Please Don't Spam My Blog

I was short of time this morning, but I saw I had a lot of spam comments.

I took a few minutes to check to see if there were any legitimate comments out of the 87--that's right, 87!!-- comments that had been posted since yesterday.

Nope. Not a single legit comment. Delete. Delete. Delete--every single one.

Dear Spam Bloggers and Those Who Hire You,

In case you don't know, all comments that look suspicious automatically get tossed into "Awaiting Moderation."

If you're paying for someone to post these, you're wasting your money. They will eventually get deleted.

Please don't waste your time and money.

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes I think the internet is more a PITA than a boon to mankind.

Review: Stranger Things

My daughter had been trying for a long time to get me to watch Stranger Things, a science fiction-horror Netflix Original series.

This past week when I craved distraction, I started watching Episode 1 of Season 1 of Stranger Things. I literally could not tear myself away from the TV.

I ended up watching both season 1 and 2, finally finishing up on Saturday. Wow. I was 2 years late in arriving at the party but better late than never.

Season 1 debuted in July 2016, and what a great series the Duffer Brothers created. These two wrote and directed this compelling series. Executive producers were the Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, and Dan Cohen.

The Amazing Actors

The cast from both seasons features well-known Winona Ryder, Matthew Modine, and not so well-known, at least by name, David Harbour who is instantly recognized for his many roles as a journeyman actor. He is absolutely superb in this role--believable, likable, and exhibiting all the strengths and weaknesses that make up a human being.

Toss in Cara Buono, Sean Astin, and Paul Reiser as some of the adults along with  guest appearances by many of the actors/actresses from Stargate SG1 and finish with a mostly unknown cast of kids who play the intrepid adventurers out to save their friend who disappeared one dark and creepy night.

These amazing young actors are: Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, and Joe Keeryroles.

About Stranger Things

Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the 1980s, the first season focuses on the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy and the appearance of a girl with psychokinetic abilities who helps the missing boy's friends in their search.

The second season, Stranger Things 2, is set one year later, and deals with attempts of the characters to return to normal life and the consequences resulting from season one.

The series was planned to be an investigative drama colored with supernatural elements, all portrayed with childlike sensibilities.

The series is a love song to the 80's pop culture. That means a great soundtrack and visual references like movie posters such as John Carpenter's The Thing hanging on a boy's bedroom wall. Pop culture bits are sprinkled into the dialogue, scenery, and action.

My Thought

Don't delay. Watch Stranger Things today. If you don't have Netflix, you can get Stranger Things, Season 1, as a 4-DVD set from Amazon for $19.50. It looks as if Stranger Things 2 is going to be one of the big hits for the holiday buying season. Amazon has it listed on their Holiday Toy List.

Stranger Things 2, the complete season, is available for $22.99.

Takeaway Truth

Stranger Things is better than anything I can think of on network television. It's smart, funny, emotional, scary, and compelling in every way.

Don't Exercise? Better Start

Wouldn't it be great if most illness could be prevented by nutrition and exercise?

That may be a real possibility in the future. More and more studies show that diet and exercise are the way to good health and the fountain of youth.

Americans and Fitness

1. 30 to 40% of heart attacks are preventable by 20 minutes a day of brisk walking.

2. Every year, 260,000 deaths in the U. S. are attributed to a lack of physical activity.

3. 31 million of adults 50 and over are not physically active.

Thing About Yoga

In the U. S., about 36 million Americans practice yoga, and 39% of those who practice yoga are over 50.  What can yoga do for you?

1. Improve balance.

2. Improve flexibility.

3. Increase memory and focus.

4. Decrease anxiety and reduce stress.

5. Do it before bedtime, and sleep better at night.

6. Ease back pain.

7. Relieve frequency and intensity of headaches.

8. Breathe better.

9. Slow the aging process.

10. Curb neck pain.

Have you tried yoga?

Leave a comment to be entered in the November Giveaway.

Takeaway Truth

Yoga classes are offered everywhere, and there are books, DVDs, and videos on YouTube. Check it out.

Aging Vision? A Solution

Here's something I read recently that surprised me. If you are one of the millions of aging baby boomers, you need to know this.

Just about everyone knows aging eyes need more illumination for sharp vision. What you may not know is that this is especially true of seeing at night.

Aging eyes need more illumination to see at night. It can take older eyes 10 minutes longer than younger eyes to recover from the "bleaching effect" caused by oncoming vehicle lights.


If you're having difficulty with your night vision, there is a solution. Ask your optometrist about night-driving glasses which reduce glare and increase contrast.

Takeaway Truth

When you find something about your physical body changing, don't be resigned to it as an aspect of aging. There may be a solution so search for answers.

Saturday Share: Buying Produce

Like many people, you probably wonder if you should buy organic or the less-expensive "regular" produce.

Isn't one just as good as the other?

Here's an easy rule of thumb to follow. If you plan to eat the item without peeling it, choose organic.

If you're going to peel it before eating, buy regular produce.

Other Produce Issues

Every item in the produce section has a label stating the country of origin. If the item was grown in the U.S.A., it may be safer to eat than something grown in another country.

Illegal Pesticides

Why do I make that bold statement? Because DDT and other pesticides that are illegal in the U.S. are still used in some countries. Unless you want to research which countries use unsafe pesticides, make it a practice to buy homegrown produce.

Washing Produce

You should thoroughly wash all produce before eating.

Even if bagged salad mix says, Pre-washed, ready to eat, do yourself a favor. Wash it from leafy greens to watermelons, always wash.

I know other sources say not to do this, but ever since I washed a bag of ready to eat salad mix and saw little dead bugs in the water, I've washed these bagged greens.

Make it a practice to wash all produce before you store it in your fridge. Even if the exterior of the item is to be discarded, wash it.

Cantaloupes and other melons can carry salmonella bacteria on their rinds. If you slice through one that's affected, you run the risk of salmonella contamination spreading from the knife that pierced the melon to the flesh of the melon. This is only one possible source of contamination by microbes.

How To Wash

1. Wash your hands first with hot soapy water before and after preparing food.

2. Clean your counter top, cutting boards, and any utensils you'll use to pare or cut produce. After you finish washing the produce, clean all the kitchen surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water.

3. Never use soap or detergent to wash produce.

4. Use clean potable cold water to wash items. Even better than the cold water from your tap is distilled water.

5. For produce with thick skin, use a clean vegetable brush to scrub away microbes that might be hard to remove.

6. Produce with a lot of textures and indentations like cauliflower, broccoli, and leafy greens should be soaked for 1 to 2 minutes in cold clean water.

7. Berries can be especially problematic. Do not soak in water. Place in a clean colander and spray or pour distilled water over them then dry with a clean paper towel.

8. Once you cut and/or peel produce, always refrigerate as soon as possible.

9. Never buy cut portions of produce if they haven't been refrigerated.

Do you wash the produce you buy?

Leave a comment to be entered in the November Giveaway.

Takeaway Truth

Every year you hear food warnings about produce. Washing decreases the risk from microbes and pesticides so it's always a smart thing to do.

Use Your Green Thumb to Sleep Better

Photo by Ivan Obolensky from Pexels
Sleep. Every doctor advises a good night's sleep, but getting that is difficult for many.

Everyone always offers the usual advice on how to sleep well, but I've got a suggestion you may not have heard before: cleaner indoor air.

Fortunately, that's something to try that's relatively inexpensive and easy to implement.

Just add some real live growing plants to your sleep environment.

Researchers have found through several studies that houseplants can remove toxins in the environment which may help you rest better.

10 Plants That Clean the Air

Aloe Vera should be in every kitchen becaues there's nothing better to treat a burn with. Turns out it's also cleans the air, removing chemicals called VOCs (Volatile Organic Cmpounds).

Bay Laurel
Areca or Butterfly Palm (Proper name: Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) removes more toluene and xylene than any other plant. Toluene is found in formaldehyde and in paint thinners, nail polish remover, and glues as well as other chemicals.

Xylene is used as a solvent in printing, rubber, and leather industries. This palm also emits a lot of water vapor too which makes it excellent since air conditioning dries out the air.

Bamboo or Reed Palm (Proper name: Chamaedorea seifrizii) also removes formaldehyde as well as benzene, an ingredient used in dyes, lubricants, rubber, and detergents. It also removes the industrial solvent trichloroethylene.

Boston Fern (Proper name: Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”) is one of the best in its ability to remove formaldehyde which seems to be in just about everything.


Photo by saifullah hafeel from Pexels
Chrysanthemum (Proper Name: Chrysanthemum Morifolium) is a personal favorite of mine. It's good for removing benzene from the air.

I usually keep a pot of them on my coffee table. When the blossoms eventually fade, I plant them in my garden. I have a rainbow of colored mums at my country house and my house in town.

Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Proper name: Dracaena deremensis) is one of the best in removing trichloroethylene from the air.

Dwarf Date Palm (Proper name: Phoenix roebelenii) removes airborne chemicals, especially at removing the common solvent ingredient xylene.

English Ivy (Proper name: Hedera Helix) is a beautiful pot plant that's also effective at removing mold spores from the air.

Ficus Alii (Proper name: Ficus macleilandii “Alii”) is effective in removing formaldehyde from the air.

Snake Plant by ehsan ahmadnejad - Pexels
Peace Lily (Proper name: Spathiphyllum "Mauna Loa") removes alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde as well as releasing water vapor into the air.

Rubber Plant (Proper name: Ficus robusta) has been popular since the Victorian era and is effective at removing formaldehyde from indoor air.

For Those With No Green Thumb

I know some of you will say you have absolutely no horticultural talent, but there's a solution for you too. The Snake Plant, aka Mother-in-law's Tongue, is perfect for you.

The vertical knife-like blades are a deep green with variegated striations. They look attractive alone in a pot or with companion plantings.

The Snake Plant is about as low maintenance as you can get, and it's excellent at cleaning the air.

Do you have plants indoors? If so, what kind?

Leave a comment to be entered in the Random Draw November Giveaway. See details at the top of the left sidebar.

Takeaway Truth

I'm a firm believer in trying natural solutions to problems. Try some of these and let me know if they help.

Review: Great British Baking Show~The Beginnings

I was overjoyed to see a New Release on Netflix a few days ago: The Great British Baking Show: The Beginnings.

I had rejoiced a few weeks ago when I saw a new season of The Great British Baking Show, but I was crushed when this new season did not have grandmotherly Mary Berry and the two comic sidekicks Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

Instead, Paul Hollywood was joined by Prue Leith as a judge who isn't grandmotherly at all. She reminds me more of a brusque captain of industry. Even worse Mel and Sue were replaced by Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding. I'm sure Sandi and Noel are lovely people, but they don't have the sense of humor or compassion displayed by Mel and Sue.

New Beginnings

This time I wasn't let down because The Great British Baking Show: The Beginnings has the original crew: Paul, Mary, Mel, and Sue.

In truth The Beginnings isn't new. In fact it's a single season of the show even though Netflix branded it as a new Original. I believe it's actually the second season of this long-running show which first debuted in 2010.

In the UK, this show is known as The Great British Bake-Off. The name had to be changed for the U.S. market because Pillsbury owns the trademarked phrase “Bake-Off.”

The BBC had a deal with Love Productions, the production company for the show, for seven years. During that time, the show became a huge international hit.

There's something uniquely addicting about this bunch of bake-crazy contestants.

I love watching them bake whatever is required for each of the challenges because they're all so darn polite and nice to each other. It's refreshing after watching some American reality shows.

Success of course means Love Productions wants more money. So they broke with the BBC. Thus the last 2 seasons have aired on Channel 4 in the UK, with exclusive streaming rights on Netflix.

(The first of these seasons was the one that deflated my enthusiasm after watching a couple of episodes.)

For now though, with the release of this old "new" season, we have Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, Mel, and Sue back for a while. So be sure and watch. It's like reuniting with old friends.

By the way, are you a fan of the show? If so, have you ever baked anything you saw on the The Great British Baking Show?

Leave a comment in order to be entered in the November Giveaway.

Takeaway Truth

I haven't, but I have started baking cakes again, much to my husband's delight.

4 Brain Health Facts to Know


I'm always interested in learning something that will keep my brain healthy and strong. I want to look good, feel good, and have good cognitive function when I get older. I bet you want that too.

I gleaned some interesting facts from reading several magazines that had piled up at home. I'm happy to share this information with you today.

1. Scientific studies of brain and behavior have revealed some very interesting data that says every person has unique genetic "hard wiring" in the brain which makes the person predisposed to be thrifty or extravagant.

Of course, even if you're genetically hardwired to be a spendthrift, you can change that by behavior modification, education, and attitude adjustment--just as you can change the inevitability of having a heart attack if you have genetic risk factors.

I guess that's where free will comes into play.

2. Yoga. Worth the time and effort? The answer is a resounding yes. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga is great for brain function. It improves memory and focus and also helps the brain process information more effectively.

3. We all know that high blood pressure, if uncontrolled, can kill you. But do you realize that it can harm your brain without actually killing you? Millions are on blood pressure medication. In addition to medication, there's an easy natural thing you can do to lower blood pressure.

Listen to classical music like Mozart for 20 to 30 minutes. This calms you and thus lowers blood pressure when you are upset, stressed, and anxious. So take a music break. You can listen while driving, cooking dinner, or working at your desk.

4. An unexpected way to improve brain health is to tidy up your environment. Is your desk neat and organized or a total paper blizzard complete with empty coffee cups sitting around?

Well, guess what? The smart people who study cognitive function have determined that those who work in noisy or dirty environments are at greater risk for long-term cognitive decline than the neat freaks.

Are you neat or messy? Leave a comment to be entered in the November Giveaway. See top of left sidebar for details.

Btw, if you reply in a language other than English, I'll attempt to use Google Translate to read your response.  If I am unable to do so, then I regretfully recognize that you cannot be entered in the random drawing Giveaway.

Takeaway Truth

Do everything you can to keep your brain healthy. In the long run, that's the most important thing you can do to live happily ever after.

SitRep on Home Network

My wonderful husband got the rest of our computers cleaned today.

Tomorrow, as soon as CenterPoint, the company that maintains the power transmission cables, finishes their repair/upgrade, I'll be back on line.

Always Something

Yes, another technology hiccup. When I came home from the doctor's office today, there was a printed notice from CenterPoint lying on the flagstone. It said they would be cutting power sometime between Sept. 6 and Sept. 9 to do repairs/upgrades.

I'm not surprised. So many neighborhoods near us were flooded during Hurricane Harvey last year that I figured cables of every sort would have to eventually be replaced.

Takeaway Truth

Like Roseanne Roseannadanna, the character created by the late great Gilda Radner, always said: "It's always something."

We Were Hacked

AGH!

Our entire home network at our house in the country seems to have been  hacked.

Darling Hubby has worked all day to get us back up and running. He has 1 computer clean, and is now working on getting another fixed.

Presently, we're both using this one that's back in working order.

I don't know how it happened. I personally think it was something that came in with a software update that our comprehensive anti-virus/malware didn't catch--which is a first. 

Larry's been talking to that bunch of software support all day.

Takeaway Truth

No post here until we get another computer operative. Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow.

Quote About Copyright

Okay, I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I wanted to share something I read recently about copyright.

Most people who are NOT writers don't understand why the rights granted to an author under copyright law are so important.

Too many people don't understand why illegally downloading a book, song, or software isn't just illegal but also killing making it impossible for those with creative careers to pay their bills.

Why should you pay for someone's creative work? I saw this quote in my Authors Guild magazine.

"Opponents of rigorous copyright protection say, writers will write anyway [without that protection]. That's like saying somebody likes to bake, so when they open a bakeshop, why does anyone need to pay for the cookies and cakes?" ~ Mary Rasenerger

I'll answer the question posed in Ms. Rasenerger's quote. Because if you don't pay, the baker will go broke and get a different kind of job where they can get paid.

Takeaway Truth

If writers and musicians can't make a living wage with their creative works, then they'll stop doing that and get a job that gives them a way to pay the rent and put food on the table.

GIVEAWAY NOTE: See top of the Left Sidebar for details about the November Giveaway. 

Saturday Share: 4 Pages A Website Must Have

If you do business online, whether you're selling wingnuts or books, you need a website.

That website, whether it's a dot com home or a blog, needs to have 4 basic pages.

This isn't difficult, and it can be as simple or as complex as you choose.

The important thing is to get those basic pages in place so visitors will know who you are, what you're offering, and how to get in touch with you. Ideally, you'll have these pages in place before you "open for business."

The Homepage

Some may think a Homepage is the same as a Landing Page. It is very similar, but there are differences.

Some of the same information can be used on both pages, but a landing page is about the product, service, or the offer.

The Homepage is the door or portal into your website. This starting page opens when someone clicks your URL.

It should contain a short welcoming note, your photo, your short bio, easy navigation links to the other pages, your social links, your mailing list subscription box, and perhaps your current book cover.

About

This page is a chance to give more information about you the website or blog owner. Also include your social links and your mailing list signup form. This can be considered an informal press kit so bloggers, reviewers, etc. can glean facts about you.

Books

Here's your chance to display your books: cover, title, blurb, buy links, excerpt or a link to read more, and your mailing list signup box again.

Contact

Please, please include a Contact Page. There is nothing more irritating to a visitor than to wish to get in touch with the website owner and not having a way to contact the author. Include an email address, snail mail address, social media links, and a mailing list signup box.

Takeaway Truth

That's all you need. Do you have those 4 pages on your website?

Leave a reply in Comments to be entered in the November Giveaway.

NOVEMBER GIVEAWAY: See the top of the left sidebar for details.

7 Video Book Trailer Tips + Giveaway

I recently completed 2 more video book trailers for romance box sets. I like making videos, but I'd like to improve my skills. That's one of my goals for the new year.

I've made 36 videos, and I've learned a few things along the way.

Video Book Trailer Tips

1. Timing is everything.
Do your best to keep the video as short as possible because attention spans seem to get shorter as time goes on.

My first video was over 2 minutes long, and that was just for 1 book. My last 2 videos were 60 seconds, and both videos were for book collections. One contained 26 books, and the other was for a 7 book collection.

Watch the Video for SWEET and SASSY SUSPENSE
2. An effective video trailer should be a miniature visual representation of the story or book.
What's the essence of your story? Distill it.

3. Think like a movie writer/director.
That means think visually, not so much with words but with images and sparse text or dialogue.

4. Like a good book, a video trailer should hook you immediately.
Use whatever works for the story. (1) an evocative image or video clip of a character or characters or of a scene (2) a soundbite snippet (remember Dirty Harry movies? "Go ahead--make my day.") or a tagline or (3) evocative mood music that captures the essence of the story.

Watch the Video for LOVE, CHRISTMAS 2
5. From the hook, like a good book, show the push/pull of motivation and conflict the hero/heroine experiences.
As in #4, use whatever works to keep it interesting and moving along.

6. Like a good book, have an epic ending.
The ending will stay with viewers and make them think back to the beginning. Hopefully. At least, that's your goal.

7. Coordinate all the elements in your video. 
Plan your design from the images, video clips, fonts, text, and music to coordinate much as you would put together clothing and accessories.

November Giveaway

I'm giving away prizes this month. To be entered in the random drawing Giveaway for a chance to win one of the Writing Journals shown here, answer this question in Comments.

How many video book trailers have you watched?

(1) Leave your answer along with your email address written out, NOT as a hot link, in Comments to be entered in a random draw for one of the writing journals shown at left.

(2) Winners will be chosen by random draw from all those who leave comments on my blog posts. Increase your chances by leaving a comment in answer to the posted question on any of the blog posts I publish this month.

(3) Winners from U. S. eligible for the prizes shown. Winners from outside the U. S. will receive ebooks instead.

(4) Drawings will be held on Black Friday, November 23.

(5) Winners will be contacted by email no later than Nov. 28.

I blogged at Gems In the Attic today also. Just click to visit Gems In the Attic, answer the question I posed in that post, and leave your answer in Comments.

I'll be blogging here at SlingWords every day this month so leave a comment on any post in answer to the question I pose each day.

You'll also find me at these blogs:

AuthorsBillboard on Nov. 6

Smart Girls Read Romance on Nov. 16.

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy the videos!

VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * YouTube * Joan's Website.

Be the first to know about New Books and Giveaways, sign up for Joan's Mailing List.

New Month, New Box Sets

Yep. That's a wrap, folks. I'm talking about October. It came. It went.

I barely noticed because I was inundated with family crises and spent most of the month out of the office.

My dear sister-in-law who spent most of September hospitalized is home and improving so I'm back in the office.

Thrilled To Return to Status Quo

In the meantime, I mostly missed the excitement of our Love, Christmas 2: Holiday Movies collection hitting the USA Today Bestseller list.

Love, Christmas 2: Holiday Movies now has 88 reviews averaging 4.8 stars.

My book in the holiday collection is Brianna's Season for Miracles.

A Reviewer said this about Brianna's Season for Miracles:

"...this one happens to include one of my favorite authors Joan Reeves. Just finished Ms. Reeves contribution: Brianna’s Season For Miracles. It’s a charming, inspiring story.

"Brianna Walker is a beautiful, intelligent woman whose confidence has been crushed by a childhood stigma. She was let down, not only by the system but her wealthy parents as well, and she spent her youth living down to everyone else’s expectations. She’s managed to turn her life around, but the past comes calling. It’s the holidays, and her widower father wants her to come to the family ranch in West Texas. Her return home after years of estrangement is not what she expected, however. Things have changed, and the addition of sexy house guest Daniel Kelly is disconcerting if intriguing. Daniel is a published author, there ostensibly to do research and write. Yet his presence is not all it seems.

"As I was reading two things struck me. Small town West Texas is an iconic Christmas setting, a bit like stepping into another more tranquil, pastoral time. Snow drifts and horse drawn sleighs and hot chocolate chip cookies from the oven. My favorites. The other was-at least for me-the theme of the story, the all-too-common angst that exists in families and how it’s highlighted during the holidays. Who hasn’t had to deal with that? The romance is front and center, of course, but there’s healing going on, forgiveness. I Love multi-layered stories, not always easy to do in a novelette’s shorter format, but Ms. Reeves delivers in spades."

Love, Christmas 2: Holiday Movies is only 99cents so if you haven't grabbed this bargain of 26 all-new holiday romances, don't wait. Get it today for the weekend.

Breaking News

The latest news is the publication of Sweet and Sassy Suspense: Deceptions and Romance on October 31--yesterday! (The year seems to be passing at warp speed.)

Seven sweet and sassy suspense novels from NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Suspense, intrigue, crime, secrets, deception, and lies--even some sassy, sexy humor too! That's what Sweet and Sassy Suspense: Deceptions and Romance is, and each story has a strong heroine yearning to find love with her heroes.

This collection is only 99cents to buy and keep forever, or read for free if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

My contribution to Sweet and Sassy Suspense: Deceptions and Romance is The Trouble With Love.

Southern Yankee Book Review said this about The Trouble With Love:

"HOT, HOT, HOT, with a side of funny! I enjoyed this book for quite a few reasons. First, I loved the characters and how there were multiple relationships showcased. Susannah and her mother Rory both have issues when it comes to love and they may both be wrong. Then there is that little almost one night stand Susannah had with the man standing in the little town's police station, where she just happens to work. Hogan is a hot as can be 'consultant' or is he? There is heat, passion, forgiveness, trust issues, and lots of fun."

Catch You Later

I've spent the last couple of days combing through a few thousand emails. Maybe I can actually read the hundred that need replies this weekend. *g*

If you're not snowed under the way I am, grab these collections and have some reading fun.

Takeaway Truth

Wishing you a fabulous weekend. I'm back to blogging so you can look for a new post from me every day.