Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My baby isn't perfect

Okay, I knew it probably wasn't, but since I'm it's mother I still hoped it was. I brought in my first 20 pages of Forever Young to be critiqued at our meeting Monday night.

The result is now I see areas I can make better. I've discovered new ways I can go with my story. Finding these things out before my manuscript goes to an editor is a good thing. So, for the rest of the night, actually maybe 45 minutes, I spent looking over the comments on the written critiques.I'll be going over them more tonight.I'm excited about  trying out the changes and making the story stronger.

What about you? Do you rely only on your own judgment, or do you let your baby be examined by others? Do you pay attention if someone says it's not perfect?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy 101 Award

Thank you, Helen Ginger, for awarding me the Happy 101 Award. Now that it's a bit more sunny out and we're expecting a warmer temperatures later this week, I am feeling in a happy mood. Spring weather looks like it's arriving.

One of the requirements for accepting this award is to post 10 things that make me happy and then to pass it along to 5 other bloggers.

My Ten are:

1. My family, including my husband, my brothers and their families.
2. My dog, Rascal - I can't resist trying to make her happy also. She's too cute to resist. I'm afraid I spoil her a bit.
3. My Chicago-North RWA friends - I love hanging out with them at the meetings, also learning from them.
4. Connecting with my online friends - I enjoy sharing my thoughts and reading theirs.
5. Getting comments on my blogs - Comments show that people are coming over, also they give me more ideas I wouldn't have thought of on my own. I like to make new friends by visiting blogs from people who comment on mine.
6. Autographing my books - I feel like a real author when I get to sign books for readers.
7. Finishing writing a manuscript - It's wonderful when I can say my book is ready for the world.
8. Eating foods like pizza, ice cream, gyros.  
9. Playing slots at the casino. When I win, I feel happier, but I still am happy playing when I lose.
10. Shopping. Finding purses and costume jewelry I like, finding clothes that fit, shoes that fit.

And now to pass on the award. There are so many great bloggers. This time I pick:
Christine Verstraete
Marilyn Brant
L. Diane Wolfe
Lillie Ammann
Mary Welk

PS I have some other awards that I received earlier, was going to pass them on, but never got around to it. That's why I decided to do this one right away, so I wouldn't get lazy. I hope to get to the others soon.

By the way,
 Do any of the things I mentioned also make you happy?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Barking at a Bag

This morning when I was walking Rascal, it was still pretty dark, compliments of Daily Savings Time. We turned the corner, she looked and started barking. I saw nothing scary, only a white trash bag, with its top blowing in the wind.

Apparently, since her eyes are not as good as mine (I have the advantage of glasses), what she saw looked menacing.

It was around 6:15 a.m. and not a good idea for a dog to be barking loudly and waking people up on a Sunday morning, so I brought her up to the bag so she could see it was nothing to be afraid of. Once she got close, she calmed down and stopped barking.

We can do something similar in a manuscript, but not be as kind to our readers as I was with Rascal. Present a problem to our characters. Let them get worried about a hopeless situation, then make it even worse. When it all seems hopeless, somehow make everything okay - that is, unless you don't want it to be.

The ending is up to you. Maybe you want something horrible that won't go away inside that bag. Thank goodness, that wasn't the case this morning with Rascal.

What scary things have you presented to your readers in one of your manuscripts? Or, maybe you particularly liked what someone else did. You don't have to tell us the ending. Let us be scared and read to find out if it will all be okay.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Words of Wisdom For Me?

If you're in the area on Sunday, March 28, come join me at the Niles Public Library, 6960 W. Oakton, Niles,Illinois at 1:30, when I'll discuss Social Networking for Fun and/or Promotion.

As I've mentioned, Sunday I'm doing a program at the Niles Public Library about Social Networking for Fun and/or Promotion.

You still have a chance to include your words of wisdom. Send me a comment about social networking, what are your likes or dislikes, what's your favorite, a special how-to, or whatever you want. I just might include your comment in my program, so make sure to leave your name and blogspot or website!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Backup Plan

If you're in the area on Sunday, March 28, come join me at the Niles Public Library, 6960 W. Oakton, Niles,Illinois at 1:30, when I'll discuss Social Networking for Fun and/or Promotion.

Your computer is infected. You stand the chance of losing everything you spent so long to put on there. That's not the time to be considering a backup plan, but I confess to being guilty.

About three weeks ago, the DH clicked on a link on our home computer resulting in havoc. All kinds of messages popped up about spyware on the computer. We knew better than to click on them and instead kept shutting the machine down. Those insistent messages still popped up, so we had to call McAfee to get the situation resolved.

We were lucky. The technician knew what to do, removed the offending program and the computer, with all our precious information stored on it, was saved.

Unfortunately, it's not always that simple. Years ago, when we had our first computer, we ran into a nasty virus. The only way to use the computer again was to wipe everything off and start fresh.

I keep meaning to implement a backup plan and really need to do so. I've paid for Flickr and have some photos stored on there. I also have an account at Adobe.com where I can store photos. I just haven't gotten around to doing so. I do have almost every photo I've ever taken still on memory cards, plus many are accessible on the Net, still I really need to get more organized in the event of catastrophe.

I send my works in progress to my alter-email almost every day just in case, so I don't lose them. Still, I've got lots of other documents stored in my computers which I'd hate to lose, yet I've not bothered to protect them. I need to get a system going and do that before it's too late. I have an external hard drive. I just need to bother and get it done, although to be really safe I should probably also send my documents off online to somewhere like DataSafe, which Dell recommends. Even that isn't foolproof. What if the company went out of business? Still, it would be better than not taking any action.

What about you? Do you have a Backup Plan? Do you use it?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Who Gets Aries Rising?

I'm happy to announce the winner of Bonnie Hearn Hill's Aries Rising is:

                      MARGAY ROBERGE !!!!!

Thanks to everyone who participated with your comments, and thanks to Bonnie Hearn Hill for being my guest and generously providing her book as a prize.

I'll be offering more giveaways here from time to time.

Also, check out http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com/ .
March 26 marks the 3 year birthday of our group blog. We will be doing giveaways there on more than one day to celebrate.

Lastly, Have you ever looked for one thing and found another? Tell us about it at my blog post below.


Looking for one thing and finding another

This morning, I noticed one of my pens had fallen apart in my purse. I figured I'd look for the missing parts later.

Then, I decided to write checks for some credit card bills with my other pen. I finished that, but I wanted a paper clip to keep the bills together, since I planned on going to the bank and paying them on the way to work. So, I dug on the bottom of my very crowded purse to see if any paper clips could be had.

Instead of a paper clip, I came up with the top of the pen, in a spot unexpected, since it was on the other side of the purse, separated by lots of other items. I dug in again and found a spring, still no paper clip. I was happy to put the pen back in shape to be used later, and decided I really didn't need a paper clip after all.

This happened to me while writing Forever Young, which is still under construction. I needed a fix to get the story moving, but it eluded me. Originally I intended to include a slew of characters. Still, the ones I thought I'd include didn't quite fit. I couldn't figure out where they belonged.

I expanded the role of a confidante who had been barely skimmed over and buried in the story. By doing that, I discovered an entirely new direction for the novel. Now, the story will be more cohesive. I don't need those other characters, but they won't go to waste. I plan on using them later, perhaps in an anthology, or novels of their own.

What about you? Have you looked for one thing and found another, either in life or in writing?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tipoff at Acme and Announcement Soon

The announcement of the winner of Bonnie Hearn Hill's book, Aries Rising, will be happening shortly. In the meantime, if you'd like, you can hop over to http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com/ and read about The Tipoff.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Please Welcome My Guest, Mystery Author, Bonnie Hearn Hill

Contest Alert: Be sure to leave a comment with your name and email address here. One lucky person will win a copy of Aries Rising.

Bonnie Hearn Hill, a newspaper editor in a past life, is the author of Intern and five other adult thriller novels. She teaches writing in Fresno, California and an occasional online class for authorlink.com She also mentors writers and speaks at numerous writing conferences.

Here's a few questions thrown to her about her mentoring:
Q. I know you have chosen to teach and mentor other writers. Who are your most outstanding students?

A. I can't answer that. Would it be Hazel Dixon-Cooper who got a six-figure advance for two humorous astrology books and went on to be the Cosmopolitan magazine astrologer? Or would it be Gloria Salas, a fourth-grade dropout/genius, who sold her first confession and ran through the grocery store, screaming to everyone in line, "I wrote this. This is my story." ?

Q. Any other student success stories?

A. More than I can recount here. I do recall one young guy back in the early '90s who didn't understand that his point-of-view was bouncing all over the place. I kept writing, "VP," on his manuscript, and he kept moving his story higher on the page. He thought I was writing, "UP." Happy ending, though. His book, PRISON SHIP, was published this year by Ace. His name is Mike Bowers, and he told me the book was accepted pretty much as I edited it ten years before. He had lost faith in it and asked me to tell other writers, "Don't give up the way I did."

For more from Bonnie, check out:


Here's a little something about Bonnie's Latest Release -

ARIES RISING -By Bonnie Hearn Hill
First of the Star Crossed Series from Running Press/Perseus Books

When Terra Bella Beach student Logan McRae discovers Fearless Astrology, all she wants is to win a writing fellowship for the summer to Monterey, and maybe catch the interest of Nathan, the senior she’s kissed only once. He seems more interested in Geneva, the tall, blond Libra editor of the school newspaper—until Logan uses some Leo-pleasing flattery on him. Nathan seems to be coming around, but Logan still has to convince Mr. Franklin, her gruff Taurus English teacher, that she deserves the fellowship.

Frankenstein says she doesn’t put enough of herself in her writing. She tries to appeal to him with homemade brownies. That falls flat, but her opportunity presents itself when the Gears, a group of boys causing mischief at school, streaks her friend Chili’s backyard while Logan, Chili, and Paige, are in the spa.

The Gears also paint nasty things about the Capricorn journalism teacher, Ms. Snider, on the wall at school. Logan decides to identify them using astrology. Frankenstein is intrigued.

Logan is Aquarius with a Pisces Moon. Pretty mellow, but her Aires Rising gives her some Fire. She decides to put it to work to get what she wants. With the fellowship—and Nathan—hanging in the balance, she resolves to trap the Gears on the night she is certain that they will strike again. It is a risky scheme that involves Calypso, a dress mannequin that the girls have dressed up to resemble Logan.

What Logan has failed to see in the stars is someone with a more deadly motive. Then suddenly, the stakes increase, and there’s more at risk than any of the threats by the Gears.

Buy Link for Bonnie's Book - http://www.amazon.com/Star-Crossed-Bonnie-Hearn-Hill/dp/0762436700

One last question, Bonnie -

Q. I'm a Leo. What does that say about me as a writer?

A. Leo is one of my favorite signs, if only because you have such fabulous hair (manes). You're ruled by the Sun, and that light probably shows on your face. You are probably also extremely talented. Your challenge may be to decide what you really want to write, as opposed to what gives you a quick ego fix. Go for the long-term high.

Thanks for letting me visit your blog on my 31 Days of Aries.

Can't find Bonnie? Then you're not looking!
Here's a few spots to try -


Aries Rising, March 2010
Taurus Eyes, Summer 2010
Gemini Night, Fall 2010

Please welcome Bonnie by leaving a comment and your email address. You may be the lucky winner of Aries Rising - check her website/facebook pages for details on an ITouch contest.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Going, Going, Almost Gone

That snow we got Saturday morning is beginning to disappear, at least on the sidewalks and on some of the shrubs and trees. The grass will take longer.

Anyway, I'm glad to see it's leaving. This means I can walk to the train again in my gym shoes next week and not worry about slipping on ice or snow. That is a big plus because I for one definitely need the exercise.
How's it doing in your corner of the world?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Say It Isn't Snow

It's Back Again, and I'm not happy. Neither is Rascal. She took one look and I had to force her out the door. Can't blame her. We've had enough of the wet, white stuff for this year. I'm hoping it leaves real soon.

What about you? Would you like to keep some around, or would you prefer it be banished, at least until next December?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Technical Assistance

I need stock in that Go to Assist. I'm not sure if it's part of Windows or some kind of special software. All I know is, it's been in use in my household lately.

Last weekend, I had the spyware virus thing, with the messages popping up about how I better install special spyware or all hell would break loose. I knew better than to fall for that, but unfortunately, it kept getting in the way, even though I hadn't clicked on it. So, McAfee and $89.95 later, with the Assist software taking over my computer, that was fixed.

Tuesday night, I got a message on my computer that the Dell Network Assistant software had expired. If I clicked the button, I could renew it at a cost of $39.95. When I refused, the network shut off. Since I was fortunate enough to have purchased a gold support plan when I bought my computer, Wednesday night I got the offending software off with the aid of the technician, again taking over my machine. She assured me I didn't need it to connect and she was right.

What fun! How can a person get anything done with all these roadblocks. Well, I'm trying anyway. I've got almost everything together for my Niles Public Library program on March 28, plus I'm plugging along on my thriller, Forever Young.

What about you? Have you had experiences with technical assistance, or are you a computer genius and can figure such stuff out yourself?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On Being Part Irish

Well, I'm part Irish, but I'm also part Italian, English, German, and French. So, I get to wear green for St. Patrick's Day, and red for St. Joseph's Day.

I have no idea what colors to wear or when to wear them for my other nationalities. Does anyone else know? It's okay if you don't. You could just tell me if you wear green for St. Patrick's Day and/or red for St. Joseph's Day.

Or, if you want, you could go over to http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com/ Wednesday and read my blog about Handouts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Comment at Make Mine Mystery on Monday to Enter the Drawing

My guest, Kensington Roth, is offering a drawing for a free copy of his spy thriller, Able Danger on Monday.
Come on over to http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/ for details on how to be eligible.

Morgan Mandel

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Are You In With The In Crowd?

This past week I felt like I was definitely in with the in crowd. That's because I heard tons of commercials for Turbo Tax and H and R Block. Guess what I was doing?

Okay, if you've read my blogs before, you already know the answer. I was getting my tax papers organized. That's not an easy thing for me, since my methods are not recommended. I used to be able to balance my checkbooks, but have given up on that idea. I do type out my registers in Excel, so they're easier to subtract and read.

I use more than one charge card for author and publishing expenses, mainly because I can't resist getting those Amazon credits. I also have a business card which I use when going to dinner meetings, plus an older charge card which has automatically deducted my web hosting and provider fees for years. (That's right, you may be surprised to know I do have a website at http://www.morganmandel.com/ . It's got lots of stuff on it, but is not updated as often as my blogs)

I'm veering off course on ths subject. Anyway, I did it! I've got all my income tax stuff ready in the nick of time. We're heading off to the accountant this afternoon. I'm thankful I only go through this once a year.

For those who can use Turbo Tax, I salute you. I'm afraid I'm too far gone now into using an accountant. I don't know half of what she does with depreciation and other mysterious concepts.

Anyway, I did better than last year. Last year I had to skip my Step Class so I could finish organizing it all.. Today, I was fortunate enough to go to my class and suffer through another grueling session of trying to get fit. Aren't I lucky!

What about you? Are you in with the in crowd? Are you doing your taxes, or have you finished them?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forever Young

I'm working on Forever Young, my Boomer thriller about a widow who takes pills which take her back from age 55 to age 25. I've put aside my children's book about Rascal, because I don't have time for both. Spring Fling Conference is on April 23 and my manuscript is only half done.

So, I'll be posting here and there when I can. I invite you to mention your work in progress in the comment section, if you wish.

Monday, March 08, 2010

What's Your Favorite Social Network? Why?

On March 28, I'm speaking about Social Networking for Fun and/or Promotion at the Niles Public Library. I can tell people what I think, but what do you think? Tell me  What's your Favorite Social Network? Why?

Let me know and I may mention you in my speech.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

When and Where to Prune

Wednesday evening I was watching a show called Chicago Tonight on WTTW in Chicago. Phil Ponce interviewed an expert from the Chicago Botanical Garden.

One of the topics was it's not too early to prune. Right now, you can look for spots dead or damaged from winter and cut them off.

That said, she also mentioned you need to know your plants and bushes. With some of them, it's better to wait until they've fully flowered before pruning them, or else you may cut off where the flowers were going to bloom.

Of course, the topic reminded me of editing. I have the terrible habit of editing too closely when I'm writing my manuscript. I should be eliminating the obvious mistakes, then going on to the finish line. Then I can go back and remove or rearrange what doesn't work. When it's all done and I believe I've done my best, I'll hand it over to a professional editor, like Helen Ginger, who did a great job editing my romantic suspense, Killer Career

Anyway, for now, I'll keep reminding myself to forge ahead. Let's see if it works.

What about you? Do you know when and where to prune?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Check Out the Ask the Editor Free For All

Today, we're hosting the Ask The Editor Free For All at http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/

Got a question for an editor? Pop on over and leave it in the comment section, and one or more of the editors will provide an answer also in the comment section.  Leave your website or blogspot along with your name. If the answer to a question needs to be explained at length, one of our editors will devote an entire blog to it later.

Don't miss a chance for this free promo. Last count, The Blood Red Pencil had 674 followers.

Get on over and ask your question.