Saturday, June 30, 2012

Swept by History by Margot Justes

I spent a long weekend in Alexandria, Virginia visiting my daughter. I took my granddaughter with me, and I must say she was incredible. I  plan to make this an annual event with her. She said she loved it, even though she got a work out.

It was hot and humid and the little munchkin didn't complain. A few stops at Starbucks along the way helped, bottles of water and hats were required at all times.

We walked all along King Street, took a boat ride to Mt. Vernon and visited Washington's home. My granddaughter is interested in American History and she certainly got quite a glimpse.

We spent a day in DC and visited the Vietnam Memorial. It is one of the most poignant and profound memorials I have ever seen. 

The Lincoln Memorial is nearby and we climbed up and paid a visit, and the view of the Washington Memorial is quite amazing from that site. We walked by the White House, and she took many pictures through the fence.

The Smithsonian was not left out, we stopped at the National Gallery and daughter Dina introduced me to an amazing portrait done by Chuck Close. A marvelous, huge portrait of a remarkable, worn, feisty and spirited face. Truly an astounding piece. Finger painting at its best. I will have to visit again. I'm making plans to go back end of September. After all, I have to visit my daughter.

To round out our history lesson, we stopped at the American History Museum.  

Margot  Justes
Hearts & Daggers
A Hotel in Paris
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Play Time, by DL Larson

  Yes, this is a silly picture full of people not afraid to have fun!  My family gave me one of the best presents I have ever received, a good old fashion Birthday Party!  The picture above is the result of a Scavenger Hunt around the farm.  Not one person sat out, or thought they were too cool to participate.  But then that's my family, a great group of "doers!"  The youngest member is my nine month old grandson, Van, on the far left in the back row.  The oldest is my dad, 88years old, standing in the back with the purple boa.  I'm wearing the Dolly Parton wig in the front row.  The rest is my beloved FAMILY!

My only regret is not having a video of everyone undressing!  We could have made some money.  Running around searching for our treasures was funny enough, but when the menfolk tried to remove their costumes, they were awkened to the woes of women fashions that may slide on, but refuse to slide off.  Tugging and pulling and going around in circles wasn't nearly as productive as they had hoped. 

Getting in touch with our childish impulses can be a great way to create new characters, new plots and new ventures in our writing.  Taking time to do the unusual opens up all kinds of avenues and ideas.  Since my birthday party, I've been tossing ideas around and realize I have another "book" forming in my head.  Playtime dreaming with new ideas can be dangerous, but oh, so exciting.

So, come on, share with us here at Acme Authors ... what are some of the silly or different things you have done for fun? 

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In the NorthWoods

I'm up in the NorthWoods where I have a love/hate relationship going with nature. I'm a bug magnet, and they follow me everywhere, even indoors.

And the skies - they've been really blue most days, today, especially, but in the low 80's, a little too hot for me. Fortunately, it cools off nicely at night; and fortunately, I'm not home in Illinois, where it's in the 90's.

First Time For Dinner at PJ's Burger Barn -
We Will Return!
 Out to dinner almost every night, and too much ice cream. Not to worry, everyone knows vacation ice cream calories don't count.

Two trips to Lake of the Torches Casino. Lots of fun playing penny slots, but enjoy myself too much! My friend, Jeanne, and I spend hours when we go. We don't stop whether we're winning or losing, because we are what you call "players." Anyway, I only went twice and the damages weren't too bad this time.

In my spare time, I've been working on a new romantic comedy, which I forgot I had on my laptop computer. A while back, I had hit a roadblock, but this week inspiration came and now I know which direction I'm going, so I'm forging ahead.

Signing off now. Places to go and things to see.

If you like mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense, or fun, romantic comedy, check out the
Excerpts and Links to All My Full Length Novels at

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #2

I have to say, I've had a very productive writing week. In the morning, my first task is to check e-mail and blogs I participate in. I've made an effort to keep this time to a half hour or less, and it seems to be working well.

This week my main task for blogging was to put together a guest's blog post at Heroines with Hearts, another of my blogs. (If you'd like a peek, Nancy Jardine's post on cover art is fabulous!)

The overall big task for the week was doing a full read-through of my mss. I've been editing, revising, rewriting, deleting and now it was time to see if all of those changes flowed. Turns out, they do. There are still a few things I need to tweek here and mind is totally involved in the story at this point, so even when I'm doing other things, Jake and Amber are speaking to me. (I love that!)

After the read through, I once again got out the e-mail I'd gotten from the editor asking for rewrites and some changes. One of the things I dearly love about The Wild Rose Press is their personal approach. Back when this particular editor asked for some revisions, it was in the form of a very extensive and detailed e-mail, highlighting what worked well in the story and what wasn't working so well and why. By now I've read the missive so many times you'd think I'd have it memorized, but I keep going back to it, to make sure I'm on the right track. These editors know their stuff...and any suggestions they make definitely fall into the category of valuable advice.

This week I'm working on finishing one final scene and then going back and checking a few parts that still might be a little repetitive. My goal is to have the mss back to the editor before we leave for vacation on Thursday.

All in all, things are going swimmingly in my summer writing world! Best of all, with a plan in mind, I'm able to enjoy lots of other summer delights as well.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

A visit to the Doctor! by DL Larson

My computer took a road trip.  It underwent surgery and I'm glad to share all is well.  It doesn't look any different and it weighs in about the same as before.  But I've been assured it will be faster and more compatible with other engines it meets when I'm out browsing the web.  The problem, from what I can decipher, is the "carbonite" would not rest, it would not stop backing things up into the clouds and thereby slowing e v e r y t h i n g   do w n  and making my life a living hell.  I'm all about back up and saving things so as not to lose them ~ especially since I've already been down that road and am still paying the price of going unprotected or whatever one calls it when they forget to back up before a storm.  But I'm also impatient and I am glad my hubby intervened and took my computer away before I did something stupid, like send it flying through the window.

So my computer and I are re-united once again and I'm feeling pretty good after a few forced days of abstinence.  I no longer harbor ill feelings toward it.  I haven't thought about tossing it out since it's been home.  So far it's behaving quite nicely.  Surgery saved my sanity.  And my window!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Power of the Written Word

I recently watched the movie The Help and just in case you don’t know the story line, it revolves around a young southern woman, recently graduated from college who returns to her home in Jackson, Mississippi and proceeds to turn everyone’s world upside down with the use of a pen, paper and her typewriter.

As the Civil Rights Era is brewing, so is her desire to be a serious journalist and writer and thus begins her quest to write a book from the point of view of The Help.  The movie is well acted and the dialogue well written.  There were many things that were emotionally touching and engaging about this movie but many of the most poignant ones to me were centered on the power of the written word.  I don’t want to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it but just the act of changing the word coat to commode in a newsletter gave the movie one of it’s more powerful and memorable moments.

The book and the movie both have been criticized as watered-down attempts to render this story of civil rights injustice more palatable to the masses.  There is truth in that because this period in our history just wasn’t palatable on any level – BUT, telling a story like this and in this way does get the conversation going, and it’s a conversation that often becomes silenced as we all move on with our lives, grow older and leave the past behind.

I grew up in Southern California with a father who had grown up in Georgia in the early 1900’s and who was taught all the ways to torture and hate people of any color.  I know first hand just how much damage is done by teaching our children to hate other human beings because of the color of their skin.  However, his hatred and rage didn’t stop there.  He extended that hatred and rage to his daughters because not only were people of color inferior in his mind, but so were females.

While it is true that I came to watch The Help with an existing understanding of the horrors of our country’s racial past, I still learned information that was not present in my conscious mind such as the blatantly ironic (I’m being nice here) fact that the white women eagerly handed their children over to these black maids but were appalled at the idea of sharing the same toilet with them.  This point alone speaks loudly to so many things if one just stops and thinks about it for a moment or two.

Sometimes we have to make stories palatable just to get the truth across and to get the conversation going - and getting the conversation going is the first step to enlightenment.  At a minimum, this story brought focus back to the horribleness of that time and we need to be reminded of these events so that we don’t slip back into this type of behavior.  We need to study history to better understand ourselves and those around us, and hopefully to keep from repeating it, although human beings of all walks of life seem to be determined to repeat past behaviors that are not in the best interest of the masses or even themselves.

Throughout the many centuries of human existence it has been the written word that has propelled us forward and the last line of dialogue in the movie, The Help, speaks to that very powerfully.  I don’t want to spoil it for you, but let’s just say it’s about being a writer, and being a writer is what lifted all the women in this story up regardless of social status or skin color.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Corner Cafe Offers A Tasty Collection of Short Stories for Kindle. Meet Helen Ginger at the Cafe

** Today, Morgan Mandel is talking about The CORNER CAFE at her Double M blog. Be sure to stop in for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie! Her guest is Helen Ginger talking about being a smal town gal, short story writing and her new release, Angel Sometimes.

THE CORNER CAFE: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is the local place where 15 authors offer their takes on the guests and visitors who come in. The menu includes stories by Marian Allen, Shonell Bacon, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, W.S. Gager, Helen Ginger, Dani Greer, S.B. Lerner, Audrey Lintner, Morgan Mandel, Maryann Miller, Bodie Parkhurst, Bob Sanchez, Mary Montague Sikes, Red Tash, and Christine Verstraete. (And it's better than a cup of joe - and only 99 cents!!)

Their Corner Cafe stories:

* "Gila Monster" by Helen Ginger: Neree parked her beat-up truck, Gila Monster, in the senior parking lot, hoping it'll still be there at the end of school. Instead, she finds an unexpected possibility...

* "One Last Run" by Helen Ginger: When a couple ski a black diamond run in a blizzard, the truth of what happened is in the blood.

* In "What Nice Blessings" by Morgan Mandel, tragedy strikes a young adult, testing her courage and teaching her the value of friendship.

* "The Closing of the Corner Cafe" by Morgan Mandel describes the rise and fall of a cherished eating establishment.


* "The Catfish Enchantment" by Marian Allen: Cosmo’s father deserted the family and died unforgiven, his mother is sinking into depression, he’s started cutting himself to relieve the pain, and his boss suggests…a tattoo?
* In "I Wanna Get Off Here," by Shonell Bacon, a bus driver with a dream to write must first unchain herself from a relationship and inner thoughts that keep her hopes from coming to pass.
* In "What's Next" By Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, a young woman who sees herself drifting aimlessly through life, hires a crop dusting pilot to fly her over the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the night and is enlightened by "What's Next" in her life.
* "The Eyes Have It" by W.S. Gager: Crimebeat reporter Mitch Malone hates going to church, but when he gets rooked into speaking to the Bible-toting ladies, he may be facing the devil himself as he investigates the prayer group's missing purses.
* In "Saturday Night Special" by Dani Greer, a jaded old codger learns it's relationships old and new that make the Corner Cafe a treasure, not just the down-home cooking.
* Also by Dani Greer: When Mick decides to apply for "A New Job," he discover one too many damning things about the Corner Cafe manager.
* Also by Dani Greer: Nell Crisp likes the ambiance and Wi-Fi at the Corner Cafe, but little does she know it will be her "Home Away From Home" when the police pay a visit.
* In "Since You Left" by S.B. Lerner, a young lawyer is unsettled by a phone call from an old boyfriend, and forced to make a decision.
* In "The Consequences of Breaking and Entering" by Audrey Lintner, Goldilocks gets an update and her comeuppance."
* "Over the Threshold" by Maryann Miller mixes a bit of Raymond Chandler noir with "The Twilight Zone."
* "Love Song with Holsteins" by Bodie Parkhurst is about Halloween, magic, Russell the dairy bull, love, and the private memorials we make to it.
* "In A Face in the Window" by Mary Montague Sikes, can Arianna ever forget the tragic loss that changed her life, especially on the 10th anniversary spent in a museum where memories lurk in the art and later among the shadows of the Corner Cafe?
* In "You Can't Be Too Careful" by Bob Sanchez, George prepares for the expected Y2K catastrophe.
* In "Living Well," Red Tash gently pokes fun at the Star Trek fan culture and the ups and downs of long-term love, in the fan-favored setting of This Brilliant Darkness' Corner Cafe.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #1

I thought it might be fun to have a theme for my summer blog posts. So I've decided to go with a writing journal format. My plan (hope) is to accomplish a lot of writerly things this summer, so a record of my progress might help keep me on track!

Summer vacation officially started this week on Thursday. My first order of business was to fix the issues I was having with Blogger and then comment on some fellow writers' blogs. I also took care of some promotional business, and then I turned my attention to an actual manuscript.

One of my summer writing projects is to do requested rewrites and revisions on a mss I'd submitted to Wild Rose. This is the third book of my 'trilogy' and features my bull riding hero Jake.

A few months ago I'd printed out a copy of the entire mss and had started going through and marking things that needed to be changed. Since then, I've actually changed my mind again about a direction for the heroine, so the pages are quite marked up in places. Lots of cross outs, arrows, and notes in the margins.

Thursday afternoon I got out my trusty laptop, gathered a few supplies (sticky notes, notebook, pen) and headed to the front porch. (One of my favorite places to write.) All in all I transfered about 100 pages of written changes to the electronic copy of the mss and used sticky tabs to mark places I want to come back to. Not too shabby for an afternoon's work.

Next week's work will be to finish all of the transfers that need to be done, and then get started on the additional scenes needed for the story. It's also my goal to be a better/more frequent commentor on fellow authors' blogs.

Hopefully, those will be easy goals to accomplish for the week.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Invite You

I invite you to come on over to Helen Ginger's blog Thursday, June 14, where my topic is Life Altering Events and how they relate to my two contributions to The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories. Here's the link:

Come on over and tell us yours -


Morgan Mandel

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cosplay at The Corner Cafe? What in the world?

Today Marian Allen is talking with author Red Tash about her story "Living Well" and cosplaying (what is that you ask?) from The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories (by BBT Cafe Authors).

What's cooking at The Corner Cafe?

Assorted stories featured at or around The Corner Cafe by 15 authors including Marian Allen, Shonell Bacon, Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, W.S. Gager, Helen Ginger, Dani Greer, S.B. Lerner, Audrey Lintner, Morgan Mandel, Maryann Miller, Bodie Parkhurst, Bob Sanchez, Mary Montague Sikes, Red Tash, and Christine Verstraete.

Fun seeing the different takes everyone has on the cafe. Certainly a busy, interesting place!! Stop by for a cup of coffee and see!

** It's hit #2 in Best Short Stories at Amazon!**

* Some of the Corner Cafe Stories: *

** In my story "Perfect Timing" by Christine Verstraete, a rescued pup helps cafe owner Gina Mason find love and thwart a would-be robber.

** In "Living Well," Red Tash gently pokes fun at the Star Trek fan culture and the ups and downs of long-term love, in the fan-favored setting of This Brilliant Darkness' Corner Cafe.

** In "The Catfish Enchantment" by Marian Allen, Cosmo’s father deserted the family and died unforgiven, his mother is sinking into depression, he’s started cutting himself to relieve the pain, and his boss suggests…a tattoo?

The Corner Cafe Blog Tour

June 4 Blog Book Tours Kick-off Blog Book Tours Kick-Off
June 5 Bob Sanchez
June 6 Red Tash
June 7 Bodie Parkhurst, Magic Dog Press
June 8 Heidi Thomas

June 11 Marian Allen
June 12 W.S. Gager
June 13 Here at Candid Canine - Chris Verstraete
June 14 Helen Ginger
June 15 Kathy Wheeler hosts Christine Verstraete

June 18 Morgan Mandel's Double M
June 19 Pat Bean
June 20 Shonell Bacon
June 21 Alberta Ross
June 22 Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

June 25 Pat Stoltey
June 26 S.B. Lerner
June 27 Maryann Miller
June 28 Mary Montague Sikes
June 29 Stephen Tremp

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Are blogs effective by Margot Justes

Blogs take a bit of time to write, at least for me. I know that marketing has to be a factor in sales, and that name recognition goes to marketing and sales.

A midlist author needs that crucial name recognition to build a readership, and so it goes. E-book sales are a huge business and growing rapidly, and many of us are taking the plunge and going indie, and trying to build on that name recognition.

How to do it? One way is to blog and post all over e-net creation. That is an upside, our name is out there. There is also a downside. How many read all the blogs that are posted?  People are busy with everyday life.

Are blogs effective? Do the readers really get to know us through them? Is a shorter version of communication better? There is Facebook and Twitter, and many other social networks that take far less time and are a faster way to communicate.

What do you think, are blogs effective, or have they outlived their usefulness?


Margot  Justes

Hearts & Daggers

A Hotel in Paris

and coming soon Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

Friday, June 8, 2012

Who Is Reading What? by DL Larson

As a librarian I have a unique position to compare book stores top sellers to what folks check out at their local library.  Reading reviews on Amazon and local book shop favorites are usually pretty similar and most who don't want to purchase a book, head for the library to find the popoular books. 

The list below was gathered by a Texas Librarian who wanted to track what Young Adults were actually reading, not just what was being pushed at them.  If you haven't heard, YA is hot!  The stories are well written, riddled with real life issues, plus tons of page turning fantasy!  It's a great combo and has been drawing adults as well as Jr. High students to the YA stacks. 

The researcher queried far and wide to see what the youth of America was reading.  The study covered the months of July to December 2011.

The Top Ten:
- Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
- Twilight, Stephenie Meyer
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan
- Wolves of Mercy Falls, by Maggie Stiefvater
- The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
- The Kane Chronicles, by Rick Riordan
- Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare
- House of Night, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney
- Heroes of Olympus, by Rick Riordan

To that list I would add:
- Secrets of Immortal  Nicholas Flamel, by Michael Scott
- Maximum Ride, by James Patterson
- Septimus Heap, by Angie Sage
- Halo, by various authors
- City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare
- The Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan

If you are interested in writing YA, read something from the lists.  These are all series with the second and third, and fourth books as popular as the first book.  Or if you are simply looking for a good read this summer, pick one of these and I can guarantee you will be coming back for the sequel!

Try reading an author you aren't familiar with ~ it's a fun discovery to add him/her to your favorite authors list!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Variety is the Spice of Life by Morgan Mandel

Anyone who has seen my writing can tell I love variety. I don't stick to  one genre, and have been known to combine them at times.

When Dani Greer asked for volunteers in our BBT Cafe egroup to contribute to a short story collection, I jumped in. Since I believe in following where inspiration strikes, it's not surprising my stories for The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories are different than what I wrote before.

What Nice Blessings stars a young adult who undergoes a life changing event. The Closing of the Corner Cafe features a couple who venture into the cafe business.

Eighteen stories are included. The good thing about so many is if you don't like one, you can always try another. We offer something for almost every taste.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Christine Verstraete, another of our Acme Author Babes, who has contributed a short story called Perfect Timing, which includes a dog. Read her story to find out how the dog got inside the cafe. Was the door open?

Find The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories at
on Kindle for 99 cents. Or, if you're patient, mark your calendars for the two free days, Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10.

Morgan Mandel writes mysteries, romances and thrillers, also short stories, one including a young adult.

Find excerpts and buy links to Morgan's full length novels at

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Corner Cafe is Open! A Tasty Collection of Short Stories by 15 authors including Morgan Mandel and Christine Verstraete

Today is opening day at The Corner Cafe. Can't you just smell the coffee?

The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories (BBT Cafe Authors) offers an eclectic selection of stories from 15 authors.

Hey, Morgan, how are you doing? Why hello, there's an author sitting in the corner. And look at the cute dog!

What! A dog in the cafe?

Well, in the adjoining room, at least. And this dog is special.

In my story "Perfect Timing" by Christine Verstraete, a rescued pup helps cafe owner Gina Mason find love and thwart a would-be robber.

Morgan offers two stories:

* In "What Nice Blessings" by Morgan Mandel, tragedy strikes a young adult, testing her courage and teaching her the value of friendship.

* "The Closing of the Corner Cafe" by Morgan Mandel describes the rise and fall of a cherished eating establishment.

Enjoy the stories! Check out the line-up and details at the Blog Book Tours blog.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Different Paths

Yesterday we worked in the yard. It was a beautiful day and we got a lot done. However, there's an area in our yard that still needs a lot of work. We've kind of let it go a bit, and it's quite a mess. So, last night I got out the gardening/landscaping books and looked for some ideas. I hit upon one I really liked and proceeded to do some 'leg work': a basic sketch, a list of materials, went on some web-sites to check out prices. I had a vision, and it was going to be great.

This morning we hit a few garden supply stores. We found the lights I wanted and got the mulch. My hubby talked me into a different kind of rock than I'd envisioned, but that's'll still be fabulous. And then we hit a road block. I couldn't find the edging I wanted. At a second store, we found it, but realized after looking at it that it would be really difficult to install. The other edging, which would be an easier install, was three times as expensive.

So, what to do? Do we go for broke (perhaps literally) and spend the money on the edging that will complete the theme and be easy to install? Do we bite the bullet and get the less inexpensive but more labor intensive variety? Or do we choose something else entirely which would change the vision I had.

Writing is a lot like this. Sometimes I have a plan, even though I'm usually more of a pantster, I do know where I want the story to go. I have a feel for the story, a vision of how it should be. But sometimes, it doesn't come together the way I planned. Sometimes I need to deviate and go an entirely different direction. In the end, the story turns out fine, even if it wasn't what I expected at first. Often times it's better, because I let my muse take over and rule.

I'm sure no matter what we decide, this area in the yard will turn out great. Only time will tell if it turns out like my original vision.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Words on Paper and Time by Margot Justes

It's been a while since I've blogged. Time has a way of disappearing. There is work, the one that actually pays bills. There is family and somewhere in between there is solitude. The type you need to put words on paper. The solitude where you escape to a world of your own creation. Somewhere in between there has be time to do errands, take care of house and make time to read.

Then of course, it's time for bed and you realize the day is done. Time has flown.

That is what happened to me the last few weeks. I have a deadline for my short stories.

Amy Alessio, Mary Welk and I are back together for a short story anthology.

Coming soon to a Kindle near you, Hot Crimes Cool Chicks.

I have a request for a full submission for my paranormal manuscript, and have to wait until my editor is ready-should be end of this month. Have to work on another novella due in September, and so it goes.

The one thing I have learned is time is precious, and anytime I can spend with family, is always my priority. Except for today, got an afternoon call from Solonge (older daughter) and she asked if there was time to go boating-I said no. She caught me in the middle of cooking-yes indeed-I was actually in the kitchen making chili.  A dear friend is ill and I promised him some homemade chili. It's actually quite excellent, if I say so myself. It was something small but important for me to do. I gave Solonge an option for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Back to my point, I really have one. Time is short, we need to pick the things that are truly important to us and do them first, and if there is time, well then we go on to the next item on the list.  I think we'll find that no matter how hard we think our life is, there is always, always someone worse off. Enjoy your life and make time meaningful.


Margot  Justes

Hearts & Daggers

A Hotel in Paris