Be Smart: Wipe Hard Drive

I'm getting ready to junk an old computer, but I'm going to donate it to a charity-operated resale shop.

If you ever donate or even junk an old computer, take a few moments to do it correctly. Yes, there's a right way and a wrong way to do it, and in this era of identity-theft, you need to do it the right way.

Properly De-Commission Computers

Whether you’re going to give the old desktop or laptop to a family member, donate it to Goodwill, send it to a recycling center, or set it on the curbside for garbage pick-up, be smart and wipe that hard drive clean.

Surely you all know that just because you delete a file, doesn’t mean the file has disappeared. Anyone with a few skills can recover deleted files. So obtain software that wipes the hard drive clean. There are many software packages available that do this.

WipeDrive by White Canyon is one, and it’s inexpensive. The Department of Defense used this product so that should tell you something. There are other softwares on the market. You may even find some freeware or shareware that accomplishes this task.

Shop online or your local stores for a software that meets your budget and needs. Then use it to ensure your private information remains private.

Takeaway Truth

The few minutes you take to secure your private data is a time investment well spent.

Teaching Readers & Writers About Tags

Most writers know how important tags, or keywords, are. However, tags are important elements for readers too because it gives them an opportunity to express their opinions about a book.

(A version of this article previously appeared on Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you'd like articles like this as soon as they are published.)

Tag or Keyword Defined

Tags, often called keywords, or the words or phrases used to describe something in a way that someone entering those specific words in a Search Engine can find the information for which they search.

Keywords are important in SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and that means you want the best and most popular keywords (meaning used most often) to send searchers to your information or product. With books, you want to use the perfect keywords in writing your Product Description and in tagging your book. Using the perfect keywords is optimizing the search engine results. That's your goal.


I'll be talking about Amazon today, but all the ebook sellers use keywords or tags.

Amazon allows an author to specify 7 keywords when you upload a book file through KDP.

After the book is live on the webpage, the author may add another 8 keywords. Always do this so you have 15 keywords that you have specifically selected to describe your book so that Search Engines (and that's what Amazon is) can find your book.

Readers can also add tags if they don't see one on there that they think describes the book. That's why you see some books with far more than 15 tags--readers added the others.

The more times someone has clicked to AGREE with your tags, the higher in the rankings your book will appear. This means, for example, that if my book has had my tags agreed with by web visitors 50 times, but another very similar book has only had 1 person agree with their tags, my book will come up in a search result sooner than the other writer's book.

Anyone who visits your book page can click to AGREE with the tags or to DISAGREE. If you want to agree or disagree with a writer's tags, make sure you expand the Tag list so that all tags show so you'll know what you are expressing an opinion about.Don't forget, you can also add other tags.

Authors love it when readers who like their books, agree with tags, add new favorable tags, agree with good reviews, etc.

Only 1 Per Customer

Since all ebook sellers place tracking cookies, you can only undertake these actions above only once. That's right, 1 time per authorized user. That keeps people from voting themselves up or a competitor down. (Yes, it happens. There are jealous authors out there.)

How You Make Your Opinion Known

Readers, if you like a book or an author, show them in these ways:

1. Click LIKE right below the book title.

2. Click AGREE on any good review if you agree.

3. Click DISAGREE on any negative review if you think it is without merit.

4. Write your own favorable review. It doesn't have to be long.

I think everyone has a right to their own opinion about a book. I would never vote against a review that was thoughtful and stated why they didn't care for the book. Everything is subjective. However, if I had a review that said things like a lot I've seen, i.e., "I hate romance but I read it anyway and it was a piece of garbage." or "This was only 99cents and it wasn't worth that." or "This author is stupid and doesn't know what she's talking about." or "This book was about adultery, and that's a sin so I give this book 1 star."

Those are subjective comments, not reviews. A review tells what's good about a book as well as what was lacking. Too many of the reviews you find on Amazon and other ebook seller sites sound like the snark you find at office parties. So think carefully and analyze before you take action.

5. Scroll down and find the TAGS. AGREE, ADD, or DISAGREE.

Make sure there are no typos in the tag you assign or the book may end up with a meaningless tag like OMANTIC rather than ROMANTIC.

6. Don't use your ability to express your opinion about a book as a forum for airing any personal grievances or grudges or for expressing political, religious, or sexual opinions.

Takeaway Truth

The ability to express an opinion online also carries with it the responsibility to be fair. Authors work hard at their craft so please be objective and honest. What you say may impact their ability to earn a living.

Do We Ever Leave High School?

I've written a couple of books, Just One Look and Jane (I'm Still Single) Jones, populated by characters who had so much emotional baggage from high school that their experiences had a lasting effect on them.

A few reviewers took issue with the fact that a person would be so profoundly affected, 10 or more years later, by something that happened in high school.

I was thinking about that this morning when I learned that Is There Life After High School by Ralph Keyes is now available as an ebook.I read that book long ago and agreed with everything it said!

In my first ebook romantic comedy, Just One Look, my heroine Jennifer Monroe comes face to face, in a most embarrassing manner, with the man who had broken her heart when they were both in high school. When he not only doesn't recognize her but also inadvertently insults her, she wants payback--and she goes about getting it!

If you didn't read Mr. Keyes's book when it was first published in 1979, I recommend you do so now. It's a great resource about the effect of one's high school experience. Even 33 years later, the book is still relevant and is often quoted by other psychologists in papers, blogs, and websites.


Mr. Keyes interviewed hundreds of people across the U. S. from the obscure to the famous...  "successful and unsuccessful, after reading countless magazine articles, books, and scholarly treatises, after listening to stacks of 45 rpm records, watching television and movies, and after attending all manner of reunions (from a fifth to a fiftieth), Ralph Keyes has come to the conclusion that Kurt Vonnegut was right — high school is closer to the core of the American Experience than anything else I can think of."

Forced To Agree

I concur with Mr. Vonnegut and Mr. Keyes. In fact, I've listened to so many high school stories of heartbreak, embarrassment, and humiliation--from my generation to my kids' generation--that I often wonder if we ever leave high school behind us. For so many, the way we were treated in high school made us who we are--the good and the bad. Many of us carry those high school hurts inside just as many of us strove to excel just to prove that we were more than our high school image showed.

In JANE I'm-Still-Single JONES, my second book with past high school angst as a defining moment, my heroine Jane Louise Jones agrees to attend her 10-year high school reunion only because she thinks that Morgan Sherwood, the high school geek who left town--and her--to make it big to the tune of millions, isn't going to be there. Unfortunately, Morgan shows up, the problems begin, and the sexual tension skyrockets.

Those Who Disagree

Maybe the naysayers--those who don't believe that high school has a lasting traumatic effect--are those who were the popular kids in high school. Maybe they were the football heroes, the cheerleaders, and the beauty queens--Miss Most Popular or Mr. Most Likely To Succeed.

Takeaway Truth

I wasn't one of those. Chances are, you weren't either.

Wind And Resistance

I'm at Rancho Reeves. That's what we call our little house here in the Texas Hill Country. Often, I use the time here as my own personal writing retreat. No television to speak of. Not much of anything going on here which is kind of nice. It gives one a chance to tune in to nature and notice things.

For instance, today I'm noticing the wind. It's really blowing here. The windsock at the private airfield is straight out with the wind coming from the north. It's actually quite cool here today.

I'm sitting on the back porch and watching the fields of native grass ripple like waves on water as the wind sweeps over it like a giant hand brushing against the slender green strands.

Poet Kahlil Gibran, a favorite of my hippie generation, wrote: "For what is it to die, but to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?" There's a profound truth to those words that appeal to me.

Wind Is Resistance

Winston Churchill said: "Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it."

As an author, indeed, as a human being, we often face obstacles and resistance in our effort to achieve something worthwhile. Sometimes, wind will send a kite crashing to the ground. The trick is to use the wind to send the kite aloft. Tending the kite, feeding it line until it catches the wind. Veteran kite flyers know this.

If you believe in what you're trying to achieve, then know, going in, that you will meet resistance. Fight for what you want. Meet the challenges and figure out how to use the resistance to your advantage.

Wind Is Propulsion

Singer--yes, he was a singer before he was a sausage king--Jimmy Dean said it this way: "I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."

That's what we must do to grab our respective brass ring. We must take each challenge that comes our way and learn how to use it to propel us forward much as wind pushes against a sail to send a boat skimming across the water.

Takeaway Truth

Wind can extinguish a small untended flame, but the same wind can stoke a small flame that's being fed kindling into a roaring fire.

Lone Star Writing Contest Open

Every year, the Northwest Houston Chapter of Romance Writers of America hosts the Lone Star Conference.

This year, the 20TH Annual LONE STAR Conference is slated for October 13 and features James Scott Bell as keynote speaker. Bell's topic is Plot and Structure.


Editors and Agents

Chris Keeslar, Editor-in-Chief, Burroughs Publishing

Liz Pelletier, Entangled Publishing

Agent: Elaine Spencer, The Knight Agency

Location: Houston Marriott North at Greenspoint

Date/Time: October 13, 2012 from 9 am to 5 pm. Registration and breakfast are 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Cost: $130

Lone Star Writing Competition

As a part of the conference, the prestigious Lone Star Writing Competition is held each year. That contest for unpublished authors is now open. Clicking the link above will take you to the entry form.


Fee: $25.00 ($20.00 for NWH members).

Payments accepted through Paypal.

Early bird entry: $5 discount on all entries submitted by midnight May 26, 2012.


Contemporary Series Romance

Single Title Historical or Regency Romance

Romantic Suspense or Romantic Intrigue

Fantasy, Futuristic, Paranormal

Inspirational Romance

Young Adult Romance

Deadline: Midnight CST June 9, 2012

First 150 entries are guaranteed admission. Additional entries accepted subject to judge availability.

Takeaway Truth

The Lone Star Conference is one of the best around. Take advantage of the chance to meet editors, agents, and authors published traditionally and as indies. Writers who win and place in the contest often end up with book contracts so don't hesitate to enter.

Readers Guide to Unfamiliar Literature

Do you know about DebbiesIdea? This is a website created by a reader to help other readers find new authors. What a fabulous idea for readers and writers!

(This article previously appeared on Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers. Subscribe today if you want to read articles like this as soon as they are published.)

Tagline Says It All

What to Read First: A Reader's Guide to Unfamiliar Literature. This website may be a great place to gain some free exposure.

If you just want to find new authors, you don't need to register. However, if you want to post a comment or make a recommendation about which book to read first, or to add to their database, then you do need to register.

Most of the authors listed on the site are traditionally published, but I didn't see any prohibition against indie authors so I registered. It's free. After you confirm registration, you can add data to the site. I added myself as an author. Here's my listing so you can see what a listing on the site looks like.

Promote This Worthwhile Site

If you sign up, be sure and promote the site because it's really a good idea in action. I plan to promote the site and my page via my blog and in emails to readers. I'll also put it on a business card to drop in those "win a lunch" goldfish bowls in local restaurants. There are a lot of ways you can utilize this listing. I think it's a worthwhile site and another place to gain some free exposure.

More Info helps you decide which of an author's books to read first. (I have series, and I get emails about which to read first so this is a good site to list your series books especially.) is a free, noncommercial public service created by people who love books. Here, you can get help deciding which book to read first by an author you haven't read before OR can help another reader by recommending where to start reading a writer whose work you know well.

Additionally, you can SEARCH for a specific author you are curious about reading or wish to recommend, BROWSE a list of AUTHORS to get ideas about what to read next, or BROWSE by GENRE to find books in a style you enjoy.

Marketing Theory

Writers who promote know that conventional marketing wisdom says someone must see or hear a name at least 9 times before the name is remembered. In today's world where there are so many people, media, and products vying for a customer's attention and money, it may take more than 9 times before a name makes an impact on someone's consciousness.

There are few credible, effective ways to advertise for free so always try different venues to see if they help you in name recognition and/or sales. This website may be one of the ways that can help, plus, it does a service to readers in helping them find new authors to read.

Takeaway Truth

The more places that display your name; the better your chance of being remembered when a reader is shopping for a book.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.

Best Job In The World

Today I'm celebrating another milestone. My second romantic comedy The Trouble With Love was published a year ago on April 16.


I sold a shorter version of this story, and it was published in 2009 and 2010 as a serialized romance novel on Romantic4Ever. However, I loved the characters so much, particularly the secondary characters, that I wanted to expand the story.

I did that and gave the heroine's mother Rory her own love story within the book. I've received as much email from readers about Rory's love story as I have about Susannah and Hogan's romance.

The Trouble With Love spent some time on the Kindle Top 100 Paid list last summer, and it continues to sell at all the ebook sellers.

The Future

The second book in that series Romeo and Judy Anne is also available. In this book, Judy Anne Palmer, Susannah's cousin, makes her debut.

I'm happy that the first book, now a year old was a success--so was the second book--because that means I'll revisit fictional Alton County, Texas, for books 3 and 4 of the Texas One Night Stands series.

This summer, I'll be publishing the third book in the series, Forever Starts Tonight. This book stars Allison Platt who was introduced in The Trouble With Love as Hogan's cousin.

In The Trouble With Love, Allison described her early marriage and divorce as a typical case of being "young and stupid. She was young; he was stupid." That's all I'll say now about the book. I'm having a great time writing Allison's story.

Takeaway Truth

I've got the best job in the whole world.

Rules of Engagement

Tonight I'm speaking at Houston Bay Area Romance Writers of America. My topic is the title of this blog post.

I'll be talking about what writers should know when charging the ramparts of self-publishing. Being a self-publisher is akin to warfare in some respects. He/she who isn't armed with the right weapons is toast. That idea is the genesis of the Rules of Engagement title.

Once Upon A Time

Once a publishing company's staff handled all the functions of getting a book to market and making sure that book sold, and agents handled the authorial business end. At least, that's how it was all supposed to work. For A list authors, it worked great. Beyond that, you were pretty much at the mercy of fate.

Today's Scene

In today's indie world, you do it all. Some writers though don't go the extra mile. I'll cover ISBN, Copyright, Seller Exclusives, Sub-rights deals, and more.

If you're in the Houston area, you're welcome to visit tonight's meeting of Houston Bay Area RWA. The meeting starts at 7:15 and is in the Kirkmont MUD Building, 10102 Blackhawk. This is a great writing group if you're looking for like-minded writers who strive to be career professionals.

Takeaway Truth

I'm including the content of this presentation in my new nonfiction, Ebook Success.

Daughter Victim of Hit & Run

On Thursday afternoon, April 12, about 3:00, my daughter, the newlywed, was driving her blue Mustang convertible on I-10, eastbound. A white Ford Pickup whipped over behind her and tried to pass her--at least that's what we suspect happened. The Ford pickup was traveling at a high rate of speed.

The driver struck her car on the right rear between the bumper and the right rear wheel then slammed into the side of her car sending her spinning in circles across 5 lanes of traffic. Her car landed in the HOV lane between Antoine and Silber exits.

The driver of the Ford pickup sped away. No effort was made to stop and render aid.

If you witnessed this accident, please call the Harris County Sheriff's Department at 713-221-6000 and report what you witnessed.

God must have been watching out for my daughter because no other vehicle struck her car as it was spinning out of control across the width of that freeway. She landed in the HOV lane, facing the wrong direction.

She managed to call me and then 911. By the time I got there, the ambulance and police had arrived and taken charge of the scene.

My daughter survived without major injury, but the driver of the Ford pickup did not know that. The callous disregard for someone whose life may have depended on a prompt call to 911 for an ambulance is chilling.


Not the driver of the vehicle that hit her and not any of the hundreds of vehicles that passed.

Texas drivers, I'm ashamed of you.

Takeaway Truth

Always stop and render aid. Someone's life might depend on it.

3 Great Photo Apps

I take a lot of photographs, and I like using different apps to give them special effects. You can do this with an app as you take the picture or in the photo editing process.

Here are 3 of my favorite photo apps.


Hipstamtic is an iTunes cell phone app that's only $1.99. The pictures created with Hipstamatic can be stunning.

With this app, you can shoot pictures with special effects. The description on the website says: "The Hipstamatic for iPhone is an application that brings back the look, feel, unpredictable beauty, and fun of plastic toy cameras from the past."

You can upload your Hipstamatic prints and enter contests. You can order prints online from your Hipstamatic prints, and you can shop the online store for more special effects to add to your app.

Pixlr is an online photo editor that gives your pictures that popular vintage look. This app is free. You can use it without registering, but if you register, you can save your work and templates. The photo editor gives the sepia and black and white tone to pictures and also has frames and borders like the old vintage photographs had. Very cool.

Retro Camera

This one is for those of you with Android OS. This is quite popular and very cool with its special effects. Find out more about it by clicking. It's also free.

Takeaway Truth

Trick out your photos to your heart's content at no or very low cost.

Authors & Their Fave Rave Reviews

Let's talk about book reviews--the kind that make an impression on authors.

Sometimes, we gripe about bad reviews, but we love to celebrate when we get a positive one. Today, I thought I'd profile a dozen authors who talk about reviews.

Celia Yeary

Celia is the author of Charlotte and the Tenderfoot. She loved this review for what she calls her Dime Novel:

"Loved this Kindle download. I am an avid reader, and just loved this story." ~ Margaret A. Bigley, BookSmart

Celia said, "It's more difficult to get a very good review for a 20,000 word story, I think. But this reader made me realize there is a market and wonderful readers. This review was encouraging--loved it!"

Anne Marie Novark

Anne Marie is the author of Midnight My Love, a Regency romance novel dear to her heart. She was thrilled to receive a reader review stating: "Usually, I never take the time to write reviews, however, this novel spoke to me. I appreciated the way the author unraveled the complexity of the hero . . . The author's continuous reinforcement of the heroine's strength while keeping her feminity at the surface was truly extraordinary."

Anne Marie said, "This review meant a lot because, speaking to readers, hoping they "get" your story and characters, is the reason I write in the first place."

Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl told me that after "New York publishing" eight historical novels set in Regency England, she'd lost her love of the regencies because New York wanted sexual titles and sexual premises, and that wasn't what had drawn her to the period.

Cheryl has embraced indie publishing while still selling to New York. Her most recent indie release, His Lordship's Vow, a "sweet" love story, received a review (from KV Kawamoto) that validated what she had been trying to achieve in her indie books.

"Thank you so much for writing a story of ROMANCE. Ms Bolen makes reading about the hero and heroine enjoyable and romantic. She has made them personable and intelligent. . . And thank God, it has none of that erotic sex (or porn), which is so prevalent in the books today."

(Note: The reader makes a good point. There are many readers who don't want hot, steamy sex in their novels. With the rise in hot, steamy romances, publishers stopped acquiring sweet romances, leaving those readers who like their books without spice in reading limbo. There is a HUGE market for these books. Indie publishing can bring traditional Regency romances and contemporary sweet romances to the masses that hunger for them.)

Elaine Raco Chase

This review for Rules of the Game meant a lot because it was written by a 'fella,' and he locked into everything I was trying/hoping to get across as a writer. Loved the fact he said he became my male character!

"Rules of the Game ... is chock-full of silky, sexy, entertainment. Elaine's writing style is expressive, fun, and scintilating. From a male perspective, the synergetic and sensual choreography between Adam and Samantha (she's totally hot, but certainly not arrogant or a pushover) made me feel as though I was literally standing next to them anywhere they were, eagerly watching, eavesdropping...and digging every moment of it. In fact, in my mind as I read along, I WAS Adam. Rules of the Game is an alluring tale, which left me with a smile on my face. I later came back to it again to savor several of my favorite passages one more time. Whew! Is it hot in here...or is it just me? I think it's both me AND Rules of the Game. I would definitely recommend it to all the fellas out there. Special shout out to Elaine for also wonderfully integrating the Wounded Warrior Project into Rules of the Game. Nice touch and a worthy cause." ~ David L. Brown "Sports Writing Maven" (Northeast Ohio)

Pamela S Thibodeaux

Pamela is the author of The Visionary. She took special delight in the review from Michelle Sutton that said, "I was blown away by the realism of the emotion in this novel & impressed with this author's ability. I see this story being effective toward healing the emotional lives of people who have been abused.”

Pamela said: "This is why I write - to bring hope and healing to a hurting world!"

Sheri Cobb South

Sheri is the author of Miss Darby's Duenna. She said, "Even a mixed review can lead to positive results. All About Romance likened my regency romance to "I Love Lucy in historical costume."

"It wasn't entirely a compliment, meaning that the comedy overpowered the romance, at least in the reviewer's opinion. Still, while doing a radio interview the day before a book signing, I mentioned that comparison. The next day, I arrived at the bookstore to do the signing, and was told that people had already been calling that morning, asking how they could buy "that I Love Lucy book!"

Caroline Clemmons

Caroline is the author of Brazos Bride. She was extremely pleased with the following Top Pick review from Barb at Night Owl Reviews.

"I found this book to be very entertaining. I read it in one afternoon because I had to know who was trying to murder Hope, the heroine. Her interaction with Micah and their relationship was the heart of the story. I really got into the story and the characters. The mystery of just who of the many characters were the evil ones kept me reading and turning pages (so to speak) on my Kindle. I was unable to stop reading this book until I finished it. That really says something for the author's plot and cast of characters. I enjoy these types of books, but this one was exceptional. I will be patiently waiting for the stories of Micah's brothers, Zach and Joel. I see the potential for some very good stories following these brothers' lives. Good job in making me want more.

Caroline said, "This is the only review I sought for my indie published book, and it means a lot to me that the reviewer liked it and wanted to read future books about the brothers. This book is the first of a trilogy and I'm currently at work on the second book. I hope she'll also like it."

Jacqueline Seewald

Her new novel Death Legacy will be published April 12, 2012, by Five Star/Gale (hardcover only at this time). You can read the full review in its entirety at Booklist Online.

Jacqueline said, "The review was well-written. I particularly appreciated the concluding sentence."

"Seewald (The Drowning Pool, 2009; The Truth Sleuth, 2011) has written a tale of international intrigue sure to please fans of thrillers and romantic suspense." ~ Shelley Mosley

Bobbie O'Keefe

Bobbie, a romance author, was especially proud of a Publisher's Weekly review of her novel Lone Tree.

The PW reviewer said, "...engrossing tale of family and love with intriguing and well-developed characters."

Bobbie said, "Lone Tree was a family saga built around a romance (or vice-versa) so the reviewer hit it on the head. That was exactly the book and characters I was trying to write."

Gail Lukasik

Gail is the author of The Lost Artist, a new hardcover mystery from Five Star/Gale.

She was relieved to read her review from Kirkus Review that said: "In a departure from her Leigh Girard mysteries (Death's Door, 2009, etc.), Lukasik has crafted a highly intriguing tale loaded with suspense and historic interest."

Gail said, "I had taken a risk and written a stand-alone mystery that diverged not only from my series but also from my usual style of writing. The review from Kirkus gave me confidence to try other writing projects outside my usual comfort zone."

Vijaya Schartz

Vijaya says she is always nervous before the first review of a new book comes out. But when that review finally comes and it’s a 4.5 stars, like in her recent review of Princess of Bretagne, it’s time for her to celebrate.

"Schartz paints a realistic picture of life in a medieval castle, with all its smells, tastes, visuals, and feelings, and as always, all the primary, as well as the secondary characters are well-developed and interesting. I’m looking forward to the others in this series." ~ Roberta, Manic Readers.

Vijaya said, "This review meant even more this time, because this was the very first book in a new series, and historical romantic fiction was a brand new genre for me."

In Conclusion

Often, good reviews give an author motivation to keep writing. I think perhaps readers who post reviews sometimes lose sight of the fact that there's a real live person behind each book. If you get bad reviews, take heart. Name any vastly successful book, and you'll find someone who hated it.

Takeaway Truth

I like to remember what the great Kurt Vonnegut once said, "Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae."

Monday Musings: 3 Dumb Questions

Why is it that when you're really goal-focused and trying to get a project completed, that you make stupid mistakes?

I left my computer glasses at my weekend home. Of course, since this was Easter weekend with lots of company, I didn't have a chance to get to the computer until this morning. After a fruitless hour of searching for my special glasses (I'm blind in one eye and can't see out the other one according to my darling husband.), I was forced to conclude I left my glasses at the other house. That's going to make this week even more difficult!

Why is it that when you're totally bogged down in work that's when the best weather occurs?

Yep. Mother Nature is calling my name. I look outside, and it's beautiful. All my roses are blooming which makes me want to garden. The temperature is perfect--slightly cool with a hint of spring warmth. The sky is robin's egg blue, and everything screams spring.

Where am I? Trapped inside, staring at the fuzzy words on the monitor screen while I try to finish this next book that seems endless.

Why is it that when you have half a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs lying on the kitchen counter that you just can't make yourself throw them away?

I know I shouldn't eat them. I know I'll hate myself after eating just one. I know I should throw them away since none of the neighbors have small children to whom I can give them. I know I shouldn't even be thinking about them because the rationalizations for eating just one are filling my brain with lies.

I'm reminded of what I heard Joel Osteen say once about looking at the chocolate chip cookies and saying: "Get thee behind me, Satan."


1. Continue to persist even it means seeing everything on the monitor as if viewed through the bottom of a vintage Coca Cola bottle.

2. Promise myself an hour of sitting on the patio if I finish early.

3. Stick the candy in the freezer until it gets freezer burn and is so yucky I'm not tempted. Then throw it away.

Takeaway Truth

Are you beset by Monday problems? The only real solution is to quit procrastinating on the work, suck it up, and get moving!


Today is Easter. Christians celebrate the risen Christ. I'm a Christian so I try to live my life according to the tenets of my belief.

Norman Vincent Peale said: "The Gateway to Christianity is not through an intricate labyrinth of dogma, but by a simple belief in the person of Christ."

Be patient. I am not here to preach. Instead, I want to give you some quotations that speak to the power of belief as we mere mortals experience it.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: "Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is."

Goethe also said: "He is dead in this world who has no belief in another."

William James said: "Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact."

Takeaway Truth

Embrace the power of belief. It can work miracles in you and your life.

Review: Unbreak My Heart by Helen Scott Taylor

One of my favorite songs is Unbreak My Heart by the remarkable Toni Braxton. Naturally, when I saw that title on a romance novel, I had to grab it.

I just finished reading Unbreak My Heart by Helen Scott Taylor. The lovely cover of this book is perfect for this sweet romance of unrequited love.

I mean, is there anything that burns as hot and as long as unrequited love? I think not. I've explored that theme in several novels I've written.

Ms. Taylor brings emotional depth to the unfulfilled love between Kate Frost and Andre Le Court, who is the kind of hero every woman wants to find. I've read several romances by Helen Scott Taylor, and I have to say she creates a really good hero who is always more than a pretty face.

Throw in a cute little baby, and you get a romance that's irresistible. This emotional journey of these two lovers is more than meets the eye, and each must grow and change to have a shot at a happily ever after.

Takeaway Truth

If you like sweet romance filled with emotion and charming characters, you'll savor this novel. (By the way, listen to the song to get you in the mood. You'll love Toni Braxton's rendition too.)

5 Product Description Tips

I want to give some quick tips about your book description or Product Description as it's called on Amazon.

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Within the past couple of weeks, I've had requests from 4 authors to critique their book blurbs, and I volunteered to do it for 2 other authors who were concerned about their slow sales.

In all cases, I had not read any of the books so I didn't know what they were about. That's probably a good situation because that way I was objective about whether the product description made me want to read the book.

Here's some advice I gave those authors. You can quickly utilize these tips and see if they work for you.

Points To Remember

1. Carefully arrange or format your Product Description.

When someone reads a book blurb, if they haven't previously read your books, they really don't care what anyone else said about the book. Not at that point. They are only interested in determining whether the book is something they want. They don't care how many accolades you may have. They are only wondering whether they should buy the book.

So, unless you are a NYT or USA Today bestselling author, put all those review quotes and similar information below the part that tells what your book is about. Especially put it below if you are midlist or below in the pecking order or if you are an unknown quantity to most readers.

If you are Jane Doe from Podunk, Texas, and you've never had a book published before anywhere or in any medium, you are unknown. It probably won't matter if you have a quote from Publishers Weekly to put at the top of the blurb. Other writers might buy you out of curiosity, but the vast reading audience of strangers will not.

2. You must grab the browsing book buyer's attention within seconds.

Learn how to write short ad copy using buzz words. I edited the book blurb on Old Enough To Know Better once I got it out of the Prime Select program. I started the copy with "A funny, sexy cougar-licious romance to warm your heart."

I may change that, but for now, that's the marketing hook with which I'm experimenting. I try to use a first sentence that's a log line or a marketing hook or some combination of buzz words because they're a pop culture shortcut that clues the reader in as to what kind of book it is. They get that without reading further. Studies show that most readers make up their minds within a few sentences.

3. Short is better.

Because most readers make up their minds quickly, the faster you can get the necessary information in, the better. Usually this means that shorter is better. My book descriptions look long, but all the necessary info is at the top. If the browsing book buyer is interested, he can read on down and see the accolades, the list of Bonus Features, and contact information for me. I also put in the date of the most recent file upload if I've made any changes or corrections to the file.

4. Tone is important.

I think if you're pushing a romantic comedy, then your book blurb should have at least a mild element of humor. If you're writing mystery, then your blurb should probably not be a laugh fest unless it's a comic mystery. If at all possible, make your tone match your book.

5. Be careful with excerpts.

I've actually decided not to buy books based on the excerpt posted in the book description. Make your excerpt match the category of your book. A romantic comedy should have a matching excerpt. You don't necessarily have to post chapter 1 as an excerpt. Pull out a scene that depicts the kind of book you're selling and use that. That's how the big publishers do it. Remember that scene usually on the flyleaf of many books? That's the kind of excerpt you want.

Don't use an excerpt unless it absolutely knocks your socks off and makes a reader want the book. Until readers care about the characters (and that's by reading from the beginning) they're not going to be interested in a scene that's basically just a prelude to a seduction rather than part of the seduction itself or a prelude to a murder, etc.

Takeaway Truth

Writing ad copy is an art. That's why publishing houses hire Cover Copy Editors. Or they used to. Many still do I suppose. Work on your cover copy. Read hundreds of other book blurbs and sharpen your skills.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.

Get Acquainted With KindleRomanceNovels

If you own a Kindle, chances are you've already found your way to Kindle Romance Novels. I know hardly a day passes that I don't check out the website to see what's new.

Donna Fasano is the guiding force behind this website that brings good books--at a good price--to the attention of readers. Perhaps you know Donna from some of her wonderful romance novels like Return of the Runaway Bride which I'm reading now. (I'll post a review this weekend. Excellent book by the way.)

Donna dropped by this morning to tell us more about her website so please welcome her.

Getting To Know Kindle Romance Novels Website
by Donna Fasano

Are you a romance author looking for a place to promote your work?

Are you a Kindle-owning romance reader in search of good, inexpensive novels?

If you answered yes to either one of these questions…have I got a blog for you!

Kindle Romance Novels is a brand new blog that features inexpensive (sounds so much better than 'cheap' ) romance e-books that have been vetted with a few good reviews. You'll find a wide variety of genres featured on the blog: contemporary, sci-fi, paranormal, historical, western, vampire, fantasy, the list goes on and on. The one thing these books have in common is ROMANCE.

At the moment, we host a morning feature that posts at 7 AM (EST) and a late afternoon feature that posts at 5 PM (EST). But as the blog grows, we may increase the features to three a day.

Boost Rankings

Authors have commented that their Amazon sales ranking improved after being featured on the blog, so readers are noticing (and buying books). And the great comments readers are leaving on the posts are proof that they're enjoying the site as well. The blog is growing fast.

So if you're an author, skip on over to and submit your book.

If you're a romance reader, consider signing up to follow the blog via e-mail so each delicious post will be delivered directly to your mailbox.

We also have a 'sister' page on FaceBook: that we would love for you to follow. And there's a Twitter account too:

See you on the internet!

Takeaway Truth

If you're a romance reader looking for a website with some "accredited good reads," be sure to check out Kindle Romance Novels

Promised Stats On First Ebook

I'm overwhelmed with tax season. I hate leaving it to the last weeks before the deadline, but I had no choice this year.

Last week when I was celebrating the one year anniversary of publishing my first ebook, I promised to post stats for those who are curious. So here's a quick look at sales stats on my first ebook Just One Look.


I haven't added sales at the other outlets, only Kindle, but I'm very pleased with what I found in looking back over the year.

The book went live March 27 and was available for sale on that day on Kindle only.

The lowest number of copies sold in any month was that first month of March with 54 sales logged in those 4 days.

The highest number of copies sold in any month was 13,835 in June.

All total, in 2011, I sold 41,554 copies through Kindle. This book was part of my 3 book contract with French publisher Bragelonne for World French Rights for Print and Ebook. The print edition of the French translation will be out this year.

To my relief, this book continues to sell well as do my other books. By the way, I'd love to sell movie rights to this book. Any producers out there? *G* Email me and I'll put you in touch with my rights agent. She'd be thrilled.

Now if I can get my tax finished, I can get my latest book published to bring my total books to 9--8 romantic comedies and 1 nonfiction. (Oh, and I have a book that's just begging to be written! Sometimes I'd like to clone me.)

Takeaway Truth

Sometimes a little step into the unknown can bring great rewards. Be encouraged to take that step.

Newsflash: Me + A Reader = Interview

At the risk of appearing egocentric, I wanted to direct you to an interview on RG2E I did that was published today.

This interview was conducted by the lovely and talented Alicia Street. Personally, I think she did a great job, but then I might be biased because I like Alicia. She has such a great personality and attitude.

I loved the format of the interview because I was asked to submit a reader's name to participate in the interview with me. I chose Kaye Bennett, one of my enthusiastic readers who has emailed me several times this last year.

Kaye and I fielded questions from Alicia then Kaye asked me some questions of her own, and I asked Kaye some questions from my inquiring mind. I hope you'll read the interview and enjoy it.

Takeaway Truth

Interviews can make a writer nervous, but sometimes they can also be great fun.

No Fool Like An April Fool

I like April Fools' Day. Oh, not because I love practical jokes. In fact, I deplore practical jokes. For the most part, I think they are a way people vent their secret resentment and ire on another. But I'm not talking about people with hidden agendas who play jokes.

I'm talking about the ones kids and the young at heart engage in on the first day of April.

I like this day because it's a neat, unauthorized holiday. Most of us are fools at least part of the time so why not have a day to celebrate foolishness?

According to a Wiki About April Fools Day, the first recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales from the 14th century.

In countries like "Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia, Cyprus, and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an April Fool and taunted April Fool's Day's past and gone, You're the fool for making one."

In other countries from Europe to Asia, and in the U. S., the jokes last all day. So let's celebrate the day with a few good quotations about fools.

This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. ~ Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894

Isn't it appropriate that the month of the tax begins with April Fool's Day and ends with cries of May Day? ~ Anonymous

Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever. ~ Charles Lamb

I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right. ~ Albert Einstein

A fool and his money are soon elected. ~ Will Rogers

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. ~ Elbert Hubbard

A fool and her money are soon courted. ~ Helen Rowland

No one ever found wisdom without also being a fool. Writers, alas, have to be fools in public, while the rest of the human race can cover its tracks. ~ Erica Jong

Takeaway Truth

Take a break and laugh a lot. Happy April Fools' Day.