5 Blogging Mistakes & How To Fix Them

Do you hate blogging because it's (1) hard, (2) an onerous chore, or (3) no visible results or feedback from readers?

Blogging should be fun for you and the reader. Maybe you're making these 5 blogging mistakes without realizing it. No problem. These mistakes can be easily fixed.

5 Blogging Mistakes and How to Fix Them

1. Posting blogs infrequently.

The Fix: Consistent blogging is what builds an audience. Your audience wants to know that you'll blog every day or every third day or once a week. Whatever you do, set a schedule, tell your audience, and honor that commitment.

2. Posting blogs that amount to "buy me" infomercials.

The Fix: Even if your blog is devoted to writing and/or reading, no one wants to read content that screams "buy my book." When you have a new release, it's okay to promote that. Just be careful not to overdo it. Make your content something informative, entertaining, or whatever suits your voice.

The best case scenario is to tie the entertaining and compelling content to your book if possible. For instance, if the setting of your book is a winery, then discuss your favorite wines. If you can't tie the post to the book you want to promote, just show the cover at the end of the post with a, "For Your Consideration" paragraph about the book with a buy link.

3. Posting blogs that do not meet your target audience's expectations.

The Fix: Who is your target audience? Are they people wanting to know how to write a book? Are they readers wanting to know about your books? Or about you as an author? Are they general web visitors who want to see who you are and what you're about? Identify your target audience and write content that appeals to them.

4. Posting blogs that are really long.

The Fix: It's a fact that most web visitors will not read extremely long posts. You lose them once they get way past the fold. The eye just sees this huge long article, and they decide they don't have the time to read that so they leave. Keep your content interesting, relevant, and succinct. Shorter is always better.

5. Posting blogs not formatted for internet reading.

The Fix: Some novice bloggers don't realize online content should be formatted differently from print articles. Content should be broken into easily-read sections with each section having a sub-heading. These smaller chunks make it easier to read online. The eye skims to the sub-heading--preferably in bold to stand out--and easily assimilates the content.

Takeaway Truth

If you've been making these 5 blogging mistakes, stop it, and fix the problem as detailed above.

11 Ways to Prepare for a Disaster

The Tax Day Houston Flood, as the deluge last week is being called, is ever present in most of us in this corner of Texas.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to post about how to prepare for a disaster. No, I'm not going to tell you to arm yourselves like you'll be fighting zombie hordes. There are many emergency preparedness things you can do. The ones that follow are the main ones that will get you through a short crisis.

Preparation Is Everything

When Mother Nature throws a hissy fit, you better have an emergency kit already in place that will help you get through the situation.

Many natural disasters also feature power outages that can continue days after the event causing the disaster is over. How do you entertain kids and spouses who are accustomed to whiling away the hours with electronic devices and digital entertainment?

How do you feed a hungry family when you have only an electric stove and microwave--and a rapidly-defrosting freezer and refrigerator?

How do you keep a sense of safety when all the lights are out and the security alarm is off?


1. You better have board games and decks of cards so you can introduce them to the old-fashioned way of having fun.

2. Stacks of books geared to their taste. After all, a Kindle will hold a charge only so long.

3. Get a couple of jigsaw puzzles the whole family can piece together and drawing paper, coloring books, activity books, crayons, and such for the younger kids. Heck, get some adult coloring books while you're at it.

Food and Water

1. Get in the habit of always keeping a couple of cases of bottled water for emergency use. A gallon of water for drinking per person is a rule of thumb. If your water supply is interrupted, you'll also need water for brushing teeth, cooking, and sanitation.

2. Get a camp stove. Even frozen dinners can be scooped out and heated in a pan on a camp stove. Water can be boiled for coffee.

3. Get an old fashioned coffee maker like a coffee press or my personal favorite, a drip coffee pot where boiling water is poured into the top compartment and it drips through the middle section filled with coffee grounds and comes out in the bottom section as coffee.

4. Keep a supply of canned goods in case the power is out a long time. Once after a hurricane, we didn't have power for almost 2 weeks. With that long a period of time, the stuff in the freezer will defrost and rot before you can use it all. That's why so many people have block party barbecues when there's no power.

Safety and Security

1. Have a flashlight in every room and check them every month to make sure the batteries are strong.

2. Keep a supply of batteries for those flashlights and anything else you might need that's battery operated. Store them in a cool, dry place. Lithium disposable batteries last the longest.

3. Kids who grow up in cities with the false security of alarm systems and well-lit nights may feel extremely anxious when the lights go out. Plan in advance how you'll make a game of it to get them intellectually invested rather than emotionally. One way might be to look at the stars and discuss the constellations. Or, if you grew up in a rural area, use this opportunity to tell them about your childhood.

4. Teach your children about the dangers of walking in flooded streets and what to watch out for in case they must. Talk to them about safe practices like not driving into flooded areas. Communication makes anything better.

Takeaway Truth

If you have a tip, post it in a reply.

3 Documentaries To Interest Writers

On the Home Front: Things are almost back to normal in Houston except every time it clouds up, everyone gets anxious. The most expansive flood waters that remain are in the reservoirs and rivers. 

There was an interesting article in the Houston Chronicle this past Sunday about the reasons for all these floods in areas that have never flooded before. It all has to do with developers and builders not building required rainwater retention ponds because of "grandfathering" and using legal loopholes.

Is it okay that these developers and builders do this just because they can? No!! While it may be legal, it is morally wrong and irresponsible.

But I digress. I came to tell you about 3 documentaries I saw on Netflix that are great research material for writers. You can find them on Amazon are other websites where you can stream videos.

American Experience: The Poisoner's Handbook

Fascinating documentary about the 2 men who developed the field of forensics. If you write historical mysteries, this is a must see. This was so interesting that I watched it twice.

Some stories this film are heartbreaking. In today's world, it's hard to believe that radium was once touted as a health tonic. People drank it to be healthy. So was it any wonder that young women who worked in a watch factory, painting the numbers on watch dials for glow-in-the-dark watches, would also paint their fingernails with it?

Meet the Patels: A Real Life Romantic Comedy

This is a wonderful film that should interest anyone who believes that love conquers all. "With his 30th birthday just around the corner, Ravi Patel finds himself in a love triangle with the woman of his dreams and his parents." Of course, Ravi's parents want--insist--that he marry a nice Indian girl. There's only one problem. I'll let you watch this affectionate portrait of a son who wants to please his parents. You'll figure out his problem as you watch the film. I loved this film because it affirms my belief that there really is someone for everyone even if that someone isn't what you wanted or expected. Great for those who write romance.

Unsung Heroes: The Story of America's Female Patriots

Everyone needs to see this, but it's particularly of interest to those interested in recent history as a background for novels. This portrait of the women who served the United States from Revolutionary War to present day should be seen by all. It will stir your imagination and your emotions. I found it of particular interest because my mom worked in a "shell" plant during WWII. The shell referred to the cannon shells the plant made for the war effort.

Takeaway Truth

Documentaries offer an easy way to learn information that may serve you as a writer or as a human being.

Flood in Houston: How We Spent Monday

Cypress Creek: usually a trickle of water.
As I said in a post I wrote for Gems in the Attic yesterday, I certainly prefer a nice April shower than a "world is coming to an end" rain like we had in Houston yesterday!

Monday, April 18, was an unhappy experience that began at 1am for us when the power went off.

Through the long night, we listened to rain and hail pound the roof--and wind so loud that I wondered if a tornado had passed overhead. I've heard that kind of sound before when I was a kid, and it's so distinctive that you never forget it. I did see some trees snapped off in the boulevard about a mile away so who knows?

Yesterday, we went out in our pickup just to drive and try to charge the cell phones. Crossed over Cypress Creek about 1.5 miles from home. Water just beneath the bottom of the bridge there. Up ahead barricades were in place going west on Cypresswood. We kept going straight, through the intersection and saw on the right a shopping center (designed in a low place with the stores built up so you climb about 3 feet of steps to reach store level) had water up to the stores.

On the left, a large vacant field looked like an ocean as far as you could see. People were kayaking there. We drove on in hopes of grabbing a Little Caesar's Hot and Ready Pizza. Unfortunately, everyone else who could get out and drive had the same idea. So we decided to go to Whataburger which was inundated with hungry people trying to charge devices and get a hot meal.

We passed the post office where throngs of really unhappy people were circling the post office in an effort to mail their tax returns.

We turned in at Kroger's where white car is
We kept driving and turned on Champion Forest Drive and headed south, thinking we'd just make a big square from where we started, go to Jason's Deli, and then back home. We were dismayed to see water in parts of the northbound side of the street.

We got as far as the Kroger's where Cypresswood crosses Champion Forest, which backs up to where we live. Across the intersection, Champion Forest Drive was under water.

So we turned left. That end of Cypresswood was also under water. We drove through the Kroger's parking lot as far as we could go, and came out on the end where the flood water was just starting to fill the northbound lane.

At this point, our cells had enough charge that we just came home because every bridge we had crossed had water level with the roadway. We spent the afternoon visiting with all the neighbors who were exchanging stories of what they'd seen while out and about. We were all stunned at the flooding.

We've lived in Houston more than 30 years. We've been through hurricanes, tropical storms, and spring thunderstorms. We've never seen anything like this.

Takeaway Truth

Since 2013, there's been a Houston flood every year. One can only conclude that the weather patterns have changed for the worse.

Funny Floater: Life Reflections 2016

My good friend Frank sent this Internet Floater to me. I asked him the source, and, of course, it was something he got from a friend, who got it from a friend, etc.

I really hate not to know the source so I can give credit where credit is due. So I tried to track down the source. I found it posted on several Facebook pages and blogs--all with no attribution.

If you know who wrote this, let me know so I can credit with a bio and web links.

Life Reflections, 2016

• My goal for 2016 was to lose just 10 pounds. Only 15 to go.

• Ate salad for dinner! Mostly croutons and tomatoes. Really just one big round crouton covered with tomato sauce. And cheese. Fine! It was a pizza.

• I learned how to prepare Tofu: (1) Throw it in the trash. (2) Grill some Meat.

• I just did a week's worth of cardio after walking into a spider web.

• I don't mean to brag but I finished my 14-day diet in 3 hours and 20 minutes.

• A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men who mention it.

• Kids today don't know how easy they have it. When I was young, I had to walk 9 feet through shag carpet to change the TV channel.

• I may not be that funny or athletic or good looking or smart or talented--where was I going with this?

• A thief broke into my house last night. He started searching for money so I woke up and searched with him.

• I think I'll just put an Out of Order sticker on my forehead and call it a day

Takeaway Truth

Life is easier to take when you laugh every day.

New Book Alert: Special Agent Kandice by Mimi Barbour

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mimi Barbour has done it again: a new book--Special Agent Kandice--in her Undercover FBI Romantic Suspense Series.

About Special Agent Kandice

Powerful, thrilling and character-driven, this romantic suspense is a real page-turner.

Special Agent indeed, Kandice Warner is everyone’s best friend. Talk about a Barbie doll! This female might have the same pretty-girl looks but even though she has a tender heart, she also has the resilience needed for a very successful FBI Hostage Negotiator. Feelings of inadequacy constantly force her to prove that she’s tough, and she demonstrates her courage when dealing with a murderous bank robber, a desperate jumper, being stalked, kidnapped and beaten. But her tender heart can get her in trouble and she needs to grow a thicker skin. Almost impossible when her obstinate new boss, for reasons of his own, interferes in everything she does.

Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division in Washington, Dan Black is as hard as they come. With the grit of a street youth stiffening his resolve, he’s worked his way up through the ranks, his personal space shields as strong as ever. Until he sees the sweetest things on two legs! A girl from his past. The one he’s never been able to forget. Working undercover in the Seattle bureau, he tries to protect his childhood fantasy but she refuses to stay put or take orders. Faced with a woman like that, what’s a mere man to do?

Enter the Giveaway on Goodreads.

Add Special Agent Kandice to Your Library from Amazon Kindle.

Takeaway Truth

Saturday is here. Why not select Special Agent Kandice for your weekend reading entertainment?

Basics for Writers: Viewpoint

How many different viewpoints are there? Most people say there are 5, those being First Person, Second Person, Third Person, Omniscient, and Modified Omniscient.

Purists say there are 8: First Person Protagonist, Third Person Protagonist, First Person Supporting Character, Third Person Supporting Character, First Person Minor Character, Third Person Minor Character, First Person Shifting, and Third Person Shifting.

Of course, there can be variations on the basics. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird in First Person using Restricted Omniscient. James Jones wrote From Here to Eternity in Third Person Unrestricted Omniscient. John LeCarre wrote The Spy Who Came in From the Cold in Third Person Restricted Omniscient.

The important thing is to choose your viewpoint character and stay in that viewpoint unless there is a compelling reason to change. Beware of the literary sin known as "head hopping" in which each person who speaks also thinks, meaning viewpoint shifts back and forth--sometimes as frequently as a dog wags its tail. (That makes me think of a historical romance author back in the 1980's who even had a mouse, I think it was, with a viewpoint!)

Many romance novels are written with shifting viewpoint used in intense emotional scenes, such as lovemaking. When the viewpoint change is obvious, and it works in that particular scene, don't be afraid to break the rules.

Takeaway Truth

In other words, learn the rules first, then learn how to break them so that you make seamless viewpoint shifts that carries readers along rather than jars them out of the story and sends them backtracking to see who is speaking or thinking.

Thursday3Some: Books by Bess George, Linda Howard, Alice Orr

Let's call this Romantic Suspense Day on SlingWords.

I have reviews of 3 romantic suspense novels that I think you'll like.

The Amazon Kindle link is given for these books, but I'm sure you can find them at all ebook sellers.

These are all priced low so you can add them to your To Be Stack for a modest price. Go crazy and select all 3 for a reading-filled weekend.

Happily Never After by Bess George

From my review posted on Amazon: Kelsey Brackston has a dirty little secret. Since being shot in the chest, she's suffering from a major case of PTSD. Sure, men have PTSD, but one doesn't often read about a woman coping with this affliction--and coping unsuccessfully at that.

This gripping detailed story of PTSD shows how it can literally ruin your life until you feel as if everyone is out to get you. That's the situation Kelsey finds herself in even though she relocates to a different part of the country. Her troubles followed her. From one unexplained accident to another, Kelsey has no one to turn to except former SWAT officer Bode Taggert who vows to keep her safe.

As the "accidents" and violence escalate, Kelsey is certain someone really is out to get her, but her chief suspect is a dead man. In an action-packed climax, the truth is revealed. If you like a mystery wrapped in a romance and flavored with action, this romance is for you.

After the Night by Linda Howard

This is one of Ms. Howard's older novels. I read it years ago, but I saw it was in ebook now so I bought it for my Kindle. I enjoyed it just as much as the first time I read it.

From the Amazon Description: FAITH DEVLIN: A poor, outcast child in Prescott, Louisiana, she'd always adored the town's golden boy from afar. But he called her white trash that sultry Southern night when his rich, respected father disappeared, along with her pretty Mom. Now Faith wanted to hate Gray Rouillard...not to feel a powerful surge of desire. But she couldn't quench her passion, any more than she could hide the truth about the past she had waited so long to unravel.

GRAY ROUILLARD: Even when he raised hell, he did it with style. Reckless, charming, and backed by Rouillard money, Gray controlled the town of Prescott -- and Devlin was a name he never wanted to hear again. But when he gazed at Faith Devlin, all he saw was a swirl of tangled sheets and her silken flesh beneath him. To care for her was impossible, unthinkable...because Gray Rouillard planned to use all his power to ruin her.

A Long Way Home by Alice Herron Orr

A Long Way Home is actually free as an introduction to Ms. Orr's series, Riverton Road.

From the Amazon description: Going home can be dangerous.

Kara Cartwright returns to her hometown on the same night Anthony Benton is murdered. But she knows nothing about that or how it will unhinge her life. She only knows she vowed never to come back to Riverton or to see Matt Kalli again.

Matt has made a vow of his own. He will never forgive Kara – the woman who loved him then betrayed him nine years ago. And he can’t forgive himself for the way she is stuck in his heart.

All these two have in common is their hatred of Anthony Benton. Now Benton is dead and they could be suspects. People they care deeply about could be suspects too. That gives Matt and Kara something else in common – a perilous search for the real killer before he murders again.

Takeaway Truth

Great weekend reading is ahead with these books so grab them today.

Review TV Series: The Ranch on Netflix

Netflix has done it again! The Ranch is a must-see series that delivers laughs--often hand in hand with a side order of poignancy.

Make no mistake, this series, starring the great Sam Elliott, Ashton Kucher, Danny Masterson, and Debra Winger, is hysterically funny at times with some of the funniest dialogue you'll hear in a sitcom. Yes, it's often profane so be warned.

The Cast

I can't recall ever seeing Sam Elliott in a comedy before on TV or the big screen, but he shines as Beau Bennett. Ashton Kucher is perfect as the prodigal son, Danny Masterson as the son who stayed behind to work the ranch, and Debra Winger as estranged wife Maggie have their own share of the spotlight.

Set near Garrison, Colorado, on Iron River Ranch, Beau Bennett is eking out a living as a cattle rancher, but a drought, low beef prices, a runaway wife, and two sons in a permanent state of arrested development are about to get the best of him.

Talent Behind the Scenes

Hats off to Jim Patterson, producer and writer for Two and a Half Men among other shows, and Don Reo, writer and producer also known for Two and a Half Men, My Wife and Kids, and the ground-breaking show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, for creating this series because there's nothing else like it on television.

David Trainer directed the first 10 episodes of The Ranch. He's the director and producer known for That '70s Show, Designing Women, and Boy Meets World.

Takeaway Truth

If you need a good laugh, check out The Ranch. You won't be disappointed.

Follow Hashtag #TuesdayBookBlog

Blog Share Days are great!
It's Tuesday so let me tell you about a hashtag you may have seen but not used: #TuesdayBookBlog.

This hashtag for Tuesday as a blog share day is a good way to learn about books and authors.

Blog Share Days

If you are a Twittering blogger, then you know about blog share days--those days you can use a specific hashtag to call attention to your post if it's about a qualifying topic. There's #MondayBlogs, Wednesday's #wwwblogs (Wednesday women writers), #SundayBlogShare, Saturday's #ArchiveDay, etc.Now there's #TuesdayBookBlog.

Last winter, Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team (#RBRT) introduced this new hashtag, #TuesdayBookBlog, for Tuesdays, and it's for book and author posts only.

Ground Rules

If you want to use #TuesdayBookBlog, use it for blog posts about:
  • book reviews
  • author interviews
  • cover reveals
  • upcoming/new releases
  • articles or guest posts about books and/or writers
    For all the details including what NOT to do, read the full post on Rosie Amber's blog.

    Takeaway Truth

    Remember to be courteous and retweet (RT) others using the hashtag.  (Tweetdeck and similar apps make this easy.) Tell others about the hashtag which is what I'm doing with this post.

    Video Tips: New Animoto Features

    As most of you know, I use Animoto for the book trailers and other videos I create. Here are a few new features to help your videos be the best they can be.

    For full details of any of the features below, read the Animoto blog post. They have links to videos that describe these features.

    On Site Photo Editor

    As of December, you can edit your photos directly while on your Animoto workspace. You can crop, rotate, and flip images, remove red eye, adjust color, lighting, and sharpness, without leaving your workspace.

    Longer Video Clips

    Now you can video clips with up to 20 minutes run time and and trim them to any length in all of the styles.


    This feature has been available for a long time. In case you haven't used it before, here's how. To Spotlight an image or text "box" (give it more viewing time), just click on the image then go to the left sidebar and click Spotlight, the Star Icon. To take the spotlight off, just do the same.


    If you want all your images and text boxes to have an equal amount of viewing, just control the speed of your video with Image Pacing. Click the gear icon in the top right corner and then use the slider to manually make your video slower or faster rather than use the Automatic setting.

    Multiple Songs

    This feature is available only to those on the Pro or Business plans. You can use up to ten different songs in a single video. To add a new song, just click the + Add Another Song at the bottom of the screen.

    Share Native Video to Facebook

    Animoto has improved Facebook sharing. Now, instead of your video being a link on your Facebook timeline, it will be uploaded to Facebook directly and play on your timeline or business page.

    Takeaway Truth

    Animoto offers free accounts and paid plans. It's easy to create videos with Animoto. Give it a try.

    TV Series Review: Hap and Leonard on Sundance

    If you're a Joe Lansdale fan, you probably know that his popular characters Hap and Leonard have their own TV series now on the Sundance Channel.

    The name of the series is, of course, Hap and Leonard.


    The Hap and Leonard Wiki says in part: "Hap and Leonard are fictional characters...in a series of nine novels, two novellas, and one collection of stories and excerpts."

    I've read the books and often thought Hapless and Leonard would be a better title because these 2 best friends always jump out of the frying pan and land in the fire. No matter what the circumstances, no matter what they attempt, everything always goes wrong for them.

    The books are violent and profane, and so is the TV series. In fact, watching the TV series is like watching a train wreck: you just can't stop watching even though you know things will end badly.

    Starring James Purefoy as Hap and Michael Kenneth Williams as Leonard, the series was created by Nick Damici and Jim Mickle. Joe Lansdale, the author of the books, actually wrote 3 of the TV episodes.

    Purefoy and Williams are excellent in their roles. They perfectly captured the East Texas drawl and sound as if they're from East Texas. If you're not familiar with East Texas, you'll probably think it was also filmed in those piney woods. It wasn't. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, locales were the stand-in for East Texas.

    Takeaway Truth

    Give Hap and Leonard on the Sundance Channel a look. You may find yourself setting the DVR for every episode of this compelling dramatic series that is often amusing, sometimes poignant, and always irreverent.

    Information For Writers: 3 Must-Read Posts

    I don't know about you, but I sometimes am inundated with articles and blog posts I feel I should read. On a daily basis, I don't have the time to read this wealth of information. Maybe I get one post read, but the rest get saved.

    Once I bookmarked everything, but that got too cumbersome. Now I Save to Pocket and can tag the posts to categorize them. Then when I have a few minutes to read, I can click the little Pocket icon on my browser menu and read.

    Regardless of what you use to save articles for future reference, here are a few articles from my Pocket files that I think you should read.

    9 Free Tools That Can Help Build Buzz for a Book

    Digging for Gold: Getting Those Coveted Amazon Reviews

    Focus on What Matters Most & Take Action Now

    Takeaway Truth

    It's easy to drown in all the information that's available. Find a means to save it so you can read at least a few when you have time. A little is better than none.

    Lone Star Writing Competition 2016 Is Now Open

    The prestigious 2016 Lone Star Writing Competition, sponsored by Northwest Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America is now open for entries.

    Since the final judges of this annual competition are publishing industry professionals, this is a writing contest with credibility.

    • Entry Fee: $25.00
    • Deadline: June 5, 2016 at midnight CDT
    • Eligibility: Published and Unpublished works
    • Electronic entries only
    • Submit 1st 5,000 words of a manuscript
    • Novella length is allowed in all categories except Single Title.
    • Contemporary Romance
    • Historical/Regency Romance
    • Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance
    • Inspirational Romance
    • Romantic Suspense/Intrigue
    • Young Adult-New Adult
    • Single Title.
    For more information, visit NWHRWA Website or email Ruth Kenjura: nwh.lonestarcontest at gmail.com

    Takeaway Truth

    Someone will win. Enter today, and it might be you!

    I'm An April Fool Or You?

    Happy April Fool's Day!

    I'm blogging today at Authors Billboard and giving some links to websites that give directions for some great April Fool's pranks.


    Visit my post at Authors Billboard because I'm giving away a very nice journal and writing pen. To be entered to win, leave a comment with your email address. 

    Good April Fool's pranks can be very funny--like the 1996 prank Taco Bell played.  They announced that they had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell.

    Thousands believed that!

    No Prank

    April Fool Bride, my funny, sexy romantic comedy, is on sale for 2 weeks for only 99cents. Find it at these ebook sellers: Amazon * iBooks * Kobo * Nook * Smashwords.

    Takeaway Truth

    A good prank shouldn't hurt anyone emotionally or physically. So prank someone, but make sure you both enoy the fun.