Thursday, December 30, 2010

Don't Beat Up Your Blessings! by DL Larson

This time of year many of us take a moment to reflect on the past, grimacing at what we did not accomplish and skimming over the many wonderful things we have been blessed with! I want to remind all of us not to ignore our blessings!

As I sit at my computer, I glanced around at the dozens of boxes I waded through to reach my desk. The boxes are empty now and why all the discarded Christmas cast offs ended up in my office is still unclear, but I realized several things as I made my way across the room. It doesn't matter what was in the boxes, the pile represents the giving and joy behind the present. What a blessing to have a family who cares for one another.

Next I glanced at the correspondence I have to deal with. Instead of sighing with exasperation at once again being behind schedule, I take a moment to be thankful for opportunities available to me. I have choices, decisions to be made, and no one will interfere with my commitments, no one will step in and say, "hey, lady, you can't do that." I have two blessings all mingled together in a pile of mail, choice and opportunity. How wonderful is that?

My WIP is tucked away for the time being and I can hear my characters through the cupboard door snipping at me to make them a priority in my life. Okay, yes, that sounds a bit unbalanced that make-believe characters are talking to me, but if you are a writer, I hope you understand the pressing need consuming me to return to my work in progresss. They aren't going anywhere until I do something with them. They haven't tried to escape, no one else knows who they are or what they are capable of, except me! What a blessing to have my characters, my story-line hanging around waiting for me.

I've just been told our electricity is about to be turned off due to some repair work needed to be completed, so I will wrap this up quickly. Sometimes blessings are disguised as problems, conflicts, and frustating situations. Don't miss out on a blessing simply because it doesn't fit the perfect description of what a blessing is supposed to be. Hard work and conflict are some of the best opportunities we can ever hope to have.

Happy New Year!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's your GMC for 2011?

GMC is so necessary in manuscripts, as in everyday life. Here's my New Year's Resolutions (GMC):

Be Better Organized
Lose Weight
Finish Writing My Book.

It would be so nice to have everything where I want it when I need it.
It's healthy not to weigh a lot, plus easier to get into clothes.
I'm a writer, but I want something to show for my efforts, especially when people ask me when my next book's coming out.

I don't always have time to put things where they should be, or come up with plans on how to do what needs doing.
So much tempting food to ignore, not to mention food is usually part of socializing.
Day job, home life, marketing, online friends to keep up with, research, everyday life, inner editor, other distractions.

What's your GMC for 2011?

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Day After

Merry Christmas!

As many times as I heard that phrase yesterday and the day before, another featured prominently as well. "I can't believe it's over already." All the weeks of hustle, bustle, and anticipation to prepare the perfect holiday for friends and family have come to an end and Christmas is over for another year.

But rather than ending, I like to think of it as beginning, with a new kind of anticipation. Wondering what was in all of the colorful presents beneath the tree had many on pins and needles. Now the anticipation of getting to play with, watch, read, wear, use...all of those wonderful gifts comes into play. Revisitng the open gifts under the tree is as much fun as wondering what was in them in the first place. And they can be enjoyed for the weeks, months, years to come.

Writing a book is much the same. Weeks, months, sometimes years of work are put into creating the perfect story for your characters. And then one day, you write those magic words: The end...and they lived happily ever after...or something to that effect. There is a little bit of let down...afterall, you've spent quite a while with these characters and their love affair, how can you just let them go?

But you're not letting them go. Now it's time to revisit them. Make things just so. Not just for yourself, but for the legion of readers that awaits! And hopefully one day, you, and all of those readers, will hold that book in eager hands and enjoy it in a completely different way.

So in the week(s) ahead I have a lot of reading, watching, and writing to do!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays by Margot Justes

A touch of Chicago Winter Wonderland.
This one will be short and sweet, I have 10 friends and family coming to dinner, need to spend a bit more time time in the kitchen.

Merry Christmas!
Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wishing all our readers and bloggers a Happy Healthy Holiday and New Year! May all your dreams come true!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you and yours as you celebrate this holiday season!

If you're looking for a quick, cozy read to curl up in front of the fireplace with, check out my free read: Mistletoe and Folly from The Wild Rose Press.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Holiday Stuff by Margot Justes

This will be a short blog, I'm expecting 20 people to dinner, and for the first time, I'm going the tapas route; from Spanish potatoes, samosas, Italian beef, chestnut and prosciutto ravioli in olive oil sprinkled with Grana Padana Parmesan cheeses. I've included a spinach and artichoke dip, hummus, a good selection of cheeses and sausages, American style wings and meatballs cooked in wine sauce.

I wanted something different with many varied flavors, but just in case I have mulled wine and eggnog with rum on hand, hopefully everyone will have a good time.

I was at Costco yesterday and bought a Brie goat cheese, and it is scrumptious. Dinner consisted of a toasted English muffin and the goat cheese, melted right into all the crevices. Delicious.

If anyone wants to make an easy and yummy fudge, here it is.
1/2 cup of butter ( 1 stick)
1 large can of evaporated milk
4 cups of sugar
1/2 lb small marshmallows
2 oz bitter chocolate
12 oz chocolate chips (I use all dark Ghirardelli chocolate)
12 oz dark chocolate (each bar is 4 oz)
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

Combine butter, canned milk and sugar. Stir over medium heat until dissolved, cook to a boil. (about 5 min). Turn off heat and add the marshmallows. Stir until melted, add the chocolate, one at a time. Stir until all is dissolved, add the vanilla and nuts. Mix well. Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap, pour and let cool. Remove from cookie sheet, cut in pieces and serve.


Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Traditions and Unexpected Delights by DL Larson

At our house, we have many traditions during the Christmas season. One of our favorites is our annual Caroling party. It started when my youngest was in preschool. My husband and I wanted our kids to know Christmas was not about getting things, but giving of ourselves. We wanted to teach our kids that Santa was fun and to be loved, but the baby Jesus was the reason for the season and we needed to find a way to show our love to others. We chose a caroling outing!

This Sunday we will host our 25th Caroling party! The must haves for the party seem endless; meatballs top the list, Apricot brandy slush comes in a fast second and pictures of guests in our antique sleigh on the front porch is right up there with must do!

Our schedule of places to stop to sing is an ever changing and shifting list. We visit a few older folks each year, but it is the weary young families we love to surprise! Our group gathers in front of our church to pile unto our open trailer and off we go, bundled against the weather and flashlights to light up the night.
Our singing ranges from boistrous "Here comes Santa Claus" to more sedate "Silent Night." We traditionally excel with Rudolph and Jingle Bells and always end each stop with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas!"

Last year my granddaughters surprised us by wanting to add to our Caroling party. They wanted to host a charity drive. All I could think of was, "Wow." Our guests eagerly contributed to the cause and we delivered a trunk full of donated supplies to a homeless shelter the following day. I was so moved by my granddaughters caring for others at the age of eight!

This year Alex and Kylie chose to continue their charity work. Our guests have been asked to bring new or slightly used coats, boots, hats, gloves, etc. for Hope Haven, a homeless shelter in a neighboring town. These gifts will take up a bit more room than the cleaning supplies and paper products they asked for last year. But we will gladly find the room to accommodate the contributions.

To say I'm proud of my granddaughters is an understatement! They understand "giving" better than I ever did at that age. I can only imagine what can become of this learning experience. I feel the future is in good hands because I know they are not the only caring children around. Many, many kids are aware of the needs of others and they don't ignore the need, they do something about it!

And isn't that one of the joys of the season ~ sharing our bounty with others so all may enjoy life to its fullest.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not So Perfect Holidays by Morgan Mandel

For conflict, which we all know is  essential in a good novel, it's always fun to torture our characters. One way is to keep the main characters apart for important occasions, such as Holidays.

Here are some ways I've thought of. Maybe you can think up more. If so, let us know.

Another love interest
Preoccupation with work or a special project.

Here's hoping none of these apply to you for the Holidays!

Morgan Mandel

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa Down! by June

With all the snow and blowing winds out and about Chicago this weekend, we had a bit of trouble with the inflatable Santa at our house. Actually, this is not really so rare. Whenever we turn the outside lights on and Santa doesn’t inflate properly, someone yells “Santa down, Santa down,” and one of the kids throws on their coat and boots and runs out to aid the fallen Christmas icon. Here is one of my own little elves setting things straight.

Until next time - Ho Ho Ho!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Five Star Review

I finally received another review for This Can't Be Love, and it's a fabulous one! Silvermage at Night Owl Romance gave it FIVE stars and a Top Read! (Can you picture me happy dancing?!)

"This Can’t Be Love was a great book. It was amusing to see the main characters struggle to get along at the cabin. Jessica wanted to do everything. The gradual build of Zach and Jessica's relationship was done well and they really got to know each other. They talked about their feelings. Jessica was a strong yet not over the top. I liked the closeness with her grandfather and her family. The romantic scenes between Zach and Jessica were intense in a good way. I also enjoyed them fighting their feelings to the point that they fell deeper in love and into a more physical relationship. They were tender together and happy. This book never dulled for me."

Happy reading!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Season by Margot Justes

I've been absent for two weeks, Thanksgiving weekend was fantastic, had enough turkey on Thursday and again on Saturday to last me a year. Very convenient.

Last Saturday, Dina and I went downtown. The falling snow and relative warmth and little wind made it a perfect winter wonderland in which to soak up the holiday cheer.

We ate breakfast in a restaurant that faced the Chicago River, a young and very talented jazz guitarist, made our meal a sensation.

Breakfast was followed by a walk down to the Art Institute to welcome back the Chagall Windows, and I visited an old friend, the new wing now houses the Old Guitarist by Picasso.

From there we walked down Michigan Avenue to Nordstrom's, Dina needed new shoes. Pretty soon they will be knocking out walls in her bedroom to accommodate said shoe collection. She didn't buy any that day, but we had an invitation from Nordstrom's for a special event on Sunday, of course we went, and yes, she bought shoes, more than a pair. But I digress.

After Nordstrom we went to Navy Pier for dinner at Bubba Gump, my granddaughter's choice, and the Navy Pier Winter Wonderland. In the process we received a gracious tour of the Coast Guard Icebreaker, Mackinaw.

That tour was an incredible experience, the massive ship's utilitarian appearance had a few holiday trinkets strewn along, and actually felt homey. But you never forgot this was a working ship, the people on board faced extreme and severe conditions to save lives, they had limited comfort and most likely would not be home for the holidays. It was a sobering experience.

We finished the evening with Navy Pier festivities, and it was fantastic, the decorations were stunning, with many rides for the kiddies, it was truly a Winter Wonderland.

And I might add by the time I got home, I did not want to move, in fact i was so tired I couldn't.

Now, I'm going to visit my kitchen and make some rum balls, simple, delicious, and fun to make.

2 1/2 cups of ground Vanilla Wafers (About 1 box)
5 1/2 cups of gound walnuts
1 cup of honey
1 cup of dark rum (I use Myers's)
1 cup of powdered sugar
Mix all ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for a couple of hours. Form into small balls and roll in powdered sugar.

I recommend frequent tasting.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wikileaks for books? Book-e-Leaks is Here!

I recently put together a blog I considered necessary to fill a need. I am sharing information about the new blog here at Acme --Book-E-Leaks is here! Leak info. about YOUR books here! This is just the kind of blog all writers and readers need - a place where writers are encouraged to speak freely and openly about their favorite titles created by THEM without being attacked but rather appreciated for appreciating their own works and favorite lines and ideas and methods used as well as news of new book launches, signings, sales strategies that worked or failed --- anything leaking from your book from inception to completion and publication....whether an ebook or a paper book. Post your news and great feelings of completion and closure right here at Book-E-Leaks. Share great blurbs, quotes, snippets from reviews here as well. All without fear of being attacked or having your book called SPAM. Don't know about you, but my life's work is not SPAM.

To get started here I will go first since I have bragging rights here just as you do. I will post a great line from Titanic 2012....and you do your best to add a great line from YOUR book so that readers will have a BookEleak to go may also want to leak such lines on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere with a link to Book-E-leaks.

So come on over to

do too leave a comment!
Rob Walker (order direct)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An Extreme Make-Over by DL Larson

For Christmas my family is giving my granddaughters an extreme make-over of their playroom. The girls have outgrown so much of what is in there ~ kitchen set, baby dolls and cradles. They love music and crafts and so we have banned them from their play area and are in the process of re-doing, re-painting and making things new. It has so far been an exciting challenge seeing the whole thing through our imaginations and the bits of drawings we've made. Our biggest hope is it will be over-the-top fun for my granddaughters.

My son is building a stage, my good friend is tearing apart a velvet duvet for stage curtains, our friend an electrician is changing a few outlets and inserting more lighting, and the rest of us are busy painting and searching the stores for inexpensive additions like posters, chalk board, dress-up clothes and hooks to display them. We have only a few more weeks to pull it all together, but already my granddaughters are giggly with excitement, wanting to know exactly when on Christmas Day can they see their new playroom.

All this work of rearranging and shuffling to find the perfect accessories has me thinking about my own make-overs of the past. I once wanted to be a writer, but it wasn't until I took a bold step of changing everything in my life could I begin. I stopped wishing and took action. I went back to school, quit a perfectly wonderful job with full benefits and took on a part-time one in order to have time to write. My family tells me they did not suffer from the lack of income and my husband supported me and still encourages me to follow my dream. I saw it all so clearly in my mind. I simply had to change in order to make it come true.

Change is scary. Change is difficult. Change changes so many things! I like to think I'm still evolving, changing for the better. I look back on how far I've come and marvel I had the courage to move away from the familiar. I also see the distance I have yet to cover in order to accomplish my dreams still unfulfilled. And like my granddaughters, I can't wait to see how it will all turn out!

How about you? Are you ready for a extreme make-over? Have you taken the steps to move toward your dreams? Share with us today!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Are You Out of This World? by Morgan Mandel

Most of the time I'm not in this world. I'm either reading or writing a book, watching TV or a DVD or going to a movie. At least, when I'm reading blogs, and hopefully on Facebook and other networks, I'm in this world, unless people are making up stuff.

Sometimes, I wonder. Am I living my own life, or someone  or many someone elses'? Should I be paying more attention to the here and now, and not this imaginary world?

But, it's so much fun not being of this world.

What about you? Are you out of this world, like I am?

Morgan Mandel
Escape to a Romantic Suspense -
Killer Career on Kindle for 99 cents

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google Launches EBook Store

Now it's getting interesting.

More than a decade ago at writer's conferences and other venues I talked about the future of publishing progressing more towards electronic delivery and print-on-demand. I was treated like a person from Mars.

Well, guess what! Here we are.

With the launch of the Google Ebook Store there is now strong competition for all things EBook.

See the attached link for the PW article:

Truth be told, I also commented on how it would take younger generations who embrace all the new techonologies and the cost of doing business to swing publishing towards Ebooks and print-on-demand; and indeed, that's what has happened.

My questions now concern how this impacts on small presses who actually embraced the Ebook and print-on-demand format very early on and often were criticized by the larger publishers as being less-than-professional for doing so.

Self-publishing is going to be another interesting arena. I hope someone is collecting data on this because it will be quite revealing.

And if you're curious about all the different EReaders out there go to the following link:,0,3208287.photogallery

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Checking My List Twice

As Christmas draws nearer, my list of things to do grows longer. Isn't that always the case?! So each day I check my list to see what I can check off, and what still needs to be done. Here's where I'm at so far:

Christmas cookies - check (baked yesterday)
Christmas cards - three quarterss of a check (They're written, addressed, and sealed, but I'm waiting on stamps from the post office.)
Christmas decs - check (done the day after Thanksgiving: two trees, outside lights, etc.)
Christmas shopping - half a check? - (I'm getting there.)
Presents wrapped - no check (Haven't even started!)
Watching Christmas movies with my hubby - check (We get in at least two each week.)

So, I guess I'm getting there. Of course somehwere in the grand scheme of things, I'd love to have some time to write. Maybe that will be my present to myself over the holidays. I have two weeks off coming up at the end of the month. It's my goal to write SOMEthing each day. We'll see how that goes! I'd love to add some checks to that particular list.

Until next time,

Happy Reading! (If you're looking for a quick holiday read, I have a FREE read available at The Wild Rose Press: Mistletoe and Folly.)


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Formatting A Novel by DL Larson

While searching for a publisher/agent, I've discovered several things. One, it's harder than it should be; and Two, it is as exciting as it is exhausting. As I've searched through possible matches I realize each publishing house has more advice on how to format the manuscript to their specifications rather than dwell on good story content.

This confuses me. I've spent months, no, years developing my characters as I progress through my series. I have two series, one historical and the other a sci-fi action romance. I love my characters and have spent endless hours making sure I have given them life on the pages. But in order to send my work out I have to re-format my work, knowing it may well never get read.

Perhaps it's my age and my education that is slowing me up. When I was in secretarial school, many many years ago, I typed all day long, creating one perfect page after another on an electric typewriter! Okay, I'm sure you're chuckling thinking, how old is this gal! But the consequences of an imperfect page meant a zero in the grade column for the day. So when a publisher requests only one space after a period instead of the old standard of two, I break out into a sweat. I would be considered completely incompetent if I ever handed such an abomination into my instructors. And this double spacing between paragraphs nearly sends me howling into the night. What is that? If the premise of one space after a period is to conserve space on the page then for heaven's sake why the double space between paragraphs? I'm at a complete loss why one would chose to do such a thing.

So instead of working on my REAL work, I'm fretting over things that shouldn't matter all that much. When searching for a publisher/agent, a standard for ALL houses should suffice. Double spaced, one inch margins, 12 font that is easy to read. Period. What is so difficult about that? Why all this fuss about other stuff?

Now this about sending my work via on-line brings up another confusing matter. Some won't open an attachment and my novel will be dismissed without pause if I'm foolish enough to send it in such a way. THEN, others want my manuscript only as an attachment, which I think is the easier method to control. At least this way, the work usually stays in the format I put it in. Some want my name on every page, others don't want my name, only the title. Again, why is this so important for considering my book? Every book I've read usually has both on every open page, the author on one side, the title on the other balanced between page numbers. How does this factor into the work they should be reading? I'm hoping they get beyond the header and read the content, but lately I'm worried I haven't passed the "follow these instructions correctly or else." I've probably slipped into the "or else" column and don't realize it because I'm more worried about the content of my story than persnickity formatting. I would think specific formatting would come after a contract has been signed, not before.

Formatting a novel is usually done at Chapter One, which means the last chapter will be formatted just like the first one. Please tell me that's what others do. I don't change formats mid-stream, and I can't imagine any writer who does. So again, why all this fuss over personalized formatting when searching for publication?

Lastly, then I'll shush, I find pretending to know the publisher rather silly. I'm looking to sell my book, yes, but that does not mean I have to spend endless hours figuring out who the publisher is. I look for matches, yes, I don't want to waste anyone's time. I send my work out to those who I believe would be interested in my work because of what I saw on their website or some other venue. If they are interested in historicals, then I'm ready to delve deeper and see if they are looking for the type of historical I write. If they are a professional and I'm a professional, isn't that enough to make contact? Do I really have to say I loved their last book published? Do I have to say I noticed they enjoy bike riding as much as I do? Or some other social connection when in fact this is a business query and the getting to know you can come later rather than before we've talked over what brought us together, namely my book! I really don't understand this tactic of familiarity when contacting another professional. It rings false to me and a little desperate, and really, do publishers need to be coddled in such a way? I keep hearing how busy they are, so I'd rather stick to business and chit-chat after business is taken care of.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Elevator Pitch Time by Morgan Mandel

I haven't done this for a while, so here goes.

It's elevator pitch time. In case you don't know what that is, it's a very short description of your book, including a great hook to grab our attention and a tease to pique our interest. Don't make it too long, or we'll get bored. Leave a buy link and website or blogspot, if you wish. Only one pitch, please.

Here's mine:

Julie's decision to give up her partnership and become a full-time writer angers and hurts her bestfriend and law partner, Dade. Her attraction to bestselling author, Tyler, who harbors a dangerous secret, leads to further alienation from Dade, along with surprising and disturbing discoveries. Does Tyler merely write about murders? Is Dade only a bestfriend, or something more?
Now 99 cents on kindle .

Your turn. Leave your elevator pitch in the comment section.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ahhhh - The Holidays

Well, I may have been one of the very few individuals that didn't partake in Black Friday. I don't like the crowds. I didn't even partake in Cyber Monday! Don't like Cyber Crowds either. Plus, I'm rather turned off by the whole concept of waiting in line in the wee hours of the morning on the off chance that one might get their fists on one of the few of "whatever-was-advertised" special item. Retailers often hype a hot product but only keep four, maybe six, maybe a few more in stock. Not very good odds for a whole lot of freezing fun waiting in line.

This holiday season I've turned to more of the homemade and regifting mode of celebration. No, it's not tacky and given the economic realities these days it's actually a better path and one that was used over the centuries quite successfully.

One of the best things to pass along is a favorite book and given the explosion of ebooks a physical book just might become a treasured gift to receive. The news recently reported that hardcover books are down 40% and ebooks are up about the same amount.

I bought my Kindle before the recent model was released and have to say that there are certain types of reading I prefer via electronic means to include newspapers and some blogs. However, sometimes a physical book is the best way to read.

What's important here is having choices.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Holiday Season

Well, the holiday season is upon us. I haven't even finished my nice four and a half day Thanksgiving weekend and I'm already dreading the week ahead and the busyness it will bring.

I love this time of year. The decorations. The music. The shopping. But there always seems to be so much going on, it's hard to really enjoy the season. In an already busy life, things seem to get even busier.

So I've been thinking about what I need to let go of to give me some peace. It's hard to choose. My writing's already suffered. I can't remember the last time I sat down and was able to put some quality and quantity on the screen. I don't see my husband enough as it is between meetings and practices and basketball games and countless other things. There's not much I can cut out of my day job...those hours are pretty much set in stone.

There have been recent articles and presentations about managing your time during the busy holiday season. Trouble is, I've been too busy to really sit down and take any of that in.

So, how do you do it over the holidays? How do you fit it all in - jobs, writing, family, friends, etc. - and still have time to enjoy this most wonderful of seasons?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving! by DL Larson

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? I have trouble narrowing it down to one. It's a combo type of thing ~ mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravey, yum! Sweet potatoes, squash with tons of butter and brown sugar, a refreshing raspberry or cranberry salad? Then just when I think I'm about to burst the desserts are served. What a day!

My question is, how do folks manage to pull themselves out of the turkey stupor to shop on Black Friday? I've never understood that. I'm much too content to stay home. I usually pack harvest decorations away and drag out the Christmas ones. I can hardly wait for lunch to dig into the leftovers! I enjoy the transition time. The house is soon a collective mess of boxes and tubs full of two seasons worth of decorations.

No matter how you spend your Thanksgiving time, I hope you have a chance to be with folks you love and do what you enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

P.S. Do you say stuffing or dressing? I heard on the radio yesterday, stuffing is what cooks inside the turkey, dressing is the one baked in a bowl!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Do you have a Christmas story coming out? by Morgan Mandel

Believe it or not, November is almost gone. Many stores have Christmas decorations up in the hopes of making holiday  sales.

Also, many authors have been preparing for Christmas as well with short stories and books ready to be read.

I don't have anything Christmasy in the works, unless I can think up a short story very soon.

What about you? Do you have a Christmas novel or short story coming out soon, or maybe one that's already been published? If so, please leave the title, link and description in the comment section here so readers can add it to their shopping list.

Or, maybe you know of a good one by someone else. Let us know, please.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week by June

In honor of this being Thanksgiving Week I want to share some of the things I am grateful for.

My family, they are happy and healthy
My friends, they are always there and very supportive.
My critique partner. Margot what would I do without you!
Chicago North RWA, the best group of ladies, (and the occasional man) who let me share my writing war wounds, rejection letters and disappointments, but always encourage me to keep trying.
The Wild Rose Press, who gave me my first writing contract.
And of course I can’t forget all the wonderful readers out there who bought Ordinary Me and all the reviewers who have praised my story.

Thank you all!

Have a wonderful week and enjoy!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Live and in Person


Today I am out and about with Margot and Morgan doing a book signing at the Prospect High School Snowbird Craft Show.

If you're in the neighborhood, we'd love to have you stop by. We'll all have books for sale, and we'd be more than happy to autograph them for you! I'll have my latest release, This Can't Be Love. Our booth is number 76.

Prospect High School
801 W. Kensington Road
Mount Propsect, IL 60056

Hope to see you there.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holiday Season by Margot Justes

With the approaching holidays we’re all scurrying to get ready, we shop for food, we shop for gifts, we clean and cook; all the accoutrement that go with the season

I wonder, if amidst all that clatter, do we really take time to spend with family and friends. That marvelous dinner that we shopped for, cooked and prepared, do we spend it together or are we eating and listening for the latest sports scores.

Is the TV on so that no one will miss the latest and greatest, is it simply turned on for noise? Or is it turned off, and an actual conversation is taking place at the dinner table?

Who knows what world problems you can solve...of course it won't go beyond the dinner table, but you'll feel so much better having voiced your opinion about what is wrong with the world today.

You can discuss the latest scientific thrills coming from CERN, and the capture if only for a brief moment of an antimatter proton, that is certainly exciting, of course you have to understand it first, for me all of that is magic and beyond comprehension, but I recognize that it is a magnificent discovery, and brings us one step closer to an understanding of our beginning.

By the same token, that TV being on, and everyone listening to whatever game happens to be on, isn't that in itself a tradition? A form of relaxation and togetherness as family and guests gather around the TV and discuss the latest events, while nibbling on goodies.

This time of year is for family and friends and a slowdown from out every day lives, we certainly work hard all year and deserve this release during the holiday season.

I’m just curious how we enjoy celebrating it. How do we spend that precious and short time we have during this season? What do we do that is different from the rest of the year?

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Book Signings, Past, Present, and Future?

This week at Acme Authors the discussion has been on book signings. Do we? Or don't we? Is it worth our time? Our money? Our effort?

My first book signing was at a Barnes and Noble in a nearby college town. I was so excited; my promo material had just arrived, so I had posters to display, post cards to hand out as well as business cards. I had my easel, I had my press release and sent it to the bookstore a few weeks in advance. It included a display poster for promo purposes to advertise the day and time of my book signing. I had also included professional looking hand-outs to be used at the registers. I had read how to make a book signing a success and I was ready. The book store had ordered twenty books. I prayed I could sell half of them.

I arrived early, a big feat for me who is always running late. I clamored through the door looking for my display poster and noticed a small smudged picture that resembled my book cover with a hastily written notice about time and date. I couldn't read it and wondered if anyone else had bother to look at it.

The store manager greeted me and we set off to the book signing table. Once I set all my stuff down, I looked around and wondered if there was some mistake. I was in the cookbook section which would have been fine had I even one recipe in my historical. But alas, my book did not include food preparation of any kind.

I sold three books that day, one to my husband, and one to each of my daughters. The store manager returned my press release packet, saying she hadn't had time to display it, but didn't want to throw it away in case I needed it for another book signing. Since all was dated for the event, it was pretty much useless at that point.

I learned many things at that book signing:
1. No one cares about my book's success as much as I do. The sooner I accept that concept, the sooner the pain of reality will diminish.

2. No sales does not mean failure.

3. Success should not be equated with money earned. SUCCESS SHOULD NOT BE EQUATED WITH MONEY EARNED. success should not be equated with money earned ... repeat as needed.

4. Diversify!

5. And most importantly: To pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again!

I've been at book signings with dozens of other authors and enjoyed every moment chatting and networking. I learned not to expect much in the department of sales and have been surprised when things went great and have learned to accept it when the sales were not there. I've stood in the cold and heat at bazaars, been to craft shows where someone forgot to promote the event and hundreds of vendors were disappointed. I've been the lone book seller at an airport and giggled at the many ways folks can ignore a person. I've received numerous notes, not just emails, from people who told me they bought a book because I looked friendly and then were delighted to have enjoyed my book. I've attended many library events, knowing full well library patrons do not generally buy books, they borrow books! But they are avid readers and all I need is a chance to entice them to read mine. And most libraries treat authors GREAT!

Book clubs continue to amaze me. I've attended probably a half-dozen for each of my books and am always surprised when the members have read one my books and want to talk about it. I LOVE THIS! Discussing my plot, my characters and the consequences of their actions is a high-light I treasure. That's when I know I've hit the SUCCESS mark! I know I should care if they bought one book or a dozen, or if they got their book from the local library. The important fact is they read my book, they readily discussed it and hopefully urged someone else to do the same.

Book signings in the future? Sure, I'll participate as I'm able, mostly to reach my goal to educate book store managers on how to run a successful book signing. I've attended book fairs in Kentucky and big book signings in Phoenix and Chicago, plus American Library Association luncheons. All book events have their quirks that drive authors crazy, but beyond that they have what all authors crave - folks who love books!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What About Book Signings? Do you do them, or go to them? by Morgan Mandel

If you're in the area, three of us Acme Author List members will be over at the Snowbird Craft Show 2010 at Prospect High School Field House on Sunday, Novem ber 21, 2010, from 10-4pm, signing our books. Free parking, raffle, concessions, bake sale. I, Morgan Mandel, plus Debra St. John and Margot Justes would love to say hello to you.

On one of the egroups I belong to, and also on Facebook, some of the members confessed they disliked doing book signings. I admit they can be discouraging. With the economy the way it is, often the public is attracted to the big name draws, not us midlist authors.

I do lots more online promotion these days, but I do like to get out every once in a while, like I'll be doing on Sunday,  to spread the word. I know it's hard to believe for some of us, but there are people out there who still don't use computers, and still enjoy reading printed books.

What about you? Do you participate in book signings, at bookstores or other venues, either as an author or as a reader? What's your take on the best place to sell a book?

Morgan Mandel
Killer Career, a romantic suspense, now 99 cents at Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why’d you write that book? By June Sproat

Newsflash: I did not like high school. At All.

Whenever I step into a high school my stomach starts to turn a little bit and my palms start to sweat. High school anxiety rushes back and all the years since graduation just melt away.

So when my daughter made the basketball team she asked me if I thought I would still be able to go to her games, since they would all take place IN A HIGH SCHOOL.

“Of course!” I said, my smile so tight I thought my face would snap.

But then I realized hey, this is a perfect research opportunity for my future YA books.
While I was watching her practice game I started talking to another parent who, like me, didn’t like high school so much. And then it happened. I told her that was why I wrote my book.

ME: “When you were younger and something happened at school did you ever feel like it was the end of the world?”

Other parent: “Oh yeah”

ME: “And when the whole thing settled, it wasn’t the end of the world, was it?”

Other parent: “nope”

ME: “Well, that’s why I wrote it. I wanted other young people to know that things happen, and it’s not the end of the world. It’s tough to be a teen, but they will get through it. I did, you did and they will too.”

So, in a nutshell, that’s why I wrote my book.

Have a great week!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Review

My first review showed up for "This Can't Be Love". Emily over at Single Titles gave it four stars! And I love that she thinks Zach has charisma. (Now I only hope the reviews continue to roll in...)

Review: This Can't Be Love by Debra St. John
"Wanting to escape to somewhere familiar, Jessica Hart shows up at her Grandfather's cabin only to find a naked man in the tub."
Wanting to escape to somewhere familiar, Jessica Hart shows up at her Grandfather’s cabin only to find a naked man in the tub. Out of touch with her family and reeling from a recent breakup, the last thing she needs is another man her life but Zach Rawlings won’t leave despite her attempts to kick him out.

Zach agreed to stay and work on Jessica’s grandfather’s home while he was vacationing. Zach knows Jessica wants him out, but having sublet his apartment he doesn’t plan on leaving despite her attempts to get him to. Zach finds himself attracted to Jessica and her stubbornness; after a kiss is shared she misunderstands his remarks and begins to self doubt her ability with men.

Often hilarious, This Can’t Be Love is a delightful story that takes a vulnerable Jessica and puts her out of her element when she has to deal with Zach. I really liked the oozing personality of Zach, he ignites each page with his charisma. A wonderful story for a rainy day.

Happy Reading (no matter what the weather is like!)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Fabulous Fall by Margot Justes

The murky overcast sky and the colorful leaves on the ground were a perfect reminder that the holidays are approaching. I love this time of year and have already started shopping for my Fakesgiving.

Okay, I have to explain that, since her marriage, my daughter Solonge hosts Thanksgiving every year. When the girls were growing up we always had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and I couldn't give up the holiday. So, I started having our dinner with family and friends on Saturday after Thanksgiving. My 'step-sister' Miriam (we've decided we're sisters) coined the Fakesgiving holiday, and it stuck.

This morning at 7am, I was on the way to my favorite European grocery store, Shop & Save. The time was perfect, the traffic non-existent and the store almost empty. I made a serious dent in my holiday grocery shopping.

The scent of freshly baked bread and cakes wafted throughout the store, it was a temptation, and I never say no to temptation. Well almost never. I bought bread.
And got some of Dina's favorite sausages, and a kiszka. For those not familiar with kiszka, it is a sausage filled with barley and beef blood, seasoned and stuffed in a casing.

Dina is coming home this afternoon to drop off her finicky feline. She's going out of town and I'm cat sitting till after Thanksgiving. I will be hearing midnight meowing discussions, my spoiled kitty does not take kindly to visitors, and Lilly is very territorial, hence the many discussions.

Happy Fall everyone, so far it's been glorious.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rejecting Traditional Publishing & Rejectionists Policies via Ebook PubbX

I am going to keep this short and sweet and to the point. If you are like me and sick to death of having perfectly good work rejected or a series character killed off by your publisher(s) due to nothing foreseeable or reasonable (had two series cut that were both earning good money via one phone call to my agent once), then you may want to join me in Indie Publishing via kindle bookstores. You will find a kindle bookstore in just about every home in the country now...a kindle bookstore near you.

But you say publishing in hardcover with Random House or Penguin is so prestigious. Fine, then go seek your prestige while I sell books, far more books than I ever sold in either paper or hardback with Penguin, working out of their bargain basement line--Berkley Books. The same foolish folk who killed off my Jessica Coran Instinct Series and my Lucas Stonecoat Edge Series same day. Cut me to the quick they did that day. For no apparent reason, and none given. Nothing that held water at least. Myself, I believe it was in-house politics and I had a guilty editor to scaffold my suspicions.

But like a terrible, rending divorce, in the long run it may have been the best thing to ever happen to me as since have discovered how to publish my own work at my own pace in my own time with my own title attached along with getting to make all the decisions involved in publishing work in a professional manner. In essence, although I was rejected by traditional publishing, perhaps even black-balled (certainly felt so), I can now say without impunity that I REJECT them...and reject their whole way of doing business. You know the type of business wherein you are expected to be professional, to be ethical, to be loyal and such but the company owes you no respect, no professionalism, no loyalty, no ethics as they don't need to be honest with you, despite thier expectation of all of the above from you. Sound familiar? That's cause it is not just in publishing but in a myriad of businesses across America.

The sweeping upside of all the accumulated rejections I have gotten over the years is that now I am the only one in a position of such authority over this writer (employer) to reject or fire me as I am also the boss (as kids say, "The boss of me!"). In my other life as one of the stable of mid-list authors for NYC publishers, I was held accountable for the win or the loss while not given any of the responsibility to make that win or loss a reality. In other words held accountable for actions I could not be a party to. Not so with Indie publishing with books. Win or lose, all decisions will have been made by me, and I cannot tell you how freeing up that is, being my own boss, running my own book show. I feel like Barnum and Bailey at this digital platform age of publishing.

Rather than even attempt to read a publisher's royalty statement now I read a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute sales report telling me precisely how many units have sold with returns already figured in or out as it were, with returns hardly worth mentioning as to number, and a readable report at that. I can tell at a glance what titles sold how many in a given day, week, or month. It is the opposite with the infamous author's royalty statement which one sees only six months to a year depending on publishing house, and even then the numbers are unreliable and downright confusing.

In addition, in Indie publishing with the percentage on every book is seventy percent to the author, thirty to Amazon. Amazon is not acting as publisher but rather giving you--as publisher--the wherewithal to distribute and or display your wares on a platform seen by millions. The dynamic is absolutely new and different and has traditional publishers crying in their pillows at night.

If you have thought of placing up an ebook, first go with -- as this is where all the action is -- but by all means do it yourself or hire some expert to do it for you for a one-time fee. Turning it over to a publsihing house to do for you, or giving it up for your agent to do for you is tantamount to asking these others to rob you for the duration of the life of the book. In a two-step process made as simple as it can be, anyone can put up a book at for ebooks and for P.O.D.'s...
so let no one baMboozle you; do it yourself.

Look at how lovely my Children of Salem came out, or more recently my Titanic 2012 looks on the Kindle Shelf. You can have a sneak peek at:  http://ningit/97tRIE

Please leave a comment, ask a question, wave a flag, correct a typo under comments!


Lyric Mania! by DL Larson

Sometime in the past, most of us have had to write a term paper or some other important piece where we sited resources and gave credit to others when quoting another. I've always enjoyed research and finding the exact knowledge I needed to prove my point, I considered part of the writing process. In my first book, Memories Trail, I did a plethora of research and have a bibliography at the end of my book. I gave credit where credit was due.

But the music industry doesn't think that is enough. We can't simply state who the lyrist is, or give credit to a group for their song if we wish to use a line of their song in our work. We can't use anything of any song except the title without written permission. Copyright laws prohibit anyone from using a familiar line, even with credit to the songwriters. In essence, songwriters, vocal artists and others in the music industry do not play well with others!

I'm sure it's because they have extensive degrees and have studied music from famous composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart and were given personal permission to steal, er, excuse me, use their fundamental melodies in contemporary music.

So, let's see, songwriters string a few words together to a great beat not always their own, and then throw a fit when someone wants to use said lyrics in a book and give them credit for the ten word line? Yeah, I'd be upset over the free publicity too. I'd run to my lawyer and cry, "make them stop!" I wouldn't want anyone quoting me, using my hard earned work and telling others about my song.

Please understand, I don't wish the music industry ill, but I'm tired of catering to certain "cultures" and being forced to conform to unrealistic standards. No one wants to be ripped off. I get that! But if someone is willing to give a songwriter credit, is respectful of the content of the song, then where or where is the harm in that? How is this different than when writing a term paper the writer gives a scientist credit for his life-long work? Or crediting a historian for documenting a series of events? Or quoting someone famous, "ask not what your country can do for you ..."

The music industry needs to wake up to the fact that not everyone wants to abuse them. Some of us actually want to do good by sharing a line or two of some great song and thereby enhancing a story and educating a reader. Whether the songwriters want to admit it or not, we writers all live in the same sandbox, using the same words, over and over and over. The difference is, most writers comprehend the fact that once a book is sold and money is exchanged, we don't know if our words, our book will be found in a library, resold at a garage sale, quoted from or swamped for another book. It doesn't matter how many copies are out there, it doesn't matter what happens to them. We've been paid. It's done. What happens after the sale is not our business.

Why is this so difficult for songwriters to comprehend?

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Writing by Morgan Mandel

Monday night's program by Jerilyn Willin at our Chicago-North RWA meeting was about "Writing during the Holidays." Jerilyn mentioned there are habits and traditions we tend to do that put pressure on ourselves. Some of these can still be done away with, or maybe delegated to someone else, and we may be able to enjoy the Holidays more.

She made a lot of sense. I'm determined to keep my writing going and not fall into the trap of making everything perfect for the Holidays. I'll not haul all the decorations up from the basement, just enough to make the house look festive.

My husband and I already made the decision a few years ago to use a small fiber optic tree that fits on our end table instead of a huge one I have to decorate and ponder over where each ornament goes. Well, actually that was done out of necessity, since we still don't trust Rascal not to live up to her name and do something crazy with ornaments. Also, there's just no room for one any more. The fiber optic tree looks beautiful when the lights are off and we enjoy watching it.

The jury is still out about whether or not I'll cook for my side of the family or opt to go out to the Chinese restaurant, the only place open in my area on Christmas. I kind of like giving everyone a home-cooked meal, but there's a lot of time and energy spent doing that when I could be enjoying myself and relaxing instead, and not only that, fitting some writing and reading in.

What about you? Will you go all out, or are you cutting back so you can enjoy the Holidays more?

Morgan Mandel
And now for a commercial break - Killer Career on Kindle is now 99 cents at Amazon and also at Smashwords in multi-formats.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Going with the flow

If you haven't noticed how many changes have been happening in the world of publishing, well you've either taken a really, really long nap or you just don't care. For those of us who do care, the changes have been monumental and eye-opening. Most of the changes revolve around the proliferation of e-readers and e-books. NOTE: You don't have to have an e-reader to read an e-book but many of us do.

So, what's a writer to do! EMBRACE IT!!!!

Charles Dickens was known during his day for serializing his stories/novels. (, many of which dealt with social reform issues. I can easily see a return to serialized novels with the e-book format. In fact, many publishers have seen a spike in sales of novellas and short stories with e-books.

So, instead of becoming a serial killer, become a serial novelist.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Gift of Time

With the end of Daylight Savings time this weekend, Americans were afforded the luxury of an extra hour last night. (Well, technically in the wee hours of the morning...)

So, what did you do with yours?

I'd love to say I used that extra hour to write something profound, to be prolific, to crank out an amazing scene in my WIP. Heck, I'd like to say I used that hour to write anything at all. These days, when there are not enough hours in the day, an extra one is certainly a gift.

So what did I do with mine?

I slept. I've been feeling under the weather, so I used this year's "gift" to get some much needed rest. I do feel a tad bit guilty for not using it in some other meaningful way, but this worked for me.

And since I woke up at the crack of dawn (Well, not really, it just seemed that way for a Sunday morning when I could sleep in.), I'm going to grab my laptop and put my fingers to the keys this morning. At least that's something.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Heavenly Saturday by Margot Justes

What a blissful Saturday, I've been up since six, drank a few cups of coffee, and had a delicious slice of Panettone (a big slice of Panettone) and I will spend the rest of the day writing. It doesn't get much better than that. Panettone and coffee are perfect together.

If you don't know what a Panettone is, I'll be happy to tell you. It is a delicious cake, not overly sweet, aromatic filled with raisins and orange peels. The one I just bought at Costco is made by the Bauli family in Verona, Italy. There are many brands readily available in the US.

For me just smelling the Panettone evokes the approaching holiday season, and after all we are a mere three weeks away from Thanksgiving.

All in all, other than my paying job, it was a good week. Thanks to my critique partner June Sproat, I will take my short story and included it in my novella-and voila, my novella will become a novel. It was such an obvious thing to do and I missed it until June said, 'why don't you just include it in the novella?'

And dare I mention it, I received the most wonderful rejection letter ever. I knew Amanda (an editor) didn't handle my genre, but since I pitched it to her at RT, she was gracious enough and asked to see A Hotel in Bath. She warned me it would take a while for her to respond. And respond she did. She offered advice on the conflict between the hero and heroine and then said, "with some revision and refining, this story could be a strong contender for NY Publishing houses." She urged me to pursue an agent.

To complete a great week, I received another batch of Eyvind Earle posters from Guy.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Titanic Book Launch & Teachable Moment

When in my classes, I plead, beg, urge, encourage my students not simply to write but to re-write, many have no idea how much the rewrite means to me; they've no conception of how many rewrites I do to get a page, a scene, a chapter right. Not just right but perfectly right to my final perfect LIKING.  Of course, it is not always easy to determine when it's as good as it's going to get, but there comes a moment in the many rewrites of a scene or chapter that screams at you--you're DONE DONE.  But then you turn it over to a number of editors, and guess what?  You're not done.

However, you've now been away from the story long enough--or that chapter long enough--that you can be objective with it and yourself, so that when suggestions anew are made, you can deal with them without freaking out (as the younger generation is want to say). The story or scene or chapter is not correctable inside your head, and so the first and rough drafts have to be produced before you can ever get to the process of rewriting and revamping and reorganizing and re-this and re-that. Once it is out of the gray matter and on the white page, you now have product to work mold and shape, to hammer and saw...and you see it and feel it as a product rather than nebulous, foggy thoughts and voices careening about your mind's deepest recesses and corridors.

Some authors say they hate the rewrite and this is understandable because once a story's been told (the plot is put on paper), it can't help but get old; it gets older as your rewrite, too. However, in my own case, I get my best lines and most inspiration and insights into character(s) and best plot twists and the occasional ingenious idea or "movement" in the action or situation during the laborious rewrites. Whole incidents not there before worm their way in, insisting on being a part; whole new characters crop up insisting on being in the story. Layers develop and the once straightforward story takes on a character of the onion needing to be peeled away so as to get at the core. Themes emerge that were not there until that sixth, seventh, or tenth rewrite.

This certainly has been the case with my Children of Salem, a purely historical novel set in Salem Witch Hunt days wherein our hero is trying to conduct a courting of his childhood sweetheart when her mother is excommunicated and locked up as a witch....and this was certainly true of my 11-book medical examiner series begun with Killer Instinct and predating Bones and Silence of the Lambs.  This was definitely the case with my recently completed and gone on sale Kindle Original entitled Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic.  The thing grew and grew with each successive rewrite, and I believe and feel with all my heart that it grew for the better and not the worse.

Chapter 30 - wow, many times did I have to rewrite Chapter 30, far more than all the other chapters, and why? For one, it needed a great deal of attention from the get-go and a lot of rewriting even before I turned it over to early readers/editors. Knowing I need all the help I can get and not shying from that fact, I had as many folks read the early, ugly drafts as I could manage to find. The book was torn from limb to limb, as my early readers did not spare the rod or spoil the child/book...nor did they spare the slings and arrows for its author. "How couuuld you?"/ "Call yourself an English Professor, do you?"/ "What were you thinking?"/ "Are you sure you want to be a writer?"/ "Ever et raw meat?" ---OK, I exaggerate and none of my early readers are that blunt or harsh, but I KNEW what they were thinking.

Chapter 30 - as with other chapters just required so much attention in large part due to the fact I had NO idea what I was talking about. I knew what I wanted to say, what I wanted to accomplish, but as my final editor pointed out, he being a genius with special effects of the science fiction order: "You'd be laughed off the face of the Earth had "THAT" gone to press." Fortunately, Robert Farley Jr. was tough on me and blunt. It would have been the equivalent of a street cop using a frilly girly-girly gun on the job had I not had this friend's help in the sci-fi areas of the futuristic scenes. As I said, I knew what I wanted to get across, had it all sketched out in fact--but man was it was damned "rough" until my friend and early reader/editor got hold of it. Together we went back at it again and again as it was not so easy for any of us either to get this scene across and keep all of its surreal dream aspect intact along with the floating dead, zombies in a true Dead Zone. I needed help with the sub, with the breathing apparatus, the liquid air--its scientific name, with how men might find a dead zone and how it would look and feel, a zone inside Titanic where no life, not even microscopic, lived--where only my hero alone becomes the sole life form. While having fun with the discovery of the 1912 cargo of automobiles. Final writing was a matter of many honings.

So never discount the power of the Re-Write and what it does for your story, scene, chapter, novel. With that, I leave you with a buy link for a novel you can have in your hands in ANY format thanks to Kindle store philosophy of not being exclusive. Find Titanic 2012 at: - A Titanic book launching it is, too. Amazon Reviews are up as well!

Please do leave a comment....would love to hear stories of reWrite that saved your scene!

Robert W. Walker (Rob)

Making Time Count! by DL Larson

With the holidays fast approaching, it's all too easy to put my WIP in a box and let it rest until the new year rolls around. Setting aside my writing sounds reasonable, practical even, but I've learned over the years just because I'm not physically working on my plot and characters' problems, doesn't mean I can switch off my brain. My mind is still churning, conjuring up twists and changes. It's so aggravating! I don't want to think about plot just now, I want to decorate my home, do a little baking, search through catalogs and stores for great presents for my kids and grandkids. I have outings to attend. I don't want to be a writer just now!

Unfortunately my brain can't stop, it's addicted to problem solving, with or without paper and computer. I discover answers I've been searching for - for months! I don't want to be a schemer right now, I want to enjoy the holidays, peacefully. My characters never take vacations, never leave me alone. They never rest.

So I've come to a consensus; I turn on the computer every day. I sit in my office or at my dining room table to appease my cantankerous characters marching around in my head. I write, I scheme, I plot, I do what needs to be done. Then I sneak away.
I slip out of the room how one eases away from a sleeping baby. Don't want to stir things up again. Best to tip-toe from the chaos of scattered papers, frantic notes and spent pencils.

All will be well until tomorrow and I'll have to do the same routine all over again. It's quite immature, my characters nagging me, but our system works, sort of. I've learned over the years, ignoring them creates a disasterous muddle. It's easier and more productive to give in and get words on the paper than to struggle weeks later and wonder if I've missed something along the way.

So how do you deal with your writing during the holidays? Do you face time constrictions that you don't normally have the rest of the year? Please tell me I'm not the only one with this dilemma!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Price War by Morgan Mandel

How low is too low? There are tons of books on the Amazon Kindle for very small prices, many even for free. I  know for a fact I've been reading a lot more since I bought my Kindle 3 than ever before, and I've noticed more people with Kindles everywhere. People are noticing I've got one and asking about it, so there's still a lot of interest in them. Also, Christmas is coming up, which means more Kindles will be around.
Smashwords is also a very popular site for buying books because they translate them into many formats. The prices there are quite reasonable as well.

There's lots of competition out there, and that's for sure. To compete with the market, I've reduced Killer Career today to the low price of 99 cents at both sites. The new price should be showing up in a day or so, if it hasn't already. Is that too low, or is it a smart market move?

What's your take?

Morgan Mandel
Killer Career at SmashwordsAmazon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jeffrey Deaver

In yesterday's edition of USAToday the following profile of Jeffrey Deaver was a highlight:

It was exciting for me to read because Jeffrey Deaver was one of our headliners for the 2009 Love is Murder CON. At Love is Murder we pride ourselves on being a close and exiciting CON where all of us can mingle up front and personal with New York Times best selling authors such as Jeffrey Deaver.

I have to say that he gave an extremely entertaining talk to our audience and afterwards he graciously waited around to talk with everyone who approached him, including me.

The article link above addresses his place as the author of the new Bond novel. A regular at Love is Murder is author Raymond Benson who has authored numerous Bond books.

So, come out to Love is Murder this Feb and rub elbows with some of the most amazing authors, readers and fans on the planet.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween by June

I did the typical parent thing yesterday and took my youngest daughter trick or treating. She had a ball, except everyone was getting her costume wrong. Now I didn't really think it mattered, but she kept correcting them. To her advantage, most of the people felt bad they guessed wrong and gave her an extra piece of candy!

This is a picture of her in costume:

This is what everyone guessed was her costume:

And they didn't guess that she was going for this:

Yes, she was my little Southern Belle!
Well, she enjoyed Halloween, even if they didn't know who she was. All she cared about was that her costume was really pretty!
Have a great week,

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Romance in Real Life

As a romance writer/reader, my life is full of romance. On most days I'm either reading a romance or, when the muse is strong, writing one. These days, however, my life is filled with romance in a different way. A real way. Not just words on a page, but real, live romance.

My husband is a fabulous man. Of course he is. I wouldn't have married him if he wasn't. But lately, he's been really romantic in one particular way.

When I work out, I always listen to music. I usually get stuck in one groove or another and listen to the same thing for a while. These days it's the new Toby Keith CD, Bullets in the Gun. I simply program in the best running songs, and away I go. Once the "meat" of the workout is done, I'll throw in a couple of other tunes for my cool down.

One of the hands-down best songs on the CD is "Kissing in the Rain". Toby has a knack for not only putting down hard-driving in-your-face music, but romantic ballads as well. This is one of those romantic songs.

Every time I play it while I'm working out in the basement, if my hubby's home and he hears it, he comes down the stairs, takes me in his arms, and we dance. My sweaty sheen doesn't bother him one bit. (Which is saying a lot, because if he were the sweaty one, I wouldn't go near him with a ten foot pole.) We simply dance, right there in the basement, among the clutter and old furniture and the furnace and the washer and dryer. Seriously, it's one of the most romantic things ever. I've always known he's my soulmate, and this is definitely one of the many reasons why.

So,thanks, Toby, for a beautiful, romantic song.

Until next time,

Happy Reading! (or dancing)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Money, Money, Money! by DL Larson

We've all heard the saying, "money makes the world go 'round," or some other twisted version explaining our infatuation with cash. Songs are written about it, "she works hard for it honey ..," says Donna Summer; or "you can't always get what you want ..." explains the Rolling Stones; "Take the money and run," advises the Steve Miller Band. Money talk is all around us. In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus talks about money dozens of times! So why are we always in such a quandry about money? No one seems to have enough of it. We talk about addictions and diseases, but money mania is a world-wide pandemic. And no one wants to admit it!

We have politicians neglecting to pay their taxes, yet spending millions of their own money to run a campagain for a governmental office. They then give themselves free benefits for life yet demand public schools adhere to unrealistic budgets to educate our children.

Our banks loan us money to buy things we may or may not need, then quietly and stealthily raises the interest because someone, somewhere has decided the loanee is at risk of not paying. Doesn't always matter whether the bill was paid or not, the interest just jumps! And no one says, "hey, that's not right!"

Our companies leave our states because the taxes are too high and we wonder why we can't find jobs. Companies can make investments around the world for next to nothing, but if a foreign company wants to invest in something within the United States, the high governmental taxes to do so keeps most from ever investing. And we wonder, why did our congressmen do that? Isn't free enterprise a part of our foundation as a nation?

"Show me the money," shouts Petey Pablo. It's all around us, like leaves swirling in the wind, yet where it may land is anyone's guess. It may disappear into rich pockets, deep pockets, or maybe needy pockets. But I learned as a child when I chased after leaves blowing all around, the quickest way to catch one was not to run, but to stand still and let the leaves come to me. I wonder if that would work with money!

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pain by Morgan Mandel

Monday at work I was taking the copy paper from the box and putting it away on the shelf, when my back decided it didn't like what I was doing. It's been stiff and sore since then. That's happened a few times before, so I'm hoping it's just a strain.

This kind of aggravation reminds me of when a character gets hurt in a book or movie. Sometimes it's almost miraculous how that person can heal so instantly, run around and do all sorts of heroic actions. In real life, it's not usually the case.

Remember, if you include an injury in the plot, give your character time to suffer instead of making everything all right real fast. And if the hero or heroine has to ignore the pain to reach a goal, at least include some references to the fact it's there, like sweat on the brow, bruises, gouges, swellings or some other kind of evidence that all is not perfect.

Rising above difficulties is always a good way to heighten tension in a story, so don't make everything seem too easy. Pain is part of the human condition, unfortunately, so think about including it in when you write.

Morgan Mandel

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Forgotten War

As generations go by it's easy to forget about the struggles and conflicts of previous generations but for those who fought in the Korean War (or conflict) the forgotten part arrived in some cases even before they came home.

Well, less than two weeks ago my local community, through the hard work of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), held a ceremony that brought tears to grown men's eyes.

As writers, we hunger to capture the emotions that help communicate the energy of a story to our readers. As I sat through this ceremony the energy of the presentations, dedications and kinship shared that day were exactly what writers try to capture.

We also need to get our historical research as correct as we can, especially for something as important as a war where many heroes have given so much. To this end I want to share some links to sites that can help put your research on the Korean War in perspective.

Korean War National Museum

Korean Consulate, Chicago

Korean War Timeline

Other useful links:

Monday, October 25, 2010


This weekend was Homecoming at my daughter's high school. She went with a bunch of her friends and had a great time. But this whole homecoming thing got me thinking, what is it all about anyway?

Yeah, I know there is a football game, parade, (theirs got rained out) and dance, but where did it come from and why? Well, being the google-a-holic that I am, I googled it. Here is the meaning according to Wikipedia.

When I read this one thing leaped out at me, the mums. In my YA Ordinary Me, I have the whole mum thing going on. Yes, we did that in high school and it sounds like some things never change. The only difference is that in Ordinary Me I did not have the mums for homecoming, I had them for Valentines Day. Mostly because the story is set during basketball season, not football season.

It's nice to know some things never change, but it's also nice to know you can change them if you want to!

Have a great week!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Happy Surprise

I love surprises...well, the good ones at least! I was on the receiving end of a raly great one this week. My new book, "This Can't Be Love" is due out November 5. I've been working on some promo and getting things set up for blog tours, etc., and needed to check The Wild Rose site for a link.

Lo and behold, I clicked on the home page, and right there under "new in print" was "This Can't Be Love"! I did a double take. Was that really my book? Sitting there ready for people to buy? A couple of weeks early?

You bet it was!

So for today I have the blurb and an excerpt.

After the disastrous end of another dead-end relationship, all Jessica Hart wants is solitude and time to heal at her grandfather's mountain retreat. Instead she finds Zach Rawlings.

Zach has made himself at home at the cabin. He's house-sitting while the owner is away, and the temporary nature of the job suits him perfectly. For Jessica, Zach is everything she wants to escape.

As she gets to know him better, she realizes there's more to him than meets the eye. His patience and tender concern begin to heal something deep inside of her. But can she trust her heart to a man like Zach?

They laughed together, then fell silent. Crickets chirped in the darkness. The scent of Zach’s aftershave drifted to her on the light breeze.

After a while, he turned toward her. “Do you?”

“Do I what? Like apple pie and ice cream?”

“No,” he said softly. His gaze dropped to her lips. “Do you kiss and tell?”

Jessica’s heart kicked into a fast rhythm and she caught her breath. “I…”

“Shhhh.” He leaned closer. “I won’t tell if you won’t,” he whispered before his mouth claimed hers.

His lips stroked over hers, not aggressively, but softly, tenderly. He didn’t touch her anywhere else, but brushed her mouth with gentle intent.

Her first instinct was to pull back, but something stirred deep inside her. A feeling she’d nearly forgotten. Whispery shivers danced along her nerve endings and fluttered in her stomach. Without meaning to, the action was purely a reflex, she opened to him.

The kiss deepened. Their breath mingled. Her palm slid up his chest, feeling the play of muscle beneath his shirt. She fisted the flannel of his open collar in her hand.

His knuckles grazed the sides of her face.

Her body tingled with awareness. Scattered thoughts flitted through her mind, but she couldn’t hold onto any of them. Not while Zach kissed her. Not when his mouth fitted so perfectly against hers. Not when the pulse racing at the base of his throat matched the cadence of her heartbeat.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt like this. Had felt anything.

Should she be feeling this way about Zach?

Almost as if sensing her conflicting emotions, he softened the kiss, tenderly brushing his mouth over hers one last time.

She waged a silent war within, trying to calm her racing heart.

She still clutched his shirt. She relaxed her fingers one at a time, releasing the twisted fabric from her grasp. Finally she drew in a deep breath, then slowly let it out.

Her eyes found his.

Zach’s gaze searched hers. He smiled. A smile as soft and tender as his kiss. He touched his finger to her lips, then rose. “Good night, Jess.”

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Carving by Margot Justes

This is going to be short.

I'm babysitting my two little munchkins with the help of my daughter Dina. I'm very grateful. There is a reason they say having children is for the young. I'm exhausted.

We carved pumpkins last night, and today we went to Sunset Foods and painted pumpkins, went to Costco for Lunch and came home to bake pumpkin cakes and cookies. Do you see a pattern here?

It's all about the pumpkins.

And now we'll have pumpkin cookie sandwiches with frosting and sprinkles. Yum.

My granddaughter is helping write this blog Now, I have to finish decorate said pumpkin cookies.

Till next week,

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Update on My Writing Challenge by DL Larson

On the top shelf of my desk I have a paper with the following on it:
The Challenge:
To complete my sci-fi WIP, Renzo the Reliant,by May 20, 2011.
My reward: chocky dessert from whatever restaurant I choose.
AND a boat ride with my hubby!
Dated: May 20, 2010
signed: DL Larson

I feel a bit stressed realizing five months are gone and I'm just approaching the finish of Part One. My book has become more than I thought it would and I consider that a good thing. But if I want to accomplish my challenge, I need to step up the pace. I have some really good reasons to be behind schedule, but I knew life might throw me a curve ball or two along the way, so I won't ponder on if onlys and instead, I will forge ahead. Maybe it's time for you to assess your WIP too.

I have 21 chapters written and 15 of those are typed. Editing has taken considerable time, filling in and rounding out scenes. I like to edit as I go, it's a way for me to keep a good feel of where I've been in order to know where I'm heading with the story.

I'm closing in on finishing Part One, called Unstable Beginnings. It will end in a cliffhanger. Part Two is a hazy, fuzzy future with a few distinct lines through the fog to reach the conclusion. My characters are evolving nicely with plenty of obstacles and hardships to force them to evaluate their lifestyle and wonder about priorities in life. There's a good balance of fun vs. distress. I simply need to keep vigilent with pen in hand and butt in the chair! In other words, I need to stay the course and keep writing!

I've seven months to go. It feels a bit like being pregnant. I'm not really uncomfortable yet, but feeling the weight of my challenge. I've never put such pressure on myself before to finish by a certain date. It'll be interesting to see how I cope as time closes in.

How is your work in progress? Have you put a challenge to yourself before? Share with us!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

PS: For those wondering about last week's post ~ My grandson, Colton, is doing great. He's still in the nicu, working on the suck, swallow and breathe technique, and making great progress. One of the nurses who neglected her duties no longer works at the hospital, and the other has been reprimanded with the incident documented into her personnel file. It will follow her around for some time. I hope and pray she learns from her mistake.

Thank you for all your thoughts and words of concern. It meant a lot to me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scary Stories, Costumes, Halloween by Morgan Mandel

I wonder if any of you have written a scary story that's already out or coming out in time for Halloween. Or, maybe you've read one that you enjoyed in a gruesome sort of way. (g)

If so, please tell us something about it here in the comment section to get us in the proper frame of mind for celebrating the holiday.

Or, maybe you're going to a Halloween party, and you'd like to describe your costume. You're welcome to do that as well.

Morgan Mandel -
PS - Here's Rascal in her not-that-great pirate costume from last year. We're hoping to think up a better one for her for the Halloween party at Bentley's Corner Barkery next Thursday, but the DH (Good Paul) and I are very lacking in the creative department where costumes are concerned.