Friday Chuckle For You

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We made it to the end of the work week. Let's laugh and celebrate. My friend Frank emailed me a whole bunch of jokes. These were the ones that tickled my funny bone the most.

1. Ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There's no need to keep reminding him every 6 months. (That is SO my husband!! But don't tell him I said that.)

2. My mother-in-law is coming. I had to clear out half my closet so she could have a place to hang upside down and sleep. (Doesn't remind me of anyone personally, but I thought it was a hoot.)

3. NASA's robot Curiosity landed on Mars. Early pictures show no sign of ESPN, beer, or porn. This makes it very clear that men are definitely not from Mars. (I'm still laughing at that.)

4. I want one of those jobs where people ask: "Do you actually get paid for doing this?" (Yes, like the host of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, or a judge on Food Network's Chopped, or any of those jobs where you basically hang out and eat.)

5. When someone says to me: "You look familiar. Where have I seen you before?" I like to respond with: "Do you watch porn?" (I don't think I'd ever be brave enough or brazen enough to do that, but it sure is funny.)

6. I tried exercise but I was allergic to it. My skin flushed, and my heart raced. I got sweaty and short of breath. Very dangerous. (And that's why I don't exercise between Thanksgiving and New Year's. After all, no amount of exercise will kill all the calories in holiday meals and Christmas goodies.)

Takeaway Truth

Friday is here, and I've accomplished so little -- but I've been well-fed with Thanksgiving leftovers! Have a great weekend. See you tomorrow with a review of what I've been reading this week.

Adversity by Nancy Goldberg Levine

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This morning, I'm welcoming a new friend, Nancy Goldberg Levine. She and I became acquainted earlier this year, and I learned about her personal battle as well as her writing challenges. Her topic today is adversity, and, trust me, she knows too much about the subject.

Who Is Nancy Goldberg Levine?

Nancy writes sweet contemporary romantic comedy, and she has two ebooks available in her Practically Perfect Heroes series: Mr. Short, Dark...& Funny (Practically Perfect Heroes)and Mr. Tall, Tan...& Tasteless (Practically Perfect Heroes).

Presently, Nancy is hard at work on the first book of a new series: Sweeter Than W(h)ine. Nancy is also the author of more than 60 short stories and Tempting Jonah, her first full-length romance novel which was published by a small press but is now out of print.

As you can tell by the titles of her ebooks and her series, Nancy has a heck of a sense of humor. She invites you to visit her blog, Laugh With Me. Find her on Twitter @NancyGLevine.

Adversity
by Nancy Goldberg Levine

Lately, I’ve been reading (or listening to) books where the characters go through plenty of adversity and give their all to finally reach their goal of justice, finding the killer, etc. I’ve also had plenty of adversity myself and have been thinking about it since life intervened, and I got laid off from my day job.

Looking For The Silver Lining

Sometimes, I find that I have to make a negative into a positive. Okay. I’m laid off. I know I’m going back, I just don’t know when. That should give me more time to write.

Since last November, I’ve had to turn a lot of negatives into positives when real life began intervening in a big way. I was halfway through Sweeter Than W(h)ine -- which at the time had a different title, wasn’t a comedy, and the hero had a different profession -- when my computer crashed. I lost everything. I didn’t have a flash drive, or a hard copy. Luckily, my co-workers bought me a flash drive, and I now have hard copies too.

Later, that fateful month, I had knee surgery. The operation was a success. The next day I had a scheduled physical therapy, and I went to sleep. And stayed asleep for five days. I discovered later that the doctors didn’t know if I would wake up. Fortunately, I did finally wake up. I learned that I had pneumonia and had almost died.

Fast Forward

One year later, and I’m doing better. I finished Mr. Short, Dark...& Funny (Practically Perfect Heroes),which began life as 2 short stories that got rejected. (More adversity.) I turned the 2 stories into a book and re-titled it.

Mr. Tall, Tan...& Tasteless (Practically Perfect Heroes)had a similar story. It was originally a novella that had also been rejected. (There's that adversity again.)

After recovering from surgery, I went back to work in May. While I was off though, I had more time to write and explore Indie Publishing. I worked on my existing stories -- expanding and retitling them and in October, published both as ebooks.

But that old adversity just won't leave me alone as is evidenced by the recent layoff. Of course, that means I'll have more time to write. (Looking on that bright side has become a habit.)

What about you? Have you ever had your real life intervene on your writing life? What did you do to turn a negative into a positive? The first 3 people to Comment win copies of Mr. Short, Dark...& Funny (Practically Perfect Heroes).

Takeaway Truth

I hope you'll support Nancy -- and her delightful off-kilter sense of humor. Leave a comment; win a book. Or buy a copy of either of her books.

Attention: Movie Producers

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I feel I'm somewhat of an expert about Christmas movies -- that's a nice way of saying I'm addicted to the often schmaltzy movies that dominate the small screen at this time of year. My DVR is set for every Hallmark channel offering.

After viewing so many Christmas movies for several years, I want to say: "Please option my Christmas romance Nobody's Cinderella for a holiday movie."

I hate to brag, but I'm convinced my romantic comedy Nobody's Cinderella would be a perfect holiday movie because it's funny and sexy and involves a man who may, or may not, be Santa. Oh, and there's that whole wish on a Christmas star -- but be careful what you wish for -- theme.

So, anyone who knows a movie producer looking for a great book to adapt for next year's holiday season, take a look at Nobody's Cinderella by Joan Reeves.

Takeaway Truth

Have your people call my people, and we'll do lunch.

Holiday Gifts #1: 826 National

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Shoppers, start your engines! It's the season for shopping for that special gift for the holidays.

Each year, I offer hand-picked gift suggestions for the perfect gift for readers and writers. Today's gift suggestions were inspired by an email from Claire and the 826 Crew.

I feature 826 National every Christmas season. I applaud this worthwhile organization that was co-founded by Dave Eggers and NĂ­nive Calegari in 2002. 826 National is an organization of nine non-profit tutoring and writing centers that serves 30,000 students in eight cities across the country. Free one-on-one tutoring attention in our vibrant writing labs empowers students to be playful and imaginative, hone their writing and thinking skills, and flourish as published authors.

Donate And/Or Shop

For philanthropic creative types who want to support the development of young voices — and find some out-of-this-world gifts that give back this holiday season — check out the 826 online store! All proceeds help to fuel our endlessly fun and formative after-school tutoring programs, writing workshops, and field trips for under-resourced youth.

Claire said: "We sell a plethora of items that delight all writers young and old, students, teachers, and even coffee drinkers! Behind every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the 21st century lies one of our Emergency Novel-Finishing Kits, or at very least our “Are You Absolutely, Positively, Wholeheartedly Ready to Publish Your Novel?” Poster.

"For amazing parents and teachers we’ve crafted the Don’t Forget to Write Collection, featuring over 100 creative writing lessons for elementary and secondary students. For kiddos we have the world famous 826 Pocket Activity Book and Cartoon Activity Book, as well as our declarative Future Author Tees. And we have so much more, including signed benefit books from famous authors, 826 student publications, t-shirts, coffee mugs, snuggies, and tote bags.

Here's a link to take you to the Donation Page. Help 826 and make a Gift Donation in your name or a friend's name.

My Favorite 826 Gift
I have one of these postcards taped above my computer monitor. I give them to writing friends as a little gift. Maybe it's corny, but sometimes I look at it and feel a little boost. I don't know of any writer who thinks what they write is perfect and wonderful in every way.

Just about every writer I know starts a project with great enthusiasm, but eventually we find ourselves slogging through day after day. We're grinding it out to use Tiger Woods's apt description of hanging in there, hole after hole in a golf tournament, enduring with the hope that eventually a point is reached where success is possible.

Takeaway Truth

Make a donation or buy a gift from the Online Gift Shop. You benefit a worthwhile organization, and the lucky gift recipient. You also get an endorphin release from giving to others. Hey, that's a triple win!

Shopping

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Are you tired from all that post-Thanksgiving shopping? Do you need to recharge your batteries between now and the official Christmas shopping season that's marked by December 1?

I have two bits of wisdom for you, and both address the appeal shopping holds for women.

The late, great humorist Erma Bombeck said: "Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase."

Come on, girls. We all know that ecstasy, don't we?

The fabulous comedienne Rita Rudner said: "Buying something on sale is a very special feeling. In fact, the less I pay for something, the more it is worth to me. I have a dress that I paid so little for that I am afraid to wear it. I could spill something on it, and then how would I replace it for that amount of money?"

Yep, bargains. We're all bargain shoppers. Bet you have something you bought, even though you didn't need it, because the price was so rock-bottom low that you couldn't leave the store without it.

Takeaway Truth

Remember, you Word Slingers and Word Readers, as an anonymous wit pointed out: "Only one shopping day left until tomorrow."

Review: Women Heroes -- A Must Read

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Today I'm reviewing a book that left me choked with awe, sadness, admiration, and gratitude. I urge you to read Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood.

About The Book

The stories of these women who stood up for right against tyranny are organized by country. Young girls, teenagers, and women risked their lives to fight the Nazis in World War II. In everything they did, they knew that their lives were forfeit, but that didn't deter them.

This book is written in such simple language, explaining the historical aspects of World War II -- what country did what and why -- that it's completely accessible for younger readers. Simply and concisely, Kathryn J. Atwood, the author, lays the groundwork for the stories she tells. These are stories that aren't familiar to most, and they are each amazing from the woman radio operator who parachuted into occupied France and transferred crucial messages, the Dutch housewife who hid Jews in her home and was repeatedly interrogated by the Gestapo, a German teenage university student who helped publish an underground newspaper that decried the immoral, heinous acts against humanity.

Move Over Charlie's Angels

These women did it all: sabotage, weapons transport, and assassinations. They lived with danger every moment of their lives. These girls and women should be praised, memorialized, and honored. They should be held up as icons -- role models for girls today. They were bigger action heroes than the fake Charlie's Angels, Lara Croft, or any of the TV and movie female action heroes which are the female heroes most women look to for examples of bravery. The women in this book were real. They lived. They loved. They gave everything in the name of freedom.

Women Heroes is well-researched and includes photographs and a bibliography of relevant books, websites, and films. It is available in a Kindle Edition for $8.77 and a Hardcover Edition for only $13.57.

Takeaway Truth

Gratitude is a feeling or attitude of appreciation or gratefulness in acknowledgment of a benefit received. In this season of Thanksgiving, I am humbled by the sacrifice and bravery of these women, and I am grateful for the benefit received -- freedom.

Dana Taylor: The Power of Gratitude

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My guest this morning has a message particularly appropriate for this season of Thanksgiving. Dana Taylor is an author and Reiki Energy Practitioner.

In case you don't know, Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. Based on the idea that an unseen life force energy flows through us. This life force energy is what causes us to be alive. Low life force energy makes us susceptible to illness and the negative effects of stress. High life force energy enhances our ability to be healthy and happy. Reiki therapy is accomplished by the technique of laying on hands.

Dana's work with Reiki influences the stories she writes. Her book, Ain't Love Grand?, won the Golden Quill Best First Book Award in 2005. Her novel Jaguar Jack: A Romantic Adventure is a 2013 EPIC Awards Finalist.

You can find out more about Reiki on Dana's website Supernal Living with Dana Taylor. You can discover more about her writing and the authors who visit her blog at Book Luvin' Babes. Now, please welcome Dana Taylor.

The Power of Gratitude
by Dana Taylor


My experiences as a Reiki practitioner make me increasingly aware of positive and negative vibrational influences. Gratitude is more than an attitude; it is a healing energy. Dr. Masaru Emoto, author of The Hidden Messages in Water, illustrates the power of thought vividly in his landmark work photographing ice crystals. (Like the photograph shown here.) The Hidden Messages in Water shows before-and-after photographs of water exposed to positive or negative phrases. Ugly thoughts produce ugly crystals; uplifting thoughts produce beautiful crystals.

Gratitude changes ordinary water into multifaceted crystal jewels. If a single word pasted on the side of a bottle can cause such a transformation, think of what a focused meditation of gratitude can have on the molecules of our bodies.

In Reiki, we believe that our healing energy follows the intention of our thoughts. Having a "grateful heart" is the first step toward having a "healthy heart." The next time you’re feeling ill, try concentrating on a few things you can be thankful for. At the very least, gaze out a window and be grateful for wind, clouds, and sky. Calling in those higher energies will raise your frequency and your basic level of health.

A national holiday that calls for an attitude of Thanksgiving is healing to the country. There are always challenges ahead, but coming together in a grateful attitude even one day a year lifts our collective consciousness. Practice a Gratitude Attitude for a healthier, happier life.

To celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday my book, Supernal Stories, is free at Amazon November 22-24th. This collection of short stories, essays, and excerpts is largely inspired by my work with healing energy.

Takeaway Truth

Supernal means "from on high, heavenly, ethereal." Want to have a positive impact on your life force? This book just might help.

12 Thankful Authors

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T'is the season to give thanks. So, dear Readers and Writers, here's an even dozen of your favorite authors who want to tell you what they are thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day.

(If you want some holiday reading, these books are perfect.)

E. Ayers, author of A Love Song in Wyoming (Creeds Crossing), is grateful this Thanksgiving for all the wonderful friends she has who have stood by her in difficult times and shared her joys in the good times.

Juli D. Revezzo, author of The Artist's Inheritance (Antique Magic), is grateful this Thanksgiving for all my friends, family, and readers who've bolstered me up this year.

Stephanie Queen, author of The Throwbacks (The Scotland Yard Exchange Program), is grateful this Thanksgiving for living the life of a novelist after all these years of dreaming about it.

Donna Fasano, author of Her Fake Romance, is grateful this Thanksgiving for family, friends, and the awesome life she's been blessed with.

Nancy Goldberg Levine, author of Mr. Short, Dark...& Funny (Practically Perfect Heroes), is grateful this Thanksgiving to be alive and for my new kitten, Jay Galloway III.

Elaine Raco Chase, author of Double Occupancy, is grateful for the support of a wonderful family and extended family of friends, who are there no matter what.

Dana Taylor, author of Ain't Love Grand?, is grateful this Thanksgiving for the Healing Power of Gratitude and Humor.

Christie Craig, New York Times Bestselling novelist and author of Love, Laughter and a Little Murder: 3 Novels by Christie Craig, a book set of three humorous romances, is grateful this Thanksgiving for her family’s ability to laugh their way through life’s hurdles -- because if you can laugh at it, you can live with it.

J.D. Faver, author of BAD VIBES: The Edge of Texas ~Book 3 (Romantic Thriller), is grateful this Thanksgiving for the health and well-being of her children and grandchildren, especially that her son had no major damage to his home in Freeport, NY, during Hurricane Sandy.

Janelle Taylor, NY Times Bestselling novelist and author of Necessary Evil, is grateful this Thanksgiving for family, friends, health, god, our country and my career.

Cynthia Wicklund, author of the The Garden Series Box Set, is grateful this Thanksgiving for the Indie writers who have transformed the publishing landscape. What a thrill to be part of it!

I'll take the last slot here because I'm going to be long-winded. Joan Reeves -- that's me -- author of the Christmas Romance Nobody's Cinderella (Book 1 of San Antone Two-Step), is, of course, thankful for her writing career and for all who have helped her get to where she is today in the writing and publishing business.


Stepping Away From 3rd Person

I want to say how particularly thankful I am for a year without surgeries, for having the good fortune to be married to the most wonderful man in the world, and for being blessed with such a wonderful family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving.

Takeaway Truth

May today be just a fraction of the bountiful blessings headed your way.

Plan Black Friday In Advance

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The Christmas retail season begins earlier and earlier every year. By the beginning of October, I saw holiday decorations in several stores. That just seems to smack of economic desperation, doesn't it? Soon enough, all the retailers kick off their Christmas sales.

My Version of Black Friday

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and the next day officially begins the Christmas shopping season. I guess I'm different from most people because you couldn't pay me enough to hit a mall on Black Friday. It's not that I hate shopping. It's just that I prefer my own brand of Black Friday -- watching Christmas movies on TV, making my first batch of pralines and Texas Trash to send the kids, and curling up with a Christmas romance.

Lazy Friday

I'll probably let my fingers do some shopping online. I find I buy more online with every month that passes. Other than that, I'm going to settle in front of the TV with my Kindle beside me. Anyone who stops by for a break from the crazy shopping will be offered some homemade dark chocolate pecan bonbons like my mom used to make and a cup of espresso.

That's Black Friday at its finest. Excuse me while I go check out the Christmas movies scheduled for Friday.

Takeaway Truth

However you choose to spend Black Friday, have fun.


7 Tips For Writing Good Reader Reviews

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The formal book review with its formal parameters seems to have gone the way of daily milk delivery, newspaper subscriptions, and the dinosaur.

Now we have reader reviews. Many of them are thoughtful. Many of them are like snarky cocktail party chatter. Yet, many readers never post a review.

Why?

They don't know what to say. They're afraid they'll get attacked by readers with different views. They don't see why they should take time to do this.I'd like to give the average book loving reader some tips.

What To Say

1. Don't worry about summarizing the book. There's already a product description on the book's webpage.

2. In an online review to be posted on the book's webpage, you just need to say how you felt about the book and why.

If you liked the book, say so. Then say why.

For example, if you were posting a review of Gone With The Wind, you might say: I liked this novel because it's set on a plantation in Georgia as the North and South are on the brink of war, and I love books set during the Civil War. Or, you might say, The heroine of this book is Scarlett O'Hara, a spoiled, head-strong young woman, and I like the kind of conflict created by women like that. Or, you might say, I like to read anything that is historically based and well-researched.

If you don't like the book, say so. Then explain why.

Using the above example, you might say, I didn't care for this book because I just don't care for books set in the Civil War. Or, you might say, I didn't like this book because I thought the character was self-absorbed and arrogant. I prefer to read books where the heroine is a likable woman.

3. Never include “spoilers,” elements of the book that are to be surprises, in a review.

4. Give your opinion of the book as it is written, not how you think it should have been written.

5. Do NOT allow your personal prejudices or attitudes about the author, the premise, the theme of the book, the manner in which it was published, or anything else not related to the book to intrude in your review.

Please don't ever make personal remarks about the author, i.e. anyone would have to be a moron to write a book like this.

To paraphrase what Danielle Steele once said about reviews: "Writing a book, getting it published, and getting bad reviews is like making a beautiful cake and someone comes along and sits on it."

6. Summarize your thoughts about the book and feel free to make recommendations such as, if you like southern humor, you'll love this book.

7. Always be respectful of the author and his time and effort. This doesn't mean suppress your true opinion. It does mean to present your opinion in a respectful, professional manner as if you were talking in person to the author.

Take The High Road & Ignore Those Traveling The Low Road

If you post reviews and someone makes a comment on it, for instance, This person is an idiot if he thinks this is a good book. (Or a bad book.) Don't answer back. Ignore the comment. Ignore that person. A fight can't start without 2 combatants.

Why Post Reviews

Believe it or not, writers try to learn from their reviews. If a thoughtful review mentions something the author is doing particularly well, she'll do more of it. If it mentions something she failed at, she'll try to improve. Good reviews boost an author during the long process of writing another book. Bad reviews may bring her down, but if they contain some insight, then they too are valuable.

Be responsible. Be objective. Be polite.

I think a lot of the acid-tinged reviews I see wouldn't be posted if someone had to say all that to the author's face and/or would have to sign their real name to the review.

Takeaway Truth

Please keep in mind that no one ever sets out to write a bad book. If you see a book in print, then you can bet the author spent long hours working on that book. Authors know that not everyone will like their "baby," but they expect literary criticism to be handled in an objective, friendly way.

Remove Embarrassing Web Content

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Drunk posting. Twenty years ago, no one would have known what that meant. Now, we all know. Just as we know Drunk Dialing and all the other ill-considered actions of normally intelligent people.

If you've ever posted something to Twitter, Facebook, in a blog, or anywhere on the Internet that you wish you could take back, well, you can. Mostly.

Sure, there are companies that will help you remove compromising content on the Internet before it can come back to haunt you in your career or your personal life, but that can be costly. There are also things you can do yourself.

1. Twitter. Read this from the Twitter Help Center that gives some common sense advice about tweeting along with steps to take if you shared something you shouldn't have or if someone else did.

2. Facebook. Their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities says that any info you upload remains your property. Posting, liking, and the other interactions you may do just gives them a revocable license to display the data. Their license ends when you delete the data. The same pretty much holds true for blogging platforms. The Delete Key is your friend.

3. Google. Their page, Keeping Personal Information Out Of Google, again gives common sense advice and steps to take if you need something removed.

4. Yahoo and other search engines have similar forms to remove content. Just do a search for them.

Uh Oh

However, there's one thing you need to be aware of. There is a Wayback Machine that can be used by those in the know to research and find web pages, photos, etc. from years ago. Unlike Rocky and Bullwinkle's Wayback Machine, this one won't take you physically back in time, but it will bring forth embarrassing content you sought to remove.

The Wayback Machine, and it's really called that, is the Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library. Its lofty mission is "universal access to all knowledge" and that means archived editions of old web pages, music, images, and public domain books. In October of this year, they announced that they had 10 petabytes of cultural material. That's 10 with 15 zeroes behind it.

This is when you have to hope that you're lucky enough that the embarrassing picture you put on a Facebook page when you were drunk beyond belief or that blog your wrote about the guy who did you wrong didn't get archived.

Takeaway Truth

Best practice ever? Never post anything online that you wouldn't want to see plastered all over the front page of the New York Times so ask yourself, would you care if your mother, father, pastor, or employer read that Tweet, blog, or comment.

Blessings

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W. T. Purkiser said, "Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."

This week is Thanksgiving so be sure and say thanks to friends and family and all who have helped you. Say thanks to God for your blessings. Then take the ultimate step and use those blessings to benefit others.

Takeaway Truth

I'm thankful for the readers of SlingWords. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Review: Bad Girls In A Mad World by Emily Throne

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Today I'm reviewing an absolutely riveting nonfiction book: Bad Girls in a Mad World: True Stories of Lethal Ladies Behind Bars by Emily Throne. If you ever wondered what it was really like for women in jail, this book is for you.

On a side note, if I could say one thing to readers who review books and post those reviews online, it's this: don't post a bad review based on the book's length. Length has no relationship to the quality of the prose. Some of the most famous literary works are short in length. I could give you a long list of these books, novellas, and short stories, but I'm here to review a book, not quibble with posted reviews.

(As is my custom when I review ebooks, I give the Kindle Buy Links or the Audible Buy Links since I read most books on my Kindle or listen to them on my iPod or iPhone after purchasing from Audible. However, I'm certain every book I review is available at most ebook sellers and audio books from iTunes so look for them on the platforms that match your ebook reading or your buying preference. Click here to shop for your very own Kindle.)

Scary, Riveting, Fascinating

Emily Throne's account of her time in the Orange County Jail in southern California is the stuff of nightmares for most law-abiding people. It's probably something every parent reads and wants to force their children to read as a cautionary tale that shows what happens when you get mixed up with boyfriends/girlfriends involved with drugs.

The book affirms what we suspect, that jail is just a training school for criminals, a place where the law of the jungle rules with a revolving door sending criminals out into the world and then back again because nothing changes within the person who is the criminal. They're each imprisoned by familial circumstances and by the tragedies visited upon them from the time they were small children.

Surprises

There's more than a kernel of truth in the preceding sweeping statements, but this book also shows moments of compassion, a deep-seated desire for love and acceptance, desperation for peace, and, ultimately, resignation to a life that will never be any better than rare moments of what most of us consider normal.

This book shows our penal system -- our justice system -- with all its faults. I have no answers to the problems inherent in the system, nor, it appears, do those who know far more about it than I. I'm old enough and cynical enough to think there's actually no way to change anything. Then on days when I'm more optimistic, I think that maybe it could be changed -- if the powers that be were willing to completely change everything and money were no object.

I guess all that is a roundabout way of saying this book is thought-provoking in the extreme. Absolutely read this book.

Takeaway Truth

Bad Girls in a Mad World: True Stories of Lethal Ladies Behind Bars by Emily Throne is a fascinating presentation on the human condition from the best of humanity to the worst. I applaud the author for not only having survived her two years in jail but also for penning this gripping memoir.

The Mighty Kindle

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As of June, Kindle had 55% of the ebook market according to Publisher's Weekly. In case you're keeping score, that was a 10% increase. The article goes on to give the percentages of other ebook reader devices, including the iPad -- 15% which was a 2% increase.

There's no denying that the Kindle fulfills one of the 22 immutable laws of marketing: It pays to be first.

Although Kindle wasn't the first ebook reader ever made, it was the one that made it super easy to not only read but also purchase ebooks anytime and anywhere. That makes Amazon a giant among ebook sellers. So far, they're a big winner in the ebook race.

We're a 2 Kindle household, and I'd love to add a Paperwhite Kindle to my collection. I'd also like a Nook Color. Every time I see it advertized on TV, I have to restrain myself. Same for the Kobo Reader and an iPad. Yikes, I'm as bad about gadgets as my hubby is about cars.

The One That Brung You

Like a girl once said, I'm going home from the dance with the boy who brung me. Amazon needs to give some loyalty to those who helped them get to where they are. They need to show some love to indie authors because the ebook selling giant grew in large part because of the indie authors who self-published and made free and cheap books available to the masses. That ready supply of books fueled their growth.

Have they sent a thank you note? Not yet. In fact, they seem to go out of their way to squeeze the authors who helped put them on the map. They won't give the top royalty to authors who sell in India unless the author's book is in the Select program. For the last month, they've undertaken a program of removing reviews written by other authors and posted to an author's book. Here's yet another article on what's happening with Amazon reviews from the Los Angeles Times Book section.

Hey, We Read Too

Long before authors write books, they read books. We're all voracious readers. We have opinions and should have the right to express our opinions. I mean, this is a country of free speech. I've never posted a review that I didn't believe in, and that goes for books and anything else I buy online.

I read a lot, and I review a lot here on SlingWords. I post reviews only if I can in good conscience give a 4 or 5 star review. All the books I read that fall below that standard do not get reviewed because I'm not going to slam any author when I know that it may affect their ability to earn a living.

Maybe part of it is my mother's teaching. She always said, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all." So if you see all my reviews are 4 and 5 stars, that just means that you get to see only the books I liked, not every book I read.

Amazon sells more of my books than any ebook seller, and I love the ease with which I buy books for my Kindle, but I wish they'd give some thought to improving their business practices where authors are concerned. Reviews are just the tip of the unfairness iceberg. Don't even get me started on their refund policy that allows readers to get a book, keep it for 7 days in which time they probably read it, and then request a refund.

Takeaway Truth

Since it's the season to give thanks, I give thanks that the Kindle, Nook, Kobo Reader, et al were invented. Those wonderful devices made my indie career possible.

You Are Not Your Writing

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An important lesson a professional writer must learn is this powerful truth: You are not your writing.

You Vs. Your Writing

You must learn to separate your self-identity from your writing. You have to learn that because if you don't, you're going to be one miserable writer. People who don't understand this truth are those who get crushed by rejection and bad reviews.

I know some writers who reel from one nasty comment to another. If they read some good review, they're ecstatic. If they read a bad one, they're in the pits of despair.

If your writing gets rejected by an agent, an editor, or a reader, that does not mean that you have been rejected, but a lot of people think it does.

Separation

Learning that you are not your writing is necessary in order to survive this fierce business. If you cave at the first sign of rejection, i.e., not placing in a contest, not getting a positive response from an agent or editor, then you might need to rethink your aspirations.

Rejection – from publishing professionals and from readers – is a huge part of being a professional writer whether you're published by a traditional publishing company or you're indie published.There will be peaks and valleys. Success is a long road. Learn positive ways to deal with the valleys.

Takeaway Truth

The sooner you learn that you are not your writing, the happier and more productive you'll be.

The Next Big Thing

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My pal Donna Fasano cajoled me into taking part in the popular meme, The Next Big Thing. On her post of the same name, Donna had a lovely picture of herself wearing her tiara. Alas, I have no tiara, and, more's the pity, Donna didn't ship hers to me.

So I'm illustrating my post with the symbol of celebration. I always celebrate publishing a book -- the next big thing under discussion  -- with a bottle of bubbly. I'm getting ready to open one any day now.

Joan's Next Big Thing

What is the working title of your next book?

You won't believe this, but I have 2 novels I'm finishing, almost back to back. I won't even talk about the 3 nonfiction books I plan to publish before the end of the year.

The first novel is Scents and Sensuality, the last of my 4 Lingerie Cover books. The second is Cinderella Blue, the second in my duet series: San Antone Blue. For this meme, I'll focus on Scents and Sensuality or this post will get really long.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From my interest in the science of smell and the science of sex appeal. Fascinating subjects. Lots of scientific studies have been done -- much of it in Europe -- on these intertwined subjects.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary Romance. I write funny, sexy romance, and these books fit that description perfectly.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Amanda Whitfield and Harrison Kincaid are the two people in Scents and Sensuality who are made for each other. They just don't know it yet.

If I were casting a movie, I'd choose Chris Pine for Harrison because he has the ability to be sexy, devil-may-care, funny, and he's totally male. Kristen Bell would make the perfect Amanda because she is smart and pretty yet she has the ability to portray an underlying vulnerability and uncertainty about herself.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Perfumer Amanda Whitfield, desperate for a date to her snooty cousin's wedding, pretends to be a hot babe to hook a man, but computer geek Harrison Kincaid, desperate to teach his matchmaking mom to mind her own business, isn't what she had in mind.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

As with my other books, I'll be self-publishing this one too. However, like my other books, I'm open to sub-rights deals for Scents and Sensuality too.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This is a long story. Scents and Sensuality began life as a previously published novel from Kensington. Under the title Say Yes, the book was published many years ago. Since I own the rights to my backlist, I had planned to update and expand the book.

I can remember getting fan mail on Say Yes. Readers loved it. However, when I went in to read the book, I hated it. I couldn't believe it was so, well, immature, but it reflected the times in which it was published. I guess the truth is that I had changed as a person and a writer. I like to think that my writing improves with every year that passes.

I spent days searching for the original hard copy, the notes, the outline, or anything pertaining to the book. I didn't even have the computer file any longer since that was 2 PC's ago, and I think I had moved about 3 times since the book had been published. With every move, I threw away more stuff just so I wouldn't have to move it.

I had to start from scratch in a year in which I was putting on a wedding for my daughter, dealing with some family medical issues, overseeing two home remodels, and diving into audiobook production with my existing books.

Just as I'd get going, something to do with all all that other stuff would occur that would take me away from the writing. Then I'd have to try to get back "into" the book. With all those interruptions, I just couldn't find the essence of the the characters. I couldn't see why anyone would give a crap about them or their issues.

I wrote and wrote until the book was double in size, but I still didn't like it. I got it proofread, but I still didn't like it. So I wouldn't publish it. It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago of hanging in there that I had a breakthrough. Finally, I cared about Amanda and Harrison and his desperate, matchmaking mom.

Now, as soon as I get rid of all those extra pages, I'm ready to publish it. All this emphasizes the point that just because you're written and had published a dozen books or more, that doesn't mean it ever gets easy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think if you like books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, you might like mine -- I hope -- although I'm not even in the same galaxy as the talented SEP. Some of the authors I always see on my Amazon Book Pages listed under the "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought" listing are: Leslie Kelly, Marie Force, Bella Andre. Annette Blair, Julie Ortolon, Anna Mara, and Shelley Munro to name a few. So I guess if you like their books, you'll like mine too.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I was always interested in the brain link between smell and memory. Strictly because of interest, I read some scientific studies about smell, and that led me to an interest in perfumes. When I began updating the book about Perfumer Amanda Whitfield, I branched into the fascinating studies done in the last 10 years on the science of sex appeal.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Besides the characters and their story, I hope everything from the smell/sex appeal research to the computer angle. Some might be interested in the computer technology at the turn of the century -- that whole Y2K thing that had people predicting the end of civilization. When the book originally came out, right about that time, I had letters from readers who wanted to know whether I was a computer programmer in my real life. That tickled me.

That's it from me. Now, I'm passing the baton to my author friends:

Bella Street -- Bella Street Writes -- http://bellastreetwrites.blogspot.com/

Donna Maloy -- Tangled Words -- http://tangledwords.com/

Liz Flaherty -- Liz Flaherty, Romance Author -- http://www.lizflaherty.com/blog/

Marilyn Brant -- Brant Flakes -- http://marilynbrant.blogspot.com/

Suzan Harden -- Wild, Wicked & Wacky -- http://wildwickedwacky.blogspot.com

Takeaway Truth

On November 21, visit my friends at their blogs to read about their Next Big Thing.

Selling Nonfiction

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Last week I was part of a discussion about nonfiction indie books. The actual subject was which is easier to sell: nonfiction or fiction. Of course, the correct answer is: it depends.

Nonfiction Vs. Fiction

Nonfiction is niche oriented just as fiction is. Of course, in fiction, we call it genre, but it pretty much means the same. Readers interested in a particular subject area (niche) look for that in nonfiction. Readers interested in a particular kind of story (genre) look for that in fiction.

Normally, I talk about fiction since that's where most of my book-length work is focused. I do have 1 nonfiction available Written Wisdom: Quotation-Inspired Essays, A Best of SlingWords Collection, 2005-2010.

Before the end of the year, I be publishing 3 other nonfiction books: Be A Better Blogger, From Book To Audio Book, and Ebook Success: Joan Sells & Tells All, the book I've planned to publish since last year when my indie career took off like a rocket.

With all that coming up, I've been thinking quite a bit about how to successfully market nonfiction ebooks. Here are my thoughts.

Know The Niche

Because nonfiction is heavily niche-oriented, know the niches your book fits. Make a list of all the subject areas or niches that your nonfiction hits.

Example: a book about the Harvey Girls. The niches that would hit: women in the workplace in 19th century America, Fred Harvey Company, waitresses, railroads, depots, depot diners, roadhouses, contrast between now and then with regard to food service, Harvey Girls in fiction, the MGM movie Harvey Girls, books -- fiction and nonfiction -- about the Harvey Girls, women traveling west, and probably a whole bunch more niches.

Search Engine Research

Take your list and do research with your favorite search engine. Mine is Google. Set up a Bookmark Folder and name it something like "Harvey Girls Market Research" or whatever abbreviation makes sense to you.

Form a keyword phrase like "blogs about Harvey girls" or "blogs about railroads in 19th century America" or "websites about waitresses in the 19th century workplace" and plug the keyword phrase into the search engine.

Form another keyword phrase: American historical organizations or social organizations -- the old-fashioned kind with real people in them as well as online groups.

You're looking for groups whose subject area fits your book subject area for the purpose of interaction. You want to interact with these groups because you have a specific subject area in common. You can interact online or in person by being a club meeting or luncheon speaker.

Online Interaction

If you strike gold with the keyword phrase, visit the webpages the SERP brings up. Save each good results page in your folder. Targeting non-writing blogs with your marketing pays big benefits. If the page looks as if it fits your niche for your book, check to see if there is interaction on the page.

Target the websites and blogs that most interest you and that fit your niche. Read what's going on. When you have a credible comment to make, make it. Sure, mention your book, but don't be obnoxious about it. Be subtle. Hardly any blogger or website owner will scourge you or delete your comment if you've previously been polite and social, and if your comment is of value. The point to remember is that you should be sharing information not screaming buy my book.

Most nonfiction authors are enthusiastic about their subject matter so it's easy to share. In sharing, your enthusiasm comes through, and so does the fact that you know what you're writing about. That is what makes someone seek out the book you have in your signature line.

In Person Interaction

Many people are hesitant to speak in person, but I've always found that my enthusiasm for my subject makes me forget any reticence I may feel. Social groups and clubs are always looking for speakers. Make a list of the groups in your local area. Prepare a Speaker Sheet and mail it to the Program Chair.

A Speaker Sheet is like a mini press kit. I print mine on tri-fold brochure stock. It should have a photo of you, your book cover, very brief bio, contact information, and information on how to buy your books. If you are ebook only, then make sure you give the buy links for all sellers.

When you go to speak, hand out postcards with the book cover on one side, contact info and buy links on the other.

Takeaway Truth

Always remember, your goal as a nonfiction author is to be seen as an expert with something valuable to share. Share is the most important word in that sentence.

High Cost Of Dishonesty

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Hey, things are looking up! Copyright owners everywhere are probably rejoicing about this news.

An Illinois judge recently ruled that a file sharer had to pay $1.5 million to an adult entertainment company for illegally sharing adult movies. The file sharer had been charged with illegally sharing 10 -- that's right just 10 -- adult movies.

My God! Illegal file sharers have dozens of links to my ebooks in English and French and even to one of my audiobooks that they've made available.

Come on, Justice Department! How about giving us poor authors some respect and redress by going after those who offer illegal downloads of our ebooks! I could pay my mortgage every month if I had a sale instead of an illegal download being offered. Thankfully, since I retained MUSO to act on my behalf, I'm seeing less of these illegally shared files.

Hopeful Sign Of The Times

Still, I'm glad to see that some action is being taken against those who illegally profit this way. I'm seeing more and more of this.In fact, if you plug this search string into a browser: legal action against illegal file sharers, you can read about some of the action being taken by trade organizations.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade organization that represents recording industry distributors, has taken an active role in taking illegal downloaders to court, and they win hefty settlements. If only we could see this where books are concerned.

Why People Illegally Download Or Share Files

Why do people do this? Would they steal a Hostess Twinkie from a convenience store? Yet, the price of many ebooks that are illegally shared is less than a Twinkie. Would they steal a paperback book from WalMart?

Yet, many of these people who would loudly proclaim that, no, they wouldn't do that, are the very same people who illegally download books, music, movies, and whatever else they can get their mouse to click on.

My contacts at MUSO, a company that acts as your representative to send Takedown Notices to these, ahem, people, say that many people who illegally download "free" files usually get more than they bargain for -- viruses, trojans, malware, and nasty worms that can destroy their computers.

Good. Perhaps there is justice.

Takeaway Truth

Don't illegally download. Ebooks are dirt cheap. Music is cheap. So are movies. Sign up for a service like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. Watch as many movies as you want for a low price per month. Tend to your karma. Live on the side of the angels. Be honest. Enable artists, like me and my friends, to make a living.

Home Of The Brave

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My father landed in Normandy on D-Day. He served, and it marked him for life.

Friends and relatives served in Vietnam, the Middle East, and other troubled spots on this turbulent planet.

To all who have served and are serving, thank you.

To all who lost loved ones in service to our country, my heart goes out to you. I appreciate and honor their sacrifice.

Elmer Davis said: "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."

On this Veteran's Day, show your appreciation by giving to an organization that supports veterans such as Wounded Warriors, Fisher House Foundation, or Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

There are many worthwhile groups who would love to have your donation, but, please check the group out at Charity Watch to make sure the money goes to the veterans, not for office overhead, executive bonuses, or expense account lunches as is the SOP for too many organizations.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Review: My Favorite Planner

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Today, I'm reviewing something a bit different: my favorite day planner.

In this case, my favorite planner for organizing my writing and my personal lives is The AT-A-GLANCE Triple View Daily/Monthly Appointment Book. Here's the long official name of this item which I now buy from Amazon because it's cheaper than the office supply stores: AT-A-GLANCE Triple View Daily/Monthly Appointment Book, 6 x 9 Inches, Black, 2013 (70-206V-05).

Why I Like This Planner

I've used a lot of different planners and organizers, and I have all the stylish binders tucked away in my supply closet to prove the truth of that statement. However, once I found this triple view planner, and tried it, I was sold on its usefulness. I've never used another product since.

This planner has pages that measure 6 7/8-Inch x 8 3/4-Inch. That makes it big enough to lay flat on my desktop but small enough to tuck it in my purse, laptop case, or messenger bag.

This planner allows you to see a daily page plus your To Do list, your monthly agenda, and a Monthly Overview too.

The Format is January to December, and the tabbed design makes it easy to see every important task at a glance, just as the name implies.

On the left is your permanent monthly To Do list. Next to that is the cutaway left and right pages for today and tomorrow. On the right cutaway page, you see the current month list, with each day listed so you can jot important reminders for each day and see the entire month at a glance, and don't forget the monthly calendar overview.

Takeaway Truth

If your life is crazy busy, get organized. This planner will help.