Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Making Ready For Christmas! by DL Larson


My family and I have been busy all Christmas season. This photo is the result of a charity my granddaughters had during our annual Caroling Party. These fun gifts will go to a family of ten girls who live at Mooseheart Child City and School. The request was for simple craft projects for the girls to do throughout the winter. I believe the donations will make the young girls very happy! A BIG thank you to all our family and friends for helping make this Christmas idea a reality!

This is the tree in my family room. My cat usually sits beneath it so he can look out the door. So far, he hasn't bothered climbing or exploring further. Let's hope he decides to be a good kitty for Christmas.

My grandson Colton and I worked on our annual gingerbread house. I was in charge of frosting while Colton decorated. He did a great job and we only had to chase after a few pesky beads that fell on the floor.

This is a live nativity our church does each Advent. I was a shepherd this year. We had a few sheep and a donkey as well. We stand for 30 minutes while the Christmas story is told over a loud speaker. Then we head back into the Fellowship Hall for hot chocolate and goodies. This year we had three sessions. It always helps me to remember the true meaning of Christmas when I take time to participate in events like this one.

 I hope everyone has a safe and meaningful Christmas. Beyond the unwrapping of presents and feasting on wonderful meals, and spending time with loved ones, please take a moment to count your blessings. I bet they are plentiful!  I know mine are.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

DL Larson

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Carol

If you missed it the first time around, Christmas Carol is still available to offer you some Christmas cheer. 

What it's about: 

 Stranded for the Holidays in a snowstorm, famous author, Blake Dugan, discovers the true meaning of life and love through a waitress with the unique name of Christmas Carol. 

And here's the link again:

Find all of my books at my Amazon Page:

Excerpts and buy links also at:

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Twitter: @MorganMandel

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sharing the Heartache! by DL Larson

I learned a few days ago a college friend passed away. Her name was Jean. We called her Jeanie-Beanie. I remember Jeanie had a bright smile and a hearty laugh. She lost a leg due to cancer while we were still in college. I remember sitting on a swing set with her on a bright winter's day. It was before her surgery. We were in South Park, Quincy IL. It's a great park, with rolling hills and a small stream snaking in and around the grounds. The snow crunched beneath our feet as we made our way to the swings that day.

Her disease was the first time I encountered that hideous word: cancer. She told me she had two choices.
1. Save the leg and have a very short life.
2. Say good-bye to her leg and hope for a long life.

Jeanie sang at my wedding. She'd never sung in public before. But I knew she could do it with ease. She sang, 'Let There Be Peace,' and 'The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.' I can still remember her rich, alto voice. Jeanie sang at dozens of weddings after mine. She once told me she'd never considered singing in public until I asked her to sing at my wedding.

I wish I could say Jeanie had an easy life. But health problems plagued her. Still, she found happiness in her marriage to Larry and enjoyed her many nieces and nephews. And friends. Jeanie was a special friend to so many. Her heart was big and her love for life enormous.

I can well imagine how she was received in heaven. "Oh, here she comes!"  "We've been waiting for you." "Welcome home, Jeanie!"

I hope my reflection on Jeanie's life will remind writers that characters can have real life issues. This is where many readers relate to the character(s). If you are searching for a unique character in your next story, consider someone like Jeanie. She had many physical problems in this world, but her zest for life didn't waver. Her compassion for others outshone her illness. And she left cancer to wither a slow death on its own.

"Far out, Jeanie Beanie! Far out! You silly rabbit."

'Til next time ~


Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Come and get your free copy of Hailey's Chance: Will Baby Make 3?
This event will happen on Dec 4, 5 and 6 (Fri, Sat, Sun)
Here's the link:

Hailey's Chance is the prequel to the romance, Christmas Carol. Both books are set in the fictional town of Deerview, Wisconsin, but the main characters are different.

What's one woman's curse could be another's blessing.

Happily expecting her first child, Hailey is unprepared for the deadly storm which tears apart her hopes and dreams. Lost in grief, she's startled by her neighbor's suggestion. What's proposed could bring joy or heartbreak. Should she take the chance?

If you like this book, I'd appreciate your writing a very brief review on Amazon.

And, if you really like this book, you might want to read the 99 cent romance, Christmas Carol, this holiday season.

*These two books are also presently enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.

Come follow me on Facebook at

Twitter: @MorganMandel

All of my books are on Amazon at:

Links & excerpts are all at: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Kind of Job Does Your Hero or Heroine Have?

Painting a picture of a hero or heroine very often involves deciding on a job or a good reason why that person doesn't have one. Here are a few examples from my own books:

1. A famous occupation - This is one of my favorites. Right away, the reader can guess the hero must be a cut above the average Joe. 
In Two Wrongs, my first book, the hero is in college, but is so great at basketball he turns pro. By the way, this book is still free at

2. An occupation involving education - In Killer Career, my heroine is a successful attorney who wants out. 

3. Dream job - Another example from Killer Career. When my heroine decides to give up her law practice to follow her dream of being a writer, her decision could kill her. 

4. A job requiring practical know how - The hero in Her Handyman, is a Jack of All Trades, and generous with his time and talents. 

Now it's your turn. What job does your hero or heroine have?  Or, maybe you'd like to mention a favorite one from someone else's book.

Find all of Morgan Mandel's books at


Twitter: @MorganMandel

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting A Thank You by Snail Mail! by DL Larson

A couple of weeks ago I did a writers workshop for a group of 5th & 6th graders. It was a great time and I had hoped the students enjoyed the session. Whether they learned anything or not, I had no idea ... until I received a large packet in the mail the other day.

The students sent me not just a thank you note, they wrote individual letters. In past workshops, I've received pictures ~ either colored or ones the teacher has taken. I always enjoy receiving those. Other times I have received a thank you card where each student has signed their name, etc. This group of kids went beyond all that.

I'm sharing with you because kids are writers too and we as adults sometimes forget that. We know they have to write for homework assignments, etc. and an occasional thank you note, but to sit and hand write a letter was new for me to receive. With all the social media these days, I didn't think kids did that sort of thing anymore.

I had told the kids they could call me, DL, or Mrs. Deb.

Hope you enjoy ...

'Dear Miss Deb,
   Thank you for being in our classroom yesterday! I had sooo much fun. I liked to learn about genres and characters. That was my favorite part. I learned so many things like different genres, developing characters, action verbs, different parts of a story. Oh, I could go on forever of how much I learned and had fun! I liked how much the class and I learned.
                                                                          Thank you, Emily'

'Dear D.L.,
  Thank you so much for coming to our school to each us about being an author! It was really fun. It was so cool how you took "he" and changed him into "Nate Yorkston" and "school" to "Frankenstein Academy." It was a very fun experience that I will never forget. I hope you had a great Halloween!
                                                                           Thanks, Mackenzie'

'Dear D.L.,
  Thank you for teaching us how to be a author. I learned how to plan a story first and developing characters and parts of a story. Happy Halloween!!! Thank you!!
                                                           boo                       Thanks, Alyssa'

Dear Miss Deb,
  Thank you for coming yesterday and teaching us about being an Author! It was so nice of you for coming and showing us types of genres, developing characters, action verbs, different parts of a story and CONFLICT and struggles. I think it's really cool that your an author. I myself  (heart) reading!
                                                                                       Sincerely, Isabell'

'Dear Miss Deb,
  I have learned a lot about your presentation Thursday. I learned about developing characters, action verbs, different parts of a story and an author needs imagination. Thank you for teaching us and me. Also thank you for taking time out of your time and the treats.
                                                                                     Sincerely, Ariana'

'Dear Mrs. Larson,
   Thank you for inspiring us to read more, but most of all to be an author. You really touched my heart and taught me about so many different genres. Also thanks for teaching us how to write a story and what it takes to do it. I also learned about how to organize and plan a story and how to make them bigger. You were fun and I also wanted to thank you for the treats and the pencil. Hopefully you could come back soon, you were so much fun!!!
                                                                                 Thanks you, Alex'

'Dear Mrs. Larson, (the only one written in cursive!)
   Thank you for coming in to our class to teach us. I learned about creating interesting characters, action verbs, and different parts of a story. My class also learned about planning the story first. Happy Halloween!
                                                                                Thank you, Wes'

'Dear Miss Deb,
   I really appreciate you for coming to our school. You were so nice to us. I learned about all of the different genres, also you showed us how to make a story. I didn't know all these things but you teached us all more about a developing story, genres, characters and setting. Happy Halloween, from Aaron'

Feedback is always a good thing. I won't bore you with the other letters; they are very similar and written with an eagerness I sometimes forget young people have. I believe the two big words for the day were: genre and CONFLICT. So I feel I've planted a few seeds for these young writers.

I'm always revved up after I've done a kids workshop. The prep work and the implementation inspires me. So by helping others, I end up helping myself. I call that a win-win.

Hope their enthusiasm inspires you to write as well!

'Til next time ~


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Stormy Weather

Stormy weather sometimes comes in handy writers. Here are some ways:

1. Personal stormy weather - Sharing our own rough patches with others can help others make it through similar ordeals, and let them know they are not alone. Also, sometimes sharing can make us feel better.
2. Stormy weather writing -   Sometimes writing helps to take our minds off our troubles.
3. Meteorological stormy weather - What better way to describe thunder storms, lightning, strong winds, and other stormy weather than to get firsthand experience? It's not the most comfortable way, but we might as well put what we've observed to use in our books.

Can you think of other ways stormy weather comes in handy?

Find all of Morgan Mandel's books at
Twitter: @MorganMandel

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Judging Writing Contests! by DL Larson

Writing contests are beneficial for aspiring writers and seasoned writers. Hearing feedback from another writer is a great way to improve one's writing. If one is willing to listen and learn.

In a writing group I belong to, we had a discussion on the over use of 'now' and 'then'. I believe it started from an article in a writing magazine. Of course I can't find the article - why is that? I can find a dozen magazines, but the one I want is missing . . . Anyway, then and now are considered, usually, as construction words. Once the story is written, most of the 'then' and 'now' should come away without harm to the sentence structure. I noticed many 'then' and 'now' in the entries I read. I shared my newly remembered tidbit to the entrants.

Recently I received a critique on a section of my WIP. A few of my writing group members highlighted the 'then' and 'now' dotted across my work. It was one of those LOL moments. I will take their good advice and kick them off the page.

A few other common mistakes I found judging, I'd like to share:
1. Use past tense to keep the action moving. Ex: 'was running' = ran. 
     Passive verbs can not sustain suspense, intrigue or excitement. 

2. POV hopping. 
    Basic rule: keep one point of view to each scene.

3. Setting.
    Tell/show your reader where your character is at all times.

4. Plot
    Decide the purpose of the story. You don't have to know all the details from the unset, but if you don't have a clear understanding how your character needs to reach his/her goal, it shows on the page. Ask your character the tough questions: 
        - what does it take to succeed?
        - what are the stumbling block?
       - what is their deepest fear?
       - how will they grow in order to reach their goal?

5. Character Development
    Make your character(s) engaging. Bad guy or good guy - doesn't matter. Just make him/her real!
    Repeat this procedure with every character in your story.
    Character driven stories will propel your book in a direction you might not have intended. That's an   
    exciting thing. 

I thoroughly enjoyed judging the entries of the Four Season Contest, sponsored by Windy City RWA. Thank you all for allowing me to read your work. I hope the experience was rewarding for you.

'Til next time ~

Friday, October 30, 2015

Got Form?

So according to one source, the major forms of literary fiction tend to fall into one of three overall categories:


Other sources set the overall umbrella a little differently to include:

Graphic Novel
(Narrative) Poem/song
Short Story

Some lists include novel, novella and short story as a subset of Prose.  Another list also includes Flash Fiction, Novelette and Epic as subsets of prose in addition to the previous three.  So, what is a writer to take away from all of this?  Well, I think if you ask more than one person you’ll probably get more than one answer.  Just try searching via your favorite search engine to see the results that your search yields.  I’ll even wager that if you use different search engines you’ll get a wider and varying range of answers.

I think a compelling reason for defining form in the first place stems from when books were primarily available in print.  Think about it – print costs determined not only how much to charge for a book but was also done in an effort to manage reader expectations.  With eBooks it’s still an issue of managing reader expectations because if a reader knows that they’re starting a novella, which is typically defined as 17,500 to 50,000 words or 60-170 pages, they expect a different reading experience than say a novel which is over 50,000 words and typically ranges from 170 pages on up.  An epic work is over 680 pages!

I would also argue that longer books still tend to be priced higher even when they are in electronic format because they tend to have higher investment costs even if they aren't actually printed on paper.

Of course, with printed books the reader can see immediately how “big” or “small” the book is whereas with eBooks you do have to pay attention to the specifications listed for the book, typically at an online vendor's site.

According to one Wikipedia entry ( the following is a breakdown of word and page count for some of the prose categories listed above:

Flash Fiction = less than 2,000 words or approximately 5 pages
Short Story = 2,000 – 7,500 words or 5-25 pages
Novelette = 7,500 – 17,500 words or 25-60 pages
Novella = 17,500 – 50,000 words or 60-170 pages
Novel = 50,000 words or more or about 170 pages
Epic = 200,000 words or more or 680+ pages

The above lends some insight into the concept of anthologies to house the smaller count work as well as the creation of category fiction such as romance and certain mysteries.  So, got form? And, if so, do you know where and how you fit in?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

All In A Day! by DL Larson

Thursday is my day off. Thursday is my day to blog. Thursday is my day to run errands. And Thursday is my day to take my grandson to his horse riding lessons. I usually end each Thursday with one of two things: a church meeting or going to the local tavern for their Thursday night chicken special.

Today, I added one more thing. I had a writers workshop for a group of 5th and 6th graders at their school. The 9:00 a.m. schedule had me fearing I'd over sleep. But I made it in plenty of time. I never know what I'm walking into with a classroom setting. Some kids are genuinely excited to see me, others think it will be boring and their faces convey that to me. I hope I didn't disappoint anyone, especially the doubting ones.

I learned something new today. The 5th and 6th grade kids were not familiar with Harry Potter. I usually use this story to break down plot, characters, setting, etc. When we started this section of the workshop, blank looks filled the students' faces. They didn't know Harry's closest friends. They didn't know the bad guys. I was surprised. As a children's librarian I shouldn't have been so shocked. Harry has not left the shelves for a while now.

I needed a new connection with the kids. The class teacher, Lori Safranek, explained they were in the middle of reading the book, Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. Thankfully I have read Wonder. 

We proceeded with Wonder, the story of Augie, a fifth grader who has physical deformities. He goes to school for the first time in his life. Every day he encounters many things, rudeness being one of the nicer things that happens to him. But Augie won't give up. He wants a normal life like a normal ten year old boy.

This book turned out to be a great example for breaking down plot, learning what it takes to make a character real, etc. The kids got involved and that's what counted.

After my workshop, it was time for Colton's horse lessons. Then back home to playing with Thomas the Train and watching Planes. After my grandson's visit, I was ready for a nap. It's cold and dreary out, and did I mention I have a bum foot these days? I should prop it up. I also have judging to do for the Four Season Writers Contest. Judging is due next week and I'm far from done. My church meeting begins in seventy minutes.

I've realized Thursday is my busiest day of the week. I always think I will catch up on my writing, get the laundry done and maybe some cleaning. Okay, no cleaning ... but the day flies by in blur. My list of Things To Do never enters my mind.

I've decided my priorities need re-arranging for Thursdays. From this day forward, I declare Thursday, my day to do what I want! I intend to scratch my expectations of doing laundry on Thursdays. Cleaning has already been booted off the list, and my writing may suffer neglect on Thursdays, but that's okay too. I will try my best to blog each Thursday, but if you do not see my post, know that I am out living my life, doing things I need and want to do. Like horse back riding lessons, playing with Thomas the Train and watching Planes.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Friday, October 23, 2015

How much do you really know about writing genres?

We are encouraged to know many things about ourselves based on categories and numbers.  Medical professionals want us to know our weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and family medical histories; financial experts what us to know how much we need to save for retirement, our credit history and credit score.  But, ask writers how to classify their work according to genre and you will be surprised at how difficult this question is to answer.  There’s also the question of form but we’ll get to that another time.

So, how many writing genres are there?  Well, it seems like new ones are being created every year, something I attribute to skilled marketing practices and techniques to sell books.  Although, whether you are selling your work online or via a traditional bookstore, categorizing by genre is important to the seller in terms of knowing where to “shelve” your work.

Many, many years ago, most people knew that genres such as mysteries, romances, satires, and drama existed and later on science fiction, but these broad categories didn’t always lend themselves to helping readers discover authors that didn’t quite fit so neatly into these classifications, or dared to cross lines and blend two or more genres together. 

I remember back in the last century (okay it was in the 1990’s) recommending reading material from the romance genre to someone and that person looked aghast that I would even suggest such a thing, declaring that she only read literary fiction.  I asked if she had read any of Jane Austen’s work and she replied that of course she did, it was literary fiction after all - AND it was required reading when she was in school!  It’s also romance.

How many of us of a certain age remember the first time we read Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower?  For those of you who haven’t, it was a ground-breaking book in the publishing world for many reasons and not just because of its titillating content.

The romance novel as a genre has a longer history in the UK but around the 1980’s this genre boomed in the US and the idea of category romance novels and romance sub-genres took off.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Think you know your genre inside and out?  Think again.  How many of us remember the classification wars of Romantica vs. Erotica?

Here’s a link to taking a journey on the writing genre express:

You can also click on the links to the different genres and explore those definitions and examples.  I think you’ll find it fascinating and you might just discover a thing or two about your writing genre – or sub-genre - that you didn’t know.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Staying In Touch With Readers! by DL Larson

Although I don't have a new book out, I was invited to the Oswego Literary Festival at the Oswego Library on October 3rd. I debated whether I should go or not. I've nothing new or exciting to add to my collection of books, but I went anyway ... to keep my name and face in view of the public.

Pictured with me is Luisa Buehler, a cozy mystery writer. I met Luisa many years ago at a Windy City RWA meeting. Luisa has sold a lot of books over the years. She is well known in the Chicago area and beyond! We had a great time chatting and I'm always glad to sit by someone so knowledgeable about the writing field. Check out Luisa's home page and her Grace Marsden Mystery Series at:

On the right, is NY Best Selling Author Denise Swanson. Visit Denise at: These gals are active members of the Windy City RWA as well. And it was great to see their smiling faces throughout the day.

As a librarian, I know attending Literary Festivals is great publicity for an author, but not the best in making sales. And that's okay. A festival gives readers an idea of the many talented authors in their area. Plus readers have the chance to discover new writers they may not have noticed before. They have the opportunity to chat with authors and better understand the hard work that goes into being a writer.

I'm glad I took the time to attend the festival. A BIG thank you to the Oswego Public Library and to the Village of Oswego Cultural Arts Commission for hosting the event.

Til next time ~
DL Larson

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Through Someone Else's Eyes

Last night I brought the first page of my thriller, with the working title of Wide Awake, to be critiqued by my RWA Chapter, and I'm glad I did. It's amazing how everything that seemed so clear to me confused the other members.

Fortunately, I now know what to do to remedy the problem. Goes to show, it really helps to get fresh eyes looking over a manuscript.

I suggest you find at least a few people who are willing to start you out in the right direction, even if they don't have the time to read your entire manuscript. It will make all the difference!

Find all of my completed books at and
also excerpts and links at
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If you don't yet have your free copy of my first thriller, Two Wrongs, the ebook version is still available on Amazon at: and is also free at most other venues.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Biltmore Estate by Margot Justes

I just returned from visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, and I thought I'd share a few pictures with you. It is reputed to be the largest 'house' in the country with 255 rooms. The place is worth a visit, or two, or three...I'm heading back in November for their Christmas celebrations. 

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

Say It Isn't So!

Well, after only two years of operation, the e-book subscription service – Oyster – is “…taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service over the next several months.”

Joining this site was something I had intended to do – wonder how many others meant to and didn’t – but never got around to.  I’m trying out Kindle Unlimited and of course making maximum use of my local library resources for e-books, but Oyster held such promise.

According to the article in Publishers Weekly it appears that Google Books may be absorbing this service because staff members who worked at Oyster – including the CEO and co-founders - are moving over to work for Google.  Here’s the link to the article:

Many wonder if Google Books has future plans for its own e-book subscription service.  I haven’t explored Google Books yet but now it’s on my list of things to do, a list which never seems to shorten.

I’m a fan of competition that favors the consumer and with Oyster shuttering, or being absorbed by Google – if that is indeed what is happening – it’s not clear what this will mean for consumers.  Google and Amazon are two very powerful companies so it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.

Stay tuned.