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Friday, December 11, 2009

Tea at the Chicago Peninsula Hotel by Margot Justes

During the holiday season we do something special, this year it was tea at the Peninsula hotel.

We arrived at the hotel on time, but because the staff was still setting up our table and the kiddies were tired and hungry, I asked the hostess if we could have a couple of pieces of bread to feed said munchkins, she graciously said yes.

We never saw the bread, now she could have said we can’t, it’s not possible, but she said yes and promptly ignored us. We were seated about ten minutes later and I reminded the waiter that we ordered the Peninsula teddy bear for the kids. I asked that it be brought with their order. I was assured it would be. It wasn’t.

I expected the bear to be wrapped up nicely, maybe even just a bow, something to make it a bit more special. Nope. Nothing. It was just handed to them when they were half way done with their meal.

The food was excellent, plentiful and the scones the best I’ve had since England, the presentation was superb. My grandson let out a big ‘Wow’ when he saw his plate. I’m sure everyone in the lobby heard him. He was delighted as was my granddaughter.

But the service was slow, uneven and disappointing, we waited quite a while for a refill on the hot water, and when you’re munching on those delicious finger sandwiches you do want that hot tea to be right there to sip as you munch.

The Peninsula is a 5 star hotel the prices match the rating however the service falls short. If I order a meatloaf at a diner, my expectation is not perfection, not even close however when I’m at a place like the Peninsula, my level of expectation rises a notch or two or three, it is commensurate with the numbers of stars.

I love high tea and have had it all the Chicago downtown hotels that offer it, and by far I have enjoyed the Drake Hotel the best.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving by Margot Justes

Between scheduled events every weekend this month and working, November slipped by and seemed to disappear.

I do want to acknowledge an incredible holiday, one where at least this time of year we give thanks, and no matter how tough it is out there, we still have something to be thankful for.

I’ve been blessed with a loving family and great friends-friends I’ve kept for many years- decades, and new friends and acquaintances I’ve made since I started writing. My world has only gotten richer, and I’m thankful. I’m not cooking on Thursday, that tradition now belongs to my older daughter, but given the special holiday, we celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday at our house as well.

On that note, I would like to wish everyone a truly happy and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ivan Mestrovic by Margot Justes
















Split has many treasures and one that was a delightful find for me was sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. His work can only be described as monumental, towering, imposing and beyond life size.

His home, a villa that sits on a hill overlooking the Adriatic is, as the saying goes, beautifully situated. Converted to a museum, the home is surrounded by luxurious gardens, one could not ask for a more creative muse. Everywhere you turn, the view is magnificent.

The small more intimate museums like the Mestrovic museum do not leave you breathless and harried but instead leave you with a sense of greater awareness of the treasures shown, and I was enthralled.

Mestrovic worked in bronze, marble and wood. I enjoyed the wood pieces the most, the work seemed more defined, gentler and tactile. No, I did not touch, but I wanted to. His bronzes spoke of power, survival and dominance, the marble pieces on the other hand were romantic, flowing with gentle curves, yet dominant and compelling. You were left with a sense of wonder at the dynamic strength and sheer size of his sculptures. These are my impressions.

Born in 1883, he lived through wars and religious upheavals, his work reflected the times. He died in the US in 1962. There is a great deal of information available on his art and life, and just to give you a glimpse of some of his work, I posted pictures.

Chicago, a city well known for its love of art, has two magnificent, gigantic pieces sculpted by Ivan Mestrovic, The Bowman and The Spearman; perfectly positioned at the Congress Plaza entrance to Grant Park.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3






Friday, November 6, 2009

The Palace by Margot Justes











My fascination with ruins is relatively recent. My first trip to Athens a few years ago got me started. Age may have something to do with it, I look at history with a bit more depth now and ruins are the ultimate show and tell in history, at least for me.

You can see how a society lived, the order that existed and your imagination takes root at the endless possibilities. I wonder if I’m stepping where a scholar stepped, walk the path of a Roman Soldier, an Emperor, the possibilities of historical footsteps are endless, and as a writer that appeals to me.

Diocletian’s Roman Palace is just such a place, filled with history, well preserved, just simply magnificent. His retirement home was built near the place of his birth, Salona close to Split and was ready for his occupation in 305 AD.

It is massive, a fortress as well as a palace originally with entrances on three sides, two on land, one from the sea. Incredibly well preserved and to this day it blends in with centuries of various architectural styles, and the best part, it is woven in with the contemporary life style. People live and work in this gigantic remnant, this incredible relic of ancient Rome.

We were given an impromptu concert-for lack of a better description-in a rotunda, its top long gone, but the sound of the voices echoed thought out and rose to the heavens, poignant Croatian folk songs stirred the emotions of the people standing and listening enthralled to the angelic voices. A memory never to be forgotten.

I'll be in Galena Saturday signing A Hotel in Paris, at Book World, if you're in the area please stop by and say hello. The CBRNE threat presentation is posted on my website.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3





Saturday, October 24, 2009

Split by Margot Justes












There are many pluses to cruising; it is a great way to visit many places, see many things, there is no checking in and out of hotels and the luggage stays put. You spend a few hours in the port you happen to be visiting, get a feel for the local pulse, see as much as you can, go back to the ship and you’re ready for the next adventure.

Sort of like the movie ‘If this is Tuesday it must be Belgium’ except there you had something like seven cities in seven days and you had the luggage sightseeing with you.

With the visit to Split, Croatia, there was a drawback to cruising-I wanted to stay longer as in a few days not a few hours. Split is enchanting, beautiful, ancient yet modern and the two co-exist beautifully. It is the only city that I have ever visited with a living museum.

Why call it a living museum? Because it is a Roman Palace dating back to 305 AD designated a World Heritage Site in 1979 and it is still being used today by merchants, shop keepers and residents in apartment buildings and let’s not forget the many tourist that visit. All within the walls of the palace.

Split not only has a magnificent ancient building but also striking contemporary architecture. It is a stylish, delightful, vibrant city. A leisurely stroll on the gorgeous wide avenue bordering the Adriatic Sea is a must. They haven’t gone the Euro way-Croatia has its own currency the Kuna and seemed like a thriving industrious town, very aware of the tourist trade and the impact on its economy.

One interesting thing I found out from our tour guide-the cravat-otherwise know as a tie, originated in Croatia not Italy or France.

Croatia was never on my list of must see places but it is now. I will go back to Split, but will include Dubrovnik and Pula as well. If I hadn’t gone on the cruise, I would never have seen Split. Cruising is a wonderful way to ‘discover’ the world one wonder at a time and you can decide if a specific place is worth a more thorough visit.

More about Roman Emperor Diocletian and his palace in the next blog.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3






Saturday, October 17, 2009

Friends by Margot Justes

I might have mentioned that my daughter did a presentation for Sisters in Crime October 3rd. She did a fantastic job, discussing CBRNE, and if you want to know what CBRNE is all about, the entire presentation will be posted on my website (hopefully in a couple of days). Scientists speak in Acronym, I may be generalizing here, but I don’t think so.

At any rate, we had a couple of friends show up to support Dina; they have watched her grow up and are more family than anything else, but most assuredly great friends. We go back decades.

During her speech, I did learn a few things, among them; I don’t really want to know what Dina is doing. It is frightening. But I also realized how important friendships are, and as I get older, I am prioritizing the world around me and the things I want to do before my body tells me ‘stop, you’re done’. The change has been on-going, in fact since I started writing, but really came full force that Saturday.

Our great friend George took us out to lunch and it was delightful; so delightful in fact that we stayed at the restaurant for almost four hours. We caught up on events in our lives, we discussed our travels, and George pays attention to absolutely everything, sees everything he can and learns as much as he can about the places he’s visiting. I consider him the ultimate traveler, and no matter what age, he continues to learn.

I decided to simplify my life, I no longer buy ‘stuff’ just to have it, there has to be a purpose and it better be a good one. I still buy the occasional piece of art, and I admit the walls are cluttered, but I don’t change my art; the first piece I bought decades ago is hanging in the living room and I still love looking at it. Finally after all these years, I own an Earle serigraph (he deserves a one name moniker) I want another, his work is amazing and I love it.

But, I realized that weekend what is important and what I want to do for the rest of my able life. I really want to travel, learn about others, how they live, what they value and why, I want to spend time with family and friends, help where I can. Simplicity is good, recognizing and valuing great friends is terrific.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And So It Goes by Margot Justes

Does anyone feel like they are continuously behind schedule and there is never enough time to finish everything… this week between work and my personal life, I had a melt down by the time I got home after seven yesterday. My typical weekday starts at 5am, my friend Lillian and I have our 2.67 mile walk, (every fraction counts) then I get ready for work, the job that actually pays the bills; this is by way of an explanation.

I had an appointment to get my hair cut on Wednesday, wrote it down for Thursday, showed up and surprisingly my hair stylist wasn’t there, she was downtown having fun and there I was, expecting to get my hair cut. The nerve.

I apologized profusely, and she was kind enough to squeeze me in Friday, I did show up and on time.

The fridge seemed to be saying feed me, feed me, so I went food shopping; it was getting sparse in there, you can only drink so much old orange juice. By the time I got home I was not a happy camper, it was late, I was hungry and just plain tired.

The computer waited to be turned on. I swear everything seems to be developing a willful personality around me, at any rate, the guilt was there, but not the initiative, nothing got done, I sat in front of the TV, watched Numbers, and promptly dozed off.

Today seems to be going well; I’m productive and even made a pot of barley mushroom soup, wrote this blog and I feel sooo much better now, till next time, and there will be a next time, hopefully not so pronounced.

In the meantime, I asked my web gal if she could add a couple of pages to my website, so that pictures of Bath and Venice could be posted, she said yes, so another project got added on top on everything else, and so it goes…but I promise, I’m working on my stuff from Venice and the Greek Islands.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Venice by Margot Justes

I came back from my ‘vacation’ with what I thought was a bad cold, but it turned out to have been an infection, one I’m still fighting. That is by way of explaining why I haven’t looked at all the prints yet and why not much has been done by me the last couple of weeks.

However, if you’re thinking of visiting Venice, I can recommend the best investment you will ever make-buy the Actv pass, for whatever length of time you choose, depending entirely on your length of stay.

Get off the plane and right in the airport you can buy the pass-that will allow you to travel by bus or the Vaporetto, a public transport system that travels across the Grand Canal and will even take you to other islands, like Murano; my favorite mode of transportation other than walking. A three day pass is less than fifty dollars, and it is money well spent.

Let me tell you about money not so well spent, or at least I didn’t think so at the time and maybe I still don’t.

Piazza San Marco, the Piazza to end all Piazzas’. I was there at noon, heard the bells toll, that deep rich resounding tone that always gives me goose bumps. At any rate, there is a famous café at the Piazza, Café Florian, where the waiters wear white coats, an orchestra is playing and just to sit down will cost you nine dollars per person, after all the orchestra is playing and it is Piazza San Marco-ambiance-you have to pay for ambiance.

So, I bit the bullet and sat down. Now comes the menu, I knew it was going to be expensive, but I was thirsty and how expensive can a glass of water be? Very expensive. I ordered Pellegrino, Italian sparkling mineral water; that is what I drink at home. I buy it by the case at Costco.

The staggering price for a glass of Italian sparkling water was thirteen dollars, and to add insult to injury they brought a generic brand, not the Pellegrino listed on the menu. The total price was twenty three dollars, and let’s not forget the tip.

I went back that evening to see the Piazza lit up, this time however, I stood and listened to the orchestra, watched as a couple danced, soaked up the incredible atmosphere and it didn’t cost me a penny.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Magic of Venice

Back from my vacation-not so much a vacation-as research for my next book, I found the perfect setting, Murano, glass and of course Venice.

I will start my tour of Venice with the next blog and I have pictures, over 500 of Venice alone, can we say snap happy, but Venice is stunning and a city like no other.

I was there during two major events, the Venice Film Festival and a huge art festival.

The art festival was unique in that even an old Romanesque Church was converted into an art gallery, and not for religious art, but contemporary abstract pieces were displayed in place of the pews throughout the church.

Getting around Venice is simple, you can’t get lost or you wind up in water, and all signs point to Piazza San Marco. The trick is to actually find it, it’s hard to miss, after all it is a huge square but miss it I did.

The first night there I decided not to waste any time and start my sightseeing, Pizza San Marco beckoned, I wanted to see it at night all lit up. Ha! I found every alley, more than once, every side street, again more than once, except for the elusive grand piazza. Even getting lost is delightful in Venice.

Exhausted I walked back to the hotel, showered and went to sleep

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

Killer Nashville by Margot Justes

The weekend of August 14th I attended the Killer Nashville, a small intimate writer/reader conference and I can’t wait to go back next year.

From the very beginning it became an exceptional experience, the personal attention to detail was unexpected. I was worried I’d miss my first panel Friday morning, but since I was picked up at the airport, it was a non issue, made it in plenty of time, and even had time for an espresso; it should have been a double.

It’s that type of attention to detail and care that made me feel very welcome, and the conference a total delight.

The panels were good and informative, among them, one exceptional panel where agents, editors, a publicist, an Ingram Representative and a Barnes & Noble Manager discussed the future of books, from the finished manuscript to the reader buying the book. I hope the panel will be back next year; I’ll be prepared to take notes.

I took an opportunity to sneak away and visit downtown Franklin, an historic main street not to be missed, little boutiques, restaurants, and old buildings well preserved and lovingly cared for. There was an old church dating back to the early 1800’s with beautiful stained glass windows, but the doors were locked and I couldn’t get in.

It was hot and I do mean hot, the air shimmered in the heat and the humidity stuck to you like second skin. After a couple of hours walking, I was ready to go back to the hotel to cool off. Starbucks iced coffees did the trick, but only for a while.

As the saying goes I’ll be back.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What If...by Margot Justes

Periodically I watch a commercial and the products aimed at the normal everyday person-aren’t they all-pitched by an entertainer-the one who looks like no improvement is ever necessary and is pitching a cream or perfume. Just think, if you use that product you’ll look just like Nicole Kidman, or somehow there will be an association. Never mind that they are paid to sell the product; it is a business, after all and rightfully so, they are there to make money.

But what if a company went to the everyday person and actually asked them to pitch a product and I don’t mean laundry detergents or toilet cleaners. I mean the ‘glam’ products like Lancôme. I’m using Lancôme as an example because I’ve used the product for many years (can I say decades).

I believe it to be an excellent product and I do not use anything else on my face. Lancôme has recognized the aging population and has provided products for all. I’m assuming they all do it to grow the business. However, I would love to see the product pitched by normal everyday people.

I realize that as I have aged, gravity has taken and will continue to take its place where it rightfully thinks it belongs-like an unwelcome guest-it arrives for a visit and stays no matter the prodding. Until death do us part...

My personal preference is to age gracefully, I’ve earned every wrinkle, and will keep same, I use products I think help my skin age well, I can’t ask for more. So I can honestly say that for me the product works, in fact works very well.

My point is, I don’t see Lancôme beating down a path to my door and asking me to be a spokesperson for them. I love the product, yet there is one thing missing-I’m not a celebrity and therefore will not have the appeal that is generated by entertainers and I include sports personalities here as well-and it is after all a business intent on selling their products. How many of us would buy a ‘glam’ product pitched by an every day person?

Ah, well back to reality-my type of reality as a writer-a world of my own making, where I decide what happens.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Taking Time Out by Margot Justes

Working, writing, marketing what has already been published are all full time jobs. Trying to tie up loose ends in A Hotel in Bath, (which by the way will be done this weekend) I have been working non-stop and came to the realization I need time out.

And that is precisely what I have done, every Friday evening, I go to the Glen-our own version of a bit of urban paradise, I exaggerate about the urban paradise, but I can sit outside at Starbucks and sip a cup of coffee, keep in mind, I order just a regular cup of coffee, if I want a latte or a cappuccino, I make my own, I have a Nespresso machine that nicely does the job to perfection.

I sit and I watch people stroll by, young, old, middle aged, everyone walks down the main street that is filled with boutiques, restaurants and cafes; it is a grand promenade.

Well maybe not a grand promenade, but enchanting nevertheless. It is relaxing; a breath of air where I don’t worry about what has to be finished or started, or completed. For that one night my computer does not get turned on, and you know what, it is terrific and rejuvenating.

On Fridays, after work I run my errands, so I won’t have to on the weekend, and I look forward to my cup of coffee. I may even venture beyond Starbucks next Friday and try a little intimate gelato place right down the street from Starbucks, they have outside seating with lit candles at each table, and at dusk it looks lovely and romantic; the ambiance just perfect, now all I need is the romance.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Planning a Trip by Margot Justes

A while back I had decided to set the third book in Venice. I have always wanted to visit, so it was an easy decision to find a location, especially since the trip will include an extensive visit to Murano. Did I mention I love glass?

So, the trip was planned accordingly-Venice & Murano, but since I was already there, a lovely cruise from Venice to the Greek Islands would be just the ticket.

I fell in love with Santorini, Greece-it is so easy to fall in love-and found a Royal Caribbean cruise that will take me to the islands, among others to Mykonos and Corfu, and of course a stop in Athens where I’ll again I’ll get a chance to see the Acropolis; what an incredible site.

Needing to find a hotel in Venice, I thought it would be easy. Not so. I had specific needs and it did not include taking a second mortgage.

My needs were simple, or so I thought. Something off the beaten path, where the locals reside but walking distance to Piazza San Marco and the tourist frenzy that seems to stick to Venice at all times. At least that is what I read.

Something romantic, intimate, after all A Hotel in Venice needed ambiance and intimacy, and unlike Minola Grey and Peter Riley, I wasn’t willing to pay an exorbitant price.

I think I found just that, the Boscolo Bellini, a converted palace (not so unusual in Venice) on the Grand Canal, in the Cannaregio district but a short walk from Piazza San Marco and all the tourist attractions.

I love to walk, and for me that is the only way to get the pulse of the city. I have no sense of direction and get lost easily, but getting lost is part of the discovery-on the other hand-‘water, water everywhere’-how lost can I get?

I plan on keeping a journal and will share my impressions with you.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Science by Margot Justes

Science or Magic by Margot JustesTo me, science has always been magic; never mind that the universe is rational and can for the most part be explained by physics, math and chemistry. It’s still magic to me.

The periodic table of elements-those squiggly things that I look at and say that’s nice. What is it? When I get an explanation my eyes start to glaze over, sort of when people start talking to me about sports. (Not many do, for that exact reason) Same reaction, except whereas in sports I can figure things and ask myself why bother, so my eyes glaze over anyway.

I really, really try to understand but…must be some kind of chemical reaction in my brain that tells me not to overtax it, because nothing sticks permanently.

There is a point to this blog. Stuck in my story line, I needed a way to solve my mystery and see if it was possible to identify certain properties. I won’t say more-because it’s part of the process of solving the mystery in A Hotel in Bath-suffice to say I needed to identify a process and by using that process identify how something was done.

My younger daughter is a scientist so I asked for help. I wanted it to be unusual but true.
And would you believe my daughter and science came to the rescue. Imagine that…I can only say that I will be using a GC-MS (for those of us who do not speak Acronym GC-MS = Gas Chromatograph-Mass Spectrometer)to get the proof. Now I’m unstuck and A Hotel in Bath is moving along nicely.

Did you ever notice that scientists need to learn a whole new language-it’s called- Acronym.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Events by Margot Justes

Authors do events to get their name out there and hope someone somewhere will buy their books.

But by the same token, the events are fun. You meet readers who stop by and chat, other writers hoping to get published and ask for advice and the route to rejection and hopefully, ultimately to publication. The rejection part is very easy.

Even if we don’t sell many books, we may wind up with another event. Hopefully that happened last Sunday. Don’t know for sure-but will keep you posted.

Young Adult author of Ordinary Me - June Sproat read my novella. I just happened to have the manuscript with me on Sunday. Odd that.

At any rate, she read my novella and made some terrific comments, and yes June, the hero does save the day. Thank you very much for reading it.

Today I’m spending the day immersed in Bath-as in A Hotel in Bath. Almost done, really…just some things to iron out and, and I begin my edits in earnest. That is not to say that edits have not been ongoing. They have. It is a continuous writing process, at least for me.

Tomorrow I’ll be at the ALA Conference in McCormick Place and hope to finish my article on Paris.

And since I’m rambling on, I might as well tell you, I’m starting research for book # 3,
going to Venice, Italy in September and of course will be writing travel logs. Guess where they’ll appear? Give up? I think I’ll keep you in suspense a bit longer.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Rainy day in Arlington Heights by Margot Justes

I spent the day at frontier Days in Arlington Heights, IL-well at least till 4:00 pm-after which I left in the midst of a rain storm.

It rained consistently all afternoon, and even though we had a tent, it got wet and so did we.

June Sproat, Morgan Mandel and I had fun until the rain drops; big, heavy continuous rain drops, as in pouring rain.

We’ll be back tomorrow, when it’s supposed be nice, warm and dry. There is plenty to do for everyone, from pony rides to arts and crafts.

If you’re in the area stop by and say hello.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
available on amazon.com

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Latin Quarter by Margot Justes

I’m convinced that it’s time to go back to Paris, writing these blogs is a delight, but leaves me with a sense of longing to be there and revisit favorite places and discover new ones.

The Left Bank. The Latin Quarter. The collegiate pulse of Paris, and what a pulse it is.

The Latin Quarter so named because during the Middle Ages students attending the Sorbonne spoke Latin.

As in the rest of this remarkable city, the Latin Quarter has a vast architectural history and a history of political unrest, one worth mentioning was the 1968 student revolt, where even toilets were torn from the bathroom walls and destroyed.

This verve center never sleeps, the cafes are always brimming with students, and even now you get the sense of the bohemian life style.

To be sure you’ll hear discussions on the latest soccer scores, but you will also see games of chess being played, you’ll hear philosophical discussion, you’ll see students reading Voltaire, Zola, Rousseau and probably James Patterson while sipping their brew of choice.

The Sorbonne stands at the center, its creation dates back to 1253-see what I mean about history.

You’re in the intellectual center of Paris, but you’re also right smack in the urban center, vital and pulsing with life.

The Cluny Museum built on Roman Bath ruins, also known as the Middle Age Museum is filled with artifacts dating to the middle ages, among them exquisite illuminated manuscripts. You have the Pantheon that dates back to 1750, the Natural History Museum and also the Arab World Institute, a relative newcomer built in the 1980’s.

The Latin Quarter anchored (as it were) by Notre Dame, and the Seine at one end and the Luxembourg gardens at the other and so much in between.

Go off the beaten path, stray from Boulevard St. Michel and you may find yourself walking on uneven cobblestones, a maze of tiny streets that lead into others, one among many, is Rue de la Huchette, filled with beguiling multi national restaurants, just begging to sample their cuisine.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bundles of Books by Margot Justes

What a terrific title for a bookstore. It’s no secret that I loyally support independent bookstores. It’s a two way system, since I found quite a few support the small traditional independent publishers.

Bundles of Books (560 Crescent Blvd. Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 620/545-0069 requests@bundlesofbooks.us ) is just such a store. Books, books and more books, on three levels…all lovingly cared for by owner Rosemary and her very able assistant Dani.

I had a signing there last Saturday, along with our very own Morgan Mandel, Sherrill Bodine and Allie Pleiter. We were made to feel very welcome. Upon our arrival, tea, coffee, cookies and chocolate awaited us. Chocolate and romance go very well together. In fact romance and anything go well together, but I digress…

We were there for 4 hours and the time simply disappeared. We all sold a few books, caught up on the latest news, and generally had a fantastic time.

Bundle of Books has a very loyal following-the support seemed effortless, people walked in chatted, bought books and seemed very comfortable, as if at home visiting friends, who just happen to have shelves upon shelves of stacked books.

For the most part, Bundles of Books sells used books but you will find new books by local authors. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to introduce A Hotel in Paris.

Support for such a wonderful bookstore is the only way to keep it in business. So, if you’re in the area, even if it means going out of your way, please stop by and say hello and buy a book or two. I know I will be back.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Printers Row by Margot Justes

Finally a week later, I can write legibly since my fingers have actually thawed from last Saturday. Okay, so I exaggerate-but it was cold, windy, and wet…and of course I was dressed for summer. Silly me.

Printers Row is exhausting, exhilarating and exciting. Many people stop by to say hello, browse and chat. Some even tell me they have a book in them-and I say-let it out.

Some others shy away from personal contact, but overall I found the attendees are readers, and more often than not will give a newbie a chance. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

While still others will stop by and say they don’t read-my response-really, and you’re at a literary festival?

The other comment I had heard a few times is ‘I don’t read fiction.’

To my way of thinking, it’s an incredible loss. Ideas, situations, plots, twists and turns, resolutions, the imagination necessary to create a work of fiction is never appreciated. A slant, a perspective on our ever changing society is never seen through the eyes of make believe for the non-fiction reader. The inspired descriptive process, the power of the creative word of fiction is completely obliterated.

In my humble opinion that is a tremendous loss, and very, very sad. Open the mind to exciting possibilities the world of fiction has to offer, a person might actually learn something.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Too Many Things To Do by Margot Justes

Nice to know some things never change. I have so many things to do and projects to finish that I find I’m not doing anything at all.

Last night I needed to get a couple of books from Barnes & Noble, so I called my friend Miriam and said ‘Do you want to meet for coffee?’ The coffee thing I have going is real, my heroine Minola Grey would attest to that...

At any rate, Miriam said sure. So we met up for coffee after dinner and we sat and talked. I complained about the things I must finish, all the while sipping my coffee and having a good time. And yes I felt guilty that I was sitting in the café enjoying myself when my projects weren’t getting done. Odd.

I wonder if it’s procrastination. I’ve always told my inner voice that I work best under pressure. Lately my voice has been telling me, yeah, you’re lying to yourself and get to work, the pressure is already here.

So, today while writing this blog, I set out my list of things to do-have a cup of coffee, finish editing A Fire Within, have a cup of coffee-make a serious dent in A Hotel in Bath, have a cup of coffee-write a travel article about Paris, have a cup of coffee-do some marketing, have a cup of coffee-or I could just forgo everything and drink the darn coffee in peace and quiet.

But, my inner voice won’t let me, maybe more coffee…

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Long Weekend by Margot Justes

This weekend marks the traditional beginning of the summer season, At least for me.
A few people I talked to said they are going to relax; grill and basically veg out.
Sounds good to me, I decided to write the blog on Friday because I don’t get to veg out.

I have a book signing Saturday, and if you’re in the area, please stop by and say hi at the Borders on 49 S. Waukegan Rd in Deerfield, IL Saturday May 23rd 1:00 -2:30 pm. I’ll be on hand as will a few other authors among them Joe Konrath, Luisa Buehler, Robert Goldsborough, Mary Welk, Susan Gibberman, Norm Cowie and we’ll be signing the Missing Anthology. All royalties are going to the missing and exploited children foundation. How is that for a plug?

At any rate, Saturday I’ll be signing, writing and spending time with my daughter who is visiting. Sunday, the same except for the signing substitute a birthday party.

Ah, Monday! I get to veg out-not so fast-I have to finish a couple of projects and do some marketing. And I haven’t mentioned the condition of the house where I happen to live-the dust bunnies are having bunnies. Come forth and multiply and they do…

And so it continues, this thing we call life-but it beats the alternative. Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Lovely Saturday by Margot Justes

I was asked recently for a blog thingy what makes me feel sexy-and the immediate response was-shoes, shoes and more shoes. I certainly wasn’t going to get personal.

Somewhat wired this morning, too many things to do and not enough coffee. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere today but stay home and work on A Hotel in Bath, write an article about Paris and finish editing A Fire Within and of course write my weekly blog. So, I had a few more cups and got ready to write. I’ll get back to the shoes-promise.

My friend Miriam called and asked if I wanted to go to Old Orchard. I said sure, I’ll meet you.

We had a bite to eat at Nordstrom’s café; it’s a lovely, sunny day, everything is lush and green so we ate outside.

And of course we’re at Nordstrom’s, so we went to the shoe department-see, we’re back to shoes. Nordstrom and shoes go together. It’s a must visit. Tried one pair after another, and Miriam looked at the shoes I was trying on and said-those look really sexy on your feet. Sold.

I’m going to Killer Nashville in August and needed a pair of brown sandals. Tried a pair and they were lovely. And sexy. Sold.

In the process of trying shoes and chatting with people, I met a teacher from Park Ridge, gave her my business card and told her about the upcoming signing at Borders in Deerfield on May 23rd. She told me she’d share the information with her high school students.

All in all a pretty good Saturday, and I still have time to write.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Special Sunday by Margot Justes

This will be a short blog. I would like to extend Happy Mother’s Day greetings to all moms.

I’m cooking today, because I refuse to cook tomorrow. My older daughter (she happens to be a mom) is recovering from surgery, so I thought I’d bring dinner over on Sunday. I have no other plans. Well, except to write in the morning.

This is a perfect opportunity-at least I’m making it the perfect opportunity-to mention the May/June issue of Crimespree Magazine and my article on Bath, England. Can I say Yipeee!

I’m in the process of wrapping up A Hotel in Bath, but I have not been idle; I finished the novella, A Fire Within and hopefully someone will want to publish an article on Paris that I’ve been working on.

Now back to Mother’s Day.

My friend Gina said she’s leaving it up to the men in her life to make plans, and as an afterthought she said, “I hope I won’t go hungry and be lonely.” Hmmm. I’ll follow up with her on Monday.

At Costco this morning, I found many men carrying flowers and Godiva chocolates. Not a bad beginning…

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Simple Pleasures by Margot Justes

Yes, simple and inexpensive pleasures can be found in Paris; for that matter, anywhere you may find yourself. Take a few moments and make them uniquely your own. Don’t neglect them.

You have to be willing to by-pass the tourist frenzy-the bus waiting to take you somewhere else-the time crunch because said will leave without you. Take timeout, by yourself and get to know Paris, you won’t be disappointed. The intimate side streets, the age old buildings-the charm of the city awaits you.

I found I love writing travel blogs, but if you’re tired of them already, drop me a line and I’ll write about something else. For now we’re going back to Paris.

It is early morning-the city is asleep, yet on the brink of wakefulness. You’re strolling along the Seine, alongside the closed bookstalls. Peaceful. Quiet. Serene.
You glance at Notre Dame before the tourists storm the place.

Yes, sort of like storming the Bastille, but without significant damage and destruction. In the early morning mist, see the flying buttresses of Notre Dame glisten, as the sun rises and casts a spell on the stained glass windows; see the colors sparkle and glow in the early morning sun.

That little walk will cost you nothing, but you’ll never regret it. Listen to the bells peel. The steps quicken. The stalls open, one by one. The tempo picks up and life resumes. The pulse of this vital city is alive and well.

You will be seduced by Paris just by walking down a street. Stop in a café and order a ham sandwich and be satisfied, it doesn’t have to be an expensive restaurant. Don’t forget the coffee; if your tastes run to the brew; as mine do.

Personally, I love the early mornings. As the city wakes, I head to a café for a respite and of course coffee, listening to the abundance of life around me.

There is a reason my heroine is addicted to the brew.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Grandest Avenue by Margot Justes

A visit to Paris must include a stroll on the grandest avenue of them all, the Champs Elysees. Trees border the wide avenue. My imagination always takes root, and I see a fanciful lush border that outlines the street, a gigantic sweep of branches that almost caress the ground, as the cars speed in manic hurry. Exhilarating.

The site is a delight to the senses. Wide, open, elegant and vital. Brimming with life.

You have arrived at the shoppers Mecca in Paris. No, it is not the haute couture center, although fine boutiques abound, it is simply an exciting mixture of stores, cafes, cinemas and tourists. Many tourists, no matter time of year.

The avenue’s beginning is simple, an Elysian field-hence the name- became a strolling pathway in 1616, under Marie De Medici’s guidance.

Today it stretches from the Place de la Concorde, the renowned obelisk marks the starting point all the way up to the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de l’Etoile (place of stars), over a mile long, it is easily the most recognized avenue in the world.

Once you reach the Arc de Triomphe and go upstairs, Paris will be at your feet, look down, you’ll see why it is called the place of stars. It has since been renamed Place Charles du Gaulle, but for me it will always be the place of stars.

I have often heard it said that if you sit in a café on the Champs Elysees long enough, you will eventually meet someone you know. I never had, but am willing to test the hypothesis.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Catch Margot Justes' interview on Sunday, April 19 at Books and Blogs on Blog Talk Radio at http://blogtalkradio.com/booksandblogs from 4-4:15pm Central Daylight Savings Time (Illinois time)

Romance in Paris by Margot Justes

It is spring at least according to the calendar. It is cold, damp and dreary, the flowers are barely sprouting, grass is still brown and potential for snow not an impossibility. You keep waiting for it to improve. And it will. Eventually.

Ah, that is because you’re home. It’s the everyday expectation in our existence. We perform our daily rituals.

So instead, let’s hop on a plane and go for a ride, a change of scenery if you will.
Let’s imagine we’re in Paris in the spring, walking along in the Luxembourg Gardens. The gentle mist falling on the tree branches leaving a crystal reflection, a heavenly clean earthy smell permeates your nostrils as you take a deep breath.

Walk along the gravel path and hear it crunch beneath your feet. Listen to the birds chirp as they spread their wings and take flight only to land perched on a shoulder of a statue.

Watch the grass as it seems to become greener right in front of your eyes, the rain still falling and sinking deep into the earth.

Leave the peace of the gardens and walk out through the wrought iron fence. Go across the street while the gentle rain is still falling, sit down in the café, order your favorite brew and observe the wet wrought iron glisten in the golden sun peeking through the clouds.

While in Paris, I have done exactly that many times and have found that a gentle rain, overcast sky can be as romantic as anything else-whether you’re alone strolling and day dreaming or walking with someone special by your side. It’s what you make of any given moment.

Truly, in Paris every little thing that you take for granted at home becomes incredibly special. Every moment counts and is treasured. There is something magical about the city.

Maybe that tell us we should not take anything for granted when at home but seize every moment. I’ll leave that up to you.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
www.mjustes.com
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Louvre by Margot Justes

A fortress. A palace. A world renowned museum. The building has a grand and passionate history. Began in the 12th or 13th century, depending what and where you do your research. Suffice it to say, it is old. It has been build upon to keep invaders out, kings in extreme luxury and masterpieces comfortable and lovingly cared for.

The size is astounding, 60,000 square feet, give or take a foot or two, and hosts over 35,000 pieces of art. When I said it was huge, I was not exaggerating.

The building, altered over the years gives you a glimpse of its complete history, if you take the time to look around you. Even Catherine De Medici had a hand in the re-design by combining the Louvre and the Palais des Tuileries. There were additions, rebuilding and destruction, but what remains to this day is simply inspiring.

Having lived at the Palais Louvre, in 1672, Louis XIV moved to better accommodations-Versailles-and he left the Louvre Palace to predominantly display the royal art collection.

The museum opened its doors to the public in 1793. Changes made by Louis XIV, Napoleon and many others over the centuries have added an incredible imprint on the size of the building as well as the collection the museum houses today.

Surrounded by the Tuileries gardens, the mammoth Romanesque structure is awe inspiring at first sight. It cannot be missed. The serene quiet elegance outside, belies the richness of the galleries and collection on exhibit inside.

The immense history of the Louvre from the first laid stone to now matches its gargantuan size.

Take a leisurely stroll in the gorgeous gardens, admire the building from afar and imagine someone calling it home.


Till next Time,
Margot Justes
http://margotsmuse.blogspot.com
http://www.mjustes.com/
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
available on amazon.com

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Winged Victory by Margot Justes

Also known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace or Nike of Samothrace-the goddess Nike (meaning Victory in Greek) is an astounding massive piece standing at 328 cm. That’s almost 11 ft from the top of her shoulders to her feet and she’s standing on a ship.

Placed at the center of the landing in the grand Daru staircase in the Louvre, the statue takes your breath away. It is overwhelming in its sheer power, beauty and size.

The Victory made of Parian marble from Paros, Greece, circa 220-190 BC-can we say old-is so beautifully sculpted. The head is missing, as are the arms, but the sense of the power, the gigantic windblown wings held back, the seemingly wet garments flowing about the legs fighting the sea wind, displaying a stance of power, ferocity and victory, overrides everything else.

A graceful, ebullient and wind swept Nike coming down to earth standing on the prow of a ship declaring victory. The sculpture was discovered in 1863 on the small island Samothrace in the Aegean, by Charles Champoiseau, French Vice-Consul to a city in Turkey. Just in case you were wondering about the French connection.

The first time I came face to face with the statue-I know it’s an odd thing to say ‘face to face’ with a headless statue, but the idiom fits. I wasn’t very graceful, so awestruck I wasn’t paying attention, missed a couple of steps and paid appropriate homage-on my knees-face down or up since I was staring at the magnificent site at the time. A clumsy introduction like that is memorable to say the least.

It is a talent I have kept up to this day, my head tends to be up, eyes focused on a tall building or something else that catches my attention and if someone is with me, I get pulled up by my coat, shirt, whatever is handy, or yelled at to stop and watch where I’m going.

I think everyone has heard of the Louvre and the many treasures it houses, but I wonder how many of us actually thought about the historic building that so many masterpieces call home. As you might have guessed, I happen to like buildings too.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Louvre by Margot Justes

The Louvre. The one and only. One of the most-if not-the most renowned museum in the world. A ‘must see’ for every tourist visiting Paris.

Yes, it is magnificent, colossal and overwhelming. It is one of those museums where you stand in the center and breathlessly say where do I go first? What must I see this visit? For you cannot possibly see everything. The rush is on. And what a rush it is.

Set in the glorious Tuilerie gardens, the massive Romanesque structure beckons you in. But wait, before you even go inside-look around you-you’re standing in front of I.M. Pei’s fantastic glass pyramid that serves as the entrance to the museum. Stunning. A work of art in itself.

Pose for a few minutes, savor and admire-the juxtaposition of the old and the new. It shouldn’t work-but it does, the striking contrast gives an impression of openness and seems to magnify the size of the structure. An illusion to be sure, that adds to the already gigantic size of the museum.

Most tourists visit a well known friend - the Mona Lisa. Her visitors have increased (if that is possible-it is) since the Dan Brown book came out. She has been overwhelmed by admirers. Step back and listen to the ooh’s and aah’s as the tourists stand in front and marvel at the masterpiece. Maybe like many others you have a copy of the Da Vinci Code with you and are trying to find the clues. Imagine the possibilities.

And here I go…I have seen the painting quite a few times and have read, heard lectures about her hands, the enigmatic smile, the eyes, the mystery, the total encapsulating image.

The painting is a masterpiece to be sure, an elegant portrait. I’m probably the only one who doesn’t see the mystery. The only one who sees a forced smile. The only one who sees hands that have not seen hard work. I do not see a mystery. I see a classic portrait of a well to do woman. Passive. Removed. And maybe that is part of the mystery. Visit and you decide.

For me that is what art is all about. I’m not expert-just an admirer of the talent involved in putting an idea on canvas and making it work. Startle the viewer. Discuss. Become creative in what and how the viewer sees. Make me think. Wonder. So many endless possibilities…

Of course there is more, you’ll meet Venus De Milo, standing poised, ready to be admired. And there is much to admire. You’ll see Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, a magnificent painting. Stirring. Hair raising bravery. A Must see.

Next week, I’ll let write about my favorite piece. You knew there would be a favorite, didn’t you?

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Unique Museum by Margot Justes

I had a radio interview last Wednesday and was asked a really good question-Jena O’Connor of KORN 1490 AM Let’s Talk actually read my book and liked it, hence the question-what makes the Rodin Museum unique-what makes it standout and different from the rest?

And for once I was quick on my feet…it’s still a work in progress-the thinking on my feet part.

For me it is matchless in its intimacy-his incredible work aside-the gardens are magnificent, the sculptures appear to you from unexpected places, it is relaxing, not chaotic, your eye wonders but there is none of the panic of what shall I see first or next.

As a visitor you tend to relax, take your time. Savor. Enjoy. You’re among friends. You’re not overwhelmed. Look at the Thinker-thought and muscle? Or is it? What would you see?

Once you’ve wondered through the gardens, you’re now ready to enter his home. Some pieces have been left as a work in progress, ready for the master to return and finish. That is entirely my impression, probably because his presence can still be felt, at least by me.
The Kiss, hard cold marble generating a tremendous amount of heat. Passionate. The lovers wrapped in an ardent embrace, totally oblivious of others. If you’re lucky enough to be there, stand in front and decide if you agree with the critics and pundits-was it just a woman submitting to the man? Or is there more, much more.

The Hand of God, flowing, smooth, compelling. Can you feel the magic of the hand rising out of the un-worked marble? The hard, cold stone holds such magnificent power.

Walk through the house and listen to the creaking floor boards and imagine the beginning of life in the creative process.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring in Paris by Margot Justes

Any time is a good time to go to Paris. Rain, shine, hot or cold, Paris never loses its charm. But spring is a glorious time to visit; in fact Charles Aznavour sang a song about Paris in May and because it’s almost spring and we’re going on a journey. Let your imagination soar, cross the Atlantic and voila-we’re there.

Picture yourself standing at the Place de la Concorde; looking straight ahead to the Arc de Triomphe standing guard, the Champs-Elysees beckon, walk up that grand tree lined shopping Mecca…but wait, rather than throw yourself into the jostling tourist crowds, there is gentler, quieter introduction to Paris. One, I promise won’t disappoint; more introspective, passionate and exquisite. Romance pure and simple, after all we’re in Paris.

Go to the Rodin Museum, walk, take a cab, the Metro, anyway you see fit, but get there.
Even before you enter the intimate museum, you can get a glimpse of the treasures within through the glass wall. Yes, a glass wall allows you to see the backs of the Burghers of Calais. Can you think of a better enticement?

Enter through the old doors and you’re in Rodin’s gardens, visiting his home. The Gates of Hell, the massive portals greet you coming in and going out; it is a portal as no other.
Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, they are magnificent. An endeavor that took almost four decades, bears an unforgettable semblance of chaos-Rodin was thought to believe that hell is not only a place for the dead but the living as well. The agony, will to survive, beauty, horror-it’s all there for you to see.

Wonder through the gardens, sit on the bench in front of the Thinker and strike a pose. He’s there in the elements right in the midst of the gardens. Stroll further and meet Balzac. Sit down in the outdoor café and sip a delicious cup of coffee, listen to the birds chirp and look around you-treasures abound. The Burghers of Calais await your visit, an incredible sculpture depicting men willing to sacrifice their lives to save their village. The heartbreaking sorrow reflected in their faces is simply astounding.

For me the urge to touch and savor a piece of sculpture is always there, whether it’s smooth and flowing or harsh and gnarly, doesn’t matter, I just feel the need to touch. But it wasn’t till I was introduced to Rodin’s work that I saw passion portrayed with such force-agony with such poignancy-hope and survival with such strength.

His work moves me beyond the norm…each sinew, rope, muscle is so well defined-his mastery of reaching the depth of emotion pulls me in and tugs.

We’re by no means done with Rodin, next week we’ll go inside his home.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Bit of Bath and Other Things by Margot Justes

I have written a few blogs about Bath and there is so much more. The parks are abundant and lovingly cared for, everyday homes unique, festivals aplenty, right down to the fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night. Every street, every corner will take you on an adventure, let your imagination soar and transport you back in time. You’ll need comfortable shoes.

Hopefully I have brought a bit of Bath’s history and charm to you.

I found I like doing travel blogs, it takes me back to places I have loved and memories I cherish.

So, surprise, surprise, I will be doing a few blogs about Paris. In reality, I should have started with Paris, because of the first book, as in A Hotel in Paris.

Somehow Bath took over, since my protagonists are currently living in Bath and I have to finish their tale.

But Paris must get its due, so starting next week we’re going to visit Paris, we’ll start- not with the Louvre-if you have read my book you’ll know where we’ll go first. If not, well stay tuned…and maybe pick up the book and read it. We’ll go on the journey together.

Just thought I’d mention the novella proposal was sold to Echelon Press, coming out February 2010. Amy Alessio and Mary Welk are my partners in crime. I set my story right here in Chicago, so most likely there will be a few blogs about my favorite big city in Northeastern, Illinois. The only big city in Northeastern, Illinois…

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Missing by Margot Justes

I’m taking a break from Bath, to write about the Missing Anthology. It has been released at the Love is Murder Conference this February and I thought I would mention it here. A terrific collection of short stories from murder to romantic suspense to humor to…well you’ll just have to pick up the book and read them all.

What makes this anthology exciting is sampling the various genres, seventeen tales to delight; providing something for everyone. And the best part, the participating authors donated their stories to benefit others, all the royalties are going to missing and exploited children.

The idea for the collection came from Amy Alessio a YA Librarian and author, when presented with the proposal, Karen Syed of Echelon Press jumped at the opportunity to do something very rewarding.

Please support Missing, you’ll enjoy the stories and you’ll be making a difference and supporting a very worthwhile cause. Kudos to the participating writers, the titles and authors are listed below:

Missing Andy by Amy Alessio
Gemini by Barbara Annino
Dream Works by Regan Black
Harry’s Fall from Grace by Luisa Buehler
Coffee by Rebecca Cantrell
Cleaning up at the Franks by Gayle Carline
Mis-adventures of Guy by Norm Cowie
Riley Come Home by Evelyn David
Signature Required by Susan Gibberman
A Call from Rockford by Robert Goldsborough
An Art Fair in Chicago by Margot Justes
Floaters by J.A. Konrath and Henry Perez
The Cotton Candy Man by Susan Muira
The Right Choice by Tom Schreck
Dog Gone Dog by Michele Scott
Knight Child by J.R. Turner
Caroline Rhodes and the Case of the Fugitive Farmer by Mary Welk.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Abbey in Bath by Margot Justes

The Abby, whose history in one way or another goes back to 676, started out as a monastery built with used stones taken from old Roman buildings. 1090 saw a colossal Norman cathedral priory take root and over the next few centuries monastic life suffered upheavals and by 1499 destruction and ruin doomed the structure.

But there was a dream. Oliver King, the Bishop of Bath dreamt about angels on a ladder ascending and descending amid heaven and earth, and the rebuilding began the same year.

By 1539, life interfered with the completion, amidst battles and Henry VIII dissolution of churches it was not until 1617 that the church and Oliver King’s dream was fully realized. It is now the church of Bath, but the name Abbey still remains. The Bath Abbey Heritage Vaults contain among other things, Norman and Saxon stonework; the history is simply astounding and the structure is a marvel.

The style of the architecture has been called Restrained Perpendicular-in short a style of English Gothic architecture circa the 14th and 15th centuries. It is more flamboyant with elaborate carvings, arches, towers and fan vaulting-the ceiling has large carved vaulted fans, the effect is simply stunning and you get a creek in your neck just from gazing up.
I stood next to a couple of tourists complaining about their necks as they gazed upward, I felt no such pain, and I had my fill, well almost, ready for more…but just thought I’d mention it and emphasize the beauty of the ceiling.

To further define the ornate aspect of the style, the two towers at the entrance have deeply carved ladders and angels going up and down, along with other greatly defined carvings and statues. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Bath, take the time and ponder the entrance to the Abbey and pay attention to all that is in front of you. What a site, what an entrance.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1
Heat of the Moment ISBN 978-1-59080-596-1
www.mjustes.com
mjustes@earthlink.net

available on amazon.com

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Royal Crescent by Margot Justes

The Royal Crescent in Bath is an absolutely unique architectural gem, completed in 1774 by John Wood the Younger; it took about 7 years to complete and still today it stands as a perfect semi-elliptical curve about 50 feet high and 500 feet long. It truly is a site to behold; there are 30 attached magnificent houses, among them, one of the most charming, delightful, grandest hotels ever, the Royal Crescent Hotel www.royalcrescent.co.uk
As a heroine would say, it is beautifully situated.

Some suites are named after literary figures, the Sir Percy Blakeney Suite named after The Scarlet Pimparnel, one of my favorite novels, if you haven’t read it-please do, written by Baroness Orczy, it is the ultimate swashbuckling, romantic adventure, set during the French Revolution. As the story goes, after his adventures, Sir Percy moved to Bath and lived at number 16 Royal Crescent.

The street curves along the crescent and below, a green carpet of lush grass separated by a ha-ha. What is a ha-ha you say, well a cleverly designed wall that is invisible from the curved path and the upper part of the grassy knoll. Since the area served as a promenade to see and be seen, the ha-ha separated the ton-the socially elite- from mere mortals, peasants, along with sheep, cows and whatever critters lived below.

Number 1 Royal Crescent is a renowned museum that perfectly depicts the affluent Georgian lifestyle; fully restored it is owned by the Bath Preservation Trust, and truly well worth a visit.

Walking up a slight incline on Brock Street the panoramic view of the Crescent is truly breathtaking, and writing these travelogues has been enormously difficult, because what I want to do is hop on a plane, spend some more time in Bath, instead, I’ll re-read the Scarlet Pimpernel-it has been a while since I’ve read it.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1- February 2009
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Bath by Margot Justes

I don’t want you to think that I covered everything about the Roman Baths Museum-that is by no means possible in a short blog-the exquisite museum has much, much more to offer-I hope I whetted your appetite just a tiny bit.

As promised, there is more. Right next door to the Roman Baths Museum is the Pump Room, and what a room it is. It was the center of the ton-the social glittery whirl of the best English society-since 1706. It is, for lack of a better explanation a tea room, albeit very grand, it is still a tea room and to this day the wait staff will greet you in appropriate period garb and serve you tea, scones, Bath buns and much more. The room is truly magnificent, huge and elaborate with daunting chandeliers hanging from the very high ceilings above you.

If that is not enough, you may be entertained by the Pump Room Trio, the oldest musical ensemble in the country. The tradition of the music has continued through the ages, so while sipping your delicious tea and munching on the scone covered with clotted cream and strawberry jam, you may feel you have traveled back in time and Jane Austen is sitting at the next table, maybe even James Boswell, or the many other great literary figures over the centuries.

On one side of the room there is a fountain that still to this day spouts the sulphurous water and for a fee you can sample its unique warm taste, unique as in really bad. The fountain standing on a pediment with an inscription that reads ‘Water is Best’ is still a popular stop by visitors, before or after the elegantly served tea. It was considered a very healthy drink, and people would come to Bath ‘to take the waters’.

The Pump Room is a stop not be missed in a town that has been designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.

More Bath next week, yes of course there is more, but I’ll cover just the ‘must see’ the rest you will have to discover for yourself and maybe buy A Hotel in Bath when it comes out, but first I have to finish it.

One more thing, when I’m done with Bath, guess what, I’ll write a bit about Paris. Well, after all it is the very early beginning of the travel planning season, I probably should have started in Paris first, but my center of concentration at the moment has been on Bath.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1- coming February 2009
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com
More Bath by Margot Justes

I don’t want you to think that I covered everything about the Roman Baths Museum-that is by no means possible in a short blog-the exquisite museum has much, much more to offer-I hope I whetted your appetite just a tiny bit.

As promised, there is more. Right next door to the Roman Baths Museum is the Pump Room, and what a room it is. It was the center of the ton-the social glittery whirl of the best English society-since 1706. It is, for lack of a better explanation a tea room, albeit very grand, it is still a tea room and to this day the wait staff will greet you in appropriate period garb and serve you tea, scones, Bath buns and much more. The room is truly magnificent, huge and elaborate with daunting chandeliers hanging from the very high ceilings above you.

If that is not enough, you may be entertained by the Pump Room Trio, the oldest musical ensemble in the country. The tradition of the music has continued through the ages, so while sipping your delicious tea and munching on the scone covered with clotted cream and strawberry jam, you may feel you have traveled back in time and Jane Austen is sitting at the next table, maybe even James Boswell, or the many other great literary figures over the centuries.

On one side of the room there is a fountain that still to this day spouts the sulphurous water and for a fee you can sample its unique warm taste, unique as in really bad. The fountain standing on a pediment with an inscription that reads ‘Water is Best’ is still a popular stop by visitors, before or after the elegantly served tea. It was considered a very healthy drink, and people would come to Bath ‘to take the waters’.

The Pump Room is a stop not be missed in a town that has been designated a World Heritage Site in 1987.

More Bath next week, yes of course there is more, but I’ll cover just the ‘must see’ the rest you will have to discover for yourself and maybe buy A Hotel in Bath when it comes out, but first I have to finish it.

One more thing, when I’m done with Bath, guess what, I’ll write a bit about Paris. Well, after all it is the very early beginning of the travel planning season, I probably should have started in Paris first, but my center of concentration at the moment has been on Bath.

Till next Time,
Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1- coming February 2009
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Roman Baths Museum by Margot Justes

Many years ago, I was in London and took one of those standard day tours to Stonehenge and Bath. I expected to be delighted and see a few things I haven’t yet seen and I expected to learn something new–one of the many reasons I love to travel.

On this trip, the bus rolled along the lovely serene English countryside and the first glimpse of the enormous stones was surreal. They are magnificent, and back then you could actually go up close and personal as the saying goes. We reached Bath and had a measly few hours in a town where the Roman Baths Museum alone would have kept me busy for many hours. I swore someday I would come back.

My first book is set in Paris, because having lived there I have a great affinity for the city and always will. With the realization that I was going to write book two, Bath was the instant choice. That meant a return visit, this time a few days, not a few hours.

The second time, we took the train from Paddington station in London and two lovely hours later we were in Bath, this time for a few days rather than a few hours.

There are legends that say Bath was founded by a Celtic Prince in 863 BC, he suffered from leprosy and the healing waters cured him. Can you imagine the history?

As far as the Romans were concerned, cleanliness was next to godliness-hence the popularity of the baths. In 65 AD the invading Romans built a grand spa. Formidable Roman engineering skills allowed them to build a reservoir using lead-lined stone around the spring, thus supplying water to the baths. The Sacred Spring (one of my favorite sites in the museum) has an overflow system, which even today 2,000 years later still pumps the surplus water to the Avon River.

I spent quite a bit of time standing in front of the Sacred Spring, the hot moist steam reaching your face is far better than any facial, while the soothing and mesmerizing falling water allows the imagination to take root in your senses.

Buried and built over for many years, the baths were discovered and excavated in 1880. The steeped in history museum is simply truly amazing and gives you a remarkable sense of times past and through the ages to the present.

More Bath next week.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1- coming February 2009
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Resolutions Aplenty or Maybe Not by Margot Justes

The New Year is upon us-nothing like stating the obvious-and I try to stay away from resolutions, since they do not last long, so what is the point. But, the one resolution I fully intend to adhere to is writing and this is a no brainer since I love to write.

What’s not to love, total solitude in my own little haven, no pesky phone, no television, just me, my computer and words on paper well at least on the screens, but sometimes on paper. I have a comfy couch where I do occasionally write on a legal pad, dialog works well this way, I can close my eyes and imagine the characters in action.

I create my own little world where I can take out my frustrations on potential victims, create the perfect hero and heroine, travel and do exactly as I please.

I’m late finishing A Hotel in Bath and have sworn to finish by end of first quarter, and have an idea and location for book three-Venice-and that means a trip to Venice this year.

So stay tuned for more travel tips on Bath, just in case you are heading to England this year and travel preparations for Venice this fall.

Till next Saturday,
Margot Justes

A Hotel in Paris ISBN 978-1-59080-534-3
Art brought her to Paris, then a stranger’s death changes her life.
Missing ISBN 978-1-59080-611 1- coming February 2009
www.mjustes.com
available on amazon.com