Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Many Is Too Many Projects? by DL Larson

I've had many projects on hold for awhile, my book one of them.  The others were stripping wallpaper and getting my back entry painted, getting the backsplash finished in my kitchen, giving my living room a face-lift, plus creating new programs for the kids at the library.  Each one had stalled, all with good reasons.  Then the universe shifted and all started moving again with me the pivot that will either make it successful or end in ruin.

My photographer called and we set up an appointment.  A wonderful lady from the Ottawa Times called and we set up an interview time.  The newspaper photographer called and we set up an appointment.  The interior designer I talked to called and we set up a talk session for revamping my livingroom.  The artist called, apologized for not calling sooner, but she had suffered that awful cold that so many have had and now that she's better, we set up a time for her to come see my back entry. 

In the meantime, I'd sorted through what I want for a book cover and sent the ideas to my gals so they could have some input on what they thought was the best cover.  Some were on vacation, some were so quick in replying I hadn't had a chance to think how I would use their ideas.  But their thoughts flooded in and I was overwhelmed with their enthusiasm!!  It makes me excited all the more to share my book with the world.

Then the weatherman told us snow was on the way.  We've been waiting all winter for more snow.  My phone started ringing again.  Yes, Monday would be great, come on over, we'll miss the storm that way.  More phone calls came for re-scheduling for Tuesday morning before the big storm hit.  That was great too.  I don't want anyone left out in bad weather because of me. 

Despite the inclement weather, my plate grew increasingly crowded.  The above picture is the result of a photo shoot in my home - thank you Mary and Josh Hamer.  I'm a horrible candidate.  All I really wanted to do was giggle with a camera in my face.  But they endeavored to persevere and got a decent shot of me.  Kate Reynolds, newswoman, arrived for my interview and we discovered we're both librarians and we chatted about our love of books as well as my upcoming release.  The interior designer, Julie, arrived and told me my livingroom could be saved.  She had wonderful ideas and I'm anxious to see what she has planned. 

Tuesday the newspaper photographer arrived and despite my giggle affliction he clicked off several shots.  I have no idea if I will look like a buffoon or not.  Soon after the artist, Kathy arrived and she came up with clever ideas to make my back entry interesting and not so blah.  From there I headed for work only to discover we were closing due to bad weather.  My program planning will have to wait and for that I'm thankful because I really can't think of anything more right now.

Life doesn't stop and for that I'm grateful, but a little breather now and then is good.  I really need to begin planning a blog tour and if you are so inclined to ask me, I promise to chat about lots of things, and not just my book.  I'm a firm believer that the more real an author becomes to the public, the better chance the book has for success.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

She's Back & Free March 1 Thru March 3!

Her Handyman
by Morgan Mandel
Believe it or not, some readers still don't have their copies of my romantic comedy chick lit, Her Handyman. Since that's the case, I'm offering another freebie promotion to get them in on the fun.

When: Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3


Come and get it & Tell your friends about it, too!

This is the story about the hardworking handyman who answers a frantic call in the middle of the night to fix a toilet leak in a penthouse bathroom.

The gal who greets him is totally strange. Dressed like a Flower Child in flowing blonde hair, with an orchid stuck in it, along with her gauzy blouse and gypsy skirt, a peace sign around her neck and a mood ring on her finger, she looks like she missed the Seventies boat!

Fufu, her Chinese Crested dog, the guilty party who started the flood in the first place, is even stranger looking, and not through in the devilment department.

Read all about their adventures in the Her Handyman Freebie Promotion this Friday March 1 through Sunday, March 3!

If you don't have a Kindle, you can still download to your PC.
Again, the link to this freebie is at

Morgan Mandel and her dog, Rascal

Here I am with my dog, Rascal

Check out my chick lit website at

Find Excerpts & Buy links to all of my books

Connect on Twitter: @MorganMandel

Monday, February 25, 2013

Food for a book launch

With my book, GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie coming out in July, I started thinking about what kind of snacks and food to have at a book launch. Well, launches. I hope to have several at different locations in Illinois and Wisconsin.

A natural seemed to be the brain cupcakes and.... well, how about some zombie cakes? I found an, er,     gruesome  "delightful" selection of possible cakes.... see links at GirlZombieAuthors (Warning! Some are nightmare worthy!)

I like the cupcake idea... have to find the brain mold, (I wonder if Hobby Lobby has one? have to check... Found one at Amazon, probably cost more to ship it. ha!) but here's the recipe.

*** So-- what have you served or what would you serve at your book launch party? What worked - what didn't?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

An End and a Beginning

We just got back from a weekend road trip that marked the end of basketball season! Whoo hoo! I do enjoy working with the cheerleaders as their coach, but come February, the season starts to seem really long. So it was nice to walk into our house a few minutes ago and breathe a sigh of relief.

With the season over, my schedule clears considerably. Between practices and games, I was out usually three nights a week. Add in travel to away games, and it didn't leave a lot of time to get much of anything else done.

My plan now is to use some of that freed-up for writing. I brought in the beginning of a mss I'd started (and set aside) ages ago for a critique a couple weeks ago. It was met with much enthusiasm, which gave me incentive to dust it off and continue working on it.

So that's the goal. To get some writing done. And on that note, I'll sign off so I can unpack and begin making some progress on that goal.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Unexpected Publicity! by DL Larson

I had a few wonderful things happen in the writers world this week.  And one rather bazarre occurance.  I am pursuing publishing with an indepent publishing house and they have been very informative about "what to do next."  Getting the word out that my book will be published this spring is imperative and so I have been wondering what to do.  It's been several years since my last book came out and I feel rather rusty in the whole promoting myself arena.  I'm trying to take the publisher's advice, promote myself rather than my book.  Not that I shouldn't promote my book, but rather the approach, "DL Larson has another book to be released soon ..."

So with all this floating and banging around in my head, I take a break and read my emails.  Our past president of Windy City RWA has just posted that she has two free openings on her TV show if anyone is interested.  July and August!

I typed a response back faster than it takes to tell this story.  YES!  I'd love to be on her show.  She thought that would be wonderful too.  So I've taken a major step in promoting myself and my upcoming book.  I'll be on air July 20 - more details will be available later, but feel free to check Dyanne Davis on Utube.  

The next bit of good fortune is purely Divine Intervention!  I received a call from a reporter from the Ottawa Times, a local newspaper in LaSalle County.  The reporter informed me she intended to write a story about a small town but someone (I have no idea who) mentioned I was an author in a small town and I could be reached at the library! She liked the idea of interviewing me and called me.  I told her I'd be happy for an interview since my book is coming out in April!  I have an appointment for next week with her and the article is scheduled to be in the paper in mid-March.  A photographer will be coming as well.  I'm nearly giddie over this interlude.  It's another big step in reaching out to the public.

The last thing that happened this week is odd.  I received an email from a e-book publishing house saying they had received my submission and it looked promising and if I hadn't sent the whole manuscript with the first query, I should do so as soon as possible.  They would then let me know in a few weeks if they were interested in publishing my book.

I have a log sheet I use for all queries and submissions.  2013 is pretty short, so it took no time at all to realize I did not send a query to this publisher.  I dug out 2012 and poured over it, checked my files in my computers, and still found no verification that I had sent a query to this publisher.  Finally, I rumaged through more paper and found 2011 queries.  There it was Feb. 5, 2011, a submission to them.  The space where I check a response was blank.  Obviously I had moved on to another house, thinking no news meant no interest.  I wrote back thanking them for the interest in my work but since I would be publishing the very book I submitted, they need not bother looking it over. 

So where was my submission all this time? In cyber-space or stuck in someone's email for two years?  I have no idea and will undoubtedly never find out.  But it was nice to know my book interested them enough for them to respond. 

This week did not end without some trials too.  My computer was hacked and I've had a crazy time getting things back to normal.  If by chance, I sent you something odd, please DO NOT open it.  Delete, delete, delete.

And so goes the life of a writer.  Worry, surprise and delight mingled with a good dose of frustration.  It's a reminder that anything is possible.  And of course, to never, never give up!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Tax Man

I've got the tax man beating down the doors - Real estate tax is due March 1, followed on the heels by good old income tax. It's amazing how the real estate values have gone down in our area, yet the tax bill still goes up!

As far as income tax is concerned, I'd like to say I keep everything in order for easy access, but that would be a lie. Today, I'll be hunting around for all the necessary ingredients for a completed tax return. Actually, that will take more than one day. However, it must be done in the next few weeks, since the appointment with the accountant looms on March 8. 

Anyway, I do keep all of my receipts, and make copies of all the expenses for publishing and promoting my books, plus donations, medical bills, etc. I just have to put it all in order.  

What about you? Are you ready for the Tax Man? 

Morgan Mandel writes romances, thrillers &
mysteries. Find all of Morgan's books at

Connect on Twitter: @MorganMandel

Monday, February 18, 2013

Editing, book releases, and what else is new?

Feel like I have been sick for-ev-er..... finally I actually feel like myself again. Can't wait for spring now and flea market season soon!!

So, what is new?

 * If you didn't read it, I have a Valentine's story (or just call it a twisted love story) over at King's River Life Magazine....

* I also won a Dog Writer's Assn. Award for best mainstream magazine story! Info and a link to the story is on my nonfiction web page.

* If you're intrigued at all by zombies, several of us writers have started a blog, GirlZombieAuthors -. random postings, so come check us out!

* I am now almost through the last edits before the galley on GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie - which I learned should be coming out around JULY 1. Yay!  Saw a preliminary cover too so that should be done soon.

Wow! After what also seemed like forever, it is now only months away to seeing the book! Wow!

Funny, how after so many reads, reading it again all these doubts rush in. But I still like the story so hope others do, too.

 ** So, how do you cope with an upcoming book release? Get scared still? Share your thoughts!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Bit of the Caribbean by Margot Justes

It’s no secret I love to cruise, and soon I’ll find myself in the Southern Caribbean. The sightseeing is vastly different from the European visits.  

First, the Caribbean is more accessible from the US, and second, the pace is far more relaxed.  A perfect vacation, to get away from the stress of the daily routine, and get into the palm trees, beach and sand frame of mind. It is not rushed, does not possess the ‘I have to see everything because I don’t know if I’ll ever be back’ feeling. You can visit at your leisure because you might be back.

Okay I’m not a beach baby, and I must have something else to see and do, have no fear it’s there as well.

If you find yourself in St. Thomas, there is Blackbeard’s Castle, with a tower thrown in for good measure. For those that climb all the way up, they can, on the way down stop in the Rum Blending & Bottling facility. Not only can you watch as the rum is blended and bottled, you can sample the brew and buy a few bottles, and they’ll deliver directly to the ship. How is that for convenience?

After you’ve satisfied your thirst, after all the climb up the tower is arduous, you can visit the amber museum. Along the way you’ll find a magnificent amber waterfall, it is not to be missed. The water shimmers along the various golden hues of the amber, and the effect is a feast for the eyes. There is a gift shop where you can find some unique and original amber pieces.

The history of the castle is fascinating, thoroughly enjoyable, and highly recommended. Every island has something unique to offer.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love or Romance? by DL Larson

Happy Valentine's Day!
Today is the day the flower shops become over-crowded, Hallmark makes a mint on greeting cards and men everywhere try not to panic for waiting to the last minute to buy something for their loved one.  Women struggle with what to do as well.  Sending cards to friends is expensive, treats for the kiddies is not really healthy or wise, yet candy companies keep pushing out the gaily wrapped packages and it's just too hard to resist.  Then there's the adorable stuffed animals and the silky see-throughs.  The hustle becomes over-whelming and one wonders if this is just a ploy to boost the economy! At the end of the day some want to collapse while others get dressed up for an evening out.

Whatever you choose to do, take a moment to relish the many blessings in your life. Don't fret over the bills or laundry or deadlines.  Take a deep breath.  Smile, relax, and acknowledge the love in your life.  Love of friendship, love of family, love of that special someone.  The many layers of love blend together like the pedals on a flower.  The love in our life is a bouquet in itself.  Breathe it in and enjoy.

How will you show your love this Valentine's?

My sweetie and I are leaving for a few days.  We plan to stroll through the Auto show in Chicago, have dinner at an Italian restaurant and thank our lucky stars we didn't decide to take a cruise this year.  The Carnival Cruise Line being towed back to Mobile has sewage issues and other hygiene problems to deal with. I feel awful for these folks who had planned a romantic get-away only to have to endure this hardship.
Hopefully the cruise line will make up for their nightmarish vacation.

So will you relax at home?  Go out with friends or loved ones?  Is Valentine's Day special for you or just another day?

Til next time ~
DL Larson

PS: I've been informed I misquoted last week.  "Endeavor to persevere," is from the movie The Outlaw Jose Wales, not Jermiah Johnson!  Geesh!  How could I make such a blunder?  Thanks for setting me straight!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy to Report

Girl of My Dreams
by Morgan Mandel
I'm happy to report that my second born book, Girl of My Dreams, went viral during the promotion last weekend, resulting in 16,465 downloads in the US, 3024 in the UK, 388 in Germany and 84 in Canada, with lesser amounts in other countries.

At one point, Girl of My Dreams reached #13 in Free Kindle Books, which is my personal best in KDP Select promotions! At 99 cents now, it's still doing well after the free promotion. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out:

I hope everyone who clicked to download during the promotion will enjoy reading about the madcap adventures of the straitlaced assistant who became a reality show contestant. I'll be writing future romantic comedies later, because they're a lot of fun to do!

Next in the works is Blessing or Curse. Yes, I've been promising that for a while, but I'm almost through with my edits before it goes to the editor. I haven't paid too much attention to it, since I needed to give my already written books their due first. Blessing or Curse contains five separate romance stories about test subjects who take the Forever Young pill. This one's not a comedy, as it explores a range of emotions. Before doing another event, I plan on getting this book into shape.

As you may have guessed, authors don't have the luxury of just writing. Marketing is an important part of the business these days.

What about you? Do you spend time on special promotions? If so, what type?

Find all of Morgan Mandel's books at

Her romantic comedies are also at

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Moving Along

I think maybe perhaps I've found my niche. Or at least where my talent lies. Writing shorter length novellas in a short period of time.

This week I got my contract back from administration at The Wild Rose Press. I also got my first and second rounds of edits on "The Vampire and the Vixen" from my editor. I've never had a manuscript come back so clean before. In the first edit, she made a few punctation changes - things I'd missed even with a number of read-throughs on my end before submitting - and asked if I could remove a dark dashed line she couldn't get off on her end. (Those tend to appear at times, and I've never known how to get rid of them before. But, I did some research, and learned not only did I take care of it for this mss, but I'll be able to nix them whenever they appear in the future.)

I sent that edit back, askting to make sure I hadn't missed anything else, because there weren't a lot of notes on the mss. She wrote back and said the mss was in really good shape. The second edits arrived at the end of the week. Again, not much work to do. Space for me to fill in previous titles (a back list if you will) and some quotes from reviews. She switched one line around at the beginning of a chaper, and wants me to check if H-R (When referring to Human Resources) has that hyphen in it.

That's it. No major story line changes. No addtions to the plot. Not even any major phrasing issues. I'm kind of thrilled. Maybe I'm finally learning how to write! I applied a lot of the things I learned while polishing and revising another draft of "This Feels Like Home", which is again with another editor at TWRP. I'm hoping having "The Vampire and the Vixen" in such good shape means I'm finally on the right track with "Home" too. Only time will tell.

The only downside to the week is I went into our author system to fill out my Manuscript Information Sheet and Cover Art Sheet and they were missing from my file. So I have an e-mail into administration to get that straightened out. The sooner all of that gets moving, the sooner I get a cover and the mss can head to production for a galley.

But all in all, things are really moving on this one.

And tomorrow I get to bring chocolate to my local RWA meeting to announce my sale. Which is always fun!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

A bit of Venice by Margot Justes

I’m immersed in Venice. My current work in progress (WIP) is set there. Memories of my trip are flooding back, and I’ll return this October for a refresher course.

 Venice is mystical, its magic powerful, and just walking along the narrow ancient streets allows your imagination to soar. The eerily lit side streets, the reflecting glow in the canals and ancient brick walls, summon you forth. You cross an old bridge and you wonder who else walked along the same path.

Was it Don Juan? His face covered by a mask as he celebrated Carnivale, and waited for a damsel. Such is the evocative power of Venice. Steeped in history and romance, the stunning architecture,  the art, and the beautiful tranquil canals, all pull together to form this magical place called Venice.

The Grand Canal flows majestically, along the way, palaces and homes seem to float in the water, as the famous Rialto Bridge stands guard. It’s an evocative place to be sure. It’s a place where you can get lost in the history, go back in time, daydream, and imagine as things were, and still come back to the present and enjoy delicious coffee, black pasta and incomparable gelato.

 If you like glass, Venice offers that too, many buildings and hotels show proudly their Murano masterpieces. If you want to see for yourself, visit a furnace, or a gallery,  Murano is thirty minutes away by vaporetto. A beautiful way to travel on the Grand Canal.

 I’m looking forward to my return trip to a mysterious and magnificent city.

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

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rules To Live By, by DL Larson

As I make my way through the process of having my book made ready for publication, I've been doing my homework on book covers and setting up a promotional strategy.  All takes time and effort.  Perhaps out of desperation, maybe fear of indecision, I started cruising the stacks at my library, hoping to find inspiration.  Actually I hoped I would find a book cover that gave me what I wanted, the perfect picture.  I would then say Yes!  This part of this book excites me and that part of that book compliments the first part and now I have what I need.  So far that has not happened.  I've since moved on to another strategy.

Yet my wanderings did put a book in my hands.  Colin Powell's book, "It Worked For Me," seemed just what I needed.  Maybe inspiration was what I was searching for.  In the first part of the book, Mr. Powell shares his 13 rules for his life.   Here are a few:
"It ain't as bad as you think.  It will look better in the morning."
"Get mad, then get over it."
"It can be done."
"Be careful what you choose.  You may get it."

Having read his 13 Rules and the reasons for them, I wrote down my own Rules To Live By.  This is what I came up with:
1. Endeavor to persevere:  yes, for those movie buffs, this is from Jerimiah Johnson. But it reminds me to never give up - another rule I had written down.
2. Self-control: with my temper it is a constant reminder to behave myself, think of others and to keep my mouth shut - or at least think about refraining from spouting off.
3. Believe in yourself : I've told this to my kids so many times, I actually believe it now!
4. I've been thinking ... or Let's sleep on it:  My husand and I have started many conversations with, "I've been thinking ..."  which ususally gets the response of, "ut-oh." But allowing our ideas to grow and flourish is healthy and good.
5. Faith, Family, Friends: my philosophy is: Keep them in order; keep them together; Keep them close!
6. Laughter is the best medicine: my family and I love to  laugh - we are extremely good at it and we just keep getting better and better as time goes by.
7. You can do it! or Never Give Up, or If at first you don't succeed, try, try again:  I used to spout that to my kids every chance I could, "we Larsons are not quitters! " And now, all these years later, my kids tell me, "Mom, you can't quit being a writer.  We Larson are not quitters!"  I actually like being reminded of that.  Makes me stronger somehow.
8. Toughen Up Buttercup! or Suck it up, Buttercup: As a writer, I need to be thick skinned or I won't last in this business.  Rejections can feel like a stab to the heart, but I re-evaluate the comments made and move on. 
9. Cry babies don't get their way in this house: Whining does nothing productive.  I wouldnt allow my kids to get away with it and I don't accept it as a solution for myself either.  This is one of those rules I wish more parents who put in their rule book.
10. Forgiveness heals:  Once I forgive, I feel better and I can move on, be productive once again.  Some wounds run deep, but that's when #5 comes into affect.  I can't always forgive on my own.  But the Man Upstairs can wipe away any hurt.  I just have to remember to use his special tools.

So what Rules do you have for your life?  Share a few with us.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Second Born Book, Girl of My Dreams, Gets Her Event!

Girl of My Dreams by Morgan Mandel
Children, commercials, news - It seems the first of anything get the most attention.

When I heard my mystery, Two Wrongs was accepted for publication, I was over the moon with joy. I'd finally achieved a goal I'd worked hard to get.

I set out to write another book, this time a romantic comedy, called Girl of My Dreams, and was also thrilled when that was accepted by the publishing company. Still, the second book took a backseat in the sense it wasn't my very first.

During a conversation with my mystery author friend, Austin S. Camacho, in the book room of a Love is Murder Mystery Conference, he convinced me that self-publication was worth the effort and expense. If I paid attention to what I wrote, then hired an editor and book designer,  I could get a quality book ready in  less time than the traditional route. Not only that, the cost was within my means. I'm grateful to him for that advice, since the older I've gotten, the more I don't feel like waiting. I've self-published Killer Career, Forever Young:Blessing or Curse and Her Handyman since our talk.

I digress. The purpose of this post is actually to mention my second born book, Girl of My Dreams, for which I received the rights back and got a brand new cover designed by Stephen Walker in the process, is taking center stage this Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS - Girl of My Dreams, my romantic comedy about the straitlaced assistant's madcap adventures in a reality show will be FREE for Kindle or download to PC on Feb. 8 through Feb 10. See the links below to click for your freebie. I'd love to get tons of downloads so I can offer my second born her day in the sun!

US/India Link:
UK Link:
DE Link:
FR Link:
ES Link:
IT  Link:
JP  Link:
BR Link:



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cue the Deer

It's one of those pciture perfect winter mornings. Big, fluffy snowflakes are falling against a steel grey sky. A blanket of white covers the ground. Tree branches and benches wear a layer of collected snow. And if you go outside, the world has that hushed stillness about it. Later, the church bells will peal through the neighborhood.

It's like that scene in "Funny Farm" when Chevy Chase and his wife are trying to make their little eccentric town look like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting so they can sell their house. At one point, they 'cue the deer' to run across the yard by the pond. In the end, they wind up so enraptured with what they've created, they decided not to sell and stay.

As authors, we have many opportunities to 'cue the deer'. If we need a snowy day...wa la...we have a snowy day. If we need a deer to make an appearance...bibbity boppity boo...there he is. It's actually kind of fun to wield that kind of power. As a writer, I can bring to life any kind of setting, characters, and situations that I want. Crazy isn't it?

And isn't it even more amazing when Mother Nature gives us something even more awe-inspring than we could ever create?

Until next time,

Happy Reading!