Donate Your Print Books to These 7 Libraries

If you have print books, donate to libraries. Of course, make sure your book's content fits the readership of the targeted libraries. For example, you wouldn't donate a sexy romance to a children's camp library or to a church library.

Prep your donated books with a lovely bookplate saying:

Donated by Author Name
www .AuthorName. com * blogname.whatever

Stick this on the title page or the blank page opposite the title page.

7 Libraries

Here are libraries that may be thrilled to receive a copy or copies of your books.

1. The library in your hometown.

Many of us are from small towns or rural America. Even though you may have moved to a large metropolitan area, always remember the library in your hometown. Donate your print book to your hometown library.

2. The branch libraries near your home.

If you do live in a large metropolitan area, call one of the branch libraries near you and ask how to donate copies of your books to their library system with particular emphasis on the branches nearest you.

3. Many coffee shops have their own little library, often just a basket of books.

Ask the manager of your favorite coffee shop if they'd like to receive copies of your books.

4. Community college libraries.

Most large cities have at least one community college. Call and ask if you can donate books to them.

5. Church libraries usually love to receive free books.

6. Cruise ship libraries.

If you've taken a cruise, you know there are small libraries onboard. Call the 800 number to learn the procedure for donating your books.

7. Summer camp libaries.

Yes, established summer camps have small libraries. Do a web search to learn where to donate.

Takeaway Truth

Building an audience in this competitive book world requires you to think outside the box.

Review: Somm

Like wine? You'll love Somm, a 2012 documentary about four young men, each trying to become a Master Sommelier.

Maybe you just want to learn more about wine and how someone can taste a wine and describe it in such eloquent terms. Then this film will teach you.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back, and prepare to be awestruck.

Jaw Dropping Quest

Somm is a compelling documentary that will make your jaw drop as you follow the year-long journey of these wine stewards as they attempt to pass the Master Sommelier Exam, one of the world's most-difficult tests.

To become a professional certified sommelier, one must possess a combination of experience, training, formal education, classes and examinations. To become a Master Sommelier, a goal attained by only 214 people around the world by the end of 2013, is an amazing feat, as you will see when viewing this documentary.

Taste, Discern, Describe

Somm will also teach you how to taste a wine--how to distinguish the various taste elements (this, not that kind of narrowing of different taste profiles)--and how to describe what your mouth tells you so others can know what it tastes like.

Directed, written, and produced by Jason Wise, with Michelle Branch, Story Producer; William Fowler, Executive Producer; Jackson Myers, Producer; and Christina Tucker, Producer, this film is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Takeaway Truth

Want to polish up those social graces? Watch Somm. Have a glass of wine as you watch.

Thursday3Some: Love is a Rose by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux, Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana, is visiting with us again today to talk about a book that is a little bit different, a nonfiction devotional.

This busy author is 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

About Love is a Rose
Instead of a novel, Pamela S. Thibodeaux brought a nonfiction book of devotionals, inspired by the song The Rose sung by Country & Western artist Conway Twitty. She says: "God opened my spirit to a deeper understanding of the abundance of His grace and mercy through the words of the song."

When did you write Love is a Rose?

I initially wrote Love is a Rose in 1995 with the hope of having it published as a gift book along with a CD of the song, The Rose.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I’ve always been a huge Country Music fan and in 1995 the song, The Rose, sung by Conway Twitty came on the radio right after my morning prayer time. Much to my surprise, Scriptures and quotes from the Bible and other biblically focused books came to mind that coincided with each verse of the song! Well I immediately wrote those down. A friend provided poetry to go along with the scripture and text. However when I began pitching it to publishers, I found out all the legalities about using the lyrics and that the poetry didn’t actually add to the overall depth of the book. I deleted the poems and fleshed out each verse and Scripture and then included thoughts (seeds to ponder) and a prayer.

Why do readers buy Love is a Rose?

As a devotional with examples of how each scripture and verse applied to my life, as well as lined pages for reflection, Love is a Rose is perfect for those who enjoy devotional books.

Love is a Rose by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Print Book from Amazon * Kindle * Print Book from B&N * Nook * Smashwords * Deeper Shopping

Takeaway Truth

In need of some guidance or something uplifting? Try Pam's book of devotionals.

Give Readers A Grand Opening

The opening sentence of a book, or any piece of writing for that matter, is like a Grand Opening event. It should excite you and make you want to hang around—that means keep reading to The End where you get the Grand Opening Prize: a great ending.

Next Tuesday, my latest romance Cinderella Blue, available now on pre-order for only 99 cents until April 13, will be published.

New Beginning

I took a couple of weeks off to visit family, do my taxes, and catch up on all the clerical stuff that goes along with operating my writing business. Today, I'm starting a new novella, Heat Lightning, which will be one of 21 contemporary romances in the Summer Fire Contemporary Romance Anthology. The Summer Fire Box Set will be released May 26th.

My biggest concern today is that all important opening sentence and/or paragraph. This tiny part of a book is so important because it determines whether a reader will want to keep reading.

Each time I start a manuscript, I spend a lot of time thinking up the perfect opening sentences for the story and the character. In a couple of sentences I want you to meet the character and glimpse something about her personality, attitude, and emotional condition that will make you want to read more.

What Hooks You?

As a reader, what about a book hooks you? The author’s name? The cover? The Book Description? The first sentence or paragraph?

(Leave your answer about what hooks you as a Comment on this post along with your email address, written out not as a hot link, and be entered in the March Swag Bag Giveaway. If the winner resides in the lower 48, this will be mailed to you. If the winner is abroad, you'll receive a digital Swag Bag. Prize to be awarded on or about April 3.)

Compelling Opening

When book shopping, I always open a book—whether that’s in a bookstore or online with the “Look Inside” feature—and read the first paragraph. This small amount of text should be crafted to capture a reader with an intoxicating first sentence, first paragraph, first page—followed by equally addicting pages to the very end.

I measure my opening sentence against the yardstick of great story openers created by my favorite authors. Excellent opening sentences capture the reader’s attention. They should make readers curious or elicit an emotional reaction: laughter, excitement, sadness, etc.

Here's the opening paragraph from my soon to be published romance, Cinderella Blue.

Andie Luft peered through the bridal veil, searching for the slimeball photographer who had ruined her day. She just hoped she saw Lombardo before he saw her, but looking through the white tulle was like watching television with the cable disconnected.

Other Openings

The first day of spring in New York featured the kind of weather Madeline Quinn most hated. Cold, gray, wet, and miserable— which made it perfect because that’s exactly the way she felt. (April Fool Bride)

Ally Fletcher had waited six years for this opportunity. Six long years. There was no way a mere thunderstorm was going to stop her. Of course, in Texas, calling this a mere thunderstorm was like saying a Texas tornado was a mere puff of wind. (Still The One. I’m fairly certain every woman has fantasized about what she’d do if given the chance to show someone from her past how she has grown from an ugly duckling into a swan.)

Snowflakes drifted down, falling from a black velvet sky, sliding past the concrete canyons of downtown Houston to the streets and sidewalks below. Staring out the hotel window, Noelle wondered how much longer she would have to wait. If David walked in right now, what would she do? (LuvU4Ever)

Jennifer Monroe shivered and rubbed the goose-bumped flesh of her arms. A meat locker would be warmer than a doctor’s examining room! Why do they have to keep it so cold? And why do they act as if you have nothing better to do than sit around, clad only in a piece of paper and your birthday suit, and wait? (Just One Look. Is there a woman who won’t identify with that paragraph?)

When she found the person responsible for this, she would make them pay. And pay big! (JANE I’m-Still-Single JONES)

Darcy Benton wondered if she needed to check into a hospital. Her nervous system seemed to have shorted out, producing feet that felt like blocks of ice and hands that perspired as if it were July rather than December. (Nobody’s Cinderella)

If you can’t trust your friends, then who can you trust? Stormy Clarkson planned to pose that question to her soon-to-be ex-friend Libby the minute she saw the conniving woman. (Old Enough to Know Better)

By the time most people reach the eve of their thirtieth birthday, they’ve developed a philosophy of life, shaped by the experience of living. Judy Anne Palmer was no exception. She had a philosophy of life, shaped by life’s hard lessons and honed by the last eight years to a stark two-word declaration. Life sucks! (Romeo and Judy Anne)

Men looked at Amanda Whitfield and thought she was a hot blonde who knew how to have a good time. Hot? Sizzling. Sexy? Undeniably. Men figured she knew all about flirtation and lust and sex. They were wrong. (Scents and Sensuality)

Every woman makes mistakes. Susannah Quinn glared at the door to the sheriff’s private office. Yep, every woman makes mistakes, but most women didn’t have to put up with a constant reminder of their not so brilliant actions. And most women didn’t have their mistake showing up at their office, flaunting tanned muscles and polluting the environment with clouds of testosterone and male arrogance. (The Trouble With Love)

Some of My All-time Favorites

Here are some favorite opening sentences that intrigue or tease with a sense of anticipation, evoking curiosity and/or an emotional response in the reader that can’t be resisted.

“The scream was distant and brief. A woman's scream.” Phantoms by Dean Koontz

“I never knew her in life.” The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

“Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow.” Carrie by Stephen King

“Death was driving an emerald green Lexus.” Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Takeaway Truth

Thank you for supporting my new release Cinderella Blue. Let me know if you leave a review of Cinderella Blue or any of my books. I'd like to send you a small token of appreciation for taking the time to promote my books. (Email me: Joan at JoanReeves dot com. Put REVIEW in the Subject Box.)

Alicia Dean's Dollar Day

Guess what? It's Dollar Day on Alicia Dean's Blog tomorrow, March 21. It begins at 5:00am CST.

Actually, each of these ebooks is less than a dollar because these books Alicia has gathered together are priced at only 99cents.

I can't think of any other form of entertainment in today's world that can be bought for a measly 99cents.

Alicia has gathered 46 ebooks from various genres for your shopping pleasure. I plan to stock up.

Takeaway Truth

Hope to see you at Alicia Dean's Dollar Day tomorrow.

Thursday3Some: Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

My friend, award-winning author Stacy Juba, dropped by this morning. So grab your favorite morning cup of joy and let's talk to Stacy.

About Stacy Juba

Stacy loves to write stories about Characters at a Crossroads: individuals who are finding themselves and getting on the right life path after overcoming obstacles. She has made numerous bestseller lists including GalleyCat’s Barnes & Noble Bestsellers and GalleyCat’s Mystery and Thriller Bestsellers.

Stacy has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, a theme park Cinderella looking for love, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag. She is also a freelance book editor for authors.

About Sink or Swim

How do you change the channel when reality TV turns to murder? After starring on a hit game show set aboard a Tall Ship, personal trainer Cassidy Novak discovers that she has attracted a stalker. Can she trust Zach Gallagher, the gorgeous newspaper photographer assigned to follow her for a local series? As things heat up with the stalker and with Zach, soon Cassidy will need to call SOS for real.

Find Stacy Online

Website * Facebook  * Twitter * Goodreads * Pinterest * Amazon Author Page

When did you write Sink or Swim?

I started writing Sink or Swim about ten years ago, and it was originally published in paperback about five years ago. Today it is available in multiple e-book formats and as an Audible audiobook.

What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I was fascinated by the amazing success of reality TV shows like Survivor and Big Brother. I wanted to explore what might motivate someone to appear on a reality show and how that strange experience of being in the public eye affects her life. I thought it would be interesting to add a mystery twist. If a TV drama or sitcom gets cancelled, a diehard fan will likely see the actors again in future shows or movies. However, many reality show contestants return to their normal lives once the show is over and don't remain in the spotlight. I wanted to explore what could happen if an obsessed fan goes into withdrawal knowing that my character, Cassidy, might never appear on TV again.

Why do readers buy Sink or Swim?

Sink or Swim is a fun beach read. Readers buy it when they are seeking a light and entertaining book to help them escape the stress of daily living. Readers are typically drawn to the book if they enjoy cozy mystery novels and clean romance.

Buy Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

Amazon Kindle * Nook * iBooks * Kobo * Audio Edition from Audible

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is coming. Grab a fun book like Sink of Swim and get ready to read.

Fight the Fear: 5 Steps

A friend recently asked me this question: Is it normal for writers to think their own work is never good enough?

My Answer

OMG, yes! I don't know of a single GOOD writer who finishes a manuscript and thinks, "Wow. This is fantastic." We are all creatures of insecurity.

I've been published by 5 different publishers including my French publisher, and I still doubt everything I write. I've got more than a million books in print floating around the planet, and I don't know how many ebook sales, and I still feel that way. I can finish a chapter and be satisfied with it. Overnight I get this gnawing anxiety. The next morning when I sit at the computer, I know what I wrote the day before is pure crap.

When I finish a book, it's so hard to just click the PUBLISH button. That's the way it used to be when I sent a finished manuscript to my editor. I'm was always convinced it was terrible, and that it would never sell.

Not Just Me

Guess what? It's not just me who thinks this way. I personally know enough "household name" authors who feel the same way!

I think we sometimes just get to the point of "oh, hell, just publish the damn thing and move on" stage. Otherwise, there would never be any books published. *LOL*

The oddest thing is that the people who brag about how good their books are--and I don't mean some kind of marketing statement or obvious promotion statement--but an honest to God conviction that their writing is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Those people are the ones whose books are crap!!!

I think you have to tread the fine line of perfectionism, knowing that your work will never be what you want it to be in your eyes, and the reality that it really is good enough to publish.

Emotion Married to Fear

Feeling insecure about your writing, feeling a lack of confidence--that's emotion and fear bound together. You will find no joy with your writing career if you are controlled by emotion and fear.

Instead, one must learn to intellectualize about the writing. That's using your conscious brain to work for you rather than against you. Doing this will help muffle the little editor inside you who screams, "You and your writing suck."

5 Tips to Fight the Fear

1. Accept that there will be a certain amount of fear, but work to keep it at a manageable level.

2. Instead of doubting and being depressed by every sentence that you see as inferior when compared to others, cut yourself a break.

Say: I am a good writer. I love my work. I've written, published, and sold books. Readers like my books. I've successfully written before, and I will this time. Say it. Write it. Think it. Internalize it until it is your first response when the going gets tough.

3. Become conscious of your self-defeating thoughts so that you can DEFEAT them.

With each of the above affirmative sentences, you'll find the evil person inside you refuting them. For every negative thought that crops up, immediately replace it with a positive message. That's how to fight the fear and win.

Make your positive messages to yourself a mantra and say it as many times as you need so you keep moving forward.

4. Accept the truth that any writing is hard if done properly.

Quit thinking it's easy. An accounting job is hard if done properly, so is a legal case, a nine-to-five clerical job, or any other worthwhile demanding job.

5. Relationships are important.

Don't lose sight of the people in your life because you're so obsessed with writing successfully. Being a writing workaholic is as rewarding as being any kind of workaholic--you may get a lot of work done, but are you happy? Take time to live your real life, and it will pay rewards in your writing life.

Takeaway Truth

Repeat after me. "I am a good writer. I deserve to succeed."

Thursday3Some: The Heartbroken Cowboy by Melissa Keir

I'm happy to welcome Melissa Keir, author of The Heartbroken Cowboy, part of the Cowboy Up 2 Anthology available now on Amazon Kindle.

About Melissa Keir

Melissa loves to write small town stories that sizzle. Her stories are character driven and feature men and women who could be your neighbors or friends.

Melissa and her family live in the wilds of Michigan. In addition to writing, she's a full time elementary teacher and has a movie review show on a local radio station.

Find Melissa Keir Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter *
Visit The Facebook Page for Cowboy Up 2 Boxed Set

About Cowboy Up 2

Saddle Up with the best-selling authors who brought you Cowboy Up... And fall for Six more Cowboys ready to steal your heart!

1. When did you write The Heartbroken Cowboy in the book bundle Cowboy Up 2?

The Heartbroken Cowboy was written this January as a follow-up to my novella The Heartsong Cowboy in Cowboy Up.

2. What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

I wanted to give Johnson a chance at a happily ever after. The poor man was so cranky in the first book.

3. Why do readers buy Cowboy Up 2?

The readers love the sizzling cowboys. Who doesn't love a hard-working man who loves nature and who is willing to do anything for you? Cowboy Up 2 features six novellas by the same authors as the best-selling authors of Cowboy Up!

Buy Cowboy Up 2 from Amazon Kindle

Takeaway Truth

Want a fun read? How about 6 of them? Then grab Cowboy Up 2 which includes The Heartbroken Cowboy by Melissa Keir.

The Grand Gesture by Ines Johnson

Today, SlingWords welcomes Ines Johnson, author of Pumpkin, A Cindermama Story.

Ines has written about that staple of romance novels: The Grand Gesture. I think you'll like her article.

About Ines Johnson

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Find Ines Johnson Online

Website * Goodreads * Facebook * Twitter * Publisher

About Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story by Ines Johnson

Single mother Malika “Pumpkin” Tavares lost faith in fairy tales after she fell for a toad. Now she believes she’s not cut from the storybook heroine cloth and searches for Mr. Good Enough amongst the sidekicks and supporting men of the town.

Love at first sight isn’t a cliche for town royalty Armand “Manny” Charmayne. For generations the Charmaynes have spotted their soulmates by seeing a golden aura the first time they laid eyes on The One.

When Manny meets Pumpkin he sees…nothing, but sparks fly off the Richter scale. The more he gets to know her the more he considers defying fate, if only he can convince her to take a chance on love again.

The Grand Gesture
by Ines Johnson

Traditionally the Grand Gesture is known to be a common plotting point in romance stories where the hero does something bold or gives up something big in order to show the heroine that his love is true.

In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy puts aside his contempt of Wickham to help save Lydia’s reputation. This grand gesture is what finally convinces Elizabeth to take his hand.

In Twilight, Edward’s grand gesture, the thing that shows his true love of Bella, is when he sucks the poison out of her wrist without killing her.

For more on grand gestures, we’ll turn to the hero of my latest release, Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story. This romance is a fairytale retelling of--you guessed it--the Cinderella story.

* * * Excerpt * * *

The Mistress of Ceremonies hurried through her introductions and then the microphone was in Manny's hand, but he didn't take out the notes of his prepared speech.

"Many of you knew my mother," he began. There was a murmur of nostalgic assent throughout the crowd.

"You may not know that after her diagnosis, she spent most of her days watching romantic comedies. She believed she could laugh the illness out of her body. Her favorite moments in these films were something called the Grand Gesture. That scene just after all hope is lost because one of the lovers, normally the guy, has done something stupid that's led to the end of the relationship. So he thinks up this bold, romantic move to get the woman back."

A glance around the room told Manny that he held the largely female crowd in rapt attention.

"An example of a grand gesture would be a guy telling his estranged wife that she completes him in the midst of an angry mob of women. Or rescuing her underwear from the class geek and returning it to her at her sister's wedding. Or holding a boom box over his head, in front of her bedroom window, early in the morning, while blasting the song that was playing as he deflowered her."

A different wave of nostalgia swept through the crowd this time as they remembered these treasured moments of Hollywood cinema.

"In the real world, some people might call these behaviors creepy, or stalker-ish. But not my mother. She loved them. She believed in love, believed that when you loved someone you said it loud, you showed it often, and you never gave up."

Manny paused here, partly for effect, mostly to collect himself as visions of his mother's joyous face played in his head. He rubbed the heel of his hand against his chest.

"The national divorce rate is 50 percent."

There was no surprise in the room, where most of the men were older and the women on their arms were younger.

"There's never been a divorce in the Charmayne family. Not one recorded anywhere in our family line."

The sparkle of young women's eyes threatened to blind Manny from where he stood on the stage.

"What that means is when a Charmayne gives you their pledge, they are committed."

The decision was a split second one, but once Manny made it he stuck with it. He stepped around the podium, mic in hand and dropped to one knee. The gasp of every woman in the room was near deafening.

"To earn your vote, I will do whatever I have to, including blast Peter Gabriel in the streets. Charmaynes don't quit. I'm committed to this, to the people of this town. I hope that I can count on your vote."

The room erupted in thunderous applause, and the women's eyes sparkled even brighter.

* * *

We’ve seen literary heroes perform the feat of a grand gesture near the end of the tale. In Pumpkin: a Cindermama story, my hero Manny talks about this moment in the first act.

I take a moment early in the book to teach the reader the rules of the grand gesture in this speech so that they are prepped for later in the book when I break these rules in favor of a more non-traditional grand gesture near the end of the story.

To find out who messed up and how they declared their love in a grand way, I hope you'll pick up the book.

Buy Pumpkin: a Cindermama Story by Ines Johnson

Amazon Exclusive

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is near. Why not pick up a book that so eloquently explains the Grand Gesture?

Daylight Savings Time Chuckles

Ah, yes, it's that time of year when we spring forward 1 hour and end up confused for a month as to what time it really is.

Love It? Hate It?

From the time Ben Franklin came up with the concept of Daylight Savings Time, it has been a touchy subject. David Prerau has written a book about it that you might find interesting: Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time.

As for me, I wish they'd leave it one way or the other. It takes me about a month to get my sleep pattern back to normal. Since I'm a bit of an insomniac anyway, I'm toast within a few days of changing to DST.

Daylight Savings Time Chuckles

If you are already running late--missed church or that brunch date--here are a few chuckles for you. Better to laugh than get bent out of shape.

"I don't mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I've saved all year." ~Victor Borge

"You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe “Daylight Saving Time." ~Dave Barry

"At the back of the Daylight Saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." ~Robertson Davies

"Daylight Saving Time: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket." ~Anonymous

Takeaway Truth

Bottom line? We can't do anything about it so I guess we just deal with it and muddle along until our body clocks have adjusted. That should happen some time in the fall when Daylight Savings Time ends.

EZ Thunderclap Lesson

Click to Support My Thunderclap
OMG! An online social life is a lot of fun but what a Time-Suck! *LOL*

I've spent the whole day chatting online--okay, on the phone too--and visiting dozens of Thunderclap promotions to support them.


You know what Thunderclap is, right? It's the epitome of I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. A Thunderclap campaign is designed to have the same effect as a loud clap of thunder--to make you sit up and take notice about something.

A completely automated Thunderclap campaign uses supporters' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts to post a composed message on a certain day and at a certain time. This Thunderclap will hopefully call attention to whatever you are promoting.

My Thunderclap is to call attention on release day, March 31, to my new romantic comedy Cinderella Blue. (It's available now for Pre-order on Amazon Kindle.)

In the past, I've supported other people's Thunderclap campaigns, but this is the first time I posted one of my own. If you don't know how Thunderclap works, here's a quick overview in case you want to support someone's Thunderclap campaign--like mine--or you want to create a Thunderclap of your own.

Set Up a Thunderclap

1. Set up a free account on Thunderclap.

There's information and examples on the website to guide you.

2. Click button to set up your Thunderclap when you're ready.

You'll need the link to your book or webpage or whatever the URL is that will go in your automated post. Then you'll fill in the form which calls for:

* Organizer Name
* Bio
* Title of Campaign
* Category
* Message -- short & includes the URL I mentioned. This is what supporters share. 139 characters.
* End Date/Time -- this is when those posts will automatically publish
* Supporter Goal -- Small, 100. This is the campaign that is free.
* Campaign Photo -- 600p x 280p
* Edit Your Story -- a couple of paragraphs that explain your campaign
* Your Email

3. When the form is completed, click Submit. Otherwise, you can save it as a Draft and work on it until you're ready.

4. Once you submit, your campaign goes for review. When it's approved, you'll get an email.

5. Post the link and ask your friends and followers to click it to support your campaign.

6. When you reach your minimum number of followers, usually 100, your campaign will be sent. If you don't reach the minimum, it won't.

How to Support a Thunderclap

This is very easy to do, and it's nice to help out the people you know.

1. Click the link provided.

2. A page opens. Scroll down it. You'll see it has the campaign information, graphic, etc. as well as a big red horizontal bar with 3 options: Support with Facebook, Support with Twitter, Support with Tumblr.

3. Click each "Support" buttons. With each, you get a message where you can opt to receive messages from Thunderclap (remove the check mark if you don't want this) and also to receive followup from the person who has the campaign (just click No Thanks if you don't want this). Automatically your number of supporters will be tallied and added to the count. Click to close that window.

That's really all there is to it. On the day a campaign is set to end, the composed message you saw in the campaign will post to your FB, Twitter, and/or Tumbl accounts at the pre-arranged time. You don't have to do anything at all.

I hope you'll take a moment to support my Thunderclap campaign for Cinderella Blue release day.

Takeaway Truth

Where would we be without a little help from our friends?

12 Questions for Author Jen J. Danna

This morning, Jen J. Danna, author and infectious diseases scientist, is my guest. So let's find out more about Jen and her gripping mysteries.

About Jen J. Danna

A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen J. Danna works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing. Together with her partner Ann Vanderlaan she crafts suspenseful crime fiction with a realistic scientific edge.

Their 4 Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries include: Dead, Without a Stone to Tell it; No One Sees Me ’Till I Fall; A Flame in the Wind of Death; and Two Parts Bloody Murder.

Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario with her husband and two daughters, and is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada. You can reach her through the Contact page on her website or by email: jenjdanna at gmail dot com.

Find Jen Danna Online

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Blog: Skeleton Keys

Jen J. Danna Tackles the Dirty Dozen

1. In which genre do you write and why that particular genre?

The Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries falls, as the name suggests, under forensic crime fiction or, more generally, police procedural. I starting writing in this genre because, as a scientist myself, I found the science fascinating and it drove me crazy when TV shows like CSI took forensic shortcuts in the name of storytelling. I was sure there was a way to tell the story well while staying true to the science involved, so I threw my hat into the ring and gave it a try.

2. What's your most recent book and what's it about?

Two Parts Bloody Murder released just last month, and is the fourth installment of the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries.

Prohibition was a time of clandestine excess—short skirts, drinking, dancing . . . and death. But a murder committed so many years ago still has the power to reverberate decades later with deadly consequences.

It’s a double surprise for Trooper Leigh Abbott as she investigates a cold case and discovers two murder victims in a historic nineteenth-century building. Together with forensic anthropologist Matt Lowell and medical examiner Dr. Edward Rowe, she uncovers the secrets of a long-forgotten, Prohibition-era speakeasy in the same building. But when the two victims are discovered to be relatives—their deaths separated by over eighty years—the case deepens, and suddenly the speakeasy is revealed as ground zero for a cascade of crimes through the decades.

When a murder committed nearly forty years ago comes under fresh scrutiny, the team realizes that an innocent man was wrongly imprisoned and the real murderer is still at large. Now they must solve three murders spanning over eighty years if they hope to set a wronged man free.

3. As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?

Suspenseful storytelling with real and accurate science backing up the forensics.

4. How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book."

As a teenager, I used to write for fun with a girlfriend. We’d snail mail each other chapters of our latest works (I’m sure they were terrible, but I’d really love to see some of that material again, just for the sake of nostalgia). That girlfriend is now children’s author R.J. Anderson.

I gave up writing completely sometime during my high school years, then went to University, started my career at the university, got married, had two kids and life was busy for a long time. But years later, when the kids were more independent, I started to dabble again. I met my writing partner Ann Vanderlaan over the internet, we wrote four or five trunk novels together and then decided to try to make a go of professional writing. The first book in the series, Dead, Without a Stone to Tell It, was that novel.

5. What's the best thing about being an author?

Without a doubt, the best aspect of being an author is interacting with readers. After so long with these characters living in your own head, it’s an amazing experience to be able to discuss them as if they were real people with readers who love them as much as you do.

6. What's the worst thing about being an author?

Juggling my time. I still work full time in an infectious disease research laboratory, so I have to shoehorn my writing time into every available minute—before work, on my lunch break, after work and then after dinner. To my husband’s great regret, we have no social life because I simply don’t have time for one. Lucky for me, he’s supportive and understanding about the whole thing.

7. Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?

Our novella, No One Sees Me 'Til I Fall, installment #2 in the series, is only available in eBook format. The first book in the series, Dead, Without a Stone to Tell It, is available in hardcover, eBook and, as of January, mass market formats. The second book in the series, A Flame in the Wind of Death, is also available in hardcover and eBook formats, but will be available in mass market as of April 2015. The latest installment, Two Parts Bloody Murder, is currently available in hardcover and eBook.

8. Do you listen to audio books? If so, what device do you use?

Due to time constraints, audiobooks are my main way to consume fiction. I listen when I’m driving, cooking, or doing dishes. I love them! I use an iPod touch for my audiobooks because otherwise I’d be constantly draining my smart phone battery.

9. What device do you use to read ebooks?

I have an older Kindle model and split my reading between that and my phone, depending on where I am at the time and how much time I have to read.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Be persistent. If being traditionally published is what you really want, don’t give up after 25 agent rejections. Don’t give up after 8 or 10 publisher rejections. If it’s not the right book this time, write the next one and try again. It’s all about finding the right match between author, book, agent, and publisher, so stick with it.

11. If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?

In a world where free and 99¢ eBooks generally devalue the work we do, to remember that authors spend months and years pouring heart and soul into their work. So to ask for fair compensation for their art isn’t unreasonable.

12. What is your big dream (or goal) as a writer?

To someday earn enough money by writing to be able to really devote myself to my craft. Right now, it has to take second place to supporting my family, but maybe someday it can be my focus. I live in hope! :)

Reprise: Two Parts Bloody Murder

It’s a double surprise for Trooper Leigh Abbott as she investigates a cold case and discovers two murder victims in a historic building. But when the victims are discovered to be relatives—separated by over eighty years—the case deepens. When a murder committed nearly forty years ago comes under scrutiny, the team realizes that an innocent man was imprisoned and the real murderer is still at large. Now they must solve three murders spanning eighty years if they hope to set a wronged man free.

Buy Two Parts Bloody Murder

Hardcover from Amazon U.S. * Hardcover from Amazon Canada * Hardcover from Amazon UK * Hardcover from B&N 

Takeaway Truth

Isn't it fascinating to learn about authors and what they write? Pick up Jen's book today.

SUMMER FIRE Pre-Release Party on Facebook

You’re invited to join me and 20 other Bestselling Authors for the PREORDER / COVER REVEAL EVENT on Facebook.

The party is today, Tuesday, March 3rd, from Noon – 10:30pm Eastern. (I have to keep reminding myself that's 11am - 9:30pm Central time because I'm first up at the party tomorrow.)

Again, here's the Facebook Event Link:

Contests, prizes, and chat with the authors. I'll be there when the doors open, drop by and say hello. I'm giving away Amazon Gift Cards. I'm also giving away a free book to everyone who subscribes to my email list!

Takeaway Truth

I love parties! Be there or be square.

How To Write a Book Review

Writing a book review is a learned skill. That's why I post this how-to article every quarter to help those who are just venturing into review territory. Feel free to pass this post link on to others.

The formal book review with its formal parameters:

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Name; 1st edition (date)
ISBN: number
Book Size: Format, i.e., Trade Paperback
The Review

seems to have gone the way of daily milk delivery, newspaper subscriptions, and the dinosaur.

Now we have reader reviews. Many of them are thoughtful, helpful. Many of them are like snarky cocktail party chatter.

Many readers never post a review. I think there are many reasons why they shun the review process. Here are a few that might apply:
  • they liked the book but they are aware of the nastiness that some reader reviewers heap on those with dissenting opinions
  • they did not like the book but the author has a huge following and they're afraid loyal supporters will subject them to some of the same nastiness
  • they don't want to hurt the author's feelings
  • they don't know what to say
  • they're concerned that they don't have the writing skills necessary to write a review.
I'm sure there are many other reasons, but I think the above are the most obvious. At least, I get emails from readers who love my books, but they never post a review even when I ask them to leave a few sentences about their reading experience.

So this post is for the average book loving reader:
  • who is new to the review process
  • who may not know exactly what to say or how to say it
  • who is wary of attacks from readers with different opinions
  • who don't see why they should take time to do this.
How To Say What You Think

If your friend next door dropped by to visit you and saw a book, she'd probably ask: "What do you think about that book?"

You'd answer her by telling briefly what the book was about and what you liked about it or didn't like. That's how you write a review: in a friendly conversational style as if you were telling a friend about it.

So just jot down what you think on a notepad or in some computer word processing app if you want to be sure it looks good and sounds accurate. If you're concerned about spelling or grammar, do a quick check for that which is easy if you wrote it in MS Word or something similar. Cut and paste it onto the review form on the book's webpage.

What To Say

1. Don't worry about summarizing the book. There's already a Product Description on the book's webpage. If you feel you must give a synopsis, use the gist of the Product Description from the book's webpage.

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

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

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

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

Example using the same book: "I didn't care for this book because I just don't like books set in the Civil War. Or, you might say: "I didn't like this book because I thought the character was self-absorbed and arrogant. I prefer to read books where the heroine is a likable woman." Or, you might say: "I don't like books about slavery so this book doesn't appeal to me."

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

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

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

If you normally don't read romance, but you got a free romance novel, and you didn't like it because it had sex scenes in it or whatever, then do not review it. A review should not reflect your personal prejudices. Instead, make it a policy to review books that reflect your reading taste.

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

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

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

To paraphrase what Danielle Steele once said about reviews: "Writing a book, getting it published, and getting bad reviews is like making a beautiful cake and someone comes along and sits on it." So be diplomatic and kind in your review if you did not like the book. The author did not set out to write a bad book, but sometimes all the elements just don't come together.

Take The High Road & Ignore Those Traveling The Low Road

If you post reviews, and someone makes a comment on it, for instance, This person is an idiot if he thinks this is a good book. (Or a bad book.) Don't answer back. You are not required to defend your opinion or to answer any detractors. You have the right to your opinion and to state it publicly. For every person who disagrees with you, there is one who agrees.

Simply ignore any negative comments. A fight can't start without 2 combatants.

Why Post Reviews

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

Be responsible. Be objective. Be polite.

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

Takeaway Truth

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

No Bad Weather?

Spring comes every year. It's coming in 3 weeks. Honestly, I wouldn't lie to you, but I certainly understand if you don't believe me.

This has been one heck of a winter, hasn't it? Right now, Texas is suffering from ice and snow around Dallas and east and west along that latitude. South of there, it's cold, gray, and rainy. That pretty much describes winter as we've experienced it in Houston.

John Ruskin said: "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."

Sorry, but I disagree with everything that follows "sunshine is delicious." At least I do today. Check with me this summer, and I'll probably have changed my mind about "rain is refreshing."

Oh, for some sunshine and warm temperatures! I miss walking every day. I'm tired of staring out my office window and seeing rain. Of course, instead of staring out the window, I should be writing. But that's another story.

Takeaway Truth

Hang in there. Only 19 more days until Spring begins.