Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #7

I have to say, I had the best writer's week! It was one of those weeks where everything was clicking and I got a lot done.

On Monday morning it was my intent to contact my editor. It had been a couple of weeks since we'd touched base about a new contract, but I hadn't seen anything official. Low and behold, in my inbox was an e-mail from her asking how I was coming along and if I'd signed the contract. Apparently cyber aliens were at work, since a couple e-mails to each other had disappeared into the netherworld. She sent another contract, which I signed and returned that same day. (It's all done on-line with electronic signatures.)

On Tuesday I had an e-mail confirming receipt of the contract from the Editor in Chief, and a link to the data base which had my tasks for this title. Basically I had to fill out the MIS (Manuscript Information Sheet) and cover art sheet. The first provides information about blurb, dedication, excerpt, and biography to the Press. The latter gives the art department a place to start when designing my cover. (For more on this check out this past week's blog at Heroines with Hearts.) So, I got those taken care of and submitted.

On Wednesday I worked on my WIP (Enough and then some to make my goal of writing the next chapter by my local RWA meeting.) and also received the first round of edits on An Unexpected Blessing from my editor. I was excited to see there weren't a lot of major issues, and so I completed those and sent them back.

On Thursday I got the second round of edits. These were really exciting to get, because the mss had been formatted to look like a 'real' book. I did a forward read through and then a backwards the next day.

On Friday I sent the second round back to my editor and gave her a requested list of tag words for the book: contemporary romance, single mom, ex-con, Thanksgiving, fall, family, samll town. She indicated she'd take another look at the mss and then send it to the copy edit department.

So things are really moving along with this story. The next big steps will be getting the cover (Always a nail biter when I see that e-mail in my in box, but I haven't been disappointed so far and this is my fifth title with TWRP.) and approving the galley.

Not only that, but I managed to complete my third and final bonus round for my local library's summer reading program. Golly I love summer!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Taste of Chicago by Margot Justes

I may have mentioned once or twice before that I love to travel but I also love going out to eat and trying new things. I was raised on simple fare and going to eat in restaurants was not the thing to do. You ate at home.
The one thing my father instilled in me was the love of travel; we moved frequently and lived in some pretty amazing places. Maybe that is why to this day I have wander lust and always want to see more.

Growing up in that environment allowed me the freedom to sample different cultures, but as I matured and became more independent my taste for travel grew as did my palate.
I live near am amazing city. I'm 35 minutes away from Chicago and that means world class museums, theatre, opera, orchestra and food. The restaurants are simply amazing. All of that... just minutes away.

Not raised on fast foods and to this day, the only fast food  I buy is from the Pita Inn, love their falafel. Falafel is basically ground chick peas and assorted seasonings formed into balls and quickly deep fried. Stuffed in a pita bread with tomatoes, lettuce and tahini sauce makes a yummy sandwich. (Tahini sauce is made from sesame seeds)

Chicago and the surrounding area offers amazing restaurants, from The Lettuce Entertain You chain of restaurants, like Everest that provides an exquisite dining experience, to the very casual and delightful R. J. Grunts with a funky menu in the Lincoln Park area.

And of course, any discussion of fine restaurants must include Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and I don't even have to whisper the chef's name, but I will...Rick Bayless.

Inexpensive fare to the very high end and everything in between can be found in Chicago. And because we're so culturally rich and diverse, all ethnic foods abound.

One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago is the Russian Tea Room, first because of its location, as you step out of the Art Institute and look across Michigan Avenue, you can see the sign. They serve traditional Russian fare and the black bread as the saying goes-is to die for.  Their afternoon tea is reasonable and delicious.

Another favorite is Sayat Nova, a Middle Eastern gem on Ohio Street, off of Michigan Ave. A small intimate place with a big sign. It has been in that location for decades, charming Middle Eastern decor with a great menu selection from kebabs to couscous. And the lentil soup is amazing.  


Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nonhuman Characters! by DL Larson

Corbin Dallas had to visit the vet this week.  It wasn't a regular checkup, he got hurt one night when he refused to come inside.  Only after he had licked the fur off around his wound did I realize how seriously he was injured.  I was told the wound was actually a cat bite and infected.  The vet informed me cat bites are always nasty. 

Corbin is taking antibiotics, not cordially, but he's still allowing me to administer to him.  I dab hydrogen peroxide on his ouchy twice a day which helps and there isn't anything for him to lick off.  He's recovering nicely and will be fine in a few more days. 

What I find so intriguing is when I tell others about Corbin's late night adventure, I don't refer to him as my cat, but by his name.  He's part of the family.  My close friends know him as easily as they know the names of my children and grandchildren. 

Writing a pet into a story is another way to explore the insights of main characters.  How they interact with their animal, how they care for it, relays all types of information to the reader without the writer having to spell it out.  The pet can be a minor character or part of a discovery with the heroine or hero in the story.  I've always enjoyed stories with pets in them. 

I've listed a few who have been extremely successful writing "nonhuman themed books."
* James Herriot has many animal stories he shared from being a veternarian in England;  One of his still popular books is All Creatures Great and Small
*Rita Mae Brown with Mrs. Murphy's Mystery series, The Big Cat Nap is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is available on Amazon and other places I'm sure. 
*Erin Hunter has a juvenile fiction series called Warrior Cat and has made a big dent in filling the need for exciting kid stories with animals as the main characters.

Do you plan to write in a pet into your next WIP?  Have you a pet in your latest work?  Do you have a pet of your own and has it become one of the family?

Share with us today!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Her Handyman by Morgan Mandel Coming Soon!

Things have been hectic lately, since I've been working on a new romantic comedy, which I'm calling Her Handyman.

I hope to have it out and about by the end of August. In the meantime, I'm offering a sneak peak at the cover.

Yes, this one has a dog in it. It's a Chinese Crested.

The only resemblance between this dog and my own dog, Rascal, is they both are white with black spots.

This one is cute in an ugly sort of way, which fits into the story.

Now, I'm back to my writing.

For excerpts and buy links to my available books, check out

Monday, July 23, 2012

Ingenious Writing Ideas.....

Not mine, mind you. My ideas are strictly on paper, basically trying to get projects done. But a fellow writer just started something that was new to me - funding an e-book as it is being written.

He did this during the previous Olympics on Kickstarter and will be doing a new book again this year. Funders follow the book as it's written and get other input, depending no funding level. What a concept! You can read about the project here.

So on that thought, what other unique ways have you promoted your writing, or what kind of different promotion or sales tactic have you used? Please share!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #6

I am excited to report that I actually sat down with my laptop this week and got some work done on my WIP! Now, granted, it wasn't until Friday, but, I managed to get a decent 13 pages out. So, not too shabby.

Plus, there's the added bonus of now having the story in my head. Even when I'm not writing, ideas are swirling and scenes are appearing in my mind and my characters often have conversations in my head. "Normal" people might find these voices a bit, um, shall we say, cause for concern, but for a writer, they are the bread and butter of the task. If I hear those voices, I know I'm on the right track!

I also did some related-to-writing things. I doubled checked to make sure a book I'd mailed for a prize contest arrived. (It had.) I did my daily morning blog checks and commenting.

And I fielded a phone call from my brother-in-law, asking what I knew about self-publishing. Since I don't know much, I tracked down a blog on the topic and turned to Morgan for some expert advice. He now has some decent information to get started with.

Today I need to write a post for another one of my blogs (Authors By Moonlight) and then I hope to make some more headway with my WIP, which by the way is tentatively titled "One Great Night". The basic premise is the heroine asks her brother's best friend to be her sex tutor. So far it's made for some interesting interaction!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Went Shopping with Granddaugher by Margot Justes

My daughter and granddaughter came for breakfast, so I cooked their favorite dishes. My daughter loves kiszka, so I got one for her. (Kiszka is a sort of Polish sausage made from barley and beef blood) My granddaughter loves scrambled eggs and Polish sausage. I cooked that along with tomatoes, various cheeses, and pretzel rolls. She loves pretzel rolls. It was a feast, and I might add the coffee was sublime.

They came over to pick up a bed I no longer wanted. We disassembled the bed, packed it in the truck and went shopping for a little chair I wanted to put in the spare bedroom. There is a queen size bed there already, a sleeper couch in my office. I have enough sleeping accommodations. The additional trundle bed took up too much room. A small chair is all I wanted.

Back to my shopping for the little chair. I love Dania, they have lovely contemporary pieces that do not cost an arm and a leg. Maybe a couple of fingers at most.

My daughter and I found a lovely small, comfy chair. My granddaughter found a semi circular, orange couch. It was love at first sight. We tried to talk her out of it. She was willing to look around, but always came back to that orange couch.

I am now the proud owner of a round, orange couch. The room is painted a light green. It is a good thing that other than the dining room furniture, nothing matches in my house. I buy pieces I like and it always seems to work out. Maybe it is an inherited trait.

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

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What is that in the ditch? by DL Larson

It's time to share with you one of my pet peeves.  I try to stay calm, try to reason why folks do what they do, but it is 2012 and it's time to ask the big question ... why do people litter?

Of all the bad habits, I believe littering is right up there with DISGUSTING!   It's a proven fact bottles, cans and cups do NOT get heavier once empty, but apprarently that news has not reached enough folks otherwise they would have strength enough to find a trash can.  Leaving said trash in a car while driving does NOT eat away the gas mileage, but many must believe getting rid of their paper sacks will improve their mph or why else would they toss their trash out the window? 

I drive the same five miles to work each day and every day I see more garbage along the road, especially at stop signs and corners.  We mow our ditches from our house to the highway and we are the ones who walk the ditches to pick up someone elses cast-offs.  Whoever is throwing trash likes Mountain Dew and fast food.  I feel like a detective, knowing their bloodstream is revved up and their tummies bulging on bad food and sugar induced liquid.  If only I had a fingerprint machine, I could track down the culprit and dump their property back into their yard. 

Then, mamma mode hits and I want to take them by the shoulder and shake the daylights out of them.  "Don't you know any better?  Weren't you raised to respect our world?  Are you so important you can't throw your own garbage away?" 

Oh, boy, I'm on a roll now.

"Well, let me tell you, STOP.  Just stop throwing junk out your car window.  Find a little dignity and GROW UP.  Take responsibility for your own stuff and realize the highway is NOT, I repeat, NOT your own personal garbage dump."

Anything else?

"Yes!  If I see one more tossed out pop can I'm going to ..."  Hmmm, this is where it gets difficult to remain in mama mode.  I need help.  So I'm calling for reinforcements! 

"Moms everywhere, please spread the word, littering must STOP!  Take what actions are necessary to convey a clean highway is good highway."

Whew!  I feel better already.  Moms everywhere are watching ...

I'd think twice before hurling that out your car window.

Enjoy the scenery!

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Always Something

I've been tied down with minutia lately. Can't see half the keys on my keyboard, so I requested a new one under my maintenance contract. Twice I received a totally different part for a totally different computer. Today, I finally got a keyboard, but it's nothing like the original, and is harder to type on. Waiting for a return call or email to find out if I can get the correct keyboard.

Dealing with our drought is becoming a real pain. The shrubs are starting to wilt, so I have to keep remembering to do the watering thing during the acceptable hours. I keep seeing clouds, but no rain. I'm glad I didn't buy flowers as I'd intended to do, because then I'd feel obligated to keep the poor things alive.

More wash to do. Because of the heat, everything gets dirty faster, especially towels.

Bills to pay, especially the dreaded real estate bill, which packs a punch. Ugh.

Trying to finish my work in progress, a romantic comedy. Thought I saw an image of a cover for it, but now am not so sure I like it.

There's Always Something.

P.S. If you actually have time to read and are looking for a book in any format, check out the excerpts and links for all my books at

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Doing Research

Research is a necessary fact of life for writers, even those who write fiction.  And while it's true that the writer of fiction can take liberties with the facts and even make things up, it's also true that said writer has to make things believable to the reader.

For example, if the fiction writer is using Australia as a setting then said writer still needs to know about climate and other geographic aspects of the chosen location.  Did you know that summer in Australia occurs between December and February?  Well, even in a work of fiction, if the writer doesn't know this then the reader will come to doubt the writer as legitimate.

How do you find out such information?  Well, government sources are an excellent resource of free information, especially with regards to tourism.  It's easy enough to "Google" your question, which is what I did and at the top of my list of "hits" was a link to the Australian Government's website and the answer to my question.  Here's the link:

This is one of the ways in which the Internet has been a blessing for writers.  True, physically experiencing a location is the best way to learn about it, especially in terms of using all one's senses, but this is neither practical and in many cases affordable.

In the United States don't overlook city, county and state websites for a plethora of information to get to know a location you want to use in your writing efforts.  Even made up towns are more believable when they resemble an actual location.

One such online source that I often make reference to is the CIA World FactBook.  Here's the link:

Peruse it and you'll understand why.

Another source is the Government Printing Office.  Here's the link:

They have an online bookstore that is quite impressive. If you can, put your self on their emailing list and you'll be surprised, even delighted with the titles they release.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #5

Okay, I'll admit it. I've been somewhat of a slacker this week when it came to writing. Truth be told, I didn't get anything done manuscript wise.

I did accomplish some other writerly things. I wrote a blog, commented on other blogs, and mailed two books out. One was a prize for the Sizzling Summer Reads Party at The Romance Reviews and another was for a giveaway basket.

I honestly thought about getting out the laptop and chipping away at my WIP, but I got sidetracked. *sigh*

I still don't have the offical paperwork on my contract for "An Unexpected Blessing". I'm hoping it will be released for Thanksgiving this year. In looking at a schedule from TWRP, the MS needs to go to production by August 15 with galleys approved by September 15. If we're a go for this year, the weeks ahead are going to be busy.

I'd like to say I'm planning on getting a lot of writing done today, but I have a library book due that I want to finish...

On a completely unrelated to writing note, we were on vacation (again) at the beginning of the week. If you're in the Chicago area, or just passing through along I-55, I highly recommend a stop in Pontiac, IL. It was the coziest town with the friendliest people. Lots of Route 66 memorabilia, three museums, two great walking tours (art cars and Walldog murals), cute shops, historic buildings, and great places to eat. We had a blast, and even had our picture taken by and with the Mayor! From the planning of this trip to its undertaking, the people there were friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pitch Your Book Is Back!

By request, today we'll do a Pitch Your Book session. How it works is simple. Just leave a short pitch a/k/a elevator pitch in the comment section. The shorter the better, or readers will get bored and skip over yours!

Leave a buy link and a website or blogspot link, if you wish, but don't clutter with zillions of links, or I'll have to cut yours, since it will spoil the continuity.

I'll pitch Forever Young: Blessing or Curse.

A 55 year old widow takes a pill to be 24, then makes a shocking discovery which has her fleeing for her life.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #4

Well, I can't say I've had an overly productive writing week. We got back from vacation late last Sunday (And we're actually heading out again this morning!) and with the Fourth in the middle of the week, things in the writing world got pushed to the back burner.

On the other hand, it's been a pretty exciting writing week.

I was 'chatting' with my editor via e-mail on Monday and we got to discussing "An Unexpected Blessing". The mss was still in the senior editor's hands, and she had a couple of questions. Namely, the age of the characters was throwing her off. And no wonder...I totally did the math wrong somewhere along the lines and they were fifteen years older than I'd intended them to be. Once I realized the issue, I admitted the mistake and said I had no problem changing that.

On Wednesday (Happy belated Fourth!) I had an e-mail from her saying we were good to go on a contract! Yippie! (So now you can uncross the fingers on one hand.)

From me she needed the timeline to be fixed and the heat between the couple to be 'amped up.' Originally I planned to get her the revisions after I returned from vacation next week, but I got my ducks in a row and sent off the changes yesterday. I figured that would put us a week ahead of the game. The age thing was easy to fix, I simply had to change the phrases about 'thirty years ago' to 'fifteen years ago'. (Seriously...good thing I don't need to do extensive math for a living.) As for 'amping up the heat', I did a read-through and it seemed pretty hot to me, but I added some moments of awareness and more physical reactions to several scenes. Hopefully this is what she was looking for in that area. If not, I'm sure she'll let me know!

I also heard back from the other editor at Wild Rose, thanking me for the re-submission of "This Feels Like Home" and saying I'd hear back from her no later than September on that. (So one hand still needs fingers crossed!)

What with the holiday in the middle of the week and the usual rounds of blog posts and comments and doing the above revisions, I didn't get any work done on my WIP, but that's okay. There's still a whole lot of summer left!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Island of Delos by Margot Justes

I thought I'd post this blog again. It's been a couple of years and wanderlust is visiting me once again; time to plan another trip. Hope you enjoy the post.

About a thirty minute ferry ride from Mykonos is the island of Delos. And what an island  it is. Almost uninhabited,  there are approximately 25 people there, all either archaeologists or security personnel.
The island is bare, there are no snack shops, no hotels, no restaurants, the wind can whip up in a quick frenzy,  it is in fact quite desolate.  A museum, the only modern accommodation for the tourist, books and other Delos souvenirs can be bought, but that is the extent of the touristy trade. The rest of the island is in ruins. Magnificent ruins.

What makes this island unique are the ruins. Amazing ruins. The whole island is covered with them. It is an immense site and one not easily forgotten.

Delos is said to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Archaeological traces indicate the island was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C. Some of the ruins are so well preserved that you can actually imagine what the structures looked like and how they were utilized.

From the Doric Temple of Isis to the Archaic Lions to the mosaic floors, the sites are truly inspiring.
Off the beaten path, I observed an archaeologist crouched on a low portable chair, a pad and pencil in hand as he meticulously measured something on the ground and then put it on paper. I snuck up on him and watched as he quietly continued his research. Time stood still and the serenity on the island was disturbed only by the fierce whipping wind.

If you ever find yourself in Mykonos, do take the time to visit Delos. I promise, you will not be disappointed, you will in fact be enthralled. The terrain is rough, wear comfortable shoes, you will be walking in worn and uneven footsteps that are three thousand years old . It doesn't get better than that.

Margot Justes

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Writing Journal - Entry #3

As your read this (If there is actually anyone out there reading this!) I am most likely on my way home from a fabulous long weekend in Ozark, Missouri. We head down there every year with friends and have a blast ATVing, riding a John Deere, and splashing in the swimming hole.

Before we packed up the truck and headed down, I had a very writerly week.

At my local RWA meeting on Monday I set a goal to write (at least) the next chapter in my WIP. Right now it's tentatively titled "One Great Night". I also put my name on the waiting list for a July critique, which means if someone cancels, I'll be able to bring in the first chapter and have it critiqued by the group.

I'll be participating in The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads Party, so I set up my question link for that. The party lasts for the whole month of July. If you get the chance, be sure to check it out. Loads and loads of great prizes are being given away and there are hundreds of authors participating. Every day there are dozens of chances to win. Check out the site for fun games and chats as well.

I also wrote and/or scheduled two other post for blogs I participate in. (Authors by Moonlight and Heroines with Hearts.)

My big accomplishemnt for the week was sending "This Feels Like Home" to the editor at Wild Rose. After a few more touch ups (The back porch was my working spot of choice this week.), I composed a cover letter, attached the file, and hit 'send'. So, keep your fingers crossed! (I'm still also waiting to hear back about a contract for "An Unexpected Blessing", so keep the fingers on your other hand crossed as well.)

All in all, not to shabby for three days!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!