Books are the gateway to imagination

Books are the gateway to imagination
Morgan welcomes you to her personal blog

Monday, December 29, 2014

Disappointed in Amazon

Okay, I'm trying to understand this
It isn't supposed to happen this way. At least I don't think it is. 

The other day I submitted reviews of four books I'd read to Amazon. Within a few hours, all four were rejected, saying they didn't fit the Amazon guidelines.

I wrote a complaint email to them asking why one word reviews like, "funny" or "awesome" fit their supposed guidelines and yet my reviews, that did adhere to those guidelines, were rejected. I copied and pasted three examples of one to three word reviews of a Janet Evanovich book to illustrate what I meant.

Never got an answer. Didn't know if I was acting paranoid, but I decided I must be on some sort of list where my reviews will automatically get rejected. That couldn't be possible--could it? 
Something is rotten in Denmark

Just for fun, tonight I decided to copy one of the four they rejected without making any changes whatsoever, and then submitted it from another Amazon account. An hour later, when I checked to see if it was published, there it was. This review that supposedly didn't fit their guidelines, was now published.

Maybe that's why I never received a reply to the complaint email, wherein I asked for justification of why those one word reviews, like "funny," that so clearly didn't fit their guidelines were published and mine didn't. Probably didn't receive and answer because there was no justification other than my account possibly being on some sort of a blockage list. 

Aha. A  great idea.

I'm going to try submitting the other three rejects tomorrow to see if the same thing happens. If it does, I've gotta say it ticks me off. It makes me wonder how many reviews of my own books might have been caught in a "round file" conundrum. I do know of two that were rejected the same way because they were sent to me directly after they were rejected.

Stay posted.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Here is your chance to get a Kindle copy of TERROR IN A TEAPOT, the second Silver Sisters Mystery, FREE on Amazon Worldwide from 12/17/14 through 12/19/14


U. S. Amazon Best Sellers Rank on 12/17/14 at 10:00 am : #5,156 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#56 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Cozy

#65 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Humor & Satire > General Humor

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Big Story Writers Conference

I will be one of the speakers at THE BIG STORY CONFERENCE. If you are attending, please introduce yourself to me. I love to meet my "cyber friends" in person whenever possible.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


My life has changed a lot since July 2012 when I was operated on for breast cancer. The good news--it was caught early, the disturbing news--I needed the dreaded chemotherapy. 

Actually, I could have opted out of the chemo because I was borderline, but when faced with something like that, you want every advantage possible--at least I did. Fortunately I only needed four courses of chemo followed by 25 radiation treatments. My attitude appeared to be helping so much, the radiation oncologist released me after 17 treatments and said I no longer needed it. However the entire cost had I not had insurance was a HUGE STATEMENT on why you need health insurance if at all possible. When I added up all of the bills including chemo and radiation, it came to over $300,000. Without insurance that would have been devastating. With insurance, the impact was not huge.

I kept a very positive attitude, did not complain, tried to be as productive as possible except for the day or two after a chemo treatment when I slept like Rip Van Winkle--sometimes 18 to 20 hours. Even when my hair fell out, I had an array of cool wigs available.

That kept my mind active and my spirits high. I even worked on the book LA BELLA MAFIA, the shockingly true
story of Bella Capo, by working with my co-author Denny Griffin and Bella herself as much as possible throughout treatment. All of my doctors felt my positive attitude helped me to heal as rapidly as I did. In fact, they were quite surprised I bounced back as fast as I did.

In February 2013 we gave up our residence in Marina Del Rey CA and moved into our Las Vegas home full time. In March my husband had hip replacement surgery and did not heal well. Just slightly over 2 months after my cancer treatment was completed, I was thrown into the role of caregiver. Still I kept my spirits high, positive and continued to be productive although my time was now not as available.

He got worse, and it was discovered in early 2014 that he had fluid on his brain. Add another $200,000+ of medical bills that were thankfully covered by insurance. Until that diagnosis, there was lots of falling on his part and lots of stress for both of us. They thought it was Parkinsons, but when the cause was finally diagnosed as the fluid on the brain, one treatment did result in an improvement. While still impaired and unable to drive, the falling and lapses in memory disappeared. Score one for the team!

In April 2014 after a routine follow-up appointment with my oncologist, I was on my way to the doctor who had performed the breast cancer surgery for another follow-up. My appointment was at Cedars Sinai Medical Tower in L.A. and as fate would have it, I tripped over a speed bump as I neared the elevators in the parking lot, went flying, and fractured my elbow and sprained my ankle. Now I had a husband who could no longer drive or work and I was dealing with my own injuries and had to drive back to Las Vegas with my left arm in a splint and my left ankle wrapped in bandages. But, I did it.

I continued to do everything I could to remain positive, cheerful and productive. During 2012-2014 more books were produced and I made it a point to help others, including participation in a fund raiser for abused women.

I am generally a very private person when it comes to personal information. This is the first time I've shared a photo of me 2 months after radiation ended and my hair, now platinum white, began to grow back. 

The reason I've shared all of this today is that it is a known fact many people become overwhelmed with their personal situations during the holiday season and depression seeps in. If you don't allow that to happen, and fight against it by trying to remember good times, concentrate on what you can do rather than what you can't, and be aware of the needs and emotions of those around you, life will feel better. It's that old saying of turning lemons into lemonade. I've only touched on a few of the things that happened from 2012-2014, but suffice to say I had enough lemons for a really successful lemonade stand, so I drew on every bit of strength I had to get through what could have been debilitating.

If you are dealing with stress, I hope this helps you get through a season that should be filled with cheer. A man at a dinner party the other night said, "I have the best blessings in the world. When I get up and feel the carpet beneath my feet, I know I have at least one more day."

God Bless.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Last night hubby and I had a wonderful evening with friends. My friendship with Graylyn dates back to the days when we both were involved with Federal Prison Industries. She decided to throw a spur-of-the-minute dinner party and invited us, another couple from New York who were from the same neighborhood as hubby, and a couple who are her neighbors.

Since hubby can no longer drive, and he'd always been the one who drove at night, my challenge was whether I could drive to her house in the hills of Henderson NV after dark. Sometimes things just fall into place. I'd been to my optometrist the day before and she changed my contact lens prescription, and viola! Suddenly things were much clearer. She also changed my driving glasses prescription, and I was able to pick up the new ones yesterday. Decision made. With my night vision far improved, we embarked on the 10 mile drive. Yep. I was able to do it without a hitch. Yippee!

The two couples we didn't know turned out to be great folks that we would like to get together with again. What a fun evening. Graylyn is the consummate entertainer. She and her husband Bob had decorated their new home beautifully, the table setting, complete with placecards, looked like something out of a movie, and the dinner she said she just threw together, was outstanding.

But the greatest thing was the active conversation. There wasn't a quiet person in the bunch. Graylyn and I regaled the others with stories from the time we'd both been involved with furniture manufactured in Federal Prisons--she was Chief of Sales for UNICOR, the government corporation that maintains about 100 manufacturing factories on prison grounds throughout the country, and I was a sales representative for a contractor that provided marketing services for the furniture division. I was constantly on the go with a territory that covered Southern California, Southern Nevada and Utah. We met each other back in 2000 at a meeting at Coleman Prison in Florida and clicked right away. 

When Graylyn and her husband Bob moved to Las Vegas after they both retired, the friendship picked up again and we always have a great time when we get together. Friendship is so golden, particularly during the holidays if you don't have family around you. The invitation to the dinner was one of the nicest things she could have done.

I should mention that my stint representing UNICOR was the inspiration for my book RIPOFF--a funny fictional crime caper whose diabolical plot involves ripping off the prison system for millions with a very clever scam. Gotta make sure to give Graylyn a copy of that book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Click the link to listen to the live broadcast at 6:00 PST/ 9:00 EST TONIGHT. 
Got questions? Use the Guest Call-in number: 646 478.0982. 

The WRITING WITH A PARTNER Show will be archived 
for future listening shortly after broadcast.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Presentation is something we don't always think about and it isn't limited to writers.

Presentation is how people perceive you, whether it is your personal presentation--grooming, the way you dress and your manner of speaking, or the materials you use to market yourself. When it comes to the marketing aids, it is important to make sure that they project quality.

Poorly printed cards or other aids, rendered on flimsy paper, say just that about the person or the product they are telling you is the best thing to come down the Pike. Sure, it takes a little budgeting if you are working with short funds, but in the end it is worth it. Shop around. Don't take the first quotes, and if you are your own designer, run your masterpiece past other people soliciting their HONEST critiques and suggestions. 

Take a few minutes and read my full post about presentation on the Writers of Southern Nevada BLOG .


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Happy cheerful Dylan seemed a little dragged out last night, shaking his head and generally not himself. No better this morning, so I took him to the vet. Sure enough he had the very early beginning of an ear infection. One thing I've learned--if something doesn't look right, check it out before it gets worse.

Taking Dylan to the vet is like taking a kid to the doctor. He wants his "Mommy" to be with him all the time. We found out he's also gotten too chubby, so even though he has compelling puppy eyes, now he will not be succeeding when he begs for table food.

Dylan is a rescue dog who was found abandoned in a back yard, so it is understandable that he has a level of separation anxiety, particularly since he has become my shadow and luxuriates in 20 minutes of cuddle time most mornings.

Anyway, he now has to take pills for 2 weeks, and the ear drops start on Saturday, but I'm so glad I didn't wait to see if it got better.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tomorrow we welcome guest author Mike Dennis on Writers Tricks of the Trade radio

Author, narrator Mike Dennis to guest on Writers Tricks of the Trade radio

The second Writers Tricks of the Trade radio show airs on Blog Talk Radio on November 26.

Mike Dennis has been described as by author Max Allen Collins, who has been nominated for numerous Edgar and Shamus awards, as “a modern master of noir.”
After thirty years as a professional musician, Dennis left Key West FL and moved to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player. But, after spending several years in Sin City, he moved back to Key West where he lives with his wife Yleana. He authors two series: the Key West Nocturnes series and the Jack Barnett/Las Vegas series the rest on

Monday, November 24, 2014

My latest release is a children's picture book

Whatever can go wrong for LaRue does!

...But he's not the only one

A delightful picture book about a little llama who tries to help his mama, but runs into problems every time. I wrote and illustrated this book for my own children 38 years ago but never intended to publish it. With eleven novels to my credit now, more on the way, and hundreds of published articles, my daughter Jakki and son Jason, now adults, urged me to share their beloved LaRue with children across the world. He's a very lovable little guy but as hard as he tries to help, nothing seems to go right. The object lesson for children is "pay attention to what you do."

Just $1.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited - Available worldwide in every country where Amazon has a website.

Grab a copy today and delight a child.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


                               with hosts Morgan St. James and Dennis N. Griffin

NOVEMBER 26    CREATING DYNAMIC DIALOGUE   Guest Mike Dennis-author, musician and audiobook narrator            

DECEMBER 10     WRITING WITH A PARTNER    Guest Phyllice Bradner-author, artist


Friday, October 31, 2014

True crime writer and radio host Dennis N. Griffin will be a "sometimes" co-host/producer for my new Internet radio show Writers’ Tricks of the Trade with Morgan St. James, for those interested in the writing business and those who like to read. 

During this new show for writers, editors, literary agents, publishers and readers,that will launch on Blog Talk Radio on November 12, we will discuss the many aspects of the business and craft of writing. Guests will be those who have been there and done that and are willing to share their expertise. Listeners will be encouraged to call in with questions and comments or participate via the interactive chat room.

The topic for the debut show on November 12 is RIVET YOUR READERS - Create a "can't put down" book. Catch the opening episode live if you want to call in.

The show will run bi-weekly on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. PST /9:00 p.m. Eastern

Episodes will be archived for those who cannot listen to the show during the live broadcast. Share this with your friends interested in writing or how books are created. Call in lines will be open.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Writers' Tricks of the Trade radio show on Blog Talk Radio

Coming Soon ...

November 12, 6:00 pm PST/9:00 EST marks the debut of the new 

Writers' Tricks of the Trade Radio Show on 

Blog Talk Radio 

First show: 


***Watch this spot for LATEST DETAILS***

Monday, October 20, 2014


One year ago--a year of unqualified love ago--Dylan the Dog joined our household. He has been such a
source of joy and never fails to show us how much he appreciates being rescued. That said, we have spoiled him completely, and he has earned the nickname "cuddle bunny." His greatest pleasure seems to be curling up partially in my lap and partially on the sofa or chair. At 35 pounds, he is just a tad too big to totally fit in my lap. Happy anniversary, Dylan.

Save a life. Rescue a dog or cat.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Okay, so after two weeks of appliances and mechanical things failing one after another I think it is finally reversing.

It started with the water heater. A telltale leak in the garage that fortunately missed all or most of the things in its path. But, necessitated replacing the water heater and a water feed line. Even with our insurance with American Home Shield covering the replacement of the heater, we still had almost a $1,000 bill for the non- covered items.

The next day I was vacuuming the upstairs when without any warning the vacuum cleaner went stone cold dead. It simply wouldn't come back on. I thought I'd need a new one.

Then the internet (my lifeline as an author) went down and after an hour and a half on the phone with Cox they finally got it back on. The problem turned out to be the ethernet cable, but they said since my router was 7 years old it had been on borrowed time for at least 3 years and would have to be replaced. 

I went downstairs where hubby told me the big screen TV had gone completely black. It is an older LCD that requites a bulb that backlights it. Years ago I was told that was about a $600 repair.

Oh yes, also learned the battery in my car has a crack and will have to be replaced.

Then things began to reverse. I plugged the vacuum cleaner into a different outlet and viola! It leaped to life.
Found out the bulb replacement will be slightly over $200 for the TV. Always get a second estimate.
Will probably replace the router before it dies because I also have internet telephone. If death of the router is eminent, I will head it off at the pass. 
Discovered I hadn't bought the battery for the car that long ago. Maybe there will be some warranty credit left.

Yes, things are definitely looking up.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

RIPOFF promotion over after three days of intense marketing-Time to return to current projects

Yes, the promotion for RIPOFF is over and I am so grateful to all of the 5,600+ people who downloaded copies. I'm sure you will enjoy this funny crime caper and hope you will be motivated to post reviews. Most people don't know what big business manufacturing in Federal prisons is, but it truly is close to a BILLION DOLLAR A YEAR business.

With stories in the media every day about those who figure out how to ripoff  the government, what could have made more sense than for Caroline, a woman with a very active imagination and me, the author of ten books at the time, to use our knowledge of the manufacturing division to cook up a clever plot. It does need to be said that the real Federal
prison manufacturing corporation was set up in Roosevelt's time as a rehabilitation program for inmates, and it has worked so well with reducing recidivism (return to prison) that state programs and programs in other countries have been modeled after it.

We spent a long time developing the storyline, embracing some ideas and rejecting others. One of the things we considered was that the private sector marketing company we worked for during the time we were marketing furniture made in prisons to Federal government clients  did pull some shenanigans with seven figures of Federal "seed money" given to them to start the company. They got away with it and went bankrupt just as their five year contract was up. That was the basis for the ideas to begin to fall into place.

Sometimes we agreed wholeheartedly and other times disagreed vehemently, but in the end a retired FBI agent said our scam could have worked under the proper conditions and it was a good thing we weren't crooks.

Now it is time to finish up my current book. IZZY AND ME, with co-author Dennis N. Griffin as told by Gina Marion about the true story of the relationship between her father, Izzy Marion, and her. It is not what the public saw. Izzy was a fairly high-profile, often beloved, person in Las Vegas--hairstylist to the stars, entertainer, restaurateur, Mob affiliate and a myriad of other things. He also had a secret life behind closed doors that wasn't pretty. Target release is late 2014.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kindle edition of RIPOFF free for only 3 days



Amazon ranking at 12:30 July 30, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Book Giveaway For Ripoff

  • Ripoff by Morgan St. James
    Release date: Mar 23, 2014

    Did you know prison…more
    Giveaway dates: Apr 02 - Apr 22, 2014
    5 copies available, 257 people requesting
    Countries available: US

  • Closed to entries in: 4 days and 0:24:54

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014



    Manufacturing in Federal prisons is about an $8,000,000 a year business and someone has figured out how to grab some of those millions for themselves.In fact, iIt was all going fine until 3 savvy women were hired and smelled a rat. They staged a somewhat bumbling but successful undercover investigation and were amazed at the clever scheme they uncovered.

    Goodreads Book Giveaway

    Ripoff by Morgan St. James


    by Morgan St. James

    Giveaway ends April 22, 2014.

    See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
    Enter to win

    Wednesday, March 26, 2014


    I didn't realize how long it had been since I'd posted on this blog. So many things have happened. I just finished redesigning my entire website - - and am delighted with the new look. 

    When I began to click the links to the various blogs, as I visited them, I realized that if I'm going to have links to all of the blogs I've started during the past few years, they mean nothing if I don't keep them up. Check out the "latest, greatest" version of my website.

    RESOLUTION: I will set aside one day as "Blog Day" every week. On that day I'll do as much updating as I possibly can. Since I'm a procrastinator at times, I'm going to have to make an appointment with myself and put it on my Outlook Calendar. Otherwise, other things will grab my attention.

    It has been a busy month. But then, what else is new?

    I've helped to put together events that will involve several days of fundraising for the S.A.F.E. House shelter in Las Vegas NV. Many things are still in the works for these events, but it will extend from April 23-27. Here are the basics and now it's time for me to begin getting media releases and making contacts about it. I'm helping to make the dream Bella Capo had when she came out of hiding to write LA BELLA MAFIA come true - reaching as many abuse victims as possible with advice and messages of hope.

    APRIL 23 - Bella Capo will visit S.A.F.E. House to give a motivational chat to the residents. She has been in their shoes both as an abused child and abused spouse. Copies of LA BELLA MAFIA will be donated to the shelter.

    APRIL 26 - Barnes & Noble Bookfair to benefit S.A.F.E. House featuring Bella and LA BELLA MAFIA, the book I co-authored with Dennis N. Griffin. There will be a B&N code to identify purchases eligible for donations their donations to the shelter which I will be posting when I have it. Every book purchase that has the code entered at the Barnes & Noble in Henderson NV will qualify for a donation. I'm waiting to see if it will also apply to online purchases. Meet and Greet with Bella, unvarnished chat about her life and book signing. 12:-00-3:00

    APRIL 27 - Private event for the "Ladies Making a Difference" group in Las Vegas. Meet Bella Capo and book signing. Donation to S.A.F.E. House for all purchases that day. The "Ladies" are also doing a toy and clothing drive for the women and kids at the shelter.

    It makes me feel so good to be able to help. Stay tuned for more details.


    The Kindle edition of my new book RIPOFF was released and the paperback should be available at many online bookstores, nationally and internationally, by the end of the month.

    This funny crime caper, co-authored with Caroline Rowe, involves an over-the-top scheme to embezzle from the federal prison system and the 3 "Charlie's Angels Wannabes" who bumble into the scam.

    Twists, turns and a surprise finale!

    The SILVER SISTERS MYSTERIES are back, and better than ever. Beginning with the upcoming re-release of the award-winning culinary caper, A CORPSE IN THE SOUP in April, the existing books will be re-released in edited new editions, all with cool new covers.

    Seven Deadly Samovars, the second book in the series, has had quite a bit of editing and become TERROR IN A TEAPOT. It is targeted for release in late August or early September. It will be followed by VANISHING ACT IN VEGAS in late December or early 2015. For Silver Sisters fans, once all three books are out, we will be offering a special package deal for purchase of all three.

    Not only that, but DIAMONDS IN THE DUMPSTER, a new adventure featuring the zany twins and their feisty 80 year-old mother and uncle--the former vaudeville magicians who love to dress in disguise and go undercover--is in the works!

    And, my friends, as the saying goes what you see above is just the tip of the iceberg of everything that has been going on in my life. Of course, living in the desert, we don't have icebergs, but you get my drift.