What Should Website Contain

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

Minimum Pages Needed

1. Welcome page

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

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

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

Takeaway Truth

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

Thursday3Some: Love in the Morning Calm by Judythe Morgan

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

About Judythe Morgan

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

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

Find Judythe Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter *Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

Love in the Morning Calm by Judythe Morgan

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

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

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

When did you write Love in the Morning Calm?

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

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

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

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

Why do readers buy Love in the Morning Calm?

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

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

Add Love in the Morning Calm to Your Library

Kindle * iBooks * Kobo * Nook

Takeaway Truth

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

Success Requires Patience

Nothing great was ever created quickly.

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

Baby Steps At First

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

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

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

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

Takeaway Truth

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

Marketing Hooks

Give Me One Reason To Stay Here

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

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

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

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

Marketing Hooks

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

1. create excitement about your book

2. tell the reader what kind of book it is

3. make the reader want to read the book.

Are Great Reviews Marketing Hooks?

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

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

Here are a few:

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

Takeaway Truth

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

Step Back in Time to Monterrey Pop Festival

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

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

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

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

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

Takeaway Truth

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

Everything Old Is New Again

Yesterday I posted about contemporary cultural trends so today I thought I'd talk about things from the past that are hot again.


Summer is here so you can happily break out the Birkenstocks. These clunky slide sandals are hip again. For the last year, sales have been zooming on these cork-soled leather sandals. So if you have an old pair back in the closet, drag them out. If you buy them new, be prepared for sticker shock.

60's Style Is Hot

Designers like Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton featured styles reminiscent of the 1960's in last fall's runway show. Mass-market retailers like Target seized the concept and ran with it. Look for designs there and at other retail stores that look like something your grandmother wore in high school.

Flip-Up and Clip-On Sunglasses

This has got to be my favorite old/new trend because they're so practical. If you wear glasses, it just makes sense to clip a sunglass accessory over the lenses. As to the flip-ups, they remind me of old movies where geeky teens wore them. Since this is the age of the geek, I guess it's only natural that they're popular again.

Takeaway Truth

Yep, nothing ever goes out of fashion. It just gets recycled--as soon as some Hollywood star adopts it.

Know These Contemporary Trends

Contemporary fiction is usually a reflection of what's going on in the world. If you're writing fiction, here are some trends you should know.

Multi-generation Households

They're back. In a recent study of 2,000 adults conducted by MoneyRates.com, 85% of the respondents said the door is open for their adult kids who need to move home for financial reasons.

According to Pew Research Center, in 2012, 36% of all 18 to 31-year-olds were living back with their parents.

The multi-generation thing works both ways though. Some adults find their parents moving in with them. Approximately 79% of respondents in a survey said they are open to this.

Depending on which multi-generation situation occurs, the challenges may be different so be sure you get your specific situation correct.


We continue to use technology to reinforce relationships. Facebook was the most visited website in 2010. The importance of Facebook in connecting with others is shown by website traffic statistics. In 2000, there were zero FB subscribers, and in 2010, there were 116 million. That is a stunning stat.

Legislating Behavior

Many municipalities have ever-increasing efforts to legislate their citizens' behavior. A case in point is in Seattle where residents will be fined if they throw food and compostable paper in their garbage. The objective is to get everyone to recycle and compost their waste.

You may wonder how they catch those who don't obey the ordinances. They look in the garbage cans of course and slap red tags on those of violators. Yep. Shaming, punishing violators for unacceptable behavior seems to go with the legislating behavior trend.

Brain Training

Older Americans are increasingly training their brains by playing games like bridge which is soaring in popularity. Gone are the old people sitting in rocking chairs and staring at nothing. Today's seniors are socially engaged online and in real life.

U.S. Population Trends

The most recent statistics from the United States Census Bureau show these 10 states have the fastest growing populations: North Dakota, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, South Dakota, South Carolina.

Takeaway Truth

Do these trends give you any ideas about characters, setting, or premise?

Monday Has a Bad Rep

Mondays are awesome, dude!
Ever heard of Blue Tuesday? Of course not. Everyone knows that the blue day of the week is Monday. The British band New Order released Blue Monday in 1983.

Even before then, Monday was already the least favorite day of the week for most of the working world. I mean, have you ever heard anyone exclaim, "I love Mondays!"?

Actually, according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, Blue Monday was the name given to "a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) purported to be the most depressing day of the year." (Real scientists decry this pseudoscience and its so-called equation that deduced this.)

All I know is that I often dread Monday, and I have the ideal job. I work at home as an author. What's to dread? I think it comes from my years of working outside of the home in jobs that I mostly tolerated, not loved.

Week's Schedule

Maybe it's the events of the upcoming week I dread and not actually Monday which begins the week. I'll be shuffling my daughter to various medical appointments from now to Friday which means I'll be out of the office most of the week. Even though I'm taking my laptop with me, I don't seem to get much done.

I do plan to get my newsletters sent: WordPlay to readers and Writing Hacks to writers. I haven't been able to get an issue out in a few months, and I'm feeling really bad about that. Then I'll be creating a video book trailer for Heat Lightning, my part of the Summer Fire box set, since I plan to publish the novella apart from the box set later this month.

Speaking of Videos

As most of you know, I adore video production. A while back, I upgraded my Animoto account to pro status so I could have even more fun! The Pro plan breaks down to $19.99 a month when you pay on an annualized basis. (Paying month to month is $29.99.) Since Animoto is my preferred video production source, this was a no-brainer for me.

I've used a lot of video websites, but Animoto is my favorite because they're so user-friendly. If you want to give them a try, click here and you'll get 1 month free if you subscribe to any of their plans. (If you go Pro and don't like it, you can cancel at any time and get a refund.)

Takeaway Truth

So that's my plan for this Blue Monday. Work, but have fun doing it. Actually, that's a pretty good plan for every day of the week.

Giveaway: What do you think about Monday?

Leave your answer in a Comment. All those who comment on a June post are entered in a Random Drawing for a Swag Bag. If the name chosen resides in the lower 48, a gift bag will be sent. Outside that area, a Digital Swag Bag will be sent.

* Open to anyone who has NOT won a gift from me since 03/01/2015. (I will check.)
* Winner chosen by RandomNameSelector app.
* Comment must be real--not meaningless 1-6 words, i.e., "This is great. Thanks for posting."
* Winner will be notified by email on or before the 7th of the next month. First name of winner will be posted on the blog, newsletters, and social media.

My Writing Truths

I've been a "professional" writer for about 25 years. I've learned a lot during this time period.

For instance, I learned that the publishing business didn't work at all like I thought. I believed that you could write a book about anything that struck your fancy, and, if it was a good book, it would get published. Guess what I learned? The publishing business doesn't work that way.

20 Truths Learned

1. Writing successfully requires a consistent commitment. You must place the seat of your pants in the seat of the chair on a consistent basis and produce pages.

2. Writing is hard work physically so take care of your body. It's easier to prevent problems like back spasms, sciatic pain, and carpel tunnel rather than to cure them.

3. Writing is hard work emotionally so take time to play. Don't tell your child "later" every time she or he wants to toss a ball with you or take a swim. Don't tell your husband “no” when he wants you to go fishing with him or play golf. You'll regret it one day if you do. Pages can be written another day, but time with loved ones can't be reclaimed. Life is short. Children grow up while you aren't looking. Nurture those relationships.

4. Writing is hard work mentally so read for pleasure and read to learn more about the world.

5. Not every good book you write will sell.

6. After you sell successfully, you'll still get rejected by publishers. In indie publishing, you'll still have books that flounder.

7. You'll lose friends because some become jealous when you're successful. The day may come when you realize there is no excuse for their nasty comments to others about you. No excuse but jealousy. You'll grieve, but, if you're smart, you'll accept and move on.

8. You'll make new friends who accept you and cheer you on.

9. You won't get rich unless you are that one in a million, and no one can predict that so don't expect it.

10. It takes a bit of luck to sell and continue selling. Good luck seems to grow with a positive attitude.

11. Sometimes deals and plans fall apart for no apparent reason.

12. Sometimes what you think is a curse is a blessing and vice versa.

13. Always remember why you started writing in the first place - because you love putting words together.

14 Don't believe everything an editor, agent, or a glowing review says about you.

15. Don't place too much emphasis on reviews--good or bad.

16. Share what you know with others. If you help someone else along the way, you help yourself (and enrich your karma).

17. Don't speak ill of other authors or their books. No one ever sets out to write a crummy book. Even if you don't think a book is particularly good, always remember that the author sweated blood over it--just as you do over your work.

18. Always write. If you are waiting for a contract, start a new book. If you are certain that you'll never sell, write. If you are depressed, write. If you are ecstatic over a new contract or soaring sales of your indie book, write. Never stop writing because when you do, that writer's muscle stiffens and atrophies from lack of use.

19. Always strive to improve your craft.

20. Develop a great work discipline. If nothing else, you’ll create one heck of an inventory.

Takeaway Truth

What are your writing truths?

Keeper Shelf Review: 38 Most Common Writing Mistakes by Jack Bickham

I've been re-reading some of my favorite books--fiction and nonfiction. Many of you may not have heard of these books because they were published years ago so I'm posting short reviews to boost awareness of them.

Fabulous How-To Write Book

One favorite book on writing is a thin volume entitled The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham. My copy was signed by Mr. Bickham when I met him in the spring of 1992 at a writer's conference at the University of Houston.

Mr. Bickham wrote many novels, some of which were turned into movies. He also wrote several books on the craft of writing. I have all of his how-to write books and recommend them all.

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) is a good one with which to start. Albeit slim, the book is packed with solid information in an easily understood format. It's succinct, focused, and often humorous.

For beginning writers, the 38 points it makes are especially valuable. If you read no other writing book, read this one because it will get you on the right track. If you follow the 38 "rules," you'll write good fiction.

For experienced writers, this book will point out the mistakes too many writers make when they get lazy. There's nothing worse, or more fatal to a career, than becoming a lazy writer. I've read this book several times over the years because I never want to become a lazy writer.

Add This Book to Your Library

Amazon has this available in Kindle, Hardcover, and Paperback--in new and used.

Takeaway Truth

The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) will always have a place on my keeper shelf.

Bridge Between Talent and Success

Let's talk about a subject most people don't pay enough attention to because it sounds like, well, hard work. I'm talking about work discipline.

Want to be successful in your chosen career? Learn work discipline.

Many years ago I attended a workshop by Robert Vaughan who has had more than 500 books published under his own name and various pseudonyms--35 names that I know about.

He's been nominated for the Pulitzer, won the Porgie, the Spur, and was inducted into the Writers' Hall of Fame in 1998.

His novel Brandywine's War was named by the Canadian University Symposium of Literature as the best iconoclastic novel to come from the Vietnam War.

Vaughan has written novelizations for television movies and has hit the New York Times bestseller lists 7 times. In addition to creating this immense body of work, he's a frequent speaker at high schools, colleges, conferences, and writing workshops.

I give you his credentials in order to make the point that this man knows a lot more about writing and publishing - and staying published - than most of us will ever personally experience. How has he produced so many words? So many books and many different genres.

Vaughan's Magical Words

In the workshop I attended, he said if you look at writing talent that it's maybe 15% of writing success. And that might be stretching it.

He then said writing opportunity (going on the internet, finding editors who were acquiring, networking with other writers, etc.) is maybe 10%.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that those two elements make 25% of writing success. What's the other 75%?

Work Discipline

He said, and I agree, that Work Discipline makes up the bigger part of the equation called writing success. Vaughan said to embroider this on a sampler (I think most of us will just print out a sign) and hang it above your computer.

The bridge between talent and success is work discipline.

He advocated establishing a daily page quota whether it be 1 page or 10 or more. Every day, produce that page quota. That's work discipline. That's how he approaches every project. He knows how long it takes him to write a book, and he breaks that down into pages per day.

Meet your established quota. That's work discipline. That's the one thing that many writers lack.

Takeaway Truth

You can move a mountain one shovelful at a time just like you can write the biggest book one page at a time.

I Love Readers

To show the love in June, I'm giving away by Random Draw a Swag Bag to 1 lucky reader. If the name chosen is in the lower 48, a gift bag will be sent. Outside that area, a Digital Swag Bag will be sent.


* Open to anyone who has NOT won anything from me since 03/01/2015. (I will check.)
* Winner chosen by RandomNameSelector app.
* To be entered, leave a comment on any June post with your email.
* Comment must be real--not meaningless 1-6 words, i.e. "This is great. Thanks for posting."
* Winner will be notified by email on or before the 7th of the next month. First name of winner will be posted on the blog, newsletters, and social media.

Want Other Entries?

* Subscribe to either of my newsletters (WordPlay for Readers: http://eepurl.com/Yk61n and/or Writing Hacks for Writers: http://eepurl.com/fX7JT) and get an extra entry. On the signup form where it says, How did you find... put SlingWords.
* Follow me on Facebook and leave a message saying, I read SlingWords.

Thursday3Some: 3 Romance Box Sets To Grab

Do you like quest movies and books? The intrepid heroine embarks an adventure to find buried treasure. That's what a Box Set is to authors.

We band together, united by a common goal: put together an amazing collection of novels, novellas, or short stories. We seek the treasure of better name recognition, attracting new readers, and big sales.

3 Box Sets To Grab

First, there's Summer Fire, my own box set. Readers have loved it which is what put us on the bestseller lists for the NY Times and USA Today. This box set goes away after June 26. We'll all re-publish our individual novellas, but then you'll have to pay for each. Now, the collection is only 99cents for all.

The 10 Brides Authors are back with Ten Brides for Ten Hot Guys.

If you've read the previous 10 Brides collections, you know that you'll get 10 awesome romances from 10 New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors.

This box set focuses on super-hot guys determined to find their perfect brides.

The Authors of Ten Brides for Ten Hot Guys

Donna Fasano: Taking Love in Stride * Helen Scott Taylor: The Army Doctor's New Year's Baby * Mimi Barbour: I'm No Angel * Mona Risk: Her Greek Tycoon * Patrice Wilton: For the Love of Candy * Rebecca York: Nightfall * Dana Marton: Broslin Bride * Nina Bruhns: Midsummer Bride * Alicia Street: Stars, Love and Pirouettes * Annie Jones: Irish Eyes.

"Fall in love with doctors, lawyers, billionaires and men in uniform. From small-town to international intrigue, from Boston to Scotland to the Greek Isles, these emotional love stories will touch your heart...and make you reach for a fan to cool the sizzle!"

Love, Laughter, and Steamy Ever Afters is by another group of NY Times bestselling authors.

The Authors of Love, Laughter, and Steamy Ever Afters

Bella Andre - Can't Help Falling in Love (The Sullivans) * Carly Phillips - Dare to Desire (Dare to Love) * Crista Mchugh - Falling for the Wingman (The Kelly Brothers) * Erin Nicholas - Out of Bounds (Boys of Fall) * Jessie Evans - Diamonds and Dust (Lonesome Point Texas) * Lauren Blakely: Trophy Husband (Caught up in Love) * Melanie Shawn - Actually Love (Crossroads) * Melissa Foster: Seaside Dreams (Seaside Summers) * Sawyer Bennett - On the Rocks (The Last Call) * Violet Duke: Love, Tussles, and Takedowns (Cactus Creek).

"From the hot big city heroes that make us melt, to the sassy small town heroines that make us smile, this limited edition collection has something for everyone."

Add These to Your Library

The links given are for Amazon Kindle, but these collections are available at the other major ebook sellers too.

Summer Fire

Ten Brides for Ten Hot Guys

Love, Laughter, and Steamy Ever Afters

Takeaway Truth

Box sets offer something for everyone. Grab these today.

The Watchers, Book 2: Hidden Fire by Deirdra Eden

Please welcome Deirdra Eden, author of The Watchers, Book 2: Hidden Fire.

Finding your own unique strength and courage is a major theme of The Watchers. The characters in this series are as diverse as they come: different nationalities, male, female, dwarf, human, dragon, pixie, noble, peasant orphan, young, aged. Yet, no matter the situation, whether tragic or triumphant, they find ways to grow and develop into something stronger. 

Meet Aura

The main character, Auriella (Aura), is born and lives in a society and time when girls, especially of her social status, didn't have opportunities for education or growth, let alone a chance to be a hero. The Watchers must learn to work together, despite differences, to defeat Erebus and the Shadow Legion, just as we, no matter our gender, race, age, circumstances, etc., are capable of great things. 

Strong men and women grow in all situations and become heroes when one is needed. They don't think about it, they just do what's right. ~ Deirdra Eden, author of The Watchers Series

About Hidden Fire
Auriella’s new life as a royal protector is in shambles. The new king ignores her warnings of a Shadow Legion invasion and he is determined to marry her off. Ghosts from her past, the discovery of other Watchers, and a handsome Scottish warrior throw her off guard and weaken her emotional defenses. Caught in a web of secrecy and betrayal, Auriella struggles to control and protect the devastating power of Starfire. A terrible truth and a fateful choice will lead her to her destiny as the fabled Lady of Neviah, or could shroud the entire world in eternal darkness. 

Filled with action, romance, drama, and comedy, Hidden Fire is an addicting read that you won't want to put down. 

“Deirdra Eden has surpassed her earlier achievement in this daring tale of struggle between good and evil forces that exist in every universe.” Mark F. Cheney, author of MARK OF THE JAGUAR 

“Thought provoking and full of action, I didn’t want to put the book down! I really loved the symbolism and it was a fantastic read.” Mary G. – age 15

Takeaway Truth

Have you selected your book to read this week? Hidden Fire just might be a good choice.

Design Resources for Social Media

Created With Pablo
Want an easy way to make a graphic with image and text to use on social media? Here are 4 resources I've been using lately with examples of each shown at the left.


Pablo is brought to you by Buffer.com. No registration or login is required to use Pablo. They have a few images available, and you can upload your own. Fill in the text box. This image produces a landscape design about 1024p x 512p and has an image background and text quotation. . Contains only a few fonts, but they are pleasing. Not much is customizable, but it's easy to use and fast.

Created With Canva

Canva is popular with a lot of people. It contains templates for social media along with print card designs too as well as lots of graphics, fonts, etc. Registration is free.

Since there are so many options, it's just a bit harder to design than with Pablo.

Note: There are many backgrounds and art, but not all of it is free. If you use images that aren't free, the price starts at $1.00. When you create a design using an image that isn't free, you have 24 hours to remove the element. So choose wisely.

Created With ReciteThis
Recite This

Recite This is fast and free. No need to register or login. Just use the app on the website. Begin by typing in a quote. It will stick a background on the quote. If you don't like it, just select a new background.

Combine text with one of their background images to create a 600p x 600p teaser.

Not a lot of selection, but it's super easy if you can find a background that fits your needs. This could be really neat if they would allow you to upload your own images.

Created With SubtlePatterns
Subtle Patterns

This website offers free textural images for download. You can use them for website backgrounds, but they're also great to use for a promotional teaser background.

No registration required but you can register by email to get news when there are new patterns released. Download is a zip file which you can extract and save as a png.

This example on the left was quickly created with the pinpoint star background and a few star shapes and different fonts from my computer. It could be better, but it only took 5 minutes or less.

Takeaway Truth

There's a wealth of free resources at your fingertips if you but look for them.

Life After NY Times Bestsellerdom

Last week was thrilling because I learned that Summer Fire, which includes my novella Heat Lightning, had made the NY Times Bestseller List in 2 categories: Ebook Fiction and also Fiction, Ebook and Print Book, as well as the USA Today Bestseller List.

What Does Making THE List Mean?

Can I retire and count my gold coins? No.

Have I written the best book ever so now I should quit while I'm ahead? No.

For an author, hitting the NY Times and/or the USA Today bestseller lists is a high five, triple scoop of ice cream, bottle of champagne feeling. We spend most of our lives dreaming about hitting some big important bestseller list. The truth is that it's just a peak in a writing life that includes lots of valleys too.

So I, and my fellow authors, will glory in it, wallow in the satisfaction, and then we'll just write the next book.

Last week, I couldn't really process the achievement because I spent most of the week at the hospital and in various doctors' offices with my daughter who was facing surgery. I celebrated quietly, while she slept, by creating new banner images for my websites reflecting this achievement. Maybe this weekend I'll have some bubbly. And chocolate.

If you achieved some lofty goal, what would you do to celebrate?

Add Summer Fire to Your Library

The Summer Fire Ultimate Romance Collection will be withdrawn from sale at the end of June. Each of us authors will re-publish our respective novellas, and the price will jump on most of them.

While you still can, get the Summer Fire box set now for only 99cents.

Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook

Takeaway Truth

I'm overjoyed to start writing the next book because the opening chapter has been playing around inside my head for months now.

P. S. June Giveaway

I love Readers. To show the love in June, I'm giving away by Random Draw a Swag Bag to 1 lucky reader. If the name chosen is in the lower 48, a gift bag will be sent. Outside that area, a Digital Swag Bag will be sent.


* Open to anyone who has NOT won anything from me since 03/01/2015. (I will check.)
* Winner chosen by RandomNameSelector app.
* To be entered, leave a comment on any June post with your email.
* Comment must be real--not meaningless 1-6 words, i.e. "This is great. Thanks for posting."
* Winner will be notified by email on or before the 7th of the next month. First name of winner will be posted on the blog, newsletters, and social media.

Want Other Entries?

* Subscribe to either of my newsletters (WordPlay for Readers: http://eepurl.com/Yk61n and/or Writing Hacks for Writers: http://eepurl.com/fX7JT) and get an extra entry. On the signup form where it says, How did you find... put SlingWords.
* Follow me on Facebook and leave a message saying, I read SlingWords.

Preparation Is Everything

Preparation is everything. Whether you want to plant a vegetable garden or write a book, preparation is the foundation for success.

Arthur Ashe, as great a human being as he was a tennis champion, once said: "One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation."

How much confidence would a pro athlete have in his ability to win a game if he sat around drinking beer and watching TV instead of attending practice?

Athletes know the value of preparation. That's why they practice, lift weights, and run miles each day. Look at professional athletes and see how they prepare to compete.

Pseudo Math Formula

Let's break down what Arthur Ashe said. To be successful, you must have self-confidence. To be self-confident, you must prepare. If it were a mathematical formula, one might write:

Time + Preparation = Self-confidence

Time + Self-confidence = Success

Therefore, Self-Confidence = Success.

Therefore, preparation = success.

Your Goal Needs Preparation

Look at your goal. Now, ask yourself, what have I done to prepare? If you want to plant a garden, have you set aside space in your yard? Have you prepared the soil? Have you selected the right seeds for your growing zone? Bought the seeds, gardening equipment, and soil additives you might need? Have you planted the seeds?

If your goal is to write a book and publish it, have you prepared by learning your craft? Have you mastered grammar? The narrative elements necessary to tell a story? Have you learned how to write a synopsis? Have you studied the body of work from past and contemporary writers?

Have you practiced your craft on a consistent basis to develop a good work ethic? Have you completed at least one manuscript? Have you written enough to know how long it takes you to write a manuscript?

Have you studied the business end of your chosen career? Have you decided you'll go the traditional publishing route or indie publish it yourself?

If indie publishing, have you figured out what you'll do about formatting, proofreading, editing, cover art, and uploading to the digital platforms?

If traditional publishing, do you understand contracts so when you're offered one you'll have a working knowledge of what the clauses mean? Have you obtained agent representation? Have you joined professional organizations to educate yourself about your chosen career and also to take advantage of benefits they offer?

Educating yourself about what is required to successfully achieve your chosen goal is part of preparation. Identify the other steps needed to prepare for your goal achievement and work through each one.

Takeaway Truth

A foundation built on skills, learned and repetitively practiced, builds your self-confidence and increases your ability to achieve. Preparation indeed equals success. Prepare and in the end, you'll have the self-confidence to believe in the inevitability of success. Your success.

NY Times Bestseller Too!

On a break from care-giving. Daughter is doing okay after surgery.

Finally saw the NY Times listing with Summer Fire on the Ebook Fiction Bestsellers List and the combined Ebook and Print Bestsellers.

Takeaway Truth

Hitting both the NY Times and the USA Today list was the result of hard work and talented novellas from my fellow authors. What a great experience this box set was!

We Hit the USA Today Bestseller List

Let's hoist a glass of bubbly! My friends and I hit the USA Today Bestsellers List with our Ultimate Romance Collection, SUMMER FIRE: Love When It's Hot.

We debuted at #30 on the list, and I couldn't be happier. So nice to get some bright, shiny good news.

This makes the first time I "officially" hit this list. When I first started publishing ebooks in 2011, I had more than enough sales to qualify for USA Today and NY Times, but they weren't listing ebooks by indie authors then. Timing is everything, isn't it? But, better late than never!

The Authors of Summer Fire
  • Gennita Low
  • Kym Grosso
  • Linda Barlow
  • Mimi Barbour
  • Patrice Wilton
  • Mona Risk
  • Victoria Danann
  • Teresa Gabelman
  • Helen Scott Taylor
  • Nicole Blanchard
  • Lorhainne Eckhart
  • Brandy L. Rivers
  • R.J. Lewis
  • L. Wilder
  • Cat Miller
  • Clarissa Wild
  • Victoria James
  • Danielle Jamie
  • Terri Marie
Summer Fire--still only 99cents--is available at Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook.

Takeaway Truth

I'm proud to be one of the Summer Fire Authors. These women are talented writers and savvy business professionals--just the kind of authors who make this writing life so worthwhile.

Need Inspiration for Books or Blogs?

I have a basket of books in my guest rooms. About half of these are volumes of miscellaneous facts, or trivia although some in the basket are various dictionaries containing useful, albeit esoteric, information.

Great Inspiration

If you're ever at a loss about what to write, browse books like this. Today, I'd like to tell you about a recent book purchase, the one about useless information. With a title like The Book of Useless Information, I couldn't say no to this little book.

The Book of Useless Information by Noel Botham is a treasury of arcane facts that may just give you an exciting idea for a blog post or a book. At the very least, it will provide you with a wealth of cocktail party chatter.


About 7% of Americans eat at McDonald's.
The Egyptian hieroglyph for 100,000 is a tadpole.
Diet Coke was invented in 1983.
The first man to distil bourbon whiskey was a Baptist preacher in 1789.
In the 1940's the Bich pen was changed to BIC because they were afraid Americans would pronounce it "bitch."

Add to Your Library

If you'd like a copy of The Book of Useless Information, Amazon has it in Kindle, Paperback, and Library editions.

Takeaway Truth

Books like this are perfect in guest bedrooms. They provide a little entertaining reading for a visitor as opposed to a novel which a visitor probably hesitates to begin.

Book Review: Ashley's War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon has all the drama and rising tension of a thriller.

Even though this amazing story is told with the dispassionate voice of a narrator who never resorts to verbal histrionics to portray the drama, make no mistake: this book about the first "Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield" is compelling in every way.  

Book Details

Hardcover: 293 pages
Publisher: Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
First Edition 2015
ISBN: 978-06-233381-0
USA $26.99
Canada $33.50

Special Ops Needed Special Assistance

Everyone has heard of SEAL Team Six, Delta Force, Army Ranger Snipers, and the other elite special operations units serving our country. If you're into military memoirs, you probably know about JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) who coordinates special op forces, along with all the other acronyms regarding the world of the modern warrior. The modern male warrior.

Special ops and combat troops have always been the purview of men. Afghanistan changed that. Suddenly, our country was in a war where they couldn't stop, search, or speak to the women of  Afghanistan. Even when soldiers thought they were being sensitive to the Muslim religious tenets, they often unwittingly committed offenses.

To some stationed in Afghanistan, it became readily apparent that women could gain access to places and people forbidden to men. Thus the idea of Cultural Support Teams, staffed by women, was born. Women of the CST could build relationships and gain information from women in ways men simply could not.

Ashley's War is the story of the women of CST-2 who went through selection aka Hell Week in hopes of obtaining a place in the special ops community and be posted with a special ops team in Afghanistan.

Patriotism & Heroism: Not Gender Specific

Some may think that only men feel the fierce beat of patriotism in their hearts. Not true. Women feel this too. Perhaps it's because of the way some people are raised--with the idea that love of country is as important as love of family...love of God. Patriotism beats stronger in some hearts, and it has nothing to do with male or female.

The women who answered the call to try to win a slot in a Cultural Support Team were bound together by their love of excelling physically and mentally, by their desire to challenge themselves, and by their desire to serve to their full potential. They were willing to risk all for the chance to serve their country.

Highly Recommended

This book reveals what I've always known. Women can do anything if given the chance. These women never backed down, never threw in the towel, and never complained. They fought alongside combat troops when that was what was needed, and they gathered information and built relationships when that was what was needed.

If you'd like to know the truth about the war we've fought in the Middle East, read Ashley's War. It's not just a memoir about these brave women. This is a revelatory study of the often-conflicting role of women in war, special operations, the Middle East conflict, and the challenges our service men and women faced there. It's also insight into the reasons why so many chose to serve despite multiple deployments.

Add Ashley's War to Your Library

Ashley's War is available at most book sellers including Amazon. Buy from Amazon: Hardcover * Kindle.

Takeaway Truth

Remarkable and compelling, this is a story you will remember long after you've finished reading Ashley's War.