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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

More Holiday Recipes by Margot Justes Redux


In many of my baking recipes you will detect an underlying theme-rum-the wonderful aroma of rum adds a festive touch to the baking process, and Myers’s is an excellent dark rum.

Banana-Nut-Rum Bread
½ cup cooking oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs-beaten
4 or 5 ripe bananas-mashed
2 cups Flour (I use whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup of raisins (I soak mine in rum overnight)

Beat oil and sugar together. Add the beaten eggs and banana pulp and beat well. Add the dry ingredients, milk and vanilla. Mix well and stir in nuts, raisins with rum, and chocolate chips. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3) I use lasagna pan, cooks more evenly.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 F for about an hour. Cool well before cutting.

Rum Balls
2 1/2 cups Vanilla Wafers
5 1/2 cups ground walnuts
1 cup of honey
1 cup of rum
1 cup or as needed confectioner’s sugar

Mix all ingredients, form into small balls and roll in sugar. I usually let them sit on foil paper for a day or so and then arrange on platter. You may need to sprinkle them with additional powdered sugar.

Poppy Seed Cake
This one takes time, but if you like poppy seeds, you’ll love this coffee cake.
1 cup of milk
1 package of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
1/3 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 1/4 cups of flour
2 tsp vanilla

Scald milk, cool to a warm temp, add yeast and 1 tsp sugar; stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand for about 10 minutes. Yeast should puff up in the milk.
Cream butter, add 1/2 cup of sugar, beat in eggs and salt. Add flour alternating with yeast mixture. Knead on floured surface. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise until doubled.
Cut dough in half and roll it out the length of your cookie sheet, spread the poppy seed filling and form into a log, sealing the ends. Put on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  The two rolls should fit on cookie sheet. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Poppy Seed Filling (double the recipe for the two cakes)
1 can of poppy seed filling (I use Solo)
Rind of 1 lemon
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
11/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 raisins
Mix all ingredients and spread on rolled out dough.
1 egg slightly beaten and 1 tsp of water; mix egg and water and brush on cakes.
Let the cakes rise for a couple of hours, brush again with egg mixture, and then put in pre-heated oven at 350F and bake for an hour. Cool and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate
This is my version, with extra dark chocolate.
1 8 oz glass of milk, I use skim. (I conserve calories wherever I can...she wrote laughingly)
1 Tablespoon dark unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa (I like the unsweetened cocoa, the flavor is much stronger)
4 squares Ghirardelli 72% dark or 2 tablespoons Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
(optional)

Heat milk and cocoa, make sure cocoa and milk are well blended, use a small wisk if necessary. When the milk is hot take 4 squares or 2 tablespoons of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (to taste) put it in and mix until completely melted. You can sprinkle a bit of shaved chocolate on top. Sweeten to taste, or add a few small marshmallows on top.  

You can of course use sugar or sweetened cocoa, but it's the good cocoa and dark chocolate that gives it the added richness. It is a delicious treat, and easy to make. 

I love hot cocoa, and use the Bialetti machine to speed the process up a little. It heats up and froths the milk at the same time. I even use it to froth a large quantity of milk for cappuccinos, and lattes.

These are among my favorite sweet recipes during the holiday season that starts with Halloween and ends with the New Year.


Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fudge Recipe by Margot Justes



The holiday season is upon us, and I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes with you. This week it is fudge; easy to make and delicious.

Fudge

1 stick of butter

1 large can of evaporated milk

2 oz bitter chocolate (I only use Ghirardelli chocolate)

12 oz semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 lbs sugar (4 ½ cups)

12 oz dark chocolate

½ lb small marshmallows

1 ½ tbsp Vanilla

1 cup of chopped walnuts-Optional (I use 2 cups)

1cup of raisins-Optional (I soak them in Myer’s dark rum overnight, and mix the rum into the chocolate-not a drop is wasted) Soaking the raisins is optional, but the rum adds a terrific taste to the fudge.

Combine butter, canned milk and sugar, stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, cook to a boil, about 5 minutes.

Turn off heat and add marshmallows, stir until melted, add the 3 types of chocolate, one at a time, stir until each is dissolved. Add vanilla, raisins with all the rum, nuts and stir.

Line a cookie sheet with saran wrap, extending the edges; pour the fudge into the cookie pan, spread evenly with knife or spatula.

Let dry for 2 days. Invert the fudge unto your counter, remove wrap and let dry for another 2 days. Cut into squares and serve.

This recipe makes quite a bit of fudge, I cut it all up and store in tin cans or sealed plastic bags. My family loves the fudge, and it usually doesn’t last very long. Makes a great gift too.

http://feedads.g.doubleclick.net/~a/aYQrnwWOEWAo75fIO3lJrr564u0/0/di
Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
A Fire Within
Blood Art
www.mjustes.com

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Annapolis, MD Boat Show by Margot Justes

Spent the day at the boat show in Annapolis, yesterday. The air was nippy, and breezy, but it didn't stop many from visiting and boarding the many boats on display.

I took a few pictures, it seems boating is rather a favorite activity in the area-and many actually live on board year round. Not a bad lifestyle.

I'm still enjoying my condo living, but maybe down the road in a couple of years,  I'll exchange the condo for a boat. Downsizing is not a bad thing, in fact it forces you to accumulate less stuff. At my age-that is an excellent thing.











Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com

Friday, October 9, 2015

Asheville, NC and the Biltmore Estate by Margot Justes

On my way back from Atlanta and the GA RWA conference, I stopped in Asheville, NC. and fell in love. I thought I'd share a few with you, and will download others for you to enjoy.

The Biltmore Chateau is amazing, as are the grounds. Pictures weren't allowed inside the estate, so I bought the book.





Cheers,
Margot Justes
www.mjustes.com

Monday, September 7, 2015

Blood Art 1st Chapter by Margot Justes


Florence, Italy 1503
"I am a vampire, Leonardo."
"I am well aware of that fact, Nikolai, but you have the soul of an artist."
"I repeat: I am a vampire. And make no mistake—I have no soul."
As a course for survival, Nikolai lost his soul centuries ago, but there was no reason in belaboring the point. Leonardo da Vinci was entitled to his belief.
Nikolai stood in the middle of the cavernous room and looked around him. Flickering candles cast shadows on the walls. A massive wooden desk was shoved against bare brick, one end piled with old rags coated in deep and rich colors. Leonardo's palette lay on the floor recklessly abandoned, and paint splashes had spilled onto the wooden floor, filling the wide cracks between the boards. A stale oil smell permeated the room; used candles were everywhere, surrounded by mounds of spent wax. Books were stacked up on the floor against another wall, one on top of the other. An old wooden chair pushed against a corner, stained with crimson paint; the cushion looked like a splash of blood. A tapestry covered the wall where a makeshift straw bed lay on the floor.
"I repeat: You, my dear friend, have the soul of an artist. Vampire or not."
"I collect art, hence our deep and abiding friendship—all due to your masterful accomplishments. I have no other such talents. At least, other than being eternal, ageless and my uncanny ability to amass a fortune at every opportunity. Typical vampire standards: anything I want, when I want, and how I want. Staying alive for eons does allow one to become complacent. Despite the danger, eternal existence does permit certain pleasures. And for me, the building of a sizable art collection is most gratifying, and a venture which I intend to continue through the ages." The brusque, low voice was mesmerizing in its intensity, and hid any emotion, any visible trace of anguish. He simply stated these facts as if they were nothing.
Nikolai Volkov watched as Leonardo picked up burned out candles and stray brushes he had left everywhere.
"Nikolai, you support artists that are being ignored, ridiculed. You redeem us. You recognize ageless talent. I am egotistical enough to say that in the coming centuries I will survive through my art."
"Of that I have no doubt. Again, that is why I collect your paintings; your drawings alone are incomparable. I know you will survive. And you will increase my wealth substantially." Nikolai turned and looked at the various paintings leaning against one of the stone walls. In the corner canvases were stacked in no particular order, and next to them wooden planks.
Leonardo's studio was plain, utilitarian, and filled with finished and unfinished works of art, all of which Nikolai coveted and wanted to own. Possess.
"Yes, I am sure I will survive, but only through my art. You have and will continue to survive through other means. Ones I do not wish to think about."
"I have paid dearly for my survival." Nikolai touched his cheek, feeling the ridge of the deep scar on his face. That attack had been particularly brutal. The cut went all the way to the bone, and not allowed to heal. Lucrezia Borgia told him it would mar his stunning beauty and further bind him to her, both physically and emotionally. She was wrong on both counts. He considered the scar his badge of courage and tenacity.
His surreal beauty, as she had once described it, now marred by that one scar. A reminder of torture. A memory not to be forgotten. Vampires do not scar, yet that one single scar on his body remained, as if an omen of things yet to come. Centuries of memories all held within that singular ridged cut on his face that slashed down to his very soul. The one he claimed not to have.
He was tall, over six-foot-three, with hair black as night. His eyes were as blue as sapphires and frigid as the Arctic ice. Nikolai was built hard, like Michelangelo's David, and just as cold.
The lethal combination fostered first and foremost fear from man and demon alike. And admiration, from women. All women. He never lacked for company. Yet, they all left him unsatisfied, and yearning for something he didn’t understand.
"Leonardo, will you paint a portrait for me?" Nikolai spoke quietly, staring at a painting stacked against a wall, his back to Leonardo.
"You?"
"No. Not me." Nikolai replied, his bleak smile was more of a grimace that did not reach his eyes. "This will be from memory. My memory."
"Does she mean something to you? I assume you are speaking of a woman."
"Yes, I was. And yes, she meant something to me." He ran his finger along the jagged scar.
"Ah, I see. I gather she was not a pleasant memory.''
"You gather correctly."
"I will do it for you. Tell me everything you know about her. Every single memory. Every movement. Everything you remember. Give me a perfect description of the mysterious woman. It will be my gift to you."
"I do not wish to keep the painting." Nikolai visibly shuddered at the thought. "You may do with it what you will. Burn it in hell for all I care." His reply was savage.
"I see." Leonardo replied thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. "Why do you want me to paint it?"
"To exorcise a demon. One among many."
"Do you wish to discuss it, my friend?"
"No. Just paint the damn thing. You will be well paid."
"No," Leonardo replied vehemently, shaking his hand in the air. "There will be no money changing hands. I will paint it. I will not burn it; I will sell it. I do have a payment to demand of you. Once I am done, I expect to hear why I painted it. That is my demand. Do you agree?"
"Yes, damn you. I will agree to your terms. Your absurd demand."
"Why absurd? She obviously damaged you. I would have to be an idiot not to recognize the symptoms. And I am not an idiot."
"Yes, I am fully aware that you are not an idiot. You should be terrified of me. Yet you are not. You reason things out. You think. A vampire, even in your century, should horrify you. Yet, I do not."
"You terrify me, all right. Your power. Your strength. Your ability to kill without thought. Your survival through the centuries. Your knowledge of the past. Yes, you alarm me, my friend."
"Alarm…that is a milksop statement. Leonardo, look at your own drawings. You see what is to come. What does that say about you? Your work foreshadows the future. It is right there in your drawings." Nikolai pointed to a canvas leaning against a wall. "You are more than an artist; our long discussions have proven that. You are a genius. A man of re-birth. You, here and now, could be considered demonic. That is how some would interpret your work."
"I will ignore that. It is safer not to discuss people and their survival methods—it might be misunderstood. Fortunately for me, my work is not well understood. Most everyone sees a painting or a drawing, nothing more. Perhaps they even think I am mad. A simple man cannot interpret what I imagine simply by looking at my canvas. That is indeed very good for me." Leonardo sighed. "Now, let us get back to your description of the woman."
"Have I touched a sensitive spot?" the vampire asked. Sarcasm dripped from every word.
"Yes." Leonardo hissed between his teeth. "Now, give me the damn description."
"Paint her as you would a beloved portrait. Make her mysterious. Enigmatic. Serene. Perfectly poised to attract attention. Paint her as the central and pivotal person in the scene. In fact blur everything else. Nothing should matter much save her face and hands. Long, beautiful fingers, elegant hands with perfect skin, relaxed. Incapable of hard work. Make her look innocent. Wistful." Nikolai stopped speaking, and again touched his face along the line of the scar.
"Make the damn demon, the savage beast…saintly. That will be the joke for centuries to come. Paint it dark, yet give her light. A shimmer, so that she almost glows. Make her irresistible. Give her eyes that damn the soul. Eyes that see beyond the present. Is that enough for you?"
"Yes. Do I have leave to choose the color of her hair and eyes?" Leonardo asked quietly, captivated by Nikolai’s mesmerizing voice and the tortured memories he was reliving.
"I do not care what color you choose. Dark is what I desire."
"It shall be done. You want her to look enigmatic, a mystery through the ages. How is that for conceit? She will survive centuries, whereas I will die."
"You, my friend, will be reborn every time someone looks at your work. But you already know that. Your art will speak for you for eternity."
"Let us continue as we have in the past, Nikolai." Leonardo preferred to ignore rather than acknowledge the reality of his existence. "Your life is eternal. You do not age. Let us leave it at that. Be careful not be recognized, it might endanger you."
"I am four hundred years old. Through the centuries of battles, corruption, and betrayal, no one pays any attention to whether or not I age. Everyone is consumed with their own survival. I expect that in the future, I shall need to take better care."
"Take better care, but live. Even if you cannot be killed, live as you have done in the past." Leonardo spoke softly, as if afraid of being overheard.
"I aim to live better, and I can be killed; one just has to know how. I certainly do not discuss that aspect of my survival. I am alone, removed from my clan. Solitary, my lair and art my only comfort. It has been this way for centuries and, make no mistake, Leonardo—it is a lonely existence. You, my friend are a true master and you bring me a great deal of pleasure. Someday your work will be priceless. Look at your drawings. See the things I see in your work. You behold the future in front of you."
 "Indeed." Leonardo dismissed Nikolai's predictions with a wave of his hand. "I may need you again, after I begin the portrait, of course." Leonardo spoke absentmindedly, stretching his fingers, already thinking about the unusual commission. 

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
Blood Art
www.mjustes.com
www.mjustes.com

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Barcelona by Margot Justes









I’m working on the fourth hotel book, and this one is set in Barcelona. It is a city filled with art, amazing architecture and an incredible zest and appreciation for life.
Barcelona is exciting, vibrant and the locals know how to enjoy themselves, they possess the joie de vivre that is hard to miss, and often times hard to find.

The architecture is unsurpassed, modern and old blends well together, and of course there is Gaudi-it is worth a visit to Barcelona just to see his work. It is unforgettable. I loved it so much that I posted a separate blog about his stunning and imaginative style. The amazing thing is that once you see it, you want to do it again, and again, simply because you probably missed the marvelous details the first time through. His work is beyond whimsy.

There are museums to be sure, Miro, Dali and Picasso have a foundation in Barcelona. The stunning architecture will take your breath away, everywhere you turn you see a magnificent building, from Gothic to Art Nouveau to the indescribable and incomparable Gaudi treasures, to contemporary and everything in between. Landmarks abound.

At any given time stroll on La Rambla, and you’ll see locals and savvy tourists sit down in a cafe and enjoy a beer, tapas, coffee, along with a dish of green olives, or just stroll arm in arm on the wide avenue that is both romantic, hectic and invigorating. There are many souvenirs shops that line the famous paseo, all the kitschy tourist stuff, pottery, foods and other items made locally, along with entertainment, and all of it delightful.

The street is filled to capacity, and I for one at this stage in my life don’t like crowds, and if truth be told-never did-but I really rather enjoyed the lovely walk, and a stop for the obligatory delicious coffee. I had a wondrous adventure just walking down the street. You see people smile, nod their heads in acknowledgement as you stroll along as if in a romantic dream.

The city also boasts a beautiful coast line, and one of the biggest ports in Europe, along with some beautiful parks, even one designed by Gaudi.

Have I forgotten to mention the food-it is delicious-they create a mouth watering delight   with just potatoes. Okay, I’m Polish and happen to love potatoes, but the Patatas Bravas are truly yummy, roasted potatoes, a yummy sauce with a slight bite that you feel on the tip of your tongue. The excellent bread and incredible local hams would have kept me happy for a long time.

A huge array of cheeses, hams, breads, olives, an amazing selection of fish, all that is available in many tapas bars. The offerings are small, so you can visit many places and taste the amazing variety of appetizers. A delightful and delicious way to sample the local cuisine.

Shopping abounds on Passeig de Gracia, favorably compared to other famous boulevards with prices to match. I enjoyed the walk, and window shopping, the displays are imaginative and fun, and I was grateful that I travel light with little room for souvenirs.
That being said, I managed to buy a few small trinkets for family and friends, the souvenir shop at the Gaudi Casa Batllo was amazing, and yes-all my souvenirs came from that shop.

There are many hotels and as always prices range from low to high, it all depends on your budget. You will find delicious and reasonably priced tapas bars off the main tourist areas, but if you’re in with the tourist crowds be prepared to pay. I do a bit of research  before I leave, but I always allow for a tourist trap or two.

I booked the Casa Fuster Hotel, on Passeig de Gracia 132, on my first visit, a beautiful hotel reminiscent of Gaudi’s work, the service was superb, the rooms a good size, the breakfasts superb, and  the staff always eager to help with directions and available tours, they were friendly and caring. I hope to return and stay there again.

The second hotel was the Majestic, also on Passeig de Gracia 68-70, was a little more centrally located-by just a few blocks from Casa Fuster. That being said, I would rather walk the additional 4 or 5 blocks than stay at the Majestic again, lack of overall service, and a snippy registration cured me of ever staying there a second time.

The Majestic staff lost interest after I didn’t want to book a private car to Montserrat to the tune of 600Euros. After a discussion on booking a reasonable tour failed, a short 10 minute walk took me to a travel agency, where I was able to book a round trip ride for 29EU that would take me to the Montserrat  Monastery for the better part of the day. It is a trip not to be missed. I’ll post a separate blog on the location-it is in the mountains and it is magnificent.

I’m a breakfast person, and tend to eat the meal at the hotel to save on time, and the breakfast at the Majestic was outstanding. I couldn’t have asked for a more varied or delicious selection, and the coffee was delicious, but the lack of care and concern from the registration staff ruined any chance of my return to the hotel.

Barcelona has it all, and is definitely worth a visit or two, or three.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hot Crimes Cool Chicks
www.mjustes.com

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Settings by Margot Justes









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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
Blood Art
A Fire Within
www.mjustes.com

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Writing and Finishing by Margot Justes



 There is a sense of relief, once the end is typed, and the manuscript is finished, well at least written. I'm at that stage now. 

English is not my first language, and when I came to this country (a few years-as in many- years ago), students were put in a class based on age-and the grammar part has long past.

I have been assured by my editor that my grammar is not that bad, and I think that is due to the fact that I love to read, but I digress...Finishing a manuscript is a wondrous sense of relief, because while writing, it seems as if it won’t ever happen.

I edit every time I sit down to write, and once the manuscript is finished it goes to my editor and she goes through it, then of course I read it and invariably make corrections based on her recommendations-especially in grammar. Then it goes back to the editor, well you get the drift. I have my final two, three, four reads and off it goes to the formatter.

I’m an indie author and my formatter does all the magical stuff to make sure everything is done correctly. Once he’s done I read it again, and invariably I find little errors, and back it goes. By the time I get the last peek, it really doesn’t matter because I expect to see all the words aligned perfectly, and in place.  

The writing process is humbling, I start off excited, I have an idea and off I go. Then reality sets in, I have to figure out what will happen and how will I ever tie all the pieces together. Since I write by the proverbial seat of my pants, the endings tend to surprise me. That was especially true in A Hotel in Venice.

One day the story is terrific, the next it is rubbish that no one will want to read, the next day, it’s not so bad, back to rubbish...you get the drift. It is a never ending process of self doubt, until finally everything falls into place, and then I wonder exactly how did that all work out? That being said, the doubts persist, at least for me.

A Hotel in Venice has been released, and now I’m working on A Hotel in Barcelona. I love the characters, Barcelona is beautiful, with an astounding zest for life, the architecture sublime, food delicious, what better place for a honeymoon.



A Hotel In Venice


Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com




Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tall Ship visits Alexandria by Margot Justes

The French Tall Ship Hermione visited Alexandria, and the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Below are a few pictures.









Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
www.mjustes.com
margot@mjustes.com

Saturday, June 13, 2015

This and That by Margot Justes


I haven’t posted any blogs for the last three weeks, went back to Illinois, had a book signing in Galena, visits with friends, and Printers Row in Chicago.

The best moment at Printers was when a woman who bought A Hotel in Paris on Saturday, came back for A Hotel in Bath on Sunday, and took information on A Hotel in  Venice, scheduled for release later this month.

Working on the release details for A Hotel in Venice, I wonder if offering the first book in a series free on Kindle is worthwhile. I know it’s important to build name recognition, and increased long term readership, but do people that download the books for free actually even read them?

I’ve heard pros and cons about the free promotion and tried it twice-not sure it was worth  it.  I do like the idea of posting quotes from the book on Twitter and Facebook.

My little niche market is growing, and I’ve been told by readers that they love my art world, and while reading my books they have learned a little about art. That pleased me more than anything.  I always tell anyone who will listen, art is everywhere we turn, and that it is highly therapeutic.

Price is important too, a reader is more likely  to give a midlist author a chance if the book is priced reasonably, a dollar, two, three or four-the price of coffee depending on what you buy. I’d never say substitute coffee for a book, after all my heroine is addicted to the brew as is her creator-but...

Back home and my normal schedule, I stepped out of my comfort zone, and finished a first draft of a thriller  sans romance. I was asked to do it, and before I knew it I was writing the story.

Cheers,
Margot  Justes
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
Hearts & Daggers
Blood Art
www.mjustes.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Hotel in Venice Cover Reveal by Margot Justes


A romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal, a shimmer reflected in the moonlit night, and the beginning of murder and mayhem for Minola Grey and Peter Riley.

I thought I'd share with you the cover for A Hotel in Venice, scheduled for release end of June.







Cheers,
Margot  Justes

Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
www.mjustes.com

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pictures from Montserrat, Spain by Margot Justes

I thought I'd share a few pictures of breathtaking Montserrat, Spain. If you're ever in Barcelona, make the effort and visit, you will not be disappointed.













Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
A Fire Within
and coming in June A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tenerife, Canary Islands by Margot Justes












Tenerife, is the largest of the Canary Islands, and according to our guide has a population of about 800,000 people.

The capital and major port is Santa Cruz, that is where we docked and spent the day touring. It is a the major port of the island, and Santa Cruz has a population of about 220,000 residents.

It is bright, lively, like many tourist attraction there are beaches, high rises-at least high rises for a volcanic island-shops, gardens, restaurants along with many houses that have staircases that seem to climb up to infinity-a perfect venue for rest and relaxation. The climate and landscape are very diverse, and there are more things to see here than the other two islands I visited.

A short bus ride took us to the beautiful market, neatly laid out, one aisle after another offers produce, meat and sausages, cheeses, flowers, spices-you can stop for coffee and soak up the atmosphere. The items for sale seem never ending, and the aromas were divine, especially from the spice areas.

The next stop was the Archeological Museum that has impressive exhibits of the life and death of the Guanche society-the first inhabitants of the Canary Islands dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

A fascinating exhibit that lists many of the plants found on the islands, reminiscent of the Audubon style, they were beautifully drawn and labeled and framed. There is a knob on each of the framed exhibits and when you pull on the knob you open a door, and it has a picture or drawing of the discoverer of the plant. Very neat indeed. This museum serves as a learning center for all the schools in the Canary Islands. 

Our next stop was La Laguna, a World Heritage Site. Designated a site because of the buildings, the intrinsic layout of the city, its colorful and distinctive architecture and beautiful patios. Smaller than Santa Cruz, it is more intimate and somewhat less touristy.

We stopped and visited another market square, this one smaller and older, but equally charming. Then on to the Cathedral and a couple of the famous interior patios. We had a few minutes to shop and stop for coffee. I opted for the coffee and a wonderful local delicacy, fried bread that I swear had custard inside, it was soft, gooey and delicious.

 Cheers,
Margot  Justes
Blood Art
A Fire Within
A Hotel in Paris
A Hotel in Bath
and coming in June A Hotel in Venice
www.mjustes.com