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, July 29, 2014

Roaring into the Twenties

This past week I blissfully traveled back in time to the era of the Roaring Twenties. I hopped across the ocean to Melbourne, Australia where I followed the adventures of a daring lady detective as she investigated crimes of various kinds most involving acts of murder. Then I skipped back across the pond to Manhattan where I followed a young flapper by the name of Evie O'Neill on a series of adventures dealing with the mystical occult to help her stop a serial killer before he succeeded in bringing about the end of days.

It was a full week. I was mesmerized by the fashions of the time, the jazz music that made me want to hum and tap my feet, and the giddiness of the young people embracing a new modern era of wonders. How is this possible you might ask?

Well it all began with a mystery series I became engrossed in called Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It is actually an Australian TV series that is based on books written by Kerry Greenwood about a certain Miss Phryne Fisher, lady detective. (First name is pronounced Fry-on-nee). Miss Fisher is thoroughly, what was referred to in the day as, a modern. In other words, she wears her dresses short, and considers herself the equal to any man and feels free to do as she likes as a single, independent, woman of means. After enduring a horrific war with the rest of her generation there is little Phryne won't do or try. She is determined to live her life to the fullest and so far in the series she has. As a lady detective she has proven adept at racing cars, flying planes, cracking open safes, and doing fan dances, all in the name of solving the case and catching a murderer. Netflix only has season one available to watch right now. But my mom loves this series so much she bought season 2 and let me borrow it. So all last week I got to continue my Miss Fisher fix. I also now own two of the books by Ms. Greenwood and plan to enjoy following Phryne's adventures in them.

As I was watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries by day, I started reading Libba Bray's latest trilogy, The Diviners. I'd read one of her earlier trilogies set in the turn of the last century and really liked it. So when she came out with The Diviners set in the 1920s I was very intrigued. Then I found a copy of the book on discount at my local bookstore and bought it. As I was already caught up in the thrill of the era on TV, I figured it was the perfect time to delve into this YA novel set in the same time period. I was not disappointed. The Diviners was a page turner from start to finish. It kept me up far later at night than I should have been reading because I simply couldn't put it down. Ms. Bray perfectly captures the enthusiasm and cynicism of the times. As you follow the characters, a group of seventeen-year-olds coming to terms with their supernatural powers, you are caught up in a whirl wind of parties, nightclubs serving bootleg gin, shows such as the Ziegfield Follies, and the outcroppings of cults and fanatics determined to pull society back from a new modern outlook on life. Evie O'Neill the main character has never felt she belonged anywhere. When she is shipped off to live with her uncle in New York City she decides this is her chance to create her own path, her own destiny. Despite her many mishaps she learns to embrace who she is and stop hiding her abilities. Along the way she meets other young people with secrets and powers of their own. Together this group of young and brave moderns must find a way to stop an unknown evil from bringing about the apocalypse. And while the end leaves you satisfied that they have stopped a crazed killer, you still feel that there is more to the story and another round of baddies still out there for the Diviners to fight. It was a terrific book and I'm only sorry the sequel won't be out until spring of next year.

All in all it was a most thrilling week. I might have to go back and revisit the past again before the next season of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries comes out on DVD or the next Diviners book comes out. But for now I will content myself with another series of books, The Twisted Lit. series, that are modern retellings of Shakespeare plays. Right now I'm reading Tempestuous by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes which is loosely based on The Tempest

We are such stuff, As dreams are made on...-William Shakespeare, The Tempest


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adventures in Summerland


My daughter in period dress for Jane Austen festival

Sadly, summer vacation is nearing its end. I think overall it has been a good summer break for me and the kids. We've gotten to see most of the summer movies we wanted to. Though my son would remind me we still haven't made it to see Transformers IV yet. There have been trips to two amusements parks, a couple of visits to the water park here in town, and many afternoons spent swimming in the college pool. We've made it to two block parties and still have hopes we will get in one free summer movie in the park before school begins. There has been a lot more traveling back and forth and visiting with family than I expected. Part of this was the result of my mother's health issue that cropped up unexpectedly before summer vacation started. But she is doing well in spite of it.




Photo courtesy of Derby Dinner Playhouse and Molly B photography


 My daughter did a musical theatre camp at Derby Dinner Playhouse this summer which she thoroughly enjoyed. She got to learn songs from the musicals Pippin and Newsies. It was only a week long camp this year. She didn't want to commit to anything longer because summer break started so late. But she is hoping to do one of the Kentucky Shakespeare camps next year. Especially after seeing A Midsummer Night's Dream in Louisville's Central Park.


The shows are all free and are professionally done and performed in a beautiful park setting. I highly recommend them. For those of you who don't know Kentucky Shakespeare is the oldest free Shakespeare festival in the United States. Just something to be proud of here in the commonwealth of Kentucky. Sorry had to brag about that. For more information here is a link:http://kyshakespeare.com/

Most of my winning loot from Silent Auction







This past weekend I also got to enjoy the 7th Annual Jane Austen festival at Locust Grove with my mom, sisters, and daughter. I won something in the silent auction for a very good price. It has re-inspired me to read Persuasion before the year is through. I might even do a weekly post of my impressions of it compared to some of Miss Austen's other works as I read it.








The 4 of us at King's Island

I'm going to be sad when all our fun adventures end for the season. But we've made lots of great memories and we still have a few weeks left to go before it is through. My little girl has a birthday the end of this week (she'll officially become a teenager. YIKES!) and there is a week in Williamsburg, VA to look forward to. All in all not too bad for a shorter than usual summer break. What about you? What have been some of the things you've done this summer that were fun and memorable?

Monday, July 14, 2014

All-Star Game and Break CONTEST and BOOK SALE

Busch Stadium by Phil www.flickr.com
It's the middle of July. Baseball fans everywhere know that means it's time for the All-Star Game and short break from regularly scheduled baseball games across the United States. For non-loving baseball peeps, you can just keep on enjoying your summer as you have been: curled up with your favorite book, sipping cold lemonade, and relaxing by the pool. However you want to celebrate this week, please also join in the fun with young adult author Margo L. Dill as she holds a contest and book sale! 

Why during All-Star Game Week?

Great question! Margo's young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses (Rocking Horse Publishing, March 2014), is the story of 17-year-old Julie Nigelson, who 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, hence the All-Star baseball week celebration.

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! 

What have people been saying about Margo's book?

Here are a few lines from a couple reviews on Amazon.com:

"This book is one of the best I have read in a long time. Once I opened it up I could not stop until I was finished."  ~Janet Cannon

 "A baseball mystery and a contemporary, heartfelt romance, CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO CURSES is sure to score big with the young teen audience!" ~Cathy C. Hall

"I definitely recommend this to young adults, but really any adult because it's a story that keeps you interested and will stay with you long after you finish." ~Amie Merz


Okay, so what is the contest and the sale???

photo by DonkeyHotey flickr.com
Here's the part you've been waiting for.  First the sale: 

The Kindle ebook is...99 cents July 14/15, $1.99 July 16/17, $2.99 July 18/19, and back to $3.99 July 20.

The print copy is for sale ON MARGO'S WEBSITE (http://margodill.com/blog/books/) and is $5.00 off the cover price, so only $6.95 (+$3.00 for shipping and handling). She will autograph it and gift wrap if it's a gift, plus include a bookmark for free. More details at the link above. (The print version is also on sale for $10.76 (10 % savings) on Amazon.com.) 



 If you are an Amazon Prime Member, you can check out the e-BOOK for free at anytime!

The contest:
Go to the Rafflecopter form below this post--all you need to enter is your name and e-mail, which is how I contact you if you win one of the prizes. Do at least one of the tasks below and then click on the entry button to enter the contest. You can do as many tasks as you want! If you are confused or have any questions, please feel free to e-mail Margo at margo (at) margodill.com. Tasks range from leaving a review of Caught Between Two Curses to announcing the contest and sale on a social media page to uploading a photo of you in baseball gear. See below for more.

Margo L. Dill
The prizes:

One winner with a United States mailing address will win a $25 gift card to either Applebee's, TGI Fridays, Starbucks, Panera Bread, or Olive Garden (winner's choice). One runner-up winner will receive a free 3000-word critique from Margo (Editor 911)--this can be anywhere in the world as long as the document is in English. The contest goes from July 14 to July 20. Winners will be announced on July 21! 

What are you waiting for?
So, join in the fun and while you're entering the contest or buying a sale copy of Caught Between Two Curses, join in a rousing rendition of  "Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks. I don't care if I ever get back. . ." 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Plant Saver to the Rescue!



One of the joys of summer is having lots of fresh food to eat. Whether you grow it yourself or buy it at a local farmer's market, fresh fruits and veggies abound this time of year. But bugs, fungi, and animals pests can attack at a moments notice and without warning. It is enough to make a gardener weep. This year I've had another problem with one of my tomato plants having end blossom rot that it is trying to spread to my other plants. I've also had insects attacking the decorative hedges in front of my house and have been fighting gall on my forsythia bushes the last couple of years. It can be downright maddening. It can make a person want to throw in their gardening gloves. But I refuse to give in to these foes.

Instead, with advice from an extension agent and a biologist at the local university as well as my bug book, I pinpointed the insects responsible for my hedges suffering and losing leaves. I researched what kills them and how, and sent my husband out to save the day. He's good with chemicals. The gall is an ongoing battle I might never completely win, but I'm determined to give it my best shot. I've decided not to buy my tomato plants from a certain place ever again and am hoping that by continuing to rotate my plant placement I will avoid the end blossom rot on next year's tomatoes and by picking off the infected fruit this year as soon as I see it I can spare the fruit on the other healthy plants.

As for the wildlife that is determined to eat my fruit and some of my veggies, what fences don't keep out I'm currently training my dog to hunt down and chase away. It isn't an ideal solution but hopefully it will discourage the rabbits and squirrels some.

All of these problems have solutions if you are determined enough to look for them. And at the end of the day you can feel like a super-hero when you've bested your enemies to your plants. "The Plant Saver triumphs again! Hooray!" I can almost hear my plants cheering. Best of all you get to reap the rewards.


 

Well most of the time. I'm still mad at the squirrels who've been eating my strawberries every spring. I thought in previous seasons it was the bugs getting them, but my husband spotted one stuffing its face red pawed this June. Oh well, forewarned is forearmed. I'll be ready for the devious rodents next time. I just need to formulate a viable plan.

What about you? What are your favorite things about summer? What battles do you fight that make you feel like a super hero?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Schedule, Schmedule



Today I found myself emulating my turtle, Ted. She wanders about in the mornings watching the world around her from the safety of her asparagus box. This is her most active time of the day. After a few hours if there are no bugs to be found and no fresh food is lying about she buries herself in the dirt where it is cool and stays that way for the rest of the day.

That doesn't mean I looked for bugs this morning or gave myself a dirt bath. I don't eat bugs ever on purpose. Occasionally one will fly in my mouth and down my throat before I know what's hit me and I tell myself I've just inhaled some extra protein for the day while I'm choking. When I dig in the dirt it's usually to plant something.

But this morning I got up and took care of my animals, made sure my kids got some breakfast and enjoyed the people around me. Once I'd eaten breakfast myself, I watched an anime' movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki with my kids called Castle in the Sky. Then we went to summer reading time at the library and came home. I checked my garden for goodies ready to be picked. Scowled at the tomato the bugs or wild life partially ate before it was ripe because it was a nice big tomato. Then went back inside where it was cool and read my book and partially watched the World Cup game.

I didn't do much work. But I enjoyed my day. Sometimes you have to veer from the normal path and ignore your daily schedule. It doesn't mean I love my writing any less and if things go as they have the last few days my head will be teaming with ideas and snippets of story when it's time for everybody else to go to bed. I'll write down the snippets of dialogue or scene in my notebook and then I'll go to sleep feeling I've written at least a little bit. Much as I love my stories I do need a respite from them on occasion.

Sticking to a daily schedule helps keep me grounded and gives my life some balance. It also forces me to be accountable each week on my productivity. But sometimes I have to take a break from it. In order to make my fictional world real I have to take time to relax and enjoy the real world. I do that best by spending time with my kids and playing once in a while like they do. It reminds me of what I've got and how blessed I am when life gets back to being busy and frantic once summer wanes. When a loved one in my family recently suffered a life altering health problem I was reminded again of how quickly and suddenly life can change. It made me glad that I've been trying to be more conscious of living in the moment instead of straining so much for the future. Sometimes the present is all we've got. So take a breath and enjoy the longer lazy days of summer and give yourself permission to be a turtle and just do what you want for a day. The next day will be time enough to tackle that to-do list and get back to that schedule.