Mall of America: Ashley Tisdale #TBT

Katelyn and Kelsey

Katelyn and Kelsey

In 2009, we took a true American vacation, one that really honors the traditions and values of our society. We went to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was actually a fun trip. Our kiddo took a friend (that’s them to the left, with our Mustang convertible. Dang, I miss that car.). We spent our days prowling the stores (and, to our surprise, finding several good buys) and our evenings in the pool at the hotel.

On our last day, Ashley Tisdale gave a free concert. While we were waiting in line – the first 300 people in line got wristbands to go see Ashley’s movie, Aliens in the Attic, and to get to meet her – Ashley showed up wearing sunglasses and a sweatshirt. She checked things out on stage and then, to the crowd’s surprise and delight, she played several songs from her new album.

Ashley Tisdale

Ashley Tisdale

We had a great view. I went up a level and took a couple of pics. See the column at the top right of the photo below? That’s my hubs leaning against it, and the girls are standing just below and to the left of him. Nothing between them and Ashley but a security barrier. I felt bad for the girls. They stood in line and, wouldn’t you know it, the group in front of us got the 300th ticket. They were so close! But, we still got to see a free mini-concert.

After that trip, I thought I’d check out future events at the Mall of America. The drive isn’t that bad, and it’s kind of a neat place. But I haven’t done it yet. Maybe one of these days . . . (I’d love to go up for their big scrapbook fest. Hmmmm . . . Maybe I should check their schedule out again.)

Ashley Tisdale at the Mall of America

Ashley Tisdale at the Mall of America

Anyway, thinking about that trip got me to thinking about our trips to Minneapolis to see Ashley Tisdale, and Chicago to see Jeffrey Combs and the other Star Trek celebs and Kansas City to see, well, more Star Trek celebrities. And that got me to wondering about you. What’s the farthest you’ve driven to see a celeb?


Amazon . . . It’s Heeeeeere . . . .

Denim & Diamonds

Denim & Diamonds

I popped onto Amazon yesterday to check on my Author Page and was surprised to see this on my page! Yup – Denim & Diamonds is available on Amazon!

I don’t want to be one of those buy-my-book authors. That kinda drives me crazy. Still – I need the support of readers if I’m ever going to claw my way up the best seller charts (it could happen, right?). But what does that mean? How do readers support writers?

I’ve been feeling very Zen over the last year, and truly feel that what goes around, comes around. In that spirit, I thought I’d share what I do to help support and encourage the writers I like:

  • Like and share their Facebook posts (those with book-related links, not their pics of the tropical drink they’re enjoying while lounging on the beach)
  • Like their Amazon author page
  • Like their Goodreads author page
  • Mark their books to-read on Goodreads
  • As I’m reading their books, I TELL people what I’m reading – in person, on Facebook, on Twitter
  • After I read their books, I leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads

I know a lot of my friends are readers. What else can we do to support and encourage writers?


Joys of Country Life: Gardening

Lori L. Robinett

fresh zucchini bread

I just pulled three loaves of zucchini bread out of the oven. First batch I made this year. Last night I had a salad for dinner, featuring lettuce and green peppers from our garden. There is something so earthy and practical and wonderful about planting seeds, watering, fertilizing, weeding . . . and then reaping the rewards. This is the first time in our 20 years of marriage that we’ve actually had a good garden, and it thrills me to pieces.

By the way – the best part of our garden? Jalapenos. The hubs slices, batters and deep fries them. YUM. Seriously.

Margo Dill: Caught Between Two Curses

I met Margo Dill at the first Missouri Writers Guild conference I attended (2005). She immediately struck me as someone who was going to succeed. I’ve seen her at subsequent conferences, heard her speak, and have had several opportunities to chat with her over the years. As I predicted when I first met her, she has become a published author and a well-regarded editor and speaker.

Margo Dill

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. 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. When she is not writing, editing or teaching online, Margo loves to spend time with her husband, stepson, daughter, and crazy Boxer dog, Chester in St. Louis, Missouri.

Take it away, Margo!

With the release of my young adult novel, Caught Between Two Curses, in March 2014, Lori asked me to reflect on my path as a children’s writer. When I stopped to do this, I realized that my path has been going on for almost 15 years. Like most writers, it’s been bumpy, full of success and failure, highs and lows, but I wouldn’t change it. I love being a children’s writer!

People ask me how I got started, and so I thought I would focus on that because maybe it will help someone who is looking for that answer. Then I will also go into how Caught Between Two Curses was published, in case any one has a novel manuscript looking for a home.

In 1999, I saw an ad in Family Circle magazine for the Institute of Children’s Literature, and I decided to take their correspondence course, where I learned more than I ever thought I could. I learned that nonfiction is easier to get published than fiction, how to read magazine submission guidelines, how to find and enter contests, and how to research and start a novel. (I actually started my first novel that got published in 2012 in that class, titled Finding My Place, historical fiction middle-grade.) My teacher was amazing and offered wonderful feedback and guidance. A couple of the stories I wrote for the class placed in contests—once I had that taste of success, that’s all I needed.

From there, I found a critique group. Once you have a basic knowledge of writing for kids or adults—whatever your goal—I believe you need a critique group to offer you feedback on a regular basis. Not only did the members help me become a better writer, but they also challenged me to write pieces outside my comfort zone, including essays, short stories, and poetry for adults. I learned the most about writing in this group, and I went to many writing conferences with them, too, where I learned even more. Each step of the way, I had some success and acceptances, and then I had many rejections. But the successes helped keep me going.

Now onto Caught Between Two Curses, I worked on it some with this first critique group and at the same time as Finding My Place, but I didn’t start seriously working on the manuscript until I got the contract for the middle-grade. I wrote CBTC as a young adult novel, and I had two different critique groups that offered advice and suggestions on it. I pitched it at several conferences—some agents told me that they just didn’t get the storyline with the Cubs and the Curse of the Billy Goat. I tried to explain that it was just a small part of the novel—the real story was Julie’s, and her life as a teenager with a boyfriend pressuring her to have sex and a family that was stuck in the past with the curse. So either I was terrible at pitching my book or they hated baseball that much—or both. I had a couple ask for more pages, which resulted in more rejection. Then I revised it ONE LAST TIME and pitched it in April 2013 at the Missouri Writers Guild in St. Louis to Robin Tidwell of Rocking Horse Publishing. She said, “I love baseball. The novel sounds fun. Send it to me.”

So, I did, and the rest has been nothing short of a homerun. If you are looking for a publishing house, consider Rocking Horse Publishing! Robin has been great to work with. If you are looking for a fun, quirky read with a bit of baseball, magic, and romance thrown in, I would love for you to check out Caught Between Two Curses!

Find out more at

Group blog:
WOW! Women On Writing:
Book trailer:

Caught Between Two Curses

Caught Between Two Curses

SYNOPSIS of Caught Between Two Curses:
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!