Infographic Contest Now Open

I received a request from Top My Grades, sponsor of an infographics contest, to publicize their contest on SlingWords.

What Is An Infographic

Authors use infographics all the time. Some of us call them teasers or memes, or perhaps graphic teaser.

In actuality, an infographic combines a graphic image and text. We authors try to make them visually appealing, hoping they compel someone to check out the book promoted by the infographic. Many authors use Canva, Vectr, FotoJet, or digital illustration software which is what I use.

Here's the official definition. Infographics make complex information eye catching, shareable and easily digestible. Most importantly, they play a crucial role in the increasingly visual world of marketing.

Since infographics are increasingly important in our digital world, it follows that there would be a contest for students who are learning to create them.

Infographics Contest 2018

To recognize the importance of visual communication and encourage students in this field, an Annual Infographic Contest for students has been created. Students are given topics from which to choose to make their own impressive infographics.

Visit the Official Contest Website for all the details including Topics, Rules, Judging Criteria, Tips, Examples of Infographics, and other details.


3 Winners: $400.00 Grand Prize each

1st Runner-up: $ 250 each (awarded to 4 winners)

2nd Runner-up:$ 100 each (awarded to 11 winners)

Important Dates

Registration is FREE, and it's open now!

Last date for submission: Jan. 31, 2018.

Results to be announced: Feb. 10, 2018.

General Rules (Visit Contest Website for Complete List of Rules)

Infographic image size: 1000 pixels wide and at least 3000 pixels high

Image: .jpeg format
Time is ticking away. Enter today!

Do not copy Image from Internet. You must have edit file of your infographic (to check originality)

For questions or comments, email contests @ assignmentessayhelp dot com.

Click to Register today!

Takeaway Truth

This sounds like a fun contest. Check it out and test your creativity and tech ability. The rewards are tremendous.

Small Town Saturday with Giulietta Spudich

When you read a novel, do you sometimes wonder why the author set the book in a certain locale? Stephen King sets just about everything he writes in Maine. I never knew there were so many creepy things happening in small New England towns!

I write small town settings because small towns are intrinsically interesting. I love to read books with that same small town atmosphere. Today's guest on Small Town Saturday is Giulietta M. Spudich. Her novel Painting Pretoria is set in a small town, and she's going to tell us why she chose that setting.

Meet Giulietta M. Spudich

Giulietta is an Italo-American living in the United Kingdom, but her hometown is Berkeley, California, which she gets to visit frequently. When in Cali, she puts down her tea-drinking for awhile and picks up exciting brews like Blue Bottle coffee and Philz.

Two wonderful housemates and the spirit of her loyal cat Smokey share her home in England. Giulietta says, "I have always written stories, and currently publish fiction with Books To Go Now, and kids adventure with Handersen Publishing."

Visit Giulietta online: Twitter * Facebook * Amazon Author Page * Goodreads. You can find her some of her short stories at Page & Spine, and you can read her poetry at Inky Cat Blog.

Painting Pretoria by Giulietta Spudich

Paint what you love, says Mrs. Rosa. But what does Anna love?

Is it her long-term boyfriend, Justin, who suddenly dumped her to spend the summer in England? Or her uninspiring thesis work in biochemistry?

To bring her out of a listless depression, her mom convinces her to go to beautiful Pretoria, Maine, the place of her birth.

Through an art summer school, the nourishing Aunt Pat and the support of her two best friends, she begins to find her voice and meets Fernando ... but is that really who she loves?

Add Painting Pretoria to Your Library

You'll find Giulietta's novel available on Amazon in an ebook edition for Kindle. It's free on Kindle Unlimited for subscribers; only $2.99 to purchase. It's also available in a paperback edition.

Small Town Saturday
by Giulietta Spudich

Painting Pretoria, published by Books To Go Now, focuses on the themes of healing, friendship, and finding one’s voice through art. Anna Bankson is a young graduate student in science who has a life crisis when her long term boyfriend leaves her. She goes to a quiet, coastal town in Maine to regroup. Under the care of her nourishing Aunt Pat and her close friendships, she finds her voice through painting the ocean. A Brazilian exchange student turns up at an unlikely time in her life, and she faces making a choice for love, or following her own road. Or could she have both?

I set Painting Pretoria in a fictional small town on the coast of Maine for a few reasons. I find the coast such a lovely place - quiet, magical, and picturesque. I also love the ocean, and I wanted to spend a whole book writing in that setting. The small town aspect is definitely crucial for the story.
Anna starts the book in a busy life in a busy city – she’s a graduate student in Houston. When she suffers a personal crisis due to a relationship ending, she really needs to slow down and regroup. When she gets back to nature, in a quiet town, her healing process begins.

The slow pace, the fresh air, and the beauty of the ocean get her experiencing her life more day-by-day, without worrying too much about what direction she will go in. Her art summer school classes open her up, not just creatively - they help her reflect on who she is and what she wants. The colorful art teacher, Mrs. Rosa, has them do out-of-the-box art exercises to experience painting with all of their senses. This helps inspire Anna.

She also meets Fernando, who’s from Brazil, and the small town aspect charges this. Their relationship has more intensity than it would in a big city with lots of social engagements going on.

Fernando has culture shock, coming from a big city in Brazil. He finds Pretoria, Maine too quiet, and is lonely, missing having lots of friends and things to do. When he meets Anna, he wants to hang out with her all the time - partly that is because his life is too isolated. So that might be a negative side of the small town life. While for Anna, the quiet is just what she needs, for Fernando, it’s oppressive.

There is another spin in the story, and that’s Anna’s mother’s past. Anna doesn’t know it, but her
mother was an artist and had a love affair in Pretoria. Her mom also went through a crisis when she was young, like Anna, and her mom left Pretoria for the very different Houston scene. I felt the physical act of Anna returning to her mom’s town allowed Anna to see her mom in a different light.

I loved writing Painting Pretoria – it allowed me to reflect on art, creativity, the ocean and love. A friend said she was inspired to take painting lessons after reading the book, and I hope it does inspire readers to be more creative, or to take time out to connect with their own voices, if they need. Or at the least, visit the beautiful, sweet Maine coast!

As for what I’m doing next...I write short stories for adults, but have moved into children’s fiction with Handersen Publishing.

I think Painting Pretoria might be my last book for adults in awhile, but you never know! I love the creativity of children’s books, and writing more adventure-driven stories in the realm of fantasy and magic. I just published The Amber Giant for middle-grade readers, this year, and I have another middle-grade adventure in the pipeline.

Takeaway Truth

Readers, take an armchair trip to the setting in Painting Pretoria with the ebook edition for Kindle. Remember, it's free on Kindle Unlimited for subscribers; only $2.99 to purchase. It's also available in a paperback edition.

Thursday3Some Spotlight: Timeless Beginnings by Amber Daulton

I'm happy to shine the Thursday3Some Spotlight on Amber Daulton, my Glass Slipper Sister, and her novel Timeless Beginnings.

Giveaway Alert

One lucky commenter will win a free ebook copy of Timeless Beginnings. Please leave your name and email address with your comment so Amber can contact you.

The giveaway will stay open until Monday, October 30. She will post the winner in the comment section and email you on Monday.

About Amber Daulton

Writing is the fruit to happiness.

Amber Daulton lives her life by that one belief even though she normally isn’t so Zen.

As a fan of contemporary, paranormal, and historical romance novels alike, Amber can’t get enough of feisty heroines and alpha heroes.

Her mind is a wonderland of adventure, laughter, and awesome ways of kicking a guy when he’s down. She probably wouldn’t be too sane without her computer and notebooks. After all, what’s a girl to do when people are jabbering away in her head and it’s hard to shut them up? Write! Nothing else works.

Visit Amber Daulton Online: Blogsite * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads.

Thursday3Some: Timeless Beginnings by Amber Daulton

Q1: When did you write Timeless Beginnings?

Amber: I wrote this story in early 2016 and published it later that year. Rodger and Leonora, the Hero and Heroine, definitely have a mind of their own.

Their story nagged at me for months before I finally decided to plot and write it.

Q2: What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

Amber: Though Timeless Beginnings is a standalone novella, it’s technically a prequel to another story titled Timeless Honor. I wrote Honor first, and I fell in love with the heroine’s grandparents, Leonora and Rodger. I just couldn’t stop thinking about them and the magical way they met. They deserved to have their story told so that’s how this story came to be.

Q3: Why do readers buy Timeless Beginnings?

Amber: Time travel stories evoke a reader’s imagination and fantasies. Sometimes I daydream about traveling to another time, wearing period clothes, and experiencing history in the making, and I think a lot of readers feel the same.

In this story, the reader experiences the beauty and difficulties of living in 1960s Bolivia, a rich but uncommon setting in most romantic fiction, and I think that’s a draw for modern history buffs who love romance novels.


One lucky commenter will win a free ebook copy of Timeless Beginnings. Please leave your name and email address so I can contact you. The giveaway will stay open until Monday, October 30. I’ll post the winner in the comment section and email you on Monday.

 Timeless Beginnings by Amber Daulton

Leonora Harris fled her newly wedded husband’s home in Georgian England, 1725, and took shelter in a cave during a rainstorm. She woke up in a cold, barren land and a handsome stranger with a mechanical carriage offered her shelter.

Undercover American operative Rodger Ramsey never expected to find a runaway bride in the magnificent Salar de Uyuni. Assigned to Bolivia to investigate Communist activities, he just wrapped up his two-year mission in 1963 and followed his heart to the salt flats one last time.

Sparks flew and attraction sizzled. The lost, stubborn woman kicked his protective instincts into overdrive. Rodger took her home with him, determined to help her before he returned to the States, and Leonora flourished under his guidance. Their hearts intertwined. He wanted her, needed her, but could he truly love a woman who believed she jumped two hundred years in time?

Will they find a way to stay together, despite the obstacles between them, or will Leonora survive in this strange new world alone?

Add Timeless Beginnings to Your Romance Library: Amazon * Barnes and Noble.

Takeaway Truth

Doesn't Timeless Beginnings sound like the perfect weekend reading? Get your copy today.

Margarita Felices Tackles the Dirty Dozen

Since it's Halloween in a few days, let's talk about creepy, scary things, and monsters--all the things that make our hearts beat unsteadily when we hear an unusual noise in the darkest part of night.

If you like ghosties and goblins, witches and vampire, you'll enjoy meeting today's guest.

Please welcome Margarita Felices, author of the Judgment of Souls series.

About Margarita Felices

Margarita lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her partner and three little mad dogs. She loves where she lives because, for all its modernization, Cardiff still bears remnants of an old Victorian city.

She works for a well-known TV broadcasting company. She loves writing and bases her stories in Cardiff because it has such character. She says: "The coast is great for photographs, mind you, we have a lovely castle in the city centre and a fairytale one just on the outskirts, so when I feel I can't write anything, I take a ramble to those locations and it clears my head."

"I suppose it was inevitable that some day I would write a novel. My teachers at school used to limit me to no more than 10 pages. When I left school, I wrote short stories for magazines, and it paid my way through college. I am Gothic, I love the fashion, the architecture and the music. The club in my novel is real. When I was writing book one, I got all my club material and clientèle from here, I wouldn't have finished that section without it."

Visit Margarita Felicies Online: Amazon UK Author Page * Amazon US Author Page * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter.

12 Questions: The Author and Her Writing Process

Q1. In which genre do you write and why that particular genre?

Margarita: I have written in several genres, but my favourite is paranormal. This genre is very interesting to write. You don’t have to conform to any rules with your characters, they can fly through the air, move at speed, express an unimaginable intelligence and no one bats an eyelid. You can take a story to some of the deepest and darkest nightmares that will evoke such emotions in your reader that it makes the whole writing process a joy.

Q2. What inspired your Judgement of Souls series?
Margarita: I grew up with all those cliché vampire tales.
The weak females and the gallant hero who saves the day, and I needed to change it. Vampires don’t have to be a ‘blood sucking, kill all mortals’ fest!

I created my story from the vampire perspective. Much like Anne Rice did for her novel Interview with the Vampire. I was interested to take a story from their lives, are they much different from ours (immortality aside)? Their loves, their lives, their sorrow. My story revolves around a vampire family that starts from the time of the Crusades to finish in modern today.

An important artefact has been stolen from the vampire Elysium and it needs to be found before it unleashes demons onto this world. It’s a journey of discovery for a young female vampire who I hope the readers will see as vulnerable, yet also as a dark killer. I wanted to show that a vampire can fall in love, have her heart broken and then unleash a fury on the one that caused her world to come crashing down. It’s basically a story about a vampire family and a quest for revenge. Its love, revenge and a few laughs along the way.

Q3. As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?
Margarita: I’m hoping that they will experience an exciting journey full of twists and turns and an understanding of the vampire genre. Each page makes you excited to turn the next one. Laugh and cry at my characters and their situations and when the books are finished, be sad that they are leaving behind good friends.

Q4. How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book."
Margarita: I’ve always been a writer. I wrote a piece of fanfic when I was 7 years old. In school whenever my teachers used to set essays, I would write… and write… and write. Until they couldn’t take it anymore and I was set a word and page limit.

I wouldn’t think twice about filling three exercise books for any assignment. It broke my heart when I was finally reduced to ten pages… but it was a good learning curve in a way because when I left school and started college, I began to write short stories for various women’s magazines and you were always regulated to word counts etc.

I have pages and pages of notes for new stories that will eventually see the light of day. I write if only to silence those voices chatting in my head with different stories… the joys of being a writer, but at least you always have company!

Q5. What's the best thing about being an author?
Margarita: I love being transported to another world. Each day I may hear a line of dialogue said in the street or I see a scenario that I think ‘that would fit in my story now or in another story later’ you never really ever switch off as a writer. When you create your world and you put in your characters, you make new friends and you want to spend as much time with them as possible. You get them into all sorts of perils and then you help get them out of there. It’s very satisfying.

I love researching for my stories – and I do quite a lot if it involves certain historic events. For JOS1 I had to research the Crusades and the world of the church at that time. It was fascinating. I found out things I never knew existed. For JOS2 it was all about the French revolution. I visited Malta, Rome and London and took pictures of buildings that my characters could have walked in. For JOS3 I needed information on Lilith, so I visited the main Jewish synagogue in London and the Chief Rabbi there let me look at an old Hebrew bible they had. I was able to put some pieces together and get vital information about that person and also a few new facts that I also used.

And of course when you publish your work and you get reviews that are all positive, well, that just fills you with such an accomplishment, just to know that you were able to transport your reader to your special place is a huge honour.

Q6. What's the worst thing about being an author?
Margarita: Edits and letting your baby go. When you write, you are your own worse critic. Every time you finish a chapter and you read it over, you pick holes in it. You are forever adding words, re-arranging scenarios. You can’t stop editing. You never stop thinking about where your story is going. You never think your story is finished – when really it is.

I get to a point when I say ‘right, that really is it, it’s done.’ So I let it rest for a few days before I decide to send it off. But I always double check certain points and end up writing a bit more.

Then of course there are those dreaded edits that come back. Even though your editor will make it read smoothly and takes out all that doesn’t make much sense, you do get notes attached saying ‘Huh? What does this mean? What are you trying to say/show.’ And often when you get your pages back it’s covered in red edit marks that make you want to cry.
This is your literary blood spilt over those pages.

Q7. What device do you use to read ebooks?
Margarita: I do own a Kindle. I love my Kindle and take it whenever I am travelling. I have lost count what’s on there. I try to support any author that has a promotion. I’m pretty rubbish when it comes to reading them all though. I download them for later with good intensions of reading and then leaving reviews and then I start writing, and I leave them for another day. (Bad author, bad bad!)

I try never to read someone else’s novel while I’m writing my own. There’s always that scene that you write and think it’s incredible and then in the middle of the night you wake up with the realisation that you’d read the same thing in a book not long ago and have to start again. So I avoid reading while I write. But to be honest, is there anything like holding a paperback?

Q8. Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?
Margarita: Yes they are all available on paperback – except for two short stories. I had a lot of messages from reviewers and readers asking for JOS paperback copies to be available so I decided to get them done that way. I love seeing them in print. I have two large bookshops in Cardiff that are going to start stocking them soon too. Just in time for Halloween with my posters in the windows.

Q9. Do you listen to audio books? If so, where can readers find them, and what device do you use to listen to audio books?
Margarita: I don’t anymore, but I used to because I did a lot of driving. I’m actually looking for a British voice to read the JOS trilogy. I don’t use it as much anymore but that’s going to be my next PR step because it’s starting to become popular and can be easily downloaded onto small devices these days, and are as popular as downloading music. And it’s less bulky when going on holiday!

Q10. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Margarita: Oh there’s more than just one piece…But Ok then… DON’T GIVE UP! You will get publishers that will decline your work – we’ve all gone through it. Famous authors went through it. J.K.Rowling was rejected for TEN YEARS! Just move on to the next agency because if you have a story to tell, do whatever it takes to get it out there.

Q11. If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?
Margarita: Sit back and enjoy the ride and if you feel you want to reward the author for all their hard work – LEAVE A REVIEW.

Q12. What is your current big dream (or goal) as a writer and what is your next book and when will it be out?
Margarita: Obviously the big dream is to have my books in the Top 100 on Amazon and on the shelves or the most popular book shops. Not so much for the financial security that it brings, but more so that you know your time hasn’t been wasted.

Right now I’m working on getting the Judgement of Souls trilogy onto the big screen. I have 3 U.S.  producers interested, and we are putting together an option to get into production. It’s a long and hard struggle.

Funding and communication is an issue, but we will be in talks with some studios so watch this space eh? But these things can take years in the planning – worse luck.

I know that vampires will be back. Anne Rice is re-making Interview with the Vampire. The TV series based on it will be in production soon too. It’s all just a matter of time.

In the meantime, I have two more stories coming out very soon--completely different genres. One is a creepy tale of what happens to you while you are in a coma. It’s a nightmare inside your head that you can’t escape from, however hard you try. You can scream – but no one can hear you.

The other is a very naughty (erotic) comedy about two hapless girls who go on holiday and get involved with two men who have just committed a robbery. It’s a new genre for me so I enlisted the help of a friend, and I think we’re having a little too much fun with it. I’m also considering sending that story to a local production company, it sounds right up their street!

After those have been released, I have another story about a Welsh witch that I want to start as soon as I can. Plus a few other stories waiting their turn to come to life.

About Judgement of Souls

My vampire trilogy, Judgement of Souls, started off as one story. But a few pages in I realised that it wasn’t going the way I wanted so I started again from scratch. Unfortunately in doing that I also realised that I had a lot of back story that needed to be told and it couldn’t be included in the one I was writing. I began my story in modern day… and in reverse order.

Judgement of Souls 1

The story centered around the Crusades and the love/hate relationship between a handsome vampire and a hard headed proud female vampire. The discovery of an ancient artifact, a mortal child being born to vampires… and… well that’s for the reader to find out.

Judgement of Souls2

Goes back in time to cover 300 years of mortal and immortal history. I incorporated our mortal history into the vampire story to make it more realistic – which was not easy. I took my characters to several locations… I even had one start the French revolution! I wanted my books to be stand alone stories as well as part of a trilogy.

Judgement of Souls 3

This is the latest book and was so easy to write because the club and the people I wrote about are real. I would visit the club and talk to my ‘characters’ each week. It was shortly before finishing this book that I realised I had to go back in time and tell my readers why Rachel (my lead) was where she was.

For fun, watch Margarita's videos. There are three, in order from oldest to latest: Video 1 * Video 2 * Video 3.

Also, she has a Facebook Page set for Judgement of Souls 3.

Buy Judgement of Souls Trilogy at Amazon US: Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3.

Buy Judgement of Souls Trilogy at Amazon UK: Book 1 * Book 2 * Book 3.

Takeaway Truth

Trick of Treat? These paranormal books in a different vampire mythology may be the treat you've wanted. Try them today.

Video Book Trailer: A Christmas She'll Remember

A Christmas She'll Remember Romance Collection consists of 7 full-length holiday romance novels by NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors.

Last night I created a video trailer for this collection. That was the easy part.

The hard part started this morning when I finalized the video and uploaded it to my YouTube Channel.

The Problem

I hadn't uploaded a video in the last 6 months. Like most constantly-updating websites, YouTube tweaked theirs. The tweak included an auto-play option that selected the lowest video resolution by default.

Unless the User knows to change the resolution to HD, all videos will play at 280p resolution which makes a horrible fuzzy video. The workaround of course is to set the default to HD, but that's not shown by YouTube anywhere--not even in a popup to tell the user they can change the resolution.

Plus, it's an irritant to have to adjust the resolution for every video.

The Solution

Mr. Google had the answer. I had to download a Google app that allows the video creator--me--to set HD as the default for any videos I upload.

The Embed Problem

Another tweak YouTube did was to change their Embed protocol. In the past, if you clicked Share / Embed, you would get a default script to paste into your website. If you knew the size parameters for your website, you could easily change that script to fit where you wanted to embed it. Just change the width measurement, and the height would automatically convert properly.

The Embed Solution

Now, you have to copy the script they give, paste it into your website, then manually change both height and width. You can see the result below. This new video is also on my Video Page if you'd like to watch it--and any of the others--in the future.

Enjoy A CHRISTMAS SHE'LL REMEMBER Video Trailer! Oh, I probably should tell you that this collection is free on Kindle Unlimited or buy it for only 99 cents at Amazon only.

Takeaway Truth

The Holiday Collections are hitting the cyber shelves. Grab these bargains today and have lots of holiday fun reading ahead.

I Survived Jury Duty--Again

Yes, for the 8th--or is it the 9th time--I went to Jury Duty yesterday and lived to tell the tale.

Long day. Up at 4:30 because it was raining, and downpours on the freeways at rush hour means you leave at an ungodly hour to get to downtown without driving like a maniac--like all the other drivers on the freeways.

I left home at 5:30, got to parking garage--the only one that charges you $6.00 which is what Jury Duty pays by the day. In the past I've had to pay $20.00 to $25.00 a day. (You only get $6.00 for Jury Duty unless you get stuck on a long trial.

Arrived at the garage at 6:20. Sat in the car and had my coffee and a piece of toast I'd brought.

Still raining when I left the car and headed to the Jury Assembly room at 7:00. Unfortunately, the new Jury Assembly room in the Jury Summons I received hosted 11 feet of water during Hurricane Harvey so it's closed while they renovate it.

A nice gentleman on the street happened to be a building engineer in the building where Jury Assembly is now being held so he directed me there.

Hurry Up And Wait

Jury Duty is like the military. It's always "hurry up and wait." I took a seat and started making notes as I waited. Chatted with my seat mate who had driven in from Baytown which is east of Houston.

Half the room filled before 8:00. After 8:00 which was the deadline for arriving, the stragglers started arriving. Announcements were made. A film starring the Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel was shown. He thanked everyone for showing up, etc.

Forms were collected. More waiting. Forms were collected from stragglers. More waiting. Then the Bailiff arrived and pulled the first panel of 65 prospective jurors around 9:45. Of course I was in it.

Moved Around And More Waiting

After our names were called, we were herded into another room where we stood and waited. Then we were assigned Juror Numbers. More standing and waiting. After a bit we were brought up from the assembly room in the basement to the ground floor. More standing and waiting.

Then the Baliff led us outside--drizzling rain--and walked us a couple of blocks to the Civil Courts Building. I found out that we were to be jurors, if selected, for a criminal case, but the Criminal Courts Building had also been damaged in Hurricane Harvey so both courts were meeting in the same building.

We arrived at the Civil Courts Building, up the broad flight of steps, into the lobby, and came to a screeching halt for the security check-in which was just like at the airport except we had to take off our shoes. We don't usually do that any more at the airport. Shoes, belts, watches, etc. into the big tray, through the screener, walk through the metal detector. Then we were hurried to get our stuff and get out of the way.

More standing and waiting while all 65 of us got back into our shoes, belts, etc. Then we were herded to the freight elevator. More standing and waiting while we were taken up to the 16th floor in batches. Four trips to get us all up there.

Arrived at 16th floor about 10:15. Know what we did then? Right. More standing and waiting. They lined us up. We waited. Bailiff came out and said it would be a while. Lawyers went in and out of the courtroom and paraded up and down the hall. The defendant and his lawyer were trying to make a plea deal in the case we were to participate in.

All 65 of us would be subjected to the "voir dire" process to make sure we could be impartial jurors were we selected. I say subjected because in one trial in which I was unlucky enough to be in the jury panel. Lawyers questioned jurors while the defendants--all 10 of them mean-looking and scary--observed. Your name, home address, occupation, your spouse's name, address, occupation, how many children you have, etc. All that private information you try to keep private around strangers. Especially strangers accused of conspiracy to commit murder!

Anyway, it was great people watching from the woman lawyer in 6 inch heels and a tight sheath dress with a slit up the back that ended about 4 inches from her butt to the male lawyer wearing tangerine orange trousers. (I made lots of notes about lawyers, defendants, and jurors!)

Finally after sitting on the floor and waiting forever, we were lined up again and taken into the courtroom, 16 at a time to file the rows of hard, wooden benches.

Gavel by Jason Morrison, SXC
The Judge thanked us for being there, said he had some good news for us, and he immediately declared a short recess!

While we waited for him to come back, we all sat there making jokes. Most of the jokes centered around the good news, i.e., "we're all getting tickets to the Astros playoff game."

The Judge came back in and announced that the defendant had accepted a plea deal. We restrained ourselves from cheering.

The Judge thanked us again and said he'd like to shake hands with each of us. To our amazement, he actually came into the Jury Box and did that! We were released from Jury Duty.

Takeaway Truth

I walked back to the parking garage, paid my $6.00, and drove home. When I arrived, I promptly took a nap.

Sweet Christmas Romances Tour


Christmas Chocolate Kisses

Christmas is around the corner and all Evie Holmes wants is a nice, sincere, honest guy to spend the holidays with. Andrew Summerfield seems like the perfect boyfriend until Evie discovers he is only after her bakery, and beautiful, turn of the century home. When she ends their relationship, he stubbornly refuses to take no for an answer.

When her friend suggests Evie adopt a pet, she finds herself wanting to adopt a dog and a sexy veterinarian.

Nick Tucker has a killer smile, a heart of gold and loves her Chocolate Kiss cookies. Can a Saint Bernard named Brewster and a passionate veterinarian bring the holiday spirit back into Evie’s life in time for Christmas?

Analeigh’s Christmas Cupcakes

This holiday season, Analeigh’s put everything into a Christmas wedding where her cupcakes are taking center stage. Analeigh quit her job and went back to school to follow her dreams and her passion.

In a second, Analeigh’s worst case scenario happens when she’s involved in a hit-and-run.

Her cupcake trays become road kill and her dreams fade.

But, when a cute tow truck driver, Danny, comes to her rescue maybe the worst day of her life can be resurrected. Anything can happen… it’s Christmas.

Chrissy's Christmas Sugar Cookies

Nicholas Reed arrives in the small town of Troy to acquire the Delbert farm for his investors. He hadn’t expected his competition to be a beautiful, confident woman. His heart takes control over his business-minded mission. Christine Spencer is the owner of the coffee shop ‘Sugar N’ Spice’. She serves the best sugar and spice, and everything nice.

Chrissy’s heart melts the first time she meets Nick. Then she discovers he’s the man that can destroy her dream to own the Delbert farm. His plan to bring in his investors for a viewing of the property would cancel her annual Christmas dance at the farm. He proposes a deal for her to date him for a week and he’ll stall his investors. Can Nick convince her those first sparks they felt, are real? Nothing like a little spice added to the holidays, unless someone ends up on the naughty list.

Amy’s Christmas Casserole

After being attacked in the parking lot of her San Antonio apartment complex, Amy fears all men. One day she stumbles upon Sawyer Creek. Using all her savings, she buys a small house and café and her Chicken Dorito Casserole becomes an all-time favorite among the community. After four years, the nightmares have stopped, but the panic attacks haven’t.

Christmas is four weeks off when the Sheriff calls saying a shovel hit the backdoor of her café, setting off the alarm. Vowing to never be a victim twice, she arms herself with the shovel only to learn that he’s been shot.

Can she help him despite her fear of men?

Margie's Magic Cookie Bars

Margie’s mom taught her to bake, and to believe in Christmas magic. She also promised this would be the year Margie found love. When Margie draws the name of her office crush, Trent in the Secret Santa Pool, she decides to make it happen by baking him a batch of her irresistible Magic Christmas bars. But it’s Bryan, the new guy in the office, who falls under her spell.

Bryan doesn’t need any encouragement when it comes to Margie. From his first day on the job, he’s been captivated by her sweet nature and beautiful smile. Bryan can tell Margie only has eyes for Trent, but he recognizes Trent for what he is, a charming user likely to break Margie’s heart. Before that happens, he must make Margie see she’s closer to her Christmas miracle than she ever dreamed.

You can find our collection of Sweet Christmas Romances at all of these wonderful locations: Amazon * Kobo * iBooks * Playster * Scribd * Inktera.



Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.

Sharon is a multi-published author of contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other’s arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

One of her favorite things to do is pick up a new book and sink into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.

When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.



Facebook Page:

Facebook Timeline:!/sharonkleve




Jennifer Conner is a best-selling Northwest author who has seventy short stories, books, and audiobooks. She writes in Christmas Romance, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance, Historical Romance, and Erotica. She has hit Amazon’s top fifty authors ranking and her books have been #1 in sales. Her novel Shot in the Dark was a finalist in the Emerald City Opener, Cleveland, and Toronto RWA contests.

Jennifer is an Associate Publisher for the indie e-book publisher, Books to Go Now, who resides in the Seattle area. They pride themselves in helping new authors get their foot in the door with well-edited manuscripts, professional covers, and platforms uploads.

She lives in a hundred year old house that she grew up in. Her semi-small town holds an interesting mix of resident hillbillies, yuppies and Navy Seals. And of course, Seattle, only a few miles away, is the birthplace of Starbucks so coffee is always on the check list. She blows glass beads with a blowtorch, (which relieves a lot of stress and people don’t bother you) and is a huge fan of musicals.

She loves to hear from her readers. Please email her:


Her Publisher Email:

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For Updates about new releases as well as exclusive promotions, sign up for the VIP mailing list at Jennifer’s Website:


Angela Ford originates from Nova Scotia…Canada’s Ocean Playground! Her love of the ocean and sunsets are always in her heart and give her inspiration. Her love for words keeps her turning the page. She is never without a book, whether she’s reading or writing. Her dedication to volunteer and involvement with cyber safety seminars gave her an Award of Distinction and sparked the idea for her first book Closure - Best Selling Action/Adventure/Crime/Suspense.

Ms. Ford continued her FBI series with Forbidden and Obsessed. Now available in a boxed set – Cyber Crime Series. In between mysteries, Ms. Ford writes short contemporary romance...sometimes with a dash of suspense!

Visit her website Romantic Escapes to connect with her on social media. She loves to hear from her readers – they keep her smiling!


Tammy Tate was born and raised in Hollywood, Florida but has lived most of her adult life in Texas. Her passion to write began in high school. It follows her everywhere she goes...creating a world where anything is possible. She's been married to the same wonderful man for over thirty years. Her secret to a long marriage? It's easy when you marry your best friend. In her world, Friday night is still date night.

Before she became a full-time author, she was an Executive Secretary, a Computer Consultant/Technician, and a Communications Officer (Police Dispatcher). She doesn't mind a challenge which has allowed her to race a late-model in a women's powder puff race, run barrels and poles in a play-day rodeo and drive an 18-wheeler. Somewhere in between, she and her husband raised three wonderful children. When she's not breathing life into her characters or jotting down ideas for a new book, she is most likely spending quality time with her husband or curled up with a good book.

Since she believes reading is the next best thing to writing, she enjoys romance, fantasy, science fiction and thrillers. In December of 2013, she signed her first book contract with a traditional publisher. Her books have made Amazon's Best Seller list.

Email me:

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Award-winning author Laura Strickland, born and raised in Western New York, has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Although she enjoys travel, she’s usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario, with her husband and her "fur" child, a rescue dog.

Author of numerous Historical and Contemporary Romances, she is the creator of the Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city. Margie’s Magic Christmas Bars is her second title with Books To Go Now.


Thursday3Some: Evil Speaks Softly by Maureen Bonatch

I've got my cup of coffee so get your favorite beverage and let's get comfy so we can visit with today's guest.

Please welcome Maureen Bonatch, one of my friends from Authors Helping Authors. The Thursday3Some Spotlight is shining on Maureen and her novel Evil Speaks Softly.

Maureen writes Humorous Paranormal Romance and Fantasy. To me that sounds delightful.

Giveaway Alert

Not only does Maureen have a great book to tell you about, but also she is running a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card. Be sure and read to the end of the post to find out all the details about the Rafflecopter.

About Maureen L. Bonatch

Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.

Visit Maureen Online

You'll find her at: Amazon Author Page * Website * Twitter * Facebook * Sign up for Maureen's Newsletter

Q1: When did you write Evil Speaks Softly?

Maureen: Although it’s a new release, I wrote Evil Speaks Softly a few years ago. I started with a draft and became distracted by another ‘shiny story idea’ and then a back injury that delayed the story’s completion.

Q2: What was the spark that gave you the story idea?

Maureen: My stories usually start with a character whispering the first line to me. Their stories are so real. So much that I discover the story as I write and am often surprised at the outcome. This made me start to wonder what if it wasn’t really a character speaking to me, but rather a ghost telling their story? Then what if the ghost wasn’t a friendly one?

Q3: Why do readers buy Evil Speaks Softly?

Maureen: This story is for readers who like a good ghost story with a little humor intermixed. Readers who want a little sweet romance with a strong, independent heroine. Evil Speaks Softly placed second in the 2015 Golden Palm Contest of the Florida Romance Writers in the Paranormal Category.

Evil Speaks Softly by Maureen L. Bonatch

Everyone has a story to tell. Even the dead.

They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family.

The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old family home until she met Gage.

His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead. 

They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

Add Evil Speaks Softly To Your Library

You'll find this captivating paranormal romance at: Amazon * The Wild Rose Press * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * iBooks * Google Play

Giveaway Details

Maureen has made it very easy to enter her Rafflecopter Giveaway for a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card. Just click a Rafflecopter giveaway to enter and you'll be taken to a webpage that has multiple ways to get more than 1 entry.

Takeaway Truth

The weekend is near. Grab a copy of Evil Speaks Softly for some adventure this weekend.

Julie Kavanagh Tackles The Dirty Dozen

Today's post is late publishing due to technical difficulties, but it's worth waiting for.

I'm happy to welcome Julie Kavanagh, author of A Sprig of White Heather.

About Julie Kavanagh

Julie loves to write and spends much of her time thinking about writing when she’s not actually writing.
She works in an inner city London Primary school supporting Literacy, and loves sharing her passion of reading and writing with the next generation.

She lives in the same street she grew up in with her supportive husband, one of her daughters and six rescue cats, although she dreams of living in a country cottage in an olde worlde English village.

Julie believes in true love and aspects of the paranormal and can sometimes be found sitting in the dark on a ghost hunt. This fascination can be found in several of her stories.

She also loves to hear from fans so why not contact her on her Facebook page or Amazon author page? Visit Juli Online: Facebook * Website and read on to see how Julie answers 12 questions about her writing process and her life as an author.

Julie Kavanagh Tackles the Dirty Dozen

Q1: In what genre do you write and why that particular genre?
Julie:I write both paranormal romance and sweet romance. I love to write paranormal romances and like to set my characters challenges although I want to see them happy by the end. No matter what genre I write, I like to include romance because I’m a great believer in true love, and that there’s a special someone out there for everyone.

Q2: What inspired your book?
Julie: My inspiration for ‘A Sprig of White Heather’ is my interest in past lives. I like the thought that we can correct mistakes we made in past lives to enhance our present lives. Plus, of course, I love the idea that each of us have a true love in all our lives. My husband says I’m a born romantic.

Q3: As an author, what can readers expect when they read one of your books?
Julie: Readers can expect romance although my characters usually conflict when they first meet. I can’t make it easy for them, now can I? I like to see how my characters change when met by someone who doesn’t agree with their point of view. I also like the happy ending, although in my Demon Witch series of books, I found I couldn’t end any of them with a simple happy ending. There’s just too much happening in Luca’s life, and most of the books in the series end with a cliffhanger.

Q4: How did you "become" an author? For instance, was there a moment when you said: "I think I'll write a book.”
Julie: I’ve always written, even as a child. I scribbled stories down on pieces of paper. As a teenager, I penned a truly dreadful novel about a girl who was forever in trouble. I think I might still have it somewhere but it will never see the light of day. I have boxes of handwritten stories which I will, one day, put into my computer. As a teacher and a mother, I would think up stories on the spot to entertain my own children at bedtime, or the Special Needs children I worked with. Children love to listen to stories, especially they have an opportunity to input characters and situations.

Q5: What's the best thing about being an author?
Julie: The very best thing about being an author is getting my ideas, my vision down onto a screen and then, hopefully, on paper. If I don’t write every day, I have what I call a back -up. I have so many ideas and scraps of conversion that I need to get them out of my head and into words. Does that sound crazy? Probably, but the way I remain sane.

Q6: What's the worst thing about being an author?
Julie: Oh, that has to be the isolation. A writer works in solitude and it can be a lonely job. Of course, I’ve got my characters to talk to but it’s nice to discuss a scene or a change of plot with someone real. I have a few friends online whom I talk to and that helps a lot. Plus, of course, when a reader gets in touch and tells you how much they enjoyed your book, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. Recently, at my daughter’s wedding, one of the guests came up to me to say she’d read everything I’d written and was my biggest fan. Her words, and the hug she gave me made an already wonderful day into a truly awesome day.

Q7: What device do you use to read ebooks?
Julie: I have an ancient iPad, I think it’s an iPad 2. It’s on its last legs, but it and I trundle along together. I like to think we understand each other although I’m a little impatient when it takes forever to load up, but I like to read in bed and it’s handy for that. I have to confess that I like to read in the bath too and my iPad works a treat – as long as I don’t drop it into the water.

Q8: Do you have editions of your books available other than ebook editions?
Julie: Some of my books are available in paperback, which is very exciting for me. I’m currently working on the first novels in the Demon Witch series to release them in paperback. A Sprig of White Heather will also be available very soon in paperback.

Q9: Do you listen to audio books? If so, where can readers find them, and what device do you use to listen to audiobooks?
Julie: I rarely listen to audiobooks, I find I get too easily distracted, which is the same as television for me. I have a very good friend who keeps telling me to listen to them and that I will change my mind about them.

Q10: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Julie: I’ve been asked this question a lot and this made me think back to when I started writing to publish my work. My advice would be to ignore the critics, to listen to your own thoughts
(and those of your characters) and to just write. Many people think they can write a book, but it’s not an easy as it looks. You have to sacrifice many hours of your day ( and night) to sit at a keyboard and it takes a lot of passion, and dedication just to get the story written.

Q11:If you could tell readers one thing, what would it be?
Julie: Take a chance on a new writer, or one you’ve never read before. There’s so much talent out there in the Indie world that you might be missing out on some wonderful stories… oooh and always, always leave a review. It doesn’t to be long or complicated, but reading the words of someone who loves your work is such an amazing feeling. It makes everything you so worthwhile

Q12: What is your current big dream, or goal, as a writer?
Julie: My dream is just to keep writing. I’m currently finishing off the 4th story in the Summer Street Series, New Year’s Love on Summer Street, and the next installment of the Demon WitchDidier’s Diary.

Cameron Mackenzie loses his true love in a brutal attack, and blaming it on his mistress, she curses him and his friends to eternal life unless he can find his true love once again.

After five hundred years of loneliness and guilt, Cameron meets Caitlyn, a woman who has recently divorced her cheating husband. Emotions spark between them, but for the wrong reasons and Cameron suspects she is the evil witch who cursed him.

Caitlyn still reeling from the after-shocks of her broken marriage is attracted to the dark, broody Scot but he frightens her although she can’t explain why.

Something is happening in the remote Scottish hotel Caitlyn has come to experience and she begins to fear for her life.

What is going on and what dark magic haunts her dreams? Can she escape with her life or is the brooding Cameron her destiny?

Add A Sprig of White Heather to Your Library

You'll find Julie's novel at: Amazon UK * Amazon US.

Takeaway Truth

Don't you love to discover new authors? I do. Why not grab Julie's book for the weekend?