10 No-Brainer Email Rules

Time to brush up on some email standards.

10 No-Brainer Email Rules

1. Always check the TO: box on an email before you click SEND.

I can't tell you how many people have suffered embarrassment and worse from sending an email to the wrong person. What's worse? An author bitching about her editor or agent or another author and inadvertently sending that email to the subject of the bitching. Oh, yeah. It's happened. A lot.

2. Especially in a FORWARD, check the TO box of the email.

It's easy to make a mistake and hard for the recipient to forget.

3. Never put anything in an email that you wouldn't want published on the front page of the newspaper your parents' read.

Yeah, we all get upset and vent, but never leave a paper trail for that vent. Get on the phone and call your BFF if you need to vent.

4. Never defame a peer, a boss, or anyone who can negatively affect your career in an email.

You'd be surprised how many times something like that gets shared in forums and eventually followed to the person you defamed.

4. Never spread rumors or lies in an email.

That's cyber bullying, and it's reprehensible.

5. Create an accurate SUBJECT for your email so it will not end up in the spam folder.

Specific email subjects get read, not ignored or deleted.

6. Do not make the SUBJECT a post.

Have you ever got an email with sentences in the SUBJECT. It's really annoying, right?

7. Do not use a Signature that's too big.

I've seen emails where the Signature file is 50 words or more.

Come on! About 4 or 6 short lines is sufficient–a courteous closing if you wish, your name, and a couple of URL's or book title and URL.

8. Make your emails interesting so they get read.

Boring emails get skimmed, often with the recipient not grasping the content very well.

9. If the email is important, request a READ Receipt.

Please don't set up every single email requiring a READ Receipt. That's just annoying.

10. If you're emailing a response to a Yahoo Groups, always remember that many people who subscribe to these lists are on Digest.

Never hit REPLY and copy the entire Digest with your reply. Snip out the part you're replying to and paste it into your response.

Takeaway Truth

Staying on top of email is a skill. It's like processing snail mail. Try to "handle" it only once by answering it or sticking it in a folder if you need more info to answer. Then get it done within 48 hours if possible.

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7 Ways to Build Your Blog Audience

I was sprucing up my blog design recently because, well, it was time. You have to keep things fresh.

That's just a simple thing you can do to keep your audience growing. Here are some other easy ways to build your audience.

7 Ways to Build Your Blog Audience

1. Guest blog often. You'll be read by a different audience for the most part.

2. Join a group blog and reference your own blog.

3. Blog often on a consistent schedule.

4. Always interact with your blog visitors.

5. Install a translator plugin to make your blog more accessible to those who speak a language other than English. Most blog platforms offer a widget for this. If not, you can buy a plugin for very little.

6. Change your blog design if you've had the same design up for a few years. There are tons of free templates or themes available. Just do a Google search to find free ones. You can even buy a distinctive template for a low fee. If you use a pre-made, customize it so it doesn't look like everyone else's blog.

7. Try to engage your audience by asking questions, offering prizes for specific actions, and use a clear call to action.

By the way, how do you like the new design? Leave a comment with your email, and I'll send you a coupon for a free book.

Takeaway Truth

Blogging should be fun. If your audience isn't growing, maybe it's time to shake things up a bit.

Authors, subscribe to WritingHacks, my free email newsletter with tips to help you, and receive a special gift.

Readers, subscribe to WordPlay, my free email list, and receive a special gift.

Thursday3Some: Ruined by Alicia Dean

Hopefully, the weather has warmed up in your neck of the woods. If not, then grab a good book -- maybe the one my guest Alicia Dean will talk about -- and read until spring arrives!

About Alicia Dean

Alicia lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, and has 3 grown children and a huge network of supportive friends and family. She writes mostly contemporary suspense and paranormal, but has also written in other genres, including a few vintage historical novels.

Alicia is a freelance editor and also is an editor for The Wild Rose Press.

Other than reading and writing, her passions are Elvis Presley, Major League Baseball, the National Football League (she usually works in a mention of one or all three into her stories), and watching her favorite TV shows like Vampire Diaries, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Haven, New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Dexter (even though it has sadly ended, she will forever be a fan). Some of her favorite authors are Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Sharon Sala, Jordan Dane, Ridley Pearson, Joseph Finder, and Jonathan Kellerman…to name a few.

Find Alicia Dean Online

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads

About Ruined: Martini Club 4 – The 1920’s

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped. When Vince Taggart’s childhood friend disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza may be the key to finding his missing friend.

When did you write Ruined?

I’ve worked on it off and on for about a year, but completed it in late, 2014.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

The idea came from a weekly outing between myself and three of my author friends. We meet every Friday at The Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma. We came up with an idea to write a series of books centered around the lounge, and we decided to set the first ones in a 1920’s speakeasy.

Why do readers buy Ruined?

I think partly because the 1920’s era is popular right now, thanks in part to The Great Gatsby remake, but also because they are intrigued at the idea of my heroine being a ‘lady of the evening.’

Buy Martini Club 4 – The 1920’s by Alicia Dean

Amazon Kindle

Takeaway Truth

If you're always complaining about romance novels being "the same" then Ruined may be what you're looking for with its 1920's speakeasy setting and a heroine who is a "lady of the evening." If you like the novel, be sure and leave the author a short review.

Take 5 with Pam Thibodeaux

Award-winning author Pamela S. Thibodeaux dropped by SlingWords today to answer a few questions to help us get to know her better.

About Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Pam is one busy author. She's the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Find Pamela S. Thibodeaux Online

Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

About Circles of Fate

Set at the tail-end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson.

Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined.

Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Take 5 with Pamela S. Thibodeaux

1. What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to food and drink?

Bread is by far my favorite food…any and every type of bread…Cakes, cookies, pastries, dinner rolls, crackers…you get my drift. As for drink, I’m a water person with perhaps one glass of milk per day. Occasionally I’ll drink tea and have begun drinking Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey. Moscato or White Zifandel wine with a shot of Peach Schnapps, Smirnoff Triple Black wine coolers, Strawberry Daiquiri, Margarita no salt and throw in a mixed drink of Wild Turkey and Coke and you have my adult beverage list from which I choose when out dancing.

2. What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to books?

Nora Roberts romances & women’s fiction novels and spiritual non-fiction by authors such as Cheryl Richardson, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson top my list of books to buy and always have on hand.

3. What's the best review you ever received?

The best review I’ve ever received is not really a review, but a compliment. There are readers who like my books and those who love them. Then there are those who don’t, but for me, the best compliment comes from two sectors…those who never read and those who read all the time and read authors across genres. Having someone from either category tell me they couldn’t put my book down, is the greatest blessing and encouragement I can receive.

4. Do you listen to music during any of the phases of writing a book? If you do, what kind of music.

No, I don’t because I either get so caught up in the music that I can’t write a single word or so engrossed in the story that the music distracts me to the point of frustration. That said, I don’t mind a little background noise on occasion (TV or radio on in a different room). But for the most part, I write in a silent environment so I can hear what my characters and my muse have to say.

5. What would you change about your career path if you could wave a magic wand?

My first book (Tempered Hearts) was E-published in 2000, and the second (Tempered Dreams) in 2001. During that time I worked with the Books A Million stores within driving distance from my home to set up signings and distribution. In 2002, I pulled these two books and signed a contract with an “up and coming” publishing company that never got off the ground. That decision cost me four years out of my career and put books 3 and 4 of my Tempered series (as well as everything else I’d written to date) on hold. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d change that decision and hopefully use the time I lost to hone my craft and write more books.

Add Circles of Fate by Pamela S. Thibodeaux to Your Book Collection

Amazon Kindle * Print Edition from Amazon * Nook * Print Edition from B&N * Smashwords Ebook

Takeaway Truth

Thanks, Pam! Readers, Pam Thibodeaux brings emotion and faith to her novels, but in a way that makes them different from the usual inspirational romances. If you haven't read her before, try her latest today.

6 Places to Donate Your Print Book & Gain New Fans

Gain new fans by giving away print copies of your book.

A lot of authors give away ebooks, but not very many give print books. If you have print books, consider giving away copies to grow your fan base. Plus, it's just a nice thing to do.

Prep Your Books

In each book, place a label on the inside somewhere--like the title page or some place equally obvious. Also, place a bookmark within each book.

The label and the bookmark should contain your author name, your tagline, your website, email, and snail mail information. Don't crowd the information. Make sure there's enough white space.

Also, use some kind of tracking code so if someone contacts you by email or mail, you'll know it was a result of your donated book. This could be something as simple as asking them to include a phrase like "Paige Turner Donates Books" in their mail or email.

6 Places To Donate

1. Senior Centers. Retired people are usually readers and they read a lot.

2. Retirement or assisted living homes. Same reason. Make a fan here, and they'll tell all their friends.

3. Bed and Breakfast Inns in your area. Most B&B's keep books for their guests. Why not make yours available?

4. Got any motels near you? Know anyone who works for motel/hotel industry? Donate books. Put together a basket of books they can keep in the lobby.

5. Doctor’s offices have people waiting all the time. Donate a few copies to spread around the waiting room.

6. Rehab/physical training facilities also have a lot of people waiting throughout the day. Give them something new to read.

Takeaway Truth

Most authors are so wired in to the ebook world that they forget the majority of people still read print books. Take advantage of that fact by donating print books. It's a lovely thing to do especially at the places listed above. Let me know if you gain new readers.

Authors, subscribe to WritingHacks, my free email newsletter with tips to help you, and receive a special gift.

Readers, subscribe to WordPlay, my free email list, and receive a special gift.

6 Steps to Get Back on Track

How to get back on track?

That's a question I'm asking myself this morning. I've been away from the office so much since 2015 began (family medical emergencies, sickness, exhaustion from dealing with the aforementioned) that I'm out of touch with what I wanted to achieve this year--out of touch with my work ethic.

Completed manuscripts lie unpublished. Planned projects remain on the drawing board. Now tax returns loom on the horizon. My energy lags, and I'm overwhelmed.

Sitting here with my cup of coffee, staring at the piles of research materials on my desk, and thinking, I've come up with these steps to get back on track.

6 Steps to Get Back on Track
  1. Make a list of everything you wanted to accomplish this year.
  2. Looking at your list, take each item and see what has been done and itemize what remains to be done.
  3. Now look at each items again and think about each--about why you were interested in it in the first place. As you think about it, does your enthusiasm rekindle? Are you getting excited about it again? If you are, put the item on a new list: Revised Goals 2015.
  4. Take your new list--Revised Goals 2015--and look at it again. Re-order the list by priority. You can prioritize by deadline, ease of completion, readiness to proceed, or whatever gets you moving in the right direction.
  5. Rewrite your list again in order of priority. This step is really just to cement it in your consciousness.
  6. Take the first step with your first goal so you get moving in the direction of accomplishment.
Takeaway Truth

Give these steps a try. Let me know if they help.

Authors, subscribe to WritingHacks, my free email newsletter with tips to help you, and receive a special gift.

Readers, subscribe to WordPlay, my free email list, and receive a special gift.

Old Man Winter

"In the winter she curls up around a good book and dreams away the cold." ~Ben Aaronovitch, Broken Homes

Yes, it's true that snowbound weather is great for reading. I know I've certainly been reading a lot this winter. However, I think people would also like to get outdoors again and maybe walk around. Unfortunately, for much of the country, getting outdoors has meant shoveling snow, clearing sidewalks, and digging cars out of snowbanks.

Judging by what I see on TV weather reports, I think most residents of the United States have had their lifetime quota of snow, ice, and cold weather.

Takeaway Truth

Hey, Old Man Winter, you came, you saw, you conquered. Now, please, just go away.

Review: Miss Representation

Let's start with a simple question. Do you believe sexism exists in America?

Some women don't. More men don't. I've heard a lot of men snort with laughter and roll their eyes when women talk about sexism and bias against women.

I wish all these people would watch the 2011 award-winning documentary Miss Representation, written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

What It's About

"Miss Representation explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women."

The message is told via film clips and interviews with women who use their celebrity to raise awareness of this issue. Women like Katie Couric, Condoleeza Rice, Gloria Steinem and others discuss sexism in American society.

Quick Example

Need an example of disparaging portrayals of women? You probably know Amal Ramzi Alamuddin, a noted human rights lawyer. Or, perhaps you know her better as Mrs. George Clooney.

In January, Amal Alamuddin appeared before the European Court of Human Rights in a case against a Turkish politician who denied the 1915 Armenian genocide. As she prepared to enter the courtroom, a man thrust a microphone in her face and asked, "Who are you wearing?"

Now, this patently ridiculous question was made even more ridiculous by the seriousness of the case at hand and by the fact that she wore traditional European judicial garments--the long black robe and white lace stock.

At no point did this interviewer, who somehow strayed from a red carpet somewhere, ask any of the men appearing before the court who they were wearing.

Incidents like this trivialize a woman's contribution. The underlying message is: "A woman's importance is based on how she looks, how she dresses, etc."

Riveting Documentary

The film gives stunning statistics about the minefield females--pre-adolescent to adulthood--must navigate. First sexual experience for a high percentage of girls is now under age 14. Eating disorders start by age 10 and skyrockets by age 18. The number of girls who injure themselves through cutting and other behaviors is growing.

The media and its messages? Women matter only in looks. Women can't get along with each other. Women are only important for sex. Women are dumb. Women are only interested in expensive toys. Women put out to get what they want.

What's The Message?

Some of the film clips are striking because the message, when everything else is stripped away, is so blatant. Example, no female politician in a media message is ever given the same treatment as a man. On news talk shows, the white male talking heads, often belittle women for their clothing, hairstyle, or their attractiveness. You don't see these same men talking about a comparable male politician's facial wrinkles or fashion sense.

The examples given by the documentary are specific and frequent because there's so much material available to be used.

Women: More Than The Sum of Their Anatomical Parts

Women deserve better. Girls deserve better examples. Yet, what's all the talk been about on the morning shows recently, on the news, on the so-called entertainment magazines? 50 Shades of Gray. Is that the message we want to be sending to women and impressionable teens--boys and girls? That a naive, sexually-impressionable girl who can be manipulated emotionally to agree to anything in the name of love is the way to be a woman?

Don't bother telling me the movie is for adults, that children won't be seeing it. If you think that, please tell me what universe you inhabit? In this one, technologically savvy kids can find a way to view anything they want.

When 50 Shades was making such an initial splash, I saw a YouTube book review of it. Written by a 15-year-old girl who pronounced it, "The most romantic book she'd ever read."


I'm worried about the message teen girls internalize from the book/movie, but I'm also worried about the message boys take away from the movie. Too many girls are passive and eager to please. They're not strong enough to say no to peer pressure. What happens to them if they find themselves with a boy who thinks 50 Shades is the way it's meant to be?

But this isn't meant as a review of that book and/or movie. This is about a documentary you must see and to watch with your children and with the men in your life. The message needs to change, and, like a lot of things in life, it's up to women who care to change it.

Call to Action

A call-to-action campaign grew out of the film, including a Twitter campaign to call out offensive media, interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives to challenge what's happening and change it.

This is the Facebook page of the Representation Project, a "movement using film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change." Visit the Facebook page and "take the pledge."

Miss Representation Credits

Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Julie Costanzo. Written by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Jessica Congdon, Claire Dietrich, Jenny Raskin

Music by Eric Holland. Cinematography by Svetlana Cvetko, John Behrens, Ben Wolf, Norman Bonney, Nathan Levine-Heaney, Brad Seals, Boryana Alexandrova, Nicole Hirsch-Whitaker

Edited by Jessica Congdon Production Company.

What Message Are Your Kids Internalizing?

Engage your kids in a discussion. Ask the difficult questions and find out what they think about the women and men they see on movies, TV shows, and commercials. Are they getting the message that women are multi-faceted individuals who can do anything they want in life? The message they internalize affects the way they dress, talk, act, and treat others.

Takeaway Truth

Please watch Miss Representation. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

JoAnne Myers Discusses Lycanthropy

Lycanthrope. Werewolf aficionados know that a lycanthrope is a werewolf. Right?

JoAnne Myers, author of Flagitious, a 4 story anthology, discusses lycanthropy, featured in one of her stories, "The Tarot Card Murders," in the anthology.

About JoAnne Myers

JoAnne, a long-time resident of southeastern Ohio, has written 7 novels plus she paints on canvas. Her original canvas paintings, can be found at Books and Paintings by JoAnne.

She is a member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, Savvy Authors, Coffee Time Romance, Paranormal Romance Guild, True Romance Studios, National Writers Association, the Hocking Hill's Arts and Craftsmen Association, The Hocking County Historical Society and Museum, and the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. JoAnne believes in family values and in following one's dreams. When not busy with hobbies or working outside the home, she spends time with relatives and volunteers within her community.

Find JoAnne Online

Website * Amazon Author Page * Facebook Author Page  * Facebook Profile Page * Blog

JoAnne's Give Away

Thank you Joan, for having me back. I will be awarding books to 2 lucky people. Each winner may choose from these books for their prize: Murder Most Foul, Wicked Intentions, Twisted Love, The Crime of the Century, Flagitious, Loves, Myths, and Monsters, or Poems About Life, Love, and Everything in Between. To be eligible to win, just make a comment and leave your email address.

Lycanthropy: Myth and Reality
by JoAnne Myers

The study of Lycanthropy, (Greek derivation: Lycan meaning wolf and thrope meaning man) is a rare condition in which a person has an uncontrollable desire to eat human flesh, or drink human blood. It is vastly scrutinized by psychiatrists.

That was not the case for my hero Detective Nick Difozzio, in “The Tarot Card Murders,” one tale in my crime/mystery anthology, “Flagitious”. When young and virginal homicide victims turn up with human bite marks and drained of blood, this ex-Navy man knew he had a gang of Lycanthropes in his town.

The perception of a link between mental illness and animalistic behavior has been traced throughout the history of folklore from many different countries.

Centuries ago, afflicted persons exhibiting bizarre symptoms were diagnosed as having melancholy. Now, some doctors refer to Clinical lycanthropy as a psychotic episode caused by another condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or clinical depression.

In “The Tarot Card Murders,” Nick is on his own to prove this murderous gang exists. When the Chief of Police, orders him off the case, Nick is left with only his courage, wits, determination and a Voodoo Priestess, to solve these bizarre murders, and save his citizens.

Documented cases of lycanthropy include the afflicted suffering from the same 4 symptoms:
  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • disorganized speech such as barking or howling
  • abnormal behavior such as walking on all fours, scratching furniture, etc.
In “The Tarot Card Murders”, the gang members are connected by their birth dates of August 24, the birthstone peridot, and the Horoscope sign Virgo. Members are kept in line with monetary rewards, intimidation, and threats of death, from the gangs Alfa male and female. The more Nick uncovers, the more personal and dangerous this case becomes.

If you enjoy reading about lust, lies and deceit, you will love “The Tarot Card Murders." Here's an excerpt to give you a taste of the story.

Excerpt, The Tarot Card Murders

The Scene: Detective Nick Difozzio has been called to another bizarre murder scene, located in the abandoned industrial section of town.

An abrupt silence filled the room. “Shape-shifters? You mean like a Yeti turns into a deer to avoid those who track it. Or the Loch Ness monster turns into a log?”

After Ted and the others poked fun at his fantastic idea, Nick laid it out, “Not exactly. But certain creatures are believed to have shape-shifting powers of one sort or another, and what other possibility is there to explain these bizarre murders?”

“Well, we could have a psychopath lurkin’ around. Or a nutty drifter or escaped convict,” Ted said. “But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that, if shape-shifters do exit, they would be very elusive creatures, nearly impossible to detect and capture. What does take a lot of imagination, is believing in shape-shifters.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. I’ll see ya tomorrow,” Nick said. Once outside, he noticed the full moon, and wondered, who will die tonight? On reaching his vehicle, he discovered a surprise in his passenger seat.

“Denise, what’s going on?” he asked.

“Well, sugar, I was thinkin’ about the last time you were at my house. You remember, when you cabbaged my safe contents so foolishly?”

With a chuckle, he nodded. “Honey, the only foolish thing I did that night was fail to realize the money in the safe was counterfeit. But I bet it’s all gone now.”

“And I bet you’re right,” she smiled. Just then, Denise’ partner in crime, twenty-two-year-old Wendy Goss zapped the lawman with a stun gun from behind, dropping him like a hot potato.

Jumping from the vehicle, Denise removed Nick’s gun and cell phone, placing them under the seat. Afterward, both women placed him in the backseat. Getting behind the steering wheel of Nick’s car, Denise drove his Mustang, while Wendy followed in her Firebird.

Halfway to the destination spot, Nick regained consciousness. With his gun gone, he played dead, hoping to find the gang’s hangout. Soon both vehicles stopped. Denise exited the Ford then helped Wendy search the Firebird’s trunk for the items needed for Nick’s demise.

“Someone better keep an eye on the cop,” Wendy said.

“Don’t worry, that pig’s out cold,” Denise said, finding rope.


As soon as the murderous beauties were finished gathering their supplies, Denise slammed the trunk shut. Immediately Nick punched her between her baby blues, knocking her to the ground before turning on Wendy. Nick swapped blows with the tall slender gal and encountered a high degree of skill. Recovered, Denise attacked him from behind with a blow to his ribs, bringing him to his knees.

Does Nick make it? Read Flagitious to find out, available on Amazon Kindle and in print from Lulu.

Takeaway Truth

Do you believe in werewolves or is it just fun reading about them? Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address to be eligible to win the books JoAnne is giving to 2 lucky winners.

12 Steps in Any Quest for Success

Achieving success isn't the result of a random throw of the dice. The way to success is a road paved with mental, emotional, and physical effort.

There are things you can do, steps you can take, to help you in your quest. This post isn't about what you want to achieve. This is about how to achieve. These 12 steps apply whether you want a successful career as a writer, a CPA, or just about anything.

Think about these steps. Think about them so deeply that they seep into your consciousness. Assimilate.

1. Dream.

You have to dream. If you're afraid of dreaming about what you want because you're afraid you won't get it, then you're already lost. Dream about what you want to gain. Make it a dream so rich in sensory detail that it's very nearly a virtual reality experience.

2. Set goals.

You must lay it on the line. Write down what you want to achieve. Then write down what you're going to have to pay to achieve it. We all pay, one way or the other. Maybe the price is working toward the goal when the rest of the family is watching Burn Notice. Maybe the price is getting up an hour early or staying up when everyone else has gone to bed. Then ask yourself: "Are you really willing to pay the price?"

3. Develop work discipline.

Everything worthwhile can only be achieved through focused, consistent work. Establish how often you will work. Make a schedule and keep to it as if you were being paid a salary.

4. Image and behave as if you have already achieved that goal.

Keep regular hours devoted to your goal. Develop professionalism in whatever endeavor to which you aspire. Let others see you are dedicated to the goal. Believe it.

5. Learn your craft.

Whatever it may be, know everything about it. Strive always to improve.

6. Practice your craft.

Practice makes perfect. Start a project and complete it. Then do it again.

7. Expose yourself to the best in your field.

Every field has bright shining stars. Expose yourself to the best examples of your chosen career. Meet those who are successful in that career. Ask for insight and guidance. Learn from them. Find someone who is doing what you want and model your behavior and habits after them.

8. Market your work.

You eventually have to put your work and yourself in the marketplace. No one will ever discover you and what you can do unless you let them see you and your work.

9. Organize your work, your office, your time.

Dedicate a space to your work. Set it up. Keep it workable, not a cluttered mess. Enjoy going to that space because it means it's time for you to work on your goal.

10. Manage your time.

If you dedicate an hour to working on your goal, don't spend that hour emailing, talking on the phone, or playing Free Cell. Use the time to achieve your goal - no matter how small or how large the block of time. Know how long it takes you to accomplish a certain task. Record your time on a calendar or journal.

11. Network.

Join in forums and subscribe to lists where others seeking the same goal congregate. Meet them. Share the joys and sorrows. Learn from them. Give so they can learn from you.

12. Celebrate.

Always celebrate your triumphs no matter how small. Don't wait for those big scores to pop the bubbly. Big scores don't come along too often. Celebrating the small victories helps you mark progress and keeps you from burning out.

Takeaway Truth

Specifically, what do you want? Figure that out and go for it!

Review: Bosch, an Amazon Original Series

Want a 1 word reason for subscribing to Amazon Prime?


When we got home from a trip, we were so exhausted that all we wanted to do was watch something that would take us away from our worries and concern for a relative who had another cancer surgery last week.

We cruised through the new releases on Amazon Prime and Netflix. The Amazon Original Series Bosch caught our attention. We skipped watching the trailers and went straight to the first episode, or Chapter 1, as it was labeled.

We couldn't stop watching. The series, based on Michael Connelly's Bosch novels, is compelling, gripping, and so well-acted that it's like looking through a peep hole into the squad room of the Hollywood Division, Homicide, of the LAPD.

I suspect that real cops will find this TV series true to life in its depiction of the mundane and the horrific, the rare feeling of satisfaction and the frequent feeling of frustration, and the stomach-turning deal making and necessary battle-picking needed to survive the politics and power jockeying.

The Harry Bosch Books

Michael Connelly has written one of the most popular mystery series out there. So far, there are 19 books in the series. If you'd like a list of them in order, visit Mystery Sequels Blog. Book 1 is The Black Echo, originally published in 1992. It's available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audio book.I think the series Bosch was derived from books 1 and 4.


Titus Welliver, known for Argo, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Gone Baby Gone, and too many TV shows to list, gives a subtle performance that is letter-perfect in every way. He never makes a misstep as the experienced homicide detective who makes the hard choices even though he knows the consequences may be personally devastating. Bosch sees the worst in people, but he doesn't let that deter him from being his best self. His bone-deep sense of integrity informs his every action.

His performance is subtle and layered. He can convey mood better than just about any actor with a look from his intense blue eyes. He's quiet, not bouncing off the walls and screaming like too many television cops.

Mr. Welliver leads a cast composed of veteran actors including Jamie Hector as Jerry Edgar, his partner; Amy Aquino as Lt. Grace Billets, his immediate boss; Lance Reddick as Irvin Irving, the Deputy Police Commander; Annie Weschling as Julia Brasher, a rookie cop with whom he has an affair; Sarah Clarke as his ex-wife, a former FBI profiler; and Jason Gedrick as Raynard Waits, a psycho terrorizing the city.


I was disappointed that some critics said it was too similar to other cop shows. While a story line may be similar--and, indeed, there are so many cop shows made--what separates Bosch from the rest of the pack is the actors' performances. Everything about the series is so well-constructed that each element complements the others. Even the bluesy strains of the song, Can't Let Go by Caught a Ghost, is a part of the exquisite tapestry that is Bosch.

Takeaway Truth

Watch it when you have a few hours time because, like the song says, once you start, you "can't let go."

3 Things You Must Know About Cancer

Please share this post with everyone! You might save a life.

As I write this, I'm waiting to hear the news about my brother-in-law's latest cancer surgery. It's going to be a long day. The surgery is taking 8 hours. That's 8 hours of agony for the family waiting in the surgical waiting room and in many homes across the state.

3 Lessons to Learn

I want to tell you his story because there are 3 important lessons to learn from this nightmare that he has lived since January 2014. My  brother-in-law has fought bravely in a battle that began 2 days after he retired when he went to see the doctor for a problem that had plagued him all year. That day changed his life because he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Esophageal Cancer.

He was a big strong man who loved live. After a year of fighting, he's lost a hundred pounds and is weak, but his spirit remains strong.

The Cancer Treatment Journey

First, he had radiation and months of chemo. Then came the surgery. They literally removed his esophagus and part of his stomach. Then they "pulled" his stomach up to create a new esophagus. He spent a long time in ICU afterwards. Nothing by mouth since the day before the surgery until weeks after it when they did a swallow test. It should be called a "leak" test because that's what they were looking for: to see if everything patched together held up. He passed.

To his dismay, his oncologist told him he'd have to have another 6 months of chemo. By the time he went back for his final oncology appointment, he was weak but excited that the ordeal would be over.

Except it wasn't. The CT scan showed something on his 11th vertebra. The MRI the next day revealed a new cancer. A tumor had grown inside the 11th vertebra and destroyed it. He'd been complaining to his wife about his sides hurting. The doctor told him he had been living with the equivalent of a broken back.

The biopsy was this past Saturday. After getting the results, the doctor and his team created a surgery plan. That's happening right now. The tumor will be removed along with anything left of the vertebra which the doctor described as "jelly" now. Then comes the ICU. Then, if he makes it through all that, more chemo. He can have no more radiation. He's reached the lifetime limit for it.

All of this brings me to the point of today's post. I want to tell you 3 things you must know about cancer because these 3 things may help save your life.

1. Listen to your body.

When something is wrong with your body, it gives you hints. Sometimes they're subtle. Sometimes they scream. If something is "off" or feels out of the ordinary, and this something continues more than a couple of weeks, pay attention. Your body is trying to send you a message.

My brother-in-law had developed difficulty in swallowing. He waited several months before mentioning it to his doctor. Then his doctor gave him the easy answer rather than sending him to a gastroenterologist.

Most recently, the left and right sides of his back around his waist started aching. He didn't say anything to his oncologist because he thought it was just that he was so tired and had been in bed for so long. Also, he had fallen several times because he was weak. That ache started 3 months ago.

2. If you think something is wrong, talk to a doctor who specializes in that party of the body.

My brother-in-law talked to his family doctor about it. The general practitioner said, "Oh, that's nothing. We can fix that with diet and acid-reflux medication."

There's a reason "second opinion" is such a cliche. It's necessary.

When we think something is wrong, we just want someone to assure us that it's not. That's the easy answer we all want. BUT, with cancer, you want the hard answer--the one that comes from a specialist who deals with problems associated with your particular issue, not a general practitioner who probably isn't familiar with subtle warning signs various cancers create.

3. When you or a loved one knows you'll be facing surgery/chemo/radiation, assemble your own team that will help you survive. Just as the surgeon assembles his team, you do the same--finding people who can come and keep the patient company during the week--especially at meal times. This is especially true if the patient is a man because men don't reach out for support the way women do.

When the patient is finally home after surgery, he or she needs someone there on a regular basis who will push the patient to eat even if they say they're not hungry or everything tastes bad. The team member must speak hope and optimism and healing and give the patient a vision of the future that will surely be achieved.

A team member should also listen carefully to the survivor. If he's complaining about something several times, then there's something there that must be addressed. Unfortunately, when you're around someone who is going through an ordeal involving pain and serious medical treatment, it gets too easy to turn a deaf ear to what seems to be chronic aches and pains. You need to really listen and sort through what's being said. 

Chemo, radiation, and surgery are the most debilitating events anyone will ever go through. They affect you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Some people think it takes a village to raise a child, but I know it takes a village to survive cancer treatment.

Takeaway Truth

Take care of your health. Donate to cancer research. Charity Watch rates charities to see where the money actually goes. Click Cancer to find the best organizations that use your money for research, not expense accounts, salaries, etc.

Pray for my brother-in-law please.

Take 5 With Award-winning Author Nancy Morse

I'm happy to have award-winning author Nancy Morse as my guest today.

Grab your coffee and let's Take 5 with Nancy.

About Nancy Morse

Nancy writes contemporary and historical romance, with a little paranormal thrown in too. Although her historical romance novels are set in a variety of eras and places, her favorite subject is 19th century Native American.

Nancy lives in South Florida with her husband and their Alaskan Malamute, Indio, aka Big Fur.

Find Nancy Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Tsu * LinkedIn

About Where The Wild Wind Blows

Their love gained strength from the land… Born and raised in Sioux country, Katie McCabe, daughter of an Indian trader, finds herself alone when her family is killed in a battle between the Army and the Indians. Rescued by Black Moon, a fierce Oglala warrior, and taken to live in his village, the love that ignites between these two wild hearts is tested by treachery, abduction, and the tensions that erupt between the Sioux and the Army during the tumultuous 1850s. From the war-torn Great Plains to the opulence of St. Louis, a headstrong white girl and a proud Lakota warrior fight for their love and the country of their birth where the wild wind blows.

Take 5 With Nancy Morse

1. What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food or drink?

My favorite is dark chocolate. I’ll buy a big chunk and keep it in the freezer and hack off pieces as needed. Once, when I was having plot problems with a current book, the solution came to me while I was eating a piece of chocolate. The fact that dark chocolate may improve blood flow to the brain might have had something to do with it. While it doesn’t solve every plotting problem, I find it impossible to feel bad about it when a chunk of dark chocolate is melting slowly in my mouth. My second guilty-pleasure food is ice cream. There’s a little store in my neighborhood that has odd and wonderful flavors. My favorite is chocolate ice cream with swirls of raspberry and, you guessed it, chunks of dark chocolate.

2. What’s the best review you ever received?

One of the best reviews I ever received was for Where the Wild Wind Blows.

One of the finest books I have had the pleasure to read. Tears of heartache and tears of pure joy, very well written. I felt I was in the story with them. I have never read a book that literally made my muscles tense during the rough scenes to where I had to focus on relaxing them, was amazing, no book has ever affected me this way. I loved it.

What I love about this review is that it wasn’t just a rehash of the story, but it was about the reader’s emotions as she read the story. The muscles tensing part really got me. It tells me I did the job I set out to do when writing this story. I made somebody feel something, and for me, that’s what it’s all about.

3. What’s your biggest goal this year?

For the same reason I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I don’t set long-term goals for myself. I figure life is already filled with disappointment, so why set myself up for more by failing to meet a resolution or goal? I do, however, set short-term goals. For this year I plan to release two historical romance novels. One will be part of a set I’m doing with the Love Historicals authors due out late this year. The other will be the next book in my Native American series. I’m not a fast writer, so I have my work cut out for me. After that, who knows?

4. How do you celebrate an achievement in your career?

I’ve been in this crazy business for more than 30 years. I’ve had ups and downs and everything in between. To me, everything is an achievement, whether it’s a big deal like a signed contract or just typing The End on a manuscript. And dare I say it, even the rejections I received along the way were achievements because, without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I don’t do any real celebrating. I’m not much of a drinker, but a glass of Merlot helps wash down that extra helping of dark chocolate.

5. Any final thing you’d like to say to SlingWords readers?

I’m assuming you’re all here because you love to read. I’ll read just about anything, and that includes cereal boxes. All you ever have to know how to do in life is read and then you can be anyone or go anywhere or learn how to do anything. Reading led me to writing. I hope your love of reading leads you to exciting places, introduces you to ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds, encourages you to be all that you can be, and takes you on many wild and wonderful adventures.

Buy Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse

Amazon Kindle * Smashwords * iBooks * B&N Nook or Paperback * KoboBooks

Takeaway Truth

Native American Romance remains a popular romance subgenre. Have you ever read one? If not, try Where the Wild Wind Blows by Nancy Morse.


I've received several emails about my next book so thought I'd answer them here. For the last several weeks, I've been out of the office more than in due to a family medical emergency. If you've been waiting for the publication of Cinderella Blue, as I have been, the book is finished, but I haven't had enough time in the office to set it up for publishing. When I've been home, I've been exhausted and spent most of my time here trying to catch up on the absolutely-must-do items like paying bills, etc. If you subscribe to my email list, you'll be among the first to know that the book is "live" and available for purchase. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Thursday3Some: Claiming Annie's Heart by Judythe Morgan

I'm happy to have my friend Judythe Morgan, an award-winning author who writes sweet contemporary romance, visiting this morning.

About Judythe Morgan

Judythe sets her novels in other countries as well as in states where her nomadic life planted her.

She currently lives in southwest Colorado with the Rio Grande National Forest as her backyard.

When she’s not writing, you’ll find Judythe browsing antiques shops, reading on the front porch, or walking with her real life hero and their two four-legged babies, an Old English sheepdog named Tobias and a Maltese named Buster.

Find Judythe Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Amazon Author Page * Goodreads

About Claiming Annie’s Heart

Annie Foster remains in Ireland after boarding school to nanny a widower’s infant daughter. Five years later, she accepts the widower’s marriage proposal.

Her first love Chad Jones, whom she believed deserted her, arrives on an undercover assignment weeks before the wedding to investigate her fiancé’s connection with terrorists. Chad’s determined to change her mind and her heart because he’s never stopped loving her.

Annie’s heart is torn between the man she'll always love and her fiancé's young daughter whom she’s promised never to abandon. Which man will claim Annie’s heart?

When did you write Claiming Annie’s Heart?

I started Annie’s story in 2007 and entered the manuscript in several RWA chapter contests where it won multiple awards and requests from editors. Unfortunately, those editors wanted to change Annie’s story and I couldn’t do that. Instead, I elected to indie publish. In 2014, Claiming Annie’s Heart was released in paperback and all ereader formats.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

The idea for this story came from my Irish roots and many trips to Ireland. On one of those trips, I visited an Irish girls’ boarding school where I experienced one of those rare writer moments--a character sprang fully formed into my head, commanding me to tell her story. That character was Annie Foster, the heroine of Claiming Annie’s Heart.

Why do readers buy Claiming Annie’s Heart?

Readers say the Irish setting and the unique reunion love story fascinate them. One reader reported: “The story kept me guessing about Annie's choice until the very satisfying end. Claiming Annie's Heart will claim your heart.”

Buy Claiming Annie’s Heart by Judythe Morgan

Amazon Kindle U.S. * Amazon UK *Kobo * iTunes * Barnes&Noble Paperback or Nook

Takeaway Truth

If you love an emotion-packed story that's a wonderful marriage of romance and women's fiction, then read a book by Judythe Morgan.

2 Book Versions: Genius Idea by Ruth Kaufman

Grab your coffee and get ready to meet Ruth Kaufman, a Chicago on-camera and voiceover talent. Ruth is also a freelance writer, editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV.

About Ruth Kaufman

Ruth is a former Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and runner up in RT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest. Her true, short story, "The Scrinch" is in the St. Martin's Press anthology The Spirit of Christmas, foreword by Debbie Macomber.

She has appeared in indie features, short films, web series and national and local TV commercials, and has voiced hundreds of "explainer" videos, e-learning courses, commercials and assorted characters. Oh, and on the personal side, she loves peanut butter and chocolate milkshakes, singing in a symphony chorus and going to the theatre.

Find Ruth Kaufman Online: Performer Website * Amazon Author Page * Blog * Twitter * Facebook, Ruth Talks

At His Command by Ruth Kaufman

Could she defy her king for love?

England 1453: The king sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.

At court, the king and queen choose a new husband for her. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?

Readers, there's a reason you see 2 book covers for the same book. Sit up and take notice because this may just be a genius idea. Take it away, Ruth!

One Book; Two Versions
by Ruth Kaufman

Many readers want to see some, or many, love scenes in the books they read. But a lot of readers don’t, preferring the bedroom door to remain closed. Some readers like books that include a faith element, while others don’t want to read about the characters’ relationships with God. So when I decided to self-publish my 2011 Golden Heart® winning medieval inspirational, At His Command, I didn’t want to limit readership to those preferring mild/sweet romances with some faith. As it is, I might already be culling my audience somewhat with my setting in 1453 England as opposed to some time and place more popular for historicals.

That’s when it hit me. I’d release two versions of the same story at the same time to interest as many readers as possible: the GH winning version, and one without faith but with love scenes. I’m fairly sure I’m the first author to do this with inspirational and non-inspirational romance. Maybe if there was a market for that, someone would’ve done it already. But every author I mentioned the idea to thought it was a great one, including more than a few bestsellers. I might’ve gone ahead even if feedback advised against it, but having successful authors’ approval boosted my confidence.

Producing two books at the same time involved a lot more work and expense, because everything had to be done twice. I needed two covers and formatting for two digital and print books. The GH winner had gone through two rounds of revisions with Love Inspired Historical, so I didn’t think I needed a developmental editor. The copy editor I hired was kind enough to give me a price break on the second book, since the vast majority is the same.

What would I call each of them? Should the one with love scenes have a different title, or would that confuse readers? I reached out to an “advisory board” of authors I knew who had successfully self-published. One advised combining the two versions into one volume, but I worried that inspirational readers might not want to bring any R rated content into their homes or onto their computers, even if I merely provided links to access one version or the other.

How would I distinguish two books called At His Command? First, by making the version descriptor part of the actual book title so that whenever a potential reader clicked on the cover, s/he would see either At His Command-Inspirational At His Command-Historical Romance Version. Coming up with the second version descriptors was a challenge. Nothing else I or my advisory board came up with sounded quite right. I didn’t want to say with love scenes, regular or traditional romance, open bedroom door, etc.

Second, I chose to put the hero on the HRV and the heroine on the IV. (I still don’t get why hero is pronounced here-oh and heroine isn’t here-oh-in but hair-oh-in, which is a drug. But I digress.) Her book is green, his dark orangey red. Interestingly, the flower on his version happens to be the device of the queen at the time (Margaret or Marguerite of Anjou): the marguerite (daisy), which actually figures into the story. I’d like to be able to say I thought of that, but it was a coincidence my cover designer chose them. I also asked her to use different pictures of the same castle, the actual Castle Rising, where the heroine lives and the hero begins to think of as his home.

Third, I classified each book under different Amazon categories. For example, Christian Fiction is one option for the inspirational version but not the historical romance version.

What’s next? Should I continue with two versions of each book I release, assuming I can create enough story lines and characters that would work in either sub-genre, or move forward with the sub-genre that has the most and best reviews or sales? At the moment, the HRV is outselling the IV almost 3 to 1, so I’m glad I decided to do two. A few people have told me that they want to buy both to see what’s different. I’ll be interested to hear their thoughts, and those of readers of either version.
What do you think of having two versions of the same book?

Buy At His Command, Historical Romance Version, Kindle Edition

Buy At His Command, Inspirational Version, Kindle Edition

Takeaway Truth

With indie publishing, I think you'll see more authors tailoring their books to specific niche markets. What do you think about publishing 2 versions of the same book? With low ebook prices, it's easy to grab each copy of Ruth's novel, At His Command, and draw your own conclusions about this niche publishing. Happy reading!

Get Free Fonts

Font design can make or break a book cover. Too many authors use the fonts that came with their computers. To many, this screams, "Amateur."

Why? Because so many people are computer savvy. Just about anyone can look at a book cover and know if the font is standard computer-issue or a font more likely used by a graphic artist.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with using what's on your computer, but maybe you should broaden your design horizons and download other fonts--especially if you've had comments about your book covers.

I recommend dafont, a website where I shop for fonts. The website is well-organized and easy to use.

The Process

1. Register. It's free. Or not. If you just want to download fonts, you don't have to register.

If you do register, you can: (a) Submit and update your own fonts (b) Create selections (to compare fonts side by side, or favorite lists) (c) Add comments on the fonts (d) Post on the forum.

Of those benefits, (b) and (c) are the only ones I make use of.

2. Look the main page over. You'll see the categories of fonts in that red box. When you select a category and a font in that category, this appears:
  • Preview Blank Box
  • Number of fonts
  • Size
  • Sort By
Set up those boxes. In the preview box, key in the title of your book if that's why you're shopping for a font or your author name or whatever. That will stay there as you look through all the fonts until you clear it, close the window, or key in something else.

3. On the right side of the page, you will see:
  • Download statistics
  • Comments
  • Usage Licenses, i.e. "Free for Personal Use" or "100% free"
  • Download Button
  • Donate to Author Button
4. When you find a font you want to download, check to see if it's totally free or otherwise. Some will say what the restrictions are. It's your responsibility to check the listing on dafont and/or check the ReadMe file for licensing requirements.

5. Download the font, check ReadMe, follow up with the font designer for payment or whatever the font designer wants. Some just want you to tell them what you used it in so they can see it. Others may want a credit line inside your book or something else entirely.

How to Find the ReadMe File
  • Find a font you like.
  • Download the font.
  • Double click on the zip folder. A list of all files contained therein will open.
  • Check the text file which may be a .txt, .doc, .pdf, or other. Most say ReadMe but some don't.
  • When you find the ReadMe file, read it and follow the instructions.
Some are very entertaining. The file will say what the font author expects in compensation. Most want a minimal donation though some may specify a dollar amount ranging from small to large.

Do It Now

Before you use the file, make payment if that is required. If the payment is more than you wish to pay, delete the font file. Do not install it thinking that you'll make payment later. You'll probably forget and may end up using a font for which you do not have a license. That can get you sued or at the very least bad-mouthed all over the Internet.

Takeaway Truth

Always donate if you use a "free" font even though it may not be required. This helps these artists make a living just as readers buying your book helps you.

Authors, subscribe to WritingHacks, my free email newsletter, and receive a special gift.

Readers, subscribe to WordPlay, my free email list, and receive a special gift.