Friday, January 20, 2012

Am I old yet?

My guest this week is author Morgan Mandel, who explores the dark side of eternal youth. Take it away, Morgan...

Am I old yet?  I’m not sure.  If so, when did it happen? Was it when I turned twenty-one and plucked out my first gray hair? Or when I got married three years later? People tied the knot much younger in those days.

I remember watching Bonanza on TV, and discovering Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts) was thirty-one. That seemed horribly ancient, until it happened to me.

All of a sudden I turned middle-aged, then before I knew it, I found an AARP application in the mail. I was kind of proud of my card, yet sad at the same time, realizing I’d already existed for half a century.  

When my parents passed away, it hit me that I was officially a member of the older generation, as they and others had been before me.

Now, when I stare at myself in the mirror, it’s strange to realize this is the same person who once climbed monkey bars and played hopscotch, went to sock hops, wore mini-skirts and bikinis, learned to disco dance and checked my mood ring to see if it had changed color.

Am I old yet? Inside, I still feel like the same person, but I don’t look the same. Would I like to be young again? Most of the time, I’m content with being who I am right now. Other times, I wonder what life would be like if I could delve into the Fountain of Youth and re-emerge young.

Writing is a blessing. Not only can I enter into the make-believe world of my characters, but I can also share that experience. Forever Young:  Blessing or Curse, is a result of my musings about being young again. It was written not only for Baby Boomers like me, who’d like to imagine reliving their youth, but also for those who don’t need to ask if they’re old yet.

About Forever Young
Fresh beginnings turn tragic when Dorrie Donato’s husband, Larry, is killed in a hit-and-run accident a few months after starting a new job at the Life is for Living Institute. Discouraged and desperate after suffering countless setbacks, Dorrie accepts an offer by Larry’s boss, the famous Angel Man, to  be the first to test an experimental pill designed to spin its user back to a desired age and hold there, yet still retain all previous memories.  The pill seems too good to be true. Maybe it is.

About Morgan Mandel
Before writing books, Morgan Mandel freelanced for the Daily Herald newspaper. She’s a past president of Chicago-North RWA, the former Library Liaison for Midwest MWA, and is a member of Sisters in Crime and EPIC. She enjoys writing thrillers, mysteries and romances, and has fun combining the genres.
Her latest paranormal romantic thriller Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, Book One of the Always Young Series, is available on Kindle, Nook, Itunes, Kobo, and Smashwords, plus other electronic venues.  Morgan’s previous novels, also available electronically, include the romantic suspense, Killer Career, the mystery, Two Wrongs, and the romantic comedy, Girl of My Dreams. Morgan is now working on Book Two of the Always Young Series, called Blessing or Curse: A Forever Young Anthology, where readers will learn what happens to others who take the Forever Young pill.  Another book will follow, bringing back the original heroine, to close out the series.

You can find Morgan Mandel at her blog:, website:, on Facebook:, on Twitter:, as well as other social media networks and egroups.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Ten Tips to Make Your Manuscript Shine

We self-publishers fight a lonely battle, finding readers for our wit and wisdom. We write alone, and now we sell alone and search for ways to market our work. How do we entice readers to open their wallets?
Those questions are often premature. Before asking how you're going to cope with all those book orders, you need to make sure you have a quality product. So here are ten tips to make your book, fiction or non-fiction, the best it can be.
#1 Use a spell-checker, but only as a first line of defense. Then you look for misspellings the spell-checker won't catch, such as then/than, to/too/two, tail/tale, or its/it's.
#2 Read your manuscript critically, as though you weren't the author. Some things to check include complete chapters, well-organized paragraphs, complete sentences, and accurate punctuation.
#3 Be consistent. If you capitalize a word once in the text, chances are you always want to capitalize it. Decide whether you want one space or two at the end of a sentence, and stick with it. Never change your font or type size without good reason. If your work consists of more than one file, be sure that every file is formatted identically.
#4 Get honest, competent critiques. Leave your mother and spouse alone; your family has better things to do than fawn over your work. Avoid critiques from anyone who has an emotional stake in making you happy, because that isn't what you need. The Internet Writing Workshop ( is an excellent source of constructive, informed criticism.
#5 Use your judgment. Even good critiquers may give you conflicting advice. Remember that it's your project, so the final decision is always yours.
#6 Refer to a style manual such as the Chicago Manual of Style, which is the most widely accepted guide for standard writing.
#7 Make a style sheet. A novel or other large manuscript can involve lots of small stylistic decisions by the author. Keep a pad of paper with a running list things you don't want to have to keep looking up. For example, a cartoon I liked showed a bank robber writing a note and asking the teller, "Is holdup one word or two?" Think of words you often misspell or don't know how to capitalize, and write them correctly on the list.
#8 Follow your publisher's guidelines religiously even if they don't insist.
#9 Repeat tip #2.
#10 Review the publisher's proof carefully. When you receive the publisher's proof isn't the time to look for typos; you should have done that already. At this stage, the publisher may even charge you if you fix many of your own mistakes at this stage. Instead, look for their errors. Are illustrations in their proper places? Are pages and chapters numbered properly? Look at every page's overall appearance. Is each one properly aligned? Is any text missing?
If you follow these simple (but not always easy) tips, I can't guarantee best-sellerdom for your book, but I can promise you this: Your book will be far superior to the vast majority of self-published books. You will have a quality product.
This article first appeared in Ezine Articles in 2007.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Review of Forever Young

Dorrie is a beautiful middle-aged woman who watches her husband Larry die in a tragic accident. Larry had worked for the Life is for Living Institute, which then offers Dorrie a job that includes being spokeswoman for their brand-new Forever Young pill. She can choose to revert to any age and stay there virtually forever without the worry of death by disease, so with some trepidation she becomes a gorgeous 24-year-old again. That's a blessing, right? Wouldn't we all love to revert to the prime of our lives?

But as the subtitle "Blessing or Curse" suggests, it gets complicated. Wouldn't you know that Larry died knowing a secret, and that not everyone wishes Dorrie well? What follows is a fast-paced romantic escapism with generally good dialog and interesting characters. Nitpickers will note that the Forever Young pill has been released to the public without FDA testing or approval. Dorrie is a well-crafted, likable heroine whom romance fans will surely root for.

Forever Young is a fun read even for a guy like me who's never read a romance before. It is available on Kindle and Smashwords.