Saturday, April 30, 2011

Taking the Plunge by Margot Justes

I'm ready to take the plunge and take my novella A Fire Within, the Kindle route.
I thought I'd share the beginning, in more ways than one, with Acme Authors readers.
It is the beginning of a new experience for me and the beginning of A Fire Within.

"He burned. A fire within consumed him. He burned for his lost love.
He burned for vengeance. He burned with hatred.
Rebecca Standish was dreaming. She had to be, but the blaring ringing did not relent. She tossed restlessly in her bed, plagued by a recurring nightmare. Like always, it began with the dissonant ringing of the telephone demanding her attention. In the past the dreams would quickly morph into the hiss and crackle of flames. This time the noise was incessant and did not let up.

Drifting slowly towards consciousness, she turned on her side and put a pillow over her face. Still, the clanging continued. She jerked upright in bed and froze. Not again. Please not again. She reached for the phone waiting for doom.
“Miss Standish.” She heard a curt voice and listened with growing dread as a monotone voice spoke her name. Her alarm clock twinkled the witching hour in big red numbers. Midnight. She switched on the nightstand light, and mentally prepared herself.

“Yes.” she whispered “What happened? Is it a fire?” Afraid to hear the response, she tightened her hold on the phone. Her knuckles turned white from the effort and she forced herself to relax. Her gallery burned down once before. Facing that possibility again absolutely defeated her resolve. I can’t go through this again. Please God, don't let it be a fire.

“No, no fire but there is an emergency. The front window in your gallery was broken. The crash sounded the alarm. The police are on their way.”
“So am I. Thank you.” She hung up and covered her face with her hands. What now?

She threw a long sweater coat over her shoulders, and went downstairs to wait for a cab. Not a tall woman, five six in bare feet, Rebecca always wore heels that added to her height. She had a woman's body with curves in all the right places, and hair as black as night with eyes to match. She was a striking, self-assured woman who at the moment felt anything but; her gallery was in trouble once again, at least this time it wasn't engulfed in flames."

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Hungry, Hungry Indie Author/Publisher - What Sells Kindle Titles?

Since Feb. 1st of this year, I've been monitoring a thread on KDP which I put up as "What Mioves Kindle Bks. off Shelves" and the staggering numbers of views, comments, and pages has surprised me, but perhaps I shouldn't be surprised at I understand 20,000 new Kindle titles by new authors are being put up daily now.  I didn't verify that number but it would not surprise me either. But my thread numbers blow me away.

Recently, another person on the thread asked, "Rob, what do I make of the growth in this thread?"  And he listed the dates showing huge bumps in numbers.

The thread is a monster now, as big as the White Whale as it is now 24,200 plus views, 760 plus comments, 52 pages. But the question was, what do I make of it?  Aside from being totally and completely FLABERGASTED, Astonished, Amazed, left wanting to shout like the King of Siam, "Is a Wonderment!" -- I dunno!  How should I know what is stoking this? Perhaps it is due the fact the thread became a recommended 101 class but frankly, I think it was going up and up and spiraling up long before it was given this great recommendation.  Something else is afoot here, I suspect, Mr. Watson.

I certainly can't explain it except to say that apparently people are starved for authentic, tried and true, proven advice on the subject of "iMoves" - a term that came of my error in the Title of the Thread, misspellx of Moves, which means moving books on the iNet (iMoves).

And we ain't charging anything for admission to the "writers conference" and no one has stolen the mic or gone off the deep end. I keep waiting for the shoe to fall and it still hasn't.

My only fear is that I will run out of rabbits to pull outta me hat, but if I do, I can count on hundreds if not thousands of smart other authors experimenting and learning their way; that  others can, will, and without reservation leap into the breach!

One thing I stress in the thread is to not get hung up on efforts that bear no fruit or such little fruit as to be a waste of time, energy, money, or all of the above. Currently, I am not going to waste a lot of time on the newly opened Germany Kindle Store. Why?  Because I tried and failed there, so 'iMove on' since I have sold NADA, ZIP, NINE in Germany Kindle Store, and I do not mean 9 but NINE as in nothing!!! Ugh and urrrrrrgh! I am going to keep my focus and concentration on Kindle US thank you where I am on at least two top ten Kindle lists if not more.

I just reviewed that first post I put up on this now humongous thread, and it is very simple and straightforward steps to take, tips to put to use. It certain touched a chord in ebook and kindle Indie authors and publishers. Here is where you can find the thread  on Kindle Community Forums:

Should you wish to look in on the thread, let me know! And please leave a comment here.

Rob Walker

PS - iMove from #20 to #6 in Kindle Store Historical Fiction - Children of Salem!!!! Yah-Rah!! Witchcraft, the geography of it, the land grab, the prejudice that leads neighbor to hang neighbor. It is Gunsmoke in 1692 with Jere Wakely as Matt Dillon. A commercial retelling of the Salem Witchcraft episode. A lifelong project rejected by every publisher and agent I submitted to, yet soon to be #1.

And perhaps it is time YOUse GUYse give out with a few well-chosen sentences here about your books in our comments section. You have a huge audience here! Never miss an opportunity to talk premise and platform.

The Royal Wedding! by DL Larson

Having just recovered from our own family wedding with all the chaos, fun and otherwise, I'm feeling a little sorry for Kate and Will. Their wedding has turned into a production more than a ceremony to commit their love to one another.

Kate is down to a size two ~ was that really necessary? She was beautiful before someone mentioned she needed to lose a few pounds. Is society still demanding such unrealistic expectations on young women? The media is more focused on what size dress she wears over what she wants to accomplish with her new world position. I'd much rather hear about her goals in life rather than more drival over her unhealthy diet or what dress maker she prefers. The dress makers will make their fortunes without the media splattering their brandnames all over the TV and magazines.

Did you hear how eyebrows rose when Kate said she preferred to arrive at the ceremony via car rather than a Cinderella type carriage? I applaude her! It's her wedding, let her decide her mode of transportation.

As far as Will is concerned, I question a few choices he's made. First, was there not another ring he could have chosen besides his mother's engagement ring? That commitment didn't work so well for her. Or perhaps he could have used the jewels and made a ring especially for Kate? Am I the only romantic who thinks he took the easy way out? Beautiful the ring is, but beauty is not the only factor or purpose in this token of affection. I personally think Prince William could have done better for his beloved. The other thing is trivial, but I'll mention it anyway. I wish he'd use a little mousse in his hair.

The wedding is estimated to cost $16 million. A bit more than my daughter's! Souvenirs are said to bring in over $1 billion. I'm wondering about that. The souvenirs at my daughter's wedding were at our expense. Hmmm, and which of the many celebratory tokens will be worth the most in years to come? The barf bags with the royal couples picture on it or the wedding gnomes?

I do wish Kate and Will a wonderful, wedding and great marriage. The disco ball in the palace ballroom is bound to be a big hit at the reception! I'm sure we will be seeing the Prince and Princess in the news for years to come. I hope the information we receive will be about their efforts in helping others, or some way making a difference in the world and not just fashion stuff.

I look forward to watching the Royal couple grow and mature just as I will my own daughter and son-in-law.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We've Come a Long Way, Baby! By Morgan Mandel

It wasn't long ago that those in the writing community looked down on self-publishing, considering it the only means less talented writers could get published. Large and small publishers made sure to propogate this notion. I suspect it was their way to stay in control and reap profits from books they hadn't written themselves.

Publishers held the cards and called the shots. Many hired readers, young twenty-somethings, to vet manuscripts. If by chance a reader thought a manuscript worthy, an actual editor would then deign to look it over. And that manuscript better be in tiptop condition, free of grammatical errors, and following specific guidelines as to format and topic, because many editors didn't have time to do full edits. So much simpler to receive an error free manuscript and set it up for production than to spend time actually editing.

Then, if a writer was fortunate enough to be among the chosen, input may or may not be allowed concerning the cover art. Even if suggestions were made by the writer, that didn't mean they'd be followed. You got your cover and you better be happy with it, unless you were a big-name author with lots of pull.

And, you wouldn't dare object to a release date as being such a long way off, even if it was almost two years away.  And if your book didn't come out on the release date, you'd have to accept that inconvenience.

Also, if you were lucky, your publisher would send in Arcs for reviews, and mail you a few Arcs so you could garner reviews as well. If you were extremely lucky, a few magazine ads might also appear publicizing your book.

The upside was if it were a large publishing house, you'd get an advance, after which if you earned it out, you'd also receive royalties. A small publisher couldn't afford to pay you an advance, but you'd get a percentage of the sales as royalties, after all the expenses were first deducted.

Seeing your book in print, being paid anything at all for writing it, no matter how miniscule the amount, still made you feel validated. You'd finally made it as an author. People were actually reading what you wrote. Some of your advance and/or royalties you gladly socked away to cover your own advertising, travel and clothes expenses for book signings and special events to get your brand known. You happily attended conferences at your own expense because it was so much fun to be finally recognized as a published author.

That was then. This is now. There are still many authors who choose to go the old-fashioned way, for a variety of reasons, but many are jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon.

Barry Eisler

Robert W Walker happily self-publishes
 Barry Eisler, a successful traditionally published author, is part of the new revolution. He's had the temerity to turn down a $500,000 offer from St. Martin's and opt for self-publishing instead. J.A. Konrath is another author who has happily  made the transition, and is reaping profits. One of our own bloggers at Acme Authors Link, Robert W. Walker, has also chosen to go the self-publishing route. If you've read any of his posts, you'll understand he's thrilled with his decision and added bankroll.

Morgan Mandel is a happy self-publisher
  Upon the advice of Austin S. Camacho, I also chose the self-publishing route. I self-published Killer Career in August, 2009. That's when self-publishing wasn't cool. Now it is, and with the emerging popularity of the kindle and, Killer Career is coming into its own.

 It's a heady experience to be able to choose your own cover, either by devising one yourself, or by collaborating with a skilled professional. It's wonderful to know the book of your heart can get out to the public, even if it's about something publishers consider unmarketable. Not only that, it's your decision when to get it published, either electronically, such as on kindle, which is the most popular right now, and/or in print, through such avenues as Create Space and/or Lightning Source.

 As a warning to the unwary, it's best not to get carried away with power. Don't think your manuscript is so great it doesn't need changing. You have the choice and means to provide a quality product, so don't get impatient. Take the time, make the effort and be sure to get a skilled editor to check your manuscript before you release it.

So much more is yours for the taking, if you want it to be. Yes, it requires more responsibility, but self-publishing is worth going the extra mile.

It's a brave new world out there for authors. More than ever the fate of our books and our brands are in our own hands, where it should have been all along. We've come a long way baby, and we're not going back!

Morgan Mandel
Killer Career is now 99 cents on

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Even experienced writers need an editor

A few blogs ago, someone left a comment correcting my misuse of a word. The person posted anonymously and commented that they weren't trying to be rude in pointing it out. I welcomed the correction because it just demonstrates that we all need editors, or at least a second pair of eyes to catch the things that we might miss.

I used the word wet instead of whet and this isn’t something that the word processors would necessarily catch because both words were spelled correctly. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your word processor and return to the old fashioned typewriter. In fact, on the news just last night it was revealed that the last factory to make typewriters has shuttered its doors.

No - what this means is that you should consider embracing multiple approaches in vetting your written work. The various word processing software choices available do provide several layers of review - if you will - that allow the writer to self-edit along the way. Tools that check spelling and grammar can be quite useful, or distracting, depending on your writing process. You can even turn these features off and then back on when you’re ready for that layer of editing.

This editing process is not necessarily the same as critiquing. When writers ask someone to read or review their written work, I routinely advise that they should be as specific as possible in their requests. For example, does the writer want the person to catch those unintended misuse of words or does the writer want a reviewer to look at the written work from the perspective of plot, pacing, dialogue, or any of the other structural elements of a novel or non-fiction work.

Beta readers are also available to writers but make sure you vet them just as you would an agent or publisher. Don't know what a beta reader is? Here's a link to one perspective on the topic:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wedding Buzz

No, not mine, but Prince William and Kate’s. Are you excited about the wedding?? I am.

Yes, the anticipated wedding of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and his fiancĂ© will be at the end of this week, April 29th and yes, I will be up at around 4am to catch the action live. I certainly could sleep and watch the rebroadcast of the ceremony, the pomp and circumstance, but why should I when I can see it LIVE! Well, I wish I could see it live and in person, but alas, I was not one of the 1900 invitees.

Regardless, I will watch and ooh and aah and wish I was in merry old England.

Keeping on the research track, here are some historical references for the big day, Friday, April 29th!

1958 Britain My Fair Lady

29th April 1958 : The Broadway musical "My Fair Lady" opens for its first night in London, with Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins, and Julie Andrews playing Eliza Doolittle. Tickets for the show cost just over £1, the first month is sold out before opening night.

1986 England Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson

29th April 1986 : The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, is laid to rest alongside her husband, the abdicated King Edward VIII, at Frogmore in Windsor. Members of the Royal family including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Anne, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, as well as The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher attended the Ceremony.

1993 England Buckingham Palace

29th April 1993 : Buckingham Palace will open its doors to the public in order to raise money to repair the fire-damaged Windsor Castle. The palace will only be open in August and September when the Queen is at her Scottish residence, Balmoral. The cost of entrance will be £8 for an adult.


Have a great week!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mysteries of the Art World by Margot Justes

A potential Leonardo da Vinci sketch had been unearthed, more precisely an art historian thought that it was "absolutely Leonardesque" but that it was probably drawn by one of da Vinci's students.

An exam showed that the sketch was done closer to 1473-yes they could narrow it down to the year-amazing isn't it-what science can do? At any rate, Leonardo da Vinci did not have any apprentices or students until the late 1470's. That leaves the work as that of the master himself, or does it?

The mystery continues, the historian is convinced that he has the first portrait drawing the master did.

Now, the fun begins, the research, the absolute proof-that yes the sketch was done by Leonardo da Vinci. That would be lovely, but it is a long road to the absolute.

The paper is tested to check the properties and identify them as belonging to the era, they will test the chalk and pencil for the same reason. They were able to tell that both hands were used in that particular sketch, and it is known that da Vinci was reputed to be left-handed, but at the early start of his career he used both hands.

Would you believe that a reconstructed da Vinci fingerprint exists? It does. Another step that brings us closer to the ongoing search for knowledge about the great master.

Paper was expensive during the era and often re-used, and they found another drawing of an animal underneath the new sketch. Leonardo was known to draw animal figures, and the style matched.

Much is known about da Vinci, much can be found using modern day science techniques to give us a rare glimpse into the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci.

There are art detectives who attempt to solve the mysteries of newly found masterpieces like the first portrait sketch attributed to da Vinci.

There is enough proof that the piece is probably the master's, but the final absolute is still a work in progress.

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Silent Partner in Crime - Store

BAYOU WULF (Blood Screams) When I was a younger man during those BK days (Before Kindle) I could seldom find a bookstore, be it a major giant brick and mortar place like B&N or a cozy independent bookstore that I truly felt a partnership with; I was never truly ever made to feel like anything other than a BOTHER in 99 percent of the bookstores I did signings in or dropped in on for a driveby signing.  Now during these days of AK (After Kindle), I am in a true, strong partnership with a bookstore--the Kindle store which has expanded now beyond the UK and into Germany.

The great thing about this partnership is that Amazon is a silent partner and yet they provide such excellent services. Reporting of sales top-notch, book returns no sweat--hardly know they exists, no one boxing up your book while you are still in the store signing!  Distribution is worldwide. I can't enumerate all the wonderful pluses working with the Kindle Store. So I won't . Instead, I will draw your attention to the Kindle Community Forums, one of which I began called: What Mioves Kindle books off the shelf? (misspell and all - think iMoves).  Here is a recent post I placed on the forum which you will likely find of interest if you are at all interested in ebooks sales or as an eReader, eReviewer, eFan, eAuthor, or ePublisher.  The thread here has grown to 18,333 views, 550 posts, 38 pages.

Posted: Apr 20, 2011 3:22 PM:

. . . I can't tell you how many new readers, people who have never read any of my books before have discovered me--my sense of humor, my political rants, my self on facebook and twitter and have become readers of R.W. Walker's books due to getting t'know me through my tweets and remarks on facebook. In Bayou Wulf, for example, I have placed maybe ten or eleven facebook friends' names in the book after posting that I needed some extras on the "set" and to expect to be killed in a gruesome manner. I got all kinds of takers and all of them have family and friends, and all are anxious to see themselves in the book, and they will share their demise with friends and family. Hopefully, this translates into purchasing of more books, gifting to others, etc.

I belong to like ten chat groups, and many of the people on these groups, due to what I had to say, decided to check out my books. In other words, it is not entirely a "crap shoot" but more a good faith effort to convince eReaders that one's work--one's book--is worth anyone's time and money.

As to tagging book titles - what the hey -- it certainly can affiliate you with another author. First time I noticed this all of a sudden William Miekle and I were being treated like blood brothers. Checked out his work and sure enough...and Miekle is on fire, so I am associated with him, great. Associated with JA Konrath, what can it hurt? I've known Joe for years; he was best man at my wedding. But when his book pops up on my book page, and mine on his, I have to figure that does have an affect--my readers find him, his readers find me. We have also exchanged opening chapters of our books at the end of one another's kindle titles. (Now Kindle is posting at end of a book other titles by the same author!  Smart marketing!)

I pretty much concentrate on my own book pages - how can I improve this, tweak that, click here, there, where?  But since using the LIKE button on the book's page, I have highlighted more books of others on my facebook and twitter pages as an effortless thing to do. This means my 5000 friends on facebook and however many I have on Twitter sees the cover art of someone I hit LIKE on. This can't hurt.

I think everything has a cummulative effect and even if I am wrong, please, guys, I need that illusion to keep on keeping on. I know that growing sales truly takes more time and patience more than anything else, that sales grow with word of mouth - reviews, interviews, blogs, articles.

Just today I made a crack about Bayou Wulf not being just about werewulves but "gator tail" is served up in the book as well. The comment caused at least one FB friend to throw his hands up and purchase the novel. I still say a great description, or even a one-liner can zap a potential reader in just the right way as to move him or her to purchase.

I don't believe that the only thing I can do is get into listmania business and/or do any one thing. I can understand the frustration of going from thread to thread, site to site and getting nowhere. I feel you have to pick your battles and use your wits and imagination (often the wild-hair idea is the best!). For example, point out the fact your book is cheaper than a MacDonald's burger, and if it is 99c now, this means it is less than any item in the Dollar General Store. On Facebook get folks putting in items they can buy if they do NOT buy your book - a toothbrush, a liter of pop, etc. Get people to laugh and you win them over. At book conferences and conventions, I always, always get em laughing while on a panel or giving a talk on creating monsters and serial killers and villians you can't take home to mother.

Yes you want to lower your prices if need be, experiment with it, and you want to work toward ranking in the top 100 in any of the wildly scattered categories Amazon "recognizes" -- I showed up like #3 in Religious historical fiction or some such category for Children of Salem once, and I showed up also as beating out just about every author whose last name began with a proud I was but it's a bogus category and who can't beat Stuart Woods, eh?

I just do not buy it that all my two years now of working ALL they methods of getting attention I have done amount to a "crap shoot" -- and but sure, I can understand why someone would say and believe this. It is the hardest thing in the world to make money from writing fiction or poetry (the old saying, "There is no money in poety, but there is no poetry in money" holds true for short stories and novels as well unless you strike the literary lottery or the commercial lottery which is far more rare than people realize -- even in Legacy or traditional publishing as no one in the paper world of books knows what works either except when the CEO of a publishing firm makes a book his/her top priority which means an author is going to be crowned with money and hype.

I kinda sorta pride myself on having come as far as I have spending not a dime; remember all of this is FREE advertising, free publicity, this online world. When I finally discovered FACEBOOK, I really found a home for my personality and desire to have every man, woman, and child read my books! long-winded two cents on the "crap shoot" thing. Not angry or upset or nothing of the sort; I just think it sends the wrong message. Even dropping price is a "gamble" or an "experiment" just as using listmania is a gamble so it is all a casino royale but they let you in for free; you get to select the slots.

Rob Walker - bk. trailer, free chapters, advice!
Bayou Wulf - Cajun-Creole baking, cooking, golf-playing, gator-tail chasing werewulves - whoo-Rah!

The Waiting Game by DL Larson

We're finally done playing the "waiting game" at our house. We were getting pretty good at it too while making ready for my daughter's wedding. We waited for bridal gowns to be shipped, we waited for tuxes, invitations, flowers and centerpieces. The list went on and on while we prepared for the big day. The many preparations reminded me of waiting for things to happen in my writing life. Once I ordered a particular item, my job was done. All I had to do was wait for it to arrive.

Does that sound familar when it comes to submitting our work to publishers and editors? Whether we send our material and inquiry through email or snail mail, our job is temporarily done. Or is it?

I learned to chart my submissions and then move on rather than gnawing on "what ifs." What if I said this rather than that, would someone sit up and take notice? What if I explained my plot a little differently, and before long I focused on another approach of querying my work. Not necessarily better, just different.

Then I realized what I was doing. I was filling time, wasting time when I could be working on my WIP, editing completed chapters, anything besides second guessing what I submitted to an agent.

I'm all for tweeking queries and getting the words just right, but in order to be productive with the time I have, I learned to do my obessing before I send a query, not after.

How about you? What have you learned to do while waiting for responses to agents and publishers?

Til next time ~

DL Larson
PS: I wanted to share a bit of our big day with you: This is Amber and Josh ... and the cake! :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You Are What You Eat by Morgan Mandel

Who hasn't heard the saying, You Are What You Eat?
It's true that what you eat can impact your health. A steady diet of sugar could tip the scales and turn you into a diabetic. Too many fats can clog your arteries.

Consider how this applies to characters in your novel.

If you want to portray someone as being health conscious, you wouldn't have that person eat steaks and real butter every time you mention what they're eating.

Then again, a guy eating steaks and mashed potatoes with real butter could be described as a virile person, daring person, unfearful of popular opinion.

A vetetarian could be portrayed as someone not wanting to take chances.

A woman who eats cartons of ice cream and chocolate might be someone consoling herself from a recent disappointment in the love department.

What examples can you give?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Historical Romance and Research

As I have mentioned here before, my current WIP is a historical romance set in Regency England. I've had so much fun researching, and yes it does take away from my writing, but I often find I pick up a few new tidbits that spark something for my WIP or for new ideas for other books. I thought it might be fun to share some of it and keep me in the “zone” for my story. I hope you enjoy the research! My favorite picture from my trip to London two years ago was this picture taken in St. James’s Park. I’m standing on the Blue Bridge and if you look one way you see Buckingham Palace and the other is the back of the Horse Guards and the Admiralty Buildings. From the angle I took the picture it looks like a huge palace, but actually it’s just the tops of many buildings set behind one another. St. James’s Park is what is known as a Royal Park and it is the oldest one in London. It is surrounded by three palaces, Westminster (now the Houses of Parliament) St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace. You can read more about St. James’s Park history here. This is a picture of the park from around the time my story takes place. And here is a picture of the map I took with all the places marked so you can see where everything is. You can see that so much and yet so little has changed. I was very surreal to stand there and know that I was in the same place that Henry VIII went deer hunting and where many royals held lavish parties. Oh, and in the 18th century cows were still grazing in the park where milkmaids provided fresh milk for visitors to the park! Hope you enjoyed St. James’s Park. Have a great week, Best, June

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Final Touch

A while ago I posted about a 'disagreement' my hubby and I were having about the windows in our bedroom. He kept insisting it was too light in the morning, and I kept insisting it was fine: we needed to be getting up anyway. In the end he nailed drop cloths across the windows, and we've been using them for drapes ever since.

Kind of like a rough draft. It obviously solved the problem in a temporary fashion, but still needs work to make it shine.

Last weekend we finally put up some real drapes. Insulated (keeps the cold out in winter, the heat out in summer), light blocking, and they even match the rest of the decor. It's a beautiful thing. (Okay. Okay...I haven't ironed them yet...I'm kind of hoping the creases will just hang themselves out.)

Kind of like putting the finishing touches on a manuscript. When you've gone all through, written your story, then the tiny details that really make it come to life can be added. (And in a story, I definitely would iron out all those loose ends!)

All in all, leaving you with a very satisfied feeling.

Until next time,

Happy reading!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

A change in Attitude by Margot Justes

I'm going through a change-no, not that change-a change in attitude.

I'm cleaning house, getting rid of stuff I no longer need or use, and Amvets is a frequent visitor.

In the process I'm simplifying my life. I no longer find kitchen utensils enticing, cookbooks no longer viable, because all I do is look at the recipes and all the pretty pictures, and say hmm, that looks delicious and that's it, I'm done with said cookbook.

Shoes are still a I went chocolate shopping for my daughter for Easter, came home with no chocolate but bought a sexy pair of shoes. Somethings you just can't give up. I still need to get that chocolate.

But I noticed something else too, things are a whole lot less important than they used to be. I put clean sheets on the bed and realized that the fitted sheet was on the bed inside out. In the 'old' days I would have re-made the bed, now I just mumbled to myself -the sheets are clean, we're good.

It's comforting to go with the flow, there are fewer hassles and as long as I have the ability to learn and appreciate new things, and in the process challenge myself...that indeed is excellent.

Till next time,
Margot Justes

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Amongst the Happiness, Lurks a Bit of Sorrow by DL Larson

Our daughter is married - HURRAH! All went wonderful and I'm exhausted but happy. Well, mostly happy. My favorite uncle passed away the day before our daughter's wedding. It hit my family hard and we are in a sort of mourning despite our happiness for our daughter and son-in-law. It's one of life's quirky ways of reminding us our stay here is fleeting.

This morning our neighbor of many decades called to tell me her husband passed away last night. My husband had already heard since he has coffee every morning with our local funeral director. I was just about to call her. We talked for a few moments, both remembering times passed and even though they are a generation older than we are, they were newly weds at the same time. We talked on how we found enjoyment in the simplest things if our spouse was with us.

So, among our happiness lurks deep sorrow and I wonder how other writers pull these life experiences into their writing. In one of my books a main character passes away and I was devastated for weeks at the loss of one of my own creations. In another book an older character dies and although it is a sorrow, the natural progression of life felt was easier to bear.

For me, writing a tragedy is heart wrenching and draining. Yet it is equally difficult to write something funny - laugh out loud funny. I struggle to get the comedy of the words just right. I'm exhausted mentally, but not drained.

How about you? Is it easier to write comedy over tragedy? If two assignments were offered, one a loss of life, one a funny episode, which would you pick? And why?

Share with us please!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For the Greater Growth by Morgan Mandel

Now that it's Spring, new growth is popping up all over the place. I'm tempted to linger outside and enjoy the weather. All right, I confess, I did give in for a while. I sat on the patio and read from my kindle, with Rascal nearby basking in the late afternoon sun.

It's so very tempting to play hooky from writing and continue to enjoy the weather, with all the new growth around me.

The problem is by continuing to enjoy the new growth outside, my manuscript won't get finished inside. My new growth will not get accomplished. So, as tempting as the weather is, I'm setting a limit on participating in my appreciation for the greater growth of my manuscript.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tax time is almost over - or is it!

Okay - we normally expect to have only until April 15th to file our taxes but this year we have until the 18th due to Emancipation Day - a holiday observed in DC - falling on Friday the 15th. Holidays empact tax filing deadlines and this one is no different.

But as writers our tax concerns and responsibilities do not necessarily end with the filing of our tax returns (federal, state and local in some cases) for the previous year.

Depending on income from your writing, whether or not you have a day job that provides a W-2, or if you are single and writing is your only source of income, you may or may not have to pay estimated tax payments. And, don't forget the IRS rules on record keeping.

I found this article yesterday that I want to share with everyone. You'll see why after you've read it.

Proclaimed to be the most tax-efficient man in America I found this coverage of Doug Stives - a CPA from Red Bank, N.J. - to be right on target concerning how one should conduct oneself as a small business, which is the category for most writers, especially fiction writers.

So, read it and hopefully it will inspire you to take care of your writing business throughout the year and not just as an after thought when you realize that tax season is almost over.

Here's the link:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saying Good-Bye

Yesterday I officially said good-bye to a dear friend of mine. I've known Lori since fourth grade. Outside of my family, she's the person I've known the longest in this world. Several years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought it, and won. Or so we thought.

About two years ago she was diagnosed with Stage Four Metastatic. In the two years since, she's lived a wonderful and full life, even through the pain of her disease and the treatments associated with it. She was able to accomplish many of the things she'd put on her wish list to do before her time came. The most recent being a trip to Hawaii with her wonderful husband.

Back in November, I was fortunate to get the chance to see Lori. She'd moved away to New York many, many years ago, but we'd stayed in touch through Christmas cards, e-mail, and in recent years her Caring Bridge site. As I hugged her good-bye, I couldn't help but wonder if it would be the last time I'd see her.

Unfortunately, those thoughts proved true. Lori passed away in February, shortly after returning from her dream vacation in Hawaii.

Yesterday was her memorial service. It was amazing and difficult and wonderful and heart-wrenching all in one. The church was literally filled to capacity, with people standing in the doorways, half in and half out of the church. As people spoke of her and how she'd touched their lives, my husband turned to me and said, "I wish I could have known her." (They'd met only once years ago.) "But, being here today, I feel like I did know her. She seems like an amazing person."

How fitting. A wonderful, brave, passionate friend, who had touched so many lives in life, continues to touch them even in death.

And I credit Lori with the reason my wonderful husband and I are together today. On a trip to visit her down in college in Texas, I fell in love with country music. This led me to frequent a local country bar up here, where I met the man of my dreams. I'm amazing how so many lives can be connected in ways we never imagine.

Good-bye my friend, I miss you.

Until next time,


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Who Was the Mona Lisa by Margot Justes

Suspense and mystique in the art world is alive and well, thanks to new details about the potential identity of the mysterious model, who famously became the Mona Lisa.

The dig is on-literally- to discover the identity of the Mona Lisa. In Florence, Italian scientists will dig up the bones, using modern science methodology that hopefully will help identify the lady.

The mystery shrouding the identity of the small portrait, has had scholars and writers debating the possibilities for centuries.

Myths have long claimed that Lisa Gherardini, the wife of wealthy silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, posed for the portrait. Hence the Italian name of the masterpiece, La Giaconda.

According to the EarthLink article, the marvels of modern science ala CSI will play a major part in the research. The dig will center at the Convent of St. Ursula in Florence, Italy. The merchant had a relationship with the convent, and it is said his wife is buried there.

Ground-penetrating radar will be used to locate the tomb, and if one is discovered, they will try to match the bones and the age of the skeleton, since it is known that she died in her sixties.

If skeletal remains can be identified, then the next process will be carbon dating and DNA extraction to see if it is a match to her children, some of whom were buried in the vicinity.

If skull fragments are found and are usable, there is a possibility of facial reconstruction.

That would certainly prove she was the model. Or would it?

Silvano Vinceti, art historian and project leader claims to have found "symbols" within the portrait that suggest it could have been a longtime male companion of Leonardo's who was the "main influence for the Mona Lisa."

Dan Brown found "symbols" within La Giaconda as well, and had a terrific unbelievable run as a bestselling author.

What wonderful sources of suspense and intrigue can be found in the art world...the possibilities are endless.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Friday, April 8, 2011

eDescript autopsies FIX your ebook DESCRIPT

I am contemplating starting an online business that would target ebook descriptions and charge a small fee to Fix 'em...left and right, up and down. There are soooooooo many ebook descriptions that are a turn off for one reason or another.

A bad book descript KILLS interest and any chance of purchase. In fact, the slighter the error in a book descript, particularly for a small press title or an Indie Author title, the less forgiving is the reader who assumes then that the book will have been poorly edited and thus a problem from page one till The End.

It is a HUGE  mistake to assume that eReaders will overlook even a slight, slight error:  a missing comma, a misplaced use of a semi-colon, a typo, or out of place adjective or adverb. True, yes, even for the cynical or the unconcerned and casual reader.

Picture this:  Stuart is fascinated with occult and paranormal mysteries, and so Amazon links send him to your paranormal thriller entitled Chills Galore. Stu loves the cover and title, so naturally he reads the descript wherein he finds a missuse of it's for its... He then lets it sink in and lets the one small error go, but then Stu stumbles onto another error of a misplaced modifier (the very definition of the unintended result), so he now distrusts the author's voice and credibility, the author'sability to pull off this great idea. Stuart is disappointed, but he knows there are hundreds of thousands of other paranormal mysteries in ebook format, so he iMoves On, going elsewhere, money intact, while you're left with No Sale.

So I am embarking on a company that repairs the damage.  The problem for me as I see it is the fact most Indie authors do not SEE there is a problem in their descripts, so how to do exactly that? I can advertise and spread the word about my cheap and dirty service but there may be no takers. If I build it, this company, will they come? I don't know, but I do know that there is a need and a void to fill in this emerging area of the ebook descript becoming the portal, the door to beckon others to open the book itself.

A great ebook may be on the other side of that description portal, but if readers dislike your descript, if unhappy with the color and texture of your door, they will not step inside your novel to give it a chance whatsoever. No shake and bake--not even an unfair shake.

So sign up and submit your ebook descript for my laser scalpel eyes.  And remember, it's a smart dog that scratches its own fleas, and an author who edits himself is a flawed character indeed.  This new company of mine will have a company motto: Spit & Polish Your Portal.

Sad that a would-be reader, possible big fan, gets a look at a bad descript after having found his/her way to your book title, attracted by cover art or platform (be it Salem Witchcraft or Fly Fishing), only to be turned off by a comma or a missing one. So contact me.
Rob Walker, Titanic 2012

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Change and Expectations! by DL Larson

This is the week my family has been waiting for ~ my daughter Amber is getting married this Saturday. The fact that I have taken time to write my blog signifies some basic things about my life.
1. I'm more organized than I thought in order to have time to write! (if you believe this - you've never been the mother of the bride!)
2. I need a break from the "To Do Today" list. (Yes, yes, YES - I need to think of something else, just for a moment or two.)
3. I want to tell the world, "My beautiful, lovely daughter is getting married!"
4. I need a moment to realize change is upon us. We've been waiting for this day for a long time, yet it's scary too. I hope and pray Amber and Josh will have a wonderful life together.

That's really all a mother can ask. A wonderful life doesn't mean it will be stress free, or even without financial problems. But a wonderful life is not measured by these standards, at least not for me. My measuring stick is more about commitment to each other, stand by each other with no matter what attitude. It means leaning and holding at the same time. It means sharing and giving and taking care of each other. It means whispering dreams to each other until they become real. It's shouting and laughing and crying with one another. At the end of each day, no matter what happens, being together is the most important thing. It's loving and being loved.

That is my prayer. For my daughter. For my new son!

Til next time ~
DL Larson

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's around you? by Morgan Mandel

I've mentioned local flavor before. During my visit to Scottsdale I noticed things that are the same and things different than in Illinois.

Arizona and Illinois both have pigeons, morning doves, sparrows and humming birds.
I was surprised to learn Arizona has pine trees, like Illinois, but they're ones imported from Australia.
I've heard Arizona has almost every kind of tree, but it seems the most common where I visited in Scottsdale were  palm trees, orange, grapefruit and olive trees. In Illinois, elm, willow, apple and birch seem more popular, plus a wider variety of evergreens.
Arizona has lots of mountains and hills, while Illinois is mainly flat.

Of course, the major difference is the temperature, which is lots warmer in Arizona than Illinois.

What have you noticed around you? Or, maybe you'd like to  share some differences between your home state and where you've gone on vacation.

Remember to include some of it in your manuscripts to make the locale come alive for the reader.

Morgan Mandel

Killer Career is
99 cents on
Kindle and

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Writing Opportunities

Often writers overlook the value of extending their reach beyond their writing comfort zone. If you write fiction, why not try non-fiction and vice versa?

Just as television and film actors often take to the stage to hone their skills and stretch themselves artistically, writers should look beyond their normal writing activities to do the same.

Where do you look?

Well, in your own backyard, of course. Whether that backyard is online, your local newspaper or the variety of community support organizations that exist, the opportunities are far greater than most can think of.

One of the fastest growing areas for freelance writers is online. Many companies and webiste owners struggle to keep their sites fresh. Why does this matter? It directly relates to page ranking and other attributes used by search engines, among other things.

So, stretch yourself as a writer and embrace the various freelance opportunities that exist. Many not pay well - or pay at all - but just as artists and models develop a portfolio, freelance writing is an opportunity for writers to show case a body of work that just might feed into a book or novel for publication.

Here are a few sites to wet your appetite and get you started:

You can also google the topic and you’ll be surprised with the results.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Clean Out

Yesterday we FINALLY had a nice day here in the Chicago suburbs (sunny and temps in the 50s) and we were able to get outside and do some spring clean out in our yard. It needed it desperately. Last fall we had been really lazy and left a lot of things for 'next year'. We cleared away leaves, dead plants, and even put the front porch furniture back in place. Now those little plants already popping up will have a better chance to grow, and things are looking homey and cozy again, instead of dead and messy.

While working, my mind wandered, and I started making the inevitable comparisons to writing. Cleaning out the yard is a lot like editing a manuscript. In both cases, the garbage needs to be gotten rid of. Whether it's leaves from the previous fall or too many adverbs, those things need to go in order to expose the fresh growth beneath. Those little seedlings popping through are like the seed of a new idea just waiting to take root and bloom. And the rocking chairs and benches are like the finishing touches, making your story real, and a place where people (readers) want to curl up and stay for a while.

Now today we're supposed to get rain. A lot of it. Storms. But that's okay, too. The rain will help the plants to grow. Just like a garden needs to be tended in just the right way in order to bloom and grow, so does a manuscript need to be given the right 'ingredients' to make it come to fruition.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Girlie Weekend by Margot Justes

This will be a short blog. Fortified by a pot of coffee, and I do mean a pot not a cup of coffee, I had an early start this morning by bringing out the summer clothes and packing away the winter stuff; need something concrete to remind me snow is behind us. (I hope) Now, I'm waiting for my daughter Solonge and granddaughter Sydney to pick me up, so that we can visit with my daughter Dina. Our annual girlie pilgrimage, a weekend of much needed fun and relaxation. Love my girlie weekends with my girls. Till next time, Margot Justes A Hotel in Paris

Hear Rob Roar or Snore - Interview w/thriller results

Yesterday I was pleased to do a blogtalk radio interview with crime writing author Jennifer Chase. Instead of doing the usual blog here for Friday, instead, here is the interview. Be patient at opening as it takes a bit to get to the talking points, but it is well worth it as Jennifer asked some probing questions indeed, kept me on my toes.....although I did the entire interview with my feet up at a time when I might well have ought to have been taking a power nap.  Still we cover a wide range of book issues, including ebooks, the creative process, my process, various and sundry jokes sprinkled in and much more. I was pleased with this.  Find the interview here, enjoy, and come back to leave a comment on my blog space here or drop me a line elswhwere, and if you wish to duplicate and spread the news as to where to find the interview, I would not be opposed.  Thanks -- find it here

Rob Walker
Titanic 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic
Children of Salem - a bad time to be in love