Posted in writers

A Place No One Should Go DL Havlin

“When a 21st Century man takes his family camping in the Everglades he is forced to face 16th Century evil and his own lack of morality.”

Author’s Name:  DL Havlin   (Dennis Lee)

Professional Background – world-wide divisional customer service director, production manager, materials manager, MIS director, systems analyst/procedure writer, product line manager, multi-plant manufacturing manager, general manager for a chemicals distributor, call center service tech rep, president and general manager of a manufacturing company, newspaper sports reporter.

Life Experiences – high school football coach, licensed boat captain, extensive world travels, fishing guide, avid fisherman, hunter and camper, amateur historian studying early Florida, Civil War and World War II, former regional director for the Florida Writers Association, have been writing 32 years.

Educational Background:  Elementary school – Ft. Myers, FL  / High school – Cincinnati, OH College – University of Cincinnati, BBA  / College – Rollins College, master’s work

Published works – Novels – The Hangin’Oak/ September on Echo Creek/ A place No One Should Go/ Blue Water, Red Blood/ The Cross on Cotton Creek/ Bully Route Home/ The Bait Man/ Escaping Skeletons/ Turtle Point/ Out of Italy/ + others…

Writing Under Fire is excited to have a dear Florida Author friend with us today, DL Havlin.

Joanne:  DL currently lives in Bokeela, Florida, an island west of Fort Myers. I’ve been friends with DL since we worked together on a Southwest Florida Conference pre-Covid. As a multi-published author, I’d like to talk to you about one of the first pieces of advice I heard you say to new writers. That is, about starting with non-fiction.  Can you expand on that a little for our readers?

DL: It’s all about exposure and getting your name out there. If you research the market that supports your passion, as an example: the research and volunteer work I did for Randall Research, an important archaeological site in Florida, gave me the opportunity to talk to organizations interested in archeology, which I first used as non-fiction articles and later merged into my mystery novel, A Place No One Should Go.

Joanne: That makes sense. As a woman that writes women’s fiction, particularly mother/daughter stories, something like parents’ groups might be a good place for me to start. Speaking to large groups is easy for me, but that is not so for a lot of writers. In fact, there are probably more introvert writers and extrovert. They’d rather sit alone in their homes and write.

DL: Wouldn’t we all? However, even a traditional publisher expects you to market your book yourself, and that really mean marketing yourself. If you really want to sell books, you need to get out there. Writers could start with small local groups, even book clubs. Word travels fast if they enjoyed having you. My main source of marketing is speaking to groups, at personal events and on the internet.

Joanne: Thanks DL. Can you tell us what you like best about writing or being an author? And reversely, what you like least.

DL: What I Iike best is the ability to help and inform others. And to make an impact on their attitudes. Even my fiction will teach you something you may not already know and perhaps make a shift to a more positive attitude toward life. Least? I don’t really have one, except maybe the time delay working with publishers. It takes a long time, sometimes years to actually see your book in print.

Joanne: The book cover for A Place No One Should Go is kind of scary. I guess that was the point. Do you have much opportunity for input on your covers? I ask because I have heard that a lot of traditional publishers give little or no weight to the author’s ideas. Some even change the title.

DL: I have been very fortunate to have extensive input with the current publisher. It is true that the larger the publishing house, the less input is accepted by the author. They have a whole team that looks for what they believe will make the biggest impact. It’s true: You can judge a book by its cover.

Joanne: Thank you so much for spending time with my readers. Where can they buy your books?



Posted in writers

Author Interviews

I am bringing back the Author Interview section to Writing Under Fire. Each post will feature a different author. We’ll mix it up with authors from lots of different genres, and give you a tease into the book he/she is featuring as well as buy links to purchase that book or others on their websites. Please send a message back and let me know if you are enjoying this section

Watch for the first interview in a few days. They will include photos of the book they are promoting, a blurb about their book, an author photo, and of course, the interview itself. Hope you enjoy.

Photo by cottonbro on
Posted in travel, writers

Fairytale towns in Germany

I just received a Pinterest post about a travel agency’s favorite Fairytale towns in Germany.  My list is a little different but I’d like to share with you.  My first trip to Germany in June was breathtaking. Our time was short, so we only made a few stops.

Following our roots took us first to the town of Bacharach.  We passed under an entryway into the city dated 1322 and brochures in our hotel said the first part of the city dates back to the 1000’s.

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Bacharach is a charming little town along the Rhein River, the people friendly, the streets paved in stone.

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We chose to take the ferry-boat ride down the Rhein in the most scenic section of the river, between Bacharach and Boppard.

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Along the river, scenic little towns edge the water with sweeping grape arbors above and ancient castles keeping vigilance over the cities.

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If those weren’t enough to inspire fairy tales, we headed to Elk Castle in the Moselle Valley

Elks castle 1

Our roots took us to Birkenfeld, a town dating back to Roman times and the origin of our family.

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Watch out for little devils luring the innocent sheep.

think Birkenfeld


From there, we visited what is claimed to be the oldest city in Germany, Worms where Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation against the Catholic Church.


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I don’t think I can pick a favorite because each was unique in its own right. But buried deep in those hills and cobblestone streets, are new stories just waiting to come out. I’m thinking perhaps some historical fiction about my ancestors and their complicated lives in the 18th century before embarking for the New World.

If you had to pick one place to write about, what would it be and why? I’d love to hear from you. Anyone that leaves comments will have their name put in a hat for a free book of their choice of mine, print or ebook if in the US, ebook only if out of the country.

If you are not familiar with my stories, check them out at




Posted in churches, country, family, God, spiritual, travel, writers

Whirlwind Adventure

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I promised all of you a blog post about my fantastic trip that I took with my brother, Richard Simon. We are only fifteen months apart in age, but over the years, we have ended up on opposite sides of the US. What a thrill to spend ten days with him.

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We covered four countries: Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Austria.

Everyone has asked me what my favorite part was. That is really impossible to say since there were so many wonderful things; spending time with my brother must rank as number one.  Discovering family roots is high on the list, especially one very special find on our mother’s side in Sweden that dates back to the 1700’s. Sweden and Germany were our main focus since we were following our ancestral roots. But we managed two days in Copenhagen and one in Salzburg, Austria as well. As a Sound of Music fan, I gleefully embarrassed my brother singing Do Re Me on the steps and dancing around the Pegasus fountain.  And I almost got him to dance with me at the gazebo like Liesel and Rolf. Maybe that will be my next post.

Since keeping blog posts shorts is a must, I am going to stray from our roots for a moment. I discovered that I loved searching for old churches. I love the architecture, and reverent feeling I get when I am near them.  It is a shame that I heard that much of Europe do not actually use these churches very much.  We were blessed to be inside two that were obviously active. In a church in Bastad, Sweden,  we heard the organist practicing and singing How Great Though Art. And in Berkenfeld, Germany,  we were privileged to hear two young teenage girls practicing singing,  I have loved you for a thousand years.  Both in English.  

Let these pictures speak a thousand words.  Don’t be surprised if some of these end up in my novels.

Posted in writers

New Horizons

This is my first trip overseas and I am blown away. So much is different, yet in other ways it is the same. Language of course can be a barrier, but almost everyone we talked to could speak English. I’m sad to say I could not reciprocate.

The little beach town on Helsingør in Sweden is just adorable. Reminds me a lot of St. Augustine in Florida.

The rural countryside of Sweden looks exactly like western PA or eastern Ohio. No wonder our ancestors migrated to there.

The oddest thing is the 25 year lease on graves. If no one renews the lease, the graves are dug up and the bodies cremated and spread in the “memory garden” of the cemetery. The stones are lined up against the stone walls until they run out of room. Then they destroy them. So in every really old section, there are new graves or wide green spaces waiting for new “tenants.” How very strange to us. We were so glad some of our were still there. Perhaps a distant relative is renewing the lease.

Do you live someplace that has different customs for burials than the USA, which treasures old grave sites forever. I’d love to hear about it.

Posted in authors, children, Daughters, family, grandmothers, mother, mother & daughters, mothers, son, womens fiction, writer, writers

Mother’s Day Thoughts

As the author of mother-daughter stories, I thought for Mother’s Day, it fitting to look to some of my favorite authors on what they had to say about mothers in their books.

As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sue it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.” Kristin Hannah , Summer Island


“Think for a minute, darling: in fairy tales it’s always the children who have the fine adventures. The mothers have to stay at home and wait for the children to fly in the  window”                             Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife


“I wonder if other mothers feel a tug sat their insides, watching their children grow up into the people they themselves wanted so badly to be.”                                                                                                          Jodi Picoult, Keeping Faith


Motherhood is a complicated profession, and anyone that does not consider it a profession, most assuredly has never been one.  My own mother passed away in 1996, and I still miss her every day, The woman she  was when she left us was the not the Mom I remember. Mom was a five foot two spit-fire. She walked so fast that I could never keep up with her. Mom, clad in a red terry bathrobe, stuck her curlered head in the oven to dry her hair while she ran around  the red Formica-countered kitchen preparing casseroles to take to family reunions. Mom did head-stand contests with my brothers and I to the utter dismay of my father who would come home from work and bend at his waist to look at my upside-down mother and ask “What for dinner?” Mom never understood how I never learned to cook, when I spent seventeen years of my life perched on the red stool in the kitchen babbling away while she cooked. She said, “I thought you were paying attention.” Ugh – sorry Mom,  not.  Mom rode my brother’s mini-bike on a dare – and drove it right up a tree. We tried real hard not to laugh. Mom loved fast cars, her favorite being her 1966 red Ford Mustang.  Are you seeing a pattern here of red? Her favorite color and so fitting of her personality.

When I married, moved away and lived in multiple states, I gave little thought to my mother sitting home in the now quite house with a stoic husband who rarely spoke. Her household went from a boisterous family of six to a sedate family of two in only two years. My heart breaks for her now, and I can only hope she understands that I finally get it. One of her favorite saying to me was, “You won’t understand until your are a mother yourself.” No truer words could ever have been spoken.

Parts of motherhood came easy – the loving them unconditionally part. Others, not so much. I am the proud mother of three daughters and a son. As a grandmother many times over now, I see the short-comings I made as a mother. As hallowed as the word “mother” is,  we are a flawed species. We make mistakes – lots of them, and we carry the guilt of those mistakes with us forever. We fall to pieces easily – whether it’s a joyful or a sad occasion.  Tears are a part of who we are.  And sometimes – if we have to defend our young, we will fight to the death.  It’s a humbling existence to be a Mom. You often  feel set aside, obsolete, forgotten. But I’ll tell you this – if you did your job even half right, your thoughts, your words and actions will be so ingrained in your children, that even when they don’t think they are listening to you, their sub-conscious is.  The most we  can hope for is when are time comes, and the good Lord looks at his list, checking of “mother” as your profession, He says, “Come on in, well done.”

Tell me your favorite mother story – either as a Mom or about your own Mom – or someone that fit the bill of Mom. Being a Mom does not have to be genetic.