3 Ways to Avoid Burnout

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Do you know the song When The Going Gets Tough? I like the Billy Ocean version, but there are other renditions. What do you do when the going gets tough? The way you answer that question may determine your longevity in your career--especially if your career is being a writer.

You've heard the old cliché and seen the inspirational posters: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." Right?

3 Ways to Avoid Burnout

1. Take a vacation. Sometimes, you're just too tired to get going. Sometimes when the going gets ever tougher, if you've been fighting the good fight for a long time, maybe you should just relax. Take a few days off and just do things that bring you pleasure and make you laugh. Take a little vacation from the daily grind even if you think you can't afford to take time off. You'll be surprised at how much better you feel, enabling you to return to your work with fresh energy.

2. Change your thinking. When you're struggling all the time, it's easy to slip into negativity. Too often negativity leads to disparaging self-talk. If that describes you, it's time to make a mid-year resolution to stop it. Quit disrespecting yourself--or anyone else. All that negativity and whining takes an enormous amount of energy. Resolve that if you can't say anything good about someone that you'll just keep your mouth shut. That is especially true of your self talk!

3. Plot a new course or update the one you're navigating. Get some perspective on your goals and your life. Figure out where you're going. If you don't have goals, make some. How can you achieve something if you don't have a clear cut idea of what you want? Indecision leads to lack of focus, and lack of focus leads to lack of achievement.

Figure out exactly what you want. You. Not your spouse or your best friend. What would make you happy? Set your goals realistically—high enough that you have to work to achieve them but low enough to be in the realm of real possibility.
Wrong-thinking Goal: I want to hit the NYT best seller list with this book. Or, I want to win Yard of the Month from the Garden Club. (Totally out of your control.)

Right-thinking Goal: I want to finish the manuscript. Or, I want to have a weed-free yard. (Totally within your control.)

Takeaway Truth

Take a vacation, change your thinking, and work on your navigation. Use these 3 methods often to avoid burnout.

Reviews: 2 Films About Revolutions

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Recently, I watched 2 films about revolutions. The first was Sons of Liberty, and the second was Texas Rising. I found both of them enjoyable and would like to tell you why.

Sons of Liberty

The History Channel seems to be taking a page from the Skinemax playbook with its mini-series Sons of Liberty. I mean, who thought the founding fathers were such hunks?

There's Jason Omara as George Washington, Ben Barnes as Samuel Adams, Ryan Eggold of The Blacklist as Dr. Joseph Warren, and so many more studly actors portraying swashbuckling founding fathers that you'll watch just for the eye candy. For the men in the audience, there are the lusty ladies of the Revolution.

Toss in a hefty dose of sex and near-nudity and you have a Revolutionary war era for the new generation. That's not to say this film is not highly entertaining. It is. Plus, it whets one's appetite to do a little digging and find out the truth in the story presented by Sons of Liberty.

Watch it. I think you'll find it greatly enjoyable for all that it is--and intriguing for all that it isn't.

Texas Rising

The Texas Revolution is usually considered to have begun with the battle of Gonzales in October 1835 and ended with the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

The History Channel took much literary license in producing its controversial mini-series. It makes one wonder why they didn't simply tell the dramatic, suspenseful true story.

You may want to pass on Texas Rising if you're a native Texan like my husband. He, like many native Texans who reviewed this film, scoffed at it and its portrayal of the Texas Rangers, Sam Houston, and all the historical events near and dear to a Texan's heart.

If you're not a Texan, then you may find this mish-mash of history fact and fiction entertaining. Bill Paxton, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Thomas Jane, and Brendan Fraser--just to name a few of my favorites--are superb. It's the story that is sadly lacking in substance and truth that hurts the entire effort. We found the documentary promoting Texas Rising much more effective than the mini-series.

So if you can suspend disbelief and ignore the fact that none of the geographic settings resemble anything like the terrain around San Antonio or any other part of the region that featured prominently in the Texas Revolution and also ignore that the Texas Rangers are portrayed as so much less than they were in real life, then you might be entertained.

The Texas Rangers are a fascinating group. I have a Texas Ranger badge, and it's one of my prize possessions. I don't like seeing the Rangers trivialized. If you want to really learn about the Texas Rangers, visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas. I've been twice and plan to return. It's a great museum.

Takeaway Truth

Even when films about historical events are flawed, they can be good entertainment and, hopefully, inspire viewers to learn more about the true life events they purport to portray.

Scoop on Ice Cream Cones

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After our Club Royale sandwiches at Jason's Deli today, darling hubby and I were enjoying our soft-serve vanilla ice cream cones. I said, "Wonder who invented the ice cream cone?"

Inquiring Minds Jump on the Internet

Between Professor Google and Ms. Wikipedia, as I fondly call these 2 websites I frequently visit, one can find out anything. Here's the scoop--pardon the pun--on the ice cream cone.

Image: "Soft Ice cream" by Acidburn24m. Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Definition of Ice Cream Cone

...dry, shaped pastry, usually made of a wafer similar in texture to a waffle, which enables ice cream to be held in the hand and eaten without a bowl or spoon.

Although some waver cones are conical shaped, the ones most of us grow up eating have a flat bottom and are actually called ice cream cups.

History of Edible Cones

The edible cone appeared in French cook books as early as 1825. Julien Archambault told how to roll a cone from a little waffle. In England, a printed reference to the edible cone was made in Mrs A. B. Marshall's Cookery Book, 1888, by Agnes B. Marshall. She called the edible cone a cornet: "cornets were made with almonds and baked in the oven, not pressed between irons."

In 1904 in the United States, Italo Marchioni from New York received a patent for a mold for making pastry cups to hold ice cream. He said he'd been selling ice cream in edible pastry holders since 1896.

Although Marchioni was credited with the invention of the cone, the rest of the story becomes convoluted. Marchioni ended up filing several lawsuits against cone manufacturers for patent infringement, but he lost because, as it turned out, his patent was not for a cone.

Ernest A. Hamwi introduced a similar creation at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Hamwi was selling a crisp, waffle-like pastry called zalabis in a booth next to an ice cream vendor.

Did They All Invent the Cone

Abe Doumar and the Doumar family also claimed credit or could claim it for inventing the edible cone. As the story goes, Abe Doumar, age 16, was selling paperweights and other things. One night, he bought a waffle from a vendor in Norfolk, Virginia, who originally was from Ghent in Belgium.

Doumar rolled up the waffle and placed a scoop of ice cream on top. He sold cones at the St. Louis Exposition also. His cones were a big hit so he designed a four-iron baking machine and commissioned a foundry to produce it for him.

Then at the Jamestown Exposition in 1907, he and his brothers sold almost 23,000 cones. After that, there was no stopping the edible cone.

Takeaway Truth

I think edible cones are best when filled with soft serve ice cream. Vanilla is best imho. Perfect on a 102 degree F. day.

New Release Day Celebration--Prizes

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Hurray! Today is release day for Heat Lightning, my romantic suspense novella.

Prizes

Leave a comment with your email and be entered to win an audio book and a free copy of Heat Lightning. Several being given away.

Heat Lightning is now live and available for only 99cents at:

All Romance Ebooks * Amazon Kindle * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Oyster * Page Foundry-Inktera * Scribd * Smashwords.

Takeaway Truth

The culmination of a lot of hard work is very satisfying. Happy reading!

10 Things I Love About Summer

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I'm late with today's post, but that's one of the things I love about summer: no set time to do most things. Alas, that's probably why I run behind most of the summer. I take my own sweet time to do just about everything!

This post was inspired by the watermelon I was eating today. You see, I absolutely love watermelon. My dad used to raise these monster watermelons that weighed more than I did! I was thinking about all the things you get to do in summer that just aren't doable in winter. So here's my list--in no particular order or preference.

10 Things I LOVE About Summer

1. Watermelon.

Has there ever been a sweeter, juicier fruit? I think not. Watermelon can't be frozen or canned. It can only be enjoyed fresh so I buy one just about every week during the summer. I purchase the weekly melon from trucks parked by the roadside or in the supermarket. They're all good.

2. Dark sweet cherries.

Oh! So delicious but expensive so I don't buy as many as I would if they were the price of, say, apples.

3. Riding in my car with the top down.

I've always loved convertibles. This is the second I've owned. We're talking about selling it but... I really don't want to. No matter how bad my mood, I can get in my car, put the top down, turn the music up loud, and drive away my bad mood.

4. Sleeping late.

I probably don't need to say any more about that one. We live in a sleep-deprived culture so sleeping late is pure joy.

5. Watching all the re-runs of TV shows.
I don't watch much TV in the evening so this is my chance to catch up on what everyone else watched.

6. Sitting on my park bench in my front yard in the late afternoon.
My bench is under this giant live oak. I pour a glass of ice tea (that's what we Southerners call the drink that the rest of the country calls ICED tea or a glass of wine and sit on the bench. This is my chance to visit with my neighbors. Our little gated community has only 100 houses so many people walk in the afternoon.

7. Reading.
I seem to get more reading done. Maybe it's because of all that housework and laundry I'm ignoring. Once upon a time I had a hammock. There was nothing more wonderful than lying in the hammock and reading the afternoon away. I no longer have 2 properly spaced trees so I sit on my bench instead.

8. The smell of hay being cut and baled.
I drove to our country house with the top down last week. They were cutting and baling hay in the fields I drove past. The sun turned the light brown of the hayfield to gold. The smell of the fresh-cut hay wafting on the breeze was incredible.

9. Listening to the laughter of little kids playing.
When I see kids at the park or the pool, it makes me remember when our kids were small. I can't help but smile at the memories and at all the kids loving the same things our kids loved: swings, slides, monkey bars, and  just playing with their little friends.

10. Crape myrtles and all the other blooming trees in the South.
I love anything that blooms, and in the summer there's a bounty of blooms from flowers, shrubs, and trees. Crepes of every color--white, every shade of pink, deep read, and lavender and purple--there's a color for every taste. Then there are magnolias, bottlebrush, vitex, althea, hibiscus, and oleander just to name a few.

Takeaway Truth

What are your favorite things about summer?

Happy Amazon Prime Day: List of Freebies & Bargains

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Welcome to Amazon Prime Day! Celebrate Amazon's 20th anniversary by grabbing some of the best deals since Black Friday! This post is full of links to these bargains so scroll through the whole post.

If you're not already a Prime, you can join now and take advantage of their special Prime Members ONLY deals today. That's right, if you're a Prime Member, you get special discounts.

Example, Prime Member Exclusive - Up to 40% Off Food & Beverages. I know some busy 2 career households who order all their non-perishables from Amazon. With free shipping, it's often same price or cheaper than at your local grocery store plus you save the time and energy going to the store after work or on weekends.

School will be starting in a month. Shop Amazon - Back to School. Teachers can get classroom supplies at a discount too: Shop Amazon Classroom and School Supplies

Need office supplies? Amazon has you covered: Shop Amazon Office Products Deals - Supplies & Electronics.

Just click here to become an Amazon Prime Member. You get 30 days free and can cancel any time with no obligation other than what you might buy! Happy Amazon Prime Day July 15 - Exclusive Deals for Prime Members - Start Free 30-Day Trial.

Let's get started! I'm listing some fabulous bargains you can get today, and I've broken them down into 5 Categories: Electronics * Home * Style * Fun * Books.

Just click the link and grab the bargain before they're sold out like those 32" flat screen TVs they were selling earlier for $75.00!!!

Electronics

Give the kids their own tablet at a fraction of the cost of an iPad. Amazon Prime Day - Fire HD 7 Kids Edition Tablet - Just $129, Regularly $189.

Get your own tablet--what a deal! You can read ebooks, play games, send email, browse the web, connect it to your TV to stream movies from Amazon Prime or Netflix, music from Amazon Prime or Pandora, and any other app you like and a lot of other things too. (I have this Kindle Fire and use it for all those things.) Amazon Prime Day - Fire HD 7 - Just $79, Regularly $139.

Want a dedicated ereader at a low price? Even though I have a Kindle Fire, I first had a Kindle ereader, and I still use it every day. Lightweight and holding a charge that lasts for days, I carry it in my purse all the time. It's great to carry a library of hundreds of books in a device that weighs a few ounces. Amazon Prime Day - Kindle - Just $49.

Or get the Kindle Paperwhite with the built in light so you can easily read in the dark. Shop Amazon - ALL-New Kindle Paperwhite - $119.00.

Got some old cell phones or other gadgets lying around since you upgraded? Trade them in. Shop Amazon - Find the Value of Your Gadgets.

Home

Got some home improvement projects to do? (My darling hubby finally tackled organizing the garage and a few other honey-do things. Shop Amazon Home Improvement - 20% Off Leviton Products .

There are even bargains today in furniture. Yep, you can buy furniture from Amazon! Shop Amazon - Best Sellers in Furniture.

Take advantage of the big sale on used-refurbished and open-box items. You can rest assured that all are checked by Amazon before shipping. Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals - Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Kitchen Gadgets.

Guys, they're also offering deep discounts for open-box and used tools: Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals - Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Tools & Home Improvement.

Let's not forget Fido or Fluffy. Discounts on pet supplies offered today also: Shop Amazon Pet Supplies - New in Subscribe & Save: Wellness Natural Pet Food.

Style

How about a nice watch for the man in your life? Hey, guys, drop a hint to your ladies and click here for great bargains: Shop Amazon Fashion - Men's Watches.

Want to see what Amazon has selected as their top deals? Here's the link: Shop Amazon Gold Box - New Deals. Everyday

Great bargains on athletic shoes: Shop Amazon Fashion - Men's Athletic Shoes.

Summer classic fashion for women--comfortable, stylish, cool clothes to keep you cool: Shop Amazon Fashion - Women's Clothing.

Fun

Got a vacation planned? Check out the luggage and travel gear deals. Shop Amazon Fashion - Up to 40% Off Tumi.

How about DVDs--movies and TV shows? Shop and save today: Shop Amazon DVDs - Save Up to 55% on Thousands of Movies & TV Shows.

Shop for kids' birthday and Christmas presents now and get discounts: Shop Amazon - Editor's Picks for Best Toys and Games in July.

Got a slew of video games? Trade them in for new ones! Shop Amazon - Find the Value of Your Video Games.

Hey, parents and grandparents. Do your kids and grandkids live so far away that you don't know what they have or don't have? Shop the Most Wished For list. Shop Amazon - Most Wished For Items.

Not sure what to give? Send a gift card. Amazon makes it super easy. You can send a gift card by email or snail mail. Shop Amazon Gift Cards. Any Occasion. No Expiration.

Books

Rather than list a few free books, I'm giving you a link to the Today's Top 100 Free Kindle Books.

I have 14 books available. Most are $3.99, but I offer these at only 99cents: LuvU4Ever (A Romance Short Story) (A Moment in Time Romance Book 1) and my next release, Heat Lightning: Romantic Suspense Novella (Outlaw Ridge, Texas Book 1). At $2.99, is April Fool Bride: (A Romance Novella) (All Brides Are Beautiful Book 1).

Takeaway Truth

If you don't have time to check out all the other deals offered throughout the day, then click this link to see what's being offered each hour. Shop Amazon - Hot New Releases - Updated Every Hour.

Readers Returning Books

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Don't you love readers who use Amazon like a library: buying a book, reading it then requesting a refund when they're finished with it?

(Note: Prize offered today. See below for details.)

Authors Know

You can always spot the people who do this. I notice this on my royalty reports when a return shows up on the first book in the alphabetical listing of my books. I don't attach any significance to that unless I see a return is posted on the second book in the list a couple of days later.

That's when I start checking. Sure enough, a couple of days later, a return shows up on the third book. I'm pretty sure a return will show up on the other books, a couple of days apart from each other.

Last week, I spotted the third return. So I started checking every morning. Yep. This lovely reader is working his/her way through my book list. I have 14 books available.

The Good News/The Bad News

How nice that he/she loves my books.

How tacky that he/she wants to read them for free. After all, this is how I support myself.

Who will be the next author deprived of the means to make a living as this reader finishes my 14 books and moves on?

Do You Buy DVD, Watch & Return for Refund?

I'm not opposed to someone requesting a refund for valid reasons--you read the book already, you hit the buy button by mistake, the book was totally not as described--but to read and ask for a refund after reading the book in its entirety is just not kosher.

Do you buy a DVD, watch it, and then take it to the store for a refund? Do you buy a newspaper or magazine, read it, and ask for a refund? Do you buy a cell phone app, use it for a while, and ask for your money back? I think not.

Discussion Question: Prize Offered

Readers, what do you think of this practice? I really want to know. When so many books cost about the price of a newspaper or less, what do you think?

Writers, what do you think of this practice? Have you been burned by this? (Feel free to post the title of your latest release along with a buy link.)

Leave your comments through Wednesday. I'll pick a winner using Random Name Picker in a couple of days to receive a free audio book.

Takeaway Truth

Between the pirates posting my books on servers all over the world and offering them free and the readers who love to read and ask for refunds, I'm often surprised I make any money at all.
 I fear the time when artists of every persuasion will simply give up producing books, music, photography, graphic art, etc. because they can't make a living doing it.