Book Beat Babes

Book Beat Babes

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Settings by Margot Justes

The old adage write what you know and love is true, at least for me-but you should also learn while you write. It adds an additional dimension to the stories. A sense of wonder and discovery both for the reader and the writer.

I love to travel and have been fortunate to be able to visit the places I write about.

My first love is Paris, I lived there for a year, and have gone back a few times. It stood to reason that my first romantic mystery story should be set there.  I’m familiar with the city, and over the years little has changed in my perspective. The Louvre now has Pei’s Pyramid at the entrance, many more buildings have been added, but the age old charm is still very much there.

The charming cafes, the gardens, the historical buildings are all as they were. It is easy to write as if sitting in a cafe and observing life go by. That is especially true on the grandest  boulevard of them all, the Champs Elyssee. It’s easy to make the city come alive, it was my first love as a semi adult, and continues to this day. A grand love affair with the city of lights.

The second book, set in Bath, England was a bit more difficult, but I have visited twice, the second time, I spent a few days getting to know the city. The historical significance is amazing, after all the city is over two thousand years old, and dates back to the Romans.

Most information is available on line, but you need to be careful to select only the key points that are relevant to the story, otherwise it will turn out to be a travelogue within the story.  You need the ‘scent’ of the city, what does it feel like to walk the streets Jane Austen most probably walked. Stroll over lead pipes that the Romans built,  and imagine who else followed in those same footsteps. Who else prayed in the ancient Abbey, and who ate the Sally Lunn cakes, after all the restaurant dates back to the 1620’s.

The third book in the hotel cities is set in Venice, a city that has captured my heart and hasn’t let go.

It’s magic is potent, the architecture, history and art sublime. Every step taken is an amazing adventure in the past. Follow the path of Casanova, on which bridge did he wait in the cover of darkness for his rendezvous with a lover? Who else walked in those same footsteps? Who crossed the Bridge of Sighs-going from palace to prison?

A tourist trap to be sure, but there are places that few tourists visit, side streets, small canals, churches, all it takes is a sense of adventure and wonder, and a map. I get lost sometimes just crossing a couple of streets, and in Venice there are many curvy and meandering little alleys that will ultimately lead to water, and the getting lost process is rather enjoyable. I speak from experience.

Even though I write contemporary romance stories, I love history and art, and that is what I write, goes back to the beginning, write what you know and love. 

I have posted more extensive articles on the three cities on my website on the travel page.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Hotel in Venice by Margot Justes

I thought I'd share an excerpt of my new release A Hotel in Venice with you-a city that has captured my heart and soul.

          The stars seemed to follow the black gondola as it flowed along the
Grand Canal, and in the distance, a dark and narrow passage beckoned
for a romantic interlude.
            Iridescent shards glistened in the moonlight. The golden glow and
the ripples in the water reminded Minola Grey of Shelley’s poem
Love’s Philosophy. “And the moonbeams kissed the sea.” As the
gondola glided along the canal, the old palazzos, one building after
another, appeared to sway with the hushed tones of the lapping water.
Peter Riley had wanted some peace and quiet and asked the
gondolier to choose a less travelled way along a narrow and more
intimate path.
            “Welcome to Venice, Miss Grey.” Peter’s finger traced the line of
her cheekbone and then her neck. “I'm very much in love with you,” he
whispered in her ear and felt her lean into him. This was the way it
should be, just the two of them together. Alone. Nothing stood in their
way. They were in Venice for a wedding. Theirs. Minola loved glass
and art. Because of the Biennale Art Festival and Murano, another
island world-renowned for blown glass that was only fifteen minutes
away by water taxi, they had chosen Venice as the perfect destination.
            Minola Grey turned toward him and brushed her lips against his,
the touch whisper soft. “I’m very much in love with you, too.
Anywhere with you is romantic, but Venice is magnificent.
Incomparable,” she purred like a contented kitten, nestling deeper into
his arms and gazing across the canal.
            He was completely absorbed in the peaceful moment, until Minola
tilted her head away from him and murmured in his ear, “Peter. Isn’t
that strange?” She pointed above her head at the pier and stared at what
seemed like a mound of multi-colored mosaics. From her vantage
point, the glass appeared to be a colorful blanket. “It’s like a sculpture,
sort of.”
            “Miss Grey, may I remind you we’re in a gondola in Venice. The
moon is shining.” He ran his fingers over her cheek once again, his
touch firm and persuasive. “I’m caressing your face. We’re together.
You, Love of my Life, should be looking at me, not glass. I know, after
our visit to Murano, you have glass on your mind, but really, where is
your sense of romance?”
            “Peter, I’m sorry. I am romantic. You tell me I'm romantic when we
            “Love? Yes, you are. Passionate and romantic, you turn my world
upside down, and not just when we make love. However, now would be
a good time to slip into that romantic mood again.” His lips curved up
in a smile. He couldn't help himself. Everything she did made him
smile, with the exception of getting into trouble and endangering her
life. She had an uncanny talent for finding bodies, and the end result
terrified him.
            They had met in Paris. He was with Interpol, and his money
laundering case almost cost Minola her life. In Bath, her life was
threatened, and worse, he couldn’t control her impulse to help. Peter
loved his work—he excelled at it—but now he focused on keeping the
woman sitting beside him safe from harm. That was not as easy as it
appeared. She was a remarkable artist who knew how to get into
trouble and could never deny anyone’s cry for help.
            “But, Peter, it’s unusual. I know we’re on the Grand Canal. Well,
we turned and are now on this lonely, dark, narrow, and romantic
canal—okay, sort of an alley, except that this is Venice and it is a canal.
Just take a peek…” Minola Grey would not let go and pointed again to
the glass enclosure when she heard Peter groan.
            “I'm sorry. But…but…” She stuttered.
             “Minola, what am I going to do with you? We have moonlight, a
dark intimate canal in front of us, a lantern, and a gondolier who is not
going to sing to us. A perfect setting.”
            “Perfect setting? For what?” she asked, still captivated by the
colorful display on the pier, and she moved closer to the edge of the
gondola so she could see better.
            “You’re going to reduce my vocabulary to Arrgh.” Peter’s voice
sounded resigned. He motioned to the gondolier. “Roberto, please bring
us closer to that pile of glass, whatever it is.” Peter watched as the
gondolier expertly used his foot and a wall to push off so he could
maneuver his gondola as close to the pier as possible, allowing Peter to
step out. “Stay put,” he ordered as she tried to follow him. “I mean it.”
            He gazed back at her and frowned. “Stay.”
            Minola bristled at the order. “I'm not a doggie.” She glanced at his
resolute expression and grudgingly replied, “Fine. I won't budge.”
Minola settled back in the gondola and saw Peter bend down.
Tiny pieces of glass were molded together to form what appeared to
be a blanket for whatever was underneath. The center was well-crafted,
and the colors brilliant. The edges, not finished well, were sharp and
haphazard. Suddenly, he felt those goose bumps on the back of his neck
that told him more than just glass rested on the secluded dock.
            “I have a bad feeling about this,” he murmured.

A Hotel In Venice

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


Friday, August 7, 2015

Tools of the Trade

Because I work in the IT field I am often asked by a variety of people from various backgrounds and career fields what I think is the best option in terms of technology whether it is a choice of laptops, desktops, mobile devices or even if you need one of each.  For me the most important question to answer, or assessment to make, is what is your work flow process?

As writers that can vary from those who still use paper and pen to those who will only use technology, even if they don’t always remember to backup their work.  You know who those “I don’t backup anything” people are because when their hard drive crashes and that was the only place where their work “lived” their screams can be heard by everyone they know.  They have that panicked look in their eyes, tone in their voice or email because for them the world just ended.

So, choosing the best technology for your writing needs should result in technology choices that provide what you need that technology to do even if you don’t always remember to do what you need it to do – backups are a great example.  Recent advances in technology have made it easier to get your digital needs met but these advances have also made it easier for unethical and criminal elements to take advantage of us, so choose wisely.

In order to properly asses your technology needs as a writer it helps to understand the difference between hardware, software, online tools and the cloud.  These days all these components interface with each other and sometimes the decision in one of these areas will dictate your decision in another area.

If you’re looking at making some new technology purchases here are some resources to help your cull through some options:

I realize the focus of this next link is college students but hey, when you think about how college students behave – lots of writing, working multiple jobs, getting very little sleep – there is some common ground between them and us:

I also recommend going to brick and mortar locations if you’re lucky enough to have them nearby because sometimes it helps to physically touch and see what you’re considering to purchase, especially laptops.

So, get your geek on and get touchy feely in an appropriate and legal way before making those technology decisions.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Interview with Captain Bob Jornlin! by DL Larson

On July 2nd, I shared about my trip to visit the LST 325 in Evansville IN. I mentioned Captain Bob Jornlin and his experience with the restoration and return of the LST 325 to the United States. Today, I'm pleased to share an interview with him. His book is called, Bringing Home A Hero, and is available on


 You have delivered over 600 talks regarding your story with LST 325. 
Tell how that differs from writing your book?
 A big difference  -  A talk is generally limited to 30 or 40 minutes. One cannot fully tell the many 
fascinating, humorous, exciting, and dramatic happenings in a six month odyssey; nor can one 
describe the twenty-eight navy veterans with different war and life experiences, their talents, and 
personalities which made this voyage possible.

Your story deals with many different government agencies, 
from several countries. 
Tell how you managed to keep moving forward to get what you needed without anyone 
officially backing you and your men.
If I tell you how I did this, I will have to kill you! Seriously, first I had a group of really good men that were 
breaking their backs getting this old ship into some kind of running condition. That is except one, 
a Mr. M and we made him walk the plank, or a real life mutiny happened. These men got the respect 
of our Ambassador to Greece, Nickolas Burns. Then the Greek Officers and men could not believe 
how hard these men worked or was it how hard they played on liberty after working hours were over!
 I learned right away as we have found out so recently – Senate and Congressmen have absolutely no control 
or say as to what the U.S. State Department does! I put my head down and just continued pushing as if 
I did not hear “NO.” Many of my crew, average age 72, couldn’t hear either!

What was the most rewarding part of dealing with these government officials? 
What was the most exasperating?
 Rewarding – getting a letter (To Whom It May Concern) with a red wax seal on the bottom from the Consul 
General of the United States saying this ship was ours, and to extend all courtesies and privileges to the Captain!  Exasperating – having the U.S. State Dept. stall us for a month to approve the paperwork for us to sail. 
This put us crossing the North Atlantic in the winter time.

You mentioned the older vets knew how to fix the LST 325 and younger service men did not.
Most of my crew had spent three years on an LST in WWII or the Korean war. The crew was split into 
mainly two Depts., engineering and deck. Some of these men (after their Navy service) continued on in 
civilian life as engineers, electricians, mechanics, etc. Several had made a career out of the Navy serving 
20 plus years. One ran/owned a 500 million dollar/yr. company. One put the elevators in the space needle in 
Seattle for the World’s Fair. Every one was very successful, self starters, and smart.

Many people don’t realize you and the retired vets fulfilled this expedition with your own money. 
Everyone assumed the U.S. Government helped finance this endeavor. We know now, they did not. 
How much money do you think each volunteer spent to bring the LST 325 home?
The plane ticket to Crete, Greece cost each $650.00. Each kicked in $1600.00 for their share of the food and fuel estimated to sail her home. Each one also kicked in $600.00 in a ‘slop fund’ which you could draw from for beer, pop, candy, gum, etc. Everyone also had to pay out of their pocket for anything spent off the ship on liberty. Many spent their own money for tools and small parts for the ship. I will guess the average man spent an additional $10.00 per day. Some spent more buying souvenirs, ice cream, and beer!

You have recently given up your commission as Captain. Please share with us your thoughts and reasons for this. How long have you been Captain of the LST 325?
I was Captain for 14 years and two months! I had a good life before the LST and thought it was time 
to slide back into that former time. We had a very good river pilot that came along, who took an interest in the ship, and agreed to be Captain. My wife, Lois, and I both spent almost 100% of our time dealing 
with one problem after another. Many e-mails, phone calls, and events seemed to always come at the same time as a family or friends outings. We were expected to go to the ship’s affairs. We met many great people 
we would never have known without the ship. We have a second family.

Will the LST 325 be moving away from its dock in Evansville, Indiana any time soon? 
If so, where does it plan to go?
Yes, the LST takes a trip every fall up a river or down. It will leave Evansville August 27 for Pittsburgh, PA. It will be open for tours Sept. 2 thru 8. Then turn back down the Ohio River to Cincinnati where it will be 
open again for tours from Sept. 12 thru 16. Then it will return to Evansville arriving Sept. 19, 2015. Evansville remains our home port.

How does one go about visiting the LST 325?  
We have a web sight, a very good one, at Presently it is open seven days a week in Evansville, IN. Monday through Saturday from 10.00 AM to 4:00 PM. Sunday from 12:00 noon to 4:00 PM. Check website for winter hours.
 The LST gives a guided tour which takes about one hour; cost is $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids ages 6 to 18. Family ticket is $20.00  (Mom, Dad, and two  kids under 18)

 Do you plan to write another book?
 My wife says NO.  If I do, it will be about the LST after arrival in Mobile to now.

Is there anything you would like to share with us?

 Yes – Buy the book please and the final rewrite of the movie script has arrived in Los Angeles 
at the producers. Please keep your fingers crossed. Thank you for allowing me to tell everyone some of the 
thoughts and insights of ‘Bringing Back A Hero.’

Thank you, Bob!
Visit Captain Jornlin at

To purchase a copy of Bringing Back A Hero, visit

Til next time ~

DL Larson

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hailey's Chance Is Out!

Hailey's Chance is now ready for your enjoyment at:

Here's what this Christian Women's Fiction story is about:
 Bursting with anticipation, Hailey awaits the arrival of her first child. Then, one morning, the unthinkable happens, turning her joy to grief.

 When her neighbor offers a startling suggestion, Hailey’s torn. Should she take a chance? The offer is tempting, yet if something goes wrong, she’d be wide open for more heartbreak.

This standalone novella is a prequel to the previously released Christmas Carol. Both are set in the fictional small town of Deerview, Wisconsin.


                   CHAPTER ONE - JUNE 27
Will this day ever end?
Hailey Burke shifted her weight behind the checkout counter at Deerview Foods and turned to the next customer. At sight of the tight tank top, short shorts, and tats running up and down the arms of her former classmate, Lynn Manning, Hailey flashed a welcoming smile.
Sure, the dishwater blonde’s coal black eyeliner and matching lips seemed extreme, but appearances were deceptive. Inside lurked a sweet and loyal soul. Too bad Lynn had chosen troublemaker, Billy Wallace, as the object of her affections.
Thinking back to their high school senior year, when Billy had tripped the fire alarm to get out of taking a math test, Hailey resisted a chuckle. He sure was a character. It’s a wonder he’d graduated with the rest of them.
Five years had passed since then, yet nothing much had changed. Enough tourists drifted into town to keep businesses going, but not enough to make anyone rich. Jobs might be scarce, but Deerview was where Hailey was born and would stay, alongside her hubby, Ryan.
“How’s it going, Lynn?” Hailey pretended not to notice the home pregnancy test sliding past her on the conveyor belt between the frozen pizza and the cold cereal.
“Same old, same old,” Lynn said, her eyes lingering on Hailey’s belly. “Say, aren’t you about due? How much longer?”
“A month, give or take a few weeks.” At the thought of finally seeing and touching her baby, Hailey’s heart soared and her smile widened.
“Looks like you can hardly wait.”
“You’ve got that right. It’s no fun carrying this extra load, but it will all be worth it.”
“Your child will be so lucky.”
“No, we’re the lucky ones.”
At Lynn’s wistful look, Hailey felt a pang of pity. If Lynn’s test proved positive, life would not be easy for her. She’d get small support from her single mother, who existed in a drunken haze, nor knucklehead Billy, the likely father.
This book is available for Amazon Kindle purchase, or borrow from Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited at


Find all of Morgan Mandel's Romances, Mysteries,

Thrillers, and Women's Fiction on Amazon on;
Excerpts on: