Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why Go to a Conference?

DL Larson, Morgan Mandel, Debra St. John
Book Beat Babes at Spring Fling
Now that I no longer have a day job, I'm more picky about which conferences I attend.

Conferences can be costly, especially when well known headliners are offered. Those people don't appear for nothing. Not only is the conference committee responsible for travel expenses for their featured guests, but also their rooms and speaking fees.

Also, decent venues don't come cheap. The committee usually needs to guaranty a certain amount of attendees, as well as people staying overnight, not to mention meals for those at the conference.

I understand how the expenses can add up, yet sometimes certain conferences can be more costly than others. Because of the cost, I've passed on some conferences I would have loved attending.

Still, I couldn't pass on 2014 Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling. For one thing, Chicago-North RWA is my chapter, and I wanted to show support. For another, The chapter rate of $160 for a two-day conference was decent compared to other conferences. The headliners were great, and I knew I'd take something back from hearing them. Also, it would be a great opportunity to network with authors I hadn't seen in a while. Since I've gone the indie route, pitches to editors and agents didn't interest me, but many people attending took advantage of that opportunity.

I was not disappointed. The conference ran professionally and smoothly. The headliners, who included Mary Balogh, Kristan Higgins and Lauren Dane,  gave spectacular workshops and speeches.

My favorite was Mary Balogh, an author of 100 books. I loved her wit. Not only that, her observation that writing is never easy made me feel I wasn't the only one who struggled at times to get my manuscripts completed.

Perseverance and determination are still key ingredients for writers to survive, even when they've already published more books than I could ever dream of writing.

I did get to network with authors I hadn't seen in a long while. I also got fed very well. The venue was beautiful.

Adam  Grabowski, the comedian during the gala dinner, actually made me and others around me laugh! That doesn't always happen.

An added plus was it took less than twenty minutes to get there from my house. Couldn't beat that convenience.

What I most got out of the conference was inspiration. Being among my own kind who suffer similar anxiety and setbacks made me realize I'm not alone. Sure, when I sit at my computer, I'm the one who needs to create my own book, but still, there are many others out there who are hard at work doing the same thing. It may not always come easy, but we can do it!

Find Morgan Mandel's books at

& her Amazon Author Page at


Twitter: @MorganMandel

What about you? Have you been to any good conferences? Or, don't you go to them?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Inspiration from pro authors like Debbie Macomber

I was thrilled Saturday to be a first-time attendee at the third annual Readers Appreciation Luncheon, put on by former Publisher Weekly blogger Barbara Vey in Milwaukee.

Some 60 top-notch authors and 400+ readers. Quite the event. It definitely won't be my last.

Along with meeting and having lunch with author Sharon Sala at her table, I also got to hear one of my favorite authors, Debbie Macomber. She's not only funny, but had some really inspirational things to say and good advice to writers, as well as sharing her own bumpy, almost over-before-it-began start to her writing career. Yes, she's sold  more than 100 books and has millions of copies in print now, but everyone starts somewhere. So, you can always dream, right?

You can read the full story at my GirlZombieAuthors blog.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Conference Recap in Ten

This past Friday and Saturday I attended Spring Fling 2014, an every-other-year conference hosted by my local RWA chapter, Chicago-North. As usual, the conference was fabulous: well organized, great headliners and workshops, and lots of opportunities to hang with fellow authors. Kudos to the committee for their tireless efforts to bring this one to life. It was certainly a job well-done.

Here, in no particular order, are ten things I took away from the conference. (The good, the bad, the meh, and the snarky.)

Free books rock!

Writers as a whole are an 'interesting' bunch.

It's so nice to touch base with people you haven't seen in ages.

So many great sectionals, so little time.

Freezing cold rooms eliminate the need to deal with hot flashes for two entire days.

A book signing is depressing and discouraging when you don't sell any books.

Working as a time keeper for pitch appointments is a lot less stressful than giving the pitch.

Librarians see authors like little kids see super heroes. There's a lot of wide-eyed wonder and giddiness involved.

Conference swag is great, but now much do you really keep afterwards? And just because you keep a pen, or pad of sticky notes, or a tattoo, does it really translate into a sale?

Some authors are great speakers/presenters. Some aren't.

All in all, the conference was a great way to get back in touch with my writerly side, and I'm looking forward to what 2016 will bring.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Conferences by Margot Justes

In the past I’ve always attended a few writing conferences a year, and it was fun. I learned a little bit, met a few writing friends and made new ones, and attended many panels on the writing process, promotions, marketing,  pitched, all the things that go with the job.

This year I didn’t plan well, and haven’t scheduled any. I will miss connecting with other writers, there is a certain comfort in meeting others who face the same challenges. They understand the writing world. It’s a close community, and going to a conference just for that is worth it.

That being said, there is also a need for face to face networking with readers. I think once you’re published there is a great need to find the conferences that are geared more to readers. I for one do not want to pitch to any editors or agents, but do want to connect with romance readers.

The wonderful part is that there are other authors who attend as well-it is after all a readers conference-authors have to be there as well.

The next step will be to research the romance reader conferences and plan for 2015. At the rate this year is flying it’ll be here before we know it.

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
Blood Art
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks

Friday, April 25, 2014

J. D. Salinger

I recently watched PBS’s American Masters (AM) episode on J. D. Salinger.  What an eye opener this program is!  If you haven’t seen it then I strongly suggest you put it on your list.  The details of how his writing affected his life and how his life affected his writing will resonate with everyone who has put pen to paper.

J. D. Salinger is most notable for his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, which I actually don’t believe I have read.  I plan to read it after watching the AM episode about his life and writing but plan to choose the time when I do so wisely.  You’ll understand some by the end of this blog and even more when you watch the AM program.

I’ve always wondered about powerful writers and what motivates them to write the way that they write and about the subjects that they choose, and after watching the AM episode regarding Salinger it has added new meaning to write what you know.

To say that Salinger had a challenging life is to put it mildly.  I hadn’t realized until watching the AM program that he had taken part in the D-Day invasion and not only was he a soldier participating BUT it was his first day of combat!  I’m a US Army veteran and I can only imagine what it must have been like for D-Day to be anybody’s first day of combat.

To make the situation more exciting he actually carried with him into battle what he had written so far on his work that would become the novel, The Catcher in the Rye.  Think about it – this was 1944 and not only did writers not have computers back then but the first photocopier machine had not yet been invented, so if Salinger had been killed or even wounded, you can only imagine what might have happened to his work-in-progress.

Talk about writer’s angst!

Add to all of this the fact that a number of killers have used Salinger’s work, The Catcher in the Rye, as a manifesto of sorts for why they killed or attempted to kill someone.  The more notables of these include John Hinckley, Jr. who shot President Reagan, Mark David Chapman who shot John Lennon and Robert John Bardo who shot Rebecca Schaffer.  Salinger's novel was also a sporadic favorite of younger generations over the many decades.

Ironically, Salinger never wanted any of his works to be popular bestsellers but rather literary bestsellers and when his work took on a more popular standing among the masses he was actually upset.  You really have to watch the AM program to understand this.

So what is it about Salinger’s work that touched people so profoundly?  Not sure yet since I haven’t read his work but I hope to find out soon.  He sold millions upon millions of copies of his one novel alone without even trying.  In fact, there were times when he tried to prevent his work from selling.

Salinger also wrote many other works and apparently he continued to write long after he had stopped publishing new works and some of his as yet published material is scheduled to be released starting in 2015.  He passed away in 2010 at the age of 91.

In life, and even in death, Salinger has managed to accomplish a presence most writer’s wish they could have just a fraction of, and he did without really trying and while hiding away in Cornish, New Hampshire.

Here are some links to get you started on the mystery of J. D. Salinger:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring-Fling Writers Conference! by DL Larson

Many have their bags packed for a weekend of learning, networking and connecting with other writers for this weekend's Spring-Fling Writers Conference in Hoffman Estates, near Chicago. Agents, editors and publishers will be in attendance, and many participants have pitch sessions with at least one.

My best advice is to relax! Yes, relax. I used to be a nervous wreck when it came my turn to talk to a professional about my work. I still don't enjoy the process, but I've learned editors, and publishers and agents, oh my! are quite friendly!

2. Memorizing your pitch can be self-defeating. Dialogue and eye contact work much better.

3. Be yourself. When I'm nervous, I tend to shut-down, whisper as if I have laryngitis. Silly, I know. And I wanted to kick myself afterwards. What happened to rowdy and outspoken, Deb, I wondered. Now, I understand worse case scenario is a BIG NO, and understanding that calms my nerves. I have plenty of experience with rejection letters. It is not the end of the world. If the professional I talk to is not interested in my work, it doesn't mean I'm a failure. It simply means this is not a good fit.

4. Understand you are searching for a good agent/editor FOR YOUR BOOK/CAREER. Compare it to finding the perfect pair of shoes. You must try on several pairs before you find a good fit!

5. What have you found to help when talking to an agent or editor? Share with us if you have time before you leave for the conference!

If you are going to Spring-Fling, maybe I'll see you there!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Browser Rant

Just a small rant here. It seems that none of the social networks can get their acts together. Each wants to work better with a different browser, and I'm getting tired of trying to bend to their wishes.

It seems that none of them have anything better to do than to make changes that don't makes sense.

That said, I'm going to try to work on A Perfect Angel today. That book got put on the back burner and needs to get done!

Morgan Mandel
Twitter: @MorganMandel 
takes you to all of Morgan's books, as does
her Amazon Author Page:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Karen Docter

I'd like to welcome K. L. Docter to BBB. She even took the time to do her own interview-I couldn't have asked for more.
Margot Justes

Thanks so much for having me on Book Beat Babes! I’m so excited to reveal my romantic suspense, Killing Secrets, Patrick’s and Rachel’s story to your readers.
Since I know you’re much more interested in my new release – I know my book is a lot more interesting J – I’m going to conduct my own Five in Five Interview. I will answer five questions in five minutes or less. Maybe. I have a hard time writing a grocery list without adding a second page. I’m just sayin’!
So here goes….
1.     What appeals to you about the genre that you write?
I actually write in two genres. I write contemporary romance with a kick of humor as Karen Docter. I’ve released two contemporaries, Satin Pleasures and Catch That Santa, a novella. I love writing these because they’re lighthearted, cute and spicy. I love to write about real men and women with dreams and goals that don’t allow for a relationship just so I can throw them in each other’s path…with a tickle and a smile. I don’t think of myself as naturally humorous but some of the situations my characters get into just make me laugh out loud, probably because they’re real people to me.
I plan to continue writing these lighthearted romps because I need a breath of fresh air between suspense novels. Well, the real reason is my critique partners say I have to give them something light once in a while, or they’ll have to kill me.
With the release of Killing Secrets, I’m adding romantic suspense to my genre mix. For the longest time, I wrote exclusively what many know in the traditional markets as short contemporary romance, around 50,000 words. What I found over the years was that I often wrote suspense elements into those stories but they were more backstory. I read across the genres – so it’s not surprising that I’d finally break down and write suspense, too.
I enjoy the more complicated storylines that these books provide me. They’re twice as long. Killing Secrets is 110,000 words, although I’ve been told it’s a “fast read”. I also enjoy handing out justice to villains. When I was a kid, I had considered becoming a police officer (another long story I can’t answer in five minutes J ) to make sure bad guys paid for what they did. It didn’t take me long to realize I was not law enforcement material, but I can still kick some villainous butts in my books.
2.     What is most difficult for you to write?  Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?

My first impulse is to say “all of the above”.  I believe these elements are so intertwined, it’s difficult to pinpoint which gives me grief most often. If I don’t know how to write a character’s emotions, it’s because I don’t know their conflict. If I don’t know the character’s conflict, I don’t know enough about the character.

I don’t usually start writing a story until I feel connected to the characters well enough to know how they’ll react in a given situation. I use the “W” plotting technique to outline my basic story before I start writing so I don’t generally run into these kinds of problems. If something’s not working for me, I simply go back to my character development and retrace my steps.

That said, I think emotions are the hardest on me…from a writer’s point of view, not because I can’t pinpoint the characters’ emotions. I get so invested in these people – even secondary, one-off characters – that I feel everything they’re feeling. I experience their joys and frustrations, their fears and emotions. I can relate to Joan Wilder (Romancing the Stone) when she’s sitting at her desk, hammering out The End, and crying like a baby because she’s me.

In Killing Secrets, I had to actually kill one of the serial killer’s victims. It’s not particularly visceral (I don’t do overly graphic), but I had to leave my office and go out in the sunshine for half an hour after I was finished the scene. The entire time I was writing, I was thinking about my two daughters and how I’d feel if this girl was one of them. I’d tapped into my fears, and it made for an effective scene, but it took a lot out of me.
3.     Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Everywhere. I may seem quiet when you put me in a room full of people but I’m watching everything, ferreting away little tidbits of characterization, mannerisms, speech patterns, etc. Yeah, I’m a real party animal! J I get ideas from articles, conversations, television, radio, songs, etc. Rachel’s story in Killing Secrets was prompted by a news article I read about a con artist who was maintaining two lives while bilking millions out of his friends and acquaintances. It’s not Rachel’s exact situation, but it made me think…and watch out when you make me think! Once I get the kernel of an idea, it’s just a matter of time before I flesh out the rest of a story.
4.     Many writers dream of having the ideal location to write. If you could live anywhere in the world or live a particular lifestyle, where would you be answering these questions right now?
I live in Colorado and love it here. We’ve moved several times across the country and kept coming back. I missed my mountains. The weather is wonderful, too. We get occasional blizzards and other nasty weather, but we have sunshine more often than not. It can blizzard one day. The next day the sun will shine, the snow melts, and it’s 70 degrees . We teach our children to dress in layers because we can see major weather changes in a single day. I don’t ever intend to move again.
However, I’d also love to be a snowbird, although I don’t want to move south. I want a condo in Maui where I can sit on the lanai and write while watching the sun set. The pace on Maui is laid back. I would own one dress, some shorts and T-shirts. But I’d live in my swimsuit and sarong. I’d escape there when the colder weather really hits Colorado in January, February and March. I’d probably also not get a lick of work done in January, February and March. It’s too easy to slip into the island pace. J
5.     Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
Killing Secrets by K.L. Docter is my next book and it released on April 14th! You can read the prologue and first two chapters on Amazon for a sneak peek but I’ve added a teaser excerpt below. Killing Secrets is the first novel in the Thorne’s Thorns series about six foster brothers, the dangers that enter their lives, and the women they come to love and would die to protect.
Book Blurb:
Some secrets are better left dead.
Rachel James’ ex-husband is released from prison determined to reclaim her and her little girl — the child is his key to controlling the James fortune. Frightened, Rachel flees to Denver with the child who hasn’t uttered a word since her daddy went to prison.

Contractor Patrick Thorne wants nothing to do with another of his parents’ charity cases. He failed his own wife so abysmally she took her own life as well as his unborn son’s. After two years, it’s time to concentrate on the bid he’s won and the saboteur trying to destroy his construction firm.

There is no room for trust in either of their hearts. But trust is all that will untangle the secrets that dominate their lives, free a little girl of her silent prison, and save them all from a serial killer who stands too close.
Thorne’s Thorns Series – Book 1
Four weeks….
Two Days….
Sixteen hours….
     …’Til death.
The first time he laid eyes on her, he stood on the threshold of a doorway he dare not cross. He fell into her fathomless dark gaze, unable, unwilling to shake his soul free and, in that one moment, he knew.
She was meant for him to love.
Untouched by the sordid life that flourished around her, she was sunlight in a gray existence. A smile in a dingy room. A joy such as he’d never known. She was a gift from a cold, unforgiving God. Forever innocent.
Why God would give him such a precious angel, he hadn’t a clue. But he suddenly knew what he was willing to die for. What he’d kill for.
In that instant of clarity the monster that lurked in the dark recesses of his mind was freed. A creature designed to kill. To live and die. Over and over again. Until his angel ascended once more to her place in Heaven at God’s feet where he couldn’t reach her.
‘Til death parted them, she was his and his alone.
Certain she’d been lost to him, the shock of spotting her again in LoDo, a lower downtown section of Denver, nearly brought him to his knees. His brain tried to tell him he was mistaken. She had more curves than he remembered. Her hairstyle and clothes were different.
The others were different, too.
He shook his head against the monster’s treacherous whisper. He refused to listen. Couldn’t listen. His angel smiled at him. His soul recognized her. Somehow, some way, his fractious God had been appeased and given him yet another chance.
The past seven days were hell. Watching her. Wanting to take her. He couldn’t screw up and lose her again. Tonight, his preparations in place, she’d return to his side where she belonged.
Breathing slow and measured through the full-face ski mask he’d bought at a thrift store, he sucked in a lungful of musty stench. In this uncommon late-May heat wave, he was sweating bullets, but the wool soaked it up before it could sting his eyes. The itching would drive him insane, though, if she didn’t come home from work soon.
The LoDo sports bar where she waited tables closed almost an hour ago. She couldn’t have gone on a date at two o’clock on a Thursday morning, could she?
Three times he’d entered her ground floor apartment after she’d left for work, and he’d seen no sign she was involved with anyone. No jockey shorts mixed with her panties in the hamper. No extra razor. The food in the refrigerator wasn’t enough to feed a cat, let alone her and a boyfriend, and the only scent on her pillows was floral. The sole message from a male on her answering machine had identified himself as a special research librarian from the Denver Public Library reminding her to pick up the copy of “The Warwick Genealogy” she’d requested.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t still involved with him, the almighty scion of Thorne Enterprises. She’s probably crawling into his bed like a whore right this minute, letting him do things to her, making her scream….
“No!  Stop!” he whispered. “That was a mistake!”
Was it?  The insidious question lashed him from the dark place in his pounding skull.
He rejected the smirking voice, the vivid images. Think of something else. Anything else. Forgetforgetfor—
A car alarm screamed at an outlying parking lot and dragged him out of his fugue. His eyes cleared. The pain behind them eased to a level he’d learned to carry over the years.
Soon, he would kill the nightmares forever. Patrick Thorne would die and the secrets with him. But the contractor hadn’t been punished enough yet. Before he finished, he’d ruin Thorne’s reputation, his livelihood, destroy everything he loved most in the world.
Just as Thorne destroyed our lives. The man must die! Now!
Restless to escape its bonds the monster thrust knife-hot pain in his brain, but he wrestled it back into the shadows and locked it down. Retribution was almost at hand, but not tonight. This night was about her.
Where was she?
K.L. Docter Bio:
K.L. Docter writes two different kinds of romance novels….
Romantic Suspense w/a K.L. Docter: Women hunted by killers…men who’d die to protect them.
Contemporary Romance w/a Karen Docter: Romance…With a Kick of Humor!
Karen’s contemporaries are cute & spicy romances. She loves writing about real men and women with dreams and goals that don’t allow for a relationship just so she can throw them in each other’s path…with a tickle and a smile.
Her romantic suspense novels (as K.L. Docter) are also filled with romance, although the dangers the hero and heroine face are intense, usually because a serial killer is bent on ending one or both of their lives before they can fall in love.
Karen’s an award winning author, a four-time Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist, and won the coveted Kiss of Death Romance Writers Daphne du Maurier Award Category (Series) Romantic Mystery Unpublished division.
When she’s not saving her characters from death and destruction or helping them fall in love, she loves camping and fishing with her family, reading, gardening & cooking. If she can do most of those things over a campfire, all the better! FMI:
Killing Secrets by K.L. Docter Available Now!

Karen Docter/K.L. Docter

Facebook/K.L. Docter Author Page:

Book Bench for Romance Lovers FB Group:

Also writing Contemporary Romance as Karen Docter