Independence Day

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On this July 4, I still believe in Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

Takeaway Truth

Happy Independence Day.

Slang Comes and Goes

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As you may have noticed, I've had a lot going on in my life in 2015. Life finally settled into a more placid routine, and I went a week without an emergency.

That's when I realized how very tired I was. You know? It's like doing a lot of physical work and not realizing how tired you are until you sit down.

Break Needed

I took the past couple of weeks off and played domestic goddess. I did some decorating and re-decorating, organizing and clutter eradication, watched a lot of TV, and generally took a break. I told my brother that I was playing hooky. We laughed together.

I started wondering if anyone in today's world knew what the slang phrase "play hooky" meant. I haven't heard anyone say it in a long time so I checked online. As I suspected, Urban Dictionary verified that it's no longer a phrase in common parlance.

Slang Comes and Goes

What a shame. Play hooky sounds playful and a bit mischievous. What a perfect phrase to describe goofing off from work.

Play hooky is defined as "to be absent from school without an excuse." It's an Americanism first recorded, allegedly, around 1848. Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms quotes a passage from the novel Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain: "He moped to school gloomy and sad, and took his flogging, along with Joe Harper, for playing hookey the day before."

Whether you spell it hooky or hookey, the fun little word has gone the way of the dodo bird I guess. How many other perfectly good words have vanished from usage?

The one that comes to mind is something I still hear even though it's archaic, bordering on obsolete except for audiophiles.

"You sound like a broken record."

What a perfect way to describe someone who keeps saying the same thing over and over. Unfortunately, if you said it to a typical teen, you'd probably get a blank stare and a "Huh?" in response.

Takeaway Truth

What's your favorite outdated phrase?

What Should Website Contain

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If you're setting up a static website—one that doesn't change—you may wonder what you need to include. Here are my thoughts.

Minimum Pages Needed

1. Welcome page

2. How to get in touch with you. This can be an About You page with a brief biography, but the important thing is to include a contact form or email address that can't be harvested by hackers. That usually means an address written out, not posted as a hot link. Example: Joan at JoanReeves dot com.

3. Your published books. Show the covers and give buy links for each.

Include anything else you think your readers would like to know about you. Make the content entertaining and interesting.

Takeaway Truth

A static website is a good tool and one that doesn't require continuous posting of new content.

Thursday3Some: Love in the Morning Calm by Judythe Morgan

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I'm pleased to shine the Thursday3Some spotlight on my friend Judythe Morgan and her novel Love in the Morning Calm.

About Judythe Morgan

Award-winning author Judythe Morgan is an Air Force daughter, Army wife, one time-Department of Army Civilian, mother, antiques dealer, schoolteacher, and educational administrator. She draws on her diverse experiences to write unique love stories. Her belief in true love, second chances, forgiveness, give all her stories a happily-ever-after ending.

If Judythe’s not at her computer working on her next story, you’ll find her reading on the front porch or hiking with her real life hero and her two canine babies in the nearby Rio Grande National Forest.

Find Judythe Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter *Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

Love in the Morning Calm by Judythe Morgan

In 1966, while on temporary assignment to South Korea, Green Beret Major Ace Cabot meets Lily Reed, a Department of Army civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters. Ace is a high-potential career officer, who should resist the temptation of any woman, but he can’t ignore his interest in her.

Lily is a firm supporter of the budding women’s lib movement. She enjoys her freedom and new life away from her stifling hometown and preacher daddy. Her plans leave no room for any man. No matter how captivating his smile.

In an uncertain time, in a temporary safe zone, yielding to temptation changes both their lives forever.

When did you write Love in the Morning Calm?

I wrote Love in the Morning Calm as Lily and Alex’s backstory with no intention to publish. I needed the details about how they met and fell in love only to have the Vietnam War interrupt their happily-ever-after in order to write my debut novel, The Pendant’s Promise. (Also at other ebook sellers.)

Many readers had emailed me wanting those same details. That’s when I dug out this manuscript and published it as the prequel. Each book stands alone, but together the two books tell the whole love story of Alex Cabot and Lily Johnson.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

The story idea blossomed from my time at Eighth Army in South Korea. The book title is a play on the fact that South Korea is known as the Land of the Morning Calm.

Why do readers buy Love in the Morning Calm?

Many of my readers identify with the Vietnam War era specifically and/or with military life in general. Others enjoy the unique plot and authentic feel to the book. Still others appreciate that it is a wholesome love story.

Amazon reviewers say:
~~“The passion is hot, but the story is clean, …”
~~ “It's heartbreaking and inspiring, warm and relatable all at the same time, especially for those, like me, who weren't born until the 80s and want to understand the Vietnam era better. I do have a military background and loved the description of what that meant during this time period.”

Add Love in the Morning Calm to Your Library

Kindle * iBooks * Kobo * Nook

Takeaway Truth

Have you selected your book for the weekend? Better grab this one for good measure.

Success Requires Patience

Nothing great was ever created quickly.

To develop a great scientific discovery, to paint a masterpiece, to write an immortal poem, to become a minister, to start a business or become a Navy S.E.A.L.--to do anything significant requires time, patience, and perseverance.

Baby Steps At First

Success is achieved by degrees, little by little, one step at a time.

Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in a day. Mozart did not compose Don Giovanni in a day, Milton did not write Paradise Lost at one sitting, nor did Shakespeare create Hamlet in a day.

Just as the most famous musicians begin with basic musical notes and artists first draw with Crayons, the greatest writer who ever lived began with the alphabet. With words. If you want to write a book, you too must start there.

Be patient with yourself and with the process as you take the first steps to achieve your dream.

Takeaway Truth

To do anything great requires time, patience, and perseverance. Get started. Success takes time.

Marketing Hooks

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Give Me One Reason To Stay Here

When you begin to write your Product Description for Amazon or other retailers, always think about the old Tracy Chapman song mentioned above.

She sings: "Give me a reason to stay here, or I'll turn my back around."

If you don't give the web visitor a reason to stay on your book (or other product) page, she will turn her back around and go to another webpage.

At the beginning of your product description or book blurb, give the visitor reasons to stay and buy your book. How? Entice with marketing hooks that cannot be ignored.

Marketing Hooks

Marketing hooks are buzz words or phrases that do these 3 things:

1. create excitement about your book

2. tell the reader what kind of book it is

3. make the reader want to read the book.

Are Great Reviews Marketing Hooks?

Sadly, they're usually not. They are only relevant if the reviews mean anything to a particular book browser. A lot of people who read ebooks have already learned that reviews posted on the book page may not equate to quality. Writers have learned that reviews may not mean good sales. Don't depend on book reviews to create excitement.

What readers look for is a description that makes them excited about the book and tells them what kind of book it is and makes them want to read the book. What can do that are marketing hooks. These are commonly called tropes--common literary devices or motifs that are popular with readers.

Here are a few:

* runaway bride
* secret baby
* ugly duckling
* amnesia
* debt of honor
* Cinderella
* evil twin
* love at first sight
* bad cop
* ripped from the headlines
* woman in jeopardy
* marriage of convenience.

Takeaway Truth

How many books can you recall with the above tropes? Did the product description contain the trope as a keyword?

Step Back in Time to Monterrey Pop Festival

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Janis Joplin
If I had a wayback machine, I'd step into it on this day of June 18 and travel back to 1967 to the Monterey Pop Festival. This was before Woodstock in the summer of '69. By Woodstock, the stars of Monterey--The Who, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin, my personal favorite--were already superstars.

The Monterey Pop Festival was different. It was a 3-day event during the Summer of Love. A couple of weeks ago I was explaining the Summer of Love to my daughter's hematologist. I remember that summer so well. Great music. Lots of dancing. My only regret? I didn't get to go to Monterey. My summer of love was spent in Louisiana listening to rock music my parents hated and dreaming about escaping to college in the fall.

Ah, the music that summer. Janis Joplin, the rebel from Port Arthur, Texas, was amazing with her voice full of raw emotion as she belted the lyrics that seemed ripped from her tortured soul. In addition to Janis, the other performers at Monterey that I personally adored were Buffalo Springfield, the Mamas and the Papas, the great Otis Redding, the Animals, the Association, the Byrds, and Jefferson Airplane.

About 200,000 people attended the Monterey Pop Festival. Many of those came because of the song that was SO popular that summer: San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) sung by Scott McKenzie. The opening line to that song was, "Are you going to San Francisco?"

Thousands of young people across the country answered that question with their presence at Monterey.

Takeaway Truth

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go?