Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Friday, May 30, 2014

There's a new Convention in Town

            If you haven’t heard about it yet, there’s a new convention in town and the very first one is happening this weekend in New York at the Javits Center.  If you go to the website you’ll see the con described as “…a place where storytelling and pop culture collide.” 

Here’s the link:

            Now it looks like BookCon isn’t that expensive to “get into” as the tickets I saw listed at the website were only $30.00 and it’s only one day.  Note that the VIP tickets were already sold out so not sure how much those cost but you can bet that just staying in New York will set you back a pretty penny.

            USAToday have a preview of the event – here’s the link:

            I think this is definitely a con to follow and if it’s as successful as Comic-Con has become and fans truly show up then it might just have great potential for writers to connect with their readers.  One cautionary note is that there seem to be so many big names at this Con, and since it’s only one day, it might be difficult to stand out.  BUT it might just turn out to be the place to be discovered and grow your fan base.  It’s certainly one of the Cons I have on my list to attend when I can afford it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Just Right

On my recent vacation to Wisconsin, I went through all the seasons weather-wise. Cold, Better, Just Right, Too Got. I liked the Just Right days the best, when the sun was shining, the wind wasn't blowing hard, and the air smelled clean and clear.

It's hard to get anything just right, and that includes writing. In between spending quality time with the DH, my dog, and my good friend, I did spend some time on my work in progress,  A Perfect Angel. I'm happy to say the book is coming along nicely.

However, as of yet, it's not Just Right. When I think it's right, it'll go to my great editor, Helen Ginger, to also check it over. When it's Just Right, it'll be released. I'd thought the process would be faster, but a quality book is worth the wait.

Morgan with Rascal at Culver's
on the way home from vacation.

Find Morgan Mandel's
Mysteries and Romances at

Excerpts also at Morgan's Book Links Blog

Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Spring is Blossoming

With the long winter behind us and the unofficial start to summer here this Memorial Weekend, Spring at least is really making her presence known. Although it's a bit later than usual, my lilacs and bleeding hearts are in full bloom and my perennial garden is already looking lush and full. The annuals are a riot of color, and even the tomato plants and herbs are looking strong and healthy. After the long, cold, snowy winter...these vibrant hues and swaying greens are truly a sight for sore eyes.

I find that as summer vacation inches closer and closer, writing ideas are also blossoming. I tend to get most of my writing done in the summer, as I have the time to actually sit and do it. And it's almost like my muse is aware that the time in nearing, because she's poking and prodding me these days. I find bits and pieces of stories and scenes playing through my head as I go about my daily routine. (Don't you love it when that happens?)

Soon I'll be able to sit down at my computer or take my lap top out by the pond or out onto the front porch and do something with those ideas and scenes. Now in my head, as I imagine it, the ideas flow easily from my head to my fingertips on the keys and onto the screen in front of me and soon I have pages and pages of fabulous prose as my word count steadily increases.

As I well know, however, it's definitely not as easy as it sounds, and I'm sure despite my muse tickling and nudging, I'll have many times of staring at that blinking curser on a blank page. Such is the life of a writer. Even a part-time one like me.

But knowing I have the time ahead to at least attempt to get some writing done makes me happy. And being able to get that writing done while surrounded by the beauty of my gardens and a warm summer day wrapped around me...well, that's just cause for Happy Dancing.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Audio Books by Margot Justes

I’m thinking of putting Blood Art out as an audio book. Let’s start with the fact that I’m technically challenged, and am in fact a luddite. Such a lovely word for such a technically challenged person, but to be fair I’m much better that I was. On the other hand, I could only get the drift.

However, a friend thought I should try it. What did I have to lose? Nothing except a great deal of time, and what is left of my sanity.

I followed her instructions and went on ACX, an Amazon company that will handle everything once you register the book, and hook up with an ACX authorized narrator/producer. Simple, right? Nope. Not for me.  Not at all.

ACX has a list of approved narrators, and the field has to be narrowed down to age, voice, accent, male, female, etc...all the criteria that would fit my story perfectly.

The next step is to select a narrator-did I say that getting all the criteria is time consuming... Selecting the narrator takes even more time and patience. You listen to countless voices until you find the perfect one. The next step after the narrator selection is sending the all important e-mail and request an audition. Keep in mind, even if you have selected the narrator, it doesn’t mean the narrator will take you on.

So far, I registered the book. There are option on payment to the narrator; royalties only, that means the narrator would receive 20% of the sale of the audio book, I would
receive  20%, and I would be tying up the rights for 7 years. Another option would be to offer a small stipend and royalties. The other option is to pay the narrator/producer up front, and I’d keep 40% of each sale. The rates are anywhere between $100 to $400 hundred dollars an hour. According to ACX, my book would take 9 to 10 hours to produce.

It is an interesting learning process, and we’ll see how far I get.

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within

Friday, May 23, 2014

Smashwords and OverDrive Make a Deal

Smashwords and OverDrive have made a distribution deal that might just be the answer to a self-published author’s prayers. The deal basically makes more than 200,000 titles available through OverDrive which is used by libraries throughout the country to loan e-books to their patrons. 

I mentioned in a recent post that the major publishers were making it very expensive for libraries to purchase many of the bestselling titles from their publishing houses.  Libraries, like many other on-a-tight-budget organizations, need to be careful about how they spend their scarce dollars so this deal just might be a win-win for both the libraries and self-published authors.

                An interesting aspect of this deal is that if a library patron wants to check out the book and it is not available to borrow at that time, then the patron can actually purchase the book through OverDrive’s “buy it now” feature.

                It is going to be very interesting to see how this unfolds over the next year or so.  It’s quite possible that this can help drive sales for self-published authors.  I certainly hope so.

                Here’s the link to the Publishers Weekly article:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

One Degree Makes A Difference! by DL Larson

No, this isn't a science project, not with test tubes and beakers, anyway. Call this an incentive for aspiring writers to keep working, to keep pushing forward when all seems frivolous and time-consuming. The reason is simple ... one degree makes a difference.

Water is hot at 211 degrees.
Water boils at 212 degrees.

One degree makes all the difference.

The same may work in your writing career. Now is not the time to turn off the burners and say your writing experiment failed. Don't be content with lukewarm, make things bubble! Go for sizzle and rolling. Experiment with the temperature of your words.

Heat brings life to your story. Creating a boil uses energy. Maintaining a boil requires skill and timing.

Don't be afraid of the heat. Cozy up and sweat ... because one degree can make all the difference!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Letting Things Slide

I've come to the conclusion that there just aren't enough hours in the day. Okay, this isn't a brilliant, new revelation. I'm sure most people feel that way. But when I start feeling that way, I know something's got to give. Something is going to slip through the cracks and slide away.

Unfortunately, more often than not these days (and for a while now), that something is my writing. It's been the easiest thing to let go, since I'm not working on any kind of external deadline. I haven't written anything new in almost, or is it over, a year, and I've attended probably one of my local RWA chapter meetings.

Do I still consider myself a writer? Sure. Just a part-time one these days. Since I have managed to somehow have a new book coming out in August.

I'm hoping that with the school year ending soon (in a matter of weeks), that I'll have more time to devote to writing. I'm seriously weighing the pluses and minuses of blogging on three blogs each week and will decide if I want to continue that or not. I still find I have ideas for stories spinning in my head, and I'm not ready to quit altogether, but I'm definitely taking a step back.

And you know what? I'm okay with that.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Letting Go by Margot Justes

Letting go of a finished manuscript is rather painful, at least for me. In a way, preparing for a new release is sort of like giving birth-plenty of anxiety and wonder. Is anyone going to like it? What should or could have been done differently?  Was it ready to go out? Will it ever be ready to go out?

That is all part of the writing process, the editing process, correcting the editing process, another read through, going back to the editor, and final read get the drift-a seemingly never ending process.  At some point one has to give ‘birth’ and let it go.

Once you give birth, the trepidation begins, and it truly is sort of like giving birth. The wonder of the little person you brought into the world sinks in and then overwhelming terror grips you. The tremendous responsibility for that precious life you have assumed as a parent will last for the rest of your life. Now that is commitment.

At the onset, releasing a new book is giving birth to a new project, but it is only a story and once the butterflies settle down, and rationality prevails, the hope is that readers will enjoy the tale, and feel happy after they read it. It is after all a story, and not a lifetime commitment to parenthood. It may just feel like it for a brief moment.  

Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Secret Weapon of a Successful Writer

Aspiring writers always want to know the secrets of successful writers and one such secret was revealed by the very successful writer, George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones books.

His secret?

Two computers.

Yep, two computers and one of those computers runs on a DOS operating system because the software program Mr. Martin uses only works on the DOS operating system.  It’s an old WordProcessing program called WordStar and I actually used this program when I was in grad school back in the late 1980’s.

Now why, you might ask, does a writer as prolific and commercially successful as George R.R. Martin use such an old computer and word processing program?  Well, he likes to keep it simple.  He specifically honed in on the spell check function as being something he disliked about the new and more up-to-date programs and when you think about the names of his characters and settings for his books this makes sense.

So, sometimes simple is better and sometimes more is just more, and according to Mr. Martin, more can get in the way of his creative and writing process.

It’s a fascinating interview that Mr. Martin gave to Conan O’Brien on O’Brien’s talk show and worth listening to even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan or follower.  Here’s the link:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Finding Your Voice! by DL Larson

One of the most confusing aspects of writing is finding your own voice. This mixed-up industry of publishers, editors and agents want fresh voices, but then further explain they are looking for the pace of (insert author's name) and thrill of (insert author's name) with the character insight of (insert author's name.) It all feels as if they are at a restaurant ordering not from the menu, but asking the chef to prepare something special just for them.

And they are! But writers beware! Writers are not short-order cooks. Writers need to discover and develop their own voice. It takes time and effort.

Rather than trying to satisfy publishers, editors and agents, satisfy yourself first. It's wonderful to be asked to write a certain way, but if your own voice has not been developed fully, no one will ever say I'm searching for someone like (insert your own name here.)

Tips for finding your voice:

1. Keep your personality in your writing. Too many times a writer tries sounding - well, writerly. It doesn't work. We each have hundreds of aspects to our own personality, from being light-hearted to heart broken. Yet each of us does light-heartedness and heartbreak differently. It's our unique personality that develops our characters and our story.

2. Don't be a copy cat. This will delay developing your own writing style and voice. When I'm writing, I rarely read; I want to maintain my own voice, my own style. I don't want outside voices influencing my writing. When I'm not writing, I read, read, read, to discover how others before me have accomplished and developed their books.

3. Write fast! I still write my first draft with pen and paper. It's silly, I know, but something clicks and my mind is in sync with my fingers and off I go. I can't write as I used to - I take more breaks, but I enjoy the process of the words forming on the page without my stopping to evaluate them. There will be plenty of time for that later.
I encourage you to practice, practice, practice writing fast - on a computer or with pen and paper. The mind is set free to develop at its own pace and the other part of the mind, that critical side, is silenced for awhile. Your voice will surface from the pages. I love that part of the writing process.

4. Play around! With words, sentence length and depth. Play with strong verbs. Ditch the adverbs and adjectives your English teacher loved. Play with bold words, strong words, HUGE words. Be silly, be sad, be energetic, but never plodding.

5. Repeat often! Finding your voice takes time with mega doses of practice. Athletes don't step out onto a court or field and expect to perform well without previous effort. They train, they study, they practice daily. They build their strength day by day. A great writer will do the same.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Interview with Mystery Author Kaye George

My new interview is up at Mysterical-e with the fabulous Kaye George about her unique Neanderthal mystery.. 

And there's news about authors  Camille MinichinoLuisa Buehler and Terrie Moran .... Be sure to take a peek!

Friday, May 9, 2014

HarperCollins to Buy Harlequin

Last week I posted about the difficulties my local (and other) libraries were having in acquiring e-books at a reasonable cost.  Perhaps the recent purchase of Harlequin by HarperCollins might explain at least part of the reason.  According to the article in Publishers Weekly (see link below), digital publishing accounted for 24% of Harlequin's revenue last year.

Harlequin was one of the early adopters of digital publishing and now it seems that HarperCollins wants to embrace that success by purchasing the company.  The article indicates that HarperCollins will focus on growth and has no plans to change Harlequin and how it operates but only time will tell how true this is.  The article further quotes the company as stating that this acquisition will greatly expand their international footprint.

As usual in these situations, it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out - for both authors and readers.

Here's the link to the article:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sending Out A Query! by DL Larson

After a conference, writers become excited and a bit anxious to respond to an invitation to send a query that an agent or publisher asked for. Here's a few tips I've learned over the years.

1. Respond! Respond in a timely fashion.

2. Visit the website! The agent/publisher may not have been explicit in how they want material sent to them. Many have detailed guidelines on how and what to send. I've noticed one change in several that sends me in a tizzy every time - a request for material to have a .3 indent in paragraphs rather than the standard .5. Beware of this. It might be a test to see how well you as an author follow directions or their publishing company has changed to this method and it has become standard measures for them.
Also, many prefer to have all material inserted into the body of the query, no attachments. So read the guidelines thoroughly.

3. Send only what is requested in the website, UNLESS, you have been told otherwise. The standard use to be the first three chapters. Now, the first ten pages is requested more frequently.

4. Be sure your synopsis is action packed. Make it exciting. A tough job, I know, but worth the effort in order to sell your book.

5. Remind the agent/publisher where and when you met them. Connect, connect, connect! That means calling them by their names! Address your query to a specific person!

6. Be ready for a rejection, but hopeful for a request for more. Pretend you are shopping for shoes. 'They may look adorable on the rack, but bite your toes when you try them on!'

7. Continue to search for other possible agents/publishers while you wait. Don't let time go by with only one query advertising your product.

8. It's okay to brag a bit. If you have finalled in a contest, mention this in your query.

9. Share your website address, your blog site, etc. Mention your writing in other areas if it is pertinent to your book.

9. Many now want a 'marketing plan' from the writer. This slips easily into the conversation when you mention your blog writing or other venues you have to sell your book. Mention your target audience and how you want to reach them.

10. Your query should be one page! Think of the TV show, "Minute To Win It." That's all you really have to grab the agent's attention.

Now's the time to dig in, polish your query and synopsis, and then ... send it out!
After that, refer back to #7. Keep searching, keep seeking for an agent or publisher that YOU want to work with.

Good Luck ~

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

MAC Address?

I like to plan ahead for vacations. One feature my provider offers is that I can switch my smartphone to an Internet hotspot, which can come in handy when I use my laptop out of town.

The first thing to do is decide how many Gigabytes I'll probably use. Then, a call to my provider will turn the hotspot feature on. After that, it's just a matter of clicking on the wifi tab on the laptop, looking for the address of the phone and typing in the security password.

For extra protection, I can also designate the MAC addresses of which computers or phones can only connect to my hotspot.

That sounded good, but what confused me was how to find the MAC address. When I Googled how to find the MAC address, and received instructions for using the command prompt to find it. By doing that, I came up with three addresses. Which was the right one?

A call to Dell gave me the answer. (It pays to have a service contact with them, believe me. They'll do all sorts of stuff like remove adware or provide answers to strange questions)

Anyway, the guy at Dell told me to go to the Control Panel, Then Network and Sharing Center, Click my Active Internet Network, which is the network I'm currently using, then Click the Details tab, and lo and behold, one of the details is called the computer's Physical Address.

Physical Address = MAC address

That address is the same, no matter which Internet network I use.

The instructions above are for my Windows 8.1 computer, but for Windows 7, you'd go to the Control Panel and look for Network and Internet first, then do everything else the same.

Hope this helps any of you who might wish to make a hotspot from your phone sometime, and secure it from everybody jumping onboard. Of course, nothing is foolproof, but designating MAC addresses provides an added measure of security.

Morgan Mandel
Find all my mysteries and romances at

Amazon  Author Page:


Twitter: @MorganMandel

Sunday, May 4, 2014

To Cut or Not to Cut...

With yesterday's beautiful (FINALLY!) weather, we got outside to do some spruce up in the yard. My hubby cleaned and got the pond running...a truly awful job let me tell you. We got the bistro set out and put benches and decs (birdfeeders, planters, statues, hooks, flags, etc.) in their proper places. And we trimmed some trees and bushes.

Along the way we realized that the extremely long and cold Midwest winter had done a number on several of our things. Overall, things are popping up and blossoming much slower than they usually do. One tree in the center of our yard, a fairly young one, looks like it might be on its way out. About half of the branches are bare of blossoms and looking quite dead. Most likely this tree will need to be taken down. Luckily there's another tree close by, so we won't lose too much in the way of aesthetics and/or shade. The wild rose bush on the corner of our patio isn't looking too good either. I can see new growth popping up in the middle, but most of the branches are grey and dead looking and appear to be strangling the baby shoots. This one we'll probably cut off at the bottom and wait to see if something grows again. A spiraea bush next to the patio doesn't seem to be coming back at all. Other similar bushes have gotten buds and even leaves, but this one is bare and brittle looking. This one we'll cut down and dig out, which will make way for some new landscaping plans we have.

I am bummed to lose so many things, but in the long run, it will make our yard healthier and more pleasing to the eye. Eventually we'll be so used to the new look, the old will fade into a memory.

Writing is like that sometimes too. No matter how much we love certain parts of our stories, sometimes they need to be pruned down or taken out completely. Sometimes we add something new. Sometimes that 'open space' is just what was needed to tighten up the pace or flow. And in the end, the final product will shine. Readers won't know things are 'missing', but will simply enjoy the story as it unfolds in its final format.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Mysterious Mona Lisa by Margot Justes Redux

I first published this blog in 2012, because the research continues to this day. Scholars want to know who she was, and  discover anything new about the masterpiece.

In my paranormal release Blood Art, Mona Lisa is a demon. Even now centuries later the mystery surrounds her. Because of the never ending search for something new, she was the perfect choice for a demon who survived centuries, and haunted my hero.

The Prado Museum conservators  have solved another Mona Lisa mystery. Or have they?
It seems that for many hundreds of years the museum held in storage what was long believed to be a replica of the Mona Lisa.

As you might have guessed, it isn't just a copy. Using infrared technology they found that the portrait was painted in Leonardo's studio and most likely was painted by one of his students while Leonardo was painting the original Mona Lisa.

The painting at the Prado in Madrid, did not have the flourishing Tuscan landscape that the original portrait had, the background instead was coated in black varnish.

Using infrared reflectography, a system by which they can see underneath to the changes the artist makes before the final finish, known as under-drawings. The same landscapes were found as in the original painting.

It is believed that artists even in Leonardo's time used students, who helped or copied their works of art. We recognize Leonardo's genius now, many centuries later, but in his day, he was one at one point one of those 'starving artists' trying to survive and put food on the table. I guess times have not changed that much, the same can be said in this day and age.

I wonder who are the true masters of today. Centuries later, when we're long gone volumes will be written about their magnificent talent and far reaching foresight. Who will make the cut? Are there contemporary true masters who will survive and thrive through the ages?

On a happy note, A Hotel in Bath is a finalist for the RONE award. 

Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
Blood Art

Friday, May 2, 2014

Libraries and eBooks

I’m a big fan of checking out eBooks from my local library and reading them on my Kindle but something is posted at my library's website that took me by surprise.  Here it is:

“Publisher Restrictions, or Why Don't You Have the eBook I Want?
Wondering why we don't have certain popular authors or titles? Getting eBooks to library users is getting more difficult. Many publishers will not sell their eBooks to libraries. Random House recently tripled its eBook prices for libraries, Penguin requires Kindle users to transfer eBooks via USB, and Penguin has stopped selling new eBooks to libraries. For more information and what you can do to change this, see eBooks for Libraries and The Big 6 from the Kansas State Library.”

The eBooks for Libraries link is:

The link for The Big 6 is:

Basically the libraries are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to obtaining eBooks from the largest of the traditional publishers as you’ll see from the links above.

So, just what the heck is going on?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What Do You Need As A Writer? by DL Larson

Attending a writers conference reminds me of the movie, 'Forrest Gump,' you never know what you're going to get! Great speakers may inspire, other writers may give insight to a technique or venue, or an agent may ask for the first 30 pages.

All of the above happened to me at the Spring Fling Writers Conference. Our other bloggers have already mentioned what a great conference we attended. The professionalism was in high quality and quantity. Seeing and visiting fellow writers and friends was better than the chocolate they served!

I arrived home tired and a smidge depressed. I call it the 'let down' factor. I knew I wouldn't sell many books - too many other authors with BIG names usually take the participants hard earned money, so that wasn't it. I visited with many people and attended insightful workshops where the speakers encourage audience participation. I met new people, laughed with old friends, and helped a gal in the bathroom. I pitched my idea to one agent and stopped and chatted with a gal in the hall about ebooks, only to realize she was a speaker from Pennsylvania and made time to talk to me! How awesome is that?

Overall, my time spent turned out to be a valuable experience. As I drove home, I contemplated my life as a writer. I need a few things still. I need a writers group closer to my home. I've needed and wanted that for years. I missed not having a weekly/monthly conversation about writing. It has left a HUGE hole in me. I've tried a few groups over the years and dropped out for various reasons, mostly because they don't hold up to the caliber of a RWA writers group.

Knowing what I need is one thing. Finding a solution is another! So writers, I mean YOU, out there beyond the city lights ... what do you do for writers support? I'd love to hear how you solve the need to be with other writers.

Share your solutions with me!

Til next time ~

DL Larson

A few pictures of the Conference:

Top: Sonali Dev with her new release
2nd: Morgan Mandel
3rd: Simone Elkeles & me (with her new YA release)
4th: Ann Macela
5th: Book Beat Babes DL, Morgan & Deb St. John