About Me

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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Summer of Dragons, Fairies, Mutants, and Superheroes Galore

The summer movie season is in full swing and I've managed to get out and see most of the ones I wanted to pay money for. Here is a quick impression of each movie I've seen so far.

The Amazing Spiderman 2- I am always a little leery of sequels with movies. But this one was very enjoyable. There was lots of action with Spiderman fighting the bad guys, but there was quite a bit of humor throughout the movie as well. I will warn you that you will need a tissue box if you are prone to crying during sad parts in movies. There is one such part in the movie near the end that I wasn't expecting. But I will admit that I haven't read most of the comics I see the movies for. I just don't have time to keep up with all of them. I rely heavily on my younger brother to keep me straight on how well the movies stick to the storyline. I do believe that for spidey fans out there you won't be disappointed in this rendition. My son enjoyed it and he's a big spidey fan.

Picture of my personal DVD

I liked the fact that the storyline for X-men days of future past       resumes the thread were the origins movie left off and deals mainly     with Mystique's character. What I didn't enjoy about this movie was   the fact that you are thrust into the storyline in the future and get to watch all of the X-men being annihilated without really knowing what is going on. You get at least twenty minutes into the movie before you really understand what is happening. Also, [POSSIBLE SPOILER HERE] the young Charles Xavier is kind of a self-pitying jerk through most of the movie. Of course, Wolverine is awesome as usual and you do get to see a lot of him in one scene. So those of you with younger children be aware if you decide to take them to see this. Though, my son let out a surprised giggle and covered his eyes. My daughter forced me to cover mine. SMILE. For the most part I liked this movie and I enjoyed seeing the school up and running again at the end. I won't say more than that. If you are an X-men fan this movie is much better than the third one was and you actually get to cheer for Mystique throughout most of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence does a terrific job with her character.

Picture of my personal DVD

 I wasn't sure how this movie would turn Sleeping Beauty. I was pleasantly surprised. The writers did an excellent job of lending credence to Maleficent's reasons for hating King Stefan. I don't want to say too much here for fear of giving away the story, but it is an empowering story thread for young girls to go watch. I was very moved by Maleficent's narration of events in the same way I was moved by Elphaba's story in Wicked. I would recommend it to anyone who loves fairy tales and loves to see new interpretations on the traditional tales as told from the villain's point of view.
out. My daughter was very excited to see it so I went along mostly out of curiosity. After all, there are very few redeeming qualities about Maleficent in Disney's original animated version of

Picture of my personal DVD

I was very excited about seeing How toTrain Your Dragon 2. I loved the first one. I don't see how anyone can fail to love Toothless and his best friend Hiccup. In this rendition of the story, Hiccup and Toothless are about five years older. Now that Hiccup is considered a man his father is anticipating training him to take over as chief of the village of Berk. But, Hiccup is too busy to settle down to this responsibility. Instead, he spends most of his time exploring the world and trying to discover where the edges of civilization lie. In his travels he stumbles upon some dragon trappers who warn him of an impending invasion by a power hungry viking who is building a dragon army. Hiccup wanting to keep the peace sets off to try and reason with the villain and finds his mother in the process. All of this you can glean from the movie trailers. So, hopefully I'm not giving too much away for those of you still planning to see the movie. I loved it! But I will warn you that for younger children there is one part in the movie that is incredibly sad and even made my husband who claims not to be into these movies tear up a bit. As with most hero stories geared toward children the heroes do manage to save the day and the movie does end happily. If you loved the first movie you will enjoy this one.

As for the movies I'm still looking forward to seeing, I'm still anticipating the release of Melissa McCarthy's latest movie Tammy, and maybe Disney's Planes, Fire and Rescue. My son is looking forward to seeing the new Transformers movie. So I will probably be seeing that when it comes out. I'd also still like to see the new Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore movie, Blended. What about you? Any movies you would recommend? Leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I Challenge You to....Update

Finish this sentence below and help create a story arc. You can leave just one word or as many as you would like to finish the thought and carry on the tale in the comments section below. The only thing I request is that you keep it clean as kids do occasionally read my blog posts. Next week I will post the results of everyone's additions in a post and give author credit to everyone who participates. But for now I must run, I have kids to feed and a three year old to keep up with. Enjoy!

Sentence courtesy of my son:

It happened just before...

Here are the results of last week's challenge. I had three contributors participate so credits go to Margo Dill, Jocelyn Kasper, and an Anonymous person, whom I suspect was my daughter Abby Schwarz.

It happened just before the total eclipse of the moon. My insides turned upside down--just as the ground started to quake!

Quite an exciting start to a story. Just two sentences and already a lot has happened. Feel free to add to the story to help us figure out what may happen next. I will continue to add credits for as long as any of you want to continue the thread. And thanks again to those who contributed over the course of the week.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Does It Mean to Write Young Adult

A Guest Post by author Margo L. Dill  

Recently on Facebook, some of my writing friends had a discussion on how to write young adult books (YA). The discussion started with a post where a writer asked: "What makes a book YA? Is it just the age of the protagonist being a teenager?" Many people weighed in. Some agreed this was it. Some said it was serious subject matter handled less seriously than if it was written for adults. (Although I'm not sure this commenter had read any edgy YA recently. There's just about no subject that goes uncovered in YA books!)

It also can't be the age the readers or people buying the books that make them YA anymore either. I'm sure you've heard of the controversy going on over at The Slate, where one of the writers said adults should be embarrassed to read books intended for children. (I think even teens are offended by this since they are being called children.) Anyway, if you want to write young adult or you think you are writing young adult, how do you know?

I've been thinking about this question ever since that Facebook post. Here's what I came up with. . . 

Photo provided by Margo Dill
 When I wrote Caught Between Two Curses (contemporary YA, released March 2014, Rocking Horse Publishing), I did make my main character, Julie, 17 and set the book the summer before her senior year. So, I do think that's one of the main criteria for YA--the main character is a teenager.

The second criteria is that the teenager deals with teen problems. Although in CBTC Julie must break curses and save her family, she also has to figure out what to do about the boy she loves and his pressure to have sex. She has to decide who to go to Homecoming with. She has to choose between a loyal female friend and her feelings for her best male friend. She has detention. She has homework. She has to babysit her younger cousin. These are all teen problems!

The third thing that makes YA books young adult is: Who is the "intended" audience? There are adult books that have teenage characters, such as The Whole Golden World by Kristina Riggle. But that book was written for an adult, mostly female, audience. When I wrote Caught Between Two Curses, I was writing for a teenage audience. One of the first rules you learn about writing in elementary school is that you must consider your audience when writing anything. Your audience will affect the choices you make while writing. I heard YA author Sarah E. Fine, who is also a psychologist, say this during a workshop at the Missouri Writer's Guild conference a couple years ago, and it stuck with me. YA books are written for teenagers. This doesn't mean only teens can enjoy them, but that's the intended audience.

What do you think? Do you agree with my three criteria? Do you have any others you would add?

photo provided by Margo Dill
Margo L. Dill is the author of Caught Between Two Curses, a YA light paranormal romance novel about the Curse of the Billy Goat on the Chicago Cubs, and Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg, a historical fiction, middle-grade novel. She currently has two more books under contract--both are picture books--with High Hill Press and Guardian Angel Publishing. Publication dates of both are to be determined. Besides being a children's author, she is also a freelance editor with the business, Editor 911: Your Projects Are My Emergency! and she is part of the WOW! Women On Writing e-zine's staff as an editor, blogger, instructor, and social media manager. She is also an editor for High Hill Press and specializes in memoirs, historical fiction, and children's and YA novels. Margo loves presenting workshops to writing groups and school groups. When she is not writing or editing, Margo loves to spend time with her husband, stepson, daughter, and crazy Boxer dog, Chester. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri; and if she could eat out every day, she would! She is also a member of the St. Louis Zoo, and this is one of her family's favorite places to go! Find out more at http://margodill.com/blog/.

Photo provided by Margo Dill
SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it's not just any-old-regular curse, either-it's strangely connected to the famous "Curse of the Billy Goat" on the Chicago Cubs.

Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time.

Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family's future, and her own love life--and time is running out!


To purchase a copy of Caught Between Two Curses, go to any of these links: Amazon , GoodreadsBarnes and Noble, and Indiebound

To find out more about Margo and her other books or editing services check out the following sites:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Name, name, what's the big deal about names?

Would romance spring to mind if roses were called cabbages?

Recently, (as in just a few minutes ago) I read an article about how to tell how old someone is by their name. Here is the link: How to Tell Someone's Age When All You Know is Her Name.

If you do read the article it really makes you think about name trends for babies and how we use this to form impressions about people before even seeing them. For instance, what do you think of when you hear of someone named Gertrude or Elmer? Does a young toddler come to mind? I'm just as guilty as the next person. When I read these names I immediately thought of older people.

This led me to do a search about what's in a name. I found another website that talked about the significance of names using mathematical principles based on an entire philosophy about names called the Kabalarian Philosophy. Feeling adventurous I typed in my first name for them to do a free simple analysis of it. Some of what their analysis came up with was true, some of it wasn't. I do like to think I'm creative and inventive. People do tend to share their problems with me and I do try to give them good advice and be a good listener for them. Sadly, I also do tend not to follow my own good advice at times. However, I don't generally have many problems with my sinuses, ears, or have lots of headaches. I also don't have problems with hair loss thank goodness. If I really felt my name impacted my hair situation I'd probably change it. Happily I tend to believe genetics plays a greater part in this rather than my name.

As human beings we do put great store in naming things, including ourselves. It does form our first impression with others and is based in our conscious reasoning and ability to create language as our basis for communication. If you enjoy reading or writing it also can lead to hours lost looking through baby name books and searching the web looking up names and reading what they mean. I admit I've always been fascinated with names and where they originated and what meaning they might have. Picking out names was one of the things I enjoyed most when I was anticipating the addition of a child to my family.

Choosing the right name for someone or something is important--whether real or fictitious. Shakespeare pondered whether a rose by another name would smell as sweet. I ponder whether calling a rose a cabbage instead would affect the sale of said flowers on Valentine's Day. Can you envision someone giving a you a lovely bouquet of red cabbages as a romantic gesture. What do you think? Do you think your name in part defines you? Is choosing a name for someone/ or something hard for you and a bit of a chore or something fun you enjoy? Leave a comment and let me know and don't forget to check in on Thursday for my guest post by author Margo Dill. She'll be discussing what makes a book YA (young adult).

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Caught up in Romance, Magic, & Baseball, Oh My

Summer time is here and with it fun new reads await. If you like baseball mixed with a little light romance and magic try Margo Dill's new YA novel Caught Between Two Curses.

In it, seventeen year old Julie Nigelson feels her love life has hit a major rough patch. Her long time boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex and she's starting to have stronger than just friends feelings for her best friend Matt. But she soon learns that romance with the women in her family can be life threatening. It turns out her family is cursed. A revelation Julie's aunt shares when Julie's uncle and father figure falls victim to the curse. Julie is their only hope for breaking it and saving her uncle.

Caught Between Two Curses, is a fun summer escape. Julie is an appealing character who is determined but who still finds a way to remain true to herself as she struggles to understand who she truly loves and what she will do to save her friends and family. Margo Dill does an excellent job of tying the billy goat curse on the Chicago Cubs into the one on her character. A supporting cast of characters from Julie's incorrigible younger cousin to her eccentric grandmother add humor and heart to the story. I really enjoyed this novel and right now during baseball season is the perfect time to read it. You can purchase a copy at AmazonBarnes and Noble, or even purchase a signed copy from Rocking Horse Publishing. Stop by next week to enjoy a guest post by author Margo Dill as she discusses writing for the YA genre.