Review: Dogs on the Inside

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Ah, rain. How lovely. What a great day to laze on the couch and watch something entertaining. On Netflix, I found Dogs on the Inside, a documentary filmed in a Massachusetts prison about inmates partnered with rescue dogs in a program with the goal of working toward a second chance at a better life for both inmate and stray dog.

If you don't subscribe to Netflix, it's also on Amazon.

Don't Throw Us Away

With more than 2 million inmates behind bars in this country, recidivism is more common than prisoners who build better lives. At the same time, between 6 to 8 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters in a year. Of those, more than half are euthanized each year.

The end result of both of these events are lives thrown away. The goal of Don't Throw Us Away is a partnership between prisons and rescue shelters to give both inmates and shelter dogs a new lease on life.

As a dog lover, I was immediately captured by the premise of the program. If someone can learn to love and unselfishly care for a dog and relate to that dog with kindness, then that person can do the same with people.

Heartwarming and inspiring, the documentary will make you see the inmate dog trainers as people, not as convicts. They learn to love the dogs they train, but then they must give up the dog they love when it is adopted. That's an important part of love: being able to sacrifice one's personal wants and desires for the greater good of the loved one. In this case, "giving up" the dog to be adopted by a family who will give it a good life. This life lesson teaches one to manage their emotions, and that is a lesson that will help them build a better life.

Behind The Story

Dog fostering and training programs in prisons have spread to many prisons in the U.S. One of the best known is New Leash on Life USA, based in Philadelphia. Through their work in prisons, they have successfully showed "prison inmates coming out of the Philadelphia prison system goes down about 50% by comparison to the average." (Read more about this.)

Don't miss this. It will make you think...make you view people differently when they have made mistakes in life rather than lumping them all together as losers. They're people, and they can re-enter society and live rewarding lives when they have the emotional skills needed to deal with life.

Takeaway Truth

Great documentary that shows people can change. Internal change begins with learning to love selflessly and to have a greater vision of yourself and your life.

Book Cover Contest

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Do you think your book cover has star quality? Then get it noticed by entering it in the Cover the Words Cover Contest sponsored by Yellow Rose Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America.

Details

Entry Fee: $15 per entry

Entry Deadline: June 1 - August 31, 2015

How to Enter: Electronic submission of any romance book or novella's front cover

What kind of Covers: traditional publishing or indie published works of all romance genres

Preliminary Judging: An Overall Winner and Top 3 Finalists in each category to be determined by popular vote.

Final Judging: category winners judged by editors and publishing houses for first, second and third place.

Prizes and Awards

Overall winner and 1st place in each category: gift certificate for free book cover and badge to display on website

2nd and 3rd places receive a badge to display on website

For more information and entry form.

Takeaway Truth

Now's your chance to gain some recognition for your book. Enter today.

How to Write a Tagline

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Do you know what a tagline is? In the entertainment industry, a tagline, sometimes written as tag line, is a small amount of text designed for dramatic effect. You know, it's the few words you see on a movie poster, DVD box, product, etc. You know, it's that slogan that sticks with you.

A good tagline is a punch in your consciousness that makes you remember the book, movie, or product.

Tagline or Logline

Some may think a tagline is the same as a logline, but the two are different even though the lines have blurred together as entertainment media have blended. Many authors have adopted screenwriting lingo to describe their books.

A logline is a one-sentence summary of a dramatic presentation, TV program or movie, and encapsulates a synopsis of the characters and plot as well as an emotional hook to grab the audience.

Differences

Perhaps the length and the item being marketed are the main differences between taglines and loglines.

A tagline is a few words or a phrase.

A logline is a sentence.

A tagline is used to promote a product of some kind whether that product is a book, movie, charity, video game, or a laundry detergent.

A logline is used to summarize a visual medium usually like a screenplay, movie, TV show, or, in the last few years, a book.

Having said all that, I advise you to not worry much about whether you've created one or the other. The important thing is to express the essence of your book, video, or whatever in as few words as possible.

Good Taglines

I'll talk about loglines another time. For now, I want to give you some examples of good taglines. These are from an analysis I did a few years ago.

American Indian College Fund: Educating the Mind and Spirit

Cancer Research Institute: Advancing immunology. Conquering cancer.

Allstate Insurance: You’re in good hands with Allstate.

Chevy Trucks: Like a rock.

Timex: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

There's Something About Mary: Love is in the hair.

Alien: In space no one can hear you scream.

Fargo: A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off: One man's struggle to take it easy.

Highlander: There can be only one.

My novella April Fool Bride: Is it a marriage of convenience or something more?

My novel Just One Look: Kids play doctor--these doctors play seduction games.

My latest release Heat Lightning: Secrets, memories, lies--secrets can kill.

Never underestimate the importance of a good tagline. It can literally sell a DVD, book, movie, or social cause.

This point was underscored recently when my husband's latest DVD purchase arrived. It was Season 3 of Cinemax's Strike Back, a series noted for high body count and nonstop action. I read the tagline on the box and thought, "Wow. That would sell it immediately to the target audience."

The world's not saving itself

That made me open the drawer and pull out the box sets for season 1 and 2.

Season 1: Brutal, ruthless, deadly. And they're the good guys.

Season 2: Diplomacy is overrated.

Lesson About Taglines

A good tagline should:

1. Be short and succinct. Less is more.

2. Capture the essence of the book or movie--either the plot, characters, conflict, or tone. Fabulous if you can get it all there someway or other.

3. Speak to the target audience. You must first know your audience. Who are they? Speak to them.

4. Grab attention and hold it. You want them to read the tagline, have an emotional reaction, and then read it again.

5. Be memorable. You want it to stick with the audience so they'll tell their friends about it.

Takeaway Truth

Begin with movies and DVDs that you've seen. Read the taglines. See how they did it. Now, take your books since you know them so well and start writing taglines. Practice until you have made it part of your own skill set.

99cent Sale This Week

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From now until Friday, Still The One, a romantic comedy about a marriage of IN-convenience, is on sale for only 99cents.

About Still The One

Burke Winslow needed a wife. But he didn't have his ex, Ally, in mind for the position.

Burke Winslow stands at the altar, ready to marry his business partner in a marriage of convenience. The minister solemnly asks: "If anyone here knows why this man and this woman shouldn't be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace."

A rain-soaked, bedraggled Ally Fletcher limps down the aisle and shouts, "Stop the wedding!"

What follows is a funny, sexy romp that proves when there's love, passion never dies, it just smolders away until you toss some gasoline on it. Burke and Ally provide that gasoline when they find themselves locked in a marriage of--inconvenience.

His cagey grandfather pulls Burke's strings, and her equally cagey grandmother manipulates Ally. Toss in a pretend boyfriend for Ally, and Burke's scorned business partner left at the altar to make for complete chaos.

Can Burke and Ally peel away the layers of the past and discover the truth about their relationship? Will the truth free them or put them asunder?

Still The One is a rollicking good time--Texas style! Sassy, sexy, and funny!

Grab It On Sale Here

All Romance Ebooks * Amazon Kindle * iBooks * Kobo * Nook

Audio Book is also available at Audible and iTunes, but it's not on sale. However, it is WhisperSync with the ebook when you get it on Amazon/Audible so you get it discounted plus you can go back and forth between the book and audiobook.

Takeaway Truth

Review from Cheryl Bolen, NY Times bestselling author: "Reeves had me laughing like crazy in the first chapter. I love, love, love this book. It's funny and very romantic. Romantic comedy at its best."

Maintaining Your Hard Drive: Defrag

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It's easy when you Schedule Tasks!
Everyone tosses around the term "Hard Drive," but do you really know much about this piece of equipment that operates your PC? More importantly, do you know how to keep it healthy?

A hard drive, aka hard disk drive, is the device that writes data, that is, stores data on rotating plates with magnetic surfaces. When you issue a command to your computer, the data is retrieved and viewable.

Operating System Fragments Files

Fragmentation occurs when your operating system breaks a file into pieces because there is not enough space on the storage device where the file was originally saved.

Your computer system keeps a record of where the different pieces of the file are stored. This is done by using a FAT or File Allocation Table. A similar file system is NTFS.

When you retrieve the file again, the operating system queries the file system (FAT/NTFS/etc.other) to locate all the different pieces of the file.

Defragmentation, or defrag for short, is the process of scanning the file system and rejoining the split files. It's rather like gathering all the pieces together and lining them up next to each other.

Why Defrag?

Many computer users think you don't need to defrag computer hard drives now—that it's something you did in the days of DOS and earlier versions of Windows. Not true.

Defragmenting your computer system, or defragging as everyone says, is a habit everyone should acquire because it will keep your computer running at peak performance. Defragging regularly will keep your PC from picking up those bad habits like running slow and snail's pace performance.

What defragmenting does is to analyze your hard drive and reorganize the files it finds so they can be accessed faster. It's easy to do, and the software tool used to do this is part of the Windows package. Just open Disk Defrag and select your options and click run. Better yet, schedule it using your system tool.

Takeaway Truth

A well-maintained computer will perform better and generally last longer.

Review: Rise of a Texas Bluesman, Stevie Ray Vaughan

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In April of this year, the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Previously, he had been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2014. Rolling Stone ranked Vaughan as the twelfth greatest guitarist of all time.

Appropriately, Rise of a Texas Bluesman hit Amazon Prime recently. Yes, I'm a SRV fan, but I think anyone who loves great music will enjoy this documentary. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a virtuoso with guitar and an innovative musician who married blues with the many musical influences in Texas.

Most people consider his music as blues or jazz with a rock heart or vice versa. Whatever you call his brand of music, it made Stevie Ray Vaughan an international star and created legions of loyal fans. Even today, his music has the power to raise chill bumps on my arms.

The documentary begins at the beginning and shows Stevie Ray's growth from childhood to adulthood--physically and musically. Stevie Ray began playing guitar at the age of seven. Told by the musicians and friends who knew him well, this is a journey that shows his struggle and triumphs and his passion for music that carried him through the peaks and valleys of life.

The focus is on his contribution to the musical world, not on the demons to which he fell prey. In the end, he defeated his drug addiction and came back better than ever. Sadly, he was killed in a helicopter crash after performing at the Alpine Valley Resort in East Troy, Wisconsin.  He was only 35 years old.

On the morning before that fateful crash, Stevie Ray had told his band and crew members about a terrible nightmare he'd had. He was present at his own funeral and saw thousands of mourners. During the dream, he said, he was terrified yet oddly peaceful at the same time.

If you're not familiar with Stevie Ray Vaughan and his music, just listen to some of these tracks.

Pride and Joy * Texas Flood * Cold Shot

Takeaway Truth

If you fancy yourself a music aficionado, you must see Rise of a Texas Bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Emotional Truth in Novels

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In fiction, writing what you know means getting the facts correct in your information plot. It also means clearly presenting the underlying universal truth. That universal truth is what I call emotional truth, and it is what makes the story as real for an American as it is for an Italian or a Japanese reader.

Emotional Truth

Universal truth is the honesty and recognizable emotional truth that makes fiction come to life. It's what will make an editor offer you a book publishing contract or a reader buy every book or ebook you write.

One might even say that writing the emotional truth that you know – the emotions you feel when hurt, scared, angry, or happy – is even more important than anything else. Without that truth, your fiction falls flat. Sadly, a story without emotional truth will never succeed because readers won't emotionally invest in the story.

Takeaway Truth

Next time you're stuck in your writing, just write what you know. The emotional truth that makes the story come alive for you will also make it come alive for the reader.