Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pitch or Synopsis Can Be One & The Same

A pitch -- notice it has PITCH -- is in fact a verbal synopsis of your novel, but there is no rule that says a pitch can't be the synopsis and visa versa. A pitch/synopsis can be seen as precisely the copy you'd want to see on the backflap of a hardcover or backside of a paperback. The one with your title and name on it.

The synopsis-pitch is the most important short-short you will ever write - the story of your story and a sales pitch for the book. Not everyone is comfortable with a "bragg" of any sort on their own books, but done professionally and cleanly, it does not have to sound filled with hubris.

Most published works have backflap copy written by a copyeditor who can be more objective and direct and write in the voice of a cheerleader that touches on Who, What, Where, When, How or Why or all six Journalistic requirments. That is main character (whose story is it anyway?). Zero in on precisly WHO is central to the story, who is the fulcrum around which all satelite characters orbit, and then speak of him or her by name and occupation. Follow up with setting, time, what's the main storyline or goal or obstacle or a combination of these - the how and the why of it.

And it needs be about as short as my remarks here, if not shorter. Check out descriptions on ebooks for samples where many have been done by Indie authors and not copy editors, and do the same with paperbacks at the local drugstore. Ingest and own the style of the copyeditor who knows how to say MORE with far LESS than most of us. Finally, get hold of my Dead On Writing for all manner of issues in publishing, about craft, and ebooks as well as paper.

Robert W. Walker
Dead On Writing (Amazon Kindle &  for POD)

You Have All You Need ... by DL Larson

Last week I was a bit under the weather, overextended from trying to do too much, mourning the loss of my mom, all the while fighting off a raspy throat, allergy thing. I also had a deadline coming up for a skit I had agreed to write.

I had done my research for the skit about the history of an organization very dear to me, the Foods Resource Bank, a grassroots Christian group who takes on agricultural projects in rural areas around the world. I knew what I wanted to write, I had done my research, had asked the right people for details that turn a simple story into a meaningful one. All I had to do was put words to paper, yet I didn't and the deadline crept closer and closer.

One evening I was dozing on the couch, watching a late night inspirational speaker on TV. I was in that state of not really listening, but his words made my eyes pop open. He was staring right at me on our big flat screen as if waiting for me to acknowledge him. His statement was simple yet poignant, "You have all you need to complete your task. God's silence is simply his assurance that you will succeed."

Well, who wants to argue with that kind of statement? I rationalized the message was a general one and held numerous meanings, yet I couldn't shrug off the inspiration it had given me. In essence I had been waiting to give myself permission to complete my task. I still wasn't in much of a mood to write, but then if I waited for that I would never have gotten any significant writing done these last several years. I was a professional and had a job to finish.

I'm glad to say the skit is done and has been passed on to those who need it. The deadline was this morning and I sent the skit off two days ago via e-mail. There may be some tweaking yet to do, but minor changes are easy to fix. I'm glad I was able to complete my task. Who's to say if I would have finished even if I hadn't been listening to Mr. Inspirational Speaker. More importantly it made me aware of the commitment I had made to others. I don't want to be known as the writer who is pretty good ~ when she feels up to. I'd rather be known as the writer who said she could do the work and then did it in a timely fashion.

I like to think my mom would agree.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My favorite authors by Morgan Mandel

I have lots of favorites, especially those from my writing groups, but my very favorite authors have to be Mary Higgins Clark and the late Sidney Sheldon.

What makes them favorites is their style is easy to read, yet not dummied down. Their plots are compelling, yet not too complicated to understand. Mary usually writes about everyday people, while Sidney's books tend to be about the larger-than-life ones.

Which ones are your favorites, and why?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Composting and Writing

Yes, I said composting and if you're an organic gardner you know what I'm talking about. So, what does this have to do with writing? Well, both endeavors start out with raw materials, go through a sometimes ugly process of decompisition and the end product can be a beautiful and amazing thing compared to how it started.

I have two large compost bins in my back yard and this past weekend when my neighbors grandson was mowing my lawn that had been covered with leaves, I had him empty the mulched remains into one of the compost bins. He also turns the contents of the bins for me once a week. Mostly, he sees the decaying material mixed with bugs and wonders what the heck I'm up to with this project. He often complains about the smell but won't wear the face mask I gave him.

I had to mix some of the material from one bin that was still breaking down into the other bin where the process was almost complete. I took the time to show him where all his hard work was heading. I scooped the organic soil from the bottom and held it up so he could smell it and he was surprised how clean and fresh it did smell. Explaining the entire process to him, I saw his eyes light up because now he understood.

Well, writing is - in many ways - the same. A lot of hard work that's sometimes 'smelly' but when you see and experience the final product you can't help but be proud of yourself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn is here.... by June Sproat

It’s Autumn. I know, but not because it’s September and not because the Autumnal Equinox has passed, but because I have a cold. A yucky sinus head cold that I always get at the beginning of fall that will come and go until next spring. If I’m lucky. That the cold will go away, I mean.

One would think that since I know this, I should have bought stock in decongestants and tissue. I would be a very rich girl, but alas, I did not. So I will do my best to pass the time reading my favorite authors and writing, of course only when I am not in a cold medicine induced state. (Or maybe I should write then, who knows what I would come up with!)

Regardless, I must return to my WIP. I have left the heroine’s brother unconscious in the hero’s carriage. Of course our heroine does not know why or how he came to be in the hero’s carriage, but I don’t think she is very pleased and I do believe she may jump to some incorrect assumptions. Or maybe… ah well, back to work!

Have a healthy week!


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cleaning House

My hubby and I spent the majority of our day cleaning in our basement yesterday. We're having some work done down there and needed to get things organized and sorted. As we sifted through the things we've accumulated over the years, we made several piles: trash, recycling, and give away. We accomplished a lot and in the end wound up with three giant bags of trash and an overflowing garbage can, an overflowing recycling bin, and a huge pile for charity.

Looking at the piles lead me to the inevitable writing comparison. Editing is a lot like cleaning the basement.

There's the trash: These are things I get rid of completely from my manuscript. They may be grammatic or spelling errors, plot points that don't make sense, or simply eliminating adverbs or "extra" words to make the writing cleaner.

Then there's the recycling: These are things that don't work where they're at in the story, but can be moved to another place or tweaked a bit to use later.

Finally, there's the give aways: These are things that don't work for this particular story, buy may work in another. Too good for the trash pile, but not quite the right fit for the current plot.

So whatever you may be doing the basement or editing...I wish you a happy and productive day.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Authors Challenge Themselves

'WHAT kinds of challenges have you set for yourself in your writing? Share it here in the comments section.

But first, Do you like to challenge yourself in your writing and do you admire it in books you read when it is obvious the author has done so? I am the same way - whatever is my WIP is my biggest challenge but there are subjects and issues that become enormous hurdles. For instance - had to think like a pedophile in City of the Absent as Alastair Ransom interrogates one of these lowlifes and in order to get confession he has to "like the guy" or rather pretend to and to "understand" his sick needs. I pulled it off but it took a lot of effort and deep, dark staring into the abyss of the human condition. I have also had to BACK off the more horrendous stuff in my Instinct and Edge titles at times to write something lighter, again too long staring into the wickedness that is the dark side of mankind - a truly sinister aspect in our shared psyche and collective gene pool (how far are we truly from our predatory ancestors?).

But now take Children of Salem, about having to stop and start - try like thirty years off and on (witch hunt, hang thy neighbor, pitchforks and torches stuff). Now with Titanic 2012 I do it to myself again - I go out of my way to challenge myself; this time doing two time periods alternating chapter by chapter, set a hundred years apart. Nothing challenging about that....generational horror science fiction suspense thriller - whew!

Hoping to have Titanic out in time for Halloween now as we've had set backs  and challenges. But tell us here now in the comnnents section WHAT has been some big challenges you have set for yourself in your writing?

first chapter free stuff here

Keeping Up! by DL Larson

Last Saturday I attended the first Local Author Fair the Aurora Public Library has ever sponsored. The day was dreary and rainy, a plus, I thought to getting folks to come inside on the last Saturday of the summer. The atmosphere inside was warm and welcoming, a beehive of activity with librarians greeting authors, providing lunch and a social hour for authors to reconnect with each other and meet new people who share the same line of work.

"Catch a Bunch of Authors" was the theme for the author fair. I have a wonderful picture but was unable to download it from my files ~ the picture is a bouquet of books of the featured authors attending the fair. This is point #1 of trying to keep up ... why can't I do what everyone else does so easily?????? I'm growling under my breath after the tenth try, so imagine a colorful picture of a bunch of books all tied up in an attractive setting that looks like a bouquet!

The next item I wanted to share with you is a picture of one of Acme Authors good friends, Norm Cowie, humor author, who also attended the fair. Norm and I had a fun chat ~ he did most of the talking while I laughed. My daughter-in-law took our picture. I was happy to have a current picture to share with everyone. She sent her picture to my phone where it now permanently waits for me to learn how to move it to my computer. By the time I learn this bit of magic, Norm and I both will have aged beyond recognition! So point #2 of trying to keep up ~ learning technology at my age is not easy! If only my granddaughters were home, they could have had these pictures on display in no time. If only my daughter-in-law wasn't at work, she could send the picture via time space continuim or some other form of hocus-pocus.
But alas, it's just me here and so please imagine Norm and me smiling into the camera with thousands of fans swarming around us wanting our authographs. It's a great shot. Really.

One thing I enjoy at author fairs is meeting people. It's always fun to talk shop with another who understands the demands, the dreams and the realities of being a writer. It's especially enjoyable that we can be chatting away until someone on the other side of the table looks interested in our books and then we re-focus on the potential customer. After the person moves on, with or without a purchase, we pick up where we left off, discussing marketing strategies, deadlines and who is fixing what for supper. Point of trying to keep up #3 ~ no matter how many pictures I take and can't retrieve, I connected with another writer or two and that's a connection I will enjoy and treasure long after the pictures have been deleted.

Thank you Aurora Public Library for sponsoring such a memorable event!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How to Attract Readers to Your Blog by Morgan Mandel

Just a few tips I learned along the way about how to get readers over to a blog. Let me know if they work for you or not.

  1. Be an expert on a particular topic - Share your knowledge about a subject many people may not know about in depth. If you're a nurse, you can provide information about hospital protocol. Or, maybe you know how to make macrame.
  2. Offer promotion to others - Let your readers show off their own talents and they'll love you for it. Invite them to comment about their books, if it's a writing blog, or maybe about recipes if it's a cooking blog.
  3. Hold a contest - Extend a reward to lure people to your blog. This one works for the time being, but I don't like to do it often. It's nice to offer rewards to people for visiting, but you want people who will come back for more than freebies.
  4. Choose a layout that reflects what your blog is about. I'm constantly changing my layout and am never completely satisfied with it. It's still a work in progress, as are my WIP and my website. On the same lines, if you have a standout layout with some great pics, that will draw readers back again once they've seen it.
  5. Post to egroups, Facebook and other social networks when you have a blog you really want to promote. Make sure you send the posts to places you think would have members interested in the particular topic on the post; so don't send emails to mystery groups if your blog is about how to make chicken soup.
  6. On the subject of egroups, respect their rules. Some, like Kindle Korner, don't want any posts with links to blogs.
  7. Visit other blogs and make comments on them. Blogger do notice this, and many of them will reciprocate. When I had Wednesdays off work, I was able to do this more often. I really miss this interaction. Now, it's hit or miss. When I can, I'll dash off to a blog and comment, but time is of the essence. 
  8. Be a nice person. If you treat online friends well, they're likely to come over to your blog just to be nice back to you.
  9. Set the mood. Let your blog reflect the image you wish to project. Don't put on a dumb act if you want people to respect what you have to say. On the other hand, don't act like a know-it-all. That's a sure way to turn people off.
  10. Have a bestseller. This is something I'm still working on. (g)  People are drawn to success, hoping some of it will rub off on them in some way. 
Well, that's all the advice I can think of. You're welcome to add what works for you also, or what you've seen work for others. Or, maybe you'd like to expand on something I've mentioned here.
Morgan Mandel -

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jumping the Gun

Okay, I'm ahead by a couple of days, but I'm ready for Fall, so bring it on.

Yesterday we went apple picking (a favorite Fall activity)...

And stocked up on fresh Fall decs: hay bales, dried corn, pumpkins, gourds, and mums.

So, like I said...I'm ready. If only the cooler weather the weathermen keep promising would arrive.

Now I'm off to enjoy another favorite Fall Go Bears!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

It was a Dark and Margot Justes

It was a dark and stormy night...except in this case it was morning. I always wanted to write that, and besides this morning it was dark and stormy. It really was. Instead of turning on the light in my kitchen, I lit a couple of candles, and unloaded the dishwasher, alas it simply refuses to do it by itself.

But the ambiance was perfect for fine tuning a couple of scenes I'm having a problem with in Blood Art my vamp story.

Lately, I find that when I perform mundane everyday functions, I tend to day dream about scenes, dialog, characters, a new story, anything to do with writing. Maybe I'm escaping reality, boredom, sameness, whatever the case may be. I really hope every writer goes through that, otherwise...well, the alternative is not pretty.

My afternoon was spent watching my granddaughter test for a yellow belt in Tae Kwando. The discipline, the precision and dedication of those little tykes was inspiring.
Tae Kwando takes the training a step further than the martial arts classroom, it brings it home to the children and parents. It's all about respect.

The child is expected to show the same behavior at home and school. Tae Kwando offers a lot more than learning to defend yourself when necessary, it is also about respect and honor at all times.

My granddaughter indicated she wants to get her black belt, I think that is terrific, because along the way she'll learn to become a more rounded, tolerant human being and still be able to kick...when needed.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Might You Challenge Yourself as a Writer?


by Robert W. Walker

There are indeed many challenges a writer faces from beating back inertia to becoming redundant on the page to using the wrong tack on approach to opening the story or novel in the wrong place and on and on and on. Building character is a challenge, but we must have in our lead role, our star character fully-realized; we are challenged to live with him or her for a long time, but we take that challenge to make this character special as the more we know him or her, the more easily manipulated along a storyline. We are challenged too by plot, and many of us find this far harder to come to terms with than character, yet a fully realized character can suggest or imply a plot.

I challenge myself with each book I write. I challenge myself by doing a setting that is for me exotic—that is out of my safety zone as I may never have been there.

I challenge myself by creating a character at opposite ends of the spectrum than myself – say a female Medical examiner and FBI agent or an 1893 Inspector in Chicago or a pair of interns on the Titanic.

I challenge myself often with a storyline that is meant to tease the reader into thinking one thing but second guessing himself at the same time.

Most recently, I have challenged myself to set up a novel with two separate storylines running simultaneously in two different time “zones” – one in 1912, the night Titanic went down, and the other one hundred years later with divers capable of working two and a half miles below the surface and swimming into and through Titanic’s interiors in 2012. This was indeed a huge challenge but oddly enough, I based my structure and desire on none other than the film and book Fried Green Tomatoes. It may sound at odds but I wanted to duplicate my own feelings coming away from that story – that I at once wanted to be in the past story and the present story each time I was inside the other story than the one I wanted to be in; in other words, each storyline was compelling. So my challenge to myself was to make each storyline so compelling as to make the reader want to return to BOTH whenever he or she was in past (wanting to get back to present), and in present (wanting to get back to past).

So what sorts of challenges do you set for yourself as a writer? Would love to hear about them here. I know if you write, you face umpteen challenges but at times one might have been particularly prickly and you might be so proud that you met it and overcame it well. So let’s hear about that!

Rob Walker

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At Risk by Morgan Mandel

It's turning into autumn, which means it's getting a lot darker in the morning. I especially noticed the difference this morning as I was walking my dog, Rascal, at around 6:00 a.m.  A woman walked by on the street. I've seen her before exercising in the morning, as I've also seen joggers run by. Now that it's dark out, she's still getting her exercise that way, as are other women. Is that safe? Is she putting herself at risk? Our neighborhood is not known as being a high crime area, yet I wouldn't go out alone walking or jogging in the dark, either morning or night.

Since I have a lovable pit bull, who can be the sweetest thing alive to nice people, but make no mistake about it, is also an excellent guard dog, I'm not particularly afraid about taking her for walks in the dark. Still, I don't overdo it. I only walk down streets nearby and not that far when it's dark.   

These women whose urge to exercise is so great they put themselves at risk reminds me of books or movies where the hero or heroine does something stupid, and that's the driving force for what horrors evolve. The bottom line is, when putting a character into an at risk situation, be sure to give that person a very good reason or excuse for doing so.

What's your opinion on this? What books or movies have you read or written where characters are put at risk for good or bad reasons?

Morgan Mandel 

Monday, September 13, 2010

I've Gone Kindle! by June

Happy Monday!

The news I promised has arrived. I have taken my young adult book Ordinary Me and put it on Kindle.

This is the new cover...

Don't you just LOVE it! My niece designed it and I couldn't be more pleased.

So what are you waiting for? Get on over to Amazon and download your copy of Ordinary Me right now! And while you are there, why not get the anthology Summer Lovin' which has my ya short story Just Perfect.

Thanks and have a great week!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It's one of those weekends where we're running here, there, and everywhere, so this is going to be short and sweet.

I'm excited for football season to start today. Kick-off is in about 15 minutes. We'll see what our Bears can do this year. So far the predictions aren't so optimistic, but here in Chicago, hope springs eternal.

I'm also going to kick-off a new step in my writing career in the next month. It's my goal to have a synopsis and cover letter ready to send out to Harlequin by the end of the month, and to polish up the submission they'll hopefully (fingers crossed) ask for. This is a new publisher I'm persuing, so it's an exciting, but nerve-wracking change.

So, let the kick-offs begin!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Playing Tourist in Chicago by Margot Justes

Friday was one of those incredible days in Chicago, the weather sheer perfection, sunny and warm with a light breeze, everything was still green and plenty of blooming potted flowers on Michigan Ave.
I spent a fantastic day downtown yesterday. We parked the car in Grand Park North and walked to State Street, then to Wacker Drive, and right across the river from the Trump Tower, we found a new restaurant for breakfast. Hotel 71 appeared to be a boutique hotel with an inviting al fresco outside dining area, so we stopped to eat. I had an egg white frittata with mozzarella cheese, veggies and black beans, and it was tasty. Dina had an egg and bagel sandwich with goat cheese. Also yummy.
The Trump Tower is gorgeous, the sleek lines and glass seem to go on forever, nothing garish about this building, except maybe the Trump name everywhere you turn.
After breakfast we walked down Michigan Avenue to Nordstrom's and the Water Tower, where we stopped at Macy's and had a LancĂ´me make over with master make-up artist Alex Sanchez.
That was fun, but I never wear that much make-up, and it took two tries in the shower to get my face really clean, but in the meantime I felt pampered and relaxed.
We walked back on Michigan Avenue and stopped in the Art Institute, there is a certain comfort in stopping at a gallery and meeting old friends.
I often wonder what makes a master in art, literature, in any of the arts? Is it simply a matter of survival? Or is it somehow so well done that it survives and is still relevant? Who decides that a work is masterful and worth saving? Is it that it is familiar, the work reaches us, makes us think?
I've often wondered about artistic survival through the ages.
A short respite downstairs in the outside cafe, was just what we needed before heading home. And the ride back at 5:00 pm was a breeze, we wondered what happened to rush hour traffic.
Chicago is a beautiful city, with much to offer any visitor; the architecture rivals the rest of the world, and yesterday was a reminder I don't have to go far from home to feel like a tourist.
Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, September 9, 2010

People Watching! by DL Larson

For the last eleven days I have been rather idle, sitting around reading, talking to many relatives and taking mental notes of the folks coming and going from my mother's hospital room. I didn't realize my actions at first and I blame fatigue and my own emotional state for that. After a few days, the writer in me woke up and began filing away tidbits of the many layered ways others approach the dying.

I'll begin with the nursing staff. Most will agree with me these professionals are very special people. John's tone of voice was very different from Kim's. Kim talked softly but directly to my mom, using her name. Kim touched my mom with gentleness, rubbing her fingers across my mother's arm in a tender caress. Her glance to me looked for verification to see if this manner would reach my mom. She included me instantly in the care of my mother. John's voice was deeper, with a touch of authority in its sound. His fingers rested on my mom's shoulder waiting for her to acknowledge him. His smile seemed to awaken something elemental in my mother because she rarely spoke but watched him closely as he explained to her what he intended to do. She watched him with child-like fascination and maybe, just maybe she thought he was cute.

Doctors must see death more than the average person, yet their vagueness in the discussions of the future became frustrating. My mother had four specialists and each one hid behind their professional jargin in order to say what they had to say. I learned quickly most doctors hold their feelings in their eyes. Dr. Smith, the infectious disease specialist, always talked directly to my mother, never looking to my father or me. His examinations were thorough just as the other doctors, and when he turned to leave, he asked if we had any questions. When we did, he walked back into the middle of the room and gave us his attention. We didn't always understand what he said, he knew that and didn't deter from his medical explanation. The kidney specialist was frank and monotone in his words, but his eyes gave him away. The only lady doctor we had repeatedly told us, "good luck," which I realized was her code for this will not end well. Her slow nod and crimped expression confirmed my understanding of her message.

When family came in life entered the room with them. My aunt hustled in relying heavily on her cane, but her joy for living swirled around her. She stood at my mother's bed and talked and talked of the good times, speaking directly to my mom, laughing at her own stories, telling my mom, "I know you remember that day." Mom never opened her eyes, but I believe she heard and remembered. Each time after my nieces or my own children would leave, the room grew too big and empty. I liked remembering the silliness of their sparing over some past family gathering. I hope my mom felt their rambunctiousness, their energy and yes, their concern for her.

My sister, dad and I have sat in the same room now for many days, watching family and friends parade in and out. My husband has spent many hours in waiting with us. Nothing much has changed except the days on the calendar, the changing shifts of the hospital staff, and the smile fading from my father's face. We're in a holding pattern, trying to bank the pressures of today in order to be with Mom a little longer.

I wonder who will walk through her hospital door today. Whoever it might be, I know they will bring love and concern with them. Hopefully they will share a funny story to brighten the day, brighten the light in my dad's eyes would be even better.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

At My Own Pace by Morgan Mandel

As I repack my vacation clothes, ready to leave for home again at the end of another NorthWoods vacation, I wonder where the time went. Why couldn't I manage to get more done on my work in progress?

I did have visions of putting aside at least an hour or two each day to enjoy the freedom to write, but that unfortunately didn't happen. Vacation and fun somehow got in the way of my resolve. Going out for breakfast, taking long walks with our dog, Rascal, visiting friends, enjoying the weather, taking naps, reading my kindle, great dinners, and spending hours at the casino - all kinds of alternatives got in my way.

I'm afraid I needed this vacation a lot. I'm stuck at my present day job and not liking it. This was my time to let go and not worry about anything. I know lots of other authors are more conscientious and wouldn't think of abandoning their writing even for a day.

I've decided if I don't write at my own pace and in my own time, there's no sense in my writing at all. Okay, maybe I lack discipline, but whether that's a fault or a blessing, I'm not sure. Yes, I do feel a little guilty, but really not that much.

What about you? Are you strict with yourself when it comes to writing? If you miss opportunities, do you feel guilty?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The R Words!

People often think that only writers who produce historical works, whether fiction or non-fiction, have to do significant amounts of research.

Not true.

All writers have some degree of research involved in their writing and readers can tell when writers don't do enough research, especially if it concerns a topic or geographic area near and dear to them.

In a more traditional publishing process the time lag between writing a book, soliciting it to agents and/or editors, and it reaching the bookstore shelves for sale and hopefully into the arms of a grateful reader, can undermine a writers research. Most of us who have attended or who are attending any sort of higher education know that the text books we purchase often have changes and updates that come with the book or at a later time. With the internet it's certainly easier to obtain those updates and of course with e-publishing the time lag is greatly diminished.

Since the anniversary of 9/11 is this weekend, imagine that you were writing a novel set in New York and the Twin Towers were not only a geographic reference but added their own flavor of character to the story. Future writers will have to be cognisant of the pre and post 9/11 New York and not just how that event changed the landscape but the psyche of New York and the country as well.

I had been to the Twin Towers in the early 1990's and stood on the rooftop and took pictures of a view of New York that I probably will not see again. When I stood on that rooftop I felt alive and, well, on top of the world. I can only try to imagine how vulnerable people felt that high up on the day of the event we now call 9/11. (BTW - I've chosen 9/11 over 911 because that's how it's most often listed to distinguish it from the emergency code of 911 for telephones, and it represents a date after all.)

How much research a writer does depends on how important it is to the story. However, it would be foolish for anyone to think that when writing fiction, even contemporary fiction, that research is unimportant. It's always important, especially if a writer doesn't have enough personal experience to understand the mood of a character or the setting of all or part of the story.

There's an old saying, "Write what you know!" and while that is good, even great advice, writers - like everybody else - want to explore new things. This is where research and interviewing people who come from an area or walk of life your characters will journey is so important.

The other R? Well, that's REMEMBERANCE - especially this Saturday.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Hope you all enjoy this holiday - I know I am.

I'm off from work today so I am going to try to get some writing done.

Soon I'll have some news to share, until then, enjoy and keep reading!



Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labor Day Weekend

Isn't it great to have a holiday to celebrate all the "regular" people? I mean most holidays are for Presidents, other famous people, or historic events. It's nice to have a day for the Average Joe to be recognized. After all, they're the ones who make the world go 'round.

In my books, I write about Average Joes. My heroes and heroines aren't millionaires, heiresses, shieks or even doctors or lawyers. They are all everyday, ordinary people: a bar manager, a camp director, a receptionist, a photographer, a web designer, a chef, a teacher, a carpenter, a lawyer (okay, I have one), and a bull rider. Most of the time, the profession of my characters doesn't really come into play in a major way in the story line. Their jobs simply exist to give them a background and make them real. Sometimes a job will help move the plot along, or even add to the conflict in the story. But the jobs are always common, relatable.

Sure it's fun to get swept up in an imaginary or otherworldy world sometimes. But for me, the fun of writing ordinary characters is they do seem real. I can relate to them, because they're like me. Hopefully my readers can, too.

So Happy Labor Day to all of the teachers, painters, accountants, engineers, office workers, nurses, etc. out there...Enjoy your day. This one's for you.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Covers and Other Stuff by Margot Justes

This is one of those wonderful, long weekends full of plans to spend time with family and friends, very little time spent writing. I'm going to the Oak Brook Art Fair today and lunch with friends, tomorrow a book signing at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park, and Monday a BBQ. The beginning of the end of summer.

After this hot and humid weather, I'm looking forward to fall.

My daughter Dina came home yesterday to drop off her cat, on her way to Arizona. That means we're cat sitting her neurotic cat and our own possessive-this is my territory-Kitty; makes for some very loud meowing discussions in the middle of the night.

Last but not least, I'm almost ready for and the Kindle. I have pictures of the covers for my two short stories; one deals with a Chicago winter fire, the other a race to save a lost little boy.
Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Giving Your Book Away by Morgan Mandel

Many authors run contests in which they give away a free print sample of an entire book, sometimes through a blog, or other people's blogs, or even on places like Facebook or at drawings in stores and other venues.

I've also seen authors who give away free ebooks at Smashwords or on Amazon.

I'm wondering - Is this a good thing? Does it bring in sales in the long run?

In a way it seems if people get it for free they won't value it as much, yet in another way it seems if a reader likes what he or she reads, that person may come searching for more by that author.

What do you think?

Morgan Mandel