Inauguration

The 45th President of the United States, Donald John Trump, was inaugurated today.

Regardless of what you think about him, pray that he will be good for America.

Takeaway Truth

Peaceful transition of power is what this country's democratic process is all about. May that never change.

Happy National Popcorn Day & Many More

I was going to write a blog about the things I've seen on this gray, cold day in the country, but my darling hubby made popcorn.

Earlier I'd seen on the Internet that today is National Popcorn Day.

Historical Tidbit

This addictive snack rose to popularity in the United States in the middle 1800s. Charles Cretors, a candy-store owner, was the one who brought it to the masses when he made a machine that popped corn with steam.

By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons traveling the streets of Chicago. I imagine the smell lured customers to the wagons. I know the smell of popcorn is calling me now. I'm shutting down for the day and going to watch a DVD with my hubby.

What Some of My Favorite People Say About Popcorn

"I am a big popcorn fanatic. I love popcorn. In fact one year for my birthday, my husband bought me one of those big popcorn machines like they have in movie theaters." ~Debbie Macomber, Author

"Humans love sex, we need sex, it's how we connect, it reminds us we're alive, it's the third most basic human need, after food and good movie popcorn." ~Billy Crystal

"Others may prefer mindless entertainment, but on Sunday nights, you'll find me parked right in front of my television, munching popcorn and improving my intellect by watching Masterpiece Classic." ~Teresa Medeiros

"I love to go to a movie, get a Diet Coke and a barrel of popcorn, and sit there with my kids and watch a film." ~William Shatner

"I really wanted the MTV Award the most, It was a golden popcorn container and it looks really neat." ~Kirsten Dunst

Takeaway Truth

Have a little fun this evening and have some popcorn while you're at it.

Wine Making, Our New Adventure

December - Primary Fermenter
We drove to our country house to check on the merlot that's been fermenting since December.

Racking wine basically means siphoning it from one vessel to another, leaving dead yeast and other sediment behind.

The primary fermenter, shown in the photo at left, is actually a food-grade plastic bucket with a tight-fitting lid and an airlock to let the carbon dioxide out and keep oxygen and anything else out.

Last time darling hubby was here, he removed the oak chips and the elderberries we'd used to "soften" the merlot then he racked (siphoned) the wine from the primary fermenter (plastic bucket) into a 6-gallon glass carboy.

3 Weeks Later

Now we're here to rack it again because the fermentation should be completed. Just to make sure the fermentation is completed--the yeast has consumed all the sugar and turned it into alcohol--we'll let it stay in the carboy another few weeks before bottling it.

Carboy of wine before we racked it tonight.
I didn't want to do it tonight, but darling hubby was excited to test it and taste it. So we got started about 7:00pm. We had to sanitize everything just before using it. Then we had to clean and sanitize another carboy since we were racking from 1 carboy to another.

Turns out the second carboy we brought for the job was not the same capacity. Our mistake in grabbing the wrong size. So we ended up racking twice since we had to clean and sanitize the original one and rack back into it.

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

Remember that old saying? My mom used to say it all the time. She would have made a good winemaker because you have to be vigilant about cleanliness and sanitation. I tell you cleaning these big glass carboys is a job!

Thankfully, we got it all done including the final cleanup.

The Taste

The smell is very fragrant--just like wine! The taste? It's very young now. We'll rack it again in a month or more and taste again.

I imagine we'll age it another 6 months after that before we taste again. Maybe by New Year's it might taste good enough to have a glass even though it will still be young and will get better with more aging.

Hobby Can Take Over Your World

My darling hubby Larry has been interested in wine making for several years. Because he's interested, I'm interested.

This year we're having land prepared and will do a grape planting. We've been buying wine grape juice for wine making, but we want to eventually experiment with our own grapes. Or so we think. Of course, it will be a few years before our grapes may be wine worthy.

Would Love to Sell Movie Option

*LOL* That would pay for our next wine maker needs: a building. Our wine making utensils and supplies are scattered all over the kitchen and the laundry room here. I think we'll need to make a decision this year on whether we also want to have a dedicated building erected for this hobby that is taking over our world.

Not only do we need space for supplies and fermenting, racking, and bottling, but we also need storage space. This batch of merlot will add about 30 bottles to our "cellar" which is really the back of the very large pantry here.

At home, we have a wine experiment in a primary fermenter. It's a small batch of apple wine from a wine recipe I found in an old wine making book. The apple wine is supposed to be like a dry white wine when finished. It will yield 5 bottles. I'm hoping it will taste similar to a Blanc du Bois.

Takeaway Truth

All in all, this is a great adventure. I'll keep you posted on how our little boutique winery grows. Eventually, we hope to have some wonderful "sunshine in a glass" that we made, bottled, and aged.

Love Audio Books? Stretch Your Money

I love audio books. Whether you call them audio books or audiobooks--I write it both ways--they're growing in popularity.

Audiobooks make it easy to stay up with what's popular in fiction and nonfiction when you don't have much time for reading.

Time Is Biggest Factor

Audio books have zoomed in popularity. I think this is because time is at such a premium in today's world. Readers often don't have the time to devote to reading.

Being able to listen to an audio book allows readers to indulge their love of books. Audio books can take away the tedium of commuting, traveling, mundane chores and tasks, and entertain you all at the same time. When chitchat at a social gathering turns to the bestsellers, audio book listeners can hold their own.

To Get Most for Your Dollar, Join Audible

Audible offers several introductory offers for membership. Basically, you get a free trial. After 30 days, the Audible membership fee goes to regular price, that's only $14.95 a month.

Each month on the basic plan, you get 1 credit per month. If you don't spend the credit, it rolls over. For 1 credit, you can buy any audiobook, regardless of retail price. Now that's a deal! Click here to learn more about Membership Plans.

Plus, there are special sales for members throughout the year--sales like BOGO or $4.99 or less sale prices. I stock up during the sales.

There are alternatives to paying high retail prices for audiobooks. I'm sure there are other audiobook sites with membership fees, but I'm most familiar with Audible which also offers another benefit to readers.

WhisperSync

Another benefit to Audible membership is WhisperSync. If you buy the Kindle ebook edition first then the audiobook can be purchased for a reduced rate. You can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book edition and listening to the Audible audio book. It will sync to the farthest read point automatically.

You can check the ebooks in your Kindle library to see if they're WhisperSync enabled. Although all of mine are available through WhisperSync, not all Kindle books are. Learn more about WhisperSync here.

With Audible, you can download a book in just about any format so you can play it on your iPod or MP3 player, your Smartphone, computer, or even burn a CD and play it in your car or home if you're still listening to CDs.

Audio Books Embraced

The popularity of audiobooks is growing by leaps and bounds. Once they were used mostly by the blind.

Now, they have risen in popularity because they make books accessible to anyone--people who love to read and people who are marginal readers. Plus, you can "read" an audiobook while traveling, commuting, working out at the gym, cleaning house, or weeding a flower bed.

Takeaway Truth

About 5 years ago, a little more than 4,600 audiobooks were released. Fast forward a couple of years, and the audio book releases had more than doubled. Their popularity is only going to keep increasing which is very good news for authors--and readers too.

My Audiobooks

I've had 8 of my romance novels produced as audiobooks.

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones
Just One Look
Nobody's Cinderella
Old Enough to Know Better
Romeo and Judy Anne
Scents and Sensuality
Still The One
The Trouble With Love

Transfer Smashwords Book To Kindle eReader

Smashwords offers a lot of free ebooks, and authors often give away Smashwords Coupons for free books. Some of you Kindle users may not know how to get a Smashwords book onto your Kindle.

(I try to run this post at least twice a year so new ebook readers can learn how easy it is to get a free book with a Smashwords Coupon and send it to their Kindle device for reading.)

Smashwords offers eBooks in multiple formats. One of these is usually the .mobi file format used for Kindle. It's very easy to download the .mobi files and transfer them to your Kindle. Here are step by step instructions for you.

How To Transfer a Smashwords Book to Your Kindle or Kindle Fire

Set up an account with Smashwords so you can purchase an eBook or download a free book with a Smashwords coupon. Then when you buy an eBook from Smashwords, the book is automatically placed in your Smashwords library. You can download the eBook in any offered format immediately or at a later date.

For a Kindle, there are 2 ways to accomplish this either through a USB Connection or emailing the ebook file to your Kindle Email Address.

USB Connection

First, purchase the book. Purchase includes "buying" a free book with a Coupon Code.

Plug your Kindle into one of the USB slots on your computer using the cable that came with your Kindle. When you attach your Kindle to your computer with the USB cable, it makes your Kindle appear as a drive on your computer.

Go to the book's Smashwords book page, click to download the "Kindle" which is a .MOBI format.

Go to where you see the Kindle show up as a drive on your computer and drop the book's file--file name will end in .mobi extension--into the Kindle's "documents" folder. (It’s just like transferring a file to an external hard drive or a thumb drive, etc.)

Disconnect the Kindle from your computer. The book is ready to read. By the way, if you've already downloaded the .MOBI file to your computer instead of to your Kindle, Smashwords advises in their how-to instructions to view the YouTube video (not a Smashwords produced video) that shows how to drag the file from your desktop to the Kindle's documents folder.

Note: If you have a Kindle Fire, the process works the same, but you'll need to purchase a cable because it doesn't come with one.

Email Ebook to Kindle Email Address

For both the first generation Kindles and the newest Kindle Fire, you can email your Smashwords .mobi files to your Kindle email address. You just send an email with the .mobi file as an attachment.

If in doubt as to what that email address is, login to your account / Manage Your Kindle. In Left sidebar, you'll see Your Kindle Account and below that, a number of choices, one of which is Personal Document Settings. Click that. A window opens, and you'll see at the top Send To Kindle Email Settings.

Click Learn More to read the instructions given by Amazon on how to set up the free Send-to-Kindle Email Settings under “Personal Document Settings” in your Amazon account. It's easy to understand.

When you email a .mobi file to your Kindle account, you'll find the eBook listed in your Kindle Library under All Items. Just use the Actions button to select where you want to deliver the eBook. (This is for those of us who have multiple Kindle reading options, i.e., smartphone, Kindle, Kindle Fire, etc.)

Turn on your Kindle reader device so that it will receive the eBook just as if you'd bought it from the Kindle Shop. The book will download just like any other eBook purchase.

Actually, it takes less time to buy the book from Smashwords and transfer it than it took to write this.

Takeaway Truth

Now you can shop on Smashwords more often, knowing you can easily transfer the books you obtain to your Kindle.

Waiting Room Survival Kit

Have you ever had to spend time in a doctor's office or hospital waiting room?

I have done this more times than I’d like.

In fact, I spent most of yesterday at the Texas Women's Hospital downtown. I have a kit I take along that helps me survive these interminable days.

This waiting room survival kit is good for any occasion that finds you waiting for more than a couple of hours.

Whether you're headed to a surgery waiting room, a big clearance sale, or the DMV, take your kit along.

Here's how to put together...

A Waiting Room Survival Kit

Backpack.

First, you'll need a comfortable backpack. Don’t carry a purse especially if you're going to walk any distance from parking lots to a hospital. Put your cell phone, basic purse necessities, etc. in a backpack. It’s more comfortable and safer than a purse hanging off your shoulder. It's easier to manage a backpack than a giant purse or maybe a purse and a tote bag that holds your entertainment for the day.

I like a backpack that has netting bottle holders on the sides. I actually use a backpack from a European tour I took a few years ago. The bag should be roomy enough to hold the following things you'll need to survive comfortably.

Jacket

Winter or summer, most waiting rooms are either freezing cold or over-heated. Take a jacket in case it's the former. Wear layers in case it's the latter. If you don't need the jacket, roll it up and put it in the backpack.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Seriously. You’ll be surprised how dry your mouth will get and how nasty after a day of eating snack foods and drinking bad coffee.

Entertainment

Bring something to do to pass the time. Televisions in waiting rooms are usually pre-set to CNN or something similar. The volume is turned off so you have to read the captions if you insist on watching the tube. A Kindle, cell phone with the Kindle app, iPad or something similar is great and lighter weight than print books. Stock your cell phone or ereader with plenty of books in case you get bored with the first one you select. If you want to play games or watch Netflix movie
s, be sure and bring your earbuds. You’ll get ejected if you try listening without earbuds.

Notebook and Pen

You may want to take notes when the doctor talks with you or write down the name of the snippy clerk who waited on you. Or you may think of questions to ask the doctor. Write it down because in the emotion of the moment, you’ll probably forget.

Medication

If you need to take something throughout the day, bring it along with a snack if you need to take it with food.

Snacks

Focus your snacks on protein like raw nuts, peanuts, cheese sticks, whole grain crackers with peanut butter or cheese, raisins and other dried fruit, Lara snack bars or granola bars, apples, Clementines, and grapes. Bring enough to get you through the day in case there are no convenient snack kiosks or cafeterias available. Avoid really salty or sweet snacks because they'll make you feel worse in the long run.

Water

Take at least 1 bottle of water--2 if you're expecting more than 2 hours wait time. In today's world, water fountains can be few and far between.

Cash and Major Credit Card

You may burn through your snacks and water and need to purchase items from a vending machine or tip the valet. Most parking garages and valet service take credit cards so Visa or Master Card will handle that.

Cell Phone and Charging Cable

Many waiting rooms now have charging stations where you can keep your phone, iPad, etc. charged up. Most of them are fast chargers. Just keep an eye on your devices though.

What To Wear

Comfortable clothing. You want something comfortable and loose enough that you can spend 1 to 12 hours in it, probably sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Remember to dress in layers.

Comfortable shoes. Leave the heels and sandals at home. You may do a fair amount of walking. Even if you valet park at the hospital entrance, you’ll still have to walk a distance to the elevators and you’ll walk several long corridors.

Once in the waiting room, you’ll be taken to the pre-op room for some last words with your patient. Then back to the waiting room. Post surgery will find you walking to recovery then to another room after that then back to the waiting room.

At other places, like movie box offices or the Social Security office, you may find yourself standing in really long lines for long wait times until your feet feel as if they're on fire. By the end of the day, you’ll be glad you wore socks and walking shoes.

Good Manners, Attitude, Smiles

I've listed this last because it's not something you can actually toss into a backpack, but it's something that will get you through the ordeal of waiting with style and grace.

It will also help out the people you run into during your wait time. Smile. Be friendly. Avoid the easy response of frustration and ill-temper.

No one likes waiting, and no one likes dealing with ill-mannered people who take it out on the employees who meet the public.

Recap of Backpack Contents List

Jacket
Purse with cash--dollar bills for vending machines--and major credit card
Medication
Cell phone, devices, and cables
Water
Snacks
Travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste
Entertainment
Notebook and Pen
Good manners
Good attitude
Smiles
JOL_2400px3200p_NYT

For Your Consideration

If you’re looking for a book to give you a laugh when you’re in a waiting room and feeling tense, consider my romantic comedy, Just One Look, about two doctors in a comedy of errors courtship.

Just One Look is available at Amazon and other ebook sellers. This romance is also available in audio at Audible and iTunes.

"I loved this book! If you haven’t read JUST ONE LOOK, you’re missing out on a great story. It’s humorous, sexy to the max, and just plain entertaining. ~ Amazon Reviewer

Takeaway Truth

Like the commercial used to say: "Never leave home without it."

MOB Tour: The Beast Within by Jacquie Biggar



THE BEAST WITHIN
Mended Souls, book 2
by Jacquie Biggar


Genre: Thriller
Content Warning: 18+ But the enclosed Excerpt is General Audience.



She didn't expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.

Can two displaced angels save a woman from the clutches of a vicious psychopath?

When Julie Crenshaw is offered a news reporter's job on beautiful Vancouver Island she didn't expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial killer.

Connor O'Rourke has seen his share of human depravities during his fourteen years as a homicide detective, but is still sickened by the murderer terrorizing his island shores. And threatening his key witness.

As the stakes rise, can two people get a second chance at love?

Or will a killer become the winner?



Julie pulled into the paved driveway and parked in front of the single car garage just as the school bus stopped down the street and let off a rag-tag bunch of laughing, talking kids. All except her boys, last to step down from the vehicle. They barely glanced up from their inspection of the sidewalk when the doors slid closed and the bus signaled away from the curb.

She sighed and waited while they trudged the half block to their front gate. There were no waves or yelled plans to join the other kids in a game of street hockey after their dinner. No suggestions of an impromptu basketball match using the hoop above the garage door, or a bike ride to the nearby park. Nothing at all. In fact, Dustin looked like he had another of his perpetual mad-ons happening, with hunched shoulders and downcast expression. Meanwhile, Freddie tagged along behind, casting envious glances at the neighbor boy running down the street toward the others setting up for the hockey game.

“Why can’t we, Dusty?” Freddie tugged on his older brother’s jacket, barely slowing him down. “I want to play.”

Dustin stopped short, glaring at the laughing kids down the block. “They’re a big bunch of dummies.” He kicked at a stray pebble, sending it skittering down the walk.

Julie hiked her satchel higher on her shoulder and closed the car door. Dustin glanced her way, then trudged into the house without a word.

Julie’s welcoming smile flat-lined, her son’s continuing anger creating a hard ball of tension in her gut. She’d taken him to counselling after his father’s death, but it hadn’t done much to alleviate the guilt he carried. He felt the accident was his fault and nothing Julie could say would change his mind.

“Mom, can I go play?” Freddie giggled as the neighbor’s dog dropped a beat up ball glove at his feet.

She forced a cheerful expression and held out her arms. “Do I get a cuddle first?”

Young enough not to care who might be watching, he ran into her embrace, his chubby arms wrapping her waist in a bear hug. She held on a moment too long, reluctant to give up the scent of bubblegum and sun that clung to his soft skin.

“Mom, you’re squeezing me to death,” he laughed into her chest.

She gave one last clench, half teasing, half desperation, and let him go. “Be back in an hour, and watch out for traffic.”

“Okay, love you, Mom,” he said, grabbing the glove and heading for the street, his attention already half a block away.

“Love you, son,” she answered, and he was gone. Leaving her alone. Deflated.

She turned for the house, coming to a halt when she noticed Dustin standing on the other side of the screen. There was that knot again. Much as she loved her eldest son, Julie hated the undercurrents that ran between them like a tide of noxious gas. He’d been daddy’s boy, had followed Mike wherever he went, questions flying a-mile-a-minute. They’d often joked that the only time Dusty was quiet was when he was asleep.

Mike.

She missed her husband every day.








Restitution begins with the truth.

Lucas Carmichael and Scott Anderson had it all, money, fame, and fortune. But one night's stupid mistake takes everything they thought they cherished and dumps it upside down.

A car accident ends Lucas' life and leaves Scott injured and bitter.

As the local ME, Tracy York, investigates the case, discrepancies begin to point to more than a simple drunk driving incident.

When threats are made to Tracy's life can Scott and his guardian angel, Lucas, protect her, or will she become another casualty?




JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they're gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.


She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.


Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can't function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂


Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her website. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter or email her via her web site.


Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!






MoB Promotions