Need to Improve Focus?

Focus Booster may be what you need. This app uses the Pomodoro Technique** to "overcome distractions, maintain focus, stay fresh and still finish work on time."

**The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The time intervals were named pomodoros, the plural in English of the Italian word pomodoro (meaning tomato), after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that he used as a university student.

 There is a free level that offers 20 Pomodoro intervals a month. Try Focus Booster to see if keeping a timesheet improves your ability to focus.

Takeaway Truth

There are many free apps available that may help you. Just do a Google Search with the string, "time management apps."

Tex Mex Green Chile Corn Casserole

I hope you don't mind if I give another casserole recipe for today's Saturday Recipe Share, but, face it, a casserole is the easiest and tastiest way to have dinner on the table in a flash.

Even on weekends, I want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen because there's always work to catch up on.

If I blow that off, then there are books I want to read--and my garden calling me. Working in my garden is not only pleasure but also stress relief.

So casseroles are always my go-to recipes to feed the family. Today I'm sharing Tex Mex Green Chile Corn, another family recipe.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove minced garlic, use 2 if you like a strong garlic flavor
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 11-ounce cans Mexi-Corn, drained
  • 1 16-ounce cream corn
  • 12 ounces canned diced green chiles, liquid too
  • 1 cup grated cheddar or mixed cheddar and Jack cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar or mixed cheeses, saved to top the baked dish
  • 9 ounces of Aunt Jemima Cornmeal Mix
Directions
  • Melt butter, add onion, and cook until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes. Do not let it brown because that makes the garlic taste bitter.
  • Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Now, preheat oven to 350 and prepare a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine: cooked onion mixture, sour cream, the egg, the drained corn and creamed corn, green chiles, and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Mix together.
  • Add the cornmeal mix and stir until moistened.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and top with the remaining 1 cup of cheese.
  • Return to oven for another 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
This is delicious as is or served with your favorite salsa. Ours is Pace Picante.

Bonus Recipe: A Planned Over

Planned Over is what I call using leftovers to create a new dish. If there is any of the casserole left, here's how to use it to create a new dish with the same flavor profile.

Brown a pound of ground beef. Add 1 package of Taco Seasoning Mix and follow the instructions on the packet. Blend well.

If you don't happen to have a packet of that seasoning, just make your own using ingredients from your spice cabinet.

Use 2 tablespoons of the homemade mixture and 1/3 cup of water.

(The packet instructions call for more water because the packet has corn flour in it which needs the additional water to thicken up.)

Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper flakes, omit if you don't like heat
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Place either a square or scoop (depends on what kind of dish you baked in) of the Green Chile Corn Casserole in a bowl and microwave till heated through.

Ladle the meat mixture over the bread. Top with whatever taco additions you like, i.e., sour cream, picante, avocado, etc.

Takeaway Truth

There you have it. A way to have 2 entrees from 1 dish. Bon appetit!

Little Free Library

Photo Courtesy of LittleFreeLibrary.org
Do you have a Little Free Library near you? If you do, then you know what they are. If you don't, maybe it's time you had one installed in your own local community.

As it says on their website, Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world.

Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Little Free Library Shares Love of Reading

There are a couple of Little Free Library installations at our country community. I leave books there and always look for something I haven't read. I left my RITA books there after I finished reading them.

I'm going to see if I can get approval where I live in Houston for a Little Free Library to be placed at one of the public areas. The nice thing is the organization offers kits to put together or you can build your own.

Plans and videos and tips abound for building a cute little library for your community. A novice woodworker can do it. They want you to register your little library however you create it so they can authenticate it. The Registration Fee is $40.00.

Takeaway Truth

This is a great way to share books. Readers will embrace it.

Mother’s Day 2017 Essay Contest: $200 Prize

I found a notice about the Mother’s Day 2017 Essay Contest, sponsored by Shame Kills and Swift River Rehab, in an email this week from Erika Lawson of Shame Kills.

Disclaimer: I have not researched either of these organizations other than visiting their respective websites and reading the information about the writing contest nor am I endorsing either of these websites or businesses.

About Shame Kills

This organization is dedicated to reducing the stigma associated with addiction in communities nationwide.

Values Statement

Shame Kills loves the addict but hates the disease. The more we talk about addiction and bring it out of the shadows, the better chance we have of saving those who suffer.

This is just a quick reminder that Shame Kills and Swift River are sponsoring a spring essay contest titled, “My Mother, My Hero.”

The Mother’s Day 2017 Essay Contest

There is no entry fee for this spring essay contest: My Mother, My Hero. The winning essay receives a $200.00 cash prize.

Just click here to get all the details. Always read all the details of a contest.

Takeaway Truth

Writing contests can be a good way to try something new. They can also be lucrative because someone will win. It might be you.

Review: The Great Gilly Hopkins

Recently, I watched The Great Gilly Hopkins, a movie on Netflix that could only be called "family fare" which is not to say it was overly-sentimental and bland as so many movies of that type are.

The movie, based on the book of the same name by Katherine Paterson--billed as a realistic children's novel--is about a child stuck in the foster care system.

What's It All About, Alfie?

Gilly Hopkins, a 12-year-old wisecracking girl with an attitude, finds herself shuffled from foster home to foster home.

That changes when she meets her match in Maime Trotter, a woman who won't take no for an answer when she offers unconditional love and support.

This movie is also available to rent or buy from Amazon Video.

Stellar Cast

To be honest, I clicked play on the movie because of the cast. With a cast like these pros, how could I not watch this children's movie?
ALL-STAR CAST

You've got Kathy Bates as foster mom Maime Trotter, Bill Cobbs as blind neighbor Mr. Randolph, Glenn Close as Gilly's grandmother who didn't even know a granddaughter existed, Octavia Spencer as Gilly's teacher, Julia Stiles as Gilly's long-absent mother, and Billy Magnussen as Gilly's social worker.

Teary-Eyed Finish

Yes, the story is predictable. We know from the get-go that Gilly will be transformed by love and stability, but that doesn't stop you from watching to the very end. The characters are beautifully brought to life by the superb cast.

Gilly learns some hard truths of life: bearing a child doesn't necessarily make a woman a mother and  no matter how hard one wants to believe something, reality has a way of revealing truth. She also learns that love carries with it responsibility.

The viewer is left teary-eyed yet satisfied because those truths resonate with the audience too.

Takeaway Truth

If you're looking for a family-friendly movie with a good message delivered without sanctimony, watch The Great Gilly Hopkins.

Bet You Didn't Know...Nachos

Photo by Jennifer Feuchter, CC
Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya is credited with inventing Nachos, those delicious melted cheese and jalapeno concoctions.

In 1943, Mr. Anaya was working at a restaurant in Piedras Negras, Mexico, when a bunch of hungry army wives arrived. He threw ingredients together and called it the same as his nickname--Nacho.

Photo Credit: By Jennifer Feuchter from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Nachos Conquer Stadiums

Then in 1976, Frank Liberto introduced nachos to hungry fans at Arlington Stadium. Of course, by this time, everyone in Texas was familiar with nachos. Liberto concocted a cheese sauce that didn't need refrigeration. It was liquidy and could be pumped or spooned over the corn chips. So nachos was a quick dish to throw together in the concession stands.

The first season Nachos were sold at Arlington Stadium, they grossed over $800,000 in sales, beating the previous high seller, popcorn, by a huge margin.

How To Make

All you need are 3 things for simple nachos: tortilla or corn chips, cheese of some kind, and sliced jalapeno peppers. Easiest? Melt Velveeta processed cheese and pour over corn chips then top with sliced peppers.

Better? Lowest salt chips you can get. Sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese, top with sliced jalapeno peppers, and run it under a broiler until cheese bubbles. Fantastic.

Want something extra special? Just load them up with charro beans, sour cream, taco meat, and picante. Scrumptious.

Takeaway Truth

Nachos may not meet gourmet standards, but that doesn't stop everyone from loving them.

Time for Spring Cleaning? Nope!

Ah, spring. Today is the first day of that glorious season. In Texas, it really is glorious. Wildflowers, fresh air, sunny days. Robin's egg blue skies. That's what spring is.

However, when I was a kid, I rarely noticed those things because I was busy, helping my mom with the annual rite of spring cleaning.

Anyone Remember Spring Cleaning?

My mom used to go into serious domestic overdrive when spring arrived. She gave new meaning to the phrase spring cleaning.

Curtains would be taken down and washed. Wax would be stripped from floors. Walls would be washed. Oh, my. The list of cleaning tasks that she thought necessary just because the season changed was formidable.

Me? I'm the opposite. When spring comes, I want to work in the garden, pick flowers, and stare up at the blue sky and fluffy clouds from the comfort of a lounge chair on my back deck.

Spring Break & Other Spring Anomalies

I think spring break must have been invented for people like me. Spring is my favorite season even though the fragrant flowers and budding trees mean everything is covered in a yellow haze. Ahchoo! Good thing someone invented allergy pills and Flonase.®

Spring cleaning, spring allergies, spring break, and spring fever. Spring fever has become the namesake for many things including college festivals, triathlons, mixed drinks, perfume, several movies, poems, and books. The spring equinox has figured in human history for thousands of years from pagan rituals to college pagan rituals known as spring break.

Sap Rises

When days grow longer and warmer, primitive people obviously felt a need to celebrate surviving another winter. The sap rose, in more ways than horticultural, if you get my drift.

Human instinct doesn't seem to have changed much since primitive man hunted mastodons. Even today, we look forward to similar pursuits that involve shedding winter woolens and slipping on tee shirts, shorts, and sandals.

Takeaway Truth

Step outside and revel in the glory that is spring.

What Is A Soul?

Today's quote is attributed to the late, great Ray Charles.

What is a soul?

It's like electricity--we don't really know what it is, but it's a force that can light a room."

Takeaway Truth

Nourish your soul. Speak appreciation and spread love today.

Saturday Share: Cheesy Chicken Bake

I like to be lazy on the weekends so I often depend on a good casserole recipe for easy, delicious dinners.

When you think casserole, think family pleasing comfort food because that's what they are.

Today's recipe is one that fits both my laziness requirements: easy to make and delicious to eat.

I mean, who wants to slave away in the kitchen when the outdoors beckons with spring flowers and blue skies?

You can even put this casserole together at night and bake and serve the next day. That's convenience food that's delicious.

Cheesy Chicken Bake

8 ounces noodles (that's a small package)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 4-ounce can of sliced mushrooms, drained
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish by spraying with Pam or a similar product.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • While noodles cook, chop celery, onion, and chicken.
  • In a saucepan, melt butter and saute celery and onion until soft but not brown.
  • Stir the sour cream, milk, chicken, mushrooms, peas, and noodles into the saucepan. Mix well.
  • Pour into the casserole dish and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Serves 6 to 8.
Add a salad and perhaps some hot French bread or cornbread, and you've got a meal that will please.

If you want a dessert, try one of the quick and easy recipes in Friday Is Cake Day, a collection of my family's cake recipes from 3 generations. The Cherry Pineapple Dump Cake is easy and delicious!

Friday Is Cake Day is only 99cents at Amazon and other ebook sellers.

Takeaway Truth

No rubber chicken complaints with this entree. Your family will love it. Enjoy your weekend.

Celebrate Book Birthday: 20 Free Copies of SCENTS and SENSUALITY

Happy St. Patrick's Day, and Happy Book Birthday to me!

A few days ago my romantic comedy SCENTS and SENSUALITY had a book birthday. Whoop!

A matchmaking mom...a transformed ugly duckling desperate for a date to her snooty cousin's wedding...desperation makes for fun and games in this romp of a Romantic Comedy.

Review: "Amanda Whitfield is a heroine with whom readers are sure to fall in love. And Harrison Kincaid is too yummy to resist. I love the main characters and also loved the secondary characters. The pace is perfect and so is the story."

I'm giving away 20 Smashwords copies of SCENTS and SENSUALITY plus 1 audio edition of this romantic comedy.

Claim Your Free Copy

Visit the Smashwords page for SCENTS and SENSUALITY to claim your free copy.

Use Coupon Code: NL27J (Not case-sensitive. Please enter code prior to completing checkout.) Code Expires: March 24, 2017 or when 20 copies have been claimed.

This Coupon Code is metered for 20 copies. Once 20 have been redeemed, the Coupon is invalid so claim yours before they're all taken.

Takeaway Truth

Happy reading!

Thursday3Some: Books by Tess St. John, Karen Kelley, Rachelle Ayala

I haven't had time for a Thursday3Some lately so I'm excited to bring you 3 reviews today.

The links to the reviews go to Amazon, but the books are probably at other ebook sellers too so just do a search for the title at your favorite ebook seller.

These three books offer varying types of romance. Chance Encounter, only 99cents, is a Regency with some heat in the marriage consummation love scene. Southern Comfort is romantic suspense with a gritty edge, and it's free. Bad Boys is sexy and is free on Kindle Unlimited ($2.99 if you're not a KU subscriber). So get ready for some fun.

Chance Encounter by Tess St. John

Readers who love traditional Regency romance should try Tess St. John and Chance Encounter--especially since it's only 99 cents. Although the book is set a few years past what is strictly called the Regency era, it reflects the mores and attitudes of that era beloved by romance readers. I think the restraint of traditional Regency is what draws readers to this genre. Restraint where a look can speak volumes of the emotions seething within builds the sexual tension between the heroine and hero so that when the couple finally share passion, it's like fireworks going off.

Fireworks! That's the love scenes after Liam and Jean are married. They're passionate and a bit explicit, but, if you are a strictly traditional Regency reader, don't let that deter you. You will probably place this book on your keeper shelf.

Banked emotion and restraint is what Ms. St. John offers in this story featuring not one but two romances. Each romance has the kind of hero we all want in our lives: a man who recognizes even before the heroine that she is the woman for him so he lets nothing deter him from convincing her of the same.

Something I adored about this book was the way the author foreshadowed the main plot involving Liam and Jean with a talisman, or motif. Look for it in the first few paragraphs. I was halfway through the book, at the point Jean and Liam design their little deception, when I realized that the author had foreshadowed that from the beginning, creating a delightful surprise for the discerning reader.

Southern Comfort by Karen Kelley

This romantic suspense opens with an explosive scene, and it keeps that pace up.

Undercover DEA agent, Fallon Hargis, is smart-mouthed and smart-thinking, and she doesn't take no for an answer in anything.

Small town sheriff, Wade Tanner, is more than a match for her, and he's prepared to do what is needed to keep her alive. Even if he has to fight her in the process.

There's nothing like a smart, sexy woman and a tough small town sheriff battling it out with murderous drug dealers.

Karen Kelley is a USA Today bestselling author who knows her genre inside and out. This book is free so there's no downside in grabbing it. I'm pretty sure you'll like it.

Bad Boys for Hire: Ryker by Rachelle Ayala

Oh, boy! This book will make you grin from the opening sentences.

Seriously. Can you not grin at the thought of some guy answering a phone, "Bad Boys for Hire. Can I help you?"

From the opening sentence to the end of the book, this sexy romance is pure fun. The Book Description says: "A modern day Romeo and Juliet story with a surprising twist."

Bad Boys: Ryker is Book 1 in this series by USA Today Bestselling Author Rachelle Ayala, and it's billed as a Motorcycle Romance.

Free on Kindle Unlimited, this ebook is $2.99 for non-subscribers.


Takeaway Truth

Take advantage of these bargains while they're offered for free or low-cost.

Load your Kindle for some exciting weekend reading.

Big Ebook Giveaway Event + Prizes

Whoop! It's so easy to enter this huge Giveaway. Just click the link, and you'll be whisked to the Authors Cross Promotion page for this event. Don't delay. Enter today!

Win up to 30+ Authors' Billboard eBooks!

(2) Grand Prize "Gift Baskets" of ALL eBooks!

(30) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Takeaway Truth

Is there anything better than free books? As a reader, I'll answer. No, there's nothing better. *g*

Small Town Life Is Appealing

We have a place in the Texas Hill Country where we like to get away from it all. The closest small town of 700 people is about 10 miles away.

Perhaps the fact that I grew up in a small town explains my affection for these little enclaves of eccentrics. Sometimes, small town idiosyncrasies can stop a city dweller in his tracks, but I think they’re charming and endlessly entertaining.

Springtime in Texas

One of my favorite times to be in the country is spring. Texas is gorgeous in the springtime. The yellow wildflowers like bitterweed appear first, followed closely by primroses, and wood violets. Bluebonnets start popping up now and only get larger and more prolific as we inch toward the end of March.

I've always wanted to write a series with each title bearing the name of a Texas wildflower. Maybe I'll get around to doing that.

Small Town Settings

In my contemporary romances, I return again and again to the small town setting. In my Texas One Night Stand series, both The Trouble With Love (Book 1, Texas One Night Stands) and Romeo and Judy Anne (Book 2, Texas One Night Stands) are set in small towns in fictional Alton County, located in Texas of course.

Life in rural and small town America compared to city life has more differences than mere population statistics.

Business Is Different

In most small towns in Texas, business is conducted Monday through Friday, usually from 9 to 5, except at the grocery story which closes at 8pm at night. Offices are not open on Saturdays, and nothing but the grocery store is open on Sunday.

When you walk into a place of business in a small town, everyone smiles at you and seems pleased to assist you. When you make a purchase, the employee smiles and says: “I hope you have a wonderful day.” The smile actually seems sincere and what they say sounds genuine and heartfelt.

Popular Attractions

Church is the big attraction on Sunday. Every church—and there are usually several—has a full parking lot, and nearby streets are lined with cars and pickups too.

Water towers are often picturesque with written sentiments regarding high school loyalties or state championships, no matter how long ago or how obscure.

Towns are proud of their local high school athletic teams. If a regional or state championship was won, a sign attesting to that fact will be found somewhere in the town regardless of how many years have passed since the victory.

Old men pass the time of day sitting on park benches in front of stores. They whittle, not any kind of carving or sculpture, but just a stick they shave with a sharp pocket knife. They talk and whittle, with the pile of wood shavings growing in front of them. Some of the men chew tobacco or dip snuff. You can recognize them by the spit cup they carry around.

I’ve returned to fictional Alton County. I'm writing book 3 of the Texas series, Forever Starts Tonight.

So I people watch when I'm in the nearby town, and I read the weekly newspaper. Actually, I read 2 weekly newspapers, and they're an endless source of fascinating tidbits and ideas.

Takeaway Truth

I confess the slower pace is enormously appealing to someone like me who has lived most of her adult life at warp speed.

Saturday Share: Beefy Cornbread Bake

How about an easy entree that's so delicious you'll make it time and time again? Since it serves 6, it's perfect for a hungry family.

If you're making it for you and a friend, leftovers store beautifully.

Just reheat in the microwave for another easy meal.

Today I'm sharing Beefy Cornbread Bake, a Tex-Mex casserole that is as fast to put together as it is delicious. Perfect for those busy weekday evenings or dress it up for Sunday dinner.

Beefy Cornbread Bake

Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano leaves, crushed (plain oregano will do if that's what you have)
  • 3/4 cup Pace® Picante Sauce (that's what we use in Texas. You can use another picante or even Rotel Tomatoes)
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (about 16 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • OPTION: 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese reserved
  • 1 pkg. (about 8 oz.) corn muffin or cornbread mix or just mix up cornbread batter if that's in your repertoire. If you use a mix, make sure it isn't a sweet variety of cornbread. Sweet cornbread is just gross in this.
    Serve BEEFY CORNBREAD BAKE with good red wine.
Procedure
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Cook ground beef and oregano in a skillet until browned. Pour off the fat.
  • Add the picante or tomatoes, tomato sauce, and drained corn.
  • Heat through.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  • Pour mixture into a 2-quart square baking dish.
  • Prepare cornbread mix according to the package directions.
  • Spread cornbread batter over the meat mixture.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes until cornbread topping is golden brown.
  • Remove from oven, let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  • If you want to use the additional 1/2 cup of cheese, serve with the casserole, along with extra Picante sauce.
Takeaway Truth

Have a wonderful weekend!

Random Friday: Powerful American Speeches

I have books everywhere. To some, that may sound like a confession. To others, it may sound like bragging. In truth, it's just a fact.

Periodically, I go through all of my books at home and at my house in the country. This process takes a while because I find myself stopping and looking through many of the books.

At Rancho Reeves, our grandiosely-named little country house, I was doing this late tonight and found 199 Things Every American Should Know, a small book I've had for decades that I received as a gift with my subscription to American Heritage Magazine.

In the introduction to this compilation that has a 1988 Copyright, the Editor posed the question: "How precise is the educated American's understanding of the history of our country?"

The Editor did not mean exact knowledge of dates and details like who was what in 1892. Instead, they refer to important facts--laws, treaties, people, and events that an American-educated person might reasonably be expected to know or at least remember being taught in history class.

Unfulfilled Expectation

Unfortunately, in today's world, I think those educated in American public schools probably wouldn't know these facts. I hope that assessment is wrong, but it seems more American young people know the history of the Kardashian family better than the history of this country.

Even sadder is that too many of our elected officials in every strata of government also seem to have forgotten the words that shaped this country. 

Power of Words: 7 Speeches to Remember

George Washington's Farewell Address in 1796: He stressed the importance of national unity as the main pillar of the nation's independence, peace, and prosperity. (Too many people have lost sight of this.)

Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address in 1801: His speech contained the famous reference to the United States as "the world's best hope" and his praise of "the wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another and shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits."

Daniel Webster's Second Reply to South Carolina Senator Robert Y. Hayne in 1830: In it, he called the American flag "the gorgeous ensign of the republic," and concluded with "Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable." This was in rebuttal to Hayne who argued that the separate states were the ultimate source of sovereignty in the American political system.

Abraham Lincoln's House Divided Speech in 1858: This was delivered when he was nominated as the Republican Senatorial candidate from Illinois.

Woodrow Wilson's Call for Declaration of War Againstt Germany in 1917: This speech contains the famous line: "The world must be made safe for democracy." He also insisted in the speech that "we have no quarrel with the German people...We fight without rancor and without selfish object."

Franklin D. Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address in 1933: He said the oft-quoted "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He promised to "put people to work" [the Great Depression was wreaking ruin in America]. He also used the phrase "good neighbor" to describe foreign policy.

I must admit that I was surprised John Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you" speech wasn't included in that, but I guess that was memorable from an emotional standpoint, rather than words reinforcing the tenets of this republic.

Takeaway Truth

The power of words is everlasting. Did you recognize any of these speeches or the phrases in them?

Warning: Avoid Public Charging Stations

I use public charging stations at hospital waiting rooms to keep my cell working. I never thought that it might expose my phone to hacking.

I use Vipre, and their newsletter this month warned about the dangers of public charging stations.

Warning

From the newsletter: "Once a port is compromised, a hacker can view and steal your emails, text messages, photos, and contacts. This kind of hacking is called juice jacking, by which malware might be installed onto, or data copied from a device using a charging port that doubles as a data connection, typically over a USB connection.

Yikes! Something else to be cautious about.

Tired of Technology Traumas

My husband and I were standing in line at Whataburger yesterday at lunch. My Whataburger app wasn't working. You'd think the sky was falling in because the girl at the register didn't know what to do. I said, "Don't worry about it." Oh, no. She ran to get the Manager who started telling me how to trouble shoot it so they could read the bar code (QR code). I wasn't that concerned in getting reward points for our purchase, but everyone else was I guess.

I turned to Larry and said, "I miss the old days. You know, BT--Before Technology. I'm beginning to think life was simpler and much less stressful then.

Takeaway Truth

Remember, don't use a charging station unless the person in charge can tell you what kind of security protects your device. (Yeah, like I'm sure the waiting room volunteer knows all about cyber security.)

Persistence: Sound Bites from Authors Panel

I'm catching up on reading the past issues of my Authors Guild Bulletins. I found the panel discussion at last year's BEA simply riveting.

Barbara Freethy, Joe Konrath, and Scott Turow were on the panel. I love what they had to say and want to share some of it with you.

By the way, if you are not a member of Authors Guild, you ought to consider joining. They are the watchdog that tries to make sure writers can continue supporting themselves by their words.

Scott Turow, former President of Authors Guild

"I am a product of what was regarded as the traditional system. I published Presumed Innocent in 1987 and was hailed as an overnight success, which ignored the fact that I had been writing for 20 years."

Barbara Freethy, Amazon KDP Bestselling Author of All Time

"It's a fantastic time to be a writer, whatever path you choose... There is so much choice now for authors. But what I really like is that I can be in touch with my readers now. The more middlemen you put between you and your readers, the less control you have and generally the less money you make."

"You have to find your brand as you go."

Joe Konrath, Ebook Trailblazer (at least that's how I always think of him)

"You have to get lucky. You have to keep at it. A lot of luck is being prepared for it."


"Don't confuse goals with dreams. I can have a dream to be Scott Turow (but) I never will be... Self-publishing is a goal... You finish your book. You get a good editor. You get a good cover. You make sure the book kicks ass. And you can do it."

Takeaway Truth

What themes do you see in these sound bites? Persistence, opportunity, goals, being professional in your work ethic and in the product you bring to the marketplace, and just putting your butt in the chair and doing the work. That's what it takes.

Review: Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold is the movie based upon Maria Altmann's struggle to have the Klimt painting, Woman in Gold, returned to her as its rightful owner.

The Woman in Gold is actually named Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Adele Bloch-Bauer was Maria Alltmann's aunt. The 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt was one of the thousands of art treasures seized by the Nazis.

Many of these masterpieces were never returned to the rightful owners or their heirs, especially if they ended up in museums as the Klimt painting did in Vienna where it became entrenched as their most famous art work.

Documentary Came First

If you're familiar with The True Story of the Woman in Gold, the documentary about Maria Altmann's years-long attempt to reclaim the Klimt painting of her aunt, then you'll probably enjoy this dramatic recreation of the event.

Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, took on the Austrian government to recover the artwork she believed rightfully belongs to her family. In the movie, Helen Mirren portrays the strong-willed Maria, and Ryan Reynolds stars as the lawyer who took on her allegedly unwinnable case.

My 2 Cents

I watched this on Netflix. You can also find it on Amazon. If you like underdog stories, you'll really appreciate this one, but even better is the dramatic presentation of that terrifying time in history.

Director Simon Curtis makes this a compelling story, beautifully blending fact, dramatic recreation of those long-ago horrors, and seamlessly transitioning back to present day. This interweaving makes this movie imminently watchable.

Takeaway Truth

To learn all the details about Maria Altmann's impossible quest, watch the documentary The True Story of the Woman in Gold. It's just as compelling as the movie.

11 Must Read Blogs You May Have Missed

March has marched in with cold temperatures again and plenty of wind.

I'm catching up on the posts I saved but didn't have time to read last month.

In case you didn't catch them either, here are a few "must reads" along with a couple from SlingWords that you also may have missed.

Blog Tours: Cost vs. Benefit by Nancy Fraser
Great overview of what it costs and what it can do for you.

Flood Of Books Diminishes Best-Seller Staying Power by Book Marketing Buzz Blog is about tracking the best-sellers of 2016.

A very interesting fact this blog pointed out: "In a sign of the times, higher on the trade paperback best-seller list in terms of the number of books on the list in 2016, was Creates Space – over Thomas Nelson, Scribner, Grove, Workman, Harper Perennial, Touchstone or Dey Street."

12 Blog Tips for 2017
How to have more fun and blog faster.

Pixar's 15 Rules of Storytelling by Nicholas Rossis
Unleash your inner storyteller.

Transfer Smashwords Book to Kindle Ereader
How to download from Smashwords and send to your Kindle.

40 Excel Tricks
Just what it says.

Love Audio Books? Stretch Your Money
How to get more audio books for less money.

How to Use Guest Blogging to Promote Your Book
I missed this one back in May when it first published. Info is still valid.

7 Security Tips Avoid Online Scams
Safe practices to make habits.

Is the Mind-Killer in Control of Your Life by Kristen Lamb
Change your thinking.

Books That Cook by Nancy Fraser
Great recipe for Monte Cristo Sandwiches.

Takeaway Truth

There's so much wonderful content on the Internet that it's easy to miss some really good information.

Kiss Me, Thrill Me

You probably noticed that I haven't blogged in a while.

I've been busy getting this remarkable box set, Kiss Me, Thrill Me, ready for publication.

My friends, Mimi Barbour, Dani Haviland, Alicia Street, Mona Risk, and Patrice Wilton joined me in contributing a popular romance novel for this box set. The fabulous Mona Risk actually contributed a bonus book to round out this box set of captivating romance novels.

My friends and I are New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors who know a thing or two about writing memorable romance novels that give you that happily ever after

Something For Everyone

In this box set of 7 full-length novels, you’ll find strong, feisty heroines, heart-throbbing heroes, adorable babies, time tripping adventure, reluctant lovers, sexy European heroes, and lovers from 2 different worlds.

This set is priced just for you at only 99cents, and it's an Amazon Exclusive so get your Kindles ready.

Titles and Authors

Cinderella Blue, a sexy chick lit rom com/cop romance, by Joan ReevesNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

The Surrogate's Child, a forced marriage romance, by Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

Aye, I Am a Fairy, a time travel romance, by Dani Haviland, USA Today bestselling author.

Touch Me and Tango, a second chance at love romance, by Alicia Street, USA Today bestselling author.

Right Name, Wrong Man, a medical romance, by Mona Risk, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

For the Love of Candy, a chick lit romantic comedy, by Patrice Wilton, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

BONUS! Her Greek Tycoon, an international romance, by Mona Risk.

Takeaway Truth

Add Kiss Me, Thrill Me to your romance library today for only 99cents!