Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blessing or Curse Excerpt

I've finished final edits of the first Short Story in the Blessing or Curse Anthology.

It's called Who'll Mend This Broken Man. The right corner of the cover to the left features the couple in this story.

This Short Story can be purchased separately, with its own cover, if readers don't wish to read them all. I don't have access to that cover until the book comes out, since it was designed through Amazon Cover Creator. This one is set to be released, but I'm holding out until the other Short Stories are ready. Target Release: Beginning of August.

Here's an excerpt from that story for now, while I work on finishing the rest of the stories:

Ah, the wonderful love they’d shared. Why must it end this way?
“Diego, eat,” Consuela Morales said, holding out a spoonful of puree to her shrunken, wheelchair-bound husband. His dry parched lips remained obstinately shut, his gray eyebrows furrowed. He wanted to die and she didn’t blame him. God help her, sometimes she wanted him dead too. Till death do us part seemed a long time to live with half a man.
Placing the spoon into the jar with a clunk, Consuela gazed morosely at her husband. Mamacita, God rest her soul, had warned her not to marry a man twenty years older, but the ripe, chestnut-haired Consuela had paid no heed, choosing passion over common sense.
Diego of the raised eyebrows, straight black hair and cocky mannerisms had fevered her young blood, making her come alive as no other man could.
Though it had been almost twenty-five years, she still remembered the exact moment Diego strode into the basement of her friend Isabella’s brownstone. As their eyes met, her heart raced beneath the confines of her ample breasts, almost drowning out the sounds of New Year’s Eve revelry.
Quickly averting her eyes, she whispered to Isabella, “Who is that guy?”
Isabella glanced at the new addition, and frowned in concentration.
“Oh, that’s got to be Alessandro’s cousin, Diego. He’s hot, if you go for father figures.”
 “My father never looked that good. That man steams. I need to cool off some.”
Consuela crossed to the bar and reached into the tiny refrigerator for a wine spritzer. When she turned, there he was, in front of her, almost in her face. She could barely breathe as she gazed at his magnificence.

Coming Very Soon to Amazon!!!

Morgan Mandel

Monday, July 29, 2013

Miniatures, Chicago and Zombie Book Monday

A winning combination I say! I found a great birdhouse - which in my world will become a dollhouse.

And the Darlings of Decay anthology I contributed to with 31 other authors is now free on Barnes and Noble. And.... days to go for GIRL Z: My Life as a Teenage Zombie to release!!!  Links for both books are on my website.

* And if you didn't see it, I have an essay, "Crime, Chicago and the Undead" in the current Chicago issue of Mystery Reader's Journal. I reprinted it at the link.

Busy busy planning! And working hard on another idea, well several ideas!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

First Day in Cairns by Margot Justes


My first impression of Cairns was the arrival at the hotel in the early evening, after a long flight, a couple of layovers, and a delayed flight, I thought I’d be too tired to pay attention to anything except how quickly I could get to bed. Not so.

The hotel was a few steps away from the boardwalk, and faced the water. The tropical vegetation was magnificent, and the desk staff accommodating.  Once I made it to my room, the view took my breath away. The harbor on the left, the water and mountains straight ahead, and the lit boardwalk and gardens right below.

There was no way I was going to sleep, without first checking out the area. Shower and bed had to wait.

The walk on the boardwalk was mesmerizing, the boats along the harbor were dimly lit, the water shimmered in the dusk and there was a gentle breeze, you could hear the rustle of the fronds from the tall palm trees. I was in heaven.

I stopped at the hotel restaurant for a quick bite to eat, and had the best grilled calamari with eggplant chutney I have ever had. It was perfection, kudos to the Mondo Restaurant.  I went back one more time for that same dish, and would have done so again, but wanted to try other local places.

First evening in Cairns was memorable indeed, and once I made it to bed, I slept like the proverbial baby.

More next week.
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

Monday, July 22, 2013

New zombie book story, Crime, Death and the Undead in Chicago

  New story alert! "Crime, Death and the Undead in Chicago"

I really loved writing this story for the Summer 2013 Chicago Mysteries issue (Vol. 29, #2) of Mystery Readers Journal. What's more crime-related than a zombie invasion right?

* See the MRJ table of contents. You can read the story reprinted today at my GirlZombiAuthors blog.  If you're a Chicago fan, resident or former resident, there's some great stuff in this issue, so be sure to get a print or PDF copy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #7

Right now I am either heading toward or will have arrived in historical Le Claire, Iowa for a long weekend getaway with the hubby and our parents! It's an annual tradition, and one we look forward to each year.

With lots of chores to do to get ready for vacation at the end of the week, writing didn't take as much of a priority this past week.

I did do some writing on my WIP. I'm up to 17,600 words as of the writing of this post. So not great progress from last week, but at least I got something done. Ideas keep niggling at me, but when I find time to sit down at the computer, they seem to fly out of my head. Even when I write bits and pieces of them down on paper. I won't bring my laptop with me on vacation, but I will bring a notebook. Who knows, maybe inspiration will strike while we're visiting local museums and shopping. You never know!

I designed my bookmarks for This Feels Like Home, then realized I can't place the order yet as I don't have an ISBN. The sale at my printer is over at the end of next week, so I have my fingers crossed for a galley file coming soon. If not, I'll just have to wait until the next sale.

I sat down to order postcards for The Vampire and the Vixen and realized the sale on that site (different from the one which I order my bookmarks from) wasn't one of their best. So I guess I'll hold off on those, too. I'm hoping to get those done sooner rather than later so I have them for Vampire's free Kindle days at the end of August. Maybe I can just have some printed on glossy paper at a local office supply store instead of ordering on line.

Since I'm out of town, I also wrote and scheduled both of my blog posts for the weekend. This one for today and Monday's at Authors By Moonlight.

With three weeks of summer vacation left (Yep, that's time flies.) I'd really like to make more progress on "One Great Night". It was my goal to have it done this summer. We'll see if that happens or not.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Flying to the Land Down Under by Margot Justes

There is no easy way to get to Australia from the US, however it’s well worth the effort. I’m only sorry I waited this long for my first visit; the tiny part I saw was simply stunning.

I booked the flight from Los Angeles to Sydney to Cairns through a travel agent, and booked the leg from Chicago to LA myself. Just to give you an idea of the length of the trip, in my case it was a bit unusual. I had a 4 hour flight from Chicago to LA, 10 hour layover, plus a 3 hour delayed departure, then a 13 hour flight to Sydney, 3 hour layover in Sydney, and a 3 hour flight to Cairns. We’re talking serious time in travel.

I have to say I was impressed with the service provided by Virgin Airlines. They kept the passengers informed about the delay in LA, and were accommodating, and friendly. They brought back the service in customer service. I couldn’t ask for more-delays happen-it’s how the airlines handle it that is important.

Virgin handled it perfectly; as opposed to Alitalia, an airline I will never, never fly again. Never. I digress...even on the way back home from Sydney to LA, there was a 45 minute delay, they told us there was an immigration issue and a passenger couldn’t board, so they had to remove the luggage from the plane. Not difficult to do, just courteous, tell your passengers why they are sitting in the plane on the ground and not moving.

There are shorter layovers to be sure, mine just worked out to be long in the first leg of the flight. Keep in mind, if you miss the connection, there is no other flight that evening. I say evening because the flights I saw posted to Sydney all left in the evening. Mine was supposed to leave at 10pm LA time, instead we boarded at 1:00am. They actually served dinner at 2:30am. I skipped dinner, way too late or early to eat, but was up for breakfast.

Even without lengthy delays, the flight is long, but the visit was an incredible experience, and the people are friendly and welcoming. The no worries, mate so true. In Cairns, Dina and I even went to get some nibblies from Woolie’s- translation- snacks from Woolworth’s.

It was my retirement gift to myself, and I’m already looking for a reason to go back and see more.

More next week.

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

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Starting A Trail of Promotions, by DL Larson

This week I started my blog tour to spread the word about my new book.  I'm learning very quickly how daunting a virtual book tour is. But fun too as I meet new people.  My first stop is at Uplifting Reads.  The blog is interview style with an excerpt from Promises My Love.

I also received my first book review!  That can be found at Reader Views at
It is also posted on on my Author page, DL Larson, Promises My Love.  Paige Lovitt, reviewer, said,  'Promises My Love is a beautifully written novel ... not a light story, but defintely one that will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished.'

I had forgotten how busy an author becomes promoting a new release.  It takes away from writing time, but also gives me perspective on how important it is to get my book 'out there.' 

Please stop by and visit me while I'm on this tour.  I love hearing from fellow writers and friends.

Uplifting Reads: Meet DL Larson, author of 'Promises My Love'

Next week, July 22,  I will be visiting Straight From the Library Blog site.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Urban Hot Weather Tips Redux

I'm sharing here a post originally published on my personal blog, Double M's Take on Books, Blogs, Networking and Life, when I worked in Downtown Chicago. It shows ways to beat the heat in an urban environment, and these days in the Chicago area, it is very hot! I've noticed the same can be said for other areas of the U.S.

You may think that the Midwest is cool. Well, maybe compared to somewhere like Arizona it is. Still, in the Summer it can get mighty hot, especially this Summer.

From my many years of working in Chicago, specifically the Downtown Loop, I devised a few tips for keeping cool. These are not scientific, but they worked for me.

Maybe you’ll want to try one or two.

Shade – Not too many trees in Downtown Chicago, so I always looked for shade in whatever form I could find. When needs be, when waiting for a light to change, I’d even stand in the shade of a street light, another person, or a building.

Cut Throughs – When you work in a metropolitan area, there are various air conditioned buildings you can cut through, such as banks, drug stores, restaurants, or office buildings. A knowledge of their entrances and exits comes in handy. Sometimes you can not only cool off, but also save time and steps by using a cut through. If you can't cut through, you can always stop in a building for a few seconds and pretend to be looking for something, then cut out. At least you're cooled for a bit.

Time – Allow yourself extra time if you can. Rushing in the heat can make you hotter than ever.

Water – Bring a water bottle with, enough for you to chug when extra thirsty, but not so heavy you’ll wish you didn’t have to carry it. In my working days, I'd fill the bottle halfway up so it didn't weigh me down. When I got to the office, I refilled it for the trip home. While at the office, I drank water also to stay hydrated. Speaking of water, putting your hands under a faucet is another way to cool down at work where you really can’t be taking showers or baths, unless you work at a gym.

Clothing – Wear layers. I wore something light, but brought a sweater anyway, since I never knew what temperature the air conditioning on the commuter train or at work would be set at. Slinging a sweater over the shoulders or tying around the waist while walking is cooler than wearing one.

So, those are my tips for keeping cool. 

What are yours, urban or otherwise? Or, maybe you'd like to share something about a book you've written or read where hot weather or trying to keep cool plays a part. 

I've got a water bottle in
my red tote in this picture.

Find Morgan Mandel at:


Twitter: @MorganMandel

Monday, July 15, 2013

World War Z, Zombies & Max Brooks

Maybe you saw the movie, maybe not. Or read the book (and be warned: one has nothing to do with the other but the name).

Hear it from the source: I had the pleasure of talking with zombie books author Max Brooks and attended his lecture in Palatine, Ill. Great fun and a funny guy! I did a two-part story and interview. Read more at my GirlZombieAuthors blog.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #6

It's another beautiful day out, so this is going to be an 'in-a-nutshell' update.

This week I sent my editor the list of correction for the pre-galley of This Feels Like Home. By midday she had written back indicating the corrections had been addressed and she was sending the mss to production! Which is just very fun, since it puts us that much closer to publication.

I actually made it to a writers' meeting this past week, too. It's been way, way too long since I've been to my local RWA chapter meeting, and it was nice to get out and mingle with other writers. It was especially nice to catch up with my favorite writing buddy, Morgan Mandel!

I'm up to about 16,000 words on my WIP. At first, I was thinking it would be about a 20,000 word novella, but I'm thinking, based on what I have and what still needs to be written, it's going to be a bit longer with that. The good thing about a novella is it won't matter. I don't think I'll get up to 65,000, which is what I need for a full-length to go to print, but it's nice knowing I have room to write and explore my characters and story as much as I need to. Right now I feel like I have a lot of scenes, but really need to check the flow and make sure the story is actually moving forward and not too disconnected.

I had some definite muse moments this week where I scribbled notes in the dark in the middle of the night so I wouldn't forget what was spinning in my head come morning light. It's always nice to have that jumping off spot when I start writing for the day.

Still on my to-be-done list are those promotional items. I know my coupons and sale expiration dates are looming every closer, so I really need to get a move-on with that.

But for now, in my little corner of the writing world, that's that!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Being a Top Seller! by DL Larson

The frenzy of my book launch is a thing of the past.  I used my marketing tools in my writers kit ~ media news in local papers, purchased a few ads at my own expense, commented on Facebook so many times I felt I was harassing my friends and their friends and then their friends.  In other words, I promoted my book in several formats. 

I just checked the book store's website and was pleased and a little surprised 'Promises My Love' was the top seller for that week.  The store owner has not changed her list for July, so I don't know how things are going this week, but I plan to find out today when I visit the store.

What I find interesting is my book is competing with classics as well as new releases.  Here's the list of top sellers at the book store where I held my book launch:

1.  Promises My Love, by DL Larson - 2013 release
2. How to Read Literature Like a Professor, 2003 release
3. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, 1959 release
4. Promises To Keep, by DL Larson - 2006 release
5. Penance, by Dan O'Shea - 2013 release
6. Pocket Style Manuel
7. The House on Mango Street, by Cisneros, 1991 release
8. The Testing, by Joelle Charboneau, (YA) 2013 release
9. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fizgerald, 1926-2013 release
10. Bad Monkey, by Carl Hiassen, 2013 release

Every writer hopes and dreams their work will be remembered for years.  Only time will answer that.  But for now, promoting my new release was a good start.  My next adventure is a blog tour.  I've never done one, but hope it will be exciting.  And most likely, time consuming. 

My first stop will be at The Uplifting Reads on July 15.  Please stop by:

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Coming Soon
Blessing or Curse Anthology
Each time I visit the aunt's house, I can't help craving her sofa. It's a two-seat full length recliner, and seems exactly right for me. My own has three cushions. I always seem to need more room than the cushion I'm sitting on and wish it were wider. So, to tackle the situation, I wrote down her sofa's item number and searched online.

As luck would have it, Berkline, her sofa's manufacturer, is now out of business. If I look hard enough, I might find the model I want on clearance somewhere, but then I'd have problems with parts and other issues. Not a wise idea. So, my search begins anew.

This happens with other items as well. The ladies reading this can relate to such dire happenings as discontinued lipsticks or bras, and the travails over finding replacements.

What does this have to do with books?

Many of you have already guessed. No longer do books require a specific shelf life. Now, they can last as long as an author or publisher wishes. Many books discontinued by the original publishers are now being resurrected either by the same publishers or self-publishing authors with their rights back.

No longer is it necessary for the adjective, discontinued, to be applied to books. As far as couches, lipstick, or bras, that's another story.

Do you have a discontinued book that is alive again, or know of someone else's? Or, maybe you'd just like to mention one of your books that's self-published.

Excerpts and buy links for Morgan's
mysteries and romances are at

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Journal 2013 - Entry #5

The week before last I got the pre-Galley file on This Feels Like Home from my editor. TWRP goes on summer shut down for the July Fourth week, so she said there was no rush in getting it back to her. However, I figured last week was a good a week as any to tackle the read-through, so I did. I approached it with my 'read-it-from-the-back-forward' strategy, which works well to keep me out of the story and really focused on mistakes.

At this point, we're not looking for any major story changes, just minor edits in word usage, spelling, grammar, formatting, etc. Even though the mss has been gone over several times by both of us, I still managed to find lots of corrections.

Most of them were indeed formatting errors. A couple pages had a blank line in the middle. There were several places where italics were needed and weren't showing up. I found one miss-spelling on the brag page and one usage/spelling error: 'where' instead of 'were'. The first chapter ends with only one word on the final page, which is not only a waste of printing space, but kind of makes it really awkward to get the full impact of the hook, so I'm hoping we can find a way to combine a couple of paragraphs in the first chapter just to get that one word attached to the rest of the chapter. And then there were just a few inconsistencies when using the word 'national' to refer to Jake's rodeo dreams. Sometimes the word was used with a capital 'N' and sometimes a lowercase 'n'. So we need to decide which way we want to go. I also want to remove a set of lines from the teaser excerpt at the beginning of the book.

Nothing hugely major or complicated, but enough that when I typed out the list of errors/corrections, it filled a page and a half. But this is the time to catch all those sorts of things. It's highly annoying when I'm reading one of my own books and find errors...but it happens!

In addition to editing, I also made more headway on my WIP. I'm up to a little over 12,000 on "One Great Night" and plan on working on at least one major scene today. (The idea has been spinning in my head all night.) At this point, I'm thinking the story will be about a 20,000 word novella, so I'm a bit more than halfway done. That said, I never know what direction my characters are going to take me sometimes, so it may turn out to be a bit longer. Only time will tell.

I still haven't dug into anything promotion-wise for The Vampire and the Vixen or This Feels Like Home, but I know what needs to be done, so it's just a matter of doing it...before all of my coupons for bookmarks and postcards expire!

All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with my week. And now I'm going to sign off and get to work on that scene!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Signing by Margot Justes

Book signings are not easy, at least for me, and I haven’t done one in a long time, but with the release of A Hotel in Bath, when an opportunity presented itself,  I took it.

Book World in Galena, (300 Main St. Galena, IL) made me feel comfortable from the time I walked in. Galena is a tourist attraction, antiques and little boutiques abound, and the book store does quite well. It’s a delight to watch people come in and browse, look through the books and buy.

I confirmed to myself that for the most part, in fiction specifically in the romance genre, covers do sell books, as do back pages, and the first paragraph. That goes for any book store, chains and indies.

I also noticed the difference in the buying selection, Barnes & Noble customers gravitate to the best sellers, the most advertised and familiar. Not so at Book World, yes, the Patterson books were there, and other best sellers, that is where the money is for the store, but people actually looked at the unfamiliar names and titles as well.

There was a knitting club meeting at a restaurant down the street, and one member walked in, we chatted a bit, she liked the premise of the stories, and she bought both

A Hotel in Paris and A Hotel in Bath. About thirty minutes later, five more ladies walked in, and bought both books. Apparently the books were passed around the table, the ladies liked what they read, and came back to get their own. That has never happened to me.

A Hotel in Paris sold out, and Bath did well too. I plan to go back to Galena, if they’ll have me, one of the employees is waiting for Blood Art to come out.

I had a great time, the employees and customers were gracious, and I ran out of bookmarks, and it felt like a mini vacation. You couldn’t ask for more.

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

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Celebrate Your Independence! by DL Larson

Happy 4th of July, everyone! 

My plans today are simple; I plan to pack for our weekend trip with our granddaughters, check my raspberry patch and maybe pick some for freezing, but I will mostly nibble til my fingers turn pink. I basically want to do nothing today, which means sit back and read something yummy.  Finally my family and I will trek down to a nearby town to watch the fireworks.

Last week the Chicago Tribune Parade had 'America 101 quiz' for their readers. The one I want to share is the American literary quiz.  See how many you know.  I'll post the answers in the comment section.

The answers:  a. Plum   b. Raisin   c. Mango   d. Grape   e. Huckleberry
Fill in the correct answer:
1.  The House on ________ Street, by Sandra Cisneros
2. The ______s of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
3. On the Banks of ________Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4.  The Adventures of ______ Finn, by Mark Twain
5.  A _____ in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry

Is there a book you would have included in this list?  A poem, perhaps?  Something non-fruity?
Take a moment and tell us!

No matter how you celebrate this day, be safe and remember WHY we have the day off.  Freedom is not free.  Many before us have given much to protect our freedoms. 

Now go light a sparkler to celebrate!

Til next time ~

DL Larson