Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #4

I have to say, in a writerly way, it's been a fairly productive week here as we close out June.

I finally got around to updating my web-site. I've been needing to add review snippets from An Unexpected Blessing for ages now. It was also way past time move the covers and buy links for Blessing and A Christmas to Remember (you think?!) to the bookshelf page and make room for new covers. I added the cover, release date, blurb, an excerpt, and a link for The Vampire and the Vixen. And then I did something similar for This Feels Like Home, although I don't have a release date on that yet. Since the beginning, I've had my bio at the top of the home page on the site. I shifted that to its own page, so that when the site is opened, the first thing that pops up are the covers. I'm liking that much better. None of these are big changes, but enough to make things feel fresh and updated. Which is nice.

This week I found out that The Vampire and the Vixen will be offered free as part of the Kindle select program in August. Because of this, even though it's official release date with TWRP isn't until mid-October, it's already up and live at Amazon. Which is pretty cool. Those freebie days are really supposed to boost sales, so I'll be curious to see how that goes.

I also got the pre-galley files from my editor on Home. It is super exciting to be moving along on this project. Right now, the galleys are showing a copyright date of 2013, which means I might have two books out this year. How fun is that?

It also means I need to get my butt moving on another project so I have something for next year. And along those lines I am happy to report I did some actual writing this week! I wrote about 1,000 words on "One Great Night". (Basic premise: A twenty-something gal lacking confidence asks her brother's best friend to be her sex tutor. When I read the first chapter at a critique session earlier this year, it was met with much enthusiasm!) I know in the grand scheme of things that doesn't sound like much, but the fact that I got out my laptop and sat down and made progress of any kind was huge for me. It's the most new material I've written in probably almost a year. And I'm at that stage where ideas and thoughts on the story and circling my that's a very good thing.

Now that I have covers for both upcoming books, I need to get going on ordering promotional items, so that will be on the to-do list over the next couple of weeks.

So all in all, a successful week as a writer.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Paris Promotion by Margot Justes

With the recent promotion of A Hotel in Paris,  I would like to share a snippet with you. Minola’s journey of self-discovery. It is a love story that began with murder.

Chapter 1

The shrill wail echoed in the hallway, Minola Grey slammed the door to her hotel room and followed the sound of distress. She saw the maid dart out of a guest room in sheer panic.  Minola reached her in a few brisk strides and asked, "Yvonne, what's the matter?"  She didn't detect any sign of injury, just pure terror in her eyes.  This type of behavior was unlike Yvonne, who was always steadfast.  Nothing ever ruffled her.

"Mademoiselle Grey…body…blood…" she sobbed.

"Body?  Blood?  Whose body?  Yvonne, please…please sit down."  Minola led her to the plush oversized chair near the elevator.  "Tell me what happened," Minola pleaded.

"Lord Yardleigh.  In his room…dead…blood," Yvonne said, her voice shook, but the weeping now dwindled to a whimper.

"Yvonne, knock on Dr. LeBrun's door.  See if he's in.  I'll go to Lord Yardleigh's room."  Minola's voice quiet and subdued, she thought to offer comfort to the distraught maid. “Please call the front desk for help, and get Security up here, fast."

Lord Yardleigh's open door allowed Minola to walk in, and what she saw left no doubt in her mind.  Lord Yardleigh was dead.  The body splayed out on the floor did not diminish the quiet elegance of the room.  Minola’s stomach twisted in a knot, her muscles tightened and nausea rose in her throat.

She'd never seen a body, much less in this bloody state.  Think!  Don't touch anything.  She shook her head, as if to clear any lingering cobwebs.  Get hold of yourself. Where is the gun? I don't see a gun. Murder? Must be. He didn’t get up and dispose of the gun and then conveniently lay down and die. Not with that wound. A great fan of the mystery genre, Minola knew enough not to disturb anything in the room.  The crime scene needed to be preserved. 

Reluctantly, Minola looked at the body again and noted how impeccably dressed he’d been–crisp white linen shirt, gold cuff links, and an expensive watch still on his wrist–impeccable except for the bloody stain that had spread beyond the hole in the shirt and created a crimson river against the achromatic background.  To relieve her queasiness, Minola swiftly glanced at the rest of the room.  As an artist she focused on the de rigueur hotel furniture, then on the few contemporary canvases displayed on the walls. These were not hotel issue, and were good.

The colors and textures of the paintings strangely complimented the hues of the grim, yet powerful, scene before her. Contemplating the pieces on the wall gave Minola a much needed reprieve from the ghastly outline on the floor.  Her hands clenched as she began to shake.

Nothing appeared to have been disturbed in the quiet, serene room.  The curtains were open, and the sun filtered through to cast a warm dappled glow over the body.  Minola shuddered, turned and without touching anything walked out of the room.

Back in the hallway, she patiently waited for what she knew would be a barrage of questions by hotel security and the Police Nationale de Paris.

This hotel is my home.  What happened here?  To give her an essential, although temporary, reprieve from the tragedy, she focused on yesterday’s idyllic day sitting in a café, in a cozy secluded booth across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens. Through the gilded wrought-iron fence she gleaned the contemplative and everyday life of the Parisiens unlike today, where the horror of sudden death intruded on her contemplation.

As she waited for the police, she relived the relaxed pace inside the gardens, so peaceful and calm.  She remembered the old couple who sat on a bench and held hands, a woman watched her child play, and on another bench, two women sat in comfort and rolled the prams containing their precious cargoes.  Their hypnotic movements, back and forth, back and forth, helped lull Minola into utter contentment as the mesmerizing and soothing minutes flicked by. 

The image of Lord Yardleigh's body intruded on her thoughts.  So peaceful in repose…so still, so sanguine, except for the blood.  Go back to the gardens.   Go back to the gardens.

"Mademoiselle Grey…pardon, Mademoiselle," she faintly heard a voice call her back to reality.                 Art drew her to Paris, so well represented–not confined to museums, but present everywhere, and always in the gardens which peppered this amazing city.

 "Mademoiselle Grey…Mademoiselle, s'il vous plait."  She heard that voice again, faint but urgent calling her.  Her serenity shattered, she faced the certainty of a gruesome murder in her quiet hotel.  Slowly Minola opened her eyes, and noticed the hallway was filled with police and crime investigators.  She recognized what looked like a solitary pathologist carrying a black medical bag.  The police did not block his entry.

"Mademoiselle Grey, are you all right?  I need to ask you a few questions."  The gentle yet insistent voice persisted through her hazy reality.  "Yes, of course.  I am sorry," she replied, and again clenched her hands to keep them from shaking.

"I'm  Luc Dubois with the Police Nationale.  Mademoiselle, we already have a statement from the maid.  She said that you went into the room.  Did you touch the body?" he inquired politely.

"I didn't touch anything…no…nothing at all.  I went in to see if I could help.  Yvonne had said blood…I just wanted to make sure…  I…"

He nodded his head and continued, "Did you notice anything unusual?  Did you see or hear anyone come up to this floor while you were waiting for the police?"

"The room appeared undisturbed.  So clean.  I didn't see or hear anyone, but I closed my eyes because I needed to escape. I am sorry, but I believe I drifted off a bit.  Maybe Yvonne heard or saw something.  Not a robbery…"  Her calm voice belied her distress. She looked down and tried to still her quaking hands.

"Yes, I know.  I had a difficult time bringing you out of your reverie, Mademoiselle.  The maid had gone downstairs to summon help; she could not get the phone to work.  I believe she was too agitated.  Pourquoi?  Why are you so certain that it was not a robbery?" he queried.

"You must have noticed he wore a gold Rolex.  There are also several very worthwhile contemporary art pieces on the wall.  A thief would have certainly stolen these items.  No self-respecting crook would leave a Rolex on his victim's wrist.” She said. “The Luxembourg Gardens are a far more delightful escape than seeing a murder victim." Her voice was wistful as she looked up, her eyes shimmered, but she refused to let the tears fall.

"There I would agree with you, Mademoiselle.  I am sorry you were a witness to such a tragedy."

"Merci.  Thank you for understanding."   

Minola closed her eyes and saw the sun filter through the pool of blood–a macabre scene, one that would stay with her forever.  She blinked twice and looked down at her watch. "Pardon, but I am already late for class.  May I please go, unless you still need me for any reason?  I will be back this afternoon.  I can leave my passport at the front desk."  As an afterthought she added, "If necessary."

"That will not be required, Mademoiselle.  You may go.  I understand that this is difficult for you.  There will be more questions for you this afternoon; please do make yourself available.  Merci, Mademoiselle."  He moved on to speak with another policeman.

* * *

Yves Lanier, of the Police Nationale, was a man with a mission.  His dingy grey office with matching furniture was so littered with papers and books that he couldn't find the phone on his desk.  It was here somewhere, he knew.  Damn it, I used it yesterday.  He briefly stared at the mess…then, with quiet efficiency, slid everything off his desk to the floor, and heard the ping of the phone hit the ground.  He bent down, picked it up, and dialed a London number he knew well.  A quiet voice answered: "Peter Riley."

"Bonjour, Peter.  How are you, my friend?"

"I know that tone, Yves.  Interpol at your service.  What's going on?"

"Peter, Yardleigh was murdered sometime late last night or early this morning.  I think your investigation into money laundering just veered off track."

The silence at the other end was palpable.  "What the hell happened?  He was cooperating.  What do you have?"

"We have nothing, mon ami.  He was shot once in the chest with a small-caliber gun.  No exit wound–the lab's still working on that.  Purely as an observation, it looks like he knew his killer.  No surprise or fear…there's nothing reflected on his face.  Nothing stolen.  Everything, as you English say, was neat and tidy, save for the corpse on the floor.  We secured the crime scene and did all the lovely things we are supposed to do.  The bastard was not nice enough to leave any clues."  Lanier spoke with the confidence of a seasoned cop.

"Let me talk to Clivers, my superior.  Murder is out of our jurisdiction.  I suppose that leaves Scotland Yard in the game."
       "Peter, this started in England."

"Don't I know it.  I will call you back."  Lanier heard the phone click in his ear.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Please Welcome Mystery Author, Michael Bigham, Who Offers Great Revision Tips

About Michael Bigham: Raised in the mill town of Prineville in Central Oregon beneath blue skies and rimrocks, Michael Bigham attended the University of Oregon and during his collegiate summers, fought range fires on the Oregon high desert for the Bureau of Land Management. He worked as a police officer with the Port of Portland and after leaving police work, obtained an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Michael lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter. Harkness is his first novel.

And Now, Michael Bigham Shares Tips About Revision

 Revision By Michael Bigham

“Anyone can write—and almost everyone you meet these days is writing. However, only the writers know how to rewrite. It is this ability alone that turns the amateur into a pro.”
William C. Knott—The Craft of Fiction

To succeed as writers, we must master the craft of revision. Not an easy task, as creation and revision require two completely different frames of mind. To create well, we must let our creative self run free and lock our internal editors in a little room, not letting them know what we’re doing. If not, they’ll stifle our process or block us. More than once I’ve rewritten a scene again and again, never being satisfied, never moving on because my internal editor knows I should do it better. So now, I lock her away until my creative self has expressed herself. When I revise, I unlock the door and let my editor out. She hacks and slashes, criticizes my word choice and works to smooth out my narrative.

Everyone’s revision process is different. In my process, I hammer out a scene or maybe half a scene and let the piece perk over night. I go back the next day and add bits as necessary. At this point, I’m still more in my creative mode than a critical one. For example, here’s a first pass of the end of my opening scene from my novel-in-progress, Thunderhead:

“No disgruntled employees?”

He laughed. “Disgruntled enough to jump in a log grinder? I think not.” He waved his hand as if dismissing the idea. “But we did fire a couple of folks last week. My lead foreman, Karl Hanke, can tell you who.” That was as far as I was going to get with Dutch, so I thanked him and went in search of a telephone to call the State Police Crime Lab.

Most people write too much in the first draft and have to cut back, but I’m the opposite. I write too little and need to fill in the holes. I realized the scene ended too abruptly. It needed more. Here’s what I added to flesh out the scene.

After calling the lab and letting the local telephone operator know what was going on and where I’d be, I sat down on the floor of the grinder room, legs out straight and my back against the wall. The room was a decent-sized space, 20 by 20, with rough wood plank floors and a ten-foot hole cut out in the middle, the opening for the grinder.  An iron track on the ceiling ran from the hole into the mill proper. The logs for the grinder would come in through there held by some affair that looked like a giant hook looking like something you’d see in a penny arcade. Had that been involved in the death? I pulled a spiral notebook out of my shirt pocket and wrote brief summaries of my interviews with Ollie Binam and Dutch, then I added a to-do: Have the crime lab check the hook. I pondered a bit and made two more to-dos: Interview – Merle Cameron and Brightside Office – who’s missing? The notebook only had two pages left. I’d have to start a new one for this case and copy what I had written over to it.

By the time Jackson from the Crime Lab arrived, my headache had kicked into second gear. I’d need coffee soon to soothe the pain. After Jackson photographed the body and worked up a rough crime scene diagram, we packed up what was left of a human being in four large buckets and toted them to my pickup. Jackson promised me his preliminary report in three days. I wasn’t thrilled, but it would have to do.

When Doc saw the buckets in the back of my pickup, he, being a Nazi death camp survivor, didn’t seem shocked, merely just shook his head with sadness.  “Let’s get the mournful soul inside. Downstairs in the basement.” There was just enough room for all the buckets in a large fridge once he’d pulled out the beef he’d been storing there.  “Good enough,” he said.

“Good enough.” But it wasn’t.

After finishing the entire first draft of my piece, I craft my first revision. Before starting, I reread the whole piece and review the notes from my writer’s group. I retype the whole piece again, not only fixing the typos and grammatical errors, but also rewriting entire scenes or chapters from scratch if needed. Be bold when you revise, be fearless. To succeed as a writer, you must be willing to toss out your best prose if it doesn’t fit with the narrative. In the first draft of Thunderhead, a visitor surprises Sheriff Harkness:

I opened my mouth to ask a question of Solus, but someone interrupted me.

“Matthew Harkness, you son of a biscuit eater.”

I turned around “Why as I live and breathe, Prudence Knight, you’re a sight for sore eyes. Put on a little weight haven’t you?” She looked like a garden snake that had swallowed a grapefruit.

She wound up and slapped me. “You bastard. Thanks to you, I’m knocked up.” Her eyes spit venom.

“Mr. Swift, let me introduce Prudence, the mother of my unborn child.”

“Ma’am.” He touched the brim of his hat, but didn’t bother to hide his grin. “I must bid adieu, this is where I came in.” Swift strode off, looking more than a little amused.
“Knocked up? It was supposed to be a roadhouse rebound weekend with no strings attached.”

“You may have thought that, but things change.”

I love this interaction, but I realize it doesn’t fit with my narrative unless I’m willing to have Prudence a player in the mystery. Alas, I have too much going on as it is. I plan on cutting out Prudence here and maybe introduce her after the climax as a set up for the next book.

After the first revision, I set the piece aside for a couple of weeks and then revise again with my internal editor fully engaged. Now, I’m intent on fixing technical errors. This process may take a couple of passes and I usually cajole one of my writing buddies to read the succeeding drafts. We can become blind to our own errors. Fresh eyes help. Finally, the draft is ready to ship off to a professional copy editor. There’s more revising to be done, but at this point it’s restricted to copy editing and proofreading.

Creation and revision exercise different writing muscles. When you create, lock away your internal editor or you may end up blocked. If you’re blocked, try freewriting; prepare a character sketch or work up a bit of dialogue. Get those writing juices flowing. When you revise, be daring, be willing to make wholesale changes. Don’t assume that you can revise by yourself. New eyes are important. Join a writer’s group and when your draft is finished, invest in a professional copy editor. It’s money well spent.

Experiment, explore and find a writing process that works well for you. Julian May once wrote that she outlines extensively and then writes just one draft before sending her novel off to her editor. More power to her, but I could never do that. Remember that everyone’s process is different. Good luck.

Harkness: A High Desert Mystery
by Michael Bigham
About Michael Bigham's Release: In this thrilling debut novel, by Michael Bigham, Sheriff Matt Harkness faces a perilous challenge. He isn’t your typical Western sheriff. Cowboy boots make his arches ache, he’s phobic of horses, he drives an old battered pickup and his faithful companion is a wiener dog named Addison. Set on the Oregon High Desert in 1952, life in the small town of Barnesville has been easy-going for Matthew until a star-crossed teen-age couple disappears. Harkness is the keeper of secrets in his little town and to solve the crime, he must decide which secrets to expose. One secret involves Judge Barnes, the county’s most powerful man. But Harkness has a secret of his own: he’s in love with the Judge’s wife. How much is Harkness willing to risk to catch a murderer?

Buy Links:

Please leave a comment to welcome Michael Bigham to Acme Authors Link.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Paris Promotion by Margot Justes

For the first time, A Hotel in Paris was offered free on Kindle last weekend. I’ve never been sure if the free promotion works in building name recognition, or even increased long term readership. Do the people that download the book, actually even read it?

I’ve heard pros and cons about that specific promotion, but I took a chance and tried it.  Can’t say if it was or wasn’t successful, it’s too soon to tell. 
The only way to gain readers is to increase visibility, and since I’m now an indie author, it’s up to me to figure out how to do it. The Kindle free promotion was a way to try it.

One promotion idea was to post quotes from the book on Twitter and Facebook. Melissa from Author RX asked if I wanted to do it. I readily agreed. She framed the quotes to go along with my heroine who is an artist.  I enjoyed getting the quotes, and had fun relating to them. I think that was a successful strategy.

My little niche market is growing, and I’ve been told by a few people that they love my art world, and they have learned a bit about art. That pleased me more than anything.  I tell anyone who will listen, that art is everywhere we turn, and that it is highly therapeutic.

If nothing else, after the free Kindle promotion, I’m convinced that e-books are growing in popularity at an incredible pace, and that is where my efforts are going to be.

I think price is important too. A reader is more likely  to give a midlist author a chance if the book is priced reasonably, let’s say a dollar, two, or three. Other than formatting costs, there is no additional expense once the book is out; that was a no brainer.

I’m working on additional promotional ideas, and once they’re in place I’ll share them.
So far the process has been interesting, and fun. I love it.

I can tell you now that I’m retired, loving what you do takes the ‘work’ out of it. 

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wearing the Marketing Hat! by DL Larson

Marketing my books has become easier yet more difficult over the years. Easier because the internet has simplified the process of promoting ones work.  Harder simply because the market is flooded with new authors and new titles to choose from.  Setting up a marketing plan is crucial and I intend to navigate as best I can through this never-ending process. I would much rather just sit and write and not bother with the promotional aspects of writing.  BUT that does not make good marketing sense.  So I switch from my writer's hat to my marketing one.

This Saturday I will have my first book signing at the Book Mouse in Ottawa, IL, from 11:00 - 1:00 p.m. If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by.  The owner wants me to bring my other books too.  How can I say no to that?  Her generosity has made marketing my books a bit easier. 

I haven't stop at just a book signing.  I have sought book reviews and have sent one hardcopy out to be read and reviewed.  I've also sent a few via the internet.  As time goes by I will continue to stretch my wings and search for more places to ask for a review.  If you know of a place that does reviews, share with us.  Everyone can benefit from more reviews.

Next up is a blog tour that I scheduled through Goddess Fish.  This will be a 12-14 week tour.  I'll let you know how that goes once it is under way.  I have sent several excerpts of my book for them to use as teasers.  I'm looking forward to meeting new folks and in the process making more contacts as well. 

The other thing I've done with considerable help from many, namely Morgan Mandel, Steve Walker and my daughter Amber Kenney, is to convert my backlist to ebook form.  I mentioned this before, but thanking folks a few times is never a bad thing!  Thank you Morgan, Steve and Amber for all your help. 

Updating my website is on the list of things to do and I hope to soon have that looking good.  If you're a writer you know full well how tasking marketing can become.  I run as long as I can, then sit down and rest after awhile.  It's a lot like cleaning house, raising kids or pulling weeds ... the work is never done.  But somehow through the whole process is becomes very satisfying.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #3

I'm heading off in a few moments to spend the day catching up with the Dads, but I thought I'd take a minute to do my weekly update. And that's all it will take, is one minute, since there's not much going on.

This week I sent of the second round of edits on This Feels Like Home to my editor. She received them and said she'd format and then send them back to me for one last look before sending them off to the line editors. She thought including the reader letter and blurbs at the end wouldn't be a problem, so that's good.

Between my initial version and the blurb committee, we did come up with a fabulous blurb for the book:

Can a danger-addicted cowboy and a safety-conscious urbanite ever see eye-to-eye?

When Chicago native Amber Winfield visits her aunt in Texas, she’s happy to absorb some local color—but dating a bull rider? That’s more cowboy than she’s prepared to go. As an accessibility consultant, she knows too well the hazards of extreme sports. Just one night with Jake Hawkins, though, and she’s captivated by the caring man underneath the cowboy swagger. But she could never fall for a man so intent on chasing danger…could she?

Jake’s got one goal—earn enough points to ride on the pro circuit—and he won’t let anyone stand in his way. Especially not a sophisticated city lady who thinks bull riding is crazy. Women like Amber are the reason he’s perfected the art of loving and leaving. So why can’t he get her off of his mind…or out of his heart?

I'm hoping a cover appears soon, because then I can get started on ordering some promotional items.

And yep...that's it for the week...

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Romance in Paris Redux by Margot Justes

This weekend A Hotel in Paris is free on Kindle. I 'd like to share a blog I wrote when the book first came out.

It is spring at least according to the calendar. It is cold, damp and dreary, the flowers are barely sprouting, grass is still brown and potential for snow not an impossibility. You keep waiting for it to improve. And it will. Eventually.

Ah, that is because you’re home. It’s the everyday expectation in our existence. We perform our daily rituals.

So instead, let’s hop on a plane and go for a ride, a change of scenery if you will.
Let’s imagine we’re in Paris in the spring, walking along in the Luxembourg Gardens. The gentle mist falling on the tree branches leaving a crystal reflection, a heavenly clean earthy smell permeates your nostrils as you take a deep breath.

Walk along the gravel path and hear it crunch beneath your feet. Listen to the birds chirp as they spread their wings and take flight only to land perched on a shoulder of a statue.

Watch the grass as it seems to become greener right in front of your eyes, the rain still falling and sinking deep into the earth.

Leave the peace of the gardens and walk out through the wrought iron fence. Go across the street while the gentle rain is still falling, sit down in the café, order your favorite brew and observe the wet wrought iron glisten in the golden sun peeking through the clouds.

While in Paris, I have done exactly that many times and have found that a gentle rain, overcast sky can be as romantic as anything else-whether you’re alone strolling and day dreaming or walking with someone special by your side. It’s what you make of any given moment.

Truly, in Paris every little thing that you take for granted at home becomes incredibly special. Every moment counts and is treasured. There is something magical about the city.

Maybe that tells us we should not take anything for granted when at home but seize every moment. I’ll leave that up to you.

Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
A Hotel in Bath

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Can a Writer Be Cloned? Redux by DL Larson

The blogs lately have given folks several glimpses of the many hats we authors wear. It's a lot like playing dress-up, a past-time my granddaughters love to play. They even change their names when they're playing.

"Call me, Cammie," my little Alex said one day.

"Okay," I said. "Call me, DL."

She thought that was a very funny name. I suppose it is, but it's my writer's name and as others have mentioned earlier it's important to keep one's name in the public's mind. DL Larson missed the Authorfest everyone is talking about. She's very sad, down in the mouth at hearing how wondeful the day was. But Deb Larson had a commitment that she agreed to months ago and so DL Larson didn't sign up for the Authorfest.

As an author, we have to find that fine balance between our craft - writing, our livelihood - working, and our hearth - the family, friends, church and those dozens of volunteer organizations we agree to help with. It's never easy and sometimes - like DL Larson missing out on a big fat opportunity like Authorfest, the choices we make leave us feeling unfulfilled in all areas of our life.

That's when we have to let go and simply be. We can't always be where we want to be and we can't please everyone, even ourselves sometimes.

So once I accepted that it was okay to miss out I could move on, excited about the next opportunity to exploit, I mean promote my name, DL Larson, my books, awesome, fascinating and rivetting historical family sagas. I remembered there is always a next time. Like today. I've gotten to mention my name, DL Larson, several times. Okay, six times. I feel better already.

Promoting my books is hard work, but rewarding too. Just when I think I'm drowning in my own ineptness as a marketer, someone will come up to me and say, "I loved your first book. I can't wait to read your next one." And I'm glad I'm not a clone. The real DL Larson needed to hear that!

So now I can honestly say I'm thrilled so many found the Authorfest to be a rewarding day. I'm happy for them and no longer frustrated with my inability to be at two places at once. I've accepted my limitations. Still, it would have been nice if DL Larson could have attended. Nicer still if someone had asked her about one of her books. And it would have been a stellar day to make some sales. Maybe cloning would work ...

Nah! There's only room for one DL Larson in this world.

Till next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Can Make an Impact Redux

Here's one of my posts, this one from 5/9/12, but it still holds true - 

When you least expect it, you can make an impact. Last week, when I stood on my back stoop, I noticed a June bug. They always seem to appear in the wrong month, but I digress.

The stoop was wet. The bug lay on its backside, with its tiny legs flailing. I could have ignored its plight. Maybe it would have righted itself. Maybe it wouldn't have. It might have been just another bug trying to have a life and not succeeding.

I thought for a moment, then went back inside. I tore off a small piece of typing paper and went back out. Ever so gently I placed the paper under the bug, taking care not to get any of its tiny legs squashed in the process. Then I slowly lifted the bug up, turned the paper over and placed it on top of a nearby piece of vegetation. It didn't move. Well, I'd done all I could to help its survival, so I went back into the house.

Half an hour later, when I went out to walk my dog, Rascal, I looked for the bug to see if it was still there. It was gone!

The June bug is only one example, but writing is another. Through your efforts, you have the awesome power to transport readers from their everyday world, with its cares and troubles, into another place where they can live for a while.

Yes, you can make an impact!

Find Excerpts and  Buy Links to Morgan Mandel's Books at

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #2

Today I'm ready to attach and hit the send button for the second round of edits for This Feels Like Home. This past week I did my backwards (starting at the last page and going forward) read-through to look for minor errors. I found a few phrases that needed to be fixed, but nothing too major. I also did some double-checking of general facts to make sure I wasn't making mistakes about the weather in Texas in the Fall or making sure I had my characters at the right age so when they talk about the past I'm not making them too young. Sometimes things like these get lost in the momentum of writing and it's easy to forget to go back and double-check.

Before I hit send, I'm going to write up a 'letter to the reader' for the front of the book. This particular editor didn't ask for one, but all of my other print books have one, including the two that began this particular series, so I'd like to be consistent. In staying with that idea, I'd also like to come up with a short series blurb for the end of the book. My former editor did a wonderful one to tie This Can't Be Love to This Time for Always, and again, for consistency, and to encourage readers to read the entire three-book series, I'd like to have this.

Looking ahead, I'm not sure what writing project I'll tackle this coming week. But I'm sure something will come to me!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Retirement by Margot Justes

I retired yesterday, and for the first time in twenty nine years, I feel a sense of freedom and elation.
Today, I went to breakfast, and to an outdoor art fair, played in the garden, and generally relaxed.

There was no pressure to write, no pressure to get my errands done, and then write, no pressure to make sure everything was done before Monday, and the beginning of the work week.

There was no pressure whatsoever. No agenda, just pure freedom. It is indeed a strange and marvelous feeling. I wanted to enjoy it. The demand of the writing world will intrude, but I welcome that intrusion. I welcome the characters telling me where they want to go. I welcome that creative world with open arms. I'm ready to be a full time writer.

The desire to sit in my office and pound on the keyboard is there, now more than ever, but it is at my leisure, and most assuredly at my pleasure. The time is mine, let's see what I do with it.

I welcome the change and challenge.


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

Friday, June 7, 2013

Including My Backlist! by DL Larson

Thanks to some very talented people, Morgan Mandel, Steve Walker and my daughter Amber Kenney, I am nearly ready for the e-book world of publishing!

This is my new book cover for my first book, Memories Trail, Part One.  It is a love story/war story set in the midst of the War of 1812.  If you enjoy history and a tight plot of family strife and commitment, perhaps you'll enjoy this.

The blurb:
'Three people united in passion and purpose are torn apart by the devastation of war.  Dominion over the wilderness beyond the frontier threatens all they believe in.'

Part One is now available on Smashwords - I hope! I'm still struggling with some epubcheck issues that are worse than gremlins.
Any advice, I would love to hear them.  I've gone over all their suggestions and have 2 itty bitty issues that will not resolve themselves.  So I'm afraid my book may be in limbo a bit longer for those with an Apple apparatus.

Here is Memories Trail, Part Two, the conclusion of the love story/war story with Will and Elizabeth and their Shawnee friend, Tecumseh.  Tecumseh was a real person in the War of 1812.  His goal was to have a united Indian Nation.  He was a prophet and predicted many, many things that came true - one of them being an earthquake in what we consider the midwest. 

If you follow this address: it will take you to my books.  I've priced them at $2.99 each.  I'd love to hear advice on that as well.  I'm not ready to give my work away for free, but you can read 20% free to see if you would like to purchase it.  I felt that was a good compromise.

My second Book, Promises To Keep, will soon be available in ebook too.  It's a work in progress!

My new book, Promises My Love, is available in ebook at Amazon.\c%2Cn%3A283155&ie=UTF8&qid=1370616029&keyword=Promises+My+Love%2C   I sure hope I did that right - or everyone will know how enept I am with technology!

So tell me, how are you fairing in the ebook world?  Are you selling more? Enjoying being responsible for your own fate? 

Share with us. 

Til next time ~
DL Larson

Monday, June 3, 2013

Zombie book interview & giveaway!

Happy Monday! I just saw there is a new short interview with me up at My Book Addiction  and.....

* Enter to win a galley copy (yes, groan, mistakes and all!) of GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie - contest ends June 8. See Book Addiction link above.

* See more details at website for GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #1

So I'm jumping the gun a little bit since it's technically not summer vacation yet. I still have a half day of school tomorrow and a week of faculty meetings, but (despite the icky chilly weather) it feels like summer, so I'm going to dive in!

I think I'm off to a good start on my summer writing routine. And my goal to actually do some writing. Something that's been sadly neglected in recent months.

Friday I got my second round of edits on This Feels Like Home from my editor. In her words, the manuscript is in good shape. There were just a few minor places where some re-wording needs to be done, and then it's just a matter of nit-picking and looking for all of those pesky typos, missing commas, etc. So yesterday, I got out my trusting writing tools (my lap top and memory stick) and headed out to the front porch. I worked my way through the minor changes and got about two-thirds of a complete read-through done. Today I'll finish up the read-through. This coming week I'll plan on going through the mss backwards, which makes it easier to spot errors since I'm not as caught up in the flow of the story.

It felt good to have my writing 'shoes' back on again, and even better to be working on steps to get this story closer to publication, as this one has been in the works for a long time.

Even better, I had some ideas flitting through my head for another story I've worked on here and there. For me, that was pretty exciting. It means I haven't totally lost the drive to write, it's just been hidden while I've been busy with other life things.

When I was at the library yesterday signing up for their summer reading program, I said that I was a local author and asked if I could donate one of my books to the prize cart. The woman was so excited to have the book. She had me autograph it and said she was going to pass it along to the readers' advisory committee as a recommendation for circulation rather than a summer prize. Now why didn't I do this sooner? If they accept it, I'll take over copies of my other books as well.

All in all, like I said, I think this is a good start for the summer!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Just a Thought by Margot Justes

How often do we take the time to just whisper thank you to one in particular. Just a whispered thank you. How often do we count our blessings? How often do we take the time to just relax?  I think we should, on a daily basis. If we did that, we’d see how lucky we are, there are always others that are worse off.

We get on with our daily lives, but most of us are blessed, sure enough we have problems, issues at work, with friends, all the daily stuff that I call drudge stuff, but it is in fact life.

With age comes wisdom, or at least that is what everyone says. Wisdom to take a breath and say thanks, wisdom to know the difference between what is important, and what is superfluous.

I’ve always had the philosophy that you should do what you can now, tomorrow is not guaranteed. Don’t wait to call family and friends. Don’t wait to do what makes you happy; take that road trip, read that book, visit that family member or friend.  Stay physically connected to the people important in your life, and don’t let minor disagreements destroy those human connections.

We’re so hooked on those electronic connections that we lose sight of what matters. You go to lunch with friends, sit down and start texting.  Wasn’t it the idea to go to lunch with friends-sans the electronic equipage-is it really that important to answer that text? Don’t we get a break, maybe more to the point do we want that break. I do. Am I missing something, or is it just the age difference. You know, the with age comes wisdom adage.

Last week, I was walking out of Macy’s and a young thing bumped into me at the door, she didn’t even know I was there, didn’t look up, just plowed ahead. She was busy texting, and what was more telling, she didn’t even apologize. Must be the age thing.

On that note, take a breath, and be thankful for what you have, instead of what you wish you had.

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