finally, I asked myself one question: Will you write if you never see publication ever? Will you continue to write? I answered that question and in doing so I got the monkey off my back and lightened up and soon began publishing even though my answer was YES as a conviction that I would NEVER see publication. Does it make sense? Now I am a goodly bit older and one might imagine wiser, and guess what question I am asking myself nowadays?

Yes, same question, same answer. I am what I am, as Popeye so oft said.

Re-invent yourself as often as necessary to sustain yourself as a writer but never forget why you took up the pen to begin with. I will shut up on that note.

Happy Writing Everyone – see you at the Kindle Store, Digital-Bookshop, Smashwords, Wordclay

Rob Walker

Facebook, Twitter, LinkIn, Plaxo, Myspace, Crimespace, DL., Five Star, HarperCollins

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Editing It Right! by DL Larson

Revising a manuscript takes effort, untold hours, some productive with some not so, and it may feel like a wrestling match before the words work in high performance. The key is to concentrate on one thing at a time. If characterization is a problem, work on that, don't try to fix the setting at the same time. Multi-tasking may work in small doses, but zeroing in on one particular hot spot will make your work more consistent, stronger, and thereby a better read.

Keep notes. While I'm fixing one problem, I may stumble upon a little ugly nest of something else. I don't take the time to fix it then, I go back after I complete my task at hand. I use a hard copy when I edit. I write with red ink, things like: need more description, tighten dialogue, fix grammar, change POV, find a new word, etc. It may be old school, but it works for me.

Then, when I think it's the best I can make it, I wonder, what am I not seeing? I'm sure there's something really obvious, but I've become oblivious to it. Fretting kicks in and I know it's time for professional help. I've a few people who will willingly read my WIP and suggest changes and I appreciate all their help. We find each other's quirky little habits. I edited a friend's WIP awhile ago and found she was fond of "it was" and "There was..." She's a great writer, but it had turned into a habit of inserting those nasty little no nothing, say nothing phrases. It was merely her engine revving, a push off to get the words flowing, fine in a WIP, dangerous in a finished manuscript. She found a few of mine too! I tend to cling to certain words and they are like bullet holes riddled into the pages of my manuscript. Bad habit for sure - telling myself I will find a better word later, just let me get this on the page first. But ... once the word was on the page, it became oblivious to me! I didn't see the over, over-use of the word.

I opted for a professional editing of my manuscript, Promises My Love. I was at that point, what am I missing? What have I messed up this time? I don't want to be the author folks say, "why didn't someone tell her to fix that?" That being the hot spot I didn't see! I contacted Helen Ginger to edit my work. Boy, am I glad I did. She found the hot spots, some I simply shook my head, thinking, there I go again, will I ever learn? Others were not so obvious, some technical, and I realize I have not yet mastered my computer and all its wizards. I've somehow managed to create a mess with page breaks. Don't ask me how, I don't have a clue and only hope I can turn off whatever I turned on. Paging tends to elude me as well, but I am not easily defeated. I will persevere!

The end result of all my editing will be a better book. One my readers will enjoy and not be thrown out of the story because of some flaw that should have been fixed during revision time. Professional editing is an investment, much like your computer, paper, books for learning, etc. Up front expenses are a part of being a writer. Don't be afraid to take this final step in making your work the best it can be.

Do you have a technique for editing? Share with us, and feel free to tell us about any nasty habit you've found in your writing. It can be our little secret. We won't tell a soul. :)

Til Next Time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Please welcome my guest Liz Zelvin, Mystery Author - Morgan Mandel

DEATH WILL GET YOU SOBER, David nominee for Best Mystery
Novel of 2008

What I’m taking on the road to Bouchercon
Elizabeth Zelvin, 2007 Agatha nominee

I’m a veteran traveler and experienced packer, and I started making lists in my head at least a month in advance for what I’d need to take to Bouchercon, where I appeared on a panel, celebrated the publication of my new book, Death Will Help You Leave Him, at a special event with fellow authors Louise Penny and Jeri Westerson, offered items at the live and silent auctions, participated in the author talent show, and rendezvoused with groups of people I don’t ordinarily see face to face, including Sisters in Crime Guppies and my fellow authors of the brand-new crime anthology The Gift of Murder, to benefit Toys for Tots. I did not say I’m a light packer.

Only once have I ever succeeded in toting only carry-on luggage: this summer on my visit to Chicago for the American Library Association’s annual meeting. And that was a close call, since I brought 300 first-chapter chapbooks of Death Will Help You Leave Himand two hundred bookmarks with me and carried home a goodie packet (including a ceramic mug that had to be packed carefully) from a panel at the Niles Library and a couple of ARCs from the box my publisher’s library marketing director brought out as a surprise. I only made it because I left home my running shoes. Since I arrived on Friday and flew out again on Saturday, I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to use either. (When I saw people running along Lake Shore Drive and swimming laps in the lake on Saturday morning, I wished I had.)

I drove from New York to Indianapolis instead of flying because I had so much stuff to bring. Since the actual publication date of Death Will Help You Leave Him was October 13, Bouchercon Eve, I kicked off my book tour driving back through Ohio and Pennsylvania when the convention ended. I actually started loading the car this past May at Malice Domestic, when my blog sister Sandy Parshall transferred a large basket, cellophane, and ribbon for our Poe’s Deadly Daughters auction item from her trunk to mine.

So here’s some of what went on the road with me, Miz Scarlett, my 2004 Toyota Corolla, and Sadie, my even-tempered and reliable GPS:

The proverbial box of books: copies of Death Will Help You Leave Him. I needed it. At my first post-tour book tour stop, they hadn't received the books. The forty people the friend I was staying with didn't show up either, so it all balanced out. I signed book plates, my friend ordered a lot of copies, and all was well. I needed them again at Foul Play in Westerville, where they sold out all their copies in the book room at Bouchercon and couldn't order additional books in time.

Copies of the first book, Death Will Get You Sober. I experienced one of those precious author "firsts" at Bouchercon when someone approached me at the signing table with both of my books in hand.

Promotional materials, which I'm sowing broadcast like Johnny Appleseed: chapbooks, bookmarks, and posters.

My Martin Backpacker guitar. I performed not only at the author talent show, but also at the Three Deadly Dames event with Louise Penny and Jeri Westerson. We had advertised "conversation and more" in the program book. I thought of getting magnets to give out, but free drinks and a mini set of my own songs (with harmonica backup by new author J. Saunders Elmore) went over much better.

The basket for Poe’s Deadly Daughters, along with signed copies of my blog sisters’ books and copies of EQMM with my story in it and other Poe-related goodies, like the bottle of Poe’s Raven Hot Sauce that I bought at the Stately Raven in Ohio on my 2008 tour. Also an LZcybershrink T-shirt, a yellow New York taxi (no, not lifesize), a giant tea cozy hand quilted by Sharon Wildwind, and a big tin of Virginia peanut brittle contributed by Sandy Parshall.

Running shoes and the clothes to go with them.
MP3 player. I didn't run during the four days of Bouchercon (no time and lousy weather), so I exercised by dancing to music in my hotel room at 4:30 or 5 every morning.
Netbook computer, to keep up with email. So far, none of my online clients has had a crisis and needed a session, but you never know.
Digital camera, for those photos of me with other authors that my publicist says are essential for my website.I got a rare sighting of Sara Paretsky and a photo op with Liza Cody, among others.

Flash drive, so I have all my files—you never know what you’ll need.
A bag of electronics: power cord for netbook, charger for cell phone, battery charger for camera and MP3 player, USB multi-port to plug a lot of stuff in at once, connector cord to recharge Sadie or download photos onto the netbook. Note for next time: bring two-to-three-prong connector plug.

Bathing suit. I inherited the swimming gene from my lawyer mother, whose motto was, “Bring a suit!” Wrap and flipflops and earplugs and goggles.

Food in insulated bag with ice pack. I found more fruit and vegetables than I expected to west of the Hudson, but you never know. My bags of baby carrots sre better traveled than some folks I know.

Pills. The vitamins. The supplements. The pills I take to keep from getting a migraine. The pills I take to make a migraine go away. The little bottles of resveratrol that are going to make me live forever. (Those need to be refrigerated too.)

My knitting. For unexpected waits along the way and insomniac moments.

What’s that you say? Change of underwear? Electric toothbrush? Yes, all that and more, but it’ll only be a fraction of the whole. Oh, and did I mention to stack of books I'm taking back to New York for a friend who flew home from Bouchercon?

What about you? Do you take any of these things to conferences? Did you go to Bouchercon? Please share with Liz and the rest of us.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friends by Margot Justes

I might have mentioned that my daughter did a presentation for Sisters in Crime October 3rd. She did a fantastic job, discussing CBRNE, and if you want to know what CBRNE is all about, the entire presentation will be posted on my website (hopefully in a couple of days). Scientists speak in Acronym, I may be generalizing here, but I don’t think so.

At any rate, we had a couple of friends show up to support Dina; they have watched her grow up and are more family than anything else, but most assuredly great friends. We go back decades.

During her speech, I did learn a few things, among them; I don’t really want to know what Dina is doing. It is frightening. But I also realized how important friendships are, and as I get older, I am prioritizing the world around me and the things I want to do before my body tells me ‘stop, you’re done’. The change has been on-going, in fact since I started writing, but really came full force that Saturday.

Our great friend George took us out to lunch and it was delightful; so delightful in fact that we stayed at the restaurant for almost four hours. We caught up on events in our lives, we discussed our travels, and George pays attention to absolutely everything, sees everything he can and learns as much as he can about the places he’s visiting. I consider him the ultimate traveler, and no matter what age, he continues to learn.

I decided to simplify my life, I no longer buy ‘stuff’ just to have it, there has to be a purpose and it better be a good one. I still buy the occasional piece of art, and I admit the walls are cluttered, but I don’t change my art; the first piece I bought decades ago is hanging in the living room and I still love looking at it. Finally after all these years, I own an Earle serigraph (he deserves a one name moniker) I want another, his work is amazing and I love it.

But, I realized that weekend what is important and what I want to do for the rest of my able life. I really want to travel, learn about others, how they live, what they value and why, I want to spend time with family and friends, help where I can. Simplicity is good, recognizing and valuing great friends is terrific.

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.
available on

Friday, October 16, 2009

Taming the Beast - Selling Yourself, not Your Book by Robert W. Walker

Recently someone asked what I meant about selling “yourself and not your book” or selling it with a look, a wink, a smile and a nod. We were talking books at a virtual bar, having a virtual drink; she had a martini, I had a Jack Whiskey Sour. I proceeded to explain in more detail; did so over the juke box wailing out “Don’t be Cruel” and Elvis was at his best. We had been discussing what a writer has to do these days to gain attention for his work since there are now in the pool of writers everyone who thinks he can write whether correct or not, everyone who acts on the thought ‘I can write better’n that’, in other words: everyone with half a mind to write a book, unfortunately DOES. Leaping in with both feet.

Almost anyone and more people can afford to self publish nowadays, and anyone can digitally publish at NO cost to the author, and besides more people can afford the huge mistake of publishing with some major vanity presses that do nothing in the way of screening or editing even when paid to edit. In fact, there are far more publishing outlets and possibilities now than in the history of publishing EVER. So… while competition for shelf space in bookstores in the real world has always been difficult and tight, nowadays, it appears even greater competition for space in the mushrooming “Digital Stores” where shelf space is also stiff as stiff can get stiff.

So what’s a writer to do? Nothing? A Dan Brown, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell need do nothing as their books are bestsellers even before the book sees print (preorders). No one apparently needs to read said books to know that they are “worthy” of becoming bestsellers. (It’s about numbers, not quality of writing). Go figure. That aside, ninety nine percent of authors are without a budget and are told by their publishers: (1) ads for books do not sell books, so we’re not going to advertise your book like we do Dan’s or Steve’s or Patti’s (they do not explain this much to the Dan Browns, to Stephen King or Patricia Cornwell as they probably would gasp and insist that their publisher stop this practice and instead advertise all their titles using their budgets—Disney said if you can imagine it, you can do it…).

Number 2 remark mid-list authors hear always: You have to commit to selling your book on your own in any way you can, anywhere you can, anyhow you can at all hours of the day and night. 3) You need to create an online presence. Some publishers will even create a Myspace or a Facebook page for the fledgling author to get her or him started.

And so I have been creating my online personae (my juggling act; on unicycle juggling ten plates at once from the edge of a diving boad) and doing for something in the neighborhood of five years now. I began with various chat groups like, and I added others as I found them; I began with Myspace where I blog and try to keep up and place bulletins; I added Facebook, Crimespace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Twitter. All in an effort to build a fan base, and to sell not myself but my books, but a strange thing happened on the way to selling a million copies. I have learned that people respond less and less to the overwhelming number of appeals to “read my book” and “buy my book” and “you gotta really read this, my book!” and far more to other things like a smile, a wink, a nod.

Being online as much as I am nowadays, I have come to a full arc from hawking my book to hawking interest in my dull life! HA, to THERE! There you have it…or rather there my eyes were opened. I have always considered my personal life a total BORE, but NOT SO….apparently. It has been quite a metamorphosis within my brain pan, and it has not come easily or quickly but that look….that wink…that smile…the shot of me and Pongo up on my profile page, my jokes, my picture with the cardboard Capt. Jack Sparrow with Miranda flanking his other side, my photo with a similar Will Smith, my having had to neuter Clark Kent—SuperCat—my cat….now that’s what people respond to. Leave ‘em laughing has always been my watchword at conferences and speaking engagments, and it is twice as true on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and elsewhere. But it took me a loooooong time to figure this out. Call me thick.

I am convinced that going direct to a sales pitch is never a good idea, not even at a book signing where it is expected, right? No ask the potential customer what he does for a living, make a remark about the cute grandchild, remark on apparel, the weather, point out when a lady comes into the store with three children that perhaps she needs the “relief” offered by a good story to escape into—then speak of your story, of course.

And the same appears to be true of the internet social networking connections we make. I want to spend some time making responses to the potential reader or fan online by answering their tweets, replying to their Facebook remarks—whether on the weather or about the kitchen fire they’re recovering from or the loss of a pet, or Or OR…. And while the progress appears slow….hey I have been at this for years—it is a way to gain new readers, all of whom have access to others and to review sites and their favorite chat rooms.

I don’t sneak up on people with the wink and the nod and the smile; I am quite up front with the fact I am a writer with books in the trunk of my virtual car as I drive on through what’s being said by whom on Facebook and elsewhere. I still often make direct appeals as when I have had a review or when someone has interviewed me, and I often continue to make an appeal to “read this book!” but the lion’s share of my posts nowadays—as the arc has arrived—go to social remarks, political rants, personal tales of terror as when my stepson broke his nose (talk about bloody), and what’s the deal with Miranda’s deciding to rip up the carpeting and strip the floor, and on and on. What I have learned, which so surprises me, is that people in general love to hear about the mundane backdrop in a writer’s life as much as they might a photographer’s life, a sculptor’s life, a CPA’s life, or a teacher’s life….nurse, doctor, lawyer, candlestick maker. Not to mention a puppeteer or marionette operator. These online sites are like an insatiable unquenchable WE or US magazine only the stars are, well, us’ns.

And so we finish our drinks, and I explain to the stunning beauty on the bar stool beside me, my wife, that it is worthwhile to continue to focus on meeting folks all across America and overseas online and to meet them with a smile, a nod, and a wink. We toast to the brilliance of just being ourselves and know we needn’t be working so hard as we have in the past. We have come of age in the virtual world, old enough to down our virtual drinks where you don’t have to reveal your age.

By the way, there’s been a great review posted regarding my how-to for the disorganized writer in you, a book entitled DEAD ON WRITING at a terrific eZine begun by several young ladies who believe in the power of educating oneself to becoming a writer, folks who believe in craft before marketing. This is at – locate the review under articles. The book itself can be found in all eFormats from the Kindle Store, the Digital Store, Smashwords, and in paper format from That’s Dead On Writing!

Happy Writing Everyone,
Rob Walker

"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Protect Yourself! by DL Larson

As a writer, I've committed to going out into the public, talking about my books, shaking hands with folks, taking money from them and overall putting my health at risk for whatever germs may be lurking close by.

To help combat those germs from taking up residence in my body, I get a flu shot every fall. Today is the day. I will exchange $30 for the serum that will help keep me healthy this winter. The virus is dead and the injection mostly painless, and waiting in line is a small inconvenience for staying healthy.

My doctor has suggested I get the N1H1 vacine as well, as long as it is a dead virus. That is not yet available in my area, but I plan to take his advice. I know how devastating swine flu can be; when my grandmother was twenty-two, she caught swine flu. It crippled her. The influenza ravished her body til her hips locked in position and the joints melted together. My father still has the x-rays taken all those years ago. She learned to walk again using her back and knees, a miracle that big shot Chicago doctors of the time wanted to see. She also had three other children, my father one of them.

My grandma was a determined and courageous woman and if she was alive today, I'm sure she would be calling each of her grandchildren and reminding them to get their flu shots.

My appointment is for eleven o'clock this morning. How about you? Do you think flu shots are a good thing? Have you taken the steps to protect your family? Your parents? What are your plans for the flu season?

Share with us.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What do you do with a good review?

By now, almost everyone in the world must know I received a 5 star review for Killer Career by Morgan Mandel from Midwest Book Review on Amazon. In case you missed seeing one of the email messages to a zillion egroups and networks, here's the link on Amazon -
and also the one on Midwest Book Review's site itself -

My next project is to put the review to use in strategic spots, such as on my website and promotional materials.

What do you do when you get a good review?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A place for romance writers and readers to meet

An exciting new website is Billed as a place where friends are made and dreams are realized, it is proving to be the place to go for not only romance writers, but writers in general, and readers of all genres. Check it out. There is something for everyone.

One of the entries pays tribute to Kate Duffy, long time acquisition editor of romantic literature. While her last stop was with Kensington, her involvement with the romance genre is a pedigree many aspire to attain. Please take a moment to read.

Back at the ranch - er - the Windy City RWA ranch that is, our guest speaker this week is Joe Welk and his topic is Forensic DNA Analysis. Whether you're a CSI junkie or just fascinated by all things forensic, this talk is for you. He is quite impressive. Go to for more info. I'm the program coordinator for our group and I'm always excited when I find a Subject Matter Expert (SME) such as Joe who can present a hard-to-understand topic in a way that let's the rest of us in.

Reports continue to emerge from Publishers Weekly regarding the various regional results of the book industry. Go to and search on great lakes for one of the regional reports.

In the midst of so many writers conferences folding, we at Love Is Murder want to entice everyone out there to stay tuned to our annoucements regarding our 2011 Annual Love Is Murder Con held the first weekend in February 2011. Our website will be updated soon with all the exciting new details.

Also, I'm spearheading a new adventure called Writers in Support of Heroes. The idea is to honor all our heroes in society. The group description is as follows:

"A group of writers, whether published or not, who support all kinds of heroes including the brave members of our armed forces to those on the front lines in hospitals, fire stations, police departments, schools, and so much more. Our support ranges from donating books, supporting literacy efforts, and helping those who face danger and difficult challenges to explore their experiences through the power of telling their story."

Please go to and signup if you aren't a member already and join me in celebrating and raising money for all our heroes.

Take care and have a happy writing/reading day, and remember the power of your story is just plain powerful!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Time is flying!

I’m back today on this chilly Monday! Sorry I missed last week, but strep throat and a sinus infection kept me pretty much down and out.

So much to tell. Saturday was the book launch for According to Jane by Marilyn Brant. It was at the Borders on Deerfield, so if you are in the area, pick up a signed copy. It was wonderful to share the excitement with a fellow Chicago North Member!

Also, busy, busy, busy with Spring Fling 2010! Yes, it’s right around the corner. Registration opens November 1st and we have quite a line up.

Headliners are Cherry Adair and Julia Quinn!

And if that is not enough to persuade you to come to Spring Fling, how about the following agents/editors who are slated to take pitches and give presentations:

Diana Fox, Fox Literary Agency
Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Nancy Coffey Literary and Media
Laurie McLean, Larsen Pomada Literary Agency
Paige Wheeler, Folio Literary Management
Amanda Bergeron, Avon Books
Kat O'Shea, Wild Rose Press/Leap Books
Lindsey Faber, Samhain Publishing

If you want to keep up with what’s new for Spring Fling 2010, check back next week when I will give an update of the presenters. (yep, I’m giving you a little tease to get you to come back!)

Also, check the website: for updates and to register November 1st.

Have a great week!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happily Ever After

Romance is a great genre to read and write. Every book you read guarantees a happy ending. The hero and heroine ride into the sunset and share a life of bliss from that day forward. Millions of people read romance for that very reason (Well, that and the steamy love scenes! - let's be honest!). I write romance for that reason...taking a couple who separately have hardship and difficulty and sometimes face insurmountable odds to being together. But in the end, everything works out. They find love despite of, or maybe because of, the conflicts they face. They get their happy ending. The author makes sure of it.

In real life those happily ever afters aren't as easy to guarantee. If you don't believe me, just look at the divorce rate or read the tabloids about Hollywood's exploits.

This past week I have had the privilege of being surrounding by real-life happy endings. Last week my mom and dad celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary. Yesterday I attended a party for my aunt and uncle who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. On Friday I mailed out invitations for my in-laws' 50th anniversary party next month. Today we'll head over to my sister-in-law's to scan pictures for putting a DVD together which will highlight the 50 (so far) years of happily-ever-after they've shared. Has it always been easy for these couples? Of course not. Real life isn't a fairy tale. It brings no end of struggles and hardships and things to deal with. But through it all their love has perservered all these years. How amazing is that?

And then I've had my own personal romance author happy endings this week. I got an e-mail from my editor saying the release date for WILD WEDDING WEEKEND has been moved up three weeks! How cool is that? I'll now be able to hold it in my eager little hands on April 23, 2010. And at my aunt and uncle's anniversary party, my number one seller (thanks, Mom) came through again and sold three of my books (THIS TIME FOR ALWAYS) on the spot. We had a fun impromptu autograph party. And I had another friend of the family say she read my first book and couldn't put it down because she was so drawn into the story.

So all in all, it's been a fabulous week. I hope yours was filled with happily-ever-afters as well.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


P.S. I was also Nicole McCaffrey's Friday Friend this past week. (There's still time to pop by and say hello over there if you're so inclined.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And So It Goes by Margot Justes

Does anyone feel like they are continuously behind schedule and there is never enough time to finish everything… this week between work and my personal life, I had a melt down by the time I got home after seven yesterday. My typical weekday starts at 5am, my friend Lillian and I have our 2.67 mile walk, (every fraction counts) then I get ready for work, the job that actually pays the bills; this is by way of an explanation.

I had an appointment to get my hair cut on Wednesday, wrote it down for Thursday, showed up and surprisingly my hair stylist wasn’t there, she was downtown having fun and there I was, expecting to get my hair cut. The nerve.

I apologized profusely, and she was kind enough to squeeze me in Friday, I did show up and on time.

The fridge seemed to be saying feed me, feed me, so I went food shopping; it was getting sparse in there, you can only drink so much old orange juice. By the time I got home I was not a happy camper, it was late, I was hungry and just plain tired.

The computer waited to be turned on. I swear everything seems to be developing a willful personality around me, at any rate, the guilt was there, but not the initiative, nothing got done, I sat in front of the TV, watched Numbers, and promptly dozed off.

Today seems to be going well; I’m productive and even made a pot of barley mushroom soup, wrote this blog and I feel sooo much better now, till next time, and there will be a next time, hopefully not so pronounced.

In the meantime, I asked my web gal if she could add a couple of pages to my website, so that pictures of Bath and Venice could be posted, she said yes, so another project got added on top on everything else, and so it goes…but I promise, I’m working on my stuff from Venice and the Greek Islands.

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.
available on

Friday, October 9, 2009

10 Bloody Great Solutions to Writing Problems and Bugaboos by Robert W. Walker

#1. Edit out as many prepositional phrases as possible; where you have two prepositions back to back as in OFF OF, strike one of them….for example “look down deep into…make look into. Simplify to clarify. No one needs read the word UP ever in your story. He stood up becomes he stood. He spoke up becomes he spoke.

#2 . The number one sin in writing is being unclear. Prepositions are directional words; stringing too many together at once is confusing and so not good. Example: In the wake of the sternwheeler at the break of day before anyone aboard had eaten breakfast in the galley…etc. It makes no sense but it is an impressive string of prepositions.

#3. Another killer of clarity that feeds a reader’s confusion is the simple pronoun…be it he, she, they, it etc., it can quickly become confusing as to what it is or who he is or who they are if these simple substitutes for nouns and names are overly relied upon. Example: There were two of them, a cop and a lawyer, and when he said to him that he didn’t known anything about the law…well, I as a reader had no idea who said what to whom. Pronouns get fuzzy real quickly as to who they are referring to…who or what or what IT stands for anymore. One can always return to name the person, place or thing he/she is referring to.

#4. Another killer of clarity is when a pronoun gets all tangled up with a question as to who is being spoken of as in: Mary told her mother that she was fat and ugly. Now in reading that, we have no idea who told what to whom or why. A big of judicious use of quotations marks makes all the difference as in: Mary shouted, “Mom, I am so fat and ugly!” Or as in: Mary said, “Mon, you are so fat and ugly

#5. The Unintended Result which comes straight away with misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers as in: The fat lady climbed up on the horse in tight jeans. Or: The professor chased the dog down the street in his underwear. Who or what has the jeans and the underwear on? When prepositional phrases get slapped in the wrong place funny comical things result. In dangling modifiers, the subject of the sentence is left out as in: In the church foyer, the ringing of bells was heard. Ask yourself where is your character in that last sentence? Who is hearing the bells? Don’t drop your character out of your scene.

#6. Another way to lose your reader and cause confusion is to go in and out of verb tenses—past, present, past without real good reasons to do so, and even then transitions better be perfect; you must take the reader by the hand when making major shifts in time, and verb tense is about time—present, past, past of the past, future, etc. Time confusions are a killer, too. At all times in your story, time must flow like a river and be clearly understood. A time clock for the entire story must be running and if you are doing a Quinton Tarantino deal of gong to and from between two time zones or more, it is even more so important that time is working well in your story and is understandable.

#7. Don’t kill or weaken your story to being on life support via qualifying phrases and qualifiers as in such words as vey, often, sometime, mostly, maybe, perhaps which depict a voice that is totally wishy-washy. Instead you use words that are called absolutes. Instead of saying the fog is perhaps lifting, you state the absolute certainty that it IS lifting. She was not very pretty….She was not pretty in the least.

#8. Don’t kill your story by failing to utilize all your five senses in each scene and each page. Filter every person, place, or thing being described through the mind and five senses of your main character. Keep in mind whose story it is at all times—and filter everything via this character. If the scene “belongs” to another character filter all via this character’s mind and senses.

#9 We also kill our story when we fail to nail down whose story it is; when we fail to have a central character. A story and a novel rely on its being truly one person’s story even in a multiple point of view novel. All other characters are there in the web of characters as an ensemble to support the character at the center of the web. When we lose sight of this, the story becomes unwieldy and our readers ask “Whose story is this anyway?” Even in a shared lead, one of the leads leads…so to speak.

#10. When we allow the Voice of the narrative to falter, change, become inconsistent, we confuse the reader. Voice is the culmination of all the various parts and should form a strong, powerful voice that sets a tone and sticks firmly to that one tone throughout…from beginning to end.

See if I live up to the ten avenues to NOT kill your story…the ten avenues to success by picking up a copy of my latest work, DEAD ON. My wife, Miranda’s The WELL MEANING KILLER displays the same positive attributes, the ten ways to success in being clear. A true pinnacle that a writer strives for: being clear and maybe even making it sing a little on every page.
Happy Writing and please feel free to leave a #11 or #12 etc. as a comment. Would love to hear from you.
Rob Walker
"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Does It Matter? by DL Larson

The daily news is riddled with disasters and other unsavory occurences that have happened throughout the world. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we express compassion for the hardships of others, and then most of us go about our day. Some of us may wonder how that disaster will affect us, others move on, not extending the energy to worry about the problems of someone they've never met and never will. And many times in our own neighborhoods, our own lives, we mimick the same pattern of doing nothing.

Our compulsion to mind our own business reminds me of the following story. I am not the author, merely the one passing it on ...

'A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.
"What food might this contain?" the mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the barnyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning: "There's a mousetrap in the house! There's a mousetrap in the hosue!"
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There's a mousetrap in the house!"
The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray ... be assured you are in my prayers."
The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There's a mousetrap in the house! There's a mousetrap in the house!"
The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."
So the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house ... the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.
The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer's wife.
The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home she still had a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the barnyard for the soup's main ingredient: chicken.
But his wife's sickness continued. Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. But alas, the farmer's wife did not get well. She died.
So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.
So, please remember the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn't concern you, remember the chicken, the pig and the cow.

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.

Each of us is a vital thread in another person's tapestry. Our lives are woven together for a reason.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eagle River Book Signing & New Blogger Features

Here I am at Book World in Eagle River on Oct. 3. I had a  really nice setup, close to where people walk in, so they couldn't miss me. Also, I was in front of the bestsellers, which helped my cause.        Outside was nippy, but inside was warm and toasty.  Almost everyone who came inside after checking out all the antiques and other offerings in Downtown Eagle River for Cranberry Fest remarked how nice and warm it was in the store. Warmth was definitely a draw. Besides Book World, another attraction was the candy shop next store. Lots of people toted yellow and brown striped bags, which I soon recognized. No, I didn't break down and go next store for candy, but it was tempting.
Not only did readers purchase Killer Career, but some also bought Two Wrongs and Girl of My Dreams, so it doesn't hurt to bring along the backlist books, just in case. Next Saturday is Book World in Minocqua, Wisconsin from 11am-1pm.

This is the first time I've used the new Blogger for uploading a photo. It's a nice setup. Once the photo is uploaded, I got to choose the size and spot, and also had the option of changing it to another size and spot. Good idea.

Have you tried any of the new Blogger features? If so, let us know about them.

Morgan Mandel

The Vook Revealed

What will they think of next?

Well, keep asking and we might keep getting new answers. The latest, and maybe not so unexpected is the integration of print and video material. The article that appears in Publisher's Weekly describes it as the following:

"In an experiment testing consumers’ interest in integrated print and video content, Simon & Schuster has partnered with multimedia start-up Vook to create a quartet of titles that melds print and video. The fruits of the partnership are four vooks—titles the West Coast company describes as neither book nor e-book—available as apps via the iTunes store and as web-based editions at both and"

For the complete article go to: and search on Vook.

It almost sounds like something Mr. Spock would have invented.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Things to Do by Margot Justes

This will be a short blog, Sisters in Crime is hosting an event for writers and readers today at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park at 11:00, since my daughter is giving the presentation, I thought I’d attend. She will be discussing current research in Chemical Weapons Detection. A light topic.

This is by way of letting you know it will be a busy weekend, since after her speech we’re going to lunch with a friend and then I have to get ready because kiddies are coming and we’ll decorate the house for Halloween. Somewhere in there will be a trip to Target to get the latest decorations and of course cooking to feed the munchkins.

This weekend is for family but I am also working on my third book and trying to go through all the pictures of Venice.

In the meantime, my article on Paris just came out in the latest edition of Crime Spree Magazine. I’m doing final edits for A Fire Within after getting the novella back from Mary Welk, she did a fantastic job editing it and I am also doing edits for A Hotel in Bath.

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.
available on

Friday, October 2, 2009

GET a 2nd and 3rd Opinion Says the Manuscript Doctor by Robert W. Walker

Never take one editor’s or one teacher’s opinion of your work. As a college freshman, I was told that I would NEVER publish a book. This by my creative writing instructor. I put him in a scene in Killer Instinct, making him a small town, useless pimp. Forty five books later, I can safely say he was a pimp to begin with. I am a real teacher, a good editor, and a fine speaker at heart, and I love sharing all the hard-won knowledge of the business and the craft of writing. Miranda and I are speaking at the West Virginia Book Festival on Oct. 11th at the Charleston Civic Center, Charleston, WV at 2:30PM on how to get happily published without any “title” or “content” fights and it is a library sponsored program and free to the public.

I also operate The Knife Editing Services wherein your book goes through a complete autopsy on my literary slab. I have ghost written books and helped develop books into the healthiest books they can be. More info on The Knife aka me, myself, and I can be found below. I am also teaching as Adjunct Professor at West Virginia State University at present. All this while writing the next novel and most likely editing someone else’s as well as grading English 101 and 102 comp papers! Meanwhile, I have never seen a book with Professor Pimp’s name on the cover. Moral of the story –

Turn on your BS Detector. Be wary of those who want to circle the wagons of negativity around you. Be wary of those who are so sure that you are not “good enough” while they themselves have accomplished nothing. Or the hardened, embittered burn out cases whether that be a run in with a Harlan Ellison or a professor or doctorate candidate who is all too anxious to hear the sound of his or her own voice rather than give you useful, practical advice. Be cautious of those who BS you. You go to a Professor who teaches poetry to allay you fears of having to deal with poetry and all he can say is he does not know how to help you and perhaps you ought best to NOT take his class…just a lazy jerk.

Hope this helps you to be a more determined writer and until next time, happy writing.

Rob Walker
Find us on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Crimespree
"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

Thursday, October 1, 2009

RUSSIAN ROULETTE, a review by DL Larson

"Do it or your fiancee will die."

Hannibal Jones, a Washington D.C. private investigator, finds a Russian assassin waiting for him in his office. The conversation doesn't go well. Actually there isn't much of a conversation. Hannibal listens to the demand; he must investigate an Algerian the assassin believes to be a fraud and unworthy of the woman they both claim to love. The woman, Viktoriya, is connected to the Russian Red Mayfia.

Hannibal Jones is a smart man and so is his creator, Austin S. Camacho who gives his readers a fast pace mystery of intrigue. RUSSIAN ROULETTE, a Hannibal Jones Thriller, takes place in parts of the Capitol city most of us have never been. His search for truth draws him deeper into the underworld of illegal dwellings where fortunes are made and lost in an evening. The more Hannibal discovers the more he doesn't know and the search continues. Viktoriya's father was killed, but no one is talking, not even Viktoriya's mother. The Russian assassin hands out knowledge as if he's feeding crumbs to a pet. The Algerian isn't really an Algerian, and further investigation takes Hannibal into international quicksand. All the while, his beloved Cindy is being watched, her life is at stake and she doesn't realize it. She simply thinks he has gone awol over this case. She has lunch with another man. Even more unsettling is the Russian assassin has taken up residence in his office, eating at his desk, sleeping on his couch. Hannibal's neighbors wonder what's up. If only Hannibal knew himself.

Hannibal Jones mans up! He grows tired of being held at gunpoint at every turn. The threat has lost its effect. He wants his life back, his woman and his office! But time is running out and Viktoriya's life is in jeapordy. Hannibal has run out of clues, and then the unexpected happens. The assassin becomes his ally.

Becoming friends with a Russian killer is not the smartest thing Hannibal has ever done, or is it? Read RUSSIAN ROULETTE, and decide for yourself. You won't be disappointed. Austin S. Camacho has given us a great mystery thriller. I am disappointed in one thing ... I'm disappointed I haven't read the other Hannibal Jones mysteries: The Troubleshooter, Blood and Bone, Collateral Damage, and Damaged Goods.

Austin S. Camacho captivates the reader from the beginning and delivers a satisfying conclusion. Be sure to read the epilogue. Hannibal has a few things he wants to discuss with his lady love.

Til next time ~

DL Larson