5 Online Tips for Authors

I believe you should never reinvent the wheel.

Here are 4 tips about easy ways to do things are required of you nearly every day. This will certainly aid you immediately in your online marketing.

1. Create a document with all your book titles, a short blurb for each, and the corresponding buy links for every channel where it's sold.

This document will save you so much time. You can access the document any time you need to fill out a website form or paste it into a blog post or wherever you may need it.

Create the document in an easy to access text document (Notepad) or Flashnote file, which is always plain text so you can just copy the link and paste it whenever you need it.

If you make this document in Word, save it as a text file so it doesn't create extraneous HTML code that can really mess up a blog post if you paste it into a blog without "cleaning it up."

2. Always paste from a text file rather than a Word file.

When filling out web forms, pasting content from a Word file can end up looking weird and/or have random odd characters appear.

3. Always proofread any online form you fill out—especially if you pasted text in.

Some web forms just won't accept pasted text cleanly. You may end up with random characters or symbols.

4. If you want to try to shorten a link so that you can track the number of clicks, use any of the popular link shortening services like Goo.gl, TinyURL, Bitly, Smart URL.

If you really want to see who's clicking your buy link, track the clicks. All the link shortening services work basically the same, but each has some pros and cons. Use the one that's easiest for you.

5. For books on Amazon, use Booklinker which creates one link that works in every Kindle book shop.

Booklinker is easy to use. Just create an account and create links for your book. It's so easy.You can personalize the link and also make the beginning part of it say: "get book" or "my book."

Remember, Booklinker is part of the Amazon world so it works only to create links for Amazon stores.

Of course, you can upgrade Booklinker to GeniusLink, but then it goes from free to paid. Once you upgrade, you can't go back to the free level.

By the way, Booklinker won't create a link from a URL that contains referral code so be sure you clean up the URL before using Booklinker.

(See my post Create a Clean Amazon URL Link.)

Booklinker does not currently support the shortened "amzn.to" format.

Takeaway Truth

There's always an easy way to shortcut the process. When you find a shortcut, share it with others.

Back to School Safety Tips

Back to school, the time most kids dread, has arrived. There's less than a month before autumn arrives and leaves begin to fall.

I think it's time for a few reminders for those of us who are NOT in school.

Back to School Safety Tips

1. Never speed through a school zone.

 Kids are unpredictable and prone to impulsiveness. School zone speeds are low because of that. Reduce your speed. It's only for a few minutes.

2. Never use your cell phone in a school zone.

In Texas, and many other states, it's illegal to use a cell phone in a school zone.

Take your eyes off the street to glance at your cell and you might maim or kill a child who impulsively decided to dash across the street in front of you.

The few seconds your eyes were on your cell instead of the street can be a matter of life and death.

3. Make time in your day to actually talk to each of your children about their school day.

Sounds simple, but many people let their kids live separate lives inside the home.

Be interested in what your kids do at school, what they think, and how their school life is going. Engage in a conversation and focus entirely on your kid. Act as if he or she is the most important person in the world.

4. Take away the kids' cell phones at a designated time each evening.

Help your child to succeed by having all cell phones placed in a central docking station at a designated time each evening. A kid with access to a cell phone when adults have gone to bed is a kid that will play on the phone rather than sleeping.

5. Turn off the WiFi at night.

Same reason as #4. The lure of the cell phone and/or internet is huge. Kids are usually addicted to their devices. Help them break the habit.

Takeaway Truth

Just as you're trying to set limits for your kids, set limits for yourself too. Unplug from media when you're home, and communicate one on one with your kids.

Enter Dog Days of Summer Giveaway

Hot days in August are called the Dog Days of Summer.

Celebrate the Dog Days—and all pets—with the Authors of Romance Gems.

Enter the Rafflecopter and you might just win an adorable piece of jewelry or a tee shirt or an Amazon Gift Card. It's Winner's Choice month at Romance Gems so you get to choose your prize from those offered. (If item shown is unavailable, a similar item will be given.)

Grand Prize Option (Dog Lovers)
As you read on, take a look at the prize choices available. If you're a winner, you can pick an Amazon Gift card or the prize shown.

Be sure and watch the fun video, DOG DAYS OF SUMMER. I think you'll like it, especially if you're a pet owner. You'll find it on the Movie Theater page on the Romance Gems blog and also on YouTube.

Dog Days of Summer Giveaway Sponsored By These Authors

Bonnie Edwards * Caroline Clemmons * Cheryl Bolen * Connie Vines * Constance Bretes * Elsa Kurt * Hannah Rowan * Jan Scarbrough * Joan Reeves * Judy Hudson * Kara O'Neal * Karen Kelley * Karen Whiddon * Kari Lemor * Kathleen Lawless * Kathryn Hills * Laura Hunsaker * Liz Flaherty * Lucinda Race * Nancy Fraser * Nora LeDuc * Peggy Jaeger * Satin Russell.
Grand Prize Option (Cat Lovers)

Giveaway Details

Starts at 12:01am CDT, August 4, Sunday.

Ends at 12:01am CDT, August 26, Monday.

That gives you plenty of days to enter so do it as many times as you can. Please tell your friends about our Giveaway too.
2nd Prize Option

You can click Rafflecopter here at any time, or scroll to the bottom and find the form.

There are some great prizes up for grabs. (You can always check the daily post for the Rafflecopter link and/or form too.)

August Prizes

Grand Prize
Winner's Choice—Pet-Themed Tee Shirt or $15.00 Amazon Gift Card

2nd Prize
Winner's Choice of Pet-Themed Gift or $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

3rd Prize
Winner's Choice of Pet-Themed Gift or $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

4th Prize
Bundle of 4 Ebooks

5th Prize
Bundle of 3 Ebooks

6th Prize
Bundle of 3 Ebooks

Romance Novels Featuring Pets!

We love our pets, don't we? Dogs, cats, horses, gerbils, hamsters, potbelly pigs, or some really exotic animals. Our lives are enriched by our animals.

You're going to love the prizes and ebooks offered this month. Some romance novels are sweet; some are spicy; some are August sizzlers! There's something for every reading taste.

If you love one of the books described below, feel free to go ahead and buy it in case you're not the lucky winner. The buy link for each book is embedded with the title. Enjoy the last month of  summer.

We hope you can squeeze in some extra reading time before the back to school rush hits with some of these books. Happy reading!

There's No Place Like Home by Peggy Jaeger Visit Peggy's BookBub Author Page. Symphony pianist Moira Cleary arrives home exhausted, gaunt, and anxious from emotional and psychological abuse from someone she trusted. Best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton, wants nothing more than to help Moira heal. Can he convince her to stay home with the family who love her - and him - forever?
Elkhorn in the Moonlight by Constance Bretes Visit Constance at her Website. The search for stolen Sacred Arrows leads to much more. A hike through the Elkhorn Mountains leads Marcus, Nicole, and Sierra, her Blue Heeler, into unexpected consequences.
Heart to Heart by Jan Scarbrough Visit Jan at her Website. When Jeremy’s aunt gives him a second chance, he must decide if he can believe in the unbelievable and the pet psychic who teaches him about faith…and love.
Starting Over by Judith Hudson Visit Judith Hudson at her Facebook Author Page. Lily’s chance for a family of her own is slipping away. But by helping a damaged country music star find a new purpose in life, could she too find a way to start over?
Flock You by Karen Kelley Visit Karen Kelley at her Website. Who says you can't have it all? Absolutely no one breaks up on December First! Especially when their rent is coming due. I need a roommate--fast!
Love's Promise by Kara O'Neal Visit Kara O'Neal at Facebook. Eliska, Sugar, and Cora have a secret that must be guarded with more care than even their recipes for the baked goods they sell in their newly opened bakery. Despite their determination to avoid love, all three find themselves tumbling headlong into passion and threats from their past.
Counterfeit Countess by Cheryl Bolen Visit Cheryl Bolen at Facebook. Maggie thought she was married to an earl, but it seems her late and unlamented husband lied to her from Day 1. Now she throws herself on the mercy of the real Lord Warwick, who must work with Maggie to uncover her scoundrel husband's secrets—secrets which jeopardize England.
Hellfire and Handbaskets by Kathryn Hills Visit Kathryn at her Website. It’s hell in the ER, but Army veteran Dr. Rick Hauser wouldn’t work anywhere else. He’s seen it all. Until she storms into his life. Amelia Pennington is not just a pretty face. She’s a time-traveler from 1895 who upends Rick’s world. Even his dog, Rocky, is in love.
Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow by Connie Vines Visit Connie Vines Blog. Alive, Steampunk novelist Meredith Misso worked hard at living the perfect SoCal celeb life. Now that she is a Zombie, it’s all about the make-up, non-vegan lifestyle, and her soon-to-be ex, who somehow managed to Velcro himself back into her life. Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow features a pet hamster named Gertie.
Last Christmas by Joan Reeves Visit Joan at her Amazon Author Page Last Christmas, Annabelle gave Rick her heart. He stomped on it. This Christmas, Rick's going to pay! If you've ever fallen for someone who said he'd call, and he didn't, this story of heartbreak, revenge, redemption, and second chances is for you! Last Christmas also stars Friday, a rescue dog.

Saturday Share: Best Sloppy Joe Ever

I worked on graphics most of the day because Darling Hubby was at our house in the country.

He wasn't supposed to be home tonight so I didn't make dinner.

Of course he showed up at dinner time so I used my Instant Pot to make dinner.

I grabbed a package of hamburger meat from the freezer and defrosted it in the microwave.

Note: If you have the saute function, you can defrost it as you brown it in your electric pressure cooker.

We love Sloppy Joe sandwiches so much that I always keep a jar of sweet relish in the fridge just for this recipe. It's so good. You'll love it!

Best Sloppy Joe Ever
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium to large onion, coasely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper (any color) chopped or 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons your favorite ketchup
  • 5 ounces dark beer
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard (yellow, Dijon, or spicy brown)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried garlic powder (omit if you're not a garlic fan)
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • Brown ground beef, remove, and drain the fat off.
  • Saute the onion, garlic, and bell peppers in the EVOO.
  • Add the browned beef back to the pressure cooker, and toss in the other ingredients.
  • Stir to mix it all together.
  • Set your pressure cooker to cook for 15 minutes at high pressure. (If you have something other than an Instant Pot, use your cooker's settings which will probably be for stew or chili.)
  • If you're in a hurry, do a quick steam release.
  • Serve on a multigrain bun or bread with sweet relish. A salad or tangy cole slaw—and the rest of the bottle of dark beer—is perfect with a Sloppy Joe.
Takeaway Truth

Electric pressure cookers like Instant Pot make dinner easier than ever.

Create a Clean URL Amazon Link

What is a clean URL link and how do you make one?

When someone asks you for the buy link to your book, do you go to Amazon, click on your book, then copy the URL that appears in the address bar?

If so, you're probably giving them a very long that may break when someone tries to cut and paste it into a document or into a browser address bar.

(This article reprints at least once a year to help new authors.)


The link below resulted from clicking the cover for Still The One in the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section that appears on every book page.

Then when the page for Still The One opened, I copied the link as it appeared in the browser address bar. This is what it looked like:


Of everything you see in the link above, only this much is actually the direct link to the book's webpage on Amazon:


The rest of that long link:


is referral code that tells Amazon where you found the book.

When asked for the book's buy link, authors should give the book's direct link, called a clean link or clean URL.

Professionals always give the shortest, cleanest link possible.

How to Clean Up a Link

Even thought a long rambling link will get you to the book—eventually—it takes longer for a webpage to open when you're using a long link tricked out with referral code.

Why give a potential reader such an awkward link? Clean it up. It's easy to do.

Look at the link. See the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN)?

Everything sold on Amazon has this ASIN, a 10 character alphabetical/numerical identifying number.

The ASIN is immediately followed by  a forward slash mark. Everything after that forward slash mark is referral code and can be deleted.

In the case of Still The One, the ASIN is B005062SLS/ (see the forward slash mark at the end of the ASIN?).  Everything after the forward slash is referral code that can be deleted.

This clean, direct link to the book's webpage is what you give if someone wants a buy link:


Make It Even Shorter

You can shorten that clean link though. A much shorter Amazon link is created by doing away with www and abbreviating Amazon as AMZN and omitting everything beyond .com except the ASIN.

Formula for short clean link for an Amazon product: http://amzn.com/+the ASIN.

That gives us a clean short link: http://amzn.com/B005062SLS for my romantic comedy, Still The One.

But, Wait, There's More

It's possible to get an even shorter, clean link for any Amazon Product and make it a link that's good at any Kindle store in the world.

Simply set up a Booklinker account and create links for your book. It's so easy.

For Still The One, this link would be: http://getbook.at/Still-The-One.

What To Know About Booklinker

With Booklinker, you can personalize the link and also make the beginning part of it say: "get book" or "my book."

Booklinker is part of the Amazon world and works only to create links for Amazon stores.

You can upgrade Booklinker to GeniusLink, but then it goes from free to paid. Once you upgrade, you can't go back to the free level.

Booklinker won't create a link from a URL that contains referral code so be sure you clean up the URL before using Booklinker.

Also, Booklinker does not currently support the shortened "amzn.to" format.

Takeaway Truth

Short links are infinitely easier to work with, and links made with Booklinker can bring you more sales from foreign Kindle shops. Try it!


Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * YouTube * Joan's Website.

Be the first to know about New Books and Giveaways, sign up for Joan's Mailing List.

Tired of "It's Complicated"

"It's complicated."

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, I'd be a rich woman.

The phrase has become trite and clich├ęd and is beginning to elicit the same reaction from me as fingernails scraping down a blackboard.

Seems as if I hear that phrase a couple of times—if not more—every single day.

Talk shows, movies, television, conversations with friends, those two words are everywhere when talking about problematic relationships.

How on earth, I wondered, did those two words become part of our daily conversation in just about every country?

Origin of It's Complicated

Did it begin with the Meryl Streep/Alec Baldwin movie of the same name in 2009? That's the one where the now-divorced couple develop the hots for each other and embark on an affair.

No, it goes farther back than that according to an in-depth analysis of the phrase that appeared in The Cut. The article is quite witty as it details the history of this commonplace phrase.

Perhaps it came from responses to a Marie Claire poll in 1976 where 42 percent of French women bemoaned that juggling a spouse and a lover was "complicated?"

No, farther back than that because the phrase appeared in a 1919 newspaper article about a married entanglement where a married man married his girlfriend, without first divorcing his wife. The reporter described the situation as, "It's complicated."

In 1915, W. Somerset Maugham's novel Of Human Bondage used "complicated" to describe the situation facing the character of choosing between a wife and a mistress."

That still isn't as far back as the phrase goes. According to Kory Stamper, a Merriam-Webster lexicographer, who was quoted in the article from The Cut, the phrase dates from the late 1800's when used by Henry James in The Tragic Muse with a character saying, "...it’s awfully complicated."

Takeaway Truth

So there you have it. Even the origin of "it's complicated" is complicated.

I'd love it if we could express the bewildering entanglement of of a romantic relationship with a new phrase.

Got any ideas?

5 Tips: Great Blog Post Titles

How do you craft great blog post titles? Something that is compelling and incites interest?

Since I've been successfully blogging since 2005—OMG, that's 14 years of blogging!—I have a few tips for you.

1. Keep It Short, Sweetheart.

Yep, another KISS rule.

Many beginning bloggers write incredibly long titles. The problem is that your title becomes part of the URL. When your title is long, it ends up truncated in the URL.

Sure, you can create a custom permalink, but many of you don't know how to do that. Also, that takes some extra time.

2. Make it descriptive but compact.

Put some thought into making your short title also be a predictor of the content so your URL in itself can tell someone what the post is about.

3. Avoid URLs that are random letters and numbers.

People tend to distrust URLs that look like weird. They won't click them. That means your wonderful blog post won't get any traffic.

4. Use a Keyword in the title.

If at all possible, use a keyword in the title. Always think about the keywords someone would use to find your blog post. Brainstorm a short list.

Here's a bonus tip.

5. Use the same keyword in the first paragraph of your post.

Search engine spiders crawl websites from the URL to the text to the links in the post.

Utilizing these 5 tips will make it easy for those bots to crawl your site and give you good search traffic.

Takeaway Truth

In blogging or any internet writing, basic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, will increase the traffic to your content.