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Monday, February 27, 2012

Hearts & Daggers & Affaire de Coeur by Margot Justes

Just a short blurb to announce that Hearts & Daggers has a 'sneak peak' in the Affaire de Coeur Magazine.

And that my website has been updated, kudos to my web designer-she did a fantastic job.

Until next Time,
Margot Justes
Hearts & Daggers
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Everyday Life by Margot Justes

Life seems mundane. You get up, brush your teeth, make
coffee, drink coffee ( a few cups to get started)and generally get ready for
work. After work, you run errands, make dinner, if you have kiddies take care
of their needs and the day is over. You go to bed, get up, and start all over
again. It's hard work.

What does one do to relieve the stress, and provide a form
of necessary escape, albeit it for a brief span of time? I read and write, that
is my escape.

I've raised my kiddies, delight in my grandchildren, but after
I'm done with work, time is essentially my own. I write romance stories, that is my love, escape,
obsession if you will.

Writing allows me to escape the everyday sameness. I can
kill off characters I don't like. I can fall in love with the perfect hero;
he's my creation, therefore he's perfect for me.

I feel a sense of accomplishment when I've finished a story.
A sense of apprehension when I start, and a sense of terror when mid-stream, there
is nowhere to go, and finally a sense of dread I'm on the wrong track. I write-by the seat of my pants-I think-that
is the correct cliché. I get an idea and run with it and see where it takes me.

That to me is the perfect adventure-I don't know where my
characters will wind up. It's a surprise. I like that, and it works for me.

I don't quite get the same sense of nirvana when I read, but
it's a very, very close second. I escape to another world, another period in
time, and I look forward to the happy ending.

I'm reasonably well read, but at this stage in my life I
look to romance and humor for my escape. The perfect get away. There is a reason
romance writing is a multi-billion dollar industry. I'm not alone.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
Hearts & Daggers
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Getting the Word Out by Margot Justes

Our anthology Hearts & Daggers is out on Kindle, and of
course we're happy about it, but we'd love others to be happy about it too. How to get the word out? We did the FB, Twitter, and blog route, but we wanted greater exposure that would not cost an arm and a leg. I think I can safely speak for Amy Alessio and Mary Welk, and say we need our appendages.

We tried something new-at least to me, it was new. We took
advantage of Amazon's Prime program, for 90 days Hearts & Daggers is free to all Amazon Prime members.

We also took advantage of the 'free download'-for 2 days the anthology was free for all Kindle owners & all the various Kindle compatible apps. I do know that means
applications. It does doesn't it?

The numbers are in, we made it to #10 in romantic suspense and we reached #199 overall,
1700 +copies were downloaded. Granted they were free, but that was a substantial chunk of downloads for us. To make things even better, once the price went back to $2.99 we continued the momentum and the anthology is selling.

Was it worth it? Speaking for myself-absolutely. I think this is great a way to spread the word, and for mid-list authors word-of-mouth advertising is crucial.

I even sold a few copies of A Hotel in Paris in paperback. I have my rights back, and will re-release A Hotel in Paris by mid March. I love my new cover, and have to show it off. I'm making
a few changes, but the premise remains the same-it's the first thing I ever put on paper, and A Hotel in Paris is very special to me.

Now that I'm editing it again, the memories of Paris are so vivid that I want to go back for a week, just to say hello. The city was my first love. Paris will always haunt my dreams, and pull me in.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
Hearts & Daggers
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I would like to introduce my second partner in crime, Mary Welk. Just as with Amy Alessio, Mary and I go back a few years. I'm really happy to be working together with two fantastic ladies. Appropriately enough Mary included some pictures of beautiful frames; just a hint, her novella is entitled FRAMED. Mary posted the first chapter of her novella on
Two years ago Amy Alessio approached Margot Justes and me with a unique idea for a writing project. She suggested we each compose a story that not only highlighted our own
protagonists, but also included the main characters of the other two writers.
The end result would be a three-novella romantic suspense book based on the
theme of Valentine's Day.

Amy's novella would feature Alana O'Neill, bookkeeper for an antiques store called Attic Treasures and the protagonist in several of Amy's short stories. Margot's tale would revolve
around Rebecca Standish, a Chicago art gallery owner who first appeared in the
anthology Heat of the Moment. As for me, I'd write about Caroline Rhodes, the star player in my 'Rhodes to Murder' mystery series.

My first thought was, this could be fun! Caroline Rhodes survived many a difficult moment in the four mystery novels in which she appeared, but never once had she faced a romantic dilemma. As a recent widow, she’d struggled to overcome feelings of loss in my first
novel, A Merry Little Murder. By her fourth appearance in The Scarecrow Murders, she’d come to terms with her new role as a single working woman and had several good friends of the male persuasion. But romance had yet to enter her life; Amy’s novella project could prove the perfect remedy for that problem.
Then reality hit. Spicing up my savvy sleuth’s love life might be fun, but how was I to incorporate Amy’s and Margot’s characters into my story? What did Caroline, an ER nurse in a rural university town, have in common with an antiques store bookkeeper who collected vintage cookbooks and a wealthy proprietor of an upscale Chicago art gallery? Absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, I would have to come up with a plot that included a vital reason for Caroline to meet Alana O’Neill and Rebecca Standish.

After several sleepless nights wracking my brain for an answer, I came up with the idea of Caroline inheriting some questionable paintings from the wife of a former patient. As an
expert on art, Rebecca could tell Caroline if her inheritance was worth
anything. And as a person familiar with all kinds of antiques, Alana could also
shed light on the value of the pictures.

So what kind of paintings would I have my heroine inherit? And what would make them questionable as to worth? Would they be long lost examples of some particular famous artist’s
work, or would they be cleverly reproduced but ultimately worthless counterfeits? It was obvious that I’d need to do some research if I wanted to get my facts right, and so I started to dig around on the Internet, surfing websites dedicated to the visual arts and painting. It was while doing so that I stumbled across a site that ultimately changed the entire course of my story.

To say any more would give away a major plot point in FRAMED. What I can tell you is this: you’ll find a clue as to the direction my story took in the pictures accompanying this post.

I can also tell you what Anthony award winning mystery author Julie Hyzy had to say about FRAMED:

FRAMED is at once suspenseful, fun, charming, and touching (and) closes with a great scene that will leave fans impatient for Caroline’s next adventure. Julie Hyzy, New York
Times bestselling author of AFFAIRS OF STEAK.

Yes, I had a lot of fun writing this novella. I hope you’ll have as much fun reading it! J

Mary V. Welk, http://www.marywelk/ and

Want to know more about HEARTS AND DAGGERS? Check out the following book description

Cupid’s arrow gives way to Death’s scythe in this trilogy of Valentine’s Day novellas featuring love and murder Midwest style. Antiques mall bookkeeper Alana O’Neill researches events
from sixty years ago to discover a murderer during a BLAST FROM THE PAST festival while her teen son resists romance in Amy Alessio’s novella. (15,500 words) Over twenty recipes plus variations from the author’s collection of vintage handwritten recipe boxes. Margot Justes’ A FIRE WITHIN finds rugged firefighter Kirk Adams struggling to keep Rebecca Standish,
the love of his life, safe from someone bent on fiery vengeance. (43,500 words)
Mary Welk’s FRAMED finds Caroline Rhodes gambling with danger when she falls
for a handsome card shark who might be more than just a thief of hearts.
(37,000 words) The three adventures interconnect as characters visit and help
each other in these latest installments from the authors’ popular series.
Till next time,
Margot Justes
Hearts & Daggers

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Mysterious Mona Lisa by Margot Justes

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder who are the true masters today, where centuries later, after we're long gone volumes will be written about their magnificent talent and far reaching foresight.

I really do wonder...

Till next time,
Margot Justes
Hearts & Daggers
A Hotel in Paris