Book Review How To

Want to write a book review but not sure how to do it?

Not to worry. I'm here to help.

Writing a book review is a learned skill, and I can show you how to do it. It's really quite easy.

That's why I post this how-to article every quarter to help those who are just venturing into review territory. I want to remove the anxiety and the fear factor from the process.

Trust me. Just read this, and you'll be able to post like a pro. Feel free to pass this post link on to others.

Old School Reviews

In the past, the formal book review was required by any serious book reviewer. The formal review usually went like this example:

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

You'll still see formal book reviews, but the review most people are familiar with is the reader or user review as seen online. Let's face it, the world is a lot less formal. Most formalities  seem to have gone the way of daily milk delivery, newspaper subscriptions, and the dinosaur.

Today's Reader Reviews

Many reader and/or user reviews are thoughtful and helpful. Unfortunately, many are like snarky cocktail party chatter. Some are downright mean. I'm going to focus on the thoughtful and helpful review and leave the others lying in the muck.

Many readers are wary of posting reviews. I can understand that, but I encourage you to offer your opinion because you're entitled to it.

I think there are many reasons why readers 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. When you're finished, you always have the chance to preview what you wrote in case you'd like to change something.

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 simply could not identify with the main character who was self-absorbed and arrogant." That's a fair statement because it explains why you didn't like it, but at the same time doesn't demean the author for having created such a character.

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. Why? Because no author sets out to write a bad book. And because what you dislike may be what another reader adores. Give other readers a chance to make up their minds for themselves. Example: "While this book was well-researched and smoothly written, it just wasn't my cup of tea, but someone who loves brash heroines would probably find it compelling."

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.

Always Take The High Road & Ignore Those Crawling In The Muck

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 at least one (probably a lot more) who will agree.

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.

Heat Index Plays Havoc

When I was kid, the weatherman would say, "The high today was 99 degrees, and the forecasted high tomorrow is 100."

Everyone understood that kind of message. You'd just put a hat on and go about your business--playing outside or working in your garden or whatever you had to do.

That Was Then; This Is Now

Now, the smiling weather persons say, "The high today was 99 degrees, but the heat index is 110 degrees."

Wow. Maybe I should stay indoors rather than risk heat stroke!

What Madness Is This?

Who started this heat index thing and can they please stop it? It messes with my work ethic. There are tasks I need to do outside of writing, but the heat index gives me a ready excuse to avoid them.

I mean, if the high is 99, I can deal with that. But that heat index thing added to it makes me think I should stay indoors in the air conditioning rather than deadheading the roses or going for a 2 mile walk.

I can easily handle triple digit temperatures because I've done it all my life. When the smiley faces crank it up to 115 with the heat index, just stick a fork in me because I'm done with being outdoors.

Wikipedia says: "The heat index (HI) or humiture or humidex (not to be confused with the Canadian humidex) is an index that combines air temperature and relative humidity in an attempt to determine the human-perceived equivalent temperature—how hot it would feel..."

According to the Wiki, I can blame George Winterling who developed what he called the "humiture" in 1978. A year later, it was adopted by the USA's National Weather Service.

Takeaway Truth

How about you? How do you handle the heat and an outdoor life?

Seize the Day Before Good Intentions Fade

Have you ever had an idea for something you’d like to create? It could be a quilt, a decorating project, a rose garden, or writing a book. A lot of people stockpile these projects for the summer since more daylight hours equals more leisure time, or so the theory goes.

Here in Texas, it’s definitely more comfortable to be inside working on a decorating project than outside in the heat and humidity. Of course, I think if you live in cold country, this might be reversed where you save up your creativity for the months when the weather’s too cold and icy to be outside.

Time Passes; Good Intentions Fade

Whatever the project you want to create, and whenever you plan to do it, have you ever noticed how time passes, and you never find the time to get started?

Summer fades into fall, and those cross stitch table napkins you were going to do for your sister’s Christmas present just didn’t get done. Or maybe that goal of reading all of Jane Austen’s books again fell by the wayside. (For writers, creative projects usually mean a book written “just for the fun of it” to see if, maybe, you can pull together a book in a different genre.)

Why couldn’t you find the time to do what you wanted to do? Maybe you were inspired, but the inspiration cooled, and, suddenly, the project looked more like work than fun.

The Secret To Achievement

Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate of the United States, said: “If you wait for inspiration, inspiration’s going to go away and look for more fertile ground to work with.”

The way many aspiring writers work is the way most people work on anything drawn from the imagination: they wait for the “muse” to commune with them. However, there’s something all these people don’t know that professional writers have learned. Inspiration comes to those who work consistently, every day, on the creative project.

Imitate the Pros

Regardless of what you want to achieve, I encourage you to work like a professional works.

Professionals don’t wait for inspiration. They know that success comes from working each day on the highest priority goal. They create a habit of working each day. That habit is like a muscle strengthened by weight lifting.

Professionals who create know that success comes from consistently drawing upon their creativity. That's the muscle they're exercising so that it gets stronger the more it is used.

Seize the Day

Identify your high priority goals. Take action every day in order to achieve your targeted goal.

With writing, write every day, it’s easy to get free-flowing words when you build that skill every day.  But, if you write every now and then, when inspired, it takes a lot longer to get the words flowing.

Many professional writers leave nothing to chance. They prime the pump every day by leaving a dangling thread that can easily be picked up the next day. They also may prime the pump by reading over what they wrote the previous day, editing it a bit, and then diving into the current day’s writing.

This holds true for planting a rose garden, stitching a quilt, or faux painting a wall. You can’t just work at it when you’re inspired. To complete anything like this, you have to work at it consistently until it’s finished.

If you start and stop, start and stop, the garden will be overgrown with weeds before the first rose ever blooms. The quilt will be a partially finished project haunting you every time you see it on the shelf in the closet. The manuscript will never be more than a pile of random pages.

Takeaway Truth

Consistency of effort finishes the painting, plants the garden, writes the book, and establishes the habit of finishing what you start.

Readers, sign up for Joan's Mailing List/Free NL and, Writers, subscribe to WritingHacks, Joan's free NL for authors.

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Love Christmas Romance Collection Excerpt by @AyalaRachelle

I'm pleased to present another Chapter 1 sneak peaks of a novella from the 2016 Romance Collection LOVE CHRISTMAS.

This collection of Christmas novellas, written by 20 bestselling authors and inspired by your favorite Christmas songs, will be available in early October for the holiday season.

I'll post the pre-order date and links as soon as they are available so subscribe to the blog so you don't miss an excerpt or the latest news about what promises to be an amazing holiday romance box set.

The Chapter 1 excerpt this time is from the popular Rachelle Ayala. Her bio appears after the excerpt so be sure and read it. The spotlight is yours, Rachelle!

Deck the Hearts
A Christmas Creek Romance by Rachelle Ayala
Chapter One

Sneak Peek Unedited Draft originally published on The Authors Billboard

A story in Love, Christmas collectionDeck the halls with boughs of holly.

“Fa la la la la, la la la la.” Holly Jolly sang gustily from the top of a twelve-foot step ladder. She was decking the entrance hall of the Gills Mansion with twisted garlands of holly branches.

Every year, the town of Christmas Creek held a gala Christmas bash at one of the Victorian mansions built by the timber barons who’d come to the Redwood Coast of California in the late nineteenth century. Holly, as president and CEO of Holly’s Jolly Elves, was commissioned by the town council to guarantee Christmas Creek’s festive holiday atmosphere.

This year would be no exception, despite the passing of old Marney Gills, the doyenne of Christmas lore and local history in the Redwood Empire. She’d left her entire estate to a grand-nephew who lived in Los Angeles. His lawyer hadn’t objected to the mansion being used in this year’s Christmas Creek bash, so here Holly was, weaving tinsel and holly over the nails that had been put in place for previous Christmas parties.

She’d already wound fragrant pine swags around the banisters, and had placed wreathes of every sort over the dark wooden paneled walls. A fourteen-foot Christmas tree awaited trimming in the living room, and she’d frosted every window with an Epsom salt and dish-soap mixture.

Now she had to make the front entrance grand. After stretching to hook the holly garlands all around the cathedral windows, she leaned the other direction to drape silver tinsel over the arms of the beaded antique crystal chandelier.

“’Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la la la—”

Bam! The solid oak front door crashed into her ladder. Holly flapped her arms, dropping the tinsel and grabbed the chandelier wildly. The ladder crashed to the wooden floor first, and then the chandelier ripped from the ceiling, holding Holly from her demise only long enough for her to pray she wouldn’t break her tailbone.

She hit the ground which grunted like a large bear. Millions of crystals cascaded over her, strings of beads, diamond shapes and pear-shaped globes, pummeling her like dry hailstones.

“La la la la.” The last part of the song staggered from Holly’s breath, a delayed response as now, she was struggling with the tangle of crystal beads on her face.

“Will you quit that fa la la la la-ing?” The ground, which turned out to be a man growled, his burly arms joining hers in detangling themselves from the ruined chandelier.

“Were you the one who knocked me off my ladder?” Holly swept aside her unruly red hair and stared at the gruff gentleman who she landed on.

If he wasn’t glaring at her like she was a winged witch, he would be considered handsome. But as it was now, his eyebrows were gathered low and a deep scowl marred his strong face with the proverbial cleft chin.

“What do you think you’re doing in my house?” He all but growled at her.

Holly jumped to her feet, her heart all a flutter. “You’re Gordon Gills?”

“And you’re trespassing.” Gordon, she presumed, picked up a string of crystals. “I hope you have insurance because this is an antique Russian palace chandelier, a gift from a tsar to my great-great-grandfather, the original Gordon Gills of Gills Mills—the sawmill which founded this town.”

“Excuse me?” Holly let the red in her hair do the talking. “You almost killed me, barging in and knocking my ladder down. I hope you have insurance. I could have broken all the bones in my body, starting with my tailbone up to my neckbone.”

“Well, you didn’t, because I caught you and saved your big butt.” He rubbed his own backside, which no doubt took the brunt of their combined weights.

Holly angled her gaze and couldn’t help noticing how tight and fine his ass looked, even in a pair of jeans. God knew he had enough muscles to take the punishment.

Wait, hadn’t he just insulted her?

“Big butt?” She put her hands on her hips. “Did your mother ever tell you it’s rude to comment on a woman’s body?”

“Not when my mother died in childbirth while having me.” He pointed at the boughs of holly encircling the cathedral window. “Get that garbage out of here.”

Before she had a chance to feel sorry for the brute for not having a mother, he’d insulted her again.

“Garbage? Are you calling my holly garbage?” Holly kicked at the remnants of the crystal chandelier. “I’ll have you know, I personally picked and bundled and wrapped each strand of holly together to make that festive garland.”

“Who cares? Get this place cleaned up and the chandelier fixed and replaced, then leave me alone.” He picked up the fallen ladder and righted it next to the high window overlooking the front door. “And what the heck is that white stuff you smeared all over the window?”

“It’s artificial frost.” Holly removed her gloves and threw them at the bear man. “You better talk to the city fathers before you ruin my artwork.”

“Artwork fartwork! I want every pine needle out of here, and all that scummy frost wiped up. As for the priceless chandelier …” He picked up the jumble of crystals and looped it over Holly’s neck and shoulders. “Don’t come back until this is fixed. And don’t send me the bill. I may have inherited my great-aunt Marney’s estate, but I sure as heck didn’t inherit her good cheer.”

“No, you didn’t inherit a single good thing from her, definitely not good manners.”

A vein on Gordon’s forehead ballooned, and he crossed his arms, biceps bulging noticeably. “If you’re not cleaning up this mess, I’ll hire cleaners and bill it to you. What’s your name again?”

“I never told you.” Holly jutted her jaw at the Neanderthal. Just for kicks she added, “And no, I won’t have dinner with you tonight or any other night, Mr. Gordon Gills.”

What a waste of a good looking man to be so grumpy, but then again, this man with the waxed, hairless arms and smooth tan chest under the collar of his metrosexual mini-sleeved shirt was a tad too plastic for her taste, even if he looked like a typical action figure hero. Short sandy hair, blue eyes, broad shoulders, and don’t forget, that cleft chin, all ruined by his lack of manners and civility.

For once, the grouch’s eyebrows raised, and he scratched the back of his neck, looking either uncomfortable or confused. “You want to go out with me? After what you did to my house?”

“And ruin my merry mood? Never,” Holly reiterated. “I’ll just fa la la la la out of your miserable, wretched, un-gentlemanly, Scroogey life, wearing your Russian chandelier around my neck, and no, I’m not going to wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, or a even nice day. You’ll be hearing from your lawyer.”

“My lawyer?” Gordon Gills’ voice echoed behind her as she sashayed out the double oak doors.

“Yes, the one who authorized me to jolly up your miserable mansion.”

“And who are you, exactly?” Gordon followed her out and placed himself in front of her.

“Why, I’m an elf, and I don’t give my name to strangers.” Holly tossed her hair back and stalked away from the Gills mansion. Thank God, she hadn’t hung the mistletoe yet.

About Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it’s within the pages of a book.

Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, and A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award.

She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She lives in California with her husband and has three children and two birds. (To be notified automatically when this collection comes out, please join my newsletter [get a free Christmas story], and follow me on Amazon. Thanks!)

Takeaway Truth

I hope you enjoyed this unedited draft of Rachelle's novella. Come back next week for another excerpt.

Love Christmas Romance Collection Excerpt by @MimiBarbour

I'm pleased to have the opportunity to reprint the Chapter 1 sneak peaks of each book in the 2016 Romance Collection LOVE CHRISTMAS.

This collection of Christmas novellas, written by 20 bestselling authors and inspired by your favorite Christmas songs, will be available in early October for the holiday season.

I'll post the pre-order date and links as soon as they are available so subscribe to the blog so you don't miss an excerpt or the latest news about what promises to be an amazing holiday romance box set.

The first Chapter 1 excerpt this time is from the fabulous Mimi Barbour. Her bio appears after the excerpt so be sure and read it. Take it away, Mimi!

FrostySnowPup_CVRFrosty the Snowman…Pup!
Holiday Heartwarmers Book #4
By Mimi Barbour

Chapter One
Sneak Peek – unedited version originally published on The Authors Billboard

Ice shards blew against the Cessna’s windshield and vision became limited. The previously relaxed pilot suddenly changed to a man with a mission. Tension ramped up and the earlier warm atmosphere turned cold as fear constricted throats unable to swallow.

“We’re going down aren’t we?” Hali Gibson’s voice hadn’t risen from her normal tones. Not even a little. But inside, hidden deep in her emotions, lived a wild spirit that screeched and then whimpered. I don’t want to die! Not yet. Not now!

Clutching the leather panel in front of her as if by sheer want and personal influence, she could force the noisy plane back up into the blanket of white sleet that had suddenly appeared, she clung and bit back her screams.
The pilot bellowed over the plane’s roar. “I’m afraid so. Hold on! Up ahead, there’s a frozen lake we might use as a landing strip. Maybe we’ll make it.” He aimed his voice toward her and issued orders. “Just don’t panic.”

“I never panic.” She screamed back, her eyes feeling like they were protruding two inches from their sockets.

That got his attention but just for a second. His expression fierce like that of a warrior pitted against an enemy larger than life, he yelled, “Brace yourself!”

In comparison to her own instability, she noted the giant-like man behind the controls appeared ridiculously steady. As if he’d force-landed his small Cessna in the middle of the frozen Alaskan outback any number of times. He kept speaking into his earphones giving their particulars and using the word “Mayday” to get attention.

It had certainly gotten hers. Who could blame her for thinking two voices might add more impact. Her screamed maydays certainly had more force than his.

With only a thin layer of plastic between them and the thickened white sleet that enveloped the small aircraft unexpectedly, the fragile windshield seemed totally inconsequential.

For a few seconds, Hali wished herself back in the small airport in Ketchikan and pictured a sock in her mouth stopping her from insisting she needed to be his passenger. Why in hell had she fought so hard to be here now? God must be punishing her for being so pushy.

Hali listened to the roar of the small engine working as hard as it could, fighting against the elements of nature. She decided that when one faced death, seconds lasted longer, which gave people time to reflect. Why me, Lord?

Forced to endure, she tightened every muscle in her body and prepared to meet her maker.

A humming noise from the pilot caught her attention. Watching him previously manoeuver the small plane, she’d seen the skill it had taken to manipulate the controls, hold the aircraft steady and if sheer will could force this bird through the white wall of hell, he’d be the one to do so. But damn, did he have to sing them to their demise?

What the…? The guy was singing Frosty the Snowman. Of all the crazies in the world, trust her to beg this particular Looneytune to let her come with him just so he could serenade her last moments on earth with a children’s Christmas carol.

Without realizing she would, her voice melded with his only she used the words. If it helped calm his nerves, she was all for it.

On the other hand, he hadn’t yielded to their dilemma, in fact, quite the opposite. As if in hand to hand combat with the devil himself, he fought like a man possessed. Continuing to fly blind, the control panels delivered instrument readings he needed to keep the plane from plunging out of the sky.

Tipping from side to side didn’t help her nerves whatsoever. The harsh roaring of the engines revved to ear-splitting levels. Hali supposed the reverberation had increased because of their escalating descent.

The sudden howling going on from the crate in the rear of the plane ripped at Hali’s soft heart and guilt hit her hard. Because she was a wuss for driving long distances alone, she’d decided to take this bush plane into the wilds of Alaska from Ketchikan to Juneau rather than drive the 300 miles to deliver her cousin’s new puppy. Now, because of her cowardly decision, the gorgeous animal would most likely die

My fault. All my fault. At the airport, after she’d been bumped from the regular flight, she’d beseeched this pilot to let her and the dog come with him. Seems there’s a pecking order in Alaska. If you owned the Airlines, you were first in line and could change the route anytime you wanted, even if Christmas was only a few days away.  Which left paying customers angry but forced to wait for the next flight.

Hali, unexpectedly stranded, had pleaded with this man to no avail. In her excitement, she’d even dropped her suitcase which had flipped open, scattering her belongings everywhere. Like a gentleman should, he’d helped her collect her property, had handed her over underwear, sweaters, even her going-away gift from the girls at the office, which had softened his stubborn expression slightly, but he’d still refused her pleas.

It hadn’t been until the person who’d originally bumped her had his say and a large chunk of money changed hands that the tall man had agreed to the arrangement. Within a few minutes, he’d rounded her up, got them belted into the place and they’d taken off.

Now she was locked into a sardine can, with a complete stranger controlling her life and—go figure… she’d begged to be here.

While her mind was travelling through time, the pilot had pulled off a miracle. They were speeding along a stretch of ice, hovering slightly above the ground. Battered on both sides, the winds didn’t like being robbed of their prey. As the man in charge searched for a place to safely set the little plane down, he fought to keep them from tipping.

With visibility much better at this low altitude, up ahead, Hali saw what he did. There was a sheltered bay surrounded by trees. The lake looked to have less snow. And, cleared from the driving winds, the visible frozen surface invited them to drop in and stay a while.

Singing louder, blended in with sobs of joy, Hali swiped at her eyes, blinked repeatedly and watched the pilot set the plane down as gently as the buffeting wind would allow. Finally, he drove it closer to the shore and brought them to a complete halt.

In seconds, he’d turned off the motor. As if the turning of the key stopped their nightmare, it cut off their mingling voices also.

Hali watched him drop his face into his now shaking hands. Without realizing her intentions, she reached over to touch, pat, wishing she could hug. Finding her own hand enveloped in a tight grip, she didn’t move. For her, connecting in this way with another human being was a normal action and so she allowed them these magical moments before voicing her relief. Truthfully, she’d choked up and words wouldn’t be forced through clogged emotions.

Mimi BarbourAbout Mimi Barbour

Mimi is a New York Times, USA Today & Award-winning Best-selling author who’s sold over 500,000 copies of her books world-wide. Her five romance series include: The Vicarage Bench/ time travel at it’s best, Angels with Attitudes / angels love romance, Vegas / fast-paced plotting, Elvis / make a song a book and her newest – Undercover FBI / with sizzling conflicts and lots of humor.

Mimi’s an author who’s been heard to say: “I’m a story-teller who loves to write uplifting stories about romance and adventure. Add in some time travel, maybe an angel, or even a little romantic suspense and it makes the story more fascinating because of the incredible possibilities.”

Takeaway Truth

Bet you can't wait to read the rest! Come back next Monday for another excerpt.

Love To Make 'Em Laugh

Today is Father's Day, and I'm thinking about my dad. He was a complicated man.

In his youth, with so many other young men, my father stormed the beaches of Normandy. Although he lived to tell the tale, he never told that particular tale.

The war for the most part was a harrowing experience that changed him from a simple southern farm boy to an often-silent man haunted by his experiences.

One thing that survived his ordeal in World War II was his sense of humor. He loved to laugh, and he loved a good joke. In my memory, I can hear his wholehearted laughter and see the way his blue eyes sparkled.

Sense of Humor: Learned Behavior

I too love to laugh. Often, when life is grim and challenging, my family makes jokes. Not because we don't understand the seriousness of a situation, but because we know that laughter binds us close together and gives us strength to face the bad news head on.

In today's world, laughter as a prescription for mental health is touted from medical doctors as well as psychotherapists -- not to mention all the "experts" on just about every television talk show.

Hysterically Funny Films

My mother contributed to my sense of humor by introducing me to the screwball comedies of Hollywood's Golden Era. My love of romantic comedy was fostered by old movies from Mom's teens like Bringing Up Baby and It Happened One Night to the movies she loved when she was a mom with young children like Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back.

Is it any wonder that I write romantic comedy? I slipped into the genre as easily as a slapstick comedian slips on a banana pile. I love writing books that make readers smile. Even the love scenes I write are often laced with laughter.

Old Song Was Right

Remember Donald O'Connor singing Make 'Em Laugh in the 1952 film Singing in the Rain? That song written by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed is a veritable font of wisdom. No joke!

The song asks: "Don't you know everyone wants to laugh?" I believe that's true. I bet you like to laugh. What tickles your funny bone?

This Father's Day, I urge you to share a laugh with your dad, your husband, and the other important men in your life.

For Your Consideration

When you have time to read, I hope you'll take a look at my romantic comedy, SCENTS and SENSUALITY. It's sassy and sexy, and I think it will leave you with a smile.


Perfumer Amanda Whitfield knows the Science of Smell. Harrison Kincaid knows the Science of Computers. But what about the Science of Sex Appeal? Pulsing, throbbing, will-not-be-denied Sex Appeal.

Amanda, desperate for a man to escort her to her snooty cousin's wedding, and Harrison, desperate to put an end to his mom's matchmaking, get blindsided by desire when they are thrown together.

Desire--with a side order of desperation--creates a captivating complication in this sexy, sassy Romance.

About Joan's writing, an Amazon Reviewer said: "Joan's writing is a page turner, the steam builds then explodes..."

Scents and Sensuality is available at these ebook sellers: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords.

Takeaway Truth

Laughter smooths the rough edges of life.

Note: This post previously was published on Smart Girls Read Romance.

Saturday Share: Easy Brunch Casserole

On Sundays, we do brunch after church. Tomorrow is Father's Day which is perfect for a nice brunch for Dad and the rest of the family and friends.

The perfect brunch in my opinion is a chilled jug of orange juice, a carafe of piping hot coffee (Dunkin' Donuts Coffee is our favorite), a large chilled bowl of mixed fruit and a delicious entree like Ham, Bacon, and Swiss Brunch Casserole which is the star of the meal.

This casserole is easy to make since many of the ingredients can be prepared the night before.

Here's the complete list of ingredients, followed by the recipe and how I separate the ingredients into the day before prep and then the baking day prep which sounds far more complicated than it is.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
2 cups milk
8 eggs
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 cups cooked cubed ham
4-6 slices of bacon--fried, drained, and crumbled
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 oz)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
Dash ground black pepper

Ham, Bacon, and Swiss Brunch Casserole

Ingredients to Prep the Night Before

2 eggs beaten well with 1 cup milk stirred in. Cover and store in fridge.
3 cups of cubed ham, covered and stored in fridge.
4-6 slices of bacon, fried, drained, crumbled, and stored in fridge.
Grate or shred 4 ounces of Swiss cheese and store in fridge.
Grate or shred 9 ounces of cheddar cheese and store in fridge.

Final Ingredients for Putting it Together

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup milk
6 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
Dash ground black pepper


Heat oven to 375°F.

Spray 13x9-inch rectangular (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Place the stick of butter in dish and place dish in oven until butter is melted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on heat-proof surface. You'll be adding other ingredients to this dish.

In medium bowl, add 2 cups of Bisquick to the refrigerated mixture of 1 cup of milk and 2 beaten eggs. Mix together until only tiny lumps remain. Pour evenly over the melted butter in the baking dish.

Now, layer the grated Swiss cheese, ham, bacon, and grated Cheddar cheese over the mixture in the casserole dish.

Next, in a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of milk, 6 eggs, and the salt, mustard, and black pepper. Pour over casserole.

Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes to allow it to set up before serving.

Serves 6-8 hearty appetites with each serving having approximately 460 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrates.

Takeaway Truth

Fix brunch for the men in your life tomorrow. Happy Father's Day.

Romance Box Set: Come Love A Cowboy

Whee! Time for another romance box set. This week you get 8 novels which gives you a savings of more than 75% if the 8 books were purchased separately. For those on Kindle Unlimited, this box set is free. If not a subscriber, the box sets--8 books!!!--is only 99 cents.

Come Love A Cowboy

Eight stand-alone Contemporary Western Romance novellas from Bestselling and Award Winning Authors.

From firefighters, bronco busters, and wealthy ranchers to bad boys, we have them all for you! If you've ever wanted to fall in love with a sexy, alpha cowboy of's your chance.

Come Love A Cowboy Titles and Authors

Luke’s Fate by Kathleen Ball

Meg O’Brien hoped never to lay eyes on the one man who broke her heart. To her dismay, Luke Kelly arrives at her ranch a much different and broken man. Can Meg ever forgive his callous treatment of her and help Luke become the man he used to be?

Grant Me The Moon by Caroline Clemmons

All Tory Fraser intended was to show her high school history club students a local archeology dig. How could she know the excursion would involve a murder?

Three for The Win by Keta Diablo

Hollis should have known better than to fall for a bone-melting man like Stede. He’s gone now and Eli is left to pick up the broken pieces of her life.

Border Affair by Hebby Roman

When his partners’ daughter is kidnapped in México, a self-made millionaire must confront his feelings about their affair and the future of their relationship.

Leaving Necessity by Margo Bond Collins

Mac has one week to convince his ex-girlfriend Clara not to sell his oil company. In this high-pressure reunion, can they strike love again?

The Shape of Destiny by Julie A. D’Arcy

A young male shape shifter. A beautiful female ranch owner. Can love be born in a web of deceit?

Bad Boy, Big Heart by Andrea Downing

She’s a New Yorker escaping her parents. He’s a Wyoming cowboy supporting his dad. One summer, two young people—three months to find love.

Desert Heat by Patti Sherry-Crews

A single mother struggling to keep her guest ranch puts her own desires on hold. When a handsome and persistent fireman sets his sights on her, she must decide how much she’s willing to give.

Add Come Love A Cowboy to your digital library: Amazon Kindle Universal Link.

Takeaway Truth

Another opportunity to claim 8 novels for only 99 cents--or free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. Get Come Love A Cowboy today.

Maintaining Garden Like Maintaining Career

I spent the morning weeding my rose garden. The weeds pulled easily since the ground was so soft from nearly a month of rain. As I removed the impediments to a beautiful, healthy garden, I found myself thinking how maintaining a garden was like maintaining a career.

Weeds Plague Gardens and Careers

A beautiful garden needs tending. So does a career. The problems that plague a garden are obvious: pool soil condition, insufficient water, not enough sunshine, and the aforementioned weeds.

The problems that plague a career are very similar: poor support where you're "planted," insufficient "watering" with new ideas to create growth, not enough "sunshine" or validation to encourage you, and "weeds" that should be removed lest they choke the life out of your career. Those pesky weeds might mean drifting along without doing anything to improve your situation.

If one applies those ideas to a writing career:
  • poor support means you don't have a cheer team to keep you "up"
  • not "watering" your career with new ideas, new blog posts, new books published regularly
  • not getting enough reviews to make you realize your books are being read and appreciated
  • not controlling the weeds until they nearly kill your career.
Weeds that threaten a writing career are:
  • ignoring social media
  • not learning how to place effective advertising
  • not updating your websites
  • not keeping readers who like your work informed about your works in progress
  • not keeping up with popular culture including apps and tech.
Takeaway Truth

Always do your best to pay attention to your writing career. I know it's hard. I've been faced with chronic medical problems for my family since 2009 so I've had to choose family first. My career has suffered, but I still keep trying. If you're in a similar situation, never give up. Just keep trying and hoping that life will eventually be a bouquet of roses--with the thorns removed.

8 Relaxation Tips

In today's world, it's often difficult to just unwind and relax, clearing your mind of all the "should do's" and "must do's" before you can call it quits for the night. Then when you try to sleep, the sleep just won't come.

Almost 70% of Americans say they have sleep problems. Of that group, about half suffer from insomnia.

I'm in that half. Sometimes sleep just won't come. I find myself exhorting myself to just relax and fall asleep. Relax, right? Often just telling myself to relax gets me humming the eighties song by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Then I'm wide awake.

(By the way, the song Relax should be very familiar to you. It's been used in the films Body Double, Police Academy, Gotcha!, Zoolander, The Proposal, and probably others that I can't recall. It was also featured in several TV series episodes, video games, and TV commercials.)

8 Relaxation Recommendations

Everybody tells you to relax, but hardly anyone tells you how to relax--without benefit of pharmaceuticals. Most advice is as follows:

1. Have a light bedtime snack such as graham crackers spread with cottage cheese. This works because cottage cheese is high in protein, and the carb-rich whole grain crackers boost tryptophan. A small glass of milk will probably work also, but it's protein isn't 100% casein as in cottage cheese. Plus milk has more carbs.

Another good snack is banana and low-fat milk. You can blend it in a smoothie if you want. My mom always loved her glass of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey.

2. Drink something soothing like a cup of green tea or ginger tea. Add a couple of dates to boost the effect.

3. Have a cup of fresh cherries, one of the only natural sources of melatonin.

4. Munch a handful of walnuts. They're a good source of tryptophan, that wonderful sleep-enhancing amino acid which makes the most of your serotonin and melatonin. Also, walnuts contain their own source of melatonin.

5. Give yourself a foot massage. Your feet support your entire body weight all day long. Do they ever hurt at the end of the day? You can get instant relaxation by massaging your feet. Roll your feet over a golf ball. Then massage the toes and the instep. Then repeat with the golf ball.

6. Brush your hair. Even if it's short, brush with a natural bristle brush. This can give allover relaxation.

7. Practice deep breathing like yoga relaxation breathing. There are many YouTube videos like this one that show how to do this.

8. Start a journal. Dump all your worries, anxieties, and misery into it. Then end your entry with some gratitudes--those things that bless you and your life. This switches the focus to the positive and should ensure a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Takeaway Truth

Just check the Internet for other relaxation tips.

Saturday Share: Grapefruit Mint Dessert Salad

This Saturday, the recipe I'm sharing is so easy that I hesitate to call it a recipe.


* Del Monte Sun Fresh Red Grapefruit Sections
* Fresh mint leaves, washed

The Del Monte Grapefruit comes in 2 ways: packed in light syrup or No Sugar Added.

Add however much grapefruit you want to a pretty glass bowl.

Lightly crush the mint leaves to bring out the aroma. Add the mint to the grapefruit.

Refrigerate until you're ready to serve. This makes a delicious salad that's almost like a palate cleanser. It also makes a wonderful light dessert to end the meal--especially a meal like summer barbeque.

Takeaway Truth

Light, fat free, and low calorie, this summery salad/dessert is an easy way too add more fruit to one's diet.

Nature Is Amusing

I've had a lemon tree that I've nurtured for 3 years. It seems to attract white flies like steel attracts magnets.

The poor tree is stunted. I doubt it's even a foot taller than when planted three years ago. It's received the same kind of fertilizer and water as the other plantings, but it hasn't thrived.

Darling hubby and I were out on the deck a couple of weeks ago, and I said, "I think we should remove that lemon tree. It's never produced any lemons, and it's straggly and stunted. We should plant something that will actually produce like a fig tree."

Did The Tree Hear Me

This morning I was outside watering the pot plants. I was studying the lemon tree and imagining something else there when I noticed there was a great big lemon on it!

I started moving branches and found 4 more lemons. Wow. Maybe the tree overheard our conversation and decided it had better bear some fruit. *LOL*

Frowny-Face Oak Tree

During all the rain I happened to glance at the big oak in my front yard. Darn if I didn't notice what seemed like a frowning face in the bark. Here's the picture I took. Can you see the frown? Kind of a one-eyed face with a frown?

Takeaway Truth

Nature can produce some interesting visual effects, can't it?

Thursday3Some: 3 Romance Box Sets

Today on #Thursday3Some I have 3 new Romance box sets to thrill and excite you.

At a bargain price of only 99 cents for each, you'll score big if you get all 3 because that means more books to add to your summer reading fun. As the TV dumb commercial says, "More is better."

So let's get started on this Thursday3Some bargain.

To Protect and Love

When the oath to protect and serve tangles with love, expect sparks and lots of heat! Hot firemen, alpha cops, sexy detectives, and dashing federal agents!

To Protect and Love is an anthology from 9 best-selling and award-winning authors.

These stories will have you rooting for your favorite heroes and heroines. Join in the journey as they step up to the greatest challenge of their lives--to protect and love.

To Protect and Love Authors and Titles
  • Mimi Barbour - Special Agent Finnegan
    Love for his father makes a man weak. So what’ll happen if Finnegan gives his heart to a woman? Can he take the chance to find out?
  • Jude Ouvrard - Not Afraid to Love You
    Escaping a life that nearly destroyed her soul, Lilly struggles to cope with the aftermath of an abusive relationship. Can her high school crush, Lennox, release her heart from its cage?
  • Jacquie Biggar - The Sheriff Meets His Match
    When a jaded sheriff is drawn to an exasperating woman in trouble, anything can happen.
  • Melissa Keir - Protecting His Wolfe
    Passion has a way of igniting when people are under stressful situations, but is Betsie and Jonah's relationship a matter of desire, or is it something more?
  • Lyssa Layne - Love is a Fire
    Dr. Katy Malone has sworn off love while firefighter Nick Garrity is on a search for the future Mrs. Garrity. One look at Dr. Malone and Nick knows he's found his future wife but can he convince her to love again?
  • Stacy Eaton - Distorted Loyalties
    Emergency room Doctor Rachel Wilde and Detective Grant Murphy meet by chance and it takes only one glance and a simple touch to ignite their senses. When Grant’s wife is in a tragic accident, Rachel goes above and beyond to save her life.
  • Jade Kerrion - Crushed
    Financially ruined by the death of her brother, Felicity Rivers is down to her last hundred dollars when Cody Hart offers his help, at a price. She’s out of options, but nothing on Earth could possibly entice her into the arms of the man who killed her brother.
  • Chantel Rhondeau - Crime & Passion
    A decorated police officer, more intent on justice than following the letter of the law, lands introuble when a gorgeous schoolteacher finds a dead body on the beach.
  • Bonnie Edwards - Love in a Pawn Shop
    For Dix life is about unexpected obstacles like family obligations. Why'd Dane walk in when all Dix wants is out? Dane must prove love is more than another complication.
Get To Protect and Love Today for only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle. Also available at other ebook sellers.

The Market Series: 3 Novels by Sorcha Mowbray

The Market Series where love is revealed, redeemed, and even reclaimed in naughty Victorian England.
  • Love Revealed
    When Lord Raymond Tarkenton, the Earl of Heathington realizes that his masked lover and Lady Katherine Drummond are one and the same, he must find a way to convince her that they are bound together by more than the straps at her wrists and the contract they signed. He must reveal himself and his love to her.
  • Love Redeemed
    To find happiness Serena Freemont must shed her soiled past long enough to realize she is worthy of a future. To win her heart, Brennan Whitling must show her the redemptive power of love.
  • Love Reclaimed
    Madame Marie Marchander is out to prove to her former fiancé that she is not in need of saving. Jonathan Pierce, Baron Heartfield, has only one goal: to reclaim her love.
These 3 novels were previously-published and are now bundled together. The Market Series is on pre-order and will publish on July 16, 2016.

Buy it now for $5.99 on Amazon Kindle.

21 Shades of Night

Limited Edition Paranormal Boxed Set by 21 NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling Authors. 21 of today’s most romantic, bewitching titles. The best value in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, Yours for a Limited Time!

Haunting and Otherwordly...Every selection in this rare, limited edition paranormal romance boxed set are full-length novels and novellas!

This collection, packed with a gorgeous combination of bone-chilling urban fantasies and steamy paranormal romances, is a box set you won’t soon forget. Sexy shifters, hot vampires, wickedly cool witches, gargoyles, and so much more--a boxed set that has something for everyone. Take your pick!

With one million words of romantic paranormal fiction, this boxed set will light up your night with vampires, witches, warriors, and more! 100 hours of reading means you’re paying a penny per sixty minutes of enjoyment. Doesn't get more magical than that!

21 Shades of Night Authors and Titles
  • Sarah Makela, NY Times Bestselling Author – Beneath the Broken Moon
  • Anna Zaires, NY Times Bestselling Author – Close Liaisons 
  • Kressley & Hamilton, USA Today Bestselling Authors – Taken by the Beast 
  • J. E. Taylor, USA Today Bestselling Author – Night Hawk 
  • JC Andrijeski, USA Today Bestselling Author – Rook 
  • Angel Lawson, USA Today Bestselling Author – The Lost Queen 
  • Noree Cosper, USA Today Bestselling Author – A Prescription for Delirium 
  • K. de Long, USA Today Bestselling Author – Reaper 
  • Susan Stec, USA Today Bestselling Author – Purgatory 
  • Terry Spear, USA Today Bestselling Author – Forbidden Love 
  • Jacqueline Sweet, USA Today Bestselling Author – The Wolf, the Witch, and the Wasteland 
  • Lisa Carlisle, USA Today Bestselling Author – Knights of Stone: Mason 
  • Eden Ashe, International Bestselling Authorr – Hunter Undone 
  • LJ Swallow, International Bestselling Author – Soul Ties 
  • Amber Ella Monroe, International Bestselling Author – Wolf in Exile 
  • Laxmi Hariharan, International Bestselling Author – The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer 
  • Joanne Wadsworth, International Bestselling Author – Highlander’s Kiss 
  • CJ Flynn, International Bestselling Author – The Watcher’s Daughter 
  • Skyla Madi, International Bestselling Author – Dark Wings 
  • C.P. Mandara, International Bestselling Author – Desiring Death 
  • Catherine Stine, International Bestselling Author – Witch of the Cards
When purchased separately, these books cost over $50! But they are yours today for less than $1. Grab this collection today before it’s gone for good! Available on Amazon Kindle and other ebook sellers.

Takeaway Truth

There you have it readers! Another great day of book bargains.

Wounded Hearts: Love Conquers All: Box Set By Jacquie Biggar

My friend Jacquie Biggar has put together her first box set.

About Jacquie Biggar

Bestselling author, Jacquie Biggar, loves writing Romantic Suspense with tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they're gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love.

She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.

Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can't function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. :)

Jacquie's box set, Wounded Hearts, features the men and women of Tidal Falls, the fictional town in Washington state she created. (This is one of the perks of being an author. You get to create entire towns!)

Find Jacquie Online

Subscribe to her free NL and find her online at: Website * Facebook * 2nd Facebook Account * Twitter * Amazon Author Page. (Follow Jacquie's website and check out her giveaways page where you'll find tons of great prizes every month!)

About Wounded Hearts: Love Conquers All

Join the men and women of Tidal Falls as they learn love can conquer any odds.

Hot new adventure romance super bundle of 4 romance novels.

Spice up your summer with 4 action-adventure romance stories set in the quaint little town of Tidal Falls, Washington, where all is not what it seems.

Fall in love with your next book boyfriend! Sexy Navy SEALs, Sheriffs, mercenaries, and more.

Wounded Hearts: Love Conquers All is free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber. Otherwise, you can buy the collection for $4.99. (Remember, it's 4 full-length novels! Find it on Amazon and  Goodreads.

Takeaway Truth

It's book bargain time again: 4 novels for $4.99. Grab it quick!

How To Claim Free Audiobook from Audible

You'll find the audiobook editions of most of my novels at Audible. I'm happy to say that Audible is great about providing free codes to authors for special promotions.

I give away audiobooks every month, but I discovered not everyone knows how to claim a free audiobook from Audible so I always give instructions when awarding the prize.

I run this post a couple of times a year so readers can broaden their horizons with audiobooks--another way to stay abreast of popular fiction. When you love to read, but don't have the time, audiobooks fill the gap.


Leave a comment on today's post with your email and be entered to win a free audiobook of your choice. Giveaway closes Sunday, June 12 at midnight. Winner chosen by random draw and will be notified by email no later than 1 week from closing date.

8 Easy Steps to Claim Free Audiobook from Audible

1. Go to the Audible book page for the specified book.

2. Add that audiobook to your cart.

3. If you are prompted to sign in, please login. If you don't have an Audible account, just create a new Audible account. It's easy and free.

4. Click Go to Your Cart.

5. Below the cover artwork, you'll see Do you have a promotional code? Click that.

6. Enter the promotion code you've been given. Just cut and paste it in from the email you probably received or the FB message. Click Apply Code.

7. A credit for the audiobook will be added to your account. Click the box next to 1 Credit and click the Update button to apply the credit to the purchase. The price for the audiobook will change to $0.00.

8. Proceed through the checkout by clicking Next Step and Complete Purchase on the subsequent page.

When you go to your download, you may select from several options to download and listen to the audiobook on your iPod, cell phone, computer, etc. I think just about every device is covered.

9. Listen, enjoy, tell your friends, post a short review. (Technically this is not a step in order to claim the free book, but it's really a nice thank you to the author and narrator.)

Here are my current audiobooks. More will be added this year. Click on the link, listen to the sample, and select the one you want to receive if your name is chosen as the winner.

Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones

Just One Look

Nobody's Cinderella

Old Enough to Know Better

Romeo and Judy Anne

Scents and Sensuality

Still The One

The Trouble With Love

Takeaway Truth

Remember to leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. If you win, you can see for yourself how easy it is.

Readers, sign up for WordPlay, Joan's Mailing List/Free NL. Writers, subscribe to WritingHacks, Joan's free NL for authors with tips to make your writing business easier.

Connect with Joan Online: Blog * Website * Facebook * Google+ * Pinterest * Twitter * YouTube

10 Reasons Summer Is A Good Book Setting

I think lazy summer days and hot summer nights make a perfect backdrop for a romance novel--especially if you're writing a sassy, sexy romance.

I use the Texas summer heat in my Texas One-Night Stands series. (The one-night stands aren’t exactly what you might think. *g*)

10 Reasons Why Summer Is a Good Setting

1. Men with shirts off. Let’s be honest. Men tend to take their shirts off when it’s hot. Usually this won’t make a woman stop and stare. In fact, you may wish you could un-see some sights.

(I’m thinking of my middle-aged, pot-bellied bachelor neighbor of twenty years ago who wore only a Speedo when he mowed his lawn. {shudder})

But then there are men like my husband who is still well-built and gorgeous. He does push-ups and sit-ups every morning. (No, he didn’t pose for the cover of The Trouble With Love, but I tell him he could have.)

2. Women wear less clothing. That makes for a sexy situation for the hero of the novel. He can be enchanted by the curve of her…shoulder. Or the long lines of her legs. Less definitely equals more in a romance novel–at least when it comes to clothes.

3. People are more relaxed and casual in the summer. Most of the working world and the student world look forward to unwinding in the summer. People automatically think of fun when it comes to hot weather: beaches, swimming, sunbathing at the pool, backyard barbeque, picnics, etc.

4. Summer is the season when people are more open emotionally. High temperatures translate to high emotion. Live Science looked into the theory of “Summer Love.” Did they find that there is a biological and a social science reason that people are more open to falling in love during this season? Apparently, they did if you believe their research based on pop culture. (Interesting article. Be sure and read it.)

5. People are more open to trying new things in the summer. That just might include a new romantic relationship. It’s as if people are in a box from September through May. Summer arrives and they want to not only think outside the box, they want to jump out of it and maybe into a new box.

6. Vacation time is the time to make a love connection. At least, that’s what this year’s Expedia article Romance on Vacation says. Again, read this if only for the statistics it quotes, i.e., 52% of respondents said they would be “somewhat or very likely” to propose on vacation. (Good news for long-suffering girlfriends. Get your sweetie to book a trip!)

7. Summer lowers inhibitions. The Expedia article cited stats from respondents who admit trying something that they’d never do otherwise–like nude sun bathing.

8. Summer food. You know the old axiom: “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” I make fun of that truism in my romantic comedy, JANE (I’m Still Single) JONES, with one of the characters saying: “If you think that’s true, you don’t know much about male anatomy.” But there is a nugget of truth in that. I’ve never seen a man who didn’t like good food. Summer time is perfect for feeding your guy chocolate cake and ice cream or luscious fruit salads. Learn how to make homemade ice cream, and your man will stick to you like glue. Or that's the theory at least.

9. Summer movies. Yes, most of them are outrageous stunt-filled vehicles for aging action stars, but there are some romantic movies that are the perfect backdrop for cuddling with your sweetie.

10. Beach books. Need I say more? There’s an entire industry of publishers producing books to tempt readers who make more time to read in the summer. I’ve even got a video about some of my beach books, HIT THE BEACH: Sand, Surf, & 4 Romances.


What do you think? Are there other reasons hot summer nights are good romance settings? Or do you think winter is better because it’s snuggle weather? Leave a comment with your email address and be entered to win the audio book edition of The Trouble With Love. (Ebook available at most ebook sellers including Amazon Kindle.)

Takeaway Truth

I’ve received fan mail from men who say after they retired, they started reading my books with their wives. Good for them. I always say if a man wants to know what a woman wants, he should read a good romance novel.

(Note: Part of this post was previously published on The Authors Billboard.)

Quote for the Week: Take Action

A lot of people want to:
  • achieve something amazing
  • make changes in their lives
  • build new habits that serve them better.
People think about these things all the time. They want to do them. But another week passes and nothing changes.


Because they think more than act. They mull, analyze, muse, ponder, reflect--constantly.

What they fail to do is take action to make those changes.

Anthony Robbins said: "A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided."

Takeaway Truth

Choose one thing you want, and every single day, do at least one thing toward achieving the thing you want.

Summer Lemon Dessert

Real Soufflé But My Fake Looks Similar
Will the rain ever stop? Houston is reminding me of monsoon season in southeast Asia. I remember one September in Okinawa when it poured rain every single day. That was not the good old days.

Cranky Pants

I guess it's a cranky pants day. Especially so when I realized this post wasn't set up to publish earlier today. So I'm in, editing and wearing my cranky pants.

Maybe I need dessert. There's still some left in the fridge. That should put me in a better mood.

I made my favorite lemon dessert that just shouts summertime and sunshine. It's easy to make and all you need besides the basics is one lemon. You'll love this, I guarantee!

Psst. It's really a pudding, but I call it a soufflé. Well, a fake soufflé.

Lazy Lemon Fake Soufflé


· 1 cup white sugar
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 4 tablespoons plain white flour
· 1 lemon
· 2 eggs
· 1 cup milk
· 1 tablespoon melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Select an ovenproof baking dish that will make a lovely presentation since you’ll be serving directly from the baking dish. Also put on some water to boil for step 6.

2. Grate the rind of the lemon until you have 2 teaspoons of rind. Squeeze the lemon to yield at least 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. In a bowl, mix sugar, salt, flour, rind, and juice.

3. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a glass or metal bowl, not plastic. (Egg whites won’t beat well in plastic.) In a large measuring cup or small bowl, beat the yolks, milk, and butter. Add this to the flour mixture. Then beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold this into the flour mixture.

4. Pour the mixture into the ovenproof bowl. Set the dish in a larger ovenproof pan. Pour hot water in the outer pan. (This technique is called a water bath, and it keeps soufflés and puddings from burning or getting hard on the bottom and sides.) The water should come up the side of the baking dish holding the pudding about an inch.

5. Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. You know it’s done when you insert a knife around the sides and there’s no liquid left because it’s all been absorbed.

6. Serves 4-6. This delicate lemon dessert is as light and delicious as any soufflé you’ve ever had, but it’s much easier to make which is why I call it a lazy soufflé. Oh, and it’s good either hot or cold.

Perfect Combo: Dessert & Romance Novel

Whip up this dessert, chill it, and spoon it up while you read one of my sassy, sexy romantic comedies!

Takeaway Truth

Bon appetit! Bonne lecture! (Good Reading)

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Find Joan Online: Blog ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Twitter ~ YouTube)

In a Flood, Don't Forget The Dog!

Dogs depend on Humans for help.
Yes, it's flooded again in Houston. H-Town is often called the Bayou City. I'm beginning to think the bayou is trying to reclaim the city! Every creek, bayou, river, and drainage canal is over the banks I think. I have no idea how many people and homes have been affected this time. 

Save The Dog!

Two nights ago on the news, there was film footage of a dog that apparently had been left to fend for itself when the homeowners evacuated during the rising water.

Houston and surrounding counties have been inundated with flood waters, and it happens really fast. I don't want to make a moral judgment about the dog's owners. Maybe they were away at work and couldn't get in once their property flooded.

However, the dog was tied to a porch post which in itself is not a good practice even in good weather.

Luckily, a news team came by in an airboat and saw the dog. Only the dog's head was barely above water as the dog treaded water, trying to save itself.

They rescued the dog. The poor thing collapsed on the floor of the airboat. I can only imagine how long it must have been treading water, waiting for a human to come and save it. The dog is doing fine. People have called the TV station to find out if they could adopt the brave dog. I'd take it in a heartbeat.

Be Prepared For Your Pet's Sake

When small creeks become raging rivers, animals need to be saved too.

Yes, it's hard to find shelters that will take animals in these dire situations, but some are available. The best plan is to be prepared and learn what to do before the emergency happens.

A few years ago, I wrote a post with some great quotations about dogs. I thought I'd excerpt it here.

My Favorite Dog Quotes

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. ~ Will Rogers

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts. ~ John Steinbeck

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog. ~ Franklin P. Jones

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person. ~ Andy Rooney

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. ~ Robert Benchley

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons. ~ James Thurber

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth! ~ Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea. ~ Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~ Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!' ~ Dave Barry

Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell. ~ Emily Dickinson

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them. ~ Phil Pastoret

If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. ~ President Harry S. Truman

Takeaway Truth

Are dogs mankind's best friend? I think so.

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